Saturday, July 3, 2010

Missouri Mosquitoes take a toll

You know I have been a pretty good transplanted Missourian. I have tried to fit in and live a pretty unremarkable and decent life. I have gone out of my way to NOT feed the hillbillies or pick the state flower off trees (White Hawthorne Blossom). I do not complain about the weather, despite my undisputed legitimate right , when the temperature drops 50 degrees in a single day. So why must I endure the indignity of endless blood sucking by these relentless Missouri mosquitoes (M&M’s)?

In California, M&M’s were for eating not for slapping and scratching. In fact mosquitoes were practically non-existent within 10 miles of the ocean. In Missouri, they seem to travel in marauding gangs that hover ceaselessly looking to sample my life juice. Hey I know the only mosquitoes biting me are females, but why can’t I be this attractive to women of my own species? You’d think I WAS the mosquito as many times as human girls have told me to buzz off.

With literally a million different types of insects to ‘bug’ and only fifty four hundred or so species of mammals in the world, why must Missouri mosquitoes focus so much on me. Is my milky slab of flab so enticing that those Ozark ‘fly-by-biters’ find me totally irresistible, and ready to probe freely without remorse? I thought usually that kind of thing only went on in prisons - not out in the open in a suburban backyard.

So now you name it; in-between my poor knuckles, the backs of my knees, the tops of my ears – I’ve been violated mercilessly everywhere, by these stealthy skeeters. If these little flying freaks are so head up for a carbon dioxide fix, why not just dive into a Diet Coke and suck-up a bender on a bounty of bubbles? I know that in reality, the M&M’s, like everyone after a dose of diuretics, are just answering nature’s call. With my trusty ‘skeeter-squisher’ in hand, I too must answer the call to duty – but MY response will surely exact a far costlier toll!

The Luxuries of Laundry

What’s the deal with all of this luxurious stuff required to do laundry now days? I rolled in an overloaded hamper into the laundry room and was faced with a cabinet full of sprays, detergents, brushes and those irritating sorting bins. I cannot believe all this is necessary to get the stink out of clothes. How do people who live under bridges or in cardboard boxes handle such chores?

Do you think our ancient ancestors put up with all of this processing and these intricate procedures to prepare their loin cloths for quality time with a rock in the river? I honestly doubt it. As I recall, whenever I’ve ventured to antique shops, all that was required was a tin tub and a washboard. Even the more modern washing machines simply had a motor, pulley, and an impeller to slosh the clothes around – what else do you need?

We have spray that specifically attacks stains, little bottles to preserve colors, big bottles to supposedly wash the clothes, bleach for whites, and some kind of conditioner packets. After the clothes go for a swim, then they get to tumble around in the heat, like a day at the beach, with some anti static sheets. Eventually the duds will finally find their way racked on hangers of every size, shape, color, and configuration.

Sometimes I wonder if those homeless folks are on to something with their simple, no frills lifestyle. I’m fairly capable at walking around with a month’s worth of grime ground into my clothes. Just think of all the water I could save if I did all my wash in a local city fountain. I could sort my vast wardrobe of socks and overcoats using sturdy chrome shopping carts instead of those flimsy plastic baskets we use now. And even if I can’t quite get all the 'ripe', street-people ardor washed out, you know the drying will really be top notch. After-all, when your homeless, hanging around stinky is the ONE THING you’re pretty darn good at.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Cone to Cream Paradox

Though my wife ‘T’ is not particularly infatuated with ice cream, she does love a good Sugar Cone. Since those cones have no tops, they aren’t much good for gun powder so the wife ends up with Breyer’s Vanilla ice cream on top instead. If she is going to take in the calories, no other brand or flavor is an adequate substitute.

Now my kid on the other hand has a preference for those regular flat-bottom cake cones but she prefers any kind of ice cream EXCEPT vanilla. Since I am more from the ‘tar pit’ edge of history, I possess many mammoth qualities in addition to the prerequisite sticky pits. So I live by the rule that I will eat just about ANYTHING that is smaller than I am and does not gag on me as a hot appetizer first.

