November 26, 2003

Credit Advice, Sort Of

I've never been in debt. Okay, that's not entirely true. Yes, I've been in the kind of debt where I had to make car payments, and I'm currently in the kind of debt that says I have to make house payments.

I've never been in credit card debt, however. Truth be told, I've never even owned a credit card. I don't trust them. I've been conditioned not to trust them thanks to many years of living with college roommates.

Most of my college roommates had this weird outlook on credit cards. Basically, they thought credit cards were magical pieces of plastic that just magically paid for things and that they were somehow immune from the the ensuing debt that came about due to excessive credit card spending.

I'll admit it: I was sort of jealous of my roommates and their magical credit cards. After all, they always seemed to have money and, if they didn't, they just whipped out their credit cards. Books? Put them on the credit card. Food? Put it on the credit card. Night out at a strip club? credit card.

And yet there I was writing checks and budgeting like a fool. I remember thinking that I was doing everything all wrong. I mean, there I would sit, meticulously lording over my finances, while my roommates went waltzing all over town swiping their credit cards with the careless glee of a six-year-old with a loaded pistol.

Then, one year, I was a roommate with a guy named Chad. Chad was actually a former high school classmate of mine. He was, and is, a tech-head. He's one of those guys who was born to know technology. Way back in elementary school, he taught me how to write simple programs for the Apple IIc, and he always just seemed to know everything about computers.

But he didn't know shit about personal finances. He whipped out any one of his many credit cards with the swiftness and ease of a Old West gunslinger. By the time we became roommates, he had already accrued over $10,000 in credit card debt.

I remember thinking what an incredibly large amount of money that seemed to be, especially when I factored in the understanding that he also received financial aid, and that he also worked. Granted, he worked at the local Brach's candy factory on the Gummi Bear line, which paid about as well as you might imagine, but it was still money, so I came to the conclusion that old Chad was a pretty carefree spender.

Well, one day, I popped into Chad's outrageously messy room where I noticed, tucked between two huge bags of pilfered defective Gummi Bears, a credit card notice that was slugged "Urgent!" and another that was slugged "Immediate Payment Required" and still another that read "We Break Fingers And Toes."

Then the calls started coming in, usually two or three a day. "Is Mr. Haugen available? We really need to speak with him." No, he's not here. "Are you sure you're not really Mr. Haugen?" Yes, I'm sure. "Well, when he comes in, have him call Mike at Discover immediately." *sound of shotgun cocking* Will do.

Chad was masterful when it came to avoiding creditors. He always seemed to leave the apartment just two or three minutes before a creditor called. It was like he had some sort of sixth sense. Which was all fine and dandy, except that I ended up being the intermediary between Chad and the creditors, so I got to absorb all the impatient anger and suspicion of basically every credit card company on the planet.

It was the day a creditor appeared, in person, at our doorstep that I realized Chad's debt situation was probably more dire than Chad cared to admit. There was a knock at the door, I answered, and a gentleman in a suit that looked both impressive and threatening stood before me. He asked to see a Mr. Chad Haugen, at which point I heard a little scuffling emanating from Chad's room as Chad scurried out the back entrance which, conveniently, was located at the far end of his bedroom.

We chatted together, the ominous creditor and me, for about an hour, waiting for Chad to get home, even though, of course, there was no way in holy hell Chad was going to make an appearance while that guy was in our apartment. I even had to produce my ID, so the creditor was satisfied that I wasn't, in fact, Chad Haugen.

After that, I believe, Chad ended up getting a loan from his parents, or somebody, so he could pay off his credit card debt at least enough to keep the creditors at bay. He eventually got a job working at IBM, which was a long-assed commute from Winona to Rochester, but paid a whole lot more than the Gummi Bear line.

As for me, Chad's experience with credit cards pretty much scared me away from plastic for good.

Posted by Ryan at 12:11 PM | Comments (0)

November 25, 2003

And Now, Your Tuesday Linkfest

You know, after a huge Thanksgiving meal, I like to recline on a La-Z-Boy and pop the top off an nice, smooth turkey gravy flavored soda pop. I then like to barf forcefully into a five gallon pail I keep on hand after gagging on turkey gravy flavored soda pop.

After choking on turkey gravy flavored soda pop, I then like to start decorating the Christmas tree. But, not just any Christmas tree: a skunk scented Christmas tree! I'm sick and tired of the traditional smell of pine wafting through the house. This year, I want to take in snootfuls of concentrated skunk pheremones. Oh, Christmas tree, Oh, Christmas tree, your odor is disgusting.

Finally, I like to unwind by buying any of the Top Ten Worst Toys for all the brats in the neighborhood. You know, having just read that list, I think it would be fun to come up with some fictional toys that would be bad Christmas sellers. Let's try, shall we?

-- Scathing Herpes Barbie (now featuring more pustules)

-- Don't Ask, Don't Tell G.I. Joe

-- The Cat In The Hat. . . In Heat

-- Professor Jake's Fun Box Full 'O Sharp Pointy Things That Are Easily Swallowed

-- Big Daddy G's Pimp Action Figure (now with ho slappin' backhand)

-- Bathtub Meth Starter Kit

-- Faulty Penis Enlargements

Okay, folks, your turn.

Nud. Nud Nud Nud Nud Nud Nud Nud Nud Nud Nud Nud Nud Nud Nud Nud. Nud. Nud. Nud. Nud. Nud.

Posted by Ryan at 11:41 AM | Comments (0)

November 24, 2003

The Weekend That Consisted Of 30 Hours Of Sleep

Well, Melissa is winding down her semester, which means a lot of homework and a lot of studying, and a lot of me not seeing her because having me staying with her would mean a lot of sexual distraction, so I stayed in Rochester all weekend.

Melissa is finally to the point where she understands we don't have to see each other during every free moment of our lives. Last year, during the early stages of our relationship, she would constantly drive down to Rochester, which was fine, but it threw my weekly routine all out of whack. Now, we basically just try to hook up as best we can on the weekends, and that has worked out wonderfully. Sure, we miss each other from time to time, but we also understand that we're trying to achieve certain goals in our respective lives. She wants to graduate college in two years and be an interior designer, while I want to build up enough job experience to eventually be able to transition to a writing capacity that is more entertaining than high technology. Some day, our goals will mesh, but until then, we have what we have, and we're surprisingly happy.

That, and we call each other whenever Most Extreme Elimination Challenge comes on and we laugh ourselves senseless. Seriously, that show is the shit.

Right you are, Ken.


So, I had an entire weekend all to myself, which hasn't happened in, like, forever. I took advantage of the situation by catching up on basically a year of sleep. Friday night, I went to bed at 11 p.m., and I awoke at 2 p.m. Saturday. Saturday, likewise, I went to bed at 11 p.m., and awoke at 2 p.m. Sunday. That's 30 hours of sleep over two days. I think I'm going into hibernation or something. Whatever the case, it was a luxurious weekend of slumber.

