Thursday, August 30, 2007

"Private Eyes Are Watching You"

I'm not going to lie to you: Hall and Oates don't rock.

But sometimes their lyrics are appropriate. For instance, when blogging about a coworker who's hired a private eye, you might want to start off by quoting a Hall and Oates lyric as the title. I know I just did.

So I work with a woman who has hired a private eye. Why? Because she's got more drama in her life than the entire rest of the office combined. The most dramatic thing that ever happened in my life (my sister's family had an adoption fall through) wouldn't even make this lady's weekly Top Ten list. Here are some of her typical events:

  • After much consideration, I can't type the things she does. They are hilarious and numerous, but they are so outlandish that there is no way a family member of hers would not recognize her from the description of the crazy things that have happened in her life.

It pains me, because I really want to tell you all the wacky stories I've heard here at work over the past two years. But my question is: who hires a private eye? Seriously. My brother-in-law's friend is a private eye. If you suspect your spouse is cheating, just take the afternoon off work and trail him. It will be cheaper than hiring someone. And it's a lot less white trash.

Speaking of white trash, I think my family is. Not me, the misses, and the kids. I mean my parents and their kids. My mother's family would probably agree that she married into a hillbilly clan, and now my younger brother's wife's family thinks the same thing. When some of my family members went out to decorate my brother's car before he left the wedding reception, my sister-in-law's brother-in-law told us that they thought it was "disrespectful." Man, if he thought that was disrespectful, what would he have said had he been there at one o'clock that night when I called my brother's cell phone just because "I felt like a chat"? (My brother didn't answer.)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Hate Mail

I find I'm no longer entertained by writing for the paper this semester. It was new and exciting last year, but now it's just one more boring thing I have to do. But one thing that I've found that will spice things up is antagonizing my angry public on the paper's online forum.

Like most newspapers with an online version, the paper maintains a discussion forum where crackpots can vent from the comfort of their padded cells. All it takes is a keyboard, an Internet connection, and a deep-seated conviction that "Bush lied" (you don't even have to say what he lied about), and you, too, can be an online weirdo.

So yesterday I registered for a discussion account under my real name and I started responding to the whack-jobs. Not that I'm calling them Nazis or anything; I'm just responding civilly.

It's pretty fun. However, one thing that is sort of annoying about it is that they know my name, major, and year in school and can incorporate that information into their personal attacks, while I'm responding to people with names like "hrGrrl74" and "Crackety_Jones_7." That seems a little juvenile to me. If they are going to be anonymous then they shouldn't use my non-anonymity against me.

The original article was about the bigoted use of the term "bigot" when applying it to people with whom you disagree. The latest arguments made by the crazies are that Kansans hate pregnant women and homosexuals. That's another thing that online arguments are good for: you never know where they're going to go. And that might make this columnist thing be not so boring until the end of the semester, when I plan to not reapply for my position.

Monday, August 27, 2007

"Get on Your Bikes and Ride!"

Out of all the weirdo lines from the song "Fat Bottomed Girls," that one might just be the most nonsensical. Even more than, "I've got mortgages on homes."

But it's appropriate for a blog posting about bikes.

My ability to properly use new paragraphs has been irreparably harmed by writing for a newspaper.

I'm in the market for a commuter bike. As such I've done much Internet research, and here's what I've found. The bike that seems like the premiere bike for me would be the Breezer Uptown 8. However, most places are selling this bike for more than $1,000. REI's bike, the Novara Fusion, has the same features for three-quarters the price. However, that's still $750. When I was talking how a school-year's worth of bus rides would cover most of the cost of the Fusion, Persephone said, "Stop trying to justify your expensive bike."

Next on my list, and first in the realm of actual possibilities, is the KHS Urban-X. However, finding one is a pain right now. Our local KHS dealer doesn't have one and has to order ten at a time, so he's reluctant to place an order for me. The closest dealer we are pretty sure has one my size is in Indiana. But it retails for under $350. It doesn't have disc brakes, 700cm wheels, lights, an internal rear hub, or a chain guard, though.

