31 March 2007

Cell Phones: Parasites or Appendages?

I think my cell phone may have become an appendage. For work purposes I am required to keep my cell phone on my person at all times and even shut off the shower to take a phone call if necessary. Days “off,” weekends, holidays, 2 a.m.; it doesn’t matter, I have to answer the cell phone when a call comes through. Now constantly carrying a cell phone isn’t a rarity nowadays, so you might be asking yourself, “how could it be like an appendage?” For those skeptics, I ask you to consider the following points:

1. Day-to-day I take it for granted that my cell phone will be on my person. Carrying it with me is nearly as unconscious as remembering to bring my left leg with me each morning.

2. If I do happen to misplace my cell phone I run around frantically searching for it as I would a severed finger so that it may be surgically reattached at the soonest possible moment.

3. When I am forced to leave my phone behind for whatever reason (e.g. when I am in a classified environment where no cell phones are allowed and I have forwarded my calls to a landline), I often have phantom cell phone vibrations and pat around my clothing for a bit looking for my cell phone before remembering it is no longer attached. This is akin to the stories people tell of having lost a leg in a freak ping-pong tournament accident and later having phantom itches in said missing appendage.

It is clear to me that my cell phone has in fact become an appendage of sorts. I guess this is my first step toward becoming a cyborg. Next I need a set of those glasses that have the miniature screens inside them and connect to the internet. Then I’ll build myself a spaceship shaped like a cube and run around “collecting” others to assimilate… oh wait, I think that’s been done already (was that Star Trek or Microsoft, or both?).

30 March 2007

Ten Novel Things to do when it’s Freezing (literally) Outside

Make Money
Find a lamppost and stick your tongue to it. Next start screaming (as best you can with your tongue frozen to a lamppost) “Hwelf Mee! Hwelf Mee!” When a few thrill seekers finally show up to see what the commotion is all about, tear yourself away quickly so as to do maximum damage to your tongue (profuse bleeding is optimal). Have a friend with camera in hand ready to snap a few shots of the horrific sight and get names, addresses and phone numbers from witnesses to the travesty. Finally, backed by photos and eye-witnesses, sue the lamppost manufacturer for not inventing a compound that when thoroughly frozen still does not allow an unwary passerby’s tongue to become frozen to the exterior.

Do Scientific Research
Crack an egg on the sidewalk to see if it will cook once summer rolls around.

Impress Others with Your Mental Prowess
Attempt the winter equivalent of fire walking and brave the trek from your front door to the mailbox or trashcan in bare feet. You may find it helpful to think about being somewhere else like Hawaii, Texas, or even the Amazon (No, this won’t make you warmer, but frankly it’s just depressing to be really cold and still thinking about places like the North Pole, Alaska and Dakratland).

Make Fun of those Who Think They Have Mental Prowess
Watch television from inside the comfort of your apartment while thinking about your significant other who is outside walking in bare feet to the mailbox, and chuckle a bit (giggling is authorized for females only).

Remember the Good Ol’ Times, Back in the Day
Celebrate your grandfather’s birthday by walking to school/work in the snow with no shoes… uphill both ways. (Be wary of neighbors who may call the police thinking you’ve finally gone nuts.)

Do Something for the Neighborhood
Get a clipboard, pen and official looking hat (just the brim has to look semi-official as you can obscure the rest with the hood of your coat). Next, go door to door telling residents that you are sorry to inform them that due to increased demand the rate for natural gas will double starting next month. When they complain or start to question your legitimacy, politely tell them that you understand their concerns and unfortunately there is nothing you can do. Advise them to write their congressman (or woman, as the case may be) if they have any issues with the price increase.

Give Others Reason to Question your Sanity
Sit on your porch reading a Harry Potter novel with sunglasses and a Hawaiian T-Shirt. Invite passersby to join you for a glass of ice-cold lemonade.

Get Free Food
Google for anyone having a Wedding that day and crash it with the excuse that your car died and you can’t go back out into the cold… and by the way, will the friends and family luncheon start anytime soon?

Discover Hidden Talents
Tie your dogs to a sled and tell them to “mush.” See what happens next – do they have what it takes to compete in the World Cup dogsledding championship?

Save the World
First, using up all the snow in your yard, build the biggest snow fort you can and stockpile snowballs. Second, post a sign that reads, “The End is Near! Are you Ready?” Third, send a petition door to door pleading for all concerned parties to donate snow to the cause of ringing the neighborhood with a gigantic snow wall. Finally, don an authoritative looking hat and while feverishly popping up and down from inside your snow fort, cry out in doomsday tones, “The Eskimos are coming! The Eskimos are coming!” Pause every now and again to huddle in a corner and rock back and forth while crying, “Oh no, please not again…not again…why me? Why me?”

