Monday, March 31, 2008


The other day we received a bill for $77 from the company through which we purchased our trial timeshare in Mexico. The bill didn't indicate what we were being charged for but kindly suggested that we contact them if we had any questions. Their hours were from noon to 8:00 pm and since it was about 7:00, I thought I'd give them a ringy-ding right away to get the whole matter cleared up.

First, I heard the official automated voicemail, "We are experiencing high call volume...please hold for the next available agent." Then, without asking me, it transferred me directly into some one's voicemail. "This is Brenda, I'm not available to take your call..."

I'm skeptical when this happens, especially with a large company, because I believe that pretty much anyone can help me, and if I leave a message on one person's voicemail, I am putting all my eggs in one basket, so to speak. Plus, I really really wanted to know what this company was trying to charge me for.

So, I hung up and called back. I experienced different automated greetings, hold music, and menu selections than the first time, but I ended up in Brenda's voicemail again.

I wasn't really irritated, I just wanted to take care of it while it was convenient for me, and the convenient time for me was RIGHT NOW.

So, I called back. And I called back. And I called back. And back. And back. And back and back and back and back and back. I must have called 40 times in the space of 10 minutes.

What do you know? It worked. I reached the lovely and talented Brenda in person. She was very professional and very nice. She asked for my name and membership number.

"Just one moment while my system retrieves your file. Okay, thanks for holding... Oh I see you've called a couple of times this evening..."

A couple of times. She even managed to say it without a hint of irony in her voice.

Busted. Go ahead and say it Brenda, "You're a freak." I know.

Where girls grow strong

When I was at the supermarket the other day, the Girl Scouts had their booth set up outside trying to fop off all the rejected boxes of cookies on the unsuspecting public. I didn't stop to browse, because they never have Samoas at the reject cookie booth and there's never a discount because the cookies are rejects and I have a problem paying $17 for a box which contains approximately 1.2 ounces of cookie and 14 ounces of packaging material.

But that's beside the point.

When I came out of the store, the girls were still there trying to hock their second-hand wares, but this time, this time... they were actually dressed as Girl Scout cookies. They were not just in the familiar brown and green uniform garb. They were actually wearing cookie costumes, flailing their little arms about with glee, doing their best to imitate the actual behavior of a Girl Scout cookie.

And now I could finally answer Wednesday Addams in all honesty, "Yes, dear they DO have real Girl Scouts in them."

Friday, March 28, 2008

Spouse tag

You like me...*sniff*.... you really like me! I got tagged and unlike some red-haired sister-in-law types who may be related to my husband, it gives me a warm fuzzy and I'm happy to play along.

How did you meet your spouse? We met through my brother Chet, who was Brett’s roommate. Ironically, they had become friends because they had both tried unsuccessfully to woo the same girl in high school. (Well, Brett actually dated her but got dumped. That’s unsuccessful wooing in my book.)

Where did you go on your first date? We rode around on the family 4-trax. We were with my brother Chet and his very pregnant wife. I was sitting on the back, right on the spot that says “NO SEAT,” holding on to the rear fenders for dear life. Brett said, “You know, if you hang onto me, you might be more comfortable.” Smoooooth.

How long have you been together? It’s been 7 years and a few months since our first date.

Who eats more? Depends on what it is. Brett eats more in general, but if we’re talking pizza or donuts or French fries… look out. I once tried to eat a dozen Krispy Kreme in one sitting. Well, maybe twice. Okay, THREE TIMES. Geez. I haven’t been successful, but I’m willing to keep trying.

Who said I love you first? He did. And according to him, because he loved me first, he loves me more.

Who sings better? Dude, I learned how to play the piano for a reason. I cannot sing. At all. Brett is pretty good and has even sung in a couple of quartets in Sacrament Meeting.

Who is smarter? I have lots of facts and figures stocked up in my brain. I also remember and recall things pretty well. But Brett has all the practical knowledge.

Who does the laundry? I do most of the time, but he helps out a lot.

Who does the dishes? Mostly me. When Brett does, it’s usually because there are no clean dishes or counterspace on which to cook. (See the upcoming cooking question.)

