Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I've been shot ... and barely felt a thing

I'll admit it. Every once in a great while, I Google myself.

What can I say, I like Googling myself. It's fun. Yet just now, after Googling myself, I'm a little disturbed to learn that I was apparently mistaken for a wild turkey (the animal, not the whiskey) and shot in Arizona.

I hope that I'm recovering well by now. And, can you believe it, it wasn't Dick Cheney who pulled the trigger. It was my own hunting buddy. Needless to say, I can't wait to go hunting for wild boars with him someday. Now that I think about it, his butt looks an awful lot like a pig to me.

Anyway, here's what I'm talking about http://www.krde.com/2009_04_19_archive-news.html#1668971585440535661 , as reported by http://www.knbe.com/ in April, which I discovered by simply Googling myself. And, yes, I did feel at liberty to add some editorial comments of my own.

Hunter Shot On Opening Day Of Turkey Season
4/25/2009

Brian Hedger was shot while hunting turkey on the opening day of turkey season for unit 23.

Mr. Hedger received numerous shotgun pellets to the left side of his body and face. None of the wounds were life threatening. Mr. Hedger and another hunter identified as Stephen Katich were hunting on a ridge in the area of Forest Road 109 early this morning when Mr. Katich shot what he thought was a turkey and struck Mr. Hedger on the left side of his body.

Mr. Hedger called out that he had been shot (actually, I believe the exact thing I said was, "Bleeeeeeep! Oh bleeep! They got me! I'm hit! Medic!! Medic!! Call in an air raid! Give 'em our coordinates! Oh God!") and Mr. Katich immediately went over to render aid.

Mr. Katich assisted Mr. Hedger out to his vehicle where Mr. Hedger called 911 to report what happened and started driving himself toward Payson for medical treatment. The 911 call came into the Gila County Sheriff’s Office, who asked for assistance from Coconino County to help locate the subject.

Arizona Game and Fish was also advised of what occurred and they also dispatched two officers. Mr. Hedger met with Forest Lakes Fire at the intersection of forest road 512 and Highway 260.

Gila County Deputies along with Forest Service Law Enforcement and Game and Fish arrived a few minutes after Mr. Hedger arrived at Highway 260. Mr. Hedger was transported to Payson Regional Medical Center for treatment while Deputies waited for the arrival of Mr. Katich. (Apparently no air raid was called in)

Mr. Katich was interviewed and explained what happened ("Uh, I thought he was a big turkey!") which matched what the victim said ("The moron thought I was a big turkey and shot me!").

Mr. Katich then drove to Payson to check on the condition of Mr. Hedger. The investigation is continuing and no determination has been made if charges will be filed.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Cheeto Burrito

It has been said that men are nothing but dogs with feet and opposable thumbs, and in many ways that is correct. Take eating, for instance. We guys will eat just about anything.

We do have our limits, of course. I, for example, probably wouldn't eat an eyeball. Or genitalia. Or brains. I'd also include "butt steak" on that no-eat list, but I'm pretty sure somewhere along the line I've eaten cow butt.

Maybe a pig's too. Odds are, I probably liked it.

That's got to be tough for my mom to swallow, so to speak, since she worked very hard to raise me as a vegetarian. What can I say? Once you go meat, you never ... retreat? Yet, meat isn't the only thing guys consume.

Outside of a very few select items, we'll try just about anything once.

A good example is a conversation I had with a friend, Joe, at a Fourth of July get-together recently. There was a stacked food table at this little shindig, including a carrot cake that didn't make me think I was eating carrots.

Joe and I were discussing the cake, which Tara -- who'd made it -- sometimes sells for around $20 a pop. It's a very heavy cake (and might I add, worth every penny). It was also one of the only things, aside from hot dog buns, that was soft enough for me to eat after having three teeth pulled several days before.

"I can't eat chips or anything hard or brittle," I said, when asked why I wasn't eating much.

"Speaking of chips," Joe said. "You know what I made for dinner last night? A Cheeto Burrito."

"A what?" I said.

"A Cheeto Burrito," he said. "All it is ... get this ... you take a big tortilla, right? You throw some Cheetos on there, roll it up into a burrito and wala, the Cheeto Burrito."

