August 31, 2004

A History of Credit Cards

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 02:37 PM | Comments (0)

August 30, 2004

A Protester's Protester *

Well, it's time, once again, with the Republican National Convention underway in NYC, to watch repeated loops of frenzied protesters protesting things, which is what protesters are apt to do in this charged political climate.

After watching the drama unfold first at the Democratic National Conventions, and now again this time around, I’ve come to the conclusion that protesting is the in thing to do.

Even though a lot of today’s protesters don’t appear to have any real coherent message, and sometimes they come up with such laughable concepts as the Lysistrata Project (which, contrary to popular belief, has nothing to do with Listerine), I have to give them credit, they’re out there anyway, marching, marching, holding up signs, marching, and, perhaps most importantly, getting on T.V.

Despite the apparent difficulties inherent in being a protester, I can’t stand on the sideline and watch the latest fad pass me by without whipping up my own protest. Therefore, I spent a considerable part of last week carefully orchestrating my own protest movement.

First and foremost, I needed a cause; something so profound that I would be guaranteed to garner a loyal following of like-minded protesters. I considered starting a “Make Ryan Rhodes Rich Beyond His Wildest Dreams” protest movement, but I decided a movement like that would probably only benefit me. No, I needed to organize a protest that could, in the end, help other people as well. That’s just the kind of protester I am.

I briefly flirted with the idea of an “Anti-Junk Mail” movement. All my fellow protesters would strip completely naked, glue junk mail to their bodies, and march through U.S. cities chanting catchy slogans like “We don’t approve of being pre-approved” and “Sweepstakes are the tool of the devil.”

Again, fearing that I would have a tough time rallying a large enough number of protest troopers to my anti-junk mail movement, I decided to dig even further into my protest bag.

Finally, I meticulously crafted a protest certain to bring millions of people within my protest fold. Let it be known today that I am officially establishing the "Anti-Protest Movement." All who join will be asked to work tirelessly to bring an end to the protest web that is spinning its way across our country. We will protest day and night until the last protester throws up his or her hands and surrenders. If you wish to support my fledgling movement, I simply ask that you adhere to the following rules.

First, as a protest protester, you cannot reveal your identity to anyone. To do so will mark you as a protester and, under my movement, all protesters will be protested against.

Secondly, all members are asked to work tirelessly, at risk to their own safety, to not do anything even remotely protest-like. In other words, simply go about your daily routine as if you never even heard about the anti-protest movement. However, you are free to think all the anti-protest thoughts you want. You can even think of the anti-protest signs you won’t be making and the protest gatherings that won’t take place. This is a very tight-lipped movement.

Third, I’ve noticed that every good protest movement has solid lines of communication with its members. But, since all my protest members are anonymous, I ask that no protest protester talk about their non-actions to anyone. This rule coincides closely with the first rule, but it’s so important I thought it should be underscored again.

Finally, I have to mention the difficult area of donations. After all, maintaining a protest movement like this is an expensive pursuit. All I ask is $5 per member, a fee that you obviously cannot pay because to do so would mark you as a protester, and we just can’t have that in an anti-protest movement such as this. We don’t want to be labeled hypocrites after all.

Let me take this moment to thank all of you who have just now joined my anti-protest movement and, judging by your silence, I can only assume there are millions upon millions of you. And thank you for your $5 non-donation. I can assure you that any money I don’t receive won’t be spent on anything even remotely anti-protest in nature.

Of course, I’m sure such a popular protest movement as mine is bound to give rise to copy-cat movements who will no doubt try to steal my thunder.

If that happens, I can only assure you that I will strenuously protest.

*This is a somewhat rewritten column from way back when, and it was also a blog post from March, 2003.

Posted by Ryan at 12:43 PM | Comments (7)

August 27, 2004

Moving On Out

IBM today is moving me out of my nice, soft squishy office space back to the cookie cutter blue buildings that so personify Big Blue. I've thrown out more crap in the last couple days preparing for the move, you'd probably be horrified.

My point? My point is that I won't have computer access in about two minutes, and won't be able to regale you all with standard blogging wonder.

This is Ryan Rhodes, signing off for the weekend.

Posted by Ryan at 12:26 PM | Comments (5)

August 26, 2004

Walking The Straight And Narrow

I'll let you folks figure out how to play this little bit of nonsense. My first attempt, I got him to walk 54 meters before he toppled over.

Posted by Ryan at 02:33 PM | Comments (9)

Google THIS

Heh. I just checked my site meter, and I saw that someone came to my site doing a Google search on. . . wait for it. . . you'll never guess. . .


Now THAT'S specificity!

P.S. Oh, by the way, my ass can be viewed here, if you're interested.

