I Must Be Doing Something Wrong: Hot Moms in Showers, and Demons Among Us

31 01 2008

I enjoy reading blogs about the weird search terms that have lead people to the pages of others. So, here is my own installment. It’s not pretty, and it makes me think I’m not writing about good, wholesome topics. Will I be sorry when my blog is pulled up on my judgment day? Yikes. Maybe I need more blogs that I can tag as religion.

I say this because people are NOT finding my page by searching for the following tags:

“Jesus Loves Me”

“Trying to be a good Dad”

“Work Hard and Be a Nice Person”

Let’s just say I seem to be attracting a different sort of searcher. In the past month, the following internet searches have somehow brought poor souls to my page:

“Banging ex-girlfriends in 2008″ – Why 2008? Is it the official year of boning exes on the Chinese Calender?

“Wolf face” – Ever since I wrote about my experience with a wolf spider, this one has come up several times. Sorry for those of you looking for info on the wolf man. A spider is not quite as exciting. (Makes me think I should make up a blog about how I was lost in the mountains for days until being saved by a guy who was half-wolf…I’ll have to think about that one. Wait, I’ll make it a she-wolf; that should also satisfy some of those who search for things like the next one.)

“Nasty sick mudbath sex video” – To my knowledge, I have no (public) blogs about mudbaths or sex videos, but I’m sure glad you stopped by.

“Giant wieners” – I’m flattered.

“Demons among people” – If I start to get comments from someone named Beelzebub, Brimstone Mommy or Hades Dude, I think I should delete them (unless they are one of my top referrers, of course.)

“My Dad saw me naked – I’m a girl!” – Poor thing. I’m afraid my writing would only further traumatize you.

“What female age groups still wear pantyhose?” – I don’t know, but I’d be fascinated to hear the stats.

“How women should ride on top” – I’m thinking if the person has to search for instructions, they aren’t ready for this type of thing yet.

“Hot Moms being spied on in the shower” – Are you talking about my wife? Must go check bathroom ceiling for spy cams. That last plumber was in there a long time…

To ensure that I continue to get weird searchers to my page, I’m going to add some odd phrases now. Lathered Llamas, intoxicated in a cab and craving donuts, how many people would fit in the average crane, why doesn’t the sun explode already, I have extra fingers, can I buy people on the internet, disturbing video of naked crazy animals, using lettuce as a hat. And lastly, to my loyal wolf face searchers, here you go:





Captain Quirk

30 01 2008

Let it be known that I in NO way believe in or participate in chain letters, dumb email forwards that tell you you’ll make millions if you forward it to just 4,000 of your friends, or signing petitions to try to get Carson Daly off the air. I’m too much of a loner for those types of things. I certainly hate playing phone tag. However, when your own captivating wife tags you, what are you to do but play along?

The rules are:
* link to the person who tagged you
* post the rules on your blog
* share six non-important things/ habits/ quirks about yourself
* tag at least 3 people at the end of the post and link to their blogs
* let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog

1. I am very, very good at remembering things that I need to take with me to work, or to someone’s house, etc. I do this by stopping and going over mental notes about what I might need at my destination. The kicker is that I don’t ever remember to do this until I’m already out the door or in my car. This results in FREQUENT trips back into the house (or office, or wherever I’m leaving). It annoys those around me and myself.

2. I still really like the rock band, Dokken (still around but most popular in the 80s). When a song of theirs comes on my MP3 player, I mention to my daughter that George Lynch is the best guitarist ever. She (being 2) sounds very cute trying to say George Lynch. I’m guessing she’s the only 2-year-old in the world (not related to George Lynch) who says this.

3. I love overnight talk radio if having a bout of insomnia. I keep the radio and headphones very near my side of the bed.

4. I think a good portion of social work/counseling ideas are crap and not realistic. This wouldn’t be so quirky if I wasn’t a mental health counselor myself.

5. I worry about tsunamis when I go on vacation anywhere near the ocean.

6. I worry about really big tsunamis even when not anywhere near the ocean.

I tag the following (I will NOT be removing any of you from my blogroll if you don’t do this blog):

Molly Mac

Romi

Paper Spoons

There are others I like just as much, and if this tag thing ever happens again, you’re next! (Yes, you. Don’t look behind you…I’m talking to you. You, with the keyboard.)





