Thursday, June 29, 2006

Stories From My Past: Band Trip To Kansas!

Freshman year in college, my first year in the OSU Cowboy Marching Band, we took a trip to Kansas for OSU's football game vs. the University of Kansas. The trip was one for the ages.

I was pretty naive - for those who know me now, the answer is a resounding YES more so than I am now. It was my first college band trip, and I had no idea what was coming.

(What should have been) the first sign that something flamboyant was in the immediate future was the conversation on the bus trip over there. Veteran band folk were talking about how we were staying in XX town instead of Lawrence (where the university is). This was because no hotel in Lawrence Kansas would let the OSU band stay there. We'd been banned from the city. I couldn't imagine why, so I simply didn't worry about it.

Once there, we had some group activity (Rehearsal? I don't remember). Then, we were told that one of our 6 busses was headed out to a shopping center where several restaurants were. I had no idea why any of the band folk would want to just stay around the hotel. Why wouldn't you go out to eat at McDonald's or Denny's or some other fine establishment? I thought that's what band trips were *for*.

Dinner came and went. Back to the bus. Once we got to the hotel, everything changed.

You see, the band folk who stayed had all gone to various liquor stores. Some had beers, some had other stuff. I had never been around any of that stuff, so I literally have no idea what it all was. There was a wide assortment of bottles floating around. Of the 200 band members, I'd say 75% were already drunk.

But it gets better... the band only took up about half that hotel. The other half was taken up by a wedding party. Heavy emphasis on the word "party". Those folks were disturbingly rowdy.

Here are some examples of the hilarity from that night:

1) I saw one of my fellow trombonists (a married fellow) with his arm around what looked to be the bride's grandmother from the wedding party. She looked to be at least 60. They both had beers and a "your place or mine?..." look in their eyes.

2) I saw one of the Flag n' Rifle girls (I'll call her "Butch") giving me a "come hither" look that literally scared me. Up to this point, Butch had shown no interest in men that I had ever seen. She also looked like she could hurt me badly. She also looked like she knew this, and that it was a turn-on. I ran.

3) I saw a standard-sized hotel room hold at least 40 people. The leader of the pack (I'll call her "Joyful") encouraged everybody in the room to start dancing, which they did. Joyful then sent everybody out into the hall, because there was so little room to dance inside. Within 15 seconds, the room was cleared. 30 minutes later, when Joyful and her 40 close friends came back (all at once, like a tornado), they were no longer dancing. When asked what happened to her dance, Joyful replied, "Dance? What dance? What a great idea! Hey everybody, let's dance!" So they did.

4) I saw a fellow trombonist who I will call "Bold", who was quite overweight and seemingly tranquil when drunk. He moved slowly, like a glacier. Bold had a video camera that he held up in front of his face for the entire evening. At one point, he waddled slowly into a bathroom with one of the band girls. Minutes later, he came back out, exactly as he had gone in - waddling slowly, camera in front of his face. She followed, tucking in her shirt.

5) And, my absolute favorite... I saw two drummers run up to a newspaper vending machine in the lobby. One said, "Is it bolted down?" "Nope." "Is anybody watching?" "Nope." Meanwhile, in the central reception area, there were around 200, 250 people from the band and the wedding party, all looking back at the drummers, and more than a few of them were saying out loud, "What the heck are those two doing?". With well over 200 sets of eyes watching them, the drummers decided they were undetected. So they pulled up the newspaper vending machine, and loaded it onto the percussion equipment van.

That vending machine went home with us. It stayed in the percussion practice room for years afterward.

Where, might you ask, was hotel security? I never saw a single uniformed employee. I think they were all hiding, honestly. The majority of their hotel patrons that night were band or wedding people. There was no hope of control.

As far as I know, the OSU band is no longer welcome in that town, either.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Stories From My Past: Bad Santa

At my previous job, there was a gentleman who I will refer as "The Bad Man". He is pure malevolence - a fact in which he takes great pride.

One Christmas our department decided to have a small holiday party, and that we would play "Dirty Santa". For those who have never played this game, it involves everybody bringing a gift, and then people stealing those gifts from each other in a semi-orderly fashion.

