Erin and Tyler’s Wedding: A Tofino Adventure

Recently, Tyler and Erin got married (HOORAY!) in one of the coolest places I’ve ever visited – Tofino, British Columbia. It was such a great event all the way around with lots of fun memories. So I wanted to get a blog post written before all is forgotten in my goldfish style memory bank.


My trip began in Switzerland. We knew about the details of this trip far in advance and made the decision to have me go alone, without Sarah and the kids. Though we would have much preferred to all be in attendance, the planes, trains, automobiles and boats involved in getting there, along with the travel time made the decision easy.


And it was the right call. For one, we learned on our trip from the States to Switzerland that Maren, one of our 3 year old twins, gets air sick. The flight from Frankfurt to Vancouver was about 9 ½ hours. One can only bask in the aroma of vomit for so long. That being said, the flight was great. I flew Lufthansa which has now one-upped Delta, in my mind, for Economy Class Superiority. It helped that the seat next to me was empty. But where they really nailed it was the entertainment and food categories. I watched FOUR MOVIES and ate two reasonably tasty meals. It’s the little things.

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Life Instructions?

Life InstructionsI had a hilarious conversation with my brother, Tyler, the other day about glossing over details. He’s moving into a new place and was relaying to me the lease process. There’s always those nitty gritty details – who cuts the grass, who pays for sewage, where should I dispose of my beard husks.  Once it’s all wrapped up, the question posed to Tyler “Do you have any questions?” is then met with a blank look and something like “Uhh, nope, looks good to me!” Now, bear in mind, Tyler HATES to read so there is no way in HELL he gave this paperwork even a cursory look.


I suddenly realized I do the exact same thing, which I shared with Tyler. I thought perhaps it was some sort of genetic defect but he corrected me.  We are genetically defective but he traced the birth of this trait back to our childhood video gaming days.  Our parents forbade TV of any sort, video games included, during the week (I may have that wrong but it sounds right). So playing video games as a child is what stuffing my face with a double cheeseburger and chocolate porter is today as a large child – HEAVEN.


Whenever we got a new video game, there were of course instructions on how to play. Tyler and I would hold them up in the air, look at each other, shrug our shoulders and FLING them across the room.  “Just press all the buttons!” was our mantra.  This method of throwing the instructions away and winging it has mysteriously followed us throughout life.  For example:


When spending a summer in Hermosa Beach, CA, Tyler and I signed a 1 year lease even though we were only going to be there for 3 months. Did we read the fine print. Nope. Did the dump we lived in being the size of my left foot matter? Nope. Did it all work out? YES. We spent the summer there in a haze of Pabst and then subletted the joint to a local weirdo we’d crossed paths with.


When I went to Budapest to study abroad in college, I arrived in Hungary with no paperwork to guide me.  And guess what.  Neither did my partner in Moron Affairs, Kevin Phinney.  We had just flown to the Eastern Bloc, disembarked like a couple of boobs and were utterly clueless as to how to proceed.  Did we speak the language.  Not even close. Did we have cell phones back then.  Uh uh. Did we somehow make it our destination, albeit with a bar stop?  Oh yeah!


One day, I suddenly had a wonderful daughter.  While her car seat came with instructions written by the CEO of NASA, she in fact, did not. To make matters worse, my wife, Sarah, and I were lulled into a sense of “this is pretty easy” during our 3 days in the hospital after her birth.  The nurses were so NICE.  They come in and check on you.  If you’re overwhelmed, they’ll just HANDLE it. Then it’s time to leave.  And you have to strap in your suddenly VERY dependent infant into her space shuttle captain’s chair and GO HOME.  Oh. Sh*t. How to manual? Yeah right. Clues on what to do? Few to none. Did we make it? You know it! We even had 2 more 18 months later!!  If that doesn’t prove you don’t need instructions on life, what does?


Where does this innate feeling of knowing it’s all going to work out come from? It must have come from our parents.  I’d say they imbued us with the kind of confidence required to handle situations such as these.  More than likely, they hoped it would serve us in important life decision ways – like having kids of our own. I doubt they connected the dots of this madness when we hopped in the old Suburban and drove 3,000 miles with 4 surfboards on the roof and NO plan.  But hey, it worked just the same!  I think the parentals get a point on their scoreboard for this one – maybe two.

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Kids Win Every Time

This conversation, noted by my wife Sarah, pretty much sums up the ability of kids to be so outrageously persistent that your mind ends up in knots as you attempt to “win” the conversation.  Trust me, you never will.

