If FB memes are any indication, we’re doomed

I know there’s a lot of shit on Facebook right now.  If I have the current trends on Facebook down right it goes something like: Gay, married sharks are having sex on the Confederate flag while Americans with darker skin are about to steal the country from Mexicans.

Or something.

Also, I noticed Bill O’Reilly is pissed that the White House was lit up with the colors of the rainbow in support of the Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision,  so I guess we did something right.  Anytime Bill is pissed I’m reasonably certain I’ll be happy about whatever that thing was.

But this isn’t about the Confederate flag or gay marriage,those two escaped convicts in upstate New York or even sharks.

This is about making fun of Facebook memes.

Facebook, Facebook, Facebook, oh how I loath yet love thee.

Here’s my point of view — if you don’t wake up in the morning, check Facebook and just laugh at some of your friends posts you’re missing out on one of life’s great pleasures. Memes are a great source of comedy for me. Even the most absurd usually make me laugh.

Men and women both share them, but I think the ladies share them a bit more than the lads. Regardless, they’re mostly boring shit, occasionally they’re funny and once in a great while they’re fucking jaw-dropping funny, and by jaw dropping funny, I mean stupid.

So let’s dig right in shall we?

If you’ve been paying attention, you know that life hacks and simple do-it-yourself tips to make life easier are all the rage right now. Some of them are cool I guess, but some of them are just flat out dumb.

Like this one.

Everyday in America 20,000 pool noodles are needless slaughtered.  Won't you help stop the carnage?

Everyday in America 20,000 pool noodles are needlessly slaughtered. Won’t you help stop the carnage?

First off , there’s the fucking absurdity of it all. How big is your fucking pool that you need the cooler to float alongside you? Put your cooler on the side of the pool and paddle your lazy ass over too it when you need a refill.

But I don’t know how big your pool is because I’ve never been to your pool (because you’re a selfish, non-pool party inviting asshole). So maybe it’s so big that when you paddle from one side to the other you’ve entered a different time zone. Maybe that’s why you need a do-it-yourself floating cooler, because you spent all your money on a gigantic pool.

If this is the case, stop reading right now and seek financial help.

Here’s the reality of this floating cooler. Pool noodles cost about what, $2 tops? Maybe $3.50 if you’re some rich asshole, but for most of us they’re about a dollar. Two at the max. How much is rope? I have no idea, I only know I’ve been given enough to hang myself with numerous times. Let’s say it costs $5 for a bit of good, old-fashioned rope. Finally there’s the plastic bin that makes up the cooler part of the floating cooler. What’s that cost? $10 is my guess, but that’s off the top of my head.  I asked my wife, she said that was a reasonable guess, so let’s go with that.

So to construct our floating cooler we’ve spent $16 or so. Right? We’ve ruined a perfectly good pool noodle, cut up some useful rope and pissed off our wife because we stole the container she uses to store her winter socks in or whatever it is women buy these things for.

The issue? An actual floating cooler can be had for $14.99 on amazon. Leave the pool noodle unmolested you fuck head. Besides you’re going to need that rope someday and you’ll be pissed because you cut it up for your stupid homemade pool cooler that got you in so much trouble with the wife because you used her plastic bin when you were too lazy to swim to the side of the fucking pool for a full beer. Bonus: Hot blond in a bikini in the Amazon link. See I’m saving you time, money AND showing you hot chicks in bikinis here. I should charge for this shit.

Next up these fuckers …



How the hell in today’s America can we legalize gay marriage, take definitive steps towards ensuring everyone has access to affordable healthcare, be on the edge of decriminalizing marijuana and doing 87 other awesome things while we still haven’t forced these social media clowns to shut the fuck up already?

Look here’s the plan: When I’m president we’re going to ban from traditional social media anyone who has ever posted an, “if you love Jesus” meme.

Don’t worry, we’re going to create a special place just for them.

Hell, we can call it Jesusbook and Goditter or some shit. They’ll love it. They can “amen” and share this shit until Obama finally admits he’s the anti-Christ and they all get vacuumed into heaven and leave the rest of us with a bit of peace an quiet.

I can’t wait until these judgmental fucks leave Facebook. I’m trying to read my feed while I have my morning shit and I don’t have time for these kinds of decisions. I don’t even know what to do when I see these. I don’t believe in Satan or God, what the fuck do you want me to do now?

Here’s another one.


Child abuse is the second best pastime next to kicking puppies in my book. She fell down the stairs your honor, honest!

Who the fuck posts this? Did you feel better afterwards? Why? Imagine you went into the office tomorrow full of joy and blissful thoughts. A coworker asks you why you’re in such a good mood and, with fucking sincerity, you tell them.

“Well this morning, on the internet, I posted a photo of a child with bruises on their face. No real idea where the pic came from but on the photo I wrote, ‘Are you against CHILD ABUSE,’ yeah I even capitalized the last two words, ’cause I’m a bad ass. Then, here’s the best part, I wrote ‘like – yes!’ and then ‘ignore – no’ along the bottom of the photo. Then I added the emoticon ‘:/’ after the no part because that signifies I’m a not happy with people who ignore. I’m a fucking genius! I told the world I’m against child abuse!”

These people are idiots and should be beaten with unmolested pool noodles.

Seriously, they should stop.

Here are more examples of people who should just stop.

1512391_783302225015978_7845512712740317144_nI hate you and everything about you.  I happened to love dick cancer, it calls me on my birthday, it’s always there when I need it and it once loaned me $20 for gas. Fuck you.

11647153_10153340294230042_2125154572_nI also hate you.


I’m chicken, but you’re a moron. I’ll live longer. What the fuck does this one even mean?  If I share it people just post numbers into my feed, that’s the idea?  What’s the deal with 17?  You’d hit me with a bus?  Do you even have a bus?  Where the fuck are you going to get a bus?  If I post this and some dipshit steals a bus so they can hit me am I  in any way legally responsible?  I’m not posting this, fuck off.

11655514_10153340111245042_1285620763_nNope. Clearly we can’t. You haven’t been paying attention if you think this is a viable course of action you fuck. In fact, you get a D- in attention paying. This flag symbolizes equal rights for other American citizens. While on the other hand …


… this flag does not. And, despite this flag’s message, current events indicate otherwise. Because yeah, it’s symbolizes some racist backward shit. Fly it high on your car, home or from your asshole. I’m cool with that, honestly. But let’s get it off government property for fuck’s sake. And if Walmart and Amazon don’t want to sell it, well I’d remind most people that take issue with that decision that the free market is always right in a lot of people’s opinions.

Finally there’s this. 11655390_10153340118735042_1036323104_nWhat exactly is this?  Its as if some Emo-stricken 16 year old chick mated with the lady that wrote those Cathy cartoons popular in the 1980s.  I bet this shit was made in Colorado and Washington state, you fuckers need to tone it down or you’re blow it for the rest of it.


Three quickies; steroid cream, ruined pizza and walking for wine

I’ve got a rash man …    

I’ve talked before about how much I love gardening. I love picking out the weeds, watering the plants, pruning and every other aspect about it. The minute the weather here in Germany indicates it’s not going to ice over again in a plant–killing freeze, I’m buying trays full of plants and soil and fertilizer. I’m dusting off the old gardening pots from last year and it’s game on. It’s actually a fight between my wife and I to get me to come inside on the weekend. I don’t want to come inside during summer to watch a movie, any movie, maybe even the best movie ever made, because it’s summer.

Recently I cut down a diseased tree. I chopped it up into manageable bits and then carried them to the fire pit and burned the remains.

I compost. That’s why I have a pitchfork and, fuck you Facebook friends, it’s not a garden fork it’s a pitchfork. OK, maybe it’s a garden fork, but who cares. It turns over decomposing bits of plant flesh and stuff.

Not shown, garden spoon and garden knife.

Not shown, garden spoon and garden knife.

My point, is I’m exposed to all sorts of nasty stuff when I work out in the yard. None of it bothers me, not even a little bit. In my 40-plus years on this earth I think I’ve had a reaction to something I touched exactly twice. Two rashes. Both of them were cleared up in a day or two. No medicine, no doctor visit. Just me, outside, drinking beer and manning through it.

So yeah, this is about a rash I have.

But it’s not from the garden or the great outdoors. That wouldn’t be funny. Well it would be funny, it’d just be less funny.

This rash is caused by carrying two bouquets of flowers made by a professional German florist through the town of Weisbaden. Two of my office coworkers are leaving soon and as part of a going away luncheon for them we presented their wives with bouquets of flowers.

Because I’m not a smart man I parked kind of far away from the event. Like a 20-minute walk away. But so what, it was a gorgeous day and a bit of a walk never hurt anyone.   I carried the flowers on the left side of my body tucked under my arm against my chest. I felt the water the florist had the flowers soaking in soak through my shirt, but shrugged it off. It would dry off when I arrived at the restaurant.

