February 26, 2004

Credit Card Wisdom

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 08:58 PM | Comments (1)

Pillow Drool

I woke up this morning with the left side of my face practically swimming in drool. It's not my fault, it's really not. I'm not a chronic sleep drooler. Normally, my drool mechanism is kept under tight control. However, this week, due to circumstances beyond my control, I'm drooling truly horrifying amounts of, well. . . drool.

Here's why.

Last Saturday night, Melissa and I went to a local Chilis Restaurant, because I deferred restaurant judgement to her. If it had been up to me, I would have been slurping down Applebees riblets, but Melissa had a hankering for Chilis food, so I acquiesced.

Anyway, one of Mel's most favorite things in the world is chips and salsa. If it were nutritionally possible for her to live entirely on chips and salsa, chances are quite good she'd adopt such a diet plan. Chips and salsa are to Melissa as bamboo shoots are to panda bears. So, no sooner had we sat down then Mel was ordering chips and salsa.

If there's one thing about Chilis, it's that they actually do have good chips and salsa. Now, I realize it's no big culinary triumph to produce good chips and salsa (heretofore referred to as C&A), but I've been to plenty of eating establishments that serve the most God-awful salsa imaginable--think extra-chunky ketchup and you get the idea.

But, Chilis has good C&A, so I dove right into the basket of chips when it arrived, and I promptly grabbed the most dense and solidified chip ever produced. This chip had the consistency of granite. I unwittingly placed the chip in my mouth and bit down hard. The unchip-like chip didn't so much as bruise beneath my teeth, but it did stab my inner left lip with a sharpened chip point that was sharper than the sterile lancets hospitals use to draw blood from a finger. It cut long and deep into my inner lip before I managed to spit the diamond-tipped chip back onto my plate.

If you're at all familiar with cuts in the inner mouth, you know that they tend to develop into a condition known as canker sores. Well, boys and girls, I now have the great poombah of canker sores adorning my inner left lip. This thing is gargantuan. It's so big, in fact, that it actually pushes my lip noticeably outward.

And, I might add, since it pushes my lip outward, it compromises the seal that kept me from drooling all over the place. So, for the past few days, I've awakened in a small puddle of my own saliva, due to the current fault in my mouth levee system. I hope this thing heals soon. I'm sick of washing my pillowcases every morning.

Posted by Ryan at 10:02 AM | Comments (0)

February 25, 2004

Oh, Yeah, That's Why I Hurt

Heh. These are kind of cool. Below are links to pictures from the week during which I tested for my black belt way back in June 2003. In case you don't know what I look like, and most of you probably don't, I'm the guy with the shaved head and goatee. Oh, I'm also one of the few red belts in these pics. Picture quality varies. A lot.

Korean Masters Seminar #1

Korean Masters Seminar #2

Korean Masters Seminar #3

Posted by Ryan at 04:33 PM | Comments (0)

I'm Not Old, But I'm Aging

On Monday, March 1, I'll turn 29-years-old. I won't be 30, quite, but I won't be 20 either, not by a long shot. Aging has never been a big deal for me. I mean, it's inevitable, so why bitch about it?

Well, that was before I started feeling the effects of aging.

Basically, from the age of 15 to 27, very little hurt me. I could pretty much push my body to tough physical limits and bounce out of bed the next morning no worse for the wear. This included wrestling, and Tae-Kwon-Do, and hapkido, and long weekend evenings downing pitchers of beer. I could take all the abuse in stride. I was INVINCIBLE!

Now shit is really starting to hurt.

I initially noticed the encroachment of bodily moanings some years back when I started experiencing little twinges of lower back pain. It was pretty much a localized pain, and I felt it primarily in the morning, so it was no big deal. By the afternoon, I was always back to my happy resilient self, complete with the ability to put my foot over my head and run for miles and miles and miles.

Then, in mid-2001, I started my own personal training to try my hand at running a marathon which, in case you didn't already know, consists of running 26.2 miles which, again if you didn't already know, is a shit-long distance to run. Seriously, you're better off taking a bike, or a car, or an ultra-light. Screw it: you're better off just sitting on a deck, grilling a steak and drinking a beer.

Anyway, at some point during my training, right around where I was running 9 to 10 miles with ease, I realized I was waking up in the morning and my body was considerably irritated with me. I ached all over. My joints wouldn't stop creaking and snapping until I stood in a warm shower for about four hours. Now, although I wasn't openly weeping with pain, I think I invented roughly 8,700 new expletives to bemoan my battered condition.

At some point, and I think it was in late November of 2001, I realized that I hadn't even started running HALF of a marathon yet, and my body was basically falling apart, and I came to the earth-shattering conclusion that there was a lot of other things I'd rather be doing than running for an hour and a half every other day. So, I was forced, quite happily, to give up my quest to complete a marathon. Instead, I had to content myself with five mile runs, a regimen I've adhered to ever since.

Things have been pretty much fine now for the past couple of years, with only nominal bodily creaks and groans between my running regimen and my weekly hapkido classes. Recently, however, within the past couple of months, I've noticed a distinct decrease in overall flexibility in hapkido. I have to stretch before class considerably more than I ever had to in the past, and that stretching now. Really. Really. Hurts!

Like I said, such gradual deterioration is only to be expected as I get older. But, still, it's kind of depressing. I've always taken pride in my above-average flexibility (in wrestling, my nickname was Frog) and my overall body resiliency. Now I'm starting to feel, I don't know, not fragile so much, but definitely less than invincible. Granted, I'm not old or anything, not by a long shot, but I don't particularly like being reminded that I inevitably will be, and that it will probably hurt a lot more than it does now.

