Stranger in a Strange Land: March 2007

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

IT Support

Technology have you dazed and confused? Does it seem like you have all the right equipment to run a smooth operation but nothing seems to work and it’s costing you more than its worth? Perhaps it/s time to bring in the experts- Telecom Consulting. Telecom consultants will help you and your business evaluate your IT needs and assist you in setting up and understanding how to effectively use your IT support.

The Great Outdoors, Plugged In

Have trouble sleeping because it’s simply too quite? Can’t use the radio because you end up stating up and listening the music? Don’t want to keep the windows open for the natural noise of the great outdoors because it is twenty below out there? How about using a Sound Machines and capturing the lullaby sounds of the outdoors without the cold, bugs, rain or heat?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Catholic Passes

There is a store below my office that specializes in selling Catholic Gifts. The storefront window is full kings, Mary’s, and little Jesus statutes. I always thought the Catholic mentality was that being a Catholic was the greatest gift of all. Perhaps the Catholic Church could market this idea and sell the gift of being Catholic. For a nominal fee you could buy a card designating you as a Catholic for a day, week or month.

Weak Addictions

Remember when Brett Farve was had a Prescription Drug Addiction? Sadly, I thought that was kind of funny. As a Bears fan, any flaw on the opposing side is a small, personal victory. “Seems right,” I thought, a Packer can’t even get addicted to a real drug. Then the Packers went on to win the Super Bowl. I didn’t think that was too funny.

Writing in Style

I like to write. In fact, between being a lawyer and a freelance writer, I write quite a bit. Yes, most of the time I use my laptop and write right on the electronic screen, but sometime a laptop just doesn’t work. When those times come, it’s time to turn to the old fashioned pen. Why just write with any old ordinary pen when you can write with a logo pen? Whether it’s your company’s logo or the mascot of your favorite sports team, Logo Pens allow you to add some originality to your old-fashioned writing tools.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Dr. Freeze

The worse thing about going to the doctor is not the shots, the pokes or the sound of a latex glove snapping on a wrist. No, there’s nothing worse than the goose-bump-inducing cold chill that runs up your spine when the doctor puts the metallic stethoscope on your chest. I swear, they keep their Stethoscopes in the freezer just to watch us cringe.

Disney Time

Speaking of being in the vacation-mind set, how about a trip to Orlando? Enjoy the Sunshine State with a relaxing stay at an Orlando Vacation Rental. Sleep in, take a dip in the pool, visit such sites as Universal Studios and Disney World, and rejuvenate yourself…and work on your tan before summer. So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags, grab those ridiculous mouse ears, and head south.

New York State of Mind

Are you in a New York state of mind? Spring is here (or summer, judging by the eighty degree temperatures outside) and it is the perfect time to take a big-city escape. Wonder around Central Park, dine in the many cafes and restaurants, or simply go on a spending splurge. When you’re tired, how about resting your feet at a New York Bed and Breakfast?

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Trucks and Tool Boxes and Tools, Oh My

I don’t have a truck, but if I did have a truck, I’d have a truck toolbox in it. Of course if I had a truck toolbox, I’d need to also have truck tools to put in the truck toolbox. If I had truck tools in my truck tool box inside my truck, I’d have to have the knowledge to use my truck tools on my truck, otherwise what’s the point of having the truck toolbox in the first place? Sound like a lot of work. I’ll stick with my SUV.

Not My Cup of Tea

My dad use to paint houses in the summer. I don’t know what the price to paint a house is, but if I had a house that needed painting, I’d pay the price. I remember seeing my Dad stretched out from the top of a two story ladder trying to paint an out-of-the-way corner, only to have a bird fly by and shit on it immediately after the coat of paint is put on. Add the heat, and the fact I have no idea how to paint, and you’ll see me reaching for my checkbook instead of a brush.

Sleeper Sofa Dreams

Yes, they may be big, bulky, heavy and a general pain to move but their dual purpose makes them worth the hassle. Sleeper Sofas: the coach potatoes dream. By day you can sit, drink beer, eat chips and watch T.V. from the comfort of its cushions. Come night, pull out the mattress and you can drink beer, eat chips, watch T.V. and pass out from the comforts of its springy mattress.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

It's a Dog's Life

“What does it mean to live a dog’s life?,” I wonder as I am joined by an overly-excited canine while out on a run. Bounding over melting snow banks, tongue wrapped around the back of his head and tail wagging, he comes out of nowhere to run along by my side. I look down. He looks up. And we continue our run, no questions asked. By the glint in my newfound friend’s eyes, I knew there had to be more to a dog’s life than chasing your tail, marking your territory in yellow and embarrassing owners by humping inappropriate legs at inopportune times.

