Bring It On, Mr. Little.

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I want to be an Internet Phenomenon.

I love the concept of the Internet Phenomenon, simply adore it. You know, something that should normally disappear and fizzle into the cloudy depths of history, only to be revived and consequently spearhead a cult following online?

It’s why I still like Mr. T and Tony Little. It taught me the definition of “stealth disco”. It allows me to purchase things that I remember from when I was a kid, like Pac-Man memorabilia and E.T. cartridges for my Atari 2600. It also allows me to wallow in some of the tiniest, most bizarre minutiae you could ever think of.

Thanks to the Internet Phenomena proving ground that is Wikipedia, I’ve been able to brush up on these things all at once. I’d like to share one of these with you, with hopefully many more to follow.

You see, I used to be a big wrestling fan when I was a kid, and I was looking around for some of my favorite wrestlers from the 80’s and early 90’s. It was then that I stumbled across one of the funniest things that I forgot existed.

If you’ve never heard the story of “The Shockmaster Incident”, you’ll laugh. If you remember when it happened, you’ll laugh harder. Enjoy with me.

The Shockmaster Incident.

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The Shockmaster incident was one of the most infamous moments in professional wrestling. In the early 90s, the Atlanta-based WCW had signed Fred Ottman (later becoming Tugboat, as well as Typhoon) from the WWF, and he was to make his debut in a match alongside three very popular WCW stars: Sting, Dustin Rhodes, and the late Davey Boy Smith. He would be their mystery partner in the upcoming eight-man tag match against Sid Vicious, Big Van Vader, and Harlem Heat.

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(Here we see the triumphant debut of the Shockmaster.)

When Sting and Smith were about to unveil their mystery partner, they did so during a live interview in front of the WCW audience together with Sid and Harlem Heat. Sting would then make his famous quote, “All I have to say is… our partner is going to shock the world because he is none other than… The Shockmaster!” The camera zoomed in on a particular section of the set where two torches set off a small pyrotechnics explosion in front of a paper wall. And The Shockmaster was supposed to make his grand entrance by crashing through that wall in his new attire, consisting of a purple helmet very much like the ones worn by the Stormtroopers in Star Wars, a pair of jeans and a long black vest.

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(Here we see the Shockmaster falling right through the Goddamn wall.)

Unfortunately for Ottman, he tripped and fell through the paper wall, with the camera getting a close up of this accident. When he hit the floor, his helmet rolled off long enough for audiences to see who it was before he managed to put it back on. Even the announcers were speechless. But, as is the rule in wrestling, the show must go on. The Shockmaster resumed his entrance as if nothing had happened, and he continued walking up to Sid and Harlem Heat.

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(Here, we see the Shockmaster scrambling to find his helmet, shaking off the crippling pain and embarrassment of falling directly onto your face.)

The interview ended with Shockmaster verbally threatening the four opponents, who at this point were clearly trying to stop themselves from laughing. He wrestled one match, and never reappeared again.

So, there you go. The Shockmaster Incident. I could do stories like this for months about wrestling alone, but that would only please myself. You really have no idea how hard I’ve been laughing for the last 20 minutes.

The Of Montreal interview & Minus the Bear review will be here on Thursday. Dress purty.

We Will Become Silhouettes.

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Here’s 5 quick things to tide you over.

1. The Missus is feeling better, slowly but surely. I took her to the zoo today, so it was nice to get her out of the house and whatnot.

2. The Of Montreal interview and Minus the Bear review have been submitted, and should hit the newsstands on Thursday. Core Weekly celebrated their 1-year Anniversary last week, so a congratulation is in order. To that guy who came on here so long ago and said it would fold in six months, well, I guess he was a little off. No hard feelings, dude. After pulling my hair out on those writings for the last three weeks, I plan on taking a much-needed few days off from hard-hitting journalism. Kevin Barnes’ favorite football team is the Cleveland Browns.

3. Starting Wednesday, LOST will be airing back-to-back episodes in preparation of the long-awaited season 2 premiere. Not only that, but the season 1 DVD comes out on the 6th.

4. Here are 5 concerts I hope to be attending in the next month:

Saturday, September 3 – Architects – Journeys – Madison
Tuesday, September 6 – Of Montreal – Club 770 – Madison
Wednesday, September 7 – The Faint – The Rave – Milwaukee
Sunday, September 25 – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! – The Annex – Madison
Thursday, September 29 – THE ARCADE FIRE – First Avenue – Minneapolis

(If you want any additional information about these shows, e-mail me at Communistdance@yahoo.com, or just look them up for your damn self.)

5. I spent this Saturday at a co-workers house, being trained in the art of home brewing. This consisted of several hours of manipulating grains, barley and hops, and drinking more beer in a single day that I ever have in my life. It was a really cool learning experience, and something I will never attempt on my own. I appreciate beer a lot more now that I know how it’s made, but I still prefer chocolate milk and girly drinks.

During one of the drinking sessions, he handed me a glass and told me to drink. I drank, and he told me to tell him what it tasted like. Just then, his wife came into the house and said, “are you making him drink that infected beer?” The good news is that I can still see, and even the infected beer wasn’t all that bad. I’ll never trust anyone again. I’ll talk more about home brewing in detail later, depending on if anyone is interested in hearing more.

We’ll talk again this week, I promise. Until then, meet me in the comments area. Let’s catch up like we used to. Like a family.

Wood Paneling Conservatory.

First, the bad news.

The Missus is hurting. She’s been suffering from one massive headache for over a week now, presumably stemming from the fact that she has me as a husband. On Monday, I spent my day off taking her to the doctor, and again on Thursday. This culminated with me taking her to the hospital for a CT scan, and being handed a large bottle of Vicodin. She’s sleeping everything off as we speak.

Things are slowly (very slowly) getting better. We plan on spending the weekend in a silent house, drawing the blinds and turning the television down to sub-audio levels. I’m also keeping close tabs on the pills, as I’d rather not have an addict on my hands. If Vicodin can take down the NFL’s only 3-time MVP (that’s Brett Favre, fool), they can sure as hell bench the Missus. She’s in a lot of pain, but I’ll make sure that she gets better. My life depends on it.

