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21 posts from May 2008

Don't wanna be all by myself...

I walked into a bathroom today to do what, well, needed to be done. And I found out I was sharing a bathroom with someone else. No, this is not a problem for me. Except if it smells bad. But that's another story.

I was using one of the two urinals in the bathroom while the other "guest" was using the toilet in the stall. And you have to understand that guys, unlike women, go the bathroom individually. We do not go in groups because bathrooms are not a social area for us. For the most part, we do not talk, we do not look at each other, and we make no noise whatsoever that isn't appropriate for a bathroom. That's just how we are.

So, in the silence of this bathroom, I hear a *click* *click* *click* sound from the stall. I know I've heard it before, but I couldn't quite place it. So I keep listening. About 10 seconds later I realize what it is... the dude in the stall is messaging away on his Blackberry.

I know people do some strange shit in the bathroom aside from my bad pun, but using your Blackberry? In there? Really?

Remind me never to ask to borrow his phone, okay?

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I think Katie and I are finally going to see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull this weekend. I'm surprised we haven't already seen it, to be honest, but we haven't really been compelled to hit the show. It's received decent reviews. Nothing spectacular by any stretch of the imagination, though. Have any of you seen it yet? Recommend or no?

I also have to admit I'm kinda curious about The Strangers. It's the film opening this weekend about the couple (Scott Speedman and Liv Tyler) terrorized by three masked baddies in their home. Something about it looks different than the other crap that passes as "horror" these days. And the more I think about it, the more I really want to see it although I'm pretty certain Katie will have none of it. Might be an all-by-myself film next Tuesday night while Katie's in class. Yeah, she starts summer school next week. Blech.


Didn't I blow your mind this time...

Dodgeball is over. Finally. I'm pretty sure I said it was over a couple weeks ago and, at the time, I really thought it was. However, they played a make-up game last week that dated back to the beginning of the season and we actually won. Against the number one team no less. So that got us into the playoffs and the first round of that was last night.

The problem with last week's game was that it apparently got a bit heated. Dodgeball is like that. It relies on an honor system that is rarely honored. Combine that with the fact that we had a dipshit of a kid playing referee each week and the result is 12 supposedly grown adults on the playing court at a time (not including those on the sideline) bickering back and forth about who is and who is not out and what rules are being enforced that weren't the week before.

Last week, they almost came to blows over it. Literally. One person said something another said "fuck off" and it ended with someone on my team nearly being jumped in the parking lot.

The same thing almost happened last night. People were yelling at each other, flipping the bird, cursing and swearing. Sideliners and fans were yelling at players and vice versa. A nun called a young child a 'cunt rag' (tons of love to the person who catches that reference). And the ref did nothing about any of it. Basically, it's like a variation of that old joke "I went to a fight and a dodgeball game erupted in the middle of it" or some such.

I'm glad the season is over. I don't know if I could take any more of it. Katie was actually there for the first time this season (her classes ran the same night) and she was wishing she didn't come because everyone's negativity rubbed off on her ruining what was otherwise a fairly decent day. I felt horrible for her because I wanted her to be there and this happened.

Can't we all just get along?

Iloveyouthismuchaward Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Thankfully, though, some news came my way that reversed all that negative sentiment I've been feeling. It came in the form of an "I Love You This Much" award from one of my fave Brit bloggers Penelope! Totally unexpected and I completely love her for it. Thanks!

Now, though, I have to pass it on to 10 other bloggers. I'm looking back through the recipient chain in an attempt to try to pick people that haven't already received this award or that last one I gave out a couple months ago. I can't guarantee that will actually happen, but I'll try. Also, do I really have to give reasons why or can it just be assumed that I love 'em? Well, it's going to have to be assumed.

And remember, just because you're not on this list doesn't mean I don't love you. I can only get 10. I will try to get to you next time.


You come from out of nowhere...

I'm feeling snippety today...

Iowa
You read stories like this and you just want to huddle in a corner and will time to rewind so that you can stop it from ever happening. Britt, I have no idea what to say other than I'm so, so sorry. Please know that we're there for you.

Sorry to hit you all so hard right in the beginning. But Britt is a friend and we here in the Blogosphere try to care about our friends as best we can. Even if just in a virtual sense.

I will try to be a bit more lighthearted from here on out. 'Tay?

Glasses
Anybody who says glasses aren't hot haven't seen this picture yet. Total hotness!

A closer look

Florida
Here are the pictures from Florida that I promised. Apparently I took a lot more than I remember. I thought it was maybe 50 photos and it turned out to be 148 not including what I'm not uploading to Flickr (maybe another 10). So enjoy. And, yeah, you have to click through from your reader to see the photo applet or you can just view the album directly on Flickr.

Baby
Suze and Nat, aren't you proud of your countrymen?

Derailed
And this might be one of the reasons I'm glad I don't take public transit. Can you imagine if that y-split in the rail wasn't there to catch them?


1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, or 10...

We are back. Actually, we've been back since Saturday, but just haven't wanted to admit it. That would mean we must acknowledge the inevitable return to reality and that's just something neither of us were willing to do. So we planted our asses in front of the DVR for the past couple days and did nothing. Not even laundry. We're a couple of sad sacks.

But here's the recap of our vacation by the numbers...

