Friday, May 29, 2009

Fact-Finding Friday

I miss doing research.

THERE, I said it.

So today, my friends, is Fact-Finding Friday: Send me anything you want me to know about, and I will have a post dedicated to it next week. Really! I'll do the research for you! It's quite the win-win, if you ask me.

And you can ask me about anything - tell me about Egyptian mummies, why does a rainbow appear when it's raining, what is the history of the infield fly rule, where does the saying "raining cats and dogs" came from, when is the next shark week, what is the circle of 5ths, why do other languages have gendered words, what celebrities share my birthday, how do I make a cake, what kind of hybrid car should I buy -- anything you want!

Just comment to let me know what you want to know -- complete this sentence: "Hey Pam, I want to know more about--"

Thursday, May 28, 2009

This whole morning was a poop dance

This morning started badly. It wasn't anything catastrophic. I mean, I didn't have jury duty or anything, but it was still pretty bad. In fact, this whole morning was a poop dance. Let me explain...

Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and every other Sundays are my days to take the dogs out in the morning. Yesterday was my day, being a Wednesday and all, but I had to get up so early for jury duty that the dogs were not ready to get up yet. Emma especially just looked at me like, "what, are you nuts?!" and went back to sleep. So Jess took them out at their usual 8:15am (they're so regular, they put things like Activia to shame), while I was already 15 minutes into my waiting period in the cattle room at the courthouse. So long story short, today became my day instead of yesterday.

Old Man Sparki started shuffling around at probably 7am this morning, and I wanted to throw my pillow at him. The only thing that stopped me was that I knew I wouldn't reach, and then I would be out of a pillow to boot. I could hear his tags jingling around as he got a few drinks of water and walked over to the gate to our bedroom just to stare at me. I could hear his thoughts projecting and boring into my soul, "get up and take me out! I have an old man bladder and have to pee real bad!" But it was way too early, so I told him to go back to sleep. Miraculously, he did. This was the last favor my dogs did for me this morning.

Emma started singing to me around 8:30, so I got up and we all went outside. I figured it was a little later than they usually get up, so it should be quick. I didn't bother to take my retainers out, change my candy cane pajama pants, or even put a hat on; I just put on my shoes and coat, leashed 'em up, and off we went.

As it turns out, that extra 15 minutes did make a difference; just not the one I had expected. There is a daycare 2 houses down from our apartment and 8:30 is apparently THE busiest time for kid drop-off. In addition, it's also apparently when all the big dogs in the neighborhood go out for their morning walks. As we were crossing the street, I saw the disaster unfold: Emma is afraid of little kids and sometimes barks at them when they move quickly. Sparki is afraid of and aggressive towards other dogs and hoarsely barks and lunges at them as soon as he can see them. This was going to be challenging.

I tried to pull them close to me before they started stiffening up and barking in that sudden, explosive, "I'm a crazy terrier" kind of way, but to no avail. Some poor kid was running across the crosswalk towards us with his mom, and I think Emma made him probably shit his pants when she barked at him. I got her to calm down as the mother ushered her crying son to the other side of the street. As we crossed the street, Emma was playing with Sparki and biting at his ears. This held up traffic on our very busy road used for many a morning commute. I dragged them both across the street amidst honks.

When we finally got to the park, Sparki immediately saw the other dogs and went ballistic. We were batting 1000, and there wasn't even any "business" to speak of yet. Great. The owners of the other dogs gave me a look (did I mention I was in candy cane pajamas, an over-sized coat, and had wild, dishshevled bed head?) and, thankfully, escorted their well-behaved pups to the other side of the park. Sparki, still angry, did his business to show the other dogs who was boss.

Emma, on the other hand, is much more selective in where and how and under what conditions she will "evacuate." She circled and circled this one area for about 5 minutes, and finally peed. I figured poop was about to follow, as usual, and waited for the poop dance. Nothing. Why? Because it was windy. She doesn't like the breeze to hit her netherregions. She sat there, looking up at me stupidly, and I said "go ahead and poop!" We walked into the field a little bit, my vans and the bottoms of my candy cane pants getting quite wet. "For the love of God, just poop!" Nothing. At least now I was talking crazy to match my crazy ensemble. To add to the mess, all the while, my allergies were succeeding at pissing me off: My left eye would not stop watering (to the point where it looked like I was crying) and my nose was running so badly I was contemplating a farmer blow.

After about 25 minutes of waiting for the poop dance, I gave up and we returned to the apartment. I jiggled the handle to find that it was locked. My landlord who lives on the top floor had been out there (she was one of the ones with the dogs in the park) and returned inside before us. She must have forgotten we were out there, however, and locked us out. I rang my own doorbell as it started to rain, and waited.

Jess let me in and said "good morning" and I handed her the leashes and said "she didn't poop and it's raining and I can't get my eye to stop watering and there's snot dripping down my face - watch out!" and ran to blow my nose. I'm sure in that moment, all she could think of was "I'm so glad I'm marrying such a class act." I know I would.

So you see, this entire morning was a poop dance. I guess it can only go up from here!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Jury Duty

I received a Summons for Juror Service a while back, and called yesterday to see if I still had to attend. I dialed the number, hoping that I wouldn't have to go. Not because I would miss work or school or anything important, because I certainly had nothing to do on the date of my scheduled service. It wasn't that. It was moreso that jury duty would take away from my time doing nothing, which had become such an important part of everyday life.