Plus, I've noticed a lot of little grey hairs in my goatee, and that really sucks.

Posted by Ryan at 10:52 AM | Comments (0)

February 24, 2004

Information Overload

You know, sitting at work, with the Internet flashing at me throughout the day, I find myself sometimes feeling very much as if I'm absorbing just too much information, as if I'm plugged directly into an AP wire feed.

It's not necessarily a bad thing, but it does leave me, by 5 p.m., feeling as if I'm a Star Trek Data version of Dan Rather, extremely wired with every type of information. Between my work-related surfing, looking for technology-related material, and my usual news-related surfing, I find myself feeling borderline mentally exhausted at the end of the day.

I'm pooped.

Posted by Ryan at 09:02 PM | Comments (0)

Cramping My Style

It's really amazing how much less you blog once you realize your blog has been discovered by your managing editor. *shaking fist*

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

February 20, 2004

Repubs, Dems, And The War On Terror

An excerpt from an interesting e-mail, sent to Iran, from the campaign of one John Kerry:

We are convinced that John Kerry is the candidate best qualified to meet this challenge. Senator Kerry has the diplomatic skill and temperament as well as a lifetime of accomplishments in field of international affairs. He believes that collaboration with other countries is crucial to efforts to win the war on terror and make America safer.

And yet, today, in Iran, we see that:

Polling is under way in Iran for disputed parliamentary elections predicted to give more control of the Islamic nation to conservative religious hardliners.

Friday's election, overshadowed by a ban on most reform candidates and a crackdown on pro-reform media, is poised to bring about one of the biggest upsets in Iranian politics since reformists promising radical change were swept into office seven years ago.

So, to recap, John Kerry wishes to collaborate with the ultra-conservative Iranian ruling class when it comes to the war on terror rather than continue to put pressure on Middle Eastern nations to gravitate toward reform.

I know, I know, it was just an e-mail from the Kerry campaign that probably went out worldwide and just happened to land in the inbox of every despotic regime as well. So, how can I possibly think it has any relevance to anything? Well. . .

If you were a Middle Eastern country that happens to harbor and support terrorism, would you be more spooked by a "cowboy" in the White House who has shown he's dead-assed serious when he says if you harbor terrorists, you're the enemy, or of a Democratic candidate offering an e-mail olive branch extolling collaboration with even the most oppressive regimes? Even when those oppressive regimes may not speak for their civilian populations.

If Kerry or Edwards can come forth and state, without hesitation, that they will continue the current administration's foreign policy initiative, they would practically ensure my vote. But, no, they talk about pursuing terrorists more like a drug raid than a war, and we all know how punishing drug raids have been in the wider world of drug trafficking.

Countries such as Iran, and Syria, and North Korea must be quaking in their boots at the thought of another four years of Bush and Co. But, when they log onto AOL and see a friendly letter from Kerry, they must be ecstatic at the possibility of having that man in control of the White House. With Kerry in power, they could rest a little easier, and be a little bolder about their under the table payments to al Queda and the like, and they can tighten their ultra-conservative religious control over their oppressed populations at their leisure because, hey, it's back to business as usual.

I don't trust Democrats when it comes to foreign policy, and right now foreign policy and the war on terror are the only issues that really, REALLY matter to me right now. Healthcare reform? Fine. Whatever. Environmental issues? Eh. Ensuring that airplanes aren't going to go slashing into buildings and that hostile nations are feeling enough heat to allow concessions?

Now we're talking.

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

February 19, 2004

Sexual Interest

Caroline says: Do you have change for a $5 by any chance?

Ryan says: Nope, but I do have a $1.

Caroline says: May I borrow said $1?

Ryan says: Said $1 is available for borrow, at 50 percent interest each minute.

Caroline says: yikes

Caroline says: how about we skip the interest and I provide sexual favors?

Ryan says: The Bank of Rhodes is kind of a bitch.

Caroline says: yeah, no kidding.

Ryan says: Let's see. . . $1, at 50 percent interest each minute. . . translating to sexual barter exhange. . . carry the one. . . round up to the nearest BJ. At the end of the day, you'd owe me two intercourses, three BJs and a hand job.

Caroline says: I'm a cheap lay then.

Ryan says: You have no idea.

Posted by Ryan at 01:23 PM | Comments (0)

February 18, 2004

Electrifying Learning Experiences

If you spent any time at all growing up in the rural Midwest, chances are pretty good you developed a valuable instinctive fear of electrified fences. In fact, after accidently brushing up against an electrified fence even once, your mind probably rewired itself completely to ensure it would never, EVER happen again.

I was a slow learner. I didn't become totally paranoid of electrified fences until after the third or forth time I felt the juice sizzle through my limbs. Eventually, however, it started to sink in that a smooth, shiny fence wire running through the occasional insulator more than likely had electricity running through it and I should not grab that wire if I knew what was good for me.

I remember standing in absolute awe when the father of one of my friends checked to see if the electrified fence was on by grabbing it without so much as a second thought. Yes, it was on, but you'd have never guessed that by his mild reaction, like he had just been bitten by a mosquito, and a small one at that. It was amazing. He immediately made my list of the toughest guys I knew, a list that included Sylvester Stallone and that guy who lived up the street who held onto firecrackers while they exploded.

