Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Behold, the all-important 10th blog entry! Yes, we've reached double digits and if you haven't read them all then you have some serious laughs left in the chuckle bank!...

There has been much debate in recent years over the “National Pastime”. Baseball was the national pastime for a century before yielding to “America’s Game” …American football. American football is not to be confused with “The World’s Game” which we call soccer and everybody else calls football. It’s all very confusing and there’s much to be said on the subject. Baseball happens to have been my first love, but the word “pastime” seems appropriate because true baseball fanatics are hard to find anymore. Football has taken over the national consciousness from high school to college to the NFL. Soccer has taken over the city of Portland in a way I never would have thought possible. But here’s what they’re all missing and I can’t think of a way any of them can close this glaring hole: none of these sports involve yelling at the top of your lungs at spiders.

Let me tell you a little story. My wife’s family has a long tradition of meeting at a park in Oregon City every 4th of July. Nearly every year the extended family (cousins and second cousins and first cousins once removed and great-great-great aunts and ladies named things like “Doris” and “Betty” and men with names like “Dick” because that wasn’t a funny thing to call people back then) gets together for cheap hot dogs and too much chocolate and old stories. Well, when I married into this family I began attending this every year and there was one common theme at each: I know 10 people out of 60 and I’ve seen all 10 recently so I really don’t have any catching up to do. Thank God Andy married Tara so I can have somebody to throw things at, whether that be a baseball or a football or a Frisbee or an insult or a stick. At least I’m not sitting on a bench pretending I’m interested in the grass I’m staring at.

Well, a couple of years ago during this picnic the kids were finally old enough to run around. They weren’t yet old enough to run off and do their own unsupervised thing, but they were old enough to circle the party making quirky noises and occasionally run into something hard/sharp/hot and start crying. That’s not the worst thing in the world because then you have the opportunity to hold them and console them and kill time all the while looking like a compassionate parent who didn’t just send your wild and crazy offspring running around to bash their face into a piping hot barbeque. Well, someone had the idea that it would be a good idea to send the kids off to go play in the tree next to the structure the party is held in. Before you go and judge “someone” who did this you have to understand that this tree is some sort of hemlock tree that isn’t really climbable. It’s not pokey like a spruce so the kids could go into it kind of like a tent and run around it kind of like little Indians (I don’t know why I wrote that but I’m not a racist…except when I’m trying to outpace my opponent).

Anyway…the kids are playing in and around this tree and I decide it will be funny to scare them. So I go up to the tree and I get behind where my son is and I yell at the top of my lungs. The 50 strangers probably looked at me like I was half nuts and looked at my wife pitying her for marrying this idiot but I didn’t see any of that.What I saw was the spider in the web in front of me flinch. By “flinch” I mean it raised a couple of legs in the air and flailed them around. “RAAAAH!”. I tried it again. Flail! “RAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!!!” FLLLLAAAAIIIILLL!!!!!

I was onto something…I was onto something BIG. So I found another spider and I yelled at it too. Flail! In fact, I found out, the louder I yelled, the more the spider would flailed around. This was great. Pretty soon the kids are yelling at the spiders. From a distance I’m sure we looked like idiots, but like I’ve always said “it’s better to look like an idiot from afar than be far from an idiot.”

So for the rest of the summer my son would find spiders in the backyard and as long as they were in their web we could go right up to them, bark loudly and watch them freak out. We started rating our Spider Yells by the number of legs that made it into the air. A 2-legger is a pretty weak effort. A 4-legger is about what you’d expect a girl to be able to do – sidebar: I’m not being sexist and saying that girls are worse spider yellers than guys…I’m simply saying that calling someone a girl is the same as calling someone a wus. Now when you can get a 6-legger you’re really making progress because now you’re talking about only 2 legs sticking to the web with a full 75% waving in the air. I’ve yet to see the holy grail of spider yelling, the 8-legger, which I would imagine means the spider full on falling from its own web. Maybe I should buy an air horn to see if this can truly be accomplished.

Here is the link to the YouTube video of some Spider Yelling…or if I’m really technical maybe I learned how to embed it after writing this. Please forward this blog and/or the video links to Spider Yelling to everyone you know. People will love you just as you now love me.

Spider Yelling 1

Spider Yelling 2: Extreme Spider Yelling!

