December 07, 2013
Getting the Axe
FULL DISCLOSURE: For a few months, 13 years or so ago, I used Axe Body Spray. I admit it. I’m not proud of it. My body probably still resents me for using it. But, hey, at least I admit it.
Let’s be honest here, Axe Body Spray is horrible stuff. You could douse yourself in charcoal lighter fluid, and you’d smell better than if you spritzed yourself with Axe. That’s just scientific fact.
To be fair, I have a good excuse for trying Axe all those years ago. Specifically, I’m stupid. And I’m also lazy. I was grocery shopping, and I saw Axe, and I bought a few bottles. It was personal hygiene packaged as Lysol. How could I go wrong?
I still have two of those original bottles. Full. I would throw them away, but the earth has enough problems without me adding those two Axe bottles into a landfill. Plus, they may come in useful in the event of a zombie apocalypse, because even zombies would be repelled by Axe—they prefer people with brains, after all.
A little known fact about Axe: it was introduced by Unilever in 1983 in. . . France. Yeah, France. If there’s a nation requiring an aerosol blast of fumigation, it would be France. But, did France have to go and export the vile stuff to America? Yes. It was payback for the ridiculously low price we paid for the Louisiana Purchase.
So, yeah, Axe is disgusting, despite all those ads showing women flocking to Axe-infused men as if they recently rolled in a pile of sticky $1,000 bills. Those ads are incredibly deceitful.
All of that said, I simply must point out that Axe is not alone when it comes to odor abominations. The Bath and Body Works (BBW) chain is perhaps the world’s foremost nasal offender when it comes to peddling assaulting scents. What makes BBW particularly nefarious, however, is that you don’t realize how horrible some of their products smell until AFTER they’ve had a chance to adhere to your skin for a few minutes. Oh, sure, the fragrances smell great when you hold the bottle up to you nose and give it a gentle squeeze, but squish the liquid into a luffa and lather your body up, and half an hour later you’re wondering why your children are in a corner gagging for air.
This morning, for example, I was in the shower and I noticed a new BBW body wash fragrance my wife purchased called “white citrus,” which in retrospect is a peculiar, misleading name. I mean, you wouldn’t tear into an “albino orange,” would you? No, you’d think it was a snowball.
Anyway, I saw the “white citrus” body wash and decided to give it a try, and as I was lathering up I thought it did, indeed, have a modest citrus smell to it. After I dried off and was throwing on some clothes, however, I found myself wondering “What in the world is that smell that’s all over my body?”
I smelled exactly like the glue I used to assemble plastic models when I was nine years old. I was immediately transported back in time to all those airplane and motorcycle replicas with a veneer of excess glue smeared over all the pieces, because I couldn’t put models together to save my soul. AND I COULDN’T ESCAPE THE SMELL. I WAS the smell. And I couldn’t very well get away from myself, now could I? I was stuck with that stink all day.
So, yes, Axe Body Spray is atrocious, but BBW has its own unacceptable array of horrid odors that no one ever tells you about.
I mean, seriously. WHITE CITRUS?
December 03, 2013
I've been ignoring my ThunderJournal in favor of Facebook for a long time. Years, in fact. But, occasionally, I like to re-purpose stuff I post on Facebook here on my trusty ThunderJournal.
At our store, Antiquity Furniture, we bring in some unusual items from time to time. About a month ago, we received an old viewfinder--originally called a "stereoscope"--dating from around 1895.
It's in remarkable condition, considering its age. Of course, these things were made in abundance, so it's only worth about $30 or so. But, it came with hundreds of 3-D slides, which provide an amazing historical record that's also often unintentionally hilarious. And also racist.
I've been scanning these images and posting my own personal commentary to my Facebook page for weeks now, and while it amuses me greatly, it amuses only about five of my Facebook "friends." So, I'm posting them again here on my trusty ThunderJournal, because my ThunderJournal is trusty.
We'll start with a fairly racist slide:
Here, Guinan from Star Trek TNG bursts forth from her shackled imprisonment in the cellar, much to the surprise of the two privileged white lads napping atop the doors. And what does Guinan have to say for herself, back in 1898?
"Deed Child's, I's Didn't Know You's Was Dare."
This slide is titled: "Mrs. Brown Returns; Unexpected."
Oh, snap! For his part, Mr. Brown doesn't seem too upset about having his infidelity discovered so abruptly. Then again, the combination of him draining the bottle of wine, and his mistress's absurdly hypnotic striped shirt (and socks), have probably dulled his reflexes a bit.
This is even more disturbing in 3-D, if you can imagine that. It's titled: "A Man! At Last, a Man!" You have to wonder what the hell this guy was doing under the bed, and why he chose such a hostile environment to begin with. The woman on one knee is about to really unleash a serious beatdown with that shoe, but the woman with the hairbrush, straddling the footboard is ready to act if that bastard dares to stand up. I would almost feel sorry for the guy, but then again he did voluntarily choose to hide under the bed of the Stygian witches.
"2 A.M. And He Rolls in Quite Early"
It takes some doing to remove a jacket sleeve while clutching a bottle of hooch, but this guy has talent. The look on his face just screams "I'm in so much damned trouble, but it was WORTH IT!" The wife just seems resigned to the whole routine, and will deal out punishment after he sleeps it all off.
I are serious cat. This is serious rat.
Actual slide title: "Rat on Toast--For Dinner."
Well, that's good. You don't want to eat rat for breakfast; it makes you sluggish and thick-headed. But, for dinner, rat is a great choice, provided you follow it up with a good nap.
Ah, the good old days, when Gabe Kotter would hoist you up by your jodhpurs and rap your ass with a red wooden board. And that was just for talkin' sass, by crackey. People don't wear jodhpurs as much as they should nowadays. I should invest in a pair and start a new jodhpurs trend.
This is even more racist in 3-D, which is saying something. But it's also just so darned funny. And adorable. When I was flipping through the slide stack and saw this one, I literally shot Diet Coke out my nose, and I'm here to tell you, that freakin' STINGS.
"Did You Say Watermelon Was No Good?"
"Help!; or, The Housemaid's Hard Luck."
