To say that Dynamo is the greatest dog ever would be true, but Jenn and Eric know that it is better to share the sun with others than to take it all in and cast shadows. Let us just say that Dynamo is in a First-Place tie with a lot of other dogs.
Dynamo left us suddenly last Sunday. He was a good boy.
But that is not the first time that Dynamo left us. He’s quite good at it. This is Dynamo’s story about when he died the first time. And like all good stories, this one has a bear in it.
To ensure that blame is not given and fingers are not pointed, we’ve changed Eric’s name to “Bob” to protect his identity. And since the whole “Eric” thing is out of the bag, I’ll just call Bob, “Eric,” for clarity.
Several years ago, and many more if you were a dog, Dynamo adopted Jenn and Eric when he randomly followed them home one night on one of their walks. Jenn and Eric were happy to be adopted and saw many more walks and adventures in their future together. Dynamo was completely on board with the taking of walks and adventuring bit. 
As part of the adventuring, Eric, his sister, and brother-in-law took Dynamo camping in Kentucky to an area called Red River Gorge. It’s a beautiful place and I highly recommend you go and check out the rolling hills, thick forests, dangerous cliffs, streams, dangerously steep cliffs, wildlife, and deadly-dangerously steep cliffs.  On a large, tree covered hill, they all camped out, went hiking, and did things that humans and a rambunctious dog on a leash can do. 

Towards evening, the adults wanted to go watch the sunset and knew the viewing area was too steep and dangerous for adventurous dogs, so they tied Dynamo up to a tree and walked up and around and around and up to a ledge that was perfect for not-dogs to watch a sunset. From their spot, they could still see their campsite across the crevice and that gave them a sense of security that they could keep their eye on Dynamo and he would be OK. And as the sun does, it started to set.
But Dynamo missed his friends dearly. They were just across the way and he wanted to be with them. He escaped his bonds and went tearing off in the direction of his friends.  Dogs at that age only know straight lines, and in running with blind joy directly towards them, he fell off a 75-foot cliff.
Eric ran to the cliff edge. There was nothing but a huge, 75-foot drop into darkness and silence. The cliff reversed under itself and he could not see or hear any sign of Dynamo far below.
Dynamo had to be dead.
Eric looked for a way down, but the cliff edge ran hundreds of feet in either direction and only got steeper as it went in either direction. Eric and friends tried calling for Dynamo over the edge in several areas and heard nothing. With nightfall fully upon them and with a heavy heart, they headed back to camp. There was no way down from their location to the bottom of the cliff and he would need to come in from another area of the park to retrieve Dynamo’s body.
Eric called Jenn in the morning to tell her the horrible news. Such an awful thing to deliver over the phone. The three hour drive back to Columbus had to be difficult. (Especially since Jenn’s last words to him leaving with Dynamo were, “Don’t let him fall off any cliffs.”) While all three of the sad humans had to get back to Ohio that morning, Eric explained that he would head back down to the park as soon as possible to find Dynamo and bring him back.
In Columbus, Eric studied the back-road maps and trails to determine his best route to go off-path and retrieve Dynamo. (Whether or not Jenn told him not to come back if he was without Dynamo is unknown and will not be discussed outside of this mention.) But before he could head back down, there was a bear attack on a hiker and the authorities announced the entire park would be closed while the rangers attempted to “take care of” the bear. No one would be allowed in until the park was made safer by one less bear.
Days passed. The bear threat stayed orange or whatever bear threat level it needs to be to keep a park shut down.  And they waited.
After two weeks, they got a call from a ranger. While searching for the bear, there had been a dog sighting by a ranger in another area of the park. Rangers went back, searched the area, and found a dog that had about 5” of leash still attached to his collar. The collar had a Franklin County dog tag registered to a Jenn and Eric, who were owned by Dynamo. The registration had a phone number, and would you like to come down and get your extremely friendly dog?
By the time they got down to the park, Dynamo had made a few new friends, but was not hesitant to jump out of the ranger’s truck and immediately into their Jeep where he was quickly wrapped in Jenn’s arms, never to be let go again. 
Dynamo was a little tattered (some scratches here and there.) A bit hungry (he lost 15 pounds.) Somewhat tired (he slept all three hours home.) But overall, a not dead, good boy.
And he remained a good boy. He was a good boy for so many people for many years. So many friends. So many walks. A new little human to take care of! So many adventures. It’s hard to have such a good boy die once, and Dynamo died twice. But that means he got to live twice, and that is more than we can ask of any dog.

You Suck, Joe Show

It was September 15, 2001 and everyone was still reeling from 9/11. We were standing in line outside the Newport Music Hall in Columbus, Ohio to see David Byrne. It was his Look Into the Eyeball Tour. As we waited, a loud religious nut, perched on a milk crate across the street, was prophesying the end of the world. Many people in line wanted to make his prophesy come true. I think everyone just wanted to escape for a little while. Jesus dude was not helping.