Not going to bore you with the going-away particulars. Blah, blah, things went well, blah, blah people were bid adieu. But the next morning, weird as shit, I’ve have a giant ass rash that itched to no end. Two weeks later and a bit into a tube of steroid cream I’m still inching.

Yeah man, I’ve got a rash.

Pizza fail of epic proportions

Here’s something you probably don’t know about me. I’m wanted in the state of … oh wait, never mind I cleared that legal issue up years ago. What you really don’t know about me is that years ago I really got into making my own pizzas. Really into, as in I bought a wooden pizza paddle, a pizza stone, made my own dough and pizza sauce. If I thought I could’ve gotten away with it, I would have slaughtered my own pigs and made my own pepperoni.

What I mean is I got into it hard. Then I moved to Europe, did it once or twice, and completely forgot all about it.

We, as you might know, recently had some visitors from the U.S. More about their visit in a moment, but the husband of this duo likes to make his own pizza as well. I’m here to tell you he’s a punk ass amateur. Sure, sure the pizza’s good, but he makes it in a pan like some kind of savage, doesn’t include meat and flicks his own boogers into the sauce.

OK, that last bit isn’t true and the pizza is in fact very good, but it reheated my interest in making pizza. And by reheated I mean my wife said I had to make a barbeque-chicken pizza and I agreed because it’s best not to anger her.

So I dropped some yeast in some water with some sugar, tossed the pizza stone in the oven to preheat, mixed up my dough and kneaded that stuff until it was spot on. I tossed flour on the cutting board and formed a perfectly shaped pizza. I had a slight edge that was brushed with olive oil and then I added the chicken and the sauce.

This was going to be perfect and the stone was just about hot enough for me to …

Oh shit.

Can you see my dilemma? Yeah I have fully dressed (heavy) uncooked pizza on a cutting board and now I had to magically transfer it to a super hot pizza stone. I knew, I knew, I knew I was basically fucked.

I'm still a little freaked out.

I’m still a little freaked out.

Every attempt to move the pizza on to the stone from the cutting board only damaged it further. Shortly before the end, I could plainly see the cutting board, counter and pizza stone through the now demolished dough. Barbeque sauce and grilled chicken were everywhere and it was a hopeless, destroyed mess.

I shoveled the whole thing into a trash bag and drove to Pizza Hut to purchase BBQ chicken pizza to go.

The less said about my wife’s reaction the better.*

A matter of trust

Germany, Germany, Germany. You never fail to amaze me. We’ve talked before about the flower fields here where you pick your flowers and the Germans trust that’s you’ll put your money into the deposit slot.

Did you know they do the same thing with booze?

Bet you didn’t. I bet you didn’t partially because they don’t anymore (sort of) and partially because I really think you didn’t know.

I don’t know where I’m going with this whole bet thing, so let’s drop it.

Remember that couple who visited? Sure you do. You just read about it. That’s what I like about you, you remember shit. The great thing about that couple is they lived here for years and years. When they come to visit there’s no one pestering me to visit Paris, London or Rome. They’ve done that, we’ve done that and we aren’t going to do that.

The bad thing about them visiting is that they like to do shit along the Rhine river. Bike along the Rhine, walk along the Rhine, drink along the Rhine, eat along the Rhine. They like the Rhine.

The Rhine has some serious history associated with it. There’s a lot to know about it. Roman forts, Napoleon advances, that time I peed in it while drinking heavily, the Rhine’s got a lot going on.

What it doesn’t have going on, for me at least, is my having any fucking desire to do anything alongside it anymore. I drive across it at least twice a day for work and let me tell you, when I finally leave here, giving that bridge the finger will be a fine feeling indeed. Fuck that bridge and it’s traffic congestion. Stupid bridge.

But anyway, hike and bike they wanted to do and as much as I’d rather read about how awesome the Rhine is, my wife and I really love these two dorks so yeah, I’m hiking and biking along with the best of them.

One of the hikes snakes along vineyards, through woods and, of course, offers spectacular views of the valley. It’s a good hike. Midway through, after about an hour of hiking, there is a little cabin. By little I mean literally little. Think large doll house little. This “cabin” has walls built of stone and a wooden roof. The door opens and inside is free booze. OK, not free booze, but bottles of chilled white wine and small glasses. You’re on the honor system to pay for each bottle you drink as you enjoy you chilled glass of white vino and enjoy a spectacular view.

I’ve been to this particular outlook many times over the years and they’ve recently added one feature that reminds me of the U.S. It’s a card swipe that verifies the age of the person opening the door (as if no cunning underage teen could defeat that stellar system), but other than that,  it’s still basically an honor system.

I'd have a better photo of this event but, like I mentioned, we were drinking.

I’d have a better photo of this event but, like I mentioned, we were drinking.

And, much like the flower picking fields, you know what I did? I fucking overpaid because that seemed like the right thing to do. That and I got tipsy with two Germans, a Romanian, an Italian, my wife and our friends while enjoying an awesome view of the Rhine river valley.

Dagmar also flashed all of us her boobies on the ski-lift back up the mountain so, yeah, it was an awesome hike.

* Post Script.  The pizza story happened two weeks ago and I tried to make a good pizza this weekend as a way to make amends for the abortion of dough, chicken parts and barbeque sauce that was the first disaster.  It didn’t go well.  Admittedly I had drank a few beers.  Dagmar graciously gave me a recipe for the pizza sauce but all I heard was, “here’s a tube of tomato paste.”  I thought it was weird to make pizza sauce with just paste but I smeared the entire tube of paste onto the crust (on the stone this time) and dutifully spread it around before adding cheese and other toppings.  It was eatable but yeah, I’m back at bat for strike three in the pizza making contest this weekend.

Oh how far I’ve fallen.


I hate grocery shopping, so of course I have to do it two days in a row

A few years back my wife started recording our weekly grocery bill. I don’t know why. We’re not living check to check, so that’s not it. We absolutely never eat out, so it’s not a comparison sort of thing. Eating out is something we only do once or twice a year, so that’s not it. She was just curious, and before long I was following along as well, watching the bill’s weekly highs and lows and comparing them to the previous months and now previous years.

It’s the kind of pointless, low-cost entertainment one turns too when they don’t have children or a reliable way to watch Netflix, I guess.

As you might know, I normally get tricked, cajoled or forced at gun point to come along on these weekend shopping trips, but what you don’t know is that I will volunteer to do absolutely anything while she stalks the produce aisle in search of the perfect leek or eggplant.

This here is a perfect leek. If we bought this leek, we'd never have to buy a leek again. I may just steal the leek from this guy. I think I can take him.

This here is a perfect leek. If we bought this leek, we’d never have to buy a leek again. I may just steal the leek from this guy. I think I can take him.

Need the recycling turned in? I’m your man if it gets me out of grocery shopping. Need to return an purchased a year ago and never opened even though you’ve long ago lost the receipt? Sounds like more fun than debating the pros and cons of various vegetable stock. Hell, if you need a ring tossed into the fires of Mount Doom I’d rather do that than smell and decide on which new bathroom hand soap is the best.

Frodo, saddle up, but first tell Gollum I’m badly hungover and he needs to shut the fuck up already. Hey, stop bitching, at least we’re not at the grocery store.

That said, I normally arrive back at the grocery store shortly before check out. I can tell from things in the cart approximately what the damage is going to be. Was it a heavy meat week? Well that’s going to cost us. If however we’re eating lentil soup (gross by the way) for lunch this week the bill will be lighter.

Basically, I’m a primary factor in how much the bills is going to be. If left unchallenged my diet would consist of Frosted Flakes, steak, potatoes and a crap ton of bacon. My wife on the other hand has threatened/enthusiastically volunteered to subsist on nothing but rice and beans for a month. I say threatened because this is her go-to statement when I spend too much money on beer, strippers or remote controlled quad choppers drunkenly purchased during late night Amazon binges. I say enthusiastically volunteered because I think she secretly hopes I’ll agree with this idea. Only the threat of my flatulence after three weeks of a rice and bean subsistence keeps her from actually following through with this plan.

I’ve also come to understand that when I’m gone for a few weeks on business the bill is dramatically less. So much so that she’s been known to skip the grocery shopping altogether. I suspect that shocking amounts of rice and beans are consumed during these periods, but cannot confirm such.

Having just returned from three weeks away, my wife and I went to the grocery store Saturday morning. I, as usual, ran some recycling to the recycling center and returned a cat toy that wasn’t particularly expensive or, I guess, interesting to the ca. I returned to the grocery store just in time to find my wife about to hit the checkout lane.

