Ficus Trees and Whale Watching

So, I have this ficus tree. And when I first bought it, his health wasn't so good. But now, thanks to not watering him as much and putting him outside, he is just a speciman of perfect health and greenery. But one day I thought, "I should look up how to care for a ficus." They are a tempermental plant. Well, I found this advertising site. The reason I bring it up is because of how passionate this man is about ficus. My favorite part is the little kicker at the top that reads, "Ticked Off Ficus Grower Gets EVEN!"

I like my ficus and everything, but other than plywood I cannot think of anything less likely to make someone so passionate.

I saw this news story the other day: Researchers in Japan have figured out why birthrates in Japan are so low. "Japanese people simply aren't having sex," said the Japan Family Planning Association. Well, the funny thing to me is not the article--but the photo that Yahoo News posted with it here. Seriously, check it out: Apparently, the Japanese are not having sex because they are too busy at the aquarium? Whale watching is getting in the way of romance? Whaaa? But hey, a headline at Christianity Today this week assures us that if the Japanese aren't getting busy, someone is.

Speaking of funny headlines, this one isn't. You're just trying too hard, E! News. And to think I trust you for my celebrity dish.

Off to the right you will see a new link to the "TeDiuM Podcast." This is a 55-minute audio file of me, Doug V. and Marc talking. Ya, 55 minutes of us talking. You are already stoked aren't you? Well, this is our first attempt at a podcast and we think it's fun--it's like a little talk radio show. We had some mic issues so there are rough spots but we look forward to improving on that in future episodes. Yes, there will be more. Whether you like it or not.

PTOIT Special Feature: Quotes of the Week

"What's wrong? Are you doing OK? Do you need to talk?" --Doug F., after I told him I was listening to Dashboard Confessional.

"I don't like the Cubs, but I really like tongs." --My friend Holly, logically explaining why her allegience is now with the North Siders. It all has to do with a bad experience at Comiskey and people using their fingers to grab hot dogs.

"Does that man sell toys?" --Doug F's son after seeing my office.

"Parents are hiding their kids behind their legs, pointing at me and whispering, 'That's the guy.'" --Ozzie Guillen



I have an admission to make. I have Ga-dunk-ga-dunkphobia.

You see, I am afraid of Missy Elliot. I'm not sure when it began, but for the last several years I have found myself really scared of her. I get the shivers when I hear her on the radio. When I see her videos, I kinda hide behind my hands so she won't see me. I just have this irrational fear that she's coming after me.

I realize that the real Missy may be really very charming, but her public persona creeps me out. One part of it could be that I know she could kick my butt. But more than that, what unsettles me is how forcefully sexual she is. Have you ever read her lyrics? Here's an example:
Can I put my booty booty up in your spaghetti?
Yikes. How do you answer that question? That's just not polite conversation. But seriously, many hip hoppers use language like that--or worse. And unfortunately it is somehow more culturally accepted from men and not women. But that's not really where my phobia comes from. Instead, it is how militant and threatening Miss Demeanor is in her sexuality. I feel uneasy and threatened. It's as if she's not just singing about sex, but instead threatening to come after me. At least she asked about my spaghetti. She doesn't always. Take this lyric for example:
Pretty boy here I come/On the count of three/ Me and you gonna get romantically
That sounds like a threat. I have no say in this? No, Miss Demeanor is in the house and she is in charge. Here's another thinly veiled and forceful threat:

Keep your eyes on my bum-bum-bum-bum-bum.

Or else what? What will the bum-bum-bum-bum-bum do if I do not carefully watch it? This is what I am afraid of. I don't know exactly what the bum-bum-bum-bum-bum is capable of if left unsupervised. I kinda feel like a suprise guerilla attack of the bum-bum-bum-bum-bum could happen at any time. "Watch for it, " Missy threatens. "It's coming for you." In another song, she suggests that the bum-bum-bum-bum-bum will "go boom." And that is all the more frightening. I don't want anything to go boom.

Missy elevates the negative emotions by being demeaning and challenging. She makes me feel like less of a man by questioning whether I could match up with her in lines like:
Think you can handle this ga-dunk ga-dunk dunk?
Since I don't even know what a "ga-dunk ga-dunk dunk" is, I feel inadequete and again threatened. I am not sure I could handle it. As I look at the facts, maybe this is no phobia. Maybe I am right to be wary. Perhaps I am the only one truly taking Missy's warnings about the bum-bum-bum-bum seriously. But I will be watching and waiting for the attack--because as she says, "I be creeping and creeping."