My introduction to the world of electrified fences came about while I was staying over night with my friend, John. I suppose I was eight years old at the time. Well, John was a farm kid with a warped sense of humor, and he also knew that I had an incredible fear of bulls. In order to get to John's tree house to play, we had to go through a pen inhabited by cows. John seized the moment once I was alone in the pen and yelled that a bull was charging at me. Of course, there was no bull, except for that coming out of John's mouth, but the simple mention of the word "bull" had me running as fast as my little legs could carry me.

I ran headlong into my first electrified fence. I ran into that electrified fence so hard, I snapped it in half. I also endured an electrical shock so big, I'm willing to bet my hometown's power grid briefly went offline. I never actually saw the fence, but I sure felt what it did, and what it did was jolt me so hard, I think I tinkled just a little bit in my underwear. Unfortunately, because I didn't see what the fence looked like, I had no mental reference to ensure I wouldn't touch another one.

My next sojourn into the world of electrified fences came via courtesy of my older brother. As an older brother by four years, Reg adhered to the unwritten decree that all older brothers should torment their younger siblings both physically and mentally. I, on the other hand, adhered to the decree that all younger brothers should adore and try to emulate their older siblings and follow them around relentlessly, hoping for a scrap of older brotherly wisdom. It was a recipe for disaster on practically a daily basis.

Well, one day, when I was about nine, Reg took me out for a walk in the countryside, by which I mean I begged and pleaded until my mother ordered him to spend some time with me. Shortly into our hike, we encountered a fence, and Reg instructed me to hold the fence up for him while he crawled underneath. Ever the dutiful youth, I did as instructed, and I was rewarded for my efforts with the most surprising and sustained flow of electricity to course through my body since I broke that one fence about a year before. My brother, meanwhile, fell on the ground laughing and was unable to compose himself for about 20 minutes, which was about the same amount of time it took me to stop crying.

I steered clear of electrified fences for a few years after that, until one day when I was visiting a friend of mine, Andy, or at least I thought he was a friend of mine. We were walking along an electrified fence, when eventually Andy got a strange gleam in his eye. Suddenly, Andy reached out and grabbed my arm, and then he grabbed the fence, and that's when I learned that one human body can conduct an electrical charge to another human body simply through contact. I felt a considerable jolt, while Andy, it seemed, felt nothing at all. Although I didn't cry that time, I still don't entirely trust Andy all that much.

And the moral of this story? I'm not sure there is one, except that maybe I should get out there and find some better friends, and maybe a better brother, if that's possible.

UPDATE: Oh yeah, I almost forgot, I see via SiteMeter that a lot of blogs not listed to the right apparently are linking to my blog. I like to reciprocate on blog links when I can, but in my old age I just can't keep on top of every link. Therefore, if you're out there linking to my blog, but I have not yet included you, please leave a comment here or drop and e-mail my way (keeping in mind, of course, to include your URL), and I'll get you up and over there.

Posted by Ryan at 02:19 PM | Comments (0)

February 17, 2004

Hey, Joshua, How About This Instead

Maybe he's just in a state of Deanial?

Thank you. I'll be here all week.

Posted by Ryan at 08:20 PM | Comments (0)

February 16, 2004

Taxes Are So Taxing

So, um, yeah, I owe $4,500 in taxes this year. I think I need a drink or something. Maybe a gun. I should really stop doing freelance writing projects so this shit doesn't come back to haunt me come tax time. Now, if you'll excuse me, I must go off and cry just a little.

Posted by Ryan at 06:58 PM | Comments (0)

Who Is This Guy? Dean Quixote?

What the heck is up with Howard Dean? First, the once-former Democratic frontrunner basically says he'll hang up his presidential bid if he loses in Wisconsin, and now he's apparently steamed at his now-former national chairman, Steve Grossman, for saying pretty much just that in light of nasty looking polling numbers in the dairy state.

Said Dean, "I have not talked to him (Grossman) since this came out in the newspaper. I'll speak for the campaign."

Well, fine man, but stop being so dillusional about your campaign. Thus far, his metrosexual ass has been handed to him more times than he has fingers to count. I mean, I'm all for a can-do, never-say-die attitude, but Dean's obstinance is just looking more and more creepy and narcissistic every time I visit his Web site or see him on TV, basically saying that the voters thus far just haven't been smart enough to vote for him.

There's reality, and then there's being detached from reality. Dean repeatedly looks like he's choosing door #2. I guess it's not too surprising. Dean always struck me as a candidate that thought a whole bunch of himself, a trait present in most candidates, yes, but to a bigger degree in Dean. I can relate, seeing as how I like myself a whole bunch (see previous post). But still. Even I can see a lost cause when it's happening to me.

I guess it's just creepy to me, watching Dean suck up all those Web-based donations from college-age Deaniacs and then throw the money at windmill after windmill. It's Dean Quixote, and his Internet groupies are his Sancho Panza.

It's sad, but in a funny yet head-scratching sort of way.

Posted by Ryan at 01:39 PM | Comments (0)

February 13, 2004

A Poem, For My Valentine

Hello, Valentine, it's me, the one you so adore
I know you love me, that I see, and that you love me more and more.

We've been together now, you and I, for what seems like my whole life,
And during that time, I cannot lie, there has never been much strife.

I love you so, my Valentine, more than mere words can ever say
Love like this is almost a crime, and I should be put away.

We've shared a lot, during our many years, and we have laughed, and we have cried.
And, my love, you who I hold so dear, if you had perished, I, too, surely would have died.

We are one, the two of us, and our lives are forever intertwined,
Without you, I'd turn to dust, because another you, I'd never find.

