Archive for the ‘Odds and Ends’ Category

Here’s the deal. I got married yesterday. It’s a pretty good story if you’ve got a few minutes (actually, it’s a pretty good story regardless of how much time you have…how busy you are right now has absolutely no bearing on the quality of this yarn). I’m going to start where most of my favorite stories start – at the beginning.

I met Heather in high school. I could try and be really romantic and pretend like I remember the very first moment our eyes met, but I haven’t a clue. I can rarely remember where I left my keys, how can I be expected to remember something that happened in the late eighties? But we did meet there. Probably on the school bus as she lived less than a mile down the road from me. This was rural Virginia, so the bus ride to school each day was almost an hour – which left us plenty of time to date and fall in love.

But we didn’t do that. Instead, I focused on growing a mustache and writing my blog (unfortunately, blogs hadn’t been invented yet and this turned out to be a huge waste of time), and she focused on using Aqua Net to try to set the record for biggest hair in Nelson County. It was a simpler time. We were merely friends in high school who were in a few school plays together and then lost touch after graduation.

Twenty years passed.

I experimented with goatees, mutton chops and some McBee facial hair originals.

Her hair was reduced to a normal volume.

aqua

We reconnected via social media. She did some light stalking and I, having not been pursued by a member of the opposite sex since the Carter administration, remained completely oblivious to the fact that she was flirting with me. But I eventually caught on and we became a couple. One of our first romantic outings was a trip to Disneyland in 2012 on a rare day of Southern Californian drizzle. Southern Californians get frightened when water falls from the sky, so they mostly stay indoors until the meteorologist reassures them that the sun is back and will remain so for the next 207 days. Which meant that we had the run of the park. Splash Mountain had no line at all at one point and we rode it again and again without ever exiting our buoyant log. It was a fantastic day.

Other stuff happened.

We briefly tried living on the East coast (the water that falls from the sky there is sometimes frozen! Terrifying!). I asked her if she might like to get married. We ate lots of pizza.

So. We actually got engaged in February of 2014 (I planned a scavenger hunt that culminated in her digging a cylinder out of the snow between two pine trees in the moonlight – it seemed romantic at the time, but it ended up being fairly labor intensive for her…not sure that proposals should include manual labor, but it worked out in the end). We entertained various ways and times we’d get married, but little life things kept popping up and we put an actual ceremony on the back burner.

This past year, work became more stable for me and it was feeling like the right time to have the government officially recognize the fact that Heather and I were committed to getting the tax breaks that every heterosexual deserves.

We decided to just do a small wedding for ourselves. (We love our families, but they insist on living in the wilderness of Virginia despite the fact that it’s on the entire other side of the country and has really spotty wi-fi). Besides, neither one of us cared for the pomp and circumstance that often accompanies a ceremony. All too often the bride and groom end up overstressed and lose focus of why they’re having a wedding in the first place (to get the tax breaks every heterosexual deserves, duh…I’ve repeated this joke, just to make it abundantly clear that I find it absurd that any person should get any additional rights based on who they prefer to make out with). Above all, we wanted it to be fun.

We thought about Vegas. Have Elvis marry us. This sounded cool until someone informed me of the fact that Elvis Presley had died many, many years ago and the guy who would marry us was nothing but (and this is 100% true) an impostor! I don’t know how he gets away with it legally, but whatever.

Will Atkinson, an Elvis impersonator, in Oxford, Miss. on Wednesday, November 9, 2011.

                 But it looks just like him…

Then I remembered our trip to Disneyland. Why not get married in the happiest place on Earth? Well, I’ll give you one reason. You can only get married in Disneyland if you purchase one of their wedding packages that start at Way-More-Money-Than-I-Would-Ever-Spend-On-A-Wedding and go all the way up to Way-More-Money-Than-I-Have-Ever-Seen-In-One-Place-Except-For-In-Movies-About-Bank-Robberies-Gone-Wrong.

But then I thought…what about a covert Disney wedding? What about a covert Disney wedding while actually on the Splash Mountain ride? What about a covert Disney wedding while actually on the Splash Mountain ride with an eight-tier, vanilla hazelnut cake with chocolate ganache, pistachio mousse and butter cream frosting? Then I thought – it totally won’t work with the cake, but other than that – yeah. This could be epic.

