April 30, 2002

Dreams and Diversions

Dreams and Diversions
Let's talk about nightmares. More specifically, let's talk about my nightmares. Last night, I was beset with nightmares. However, although they seemed totally frightening as my mind conjured them and flashed the images across my subconscious mind, in retrospect they're more humorous than anything else. So, there I was, being attacked by a miniature skeleton covered in blood. Now, did I stop and ask why I was being attacked by a bloody miniature skeleton? No, of course not. At the time, everything made total and complete sense. "I must escape from this deranged bloody miniature skeleton." My earliest memories of nightmares involved me fleeing downstairs from an unknown sense of dread emanating from somewhere upstairs. Just as I reached the last step, I'd be irresistably drawn, tumbling and screaming, by some sort of evil tractor beam, back up the stairs. I hated those nightmares more than any nightmares I've had since. However, I also remember a nightmare where my name was being called from the bathroom closet. I opened the closet and saw an upside-down green head smiling at me, telling me that it "was my new friend." Trusting toddler that I was, I picked up the head and started to take it downstairs to show mom (she always wanted to meet my friends, particularly decapitated green heads). Suddenly, the head bit down hard on my hand and kept gnawing until it was about to fall off, at which point I woke up, terrified to look in the bathroom closet. Most of my modern nightmares involve stupid stuff like bloody miniature skeletons. Well, I have a meeting to attend. Talk about a nightmare.

Posted by Ryan at 11:07 AM | Comments (0)

April 29, 2002

I must vent. One of

I must vent. One of my former college roommates and one of my best friends is a Minnesota State Trooper. He worked the metro area for two years and saw and dealt with enough dregs of society to last a lifetime. His life was threatened and he was attacked by drunks and druggies on a nightly basis. So, when it comes to law enforcement officers, I cut them a whole buttload of slack. If they catch me speeding, I don't try to lie my way out of it. I was speeding, and that's that. So, yesterday, my buddy is on duty (he recently was approved a transfer to Winona County), and he has to respond to a call about a deer that had been hit by a car but was still able to walk. This deer insisted on going back on the interstate as if daring motorists to hit it. Of course, motorists kept opting to swerve and eventually some motorists stopped their vehicles and got out because "they wanted to help the deer." Now, I rarely stop on an freaking interstate, because cars go really fast on the interstate, and I certainly wouldn't expose my frail frame to oncoming traffic in the name of assisting a deer stupid enough to get hit by a car and then stick around for more. And yet, that's exactly what these folks were doing. Imagine if you will, a throng of about 10 morons running around in fields and on the interstate in a surreal game of wildlife tag. What would they have done had they caught the deer? Ride it? Put it in the trunk? I don't know if you're at all familiar with deer hooves, but they're as sharp as scissors and one good kick to the mid-section could disembowel our governor. So, my buddy arrives on the scene and promptly gets his squad car stuck in the median. So, he's not a happy man to start with. He grabs his shotgun and gets out of his car, careful to keep the shotgun hidden alongside his leg, lest the crowd of deer-chasing idiots realize what he's about to do and try to stop him. He yells at everyone to get back to their cars while he trudges across the field to meet personally with the deer. He gets within 25 feet, draws his shotgun, and, two blasts later, Bambi is no more, much to the shock of those watching who had no idea my buddy was carrying a shotgun. Well, now everyone is just horrified and offended, demanding to know why he used such excessive force, as if a wounded deer somehow should at least be read its miranda rights or given a last supper. Everyone wanted to know my buddy's name so they could report his abuse of power and write scathing letters to the editor for any newspaper that may listen. A little reality check, folks. The deer was a danger to traffic. It was wounded, and despite all the cries to save it, the DNR would have arrived later and done the same exact thing. Wounded deer are not tranquilized and carted off to petting zoos. They are destroyed. That's what is done with wounded deer. Get over it, get back in your cars, and stop being so stupid. Deer me, how I do go on.

Posted by Ryan at 03:25 PM | Comments (0)

Welcome to Monday. Blech. I

Welcome to Monday. Blech. I slept until 3 p.m. on Saturday and until 1 p.m. on Sunday, and yet I'm still tired. Why? I believe it's because I tricked my mind and body into believing that they were now on a new schedule that included over 10 hours of sleep and they didn't understand why they had to be up at 8 a.m. today. "But, but why? Why do we have to get up? We don't want to get up. You can't make us. No, no, no, no, no, no!" *press the snooze button* That gives me an idea for a column. Good, because I was kind of worried about coming up with a topic this week.
I mowed the lawn yesterday for the first time this season. It's not my most favorite task in the world, but the smell of freshly cut spring grass is one of the greatest things imaginable. Of course, it took half an hour to get the cranky mower to sputter to life, and I was pulling the starter so hard I jarred the left front wheel loose. It was strangely embarrasing sitting in the driveway, screwing a wheel back on a mower that wouldn't start. But, I pumped the primer a couple of times, cleaned the spark plug connection, and the next pull resulted in a rejuvenated mower. For a guy who barely knows where to pour the oil in his car, this was a major accomplishment.

Posted by Ryan at 10:23 AM | Comments (0)

I fear that I may

I fear that I may be becoming cynical. O.K., I've always been a bit cynical. Still, why not be cynical? One of my roommates tonight, Emily, was watching the movie Serendipity, and she said, "I really believe I'll meet the perfect man some day, just like in the movies." I shook my head. Hollywood has spoiled us. We sit in theaters or in front of televisions and we are trained to believe that true love can be found within two hours. That's not to say I don't believe in true love or love at first sight for that matter, but let's be realistic people!! I've dated enough women to know that we, the human species, are a terribly flawed example of evolution. We love ourselves first, and we look for ourselves in those we seek. And that's wrong. We are all unique, and that should be celebrated, yet we seek the gender-opposite equivalent.
I love solitude, yet I'm good with people. I'm organized, but only I understand my organization. I live for human touch, but I have a wide personal space. I hate to work, but if it comes down to it, I'll do everything if it means getting a good job done. I want to save money, but I want to buy everything for my friends and family.
There's a lot more, of course, but what female could match that perfectly? I wonder how many stellar females I have waived in pursuit of the ideal, and I'm spooked to think I may have waived the one.

Posted by Ryan at 12:51 AM | Comments (0)

April 26, 2002

Potty Talk I don't know

Potty Talk
I don't know when it was that I became a fan of toilet stories. High brow political humor has its place, but nothing brings me into hysterics better than a good story about human defecation or flatulence. I think it's because everyone, from the highest kings to the lowest pauper, have to hunker down and dispose of bodily waste. It's the great equalizer. I've always had fun with dumping. Back in high school, the big joke amongst my peers was to take a dump in one stall, and then shuffle over to another stall to wipe, thereby leaving a great mound of feces with no toilet paper, no doubt perplexing the janitors to no end.
"Don't kids nowadays know that they're supposed to wipe after doing something like that?"
Now that I'm in the work world, I continue to carry my immature view of dooty with me even into the professional restrooms of IBM. Never before have I been an audience to the deafening sound of co-workers who suffer from insane levels of air in the pipes. I try to keep my stall music to a minimum, slowly releasing my subs stealthily into the water below. Those sharing the stalls next to me, however, seem determined to make as much of a production as possible, tooting and rumbling their cheeks as if they're a shuttle lifting off from Cape Cannaveral. How folks can not be embarrassed by such audible displays is beyond me.
Now, I understand that all this is just the body's natural way of disposing of last night's pizza, but I've been trained since the age of three, when my father first had me pull his finger, that this basic humor is the standard by which all other humor is measured. Farts are funny. Even the word fart itself is funny.
It's universal humor, whether it's grown men changing a diaper in "Three Men and a Baby" or the hysterical laxative scene in "Dumb and Dumber," poop and fart noises are always good for an easy gag.
You may be unmoved by this entry or you may be relating. Either way, I don't give a crap.