So I say to you, my Valentine, that I love you, and always will.
I am yours' and you are mine, and for you my love does spill.

Because, truth be told, I should confess, for all the world to see,
My Valentine, if you've not yet guessed, is and always will be. . . me.

Posted by Ryan at 11:02 AM | Comments (0)

February 12, 2004

I Have My Own Horn, And Now I'd Like To Toot It

Far be it for to brag about something I've done, but I couldn't let this little gem I conjured just go softly into that good night. I took part in a let-off-some-steam-at-George-Lucas-and-his-shitty-Star-Wars-Remakes poetry contest yesterday. I only offered up a couple of poems, but I was really proud of my second one, which I'm reposting here, because I can.

Breathes there the man with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native Han!
Whose heart hath ne'er within him burn'd,
As he watched the footage Lucas hath turn'd
>From a masterpiece to something bland!
If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
For him there's but Jar Jar in Star Wars hell;
High though he his, he points no Lucas blame,
Boundless his denial as wish can claim;
Despite those bong hits, and action figures on shelf,
The wretch, content to be a mental elf,
Living, shall forfeit Han's renown,
And, content with Greedo shooting first, shall go down
To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonored, and unsung.

(With apologies to Sir Walter Scott)

Wow, I'm great!

Posted by Ryan at 03:58 PM | Comments (0)

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, Even If You're Plastic

First, we had the heart-breaking end of Bennifer, and I'm sure all of you haven't recovered significantly from the severe depression that accompanied that. But, sadly, I have to also report the end of Kenarbie, as well. Tis a sad, sad, sad, sad day.

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

Worrying About Mars

Unless you've been living in a spider hole for the past month or so, you should be aware that NASA has successfully landed two rovers on the surface of the planet Mars. So, Saddam Hussein, if you're reading this, and I know you are, you are excused for not knowing about the Mars rovers.

The Mars rovers are amazing machines, capable of toddling about on the Martian surface with an impressive array of scientific equipment intended to perform important and valuable scientific things. For example, the two rovers, which cost a combined total of $820 million (which, according to statistical reports, is a heck of a lot of money), have confirmed that the surface of Mars contains such substances as hematite and olivine.

You and I, and maybe even you, too, Saddam, would likely refer to hematite and olivine more colloquially as "rocks." Sure, they're rocks with important sounding names but, let's face it, they're still rocks. So, to recap: two rovers, at $820 million, sent millions of miles through space, combined their efforts to find. . . rocks.

I kid, of course. I think the Mars rovers are amazing technological achievements, and I think space exploration has been, is, and always will be, a worthwhile human pursuit that will no doubt continue to find more and more impressively-named rocks throughout the galaxy. And I think it's exciting that we're on the verge of sending actual human beings, otherwise known as "people," through the vastness of space to land on distant planets to verify, without a shadow of a doubt, that what the rovers deem to be rocks are, indeed, rocks.

Still, I worry about sending people to Mars, and not because of the inherent dangers and unknowns of prolonged space travel and the very real possibility of dying en-route. I mean, I'd personally consider it an honor to be sent to Mars and be the first human being, or "person," to verify the presence of rocks. That would be pretty cool.

But, no, my worries stem more from a language point of view. After all, once we start plopping people on Mars with any regularity, our language will no doubt be vastly changed.

For example, nowadays, we commonly hear the phrase "men are from Mars, women are from Venus." Heck, there's even a book with that title, I think, although I wouldn't be caught dead reading the thing. Still, what happens when we have both men AND women living on Mars. You can't quite say that men are exclusively from Mars any more now can you? No, you'd have to be all politically correct about it.

You'd start out saying "men are from Mars, women are from Venus," but then you'd have to stop and correct yourself by saying something like "well, I guess there are SOME women on Mars, too, but you get my meaning, don't you?" See? That's just messed up. Here we have a nice little linguistic method for outlining the differences between men and women, and suddenly we're all poised to discard that all in the name of the scientific pursuit of rocks.

Or, consider the whole concept of "Martians." Sure, we've pretty much established that there are no Martians on Mars, but it's still fun to think about Martians. Now, however, we really have to pause and consider the ramifications of having habitable colonies on Mars and how that will affect our use of the word "Martians." Think about it: let's say a human being is born on Mars. Well, that baby certainly isn't an earthling, at least not by the strict definitions set forth by my own mind. No, that baby would be a Martian. It would still be a human, but it would be a Martian human. That's really just too confusing.

Which brings up another thing. In today's language, if you want to point out to someone that they're totally out of touch about something, it's kind of hip to taunt them by saying, "Dude, where have you been? Mars?" But, see, in a post-Mars colonization era, you couldn't say that to someone, because there'd be the possibility that they have, indeed, been on Mars. And, holy smokes, how awkward would THAT be? It would just totally backfire on you, and then you'd be left standing there feeling all stupid.

So, although I think pursuing a manned mission to Mars is a worthwhile pursuit, I think we had best put a lot of thought into who we want to send there first. It has to be someone expendable, because there's a really good chance they'll die. And, it should really be a male, so we can maintain the "men are from Mars, women are from Venus" meme for quite some time yet. It should also be a person who we're comfortable referring to as a Martian. And, utimately, we should send someone who we're just fine with living out his final days carefully scrutinizing rocks.

Yeah, I'm looking at you, Saddam.

Posted by Ryan at 12:25 PM | Comments (0)

February 11, 2004

Five Blogs I Read Daily

>From Johnny, by way of Tom, by way of Courtney comes a nice new idea. Name five blogs you read and think everyone else should too and then also five songs everyone else should hear. (That sentence was basically plagiarism from Johnny's site, but oh well, I'm lazy.)