So, what this means is that I’m pretty much back in control of the house. This is a dangerous thing. The litter boxes are filling up, there’s not a scrap of food in the house and I’m watching ESPN 16 hours a day because she’s constantly asleep. I feel like a really bad house sitter. What I do correctly, however, is take care of the Missus. I make sure that she’s at the correct temperature level, that she’s never more than an arms-length from a glass of water, and administer brief-but-effective massages when necessary.

With her out of commission, I’m forced to find things to occupy my time. Luckily for me, there’s plenty of preseason football on TV, and the Simpsons Season 6 DVD is out. That being said, I’ve noticed that I spend a lot of my free time trying to avoid myself. Instead of daydreaming, I play Mario Golf on the GBA. Instead of working on several writing projects, I watch the same episodes of the same TV shows over and over again, because she’s not around to tell me that I’ve already seen it. Somewhere along the way, I think the Missus harvested my brain, and now that she’s not pulling the strings, I’ve realized that it’s gone.

Crap. I’ve got to fix her, fast.

Here’s the good news.

Come next week, yours truly will have not one, but TWO published articles on the streets. My interview with Of Montreal frontman Kevin Barnes, along with my review of Menos El Oso. I’ve been working my ass off this week, that’s for sure. When I’m not spending dozens of hours working on drafts, I’m spending 40+ hours a week at my real job, and using the remaining time to drive the Missus the hospital. This weekend will give us both what we really need. Silence and an oil change.

More good news? Well, let’s see. The Packers are playing tonight, so that’s always nice. We’ll be going to the zoo on Sunday if said wife is feeling better. I got that new jorb I was telling you about, so I’ll have a little more money to blow on Olive Garden ravioli and $11 shirts from Target.

My new job is working in the Office of Examinations here at the Department of Regulation and Licensing. Do you want to be a Doctor? Chiropractor? Engineer? Nurse? You’re going to have to go through me first, and pass the test that I’ve prepared just for you. It sounds exciting (hell, maybe it doesn’t, I don’t care), and it might be, but I’m too whacked out on Vicodin nowadays to know for sure. I just go where the kiz-ash is, yo’.

New Albums Purchased In The Last Week Or So:

The Shout Out Louds – Howl Howl Gaff Gaff
(Referred to as “the emo Strokes“. Swedish 5 piece that brings the catchy indie-pop.)

Architecture In Helsinki – In Case We Die
(The Arcade Fire + Of Montreal – a bit of talent = Pretty good stuff.)

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – S/T
(Woah.)

The Good Life – Album Of The Year
(Tim Kasher needs to be frozen and cloned for future generations of alcoholic relationship killers. He’s brilliant, and everything that Conor Oberst wished he could have been.)

I buy anything that Pitchfork tells me to.

That’s it, kids. Can you believe that neither Ben nor Sherry had anything to say about the nice wedding post I gave them? I guess I’ll have to go back the embarrassing photos again. And to think, I left out all of the really bad wedding photos, too.

Fo’ shizzle, commu-nizzle.

Raise Your Glasses.

Ben and Sherry’s wedding went off perfectly. The weather was beautiful, nobody passed out, and most importantly, they were as happy as Christmas clams. Way to go, you two. Again.

Here then, is the day in pictures.

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Finally succumbing to the insistence of his wife and mother, Ben is forced to shave off his mutton chops. John, his brother, makes sure that everything is even.

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The beautiful cake looks as if it were fashioned out of a cloud. I’d like to be a food critic.

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Here we stand on the roof of Ben’s family’s boathouse, taking in the view and braving the heavy winds. There were about 130 people there, so throwing up was not an option. I looked at the ground and tried not to lock my knees up. I kept an eye on Ben’s swaying, as it’s my duty (as Best Man) to catch him. Should the groom be unable to fulfill his husbandly duties, he is removed, all the guys take one step to the left, and the wedding continues without him. This isn’t a responsibility to scoff over.

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Here I am, escorting the Missus back down the aisle. I can only imagine what it’s like to walk on lumpy grass with heels on. Well, maybe I already know, but that’s not even close to what we’re talking about right now.

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Here’s a super-bright shot of the wedding party.

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Here’s one of the happy couple.

Once we shook 130 hands, the reception was underway. The dinner went well, and ties became loosened. One of the coolest parts of the evening for me was meeting back up with an old friend. It was incredibly effortless to slip back into conversation with someone I hadn’t seen in five years. I guess good friends are like that. Alcohol doesn’t hurt, either. It was a good experience.

I tried to maintain conversations with as many people as possible, causing me to run all over the place, and more or less abandon the Missus. She had plenty of people to talk to, but I felt bad for deserting her as the hours got later. Unfortunately for me, things started to get fuzzy at around nine o’clock.

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Now, I remember a few things for sure. I remember dancing on the boathouse with some of Ben’s relatives. I remember kissing a dog that had wandered onto the property. I remember telling each and every female friend of mine how good I thought they looked. (It was totally true, everyone was looking beautiful.) I clearly remember a conversation I had with a friend named Erin. One thing I certainly learned from her was that even though I hold little faith in myself and those around me, that doesn’t make me right. In fact, if I did let a little of that in every once in a while, I wouldn’t have to pretend to enjoy solitude. You can’t get anything past that woman, and I’m truly grateful to be surrounded by such women that will kick me in the ass when I deserve it. You are the company you keep, and in that case, I’m on the road to perfection.

I also remember this.

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Then, well…

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And I think…

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And finally…

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I slept well.

The next morning, the Bride and Groom were fast approaching Sun Prairie, as the four of us were headed to our Third Annual Sweet Corn Festival!

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We ate corn until we could eat no more. I pet a cow. It was a good time.

