Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday Funny

I'm not Italian, but my very Italian friends thought this joke was hilarious. And in honor of Bill Gates last day before retirement, here you go...

Luigi (father): I want you to marry a girl of my choice.
Son: I will choose my own bride!
Luigi: But the girl is Bill Gates daughter.
Son: Well in that case, OK.
Next, Luigi approaches Bill Gates.
Luigi: I have a husband for your daughter.
Bill Gates: But my daughter is too young to marry!
Luigi: But this young man is a Vice-President of the World Bank.
Bill Gates: Well, in that case, OK.
Luigi then goes to see the President of the World Bank.
Luigi: I have a young man to be recommended as a Vice-President.
President: But I already have more Vice-Presidents than I need!
Luigi: But this young man is Bill Gate's son-in-law.
President: Ah, in that case, OK.

And that, my friends, is how Italians do business.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Marriage and Divorce stats

I know I said I wouldn't be around for awhile, but I wanted to share this.

On the way home from work yesterday I was listening to the West Virginia NPR station. (I enjoy a good West Virginia joke as much as the next guy, but working so close you get a different, more serious, take on the folks who live there. That can be for the good or the bad.) They stated that the West Virginia state Marriage/Divorce statistics were out for calendar year, 2007. Here are the highlights...
  • For the sixth consecutive year, the total number of marriages as well as divorces has fallen in West Virginia
  • The oldest man to be married: 96
  • The oldest woman to be married: 89
  • The youngest man to be married: 16
  • The youngest woman to be married: 14
  • The oldest woman to get divorced: 82
  • The youngest woman to get divorced: 13
  • Longest marriage to end divorced: 56 years

Alright, now there are some obvious things to be discussed, but I'll leave that to you. What do you think about these stats?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

They're home

Josh, Kyle, Evan, Lyndsay, Andrew........ and I'm pretty happy. (And tired.) I only have a few precious days with all of them, so I won't be writing too much here. Hope I can be forgiven, I promise to be back into the fray soon enough. Until then...


Friday, June 20, 2008

Friday Funny

Happy first day of Summer. In honor of this occasion, I'm going to once again combine a Friday Funny with an At the Bank selection. This is a good one too.

We have a comments section in our computer system at the bank, and any employee who has access to a customer's account profile can add information that would be helpful to other employees. Last week we had a customer who was having all kinds of overdraft issues. When I looked up his account I found this addition from an operator in our telephone banking department...

5/8/2008 Do not give info over the phone
to this customer. Says he is a transgendered
male. My supv. said to have him go to branch.
If he is indeed transgender, please put an
alert on the account at branch level so we
won't inconvenience him again. Cust extremely
irate and hostile despite my attempts to
explain our policies to him. Do not give him
my name as he repeatedly threatened me.

Yes, folks, sometimes this job can be fun. Have a great weekend everyone.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Slowtoke # 5 original

Yesterday a package arrived in my PO box. I hurried home and after carefully cutting the packing tape, I opened the box and pulled out a red velvet bag (nice touch, btw). Inside was something I only vaguely recognized.

I had recently made a deal with one of the brothers on CPS to purchase his fifth attempt at a hand carved pipe. From the pictures I was expecting a smaller bowled pipe, more reminiscent of, say, a Peterson Donnegal. Well, I was pleasantly surprised. Folks, let me tell you, this pipe is much bigger than the pictures suggest. I have big hands and long fingers, and despite those two facts I couldn't touch the tips of my thumb and middle finger around the girth of the bowl. And one more thing, it's also more gorgeous in person than in print.

I took it with me to the guys Bible Study I lead, and then to one of our friend's house afterwards. As I pulled out the red velvet bag (again, nice touch), the porch we were sitting on fell silent. I slowly uncovered first the coal black and snow white stem, and then the fire grained-opposite-birdseye apple/tomato shaped bowl. After it was passed around (and smudged up with 10 sets of fingerprints) I wiped it down and Frank-Method filled it with a healthy dose of Frog Morton On The Town.