How boring was life in 1898? Imagine loading a viewfinder with this image, focusing it just right, taking in the scene, and asking yourself "Gosh, I can't wait to see what happens next!"
So, you load up the viewfinder with the second image and OH NO, THINGS HAVE GONE DOWNHILL! Can't say I feel too bad for her predicament, honestly. Why did she go that far down the dock to fill those jugs? And why would you use a unmoored boat for stability. This girl is clearly dumb as a bag of hammers and so deserves her impending, watery fate. But, morbid curiosity dictates we must load the third image in the series into the viewfinder.
And you get the third image loaded up, focused in--by now you've invested ten minutes of your life into this nail-biting drama--and you see SHE DID INDEED FALL IN! I CAN'T BELIEVE IT! TOTALLY DIDN'T EXPECT THIS! And apparently a guillotine blade fell from the sky, cleaving her neatly in two.
Now we're segueing into the "Sportsman's Series" of viewfinder slides, which are both funny but also interesting historical snapshots from 1898.
He always knew it was just a matter of time before his son came out of the closet, but did he HAVE to announce it before THE RACE?!
This one surprised me at bit, for a couple of reasons. A) Why was this part of the "Sportsman's Series?" It would be like going into Dick's Sporting Goods today and seeing a noose for sale. B ) How was a lynching considered an appropriate subject for a viewfinder? "Gather around kids, and look at the dead man hanging from a tree. IN 3-D!"
"The Last Buffalo (Dead)."
It's a good thing they put in the parenthetical "dead," or I'd be thinking the buffalo was simply pining for the Badlands. What's cool about this image--besides the Russian hat--is the rifle looks to be an actual "buffalo rifle," or a Sharps model, which gave rise to the term "sharpshooter."
"A Yearling In Hard Luck."
Pretty accurate description. Not even a year old, and now it's dead and about to be slit from groin to thyroid. That's pretty hard luck.
"Sam Black Gets a Shot at 'Br'er Rabbit"
Segueing back to racist-ish-ness-y. Sam Black. Really? Sam BLACK?
If he misses the rabbit from that range, with the rabbit basically posing for him, he has no business being out hunting. Then again, his son is hoisting some other dead rabbits, so he must have at least some proficiency with a rifle. Right? Right?!
"Lordy, Dad! Be Yous Kilt?"
So, in answer to my previous question: No, he does not have proficiency with a rifle. Thus, I have no idea how he managed to bag all those other rabbits. Perhaps they were frozen in place, and he plucked them like carrots. Regardless, he's obviously pretty shitty with a rifle, getting knocked on his ass by the kick. As for his son's terrible grasp of turn of the century English, I can only chalk that up to Common Core.
"Oh! Golly, But Dat Ol' Gun Done Kick."
Again, why is he just discovering the gun's kick now? Has he never fired it before? How the HELL did he get those other rabbits? Did he run them down and tackle them? Now, the text itself can be construed as being slightly racist-ish, but there's actually more to these slides: the backs consist of explanatory paragraphs that are hilarious in their own way. This particular slide reads: "By the time he gets home, his cheek will be so swollen, mammy will think he is using it for a pouch to carry a rabbit in."
They actually did use the word "mammy" back in the day. That's just freakin' AWESOME!
"Reducing the Surplus. 'Now, Pull Hard!'"
Nowadays, we call this "scrunching up the fat." Okay, we don't actually say that, but we should. You know you're really pushing the limits of your corset when your best friend has to bury her foot in between your butt cheeks to scrunch in all that "surplus."
"What Did I Tell You If I Caught You Again?"
Huh. There's a lot going on here. For reasons that escape me entirely, somebody scraped the policeman's face off, so that's one disturbing component to this image. Another disturbing thing is "WHAT DID HE TELL HIM IF HE CAUGHT HIM AGAIN?" What perverted interplay is about to transpire? We'll never know, because this is the only image in the set. CURSES!
"Celebrating the Great and Glorious 4th of July"
Seems like an excessive reaction on her part. I mean, it appears to be a pretty wimpy looking cannon firework to me, especially compared to the half stick of dynamite by her right foot.
"The Day After the 4th of July Celebration"
What the hell, man? Did they send him off to war? The little cannon barely looks like anything happened to it, and there's no damage to the steps at all. More importantly, if this is the day after the celebration, why are they wearing the same clothes? That's a pretty nasty gash on his left shin. They can put an "X" bandage on his cheek boo-boo, but the exposed shin bone is left to the gangrene gods.
"Still There's No Place Like Home"
By 1909, viewfinder technology had advanced by leaps and bounds. The slides were now available in black & white images, which had to be a marvel of the time. Yes, now you could settle in with a viewfinder to see a domestic scene where children tinker with a proto-Erector Set and granny entertains herself with a . . . viewfinder! No doubt she has that 1898 image of the naked boy butt and the police officer focused in, so thus we know the true culprit who scraped the officer's face off.
November 05, 2013
Light at the End of the Tunnel
If your goal in life is to have impossibly high stress levels, blood pressure that would make most tea kettles whistle loud enough to shatter glass and gastrointestinal issues that sound like you’re grinding a tractor transmission inside your stomach, I highly suggest the time-honored activity known as “having children.”
I have two children, a four-year-old boy and a two-year-old girl, and their combined mission is to ensure I never have 10 consecutive seconds of peace or relaxation. Oh, sure, they do cute things on occasion, but every segue into cuteness is just a prelude into them getting on my nerves or embarking on activities that even Evel Knievel wouldn’t dare to attempt. Jumping over the fountains at Caesar’s Palace with a motorcycle is nothing compared to some of the things my son will decide to do at the spur of any given moment.
Last Sunday, for example, we decided to take a family outing to a nearby park and animal zoo. The weather was pleasant, the leaves were falling, and everything seemed to suggest the day would be enjoyable and relatively without care.
My son believes such a day is completely unacceptable. If his father isn’t having a minor coronary event, then he isn’t doing his job as a four-year-old. He has a reputation and a duty to uphold.
As I said, the day was fantastic, as early November days go; the sky was clear and sunny, and we were looking forward to enjoying one of the last days of the year during which we could embark outdoors without 18 layers of clothing.