It was a banner trip to be sure. Our bill not only broke all previous grocery shopping trip records, it destroyed all previous records. It was approximately 80 percent higher than the previous record. I say approximately because — math. I have no idea how much, percentage-wise, higher it was, but it was a lot higher. The previous record was $140 and this Saturday’s purchase came in at $230. Basically, it blew the old record out of the water and onto land making it the king of the grocery-cost-list ocean by a long shot. (It is a 64.28571428571429 percent  increase, according to this handy calculator because Google ~Fran)

As I said, I’d been gone for three weeks and she really hadn’t been shopping while I was out. There was also a lot of meat, cleaning supplies and candy that we both plan on torturing our coworkers with so yeah, the bill was going to be high. And, like I said earlier, we’re keeping the record of our weekly bill because a real hobby would require effort and energy.

This is a Shakespearean-trained actress reenacting Dagmar's amusement at the high grocery bill.

This is a Shakespearean-trained actress reenacting Dagmar’s amusement at the high grocery bill.

We both laughed about it, discussed why it was so high and had forgotten about it by the time the groceries were loaded into the car.

I do recall that it took slightly longer than normal to unload the groceries though. It was a lot of stuff to be honest.

Cut to the next morning: I tend to wake up before my wife does when we are both allowed to sleep as late as we want. I get up, make the coffee, scratch where it itches and contemplate what it was I posted on Facebook after 15 beers the night before that has everyone so mad. You know, quality alone time.

Dagmar was up an hour or so later. I offered her a cup of coffee and we started to discuss the day’s events. Though I was never informed previously it turned out that I was going to spend my Sunday cleaning out the garage. Not a horrible fate, I like it in there. That’s where my beer fridge is after all.

Then she dropped the bombshell. She wanted to know if I could run to the grocery store again, to pick up some chicken. I agreed and trudged into the shower. I contemplated how, after running up a gargantuan (by our standards) $230 grocery bill for two people, how I could possibly have to go back there for more stuff the very next day? How is that possible? It seemed impossible, but here I was putting on pants and looking for my wallet.

When I went back downstairs the simple one-item shopping list had grown to seven items.

Incredible. Just incredible. I’ll be in the garage contemplating just how much I don’t know about running a household.

GUEST BLOG: One Flew into the Cuckoo’s Head

On Monday night I was driving to Fayetteville, N.C. to deliver my boyfriend’s work computer to him. He’d brought it with him for his weekend visit and neglected to take it home when he left at 4:30 a.m. that morning.

Fayetteville is a two-hour drive from Wilmington and on some of the roads the speeds drop to 35. At the moment of impact, however, I was topped out at 65.

There I am, about 6 p.m., an hour into my journey. I’m listening RISK!, a storytelling podcast. Some dude it talking about growing up in the city and how the kids in his neighborhood used to play in medical waste tossed into a dumpster behind the clinic.

The story teller was reminiscing about climbing in the trash to retrieve what they called “needle darts,” when


Something bigger than a pebble, but smaller than a breadbox, hit the partially open window and window frame, then slammed into the left side of my head just above my ear.

“What the fuck!”

Instinctively, I shot forward in my seat. I was practically hugging the steering wheel as I slowed down and pulled the car onto the shoulder.

Tiny feathers were floating around inside the car.

This bird is a more "tradtional" bird death scene. Very different from what I had going on.

This is a more “traditional” bird death scene. Very different from what I had going on.

I sat frozen for a moment and took inventory. There was blood on my shoulder and blood on my upper left chest. There were feathers and blood stuck to the window frame. With every movement I made, little tufts of feathers wafted about. Fortunately, the window was intact.

I hopped out and sheepishly looked into the car. There on the driver’s seat was a dead headless bird. After thudding me good, the bird’s head popped off and its body fell between my back and the seat back, I surmised. Sick!

If I didn’t have a long shirt on it would have fallen into the back of my pants.

I muttered WTF a few dozen more times as I contemplated my options.

How the hell am I going to get this bird out? I sure as hell ain’t touching it. Should I just keep this shirt on and finish the drive? What’s in my overnight bag? I don’t want to put on my work shirt for Tuesday morning because I don’t want bird guts on that.

Oh right! I have pajamas.

Now, whenever I’m not at work or out socializing, I’m in “pajamas.” But my pajamas generally consist of super-sized sweatpants and sweatshirts. That ensemble is easily worn in public in case I need to make a quick trip to the store. Recently, however, I’d decided to treat myself to actual pajamas. So I had a real honest-to-goodness pajama shirt.

Had this been my pajama top I probably would not have been driving because I would not be getting laid any time soon.

Had this been my pajama top I probably wouldn’t have been driving on the night in question because I would have been a spinster with cats.

Fuck it, I’ll just put that on, I thought to myself. I popped the trunk, and after three cars passed and no more were coming, I whipped off my blouse and put on my pajama shirt.

Now to deal with the bird…

Look, I’m not the least bit squeamish EXCEPT when it comes to animals. I’d already glanced at the headless bird carcass so I was not looking forward to examining it up-close-and-personal. But I had to get it out of the car! If the bird had ended up anywhere else, I probably would have left it and finished the drive. Tim would have had to remove the body. But in this case that wasn’t an option. The bird was in my seat. Son of a bitch!

I considered using my tripod to flick it out, but quickly dismissed that idea because it would take too much maneuvering. It would have been like moving a soft ball with a pencil. I would have had to keep readjusting the tripod to effectively get the bird out. That would entail needing to actually look at it to get the job done.

Then I spotted a dust broom I kept in the trunk. Perfect! It was wide enough.

I climbed in the backseat, and with my view hidden by the seat back, I reach around and took some blind swats at the driver’s seat. The bird corpse unceremoniously plopped out of the seat and landed on the motherflipping goddamned door frame.

I recommend everyone keep one of these in their car. I use it for all sorts of things: snow, sand, dusting, dead bird evicting.

I recommend everyone keep one of these in their car. I use it for all sorts of things: snow, sand, dusting, dead bird evicting.

You’ve got be kidding me! The bird had already defied odds by flying into a 4-inch-wide window opening at 65+ miles an hour, now the effing thing lands perfectly on a 2-inch-wide ledge? I’m going to have to actually walk up and look at this thing. And to top it off, even when I finally get the body out, its fucking head will still be somewhere in this car! I had another hour’s drive to my destination, so the thought of a bird head as a passenger was mighty creepy. Ater a half-hearted glance in the back seat, I drew the line at scouring the car to find its fucking head.

I mustered up my courage and skulked up to the casualty. As I groan the international word for GROSS, “Eeeeeeeee,” I give the body another swat. It flies (pun intended) into the road.

Upon landing, the head appears. It was only tucked underneath.

For the remainder of my ride I did not touch the door because I was unsure if it had gore on it. I also didn’t touch the side of my head which I imagined was covered in bird brains (Spoiler alert: It was not). And anytime I had my window cracked I could see in my peripheral vision the bird feathers stuck to the frame flapping in the breeze.

How was your Monday night?


On the road again with a caffeine-scrambled brain

It’s just after midnight, but the conductor on the sleepy train isn’t making any stops in this hotel room anytime soon. I’m wired from too many coffees and too many Red Bulls. Plus, the cramp in my from the death grip I had on my steering wheel as I navigated many German autobahn miles at 100 mph isn’t helping.

And all of this is OK.

I have a stash of beer chilling in the mini-fridge and, for once, I’m staying at a military hotel so there will be coffee brewed in my room to help dust off my sleep deprived eyes in the morning. Normally when I travel, I stay in European hotels where they don’t have coffee available in the room and I have to venture out for coffee.

I now know you have to at least put on pants before you head to the hotel breakfast lounge. Accustomed as I am to drinking coffee in just my boxers at home, this is a no-no at most hotels, European or otherwise.

The next two or three days are bound to be full of adventure, excitement and intrigue that would make absolutely no one envious. It’ll be endless hacking on PowerPoint slide decks and Excel spreadsheets. Someone, at least once, will mention someone else’s slide “methodology” with a sneer. I guarantee it.

I don't have a lot of photo ideas for this blog so go with what you know. Also hey, boobs!

I don’t have a lot of photo ideas for this blog so go with what you know. Also hey, boobs!

But on the bright side, there will be fighting between staff sections and project officers about who didn’t do what, which responsibility belonged to which group,  and, with a bit of luck, an orgy of physical violence culminating in a knife fight between the last two surviving briefers while our commanding general, like a Roman Emperor, decides the loser’s fate.

I personally feel his or her PowerPoint skills should decide that fate, but that’s beside the point.

This will never happen of course — the orgy of violence with the epic last-man standing knife fight, I mean — but hope springs eternal.

Looking over the past few blog entries, scarce as they may be, I see I’m in danger of turning Had A Few Beers into some sort of weird combination of funny-wife stories, bitching about travel stories and drunken rants that somehow survive my hung-over eye the morning after they’re been vomited into a Microsoft Word document.