We got inside as the opening band was finishing up. I bought a 32oz beer, which is a great buy because you don’t have to get in line as often. Problem is that the beer gets piss warm, so you have to chug it. Then you have to go stand in line for beer. And for the bathroom. We made our way to the front of the room and found a spot, stage right, back about 20 feet.

David Byrne and his band sauntered out in gas station outfits, embroidered names and all. They played.

It was the best show I had ever seen. Still is.

It could have been the mental state that we were in or it quite possible was the best show ever. Either way, we were all floating a few inches above the sticky floor. I get goosebumps thinking about it.

Then at the midway point of the concert, the music stopped and Joe Show came out on the stage. Joe Show is a DJ at a local Classic Rock station that was sponsoring the show. For some reason, Joe Show was holding his bowling league’s season wrap up party at the concert. He grabbed a mic and talked up David and the band. He then started in about his bowling league and how special it was to him.
The audience plunked back down on the sticky floor and began to mumble. He then asked David Byrne to help him hand out bowling trophies to the “winners” in the bowling league. He handed David a card with names on it. David seemed slightly amused and a bit nonplussed at the whole bit. Well, it was the Midwest. The crowd was pissed. Yells at Joe Show started. “Get off the stage!” “You suck Joe Show!” “No mo’ Joe Show!” Add a smattering of boos and profanity and Joe got the idea. Joe took back the list from David and sped through the last bit of the trophy handing out. He cleared the stage, but not before handing out other bowling trophies to David, the band and the string section. You rock, Joe Show. Really.

Regaining composure, David jumped back into the show. In about thirty seconds we all forgot about Joe’s self-indulgence. Again, the show rocked.

A few days later, I was reliving the story about the concert to my co-worker, Kindra. On a side note, I mentioned the whole bit about bowling and trophies. She suggested I write a letter to the editor of the local alternative paper. So I did. The letter to The Other Paper went like this:

An open letter to Mr. David Byrne:

Please accept these apologies from myself and the hundreds of others who attended your concert Sept. 15 at the Newport Music Hall. It seems that a local radio station thought it would be appropriate to distribute their bowling league trophies in the middle of your concert, bringing the momentum of a tremendous show to a screeching halt.
I can only congratulate you for recovering that momentum with grace and style, making the second half of your show even better than the first. Please do not hold the actions of a few against the rest of us. We definitely want to see you back in Columbus.


P.S. Idiots! Screw you Q-FM 96. And you suck, Joe Show.

I sent the letter in on a Monday. The weekly paper comes out on Thursday and my letter was not in the editorial section. I was disappointed, but not surprised. I had expected to get a phone call from the paper asking me if I actually existed and if they could print my letter. And I mean really, who cares about David Byrne anyways… Time passes.

The phone rang at 6:10 a.m. It was the next Thursday. The letter had been printed.

(Who knew?) The call was from the morning jocks on the radio station in question. They wanted to get me on the air with Joe Show and poke fun at him for his antics. I said it was too early and I had to get ready for work. “How about 9:00 a.m.?” Yeah, I can do 9:00 a.m.

Yeah! I was going to be on the radio and we were all going to make fun of Joe Show. Hurrah! I called all my friends to tell them to listen in to the verbal beating.

Little did I know.

Around 8:45 a.m. they called me. They quickly reviewed what they wanted to go down. Waggs and Elliot would introduce the bit, ask me for my side of the story and then bring Joe Show on to mock him. Easy. I waited on hold, listening to the DJs banter as DJs do. Then I was up. They spoke about the letter in the paper and read some excerpts. I was introduced and gave my side of the story. We all laughed. They then said that there was someone on the phone who wanted to talk to me.

“Doug, you are a dick.” Joe Show has a way with words.

Joe told his side of the story. He claimed several things:

1. I was a dick. (I can see that.)

2. He, out his own pocket, paid for the 60 or so bowling leaguers at the concert. (I had accused him of using free passes that could have gone to real fans.)

3. He claimed that there was no booing and that everyone in the audience LOVED the trophy ceremony. (No comment.)

4. He said that the trophy handing out to David, the band and the strings was done by him running home before the concert and gathering up 10 of his personal trophies. (I can’t dispute this, but who the f*ck would want a trophy with Joe Show’s name on it?)

5. He claimed that David Byrne had come up with the idea about handing out the trophies. (Oddly enough, I can believe this. Byrne is an odd cat. My issue is that Show should have said thanks, but no thanks. Of course, egotistical assholes could never say no to an opportunity like that.)