Posted by Ryan at 12:11 PM | Comments (7)

The Murky Depths

I don't tend to think of myself as a wuss. Generally, I'm a pretty tough guy who isn't afraid of much, except for maybe Michael Jackson and, to some extent, the Arby's oven mitt.

I have no problem with dark alleys, or abandoned houses, or snakes, or Rosie O'Donnell. All of those things don't scare me in the least. By and large, you'd be hard pressed to terrify me when it comes to anything land-based, or even air-based.

But, here's a little secret about myself: lakes and oceans freak me out.

They don't freak me out to the point that I won't go near them or anything, but they most assuredly freak me out. I'm not sure why, exactly. There's something about knowing that strange creatures are looking up at my dangling feet that just creeps me right out. So long as my feet are on a sandy or even rocky bottom, I'm fine, but the moment the water level is such that I have to tread water, I start getting a little fidgety.

If, for example, I topple off some water skis in the middle of a lake, I feel uncomfortable almost immediately, and my comfort level is directly related to the distance the boat may be from me. I mean, if I'm going to have my toes chomped off by a world record sized Northern Pike, I'd like to have witnesses and medical assistance nearby rather than joyriding a half mile away.

I'm a little more comfortable in the ocean, primarily because of the improved overall visibility. Lakes are usually dirty and dark, whereas the ocean has a more clean and clear look about it, even though it's pretty gross, too.

However, deep ocean water does spook me. One year, I was snorkeling in the ocean off Maui, in relatively shallow water. I swam over a rise of rocks, and suddenly I was looking down at a drop off of 40 or 50 feet. It scared the living shit out of me. I had a minor freak out right then and there, complete with frantic flailing of the arms and everything.

That same trip, I was snorkeling off a different beach, and I dived down about 12 feet to inspect some coral. Suddenly a shadow drifted overhead, and I looked up to see a gigantic fucking stingray lazily floating up above. Now, I knew stingrays were basically harmless, but the sight of that huge beast hanging over the spot I intended to surface at just terrified me to hell. Despite the fact my lungs were screaming, I forced myself to swim about 30 feet towards shore before going to the surface to breathe.

I still think of that stingray and shudder. Scary fucking thing.

Posted by Ryan at 11:56 AM | Comments (4)

August 25, 2004

Proud To Be An American

The U.S. women's beach volleyball team of Misty May and Kerri Walsh recently took the gold. Here are some photos of the fantastic action:


Here we see May and Walsh celebrating something, possibly a win of some sort. It really doesn't matter.


More edge-of-your-seat action, as May and Walsh continue celebrating something. Again, it doesn't really matter what they're celebrating. Perhaps they bought new toothbrushes?


Here we see Misty May about to do something with a ball.


Having successfully done something with a ball, May celebrates, once again, with Walsh.


Here, Walsh does something with a ball.


And, of course, Walsh and May celebrate after Walsh successfully did something with a ball.


Whoops! How the hell did that get in here? Move along. Nothing to see here.


Here, Walsh does something super-dooper cool with a ball.


And, as is the custom, May and Walsh celebrate.

Congratulations, ladies, on your gold medal performance. And, from the bottom of my heart, thank you so very, very, very, very much.

Posted by Ryan at 12:19 PM | Comments (18)

August 24, 2004

One Iraqi Perspective

You sit in a restaurant like this one and see families relaxing with their children playing and having fun late at night and you feel that there’s ‘something’ wrong in the way MSM is dealing with the Iraqi issue. I watch TV and I see hell breaking around me then I go outside and see enough normalcy AND progress to make me believe that the people in the media are not here to report how’s life going but rather they are here reporting pre-prepared stories and to be faced with something that contradicts the picture they have in their minds would be really annoying and will mean more hard work to try to find the truth or something close to it. (Iraq The Model)

Ryan says: There are a lot of good Iraqi blogs, which is in itself rather telling.

Ryan says: Prior to the war, under Saddam, there was one, ONE Iraqi blog, and that guy had to be anonymous, or he probably would have been shot in the head and dragged through the street. Now there are over 30 Iraqi blogs.

Jody says: interesting, then why are Americans getting such a poor reception at the Olympics and especially by Iraqi athletes...just an observation, not to be confrontational (OK, Paul Hamm aside is what I mean, and the dream team men's basketball too)

Ryan says: Because we Americans are, obviously, militant, conquering barbarians who are oil-thirsty, fat thugs who have no regard for human life, that's why.

Jody says: I understand that but what gets me, is if it wasn't for US involvement, the Iraqi soccer team wouldn't be there...

Ryan says: Oh, they'd maybe be there, but. . .

Jody says: I remember seeing a documentary about how they weren't allowed to play and the soccer fields were literally killing fields...

Ryan says: It's the tough thing about Democracy in action, you see. The reporters drool over Iraqi soccer players (who didn't even play, mind you) saying what they think about the American occupation, yet the reporters fail to appreciate the fact that those Iraqi soccer players actually have the freedom now to say such things without the fear of Uday beating their feet with a baseball bat when they get home.