Grubby Thomas Edison

Tuesday Special Feature: Fun with Google

Today's Search Terms: "Phonograph" and "War"

The Results:

Photo #1: This is apparently Thomas Edison. Well, at least that's what the file name said. He looks awfully grubby. I guess it makes sense that a great inventor wouldn't always be dressed up and snappy though. I guess the reason I find it odd is that I am used to seeing all those recreations of history where everyone from the past is wearing nice suits and sharp hats while doing anything--even inventing. But hey, Thomas Edison can be grubby.

Photo #2: Today's feature is quickly becoming a history lesson. Serves me right for not having either search term related to monkeys. Well, this picture is hard to make out but it is of soliders in the trenches listening to a phonograph. I like to imagine they are listening to Kanye West.

Photo #3: The caption points out that this is a posed photo of Germans opening Christmas gifts. They don't look very happy. But maybe that's because all they got were Kaiser Helmets.

Photo #4: This is the kind of historical photo I am used to! See how snappy everyone looks? That man on the left is awfully keen. Not grubby at all. This is how I imagine the phonograph being invented. Either that, or they are trying to ease drop across the river. And check out those things under the table. Was Edison toying with time travel? Robots?


Keep the Change

There is a reason why I keep a ton of change in my car. Last night at the supermarket, my milk and soda was $4. But I only had $2. And they don't let you pay with debit unless it's over $5. And no credit unless over $10. So, I was screwed. The milk alone was over my $2. So, I asked them to hold it and I checked the truck. Whew. Change galore. I almost added items just to show that I could.

I played perhaps the best game of Ultimate Frisbee of my life last night. (Of course it'd be about a mediocre game for anyone athletic.) As per my style, I made lots of diving catches. That's mainly because I lose balance and fall over a lot. But it look more exciting. I had grass in my underwear. That's when you know you played hard.

And then, I was so tired I laid on my couch all night watching the Sox-Cardinals pitching duel. Good game. I was kinda hoping that after Jermaine Dye reached on that error that AJ could have gotten him in on a sac fly. Then, we could have won even if the opposing pitcher got a no-hitter. That would have been funny. Instead, we got one hit--a bomb by Mr. Incredible, Jim Thome.

I thought I'd share something today. I cleaned out my old bedroom's closet back home at Easter. I've slowly been going through all the old papers and baseball cards. Last night, I found a bunch of old stories a young Todd wrote. First off, they are bad. Second, they are really dark and hopeless. This really got me. I am not sure what that is all about at all. To let you see what I mean, here's a short story I wrote:

The Nine Planets

Once there were nine small spherical shapes grouped together in a tiny cluster. Each was inhabited by tiny lifeforms who took care of their domain and really only concerned themselves with their own lives. Though they all knew of the other eight planets, they knew not of the creatures who lived there. Instead, they assumed they were the only ones who mattered. Every day, the entities on each planet wondered, "Who are we? Why are we here? Where is here?"

Until one day, a giant white mass entered their vicinity, traveling faster and faster. One after another, the planets were hit by the white mass. The impact sent the planets flying in different directions. One after another, the small planets fell into six tremendous blackholes.

As all this happened, there was one brief moment when all the lifeforms realized the answers to their questions. For that brief second, they all came to the realization that they were just balls on a pool table in an intergalactic bar somewhere.
I honestly am not sure where this lack of meaning and existential edge came from. If it were just this one story I'd be like, "Whatever." But I was really caught up in this idea of just hopeless abandon and meaninglessness. Maybe I was reading some dark stuff. I did like Camus and have always been drawn to darker movies where things don't end nicely. Or maybe my faith just wasn't making sense to me yet and so I didn't get the hope and menaing that provides into a life.

But whatever the case, we can all agree that short story is pretty bad.

Quotes of the Week

"Bake from scratch? Who wrote this list? There's also apparently a bird house and dancing involved.. I don't want any of this before I go to heaven." - Doug F. reading a magazine's list of "The 10 Things to do Before Going to Heaven."

"Whenever AJ has doubt, he just runs to first in hopes they will let him stay." -John Miller on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball.


I am man

I woke up this morning, looked out the window and my first rational thought of the day was, "Dang it is raining. I really want to play softball tonight." That's when you know you are still 12.

