Lock Up the Site

A few weeks ago, we were at an installation on an active construction site. We had planned on staying long past when many of the construction workers would be done and we requested permission to stay late. The job foreman was adamant that we ensure all doors were shut and that the main gate was locked behind us as security was very important.

So when we left for the night, we used the lock to secure the gate.  This is a standard construction site lock.

Decisions, decisions.

This is our men's bathroom at work. Guys will understand what a difficult decision this is.

Lobdo, the Lonely LooLoo Bird

(Author's Note: Stop reading now. This is an incredibly depressing story that is both heartbreaking and irreverent. I warned you.)

Lobdo is a LooLoo Bird. You’ve probably never heard of the LooLoo Bird because they don’t exist anymore.  But Lobdo did exist. He ate worms. He bathed in streams. He sang the LooLoo song which goes, “Loo Loo,” which is how the birds got their name. And Lobdo fell in love.

Lobdo fell in love with another LooLoo bird named Chido. When LooLoos fall in love, they fall in love for life. Fortunately for Lobdo, Chido loved him too.  They ate worms together. They bathed in streams together. They sang the LooLoo song together. And they started a family together.  Four little LooLoos filled their nest. And they were happy.

One day, a very powerful feeling came over Lobdo and Chido. Stronger than the feeling to fly south when it started to get cold. Stronger than the urge to build a nest. The strongest urge ever.

So together they left the nest with the four little LooLoos behind. They flew east.

They found the source of the calling. It was a big boat. There were many animals going towards the boat. Two of every kind.

Together Lobdo and Chido found a spot to rest on the boat. Luckily it was a dry spot because soon it began to rain.  Lobdo and Chido huddled together. They tried not to think of the four baby LooLoos in the nest.

For a very long time it rained.

There was little to eat. Some of the birds were able to eat at the dead bodies floating in the water, but LooLoos don’t like dead meat. The two worms on the ark were safely hidden in the very bottom deck with all the other trillions of insects.

The rain stopped, which many took as good news, but no rain meant no more fresh water.

They endured.

After a very very long time, Noah sent out a bird to look for dry land. It never came back. Mrs. Raven was upset, but not completely. Ravens are kind of assholes.

Then Noah sent out a dove. The dove returned with a branch of a tree. Noah took this as a sign of good luck that the waters were receeding.  Lobdo asked the dove about this and the dove said that actually he had found the branch floating in the water, but he didn’t want to disappoint Noah.

Finally the waters did recede and everyone was happy. Well, the LooLoos were unhappy about their drowned children, but that was all in the past because Chido’s belly was full of new eggs ready to be put into a nest.

When the ark did finally stop, all the animals exited the boat. Noah gathered them all around an alter so they could give thanks to God for saving the chosen few. And Chido went to Noah along with some other animals. Lobdo just wanted to fly off and build that nest, but Chido must have had a reason for flying to Noah.

And the reason turned out to be that Noah needed to sacrifice a few of the animals so that God could be properly thanked.  Noah sacrificed the Yullow Mouse, the Dreemara Beetle, a Unicorn and Chido, the LooLoo bird.

The animals all dispersed, especially the Koalas and Kangaroos who has to swim all the way to Australia.

And Lobdo also flew off.

Lobdo spent his time eating worms (he had to wait until the reproduced so that he wouldn’t make them extinct,) bathing in the streams (though most were filled with rubble, trees and the corpses) but he didn’t feel much like singing.

Lobdo, the LooLoo, was a lonely bird.

Joe Paterno Statue Melted Down

Here is a first hand look at the Joe Paterno statue being melted down in the only place where it would be able to be destroyed.

What Twitter is actually good for

Talk to any Social Media expert and they’ll expound about all the great things Twitter can do for you. Bullshit. Here are the things that Twitter is actually good for:

1. Faking Sick
Let’s say you know you are going to go out on a Thursday and will be in no condition to work on Friday. Start out with a few Tweets Thursday morning about how excited you are for the Thursday night event. At 5:00pm Tweet that you aren’t feeling so hot. At 9:00pm when you are getting ready to head out, Tweet that you just puked. Refrain from Tweeting for the next 12 hours and when you call off sick, your boss will say that they caught your Tweets and hope you feel better.

2. Getting Laid

Like sex? I do! Tweet-ups are excellent occasions to meet people that you can fool into thinking you are some Marketing stud. By putting an “@” in front of your normal fake bar name, you’ll be set. Mingle, drink, talk about iPhone apps, compliment Tweeters on how funny their Tweet from last week was and BOOM… Laidville. It is proper Etiquette to Tweet what a good time you had with @X at the Tweet-up. Block them immediately after.

3. Stalking
It’s easy to stalk when you have half a million people to report where that certain special (future) someone in your life is every minute of the day. Just search Twitter for #lindsaylohan or #BradPitt and you’ll see Tweets telling you the most recent sightings. Now, race to that location! Be prepared to fight other Twits who are doing the same thing you are. Anyone with an iPhone and a sweaty brow should get a quick punch in the back of the neck. Be careful that the Tweet wasn’t a fake to get people to show up at some bar where lonely Tweeters hang out.