Jody says: that would hurt

Posted by Ryan at 04:46 PM | Comments (27)

Polar Bear Summer

For reasons beyond my control, this summer has been one of unusually cool temperatures, by which I mean I keep my ice cube trays in the porch, because that's more efficient than my freezer at this point.

I guess I could try and find a way to chalk up these cool temperatures to global warming, or the failure of the U.S. to agree to the Kyoto Protocol, or the war in Iraq, or the Plain Layne hoax but, no, I think it all comes down to Mother Nature being her finicky and unpredictable self.

Well, the cool temps wouldn't stop me from enjoying a end-of-the-summer vacation with the girlfriend, nosirree. Melissa and I were determined to take a vacation if it killed us, or at least cost me a lot of money, whichever came first.

So, we decided to both take Monday off and we travelled to Wisconsin Dells Sunday afternoon. For those not familiar with Wisconsin Dells, let me explain. The Dells is an over-the-top tourist trap that specializes primarily in water parks, but dabbles in miniature golf, theme-based motels, amusement parks and a plethora of other activities meant to cause children to go insane with "I want" vibrations until parents' duck into the nearest clinic to sterilize themselves.

I hadn't been to the Dells since I was a kid, and that was only once, for one day, at which point my parents decided to take my brother and me to Chicago instead, where at least we might actually learn something while on vacation. So, I always felt gypped that I didn't get to immerse myself in the insanity that is Wisconsin Dells.

Well, I had driven about two miles into the insanity that is Wisconsin Dells when I started to twitch in nervous anxiety. I'm not good at driving in unfamiliar territory in general, and when that unfamiliar territory is awash in flashing flourescent lights and garish theme park visual noise, I get all the more flustered. I wanted to pull over NOW! RIGHT NOW! GET ME OUT OF THIS CAR RIGHT NOW, NOW, NOW!

I'll pulled off of the main Dells drive and found myself in the parking lot of a place called Treasure Island. It looked expensive, and it was probably booked solid, I figured, but at least I was off that cartoonish main road. Mel went in to see about vacancies, and I was surprised when she came back and told me they had rooms available.

As luck would have it, one of the cheaper rooms had a cancellation, which meant, for just over $100, we got a room and two free, two day passes to the Treasure Island waterparks, both indoor and outdoor. What a bargain! Seriously. I'm not being sarcastic here. It was a great deal.


Whereas Sunday afternoon and evening were plenty warm, with temperatures exceeding 80 degrees, Monday was considerably cooler, with temps dipping below 70.

Undaunted, Mel and I emerged Monday afternoon intent on enjoying the outdoor water park, and we were pretty much the only people in the entire state of Wisconsin willing to do so. Therefore, there was a trade-off. On the one hand, it was pretty damned cold, and making use of all of the park's waterslides was almost more work than it was fun. On the other hand, there were absolutely no lines whatsoever. We could pick and choose our slides with nary a wait.

Surprisingly, the cold didn't bother us too much. Sure, it would have been nice if the sun was out, with temps nearing 90, but we had to make do with what we had on hand, and what we had on hand was a 69 degree overcast day. And we actually managed to have fun despite the less-than ideal circumstances.


Our big mistake came when we went swimming in the wave pool, which is a standard swimming pool that generates waves. Well, if one were to guess, one might postulate that the Treasure Island wave pool was filled entirely by the melting runoff of the hotel's many ice machines. I have never in my life been in such a cold swimming pool. I'm not sure, but I thought I saw Walt Disney's cryogenically frozen body go bobbing by on one of the waves.

After roughly eight minutes of enduring the wave pool, Mel and I decided we had defied Mother Nature long enough, and that it was time to snap to reality and put on some pants and a sweatshirt, and possibly a winter coat. We spent the rest of the afternoon playing 54 holes of miniature golf, and then we hopped back in the car for the three hour drive home.

All in all, it was a pretty fun vacation, even if I did lose three toes and a pinkie to frostbite.

Posted by Ryan at 02:16 PM | Comments (5)

Chicks I Think Are Hot

Starting this week, I've decided to try my hand at posting the names and, when applicable, pictures, of chicks who I think are hot. This week:

Daisy Fuentes.


This picture was chose because it's the closest I could find to a genuine camel toe shot.

Daisy really didn't appeal to me much when she was on MTV, primarily because she was on MTV at roughly the same time that Cindy Crawford was doing House of Style, and as a puberty-stricken youth, Cindy had my full attention. I first took real notice of Daisy when she was co-host of America's Funniest Home Videos and, since then, she has maintained her wondrous shape rather than descending into the gross skeletal ideal sought after by the likes of Cameron Diaz.

