December 29, 2004

Credit Cards and HAWAII!

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.


I'm on vacation. In Hawaii. I only mention this because I like to brag about the fact that I'm on vacation. In Hawaii.

So, to recap: I'm on vacation. In Hawaii. And I like to brag about that. I also like to brag about the fact that I'm a smoking hot specimen of male hunkiness. Come to think about it, I just enjoy bragging in general.

Anyway, because I'm on vacation, in Hawaii, this post will be dedicated to my favorite recreational pastime that you, too, can enjoy if you find yourself, like me, on vacation, in Hawaii.

The recreational pastime I most enjoy while I'm on vacation, in Hawaii, is the activity known as bodyboarding. Bodyboarding is very similar to surfboarding, except that it's completely different, right down to the different name.

Whereas, when surfing, you stand up on a long board, bodyboarding requires you to lay down on a chest-length chunk of dense styrofoam. Utilizing this primitive tool, you then try to ride a wave to shore. It's kind of like surfboarding for complete and total wussies who can't for the life of themselves imagine standing upright on a long board while riding waves and opt, instead, to lay down and scream while riding waves.

For those of you not familiar with waves, let me explain: waves are large walls of rolling water created by either one or several gods. These gods create waves for the express purpose of showing off. This is all backed up by solid scientific data, which I'd cite in detail right now, but I'm not going to.

Anyway, if you choose to bodyboard while on vacation, in Hawaii, you will at some point be required to actually enter the ocean to confront said waves. It's at that point that you'll discover, quite quickly, that waves are rather powerful. My first introduction to the power of waves involved getting my legs knocked out from under me and smashing my groin on an exposed lava boulder. I seriously considered giving up bodyboarding right then and there, but I persevered and now, years later, I can still feel a slight tingling pain in my groin.

I've experienced my share of bodyboarding-related injuries. My first year while on vacation, in Hawaii, I suffered a black eye and what I believe to have been a broken neck or back of some sort, when a large wave mashed my face into the sea floor which, although it consists almost entirely of sand, feels suspiciously like concrete when a wave mashes your face into it.

In addition, I've suffered more than a few scrapes and cuts related to bodyboarding, so you can probably see why I consider it my favorite pastime while I'm on vacation, in Hawaii. It's kind of like I feel compelled to punish myself for some secret transgression and I'm convincing myself I'm actually having fun while doing it.

Anyway, I'll be back in Minnesota within a few short days, provided I don't find a high-paying job here in Hawaii all of a sudden. Yes, I'll be back in the climate of sub-zero temperatures, where bodyboarding is all but a distant memory.

Although I'll still have my lingering groin pain to always remind me, so there's that.

Posted by Ryan at 12:36 AM | Comments (7)

December 21, 2004

Oh, And Just So You Know

Melissa and I will be leaving for Maui tomorrow morning, which is a tropical island that is far away from Minnesota. On Thursday, although the high will be zero degrees in Minnesota, it will be around 82 on Maui. And we'll be staying here.

In other words, blogging will no doubt be light until we return on Jan. 1, 2005. I will be tanned. And I will be relaxed. And I will continue to be a smoking hot specimen of male hunkiness.

That is all.

UPDATE: I just spoke with my mother, who informed me that our resort location has changed to here. I so totally can't wait.

Posted by Ryan at 02:28 PM | Comments (10)

I Have To Do What?

Don't you just hate changes in your job description?

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

December 20, 2004

Merry Christmas

Saturday evening, I had the opportunity to endure the 2004 version of "My Girlfriend's Family Christmas." This was my third Christmas observance with her family clan, and this year was, by far, the most surreal.

Something you must understand about Melissa's family: they're all weird. As a single entity, each family member is a societal oddity. Together, the family is, quite possibly, the strangest family unit in the universe. This year, the cast of characters included (names changed, just in case one of them actually finds this blog) (and keep in mind that this is all true--I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried:

Paul, the father: Paul is a 50-something man who realized, about 15 years ago, that he was, in fact, gay. This, not surprisingly, put a bit of a strain on his marriage, what with the preference for other men rather than his wife and all. In addition to being gay, Paul is also one of the most self-centered gay men in the gay community.

With one daughter struggling to make her way through college, and another daughter struggling to feed and house her family, Paul spends most of his time and money buying things for himself. Expensive things. For example, he recently bought a $3,800 watch to act as a replacement for his $5,000+ watch, which, naturally, he had to send to Switzerland for a new battery.

Paul spends most of his weekends staying in hotels up in the Cities, trolling the local gay hangouts for his next temporary boyfriend. His last boyfriend, Jared, ended up stalking Paul, even after a restraining order had been placed on him.

Paul believes Christmas to be his one chance out of the year to buy his daughters' continue love, with only moderate, if any, success.