So goes the paradox. My freezer can barely hold another bag of frozen peas, much less ten kinds of ice cream. All this flavored ice cream real estate is kind of cramping my freezer’s tater-tot to pizza roll reserve ratio. I have room in the cupboard for both styles of cones, but all that protective crush-proof packaging is very bulky. The Cream of Wheat remains loyal, but it has heard rumors and rumblings from the cold cereals of a possible mutiny if things don’t change soon. I clearly need a combo Cream n’ Cone solution and fast.

I really think I am creative enough to solve this problem. Aren’t both types of cones REALLY made out of sugar anyway? I’m sure the cake cups must have sugar in them or they would be tasteless like cardboard – oh wait, THEY ARE! Ok then, let’s start off easier and check the refrigerator to try to dress-up that plain vanilla ice cream into something special for the kid. Hmmm, I’ve got pepperoni, jalepenos, dill pickles, leftover tater-tots – for some reason I’m feeling this combo is leaning more towards a pizza than my creamy iced-treat goal?

Oh forget it, I’ll just have to acquire a second freezer for my tots, peas, and party snacks. Let those picky specialty brands of flavored creams and cones keep the other ice-box all to themselves. I learned that problem-solving technique from our politicians. “There is never a problem of our own making that is too big to tackle, or too small to ignore.” Of course, the REAL paradox is getting someone ELSE to handle the problem for you, and then most importantly, pay for it, no matter what the cost, with THEIR OWN MONEY! Gee I wonder who will loan me a couple of million bucks for a big variety of ice cream, cones, and a really GOOD freezer?

'HIGH FIVE' reasons Ozzy's still alive

Although 61 years is not really a record-breaking age to live to anymore, it isn’t bad for a rock-head like John “Ozzy” Osbourne. I don’t think personal longevity is one of the pre-conditions when auditioning for a heavy metal band like Black Sabbath. I mean all the occult stuff, hard booze, drugs, and oh yeah, biting the head off of an occasional bat (The furry flyer kind not the wood baseball ones), usually leads one to a reduced lifespan or at best - rabies.

So since ‘Ozzy O’ has beaten the odds so far, in his foggy and muddled mind, he got the fun idea to hook up with a genome mapping company to find out what makes his DNA tick. Being British and never pale to ale, little did Ozzy know, when the DNA folks asked him to share a pint, they actually meant , a pint of his BLOOD. This should finally dispel the age old myth and definitely prove, you CAN get blood from a turnip.

So CLICK HERE to see a more detailed video summary of the ground-breaking DNA gene science and research expectations from a bag of broken-down Osbourne hemoglobin. Or just skip the egghead explanation and go with my ‘High Five’ reasons Ozzy’s main blood supply is still in ‘circulation’ even if his brain isn’t. Enjoy . . .

1) Ozzy is the poster boy for why ancient Egyptians removed the brain BEFORE mummification

2) Osbourne is the last living model for ‘Hippie-style’ John Lennon sunglasses

3) He is the last U.L. approved test monkey for aggressive shock-treatment centered speech therapy

4) Official hair extension donor for cousin ’IT’ and Lindsay Lohan

5) National ‘spokes-squid’ for the powerful union “Inked Brotherhood of human Cephalopods”

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Dirty Work Sacrifice

Can somebody explain to me the science behind, why my house and windows get so filthy all of the time. This dump is like having a little baby again that needs to be pampered and preened every day. Actually, just like when I had a baby, I don’t even care if they TRULY are dirty, as long as it doesn’t show to the casual observer.

I especially hate working on the computer in the early morning when magically the sun will come up and scare me. No I am not a vampire, though as a blogger the similarity can be confusing; it’s just the rising sun at an acute angle, hits the windows just right. This of course, while signaling my primal need for caffeine, also dramatically highlights the rivulets of dirt, grime, and bird strikes on my home’s wall of windows.