Yes, Daisy Fuentes. I salute you, because my other hand is busy right now. . . doing something.

Posted by Ryan at 11:29 AM | Comments (1)

August 20, 2004

But, Is It Atkins-Friendly?

Who the hell cares?

Posted by Ryan at 11:22 AM | Comments (3)

August 18, 2004

Toilet Talk (Again)

Here's a little bit of trivia about myself. You can share this information with anyone you see fit. Or you don't have to. Whatever.

I have this thing about public toilets, such as the loos you'd find at restaurants, or schools, or here at work. If there is still poop in a toilet, I will not use it. I'll walk on by and go to the next one.

It would be a simple matter for me to just flush the toilet and complete my business, but there's something about an unknown someone's poop staring back at me that makes the whole toilet stall seem somehow unclean.

And it doesn't have to be a large amount of poop, either. It can be just a few crumbs that didn't go down; that's enough to make me seek out a different crapper. Even defiant streaks spiraling around the porcelain send me packing. I just can't do it. The thought that my butt is hovering over a spot where, just seconds before, another human being's poop was swimming, just makes me feel dirty.

But, I really have a super dooper problem with the people who have no qualms about leaving an entire turd in a toilet, and then not even bothering to even think about flushing. Are they that lazy? Are they proud, perhaps?

Back in high school, a bunch of my fellow football players decided, after practice one evening, to take turns pooping in the same toilet, and not flush. After the sixth or seventh guy had gone, a truly disgusting and somewhat amazing pile of shit towered its way out of the bowl, to the point that the seventh guy to go had to hover above the seat to prevent contact. A little known fact about toilet plumbing: after seven guys work together to fill a toilet with their own shit, the toilet loses its ability to flush down the monumental shit skyscraper. I was just leaving the locker room when the janitor came down and confronted the unexpected and un-called for clean-up job, and I remember the defeated look on his face ("is this where life has taken me?").

I remember that janitor's resigned look every time I enter a stall and see an entire unflushed turd awaiting me. It seems unfair to me to think that I have to be somehow responsible for disposing of somebody else's defecation. That's not what I went to school for. It's not my job to flush somebody else's shit. I'd have to check to make sure, but I'm almost certain it's not in my contract. So, I don't. It's just the principle of the thing.

Why, yes, yes I did just come back from the bathroom and saw a gi-normous unflushed treat looking up at me. No toilet paper or anything. Just a huge loaf floating there all by itself. I opted to slowly close the door, and move two stalls down.

Strangely, I still have no problem looking at stuff like this, however.

Posted by Ryan at 02:58 PM | Comments (10)

Okay, So Maybe I'm Not That Hairy

It's a funny thing about me. Sometimes, after I read a weird news story, say, about some Chinese guy named Yu Zhenhuan, who is touted as the hairiest man alive, so much so that he had to have surgery to remove hair growing in his ears, well, I just feel compelled to hunt down a picture of the guy.

And, sometimes, I'm pretty well horrified by what I find:


And Jim pointed me to this body shot (via Simon World):


I fear even the wonders of the Mach 3 can't help this man.

Posted by Ryan at 01:42 PM | Comments (4)


In addition to my ability to write somewhat journalistic-like material, which accounts for my daily livlihood and ensures monthly house payments, I have the following as-of-yet useless abilities:

-- I can accurately mimic such voices as Kermit the Frog, Jimmy Stewart (both young and Campbell's soup old guy), Apu from the Simpsons (or any random Indian guy, for that matter), Mayor Quimby from the Simpsons and a wide variety of other voices that are, I believe, uniquely mine.

-- I can write limericks, very quickly. I have no idea where this skill developed. I've just always had the ability. I'm willing to bet, if there were video available of my birth, you'd hear me crying in limerick form.

-- I excel at lewd poetry, in general. Ask me to write a serious poem about the trials and tribulations of life, and I wouldn't have a chance. Ask me to write an evocative piece of rhyming poetry about a fresh pile of dog poop on the sidewalk, and I could write volumes.

-- I can be an irritating and loud prick, but you all probably already know that.

Posted by Ryan at 10:19 AM | Comments (5)

August 17, 2004

One Way Ticket To Heck

Shit but this makes me laugh, and I can't for the life of me figure out why:


I've even come up with a name for the kitty. You wanna hear it? Do you really? Okay. . .

Cat Cobain.

UPDATE: Cats, of course, can always fight back against such injustices.

Posted by Ryan at 03:12 PM | Comments (9)

August 16, 2004

For Your Consideration. . .