Who sleeps on the right side of the bed? I do. Although it’s not set in stone and we swap occasionally. The right side is closer to the alarm. The left side is closer to the TV.

Who pays the bills? Brett does.

Who mows the lawn? Brett does. I was complaining one day about how I am almost always the one who ends up bathing the dogs if they get poop stuck to their butts and how disgusting those baths are. Brett agreed and said, "Yeah, but when I mow the lawn, all the dog doo in the yard gets ground up and flung into the grass bag. In order to empty the grass bag, I have to stick my hand in there and manually scoop the grass-doodoo mixture out." Ok. He wins. The lawn gets mowed twice a month. I only have to do the poo-bath twice a year.

Who cooks dinner? Mostly Brett. When he cooks, he gets a better meal, so it’s really a win-win situation.

Who drives when you are together? We used to decide by whose car we were taking because both cars were from before we got married so it was a very clear “mine” and “yours” distinction. Now that we have an “ours” car, he usually drives. If I drive it takes longer to get there. Plus, I can’t really see at night.

Who is more stubborn? We can both really dig our feet in on issues that are important to us.

Who is the first to admit when they’re wrong? Neither. Although I’m definitely the first one to say, “It’s not worth fighting over. Let’s let it go.”

Whose parents do you see the most? His, because they live nearer.

Who kissed who first? Brett kissed me. We were watching “Psycho.” It was very romantic.

Who proposed? He did. We were at the Sacramento airport and I was leaving on a trip. We danced as he sang our song to me. Then he got down on one knee and proposed. I was totally surprised and people were staring and clapping and stuff. Airports are pretty romantic for us now, too. Yeah. Airports and Norman Bates.

Who has more friends? He does, by far.

Who has more siblings? He does, by far. And by far I mean Glenn and Shauna. He has way more extended family. I have two first cousins. TWO! They were both adopted, so I could have had none. Brett has like 2,357 first cousins. And that’s just on one side.

Who wears the pants in the family? Brett does. I definitely prefer skirts.

Out of the 5 people who read my blog, 3 have already been tagged, one is Shauna (‘nuff said), so Karin, you’re it!

Full disclosure

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to add to this post that I also do not care for eggs that are undercooked. And by undercooked I refer to any part of the egg that might look runny, slimy, shiny, or mushy. I wouldn't think it would be possible to undercook scrambled eggs, but I see it all the time at breakfast buffets. I usually have to put mine in the microwave.

P.S. I would usually use "slimey" and "shiney" but the spell checker says that's incorrect. I'm deferring to a higher power, but "slimy" really really looks wrong to me. Have I been spelling these words wrong MY WHOLE ENITRE LIFE???

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Defining characteristic

I've posted before about Mr. Portland, the Great Toothpaste Rescuer. This is, by far, my favorite of the many, many funny stories related to our tenure as friends.

Portland was visiting (again? might have been the same visit) and we went shopping for the day. Round about dinnertime, I suggested we stop and get something to eat on the way home. "Great idea," he gushed, "I'm in the mood for some pancakes." We would be driving by at least two restaurants I could think of that would still be serving flapjacks at 6:30 on a Saturday night so I told him either Carrow's or Buttercup Pantry would be our best bets. As a bonus, the restaurants are right across the street from each other in Placerville, so if one was too busy, we could just mosey on over to the other.

"Hmmm...I've never heard of either of those places before. Are they expensive?" he queried earnestly.

"Well, no. I mean, they serve pancakes at dinnertime. They are not five-star dining establishments. Maybe similar or slightly better than Denny's."

"Ooh. Well, at Denny's they charge for each glass of milk. It's not refillable. What about these places? I like to have lots and lots of milk with my pancakes."

"I don't know for sure, but, yeah, you probably have to pay for each glass of milk."

"I don't want to go then. But, golly, I really want some pancakes tonight! Can we stop by the store so I can get a pint of milk and then I'll just bring it in with me?"

"Uh, sure. You're going to carry your own milk into the restaurant?"

"Sure. I've done it before. They don't like it, but what are they going to do? Kick me out?"

He had a valid point, so we stopped for some milk and rolled on over to Carrow's. As we entered, he again expressed his concern that he wasn't familiar with this restaurant. He hesitated in the lobby, pint of milk in hand, and then strode forward to confront the hostess.