Today, I had my phone interview with Kevin Barnes from Of Montreal. It was nerve-wracking, but I think I pulled it off. I’ve spent a long time transcribing the interview, and my deadline for the write-up is this Sunday. Also due on Sunday is my review of Menos El Oso, the new album by Minus the Bear. More on both of those later.

In conclusion, I wanted to make sure that I looked at all of the things that went right this weekend, instead of all the things that went wrong. Sadly, when it comes to most things, the bad things tend to stick out in my head more than the good things, so sometimes good experiences sound bad through my filter of sarcasm and jaded humor. Don’t get me wrong, there have been things happening to me the last three days that should leave me with a bleeding ulcer and nightmares. That being said, they won’t go away if I dwell on them. Good memories, however, will disappear unless they are shared.

Sometimes, that’s not just necessary, it’s flat-out responsible. I’m not responsible very often, but I’d like to think that I come through in the clutch.

During the wedding dinner, people kept telling me that it was customary for the Best Man to make a brief speech and toast the couple. I was mortified, but I was all prepared to pull something out of my ass until Ben told me that he didn’t want one. Maybe he was bailing me out. Maybe he was just afraid I’d say something extremely unflattering about him. Whatever the case, I didn’t have to stand up. Keeping that in mind, here’s what I probably would have said.

I feel mostly responsible for setting up Ben and Sherry. It was my idea, after all. I knew they would be perfect for each other as soon as I saw them interact. True, they don’t look perfect for each other. Sherry is a petite, articulate woman; whereas Ben is a huge, lumbering ape. Call it fate, but these two find a way to compromise every day.

I can tell that Ben loves Sherry, because of the way he looks at her. The way that he, at the very least, pretends to listen to what she has to say. The way that he never appears the least bit shaken or angry, even when she’s being completely unreasonable and bitchy. He has the temper of a Koala bear, and will go to the ends of the earth to see to it that she’s safe and happy.

I can tell that Sherry loves Ben by the way she always needs him around. She loves to drape him over her like a fur shawl, allowing herself to burrow in and quickly fall asleep. She puts up with his bumbling forgetfulness and backwards male logic, like all women do towards all men they love. She takes what he says to heart, and forgets nothing. She wouldn’t be the same without him.

So, here’s to you two. May the second year of marriage be just as exciting and fulfilling as the first. Never fight over money, give yourselves plenty of space when necessary, and don’t fall asleep angry. The next time I let you stay at my house, bring wine.

Cheers.

Dirt Nap.

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(Here are six notable items. I’ve stockpiled them with links, just for your clicking pleasure.)

1. On Saturday, me and the Missus will be heading back home to Winneconne to participate in Ben & Sherry’s second exchange of marriage vows. My tux is looking fly and I’m building up my Raspberry Wine Cooler tolerance in advance. Always the film student, Ben plans on filming the wedding from three different angles in his parents’ backyard. I will have plenty of pictures to share. (If you click on the wedding link, you’ll be sent back in time exactly one year, and you can check out my crummy old apartment, complete with crummy old furniture. Swell.)

2. After the wedding, the four of us will return back to Sun Prairie for the tradition that is the annual Sweet Corn Festival. Ben & Sherry veto’ed a trip to Wyoming for this occasion, so I hope it doesn’t rain. There was supposed to be a parade on Main Street today to celebrate the kickoff, but there was a tornado warning. Personally, I enjoyed the tornado much more. Again, pictures will be taken, and gums will bleed. My Grandma pronounces “gums” as “gooms“. It’s pretty cool.

3. On the freelance writing front, I have three jobs in the works. First off, I’m still working out details for the big Of Montreal interview. They play in Madison on September 5, for those ‘oot of the loop. Secondly, I’m in the process of reviewing Menos El Oso, the new album by the almighty MINUS THE BEAR. And thirdish, I’ve been in contact with another Madison newspaper interested in my work. More updates as news develops. By the way, Core Weekly has updated and redesigned their page. It’s more professional now, but they still haven’t published my crap, so you can always find it here.

4. I interviewed for a higher position at work on Wednesday. If I get the jorb, I could be making about $3.50 more per hour (that’s an additonal $7,280 a year, for those keeping track). I smell a new used car! My new jorb will allow me to focus more on white-collar office life, as opposed to a life of being happily married and writing for a living.

5. Remember our trip to Mount Horeb together? Remember the Mustard Museum? The antique shoppe with the Nazi helmets? Well, 200 residents of Mount Horeb will be the stars of a new reality game show on ABC, called “My Kind of Town”. Normally I wouldn’t recommend something like this, but Mount Horeb is cool, small town Wisconsin is cool, and anything 15 minutes from my house is worth being on national television. THE SHOW AIRS THIS SUNDAY AT 8PM CENTRAL TIME!

6. A little over a year ago, I wrote a screenplay called “72 Hours“. I can’t believe you haven’t read it yet! Anyways, I put the screenplay on Helium Exchange a long time ago, and watched it as it slid down the rankings faster than your grandpa’s dress pants at a wedding reception. I checked in on it last week to see it sitting comfortably at #72, fittingly enough. By the way, Benjamin’s script, Please Try Again, continues to hold onto the #21 spot, even after a year on the charts. Good for us, considering that there are over 600 scripts on that page.

So, there you have it. The tornado is getting closer to my house right now, so I’m done.

Fo’ shizzle, Ike-a-zizzle.

Football Fantasy.

I love football.

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(I got a haircut in preparation of Ben & Sherry’s wedding next week. Don’t say that I never did anything for you.)

I’m sorry, but I do. As a Wisconsinite, it’s in my bloodstream. I love this time of year, how the promise of a new football season will usher us into autumn, into the playoffs and eventually to the Superbowl at the beginning of the new year. Each new NFL season is like a rebirth for me, and even the pre-season makes me happy.

Speaking of which, did you see the Packers take out the Chargers last week? Ryan Longwell hit a 54-yard field goal in the pouring rain! You can’t see me right now, but I’m twirling my jersey over my head, and there’s a giant “P” painted on my ultra-white chest.

I’m a redneck, I suppose. Well, screw you.