Last week, I submitted a letter to the editor of the Rochester Post-Bulletin regarding the Kerry/Cambodia flap. The following is what transpired:

Thank you for your letter to the editor. However, we do not plan on running
it at this time. You state that Mr. Kerry lied about his military service.
We've been getting many letters like this from anti-Kerry and anti-Bush
people. Much of the material for these letters has come from unreliable Web
sites that are perpetuating inaccurate information
. We've decided not to run
them unless the writer provides documentation. To just say something "never
happened" or that someone "lied" without such documentation is unfair.

Greg Sellnow
Columnist/Editorial Page Coordinator

I responded:

Thank you for your response, Mr. Sellnow. I respect the P-B's decision not to run my letter. Just out of curiousity, though, what does the Post-Bulletin consider "unreliable" Web sites? I, too, am a journalist, currently working as news editor for several IBM magazines, and I regularly find items on the Web that aid my research on articles. Some Web sites, obviously, are moonbat crazy and I typically ignore them, but there are also a vast number of sites out there that consistently bring stories to light before the established "Media" even get a whiff of them. I've been out of the newspaper game for about five years now, so I'm curious how newspapers newsrooms currently view and utilize the Web.

Ryan Rhodes

Sellnow writes back:

We've been getting more and more letters to the editor from readers containing information that is basically cut and pasted from blogs and personal Web sites. These folks just blindly accept the info. as fact without taking the time to determine if it's accurate. You're right, there's a ton of information out there on the Web that is accurate and reliable. We'd just like letter writers to cite the sources for controversial information so we can check it for accuracy. Obviously, if it's biased source such as people can take it for what it's worth and we'll print the letter. But if the source is Jim Smith's daily blog we might be a bit more skeptical. In your case, I'm pretty sure the info. you include in your letter about Kerry not being in Cambodia on Christmas Day 1968 comes from a biography of Kerry by Douglas Brinkley called "Tour of Duty." If you can confirm that and list him as the source we'd be fine with the letter.

Greg Sellnow
Columnist/Editorial Page Coordinator

Emphasis mine (of course). Keep in mind, Sellnow and I remained cordial and respectful, but something about his last response bothered me.

Let's see, they draw the line when it comes to people blindly accepting information as fact without taking the time to determine if it's accurate, but if it's a letter that cites a biased source such as people can take it for what it's worth and they'll print the letter? WTF?

-- Much of the material for these letters has come from unreliable Web
sites that are perpetuating inaccurate information

-- Obviously, if it's biased source such as people can take it for what it's worth and we'll print the letter.

So, it's okay if it's bias, but other biased sources (such as blogs) should be backed up with documentation and research for accuracy? That's a pretty screwed up letters policy.

Posted by Ryan at 03:26 PM | Comments (6)

August 13, 2004

Stuff I Like

So, I have cable television. I mean, I have a LOT of cable television. Like, 150 channels or some crazy number like that. And pretty much most of them are total and complete crap. However, on Showtime there is a program called "Bullshit," hosted by Penn and Teller that is an eye-opening voyage into the absurdity of today's social norms. It's un-PC as hell, and it lays on your feet some fairly amazing and damaging truths regarding things society today just kind of accepts as an overriding good. Such as recycling. I mean, these guys just tore the concept of recycling a new butthole. A fresh, gaping new butthole. A new butthole of extraordinary magnitude. I watched an episode last night that mercilessly explored the funeral home industry, and it was a laugh riot. That show almost makes up for the outrageous cable bill I get each month. I also watched one about the stupidity of the social taboo of profanity, which was also pretty fucking funny.

I also watched "The Fugitive" for the first time last night. I had never seen it, start to finish, before. And, you know what? The reviews were right. It really is a great movie.

Finally, after all my television-watching goodness last night, I settled in to start reading "Angels and Demons" which is basically the pre-quel, I guess, to the "Da Vinci code," which I haven't read. It's quite good, and by reading it, of course, that means I'll probably have to read the Da Vinci code somewhere down the line.

So, yeah, "Bullshit," "The Fugitive," and "Angels and Demons."

Who says I don't have a life?

Posted by Ryan at 10:08 AM | Comments (12)

August 11, 2004

Political Poetry

Twas Christmas Day in '68, and swift boat Capt. John Forbes Kerry
Said he was in Cambodia. Does that sound weird? Well, yes. Quite. Very.

Because, you see, he wasn't there. Old Kerry was a' fibbin.
He got caught embellishing his service in some ill-advised ad libbin.

The press is silent on Kerry's blatant lie, on this it's mum's the word.
Had this been Bush, I tend to think, we'd see a big Old Media turd.

But no, it's okay, when Kerry lies, because Bush must be defeated.
So apologies can be offered up for how France has been mistreated.

Bush lied, they say, in outraged scorn, to bring us into war.
Yet Kerry lies, and that's just fine, let's show him the White House door.

Amidst all this, terror lurks, and plots its next attack.
It's easiest to make a move, when the enemy has turned its back.