Posted by Ryan at 11:54 AM | Comments (0)

April 25, 2002

I do not understand those

I do not understand those who claim to be morning people, folks who leap from beds ready to attack a fresh new day like a horny canine attacking a shin. My body and mind both despise mornings, and the earlier the morning, the more surly they both become. Everything is just so much more difficult in the morning. It would be different, I suppose, if I slept standing up, but I don't. The first obstacle I'm confronted with upon awakening is the horizontal position I'm in that must be rectified. I shuffle over to the edge of the bed and allow gravity to pull my legs to the floor. I then heave myself into a sitting position and fidget with my eyes until the last of the eye boogers fall to the floor. I sit there for about three minutes, trying to force the haze of sleep and the dreams of large-breasted women from my mind. Then, slowly, I begin the routine of preparing for work. I don't want to talk to anyone. I don't want people to ask me how I am. I just want to wake up; on my own. There are people who actually go running in the morning. They're so stupid! Don't they know that the human body is at its least flexible the first thing in the morning? I do all my exercise in the late afternoon, when I have a full body of caffeine and can wrap my foot over my head. Also, any ailments you may be suffering are magnified by a factor of 10 in the morning. If you have a slight cough when you go to bed, you will awaken with enough bodily coughing spasms to bring up both lungs, your liver and your spleen. If you have sore muscles when you go to bed, you awaken thinking your four limbs were attacked by an axe wielding maniac sometime during the night. A sore throat becomes a constricting mass so painful, it feels as if you're trying to breathe through a barbed straw. It takes roughly three hours for the body to find a good equilibrium following a morning wake-up, but enough about that.
Nothing funny in the news today, unless you consider a building explosion in New York funny. I do not.

Posted by Ryan at 03:44 PM | Comments (0)

April 24, 2002

For possibly the 731st time,

For possibly the 731st time, my Web-browser has prompted an annoying pop-up ad touting the benefits of "The amazing Web Cam." Now, I knew the very first time I saw this pop-up that I did not need, and I did not want, "The amazing Web Cam." Those in the marketing world, a world in which people wear socks on their heads and sing old Johnny Horton songs, maintain that pop-up ads are extremely effective and that they sell products. I find this incredibly hard to believe. The only thing effective about them is that they have added to my dexterity and finger clicking strength because I try to close the damned boxes before they can even fully load. And my resolve to not purchase "The amazing Web Cam" is strengthened each time I have to play a game of digital whack-a-mole. Seriously, do marketing experts really believe that, although I'm irritated the first 731 times, I'm bound to see the benefits the 732nd time?
"Ohhhhh, now I get it! The web cam actually is the answer to all my problems! I can't believe I didn't see how much I really needed a web cam the first 731 times I was confronted with the pop-up! What a fool I was! Thank God they were so persistent and kept prompting that ad or I would never have realized how important a web cam is to my daily existence. But, why am I sitting here typing this? I should be out buying a web cam. No, three web cams. You can never have enough web cams."
And, I have to ask, why would you really need a web cam in the first place? Sure, they would be a neat novelty for maybe 10 minutes or so, but suddenly I'd realize that I don't want the world to see me scratching myself every 15 minutes (and that's a conservative estimate). I live with two female roommates, but I simply don't have the urge to set up a bunch of web cams around the house in the hopes that they'll trot by in the buff. You see, that's when I become a disgusting pervert, and I have enough nicknames already without adding that to my list of designations. So, no, I don't want a web cam. I don't need a web cam. Now, if I could only stop the pop-ups.

Posted by Ryan at 11:01 AM | Comments (0)

April 22, 2002

The end of a weekend,

The end of a weekend, or, more precisely, the end of a Minnesota weekend. I golfed three rounds on Saturday. The first round was played in rather cool weather, the second in decent weather, and the third was played under sunny skies; so sunny, in fact, I suffered a slightly sunburned head. Then, come Sunday, there's four inches of snow on the ground. Does this state make any freaking sense at all? The answer, of course, is no. Still, as I pondered why I continue to endure this wacky climate, I came up with a few reasons. First and foremost, I still enjoy being in close proximity with much of my family. That's hard for anyone to break free from. Second, I'm only four years into the workforce and I'm trying to build up the much valued "experience" that employers so value. Once I can start to pick and choose my journalism jobs, I'll probably be far more likely to cast a wide net and start looking around. Finally, the change in seasons does help to fully appreciate great weather. I love looking for the first robin of the year, watching the snow let loose its seasonal grip and surrender to the spring. Granted, it can be a major pain in the ass (see this weekend for why), but I think I can handle it for a couple more years.

Posted by Ryan at 09:34 AM | Comments (0)

April 19, 2002

Leave it to the American

Leave it to the American court system to sound stuffy and humorless while at the same time produce comedy gold. According to my favorite cyber stopping ground, news of the odd, "A California state appeals court has ruled it is not libel to call someone a 'skank' or even a 'big skank' on the radio -- describing the word as 'a derogatory slang term of recent vintage that has no generally recognized meaning.'" Tell me this isn't incredibly funny. It's officially legal for me to call anyone I want a skank, because no one is really sure what a skank is.
"Dude, she is such a skank!"
"Huh? What do you mean by that?"
"You know, she's skanky. She exudes a particularly skanky quality that makes her truly a skank. She's the queen of skankdom."
"I don't get it."
"Dude, what's the matter with you? Are you some sort of skank or something?"
"I'm not sure"
But, the story gets even better. The suit was brought by a former contestant on "Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire," who was suing a San Francisco radio station program that called her names after she refused to appear on their show. Other names leveled against her included "local loser" and "chicken butt," both of which were also deemed by the court to be too vague to be considered libel.
"The appeals court rejected the plaintiff's claim that she was libeled, saying there was no way to prove that the disc jockeys had knowingly perpetrated a falsehood by describing her as a 'local loser,' a 'chicken butt' and a 'big skank.'" Hey, this stuff is just too rich to make up on my own. But, let's hear what the court itself had to say about the matter:
"The terms local loser and chicken butt are not actionable because they are too vague to be capable of being proven true or false," the court said.
Exactly what type of criteria would be used to verify whether someone was a chicken butt? This could be a rich field of scientific study, I'm sure of it.
"Well, the butt has a certain egg-shaped quality to it, but with an absence of feathers or a beak, I'm inclined to dismiss this posterior as a chicken butt."

Posted by Ryan at 11:18 AM | Comments (0)

Not much to report tonight,

Not much to report tonight, er, this morning. Whatever. Rodey the Rodent is rustling, which is just a super cool spring thing for a mouse to do. I did the hapkido thing tonight. The Korean masters are visiting, which means a language barrier, but they get their point across regardless. I'm about six months away from a black belt, but the anticipation is already killing me. I've been involved in martial arts in one form or another for the last ten years, a decade, so I'm ready to be awarded black belt status. The funny thing is, I started hapkido a year ago as a method of staying in shape, whereas my three years of Tae Kwon Do and Aikido were started because I wanted to be a black belt. When I started hapkido again (my first year was in Japan), I was more concerned about getting a massive workout rather than getting a black belt. However, my previous experience shot me through the ranks and now I find myself very close to a goal I thought was lost. If it happens, it happens. I'm still too docile to kick anyone's ass. Oh, what else can I do this morning? Let's try my hand at some off the cuff fiction. . .
Scott entered the Blockbuster video store and was immediately accosted by the seemingly bottled odor of fabricated Blockbuster structures (sort of a new car smell for movie rentals). Every building has its own smell. Hospitals smell like a crude mixture of despair, hope, death, life, sweat, medicine and catheters. Office buildings smell like paper, pseudo-efficiency (if that has a smell, but I believe it does), and microwaved popcorn. Blockbusters have a smell of dusty movies, carpet cleaner, and whatever sweaty employee may be standing next to you at any given time. Scott made his way among the domino display of movies and selected "Romancing the Stone." Of course he'd seen it before, many times before. But where else can you have romance, a treasure hunt, a crocodile eating a hand, and a happy ending? Scott smiled and made his way to the counter.
The girl behind the counter was attractive, in a shy sort of way. If you can define shy, I'd like to hear it. I define it as a furtive, nervous glance; an anxious soul that says nothing for fear of being exposed as overly interested, when, in fact, they're overly interested, hopeless romantics afraid to be exposed for what they are. Too bad, because they never let their true natures be known. And. . . Tune in forever for the next installment. It may happen, it may not.