Which I suppose is as good a direction as I could’ve ever come up with for the blog through. When I started this shit my thought process (if it can be called a “process”) is surmised best as, “I’ll just write a bunch of shit. How hard can this be? If it was hard they wouldn’t call it blogging for fuck’s sake.”

And that’s not entirely incorrect. I don’t know who “they” are, but if they chose the word “blog” to describe whatever the fuck this is, I think we’ve earned the right to question their decision-making processes. Just saying.

So here we, or at least I, am. Four-hundred-and-forty-seven words into this with an intro about an orgy of violence, knife-fighting, frayed nerves, the start of a decent beer buzz and the reluctant departure of caffeine-induced trembles articulated by heart palpitations.

The only thing different I can think to talk about, and talk about I will, is that I’m in an American hotel. Not a American hotel in America, but a hotel run by American’s in Germany for military folks.

I haven’t been in such a hotel since 2012 or so, honestly. It’s sort of refreshing. The door’s made of solid wood and could, I’m sure, withstand a hoard of angry axe-wielding barbarians if it needed too and from a Roman Emperor’s standpoint this is the heart of axe-wielding barbarian territory.

I know it could withstand this because it’s on a spring-closing mechanism and every time I forget that there’s a spring-closing mechanism it slams shut with a boom that jolts every PTSD victim staying here. It already scared the shit of me the first three times it happened.

Also, no old-fashioned metal key here. Nope. Magnetized card entry because ‘Merica. Also, because the reader never reads the card right the first time I swipe it after having a cigarette. Maybe the European old-fashioned key to the room thing isn’t such a bad thing after all.

Because this hotel is American run there are two very delightful things nearby. The first is unheard of in all the European hotel’s I’ve ever stayed in — vending machines! Should I crave a Payday or a Mountain Dew right this very moment friends, I can have that. I just need walk down the hall after panicking a bit because my two-ton door just slammed shut with the force of an early atom bomb detonation.

The other is a warning on the dresser that holds the TV and some box that has a bunch of flashing lights that I swear light up in synch with my heart beats (maybe I do need to try and sleep). The warning says that if I were to overfill the top drawer of this dresser, I’m at risk of tipping the whole thing over.

Actually the sign seems more concerned with the TV then with injury.

Actually the sign seems more concerned with the TV then with injury.

Safety fucking first. I like that. I don’t know what previous travelers have put in these drawers, but rest assured, I will only fill them with cotton, angel wings and warm thoughts. Actually, I feel like I should run some load tests on them. I’ll ask the local gym if I can borrow a set of weights tomorrow night and really find out how much this dresser can handle. You know, in the interest of science and progress.

That’s all I have. That’s all the energy I have for this tonight. It’s sort of fun to write when your brain’s been set to “scramble” sometimes. This might be the worst ending in the world or not, I don’t pretend to know. And at this very moment, I don’t care.

♫ Call five-eight-eight-two-three hundred advertising! ♫ Driving adventures in America!

Last Wednesday night my wife was overdosing on home improvement shows and I was at the tail end of a 12 pack of good old American beer.

Which means sadly, I was really sober.

This is on "The Learning Channel."

“Buying Naked” is on The Learning Channel. Let that sink in

Yes, we were back in America and we were celebrating — sort of.

It was a clandestine, quick, ninja-like trip home that only a few trusted agents knew about because the mission here in the good old U.S. of A. afforded no time for shenanigans, no time for visits, no time for drunken romps with old friends, and only time for one strip club visit.

There was no time for anything, but business.

I literally had to tie a leash on my wife’s belt loops during a trip to Target. If I hadn’t she’d have wandered for hours among the clothes, kitchen accessories and bed linen.

There was no time for that.

The trip was all about business.

“Bedding be damned! Your desires to rework the kitchen’s towel color scheme are unimportant, woman, and too hell with the guest bathroom decor,” I exclaimed as she perused bed spreads.

By this point we’d already finished the mission, she reminded me, and technically she was right. Damn her. But it’s hard to come down off the adrenaline of our whirlwind tour of the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration.

I was still on a mission, even after the mission was over.

The mission seemed simple: Get a valid American driver’s license. A certain state in Germany, looking at you Baden-Württemberg, got a wild hair up their collective asses and decided to revoke the driving privileges of anyone caught operating a motor vehicle while in possession of U.S. Army Europe driver’s license without a valid U.S. driver’s license.

That means me. I’m a member of that club. So is Dagmar. So are a fuck ton of my friends and coworkers. My Arizona driver’s license expired in 2008 and her Texas license expired in 2013. This wouldn’t normally be a big issue and we could’ve waited until the powers that be made a decision about the validity of a U.S. Army driver’s license without a valid stateside license until we went back for vacation, but … I travel a lot for work. I travel for work using official government orders, like a grown up and shit.

When my boss learned that my license was expired (thankfully his was too) he told me that there would be no more official travel until the situation was fixed. Cue the “rapid quick trip back to the states” music and our visit to the Maryland MVA.

As a member of “the no valid U.S. driver’s license club” I think I may have been the first to travel back to the U.S. just to get a license. Mind you, I wasn’t renewing a license, I had to actually get a license. I think that fact actually makes me the king of the no valid driver’s license club.

As king of the expired driver’s license club in Europe, I’d like to tell my fellow expired license subjects that they are in fact screwed. I know, I know. Normally a King reassures his subjects, but the mark of real leadership is the ability to tell people when shit’s real.

Shit is real.

There is some good news. If you’re an active-duty service member living in Germany and have an expired license, you can likely renew online. If not though, prepare to receive sausage, because you’re basically fucked.

Dagmar and I had four states from which to choose pick when it came to asking for a valid driver’s license. Three of them basically told us to fuck off, but Maryland was indeed sympathetic. Sympathetic to the point that I think the manager there is really, really sick of me. Sick of me as in, “would avoid me at parties” sick of me.

I, however, can say she’s on my Christmas card list for life.

If only I’d gotten her address.

Here’s the thing: You don’t want to board an international flight (booked in duress no less) to acquire a driver’s license without knowing exactly what kind of paperwork will be required on the other end of that flight. If Cathy from the MVA had said she needed an original signed photograph of my wiener, I’d have been asking my wife how the light looked and if the photo was in focus.

I was going to have everything they wanted, in triplicate if possible.

We had to board our plane Saturday afternoon and Saturday morning I received news, via email, that we would both have to take the written and driving tests before we would be issued licenses. We couldn’t simply exchange driver’s licenses. Not ideal, but not an insurmountable obstacle either.  Or so we thought. Cue ominous music.

I printed out two copies of the attached driver’s license study guide and tucked them into our carry-on baggage to review driving laws during the flight back home.

We arrived Sunday and were at the Maryland MVA early Monday morning. The manager met us at the door. This was likely due to the fact that I had bugged the living hell out of her during the previous few weeks.

Photos of our beautiful mugs were taken, paperwork was exchanged, weather was discussed and we both passed the written driver’s test. No bonus points for who missed less questions, the automated test cuts off once you’ve answered the correct number of questions.

Like this, nailed it.

Like this. Nailed it!

Then we both promptly failed the driving portion of test.

I failed because it seems I cannot parallel park to save my life (or to save the cost of two round-trip tickets to the U.S.), and Dagmar failed because she thought she was smarter than the lady administering the test.

In my haste to book our flight and rental car I noticed that a large luxury sedan was only a dollar more per day than the smallest economy car offered by the rental agency. Being an idiot I took the luxury sedan thinking bigger is always better, like boobs.

Bigger is not always better when it comes to parallel parking, at least in my world, and I straight up flunked it. I couldn’t moor the Titanic within a foot of the curb in the allotted three minutes.

Dagmar’s story is a bit funnier. After having successfully parallel parked the Hindenburg, her tester told her to make a left hand turn. Dagmar observed that she would be crossing a double yellow line and decided that it would be unsafe to do such. She informed her tester that she was going to go straight and then turn around just up the road. You know, to better facilitate the test, or something.

Both of our tests ended the same way. “Please put the vehicle in park, you have failed the exam. ”

I cannot read these strange symbols. They seem to mean, something.

I cannot read these strange symbols. They seem to mean … something.

We piloted the good ship lollypop back to the airport car rental* counter (yes the MVA let us drive away, they had mercy on our souls) and exchanged it for the smallest rental car they had.

Fresh behind the wheel of a Chevy Cruz we drove it and parallel parked it for the rest of the goddamn day. We parallel parked that car until we could’ve centered it on a grain of rice. We parked, parked, parked and parked some more.

Because going home sans a valid driver’s license wasn’t an option.

Test number two obviously went a little better for both of us. And by little I mean a 1,000 percent better. The young lady who administered my test the second time was calm, cool, professional and must still be wondering about the guy in his mid-40s with buckets of sweat pouring off his forehead. (I still have a cramp in both hands from the death grip I had on the steering wheel the entire time.) But we passed.