"Do you serve breakfast all day? Can I still get some pancakes?"

"Yes sir. We serve breakfast 24-hours a day."

"Well," he continued dubiously, "Can I see a menu?"

She obliged and he found the pancake page.

"This pancake breakfast here... how many pancakes will I get? The picture shows 5. Will I get 5 pancakes?"

"Yes sir. Our meals are pretty much like what the pictures show."

"How big are the pancakes? Like, sometimes you get 5 pancakes, but they are the silver-dollar kind."

The hostess looked confused now. "I guess they are regular pancake size. They are not small, if that's what you mean. Maybe this big..." She made a circle with her hands.

"Humph. So about 4 inches, huh. They look bigger in the picture. That's what I'm talking about. It's such a rip-off to buy pancakes at a restaurant."

He wavered now, unsure of how to reconcile his nagging hunger for pancakes with the fact that he might get ripped off if we ate there.

"I think we should go," he whispered conspiratorially. "I mean, they haven't seated us yet. We don't have to eat here. Didn't you say there's another place around? It's just for 5 4-inch pancakes, they want $4.99. That's almost a buck twenty-five per pancake!"

We sneaked out while the hostess had her back turned and proceeded to have the exact same conversation with the hostess across the street at Buttercup Pantry. I knew it wouldn't go well. Buttercup Pantry was even worse than Carrows. They were charging $5.50 for 4 5-inch pancakes. Not only were they more expensive, there was one pancake less! The outrage!

Portland hung his head in despair, "Isn't there anywhere else we can go? This is your town. Where can we get good pancakes?"

I told him that the two restaurants we had already been at served perfectly good pancakes. I didn't think there was anywhere we could go that would give us FREE pancakes, though. Since we were both hungry, I suggested we just pick the lesser of the two evil flapjack joints.

"So you'd be okay with paying those outrageous prices? You're like my mom. She'll just eat wherever, just because she's hungry. She's the kind of person who parks in the most expensive lot downtown, too, just because it's close to where she wants to go. She could save $2 or $3 if she'd just be willing to drive around a little and look for somewhere cheaper. That drives me crazy."

I refrained from telling him that he probably drove her crazy, too. Instead I suggested we just go home and we could make pancakes from scratch. After all , we already had the milk.

Some months later, Portland and I were talking on the phone. He related to me an elaborate story about the supermarket was trying to rip him off by advertising some of its candybars at a low price right next to some candy that was not on sale. If he hadn't been paying close attention, he might have been duped into paying 33 cents for his candy, instead of the low low price of 25 cents he thought he would be getting.

He then described the reaction of his two friends who were with him at the time. "They were just being so pushy and trying to get me to buy the candy anyway just so we could leave. The checker had to get the manager to void the sale so it was taking a while. I can't believe they just wanted me to buy it and leave, even though it wasn't on sale."

I made sympathetic noises. "Then they said I was cheap. The cheapest person they know even. I'm not cheap. I'm just frugal. There's a big difference. What do you think?"

Well, since he asked, I had to confess that, yes, I thought he was both frugal and cheap. In fact, I considered it his defining characteristic. If someone had asked me to say the first thing I thought of when I thought of him, I would say, "Cheap."

He was open-mouthed, jaw on the floor, shocked. He honestly, truly, deep down in his heart of hearts did not believe he was cheap. No evidence could convince him otherwise. He'd say, "Well, I like to get a good deal" or "Sure I returned that because I found it for 25 cents less at at store across town" or "Yeah, but those pancake restaurants were totally trying to rip me off!" But he couldn't see it. And I'm sure he never will.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The hostess with the mostess

On a related note to the previous post:

When hosting guests at my home, if I am dishing up single servings of something (dessert, mixed drinks, etc.) that I intend to hand-deliver to each of my guests individually, I try to ask if they would like whatever it is I am serving.

"Hey Joe, would you like some pie?"

"Susy, I'm making some smoothie. Can I bring you a glass?"

I do this to minimize potential awkward moments for my visitors. If they don't want dessert, they can politely decline right then. No harm no foul. Everyone is polite, everyone is happy.

