Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Grocery Shopping: I Hate It.

I don't like grocery shopping. Assuming you read the title of this post, that should come as no surprise. To hate grocery shopping is pretty shitty when there are people in the world that are starving, but what can I say? 

There are three basic parts to it. They are, unsurprisingly, before, during and after.

Part 1: Before

One day I'll notice I'm low on ingredients, so I improvise and throw a few random things together. Sometimes this leads to a brilliant mistake, for example barbecue sauce in mashed potatoes (that shit is good.) 

I start thinking, maybe this wasn't some happy accident (it was). Maybe there's a chef inside me that has just made itself known, (there isn't) and I should cultivate my new found talents! (I shouldn't) Ignoring my own parenthetical advice, I go on and try to create culinary masterpieces with but a few seemingly uncomplimentary ingredients. 

I'll just substitute rice for the everything!

Then one night I try to make a meal with hot dogs, cabbage and a banana and realize it's time to go grocery shopping, which means it's time to make a list.

For some reason, instead of putting foods I plan to eat on this list, I make a list as if I'm trying to impress someone. I'll put all kinds of fancy shit on it. Maybe I'll even put one new vegetable on every list! Because I'm six! Yeah! FUCKIN' PARSNIPS AND SHIT. 

My kitchen, soon.

Now it's time to actually go to the store. I set my list down, get my coat, keys, wallet etc., and head out the door without my list. I could even be closing the door to my apartment when I realize I've forgotten my list, but TOO LATE. CAN'T GO BACK NOW!

Part 2: During

I'm at the store now, which means I didn't get hit by a car on the way over! Nice! Since I didn't bring my list, my new plan is to walk around aimlessly and pick up some things that I know for sure I'll need, and mentally cross them off my mental list. This leads to a lot of wandering. My strategy seems to be:

1. Wander as far away from eggs as I possibly can.

2. Realize I need eggs.

3. Get eggs.

3. Wander as far away from bread as I possibly can.

4. Realize I need bread. 

And so forth...so after I've covered something like six miles in the store, the bonus ingredients on my original list, like "rutabaga" have fallen by the wayside. I try to think of the last few things I need and do my last bit of aimless wandering. By now I've encountered quite a few people that shop, how should I say..at their own pace. 

These people are basically tortoises. 

"Just buyin muh chips"

They'll stand around essentially motionless, and if they do decide to push their cart around, they'll do so reluctantly. They're also completely oblivious to the entire universe. They'll station their cart perpendicular to the aisle, stand between it and their food, then spend the next fifteen minutes comparing the unit price on fifteen different kinds of peanut butter.


I casually stroll up to them, pretending my sole purpose in life right now isn't to get by them. I shuffle closer, gazing at all the products on the shelves that I'm not actually considering buying at all, and think about how much I hate this person. The whole time I'm expecting them to eventually notice me and say "oh excuse me" and waddle out of my way. They DON'T. I want to poke these people with sticks, and see if they actually try to find the source of the poke, or just mindlessly swat at it like a fly. 

So after piledriving my way through a few of these slow-pokes, and some obligatory run-ins with the same people in at least three different aisles, I'm finally ready to check out. It hasn't been too busy, so I'm expecting to get out of their quickly.


Doesn't matter what day it is, or what time it is. By the time I'm ready to check out, the lines have become like the lines at IKEA on a Saturday afternoon. I go to the back of one, then think of "Office Space" as I watch all the other lines dwindle while mine is being held up by some asshole that's paying for his groceries with a combination of food stamps and three different debit cards. Finally it's my turn, and after the cashier engages in the absolute minimal amount of conversation and eye contact, I'm on my way home.

Part 3: After

By the time I step through the door of my apartment, all the things I've forgotten rush back into my memory with such force that I have to steady myself against the wall. So I put them on the list. Haha! That was of course, a joke. 