I know I sound like a royal whiner but you have to understand, to remedy my castle’s need for clean crenulations – well it requires a lot of work. I will have to push the special doorbell that I installed into my daughter’s dungeon suite so that she will come out when I need her. I will have to show her where the soap, ladder, catapult, and pressure washer is. Then I may have to wait upwards of a WHOLE FORTNIGHT to finally receive ‘instant gratification’ that only sparkling parapet windows and siding can provide.

Lest you forget, I am from the dark underbelly of medieval society that forages for ideas and humorous asides from other people’s leavings, leftovers, and misfortunes. I don’t actually DO anything – I’m kind of like that irritating reminder of yesterday’s gruel left on your table plates - AFTER they’ve been cycled in the dishwasher. I hang-on long enough to needle YOU into action, but escape your ‘fingernail justice’ just-in-time with a light rinse under the tap. Yeah like my windows, it’s dirty work. But I'm happy to sacrifice myself (or more appropriately my kid), in the name of science and have the chance, to cleanly live-on to WRITE another day!

Pitch a Chip Fit

Maybe more than most people I like spicy snack chips. Yeah a lot of humans can’t get enough ice cream , cakes or cookies, but you can keep all that sweet stuff. I need my salted triangles, flat pepper crackers, and crunchy ‘hot’chips. But just because of that fact, the people at Doritos should not take advantage of my indiscriminate spicy-liking, yet ‘chipper’ nature with their clever packaging.

Now the problem is that the Frito Lay folks have decided to start marketing bags of all kinds of weird flavored chips. Most tend to be acceptable combinations of spicy salsa flavors like Habanero n’ Cheese or Chili and Lime and they all are in excitingly colorful red bags. However, I found a flavor variety this week with Japanese written on a yellow-green bag. The name on this new mystery chip was simply, “Doritos, Mr. Dragon’s Fire Chips”.

Now I don’t know about you, but that sounds PRETTY GOOD to me! I mean “fire chips” and a DRAGON on the SAME package? You cannot get a much better representation of a hot, spicy, and salty snack chip than that. It looked like a bag of fireworks so I fell instantly in true love! The only problem is that it has been more than 25 years since I studied Japanese, so I could not remember the meaning of the Japanese writing on the package. All I knew was since it was Katakana, it HAD to be a Japanese attempt at a phonetic translation of a foreign descriptive word like “Crunchy or Jumbo” – well you get the idea.

So I get this curious green Doritos bag home and of course I have to dive right into the contents. I was on a mission to see what rare flavor treat this “dragon fire chip” had in store for me. The smell alone wafting from the open package gave it away. But once that golden chip with the unique and very green flavor dust hit my tongue, I instantly remembered what the three syllable Katakana word on the packaging said – WA-SA-BI!

Yes that nasty and brutally hot sushi mustard, Wasabi had tainted my lips and worse yet the WHOLE 12 ounces of my $4 bag of chips! What have I done to Frito Lay to deserve such treatment? I am a loyal customer, willing to risk my own health and financial security to eat their pricey, heart-stopping products. Heck I am even dumb enough to fall in love with their pretty green packaging even if the critically important main flavor ingredient is written in a foreign language.

So needless to say I was not happy and half a mind to pitch a fit AND those chips to the wind. But a cool head prevailed and I thought better of it. Whatever my daughter’s friends won’t eat, I will RECYCLE the rest as organic ‘mustardy-mulch’ around the garden. Then, not only will I truly be going GREEN, but as soon as it gets dark, our pesky raccoon moochers will be too!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Devil’s spread

What’s the big secret behind the magic of Underwood’s ‘deviled’ ham? I mean anyone with a fork and a sense of mischief can squish, stir, and screw up meaty goo into an unrecognizable mash can’t they? Supposedly this stuff is the oldest food process still in use today, since ol’ Billy Underwood finally got off the pot and secured the 82nd patent for it in 1870.

I have had the pleasure of smearing a few dabs of Underwood’s Deviled Ham on some white bread and there is no doubt it IS GOOD. But honestly, is there really ham in there because all I know for sure is that there is some yellowish liquid grease that floats to the top. The hammy taste is sharp and fizzy to the tongue and best served warm since it coagulates to a pink tasteless paste when cold.