The alternative is for me to thrust a plate of whatever at them and then what? "Uhhhh, no thanks. I'm on a diet." "WHAT?" "I'm on a diet. Thanks for announcing it to the group."

Or even worse is for them to politely accept and then have to gag it down. "Uh, oh, thanks! Uh, can I have a huge glass of water with this? Just bring a pitcher."

And we've all seen the polite-accepter who then spends the evening dismantling the food and pushing it around to make it look like it's been eaten.

I'm not talking about sitting down to dinner where you can dish up what you want. I'm not talking about bringing a bowl of popcorn to the living room for a group watching a movie. I'm talking about, "Here you go. Here's your food that I am assuming you want and giving you no choice about."

I've had some bad experiences with this, so my opinion is admittedly biased. I've regretted being rude and declining food that was sprung on me in this fashion. I've politely eaten food that made my stomach churn. What do you think? Is it common courtesy for a host or hostess to check with their guests before serving? Or does the entire responsibility fall on the guest to be polite and eat what is served?


Friday, March 21, 2008

My prrrrrrecious...

We watched "Return of the King" last night (the first disc anyway). I was reminded of Christmas 2003 when we watched it at the theater as one of the traditional Fox Family Christmas Movies. When we watched it at the theater, I was seated between Brett and his mom.

You may remember the scene in which Frodo and company reach the winding stair on their way to Mordor. The landscape is bleak and smokey and the twisting staircase winds up the side of an impossibly tall mountain. Before they can start to ascend, Frodo is uncontrollably drawn toward the fortress of the Witch King. The fortress is imposing edifice emanating a swampy green glow Horned gargoyles guard its dark gates. A low, evil rumble begins as Frodo's companions try to draw him back into hiding. The rumble builds and throbs into a deafening cacophony which shakes small rocks from the surrounding mountains. At the crescendo, a beam of the swampy green light bursts out of the top of the fortress and the Witch King appears on his fell beast. The beast screeches and circles in the sky while Frodo and company cower and cover their ears. The doors of the fortress open and legions of orcs and other vile creatures march out. The clanking of crudely-made armor matches the sound of tens of thousands of gnarled feet on the stone road. Their faces are tortured and deformed with blackened jagged teeth and filthy diseased skin. They slobber and gnash and howl at the thought of the carnage of the coming battle.

At this point in the movie, Mama Fox leans over to me and says,

"So, these are the bad guys, right?"

Thursday, March 20, 2008

I like pizza...I like it!

Pizza is my absolute favorite food. When I eat it, colors seem brighter, the air smells fresher, and wherever I go small forest animals gather in pairs and sing to me.

Because Brett can eat more pizza than I can in one sitting, I am forced to be vigilant about how the pizza is divided to make sure that we both get an equal amount, regardless of when it is eaten. From my half of the pizza, I usually save a couple of pieces to take for lunch at the office the next day. These are wrapped in foil and stowed (sometimes hidden) in the fridge with strict instructions to Brett, "Do NOT eat my pizza! Don't eat it now. Don't eat it for a midnight snack. Don't eat it for breakfast. Do not touch."

One morning, my leftover pizza was missing. The foil was in the trash, the dirty plate was in the sink, the pizza was gone. All evidence pointed to someone other than me having a late-night snack. I was crushed. I had been dreaming of that pizza and now I would have to go without.

I called Brett and left a really whiny message on his cellphone which I hoped conveyed the extent of my injury:

"So I guess I'll just go hungry for lunch today. Someone ate my pizza last night. That someone obviously doesn't care about his wife AT ALL. Serious, SERIOUS injury inflicted. I'm going to write it down in my book. Well, if I have the strength. I'm not sure I will since I don't have a lunch to take to work today...because did I mention that SOMEONE AT MY PIZZA..." and on and on and on.

Brett called me later on that day. I couldn't believe he had the nerve to even speak to me. I was sure he was calling to apologize and tell me what a rotten person he was and how he deserved to be dragged into the street and beaten with a stick of pepperoni. Instead, he said:

"You goon-puppy. I didn't eat your pizza."

"I know you did. Just admit it and throw yourself on the mercy of the court. I may be lenient."