Keep the hands and 10 and 2 o’clock (clearly neither Todd, nor his driving tester, have not read this ~Fran), always check your mirrors, break smoothly when coming to a stop! Be sure you see the rear tires of the vehicle in front of you at the light! And for god’s sake son, use your turn signal! Always signal!

I’m so left thinking, politically, I considered just keeping my left-turn signal on constantly.

My father, like a lot us, taught me to drive. He did it on a 1960 Dodge pickup truck with a column shift and a clutch that required Paul Bunyan leg strength. He, did I mention this though, was also a driving instructor for many years and later a professional truck driver with all those million mile accident-free awards to prove it.

To confess to him that I had flown all the way in from Germany to take a driver’s test and failed, was almost worse than telling my boss.

Almost worse because Dad’s weekly allowance has long since dried up.

As I already gave away the ending, we both received brand new, won’t expire for eight years, Maryland driver’s licenses. I mean if we hadn’t and I’ve have returned to Germany without one, today’s blog entry would read something like this — “Oh god, Oh god, Oh god, Oh god, Oh god, SOB, <nose blow>! Oh god, Oh god, Oh god, Oh god” — which isn’t very funny, but I suspect some of you might have been highly amused regardless.

When I got back in the office this week, there were congratulations, some snickering and some kind-hearted teasing, but the best came from a lady I’ll call “Sue.”

Sue is retired military police officer and is the glue that holds our office together. Think Radar O’Reilly from “M.A.S.H.” hardened by years of police work, zero tolerance for bullshit and with an awesomely foul mouth. You love or you hate Sue.  I happen to love Sue. Her sharp tongue has cut me more then once, but I’m smart enough to know I had it coming.

Sue came into my office on my first day back and closed the door.

“Did you really fail the parallel parking part of your driver’s test the first time,” she asked.

I assured her I did.

“You dumb motherfucker, you live in Germany, you parallel park every goddamn day,” she said, howling with laughter.

She was right, I do. I parallel park at least once a day, sometimes multiple times a day.

Maybe I had it all wrong, the worst wouldn’t have been my dad, my boss or even my own sense of self worth. The worst was Sue. Jesus, the worst would’ve been Sue.


*Shout-out time: NextCar is a new rental car company that just opened in BWI. I can tell you I’m officially a loyal customer. Pam at the counter even high-fived us when, with drivers licenses in hand, we turned the car in on our way back to Germany.

Awesome company, seriously. If you’re in the Baltimore area they should be your go to rental car agency. NextCar is an awesome deal with affordable, new cars and an absolutely awesome staff. (Feel free to send me free schwag, NextCar!)

I’m in a European hotel and European hotel’s suck, here’s why

As a rule, European hotel rooms suck. Sure there’s some swanky hotels in Berlin, Paris, London and for all I know Plovdiv, Bulgaria, but the ones I stay at for work tend to suck.

These days most of the European hotels I stay in are in Germany, but that wasn’t always the case. I used to travel far and wide on this continent and I can assure you all the hotels generally, as a rule it can be assumed, suck here.

My experience with European hotels can be summed up as follows: Room service is non-existent and when it comes to TV your English-language channels are limited to BBC, CNN international or some British sports channel that features an obscure international ostrich feather testicle tickling championship. There’s also the famed European late night TV programming. 

Which, since the advent of the internet is about as sexy as a one-piece bathing suit circa the 1880s.

They're actually kind of cute.

They’re actually kind of cute.

That’s not to say the rooms aren’t comfortable. Oh wait, I wrote that last sentence wrong, I meant to say they’re also not comfortable. Everything in my current room technically works, but it’s as if it were designed by idiots, madmen or sadists. Maybe it was designed by idiotic sadistic madmen?

I don’t know.

There’s a lamp at the desk where I’m writing this that is mounted to the wall and has a flexible base that you might bend over to shine directly on your keyboard while you type or on a book while you read. Useful stuff right? It would be, except the only thing holding the shade to the lamp itself is gravity. So if you bend the flexible base the lamp shade flops over, held on only by the bulb. It’s not a broken lamp technically, it was just designed by someone who doesn’t know what a flexible base is meant to do.

Look here’s a photo

Actually I'm an idiot the bedside lamps worked fine.

Actually, I’m an idiot, the bedside lamps worked fine.

OK, I hear you saying (because I have super, super good hearing), “It’s just one fucked up lamp, quit your bitching.” Well, I would quit my bitching and go to bed to read, except the two lamps on the night stands function the exact same way.

Still though, I’m alone in a hotel room and instead of critiquing the accommodations, I could spend my time leisurely reading in my spacious double bed. My room does have a spacious bed, but like many double beds in Germany, it’s actually two single beds shoved together because fuck hotel guests.

Actually, I think is might be a European thing and not a Germany-only thing. For reasons I can’t fathom, it seems that shoving two single mattresses together, in the European mindset, equals a double bed.

cheap bastards ...

cheap bastards …

Let me assure you it does not equal a double bed. If you want to snuggle with your wife, your pillow, your significant other or the person whose name you hope to remember before tomorrow morning, you can’t. Someone is going to be uncomfortable because of the gaping canyon in the middle that exists when you shove two mattress together.

Why do I see this in hotel after hotel after hotel? What’s the point? Who does this? If any European reading this can give me an education on why this is a thing I’d greatly appreciate it.

Thankfully European hotel bathrooms totally rock. They’re warm, they’re functional, they come with hot and cold running strippers and yeah they don’t really rock at all.

I’ve talked about my wife’s strange aversion to buying new towels or throwing old ones away. When we have house guests, I have them sign a liability waiver before using our bathroom towels. I think I’ve said that if I ever used one of our towels to dry off a homeless dog I would apologize to the dog afterward. We have bad towels, thought no fault of my own, but compared to European hotel towels, they’re fluffy clouds of moisture-wicking love woven by angels.

This is because I think European hotel towels are woven from the tears of abused children and cacti. They don’t so much remove the moisture from your body as they frighten it away while simultaneously sandpapering off much of your skin. They are as good at absorbing moisture as cardboard and they have a similar feel and rigidity.

What the fuck? Are soft fluffy towels a closely guarded secret only shared among staff in American hotels? Are the these German hotels washing their guestroom towels in gasoline, lye and starch?

Then there are the showers. When I was traveling for work to the states frequently I noticed a lot of hotels had installed these rainfall shower heads. I don’t know why. I blame hipsters and Martha Stewart. I’m not sure why I think Martha was a part of this decision, but it’s the kind of thing I suspect she would approve of. I’m not sure the rainfall shower heads are any more effective than a traditional shower head, but at least they weren’t less effective and obviously people like them.

European hotels long ago took the opposite approach and never looked back. All European hotel shower heads (yes I’ve seen them all, it took me a while, but hey it’s an hobby) are connected to a hose that is connected to the wall. The shower heads can all be removed so that you can spray water directly onto whatever part of your body is the filthiest. For me, that’s the brain, my brain is the most filthy.

So with the knowledge that European shower nozzles are detachable, I always stand outside and reach into the shower timidly to turn it on. Here’s why. I don’t know what the fuck the shower head is going to do. The water pressure combined with the amount of hard-water deposits and a not-so-snug seat in the wall mount often result in the nozzle either rocketing off the holder or spinning in an unpredictable direction, shooting water out of the wall mount. The damned things turn left, they turn right they raise up or the blast down. There’s a greater than 70 percent chance that they will come alive and unsuspectingly blast me in the face.

Yes, I could reach up and remove the shower head, point the nozzle away from me and then turn the water on but, fuck you, it’s six in the morning and I haven’t had coffee yet. I prefer to play European roulette with my morning showers thank you very much.

While we’re on the subject of the bathrooms, the toilet in my room right now has a siren attached to it. Now I know if you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time you probably agree that I need a toilet siren, but that’s not what I mean. When I flush this toilet, some combination of water into the toilet and yuck out of the toilet creates this high pitched screech that resembles a siren/rape whistle. This is the only hotel I’ve ever experienced this in, but the hotel is in Europe and I feel it needs to be included in this piece.

I mentioned earlier that I used to travel to the U.S. a lot for work. For about six months I was crossing the Atlantic literally twice a month. It was a bit grueling. I was traveling with basically the same group of people and we all because fast friends. We generally stayed at the same Marriott every trip into D.C.

For reasons I don’t understand not every room in this hotel had a mini fridge. So one time during a very late night check in, we asked the receptionist if our rooms had mini fridges. She checked her computer, tapping buttons vigorously, and then seconds later explained that they did not.

Someone in our group asked if we could get rooms that did have them. She tilted her head like we had just asked a stupid question and informed us that they could deliver a mini refrigerator to each of our rooms at no cost if that was our wish.

I was shocked.