The idea of ‘deviling’ something means it has to have a ‘kick’ or spicy taste to it. So I guess somebody who has close ties to the aging devil’s intestinal fortitude, knows how he needs his ham prepared? I don’t think the Devil has reliably sharp teeth any longer since deviled ham can be sucked up through a straw if need be. I guess the poor horny one’s innards and working parts are full of Maalox and way past their prime now.

So I have a GUT feeling that it’s the SPECIAL processing that’s the big secret behind the Devil’s perfect luncheon spread? Since I am dubious about the TRUE origins of deviled ham though, I still prefer to leave the deviling to eggs. Yes I like my food products squeezed out of plump, free-range chickens rather than settling for the Devil’s intestinal burnt offerings . . . often found under wood.

UN-intelligent Design

Today in Missouri we really had perfect weather. Now perfect can mean a lot of things to a lot of people, but I really mean PERFECT no matter what weather language you speak. You know those days – low humidity, blue sky and the sun’s shining a comfortable 80 degrees with a few puffy cotton balls floating around posing as clouds.

Why can’t everyday be like that? I really enjoy the rain and on a rare occasion even a snowflake or two, but mostly I love those gorgeous sunny days. The truth is that when I lived in California, I took them for granted. Yeah they were admittedly more hazy than a real PERFECT day, but they still were pretty close. If you have great weather all the time, you forget what it is that you love about it and after awhile you almost grow to dislike it because it never varies.

Since thunderstorms are rare in Southern California, I really loved it when I came to the Midwest and they form weekly if not daily sometimes. Now that I see thunderstorms so often, I just take them for granted too. Slowly, if I live here long enough, I am sure I will start to complain about all the inconvenience of thunder and lightning too. I’m smart right? Why don’t I design and organize the weather?

I need to live in a place that on Mondays , Fridays, and Saturday’s it is perfectly sunny and not too hot or humid. Then on Tuesdays and Thursdays – those days are reserved for rain and thunder events. Sundays, well as long as it all melted by Monday morning, and I did not have to shovel it, drive in it, or eat it, then, I think we could fit snow in there every other week or so alternating with fog for atmosphere. Hail – NO! except to call cabs, do something to a chief, or protest loudly like the hill folk do when they are expected to use indoor plumbing. We would completely skip wind because except for sailors and blowhards – who needs offshore stuff anyway? Uh Oh, I think I just worked myself out of a blog job … now that’s what I call PERFECT!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Frosty World Mug

Like many Americans, I am not an overly enthusiastic soccer fan. I actually appreciate the athleticism of the sport greatly, it is just the scoring is too low. Everybody who watches sports love a good back and forth close game, but come on – Zero to Zero ties or One to Zero wins? Plainly not enough scoring!

And I have to be honest, have you SEEN the world cup? I’m not sure what it is but it ‘ain’t no cup’! It kind of looks like an egg resting atop a tree or some kind of growth. I know even the Superbowl trophy is a little wimpy looking too but this soccer cup needs an immediate upgrade to at least a frosty tall MUG!

My kid played soccer once when she was quite young. I am the least competitive type of parent you will ever meet regarding team sports. I want the kids to just have fun and learn something especially when they are very young. However, honestly, my daughter and a group of 10 other kids would kind of push the ball around the edges of the arena and follow it in a huddle. My daughter would politely wait for a turn to kick the ball in a mass of ankles, stuffed socks, and shoes.

That was so frustrating to watch – just kick the thing already and move it around. But no, the packed huddle would continue to shuffle around the arena for 30 excruciating minutes. It is no wonder I have no tolerance for the game now, because I have a Pavlovian response to immediately sleep after a few minutes of exposure. I am not sure if this is triggered by soccer balls, colorful socks, or my dill pickled & DULL brain? Just in case now, I only wear white socks and avoid soccer balls religiously. Hmmm, strange, I always seem to be sleepy when I write this blog … there must be a soccer ball or some stinky colored socks around somewhere?