It doesn't matter what I've forgotten, because I'm a fucking master chef again. 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Journey to England Part V

When setting out on our hitchhiking misadventures, the idea was usually to head to the closest main road to the highway. That way if someone wasn't getting on the highway, they could hopefully drop us near the highway and then we'd be in a good spot to hitch further. 

Right! Perfect logic! 

Well the universe responded to our logic with overwhelming indifference. 

"HA! Sure, go to your roads, I don't give a FUCK."

So, Sheffield to Lancaster, here we go. We checked our road map, and figured out a whole elaborate plan. We'd start out going west until we hit M61, then that would take us most of the way north from there. Since we didn't expect to find people going all the way to Lancaster, we had signs for various towns for checkpoints. 

To get to the outskirts of town and find a good spot to hitch, we realized we'd have to walk about two miles west. Since we were hung over, tired, and carrying huge packs, here's about how far two miles felt

This walk was probably my favorite part of the trip. 

Finally we reached a "lay by". It's a small area to pull over if you've got a flat tire or something, usually found right before on ramps, and sporadically on the highway. These were the best spots to be. We held up our sign for "West to M61" and after about forty minutes someone stopped and offered to take us north instead. We were going stir crazy, so we begrudgingly accepted, rendering our whole plan completely fucked. 

At the drop off point we came up with a new game plan, and while we waited to get picked up again, we saw this:

After only about 15 minutes someone pulled over! We got in the dude's peugeot, and he took off...quickly. He was constantly swearing at other drivers, and driving at speeds up to 100 miles per hour. We tried to distract ourselves from his driving habits, and asked him what he thought our chances were of making it to Lancaster by that evening. His response? 


"Oh you mean like our chances of getting out of this alive?" 

Haha, no we didn't actually say that. We were too terrified.

So to keep you up to speed *rimshot* we were riding with a maniacal racecar enthusiast that was calling other drivers "twats" and didn't expect us to make it to Lancaster. AWESOME. NEW FAVORITE PART OF TRIP.  

He dropped us off at another service station with *phew* all of our limbs intact. Our plan was to get to a town called Blackburn with a not crazy person and go from there. We kept our fingers crossed, and positioned ourselves at the end of the gas station's on ramp. Then it occurred to us, what if instead of waiting for the drivers to come to us, we go to them?! 


Yes! We can guilt these people into taking us places! It may have been a bit intrusive, but it was a much better plan. If someone sees you on the side of the road, they know nothing about you except the fact that you might stab them. If we could ask these people face to face, we could make a positive impression, and they'd hear our charming American accents. Plus we could tell them not shaving for something like five days was a fashion statement in America, and was definitely not a sign that we planned to murder them.

So we just started asking people "HEY! Are you going to or through Blackburn :D:D:D?" I'm sure some people were, but lied. 

Eventually we saw this burly trucker with a sweet beard. Figuring he was a good driver since he appeared to do it for a living, we asked him if he'd take us to Blackburn. He said, "well no, but I can get you right close to Blackburn!" And we hopped in.


He told us all about being a trucker, while blasting Thin Lizzy and Sabbath. My biggest regret from the whole trip is not getting a picture of this guy. He dropped us at a roundabout, and told us which on ramp would take us closer to Lancaster. We didn't have to wait long before a dude not much older than us gave us a short ride and dropped us right by the highway, an easy twenty minutes from Lancaster. And it was only 3:45! All in all, our average waiting time that day wasn't too long, so we expected to be in Lancaster by 5pm at the latest. Well,


..we gave up. We walked to a bus stop, defeated, spent a few pounds to get to a bus station, then spent some more money and took a bus into Lancaster. Perhaps you're wondering, "what's the big deal you cheap piece of shit? It couldn't have been that expensive." Well upset reader, you're right. It wasn't that much money, but I planned to be in Europe for about 3 more weeks, so I needed to save as much money as I could. Plus, if all the money I should've had was a sandwich, let's just say I had a pretty fucking small sandwich.