“See Clerk for Receipt” Rage

26 01 2008

I’m not prone to road rage. I have to be the calming one when my wife and I are getting bad service at a restaurant. I can even handle it most of the time if someone in line in front of me at the grocery store is having trouble with their credit card. However, I am having great difficulty staying in a good mood when paying for gas.

Gas Station Companies: Please FIX your broken pumps that will not print out receipts.

Is this happening more frequently everywhere, or just in my area? I am aware that they want us to come inside, praying that we will have an unstoppable urge to also purchase a package of multi-colored drinking straws, but still… There has been an unusually high percentage of gas-tank filling episodes in which I find out at the end that I have to go inside to get the receipt. (My wife is maniacal about keeping track of budgets, receipts, etc. so leaving without it is not a good option). My job involves traveling around seeing kids so I’m usually in between appointments when I stop to get gas. Much of the time, I have just enough time to get there am running a bit late. It is very frustrating to see that message come up on the screen and to have to go inside. The situation gets more horrific when I find out that I have to get in line behind: 1. A guy wearing a wife-beater shirt who is buying cigarettes and 2. A grotesquely overweight person who is buying powdered donuts (and already eating them, thereby leaving a trail of white for me to avoid).

It is important to note that I do not take out my anger on the clerks since I know it’s not their fault. However, I thought this was going to change two days ago when I reached the boiling point. The scene: I am not in a huge hurry this time as my day is coming to an end. However, it is something like 2 degrees outside with a wind chill of 4 billion below 0. I fill my tank while waiting in my car (people from Wisconsin who wear shorts when it’s 2 can make fun of me now). I finish and wait for my receipt. (Picture my wife at home with an abacus and mechanical pencil just waiting for the day’s financial comings and goings in paper form). I am shivering. I can feel my lips freezing, cracking, and falling off. I can no longer feel my arms. Then it happens on the crappy little gas pump display screen: “See clerk for receipt.” (It doesn’t even say “Please” on the read out. Nor does it say, “I’m so sorry that our sign says pay-at-the-pump even though you really can’t.” Nor does it say, “We suck. Come inside.” It’s more of a mocking tone, letting me know that something precious that is rightfully mine is in the hands of the worker inside.)

Well, in this particular instance, I am ready to let the clerk have it. No more mister patient customer.

In retrospect, I’m thinking she (the clerk) saw my facial expression while I was standing at the pump (or possibly when I threw myself to the ground kicking and screaming…or when I stood back up and repeatedly gave the finger in the direction of the pump while yelling @($*W@. An older woman at an adjacent pump quickly began to pray aloud.) Anyway, the clerk was prepared, and I have to give her credit. She acted as follows: The second I walk in the door (even though another weirdo is in the process of buying cigarettes, batteries, tampons, and tuna fish), she immediately apologizes that the receipt did not print. She quickly gives me the dreaded “duplicate outdoor receipt” and with a bright smile proclaims, “I just wanted you to have to come in so I could see you.”

She was lucky I am male. Poof, my anger was magically gone. Duplicate receipt in hand, I headed home happy. I am thinking she would have had much more difficulty appeasing my wife (especially if she had been with me).





Toddler Translations: She Just Wants “Neminems”

23 01 2008

As with any foreign language, it takes some time to pick up the meaning of the sounds uttered by toddlers. Through hard work and diligent research with our own little miracle, I have come to learn the meaning of certain words and phrases. I thought I’d share.

First, I will list the word or phrase that she uses. Then, the real meaning will be revealed.

“Apple Poops” = Corn Pops cereal

“Uh Oh” = I broke something expensive while you were in another room

“I need to go poopy” = I actually already pooped

“I carry you” = You carry me

“The floor is wet” = I peed on the floor

“The floor is yucky” = I vomited on the floor

“WAAHAAAAA!” = You are a bad parent and a moron. How hard is it to figure out what would make me happy?

