Slice of Stupid Searcher

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Won't you be my neighbor?

So a month or two back there were a couple of break-ins in our neighborhood. A few houses were burgled. That's what burglars do, right? They burgle stuff. Anyway, unbeknownst to me a war was raging between our neighbors. Not a real war, although one guy put up some razor wire and does have an aircraft carrier parked in his driveway (I think I would see this as an act of aggression, but everyone else seems to be ok with it). The real war is a war of words raging on the Home Owners Association Message board. I didn't even know we had a message board, in fact I don't really know how I found out that it existed. But I've copied and pasted some of my favorites. Theses are all direct quotes. Its good readin'.

I'm sorry you support being a victim.

It's none of your business

Can you afford a wireless digital linked securty system with satellite surveillance, guard dogs, and an armed patrol keeping watch over the perimeter of your lawn?

Heck, apply to the HOA for approval to install an alligator infested moat and drawbridge

know that these are burglars; they take things that burglars take

They did not come into our home looking for a briefcase containing government nuclear secrets.

You don't need to read that someone stole money from a home to know that you probably don't need to have a thousand dollars in cash laying by the back door in an envelop labled "cash."

No one was home at the time (subsequently, no one was raped) What!?!

What is now becoming more concerning to me is our community turning into one of hysteria

The HOA are not the police, nor are they clairvoyant to predict the break-ins.

I do know one guy arrested in my yard was wanted for a HOME INVASION Is there burglary without invading a home? Maybe reaching in through an open window with a long pole with a suction cup on the end? I'll keep my eye out for that guy.

Will not attend HOA meeting now

This would eliminate much of the tension or misunderstandings caused by opinion, conjecture and would be jokes

And my all time favorite is this full post which was stuck right in the middle of the angry exchange and had absolutely nothing to do with any of the other posts. But she does have a point, the dogs do bark like crazy bad.

I like this idea, but my son works for the White House, & daughter is inBoone student teaching our next generation! ..... all the dogs are barking?like crazy!!!! BAD!!!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

On Restriction

Until recently I haven't really been too concerned about travel restrictions. Some of them just make sense. I mean, it is fairly obvious that 4 ounces of hair gel is way more dangerous than 3 ounces. Especially if it is not stored in a transparent zip top bag. And what about those lethal tray tables. It is common knowledge that if left in the down position during take off or landing lives will be in danger.

But lately there is one travel restriction that I find to be absolutely ridiculous and almost unbearable. The restriction? No strollers on the escalator at the mall. Why no strollers? I don't know. I don't see stickers plastered everywhere restricting any other four wheeled vehicles from using the escalator. Does that mean if I was traveling via, say, a riding lawnmower I am good to use the escalator? What if I was pushing one of those media carts that your elementary school librarian used to push the laser disk player and TV on. Ahhh, laser disks. Do you remember laser disks? You know, a paper thin disk the size of a tire swing that played low definition movies. Can't believe those didn't take off. Anyway, I guess I could take one of those on the escalator, because it isn't expressly forbidden. 

Why all the whining? Why not just take the elevator, you say? Have you ever tried to find an elevator in the mall? They put one in each department store at opposite ends of the mall. As if fighting your way through a sea of prepubescent teens to another zip code wasn't bad enough, you then have to hope the signs will actually lead you to the elevator. I swear one department store we were in made you circle the store twice before finally coming to the elevator stashed in the furniture department. Who knew department stores had furniture departments? Who says, "Hey honey, lets go to the mall and pick up an Orange Julius and a chaise lounge?" I swear, its like trying to find a warp zone on Super Mario Brothers. The other option is to use the one well-marked elevator out in the open. The only problem with that, is that anyone with a stroller is also looking for that same elevator and the line looks like cattle headed to a slaughterhouse. When (or if) you actually make it to the elevator you get jammed in to a shoebox which clearly is not made to hold more than 2 people let alone the SUV's of the stroller world. And once you're in there, the tension builds. Here you have two estrogen enraged mothers each with this new bundle of joy in their lives. They are used to people gawking and oohing and ahhing over their little man cub. Along for the ride are the husbands who in the event of a physical altercation would be forced to make some attempt to protect their baby's mama. The akwardness is potent and nauseating, like a fart in the shower. Its like bringing two sumo wrestlers to an all-you-can-eat buffet, egos will be crushed and someone's going home hungry...for  attention. Rarely can the silence last. It is usually broken by some lame line like, "So... how old is he, or...uhh... she?" Having spent years creating akward silences, I am never the one to crack under the pressure and actually relish the opportunity to watch the other couple squirm. You can almost see the discomfort pour out of the opening elevator doors as the couples back out their little baby movers, careful not to make eye contact with each other. 