  • 1,400 - the approximate number of miles we drove
  • 2 - the number of rental cars we had (we hated the first one and traded it in)
  • 4 - the number of hotels we stayed at
  • 7 - the number of cities we visited
  • 0 - the number of wildfires we saw despite news reports that claim we should have driven through or near about three or four
  • 0 - the number of Florida Panthers and Key Deer we encountered in designated Florida Panther and Key Deer crossing zones
  • 2 - the number of alligators we saw in the wild, but not in designated alligator crossing zones
  • 1 - the number of pairs of sunglasses stolen from our rental car by valet services (also the number of pairs of new sunglasses we were forced to purchase while down there)
  • 10 - the number of Benadryls I consumed to ensure I fell asleep in strange (read: "not our") beds
  • 5 - the number of restaurants at which Katie and I attempted to eat dinner on Duval Street in Key West before finally finding one that had seating and a low enough decibel count so we could talk
  • ~50 - the number of photos I took and have yet to post to Flickr (sorry, I was taking it all in as opposed to photographing it)
  • 23 - the number of updates I made via Twitter
  • 5 - the number of guest posts done on my site (thank you all again!)
  • 3 - the number of messages on our answering machine at home (this does not include voicemails at work of which I'm sure there are plenty)
  • 872 - the number of spam e-mails in my gmail account
  • 40 - the number of legitimate e-mails in my gmail account (kinda low and for that, I'm happy)
  • 1000+ - the number of feeds I have to read in Google Reader (it's so high, they can't even tell me how many... I'm scared)

Greader

I think it might be time for a vacation. Oh wait...

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Well, I thought my brother's truck had already sold since the old Craig's List ad died out, but it did not. Here it is again, with a newly reduced price!


It's All I Can Do To Keep Waiting For You

Dateline: Miami, Florida, Thursday evening, May 22, 2008

**ring**

“Hello”

“Hey Kevin… it’s Marty from Banal Leakage”

“Um.. hi. Is everything ok? And how did you get this number?”

“huh.. oh, nevermind that… how ARE things?… well, not exactly good… here’s what we got… Dustin has frozen himself with a note that says, DO NOT THAW FOR 10,000 YEARS… Nilsa has her hand in the air, listening to Slayer and yelling ‘666’, obviously confused about her guest post count…”

“ok…”

Ajooja is wearing a beer-stained Bears jersey, shouting ‘GO CARDS’ while Porn Wars is playing in the background on the computer.”

“Wow. I guess I never should have let anyone el…”

“Wait, that’s not all… Bec was late today and kept mumbling something about ‘bloody blokes can’t clean up after themselves’, while discussing the weather in England.”

“So… are you going to be ok to blog for me tomorrow? I mean, it sounds like pure chaos there.”

“Not a problem. Got it all handled from here. See you when you get back.”

“Ok… bye” …click!

**wipes forehead**

“OK guys and gals, it’s all good. Ajooja, pass me another beer. Can you turn up the stereo, Nilsa? Will someone please check Dustin before he gets hypothermia and I will tell Bec that she needs to turn over before she gets a nasty sunburn.”

Guest posting can be a chore, but it can also be at lot of fun while the chief is away.

Hello all. I’m Marty Mankins from Banal Leakage.com

I’ve been blogging on and off since February 2002, but became really serious about it on April 1st of this year when I decided I needed to find the best method of getting me back to writing on a regular basis. My previous writing experience was from 1991 to 1996, when I wrote a newsletter, a short-lived magazine, dozens of freelancing gigs and a few research projects for other writers and editors. For the last 12 years, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to find my way in life, fixing other people’s problems and putting myself back into a position of being a writer again.

As my first stint guest blogging (thanks, Kevin), it’s really not as much of a party as I outlined above. Waiting until Friday to post gave me a chance to think of a few subjects I wanted to talk about, but that changed each day. And I wanted to find a lyric that would fit my post. The lyric was the only thing I came up with.

So that’s it? No words of wisdom or a funny antidote or a crazy story?

Well, it wouldn’t be a guest post without discussing something that’s on my mind. And today that would be waiting. Waiting for others.

There are times when I go to pick up my daughter to go somewhere. I always call ahead to make sure she is ready. But once I arrive at her house, I wait for her. Sometimes it’s only 10 minutes. Sometimes it’s longer. Much longer.

I understand that a 16 year old lives by another time schedule than the rest of the world. But I wouldn’t be honest if I said it didn’t test my patience level. And I’m a pretty patient person, but as I advance in age, my patience level withers at a faster pace.

And it’s not just my daughter’s lag time that keeps me waiting. I come into contact with many others throughout the week that I need to wait on.... in line at lunch, at the grocery store, behind the SUV filling up at the gas station, at the many red lights I am stopped at on my way to work. It seems like an endless loop of delays.

I deal with it the best I can. And where I have a voice, I am hoping that the guilty party will hear me and react accordingly. Until then, I simply plan to wait. And wait some more.

So with that, it’s time to kick everyone out, clean up this mess and get the hell out of here so I can start my Memorial Day weekend. Cheers, have fun, be safe and come over to visit me at Banal Leakage. Uh… Oh yeah… and come back here once Kevin returns next week.


Up here in my tree... yeah

Me

Testing... testing... Cough...

Kevin must have gone bloody mad asking me to guest post.  I’m Bec from Out Of My Tree - English, female, 30, single and knackered.

Being from England - obviously I know the Queen and live in a mansion surrounded by servants and people called Giles.  We play croquet on the lawn before Afternoon Tea, and the time I spent in an all girls boarding school have been the source material for a number of top shelf movies.  I call everyone ‘love’ or ‘geezer’, know all the words to Rule Britannia and watch Wimbledon with a glass of Pimms and a bowl of strawberries and cream.

Oh ho but seriously... Being English in the blogging world is no different than being from anywhere else except we spell things  properly  differently and never get excited by politics.

What the subject of this guest post (my very first - are the nerves coming through) was going to be has been a great source of discussion between the left and right sides of my brain, and I decided rather daftly to not talk about ways we can help the planet or each other, or talk about sport or sex or even chocolate but talk instead about the weather.  Did I mention the English thing? For yes, as sure as the sun shines (somewhere) and the grass will always be greener on the other side, we as a nation love to talk about the weather.