So, it was a mixture of relief that we were going to make it to Lancaster, and furious rage that the shortest leg of the trip in the area with the most traffic met with absolutely no luck.

"Haha remember me? FUCK YOOUUUU"

Well, what can you do? Lancaster was a cool town. A lot of it was on a huge hill, so you could see for miles.

We hung out with Mike's sister, made some delicious soup with sausage, beer, and I think chick peas. Saw some sights in the city, went out for some drinks at this pub by the river, then went to bed, exhausted. We slept the fuck in the next morning, and were treated to a full English breakfast. Fried eggs mushrooms tomatoes bacon sausage beans and toast. YUM. Next phase of the trip! 

Remember how we spent the whole previous day hitchhiking and being stressed out? Well now we had to do that again, but about twice as far to Stirling, Scotland.

Imagine being in Waterville Maine, and having to hitchhike to Boston Mass in two days. That's pretty much what we were in for. But thankfully we had the luxury of an extra night this time. The idea was to spend a night in Stirling, make our way to Edinburgh, and spend a night there. We had a bus ticket booked for the day after that from Edinburgh to London, and from London we'd take a bus to Mike's grandparents' house.

If someone asked me today, "Hey, do you want to hitchhike two hundred miles to points unknown, not be sure where you're going to sleep for two or three nights, then take a bus back from Edinburgh, without even being sure if you're going to make it to Edinburgh in the first place?" I'm not sure I'd say yes. 

But at the time, I was all for it!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Oatmeal: Pointless

Oatmeal, the final frontier.

Hahah that has nothing to do with the rest of the article. I just thought it'd be funny to start it that way. Anyway..

Why write about oatmeal? Because after this I'm pretty sure I'll have the oatmeal article monopoly. As long as this page gets two hits ever, it will be atop the list when you search for it on google. 

Nobody talks about oatmeal ever. Why?  

.... :(

When was the last time you were excited for oatmeal? The answer is never. Don't bother thinking back. Sure we all eat it from time to time, but only because it's one of those foods that falls under the category of "because I should, right?" but never "because I like it". Also falling into this category are things like rice cakes, celery, and multivitamins. Every time you see somebody eating it, they're usually doing something else too, like reading the newspaper right? That's so they don't have to think about what they're eating.

Let's look at the pros and cons of this breakfast staple.

Pro - It Won't Kill You
That's always a plus, so remember that fact. 

Not oatmeal.

Well that's it for pros. Let's look at the cons.

Con - It's Impossible to Eat Quickly.
Late for work but need a bite to eat? I hope you've got something else, because have you ever tried to wolf down a bowl of oatmeal? Fucking impossible. A wolf couldn't even wolf it down. Why is that? Well, the consistency of some foods causes your gag reflex to kick in should you try to swallow too much. You could seriously be starving, and if you try to eat oatmeal with any sort of voracity, your stomach would say "hey hey, I know it's been awhile, but let's RELAX." 

Now, if you take smaller bites over a reasonable amount of time, this lets your gag reflex go "Oh, this isn't vomit? Sorry!" Then you're free to swallow away. This brings me to my next point:

Con - It Looks Like Vomit.
We as a species generally try not to eat things that look like they've already been eaten. I blame our selfish digestive systems, always wanting first crack.

Sorry, I don't deal in used goods.

So it's understandable for someone to look at oatmeal and think "I wonder what that was, originally?" Maybe it looks perfectly edible to you, but that's probably because it's in a bowl. Take it out of its natural habitat and put it say, anywhere else, and your vomit alarm is bound to go off.

Con - It Doesn't Taste Like Anything.
I don't know about you, but I like the satisfaction of knowing my tongue still works, so when I take a spoonful of plain oatmeal and get no sensory input whatsoever, I'm a little concerned. The only way to get any sort of flavorful experience out of a bowl of oatmeal is if you add maple syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon, or some sort of fruit. Fuck that. I want my food to be able to stand on its own at least a little, not exist solely as a vehicle for something else. 

