Friday, September 28, 2007

Friday Funny

Well, I made it through the audit. But it wasn't good. We had a couple recurring issues that in turn caused us to lose double points. And there were a few new issues that hurt us as well. While my last post was meant to be funny, the audit is a pretty serious thing. If we fail twice in a row, I get fired. Not sure if this one is a failure yet, but it's close. I need to buckle down and do some serious coaching of my personnel (and myself.) But enough of that sorrowful stuff, today's Friday. So here's a few short funnies to cheer you up.

A psychologist is a person you pay a lot of money to ask you questions your spouse asks free of charge.

My therapist told me the way to achieve inner peace is to finish what I start. So far I've finished two bags of chips and a chocolate cake. I feel better already.

A man walked into a gift shop that sold religious items. Near the register he saw a display of hats with WWJD printed on them. He asked the clerk what the letters meant. When she told him they stood for "What Would Jesus Do?" he replied, "Well, I don't think Jesus would pay $17.95 for one of those hats."

David Letterman on the Late Show: Tomorrow Saddam Hussein would have been 70 years old. If you're looking for a gift, he could really use an air conditioner.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

We're being attacked

They showed up today.
Their dreaded black cars shining in the sunrise-lit parking lot.
The enemy of all bank personnel.
The supposed protectors of our security, wearing their pretty masks of concern.
All while hiding their evil intentions to search out any and all weaknesses and expose them.
They lurk and poke and peek into every corner, crack, and crevice.
They talk down to us.
Their goal is to make us feel stupid; and scared.
It's working.
They wield authority to open secret files and scour private property.
Smiling only when they find some dirt or error.
They somehow cause an inner terror every day of the year even though they only appear one day of it.

Who are these unmasked agitators?
The auditors.
They are here.

I must go before my presence on a non-bank site is discovered.
Oh no, one of them has her nose in the air.
She's walking towards my office.
Why won't this thing post?
Tell the inhabitants of the world I loved them.
It's getting dark.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The end of a season?

Number ten. (See "He Returns" in the archive.) Today is the first full day of Autumn. So, according to my plan, meat is back on the menu. But I'm having some reservations about it. Last year it was a given that I'd go back to eating meat, and I did. But this year........... I don't know.

Common questions:
-Why? Just because I want to. I like to give myself willpower tests every so often. This seemed like a pretty easy one due to all the fresh veggies I can eat all summer.
-Was it easy? No. I never realized how often I ate meat. A little chicken in a salad, some ham in an omelet, pepperoni on pizza, pork in take-out fried rice. It wasn't that I was missing all that meat, it was just hard to order in some restaurants.
-What did I dislike about it? I hated going to eat somewhere and everyone feeling they had to tip-toe around my decision. I always felt like I was a sick kid everyone had to take care of. Most of my friends got over it, and I think it would get easier if I did it for longer.
-Did I crave meat, and what kind? Last year I craved chicken almost the whole time. This time I got a hankering for bbq chicken just once, and it passed quickly. The weirdest part of that craving is that I don't like chicken all that much. Other than that, I saw an ad for ribs once that looked really good. Maybe I just like bbq sauce more than I thought.
-What did you eat more of? One thing I ate too much of this summer was cheese. It didn't help we went through Wisconsin twice and Ell had to stop at a cheese house both times. (Her favorite food is cheese.) I ate a lot of peanut butter too. I think if I did this for a longer time, I'd learn how to eat better and not over-eat common things.

The big one:
-Are you going back to eating meat? (I think only one or two people asked me that last year. This year at least ten people have asked. I must be putting off a vibe that I'm internally debating it.) I am intrigued by the healthy aspect of living without meat. For the last month or so I've been buried in a vegetarian cookbook that is more like a health guide to living the lifestyle than an actual cookbook. I'm learning all the common mistakes (like too much cheese and pb) as well as learning how to pair foods that compliment each other in the body. That's really exciting to me.

Vegetarians (smart ones anyway) tend to be more healthy than most of their meat eating peers. Because an absence of meat causes a lack of certain nutrients, vegetarians are always examining their diets and making up for those. They eat more fruits and vegetables, something most Americans don't get enough of. They understand the importance of mixing the proper kinds of foods from different groups that compliment each other. They are more aware of processed and nutrient-zapped foods that many Americans live almost entirely on. They limit unhealthy foods that cause their digestive systems to go wacky. All in all, they seem to understand what each different kind of food does for the body more than your average Joe.

So what's the actual answer to the big question. For now, I think I'm going to stay vegetarian at least one more month and see where that takes me. I'll revisit my goals and plans and make a decision at that point. So yes, I'm still a vegetarian until the end of October.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Friday Funny

In one of our business meetings, a marketing rep for one of our Bank-at-Work products presented this. It was an exercise to see how we handled our business tasks. For smart people, it's pretty humorous. If you don't get it, well............. Try to formulate an answer to each question before you look at the answer.