Occasionally we’ll get ‘a drop of water’ (a bad flood) or ‘a bit of wind’ (a hurricane) but mostly it’s either ‘a little bit drizzly’ or “mmm, quite nice out’.  Revelling in the mundane is the way to go.  A few months ago there was a ‘bit of a shaking’ (earthquake) here reaching a massive 5.2.  A chimney fell down and people all over the country were woken from their sleep.  Craziness also hit.  (Yes, I know the movement of earth is not really weather but being imprecise is a prerogative)

The one thing that is quite good here is the fact that the weather changes.  A lot.  We can have temperatures of 23° (a ‘heatwave’) and the next day snow.  A meteorologist will tell you why, I just think it’s fantastic.

There was a moment today when I was travelling home on the bus reading and paying no attention.  There was a sudden and blinding brightness and I looked up wondering why the  driver had switched the lights on.  But it was much better than that.  The sun shone through the clouds for a moment and I became transfixed.  Just for a moment.  It’s the one place you can guarantee will always be good to look at in England. The sky.

Yep, so that went a little wibbly.  But I didn’t break this blog and I am hoping I didn’t bore you.  I’m going to run away and hide now.

Oh, tell Kevin I used all the milk in the fridge and I left the key under the mat.


One Thousand Times More

My most-recent fake Internet name is ajooja. I used to have a humor blog but I stopped being funny when I started taking Paxil. I'm not over-medicated like I was on Prozac. I could have walked into my office to find one of my co-worker's slain body in a pool of blood, only to step over it and ask, "So, what do you guys want to do for lunch?"

With half a Paxil in my system each day, the zingers aren't quite as frequent but I'm a much better person.

KevinI've only known Kevin for about a year but I'm honored to give you his 1,000th post.

I started this morning by digging into his archives. His first post here was about a mouse. I have OCD issues with animals so I just skimmed it and moved on. I felt much more in-tune the next few posts as I learned about his love for Batman, clever t-shirts, and macaroni and cheese. I also learned he'd been blogging since 2001.

He writes openly about his family and the people he loves. Foremost on that list is his wife Katie. He loves her more than he can put into words sometimes, and misses her when they're apart. I love that kind of stuff.

I get the feeling he's a little more conservative than me (who isn't?) but he did provide a link to the viral video Porn Wars.

Post after post, I learned much more about Kevin than I knew before. He's a well-rounded, regular guy.

He reads lots of books, drinks beer, and listens to rock music. He's a Macwhore, a nerd, he wears boxer briefs. He plays guitar and likes to watch movies. He likes Netflix and Tivo and a dastardly team known as the Cubs.

Don't get me wrong. I think it's great that he's a Bears fan, I get that.

But here in St. Louis, it just gets under my skin to think about someone as nice as Kevin actually rooting for the Cubs.

He was very gracious in 2005 when the White Sox won the world series. I kept clicking through the pages, wondering how he'd react when my Cardinals won the 2006 world championship. He was a bit dismissive but it was much better than I expected.

Then again, I shouldn't have expected anything worse.

He's still a great guy.

Congratulations, Kevin.


Empty Brain

Julia_sylvester_may_2008_165_2 Hey there, kapgar readers! How goes it?! It's Nilsa here, from that other blog over there called SoMi (fondly named after my dog, even though it's not a dog blog at all). So, kapgar here asked me to guest post for him. And seeing this was my first invitation ever to guest post, I just couldn't pass up the opportunity.

I mean, I have all the time in the world to guest post. I'm not planning a wedding. Or selling my condo. Or moving in less than 3 weeks. And my commute to work hasn't doubled or even tripled in time due to road construction. On. Every. Single. Highway. Drive. Avenue. Street. Sidewalk. No, really! I have lots of time. No one said kapgar picked smart people to guest blog for him. Probably because he wants to guarantee you'll still be here when he gets back. He'd prefer you not run off with the guest blogger, even though I'm going to dangle a little carrot for you! I dare you to grab it! And run, far away!

So, I've been wracking (racking?) my brain, trying to come up with something clever to say. Word on the street is this is kapgar's 999th post. That's a lot of pressure. At first, I thought 999, kinda like 1999. Let's do a little Prince diddy. But, nah, I wasn't creative enough to make that one work. Then, I was thinking of the devil reincarnated (666 --> 999). Again, a dead end. My fiance suggested all things costing $9.99. But, let's face it, I'm not that cheap (it's ok; you can feel sorry for him; I do).

And so, I've got to admit. I have nothing. Even though kapgar gave me carte blanche to run with this post. Even though I could touch on one of the many taboo subjects I'd never write about on my own blog. Even though I'm a Cardinals fan living in a sea of Cubs. And a Tar Heels fan living among Illini fans. It's crazy the amount of freedom I have to write. And all I could do is come up with this here little meme I saw on another blog. Forgive me... my brain is running on empty.

Where are you typing from?
It's really sad I can't answer this honestly. But, I've gone undercover. So, I may be writing from home. Or work. Or the gym. Or the coffeehouse. I may not be typing at all, but rather giving dictation to my underlings. Yes, I'm that important.

Occupation?
Consultant turned Guest Blogger soon to be Freader Stealer.

Relationship Status?

Got one ring on the finger, the other one is on the way. Hence, wedding planning mentioned above!

How do you know kapgar?
Technically, I don't. I can't tell you how many times kapgar has said, "How could you write such things? It's like I don't know you anymore." As if we actually knew each other in the first place. Though, I seem to recall a certain Mizz Sizzle connecting two fellow Chicago bloggers. Even though kapgar lives in cornfields compared to my urban living.

If you had to sell kapgar to someone, what would you say?
Uh, geez. That's not fair. I don't even know the guy. See paragraph above. I kid. Actually, I'd tell them he has excellent taste in music (thanks for the mix CDs!) and is one of the most open minded bloggers I know. Because, we all know bloggers have opinions. And the kapgar apple doesn't fall far from the blogging tree. But sometimes, our opinions go to town, butting heads, getting kicked out of bars and the like. And you know what? kapgar is always so gracious about it. Helping me back up after he's kicked me down.

What's your favorite part about kapgar?
Seriously? C'mon. You already asked me to sell kapgar. Isn't that kind of like telling you the things I like about him? I'm done with this line of questioning. Let's keep it moving.