"Was it good?" I wondered.

"Not bad," he said. "You should try it sometime."

Of course I should. And will, once my mouth heals.

Like any good Man Creation, though, I had to know the story behind the story. How, exactly, did inspiration strike? (This coming from the guy who once made a peanut butter, pickle and mustard sandwich, and then pretended to relish every last bite in front of my mom.)

"Well, there I was in the kitchen," Joe said. "Sometimes, I'll eat tortillas all by themselves, right? I'll melt a little butter on them and heat them up and ... mmm. Good."

"Oh, me too," I said. "Those are the BEST!"

"Right, well there I was with my tortilla," he said, pretending to hold a tortilla in one of his hands, palm up. "All of a sudden, I see this bag of Cheetos. So, I look at the Cheetos. Then, I look at the tortilla. And it just hits me. Cheeto. Burrito. I had to do it, if for no other reason than the alliteration of it."

And that, my friends, is a peek under the hood at the way a guy's mind operates. Beautiful, no?

The Cheeto Burrito also got me thinking about some stuff that either I or other guys I know have concocted, then ate. My brother Curt once told me a little "secret" about doughy bread.

"This bread is the greatest kind of bread there is," he said. "What I like to do is take a piece of it and then MASH IT LIKE THIS! into a small ball. Then you roll it between your hands and you end up with ... a bread ball! Mmmm."

The scary part is that it was no "secret" to me. Also not a secret in my family? If it looks like a cookie, I'll eat it.

This was proven years ago when my brother's three boys decided to have some fun with their "Unkie B."

While home from college one weekend, I spotted a plastic jar on top of the fridge filled with what appeared to be peanut-shaped cookies.

"Try one, Unkie B, they're really good!" said Alex.

"Yeah, they're tasty," said Dan and Steve.

They handed one to me. I sniffed it. I gave it the once over. And then I chomped into it and started chewing. And chewing. And chewing. And then I needed some milk to wash down what turned out to be a doggy treat.

Looking back on it, I have to say that dogs are getting shafted. We hork down twinkies, while they're gnawing on "treats" with the consistency of tree bark. But I digress.

There was also the time in college when, after a raucous party, we had half a keg left the next morning. There was a home football game, and the way we saw it ... what better way to get ready for a morning of tailgating than to pour beer on our Wheaties?

At the time, it sounded like a grand idea. After all, the keg was sitting in a tub of ice and it was only about seven hours old.

Crunch, crunch, crunch.

Me: "Hmmm ... not bad, huh Mike?"

Crunch, crunch, crunch.

Mike: "Yeah, not bad. I guess."

Crunch, crunch, crunch.

Me: "Mike, do you think this is as horrible as I do?"

Crunch, crunch, crunch.

Mike: "Yeah, it's pretty horrible."

Obviously, not all food brainstorms result in winners like The Cheeto Burrito.

But the point is that we try. We mix and we match. We wonder what something tastes like. We satisfy our curiosity, even if it involves Tabasco sauce and, say, chocolate cake? I'm convinced this is how we ended up with peanut butter and jelly all in the same jar (which is truly disgusting).

It must be one of those primal things. And it starts from the moment we take our first breath.

The moment we pop out into the world, we're screaming for two things -- boobs and food. The lucky ones get both at the same time.

Then, we start crawling around at home. What's the first thing we do? Look for some hidden object lying on the floor, like a paperclip or a pencil eraser. Then we eat it.

As we get a little older, we start to eat boogers. And then mud pies. And it just keeps progressing this way into our "adult years," which I put into quotation marks because, really, no man ever truly becomes 100 percent adult.

There is a little "Cheeto Burrito" food explorer in all of us. If it can be slathered, spread, sliced, diced, crunched, munched or even partially digested, we will at some point make a sandwich out of it.

There is a curiosity inside each of us, whether we're in the kitchen, in the wild or in the garage. Usually, inspiration strikes when we think that nobody's looking.

"I wonder what chipmunk tastes like? Should I grill it? Fry it? If I eat it raw, like Ozzy Osbourne did with that bat, will it kill me?"

"What if I emptied a can of Cheeze Whiz on it?"