And then the verbal beatings ensued. As Joe Show described his lame ass side of the story, I tried to interject with my interpretations of his recollections. The entire morning crew and Joe Show attacked and ripped me sideways. I didn’t have a chance. They didn’t want to poke fun of Joe Show, they wanted to make me look like an ass. Sadly, it worked. The volume on my phone was turned down and no one heard my witty comebacks. I ended up looking like someone who punched a quadriplegic in a wheel chair on her birthday.

At the end, I hung up and called my wife. She was very supportive. “Honey, they made you look like an ass.”

Two years later during a reunion at Ohio University, my buddy Larry said he had heard me on the radio six hours earlier. I said that was impossible. He was positive. When his alarm clock radio went off in the morning, there I was, talking about the David Byrne concert and how Joe Show had screwed it up. Turns out it was a “Best of QFM-96.” Yeah, the best of. Larry said, “They made you look like an ass.”

Sigh. David Byrne has not been back to Columbus since.


(Author’s note: Joe Show unexpectedly died in 2016. As soon as I heard the news, I felt bad for the resentment I held for him all those years. Whenever I got to tell this story, I remember explaining what an asshole Joe Show was and in my mind, what an asshole he still was. After he died, there was an outpouring of positive remembrances of Joe and of all his work for charity and local music. This is my opportunity to tell everyone that I was not happy with Joe Show that night and for many years after, but that I forgive him. It was all for entertainment, both on his side and mine. And while this story is not a glowing memory of Joe Show, it is a memory and it is the only thing I can give him now.)

Twitter's updated zombie-user policy

If we are notified that a Twitter user has turned into a Zombie, we can remove their account or assist family members in posting and, if possible, translating their loved one’s moans and death rattles into 280 character Tweets.

Please contact us with the following information:

1. Your full name, email address, and your relationship to the Zombie.
2. The username of the Twitter account, or a link to the last Tweet they made suggesting that they were bit and feeling ill.
3. A link to a news article or video of the Zombie eating brains.

You can contact us at privacy@twitter.com, or by mail or fax:
Twitter Inc.,
c/o: Zombified
795 Folsom Street, Suite 600
San Francisco, CA 94107
Fax: 415-222-9958

Please note that Twitter cannot fix the formatting for long Zombie words like Mmmmmmhhhhhhhhhgggggggggggggggggggg, Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgunh, or Rwwwwwwwwwwrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrraaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh.

Please note that we cannot do anything about loved ones who turn into vampires. We don’t deal with that shit.

I Love Me. Who Do You Love? – The Not-So Audio Book

I compiled a number of HolyJuan stories, postings, cartoons, and some new writings together in a book called, “I Love Me. Who Do You Love?At the time, I thought about recording an audio book to go along with it. As part of my work at Roto, we did audio recordings all the time. We would screen the voice talent, and then with a recording engineer, the talent, and with me as the producer, work together to ensure high-quality recording and to catch errors / make on-the-fly changes to the script. It was enjoyable work, so I thought I could handle it myself by just reading through my book with some simple recording equipment.                

                Oh boy, was I wrong.

                First off, they call them “talent” because it takes a lot of practice and experience to read well, even when it is in their own voice and not a character voice. Reading naturally, without screwing up a word or skipping a whole line is difficult for someone doing it by themselves. Even if you think that you’ve read a few lines perfectly, the engineer and producer is there to catch if there were “pops” or background noises. In a studio environment, you’ve got two people making sure that the words are right and that they sound perfect. Being able to sit back and have a second take on something with a few modifications might squeeze something unexpected from everyone working together.

                Secondly, the engineer is doing several other tasks that have nothing to do with the performance. They are tracking the takes, monitoring the equipment, catching subtle modifications the talent can make to how they are speaking into the microphone, and then wrapping it all up in a nice package for which I can take credit.

                Lastly, it is very difficult to produce your own work. It’s hard to massage a 5th take out of the talent when you are the talent. There are missed words. Missed paragraphs. No direction from a 3rd party. And after trying to get one passable chapter complete, all you want to do is have a drink before moving on, and drinking while recording a downhill cheese wheel chase of compounding trouble.

                I tried to record my book. I borrowed audio equipment from Hugh. Prepped my file folders. Booted up the Adobe Audition recording software. And promptly gave up after the first three chapters. About 75% of my recordings had the word “shit” in them when I recognized I had screwed up a word. Literally every recording would need an edit in the middle. And even when I thought I had a perfect recording, I’d catch a pop or slurred word. I was miserable, realizing that I am the laziest perfectionist in Ohio and the book would never be recorded without paying for an engineer, a producer, and studio time.  

                When I returned the audio equipment to Hugh, I explained my predicament. He knows a significant amount about recording and couldn’t help but agree. But in that sad discussion, we came up with a great idea: The Director’s Cut Audio Book – Now With 100% More Alcohol Consumption.