If you had a last meal on earth, what would it be?
Likely my mom's calamari. Cooked in a white wine sauce with tomatoes and cilantro. It was my first introduction to the slippery little suckers. Well before fried calamari went mainstream. And to this day, it's one of my all-time favorites.

What's your signature wedding drink?
Oooh. Weddings. Drinks. I'd say any kind of Mandarin/Orange vodka and 7-Up. It goes down oh so smooth!

Would you rather be the celebrity or in the entourage?
That's tough. Instead, I choose Answer C (because when in doubt, choose C) - a member of the paparazzi. I always was the one behind the camera!

Dream vacation destination?
Costa Rica. Hawaii. Greece. Mediterranean. At least I'm knocking one of them out on my honeymoon! Always good to have a running list. Because you just never know when you'll win the lottery. (Note to self: start buying lottery tickets!)

Favorite restaurant?
In Chicago, it'd have to be Cafe Laguardia. Yummy Cuban goodness!

What's your favorite blog (besides kapgar)?

That's not entirely fair. Because I have a lot of favorites. In fact, I tend not to read blogs that don't fall into my favorites. So, today, I'm going to give a shout out to To Kiss The Cook, because she introduced me to Ron, who not only has been kicking my ass back into shape, but who likely threw one helluva party over the weekend (I'm lame and didn't go, but I had a good excuse!).

Least favorite day of the week? Sunday 9PM - Monday 8:59PM. It's not technically a day. But, what are you gonna do, fire me? Fine, go ahead! But not before a few more of kapgar's freaders promise to come to the dark side!

What's the oddest thing you have ever publicly witnessed?
Two adults doing it doggie style next to the highway. I'm not kidding.

What's the next big thing you are looking forward to?
My wedding: 10.18.08!!Well, that's not entirely true. Because there is usually something each and every day that gets me excited. But, that's a big one. The wedding day. Hard to ignore. And if I have to bundle my answer into this here nice little box, then that's the answer you're gonna get!

Alright, That's all from here! Hope to see you today, tomorrow and every future day over at SoMi! But really, I'm not stealing your readers, kapgar. I'm just gently encouraging them to expand their horizons. By visiting me old blog. It needs bloggylove, too, ya know.


Stupid Brain

What up peeps.  Kevin is in jail for the week or in the Bahamas or something so you're stuck with his crusty group of replacement bloggers for the next five days.  I wandered over from my own little unkempt corner to make sure his blog doesn't fall apart while he's making bail or pina coladas errrr whatever.  Enjoy!

--------------------

If any normal, rational person could get inside my head and read my thoughts, it would be a pretty safe bet that 10 out of 10 concerned citizens would volunteer me for a vacation in a room with padded walls.  I say this not because I hear lots of voices or anything, but more to the point that the one voice I do hear (my own internal monologue) is so cracked out that the only logical conclusion must be that I'm a few croutons short of a salad.

In my head I live in this world where I'm more or less the biggest bad ass to walk the face of the earth, which means, if you've ever met me you're probably mouthing the word "delusional" right now.  And you would be right in doing so.

For instance I have this on running fantasy in my head that on my way to work one day I get cited for jay walking, but instead of dutifully accepting the ticket and apologizing for ignoring my civic duty, I mouth off to the bike cops.  Usually the picture show in my brain has me calling the nice officers  tri-cycle  rent-a-cops  and telling them to go stop a real crime and stop wasting tax payer's money.  It's usually about halfway through these little day dreams of mine that the logic factor kicks in and makes me realize that about the time I got done uttering the word "tri-cycle" any normal cop would probably taz me in the face and I'd more than likely be the guy who violently loses control of his bodily functions  when a large amount of electricity  gets introduced to his body.  So pretty much I go from thinking how much I'd love to tell off cops to picturing myself rolling in the gutters with poo stained chinos. 

I also have this fantasy where someone breaks into my house in the middle of the night and I get to engage them in mortal combat for the sake of self defense (very red-blooded of me, no?).  The sequence always starts cool enough with me using like a belt or a picture frame to deflect their knife attacks and then round house kicking them through the living room window.  But wouldn't ya know it, about the time I'm trying to enjoy the limelight of having Van-Dam'd some punkass through a large sheet of glass the logic kicks in and makes me re-evaluate.  Usually I end up re-thinking the whole scenario and realizing that more than likely, I'd be on the toilet when someone decided to break into my place and instead of some swiss army knife, they'd probably be packing a shotgun or other large bore weapon. So suddenly in my head I've gone from ass-kicking urban  hero with his fists raised high doing the Rocky dance to sitting on the john with a barrel shoved in his face literally crapping his guts out.  And no, I don't think it's any coincidence that every time I spoil my own fantasies it usually involves fecal matter.  There's a metaphor in there I just know it.

Probably the most disturbing thing about my buzz kill of a rational side is that it doesn't seem to bode well evolutionarily for me.  My delusions of grandeur are totally understandable when looked at in the context of natural selection.  As a caveman I needed to be able to visualize myself taking out a whole of herd of Woolly Mammoths with nothing but a stick and some rocks...ya know...fight or flight.  Cavechicks dig a man with big dreams.  But throw in the tendency for my head to spoil all my best day dreams and suddenly I'm not the caveman whose bringing home the Mammoth bacon.  No, in fact it's quite the opposite, I'm the caveman archaeologists dig out in pieces 10,000 years later because a Mammoth decided to kick me for a field goal.

And yes, I'd bet they'd find fossilized shit in my pre-historic loin cloth.


Somebody put me together...

I thought I'd leave you with one quickie pre-written post of snippets to say good bye before Katie and I head out to sunny F-L-A (it is sunny right now, isn't it?).

1000
First, I just realized, much to my dismay, that my 1,000th post is coming up very soon! Would you like to know how soon? Next week. When I'm gone. When I have a guest blogger posting in my absence. And the lucky stiff? Ajooja. Yep, my 1,000th post hits on Wednesday. No pressure, ajooja. None at all. Actually, I think you'd probably do better than I would. No, this was not a set up. I didn't find out until I started writing up this post. Sorry.

