Saturday, February 28, 2009

I'm Being Stalked By A Robot

One day last week, I was in Boston for a job fair where I was representing my employer and hoping to find good candidates for our team.  I don't go to the city very often, but when I do I'm reminded of days past when the city was the epicenter of my social life and the backdrop for many late night and early morning alcohol-inspired outings.

While looking for a parking space, I was stopped at a traffic light I know very well.  On that particular corner stands a watering hole at which I spent many Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights for a few years in my early to mid 20s.  There were several of us in my core circle of friends who knew, without speaking, that we would end up there on those nights for as long as we were alive and not still recovering from the previous night.

I should mention here that there was a time during this era in which I started to get tired of the same old routine.  I wasn't the type to just start chatting away with strangers, so my conversations were limited to the friends I went there with.  Although I enjoyed these relationships, by Sunday night we had exhausted every possible topic.  The "So.... what have you been up to since I last saw you at 2am this morning?" discussion lasted about 10 minutes.   This was often the extent of our discussions anyways, because the music was too loud to truly hear what others were saying.  I had my own version of Cheers, except that nobody knew my name because they couldn't hear me.  In fact, I'm pretty sure that I was known by some as Tile, Tire, and Filer.

Feeling more and more disconnected from my own friends, I once proposed a "night in". 

"C'mon guys... let's watch a movie, take it easy and catch up over a pizza?"  

By the reaction I got, you would have thought I was proposing we all move to a dark cave in the Andes and eat fire roasted mutton while we play Pictionary with wild boar dung.  I eventually gave up on my efforts to redirect my friends towards less expensive and more audible discussions.  

Therefore while sitting at the traffic light in front of this once favorite bar of mine, I couldn't help but reflect on how much my social life has changed since then.  I smiled as I looked over my shoulder at the two car seats and Elmo books between them.  Here I was, driving to a job fair where I was now the hiring manager going to interview many young college grads who were probably getting ready to go (or had just come from) a local pub to yell over the music at each other.  I have bought a couple houses and been a landlord as opposed to being a renter with insurmountable debt.  

I also started to think about another major change; one that prompted me to write this anecdote.  

In the mid-90s, I did not have a cell phone or text messaging.  If someone wanted to reach me, they would email me (if they could even do that) or call my answering machine at home.  My social life and dating would have greatly benefited from a cell phone and (better yet) text messaging.  I even wonder if my wife and I would have texted each other after we first met, rather than let six years pass before we met again in person to plan our first date.  It would have been wonderful to have a "nice 2 meet u" text while driving home, especially given that she was on a date with someone else when we first met. Now that technology has advanced, we rely on it heavily to communicate to each other throughout the day.  

My Friday nights look very different than years ago.  I no longer eat mac and cheese on a beat up couch, nap for a couple hours in the early evening, go to a bar until 2am, and go to bed at 3am.  Instead, I get home from work in time to give my kids mac and cheese, put them to bed, do some laundry/dishes/ice cream eating/blogging/work/television watching, and go to bed earlier than a younger version of me would have awakened from a pre-drinking nap.

But thanks again to technology, I now get unexpected late night text messages.  Are these from my wife upstairs with a sweet message such as "Don't forget to lock the doors before you come up"?  Are they from my friends asking "Are you coming over to watch a movie? We're going to catch up over a pizza"?  

No. Instead, I get text messages from robots at work.  That's correct. Robots at work. When the robots we use nearly 24/7 to process biological samples encounter any problems, they send an email which is converted into a text message to my phone.  (A couple of the robots actually have their own Facebook pages, but that's a story for another day).  

I can't help but wonder if the robots are lonely and text me and my colleagues because of their desire for attention.  Whenever my phone beeps with a text message from the robots, my brain translates this to "Hey. HEY! What are you doing? It's me. One of the robots. I NEED you to come and see me.  Please. I need you now to come NOW."  I'm often tempted to text back: "No. I can't right now. I'm busy. Stop texting me. I'll come see you later..." 

Therefore, I can't help but think that this is the most dysfunctional variation of a man-robot relationship ever.  

On some level, I need the robots too.  They text me on Friday nights.  And they never ask me to go to loud bars where we'll never be able to truly catch up on the day's events.  Besides, from me it would be about the daily grind and from the robot it would be a recount of some very repetitious behavior.  On the other hand, I'm worried about the day when they drink too much WD-40 and text me with photos of themselves with their exterior hardware removed.  

Partially Retracted

Please see my updated post from yesterday.  I made an addendum.

I Exchanged Two Blog Posts for Store Credit

By the way, I had to delete two of my recent posts related to popular quizzes and advertisements on a popular social networking site (FB) because of the large volume of random people landing on my blog while Googling said quizzes and advertisements.  I don't mind new readers (I love them!), but only when they're Google search key words are "awesome funny humor blog."

Friday, February 27, 2009

I've Been Writing So Much My Deltoids Hurt

Dear Readers,

As much as I enjoy posting every day, I need to relieve some of the pressure that I'm putting on myself.  I also think that I have drifted too far from my desire to use this as an outlet for creative writing.  I still want to share the humor that I find in everyday life, but I also want to improve the quality (versus quantity) of my writing.

I may occasionally post short posts intended to evoke at least a smile, but I intend to concentrate more on my writing style and delivery.  You might not know this about me, but I aspire to submit some more polished pieces for publication someday.  The publication might be obscure, but it is still a goal of mine.  I also aspire to improve my writing skills enough to perhaps write a book, if even self-published.  