4. Tricking people into going to the place you are at
Lonely? Just Tweet “What is (name of famous person) doing in (your town) at (the place you are at)?” When people come racing into the place you are, rush up and tell them that Person X just went to the bathroom and strike up a conversation. At some point you may have to suggest that Person X might have snuck out the back door, but that you could discuss stalking them over dinner.

5. Getting Drunk
Are all your friends wrapped up in a raid or out on dates? Are you bored and looking for a drink? Be sober no longer! Most Twitterers are raging alcoholics looking for a chance to talk to anyone who will listen. Just type in “Anyone want to get a drink?” and you’ll get 5 or 6 replies in no time flat. If you don’t get any replies, just search for “at the bar” and the name of your hometown. Find out where people are at and go find them. You’ll recognize Twitters by the kink in their neck and the half bottle of Heineken.

6. Get good seats at a favorite restaurant
Step 1: pick a extremely busy/famous restaurant
Step 2: Tweet about seeing rats and/or maggots at said restaurant
Step 3: Call in and wait for a cancellation

And the last and greatest thing that Twitter is a good for:

7. A platform for talking about how great Twitter is
It still amazes me that people post links on Twitter to articles about how great Twitter is.

The Real Back to the Future, Future Date

Some people were fooled yesterday into believing that June 27th, 2012 was future date Marty traveled to.  Fortunately I have the real screen shot. You are welcome.

How The Frack do I do the Turing Google Doodle?

How The Frack do I do the Turing Google Doodle? I don't know. And you can't ask Turing because he killed himself because assholes can't seem to let people live their lives as they see fit.

My friend Jon did figured it out:

"Match the digits on the tape to those in the upper-right. Instruction execution moves to the right. Big arrows move the tape, 1s and 0s change the digit, small arrows with boxes are IF conditions that test the state of a digit, and arced arrows jump back to a different instruction. Match all digits, and you add a letter to "Google." Fill the entire word, and you get a prize!"

A Third Scenario

I am impressionable.  Almost immediately so.  I have visceral reactions to most everything.  Most commercials get their intended emotional knee jerk from me, even if some made up scenario of a dad handing his kid a baseball mitt to pass on to his son is completely cheesy, I’ll still get choked up. For there to be any analysis of a given situation, I need time to dwell on it.  I’m one of those sleep on it guys. Then the next day, I’m callous and snarky about most everything.

In 1999, I worked for a science museum and a small team of characters had been gathered to develop, design, build and install exhibits for the museum which was going to be built in a new facility a mile from the old building. We had some seasoned veterans and some comical upstarts. Some people who did the job for the love of it, some for the paycheck and others who will never take the credit they deserve for their hard work. 

Joe was our leader and each exhibit area had a producer with associate producers and production assistants.  I was a lowly production assistant. I made copies of blue prints and fart noises. We worked really hard.  Some people had families to take care of and great sacrifices were made. Some of us drank a lot more than others. “I can drink a lot more!” We all coped in our own way.

I think it was June when Joe gathered us together. The designers, producers, exhibit technicians, engineers, writers… the whole team.  And while this will never be a word for word recollection, it’s how I remember it.

Joe reminded us of the date.  It was June and we had about 16 weeks left until the Gala Opening event.  The building had been behind in construction, so the installation of our exhibits had been pushed way back.  It wasn’t our fault except in many of the situations where it was.  It was easy to lay blame on construction delays and harder to look at ourselves to see where we had imposed our own obstructions.

Joe said that there were now two scenarios. In consultation with project teams and the General Contractor and the board, our team was given two options.

Scenario one has us opening the building on time, but with unfinished galleries.  We could make the decision now to hold off on one or two key areas, focus our efforts on getting most of the exhibits open and then once the building was open, we would complete the other galleries.  Some exhibits would not be open, but maybe people wouldn’t notice as much.

Scenario two had us completing all the exhibits, but pushing the opening date back by a number of weeks.  The building would open at 100% completion and the guests would just need to be delayed by a month.  People understand that there are delays with construction and no one would completely blame our team for the delay.

Those were the two scenarios. Take your pick.

But then Joe, in the way that Joe does, said, “But I see a third scenario. A scenario where we finish all the galleries and we open on time.”  We would need to begin installation in a building that was not finished.  We’d have to work around contractors.  There would be many late nights and families would be inconvenienced. The construction workers didn’t like us underfoot and didn’t like to work beside our contractors. The elevators weren’t all finished and after hours we’d have to carry things up stairs. It would be extremely difficult.

But Joe thought that we could do it.  And I believed him. And others believed him.

And we did.

Sure, many of the graphics on the walls we made out of foam core and there were a few exhibits that just couldn’t be at 100%. The smell of drying paint and scraps of double sticky tape were abundant.

But we did it. We opened all the exhibit areas in time for the grand opening.

The reviews of our new museum were mixed and still are today. We learned many lessons from that experience.