But I was summoned and had to attend today. I was shocked at the news, because I had been summoned a bunch of times (at least 4) before, but had never actually had to report for jury service. The universe must understand that I'm unemployed and that it was finally my time.

So I arrived at court at 8am this morning, ready to wait it out with my book of Dorothy Parker's Complete Short Stories. My train arrived at State St. a little early, so I decided to go touristy:

Here's the courthouse (what a lovely rainy day!)and the courthouse again, only closer this time (it's celebrating it's 150 year anniversary this year!)
Oh look! A sign for jury duty (and someone in the background smiling -- listen, if you were going to photobomb my photo, please be a little more creative next time)

I walked into the courthouse and signed in and all that. After being checked off of some master list, I was handed a number on a piece of paper. "211" it said. I was given no sort of direction from my signer-in-er, and so took my number, assumed I was about to wait for my deli order of turkey and Swiss cheese, and took a seat.

Where I sat for the next 45 minutes was a very long and skinny room with chairs as far as the eye could see. I sat down on an aisle and assumed the place would fill up and someone would have to sit next to me. The place did fill up, but person by person walked by me to more crowded rows behind me. That was when I regretted not showering. Maybe they didn't want to sit next to me because I was wearing my "I want sprinkles" shirt from CakeWrecks and that just seems odd out of context? Maybe the glasses turned them off or were too nerdy? Or the Dorothy Parker book that had a cartoon woman coming out of the men's room on it? Was it my Vans? It was. Ahhh I knew it.

I kept on reading, and finally someone came to sit next to me. My humanity validated, I could then read in peace for the next ten minutes or so. Around 9am they showed an "orientation" video circa 1983 in which a judge who is probably no longer with us described the juror selection process and the weight of our civic duty. This was particularly amusing since she had the speech impediment where you can't say your Rs correctly. Ever hear someone with this particular affliction say "jury," "juror," and the like repeatedly while wearing judges robes, 70s eye glasses, and an old lady mullet? You should be so lucky. I was, and it was the time of my life.

After that was over, it was 9:15 and we were told to break (break from doing nothing? it's just like at home!) until 9:45. I went to the bathroom, and noticed the artful graffiti:

I especially enjoyed "Sup, I hate Orlando Florida" and "ALL STAR DANCE CREW."

At 9:45, I returned to my seat for a few minutes to listen to a man and woman, both about 30, conversing awkwardly. Clearly they had just met about four minutes ago, and yet I overheard the woman say "can you imagine if we started dating and got married and then we could say we met at jury duty!" I don't think the guy was that amused.

Finally, they started calling numbers, and my immediate thought was TURKEY AND CHEESE SANDWICH! No, self, you're not at the deli! I scolded. Then I realized that they were starting at number 1. I was 211. I went back to my book and waited for another half hour. So far jury duty wasn't so bad.

When I was finally called, I went into a jury pool for a medical malpractice suit. 11 out of 12 jurors had been picked, and there were five people in front of me. I figured one of them would get it, but they were all excused for some reason. I walked up to the judge, assuming I would be the 12th juror, sulking and a little nervous as I did so. As we talked, however, I realized what could get me out of this trial; a trial that was likely to last 2 weeks at the judge's best estimate. It was no "F*** the Po-lice" t-shirt, but I was going to a wedding in Georgia next Friday.

I told her. She excused me. Sweet!
I returned downstairs to the juror pool and waited to be called to another case. Dang! Foiled again!

After 65pgs of Dorothy Parker and a Baby Ruth from the break room, however, I was dismissed from jury service at 12:15 (because 3 cases were canceled). Yay!

And so, having survived jury duty, I got back on the T and headed back home.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Low-to-no-budget gift ideas?

There are a few holidays (father's day) and weddings (like 4, other than my own) and birthdays (my dad, my other unemployed friend) and such coming up. Having spent my unemployment checks on the most recent holidays (mother's day), birthdays (my mom), and other celebrations (Jess graduating from law school, a year of being engaged, etc.), I find myself trying to come up with more creative, yet still viable, options for gifts. If you can add to this list, please feel free!

Like, what if I made the gift recipient a scarf? Actually, that probably wouldn't work out. I can't knit or crochet or anything fancy like that, so whatever I made would probably come out all full of holes and hobo-looking. Also, it's 75 degrees outside and, therefore, not scarf season. Maybe I can learn how to knit or crochet in time for Christmas and the wintery birthdays.

OR, or, what if I burn them a CD? Who doesn't like new music, right? At the very least, they could use it as a coaster.

What if I create a pencil/pen holder by decoupaging a coffee can with my old business cards? Do you think people would like that? It would be kind of an artful piece, I guess, since they would use it in an entirely different company than that listed on the cards. Or it would be one of those gifts that you accept graciously and act all excited about only later to move it closer and closer to the garbage.

I'm worried for the first time in my life that I'm going to have to dip into my regift pile, which includes books I've already read, stationary I didn't want, and T-Shirts I won at raffles. I might lose some friends.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorialy Monday: Have a Tic Tac

Ah, Memory Monday: The day of the week when I reminisce about an old job.

