Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog

Saturday, June 21, 2003

Integrity in blogging

Yep, that's me to the left over there. I was attacked by a sudden case of conscience and could no longer bear the deception I was engaging in. Sure, it was nice to present the old image to the world, smiling, confident, in control. But it was a sham, a hoax, a staged presentation with no more link to reality than a politican's campaign promise.

Now you can see the real me; harried, disheveled, battered by the slings and arrowas of outrageous fortune (OK, I stole that last bit), baffled by the real world, but still pressing on. Sure, I would have loved to keep the image of the suave, debonair, single father of six, but I could no longer live the lie. What you see is the real me, so get used to it!*grin*

PS: I've done Lileks one better. Rather than give his readers a picture to photoshop to make him look ridiculous, I've given my readers a pic that doesn't need to be photoshopped. I truly go to the extremes to keep y'all happy.

I hope you appreciate it!

Posted by Rich
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Wednesday, June 18, 2003

From my e-mail

I may have started a trend in feminine hygeine humor. I got this in my mail this morning:

Fish Hook Salesman

A young guy from Texas moves to California and goes to a big "everything under one roof" department store looking for a job. The manager says, "Do you have any sales experience?"

The kid says, "Yeah, I was a salesman back home in Texas."

Well, the boss liked the kid so he gave him the job. "You start tomorrow. I'll come down after we close and see how you did."

His first day on the job was rough but he got through it. After the store was locked up, the boss came down. "How many sales did you make today?"

The kid says, "One."

The boss says, "Just one? Our sales people average 20 or 30 sales a day. How much was the sale for?"

The kid says, "$101,237.64."

The boss says, "$101,237.64? What the hell did you sell?"

Kid says, "First I sold him a small fish hook. Then I sold him a medium fish hook. Then I sold him a larger fish hook. Then I sold him a new fishing rod. Then I asked him where he was going fishing and he said down at the coast, so I told him he was gonna need a boat, so we went down to the boat department and I sold him that twin engine Chris Craft.

Then he said he didn't think his Honda Civic would pull it, so I took
him down to the automotive department and sold him that 4X4 Blazer."

The boss said, "A guy came in here to buy a fish hook and you sold him a boat and truck?"

Kid says, "No, he came in here to buy a box of tampons for his wife and
I said, 'Well, your weekend's shot, you might as well go fishing.'"

Posted by Rich
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Monday, June 16, 2003

Musings on middle age

Just in case y'all missed the encyclopedic post below, I turned 40 over the weekend. I've heard them say that life begins at 40, which makes me wonder if the last 4 decades were a dress rehearsal for the real thing. If that's true, this is one show that will close out of town.

I don't know what the big deal is. I don't feel any older, no matter what my kids say. Sure there are a few more aches and pains in the morning, and certain body parts don't look or function the way they used to, but who cares?

I can always get stronger glasses.

To me, 40 is a reminder that eventually, I'm going to have to settle down and decide what I want to be when I grow up. Astronaut sounds good, but I don't know if I want to trust my life to a vehicle that complex built to government specs by the lowest bidder. Besides, I something that expresses my creative side. I think I'd like to make something; making money sounds nice.

I guess now I have to clear a little time in my schedule for my midlife crisis. Isn't that supposed to come around about now? I need to recapture echoes of my misspent youth, which of course would involve long hours of isolation in the library.

On second thought, I think I'll go for the other version of male menopause, and spend ridiculous amounts of money on frivolous luxeries. I'm trying to decide between the sports car, the trophy wife, or the motorcycle. (AKA the Hemi, the Hussy, or the Harley.)

Decisions, decisions.

Of course, there are some good things about turning 40. If my memory wasn't so spotty, I'm sure I could point them out for you.

Posted by Rich
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Monday, June 09, 2003

A Single Father’s Dilemma

Guys, we've gotta talk.

There comes a time in every man's life when he has to face one of the biggest tests of his masculinity:

Buying feminine hygiene products.

My buddy at work says I must be dying for attention (Duh! I'm a blogger!) to bring this up, but I must, because we all know that sooner or later, whether it be for sister, girlfriend, wife, or daughter, we'll end up skulking furtively through that aisle, and shamefacedly handing our selection to the girl at the checkout counter. My first trial came at the tender age of 16, when my sister begged me to go to the store to buy her some "thingies." Mom and Dad were out of town, I had a driver's license, and she was in desperate need, so there I stood in the mini-mart, trying to work up the nerve to make my purchase. It was worse than the first time I tried to buy a Playboy. (Interesting side story. I wasn't real sneaky back then, and bought the magazine at the corner gas station, the same place where I was trying to work up the nerve to buy the "thingies" as a matter of fact. My dad was great friends with all the clerks who worked there, so I'm sure he knew all about my illicit purchase within 5 minutes of my leaving the store.)