What I know is that in the late 90s, a team of people did what many said could not be done. I’ve slept on that speech and it stays with me to this day. It’s given me the mantra of, “When given two choices, take the third.” I still think about that team of folk and I have the good fortune of working with some of them today. Joe is still my boss. Allen and Neil are still not taking the credit they deserve. Randy is getting ready to retire. We still do some work with Dan. Steve is coming back on board to run the engineering department.  And sometimes Whitt will write words for us the way that only he can.

And then there’s me. Sometimes I wonder what I am doing here. My title says I am a project manager. A lot of times I think that I’m just the guy who derails meetings and tells the same stories over and over. I’m making the same mistakes I did 15 years ago. Making the same excuses. But I’m also still discovering new ideas.  Fresh ideas for interactives. I’ll always be the MacGyver type, being able to work with a small amount of resources to accomplish a task. I don’t know anyone better than I am at making something that is 12ft wide fit down a 10ft hallway. I’ll always be there to tell you to watch your fingers and watch your toes.

So either I am a project manager or I am not a project manager.

Sometimes I wonder what my third scenario is.


I spent a good bit of 1997 and 1998 at a bar called Clancy's. Handsome Joe and I accidentally found it one night in German Village. You had to head down stairs under the Police union to get there.  It was damp. There were a few video games and a bar that were all completely underwhelmed by the dance floor with the mirrors and the pole.  It wasn't a stripper pole, it was just holding up the ceiling, but that didn't keep dirty girls from using it.

Clancy's had a 32oz mug special.  You'd buy a mug full of beer for $2.50 and refills were $1.00.

For almost a year and a half, we spent every Thursday at Clancy's.

It's where "Two Many Witnesses" was born.

Where the infamous photo of the Powers That Be was taken.

It's back when Andy used to come out drinking.

When Will Smith was only a double threat.

When Packy used to know all the words to "Freaks of the Industry."

It was before Jenn, and also before we lost Jenni.

And on the night they closed forever, Jen and Joe stole pool balls and a sign that guided people to the back door.  They gave me an 8 ball with the date on it.  Let me go find it... I found it and the date has been rubbed off.  Funny, you can tell it's Red Haired Jen's writing.

For a long time, we tried to find a replacement to Clancy's. And we gave up, because there could never be a replacement for Clancy's.

And then we found Skully's. And no one ever mentioned Clancy's again.

Until now.

We miss you Clancy's. But only because we miss being 27 and stupid. And we miss 32oz beers for a dollar.

Good night dirty girls.

Good night shoot um up video game.

Good night humidity.

Good night Will Smith.

Good night Sugar Ray.

Good night 32oz beers.

Good night Jenni.

Good night Pole.

Good night Two Many Witnesses.

Good night Clancy's.  Good night.

Don't ever...

Don't ever write about writing. No one wants to hear about that.  Even once you have become a successful writer, people don't want to hear about how you put words on paper.  They just want the words.

Aunt Betty is turning 80. She would have been 38 when I was born. She'll live to be 105 because she doesn't have time to be bothered with dying.  Aunt Betty sends birthday cards to me and my kids without fault.  They might be late, but she admits it.  I think I was 17 when she stopped slipping a $5 bill into those cards.  That was probably the first inkling I had that I might becoming an adult.

Aunt Betty is great at Scrabble. She's very Catholic. She is probably disappointed in me, but would never let it show.

We moved away from New York when I was very young.  Every summer we would travel back home.  I remember Aunt Betty's back yard was full of mosquitoes if you ventured too close to the trees in the back of the yard.  Her son had the most amazing Lord of the Rings poster in the basement.  I think it was Lord of the Rings.  It might have been a Led Zeppelin poster.

Her next door neighbor girl was at least four years older than me.  She once pretended that I was her boyfriend to make another neighbor kid jealous.  That five minutes is burned into my memory.  Her slanted driveway. She was wearing yellow shorts. She put her arm around me and claimed we were boyfriend and girlfriend. There was a broken lawn chair on the curb waiting for the trash men.  I played it cool. Or maybe I was scared shitless.  Either way, she was off after the boy in five minutes.  I might have waited an hour for her to come back. Years later I saw her again. She remembered me but only so.  I don't think she remembered the "boyfriend" thing.  I can't seem to forget.

In her most recent birthday card to me, Aunt Betty mentioned that she didn't really have a computer, but if she did, she'd look up my blog and give it a read.  While I stand behind ever letter and word and phrase and paragraph and Jesus comic I've written, I think I would be embarrassed for her to read all of this nonsense.  She would probably laugh.  She does have a good sense of humor and, by Catholic Law, has to forgive me for my sins.

Aunt Betty is having a surprise birthday party thrown for her next weekend in New York.  Sally suggested we go.  12 hours there.  12 hours back. It would be hellish. And totally worth it.

Happy Birthday, Aunt Betty!

And if between now and next Saturday you do get the internet and read this horrible web site, I'm sorry I ruined the surprise.  Forgive me.