We were emailed instructions about the game, including "... if you wish to participate, please bring a gender-neutral work-appropriate gift worth $10 or less."

The Bad Man immediately had a lengthy, sparring discussion with the event coordinator about what exactly "gender-neutral work-appropriate" meant. He felt those terms were too vague. The rest of us started to get nervous. When the Bad Man's wheels are turnin', nothing good can come of it.

For the next several weeks, every time the holiday party was mentioned, the Bad Man would grin wildly. If the Dirty Santa game was mentioned, he would laugh outright and say things like, "oh, just you wait...".

Apprehension started to build.

On the day of the holiday party, the Bad Man showed up last. He had a simple yellow gift sack, with lots of frilly tissue paper covering his offering and poking up out of the top of the sack. Such a delicate, innocent-looking gift was anything but reassuring. After all, it was carried by a grinning man known to be very bad.

All he did was walk in, and he had everybody's complete, undivided attention. This was his moment - this was his time to horrify the masses. He stood there a moment, basking in the glory. Then, he put his gift down under the tree. Then, impossibly, his grin widened even more. He reached down into his gift sack, and touched something.

The sack started to vibrate.

There was an audible gasp from the assembled department. Several shouts of "Oh my...!" were heard, and nervous laughter filled the gathering. Once the commotion died down a bit, the Bad Man reached in and touched something again. The sack ceased its movement. Then he sat down.

Several incredulous questions were shouted at the Bad Man at this point, along the lines of, "What the heck is that thing?". Grinning like a madman, the Bad Man replied, "It's perfectly safe. Although, it's not exactly hygienic if more than one person touches it."

Men of lesser stature would have fled in terror! But *I* stayed! Mighty is the Jeff! *I* alone was... well, er... OK you got me. Nobody ran away. But we were all pretty concerned about what the "hygienic" comment really meant.

The time eventually came when somebody had the Bad Man's gift in their hands, apprehensively pulling back the tissue, tentatively looking down into the sack... and then bursting out in wild uncontrollable laughter. Then, she pulled out the Bad Man's gift for all to see.

It was an electric toothbrush.

Oh, so *that's* what he meant. Gender-neutral, work-appropriate, and unhygienic if more than one person touched it. He fooled us all. Nobody expected a joke from The Bad Man that was rated less than "R".

Merry (early) Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Two In One: Dentistry And Fish

Both of these things happened today. Both are amusing, but short, so I decided to combine them into one post.

One: Jeff, DDS

My phone rang today, and I didn't recognize the number. I picked up anyway. "Hi, I wanted to inquire about family dentistry, and setting up an appointment for myself and my kids."

"Sorry ma'm, but you have a wrong number." But she was persistent. "This isn't a dentist's office?" "No, this is a personal cell phone." Still, she doesn't give up. "Isn't this XXX-XXX-XXXX?" "No ma'm, it isn't. You dialed XXX-XXX-XXYY."

She finally gave up and went away. I was laughing the whole time. Persistent "wrong number" callers amuse me. Did she seriously think that if she questioned me enough, I would suddenly become a dentist? "Nope, wrong number. I told you, wrong number. OK, fine, you got me - I'm a dentist. Is next Wednesday at 4:30 fine for you?"

Two: Musical Fish

One of my co-workers shared part of a resume with me today. "This guy says he's a musician." I perked up. I wanted to know what he played (I play Bass Guitar).

So, he starts reading to me. "Played Bass for Studio X, Played Bass at Event Y,". But here's the kicker... every time he said "Bass", he didn't say it like the Guitar. He pronounced it like the fish, with a soft "a" sound. You know... the one that rhymes with "hinder".

And after every second mispronunciation, he'd laugh, and pronounce it right. Then he'd do it wrong a couple more times, and laugh, and lather/rinse/repeat. Finally, I mentioned that I also played Bass (pronounced correctly). He immediately said, "Oh, I didn't know you played Bass" (rhymed with hinder).

At that point, laughing and shaking his head sadly, he gave up and walked away.

Other people's mental blocks amuse me. :)

Stories From My Past: Sing Us A Song, You're The Piano Man

A Piano, ManThis happened about 2-3 years ago, at my old church. I was a member of the Praise Team, playing Bass Guitar. The Praise Team's leader was the guitarist (also lead vocalist), and the longest-tenured member of the band was the Piano Man.