A Small Victory -- Michele is one of the most well-known bloggers out there. And she occasionally runs goofy poetry and limerick contests, which keep me coming back. She's thoughtful, passionate, funny and smart, and she's basically discovered the formula for turning a blog and the Internet into a lucrative venture, which I admire. Plus, her content regularly rocks.

Intellectual Poison -- Johnny and I have something special, but which I mean we have amazing ass sex. Okay, not really. Truthfully, Johnny is a great guy and a fun read, and he finds daily news items that I otherwise probably would miss. Oh, and he's helped me out on a couple of articles, which makes me beholden to him in a knight/squire sort of way. By the way, Johnny, you're off the hook on that one article we talked about awhile back. It won't be timely enough by the time I get to it.

Strip Mining For Whimsy -- My daily source for frustration and pissiness. I could be in the best mood in the world, and one visit to Joshua will ensure a return to my dour, pissy self. Okay, it's not all that bad. I'm not sure, exactly, how Joshua and I came to know one another, although I'm relatively certain it was through some sniping political debate in some comment section somewhere. We disagree on pretty much everything you can imagine, but our paperback novel-length comment wars have been among the most useful mental exercises I've experienced since college roundtable discussions. Visit Joshua only if you can endure hard-assed diatribes mixed with statistics mixed with pounding liberal logic that grates against my modest right-of-center idealogies. And yet, I really like the guy. Joshua, you fucker. *hug*

Instapundit -- This is where I go to wash the taste of Joshua out of my mouth. Gah, that doesn't sound so good, does it? Glenn Reynolds is probably the most widely-read blogger on the Net, which makes him far more influential than a lot of media outlets in the world. He's not just my daily read: I hit refresh on his page basically every hour.

The Daily Bleat -- Again, James Lileks is a giant in the blog realm. Plus, he's a fellow Minnesotan, with a column in the Star-Tribune and everything, so I'm required to like him. It's a Minnesota-nice rule, you betcha. Lileks can go into realms I don't particularly care for, such as architectural ruminations, and ponderings about old movies nobody has ever heard of or wants to, but when he talks about his daughter, or when he goes on a screed, or when he takes a political tack, he's one of the best reads on the Net.


Five For Fighting: 100 Years. God, it's a sappy little song, but I like it.

Pretty much anything by Green Day.

Pretty much anything by Nora Jones. Note to self: buy her damned CD.

The Milkshake Song: Kelis. Yeah, just kidding here. This song blows the sacs of a thousand goats, but I heard the damned tune on my way into work today and it's bouncing through my skull relentlessly. Yeah, great, make a song about your blow job skills, and then market it to a bunch of early- and pre-teen girls who wouldn't know how to give a blow job if Jenna Jameson showed them personally. Now, every girl with braces and zits is convinced the best way to bring boys to their yard is to do something called a "milkshake," even though they have no clue what the hell a milkshake actually is. Argh!

Pretty much anything by Fleetwood Mac.

Posted by Ryan at 11:58 AM | Comments (0)

Forgive Us, Father, For We Have Sinned. . . But In A Funny Way

Ryan says: Christ I'm sore!

Caroline says: No, I'm Caroline.

Caroline says: Christ is my homeboy.

Ryan says: He's a good homeboy to have.

Caroline says: He keeps it real.

Ryan says: And loyal. That guy would take a nail for you.

Ryan says: I'm so going to hell. In a handbasket even.

Caroline says: Don't cross him.

Ryan says: Jeez, so are you.

Caroline says: I thought we were in hell already.

Ryan says: Nah, just IBM.

Caroline says: Oh, wait, it's just Minnesota.

Posted by Ryan at 11:08 AM | Comments (0)

February 10, 2004

The Horrors Of Accumulated Butt Sweat

For the last couple of weeks, I've been getting whiffs and sniffs of something rather unpleasant. I mean, the odor hasn't been destructive or anything. It's subtle, but definitely not pleasing. I realized just now where the odor has been coming from.

It's been coming from my work chair.

I wasn't sure at first. Well, I had a hunch because, although the smell wasn't extremely powerful, I recognize the odor of butt sweat when I smell it. It has a unique odor signature, kind of like a fingerprint.

So, I started doing some quick Sherlock Holmes type thinking. Firstly, I've been sitting on the same cushioned chair now for three years. That's a lot of eight hour days planted almost exclusively on a sweat-absorbing cushion. Let me be clear here. I'm not a chronic butt sweater.

It's not like I have a tropical rainforest syndrome cooking away in my butt crack or anything. However, a little toast of warm cheeks on the same surface for eight hours a day for the last three years has apparently taken an odiferous toll. Of course, I wanted to make absolute sure before I gave up my comfy chair. So, I took the obvious course of action: I got down and smelled my chair seat.

Oh. My.

It wasn't an appalling odor, which is to say the chair shouldn't be burned with high heat or anything like that. But, it most assuredly did not smell as pleasant as I would like. I want my chairs to be as butt sweat odor free as possible.

So, I switched chairs. I am now officially on day one with my new chair. I anticipate needing a new chair sometime in 2007.

Posted by Ryan at 03:16 PM | Comments (0)

February 09, 2004

Advertising That Scares

I'll tell you something. Of all the commericals polluting the airwaves today, when it comes to pure freakish, creep out, what-the-fuck did I just see, advertising awfulness, nothing compares to the recent Quiznos commercial I just now saw.

