Thursday, December 29, 2011

Dog Day Off, Platypus Plays the Keytar, etc.

This post is sort of like those weekly grab bags that I used to do about once a month. Except there's no real theme to it, unless you count "unrelated funny stuff that I've come across lately." Lots of kids would say this post is really random, but I won't say that. (Please leave random alone! The poor word is so badly overworked and abused... Please let it rest!)

First off, an entry in Stuff George Carlin Said:

"What do dogs do on their day off? They can't lay around; that's their job."

I heard this and thought, Yeah, he's right. And then, Oh, to be a dog!

This is Cooper, our goldendoodle:

Guardian, protector, and supervisor of all canine tasks, ready to spring into action.

He has zero responsibilities in our household. His food, shelter, and entertainment are provided, free of charge. If he wants to run around or wrestle, he can. (This doesn't happen very often, because he is remarkably lazy). If he wants to sleep 18 hours a day, he can do that. (His usual tendency.) When he gets bored, he watches out the window and barks at our neighbors as they come and go from their own houses, or at innocent passers-by.

Occasionally I say to myself, "Self, maybe Cooper needs to get out for some exercise. It's important for dogs to get plenty of exercise. Let's take him jogging. It'll be good for him." I am not a big runner. In fact, I hate to run. Since it's supposedly good for me too, I've been known to jog once in a while. I say this to give you some perspective on my level of conditioning. Cooper cannot even keep up with me! Our Brittany, Kipper, used to pull me along with the leash, and my wife could skate uphill on her roller blades using him for propulsion. When I take Cooper, I have to pull him. So much for "Dogs need plenty of exercise."

We really should give Cooper a day off once in a while. I just don't know what he'd do with it.


I love Venn diagrams. I can't explain this. I like all kinds of charts and graphs, but especially well-designed Venns. I recently encountered one that made me laugh uncontrollably. (I admit I was in a goofy mood at the time.)

Words can only detract from the awesomeness of this diagram.

To me, this is funny on so many levels. If you don't find it funny, I'm not sure I want you around me. If you do, we could probably be best friends. Come up with a Venn better than this, and you will win tremendous respect and admiration from me! I don't know where this originated, but I found it at Leisurefest Destiny, a blog filled with hilarious, sometimes amazing, and sometimes just bizarre pics and vids.


One more insanely funny thing that Leisurefest Destiny turned me onto is Flula, a German dude who puts videos on YouTube about his confusion with American idioms. LD reposted the one about Jennifer pooping at parties, but there are lots of other good ones. This is my favorite:

Saturday, December 24, 2011

I'm a Bona Fide Versatile Blogger

Hey everybody, it's official! What you're reading right now isn't just some wimpy guy's blog. It's my award winning blog. (I'm still kind of wimpy though.)

A few days ago, I was nominated for a Versatile Blogger Award by a very cool cat from New York who calls himself El Guapo. He enjoys surfing, used to cook for a living but now just does it for fun, and works in computer networking, which means he can get away with writing for his blog on company time. (If you are Guap's boss, don't read that last sentence!) Most importantly, he comes up with lots of cool stuff for us to read and/or listen to. His blog is called "Guapola: Being Pointless on the Internet. And Music!" and that description is about as accurate as you can get. He is very funny, very intelligent, and never boring. We've been conversing for a while, Guapo and I. In fact, he's co-editor of The Bozo List and contributes at least 50% of the content on that page.

Although we come from very different backgrounds, Guapo and I see eye-to-eye on most things, and I was very flattered to receive this award from him. (Versatile Blogger is one of those awards that you automatically win when somebody nominates you.)

Here's how it works. When you get the Versatile Blogger, you're supposed to do the following:

1) Nominate 15 other bloggers (See below; I'll come close.)

2) Inform them of the nomination (Notifications are on their way.)

3)  Share 7 random things about yourself (also below)

4) Thank the blogger who nominated you (I think I did this already, but here it is again: Muchos gracias, El Guapo!)


5) Add the Versatile Blogger logo to your post (Done.)


It was not easy to come up with enough nominations, because I only read a few dozen blogs on a regular basis, and several of those already got the award. (Guapo took some of my favorites, arrgh!) Others that I follow are hugely popular and probably above the minor league recognition of a beginner like me.

In no particular order:

Five Legs Between Us
   A tripod dog blog. Seriously. It deals a lot with the blogger's three-legged dog, but also with other stuff in her life. She is always concise, clever, and intelligent. She's also very funny. One of my favorite blogs.

Cajun Asian Chronicles
   This lady is half Cajun, half Philippine, and all funny. (Does that not say versatile to you?)

Slightly Serious
   Picture a cool, smart, and somewhat sarcastic single lady looking for good guys to date in San Diego. Got it? Well, you don't have to imagine any more, because she's real!

