J-walk has a link today to a site that has a museum of old AOL disks, and he notes with some amusement that they used to offer only 10 Free Hours. When I had to put my foot down was when they very first started saying ‘Get 750 Free Hours for the 1st Month!’ and I wrote them an impassioned e-mail imploring them to please include the disclaimer ‘*excluding February.’ You do the math.

I’m not generally a conspiracy theorist, but I’ve been thinking about this whole Al Franken vs. Bill O’Reilly/Fox News thing, and it’s occurred to me that these guys are both bright enough marketers and self-promoters that they may just have agreed with each other up front to put on this big show for us to promote both of their books and Fox might even be in on it. I mean, if you’ll stoop to showing Alien Autopsy, where do you draw the line?

(And coming up next on Celebrity Boxing…)

Must blog… too ill… can’t think… sick as dog. Still feeling pretty out of it, so I’ll be brief. I went to the doctor last Thursday and got some antibiotic eyedrops that are close to having the pink out of my eyes, but my other symptoms (headache, cough, sore throat, body aches, fatigue) have all pretty much gotten worse.

I was so dumb when I saw the doctor that when he asked me if I wanted anything else, like cough medicine, I said, “No, I don’t think my cough is that bad.” So then the next morning, after spending the whole night CMAO, a cloudy thought bubble floated up over my cartoon head and I realized I had passed up codeine. Well, I fixed that yesterday – I called the medical center, got the prescription phoned in, drove back down to Roseville, and got my meds. Trouble is, I’m so sick that I’m not even enjoying lounging around in bed with codeine cough syrup. Of course, my lovely wife is also feeling all sicklyfied, and the kid is bouncing off the walls, so Mommy and Daddy have to take turns and negotiate nap time for each other.

(Note to self: Does blogging turn me into a whiner?)

I’ve been having an interesting week. I’m responsible for our company’s phone system, and we just changed long distance carriers. This always seems like a good idea until we actually try to do it. You see, we have something like 38 phones like the one shown here hooked up to two PBXs at two different locations, connected by a T1 line. Regular calls come into each of them via their own set of Centrex phone lines. But outbound long distance and inbound toll free calls are handled by a dedicated long distance T1 that provides 16 inbound and 8 outbound voice channels over two pairs of wire.

When we hooked up the new T1 Monday night, it seemed to be working perfectly, but all day yesterday and today, we’ve been losing calls, and being the call center for a mail order catalog, that is not good.

So now I’m caught in the middle between a phone vendor who says it must be the carrier and a carrier that says it must be our equipment, and I don’t have the knowledge or skills to determine whether the rock’s right or the hard place.

But the icing on the cake? Yesterday I came down with a fairly serious case of pink eye, and I feel like crap, and I’m sitting here picking boogers out of my eyes while I wait for one of the phone guys to show up… wish me luck!

Ever had an earworm? That’s just a slightly gross Americanized Germanism for “that damn song that I can’t get out my head.” It’s the bane of my existence – really – I have a non-stop soundtrack that goes on even when I’m asleep, and it’s not uncommon for a coworker to overhear me singing or whistling and say, “It’s a Small World After All?” or “Puff the Magic Dragon… really?”

According to the article, it’s much more prevalent in musicians, and since I consider myself a songwriter, and I did a year-and-a-half as a Music Theory & Composition major at Arizona State, I guess it kinda makes sense.

Hey! This seems like a good time to impose a song or two on my faithful readers. Hope you enjoy!


Boy, I’m beginning to rethink this whole “pee” thing – two of my more recent hits were doing Googles on “pee garden -gee -dee -wee -tee -cat -“pee pee”” and “pee pee in my mouth” – I hope they found what they were looking for (?), because they sure didn’t find it here!

Update 2:

Speaking of Al Franken, one of the high points of my life, in the “brush with greatness” sense, happened when I was a freshman at Iowa State back in 1980 (or early 1981). Franken and Davis, the great comedy team that was, even then, writing for SNL, played our little auditorium at ISU. A friend and I were in the habit of going to these things on our ISU student passes, which I think got us in at $5 a pop for everything from Franken & Davis to the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra, which at the time was conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas – we were in the middle of the front row, and I have this super-clear picture of him leaning into the violins going ‘Tss. Tss. Tss.’ to get to pianissimo.

Anywho, the only line of F&D’s that I can clearly remember was something like, “he was one of those guys who would come to the orgy, but he’d always put sand in the Vaseline.”

After the show, my fratmate Scott and I went to a local Denny’s to play backgammon and drink coffee from a bottomless Thermos-thingy, and Franken & Davis walked in around midnight. Now this was in the days when he was still talking about the “Al Franken” decade, and how “everyone should take a moment to ask themselves, ‘Now what can I do for you, Al Franken?'”

