Tuesday, September 16, 2014

My Photo-Journal of Salt Lake Comic Con 2014: At Comic Con No One Can Hear You Fart

I recently attended the second annual Salt Lake Comic Con. It was a hoot!

Here are a few of the things I learned while mingling with the masses at Utah's greatest nerd event:

1. At Comic Con, no one can hear you fart. And if you think someone might smell it, just blame it on the nearest passing person dressed as Deadpool. (Don't worry, one will be coming along any second.)

2. At Comic Con, you never know who you are going to meet.
I met this strange, creepy-looking creature.
(Oh, and Gollum was there, too.)

3. Do you like standing in line? Then you definitely need to check out Comic Con!
This was either:
A. The line to get in to Comic Con.
B. The line for a photo-op with Barbara Eden.
3. The line for the water fountain.
Or, D. The line to figure out which line you should be in.

4. At Comic Con, no one is afraid of a giant marshmallow man.
Who you gonna call?

5. It's not just anywhere that you can pose for a picture with KITT from Knight Rider. (Unless you like to wander random parking lots looking for old black sports cars.)
I'm trying my best to look Hasselhoffian. (But not succeeding.)

6. My nerd credentials are impeccable. I've been to multiple Comic Cons. I've been to multiple Star Trek conventions. I had (until recently) a collection of around 5,000 comic books. I wear a calculator watch. And yet, I didn't know who half of the people were dressed up as, and I felt a bit out of place because I've never seen a single episode of Dr. Who. (And I don't like Deadpool.)
Doubling up on my nerdism: Comic Con wristband and calculator watch!

7. Did I mention you get to see some of your favorite celebrities?
Sometimes they're taller in real life than you expected.

8. Erin Gray (from Buck Rogers and Silver Spoons) was beautiful and charming at her celebrity panel. My friend Daren made her laugh when he asked a question about her participation on The Battle of the Network Stars. His question: "What were you thinking?" Her answer: "What was I thinking? I wanted to win!!!"
Erin Gray: Beautiful woman and fierce competitor.

9. It's not every day you get to spend money featuring characters from The Princess Bride.
Wait, that's not Abraham Lincoln!!!

10. Spandex is a good thing.

Artist Sal Velutto talking with "The Ghost Who Walks."

11. There was even some fun stuff for the kids!
Elsa on stage with Lady Skull and Iron Man.

12. It's not every day the kids can pose next to a robot they've never heard of from a show that went off the air 40 years before they were born. ("Biddi-biddi-biddi.")
"Win This Twiki!" (We did not actually win this Twiki. Or any other Twiki, for that matter.)

13. There were a lot of cool celebrities there. I was a cheapskate and didn't pay any extra money to get a photo-op or autograph. We did occasionally lurk to see which celebrities were manning their booths. Kevin Sorbo is a legend. Not only did he play the legendary Hercules, but he was legendarily manning his booth every time we walked by!
Getting a picture of Bruce Campbell's booth while Bruce Campbell wasn't there. (Does that make me frugal, stupid, cheap, or all of the above?)

14. This statue of an Orc was anatomically correct! (Actually, I don't know whether that's true or not. But when I made that joke my friend felt the need to look under this Orc's loin cloth.)
The security guards at Comic Con this year were pretty intense.

15. There were lots and lots of people dressed as superheroes and super villains. The most common costumes for females? Black Widow, Harley Quinn, and Poison Ivy. (Poison Ivy: a few strategically placed fig leaves and some green spandex and you're ready to go!) Male costumes? Batman, Spider-Man, and several Thors. Also, and I never understand this, but there were several people, male and female, dressed as Robin. Robin? Really? (And, of course, all those clowns dressed as Deadpool.)
The best way to give Iron Man a headache and stop him in his tracks? Make him stare at the Salt Palace Convention Center carpet.

16. Barbara Eden (here with I Dream of Jeannie co-star Bill Dailey) was quite entertaining and still very lovely. She told wonderful stories of meeting Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley.
News flash from Barbara Eden: The late Tony Randall cheated at gin rummy!

17. You want giant statues of trolls? Or possibly Orcs? Golems? Large ugly creatures? Well then, Comic Con is the place for you! (Not that I should be judging these creatures based solely on their physical appearance. They might be quite friendly and fun-loving for all I know.)
"You put your left foot in and you shake it all about."

18. Oh, come on, who hasn't built a life-size Superman or Wonder Woman out of Legos?
"That Superman sure is a blockhead," thought Wonder Woman.

19. Do you like crowds of people? How about crowds of people with at least one person dressed as "My Little Pony?" Come on down to Comic Con! (Hint: the pony is just to the right of the guy in the fez.)
Lots o' peoples!

20. Stan Lee, icon of Marvel Comics and co-creator (with his various artists) of the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, the Avengers, Daredevil, Dr. Doom, Paste Pot Pete, and many others, answered questions at Comic Con. He's pretty spry for 91 years old! (It would have been nice if they had moderated the questions asked to him a bit better. It ended up being a long line of people who wanted to get hugs from him.)

After Salt Lake Comic Con was over, the organizers made a big deal out of quoting Stan Lee as saying it was "the greatest comic con in the world!" Sounds great, doesn't it? The problem is, Stan Lee speaks in fluent hyperbole, and has done so for well over 50 years. (It only took him three issues of Fantastic Four to declare it as the "World's Greatest Comic Magazine" in a blurb on the cover!) He has been to hundreds of comic cons, and he's probably called at least 75% of them the "greatest comic con in the world!" It's just how he talks. (That's not to say it wasn't a great comic con, just that Stan Lee probably called his lunch the "greatest macaroni and cheese in the world!")
Sorry it's blurry, but for a 91 year old man Stan Lee doesn't sit still very much.

21. Only at Comic Con can you have the Greatest Comicbook Artist Ever drop an f-bomb on you while trying to sell you an autographed copy of his latest Batman book! (Neal Adams told us the story would "f*%# with our minds.") (I didn't buy it. I didn't want my mind to be "f*#@& with.")
That's Neal Adams sitting at the table.

22. At Comic Con, you never know what kind of new friends you might make!

(I didn't dress up much. The closest I got to a costume was this Star Trek shirt that I wore on the first day. Interestingly enough, I wore a Minnesota Vikings shirt on the second day, and got three times more positive comments about it than I did the Star Trek shirt.) (I blame J.J. Abrams.)
Here's me and my bud Gollum having some fun together.  May he live long and prosper.