And I had some pretty trippy dreams, too. I think that, since I was determined to sleep so much, my mind made up for the down time by seeing how creative it could get. In one sequence, I found myself putting on a flight uniform as a pilot for the Rebel Alliance. Luke Skywalker even helped zip me up! Then, I found myself in the cockpit of an X-Wing, where I realized, to my horror, that I had no idea how to pilot such a craft. I was sooooo going to crash into the Death Star! Noooooo. . . cut to next dream. In that dream, everyone was Kung-Fu fighting. I can't remember if there was a segue into this dream or not, but there I was, sitting in Buffalo Wild Wings, playing trivia and drinking a beer, when suddenly a brawl broke out, with me in the middle. And, I have to say, I was really holding my own, without spilling my beer or anything, when suddenly I found myself riding in a car going down the highway, except I was in the backseat, and there was NO DRIVER. I actually have that kind of dream an awful lot. I wonder what Freud would say.

When I wasn't sleeping, or totally vegging out in front of the television on Sunday during a marathon of Most Extreme Elimination Challenge, I did actually try to accomplish things. For example, I went out and purchased a birthday gift for Melissa. It was HUGE, and kind of spendy, and I almost bought one for myself, but the store only had one in stock, which was probably a good thing, because there was no way I could have transported two of them in my car. I then went to Best Buy, where I bought ink cartridges which are, I believe, the one remaining commodity in the computer world that insists on costing way damn more than they should. Come on, it's INK for crying out loud. It shouldn't require the taking out of a loan.

Back in college, I did some experimenting (no, not THAT way) with ink cartridges. I tried one of those frip-frapping ink refilling kits. I tried using that kit a grand total of three times, and each time I succeeded in spritzing ink everywhere BUT into the damn cartridge. My hands looked like those of a coal miner, and so did my shirt, and pants, and face, and socks, and genitals. Okay, not the genitals. But, the lesson was learned: ink cartridge refilling kits are simply NOT worth the effort or the money saved. Oh, and plus, in the event of a successful refill, it would take about fifty sheets of paper before the cartridge actually printed out anything other than a bunch of ink driplets. Page after page of what appeared to be braille. Never. Again.

I also finally weakened and bought Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy. It was only a matter of time. I've beaten every Jedi Knight PC game going all the way back to the version that required booting from a DOS prompt. This line of games just refuses to disappoint. I spent several hours Saturday night entranced in front of my computer. The game taps into that portion of my mind that always wanted to BE IN the Star Wars movies, that little tyke who thought it would be awesome to actually have a light saber, and ride a Ton-Ton, and use the Force to move shit around. Well, now I CAN, albeit through the medium of a computer. Suffice it to say, this game will be my little nightly addiction for some time to come.

Winter is now officially here in Minnesota. I know this because my car doors were frozen shut Sunday night, and I also had to pour hot water on my lock. I also know this because I went for a five mile run Sunday night and the return route into the wind almost froze my nose off and made my teeth hurt. We didn't get much in the way of snow down here in Rochester, a slight dusting basically, but freezing rain Saturday night more than made up for that. I hate scraping my windshield, and on Saturday night, there was enough ice on my car to glaciate most of the Sahara, so I simply opted to turn on my car and allow the defrost to work its magic. I took the house key off the ring and went back in to warm myself indoors. However, I accidently left my house key in the house, even though I DID remember to lock the door. Poop.

There's something deeply humiliating about locking yourself out of your own house. It's like you don't even trust yourself. Nope, you're not worthy to come back in, sorry. Thankfully, I still had my car running, so I just opted to drive around running errands until my roommate got home.

I hate winter. But I love Kelly Monaco. I wish there was a nude Kelly Monaco. Kelly Monaco naked would be great. Mmmmm, Kelly Monaco.

Posted by Ryan at 12:37 PM | Comments (0)

November 21, 2003

A Marketing Ploy?

I wonder if it's just coincidence that the release of the Cat in the Hat comes at about the same time as Michael Jackson's arrest. The visual similarities are striking, although the Cat in the Hat, I think, is far cuter.

Posted by Ryan at 09:25 PM | Comments (0)

Forget About Going Blind

The REAL danger of masturbation is exposed for all the world to see right here.

Posted by Ryan at 04:37 PM | Comments (0)

November 20, 2003

I Know It's Sorta Tasteless, But. . .

Being that it's so close to Thanksgiving, I wince with a small little bit of a sardonic grimace when I read such headlines as "At least 27 killed in Turkey blasts."

Come on, people, learn how to prepare those birds correctly. They'll explode in your oven with little or no warning. Exercise caution.

UPDATE, KIND OF: Wow, I'm reading Lileks right now. He's steamed and, as usual, when James Lileks gets steamed, he's about the best thing on the Web. My choice for best paragraph, out of several candidates:

"It's going to take another attack to convince the fence-sitters:" I hear this all the time. I don't think that's the case. I think the next attack on American soil will jolt whose who've moved on, who've forgotten the aching, clammy dread we all felt after 9/11. But others will believe that we brought it on ourselves. You already read it around the web – the bombings in Turkey were a response to Britain's assistance for toppling Saddam; what did we expect? In other words: if we fight back, we get what we deserve. If we do not fight back, and we are attacked again, you can blame it on the crimes for which we have not yet sufficiently atoned. The only proper posture for the West is supine. Curl up and let them kick until they're spent. Give them Israel and New York and perhaps they'll go away.

He also takes on Salam Pax, and he does so with an uncharacteristic (for Lileks) "effenheimer." Really, though, I think Pax had it coming.

UPDATE, THE SEQUEL: On the other hand, there's this, which also makes a valid point.

Posted by Ryan at 02:37 PM | Comments (0)

A New, Exciting Insult That Can Apply To Everything

I've been insulted. Many times in fact. I've been called swear words, I've been called practically every permutation of "stupid," and I've had more middle fingers extended in my direction than is probably healthy for most people.

Yes, I've been insulted a great many times. But, I always take the insults in stride, mostly because they don't bother me, but also because, somewhere in the back of mind, I'm pretty much aware that I probably deserve each and every insult hurled my way. I mean, I have to admit it: I can be a real jerk sometimes.

But, I think another reason insults don't tend to bother me is because I've heard every insult, every swear word, every name calling exercise, so many times repeatedly, they just don't have any affect on me any more. I think what the world is ripe for is a degrading insult that can apply to practically every situation and every person, yet still be innocuous and humorous enough that it doesn't really totally piss someone off.

And, last night, I came up with one. Well, I sort of came up with one.