Let me get this straight: somebody in some marketing think tank thought it would be a great advertising idea to try to sell toasted subway sandwiches, which is a food item of some renown, through the medium of singing MICE (or at least I think they're mice), with uneven nasty teeth and googly meth-influenced eyes. And these deranged, dentally-challenged mice sing in choppy verse that can only be described as disturbing.

Gah. It's enough to make the Arby's oven mitt seem like a brilliant idea, and that's saying a whole bunch.

UPDATE: Ugh. The hamster creatures can be found here, if you can stand it. Thanks Rob, um, I think. *shudder*

Posted by Ryan at 09:26 PM | Comments (0)

Some Iraq Thinking That I'm Sure Will Piss Off SOMEBODY

So, I was just sitting here, toggling between work and news reports, and I came across this little item. Apparently, al Queda operations in Iraq are failing to garner the following they require. But, that's not the part that caught my attention:

It even laments Iraq's lack of mountains in which to take refuge.

To me, that's a fascinating thing to mention, and I'll explain why.

First off, I should note that, if you're one of those people who steadfastly refuse to acknowledge that the world is at war with terrorism, this stuff will probably leave your mouth sour with bile but, then again, I don't really care. Anyway, back to my musings.

It's been widely understood, in the lead-up and the aftermath of the Iraq war, that Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists were filtering their way across the border to fight American forces. Some intercepted memos even indicate that bin Laden himself encouraged al Queda to take the fight to Iraq, abandoning Afghanistan.

In the context of the war on terror, Iraq has therefore been an outstanding strategy for the coalition of the willing. In Afghanistan, we had to slog through mountainous crapland to root out terrorists. Now, they're coming to the coalition, on flat terrain, with a local population that is hesitating to assist them. Early on, this was referred to as the "flypaper strategy," and I think there's some truth to it.

The situation sucks for the Iraqi people, obviously, and it's hindering the rebuilding effort, but I for one sleep a little better each night. Because, if terrorists are intent on slugging it out with American SOLDIERS, in an environment that puts the terrorists at a severe disadvantage, in a country several thousands of miles away from American soil, so the terrorists are not flying planes into buildings here at home, well, then I'd say we're doing a bang-up job in the war on terror.

Of course, you may disagree. . .

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

Time Just Doesn't Give A Damn

Saturday afternoon, my girlfriend and I, while visiting my hometown, noticed that a wrestling event was taking place at my old high school. Now, I hadn't been in those halls for ten years or so, so we decided to take a quick trip back through Ryan Rhodes memory lane.

It was strange, in a very surreal sort of way. There was a time when those halls very much defined who I was. Small town schools, I think, have a way of shaping individuals that larger schools just don't. Harmony High School was, for me, everything. There was a strict unspoken code of expectation. You were expected to take part in sports, for example, so that's what I did. I played football, and I played golf, and, more than anything else, I wrestled.

Touring those old hallways Saturday, however, I was struck by how detached I've become from those expectations that so directed my early life. I mean, I could see my younger self, absorbed in those walls, but the present me regarded that school with non-nostalgic indifference. I don't know what I expected, actually. Some sort of epiphany, perhaps? Some unknown closure?

I have dreams, occasionally, that I'm back in high school. I'm either trying to remember what my next class is, or I'm standing in front of my locker unable to recall my combination. Or, sometimes I'll just be perplexed why I'm there at all, because I KNOW I already graduated, and that I went to college, and that I have a job and life. But still I dream of high school. I sometimes chalk those dreams up to an unconscious feeling that I never really finished high school. Because I left Harmony High School right before my senior year to finish school in Tokyo, I think there's something underneath that believes my Harmony schooling was left incomplete.

But, you'd never guess that from Saturday's visit. Any old ghosts that I may have left behind have long since vanished. I may have been able to find my way around just fine, but nothing felt familiar, not even the classrooms my parents taught in for nearly 20 years.

Except for the wrestling room. The wrestling room brought back a flood of memories. Memories of endless workouts, and of my father scratching his head in frustration when I couldn't figure out a particular throw, and of dry heaves, and sweat, and an explosive pride I felt after every practice. It's funny how much I hated wrestling practice, but how much I loved wrestling. My picture is still on the wall of tournament champions, a picture taken my junior year. I was pretty scrawny then, 130 pounds of developing youth who desperately wanted to eat until he died.

And then we walked outside, and I was back in the present, with a girl I love and a life that is mine to decide and that will no doubt, ten years from now, be just as alien as those high school hallways.

Posted by Ryan at 10:48 AM | Comments (0)

February 06, 2004

Why, Yes, I Am A Moron

Yes, people, I KNOW my permalinks don't work. They have not worked since this blog was created, and I don't know how to fix it. I've stared at the problem, and I've dissected the HTML tags until I started to weep, and I've changed things, and I've changed things back. And still, STILL, I don't know why they don't work. Well, that's not entirely true. They kind of work, by which I mean, they take you to the correct month, but as for taking you directly to the post somebody tried to link to, well, that just doesn't work. I'm sorry. I apologize. I wish I was dead.

My thanks do go out to you kind folks who have tried to assist me here, and you know who you are. Your help and concern is very much appreciated. I really do truly want to address this problem, but I keep putting it off because I have grandiose plans to leave Blogger entirely and create a new and wonderful interactive site that makes you want to cream in your jeans because, let's face it, if my site was a jean creamer, you'd be here all the time, just creaming in your jeans.

