Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Field Chunks

Now this, my friends, is an appetizing name for a food product...

...this is wrong on so many levels, that I can't even fathom what was going through the heads of the individuals responsible for naming this product. Yikes....

Monday, August 06, 2007

Bad Thai cops to endure Kitty shame

BANGKOK, Thailand - Thai police officers who break rules will be forced to wear hot pink armbands featuring "Hello Kitty," the Japanese icon of cute, as a mark of shame, a senior officer said Monday.

Police officers caught littering, parking in a prohibited area, or arriving late — among other misdemeanors — will be forced to stay in the division office and wear the armband all day, said Police Col. Pongpat Chayaphan. The officers won't wear the armband in public.

The striking armband features Hello Kitty sitting atop two hearts.

"Simple warnings no longer work. This new twist is expected to make them feel guilt and shame and prevent them from repeating the offense, no matter how minor," said Pongpat, acting chief of the Crime Suppression Division in Bangkok.

"(Hello) Kitty is a cute icon for young girls. It's not something macho police officers want covering their biceps," Pongpat said.

He said police caught breaking the law will be subject the same fines and penalties as any other members of the public.

"We want to make sure that we do not condone small offenses," Pongpat said, adding that the CSD believed that getting tough on petty misdemeanors would lead to fewer cases of more serious offenses including abuse of power and mistreatment of the public by police officers.

Hello Kitty, invented by Sanrio Co. in 1974, has been popular for years with children and young women. The celebrity cat adorns everything from diamond-studded jewelry, Fender guitars and digital cameras to lunch boxes, T-shirts and stationery.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Rasberry Mocha Frappuccino®

Starbucks now offers a new product, known simply as the:


This thing will be the end of me.

I've already accepted, as fate*, that I am meant to consume Mocha Frappuccinos. A grande Mocha Frappuccino is not only delicious (I'm having a hard time typing about them without furiously craving one), but also costs, after tax, $4.17 (I found this price to be consistent in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida and Arkansas; if it costs more elsewhere, then, apparently, I'm simply not meant to consume them in those states).

What does this have to do with anything (you might ask)?

Well...nothing...unless you are superstitious...which I'm not...maybe...

I was born on September 29, 1978, at 4:17. Ever since then, It seems, I can't get away from the number 417. When I was in high school, my future wife introduced me to a group of guys who were starting a band and needed a guitarist. The name of the band? Flight 4:17.

I didn't realize it at the time, but as years have gone by, I've come to notice just how often significant things happen to me involving the number 417. I very often just "happen" to glance at the clock, only to notice that, by gum, it just happens to be 4:17. "What a coincidence, self", I often tell myself. Once, a rock flew up and cracked my windshield as I drove down the highway. Looked at my clock; 4:17. Got bad news; 4:17. Woken up in the middle of the night; 4:17. Getting hungry; 4:17. I really like this song on the radio; 4:17. What's that funny smell?; 4:17. As time goes by, paranoia starts to creep in....slowly....

On April 17, 2007 (that's 4-17-2007), I awoke from a good night's sleep and realized that, in fact, the world had not ended. The paranoid side of me was almost certain that calamity was waiting patiently at my door but, sure enough, I made it out of my house and to the office with no hitches. I went through my work day, and everything seemed fine. Heck; I even had my two boys with me at the office that particular day, and everything went off without a hitch...

...and then we left the office.

When I got into my truck, I noticed that I could not find my wallet. Convinced that I had left it at the service station earlier in the day, I began driving back home, retracing my steps so that I could find my wallet. As I drove down the road, I began getting more and more panicky about my wallet. What if someone had found it and stolen my identity?! Would anyone want my identity if they found it anyway? As I was pondering these things, I failed to notice that I had begun driving just slightly too fast. I also failed to notice the friendly policeman sitting next to the road. I soon noticed him well enough.

I received a speeding ticket that day for going 75 in a 65. I also received a ticket for not carrying my license (my wallet was missing; remember?).

The irony is that my wallet was in the center console all along. After finding it, I dug out my credit card and called a lawyer to help me with my speeding ticket. His advice: traffic school. I guess I'll be learning how to drive next week.

And what does all of this have to do with Rasberry Mocha Frappuccinos?