Melissa, my girlfriend, is an interior design student, and she spends a lot of time on the computer drafting commercial and residential layouts and designs. Her latest assignment was to design a home for a handicapped individual, complete with wheelchair accessibility, while adhering to so many legal regulations she sometimes sounded like a lawyer.

Well, I'm a guy, which means I can't watch TV and listen to my girlfriend talk about stuff at the same time. So, last night, as Melissa was telling me about how hard it was to design her latest project, and I tried to catch snippets of the news, my listening skills were stressed to the max.

"This was a really tough house to design," said Melissa, I think. "It's hard to design a house for someone who is a blind duck in a wheelchair."

"Excuse me? A blind duck in a wheelchair? What?"

"Would you LISTEN for a change?!" said Melissa, rolling her eyes. "I said 'for someone who is blind, deaf, and in a wheelchair.'"

"Oh, well, THAT makes sense. For a second there, I was really feeling bad for that poor duck."

That's when it hit me; I had accidentally stumbled across the catch-all insult that had been eluding me all my life. Of course! The next time somebody does something collossally stupid, I'll be SO ready.

"Jeez," I'll say. "That was a really stupid thing to do. I'd expect behavior like that from a blind duck in a wheelchair, but not from you."

It's PERFECT. It can be tweaked to fit practically any situation, and it belittles while still sounding ridiculous and funny.

Somebody bumps into you by accident. . .

"Hey, watch it, buddy. What are you? A blind duck in a wheelchair?"

Telemarketers. . .

"Sorry. I don't feel like talking to a blind duck in a wheelchair right now, sorry."

So, I implore you, America! Get out there and start insulting people the way they were meant to be insulted.


Are you scared?

You're just a bunch of blind ducks in wheelchairs.

Just so you know, I'll probably be thinking a lot about I'll be trying to imagine Scarlett Johansson . Because a Scarlett Johansson would be pretty awesome all around. Or Hayden Panettiere. Mmm, Hayden Panettiere. Hayden Panettiere. Hayden Panettiere. Hayden Panettiere.

Posted by Ryan at 11:12 AM | Comments (0)

November 18, 2003

Less Filling! *STAB!* Tastes Great! *STAB!*

At the risk of becoming one of those bloggers who just post links to humorous news items, here's another humorous news item. Just for the record, Kirin Beer is the best tasting beer. Now you know. *STAB!*

Posted by Ryan at 03:02 PM | Comments (0)

And Here I Thought The One I Use To Clean My toilet Was The Oldest

Archeologists, rejoice! The oldest known EUROPEAN toothbrush has been found!

Best paragraph: While the bristles have rotted away, the brush's 4 inch (10 centimeter) handle of animal bone is carved at the other end into a tiny spoon believed to be used for cleaning out the owner's ears.

Okay, like, ewwwwww. What every home needs, a combination toothbrush/Q-Tip. Be sure to remember which end is which.

Sarah Chalke. Sarah Chalke. Sarah Chalke. Made you look! Sarah Chalke.

Posted by Ryan at 02:30 PM | Comments (0)

November 17, 2003

Picked The Wrong Day, Folks

Sorry, way-minded people, but my girlfriend's birthday is Dec. 3, and since I'm such a last-minute-shopper, even though I already know what I'm going to buy, I have to opt out of your little, you know. . . whatever-it-is.

I'll call it a failure, if you don't mind. I don't mind. I'm used to failure, er, at least at dating.


Posted by Ryan at 11:12 PM | Comments (0)

Remember To Jam Frequently. Oh, And Club A Seal

Ryan says: Now I'm jamming to Pure Moods.

Caroline says: You be jammin

Ryan says: Well, not jamming so much as chilling out.

Caroline says: I haven't jammed in a long time. I should start jamming again.

Ryan says: Jamming is becoming a lost art.

Caroline says: Yes, indeed it has.

Caroline says: The hokey-pokey is somewhat of a lost art as well.

Ryan says: If we could somehow jam to the hokey-pokey, we'd kill two birds.

Caroline says: Do you like Seal at all?

Ryan says: Not at all.

Caroline says: I didn't either until I heard his latest song.

Caroline says: I like it.

Ryan says: Except for clubbing baby seals. I like that.

Caroline says: You would.

Ryan says: I love the soft squeaking plea to their mothers as I bludgeon them.

Caroline says: You're a tad sick.

Posted by Ryan at 12:56 PM | Comments (0)

Weekend Stuff

Nothing like a three day weekend to rejuvenate the soul and remind you just how much you hate Mondays. I took Friday off because I had to drive up to the Cities for work Thursday afternoon and I just plain didn't feel like driving all the way back Thursday night or Friday morning. That, and I'm a lazy guy.

The work-related crap on Thursday was a corporate get-together so the publication company I contract with for IBM could pat the appropriate backs of the worker bees who performed well over the year. I guess I don't have a problem with such ceremonies, but I just don't like taking part in them. It seems like wasted time to me. I would rather be out with people I want to be out with rather than being told to attend a back-patting exercise with people I never see and frankly could care less about.

I think I irritate some of the upper-management types with my "don't care" attitude, and truthfully that doesn't really bother me. One guy, Frank, in particular, is obviously nonplussed with my disdain for corporate game-playing and my refusal to play by the rules he enjoys adhering to.

You see, for me, my job is my job, it is not my life. While I'm at work, I do my work (and occasionally blog), but as soon as I exit the building at the end of the day, work is behind me. I just don't think about it any more. My work is not what defines me. It's what pays the bills. As I understand it, this is a very Generation Xer mentality. We do good work, us Gen Xers; just don't ask us to do too much or sacrifice our lives outside of work.

Frank doesn't know how to approach me beyond a hand shake and a "how ya doin." He hasn't known how to deal with me ever since I turned down a managing editor position earlier in the year. "But, that's the next step. This is a promotion. Doesn't everyone want to be promoted?" Nope. I want to write. I don't want to manage. Next question. So, Frank tried to force me into the position by going past me over to my publisher. My publisher, knowing me, told Frank I probably wouldn't go along, to which Frank said to make me go along, to which I said I'll quit, to which Frank huffed but ultimately fell silent on the issue. Therefore, when we do see each other, we don't have much to say, because he doesn't understand me, and I don't want to understand him.

Not surprisingly, I didn't win any awards Thursday night. Damn.

After the two hour back-patting ceremony, I was off to see Melissa. She's still swamped with enough school work to keep her busy till spring, if it weren't all due next week. She's stressed, to put it mildly. Her apartment is littered with interior design layouts, and pens, and markers, and freshly pulled out hair. Okay, no hair, but she is stressed out enough to do just that.

One of the main things that keeps her going is the knowledge she'll be going to Hawaii with me this Christmas. This came as a surprise to her, and to me as well. I knew I was going to Hawaii, but then my parents offered to pay for Melissa's ticket too. I didn't know what to think of that. I mean, I hope they're not expecting a wedding or anything in return. Mom assured me she wasn't expecting that. She just wanted me to have company to do things with while I'm in Hawaii. Ooookayyyyy.