                Here’s the pitch: I read and record my own book. I use at home equipment. If I want, I drink beers before and during the recording. I read without stopping for simple errors or I call out when I’ve glitched. If I want, I add commentary. I read the comics. I describe the photos. It is story telling of my stories. You buy the audio book knowing what you are getting and buying it because you know what you are getting.

                What do you think? 

                Email holyjuan@gmail.com with your thoughts.

Compare and Consternation

A few weeks ago, I got a message on my Fake Dispatch Twitter account from a local publication asking if I would be interested in collaborating on some humorous political commentary. Absolutely. I went to their offices and we decided I would write as Fake Dispatch and write humorous content that would be published at their online channel. I would wait until the last minute to write these pieces so that they could be as relevant as possible. 

We did a test the first week to see if my content was what they were looking for. I sent them three extended Fake Dispatch posts. Their response was that they were not looking for me to write fake news but to comment on real news. I said I would make an attempt.

For me, it is difficult to write funny commentary on real, local topics, because at some point, someone's feelings are going to get hurt. When I write something made up, there is a buffer of lies between my jokes and others' emotions. But I gave it my best. That next week, I sent them a new set of Fake Dispatch "hot takes" with real, humorous commentary.

Between that first week and the second week, something unexpected happened at this local publication where they reconsidered publishing political commentary. It was an unfortunate coincidence, but Boy was I Proud of the opportunity to try this writing challenge. They said, "thanks, but no thanks" and my work was never to see the light of day.

So here it is in the light of day! Here's what I would like to do: I'm going to post the first "fake" article and its complimentary "real" piece. The last two don't align on topic, but you get the idea. Let me know what you think.


Teh Ohio State University
Just this week, Teh Ohio State University applied for copyright protection on the word, “THE.” At least they thought they did. Because they allowed a graduate from Ohio University to fill out the application, the woman accidentally put “Teh” on the application over 37 times. When asked about the error, the woman replied, “Oops, that must have been a typo. Go Bobcats!” Legally, Teh Ohio State University must use the word “Teh” until the matter is settled in court. 

The The The Ohio State University
Don’t get me wrong; I love Ohio State. Outsiders to Columbus are not forced to don the scarlet and grey. (Though I think babies born at any university hospital are swaddled in OSU blankets and receive a block O tattoo.) But if a non-alumna does accept Ohio State into their heart, they will find themselves invited to more tailgates, asked to go to lunch more often with co-workers, and high-fived a lot in public. It’s either that or give in to the dark side and wear Michigan gear. Honestly, Michigan fans should get a lot more credit than the folks that wear OSU gear as camouflage. 
I love Ohio State. But damn do they test my patience. Originally, people insisting you say, “The” Ohio State University was just silly. I refuse to do it. But then they go and try to trademark the word “The?” 

I think this means that if you have four people to spell out “OHIO,” you are going to need three more to spell out the “THE.”
Well, I’m sorry to say that “The” is already taken. (A song by the group JYJ.) And "The The" is taken by the group The The. Luckily, The The The is available and that’s what I am going to call The The The Ohio State University from now on. The The The Ohio State University.
And now I can’t figure out how to form the H in “The” with just one person’s arms. You might need eight people. Shit… sixteen if you spell The The The OHIO.


Alternative Transportation Energy

A Columbus man was injured last night after attempting to create a perpetual motion machine by taping two rental scooters together. Allen Mordigio Baskins, who asked that we would not use his name, rented a Bird and Lime scooter. He aligned the wheels, front to back and back to front and then taped the accelerator handles down on both units. The resulting explosion generated an EMP blast that erased all the high scores from the video games at 16-bit Bar. Allen Mordigio Baskins, who asked that we not reveal his name, was thrown several hundred feet and landed on, believe it or not, a Spin scooter which he then used to scoot his busted ass to the hospital. 

Electric Rental Scooters are the Devil
In Columbus, you literally cannot swing an electric rental scooter without hitting another scooter. By last count, I think there are 1,335 scooter companies in Columbus. (Lime, Bird, Lyft, Spin. OK there are four.) No one says anything about it in the Bible, but electric scooters were the 11th Plague of Egypt. (And also how the Israelites got out of town so quickly.) Scooters are everywhere in Columbus. They are here to stay. They are the Devil. 

They are the Devil because have you seen the people riding them with sheer glee and abandon? As they ride on the street/sidewalk/parking lots/grass/into fire hydrants, their faces are filled with exultation. They laugh. They whoop. They slalom from side to side. Even the people on their way to work have a micron of an upturned lip as they whizz down the street. Anything that provides that kind of selfless happiness can only come from the Devil. Scooters are the Devil. And I love riding every mile down the highway to hell on them.  