And, we were really having a great day! We saw wolves, and coyotes, and a cougar and porcupines and much more. And we fed crabapples to goats. And we made big piles of leaves for the kids to jump into. Oh, it was blissful, fun, and very close to being wonderful, which is a big deal for me.
And then my son just disappeared.
One moment, he was lying in a pile of leaves, asking me to cover him up, and the next moment he was just. . . gone. I spun a quick circle were I stood and I managed to catch a quick flash of red and white as his Toy Story sneakers disappeared into a nearby culvert.
To be fair, I was somewhat fascinated by culverts when I was a child, so the genetic predisposition to explore culverts is ingrained within his DNA. However, I always limited myself to exploring culverts that were large enough for me to walk through, or at least crouch my way through. By comparison, the culvert my son abruptly decided to explore last week was barely large enough to allow water through it. Seriously, a bowling ball would be a tight fit in that culvert, and now my son was in it.
I can’t adequately convey with mere words the sound I heard within my head when my brain realized my son had army-crawled into a culvert, but I imagine it was as close to hearing a 1,000 car pile-up as I’ll ever get. In a futile gesture, I buried my arm into the culvert up to my shoulder and uselessly waved my hand around, hoping to grasp an ankle, preferably his. But, alas, he was already halfway through the culvert by that time.
As a father, I’ve had to make some pretty odd decisions over the past four years, and that November afternoon included a decision that will be included in my forthcoming book “I Did WHAT, Exactly?!” Faced with the reality that there was no way I’d be able to squish myself into that culvert without getting stuck like a cork in a bottle, I instead ran to the opposite mouth of the culvert, got down on my hands and knees and yelled “Come on, buddy! You can do it!” Sure, I was remembering the harrowing news story about Baby Jessica in the well, but I saw no real reason why I couldn’t try to at least encourage him out of that culvert.
And, indeed, after about 20 seconds, my impossibly filthy child emerged, grunting and smiling ear to ear, from the culvert. He was covered in dirt and cobwebs, but he was absolutely delighted with himself as he exclaimed “Neat tunnel!”
I think I spent the rest of the day breathing into a paper bag, but I really can’t remember.
October 29, 2013
"Glitch Girl" Abandons ObamaCare Website
Unknown ACA Covergirl Last Seen With Max Headroom
WASHINGTON D.C. (Rhodes Media Services) -- The smiling face that has become synonymous with the most fantastic Web site roll out disaster in history has inexplicably disappeared from the catastrophically plagued Affordable Care Act (ACA) Web page.
The woman's identity remains a closely guarded secret, although sources close to Rhodes Media Services say there may be clues hidden in the NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden.
Some of the "best and brightest" who have been brought in to untangle the Christmas light bolus that is the ACA Web site said they have seen the ObamaCare covergirl--nicknamed "Glitch Girl"--over the past couple weeks only fleetingly, but they confess her demeanor and personal appearance have deteriorated considerably.
"Oh, yeah, I totally saw her sitting in a corner, weeping, with an empty bottle of Boone's Farm clutched in her hand," said Jeffrey Chihuk, a recent computer science graduate from Scranton Community College, who has been updating the Blogger front end code for the ACA site. "A girl programmer I know said she saw her balled up in the fetal position in the girl's shower room."
Another programmer, who was working his way through a 12-pack of Mountain Dew and several Red Bulls said he could have sworn he saw "Glitch Girl" making out with 80s technology icon Max Headroom, but he admitted he may have been hallucinating because he hasn't slept in three weeks.
October 25, 2013
Obama Blames Republicans for Inability to Blame Republicans
President upset with lack of finger-pointing options
WASHINGTON D.C. (Rhodes Media Services) -- With his signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act (ACA--better known as ObamaCare--deteriorating on a daily basis, President Obama is lamenting the complete lack of blame he can pin on Republicans.
Standing in the Rose Garden, flanked by a gallery of people who aren't Republicans that he has had to blame instead for the disastrous ACA rollout, the President gestured to the people and expressed his disgust that not one of them was a Republican.
"For the sake of clarity, let me be perfectly clear: these fine, incompetent people behind me, they should be Republicans," said the President. "But, they're not. They're unfortunate second-rate programmers, middle managers, and even some random people I pulled off the street, who I had to wag my finger at in a disappointing manner in an attempt to distance myself from this catastrophic legislative embarrassment. No one is madder than me that not one of these people is a Republican."
Because not a single Republican in the House or Senate voted for the ACA, and because the ACA carries with it the name "ObamaCare," Obama has found it very difficult to deflect blame from Democrats generally and himself particularly for the ongoing rollout failure.
Obama, who at times openly embraced the term "ObamaCare" before the rollout, has subsequently attempted to refer to the healthcare reform as the "Affordable Care Act," although he was overheard on a hot mic suggesting renaming it "RepubliCare," just so he could almost blame something resembling a Republican.
October 21, 2013
A View to a Kill
The Rochester Post-Bulletin ran an "Our View" piece on Saturday that would have been amusing if it weren't so downright gleeful about a government capable of putting a severed horse head in everybody's bed. We'll get to that analogy at the end.
Naysayers regarding Minnesota's state-run health insurance exchange are having a field day with the news that since MNsure's launch nearly three weeks ago, only 5,569 applications for insurance have been completed, covering 11,684 people, and only 3,769 applicants have actually enrolled in a health plan.
I wouldn't say I'm having a field day, necessarily, but I have been considering the irony that what's playing out with MNsure is eerily similar to the e-gaming implosion that was supposed to fund the Vikings new Jawa sandcrawler stadium.
Given that Minnesota has 490,000 uninsured residents, it would be generous to say that enrollment so far is a drop in the bucket.
Yes. Yes, that would be generous.
But some context is in order.
Oh, good, I always enjoy when the P-B attempts some "context."
People still have more than two months to shop before the Jan. 1 deadline. Furthermore, we can't blame would-be customers from staying out of the fray for a while, giving state officials a chance to work the bugs out of an online purchasing system that, although better than the federal exchange, has been far from perfect.