I wandered the aisles of that little store for 45 minutes, carefully examining the dates on the dog food cans, to make sure they were fresh. I checked out the wide variety of canned vegetables, perused the offerings in the drink cooler, looked at all the leaflets designed to separate tourons (tourist + moron = touron) from their money as efficiently as possible, examined the floor to insure that it had been adequately swept, mopped and polished, all the while steeling myself to take the plunge. Finally, I screwed up my courage, dashed down the aisle, grabbed a mint green package of "thingies" and headed for the checkout counter.

The lady behind the counter took pity on me as I stood there with my head tucked low, trying to hide my face, and didn't try to engage in small talk, just took my money, put the "thingies" in a brown paper bag, and handed me my change.

Of course today, as a single father with three daughters, humiliation has aged into quiet resignation. I think nothing of running into the grocery store, wheeling my cart down "The Aisle," and grabbing a bag of pads, or a smaller box of tampons. But while the embarrassment has faded, it's been replaced with confusion.

Back when I made my "thingie" run, there were pads. Period. (Pun unintentional) The only decision to make was brand and quantity. Today, it's a whole new ballgame. Pads have wings, flaps, ridges, velcro, elastic, adhesive patches, and "moisture pockets." They come in unscented or scented, with a variety of smells with names like "summer breeze," "citrus blend," and "country morning." That last frightens me, because I always associated country mornings with breakfast, and somehow the aroma of eggs bacon and coffee just doesn't seem to me to be an appropriate scent for a feminine hygiene product. Then there are the sizes: Plus, maxi, super maxi, super plus maxi, and petite super maxi plus; it never ends. What happened to good old "medium?"

And, lest we forget, there's the wonderful world of tampons, which also come in a variety of sizes, shapes, scents and applicators. I can't figure out when these things became fashion accesories, but it is clear they have.

And you can't count on the commercials for help either, even though it seems the airwaves are saturated with them. It's nothing to see feminine hygiene products advertised during a football game. Heck, I'm waiting for Tampax to sponsor a Winston Cup car. Imagine going to the winners circle:
ANN: I'm here in the Winners Circle with Jeff Gordon, winner of today's race. Jeff, how was it out there?
JG: Well, traffic was flowing pretty heavy out there today, and I got caught up in a couple of tight squeezes in turn 2, but the Tampax Super Maxi Tampon Chevy kept me in the clear. Once in position, we were able to keep the rest of the traffic bottled up behind us, and bring home the win.

Eeriely plausible, don't you think?

I ran into a different sort of advertising the last time I bought tampons. You know how when you check out, the litle machine prints up coupons based on what you buy? Well, all I bought was the tampons, but I got 2 coupons: one was for more tampons, and the other was for Hershey's Chocolate Kisses.

And they say marketing isn't a science...

Regular TV ads are bad enough, but have you ever watched daytime television? I've learned more than I care to know about the female anatomy, and the various troubles inherent in having the plumbing on the inside, instead of the outside. "Vaginal suppository" is a phrase that should not be heard on television, except maybe for late at night on the Jerry Springer show, and even then it should probably be bleeped.

I saw a commercial a little while back for a "Extra Strength" douche. Now, isn't that a scary thought?
Dow Chemical is proud to present "New and Improved Heavy Duty Douche. Now with scrubbing bubbles for that squeaky clean feeling!"

Another problem with these douche commercials: the ladies are always pulling these bottles out of the kitchen cabinet, never the bathroom where they belong. First of all, I'm not going to get into a conversation with my buddy over jock itch, and even if I do, I'm not whipping a tube of Cruex out of the snack cabinet and waving it around like it's Cheez Whiz.

Ain't gonna happen.

But in these commercials, Sally and Jane are sitting in the kitchen talking about having that "fresh, clean feeling" whenever they want, and Sally always reaches up into the kitchen cabinet to grab a bottle of Summer's Eve. I knew something funny was going on, so I checked the label on a bottle one day while I was shopping for tampons (It takes a man very confident in his masculinity to say that with a straight face), and brothers, I found the answer.

Add some olive oil and you've got salad dressing!

We now know more about the Hidden Valley than we ever wanted to.