They could do this? This was an option? Had I died and gone to heaven? Yes, yes, please deliver to each of us a mini refrigerator. We have beer that must be chilled, you understand. Heady discussions about why airline travel sucked and morning hangovers are not made from warm beer.

A half an hour later a midget showed up at my room, where we all gathered, with three mini refrigerators on a dolly. I was later informed that he was not in fact a midget, but in my inebriated state and for the purpose of this story let me assure he was a midget and at that moment he was also a god.

Fluffy towels, functioning lights, a rainfall shower head, a mini fridge delivered by midgets in white coats and a toilet that doesn’t call the police? Oh friends, I was in heaven.


Three New Year’s Resolutions that were made to be broken

I can tell it’s a new year because I’m being very careful about writing the correct year.  I know in just a few short weeks I’m going to screw up and my brain will slip in a 2014 before I’m able to catch myself, but for the time being I am carefully writing the numbers 2 0 1 5 at the end of a date and then staring at it for 2,015 seconds to make sure it’s right .

Damn it!

Damn it!

So new year, new stuff. Shiny new beginnings, a fresh start, a chance to begin anew and what have you. Blah. I’ve never bought that shit. I’m sorry, maybe I’m an asshole. (Maybe? ~Fran) The fact that someone at some point decided that on a certain day we’d all agree the old year would be over and the next year would began excites me not much at all.

It’s kind of like Christmas in my mind, (and no I’m not going to just dump on New Year’s for a full blog like I did on Christmas) it’s just that we could have put this holiday anywhere on the calendar, but some ancient asshat decided the dead of winter was the best time.

New Year’s would just rock more at the end of July or the start of August. It’s still hot out, chicks would be in like shorts and tank-tops and, holy fuck, we still have more summer to go before the winter doldrums set in!

Think about it. Which would you rather do — party with scantily clad members of the opposite sex or  party with members of the opposite sex wearing parkas, gloves, hats , long johns and frozen private parts? If you picked the second one you have a mind I cannot comprehend, my friend.

And for fuck’s sake, we just had Christmas. We just had a major celebration last week, do we really need another so quickly? NO. Move that shit to August. That’s when we need one. When the weather is really nice out and everyone is locked inside climate-controlled production pods.

I could get behind a July New Year’s eve. Really I could.

But fuck this December/January shit. It sucks. I don’t want to celebrate any fucking new beginnings right now because there are none. Nothing is starting right now because the weather outside froze the car, the roads and my heart.

New Year's resolutions suck

I don’t have a clue who made this list but I want to find them, thank them and become their best friend. P.S. Suck it current best friend.


This is also why I hate fucking New Year’s resolutions. Fuck them all. Not one single New Year’s resolution has ever survived contact with the month of April. Sure there are exceptions, but they only prove the rule. New Year’s resolutions that actually work are like the lotteries that we have in the U.S. Sure someone wins, but it won’t be you.

Actually, didn’t I resolve a few paragraphs back that I wasn’t going to write another piece where I dumped on New Year’s like I did on Christmas? Well fuck, there goes that resolution already and we’re only a few hundred words into it.

Here we go. My resolutions for 2015.

I’m going to realize I’m fucking stupid

I am. I’m a fucking moron and I need to just look at it in the mirror and admit it. I’ve got a few accomplishments under my belt. I’ve done things of which I’m proud. I’ve done some really awesome things from time to time, but I’ve got to face facts — I’m a fucking idiot. At least half the reason I’m where I am today is because I’m a white-male American. Another 25 percent is just fucking dumb luck. The 25 percent of the reason I’m not homeless and living behind a convenience store right now is that I’ve somehow, magically, managed to not drive this crazy torpedo of a life into a ditch at the last second. Actually, I have no idea where I’m going with this resolution, I guess I’m so fucking dumb I forgot.

I’m going to stop giving a fuck about politics

Fuck politics. Really. I’m done. I’m out. I’m finished. It’s a fool’s errand and I’m out. Did you know I gave $25 a month to Hillary’s campaign before Obama was the nominee in 2008? I fucking did. See my previous resolution if you want to know why.

I thought she had better name recognition and that was all that mattered to me. The moment the Democrats picked Obama I was fully on board, although I never received a thank you from him for the $25 a month I gave him up until the election, but I was fully on board. The point is: I never, not once sat down and compared what their positions were on issues. Never. Not one time. All that was important to me was which one could beat the other side and that is politically stupid.

I used to laugh at people who voted for really obscure political candidates. You threw your vote away, I’d chuckle to myself knowingly.

“Ralph Nader,” I’d say with an eyeroll, “We’ll if you don’t value your ballot I guess you should vote for him.” Then I’d get punched in the face for being a dick, but that’s beside the point.

A vote cast toward a politician who can’t possibly win isn’t a vote thrown away, it’s vote that’s cast with belief and conviction which is a hell of a lot more valuable than my vote. I’m like a junkie at a horse track carefully studying the stats of each horse in hopes of finding some path though the fog. A vote for the obscure guy is someone standing up and stating they believe in something, damn the fucking odds.

Fuck politics. (Caveat: This resolution is null and void the moment I decide something political is interesting again).

I’m going to wean myself off Facebook

This resolution is pretty fucking funny mainly because most of you who are reading it are reading it because of Facebook. And look, who the fuck am I kidding, I’m not getting off Facebook. I’d like to, but I’m not. You’re all there and I like a crowd to play with. If you all decide tomorrow that you’re all headed back to some AOL chat room, I’m right there with you.

That said, I hate you Facebook with the passion of a wife in a relationship with an abusive man she loves. Facebook, you’re dicks. I’m smart enough to realize you have to be dicks to stay in business, but you’re still dicks.


Zuck, it sucks.


I’m not even embarrassed or even regretful about my drunken Facebook posts. Some of those are my favorite moments on Facebook. Some of the shit we end up talking about when I’m waist deep in a drunken beer fog are endlessly entertaining to me. I might momentarily cringe in the morning, but then I laugh when I read what everyone has said. I mean sure, I regret a few private messages here and there. (Fran — I again apologize, not so much for the photo, but for the detailed description that followed.)  (Todd — I had the photo made into a T-shirt — in Dagmar’s size. ~Fran)

It’s all the other stupid shit I see there. Which state are you? Find out what percentage of dork you are. Which flower best represents your soul? These are all Facebook trends I just made up. Fuck that shit. Look at all this technology, it’s literally brought the world together and what are we doing with it, discovering the beauty of our inner child with a quiz or whatever the current waste of time there? I’d bet our ancestors are pissed. I would be.

They’re like, “Hey fucktards instead of playing fuck-fuck games or sharing that 1,534th kitten photo, how about everyone umm, communicating a bit and try to work through some issues that face the world today, like how to resurrect long-dead ancestors.”

Anyway, fuck it. Welcome to 2015. Maybe I should’ve resolved to be less negative.

Do they know it’s Christmas? How the hell could they miss it?

Here are some things about Christmas that just flat out piss me off.

The first thing that pisses me off is the fact that’s I’m writing this. Basically, nothing says “privileged, white, middle-aged douche bag” like a privileged, white, middle-aged douche bag complaining about the holiday season. You know, it’s that time of year where giving, caring and forgiveness are in vogue, and here I am bitching up a storm about pointless holiday things that piss me off.

“Oh, lets all read what Mr. No Reason To Be Unhappy has to say about why he’s unhappy,” I can hear you all saying over the din of a million eye rolls.

And your largely right, except that having no reason to bitch about something absolutely gives me all the more inspiration to bitch about it. I’m all about the challenge with these kinds of topics. None of what I’m about to complain about is even vaguely valid or important in anyway, but I’m going to bitch about it anyway. I even like watching video’s of kids opening presents they’re really excited about. Watching a 7-year-old rip the wrapping off of a G.I. Joe with a Kung Fu grip (or whatever — I’m out of touch with the toy markets for 7 -year -olds) is always a great thing.

But there’s some other things (oh boy, are there some other things!) that really piss me off.

Let’s review:

Look at these presents under our tree. Ninety percent of them are gifts I’m giving to my wife or she’s giving to me.

Spoiler: These are all socks.

Spoiler: These are all socks.

What the fuck sense does that make? We’re two financially well-off adults. The other 364 days of the year, if either of us wants something, you know what we do? We buy it for ourselves. But this one day of the year we each toss $500 at Amazon for the other because “something” told us to?

It’s the same head-scratching situation every year. What do I want for Christmas? I don’t know the answer to that question even though it’s a valid question. It’s a fucking stretch to come up with ideas because for throughout the year we’ve just bought whatever the fuck we wanted. Kind of leaves the old “gosh it’d be cool if I had this item,” list a bit lacking you know?