One Sunday morning at rehearsal, there was a discussion about how a particular song was going to end. Leader had one idea, and Piano Man had another. The discussion was simply a discussion - no harsh words or anything. But the opinions were simply not going to meet up, so with a playful little what-are-you-going-to-do-about-it look in his eyes, Piano Man said, "Well, I'm just going to play it this way."

Leader laughed and said, "Oh, I see how it is... the guy with the biggest instrument makes the rules."

I quickly froze, not daring to be the one to point out the double entendre. Laughter broke out in the small rehearsal room, but it wasn't the riotous "What did he just say?!?" sort of laughter I was about to burst with. Nobody else had caught the unintended meaning.

while I was practically shaking in my seat, face turning red, I looked around the room. I saw nothing but innocent faces, laughing at a mildly amusing jab. The Keyboardist, the second Guitarist, the Singers... aha! There was a guy across the room from me, similarly stone-faced, holding in his reaction. He caught the unintended joke! It was the drummer.

Of *course* it was the drummer.

Later, when we were setting up the stage between services, I found myself alone on the stage with the drummer. "Hey", I said, "I'm pretty sure you caught that instrument joke during rehearsal."

He smiled. "Oh, that and more." He picked up a pair of maracas. "You see, I was thinking about the relative size of a piano, a guitar, and then my little toys here..."

Ah, drummers... they keep things interesting. :)

Monday, June 26, 2006

Stories From My Past: The Motorcycle

This happened, I believe, when I was in Jr. High. A buddy (I don't remember who... it may have been a "buddy of a buddy") showed up in my neighborhood one day telling me I had to check out his new bike. I was thinking the push-pedal 10-speed variety, because I've always been a fan of bicycle-riding. This was not what he had in mind, though.

Those of you who are motorcycle fans are going to be terribly disappointed in me at this point. I've never been good with makes or models of motor vehicles. I'm only now getting to the point that I can recognize some makes and models of cars - it's just never been something that I've devoted any time or attention to. Therefore, all I can tell you about this particular bike is that it was relatively small, and it was black.

There were at least 4 of us there total, and the excitement was huge. At least, from the other 2 guys. I was a little scared of the bike, to be truthful. But for some reason, I ended up on the bike.

We were in a smallish field a few blocks away from my parent's house. The guy walks me through what to do. He told me how to give it gas, brake, and shift gears. All of this went in one ear and right out the other. I think this was pre-16... even if it wasn't, I'd never driven anything that required me to shift gears. I had no business being up on that thing.

And then VRRROOOMMM off I go! I wobbled quite a bit at first, and in the distance behind me I could hear shouting. They wanted me to do something. I couldn't have cared less what they wanted me to do. I just wanted to stay upright and live.

I made a big circle around the field. As I wound around I could see the other guys. The bike owner was actually waving his arms at me, and I had no idea why. All three were still shouting. I thought they were trying to tell me to speed up or something, which I had absolutely no desire to do. I blocked them out, trying to figure out how to stop the bike and get off without grievous bodily harm.

I pulled up near the still-shouting group, and found the brake. The bike jolts to a stop. Then, I reached my foot down toward the ground. A new problem presented itself... I was too small for this bike. My feet didn't reach the ground. So, the ground kindly accommodated by coming up to meet me. As if in a cartoon, the entire bike (with me still sitting upright on the seat) slowly fell over on its side, pinning my left leg to the ground.

The others ran over to me, and finally I start to discern some of the shouts. The bike owner seems to be particularly found of the word, "idiot". They pull the bike off me, and I limped up. The bike owner is in my face at this point, furious.

After several moments of noisy confusion and near-violence, I realized why they were all shouting at me. I had never changed gears. There was a small plume of smoke coming from the bike. I had managed to burn out first gear on the poor thing.

The bike owner loudly informed me, "You'll never ride my bike again!" I loudly informed him that I was fine with this decision, and I left.