It's Memorial Day, so I've already had a few gin & tonics, but I still wanted to post a MM today. And this MM, it comes in the form of a confession:

It was me. Yes; I was the one who threw the tic tacs into the office across the hall that used to be occupied by the office manager (who quit and left your financials in shambles). Why? Because I was bored. Because the office manager got to leave and I was still stuck there, listening to the Place Games, debating Michelle Obama's hotness, and working on translations with bad technology. Because every time you found one in there, you blamed the former office manager. Because they made a nice little clicking noise when they hit the wall.

Because you all had bad breath.

All of that, plus those fruity tic tacs are the worst. I didn't know what else to do with them.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Faklempt Friday

Way to go, Jess! You graduated law school today! I'm all faklempt -- and so proud of you!

It's probably the WORST economy to graduate into, but graduating law school is still a fantastic achievement!

Your classmates who have offers at firms had them deferred about six months, something that is unprecedented in law firm hiring culture, but I wouldn't worry.

There were massive firm layoffs in Boston fairly recently, but you might get some sort of offer soon.

Even people who are willing to work for free are having problems finding something...

Maybe you can get a job at JP Lick's
to help pay your loans? Ok, this situation and the economy both stink, but you shouldn't take it personally.

Seriously, though: Great job, and good luck on the bar!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

45 playlists and counting

I would like to add to the list of things that have thrived (don't you feel like grammatically, it should be "thriven" or something?) in this economic downfall. Yes, besides Repo men, foreclosure firms, Walmart, and frozen dinners.

So what is it? My music library in iTunes.

Yesterday, I got musically organized. I sat at my computer with headphones on and sorted all of my music. (Actually, that's only partially true: Only the right ear bud was in my ear. Yes, I held it into my ear and jammed like I was bustin out music at a dance club. The left ear bud? It just dangled off the side of my desk, leaving my left ear free to hear my phone ring if any employers called. They didn't.) The result of my organization spree: 45 playlists, all geared towards different days, times, moods, genres, and occasions. I'm not sure if this is because my love of music finally tapped into my desperate need for organization OR because I was a DJ in a former life. It really could be either, but it's probably both.

I have playlists for driving with my windows down ("Roll Down the Windows"), washing the dishes ("Washing the dishes"), karaoke songs I will one day sing at the karaoke bar down the street ("Sing: Karaoke"), music to sing in my car ("Sing"), dance music for that pants-off dance-off I plan on having at some point ("Party: Dance"), more general party music ("Party: General"), music for a fancy dinner ("Dinner: Fancy") or for an everyday dinner ("Dinner: Everyday"), music I would like to have played at our wedding (there's 5 playlists for that, including one for ceremony music, cocktail hour, dinner music, reception dance music, and special songs), music that is always good no matter what mood I'm in ("Always a good decision"-- like Sam Adams), music for different types of dances (i.e. tango, swing, salsa, foxtrot), a playlist for my audio books (Learn Italian!!!), 4 different playlists for Christmas music, work out music ("Woo haa!"), music by genre (reggae, jazz, classical...), music to make and eat enchiladas by ("Enchilada")...and the lists go on.

Are you feeling fat and sassy? I have a playlist for that. You want to throw yourself a Pity Party and cry about something? There's a playlist for that too. You want to dress up like John Philip Sousa, pretend you're in a parade and march down the street? (Need I even say it?) There is a playlist for that!

The only playlist that I feel I am missing? The "Between Jobs" playlist. What songs should I put on my jobless playlist? Any suggestions?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Famous Pams and PAMs

By now, you get it: I have a lot of time on my hands. But you also get that it's the way I spend that time that's interesting. Here's a good one: I googled myself.

Sorry, it's still funny.

Anyway, I didn't just google my full name. I googled the name "Pam." The first thing that came up verified my intelligence: The Linux-PAM (Pluggable Authentication Modules for Linux) project. Well, actually, it diminished my intelligence because I have no i-freakin-dea what that is (and this was after looking it up).

The second thing that came up was PAM Cooking Spray. This made me feel buttery and artificial, like after you eat movie popcorn, and I hurried to wash my hands.

The third thing that came up was the most famous Pam. The Pam whose name inspired instant reactions; from drooling to disgust (and sometimes drooling and then disgust). In fact, in the game of free association, when using this name as the prompt, people can arrive at fake boobs, Tommy Lee, sex tape, fake boobs, Hasselhoff, fake boobs, or Hepatitis; all with equal reason. Yes, by now you must know that the third google entry was Pam Anderson. As a fellow Pam, I must say that it's terribly sad that Pam Anderson is the most famous Pam out there. (Pam Grier was up there, but that might have been the 70s). Really, ask anyone to name a famous Pam, and they say Pam Anderson. How do you think that makes me feel? (No, it does not make me want to get some fake boobs). I would like to see more variety in Pam representation. Even just one more Pam (sans fake boobies) would do it! Come on Pams out there -- are you all unemployed and failing to realize your true potential, or what?

With that out of my system, I checked the remaining google finds on the first page of my search results and found that my name is a very popular acronym: Pluggable Authentication Modules (PAM)...again, Prediction Analysis for Microarrays (PAM), Perpetual Art Machine (PAM), Portland Art Museum (PAM), Pluggable Authentication Modules (PAM)...again...wait just a hot minute. Does that mean Pluggable Authentication Modules are really the most famous Pam, and not Pam Anderson?

