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Life After Death

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Photo: Drinking it warm, of course...


Back in the day, my buddies and I had a tradition where we would drink a warm Dead Guy each year to prove our manliness.  I remember it being a vile task.  Yesterday, I was at Booze R Us getting beer flavored water for the MIL and I saw a single of the Dead Guy.  I thought that I would get some to see if it still tasted as horrid as it did before.

Before I get to the outcome of my experience, let me give you some history.

The year was 1990 and it was a tumultuous time for our nation. The clear beverage craze gave us all a reason to live. The information superhighway showed the average person what some nerd thinks about Star Trek. And the domestication of the dog continued unabated.  This was also the year that a show called Twin Peaks hit the airwaves.

The two most critical plot lines in Twin Peaks was that a high school student was murdered and there was a place called the Bookhouse.  And for the purposes of this post, the Bookhouse is the only critical point.

On February 23, 1990 it was raining and we were thirsty.  My three friends and I all had our Mickey’s Bigmouth malt liquor and we were ready to hit the road.  The quantity of the rain made us stop and think for a moment about driving all the way out to Prarie City to go drinking, which was longer than we were accustomed to stopping and thinking.  The baby of the group said that there was an older couple who lived by him who had an old woodshed and the suggested we ask if we could go there to drink.  He went up to his neighbors and explained our predicament.  The husband said that he would rather we go down there instead of driving all the way too boonies.  He even offered the use of a hibachi to have a small fire and an old oil burning lantern for light.  So we grabbed our beer and headed down.

First we lit the lantern, then the fire.  Finally it was our turn.  For reasons unknown to me, we agreed that we would not leave that night until the lantern ran out of oil.  I think we ended up being down there for at least three or four hours.  We headed home afterwards and that was that.

The next night rolled around and we found ourselves drawn the woodshed.  Over the course of the next four years, we spent two or three nights a week in what became known as the Bookhouse.  We each had our own chair and visitors were seldom welcome.  Every night included several rituals that still remain whenever we get together today.

The first was that each time we went down there, we had to bring two beers that had never entered the book house.  This was 25 years ago and micro breweries were just coming into their own and new beer was hard to come by.  We frequented Cost Plus and out-of-the-way liquor stores.  Often our rovings for new beer took out of Sacramento county, and more than once into different states.  By the time we had our last book house, we had amassed over 300 different kinds of beer in the book house.

At the end, we had consumed over 2,000 bottles of beer.  And at the end, we had yet to remove a single bottle from the Book House.  For reasons as obscure as those that drove the lantern decision, we keep all the bottles.  There was an old saw table that served as the receptacle for the remnants of libatious habit.  After the table was full, we moved on to the shelving, the floors, the rafters, anything that could hold a bottle.

We even spent a portion of each evening reminding each other of the importance of proper hygiene when using the toilet.

So now you are probably thinking, ‘We are 653 words into this post.  When are you going to get to the Dead Guy!’  Ok, ok, here is the story.

One evening, we were opening some of the new beers.  The drill was this: Each person would open their own beer, take a drink, and pass it down.  We would each take a drink and comment on the beer.  One of the nights beers was Dead Guy and we all proclaimed to be so bad that only true men could drink this stuff.  So we started an annual tradition of drinking one warm Dead Guy each year.  Back then, they printed the date on the barrel of the Dead Guy sits on.

Fast forward a couple of decades.  I cracked the brew above open and drank it, warm of course.  ‘So, how’d you like it?’….

Dr. Theodor S. Geisel was a prolific author in the who lived in the twenty-first century.  He penned any number of books that addressed how to change habits and expand your life.  He wrote one particular book that addressed the profound reluctance of a the main character, to try a new, grassy hued food, accompanied with swine-dish.  Through out the book, this unnamed character is relentlessly pursued by Sam.  Sam proposes that this unnamed character attempt to consume the food in a wide variety of locations and circumstances.  Sam’s wild juxtaposition of suggestions lends no credence to either the quality of his character or credentials as a gourmand.  Despite these flaws, Sam is able to convince his prey that his concoction is not only editable, it is delicious.  At the end of the book, this unnamed character is heard to exclaim:

I like green eggs and ham! 
I do!! I like them, Sam-I-am!’