Posted by Rich
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Friday, June 06, 2003

Man vs nature

I was late for work this morning.

But I have a really good excuse. I was going down my driveway when I noticed something unusual in my way. It looked like a large, flat rock, and I was going to just go over it when it moved.

Now that can't be good.

I got out of the car and walked over to see what it was, and it was a turtle. Not just a turtle, but a large snapping turtle. It looked to be about 5 feet long nose to tail, 4 feet wide across the shell, probably weighed about 75 lbs, had a largish chunk ripped out of the top of its shell, and it wasn't in a very hospitable mood. It just sat there looking at my with that reptilian stare, reminiscent of my company commander in boot camp. I walked around it, looking for a good way to get it out of my way, and its eyes seemed to follow me around even though its head never moved, sort of like those spooky pictures in haunted houses; you know, the ones that are always looking at you no matter where you stand?

It was fairly cool this morning, and I know that reptiles are cold blooded (rather like boot camp company commanders) and tend to be sluggish in the early AM. I figured I could sneak up behind it, grab it by its shell, and haul it out of my way. But as I looked at its eyes, and more importantly that large sharp beak, I began to wonder just how sluggish that turtle really was. Maybe he was just playing possum, waiting for me to get close enough to latch onto my arm. ONe of my sons used to have a lizard, and that thing was as slow as Christmas, except when it was time to eat. He'd just sit there, motionless, until that grasshopper got just a little too close and BANG!

Dinner was served.

I kept looking at the turtle, and it kept looking at me, and I found myself thinking of Steve Irwin, Crocodile Stalker and Snake Annoyer par excellence. I know what he would have done. He'd dash back to the house to get Terri and a camera, then jump right on top of the turtle, yell "Crikey!" a few times, talk about how wonderful the snapper is, point out it's razor sharp beak and powerful jaws, tell it how beautiful it is, then drop it off into a nearby pond.

Now I'm not Steve Irwin, but I'm a man, the pinnacle of millions of years of evolution, the top of the food chain. Surely I could handle one measly reptile, right? Of course I could. I might not have jaws that could tear through a NYC phonebook, or teeth sharp enough to cut through leather, but I had a human brain, the finest thinking machine on the planet, more than enough to compensate for any physical weaknesses. I came up with a foolproof plan to take care of this monster.

I woke up my son and told him to go get it.

Isaac just had a class in herpatology, and a large part of his time was spent in an independant research project, catching and tagging snappers in western Massachusetts. Here was a chance for him to broaden his efforts. I was contributing to his education. See, I'm a good father!

He came down and checked out the snapper, grabbed it by its tail and moved it out of the way. The entire time, that turtle kept his eye on me, as if to say "You got lucky today, but I'll be back. He has to go back to school sometime...and then you're all mine."

One thing worries me though. I'm beginning to wonder about this school my son is attending. I don't think they know what they are doing. Isaac said that the turtle was 2 feet long, and might have weighed 12 pounds.

I know it was bigger than that. They must be teaching the metric system up there or some such.

Posted by Rich
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Important new information on SARS

Everybody needs to read this latest release from the WHO and CDC
Download file

courtesy of an e-mail from a reader

Posted by Rich
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Monday, May 12, 2003

Breaking News!

Jayson Blair has landed on his feet after being fired from the New York Times for plagiarism, making up quotes, and assorted other journalistic no-nos. His transgressions caught the eye of none other than Michael Moore, who hired him to write the script of Moore's next big documentary, Farenheit 911. Moore said:
With his journalistic talents and storytelling ability, he'll fit right in here with the rest of us. After all, it's the story behind the facts that matters, and Jayson has a knack for ignoring the facts to get to that story, and that's just what I need for my documentaries.

Hey, it could be true....

Posted by Rich
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Saturday, April 26, 2003

A puzzle

There are 9 people in the picture below. How many can you find?


from Grand Illusions

UPDATE: I've added a potential solution in the comments. If you want to solve it on your own, don't read them. If you find something different, let me know...

Posted by Rich
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Monday, April 21, 2003

Easter Eggs and Pump Organs

Easter was always a big deal around the Hailey home as I was growing up. The night before, we'd dye eggs for the Easter Bunny to hide the next morning. I always wondered about that bunny. What does a rabbit have to do with Easter?

I asked my priest about that one day.

"My son," he said, "Jesus was scourged, crucified, died, and buried. If rising from the dead three days later ain't pulling a rabbit out of a hat, I don't know what is!"

Those Jesuits always had an answer for everything.