My charge to you is to go out while there are still a few straggling spiders in the yard. Find one in a web and scare the hell out of it. Yell at the top of your lungs. Your neighbors will think you’ve lost your mind, but the joke’s on them because you will know you are enjoying the emerging movement of people who enjoy screaming not because of, but AT arachnids. You’re a pioneer in the sport of Spider Yelling. Yell loudly and yell proudly.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Comparison

We have been church shopping for a while now. If you’ve never done it, it’s not the easiest thing in the world. It’s great meeting new Christians and learning how they worship, but it’s also difficult because you go into each place with a loose preconceived notion about what it is you’re really looking for. We’ve tried maybe 5 churches in 5 months, but we’d yet to find the right match for us as a family. Some places have good music but weak sermons, some have good sermons but no real children’s ministry, etc. etc.

Well, last Sunday we decided to try out Mars Hill Portland which is a plant from a large and thriving Seattle-based church. We really liked everything about it. In fact, I even had the chance to relive some of my political campaigning days after the service when a group of 20 protestors chanted outside and screamed at everyone, including children, about how we were bigots who are going to hell. I mean, what’s not to love about that?

I’m not really here to write about the sermon or the church. What I really want to write about is a bit taboo, but if you can’t blog about these things then what’s the use of having a blog? I pick my nose. I’ve done it for a long time. I’ve refined it as I’ve matured. No longer do I “flick and hope”. No longer do I “smear and hide”. I’ve become more of a “roll into a ball and discretely drop” guy. More on this later.

The title of this blog post is “A Comparison” so you’re probably wondering just what it is I’m going to compare. The truth is I’m seeking your judgment. I’d like to open a healthy debate if possible. So here goes: What’s worse…nose picker or ill-mannered church guy?

On ill-mannered church guy:
When we arrived at Mars Hill on Sunday we didn’t realize just how many people would be there. It was the first open worship service at this location yet there were probably between 200 and 300 people there. We were pointed to the balcony so we headed upstairs and sat in the first row with Micah in tow. The balcony slowly filled and after the singing was complete a young couple came and sat directly behind us.

They arrived just as the sermon was starting yet immediately the two of them began whispering to one another. Not a statement or two, but prolonged conversations. This happens to be one of my pet peeves so, in light of the fact that I was at church among other Christians, I had to consciously put my instincts aside and ignore the chatter. I know, I’m so good at taking the high road. Soon their conversation was joined by something new…they were watching something on a smartphone…which I tried to convince myself must have been a Bible app. The girl’s jangly bracelets chimed over and over and she whispered and talked with her hands while huddling over the phone with the guy.

Soon I felt something brush against the hair on the back of my head. I turned slightly to look and saw the guy was leaning forward with his elbows on his knees in what I call the “reading while taking a dump” position. Apparently he was leaning forward so far that he was literally touching me. Shortly after that I realized he was snorting up snot pretty frequently very close to my ear. He had a touch of the sniffles. Then he burped within 10 inches of my ear. The whispering continued until the end of the sermon and when it was time to sing again I heard the guy say “there, we made it” then both got up and left.

First: what were these two doing there? Second: who was more wrong…the two inconsiderate parishioners behind us or me for being so annoyed by them? Third: Was their behavior more or less acceptable than frequent nose picking?

On nose picking:
I recently saw a bumper sticker that read “I <3 2 Fart”. I thought to myself “it’s about time someone said it”…am I right? So I’m taking the same logic and applying it to nose picking. Sure, we could all blow our noses. I get that, it’s fine. But there’s just something so satisfying about precision mining rather than dynamiting the whole tunnel. I am most prone to pick while driving. I also often pluck my nose hairs while driving. That’s more painful, but it’s better than tickling my upper lip every time I breathe. I mentioned the roll and dispose technique earlier and that’s what it comes down to. Roll the booger between your fingers and toss it out the window, roll and toss into a garbage can, roll and fling on the ground if you’re outside. If you’re still a wiper you need to stop. There are better ways than smearing a wet snot glob on the underside of a table. Oh, and another thing, don’t eat your boogers. While it’s been proven to strengthen your immune system, it’s disgusting. Everyone has to draw a line somewhere and that’s where I draw mine. I never want to floss chewy nose clods out from between my teeth. Never. Also, I never want to make out with my wife only to find a hidden glob of Play-Doh stuck somewhere in there. They say that in the Middle East people wipe their poopers with one certain hand and they shake hands with the other. Similarly I have found it’s a huge advantage that I am solely a left-handed picker. Being right-handed I rely on that hand for everything which frees my left to dig for gold at practically any time. Unfortunately, recently my nose has changed its booger crust formation habits. I don’t know if a new well has sprung or if the original nasal flow has been diverted into a new creek bed but the fact remains that I have a new spot in my nose that is constantly uncomfortable with dry cling-ons. The worst part is that this particular area is most easily cleared by the fingers on my right hand. Imagine the hygiene issues! Great…now I have to wash my hands with “soap”. The trials I have to endure are rarely this difficult, but you should know that I’m coping and I’ll get through this.