All of this could be avoided if they would just let strollers on the escalator. What is keeping me from giving it a try? I know what you're thinking, "You don't seem like the type to follow all the rules. Especially the dumb ones." I mean really, will some kind of alarm go off if I take the stroller on the escalator? The truth is, at the bottom of the escalator sits Frankie, "The Triangle's Smallest Balloon Artist." Honestly, do they really expect me to believe that a there is seriously a midget balloon animal maker? Come on, it is too obvious. And too convenient. Franky is clearly an undercover agent sent to keep people like me from enjoying the convenience of an escalator trip with my family. So for now Frankie and his escalator mafia win and I am relegated to riding the elevator. Which I guess isn't the end of the world, as I did see a nice entertainment center last time through.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I've been to Hell and back

You know, I’m not real sure exactly what Hell would be like. I obviously hope to never find out. But the image of a burning fire and brimstone Hell seems kind of silly to me, because I think you probably would eventually just acclimatize to the heat and it can’t really be so hot that it kills you, because you are already dead. Then, if there is a lake of fire there has to be a beach at the lake, right? Sounds like a party to me! And if the people who you traditionally think of as going to Hell actually go to Hell, then they are most likely looking for a party anyway, right? So I have always thought of Hell as a more personalized place. A place specially tailored for each of as an individual. Recently I had a taste of my own personal Hell. It is a little place called…Babies- R-Us! I don’t know if anyone has been here, but it is a place where women wander around aimlessly led by lists of stuff that the registry book has convinced terrified mothers-to-be they can’t live without, but that no one actually needs. Mothers have had children for thousands of years without having a timer that “syncs to the baby’s natural cycle” and notifies you when it is time to feed them. Now admittedly, I am not a father quite yet but I always thought the screaming baby would be a pretty good indicator of its need for attention.

Men have it worse than the women. At least the women have some kind of goal associated with their visit. The guys that wander around have this glazed-over look and just consistently nod their heads and mutter under their breath over and over again, “Yes, dear. What ever you think is best, dear.” What is really going on in their head involves something more along the lines of: “A wipe warmer? What on earth do we need a wipe warmer for? I had my butt wiped with cold wipes and look how good I turned out. Millions of years…cold wipes…let the baby choose… dirty diaper or cold wipes… can’t we just microwave them…? (Men actually mumble in their thoughts too).” But all that comes out is, “Yes, dear. What ever you think is best, dear.”

You see, the strategy here is two fold. First, by agreeing with everything, we hope that we can get out of the store faster. Two, we are concentrating on running a real-time cost-benefit analysis. We are comparing the monetary cost of whatever far flung object our baby momma is insisting that our offspring will perish without, to the emotional, opportunity, and occasionally, physical cost of an angry wife. It usually goes something like this:

Wife: Look at this; I think we need one of these.

Man: $42.99 for a wedge of foam to hold the baby’s head at a perfect angle while preventing a flat spot on its soft skull. Hmmm, sounds important.

(Meanwhile, in his head): $42.99, are you serious? Why don’t we just burn it? At least then we could warm our hands before it is completely wasted. But if I say no, she will be mad at me for the rest of the day and think I don’t care about the baby.)

Man: Yes, dear. What ever you think is best, dear.

Pretty much no monetary amount is worth saving if it causes you to go toe-to-toe (belly) with a hormonally driven, emotionally unstable pregnant woman. Especially when surrounded by a store full of other hormonally driven, emotionally unstable pregnant women, you’re in their world, now. That’s like attacking Al-Qaida in their mountain retreats. You don’t win those, and very rarely do you walk away alive. So instead, you slip into a semi comatose state and silently monitor the dropping balance of your checking account. It hurts, I know. And there is no epidural for that kind of pain.

In my case, there is a third reason to agree with everything. There is a REI next door and if I behave, then I get to go in there for a minute.

Part of what causes me to suffer so much while there is the stupidity of the some of the products. Gallons of “Nursery Purified Water.” How on earth can you be a good parent and feed your new baby normal purified water when you can pay $4 a gallon for “Baby Water?” Then there is the big sign hanging over the gift section called “Birth and Up.” Is there another option? Birth and before? What, are we giving prenatal gifts now? Really? Not to mention the baby blanket that says, “Boys Rock!” I think I am going to spend the first 20 years of my daughter’s life trying to prevent her from even knowing that boys exist, let alone rock.

