Saturday, May 31, 2008

Hostage Negotiator

Once I required medical attention to something involving what medical textbooks refer to as "my ass." When I got to the doctor's office I had to fill out a questionnaire that gave their near-high-school-dropouts in scrubs something to type into the computer while they related to their coworkers the latest drama regarding their baby daddy and his new girlfriend.

Well, when I got to the question regarding my line of work, I knew my office job might be to blame for the problems with my ass (or, as it's spelled in British medical journals, my ærse), so I shouldn't lie about having a desk job, but I also wanted to use the chance to lie to get some lying in, since I enjoy lying so much. So I wrote down that my job was "hostage negotiator." I figured that was desk-jobby enough that I wasn't actually keeping my doctor from knowing something he needed.

When the doctor came in and reviewed my form he said, "You're a hostage negotiator?" I said, "Yeah, I am." He said, "Really?" That's where I decided to quit the lie, since there might be some sort of medical effect of hostage negotiating that I didn't know about. I said, "Um, no, not really." He said, "What's your real job?" and then he made sort of a production out of crossing out my lie and writing in "city planner."

This weekend was our ward's campout, which sounds like fun until you realize that you're busy and there will be bugs. Our kids were convinced we were going to spend the night this year, since we own a tent now. I knew I would have to bargain them down if I wanted to just go for dinner and then come home, so yesterday while IMing Persephone from work, I had her present this deal to the kids: we would not spend the night at the campout, and in return we would rent "Underdog" and go swimming at the city's aquatic center. Both Crazy Jane and Articulate Joe signed on immediately.

And who's not a hostage negotiator, Dr. Mohammed?

Friday, May 30, 2008

Making an Effort

Blogging is lame to me now, but my wife complained that I haven’t posted in a while, so here goes:

I was born in Pittsburgh, so my three favorite sports teams are the Pirates, the Steelers, and the Penguins. While the Pirates continue to elate me this season with their being only three games below 500 (as of this post), most of my sports attention at the moment is given to the Penguins, who are in the Stanley Cup finals. Against whom? Well, according to my children, the Detroit Tire Flyers.

Which makes sense. At first I thought they were saying “Tire Fires,” which would describe the City of Detroit perfectly, but no, upon further review, they are saying “Tire Flyers.”

In closing: the Tire Flyers suck.

Monday, May 12, 2008

How to Solve All Your Problems

Last year some time I wrote a post about friends with whom I’d lost contact. In response, two of those friends found the blog post, commented, and now I’m back in contact with them. (And the rest of the friends I’ve listed are obviously good for nothing!)

This is almost too easy! All I have to do is complain loudly enough and other people will do all the hard work for me. Other things I want someone else to fix:

  • my inability to fall asleep
  • my lack of motivation for getting out of bed in the morning
  • my chronic boredom
  • the back tire of my bicycle
  • the broken hinge on the back window of our car
  • all my genealogy that I have to type into New Family Search
  • my son’s inability to say anything without yelling it
  • my wife’s not-so-secret hatred of homeschooling
  • the dearth of serious candidates for the presidency

So seriously, people, just divvy them out and get to work. I’ll check back in a couple hours to see how you’re doing.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Family Resemblence

Persephone insisted I tell this story on my blog. But it’s a story in two parts.


My grandmother lived to a million and stood about two-foot-three. Once when she lived in Pittsburgh, my sister and her husband, who lived in Washington, drove up to see her. (My sister and her husband don’t have blog names yet, so let’s give them some. Let’s say my sister’s name is, oh, If You Don’t Like It You Can Take It Back (IYDLIYCTIB, or YCTIB for short), and her husband’s name is Cabin Boy.) So YCTIB and Cabin Boy went to the grocery store with my grandmother. YCTIB was somewhere else in the store when Cabin Boy came to find her to show her something. In preparing to go to the store, my grandmother had changed her pants. Cabin Boy was following her as she pushed the cart when something worked its way down her pant leg. Grandma gave her leg a shake and moved on, leaving a pair of her underwear lying on the grocery store floor. Evidently she had executed the “all off at once” move the last time she’d worn those pants, then put the pants on with the underwear still inside. Walking around had dislodged them and Grandma just shook it off and let it go.