I also need to use some of my evenings to catch up on many other things, including sleep.  In trying to write every night, I've been ignoring this last detail.

Therefore, I will still be writing a lot....just not everyday.  My biggest fear while considering this is that my readers will stop visiting.  Comments will taper off and non-commenting lurkers will lurk elsewhere.  So with this proposed change in my routine comes a request to stay tuned and continue to read and give feedback on the content and the writing itself.  I'm really enjoying it.

Now go back to whatever you were doing.  If you weren't doing anything, please read some of my old posts.  You'll smile at the least. I promise. 

(2/28/09 UPDATE : It's been almost 24 hours since I wrote this and I was feeling conflicted all day!  I may not be quite ready to taper off so quickly.  Therefore, I hereby state my good intentions to continue writing every day possible.  This is still a helpful distinction for me, because it takes the pressure off a lot.  Thanks again for reading...)


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Where No Coins Have Gone Before

If you are looking for some quick cash, here's a tip.  There's a trade-in Subaru Outback at a nearby dealership with an estimated $40-$50 in coins in the car.  The car is currently destined for an auction, where it will most likely be bought by a third world country to move drugs, weapons, and Bin Laden through the mountains (nobody will ever suspect an Outback with Boston tags).  Therefore, it's probably unlocked.

The coins will be between the seats, under the floor mats, in the trunk, in the side pockets, in the slot where the cup holder once was, in the glove box, and in the ashtray.  There's a lot of other objects remaining, but none with much value.  Old stickers, crackers, straws, rotting grapes, muffin bits, clipped nails, beach sand, rock salt, and used bandaids are also available.

I would have recovered these coins, but while removing all of my valuable junk from the vehicle (Tadh's last wish) I noticed that they were covered with dried coffee, cheerio bits, and other biohazardous materials.  Therefore, the cash is all yours.  But, you'll have to be quick.  I got such a good deal on my new car that the sales guy might have had to hunt down his commission. And dinner.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Bad Hair Day

As many of my readers know from a previous post or from personal interaction, I am follicly challenged.  For this reason, it is ridiculous that I actually had to go back to the barber yesterday and complain about a bad haircut.

I don't have much hair and I like to keep what I have very short.  This gives me the distinguished look that a comb-over wouldn't.  I keep it buzzed short almost always.  After a few weeks, it gets unwieldy and practically extends beyond my hairline. The horror.  So, 'long' for me is actually about 1/4 to 1/3 inch.  

Cutting my hair is normally very easy.  Every four weeks, I ask the barber or hairdresser (ridiculous to think I could ever be in the same room as one) to use the buzzers with a one and a half setting.  This is a global setting on buzzers everywhere, which makes it easy for me to get a no hassles haircut.  Although, just to know what it feels like, I have been tempted to take in a picture cut from a magazine to show them exactly how I want it.

There are a few other things.  One barber explained to me that buzzing the neck was half the haircut for guys like me.  Thanks.  I also keep short sideburns as opposed to straight across and over the ear.  

Finally, and most importantly, I ask every barber to go over my hair a few times in a few different directions.  Why?  

Because my hair is curly.

(Okay. I'll wait while you stop laughing......ok, ready to move on?)

Yes, my hair is naturally curly and pictures of me as a child would show you that I had curly golden locks of hair.  Even through high school, my hair had a wave.  You know, as in a wave goodbye to most of the hair up there.

Therefore, even now there are always a few stranded soldiers that aren't reached by the buzzers were the barber to run over it once.  Those suckers just lay down into all's clear at which point they stand straight up and taunt passers-by.

So yesterday, I went and asked for my typical haircut.  Not expecting that it would be anything but the usual results, I went home.  My wife immediately pointed out that I didn't just have a few stranded soldiers, but rather that there was an entire army standing at attention on the top of my head.  Not only that, but the barber had in one place dug a trench for the platoon.  In other words, there was a whoops spot where she shaved me straight to the scalp.  

I drove straight back to the barber shop.  As a nearly-bald guy, I felt a bit silly asking for them to fix it.  In so many words I essentially said, "Hi. I realize that I'm bald, but you need to fix my hair."  I explained what was wrong and the buzzers were out again.  She mowed down most of the long ones and even got out the scissors (hadn't seen those in ages!) and ambushed some of the undercover agents.

As I drove home, I realized that the redo made a huge difference.  I'm also pretty sure that nobody, besides my wife and I, would even notice.  But I decided that I didn't care.  If I'm going to be nearly-bald, I want to look good doing it.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Baby Monkey Doll Is My Really Crazy Obsession


Welcome to my blog.  You have landed here because you typed one of the following statements into Google:
a) "baby monkey doll is my really crazy obsession"
b) "my life is not worth living. i can only go on if they were to start making baby monkey dolls"
c) "i'm a mentally ill woman with octuplets and six other children looking to expand family with lifelike primate dolls"

In reality, this is what you are looking for:

In case you can't read the fine print, it says: 
"This baby orangutan is not a toy; she is a fine collectible to be enjoyed by adult collectors."

Therefore, I am posting this with the hopes that you will answer a few questions that I truly want to know the answers to.

1.  Did you read the above statement and not realize that it says she instead of it?  Why not?
2.  Did you read the above statement and feel all warm and gooey inside when you saw the word enjoyed? Why and have you talked to any professionals about this?
3.  Why is this a collectible and not a toy?  Let's do the official meltdown test by telling my kids the same thing and see what happens. k?
4.  Do you really think that your family will preserve your "collectibles" when you are gone? Before you answer, let's recap: It's a monkey doll.  
5.  Honestly, did you really spend time trying to find one of these things online?  If your answer is yes, call your internet service provider and ask for your money back.  If your answer is no, how in the world did you end up here anyway?
6.  What is this really a replacement for?  Missing someone, are we?
7.  Have you hugged a baby monkey doll lately? Of course you haven't. That's why you're here.