“I want one more neminems” = I want a whole bunch of M&M’s

“That’s Daddy’s boogers” = That’s Daddy’s face whiskers (5 o’clock shadow)

“You take it” = I have a booger on the end of my finger, and I’m going to place it on your shirt if I can catch you

“I don’t want night-night” = I will scream if you even think about putting me in bed

“I help Daddy cook” = I knock things over and try to get dangerously near the oven

“No…THIS chocolate” = Use chocolate syrup in my milk, not that nutritious chocolate powder stuff

(When being picked up from daycare) “That’s MY Daddy!!” = I love my Dad





Food and Sex: Pure Marketing Genius

19 01 2008

Marketing and advertising, though admittedly garish and annoying, are also fascinating. I remember studying subliminal marketing in college. Supposedly, cigarette smokers are obsessed with fingers and holding objects in them. According to the professor, who was armed with numerous slides, marketers used this in print ads by picturing smokers who had one or more fingers “missing” by having them obscured behind an object, or curled into the palm, etc. I don’t know if this is actually true or if it made people buy more of that brand of cigarette, but it was a more interesting class than World History.

I am more certain of another technique. If you are over the age of 8, you are fully aware that sex sells, and marketers are not at all shy about using it. I find it most interesting when it is used in naming food items.

There are some obvious examples of this and some that are a little more subtle. Here are a few of my favorites:

HoHos. Who thought this was an appropriate name for a snack aimed at kids? Was the brand Floozy Hookers already taken? Someone should start a boycott. I’d do it, but I’m far too busy blogging while watching tennis on tv. (My inspiration for this blog came from allimac. Check it out.)

Bourbon Balls. Now this sounds more like a medical condition than a food. Don’t try to tell me that I am reading too much into the name. They could have just as easily called them bourbon ovals, but no.

Wieners. Please. Can’t we all just call them hot dogs? Actually, it might not be fair to other meats that these particular items are referred to as hot. In today’s society, you don’t want to offend anyone. The poor polish sausages in the meat case might feel unattractive if everyone keeps calling the wieners hot. (I don’t even want to think about the self-esteem issues of cold cuts.) As if the term wiener wasn’t blatant enough, someone thought it would be a good idea to sometimes put the word cocktail in front of it just to add a little more innuendo. Even better, someone else thought there should be foot-long wieners. This is very insensitive. Some guys out there are made to feel very inadequate around these things. Other items that make a guy feel he can’t measure up include: Green Giant, “Big Gulp” sized soft drinks at convenience stores, and LONG john donuts (cream-filled for good measure). While I’m on this subject, it’s just wrong to make a guy say “super size me” or “make mine a whopper” while standing in a busy line at a fast food restaurant.

Donut Holes. That is just plain dirty.

Cheese Nips. Are these snacks more noticeable when it’s cold outside?

Extra Virgin Olive Oil. How does something get to be extra virgin? I’m thinking there is no virgin oil used when making Easy Mac, Wild Cherry Life Savers, or Pop Tarts.

Oh Henry! candy bars. I’m not sure exactly what Henry is doing, but he should write a book so that we can all get such an enthusiastic response.

Lay’s Potato Chips. Sad, just sad. At least their slogan is not, “When is the last time you got LAYed?” (Not yet, anyway.)

Pound Cake. Is this a noun, or a verb?

It could be worse. That candy with the slogan “melts in your mouth, not in your hands” could have been called S & M’s with just one small letter change.





When Women and Men Collide in the Workplace

15 01 2008

(Disclaimer: This blog is not as serious as it sounds in the first couple of paragraphs; read on at your own risk).

Raging debate about women’s equality and their desire to work full time was a significant part of the early to mid 70s. I am (barely) old enough to remember this time, and it seemed, from a kid’s perspective, that people were in an uproar. For example, the television show, One Day at a Time, about a divorced mother of two who was struggling to balance family and career, was widely watched and considered controversial. I liked the show, as did my mom and dad, though my dad seemed uneasy about some of the subjects it tackled. It was representative of the time in which we were living.

I was probably about eight years old and, therefore, had very little say in the matter. Nonetheless, I did not understand what was so radical about these ideas. It seemed simple to me; women should be able to work the same kind of jobs as men (despite the fact that I had the greatest stay-at-home mom in the world).