Anxious for Weed?
The State Medical Board of Ohio committee, which is empowered to recommend what qualifying conditions would allow residents to purchase medical marijuana, has decided against adding autism spectrum disorder and anxiety to the Ohio’s list of qualifying conditions for purchasing the drug. Previously, they also ruled against allowing prescriptions for opioid use disorder, depression, and insomnia.

Currently, the only covered conditions for medical marijuana are golfer’s elbow, injuries obtained during equestrian dressage, and stress induced from being a State Medical Board of Ohio committee member. 

Dangerous Intersection Remediation Underway

According to Columbus city officials, there have been 68 accidents at the intersection of Livingston Ave. and Barnett Rd. between 2015 and 2017.  Columbus is throwing $1.4 million at the intersection to make it safer by modifying the road width, adding turn lanes, and crosswalks. Folks, this is not going to put a dent in the number of accidents. Or I should say there will still be dents, and that number might have one, but it will still be the same number. I’m sure they had the best intentions, but I don’t think it is going to work. You know what would stop accidents there? A traffic circle. You drop a traffic circle in there and I guarantee there will not be a single accident as people drive 2 MPH in the same circle over and over and over. How do you get people to avoid accidents in the intersection? When completely avoid the intersection. I understand that many of the residents in Hillard over the age of 60 would gladly donate one of their city’s traffic circles. 

If It Works, It Works (Updated)

(Author's note: I've updated this story with some new revelations and photos at the end. You can skip down if you wish, but this story is good enough to read again.)

There is the right way to do things, the wrong way to do things, and then the wrong way that is the best right way you have. My favorite type of wrong/best-right is the one that comes through getting cornered and fighting one’s way out of the problem.

In September of 2015, a team of folks from our company traveled to Turkey to help install interactive exhibits at the Kocaeli Science Center in İzmit. In preparation for this trip, we thought long and hard about the tools and hardware we were going to take. The tools were an issue due to the 220 V / 50 Hz power standard incompatibly. The hardware was troublesome because both the metric system and we knew were going to leave the unused hardware behind and didn’t want to blow the budget buying 100 of everything we might need. Our recon team went out a few months early and discovered we would have no problem buying the tools we needed locally. The hardware we would need was also available, but our scout team said we’d need a guide to navigate the maze of hardware. We brought the hardware we knew needed, some standard hardware we knew we might need for troubleshooting, and knew we could figure something out with whatever we could find locally.

When Alpha Team One (I know that’s redundant, but it sounds cool) arrived, they surveyed the museum space, assisted the client to understand how the space was laid out incorrectly, helped to modify it, unloaded the shipping containers, and ventured into town to buy the tools we needed. AJ went with Metin, our local interpreter, to the hardware store where AJ unwittingly became a local hero. We needed a lot of expensive tools and AJ was a long-haired, full-bearded kid in a candy shop. As they drove off with the van’s shocks aching under the weight of his purchases, I imagine all the store’s employees on the sidewalk waving goodbye with big smiles on their faces and then jumping up and down and hugging one another once the van turned the corner. Word of AJ got around and for the next few weeks, because he was so beardedly recognizable, seemingly random people would yell out his name and wave to him as he walked around the city streets.

Once Beta Team Two (I know) arrived, we were fortunate to follow in the footsteps and the path cleared of brambles by the first team. They knew how to get around, when to drink tea, how to get food, and that any hardware run was going to require a dusty leather jacket, a fedora, a bullwhip, a shoulder bag, a map, and Metin. And several hours. The hardware store had hardware, but it was spread out over three floors of their building and seemed to be grouped by some arbitrary organization system that put bolts next to paint and nuts above the cast iron pipes. I’m assuming the heaviest items were located near the loading doors because when a worker tired of carrying something, it was dropped, and that became its location in the store.

Metin and Keegan at the hardware store.

Along the way, we found out that plumbing in Turkey is different from plumbing in the United States. Aside from the metric system and the normal issues that come from pipe/thread size, we learned that they use horse hair and Teflon tape in many applications where we might use two correctly sized fittings. If two pipes were not coming together as expected, they would wrap horse hair around the threads, keep it all in place with a few wraps of Teflon tape, and force the two pieces together like a couple in an arranged marriage.