I look forward to your answers.  Thanks for visiting.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Waking Up In A Womb

Every morning, I wake up in a womb.  Or at least it sounds like it.

Like many parents, we experienced the typical long nights associated with babies as prescribed by the parenting handbooks.  However, our son took much longer to sleep more over time as prescribed by the infant handbooks.  He was quite fussy and was eventually diagnosed with silent reflux.  When he was first diagnosed with silent reflux, I thought this referred to the type of reflux the doctor was silent about the first dozen times we talked to him about it.  In the end, the silent refers to the absence vomiting which is typically not silent.

But, by the time he was diagnosed we were all in a pattern that seemed impossible to break. For awhile, we bounced his mattress with our hand while shushing.  The shush went something like this: "Shhhhh-sh-sh-sh-sh-Shhhhhh.  Shhhhh-sh-sh-sh-sh-Shhhhhh...."  This worked great except that the transition from shush to no shush had to be done with great skill perfected over many nights.  

After talking to other sleep-deprived parents and former sleep-deprived parents, we learned that white noise calms babies.  One friend (an Inner Humorist reader) suggested that a hair dryer might work.  In that moment, we got a hair dryer and proved this theory correct.  Unfortunately, we couldn't leave a hairdryer on all night.  So, naturally I went online to find a CD of hair dryer noise.  And I found one.  

When the CD arrived, we couldn't wait for the non-sleeping hours to come.  That evening, we put the CD in and it worked like a charm.  That is, it worked like a charm until it faded out.  Even on replay, the fade out and back in was enough to wake my son up.  The silence in those 10 seconds must have been horrible for him given the way he cried.  For a couple weeks, we would run into his room and try to skip the fade out ending so as to reduce the quiet time (if you can imagine that).  Eventually, we learned to let him "cry it out" and he eventually got over it.  The hairdryer CD has since been replaced with a humidifier with a loud fan.

But, the CD only helped for awhile and we needed a new strategy.  Therefore, we incorporated a sound machine (a gift from another Inner Humorist reader) and after seagulls, wind, and clanging buoys, we discovered that the sound of the womb was my son's favorite song.  He's now 3.5 years old and the womb is still an integral part of his nighttime ritual.  We continue to use monitors in their rooms, so the sound of the womb can be heard in our room also.

The sound of the womb puts me to sleep each night and wakes me up each morning.  Although I don't know what it's like to be in a womb, despite my nine months residency in one before I was evicted, I sometimes imagine that I'm waking up in one.  I think that if I could locate that old hairdryer CD, my experience will be complete.  Except that I won't cry all night.

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Twisted Love Triangle. Sans Love.

I thought I was going to get my new car today.  When I called the credit union to see if they had received all the paperwork, the answer was negative.  The representative informed me that she had the Purchase and Sale Agreement and the RMV application, but not the insurance binder.  

I called the insurance company, who informed me that the car dealership told them that they cannot fax to them the P&S until the car has been paid for.  

The insurance company can't produce a binder until they have the P&S.

So, let's recap.  The insurance company cannot give me a loan until they have the insurance binder which the insurance company won't issue until the car dealership faxes them the P&S which can't be done until the car has been purchased with the money from the loan from the bank who has everything except the freaking binder from the damn insurance company who is waiting on the stupid car dealership to fax those forms to anyone that can produce an insurance policy on a car that I want to buy or even a car I don't want to car as long as something called a binder makes it's way to the customer "care" representative at the credit (of which she gets a little for being so patient) union so that she can issue a loan check that I can take to the dealership while flipping off the insurance company as I drive by in my old car that has a binder (and was recently paid off. twice.)  A twisted love triangle is what it is.  Except without the love.

Oh, and here's real time reporting at it's best.  I just learned that the car dealership will fax the paperwork to the insurance company, except that they don't have a required document.  They're missing the certificate of origin, which is like a birth certificate for cars except without the weight and given name (which my wife might want to change).  Now the dealership is waiting for the birth certificate from another dealer before they can fax the deets (short for details) to the insurance company who will fax back a binder to then be faxed to the bank who will give me a big check to buy the car.

Did I mention it has a sunroof?  Freaking birth certificate is keeping us apart.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Have You Been Knawing On My Garbage Can?

Dear Sirs:

a) come to my house looking for garbage.
b) smell like my neighbors' garbage.
c) throw my garbage cans and hence treating them like the garbage they contain.
d) probably drive over the cans and their lids, forward and in reverse.
e) don't smile enough.

Granted, you are a garbage collector but are you rabid?  Because, we have recently noticed that one of our cans is deteriorating by unnatural causes.  In fact, it is clear that you have been knawing on the lid handle and edges.  Does that taste good?  Settles the stomach a little after that sausage and egg bomb you probably ate for breakfast? Cleanses the palette, eh?

Well, then how dare you further disgrace our garbage can with a bright yellow warning sticker indicating that the barrel is not in good condition and thereby violating some trash collection standards.  And do I hereby run the risk of inadvertently offending you by calling that an oxy moron?