Neighborhood Sign Feud

This photo is from my buddy Chris who lives in the Tampa area. About six weeks ago, three blocks from his house, the sign on the right popped up in a yard that said "John Lebron at 3006 is a felon on probation". 3006 is the address of the house next door. About three days later, a crudely drawn sign appeared in the yard of 3006 that said "This is true. I was a drug addict, but have been saved by Jesus Christ, my Savior". That sign lasted only a few days and was eventually replaced by the sign you see here on the left which reads "Our neighbor is impotent and can't have children".

{Editor's Note: Chris called me to say the signs have been taken down. Too bad no one took photos and posted them on the internet so that they would live on forever!}

Different angle

The Bird Cage

The Bird Cage burnt down.  It was a bar in Prescott, AZ in a place called Whiskey Row. A total loss.

But this story begins at an ATM machine.

The Huntington Bank next to COSI had a high tech video remote station.  You could contact Huntington Bank and open an account, dispute some drunken charges or secure a loan.  Using my 1988 Honda Civic as collateral, I bought Miss Sally an engagement ring.

I took the ring home, wrapped it in tissues, snuggled it into a beer cap and then kept it in my 5th pocket of my jeans, waiting for the right moment to propose.  The right moment took about three months.

Over Christmas, I bought Sally a camera.  To her mom’s dismay, I didn’t propose over Christmas.  While I was out of her house at the grocery, her mother set the camera on her left hand and claimed it was an engagement camera.  They told me about it when I got back.  I laughed, the ring safe in its tissue lined bottle cap nest.

Then towards the end of  January, we went out west to visit Sally’s best friend Tanya.  She lived in Phoenix at the time.  We spent one night in South Mountain Park, the largest city park in the United States.  We hiked up to an old helicopter pad.  It was the perfect night. The sun was setting. It was beautiful. But we were drunk as all get out and I didn’t want the moment to be spoiled, even though I knew that Sally might have to be drunk to say “yes.”

Later on that week, we drove north to Prescott.  We stayed in this hotel where all the rooms are themed out.  Ours was the Christmas Room.  Tanya's boyfriend and I decided to put on suit jackets and we all hit an area of town called Whisky Row.  There were several “historic” bars in a row.  Inside one of the bars called "The Bird Cage" were bikers. Bikers in leather. Bikers in chaps.  Bikers with cigarettes. Bikers with hats.

We drank and laughed and watched the bikers.

Around midnight, I could take it no longer.

In this smokey bar, filled with drunks and bikers and drunken bikers, I asked Miss Sally to sit down on a stool (which almost made her taller.)  I’m sure I said some really dumb things and then I pulled out the ring and I proposed.

She was stunned. And she said yes.

 People ask me when I got engaged and I have to tell them that I’m not sure.  It was around midnight on January 31st so it might have been February 1st.   It was in a rundown, old famous bar called The Bird Cage surround by guys in chaps.

And last night the Bird Cage burnt to the ground.  It was a total loss.

I'm not sure if they'll rebuild. I'm not sure if Miss Sally and I were the only ones the ever get engaged in the bar.  But it's been almost 16 years since that fateful night and I am sure that if the biker bar you got engaged in burns to the ground, your wedding is not automatically nullified.  But it was Arizona and you never know what the laws there are like.

I love you, Miss Sally.  I think the traditional 14th year anniversary gift is leather. 

Did I mention that I had a goatee at the time?

A Question of Odds

My son is studying for his Ohio 3rd Grade Achievement Assessment test. He brought home this practice test and I'm confused. Take a look:
Basically, the test is asking which number will most likely come up next and gives three choices. My kid chose the sucker's bet, the one Vegas hopes you choose. The number with the least amount of roll HAS to come up next... right?

The correct answer is that the die is weighted and that the number six is more likely to come up. Either way, this is wrong.

I think perhaps this is actually testing the parents to see who brings it up to the teacher's attention.

The Mountain

There are three ways to climb The Mountain at night: The Baby Bear Path, The Momma Bear Path and the Papa Bear Path. 

The Baby Bear Path is a sucker’s bet.  It is the main path up the mountain. It’s wide. You can see it in the moon light. There isn’t much to trip you up besides the gullies that form from erosion. Problem is you have to park in the lot or down near the front of the park and cops tend to radio in your license plate when they drive through the park.  Don’t take The Baby Bear Path.

The Papa Bear Path is not recommended.  It’s barely a rabbit trail. It goes close to the edge of the mountain. I assume there is poison ivy.  Avoid.

The Mama Bear Path is our path.  Park your car on Mt. Pleasant Avenue.  Not close to the mountain, but maybe a block back. Sometime two or three cars have to park.  It’s best not to wait for everyone on the street.  Once you park, head towards the mountain and look for the reflection of headlights.  Make sure you know where you are going to attack the side of the hill.  There are several spot to scramble up this hill. Shit, there’s even a set of concrete stairs that are older than you and I put together. Find your spot. Commit. Wait for the silence and darkness.  Run. Scramble.

You made it.  If there are others, wait.  It’s best to walk in a line together. Watch as they wait to cross the street.  See if they picked a bad place to climb where a tree has fallen and they have to climb over.