When I extended the offer to Melissa, she was shocked, to put it mildly. She kept thinking I was kidding around with her, and it would have been a really good joke to play on her, I have to admit it. Now that the reality has sunk in, she's obsessing about doing something nice for my parents, which is understandable, but she's starting to become obsessive about it. I mean, chill out, girl; these are just my parents, they're not royalty. Granted, they just shelled out over a grand for airfare for you, but don't over think things. It's actually fun to watch her over-ponder this. It's like watching a neurosis develop from scratch.


Regarding the on-going situation in Iraq: permit me to make a bit of a prediction here. No matter what exit strategy the U.S. implements, and no matter how stable we manage to leave that nation, the anti-war crowd will undoubtedly cry "retreat" and "failure" and "Vietnam." I say this because, prior to the war, the anti-war crowd claimed the U.S. didn't have any intention of staying with the rebuilding for the long haul. Once it became apparent that the U.S. did, indeed, have the gumption to stick it out despite casualties, the anti-war crowd cried "quagmire." So, now, the U.S. tries to expedite the transition of power and the anti-war crowd cries "abandonment." Crap on a cracker. And don't tell me for a second that this guy isn't a raving lunatic who, quite arguably, hates America.

UPDATE: Interesting.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Iraqi blogs just keep popping up all over. Granted, it's difficult to verify their authenticity and all that, but that can be said of about, oh, 75 percent of bloggers. Anyway, Omar has a few words for war protesters.

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

November 13, 2003

Worst. Ending. Ever

I beat Chaser last night. The ending was basically Total Recall without the happy conclustion. It was the most disappointing end to a game I've ever seen. Depressing, to say nothing of monumentally stupid. I hereby drop the game rating to 4 bullets out of a possible 10. Dumb fucking game.

Posted by Ryan at 11:25 AM | Comments (0)

Can You Hear Me Now?

To combat the audio ejaculations springing forth from my nose-blowing, carrot-crunching officemate, I finally surrendered and brought in a collection of CDs and a set of headphones to hopefully drown her out, or at least muffle her.

Two problems. A of all, my headphone cord isn't long enough to reach from the back of the CPU to my ears. B of all, there's one audio jack for left and one for right, so my head phones would be in mono rather than stereo. Taken together, the situation was unacceptable.

The solution?

Here at IBM (motto: No Technology Is Too Old), they used to equip all PCs with external speakers because the PCs of yore apparently didn't have internal speakers. Of course, nowadays, most PCs DO have embedded speakers, so the old external speakers have become obsolete. However, being that it's IBM, they never really got around to throwing out the old external speakers.

So, I invaded a vacant office across the hall in search of a set of the defunct speakers. And I found some! In the original box and everything! To give you an idea how old these speakers are, they're Altec Lansing ACS52 models. The box touts them as Windows 95 compatible, for crying out loud. With Phantom Bass! Whatever the hell that is. They're big and clunky and they look like air purifiers.

But, they work!

I'm now listening to Vivaldi (yeah, yeah, I know), and once my officemate comes into work, I can plug my headphones into the speakers and hopefully drown out her nasal noise.

If not, at least I have surround sound.

Posted by Ryan at 11:15 AM | Comments (0)

November 12, 2003

You Don't Say. . .

"I don't get it. I love what I do. I enjoy singing and dancing but I'm pretty retarded. Just a big dork. Very silly."

BRITNEY SPEARS telling USA Today she doesn't understand the media's obsession with her.

Retarded. That's the word I was looking for.

Posted by Ryan at 07:51 PM | Comments (0)

Ah, Yes, Dodge Ball. Or, Do I Mean Soak 'Em?

Inspired by Joshua, who wrote a far more evocative post on the subject, I thought I'd dredge up an old (and I mean OLD) newspaper column I wrote about elementary school dodge ball. Read this if you want, but also be sure to read Joshua's post. It's a worthwhile read, particularly for elitist jackholes such as myself.

When Dodge Ball was Dodge Ball c. Ryan Rhodes, Oct. 24, 2001

This column is not about anthrax. While I sat and pondered the topic for this week, I dismissed anthrax both because it's tough to think up a good anthrax joke, and because you can find out everything you never wanted to know about anthrax pretty much everywhere else. I'm fairly certain I heard Barney the Dinosaur singing a little diddy about anthrax early last week: "Infect you. . . Infect me. . . Infect one more, so now there's three."

No, I decided to dedicate this column to the disturbing trend in America's schools to ban the time-honored grade school activity of dodge ball. Apparently, jittery school officials and parents of less-than-athletic children have managed to curb the dodge ball practice in several grade schools nationwide. This deeply saddens me. The reasoning, according to dodge ball detractors, is that the game instills violence in students and enforces the mentality of jocks versus nerds, with the jocks being those who hurl the balls, and the nerds being those struck by them.

Now, I'm a product of the dodge ball era. What's more, I'm a veteran of the era when dodge ball was dodge ball, when the game was played with debilitating rubber balls, not the Nerf contraptions of today. We used thick, rubber, half-inflated burgundy spheres that included a slightly raised star pattern, presumably for a better grip. Any face unfortunate enough to come in contact with a high velocity sphere would wear a painful star pattern for several hours. It was generally believed in school yard circles that these balls were originally created as top secret World War II weapons that mysteriously found their way into our classroom toy boxes.

I realize the absurdity of a 26-year-old male invoking the phrase "back in my day," but back in my day, dodge ball was the passion of the morning and afternoon school yard. Sides were quickly organized through the demeaning but necessary practice of team captains picking members. I can honestly and proudly say I was rarely the last one picked. In fact, I was often in the middle of the pack, which, oddly enough, is where I find myself today. Anyway, I attribute my dodge ball skill to my early realization that it stung like crazy to get hit by an oncoming projectile. Ducking and dodging came naturally after that.

I was also quite good at catching, which was a highly sought after skill because, if someone caught a ball, his or her team was able to reclaim one of its tagged out members, while at the same time disposing of the person who threw the ball. Therefore, I commonly heard the phrase, "We gotta get Rhodes out early." I hated that.

In addition to the use of rubber weapons of death, my school was chock full of farm kids and kids who developed physically way, way, way ahead of schedule. I knew I was in trouble when lunch boxes included Gillette razors so my buddies could shave at noon. In other words, there was some dangerous muscle behind roughly 80 percent of every hurled ball.

Each game started out tentatively, with no one really wanting to charge the line and throw their ball at a team consisting of well-armed opponents. So, we normally would huddle up and think up a strategy involving the sacrifice of a team member to draw the enemy fire. Usually, the sacrificial lamb would have a name like Erwin, a poor soul who wore taped glasses because he had been nominated for the same task several times before. Poor Erwin.