"How about if I douse it in beer, light it on fire and then dip it in batter and fry it. Awesome!"

So, we're pegged correctly. Men are nothing more than dogs who walk on two legs, but occasionally scrape our knuckles on the sidewalk. We cannot help it. It's part of our DNA.

We will always be in search of the next great food concoction, even if it results in something truly frightening. Learn to accept our flaws, ladies. We will not be stopped.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some Cheetos to purchase.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Caution: Dad on a mission

First, I'd like to apologize to the Chinese. Sort of.

In the midst of feverishly scrambling to assemble a small, pink princess bicycle in the parking lot of my daughter's pre-school recently, I might have said a few things about the Chinese that weren't exactly complimentary.

It didn't help that the tool kit I bought with the bike didn't include clamps, which would have come in handy considering the (bleeping) Chinese just had to use bolts that weren't made with any human measurement scale.

Once I figured out that the Chinese (bleepers) who assembled this pink piece of (bleep) designed the pedal bolts to tighten opposite of the "righty tighty" method, everything was fine.

That's when I realized that I may have slightly over-reacted, despite losing skin off my fingers hopelessly attempting to tighten those (bleeping) bolts with my bare freaking hands.

Thanks a lot, China!

Maybe next time I should just scrape off a few lead-based paint chips and eat them until the lead drives me stone cold crazy!

But I digress. Also, I should probably explain how I got to the point where I was frantically monkeying with a child's bike in a parking lot.

You see, Friday was "Trike-A-Thon" day at Liz's pre-school. She had been looking forward to it all week. The premise was to teach the kids about bike safety while also raising money for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.

Liz was supposed to get people to pledge a certain amount of money per lap that she completed on her tri-cycle at the school's playground course. Fair enough. Her pledge-givers (we, her family) decided to pledge a set amount, and all was good until we got to school.

Liz and I walked in together. She carried the shiny, new "Dora The Explorer" helmet and knee pads that she and my wife, Lisa, had picked up the night before. Liz was so proud. One of her classmates even commented about how "cool" her new helmet was.

And then, after my pre-requisite hug goodbye, it was off to place her tri-cycle out where her class' bikes were to be stored until 11 a.m. – the time when her class, the "Koalas," hit the open road for the exciting, thrilling "Trike-A-Thon."

It was approximately 9:45 when I got to the "Koalas" trikes, which turned out to be actual bikes, complete with training wheels and horns and pom-pon stuff sticking out of the handles.

Liz's "bike" was an actual trike, like the kind two and three-year olds use.

It was approximately 9:46 when my heart broke.

At that point, Liz had the only tri-cycle in her class. She has a form of dwarfism, and her tiny legs could barely reach the pedals of her tri-cycle until last summer, when she turned 4. She stands about 35 inches tall, which pales in comparison to her friends.

We'd never thought of getting her an actual bike, even a really small one that she might be able to handle with training wheels. So, we let her use that trike and never thought twice.

Not until Friday, that is. The thought of Liz getting out there with the other kids, and noticing that she had the only "little kid's" bike just about ripped me apart. I called Lisa. We cried.

I said, "There is a practical way to handle this and an impractical way to handle this."

The practical solution was to hope for the best and see about getting her a bike later. The impractical way was for me to rush over to Meijer's and get her a bike, then assemble it – all before that 11 a.m. deadline.

Well, if you've read this far, you know which one I picked. Soon I was on my way to the store, tailgating an old lady who I swear hit her brakes about 315 times in one three-block stretch of downtown Crown Point.

Immediately I thought about the recent U.S. News & World Report study showing where the nation's worst drivers are. They ranked Indiana in the 20s among states, but they missed this lady – who easily could have ranked 10th all by herself.

It was almost 10 a.m. when I got to the store and started looking at bikes. All of the pre-assembled jobs were too huge for Liz, even the smallest ones. Dejected, I started to leave before noticing even smaller bikes in boxes.

On the boxes were notices stating three words that have made many dads cry and pee their pants upon reading them: "Some assembly required."

Those dads weren't the son of Lee Hedger, though, who was widely known around our part of Brighton, Mich., as the real life "Mr. Goodwrench."