Telling Dad
   A very prolific writer, this guy updates his blog almost every day, and he's very good. Everything about the blog is polished, professional looking. He writes mostly about his family, with some other topics thrown in from time to time. The best part: Telling Dad Blog is an F-bomb free zone. You won't encounter any vulgar language there. I might also mention that he has his own fire truck! How cool is that?

La Petite Pancake
   This Minnesotan transplanted to California writes mainly about cooking, but also about her wedding preparations, her pug, and a variety of other fun topics.

What's up, Doc?
   Unlike most of the bloggers I follow, this guy is a real acquaintance of mine, outside the blogosphere. He is incredibly smart and hilarious, and he works in the ER of a big-city hospital. If that doesn't offer plenty of fun material, nothing will.

Susan Says
   I've just recently begun following this one, but it looks very intelligent, well-written, and interesting. Looking forward to seeing what Susan is all about.

So Far From Heaven
   El Guapo turned me onto this one. A fascinating blog by Old Jules, a 69-year-old man from the Texas boonies who writes on topics such as astronomy, independent living, and Native Americans. He's very well read, often makes me laugh, and always makes me think.

Finding the Humor
   This blogger is a mother, but she's more versatile than the typical "mommy blogger." She's really good at laughing at herself, and she finds lots of reasons to do so.

Belly Billboard
   A big hairy guy who calls himself Gutmeister writes this hysterical, sometimes crude blog. For five bucks, he'll also write whatever you want on his belly with lipstick and post pictures of it online. What would you expect from a blog called Belly Billboard?

   The cool factor in the title translates to everything else in this blog. This lady is consistently great and almost always makes me giggle.

   This guy writes about his own experiences and memories, sometimes in poetry. I'm not sure what else to say, except that you should probably see it for yourself. So much depends on... 

Okay, so the assignment called for 15, and I got 12. That's a B- grade... not so good. But in baseball, I'd be batting .800, which is beyond phenomenal. In future posts, I'll keep pointing out good blogs as I discover them, and keep my focus on the smaller, yet-undiscovered ones, since I feel that's kind of the intent of awards like Versatile Blogger. 


Now, seven random things about me:

1) I have two thumbs on my left hand.

2) I am fond of making up pointless lies about myself, especially regarding things like extra digits.

3) I hate the word random, mostly because I feel it is way overused by kids today. Most of its original meaning is lost, and it's now used in many contexts to which its real definition does not apply at all. It's perhaps my least favorite word.

4) I was nearly kidnapped from a K-Mart store when I was 4 or 5 years old. No kidding, a lady was carrying me out of the store, fully intent (I believe) on taking me away from my family. Just before she reached the door, my grandma saw her and said, "Put him down! He's ours." The lady set me down and left quickly, and I'm 98% sure that is a good thing. Although, I can't help wondering if that day I came within 20 seconds of starting a life as a highly trained, top-secret international assassin.

5) I spent two years as a missionary for my church, in North Carolina, in the late 1980s.

6) This might count as several things, but I think I can get away with it if I list them all together. I've worked in hotel housekeeping, at a mall toy store right before Christmas, as a soil technician (yes, that's a real job, and no, it's not a fancy term for ditch digger), as a writing tutor, and as a super high-tech jet fighter mechanic, among other professions.

7) I've spent time on every continent except Antarctica. And Africa. Oh, and South America. And only a few hours here and there in Europe, where my travels were limited to the confines of several airport terminals. Come to think of it, I really haven't been too many places, but I love to travel when I get the chance.


El Guapo, thanks once again for roping me into this thing Weenie Girl termed a "mutual adoration society." And thanks to all the bloggers who continually tickle, entertain, stimulate, and/or inspire me.

Blogger Went All Korean On Me

I took a little trip to Korea earlier this week, which gave me an opportunity to piggy-back on my last post, about the dual-language signs back home. (I'd been planning that post for a few weeks, but just got around to it at the same time my latest adventures brought new meaning to it.)

After getting settled into the hotel, I fired up my laptop to see if the wi-fi works, send Wifey-san an email, and check some of my favorite blogs. Did you know that a lot of sites, like YouTube (no big deal) and Blogger (kind of a problem) auto-detect your location and set language defaults accordingly? Here's what the top part of my Blogger dashboard looked like:

And the menus? Yeah, they were filled with nonsensical chicken scratchings too. I managed to find the place where you can select your language and got it switched back to English, so I can work my blog again. While surfing around, I come across lots of sites with no letters, just squiggly little characters all over the place.

My friend who's been here a while gave me a cell phone so I can keep in touch.
(In other words, I can call for help when I get hopelessly lost.) I decided to try it out, and guess what? It's a Korean phone. The dialing buttons have regular numbers and letters, plus the little squiggles, but the menu buttons and most of what appears on the screen are all Korean. How do they even read this stuff? I started experimenting, just pushing lots of buttons to see if I could make it do what I want. That didn't work. So my friend showed me what's what on it, and I remembered for about 5 minutes. That was Thursday. I'll probably never make a call with this thing.

