My parents have just about got all the kids out of the house. We have been replaced by dogs. I don't doubt that the dogs are more well behaved than we ever were...

You know the great irony of the picture above? The golden retriever in the middle isn't even our dog. She belongs to the neighbors, but has taken to sitting on the bench with my folks.


The Best Worst Date Ever!

I was at a party the other night listening to a woman my own age describing what is perhaps the worst date of which I have ever heard. It had everything: lack of manners, inappropriate comments, disgusting revelations, and the whole gamut of deplorable behaviors sometimes exhibited by my gender. I was honestly appalled that anything like that could happen. While I'd love to recount the experience, I certainly wouldn't do it justice, and I don't think I could finish this post before I collapsed into fits of laughter.

So instead, I can describe the worst date to which I have every subjected anyone...

I had been eyeing this girl most of the summer. In retrospect, my advances were CLEARLY unrequited, but I was blissfully oblivious. So, in August, I asked her out, and planned, in great detail, an evening to remember. The date even coincided with my 24th birthday.

Hence begins an infamous evening. First off, I arrived at the door with flowers (yes, a bit much for a first date, I know.) We then took off to this wonderful little Italian bistro recommended to me. As we approached the intersection nearest the restaurant, my wonderfully vintage 1985 Mercedes (eg., old) began to sputter and lurch unexpectedly, dying at the stop light. I said a quick prayer, willing my car to NOT die on this evening of all evenings. The car started back up, but as I begin the turn into the parking lot, it gave up again, this time entirely.

Clearly flustered and baffled, the date and I did a "Chinese fire drill", where she ended up in the driver's seat, and I ended up in the back, pushing. Outfitted in my finest "smart casual" clothing I strained against the weight of 2 tons of German over-engineering as she guided the car about 50 yards, past the restaurant, to the parking lot in the rear. Sounds embarrassing, doesn't it? Well, now consider that the restaurant offered wide expanse of cozy patio seating, and I was actually pushing my vintage car past about 20 diners in various stages of dinner.

I was determined to not let the car troubles ruin the evening; we went into the restaurant and had a relatively enjoyable meal with the typical level of awkward first date conversation. Throughout dinner, I had been praying that the car would start working again, and my prayers were answered about an hour later. At this point, you might think that I would take the hint that the night was not to be, but instead, I a soldiered on with post dinner plans. What I didn't count on, though, was that my car would again die, about 3 blocks from my house, in the busiest intersection of my college town.

This time, three guys took sympathy on me rushed into the street to push my car into a nearby parking lot. Finally resigning my car to its non-functioning state, I searched the car frantically for my cell phone, but then remembered that I hadn't brought it! I had been so petrified of committing that most grievous of date sins by using my cell phone, that I had left it at home. (Yes, this was a moment of brilliance on my part.) So, we went into Ruby Tuesday's where I explained that no, I didn't need a table, just to use their phone.

I called my apartment. My roommate came and picked us up (thank goodness he was home!) We drove back to her house, me in the back, and her in the passenger seat. At this point, I think she took pity on me, because she volunteered to go back to my place and watch a movie. So, we sat, and watched, on two separate sides of the couch, Ocean's 11. I definitely was not channeling the rat pack that night. At the end of the movie, I walked her down to her car where we shared an awkward hug. And, despite it all, despite the fact that fate had clearly spoken ... I asked if I could see her again.


No spoilers here!

So, I just finished the latest Harry Potter book. Yes, I know it's 6:00 am on Friday morning. Yes, I have been up all night reading. I delayed as long as I could, but on Wednesday, when I walked into Sam's club and saw pallets and pallets of the books, I impulsively threw one into my cart. Then, that night, at about 11:00, I started to read -- and was so engrossed that I just didn't feel sleepy. So, I read through the night, went to work, came home, and picked the book up again around 8 hours ago. (About 50 pages an hour, I guess.)

I have to admit that my insatiable desire to finished the book was not fueled so much by it's shear literary value, but because I simply had to know what was going to happen. Now, don't take that to mean that I don't enjoy the novels on their face, but they are children/young adult books, after all. I find myself so enamored with the completeness and creativity of the world created by Rowling. And, her message is frequently quite pertinent: "Those who are best suited to power are those that have never sought it."

Now, I'm going to bed.


Wooter's Remorse

Do you Woot? I woot. A lot.

In case you weren't aware, woot is a website that sells one item per day, every day. Every midnight (PST), a new item is listed for sale. When that item sells out, there's nothing to buy until the next day at midnight. You're thinking to yourself, what's the point of that? Well, the items are usually heavily discounted, frequently some piece of technology, and everything ships for $5.00, even 200 pound HDTVs. It's an ingenious scheme on so many levels; from the pithy and hilarious product descriptions, to the weekly Photoshop contest.