Tied up in NOTS

I think I am the last remaining man on earth who likes to wear ties. I see more women these days wearing ties than men though, which kind of makes me wonder about myself? Ties are still sold in every store I go into, so I have to believe somebody is buying them for work – but who is wearing them?

I kind of consider ties as my definition of a work uniform or something more formal than just hanging out and eating cheese doodles while surfing the net. No I don’t wear a tie at home while writing but it might not be a bad idea for something to dab my furrowed brow. The only problem is that I do not have any perfect ties that will compliment my particular shade of underwear.

My first job out of college REQUIRED me to wear a suit and tie every day. Once at the office, I would then switch into a perfectly bleached white and pressed smock which was also required. Most of the ladies in the office hated putting on a smock of any color after they had spent all that time dressing to the nines before arriving. But I loved wearing that smock with my tie underneath because I looked dressed for business, but I could get messy whenever the job required it.

Once I wore my smock out of the office and went to fill up my car at a gas station. As I got out of the car and fumbled with the gas nozzle, a woman came up to me with a worried look. She asked ‘is something wrong with the gasoline’? She thought I was some lab monkey that had escaped and was testing the fuel at the station. Lucky I had not worn a bow tie with the get-up or she may have asked me the weather too?

Other than at weddings or with a tux, I never wear bow ties just for fun, though if I had a spinning one I might? Let’s hope the ladies do NOT follow the men down that path too. I am NOT sure if it is safe for girls with spinning bows on their bushy heads . All of that hair flying around will NOT look good tightly tied up in nasty kNOTs.

Monday, June 28, 2010

To Sew me is to love me

I do not know much about sewing. Actually it is not my fault since my own mother never bothered even teaching me to sew on a button or hem a pair of pants. The truth be told, even after my Dad got her a sewing machine in the 1970’s, she never took much to becoming a seamstress herself much less teach anyone. Fortunately my wife can stick a seam together these days if I can ever corner her long enough to thread the machine

I will have to admit, for somebody who NEVER liked sewing my Mother gave it her best though. I remember her buying a then ‘oh so fashionable’, simple long skirt, as well as a wide tie pattern. She would make those same two articles of clothing over and over again in hopes of sparking a love of thread. My Dad had all kinds of weird ties with monkeys and other odd Disco patterns and colors but nary a shirt with all its buttons with which to wear them.

I was in the marching band at school and with our new uniforms it was required that we had to tailor our slacks. By then, even I understood that this was an untenable requirement for my family. I certainly did not know my thumb from a thimble, and my Mother had all but put the sewing machine on mothballs. Happily however, I was amazed the next morning to find my pants perfectly hemmed to the proper length. Turns out she had used iron-on hem tape and it had worked just fine. What my family lacks in traditional homemaking skills, we make up for with technology.

Now since those early days, we’ve blessed my Mother with a hand sewing machine, a button puncher, a glue gun - anything you can think of to try and help her stick cloth together. It is of no use, I am sure all of those sewing artifacts will be part of my considerable inheritance someday. Yes those fancy gizmos all remain boxed and unused year after year - or at least I am pretty sure they are not being used? Why else would my Dad still have so few buttons on his shirts – the 70’s Disco era has long since passed!

Furniture salespeople frustrations

I’m not sure why I don’t like furniture sales people. I know it is not fair since all they are trying to do is help me find that perfect padded fabric-covered platform for my lazy posterior. That is not an easy task either, since I have somewhat of a bad reputation for destroying chairs and recliners. Who can afford this stuff too? These days I need to get a letter of credit from a bank just to buy a set of TV stands.

I think the fundamental problem is that those irritating furniture sales folks flock so quickly and attack me when I walk in the door. What if every business operated this way? Can you imagine trying to pick out a nice piano crate to bury your favorite fat, but dead Uncle, when all of a sudden a half-dozen pale morticians descended on you like Robin on a yard worm?