I guess that Babies-R-Us can’t actually be my Hell because I did chuckle at a couple of things while there. The first was the 17 year old boy who proudly wore his purple employee’s shirt as he helped the customers find things they didn’t need. What on earth would inspire a teenage boy to work at Babies -R-Us? Did he lose a bet? Is he a little sweet? I asked my wife and she suggested maybe it was to pick up chicks. Like taking Home Ed in high school. If that is the case, well done buddy, well done.

The other thing that made me laugh was the, “Go, Diego Go!” potty training toilet seat. I looked around for other seats that were personalized toilet seat like, “Go, Tommy Go!” or, “Go, Sally Go!” ‘Cause a little encouragement can go a long way! It was even funnier when I found out that Go Diego Go is the name of a TV show and not just a vigorous encouragement for a Spanish boy to use the potty.

All things considered, I think my personal Hell will most likely be a combination of Babies-R-Us and window shopping, with a smattering of “What not to Wear” and a full season of the WNBA thrown in for extra suffering.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dear Netflix,

I wrote this letter to Netflix before I realized that you can't contact customer service via email. You have to call them. Who would have thought? A big, new, high tech internet-based company and you can't email them. Crazy, I know. I guess I'll have to call.

To Whom It May Concern:

I have been a loyal customer for several years now and I really love the service you provide. You guys have always been great to me and I have a small favor to ask and I am hoping that you can help me. You see, I have been waiting on a couple of movies that have been at the top of my queue for several months, but they keep getting skipped over. In fact, one of them says “Long wait” and the other says “Very long wait.” Generally, this would not be a problem; I can wait for most movies. However, the movies that I am waiting for are titled, “Laugh and Learn About Childbirth: Disc 1 and Disc 2.” And frankly, I think I’m running out of time. I’m thinking I’ve 2 weeks. Maybe 3 weeks, tops. At this point I don’t really care so much about the laughing part, but the learning I think might be something I need to experience. You see, we went to this “How to survive the first 3 months with your new baby” class not too long ago, so I feel like I have at least some idea about what I’m facing there. But when we were there I saw some pictures that I didn’t quite understand and have me slightly terrified. Hence, the need for childbirth videos. I recognize that getting any kind of medical or parenting advice from a video is kind of shady. I understand that, but I’m ok with it and at this point I don’t really have a choice, as all the local classes are full. You guys have the ability to keep me from being forced to get that information from YouTube. Think about. Do the right thing. I’m sure that there may be other people in my shoes, but did they send you an email? I promise I’ll watch it the day I get it and stick it right back in the mail. I might watch it twice if it is really funny or if I need to take notes. But either way, right back into the mail it goes. Thank you for your consideration of my special request. Please let me know if you can help.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Ball Joints

So, the other day I was cleaning up our truck because it has become a life-sucking money pit and we were going to look for a new car and would be potentially trading it in. I wanted it to look nice and shiny on the outside to help hide its evil inner soul. The mechanic gave us a subtle hint as to the fate of the truck the last time we took it in. We took it in because it was spewing a chocolate milk colored substance all over the driveway and I didn’t remember filling the chocolate milk reservoir under the hood. To quote the mechanic, “I’d git this thang fixed up real good this time and than sell it as fast as you can, cause it ‘aint gonna give you nothin’ but heartache (misspellings added).” And of course we didn’t “Sell it as fast as we can,” and of course it went back to the mechanic. We are now subleasing our backyard for sheep grazing in an attempt to pay the repair bills.

Anyway, as I was giving the truck what I hoped was its final scrub, I found myself having a conversation with the truck, it went something like this.

Me: You know, it didn’t have to end up like this.

Truck: (silence)

Me: It’s just... you really let yourself go

Truck: (silence)

Me: I mean, we gave you every advantage we could afford. We even rode our bikes to work and school for five years to keep your mileage down.

Truck: And how do you think that made me feel, seeing the other cars getting to go out and experience the world while I just sat there covered in oak sap? You heard the mechanic; the rust came from not being used.

Me: We didn’t know! We thought it was good for you. But that’s not even the point. Look at yourself lately… lower ball joints? Really? And the mechanic said the upper ball joints aren’t far behind. I mean, that’s just basic hygiene.

Truck: Sometimes I wonder, what’s the point? Why bother?

Me: Don’t talk like that; we had some good times too!

Truck: Oh yeah, like what?

Me: What about the everglades? You got to carry the canoe.