  • Sarah:  Peanut, please don’t ask me to watch Dora again.
  • Milan:  Momma, want to watch Dora PLEASE.
  • Sarah:  Milan, since you asked me to watch Dora again after I asked you not to, it means that you won’t be able to watch it.
  • Milan:  Momma, you need to say sorry.  Momma, don’t tell me no.
  • Sarah:  Milan, I’m not going to apologize for asking you not to do something.
  • Milan:  Momma, you have to be nice to us kids.  We can’t be mean to the kids.  Momma you can’t say no because that’s mean.
  • Sarah:  OK Milan.  But you need to listen to mommy when I tell you no.
  • Milan:  Momma, you need to say sorry to me.

From Sarah to me: How is it that she wins all of the time?  She’s 2!!!!

Persistent Peanut

Persistent Peanut

Answer: When she puts on a snow suit that’s 12 months too small and butterfly wings on a 70 degree day while walking around licking a spoon, it’s pretty tough to keep a straight face and say no.

The Boogeyman

The other day, I was talking with my sister Caroline and we ended up on the subject of sprinting up the stairs.  Why would anyone sprint up the stairs?  From sheer terror of course.  Terror of the BOOGEY MAN.  As we laughed at ourselves for the individual quirks on this topic, I realized there a few versions of the Boogey Man that required sharing.


We’ll start at the top with the Fred also known as Dad, Richie, Poop A Doop and other words that are NSFW.  He didn’t share this story with us children until we were adults (which we’re not really) so we find it hilarious – now.


GremlinThe house he grew up in was, I’m going to say a Cape Cod?  The attic had been renovated into living quarters for, I want to say his parents?  To get up there required a steep climb ending at a landing with a window right in front of you.  Now I’ve never heard him say anything about sprinting up stairs from Boogey Man terror but when you hear his tale, you might wonder.


I’m going to flat out make some of this up because, ask anyone, I have a terrible memory.  But climbing those stairs as a small Richard, he would swear to seeing a tiny gremlin – outside the window – looking at him.  I don’t believe the gremlin ever came inside or chased Richie around – just looked at him.  But I’m getting creeped out just thinking about it.  I don’t see a crazed, gooey, monstrous goblin.  More of a small, weird, green thing with an unsettling smirk.  Whoa.


Caroline didn’t give me a specific Boogey Man or gremlin from her memory.  But we both share the deep seated need to race up the basement stairs with complete disregard for life or limb.  I’m not talking about taking 2 at a time or hustling.  This is flat out, terrorized BOLTING.  Heart POUNDING, get the EFF out of my way NOW.  Which ends with looking over your shoulder, verifying no one SAW what just happened.  And then laughing at how completely absurd it is to be over 30 years of age and running around like a maniac with a chainsaw is after you.


Now, in fairness to Caroline and myself, this ludicrous act has subsided some over the years.  And frankly, it’s not as common in our respective homes – today.  The same cannot be said, however, for ye olde homestead in unassuming, happy Fanwood, NJ – site of The Basement.  This is where we grew up.  Where we lived in fear of GOING INTO THE BASEMENT.  It is here that we both learned the art of going up 17 stairs in 0.3 seconds.


You see, this wasn’t any old basement.  THIS basement contained an old closet with a DOOR.  And this closet was in the far, back CORNER.  What little light there was in this terrifying space shone NOT in this corner. When you OPENED the door, there was an old, defunct TOILET.  Ok, ok, I may be overdoing it a HAIR but when you hear what else resided in this old bathroomy closet, you’ll be on my side.  A POSTER OF WALT WHITMAN!


Walt WhitmanNow, I can’t find the exact poster online but it was a profile of the MAD MAN you see here plus a poem running down it.  Just look at this guy!  He’s got Appalachian Cannibal written over his face. Which, based on my extensive research is not too far off the mark.  He is credited with some prose containing the words, and I quote “our very flesh shall be a great poem” – CANNIBAL!  Imagine, being around 6 years of age, opening a creaky old door and discovering this mug looking down at you.  SCARY. AS. SHIT.


Ok, I’ve caught my breath and am no longer writing this from inside a closet.  It’s now clear where this primal urge to bat-out-of-hell it up the steps originated.  Because Walt Whitman.  So what about the real, actual Boogeyman?  My vague memory of this scary fellow involved a guy with some kind of cloak rising out of a vacuum cleaner – which thanks to The Google is not so hard to find.  Because when you search The Boogeyman, one of the options is a movie from the 80’s.  Sounds about right.  Until you click on it and realize it’s some gruesome, supernatural fright fest.  Pretty sure we didn’t watch that at the age of 6.