A girl with whom we grew up in our ward got married, had a kid, and invited us and our kid over to her house Saturday morning before Easter for an egg hunt. Apparently I had the night before executed the “all off at once” move (no doubt to facilitate getting it on), and the morning of the egg hunt I found my pants right where I like them--the floor--and put them back on. When we got to the woman’s house and were walking up the steps, I had a lump fall down my pant leg. I said, “What in the world?” Then I saw what it was and knew my wife would never stop making fun of me for it. I balled my underwear up and was about to return to the car to stow them away when the woman opened her door to welcome us. I had my underwear in my hand, so I felt like I owed her a bit of an explanation. She just said, “Oh, um, okay.” Because, really, what else is there to say?

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Poisoning Co-Workers

Let’s hear it for Stop Day! Huzzah huzzah!

In other news, I’m so bored that I’ve begun poisoning my co-workers. Maybe. I’m too bored to even find out for sure. All I know is last Saturday I was supposed to do a lot of studying, which meant that instead I did a lot of cleaning. In all my cleaning, I found some coupons that were still valid, one of which was for a large pizza from the Hy-Vee deli. (Let’s hear it for Hy-Vee, people! Hy-Vee is my favorite grocery store ever. Yes, you heard me, I even like it better than Aldi.) Anyway, I went to Hy-Vee that night to get a pizza for our supper, and while I waited I picked up two bags of sun-dried fruit. Earlier this week I ate the apricots, half of which were delicious while the other half were just okay. Today I started eating the pears.

Here’s the thing about sun-dried pears: they don’t really taste like anything. And it wasn’t just a hit-and-miss problem like with the apricots; they all tasted like nothing. I’m guessing this is pretty typical for pears (I’ve never actually eaten a pear, I believe), since it is impossible to find pear-flavored candy. Well, I decided to tough it out and eat the freaking pears, since I’m all healthy and whatnot these days, but one of my friends at work came over to my desk, had a sun-dried pear, and raved about it so much I let him take the bag away with him.

Now he’s IMed me asking if they need refrigeration. What do I look like, the USFDA? So I told him I didn’t think so. For all I know, he could be dead by now.

But now that we’ve come around to talking about me, let’s keep this ball rolling. I’m incredibly bored, and very tired. My fatigue is such that my eyelids are twitching again, and it takes me weeks to get that crap to go away, so I’m pretty pissed about that. But here’s something I’m happy about: today’s Kansas weather. It’s a beautiful day here today, not even windy, and my bike rides to school and work were incredibly enjoyable.

Now let’s talk about the things I think would be fun to own. One of them is this scooter. Straight baller, y’all. (I don’t even know what that means.) The other is this car. While it may seem impractical for someone with three kids to buy a two-seater car, I have to think ahead to the days when I’m once again somebody’s wage slave in a fluorescent-bulb Devil’s antechamber. I’m livin’ the dream, people!

Friday, May 02, 2008

The Mark of Greatness

What do Clarence Thomas and I have in common? I'll give you a hint: it's not being black. Still can't guess?

Twenty years ago we both loved the movie "Short Circuit." As he writes in his memoir, My Grandfather's Son,

A few weeks later, the two of us went to an early-afternoon movie, Short Circuit. I found it hilarious, though Virginia seemed more amused by my laughter than the movie. (181-2)

Shortly afterward, they were married. No doubt thanks to the hilarity of Number 5.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

An Entirely Different New Format

How's this: The Blog of American Decadence?

I read crap like this and I want to stab somebody in the neck. Are these people really so self-absorbed that they think people should feel sorry for them when they have to make conscious economic decisions instead of just spending money until they get tired? People used to have the common sense to know not to complain about such things out loud because everyone who heard them would think they were stupid. Now, however, when newspapers write, "She'd already given up organic meat and decided to buy organic milk only for her 2-year-old son, not for the whole family," they call their friends and say, "Watch for my article in the Post!"