If I could afford a Breezer I'd buy one. I could probably afford a Novara Fusion, but they are out of stock until late September and that seems like a lot of money to spend on a bike. Next month we make our last car payment and officially own the piece of crap, right in time to start putting a car payment into savings each month to spring our baby from hock when Persephone delivers it in January. We don't really have lots of extra money to spend on a bike. So that means if I could find a KHS Urban-X that fit me, I'd buy it today. But finding a KHS is like trying to find a thing that's really, really hard to find. (In high school I was voted "most likely to avoid analogies.")

So I'm stuck with what the local bike shop has, which isn't much. Right now they're ordering a Trek 7.2 for me. When it comes in and I have no other lines in the water, I'm going to feel like I have to buy it. But I don't want to buy it. It's $300 and it's not what I want. However, I've found that bike shops will try to convince you that what you "really" want is what they have in stock instead of ordering something outside their usual product line. I had a guy in a bike shop in Saint Louis try to sell me a mountain bike that he'd put slick tires on. He said, "And it has a wider fork so you can go back to knobby tires if you decide you want to stop commuting." I thought, "Friend, I decided years ago I want to stop commuting, but here I am." It just seems sort of remote from reality to tell someone "if you decide you want to stop commuting."

My parents kept my bike on the side of their house for years, so all the cables rusted. When I wanted it back, they took it to a guy who told them it would cost $200 to repair. I said, "Hold off on that." I looked around to see if a new bike would be a better deal. When I decided it wasn't, my parents had given my bike away to Goodwill. I went to Goodwill to try to buy my own bike, but it wasn't there anymore. Now my parents are trying to convince me that my Christmas and birthday presents from them should be the $200 dollars they were going to put into repairing my bike. So I went from owning a working bike to owning $200 dollars in bike capital that needed $200 worth of (avoidable) repairs, to cashing in two presents for $200 towards a new bike. And every day I don't have a bike is another day my family has to wake up at 7:45 to drive me to school, another day that I have to ride the bus home, another day that we have to use gas and put miles on our car, another day I don't get any exercise. This entire thing has been a pain in the ass. (Incidentally, so is a bike seat.)

Title from Queen's song "Fat Bottomed Girls."

Sunday, August 26, 2007

"Level With Me, Sporto"

All right, suckers. Since nobody reads this crap and the people who stumble upon it soon leave in embarrassment, I just don't care anymore. Here's the truth about everything:

I hate that I'm just about 30 and have done absolutely nothing with my life.

I hate that my job could be actually quite cool, but the morons running the company and the idiot co-workers they've hired around me make work the worst place in the world to be.

I hate that I live in a town full of hyper-educated people and I only have an associates degree, so every time I meet someone I get to have this awkward conversation:

Them: So, are you in law school? Working on a PhD?

Me: I'm working on my bachelors.

Them: Oh. [silence] How old are you?

Last week I met a guy at stake priesthood meeting who, even after I told him this, assumed it was my second bachelors. No, friend, I'm just retarded, that's all.

I hate that I've knocked up my wife even though we didn't know how we could afford it because, hey, that's what you're supposed to do, and now it turns out we can't afford it and I'm going to have to deliver the baby in a gas station bathroom and bite through the cord or something.

I hate that my academic adviser in my major has some sort of problem with me, so he won't give me advice and I've got to go around school finding out the information he's supposed to be telling me.

I hate that I'm a team teacher in Primary with a guy who never comes, so now I've got to follow his ass around and try to get him to do what he's supposed to be doing on his own. I don't need that. It's like having a mission companion all over again.

I hate that I've spent more than half my life being ugly.

I hate that, in all of my friendships, I've done something that has made it so my erstwhile friend is now embarrassed to think about me. I don't understand how people have life-long friends. I think you've got three years from meeting a person until it's awkward for that person to see you. Three years, tops.

Now for things I like: I like my kids. I like my wife. She's nice. I like music. It's fun to listen to. I like working on maps for fun, not the crap "map" work they make me do at work (which actually has virtually nothing to do with maps). I like reading. I like learning about economics. I like thinking that all this crap in my life is going to be useful someday. That I'll be in some important position and I'll think, "Man, it's a good thing my mission was the worst two years of my life," or I'll think, "Wow, am I glad I could never afford a house for my family."