A little more digging yielded this GEM – Mr. Boogedy.  I found some lengthy clips from this DISNEY film but the one below is far more entertaining.  I didn’t see anyone coming out of a vacuum cleaner but the absurd BOOGEDY! BOOGEDY! that everyone is saying rings a strong bell.  And I think the weirdo with a green force field is my vacuum guy memory.

Moral of the story?  It’s Walt Whitman and a gremlin that are at fault, not The Boogeyman.

photo credit: Inti via photopin cc

McDonalds Ran Out of Paper Towels

Paper TowelsMy cousin, Todd, shared this story with me a ways back and I would be remiss in not sharing it with anyone else.  It involves his mentor, we’ll call him Ned for now, and the famous restaurant McDonald’s.  Todd was on the phone with Ned talking about the pile of Mickey D’s hamburgers being smeared upon his face for lunch. He and Ned share a love for this king of fast food – or used to.

After Todd finished describing the melty goodness of his meal, Ned shared the details of a recent excursion to the Golden Arches.  He approached the counter and after ordering his burger was told to step aside and wait.  No smile, no thanks for your order – just wait until your order appears on the monitor and BEAT IT.  Ned also observed the awesome lack of intelligence required to operate the cash register.  Just press HAMBURGER – no thought, no math, nothing.

Finding this amusing Ned snarkily remarked “You’re losing your human touch.”  He was greeted with a blank stare – totally uncomprehending.  Realizing his humor was lost on this button punching goofball, he headed for some relief in the restroom.

After finishing up, Ned realized there were no paper towels.  It was at this point that he, and I quote, “went bananas.”  Walking back out to the counter, Ned proclaimed “There are no paper towels for me to wipe my penis!”  To which he was greeted with the same blank, intelligence free stare.

At this point in the conversation with my cousin, I am laying on the floor in fits of uncontrollable laughter. Todd required 3 tries to complete the sentence.  Naturally, he wanted to know WHY Ned needed to wipe his penis after visiting the urinal and was told “Once you get to my age, sometimes you need to clean up after using the john.”

A.      There is nothing more amusing than attempting humor with someone that is utterly incapable of understanding the humor.

B.      The only thing funnier is when it’s attempted an older gentleman that could not care less what the buffoon on the other end thinks of the whole situation.

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How many ingredients does it take to make a cupcake?

I recently had the (dis)pleasure of eating some supermarket made cupcakes.  When I bit into it and thought “This tastes like shit”, I inspected the label to ensure there was not in fact, shit in my cupcake.  Unfortunately, I can’t really be sure as I cannot decipher the list of chemical compounds displayed.  But I was so shocked at the LENGTH of this list that I had to take a picture and compare this recipe to that of the Queen of Cooking and Fake Happiness – Martha Stewart.

So, here’s the label off the supermarket cupcakes with the full list, spelled out below, for visual impact.  I’ve included commentary on some of the extra special items. Beneath all this, you’ll find the ingredient list for Martha’s comparable cakes.

Supermarket Cupcakes

Fresh Made Finds but no shit


White Cake

  • Water
  • Sugar
  • Enriched Wheat Flour Bleached
  • Soybean Oil
  • Dry Egg Whites
  • Propylene Glycol Mono & Diesters with BHT & Citric Acid as Preservatives
  • Leavening (Baking Soda, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Alumnium Sulfate, Monocalcium Phosphate)
  • Food Starch (Modified Dry Egg Yolk, Dextrose, Mono & Diglycerides, Salt, Nonfat Milk Solids, Sorbitan MonoStearate, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Soy Lecithin, Cellulose Gum, Polysorbate 60, Xantham Gum, Wheat Starch, Propylene Glycol, Sulfites.092905 – D,L,J)
    • Polysorbate 60 “can cause detrimental reproductive effects, organ toxicity and cancer in high doses.  However, the FDA designated the chemical as safe for limited use in food.” More here.

Buttercreme Icing

  • Powdered Sugar
  • Shortening (Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Palm Oil w/ Mono & Diglycerides, Polysorbate 60, Water, Food Starch Modified Guar Gum, Corn Syrup, Salt, Natural & Artificial Flavor)
    • Um, where’s the butter in the buttercreme?