I still recall mustering up all my kid wisdom and saying to one of my older sisters, “I believe men and women should be equal. Women can go to work if they want.” Her response was something like, “Yes, but women also still want men to take care of them.” This 1970-something statement served as my initiation into the conundrum that is the role of modern man. Ladies, this making sure we treat you as equals but still taking charge when you want us to is a tricky task. It is a lot like juggling with jars of sulfuric acid. Sure, we look like studs when we do it correctly, but when we mess up, we get severely burned. Balancing masculine/feminine duties is daunting. One can get a bit confused trying to talk about the big game with a guy at a store while holding the wife’s purse, a diaper bag and a pink sippy cup, but I digress.

Decades passed, and women are now all over the workplace. I want to say up front that I love and admire women, and it goes without saying that they are excellent workers and have made major contributions. This blog, however, is not so much about the serious debates, contributions, and rights of women as it is the daily life changes to the culture of the workplace since women became so integrated into it.

Some of these feminine changes at the office have been positive. For example, farting contests at work have been decreased dramatically. The workplace smells much better. I venture to guess there were no “Vanilla Nutmeg Forest” candles in offices in the 1950s.

Also, we don’t have to listen to as many “weekend conquest” stories from guys who are habitual liars. With women actually living and breathing at work, it becomes easily apparent which guys are NOT “lady killers.” This keeps the poor saps from even trying to lie anymore.

On the other hand, some changes to the office culture are a little more disturbing. Below are work scenarios and the most likely male and female responses to them.

Scenario 1: There is some sort of weird, low buzzing sound on one side of the office, possibly coming from a computer server or some sort of light. The buzzing is especially close to one particular cubicle.

Male Response: The guy thinks, “Hmm, that’s weird.” Then, he gets used to it in about 45 seconds and never really notices it again. Every once in awhile, a coworker delivers a memo and says, “what’s that buzzing?” The guy says, “What buzzing?”

Female Response: The woman gets very perturbed about the sound and complains about it to coworkers during most lunches and breaks. She asks that a subcommittee be formed to look into the sound, which is “like a freight train.” After nothing is done for a full month, she comes to the conclusion that her cubicle is the one closest to the buzzing because so-and-so colluded with the boss to place her there. She pictures so-and-so and the boss having a good laugh about it behind the closed door of the boss’ office. Henceforth, she no longer includes so-and-so when she forwards emails of various cute babies making cute faces.

Scenario 2: Someone in the office has a birthday.

Male Response: If a man accidentally becomes aware that it is a coworker’s birthday, his response will likely be concise. After slapping the birthday boy on the back, he will say, “45 years old, huh? Get a prescription for Viagra yet?” Then, they go about their day.

Female Response: Once someone (female) is appointed to run the birthday festivities, that person goes around the office asking everyone to chip in a few bucks to pay for the birthday worker’s lunch. Everyone is instructed to meet at Applebee’s (the birthday person’s favorite restaurant) at precisely 11:20 so as to beat the crowd and obtain a large table or booth with ease. Also, a few women huddle in a cubicle to work out who should drive and who should ride with whom. This is very complicated and delicate because Worker B is still angry at Worker F because Worker F did not order any candy bars when Worker B’s kid was selling them for a cheerleader fundraiser. This is especially troubling to Worker B because Worker B bought two tubs of “Extreme Mint Mountain” cookie dough when Worker F’s kid was having a soccer fundraiser. Charts are literally designed to ensure that everyone is comfortable with the riding-to-Applebee’s situation.

Scenario 3: Worker A discovers that his/her paramour used to date one of Worker A’s coworkers.

Male Response: There will likely be cursing and quite possibly a punch or two. Approximately 24 hours later, the two guys become friends and grab a beer at a nearby sports bar.

Female Response: After she severely scolds her boyfriend by phone for ever even thinking about that “fat skank” in a romantic way, she begins an all-out silent treatment against the “skanky” coworker who once went out with her boyfriend. The treatment lasts at least two months and is interrupted only by an occasional email, such as, “Trish, I would appreciate it if you would stop taking all the multi-colored post-its from the supply closet. I am stuck with the yellow ones, and they hurt my eyes. Thanks in advance, Caroline.” This goes on as long as the relationship with the boyfriend lasts. Once that ends, Trish and Caroline become fast allies and spend breaks talking about the various ways in which the boyfriend is inadequate.

Scenario 4: A client calls and tells off Worker A before proclaiming that he is taking his business elsewhere.

