Followers

24 December 2010

Top Ten "You know you have young children at Christmas when..."

...hey, I remembered my password!






"You know you have young children at Christmas when..."

10. Your tree is barren on the bottom and heavily decorated on top

9. The beautiful glass orbs that decorated your tree last year are quickly being replaced by popsicle stick artwork and crayon-abused, glitter-covered paper discs with a picture of the smiling artist glued to the center

8. The only gifts you dare put under the tree before Christmas morning are wrapped in an impenetrable tungsten carbide wrapping paper you were lucky enough to pick up at Wal-Mart last year before the product was recalled back to China

7. You have added "A sizable helping of sanity" to your Christmas wish list

6. You frequently find yourself "gently" reminding the mischievous elves scurrying about your home that Santa knows when they are sleeping, he knows when they are awake, and he knows when they smear toothpaste all over the sink, walls, floor, and ceiling?! of the bathroom

5. Everyone in your home knows by heart what Santa puts in naughty kids' stockings

4. You have seriously considered contributing a new example of the definition of "infinity" to Wikipedia as, "The number of times your child can ask 'how many more days until Christmas?' before tiring"

3. You have made it a personal quest this year to find a gift for the youngest ones that will be more enticing than the box it is wrapped in

2. You feel a little dumb Googling "is it possible to overdose on sugar" but are then both comforted and a little appalled to see there are about 2,400,000 results

1. Christmas has been canceled and reinstated multiple times... in the last 24 hours


Merry Christmas!

11 July 2010

The Missing Episode Chronicles:

Kids’ Show episodes you didn’t get the chance to see… but secretly wish you had

Roadrunner and Wylie Coyote
In his latest attempt to capture Roadrunner, Wylie Coyote orders a time machine to go back in time and capture Roadrunner as a baby. Roadrunner calls ACME, but finds his credit card is maxed out, so he has to get a minimum wage job to pay the monthly interest charges.  No longer having to run from the coyote, roadrunner loses all sense of purpose in life and quits his regular running routine.  Subsequently, he becomes addicted to pop tarts, fried food and daytime talk shows.  After gaining 50 pounds in one year, he makes a short appearance on the Biggest Loser, but is dropped after the first week for smuggling in a deep fried pizza and downing it in the bathroom.

Barney
Barney’s obesity finally catches up with him and he has a heart attack mid-episode.  The kids laugh at his antics and begin to dance around him, singing “London Bridges.”  His moans and groans strangely coincide with crescendos in the music.  When the children realize something is wrong with Barney, they decide he is very sick and need everyone who believes in purple dinosaurs to clap their hands and say “we believe” to save him.  In the spirit of the show, they decide to sing a happy little song about life, belief, and clapping.  The song goes on a bit too long and Barney expires before they get around to the actual clapping and believing bit.  The show closes with smiling children holding hands, swaying, and singing “I loved you, you loved me, but I guess it just wasn’t meant to be…”

Bob the Builder
It’s winter and Farmer Pickles’s barn is destroyed in a snowstorm.  The animals are cold, so he calls Bob to build a new one.  Bob takes Lofty and Muck to help.  Wendy warns them to hurry because a massive blizzard is on the way.  He says not to worry; it won’t take long because Farmer Pickles has all the supplies already prepared and even made them sandwiches so they won’t have to stop for a lunch break. 

Spud finds out Bob is coming and thinks it will be funny to hide all the wood from him.  He tells Travis that Bob wants them to move all the wood to the other side of the farm.  Travis doesn’t think this sounds right, but figures Bob knows best, so he helps Spud take all the wood away.  Spud hurries back to see how surprised Bob will be when he shows up and there isn’t any wood left.  After all that sneaking around, Spud is hungry and finds the sandwiches Farmer Pickles made.  He eats them one by one laughing to himself about how much funnier it will be when Bob can’t find the wood or his lunch.  By the time he eats the last sandwich he has a stomach ache and decides to lie down for a bit.

Bob arrives and Farmer Pickles takes him to where the new barn will be built.  Farmer pickles is puzzled to find the wood missing, but just then the blizzard hits and they spend the next few minutes trying to find their way back to the house.  It is a complete white-out and they soon lose their sense of direction, circling back to where they started.  They can’t get out of the snow, and as the storm continues they get cold and hungry.  With no wood to burn for heat or sandwiches to eat, their prospects look dim.

