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August 7th, 2005
a butterfly’s sense

I have monarch butterflies at my house. They all started as green and white caterpillars. You see, I have milkweed in my gardens and the monarch caterpillars love it.

I was walking in front of my house when I noticed a green cocoon hanging on one of my windows. I looked around and saw one of the caterpillars being picked off by a bird to feed on.

I found some old glass jars with lids, and poked small air holes in the top and began collecting milkweed and caterpillars to protect them from the birds. I explained to the caterpillars what I was doing and they graciously accepted my offer of protection.

Except one. I came across one particularly large caterpillar named Leonard. Leonard absolutely refused to get into the jar. I tried to explain to Leonard what I was doing.

“I don’t care about that,” he said. He explained that if I put him in that jar he would turn into a butterfly and that he was perfectly happy being a caterpillar.

That’s what caterpillars do. They turn into butterflies. What was he thinking? I asked him how he was going to avoid becoming a butterfly.

“I’m going to stay right here, and while everyone else is spinning their cocoon, I’m going to enjoy life being a caterpillar.” Don’t you want to be a butterfly I asked? He explained that being a butterfly would be wonderful, but it just wasn’t for him. Leonard seemed convinced that not only could he avoid fate, but his plan of avoiding life’s beautiful gift was somehow better for him.

Alright then, I was tired from arguing. I finished helping the other caterpillars. They settled into their jars, safe and sound from the birds and started preparing for their transformation.

I happened to look over where Leonard had been, wondering what had become of my nonsensical friend. He was working away spinning himself a cocoon. I walked up to him and asked what he was doing; after all he was so convinced he didn’t want to become a butterfly. He didn’t respond. He was totally absorbed in spinning his cocoon.

A little while later, I saw Leonard’s cocoon in a completed state. It quivered. Then it cracked on one side. The new Leonard climbed out. Leonard was a beautiful butterfly with bright blue and purple wings. He stretched his giant beautiful wings out to dry. I thought to myself what might have been if he had really managed to avoid his destiny, his gift of transformation.

As I’m staring at his wings I feel pain in my leg. It’s a muscle cramp – a bad one. I sit straight up out of bed to grab my leg and try to stop the cramp. I look at the clock, it’s 9:30 on Sunday morning.

I don’t usually remember my dreams.

posted in: guest musings — @ 4:20 pm

July 15th, 2005
Weekend Update Part 2

OK, so I’m sitting here eating a jar of olives (you know, the Mediterranean kind) thinking about the rest of my weekend up north.

First of all, I should mention that it was great to get away. With the divorce going on I just needed a break from being in the house and everything. On the other hand, having such a great weekend made me feel a little sad because it made me realize how much I wish I could share it with someone really special.

The next day we went on a 20 mile bike ride through Itasca State Park. It was really sunny out, so Ken recommended that I put on some sunscreen. I’ll come back to this though.

On the bike path.

About 15 miles into the ride we decided to stop at a little lodge for some lunch. Now it’s bad enough that I’m losing weight from the whole divorce situation, but I figure that a 20 mile bike ride isn’t helping. So for lunch, I order three turkey sandwiches.

Sandwiches before.

For the record: these turkey sandwiches were small. Why do people give me so much crap for being a good eater anyway? Three sandwiches later we were back on the trail and then we decided to take a swim.

Sandwiches after.

For me, swimming after you eat is like running with scissors—there’s nothing wrong with it.. It was so hot out the cool lake water felt really good, but there’s something about the heat that makes mosquitoes and horseflies go crazy. Swimming in the water kept them away, but once we got out and started biking again, they were on all of us.

Three horsefly bites later I tried (unsuccessfully) smacking one. I look at my palm and it’s orange. “the sunscreen” I think to myself. I show my palms to Ken who explains that his sunscreen has a bronzer in it. “Don’t you know you’re supposed to wash your hands,” he exclaimed. Yeah, where in the Port-A-Potty did you see a sink or soap? There isn’t a bathroom for miles—and this stuff is waterproof.

Twenty miles later I’m still staring at my orange palms wondering how long they’ll be orange. Then Ken’s brother, Robert, announces that we’ll be going scuba diving at their parent’s cabin.