Once Erwin exited with a star pattern emblazoned on his face, the real fireworks ensued.

There was some real bravery exhibited on the dodge ball field. Team members would sacrifice themselves to save a good catcher, or to simply retrieve a ball bouncing uselessly in no-mans land. The sharp smack and howl of soldiers being tagged by rubber torture devices reverberated throughout the game, and games could last an entire hour if you had good catchers on your team.

I learned a lot by playing dodge ball, namely that I could be smacked in the groin by a ball thrown by someone who professed to be my friend just half an hour earlier. It was a school yard version of the corporate ladder, where you could trust no one.

In addition, after playing dodge ball for hundreds of mornings and afternoons, and getting hit countless times by speeding rubber projectiles, I'm really not that scared of anthrax.

UNRELATED UPDATE: Some pretty good points, if I do say so myself, and I do say so.

ANOTHER UNRELATED UPDATE: But, I thought we acted unilaterally.

AND YET ANOTHER UNRELATED UPDATE: Layne, your Mom is watching.

Posted by Ryan at 10:07 AM | Comments (0)

November 11, 2003

The Perils of Poop Positioning

It's been awhile since I've indulged in toilet talk, like, several hours, so I figure I'm due.

So, I just took a crap a few minutes ago, and I became aware that my initial pooping position was just not what it should be. I think I suffer from premature squatting, or something. I mean, I'll sit down just fine and all, but I tend to shuffle too far up on the seat. There's no reason for this, because the toilet seat, and by extension the the hole through which the defecation falls, does not care if you use the whole seat, or just part of it. I may as well sit directly in the center, is what I'm saying.

Here's the problem with shuffling up too far on the toilet seat, and this is what I noticed just a short while ago on the crapper. As any veteran male pooper knows, when you clench off a fecal fragment, your wang twitches. Or, maybe it's just me, but whatever. The point is, when I flex the appropriate kegel muscles to pinch off a turdlett, my pecker does a little spasm dance that usually involves brief upward motion.

Obviously, when I'm hunkered down too close to the front of the bowl, rather than taking advantage of the generous amount of toilet seat afforded to me, when my wang bounces upward, it comes in contact with the front of the bowl, and it's not pleasant to think that my wang probably isn't the only wang that touches the front of the bowl during the course of a day. Plus, it's kind of cold. And usually wet.

The problem with rectifying the problem of sitting too close to the front is that moving around on the seat disturbs a very delicate balance. You see, when I sit down to perform a #2, I do a quick shift to the right and left. This act works to spread my butt cheeks just far enough apart to prevent smearing as the delivery makes its way out. Therefore, if I were to move backwards to keep from playing wang tag with the porcelain bowl, I'd upset my carefully spread cheeks. If they close together, even briefly, it would ensure a lengthier wiping process.

Thus was the conundrum I faced just a short while ago: whether to endure wang/bowl contact or poop/cheek smearing. Decisions, decisions.

I'll leave it up to you to decide which option I chose.

Posted by Ryan at 04:08 PM | Comments (0)

Wrong Way, Idiot!

You know, provided nobody gets hurt, there's something deliciously funny about watching the horror on a motorist's face who is going the wrong direction on a one way street.

This morning, for example, on my way to work, I saw a female (who I wanted to have sex with) motorist signal, and then turn, onto the one way street on which I was driving. I saw it happening from a very long ways away, so I pulled over as far to the right as I could, just in case she overreacted and hit the gas and tried to make a run for it.

It was particularly funny watching the woman's car drive over the huge arrows that obviously, yet silently, state that traffic is supposed to go in one direction only, and the direction she was going was not that direction. It was at about that time that she realized her mistake, owing somewhat to the huge arrows pointing the other way, but primarily because of the 18 car horns blaring their discord at her mistake.

That's when the horror set in. As she drove by me, I could plainly make out, despite her animated hysterics, that she was saying "shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, fuck, fuck" over and over again, presumably speaking to her steering wheel. Because I didn't want to be left out of the fun, I gave the woman a tootle from my own horn and waved as she went by.

At that point, she left the road, by which I mean she pulled her vehicle over the curb and started driving in the grass. This, of course, amused me to no end.

The sight of a flustered motorist driving down the grassy median after unwittingly turning onto a one way street. Is there a better way to start the morning?

Well, sure, sex, but BESIDES that.

UPDATE: In unrelated news, I see that Plain Layne has disappeared. Again. This time, apparently, she's flustered about a Google search on her name, Layne. Permit me a little incredulity here, but if she didn't know about the results of such a search before this, she's not nearly as smart as her writing would indicate. Criminey, she appeared in MacLeans, for crying out loud. Or, maybe it was that comment left by Joshua just before her site went down? Hmmmmm. Don't mind me; just my ultra-suspicious mind at work here.

Posted by Ryan at 09:36 AM | Comments (0)

November 10, 2003

Signs That Bother Me

As a Generation X'er, one of my roles--as per the requirements set forth by professionals whose sole purpose in life is to label generations and ascribe personality traits to them--is that of cynical person unimpressed and unswayed by commercials and marketing ploys.

Or, as one Web page put it so eloquently, I'm "media savvy."

Well, as a media savvy Generation X'er, I believe I'm in a strong position to critique some of the more prevalent and pointless marketing attempts I see practically on a daily basis.

For example, I get irritated whenever a restaurant advertises "Fine Food." As opposed to what? Does the restaurant down the street feature "Dry Heave Inducing Garbage?" By what authority can a restaurant claim that its food is "Fine." And, really, don't you think they should have come up with a better adjective than "fine."

After all, whenever my girlfriend asks how she looks, and I say "fine," I think it's safe to say that she's almost insulted. If "fine" isn't good enough for sizing up my girlfriend's ensemble, then I'm just not that impressed when a restaurant touts "Fine Food."

And while I'm on the topic of restaurants, what the hell does it mean when an ethnic restaurant positions its food as "Authentic Chinese" or "Authentic Mexican" or "Authentic Kenyan?" I'm curious what kind of professional inspector is assigned to verify whether a type of food is "authentic." I'm imagining some guy with a monocle and a watch fob, impeccably dressed, with an outrageously exaggerated British accent.

FOOD AUTHENTICITY INSPECTOR: Oh, I say, this Hunan Beef is top of the line Chinese fare. Authentic to a T. Grade A, chaps! Grade A! Here's your certificate of authenticity. Take it with my blessings and post it proud and high. Truly, your Chinese food is a paradigm of excellence. All hail China One!

The other day, I was at a gas station. In addition to purchasing gas, I had to make my bladder gladder. On the way to the john, I noticed a sign overhead that proclaimed "Clean Bathrooms." Oh, well, that's good to know, I guess. I mean, that's better than seeing a sign warning "Shit-Smeared Walls" or "E-Coli Incubation Area."