Just one problem. Who would we get to officiate this wacky sneak wedding? So, back to the past for a moment. From 2001-2007, I worked in LAUSD classrooms. This was a great job because (a) I made a lot of awesome eight-year old friends and (b) working in an elementary school made me feel like a genius because I knew so many more of the answers than the students. I was lucky, because the school I worked at just happened to be full of mostly super cool kids. I’ve roughly stayed in touch with some of them through social media. One of these kids, let’s call him…Danny (because that’s his name), had posted a lot of photos of himself and his gal pal at Disneyland over the past year. So I ran it by Heather and we thought, what the heck – let’s call him up and say, “Hey, remember the tall guy sitting in the back of your grade school classroom that kept shouting out all of the answers with astounding accuracy? How would you like to get ordained online and marry that guy to his former high school cast member and stalker on a log flume ride in a super secret wedding in two weeks?” And the craziest part? He said sure.

So Heather and I got the marriage license. Danny got ordained. Alex (Danny’s girlfriend) probably said, “Okay, who is this again? And what are we doing? And…oh, we’re going to Disneyland? I’m on board.” Heather created some signs to hold for our wedding pictures courtesy of the Splash Mountain photo booth. I wrote the ten second vows for Danny to read on the thirty seconds of the ride that we could videotape before descending into the splash portion of the mountain. And we all giggled to ourselves – this is really fun.

And yesterday we did it. Alex hid the signs in her backpack. We got into a log with two other random people who are probably still saying to themselves, “Nah, they didn’t really just get married on that ride. Did they?” We went up the first hill and as our log eased into the water, Danny said, “We’re gathered here today in this log to celebrate one of life’s great rides – marriage.” Then he asked us if we took each other. And darned if we didn’t. Then we smooched. Then Alex said, “Wait, which button do I push to record?” Then Heather told Alex which button to push to record. Then Danny said his stuff again. Then Heather and I said our stuff again. Then we smooched again (bonus smooch!). Then the guy behind us thought, “What the hell is going on in the front of this log?” Then Alex grabbed the signs from her backpack and handed them back to us. Then we went down the first drop and we got unbelievably soaked – I thought our log was going to sink we were taking on so much water. Then I fumbled with my cell phone and managed to take three pictures of Heather’s shoulder, the back of my hand, and a dark blur which could be anything. Then we went up the hill for the big drop, readied our signs and this is what we got –

the-plunge

Sure, we could have walked down an aisle and had a bouquet and all those other things you see in the movies about beautiful weddings that take place before a bank robbery gone wrong…but I really like our story. It’s fun and quirky and unique. Yes, we all got drenched – but it’s certainly better to have cold feet after a wedding than before. Yes, our wedding photo includes a couple from Iowa (or so I tell myself) who have no idea why the rest of the people in their log seem to be operating with military precision – but I love the idea that our unconventional tale will spawn others. And, yes, we didn’t get a chance to register – but that doesn’t mean you still can’t send us a gift. Seriously. We’re accepting gifts.

So that’s the story of what I did yesterday. Feel free to share it with others. We are living in a world that could stand a few more stories of love and fun and generosity. All of which we experienced yesterday. Because when we take the plunge…we really take the plunge.

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Here’s the deal. The earliest evidence of people using an adhesive dates back to the Middle Pleistocene era where stones were glued together using tar. That’s right, from the beginning of time humans have said: I must have food, I must have shelter, and I really want to stick this thing to that thing.

And here we are, 200,000 years later, and we still haven’t gotten it right.

For most of us, our first experience with adhesives is the paste that kindergarteners use as a tool for classroom art projects and a nutritional supplement. I don’t know what teachers expect, the container comes with a small, plastic tasting spoon. But don’t worry about the paste sticking to the child’s internal organs – this paste doesn’t stick to anything.

Next, we move on to Elmer’s glue – most useful for creating a secondary skin, wherein the gluee covers their fingers in glue and then, once it dries, peels it off. Again, it comes off quite easily due to the fact that this adhesive rarely adheres. Unless you’re gluing one piece of paper to another piece of paper, Elmer’s won’t do the job. And how often, after the age of eight, do we really find ourselves needing to glue one piece of paper to another piece of paper?