In a flash, I did the math in my head. It was at least 15 minutes back to the pre-school parking lot, which would give me roughly 25 minutes to assemble that (bleeper) and roll it out to Lizzy and the Koalas (which Dave Barry would think is an excellent name for a rock band).

"If I'm going to do this, I need tools!" I thought, rushing off to the tool aisle.

There, I grabbed a gray box that touted its 144 piece tool set. Would you believe that none of those pieces included pliers?

Also, they must have been Norwegian tools, because not one of those 144 pieces ended up fitting correctly on any of the (bleeping) Chinese hardware that came with the bike. Of course, I didn't find that out until I'd thrown the focker into the trunk of my car and sped off toward the school.

Wouldn't you know it? More fogies puttering along at 20 mph or less! Damn! It was pushing 80 degrees outside. Inside my air-conditioned Sebring, I started to sweat.

"You people are going to break my little girl's heart," I muttered. "Oh, but at least you know where the brake pedal is. This has to be what it's like to live in Florida."

Somehow, I pulled into the lot around 10:25 (I really shaved some time off after tailgating an elderly couple so bad they pulled over to let me pass. Sorry, little girls take precedence people).

Before you could say "communism" I had that pink metallic Chinese handiwork out of the box and nearly slapped together. Front tire? On. Seat? On and secured. Handle bars? On, tightened and straight. Pom-pon thingys? Jammed into the handles.

All was ready to go except for that blasted left pedal, which I was fighting with when my wife pulled up shortly before 11.

"If I had a (bleeping) hammer, I'd just hammer this (bleeper) in there and be done with it," I snorted. "(Bleeping) Chinese. Everything's made in China … and it's made like crap!"

"Do you want me to go see if they have a hammer or something?" Lisa said.

"Yes. Yes. That would be good. A hammer," I gasped. "See if they have a hammer. I'll pound on it until it fits! Oh, and see about some pliers!"

She and our unborn son, Chance, headed off on their mission and returned with the hammer -- which I then began to use frantically, as if our very lives depended on me getting that pedal in there. It didn't work.

"Son of a (bleep)!" I snapped. "It's not working! Piece of (bleep)! This is all the Chinese's fault, you know. This is their way of sticking it to us … by making (bleepy) pieces of (bleep) like this pink (bleeper) right here. (Bleep) you, China."

In my head, I thought about last summer's Olympics in Beijing, China. I thought about all the high-tech laser wizardy, graceful movements and other glam from the opening and closing ceremonies.

"They can do all of that crap," I thought, "but they can't make a bolt fit into a hole for (bleep)!"

I squeezed my fat little fingers around the bolt and turned -- to no avail.

"If only this stupid tool set had come with pliers," I muttered.

"Oh, do you want me to go ask them if they have some pliers?" Lisa said.

"Didn't I say to ask them for some pliers before?" I snapped, clearly on the verge of defeat by the Chinese. "Yes, go see if they have some pliers or something for this (bleeping) Chinese (bleeper)."

And then, something magical happened. Just as Lisa returned with the pliers, I turned the bolt the opposite way. It went into place with ease. I could sense those Chinese bike makers shaking their heads and laughing at me, somewhat vindicated.

I didn't care.

The pedal crisis solved, I wheeled the bike over to the race course proudly. Liz was happily pedaling her trike around the track with a huge smile on her face, looking about as cute as anything I've ever seen – a little blur of helmet and knee pads. As it turned out, other Koalas kids had trikes, too.

I didn't care. I was a man who had conquered an impossible mission, and backward Chinese engineering, to save the day. I wanted badly to stick out my chest, grunt and scratch myself -- but refrained.

Liz pedaled closer to where I'd parked her new bike, and I told her it was hers.

"That's MY bike, Dad?" she said. "Really, Dad? It's all mine?"

"Yeah, baby … it's all yours."

Thanks, China.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Something to ‘wig’ out about

There were two things that I knew about wigs when I woke up this morning.

One was that no matter how funny somebody else thinks it will be, if you're seven-years old and in church, it's not a good idea to reach up and yank the wig off your mother's head during the sermon. Everybody loses on that one, even if it is pretty funny in theory. Trust me.