That would be cool. To my knowledge, pluggable authentication modules PAMs don't have fake boobs...or do they? The "authentication" part of the name makes me think that they're 100% real, but I'm willing to admit that's a total guess. What? Sometimes it's hard to tell!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

"Look on the bright side..." winner chosen!

I've chosen a winner for my Look on the Bright Side Contest! It was a tough assignment, friends, and you all rose to the challenge.

And the winner is.....

The winning greeting card sentence:

I'm sorry to hear you're unemployed. But hey, look on the bright side... least you still have your health! Which is good since you have no insurance...

You can check out the greeting card here.
Thanks for playing, everyone!

Hey jacssap -- pick an item from the store and I'll send it to you! Send your selection and your address here:


Email Address:


Prize selection:

"Look on the bright side" Greeting Card

"Mug me" Mug

Unemployed Genius Mouse pad

"Kiss me! I'm unemployed!" Fitted T-Shirt

create web form

Monday, May 18, 2009

Memory Monday: Sean Connery

Ah, Memory Monday: The day of the week when I reminisce about an old job.

When I started my last job, I expected a password-resetting party to occur before I started using my predecessor's computer and such. Instead of going through "all that jazz," as they put it, the company decided to give me my predecessor's passwords for everything. The phone, the computer, everything. Also, they did not take the time to clear out my predecessor's computer, and the desktop, screensaver, and documents were just as she had left them.

"Ok," I thought, "This is probably going to be weird." You're probably thinking that right now, actually. And we were both right.

I turned on the computer and entered her password, written out in bubbly handwriting on a hot pink post-it: Connery**** I thought to myself, "Connery might have been her last name." It wasn't. It started to make sense when the desktop loaded and a photo of Sean Connery circa the James Bond years appeared. It made even more sense when I came back from the bathroom and found that Mr. Connery constituted 100% of the screen saver pictures. My predecessor was obsessed with Sean Connery, ok, I got it.

It got worse. At lunch, I had to look at a cardboard cut out of Sean Connery (and another of Darth Vader, but that's another story all together) as I ate my PB&Js in the break room. (As a side note, why they kept that cut out, I was never certain. Why didn't the obsessed take it with her?) And when I had to check my voice messages, what was my password? Connery****. Awesome.

Weeks into my job, I wasn't used to the Connery Craziness. I found myself wanting to answer the phone, "Your mother's a whore, Trebek." Never has a job inspired me to say such things. I was troubled, and I'm glad those days are over.

Let's dance the last dance: Last day for contest entries!

Don't forget today is the last day to enter my contest! 11:59pm, people: You have until then.

Get on it!

Click here and leave a comment to enter.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Fancy Friday

Being unemployed, I have stretched out the space between my haircuts to an unreasonable length. I still refuse to cut my own hair, so this is the best way I can think of to save money in this arena (even if I do end up looking a little like a monkey towards the end there...). So, I got my haircut yesterday (in the middle of the day, as usual since being laid off), and I'm feeling rather fancy. I know, it's just a haircut. But I feel fancy! It could be just the haircut - I no longer look sloppy. Or maybe it's because I had to wear "leaving the house" clothes (and not pajamas or work out clothes) for the first time in a while. Or maybe it's because of what I did when I got home from my haircut yesterday (and am about to do again after I finish writing this post!)...

I ventured into the kitchen for a fancy snack, but didn't know what to make. I just knew it had to be up to my standards of fancy. My eyes rested on the dwindling fruit bowl: bananas. Naked fruit could be fancy, but I didn't want just naked fruit. I opened the fridge and found our peanut butter and whipped cream, among some un-fancy odds and ends (sour cream, salsa, basil, yogurt, sub sauce). I could spread the peanut butter on the banana, then add whipped cream! I liked this idea, but still felt that it was a commoner's snack. I needed something fancier and more dessert-ish. I looked into my pantry options and saw that we were well-stocked with oats, dried cranberries, and light bulbs. None of this sounded fancy. In addition, these things did not add to my standing list of two potentially fancy ingredients. But then I took a gander into our little bin of goodies and found some Oreos. Hmmm....

Caution: What happened next might make you smack yourself in the face and say, "Why didn't I think of that!?"

I completely peeled off one strip of the banana so that about half of it was naked. Then, I spread on some peanut butter. I put some Oreos in a plastic bag and mashed them up until they were of good topping consistency. Then I poured them onto my PB-banana and added a generous helping of whipped cream.

"I am so fancy!" I exclaimed after each delicious bite. It was a day-changer.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I wish I had a cheering section in my pocket

So I was watching the NBA finals the other night and I thought to myself: There are millions of people, myself included, cheering because a guy nicknamed "Big Baby" made a shot. Yes, it was amazing. But it's his job to make that shot. Wait a second...what if we all had fans to cheer us on while we did our jobs?