Twitter
I'd also like to let you know that I'm going to have some connectivity thanks in part to Brandon twittering ("twotting" as Hilly would call it) me a reminder to actually update my Twitter page. Yeah, as shitty as my cell phone is, I can still Twitter from it! So I'm going to post some Twitterfied updates from Florida. I won't know how to read replies as, the last time I checked, you cannot receive text alerts just for messages that are replies (it's either all or nothing, I believe, and I subscribe to enough Twitter users that I'd hate to have thousands of texts coming through on my phone).

So, if you wanna see what's going on during our trip, click the Twitter link in the sidebar and you'll find out. Oooh... maybe I'll tack in one of those Twitter applets in the sidebar too. That could work. Check that, not a maybe, it's already added. That was easy.

Bumper
I also wanted to take this opportunity to share with you that I've now found my new car. Check it out!

Crap car

Ain't she a beaut? There are some details about what I discovered on the car built into notes on the actual photo in Flickr so click on it to read them. Kinda funny. The owner has a pretty decent sense of humor.


You, you got what I need...

...like a Web connection and a willingness to play along!

Yep, the May return to Florida is nigh and Katie and I are hopping our plane tomorrow in the wee hours.

However, unlike San Francisco where I could find no computer to use without dishing out money and Las Vegas where I took no Web connected device and Florida in March where Disney wanted to bend me over and make gentle love to me in exchange for a WiFi connection, this time I'm not even gonna bother. No laptop. No Palm Pilot. And we all know my cell phone sucks.

So, yeah, I'm signing off for a week. Goin' dark, as it were.

But, don't you worry, I've got a fool's gallery, er, fine lineup of fellow bloggers willing to take the reigns on this site and let you know whatever they want to let you know. I've given them free reign to do and say whatever they want. This might terrify the normal blogger. However, I made sure not to invite Avitable so that cuts out about 99% of the potential for horror right there.

Oh, and as I've sworn I will always do so long as he's always willing, Dustin is back. He's been the only person to guest blog for me every time I've asked. Clearly KJ is keeping him well drugged.

Here's the schedule:

This should definitely be interesting...

Thanks to all of you for being willing to play along. And here's hoping that this guest blogging stint won't ruin your cred with your own readers.


Just to tell you once again, who's fat...

I've realized something about myself today. It's a very important discovery and one that will forever chart the course for my future perceptions of myself and what I can and cannot do.

I AM NOT FAT!

Yeah, you heard it here. I, Kevin Apgar, being of sound mind and now-semi-sound body, am declaring to the world that I am not fat.

I've struggled with this for some time. My weight has fluctuated from average sized to highly overweight with a grand emphasis on overweight.

But no more! Never again will I think that I am fat.

You wanna know how I rationalized this one? That gut of mine is not caused by fat, but by my embryonic twin. I ate him. Just like Dwight Schrute and this little Greek girl. I've always believed that this twin was the weaker link and the genetically superior other half of this twin set (me) overtook the poor sap.

However, that little bastard doesn't want to die and shrivel away into nothing. Clearly, I underestimated my twin. He is putting up a fight and making me eat for two. I suppose he figures if he cannot live as his own sentient being, he is intent on ruining my life by making me appear overweight.

Little prick. DIE! DIE! DIE!

Yeah, it's a slow day. Sorry. Got next week's vacation slurring around my head so I got nothin' of significance to contribute to the blogosphere.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I wonder if my embryonic twin looks anything like any of the characters in this brilliant little doozy. (Thanks, Eric!)


Quench my thirst with gasoline...

Yesterday I saw it. That thing I've been dreading for so long. I had heard rumors and seen news reports and photographs that other people had taken. But, until I saw it personally, I wasn't going to allow myself to believe it. And yet, there it was...

Regular unleaded gasoline for more than $4 per gallon. $4.07 to be exact. And after paying just $3.82 that very morning. Yeah, I say "just" as though $3.82 is a good price. Relatively speaking, I suppose it is.

I've also heard rumblings that, at this rate, the price will surpass $5 per gallon by June or July.

This is just disgusting and something desperately needs to be done about it.

Katie heard on the radio that some oil companies are feeling a slight pinch because people are not refueling all the way at their stations. They are purchasing just enough gas to get them to another station that will hopefully have lower prices. That's all fine and good, but you're still going to have to refuel, which means that someone is eventually going to get your hard-earned money anyway. And now  you're wasting more gas as you drive further and further to find that golden station with the ideal price.

Then there are the idiots who think those e-mails and campaigns in which they plead with you to not buy gas on a certain day are actually going to work. Well, hate to tell ya, but you're going to have to refuel sometime as well. Should you actually get enough people to buy into these bogus gas blackout days, the stations need only wait until, oh no, the next day to take your money.

There are only two things I can think to do that will help with this fuel crunch... buy more fuel-efficient vehicles (not necessarily hybrid, just fuel efficient) and stop buying oil from OPEC.

The first requires that we, as drivers, get over our bullshit belief that bigger and more expensive vehicles translate to greater prestige. I hate to break it to ya, buddy, but I could give a shit what you drive so long as you keep the flow of traffic moving at a steady clip. The only time I care about your car is when you act like an ass on the road and I mentally conceive how I'm going to make you pay for slowing my commute.

Opeclogo The second requires that our government get off their asses and find other sources of fuel. Guess what? The Middle East is not the only region that has storehouses of oil. Yes, I realize that there are more than just Middle Eastern countries that make up OPEC. I'm also pretty certain that there are other oil-producing countries that are not members of OPEC just chomping at the bit to make a name for themselves in the high-stakes world of oil production and exportation.