Thirty minutes later, we’re at the cabin and looking at the most spectacular view of what must be the cleanest, bluest lake in Minnesota. Shane’s going to go diving first, so I opt to snorkel a bit. Amazingingly the water is just as blue under the surface.

Biking at Itasca.

Shane’s done, so I dive to find myself surrounded by sunfish. They’re all looking directly at me. I explained to them that they weren’t a food item so long as I was scuba diving and they proceeded to follow me around. Some of you may ask how I communicated with the pan fish—I’ll explain another time; I’m almost out of olives.

The day ended with another fantastic meal (of course). While we were waiting for our food, we had to feed Robert’s tame chipmunks. Yes, Robert has tame chipmunks. They like to be petted and love it when you feed them sunflower seeds.

Donut the chipmunk.

Shane with Donut.

We ate pork steaks with Jim Beam BBQ sauce. Pigs are tasty animals. We didn’t bother with the bonfire as the mosquitoes were even worse.

The North Woods sunset.

The next morning we decided to try fishing one last time. We were heading back in when a 2 – 2 ½ pound northern took my line. Finally! I caught my first fish of the weekend.

I was so excited when we walked back into Ken’s cabin. Now we just need to clean up and get ready to go home, but as we walked through the door… It smelled like his dog’s ass, but now it’s ten times worse. It’s Jasper, somehow his anal gland condition had gone from bad to severe.

Great, I get to ride home with this dog for 3 ½ hours today in 95 degree weather with no air conditioning.

We finish cleaning up and on the way back we hit the halfway point and neither Ken or I could stand the smell. We pull over to a gas station.

How do you know that you’re far away from civilization? When you go to the magazine rack in a gas station and they ONLY have a porn section. Wasn’t really expecting that, but I guess it gets lonely in these parts.

OK, I’m out of olives and I’m falling asleep sitting up.


posted in: guest musings — @ 2:21 am

July 13th, 2005
Weekend Update Part 1

This weekend a friend of mine invited me to his cabin up in Northern Minnesota. I didn’t really know what to expect however the sound of getting away for the weekend was too good to pass up regardless of what was in store.

So last Friday I got home from work a little early, threw a few clothes in a bag and waited for my friend Ken to pick me up. Of course, I had to grab my camera too.

Here’s a recap of the weekend:

Ken pulls up a little late. No worries, we still have plenty of time to make the three and a half hour drive. I put my bags in Ken’s truck and he explains that his air conditioning isn’t working. No problem, I was thinking. Usually I don’t mind the heat. I climb into Ken’s sweltering truck. Wow, it smells kind of funky in here I think to myself.

We drive to Ken’s house to pick up his dog Jasper. Jasper is a very sweet Samoyed who lost one eye due to pressure problems and whose hips are completely degenerative. Ken lifts Jasper into the truck. That explains the smell – it’s the dog. I think Ken sees my nose wrinkle up. My eyes are watering.

Ken explains, “Sorry, my dog has serious problems with his anal glands.”

This is Jasper

Even with both our windows down (recall there’s no air conditioning) Jasper’s ass permeates the truck.

Three and a half hours later we pull up to Ken’s cabin. He’s got a beautiful spot right on the lake. It’s dark out now and we walk up to the front door where there’s a cloud of mosquitoes and other bugs waiting to carry us away.

We walk in and Ken introduces me to his brother-in-law, Mike and his nephew, Shane. I should probably mention that the only air conditioning Ken’s cabin has is an in-window unit in his bedroom. It’s probably about 90 degrees out still even though the sun has gone down.

I head off to bed and try to get settled in. It’s way too hot for any sheets so I lay awake on my bed trying to get comfortable. I figure if I lay still enough I can cool down.

I can hear the whine of the mosquitoes. I feel a bite on my leg and a split second later I smack it. OK maybe the sheets aren’t such a bad idea.

I pull the sheet up over my body and start to dose off. I wake up to the sound of a mosquito in my ear. It wakes me up halfway and I smack myself hard in the head. OW!

I’m awake now. I turn the light on and grab a shirt. I turn the shirt into a mosquito-killing weapon and go on a rampage.

After I cleared out all the mosquitoes I go back to bed and drift off to sleep.
Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz – thwap! I smack my head again.