Male Response: He throws a paperweight across the room while stating that he is sorry the client “feels this way.” He then gives the “finger” to the phone receiver before hanging up. After a couple of audible “F” bombs, he regroups and decides to try harder with his remaining clients.

Female Response: She acts as though it does not bother her…for awhile. At the ten-minute mark, however, she breaks down in tears by the coffee maker. The other women in the office gather in the break room for support (no doubt after urgent “meet us by the coffee maker/something’s wrong with Trish” emails make the rounds). They remind Trish what a great worker she is. At some point, Trish sobs through her tissue something unrelated to work, such as, “I can’t believe I ate four Oreos last night. I’m supposed to be dieting!” There is agreement all around that Oreos are devilishly irresistible.

The workplace has certainly changed over the years. Despite some of the weirdness, the change was needed. After all, if women have to put up with discrimination and living in a society that has a need for battered women’s shelters, then we still have a long way to go. Plus, they have to wear pantyhose at least some of the time. I suppose guys having to put up with some strange female work culture is not that much of a hardship. You go, girl, and here’s $3 for the next birthday lunch.





Redneck Woman vs. The French Lieutenant’s Woman (Or Apples vs. Oranges)

12 01 2008

Is it just me, or is it a bit farcical how differently we judge song writers and book writers. I realize songs and books are different entities (duh) and that some will no doubt complain that I am comparing apples to oranges or plums or dried apricots, but I still find it intriguing how different the standards are (not counting some of those awful, cheesy romance novels). Let’s take a peek at excerpts from a few popular books, some classic, some recent.

“It was a wrong number that started it, the telephone ringing three times in the dead of night, and the voice on the other end asking for someone he was not.” Paul Auster, City of Glass

“In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly-fishing.”
Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

“Nothing contributes so much to tranquillize the mind as a steady purpose.” Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

“Anything could happen when you were with Jimmy. If he was aware there were rules — in the subway, on the streets, in a movie theater — he never showed it.” Dennis Lehane, Mystic River

“This would be a slow death. Her father was right, she must have been the worst of sinners.” Jonis Agee, The River Wife

“What happened next transpired in seconds. Everything does, if you think about it” Laura Lippman, What the Dead Know

Great stuff. Now, let’s check out some lyrics from popular songs of different genres (with the artist, not necessarily the writer, listed for the sake of easy recognition).

“I’m attracted to ya ’cause you give me love, and sweetheart, Color Me Badd is gonna sex you up.” Color Me Badd, I Wanna Sex You Up

“In a second you’ll be wrapped around my finger
‘Cause I can, cause I can do it better
There’s no other, so when’s it gonna sink in
She’s so stupid, what the hell were you thinking?” Avril Lavigne, Girlfriend

“She can handle any champagne brunch
A bridal shower with Bacardi punch
Jello shooters full of Smirnoff
But tequila makes her clothes fall off.” Joe Nichols, Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off

“Meat-eating orchids forgive no one just yet
Cut myself on Angel Hair and baby’s breath
Broken hymen of your highness I’m left black
Throw down your umbilical noose so I can climb right back.” Nirvana, Heart-Shaped Box

“Everyone’s looking to see if it was you
Everyone wants you to come through
Everyone’s hoping it’ll all work out
Everyone’s waiting they’re holding out.” Loverboy, Working for the Weekend

“Nasty put some clothes on, I told ya
Don’t walk out your house without no clothes on, I told ya.” Destiny’s Child, Nasty Girl

“You see I feel sad when you’re sad
I feel glad when you’re glad
If you only knew what I’m going through
I just can’t smile.” Barry Manilow/Carpenters, Can’t Smile Without You

Before I go any further, let me say that I like these a few of these songs. I know what some of you are thinking. Songs are just about having fun, being in a certain mood, or communicating plain old attitude. I get that; I love music. That said, come on people. Surely we can get some better lyrics without losing the fun and attitude.

Sex you up? This is an excellent example of a “music will have to do until I can get home to watch some porn” song.

Meat eating orchids? This brings to mind that weird kid in high school who liked to say nonsensical stuff because he/she was terrified to actually try to carry on a normal conversation.

Nasty put some clothes on. This one really needs no comment.

The Barry Manilow/Carpenters one? Did the credited writers really write that, or did they raid a stack of 7th grade poems from a teacher’s desk at Our Lady of the Divine Gag Me With a Spoon. Can’t you see a kid asking his dad what rhymes with sad?