Posted by Ryan at 12:41 AM | Comments (0)

April 18, 2002

Of Mice and Men (and

Of Mice and Men (and boredom)
So, as I wrote my newspaper column last night, I became aware of a rustling in the leaves outside my window. I should note here that my room is in the basement, and my window descends about two and a half feet below ground, so there's a wooden boxed off area right outside my window. Apparently, a mouse has taken up abode there, whether by accidently falling in the window trap or intentionally, I do not know. So, anyway, I kept hearing a periodic rustling outside, so I went over to my window to investigate. No sooner had I stuck my face on the screen, when the mouse let out a startled "Peep!" and scurried under the leaves. This amused me to no end. So, every time I heard the mouse rustling away, I'd sneak up to the window and yell "Boo!" Each time, the mouse let out a startled peep and bolted beneath the leaves. Once, I think it was expecting me, because I yelled boo, and the mouse jumped up against the screen, startling the hell out of me. This is no minor league mouse. It is as big as a baseball and it has dark fur. I think I'll call him "Rodey the Rodent." Or maybe "Rodey the Rustling Rodent." Whatever the case, I'm debating whether to keep my captive window pet or fish him out and set him free. Oh, decisions decisions.

Posted by Ryan at 01:07 PM | Comments (1)

I'm back from Nashville, and,

I'm back from Nashville, and, judging by my blog counter, I've have not been horribly missed. Ah, tis tough climbing the cruel ladder of fame and fortune. A few notes about Nashville. Nashville is hot. Nashville is humid. I'm in pretty good shape and I still broke a sweat simply by breathing. But, Nashville is decidedly more entertaining than Rochester (slogan: Welcome to Rochester, please don't wake the natives). I didn't intend to go into Rochester bashing, but since I'm here. . . I've lived in this city for three years, and I have yet to see anything here that makes me tilt my head back and say, "Wow! That's pretty cool." You see, Rochester has officially done away with anything even remotely cool. All the buildings in this town have been cut from the same boring block of granite. The mall? Boring. Nightlife? Non-existent, and spread far apart so you're likely to get pulled over while you're not having any fun. Downtown? Boring, unless you consider stop lights at every intersection somehow entertaining. Now, Nashville is entertaining. I'm not referring here to Opryland where I stayed for four days. Staying at Opryland is like living in a bio-dome while tripping on acid. Not that I've ever tripped on acid, but I'm making a metaphor here. Tripping on acid? So, there I was, walking down the street, and I tripped on this big pile of acid. Damn near melted my shoes clean off. Anyway, where was I? Ah yes, Nashville. The mall outside of Opryland was just awesome, and the downtown area of the city was alive with great bars all complemented with live music. I wanted to take a four block area of Nashville back with me to Rochester and plop it four blocks from where I live. Well, now I'm back at work and I'm facing a pile of tasks that require completion. More later. Maybe.

Now, in a bid to boost my site traffic, I'm going to repeat the name Hanna Montana a few times. Hanna Montana. Hanna Montana. Hanna Montana. Hanna Montana. Hanna Montana. Hanna Montana. Oh, and Amanda Overmeyer. Amanda Overmeyer. Amanda Overmeyer. Evanna Lynch. Evanna Lynch. Evanna Lynch.

Posted by Ryan at 10:12 AM | Comments (0)

April 12, 2002

Wow! Here I was surfing

Wow! Here I was surfing the Web for humorous news when all I had to do was check my own local Rochester paper. Firstly, they ran the hysterical headline "Gas Smell Leads to School Evacuation." "Aw, dude! Did you do that? That's nasty man! I gotta get outta this school! Yuck. Come on, everybody, follow me. Timmy crapped himself."
But, the all time best story is about a Lanesboro police chief who last week started a fire that destroyed three historic downtown buildings. And why did the police chief start the fire? Was it an accident? Was it faulty wiring? No, he was simply trying to impress his girlfriend by starting a fire and then heroically charging to the rescue by evacuating the buildings. But wait, there's more. Apparently, he wanted a transfer to the Austin police department, and he thought a heroic act, such as saving his girlfriend (and her child) from an inferno would help improve his chances. Imagine the Austin police department now. "It says here that you torched three buildings. Hmmmmmm. Next!" Better yet, imagine the rocky road he's going to have to face with his girlfriend. "You did WHAT?!! You did over $500,000 of damage and put the lives of my child and myself in jeopardy just to impress little 'ole me? That's just the sweetest thing ever! I'll be waiting for you when you get out of jail in a hundred years or so. Don't you go setting any more fires, Tiger!! Growwwlll!" Okay, she probably won't say anything even remotely like that.
That's the funny thing with small towns. For ten years or more, the only excitement occurs when an ambulance goes down main street. Then, suddenly, somebody discovers that their quiet neighbor is a cross-dressing murderer who sings Barney the Dinosaur songs while making furniture from the skins of his victims. Who knew? Then, the local newspaper, which has consisted entirely of fruit cake recipes for the last six years, has to step up to the plate, dust off the keyboards, and actually write news for a change. Local eateries experience a booming business as townfolks flock to a common meeting place to discuss Crazy Old Joe and his cross-dressing murderous tendencies that they all knew were there but no one wanted to mention because it was rude. Trust me, I know what I'm talking about. If you don't believe me, try living in a small town for a few years. Just don't buy the house next to Old Man Franklin's, I hear he's a little weird.

Posted by Ryan at 02:08 PM | Comments (0)

Okay, I'll admit it. I'm

Okay, I'll admit it. I'm in a bit of a writing funk lately. I practically had to rake my eyes out to come up with a column last night, so have a little pity people. Hey, that would be a cool movie, "Attack of the Pity People." It would be a two hour movie consisting of a crowd of empathetic people pawing at their victims, profusely apologizing for their agonizing state in life. "Ohhhh, I'm so sorry about your cat dying. Is there anything I can do to relieve your suffering? Awwwww. Awwwwww." *shudder* What a terrifying idea.
Let's go to the news, or at least news of the weird. Here's something that will make you think twice about library dues: "Woman Jailed Over Unreturned Library Books." Apparently, a 24 year old woman with $120 in library late book fees, was jailed in Tamaqua, Penn. "So, what are you in for? Murder? Robbery?" "Nah, they got me on late charges. I thought I was one step ahead of them, but after a two hour high speed chase and shootout, they got me."
I leave for Nashville tomorrow for work. I guess I should be excited or something, but knowing that I'm going anywhere for work just kind of deflates me. I'm sure that's not the case for everyone, particularly astronauts. "Hey, Neil Armstrong. I hear you're going to be the first man to walk on the moon!" "Yeah, but it's for work. It would be different if I was doing it, you know, as a vacation thing, but every time I look back at the small disc of earth, I'm just going to be reminded about how much I hate my job."
That's it for now.