Thus ended my riding experience with motorcycles. I'm not sure I've even physically touched one ever since.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Past And Present Collide: The Lion King, thanks to my generous in-laws, my wife and I were able to see The Lion King - the Broadway musical. Overall, I enjoyed it. I have to say, I think that movies adapted into musicals just don't flow quite as well as actual musicals.

And something about the costumes didn't quite jive with me. Don't get me wrong, they are brilliant, revolutionary, all that good stuff. They were trying to make humans look like cartoon animals. But I had a hard time not looking at the human bits that showed through. The human heads under the lion heads, for example. And Mufasa carried swords... that was just wacky. Also, in the middle of "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" there was a musical interlude where human ballet dancers (with no obvious "pretend I'm a gazelle"-type markings) came out and spun around for a bit.

The music, of course, is great. I'll say "for the most part", but that's only because there's always been something about "Hakuna Matata" that just annoys the heck out of me. I don't know why, but I always cringe on that song.

The lady playing Rafiki (the monkey) was flat-out brilliant. She commanded everybody's attention every time she was on stage.

So, like I said, overall I enjoyed it. It's no Phantom of the Opera, of course. :) Now, what does this have to do with a story from my past?

In college, I was in the Oklahoma State University Marching Band. We always had one game each season that was a high-school "band day" sort of thing. Kiddos from high school bands all over the state would come make noise with us on the field at halftime of some game. One year, the music we played was all from The Lion King.

The percussion director was a man named Wayne Bovenschen (he's still there, in fact). He was conducting for Band Day, perched up on a 15-foot ladder so that all 3,000 of us on the field could see him. At some point in the performance (it may have been the last song), we played "Can You Feel The Love Tonight". Remember, this is going on at halftime of a Big 12 (Big 8, at the time) college football game. Granted, it was an OSU game, but even so, there were 10+ thousand people in the stands, watching us.

So, we get to that song, and our cheesy-voiced announcer shouts out over the PA system, "And now, our combined bands will perform, ... YOU CAN FEEL MY LOVE TONIGHT!"

Wayne nearly fell off the ladder.

I figure that it was a pretty generous offer on the part of Mr. Announcer, given how many people he was simultaneously propositioning. Personally?... I decided to pass.

Saturday, June 24, 2006


The complex subject of immigration is one that raises so many questions. How do we deal with so many illegal citizens? How do we secure our borders? I believe there is one equally important question that gets lost in the shuffle. What is the deal with all that Mexican Hinder?

My wife and I live in an apartment. The apartment grounds are blessed with a sprinkler system that has been out of commission for the past month or so. A couple of days ago, my wife looked out our living room window and saw the twin moons of Tatooine, bent over and working on a busted pipe in the ground.

There's just something about dual disembodied plumber's cracks that makes you pause dramatically and ponder basic questions of existence. You know the type... those 2-word ponderings that flummoxed even the greatest philosophers of history. Questions like, "What the?!?...", "But why?!?...", "How did?!?..." and of course, "Why me?!?".

My wife assures me that when she's looking out the window, she's not looking or hoping for a repeat performance. And I believe her. You would too, if you'd seen those Southern Wonders. UPN's fall lineup is more appealing.

BTW, on a serious note... If they do end up granting amnesty to even part of the illegal immigrants in this country, I will be seriously angry. You see, I have a good friend from my previous job (I'll call her "Tiny") who is from elsewhere, and is trying to become a citizen the legal way. Tiny has been in this country for 6 years, and is no closer to citizenship than when she started, thanks to our slow processes. If they start giving citizenship to illegals, and ignore those like Tiny who are trying to do it the right way, I'm going to have to start writing letters to my state representatives.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Star Trek Reboot

Start Trek is dead. Long Live Star Trek!

OK, so let me start by saying this was proposed back in 2004, and Paramount passed on it. There were many reasons, including the fact that they were suspending all Trek TV production anyway.

So this is just a cool little tidbit, nothing more. It will almost certainly never see the light of day. But I think it's super-cool, so I'm sharing. Imagine a Star Trek series that's being run by J. Michael Straczynski (creator of Babylon 5). Now, how cool would that be? Clickie to find out!

Now I'll grant you, I'm a big B5 fan. I'm curious, for those of you who aren't... what do you think of this Trek proposal? Are my rose-colored glasses on a little too tight?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Past and Present Collide: Jolt Cola

This is related to my long, violent history with caffeine that I mentioned in my Senseo story.