23. Only the best and the brightest attend Comic Con!
I met this brilliant, wise man at Comic Con.
(His name is Gandalf. I don't know why he was standing next to that strange, creepy-looking creature.)

24. And finally, at Comic Con you'll find some things that just can't be explained:
It's a stormtrooper helmet made up to look like the General Lee from the show Dukes of Hazzard.
A stormtrooper helmet made to look like the General Lee from the Dukes of Hazzard???
Yes, that's right, it's a stormtrooper helmet made to look like the General Lee from the Dukes of Hazzard!!!
(To quote the great philosopher Charlie Daniels, "There's some things in this world you just can't explain.")

Monday, July 21, 2014

Toilet Seat Up or Toilet Seat Down? (A Definitive Study)

It's happened to all of us.

You go to the bathroom to take care of some business, but when you get to the toilet you find that the seat is not in the position you wanted and/or expected it to be!

What do you do? WHAT DO YOU DO???

Over the years a lot of male/female relationships have been torn asunder simply because of the placement of the toilet seat. It needn't be that way.

I thought it was time to do a definitive study of the situation, weighing the advantages and disadvantages of each of the possible toilet seat positions to see if we can come to a consensus as to the absolute best placement of the toilet seat.

For the purposes of this study, I'm going to assume that men pee while standing, and that women pee while sitting. (Neither is always the case, but I'm going to play the percentages.) Also, when referring to the processes of going to the bathroom, I am going to use the terms "pee" and "poop" instead of "urinate" and "defecate," mostly because I think "pee" and "poop" are funnier.

Position #1: Lid Up, Seat Up
POSITION #1: Lid Up, Seat Up:

Advantage for Men: Prime position for peeing in the potty.
Disadvantage for Men: Must lower the seat to poop.

Advantage for Women: Ummm…the joy of knowing they have left the toilet in the best possible position for their man. (Yes, I know that is quite a reach.)
Disadvantage for Women: Must lower the seat to pee and/or to poop. (We'll discuss this disadvantage in more detail later.)

General Advantages: It's a large water bowl for your dogs and/or cats! (Assuming that is something you might want.)
General Disadvantages: Dogs and cats can lick your toilet water. (Assuming this is something you might not want.) Flushes are noisier. Splatter from flushing might escape toilet onto surrounding areas. Things (combs, toothbrushes, deodorant, jewelry, etc.) might fall into toilet. Small and/or mischievous  children are more likely to play in the toilet water.

Position #2: Lid Up, Seat Down

POSITION #2: Lid Up, Seat Down:

Advantage for Men: Prime position for pooping. Makes their women happy.
Disadvantage for Men: Must raise seat to pee. (Of course, there are some men who view the seat down as an opportunity for target practice. They attempt to pee into the toilet without getting any on the seat. My advice to these men: DON'T! Numbers* show that 98.2% of all men who try to pee through the toilet seat end up getting some pee on it. So don't even try.) (*True, I just made up those numbers, but I'm 89.4% sure that they are fairly accurate.)

Advantage for Women: Prime position for pee and/or poop.
Disadvantage for Women: Worry that their man might pee on the seat.

General Advantages: Water bowl for larger dogs and cats with good balance. Good for a laugh if a cat with bad balance happens to fall in.
General Disadvantages: Pretty much the same as the General Disadvantages for Lid Up, Seat Up, except a little less. A little less noisier flush. A little less flush splatter. A little less likely to have things fall into the bowl. A little less likely kids play in the water. But all still possible.

Position #3: Lid Down, Seat Down

POSITION #3: Lid Down, Seat Down:

Advantage for Men: None.
Disadvantage for Men: Must raise lid to poop. Must raise lid and seat to pee.

Advantage for Women: None.
Disadvantage for Women: Must raise lid to pee and/or poop.

General Advantages: No animals drinking from toilet. No kids playing in toilet water. Quieter flush. No toilet flush splatter. Things won't fall into toilet. Toilet can be used as a chair, so you have a place to sit while you put on your shoes. Hides dirty toilet bowl from sight. Helps contain toilet bowl odors.

General Disadvantages: Must provide a separate water bowl for your dogs and/or cats. Slight chance there will be a surprise for you when you open the lid if the person before you didn't flush.

So there you have it, all of the advantages and disadvantages of the three possible toilet seat/lid configurations. 

And, after considering all of the data and weighing all of the options, I have reached a conclusion as to what the optimal position is for the toilet lid and seat! And, my conclusion is this:


It's really pretty simple, folks! If the toilet seat and lid aren't in the position you prefer, simply change it! It only takes two seconds to lower the seat or to raise the lid! This is not rocket science! All problems with toilet seat placement can be solved by following this simple piece of advice:


Of all the advantages and disadvantages listed above, the one that people are most vocal about and the one that causes the most problems is the disadvantage for women in Position #1: Lid Up, Seat Up. They complain that if they sit down without the seat down they end up sitting on the extremely cold porcelain edge of the toilet, and might actually fall down into the water. This would never be a problem if they would simply remember to LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAK!

I love my wife. There are many reasons why I love my wife. One of them is that we have never had an argument about the position of the toilet seat and/or lid. We are both intelligent enough to figure out that if the seat or lid are in a position we don't prefer, we can simply change it. My wife is wonderful!

That said, we have now generally gone to Position #3: Lid Down, Seat Down, as our usual configuration. Mostly because of the new cat. We got a new cat earlier this year, and the cat was liking the toilet water a little too much. So now the lid and seat are down. (The cat now climbs into the sink instead.)

I've found that Lid Down, Seat Down is better for other reasons, too. That list of advantages is pretty strong. Things don't fall in the toilet anymore. When something falls into the toilet, there are two questions that must be asked:

1) Is it worth reaching in to get the thing out? (Usually it is, if for no other reason than not clogging the toilet.)


B) The thing that fell into the toilet, do I dare use it again? 
This, of course, depends on value. 
Toothbrush? No way! 
Toothpaste? How full was the tube, and how tight was it sealed? Probably still no. 
Wedding ring? Definitely yes. 
Hamburger? What are you doing with food in the bathroom? That is sick and wrong!