Mom's head is exposed, revealing a jumble of bobby pins and ratty hair to the rest of the congregation. You get the evil eye, a finger wag and a bug-eyed scowl that foretells of some serious scolding later on at grandma's house. And everybody else just leaves church that day feeling kind of weird about witnessing it.

The other thing I knew about wigs was that it was once part of a popular catch phrase among the younger set way back when Joan Rivers could actually move her lips and before Monica Lewinsky went dress shopping at The Gap. We'd say stuff like, "Dude, if I don't get back into my house before midnight, my mom's going to totally wig out."

Or, "Why are you wigging out about this, Ma? All I did was glue my shop teacher's coffee mug to his desk. It's not like I murdered anybody."

You might also describe mom's reaction to having her wig removed in church thusly: "She completely wigged out."

Also, I lied. There were actually three things that I knew about wigs before I woke up today. I'd forgotten that my nephew, Dan, looks like a member of Spinal Tap when he wears a wig.

See what I mean?























Thanks to the Internet, though, my knowledge of wigs has taken a serious uptick -- especially in the department of wig hygiene. Evidently, there is a sizable market of wig wearers faced with a dilemma most of us would never think about: dirty wigs, filled with bacteria. Enter the Wig Purifier
http://www.wigpurifier.com/, which claims to be the world's first wig purifying device in the video on its Web site.

The ad's main selling point, aside from proving that a small human head and shoulders could fit inside of it, is a scare tactic written in all caps: "BACTERIA CAN LIVE IN YOUR HAIRPIECE FOR WEEKS."

Hear that, Donald Trump? Weeks!

I know, I know … The Donald's hair is his own and blah, blah, blah. They say that if you see Trump on a windy day, it proves it. I say it proves nothing and that he's probably got that thing glued or stapled to his dome. That or he's wearing some kind of invisible chinstrap. If it's glued or stapled, then he'll need to special order a Wig Purifier big enough to fit his whole head and ego inside comfortably.

After all, "BACTERIA CAN LIVE IN YOUR HAIRPIECE FOR WEEKS."

Just think of the potential disaster that means for wig-wearing pig farmers, what with "Swine Flu" making the rounds. Thank God for the Wig Purifier, which apparently works by using "ozone technology."

It's even made by a company called Ozone Clean, LLC. Yet, my favorite part of this rug-cleaner breakthrough device is the comments section on the Web site where I first saw it.

The first person sarcastically says: "Hey, it took me weeks to culture those bacteria!"

The next, my personal favorite, says: "I just got one, but when I opened the box, Stephen Hawking's head yelled at me to turn the lights back out."


Several posts later, another person pointed out that the Environmental Protection Agency says Ozone-generating products are harmful to the environment. They also provided a link http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/ozonegen.html.

But when has a little danger to the environment ever stopped Americans from pursuing an ingenious idea? Never. That's when.

And, so, I'm sure the Wig Purifier will make the lives of wig wearers much better. After all, with this little baby doing it's Ozone magic on their head coverings, wig enthusiasts can stop going through the old-fashioned and more tedious process of removing bacteria – which I found at http://www.wigsnhairpieces.com/.

Note my editorial comments in (parenthesis).

"Generally, a wig should be washed after 12-15 wearings. Factors such as air quality and humidity will contribute to frequency of washing, as it does with your own hair. Always keep your own hair clean when wearing your wig to reduce washing frequency (and to avoid humiliation, always make sure to staple your wig to your head if you have young children).