But here's the thing: sometimes people just have crap lives. Yeah, we've all heard the stories at church about people who go through hard times to prepare them for something great. I mean, I've read about Hugh B. Brown and Spencer W. Kimball before they were called to be apostles. Those are some great stories. There's Abraham Lincoln's life story, and Winston Churchill's life story, and the point of all these stories is, "If you wait a little longer, everything will be worthwhile." But for most people, that's not the case. For most people things don't get better until they're dead. Henry B. Eyring says the promise of "men are that they might have joy" is in reference to this life, but I just don't see it. Ninety percent of the world, at least, live with disease and squalor and disappointment and injustice and then they die.

In the words of my first mission president: "Who are you that you think you shouldn't have to deal with this?"

Title from the movie The Breakfast Club.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

"An Illustrated Book About Birds"

Man, am I bored.

Since no one reads this crap, I don't have to worry about fleshing this out to a respectably-sized post. I can just leave it at that. I am really bored.

So I'm going to write a bunch of random crap ala Larry King. Here goes:

If I had to cut my own limb off to escape some life-threatening situation, I think I would just rather die. Of course, you can never really tell how you'll behave in an intense situation like that. I bet you go pretty crazy when you're about to die like that, but limb-cutting crazy? I just don't see it.

For my money there is no finer candy than Swedish Fish. Sweden has invented a lot of great things (off the top of my head: Volvos, Pippi Longstocking, the Nobel Prize in Economics, Ikea, and leggy blondes), but Swedish Fish are at the top of the list.

The worst thing to come out of Sweden? It's a tie between Abba and the Thirty Years' War.

John Edwards's real first name is Johnny. Seriously. Shouldn't that fact alone completely derail his presidential aspirations?

I've been so poor for so long that today I realized I was fantasizing about owning a Vespa.

I think what I like most about William Jennings Bryan is that he was entirely without pretension.

The proper way to pronounce "Nevada" is with the second syllable stressed and rhyming with "bad." Also, the penultimate syllable of "Colorado" is stressed and rhymes with "bad," too. People who say "Nevawda" and "Colorawdo" are retarded. The capital of Saskatchewan rhymes with "vagina." I don't know how to pronounce "Helena."

A beautiful face is a lot more attractive than a hot body.

The greatest bike I've ever test ridden was the Novara Fusion. The bike I most want to test ride is the Breezer Uptown 8.

Having red hair is like gambling: you're either making yourself way more beautiful, or you're making yourself way uglier.

The new Kansas license plates look like crap.

My kids are hilarious.

Neville Longbottom is twice the man Harry Potter is. While Harry spends most of books 4 through 6 whining about how hard his life is, Neville just visits his crazy parents with his grandma and goes about his life.

"Baby Blues" has gotten a little racy lately. A couple weeks ago Wanda was in the bathtub, and then the next day there was a frame that showed one of her boobs in her bra while she was putting on a shirt. Keep it up, "Baby Blues."

I realize I haven't read "Funky Winkerbean" in a long time, but did Funky become a bald, gay cancer patient? What the hell is going on there?

I don't know if I want the Pirates to have a winning season before they set the record for most consecutive losing seasons. They've already sucked for so long, what's a few more years of sucking? We might as well get a record out of it, and then Pirates fans like me will at least get a reward for our loyalty: we'll get to flaunt our dedication to a crap franchise.

I don't understand why people talk about the weather. I never think to bring it up. Talking about it won't change it. What is there to say besides, "It's hot today," or "It's cold today"?

Friends I actually like that I'm sad I've lost contact with: Jann Cahoon, Jon Caligiuri, Will Clayton, Ian Murphy, Adam Romney, Jill Wagner.

I think I'm scared of heights.

Title from Nirvana's song "Plateau."

Saturday, August 18, 2007

"Fighting Vainly the Old Ennui"

I just don't feel like blogging anymore. There's nothing I have to say that's important enough to make my wife and two friends read it and then feel like they have to comment on it. "Oh, wow, great post about how your little toes' toenails grow faster than the rest of your toenails. ROFL. You're the King of Blogging."