Still, is it really necessary to tell patrons that your bathrooms are clean? Isn't that generally understood? It makes me wonder if the gas station had problems in the past with filthy commodes, so to reassure people they now advertise clean bathrooms. Whatever the case, it seems like an unnecessary bit of advertising to me.

Posted by Ryan at 10:36 AM | Comments (0)

November 07, 2003

Masturbation Strikes the Nation

Last night, as I sat with my girlfriend at Ol' Mexico playing NTN trivia, the following question came up:

According to a recent survey married men admit to doing this an average of nine times a month.

The answer, of course, was masturbate, and I got it correct for the full 1,000 points. What struck me, though, was how Melissa looked quizzically up at the screen, sizing up the answer, before finally saying, to no one in particular, "that seems like a lot." To which I responded, "pshhhhaw, that ain't nothing." Okay, I didn't actually say it out loud or anything, but I thought it really, really hard.

Discuss amongst yourselves. I'll be here when you get back. I'll just spend the time, er, um, you know, keeping busy.

Posted by Ryan at 02:16 PM | Comments (0)

November 06, 2003

Have You Ever Noticed. . . ?

Have you ever noticed that, when you tip over a bottle of Diet Pepsi, you're actually yelling "God damnit!" even before the bottle tips all the way over?

Have you ever noticed that, after yelling "God damnit!" because you tipped over you Diet Pepsi, nine times out of ten you still allow the bottle to tip the rest of the way over?

Have you ever noticed that, after a bottle of Diet Pepsi has tipped completely over, you tend to stare at it briefly, allowing Diet Pepsi to spill out over your interview notes?

Have you ever noticed how, when you realize that Diet Pepsi has spilled out over your interview notes, you tend to yell "God damnit!" all over again without first addressing the spilled soda problem?

Have you ever noticed how, when you try to carefully carry your Diet Pepsi soaked notebook over to the trash, you inevitably end up dripping Diet Pepsi on both your computer keyboard and your miniature tape recorder, to say nothing of the dress pants you're supposed to wear to an awards banquet that night?

Have you ever noticed any of these things?

Just asking.

Posted by Ryan at 01:41 PM | Comments (0)

November 05, 2003

Schizophrenic Screed for Nov. 4, 2003

A lot of you are going to jump up and yell "I told you so!" regarding this week's screed, for very obvious reasons. Yeah, I'm looking at YOU Rob! Okay, without further ado, I give you Crazy Gary's take on . . . SOLAR FLARES:

FOAMOSTYRE Macheye thermocore. As the solar storms of space & the gases of polyurethane give us life, the LX7 radar gives us the greatest of all, the truth. To put the solar storm into words, left temple digital squares, 903 phantom exceeding inside right angle digital squares right temple LX7 reading sun eclipse solar storms. Now we can reveal the truth. Left temple of the brain is a BEAK 101 planet Mercury. Now for the obesity in the test weight of matter the dry factor & to put in plainly like an ear of corn, the test weight. Now I hope you got the picture.


I didn't realize that polyurethane gave us life. Sure makes a nice wood finish though. Ah, the mind of the insane. Is there no end to its many wondrous mysteries?

Posted by Ryan at 10:31 PM | Comments (0)

Dodge, Parry, Thrust, Ripost, etc.

Joshua and I engage in a large amount of. . . how shall I put this. . . spirited discussion regarding American foreign policy, with D thrown into the mix with her perpetually bleeding heart.

I like discussion. Even when it makes my brain hurt and throw up my hands in irritation, I can usually always step away from every lengthy comment thread secure in the knowledge that I've learned something. Even during comment threads that start with Michael Moore and end with the eternal question: "if you believe in this war, why aren't you fighting in it?" We go all over the place, to be sure.

Joshua gets annoyed with me, and in that he joins countless other human beings. But, what annoys him the most, I think, is he sees me as "pathologically incapable of hearing things that might upset my worldview." I'll grant him that, if he's willing to admit the same.

I mean, Joshua once labeled me as hypocritical for adhering to the Constitutional requirement requiring an electoral college, but that I was willing to give our nation a pass because it circumvented the U.N. rule of law when it came to invading Iraq.

Fair enough.

However, the hypocrisy swings both ways here, seeing as how Joshua wants to amend the Constitution to edit out the electoral college in the name of a more pure Democracy, while still maintaining that we should still adhere to the horribly flawed institution that is the U.N.

Another time, I made the assertion that the radical Islamic strain touted by the likes of bin Laden and his ilk has everything to do with a deep-seeded hatred of the decadence of the West, and yet somehow the discussion twisted and turned in on itself until we were talking about the historical evolution of the modern state of Israel. It was a fascinating history lesson, but it did little to address the initial assertion. After all, the Iraeli/Palestinian issue was practically a footnote in bin Laden's doctrine, which put more emphasis on getting the infidels out of Saudi Arabia and cleansing the Islamic world of the impurities of Western influence.

It's not that Joshua or D are apologists for Islamic extremism. Of course not. But they tend to instead focus their ire on the history of American foreign policy, which they basically blame for all the ills of the world. It's never about making the world safe from terrorists TODAY; it's always about trying to point fingers at ourselves for allowing terrorists to exist in the first place. It's never about rebuilding a Democratic Iraq, an act that horrifies Islamic extremists to the point they're willing to stream across the border to blow up ambulances at the Red Cross; it's about blaming the U.S. for going in in the first place without the blessed backing of the almighty U.N. It's always about finding fault with us, without ever looking beyond our borders to explore where other guilty parties may, and DO, exist.

Joshua wrote today about war: I think it's socially irresponsible to pretend that state sanctioned mass murder is just another kind of foreign policy. That war, like justifiable homicide, is homicide first and justifiable second: that it is murder to which one is granted temporary immunity due to extraordinary circumstances and that a failure of diplomacy did not, to my mind, qualify as extraordinary circumstances.

Neville Chamberlain once famously spoke, after what was believed to be successful diplomacy, about achieving "peace in our time," shortly before Hitler unleashed some pretty extraordinary circumstances on the world. I would argue that 9/11 qualified as pretty extraordinary circumstances, with nary a hint of diplomacy of which to speak.

What Joshua and D fail to grasp, and this is my own opinion, is how drastically different the world truly is today. Joshua's keen analytic skills no doubt worked marvelously well in the world of absolutes prior to the war on terror. But the war on terror has no absolutes, no matter how hard we try to cling to concepts such as recognized borders, international law, and national sovereignty. So long as terrorists worm their way unimpeded from nation to nation, you may as well erase all borders from all maps, as far as the war on terror is concerned.

