Stranger in a Strange Land: January 2007

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Dorthy Effect

Although I like Dubuque just fine, sometimes I need to escape to Anywhere-but-Here for a vacation. This holiday season’s great escape sends me to Bequia, a remote Caribbean island located in the secluded and off-the-beaten-path Grenadines. Bequia is so remote, to get there I have to squeeze myself into a contraption of aluminum and duct-taped propellers and be flung over the turquoise expanse separating Barbados and my final destination. Yet the hair I lose from this harrowing experience is worth it for I am sure Bequia is as far away from Dubuque as I can get.

I begin my first Dubuque-free day with a seaside breakfast of banana pancakes smothered in gooey syrup, fresh coffee and a divine slice of mango while seated next to the former Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Clearly, I am in an entirely different world. After settling the bill I head to the solitude of the nearest coral fringed beach, serenaded by the shade of struggling coconut-burdened palms. I unravel my multi-colored beach towel with gusto, lather myself in overly-protective sun block, and giddily crack the stiff spine of a new paperback. With a sly lick of my parched tongue, I dampen my sandy thumb, gently flip to the first page and slowly lose myself within the satirical prose of Vonnegut. As I read along I am abruptly halted mid-sentence by a dreadful word: Dubuque. Dismissing this as a fluke, I continue until I come across the sentence, “So, there was Dubuque again”. “This can’t be,” I gasp with a Hitchcock-inspired shriek. “It’s found me.” I drop the book in terror and try to outrun this suffocating shadow, but everywhere I turn I see Dubuque.

All along the yacht filled harbor boats seductively bob in tranquil waters. Across the bay several couples are hitching their boats together and enjoying cold beers just like boaters on a tucked-away muddy Mississippi sandbar on a hot summer day. But this is on the transparent waters of the Caribbean! Running through Port Elizabeth’s lone street, farmers holler sales pitches and try to entice me to browse their fresh produce proudly displayed under the filtered shade of a hastily built market. The scene reminds me of a similar harvest time walk I took through downtown Dubuque’s Farmers’ Market. But here the farmers are dread-locked Rastafarians instead of kerchief-ed Amish and are selling plump passion fruits instead of sugary cookies mon! I kick up dust as I turn a corner and continue running down a rural road and past a family farm. An old, sun-worn man gives me a slight wave of his hand, just like the notorious one finger wave farmers greet passer-bys with along the country roads of Iowa. But here instead of a chained up farm dog there is a goat in the front yard. No need for lawn mowers! I eventually end up back at my hotel where the weekly Jump Up, an all-island celebration of steel-drums, socialization and drinking, is in full swing. The smell of grilled food and the smooth sounds of reggae permeating the air reminds me of Dubuque’s block-party styled “All That Jazz”. Oh look, there’s beer in glass bottles and no open container laws!

Just like in Dubuque, I saunter up to the bar and order a beer. My wife, who has been itching to dance and I, fearful of the insufficiency of my white boy moves in a crowd that has the night’s rhythm running through their veins, politely refuse. Finally, she is ushered to the dance floor by a young local gentleman who understands how to move his hips, legs and shoulders all at the same time and somehow not look like the pale fish flaying around on the beach in a spat of out-of-water convulsions I tend to resemble. Just like at home, I am saved from embarrassing both Kara and myself and instead am free to consume more beer. But this is all happening on a beach under a canopy of Caribbean stars so dense the sky is cloudy!

I prop myself against a bamboo pole and feel the sand slowly shift to accommodate the disruption caused by bare feet. I shake my head as I think of how ridiculous I was to think I could actually escape Dubuque. The whole concept of escapism is nothing but a bunch of Hocus Pocus, an impossible fantasy. I realize that where I am from creates a Dorothy Effect in my perspective, causing me to see the world through the eyes of a Dubuquer when I am gone and to see Dubuque through the eyes of a stranger when I return. Which is exactly why everyone must travel.

Cat's Cradle

No mom, we’re not expecting any little ones. But I thought my cat might enjoy having a custom made Emily Crib to relax in. O.K., my actual thought is that if I keep my cat in a crib she will not be able to wake me up at 4 a.m. every morning to be fed. So in actuality I’m thinking kind of along the lines of a cat jail cell, complete with bars and all...