I can honestly say, I've never smoked a larger bowled pipe, and I've never smoked a single pipe for a longer space of time. As usual, I had difficulty getting the FMOTT lit. Once I did though, and had a nice flat ash across the top, I only re-lit once over an hour and 45 minute smoke. It was one of my top five most memorable smokes of all time. Good friends, Great Lakes beer, good conversation, good tobacco, and an amazing pipe. Thanks, Wayne. You are a true craftsman. The check's in the mail.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Randomness with Kevin's blessing

Sometimes my mind gets crazy with multiple thoughts; I'm talking hundreds upon hundreds. This has been one of those weeks. Usually I try to really attack a topic, but there has seemed to be too many things in the 'ol gray matter to be effective writing about any one of them. But Kevin did a random post, so I'm taking that as a clearing to throw some stuff out there.

Ell called me uber-excited yesterday with the news that there was a, "Paid in full" letter in the mail with the title to my car enclosed within. That means we own it free and clear. So besides that good feeling, we also are out from under a $480 a month car payment. That's an even better feeling. If only I hadn't averaged 28,000 miles a year on it, I'd have a five year old car that was still in pretty good shape. It's still an awesome car with no problems, but a car with those kind of miles is bound to start showing it's wear. Oh well, now it's mine.

I'm still pretty down about Kimmy's mom and death in general. Last night I heard that Tim Russert had died suddenly. It felt weird to be sad for a guy I'd never met, especially in the wake of what Kimmy must be going through, but I couldn't help it. He was one of the most amazing political interviewers of all time. For almost 4 months of Sunday mornings, I spent an hour with him as he interviewed all the presidential candidates from both parties. He was intensely in-your-face while always maintaining an insistent politeness. He was better prepared for his interviews than any other journalist I've ever seen, and I would marvel at the obscure and often too-revealing quotes he would find. He had a unique way of making politicians answer questions in very un-politician ways. I have mad respect for people who can talk politics without letting their personal beliefs and one-sided views block the chance to actually learn something new. I loved what he did and how he did it.

But more than all of that, it seemed like Tim Russert was an all around great guy. I turned on the TV this morning at 7am to check the weather and instead stumbled on a special two hour tribute from his co-workers, colleagues, politicians, opposing time slot anchors, bosses, subordinates, presidents past and present, family, and friends. I can't remember this much ado over any person in a long time. He was so genuine and real that it seemed like I knew him personally. And from what was said about him this morning, I wasn't the only one with those kind of emotions. Tim Russert, I'm going to miss you. You were a fine American.

Job update: the job I'd interviewed twice for had been narrowed down to me and one other person... I didn't get it. From what the HR head said, the other person was internal and they needed the new position up and running quickly. I would have required some training and this person wouldn't being internal. Whether she was blowing smoke up my butt or not, it was kinda reassuring to have been one of the last two people being considered. And she said she'd consider me for anything in the future as well.

So back to looking. After I received that news, I called a lead a friend had given me and I should have an interview next week. And the thing I have to keep reminding myself, I still have a job. I know a lot of people who can't say that and are struggling with what that means in their life.

My friends Andrew and Lyndsay are coming home next weekend from Minneapolis. And my friend Evan is coming home from Cuba around the same time. My friends Kyle and Josh and Megan are all home as well. I enjoy the fact that the age of my friends has such a wide range, but it sucks when the younger ones go away to school and careers. So the next couple weeks they'll all be home and I'll be happy. I can't wait.

The winter garden is done and the spring one I kind of missed. (Thank goodness for the asparagus growing or there wouldn't have been anything out there at all.) So onto the summer one. And it's doing great. A rundown of what's planted right now...

yellow onions, red onions, peas, beans, sweet corn, sunflower mix, marigolds, pumpkins, zucchini, two kinds of cucumbers, three kinds of carrots, two varieties of tomatoes, four hot peppers, orange sweet peppers, garlic, yellow beets, spicy mesclun, chinese cabbage, three kinds of basil, and some other things I know I'm missing. Of those, at least half are sustainable seeds I've saved and will never have to buy again. That's where the magic is, folks. It brings a smile to my face even now.

This got kinda long, so I'll end it. Oh, check out my sister Kristen's blog. (Click on Kristen in my roll.) There's an absolutely awesome picture of my niece, Aurora. She's heading to vacation and she's so adorable.