I assume the Mama Bear Path is pretty straightforward in the daylight. In the dark you have to make assumptions and guesses.  That path has been there for years and the trees have decided to give the path a wide berth so you aim away from trees.  The weeds grow up to the path, but not over it.  There are many roots, walk by lifting your feet up high.  Listen for the leader to give instructions.  “Watch the roots.” “Fallen tree.” “Where’s Russ?”

The Mama Bear Path used to pass by a rotting tree.  The tree succumb to time and wet and gravity. But for a while, the rotting tree was host to a glowing fungus. We stop and look for the fungus. Sometimes it was hard to see and other nights… other nights it almost cast shadows it was so bright. We would touch it, but no one thought to damage it.
The Mama Bear Path intersected the Baby Bear Path about half way up The Mountain where it took at 90 degree turn.  At this point, anyone at the bottom of the path looking up would not be able to see you.

From this vantage point, you can look up the rest of the path and see a clear space through the trees and into the night.  Lancaster puts out a good bit of light at night, but not enough to block out the stars. Keep climbing.

At the top of The Mountain there is another 90 degree turn and some concrete steps. There are metal handrails buried in the stone.  Erosion has made most of them worthless. Keep climbing, you are almost there.
The last few steps are covered by trees so it is a bit like coming out of a tunnel.  The warmer air from the city below loses a battle with the sandstone face and is pushed up and over the edge. It’s refreshing and cooling evaporating the sweat from the climb. The air smells like Lancaster.  During Fairfield County Fair time it smells of Italian sausage, cotton candy and horse.

At the top,  the dudes usually do The Ceremonial. Face away from the cliff edge, find a tree and pee.  Try not to pee where someone else has recently performed The Ceremonial.

There’s an iron rail that helps to keep people that follow rules back from the edge.  Duck under the rail and find a spot to sit. If there are beers, thank the person that carried them up. Now is also a good time to have a cigarette if you are into such things.

Conversation.  Observations about blinking lights in the distance or cops pulling cars over. Pretty soon, an hour or two will have passed.  The beer will be gone and Kit will want something to eat.
Make your way back down. Careful, it’s steep. Make sure you look for cars before you go sprinting down the hill and into the road.

Go to your car. Get something to eat and share more conversation. Head home and go to bed.
Even though you’ve changed clothes and brushed your teeth, you can still smell The Mountain.

The Mountain (Coming Soon)

My friend Terry reminded me today that there was a time in my life when a close group of friends would climb Mt. Pleasant (Standing Stone to some) in Lancaster, OH almost on a nightly basis during the summer. When we were young, we’d climb because it was something to do after work.  When we got older, we drag a 12 pack of beer up with us.  Now we climb only once a year. But we still climb.

The Mountain holds a very dear place in my heart and for years I thought that I would have the opportunity to write a book or a movie about it. And so I’ve kept it from you. But I’ve had a change of heart.

Some Mountain stories are too personal to tell. Fortunately for you, many are not.

I’ll start tonight.

Churches Running Out of Clever Sign Slogans

COLUMBUS, OH - The National League of Churches convened an emergency meeting this past Monday to discuss the scarcity of new, clever church sign messages. Head Writer and Deacon Paul Sims scratched at a sheet of paper attempting to resurrect some of his earlier gems, but to no avail.

“Ever since Pastor Virgil came up with ‘Do not wait for the hearse to take you to church,’ we haven’t come up with squat.”

Unbeknownst to local church goers, most of those clever signs aren’t original. “We have a network of sign writers and we rotate the clever messages on a weekly basis so that a parishioner is unlikely to see the same message twice. Your “Dusty Bibles lead to Dirty Lives” sign this week was the clever slogan last week in Glen’s Falls, NY.”

At the emergency meeting, writers from various churches and multiple denominations brainstormed to come up with a few slogans to get them through the next few weeks. Father Mike shared with me the sayings that floated to the top:

  • Put on your “O” face… your hOly face.
  • Don't wait for Jesus to touch your life. Touch Him first.
  • Not everyone gets a burning bush.
  • Jesus could kick Chuck Norris’ ass (but please don’t say anything to Mr. Norris.)
  • Come for the wine, stay for the guilt.
Sadly, the internet has brought the secret networking of the creative church-speak to a halt. Dispatcher Ron Creet of The First Methodist Church in Denver Colorado was quick to reveal the problem, “You can’t open the internet without seeing one of our clever church signs. Mrs. Roberta Samuels said she logged on to the AOL and saw her Lutheran Church sign from last week in a photo of a Baptist Church sign and almost had a conniption fit.”

The NLC has reached out to Hollywood in an attempt to rejuvenate their creative pool. Deacon Paul Sims laughed, “Those Godless bastards are funny as hell! We got Leno’s people to do a three week, limited, front end crawl with an option for Lent. But we had to fire them when we found out they were all Jewish. And of course, that's not the only fire they'll have to worry about at the end of the day. Oh! That's a good one... I'm going to write that down!”