UPDATE: *snort* After reading this, I simply have to take part, even if Amelia thinks I'm being biased.

From the Vietnam journal of John Forbes Kerry:

December 25, 1968 --

9:46 a.m. - It's hot. Even for Vietnam, it's hot. It's the kind of hot that makes you sweat in your briefs so bad, you wonder if you peed yourself. I check. Nope, it's just sweat. Damn it's hot.

9:59 a.m. - We're going to Cambodia again today, a trip that's become almost routine. I don't mind Cambodia. It's a lot like Vietnam, it just has a different name. That, and it has a different national anthem, I think.

10:49 a.m. - We're about five miles inside Cambodia now. I can tell that because I can count the number of rotations the propeller makes, and I know how far each rotation propels us. At last count, the propeller had rotated 8,467,982 times, which should put us about 4.9734 miles inside Cambodia. Good God but I'm a boring son of a bitch.

12 noon - Trigger, our boat's gunman, is talking with the mysterious CIA agent we're delivering into Cambodia. I can't make out quite what they're saying, but as far as I can tell, it has something to do with pickles. I wonder if that's a code word for something, or maybe they both just really like pickles.

1:45 p.m. - I just spoke with the mysterious CIA agent, who isn't so mysterious now that I just talked to him. Now he's only just a little bit enigmatic. If I had spoken with him longer, I'll bet he would be merely esoteric. Hard to say, really. Hard to say. His name is Jim and, I have to say, he doesn't look much like a Jim. He looks more like a Tony, or maybe a Mark. But not Jim.

2:15 p.m. - We just dropped Jim off at shore, after exchanging pickle recipes with Trigger. I only knew Jim for a few hours, but I know I'll miss him forever. Thankfully, he left me his hat to remember him by. Trigger may have his recipe for spiced pickles, but I have his hat. I think I win. Now it's back to Vietnam.

Posted by Ryan at 04:47 PM | Comments (55)

Three Noses?

For those of you who love Teen Girl Squad, you should know that there's a little-known installment you should probably watch.

Why, yes, I do intend to just keep linking to stupid shit today. Why do you ask?

Posted by Ryan at 12:45 PM | Comments (1)


Well, now I can certainly sleep better.

Posted by Ryan at 11:49 AM | Comments (0)

August 10, 2004

Media Organizations At A Loss For Verbs

Newsrooms Struggle To Adequately Capture Political Debate

NEW YORK (Rhodes Media Services) -- With the presidential election getting closer by the minute, and with the candidates' campaigns becoming more and more belligerent to one another, newsrooms nationwide have had a difficult time capturing political exchanges in the proper evocative prose.

Headlines over the past weeks have relied heavily on such verbs as "slams" and "bashes" when referring to one candidate attacking the other, such as "Kerry Slams Bush On Iraq War" and "Bush Blasts Kerry On Vietnam Record."

"You know, it's kind of silly, when you really think about it," said George B. Irish, chairman of the American Press Institute and president of Hearst newspapers. "If you watch any political speeches by Bush or Kerry you rarely, if ever, see any slamming going on, or blasting for that matter. To read today's headlines, you'd think the presidential election was akin to a WWF Smackdown. But it's not. Quite frankly, it's boring as dirt. We should really be using verbage that reflects that."

Some headlines suggested by Irish included "Kerry Delivers Monotone Critique of Iraq War" and "Bush Offers Discombobulated Assessment of Kerry and Vietnam."

"I'm sorry, but when I see Kerry droning on and on like Lurch at the front door, I can't honestly call what I'm witnessing a bash of anything: I call it a nap," said Irish. "Likewise, when I see Bush bumble his way through a mediocre speech, the word 'blast' seldom comes to mind: more like 'aspirin.'"

Posted by Ryan at 03:31 PM | Comments (0)


I'm sure everyone with a modem has probably seen this clip a million-billion times, but it came to my attention again today and it gave me yet another gut busting laugh.

Posted by Ryan at 02:58 PM | Comments (2)

Peanuts And Cracker Jack

Yesterday, the company that actually provides my paychecks, MSP Communications (I work at IBM in Rochester, but I'm hired through MSP--I'm special) treated all its employees to a Twins baseball game.

I was in a phenomenal 11th row seat, right along the first base line, smack dab behind the opposing team's bull pen. It was one of those seats that, although it was fantastic for overall viewing, kept me on paranoid alert that the current batter would launch a line drive right into my skull.

That's just one of many of the reasons why anyone and everyone should experience a baseball game in person. It's an entirely different world from what you see on TV. There's the crowd dynamic, which has its own pulse. You can feel it shift throughout the game. If the home team is doing well, you can feel the crowd responding. If the home team is blowing it, you can feel the resignation in the crowd.

The Twins, alas, had their asses handed to them yesterday, so that sucked. There was plenty of resignation to go around, let me tell you.