Right now I'm supposed to be reading some textbooks, but instead I'm watching "CSI" episodes that Persephone got from the library. And I don't even like "CSI." And I feel like white trash watching movies from the library ever since a few nights ago when I watched the "The Simpsons" episode where Lisa imagines her future as the fat wife of Ralph Wiggum. She says, "Angel Pie, will you drive me the the liberry. I want to rent us up some movies."

Here's my major ambition in life right now. It's three parts: first I'm going to grow a mullet, then I'm going to grow a mustache, then I'm going to get the mullet permed.

Why does the second counselor in our stake presidency want to meet with me tomorrow morning? The part of my brain that thinks I'm the most wonderful man in the history of the world is thinking, "They want to call me to be the new member of the Quorum of the Twelve," but really I know he's really just going to tell me I've been creeping a lot of people out lately and they'd appreciate it if I quit coming to church for a while.

Here's a story from my life: I had a horrible mission. Trying my hardest, feeling inadequate. My trainer told me he was going to "knock [me] on [my] butt." My next companion would repeat everything I said like I wasn't there. I'd teach the first principle, then he'd reteach it and then finish the discussion. My third companion got a phone call at three a.m. and when I went to wake him up he wasn't there. He was out with his girlfriend until five. When I wrote my president's letter that week, he stole it from the outgoing mail, then read it to make sure I wasn't telling on him, then shared it with his friends to make fun of my concerns. Then my fourth companion was incompetent and looked at gay pornography. My district leader and my zone leader told me they didn't know what to tell me. My parents told me to stop writing home about what was wrong because I was going to scare my younger brother off from serving a mission. My girlfriend was busy getting other boyfriends who would go on missions and she could wait for them instead of me. I wrote a president's letter that said I was at the end of my rope and didn't know what to do. A few days later I got a call from our president, saying he needed to meet with me that afternoon. I thought, "Finally, someone is going to help me." I was so happy that things were finally going to go my way. The other elders in town invited us over to barbecue that evening but I told them no because things were going to be fine and we were going to work that night. We took the bus to the chapel, stopping on the way to eat lunch at Arby's, celebrating that the hard part was over. We got to the chapel and my mission president yelled at me for an hour and a half. "Who are you that you think you don't deserve to have a bad mission? You want to have gone to South America? Well, we all wish we'd gone to South America, but we haven't. We're here." An hour and a half. That was when I quit. He offered us a ride, and I had him drive us to the other elders' apartment where we barbecued brats for the rest of the night. And eighteen months later I came home.

So I'm not really looking forward to an impromptu meeting with a member of the stake presidency.

Title from Cole Porter's song "I Get a Kick Out of You."

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Jumping, in Regards to Sharks

Evidently Lindsay Lohan now has one of those tabloid names: LiLo. Where's mine? I'm three times as news-worthy as Death on Legs. My first commentary of the semester was in Monday's paper and my first editorial (for which I'm getting paid $25 a week, baby!) will be in this Monday's paper. Meanwhile, Coke Bag has done nothing but win the crap parent lottery.

In a sidenote: I stink like onions. I ate a tuna salad slim from Jimmy John's yesterday, and now anytime I sit still and catch a whiff of the air, that air smells like onions. Thanks, Jimmy John's. First the twenty-five-cent price increase and now this.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

People Who Hate Me

Think of this as the bizaro enemies list.

The first counselor in my Elders Quorum

My department advisor at KU

Two of my four sisters-in-law

The former mission companion I would have liked to have stayed in contact with

Coworkers: Tito, the accountant, the "sales" department (one woman), the office manager

That's just a preliminary list.

Friday, August 10, 2007

"Givin' Props to My Ho 'Cause She Fly"

That right there is a Bloodhound Gang quote. And in the words of Soul Coughing, a synonym for "fly" is "aesthetically pleasing." I don't know any synonyms for "ho."

But seriously, Persephone came up with this vocabulary gem today. Under the heading of "words that change stressing when used as different parts of speech," we now have "contest" the noun, meaning a game or challenge, and "contest" the verb, meaning "to challenge."

It follows the pattern of other words I've written about, like permit and progress, where the verb is stressed on the second syllable and the noun on the first syllable.

Title from Bloodhound Gang's song "Fire Water Burn." Allusion from Soul Coughing's song "Screenwriter's Blues."