College Pranks

For a few quarters in college, Nick, Doug and I all lived in the same apartment together.  When we first moved in, we drew straws to see what order we would pick rooms.  Doug won. I got third and Nick got second.  I was doomed to get the smallest room that was awkwardly shaped with the fuse box on the wall.  Doug changed all that when he picked the worst room for himself.  Nick picked second and got the best room and I got the second best room. Doug stood by his choice and I'll never know what he saw in that room.

It wasn't long until we started pulling pranks on each other.  Nick had a waterbed. On one long weekend in the winter, Nick left for two days and so Doug and I (mostly me) left his window open, unplugged his waterbed heater and covered all his vents with towels.  The hope was to get the waterbed to freeze.  It didn't, but it took a while for it to get back to normal temperature.

Nick tried to get me back by crafting an complex "bucket over the door" device made of cardboard and four or five German beers he had brought from home.  When Doug and I got back from a night of drinking, Nick tricked us into going into my bedroom.  Doug walked in first and... nothing happened.  Somewhere between the 3rd and 4th beer, Nick's engineering skills failed him.  The bucket of water stayed in its cardboard nest.

A few weeks after the failed bucket of water gag, Nick took my mattress off my bed, put it in the shower, and re-made it. He did a damn good job tucking the sheets in and stuffing the pillow so that it would stick.  Doug made it home before me and went into the bathroom. Even though you could not see the mattress through the shower curtain, you could sense its presence.  Doug completely freaked out.  I think he got the broom out and was poking at the shower curtain to see who was behind it.

This is when I decided to pull off The Grand Prank. A multi-level puzzle full of trickery.  I had to wait for the perfect time and Nick gave it to me when he went home for the afternoon, but was coming back later that evening. Here’s what I did:

#1 Bring On the Noise
I took the looping tape out of our answering machine. Back in the day, phone answering machines had two cassette tapes in them; one normal tape for recording messages and one looping tape that was 30 seconds long.  You would record your message on the 30 second tape and it would loop around to the beginning for the next call.  The answering machine could detect when the tape looped and would stop it.  A regular tape player would not recognize the cue and it would play the tape endlessly.  I recorded my voice on the tape saying, “I got you this time, Nick. Ha ha ha ha. I got you this time, Nick Ha ha ha ha ha.” I put this tape in my bedroom and blasted it.

#2 Lock Down
My room was only slightly wider than my bed. So I angled the bed in front of the door just enough so that I could squeeze out.  Then I used a metal coat hanger to pull the bed against the door to wedge the door shut.  If you pushed against the door, it would only open about three inches wide and I had the tape player half way across the room and way out of reach.

#3 Plot Twist!
Nick was a smart guy, so once he realized he wouldn’t be able to get into my room, he would head straight to the fuse box.  Our fuse box wasn’t labeled and here’s what I did… I put layer after layer of tape over a fuse.  Then I took a wooden coat hanger and screwed it to the wall over the fuse.  It would take a bit of doing to get that stuff off, especially after I hid the drill and tools.  The item I failed to mention is that the fuse I covered was not the fuse to my room. Anyone opening that fuse box would assume it was the right fuse and take the time to uncover it.

#4 Lights Out
Finally on my way out, I removed ever single bulb in the house and hit them in the linen closet under the towels. (Yeah, we actually had extra towels.)

I left for the night, knowing I would be staying at Johnny Two-Sack’s place. In the morning I would come back to a very pissed off, but hopefully proud Nick.

When I rolled in the next afternoon, there was no Nick to be found, only one very angry Doug.

Nick hadn’t come home that night. But Doug had.  Doug said he stood in the doorway for about five minutes trying to figure out what the hell was going on. None of the lights would work. Something was playing in my bedroom.  After stumbling though the apartment, Doug tried to open my door and it wouldn’t budge.  He reached his arm through the door and…

…turned off the light switch. The same light switch that also controlled the outlet that the tape player was plugged into. The player went off. Doug crawled into his dark room and went to bed.

So I had to clean up the mess.  I wanted to leave everything the way it was, but I had to get the power back on to the living room (the actual fuse I had off,) replace all the lightbulbs and at some point I would need to get back in my bedroom.

Nick came home late on Sunday. He had decided to stay home all of Friday and play golf on Saturday.

He asked how the weekend went.

It was great.

The Lumberjack

It was Handsome Joe that invented The Lumberjack.

A few friends met at a bar that was at least two notches higher than my calling, but I went anyway. When I got there, everyone was drinking out of glasses with tall, thin stems. The kind of glass that forces you to stick your pinky in the air.

Handsome Joe had no glass in front of him. I asked why he wasn’t drinking. He said he was and the waitress would soon be returning with his drink. He said I should have what he was having… The Lumberjack. The Lumberjack? That sounds pretty damn manly. Would this drink be on fire? Or perhaps have an whole cactus in it? Maybe it came served in a hollowed out log with a pine cone floating in it.