Joshua's definition of war: When there's an acknowledged leadership, engaged in a declared war, that can eventually sign a surrender. When there are armies that can be captured and killed, rather than a population that has to be subjugated. When there are commanders who give orders to an army that obeys them, rather than a philosophy that motivates individuals to a general course of action.

Not in the war on terror. Not by a long shot.

Am I being "pathologically incapable of hearing things that might upset my worldview?" Perhaps. But only because I firmly believe I'm right. So does Joshua. And so the dance continues.

UPDATE: Did I just read this, in the Arab News?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Well, this is different. A blog created to argue with me. Joshua, you're the coolest.

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

Album Cover Linky Goodness

Michele over at A Small Victory sent me surfing off to this site. I can't look at those album covers without busting out laughing, especially "Devastatin' Dave, The Turntable Slave." Michele's right, though, the "Julie's 16th Birthday" cover filled both my heebie AND my jeebie quota for the month. They're all very classic covers, let me assure you. And, I want to have anal sex with Joyce some day. She looks sooo ready for anal sex.

Posted by Ryan at 01:53 PM | Comments (0)

Homeward Bound

I'm no expert when it comes to buying a house. Basically, I'm at the stage where I just drive around and look at houses that are for sale and sift through the local monthly realty magazine. But still, even though I'm still in the fledgling stages of house hunting, I've made some observations I think should be noted.

First and foremost, I've noticed that houses tend to be expensive. And I'm not talking about mildly expensive, either. When I say expensive, I mean chop-off-your-leg-and-part-of-your-right-buttock expensive. I'll see a nice modest home for sale, and I'll think "oh, that's a nice modest home, so it can't be too expensive," but then I'll look at the price and wonder if there's a secret diamond mine somewhere in the basement.

I should note that, when I say "modest," I really mean modest. For the past ten years, I've basically rented apartments and spent the vast majority of my time sitting in my one room, which served as my bedroom, and office, and dining room, and living room, and, occasionally, my kitchen.

So, when I say "modest," I pretty much mean it would be neat if I had a living establishment that consisted of more than just a bedroom and a bathroom. When I read house descriptions that tout a four season porch, I think to myself, "wow, that's almost like a bedroom."

Therefore, I'm fascinated when I see some of the extremely expensive homes. You know, the ones that cost a couple million dollars and come complete with a ridiculously small dog wearing a diamond-studded collar. I simply can't fathom living in such an opulent mansion. Sure, it would be fun for awhile, but eventually I'd be left thinking "damn it! This house is just too damned big. What the hell did I need a second kitchen for?"

Maybe I like to tell myself that because I'm bitter about the knowledge that I'll probably never be able to think about even pondering the possibility of exploring the potential of considering maybe examinining the feasibility of securing a loan for a multi-million dollar home.

So no, I'm not a mansion-buying kind of guy. I'm more of a dilapidated-shack-buying kind of guy. But, you know what? Even dilapidated shacks cost way more than they should.

I realize that home ownership isn't a simple deal, and I realize that people selling the houses and dilapidated shacks want to make some money on the whole deal. That's perfectly understandable. But, people selling homes have to understand something: namely, I don't have as much money as they're asking.

I know, I know. That's what banks and loans and guys who break fingers every other week are for. If you don't have enough money for something, you should go and borrow it from a trustworthy institution. Or, lacking a trustworthy institution, you could, I suppose, buy a snowmask and a gun and hope for a few lucky breaks at local convenience stores.

But, because I'm not a violent crime sort of guy, I'm resigned to the fact that, when I actually do find a house that is both pleasant and doesn't cost 30 times my annual salary, I'm going to have to grovel, hat in hand, with a money-lending institution, most probably my credit union.

I'm not looking forward to that. I don't like borrowing money. Mostly, though, I don't like the thought of being insanely in debt. No one really enjoys being in debt, but I truthfully despise the concept. The thought that you own something, but not really because you're in debt is entirely bothersome to me. When I finally paid off the remaining $4,500 on my car this summer, I wanted to run to my credit union and do a taunting dance while waving my payment coupon book in front of me like a fan. Nyah, nyah, nyah, nah, nah, nyahhhhh!

So, if you know of home for sale in the Rochester area that consists of a bathroom and a bedroom, and maybe a kitchen (I'm not too picky), that costs under $10,000, please let me know immediately. I can afford that.

Posted by Ryan at 10:13 AM | Comments (0)

November 04, 2003


Why is Blogspot sporting ads about Bad Breath and Halitosis on my blog? Are they trying to tell me something?

Posted by Ryan at 04:04 PM | Comments (0)

World War II Seen As Another Vietnam

Roosevelt Believed America Was Entering Quagmire, New Reports Show

New York (Rhodes Media Services) -- New documents unclassified and released today show that senior U.S. officials, including then President Franklin Roosevelt, worried that the war effort in Europe would result in another Vietnam, even though that war had not yet begun.

The documents show that a slow start in desert warfare had military experts wondering if America had entered a quagmire and that Nazi-sympathizing beduin insurgents constituted a guerilla threat not unlike what they should expect in a couple of decades in Vietnam.

"Despite our best intentions to rid the world of the Nazi threat to civilization, I fear that bands of individuals, armed by the Nazis, could mean a drawn out conflict with many American casualties, just like we can expect when we go into Vietnam in the 60s," said General Eisenhower in a 1942 memo to President Roosevelt.

Roosevelt echoed those sentiments, saying that he feared unrest at home may make it hard to garner support for the ongoing war effort, and added that he couldn't afford a quagmire after convincing a dubious American public that war against Germany should come before an all-out war on Japan, the country that attacked America in the first place.

Posted by Ryan at 01:49 PM | Comments (0)

Conspiracy, Or Just Denial?

This, obviously, is a must read.

UPDATE: I love this, too. It's a letter to the editor to the Star-Tribune that states:

Contrary to what other letter writers have written, Americans should be told that more Americans have died in Iraq so far this year, than died in the first two years of the Vietnam War.

James Glaser, Northome, Minn.

Um, gee, James, that's real nice reasoning, you have going there. I think Michael Moore did the same thing awhile back, but he's a cake-stuffed blowhole living off the big dollars he hates rich Americans for having. You, on the other hand, are just a North woods inhabitant in the same town where my grandmother lives. Let me spell it out for you.

Assuming you place the start of America's role in Vietnam at, oh, let's say 1963, a quick Google search finds that just over 320 soldiers died in that time. What is the current "body count" in Iraq? 309? Oh, forget it. Let's move on to the REAL point.

In 1963 and 1964, we had somewhere along the lines of 16,000 troops in Vietnam, and they weren't tasked with a full scale invasion, you know, an ALL OUT military campaign. Rather, most were there in an advising capacity, training native armies. Compare that with Iraq, where we have over 150,000 troops stationed. In case James is mathematically challenged, which I'll assume he is, that's over nine times the troop strength of Vietnam during the first two years.