Alright, enough for now.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


My friend Linda sent me an email asking me to post. So here I am.

Truth is, I've wanted to post about a hundred times. About my garden. About my plans for a canal thru-hike. About the intense time at our Band of Brothers group and the plans we made for the 24th. About my wife. About my job. About my prayer life. About the heat. About my friend Mike and his recent thoughts. About my friends coming home.

Then I found out about the death of my dear friend Kimmy's Mom. At that point all the stuff in my head seemed so stupid and selfish. It seemed like, in the big picture, that all the stuff going on in my life was small and silly compared to the absolute sadness Kimmy (and her brother, Mike) must be feeling. How empty life must seem when one loses a parent. I had already missed the calling hours and couldn't go to the funeral, so I couldn't even give her a big Sam hug. Honestly, I felt helpless and useless to help. I prayed for her. That's all I could do.

So there's my post. I'm sorry it's short and down. Love you Kimmy. I hope you see this through only the way you can do. I hope to meet your Mom in heaven one day.


Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Alright, if my post about farmer blows didn't gross you out enough, lets try another just-as-personal issue.

I don't wear deodorant/antiperspirant. Well, not with regularity, anyway. Haven't for a few years. Why, you ask? For starters, I've seen quite a few people die a slow, incomprehensible death from the disease called Alzheimer's. At some point I found out aluminum was a leading cause in the onset of Alzheimer's (amongst other things,) and that the active ingredient in antiperspirant was in fact, aluminum. That fear, whether rational or irrational, scared me enough to throw away the stuff I had and begin an extensive search to find alternatives.

Through that search I tried a lot of stuff. The crystal bar, the handheld crystal, straight deodorant, deodorant soap; I even tried the scentlok soap that hunters use to trick the deer. Some of it worked, some of it didn't, some of it left horrible rashes, and some of it burned my skin raw. At some point, can't remember when, I quit looking and stopped wearing anything at all. And you know what? I quit having any odor issues.

If you know me well you know how much I LOVE a good conspiracy theory. The fact that I had quit stinking despite no longer using deodorant/antiperspirant, well, that raised an alarm. So I did a little research and discovered the stuff wasn't even invented until the years around WWII. So what did people do before that? The simple answer is probably that they wore a lot of perfume to cover up the stench. But I doubt the entire population of the United States(especially in the post-Depression era) spent their hard earned dollars on stinky alcohol-based skin sweeteners. My bet is that very few people smelled at all if they practiced regular hygiene.

So how did it get to be such a successful seller and an almost given part of our daily routines? Simple really... good marketing. (The thing I attest to much of the waste and foolish spending in this country.) Let's look at the facts:
  • Every kid who goes through puberty stinks, from a combination of playing/working too hard and not knowing how to properly clean themselves in their new hairy skin.
  • Adults that work hard, or long, eventually smell before they can get cleaned up.
  • Summertime brings about sweating and sweating can bring about odor.
  • Women (much more than men) don't like to smell bad. See previous two points.

So what does a company who wants to sell stuff do in these situations? Blow them up and make them seem much worse than they are, of course. Did you know the first deodorant/antiperspirant advertisement to ever be placed in a magazine was in Better Homes & Gardens (a mag read predominately by middle-class women) in their June, July, and August releases? If that doesn't scream, "I'm gonna play on your fears and trick you into buying something forever that you only need for awhile," I don't know what does.

My theory is that proper cleaning will cleanse the odor ducts in the human underarm. Deodorant masks it and then exposes it if left without, but I think the body rights itself and cleanses itself from that odor after a few days. I know it to be so in my own body, and I'ld (that contraction's for you, Adrienne) wager a good many others would find it to be so if they had the guts to try it.

Here's the big question... do I ever smell now that I don't wear deodorant/antiperspirant? I think Ell can best answer that one, and I think her answer would be a resounding, "Yes." I sometimes go without showering, wearing shoes, eating cooked food, etc. At the end of those back-to-nature days, I've built up a hefty reek. A little soap and water takes it right away though, as it would for most people, I believe. I'm sure there are days I smell a little and maybe offend some people, but no one's ever said anything to me, including my best friends. So, for now I'm sticking with my theory.

Anyone still wanna be my friend?