Please reconsider your accusations the next time you are can tossing at my house.  I'll also imply that perhaps it's your strategic placement of our cans in the middle of the street that has resulted in some of the damage as unsuspecting commuters drive over them.  But to suggest, as my wife did, that the partially digested green plastic lid pieces in my driveway are probably from a squirrel is absurd.  So the next time you come to our house (and you are so predictable, by the way), please just take my trash and leave peacefully.  I'm watching you.

Tyler James

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Kraft Macaroni Popsicles

Often, when feeling pressed for time, I put the kids' macaroni and cheese in the freezer to accelerate it's transition from scolding hot to toddler-safe warm.  However, sometimes the kids and I both forget that it's in there until many hours later.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I'm Sorry, But My Car Ate My Key

As you might know already from a previous post, I'm purchasing a new car.  One of the things that prompted this decision was the rapid deterioration of my Subaru.  It's fixable, but we decided to put the money into a new car instead of sinking it into the old one.  

I mentioned the deterioration, which can be binned into three categories listed below in order of severity (highest to lowest).

1) Broken cupholder.  First of all, Subaru once had the brilliant idea to put the cupholder precariously positioned in front of the temperature control buttons and air ducts and over the radio.  Surprisingly, the radio has survived however the climate control has taken a java beating.  The buttons stick and I once had cold air conditioning blowing on my feet during my whole ride into work one December morning.  As if this wasn't bad enough, the whole cupholder unit would come out of the dashboard if it wasn't handled carefully.  Eventually, I took the whole thing out and found more creative ways to prop up my morning coffee.  I did learn quickly that one's winter hat is a great thing to use in a makeshift coffee holder device. Until there's spillage.

2) Something about oil leaking from unreachable parts of the bottom of the car.

3) A noise from the front left axle that has evolved over the last few months.  It started quietly and innocently, like a brush on canvas.  It has since become a sound that my wife describes as "an airplane landing on top of the car."  This noise is pretty bad and I'm convinced that it's dangerous.  I haven't seen flames yet, but I occasionally smell burning metal.

It is this last issue that has me most concerned about using the car as a trade-in for my new one.  How can I get the most value for the car, yet leave the dealership before they drive the car?  Even prior to that, how do I get the car onto the lot without a salesperson hearing me land.  Do I confess or play dumb?  Regardless, it's been on my mind a lot lately.  Which is why I couldn't help but laugh this morning.

Today, I got a call that my car will arrive tomorrow.  Just as I finished listening to my voicemail from the dealership, I pulled into the parking garage at work.  Because my life can never be easy, the key got stuck in the ignition.  I couldn't get it out, no matter how hard I tried.

Just my luck.  I envisioned driving the car to the car dealership with the key stuck in the ignition.  How in the world would I make my quick getaway without mentioning the fact that the key is stuck in the car?

This evening when I got in my car, the key came loose.  It's still not clear what the issue was this morning.  I think it was a cruel trick by the used car gods.

The car only has to make it one more day.  I hope I can get out of the driveway tomorrow morning.

Monday, February 16, 2009

I've Never Seen the Children's Movie, Candyland

I've never seen the children's movie, Candyland. But, 'Gramma Nut' has to be one of the funniest character names ever.  Is this a reference to her current dementia or is it foreshadowing?  Does she walk with a candy cane and have a (peanut) brittle hip?  I don't know. I'm asking because I've never seen the flick.  And don't even get me started on 'Princess Lolly'...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Seafood Dinner for Your Sole Mate

Again, I am disappointed that I did not have a camera with me when humor presented itself to me.  Our digital camera is relatively bulky, so I must buy a smaller camera or just take the two minutes it will require to purchase online the appropriate USB cable to download pictures from my phone.  In the meantime, I will rely on words alone.

Yesterday, I went to the grocery store while the kids were napping in the early afternoon.  The front of the store was abuzz with happy love-struck shoppers buying flowers and candy at a display setup by the store designed and strategically placed so as to lure customers and their wallets straight into the vortex of Valentine's Day.

Adjacent to this pit stop of love, was a sign advertising meal ideas for the perfect Valentine's dinner.  When I upload the picture, you will see how well it was written and organized.  For now, I will share with you the exact text in no particular order.

Visit our Meat + Seafood
for great buys for the perfect

Surf + Turf

Porterhouse + T-bone steak
$4.99/ lb

Jumbo EZ Peel Shrimp
$6.99 / lb

Crab Classics
Imitation Crabmeat
But 1, Get 1

Van de Kamp's
Frozen Seafood
Buy 1, Get 1

Would anyone else have found this funny, or does my mind truly work in unique ways?  I literally stopped in my tracks and started laughing to myself when I realized the humor in this sign.  Dear reader, does this happen to you as often as it happens to me?  It's ok if the answer is 'no', because I am here to hopefully evoke a smile or laugh in the otherwise mundane things in everyday life.  If your answer is 'yes', perhaps we could start a support group. 

Ok, I'll admit that the sign as it's written is not funny at all. 

However, I couldn't help but read this and imagine the unwritten message in this advertisement.  If I were to rewrite this poster, it would involve a lot of rewording to instead make the following statements which are otherwise read between the lines (at least by this inner humorist). I couldn't help but add one item to the menu as well.

Planning the perfect

Here are a few dinner ideas
designed to send the right message
to your dinner date.
Find these items on sale
in the meat and seafood departments.

Is your relationship WELL DONE?
Then put a fork in it.
Porterhouse  + T-bone Steak

Is your lady NOT WORTH the real stuff?
Or do you think she's been faking it?
Crab Classics
Imitation Crabmeat

Want your girl to know she's COLD?
Van de Kamp's
Frozen Seafood

Want to get LUCKY tonight?
Try something suggestive.
Jumbo EZ Peel Shrimp

Found your perfect MATE?
New England Sole.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Your Love is Better Than A Paper Basketball

Clearly, it's a Valentine's Day Card.