I realize there are some really good lyrics out there, but you have to admit the radio dial is filled with drivel. Song writers of the world, I am pointing a finger at you and begging you to at least give an effort. I’m not asking you to hit the ball out of the park every time, but at least quit bunting.

What if our book writers had been allowed to live by the same standards? Would Romeo have said to Juliet, “I’ll take you to the candy shop; I’ll let you lick the lollipop?” Would Little Women instead be titled, Little Hos? Would those famous first lines of A Tale of Two Cities instead read: “It was fun, but it sucked at the same time. Some were smart, but some were just freaking numb nuts. Some people thought there was something to believe in while others were like, umm, I don’t think so.”

Maybe I’m asking too much, but I just don’t want to live in a world where an Anne Rice vampire sequel is called, “Oops, I bit it again.”





Ties Suck (Not the Kind You Wear…Well, Those Do Too)

8 01 2008

I really enjoy working with kids sometimes. Today, after a session of chess with a young teen, we were discussing the strategy involved and how it exercises the brain. We talked about how some professional chess players have matches that last a very long time. The kid said, “I think they can last a week!” After I agreed, we talked about the matches sometimes ending in a “tie.” At this point, the kid said, “That would suck. Playing chess for a week and ending in a tie is like working out for a week and finding out you’re getting fatter instead of stronger.” I whole-heartedly agreed. Man, they keep you young.





How Well-Rounded Are You?

6 01 2008

Don’t misunderstand the title. This is not a ploy disguised as a blog to get women to post their measurements (if you feel you must, I guess I won’t stop you. No guy measurements, please, though my wife might enjoy). Instead, this is a survey. How many of the following 40 things have you done? I’d like to see the answers of others, and feel free to copy this survey.

Have you:

1. Been to a play: Yes, many. This is one of my favorite things to do. I enjoy professional plays, but I also enjoy seeing a high school play once or twice per year at my wife’s alma mater.

2. Bungee jumped or something similar: Only if climbing up on a garage roof is “something similar.” I’m more of mental thrill seeker than a physical one. Sports is probably the closest I ever got to “danger.”

3. Been a mentor/big brother/big sister: Sort of. I do this in my work, but I don’t think I ever did this on a volunteer basis. It’s an awesome thing, though.

4. Read at least one of the classics (War and Peace, The Great Gatsby, The Red Badge of Courage, Beowulf, Crime and Punishment, etc): Yes. Off the top of my head: Beowulf, Wuthering Heights, Gulliver’s Travels, and Macbeth.

5. Stood up for someone publicly: Yes. I remember coming to the aid of a kid who was being bullied a couple of times.

6. Been on a major roller coaster: No thank you.

7. Been to a drive-in movie: Yes, quite a few times. This is one of the best things to do on a nice summer night. They are really dying out so if you have one near it, give it some business.

8. Done something at a drive-in movie other than watch the movie: Sadly, I don’t think so. I guess I like movies too much!

9. Done volunteer work: Yes, but I am ashamed to say that I haven’t really done that much. A few things for church and once delivered Thanksgiving meals to those in need.

10. Given at toast a wedding, a eulogy at a funeral, or some similar, meaningful speech: Yes on the toast, and I think a yes on the eulogy. It wasn’t officially the eulogy, but that’s basically what it was.

11. Been to a major sports playoff game: Yes. St. Louis Cardinals game 1 of NLCS against the Mets (in 2000, I believe.) My Cardinals lost that game and the series :( Also some time in the early 90s, I think, I was at the sweet sixteen regional in St. Louis. I believe the teams involved were Kansas, Indiana, California (Jason Kidd), and Louisville.

12. Thrown a costume or theme party: Yes, my wife and I had a blast hosting several couples for a murder mystery party that had a 50s theme. I recommend this!

13. Been on or near the set of a major motion picture: Nope. I missed my chance in the 80s. A good portion of A League of Their Own was filmed where I grew up. Tom Hanks, etc were there for quite awhile. I never got in on being an extra, though.

14. Taken a compliment well: I think so at some point. This is difficult though, isn’t it?

15. Planted a tree: Yes, about a year ago (a river birch).

16. Been stung by a jellyfish or something similar in/near the ocean: Yes. Jellyfish got me several times on vacation last year. There was a major explosion of them where we were!