The problem is, I don't understand this shit at all. Trackbacks and blogrolling and the "Internet" are all crazy, foreign things to me, which is kind of pathetic, seeing as how I write for technical magazines for IBM. Seriously, if you read some of my articles, you come away thinking I really know what the hell I'm talking about. But, I don't. You might think I'm an expert with EDI. But, I'm not. I'm kind of like an idiot savant. I can write and write and write about technologies I don't understand, and yet somehow it comes out pretty much correct. It's kind of creepy, when I think about it.

So, anyway, no, I don't understand much of anything when it comes to this blogging stuff. I'm pretty much a neanderthal blogger. "Me write stuff. You read. You no read, I SMASH!"

Again, I apologize for the hosed permalinks. Hopefully, someday, I'll be able to provide you all with an enriching blog experience here at Rambling Rhodes, complete with pictures and games and a bunch of other things that will help inspire jean creaming.

Until then, me write stuff. You read. You now read, I SMASH!

Posted by Ryan at 03:50 PM | Comments (0)

February 05, 2004

Crazy Conversations

Caroline says: If I had a cat, I'd name it mellow.

Caroline says: and maybe if I got another cat, I'd name it marsh

Ryan says: Very witty.

Caroline says: I feel witty, oh so witty...

Ryan says: Just like if I had a dog, I want a dingo, and I'd name it Bingo.

Caroline says: the dingo ate my baby

Ryan says: Owning a dingo named Bingo would be the coolest thing ever.

Caroline says: and Bingo was his nameoooo

Ryan says: And then I train Bingo to attack both Marsh AND Mellow.

Caroline says: Marsh and Mellow could kick Bingo's dingo-butt.

Ryan says: Dingo-Butt?

Caroline says: band?

Ryan says: Is that a cousin to Boba Fett?

Caroline says: Yes.

Caroline says: identical cousins

Caroline says: they look alike, and walk alike and sometimes even talk alike

Ryan says: And ride a bike, and take a hike, and take turns inserting anal spikes.

Caroline says: ew, what kind of cousins would do that?

Caroline says: kissing ones?

Ryan says: Close cousins.

Caroline says: very very close

Posted by Ryan at 02:29 PM | Comments (0)

February 04, 2004

Schizophrenic Screed For Feb. 3, 2004

I've been slacking when it comes to my duty to bring you, my valued readers, the weekly installments of the Schizophrenic Screed. Honestly, though, the weirdo who writes these things for the Stewartville Star has been really incoherent and long winded lately, and that's saying something. To give you an idea, here's his latest:

Macheye CREST - TEEN - Y of degrees of latitude of angle of eccentricity, of left. As the final signals come in, they are read as follows: Tr - Tic - A - OC - Ent - SAC. Left-angle-spiral. 1-Pan-cheas. 2-Biliary-duct. 3-Bile-carrying. 4-Bilious. 5-Penumbra. 6-Umbra. 7-Umber. 8-Umbilical. 9-Umbilicus. 10-umbrassiere-spiral. Of-right angle. New can you see. 11-Angle of eccentricity. Now we have a total democracy. Now you can put a line through Republicans, Democrats, and Imperialism of everything. Now if you want to know the element of the brain stem, get educated. Now to help you out on education for that new biology test in the year 2006. So we'll start with what is called CA-e-Pyramid Cell. The following words are cross references within the A-now you can do your cross referencing. A: 1-Ap-O-gee. 2- AS-y-mp-tote. 3- At. 4-A-moe-ba. 5- A-moe-bio. 6- A-moe-boid. 7-Am-nion sac. 8-A-phelion lion. Now we can get down to business. As we decipher the VA3 Pyramid Cell out piece by piece we now go to a new formula known as C-A-K-E-3 Pyramid Sunflower Spiral Cell. The breakdown is in sunflower. Sunflower as in medical book. Sunflower as in medical book. Sunflower as in sunflower seed like a cup of coffee of caffeine like a can of pop of caffeine, like boiling a pot of coffee.


Jeez, my fingers actually hurt after having transcribed that insanity. The guy is clearly slipping further and further into what the scientific community refers to as "nutballism." The thing is, nobody in Stewartville or the surrounding community has the guts to tell him to get back on his medications and stop spewing this bizarre nonsense. Why? Because he's creepier than a vine. I mean, think about it: a mangled-looking human being, with a huge scar across his face, stands in front of you and spouts the spooky shit italicized above. What would you do? Right. You'd do what I used to do: stand there and nod and pray the encounter would just end.

And now for some shameless traffic whoring by repeating the names Kristin Bell and Veronica Mars:

Kristen Bell. Veronica Mars. Kristen Bell. Denise Milani. Kristen Bell. Veronica Mars. Kristen Bell. Denise Milani. Kristen Bell. Veronica Mars. Kristen Bell. Denise Milani. Kristen Bell. Veronica Mars. Kristen Bell. Denise Milani. Kristen Bell. Veronica Mars. Kristen Bell. Denise Milani. Kristen Bell. Veronica Mars. Kristen Bell. Denise Milani. Kristen Bell. Veronica Mars. Kristen Bell. Denise Milani. Kristen Bell. Veronica Mars. Kristen Bell. Denise Milani. Kristen Bell. Veronica Mars. Kristen Bell. Denise Milani. Kristen Bell. Veronica Mars. Kristen Bell. Denise Milani. Kristen Bell. Veronica Mars. Kristen Bell. Denise Milani. Kristen Bell. Veronica Mars. Kristen Bell. Denise Milani. Kristen Bell. Veronica Mars. Kristen Bell. Denise Milani. Kristen Bell. Veronica Mars. Kristen Bell. Denise Milani. Kristen Bell. Veronica Mars. Kristen Bell. Denise Milani. Kristen Bell. Veronica Mars. Kristen Bell. Denise Milani. Kristen Bell. Veronica Mars. Kristen Bell. Denise Milani. Kristen Bell. Veronica Mars. Kristen Bell. Denise Milani. Kristen Bell. Veronica Mars. Kristen Bell. Denise Milani. Kristen Bell. Veronica Mars. Kristen Bell. Denise Milani. Kristen Bell. Veronica Mars. Kristen Bell. Denise Milani. Kristen Bell. Veronica Mars. Kristen Bell. Denise Milani. Kristen Bell. Veronica Mars. Kristen Bell. Denise Milani. Kristen Bell. Veronica Mars. Kristen Bell. Denise Milani.