The vapid centerpiece of this story give permission to be quoted in the newspaper saying things like, "I just can't feed my family the way I'd like to feed them." When news stories like this are reprinted in the Third World, readers probably think they are parody pieces.

Last night while Crazy Jane and I were reading The Long Winter (the sixth "Little House" book from Laura Ingalls Wilder), we read of how Laura gave Ma a Christmas present for keeping hair in. Evidently when Ma brushed her hair she was supposed to take the loose hair out of the brush and keep it in this box for later use. I asked Crazy Jane, "Have you ever had to save your extra hair?" She said, "No." I muttered, "You live a decadent lifestyle."


So here it is: I don’t give a damn what you people want anymore. From now on, my blog is just a place for me to write notes to myself of things I’d otherwise forget about.

For instance: this was funny. Watch it again sometime.

And: remember to write up your prison stamp summary.

And: make plans to buy this shirt, but wait until after an unexpected windfall so your wife doesn’t get mad at you for wasting money. (Hint: today might be the day, what with your raise and all. Or wait two weeks until the raise actually shows up in your paycheck.)

Welcome to my new kick-ass blog, suckers! It’s all about me, like a blog should be.

New Direction

This blog needs some serious help.

Oh, like you didn't know! Of course you knew! You tell your spouse every time you accidentally read one of my posts, "That boy's blog needs some serious help."

But what to do? The blog is what it is because of who writes it. You can't really fake it on a blog; if you careen repeatedly between boring and angry, your blog will do the same. And thus is born "A Random Stranger," the world's most boring and angry blog.

Maybe I need a theme. People do well with themes. I could find something in society that no one else has noticed and then document its every instance. For example, ah hell, I don't know. All the good ideas are taken already.

I thought I could turn this into a clearinghouse of my embarrassing stories (because you know I've got a lot of them), but my embarrassing stories aren't the sort that leave you wanting more. They make you uncomfortable and anxious to leave.

Well, I'm running out of time before I've got to be somewhere, so I'd better do something. So here goes:

There's this girl who sits next to me in International Finance who might want me. Or she just might be friendly, I'm not good telling the difference. When I was a freshman in high school there was a girl who was very friendly to me, so much so that I thought I needed to tell her that I had a girlfriend. (I didn't tell her, though, because my girlfriend was only my girlfriend for 20 days. Thanks a lot, girlfriend! (Right now she would say, "But I'm your wife now, moron, so deal with it!" That's why I don't let her post on my blog. Things go more smoothly when there's only one side of the story being told.))

Anyway, I was very worried that this friendly high school girl was trying to put the moves on me, but when I've thought about it since then, I've realized that she had absolutely no reason to go after me, she was just being nice.

So this girl in International Finance might be friendly, or she might be trying to get me in the sack. Hard to say. But she saw me the other day talking to a professor, so she asked what class I was taking with him. I told her I was TAing for him this semester. She went off on that. "Oh, are you a graduate student?" Um, no. "I didn't think they let undergraduates TA." Um, normally they don't. "How do you get to do that? Do you have to apply?" Um, yeah. "I want to do that. How do you apply?" Um, you have to be asked to apply. "How do they decide who to ask?" Um, they give you a scholarship. "Oh, so you got a scholarship? Have they decided who's going to get them for next year?" Um, probably, since I was notified of the dinner next Tuesday. "I really need that. I really need money. I told [undergraduate program advisor] that, too." Um, I don't really know what to tell you. It just kept getting more embarrassing for me.

The next time I saw her, that was all she wanted to talk about again. How long have I been a TA? How many students do I have? Is it great? She talks so much for someone with such an annoying voice. And with my luck, she'll stumble across this blog, read my post, and know it was about her. Awkward. When that happens I'll be sure to blog about it, since all I've got left up my sleeve are embarrassing stories that make readers uncomfortable.