Simply this: while a grande Mocha Frappuccino costs $4.17 after tax, a grande Rasberry Mocha Frappuccino seems to cost $4.45**. Am I meant to drink a beverage that costs anything other than $4,17? Is this conundrum completely irascible?

I'm sure I'll survive. After all, I bought one last week, and nothing has happened so far...yet...

(bum bum bumpidy bum!!!!)

*If you seriously look for the meaning of life in numbers, you need to get a clue.
**At $4.45, a grande Rasberry Mocha Frappuccino costs $.23 more than a standard grande Mocha Frappuccino. According to Starbucks (http://www.starbucks.com/retail/nutrition_beverage_detail.asp), a grande Mocha Frappuccino contains 380 calories, which is roughly 1/5 of the calories that someone my size should be consuming in a day. However, a grande Rasberry Mocha Frappuccino contains 390 calories, which is 10 more than a standard Mocha Frappuccino. $.23 for only 10 extra calories? All they're doing is squirting rasberry jam on top of the whipped cream...

[UPDATE: Apparently, if you purchase the suggested "Raspberry Swirl Loaf" to eat along with your grande Rasberry Mocha Frappuccino, the price, after tax, comes to $6.60, which is just a nickel and a penny away from a very dubious number indeed....]

Sunday, June 24, 2007

What in tarnation is going on here?

So we received this brochure in the mail at work the other day:

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

Here's the question:
Can anyone figure out what it is, exactly, that is being advertised here?

Upon first glance, you might think it's barbecue. I mean, after all, there is smoke, and there is a cartoon pig. In fact, barbecue is even mentioned in the brochure; so it must be barbecue, right?

Then, upon further investigation, you might find the photo of the men grinning beside the mannequin:

If this confuses you, have no fear; this is soon explained on the company's website (www.smokeschool.net), a jaunty trip down memory lane to the way that websites looked back in 1996. Oh...wait; it's not really explained. But, you can find many, many intriguing photos of people standing beside that mannequin. I'm not sure why...

In fact, I'm not sure why any of this is an issue. Why not, oh, I don't know, figure out what it is that you do and put THAT on the brochure. Who's idea was it to insert the random photo of the guys with the mannequin. "This will make perfect sense", they must have said, "to people who have no idea what the significance of this ridiculous photo is!"

Okay; I concede. The brochure makes it perfectly obvious that they are a "smoke school". In fact, they even show a photo of their very large smoke-producing machine. Apparently, state governments send their employees to be doused with smoke...for some reason...and they get some sort of certification. Can someone explain this to me?

"This is the sort of pollution that YOU don't want to produce, boys! Watch this!!!"

I'm probably not grasping this whole thing properly; maybe someone can explain it to me. After all, as "Uncle George Whitlow" likes to say:

"We appreciate your business. Without you we would be blowing smoke."

That about sums all up right there, I guarantee.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Patience is a virtue, or so I’m told…

Herein lies the tale of one of the most stressful weeks of my semi-young life.

To tell the tale of the past week, I must actually begin about two weeks ago, with the arrival of two stray dogs (an adult female and a puppy) to our back porch. Of course, the dogs were hungry, and oh so cute, so we fed them, and they stuck around. We never had any intention of keeping the dogs, so we immediately started trying to find homes for them. Fast forward one week, and we are told by several people that the adult looks pregnant. Yikes.

So, Monday, February 12, 2007 rolls around, and the week of horrors begins.

As I’m getting ready for work on Monday morning, I hear the yelping of puppies coming from our back porch. As I leave the house, I notice the mother dog curled up in a ball on the back porch, presumably with the puppies beneath her. I put a towel over her to keep her and the puppies warm, and I head off to work.

I got a call later that morning from my wife saying that the dog had gone insane, and was refusing to nurse the puppies. A while later, I got another call from my wife saying that the dog had gone EVEN MORE insane, and that she had bitten the UPS man. I called animal services, and the only helpful thing that they had to offer was to “put the whole lot of them down”, which was really no help to me at the time so, by the time I got home, three of the puppies were dead, and three of them were barely living. As I approached the dog, she growled at me Old Yeller style, and I knew that we couldn’t keep her around any longer.

I called a good friend of mine who handles dogs, and he “took the dogs to a better place”. One problem down, many more to go.