I laughed at this until my final days on the project when I had my own plumbing issue. Due to a miscommunication, our team had dissimilar clear braided PVC hose pipe that came from a structure in the ceiling and needed to connect to the house water supply on the ground.  The 1” tubing from the ceiling needed a reducing fitting that would take it down to a ½” tube. We could not find anything in Turkey that could make this transition. We ordered the piece we needed, but it was three days away and we had a sign off with the client the next day. Chris let me troubleshoot this issue and here’s what I tried:
  • apply various metric fittings (failed without even turning the water on)
  • shove the smaller tube inside the larger tube (it fits tightly, but the water pressure pops it out, with water shooting out like a rouge fire-hose)
  • shove the smaller tube inside the larger tube and use a hose clamp to compress (still pops out, water less everywhere as we were prepared this time)
  • all the above and use two hose clamps (STILL POPS OUT)

I needed something to keep the tubes in place and time to do the right thing was long past and I was almost to the point of doing the wrong thing. So I said, “screw it,” literally. I found a few screws and compared them to the vinyl pipe wall thickness. I took the screw with the coarsest thread and joined the two tubes together, making sure I didn’t pass too far through. We turned on the water and the hoses stayed together. Because the screw’s threads were far enough apart, they stayed sealed in the hose wall. I think I covered the whole mess in Teflon tape, not to keep the water in, but to hide our sins from the client.

Court and Chris working on a boiling water fountain

Then I left the county, missing the client review (we passed the review and got paid), hoping that I would not be stopped at the border (a story for another time.)

Later, the correct part arrived, Chris cut out the offending plumbing, and installed the proper fitting. Instead of throwing my little Frankenstein’s Monster away, he brought it home.

This little guy now lives at my desk. It’s a trophy. If it were mounted to a walnut plaque with a little bronze plate, I think the inscription would say, “If It Works, It Works – September 2015”.

(But then, on a small piece of paper rolled up on the inside and held in place by that screw, there would be a message to the curious. What would that message say? I don’t know… how curious are you?)


Since writing this article in March, I've taken a new position with another company. Last night, we had a going away party at a bar and many of my co-workers showed up to say goodbye. AJ was one of those folks and he said he had a gift for me.

The day after I told people I was leaving our company, AJ secretly came by my desk, took the "If it works, it works" hose assembly and replaced it with a decoy. You can see from the image below that the decoy was so close the the original that I didn't notice and brought it home in a box with my other desk crap.

The decoy - damn good!

Just in case I did notice, AJ slipped a note in his decoy.

So last night at the going away party, AJ presented me with this:

And like I said above, "If it were mounted to a walnut plaque with a little bronze plate, I think the inscription would say, “If It Works, It Works – September 2015”.

Quite possibly the most thoughtful gift I have ever received. Thanks, AJ. And goodbye. I will miss you.

The Step at the C.I.

I went to Ohio University from 1988 to 1992. Technically it was 1993, but I wouldn’t want it to seem like I flunked a grade or that my parents held me back. The friends I made then are the friends I still have now. We are planning a reunion for the end of June and there are about 24 of us coming back to Ohio University. More than likely, we will end the night at the C.I.

The C.I. was and still is our favorite haunt. I know many of my friend have individual bars they like to go to for other reasons, but for when we are all together, it’s the C.I. Our favorite pastime is to get a basket of peanuts, halve the shell, eat the peanuts, and then secretly place a half shell on someone’s shoulder as they stood at the bar or walked by. Bonus points for getting a shell on both their shoulders. That was a good way to make friends. We also like to run and try to jump on the high shelf that runs the length of the front wall parallel to the bar. Few could do it then. Fewer now.

In 1993, I was at the C.I. with Crazy Jill. We were manning “The Step.”  Before renovations, the C.I. had an odd step up to a platform at the end of the bar and then step down about 20 feet later. I assume there were pipes running under the floor or possibly treasure. Either way, The Step was a hazard to many a drunk, both stepping up and stepping down, and someone needed to help! Jill and I would stand on either side of the step and ensure that C.I. patrons were aware of the step. I, being a boy, would focus on telling the girls to watch their step, usually offering a hand to help them up or down. Jill would help the boys, usually frisking them on the way past. Both of us always with a, “watch your step!” The people sitting on the shelf behind us probably wondered what we were doing, but enjoyed the show. I just thought it was a good way to possibly pick up a girl for the night. Jill thought she might find her future husband, but that was silly.

On one particular night, Crazy Jill and I were both very drunk and very helpful in escorting people up and down the stair. At some point, Jill began to help the boys down the step with a solid swat on the butt. This continued for several minutes until a boy, staggering to the exit, happened to the top of the step. He was quite drunk and, surprisingly, carrying a camcorder in the palm of his hand. In 1993, a camcorder you could cup in one hand was expensive and not something you haul around drunk at an Ohio University bar.  He approached the stair and began to step down. Jill said, “Watch yer step!” and as he started to descend, she swung and hit his ass. At least she tried to. She missed his butt and instead hit the camcorder in his hand. He was not holding on through the strap and it went flying forward. It missed everyone in front of him and hit the floor with a noise that sounded like five or six pieces of plastic breaking Without missing a stagger, the guy lumbered forward, picked up the largest chunk of camera, some of the plastic bits, and walked out the door without a head turn backwards or an angry word out of his mouth.