When Decorated (which they are)

  • Corn Starch
  • Glucose
  • Alkalized Cocoa Powder
  • Soy Lecithin
  • FD&C Artificial Colors (Red #40, Yellow #5, Red #3, Yellow #6, Blue #1, Caranauba Wax)

When Decorated Colors (though written by Yoda, I think also applies this does)

  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • FD&C Artificial Colors (Red #40, Yellow #5, Red #3, Yellow #6, Blue #1, Blue #2)
  • Modified Corn Starch
  • Vegetable Gum and/or Guar Gum
  • Citric Acid
  • Phosphoric Acid
  • Less than 1/10 of 1% Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Sorbate as Preservative
    • “When combined with…citric acid (which it is)…the preservative converts to benzene, a carcinogen reported to cause leukemia, DNA damage…” and the list goes on here. Hey, at least it’s less than 1/10 of a percent.


White Cake

  • Cake Flour
  • Baking Powder
  • Salt
  • Milk
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Butter
  • Sugar
  • Egg Whites

Buttercream Icing

  • Butter
    • Likely included because Martha knows how to spell ‘cream’
  • Confectioner’s Sugar
  • Vanilla Extract

I imagine supermarkets use these weird ingredients to ensure extra long shelf life.  And maybe all of the items here are completely safe to consume.  Plus it’s likely cheaper to produce.  I’ve even heard, anecdotally, a sentiment of “why would you MAKE cupcakes, when you can just BUY them?”

Well, for one, if you can’t handle mixing 8 ingredients, there may be bigger fish to fry.  But two, the cheap ones taste just like what I’d imagine a stew of the above ingredients would – shit.

Squirrels Are Eating My Car

Squirrel Car

The little deviant

The other day, I popped the hood on my car to fill up the windshield washer fluid tank.  As I lifted it open, a squirrel blasted out like a jack in the box.  Needless to say, I swore like a sailor, almost had a heart attack and nearly fell off my driveway into the neighbor’s yard.  Mercifully no one was to around to bear witness.

The fuzzball had gathered several pounds of leaves and sticks into some kind of nest right on top of the motor.  Muttering curses, I grabbed the leaf blower and proceeded to jam it in every available opening to clean out the mess.  And was again grateful that no one was outside to see me in action.

I’ve been opening the hood every time I get in the car now to make sure it’s un-nested.  I also hold the garbage can lid in front of me like a medieval shield.  Wouldn’t want to get attacked by another murderous rodent.  Fortunately, there has not been a repeat offense but Richie, the father unit, made a good suggestion on checking out options for deterring this in the future; via some online searching.  And wow was I in luck.  Not only have other people had this issue, they’ve had the benefit of suggestions from every nitwit on the ‘net.   Here are some faves:

I have heard that ferret urine will deter squirrels. A local pest-control guy I know uses it on cotton balls and places them in spaces where squirrels have nested…He gets the used litter from ferret cages at the pet store. Maybe get some from your local pet store and seal it in a bag with a towel and let it marinate for a day or so. Then place the towel under the truck or wherever you think might be the fuzzer’s point of entry.

Ferret urine.  In a bag with a towel to marinate. Into the FUZZER’S point of entry.  Hmmm.

Rags soaked with ammonia are a good deterrent — stuff them in all the openings where the squirrel could be getting in.

Stuff ammonia soaked rags into ALL the openings a squirrel could get in.  I’m not a chemist but this one just reeks of Darwin award.

Set…mouse traps in the engine compartment and around the car. Bait them with peanut butter, cheese or bacon. Roast the bait with a match or lighter to increase its aroma.

I’m conflicted here.  What’s more absurd – mouse traps in your engine bay or ROASTING the peanut butter before setting them?

This might sound a bit daft, but if you have a cat and you can leave it under the bonnet for a night, that could frighten the squirrel away.

bit daft?  Stuff a cat under the hood for a night. See what happens to you when you re-open it.  Clearly, this clown has never been around cats.

Should have put the nest in a more respectable place. if you get a nest again have a cardboard box ready for it. don’t throw it away, or 2 boxes (one inside another) so it will appear warm for the thing. you can then feed it sometimes and use the trap once it has your trust.

I had to re-read this one a few times since it was written by a narcoleptic monkey on acid.  I’m gathering the writer was upset the poster had tossed the nest he found.  But these elements:  “warm for the thing” – “feed it sometimes” – “use the trap once it has your trust” leave me slightly afraid.

Have any experience in this arena? Got anything to add?  I’ll be sure to pass it along in response to this mind bender of an internet question.

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