A simple test for smart people.

1. How do you put a giraffe into a refrigerator?
The correct answer is: Open the refrigerator, put in the giraffe, and close the door. This question tests whether you tend to do simple things in an overly complicated way.

2. How do you put an elephant into a refrigerator?
Did you say, open the refrigerator, put in the elephant, and close the refrigerator? If so, that's the wrong answer. The correct answer is: Open the refrigerator, take out the giraffe, put in the elephant, and close the door. This tests your ability to think through the repercussions of your previous actions.

3. The lion king is hosting an animal conference. All of the animals attend, except one. Which animal does not attend.
Correct answer: The elephant. The elephant is in the refrigerator. This tests your memory. Okay, even if you didn't answer the first three questions correctly, you still have one more chance to show your true abilities.

4. There is a river you must cross but it is used by many crocodiles, and you don't have a boat. How do you manage it?
Correct answer: You jump into the river and swim across. Have you been listening? All the crocodiles are attending the animal conference. This tests whether you learn quickly from your mistakes.

According to Anderson Consulting Worldwide, around 90% of all professionals they tested got all questions wrong compared to 70% of 4 year old preschoolers getting at least 2 questions correct. Though not my normal Friday fodder, it does make you chuckle with that thought, "How did I miss that question?" in the back of your head.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Follow-ups, Part 4

I still have a bunch of stuff I want to re-visit. But today, there's only one thing I want to follow-up and think about.

10 years ago today, Ell and I exchanged vows in front of our friends and family and committed our lives to each other. We started our lives as Husband and Wife that day, and have shared each others existence ever since. I could go on and on about how good we are together, how much she is the perfect compliment to me and I to her, how we still make each other laugh every day, and how our love has continued to develop deeper every moment. She truly is someone I could spend the rest of my life with. I knew that on our second date, and I know it even more today. My life was made complete when she decided to be my wife. She honors and respects me. She holds me up as the leader of our household. She listens when I speak and is encouraged by my words. I truly could not have found a more perfect partner to live out my days. She is the reason I get up in the morning, and the desire to go to bed at night. She urges me to greatness and ignores my faults. She is beautiful beyond compare. She is more than I deserve but exactly what I need. I love her. I need her. I desire her. I honor her. I serve her.

Happy Anniversary to you, my wife. May God grant us another 10, and then another 10 after that. I love you Ell.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Follow-ups, Part 3

Two weeks ago we made another trip to Minneapolis. This time wasn't so much of a vacation as it was to surprise Andrew for his birthday. I mean, who would possibly drive 14 hours twice in one month just to hang out with some friends? If you guessed this guy, you'd be right. Well, Andrew didn't, and he was major surprised.

This trip was overall a little better than the last one. Both Andrew and Lyndsay had time off of work and school, so we got to see them a bunch more. Plus, Brad went with us which made it even more fun. But the thing that was most different was that we did a lot more stuff. We actually got to see more of the city and experience the city life a little more.

I'm still not convinced I could ever be completely happy in a big city, but this trip really gave me a bigger picture of how much there really is to do in a city that living in rural or even town-America could never offer. There are parks and restaurants and professional ball parks and grocery stores and coffee shops and museums and so many shops and stores with anything you could ever think to buy. And they are all within walking distance. I'm not even talking miles and miles, but rather just a few blocks. All of it within a few minutes from your front door. How amazing is that?

Are there downsides? Of course. You can always be a "grass is greener" kind of person if you want to be. My backyard is safer. My backyard has cleaner air. My backyard has a garden and trees. What my backyard doesn't have is a museum or a ballpark or a bike trail; all of which are literally in Andrew and Lyndsay's backyard. I guess you need to find where your priorities lie and what makes you happy before you make a decision where to live. But like I said last time, city life is growing on me. I always despised it because I thought it was just big and scary and dirty. There's so much more to it than that, though. I still choose rural America, but I now appreciate our country's diversity so much more.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Follow-up, part 2

I have mixed feelings about the garden this year. Ell and I usually do all the pre-garden work together, but this year we furthered our co-op experience by starting all the seedlings with the couple that we share the other expenses with. We made a day of it with dinner and wine and a whole night elbow deep in starting medium and seed packets. And the shared experience was awesome. Both in good times with friends, as well as the success of the seeds. The germination rate was better than any other year. That is until our newest cat, Ruby, got into the sunroom and ate all the tomato plants, most of the onions, and a random scattering of other plants. Thanks to Ell's cooler head, the cat somehow survived, but all our hard work was gone.