As adults, we develop more sophisticated glue needs. But do we really have any good options? There’s carpenter’s glue, Krazy glue, fabric glue, and glue sticks (which just remind me of the push-up popsicles I used to enjoy as a youngster…why do all the glue companies want kids to eat the stuff?) But I’ve never had a satisfying adhesive experience with any of these.

And if we go straight to the strongest stuff – super glue, it’s pretty terrifying. Here’s the actual warning label from a brand of super glue, “Possible cancer agent. Exposure may result in nausea, headache, confusion or instability. May be harmful by breathing vapors. Exposure may cause kidney damage.” All I wanted to do was repair this cracked picture frame, but now if I don’t hold my breath from the moment I open up the glue, my kidneys will fall out. The risk/reward ratio just isn’t there.

And then, of course, there’s the opposite side of the story. Who hasn’t had this happen –

pan

That’s right, every glue I’ve ever purchased has the fastening power of cold oatmeal, but every single company that affixes labels to products has access to an ultra-glue that can’t be removed without the aid of an industrial-strength vat of chemicals and superhuman powers. (Non-stick pan my tuckus!)

Oh, and I almost forgot – glue guns. Who’s the genius behind this one? How about a device that spews burning hot viscous liquid out of a gun? Glue guns. From the makers of Deadly Acid Face Cannon.

I know what some of you are going to say – what about tape? Tape? Tape?!? Surely you jest. How is it that we’ve developed the technology that allows for subatomic particles to be fired at each other so that they smash together at rates approaching the speed of light, but we can’t develop a tape dispensing system that doesn’t result in me spending twenty minutes searching for the end of the tape each and every time I use it?

Yep, that’s it. I’m through with glues, tapes, pastes, and all of their adhesive brethren. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Here’s the deal. We live in a fast paced world. Our nation’s attention span is getting shorter. Recent studies indicate that…no, don’t stop reading, I’ll skip that and get to the point.

You’re busy. I get it. Between uploading your ipads and downloading your ifloppy mainstreams, you don’t have time to read a blog. And it goes without saying that I don’t have the time to write it.

Problem solved.

I just invented the mini-blog.

It’s just like a blog, only shorter. And not as good.

Welcome to the future.

MINI-BLOG #1 – VS. SLOW MOTION WET FRUIT

Here’s the deal. I just saw a yogurt commercial that featured wet fruit being thrown, in slow motion, across the screen where it crashes into wet fruit being thrown across the screen from the other direction. I know this imagery is designed to make me rush out and buy their product, but instead of thinking, “Gosh, I’d like to get me some of that delicious yogurt,” I find myself thinking, “Why is wet fruit being thrown, in slow motion, across the screen where it crashes into wet fruit being thrown across the screen from the other direction?”

Surely this is not a necessary part of the food preparation. And yet I’ve seen this move in ads for any type of food that has fruit in it (or, in the case of hamburgers, they’ll sometimes toss lettuce and onions…what’s with these people?) That’s not how you make yogurt. Is it?

English: Fruit stall in a market in Barcelona,...

Fruit not being wet or thrown.

Why is that fruit so wet? Why is it being tossed about? Are they not concerned that it could bruise when it collides with the other fruit?

Just stop it. Please.

MINI-BLOG #2 – VS. MEMBERSHIPS

Here’s the deal. I went to buy a sandwich and they asked me if I had a membership. Why would I have a membership to a sandwich place? Why is this now a part of our society?

If I had a membership to every place that offers me a membership…I’d have way too many memberships. Like a lot of them. I don’t have a number for you off the top of my head, but I can assure you it would be a comical amount of memberships.

It’s becoming quite silly. No more memberships. Please.

MINI-BLOG #3 – VS. CHEESE

Here’s the deal. Cheese is way too delicious. If there is cheese in my refrigerator, I will eat it. Period. Sometimes I don’t even know how the cheese got in my refrigerator. But there it is. And then I consume it. I know it’s not the healthiest choice (I should probably try some wet fruit), but it’s scrumptious and I want it in my belly.

It’s so cruel that all of the delicious foods are the ones that we’re not supposed to eat and everything that will make us live longer tastes like a lawn.

I cannot resist you, cheese. So just stop being so tasty. Please.