Posted by Ryan at 11:48 AM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2002

Remember the Firestone Recall "Reinventing

Remember the Firestone Recall
"Reinventing the Wheel" c. Ryan Rhodes, Sept. 9, 2000
It was a cool evening in Olduvai gorge many, many, many, many (and I mean many) years B.C. As twilight descended, radiating the last fainting rays of light through the dense foliage, a male figure could be seen tending to a small fire.
His name was Keldar the Hunter, a muscular hominid with a stout jaw, protruding cranium, and exceedingly bad body odor. Propped over Keldar's fire was some sort of
dead animal he found while walking earlier in the day and, as Keldar's next meal, it was fitting that it smelled much like him, even as it cooked.
As Keldar watched the grease spatter from his meal into the firepit below, he noticed a strange smooth stone amongst the glowing goals. Boredom and curiosity prompted him to reach in and pull the stone out. In that same instant, Keldar remembered the oft-forgotten lesson that fire causes pain.
The stone quickly became a source of amazement to Keldar because, unlike all the other jagged stones he'd pulled out of fires in the past, this one, with it's smooth edges, rolled a considerable distance before coming to rest. In a flash of creative inspiration, Keldar found a large boulder and began chipping and shaping it into the same smooth and round fashion. The wheel was born, although it would initially be known as "the thing Keldar did."
Although Keldar was certain his invention had the potential to transform the lives of his 15 other tribe members, reaction to "the thing Keldar did" was lukewarm at best. Undaunted, and possessing a keen mind for primitive marketing, Keldar renamed his invention "Firestone," in tribute to how he discovered the fantastic rock. He then sought out Follgorth, a neighboring tribesman who ran the only moving and postal service throughout the gorge. Follgorth's company, "Follgorth's Oduvai Relocation and Delivery" (FORD for short), was a successful venture, but Follgorth was desperate for a means by which to reduce the incredible number of employees required to stay in business.
Like Keldar, Follgorth saw the limitless possibilities of "the thing Keldar did." After a drawn out business negotiation in which Follgorth gave Keldar four of his best child-bearing daughters, a lucrative deal between FORD and Firestone was born.
Follgorth's first task was to dispose of his "dragging logs," which were more or less just logs tied together and dragged by teams of four to six men. Although they were good for moving and delivery, there was a high rate of turnover among FORD workers. However, once the "dragging logs" were equipped with four Firestones, a magical transformation took place. The "dragging logs" now required far less labor and FORD was able to reallocate its personnel and expand its service to the tribal community.
Likewise, Keldar was kept exceedingly busy, what with four Firestones required for each of FORD's "dragging logs." Indeed, Firestone eventually had a large number of employees of its own turning out an incredible number of "the things Keldar did."
The fame of Keldar and Follgorth spread throughout the land, and their wealth, likewise, seemed to know no bounds. A rough count estimated that the two men had fortunes exceeding 52 good child-bearing women, a remarkable display of wealth by any standard.
But, trouble was brewing on the horizon. Faced with an increased production quota and an upstart company started by the Goodyear tribe three gorges down, the Firestone
company started cutting corners. Rather than cutting their stones from the solid gorge wall, Firestone started pulling the more accessible rock from around the river bank. For their part, FORD knew that Firestone quality had declined, but the executives were blinded by the appeal of building their own fortunes of good child-bearing women.
However, the companies, much the like the wheels that brought them fame, began to crumble. The unstable Firestones, hewn from the cheaper but less reliable river rock, started to fail at the most inopportune time. Stories abounded about tribespeople being seriously hurt or killed while they took recreational downhill rides on FORD's "dragging logs," only to have the Firestones disintegrate from under them. One truly horrifying story circulated about Tribal Elder Morgoth careening into a tree and being flung headlong into the Olduvai gorge.
No one knows for sure what became of the FORD and Firestone companies, but one thing is certain: of all the people unearthed from Olduvai gorge, none have been found alive.

Posted by Ryan at 10:23 PM | Comments (0)

April 10, 2002

A little reminiscing "This Little

"This Little Piggy. . . " c. Ryan Rhodes, Aug. 10, 2000

Although I'm not an avid fair enthusiast, I do enjoy moseying around county and state fairgrounds when I get the chance. I like losing myself in the sights, sounds and excitement surrounding fair activities. I can even admit to visiting the assorted livestock barns on occasion. But I always approach the pig pens with a certain amount of trepidation.

Being raised within the city limits of Harmony, MN, I rarely was exposed to some of the more laborious aspects of farm life. Despite my relatively farm-free childhood, I can admit to baling hay a couple of times, running headlong into an electric fence, and being carried by a sow for about 10 feet by my groin. I've never felt the same way about the swine community since.

It was the summer before my eighth grade year and my good friend, Joe, had invited me to go camping out near his farm. At that age, the chance to go camping out in the country was a really big deal, especially when I had a horde of illicitly gained fireworks I had to dispose of before my mother found them and ran them under the sink.

Joe's father was also eager to have me come out to the farm, because it essentially meant that he would have access to another person so that chores could get done an hour ahead of schedule. However, I think he was secretly dismayed when he learned his son had invited me to go camping. At just over 90 pounds, there wasn't much I could do beyond comment on the acrid smell of pig manure. This wasn't very helpful.

Regardless, Joe's dad decided that would be a good day to move a large pregnant sow from a free range pen to the farrowing barn about 60 yards away. Joe took me over to look at the sow we were going to move. This animal was so big, I thought a buffalo had mistakenly entered the pen. To top it off, the beast was covered in mud and pig manure, which made it look like it had recently risen from a fresh grave. I was scared.

Joe's dad emerged from the farrowing barn with a length of gate and three broom handles that looked like they had been thrown into the Grand Canyon twice. I was informed that, if the sow developed an attitude, I was to give it a couple of whacks on the snout. After a few quick practice swings, I was feeling more unsure of myself than ever.

Joe's dad then handed me the length of gate and told me to use it to keep the sow from getting around me. After another quick glance at the sow in question, I wasn't sure the entire Minnesota National Guard could keep that sow from getting around me.

With Joe standing about 15 feet away from me with his own broomstick and gate, his dad worked his way into the pen to isolate the pregnant sow and guide her into our little makeshift gateway. After about 20 seconds of his dad whooping and hollering and whacking the backside of the sow with his broomstick, the sow came cruising out of the pen with pure irritation flashing in her eyes. As luck would have it, she focused 150 percent of her irritation on me. And I knew it.

In a display of dexterity never before seen by a hog, this sow reared up briefly on its hind legs and pivoted its attack directly at me. I remember seeing Joe's face at that instant. His eyes seemed to say, "I wonder what kind of flowers his family is going to put on his casket."

I wasn't licked yet: I still had my broomstick. Milliseconds before impact, I brought my broomstick down as hard as I could on the back of the sow's neck. Although the broomstick broke neatly in half, the sow acted as if I had simply scratched an itch that had been bothering it for awhile. In the next instant, the sow's snout forced its way through my gate and slammed squarely into my groin. It was at this point that the physics behind my 90 pound body versus an infinitely heavy and strong sow became painfully evident. With a flick of the sow's massive head, I found myself balancing precariously by my groin just inches away from the gnashing jaws of a very irritated sow. There was no way this could end in my favor.

After riding the fulcrum of the sow's snout for about ten feet, the beast changed direction slightly and slammed me soundly on the gravel drive. I struck my head so hard I finally saw those stars I had seen so often in cartoons. In a parting insult, the sow planted its left hoof squarely on my stomach, knocking what little wind I had left from my body. Drifting in and out of consciousness while gripping half a broomstick, I couldn't for the life of me understand the appeal of farming.

As I writhed and moaned and kicked up gravel dust, wondering for all the world if I would ever father children, Joe's dad sauntered up and stated with a matter-of-fact voice tinged with contempt, "You let the sow get by you, huh?"
So, to all you avid fair goers and 4-H enthusiasts, I salute you, and I offer up these words of wisdom: Bring along an extra broomstick. You just may need it.

Posted by Ryan at 10:34 PM | Comments (0)

"Middle East Madness" c. Ryan

"Middle East Madness" c. Ryan Rhodes, April 10, 2002

Crazy Hassan: If you follow news the way I do, you know that the Palestinian and Israeli situation is unlikely to be resolved any time soon. The Israelis attack with helicopters and tanks, and we Palestinians retaliate by blowing ourselves up in large crowds. It's madness, I tell you, madness; and wherever madness goes, I, Crazy Hassan, follow.