Quck Time Biz Cards

Why spend lots of money on fancy business cards when you can have your Business Card Printing done online. Instead of wasting your time and money on making your own, simply log on to the Internet, select your unique design, enter your information, click send and wait for your cards to be delivered to your door.

Making Your Self Up Right

Deep inside of us there’s a star in all of us. To really get that star feeling sometimes you need a little help-as in lots of make up. But make up when not properly applied (as in when you are swerving around in your car) doesn’t help. What you need are some good Makeup Mirrors that you can sit down in front of and do the job right.

Save a Hand, Use Stickers

Sending out lots of mail? Is your hand screaming at you for the cramps caused by excessive writing of your return address? Maybe its time you start sticking instead of writing? With custom Return Address Labels you can simply stick your return information on, lick free! Save the hand. Use stickers.

Quality T.V. Watching

Ensure all your video and DVD play is the highest of quality. To take high-definition digital video feed and convert it into a pure digital image you need to use an HDMI Cable to connect the video machine to your high-definition television. Video played in pure digital form has the very best of quality.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

No Slowing Down

Growing older means slowing down. And by slowing down I mean slowing everything down, including your metabolism. Gone are the days of six meals a day with snacks in between. If I did that I think I would explode. But hey, today we live in a fast paced society, so there’s no room for slowing down- it goes against the fundamentals of evolution. No worries- science has created a way to kick your metabolism into gear with Metabolism Booster.

Get Moving

Looking to relocate? Want the glitz of the big city but still maintain that small town charm? Ever dream of living on the East Coast? Why not try Cary, North Carolina. This mid-sized city is near Raleigh, has its own international airport and such corporations as IBM and The Research Triangle Park. Start your Cary NC Real Estate search today and get moving.

Friday, January 12, 2007

First Communion Bachelor Parties

I have to go to a First Communion in a couple of weeks and I suppose First Communion Gifts are all the rage today. My concern is, not being much of church-goer, I am clueless on what an appropriate gift would be. My instinct tells me alcohol and strippers would be inappropriate, but perhaps not for the night before one become married to the church?

A Monday Boost

I hate Mondays. I’m tired and, even though it’s the start of the week, I rarely accomplish anything of importance because I feel like I exist in a coma. What I need is a good Energy Boost. Whether it’s coffee, soda, Red Bull or speed, something needs to wake me up.

Biz Cards as Easy as 1,2.3...

Getting a business card is now quick and easy. All you have to do is go onto the Internet, find a design you like, type in your company information and click send. Before you know it your new Business Cards will be waiting in your mailbox and ready to start promoting your company.

The Professional Approach

Does your business require you to make presentations to clients? Do you often need to give your clients important information that you hope to god they don’t loose and maybe even actually read? Handing them a pile of papers is unprofessional and clumsy. Improve your approach by using a professional looking folder with your company logo and contact information on the cover. Get you folder made at Presentation Folder Printing.

Business Cards = Free Lunches

A business is not a business if it doesn’t exist on a card. Business cards are how you bring your business to potential customers. Whether you hand them out personally, leave them on the counter at the local coffee house, or use them solely for putting into fishbowls in hopes of being drawn for a free lunch-your card is often your business’ first impression. This is why it is essential that you have Professional Business Cards. Besides, the better looking the card the better your chances of winning that free lunch.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Interesting Fact

Sitting in the airport watching all the President Ford funeral stuff, I got looking into the brief presidency of this never-elected president. Did you know that when he ran for President he was challenged for the Republican nomination by Ronald Regan? Guess who Ford’s running mate was? That’s right, Mr. Bob Dole, pre Viagra charged.

Beer Belly Adendum II: Dieting for Pyros

But why settle for the basic pills when you can go for the Big Kahuna of Diet Pills. Let’s skip the vitamins, abdominal workouts and unneeded diets. Who needs them when you can simply Metabo Fire and burn that fat away? Unleash your inner pyro and set your fat ablaze.