Let's work with Argentina and Brazil and other South and Central American countries. Let's also improve foreign relations with Russia whose vast Siberian countryside, I've been told, has plenty of oil available. Let's talk with President Putin and see what we can work out. And, geographically speaking, both regions are much closer to the United States than a majority of OPEC nations so less fuel would be wasted in transit.

I'm sure there has to be something I'm missing here. Some reason why we don't already do this. And it better not be some bullshit reason like "we've got agreements with OPEC as our primary supplier." Well, they keep raising the price to unreasonable levels and, I don't know about you, but that's reason enough to break off our agreement. Governments have broken contracts for less in the past.

So please tell me why... why do we keep on keepin' on with OPEC? Help me understand, will ya?

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA):
Okay, sorry to hit you so hard with current events up there. Here's something a bit lighter. Katie and I were watching Dancing With the Stars and, if you've ever seen the show, you know how just before they cut to commercial, they show some of the celebrities joking around backstage, right? Well, I was thinking that in a nod to figure skating's sordid history, one of these segments should feature Kristy Yamaguchi pretending to hit Cristian de la Fuente's other, uninjured arm with the same sort of telescoping club that was used in the infamous Tonya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan attack. C'mon, wouldn't that just be hilarious?


I want to ride my bicycle...

Don't parents realize that, much like clothing, bicycles are sized? And that every single person should be measured by a professional before purchasing a bike?

Well, after what I saw yesterday, I'm sure this kid's parents will learn as I doubt they'll ever have grandkids from this limb of the family tree.

I was sitting in the parking lot of my gym waiting for Katie to arrive. A line of 10-13 year old kids on bikes were streaming through the parking lot. There was one kid straggling behind the bunch and he was up on a sidewalk with more than enough room between him and the kid in front of him for a car to pull down the entryway to the parking area so that the kid could see him and stop so he didn't get hit.

The problem wasn't that the kid didn't see the car, he just couldn't stop. So he jacked his handlebars sideways, flew forward off the curb, jammed his front wheel into the ground, and went flying off his seat into the crossbar of his too-tall bicycle. It didn't look too terrible, at first. Then I saw him slip awkwardly off his bike, pull it to the median, and drop it. Both his hands flew to his crotch, which he cupped in agony as he himself fell to the ground like a sack of potatoes.

This is a pain that I and every guy knows all too well. It's just not good. Be it a bike accident or a knee or kick. Whatever. It is, as I recall from reading, one of the largest clusters of nerve endings in the male body.

The sympathy pains I felt were immense. I almost ran inside to get a bag of ice for the kid but thought better of it when I realized the last thing he needs is to compound his injury with decreased blood flow and shrinkage. The indignity need only go so far.

Just walk it off, kid. And know that we've all been there. Oh, and be happy your friends were too far ahead to have seen what happened and never bothered stopping. It may seem uncaring, but you'll be thankful later on.

Ouch.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Last week, Kyra announced a contest on her site that required creative writing. Sadly, not nearly enough people entered as I thought should have. But there are a few and I think you might have some fun reading them all. So hop on over to Shaping My Way and read and vote! There are some really cool prizes on the line for those who do enter.


He was turned to steel in the great magnetic field...

I've been noticing a disturbing trend the last couple of weeks. One that is really bugging Katie and me and we're not exactly sure what can be done about it. Hopefully you all can help.

I have become a walking, talking, human store alarm trigger. You know those merchandise detectors at the entrances/exits of stores? Yep, I trigger them. And, before you say something smart, I am not shoplifting anything except the store's recycled air. In fact, to prove the point, I trigger them on the way in to the store. To make matters even more interesting, they usually don't sound when I'm on my way out. Explain that one.

Katie thought it was a new pair of flip-flops that I was wearing one weekend at a local Walgreen's. Maybe there was a tag built into the sandal that wasn't deactivated. But, this past weekend, I set off alarms in four out of five Kohl's stores we visited... and I wasn't wearing the flip-flops.

Years ago, I used to trigger alarms with my Nextel phone (I discovered this by passing nothing but my hand and my phone through the magnetic field and it would go off every time). But we're not on Nextel anymore, thank God. And I've been through enough detectors with my AT&T RAZR without setting them off to know it can't be the phone.

Then I thought, perhaps it's nothing that I'm carrying, but it's actually me. Maybe something occurred to chemically alter my physiology and make me reactive to magnetic fields such as this. I've become... superhuman. I'm like Wolverine with his adamantium endoskeleton! And I don't even realize it.

This would certainly go a long way to explain why I've been so tired lately. My alter ego is waking up to fight crime while my normal self should be asleep. It also explains why I have such trouble with metal detectors at airports. I'm seriously one step away from having to strip naked at those things.

I then revealed my theory to Katie.

"Oh great," said Katie. "What does that make me? Your superhero sidekick? The Robin to your Batman?"

"No. I wouldn't put you in the line of fire. You'd be my personal assistant more than my sidekick. You're the Alfred to my Batman."

"Yay me."

"Oooh, better yet, you're the Pepper Potts to my Iron Man!"

"Oh shit."

I'll keep you all informed about how my powers develop in the coming months.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA):
I would've posted a big ol' "Happy Mother's Day" like so many of you did yesterday, but I never really had the time to get online and blog. We were all over God's green acres throughout the day. So a happy belated mother's day to all the moms and grandmas in mine and Katie's life.

TUA#2: Katie scored a 4.0 in her first semester of grad school! Yeah, I'm not proud of her at all, am I? ;-)


Primal scream and shout...

Either summer vacation has started for junior high and high school kids or I have officially entered the Seventh Ring of Hell.

I'm on my lunch break right now sitting inside an Einstein's Bagels trying to eat my Turkey Club Panini with shrieks and howls and high talking going on all sides of me. I'm going insane.

Also, have you ever looked at today's kids? I mean really looked at them? Is it just me or do many of them look exactly alike? I watched Mean Girls and thought it was a cute and funny film in a seriously dark way. But the very concept of "The Plastics" just didn't seem quite real. Sure, I've seen people conform to an Alpha pack member. That's pretty normal.