Think about it! You're chugging along, writing some memo or another, and a small crowd of people starts to chant your name and wave signs. When you finish, there's cheering and high-fiving and hoopla of all sorts. And you get all your stats on a card like a baseball card (wow, do they even make those anymore, and if so, does anyone really still collect them?): Number of sales, typing speed, software you're familiar with, your educational background...and a really nice picture of you on the front. Imagine the ego boost! For unemployed folk, this would mean a section of face-painted fans cheering for you as you completed your three job contacts for the week. After all, finding a job is sort of the unemployed's "job," now, isn't it? If you actually got an interview, imagine how the face-painted fans would jump up and down, like they had money on you getting a job or something. Even if you didn't get the position, they'd still win because hey, at least you beat the spread. I wish I could keep people like this in my pocket. My own miniature cheering section. *Sigh*

The only way this cheering and encouragement could go wrong is if there were people who rooted against you. Thunder sticks can be very annoying, after all, and no one needs that kind of distraction in their daily life. So, in short, I'm not saying that I necessarily want this to happen. It already sucks enough when I have to apply to three jobs every week that don't sound good at all but there's nothing else out there and I have to apply to something. To add booing and chants of "joooob-leeeeess! jooooob-leeeess!" would just make it worse. All I'm saying is, it would be interesting. You know, spice it up a little.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Deadline for entry into my contest: Monday 5/18. 11:59pm

Also, I thought I should let you know about the deadline I have imposed for my "Look on the bright side..." Contest. Don't forget to enter! You win free stuff from my store AND your entry gets slapped on a greeting card! How cool is that? You would have to be just silly NOT to enter!

Click here to enter and to find out more.
The winner will be announced on Tuesday, May 19th.

Good news for funny everywhere

I know it was over the weekend, but commenting on news late seems to be a thing of mine. Our President was quite funny at the White House Correspondent's Dinner. I feel good about that for 2 reasons:
  1. If he's funny, and he's the President of the US, then other funny people have a chance!
  2. He's funny, so I somehow feel like I can relate to him or something. It makes me feel ok about my funny. It inspires me to be funny, and not at his expense (like with the last President).
Yeah that's all for today. *Sigh* ok fine, I'll admit that I've been slacking in true unemployed style. I've become addicted to this video game I got on my WiiWare called Gyrostarr... it's fabulous and fortified with 50 levels! Gotta go! My green spaceship is calling! (See what I did there? I set you up for a joke at my expense...)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Memory Monday: Printer Error

Ah, Memory Monday: The day of the week when I reminisce about an old job.

There were plenty of non-green things about my most recent position. For instance, I was never emailed a file to review. "Oh no, reports must always be printed out," they'd say. It got to the point where when I heard the printer charge up (the thing was from 1990 and everyone in the office had a personal relationship with the printer repair guy), I knew that a report was coming my way, and that I'd have to check the data and run significance testing for it. I'm not sure where the disconnect with my coworkers occurred, because I remember telling them on many occasions that I don't mind reviewing things or reading a lot on a computer screen. But it was, apparently, a very hard habit for them to break, and large reports (we're talking 180+ PowerPoint slides, here) were still printed, all so I could review a small 15- page section.

On one occasion, my coworker emailed me. The subject line was "[CLIENT] report." I was so excited: Had she finally remembered and just sent it to me via email?

I opened the email.
No: She sent me an email requesting that I print out the report and then check the data and run significance testing for it.
But this time, at least there was a reason: She would be in the document and we couldn't have any version perversion, now could we?

So I set up the 80-pager for print, hit print, and went on to something else.

A few minutes later, while my document was about a quarter of the way done with printing, I noticed my boss make an awkward bee-line for the printer. It was so awkward that it looked like 90's power walking meets "I'm going to poop in my pants." When he arrived, he started to rifle through my stuff, picking up pages and putting them down out of order.

"Who is printing now?" he said, almost exasperated and certainly beyond a reasonable level of confusion. Maybe he was going to poop his pants?

"I am," I said, jumping out from behind my desk before he could do any more damage to the order of things. "It's a large document, so it's probably going to take a while."

"Oh..." He ran his hand over his balding head, and I thought I saw him sweat a little. What in the world was wrong with Captain Awkward Pants now?
He continued. "...because I'm printing something..."

"Oh, ok. Well, I can bring it to you when it prints out, if you want..." In my head, I added "weirdo..."

"No!" He erupted as if someone had just snuck up behind him and surprised him with a big ol' squeeze 'round the middle. He recovered quickly. "No, that's ok, thanks. I'll be back in a minute." He went to the kitchen about 2 feet away for some water. I stood by the printer unwilling to move: I wanted to see what he was printing! For some reason, I found myself thinking it was going to be some wild recipe. Like how to cook a guinea pig in goat's milk, or something.

As I waited, he kept poking his head out of the kitchen to see if I had left and/or if my document had completed printing yet. What a creeper! I thought to myself. I stood my ground.

Finally, what seemed like years later, my report was done printing and his document was getting fired up to print. I picked up the first page...

Christian Science Church Group
Bible verses.
Bible verses and activities and --

"Thanks," he said, snatching page one out of my hand, completely red in the face and ears.

I went back to my desk.
I wasn't sure if it beat the guinea pig in goat's milk recipe, but it was pretty darn close.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Female Fertility Drug Friday

Sorry to get all baseball on you, but this is one got me thinking.

Manny Ramirez, left fielder for the Dodgers, was banned 50 games for his use of a performance-enhancing drug.

And now for the million dollar question: What was the drug? Go!

Me: Yes- guy in the front.
Guy in the front: Was it some kind of 'roid?
Me: Oh no, that would be predictable. You there, in the back.
Lady in the back: Was it some kind of growth hormone? Like, for apes or something? Because some of these men are really apes...
Me: What? No! Jane Goodall? How did you get in here?