The tomatoes were our biggest loss. Back in June I told you about the tomato plants that were growing from seeds of fallen fruit out of last year's garden. Our best guess said they were mainly from one kind of paste tomato we were very pleased with. So since we had no tomato seedlings left, I decided to grow out a bed of these second generation (and possibly cross pollinated) plants. I plugged them and moved the strongest 20 plants into a single bed. About 2/3 survived and seemed really healthy. But they only made it a couple months and then died out. They had produced a lot of fruit, but most of it died with the plants. We bought 8 other plants from a local organic nursery, but they didn't do so well either. The only bright spot for us was a paste tomato that was bigger than my fist. Pretty cool.

My co-op partner has been alternating and saving two kinds of onion seeds for 3 years now. Since the cat ruined all but five of the onion plants, I direct-seeded a bunch of these seeds when the weather got warm enough. Even with a shortened season, they are doing really good. Not as big as usual, but still tasty.

As usual, the mesclun did great. Besides the usual variety, we tried a spicy blend that seemed overrun with one particular lettuce that bolted quickly, so we weren't very impressed. But the fact that it bolted before I could get it out of the garden, has brought an unexpected surprise: new little green sprouts. Mesclun (as well as most leafy greens) prefer colder weather, so all these cold nights have produced a nice second crop of salad greens. They are a bit spicy, so they are a great addition to grilling and salad.

The carrots didn't do as well as I'd hoped as we only had about 1/2 germination. We did get one ginormous oxheart that didn't split or fork. It's gotta be as big around as a softball and at least four inches long. I'll try to get a picture posted. It's amazing. As for the winter crop of carrots I planted 2 weeks ago, they seem to be doing really good. Nothing like fresh veggies in the middle of the winter.

The peppers didn't do bad, nor did they do great. We'll have enough to make a small batch of our hot mustard, with some left to use for cooking and drying. The plants didn't seem to grow as big because they were shadowed by some huge zucchini plants growing by the compost bin. They blocked most of the morning sun, and peppers need it to be hot to grow good. But like I said, we have enough for what we need.

The biggest disappointment of the garden was bugs. Organic gardeners who refuse to use anything unnatural will always have bug problems, but this year they won. Squash bugs completely killed all of my melons and then cut short the zucchini season by weeks. I was able to salvage a few delicata squashes before they destroyed those fruit as well. What those bugs didn't kill, the Japanese beetles finished off. We lost the entire first growth of basil to those *#&! bugs, as well as many of the beans, regular mesclun, half the apple harvest, and the whole canopy of grape leaves. It was easily the worst year I ever remember for those things.

But all was not lost. We did manage to freeze ten or so bags of beans. Ell also canned three or four cases of applesauce and made her maiden voyage into Apple Butter territory with great success. We have a counter full of squash and zucchini for the winter. There are dozens of red onions ready to be picked to heat up the cold air. The garlic may be small but we have at least fifteen heads to make that pasta just a bit tastier. The grapes fought the beetles and are fuller than we've ever seen them. We might even try our hand at wine this year. The kale and winter greens and leeks are all healthy and crying out to be eaten. And the sunflower mix has produced some really pretty flowers.

So even though the garden was less than what I'd hoped for, we still had a fairly successful summer harvest. Those bugs are gonna feel my wrath next year, and our seed saving is really starting to pay off. So I'm still excited about growing my own food. And all of this is making me hungry for a salad. I'll talk at ya tomorrow.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Follow-ups, part 1

I'm in the mood to update a few things I've talked about before. I'll try to write a few times this week so be sure to check back often.

For those of you who don't read comments, at least one of the persons responsible for the flamingo prank has revealed himself. Still no explanation as to the reasoning behind the backward-ness of it, but no more mystery as to the origins. Maybe one day he'll reveal a masterful hoax that goes way over our heads and we'll wonder why we never got the joke. Or maybe not.

Zooooma just commented on some cool graveyards he remembered visiting, and it reminded me of one in Twinsburg, Ohio. Twinsburg is a city of 20,000 and it's impressive city graveyard stretches for almost 3/4 of a mile. But the original graveyard, which dates back to the early 1800's, is hidden behind some trees and wedged between 2 very industrialized sections of town and the highway. It covers not quite an acre and is so hard to see that I worked across the street from it for a year and a half before I ever found it. The twin brothers who founded the town are buried there. They died within a few hours of each other and, as was common back then, are buried in the same grave. All of the early settlers of Twinsburg are buried in this graveyard.

One tombstone in that graveyard always haunted me and I tried to visit it every time I went there. Inscribed on it were the names of four children and their mother. (Yes, another common grave.) None of the children were over ten years old. The last recorded dates were the mother and her second child. It seems all of them had died from some sort of disease of the time like Black or Yellow Fever. What a sad time that family must have gone through. I always wondered how that sort of thing would affect people today. I actually think we would be worse off than they were. They accepted diseases and other hardships of life and moved on. They didn't have the luxury of getting a welfare or disability check to take care of them. They had to move on or they wouldn't survive. I'm starting to climb up on a soapbox, so I'll stop. Just another example of the fact that God may have dumped me off in the wrong century.