Mary, the mother: Mary is about as strict a Lutheran as they come, the product of a farm family upbringing that keeps her from ever even thinking of eating anything other than meat and potatoes. Her favorite restaurants are Applebees and TGI Fridays.

Mary's basically incapable of independent thought other than what she was taught as a child, which was basically the Bible. A diminutive, soft-spoken, almost-invisible member of human society, Mary is almost incapable of doing anything on her own. Her life philosophy is: not only should you not rock the boat, the boat should be 300 yards from water at all times.

She recently ordered a treadmill from Sears, only to discover that it was broken. Rather than call Sears and demand an entirely new treadmill, Mary was prepared to wait a month for repair parts to arrive, and perhaps longer for a repairman to arrive after that. When Melissa and I told her that we would personally take it upon ourselves to call Sears and demand a new treadmill, Mary responded "Oh, I don't want to be a bother." Well, Melissa wanted to be a bother, and one phone call later, Mary had a new treadmill delivered.

Given her strict religious background, the revelation that her husband was, in fact, gay, augmented by the discovery of male thong underwear that wasn't Paul's in the driveway one morning, it all just didn't compute in Mary's mind. It didn't help that most of Mary's family continually told Mary that Paul's homosexuality must in some way be her fault, and that she should have tried to be a better wife. This, naturally, failed to boost Mary's self-esteem in any way.

Mary fell into a deep depression during the divorce and aftermath. Raising her three daughters took a backseat to locking herself in her room and crying. The daughters, ever the consoling offspring, often opted to laugh at their mother who, in turn, would threaten to kill them in any number of violent ways, with her favorite taunt being, according to Melissa, "I should have left you all in a dumpster to die!" Melissa's sister, Janelle, who would eventually join the Army, was reportedly immune to the drill sergeants' attempts to get her to break down, saying later that her mother had verbally hit her with far worse things while she was growing up.

Katie, the youngest sister: Katie was about seven years old when her parents got divorced, followed by her mother's detachment and collapse into depression. Melissa, who was 14 at the time, and Janelle, who was 12, were more equipped to deal with the divorce and aftermath, whereas Katie was forced to scrape together whatever love and affirmation where and when she could.

The end result, today, is a young woman with a self-esteem somewhere just above non-existent and social skills that are so bad, she can annoy just about anybody within 20 seconds or less. She's addicted to fantasy novels and Japanese anime, and she has no concept of financial responsibility, probably in credit card debt to the tune of several thousand dollars.

AmyLynne, Katie's roommate: There's a very strange dynamic between Katie and AmyLynne. AmyLynne is just as, if not more, annoying than Katie, with a loud laugh which she ejaculates after she says just about anything. She could be talking about a funeral, and she'd find a way to laugh inappropriately at the end. She's not particularly pleasant to look at, for more than just a few reasons.

The general consensus one would reach if one were to spend 30 minutes with Katie and AmyLynne is that they're a couple. AmyLynne talks, loudly, about how she and Katie did this, or how she and Katie don't like that. When talking with AmyLynne, there is no "AmyLynne-singular;" it's invariably "Katie and I."

Katie seems genuinely oblivious to the possessive language AmyLynne uses when speaking about the two of them. It's like they're in a serious relationship, with one partner totally unaware that they're even a couple. One might classify their situation as "Lesbian Lite."

Denise, the stranger: Denise was a surprise attendee this year, a college student and childhood friend of Katie who is staying with Katie and AmyLynne during the Christmas break. I know little of Denise, beyond the fact her father killed himself when she was ten, and she has subsequent bouts of depression where she contemplates suicide herself. Oh, and she bears a striking resemblance to Moaning Myrtle:


Myself and Melissa: Read also, this blog.

So, there's your cast of characters for the evening, which was held in Katie's small apartment. The evening started out with Paul asking Melissa and I to go down to his truck and bring up the presents. The presents included two huge tower-like gifts which I could tell, judging by the sound they made, included some sort of refridgeration device. They were extremely heavy, and I was none too pleased to carry them up three flights of stairs.

Most of the first hour of conversation was filled with AmyLynne talking and laughing about how Katie did this, or Katie does that, or how Katie and her went here or there. For her part, Katie was in the kitchen, cooking, including preparing, roughly, 800 Pillsbury crescent rolls, which were all solidly burnt on the bottom.

Following a dinner that can only be described as "mildly digestable," we settled in to open presents. I don't typically get anything too fancy during these exchanges, although I was pleasantly surprised to get a $20 Best Buy gift certificate.

From Melissa I received a cute little "Do It Yourself" snowman kit, which consisted of black pieces of plastic for eyes, buttons and mouth, a pipe, and a plastic carrot with a stick on one end.