Spud has been asleep this whole time in a food-induced coma.  He is now covered by a thick layer of newly fallen snow.  Bob is directing Muck to pile the snow around them to help build a giant igloo to keep the cold wind at bay.  In the process he runs over the snow-covered Spud.  Bob and Farmer Pickles are glad to have found him.  They survive the storm by eating his turnip nose and burning his body bit by bit for warmth.

When the crops are planted that spring, Spud is replaced by a much more reliable stationary scarecrow.

Yo Gabba Gabba
Unable to get any guest stars, it’s a full episode of nothing more than DJ Lance Rock saying “Yo Gabba Gabba” repeatedly while Muno, Brobee, Foofa, Toodee and Plex jump around dancing.  The test audience doesn’t notice anything out of the ordinary.

Wonder Pets
Linny Tuck and Ming Ming have to save a baby anaconda that is in trouble because it is trapped in a cave and can’t find its mommy.  They work together and are able to free the baby snake and return it to its mommy.  They celebrate by eating celery.  The snakes celebrate by eating the Wonder Pets.  As the credits roll, the snakes can be heard singing:

Wonder Pets!
Wonder Pets!
They came our way
To help a friend
And save the day
They weren’t too big
And weren’t too tough
And when eaten together
They’ve got the right stuff
Go, Wonder Pets, ya'ay!

Teletubbies
It’s a very short episode.  There is a white flash and a mushroom cloud can be seen in the distance.  The Teletubbies make squalid baby-talk sounds for a few seconds and the screen goes black.  The remaining time is filled by an archived Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood episode.  Children everywhere are tricked into learning something for the first time since their introduction to Teletubbies.


21 June 2010

Obit

How do you define death in the online age?

How many days do you have to go without posting on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, a blog, or any other social networking site (SNS) before you are dead to the internet?  Is resurrection possible? Is it wanted?

Am I dead?

My online pulse definitely flat-lined.  But interestingly, whenever it does it coincides with a marked increase in real-world “action.”  ...when I’m very much alive and doing things.

Consequently, it can be deduced that an increase in online interactions correlates to a decrease in real-world actions and vice versa.

Thus, if you become truly alive in real-life you are dead online.  And if you become truly alive online, you must be dead in the real world.

It makes sense now why there are so many zombies in the world.  They have simply given up all their life to the internet.

Which brings back the age old question, do you have a zombie plan?



P.S.  If it seems like I’m rambling, it’s because I am.

P.P.S.  Oh, and why didn’t P.S. die with the advent of BACKSPACE and UNDO?


Feed the zombies.

09 April 2010

It Stinks Like Fish in Here

...so I accidentally uploaded my latest post to Nikki's Blog...

Now all her readers who are used to the escapades of small children and handy home-making tips have been inadvertently exposed to my random sarcasm and lame attempt at humor. It is a travesty. Sorry internet.

Why then, you ask, didn't I just delete the post? yeah... about that. hehe

06 April 2010

Bugs & Truth, Life & Death

Here's your daily dose of unfiltered life truths:

  • Stepping on snails is gross. It’s worse in bare feet. Of course it’s not pleasant for the snails either.
  • Roly poly bugs can only be rolled for so long by a four-year-old before falling apart
  • Homemade roly polies are now available. What, you didn’t know there was a recipe? Mix equal parts dirt, water and snot, and voilĂ ! You too can have an unlimited supply for your kids to play with

...@o

28 March 2010

Why You Should Read Reviews


The Advertising Line

The HoMEDICS Neck and Shoulder Massager (with heat) promises, “an invigorating massage that provides soothing heat right where you need it most. The massager flexes to comfort your neck and shoulders – allowing you to sit back and indulge in a relaxing massage.”



THE TRUTH HURTS

I bought the massager for my wife as one of her birthday gifts. She had been suffering from a stiff, sore neck, and I thought something like this would be perfect to help her relax those tense muscles. The unfortunate reality is it did anything but.

My wife tried it out and didn’t like it. I tried it out and didn’t like it. I also felt it would be a disservice to humanity if I didn’t warn my fellow Earth dwellers that it is really a malevolent mind control device designed by super intelligent mutant moles who throughout their lives have suffered from mankind’s cruelty at the hands of jackhammer operators who literally rocked their world… and not in a good way.

The “invigorating massage” was less of a massage and more of a high-frequency vibration. Think of your cell phone sitting happily on the dresser without a care in the world, then vbRRRRRrrrrRRRRrrr – it jitters toward the edge and certain doom. I always assumed it was the intense vibration causing the phone to move like that. I was wrong. In fact, cell phones have become so advanced that they now experience a low form of self awareness. When you put the phone on vibrate its innards get violently shaken about so fast that all it can think about is somehow making it to the edge, toppling over the precipice and ending it all. It – just – can’t – take – it – anymore.