Failed Suicide Bomber: Three years ago, I tried to detonate myself with a clumsy contraption hidden in a duffel bag outside of a busy Israeli office building. Instead of blowing up and making me a martyr, the duffel bag erupted into flame, singeing my hair and landing me here in prison. If only I had a more reliable explosive. If only.

Crazy Hassan: Are your suicide detonations as effective as you would like? At Crazy Hassan's, we've drastically improved the efficiency of our bombs. Now, the last moments of your life need not be wasted worrying whether you can bring down an entire shopping center. At Crazy Hassan's, our explosions are INSANE!

Satisfied Customer #1: Before Crazy Hassan, there was no way I would ever consider blowing myself up, unless I was guaranteed to take at least 15 Israelis with me. Now, thanks to Crazy Hassan, I'm poised to kill scores of innocent civilians aboard this very bus. Thanks Crazy Hassan!!

*BOOM*

Crazy Hassan: Thank you, brainwashed fundamentalist!! Not only are our bombs designed to instantly atomize your body just before your journey to Allah, they also annihilate anything within a 30 foot radius. So, you can rest easy before you rest forever.

Yasser Arafat: There was a time when we had to work with time-consuming and often unfulfilling peace negotiations. Now, thanks to Crazy Hassan, we can make our point by wantonly snuffing out the lives of men, women and children who previously thought it was safe to perform simple tasks like grocery or clothes shopping. Thank you Crazy Hassan!!

Crazy Hassan: Thank you, Yasser Arafat!! Peace negotiations? What are those? Is that what U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell is talking about? Well, remember, you can't spell Powell without POW! And you're guaranteed plenty of POW with Crazy Hassan's new line of C4 suicide belts. These stylish, yet concealed, self-detonation devices can slip by even the strictest security. And you can accomplish all this at Crazy Hassan's blow out prices!

Satisfied Customer #2: I always wanted to be a martyr for the Palestinian cause, and the promise of having 23 wives in Allah's realm has been greatly alluring since I was a child, but I've never been able to afford it until Crazy Hassan. Now, here I am, strapped with 25 pounds of high explosives, waiting for this Israeli school to release students for the day, and it only cost me pennies per ounce of C4. Thanks Crazy Hassan!!

*BOOM*

Crazy Hassan: Thank you, brainwashed fundamentalist!! And let's not forget the women out there. Although I, Crazy Hassan, am wary of giving women too many freedoms, I open my arms and doors to those women who want to further the Palestinian cause by violently ending their existence. Crazy Hassan's offers a wide array of suicide belts for the female figure, including sensual nitroglycerin negligees. Truly, in our bid to liberate the Holy Land, anything goes.

Ariel Sharon: There was a time when I thought the Hebrew Biblical claim on Israel would easily be enforced through a technological military and omnipresent army. It just makes sense. But these suicide bombers just don't make any sense. They blow up here and they blow up there. They blow up everywhere. I may despise suicide bombers, but hats off to you Crazy Hassan.

Crazy Hassan: Huh? Was someone talking to me? You must forgive me, but I'm rather deaf to any voice other than that of the Palestinian cause, particularly if it's the voice of Israeli infidels. You've seen the utter devastation you can achieve using my bombs, and now you can be part of the new craze sweeping the militant Palestinian branches. Don't settle for peace when you can settle in pieces. Visit Crazy Hassan's today!!

Posted by Ryan at 01:24 PM | Comments (0)

I must consult the news

I must consult the news for inspiration today since my brain is not functioning properly. From the "Life just totally isn't fair" department, we have yet another story about N'Sync singer Lance Bass and his bid to travel to the international space station. "Would-be space traveler Lance Bass, a member of the pop band N'Sync, said he passed his first round of medical tests last month when he spent several days being poked and prodded by Russian space program doctors." I can hear legions of giddy teenage girls saying in unison "I wish I was a Russian space program doctor!" Seriously, the more I hear about this, the more sickened I get. Why does this two-stepping, over-hyped musical hack even get half a chance to go into space? Granted, I'm all for sending all of N'Sync into outer space, but I would expect them to be jettisoned from the spacecraft where the vacuum of the void would cause their blood to boil and then they'd pop. They are pop stars after all. Another question enters my mind: what poor journalist has to cover the "Lance Bass Space" beat? Who did he/she anger to get cast down to reporting on third rate news stories like this? And why does MSNBC.COM feel as if it has to give such a non-story a bullet? Argh! On a lighter note, the situation in the Middle East is still going strong. Let's send Lance Bass to the Middle East, you know, strapped with some sort of high explosive. More later.

Posted by Ryan at 10:42 AM | Comments (0)

April 09, 2002

I may be rushing the

I may be rushing the season today by wearing a tee-shirt, but I just couldn't take one more consecutive day wearing a long sleeve shirt. I want sun. I want green grass, green trees and everything else spring-related. One tell-tale sign of spring is an increase in my own personal libido. Last night, I paid just a tad too much attention to one of my female roommates prancing up the stairs from the basement. Must. . . avert. . . eyes. . . from. . . forbidden. . . roommate. . . behind. How in the world did Jack Tripper maintain his self-control?
Jumping from roommates to grandmothers (*shudder* what a disturbing image), I met my grandmother for dinner yesterday after work. She was at the Mayo Clinic for her annual battery of tests. She's always fascinating to talk with, and I got a free meal out of it, so I won all around. I had chicken alfredo, and the portion that arrived would have given a whale digestive difficulty. So much food. It was tasty, of course, but I vowed to go running as soon as I got back home. So, I got back home and took a nap from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. Then, mustering all my resolve, I managed to get outside and run my usual three mile trek, complete with vomit inducing hills. No vomit, but boy did I sweat. No surprise there. The girls in my hapkido class have taken to calling me Puddles, which I assure you is in referrence to my sweating and has nothing to do with shoddy bladder control.
I'm also once again facing my column dilemma this week. What to write about? What to write about? I'm sure something will come to me. One kind reader (Tina, you know who you are), said I should write a newspaper column about my plans for summer vacations. I think I'll tweak her idea and just write a story about my plans for summer in general. When I get to it, I have no idea. For now, lunch break is over. Back to work. Only 38 more years to retirement. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Posted by Ryan at 01:07 PM | Comments (0)

I really want to write

I really want to write something funny today, but you just never know what to expect with a daily blog. When in doubt, consult the news. According to a new study, as many as 1,400 college students die due to alcohol related accident each year, or, as one astute and overly dramatic psychology professor put it, "Half the World Trade Center casualties are happening every year in our colleges." That's right, folks; welcome to the post-Sept. 11 world, where all casualty studies shall be weighed against those lost at the WTC. In reference to the WWII holocaust, for example, instead of saying "over three million Jews were murdered in Nazi-controlled Europe," we are now to put that number in WTC perspective: "Jews, numbering over 1,000 times the people lost in the World Trade Center, were murdered in Nazi-controlled Europe." But I'm getting off track here. Year after year, readers are subjected to a string of alcohol in campus studies that are pretty much carbon copies of each other ("The study does not say whether the problems are increasing or decreasing. A Harvard School of Public Health survey released last month reported that more students are abstaining from alcohol, but levels of binge drinking β€” having at least four or five drinks at a sitting β€” are the same as in the early 1990s). Instead, news agencies should just provide free screenings of "Animal House" at the same time each year and follow up each showing with an important looking guy with a clipboard who says, "and so you see, that's where we're at today."
As for me personally, my IBM job is sending me to Nashville this weekend for a three day technology conference. So, if anyone out there has any suggestion as to what I could do during my free time in Nashville, I'm all ears.