The waitress returned and said, “Here’s your Lumberjack.” It was a martini glass filled with a pink liquid. That’s The Lumberjack? I asked the waitress what was in it. She said vodka (manly,) cranberry (not really manly) and Triple Sec (downright girly.) I said, “That sounds like a cosmopolitan.” Joe said, “It is a cosmopolitan. But if you call it The Lumberjack and you can convince the waitress to call it The Lumberjack, it sounds a lot manlier."

 Here’s to The Lumberjack.

Local Man Discouraged his Ron Paul 2012 Sign Still Hasn't Been Stolen

Westerville OH (FD) – It has been almost two years to the day since John Laughlin of Westerville, Ohio defensively stuck his Ron Paul for President 2012 sign in his front yard. Since that time he has waited, sometimes inside and, more frequently, outside in the bushes next to his home, for the sign to be vandalized or stolen. For two years, no one has touched the sign.

Mr. Laughlin planned on having the first altercation with anti-Paulites within the first two weeks of putting the sign in his front yard. “At first I set up a web cam and some motion detectors. When I didn’t get a peep out of them, I assumed that the electronics were malfunctioning. Now I sit and wait between my two prized Juniper bushes.” Mr. Laughlin has moved the sign closer to the sidewalk and made sure the sign isn’t pushed too far into the dirt to aid any would-be-thieves in running off with the sign.

With the November elections around the corner, a heated battle for the GOP nomination has no sign of ending anytime soon. Already campaign signs are being vandalized and stolen and Laughlin doesn’t like it. “Ralph down the street had his Romney sign knocked over seven minutes after he stuck it in the dirt. Yeardley had two of his Santorum signs thrown in the street. These vandals don’t have a clue about real politics.”

Time is ticking for Mr. Laughlin, “I’ve only got a few months to get this sign stolen. After that, I’ve gotta put up a new sign for the next election.” While Mr. Laughlin doesn’t like the idea of having to buy a Ron Paul 2016 sign, he hasn’t completely given up home yet, “I’m actually considering stealing my own sign and then filing a report.”

The Somewhat Reverse Gift of the Magi

Sally had something to tell me and she did not want me to be mad.

I, too, had something to say to her and I hoped the same.

My something I had to tell her was about my sneakers.  About eight years ago I gave up on my manliness and allowed Miss Sally to take over the purchasing of my shoes.  I'm not sure if you've ever seen what shoes I usually pick out, but they are awful and she's much better at picking out shoes than me.  The last eight years of shoes have been great and Miss Sally deserves all the credit.

Until recently.

Miss Sally bought me a pair of sneakers and at first glance I knew they were not my style. So I said, "These look great!" and took them upstairs.  I didn't like them, but since I know nothing about fashion, I assumed they would grow on me after a while.

They didn't.

But I kept my mouth shut.

This past Sunday I was painting in the bathroom while Sally took Ann to gymnastics.  I had on my Ohio University sweatshirt that I love. It is very plain and green with Ohio University across the front. Sadly, I forgot I was wearing it and before I knew it, I had paint on the elbows.  I ran downstairs and lit it up with spray stain remover.  I threw it in the washer and hoped for the best.

When Sally came home I shared my story with her about the sweat shirt getting paint on it and me thinking it was ruined. That was when she said, "Can I tell you something if you won't get mad?"

This was my opening! I knew that if she told me something, I could tell her about the sneakers and we would be even.  So I lied, "Of course you can tell me something and I won't be mad." And then I told the truth, "As long as I can tell you something if you won't get mad at me."


Then Sally proceeded to make me mad.

"I don't like that Ohio University sweatshirt on you. I never did.  The collar is too high and it makes you look like a floating head."

Ouch. I am very touchy about my big, fat over-sized head.

She said that when I told her I got paint on it, she secretly cheered on the inside.

I said that I wasn't hurt and that I was sorry she felt that way and that I was sorry that HER SENSE OF SWEATSHIRT FASHION WAS WAY OFF.

Then I told her I didn't like my sneakers. But somehow that didn't phase her. Then we both went off to do the things that married couples do on a Sunday night when they are pretending that they are not mad at each other.

So here I sit, in my Ohio University sweatshirt with the paint stains that didn't come out, wearing the sneakers that I never really liked, remembering that Miss Sally is the best wife anyone could ever hope to have because the worst fight we have ever had involved me having a big floating head and a pair of sneakers that maybe have too many stripes on them.

I am the luckiest man in the world. And I wouldn't trade that for hair combs or a pocket watch chain,ever.

Things I Have Learned as a Husband

Filling a dirty pan with water and letting it soak is not considered washing it.

Staying out late is being out until 11:59pm
Staying out all night is anytime past 12:01am

If your wife says she doesn’t want jewelry, she does.

Wives like sex, just not right now.

The bed does not make itself. Saying that you are just going to sleep in it again is not a valid excuse.

It was not pure luck that my work shirts are hanging in the closet.

Always keep track of favors and tasks. If you owe, it’s best to remember and pay up. It is human nature to remember that you’ve done the laundry the last 30 times or given the last 5 baths. Try to keep it even.

My kids might have a sense of humor and know what The Force is because of me, but all the other credit goes to my wife.