Beer Belly Adendum I

Ok, ok. So it has been brought to my attention that not all diet pills are made equal. One could be popping pills and still not get that pesky beer belly under control. To get the results you want (and keep that beer belly cute instead of disgusting) you can either experiment with different diet pills, or simply do a Diet Comparison. One’s easier, the other more fun.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Deep Breath: Just What the Doctor Ordered

Originally appearing in 365, Ink. (

I cringe with tension as I anticipate the oncoming chill…There it is. It snakes its way up my spine, causing me to gasp, and sends my heart racing. There’s no hiding now. My body tattles and he can hear all. “Deep breath,” the doctor instructs as he slowly slides his cold metal stethoscope across my heart and towards my upper chest. I take in an extended breath, pause, and slowly exhale. My heart slows. “Deep breath,” the doctor repeats, this time with his metallic ear resting on my shoulder blade. Again I take a long breath and instantly feel relaxed, somehow better. After several more meditative breaths, the doctor removes the stethoscope from his ears, places his index finger inquisitively under his chin and nods with intelligent understanding. I wait patiently for the verdict. “No problem, no problem,” he ensures me.

This is how I remember going to the doctor as a kid. Noticeably absent are scenes of kicking, screaming and threatening to harm the doctor’s well being. Unlike most kids, going to the doctor was never a problem for me. Instead of being synonymous to what a child views as non-consensual acupuncture, a trip to the doctor was more along the lines of yoga. I’m not saying going to the doctor’s office was all ice cream and stickers. Remember, I was a kid. All I am saying is that for me, going to the doctor was never a problem because my doctor was Dr. Krish.

Dr. Krish was one of those rare physicians who knew you not only as a patient, but also as a person. He was gentle, friendly and, for the most part, honest when he told you “this will only hurt a bit”. Dr. Krish was a doctor who developed a familial relationship with his patients. I recall his office walls being cluttered with holiday cards, photographs and general greetings from his appreciative patients. He knew your name, age, school, hobbies, interests and, despite your best attempt to fake feeling fine, exactly what was wrong. Dr. Krish made your visit as comfortable as a trip to the doctor’s can be by always remembering the little nuances of each patient, such as how I reflexively gag whenever a wooden Popsicle stick is used to depress my tongue. For me, the Popsicle Stick of Torture stayed locked away in its little glass jar on top of the desk and my throat was examined with an old fashioned “Say Ahhh”.

What made Dr. Krish an exceptional doctor was the prescription for life he inadvertently gave. This is the prescription of the “Deep Breath”. I have often used this medicine as a mantra for handling all of life’s many twists. To deal with switching schools during the awkward years of junior high, I used a dose of the “Deep Breath”. When unceremoniously dumped by a high school girlfriend, only to turn around and discover the perfect one, I regained my breath by taking a “Deep Breath”. When sitting for the three-day bar exam, giving a speech before the freshman class at the University of Iowa, or trying to finagle my way out of a car wreck in downtown Dublin while lacking the proper documentation-In all of these situations I took a long inhale, paused, and slowly exhaled. My body relaxed and my mind became clear, giving me a new perspective on the situation. “No problem, no problem,” I would think.

I don’t think a doctor can prescribe a better medication than this. Besides taking care of my colds, keeping my shots up to date, and poking me with an endless amount of needles, Dr. Krish went beyond his basic call of duty. Instead of just giving me the treatment I needed to feel better for a day, he gave me a treatment that has allowed me to feel better for life. And of course it wasn’t just me that he prescribed this to, he’s been prescribing “Deep Breaths” to hundreds of patients for over twenty-five years. Because of him we have all been able to live a happier, healthier and generally side-effect free life; something no prescription drug seems capable of doing.