My reaction to Dead Guy was very similar (sans the drinking with a goat.  A guy has to draw the line somewhere).  I like Dead Guy Ale and ha… never mind.

And so it goes.



Support the WWF!

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So, every now and then I find a picture on the internets that just really slays me.  Above is one such example.

For all the filth and slime I find on the web, you can occasionally find a random funny nugget like this.  It’s nice to find.

On a similar note, one of my Facebook groups is called SAGE – Society for the Advancement of Gooder English.  (I say ‘my’ like I created it…)  This is good clean fun that does not single someone out, but allows us to laugh at the absurdities that are already out there.

Please be sure to share some of your own examples!

And so it goes.


Relational Database

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Happy Father’s Day to dads of all kinds.  Speaking of fathers…

These glasses belong to my father-in-law, Pete.  We hit the farmers market this week and I noticed Pete’s glasses.  I haven’t seen a pair of Vuarnets in probably 20 years.  A picture of my brother immediately came to mind.  This picture is of him wearing a blue and gold rugby shirt from the high school rugby team, his long blonde hair, his high school acne, his car, and his Vuarnets.  So to summarize:

  • Rugby
  • Long blonde hair
  • An aqua-blue ’65 Chevy Super Sport Impala
  • Vuarnets

What struck me was the way I remembered this picture.  It was not just a flat picture, but more of a multi-dimensional picture, a welter of imagines cascaded until what I was remembering was only related to original subject by implication.  Here is how that original list panned out:

  • Rugby
  • Blue and gold rugby shirt
  • Rugby shirts have a single piece u-neck so they won’t tear when someone grabs your shirt
  • They also have rubber buttons to protect the players eyes in case one comes off
  • Long blonde hair
  • Biffie refused to cut his hair for a long time
  • My great-grandmother had very long brown hair, much like Biffie’s
  • Acne
  • Biffie took Accutane to help with his acne
  • Accutane can result in deformed bones or cancer
  • Biffie used to give his Accutane to Brett because he also had acne
  • Brett played in a death metal band and I bought their first (only?) album
  • Accutane also causes dry lips
  • Biffie used to carry Carmex with him all the time.  We still find old containers around the house 20 years later
  • An aqua-blue ’65 Chevy Super Sport Impala
  • My mother bought this car brand new in 1965 after graduating from nurses school.
  • Pop (my grandfather) wouldn’t let her get the big motor, just a 283
  • The car had a black interior because Pop wouldn’t let her get white
  • A garbage truck backed into the car and dented the quarter panel
  • That dent let to a complete rebuild of the car
  • Vuarnets
  • Vuarnets have V inscribed on the lens
  • Biffie scratch the bottom of his frames so he could identify the glasses if they were stolen.  And they were.  I don’t know if he ever got them back…

(The format of this just didn’t turn out quite right.  It is supposed be hierarchical, but wordpress doesn’t support that bullet style to well.)

Most of that came to me with 10 seconds of seeing the glasses.  I titled this posted ‘Relational Database’ because I feel like my brain built a giant query and sent me the results.

What would be really interesting is to know how much of what I ‘remember’ never really happened…

And so it goes


Beware Of False Profits

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So, I work at a bank.  I have to admit, it is a nice gig.  We get every federal holiday off and the most vacation I’ve ever had.  My department doesn’t keep banker’s hours, but we don’t work a crazy schedule either.  The poor accounting department though…

We don’t have a lot of exposure to residential real estate, so we escaped the slaughter that has infected other major banks.  Almost.

In statistics there is something called survivorship bias.  The premise is that if you are measuring, say, mutual funds, and you only include those funds that didn’t shut down, you will be overstating your performance because those funds that didn’t survive aren’t around to drag down your average returns.  Or the winner’s curse, where a company tries to take over someone else and outbids everyone to the point where they win the company, but have over paid so much that they will never find value in the transaction.