I’ve greatly decreased my volume of sports intake since the Missus came along. We’ve worked out somewhat of a compromise, although I usually like to see how much sports I can view before she can’t take it anymore. I’m doing my best to be a cooperative husband, but every now and then, the pigskin will beckon.

I know how my wife operates, though. If I can find a way to entertain her while I’m watching these games, she will be content to sit with me and enjoy herself. For example, last March during the NCAA basketball tournament, she found out that I had entered an office pool. Now that money was riding on the games, she cheered and swore right along with me.

I’ve never loved her more. It was the best Smarch ever.

Now that football season is up and starting again, I’m posed that same question over again. How can I make this fun for her? Well, the answer showed up last year in a nationally televised game between the Packers and the Texans.

His name was David Carr.

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Carr was (and still is) the QB for the Texans, and the ladies seem to love him. I instantly realized that if I kept her up to date on all the good-looking football players out there, she would be more apt to watch the games with me. Sure, this means that she’s watching the games for all the wrong (and downright perverse) reasons, but any reason is fine with me.

Last Thursday during the Packers/Chargers game, I gave her an assignment. I wanted her to compose her own Fantasy Football unit, as sort of a project to keep her eyes glued to the TV and to keep track of who plays for what team (because that’s what’s really important in the world right now).

Here then, is the Missus’ Fantasy Football team. She named them the Gamecocks.

MASCOTThe USC Gamecock.

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This goes without saying. She saw it during a commercial on ESPN, and it was a perfect fit.

COACHNick Saban.

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For some reason, she likes the new Miami Dolphins coach because of his “rugged good looks”. Personally, I think he looks like the alcoholic uncle that always insists on singing karaoke at wedding receptions. Nonetheless, now the Gamecocks have a leader.

5 “HOT” QUARTERBACKS:

David Carr – QB for the Houston Texans

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A.J. Feeley – QB for the Miami Dolphins

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Drew Brees – QB for the San Diego Chargers

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Eli Manning – QB for the New York Giants

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Aaron Rodgers – Backup QB for the Green Bay Packers

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I don’t know what the Missus sees in these guys, but whatever. I’m more concerned about her stacking her team with so many Quarterbacks. I don’t know if that’s legal under Fantasy Football rules, but it’s certainly not going to win her too many games.

KICKER – Brett Conway

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There’s several things wrong with her kicker selection. First off, Brett Conway was responsible for at least three Green Bay Packer losses in 1997. He was instantly cut after injuring his leg, and the unstoppable Ryan Longwell came in and has saved the day since then. It goes without saying that Brett Conway was a huge disappointment in the NFL.

Secondly, Mr. Conway hasn’t played an NFL game in years. I think that he’s waiting tables somewhere in Ontario right now, waiting for his big break in the CFL. All the Missus remembers is that he was good looking and sad. These are all the traits that she requires for acceptance to the Gamecocks.

PUNTER – B.J. Sander.

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All I know about this guy is that he’s the Green Bay Packer’s new punter, and he had an 8-yard punt last week. Good luck with the rest of the season, B.J.

TACKLE – Tootie Robbins

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This is not a picture of Tootie Robbins, because he played for such a short period of time in the NFL, his photograph doesn’t exist online. The Missus only remembers Tootie because of this exchange of words between John Madden and Pat Summerall during a 1992 Packer game:

Madden: “Tootie Robbins has the biggest rectum in the NFL!”
Summerall: “Um, I don’t think that’s what you meant to say, John.”

She found this hilarious, and 13 years later, it got him a spot on the Gamecocks.

RANDOM PLAYERS:

That Guy On The Sidelines With The Vest On.

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(Pictured in the far left background.)

The Missus loves this guy!

Joe Theisman.

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Theisman is funny because he says any and every dumbass thing that comes to his head, usually on live television. I especially like him because he suffered a compound fracture on live television.

So, there you have it. Did this post make any sense? Maybe not. However, if it means that the Missus will enjoy another football game by my side, it will be all worth it. It’s the least I can do.

Kill Hank Williams Junior.

50 Signs Of My Apocalypse.

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I’m going to lay myself out on the table here, in the hopes that you do so as well.

It’s no secret that I have anxiety. Sure, some might call it “A paranoid cocktail with an OCD chaser”, but I don’t consider it to be a problem. Everyone has rituals, habits and quirks that they use to make their lives more understandable and easy to handle. As it turns out, I have a lot more of them than most.

So, I decided to compile a list of 50 of these quirks in an attempt to have people (including the Missus) know me a little better. Honestly, not even the Missus herself knows some of these things that I do every day to ward off bad luck and unforeseen disaster. There’s no question that everyone who reads this list shares at least some of these quirks with me. Who knows, maybe you’ll learn something about yourself. And away we go.

Bathroom Behavior.

1. If I enter a public restroom while someone else is vacating the premises, I will pretend to wash my hands and leave. I will not share a public restroom with anyone, and I will return later when it’s empty. I’m a big boy, I can hold it.

2. When the coast is finally clear to enter a public restroom, I will use a stall regardless of what business I need to conduct. Urinals are a joke, and should not be used by anyone.

3. I will never use a handicapped stall, for fear that a handicapped gentleman will arrive during that time. If I were to exit a handicapped stall to find a wheelchaired man tapping his watch, I’ll jump out the nearest window, slicing my wrists with the broken glass on the way down.

4. If someone enters the restroom while I’m conducting business, I will wait in the stall until that person leaves before I exit. My entrances and exits to restrooms must be done in secret, as to avoid any conversations and eye-contact.

5. In my bathroom at home, I’m constantly timing myself on the lengths of certain duties. For example, I can only spend 90 seconds combing and styling my hair, and I need to have my clothing on and straightened out in under a minute. This sometimes explains my appearance when I arrive to work.

6. While washing my hair, I count the number of times I run my fingers through it. While lathering and rinsing, I make sure that the left and right sides of my head receive an equal amount. This stems back to when I would literally fall asleep while washing my hair, awaking to realize that I had been doing it for ten minutes.

