Friday, November 30, 2012

This Amazon Review of Elf on the Shelf Made Me Laugh

Apparently there is a fairly common Christmas tradition called "Elf on the Shelf". The gist of the tradition is that children are told Santa sent an elf to watch them and report back about their behavior. The elf itself is a small stuffed toy that you are required to move to a different position in the house every night. The "Rules" stated in the children's book that you purchase with the elf are as follows. 

 * The children cannot touch the elf or he will lose his magic
* The elf can listen to what the children tell him, but cannot talk back, that's Santa's law.
* The elf flies back to the North Pole each night and tells Santa what he has seen - when he comes back he goes to a new spot in the house.

The children involved are also required to name the elf. A name that will stick with the elf for the duration of the tradition. It's been a long time since an Amazon review has made me chuckle the way this one did. So without further ado, a review of Elf on the Shelf by Amazon reviewer "Pi"

So, I bought this adorable elf, whom my three precious children named "Buttface" last year at Christmas time. Before Buttface arrived in our home I was at my wits end. My children would write on the walls with markers, crayons and even oil based paints. They would swing from the light fixture above our dining room table until it finally was pulled out of the ceiling. We had been dining by candlelight even since until Joey decided to light little Jimmy's hair on fire one night as they fought over who got the red fork at dinner. We couldn't even have a Christmas tree because Jack would try and climb it, or we would catch Jimmy swinging at it's trunk with his Boy Scouts ax. I didn't blame the dear child of course, he was merely using his vivid imagination to play a game of "Lumberjack". Instead we would have the Christmas Shoe Box for Santa to put the presents in. I don't care what anyone says, it was just as festive as any old tree. Eventually though I realized that my children were not behaving in a socially acceptable way when the FBI showed up at my door because the boys had called in a bomb threat to get out of a spelling test at school. Terribly upset, I consulted my pediatrician and we both agreed that my children's behavioral issues were no fault of my own and that the ONLY solution to my discipline problems was "The Elf on The Shelf".

I brought Buttface out of his box the day after Thanksgiving. For the entire month of December Jimmy, Joey and Jack were perfect angels. Cowering in abject fear over this tiny stuffed doll they behaved as well as the baby Jesus himself. It did make for a few night time bed wetting accidents as they were afraid to get out of bed at night for fear Buttface would be lurking in the hallway. Not once did they bite the dog, cut my hair while I slept or try to hotwire the car. It was a new record in our home. We actually got to have a tree that year and I thought my parenting troubles were over!! Bless you Buttface!

However, on December 26th, giddy with all the loot Santa had bought, which was a lot since they had been so extra good with the help of Buttface, my children knew they were off the hook for the next 11 months! They were back at it again, tipping over our refrigerator, trying to bathe the cat in the dishwasher and scamming old ladies out of their retirement by claiming to be princes from Nigeria in some email scam they had running.

So, in despair, I am asking that there be an elf of this nature to spy on my children and keep them on the straight and narrow year round! I know it would make my life a whole lot easier to know that I had an inanimate object in my house that was keeping my children on the straight and narrow and could take over the parenting duties on a daily basis, not just at Christmas time. Parenting is very hard work and we need all the help we can get. If I don't have a toy such as this to teach my children right from wrong under the guise of spying on them and denying them presents if they behave badly, how will they ever learn?? Please, please, won't somebody think of the children!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Mud to Suds

I'm afraid I sometimes have a tendency to jump right into things that interest me on a whim. I have a largely unused pile crafting supplies, including  pearler beads, some accrylic paint, Mod-podge, a hot glue gun and a pair of completely unused knitting needles. Lately I jumped head first into "Magic The Gathering" which is quite fun, actually. But this tendency just caused me to pay 30 bucks to enter a 5k at the end of the month. Oh, and instead of just being a regular 5k it has a series of 17 obstacles in between the starting point and the finish line, most of which include mud pits with the occasional climbing wall thrown in.