Here’s the deal. I’m on Twitter. I would have done this sooner, but there was some confusion as to how it works. Every morning for the past couple of years I would wake up, say something clever to my computer and then shout, “Tweet!” at my monitor. I erroneously assumed that these comedic nuggets and insightful quips were being shared with the world. I was wrong.

So I started up this week in earnest and now I try to tweet something that will help make the Universe a better place every day. And I’ve been assuming all week that these comedic nuggets and insightful quips were being shared with the world. I was wrong again. They were only being shared with my eleven followers. If I recall, Jesus had around eleven followers and he did alright…but I’m shooting a little higher.

Thus, I’ve included a little twitter update on my sidebar and now you too can conveniently follow me on Twitter via the simple click of a button. Take a look. It’s over there. What’s in it for you? Well, the Lady Gagas of the world have over thirty million followers. And my plan is to overtake them by the end of the week. If you secure yourself as one of my first followers, you’ll be able to join me on this journey of laughter and learning (I, for example, just learned that there is apparently more than one Lady Gaga – weird).

Now…where was I? Oh, yes, constellations. I’ve always thought these things were ridiculous. Some Babylonians looked up at the night sky thousands of years ago, squinted their eyes and kind of sort of thought they saw a bull and somehow it stuck. Here’s my problem – none of the constellations look anything like anything. That’s not a ram. It’s a clump of five stars. And when you connect the dots you get…a bent line. A bent line that by no stretch of the imagination even begins to resemble a ram. Just stop it.

In 1922, the International Astronomical Union adopted the 88 officially recognized constellations. But who the hell does the International Astronomical Union think it is? No, seriously. Who the hell is the International Astronomical Union? Is that a real thing?

When they created the official list, they weeded out some of the wackier constellations. We used to look up at Hirudo (the leech), Polophylax (the guardian of the pole), Officiana Typographica (the print shop), Dentalium (the tooth shell), and Frederici Honores (Frederick’s honors). I have no idea what a tooth shell is, but I’m pretty sure it’s not up in the sky.

But they also left in some bizarre ones. Sure, we all know about Aquarius (the water-bearer), but who among us has heard of Antlia (the air pump), Caelum (the chisel), or Puppis (the poop deck). True story, those are all officially recognized constellations. I don’t know what kind of oddly specific imagination looks up at a random blob of stars and thinks, “Hey, that looks exactly like a quarter deck. Wait, no…more like a poop deck,” but they are incorrect.

And what’s with all the antiquated language? These things haven’t been updated in centuries. Today we’ve got constellations that translate as: the pendulum clock, the mariner’s compass, and the river Eridanus. Why can’t we bring our astronomy into the twenty-first century? I suggest we add the LOLcat, the iPhone 5, and the Beyonce.

Actually, were I in charge of naming the constellations, I would be much more accurate. I would name them exactly as they appear. Join me, romantics, and gaze up at the beautiful night sky. I think I see Humus (the cluster), Militus (the wad) and Astrum Nihilum (the group of stars that don’t look anything like any animal, person or thing).

Here’s the deal. There’s been a lot of talk in the news about gun control. But I say, talk is cheap…let’s shoot something.

The notion of even thinking of limiting any of the rights provided in the Constitution is decidedly un-American. These rights are absolute and cannot be infringed in any way. Take, for example, the first amendment. I’m a big proponent of our right to peaceably assemble. Anytime. Anywhere. (Last week, for example, I peacefully assembled inside the penguin exhibit at the zoo – it was awesome!)

You don’t see anyone trying to curtail that right. There’s no precedent. Except for the many precedents. When judges shut down Occupy movements they said that, “Government can make reasonable stipulations about the time, place and manner a peaceable protest can take place.” Like I said, the bill of rights is absolute. And, with the exception of when, where, and in what manner you may exercise these rights, no one has ever tried to put limits on them. But the first amendment right was limited for reasonable reasons. There are no reasonable reasons to limit our right to bear arms. During Occupy Oakland, for example, the mayor shut down the protest when a man was shot and killed near the sight. That’s sensible. Someone was killed, so you put limitations on people’s right to assemble. But I still can’t think of a single reason to put similar limits on guns.

Bottom line – guns don’t kill people. People with guns kill people. And there’s no way to stop that. Short of taking away their guns. But that would be crazy.