I’d like to steal those two phrases and reuse them.

Survivorship bias is a bias against the banks who did things well.  If you have a bank account then you are probably familiar with:

Well, the money that is used to pay that $250,000 comes from insurance premiums paid by member banks.  As more banks fail, more money is needed to fund the insurance.  Since there are fewer banks, the surviving banks need to pay more to make up for both the increased risk and smaller pool of premiums.

In the same vein, the winners curse applies because we didn’t lose, we are cursed with higher premiums.

I wonder what the word is for people who purposely misuse existing phrases to fit their own agenda.

Another aspect of the increased government oversight of banking is that we are required to keep more capital on hand to meet expected future losses.  Basically, we are required to reserve our profits from today in anticipation of losses tomorrow.  As a result we would have posted a profit of $30 million for 2010.  Then the regulators came in, shook the magic 8-ball and read:

A quick reference to a random number generator told them that we should reserve $50 million against future losses.  All of the sudden we had to post a $20 million loss.  (Needless to say, these are our real numbers, but you get the idea.)

I admit I am being flippant about the process, but at the end of the day, it’s our accounting mumbo-jumbo against their regulatory mumbo-jumbo.  Some day, we’ll recover from all of this and get back on track.  What I  am most interested to see is the new financial crisis that results from the rules imposed from this financial crisis.  I predict that the new regulations will cause a spike derivatives, led by midgets taking a short position on Bonds, who they think he won’t be prosecuted for PEDs.   Cattle growers will then be bullish on futures, fooling the dance teachers into thinking the markets are in contango.  Naturally, this will lead the auto manufacturers to invest heavily in the ABS market, not realizing that it won’t keep the credit markets from seizing up.

I’ll bet all of my WaMu stock that this happens.  Any takers?

And so it goes.


The Other Brother

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My third brother, Bob, came into town last night.  He showed up at the door wearing what could only be described as a dress.  He said it was a Kaoptaria that he picked up when he was in New Zealand last year.  I didn’t believe him.

I should point out that I have not seen Bob in nearly 17 years.  I don’t talk about him to anyone.  Unless you have known me over 15 years, you have not heard about Bob from me.  I only bring it up now because I think he will be around for a while I wanted to get the word out now before he did.

Bob and I had a falling out about 18 years ago.  I had to do with a girl.  It always did.  Bob was always the ladies man and I, well, I wasn’t.  I had been dating this girl named Lisa Promalleckr (Greek and Polish, I think).  Lisa and I were hitting it off in the way that high school freshmen do when Bob showed up.  ‘Hey there, how’s it hanging!’  And that was the beginning of the end.

Lisa was a sweet girl who had a slight problem.  Her earlobes were large.  Her nickname in primary school was Dumbo.  She immediately thought that Bob was talking to her.  She stormed out leaving me with my brother and a libido in over drive.  I tried to explain what he had done, but he didn’t care.  He never did.  I called Lisa five or six times, but she never called back.  If it weren’t for the fact that my mother begged me to stay close to Bob, I would have cut ties right then and there.

Bob parlayed his little performance into a date with Lisa so he could ‘apologize’.  He apologized alright.  In the car, on the couch, and in the McPlayground at the McDonalds on Madison and San Juan.  It’s closed now.  Poor Lisa never recovered.  The last I head she had been arrested for honking at peoples houses as she drove by…

The worst part was that he never told me what happened.  I had to find out about it from my second brother, Eric.  Eric is a story for another blog.

The final falling out came about six months later.  Bob had a party at the house when my mom and sister were visiting the Holy Lands.  I guess they knelt in the wrong place and were taken hostage.  The embassy said it was a routine hostage taking, but dad had to drive to capitol city to fill out some paper work.  Bob made a few phone calls before I could say ‘Bob is a big fat jerk, the house was awash in beer, girls and desperate guys.

I agreed not to tell mom and dad about the party if Bob let me drink.  He smiled and said of course!  He even made my first drink for me.  Unfortunately he put something in there that made me blackout.