My first experience with The Dog’s Life was with Boxy, named for the cardboard fruit box my family brought him home in. He was a black and white miniature poodle with, depending on his need for a haircut, either a tight mass of curls or a Cousin It-like mop. Boxy was every kid’s dream, an always-ready playmate and constant source of entertainment. Whether it was fetch, tag, wrestling, camping or simply chasing each other around the backyard, Boxy’s tail was wagging with a readiness to play. One time we decided not to bring Boxy camping with us, instead opting to kennel him. Upon our return we learned he had somehow escaped. Despite our citywide search and telephone-post fliers, Boxy was never seen again. I like to think he couldn’t stand the idea of us having fun without him and, letting his spirit of adventure get the best of him, set out on an epic journey to find us; like a never-ending game of fetch.

My running partner and I begin to head up a steep hill where we pass a random pile of dead fish. The dog stops to sniff and I run on. Just when I think perhaps I have lost him, I hear the patter of paws on pavement as he sprints up the hill, quickly gaining ground.

Licorice was my next dog, a black, scraggly haired, floppy-eared mutt. She was the epitome of a small dog: a bundle of nerves with an ear-piercing yap. Although she pulled instead of walked, had a tendency of jumping onto the kitchen table and helping herself to meals, and often left smelly surprises in the basement, she was full of love. Licorice was a dog who loved with her tongue hanging out. When you left she was sad and when you returned she greeted you at the door with a wet lick across the nose. Even when she was old, blind and simultaneously eating, digesting and depositing food, she always made an attempt to lick a hello and be a loving part of our family.

We run along Hales Mills Road, me on the sidewalk and he surfing the snow. It’s been nearly two miles and he shows no sign of tiring, or going back home. For now, I am stuck.

While away at college my family got their next dog, Juneau. Tired of the small dog, they decided to upgrade to a larger breed, namely a beautiful, black and white, blue-eyed Siberian Huskie. Juneau is best known for her independent, carefree and surprisingly human personality. Despite her size, she curls up on your lap. She has a fetish for plastic bottles, she’ll talk to you for conversation sake, and she has the tenacity to unsuccessfully chase the same squirrel for the past seven years. But none of this captures her free-spirit like the ridiculous, candy-cane striped jingle bell collar and anklets my parents bought her for Christmas. Although most dogs would be petrified at the thought of being seen in public in such an outfit, Juneau, always on the cutting edge of doggie-fashion, pranced down Asbury with an air of unheralded, jingling and self-confident pride.

As I go into the Asbury City Hall to see what I should do about my dog, he sits and waits patiently outside the glass door. When they decide to bring him inside and find his real owner, he looks back at me and hesitates, sending me a pleading look that clearly says, “Aren’t you coming?” It was a short-lived look, however, as it was soon replaced with a gleam of excitement as he befriended the employees of city hall. Yet it was in his eyes that I am reminded of the meaning of a dog’s life. Quite simply, he said, “Play with your tail wagging, love with your tongue hanging out, and prance through life like it’s nobody’s business but yours.”

Monday, March 19, 2007


Thinking of moving? How about moving to Raleigh, North Carolina? I’ve heard the weather is decent, the city is great, and the beach and mountains are within a day’s drive away. Before you move, be sure to look into Raleigh North Carolina Real Estate to see if you can’t find a home that’s perfect for you. Then all you have to do is pack your bags and move.

Make Me Skinny

It’s spring break time. That time of the year that we all fly to someplace warm, put on our swim trunks or swim suits, and head to the beach where we blind the locals with our pale skin and embarrass ourselves with our winter-weight. For the sake of the locals, next year try some pre-trip planning, including fake baking and Weight Loss.

Upgrade My Memory

Wouldn’t it be nice if humans were like computers? For example, when computer’s memories get full or out-of-date, you simply purchase a Computer Memory Upgrade. Why can’t it be the same for humans? Your mind getting a bit rusty? Simply purchase a memory upgrade and no more forgetting meetings or your kid’s names.

Go Golf'n

It’s getting to be that time of year again. Time to dust off the Golf Clubs and head out to the greens for another season of pretending I know what I’m doing and pretending even more like I actually care to know. I’m not a golfer. What I enjoy about golf is hitting the ball and seeing what happens. What I don’t like about golf is how serious everybody is.