I simply don’t understand why those left-wing nuts insist on blaming the gun rather than the person firing the gun. It’s not as though a gun could kill someone if there weren’t murderous intent behind that trigger. Sure, you can talk all day about the five to six hundred people who die in the United States every year when guns are accidentally discharged. But so what? Do you know how many people die in accidental toaster deaths each year? Me either, but I’m sure it’s thousands. And no one’s yelling about taking away our toasters. And what’s five or six hundred accidental gun deaths? That’s nothing compared to the tens of thousands of intentional ones.

And yet Obama and his Kenyan cronies still want to take away our guns. Obama’s gun control proposal includes the following preposterous thingies:

(1) Criminal background checks for all gun sales. If I’ve said it once, everyone else has said it a thousand times…criminals, by definition, don’t follow the law so why are we trying to implement gun control laws that criminals will continue to defy? For that matter, why do we have laws against robbing banks or kidnapping or jaywalking? Why do we have any laws? If people aren’t always going to follow them then they’re pointless, right?

(2) Banning armor-piercing bullets. Absurd. I need my armor piercing bullets when I hunt bullet-proof elk and pheasants in shining armor. If I may humbly quote the second amendment, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear light weight ballistic-capped, trinitrophenal-charged depleted uranium core, steel alloy piercing ammunition with fuse delay designed to explode inside the target, shall not be infringed.”

(3) Taking every single gun away from every single person. Oh…wait, that one’s not in there.

Look, there are a lot of reasons why the United States has far more gun deaths than any other country. Violent video games. Mental health issues. Liberals. Pretty much anything but guns. Blaming gun violence on guns would be like blaming mesothelioma on asbestos. Asbestos doesn’t kill people. People who use asbestos in construction kill people. Sure, asbestos is dangerous…but only when used a certain way. Like a gun. The government had no business regulating our asbestos and they have no business regulating our guns.

English: Indian Spectacled Cobra, Naja Naja Fa...

I feel safer already.

What these pinkos fail to understand is that guns are a crime deterrent. If your neighbors know not to mess with you or you’ll shoot them…and you know not to mess with all of your neighbors or they’ll shoot you…then soon everybody’s out on their lawns, guns drawn, shouting back and forth about who’s messing with who and who’s going to shoot first…safe and sound. In fact, the more lethal things you have in your house the safer you are. It’s just common sense. That’s why I keep Uzis, cobras, cyanide, switch blades, grenades, hemlock and puffer fish lying about the apartment.

 

Hey, if loving guns is wrong, I don’t want to be safe. And if you come for my weapons, you’ll find out just how unsafe I am. Allow me to close by quoting the slogan of “un-biased”, “independent”, “non-profit” “brain” trust – the National Rifle Association. “I’ll give you my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.” Which, because I own a gun, might not be too long.

Here’s the deal. Those long-time readers of my blog know that Gloria and I are always having tons of fun with the antics of our rascally offspring. Why just the other day Timmy came up to me and said, “Pa, did you know that whenever legendary blues guitarist B.B. King would get an above average grade at school his parents would take him to his favorite store and buy him ammunition so that he could do target practice at the family’s inn?” To which I replied, “What the hell are you talking about, Timmy?” At which point he cocked his head with that wry McBee smile and offered, “You know, when B.B. got a B he’d go to BB&B for BB’s for the B&B.”

And I don’t need to tell you that we enjoyed a hearty laugh at that one.

Sorry, my people wanted me to test market my likability were I to have a wife and kids. There’s no Gloria. There’s no Timmy. Frighteningly, however, there is definitely a BB&B.

Sure, I’ve already versused Bed, Bath &Beyond here, here and here…but they just keep sending me these catalogues full of overly convenient products. They’ve left me no choice…

First up is the thirty dollar spill stopper. This is a shallow, ceramic bowl with an open bottom that you set atop your pots whilst boiling water lest they overflow.

This is a fantastic product for those consumers who have yet to master the very complex strategy of not filling your pots to the brim with water. Yes, this is a must have for chefs everywhere who refuse to entertain the notion of, “Using a slightly larger pot.”

And how about this awesome Magic Tap Automatic Drink Dispenser?

