October 29, 2013

"Glitch Girl" Abandons ObamaCare Website

Unknown ACA Covergirl Last Seen With Max Headroom

WASHINGTON D.C. (Rhodes Media Services) -- The smiling face that has become synonymous with the most fantastic Web site roll out disaster in history has inexplicably disappeared from the catastrophically plagued Affordable Care Act (ACA) Web page.

The woman's identity remains a closely guarded secret, although sources close to Rhodes Media Services say there may be clues hidden in the NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden.

Some of the "best and brightest" who have been brought in to untangle the Christmas light bolus that is the ACA Web site said they have seen the ObamaCare covergirl--nicknamed "Glitch Girl"--over the past couple weeks only fleetingly, but they confess her demeanor and personal appearance have deteriorated considerably.

"Oh, yeah, I totally saw her sitting in a corner, weeping, with an empty bottle of Boone's Farm clutched in her hand," said Jeffrey Chihuk, a recent computer science graduate from Scranton Community College, who has been updating the Blogger front end code for the ACA site. "A girl programmer I know said she saw her balled up in the fetal position in the girl's shower room."

Another programmer, who was working his way through a 12-pack of Mountain Dew and several Red Bulls said he could have sworn he saw "Glitch Girl" making out with 80s technology icon Max Headroom, but he admitted he may have been hallucinating because he hasn't slept in three weeks.

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

October 25, 2013

Obama Blames Republicans for Inability to Blame Republicans

President upset with lack of finger-pointing options

WASHINGTON D.C. (Rhodes Media Services) -- With his signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act (ACA--better known as ObamaCare--deteriorating on a daily basis, President Obama is lamenting the complete lack of blame he can pin on Republicans.

Standing in the Rose Garden, flanked by a gallery of people who aren't Republicans that he has had to blame instead for the disastrous ACA rollout, the President gestured to the people and expressed his disgust that not one of them was a Republican.

"For the sake of clarity, let me be perfectly clear: these fine, incompetent people behind me, they should be Republicans," said the President. "But, they're not. They're unfortunate second-rate programmers, middle managers, and even some random people I pulled off the street, who I had to wag my finger at in a disappointing manner in an attempt to distance myself from this catastrophic legislative embarrassment. No one is madder than me that not one of these people is a Republican."

Because not a single Republican in the House or Senate voted for the ACA, and because the ACA carries with it the name "ObamaCare," Obama has found it very difficult to deflect blame from Democrats generally and himself particularly for the ongoing rollout failure.

Obama, who at times openly embraced the term "ObamaCare" before the rollout, has subsequently attempted to refer to the healthcare reform as the "Affordable Care Act," although he was overheard on a hot mic suggesting renaming it "RepubliCare," just so he could almost blame something resembling a Republican.

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October 21, 2013

A View to a Kill

The Rochester Post-Bulletin ran an "Our View" piece on Saturday that would have been amusing if it weren't so downright gleeful about a government capable of putting a severed horse head in everybody's bed. We'll get to that analogy at the end.

Our View: Individual mandate's tax penalty is small — for now

Naysayers regarding Minnesota's state-run health insurance exchange are having a field day with the news that since MNsure's launch nearly three weeks ago, only 5,569 applications for insurance have been completed, covering 11,684 people, and only 3,769 applicants have actually enrolled in a health plan.

I wouldn't say I'm having a field day, necessarily, but I have been considering the irony that what's playing out with MNsure is eerily similar to the e-gaming implosion that was supposed to fund the Vikings new Jawa sandcrawler stadium.

Given that Minnesota has 490,000 uninsured residents, it would be generous to say that enrollment so far is a drop in the bucket.

Yes. Yes, that would be generous.

But some context is in order.

Oh, good, I always enjoy when the P-B attempts some "context."

People still have more than two months to shop before the Jan. 1 deadline. Furthermore, we can't blame would-be customers from staying out of the fray for a while, giving state officials a chance to work the bugs out of an online purchasing system that, although better than the federal exchange, has been far from perfect.