Tell It Like It Is

Why do they call life insurance life insurance when you can’t collect it until your dead. Doesn’t seem fair to me. Just a way of putting a nice touch on an otherwise morbid concept in order to increase sales, I guess. But what I respect are companies who tell it like it is. Don’t get life insurance, get Death Insurance. Seems like a good idea to me.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Islands of Sofas

Speaking of furniture replacement, it will be tough finding a replacement for the notorious red sofa. But now I have an excuse to get the sofa I always really wanted. That’s right, I’m talking about Sectional Sofas. You know, the type that curve, have multiple recliners and look like they should line the wall in the back of a nightclub. What entices me is the idea of being able to break the sections apart and scatter them throughout the house like an abstract-jigsaw-puzzle of a sofa. A bunch of sofa islands…

Moving Out

Since I’m moving, I need to start thinking about finding new furniture for my new European flat. Granted, we could bring our current furniture over with us, and some of it we will, but other stuff must be left behind. For example, the barge-sized red sofa. I don’t think it will fit into a narrow hallway in downtown Brussels. Thus, it’s time to go shopping for replacement furniture. The best place to start? Online, particularly at Powell Furniture.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Cabin Fever

Driving up University Avenue I pass the Kingdom Carwash. If you have ever driven past the Kingdom Carwash you will notice that their symbol is a fish. Not just any fish, but a Jesus Fish. FYI: a Jesus Fish is a small doodle of a single line somewhat resembling a fish that Darwinist like to put little feet on and stick to the back of their cars. The Jesus Fish has not evolved to the feet stage yet, but then again, what fish has? The reason these fish are called Jesus Fish is because early Christians thought it would someday look cool when carved into bricks and used to build a Catholic high school in Dubuque. All this begs the question, however, of what Jesus and Fish have to do with shiny cars? Did the second coming of Christ happen and nobody noticed because his heavenly Kingdom was built in the guise of a corner-lot, self-serve carwash? This being the case, when I get my car washed at his Kingdom will it be doused in Holy Water and scrubbed by a team of suds-covered angels resembling the heavenly creatures found on the pages of Victoria’s Secret? The Lord moves in mysterious ways my friends. Crazy, crazy ways…

I pick up the paper and see a large color photo of a soldier crouching behind a car and armed with a very big gun. I think he is a soldier because he is dressed in camouflage, combat boots and a bulletproof helmet. But when I read the caption I discover I have been fooled. He isn’t a soldier after all – he’s a Dubuque Police Officer. This makes me think, “What is the function of a camouflage uniform in the situation depicted in the photograph?” If I recall correctly, the purpose of camouflage is to blend in with your surroundings and not be seen. Yet here is a large, front-page photo of a man in dark green camouflage hiding in a winter wonderland of bright, white snow. In the background carloads of spectators are watching the camouflaged-police-officer-pretending-to-be-a-soldier trying not to be seen. You’re it. Ollie Ollie Oxen Free. Crazy I tell you…

Trying to figure out how to file one’s taxes is absolutely maddening. I have a box full of receipts and no clue what to do. I try using a computer-based program but it asks me big, complicated math based questions and I quickly become frustrated. Instead I just grab my box of soon-to-be-pleas to the IRS and head for the hills. On my way I pass a man dressed up as a lady, Lady Liberty to be exact, waving to me from the corner of Asbury and J.F.K. Anyone standing out in freezing temperatures dressed like that cannot be completely sane, so I expect to see Mr. Lady Liberty wearing a sandwich board stating “The End of the World is Nye”. Imagine my pleasant surprise when I find that he, or she, is in fact offering to do my taxes. What luck! The symbol that for generations has stood as a beacon to the American Dream is now a cross-dressing tax advisor willing to either help take my money from the government or help the government take money from me (it’s really only a matter of perspective). Call me crazy, but God bless the U.S.A…

Downtown, I pull my car up to the curb and put it in park. When I attempt to open the door I discover it will not budge. Peering out the frost-coated window, I see a ten-foot snow bank that the city plows have so thoughtfully filled all the parking spaces with blocks me. Instead I crawl across the front seat, become temporarily impotent thanks to the obtrusively protruding shift stick, and roll out onto the street via the passenger side door. I then manage to shuffle up and over the mountain of snow, only to sink up to my knees in it. All of this in order to reach the parking meter that I am required to feed with quarters in exchange for the use of a snow filled parking space. My shoes and pants’ legs are soaking wet and I am quickly turning blue. This gets me thinking, “Why I am paying to use a spot filled with frozen water?” Shouldn’t the city be paying me for opting to stay here as opposed to taking my spending money and moving to where the water is still warm, like Miami, or Mexico, or Belgium, or something…

To borrow a favorite quote of a friend by the name of Jen, “This is crazy. This is crazy. This is crazy.” …This is cabin fever.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Backyard Oil Field

Hate going to the gas station? Gas at a low price right now and you wish you could stock pile it like a Middle Eastern nation? Guess what? Now you can! With a transfer tank, you can now store as much gas and fuel as you want all in the convenience of shiny silver boxes. Set them around your yard and you’ll have your own backyard oil field.