"I didn't eat it. You ate it last night before you went to bed."

"Yeah, right. That's the lamest excuse I've ever heard. What kind of an idiot do you think I am? You're saying that I ate my own pizza and can't remem...oooohhhh.....uhhhhh. Oops, I did eat it myself. I forgot. Never mind. Sorry."


"Yup. But I'm your dork."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Nothing gold can stay

I watched an incredible golden-violet sunrise through my rear view mirror this morning on the way to work. I can't watch a sunrise or a sunset without thinking of Diane, a lady I tutored one semester in statistics.

Diane was a very sheltered, nervous, skittish slip of a woman. She was probably in her early forties when we met and she had just enrolled in a few classes at UBR. (UBR was slang for "University Behind Raley's" which is what we called the community college in Placerville.) She talked quickly and quietly and asked what I thought a lot but never listened to what I had to say. She had a tender heart, especially toward her mother (who she lived with) and cats (she had many).

I don't think she had ever lived anywhere other than Camino and for her, even that small world was fraught with danger. She drove an enormous tank of a car because she thought it would be safer if she was involved in an accident. She wore her keys on a rubber scrunchie around her wrist because if she set them down they would be stolen and the thief would somehow be able to track her keys to her house and break in while she was away. She refused to talk on the phone during a storm because she was afraid of being electrocuted when lightening struck her home.

Her declared major was art but the counselling office had told her she needed to have math credits to graduate. They had offered either trigonometry or statistics as options to fill the requirement. She opted for statistics because it sounded like fun.

As someone who majored in statistical science, I can assure you that statistics is fun. Fun for people who love numbers and data and graphs and charts. But I have met people who, well, how can I put it... HATE STATISTICS WITH THE WHITE-HOT PASSIONS OF A MILLION SUNS. These people usually major is something non-math related, like art.

Diane quickly realized she was in over her head in Stat 101 and needed a tutor. I'm not exactly sure how she got my number but I started tutoring her twice a week. When it wasn't raining, she would come to my house and we would work at the dining room table.

Let me stop for a moment and tell you about my cabin in Camino. It was a whole lot of awesome awesome. It was built on the side of a hill so the living room was on huge piers. Looking east, you felt like you were at eye-level with the snowy mountain peaks surrounding Lake Tahoe. On a clear day, you really could see forever.

Diane commented on the spectacular view one day as we slogged through normal distributions and standard deviations. "I'll bet it's so beautiful when the sun sets over those mountains at night. I like sunsets. That's okay, isn't it? I mean, I like to watch them by myself at home. I think it's okay even if I'm watching it by myself. That's okay, right?"

I explained that it really was very beautiful in the morning when the sun was coming up, but that if she wanted to see the sunset it would be on the other side of the house. She nodded and turned back to her book.

A few minutes later:

Her: Say, what class did you learn that in? Was it astrology? That sounds like fun. Maybe I'd like to take that class next semester. That's okay, isn't it? Was it astrology or something else? Do you think they'd have it at the college? Was it fun when you took it? Was it hard? It sounds hard. Was it really hard? I probably couldn't do it, huh? You're really smart, that's why you took that class. It was probably really hard.

Me: You want to take astrology? Like horoscopes and stuff? I've never taken it, but they probably wouldn't offer it at the college.

Her: Oh. Well, where did you learn it then? I probably need to go to a university to learn it, huh? I'd never be able to do that. You have to be really smart to go to a university. It's okay that I'm just going to the community college, isn't it?

Me: That's perfectly fine. Learn what, exactly?

Her: About the sun and stuff. You said the sun goes down behind the house, not over the mountains. What class did you learn that in?

Me: Well, uhh... I didn't really take a class for that. It's just that when I wake up in the morning, the sun is coming up over the mountains. And when I go out my back door in the evening, I see the sun setting.

Her: Every day?

Me: Yup. Every day. As a matter of fact, if you start watching where the sun sets at your house, I think you'll find it is about the same place every day.

Her: Really? Okay. I'm going to start keeping track tonight. That's okay, isn't it?