So, in conclusion, what is the best position for the toilet seat and/or lid? That's an individual choice. Each person needs to look at the advantages and disadvantages of each position and decide what is best for themselves. Just remember that in the long run IT REALLY DOESN'T MATTER especially if you LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAK!!!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Vacuuming Sucks

There's always the ONE THING that the vacuum won't pick up. It doesn't matter how good your vacuum is, there will be ONE THING it won't pick up.

You'll be vacuuming along, and you'll see the ONE THING, but you won't know it's the ONE THING yet. You'll just think it's yet another some thing that the vacuum will pick up. You'll run the vacuum over the ONE THING, and you'll be surprised when the vacuum passes over it and the ONE THING is still there.

You'll back the vacuum over the ONE THING again. This time, you're not as surprised to see the ONE THING still there when you move the vacuum from off of the top of it. By this point you are starting to realize that this might be the ONE THING.

But, maybe it's not. So, you run the vacuum over the ONE THING again. And again. And again. And again. And then one more time, pushing down extra hard on the vacuum. But, it's still there. The ONE THING.

So, you finally give up. You reach down and pick up the ONE THING.

What happens next can say a lot about the kind of person you are. You've reached down and picked up the ONE THING. What do you do with it? Do you put it in your pocket and keep on vacuuming? Do you walk it right over and immediately put it in the garbage can? Or, do you fluff it up a little and drop it back onto the floor, because, by gosh, this vacuum is going to pick up this ONE THING if it's the last thing it does!!! (Guilty.)

And then, you run the vacuum over the ONE THING one more time, hoping to high heaven that the vacuum picks it up this time, because nothing is quite as humiliating as having to reach down and pick up the ONE THING by hand a second time.

This vacuum sucks!

We have a good vacuum. We really do. It was a gift from when we got married. (Thanks Uncle Dan and Aunt Sandy!)

Sometimes, I'll even use the vacuum. I'll vacuum the living room carpet at least four or five times a year, whether it needs it or not.

I'm not afraid of the vacuum. Well, as long as I am wearing shoes. If I'm bare footed bare feeted bare footened without shoes I'm always a little nervous. I've never lost a toe to a vacuum, and I don't think I really could. But why take chances?

I don't think it makes me less manly to do some of the household chores. Shortly after he was married, my brother was doing some vacuuming when my Dad chided him for doing "women's work." Times have changed a bit since Dad's day.

Of course, before you can vacuum, first you have to clear the floor of things that are too "big." Which begs the question: At what point is something too "big" for the vacuum? Something the size of a quarter? The size of a dime? The size of a thumbtack? The size of a pin? The size of the head of a pin?

At some point it seems pointless to vacuum if you have to pick up every thing that is on the floor before you start. Isn't that what the vacuum is for? To pick things up off the floor? Doesn't it kind of defeat the purpose if you have to pick everything up by hand before you use the vacuum? Why, then, use the vacuum at all?

At what point do you stop picking things up and just try your luck with the vacuum?

Of course, there is something worse that the ONE THING when it comes to vacuuming: the OTHER THING.

What is the OTHER  THING, you ask? Will you know it when you see it? No, because you never see the OTHER  THING. But, you will know it when you hear it.

You'll be vacuuming along and you'll go over the OTHER THING without even realizing it. Suddenly it sounds like someone has put a spoon in the sink disposal. Or turned on the blender with a bunch of coins in it. Or taken some china plates and tried to shove them through a wheat grinder.

How fast can you shut off the vacuum? You'll find out as soon as you vacuum up the OTHER THING! Because if you don't shut that vacuum off immediately, the vacuum just might explode! (And no one wants that.)

Now that I think of it, there's a lot to be said for lunoleum linnoleliam linoleum wood floors.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Do You Want to Buy Some Oysters?

"Do you want to buy some oysters?"

When someone approaches you to speak, you can never be totally sure what they are going to say. You might think you have an idea about what they are going to say, but sometimes the words that come out of their mouths are a total surprise.

I was at work the other night when a truck driver approached me. (I work in the truck yard of a large manufacturing/warehouse facility.) Usually when truck drivers approach me like this, they ask me where the office is. (The door to the office is not marked very well.)

So, I was more than a bit taken aback when the first thing he said to me was, "Do you want to buy some oysters?"

My initial reaction was, "Wha?" (Not "What?" but "Wha?" There is a slight difference.)

Seeing my confusion at his question, the truck driver clarified things for me. "I've got twenty pounds of oysters that they wouldn't accept at my last stop, so I'm trying to sell them to get rid of them."

"Oh. So they're rejected oysters! Well, in that case I'd love to buy them!!!" is something I certainly did not say. What I actually did say was, "Umm, no thanks."

Do you want to buy some oysters?
So, I sent the truck driver up to the office to check in. The load he was actually delivering was chicken broth. (I'm not sure why chicken broth and oysters were on the same trailer, but I gave up trying to understand things a long time ago.) Apparently, he asked several other people the same question, "Do you want to buy some oysters?" As far as I could tell, no one actually did, and he left the yard with all twenty pounds of his oysters unsold.

I asked the guard at the truck gate about it, and he said, "If it hadn't been twenty pounds, I probably would have bought them. I like oysters, but I wouldn't want that many."

So let me get this straight, it wasn't the quality of the oysters that kept him from buying them, it was the quantity! Really???

Let's go over what we know about the quality of these oysters:
1. They were rejected at the driver's last stop.
2. There are any number of reasons why the oysters might have been rejected.
C. Most of those reasons are bad.
4. Oysters come from the sea.
5. We are in the middle of Utah!!!
6. Utah is very far from any ocean! (Yes, the Great Salt Lake and Utah Lake are fairly large bodies of water, but neither is known for producing oysters!) (Or anything else edible for that matter.)
7. They were being sold by a truck driver out of the back of his truck.
8. Again, this is a parking lot in the middle of Utah, not Pike's Place Market!

So, really, the thing that kept the guard from buying these scary oysters was that there were too many of them?!?

There are no oceans or seas bordering Utah. It is not known for its seafood.

(Of course, we are in the middle of the Rocky Mountains. Maybe they were rocky mountain oysters? That might have made more sense, but it wouldn't have changed my answer. I am not going to buy bull testicles from some guy out of the back of his truck, either.)