Truck: That thing’s a piece of crap!

Me: HEY! I know it’s not pretty, but it’s reliable. Unlike….

Truck: What?

Me: Nothing. There were all those trips to the beach. Those were fun, right?

Truck: You mean the ones where you wouldn’t pay the three bucks to drive on the beach? Man, I’ve got 4 wheel drive. I was made for that stuff. But like you would even know. How many times did you even put me in 4 wheel drive? Three? Four?

Me: You’re right. Maybe we could have taken a little better care of… (Trails off as I notice power steering fluid dripping off a gasket on the front steering arm, which I already replaced once)

Truck: You were saying?

Me: Nothing. We’re done here. I’m gonna vacuum and we’re done.

Truck: What did I say? Oh, come on. I’ll do better.

Me: (silence)

Truck: I’ll get better gas mileage.

Me: (silence)

Truck: I’m paid for. Can’t beat that. Come on! No payments… That’s nice, right?

The truck’s pleadings were soon drowned out by the roar of my shop vac. Which, on a side note, has enough suction to pick up a 10 pound boat anchor. No, really it does. I know from experience. You’ve gotta be careful where you aim it because you may unintentionally shop vac stuff you don’t want to.

To our dismay we came home with the truck, but there is always next weekend. I hope it dies a slow painful death in a scrap yard, slowly having its last usable parts ripped from its core until there is nothing left but a shell of its former self. Or not, whatever.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Follow me to Freedom

I recently had the "opportunity" to hike the Freedom Trail through downtown Boston. Not really having any idea what the Freedom Trail was, I had many grand ideas swirling in my head. My first thought was that it was the trail that William Wallace hiked after he screamed "Freedom!" in the movie Braveheart. Turns out his head was lopped off shortly after that, so he wasn't hiking anywhere. So I ruled that out. Ok, so I guess that was my only thought. What I found out is the Freedom Trail is a red line painted on the sidewalk that zigs and zags through downtown linking "historic" sites and just happens to pass through the shopping district like, 18 times.

I didn't really pay a whole lot of attention, but if someone at some point did use the Freedom Trail to escape from someone (or something?), the red line would make it easy know how to find Freedom... and would be really easy for the pursuers to know where you went. Maybe not the best idea if you are being chased. I got to see all kinds of fascinating sites, like Mother Goose's grave, Starbucks, and Paul Revere's church. You know, "One if by land, Two if by sea, Three if you really don't care." (I added that last part).

The point of all this is, that about halfway through (what seemed like about 22 miles into the trail) the Freedom Trail runs through a big courtyard surrounded by, you guessed it, Freedom Shops. These shops were the ones that our Fore (Four) (What? I have four dads?) Fathers shopped at, like Crate & Barrel and Banana Republic. I actually think that at Paul Revere's time they were fighting for their freedom from the Banana Republic, but that may not be quite historically accurate. Like I said, I didn't pay much attention.

Anyway, in this courtyard is your usual cornucopia of "street performers." The human statute, the jugglers, and the hip hop dance troupe to name a few. We walked up as the crowd was building and the hip hoppers were reaching the climax of their show. So picture this, a big speaker hooked up to a beat-down boombox, all duct-taped to a wheeled moving dolly. It really is the ultimate in portable music. So I'm standing and watching these 6 "brothas" (their words, not mine) wow the crowd with their clever wit and magical moves. At the same time that I'm being drawn into the beat of the music, I hear another voice out of my left ear; it starts out small and barely audible but gets closer and louder. I could only hear bits and pieces between the laughter and cheers of the crowd. It went something like this:

Right ear: ...need a volunteer from the crowd... you will do... come on out here.

Left Ear: ...Join Us...Bloodshed...Traitor... Death

Right Ear: Alright Boston, make some noise for our volunteer!!!! YEEEAAAHHHH!! (cheers)

Left Ear: ...Exciting... History... War...FREEDOM!!!

At this point I look over to see where this intriguing monologue was coming from and I saw him. Tights, puffy shirt, hat with a feather. I guess they call this "period attire." What that period it was I don't really know, I didn't realize dork was a period (that was mean, and I apologize) but two things became obvious: he was advertising Freedom Trail tours and he had to walk exactly on the red line painted on the ground (The Freedom Trail). I don't know if that last point was expressly written in his employment contract or just personal preference, but it was clear, he was sticking to his guns.