Let's forget oatmeal was ever here.

Con - You Can't Put Ketchup On It. 
I know, there are a lot of things you can't put ketchup on. By itself, this isn't a huge deal, but add it to all that other shit I've mentioned and oatmeal is starting to look like a huge fucking drag isn't it?

Con - If You Don't Wash the Bowl Right Away, You Might as Well Throw it Out. 
Second on my list of things I never want to do, just behind "dying" is wash a bowl with dried oatmeal stuck to it. What a colossal pain in the ass. Somehow washing oatmeal off when it's wet is like this: 

But after it's dried, it's like this:

You need some sort of blow-torch machine gun to get rid of it. Even if you do somehow get the oatmeal off, chances are you've destroyed the bowl to do it. That would be like putting a dent in your car every time you put gas in it.   

Con - It Rhymes With Bloat Eel.

Con - It's a "Breakfast Only" Food.
Oatmeal has no versatility. Eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, toast, fruit, cereal. Any one of those traditional breakfast foods can be eaten during other meals no problem. Pancakes for dinner is rare, but when it happens you think "FUCK YEAH BEST IDEA EVER". Oatmeal for dinner means you're probably in prison. And cereal? Cereal can be eaten at any time of the day or night! Pretty sure I've accidentally eaten that shit in my sleep. If you've ever had oatmeal for a midnight snack, you make me sick.

Con - Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.
Worst cookies ever, only because you always think they're chocolate chip for a second. Anything that takes part in that travesty is bullshit in my book. 

Chapter One - Oatmeal.

Con - It's Fucking Baige.  
Yeah oatmeal sucks, but at least it's not the most boring color in the world. OH WAIT.

There's actually a color of paint called oatmeal. Here's what it looks like:


If you're not sure what that feeling you just experienced was, it's called "hopelessness". 

Don't adjust your monitor, it won't get any better.

Con - It Only Has One Pro.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

I'm Not Much of a Phone Person

"Back in MY day, we just YELLED really loud."

I have a confession to make. I don't like talking on the phone all that much. That's right. I'll give those of you that just fell out of your chairs in astonishment a second to regroup. Back? Ok.

Despite that picture up there that suggests otherwise, I'm not against phones. I do recognize phones are a complete necessity. Sometimes I think back to early high school before everyone had cell phones and wonder “how the hell did we all survive?” I suppose it wasn’t too difficult. It just meant we had to exercise a bit more forethought when planning the evening’s activities, and it meant being stranded for longer periods of time if our cars ever broke down. But that’s neither here nor there. 

Haha, why did I waste my time making this?

Perhaps you assume I appreciate the necessity of cell phones but still wished I didn't need one? No! Of course I like having a phone! For a couple of months last fall I couldn’t pay my cell phone bill. (Incidentally, bills don’t just disappear when you ignore them like I hoped.)  

Haha! This makes the bad things go away!

I had no cell service, and it was tricky. Get home and want to know what friends are up to? TOUGH SHIT. Need to put a contact number down while looking for a new job? HOPEFULLY THEY DON’T ACTUALLY TRY TO USE IT.  Bullets suddenly riddling your house and you need to call the police? FUCK YOU.  

So at this point I’ve lingered unnecessarily long on the point that yes, I need a phone as much as anybody, I just don’t always like talking on it. Here’s why:

That Delay that Can Lead to Conversational Overlap
Usually we unconsciously accommodate the half second delay or so that accompanies all cell phone conversations, but sometimes it just fucks everything up. I'm sure it's happened to you. The conversation is a steady back and forth, the way it should be, but then combine the delay because your voice is WEEEE bouncing off satellites, with someone sounding like they were finished talking when they fucking weren't, and the conversation spirals into endless simultaneous interruptions. This often happens when trying to close the call.


Maybe the two of you are feeling super fucking smart that day and you realize what's happening, so you pause to let the other person say bye. Guess what? SO DO THEY! 