I should let you know, I don't exercise much. So, when I signed up for this (after paying the non-refundable entry fee) I looked into the "Couch to 5k" training plans. To my dismay they all required about nine weeks of prep. I have a little over two. I attempted running a little less than a mile yesterday and collapsed when I got home, firefighting my cats in the process. I'm exited at the idea of training for something like this, and it honestly sounds like a blast, so basically you should all do it too! It's on September 23 (2012) here is the link for more information.

Also, here are my new kittens

Monday, August 27, 2012


Penpal, the novel by Dathan Auerbach was originally written in a series of posts to reddit ( you can read the stories here but I would suggest you purchase a copy of the book. It became increasingly popular due to it's realism and eery, yet familiar imagery that was all too relate-able to almost anyone. It began as a series of posts that detailed creepy events from the "authors childhood". As the stories progress you learn that these spooky incidents are not at all unrelated. After reading the first three stories in one night I found something happen that hadn't happened to me in years: I couldn't sleep. It was too scary. As someone that relishes fear through literature and movies, this was a blast.

     Though not as scary the second time through (partially because I read the entire series only at nights the first time through) the novel is one of the finest examples of horror I've ever read. It isn't supernatural, it isn't overly gory or explicitly violent, however it is too familiar. The story centers around a boy as he grows up. The descriptions, the locations and the events are very familiar to anyone that grew up in North America. The author relates things that we've taken for granted such as hearing the pulse in our ears or the noises one might hear when exploring the woods. He takes these things and gives them a completely rational explanation that is more horrifying than you might expect.
     After encouragement from the online community, Auerback posted a proposal on Kickstarter to turn his series of terrifying short stories into a novel. His goal was met and surpassed almost immediately. The stories change very little, mostly in formatting from the web to the novel version. However there are some juicy alterations and extra tidbits in the book that were later additions. Self publishing has come a long way, and this book is a prime example of how someone's hard work can certainly pay off. This is a story that people love and voiced their desire to see it turn into something that they could support. If this sounds like something that interests you I highly recommend reading the original reddit thread (linked at the top of the post) and then buying it off amazon by clicking here. It is available as both a paperback and a kindle version.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Sea Otter Vs River Otters

It has been almost no contest in my mind that River Otters outweigh Sea Otters on the cuteness scale. That is until today. Nellie the Sea Otter has upped the ante with her cup stacking ability.

Just because this little guy (gal) is capable of putting a few cups together doesn't mean it's a landslide; all it means is that the playing field is evened out. Sea Otters won this battle, but if I keep seeing stuff like River Otters playing piano duets, we're in for one long war that I'm eager to cheer on.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Popcorn and Peril

Just wanted to give a quick announcement about a new blog I started. This will probably come off as redundant, considering my readership base is about seven people and I'm sure of those seven maybe one is unaware of this second blog I've started. However, I would like to formerly introduce Popcorn and Peril where I talk about movies. I would love for you guys to take a look and maybe leave a comment. I hope it can become a place where some of us can discuss movies. If you get a chance, take a look.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Safety Razors

For the first time since I started shaving, I switched things up a bit. I have used cartridge razors for my entire shaving career (career?). I have been incredibly loyal to the Gillette brand of razors through most of that time. Through some error, I received my first Gillette Mach III in the mail on my 17th birthday. Any man over the age of 18 will know that this was a mistake, because on your 18th birthday you receive a free Gillette razor, usually the most current model, in the mail.The Gillette marketing machine worked perfectly on me. I bought refills up until about a month ago. They worked well and were sold practically everywhere. The problem with them was this: They are expensive. Seriously, I'm sure 90 percent of guys already know exactly what I'm talking about. I started to look for alternatives after seeing this video