Anyway, we would spend the night before Easter waiting for the eggs to cool enough to dye. Now, there's a special property about eggs you have to understand; they hold heat.


Second degree burns from grabbing a too-hot egg can really slow down your hunting technique the next day. Just a friendly tip from me to you.

Dying the eggs is always a lot of fun. But you have to throw out those little wire hoops they pack in those kits. Those things are worse than useless. You put the egg on it, bring it over to the cup where your dye is, begin to lower the egg gently, when it rolls off the wire, drops into the cup, splashing dye all over the table, your shirt, the floor, and the dog. We had a miniature poodle called Choo-Choo, because he used to tear around the yard in circles, and after two or three drops, he looked like a LeRoy Neiman painting.

Dying eggs requires a strong spoon, preferably slotted, to allow the dye to run out, and a steady wrist. Oh sure, you can just dump the egg into the dye and let it be one color, but where's the fun in that? You have to dip the egg halfway into one color, then halfway into another color to get that lovely two tone effect. The more daring go for the tricolored eggs, but that does require some knowledge of the colorwheel to avoid the dreaded brown band, which results from adding two many colors. After all, eggs come in brown naturally, why dye them that color?

Along with a strong spoon, the right cup for the dye is important. It has to have a wide mouth, otherwise the egg won't fit. A bowl is too big because the egg can't be covered by the dye. A coffee cup is perfect, but a word of caution: The dye can seep in and stain the cup, so you might want to stay out of the fine china cabinet.

True artists will use the little crayon that comes with the dye kit to make intricate designs and drawings on the egg, transforming a simple egg into an amazing work of art. The rest of us are lucky to be able to scrawl our initials legibly on the egg.

Once the eggs were dyed and stacked in their cartons, we'd go to bed, and Mom would hide the eggs, usually in the house so they wouldn't be eaten by the neighborhood dogs. The next morning, we'd get up and rush to the kitchen to find our Easter baskets, filled with candy and chocolate rabbits. A solid chocolate rabbit makes for an excellent breakfast, by the way.

Once Mom and Dad were up, we began the search for the eggs. We'd scour the house to find the eggs, having a great time. Eventually all the eggs were found, and then an ugly reality would set in.

What do you do with 3 dozen hardboiled eggs? Even CoolHand Luke would have trouble with 3 dozen hard-boiled eggs. Mom would peel all the eggs and make egg salad with them.

I can't stand egg salad, and neither could my brother and sister. It would sit in the fridge for a week or two, then Mom would throw it out. Eventually, she saved herself the aggravation and threw the eggs out immediately without going through the intermediate egg salad phase. It seemed to work out better for all concerned.

I think I started this to tell you about my last Easter Egg hunt.

I was about 10 or 11, and this was before Mom gave up on the egg salad maneuver, so the eggs were still there after church. Mom and Dad went to take a nap, and my brother, sister, andI decided to hold our own Easter Egg hunt. We took turns hiding the eggs for the other two, and passed a happy afternoon.

What none of us noticed was that, after several games of "hide the eggs", we finished with fewer eggs than we'd started. When Mom made the egg salad, she assumed we'd eaten a couple eggs, so she made the egg salad and life went on.

For several months.

Now, in this house where we used to live, we had an old pump organ. For those of you who haven't seen one, a pump organ is a small pipe organ that you play by pumping two pedals with your feet. It was pretty cool, and we would play on it every now and then, but keeping the air flowing was pretty hard work. My mom wanted to play it though and came up with a creative way to avoid the work. She looked all over the organ until she found the vent for the air, and she hooked up a vacuum cleaner to the vent. The vacuum pulled air though the pipes so she didn't have to pump the pedals.

Anyway, one July afternoon, Mom decided to play the organ, and didn't go to the trouble of riggin the vacuum cleaner. She started pumping the pedals and playing the organ, and noticed a foul smell coming from the organ. Apparently one of us kids had hidden an egg under one of the pedals, where it sat and fermented, just waiting to release one of the foulest odors it has ever been my misfortune to experience.

Dad was out of town on business when this happened, but the sulfurous stench still clung to the drapes when he got home. Mom explained about the egg in the organ, and Dad decreed that there would be no more Easter egg hunts in the Hailey house. I do have to give him credit though; despite what must have been a terrible temptation, he didn't make any jokes about how Mom's music stunk.

Posted by Rich
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Wednesday, April 09, 2003

New UN resolution

France is demanding that the UN take the lead in rebuilding Iraq after the war. The aren't satisfied with US and British assurances that they will play a vital role in the new Iraq. Recently, a compromise resolution was offered through abck channels to France and Germany. Through top notch work by a team of crack Shots Across the Bow Operatives, I obtained a copy of this compromise resolution.
Put before the UN Security Council on this day:
  • Whereas Iraq has failed to comply with the forty-leven resolutions imposed by the UN, and
  • Whereas Iraq has pursued acquisition of weapons of mass destruction, and
  • Whereas the UN Security Council issued one final, last, and ultimate chance for Iraq to comply with the other forty-leven resolutions, and
  • Whereas Saddam Hussein responded to the final, last ultimate resolution by sticking out his tongue, putting his fingers in his ears, and saying "Lalalalalalala I can't hear you," and
  • Whereas the UN Security Council, cowed by France (embarrasing enough on it's own) refused to respond to Hussein's flouting of the forty-twelve resolutions against him, and
  • Whereas a coalition of nations, lead by the US, Britain and Australia, nations that recognize that the root of a resolution is resolve, have acted under the auspices of the final, last ultimate resolution to enforce those forty-twelve resolutions, and
  • Whereas said coalition has kicked Hussein's butt all over the map, while winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people, and
  • Whereas The UN Security Council has been shown up to be the useless debating society we knew it to be,
  • Be It Resolved that
    • The UN will be consulted on all matters pertaining to the rebuilding of Iraq.
    • Said consultations to occur on the occasion of the blue moon, or the twelfth of Never, whichever occurs last.
    • On the off chance that such consultations occur, the advice given will be duly considered before being rejected.
    • In the extremely unlikely chance that the UN actually comes up with a good plan, the Coalition will appropriate that plan, giving all credit where it's due. To the New Europe.
    • Under no circmstance will France, Germany, or Russia be allowed to profit from their oparticipation in the rebuilding of Iraq. However, any charitable donations will be accepted with gratitude.

And that's the nice version. Think they'll go for it?

Posted by Rich
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Heard on the radio:

A woman bought a new car.

She brought it back the next day, complaining that the radio didn't work. The salesman explained that it was a voice activated radio and demonstrated.

"Nelson," he said.

"Ricky or Willie?" the car responded.

"Willie," said the salesman.

Instantly the radio began playing a selection of Willie Nelson tunes.

The blonde drove off, happy with her new purchase. She listened to all of her favorite tunes on the way home, until at an intersection not too far from her house, a car filled with kids cut her off.

She honked the horn at thenm and yelled "Buttholes!"

The French National Anthem began to play over the radio.

Posted by Rich
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From the Happy birthday to Al Gore. Al Gore is 55. Although Florida counted and only got 48.

Easter funny

Via e-mail from a co-worker:

Posted by Rich
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Tuesday, April 01, 2003

April Fool’s Day Quiz

I got 13 of 16. See how good you are at spotting the fake. I wish they would have used Bubba's though.

Posted by Rich
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Sunday, March 30, 2003

This one’s for Bubba

A look on the lighter side; God knows we all need it.

As the Democrat filibuster on the supplemental budget bill to fund the war in Iraq entered it's second month, the President was forced to find a new method of generating revenue.

Meanwhile, the US military has been forced to improvise, adapt, and overcome.

US generals, along with the SecDef, Donald Rumsfeld, decided to push back the attack on Baghdad for a few days to allow the soldiers some R and R. This enterprising marine took full advantage of it.

The war took a turn for the worse, as Iraqi terrorists unveiled a new weather control weapon in East Tennessee. First week of spring my butt!

The crew of the USS Enterprise gathered today to say farewell
to the French Ambassador, who had been making a tour of ships in the gulf.

In order to counter their false image as "cheese eating surrender monkeys", the French army announced today the formation of a new Special Forces group, the Raspberry Berets. A representative of the new unit is seen here, walking next to two NATO troopers.

Members of this unit can be found practicing their most devastating tactic, fierce taunting, at any opportunity.

In a further effort to "shock and awe" the Iraqi army into submission, the Pentagon today unveiled it's newest generation Stealth fighter, code named Diana.

Not to be outdone, the US Coast Guard also got into the act, showing off their latest mission-specific craft, designed to take out Iraqi suicide speedboats, or the occasional fisherman.

Technology is not always about killing. TheBBC today announced the invention of the first universal translator, suggesting that it will be helpful to US forces in the coming months.

These images, except for the snow are all from's military gallery.

Posted by Rich
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