In one of those moments you wish you could just capture on five seconds of video, Paul noticed me looking at the plastic carrot snowman nose and said the following:

"What's that? It looks like a butt plug!"

What followed was the kind of silence you'd normally expect to hear after being buried in an avalanche. On the one hand, what Paul said was pretty damned funny. On the other hand, because two of his daughters where in the room, daughters who don't particularly like to be reminded about their father's sexual pastimes, I didn't quite know what to say, if anything.

"DAD!" blurted Katie. "That's. . . just. . . DON'T!"

"What?!" responded Paul, laughing, and eventually everyone chimed in with an uneasy laughter, although I suspect Mary laughed while not entirely knowing what a butt plug actually is, or why you would put one on a snowman.

The grand gift finale was the opening of the two large tower-like presents from Paul to Katie and Melissa. Because they were quite obviously the same item, the girls unwrapped them at the same time.

And what so you suppose Paul had bought his daughters this year? What grand gift did he bestow upon his two cash-strapped offspring? What entirely useful and practical item did he feel his two children could make considerable use of? Why, one of these, of course!


Keep in mind here: this wondrous device didn't even come with a bottle, and you have to send away for the first free filter, with all subsequent filters costing "only about 15 cents per gallon." It's just what everybody needs! Oh, wait, no it's not.

So, how did this wondrously magic evening conclude? Well, there I was, camera in hand, tasked with taking a picture of Paul, Mary, Katie and Melissa, all seated on a couch, all of them looking to be experiencing different levels of discomfort.

And how did I, masterful photographer that I am, get everyone to smile? What amazingly witty thing did I manage to say to get this very strange family to look like a normal, happy family?

"Okay, everyone. . . say. . . BUTT PLUG!"

To alleviate the weirdness, here's Allison Stokke. Allison Stokke. Allison Stokke. Allison Stokke. Allison Stokke. Allison Stokke. Allison Stokke. Allison Stokke. Allison Stokke. Allison Stokke.

Posted by Ryan at 03:36 PM | Comments (11)

Cool Interview With Iraqi Bloggers

This is cool.

I sometimes wonder, though, if everyone in Iraq is a dentist.

Posted by Ryan at 12:02 PM | Comments (0)

Most of you won't care, but. . .

Okay, so, this just pisses me right off. It probably won't mean anything to any of you readers, but for me it's just plain aggravating.

For those of you who are interested enough to keep reading, DODDS stands for Department of Defense Dependents Schools:

In September, the DODDS-Pacific’s Far East Activities Council decided to limit Far East tennis, cross country and wrestling tournaments to DODDS-Pacific teams only.

DODDS-Pacific’s decision means that, for the first time since the Far East wrestling tournament’s 1976 debut, the event will be without Tokyo powers St. Mary’s International and American School In Japan, teams that have 10 Far East titles between them. And individual stars, such as two-time outstanding wrestler Zolboo Enkhbayar of Brent International in the Philippines, won’t compete.

For me, this is downright personal. A of all, and perhaps most important, my father is the wrestling coach at St. Mary's International, and he has been for about 12 years now. B of all, I won that tournament in 1993, so the thought of other St. Mary's students being unable to compete in it just frosts my balls.

It's the reasoning given for the sudden change in policy that's the most galling. What does DODDS-Pacific’s Far East Activities Council chair Don Hobbs give as the reason for excluding international schools (and a hell of a lot more competition) from Far East Tournament competition?

In a written statement to Stars and Stripes, DODDS-Pacific’s Far East Activities Council chair Don Hobbs said the decision was made at the DODDS-Pacific regional office at Okinawa’s Torii Station, “after receiving input from adminstrators, event directors and a lengthy discussion with district superintendents.”

“The decision was based on a number of factors, including the availability of billeting, facilities, logistics and resources,” Hobbs said in the statement.

Uh huh. Because a tournament that has been run effectively and efficiently since 1976 all of a sudden has these crazy availability concerns. Forgetting, of course, that international schools, like St. Mary's, have said they'd be more than willing to pay for housing off-base.

Teams participating in Far East tournaments are billeted in on-base quarters and play is conducted in DODDS school gyms or other military fitness centers on base.

Lack of billeting due to military exercises forced last year’s Far East wrestling tournament at Yokota Air Base, Japan, to be pushed forward a week and the boys Class A basketball tournament at Osan Air Base, South Korea, to be pushed back a week.

Oh, the inconvenient HORROR!

And, again, this glosses over attempts by international schools, like St. Mary's, to host the Far East Tournament themselves in an attempt to keep the tournament open to all. But, nope, the Council just won't budge.