Feel free to comment. Feel free to share. But lastly I’m here to say this: I may be a nose picker, but I’m a considerate nose picker.

Monday, October 17, 2011


A few weeks ago my company put on a Saturday picnic. It was the first time they had done something for all employees and family members since I started there nearly 5 years ago. On Saturday morning Taela and I loaded up the kids into the Pilot and headed out to Oregon City to a private estate that was to host the festivities.

The place was awesome. The building was a private tractor museum that had some really cool stuff in it. There were burgers and hot dogs. There were beers and sodas. There were model airplanes and an antique buggy. I didn’t care about any of that. Why? Because I was entered in the pie eating contest. That’s why. Why did I care about the pie eating contest? Have you ever heard of a guy by the name of Benjamin Franklin? That’s right…$100 first place cash prize. $50 for second…but I don’t eat for second place.

As far as I could tell I was going to need all my cunning to win this contest. I was up against a couple of teenagers, one of whom was a stretched 6’ 4” tall and he looked like he was about the age at which guys can eat anything and everything. Fortunately for me our office eating specialist was disinterested so I didn’t have to worry too much about him. Then I found out that Todd had decided to enter. Todd is big. Todd is smart. Todd knows how to win. Todd might only have 7 fingers, but he outweighs me by 50 pounds. I can tell by his demeanor that he sees me as real competition and he’s going to make my win much more difficult. I approached Todd and tried to get him on my side. I framed it as “hey, what are we going to do to beat this kids?” Todd wasn’t biting. This was obviously an individual game. Uh-oh.

Midway through the picnic I notice that my chief competition had decided to eat lunch. Advantage Keith. Todd eats a normal sized lunch with his two daughters and Stretch (Shane), for whatever reason, decides to eat not one but two burgers. I’m starving by now. I’m drinking some fluids. I’m preparing my body for what lies ahead. I’m glad to see these other guys filling up their gullets because I need all the edge I can get.

Another stroke of luck! I walk my daughter over to the restroom and there on the ground under a table I see it. It’s a bag filled with 10 pie boxes. BINGO! I look around to see if anyone’s watching…nobody. I start to look through the pies. Marion Berry, blue berry, cherry…STRAWBERRY RHUBARB! Wait…what’s this I’m feeling? My fingers are cold. Why? Because they’re touching the pies. The pies, my friend, are FROZEN! This is fantastic news. I quickly grab a strawberry rhubarb and head off to the 90+ degree sun. I’m going to warm this baby up to make sure it will slide right down my throat. I’m not gonna be gnawing on an ice cube like those other suckers!

The hula hoop competition ends and a few kids take home some cash. The piƱata competition ends and a bunch of kids rake in a load of candy. It’s pie time…and it’s for real.

Rules: First person to eat their entire pie wins, at the discretion of the judge. No utensils but you are expected to use your hands.
Well, my plan got off to a rocky start because the judge of the contest reclaimed my special pie! I’m livid. I basically throw a small fit in front of my coworkers. The President of my company who is about as petite a woman as you will ever see decides to enter. I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to get that pie back. They hand us all shower caps. They hand us all trash bag shirts. We’re not allowed to use utensils so it’s gonna be messy. How the hell am I gonna get my hands on that pie?

I’m really agitated about this pie at this point. I’m desperate to get my pie because it’s the key to victory. I say very clearly that if I get a blueberry pie I’m simply not competing. I also may have called the judge, a coworker who I like very much, a control freak. I may have gone a bit overboard on the pie eating contest, but if I hadn’t would I really be me? Have ya’ met me?

So they hand out the pies. I’m the last to get one…shocking. After the fuss I was raising I suppose it was fitting. I do get a strawberry rhubarb after all…but it’s cold! Oh no. I have mere moments to figure this out. What to do? What to do? I take action immediately. I walk down the line of contestants, right up to Todd and trade him pies. He has no objections and I’m right back where I want to be.

The contest starts and I dig in. I’m a rookie. I have no idea what I’m doing, but fortunately for me the rest of these guys (and gals, but come on, none of these ladies are going to eat a pie before I am) are clueless too. I mean, they’re gnawing on icicles for crying out loud!