Hope you like prolonged silence! Eventually one of you hangs up in frustration.

You Can't See the Person's Face
Yeah yeah, pretty soon everyone's gonna have face chat on their phone and this complaint will be obsolete, but in the meantime...I’m sure a lot of you have heard of that study that concluded 55% of a speaker's intention is derived from body language, while the remaining amount is 38% from tone of voice, and 7% from words. If that study is to be believed, it means someone like me that depends so heavily on interpretive dance during conversation is out of luck on the phone. 

"Good morning."

And what about the other person? How do I know they aren’t making faces at me? There’s just too much unknown when such a major part of the conversation is missing.

A Text Message Usually Does the Trick
Most of the time when I need to relay information, a text or quick email sums up everything I need to say. Obviously if I've got a series of complicated questions or want to catch up with someone over the phone I'll call, but if all I need to say is "be there soon!" I don't need to bother calling. We've probably all made that mistake of calling somebody up and almost immediately realizing we've run out of things to talk about.


Hey what's up?

Just calling to tell you I saw that movie you told me about, and it was great!

Oh nice, glad you liked it!

Yeah, that one part you mentioned especially!

Yup, good stuff.



So what's up?

Which leads right into my next point.

There's No Pressure for Constant Chatter Face to Face
On the phone, you’re blah blah blahing away, and no matter what, you’ve got about 3 seconds tops before a normal conversational pause turns into an awkward pause. Now, suppose you’re actually there with someone and you both stop to contemplate how profound your last statement was. Just sitting there silently while in person is ok! Maybe the TV is on too! Fuck it, take a break! You’ve earned it. The conversational frequency can effortlessly drift up and down without a second thought. 

Kind of like this metaphor.

Whereas on the phone if you stop talking for a little while the other person might think you’re dead.

And finally...

Suppose You're in a Heated Argument on the Phone. If You Hang Up Still Fuming, You Will Definitely Feel Like Throwing Something and Oh Look You're Already Holding Your Phone. Might As Well Right? Go Ahead and Be Shortsighted. What's the Worst that Could Happen? Oh God Dammit Look What You've Done, Hundreds of Dollars Down the Shitter. Nice Job Fuckface.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Journey to England Part IV

Part III Part II Part I

We waited in the little breakdown lane area just before the on ramp. There was a constant stream of traffic so I figured it wouldn't be too long before we got picked up. We had our little sign that said "Sheffield" and we put on our brightest smiles. Fairly quickly, we realized there was a slight problem. Mike had been successful hitching in Ireland, but he'd been with a girl. A guy and a girl hitchhiking scores you a lot more points in the "probably not serial killers" department than two guys does, and even after I tried to look as feminine as possible, about 25 minutes worth of steady traffic went by with no luck. 

I don't understand.

Another thing to remember was that it wasn't the 70s anymore. You may remember the spring/summer of 2008 being the time at which gas was the most expensive. People were paying a lot for their "litres" of "petrol" and weren't so quick to offer people free rides.  It probably didn't help that neither of us had shaved in a few days either. 


The cards were stacked against us, but hooray! Somebody finally pulled over! A taxi. We were momentarily excited, but then we realized what it was and thought "oh fuck he's gonna want money" So we ambled over expecting to say "we were actually kind of hoping to get there for free" which would have sounded really dumb, but obviously he knew we were hitchhiking. He was off the clock, and just needed to drive to Sheffield for a new engine, presumably for a different car.

"Almost there fellas."
Our first successful hitchhike! We were pretty excited. After an uneventful ride, we were dropped in the middle of downtown Sheffield. We had another few hours to kill before Mike's friend Ross was available. Well how convenient, there was this weird ass art gallery exhibit right next to the town square. This place, called "The New Galleries" had a map room, a metalworking room, and some other modern art that they actually encouraged us to touch! I wondered how far they'd let us take this.