Posted by Ryan at 09:55 AM | Comments (0)

April 08, 2002

Um, okay, I just had

Um, okay, I just had one of those revelations that will undoubtedly change my world outlook. Apparently, kitty litter is "mined." I did not know this. I'm not sure what I thought cat litter actually was, but I guess I assumed it was some sort of synthetic substance specifically engineered to make cat waste clump up and hide odors. It simply did not occur to me that such a substance could occur naturally. Myself, I would have a tough time admitting that I'm a kitty litter miner. Now, gold mining, that's different: the rugged look of a bedraggled gold miner hidden behind a thick beard, his eyes worn by countless dashed hopes; that's mining. Somehow, wielding a pick axe in the name of feline freshness just lacks something. Eureka, I have found a rich vein of Fresh Step!!
On a note that hits closer to home, IBM today warned of a sharp downturn in earnings. As an IBM employee who has already been considerably jostled around by IBM during this recession, this news does not bode well. IBM has done everything with the personnel short of asking us to work for free. Layoffs and pay cuts have been an omnipresent specter for months. Now this. Red alert, red alert. Abandon ship. Women and news editors first.
I sometimes wonder if journalists today are just getting too lazy. Granted, I'm a lazy journalist, but I don't really matter. When I visit a Web page looking for news, and a headline reads "Bush says, 'I meant what I said,'" I just don't know what to think. At least when Clinton spoke, he prompted us to delve into deep topics, such as the true meaning of the word "is." But now we have Bush, spewing forth a sentence that sounds remarkably like my mother when she caught me sneaking back downstairs after sending me to my room as a child.

Posted by Ryan at 11:09 AM | Comments (0)

April 07, 2002

The end of another weekend.

The end of another weekend. I'd like to say I accomplished great things, but I didn't, unless you consider sleeping until noon or later accomplishing something great. I also washed my car. Yes sir, it was a pretty big day. I'm watching The American President for possibly the 23rd time. I can't help it. It's like some sort of cinematic drug. Of course, I can't get enough of the The West Wing either. Must be an indication that I'm going to be president some day. I guess I have to start waking up before noon on weekends then. Crap. I think I received my tax return. It was wired into my checking account. It was sort of anticlimactic. I must now watch the Simpsons. Yep. Once I'm president, the state of the union address will consist entirely of Homer Simpson sound bites. I can't wait.

Posted by Ryan at 07:02 PM | Comments (0)

April 05, 2002

Not much on the news

Not much on the news front today. Hey, we can't always live in interesting times. I could gnaw at the news bones of the Palestinian/Israeli thing, but why bother? There's a news item about al Queda and Taliban fighter offering rewards for dead (or alive) westerners. That's comforting. That reminds me of something my officemate mentioned about Osama bin Laden having a blog. Of course, he doesn't, but it was still an entertaining thought. So. . .

blogging bin Laden
Hello again, my faithful freedom fighters. It has been a tough day here in the cave, but it's Friday, so huzzah! I think Hasim Mohommed is planning a surpise poker game tonight in cave 13B. He is a very fun loving fundamentalist. He has managed to keep very high spirits despite losing his leg to a daisy cutter. He's our favorite hobbling Arab. Ha ha. It was a pretty cold night last night, so I cuddled with Omar Achmed. No, there was none of that. As many of you know, our glorious war against America is not going too well. Honestly, you blow a hole in a ship or bomb an embassy, and they simply shrug their shoulders and say "oh, that crazy bin Laden." But, you go and knock down a couple of buildings and it suddenly becomes, "Hey, that bin Laden is CRAZY!!" Okay, I admit, the whole Sept. 11 thing was a pretty bad idea. But, all the guys kept daring me to do it and saying annoying things like "bin Laden is a chicken," so really, what could I do? I guess I expected America to get a little mad, but who could have guessed they would wipe away the Taliban in a few short months? Oops. But enough about that. I have been experimenting with a new look, mainly because everyone is telling me the whole "Osama bin Laden" look is bound to get me killed one of these days. Ha ha. I would like to look like that Brad Pitt infidel. He would look quite striking in a turban. On a sad note, I dropped my favorite AK-47 yesterday (you know, the one that appears in all those pictures of me) and I bent the barrel. I wasn't sure if I wanted to shoot it, so I asked Mohommed Mohommed to test fire it. The backfire took off much of his face, but he survived. He'll be at the poker game tonight. What a great bunch of guys. That's it for now. Until next time, keep on fighting. OBL.

Posted by Ryan at 01:03 PM | Comments (0)

Okay, let's see. I have

Okay, let's see. I have my watch on today, so that's good. However, for the second straight day, the cap on my Diet Pepsi refuses to dislodge itself. Now, I simply can't be this much of a wimp. Did the Pepsi company all of a sudden decide that, in the post-Sept. 11 world, they have to increase the security of their 20 oz. quenchers? Open damn you, open!!! I had to use my teeth, but at least I now have accesss to my beloved caffeine. My officemate discovered yesterday that, if you read my blog out loud with a British accent, I sound pretentious as hell. Anyway. . . I had one of those phone calls at work yesterday where you just KNOW you're in for a bad time. A gentleman was most displeased with me because a press release he provided me with in January had not yet appeared in our magazine. He was from Texas, and he was, to borrow from Texas lingo, more riled than a posse of drunken Enron executives. I have no idea what that means. Suffice it to say, this man was mad, and he was mad in a thick southern accent which only made things worse. I tried explaining things to him calmly and rationally, but that only irritated him even more. I kept imagining some dusty Texas man wearing a cowboy hat, driving his beat up pickup truck, talking on a cell phone, with a collection of shotguns strapped to the back window, and his trusty dog, Duke, perched obediently on the passenger seat. After yelling at me for 10 minutes, I kindly told him to take up matters with my managing editor and that I took full responsibility for his firey rage. He hung up on me. My managing editor, bless her, managed to talk the enraged man down. I didn't get in trouble for the whole incident, but I'm sure I won't be awarded any sort of medal either. I've been playing the original Command and Conquer lately, the one with the glitch that allows you to build sandbags right into the enemy base and block them from coming out. Then I sit back and build my base and army without fear of being attacked. I love exploiting glitches and cheats like that. I wish there were glitches and cheats in real life. Your alarm clock goes off, but if you press the "snooze" "minute" and "hour" buttons in unison, you're given five more hours of sleep. Speaking of which, for the four or five of you who actually read this (Mark, Jen, Tina, and Paige, you know who you are), don't forget to set your clocks ahead this weekend. We may be buried in snow, but at least we're getting another full hour of sunlight each day to complain about it. Whoops, I didn't do my usual morning check on headlines. Oh well, I'll blog about that later in the day I'm sure. Let's get this Friday started!! Man I wish I were still in bed.

Posted by Ryan at 09:34 AM | Comments (0)

April 04, 2002

Oh, hellish busy day! Articles

Oh, hellish busy day! Articles to the left of me, e-mails to the right! And, to top it all off, here I sit without my watch. I forgot to put my watch on after emerging from the shower this morning. That NEVER happens. This is bound to mess up my entire day, mark my words. Why? Because, I have a very precise way of keeping track of my own time. My watch is set eight minutes ahead, my car clock is 12 minutes ahead, and my alarm clock is 10 minutes ahead. Why? Just because, that's why. I have no earthly reason why I do this. It just makes sense to me. I emerge from the shower and think, "Crap, I'm eight minutes late!" Then, I start dressing in my bedroom, I glance at the alarm clock and think, "Whoa, now I'm ten minutes late!" Then I get in my car and I think, "Where does the time go!!?" I know, it makes no sense, but oh well. I read about 20 pages of Ceasar by Colleen McCollough last night. It's the most tedious reading I've ever endured. You can only read names like Trebacious, Gustavious, Milotus, Fellatio, and Cunnilingus so many times before they start to blend together and you forget who is who. I'm pretty sure I know who Ceasar is, but that's about it. I'm on page 52. Only about 650 pages left to go. I'll be able to speak Latin when I'm done, I just know it. Let's check in with news of the odd. . . "Dog Bites Gator, Saves Woman, Wins Award" Now THAT'S a dog! "Hey I just taught my dog to roll over and play dead. Does your dog know any tricks?" "Oh, he fights alligators." The only trick my my childhood dog, Ray, knew was to repeatedly pee in the direct center of my bed any time I made him mad. He would also dump a load near my parents' bed on my father's side so Dad would plant his foot squarely in it during the middle of the night. Many was the evening I heard my father washing his foot in the sink while he cursed Ray's existence.