Frankly, I don't know why I'm drawn to it, but I'm an addict. I'm conditioned so that every night at 11:00 pm (I'm in MST) , I feel this need to go online and check tonight's Woot. Frequently, items will sell out in a matter of seconds, while some crap never does. Because you never know what tonight's woot will be, and if it will be in high demand, you feel compelled to be right there at the computer, clicking refresh until the next tantalizing item is listed.

I really shouldn't like woot. It promotes, and is even modeled on, everything I hate about consumerism. They count on our appetite for the latest and greatest gadgets, and they rely on the fact that most people will buy something they really don't need as long as it's cheap enough and there's a pretense of scarcity.

As a result of my bizzare woot compulsion, I am also frequently a victim of wooter's remorse. This happens after you buy a woot, and you realize that you don't really need, want, or have room for whatever the thing is.

Of the 20 item's I've bought from woot in the last 2 years, here are some of the worst:

Yes, I actually bought three of these things. It's called a leak frog. I grew up in a house where interior flooding always seemed imminent due to bitterly cold winters, malfunctioning toilets, or overflowing water softeners. It never occurred to me that these conditions weren't universal to all homes, but that we were the victim of DIY plumbing. Plus, the red eyes just look creepy.

I bought one of these things on the left. It's a combination vacuum mop thingy. I hate mopping because of the time it takes to do it right. This gadget did not help. It mostly squirts watery floor cleaner about.

I bought 2 pair of these headphones. I honestly thought that I didn't care that much about color, I just wanted some behind the ear headphones. Well, it turns out I do care about color. Lime green is just not a suitable color for most things. These headphones scream "Star Trek Nerd" in a place where you might just see a spandex wearing hottie.

So, this is really a partial list. I probably didn't really need half of the stuff I've bought on Woot.
And my latest woot? A GPS for the car. I get lost ALL the time, so this should be a good purchase.



This was my fortune from the local Chinese place a few days ago when we went out to lunch. I'm ashamed to admit it, but it excited me a little. (As the only single guy in the office, it also got a lot of laughs.)

It also made me think of how eager we are for some sense of fortune in our lives. Disregarding the obvious religious implications, I think that we want to believe that we're a cog in a larger machine, working towards something amazing as part of a master plan. I think that's why we're so enamored by fortunes and horoscopes, because we want them to be true; we're enamored by kismet and karma.

It may seem utterly preposterous to give more than a seconds' thought to something like this fortune, but I'll freely admit that I did. And I don't think it's a bad thing at all, because everyone sees in their fortune what it is that they want to see -- the things they most want out of life, and the fortune can give them hope, which may just be the catalyst that they need to get to work. That's really what it's all about, I think, our sense of fortune helps us keep motivated, so that we're ready whenever our ship decides to come in.


Funny things I've heard lately...

People say things all the time that are inadvertently funny. Here are some things I've overheard lately:
  • "Our ward is doing a service project tomorrow; we're painting homes for the homeless."
  • "Yeah, my relationship with the this girl is still new and exciting, kind of like my iPhone. People say, 'oh wow, you have an iPhone. Can I see it?'"
  • "Why is this called 'Better than Sex' cake? ... I'll admit that it's good cake, but I have to wonder if someone had a bad experience." (Accidentally said to the person that made the cake.)


Power Outage...

When I got home from the movie Friday night, my garage door wouldn't open. I nearly shook the opener into oblivion trying to get the last ounce of juice out of it before I noticed that the street light across the way was dim, and every single light in my house was out. Sometimes my powers of deduction amaze even myself.

This was the first power outage in my new home, and believe it or not, I was prepared! I knew where to find my headlamp, and I had some candles near the fireplace. I even cooked a late snack on the grill; yes, the same stainless steel, 80,000 BTU monstrosity that I just "had to have" when I moved into the new place.

Because it was already late evening when I arrived, the outage was hardly an inconvenience. I enjoyed the flickering candlelight and the sudden stillness of my little slice of suburbia. I went out to the backyard and looked up into the sky, where the stars were so readily visible that I was almost surprised. The surrounding communities all had their power, so the night sky to the north and south had the tell-tale yellow glow of civilization. It seemed decidedly out of place, particularly as I reached down to feel the twinkling dew that was starting to precipitate onto the backyard grass.

Eventually the moment wore off, and I decided to just go to bed, since there isn't much to do when the power's out. (As my roommate noted every time he flipped a light switch and nothing happened.) Lately I've had this sore muscle between my shoulders blades -- which started to ache with fatigue just as I laid down for bed. In response, I stumbled into the bathroom and located the tube of mentholated icy/hot cream which I'd come to love. I rubbed into onto the base of my neck, my nostrils filling with that familiar minty/old folks home scent. I laid myself back down and anxiously waited for the cooling sensation that I knew was coming.

But nothing ever happened... I had rubbed Colgate Extra Whitening on my back.


Make believe

As a child, I played "make believe" a lot. We constructed forts out of sofa cushions, an imaginary jail between the large rocks in the front yard, and the playground equipment at elementary school made a more than suitable space ship. Occasionally, I'd even play "house" with my siblings. One of my sisters was the mom who stayed home and cooked Fisher Price hot dogs on the Fisher Price range, while one of the boys would play dad and go off to pretend work, while the other brother and sister played children or some miscellaneous robber. (This was a simpler time -- we weren't concerned with gender politics.)