Don’t mention that you found hair in the shower.

Most everything is a test. I’m scoring in the low 20s and there is no curve.

Grey hair only exists on my head.

Putting away leftovers does not mean eating what’s left out of the pan over the sink.

Whole cucumbers do not belong in the garbage disposal no matter what cool noise they make.

If there is a good looking girl at work, I immediately go home and tell my wife about her. I’m not sure why except that it seems like the right thing to do.

It’s not worth arguing about toilet seat status or how much toilet paper makes up a single use.

When you get into an argument in the car there is usually nothing interesting to look at out the window.

Whoever cooks, the other person does the dishes.

It is better for me to go to work unshaven than to use the pink razor in the shower. (Or I should learn to rinse the pink razor better.)

Don’t discuss your sex life on the internet.

Before two kids it was morning sex. After two kids it’s mourning sex.

I am not a very good learner.

My wife is the most tolerant woman in the world. I love her very much. Happy Valentine's Day!

Recycling a website article is not considered a valid Valentine's Day present.

Lake Erie to be renamed Lake Ohio

COLUMBUS, OH (FD)- The Ohio Senate voted unanimously on S.B. 189 this past Thursday to change the name of Lake Erie to Lake Ohio. Senator Donald Goldman (R) and Senator Robert Mueller (D) co-sponsored the bill in a most unusual spirit of bipartisanship in The Ohio General Assembly. Senator Goldman stated on Friday morning, “I think most Ohioans are behind this name change and quite frankly, we own most of the lake anyways. This has been a long time coming”

Lake Erie is the eleventh largest lake in the world (by surface area), and the fourth largest of the Great Lakes in surface area though the smallest by volume. Ohio has access to the largest portion of the lake or 11,700 sq mi (30,400 sq km) as compared to Michigan with a paltry 5800 sq mi (15,100 sq km.)

The greater part of its southern shore was at one time occupied by a nation known to the Iroquois League as the "Erielhonan," or the "long-tails," a tribe of Indians from which the lake derived its name. An unnamed Senator said off the record, “Most Indians do not like to have things named after them anyways. They have been after the Cleveland Indians for years. I think the Iroquois descendants will be happy with this as long as they aren’t all dead.”

When questions about how most people remember the names of the lakes through the mnemonic, H.O.M.E.S. (HuronOntarioMichiganErieSuperior), Senator Mueller paused and said, “Is that going to be HOMOS now? I didn’t think of that. It almost makes it easier to remember.”

It begins with a lie and ends with a lie

I was a late bloomer.  I was a good kid in high school.  I didn't drink until after football season my senior year. I didn't sneak out of the house until I did for the first time.

I'm not sure when it was, but I'm sure I was still living at home when my parents expected me to come home as much as they expected me not to. After an older brother and an older sister, I'm sure that the midnight path out the sliding glass door was well worn.

The worst part of this story is that I do not remember it. I've asked some of the people I was with and they don't remember it either. The best part of this story that I cannot remember is that I will never forget it.

One night I probably lied and said I was going out and would be back late. I left the house after being picked up.  If it was Jeff, it would have been in a Trans-Am. If it was Russ, it would have been the Nissan.

What I don't remember is who, what and where.  What I do remember is the thrill of being out all night. Not having a home to crash at. Trying to find something to do.  Driving with the windows down. Drinking Mountain Dew. Going to girls' houses and having them sneak out to talk to us.  At some point, we met up with others and a gang of us went to Kathy's house.  I asked Kathy if she remembers the night. She doesn't.  I remember by the time we got to her house the birds that sing an hour before sunrise were singing.  I remember joking about Kathy's hands. Her hands contained zero bones, but 27 servings of Jell-o.

Then at some point, as the sun was just peeking up above the horizon, I was dropped off at home.  Sneaking back in is always harder than sneaking out.

In the front door.  Up the stairs.  Across the creaky floor. In bed, clothes and all.


(Fake sleepily) Yeah?

"Did you just get in?"

(More fake sleepily) No.

A second lie and then asleep, smelling of grass and sweat and Mountain Dew and being young.

Removing MyWebSearch from Firefox

If you run Firefox and are trying to remove MyWebSearch, try the following:

Delete any "MyWebSeach" extensions under menu TOOLS and then ADD-ONS and EXTENSIONS.

Next, in the address bar, type "about:config" without the quotation marks.

You will see a warning about voiding your warranty. Click "I'll be careful, I promise!" and move on.

In the filter bar, type "myweb."

Right click any items that have "mywebseach" in them and select the "reset" option.

Restart Firefox.

I do not know much about MyWebSearch except that it block pages that have anything to do with "Removing Mywebsearch." If it is blocking those pages, it can block other information as well.  Jerks.

Where did you lose your virginity?

Help me with this completely unscientific experiment by mapping where you lost your virginity. Click on the link below to access a map of the world. Zoom in to your location and then click to add an icon to that spot. Feel free to add a note about how you lost it. No names please.

Thanks to the folks at www.mapservices.org!