I signed up for this. But before receiving my first shipment I cancelled. I started reading up on old fashioned safety razors, which is what I've been using for the past 2 weeks. Let me tell you, it's been a good investment. Not wanting to drop 100 bucks on shaving equipment I didn't want, I went with some pretty basic stuff from amazon. Namely this razor handle, this shaving brush/soap/bowl combo and 100 of these razor refills. The total for all of this was about the equivalent of a four pack of Gillette Fusion blades. All the "guides" on this type of shaving suggested buying a variety pack of blades to see which ones you like, but the price was too good. I am pretty much set for the next two years. Not only does my new getup shave just as well as my fusion (pretty impressive for being on the lower side in terms of price) but it's a fraction of the price and a lot more fun to shave with. I actually get to lather up shaving cream with a brush!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Craigslist Ad

On occasion I will peruse various sections of craigslist. I have seen this ad posted multiple times over the span of many months. I had mixed reactions about the whole thing, and thought you all (yes, all seven of you) might like to see this. The reward listed was at $9,999,999, leading me to think that craigslist bounty hunting might be my calling. The ad reads as follows (copied and pasted. Also, I just noticed that the date for the original ad was back in 2006, this means that whoever posted this ad has been repeatedly doing so for the past 6 years.)

Searching for my adopted pets (In or near Whatcom County)
Date: 2012-03-06, 6:55PM PST
Reply to: your anonymous craigslist address will appear here

Back in January of 2008 I lost access to my eight cats and dog. Jeannine adopted four of my cats and my dog out to people while I was without means to stop said actions. Either from her home address on Lakeway Drive, Bellingham, or from Bellingham Veterinary off of James and Virginia streets.

I have every intention of paying exorbitant amounts of reward money for one or more of my cats.

The cats were adopted in mid January or early February of 2008

Raistlin and Protector Kitten were paired up with a family that was apparently informed of Raistlin's bladder crystal buildup and the Science Diet CD cat food he needs to eat to reduce crystals. I'm told they lived around "the lake or "a lake". Raistlin has golden eyes, darkest tabby stripes with a slightly orange underbelly and weighs 15 pounds, possibly 17 today. Raistlin has a raspy breathing habit that comes and goes, like an asthmatic.

Protector has green eyes, is natural tabby colored and 16 to 22 pounds.Both these boys are nine (11) years old.

Wallace Widget Kinky Kitty went to another family. She has a broken tail, three major breaks, hence K.K. She is nine years old and sister to the above cats and aunt to my little vvv...Wally weighs 11 possibly 18 pounds. Wally is a dark striped tabby with moon eyes and a penchant for pounding her head into any humans face. Wally is friendly to a fault and will say hello to any human and most other animals.

Lastly is little (vvv) Vquetius, a small black and white tuxedo cat that happens to be tailess. She is four years (9) old now. She is the first born to a litter of three female, tailess kittens. She tends to be a loner, not interacting with other than myself regularly. She was supposedly adopted by a circulating foster home to show children that they can be loved without a background.

My oldest is 14 now...the second generation would be 11 and the third generation is currently 9

[Serenity Calamity Trinity was my beautiful austrailian shepherd pit bull mix of about sixty pounds. Black on white with spots. Serenity has two black teardrops to the right of her right eye and a tornado/triangle of white patched upon her right flank. (UPDATE c. June 2011 MY MOTHER MURDERED HER WITH THE INHUMANE SOCIETIES HELP)

All of these animals miss me and remember me. I am willing to pay silly amounts of money to be reunited with them one or all. Please call me at (new number pending) if you can lead me to my loved ones. I'm available by phone if you contact me by email first.