Is it just me, or are we getting lazier every minute? Pouring yourself a glass of juice simply shouldn’t involve two AA batteries. And this is supposed to make kids less spill prone? Sure, I’ve always found that having a child balance their cereal bowl above their head is way safer than having them set it down on the table before adding the milk. And whatever happened to letting our kids learn how to do things? I know I’d feel pretty bad for little Timmy if he got to college and was embarrassed by his dorm mates when they discovered that he’d never learned to pour for himself.

Lastly, let’s take a look at the impressive-sounding Thundershirt.

I was expecting an outfit that would help make your pooch look like they’d just returned from battle in the apocalyptic doggie thunderdome (“Two mutts enter, one mutt leaves”). Instead, we get this dorky vest that may or may not help with puppy anxieties, but will certainly get your canine ridiculed by his buddies at the dog park. I’m not sure if this calms a hound so much as it embarrasses them, as this once mighty animal has been reduced to wearing a skimpy, Velcro jumpsuit.

Call me old fashioned, but I sort of miss the days when every single problem didn’t have fourteen solutions. Where everything wasn’t automated and spoon-fed to us. Where we had to rely on a little elbow grease and ingenuity to get through the day. Where an honest day’s work and individual effort were prized above easy fixes.

Now…autocorrect…autosave…autopost…and done.

Here’s the deal. In 1853 James Gadsden negotiated the purchase of 30,000 square miles of land from Mexico for the low, low, introductory price of ten million dollars. This land is present day southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico and without it out great nation simply wouldn’t be the same.

Well…I suppose, in all fairness, it would be roughly the same…just Arizona would be a little bit smaller…so, yeah, it would be almost exactly the same. Had we not bought the land, I doubt anyone would be running around nowadays complaining that Arizona simply isn’t big enough. If anything, Arizona could stand to be a little bit smaller. Have you seen the way they shove up against New Mexico and try to squeeze Nevada’s corner? Back up, Arizona. Give the other states some room to breathe.

Yep, if you’re like me not a day goes by where you’re not wandering down the street and you pass someone muttering to themselves, “That damn Gadsden Purchase.”

Seriously, what was the point? According to “historians,” there were “people” who “thought” it would be a good idea to build a southern “route” for a transcontinental “railroad,” and that this little section of “land” would be just “perfect.” Really? Transcontinental railroad? Hello? Ever hear of waiting for cars to be invented?

Look, we’ll never know whether or not they actually built a railroad through this newly acquired territory. And there’s no way, short of walking down to southern Arizona and seeing if we can spot some tracks, to ever know what happened. And do you really think I have time to walk down to Arizona? I’m much too busy writing about how I don’t have time to walk down to Arizona.

14th President of the United States, Franklin ...

Franklin Pierce?

But either way it was a tremendous waste of money. President Franklin Pierce authorized the purchase of 30,000 square miles for the equivalent of 260 million in current cash. Okay, let’s back up here. It’s important to establish some basic background on the presidency of Franklin Pierce…And, as it turns out, I don’t know a single thing about the presidency of Franklin Pierce. So, moving on…

Just fifty years prior, Thomas Jefferson had spent the equivalent of 230 million dollars to scoop up 828,000 square miles in the Louisiana Purchase. Granted, Jefferson agreed that this move was unconstitutional but, as he put it, “Screw it. It’s a hell of a deal.” (Little known fact, Jefferson invented the two dollar bill to help sustain his Home Shopping Network addiction).

So…Jefferson bought a third of our country for less than Pierce spent on the corner of Arizona. Then again, history remembers Thomas Jefferson as, “One of the greatest U.S. Presidents.” While history recalls Franklin Pierce as, “One of the U.S. Presidents?”

And I, for one, am now prepared to make a bold proposal. Let’s check the White House and see if we kept the receipt. I say we get a refund. I say we deGadsden. I say we sell it back to Mexico. After all, what do we need more – hundreds of millions of dollars or a slice of Arizona? I’ve never even been to Tucson. In fact, I’m going to walk down to Arizona personally (don’t worry, I’ve got plenty of time to walk down to Arizona) and broker the deal myself. I’ll sell that land back to our neighbors to the south and pocket the proceeds. Sure, it may not be legal…but screw it. It’s a hell of a deal.