No? Not obvious? Let me try again. 

What's wrong? Is this what you wanted?

I am very grateful that my wife took the time to buy Valentine's Day cards for our son's (3.5 years) preschool class.  Who knows what I would have come back with.  

When she returned with these, I was pretty excited and knew we had to try one out.  Two engineering degrees and fifteen minutes later, I was still trying to assemble the basket when my wife announced that she had finished making the "ball".  

Go ahead, look at the pictures again. Do not let the picture of the visual instructions fool you. It's a trap and you should know that a one-sided piece of paper only has two dimensions. Scaring up that third dimension was not easy.  

Soon after the ball was completed, the "net" was ready. L trapped the ball against the counter with her pointer finger and flicked it in a way that was reminiscent of shooting triangular paper wads through our friends' finger-made field goals as a kid.  We watched as the ball (which looked like something out of Mad Max's Thunderdome were Max a mad crafter instead) scooted across the kitchen island. (Insert nervous laughter here).

I convinced my wife that despite what amazing Valentine's cards they were, it would be too difficult for a preschooler and the teacher to try and assemble these things in class.  She got new ones with tattoos which were a big hit and didn't require a user manual or tech support hotline.

We now have quite a number of these would-be paper sporting events.  If I thought it were appropriate, I would take them to work and continue my effort to keep things light amongst the robots.  We'll see.  In the meantime, I've been spending my spare time constructing next year's Valentine's Day cards.

Friday, February 13, 2009

My Cars: The Dolt, The Freshcort, Tadh, and ???

Last month, we paid off a car loan. The Subaru Outback was the third car I ever owned.

The first car was a Dodge Colt given to me by my father while I was still in college.  He always called it "The Dolt", a word whose meaning eluded me until someone gave me the same name and I had to find a dictionary.  The Dolt was a great car that got me through a Syracuse winter and carried me and my belongings to Boston soon after graduation.  It lasted until the week before Thanksgiving of that year when it died forever.  Fortunately, it expelled it's last exhaust for eternity when I pulled into the work parking lot one morning.  Even more fortunate, is that my place of employment was uphill from a nearby junkyard.  With the help of a coworker, I got the car rolling and steered right into it's final resting place. RIP The Dolt.

On Thanksgiving break, my father (who sold cars at the time) helped me purchase a new car.  After a holiday visit with my family, I drove my new Ford Escort back to Boston.  "The Freshcort" was a great little car that took me to work, the bars, and recreational sporting events.   It was always good to me, but I worry that I did not reciprocate.  One particular incident has left me feeling especially guilty.  After a minor road rage incident, I parked the Freshcort and went into a restaurant for dinner.  Upon returning to my beloved compact car, I discovered that it's completely functional and sporty spoiler had been taken. Removed from the car.  The car could only get so fancy, so I decided to have the spoiler replaced instead of having the holes patched.

Eventually, the Freshcort lived long past it's warranty and we needed a bigger car to accommodate our growing family.  We bought a 1999 Subaru Outback.  It wasn't used, but rather pre-owned.  Apparently, there's a difference.  I was glad that my car wasn't used, but knowing that it had been owned previously did not compensate for the daily reminder that it had 45K miles on it when we bought it.  

My wife enjoys naming inanimate objects and decided that her car Margot needed to know more about the hunk (of Forest Green metal) that was parked next to her all night.  Therefore, "The 'Ru" was renamed "Tadh".  Unfortunately I cannot explain the origin of this particular name, but I can confirm that the 'h' is not silent and is rather emphasized.  In other words, the name of the car is to be pronounced like TAD-HUH.

December was the last month of a six year loan.  We received the last bill for Tadh and paid it in full.  In January, we received a new bill for $0.55.  It must have cost more than that to send us the bill, not to mention what we spent to send them the check.  The postage alone, between the bill and the check, is $0.84.  In fact, someone at the loan servicing company should have simply placed a couple stamps right on the bill and rerouted it internally to the appropriate people.  Or even better, someone could have run out to their car during a smoke break and looked under their floor mats for some coins.  

I was going to call and dispute the bill, but decided that my time was worth more than $0.55 (truly a new revelation).  So, we wrote the check for the bill for $0.55 that came a month after we paid off our large six-year car loan.
What made me laugh even harder was the note about loan consolidation on the bill.  
Let's review.  'Overboard' is sending someone a bill for 11 nickels.  And although we have a number of loans, we only have trouble keeping track of the ones we've already paid off but for which we continue to receive bills.  I was tempted. I was very tempted to call them before I mailed the check to ask them to consolidate this loan with the one I will take out to pay some dead rich African guy's assistant to ensure timely execution of my recently discovered inheritance.  And when I receive the bill for this new loan, I would pay it back with coupons for diapers.  They'll need them given that they're full of.... well, let's just leave it at that.

Coincidentally, I'm buying a new car this week.  What in the world should I name it?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

2009 Tyler Stimulus Plan

Today, I would prefer to talk about something much more serious.  The state of the economy is a huge concern for all of us.  Thankfully, the Economic Stimulus plan was finally approved by the Senate.  Besides some of the concessions made by both parties, there was one particular amendment to the original proposal that provided the justification to send this to the House of Representatives.  I realize that the stimulus plan will have an impact on all of us, but I would like to take the opportunity to share my own personal victory illustrated in the recent update to the proposal's table of contents.  Changes are reflected in bold blue font below. 