In an e-mail dated Sunday and sent to St. Mary’s athletics director David Ducharme, DODDS-Pacific’s Far East Activities Council chair Don Hobbs cited the distance between the host venue and the base where DODDS wrestlers would be billeted as the major reason.

“Having participants billeted a considerable distance from the tournament site is asking too much of the wrestlers,” Hobbs said in the e-mail.

It's good to know that Hobbs is such an expert at deciding what is and is not "asking too much of the wrestlers."

But, what if there's another reason for DODDS schools to want to exclude international schools. What other possible reason could there be?

The international schools, mainly from Tokyo, Seoul and Manila have dominated Far East tennis and cross country since the tournaments began in the late 1970s. Only one DODDS-Pacific school, Kadena High on Okinawa, has won an overall team title in either sport, cross country in 1984 and 2002 and tennis in 1989.

And wrestling hasn't done too shabby, either, I might add.

That was not a factor in the decision, according to the Hobbs’ statement, which added that DODDS-Pacific values the long-standing relationship it has had with international schools, who play against DODDS schools in regular-season leagues in Japan and Korea.

Hm hmm. But, the last tournament of the year, the tournament generally understood to be the best showcase for teams and individuals to compete in the region? Well, that's DODDS-only now, because of. . . because of. . . billeting concerns. What a crock.

Now, my father has gone around in circles trying to get this crazy decision reversed, utilizing the very few diplomatic and political avenues available to him. So far, nothing has changed, and nothing probably will, but I think more people should know that the DODDS-Pacific’s Far East Activities Council is being so conveniently exclusionary when it comes to international competition.

Posted by Ryan at 10:07 AM | Comments (1)

December 17, 2004


Yesterday, I was taken down by the mother of all migraines. I slept as long as I could, and then, because you basically can't do anything during a migraine, I laid in bed with my eyes closed, throwing the occasional kitten across the room because their purring made my eyes hurt.

Today, I'll be traveling to the Cities for a Christmas party of sorts--we'll be going bowling--with all my MSP Communications employees. Hopefully, there will be a Christmas bonus forthcoming.

Anyway, the point is, I won't be blogging, probably not until Monday. So, I'll leave you with some pandas photoshopped as Kiss members, and leave it at that.


Posted by Ryan at 09:38 AM | Comments (4)

December 15, 2004

Hey, Look, A Bomb. . .Where Did It Go?

You know, as a guy who is about to get on a plane to Hawaii in a week, I don't find this kind of thing all that encouraging.

Posted by Ryan at 03:47 PM | Comments (2)


There's this. Then there's this.

Hard to believe the same emotion is being expressed in both.

Posted by Ryan at 11:27 AM | Comments (5)

December 14, 2004

Party Down, You Fat Vermin

Alcoholism, overeating chemically linked

KEY QUOTE: A new study examined the behavior of drunken rats, but has implications for humans, researchers say.

Posted by Ryan at 04:39 PM | Comments (0)

Top Of The Head Joke I'm Really Proud Of

Caroline says: how good are you at figuring out roman numerals?

Ryan says: So-so. Sup?

Caroline: What number is this?


Ryan says: You could ask your boyfriend. Of course, he thinks the Honda Civic is a Roman numeral.

Caroline says: Huh?

Ryan says: CIVIC

Caroline says: Does he really?

Ryan says: Jeez, I hope not.

Caroline says: hehehehe

Ryan says: I'm going to be proud of that joke for the rest of the day.

Caroline says: that's a classic

Ryan says: I made an instant classic.

Caroline says: you really did

BY THE WAY: For those of you wondering about the Roman numerals, the answer is "3, 6, 9, 12." I'm not sure of the significance of that, besides them being multiples of three.

Posted by Ryan at 04:12 PM | Comments (2)

December 13, 2004

Twas The Week Before Christmas

Twas the week before Christmas, and the television shows,
They were all really awful, no matter which one I chose.
The remote I kept clicking, but I didn't much care,
'Cause the programs that were airing, filled me with despair.

The History Channel, and I swear this is true,
Was entirely dedicated to World War II.
As they showed yet another battlefield map,
I quite nearly fell into a TV-induced nap.

When up from my floor, there arose such a clatter,
I flicked open my eyes, to see what was the matter.
I had dropped the remote, upon my hardwooden floor.
And it broke, so I couldn't change the channels no more.

Yet the broken remote, despite shattered panels,
Continued to flip through random television channels.
When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a straight guy being dressed by five guys who are queer.

Then the channel, it flipped, to the show Trading Spaces
Of good taste on that show, there are only scant traces.
More rapid than Kerry, the channels, they flipped,
And I spouted adjectives, yes, many I quipped.

"That's AWFUL! That's TERRIBLE! That's DISGUSTING! That's BAD!
That's ANNOYING! That's EXECRABLE! Oh, now I'm just getting MAD!
To the entertainment center, up against the wall!
To you television, I'm oh so appalled!"