Check back tomorrow for another follow-up.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Friday Funny

Not sure where I got this one, probably from Guy. Enjoy.

A little boy got on the bus, sat down next to a man reading a book and noticed he had his collar on backwards.
The little boy asked why he wore his collar that way.
The man, who was a priest, said, "I am a Father."
The little boy replied, "My daddy doesn't wear his collar like that."
The priest looked up from his book and answered, "I am the Father of many."
The boy said, "My dad has 4 boys, 4 girls, and two grandchildren, and he doesn't wear his collar that way."
The Priest, getting impatient, said, "I am the Father of hundreds," and went back to reading his book.
The little boy sat quietly thinking for a while, then leaned over and said, "Maybe you should wear your pants backwards instead of your collar."

Have a great weekend everyone.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Funny at first, but now kind of Annoying

I forgot to add one thing to my list, so I think I'll write about it while the rest of you get in on the voting.

When Ell and I went to Minneapolis in August, we returned to find two of those plastic pink flamingo lawn ornaments in front of our house. No note, no explanation, no voicemail, nothing. I've been involved in some good practical jokes before, so I thought this was pretty funny. We of course tried to find out who had done it. Many of our friends were over that weekend for the meteor shower, and all of them claimed to know nothing of the origin of the pink plastic birds. Tacky as they are, we left them in the yard just for the fun of it.

The next week we got an unmarked envelope in the mail. Inside was a picture. At first we thought the picture was messed up because it was double exposed. You know, how the film doesn't advance and two images end up on the same frame. Anyway, both images showed the pink flamingos at local places. So first we had unexplained lawn ornaments, and now a random picture of those same lawn ornaments around town. Still pretty funny that someone went to the trouble to make us laugh.

Well, since then we've received four or five more pictures, each one decidedly more messed up. The first one had only been double exposed; these new ones were triple and quadruple and quintuple exposed. They were so busy and messy we couldn't even tell where they'd been taken or what was in them. We saw a flash of pink here and maybe another there, so the theme had continued but the delivery was getting really poor. And we were starting to get annoyed.

Not annoyed so much at the prank itself, but that it wasn't really even a prank at all. For a practical joke such as this to be effective, you're supposed to steal something a person owns and then take pictures of it at random locations. The traveling gnome is the best well-known example of this. This strange variation on the idea just doesn't work. Nothing of mine was stolen, so I have no attachment to the item. And even if I did, they left it in my yard. That's means I'm not even missing it. The pictures are supposed to be clues as to the item's location, which, as I've stated, is still in my yard. But once again, even if the prank was done right, the pictures are supposed to give clues to where the item is traveling. These pictures are so over exposed you can barely, if at all, make out any of the places.

The only thing that might redeem this situation is that maybe I'm just not getting something. Maybe I'm just not figuring out what they're trying to do. I still want to be pleased someone decided to play a joke on us, but it's been so very poorly done. All the pleasure I would normally feel in this kind of situation is squashed because the joke just doesn't make any sense. Am I wrong in feeling this way? I'm a joker, and I think a joke should make at least a little sense. Don't you?

Sunday, September 09, 2007

He returns

To those who have expressed your extreme dissatisfaction at my absence, I apologize. While my lack of posting doesn't come anywhere near that of those like say, well, you know who you are, it was still my longest time ever away from the blogosphere. Almost ten whole days without reading or writing.

But not thinking. Yikes! I have about twenty ideas and half-written posts roaming around in my empty skull. So (more for my sake than anyone else,) here's a list of those I can remember. I'll try to write about all of them on the list, as well as some others, in the next few weeks. Feel free to let me know if you want to hear about one or two sooner than later. I'll try to accommodate.

1) Our most recent trip to Minneapolis (and the reason for my non-blogging.)
2) The actual event of Lollapalooza and how I think it was the best put-together music event, or any large event for that matter, I've ever been to or heard of.
3) The potentially controversial topic of how college has become a business and how they no longer have the best interest of students in mind. Along with that how a college education may be growing worthless and possibly no longer needed if things don't change.
4) How eye-opening it can be to get the honest opinion of a 7 year old.
5) A garden update.
6) Our house and how I feel about it versus what other's must think. See # 4.
7) A realization of what "normal" people may think about me thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail.
8) Some deeply personal (and embarrassing) revelations about my two biggest fears/problems in life.
9) Figuring out the meaning (and justification) of saying the expression, "Peace."

10) Thoughts on my summer as a vegetarian.

I'll start writing tomorrow; rather, I'll try. Being off work for a week in a place where no one else can do the job you do makes for a rather large pile of paperwork when you return.