P.S. animals not taken were Taniquetil, Shelby Princess Kitiara and her two daughters Kimiaquetil and Diusfrakkibbquiel. Taniquetil is a light gray on dark stripes tailess manx. Shelby is a medium shade tabby manx. Kimiaquetil is a light gray manx. Dius is a fuzzy black dust mote. Just to jog your memories if you happened to log these cats in your memory banks. Thank you. God, please reunite me.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

My Training To Be A Kirby Vacuum Salesman

This post is about the time I was, briefly, hired by the Kirby Vacuum company.
I'm fairly certain that in previous posts I have mentioned the fact that upon migrating to Washington in the fall of 2010, I spent a few months unemployed and living in a trailer on the driveway of my future in laws home. During this time, I followed any job lead I could find. This consisted of turning in countless applications, souring job posting websites, newspaper listings, and shopping centers for the possibility of finding work. I even bought 15 dollar paper to print my short, but impressively formatted, resume on.
I was desperate. While browsing the job listing section of craigslist I would write down numbers and addresses, then head out with a book full of references, and a folder full of resumes and apply to any place that was hiring. While in the parking lot of the local Ross, I called up one of the listings I had seen on craigslist that was labelled as a “sales position” A few rings later a man answered the phone, I informed him that I was interested in the position. He, without hesitation, informed me that he would see me in an hour for an interview. As I said, I was parked in front of Ross, so I hopped out, bought a white shirt and red tie, and proceeded to drive to the per-determined location.
I struggled to locate the building that seemed to accessible only through narrow back alleys. As I parked my black 86 Audi I was borrowing from my future father in law, I was certain that this had to be the wrong place. The building was two stories and looked very rundown. Very few cars adorned the lot and the inside looked fairly dark. But I was determined to get this job. I verified the address with the one I had written down. With all the confidence I could muster, I strolled through the door, my new shirt with the standard fold lines that come with a garment worn fresh out of it's packaging.
The inside was grungy and not well lit. I asked if this was where the job interview was, to which the answer was an old clipboard with an application attached to it thrust into my chest. I filled out the application and sat waited. After some time, I small man entered the room, he held a very bloody paper towel around his left thumb. He greeted me and shrugged off the, what appeared to be mortal, injury as a paper cut.
He was the interviewer, and he filled me in with how great a company this was, and how, in dollar amounts, the man who owned the company was just bellow Bill Gates in worth. An interesting fact, considering the current state of this building. He went on to inform me that I could become fabulously wealthy. The interview commenced and he inquired about my scholastic and professional background, taking notes on my resumes that appeared to be squiggly doodles to my untrained eye, the whole time he applied pressure to his oozing thumb.
After ten minutes, I realized I had been given the job, a job that I still knew very little about. I was to report for training in a few days.
What passed the next couple of days was little less than elation. I had found a job, and I was going to be trained that same week as a member of the elite sales force of the Kirby Vacuum cleaner company. However that joy turned to cautious skepticism. After reading online testimonials about the same position I was applying for, I found it was not going to be as easy as the little man (seriously, he had to have been about 100 pounds) had let on. Namely the reports were of having been left in strange neighborhoods, not being paid until spending at least two hours demonstrating the product to a house, various things like that. But I was not in despair yet.
The day of training arrived, and I had no idea what to expect. I put on a nice shirt and some slacks and headed to the shabby building. I was in store for an eight hour training session (without pay, I later found out) that consisted of two points 1. This vacuum cleaner is the best thing in any of the infinite number of parallel universes, and 2. The company we were going to be working for was awesome and would make you extremely rich, and give you lots of free vacations, and cure cancer and stuff (paraphrasing).
Upon entering the building I was told to go into the next room. On the other side of the door sat five other individuals, all eager for work. The room itself was small and the carpet dirty and dank, a foreboding sign for this line of work. A raised area about 10x6 feet and 4 inches off the ground was directly in front of the six seats that had been set up in an awkward square in the center of the room. Blaring directly in front of us on the wall was a DVD that looped Michael Jackson music videos while we waited. To my right were a series of vacuum cleaners, all worn and old, except for the one immaculate Kirby that sat at the head of the line.
Before I could even comprehend what was going on, the man that had interviewed me was on the small, raised platform and dancing along to “Beat It” He introduced himself and basically spent the entire introduction telling us not to make fun of his size. He failed to acknowledge his laugh, which throughout the course of 8 hours became far more noticeable and irritating than his stature. He rambled on about the awesomeness of the company and how other vacuum cleaners sucked (or didn't suck, I guess). I think what struck me most was how unprofessional the entire presentation was. The perks of the job mostly consisted of being invited to parties where everyone got drunk on the companies dime.
Everything else aside, forget unprofessionalism, dingy building, and the nail-on-chalkboard laugh, the product itself was solid. The Kirby vacuum was designed to last, it did a variety of jobs and it did them all well. The best part of the demonstration was when the other man running the presentation (it was a tag team ordeal) put two pieces of gun in between two filters, vacuumed up some dirt, and then pulled that gum out of the machine and chew on it, then he made one of the guys in the front chew the other one.
Then came the price. This thing cost over $1,300. It sucked up a lot of dust, but at the end of the day, that's all it did, and they expected me to go hawk these things door to door, every day with that price tag on. On top of that, at the end of the session they wanted me to write down eight appointments to demonstrate, and try to sell the product to, friends and family.
In the end, I came to the realization that I was not cut out for this type of work. I called that night and informed them and never looked back.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Home Security