On the verge of wet tears, a good hearty cry,
I asked of the television, "Can you please at least try,
To put forth some programs, that aren't quite so awful?
The stuff that you're airing, should be considered unlawful!"

And then, in a twinkling, the channel, it changed,
To a program that can simply be labeled "deranged."
Contestants were required to eat things so gross,
Although I didn't vomit, I came very close.

Just then, I was forced to watch Desperate Housewives,
After that, I'm surprised even one brain cell survives.
They created a show that no one should enjoy,
About unsatisfied women who all crave the pool boy.

I sat there just sweating, shaking, gritting my teeth.
The show couldn't sink any lower, there's no room beneath.
My mouth started to froth, which felt rather strange,
I swayed, somewhat light-headed, waiting for the channel to change.

Just then, the tube flickered, to the show, "The Apprentice,"
Where Donald Trump says, "You're fired," which is considered momentous.
And I sat there and thought, "You know, these shows are all idiotic,
The people who watch these things must be truly psychotic."

I then spoke not a word, but went straight to the tube,
And pushed the "Off" button on that flickering cube.
And then all was silent, except for my thoughts,
Which, as is usual, didn't amount to a lot.

So I sprang to my bookcase, and perused all the titles,
Mental stimulation I sought because, after TV, that was vital.
And I heard my brain exclaim in rapturous delight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and don't watch TV tonight!"

Posted by Ryan at 05:02 PM | Comments (3)

Heal Thy Nation

Dave Barry offers up some words of healing to our post-election country that has been torn asunder.

Best excerpt:

And as Americans, we must ask ourselves: Are we really so different? Must we stereotype those who disagree with us? Do we truly believe that ALL red-state residents are ignorant racist fascist knuckle-dragging NASCAR-obsessed cousin-marrying roadkill-eating tobacco-juice-dribbling gun-fondling religious fanatic rednecks; or that ALL blue-state residents are godless unpatriotic pierced-nose Volvo-driving France-loving left-wing communist latte-sucking tofu-chomping holistic-wacko neurotic vegan weenie perverts?

Yes. This is called ''diversity,'' and it is why we are such a great nation -- a nation that has given the world both nuclear weapons AND SpongeBob Squarepants.

Posted by Ryan at 03:07 PM | Comments (1)

For Your Listening Pleasure

Strong Bad digs playfully at assorted radio genres, and it's a must-watch.

Posted by Ryan at 11:37 AM | Comments (1)

Winter Wonderland

Here in Minnesota, if you're wondering what kind of winter weather to expect, you simply have to consult me, Ryan Rhodes. That's right. Simply watch how I prepare for the winter season, and then do the exact opposite, and you should be adequately prepared.

I'm kind of like a Farmer's Almanac in Bizarro World.

Take, for example, the $600 snowblower I purchased back before Halloween. It was a difficult purchase to make, primarily because it cost $600 which, according to my own calculations, is a lot of freakin' money.

You may be wondering why I didn't just opt for a snow shovel and perform a little good-old-fashioned hard work in the event of a blizzard. Well, generally, I would have no problem with that. In fact, I tend to enjoy shoveling snow, provided I don't have to it every day, in which case I hate shoveling snow.

The problem, this year, is that I now own a house, and my house is on a corner lot, and my lot is half-a-block away from an elementary school, and it's Rochester city policy to demand that I keep my sidewalks free of snow for the toddling toddlers who toddle their way to school every morning. Also, in the interests of avoiding potentially expensive lawsuits from people unable to navigate my sidewalks, it's imperative that I keep my walkways clean and free of snow.

Being that I'm on a corner lot, there's a lot of sidewalk to work with, and because I tend to sleep until the last possible available minute, I don't have a lot of time in the morning to dedicate to shoveling. Therefore, I bought a snowblower.

Now, here it is December 13, and there's no snow on the ground. Granted, it's plenty cold and chilly, but you may be surprised to learn that you can't use a snowblower to clear away any amount of cold and chilly.

Therefore, my $600 purchase remains basically untouched, it's snowblowing capabilities untapped. Sure, I'd be perfectly happy if there would be no snow for the entire winter, which is improbably but, hey, it could happen. Still, I'd sure like that $600 back, if that ends up being the case.

Okay, fine, Kari Byron is one hot female. Kari Byron. Mmm, a Kari Byron. A Kari Byron would be fine.

Posted by Ryan at 11:10 AM | Comments (4)

Roid Rage

So, yesterday, following yet another typical Vikings loss in which those arrogant butt-munches once again went into a game just expecting the other team to hand them the game only to have said team actually play a football game, I then had to watch as the Green Bay Packers went and won another last second victory.