So we’re sitting in this Denny’s in Ames, Iowa, playing backgammon when Al Franken and Tom Davis walk in, and someone says, “Hey, it’s you, Bob Hope!” and Al Franken says, “Sure, whatever.” and sings “Thanks for the memories.”

You’ll note that I’ve joined the bloggers’ grass-roots movement to include the phrase “Fair and Balanced” on as many sites as possible. You should know that this is a reaction to the lawsuit that Fox News has brought against Al Franken’s book Lies and the Lying Liars That Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right, so I won’t bore you with another link.

This week the Carnival of the Vanities #47 is over at this site: Right We Are! – a conservative, pro-US, Republican blog by two chicks on the Right side! Check it out.

For some strange reason, several blogs have had links the past few days to unique toilets, so I’d like to share my ‘Swiss Toilets’ Story. Several years ago, my wife and I did a European Vacation that started in London and eventually took us through France, Switzerland, and Italy. When we checked into the Hotel Opera in Zurich, we were fascinated by the strange toilet in our room called a Closomat, which name we learned from the thoughtfully provided owners manual. These things have the exhaust fan in the bowl, which makes a lot of sense to me. They also have a bidet style rinse cycle with warm water, and a warm air dry.

So then we go out to dinner, and when I go into the men’s room, the toilet seat has a little squeegee on it and the whole seat turns around under the blade so that it wipes away all the overspray – as the oval of the seat rotates over the stationary oval of the toilet bowl, it’s quite an interesting spectacle, so much so, that when Janet checked and there wasn’t one in the ladies room (which makes sense), I snuck her into the mens room for a peek.

Bottom line: the Swiss are thinking too much about their toilets.

I am participating in J-Walk‘s Five Pointless Questions game. Today, I answer the five questions John asked me on his blog, and I will create five questions for anyone who would like to carry on the tradition with a link from my site. If you’d like to play, just e-mail me, and thanks for playing!

1. Lather, rinse? Or lather, rinse, repeat?

I’ve often wondered about the origin of these strange instructions to wash my hair twice. Who started this nonsense, and why do all the shampoo manufacturers in the world continue to repeat it mindlessly like a mantra? I mean, does anyone anywhere actually lather up for a second cycle? Is copywriting dead?

Maybe I’ll create a new shampoo called Single-atherinse&#153 with the tag line “Shampoo that gets your hair clean the 1st time!”

On a related note – what’s the deal with “healthier looking hair?” I’m pretty sure someone must have sued a shampoo company for claiming their product actually made your hair ‘healthier,’ which is impossible, since hair is dead, so they added the word “looking” for compliance.

But perhaps the ultimate answer to this insightful question can be found by meditating on the deeper meanings of this song from Friends (there’s a sound clip on the linked page):

In the Shower, by Phoebe Buffet

I’m in the shower and I’m writing a song

Stop me if you’ve heard it

My skin is soapy and my hair is wet

And tegrin spelled backward is nirget

Lather, rinse, repeat

Lather, rinse, repeat

Lather, rinse, repeat

( pause )

As needed

2. So how was your day?

That depends… which one? Seriously, though, after I had a gentle massage and breakfast in bed, my butler brought me my freshly-ironed newpaper folded open to the comics page, and briefed me on the rest of my staff’s activities for the day. Then, as my team of personal fashion consultants were dressing me for the day’s adventures, I woke up, went to work, and stayed till about 8:00 pm finishing up a project that got behind due to obsessive blog surfing.

3. What happens when night falls? When day breaks?

Being a night-owl, I’m not real up on what happens at daybreak, because “the early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.” It doesn’t surprise me too much that so many days go poorly for people when they break them right up front like that.

Last night, as the sun went down, just as my wife and daughter pulled into our driveway, there were 3 or 4 bats doing arial stunt-dives all over our back yard across the backdrop of a beautiful sunset and a tree in silhouette, and we all sat there watching like it was a drive-in movie.

4. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?

I’ve had enough bad jobs that this is kinda like multiple-choice:

a) Diggerman’s Grunt

This is what they call the guy who uses a shovel to keep the dirt from falling back into the hole the auger on a digger truck makes for an electric power pole (when you work for the electric company they make fun of you if you call it a “telephone pole”). After you raise the pole (hee-hee), you get to put the dirt back in. I can still hear the crew foreman, whose name was, I swear to god, Butch, yelling “Stooooo-pid Grunt!”

b) Kentucky Fried Chicken cook.