In, other words, just give it time. Let it work out the kinks. It's odd, but I seem to remember reading something similar once. . . Oh, right:
That was an "Our View" that was penned after the P-B sat down with the executive director and chief PR lackey for the Allied Charities of Minnesota. And the P-B fawningly wrote "He opened our eyes." Way to be objective, guys. Anyway, they wrote that back in April, and stated: "By January 2014, the projected e-gaming shortfall could be far less than is anticipated right now, and given that the state has yet to spend a dime on the stadium, there's no reason to rush."
Fast-forward to September, and the P-B lifted a MPR story:
So, there's reason to wonder if the P-B has the necessary prognostic credibility to wax optimistic about MNsure.
We believe there might be another cause for people's reluctance to push the "buy" button.
The penalty for failing to do so isn't very severe.
Leaving aside the fact there shouldn't be a penalty AT ALL, I find it curious that the P-B would use the term "severe," an adjective I usually associate with "burns" or "beating."
One of the less-talked-about aspects of the Affordable Care Act is the tax penalty that could be imposed on those who fail to purchase health insurance.
Less talked about? Really? Maybe if you happen to have been living in a cave, on Mars, with your fingers in your ears, yelling "LALALALALALALALALA!" Then, maybe, MAYBE you have reason to believe the penalty has been "less talked about."
For an individual in 2014, the penalty is $95 or 1 percent of taxable income, whichever is greater.
Sounds like a cakewalk, provided you're an individual, and not, say, a family of four, or something crazy like that. But, let's let the P-B take us down the path of "Hypothetical World," which is apparently populated by single, middle-aged office grunts in a dead-end job, like a newspaper or something.
Let's say an unmarried, self-employed 45-year-old Rochester resident who has $40,000 in taxable income per year is weighing her options. She discovers that she'll pay nearly $400 per month for "Silver" coverage purchased through MNsure, and that's with a $3,000 annual deductible. Furthermore, because of her income, she'll get no federal subsidy.
Plus, her biological clock is ticking in overdrive, and she and the chick from "Life of Julia" are totally going clubbing after work because sometimes they just "have to dance."
So, should she risk a $400 penalty and roll the dice that she doesn't get sick, or should she play it safe — and pay thousands of dollars in health-care premiums?
Well, that depends. Considering she totally needs to get pregnant, pronto, lest she die a withered old spinster. So, she might want to pony up for the silver coverage in the off chance she can score some solid sperm-y swimmers from an unsuspecting bar dude, provided he doesn't decide to go home with "Life of Julia" instead.
We'd prefer that everyone purchase health insurance, but it simply stands to reason that a lot of people will do the math and say, "Maybe next year."
Well, you know, unless you're 20 years old, in which case you can do the math and say "Well, crap, I don't have to buy insurance until I'm 26, so long as my parents are ponying up the dough."
Maybe next year indeed. In 2015, people will have a greater incentive to buy health insurance, as the potential penalties will increase dramatically — up to 2 percent of taxable income, or $975 for a family. By 2016, the total tax penalty for a family that still hasn't purchased health insurance will top $2,000.
This word the P-B uses. . . "incentive." I do not think it means what they think it means. I believe the term they intended to use was "coercion," or "overreach," or "bending over and grabbing the ankles."
That's why we believe it could be at least a year, perhaps more, before we'll have a clear picture of how MNsure and Obamacare as a whole are functioning.
Perhaps, but THAT'S NOT HOW THIS TRAIN WRECK WAS SOLD TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE! They've had over three years to ponder, architect and implement this lugubrious legislative face plant, with the belief people would flock to purchase insurance, the clouds would part, and angels would descend singing "Hallelujah." Instead, not only has enrollment been initially dismal, in a lot of instances people who want to enroll simply can't. And now we're being told "Well, give it at least a year." Talk about lowered expectations.
Right now, people are being asked to purchase health insurance, and some will say "No." But the day will come when that invitation will be more like an offer they can't afford to refuse.
Yeah, they actually wrote that last line. The P-B seems pretty gosh darn okay with the government playing the role of "Vito Corleone."
That should tell you something right there.
October 18, 2013
The Passion of the Christ
One thing I've grown to appreciate repairing old furniture is Phillips head screws. Slotted screws are just plain dumb, and they strip faster than Miley Cyrus. Jesus was a carpenter. He died on a CROSS. He didn't die for the sins of man, he was passionately marketing Phillips head screws. True story.
October 17, 2013
Obama: Stop Listening to People I Disagree With
President urges Americans to stop thinking critically
WASHINGTON D.C. (Rhodes Media Services) -- Fresh off his victory of ending the partial government shutdown and basically re-establishing the status quo, President Obama today spoke to reporters and insisted that Americans should really stop thinking critically and should not listen to people who disagree with him.
"All of us need to stop focusing on the lobbyists and the bloggers and the talking heads on radio and the professional activists who profit from conflict," the President actually said, without even a wink of irony to the mainstream media.
Obama went on to stress that people who disagree with him and his policies tend to be "radicals," "extremists," "terrorists," "kidnappers," "jerks" and "poopyheads."
"The First Amendment is an incredibly important and cherished component of the United States Constitution," Obama explained. "However, my understanding as a Constitutional law professor is that it probably doesn't apply to any speech or writing that I tend to disagree with. I think freedom of speech and the press should only be applicable when it's about how awesome and right I am."
Many members of the press were quick to agree with the President's superior logic, common sense and charismatic denunciation of the First Amendment. Paul Krugman, Pulitzer prize-winning columnist for the New York Times said the President's statements were "erudite" and "dreamy," while E.J." Dionne, columnist for the Washington Post said it was "the most important and correct assessment of the First Amendment ever spoken."
While the President stopped short of advocating the arrest and punishment of those who spoke or wrote about anything he doesn't personally agree with or like all that much, he encouraged Americans to look down on anyone who speaks or writes such things and to "make their lives as uncomfortable as possible until they come to their senses."
"Let me be clear: some bloggers, in particular, really annoy me," Obama said. "Especially that Rambling Rhodes guy. Yeah, he may be hilarious, insightful, and even occasionally profound, but he's always making fun of me, and I can't stand that. I'm not sure how anyone could make his life any worse, but I encourage Americans to try."