7. In the shower, I clean myself one body part at a time. For example, I’ll lather and rinse my left arm before moving on to the right, and so on. Covering your entire body with soap all at once is foolish and dangerous. If your house started on fire, it would take that much longer to get out of the shower.

8. I clean both of my ears at the same time. I take two cotton swabs at once, and it does the job in half the time.

9. When I shave, I always follow a pattern. I do the left side of my face, then the right, followed by my neck area, and finishing with the chin. If I were to start at a different spot, I’d probably forget to shave half of my face.

10. In my own bathroom, I will create as much cover noise as possible for myself. This usually means turning on the water and making sure the fan is running. Until recently, I had a radio that I would turn on as well. I am by no means “noisy” in the bathroom, but I just can’t take that chance.

11. I sometimes attempt to time my urination with the flushing of the toilet. If I’m not done by the time the toilet is done flushing, I’ll flush it again. I only do this sometimes, mind you.

Food & Drink.

12. I always eat French fries in pairs of 2 and 4 of the same length. If a fry doesn’t have a “partner” of matching length, I won’t eat it. It doesn’t count if you bite a larger fry to match lengths with the smaller one, either. You have to have standards.

13. I will eat all bite-sized candies (M&M’s, Milk Duds) in multiples of 2. That way, I have an even amount of candy on both sides of my mouth. An even mouth is a happy mouth. That being said, I am very patient with my chocolate, allowing it to slowly melt and disintegrate in my mouth. A chewed piece of chocolate is a wasted piece of chocolate.

14. Concerning containers of various “spreads” (butter, peanut butter, cheese spread, etc.), the levels in the containers must be level and flat at all times. When using a knife (or dipping a cracker, in the case of the cheese spread), you must always be working at flattening and even-ing out the surface. My wife insists on dipping her cracker right in the middle of the cheese spread, leaving an inch-deep gouge that takes about two sleeves worth of cracker eating to smooth out. I usually end up eating way more crackers than I want to because of this.

15. Different foods on a plate can never touch, plain and simple. Each item of food must remain separate at all times, no mixing allowed. I always eat my food one item at a time, as well. I refuse to switch around and pick at everything on my plate at once. I used to never drink any liquids until after my meal was finished, but that’s one quirk that’s actually starting to leave me.

16. When I’m seated at a booth or table in a restaurant, the first thing that I do is clear everything off of the table, and organize it along the table side nearest to a wall. This means that I take the condiments and whatnot, organizing them along the wall, in order of height. I also organize the sugar packets and coffee creamer, although I never use them and don’t drink coffee.

17. At a dining establishment, I must be seated where I can easily see everyone around me. This rule also applies to school, work or any public place. The thought of someone looking at me when I can’t look at them is unbearable.

18. At a dining establishment, I cannot be seated in the open. A booth in the corner is ideal for me, as far away from everyone as possible. I always need to sit on the “inside”, too. A dinner surrounded by strangers is not my idea of a good time. I need to find an establishment where they seat you and your friends in a phone booth or something secluded by curtains.

19. When I’m handling my drink, I make sure to always place it back on the table in its original location. When a drink sits for a certain amount of time, it leaves a ring of condensation on the table. I always make sure to set the drink exactly back on the original ring, as to not leave any additional rings.

20. I cannot stand condensation whatsoever. I will handle a drink along the rim with my fingertips, as to not get my hands wet while holding it. I sometimes wipe the entire glass off with a napkin. Wet hands does not a happy Ryan make.

On The Road.

21. I like to determine the square number on license plates. For example, if the car in front of my has a plate that says “CDP-489”, I’ll add the three numbers together (21), and then add the sum (3). I do this with most groups of numbers, but mainly when I’m on the road. Helps my concentration.

22. One of the most annoying habits for myself is this: I always have to manually check to see if the directionals and lights are off. My directionals and lights are controlled by the same knob on my steering wheel, and I constantly (maybe 10 times during the 8.5 mile drive to work) have to jiggle the knob and make sure the lights aren’t on. Even though directionals make that horrid clicking noise, and my entire dash illuminates when the lights are on, I’m just never convinced. This is without question something that even annoys the hell out of me, and I’m taking baby steps to knock it off.

23. When I’m heading to or from my car, the first thing I do is select the next key that I will need to use. If I’m leaving my car, I get my house or office key ready; if I’m going to my car, I get my car key ready. I will walk to my destination with that key poised in my hands, rather than select it when I get to my destination. I don’t like to fumble with the keychain when it’s time to unlock something.

24. When I take a corner, I always look in the back to make sure nothing fell over or off the seat. I do this even if there’s nothing in the backseat. My Wife always asks, “What are you looking at back there?”

25. I cannot drive or ride in a car with the doors unlocked. The locks are there for a reason, please use them. I lock my car doors immediately after getting into or out of it, and I make sure that my passengers do the same. I sometimes travel with up to 100 cd’s in my car, and I don’t like to share with strangers. Also, when I was a kid, I almost fell out of the door of an unlocked truck. My Dad grabbed me by the shirt at the last second, saving me from flying out of the moving vehicle.

26. I don’t like to alter the temperature of my heating and cooling vents. When I’m in control, it’s either all or nothing. I don’t turn the dial towards the middle or anything, attempting to find my “ideal” climate. It’s either freeze or sweat, on or off. When I get cold, I shut everything off. When I get hot again, I crank the air full blast.

27. When I drive, I constantly look in my compartments to make sure I have everything I need. Wallet? Check. Phone? Check? Sunglasses? Check. So on and so forth. I’ll do this multiple times over the course of a drive. Forgetting something sucks, and I try to do that as seldom as possible.

28. Okay, this is another weird “counting” one. The volume level on my car stereo must be either on or “touching” a number that is a multiple of 5. For example, I can listen to the stereo on a volume level of 49, 50, 51, 54, 55 or 56, but NOT 52, 53, 57, 58 etc. If it’s not on or touching a multiple of 5, it won’t do. Besides, my ears don’t know the difference between 51 and 52, but my brain does.