OK. Now I’m hot and sweaty, covered in mosquito bites and I’ve been hitting my head and despite my best efforts to kill all the mosquitoes in the room I’m SOL. Finally I’m so tired that I fall asleep and wake up eight hours later covered in red dots.

The next morning after a nutritious breakfast of cinnamon rolls, we head out fishing. Mike tells me that they’re biting and that he’s already caught five. Ken, Shane and I go out on the lake to check things out.

None of us catch any fish – just lots of seaweed. But no worries, it’s not always about catching fish. And besides, the mosquitoes don’t come out on the lake.

After a great morning out on the lake we grill up some burgers and relax. I love food. Shane and I finish off the last of the burgers and decide that tubing would be an appropriate after-lunch activity. I also love swimming after I eat… just because you’re not supposed to.

This is Shane tubing.

Ken decides that we’ll catch more fish if Shane and I snorkel to find them. Shane and I quickly discovered that the reason we weren’t catching fish is because there weren’t any—however the visibility in the lake was decent for freshwater. About 20 feet down there is a thermocline, which is a sudden change in water temperature. The temperature will change from about 75 or so down to about 50. The warm water sits on the cold water like a layer.

Having a wetsuit on, I decided to see how far down I could actually get. The deepest part of this lake was just over 41 feet. Armed with my wetsuit, mask and flippers I jump in and start breathing to prepare for my dive.

I take in a deep breath several times. One last breath and I start diving down. Kicking hard I push deeper and deeper until I hit the thermocline and I can feel the freezing water around me. Diving without weights in a wetsuit is hard because (unlike me) wetsuits are buoyant. About 10 feet after the thermocline the urge to breath is unbearable from kicking so hard.

I start to ascend and the warm water above felt like a hot bath. I start to see stars. I picked a good time to resurface. I was thinking about making another attempt without the wetsuit, but 50-degree water without a wetsuit? Maybe next time.

Later that afternoon, Ken introduces me to his brother Robert and Robert’s wife Anne.

Robert and Anne live across the cul-de-sac from Ken. We walk over to their home and it is beautiful. Robert and Anne bought this cabin a few years ago in really rough shape. It only had a couple of windows, no flooring and no ceiling—in other words, pretty much just logs with a roof.

Now their cabin is fully finished with a beautiful open floor plan, tile flooring, tongue-in -groove woodwork, marble bathrooms, granite counter-tops and beautiful huge windows to show the amazing lake view.

The incredible thing is that Robert and Anne have done all this work themselves. They haven’t hired a single contractor or company to do any work on their house. Robert and Anne have done it all, from sawing holes in the logs (to make room for the new windows) to hand-finishing every board of woodwork in their home. Anne even purchased custom glass bowls and with Robert’s help, made their own custom pedestal sinks.

This is Robert and Anne’s cabin.

My favorite feature was the kitchen. Did I mention I love food? Really love food.

Now Ken brought 4 lobsters with him, one of which was 4 ½ pounds. And Shane explains that he doesn’t like lobster and that he’d rather eat hotdogs. It’s really amazing to me that anyone can eat a hotdog. It’s even more amazing when you get to eat more lobster because a 14-year-old kid opts to eat hotdogs instead. I’m not complaining.

This is Robert holding dinner.

Robert also grilled shrimp with some special blend of spices and they were phenomenal. Can you tell I was in heaven?

Our evening ended with an attempt at a bonfire. The reason I say attempt is because the mosquitoes came out. Numerous bites later we decided that the searing heat from the fire combined with the smoke wasn’t enough to keep the mosquitoes away.

posted in: guest musings,hilarity — @ 1:48 am

July 6th, 2005
What Makes a Great Day?

What’s the difference between the worst of days and the best of days?

My morning started off with an argument with my wife. We’re getting divorced so this isn’t anything new on the scene. I’ll spare you the details but in short she’s pissed at me and yes it is my fault.

I went to work. Things aren’t working. Broken things on websites with many customers. But hey, before I knew it, lunch was here. Lunch is my favorite part of the day, except for dinner or snacktime or — I can’t choose. (You get the idea)

I did lunch with my dad today. He wanted to do lunch with me to explain why I’m screwing my life up and why people should never ever get divorced. Apparently I need to be fixed. (I think he meant in the head but your guess is as good as mine).

I get back to the office.