I woke up about 12 hours later in Juarez, Mexico in a hotel room.  I was in a bathtub full of ice with ‘Call for help’ written in lipstick on my chest.  Damn it if Bob hadn’t driven me to Mexico and stolen my kidneys.  As a joke he also took my index finger, the one I use to dial with.  I was reduced to poking the phone buttons with my nose.  Did you know that Juarez does not have 911 service?  911 connects you the Mexican version of Hooters.  Since I was hungry, I ordered some wings and had them delivered.  I convinced the delivery man to call a doctor and then I passed out.  But not before I finished the wings.  Not that it matters, I don’t think they were chicken wings.  Now that I think about it, I am pretty sure they were some sort of deep fired cockroach.

It took around six months of pain and waiting to find two new kidneys for me.  A quick surgery and I was back on the mend.  Bob left, fled if you will, to avoid prosecution.  From my father.  But now he is back.

The funny thing is that he seems mad at me.  You see, in an effort to mend fences, I named I my second son after Bob.  It was a nice gesture I thought.  What I didn’t realize at the time is that Bob is short for Robert.  I named my son William and we call him Bill.  Come on, who knows that kind of stuff.  I’m a guy for goodness sakes.  If it’s not written at the bottom of a beer can, I probably don’t know it.

So my attempt to patch things up has failed.  I now have an angry, slightly neurotic older brother staying with me.  He tried to make me a drink last night, which I didn’t take.  Fool me once…  I just hope he doesn’t try to take my livers.  I could probably get by with one, but I don’t want to.

There is a picture at the top.  Bob is the guy on my left.  I’m the little kid in the middle. Eric on my other left.  My oldest brother isn’t pictured.

And so it goes.


Driving By Braille

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As is my standard practice, I have followed up last months blogging binge with a blogging hangover. There has been a lot going on lately keeping my away from the keyboard. Ralphie and Steve were down for a visit. Casey’s computer died and I had to reload the OS and all the programs. My company laid-off 300 workers and I sat around wondering if I would be one of them. I wasn’t. My prayers go out to those who did get laid off. Having been through it just last year, I know it is never easy. I had an old friend and his family from high school over and we had a great time. It’s nice to know that he is still a great guy. His wife and kids are great, too. I always breathe a sigh of relief whenever I come across good kids.

Not having blogged for a while, I have found myself developing thoughts more than that writing them. This was due in large part to the then-impending job cuts. There is a sobering feeling that accompanies an event like that, though I don’t have to say that. Your lively hood usually depends on someone else’s decision and that is always a little unsettling. It’s nice to be the ‘master’ of your destiny, but it’s always important to remember that you are never really are. It’s nice to pretend sometimes.

Driving by Braille is a term my friends and I used when we were driving after we had perhaps a bit too much to drink. The idea was to let the driver side wheels run on the center road dividers.  That way you knew you were driving with the road.  In reality, it didn’t work like that.  I spend a lot of my life driving by Braille, but in a more philosophical sense. 

Leela is going to be baptized next week.  We are all looking forward to that very special occasion as she is joined the Body of Christ.  All sorts of family and friends will be in town for it.  Should be a very good time.

I bought a new Bluetooth headset, so I can call my friends and family again. 

That all for now. 

And so it goes.



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This is a list of things that annoy me.  Some of the items come from other lists of things that annoy other people but don’t really annoy me.  Three of these items come from Nixon’s famous ‘Annoyance’ list.

Try and guess which ones really annoy me and which ones don’t, but are funny enough to make this list.  I think that you’ll be pleasantly surprised. 

1. People making that ‘quotes’ sign with their finger when they talk.

2. Fat free cheese

3. Hair gel that over-promises and under-delivers

4. Hyphenated words

5. The U.N.

6. Weak beer

7. Bags of Texas Air

8. LOL cats that don’t make me LOL

9. Those inspirational posters hanging everywhere. I come on! I am not an eagle, nor a bridge, nor a flyswatter.

10. Excessively negative people

And so it goes.