October 16, 2013
One Tablet A Day
I'm trying to re-learn how to computer.
That sentence makes no sense, but it accurately reflects my feelings regarding the infernal Samsung tablet computer that has taken up residence in our household.
I realize technology marches on, whether I want it to or not, but the little-uttered secret the technology peddlers aren't telling us is that all the handheld devices, "smart" phones and, yes, tablets, are just stripped down, less powerful versions of the desktop computers I've grown to know, love and depend on.
Seriously, desktop computers were really hitting their stride around 2007--they were packed with hard drive capacity, RAM and every single, necessary application (app) anyone could possibly expect to require or use.
And then someone came along--I'll call him Steve Jobs--and started carving up desktop computers into iPhones and iPads. Jobs is dead now, but his legacy is starkly apparent every time you see someone jab a finger at a screen or say something stupid like "To the Cloud!."
I stubbornly resisted the evolution to tablet computing because I know my way around the PC environment extremely well. Plus, my computer mouse has that comforting and familiar film of hand grime that's been accumulating for several years.
Still, a couple months ago, my wife was enticed by a tablet demonstration at Best Buy, and before I knew what happened we were out a few hundred bucks and we had a Samsung tablet in our house.
And then I was told to set up the tablet to feed off our home's WiFi, and I've been simultaneously hating and loving that tablet ever since.
I hate it because it's NOT QUITE like a PC. It's close, but the Android operating system throws enough Linux curve balls my way that it's like fumbling my way through a dark room searching for a light switch.
I also hate it because the touch screen is. . . well. . . it's TOUCHY. With a keyboard and mouse, it's a pretty safe bet that I won't pull up a stray, unknown application. With a touchscreen, I can't compose an e-mail without accidentally pulling up five games, the weather forecast, and 18 pictures my four-year-old son inadvertently snapped of his feet.
However, I love it because it's also the ultimate toddler silencing device ever constructed. My son and daughter can be yammering at each other like howler monkeys, but as soon as I toss the tablet between them, it's like a cone of calm descends over the house. They do occasionally fight over it, but for the most part it acts like a snootful of chloroform.
We have to be very careful to never, ever, enter credit card information into the tablet, or let the tablet come into contact with a credit card, or to let a credit card flirt with the tablet from across the room, because if we do, our four-year-old son will have us $18,000 in debt within two hours after he downloads 14 million apps. Seriously, he's gotten a hold of Grandma's smartphone and racked up around $20 in downloads, so he's entirely capable of accidentally ruining us.
Even with the credit card limitation, it's astonishing how many "free" apps my son is able to download in a single day. Every evening, I find myself deleting at least two dozen of them. The apps he downloads are almost all games of some sort, and he figures out how to play them all within minutes. It takes me longer to delete them then it takes him to learn them.
Ultimately, I think I hate the tablet mostly because my son is figuring it out faster than I can.
October 15, 2013
To be fair, Chinese Food is pretty good
Here at Rambling Rhodes, the staff is dedicated to propagating the appreciation for musical prodigies in the vein of Rebecca Black, especially when the associated video borders on obscenely, deliciously, hilariously racist.
October 11, 2013
The Revitalizing Power of Zebra Penises
This probably won't mean much to any of you two people who actually still follow this ThunderJournal, but there's major road work taking place in front of our store. The road definitely needed to be upgraded, since it was like driving on the lunar surface.
That said, this isn't just some minor blacktop upgrade; they're completely tearing everything out and putting down a brand new blanket of concrete, complete with new medians (one right in front of store, thank you very much--stores love having a barricade keeping an entire side of traffic from being able to turn in to their parking lot), extensive planters, bus shelters, and glorious new zebra penis monoliths!
Zebra what now?
Okay, they're not actually called zebra penises, but that's basically what they look like to me, and I'm betting you'll agree. You see, I was steered towards an online PowerPoint presentation that shows what the 2nd St. SW, Rochester, MN road revitalization project will entail, and it entails towering zebra penises.
It's part of a larger attempt to re-brand our little section of Rochester, MN as "Uptown," which means "Not Downtown," from what I can understand. Basically, the city of Rochester looked at its basket of discretionary taxpayer lucre and said "Let's waste some of this here money! The taxpayers aren't using it! Hell, they just gave it to us, after all!"
And thus zebra penises were approved.
"Oh, Ryan," you say. "Surely you're exaggerating."
No. No, I'm not.
"Oh, Ryan," you say. "That doesn't look at all like. . . um. . . damn. Would you look at that zebra penis?"
So, how did this zebra penis "art" come to pass? Well, like all good city planners who think highly of themselves and their intellects when they really shouldn't, it started with a quote:
It must be difficult to write something as pretentious as:
"a love of all things water-related, Anne Jefferson blends hydrology, geomorphology, geology, and climate change in her work. She has a Ph.D. from Oregon State University and is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geology at Kent State University, Ohio."
A love of all things water-related? Does that include drowning?
Anyway, from that long-winded quote, the PowerPoint presentation goes here:
Fascinating. From there, the PPT rambles for a few slides, so I'll just provide a quick PhotoShop of my own explaining how the whole flow chart works:
This is apparently what happens when you "blend hydrology, geomorphology, geology, and climate change in your work." You end up with huge zebra penises. Consider yourself warned.
Technically, the zebra penises are referred to as "Urban Markers." A city needs Urban Markers, apparently, so people are made adequately aware that they're in an urban environment, just in case all the people, buildings, traffic, businesses and human activity somehow escapes notice.
We begin with an African American male laughing with two translucent females. The male is even sort of cupping his groin, indicating he's making a not-too-subtle joke about the looming zebra penis in front of them.
The artist called this piece "Zebra Penis at Dusk." Thomas Kincade had nothing on this guy's mastery of light. He's also a mastershader, I'm betting.
This piece is titled "Pigeon Looking Down on Zebra Penis." Honestly, I can't believe no one raised a hand during the presentation and yelled "ZEBRA PENIS!"
The artist was kept up at nights, trying to come up with a title for this slide. Then, one night, he sat bolt upright and yelled "Woman Prefers Bifurcated Zebra Penis!"