This is the same sensation you can purchase in a box with the HoMEDICS Neck and Shoulder Shake-your-eyeballs-in-their-sockets-so-fast-everything-goes-blurry-and-you-want-to-curl-up-in-a-ball-and-vomit-then-pass-out Massager.

Yes, you too can pay good money for that experience.

Fortunately, you don’t need to pay anything. To duplicate this phenomenon in the comfort of your own home all you have to do is cross your eyes as hard as you can until you feel a headache is inevitable, you are disoriented and queasy; then while remaining cross-eyed, violently shake your head side to side as you jump in the air and spin in circles as fast as you can. You will know you have achieved the desired result when you crash to the ground head-first and puke a little bit in your mouth. You swallowed it back down, didn’t you? Gross.

On a lighter note, the heating bit actually works as advertised. The only problem is that the unit is so bulky that if you try and sit back to relax, your neck will be shoved forward at such an angle as to not only nullify any soothing effects, but actually worsen the pain. Oh, and if you sit up it falls away and loses contact with your neck, so all it becomes is gaudy neck jewelry… with a trailing AC adapter plugged into the wall. You saw the picture.

This is not a fashion trend I expect will become faddish anytime soon.

THE POINT TO THIS WHOLE POST is that I could have saved myself time, money, and discomfort by simply doing a Google search, finding the product at Wall-Mart and reading the unhappy reviews. Here are some of my favorite quotes:

After we tried it...we agree that it wasnt worth it because the vibration was soo hard that it made our brains go crazy. Now we're getting a headache if we choose to use it.

“It was clutzy.
Didn't form in a comfortable position.
The HEAT button didn't work...so it
had NO heat.
I returned it to Wal Mart for refund.
Had no problem doing so.
It is something I would NOT suggest
to anyone to buy.
Cheap and very un-comforatble

“We both were so excited about the product thinking it would work beautifully. It does vibrate and is very loud around the ears so hard to hear persons talking or the tv sounds.

“This was ok if you like your head to be shaken off of your neck!! I had a headache and felt nauseated for quite a while after trying this for just a minute or two. Impossible to relax with this. The heat isn't noticeable! It only has two settings, low and high. Even low is not comfortable!! Don't waste your money. It is pretty stiff too, so it doesn't conform to your neck very well, either

And it goes on…

Bottom line: If you are a masochist (or sadist that likes gift-giving), run out and buy two TODAY. If you are an activist, write Al Gore and tell him to forget “global warming,” we’ve got a bigger problem on our hands. If you have sympathy for the human condition but simply don’t care enough to motivate yourself to take an active part in the struggle against 21st Century over-the-counter torture devices, blog about it. Otherwise, if you are a normal person, just don’t buy one.

18 March 2010

The Burger King Identity


I went through the Burger King drive through yesterday. While I am not a frequent BK visitor, I go more often than I would like… or should. Breakfast was going to be one ham omelet sandwich (hamlet = $1). I don’t like the honey butter on my sandwich, so I asked for it without. At this point, the lady on the other end of the order terminal said, “Oh, now I recognize your voice. Is that you?”

Uh… how do I answer that? I was pretty sure I was me, so I answered a monosyllabic, “Yes.”

Once I pulled up to the window, however, I learned that I was in fact not myself; and the proper response to her query would have been, “No. I am not me. I am in fact someone else who is still me, but not that me at all… nor am I schizophrenic… at least I didn’t used to be.” Then, following proper small talk etiquette, I should have returned the question to show I am courteous and caring. “How about you? Are you you today?”

I’m just glad that whoever I am, I got my hamlet sans honey butter.



14 March 2010

Daylight Savings Time: The rest of the story


Spring forward, fall back. That’s how I was taught to remember it. Oh how deceptive those terms are.

Spring forward

All light, airy and worry-free, it sounds like we’re making some real progress here; getting ahead in life, taking an extra turn in Monopoly, skipping past opponents in Candyland, or nearing the finish in that never-ending game Chutes and Ladders. However, nothing could be further from the truth. The truth is much darker – depressing in fact. The reality is… you LOSE. That’s it, lose; not win. We’d call you a loser, but that term isn’t PC, so we will call you winning challenged. And just what did you lose oh winning challenged one? You lost an hour. Where did it go? Did you get anything in exchange? No, sir, you lost. Go straight to jail, do not pass GO, and do not collect $200.