That should have been the end of the questionable oysters, but it wasn't. Why not? Because I have a six-year-old daughter. Why would that matter? Well, because I have a six-year-old daughter, I have listened to the soundtrack of the movie Frozen approximately 492 493 times. And, because I have listened to the soundtrack of the movie Frozen approximately 493 494 times, I spent the whole evening singing "Do you want to buy some oysters?" to the tune of "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?"

Come on, sing it along with me! "Do you want to buy some oysters?"

In fact, the "Do You Want to Buy-Some-Oysters/Build-a-Snowman" song was so ingrained in my brain that the only way I could get it out was by watching the video for "Baby Monkey Riding On a Pig." (Watch the video twice and you will be singing "Baby Monkey" for the rest of your life.)

Why do I tell you this story? So that if someone comes up to you and asks "Do you want to buy some oysters," you will JUST SAY NO!!! (And if you have "Do You Want To Buy Some Oysters?" or "Baby Monkey Riding On a Pig" stuck in your brain, well, it's better than having to get your stomach pumped.)

[Special thanks to my lovely wife, Amber. My phone call with her about the questionable oysters served as the basis of this post. And to my friend Andy for infecting my brain with the "Baby Monkey" song.]

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Summer of the Slurpee

It's the Summer of the Slurpee!

I'm not exactly sure why it's the Summer of the Slurpee. Someone decided they wanted a Slurpee, other people liked it, and it escalated from there. (It wasn't me. I was not the instigator of the Summer of the Slurpee.) (French Toast Week? That was me. Baconpalooza? Guilty. Summer of the Slurpee? Innocent.)

Just to clarify, a Slurpee is a carbonated frozen ice drink available exclusively at 7-Eleven convenience stores. An Icee is similar to a Slurpee, kind of like an RC Cola is similar to a Coke. (Back when I was a kid Icees were sold at Kmart and other non-7-Eleven establishments.) Other stores now have drinks similar to a Slurpee, but there is only one real Slurpee.

There are a few factors why the Slurpees have been so popular this summer, other than, of course, their goodness. One factor: our air conditioner went out for almost a week. It was very hot outside. It was even hotter inside. A cold Slurpee is a very good thing on a very hot day.

Another factor: tonsils. Our four-year-old, Buzz, had his tonsils taken out. To help ease the pain in his throat, the doctor suggested ice cream, popsicles, and Slurpees. I was a bit surprised to find that, given the choice, Buzz would pick Slurpees over popsicles. My wife says it's because he doesn't like the sticks in the popsicles.

My boy is just like me! I have never been a very big fan of popsicles, either. And for the very same reason, because I don't like the sticks. That's when it occurred to me: popsicle sticks are like the bones of a popsicle! I don't like bones in my food (see my previous post, No Bones About It) and I don't like sticks in my popsicles. If I can't eat it, I don't want it! That's why I've always liked ice cream sammiches more than fudgesicles or popsicles.

Anyway, that's why the Slurpee was Buzz's choice when it came for something cold and wet to ease his scratchy throat. Hence the Summer of the Slurpee!

Beat the Heat with a Slurpee! (I wonder if that's how the San Antonio Spurs won?)

Our local 7-Eleven is featuring a flavor called the "LeBron James Sprite 6 Mix." I tried to get one for my wife the day after Game 1 of the NBA Finals, which is the game where LeBron James sat out much of the 4th quarter of the game because of cramps in his legs. I say I "tried" to get the Slurpee, because when the cup got three-quarters of the way full, the machine stopped working, pretty much just like LeBron. The day after Game 2 (in which LeBron played quite well and his team won) the "LeBron James Sprite 6 Mix" Slurpee machine worked just fine. (I didn't happen to try the machine after Games 3, 4, or 5, all of which were losses by LeBron's team. It's probably just as well.)

But, for all the Slurpees that have been consumed in our house this summer, I haven't had very many. Why? Because when I drink I'm a guzzler, not a sipper. Give me a cool, refreshing carbonated beverage and I will glurgle it down in just a few seconds. My Mom always said, "You don't even taste it, you drink it down so fast!" But she's wrong; I do taste it. And that's the way I enjoy a drink. I like to guzzle.

Unfortunately, you can't guzzle a Slurpee. I tried to guzzle the first Slurpee I had during the Summer of the Slurpee, and I ended up with the dreaded "ice cream headache," also known as the "brain freeze!" "Brain freeze" is that debilitating sharp pain in your forehead from eating or drinking something cold too quick. To call it simply a "headache" is like saying Lindsay Lohan is a "bit rambunctious."

So, since that first "brain freeze" of the summer, I've been very careful to just sip and not guzzle. Mostly I just do my daddy duty as "official food finisher" and finish off the remains of the Slurpees that the kids leave in their cups when they get tired of them and decide to go off and play. (The Slurpees are warmer by then, and less likely to give me the Brain Freeze.)

One of the distinctive features of the Slurpee experience is the spoon-straw. It is a straw with a little spoon scoop at the end.

I wasn't sure what this thing was called, so I was a bit surprised to find that it is officially called a "spoon-straw." Everyone knows that a fork/spoon combination is called a "spork." So why isn't a spoon-straw called a "spraw" or a "stroon?"

Spraw? Stroon?

I think we should decide here and now. Is it a spraw? Or is it a stroon? (Personally, I think I favor "stroon.")

In the long run it probably doesn't matter. Because just like the fork part of the spork isn't very effective (have you ever actually been able to stab something with a spork?), the spoon part of the stroon (spraw?) doesn't do much good, either. It's hard to scoop up much with a stroon.

The Summer of the Slurpee has made me think back to my childhood. I grew up in the small town of Arimo, Idaho (population 300-ish.) When we did any shopping, we would have to take the 30-mile drive to the "big city" of Pocatello. We would usually make this trip two or three times a week.

When we would leave the "city" to head back home, we would usually stop somewhere to get a drink for the ride home. Sometimes we would stop at Tasty-Treet to get an ironport. (A carbonated beverage made in the heavens!) Sometimes we would stop at Del's Thrifty Market and get a bottle of pop.

But sometimes we would stop at the 7-Eleven and get a Slurpee! This was especially desirous in the mid-70s when the Slurpees came in Marvel super-hero cups! Nothing would make me quite as happy as riding down the road with my Iron Man or Fantastic Four cup filled with a root beer flavored Slurpee!

(As long as I didn't drink it too fast. BRAIN FREEZE!)

Thursday, June 5, 2014

No Bones About It

I hate bones. (Except, of course, for Dr. Leonard McCoy and Temperance Brennan.)