This was back in the days when they started with whole cut-up frying chickens, and each cooker had a wire rack that held two whole chickens’ worth of parts. Nowadays, they just have big bags of frozen parts sorted separately into bags of legs, bags of breasts, etc. I know this because I asked for my favorite piece, which we used to call a ‘back’ – you know, that piece with a crumbly bit of white meat that’s attached to the ribs? – and they had no idea what I was talking about. We thought through it together, though, and came up with the theory that this is where ‘tender chicken strips’ come from. So then I thought, “COOL! I’ll just order a bunch of strips,” but “Damn!” they only come in extra-crispy, and I only like original. Life’s unfair.

Not a bad job though, if you enjoy getting burned by hot oil while covered in grease, flour, and chicken blood.

c) Janitor at a K-Mart

You have not lived until you’ve swept and mopped a 40,000 square foot tile floor. And waxed. And buffed. By the way, the ladies’ restroom was always a lot messier than the mens. Go figure.

d) Jewelry Salesman

This could have been a really easy, really cool job, but I’m just no good at selling things nobody needs at prices that don’t make sense to people who can’t afford them while earning less than I’m worth.

5. Describe the most recent food-related accident that you’ve been involved in.

I narrowly avoided a serious accident last night while I was stuffing peppers for dinner. My lovely wife does not like spicy foods you see, and these were not intended to be spicy, but I accidentally used some ridiculous ‘taco flavored’ grated cheese that we’d bought by mistake thinking it was a regular cheddar-jack mix. Luckily, the effect was subtle enough that my wife declared that it was the perfect touch. And here I thought it was the portabella mushrooms.

So the most recent food-related accident was that I actually spilled a cup full of milk all over the kitchen, and our daughter actually cried over it. I didn’t tell her that there’s no use crying over spilt milk, because it was the last milk we had in the house and she’d just asked for some milk, and there it was all over the floor. I did not cry.

Well, I did add the little blurb about Gooblek over in the sidebar, and rearranged things a bit, but after reviewing my site log, I’ve decided that I can’t be held responsible for what people put into search engines. One of my more recent visitors was looking for “lawry’s foods” and got a hit because of my article on seasoned salt, MSG, and umami, and I may even have been helpful to them. But I’m not sure what to do about the person who was searching for “poem about asparagus.” Oh what the heck:

In spring when hopeful raindrops fall

Upon my garden plot of clay

Do tiny phallic shoots of green

Poke out their heads as if to play

I cut them down whilst wee they be

And steam and eat them avidly

For all must certainly agree

It makes for funny smelling pee

I hate to admit it, but I’ve been going around trying to get some of the high profile blogmeisters to link to my Gray Davis-to-Arnold morph like some kind of link-whore ingenue, and so far nobody’s interested. Oh well. Tomorrow I’m supposed to answer Five Pointless Questions for John Walkenbach’s J-Walk blog, and that should drive a bunch of poor innocents over here for no good reason.

Well, gosh, I’m starting to feel kinda bad for the people who are wandering here by accident – this blog is now the 1st listing for a Google search on ‘gooblek’ and I don’t have any information here. I’m considering adding a ‘What is Gooblek?’ link over on the sidebar so it’s not a complete waste.

On a related note, I recently participated in Carnival of the Vanities #46, hosted by Across the Atlantic, and, while it didn’t make my site an overnight sensation, there was a very discernable peak in my ‘hits per day’ (see graph).

I am sorry to say that Gallagher did throw his hat in the ring, but I’ve checked out his site, and while he is amusing, I don’t think he’s serious enough to be a contender. What a freakshow, and the lemmings are lapping it up.

Here are some links to cool things I became aware of today:

And here are some interesting pictures:

The Escape Artist

I am, as Houdini once was, a master of the escape. Wherever I am and whatever I’m doing, I usually have some escapist behavior going on.Can I get back to you? I'm all tied up. When I’m at work, I escape by surfing and blogging. When I work in my yard, I drink too much beer and play loud music on my boom-box. When I’m at home, I escape into the television – a miraculous world of mind-numbing marvelosity. I eat while I’m watching TV. While I drive, I escape into motivational tapes. I do most of my reading in the bathtub and on the toilet.

Maybe it’s time I stopped screwing around all the time and did whatever it is that I’m nominally supposed to be doing?

By the way, on the heels of Arnold’s thowing of the proverbial hat into the proverbial ring, Gary Coleman has announced that he’s also entering the California gubernatorial race, and the comedian Gallagher’s thinking about it, so… I imagine that in the future, the governor of California will be chosen from among a large pool of candidates by the process used on American Idol&#153, and celebrities only need apply.