Look, I don't know why I'm having you guess - it's almost as ridiculous as having you guess what my middle name is - you'll never get it (unless you already know, which at this point you probably do -- about the drug, not my middle name). It was a female fertility drug, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), used to treat polycystic ovarian syndrome and to facilitate ovulation.

Is Manny not a Manny?

I read on. Apparently, it is also typically used by steroid users to restart their body's natural testosterone production as they come off a steroid cycle.

He says he was using it for an undisclosed medical condition, and the media frenzy continues.

The point is it's people like Manny who have ruined it for the rest of us. Manny was probably the type of kid who, because he was jumping up and down and not sitting still, spilled his chocolate ice cream all over the new beige couch. Right after his parents took the plastic off, too. After that, Manny and friends were no longer allowed to eat their ice cream on the couch and had to eat it on the floor. They tried desperately to keep it away from the family dog, but spilled it all over themselves in the process. One of them probably looked at Manny with disgust and said, "see Manny, you ruined it for the rest of us!" A fist fight broke out and everyone beat Manny up. As he walked away from his former friends, ice cream-less and with a black eye, it was the first time Manny considered using performance-enhancing drugs. It was not the last.

I don't think the rest of us, however, would trade places with Manny Ramirez. Sure, you'd have a lot of money (I mean a LOT). If you're into bad press and bad hair, you'd be in luck to be Mr. MR (still talking about Manny Ramirez here, not Mr Mister). But what wouldn't you have? Self-respect and pride, sure. The ability to say you didn't cheat, definitely. But, most importantly, your primary concern would be how to spend the money you earned by cheating and NOT what do I do with my old business cards or what can I do with these corduroy pants. You wouldn't be able to make lemons out of lemonade because you would be too busy being the lemon.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A short story I wrote for a writing contest

It's true: Unemployed people really do like trying to win contests and sweepstakes (which is why I'm mildly surprised more of you haven't entered my contest!) I entered a writing contest held by Bukowski Tavern (and sponsored by Harpoon). The rules were you had to write a short story/essay (500-750 words) with the words "pint," "pen," "Bukowski," and "Harpoon" in it. The winner's story/essay would be published in the Weekly Dig and they'd get $2500, second place $1000, and third place a set of steak knives. I kind of tuned out after $2500, my eyes glazed over a little, and I thought, "Shoot, I'll enter!" It was my first writing contest.

Shoulda coulda wouldas:
  1. Shoulda gone in with a strategy. I decided to just start writing and see where that led. I wanted to cover too much (because call me crazy, but I think something should happen in a short story...maybe I shoulda gone with an essay instead).
  2. Coulda done better, but I think I may have misjudged what the judges would really like (my story was probably a little too touchy-feely-friendshipy for them, and that's ok; it's not for everybody). I also think the finished product was my B game when I shoulda brought my A game.
  3. Woulda done better if sprinting was my distance, but I think I was born a middle distance to marathon runner. (Psst! That was a metaphor for the length of the story. I know, it was subtle.) The point is, I had a hard time writing less than 751 words. A really hard time. By the time I whittled down my story to exactly 750, I sacraficed a lot of the words and phrases that made it funny and interesting.
I know you're really excited to read my story now, since I built it up so much! So, without further ado, here it is:

The Nail

It was noon, and the bar had just opened. I ordered a pint of Harpoon IPA and waited for Bukowski.

“Hey didn’t you used to go to school here?” the bartender asked as he gave me my beer. “You and your buddy used to come here all the time…You’re Bukowski, right?!”

“Bukowski was my friend; I’m--”

“Nicky McDicky!” he interrupted, remembering. I cringed, but managed a good-natured smile.

“I go by Nicholas McRichardson now.” I was 25 years old, a Marketing Manager for a major art gallery, and pretty sure I had outgrown “Nicky McDicky.”

“Nicky!” he insisted. “It’s good to see you.” He looked at his watch. “Wait a minute, it’s noon. Are you and Bukowski in a fight?” I nodded. When Bukowski and I fought, we met at this bar at noon the next day for six and a half pints of beer. The rule was if we were still angry, our friendship was over. In all our fights over the years, including the one that started because he stole my girlfriend, we were never still angry. This time, though, I had my doubts.

Despite the economy, Bukowski had quit his job as a Zamboni Driver at the Y. I couldn’t let my old buddy down, and invited him to stay with me.

The first week or so wasn’t that bad. We celebrated our living situation by eating macaroni and cheese with ketchup and watching a marathon of bad horror movies on FX.

During week two, things got slightly worse. After washing his dishes and cleaning up his Twinkie wrappers one evening, I noticed some art hanging in his room. I was concerned for two reasons. First, the art was bad. I think he may have purchased it at the college store. Second, this was my guest room; how long was he planning on staying?

It was during his third week that things got a little hairy. I came home to a lizard having its way with my recently-laundered button-down shirts.

“You have a lizard!?” I yelled as I barged into his room, lizard in one hand, shirts and Tide pen in the other.

“Yeah, his name is Leo. Why?”

“Because he crapped all over my shirts!” I threw Leo onto his bed and frantically tried to de-stain.

“Dude, you have to lighten up. A Tide pen? Really?” he asked incredulously. I wanted to kick him in the teeth right then and there, but stormed out instead. When I gave up on removing the lizard’s shit stains later that day, I put my soiled shirts onto his bed while he was napping. I closed the door so the room could marinate in the stink.