I have a pretty simple philosophy when it comes to food: If you don't want me to eat it, don't put it on my plate!

It probably started with the fish.

When I was growing up, my grandparents had a pond with fish in it on their farm. We called it "The Fish Pond." (We were pretty clever back then.) Grandpa stocked The Fish Pond with lots of large trout. We didn't go fishing very often, usually only when cousins would come from out of town to visit.

My cousin Jim (lost in the shadows), me, my sister Lynette, my brother John, and my Uncle Harvey. It's hard to see, but in front of my brother and sister is a line with at least a half dozen large trout on it.

You would think that having access to The Fish Pond would make it so I liked to go fishing and eat fish. The exact opposite was true. It turned me off from fishing in the "wild" because I was used to catching a large trout with every two or three casts into the water. (The success rate of fishing in the real world is not nearly so high.)

And, it turned me away from wanting to eat fish. First of all, we had to gut our own fish, which was not a particularly pleasant experience. And then when the fish were cooked, there were the bones. Lots and lots of bones.

Whenever I would try to eat the fish, some concerned adult would emphasize, "Don't eat the bones! You might choke on them!" Sounds simple enough, but for a young kid it is sometimes hard to differentiate the fish from all those small bones. I was always fearful I was going to end up hacking, coughing, and possibly croaking because a bone got stuck in my throat. I did not like to eat fish. 

And then I discovered the Filet 'O Fish at McDonald's! Fish with NO BONES!!! I could eat it without fear of death! Plus, it came with a slice of cheese, a bun, tartar sauce, and a deep-fried skin coating! Perfection! Why in the world would I ever eat fish with bones in them ever again?

Filet 'O Fish: Tasty without even a hint of death.

Up until that point, the drumstick had always been my favorite piece of chicken. This was because: A) It came with an easy to hold handle; and 2) That's the only piece we were given, because Mom and Dad kept the good pieces (you know, the ones with meat on them) for themselves.

Then I learned that they made boneless chicken, too, as a filet or nuggetized! Why in the world should anyone put chicken with bones in it on my plate when they could be serving me chicken with NO BONES?

Sometimes they would even try to get me to eat a wing. Wings!  Really? Wings? Needless to say, I am not a big fan of the ratio of meat to bone on a chicken wing.

And yet, wings are a very popular American food item. I don't understand. I just don't get it. At least two national restaurant chains, "Buffalo Wild Wings" and "Winger's," have named themselves after these bony little pieces of gristle. (Although a few years ago Winger's tried to distance themselves by changing their name to "Winger's Roadhouse Grill," which I thought was a rather foolish marketing ploy. Most places change their name to shorten it (KFC) not make it longer. Who is going to say "Let's go to Winger's Roadhouse Grill" when they could just say "Let's go to Winger's?" And the abbreviated "WRG" doesn't exactly roll off of the tongue, either.)

(On the flip side, I guess naming your chicken restaurant "Breasts" might not be the best idea, either.)

Recently, I went to the drive-thru at Little Caesar's and saw this:
Now serving 8 tasty varieties of flavored chicken bones!

Why? Does anyone know anybody who has ever gotten chicken wings from Little Caesar's? And if so (which I doubt) has anyone in the world tried all eight flavors? I just don't get it.

I've lived most of my life in Idaho or Utah, neither of which is known as a hotbed for seafood. So, I haven't had lobster or crab very often. But, the few times I have tried them, I've been perplexed by what comes out on my plate.

First, I tried crab legs. I really enjoyed the taste…of what I was supposed to eat. I just wasn't quite sure what I was supposed to eat and what I was not supposed to eat. There was a lot of cracking and scraping and scooping and breaking going on. Just give me the part that is edible! I don't think that's asking for too much!

And then, when we summered at The Cape, I had some lobster. (When I say "we summered at The Cape," what I actually mean is that time we spent four days on vacation at Cape Cod. "Summered at The Cape" sounds more hoity-toity, and I'm all for taking any opportunity I can to make myself seem hoity and/or toity.)

They brought out the lobster and all I could see was shell and claws and a face! (The only foods that should have a face are a gingerbread man and a chocolate chip pancake.)

Face it: eating a lobster can get messy.

I was given special tools to use to open up my lobster. A hammer, a chisel, pliers, wire cutters, a saw, and something that resembled a nutcracker. I'm sorry, but when I'm eating the only tools I should need are a fork, spoon and knife. They're called utensils! If I wanted to play with a tool box I would have become a mechanic!

I eventually cracked and chiseled and pried some meat out of my lobster shell, and it was very tasty. But I could have done without all the shell-cracking rigmarole. 

I even occasionally have a beef with beef! Lots of people like a big t-bone in their steak. Not me. And some steaks come with little pockets of fat attached that I'm never sure if I'm supposed to eat or not.

Rib meat, of course, would be better without the actual rib. (I guess that would just make it "meat.") (I'm okay with that.)

Pork chops? More pork, less chop.

And parsley sprig garnishes are barely worth mentioning. (So I just barely did.)

I also don't have any use for watermelon rinds or seeds, apple cores, or orange peels.

Yes, if I need to I can work my way around these non-edible things that are served with my food. But that's not how I prefer it. If I can't eat it, I don't want it on my plate!

That's why I like hamburgers so much. Not once has anyone ever tried to serve me a hamburger with the cowhide still attached!


Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Honeymoon Is Over

Today is a big day! My sister-in-law is getting married!

(Congratulations, Kimmie and Colten!!!)

I'm very happy for them. I'm also very happy that The Groom has a plan for their honeymoon. He's keeping it secret from The Bride until after the wedding. All he has told her is that she might need her passport. And then, the day after the wedding, they will leave for their fun-filled honeymoon trip to someplace-or-other! He has it all planned out.

I didn't.

When The Wife and I got married, my honeymoon plan was: Let's drive south and see what we can find. (You're right, that wasn't actually a "plan," was it?)

To be fair, it seemed like a decent idea at the time. We got married in the middle of January in Utah. (They had the Winter Olympics here for a reason.) The day we got married it was bitterly cold. (Some have joked it was because of "hell freezing over before Joe ever gets married.")

So, having a honeymoon anywhere north, where it is even colder, seemed out of the question. "Driving south" seemed like a good idea.