Oh, I want to direct people over to Marc's blog to see our latest prank. (No, it is not the 30-foot Virgin Mary. Scroll past that...) This time it was on a girl who has nothing to do with our prank wars. We just want everyone to know they are not safe.

I finished an article last night for Christian Single magazine. It was a really enjoyable assignment and I'm actually kinda proud of it. The topic was communication gaffs that occur in realtionships because men and women talk different languages: men analyzing while women are sympathizing; men living in the moment when women are looking big picture; men being direct while women infer; and men talking generally while women process literally.

My research and interviewing folks for the article also helped me learn some things about the way I communicate. It also made situations in my past suddenly make more sense. Oh, that's why she reacted that way, I thought.

For instance, when I was in college I was starting to see this girl. I told her that I'd call her Friday afternoon. Well, on Friday I called at 5:30. She was very cold and distant. I found out later, through a friend, that she was upset because I called Friday NIGHT, not afternoon. Now, I still maintain that 5:30 is the afternoon, or maybe early evening. But doing this article, I saw that women are more literal than most guys. Hence the issue.

I had fun with this article because they wanted a light approach and a "dating dictionary" of phrases and what they mean to both a man or woman. Here's an example:

Fine /fīn / When asked about their day, women mean: “Things are well. I have stories to illustrate. I cannot wait to tell you them and connect.” Men mean: “I have nothing of note to report."

I will call you /ī wil kal yü/ Women mean: “I will call you. Maybe before I even get home.” Men mean: “I might call you. But the game’s on now. Perhaps in several days or weeks.”

Speaking of articles, I've updated the links at the right. I mainly did this because Randy found what has in the last 3 hours become my favorite blog. When I used to work for Randy, we'd often critique bad comics for their complete idiocy. And this guy went a step farther and created a blog out of it. Brilliant!

You know, I miss making fun of Mutts so much, we may have hit on to a new weekly feature here at PTOIT!



Today was our office's Quarterly Luncheon. They celebrated my fifth year anniversary at CTi. I can't believe I've been here for 5 years. I remember my first luncheon and seeing people being honored for five years and thinking, "Dang, they must be like lifers here." Well, now I am one of those old grisly vets.

Part of being honored at these events is that you stand up front of everyone (we have about 160 employees) and your supervisor talks about you. I could not believe I was so nervous about this. I am an extrovert. I love attention. And I've always done plays and talks and stuff. I rarely get nervous. But today was the first time in a long time that my stomach was funny because of getting in front of people. I finally figured out that it wasn't being in front of people, it was being in front of people and being praised. Sure, I could have gotten up there and done the talking. Or even put on a little puppet show. No problem. But I didn't like the idea of standing in front of people and hearing nice things said about me.

Val was also honored today and I told her that I almost brought my GameBoy to play while my boss was talking so I had something to do. But I didn't. Instead I listened while Chris read "7 Reasons Why Todd is Cool."

Number one is "his high level of huggability." After this, I got to hug both Chris and a major bigwig in front of everyone. It was good times. Chris didn't explain it today to the staff, but there is a story here. The story is that CTi is looking for a new CEO and Chris asked our staff one day for a trait that we would want in our new leader. I e-mailed back one word: "Huggability."

So my thinking is that maybe I am in line to be the new CEO now?


Do You Identify With Platypus?

PTOIT Quotes of the Week

"It's darn near impossible to take me out of my focus. No earthly mortal can do it. No animal." -Shaq.

"I don't think a lot of people will identify with the word platypus in a headline." --Marilyn, our magazine's editorial administrator during a real headline session for the magazine. Yes, this is the kind of hard decisions we have to make.

"You can buy your coffin here." -Marc, pointing out the amazing selection of Cost-Co.

"Uh oh. That guy is wearing real baseball pants. This does not bode well." -Charissa, scouting out the other team at our softball game.

"This team has three Testas. That's a lot of Testas." -Charissa again, checking out the jerseys of the other team.


The Search is Back On!

Monkey Search 2006: CASE REOPENED!

Status: Today on the comments board, we got an anonymous tip. Someone suggested doing a "Fun with Google" exercise by entering the search terms "Fez" and "Monkey" into Google Images to see if it would produce any leads. Well, because the search for my little pencil-topper monkey was closed, I thought it would be best to just let sleeping dogs lie. But, curiousity got the better of me. And here is what we found:

Photo #1: Nice. It could be a painting done of Red Fez Monkey. But as far as I know, he was not a martini drinker.