Diane and I had a little bit of a falling out toward the end of the semester. She became more and more anxious (which I didn't think was possible) as her final exam approached. She called me constantly at work and wanted me to walk her through complicated problems over the phone. I encouraged her to use the book to find the answers because I felt like even though it was an open-book final, it probably wasn't an open-tutor final. She became more frustrated and anxious and one day ended up screaming at me that it would be my fault when she failed her final. Then she hung up on me and stopped calling back. Even though there was nothing more I could do for her, I felt bad about how it ended.

I saw Diane a couple of years later at a Dairy Queen. We recognized each other and I was worried that she would start railing on me for causing her to fail the class.

She didn't. She was genuinely happy to see me -- thrilled even. She introduced me to her co-workers and then whispered, "So, I did okay in that class. I got a C-. That's okay, isn't it? I mean, I'm not as smart as you. But I didn't fail it. The teacher let me re-take the final because I was so nervous I couldn't finish the first time. That's okay, isn't it? I mean, I still passed the class and everything. I decided not to take any more math classes. I'm taking a painting class now. That's okay, isn't it?"

I assured her that a C- was great and that I was proud of her for sticking it out. And I truly was.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

What white teeth you have, my dear

Brett and I saw "10,000 B.C." last night. During a scene near the end, the camera focuses on the main character's face in an extreme close-up to add emotional weight. I couldn't help but notice that this guy had perfect teeth. White and shiny and straight and beau-tiful teeth. It was a bit incongruous with the fact that the rest of him was all grungy and sweaty and his hair was matted in overgrown dreadlocks.

I leaned over the whisper my discovery to Brett. As I drew in my breath to speak, he said, "I don't want to hear anything about his teeth, okay?"

He knows me almost TOO WELL. Must have been the big stink I made over Matthew McConaughey's teeth in "Sahara." They were really really really white in that movie.

I also remember my mother-in-law telling me that she couldn't enjoy "The Book Of Mormon Movie" anymore because I had said something about the french manicure on Sariah's fingernails and now it was too distracting. I can't actually remember saying anything about it, but it does seem like the kind of thing I'd notice. Right, sweetie?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Total eclipse of the Meatloaf

I didn't start listening to the radio and becoming aware of Top 40 music until I was in fifth grade. Prior to that I only knew three popular songs by name. That's it. Three. No more.

Song number one was my mostest favoritest song of all-time that I loved more than any other song in the whole wide world with all my heart, mind, and soul. It was "Total Elipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler. I didn't actually have a copy of the song so I was at the mercy of a friend who owned the cassette tape and who would let me borrow it on rare occasions. On VERY rare occasions. She probably guessed at the blackness lurking deep in my lusting heart. If had she stopped asking for her tape back, I would have kept it forever and ever. I might have even lied to her if the subject had come up later and told her that I had given her tape back and she must have lost it. I was THAT IN LOVE with this song.

It was the bane of my existence that MY SONG wasn't the first song on the tape so that I could easily rewind it to the beginning and play it over and over and over again. Not that that stopped me. I still played it over and over and over again. I never got tired of it.

Song number two was "(Making Love) Out Nothing At All" by Air Supply. I'd get chills up and down my spine when I heard the opening piano bars. My fingers would tingle as the choir voices would swell and Air Supply would become more and more impassioned, singing to a crescendo before finally confessing that he truly is making love out of nothing at all. It wasn't the lyrics at all that moved me, it was just...something that spoke to me.

(Song number three was "Gloria" by Laura Brannigan, but that really doesn't have anything to do with this story.)

Years later, my brother Dennis introduced me (accidentally, I'm sure--he was never into sharing his music) to an artist called Meatloaf. We listened to "Back Into Hell" on the way back to Utah after Christmas break one year. I loved it. I loved every single song on the album. It's rare for me to like music I haven't heard before and doubly unusual to love every single song on an album. It just doesn't happen for me. But I loved loved loved Meatloaf.

This was during my headbanger years and it wasn't too far off base for me to like Meatloaf. But then I heard a Celine Dion song with which I had the same immediate infatuation. I tried to deny it but I was powerless to stop it. "It's All Coming Back To Me Now" was my secret vice. Openly, I scorned La Dion and her songbird-warbling chest-thumping antics. But behind closed doors I was like Salieri, secretly attending Mozart operas while surreptitiously trying to ruin him.