St. George, Utah, is called as "Utah's Dixie." It is a popular destination because it is known to have much warmer temperatures than the rest of Utah. The word "balmy" has been used.

When we arrived in St. George on our honeymoon, the temperature was in the single digits and the palm trees were frozen.

From there we went to Zion's National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park. When we got out of the car to go to the visitor's center at Bryce Canyon, the temperature was -17. (That's 17 degrees below zero!!!) We barely got out of the car long enough to pose for a frozen picture to prove that we were there.

So cold. So very, very cold.
It was like Queen Elsa had been there on a rampage! (Sorry, my kids made me watch Frozen again yesterday.)

So, my honeymoon planning was not the best.

Another good point about actually planning the honeymoon: If you plan it, you probably won't end up spending a night at a Motel 6. (As a note to all future honeymoon-planning guys: No woman wants to stay at a Motel 6 on their honeymoon! What you may think of as "frugality" will actually come across as "cheap.")

So, I wish the happy couple the best today on their wedding day! I'm glad The Groom has a plan. As some of us have tried to guess what his plan is and where they are actually going on their honeymoon, we brainstormed what could be the worst places for a honeymoon. Here are some ideas:

*A pirate cruise to Somalia!
*A week of camping in Nebraska!
*Iceland! (Which actually wouldn't be that bad, because apparently it is quite green there.)
*Greenland! (Which actually would be bad, because it is pretty icy there.)
*Lake Titicaca! (Probably not a bad place; the junior high boy in me still just thinks it's funny to say.)

Or, they could just get in a car and drive south.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Helping My Kids Pick a Billion-Dollar Bracket

It happens every year. The descent into madness.

March Madness.

I'm old, so I've been picking a bracket every year for a long, long time. I've never won anything, or done particularly well at it, but I enjoy making the picks. (I had a roommate when I was a Mormon missionary in 1986 who correctly predicted Louisville over Duke in the finals. Had he submitted it, he could have won a Ford Fiero sportscar. It would have been a big upgrade from the Plymouth Reliant we were driving at the time. I don't think the mission president would have approved.)

After I got married, I continued making picks, and I talked The Wife into filling out a bracket, too. So, of course, for the first four years of our marriage she cleaned my clock with her brackets. Every single year her picks were better than mine, and it usually wasn't even close.

When we started having kids, we thought it would be fun to have the kids pick a bracket, too. When Roni was old enough to know her letters, we would have her pick teams based on the first letter of the school name. This led to some crazy looking brackets.

As the years have gone by, I've been able to steer the kids towards making better picks. Maybe a little too good. I'm afraid both of their brackets will be better than mine this year.

How we do it is I will tell the kids the names of the two teams matching up for a game, and ask them who will win. A few years ago I figured out that the kids will usually pick the last team that I name. For instance, if I say "Albany or Florida?" they will almost always say "Florida." So, when I give them the names of the schools, I always say the name of the school with the higher-numbered seed first, so that the kids are more likely to choose the team that is favored to win.

(A quick aside: I have a hard time knowing what people mean when they say a "higher seed" and a "lower seed." In a 1-seed vs. 16-seed matchup, which do you call the higher seed? The 1-seed is the higher ranked team, but the 16-seed is the higher numbered team. When I hear someone say something like "I like it when the high seeds advance," I'm not sure if they mean they like it when the best teams advance, or if they want a lot of upsets. I guess I'm just easily confused.)

I say the kids usually pick the team that is favored, but not always. Sometimes they'll latch onto a team that has a "fun" name to say. Or maybe a team will remind them of something else. Two years ago Roni had Murray State going to the Final Four because it put her in mind of the character Murray from Sesame Street.

Needless to say, if there were a Little Mermaid University, or Iron Man State, my kids would pick them to win it all.

A billion-dollar bracket? Doubtful.

This year, Roni picked Oklahoma in the first round because, "Oklahoma is interesting." But, she has them losing to San Diego State in the second round because Diego is a friend of Dora the Explorer.

She also picked George Washington to make it to the Final Four because, and I quote, "George Washington was the prophet." (That's a bit of a Mormon thing. Mormons call the president of their church the "prophet," so Mormon kids sometimes get confused between presidents of the church and presidents of the country.)(Of course, based on the political leanings of most Mormons, there's not much chance of a Mormon kid calling President Obama the prophet.) (Although if Romney had won the election it might have been more confusing.)

She likes Villanova, mostly because she likes saying "Villanova." She also has VCU going all the way to the Elite Eight, possibly because she likes the alphabet. In the end, Roni picked Kansas to win it all this year in part because her cousin/best friend Cami used to live in Kansas.

Meanwhile, Buzz has a few more upsets in his bracket. He has St. Joseph's winning a couple of games because he loves his dad and his dad is named Joseph. "Wofford" is more fun to say than "Michigan," so that could be a big 15-over-2 upset to look for.

Buzz likes Stephen F. Austin to win a couple of games, though I'm not sure why because he is not familiar with either Stone Cold Steve Austin, the professional wrestler or Steve Austin, the Six-Million-Dollar Man.

Buzz picked "You-lee-ville" to win a couple of games. (Louisville.)

Buzz's best answer came when I asked him who would win between San Diego State and Arizona. His answer? "Sandazona State." I asked him three times, and he kept mumbling "Sandazona State." A word of warning to Buzz's future teachers: If you give him a true/false quiz, be prepared to get this as an answer:
True? False? Sure, whichever. 

Ultimately, Buzz likes Wichita State, and he has picked them to win it all. When I asked him why he kept picking Wichita State, he said it was because he thought they were a "nice witch."

Despite some of their outlandish picks, both Buzz and Roni have some respectable Final Four teams. Buzz has Wichita State, Florida, San Diego State and Iowa State. Roni has Kansas, Duke, Arizona, and president George Washington. (The Wife has Virginia winning with Duke, Kansas and Wisconsin filling out the Final Four. And me? Florida over Wichita State, with Michigan State and Wisconsin.)

Of course, this year there is some extra incentive to pick a perfect bracket. Multi-billionaire Warren Buffet and Quicken Loans are sponsoring a contest that will give a billion dollars if someone picks a perfect bracket.

A billion dollars!!! (That's $1,000,000,000!!!) Every time anyone fills out a bracket, there's always that hope, that dream, that maybe this time I'll get every pick right. Hey, it could happen. Not likely, but it could happen. Sure, the odds are about nine-billion to one, but it is possible. ("So, you're telling me there's a chance.")