It was still way better than actual work.

Posted by Ryan at 10:32 AM | Comments (0)


Hey, my mother, an ardent Repub, ain't gonna go that way and, wow, if that's the case, expect Kerry.

I'm still not sure, myself. But, wow, the Dems sure shoulda had the intelligence to select someone who didn't make Gore look like an excitable infomercial by comparison.

Again, still not sure myself. Kerry's a doof, but so is Bush.

Who's the bigger doof?

Time will tell, and there's time yet to tell.

Posted by Ryan at 12:30 AM | Comments (6)

August 06, 2004

Bragging Rights

Ryan says: You and me, we're so different:

Caroline (from New York) says: Woah.

Caroline says: that's cool

Ryan says: You're a soda jerk.

Caroline says: I didn't realize it was a controversy

Ryan says: Oh, it's a controversy.

Caroline says: wow

Caroline says: intense

Ryan says: The whole thing about the south referring to pop as Coke explains a whole lot.

Ryan says: Cause, when we had our convention in Dallas, I couldn't find a Diet Pepsi to save my life.

Caroline says: yeah, I heard that. A friend of mine from school says they say Coke for everything down there.

Caroline says: heh

Caroline says: Like, Coke also meant Dr.Pepper too. You'd say "I'd like a Coke," and they ask "what kind?"

Ryan says: I think another Civil War is in order to get this shit all straightened out.

Caroline says: Minnesoda vs. the world

Ryan says: We'd win.

Caroline says: nuh uh

Ryan says: Nuh huh.

Ryan says: We'd strap you to the front of a tank as armor.

Caroline says: I heard on the news yesterday about Minnesota having the funniest people in the U.S. or something.

Ryan says: Well, I don't like to brag, but I'm one of the major reasons for that.

Caroline says: Heh, yeah you don't like to brag. Whatever.

Ryan says: Okay, I love to brag, but only because I'm so awesome.

Posted by Ryan at 11:02 AM | Comments (8)

Cheesy Cheddar

I've been slacking when it comes to my weekly responsibilities to the Cheddar X, so I'm going to rectify that right now.

1. Who was your most unlikely friendship?

Joshua Norton.

2. What Fear Factor stunt would you design?

Anything that involves nudity.

3. Which stunt would defeat you?

Opening a beer bottle with the skin of my scrotum.

4. What movies do you know by heart?

Disney's Robin Hood. Big Trouble In Little China. The Shawshank Redemption.

5. What is your favorite post on someone else's blog?

My Theory Of Weepability on the blog formerly known as Plain Layne.

6. What's your favorite leftover food?


7. Who was the last person who challenged your beliefs and got you to change your mind?

James Lileks.

8. How do you waste time you should spend doing useful stuff?

You're reading it.

Posted by Ryan at 09:54 AM | Comments (0)

August 04, 2004

Penny For Your Thoughts

Today's Bleat by James Lileks prompted my brain to go skipping down memory lane, and not just because Lileks incorrectly called a half-dollar a quarter, which I e-mailed him about in order to chastise the otherwise fine writer.

I collected coins in my youth, and it was a hobby that, for a time, basically defined my existence. It was the last of a string of collection hobbies that included, in order, Star Wars figures, transformers, dirty magazines and coins. Actually, I resumed my collection of dirty magazines in college but, by that time, it was just a matter of getting a subscription instead of the stealthy pilfering from my father's and brother's concealed horde.


I can't really remember why I ended up becoming so embroiled in coin collecting, but I do remember why I started. I recall stumbling across an abandoned penny collection that my brother had attempted at some point. For the most part, the collection consisted of your standard issue pennies, but tucked within was something that was totally alien to me:


It was a typical penny on the front, but the back was completely different from what I was familiar with. That fascinated me. I never put much thought into money. I had always just gotten a little allowance, which I promptly spent on caps, which I detonated with a hammer and pretty much caused my ears to ring for three straight hours. That was the extent to which I pondered currency.

The realization that the money of yesteryear didn't resemble the money of the current day had never really occurred to me. For the first time in my life, I felt a strange connection to history. If you asked me today what the date was stamped on that wheat penny, I honestly couldn't tell you, but it was the realization that the penny had far outlived me that was the most important thing.

I started combing through loose change around the house, hoping to find other wheat pennies, and I eventually found one. I was so excited, I had to show my Mom. And that's when Mom showed me her little coin collection, which consisted of:



buffalo.jpg buffaloback.jpg


morgan.jpg morganback.jpg

Now, remember, my socks had been sufficiently blown off by a mere wheat penny. By unveiling her little collection to me, my mother had, by all accounts, transformed me into a numismatic lunatic. I was hooked. Of course, it didn't help matters that my Mom had found the Indian head penny upstairs when my parents were putting in new carpet. It took all she had to convince me not to rip up the carpet in my bedroom in the off chance I'd find another penny.