In, other words, just give it time. Let it work out the kinks. It's odd, but I seem to remember reading something similar once. . . Oh, right:

Our View: Give e-gaming a chance to finds its footing

That was an "Our View" that was penned after the P-B sat down with the executive director and chief PR lackey for the Allied Charities of Minnesota. And the P-B fawningly wrote "He opened our eyes." Way to be objective, guys. Anyway, they wrote that back in April, and stated: "By January 2014, the projected e-gaming shortfall could be far less than is anticipated right now, and given that the state has yet to spend a dime on the stadium, there's no reason to rush."

Fast-forward to September, and the P-B lifted a MPR story:

A year later, why electronic pulltab gambling flopped

So, there's reason to wonder if the P-B has the necessary prognostic credibility to wax optimistic about MNsure.

We believe there might be another cause for people's reluctance to push the "buy" button.

The penalty for failing to do so isn't very severe.

Leaving aside the fact there shouldn't be a penalty AT ALL, I find it curious that the P-B would use the term "severe," an adjective I usually associate with "burns" or "beating."

One of the less-talked-about aspects of the Affordable Care Act is the tax penalty that could be imposed on those who fail to purchase health insurance.

Less talked about? Really? Maybe if you happen to have been living in a cave, on Mars, with your fingers in your ears, yelling "LALALALALALALALALA!" Then, maybe, MAYBE you have reason to believe the penalty has been "less talked about."

For an individual in 2014, the penalty is $95 or 1 percent of taxable income, whichever is greater.

Sounds like a cakewalk, provided you're an individual, and not, say, a family of four, or something crazy like that. But, let's let the P-B take us down the path of "Hypothetical World," which is apparently populated by single, middle-aged office grunts in a dead-end job, like a newspaper or something.

Let's say an unmarried, self-employed 45-year-old Rochester resident who has $40,000 in taxable income per year is weighing her options. She discovers that she'll pay nearly $400 per month for "Silver" coverage purchased through MNsure, and that's with a $3,000 annual deductible. Furthermore, because of her income, she'll get no federal subsidy.

Plus, her biological clock is ticking in overdrive, and she and the chick from "Life of Julia" are totally going clubbing after work because sometimes they just "have to dance."

So, should she risk a $400 penalty and roll the dice that she doesn't get sick, or should she play it safe — and pay thousands of dollars in health-care premiums?

Well, that depends. Considering she totally needs to get pregnant, pronto, lest she die a withered old spinster. So, she might want to pony up for the silver coverage in the off chance she can score some solid sperm-y swimmers from an unsuspecting bar dude, provided he doesn't decide to go home with "Life of Julia" instead.

We'd prefer that everyone purchase health insurance, but it simply stands to reason that a lot of people will do the math and say, "Maybe next year."

Well, you know, unless you're 20 years old, in which case you can do the math and say "Well, crap, I don't have to buy insurance until I'm 26, so long as my parents are ponying up the dough."

Maybe next year indeed. In 2015, people will have a greater incentive to buy health insurance, as the potential penalties will increase dramatically — up to 2 percent of taxable income, or $975 for a family. By 2016, the total tax penalty for a family that still hasn't purchased health insurance will top $2,000.

This word the P-B uses. . . "incentive." I do not think it means what they think it means. I believe the term they intended to use was "coercion," or "overreach," or "bending over and grabbing the ankles."

That's why we believe it could be at least a year, perhaps more, before we'll have a clear picture of how MNsure and Obamacare as a whole are functioning.

Perhaps, but THAT'S NOT HOW THIS TRAIN WRECK WAS SOLD TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE! They've had over three years to ponder, architect and implement this lugubrious legislative face plant, with the belief people would flock to purchase insurance, the clouds would part, and angels would descend singing "Hallelujah." Instead, not only has enrollment been initially dismal, in a lot of instances people who want to enroll simply can't. And now we're being told "Well, give it at least a year." Talk about lowered expectations.

Right now, people are being asked to purchase health insurance, and some will say "No." But the day will come when that invitation will be more like an offer they can't afford to refuse.

Yeah, they actually wrote that last line. The P-B seems pretty gosh darn okay with the government playing the role of "Vito Corleone."

That should tell you something right there.