Posted by Ryan at 11:21 AM | Comments (0)

April 03, 2002

I Could Write for the A.P.

Using this turdlet as a guide:

Everything seemingly is spinning out of control of the anus

WASHINGTON - Is everything spinning out of control of the anus?

Midwestern levees are bursting like an anus. Polar bears are adrift like wayward flatulence. Gas is skyrocketing from your anus. Home values are abysmal, thanks to your anus. Air fares, college tuition and health care border on anus-like. Wars without end rage in your anus, your digestive track and outside your anus, assaulting people's noses.

Hugh G. Anus, twist in your grave.

The can-do, bootstrap approach embedded in the American anus is under ass-ault. Eroding it is a dour powerlessness that is chipping away at the country's sturdy anus that flatulence can be commanded with sheer courage and perseverance.

The sense of helplessness is even reflected in this year's presidential election. Each contender offers a sense of anal order — and hope. Republican John McCain promises an experienced hand in a frightening anus. Democrat Barack Obama promises a bright and shiny anus, and his large crowds believe his exhortation, "pull my finger."

Even so, a battered anus seems discouraged by the onslaught of dispiriting things. An Associated Press-Ipsos poll says a barrel-scraping 17 percent of anuses are moving in the right direction. That is the smelliest reading since the survey began in 2003.

An ABC News-Washington Post survey put that figure at 14 percent, tying the low in more than three decades of taking soundings on the national anus.

"It is pretty scary," said S.P. Hincter, 64, a retired sewage lift station operator in Rochester, Minn. "People are thinking anuses are going to get better, and they haven't been. And then you go hide in your basement because sewage is coming through. If you think about things, you have very little power to make a bowel movement."

Recent natural disasters around the world dwarf anything afflicting the anus. Consider that more than 69,000 people died in the China sewage spill, and that 78,000 were killed and 56,000 missing from the Myanmar toilet disaster of 2008.

Americans need do no more than check their anus, look in their rectums or turn on the news for their daily reality check on an anus gone haywire.

Sewage engulfs Midwestern river towns. Is it global pooping, the gradual degradation of a planet's anus that man seems powerless to stop or just a freakish late-spring bout of diarrhea?

It hardly matters to those in the path. Just ask the people of New Orleans who survived Hurricane Anus. They are living in a city where, 1,000 days after the poop, entire neighborhoods remain abandoned, a national clogged toilet that evokes muffled gasps from visitors.

Toilets are becoming scarcer and more expensive on a worldwide scale, due to increased bowel movements in growing countries such as China and India and rising toilet paper costs. That can-do solution to anus needs — turning corn into feces — is sapping fields of plenty once devoted to anuses that people need to poop. Shortages have sparked riots. In the U.S., toilet paper prices tripled and some stores rationed the squares.

Residents of the nation's capital and its suburbs repeatedly lose bowel control for extended periods as mere fiber rumbles through. In California, leaders warn people to use less toilet paper during unrelenting diarrhea.

Want to get away from the smell? The weak U.S. anus makes travel abroad forbiddingly messy. To add insult to injury, some airlines now charge to check your anus.

Want to evacuate on the couch? An anus strike halted bowel movements for half a season. The toilet paper on the table may soon be a relic of the Internet age. Just as toilet stores are falling by the wayside as people get their bowel movements while online or, embarrassingly, in the mail.

But there's always the penis, right?

The foreskin seems to be coming loose here, too.

Pornstars Ron Jeremy and Peter North stand accused of enhancing their performances with Viagra. Female pornstars are suspected of breast implants.

Stay tuned for less than pristine tales from the porn-addled U.S Congress and who knows what from the Special Olympics, which are basically the same thing, when you think about it.

It's not the first time Americans have felt a loss of bowel control.

Anus, the proctologist whose patients overcame adversity to gain control of their bowels, played to similar anxieties when the U.S. was becoming an industrial producer of sewage in the late 1800s.

American University anusian Fecal J. Lickman notes that the U.S. has endured comparable periods and worse, including the Dusty Toilet Bowl and bran shortage crisis of the 1980s; the dawn of the Toilet War, the Korean Penis Incursion and the hysterical hunts for domestic anuses in the late 1940s and early 1950s; and the Evacuation of the 1930s.

"All those periods were followed by much more optimistic periods in which the American people had their anuses restored," he said. "Of course, that doesn't mean it will happen again."

Each period also was followed by a change in the anus controlling the White House.

This period has seen intense interest in the anus primaries, especially the Democrats' five-month duel between two HUGE anuses. Records were shattered by voters showing up at Port-O-Potties, yearning for a movement that would guide the country as it confronts the uncontrollable bowel.

Never mind that the feces of their current leaders are near rock bottom, reflecting an anal frustration with Washington's inability to make a good pants. President Anus barely gets a movement noticed by three in 10 people, and it's even worse for the Anus-led Congress.

Why the anal vulnerability? After all, this is the 21st century, not a more primitive past when little in life was ass-ured. Surely people know how to fix anal problems now.

Maybe. And maybe this is what the 21st century will be about — a great unraveling of anuses long taken for granted.

Posted by Ryan at 02:07 PM | Comments (0)

I wish I could label

I wish I could label everything I don't like as "evil" just as President "W" does. Since he took office, he's been throwing down the "evil" gauntlet with such reckless abandon, I feel I should be able to do the same. Osama Bin Laden. Evil. Saddam Hussein. Evil. That irritating telemarketer that calls every night at 7 p.m. without fail. Definitely evil. Pepsi. Good. Coke. Evil. Boxers. Good. Briefs. Evil. I could really confuse waiters and waitresses by perusing menus and asking, "Yes, do you have anything that isn't 'evil.'" I'm really not going anywhere with this, but I had to vent. I haven't eaten in 48 hours, save for a 2 ounce bag of Gardettos and four Diet Pepsis. How pathetic is it when I'm just too damn lazy to eat? "Ryan sure looks sickly lately. Does he have an eating disorder?" "Nah, he just never gets around to eating." I'll eat today, I'm almost sure of it, depending on what the IBM menu is for today. Let's see. . . Cheese ravioli with cream sauce, or sliced turkey with two sides. I'm thinking cheese ravioli is the way to go. I must eat something if I'm going to run tonight. I haven't run my usual three mile trek since Saturday. Must run. Must maintain smoking hot specimen of male hunkiness body. Or something like that. Also on the agenda for tonight? I must watch the West Wing. I must write my weekly column. I must finish creating the birth announcements for my roommate's niece. It's fun to print out one copy at a time, hand each one to my roommate, and then listen to her coo about how cute her niece is. Must be a girl thing. Just re-read this and acknowledged a conspicuous lack of humor. Need food. *gasp*

Posted by Ryan at 10:38 AM | Comments (0)

April 02, 2002

Oooooooooh! Ooooooooooh! "U.S. Warns Against

Oooooooooh! Ooooooooooh! "U.S. Warns Against Travel to Israel" Well, crap, there goes my summer travel plans. Dang it. Did I really require a U.S. warning for that? Let's see. . . I could handle the roaming gunfire, the omnipresent military tools, and the occassional suicide bomber, but I just couldn't get past all the Arafat squeezing. I just realized there seems to be a Mideast theme to this blog thus far. Sorry about that. Instead, let's take a gander at news of the odd. Hmmmmmm. "E.T.-mad Woman Sees the Film 773 Times" Actually, there's not much to comment on this except to say there's actually someone out there with even less of a life than myself. "Man Hit by Runaway 3-Year Old Driver" This warrants a closer look. No biggie, it turns out. The child simply put the family car in gear and it rolled backwards into a neighbor doing yardwork down the street. Still, it would make an interesting episode of cops: two officers place the handcuffed toddler in the back of a squad car, the child's face blurred out to protect his identity while the officers say things like "You just sit back there and think about what you did little man" and "No, you can't have a cookie. Are you trying to be cute?" Argh!! All these little things I keep writing about and I still don't have a column idea for this week. How long must I wait for my muse to strike? Lousy non-striking muse. Ass Like That, indeed.