And then I looked at those very large men celebrating on the field, and I started thinking: you know, probably 70 percent or more of those huge sum-bitches are using some sort of steroid or other performance enhancing drug.

I'm not sure I understand the lack of outcry in the wake of an investigation that has uncovered steroid use in such big baseball names as Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi, and possibly sprinter Marion Jones. It's also been generally understood that Mark McGuire used a minor sort of steroid and, quite probably, a few others.

And that's just baseball (and track), which is, for the most part, a non-contact sport. It stands to reason that football players, particularly the hulking masses that defy genetic boundaries, are more than likely awash in some sort of steroid cocktail.

And yet the general consensus from the sports-watching world has been: "Ehhhhhhh."

I've always taken issue with the outrageous paychecks professional athletes recieve. It's just ridiculous to me that people can make millions of dollars based solely on their ability to catch a football, or swing a bat, or make a basket. With a few exceptions, professional athletes, though they can shine on the playing field, are atrocious members of society both in demeanor and speaking skills.

And now we're faced with the uncomfortable reality that these geniuses of physical prowess and not much else, more than very likely attain that level of prowess, not through hard work and dedication, but through chemical enhancement.

I don't know. I guess, for me, it takes something away from the game to realize that the players aren't really playing, well, fair. Sure, you can say "well, they're all doing it, so it's basically fair," but that's not a very convincing argument.

The appeal of professional sports used to be that the people playing were, basically, limited by the same human traits as myself and the rest of the world. To watch sports now, realizing that most of the players are probably all using performance enhancing drugs takes a lot away from the game. At least for me.

Posted by Ryan at 09:51 AM | Comments (1)

December 10, 2004

First Amendment For The Few

Via Shot in the Dark, I came across this little bit of blog bashing spouted forth by one David Paul Kuhn,'s chief political writer. You may remember that CBS not too long ago had a bunch of ankle-biting bloggers come after them for a certain forged memo story. So, they're kinda bitter. The opening paragraph pissed me off immediately:

Internet blogs are providing a new and unregulated medium for politically motivated attacks. With the same First Amendment protections as newspapers, blogs are increasingly gaining influence.

I love that one line about newspapers having First Amendment protections. It's true, of course, freedom of the press and all that. But, it seems to forget that the First Amendment also mentions something about freedom of speech, if I recall correctly, and that freedom is extended to ALL Americans.

It's a funny thing about big media outlets: at some point, they become so inflated by their own perceived self-importance, they begin to believe that the First Amendment somehow belongs to them and only them. They start to believe that the freedom of the press aspect of the First Amendment is somehow more important than freedom of speech. What institutions like CBS fail to grasp is that blogs are more an expression of free speech than they are of freedom of the press, and their failure to understand that will continue to cause them no end of frustration.

But it sure is fun to watch.

Posted by Ryan at 03:06 PM | Comments (2)

December 09, 2004

Holiday Spirit

Good old Lily needed a lift in her Christmas spirit.

I, naturally, thought of this.

I'm so going to hell. But I'll be laughing.

Posted by Ryan at 03:28 PM | Comments (1)

Women I'd Like To Pork

Ryan says: Newsflash. Apparently, Lindsay Lohan, that breasty redhead teen heart-throb, can't sing for shit:,2933,140970,00.html

Caroline says: duh

Ryan says: She's still hot though. I'd do her.

Ryan says: Which is kind of like saying "I'll breathe air today."

Caroline says: Oh, c'mon. You wouldn't do just anyone.

Ryan says: Well, no, but it's common sense that I'd pork Lohan, if the opportunity presented itself.

Caroline says: ok

Ryan says: Kind of like you and Steve Buscemi.

Caroline says: she's not that pretty without makeup

Ryan says: So?

Ryan says: It's not like I'd stick around long enough to see her without makeup.

Ryan says: Salma Hayek is still tops, of course.

Ryan says: Or bottom, if she prefers that.

Ryan says: But Lohan is still hot. Especially when she shows off her bodyLohan . Or her Lohan breast, for that matter. Lindsay Lohan. Lindsay Lohan. Girl.

Posted by Ryan at 11:06 AM | Comments (14)

December 08, 2004


Bush to MLB: take 'strong steps' on steroids

Well, that might require more steroids, but okay.

Posted by Ryan at 04:38 PM | Comments (1)


So, this Star-Tribune opinion piece opens with the following sentence:

Now that Colin Powell has been emancipated from the Bush administration, he has an opportunity to bring leadership to the single most important domestic issue facing our nation.

Emancipated? EMANCIPATED?! Does that newspaper even HAVE editors?