But, you know, fuck it. There just no explaining shit like that to some people.

ANOTHER UPDATE: That's it. I had to put Healing Iraq as a permanent link on my list of blogs. He says it all from both sides of the fence. Read him daily.

Posted by Ryan at 11:14 AM | Comments (0)

November 03, 2003

Breaking Up

It had been a year. Or almost a year. Long distances had corroded the magnificent foundation they had built up when they met the previous summer. That was a perfect summer, or as near-perfect as one could expect considering it ended with him getting mono.

A new summer was about to start. A new beginning. A chance to reestablish the foundation they built so strong together the summer before, the summer that consisted of a stunningly simple meeting of hearts and minds. They had met in late June at the post-wedding reception party for a couple he knew very well and she knew not at all. She was a crasher. It didn't matter. At that point in the evening, even people who knew each other extremely well, could barely recognize one another.

He was standing in a puddle when he first met her, trying to wash off the dog poop he absolutely knew he had just stepped in.

"Are you aware you're standing in a puddle?" she asked.

"Hmm? Oh, it's not that I'm standing in a puddle so much as I'm scared of solid ground," he explained as slyly as he could. "Have you ever stopped to think that maybe I'm just being different? Maybe I just refuse to conform with the land walking majority and want to reconnect with my latent mudskipping genetic roots."

"Like all men probably should," she said, smiling as she walked away.

They continued to bump into each other as the evening progressed, with each keenly aware that there was a sexual chemistry between them that almost saturated the air. And, as the sun gradually started pushing its way over the horizon, it illuminated her truck, windows steamed with passion as they pawed and raked each other's bodies, going plenty far, but not all the way.

The rest of that summer had been a blur of activity, and passion, a powerful driving union of two souls who only felt totally at ease when together. The summer flew by, with neither realizing that it would be the happiest they'd be together.

Then she left for college two states away, while he battled the remnants of mono that had taken him down for three weeks and then he, too, went back to school. Gradually, as the year progressed, and even though they tried to keep everything alive only through the cold wires of the telephone, he could feel the curtain closing. And so could she. They could both feel the distance cutting them off from the intoxicating allure of closer proximity.

What pushed them on, they couldn't say. Perhaps the promise of another summer. A longer summer. A summer they could spend entirely together. A summer she had planned out down to the weekend.

But, he had grown dark inside. Not for her. He still adored her. But he had just graduated college. His base of familiarity was gone, and he was facing an uncertain future, a future that he knew was going to involve a lot of frantic job searching, and frustration, and anger, and resentment. And he didn't want her to follow that path with him. Plus, he was naive, young and scared.

He held her that night, tighter and closer than he had ever held her before, and when she left, they kissed. The kiss. There was something in that kiss. She felt the distance he was building. She felt the compartment he had built inside, a compartment where he was putting all the memories and emotions he had of and for her. A compartment he stamped "Do Not Open."

"You'll call me tomorrow?" she asked, a hint of pleading in her voice, and he assured her he would.

But, he never did.

Posted by Ryan at 03:30 PM | Comments (0)

The Man in The Mirror

Since I was 21 and I decided to get a jump-start on Fate and shave my head before the dominant gene passed down from my grandfather on my mother's side could wreak its follicular havoc on my cranium, two features have dominated my identity.

1.) Ryan Rhodes has a shaved head.

2.) Ryan Rhodes always has a goatee, albeit in fluctuating permutations.

I've grown to depend on my goatee as a counterweight to the lack of hair up top. Rather than a healthy head of hair, I've always had a goatee with with to tease and experiment. My goatee keeps me from looking more egg-like than human-like.

Last week, for some reason that escapes me, I decided to hack off my goatee and see how things were going on the skin beneath my omnipresent whiskers. I was not prepared for the individual who greeted me when I raised my mug to the mirror.

I looked YOUNGER. I looked SMOOTHER. I looked decidedly less MENACING.

And, I didn't like it one little bit.

What was funny was that, at work, everybody realized something was different, but they couldn't figure out what it was. They studied me with the intensity of Sesame Street tots trying to figure out which one of the things just doesn't belong there. Finally, the bells started going off and they realized what was different.

They didn't care for it much, either.

I'm growing my goatee back this week. Enough of that shit.

Posted by Ryan at 01:19 PM | Comments (0)

Monday, Monday

My was greeted as I stepped out the door this morning by a wet blanket of snow, the first snowfall of the year that actually deigned to accumulate and set a tentative foothold around the area. Although I hold out hope that this snow will melt away due to more unseasonably high temps, I have my doubts. My personal Rhodes' Almanac says that this year will be a brutal winter, with gigantic dumps of snow followed by biting January/February temperatures, followed by a stubborn, lingering refusal to surender to spring.

Or maybe I'm overly pessimistic after having driven on slick streets that remind me why it is I hate this season so.

Got into work, settled into my chair, and no sooner had I started sifting through e-mail than my officemate let loose with a quick, staccato hacking cough, followed by two overly animated sneezes (she actually SAYS "Ah-Choo," for crying out loud), followed, of course, by her trademark triple-nose blowing delight. I'm getting closer and closer to asking her to step outside when she has to blow her freakin' nose, because in addition to the annoyance, it's starting to gross me out. SHE'S starting to gross me out.

Halloween was a fun exercise. Every year, it seems, I'm sucked into the lure of donning elaborate make-up and prosthetic facial pieces. I'm getting really good at it, but the sad state of facial adhesives on the market today dictates that any rubber prosthetics I glue to my face will almost certainly start to pry themselves loose about two hours after application. I looked particularly gruesome this year, a testimony to my improving make-up and application skills. But, still, my chin prosthetic started giving me troubles at the casino (where, coincidentally, I lost $40 in 40 minutes). By the end of the night, my face was SCREAMING at me to remove my make-up as soon as possible. I removed the rubber pieces and commenced with a vigorous five minute face itching.

Saturday was spent being gloriously lazy. Melissa tacked away on my computer trying to make a dent in her ever-growing mountain of homework, while I spent most of the day in bed watching cheesy movies (think Highlander: Endgame) and occasionally telling Melissa how to correctly spell a word or two. She's extremely far behind in her school-work, so next weekend looks like a "homework-only" weekend, which means I'll probably be on my own to find fun and happy things to do. I'm sure I'll manage just fine.

Yesterday, my buddy Marc and I went driving around town looking at potential homes for me to buy. More and more, I'm ready, I think, to buy my own house and embark on the adventure of home-ownership. Granted, I won't be able to afford the Taj Mahal or anything, but I think a nice, simple home would be a nice adventure on which to embark. There were a couple of nice prospects we scoped out yesterday, so I guess I'll just have to see what happens next.

My officemate just blew her nose again. That must mean it's time for work.

Posted by Ryan at 09:40 AM | Comments (0)
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