17. Quit a crappy job: Yes. I’m not the type to do this without some big-time planning and another job lined up, but I did in the 90s when I just could not stand to set foot in the place anymore. I’ll just generally describe it as an advertising sort of place. The morale and environment sucked there. I stayed way too long (several years). At some point later on, I got myself into grad school to try to avoid this same type of situation again.

18. Been on a blind date: Yes. Mine wasn’t great (probably mostly due to my own shyness), but it wasn’t a nightmare or anything like that.

19. Done something kind and unexpected for a stranger: My wife and I left a greeting card saying something like, “Have a great day” on a parked car one time. Hopefully whoever it was got a smile out of it. (Nowadays, it probably just freaked them out and made them look over their shoulder for the next week.)

20. Had a major surgery: Yep, kidney transplant. I plan to blog about this at some point.

21. Taken a car/truck road trip that covered at least 6 states: Yes. As a child my family drove to the Grand Canyon, which covered at least 6 (may have been 7). My wife and I just missed last year (and will again this year) when we were in 5 states on our way to Hilton Head.

22. Been in 4 or more countries: Nope, just the U.S. for me.

23. Spent New Year’s Eve somewhere special: Well, it’s obviously “special” to be anywhere with someone you love on New Year’s Eve. However, to answer what I think is the spirit of this question, I don’t think I ever have.

24. Visited an ancient landmark: If the Grand Canyon counts. I think it does.

25. Been face to face with a celebrity by chance: Yes. In St. Louis in church, we realized were were a few feet away from Steve Garvey. (For those of you under 35 or not at all into sports, he was a very famous L.A. Dodger who was charismatic and appeared on tv shows, etc). He was friendly and nodded, etc on his way out. It was a few hours before a Cardinals/Dodgers game. Come to think of it, we were in a famous, very old church at the time so maybe this sort of applies to the previous question as well.

26. Given to charity in the past two years: I’m sure we don’t give like we should, but, yes to the Humane Society and to a children’s hospital. (Let’s just say it was NOT an amount that would get anything named after us.)

27. Helped a stray animal: Yes! We possibly saved a cute stray dog and ended up finding the grateful owner a day later. Actually, it was the relative of the owner; the owner was gone on vacation, and the little guy had accidentally gotten out. We found him running down a major street.

28. Dated someone you met online: Yes, once. It didn’t end up being THE relationship, but it wasn’t a bad experience overall.

29. Won money on a long shot: I’ve done the horse races a few times, but I don’t think I ever won on a big long shot.

30. Won your office/family/friends NCAA tournament pool: Yes! That was fun.

31. Won an award/medal (even if something “small”): I received recognition for a short story I wrote in college (it was accepted to a national conference), and I won “Best Sports Writing” award at my small college paper once!

32. Driven a foreign sports car: No. The closest to that for me is riding in (not driving) my brother-in-law’s classic Corvette.

33. Been in the front row for a concert: I think I was for Joan Jett when she played at my college.

34. Attended a symphony orchestra performance: Yes. I enjoy that even though it isn’t the type of music you’d generally find in my cd player.

35. Caught a criminal in the act and did something about it (reported it, smacked them in the head, etc): Other than traffic violations, I don’t think I’ve witnessed anything like this.

36. Sung solo on a stage: Nope. Just school plays as a kid, but I wasn’t solo (thank goodness!)

37. Witnessed something supernatural: I don’t think so. I have a brother who saw a UFO or something weird like it one time a long time ago.

38. Covered for someone (who deserved it) at work: Yes, a great co-worker (and a hard worker) who needed a little nap one time on a third shift job.

39. Overcome a major fear: Sure. See my last blog about the spider.

40. Mailed a surprise care package to a loved one: Yep, my wife has gotten a candy care package in the mail at work a time or two. She has returned the favor as well.

Anyone else care to post answers? I’m curious!

Regarding question 33:





Face to Face with a Wolf Spider: Not Good

2 01 2008

The following is a true story. I wish it were not, and I am risking my very manhood making it public, but it is true. When we moved into our house, we discovered it to be the shelter for a plethora of spiders. I believe this to be the result of two main factors: 1. It was a relatively new neighborhood and had previously been a field. 2. Our particular house was only about a year old when we bought it and had been vacant for a month or so due to the previous owner having to move for her job.