Perhaps the only somewhat logical fear I have (aside from sharks) is someone breaking into my house. Just the thought of someone being in my house with me totally unaware, or breaking in suddenly is terrifying. This fear came about, and I cannot explain why, immediately after watching the movie “Gremlins”. Throughout most of my life, I have set up little “alarm systems” to alert me of anyone's presence, usually in the form of something falling over if a window or door is opened, the idea being that I would be able to jump to action and completely disable/maim the intruder with my bare hands. However I would almost always end up scaring myself more than necessary, especially when my “alarms” tripped themselves.
Naturally, this fear kicked my mind into overdrive, and I came up with two (in my mind) very effective methods of protecting myself in the event of a break in.
Scenario one involved me spending quite a large amount of money on after-halloween sales. The idea being that I buy as much fake blood and body parts as I could afford, and turn my home into a waking nightmare. I thought through it, if I were to break into someone's house, for whatever reason, only to find that I had just broken into a human butcher shop in the vein of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" , Chains hanging from the ceiling, dismembered arms and legs strewn about, and gallons of dyed red corn starch staining the shag carpet, I would be high-tailing it out of there, stat. The upkeep would certainly be substantial, but well worth it. At least in my mind. Presenting the idea to my wife brought on a whole onslaught of objections, namely having to do with the overall aesthetics of the home. I'm not really the interior decorative type.
The second idea was much more simple. If an intruder were to breach all other lines of defenses I would simply remain calm, and act demon possessed. Laughing, talking in an unnaturally deep, raspy voice, spouting nonsense, saying I've been expecting the intruder. Again, the idea coming from putting myself in the mind of the intruder. If I were to be unfortunate enough to break into a home that was long overdue for an exorcism I would certainly think twice about my career choice to have become a burglar.
Fortunately, I've not had the pleasure of trying out either of these methods, and simply keep blunt objects within reach of my bed. Still, not terrible ideas in my opinion.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Teacup Candles

For Christmas I made my mother and aunts candles made of thrift store teacups. I bought microwavable soy wax, Pomegranate scent and wicks. Using Shannon's good Tupperware, I proceeded to melt the wax in the microwave. I poured the wax into my teacups and let it sit overnight. Here is the result.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Pumpkin Prop

As Halloween approached this past year, I spent quite a bit of time developing characters for and writing a mystery party. Themed in the 1920s, and was heavily based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft. Among the various errands I had to attend to, perhaps the most difficult was "prop maker" I spent much time attempting to create an object that could reconcile both my imagination and my real world "crafting" ability (which, in comparison to my overambitious imagination was severely lacking.)

The prop in question was to be an alien beacon that would serve as the focal point of the evening. Should evil prevail, the beacon would be completed by inserting the necessary gems. I settled on a design consisting of paint, a hot glue gun, a decorative jar lid, and a foam pumpkin.

Shannon made me plan everything out before I started