During one city planning meeting, a member spoke up and said "Look, I love the whole zebra penis concept. However, I just don't think a huge, erect African equus phallic symbol is suggestive enough. Is there a way we can incorporate the word "UP" into this wasteful and pointless monument somehow?" And the artist said "NO PROBLEM!"
When it comes to wasting taxpayer money on "art," no single zebra penis will suffice. If the funds are available for a large zebra penis, surely there's more available for a bunch of lesser zebra penises (equus penii?). What I like about this is it looks like the smaller zebra penises are following in a line behind the adult zebra penis, like ducks, or geese, or ZEBRA PENISES!
To make this more accurate, the guy standing in front of the zebra penis should be holding a cardboard sign that reads "Homeless. Please help. God bless." Not sure what the guy in the foreground is contemplating. Perhaps he dropped his wallet in the garden in front of him?
Never underestimate the power of symmetric, evenly-spaced zebra penises. You know you're in a powerhouse urban environment when there's a surplus of zebra penis monuments.
The man is sitting there, pondering which was a bigger waste of taxpayer money: the zebra penis on the left, the bench he's sitting on, or the bus stop that looks like it's half full of water--I'd say it's half empty.
The contractor had to include some shameless pandering, of course. Before today, when you heard "Mayo Clinic," you'd think "world class healthcare establishment." Now, thanks to me, when you hear "Mayo Clinic," you'll think "ZEBRA PENIS!"
October 05, 2013
Federal Health Exchange Takedown Bush's Fault
Officials Say Eight Years of IT Infrastructure Neglect Deemed Culprit
WASHINGTON D.C. (Rhodes Media Services) -- The problem-plagued federal healthcare exchange Web site had to be taken down over the weekend, a direct result of failed IT infrastructure investment during the George W. Bush administration, according to Obama White House officials.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a press conference Saturday that the previous administration spent too much time and money on unnecessary wars when it should have been improving HTML, XML, Java, OS/2 and DOS.
"When you have eight consecutive years of IT infrastructure neglect, this is what you should expect," said Carney. "In fact, it's to our credit that the healthcare exchange roll out has been as successful as it has, considering the terrible performance of the Bush administration. I mean, you just can't expect us to click a mouse and fix that much neglect in three years. That's ludicrous."
Carney then went on to list a number of IT acronyms that he insisted were extremely important.
"I mean, just think about CRM," he said. "Really, THINK about CRM! There, you've just thought about CRM more than anyone in the previous administration ever did. For that matter, SOA. Yeah, SOA, I said SOA. Did Bush ever say SOA? Also, VM, PowerVM, RISC, CICS, CPU, BDSM!"
When asked why he didn't include UNIX, AIX or Linux, Carney testily responded "Linux? You mean Lucy's brother? The thumb sucking kid with the blanket? Yeah, I guess he's a lot like Bush, sure."
October 03, 2013
White People Need To Collect Minorities
ST. PAUL, Minn., (Rhodes Media Services) -- White Americans need to start collecting minority friends, according to an organization dedicated to improving race relations in this country.
A Reuters poll conducted back in August found as much as 40 percent of white Americans are surrounded by acquaintances comprised almost exclusively of their own race.
Minnesota Public Radio this morning dedicated a portion of their broadcast to exploring why such a disparity exists, including opening the lines up for listener feedback.
One organization, however, believes such discussions simply aren't enough, and that a concerted effort and ongoing action is necessary to ensure white Americans keep an adequate number of non-white friends on hand at all times to prove their commitment to racial diversity in their personal lives.
Sharon Ogilvy, executive director of the Society to Lift Acquisition of Vital Emerging Racial Yields, explains that promoting diversity requires establishing minority quotas in our daily lives.
"White Americans need to look at their social circles and determine where they can include a minority," she says. "Then, go out and specifically select a minority person or people to keep in their lives. Once you have minorities in your life, you should take special care to keep tabs on those racial acquisitions. Maintain detailed spreadsheets on all your minority friends, including any identifying characteristics. You should do your very best to make it extremely difficult for your minority acquaintances to leave your social circle."
To accomplish this, Ogilvy suggests regularly inviting minority acquaintances over for barbecues, and then segueing the visit into assisting in minor household tasks, such as gardening or general yard work.
"I've found that my minority friends appreciate being thought of as useful to me," explains Ogilvy. "My black friends, particularly, seem to thoroughly enjoy doing modest housekeeping work, like cooking and cleaning. It makes me feel good to know they feel good, and I'm promoting diversity in my daily life while being able to get off my feet for awhile, which is nice."
Ogilvy maintains an impressive collection of several dozen minority acquaintances, comprised of Latinos, African Americans, Asians and even some Indians and Middle Easterners.
"My Indian friends--dot, not feathers--are just excellent about answering my phone, and you can't beat the yard work and landscaping my Latino friends are capable of," she says. "My Asian friends are great for tutoring my children in math, but I would NEVER allow them to drive my kids anywhere. I keep my Middle Eastern friends at a bit of a distance, but they make the most AMAZING rugs."
October 01, 2013
No Longer In Training
Well, my boy is finally potty trained. Actually, he attained the Nirvana level of “Trained of the Potty” several weeks ago, but I didn’t write about the accomplishment back then, because I feared he’d regress to un-potty trained after I posted this, thereby making me a liar—and I take my ThunderJournal reporting integrity and credibility quite seriously.
When we started on the journey of potty training our boy many, many, MANY months ago, my wife and I took it all as an extremely important undertaking, reading as much as we could and listening to the advice of friends and family members. After about three months of our boy steadfastly refusing to consider the wonders of the commode, I started to envision sending him off to college with a box full of custom-made diapers, because it honestly seemed to be an easier and more plausible outcome.
When you have more than one child wearing diapers, the added expense can be considerable. Every time I change a diaper, I swear I can hear the soft “Ka-Jing” of a cash register as I deposit the soiled mass in the diaper receptacle. So, potty training at least one of our two little poop factories was very important to me just from a financial standpoint. My boy, however, seemed to relish his role as a financial diaper burden.