  • Before washing, brush straight styles gently but completely with a wire brush. Brush curly styles lightly with a vent brush or pick, keeping curls intact.
  • Add a cap of Wig Shampoo (Wig Shampoo? Seriously?) to basin of cool water. Never use hot water. (Unless you're going for the Richard Simmons look) Immerse wig, dousing it gently (making sure not to drown it), and allow to soak for 2 minutes. Rinse completely by swishing in clean, cool water (Ahhh …). Gently squeeze excess water from wig. For high luster and softness, apply hair conditioner (What, there's no wig conditioner?). Leave on 5 minutes and rinse well, in cool water. Gently squeeze out excess water.
  • On curly styles, lightly finger squeeze curls while wig is still wet. (Think of that skit from "The Kids in the Hall" I'm squishing your head! I'm squishing your head!)
  • On all styles, gently towel blot wig to remove excess wetness. Place wig on a form and allow to air dry naturally. Do NOT comb or brush a wet wig unless you are completely restyling it. (Or you are completely insane!) After wig is dry, shake out and style.
  • Always place dry wig on wig stand when not being worn. (Never place it on a German Shepherd or your Uncle Louie, while he's sleeping)
  • Human Hair Blends and 100% Human Hair wigs should be blow dried and or set to achieve a natural look. You may want Fashion Wigs to do this for you professionally. (For a steep price)
  • Even if you wash your own wig, occasional professional styling by us is important. (Because that's how we get rich off your crome dome's cover). We charge between - for this service, depending on whether your wig is synthetic, or Human Hair. (Somebody needs a copy editor at wigsnhairpieces.com)
  • If you are out of our area you can send us your wig and we will return it to you, washed, conditioned and styled. (Even though that's one of the creepiest things you could possibly imagine) Shipping charges will be added to the cost. (Because, like we said earlier, we don't do this crap for free. Do you know how long BACTERIA CAN LIVE IN YOUR HAIRPIECE? WEEKS!"

So, you see, the Wig Purifier is really a Godsend to the human race, even if it might further the destruction of our ozone layer and lead to the downfall of the entire planet via Global Warming. At least its advocates, while floating aimlessly on a raft fashioned out of styrofoam coolers and twine, will be comforted knowing their weaves are spiffy clean.


Also, I lied about the earlier lying. There were actually four things I knew about wigs before I woke up today. The fourth? Once, while visiting St. Petersburg, Fla., I walked past a store called "Wig Villa."

I found it amusing, so I took a picture of it with my cell phone. The photo has since been destroyed, but Wig Villa has not. Turns out they have a Wig Villa in Orlando, too. There's even a Wig Villa, Inc., and a Web site
http://www.wigvillaonline.com/.

I should tell my mom about that place.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A morbid stroll down ‘Memory Lane’

It was one of those calls that I probably shouldn't have answered.

The caller ID read: "Memory Lane" something or other and included a local number. I quickly thought back to when I was in high school. There was a restaurant down the road from my house called "Memory Lane" which specialized in recreating the 1950s Doo-Wop experience for its customers. People said that I should work there as a singing waiter because of my outgoing, playful personality (the flat-top haircut didn't hurt either).

So, the phone call intrigued me. Had "Memory Lane" expanded to Indiana? Had they been searching for me all these years, after being told of my untapped Doo-Wop potential?

Also, I had some calls out for stories and thought it might be a source calling me back. So, I hit the "talk" button. On the other end of the line was a friendly female voice.

"This has to be it," I thought. "She must be one of those doo-wopping waitress types, and she's calling to see if I have any interest in becoming a singing waiter."

Being out of work, I was ready to give it my best shot. I envisioned her wearing one of those poodle skirt outfits while talking to me, like they wore in "Grease."

Then I found out what this "Memory Lane" was when I began listening to what she was actually saying. The cute-sounding doo-wop girl was a telemarketer. She was trying to sell me a two-for-one deal on cemetery plots. Also, she said, they had a great deal on mausoleum crypts.

Talk about a letdown. Was this some sort of sign? Was the doo-wop girl really the Grim Reaper's assistant? Did my wife put her up to this?

"If you'd like, I could set up a meeting with one of our associates to discuss your final plans and go over burial options," she said.

I was dumbfounded. My final plans?

I wanted to tell her that my final plans included something quick and relatively painless, preferably having something to do with tequila shooters and buxom, topless supermodels. Instead, I mumbled: "No … I think we're good here. Thanks."

But I couldn't resist blurting out a question.

"You don't … you know … know something that I don't, do ya?" I said.

She giggled (maybe she really was a doo-wop singing waitress).

"No," she said. "You sound young and healthy. I'm sure you're probably fine."

If she'd known about my ongoing gall bladder problems or my BMI number or the sink hole in my front yard, maybe she wouldn't have been so sure. She continued talking.