But that wasn’t the reason why we were fighting. We were fighting because yesterday, during his fourth week of living with me, Bukowski stabbed me in the ass.

He was hammering in yet another piece of tasteless art, and I went to stop him. He questioned our friendship. I called him a dick. There was a struggle, and with my back facing him, I jumped backward with all my might to deliver a savage elbow. When I landed, it was onto the nail in his right hand. Hooray for my benefits package and tetanus shot.

It seemed like an accident, but that didn’t change the fact that I was 25 and walking with a limp that was neither charming nor stylishly intentional.

“It was an accident.” It was Bukowski. When did he get here? I looked down: I had finished six pints! Suddenly, I was concerned I had been talking out loud.

“Look, I’m sorry. I had no idea you were that mad.” I looked at him and pointed at my right butt cheek, hanging gingerly off the side of the barstool. He continued, “I mean, I knew you were mad about the ass-stabbing, but I didn’t know you thought my art was bad.”

Wait, that was his art?! I had no idea he had a softer, more artistic side. And there I was, stifling his creativity! Who was the dick now?

He continued, “I’ll take down my paintings and move out at the end of the week.” He took a long draught of beer. We had both been McDickys, and I couldn’t let him move out.

“Nah, it’s alright. The guest room is yours now anyway…but the lizard has to go!”

He brightened. “If Leo goes, so does your nerdy Tide pen. Deal?”


We ordered another pint and the bartender smiled.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


It's been a little while since I was laid off, and enough time has passed that I have developed a very serious condition: Talking To My Pet(s) Syndrome (TTMPS).

What is TTMPS? I'll tell you. TTMPS is a condition in which the affected goes beyond the normal dialogue with their pets (sit, stay, there's a good boy/girl!, no!) and starts to:

a) think they and their pet understand each other
ex. Affected: Oh Fluffy, I've just been so lonely without a job or coworkers.
(Fluffy settles in next to the Affected)
No, it's not your fault. I know I'll always have you. Say, you want to watch King of the Hill?
(Fluffy's ears perk up slightly)
Yeah you do! I know how much you love that show!

b) use their pet's "voice" to talk for them in "conversation," essentially talking to themselves
ex. Affected: Fluffy, dear, how are you feeling today?
Affected (as Fluffy in a higher pitched voice): Ok, Mom, but I'd really like a cookie!
Affected: Oh really? Do you think you deserve a cookie, Fluffy?
Affected as Fluffy: Yeah, Mom, I do! I do!
Affected: Oh alright...

c) talk using their pet's "voice" to talk to other people
ex. Affected's friend, Claire: Oh, look! I think your dog wants to play with me!
Affected: Do you want to play with Claire, Fluffy?
Affected as Fluffy: Yeah, yeah! Please play with me!
Affected: Oh I think so, Claire! Here, grab Mr. Piggy by the leg. She really likes that.
Claire gets the feeling she's at a really bad one-man puppet show, but plays with Fluffy.
Affected as Fluffy: Yeah! And I really like the way you smell, Claire!
Claire: Ok, this is awkward...

I have voices for Emma and Sparki, and have invented their personalities based on what I presume to be a fantastic understanding of their behaviors. Emma has a high-pitched voice. She can be whiny at times, but is mostly fun, assertive, and a jokester.

For Sparki, I use a voice that is Eeyore meets boy going through puberty. He is grumpy and usually annoyed with Emma and/or the world, but he's a gentleman and a team player. He's also got a soft spot for tummy time.

Ok yes, this is a problem. Does anyone know the cure for TTMPS?
Get a job, right? Man, that seems to be the answer for everything these days!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Me: Happy Cinco de Mayo!
You: Are you of Mexican descent?
Me: Why, no! I celebrate Cinco de Mayo like most Americans: as a general celebration of the culture and experiences of Americans of Mexican ancestry. But I'm not Mexican-American. Remember? We went over this in an earlier post.
You: Oh right! You're of the Unemployed Clan! That's great, but doesn't that kind of limit your Cinco de Mayo celebration? You know, funds-wise?

Listen up, fellow unemployeds: Unemployment doesn't mean you have to halt your Cinco de Mayo celebration for one. I have the perfect solution for you: chicken Taquitos and a shot of Jose. It's festive, it's cheap, and you like it. Now, let's check for the taquitos and Jose.
Taquitos in the freezer: check.
Shot of Jose: checking...

While I check, ponder this: Why the shot of Jose and not a margarita? Because the margarita wasn't even invented until 70 years after Mexico defeated France at the Battle of Puebla (you know, the reason for the holiday? Don't worry; I didn't remember that from 9th grade Spanish either). So the Mexicans who defeated the French army went out and celebrated with...? That's right: chicken taquitos and a shot of Jose. Just. Like. Me.

Ok maybe not just like me: I'm out of Jose. I think I used the last of it when I was celebrating last Filing Day. Shoot. What will I do now?
(looks around for available celebratory alcohol)
(eyes settle on sombrero and Labatt Blue)
Oh well, if they can celebrate Cinco de Mayo in St. Paul Minnesota with gusto, so can I. If I close my eyes and put on the sombrero, maybe the Labatt's will taste like Jose...nope.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Memory Monday: In-flight meal

Ah, Memory Monday: The day of the week when I reminisce about an old job.