Around The House.

29. The Missus hates this, but I always have to fashion little piles out of the stacks of mail she refuses to throw away. In about a weeks time, the kitchen table or island will be overrun with junk mail or things she doesn’t know what to do with. Once I pile these things up to appear less messy, she instantly needs to know where I put everything, insisting that everything was “right where she wanted it”. I bought a writing desk for the sole purpose of setting my mail on it, true story.

30. In the bedroom, I can’t sleep on the side of the bed closest to the door. Me and the Missus refer to this location as the “Murder Side”, and she’s more brave than I. If the boogeyman comes in and decides to viscerate the Missus, I’ll have ample time to put on some pants and jump ‘oot the window. For several years when I was younger, my bed faced away from the door, so I couldn’t see who was there. This led me to sleeping upside-down until it was re-positioned.

31. I have a little rule when it comes to my possessions. If it’s not expensive, for decoration or part of a collection, I’m throwing it away. About two times a year I will throw out hundreds of dollars of merchandise, simply because I can’t store it anywhere and it no longer serves a purpose to me.

32. The front door must be locked immediately after entering or exiting the house. End of story.

33. I plow through remote control batteries pretty quickly by frequently checking the “flashback” button. For some reason, I think that the TV will forget what channels I’m currently toggling back and forth, so I have to keep tabs on it. I’ll flip back for no reason other than the reassurance that it’s still there.

At The Workplace.

34. The first thing I do when I get in my office every morning is to clean the mess that the cleaning crew made the night before. Little things, like moving the trash can up against the wall, and straightening out the phone cord for eight minutes before I can use it. I don’t even log into my computer until everything is right were it’s supposed to be. I always set my wallet, keys and whatnot in the same exact place, exactly parallel to the stereo. Don’t these janitors carry T-squares with them?

35. When I write in cursive, I dot the I’s and cross the T’s immediately. I don’t wait until I’m done writing out the word. I don’t want to forget, and I hate cursive anyways.

36. I use MS Word every day, regardless of if I’m at work or doing freelance stuff. The newer versions of Word have green and red underlines, signifying an error in grammar or spelling. I correct these instantly, refusing to have any marks on my work in progress. Even if I know that the underline is an incorrect assessment by Word, I’ll still get rid of it, as the unnecessary marks are enough to make me saw Bill Gate’s hands off.

37. When I’m in between typing things, or waiting for something to load, I always wait with my fingers on the home row. This makes no sense, because I never use the home row as a starting point. It’s merely a place to rest my hands before I start pecking with four fingers again.

38. I live and die by the Post-It Note. At the end of every day, my trash can has anywhere from 20-60 discarded Post-Its in it. If something does not have a Post-It Note on it, I’ll put an unnecessary on on it, such as “File” or “Done”. Papers without notes on them are worthless and strange to me.

Out And About.

39. When I pick up a newspaper, I never take the first one off of the stack. I take a fresh one from the middle of the pile. I also do this with magazines, straws and items at the grocery store. When I’m leafing through a magazine at a store, and decide to buy it, I will pick out a new one from the back of the rack, discarding the one that I was just looking at. I don’t like the idea of anyone looking at a particular magazine before I do, including myself.

40. I have a habit of holding my breath in certain situations. I normally hold my breath when I drive past a cemetery, and I sometimes hold my breath during an elevator ride. When I pass a stranger in a public place, I hold my breath because I don’t want to smell him or her. There used to be a cemetery near where I used to live that was about a mile long. I would almost pass out when I drove past it.

41. At a record store, I have to view every album in a particular section, even if I already find what I’m looking for. Regardless if I have no intention of purchasing another album, I have to see everything that the store has in stock. My wife despises this.

42. When I purchase a CD, the first thing that I do when I open it is to straighten out the disk in the case. I do this even if I remove the disk immediately afterwards. All of the CD’s in my collection are straightened in the cases. One time, I borrowed a bunch of albums to a friend, and as a joke, he returned them to me with all the disks in the wrong cases. We never spoke again.

43. Every CD in my collection is alphabetized, and all of the clothes in my closet are organized by style and color. If my belongings weren’t organized this way, I would certainly lose something forever.

Me, Myself & I.

44. Symmetry is a must with me. If I scratch my right arm, I have to scratch my left are in the same place. If I accidentally hurt myself, I have to hurt myself equally on the opposite side of my body. I once poked myself in the left eye, and meticulously poked the other eye to level out the blindness.

45. I cannot touch certain types of material. Sponges and foam have the worst textures on earth, and I refuse to touch them, as they make my brain cry.

46. I double and triple-check everything. I’ve gone over this list 30 times already.

47. I tongue my fillings constantly, just to make sure that they are still in there. I have six fillings, and I stick my tongue in them about 20 times a day, from left to right inside my mouth. No doubt this is wearing them down much faster than a normal person would.

48. I cannot be sitting on the back of my shirt. I have to make sure that it’s not tucked under me on the chair, and I continuously check to make sure that it’s properly fanned out. Wrinkles suck.
49. When I was younger, I was afraid to go to sleep, so I would read all of the books on my bookshelf several times over in an attempt to stay awake. When I got sick of reading the books, I would go through them and count every single letter. To this day, I count letters in words when I’m sick of actually “reading” them. I enjoy words, and I feel that breaking them down to their basic element gives you a better understanding of them. I’m also a complete basket case.

50. It goes without saying that everything and everything must be facing the same direction as their counterparts. This rule goes for all of my possessions and everything in my home. There is absolutely no room for individuality under my roof.

There we are. I feel cleansed and revitalized.

So, what are your quirks? What do you do that nobody else does? What do you do that I already do? You’d be amazed at how many people do this crap every single day, in an effort to maintain some sort of order and dominance in their lives. Again, I don’t consider this a hindrance, because it doesn’t make my life any more difficult or easy to live. Indeed, there are some people out there who really DO have anxiety and OCD issues, and it takes them several hours to do simple tasks. I’m not there yet, but you have to have goals. I’m glad that I shared this with you.