Fall back

Just the opposite here – fall back, as in retreat, as in you are being defeated. Your army is losing. Men are dying. Or even if it’s not as bad as death, you’re still trying to get away. Run away, little boy, the bullies are coming for you. Your hair looks like it could use a swirly and they found a toilet with your name on it. There is nothing pleasant here at all. Or is there? When we fall back, we actually get a GIFT! We are given an extra hour.

“Excuse me, sir, I’d like to purchase that set of 24 hours on the top shelf there. That should be enough to get me through until Monday…”

“Great, and as a one-time special offer, with today’s purchase we are throwing in one extra hour, free of charge!”

“Wow! I feel like I’ve won the lottery! I’ve never won anything before in my life.”

“So, what are you going to do with your extra hour?”

“I’m going to Disneyland!

09 March 2010

The Cleanup Game 2.0


You likely played it as a child, and if you’re a parent you have probably used it to motivate your own kids at one time or another. There are likely millions of versions, each with unique rules and rewards. Today I will tell you about one that works for me.

My kids are fascinated with electronic games, and their pretend-time play often turns into something like LEGO Star Wars characters battling in far off reaches of the galaxy. Unfortunately, but not surprising, they are far less enthusiastic about cleaning up their messes.

One particularly unenthusiastic day, I was trying (quite unsuccessfully I might add) to get them motivated to clean the playroom. The usual bribes, threats, and daddy-evil-eye only increased the weeping, wailing, and general gnashing of teeth. As a last-ditched attempt,

I announced the beginning of a NEW cleanup game.

Since they were just starting, they were all at level one and would have to work their way up from there. Level one consisted of picking up five toys and putting them away properly. They would then have to return for further instructions. Intrigued, the three oldest ran to complete level one. Independently each would scurry back to report and their eyes would light up as I told them they had now advanced to level two.

“How many toys for level two?” they asked.

“Ten!” I declared.

Eyes-wide they ran off to complete level two. Moments later, three kids ran back and excitedly reported that they had each put away ten toys.

This went on and on with different toy amounts anywhere from 5-15 until the room was clean. Each time their zeal began to wane, I would announce they had reached a special achievement level and had earned the title of “Advanced Toy Cleaner-upper,” then “Expert Toy Cleaner-upper,” and finally “Super-duper Toy Cleaner-upper.”

The only potential downside with inventing a cleanup game that kids actually enjoy is you will likely be asked to play it again in the future – a small price to pay for happy helpers.


This post is linked at RocksInMyDryer.

03 March 2010

Too little time so here's another freebie

Work and home life has me quite busy this week, so here's something I ran across today I thought you might also enjoy. It's from the Onion.

02 March 2010

Free web hosting for your site

I have recently started a kid-friendly website at www.KidCuddles.com. It’s still in the construction stages, but open to the public. But that’s not what my post is about. It’s about the web host. I considered paying for one since most free web hosts had forced ads, very little storage space and/or allowed bandwidth, or extremely limited features. I tried a few and finally found a great fit at http://www.000webhost.com/. You can pay $4.84/mo for premium hosting, but since you get 1500 MB of disk space and 100 GB per month of bandwidth I haven’t found any need to upgrade.

Free web hosting works for me.

This post is linked at Works For Me Wednesday

Disclaimer: I just realized this completely sounds like an ad or that I am in some way affiliated with the company. I'm not -- just happy with their service and wanted to share the joy. Here, have a bit of joy. You're welcome.



26 February 2010

This video made my day

I worked customer service for some years, dabbling in technical support as required. Sometimes you have to ask the "dumb" questions and get surprising results. I hope you enjoy this video as much as I did.

25 February 2010

Is it the end of the "personal" internet?

Have you all been reading the news articles about the three Google executives convicted of violating Italian privacy laws? This is one odd ball ruling that will hopefully be overturned on appeal.

Here’s a snippet from the New York Times.

“In Milan, Judge Oscar Magi sentenced the Google executives in absentia to six-month suspended sentences for violation of privacy. Prosecutors said Google did not act fast enough to remove from the site a widely viewed video posted in 2006 showing a group of teenage boys harassing an autistic boy.”

I have a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice, and an MBA with an emphasis in criminal justice management. Let me just say that when journalists say things like, “The verdict, though subject to appeal, could have sweeping implications worldwide for Internet freedom.” They are not kidding in the least.