My fear? That this is the year that I get a perfect bracket. Why would I fear this? Because when I went to enter my bracket into the billion-dollar contest, I was too late. They had already closed the contest. (Yet one more reason why they call me "Slow Joe.") It would be tragic if I lost out on a billion dollars because I didn't get my bracket entered in time.


Okay, so I needn't have worried. The first game of the day was Dayton vs. Ohio State. I picked Ohio State. So, of course, Dayton won. And, with only five games in the books, my kids and The Wife all have losses as well. (The Wife correctly picked Harvard's upset of Cincinnati. Her mistake was sticking with her alma mater, BYU, over Oregon.)

Oh well, next year I'm sure that billion dollars will be ours! (Especially if the University of Cinderella or Hulk State wins it all.)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Are You As Smart As a Five Year Old?

I'm a fairly smart guy.

I got good grades in high school. I scored quite well on my college entrance exam. I have a college degree. I've never fallen for that "Nigerian prince" e-mail scam or believed that Bill Gates would send me money for liking a Facebook post.

I'm a fairly smart guy.

But, I'm not as smart as my wife.

So, it would figure that our kids would be smart, too. I long ago came to the conclusion that one day my kids would be smarter than me. I just didn't think it would happen so soon.


Yesterday when we sat down for breakfast I learned one of the disadvantages of having a kindergartener who can read on a sixth grade level. We were having cereal, which is, of course, the favorite of the kids. (At times they have argued against french toast and/or waffles in favor of cold cereal!) We try to let them have cereal only a couple of times a week, and we try to keep them away from the super-sugary marshmellowy cereals. (No Lucky Charms or Froot Loops here!) (Maybe if the Loops were made with "Fruit" instead of "Froot" we'd let our kids eat them!)

They were eating Chocolate Cheerios. Roni had the box right in front of her. Suddenly, she says, "I want to have a good heart, so I should eat these every day." (It says on the box, "May Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease." The word "May" makes the whole claim seem a little questionable to me. I mean, what's to keep them from saying things like "May Help You Become a Better Quarterback," or "May Help You Be a Better Piano Player," or "May Reduce the Risk of Stubbing Your Toe.")

"May" reduce your chance of being called for jury duty.

Roni continued. "I eat these so I can have a good heart." She then tried to get her three-year old brother involved. The exchange went like this:

Roni: "Don't you want a good heart, Buzz?"
Buzz (not understanding what his sister was trying to get him to say): "No. I want Chocolate Cheerios."
Roni (to me): "I want a good heart."
Buzz: "No. I want Chocolate Cheerios!"
Roni: "I want a good heart."
Buzz: "I want Chocolate Cheerios."
Me (to Roni): "You have a good heart." (To Buzz): "And you have Chocolate Cheerios." (To both): "So, I think you are both doing okay."

And truthfully, she does have a good heart. (Although I'm not sure how much the Chocolate Cheerios have to do with it.)


Later in the evening, I learned a lesson about using sarcasm with a sharp-witted five year old.

Roni was putting her fingers in her milk. Which, of course, is something she shouldn't be doing. The conversation went something like this:

Me: "Get your fingers out of your milk! What kind of land do you live in where you think it's okay to put your fingers in your milk?"

Roni (takes fingers out of milk and thinks for a second): "Ummm… FingersInMilkLand. It's a long ways away. Nowhere near Belgium. Nowhere near Kansas. Actually, it's close to Hawaii. Have you ever been to Hawaii?"

Me: "No."

Roni: "Well, then, it's really close to Hawaii. And close to another place you would really love. It's right next to the Land of Cheese."

She knows my weaknesses. (Mmmm....cheese!) Her misdirection ploy worked, because I momentarily forgot about the fingers in the milk and was instead thinking of the Land of Cheese. (Mountains of Swiss with lots of caves to explore! And rivers of molten Velveeta!)

(On the plus side, Roni didn't put her fingers in her milk again.) (That I know of.)


This morning I went and played basketball with some of the neighborhood guys. I wore an old "Star Trek the Next Generation" t-shirt that I got at my first "Star Trek" convention. (Yes, I've been to more than one "Star Trek" convention.) (Hasn't everyone?)

When I got home, Roni looked at my shirt and started to read it.

Can you believe it's been over 20 years since Star Trek: The Next Generation went off the air? Dang, I'm getting old!

She picked out two things to ask me about. 1) "Q's Visiting Again," and B) "Drinking with Guinan."

In trying to explain the character of "Q" I ended up using the word "mischievous," which I then had to define for her. I tried to keep my description of "Q" fairly vague, because I didn't want her fixating on him like she has recently with the characters from Star Wars. She's never seen any of the Star Wars movies, but a classmate told her about the movies so now she feels like she knows the characters. Just the other day she said had been "teaching Han Solo how to sing like Ariel." (Hmmm…Star Wars meets The Little Mermaid! They're both owned by Disney now, so as crazy as it sounds, it just might work!)

And as far as Guinan is concerned, I explained to Roni that she is a nice, friendly, smart person who wears really silly hats. So, if Roni compares you to Guinan, take it as a compliment. (But think about wearing a different hat next time.)


So, am I smarter than a five year old? It depends on the five year old. 

Am I smarter than my five year old? It depends on the subject. 

But, by the time she's seven I won't stand a chance.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Joe Vs. The Toilet

My wife is inspirational.

On Thanksgiving she was doing some laundry and discovered that the washing machine was no longer agitating. The fact that the agitator was not agitating was aggravating and agitating to both The Wife and myself. The washer is more than ten years old, and we've had a repairman come to the house on two earlier occasions to replace a broken part in the agitator.

We discussed the situation and thought it might be time to get a new washing machine. It's old and not really worth another $125 for the repairman to come out and fix it again. This posed several problems:

1) If you get a brand new washing machine, you pretty much have to get a new dryer, too. Our current dryer still works. Not great, but it still works. But, it is also old, and you usually get a better deal when you buy them as a set.

That leads to, 2) A new washer and dryer cost money. Lots of money. We do not have a mason jar full of let's-get-a-new-washer-and-dryer cash buried in our back yard. (Unless the previous home owners left us some unknown hidden treasures.)