Answers came when I met Jeff at work. Jeff was waaaaay into music and was impressed when I told him that one of my favorite singers was Meatloaf.

"So, you know all about Jim Steinman then, too, I guess," he said.

"Jim Who?"

"Jim Steinman. He wrote all the songs for "Bat Out Of Hell" and "Back Into Hell" as well as a whole bunch songs for other artists."

"Oh yeah? Like who?"

"Well, let's see... he wrote songs for Bonnie Tyler, Sisters of Mercy, Air Supply, oh, and Celine Dion sang one of his songs. I know, barf, but it's actually a great song. It's called "It's All Coming Back To Me Now."

Turns out my favorite music ever since I was old enough to have favorite music was all written by the same guy. The Great Jim Steinman.

I had great taste in music... even as a nine-year-old.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Our topic today is the noble platypus. Here are the first of a few bits of trivia about our elegant and interesting Australian friend.

1. The platypus was thought to be a hoax when first discovered. (I don't know why... something about it looking like someone glued a duckbill to a beaver... whatever.)

2. The male platypus is one of a very few poisonous mammals in the world. He has a hollow spur located on one of rear legs through which he injects a venom which can be very painful to humans. The female platypus has no such defense. (In an ironic twist of fate, most of the other poisonous mammals in the world are varieties of the shrew.)

3. Platypuses have no nipples.

4. A baby platypus is called a puggle, but I've also seen the word "platypup" used.

I hope you've enjoyed this edition of platypus trivia. Please join us next time when you might hear a platypus say, "Errrr-Rrr!"

Friday, March 7, 2008

"Stop whining!"

My brother Chet used to prank call me. He would play sound clips from The Jerky Boys or from movies we had both seen. One of his favorites was "Kindergarten Cop." Example:

Me: Hello?

Arnold Schwartznegger: This is Detective John Kimball. Who is your daddy and what does he do?

Me: Hey Chetty.

AS: Stop whining! This is Detective John Kimball. We are going to play a little game...

Me: *sigh*

AS: Who is your daddy and what does he do?

Me: --

AS: Stop whining! Who is your daddy and what does he do?... It's notta tumah...

Me: --

AS: This is Detective John Kimball. Stop whining! We are going to play a little game. Who is your daddy and what does he do?

Another favorite was a Jerky Boy clip during which Sol says reproachfully, "You don't have to be so... so hurtful and angry-like."

It was painful, with lots of whining. Kind of like this blog.

Thursday, March 6, 2008


My brother requested an inspiring story from my childhood. This isn't really inspiring, but it's a fond memory for me.

It was summertime and the living was easy. I mean, it was summertime and we were out of school and bored out of our minds. We rented "Tremors" from the Pollock Pines Select Video Store, mixed up a pitcher of Kool-Aid, and settled in for a lazy afternoon in front of the boob tube.

For some reason, mom was letting us drink as much Kool-Aid as we wanted that day. So we guzzled glass after glass after glass.

Maybe it was too much sugar for one day. It might have been the intoxicating flavor of Mountain Berry Punch (a flavor Kool-Aid no longer makes - curse you!). It might have just been the silliness of a brother and sister just kicking it in the grand room with nothing else to do. But "Tremors" seemed like THE BEST MOVIE of all time!

It had action and guns. It was funny. It was gross and scary and suspenseful all at the same time. Oh, and there was a lot of swearing in it. Way more than movies than we were normally allowed to watch.

I have such a big warm fuzzy surrounding my memory of that afternoon that it was a shock when Brett told me that "Tremors" really isn't a very good movie. I watch it now and I still love it.

Oh yeah, I watch it now because when Brett saw it on clearance at Blockbuster, he bought it for me. Even though he thinks it's lame. I love my guy.

So, what are the lame movies you cherish?

("Goonies" springs to mind, as well.)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

You rang?

I'm usually pretty decent to telemarketers, at home and at the office. I know that even if you don't buy what they are selling, sometimes they get a commission just for completing a call. So, if I have the time, I might listen to their spiel before politely replying, "I'm not interested. Please take me off your list." Most of the time, this it met with an equally polite response from the telemarketer and I never hear from that company again.