First, the back-story. In college, I experimented with Jolt Cola. Now, I was quite the caffeine junkie, but even so this stuff was hardcore. I bought 2 cans of it so that I could pull an all-nighter and finish a research paper. Truth be told, I hadn't even started the paper yet. It was freshman year, so 1992 or early 1993.

The first can went down with pizza, and the flurry of activity was on. Around 3AM, the second can went down solo, and I started having hallucinations. I talked to my dorm roommate for a solid half-hour before I realized that he wasn't there.

And now... the present-day horror...

Two of my current co-workers (Mad Dogg and Switch) showed up to a meeting today, and both had what looked like 32(maybe 36?)-ounce behemoth re-sealable canisters... of Jolt Cola.

I was seriously worried. Mere proximity to that kind of raw caffeinated power was enough to make my body remember what overdose is like. My heart started to race.

You might remember something about Mad Dogg from my earlier post about his birthday. He is, by nature, a pretty spastic guy. He does not need this much energy drink, no matter what he thinks.

As the meeting wore on, I saw more and more nervous movement from his general direction. Chair rocking back and forth, words coming out almost before his mouth opened, that sort of thing. On the other hand, Switch, who is generally pretty relaxed, just seemed to laugh more.

At one point in the meeting, somebody said "catch-all". Mad Dogg heard that out of context, and with legitimate surprise in his face said, "Did you just say, 'I'll cut you all?'"

So, the meeting was both terrifying and entertaining. Every day is an adventure. :)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Top Ten Signs New York City Is Becoming More Polite

From the Late Show with David Letterman:

Top Ten Signs New York City Is Becoming More Polite

10. After selling a hot dog, vendors share helpful food poisoning remedies

9. Batteries thrown by New York Yankees fans are the environmentally-friendly rechargeable kind

8. Whenever you step off a city bus, the driver gives you a friendly pat on the xxx (hinder)

7. Muggers say, "May I?" before gutting you like a carp

6. Cab drivers no longer curse and give the finger at the same time

5. Two words: complimentary rats

4. "Thank you" always follows, "Do as I say and no one gets hurt"

3. "We're sorry" is printed on every Knicks ticket

2. Number of motorists who stop at red lights is up to 8%

1. People are now greeting me with, "Go screw yourself, Mr. Letterman"

Stories From My Past: Surfer Dude

OK, before we begin, let me just say that I know at least half of you reading this thing have heard this story before. So shut up. :) There's still about half of the site visitors who haven't heard it... current co-workers, family members, not to mention those 16 rejects from the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. I'll grant you, that one is half-blind, but I bet at least one of her pals can read it to her.

So anyway, here's the story. I was working as a Technical Support Agent - I was the poor dork you called when your computer didn't work and it absolutely couldn't be *your* fault. This happened about 10 years ago, in early 1996. At the time, I had only been a Tech Agent for a few months.

A guy calls in, and he has the thickest "Surfer-Dude" accent I've ever heard. When I verbally tell this story, it hurts my throat to do the accent. Think of the most cartoonish, over-the-top, "Whoa, dude!" you've ever heard... and multiply it. This guy was Bill AND Ted, after about 6 excellent adventures and a random sampling of illegal pharmaceuticals.

"So, loike, I've got this CD-ROM, roight? And it's been toe-tally roighteous for me, dude, SWEEEET! And then, loike, I had to reinstall my wiiiiindows, 'cause it went all bogus on me. And now, my CD-ROM isn't working anymore. Bummer, dude."

He'd killed Windows 3.1 on his machine (Win95 was less than 6 months old), and couldn't get his CD-ROM to work. I didn't know exactly how to fix it, but I knew I'd seen the instructions somewhere. But I needed to confirm a model number on his CD-ROM drive.

So, I had him open his computer case, and read off some numbers to me. Once I knew which CD-ROM I was dealing with, I made a critical error... I told him to wait for me while I looked up the instructions. I have no idea what possessed me to think that this guy would just sit quietly and wait for me.