C) If we did get a new washer/dryer, that would mean going to the store to make that purchase. Did I mention this happened on Thanksgiving? That would mean we would have to go to the store on Black Friday to shop for the washer. I don't intend to go Black Friday shopping again any time soon. (See: Black Friday Shopping.) The thought of fighting those crowds was even less enticing than the thought of spending that much money.

That's when The Wife decided to think outside the box and do something I never would have thought to do. She decided to try to fix it herself! Her thinking was, "We have nothing to lose." Either she would fix it, and all would be well, or she would not fix it and we would have to buy a new washing machine, which is what we would have to do anyway if she didn't try.

So, she ripped apart the washer and found the part that was broken in the agitator. (I think it was between the widget arm and the flux capacitor.) She then looked it up on the interwebs and ordered a new part from Amazon.com. The cost? $4.

Certainly worth more than $4.

Thanks to Amazon Prime's* 2-day shipping, the part arrived on Monday. The Wife took the part downstairs and got the washing machine fixed up lickety-split! (Or is that "lickety-spit?") (And what does that even mean, anyway?)

[*No promotional considerations were given to me by Amazon Prime for this free plug. But I'd be willing to field offers.]

My wife is amazing! With just a little bit of gumption and effort she was able to save us hundreds of dollars! We once again have a working washing machine!


A few weeks later, I had an argument with the toilet.

For a couple of months the toilet in our guest/kid's bathroom had been acting unruly. Sometimes it would hiss uncontrollably. Sometimes it would take two or three flushes to get everything down. Sometimes I would have to hold the handle down for five seconds to get it to flush. Sometimes jiggling the handle would make the hissing stop. Sometimes it wouldn't.

The problem was I could find no reasonable rhyme as to when or why it would do any of these things. There was no discernible pattern as to why those things were happening or how exactly I could make them stop.

That toilet was my nemesis.

My nemesis! (Don't let its calm demeanor fool you. This was a mean, nasty toilet!)

One day, while The Wife was at work and I was home with the kids, the toilet wouldn't stop hissing. I took the lid off to see if I could jiggle, jangle, or otherwise coerce a cease to the hiss. I was seriously thinking about getting The Wife a new toilet for Christmas. (Nothing says "love" like a new toilet!)

That's when  I saw that the floaty ball was full of water. Now, I'm not a plumber (despite what you might think from that gap between the top of my pants and the bottom of my shirt), and I'm about as far from being "Mr. Fix-It" as you can get (See: Joe Fix-It Strikes Out), but even I know that the toilet floaty ball is not supposed to be full of water!

It was then that I used my wife as inspiration: Instead of buying a whole new toilet, maybe I could actually fix the darn thing! And if I couldn't? Well, I guess I could use the money (that we didn't have) that we saved from not buying a new washing machine to buy a new toilet. I had nothing to lose.

So, I went to a strange, foreign place: the hardware store. Unfortunately, they didn't sell just the floaty ball, so I had to buy an entire set of toilet innards. And then it was time to try to actually fix the toilet.

It ended up being much easier than I thought. The hardest part turned out to be extricating the floaty ball from the plastic packaging in which the toilet innards had been encased. I got the floaty ball in place, and it actually floated! No more hissing! No more jiggling! No more jangling! (Although I'll still jangle every once in a while, just for the fun of it.)  Sure, it was three times more expensive than The Wife's fix ($12 for toilet innards compared to $4 for agitator parts), but it was certainly worth it!

Lesson learned? If something is broken down and not working right, instead of throwing it out and buying a new one, maybe you should try to fix it. You've got nothing to lose!

(Hmm...I wonder if this approach would work for Congress?)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

You Say You Want a Resolution


Yes, it's that time. It's time to look at things with a fresh set of bleary eyes. It's time to shake things up and start anew. It's time to start using words like "anew" more often.

It's time for some New Year's resolutions. Here we go:

*I will be more happy this year.

*I will get caught singing in my car when stopped at intersections. And when I do, I will KEEP SINGING!

*I will actually sell something I write for money.

*I will do something to make my wife smile every day.

*I will eat more vegetables.

*I will read at least two books every month.

*I will make my kids laugh. Often.

*I will do a better job of showing my appreciation to my family and friends for all they do for me.

*I will not eat anything out of the vending machines at work for the entire year of 2014.

Has anyone ever made a resolution to eat MORE vending machine food? (I don't think so.)

*At some point this year the first number of my weight will not be a "2." (That means either gaining 80 pounds or losing 20.) (I'm not sure which would be easier.)

*I will be more fun and less fungible.

*I will eat cheese. (I like cheese.)

*I will increase my everyday vocabulary. But, not to the point that I sound pretentious, just enough to occasionally confuse people and make them want to look up words in the dictionary. (Admit it, you're still wondering what "fungible" means, aren't you? I'll admit, I didn't know. I was going to say I would be more fungible this year until I looked the word up and found out the actual meaning.)

*I will climb every two mountains. One of them will be Oxford Peak in Idaho. (I'm serious about this, Andy!)

*I will never get more than three days behind in my journal. (My wife will like this. She gets tired of me trying to get caught up on my journal and asking things like, "Hey, what did we do a week ago on Tuesday?")

*I will get a new job. (I'm 47 years old. It's time I got a career instead of just having a job.)

*I will play more with my kids.

*I will be more confident and less afraid.

*I will write a song.

*I will change the sheets more often.

*I will appreciate my kids more. (People are always saying, "Appreciate your kids while they are this little. Time goes by too fast." So, I will do that.) (Maybe I will work on some sort of time machine to make these "good" years go by slower.)

*I will be nicer. (It's nice to be nice to the nice. And it's even nicer to be nice to the not so nice. It confuses them.)

*I will cook more.

*I will try a new recipe each month. (Cheese and/or bacon will most likely be prominently involved.)

*I will shave at least once a week, whether I need to or not.

*I will do new things.

*I will try new things. (To misquote Yoda, "Do or do not? I can always try.")

*I will clean the car.

*I will write a book. (I might not be finished by the end of the year, but I will at least be halfway through.)

*I will not gripe about the little things so much.

*I will work in the yard more.

*I will not use cuss words. Or curse words. Or swear words. (Dagnabbit, I'm serious about this!)

*I will exercise at least three times a week.

*I will take out my wife on more dates. (Sometimes even without the kids!) (And no, Walmart doesn't count.)

*I will be myself more. (I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not, but I'm going to find out.)