Right Ear: Alright Boston, my buddy Stringbean here will attempt to jump over, count 'em: 1...2...3...4...5...6 brothas...and one white kid (The volunteer). (Crowd laughs)

Left Ear: (Marching up and down along the crowd but staying exactly on the line) Tours begin soon... Come joins us for intrigue, deceit, and treason!! Learn about the history of this great city!

About this time a police car went flying by with its lights and sirens on and all 7 brothas simultaneously hit the deck and assumed different "I'm being arrested positions," leaving the white kid standing alone with a confused look on his face. The mostly white crowd went silent and for a second I thought things were going to get a bit awkward. It turns out that they were just inhaling really deep in order to let out a roaring raucous laughter. After the sirens died down the MC said something to the effect of "Wow, things are different here than in New York," and the crowd laughed again.

Right ear: (Dancers and white kid are lined up shoulder to shoulder and bent at the waist) Alright Boston, we have done this enough to know that as soon as Stringbean jumps over, count 'em: 1...2...3...4...5...6 brothas...and one white kid you are all going to leave. So we've gotta ask you for one favor... If you've enjoyed this show...

Left Ear: (At about this time, the crowd spilled over the line, blocking the freedom trail) Please join us...(trying to push his way through the crowd while staying on the line) Amazing tours... Um excuse me...excuse me...I'm trying to get through. Freedom Tours starting on the hour!

Right Ear: Open your wallets and take out 5... Or 10 dollars....and give us the rest (crowd laughs). No, really! If you give us 5 dollars we'll go home with full bellies...if you give us 10 dollars we'll go home feeling like we really made your day...

Left ear: (Now enveloped by the crowd, he can't move, but is determined to not get off the line) Freedom Tra...(crowd cheers) Join us at the top of the ho...(crowd applause) Learn abo...(laughter)

Right ear: And if you give us 20 dollars we'll go home... with you. No really, we'll ride home with you and do whatever you want us to. (crowd laughs)

Left ear: (Having had every attempt to yell immediately cut off by the crowd cheering for the duct taped boombox dance group, and stuck sandwiched in the enemies crowd by personal resolve to not leave the line he had no choice but to join them) Freedom tra... Excuse me... You know what... Whatever, ...GO STRINGBEAN!!!

It was at about this point we left. I don't know if Stringbean cleared, count 'em: 1...2...3...4...5...6 brothas...and one white kid, and I don't know if the crowd ever cleared enough for the Freedom tour guy to continue along his way, but I did learn two things. First, breakdancing and sideways hats will always draw a bigger crowd than history and puffy shirts and tights. And secondly, it's ok for black people to make fun of stereotypes about racial profiling in a large crowd of white people.

The Freedom trail really was a learning experience.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

I can't make this stuff up...

I unwittingly turned the world of carryout pizza on its head tonight. You see, my wife refuses to eat more than 2 pieces of pizza, and I refuse to have my pizza turned into a fruit salad. It went something like this.

Me: I’d like to make a carryout order

Papa Johns: What would you like tonight?

Me: I’d like a large pizza with one quarter ham and pineapple and 3 quarters pepperoni and onions. (I guarantee alarms went off somewhere at Papa Johns central command)

Papa Johns: Oh! Did you say you want one quarter ham and pineapple?

Me: Yes

Papa Johns: Well…uh…one quarter?

Me: Yeah, its one fourth of the pizza. Half of a half.

Papa Johns: Um…huh… that would be a special order.

Me: Aren’t they all special orders?

Papa Johns: Well, I would have to transfer you for that.

Me: What? Transfer? Where am I?

Papa Johns: I can do half and half, but a quarter... (Trails off in shock then mumbles something about a special order)

Me: Ok, do what you have to. Let’s make it happen.

Papa Johns: Um…yeah…please hold.

New Papa Johns: How can I help you?

Me: I need to make a carryout order.

New Papa Johns: Ok, what’ll it be?

Me: I’d like a large pizza with one quarter ham and pineapple and 3 quarters pepperoni and onions.

New Papa Johns: Um, well…we can do half and half

Me: I don’t want half and half I want a quarter and three quarters.

New Papa Johns: I don’t know if we can do that. I’ll have to check.

Voice in background: A what? Quarters? Half, we only do halves.

New Papa Johns: We can do half and half.

Me: I got that much, but I don’t want half and half.

New Papa Johns: I don’t know what to tell you

Me: Are you serious? Since you guys are stuck on halves, can you do half of a half with ham and pineapples?

New Papa Johns: Um, a what?

Me: You know what… Never mind. You win. I’ll take half and half.

New Papa Johns: Half and Half of what?