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Blog Posting

I don't really have anything to say, but Persephone is a little frustrated about my last posting, and by posting this I will move it down the list, where it is guaranteed to never be read by anyone, since the few people who do accidentally come to my blog just throw their eyes over the most-recent post and then move on with a shudder.

We went to Nauvoo on Monday. It was the first time we had been there in the actual summer. We've gone in September and in March, and while the weather is nicer those times of year, the outdoor game area isn't open, and Crazy Jane wanted to wear their pioneer dresses. Leaving Saint Louis (we'd spent most of the weekend with my parents), we headed north on US 61 and entered a torrential downpour. Articulate Joe said, "I think it's not going to rain on us in Naunoo." (He accidentally called it "Naunoo" once and then thought it was hilarious and now does it over and over. When I told them about "Mork and Mindy" and "nanoo-nanoo," it sealed the deal.) When we crossed the river from Redneckistan into Illinois, it stopped raining. When we got to Nauvoo, Articulate Joe said, "See, I said it was not going to rain on us!"

Nauvoo had two bookstores, the LDS one and the RLDS one. Now it's got some trendy-looking "you all own homes in Sandy that are bigger than your stake centers" bookstore. I was secretly pleased that it sucked.

The new oxen ride is about three times as long as the old one. I told our family before we left that whoever fell asleep on the way there had to kiss an ox. As expected, Persephone and Crazy Jane were both out within moments of starting the car. Surprisingly, Articulate Joe stayed awake the whole way. When we got to Nauvoo, though, Crazy Jane was going to cry if I made her kiss and ox, so she got away with petting one. I kissed one on the head, much to my children's delight.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Recent Travels

Twenty-four new counties: Marion IL, Clay IL, Shelby IL, Coles IL, Moultrie IL, Douglas IL, Champaign IL, Piatt IL, Ford IL, Iroquois IL, Kankakee IL, Will IL, Grundy IL, Kendall IL, Livingston IL, McLean IL, De Witt IL, Logan IL, Morgan IL, McDonough IL, Schuyler IL, Brown IL, Cass IL, and Menard IL.

Total new counties this year: 166.

Total counties: 902 (902/3131=28.81%)

New temple attended: Chicago Illinois Temple.

New state we've had sex in: Illinois (our 13th).

We'll see how long it takes Persephone to read this post and insist that I take down the last part of it.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Eye, Doctor

I had to go to the eye doctor today because, evidently, even glasses prescriptions have expiration dates. What a racket. Today Persephone was saying she would read online to find out why car seats have expiration dates, and I said, "It's because the car seat manufacturers' lobbyist took the congressman out for dinner, and then he got him a hooker. The dinner got the legislation requiring car seats, and the hooker got the expiration date." But anyway, some optometrist lobbyist took a congressman out for dinner and a whore, and now I need to spend sixty-nine bucks at Wal-Mart to get a new glasses prescription.

Firstly, he had me sit down and look in a machine with a tiny picture of a farmhouse in it. "Look at the farmhouse," he said. "Did you pick this picture or did it come with a farmhouse?" I asked. "It came with a farmhouse," he said.

Then he had me look straight ahead while he stretched his hands out, one high and one low on either side of him, and then I had to tell him which hands' fingers were wiggling. I thought, "This test doesn't seem too high-tech." And then I nearly laughed, but I stopped myself by thinking, "You can't laugh at him; he's paid a lot of money to be a doctor."

Next he had me do the whole, "better, worse, or about the same," thing, and I wondered how many days they spent in optometry school playing with those machines so they can get so good with them. That had to have been its own examination. I imagined him practicing the night before the test, trying to get it right. That must have been fun.

Then I was done and I was jettisoned back into the teeming mass of the tattooed and toothless, where a woman with at least thirty items was using the "ten items or less [sic]" lane and we got stuck behind an off-duty employee chatting it up with her coworkers while she bought a dresser because it was such a good price. Not because she needed it. Her clothes weren't becoming ruined without it. It was just a good price. Such is America.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to find a Chinese eyeglass website that will have political prisoners fill my prescription at a third the cost of non-political prisoners. P-R-C! P-R-C! P-R-C!