Photo #2: Well, again not him but he did always like dinosaurs. And who doesn't love monkeys and dinosaurs together? Oh that's right, girls don't (see Editor's note*).

Photo #3: What a good little monkey! But he is not plastic. Or a pencil topper.

Photo #4: Hee hee. Monkey acting like a person! haha.

Photo #5: Red Fez, is that you?

Photo #6: Oh my Goodness! It is him! It's Red Fez Monkey! This is photographic evidence that he is still out there! This photo was found on this site (where you can also get your own little happy buddha!). So, I will look into these monkey slave traders and see how they got Red Fez and where they sold him! The search is on!

*Editor's Note:
As the Monkey Search resumes, let me take this opportunity to talk about monkeys. It has become apparent to me that this blog is very much monkey focused right now. And to me, that is a little slice of heaven. But I think I am perhaps turning off half of the readership out there. You see, I've discovered that females don't get monkeys. They don't understand the fundamental obsession men have with them. But it is just genetic.

Last night, Emily mentioned going home to watch King Kong. I mentioned that the best part of this film is by far the Monkey vs. Dinosaur fight. I could watch it for hours. But The Ladyfriend said, "No, that was the most boring part of the movie. The best part is when she's sitting in his hand and they understand each other..." (At this point there was a lot of mushy girl talk about romance and sunsets and lovey dovey stuff but I tuned that out and thought about monkeys riding bicycles and smoking pipes).

I think the fact that The Ladyfriend only enjoyed the romance shows the chief difference between men and women: To men, Monkeys are just funny or cool. There's no sweet, romantic use for them. They are either great comedy or neat to see hit stuff with sticks. But maybe this isn't just with monkeys. I guess this kind of goes with anything: Men and women see the same thing, but yet see completely different things.


Day by Day by Day

Today, I thought I would offer tidbits from each day of my weekend:

Friday: After seeing Brian Anderson's amazing catch live at the Sox game, I am more adamant than ever that The Greatest American Hero stays in the big leagues. It was a great game to be at and the crowd's reaction to that catch was awesome. I don't care if his bat hasn't caught on yet. His fielding saves us runs. Without him that night, Cleveland plates two and we lose. Those runs subtracted are just as good as runs added. And then last night, he did his best to ignite the comeback. (And got two hits!) I am glad Ozzie has chosen to stick with the kid.

Saturday: The Ladyfriend and I went to one of her cousin's wedding. At the reception, I was sitting down at our table when I noticed that one of the glass candle holders in front of the Father of the Ladyfriend (FotLF) was tipped on it's side. The wick was out but wax was spilt across the table. I gave a look to the FotLF. He said, "I tried to move it. But it's hot. I burnt my finger."

I responded: "Do you want me to get some ice for you?"

He didn't answer my question but instead turned to The Ladyfriend, who was talking to someone else and oblivious of the candle incident.

He said to her, "Can I see your beer?" Unquestioningly, she held it out to him and without any warning, he just stuck his finger in it. And after about 5 seconds said, "There, that's better" and handed the beer back to her.

I then went to get her another beer.

Sunday: As we were driving home from the wedding weekend with the Sister of the Ladyfriend (SotLF), she decided to get a carwash. She rolled down her window, paid for the wash and began to pull into the Carwash. The Ladyfriend says, "You'd better roll up your window."

SotLF snaps back, "I will, Bossy."

Right then--and I mean RIGHT then--a spurt of water shoots out of the sides of the carwash and right into her window. Not only was it perfect timing, but I have never seen a surprise, guerilla water squirt in a carwash. We weren't even stopped yet. So I decided that we must have been on PUNK'd.

PTOIT Special Feature: Dream Log!

Date: May 26, 2006

I am at Wrigley Field for a Sox-Cubs game and Mark Buehrle pitches a perfect game. (I don't include this here because it was a very detailed dream--but instead only because I think I may be a Baseball Prophet and I want public witnesses when this does happen next month.)


Sox vs.Tigers

Well, The White Sox have taken 2 of 3 at home against the Tigers. That's good. But this series got me thinking a lot about this AL Central race. I've heard a few people this week (well, before we won 2 of 3) continue talk of Detroit being a magical team of destiny this season. I am still skeptical. I honestly am not sure that the Sox will fare better from here on out or are themselves a "team of destiny" again, but there is one area where Tiger fans have to be worried. It also points to the areas that will decide this whole Battle Royale.