Posted by Ryan at 12:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 18, 2013

The Passion of the Christ

One thing I've grown to appreciate repairing old furniture is Phillips head screws. Slotted screws are just plain dumb, and they strip faster than Miley Cyrus. Jesus was a carpenter. He died on a CROSS. He didn't die for the sins of man, he was passionately marketing Phillips head screws. True story.

Posted by Ryan at 12:09 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 17, 2013

Obama: Stop Listening to People I Disagree With

President urges Americans to stop thinking critically

WASHINGTON D.C. (Rhodes Media Services) -- Fresh off his victory of ending the partial government shutdown and basically re-establishing the status quo, President Obama today spoke to reporters and insisted that Americans should really stop thinking critically and should not listen to people who disagree with him.

"All of us need to stop focusing on the lobbyists and the bloggers and the talking heads on radio and the professional activists who profit from conflict," the President actually said, without even a wink of irony to the mainstream media.

Obama went on to stress that people who disagree with him and his policies tend to be "radicals," "extremists," "terrorists," "kidnappers," "jerks" and "poopyheads."

"The First Amendment is an incredibly important and cherished component of the United States Constitution," Obama explained. "However, my understanding as a Constitutional law professor is that it probably doesn't apply to any speech or writing that I tend to disagree with. I think freedom of speech and the press should only be applicable when it's about how awesome and right I am."

Many members of the press were quick to agree with the President's superior logic, common sense and charismatic denunciation of the First Amendment. Paul Krugman, Pulitzer prize-winning columnist for the New York Times said the President's statements were "erudite" and "dreamy," while E.J." Dionne, columnist for the Washington Post said it was "the most important and correct assessment of the First Amendment ever spoken."

While the President stopped short of advocating the arrest and punishment of those who spoke or wrote about anything he doesn't personally agree with or like all that much, he encouraged Americans to look down on anyone who speaks or writes such things and to "make their lives as uncomfortable as possible until they come to their senses."

"Let me be clear: some bloggers, in particular, really annoy me," Obama said. "Especially that Rambling Rhodes guy. Yeah, he may be hilarious, insightful, and even occasionally profound, but he's always making fun of me, and I can't stand that. I'm not sure how anyone could make his life any worse, but I encourage Americans to try."

Posted by Ryan at 10:47 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 16, 2013

One Tablet A Day

I'm trying to re-learn how to computer.

That sentence makes no sense, but it accurately reflects my feelings regarding the infernal Samsung tablet computer that has taken up residence in our household.

I realize technology marches on, whether I want it to or not, but the little-uttered secret the technology peddlers aren't telling us is that all the handheld devices, "smart" phones and, yes, tablets, are just stripped down, less powerful versions of the desktop computers I've grown to know, love and depend on.

Seriously, desktop computers were really hitting their stride around 2007--they were packed with hard drive capacity, RAM and every single, necessary application (app) anyone could possibly expect to require or use.

And then someone came along--I'll call him Steve Jobs--and started carving up desktop computers into iPhones and iPads. Jobs is dead now, but his legacy is starkly apparent every time you see someone jab a finger at a screen or say something stupid like "To the Cloud!."

I stubbornly resisted the evolution to tablet computing because I know my way around the PC environment extremely well. Plus, my computer mouse has that comforting and familiar film of hand grime that's been accumulating for several years.

Still, a couple months ago, my wife was enticed by a tablet demonstration at Best Buy, and before I knew what happened we were out a few hundred bucks and we had a Samsung tablet in our house.

And then I was told to set up the tablet to feed off our home's WiFi, and I've been simultaneously hating and loving that tablet ever since.

I hate it because it's NOT QUITE like a PC. It's close, but the Android operating system throws enough Linux curve balls my way that it's like fumbling my way through a dark room searching for a light switch.

I also hate it because the touch screen is. . . well. . . it's TOUCHY. With a keyboard and mouse, it's a pretty safe bet that I won't pull up a stray, unknown application. With a touchscreen, I can't compose an e-mail without accidentally pulling up five games, the weather forecast, and 18 pictures my four-year-old son inadvertently snapped of his feet.

However, I love it because it's also the ultimate toddler silencing device ever constructed. My son and daughter can be yammering at each other like howler monkeys, but as soon as I toss the tablet between them, it's like a cone of calm descends over the house. They do occasionally fight over it, but for the most part it acts like a snootful of chloroform.