Later that evening, our trusty 900 mhz Pentium III desktop went on the fritz, so on Tuesday, February 13, I brought a brand new computer from CompUSA. It is a 2.8 ghz dual-core Pentium with 1 GB of RAM and a 250 GB hard drive (hardly top of the line, I know, but light years better than its predecessor). The thing that I was most excited about, though, was the fact that it came pre-loaded with Windows Vista! Joy of joys! Because my wife is the primary user of the desktop, I brought it home and presented it to her excitedly as her Valentine’s Day present. She was very excited…until I hooked it up.

The thing wouldn’t come on. It just beeped at me. I called technical support, and was forced to sit through the likes of Meatloaf, Sting and Dan Hill for somewhere around 15 minutes before the phone was cheerfully picked up, breathed into, and then hung up.


I called back later, and finally got someone to answer the phone. The end result was that there was a loose chip on the inside, so I had to open it up, push in on the RAM, and close it back up. The computer then booted up, and my problems were solved….until I tried to load AutoCAD.

If you know me, or if you’ve read my blog in the past, then you will know that I draft for a living (ie: I draw building plans on the computer). Because I draft for a living, I often bring some work home with me, and my primary drafting computer at home is the desktop. Well, at least it USED to be the desktop. Apparently, every version of AutoCAD is completely incompatible with Window Vista.


Later that night, as my wife was happily exploring the “improvements” of Windows Vista, I got a call from my sister, informing me that she had gotten a call from a close family member of mine. To keep this short, I will simply tell you that this particular family member has had a past of abusing prescription pain medication, and has on occasion freaked out as a result of having done so. On this particular occasion, my family member had called my sister in the middle of the night to tell her of vast delusions that she was experiencing (ie: visions of the impossible occurring in her backyard). A plan was quickly formulated to finally intervene for this person; to get them help. I went to bed that night worried about the health and safety of a person that is very close to me…

….and woke up the next morning to find out that another person that was very close to me was on the brink of death. My wife’s grandfather was a very good man. His entire life was spent making other people happy, and it was very sad an unexpected when we found out that he had cancer last May. The doctor’s didn’t give him long to live, but he outlived all of his doctors’ expectations, making it through Christmas and performing his annual Christmas show for various nursing homes in the area. However, after Christmas was over, his health steadily declined and on Thursday, February 15, he died.

My wife and I, as well as our two sons, were very close to her grandfather, and his death brought great sadness upon us all. I took the day off work to be with my family and, unfortunately, spent most of it mopping up poop.

Apparently, the line between the house and the septic tank had become clogged, so, when the dishwasher was running in the kitchen, the water from the dishwasher was shooting out of the toilets and the bathtubs in other parts of the house! Or course, the water brought poop, toilet paper and other goodies with it, so we were forced to leave the house that evening and spend the night at my in-laws’ house.

Friday morning came, and so did our intervention for the aforementioned family member with the prescription drug problem. I’m happy to say that she accepted the help that we offered her, so my sister and uncle loaded her up into a car and drove her to a treatment facility that should, hopefully, give her the tools that she needs to lead a happy, productive life. Later that evening, we attended the viewing for my wife’s grandfather, and went to bed that night with newly-repaired plumbing and one quarantined bathroom (the poop went EVERYWHERE; you wouldn’t believe it if I tried to explain it, so I just…won’t…).

On Saturday morning (err…that would be today), we awoke and began preparing for the funeral. I was asked to be a pall bearer, so I needed to buy a suit for the occasion. We were rushing around, getting ourselves and our kids ready to go to the funeral, still needing to accomplish several tasks before leaving. Before my wife and I could take a shower, I had to scrub out the tub and shower in the master bathroom (the secondary bathroom was still quarantined, due to the fact that it still required cleaning and disinfecting from the septic tank incident). After having scrubbed and disinfected the tub and shower in the master bathroom, I proudly turned on the shower so that my wife could get ready for the funeral.

Of course, the shower head snapped off and fell into the tub as soon as I turned it on.

We both had to take baths this morning, and I ended up barely being able to buy my suit and make it to the funeral on time. I pulled it off, however, and arrived at the church 5 minutes before I was asked to. However, shortly thereafter, my wife’s cousin asked me, “Hey…isn’t that your red car?” “Yes”, I replied. “Well…I just wanted to tell you that your rear right tire is flat.”