Are you?

COMING SOON: THE MISSUS PICKS HER FANTASY FOOTBALL TEAM.

That Was A Washboard Break.

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If you were to take a passing glance at my weekend, it wouldn’t appear too special. However, a closer inspection will reveal a run-of-the-mill weekend sprinkled with insane coincidence, staggeringly poor luck and strange new experiences. Permit me to explain.

I picked up the Missus from work on Friday afternoon, where the main topic of the drive was Gabriel. If you’re not aware of who Gabe is, you should really visit this page more often. He’s one of the two cats that share living space with me. He’s quite a rare cat, in that he acts like a dog. Very loyal, very intelligent and very well-behaved. One thing about him that reminds me of myself is his crippling anxiety. He’s incredibly aware of his surroundings, and reacts accordingly. When we first brought him home to meet with Tinker (our other cat), she didn’t appreciate his company. She bit and hissed, and Gabe wanted nothing more than to make friends with his new roommate. This rejection hurt him, and he took to chewing all the fur off of his paws. Eventually, they grew to like each other, and the fur chewing stopped. Any tiny change in atmosphere will be met with a reaction from Gabe.

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The past couple weeks have been very hot here in Sun Prairie, so we’ve been sleeping with the bedroom door open. Our apartment has a heating/cooling unit in the living room instead of a thermostat throughout, so it’s unbearable to sleep with the door shut when it’s 95 degrees out. With the door open, the cats have free reign to disturb us all night. In an attempt to keep them away from us while we try to sleep, we gently remove them from the bed, clap our hands, and spray them with a squirt bottle if it gets too ridiculous.

This troubles Gabe. Poor, sweet, innocent Gabe.

When we sleep with the door shut, he forgets that we exist, and doesn’t try to bother us. But if we’re out in the open like this, and he’s not allowed to be near us, he feels very rejected and acts out. His “acting out” of choice recently has been urinating in the Missus’ bathtub. Every other day for the week and a half we slept with the door open, we’ve woken up to cat whiz in the tub.

After careful deliberation and fact-checking, we determined that his acting out was one of two things. Either he was angry about the door, or he had a Urinary Tract Infection. The symptoms for the UTI didn’t match his behavior, so we decided to sleep with the door shut again for a few days, bear the heat and see if he knocked it off. More on that later.

We were too tired and lazy to cook dinner on Friday evening, so we decided to head out to Benvenuto’s, everyone’s favorite Italian chain eatery. We expected a standard dinner, void of conversation concerning work and feline urine, and we got it.

Sort of.

First off, we were seated at a table in the dead-center of the place. If there’s one thing I can’t stand more than a table (when there’s an empty booth), it’s not being able to keep an eye on everyone else in the room. The idea that there are people behind me, looking at me and watching me eat, is unacceptable. I need a booth or table in a corner or I will ask to be moved, which is exactly what we did. Freshly seated in the corner now, I ordered the spinach and cheese ravioli, which was a dish that I had never ordered at this place. Normally, I’m not down with new selections, but I’ve been on a ravioli kick over the last few weeks, and I had to check out their wears.

A minute later, the Missus spilled her drink all over the table. Our quiet corner sanctuary was now abuzz with waitresses and turned heads. I nervously jittered, twisting my napkin into a knot until everyone went away. Eventually, our food showed up and we settled back into quiet desolation.

My ravioli tasted great, although the Missus stated that it looked different from the identical dish that she normally orders. We figured they started making it differently, and stopped analyzing it after a while.

At least, until we got the check, and saw “SPNCH/CHCKN RVOLI” on the slip.

What I thought was minced Portobello mushrooms was actually chicken, and I ate an entire plate of it.

I know what you’re thinking. “How can you eat a plate of chicken and not realize it?” Well, it was encased and hidden in ravioli, it tasted like absolutely nothing and I hadn’t had chicken in at least three years. Bear in mind, Benvenuto’s was the same place I got accidentally hammered last year, so they are certainly masters of slight of hand.

I started to get sick, and we instantly left.

Driving home, I kept sinking, my body rejecting the foreign objects I’ve just inserted into it. When a body goes without meat for years, it has serious problems when it’s suddenly introduced in large quantities. I felt like crap warmed over, and spent the rest of the night in the bathroom and on the couch. I called my Mom for sympathy, and played Mario Golf on the GBA until I fell asleep. I’d write a stern letter to Benvenuto’s if their bread bowls weren’t so fantastic. I’ll eat there again.

Waking up on Saturday morning, I felt much better, having expelled most of the chicken the night before. I had planned on going to a co-workers house to try my hand at home brewing. This guy’s been moonshining in his garage for years now, and I was looking forward to becoming his beer apprentice. Things didn’t pan out this week, so we decided to do it some other time. Trust me, if I ever DO go brewing, I’ll take pictures and tell you all about it, provided I don’t go blind.

With the day to ourselves, me and the Missus decided to go shopping and take in a movie. The Missus needed to find some shoes for the upcoming Jenkel/Jenkel wedding in two weeks. She didn’t find anything that she wanted, but we picked up a few items nonetheless. She got some eye shadow and the first three Harry Potter books, completing her collection. She’s previously read all six of these books front to back, and I’m convinced that she’ll kill me once she’s finished, certain that she’ll have nothing better to do and nothing to live for. At least she’s busy with something, and she’s enjoying the series. I don’t read most fiction, let alone Harry Potter, but if the Missus says it’s good, it must be good. She’s a trusted critic of high-end literature, so I’ll take her word for it.

I picked up a couple of CD’s for myself:

Beck – Guero
Sufjan Stevens – Come on Feel the Illinoise (With Superman Cover!)

I’ll give you a review of those once I’ve listened to them a few times.