18 March 2007

Why Nuclear Weapons are Fun

It’s -50ยบ F outside and even the snowmen are shivering. The wind is blowing hard enough to viciously sting any small amount of skin you hazard to expose in order to see and breathe through the flying ice flakes. But the weather isn’t what’s on your mind right now. In fact, you couldn’t see the blizzard or hear the wind howling across the frozen tundra even if you wanted. No, you and your crew partner are stationed 60 feet underground behind two eight-ton blast doors in a nuclear hardened launch control center (LCC). There you sit, in a concrete capsule suspended from the ceiling by four mammoth shock isolators which are designed to help you survive a cold-war era “near miss” from an incoming enemy missile. For the next 24 hours the two of you will busy yourselves inspecting equipment, processing exercise messages from higher headquarters, troubleshooting faults, and monitoring the security and well-being of the 10-50 Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) under your care and control.

Each ICBM in your arsenal is capable of carrying up to three thermonuclear warheads capable of inflicting terrible damage. Your mission is to defend the United States with safe, secure ICBMs ready to immediately put bombs on target. Day to day, this translates into working to maintain them in a constant state of readiness so as to deter any hostile forces who might hope to attack the United States or our allies and catch us unprepared to respond. However, should the need arise (heaven forbid) and you are issued the command to launch – you must be prepared in an instant to employ the most powerful weapon the U.S. has in its arsenal.

Understandably, the job comes with its share of stress. In order to alleviate some of this tension, allow me to suggest some harmless practical jokes you can play should you ever find yourself “pulling alert” in an LCC.

Frozen Footwear
When it is your crew partner’s turn for crew rest (to sleep), gather their socks together, wet them and squeeze out as much of the water as possible before tossing them in the freezer. Just before waking them, remove the now rigid items from the freezer and return them to the place you found them. As a warning, make sure to do this only after you have finished your own sleep shift. With enough forethought, you could even buy some absolutely ridiculous looking socks before alert and offer them in place of the frozen ones. If you don’t mind delayed gratification, you can also try a different twist. This time after gathering their socks, powder the insides with Kool-Aid flavoring. Since the socks are black and the powder doesn’t change color until wetted, it won’t be until after arriving at home that the unwary soul finds their feet have turned a bright shade of red… or green, or blue, or yellow…

Number Mix
This one’s always good for a cheap laugh. Switch around the numbers on the dial pad for the phone – nothing too obvious, but something simple like reversing the order. Your intended victim may notice the discrepancy right away, but will still fumble around a bit before dialing the right number or having to replace them to their original locations.

Exploding Snakes
Get some of those gag snakes that squish down rather flat and then “explode” out of their container when opened. These are endlessly entertaining and can be hid in places like the air regeneration unit, the emergency escape breathing apparatus container, or in that unobtrusive can marked “Chocolate Chip Cookies,” which you know will get opened while you are sleeping.

Moving LCC
This one is an urban legend among missileers (those who pull missile alert duty), but could be pulled off with the right kind of coordination. Invite someone new to the facility but not a missileer (such as a new security forces member) down to the LCC for a quick tour. After closing the blast door behind them and beginning the tour, have your crew partner initiate an alarm and printer test from at the console. This will set off a set of audible and visual alarms while printing out a test sheet on the printer. Express concern about the alarms and run to check the printout with your crew partner. Explain to the visitor that you have just received an urgent message from headquarters which must be delivered immediately to another capsule.

Next begin strapping into your chairs (which are equipped with a four-point restraining system to keep you from being bounced around too much following a nuclear detonation) and tell him or her to sit down and hold on to something. Tell them that the LCC is on rails and in emergencies like this can travel through an underground tunnel to reach other predetermined locations throughout the missile field. Next close your emergency water shutoff valve (ESOV) which will make a satisfyingly loud “whump” sound. This is the cue for the person you have secreted outside the capsule to start pushing on the capsule, causing it to rock slightly back and forth (remember it is suspended from the ceiling). After doing this for a short time and pretending to track your movement on the computer screen, open the ESOVs again. This will produce a loud “whoosh” somewhat akin to air brakes.

Finally, tell the visitor that since you are not allowed to leave the capsule while on duty (which is true); you need them to run the message back topside (ground level) and give it to the flight security controller. Unbeknownst to the victim, while he was “touring” the LCC, the personnel topside were busy switching places from the day to night personnel and moving enough around site (including vehicles) to make it look like a different location (the fact that the buildings are all the same and the landscape is all flat is very helpful for this ruse). If all goes according to plan, the wide-eyed messenger will deliver the printout topside, and may even ask if he can get someone to give him a ride back to his station.