The table of contents for this Act is as follows:

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What Have I Done With My Life?

Oh, there it is. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Distractinator Misses His Ladybug

Today's post will be brief but as promised, I will share a few things that I found humorous today.

I have been given nicknames before, but this week I have been given a new moniker to add to the growing list.  One faithful reader (despite her excuses today), has been calling me the Distractinator.  Apparently, this is fitting however I personally have yet to see it's relevance.  Perhaps my scatter brain comments and tendency to lower productivity with useless conversation has earned me the new title.  Good thing I'm in a managerial role. Regardless, I have decided that instead of using Arnold's trademark "I'll be back" I would instead coin the new Distractinator phrase "I am still here"as I single handedly destroy progress throughout the workplace.  After all, my coworkers and I are fighting a losing battle against laboratory robots.  

I was also tickled by a couple signs I saw this morning.  I hadn't noticed them before, but the recent news of falling concrete on a road I usually travel on has been enough incentive to pay more attention.  The signs, posted at the entrance of a cars-only roadway (Storrow Drive in Boston), read as follows:
"No trucks or buses"    "Maximum Clearance 11' 0" "
Why is the second sign even necessary?  What is driving through Boston that is not a truck or bus and is more than 11 feet tall? A circus giraffe in a clown car? The Oscar Meyer Weinermobile topped with too many artificial condiments? Or any military High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle cityslicker Hummer?
Finally, I saw a ladybug crawling on our window sill this morning.  It reminded me of one of my first posts written a few years ago long before I found the courage to let you all into my brain.  It is posted in the archives, but I have also pasted it below for my newer readers that have not yet read one of my favorite posts.

LadyBug Heaven

Do ladybugs see a bright light when they meet their end? They certainly do in the moments leading up to it.

Every autumn, these red helmet insects descend upon our home and live there for a few weeks before it gets too cold. They crawl on every surface, pretending to look for an exit. But, these intruders don’t fool me. It’s clear that they are pacing, reflecting on their short lives, before they die, fall to the floor, and stick to my slippers each morning.

Apparently, the bathroom is a fun place to live for these few weeks, for many of them congregate there. Although I am uncertain of their activities in the dark, they become quite distracted when the lights go on, forgetting everything to wander towards the light. Perhaps stories of near-death experiences have led them to believe that the light represents the path to ladybug heaven? I think they are quite disappointed when they find out that the stories are wrong. In fact, they are quite angry when they realize that the bare light bulb onto which they just mindlessly crawled is clearly hotter than the sun’s surface, which they have also heard stories about. This disappointment results in displaced anger as the ladybugs then fly berserk about the room, ramming their bodies into the light bulb with great force. I can’t imagine that this is helpful, unless they desperately want the light to literally represent their ultimate destiny.

Recently, I discovered that one hearty ladybug is still boarding in our bathroom. It lives on, despite many obstacles: reckless flying, extreme heat, natural death, and hairspray. The bug spends most of her time on the window, keeping her feet cool. But, occasionally when the boredom is even too much for this bug to handle, she indulges in her favorite pastime on the vanity lights.

In light of my obvious affection for these annual visitors, one might be surprised to know that I have a tremendous bug phobia. Actually, I am most effected by the bugs that I imagine are climbing up my back or landing on my head. I cannot walk in the woods without swatting imaginary bugs that climb up my back and land on my head. My flailing arms are more justified, and result in less laughter from family members, when I can see the bug landing on me.

I come closest to my own death when my early morning companion attempted again to accomplish the impossible landing while I was shaving. This morning ritual became nearly fatal when she landed on my forehead while in mid-trajectory towards the vanity. Her timing, however, was quite unfortunate for me as my bug-swatting hand was wielding a razor. The gash on my face was a week long reminder of my persistent housemate.

She still lives with me. She is old now and her friends have all passed. In the past few days, she couldn’t even bring herself to fly. I have wondered if our early morning light ritual is now a sad reminder to her. Therefore, I shave in the dark so as not to be the source of any ladybug disappointment.

I imagine that my friend will leave this earth soon. In the meantime, I wonder if there is a lesson to be learned. Perhaps we should all follow our instincts, set a goal, and be relentless in achieving that goal. That is, unless we reach our goal and burn our feet, in which case we should leave immediately and try again tomorrow.

Monday, February 9, 2009

All In A Day's Bark

I have many million dollar ideas, but there is one in particular that I would like to share.  

Puppy rentals are not a new concept.  However, I will tell my potential investors that an appropriately structured building will take this idea to the next level.  It will also take it to the bank.  Granted, this audience would already be at the bank and therefore the true impact of this phrase might elude them.  A storyboard showing their bank overflowing with my loan interest might grab them instead.

A stand-alone building with store fronts on completely opposite sides will be the key to my success.  On one side, I will open a puppy rental store.  On the completely opposite side of the building, I will open a puppy daycare.  The clientele for each business will be mutually exclusive and will by definition never need the services of both businesses.  Do you see where I'm going here? Let me explain further.

The two store fronts would have completely separate parking, entrances, and sidewalk bowls for canine drinking water.  With the help of some landscaping, the clients of each business will never know that the other exists.  

Another key feature enabling my inevitable fortune will be the puppy prep room strategically located in the heart of the building and situated between the two business.  