Everything posted on the internet would be subject to preemptive review. Rather than holding individual users responsible for what they post on “public” sites like Google, Facebook, MySpace, etc. we would be saying there is a criminal liability attached to the hosting company to ensure nothing derogatory, inflammatory, lewd, etc. is ever posted. Currently, companies can only get in trouble if they are made aware of a violation and do nothing about it or are too slow to act. In the case of Google, they had the material removed within two hours after police notified them about its existence. That’s a very reasonable amount of time.

I personally do not think the ruling will hold. It would truly be the end of an era. Goodbye to personal blogs, free website hosting, and any sort of timely internet-based communication. There is a slippery slope argument too. It wouldn’t be too hard to imagine email getting regulated next, with every email having to be filtered and reviewed before being sent to the intended recipient(s).

I’m going to keep an eye on this one if for no other reason than to see what we learn about the judge who sentenced the Google executives (Judge Oscar Magi). Is he planning to get into politics and just looking for some free PR? It’ll be interesting to find out.

23 February 2010

How to save the world in 7 steps


Face it, email is a central part of your life. Indeed, life as we know it would end should all email servers die simultaneously. The Earth would even stop rotating on its axis. Probably anyway. Consequently, it is your civic duty, nay, your moral obligation to understand and abide by proper email checking technique. Fortunately, I have provided you with a foolproof checklist.

1. Log in to e-mail account or open email program such as MS Outlook or Eudora

2. Look for that one email you’ve been anxiously anticipating

3. Disappointedly peruse the subject lines of emails you did receive

4. Empty the spam folder after checking for wayward legitimate correspondence among the offers to collect your personal information in exchange for millions in unclaimed inheritance and advertisements to enhance your… ahem, personal life in some very specific ways

5. Read the remaining unopened emails

6. Run any suspect emails by Snopes.com

7. Repeat steps 1-6 as necessary

Many individuals inappropriately skip the very important step 6. As a result they fall for email scams or forward on amazing stories or unbelievable deals that turn out to be nothing more than internet rumors or worse. Fortunately, now that you have the complete approved checklist you can help break the chain simply by navigating to www.snopes.com and typing a few key words into their search engine.

Additionally, if you are bored or just curious you can always peruse the snopes.com archives and will likely learn that a few things you have believed for years turn out to be entirely false.

Snopes.com works for me.

----------------------

This article is linked at www.wearethatfamily.com

20 February 2010

The End of the World

You knew it had to come sooner or later. Well, it’s here, and this is what it looks like.

...the only question that remains is, "which end is it?"

14 February 2010

Daily dose of truth...

Clowns and sharks are both scary, just for different reasons.





11 February 2010

Let me paint you a mental picture

I’m sitting next to a Squdge, feeding the hungry 5-month-old a bottle. I look down at his smiling face as he gurgles a happy “thank you” and smile a “you’re welcome” his direction. One of the other children asks me a question so I turn and talk to them for a moment. I look back down at Squdge and notice something that wasn’t there before – something on the bottle. It’s on the ring right next to the nipple, right next to my infant’s mouth. Wait a second, did it just MOVE?!

…time to perform an immediate close-up inspection…

Foreign object identified.

My exact words, “Are you kidding me?! There is a slug on my baby’s bottle! Right next to his mouth!”

In my house. It wasn’t there five seconds ago. What is this, the Twilight Zone?



06 February 2010

How to write breaking news stories about completely mundane events

Sensationalism is all the rage on the internet today. In truth, it likely has been since the advent of language (no, not necessarily on the internet, just in general). Young children use it; “There were like a zillion mosquitoes!” Parents use it; “For the hundredth time, come to the table for dinner or you will have to starve tonight!” But most interestingly, journalists from amateur to professional use it. It’s what sells the story even if there isn’t really a story to sell. So how, you ask, do you use sensationalism to your advantage? How can you write a breaking news story about completely mundane events? Just follow the simple steps below and you will soon experience the thrill of reeling in readers with the most commonplace events… sensationalized!

Your first objective is to select a subject that no one would care about unless they read it in the newspaper, online, or saw it on television. For example, consider the following topics:

  • A child is a few minutes late for dinner
  • The pet cat disappears for a few days then returns
  • The moon is bright at night
  • The sun rises in the morning

Now let’s face it, no one wants to read about any of these things… or do they? Of course they do. I mean, think about it, the average internet surfer is so bored with their life that they willingly subject themselves to article after article about what this celebrity said about global warming, or what that one wore to take their dog out for a walk, or even what their dog did when it saw a stray cat down the road. After all, this is big news. We even have an official sounding category for it: arts and entertainment. It sounds all legitimate that way. The ARTS – it makes you think of things like the Sistine Chapel, the Mona Lisa, Michelangelo’s David and the works of Shakespeare and Mark Twain all rolled into one.