This week, perhaps inspired by my last post (related to flying), the thought bubble above my head reveals a memory from my contracted position. Man, did I love that job! I got to work from home and the work was exactly what I wanted to do (most of the time)! But then, my contract was up. Pants. Anyway, I digress. My MM today is about the first time I had to fly to Chicago to meet my boss and the other folks I was working with for my contracted position.

It was my first time flying to Chicago, and my first time traveling for work in general. It was all so new and sexy to me that I was actually excited to create my expense report when I was back to Boston. I booked my room at the Renaissance, the company's preferred hotel, signed up for some frequent flier miles, and looked for a flight. The only available seat on flights that day (on the company's preferred airline) was in first class. I called my boss to make sure this was alright. She said it was fine. I was pumped, and bought the ticket.

I grabbed a bite to eat and left Boston around dinner time. Little did I know that a meal would be served in first class! I was excited, but then remembered my last experience with food on a plane... it was 1989 and I was 7. The "food" was rubbery, vomit-inducing, and tasted like a hospital smells. I don't even remember what it purported to be (and apparently it purported to be three things because there were three compartments for three differently-colored "foods"), but all of it sure tasted like it was more closely related to play-doh than real food. (Thought: Maybe that was why airlines ended up removing meal service from flights? ...Pondering... Oh, no: It was 'cause they're cheap.)

SO, needless to say, my stomach and digestive system began to worry. I patted them to reassure them, and an airline attendant asked me what I would like from the menu. I had no idea there was a menu! For some reason, a menu indicated to me that the food's quality must have improved since the play-doh days. He handed me the menu and I eagerly looked it over. From the 3 or 4 delicious-sounding choices, I chose the enchilada. Perhaps not the wisest decision, considering my gastrointestinal worries from a few minutes prior, but a decision I made with gusto.

The meal arrived a few minutes later. I picked up my plastic fork and took a deep breath. It actually smelled good- not like play-doh at all! Convinced, my stomach gave me the go-ahead and I took a bite. Really quite passable was my first reaction. I chewed, and it blossomed into this is pretty good! I mean, it certainly wasn't the best enchilada I'd ever had, but it was pretty good and I didn't feel like I could make little play-doh animals out of it. That's saying a lot for airline food!

Pleasantly surprised and impressed, I looked around to see if anyone else was enjoying their meal as much as I was. One guy was chewing ravenously, but perfunctorily. Another hadn't touched his meal and was passed out cold on the window. The woman next to me had had one bite and dabbed her mouth with her napkin in defeat. What was wrong with these people - this was a total win for the airline (not to mention our stomachs)! Then I realized that they were probably frequent first class travelers and this was not news to them. I turned back to my meal and quitely savored a bite of rice.

By the time the meal was over, I realized I never wanted to get to that point where I took my first class priveledges for granted. I made sure my next flight to Chicago was back in the cabin with the screaming babies and people with unidentifiable illnesses, just so that next passable Mexican meal from the menu would maintain its specialness.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Fruit Dog Friday

For some reason, I was reminded today of an EF tour I took in high school to Spain and France (I call it my Spance tour). Anyway, on the way home on the plane, I tried to sleep but wasn't very successful. Unlike the plane ride to Spance, when we were supposed to be sleeping but couldn't because we were all too excited and it was only 7pm US time, the flight home was at a normal European time. Sleeping seemed silly.

But the girl next to me didn't seem to think so, and she fell asleep around take off. During her fitful sleep, she kind of kicked around a lot, and I remember thinking that she must have been one of those kids who kicked the backs of other people's chairs in movie theaters and airplanes. I wanted to wake her "by accident," but I didn't. I just kept on sipping on my Orangina and thinking back on my trip. Actually, I'm pretty sure I wrote in a journal of some kind (note to self: must find journal and see if there is any further evidence of budding authorship).

I was probably writing something about Toledo, my favorite part of the trip, when the sleeping idiot next to me flailed herself awake. During said flail, she punched my Orangina. It sailed upward through the air in slow motion and we both just kind of looked at it, waiting to see what it would do next. It crashed onto my backpack, which, luckily, was waterproof so nothing inside was damaged. She was embarassed and wiped up the Orangina splatters. I figured everything was fine. So my bag was now orange-scented. So what?

We were walking through the airport after retrieving our baggage, when a very cute beagle approached me. On his back, he wore a little jacket that said something like "fruit and plant sniffer dog." "Oh crap," I thought to myself. Sure enough, the beagle's human counterpart "pulled me over."
Fruit Dog's Cop Counterpart: Miss, I'm sorry to stop you, but my friend here seems to think you have taken some plants out of Spance. May I search your bag?
Me: Oh, yeah, ugh sure. It's just that, I know what he smells.
FD's CC: Really?
Me: Oh yeah, it's the Orangina.
FD's CC: You have Orangina in your bag?
Me: More like on my bag...
At this point I explained. He searched the bag anyway, but surprisingly didn't find the marajuana I had taken out of Spance (I kid, I kid). We had a good chuckle about the Orangina and he sent me on my way.

Two things:
  1. I want his job.
  2. Can I train Emma and/or Sparki to be a Fruit Dog? Emma already looks like a fruit bat half the time, so we must be half way there, right?