We stopped manning the step after that night. I don’t think it was because of the camcorder incident, but the quarter was over for me and we never found time to do it again. You never know when your last night at a bar is going to be. Later the C.I. went through some renovations and The Step was removed and now there is no The Step.

There is one last bit to this story. On that last eventful night, one of the people sitting on the shelf and watching Crazy Jill and I help people up and down the step thought to herself, “What the hell are these people doing.” And then later, “They just broke that guy’s video camera!” It wasn’t until my wife and I were married for a few years that the story of The Step came up and that I was that guy standing in front of her helping ladies up and down The Step and she was the girl sitting behind me, knowing that was the wrong way to try to pick up girls.

Me and Dr. Kathy Sullivan

This photo:

In 1999, COSI, the Center of Science and Industry, moved from one location to another. On the last day at the old facility, we marched down a few blocks to the new location, which was still under construction. At the new digs, there was a big event to celebrate the move. Everyone on the COSI team had an opportunity to go up on a platform hand get a handshake and a photo with our CEO Dr. Kathy Sullivan and Dimon McFerson, CEO of Nationwide Insurance.

As you can see from this other photo from the event, Stuart (a man who knew beards before they became popular) is posed in the proper position with everyone following protocol.

I had a different plan.

I knew that Kathy and Dimon would continue to follow the procedure of:
1. position team member between the two
2. thank yous
3. hand shakes
4. pose for photo
5. push them off the platform and wait for the next person

My plan was slightly modified in that right before the photo was taken, I was going to turn and kiss Kathy on the cheek.

It was the perfect plan. All my other co-workers were following the rules and doing a great job of keeping the process flowing. I knew that no one else would think to do the turn-and-kiss and once I did it, no one would be able to copy it.

It was finally my turn.
Up on the platform.
Thank you. Thank you.
Pose for photo.

At the moment that I turned my head to kiss Kathy on the cheek... SHE DID THE SAME.

Our lips met. We both recoiled in surprise with laughter. CLICK!

So now, take a second look at that first photo. We are laughing and wide eyed in surprise. Dimon didn't know what had happened and was a little confused.

I was shuffled off the platform and we all had a good laugh.

I didn't know for a few weeks that the photo was not of us kissing. That's what you got back then with film. The photo was taken just a second too late. I was disappointed that there was no kiss photo, but the picture I have still tells the story.

I wonder if she tells her friends about the time she got to kiss me?

Should I update my birthday on Twitter? No.

If you lied about your birthday when you started your Twitter account, don't ever update it. Twitter will lock your account until your age is cleared up and that can take months or possibly forever.

Under The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Twitter is locking the accounts of anyone who may of posted anything while they were under 13 years of age. If you update your birthday, they run the math backwards, see that you were under 13 when you posted, and lock the account so that they do not get into trouble. It's dumb, but it's the easy way to make sure they don't run into trouble. 

Q. Should I update your birthday on Twitter?
A. No.

Q. What if I have updated my birthday and I am not locked out of my account.
A. You are screwed.

Q. No, really, what should I do?
A. Follow these steps as suggested by Twitter: https://help.twitter.com/en/managing-your-account/locked-and-limited-accounts

Quiz: Quote from a Porno or a Han Solo line from a Star Wars movie?

1.     Thanks for coming after me. I owe you one.

2.     No, no, no! This one goes there, that one goes there.

3.     She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts, kid.

4.     Oh. I thought they smelled bad... on the outside!

5.     Great, kid. Don't get cocky.

6.     Besides, I know a few maneuvers.

7.     Get in there, you big furry oaf! I don't care what you smell!

8.     Great shot, kid, that was one in a million!

9.     Now let's blow this thing and go home.

10. Sorry about the mess!


1.     Han Solo, “Return of the Jedi”
2.     Han Solo, “The Empire Strikes Back”
3.     Han Solo, “A New Hope”
4.     Han Solo, “The Empire Strikes Back”
5.     Han Solo, “A New Hope”
6.     Han Solo, “A New Hope”
7.     Han Solo, “A New Hope”
8.     Han Solo, “A New Hope”
9.     Han Solo, “A New Hope”
10. Han Solo, “A New Hope”

The Big Yummy vs The Big Weenie

In 1999, COSI opened at its riverfront location in downtown Columbus. Once the building opened, the COSI Design and Production Studio, the group of folks who envisioned, designed, built, and installed COSI in its new location, broke up into three groups. Some people left to pursue other projects. Others remained in-house to help maintain the newly opened building. And the last bit became what was to be COSI Studio; a group of folks developing new exhibits for COSI and for other science museums, children’s play areas, and aquariums.