I put him on mute (I could still hear him). Then I found the instructions. I was just about to go back and talk to him when I heard a sudden blood-curdling scream of agony and/or terror from the phone. This was followed by crashing, clanging, and stomping noises - all very loud. There was more than a little screaming and cussing. All was somewhat muted, because he had dropped the phone and was wandering away, presumably in great pain.

So there I was, badly startled, terrified. I was still new at this Tech Support thing. I started shouting into the phone, "Sir! Are you OK?" I hadn't even taken the phone off mute, I was so rattled. I had no idea what to do... I'd killed a customer. What do you do when you kill a customer? Mark the trouble ticket "Solved" and go on?

After what seemed like forever, the sounds subsided. He came back over and picked up the phone. "Sir, are you OK?" was coming out of my mouth in a continuous loop. And then, the Surfer-Dude said (I swear I am NOT making this up)...

"Dude... that tasted bad, and it hurt!"

He quickly followed with a piece of sage advice. "That was nothin' like a 9-volt battery, dude. Don't try that!"

Turns out that when he opened up his computer case, he didn't bother to turn it off first. He had taken one of the spare hard drive / CD-ROM power cables, and had licked it. I believe that those power cables are 12 Amps... quite a bit more than the 9 Volts that he was apparently used to.

"That tasted bad, and it hurt" joined my lore that day (It's a close second to "Logic is Hard"). It's such a fun phrase!

Stories From My Past: 3 Guys, 1 Sink

Occasionally I get asked, "What is the strangest thing to ever happen to you in a bathroom?" When I say "occasionally", I actually mean never. I'm going to pretend I don't know that, and answer the question anyway. This happened at my old job within the past year, year and a half.

I walk into the public restroom to do my thing. 2 other gentlemen are already in there, with similar goals in mind. There are about 5 stalls, and 3 sinks. Plenty of room.

3 Guys finish at about the same time.
3 Guys step out of the stalls at about the same time.
3 Guys, 3 Sinks... so we all step, at the same time, toward the sink in the middle.

There is a pause, as we bump shoulders and stop to look at each other. Then, without a word, the phrase, "No one must hear of this" passes between us, and we 3 each go to a different sink.

Needless to say, I am breaking a sacred trust by telling this story. You should all feel blessed.

Its actually not the first time I've told this story. The first time I told this story, the reaction was, "Hey, I'm just impressed that you all washed your hands."

Some people are easy to impress. ;)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Moderation and Invites and a dang stupid Jeff

OK, so I enabled comment moderation, because I don't want to have to delete comments. And then I sent invites out to folks who I trust to not post questionable comments. BUT - inviting people to be members of the site means they can post stories, not just post comments w/out moderation. That was not my intent.

So, all invites were revoked... for those of you this affected, please accept my apologies for the confusion. Also, comment moderation was removed, because deleting the occasional comment is less effort than having every comment sent to me in email.

Please... don't make me have to delete your comments. :) There are a few comments on here that are borderline. I don't want to hurt feelings, but I don't want outright obscenity on the site, either. If obscenity is part of your comment, then do what I do in the stories - find an amusing way to dance around it without saying it.

Thanks, and sorry for the confusion.

Mad Dogg's Birthday

I have a current co-worker who turned 30 today. Out of respect for his relative privacy, I shall call him "Mad Dogg".

Now, Mad Dogg is one of the youngest folk working here. I'd say the age range of most employees here is anywhere from 25-65. You'd think that he could easily look around the office and see life beyond 30. But no... the freak-out was on. He told us that he just sat on the couch this morning, and seriously considered skipping work. He said he was going to call in "old".

Mad Dogg is one of those people who doesn't have a filter between his brain and his mouth. When he speaks, it is always interesting. And usually shocking. And frequently amusing. In this respect, he reminds me a bit of a co-worker from my previous job (I'll call him "Rent-a-zilla" :) ). Anyway, in recognition of this personality trait, Mad Dogg's birthday cake said, "Happy Birthday XXXXX". In place of "XXXXX", naturally, was one of Mad Dogg's favorite profanities.

Mad Dogg's reaction to the cake was pretty much as expected. His face broke out in a wide smile, and he exclaimed, "That's awesome!". There was... ahem... a simple adjective between those words, of course. To emphasis just how awesome it really was. Apparently, a pinnacle was reached.