Over the years, I built up a substantial collection and, if I were to sell it today, I think it's a pretty safe bet it would be worth over $7,000. Even though I haven't laid eyes on the collection in about ten years, and it lays quietly in a safety deposit box at my hometown bank.

And, to this day, whenever I get a handful of change at a convenience store, I automatically scan the coins for rarities. I still find a wheat penny, from time to time.

UPDATE: And, no, those aren't the "actual" coins from my youth, they're just examples pulled randomly off the Web.

Posted by Ryan at 11:43 AM | Comments (7)

August 03, 2004


Over the weekend, while driving all over a considerable portion of central Minnesota, I saw a personalized license plate that gave me cause to pause.


Now, I can't profess to being able to divine the meaning of most personalized plates. By and large, personalized plates don't make a lot of sense to me. I'll read them, acknowledge that I have no idea what it means, and pretty much move on to thinking about other things.

But, that NODRUGS plate just bothered me to no end. What does it MEAN? Was it shorthand license plate speak for SAY NO TO DRUGS? Possibly, I suppose, but that's a stretch.

Maybe the driver was, in fact, trying to throw off the cops. A squad car would be tailing the vehicle, noting an erratic driving style, and just before flipping on the cherries, the officer notices the NODRUGS plate, shrugs, and moves on down the road.

Or, maybe the license plate is an advertisement to possible drug dealing motorists. By driving around with a NODRUGS license plate, the driver is saying they're fresh out of drugs and are in need of more. Please pull over, and let's deal.

Or possibly NODRUGS is an acronym of some sort, such as Nobody Orders Decent Recliners Under Great Stress, which is probably true, or, Nipple Odor Doesn't Really Undermine Great Sex which, again, is probably true.

I thought about that NODRUGS for quite a long while, and apparently I still am.

Posted by Ryan at 11:28 AM | Comments (12)

August 02, 2004

Kerry Campaign Questions Election Timing

November Election Viewed As Politically Expedient For Bush

WASHINGTON D.C. (Rhodes Media Services) -- Following alegations by former Vermont govenor and failed presidential candidate Howard Dean that the recent terror warnings were timed politically to compete with Kerry's momentum following the Democratic National Convention, staffers in the Kerry campaign came forward questioning the timing of the November elections.

With the presidential election not scheduled to take place for nearly three months, many in the Kerry camp believe that such an elapse of time provides Bush with the window he needs to bring his polling numbers up.

"I mean, that's what, like, almost a quarter of a year for Bush to wiggle around in," said George A. Akerlof, a Nobel prize-winning economist and Kerry adviser. "That's just pretty convenient timing, don't you think? The election should be held this week. . . today. I've had enough of all this suspicious political timing stuff that's going on. Those Bush people will manipulate the timing of just about anything."

When reminded that the November election will take place as per the guidelines set forth in the Constitution, Akerlof scoffed "yeah, and doesn't that just seem pretty suspiciously convenient, too? Oh, we can't hold the election today because it's in the Constitution, eh? Pretty sneaky. Those Bush folks are so shameless."

Posted by Ryan at 05:11 PM | Comments (1)

Just Some Stuff

First thing's first, my weekend was great. It was one of those do-whatever weekends that go a long way to relaxing the mind. Disconnect from the Internet and rediscover the wonderful world of sleep. Take this advice and go with it.

Oh, and I met Mitch Berg, and it's about damned time I finally met another blogger in person. I was beginning to to think the blogosphere was an elaborate figment of my imagination. Alas, Mitch was doing a radio gig (on a station that I couldn't pick up, for some reason), so we didn't have much time to talk. But, I think this pretty much sums up our meeting. Sorry, Mitch.

Mitch was doing a promotional thing for some real estate called Diamond Bluff. Melissa and I perused the area, and it really is some phenomenal land. The choicest lot overlooked the Mississippi, including all the boating activity and a train track about 200 feet below. You could also, if you really wanted to, look down river a few miles and see Treasure Island Casino and the neighboring nuclear power plant, which sort of put a damper on the whole panoramic effect, but the overall view was just tremendous. And, for a mere $500,000+, you could build your dream home there.

The stopover at the Diamond Bluff shindig was mostly a curiosity distraction from our ultimate goal of doing a little bit of gambling at Treasure Island. It only took an hour and a half for Melissa and myself to burn through $60, and that was enough fun for us. *sigh*

I also very nearly bought a kitten this weekend, but I somehow managed, despite an insistent girlfriend and an impossibly cute kitty, to resist. This of course means that I'll probably own a cat within a couple of months or so, but I was able to postpone the inevitable, which counts for something, I guess.

Posted by Ryan at 09:52 AM | Comments (3)
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