Many a spider had been enjoying the human-free environment, and when we moved in, it became a daily occurrence to have a standoff with one of the eight-leggers. Let me make this clear: I do not like seeing, hearing about, reading about, or having nightmares about spiders. I realize they do good things for us, such as kill unwanted pests, but I prefer they do that just outside of the house or in the crawlspace. Having said this, the majority of the spiders we came across were small and looked pretty harmless. Yeah, “most” but not “all.”

For those of you who are not aware of the wolf spider, think tarantula but smaller (not THAT much smaller, though). We had the misfortune of finding a couple of these suckers in our house the first couple of months. The story below is about the dark, early morning that we had our closest call with one of these things. (I’ll say this right now. I’m the type of person that does not really like to kill things, even flies, but…sorry PETA…I’m not letting large spiders run around in our house, nor am I likely to be able to stand trapping it and putting it outside).

My wife likes to work out. She does not often miss a day, not even on a holiday, not even when she has to get up in the extreme a.m. during the overtime hours of tax season (she’s an accountant). One dark, early morning, as I no doubt lay snoozing in bed, possibly having a dream that involved a deserted island and that main woman from Lost, I was startled awake by a frantic wife jumping into bed and yelling something about a big hairy spider on the floor of the closet. Upon gaining full comprehension, I learned that it was a wolf spider “the size of Texas” and that it was actually on top of her workout shirt, which was on the floor.

At this point, I’m thinking to myself, “That’s it. We have to move away. NOW.” It soon became clear that my beautiful wife expected me to do something about the spider. Subsequently, it became clear to her that I had no intention of going anywhere near our closet in the next 24 hours or so.

If you are a guy, or you know any guy, you’ll understand how brilliant her next move was. She calmly stated, “I can call my dad to come over and get it.” It took only seconds for the following thoughts to enter my mind: For the rest of my life, I’ll have to hear the story of how my wife had to wake her dad at 5 a.m. to come kill a spider while her husband hid under the covers. This is the dad who works a real man’s job and hunts. I’m the husband who likes to write and works in psychology. (I do play sports…I felt a real need to throw that in here).

At this point, I had no choice. I was going to have to face one of my worst fears. I slowly got up out of bed and peeked into the closet. There it was. It was big; it was gross; it was staring at me in a mocking fashion, it was basically saying, “I’m huge, and you’re a loser.” My pulse quickened, and I began to sweat. I started thinking maybe we SHOULD call her dad. Maybe we could just avoid all extended family functions in the future. No, that wouldn’t work. I knew I had to take care of the situation. With my wife clutching my back and looking over my shoulder, I picked up a shoe. I was suddenly wishing I had much bigger feet, maybe a size 50, but alas, I was stuck with a size 10. I approached the spider about as fast as a turtle approaches a rock. I walked (or was it that my wife pushed me) closer and closer. I was within a couple feet of the thing when my wife felt it prudent to scream, “It’s a wolf spider. They jump!” Adrenaline pumping, we both flew out of the closet. I nearly broke my arm on the doorway, but I didn’t care. I was sure the spider could do much worse things than that to me. Her screaming, and our running also caused the spider to take cover in the deep recesses of the closet. Once we regained the nerve to go back in, we were deeply saddened to learn that we were going to have to search for the spider.

After some tense shoe box moving, we finally found it in a corner. The whole “jumping” thing had thoroughly freaked me out, and I was no longer willing to go at the thing with a shoe. I was now armed with the extension arm of the vacuum cleaner. This way, I only had to get within a couple feet of the monster. I also was happy to avoid hearing any form of crunching sound that may have occurred if I used the shoe method. With a shaky hand, I turned on the vacuum and jabbed the extension arm toward the creature. After we sucked the thing up, (I think my wife screamed again at this point), we actually put the whole vacuum cleaner out in the garage, fearing that the thing might escape somehow. I believe it was out there for three days before I brought it back in.

So far, we have had no further (knock on wood) close encounters of the giant spider kind. I apologize in advance, but below is a picture link of one of these guys on top of someone’s hands, someone who is obviously very mentally ill.

Yuck








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