Hopefully these hints will help to jumpstart your creative juices; and who knows, you might be the next one to come up with a prank that will enter the realm of urban legends among those who work with nuclear weapons.

17 March 2007

How to Have April Fool’s Fun without Crossing the Line

According to The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, April Fool’s Day or All Fools Day is a, holiday of uncertain origin, known for practical joking and celebrated on the first of April. Prior to the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in 1564, the date was observed as New Year's Day by cultures as varied as the Roman and the Hindu. The holiday is considered to be related to the festival of the vernal equinox, which occurs on Mar. 21. The English gave April Fool's Day its first widespread celebration during the 18th cent.”

You were born with a funny bone – two in fact. This fine and noble holiday is the perfect opportunity to put them to good use. After all, the question in your mind should not be whether or not to partake in the abundant festivities on April 1st and bask in its glorious mirth; but what prank you will perform and for whom you will devote such effort. Will your tomfoolery be of legendary caliber and inspire thousands of pranksters for years to come, or will you settle for one of the tried and true methods sure to bring a grimace to someone else’s face and a smile to yours?

Whatever direction you choose, be wary of straying off the pathway of humor and into the wastelands of cheesiness where you can languish for months without ever provoking a chuckle, a smirk or even a pity laugh. Worse yet, there are those who once upon an April Fool’s embarked on the blessed quest to earn the coveted of all responses – the belly laugh – only to find they had unintentionally, but irrevocably crossed the point of no-return into that land of “just not funny and in fact rather cruel.” Yes crusaders, heed the lesson to be learned from the unfortunate plight of one shunned by fellow comedian and potential fool alike – do not cross the line.

The Five Laws of the Joke

1. Consider well thy audience and prank accordingly.
2. Limitest thou the damage collateral.
3. Remember, cheesiness never was funniness.
4. Temper thine infliction of pain; for whilst discomfort of the temporary variety is well suited, anguish and humiliation for life are discouraged indeed.
5. Cause not thy victim to incur difficulty financial.
6. Understandest thou the principle of “what goes around comes around,” and with cheery heart taketh as thou givest.


I once read, “some people are like slinkies; not good for much, yet you can’t help but smile when you see them tumble down the stairs.”

15 March 2007

Another Reason I’m Glad I Married Young

Today Nikki accompanied me to work for a lunch/fundraiser my squadron was sponsoring. She later commented about the unusual amount of men growing facial hair (mustaches to be exact). I explained that it is all part of “March Madness.” The tradition being that one grows a mustache and awards are given out at the end of the month to individuals with the best this-or-that growth.

She simply replied, “Oh.” Then asked, “So are you going to try and grow one?” At which point she burst out in an uncontrollable fit of laughter, which I am sure woke at least one of our sleeping children.

Now, it’s not really my fault I can’t grow decent-looking facial hair (I blame it on being one small part Native American). Besides, I remind myself that Photoshop has helped me come to terms with the fact that even had I the ability to grow hair at the manliest rate possible, doing so would only make me look like a feral gerbil had taken up residence immediately below my nose.

Instead of communicating any of this to my loving wife (who at this point was still trembling enough from fits of laughter that she was very obviously trying to keep from peeing herself), I simply sighed and left it at that. After all, I had rather expected some such reaction from her, and considered myself fortunate that while she was on the subject of hair she didn’t take the opportunity to poke fun (as she often does) at the fact that my hairline is slowly receding. Yes, my hair is going the way of the dinosaur; retreating into the ether, never to be seen from again. Dinosaurs – no one is sure what happened to them, why they left, or how many there were to begin with (in fact, some people refuse to be convinced they ever existed at all). The only hard fact we have is that they are nowhere to be found now (unless you count some of their so-called “distant relatives,” but that’s like saying the increased growth in nose and ear hair we men get as we age makes up in some way for the lack of it up on top).

The bright side, and moral, of this story is that I have a wife to laugh at me. You see, she will not leave me for lack of hair. Nevertheless, I remain unconvinced that she would have been interested enough to marry me were I already in this downward spiral of uncontrollable molting. Yes, young men of the world, get married now while you still have a mane worthy of actually paying a professional to cut. If you wait until the day you step off the barber’s chair and look down at your cuttings only to realize the removal of such an embarrassingly small mass isn’t worth the $10 plus tip you are about to fork over; well, it just might be too late.


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