Communion I'm talking lookswise. All thin, like rail thin. Long straight hair. Drawn out faces. Sunken cheeks. Sharply pointed chinbones. Big saucer-like eyes. It's pretty scary in a Whitley Streiber Communion sort of way. Do they all belong to the same pod or something?

And then there's this boneheaded asshole at the end of the bartable where I'm sitting banging the table with his fist so hard that my laptop is bouncing. He's by himself and is clearly not high-school age (somewhere in his mid-20s, I'd guess). But that's certainly not stopping him from ogling all the little girls as they walk by. I smell a future registered sex offender.

Oh shit. Some "long-lost" friend just walked in the door right in the midst of a pack of 14 year olds. I'm guessing based on the decibel level of their yelping that they all haven't seen her in at least five minutes.

Dear sweet mother of God. Just put me out of my ever-loving misery NOW!

No, check that. Please wait until I finish my sandwich. It's pretty good.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Just a couple quick holiday notes.

For all you fellow bloggers, InWeDay (International Weblogger's Day) has officially been announced for June 14. Head on over to www.inweday.org for details and to sign up!

For everyone (especially you, Diane), Mother's Day is Sunday. Forget it and be damned. Oh I'm not kidding. As my mom likes to say, "I brought you into this world; I can take you out." Sometimes, I actually believe her.


Cherish, cherish...

I know I do this more regularly than I care to admit, but I hate being part of the Hollywood gossip mill. However, sometimes it's just too easy and some of the stupid shit that celebrities pull is just prime for picking. So forgive me, will ya?

Katie and I were talking on the way home from dodgeball last night and she informed me that she heard on the radio that Madonna was playing a concert to which she started approximately two hours late. After looking into it this morning, I found that not only did she start two hours late, but the show only ran 40 minutes.

This angers me more than even I realized. And it happens more and more often, or so it would seem.

I'm a part of the daily grind workforce. I drive 40 minutes each way on a good day to my job and spend 9 hours there from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., five days a week. Sometimes I show up early or I stay late or I might even pull some weekend time or do some work from home. Sure, it can be a little tiring, but I do it because I love it and I know that there are some people who rely on me being there and getting stuff done.

If I can do this, why can't Madonna show up on time for fans that likely have shelled out $100+ per ticket (or the French equivalent in this case since the show was in Paris) and actually play a set that is representative of her 20-year career? Is it asking so much to have a two-hour show. Hell, how about just an hour and a half?

She's living a dream life. She gets chauffered everywhere she goes, she makes money performing, she lives in exceptionally large houses, she sees the world. Sure, her privacy is nil. But she chose this life and if she feels she's entitled to be treated this way, then fuck her. If it bugs her so much, disappear. Don't lead the fans on. Don't treat them with disdain and sheer disrespect. Get off your ass and sing like you're expected to do.

If I don't show up like this or treat my employers with respect, my ass is on the street.

Why don't some people realize what it is that they have and treat it like the gift it is.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): This is an interesting career progression. The mayor in our town was in office for several consecutive terms. Very popular guy in the city. So popular, he actually began a campaign for the State Senate (I think that's what it was) that he wound up backing out of.

I was reading the news yesterday only to find out that he'd been replaced by a Mayor Pro Tem (stand in). I was taken aback. I had heard nothing about him stepping down. So I started doing some research. Turns out he's taken a job with U.S. Figure Skating team.

Uh, wow. I know he worked with the U.S. Olympic Committee in the past so he's really just getting back to his roots. But it all sounded so strange when I first read it.

I think our town is ripe for another Mayor Kevin! Maybe I'll run! I wonder if he'll give me his campaign signs so I can just airbrush my last name over his. Hmmm...


Evil thoughts and evil doings...

Woah.

Katie and I received some disturbing news yesterday.

Back when we worked at the gym, there was a couple whose names I don't know. There was nothing particularly noteworthy about them. Just a nice, elderly married couple. In fact, the only reason we remember them is because, on his gym ID, he had taped a picture of Brad Pitt over his own photo. His wife did something similar, taping a picture of Julia Roberts over her picture. That was how we knew them... Brad and Julia, even if those weren't their real first names.

Well, it turns out Brad was sick. Very sick. And he had been fighting it for some time. But, two weeks ago, he gave up the fight and took his own life in the driveway of their home. If I recall correctly from what we were told, he shot himself. He was apparently tired of the fight and tired of dragging his wife down with him. He was hoping to make her life easier.

His wife and a friend found his near-lifeless body when she returned home from shopping. They rushed him to the hospital where he managed to hang on for a couple hours before finally passing on.

This, as you might expect, leaves me with many questions... First, why the driveway? Second, how did his neighbors neither hear it happen nor see him out there?

Most importantly, though, how does this make her life easier? She has to live in the house where he killed himself. Envision his body lying in the driveway anytime she goes to get the mail or the newspaper or pulls the car out of the garage to go driving. She also receives no life insurance benefits as they typically don't pay out for suicides.

I can understand not wanting to endure the pain. But now his wife has to go through her own, personal hell.

Am I missing something here? Someone help explain this to me.


Way down, south of the border...

Dear Purveyors at Potter's Place Mexican Restaurant,

First, I hope you had a good Cinco de Mayo and that you raked in the profits during what I'm certain is one of the busiest days for Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants everywhere. I mean, seriously, who doesn't want a burrito or taco salad on the Cinco? Only insane people.

Now on to the meat of this letter...

I'm no restaurateur. I don't even play one on TV. However, I have in the past worked as a server at Applebee's and Baker's Square. Yes, they were both quite a while ago, but I did, so I do think I know a thing or two about the business. And I'd like to impart a little of that knowledge with you right now.

Do not... I repeat... DO NOT make the busiest day of your year the first day of work for a new server! What the hell were you thinking? I went to your restaurant yesterday with a couple friends to have us some burritos. And we only know our waitress was new because she used that as an excuse to the guys at the table next to us. Put simply, it was 15 minutes until we got our menus. However, since we'd all worked in restaurants at some point in our lives, we were willing to forgive so long as she came by quickly to help us out.