Now that I'm grown, and actually have a job, it's strikes me how disturbingly similar it is to the make believe employment I had as an eight-year old. Today, for example, I got a call from someone who needed a report on the work I had just barely starting doing. He needed a time-cost estimate and an outline of how I was going to do the thing that I didn't know how to do. I didn't bother explaining my situation to him, since his request clearly illustrated that he had no idea what was going on either. At the conclusion of the phone call, I pondered exactly what to do...

This, ladies and gentlemen, is where my experience with "make believe" comes in. I then spent the next two hours writing a document that describes, in varying degrees of obfuscation and vagueness, how long it would take me to do something that I really don't know how to do. The great irony of all this is that the requester of this document is also pretending he knows what is going on, and it's his job to convince the customer that both of us know what we're doing. I understand he's pretty good at it.

I guess all that make believe paid off.



I have a little hide-a-key box that I use in case I get locked out. It's quite convenient, but there's one thing about it that makes no sense to me:

Why does the "Hide-A-Key" box have a picture of a key on it? If you're the one who hid it, aren't you going to remember that there is a key contained inside? Do most people have dozens of little metal boxes scattered around their yard so that they need to label the one that contains the key? Furthermore, isn't the picture just going to make it easier from someone other than yourself to identify the contents of the box?

Am I the only one who has thought of this?


Citation needed...

In the interest of full disclosure, and in case I ever elect to return to academia, I must dutifully report that I did not coin the term "Cankle". Though it might have been invented by others still, my usage of the term derives from a series of discussions with Melissa and Stef regarding the adsurd size and color of my post-Havasupai ankle. I hope we can all move on from this small incident of blogish plagariasm towards the greater good.

Save me from my garden!

I have visions of tomato plants engulfing me in my sleep. Its terrifying. I only planted 6. Three grape tomato plants and three regular tomato plants. They're huge! And they're totally harassing the yellow peppers. They've pulled their cages right out of the ground like Frankensteinian monsters that have finally broken their restraints and are now going to rampage through my neat furrows of peppers, herbs, and carrots.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the garden, the squash is threatening both the corn and the zucchini. If this were World War Two, the squash would be Nazi Germany, slowing gathering strength and encroaching on adjacent countries until it decides to launch it's blitzkrieg attack on the neighboring plants. This morning I launched a counteroffensive with my pruners. Damn it, I'm not letting the squash take Czechoslovakia or Poland!


Flight of the Conchords...

Want to waste 30 minutes of your workday? Then check this out: it's a couple of guys from New Zealand that have a musical comedy act. It's somewhat like Tenacious D, but funnier and much more musically impressive. Anyway, this is a 30 minute sketch. They also apparently have a show on HBO, which it probably just as hilarious.

The Hierarchy of Towels

My roommate gave me the evil eye the other day for drying my hands with the dishtowel. I didn't know we had dishtowels and was also unaware they were different from the hand towels. Apparently neither are appropriate for wiping off the counter. I wish someone had explained this to me earlier -- In my simple mind, I had basically lumped all towels into two categories -- bath towels and kitchen towels. I figured their differing sizes and softness were merely functions of how large a thing you needed to dry and how much chaffing you were willing to endure. My mom probably tried to explain the difference to me ages ago, but somewhere between calculus and the lines from Top Gun, I forgot.

So, in lieu of the proper towels, I basically had an informal hierarchy of towels that related to their perceived cleanliness. The cleanest towels were hand towels, and in a pinch, they could be used as dish towels. Eventually the hand towel became a bona fide dish towel, which eventually morphed into a counter wiping towel, and finally, a sink and floor wiping towel -- after which they would be washed and the cycle began again.

In case you're wondering, men have a similar hierarchy for clothes. The cleanest clothes are for church, funerals, and other formal events, next is work meetings, followed closely by dates and then down to Saturday attire. Yes, it's said but true. Don't believe me? I cite Ghostbusters as corroborating evidence:

Peter Venkman: "Did you happen to see some shirts on the floor in here?"

Dana: "I put them in your hamper. I thought they were dirty."

Peter <shakes head>: "I have a hamper? I have more than two grades of laundry. There are lots of subtle levels between clean and dirty. <Lifts shirt out of hamper and smells it.> See, this isn't so bad, just hang it out the window and it'll be fine."



I have a cankle (calf + ankle = cankle). It happened about 1000 yards from the campground at Havasupai. I was 10 miles into a 10.5 mile hike through a canyon on the southern rim of the Grand Canyon with 40 pounds of camping gear on my back, when I took one wrong step and rolled my left ankle. The irony is dizzying. Sometimes I think my cankle is mocking me.

Once your laughter has subsided, check out my album of Havasupai photos. Even considering the cankle, it was one of the most amazing places I have ever been.