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As I was leafing through the albums in the Borders on the east side of Madison, I saw someone that looked familiar to me. As I continued to look him over, I realized that it was none other than Mr. Justin Perkins, Wisconsin rock star extraordinaire. Mr. Perkins is not only responsible for the Yesterday’s Kids & the Obsoletes (check my links), but he also produced the debut album for a certain Mediocre at Best band. The whisper around the campfire is that he was responsible for producing the greatest Wisconsin ska/punk album of all time. Band members have not yet commented on this claim.

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We chatted for a few seconds, and he told me that he was actually moving to Madison to work at a local studio. Sounds good to me. We parted ways, and I was happy to run into someone that I actually wanted to run into.

Next, we headed to the movies. We decided to see March of the Penguins, because the Missus loves penguins, and I love the soothing tone of Morgan Freeman. It’s a win-win situation. The movie was good, remarkably inspiring at times, but forgettable as the days go on. The community behavior of Emperor penguins is downright amazing, but the film wasn’t comprehensive or varied enough to produce much of a lasting effect. It’s good, but not recommended over anything else. I should note, however, that I ate a bag of Kit-Kat Bites at the theater and they were fantastic. There must have been eight candy bars worth of chocolate in that bag.

2 Tickets @ $8.25 each = $16.50
1 Medium buttered popcorn = $4.75
1 Medium Sierra Mist soda = $3.75
1 Bag of Kit-Kat bites = $3.75
1 Bag of Rolo bites = $3.75
Grand Total = $32.50

The movie was 75 minutes long. Do the math, and you’ll figure out why the box office is slumping right now. We went home and again watched TV until we fell asleep.

We got up early for a Sunday, probably around 10 or so. We wanted to get to the Veridian Homes Design Studio by noon so we could see the drawing for the new house. They were giving away either a $210,000 home or $100,000 cash, along with about a hundred other prizes. We sat under a tent with about two hundred others, waiting to see if we’d win anything. We, of course, did not. This did inspire us, however, to start looking around again for new places to move.

Every few months or so, we start the house hunt again, looking for townhouses or condos to upgrade to. Some of the places we looked at were beautiful and spacious. We toured a condo in Sun Prairie that was over 3,200 square feet, four bedrooms, three bathrooms and a $129 per month condo fee for $210,000. This is a wee bit out of our price range (by about 200 grand), but man, it was beautiful. Maybe this time next year, when we have a few more debts paid off. That being said, we saw a few places that were in our price range, but weren’t big enough for our tastes. Something’s going to have to give eventually, and it’s going to be my wallet.

Speaking of wallets, thanks to the approval of the 2005 Wisconsin state budget, I got a 94 cent-per-hour raise. That makes me happy.

Also during the day, we headed out to the small town of Waunakee, a surrounding neighborhood of Madison that we had yet to visit. This means that we have pretty much spent the day in every surrounding area now, eating grilled cheeses along the way. “Grilled Cheese America” might be a far-off dream, but “Grilled Cheese Wisconsin” has been going on for years now.

This particular grilled cheese was purchased at “Brian’s on Baker Street”, a renovated old school supper club with gambling machines and whatnot. The place was huge, clean and inviting. The sandwich was three slices of cheddar on sourdough, complimented nicely with sweet mayonnaise that I specially ordered. Thumbs-up were given all around, and we headed back home.

(Screw the mustard museum, I need to start a mayonnaise museum.)

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There was a two-hour Arrested Development marathon on last night, with another two-hour marathon to follow this Friday. WATCH IT! We enjoyed most of the Fox programming and retired to the bedroom, closing the door behind us.

Since we went back to closing the door, Gabe has yet to whiz in the tub. Stupid cat; I’m glad he’s better.

Anesthetic For The Amputee.

I haven’t posted anything in over four days. I must be busy or something.

Well, yes and no. Sure, my new job is giving me no free time at work, which is a luxury I quickly realized that not everyone has. I’m also coming home a lot more tired and the upstairs rumpus room is about 85 degrees, making it difficult for me to climb up there and sit alone in the heat for two hours. When I come home nowadays, I wait for the Missus to show up, we eat, watch TV, chat and sleep. It’s a good routine and it works for me.

But just because I’m not typing doesn’t mean that I’m not doing anything. Slow down, tender chap; because you just don’t know me.

I’ve got plenty on my vegetarian plate. Besides my aforementioned new job (not really a new job, just more work, with the promise of even more work in the future), I’ve got an Of Montreal interview in pre-production. I’ve also been digging through my album collection like crazy, listening to almost everything we have in an effort to determine what my favorite albums and songs “ever” are. This is much harder to do than I thought it would. The music that I listen to now might be more mature, respected and acclaimed, but how does that fare to your favorite album when you were 10? I don’t know, so it’s getting murky. Expect that post in the near future.

Oh, I cleaned my closet last weekend. I took out everything that I no longer wear (probably 50 shirts), and then organized and color-coordinated the remaining 8 garments. I’ve got my tees separate from my polos and dress shirts, and my sweaters are nestled away from the blazers. It’s a beautiful thing to make your closet more efficient. It took me no time to organize my shoe collection, because the only pair that I have is on my feet.

Me and the Missus ate sweet corn last night, which takes me back to my redneck past, growing up on a farm in Larsen. She politely asked me to husk the corn before she got home, so it wouldn’t take forever to get it on the table. So there I sat, on the deck in the 92 degree heat, husking corn by myself. During that process, my cats sat by the patio door, almost mocking me because they were in the freezing cold house. They kept looking at me and cocking their heads, attempting to understand why the guy who feeds them is sitting alone in the blistering sun, skinning corn.

Wiping my brow every two seconds, I kept wondering about the life choices I made to get to this point. Then I saw the Missus drive up, and it all made sense again.

Another thank you is in order, especially to the 2-4 people who keep popping in every day to check out the page. We had another record-breaking month, topping over 4000 hits in July. Considering that we had about 1200 in January of this year, I’d say that our pace is feverish. That being said, I’m certain that the CDP will suffer a record low for August. I blame the heat, because I won’t blame myself.

You just happened to catch me on a week where there’s a lot going on, but most of it is uninteresting. So, what have you been doing?