More broken stuff and meetings. I remember that I have to call my mortgage company (I just sold a house) to figure out how to get my prepayment penalty waived. I’ll again spare you the details but I do not like it when my closing is 20 days late because my mortgage company (on a daily basis) fails to send my payoff statement. Then they charge me an additional 20 days of interest and stick me with a “prepayment” penalty because it’s a terrible thing to repay a loan.

I went to visit one of my rental properties. I convinced the previous tenant to move out after she decided to use the entire unit as a toilet for her and her cats. I found out today that removing the carpeting was a very good decision because it had maggots and fleas (and cat urine). She managed to take most of the drugs with her but left enough defiled crap to fill an entire 30 foot dumpster (rolloff) with no room to spare.

Now I’m sitting alone at home and I finally have time to really reflect.

Why does today seem like it was actually really great?

a) I learned that my cat can polish off an entire turkey sandwich while I’m not looking
b) I ate six times today
c) Ham was nominated as its own food group
d) The insider told me I’m going to receive a whole cow (and I just got my grill working)
e) Other

posted in: guest musings — @ 12:25 am

June 29th, 2005
To be Metro or not to be Metro?

The insider tells me I’m metro.

Rather jumping straight into denial I decided to do some personal reflection. First up in my toolbox is has no less than 125 definitions for “Metrosexual.” Here’s the definition with the highest approval rating:

1. metrosexual
A straight man who embraces the homosexual lifestyle, i.e. refined tastes in clothing, excessive use of designer hygiene products, etc. Usually is on the brink of homosexuality.
Mike has become a metrosexual after shaving off his stubble and using expensive skin products to soften his cherubic facial features.
Source: Anonymous, Feb 14, 2004

Well, let’s walk through this one. Do I embrace the homosexual lifestyle? To all you gay guys out their let me set the record straight. I think you are great, most of you are funny as hell and us straight guys could probably learn a lot from you.

To the gay guy at Burger King who used to give me free food – “thank you.” No straight man in his right mind would have fed this poor college student so well. To be honest, I didn’t really want to hear about how you had finally gotten laid but I figured it was a fair trade for the cheeseburgers. Hey, you’re a nice guy and I did tell you I was straight.

And my taste in clothes you ask? My wife buys most of my clothes. Which is great because I don’t really like shopping for clothes with one exception. I like picking out dress clothes such as suits and ties. In the business world you have to dress for success. So while I’m home jeans and t-shirts all the way. But when meeting with clients I like to dress nice. This includes shoes and I always give them a fresh shine before I travel.

What about my grooming habits? Lets see. I take really long showers because I wash at least 3 times. I brushed my teeth twice this morning just to be sure. Then I rinsed with hydrogen peroxide because it kills everything in your mouth. I finished off with mouthwash to get rid of the peroxide taste. I’m freaking out because I didn’t have time to floss. (At least I have a Sonicare – I love my Sonicare toothbrush).

What about my hair? Well first, I don’t go to a salon anymore, but I used to. I started going there before I was married because Brandi (my “stylist”) was really cute. She used to take extra time when she would wash my hair and massage my scalp. But 30 bucks for a hair cut finally wore on my frugal spirit.

Now I go to the Regency school where students experiment on daring people like myself. It’s hair. It’ll grow back. They haven’t screwed it up yet. It’s $8!

What about hair products? I do use products in my hair – typically gel. I usually use whatever my wife has happened to buy. In a pinch when I’m travelling Crew products are usually a safe bet.

Hair spray frightens me. My wife uses a lot of hair spray. Somehow she manages to get more on the bathroom wall then on her hair. I once accidentally backed into the wall after I got out of the shower. I stuck to the wall like a fly on fly tape. To my wife’s credit, her hair looks really nice.

Lotion also freaks me out. My wife uses lotion. A LOT of lotion. I once went to give her a hug and she slid out of my arms. She’ll put lotion on her hands and then it gets on me. It’s slimy and I don’t like it. It smells flowery. She drives my car sometimes. The next time I drive my car, holding on to the steering wheel is an adventure. I do not use skin products. I do not like skin products. Soap – it works.

What about shaving? I don’t like shaving. I shave at most every other day. Sometimes once a week. It depends. I don’t particularly like having a beard either. It’s itchy. My brother has a beard. Everytime I see a cheerio embedded in his facial hair it kind of disturbs me.