We met up with Ross and started the trek back to his apartment. I was relieved to get the Rosetta Stone pack off my back again. The three of us figured out the game plan for the night, Ross called his friends, who called their friend, whose name I don't recall, but he had an American friend with him! NO WAY. Her name was Ebony, who was, ironically, white. She was also, as it turns out, stupid and annoying. But after going to something like every bar in Sheffield, the seven of us were all in good spirits. 

Except for when Mike found something surprising in his drink.

We eventually stumbled home. Keeping with my habit of thinking 'FUCK IT I'M FINE BRO I DON'T NEED ANY WATER' I went to bed without drinking nearly enough water. I woke up, predictably, with a terrible hangover, and with the knowledge that the day ahead involved hitchhiking some more, with the heavy ass backpack, from Sheffield to Lancaster.

It was actually about 100 miles. Still, we had our work cut out for us, and our serial killer beards were only getting longer.

Friday, November 19, 2010

I don't understand the internet.

 sharen escobedo 
@ I Am Darnell Robinson!<==and u are funny! "chik-fil-a!!! Can I get a fil-a???" haha lol 

I have no idea who this person is, how they found me, what any of that means, or what the fuck that picture is all about. If you know the answers to any of the questions, I'd love to hear it!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Clowns Aren't Scary

Well, they aren't supposed to be anyway. But do a google image search for "clowns" and look at the first one. Now why the hell is that first? I've always associated clowns with birthday parties and circuses, not death and nightmares. But it seems these days everyone's gut reaction to clowns is "creepy" instead of "jubilant".

Sorry buddy, PS why are you on bread?

Now, coulrophobia, fear of clowns, is different. Some people have some weird ass phobias, that's fine. I don't know the basis of it, maybe you saw a clown kill somebody when you were young? Maybe the first time you got really sick you...saw a clown kill somebody? I don't know, unless one killed somebody I guess the association is just lost on me. But the point is, some people are afraid of heights, some people are afraid of spiders, and some people are afraid of weird shit like clowns, or peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth, or this. Whatever your irrational phobia, there's some deep seated psychological shit happening, and you can't control it.

I'm going to murder your whole family!

But like I said before, it seems the gut reaction to clowns these days for everyone is to be creeped out. How did that happen? I remember a birthday party when I was younger, where this clown did all these awesome juggling tricks, pierced balloons without popping them, and told jokes and blah blah everybody loved it! I can only assume most people's direct experience with clowns involves something of a similar nature, so where did the fear come from? 

Hollywood! Look at their depiction of clowns throughout the years. Pennywise, The Joker, The Jigsaw Puppet, movies like "Fear of Clowns" and "Dead Clowns". All evil! There aren't any movies like "Clown Saves the Day!" or "The Well Respected Clown Chronicles". Hollywood portrays clowns so negatively that it's no wonder most people above the age of six don't really do the clown thing for birthdays anymore. But, there have to be other factors right? Of course!

No seriously though, this guy

John Wayne Gacy was a clown, and whoops! Also a serial killer, and we are a nation of fear. We know that there could be a million clowns out there making the world a better place, but all it takes is one asshole clown to come along and kill people and suddenly every other clown out there must also be a serial killer right? 

It's all explained in here somewhere.

You know, it's kind of like that time that one car crashed so everybody assumed all cars were unsafe and pursued other means of transportation for the rest of their lives. 

I guess America thought that the love of clowns was expendable, so just to be safe, we needed to be cautious of clowns everywhere and not let them near our children. Well need I remind you of Mr. Upset Clown Sandwich?


We're seriously affecting the livelihood of clowns everywhere. What if clowns are on their way out? When some little boy discovers his propensity for juggling and unicycle riding and expresses his insatiable desire to go to clown college, how are you supposed to tell them to abandon their dreams? It doesn't need to be that way. Show clowns some love again, or pretty soon they'll all get sad and find their way into our bread. 

Seriously what the fuck