Trust me, these folks need you to write something for them to read. They don’t care what it’s about; it just has to sound like earth-shattering, life-changing news. It is your social duty to regularly output some exciting mindless drivel on which the internet zombies can feed.

But I digress; back to our examples listed above. You need to spin them in such a way as to make the humdrum outcome seem miraculous. Additionally, you will have to add drama – lots of drama. The outcome, however probable or even inevitable must seem elusive and fraught with doubt. Finally, you must make it personal. Use names and circumstances, and lots of present tense. Using these three interrelated techniques, the article should now read something like this:


Three year old Randy Jenkins was missing. Mrs. Jenkins, feared the worst. She had lost her husband to a tragic work commute seven hours earlier, and having misplaced her cell phone, was now for all intensive purposes a single mother; isolated from the world. She didn’t know how she would make it through the next few hours. It seemed as though grief would tear her apart.

Mrs. Jenkins had slaved over microwave macaroni and cheese for part of the entire evening. Macaroni and cheese was Randy’s favorite. Of course, Mrs. Jenkins tearfully reminisced, Randy didn’t call it by its proper name. You see, Randy suffered from a severe case of underdeveloped adulthood, one of the more noticeable symptoms being a pronounced difficulty enunciating. In his words, his favorite dish was “marronee sheeze.” He was usually never late for marronee sheeze, Mrs. Jenkins sobbed.

Just when it seemed all hope was lost, and it looked as though she might have to call him to the table a second time, a miracle happened. Mrs. Jenkins heard a quiet voice coming from down the hall – Randy’s voice. His voice grew louder and louder until finally his small form rounded the corner and he ran into the dining room. Randy was alive! A full three minutes after first being summoned he had somehow managed against all odds to make it to the table intact. Amazingly he bore no visible physical scars from the ordeal. Mrs. Jenkins cried tears of joy as she wrapped her son in her loving embrace. She watched his easy smile which she knew must be hiding the pain he subconsciously repressed inside. Holding him once again she knew that together somehow, someday, they would be able to work past the emotional damage and be a real family again. Of that she was certain.


Now comes the test. Use the techniques you have learned today and write an article for one of the other three headlines. Come on, sensationalize! Without it we would all have to go and do something drastic like live our own lives. You don’t want to have that on your conscience, do you?


02 February 2010

Words that are just plain, well… weird

Ma’am is one weird word. Ma’am – you spell it how? What does that even mean?! Is there a glottal stop in there? Is it a contraction? If so, what are the two original words? Okay, I just Googled it. It is in fact a contraction for the word madam. Since when do we use contractions for one word? Why lose just one letter if we’re going to do that? It takes just as long to type the apostrophe as the letter “d.” And why waste it on such a small word? If we’re opening the door to contracting single words, why not try it out on something more worthwhile, like say “mortuary.” It could be shortened to mo’ry (which would definitely save us some time and effort). It even sounds less creepy that way... mo’ry …yep, definitely less creepy. Just read the two passages below and you’ll see what I mean.

--------------------------------

Passage 1: MORTUARY

It was a dark and sinister night. It was stormy too – unusual for the time of year. Yes, it was an abnormally dark and stormy sinister night. The young woman held tightly to her umbrella, waiting for the bus to come; willing it to arrive sooner than its scheduled stop at 10:30, fifteen minutes away. Five minutes was a lifetime in this part of town at night. Fifteen was an eternity. A lone stray dog wandered the otherwise abandoned street in search of the rotting scraps that somehow found their way to the gutters outside the butcher houses lining either side of the street. A street lined entirely by buildings dedicated to the bloody slaughter and dismemberment of some of Earth’s gentler creatures. How odd such a place existed. How unfortunate the circumstances that had left her stranded here, waiting an eternity for a bus she hoped would come. The thin rain continued to fall, depressing her spirits even further. In the shadows it was easy to imagine the languid rivulets of water slipping past to be blood oozing from the streets themselves and draining through blackened grates like great gaping mouths with rotting teeth, hungrily lapping at the liquid. The quiet gurgling sounded almost intelligible. If she listened hard and long enough she was sure she could make out what it said. It sounded like a warning… or a threat.

She feared what she might hear, but listened anyway. As she strained she heard the footstep. The wet thump, thump, thump of someone behind her; close behind her. Panicked she whirled around, the dog and streets and blood and gutters and mouths and words forgotten as her heart tried to pound through her chest. Before her stood a man in a black coat, without hat or umbrella to shield his mottled hair from the rain. He grinned a twisted grin and as he reached for her said in a greasy voice, “Evening ma’am, I’m on my way to the mortuary, perhaps you can be of assistance to me.”