We went out for dinner the other night, and it's a good thing I was with people who know how to order at the restaurant, find their way around the city, etc. When you travel to a foreign country, it's helpful to know a few phrases in the local language. Still difficult, but helpful. My Korean is limited to, let's see... exactly zero words. I can't even say, "I'm an American. Please don't hurt me. I'll give you all my money if you show me back to my hotel and leave my kidneys where they are." I sure hope I never get separated from the group.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Un Blog Sobre Idiomas

In the U.S. of A. nowadays, we see lots of stuff written in both English and Spanish. I guess that’s okay, because it helps our immigrants from south of the border. If I were to visit their country, I’d like to see signs and instructions in my language. (I would, of course, try hard to learn theirs if I were staying long-term… just sayin’)

Here’s a sign I saw at a hospital sign-in desk recently:

I wouldn't expect a Spanish speaker to understand terms like “disability” and “ancestry” and “conditions of admission" in English. Since this hospital gets the occasional Hispanic patient, they’re wise to give the instructions in both languages.

Similarly, our local Best Buy store has a sign that warrants translation, because it has some pretty difficult words on it:

But this translation business can go too far. I recently filled out a form that was labeled in both English and French. It asked for lots of basic information, including the following:

Last Name / Nom
First Name / Prenom
Time / Heure
Religion /  Religion
Date / Date
Disposition / Disposition

I’m not sure all of these needed to be translated, but they all were, for the sake of consistency, I guess. Consistency is nice, I just think they could have saved the ink.

Another sign in Best Buy really makes me say "Huh?!" It's over their MP3 and iPod department:

If you can understand no written English at all, I think you could still grasp that “MP3 & iPod” means “MP3 y iPod.” Maybe it isn’t just consistency that drives these decisions. Maybe Best Buy’s reasoning in designing this sign went something like this:

We must translate it into Spanish, or our Hispanic customers will be lost! They’ll search in vain for the MP3s and iPods. They’ll surely give up and leave the store without making a purchase, because in their language, “&” is “y.” No, it’s unacceptable to print only “MP3 & iPod.” We must render it in both languages, replacing the “&” with a “y.”

Good call, Best Buy!

I've just made a long-awaited update to The Bozo List. Check it out!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Compared to the Joneses, We Look Really Bad

We have lots of friends and relatives who send out nice Christmas cards every year. Better yet, some send letters to catch us up with everything their families have been doing. Some even include pictures. We're not exactly that diligent.* So we feel a little guilty about all these thoughtful, unreciprocated messages that keep coming to our mailbox...

Then, last week we got one that really makes us seem inadequate. Here it is:

I masked out their eyes and first names to preserve their privacy, but I didn't bother
with the last name because really, "the Joneses" doesn't narrow it down much.

How does this card make us look bad? Because we don't even know these people! The woman has the same first name as one of my wife's college roommates and looks vaguely like her, but they haven't spoken in about 17 years. We're not even sure it's her, and if it is, why would she look us up after all this time?

This could be a family we've never met. The card did not get delivered to the wrong house, because our name was on the envelope, and the address was right. I kind of suspect that some complete strangers added us to their list just to make us feel even worse about failing to send anything ourselves, even to our loved ones. Thanks a lot, Jones family--it worked.

I'd like to take this moment to say a big Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all our friends and family, wherever you may be. And to the Joneses as well--we hope you have a great one, and thanks for thinking of us (show-offs).

- Brian, Celeste, and the Kids.

* "Not exactly that diligent" means we don't do it. Ever. Don't judge me!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

College degree, CHECK!

Hey, everyone. I'm BACK!

Hopefully I did not forever lose both of my readers by taking a two week break from my blog. I had a very stressful, homework-filled time, beginning around Thanksgiving and going up through Friday, December 9th. I got this idea that it would be nice to pass my classes, the last two needed for my degree. (I'm actually pretty conventional on things like this.) It seemed the only way that would happen was if I finished all my assignments. So that's what I've been occupied with lately, but now... I'm all done! Walked in the commencement, wore the cap and gown, got the dipoma (actually just a diploma cover, but they promised to send me the real thing).

It's been a long journey (six years), and often difficult, but also enriching. Now I'm looking forward to getting some sleep, catching up with my family, and rediscovering some of the hobbies I used to enjoy. Most of all, I'm looking forward to NOT spending hours upon hours in class and on homework.

I'll post some pictures later, and perhaps some reflections on Weber State University, my degree, and what I've learned in the past six years. For now, please check out The Bozo List, which I've just updated. (You have to scroll down, because the list is getting pretty long.)