Occasionally a telemarketer will use a more aggressive sales script. Chet described this to me as the "c'mon three times" script. After the first rejection, the telemarketer offers a previously unmentioned extra benefit. Like, "Well, I understand, but for those who sign up right now we are offering a 90-day free trial of our product." This is akin to a child whose playmate tells him there's no way he's eating that bug, saying, "Awww, c'mon." So after three objections and three rounds of "c'mon", the telemarketer gives up.

There's a whole new breed of telemarketer emerging, though. The I've-put-up-with-enough-crap-and-now-it's-your-turn breed. This breed doesn't care if he sells you squat. He just wants to get back at the world.

Two examples of unusual telemarketing calls I've received:

Apu: Ma'am I am calling on behalf of Dish Network. We are offering special rate for limited time...

Me: You know what, I'm not interested. Thank you.

Apu: Ma'am, please to not be interrupting me. Who is your current satellite provider?

Me: Uhhhh...really. I'm not interested.

Apu: Ma'am, please to be letting me finish. Who is your current satellite provider?

Me: Uhhh... we don't have one. We don't have TV service at all.

Apu: Ma'am? You have no TVs in your home?

Me: No. We just don't watch TV. That's why I'm not interested.

Apu (clearly confused, returning to the beginning of his script): Ma'am, please listen carefully. I am calling on behalf of Dish Network...

He probably didn't realize that by interrupting him I was really just trying to save him some time. Ungrateful.

Then there was this one at work:

Britney (with a very Britney Spears accent): This is Britney and I'm calling on behalf of *insert company* to show you how your company can save money on *insert product or service.*

Me: I'm sorry, we don't accept phone solicitations.

Britney: What? What does that mean?

Me: It means we don't buy products or services from people who solicit business over the phone.

Britney (spluttering with anger): Well... well... uhhh.. why not? I mean, I'm an American. It's not like I'm calling from... from.... INDIA or something. I work hard every day and you can't just say you don't buy stuff over the phone. I got to support my kids and I'm an American... and... and... I'm a decent person and I have kids ... and I'm not from India.. and... and

Me: Ok. Please put me on your do not call list.

I can't really recreate the tone of her voice. She was not desperate or pleading. She was flat-out angry with a hearty helping of entitlement mixed in. She felt like I had to buy what she was selling because she was an American and wasn't calling from India.

Has it come to that? Are people really out there buying things just because the salesperson has done speaked some goodly proper English?

From now on, I'm only buying from people who have Australian accents. Because platypuses come from Australia. End of story.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Open letter to the guy causing all the traffic in Sacramento

Dear Guy Causing All The Traffic In Sacramento:

First off, let me apologize for calling you a guy. I have no idea if you are a guy or not -- I never saw your face.

What I did see was your truck. Your white truck, you know, the one that looks like all the other white trucks on the road.

I followed you down Highway 99 one afternoon. The traffic was heavy in all the usual places. Brakelights were illuminated as far as the eye could see. It wasn't quite bumper to bumper, but it was close. When we passed Florin Road, I expected the congestion to ease, like it normally does.

"There must be an accident," I mused as we continued to creep along. I couldn't see around your big truck but I trusted that you were hitting your brakes so frequently because you could see the traffic stopped for miles ahead.

It didn't occur to me to pass you because I figured with all that traffic up there, what's the point?

When I finally decided to go around you to see for myself what the hold-up was, I was surprised to find that you were the traffic. You were following the car in front of you too closely (for what reason I can't imagine -- just go around him!) and slamming on your brakes the instant before you plowed into his back fender. Speed up, get too close, SLAM ON BRAKES, speed up, get too close, SLAM ON BRAKES. Repeat 200 times. Ahead of your bumper-buddy, there were no cars. Not for miles.

You fooled me, I admit. You also fooled the 7 miles of patient drivers behind you who thought, "There must be bad traffic up there. Look at those brakelights."

Bad traffic, no. One bad driver, yes.

Please, sir (or ma'am) don't come around here no more. Highway 99 traffic stinks enough already without you.