His birthday card was filled with various messages from us, most of which were inspired by his unique character traits. In other words, I can't really reprint anything from that card here. When he finished reading (and laughing at) the card, another co-worker asked him if he needed a quiet moment alone to get emotional about all the well-wishes in the card. After a hearty, "Yeah, right!", I told him, "I've got a hug for you... if you need it." He said he'd take that hug, but only if he could grab my hinder. By now I'm sure you can figure out which word he likely didn't say, and what word likely went in its place.

During the course of the birthday cake consumption, a story came out from yesterday. It seems Mad Dogg and a work buddy were leaving yesterday at about the same time, and a truckload of high-school age hotties drove by and shouted at them. Mad Dogg took this as a tremendous compliment. "Oh yeah", he says, "I've still got it." He told his wife this story, trying to see if he could make her jealous. Her reaction: "Honey, they were just making fun of you."

The general consensus around the office is that his wife is right.

As the celebration faded, and people were headed back to their offices, I said to Mad Dogg, "Hey, thanks for gettin' old for us." I got quite a dirty look.

Happy Birthday, Mad Dogg! Try not to break a hip on your way home.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Ode to Koosh

I can't believe I'm doing this. :)

A couple of my former co-workers (Saints and well-meaning philanthropists, all) have requested that I blog about koosh.

I find this despicable.

So, here we go:

A mighty instrument is the koosh,
It doth fly with might.
Its bulk is full of deceptive kinetic energy,
And stretchy strands of rubber.

Over the cubical wall doth fly the koosh,
Its landing will bring pain.
Like the mighty 400 pound gorilla,
It will sit where it wants to.

Over time many will learn to master its wrath,
While others never will.
Those who cannot are destined for agony,
And the mocking laughter of their peers.

The koosh brings joy to many,
Its colorful mass laughs with you (not at you).
I will ever love the exquisite koosh...
As long as it's not sailing toward my #####.

[bang] OW [whimper]

Oh, but for the lack of a video camera, I would be on AFV. Crying.

Stories From My Past: The Underwear Model

So, this story came to mind because in the not-too-distant past, I encountered a co-worker (male) with a similar condition. This happened to me in Jr. High school, maybe early in High School.

First, to set the stage: The classrooms at my school were set up with a door on the side. These doors had a glass panel about 2-3 feet wide next to them, so that you could always see inside the classroom. Most teachers put posters up over the glass to give their room a little privacy.

The doors also had little hooks on them. It was common for the students working in the office to come by and leave notes, announcements, etc on the door while class was going on. Most of the student office assistants were female, and more than a few of them were lazy.

So one day in some class I was in, an office assistant came by to hang something on the classroom door outside. Since she was lazy, she was in no hurry. There was a poster in the panel next to the door, so she stood there and read it. The poster was at the right height to obstruct view of her from the waist up. And her pants were undone.

This was not just a, "oh, hey, your fly is open" sort of thing. Zipper down, button open. There was no additional skin showing (for those who are worried about the direction this story is going).

Now, shift focus to inside the classroom, where a very bored Jeff is not really listening to a teacher drone on about who-knows-what. I was about to fall asleep. I was also sitting very close to the door. I turned my head to the right and looked out the window panel... and there was a pair of disembodied lady's Hanes directly at eye level, not more than 6 feet from me.

Now, as a hormonal Jr. High teenaged jumble of nerves, I thought my wildest dreams were coming true. My reaction, given the circumstances, was pretty respectable. I said, "GAH!!!". At about 110 decibels.

Classroom activities ground to a halt.

Now, most of what happened next is speculation, because I was distracted. You could also say I was focused. The term, "Tunnel Vision" comes to mind. I don't remember the teacher doing or saying anything. There could have been a brass band in front of the classroom for all I knew. A female student from my class ran over to the door, opened it, and spoke franticly to the office assistant. I have no idea what was said... it could have been French for all I knew. The office assistant jumped, turned, and ran down the hallway. I assume the wardrobe malfunction was fixed along the way.

I don't remember anything else from that day. :)

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Stephen Hawking vs. the Pope?