30 of Detriot's 38 wins have come against below .500 teams. Now, that sounds worse than it is really because there's only six teams in the American league above .500. And only 14 in baseball overall. And Detroit has only played 20 games against above .500 opponents vs. 44 against the below .500-ers.

While Detroit (and the Sox too) are relatively untested when it comes to playing good teams, The Tigers have not fared well against above .500 teams so far. Against the Yankees, Red Sox and White Sox, they are 3-10. Against all the above .500 teams they've played (NY, Boston, CWS, Texas and Cinncinatti) they are 8-12.

Meanwhile, the Sox have only played 13 games against above .500 teams and are 9-4. So they have the edge there, but have not played New York or Boston. And they are not doing as well as Detorit against the must-beat teams.

So, there's two big factors to watch in the win-loses here. One, How will both teams do as they both enter Junes and Julys versus the big dogs? Detorit has to prove they can beat teams of their same caliber or better. And Chicago has to keep their above .500 ways agaisnt above .500 teams when they get a shot at teams better than just Texas, Detroit and Toronto. Besides, the only reason, the Sox are above .500 against these teams is because they've beat the Tigers 5 out of 6.

And two, how will they both continue to play agaisnt the sub-par teams? The White Sox have got to consistently beat the below .500 teams. Detroit is doing this well and could ride that to the Division championship. Because there are more teams in the American league under .500, a team could just beat up on them, go .500 (or even less) against the better teams and coast to the playoffs. The Sox are 27-17 against the lower teams (compared to Detroit's 30-11). They've lost 3 of 9 to KC, 2 of 3 to the Devil Rays, and 6 of 9 to Cleveland. Detroit, on the other hand, is 8-0 against the Royals. So, if they keep doing what a winner should--beating the cruddy teams, the Sox may be in trouble.

So, I am waiting to see Detroit beat good teams. And I am hoping, wishing and waiting for the Sox to start playing consistent ball against the teams they should be beating.

And the Sox and Tigers still play 13 more times. If the Sox keep their average agaisnt the Tigs, that will surely help...

PTOIT Quotes of the Week:

"I do more to win people to The Classic Crime than I do for Christ. That's probably a problem." -Charissa, about evangelizing her favorite band.

"You can tell me whatever you want about facial hair, but when it is 90 degrees out, that just doesn't feel good." --Ed Farmer, radio broadcaster for the Chicago White Sox.

"Hey Canadian Terrorists, you hate Canada? That's like saying you hate toast." - Jon Stewart, in a Daily Show story about 14 terrorists arrested for threats against Canada. Eh.

"Finding Zarqawi's replacement will be tough. You have to hate the West and have management skills. You have to possess people skills--but hate people." - Daily Show correspondent Samantha Bee about the HR crisis following the assassination of terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.


CSI: My Office

Monkey Search 2006: Day 29

Status Report: Few people know that there's a 29-day cutoff to searches in missing monkey cases. But there is. 29 days ago, the Red Fez Monkey disappeared from his little boat on my desk. And there's been no sign of him since despite tireless search efforts.

Because of the lack of resolution, the police have closed the books on this case. But to try an make since of this mess, I needed to press a little further. And I now have an exclusive. On the right is a crime scene photo I took from the police file, when I was signing the Closed Case documents. While it doesn't solve everything, it does offer some clues.

You can see here how close the boat is to the garbage can. I am fearing that Red Fez Monkey either took his own life by diving into the garbage or was pushed (by the stormtrooper?).

Or maybe he fell in by accident.

Action Steps: I could hire an outside investigator to continue Monkey Search 2006, but honestly, it is just time to move on.

Good bye, Red Fez Monkey.


That's the Way to Fund Raise

At youth group on Sunday, our leader Jen told us all that our pastor is very excited about the youth putting on a Haunted House in our new basement next fall as a fund raiser and outreach. The kids were getting really excited. But I wanted to ask if the other counselors felt there'd be flak from more conservative attendees of the church. So in front of all the kids, I began talking: "So, do you think there will be any reservations from older people about holding a..."

At this point of talking, I was still forming the question in my mind. I thought about saying "House of Horrors" instead of "Haunted House." And then, for some reason, "Horror House" seemed like a good idea. What people heard was this:

"So, do you think there will be any reservations from older people about holding a Whore House in the church basement?"

After the laughing subsided, it was decided that, yes, there would probably be reservations.