I think of all this as I flip through the morning paper and read a statement announcing Dr. Krish’s retirement. Although I’m saddened to think there will be no more prescriptions of “Deep Breaths”, I guess after so many years of helping us it is time for the doctor to try a little of his own medicine. Take a deep breath Dr. Krish, you of all people deserve it.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Vacation Idea: The Seas of Bequia

I just got back from a vacation to the remote island of Bequia, part of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. This is a haven for yachties from around the world. As being perhaps the on the only non-boaters on the island, Kara and I decided to find a yacht charter service to and find out what all the fuss was about. Of course the day we took to the sea the swells were higher than ever, the weather was rainy, and we spent most of the sail sick as a dog. Nonetheless, we’ll do it again-after all, practice makes perfect!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

What is a Circuit Board?

Question of the moment: what is a circuit board? Do I have one? Do I need one? If I do have one and it breaks, how do I find the guy who is in charge of circuit board repair? More importantly, why am I so intrigued by circuit boards? Am I short circuiting? Which, of course, brings us back to the initial question: what is a circuit board?

A Hobbits Home

On second thought, maybe I could have some fun and furnish my home entire home with kids furniture. Create something like a Hobbit effect. When friends and family came over they would look around and ask “what the...?” and I will just shrug and say, “Everything shrunk”. Hey, it sounded like a good idea at the time, but now I can’t fit in my bed.

Redecoration Time

In the cold, boring days of winter there’s better way of filling time than by spending money. Spending so much time inside makes me realize I’m bored with my current home furnishings. Maybe its time to spend my Christmas money on some new contemporary designed and reasonably priced Coaster Furniture? Yea, maybe...

Modern Day Cub Scouts

As a life-long Boy Scout, I grew up under the influence of the mantra, “Always Be Prepared”. In Cub Scouts we spent several den meetings making Emergency Kits in case of such disasters of blowing a tire while driving on the interstate (although, at the time, none of us could drive more than a big wheel). I wonder now, with the convenience of technology and computer savvy kids, to Cub Scouts still make emergency kits, or do they just bring their parents’ credit card to their meeting and order online?

Off to See the Mouse

One place I have never ever been, which seems a bit un-American, is Disney World. Hell, growing up my family traveled everywhere BUT Florida. Still, even as I sit here today, my soul has never seen Orlando. No Mouse, no Sea World, no magic kingdom. I lived a deprived childhood. Perhaps its time I take an Orlando Vacation? Heck, as long as its warmer than Iowa, I’ll start packing my bags...

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Extra! Extra! Beer Belly Update

Several weeks ago I wrote about the consequence of living that hangs out around your waist. That’s right, I’m again talking about the beer belly. Now if everyone had a beer belly, it would be fashionable. But unfortunately that’s not the case and, like mullets and velcro shoes, beer bellies will also be frowned upon. So here’s a way to keep living but still look good. Try the Fat Burner and watch those beautiful hop’s induced carbs melt away without doing any more exercise than walking to the fridge to get another cold one.

Vacation Idea: Outer Banks North Carolina

Think beaches, classic Eastern seaboard living and beautiful light houses. Think relaxation: tanning on the beach, dinning on fresh sea food and shopping in quaint local artists gift shops. Does this sound like a place for you? Then start thinking about going to the Outer Banks North Carolina for your next holdiay.

Career Change

Ever dream of quitting the rat race of the 8 to 5? Of being your own boss? Of trying something new? How about being a painter? What’s that? No artistic abilities? No problem. We’re not talking about being the next Picasso, we’re talking interior painting-as in a roller on a pole painting walls. This new Painting Franchise opportunity allows you to paint for a living as part of an exciting new franchise business. Take control of your life by painting a new life for yourself.

Product of the Week: Printable Greeting Cards

The holidays are finally over and I am just now finally getting to that dreaded task: holiday greeting cards. Yes, I know, I am a bit late this year but hey, better late than never. “Why the tardiness?” you ask. Simple, I’m lazy. Let me explain: To get greeting cards out on time requires me leaving the warmth of my couch and submit myself to the mercy of the cold and the angry hoards of rabid shoppers trying to purchase last minute greeting cards. For my personal safety, I simply decided to wait until after the holidays. But as I was hiding at home and searching the net, I came across the perfect product: Printable Greeting Cards. Now I can simply purchase greeting cards from the comfort, and relative safety, of my home. Life truly is beautiful.