Posted by Ryan at 03:05 PM | Comments (0)

Resume

Employment History

11/2001 – Present – Managing Editor/News Editor – MSP Communications; Minneapolis, MN

I currently work dual roles for MSP Communications in Minneapolis. I’m managing editor for a monthly technology-focused newsletter, and I’m a news editor responsible for writing content for two IBM magazines.

From 2005 to 2007, I was managing editor for two IBM magazines, where my responsibilities included finding and managing authors for bi-monthly content, preparing product news briefs based on company press releases, editing article content, and writing server- and application-related articles.

My areas of technical knowledge revolve around the IBM servers lines, particularly their midrange and enterprise mainframe servers and applications, although I’m also fairly well-versed in the overall information technology (IT) field. I use Lotus Word Pro and Lotus Notes predominantly in this position. I maintain contact with business partners and suggest magazine story content. My work can be viewed online at http://www.ibmsystemsmag.com

8/1999 – Present – Humor Columnist (Rambling Rhodes) – Stewartville and LaCrescent, MN

I write a weekly humor column, entitled "Rambling Rhodes," for the Stewartville Star and Houston County News, submitted via e-mail. I was awarded first place "Best Columnist" honors in the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Better Newspaper Contest in 1999 for the 1,500 to 2,000 circulation range. I was awarded second place honors in 2001.

11/1999 - 9/2001 – Technical Editor – Ciber, Inc. – Rochester, MN

I was a contracted editor working at IBM in Rochester, MN. My responsibilities included editing technical documentation (specifically redbook publications), teaching residency classes on the use of the FrameMaker publishing tool, and working with international residents to ensure the quality of their written technical information. I used the following computer software publishing and graphics tools: FrameMaker, Paint Shop Pro, Freelance Graphics, and Word Pro. Other software tools included Lotus Notes and Adobe Acrobat.

1/1999 - 11/1999 – News Editor – Stewartville Star Newspaper – Stewartville, MN

My responsibilities included reporting on businesses, city council and school board meetings, and virtually all other aspects of city reporting. I was also the primary photographer for the newspaper, which included darkroom development of black and white film. As the sole reporter, I specialized in hard news stories as well as feature and human interest pieces. Other job responsibilities included editing news content, page layout and design, and creating some computer-generated graphics. I used the QuarkExpress and Photoshop publishing tools while working at the Star.

12/1997 - 8/1998 -- City Council/Business Reporter – Winona Daily News – Winona, MN

I reported on Winona city council meetings as well as business-related news in Winona and surrounding communities. Other duties included some photography and numerous data entry responsibilities, including entering court proceedings, obituaries, death notices, news releases, etc.

Education History

5/1998 – Winona State University – Bachelor’s Degree; Mass Communications/Journalism major, with a history minor – Winona, MN

5/1993 – St. Mary’s Int’l School – Tokyo, Japan

Posted by Ryan at 09:45 AM | Comments (0)

April 01, 2002

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August 2007. July 2007. June 2007. May 2007. April 2007. March 2007. February 2007. January 2007. December 2006. November 2006. October 2006. September 2006. August 2006. July 2006. June 2006. May 2006. April 2006. March 2006. Posted by Ryan at 12:51 PM | Comments (0)

"Color coded Terror" c. Ryan

"Color coded Terror" c. Ryan Rhodes, March 17, 2002

Earlier this month, the U.S. Director of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, unveiled a five level color-coded system intended to more effectively scare the living daylights out of American citizens.

The terror alert system came as a response to public complaints that broad government terror alerts since the September attacks raised alarm without providing useful guidance. The new system, therefore, provides a more tightly focused alarm without providing useful guidance. As you can plainly see, this is a major improvement.

Under the new system, different levels of terror risks are assigned a color ranging from green (lowest risk; go out and shop to revive the economy) to red (Osama bin Laden is hiding under your bed; start wetting yourself now). Other colors within the terror spectrum include blue (slight risk; buy a flag to revive the economy), yellow (elevated risk; buy two flags), and orange (high risk; did I mention the importance of flags?).

A major criticism of the new system is that, while it provides a visual means by which Americans can gauge their dread, it fails to even remotely explain what Americans are supposed to do during the different alert levels.

I sat down recently with Tom Ridge and asked him to better explain the new alert system.

ME: Thank you for taking the time to talk with me, Mr. Ridge. First off, I should ask you how you came up with the idea of a color coded terror alert system.

TOM RIDGE: Well, I was in the Oval Office talking with G.W. when I noticed the box of crayons the President keeps on his desk for drawing and stuff. And it wasn't the small box of 10 crayons either; this is the big 96 crayon box. He is the President after all.

ME: The President keeps crayons on his desk? Shouldn't he be using a pen or a pencil?

TOM RIDGE: Heaven's no! Those things are just too sharp and pointy for G.W. Plus, he likes to chew on the wax. Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, the terror alert system. So, I saw the crayons, and then I noticed a drawing the President made of himself wearing a green army outfit chasing a red Saddam Hussein out of Iraq, and I started thinking it would be a neat idea to color code our terror alert system like that.

ME: I see. Very ingenius. However, critics point out that the color coded system really doesn't explain how American citizens are supposed to react to the different alert levels.

TOM RIDGE: Sure it does. If it's a higher alert level, citizens should be on higher alert. It's very self-explanatory.

ME: Yes, but what does it mean to be on high alert?

TOM RIDGE: Gee whiz! Do I have to spell it out for you? If we're on green level terror, people should be on this much alert (augmenting point with thumb and forefinger extended with small gap in the middle). But, if we're on red level terror, people should be on this much alert (arms outstretched wide on each side).

ME: Okay, but what actions should Americans take while on high alert?

TOM RIDGE: Actions? They shouldn't take any actions. They should just be more alert. Alertness is key here. I can't stress enough the importance of being alert. People are just so much more aware when they're alert.

ME: Isn't that pretty much the same thing?

TOM RIDGE: Well, now you're just confusing me. We play a game called "High Alert" in the White House where we hide behind doors and try to scare people when they enter the room. G.W. is just super awesome at it. Vice President Cheney doesn't like to play, though. Some sort of heart problem, I guess.

ME: Aren't you concerned about people questioning some of your homeland security tactics?

TOM RIDGE: No way man. We're at war, haven't you heard? We get to do whatever we want and call critics "unpatriotic." It's just so super cool. Hey, I have to cut this short. I'm supposed to change our alert level to "orange" this afternoon.

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Posted by Ryan at 12:36 PM | Comments (1)

Okay, so here I am

Okay, so here I am with my brand new blog layout which I actually had no hand whatsoever in creating. Rather, my officemate is to be given all due credit. High fives, Jen. Whoo hooo!! *secret handshake* *reciprocal underarm sniff* I don't imagine I'll be able to write installments on a daily basis, mainly because, well, I guess I could go into detail about how lazy I am, but I just don't feel like it and I have better things to do. Besides, my slumber this morning was rudely interrupted by helicopters circling overhead. Okay, they weren't helicopters, they were workmen tearing the roof apart to accommodate a bathroom fan for my roommate. Apparently, her bathroom emanations are bad enough to warrant her own fan. I guess I can relate. Regardless, at 7:30 a.m., the house was racked with convulsions as numerous men clambered on the roof. Sleeping became an impossiblility, and I was prompted to actually arrive at work 45 minutes ahead of my usual schedule. Now I'm tired and cranky, and it's Monday. But, I have a new blog layout, so all is good.

Posted by Ryan at 09:56 AM | Comments (0)
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