I do wear cologne. Curve and Very Valentino are two of my favorites. If I had to choose between being metro and smelling bad I’d take the former. I do not however like smelling like a girl. When my wife uses no less than three sprays of perfume and I accidentally walk through the cloud I don’t enjoy smelling like flowers, lavender, honeysuckle, fairyblossoms and whatever other stuff they put on there. It smells fine on her but not on me!

Finally, am I on the verge of being a homosexual?

I’m sorry to disappoint the gay male population but no.

So am I a metrosexual? You decide – it doesn’t really matter to me.

posted in: guest musings — @ 10:34 am

June 26th, 2005
Pearl of Wisdom

As a professional pet sitter, my wife belongs to an association of pet sitters who serve our community. To help promote their businesses one of their members decided they should set up a booth at the annual Minneapolis Gay Pride Festival.

As a result I’ve been driving my wife for the last two days down to the festival as parking is impossible. Last night when I picked her up she gets in the car and looks dazed. I asked her how it was going.

“I just saw a man wearing leather chaps and nothing else.”

I try not to laugh too hard. What did she expect?

“This company wants to partner with us to promote each other’s business.”

She hands me a flyer. It’s an advertisement for various lubricant products and other novelty “items.”

Wow, they must really love their pets.

We’re driving around the block. She points out a couple. “Are those guys or girls?” she asks. I look and squint my eyes. I can’t tell either.

The next day I’m playing chauffeur again for my wife. There were sights to be seen and sights I would have rather not seen.

I did receive one pearl of wisdom though. Meet Irv.

Irv the Perv

posted in: guest musings — @ 10:34 pm

June 26th, 2005
The Traveler

I was driving through the city today and noticed that there was a panhandler on nearly every major intersection. They all had various creative cardboard signs. Everything from “Will work for food” to “I need a beer – God bless.”

I decided to investigate. I wanted to talk with one of these individuals. Find out their story. I’m about to drop my wife off.

As I’m driving home I stop at the first intersection. I roll down my window and explain that if he’s hungry to hop in and I’ll buy him some food. He looks surprised. I’m not just going to give him some money? He starts to stammer and I can smell the Jim Beam. Great, the car behind me is honking. The light has changed. He explains that he can’t he’s waiting for a friend. And I thought this was going to be easy.

I stop to get gas. Just my luck. I see a man walk past me to the street corner and pull out his sign.

I approach the man and I asked him if I can buy him lunch. At first he’s taken aback. Really? He asks. Sure I said, but I want you to tell me your story. I extend my hand and introduce myself. “Herman’s my name” he exclaims. Herman’s hands look dirty. (Note to self: wash hands soon.) Herman is clearly drunk off his ass. That’s ok. He’s talking with me – progress.

“Well there’s a gas station right there” he exclaims. I explain that there’s a nice malt shop right down the way but he’s not interested. “Hey, you don’t happen to drink beer do you?” Sorry Herman, I’m not buying you alcohol. “Well, can you buy me some cigarettes?” Sure I say.

I get Herman a sandwich a drink and some cigarettes. Moments later he’s telling me his life story. He was born here in the city in one of the nicer suburbs. His parents split. His Dad is a technical writer. They don’t like him hanging around when he drinks.

He tells me what it’s like to live on the street. He’s going to San Diego for the winter this year. “Winters here are a bitch!” he exclaims. I can’t even imagine. He explains how he puts on 3 coats and 3 hats and tries to find a place where they can make a fire. It often gets as much as 20 below or more here (without the wind-chill). Sometimes he can find a shelter but those fill up too. “That’s where the bums go” he says. “I’m not a bum though, I’m a traveler.” And then there are the cops. “They’re always harassing us to move along. If you get into the nicer suburbs the housewives freak out and they ship us back down here.”

Sometimes he explains they’ll commit crimes just so they can land in jail. (He doesn’t admit that he does that but read between the lines).

“You ever going to give up drinking?” I ask. “Oh yeah, someday” he says.

I stop. Somewhere between the sandwich and the stories he’s accumulated a giant green booger on his mustache. Do I say something? The green booger is staring at me.

“Herman” I say. I lower my voice. “You have a booger on your mustache. You don’t want to hurt your chances on the corner.” “Thanks Dude!” He blows his nose and wipes it. Good he took it well.