We have to be very careful to never, ever, enter credit card information into the tablet, or let the tablet come into contact with a credit card, or to let a credit card flirt with the tablet from across the room, because if we do, our four-year-old son will have us $18,000 in debt within two hours after he downloads 14 million apps. Seriously, he's gotten a hold of Grandma's smartphone and racked up around $20 in downloads, so he's entirely capable of accidentally ruining us.

Even with the credit card limitation, it's astonishing how many "free" apps my son is able to download in a single day. Every evening, I find myself deleting at least two dozen of them. The apps he downloads are almost all games of some sort, and he figures out how to play them all within minutes. It takes me longer to delete them then it takes him to learn them.

Ultimately, I think I hate the tablet mostly because my son is figuring it out faster than I can.

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October 15, 2013

To be fair, Chinese Food is pretty good

Here at Rambling Rhodes, the staff is dedicated to propagating the appreciation for musical prodigies in the vein of Rebecca Black, especially when the associated video borders on obscenely, deliciously, hilariously racist.


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October 11, 2013

The Revitalizing Power of Zebra Penises

This probably won't mean much to any of you two people who actually still follow this ThunderJournal, but there's major road work taking place in front of our store. The road definitely needed to be upgraded, since it was like driving on the lunar surface.

That said, this isn't just some minor blacktop upgrade; they're completely tearing everything out and putting down a brand new blanket of concrete, complete with new medians (one right in front of store, thank you very much--stores love having a barricade keeping an entire side of traffic from being able to turn in to their parking lot), extensive planters, bus shelters, and glorious new zebra penis monoliths!

Zebra what now?

Okay, they're not actually called zebra penises, but that's basically what they look like to me, and I'm betting you'll agree. You see, I was steered towards an online PowerPoint presentation that shows what the 2nd St. SW, Rochester, MN road revitalization project will entail, and it entails towering zebra penises.

It's part of a larger attempt to re-brand our little section of Rochester, MN as "Uptown," which means "Not Downtown," from what I can understand. Basically, the city of Rochester looked at its basket of discretionary taxpayer lucre and said "Let's waste some of this here money! The taxpayers aren't using it! Hell, they just gave it to us, after all!"

And thus zebra penises were approved.

"Oh, Ryan," you say. "Surely you're exaggerating."

No. No, I'm not.


"Oh, Ryan," you say. "That doesn't look at all like. . . um. . . damn. Would you look at that zebra penis?"

So, how did this zebra penis "art" come to pass? Well, like all good city planners who think highly of themselves and their intellects when they really shouldn't, it started with a quote:


It must be difficult to write something as pretentious as:

"a love of all things water-related, Anne Jefferson blends hydrology, geomorphology, geology, and climate change in her work. She has a Ph.D. from Oregon State University and is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geology at Kent State University, Ohio."

A love of all things water-related? Does that include drowning?

Anyway, from that long-winded quote, the PowerPoint presentation goes here:


Fascinating. From there, the PPT rambles for a few slides, so I'll just provide a quick PhotoShop of my own explaining how the whole flow chart works:


This is apparently what happens when you "blend hydrology, geomorphology, geology, and climate change in your work." You end up with huge zebra penises. Consider yourself warned.

Technically, the zebra penises are referred to as "Urban Markers." A city needs Urban Markers, apparently, so people are made adequately aware that they're in an urban environment, just in case all the people, buildings, traffic, businesses and human activity somehow escapes notice.


We begin with an African American male laughing with two translucent females. The male is even sort of cupping his groin, indicating he's making a not-too-subtle joke about the looming zebra penis in front of them.


The artist called this piece "Zebra Penis at Dusk." Thomas Kincade had nothing on this guy's mastery of light. He's also a mastershader, I'm betting.


This piece is titled "Pigeon Looking Down on Zebra Penis." Honestly, I can't believe no one raised a hand during the presentation and yelled "ZEBRA PENIS!"


The artist was kept up at nights, trying to come up with a title for this slide. Then, one night, he sat bolt upright and yelled "Woman Prefers Bifurcated Zebra Penis!"