"I'm glad you didn't let me hang up," she said. "I was going to tell you that if anything with your situation changes, be sure to give us a call."

Wait. What?

"Uh, I probably won't be the one calling you if anything changes with my 'situation,' you know?" I said. "My wife might, but probably not me."

She broke into a cackle and hung up (probably off to work a doo-wop shift somewhere). The exchange got me thinking, though. Lately I've been a bit preoccupied with death. I'd like to blame it on my wife Lisa's impassioned pleas for me to get a new life insurance policy now that I'm no longer a regular working stiff.

Alas, that's not it. Not entirely. This is just the way my warped brain works. I'm like that kid in the movie "What About Bob?"

We are all going to die. There's no way out of it. Every one of us is going to die. Someday, and we have no idea when or how, we're just going to cease existing.

I think it's the mysterious part about death that intrigues me most. How and when?

Will it be tomorrow? Will it be Cancer? Will it be 10 years from now? 15? Will it be a heart attack, like my old man? Or will I come down with pig flu and be one of the unlucky ones? (Note: if this one happens, it might help explain the dream I had the other night, in which I was being chased by a pig with a runny nose).

Or maybe it'll be much more random. Stray bullet, perhaps? Stabbed by Benjamin Linus?

The possibilities are endless, right up until the bitter end. And at that point, something tells me it's not going to put my mind at ease knowing that I got a great two-for-one special on a cemetery plot.

It's like I always tell Lisa, who also seems to have a morbid fascination with death (mine, usually): "Just cremate me, after you make absolutely sure that I'm dead, and then do what you want with the ashes. Put me in a cereal box or a coffee can, for all I care. Just, whatever you do, MAKE … SURE … THAT … I … AM … ALREADY … DEAD. OK?"

Do-wop. Do-doo Wahhupp.

(Editor's addendum: So, I decided to look up Memory Lane online and found the place at http://www.memorylanepark.com/. There, you can scroll through photos of their very classy mausuleum (for those of you who aren't as comfortable with a coffee can being your final resting place). Also, there is a letter from the director of cemetery operations citing the 2-for-1 special. You can find that here http://www.memorylanepark.com/hardTimes.pdf

Monday, May 4, 2009

Beijing = clean potties?

Date it ran: 09/25/05
Headline: SUMMER OLYMPICS MEANS BEIJING NEEDS SOME POTTY TRAINING

Today, we bring you some great news about public toilets.

Beijing, China -- site of the 2008 Summer Olympics -- is improving its public potties. All together now: "Shew! What a relief!"

Literally.

Now, those who'd like to go (to the Olympics), but were petrified of having to go (to the bathroom), can do so virtually without worry in Beijing. According to Reuters, the city's Xicheng District has for the first time in history -- predating even Kublai Khan -- installed strict public toilet regulations.

Rumor has it Khan secretly favored cleaner restrooms, too, but was afraid that putting those small pink "mints" in the urinals could be taken as a sign of weakness. Pink urinal mints, after all, are just a few small steps away from having hand-warmers and hot cocoa machines in public bathrooms. And no self-respecting Mongolian emperor worth his weight in paper towel would stand for that nonsense.

Thus, for centuries, the public commodes in Beijing made our dank, grizzled truck stop johns seem like something out of a four-page Home & Garden spread. Home & Garden Bathroom Decorating Tip No. 23: "Carving 'Clem wuz heere' on the back of the door really jazzes up your bathroom d├ęcor.

Seriously, though, the rest of the world should be thrilled about Beijing taking such a progressive step forward with its public restrooms. Now, Olympic spectators won't have to watch their steps (forward, backward or sideways) when visiting the little boys or girls room.

And just how will Beijing do it?

Well, the city has hired 400 public potty inspectors to make sure everything is up to ... uh ... sniff. "Environmental workers," is the official term for these Fantastic 400, but their dirty little job entails, quite literally, inspecting the public potties.

Thus, they are PPIs (which, spelled backward is I-P-P, and that makes me giggle).

As part of Beijing's new bathroom standards, PPIs will roam the city looking for violations of the new code -- which states that no more than two flies or two pieces of trash or waste are allowed in public toilets at any one time. Not making that up, either.