So, you know what you end up with under the tree? Shit you didn’t want badly enough to purchase yourself. I don’t mean things I couldn’t justify buying for myself, and I don’t mean things that I couldn’t afford to buy for myself. No, I mean things that I just couldn’t be bothered to buy for myself. For instance, the complete series of Battlestar Galactica is under the tree waiting for me on Christmas morning. I watched part of season one once while traveling for work and thought, “Meh, that show’s OK.” But I couldn’t actually bother to log on to Amazon to, you know, buy the fucking thing myself.

So here I am in my mid-40s waiting to open gifts I was too lazy to buy for myself.

Next year I’m going to suggest she take her $500 and blow it on whatever she wants like massages, pedicures, cute hats for cats, whatever. I’m taking mine and investing heavily in strippers and beer because that at least would be good blog

It's Joseph would've wanted.

Santa and baby Jesus can come too but they have to bring their own money.

Another thing that bugs the fuck out of me about Christmas is the “Why” of it all.

Stay with me here.

Neither my wife nor I have a religious bone in our bodies. I’m an atheist and I can’t think of her ever having a single religious thought. It’s not like either of us are excited about Christmas because it’s the day Jesus was born. As a lot of people know, the idea of a midwinter holiday actually predates Christianity. Because why not throw down and party in the gloomy middle of winter?

But the midwinter theory kind of pisses me off even worse. Now I’m following some ancient-random custom because those fuckers didn’t know if they’d live ’til March? What the fuck?

I once read that it was kind of a last -ditch celebration before the starvation of January and February set in. Which is fine, I get that. But how the fuck is that valid today? The vast majority of us aren’t starving anymore in winter, we have fully functional heating systems and I can make it as bright as the sun in our house through the use of that wonderful invention the light-bulb.

The thought that people used to celebrate this time of year because it was the midway point between fall and spring makes no fucking sense to me in this day and age.

At least you Christian types believe there is a valid reason to celebrate and I envy that. I’m stuck trying to figure out what a busybody fat man in a red suit living with elves and reindeer north of the Arctic circle have to do with the birth of some kid in the middle east.

Be honest with me here, this has baffled you too. What the fuck does chopping down a tree, putting lights everywhere, exchanging gifts and singing obnoxious songs that contain the phrase “fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la” have to do the birth of a baby?

None of that shit passes the commonsense test, not even for a moment.

Some fat old man sneaks into your house after spying on you for a whole fucking year and leaves you presents? No, fuck that. That sounds fucking creepy actually. I’m pretty sure grown up Jesus would punch that dude right in the dick for pulling that kind of stunt.

Like this, only with Light Sabers.

Like this, only with light sabers.

Here’s another thing that pisses me off about the holidays. This I think pisses a lot of people off actually. Why the fuck do stores have to start putting up holiday shit immediately after Halloween or even earlier?

The answer is sales right? Gotta get those precious holiday shopper dollars into the till because the holiday season is the only time that a lot of stores make any profit. That’s the answer, right?

Look, I didn’t major in business or anything, but I’d hazard a guess that if your business model succeeds or fails because of sales during eight specific weeks out of a year, then your business model sucks.

I could be wrong, hell I probably am wrong, but that just seems like a stupid way to do business. What if I approached you and asked you to invest in my new business, but we were going to lose money 10 months out of the year and then, only if the economy was good, make money during a narrow eight-week period?

You’d think I was a fucking idiot.

It’s even happening here in Germany, at least on the military bases. Once Halloween is over, out go the princess and vampire costumes at the Post Exchange and it’s all ho, ho, ho from that moment onward. I made the mistake of going into the “Power Zone” (a military store that specializes in electronics) on Black Friday because I needed a small adapter for a computer on Black Friday. I never made it past the front door because there was apparently a riot going on.

In an overseas enclave of Americans who rely largely on the mail for most of their purchases there was a Black Friday shopping frenzy going on.

Next year I’m suggesting to Dagmar that I buy her a pack of playing cards and that she buys me a Playboy.

Actually, never mind.  Fuck the Playboy.

Actually, never mind. Fuck the Playboy.

Finally, and thanks to a good friend Adrian for this suggestion, the war on Christmas really pisses me off. It pisses me off because there is no fucking war on Christmas. There’s not.

I consume my cable news before going to work in the morning and it’s a choice between Fox News and Tavis Smiley (who names their kid that by the way). I choose Fox because even they don’t suck as much of Tavis does. Sorry, it’s the truth. Those of you who know me know I can be a rabid liberal and even I would rather have right wing talking points hurled at me over my morning coffee than listen to Tavis’ pointless banter with which ever guest is shilling a new product on that particular day.

So I do hear that shit all the time. There’s a war on Christmas! The progressives, liberals, communists, and for all I know sweet baby Jesus are waging a war on Christmas.

Listen up, I don’t want you to take this personally, I don’t want to offend you and I don’t want you to stop reading, I just want to clear this up: There is no war on Christmas. None. Zero. No shots fired, no casualties, no territory lost or gained, because there is no war.

Some people even alluded to this on Facebook. “I have to say Happy Holiday’s now I can’t say Merry Christmas it’s a war on Christmas!”

Is it a war on Christmas if you stop and consider that the person to whom you want to wish good tidings might not celebrate Christmas? If that’s offensive to you, then save your tidings because you don’t give a shit about the person anyway.

Nativity scene removed from a public building?

This is American where there’s a separation of church and state. Once upon a time, not so long ago, that was enforced. Then Glenn Beck came along and turned a lot of loud-mouthed people into holy rollers-ala-Beck. Now if someone says, “Ya know, that Nativity in the middle of the courthouse lobby seems to fly in the face of separation of church and state,” those people are persecuted.

Someone at Walmart wished you a Happy Holiday, not a war on Christmas.  Your boss said Season’s greetings to you, not a war on Christmas. Did you’re crazy Uncle Ed send you something about that Muslim bastard from Kenya proposing a new law that would ban Christmas in the United States?

OK, that one’s probably legit.

There is no fucking war on Christmas. Go outside, look around you. Christmas is everywhere. Christmas is the world’s most powerful military. A million times more powerful than today’s most powerful military and if there was a war it would consist of four guys drinking in a bar at four in the morning and talking shit about how they could totally destroy Christmas.

Maybe I suck at metaphors, but there isn’t a war on Christmas. Never has been.

Next year when Dagmar donates $500 to Greyhound Rescue charities, I’m using my $500 to start a war on Christmas. My arsenal will be a bat and I will scurry about in the dark of night bashing in inflatable-Santa faces and eating Frosty noses. Except, that sounds like more of a war on yard ornaments. I’ll have to give it more thought.

Seasons greetings!

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A tale of three (practical) jokes …

The best practical jokes were the simplest.

Do you have a three-hole punch in your office? Does it have a bottom on it that collects the punched holes and, after a lot of usage, needs to be emptied?

If you answered yes, then you my friend have a great, ready to go, practical joke.

What you do is this. Take the hole punches and empty them on to your desk. Then push them all into a neat little pile.

Next you take an important-looking memo, document or folder and, on the back of that item, you tape a smaller piece of paper, or light cardstock, with only one piece of tape so that it makes a trap door. Then you load hole punches between the document and the trap door and carefully place the whole thing on the targets keyboard or desk so that when they pick it up, hole punches rain down like confetti.

We called this trick confetti bombing.

I learned this little trick working with a group of guys who perfected, then redefined and further perfected the office practical joke.

I’m not kidding. During the years 2000 to 2002 I worked with a group who took office practical jokes to a level I never considered possible.

These are some of those stories.

A lot of you know Mike from my Facebook feed. He’s a good friend, the best of friends actually. What you might not know about Mike is that he’s a retired Marine. A retired gunnery sergeant, in fact. If you know anything about Marines you know this — befriend one and you have a friend for life.

While Mike was taking his son to school one day, his truck had a flat tire. Fixing a flat, as you know, takes time. This made his son late for school, but hey, that’s what flat tires do, they make you late. Mike assumed this explanation was good enough. A flat tire is a reasonable reason to be late. Unfortunately, for Mike his son already had some tardiness issues and his son’s proclamations that Dad’s truck had a flat fell on deaf ears. The school threatened to suspend the boy unless Mike stopped by the office that day.

Mike, being a bit hot under the collar, did not understand why the school would not take his son’s word for it. At the conclusion of the school day, he pulled into the parking lot and proceeded to drag the flat tire straight into the principal’s office. I know he did this because I was in his truck with him when he did it. Mike and I taught photojournalism to military students at the time and as such always had a camera of some sort with us. I took photos of Mike leaving the school’s administrative offices carrying a flat tire with a slightly apologetic smile on his face.

Flat but with more anger.

Flat but with more anger.

End of story right?

Yeah no.

We were devious bastards. When it became known that Mike had gotten hot under the collar and taken his flat tire into the office of a local high-school principle the others in my officer were giddy. This situation was ripe joke fodder and ideas began to gel.