During one city planning meeting, a member spoke up and said "Look, I love the whole zebra penis concept. However, I just don't think a huge, erect African equus phallic symbol is suggestive enough. Is there a way we can incorporate the word "UP" into this wasteful and pointless monument somehow?" And the artist said "NO PROBLEM!"


When it comes to wasting taxpayer money on "art," no single zebra penis will suffice. If the funds are available for a large zebra penis, surely there's more available for a bunch of lesser zebra penises (equus penii?). What I like about this is it looks like the smaller zebra penises are following in a line behind the adult zebra penis, like ducks, or geese, or ZEBRA PENISES!


To make this more accurate, the guy standing in front of the zebra penis should be holding a cardboard sign that reads "Homeless. Please help. God bless." Not sure what the guy in the foreground is contemplating. Perhaps he dropped his wallet in the garden in front of him?


Never underestimate the power of symmetric, evenly-spaced zebra penises. You know you're in a powerhouse urban environment when there's a surplus of zebra penis monuments.


The man is sitting there, pondering which was a bigger waste of taxpayer money: the zebra penis on the left, the bench he's sitting on, or the bus stop that looks like it's half full of water--I'd say it's half empty.


The contractor had to include some shameless pandering, of course. Before today, when you heard "Mayo Clinic," you'd think "world class healthcare establishment." Now, thanks to me, when you hear "Mayo Clinic," you'll think "ZEBRA PENIS!"

Posted by Ryan at 02:54 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 05, 2013

Federal Health Exchange Takedown Bush's Fault

Officials Say Eight Years of IT Infrastructure Neglect Deemed Culprit

WASHINGTON D.C. (Rhodes Media Services) -- The problem-plagued federal healthcare exchange Web site had to be taken down over the weekend, a direct result of failed IT infrastructure investment during the George W. Bush administration, according to Obama White House officials.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a press conference Saturday that the previous administration spent too much time and money on unnecessary wars when it should have been improving HTML, XML, Java, OS/2 and DOS.

"When you have eight consecutive years of IT infrastructure neglect, this is what you should expect," said Carney. "In fact, it's to our credit that the healthcare exchange roll out has been as successful as it has, considering the terrible performance of the Bush administration. I mean, you just can't expect us to click a mouse and fix that much neglect in three years. That's ludicrous."

Carney then went on to list a number of IT acronyms that he insisted were extremely important.

"I mean, just think about CRM," he said. "Really, THINK about CRM! There, you've just thought about CRM more than anyone in the previous administration ever did. For that matter, SOA. Yeah, SOA, I said SOA. Did Bush ever say SOA? Also, VM, PowerVM, RISC, CICS, CPU, BDSM!"

When asked why he didn't include UNIX, AIX or Linux, Carney testily responded "Linux? You mean Lucy's brother? The thumb sucking kid with the blanket? Yeah, I guess he's a lot like Bush, sure."

Posted by Ryan at 11:59 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 03, 2013

White People Need To Collect Minorities

ST. PAUL, Minn., (Rhodes Media Services) -- White Americans need to start collecting minority friends, according to an organization dedicated to improving race relations in this country.

A Reuters poll conducted back in August found as much as 40 percent of white Americans are surrounded by acquaintances comprised almost exclusively of their own race.

Minnesota Public Radio this morning dedicated a portion of their broadcast to exploring why such a disparity exists, including opening the lines up for listener feedback.

One organization, however, believes such discussions simply aren't enough, and that a concerted effort and ongoing action is necessary to ensure white Americans keep an adequate number of non-white friends on hand at all times to prove their commitment to racial diversity in their personal lives.

Sharon Ogilvy, executive director of the Society to Lift Acquisition of Vital Emerging Racial Yields, explains that promoting diversity requires establishing minority quotas in our daily lives.

"White Americans need to look at their social circles and determine where they can include a minority," she says. "Then, go out and specifically select a minority person or people to keep in their lives. Once you have minorities in your life, you should take special care to keep tabs on those racial acquisitions. Maintain detailed spreadsheets on all your minority friends, including any identifying characteristics. You should do your very best to make it extremely difficult for your minority acquaintances to leave your social circle."

To accomplish this, Ogilvy suggests regularly inviting minority acquaintances over for barbecues, and then segueing the visit into assisting in minor household tasks, such as gardening or general yard work.