After exhausting all the advice of the “experts” online and in parenting magazines—which are, in my opinion, just page after page of guesses and lies—we finally opted for the advice my mother gave me about how she potty trained my brother and me. Specifically, she just let us run around naked from the waist down until nature and shame took its inevitable course.
It may sound severe, but we were out of options, patience and diapers, so we allowed our boy to treat our home as his own personal nudist colony. While he genuinely seemed to enjoy the freedom nudity provided him, whenever nature started knocking, he’d begin screaming and demanding a diaper. The urge to give in to his full volume demands was intense, but we held firm. Unfortunately, so did he. While he never deposited a loaf anywhere in the house, his digestive system apparently decided to put everything into an indefinite holding pattern. Such was his determination against serving the bowl.
So, now we had a constipated nudist on our hands. We therefore had to resort to Miralax and a variety of poo-inducing foods. Still, days crept by, and each time we directed him to the porcelain throne, he reacted as if it was a sacrificial cistern of no return.
Finally, the day arrived when the packing of his digestive musket simply had to be discharged. He was playing Nintendo Wii at the time, standing on the Balance Board, when I noticed an escapee trying to break free. I quickly snatched him up and planted him on the toilet seat. He looked up at me with a defiant glare, but the glare quickly softened to a sort of Zen acceptance. That was followed by deep, throaty grunts, at which point I left him alone in the bathroom to complete his triumph.
And a triumph it was!! After about ten minutes, he came hopping, HOPPING, out of the bathroom, yelling “I DID IT! I DID IT! I DID IT!” Of course, all household participants were required to hover over the bowl and inspect his handiwork—which, following three days of constipation, was humongous—and exclaim such accolades as “THAT’S AWESOME!” and “YOU’RE A BIG BOY NOW!” and “WOW, THAT’S AMAZING!”
And that was pretty much the end of the stalemate, although there was some resistance to performing a second act. But, when the time came, he knew what he had to do. He looked up from his coloring book, and did a slow, determined “Green Mile” sort of march down the hall to the bathroom. To his credit, he even closed the door behind him, which is something even I fail to do on occasion. Once again, we were treated to a round of “I DID IT!” And, he’s been fairly. . . er. . . regular, ever since.
Now, his younger sister, on the other hand. . .
September 14, 2013
Doing the DMC Right
The big news for Rochester, Minn., this year has been the unfolding Mayo Clinic project called Destination Medical Center (DMC). This is an incredibly important project because it’s a 20-year, $5 billion economic development initiative—complete with $327 million in state taxpayer aid—that no one seems to understand or can coherently explain. Even Mayo Clinic’s own Web page dedicated to explaining DMC doesn’t appear to be convinced about what it’s trying to explain.
According to their Web page, DMC is intended “to secure Mayo Clinic’s and Minnesota’s status as a global medical destination,” which suggests Mayo Clinic is somehow hanging precariously on the edge of a cliff, anticipating losing its global clout. As for actual project details, the Web page is remarkably sparse; there’s not even a mention about who, exactly, will RUN-DMC.
*pause to allow that terrible joke to blow over*
Now, if I was handed a check for $5 billion and told to design a Destination Medical Center, I’d include some attractions that would be guaranteed to draw patients from around the world. I mean, people aren’t going to jump on a plane in France to come to Mayo Clinic because its doctors excel at digital rectal exams to check for an enlarged prostate. However, if there was an amusement park ride at the DMC called the “Prostate Pirate Ship,” well, I think that would definitely set Mayo Clinic apart.
For that matter, there’s really nothing entertaining about cardiovascular disease. Patients generally don’t wave their hands in the air and scream “WHEEEE!” when discussing cardiovascular disease. But, if patients could hop on a “Cardiovascular Carousel,” you might realize a more upbeat disposition. Instead of horses, the patients could sit on huge replica aortas, or choose to sit in either a replica atrium or ventricle—right or left.
As long as I’m considering heart conditions, my DMC would include a “Tachycardia Tilt-A-Whirl.” Granted, such a ride would probably aggravate the existing condition, but if you’re going to have an elevated heart rate, you might as well double down and have a good time with it.
And, of course, there would simply HAVE to be an “Obamacare Octopus,” which would be the only attraction at my DMC that everyone would be required to ride. In fact, if people decided not to ride the “Obamacare Octopus,” they’d have to pay a non-riding fee. It would probably be the most unpopular attraction at my DMC, but it would have to be included.
Now that I think about it, with $5 billion at my disposal, there’s no reason my DMC couldn’t include an extensive indoor water park. I mean, patients would absolutely flock to Mayo Clinic if they knew they could splish and splash at “Hippocrates’ H20asis!” People would forget their medical woes entirely if they were enthroned on an innertube, floating down the “Listeriosis Lazy River.” Or, they could further aggravate their tachycardia by taking a ride down the “Fibromyalgia Flume.” Entire families could enjoy a fun ride on the “Bronchitis Bumper Boats.”
All of this could be a part of my DMC design, and I haven’t even made a dent in the $5 billion. Yes sir, if you want a world class medical center that’s guaranteed to solidify Mayo Clinic’s role as a leading healthcare institution that puts the FUN in “functioning pancreatic endocrine tumor,” I’m the perfect candidate to RUN-DMC.
September 12, 2013
The Stomach. It turns.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I present you with "THE WIENER THE WORLD AWAITED!" Should have been Anthony Wiener's campaign slogan. Yes, the world was just sitting there, drumming its fingers impatiently, WAITING for someone to invent hot dogs in a can (SO DIFFERENT IT'S PATENTED). I'm sure the patent office was just swamped with people trying to be the first to patent "Can-O-Dogs" complemented with a "Sack O' Sauce." Yuck. I just threw up a little, in my mouth.
One word: Plastics
What in the name of all that is pure and holy are those comforters made out of? Throw them in the backyard, run a hose over them, and you'd have a perfectly good Slip-N-Slide. The guy is smiling because he just urinated in his bed and it just ran right off onto the floor.
Taco Munching Time
At first, you think, "That's just her knee." But then you study the picture a little more and realize that would require her legs to be 50 feet long. So then you decide that's probably her boyfriend getting frisky.