After the funeral, and after the burial, I made my way back to the church parking lot where, with the help of my brother, I was forced to change the tire on my car in my brand new suit. Luckily, we had no problems changing the tire and, as of now, I am the proud driver of a 1997 Honda Civic with a tiny rear tire that inhibits my speed to 50mph or less.

I assume that I will get the tire replaced on Monday, and that everything will begin to get back to normal next week. Hopefully, after this past week, I will have developed a little more patience. After all; why else would all of these things be happening to me? Obviously, I need to learn patience.

If you made it to the end of this post, you have probably been forced to employ a little patience of your own. Believe it or not, I have actually left several other things out of this post, so feel fortunate that I haven’t gone into EVERYTHING that happened to me this week.

Patience, apparently, is a skill that can only be learned through much testing. Let’s just hope that my particular testing session is over for now…..

Friday, January 19, 2007

Where's the Camera?

Random thought for the day:

In old 80's cartoon shows (Inspector Gadget, G.I. Joe, Ninja Turtles, etc.), the head villain could often be seen sitting in a chair and watching the hero's every move on a small monitor. Most people know that an image must first be photographed before it can be broadcast to a monitor/television screen. Therefore, it would seem that some sort of camera would be required that could follow the hero at all times and photograph his every move, subsequently broadcasting the aforementioned video footage to the monitor in the villain's secret lair.

However, I don't ever recall, not even once, seeing a camera following the hero around. Satellite imagery would never have worked for this application; the footage was always shot from the perfect angle (and sometimes in multiple angles that changed randomly on the villain's screen), and thus could never have been shot from above.

Am I obsessing? Am I?

No.....no.....I'm not obsessing; just stating the obvious, is all......

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Traffic Court; or How I Learned to Stop Speeding and to Pay More Attention to My Surroundings

I've learned what the ultimate punishment for speeding on an interstate highway is.

Some might tell you that it's the fines. After all, what's worse than having to pay out hard-earned cash?

Others might tell you that it's the points on your license. Inevitably, license points lead to insurance premiums, which means that you have to shell out more money and, after all, what's worse than having to pay out hard-earned cash?

Some might skip the monetary route altogether and play on one's sense of decency. "One should never go over the speed limit because, for one, it's against the law and, for two, it's dangerous."

Well I have a new one for you; the ultimate punishment for speeding on an interstate highway is showing up for traffic court at 9:00 AM (the appointed time on the ticket) and having to waste 2.5 hours before realizing that the friendly people at the courthouse don't even deal with speeding tickets until 11:30 AM.

Luckily for me, I got to witness a never-ending parade of (ahem) "interesting people" in the process, including a man who had the most exquisite mullet I have ever seen in my life, and his wife, who adored the mullet so much that she frequently ran her fingers through it as we all sat there and waited for what seemed an eternity.

Then, finally, at the above-mentioned time, a lady came out and began to rattle off the names of the traffic offenders. Each offender went up, one by one, until, at last, my name was called. "I can reduce your speed to 74 in a 65", she said with great conviction, "and you can pay a fine, or....oh wait, you were going too fast to take the class and get the points taken off of your license; yep, your only choice is to pay the fine or to plead 'not guilty' and show up in court".

I took the fine.

I was so glad to leave that place that I almost forgot that I had no cash on me to pay the parking deck fee. Luckily, there was an ATM nearby, so I pulled out $20 (the smallest denomination available), and proceeded to exit the parking deck. Little did I know that the machine that allowed me to pay my fee and exit would spit all of my change out in quarters. The machine began spitting out $15 worth of quarters, and the bar raised up to allow me to exit the parking deck. However, before the machine had finished spitting out all of the quarters, the bar lowered again, and I was left with $15 worth of quarters, and no way out of the parking deck.

What else could I do? I put $5.00 worth of quarters into the machine, pulled out of the parking deck, and headed out onto the highway with $10.00 worth of quarters rattling around in my console and a ticket for $125 in my pocket.

So how much did it cost me to drive 83 mph in a 65 mph zone?

A. A $125 fine
B. A $5 parking fee
C. An additional $5 parking fee
D. 2.5 hours of lost time, in which I could have been earning money at work

All in all, though, I think I got out of this ordeal on top. After all, I did get to see the most exquisite mullet I'd ever seen...and the woman that loved it. That, my friends, is worth every remaining quarter in my console.