"I've found that my minority friends appreciate being thought of as useful to me," explains Ogilvy. "My black friends, particularly, seem to thoroughly enjoy doing modest housekeeping work, like cooking and cleaning. It makes me feel good to know they feel good, and I'm promoting diversity in my daily life while being able to get off my feet for awhile, which is nice."

Ogilvy maintains an impressive collection of several dozen minority acquaintances, comprised of Latinos, African Americans, Asians and even some Indians and Middle Easterners.

"My Indian friends--dot, not feathers--are just excellent about answering my phone, and you can't beat the yard work and landscaping my Latino friends are capable of," she says. "My Asian friends are great for tutoring my children in math, but I would NEVER allow them to drive my kids anywhere. I keep my Middle Eastern friends at a bit of a distance, but they make the most AMAZING rugs."

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

October 01, 2013

No Longer In Training

Well, my boy is finally potty trained. Actually, he attained the Nirvana level of “Trained of the Potty” several weeks ago, but I didn’t write about the accomplishment back then, because I feared he’d regress to un-potty trained after I posted this, thereby making me a liar—and I take my ThunderJournal reporting integrity and credibility quite seriously.

When we started on the journey of potty training our boy many, many, MANY months ago, my wife and I took it all as an extremely important undertaking, reading as much as we could and listening to the advice of friends and family members. After about three months of our boy steadfastly refusing to consider the wonders of the commode, I started to envision sending him off to college with a box full of custom-made diapers, because it honestly seemed to be an easier and more plausible outcome.

When you have more than one child wearing diapers, the added expense can be considerable. Every time I change a diaper, I swear I can hear the soft “Ka-Jing” of a cash register as I deposit the soiled mass in the diaper receptacle. So, potty training at least one of our two little poop factories was very important to me just from a financial standpoint. My boy, however, seemed to relish his role as a financial diaper burden.

After exhausting all the advice of the “experts” online and in parenting magazines—which are, in my opinion, just page after page of guesses and lies—we finally opted for the advice my mother gave me about how she potty trained my brother and me. Specifically, she just let us run around naked from the waist down until nature and shame took its inevitable course.

It may sound severe, but we were out of options, patience and diapers, so we allowed our boy to treat our home as his own personal nudist colony. While he genuinely seemed to enjoy the freedom nudity provided him, whenever nature started knocking, he’d begin screaming and demanding a diaper. The urge to give in to his full volume demands was intense, but we held firm. Unfortunately, so did he. While he never deposited a loaf anywhere in the house, his digestive system apparently decided to put everything into an indefinite holding pattern. Such was his determination against serving the bowl.

So, now we had a constipated nudist on our hands. We therefore had to resort to Miralax and a variety of poo-inducing foods. Still, days crept by, and each time we directed him to the porcelain throne, he reacted as if it was a sacrificial cistern of no return.

Finally, the day arrived when the packing of his digestive musket simply had to be discharged. He was playing Nintendo Wii at the time, standing on the Balance Board, when I noticed an escapee trying to break free. I quickly snatched him up and planted him on the toilet seat. He looked up at me with a defiant glare, but the glare quickly softened to a sort of Zen acceptance. That was followed by deep, throaty grunts, at which point I left him alone in the bathroom to complete his triumph.

And a triumph it was!! After about ten minutes, he came hopping, HOPPING, out of the bathroom, yelling “I DID IT! I DID IT! I DID IT!” Of course, all household participants were required to hover over the bowl and inspect his handiwork—which, following three days of constipation, was humongous—and exclaim such accolades as “THAT’S AWESOME!” and “YOU’RE A BIG BOY NOW!” and “WOW, THAT’S AMAZING!”

And that was pretty much the end of the stalemate, although there was some resistance to performing a second act. But, when the time came, he knew what he had to do. He looked up from his coloring book, and did a slow, determined “Green Mile” sort of march down the hall to the bathroom. To his credit, he even closed the door behind him, which is something even I fail to do on occasion. Once again, we were treated to a round of “I DID IT!” And, he’s been fairly. . . er. . . regular, ever since.

Now, his younger sister, on the other hand. . .

Posted by Ryan at 12:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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