I take a huge first bite and the pie is delicious. I chew as quickly as I can. I swallow and in goes another bite. Chew chew chew Chewbaka. I’m eating as fast as I can but I realize it’s not going to be fast enough. I need to stop eating and start just swallowing. Taela tells me to take a drink of water, which I do. She’s brilliant. I can swallow this stuff like you’d swallow a pill! So I start swallowing chunks of food as quickly as I can. I’m still chewing, but not like some idiot savoring the flavor. In fact, after the first couple bites I don’t remember actually tasting anything. Soon I’m ¾ of the way through the pie and I’m walking around looking at the other contestants. I’m starting to get cocky. I’m scoffing at the other table. I take a huge bite, look over at one of the teenagers and say “how are those burgers tasting right about now, Shane?” Turns out I’m a sore winner.

Wait…what? What was that? People are cheering for Todd. Why? Todd is closing the gap and he’s closing it FAST. Todd’s face is down at pie level to minimize the distance from pie to mouth…nice move. I need to start swallowing this crap or I’m going to lose! I hear the judge say “eat it all and when you’re done throw up your hands.” I’m starting to panic a bit so I start trying to swallow a bit too early. I nearly throw up something besides my hands but I get it under control. Now, my pie is warm and sticky so my fingers are covered and there are crumbs around because my crust fell apart…unforeseen side effect of my strategy. Damn it. Well, I shove all the rest I can gather into my mouth, swallow and throw my hands in the air. I look over with my hands up and there’s the judge down by Todd’s pie showing him what he has left to eat. What? She’s COACHING him and ignoring me! I stand there for a few seconds, the judge never even looks at me. Todd finishes and is declared the winner.

I took it really well though…the hell I did! “That was personal! That was personal!” I’m literally pointing my finger at her. I still reel from the embarrassment when I think about it. Sometimes I’m an arse, but I hate losing and I love money…not in a sinful way “love money”, it’s just a good motivator. I’m not going down like this.

So here’s the deal, there are multiple videos of the event and I still don’t know who really won. My point was that if I had more food to eat when I threw my hands in the air then I needed to be told that so I could try to finish as quickly as possible. In any case, unlike so many things, it all ended well. The contest was declared a tie and we were both given first place money! I’m not talking about chopping the pot at $75 each, I’m talking about one hundred bones to each of us. This is phenomenal and all I had to do was act like an immature idiot in front of my coworkers and family.

So after the contest Todd and I feel like crap. Todd heads off behind a tree and ejects some of his strawberries and rhubarbs. I haven’t thrown up in two decades so I decided to feel horrible and just digest it. It’s tough to fast all morning and then process that much sugar, but that’s what champions do.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Tremendous Thirty-Third

Here’s a riddle for you: What’s 99 divided by 3? Answer: Me. That’s right, I turned the big 33 on Monday. Contrary to unpopular belief it didn’t hurt. Quite frankly I didn’t feel a thing physically. What’s really cool is that my twin sister turned 33 on the same day. What are the odds of that? Well, I’ll tell you they’re a heckuva lot better than her being my identical twin sister like so many people have asked in the past. Think about it! We’re not identical if we’re different genders! THINK ABOUT IT!

You’re certainly wondering “what did Keith do for his birthday” and I’m here to tell you I did most of the things I love to do. I woke up in the morning (always a good way to start the day…the alternative is so morbid). I took a shower, I shaved, I ironed my clothes, I flew out the front door because I was late taking my son to school. I arrived at work about 20 minutes late for the 8:00 Monday morning meeting. My tardies are excused on account of dropping the boy at school, but it’s nice when I’m in closer to 8:05. No big deal. At this meeting I got to meet my new coworker, Sky Wolfe. Is that really his name? Yes.

The only reason I went into work was because there was a meeting at 10:00 that I really wanted to attend. Meetings I really want to attend occur about once every never, but for some reason there was one on my birthday. Before the meeting I filled out the company birthday cards for the month in my usual unique style. Sky Wolfe got a “Dear Sky, I hope you shoot for the stars. Keith”. I also told Brenda, our HR person, “Dear Brenda, Something innocuous. Keith”. This way I can’t look like an idiot like the time I wrote on our President’s card “Dear Trish, Nobody ever writes the word ‘poop’ on the boss’s birthday card. Keith”. That actually went over far better than the time I called a prospect a “turd knuckle” in our sales meeting. Live and learn I guess.