I know it is tough competitive sales work to be locked in a barn full of sticks and cushions that most people don’t really need. I mean you KNOW most everyone that walks in a furniture store already OWNS stuff to sit, sleep, and eat on. In my case it all just happens to be the same dusty, broken down easy chair. Yeah I have thought occasionally about replacing the beast when the buttons and springs start leaving indentations on my body. But invariably, I pull out the duct tape, plump the pillows, and then brush off the runaway Froot Loops to make that old recliner as good as new.

I don’t know, maybe like my bar stools, I am being too hard on these velour vendors of furniture row. I should be more considerate and try to ‘couch’ my displeasure better when greeted on the sales floor. I’m sure if my paycheck depended on how many rumps I lowered into loveseats every day, I would be even MORE irritating than I am now too. I’m not sure if that is possible though? Fortunately all the salary I need can be found underneath the ample nooks and crannies of my favorite bank, ‘Lazy-Boy Savings and Loan’.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Frying Pan Opportunities – Don’t knock it!

I had a great time last night. I was invited to attend a BBQ / bon-fire with some of my robot-creating colleagues. Actually that is a fancy way of saying that some techno-geek students and their parents had me over to engage in two of my most favorite activities - ‘playing with fire’ and eating charred meat! Many in this gang have put up with my family for years and willingly subjected their children to my warped influences and pickled pinhead.

Beyond the food and the obvious camaraderie that only informal parties can bring, I looked around and was impressed at our motley collection of TRUE individuals. How can all of these lucky people be in this one tiny gathering? Each one, young and old, ALREADY have chalked up endless experiences and will continue to face countless future opportunities if embraced when least expected. Amazing – not a bum in the group (well ok, maybe one bum, but as long as I blog nice things I could stay).

Conversation included wide ranging topics such as firing machine guns for recreation to collecting Hot Wheels and classic toys. We pondered autism to speech therapy; cake-baking to the best marinade for chicken wings. After admiring the huge hunk of wood that fueled the bon-fire, naturally the topic turned from cutting down big trees without dying, then on to making homemade root beer, wine, and money on the internet.

As I drove home, my mind was reeling with a myriad of ideas, new interests, stuff I wanted to read, learn, try and obviously write about. This iconic handful of common everyday people, who each of us know and interact with daily in our own lives, are teeming with meandering opportunity. Who knows what the next ‘BIG’ idea will be or who will design, write, or sell it to the masses for billions? Even at play our lives are filled with these untapped reserves of opportunity at literally every turn. So the moral is don’t be afraid to learn and try new things with new people. It’s quite easy really. . . Just stop playing with the fire and jump head-first right into the frying pan.

Boo-tiful Girl

My kid has been working on a kind of a tropical project around the house. So today she came in dragging these hunks of giant bamboo shoots that she needs cut in half lengthwise to use as sort of an edge trim. I have become immune to her artistic proclivities by now so anything seems normal even if it isn’t. Uh, I guess she forgot that we do not live in Hawaii or even Florida. The only bamboo and sand we see around here is in the cat litter box display at Petland.

Anyway, I think I can cut her giant 'BOO' poles on a table saw or probably better yet with a saber saw. What strikes me though is how versatile these big tubes could be, even beyond her trim application. Honestly they look like big straws to me. I cannot tell you how much I wanted to stick one of those into a vast vat of milk and start attempting to draw up a mouthful of cow.

Obviously if that is not weird enough, I wondered how much toilet paper I would have to wad and chew up to make a half-way decent spit wad. I doubt I have the lung capacity to motivate anything out of that big tube but I bet my compressor could do the job. Is this the kind of stuff Hawaiian’s think about all day when tromping through those giant racking bamboo forests or is this just a Missouri problem?

I hope my kid has a couple of bamboo ends left over. I am thinking they would make very unique, exhaust tip extensions for my car. Maybe if I drill a few holes in those tropical tubes the car will sound like a motorized recorder hooting all the way down the street. Bamboo in Missouri – is that even legal? I’ll never understand why, but I have to admit it, my kid is so weird – I think she gets it from her mother.