Early in the morning, puppy owners will drop their pooches off with a kiss and a lick and be on their way.  My efficient staff of "puppy preppers" will escort the dogs to the prep room where they will be fed, cleaned, and played with until their day starts.  I could even setup a puppy cam, thereby lowering productivity even further at my work. Customers will arrive no sooner than when the rental business opens an hour later.  They can rent the puppies by the hour or at a more cost-effective full day.  By design, the puppy rental business will close an hour earlier than the daycare.  This provides the prep team enough time to make the final transition before the dog owners return.

Puppy renters will have a broad selection of happy dogs.  The more successful the puppy daycare is, the more successful the puppy rental will be.  

Now, this will require some coordination and risk management.  The rentals will have to occur well within the daycare time frame.  Forget coordination and risk management; this will require a huge leap of faith and an enormous amount of luck. 

My proposal falls apart were you to ask me about unexpected pick-ups by pet owners.  However, pet rental contracts can have return-immediately-and-without-questions clause in which a recall can be made without warning.  

I will provide cameras to the pet renters so that they and the owners can both receive wonderful pictures of their dogs at a variety of scenic locations throughout the city.  Occasionally, the dog owners will see their pet posing with "one of the company's dog walkers".  They might begin to wonder why the walker job has such high turnover, but this will simply require more risk management. I'm not sure what that means in this case, but I'm optimistic that I will figure it out by then.

This is surely going to be a success.  It just occurred to me that one name with a dual meaning will work for both businesses: Puppy Depot.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Tics Don't Mix (with radioactive materials)

During a conversation this evening, I was reminded of a lesson that I once learned.  It is imperative that I share this with my readers.  This is very important, so please read carefully.

One should never work in a radiation laboratory with someone who has an uncontrollable tic.

In my first job out of college, I was trained in a radioactive research laboratory by an individual who had a terrible tic.  His tic was characterized by sudden and repeated moving of the arm behind his head. Rapidly up and down, from low behind his neck to above his head as far as he could reach.

Tics themselves are not funny.  However, the simple fact that someone who had a tic was hired to work in a radiation lab is worth discussing.  How did he land the job? Really?  

Alright, so management either didn't know or was avoiding a discrimination lawsuit.  Was there some awareness of the associated risks?  Without knowing what type of work he did before, I speculate that his references must have been glowing even prior to the radioactive work.

"He was a great member of the bomb squad and has the scars to prove it.  We never hesitated to call on him to diffuse the most complicated bombs."

"He was an excellent mural painter.  His abstract expressionist pieces left us speechless."

"How well did he perform surgery? Not well, but his bedside manner is excellent."

I am now starting to understand why I got the job.  I was the kid right out of college they could throw into the radioactive lab with a man who had a tic.  I can imagine the managers discussing my fate. 

"Let that new Tyler kid work in the rad lab and give 'Hot Joe' a break from working with the tic guy. He's been in there for years."

What else was I going to do?  I wanted experience, needed cash, and had fallen asleep during the Radiation Safety Training video.

On my first day in the lab, I was terrified. While showing me how to apply "hot" liquids to a bag containing DNA-labeled membranes, I was introduced to the tic for the first time.  It surprised me as it came out of nowhere.  Fortunately, there wasn't any radioactive liquid on his hands with which to spray the walls and ceiling whilst unintentionally reliving his mural painting days.

To this day, there is a horrible tale told in the dark corners of research laboratories everywhere.  Although it didn't involve me directly, I counted my blessings and knew that my days were numbered.  Another rookie labmate was working in the lab with our trainer when his tic suddenly appeared while demonstrating a laboratory technique.  Unfortunately in the same moment, the DNA-labeled membranes he was working with folded over themselves when they were meant to stay flat.  He freaked out and started thrashing about as he tried to straighten them without gloves on.  In the end, the worst exposure was to his hands which he scrubbed immediately.  Fortunately, this story could have gone several different ways and it is the potential worst case scenarios that caused us the greatest concern.  

I am also happy to report that I was never exposed to unsafe levels of radiation.  My exposure to the tic were also limited.  However, I still cannot forget the humor that is a radiation laboratory whose primary technician has an uncontrollable tic.  Coincidentally, management knew that my tic was controllable.  I needed the job and swearing at the guy wasn't going to get me anywhere in my career.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Was Noah Obsessed with BOGO* Sales?

....or was he just really good at cutting "twofer" coupons for wild animals?

*BOGO stands for Buy One Get One.  Applies to the animal kingdom too.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Yuppie Gangsta Lean

I am one of the many Americans most likely to be ticketed.  Why?  Because I drive a station wagon.  More specifically, I drive a Subaru Outback which has been deemed one of the most ticketed cars.  In the article, they make the following statement:

"Subarus have a reputation of being yuppie grocery getters, but the Outback manages to prove that stereotype wrong by being one of the top ten most ticketed cars. Apparently, the Outback is the car of choice for people who need to get to Whole Foods in a hurry, and maybe park illegally once they're there."

I take offense to this.  I am not a yuppie grocery getter.  I have the house manager do that.  Just kidding.  This yuppie totally gets groceries.  I will also add that if I were going to Whole Foods, I would be in a hurry because their white pizza from the deli is OMG to die for.  However, I wouldn't park illegally. Why bother when there's plenty of parking to borrow from a fire truck that's never there?

This article made me laugh, because I find it to be quite inaccurate.  Besides the points made above, I can't get ticketed.  I drive fast on the highway, but I'm smart about it and have a clean driving record.  And I don't think that while driving down my suburban town roads, a cop is going to pull over this middle-aged soccer dad.  Perhaps I should stop slumping in the seat doing the gangsta lean out the window, but even this hasn't gotten me into any trouble with anyone except my horrified wife.