--------------------------------

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Passage 2: Mo’ry

It was a beautiful spring morning. The day was crisp, but not cold. In fact, it was pleasantly warm for the time of year. Yes, it was a beautifully pleasant warm spring morning. The young woman swung her umbrella idly – while the weatherman had promised a sunny cloudless day, she liked to be prepared. She quietly waited for the bus, scheduled to arrive in fifteen minutes or so. Breathing in deeply she almost wished the bus would be late, giving her a few extra minutes to just enjoy being outdoors. Time seemed to pass too quickly at times like these. There was even a dog happily sniffing around down the street to keep her company. He was likely searching for a scrap or two of the delicious bread produced by the various bakeries that lined the street on either side. A street lined entirely by buildings dedicated to the art of perfectly browned loaves and pastries of every kind imaginable. It was a place wondrous enough to put a smile on any child’s face. How fortunate the circumstances that had allowed her to spend a short time here, luxuriating in the smells while she waited for a bus she almost hoped wouldn’t come at all. A pleasant breeze languidly coursed down the street, invigorating her senses further. Closing her eyes, it was easy to imagine herself completely alone without a care in the world, the breeze carrying all her worries away, taking them to the sky where they would evaporate in the welcoming rays of the sun. The sun was so bright and warm but not the slightest bit harsh. It comforted her and seemed like an old friend who had come to visit. If she listened long and hard enough she was sure she would hear it greeting her – calling her by name.

She was amused by the thought and listened intently for what it might say. Instead of the sun, she heard only the rhythmic thump, thump, thump of someone walking her direction. Intrigued, she turned toward the sound, the bread and sun and breeze and old friends momentarily forgotten as she quickly checked herself over to make sure she was presentable. Before her stood a gentleman in a charcoal grey suit, tailored perfectly so as not to hide his athletic figure. He grinned a boyish grin, and in a slightly apologetic voice said, “Excuse me ma’am, I’m on my way to the mo’ry, perhaps you can be of assistance to me?”

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You see how such a simple change in one word can dramatically alter the feel of an entire passage? But I digress. Back to my original statement – ma’am is one weird word.

29 January 2010

The art of communication

Whenever I log into my yahoo mail account there is one of a few rotating pictures there to greet me and entice potential subscribers. Most I get. This one I don’t. It says to me, “Reconnect with that relative you couldn’t stand who always pinched your cheek at the family reunion. Maybe they won’t pinch now that you’re older and too cool to be pinched with your mad zone-out skilz. Maybe they’ll just hug you and you can pretend they aren’t even there.”

26 January 2010

What pets, paranoia and poop have in common

We have a new pet in our home. His name is Charlie. Charlie is a guinea pig. I went to the pet store intending to purchase another hamster (following the passing of our dear Lucy hamster). This was just a couple days prior to Christmas and we planned to keep it a secret from the kids until Christmas morning. As I waited for an employee to assist me, I passed the time watching the mice, rats, guinea pigs, and other assorted pets. I also read the posters talking about how to select the right pet and care for them. I read enough that by the time an employee was free to help me I decided to ask her opinion on pet selection. She asked how old my children were (six under eight). She said that a hamster probably wasn’t the best option for us since they can get crabby and have little attitudes. Because of this they are prone to nipping small children that aren’t delicate enough with them. It was true that the kids had very little interaction with Lucy because we were afraid they might try and hug her or drop her if she squirmed. The employee recommended a guinea pig. She said they actually enjoyed being played with and would “popcorn” (pop up off the ground repeatedly when excited). Further, she said they were far more tolerant of small children. Of course, the downside was that that they were more expensive to purchase, maintain, and required a larger living space. Still, I figured that it would be better to pay a bit more and get an interactive family pet rather than a look-but-don’t-touch pet.

There were only two guinea pigs to choose from; an all white one with red eyes and a black and white one with black eyes. The employee left me to decide while she went to separate some rats that were involved in mortal combat and bloodying up their cage. I could just see my kids freaking out at a fire-eyed albino devil ghost pet, so I opted for the black and white one. I bought the requisite cage, bedding, food, toys, etc. and brought the critter home in a box just large enough to contain it. Once home I set everything up and placed our pet in his new home.

Christmas came and the children were intrigued and pleased to meet the new member of our family. He was very skittish so we didn’t let them stay in the room with him long. We decided on the name Charlie. Over the next few days Charlie hadn’t calmed down and would hide in his cardboard tube home whenever anyone entered the room. I was concerned that something was wrong so I investigated guinea pig behavior via the internet. I quickly learned that it was common for guinea pigs to take several weeks to grow accustomed to new surroundings and people. You see, in their natural habitat, they are “a prey animal.” Pet experts advised to get them used to you slowly, don’t make any sudden movements in their presence, no loud noises, and don’t “loom” over their cages as they will see you as a predator. They all agreed that it would likely take a few weeks, but not to worry your pet would soon get to know you and start to get excited at the sound of your voice before too long.

Well, it’s been over a month now and Charlie will only even come out of hiding when my wife is in the room and not too near. Me? He has bitten me two of the three times I have held him. When I move slowly to pick him up (at a minimum we have to remove him from the cage to clean it) he thrashes about his cage as though the Hounds of Baskerville were nipping at his toes, flinging bedding and Charlie poop about the room. I bring him food every day, talk calmly to him, and try to act as un-predator like as possible, and he still looks at me like any moment I will skewer him for a tasty snack.

Sometimes while smiling as sweetly as I can and ducking flying bits of turd I experience fleeting fantasies about running into the room yelling “PREY, PREY, PREY!” and doing some very intense looming to show him the behavior of which he should really be afraid. Unfortunately I do not think this would do much to endear me to him any quicker. So I stick to my patient caring for the poor little spooked rodent and waiting for the day he realizes I have no desire whatsoever to find out that fried Charlie tastes just like chicken.


10 January 2010

The internet: Synergy or Collective Absurdity?

Does information sharing on the internet allow us to pool our collective resources, making our combined intelligence one enhanced super brain capable of solving complex problems with the click of a mouse; or is it no more than an ability to globally seek out the thoughts of those who share our own opinions, and thus find validation through community in even the most socially alien aspects of our lives?

On the internet, everyone can be their own doctor. Just ask www.freeMD.com. Not satisfied? Get a second opinion at www.Diagnose-Me.com or www.AOLhealth.com. I mean, who would be foolish enough to entrust your physical and mental well being with a mere human doctor. That is SO last decade. But why stop with health? Need to know the answer to the meaning of life? Try www.ask.com and you will get all 61,100,000 answers at your fingertips with one simple click. But that’s kid stuff. Pull up http://answers.yahoo.com and they’ll give you 322,000,000 – that’s 260,900,000 more for the same effort! Surely we have reached the peak of civilization when over 300 million people can tell you what the meaning of life is in a sentence or two. Now that’s synergy. Just ask Google.

And what about all those misunderstood souls out there whose only desire is to collect toenails and not be scorned for it. Don’t worry, you can find solace in the fact that there are many like you. Scott Matthew even has a YouTube video of his massive collection. Go on, you too can share. Maybe the clip you post today of snail racing on www.metcafe.com or www.dailymotion.com will become a hot viral video tomorrow.

But what is that you say? You think collecting toenails and snail racing are quite ordinary actually, and there is no one out there who can truly understand your quirks and exactly what you are going through? Well you are wrong. No, don’t waste your time trying to talk to a flesh and blood being. You’ll find no empathy from their kind. You need the welcoming web of cyberspace to fill the void in your heart. You are not alone. The internet is here for you. Be comforted in the soft glow of your computer screen telling you that ritual skunk sniffing at the public pool is a normal act and bears no shame. Stand Sit Slump proud as you hunker over your computer and blog about your latest adventure French kissing geckos in the wild of your back yard. Show your determination via post after post about the mutant zombie rats infiltrating the government. Revel in the power you wield over your five returning visitors and three misguided web searchers daily. Be one with the blogosphere.

Finally, do not worry that any of this may alienate you from the unimaginative who recklessly venture beyond the boundaries of their home and Wi-Fi security net on a regular basis. The currently deprived will be assimilated soon. That or their kind will simply die off. After all, how is their species to propagate without the aid of online dating sites like www.eHarmony.com and www.Match.com?

In fact, everyone who does not dedicate at least seven hours a day to browsing the net will be dead by 2020. This is an urban legend prophecy written by me and supported by Bill Gates who will pay you for everyone to whom you forward this message via email, Twitter, Facebook, or Myspace. I already got a check in the mail for $123,412.18! This is absolutely true. It’s true because it is on the internet. I put it there. And the internet doesn’t lie (don’t worry, I already checked www.Snopes.com).


Interconnects

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