I found this to be interesting. Did the Pope tell Stephen Hawking not to try to find the origins of the universe? article

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Lego Rapid-Fire Rubber-Band Gun

Oh my. This is magnificent.

All about my Senseo

For my birthday this year, I got a Senseo coffee-maker from the in-laws. It’s an odd-shaped little machine. Kinda looks like the Leaning Tower of Coffee, or maybe just a damp noodle. Or you could say that it’s sleek and modern – I guess it just depends on how you look at things.

Now, caffeine and I have a long violent history together, and my wife doesn’t like coffee. So this seems perfect... it can make one cup at a time, so no waste. And as long as I don’t use it more than 2-3 times a week, caffeine and I can maintain our tentative truce. Win-win!

So, I got this thing on a Saturday. Took it home, flushed it out, put it on the kitchen cabinet. Next morning, I get up and decide I’m going to give it a try. It’s time for some hot, frothy, tasty, butt-kickin’ dark-colored go-juice! I can’t wait.

I wander quietly into the kitchen, so as not to wake up my wife. She’s still sleepy this early in the morning, and I am a husband who is kind, compassionate, and considerate (What do these things have in common? The letter "c". Except for "kind").

I open up the back panel. It says, snap. Whisper-quiet! I love it! I fill it with water, then put it back on the machine, where it again says, snap. I press the On button, and it says, click. A red light starts to flash, meaning that it is boiling water.

I put my *sigh* mug on the plate. The red light stops blinking – it’s go time! I press the "One Cup" button, and it says BGBGBGBGBRBGRBGBGBBGRROOOOOOOWWWWWWLLLL.....

From the bedroom, my formerly sleeping wife starts to shout to find out what I’ve done.

So... not quite the result I was hoping for on every front. I have to warn my wife in advance that I’ll be brewing so as not to scare the life out of her. But still... that thing does make a fine cuppa.

Friday, June 16, 2006

So, why "Logic Is Hard"?

Back in the Before-Time (before I had a good job with a decent company), I had a stressful job with a ... well, let's just say it was *another* company. And this company needed to be able to do e-commerce on a particular Web Site. We had already developed an e-commerce solution for an earlier Web Site, so obviously we know how to do this... so the company pulls a "Dilbert" and buys into a third-party solution. "Hey, we could make this in-house for next to nothing!" - "Naw, let's spend 2 million dollars on something another company developed instead!" - "Keen!"

Thus, the nightmare began. We had to install this piece-of-junk application on our web servers, then we had to make it work with our Web Site, all with the *help* of their highly-qualified consultants. When I say "highly-qualified", understand that this means they were high.

One of our guys was having trouble one day, and asked one of the consultants to help him. She looked over his shoulder for about 5-10 minutes, suggesting this and that, oh, that didn't work either, what about this, no, hm.... Finally, she patted him on the shoulder and said, "Well, you're a smart guy. You'll figure it out." That was pretty much the extent of the *help* they were able to offer.

The application was basically Java. The only customizations they had made was to add text files that were treated like databases, and were fiercely guarded as "Intellectual Property". Seriously... one of those text files had a list of the 50 US States, and "Oklahoma" was misspelled. We were not allowed to fix this... it was just a text file, it lived on our servers, but it was their text file. The engineers had to do it for us. In a full year and a half of struggling with them, they never fixed it. This same error also existed on their own homepage. It was pathetic.

So, frustration builds. It amplifies. It reaches a fever pitch. This was by the end of week 1. The adventure continued for months. Then, the conference call to end all calls...

We got on the line with a representative of their company. This was a new guy that they brought in specifically to help us with our difficult installation. We started to confront him with the problems we were having. He was dodging our questions well at first, but we started to nail him more and more, and he started acting more and more like a whipped pup. "Why can't we make it do this?" - "Um... well... you see... " "Why is it so slow?" - "Well, um..." "You said it could do this!" - "Well, er..."

Finally, the guy snaps. He says, and I swear I am not exaggerating ...

"What you have to understand is that [name withheld] is a huge program, and logic is hard!"

Incompetence at its glorious best. "Logic Is Hard" has been with me ever since.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

First Post

Well, I went and did it. I wonder if this is gonna be worth the effort or not. :)