I would like to note that on the list of cars least ticketed is a Jaguar XJ.  Again, I dare to prove the survey's inaccuracies.  If I were to be driving any kind of Jaguar down the road, it would be clear to everyone that I had stolen the car and they would be correct.  And as with the Outback, even the gangsta lean is not going to help this yuppie grocery getter.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

James Bond had Q. I have QT.

Last night, I was working on a document outlining our team's goals for 2009.  The template I was using has one column for the goals and another for the Quarter (of the calendar year) in which it will be completed.

My wife started looking over my shoulder at the document, whose column headers were no longer visible.  

Quite simply she said, "Who is Q1? Is that you?"

When I smiled, she knew another L-ism had occurred.  She explained that she thought that the individuals from my four-member team were each represented by a different Q# and assigned to a goal.

This made me smile and laugh, so I agreed with her and offered to give her a Q-name of her own: QT.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

School Drinking Water Causes Strange Duct Tape Fetish?

School Drinking Water Causes Strange Duct Tape Fetish?
(Selective reading (and photo editing) can result in humor.  At least in my own world.)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

My Right is Your Coffee Pot's Left

My wife says the cutest things.  Her use of the phrase "Snuggling the Rim" instead of "Hugging the Curve" while speeding along an exit ramp once has made me smile every time I think of it.

With her permission, I will be starting a non-consecutive series of posts dedicated to L-speak.  While waiting for said permission, I will risk an uncomfortable 24 hours (or more) by sharing the latest L-ism.

In our house, we make two pots of coffee; one flavored for her, one non-flavored for me.  Until I went away for a week, we had a robust and simple protocol.  Mine was on the right, while hers was on the left.  Apparently, this changed so that she could use the newer pot on the right during my absence.  This has led to some confusion since my return.  Yesterday, I drank flavored coffee by accident.  She also drank flavored coffee, but not by accident.  The ratio of non-flavored to flavored java had reached an uncomfortable level.

My short-term memory is so poor that, by the time I was ready to leave for work, I had already forgotten that the coffee maker on the right was flavored despite the earlier mishap.  I poured some into a travel mug and dumped the rest down the sink drain before tasting it.  When my wife went to pour her cup for the road, she realized my error and pointed it out.  At which point, she promptly dumped the non-flavored coffee down the sink drain. 

Unfortunately, I had already made mine sweet enough to make both L and my dentist cringe. We were both left without our precious last cup.  And everything counts. It was truly a lose-lose situation.

This morning, we were both cautious around the coffee counter.  I even considered setting the alarm to get up early to make big signs and color code the machines.  Instead, we decided that we simply needed more communication.  

"Which one is mine?" she asked.

"The one on the right," I replied.

"Which right? Your right?"

Since her right and mine were the same, it was clear that we were not alone.  I hadn't realized that while I was away, the coffee pots had taken on a life of their own.  They apparently now have their own unique perspective from which relative locations could be referenced.  This might be extremely useful for everyone were L's coffee pot to give mine some directions.  To me.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Your Frustration Is Brought To You By....

Last week, I attended a conference about laboratory robotics.  It's the largest and most popular conference for laboratory robotics vendors, manufacturers, and end-users.  I was very fortunate to have been invited to give a presentation and wouldn't have missed my chance to screw up a perfectly good program.  In the end, my talk was very successful.

While at the conference center, I noticed that everything was sponsored.  The conference had platinum, gold, silver, and Tupperware level sponsors.  The keynote speech was sponsored, as was the plenary speech and the cleaning staff team meeting.  The lunches, happy hours, and bathroom breaks were sponsored.  The napkins, cups, and an unfortunate spill by a caterer were all sponsored.  There were banners, signs, and enthusiastic event planners announcing these sponsorships.  

When I arrived on the first day, I was given a bag that was provided by one vendor and stuffed like a pillowcase on Halloween with random junk from other vendors.  I received pens, paper pads, and hand gel from various companies.  The hand gel was a nice gesture, probably offered by the microbial testing folks.  

When I arrived at the hotel at the start of the conference, I wasn't in my room for more than 10 minutes when room service stopped by.  I was hoping for an Edible Arrangement from hotel management in exchange for my room behind an elevator, but instead was given a piece of labware that holds biological samples.  From a platinum sponsor, of course.  Just in case?  The vendors and hotel management must have gotten together and made a decision.  These people are such geeks that they will want to experiment with plastic sample labware in their hotel rooms.  Let's give them each one to avoid any late night attempts to break into the conference hall to satisfy a craving.

A quick glance at my hotel keycard revealed that 
they had also been sponsored by a company.  I don't usually look at the cards that closely, but my card repeatedly failed to open my door.  I made a total of four trips to the front desk to reset my card before I realized that I must have been demagnetizing it with my magnetic money clip.  On my last trip back to my room, I noticed the company's sales pitch on the top of the card: "No More Frustration".  
Had I noticed it during my first few unsuccessful attempts to enter my room, I probably would have chucked it out the window into the platinum-sponsored pool area.  Instead, I thought that it was a rather timely discovery.

I forgot about the card until I got home.  After a week away, I was pretty busy catching up on laundry.  I found the card this morning in the washer.  Ironically, the company advertisement was for an instrument with a coincidental name: Washer.  Apparently, I did exactly what the sponsors wanted me to do and I brought the conference home with me.  

Sunday, February 1, 2009


Time is short today, so I will share the following item I found on another humor blog. It's intended to look like one of those motivational posters. I laughed everytime I thought of it this week:

photo credit: