Keeping the Sabbath Kinda Holy

When I worked at Taco Bell, I made sure my boss knew from the start I wouldn't be working on Sundays.

Our arrangement worked well until one day when we got a new boss. He immediately put me on the schedule for the next Sunday.

I pulled him aside and informed him this wouldn't be happening. He told me if I didn't show up on Sunday, I shouldn't bother showing up on Monday either. Or any other day.

I didn't show, and neither of us ever mentioned it again. We understood each other and had an unspoken truce.

But as smug as I was over that small victory, I'm as hypocritical as the next Christian when it comes to my expectations of how others observe the Sabbath.

We're ready to throw down if our boss asks us to work on Sunday. We've got pocketfuls of righteous indignation ready if he dares ask. But that same indignation gets a little less righteous when the tables are turned, doesn't it?

It's Sunday. We've enjoyed a challenging and life-changing sermon. We grab our Bibles and herd our families to the car. We remember to drive like Christians, and let folks in front of us. We smile and wave. We're proud of ourselves; we're good Christians.

We hum a hymn on the way to the restaurant. We skip up to the door, and then things turn ugly. The restaurant is closed.

How dare they? Don't they know we hurried over here with plenty of time to beat the Baptists? We're here as a family, and we're hungry!  It's not like folks who work in restaurants are Christians, you know. They shouldn't be taking Sunday off. I bet they don't have families, either. This is highly inconvenient. I bet they're at home watching football, and aren't thinking about me at all.

Well, if we can't eat out, at least we can get some shopping done. Why is this store closed too? Wow, even the mall closes early today. It's like today is special or something.

Thanks to these people, I can't get my to-do list done today. They're making me waste my weekend.

Selfish jerks!


I'm always amazed by people who diet.

Some folks are crazier than others, like Rob Shepherd (Weight Watchers and excercise?!?).

Dieting is part of yet another culture I don't understand, like marathon runners, hunters and bikers.

I get on the scale and measure my progress. When it goes up, I think "Well, a beer and half a pizza will do that to you."

When I want the numbers to go down, I don't eat breakfast or lunch for a day or two. Then I don't have to worry about how many carbs this is, or how organic that is.

I also don't have to go to the Hurting Place. The thing about the Hurting Place is that it hurts. I'm not up for that. I took a quick poll, and all my muscles agree that not hurting is what they like best.

What do you do about dieting and exercising?


Racy Ideas

While on vacation last week, we got to witness the 101st running of the oldest trail race in America. And by witness, I mean we slept in while all the crazy people ran in the street below our hotel window. There was lots of cheering, which I suspect was for the runners and not for us. I really couldn't be bothered to get up and look out the window to check.

Because that's the thing about running, folks - it's always the same thing. I run, you run, one of us is faster and wins. Yada yada yada. Nothing truly exciting ever happens (with the exception of last year's running of this race - an 8-year-old girl won the race!).

My wife and I were thinking of ways to spice things up (in the race). We thought of several new categories you running-types might be interested in:

The 10K Skip - Skipping is not only more fun than running, but it's actually harder to do. You're basically jumping and waving your arms around. If you can do this for a 10K, then you get to keep your Man Card. If you fizzle out halfway down the block, then you've just become a man who skips down the street and gets funny looks.

The 5K Cartwheel - Cartwheeling is hard. Cartwheeling for 5K is epic. And dizzying. I assume.

The Wheelbarrow Marathon - You and a buddy, doing the Wheelbarrow. For 26 miles. You'd better pick somebody you like!

The Crabwalk Half Marathon - You might be a bit crabby when you finish this one.

The Pogo Stick Trail Race and Obstacle Course - This might be the only one I'd actually enter. This race would definitely have its ups and downs, but I think it'd be worth it.

Which race would you enter? What other races would you create?


Stuff I Made Up, Mostly In My Head

Aren't you glad we don't have round picture frames for our desks? They'd be rolling everywhere all the time, and we'd never get anything done.

If we can figure out how to talk to the dolphins and whales, shouldn't we try to communicate with in-utero babies? We could learn a lot from an insider. Get on that, Science.

Terry Pratchett has Alzheimer's, and still writes great books. Heck, Ralph Compton is dead and still writes books. I can't get further than two chapters into my own book and struggle to write a blog post. That probably makes me a special kind of stupid.

Don't worry if you lose a lot of weight. It's pretty easy to find.

Have you checked out It's pretty much the most awesome site ever. If you don't like that, try

When are the aliens coming?

How To Be An Astronaut

I think most kids grow up to work dead-end jobs simply because they didn't know how to get to their dream ones.

So this one's for the kids. Every kid has dreamed at one point in their lives of being an astronaut.

Floating in space, seeing the stars, avoiding traffic. What's not to like?

Things You Can Do Now To Prepare For Your Future As An Astronaut
  • Drive fast. This will help you prepare for takeoff.
  • Wave at your mom. You know you won't be able to help yourself when you're looking down at Earth.
  • Eat freeze dried food. This will prepare your tastebuds for the nightmare that is space food.
  • Pee in a garden hose. Thankfully this won't happen too much in space since all the food is dry.
  • Practice backflips. You've gotta get used to being upside down.
  • Use walkie-talkies. Practice radio chatter with your buddies. Use the words 'Roger' and 'starboard' frequently.
  • Move slowly. I'm not sure what's so dangerous up there, but I can guarantee it's deadly to move fast. Every clip I've ever seen on TV of an astronaut makes it look like they're moving in slow-motion.
What tips do you have for the kids?

7 Tips for Taking Your Kids to Their First Baseball Game

I love baseball. So do you (I'm not asking; I'm telling). Chances are your kids do, too.

Here's some tips for you and your kids when going to their first baseball game:

1. If you've got a minor league team, start there. Take the opportunity to meet the stars now, because they'll be too stuck up later. I've met Eric Karros, Mike Piazza and Pedro Martinez when they played for the Albuquerque Dukes. They were all friendly then - now they won't even return my calls.

2. Minor league tickets are cheaper. You'll rarely have to mortgage anything to see a game, but paying for big league tickets can turn a minivan-driving dad into a drug dealer.

3. Let your kids bring their tiny baseball gloves. Not only will they feel important, but they'll have something to protect you with when a line drive heads your way.

4. 25¢ hot dog night. Don't stop until you're too full to waddle to the car!

5. Don't forget to yell 'CHARGE!', or the terrorists win. This applies to The Wave as well.

6. If you jump up to catch a foul ball, take note of where you're going to land. Upon landing, I had a very personal and painful moment with an armrest at the Arizona Diamondbacks stadium. You only forget this tip once!

7. Learn the songs. If you don't know the national anthem or 'Take Me Out to the Ballgame', you're just a fool watching everyone else have fun. And they'll probably put you on the big screen.

What do you love about going to baseball games? What advice would you give others?

Don't Worry; Be Happy

Now you'll have that annoying song on your mind all day. You're welcome.

Things That Worry Me But Probably Shouldn't

  • International travel - what if I'm in a cafe in Shangai and the waiter brings the bill and it's for 10 trillion dollars?
    • Me: Um, I think there's a typo.
    • Waiter: You American?
    • Me: Yes.
    • Waiter: No typo. You pay now!
  • What if I'm not a good dad? What if I freak out?
  • Did I gas up the car?
  • What if this post's too short?
    • What if I think of a whole bunch of stuff to add right after I hit 'Publish Post'?

What oddball things do you worry about?


Guest Post for Rob Shepherd

If you like making fun of me (and I know you do), then you're in for a treat today!

Rob Shepherd is graciously lending his site to me today. I'm not exactly sure what time he'll post it, and I forgot to send him a title for the post, so I don't know how you'll know that what you're reading is my post...except that when you read it, you'll immediately think, "I'm glad I'm not THAT guy!"

So yeah, that's how you'll know it's me.

Head on over and check it out!


Vacation Notice

NOTICE: You're probably not going on vacation.

I, however, am. Regular programming shall commence when I think up some random junk to talk about get back, which is sometime next week.

In the meantime, try not behave yourselves too much.

P.S. - Everybody say howdy to Scott, who can read posts and comments but apparently can't comment himself due to technical issues. So don't take it personally when he doesn't respond. Unless you want to. I'll let you fight that one out, girls.


Passive Aggressiveness For Fun and Profit, Part II

We had a user a while back that frustrated me to no end. Dealing with her is what got me started writing the Network Administrator Diaries bits. Rather than vent my thoughts on her, I started writing stuff down for you. It's one of the many passive aggressive ways I deal with people.

I'm not proud of most my passive aggressive methods...except this one!

This particular user was a Panicked User of Doom (PUD). She had no initiative whatsoever. One time she locked herself out of her network account while I was on vacation. She came in day after day and dutifully sat at her computer, doing nothing. She didn't tell her supervisor. She didn't ask my backup guy for assistance. For eight days, she sat at her desk and waited for me to return.

She had several recurring issues. One was with her optical mouse. When she would twitch her wrist and the mouse would fly over to the edge of her screen, she would call me and tell me her mouse was broken.

I showed her how she could simply try moving the mouse and the world would start spinning again. She didn't believe me it was that easy. She wanted a more thorough fix. So I showed her how to unplug her mouse and plug it back in. She refused to try it, saying she was too scared to mess anything up.

Finally, I resorted to 'giving her a new mouse'. This consisted of keeping a spare mouse right inside the server room door. When she'd call me about her 'broken' mouse, I'd come snag it, take 7 steps over to the server room, and bring out the 'new' one. I swapped these two mice out for her for over a year, until she finally got canned retired.

What passive aggressive ways have you dealt with difficult people?


Ode to Pizza

Pizza, pizza - how I love thee,
you are perfect for saucy delivery.

With cheese melted all around,
dreamy toppings will soon be found.

Mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, whee!
Sometimes I'll even get pepperoni.

Your crust is tasty with some ranch,
although my garlic breath will make you blanch.

I love you best when you're made locally,
supporting my community I do vocally.

Pizza, pizza - how I love thee,
thinking of you makes me tummy rumbly.

Why is pizza so much better than your favorite food?


The Password Wars

My mom is very upset.

Her network administrator at work is starting to enforce standardized usernames and complex passwords. This is a new frontier for Mom. The rest of us have been dealing with this for the last 10 years, but Mom works for a school and is therefore a bit behind.

"I can't remember my new username, so I have it written on a card that sits on my computer in the classroom."

I cringe more than a little when I hear this.

"And what's worse is the IT department says in the fall, I must change my password to something that includes lower and capital letters as well as numbers and symbols. I won't be able to remember that either, so it will join my username on the card."

I bite my tongue.

"How is this more secure?!?"

"It's not, Mom. You should try to make it something you can remember, then add numbers at the end or something."

I offer a few suggestions, all of which she declines.

I'm not sure what you'd do if your users kept their login information on a note on their keyboards, but I can tell you what I did.

I had a user who refused to learn her username and password. She kept it on a sticky note on her keyboard, just like Mom. I often spoke with her about not leaving it out in the open, but every morning, there it would be. I finally decided to have some fun...

I would change her password. Not in the system, but on the sticky note. L's would become 1's, O's became 0's, etc. She would then try the modified password until her account would automatically lock itself. Then she'd call me.

User: My account is locked again!
Me: Did you write down your password?
User: Of course. I can't remember that silly thing!
Me: But when you write your password down, the system locks your account, remember?
User: What? Oh, yeah! I forgot the monitor can see me...

Mom thinks this type of behavior is all my fault. She asked me to have a talk with all the other network administrators. She says we're being unnecessarily difficult, and is putting us in timeout.

"You all sit in the corner, and think about what you've done!"

Who's right? The IT folks or the users?


Guest Post for Sharideth Smith, Part II

What are you doing here?

The field trip isn't over yet - get back on the bus!

Today we're headed to Sharideth Smith's site. She writes a blog for men about women, through a woman's eyes that know a lot about women and how men should see women. If you're confused, it's because it's her job to explain it, not mine.

So get outta here!

P.S. - We'll return to normal programming when I feel like it.


Guest Post for Knox McCoy

Today I'm taking you on a field trip.

Get on the bus, kids - we're going to Knox McCoy's site for a guest post!

We'll have fun discussing who the Frank Sinatra of our time is. At least, we'll have fun if you agree with me. If not, then buzz off.


Guest Post by Burrill Strong

Get comfy, but put your coffee down. This is long, and very worth it.

Today's guest post is from Burrill Strong, who you may know as Sgt. Wolverine. Burrill has a photography company and shows off his pictures on his blog, The Connective Lens. You can follow Burrill on Twitter, and I highly recommend you do. Otherwise there may be something wrong with you, and we can't help since neither of us is a doctor.

About six years ago (1), Ricky asked me to write a guest post. Iʼm still not sure why; he knows Iʼm a photographer, which means I write only a thousand words at a time and none of those words is in English. (Before you ask: no, I didnʼt write the U.S. tax code.)

Regardless, Ricky did ask for a post full of English word-things. And because I have trouble saying no, I finally wrote one.
If you search for me on the internet, you should see traces of sarcastic humor, piles and piles of photographs, and evidence of a sports fandom bordering on reasonable.(2) While that actually sums me up fairly well, the impersonal nature of the internet hides one of my most prominent physical features: my limp.

Since nearly all of you have never met me, youʼre probably wondering to what extent I limp. To provide a disconcertingly accurate picture you all should be able to understand, let me offer this description: my gait looks a little like a rhythmless guy dancing at a wedding reception.(3) But while nobody really knows why that guy is still dancing, I have a good reason for walking like I do: itʼs called cerebral palsy.

Ricky doesnʼt run a medical blog (except for when heʼs talking about sick co-workers), so Iʼll skip all the details and just tell you I have a relatively mild case that provides me with the aforementioned awkward limp, a sense of balance with somewhat more stability than Windows ME(4), and the state-given ability to smugly park in those wonderfully convenient blue parking spaces while Nelson Muntz-ing at you "normal" people.

I mention this not to beg for your pity money(5), but to let you in on a few secrets of my
life in the Blue Wheelchair Man Group.(6)

1: This may already be obvious, but...I donʼt mind talking about it.
Sometimes I get the feeling even Curious George would be wary about broaching the subject of my limp. Honestly, I can understand that, but please: donʼt be wary. I wonʼt be grumpy. Well, not about that, anyway. I have no reason to be grumpy about the way God made me, and if youʼre curious, you have no reason to be shy about asking me about the way God made me. I know my beard can be intimidating(7), but while Chuck Norris may have a fist under his beard, I have only a chin under mine. I promise.

2: Iʼm not a fan of all the euphemistic terms that have been invented to refer to people like me.
When I look in the thesaurus under the currently popular (and also somewhat irksome) term disabled, I find terms like challenged, differently-abled and exceptional. Iʼd make a joke about those, but like Lady Gaga, theyʼre already so absurd that any joke would seem serious in comparison.(8)

In response to the inane avalanche of unnecessary euphemisms, several years ago I decided to join the hyphenated name craze of the ʻ90s(9) by suggesting a new name: Euphemism-American. Sadly, I donʼt think itʼs caught on just yet.

3: I find your kidsʼ comments hilarious.
Iʼve lost track of the number of times a child has deeply embarrassed his parents by boldly proclaiming his assessment of my condition. One of my favorites occurred years ago in a local grocery store when a little girl, upon observing my gait, declared (in that exceptionally loud voice kids use when theyʼre saying something their parents donʼt want them to say), "Momma! That manʼs walkinʼ SO FUNNY!" As I started laughing, I turned around to see the mortified mom making record time to the next aisle.

Hereʼs the thing: in general, little kids donʼt say things like that to be mean; they say things like that because theyʼre just observing the world around them without a filter. Theyʼre just saying what theyʼre seeing.(10) This isnʼt to say kids shouldnʼt learn not to say everything that occurs to them; rather, this is to say I think itʼs silly to be angry about the guileless observations of kids. If Iʼm going to be angry about something, itʼs going to be about something especially egregious, like CBSʼ canceling The Unit.(11) Or the continued existence of the state of Ohio.(12)

Incidentally, this point relates to #1: sometimes kids prompt a conversation when one
wouldnʼt otherwise have happened.

4: I donʼt automatically bond with other similar Euphemism-Americans.
Iʼve had people tell me they know somebody with CP, and theyʼd love to introduce us. I do appreciate the well-intentioned thought, but from my perspective thatʼs like saying, "You have brown hair? I know somebody with brown hair! Youʼd probably love to meet him/her." See how strange that sounds? For me, CP isnʼt an important defining characteristic; itʼs just another attribute, like brown hair, green eyes or skin that has a painful fascination with sunburns.

For future reference, hereʼs a partial list of good ways to fill in this blank for me: "I know somebody who ______! Youʼd probably love to meet him/her."

•loves Jesus
•enjoys photography
•is convinced fall weekends exist solely for football
•believes a man cannot be truly good-looking without facial hair
•knows Avatar was, without a doubt, the worst movie of the year

5: Iʼm not good at ending blog posts gracefully.

The end!(13)

This may sound like a slight exaggeration, but I was told "six years" is a common
synonym for "several months."

As a name on the internet, Burrill Strong is the anti-John Smith. If youʼre searching for
my name, youʼre going to get some search returns about me and a maybe few search
returns about the strong earnings reports from a business called Burrill & Co. If I do
something stupid on the internet, I canʼt blame it on that other Burrill Strong from
Chariton, Iowa.

3 If youʼve ever been to a wedding reception, you should know exactly what I mean. If
you donʼt know exactly what I mean, then Iʼm sorry to break it to you, but Iʼm probably
talking about you, Sir Trips-A-Lot.

I once owned a computer with Windows ME. I now have two Macs. Those two facts
have nothing to do with each other, but you wouldnʼt have been surprised if theyʼd been
connected, right?

But if youʼre offering, Iʼm not turning you down. Momma didnʼt raise no fool.

Note that I said "my life". Keep in mind Iʼm probably not representative of most people in the BWMG. Thatʼs good, because if there were too many people like me, the world would be a terrifying place. On the bright side, it might also be a place in which Dancing with the Stars was quickly canceled due to low ratings.

No joke: somebody once told me my beard was intimidating. After my beard finished emptying their wallet, I told them that was a hilarious notion.

The only term that gets a pass from me is handicapable, and thatʼs just because Iʼm certain itʼs impossible to use that term seriously. Even Walter Cronkite wouldnʼt be able to say it without laughing.

Anyone who knows me will tell you Iʼm perpetually late. My being so late to the hyphenated name craze, then, is not out of character. I guess Iʼm just Differently-Time-Abled.

10 Put another way, kids have a knack for exhibiting honesty without tact. This stands in contrast to the many successful politicians who have a knack for exhibiting tact without honesty.

11 Iʼd watch any show starring Dennis Haysbert. I even like his Allstate commercials. Did you know he made a brief appearance in an early episode of the A-Team? Yeah, heʼs that good.

12 There once was a war between Michigan and Ohio. They ended up with Toledo; we ended up with the gorgeous Upper Peninsula. Most sensible people consider that a victory for Michigan. Those who donʼt consider it as such probably live in Ohio.

13 I told you Iʼm not good at ending blog posts gracefully.

Wow. I don't even know what to say, that was so good. What's your funniest story regarding your kids and a Euphemism-American?