Yeah, that didn't happen. Ever. 30 minutes later, she hadn't been to our table for anything other than to give us menus. We didn't even have drinks for Chrissake! At least the busboy had given us two baskets of chips and salsa.

When you're on a fixed lunch schedule, sympathy only goes so far. We got up and left. We went to Chipotle instead.

So now I ask you why? WHY DID YOU START THE GIRL ON FRIGGIN' CINCO DE MAYO?? She wasn't even shadowing anybody. My first couple weeks at both restaurants I worked at were spent shadowing a more experienced server to learn what they do. You threw her into the lion's den on her first day. Or so she claimed it was her first day.

From what I can tell, we weren't the only table to leave. When we got up, one of the tables next to us began rumbling that they were going to leave.

Again, I'm not a restaurateur, but this is not how to do business. Wake up and smell the enchiladas.

Sincerely,

Pissed Off Customer.


Faces look ugly when you're alone...

Why is it that I never have a camera handy when I need one?

Oh the shots I could've presented you from this weekend.

On Friday, Katie and I went to the theater to see Made of Honor (yes, we saw this on Friday instead of Iron Man, but fear not, Downey was our target on Sunday... FAN-FRIGGIN-TASTIC, BTW) and it was full of a smorgasbord of pseudo-celebrity lookalikes. It was unreal.

First was a young Han Solo. The teen had the same tousled hair as Harrison Ford in the original Star Wars film. Throw in the dark pants, white button-up shirt, and black vest, and the ensemble was complete. Yes, that was his outfit. The only thing missing was a Wookie.

Hansonbrothers Next came the Hanson Brothers. No, not the 90s singing group (sorry, Sandra). I'm talking the original Hansons from the film Slap Shot. They were actually employees of the theater. Pushing around their garbage cans, brooms, and dustpans. They had the hair and tall, awkward stature. I was really just waiting for one of them to take a broom and fire it to the other with the garbage can and then tackle some moviegoers. Would've made for a perfect evening.

In an effort to return to the Star Wars theme, I next saw George Lucas in line. I think he was there for Iron Man, but I cannot be sure. Bad hair? Check. Bad beard? Yep. Thrift store clothing? You betcha. He looked the best of the bunch. I was tempted to ask for an autograph. It was kinda funny to see him standing next to the giant Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull display, though.

The evening was wrapped up with a second viewing of Solo, but of a different gender. She didn't quite look like Harrison Ford, thank God, but she certainly dressed like Han. Dark pants, white button-up shirt, and black vest. Are vests making a comeback? Anyway, I dubbed her "Hannah Solo."

I think I'm going to have to somehow permanently affix my camera to me. Oh to have been able to steal shots of these people. It would've been so much fun. Plus, I would've been able to capture a video of Katie and me dancing while cutting up crown moulding on a miter saw in the garage on Saturday. I asked her to remind me how long the piece was we needed to cut. She replied 99 inches. And we both summarily broke out in a very bad 80s inspired dance number done to the tune of Nena's "99 Red Balloons."

Okay, maybe it's better I didn't have the camera.


Crazy, that's how it goes...

I'm just going to hop aboard and see where this train of thought takes me this morning. Buckle up! Don't worry, this train is eco-friendly.

Katie is done with school (ed note: done for the semester)! She knows, for certain, that she has As in two classes and she's pretty sure she got an A in the third class. I'd call that a nice start to her work towards an M.A. in education, wouldn't you? Thank you all for the well wishes the other day!

It's been kinda funny, though, being back together relatively early the last couple nights. We're not used to this. On so many Tuesdays and Wednesdays recently, we haven't seen each other until about 10 at night. Sometimes even later. We've actually been able to spend time together. We're like a married couple again.

Unfortunately, though, softball starts for me tonight. So that blows our Thursdays. Part of me is happy to be playing softball, part of me is not. I enjoy the game and I enjoy our team, but I hate giving up an evening. And since it's down in the city where I work, which is a 40 minute drive away (without traffic), there's no coming home between work and the game. With gas prices and commute times what they are, it's just not feasible. Sometimes I go to a local gym and work out, sometimes I read, sometimes I watch a movie on my laptop. I think tonight will be Kitchen Confidential on DVD.

Last night, after Katie finished her final and I finished dodgeball (yeah, that season's still going on, too), we met at our gym and worked out. At the end of it, I was watching some of the Cubs-Brewers game while riding a stationary bike. I'll tell ya what, if you're looking for entertainment value on TV, nothing quite compares to reading the closed captioning on live TV. Last night, they were talking about some player who hurt himself. I'm not sure who, but he had a torn lateral meniscus. I've heard of a meniscus, though I have no friggin' clue where it is. However, the caption typist wrote it out as "torn lateral men miss kiss." What is this? Clumsy man-on-man porn?

Speaking of porn, is anybody truly surprised about the whole Miley Cyrus flap? Honestly, not me. I'm sure it was all taken out of context as her parents and handlers argue and maybe there was a hope for something a bit more wholesome. But, in my mind, if wholesome is what you want, Vanity Fair is not the place to go to find it. Why not ask the Enquirer for truth in reporting? Or Fox News for balanced political coverage? I've seen what has happened to self-professed "good girls" like Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson in the past. I think my only surprise is that it happened so quickly for Miley. I was giving her until her 19th birthday.

I will admit, though, that I do now feel like my teen years were squandered. I should've dressed more provocatively... racy... sexy... It is my right after all, isn't it? Wait. Is it really too late? Can't I just try to make up for it all now? How about I plaster nude pics of myself all over my site? Yeah! I'm doing it!

...

Yeah, no. I'll leave that to Karl and Avitable. There will still be one blogger from BFF that remains fully clothed, dammit!

Okay, time to go to work. Clothed.