We ran with it. Someone, I don’t recall who, drafted up an official-looking memo, purportedly from Mike’s Marine Corps leadership, instructing Mike that he would have to repay the school community for this gross transgression. First, the letter directed, Mike was going to have to give a class to the entire student body about anger management, second he was going to have personally apologize to the principal and staff for dragging a tire into their office, and finally, he’d have to write a personal letter of apology to the principal, Mr. Seymour Dicks.

Both Marine officers in our department, who were all too happy to help with the joke, called Mike into the senior guys “office” which was nothing more than a glorified cubicle with little, if any, privacy.

So about the letter. You see what we did there right? The three things Mike was directed to do filled him with so much rage, he never noticed the “see more dicks” part of the joke. It took one of the officers actually verbalizing to a red-faced Mike that he’d have to write a letter of apology to “Mr. See More Dicks,” for Mike to finally get it. The officer has to literally break it down for Mike because he was so furious.

“No Gunny, you’re not getting it. You have to write a letter to a Mr. See. More. Dicks. Get it? See more dicks Gunny.”

When Mike’s lightbulb went on, all eight or nine of us gathered outside the cubicle erupted in a wave a laughter that seriously caused several of us to have to sit down. I don’t recall if it was relief that the whole thing was a joke, or that he the realized he’d just been a butt of a pretty elaborate practical joke (or a combination of both most likely) that caused Mike to, between his own fits of laughter, swear revenge.

It was that kind of office. Were you in hurry to leave early on a Friday? Did everyone know it? Expect to find your car keys in a frozen bowl of ice in the office freezer. Did you not lock your computer before leaving to teach a class? Then you could expect to send an embarrassing email to the rest of the staff in your absence. Your car would even be routinely moved and your keys placed exactly where you left them so that after work you started to think you were losing your mind.

We had a Coast Guard warrant officer who was an insanely talented photographer, a great instructor, a huge, with a capital H, fan of baseball and a devious-practical joker.

He was about to depart for a few weeks of leave and I started thinking about how I was going to get him back for the jokes he’d played on me. I had seen a photograph on the internet of someone having their cubicle filled with packing peanuts. I knew from experience that our supply people routinely had vast, and I mean vast (they couldn’t be carried by one man), bags of packing peanuts.

Like this but with less foil and more peanuts.

Like this but with less foil and more peanuts.

Chief went on leave and I mentioned my idea to a co-worker. The details were worked out and yeah the Chief’s cube was duly filled with packing peanuts. I can even recall thinking we set up the joke too quickly. The Chief wasn’t due back for a few weeks and every visitor to the office wanted to know what the hell was up with that office cubicle.

In fact, the joke was almost anti-funny by the time he finally returned. Anyone on vacation for two weeks in that office knew they were walking back into a joke scenario of some sort. He came back, cursed and laughed, tore open the saran wrap barrier we had erected to hold in the packing peanuts, packing peanuts went everywhere, we eventually cleaned it up for him (hey it’s only fair) and everything was rainbows and puppies going forward, right?

No, that devious motherfucker’s head got to thinking. I mention before that this guy was a huge baseball fan and had all the memorabilia to prove it. All of it was in his cubicle. A hat signed by some famous baseball player, an autographed glove and above all a shit-ton of baseball cards. Many of them prominently on display.

He was really into baseball cards.

He waited about three days to enact his revenge, and then came to talk to me in my cube.

It was a great joke he said, he wished he’d have pulled it off himself, he said. He thought it was great, but there was one problem: One of his more expensive baseball cards was missing. He asked me when we had filled up his cube, and he said he needed to know because if it was right before he returned it could mean someone stole it from his cube. I told him we filled it up the day that he went on leave.

He sighed.

He told me that he thought we might have thrown the card away during our cleanup efforts. There was really no other explanation and it kind of made sense. There were fucking packing peanuts everywhere for the love of god. I knew, I’d cleaned them up. Had we inadvertently thrown away a valuable baseball card? It was possible.

Now, if we’d have pulled the prank the day before he came home, then there were all sorts of other explanations about what might have happened to the card, but considering that the cubicle was covered in packing peanuts, there was only one real explanation.

I debated with him for a moment or two, but it became pretty obvious to me that yeah, I’d probably somehow swept it into a bag with all the packing peanuts. I admitted that I was likely the cause of the loss and asked him how much it would cost to replace. He told me. I don’t recall how much it was, but it was enough that I was going to have to tell Dagmar about my fuck up.

I told him I’d bring him a check the next morning and he thanked me, apologized again for the situation and let me stew until the next morning when I showed up with the checkbook (which Dagmar rarely let me use) before falling on the floor in a gut-busting fit of laughter and let me off the hook.

Yeah, maybe revenge IS the funniest joke after all, dickhead.

And so it went.

There used to be (and for all I know still is) a feature in Microsoft Word that allows you to automatically change a word into another word when its typed in a document. Did you just type the word “awesome?” Well, there was a way to make word “awesome” automatically change that word to “fuckface.” It was a handy feature for the jokesters. Endless fun was had by those in the know when some new person came along. A favorite in my office when I was teaching photojournalism was to change the word photograph to pretty picture. Oh, the howls you’d hear from the uninitiated.

The third and final epic joke involved one of those “executive” cubicles with the walls that almost, but not quite, reached the office ceiling. It belonged to one of the instructors who taught the advanced courses and it had a door that locked. The key to the door had long ago been lost so if the door was closed you were forced to climb over the wall and jump down to open the door.

It was a rarely used gag employed to get a quick laugh if the instructor was in a hurry.

Someone, I don’t recall who, suggested we fill the fucker with balloons. At first the idea seemed folly. How the hell are we all going to fill enough balloons to cover such a huge area? Then someone mentioned they had an electric air compressor that could easily fill balloons and the idea went from “if” to “when” territory.

When the target of the joke took a Friday off,  poor guy took time off, it was game on. We became some sort of assembly line of mischief, filling, tying off and placing balloon after balloon into the locked cubicle. Some evil bastard even placed a few water balloons on the floor so the poor guy couldn’t just pop them willy-nilly. We honestly worked late into the night making it happen. Eventually, the cubicle filled up.

Monday morning, all of us gathered around the community meeting area with cups of coffee and watched as the target once again climbed the outside wall of his cube, only to discover his office filled with balloons. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

This normally mild-mannered, soft spoken, polite and well dressed man turn his head toward us from atop his cubicle wall and said, “You motherfuckers.” It’s a speech I will never forget. Someone told him about the water balloons (I think we had rethought the wisdom of that decision over the weekend) and one of us volunteered to jump in and open the door. As always we cleaned it up. It’s not funny if someone suffers, the only fun is the reaction.

It all ended of course. Nothing that awesome can go on forever.  A new member to the team came, and a few people knew her and warned me about her. I was the guy in charge by this point and I’d been taught to let people stand on their own legs. Don’t prejudge. Which is what we all agreed to do, let her stand on her own two legs and we’d form our own decisions.

She honestly fit right in. You couldn’t leave an unlocked email account around her, she had an excellent ability to bullshit and she honestly brought a fresh viewpoint the jokes.

Case in point. We had one massive classroom that, in the back had several cages the held the student’s camera equipment. Each instructor had the key to his own cage. She waited until all the students were out of the room and had her students move my camera equipment cage so that the doors were reversed and against the wall. She had her kids drag this huge metal cage out. Turn it 180 degrees and put in back so that it looks completely normal until my kids tried to put their camera’s away.

Well done, well fucking done. She was upping the game.

It ended with a piece of cake. That’s it a piece of cake.

Someone on my team took a photo of the new girl eating a piece of cake. Then, in what in that office would’ve been considered a rather boring joke, photoshopped the cake to make it look like her plate held a massive amount of cake. Get it? In the photo she’s eating a lot of cake, like an amount of cake no person could ever possibly eat.

On a funny scale of one to ten it’s barely a two. No one considered it even anything more. It was a sort of lame, vaguely funny but not really joke.

Except she didn’t think so. Turns out she had a bulimic, anorectic or what the fuck ever eating disorder as a kid and didn’t find it funny at all*. She went straight to the grownups. The school’s leadership got wind of it and before you knew it I was sitting before the man assuring them that the games were in fact over, that we would stop the shenanigans and yes, I understood that this time they really meant it.

But all the while I couldn’t help but think, really? This is what pushed us over the edge? This cake photo? You’re kidding me? Did anyone ever tell you about the time we signed that Air Force guy up for all the gay newsletters?

Really, this ends with a cake photo?

* In hindsight, getting older and heck I don’t know, just trying to be a better human I know completely understand that this could’ve been traumatic for her. She didn’t ask to be assigned to our little joke-filled office and did her damn best to keep up until a seemingly innocent joke from our point of view stirred up some crappy emotions for her. I’m sorry Air Force lady, no one ever meant for a second to upset you.