Herman continues. He was in the Army. He enlisted after high school. Spent some time in Germany. He’s been doing manual labor ever since he got out. It’s hard to have a steady job when you drink.

“Were you ever married?” I ask. “No but I got a girlfriend in the suburbs!” He explains that she lives with her parents and they don’t like him hanging around.

Herman finishes the last of his sandwich. “Well Dude, got to get me back to the corner!”

He thanks me profusely for everything and hurries back to capture peak panhandling time.

Herman, I dedicate this Blog posting to you. Happy travels and Godspeed.

posted in: crazy escapades,guest musings — @ 5:19 pm

June 25th, 2005
the world wide sock federation

the guest thinks they’re out to get him…. lol

Where did my Left Socks Go?

This morning as I was getting dressed I noticed a lonely sock sitting all by itself. A right sock. Unfortunately, this is not a new sight to me.

Over the years I’ve noticed that I have an ever-growing pile of right socks. I wait for the left sock-mate to appear but to no avail. I recently pointed out this phenomenon to my wife.

She’s convinced that this is of no concern and that the socks that are missing aren’t all left socks. How does she know? She matches left with left and right with right all the time! “Besides” she says, “why would only left socks disappear?”

Well I have a theory on all this. I have to warn you that this may be a little provocative, but hopefully you will see how this all makes sense.

Over the years, the major washing machine manufacturers have continued to improve their technology allowing clothes to become cleaner and last longer. For years socks were one of the most profitable consumable clothing items as they would wear out quickly and need to be replaced.

As the technology improved socks started lasting longer and longer. Sock sales, (particularly men’s socks) took a substantial hit. Men will wear socks until their absolute death. Holes, broken elastic, threadbare – doesn’t matter.

Almost 10 years ago in 1996, the major clothing manufacturers formed an alliance called the “World Wide Sock Federation.” This alliance was formed to address the declining sock sales. After much planning and debate on how to resolve the problem, they partnered with the major appliance manufacturers.

They also brought in top scientists and statisticians from all over the world. After much debate they formed the most perfect and insidious plan to dupe the worlds sock consumers.

You’re probably wondering what came of their evil genius. The scientists came up with a way for appliances to selectively destroy left socks. The reasoned with the help of the statisticians that by targeting only left socks that they would be able to render more pairs of socks unusable while minimizing the actual number of socks that needed to be destroyed. Such an elegant system would likely be unnoticed by the average consumer. If anyone did catch on the whole idea of laundry machines destroying left socks would seem so outlandish they figured they could get away with it.

Have you ever noticed how your lint trap gets so full after every load? You think it’s normal for so much lint to accumulate simply from washing your clothes? I don’t think so!

World Wide Sock Federation, I’m on to you!

I have to go buy some socks now.

posted in: guest musings — @ 6:05 am

June 25th, 2005
why the guest needs a blog

…because of these emails he sends that make me laugh out loud and shake my head. :)

Kodak Moment

You ever have one of those amazing pictures sitting right before you in real life? Just tonight I had just that happen to me. I’m standing outside and a beautiful deer is standing right in front of my house.

Thinking quickly, I run inside to grab my camera. The deer is waiting for me – this is almost too good to be true.

It’s dark outside so I know I have to have steady hands. I decide to switch it to manual focus as the auto focus can fail when it’s too dark. I set my ISO setting for the highest available to accommodate the dark lighting. I open up my aperture to allow the most light in possible. This is going to be perfect.

Check it out!

(picture here)

You’re probably wondering what happened?

Ok, so maybe it didn’t all go to plan. (!@#$ Bambi) Somewhere between the focus and the ISO and the aperture and everything else out, I managed to take a great picture – without the deer.

Thanks to Google image search and a little sloppy Photoshop work and you get the idea.

I can see this happening—throw in an “I sicced my cat on a mouse, took a shower with a hose in front of a hotel and lamented my fate as landlord of a looney,” and that’s a day in the life of the guest.

We love him. He’s an entertaining fellow. :)

posted in: guest musings — @ 6:01 am

June 25th, 2005
the guest shares

Meet Calvin, the adorable-as-all-holy-hell mouser

posted in: guest musings — @ 5:59 am
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