Posted by Ryan at 06:19 PM | Comments (0)

February 03, 2004

Random Stuff

Yes, I realize I didn't post anything yesterday. There's a reason.

I was sleeping.

You see, I won a Super Bowl party at Buffalo Wild Wings, so there was no way in holy hell I was going to go tromping into work come Monday morning. I took Monday off. And boy oh boy did I sleep. I slept like I haven't slept since college. We're talking one of those slumbers where you practically enter another dimension. A slumber where you're practically dead, except you're not. You're alive, and the only thing you want to do is sleep, and possibly sleep yourself to death.

Of course, it doesn't hurt if you were raging bombed the night before. Ah, the Super Bowl. An excuse to drink yourself to another plane of existence. I haven't been that inebriated since, like, forever. It was good to be back, but I won't be going there for a long looooonnngggg time. Until the next time. Probably March 1, my birthday.

But, hey, how about that Super Bowl?! I admit it, I was rooting for Carolina, for no other reason except that New England already won a Super Bowl, like just a couple years ago. Come on. Spread the wealth, people. Don't be so greedy. Stop hording all those Super Bowl trophies. Lousy New England.

*obligatory comment on Janet's nasty nipple*

First off, I don't really care for the whole halftime show. If I wanted to see people prance around and lip sync, I'd go back through my Milli Vanilli DVDs (okay, I don't own such a thing, and I honestly hope no such thing exists). I really don't understand the appeal of the halftime show. Each year it gets worse and worse. More flamboyant. More stupid.

But, this year there was, apparently, a nipple. Janet Jackson's nipple, no less.

I didn't see it, to tell the truth. I think I was getting a beer refill at the time. But, the fallout the next day made sure I would see, again and again, what probably ranks as the worst looking nipple in the history of nipples. Yes, Janet, my dear, I understand that your career is on the decline, but there was no need to torment 100 million viewers with the sight of your tired boob harpooned with whatever that thing was adorning your unfortunate nipple.

Don't get me wrong. I'm a huge fan of breasts. I think they're fantastic. But, the thing is, really great breasts are best viewed unsullied by tattoos or metal appendages. When I see a nipple ring or boob tattoo, I think, "wow, gee, she's probably 98 percent nasty whore." And, before you scream "sexist pig," let me just assure you that I think male nipple piercings and/or tattoos are just as stupid and unappealing. They don't make you look tough, guys. They make you look as dumb as a rotten log.

So, there was Janet Jackson, her face splattered with enough make-up to kill whatever dog or cat it was tested on, looking about 20 years older than she probably is, unleashing her pendulous fake breast to the world, adorned with what was apparently a ninja throwing star. And, what's worse? That poor exhausted boob was unveiled to the world by Justin Timberlake, who apparently has not yet come to terms with the fact that he can't grow a full beard to save his life. The manboy looked like he had mange, for crying out loud.

*end nipple commentary here*

It was a great Super Bowl, though. Top O' the line entertainment.

So, how did I fill my weekend, you ask? Okay, you didn't ask, but I'm telling you anyway. I saw the movie "The Big Bounce" with Melissa on Saturday night. It. . . was. . . slow. I mean, it wasn't horribly bad, and it wasn't all that good. It was just kind of there. It was better than Janet Jackson's nipple, but not better than Salma Hayek's, is what I'm saying. Melissa and I left the theater kind of in a numb state, trying to mentally digest whatever it was we just saw. The major saving grace of the movie was that it was set in Hawaii, so Melissa and I sat there and wished we were back there, but otherwise it was just kind of a so-so movie.

And, oh, in case you haven't heard, we endured a Noah's flood of snow between Sunday and Monday. It just snowed and snowed and snowed. And today it's just plain cold. Yep. Minnesota: you're soaking in it. And then you're freezing in it. Still, I love this state, even though I'm not at all sure why.

I also renewed my driver's license yesterday. I can't believe it's been four years already. The picture looks basically the same, but the person has changed immensely. When I last updated my license, I was in a job I loathed, with a manager I loathed more, and a romantic life that bordered on self-abuse mixed with male whoring. If you were a female with a heartbeat, chances were good I'd hit on you. A mere four years later, and I find myself with a job I both like and am pretty damned good at, with co-workers I like, and a girlfriend who is great and, more importantly, almost just like me in personality. All that positive change, and yet the picture looks the same. I don't know what I was expecting.

And so here I am on a Tuesday. Toggling between blogging and catching up on work. And I'm happy.

Way happier, it would seem, than Janet Jackson's skewered nipple. Man that thing looked nasty.

RANDOM LINK: A soldier's perspective.

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