The first exhibit this group worked on was Space, which opened the following year at COSI. But during this time, COSI was approached by several Ohio Agricultural groups to help promote healthy eating and Ohio farmers. What finally came of this was “The Big Yummy,” a lunchtime, animatronic talent show with various foods competing to win The Big Yummy award.   In 30 minutes, kids were rotated in, they would eat their lunch, watch the show, and then cycled out.
The Big Yummy door graphic hanging behind me.
The show was even set up with three different endings that were determined by the volume of the audience’s applause. (The Pinto and Soy Beans almost always won due to the fart machines hidden in the lunch seats that were activated during the beans’ performance.)
Soy and Pinto Bean sketch with color callouts

At the outset of the project, we worked on the concept and the script. We designed the space and determined the necessary refurbishment and modifications. We developed the characters and worked on their art direction with the animatronic company.  The show had several songs, an original score and when the script was finalized, we flew out to California to a recording studio to record the music and voice actors.
A scale model of the stage with sculpted maquettes Johnny Rotten, Soy and Pinto Beans, Corn Cob Bob, and Leche Es Bueno
Corn Cob Bob and Pat O'Butter final animatronics

Egg, the heckler in the back of the audience

Leche Es Bueno, the milk carton host of the show
The show trophy sketch with color
This is where I stop and tell you that up until now, you think I have been talking about The Big Yummy, but I haven’t. I’ve been talking about The Big Weenie. The show we worked on up until this point was called The Big Weenie. The logo, the songs, the lyrics, the characters’ lines, and even the grand prize trophy all referenced The Big Weenie. In the science museum world, a "weenie" was the best exhibit in the gallery, the one that got the most attention. Weenie is also a food, so that was part of it. It’s also laughingly enjoyable to say out loud. Try it… weenieweenieweenie See! But not everyone thought it was a good choice of word.
One of the early logo concepts

The final (we thought) logo

As Allen and I flew westward to Burbank, California and the Theta Sound Studio, there was a management meeting at COSI. Even though we had been working on The Big Weenie for several months, management was unaware of the name or perhaps their ears finally perked up when it was mentioned at this meeting. After we landed, we went to the Studio and arrived mid-session as the musicians were laying down the music. As we were settling in and working on some last-minute edits, Allen got a call from COSI. We were told that the name “Weenie” was absolutely not allowed and that any reference to it must be removed from the show. I assume this was because “weenie” can also mean “penis.” The Big Penis show.

After Allen hung up and told me this, we started to realize the situation we were in. This wasn’t just a simple name change. The word Weenie was throughout the lyrics, usually at the end of a line. This meant that our replacement word needed to be:
-two syllables
-end in the “ie” sound
-be food related
-it had to fit in the flow of everything
-determined in the next 18 hours before the actors were in the studio to record their lines and songs
-not have anything to do with penis

What we came up with in those first few hours was, “The Big Smörgie,” short for Smörgåsbord. It fit with most the replacement criteria, except that it was a made-up word and didn’t quote flow. But that was the best we had. And the best was mediocre.

Allen had another meeting across town, so he left me at the studio to oversee the recording and to make sure we didn’t have any other odd references in the script to Weenie.

Allen called twenty minutes later in LA traffic. He had an idea. He told me about Jerry’s Famous Deli. It’s a landmark in LA and they have an awesome menu. On that menu is (was) a delicious dessert (or breakfast item depending on how you wanted to frame it) item that consisted of a cream cheese and jelly sandwich that was soaked in egg and deep fried.

The item was called a Yummy.
Jerry's Famous Deli menu with The Yummy

The Yummy

The Big Yummy! Yummy was the perfect replacement word! It met all the criteria. It was the next best, closest thing to Weenie that we were going to get. We swapped out all the Weenies with Yummys in the script, changed the logo, and moved on.

There are still secret stashes of The Big Weenie floating around. Sketches. Original scripts. Logo development concepts. I think the biggest one in clear sight is that the trophy the “winner” of the show received is a hot dog or weenie. 
Note the W on the crown and faux Latin on base

In 2004, a financially burdened COSI had a failed tax levy and the institution made some major cuts. The Big Yummy was a staff intensive show and went on the chopping block. LifeFormations, the animatronic company, bought back several of the animatronics and repurposed them at different venues. One of the most popular is Corn Cob Bob and Pat O’Butter at Jungle Jim’s in Cincinnati. You can still see them there at the front door today.

I was extremely fortunate to work on The Big Yummy project. There were many, many creative people involved that I still interact with today. We all made something outlandishly creative and heartrendingly original. When I am at COSI, I will go into that room and look for the hints and shadowed fingerprints that were left behind by that experience. Seams in the drywall. Bumps under the carpet. They are there if you know where to look. But the biggest, lasting impression, which you can also see, if you know where to look, is on me.

Fortune and Fame,
A heartbeat away,
Lights flashing your name,
This is your day,
It’s the Weenie,
The Big Weenie,
Ennie, meanie, miney, moe,
Where will the Big Weenie go?