Kind of makes you wish we had PPIs here, doesn't it?

According to Reuters, Beijing vowed this would be "the largest toilet revolution" in its history.

It's expected to surpass the Tang Dynasty's Toilet Revolution of 672, wherein the Tang Army -- clad in orange and green armor -- beat back the toilets with a full-on plunger assault. Or, so I'm told.

So, we only can assume that rogue flies buzzing around Beijing's public facilities in groups of three or more now will be promptly detained and shipped to Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Anyway, I heartily applaud Beijing for this bold movement (so to speak), and I don't even plan to attend the '08 Olympics. I do, however, plan to use public restrooms in the foreseeable future.

And let me tell you, the Chinese are onto something.

America needs strict public bathroom rules, too, such as: "Flushing is a requirement, not an option."

And: "No talking to yourself -- or imaginary friends -- under any circumstances while sitting on the can. Ever."

Also, we should do away with sinks that run only hand-numbing cold or skin-peeling hot, and urinals stationed too low, too high or too close together.

I could continue, believe me. But I won't. I'm too busy jotting down notes for a possible second career -- as one of those public potty inspectors.

Track and Field, motto: "Need more mottos!"

Date it ran: 06/04/07
Headline: 'MOTTOFEST' LEFT A LOT TO BE DESIRED

BLOOMINGTON -- They sure like their mottos in track and field.

This much I've learned.

Every team seems to have one. They range from the overused (“We bust ours ... to kick yours”) to the lengthy (“Pain is weakness leaving the body. I have endured the pain. Now, I have no weakness).”

Believe it or not, that entire cheesy thing actually fits onto the back of your average T-shirt with room to spare. Why not just put a whole paragraph on there?

Something like: “My feet hurt. My back hurts. Even my pinkie toe hurts. My hamstring feels like it’s been run through my dad’s paper shredder. Sometimes, after I run the 3,200 meters, I have bodily fluids coming out of every exit point. Why do I run? Well, that’s a good question. Sometimes, I wonder myself. And you know what? I have no answer. I just have this T-shirt. And so does my whole family. Who knew they made these things in XXXXL?”

I kept hoping to see something like that at this past weekend’s IHSAA Boys and Girls Track and Field State Finals. It was a virtual Mottofest down here, and I’ve got to be honest -- most were pretty lame. The closest for originality was one that read: “It's not arrogance. We're just better than you.”

You'd better be with a shirt like that one.

Another of my favorites scored points for its brutal honesty. It read: “Running won’t kill you. You’ll pass out first.”

The guy wearing it was about 285 pounds and sweating profusely (not from running). That one made me laugh, though, because it reminded me of what a former boss used to say. I worked for a gutter company as a summer job. We’d get way up on these steep roofs, leaning out over the edge to hammer spikes into gutters.

Occasionally my boss would catch me looking at the ground, eyes glazed.

“Don't worry,” he'd say. “The fall won’t kill ya ... but the ground probably will. Ha!”

He should have put that on a T-shirt. Then my whole family could’ve had one. Which brings me to the other thing I learned about track this past weekend: the motto-wearers aren’t just the athletes.

Parents also strut around, wearing these silly slogans. I saw one guy Saturday who wore a shirt that read: “Trample the weak. Hurdle the fallen.”

This guy couldn’t have hurdled a crack in the sidewalk, let alone the “fallen.”

But I suppose it made him feel like part of the team. And who knows, maybe a shirt like that could also come in handy while Christmas shopping or waiting for Stones tickets. What scares me most, though, are the dads.

This is because I am one. And I’m afraid that some day, I will become just like them -- stomping around, chest puffed out, wearing a shirt that says: “Some people wish for it. We work for it.”

There were a couple of dads wearing that shirt Saturday, and I wondered what “work” they’d actually contributed. Maybe it was driving a van full of hyper-giddy teens through many construction hassles just to get there.

That is definitely work, not to mention a great new slogan for track dads.

Something like: “I drove my whole family four hours down here in a minivan, just to watch my daughter win a state track title ... and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.”

Hey, I'd wear it.