So I bolted out of the office to get to the golf course I worked at years ago. It’s a great private club that I’ll never have enough money to join but Eric the Great did me a really nice favor and I was able to play out there with Scott and Andy. I was stoked because I love these guys and we got to play one of the best courses in town for free on my birthday. The forecast called for showers, but when you have a pastor in the group, God cooperates (thus, no rain! Yay!)

Well, he cooperates for everything except your golf game. I couldn’t hit the ball. I was topping shots all over the place as if I didn’t know how to play the game. I started to lose my temper then blew right through that and began to lose my mind. I started dropping GDs and Fs in front of a pastor. That’s not something I typically do. I literally said at one point “I can’t handle this anymore. I don’t know how I’m going to go home to my family and act happy after putting up with this crap. What am I going to do?” I told you, I lost my mind for a while.

Then, all of a sudden, on the 10th hole I started to play golf again. I actually played one of the best set of 9 holes I’ve ever put together. Now I don’t know what to do the next time I completely lose it. Curse God or remember that everything is going to be ok. Only time will tell.

So after golf I drive home and find the house decorated for our party of 5. Dang it, not the Jennifer Love Hewitt Party of Five (although I do have an autographed 8x10 of her that reads “Keith, Please stop calling, it’s over!!!! XOXO Jennifer Love Hewitt”). No, I mean me, Taela and the kids. There are streamers and colored pictures on the wall. It’s fantastic. We end up going to 5 guys where I ate for the first time all day (except for a hippie, earthy, delicious pop tart knock off Scott graciously gave me on the course). I made a pig of myself as usual. It was awesome.
We came home and I opened my presents. First off was a FANTASTIC Portland Timbers jacket. I love it! The second was a bag of socks.

We watched some Parks & Rec (awesome) and went to bed. I played poker online and watched the season premier of House. You’ll never guess who guest starred as the dude in prison who can get you anything…drumroll please….STEVE URKEL!!!!!!

How could a birthday get any better than that? Who knew how great a birthday could be when you close it down with Urkel in the slam?

Oh, in case you didn’t realize…if the word is in a different color you can click on it and it will link you to something I’ve picked out for you. You’re welcome.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

You're out!!!...or you'rein?

I don’t watch the news on TV. I don’t often read the paper. I do, however, read the news online typically on I do this in part because it keeps me up to date on current events and local happenings and in part because I love to leave absurd and sometimes inciting comments after the story. It’s amazing the enjoyment I can get out of saying something inflammatory to a group of out of balance message board nerds and then watching the wrath come down because I’m not sensitive enough about the plight of pit bulls. It’s fantastic.

Recently I read an article on about a man who worked at a high profile castle in Vienna which housed a “major art collection”. So now you have to get an image of this guy in your head. You see, Alfred Zoppelt is 57 years old and had been working at this castle for 23 years. Like you, I’m picturing an astute gentleman in an outdated top hat with some too-formal suit who looks directly down the length of his nose when he speaks to you. He’s probably come to believe that he owns the castle over the decades, right?

Now, with that picture in mind, you have to wonder why this man was fired. I’ll tell you. He regularly rubs his own piss into his face and his hands. He does this for undisclosed “medical and cosmetic benefits”. Apparently it’s called “urine therapy” and it has all the confirmed scientific benefits of the late night infomercial-driven colon cleansing products on the market that claim you have poop spackled to the walls of your colon which drain your energy every day. Honestly, if you haven't seen this guy talking about your colon you need to click the link before this sentence, scroll to the bottom of the page and watch a couple of clips.

It turns out Mr. Zoppelt is not the only disciple of the pee-pee wash down. After further research I stumbled upon the fact that this phenomenon apparently infiltrated the clubhouse of my favorite sports team. You see, former Cub outfielder Moises Alou believed that peeing on his hands toughened up the skin. Toughens up the skin? Tell that so someone who has passed a kidney stone. I’m pretty sure the “skin” of the urethra is about as tender as it gets.

Listen, I kind of backed myself into a corner with my first post about the guy pulling his own giant turd out of the toilet. I want you to know that not everything is about human waste, but seriously, you need to know that people are out there right now peeing on their hands and rubbing it into their face. If you see someone with a yellow complexion they’re not jaundiced, they just need someone to politely suggest they take a wad of toilet paper and wipe their face.

Below is a picture of Alfred Zoppelt extolling the virtues of his treatments.