UPDATE: Keep in mind, also, that the rest of the Op-Ed piece has precious little to do with Powell leaving the Bush administration, which begs the question: why open the piece with such a racially-inflaming literary device? It makes no sense. But, that's just me, I guess.

Posted by Ryan at 10:39 AM | Comments (16)

December 06, 2004

You Know What I Miss?

I miss the Plain Layne comment threads.

I mean, every day, I miss them.


Posted by Ryan at 01:24 PM | Comments (35)

December 03, 2004

Bath Time

When I mention to people that I take bubble baths on occasion, I get the standard quizzical look one might give if a swine-like animal swooped by on a set of plush, feathery wings.

If I'm to understand the quizzical looks correctly, I assume that it's generally assumed that men don't take baths, or at least they're not supposed to. Come to think of it, I can't recall any commercials that feature a guy lathering himself up in a tub full of bubbles, but there are plenty that feature guys in showers. But, maybe I'm thinking about this too hard.

The point is that, yes, I take bubble baths, and I enjoy them, damnit.

Well, as of a couple months ago, I now have two kittens running around my housed and, as is to be expected of kittens, they're curious about pretty much everything, and the bathtub is no exception.

When I take a bath, one or both kittens will hop up on the side of the tub, and stare down at the water below with a look that combines absolute awe with trepidation and fear.

You have to understand, one of the ways I use to train the kittens not to do something I dissaprove of is to sprtiz them with a water bottle. It's gotten to the point that I don't even have to spritz them; I just have to reach for the bottle and they go tearing out of the room. In other words, the kittens view water as an annoying weapon of control. To see me laying naked in a tub of water must seem like a god-like act to them.

Well, one evening awhile back, I was laying back, enjoying a nice hot bubble bath, reading a book. As expected, one of the kittens was perched on the side of the tub, watching me intently. The other kitten was off in another room, playing with an empty plastic bottle.

Eventually, the kitten with the bottle must have realized that his brother wasn't playing with him, so he ambled on into the bathroom to see what was up. That's when he spied his brother's twitching tail and decided to attack it.

What transpired was something that I've taken to calling "The Incident."

Taken totally by surprise when his brother bit his tail, the kitten, which had previously been safely perched atop the side of the tub, found himself in the tub with me, and he was none too happy about the situation. The yowls and howls that poured forth could have been heard in Kentucky. And the kitten was making a lot of noise, too.

Why was I yowling and howling? Because, in that instant, I went from a relaxing bath, to dodging a feline cuisinart that was mad at everything in the world. I instinctively cupped my exposed genitalia to protect them from the slashing and flailing kitty claws. I still took a minor slice to the chest but, considering the vast amount of exposed flesh the kitten had to work with, it was a minor miracle I escaped with such a minor wound.

I managed to flop my way up and out of the tub, all the while cupping Dickey and boys which, although they can't speak, I know they were very appreciative.

Wrapping my hand in a towel, I was able to scoop the kitten up and out of the tub, and he wasted no time running to the only carpeted room in the house, where he rolled around for a good half hour attempting to dry himself.

And the moral of this story? I don't think there is one, but I sure do close the bathroom door any time I take a bath now.

Posted by Ryan at 05:05 PM | Comments (15)

Something's Gotta Give

So, the girlfriend and I were watching Something's Gotta Give recently, and there's this scene where the two main characters are about to prepare pancakes. The following dialogue ensued between Melissa and myself:

ME: Why is she going to the refridgerator? Since when do you keep pancakes in the fridge?

MEL: It looks like she's getting eggs.

ME: Oh.

MEL: But, why would you put eggs in pancakes?

ME: You always put eggs in pancakes. Eggs are an important ingredient.

MEL: I guess I'm just used to the powder.

ME: Well, yeah, but you always put eggs in the powder.

MEL: Oh, well, come to think of it, I've never actually made pancakes.

*an insane amount of laughter followed*

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

December 01, 2004

Thinking About Blogs

So, I'm watching all the archeological turnover of the network news fossils, such as Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw, and I got to thinking about something.

Dan Rather, quite probably, saw his twilight years forever besmirched by a throng of pajama-clad anklebiters who just happened to notice that he relied on obviously forged documents to augment an "investigative" report. He then later went on to criticize the "blogging machine" for running rampant with leaked early exit polls, even though those polls were leaked by folks within the established media.

Then there's Tom Brokow who--although he himself wasn't chopped off at the knees by alert pajamahadeen--did at one point say bloggers amounted to "political jihad."

I have a problem with such a dismissive attitude towards blogs, and not simply because I'm a blogger. I certainly don't equate myself with the amazing bloggers who sniffed out forged memos within hours of a broadcast. Hell, the epitome of my online sleuthing only helped to expose a 30+ year old man masquerading as a bi-sexual Web diarist. Hardly Pulitzer-level investigation.