Death's Sweet Embrace
You know your Saturday nights have hit rock bottom when you're sitting in a wingback chair pondering your death stone. The husband is leaning over with an expression that just radiates "Man, I hope she goes first!" "Rock of Ages" was a 2012 romantic comedy musical, by the way. I'm sure they're not in any way related. But maybe. . .
Soft and Pliable
From an Oct., 1941 issue of "House Beautiful" magazine, two months before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, or the Germans, if you're Bluto Blutarsky. If you find yourself weighing the family jewels in one hand, and blankets in the other, be sure to give them both a soft squeeze before making a decision.
What note-taking secretary wouldn't be delighted when the boss bursts forth from his PRIVATE office to demand she "FEEL MY FACE!"? Nothing creepy about that at all, especially when he's still holding an electric razor he just yanked out of the wall socket.
From the same magazine. "It's easy to stay slim when you like salads." Yes, and when you wear an outfit that would make RoboCop uncomfortable. Seriously, are those "Gauntlets of Salad Readiness?" Note that IRENE CASTLE McLAUGHLIN was a modern dance exponent AND a prominent feminist leader, yet she still had a candlelit salad dinner awaiting her man. Although, there was no chance of him getting laid because it would take two hours to take that bib off alone.
Remember these glass ketchup bottles? You'd hammer on the butt of them until you heard the ominous "BLORP!" at which point your whole plate would be covered in a Heinz crime scene. Did you know Heinz ketchup once had a mascot? I didn't. Apparently, he was the blood blister brother to Monopoly's "Mr. Moneybags." What can you expect from "'Aristocrat' tomatoes" anyway. Lousy 1% tomatoes. *shaking fist*
September 10, 2013
Father of "The Dude."
Yes, gentlemen, there was a time when it was considered cool to wear a shaggy yellow bathrobe and green ascot on the beach. You could further accessorize the ensemble with stoner green sunglasses AND A PIPE! It makes that ridiculous beach towel seem downright reasonable, by comparison.
I are disappoint
From the days when copper was so plentiful, it was sold by the yard. The woman seems absolutely delighted about something, while the man seems severely disappointed as he looks down at his measuring stick and realizes "She'll never fit in that coffin I made for her. . . "
Keep Him On Ice
"As you can see," said the refrigerator salesman. "Your child is clearly mentally disabled and is rehearsing for a life in prison."
"Oh, yes! Tell us more!" said the parents who ignore their boy at every possible moment.
September 09, 2013
Get the Lead Out
This made my day. From a Sept. 16, 1939 "Saturday Evening Post." Yep, good old, reliable, neurotoxic lead. Of course, this was back in the day when children probably bathed in lead and gargled with mercury, and THEY LIKED IT. I love the tag line: "You're money ahead when you paint with White Lead." Nowadays, it's "You're pretty much dead when you paint with White Lead." "I hope the lead I'm mining will be used in your paint," is an epic threat, in retrospect, especially when uttered by a half-winking immigrant with a white donkey in the background.
You know you've been nagged into oblivion when you collapse into a chair and your wife has to break out the smelling salts.
Naggers Annoy Me
We've all been here, haven't we guys? Nagged. . . to. . . that. . . point! The woman has clenched fists indicating a mix of both triumph and apprehension. The more I look at this image, the more I realize it would make a most excellent Internet meme.
Did I mention clams?
CLAMS! Sweet, glorious, delicious CLAMS! An entire basket of CLAMS! We are truly blessed to be able to partake of a seemingly endless supply of CLAMS! Why am I messing with this pointless fishing pole when there are CLAMS to be had?! Everyone clamors for CLAMS!
Back then, gay meant happy
Let's get the low hanging fruit out of the way first: GAY BUFFET!
*ahem* There's ARMOUR again. You have to appreciate the irony of them naming their dog food "Dash" and their human food "Treet." I'm sure they weren't processed in the same mixing drum or anything like that. . .
It's fortified with LIVER! LIVER! And dogs KNOW IT and SHOW IT!
ARMOUR. . . ARMOUR. . . where have I seen that before?
Trust me, I'm going somewhere with this.
Yes, Mother. Thank you for the watch, Mother. I always think of you, Mother. I plan to preserve your corpse in your upstairs bedroom and stab women in the shower while wearing your clothes, Mother.
In the background is the short-lived hover-plane that didn't require landing gear, and people ascended the staircase into the plane's wing.
Man, I'll tell you what, I don't know where "Puss'n Boots" found this artist, but he had an unparalleled gift for capturing cats at their most alert alertness. This feline could stare laser beams through a concrete wall.
Back in 1949, they infused cat food with caffeine AND cocaine, apparently, for EXTRA FELINE ALERTNESS! One cat's KEENNESS+ is a another cat's surprise rectal exam.
Incidentally, this cat spawned the cat that spawned the cat that spawned the cat that spawned the ceiling cat that watches you masturbate.
This Little Piggie
A pig with an apple in the mouth is a cliche nowadays, but back in 1953, it was a Christmas centerpiece. I don't know what they replaced the pig's eyes with, but they seem to shout "HOLY CRAP I DIDN'T SEE THIS COMING!" I like that the tail is still there, for that adventurous foodie who likes the truly rare "victuals."
Oh, Big Baby?
"Isn't our freakishly gigantic child just beautiful, honey?" asked Cathy, to her incredulous husband, Jeffrey.
"I just don't know," said Jeffrey. "She doesn't have my eyes, or my spectacular tie. I suspect you may have been cheating on me with the satchel-carrying intruder from the previous blog post."
Feeling Lucky, Punk?
This is a pretty complex question. Who, exactly, is the lucky person here? The cop who has been waiting outside the window to catch the guy sneaking out of the window after doinking his wife?
From a 1948 "Better Homes & Gardens"
If I ever enter the adult film industry, I'm going by the name "Admiral Triple Thrill." Back in 1948, a combination turntable/stereo/television took up an entire wall, and you could put your two trophies of nondescript achievement on it. Nowadays, it's called an "iPod" the size of a deck of cards and you can lose it on a bus. Grandpa sure seems to be enjoying a good bout of fisticuffs while sitting in his tiger-striped chair. In the background, his sons wait patiently for a heart attack and eventual lucrative inheritance.