Friday, October 24, 2008

Frozen Pets and Whirled Peas

I saw three things yesterday that I found very humorous.

First, I saw a very funny bumper sticker that said "Visualize Whirled Peas." Very clever.

Second, I saw a truck promoting their service: "Fresh Frozen Pet Food Delivery." I wondered if the kids will someday ask for a Frozen Pet? If so, I know how to get fresh food.

Finally, an all-service laundry facility adorned a sign that read:


It had never occurred to me that a tailor's personal hygiene was worth advertising.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


My wife wants to start a movement in Framingham. And it's not the kind of movement the town desperately needs to reduce the number of Brazilian nail salons in the downtown area. Instead, she wants to promote a "Positive Costume Only" (PoCO) Halloween in which only happy and friendly costumes are worn by the children of the town. The acronym is by no means intended to minimize the magnitude of this initiative's potential impact.

This interest of hers was prompted by the frightened response by our children as they walked by the Halloween store at the mall. She hurried the kids past the zombies and goblins at the same pace I typically rush past the occasional Spencer's gift store. Or past the frequent "Can I ask you a question?" from beauty product kiosk vendors to whom I always respond with finality, "You just did."

Over dinner the other night, she explained that kids should not wear scary costumes. I asked her for an example of a more positive yet interesting costume. She promptly responded, "A Rubik's Cube." I now felt obligated to explain that one of the reasons that masks were historically worn at Halloween festivals was to scare away evil spirits. This was typically done at Harvest time, or in modern days, before eating candy harvested from strangers in costumes.

I explained that the Rubik's cube wasn't scary enough. But, then I hesitated. I realized that when I was of trick-or-treating age, I would have been terrified of a Rubik's cube. Especially, if the puzzle were to surprise ambush me in a cul-de-sac, screaming "Solve Me! Solve Me!" I definitely would have run home.

Therefore, I have successfully defeated the PoCO Halloween with at least one example of how a seemingly positive costume is always a disguise for something more evil and sometimes unexplainable. With a renewed excitement for the holiday, I will be making new costumes for my kids. Watch out residents of Framingham, because this year on All Hallow's Eve, you will meet Ms. Calculus and Mr. Driver That Always Blocks Intersections.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


I need more of it. I have about 10 posts in draft mode. More soon...

Monday, October 13, 2008


At the San Francisco airport, they make it relatively easy to find the van shuttles that will take you almost anywhere in the city for $17. However I suspect that if I looked at a terminal map, it would show the shuttle pickup location just beyond the airport property. It's not that they don't want you to leave the airport, but rather they don't want to be associated with any ill circumstance that might result from a ride on one of these shuttles-from-hell.

I was the second person to sign my life away, which meant that I had to climb to the far back into the last row of three. Unfortunately, the middle row was three seats wide preventing proper access to the third row. I believe now that somewhere at a Ford plant in the midwest where they make these people-movers, there is a job opening.

"Someone must have put a three-seater in the two-seater pile when I wasn't looking," he must have said at his exit interview.

I climbed under an extended seat belt safely securing an invisible passenger in the first row. I tumbled over the second row of seats into the back. As I straightened myself out and started searching for my seat belt in the middle seat, another passenger hurled himself into our row. Once settled, the three of us looked at each other with disgust and fear for the unknown.

With eight of us packed into every available seat, the driver climbed in and started the engine. While the van idled, we all sat there quietly for a minute. The driver stared straight ahead, perhaps considering how he might kill us and steal our frequent flyer miles as part of his plan to start a new life. My new best friends and I nervously looked at each other, searching for an explanation as to why we were still there. One passenger spoke up, his voice cracking.

"I don't think anyone else is coming." His observation was returned with silence.

A couple minutes later and without warning the driver yelled, "WE GO!" He must have slammed his foot on the gas pedal, because we sped out of the parking lane faster than you could say "Refund Please."

With the grace and speed of an Andretti, our chauffeur cut off a dozen other drivers including another van from his own company. I hope this comes up at his annual performance review, as in the following: "The employee does not work well with others. In fact, he tries to kill them on the highway." I also wondered if shuttle drivers ever respond anonymously to a "How's my driving?" bumper sticker when it's in response to a coworker. It might be a competitive field after all.

Now in the passing lane with open road ahead of us, it was somewhat smooth sailing at 80mph. As we all sat there speechless and facing forward, I felt like one of those Fisher Price Little People. If I were to raise my arms straight out to my sides and put a frog in my pocket, I could have completed the imitation. The wheels on the bus go round and round.

Besides the simple-minded fellow in the front row chuckling at the text message alert he received on his phone to inform him that his flight had just landed, my co-passengers were non-verbal. Unwilling to die lonely, I chose to make friends with the woman to my right. She was staring out the window, perhaps praying for her safety.

"Are you from San Francisco?" I asked cheerily.

"No," my new friend said deeply, finishing the conversation without looking at me.

The man to my right was now sleeping through all of this. I decided to focus more on what was happening outside the van. I marveled at the houses on the Peninsula that were built on the sides of very large hills. It just doesn't seem like a great place to live. The views might be great, but is it really worth it to risk sliding down the mountain and onto the highway?

We entered San Francisco and the driver stopped every 5 minutes to unload each passenger at their final destination. As we entered one low income neighborhood, my chipper friend reconsidered our rocky start and said in a heavy Russian accent, "This city looks like a slum."

"This does look like a bad part, but it truly is a beautiful city. I've been here once before," I said to the back of her head.

A few minutes later she concluded, "It doesn't look like the slum; it is the slum."

Still staring out the window, she then confessed, "This is my stop." The vehicle came to a halt and I moved aside so that she could roll over the seats in front of us and out the van door.

On the road again, I was the only victim remaining. As we sped up and down the 'Frisco hills, I wondered if the weight of all the other passengers had previously prevented us from tipping over. This concerned me as I bumped up and down in my seat with every trolley track we crossed.

At one intersection, we drove through a red light cutting off traffic to cross three lanes to make a left. This might have been more successful had we not tried to accomplish this in less than 10 feet.

Finally, we pulled into my hotel driveway nearly hitting the unsuspecting valet. As the driver pulled my luggage from the back of the van the valet walked by and with sarcasm said, "Nice driving."

As always, I experienced tip fear (the fear of confrontation that might result from not tipping enough or at all). I gave him $17 per standard rate and another $5 for getting me there alive after all. With a wave and a "thank you," he was on his way back to the airport to do it all again.

When the hotel offered a Lincoln Town Car for the return trip to the airport, I didn't hesitate to make a reservation. In fact, I think I said out loud and very enthusiastically, "WE GO!"