But blogs, to me, represent a growing influence that acts as a sorely needed check on the mainstream media. Prior to blogs, your best chance to be heard by Dan Rather would be to call CBS and listen to Muzak for four hours only to leave a message with an underling that was never returned. Or, you could write a letter to the editor, only to have a newspaper edit your words, at best, or not run it at all, at worst.

Now, with blogs, if you have something you want to vent, you can vent it, or if you smell bullshit, you can yell "BULLSHIT!" If you think Trent Lott said some pretty racist-sounding things, you can write about it and whip up such an online froth that the man steps down as Senate majority leader.

I can see why the likes of Rather and Brokaw can't understand the value of bloggers. To them, the idea that somebody tapping on a laptop while taking a crap could produce a thought-provoking post that can whip its way around the globe within hours and actually become a type of news is positively terrifying. From where I sit, however, it's one of the most self-empowering tools to emerge in this high technology age.

It wouldn't be bothering me so much because, after all, Brokaw and Rather are on their way out, and Jennings will no doubt be close behind. But then, you have people like Bill O'Reilly saying things like:

The reason these net people get away with all kinds of stuff is that they work for no one. They put stuff up with no restraints. This, of course, is dangerous, but it symbolizes what the Internet is becoming.

It's that nasty old free speech thing that O'Reilly just can't condone.

Or you have Brian Williams saying something like bloggers are:

on an equal footing with someone in a bathroom with a modem.

I don't know. I guess it would be nice if so-called young blood like Williams had a better understanding of just how powerful bloggers are right now, and just how powerful they're going to be in a few more years. As a single unit, a blog isn't much, but when you get a few hundred or thousand galvanized together sniffing out a bogus story, they can be more powerful than any network news outlet.

You'd think they'd start to realize that.

Posted by Ryan at 04:24 PM | Comments (7)

Of Mice And Men

I watch the advancement of computer mouse technology with a touch of bemusement. Of all the little components that make up today's desktop computer, I've always thought that the mouse should just remain simple. Instead, they're growing entirely too complex.

My initial mouse training came about in high school, working on the then-revolutionary Macintosh. The mouse was a simple thing: a single button hunk of oval plastic that took a maximum of two minutes to master.

There was even a brief tutorial program on the Mac that taught students the nuances of clicking and dragging, and the excessively difficult maneuver known as double-clicking. It was a silly little program, but seeing as how there was precious little else to do with the Mac, roughly 98 percent of my classmates probably ran through the tutorial six or seven times just for the heck of it.

I continued to use the single-button mouse for many years, but then a little company known as Microsoft came about and unveiled an operating system called Windows 95. Perhaps you've heard of it.

Windows 95 was an operating system that revolutionized the world of home computing. For the first time, millions of Americans could experience the joy and wonder of having their computers lock up and crash for no apparent reason. Almost overnight, people learned the hidden meaning behind the term Ctrl+Alt+Delete, affectionately referred to as the "three finger salute."

Windows 95 also prompted a revolution in mouse technology, introducing a second button. I'm not sure why, exactly, but whereas I was able to learn the single button in under two minutes, it took me an eternity to get used to that infernal second button. But, because all the really cool computer games supported Windows 95 rather than Macintosh, I had no choice but to endure the new double button mouse.

Then, as the Internet became an indispensable part of our daily lives, the mouse powers that be decreed that a third button should be placed between the two main buttons, and that button eventually morphed into a scrolling wheel which, for some reason that still escapes me, I JUST HAD TO HAVE.

From there, mouse developers just started going crazy. Mice were introduced that had as many as seven or eight buttons. Apparently, the developers forgot that the standard issue human hand only features five fingers.

Still other mice make use of the revolutionary track-ball technology, which, if you've ever attempted to use, is kind of like trying to navigate an airplane through a hurricane using nothing but your thumb and forefinger.

As you may have surmised, I had to purchase a new mouse over the weekend, because my old mouse--a five button optical mouse with scrolling wheel--up and died on me Saturday night. It's sad when a computer mouse dies; the cursor just kind of hangs there on the screen, unmoving. It's the computer equivalent of a flatline.

My new mouse features yet another innovation that strikes me as unnecessary, but which I had to have nonetheless: wireless technology. Using it, I could, if the mood so strikes me, walk as far away as eight feet from my computer and still move the cursor, all without the maddening limitations of a traditional, wire-bound mouse.

Now I just have to sit back and wait for my keyboard to up and croak, because there are some really cool keyboard innovations available. You still have to type Ctrl+Alt+Delete though. I know this because my computer crashed while I was installing the mouse software.

Ain't technology grand?

Posted by Ryan at 12:22 PM | Comments (3)
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