Random Thoughts. Random Day.

This has been a busy few days. Last night I returned to Sweet Home K3 to attend a concert. I realize that family members will read that and say, "You were back here?" Well, I kinda forgot to mention it. In fact, I have this old friend named Dave. Well Dave went to Lowes to get some stuff last night and ran into my brother. He told Chad that he was in town for a concert of Christian musicians ... and Chad said, "Oh yah, Todd likes those kind of groups."

Turns out, Dave got to the concert and one of the first things he sees? Me.

I got home about 12:30 and couldn't sleep. I was all riled up. I finally got to sleep and woke up early to get some work done because I actually left the office early to come talk to a high school journalism class and warn them about being a journalist. I'm now in the teacher's offices waiting for school to get out and I'm gonna work with the speech team's orignal comedy competitors.

Tomorrow afternoon, I leave for a convention of youth workers. I love this conference. This will be my 4th or 5th one. It's gotten to the point that I am a little burnt out on the conference...but I think I really need the recharge of my batteries. I am looking forward to it. And I will be in North Carolina for the first time. So, that's cool.


Long Live the Platypus

Several weeks ago, I was in an office staff meeting and Designer Alecia brought up a story I wrote for our Christian College Guide. The article was a goofy humor piece comparing animal traits to prospective college students. We titled it "Don't be a Platypus." (My contention in the article is that the platypus seems confused and unorganized.)

The problem, Alecia told me, was that she could find no good photos for purchase of a platypus. She was even dealing directly with the New Zealand park service but still: no luck getting a good, printable platypus photo. Weird. So, being the problem solver I am, I told Alecia I would draw her a picture of a platypus instead. So, I got out my marker and drew this delightful Platypus sketch (at right). You can tell he is confused by the big question mark. He's in a barrel because I don't know what a platypus' body looks like. He is however ready for a formal event.

Alecia thought my drawing was funny and we all had a good laugh. We changed the article title to not be Platypus-specific. And we hung the platypus up on a cubicle wall in the main hallway of our workarea for everyone to see. But then things went bad. That's when Marilyn saw the platypus. Marilyn, our administrative assistant, has a burning hot hatred for the platypus. She insults it anytime she can. She doesn't understand why I drew it. She doesn't like the way it is drawn. She wants it taken down. She doesn't like his tail. She doesn't understand why he's in a barrel or wearing a keen bowtie. She doesn't think a platypus would wear shoes. Hardly a week goes by in which Marilyn does not hurl comments about how much the drawing bothers her or ask why it is still up.

Well, with my artist's pride tattered, I got sweet vindication a couple weeks ago. Former designer Esther came to the office with her 1-year-old Lydia. Lydia loved the platypus. She giggled and pointed at it. She couldn't take her eyes off it. I pointed out to Marilyn how much Lydia liked it.

I don't think the platypus' sudden popularity really impressed Marilyn. Oh well.


Time to Give Thanks

Today, I am starting a new feature that is blatantly stolen from The Gat. As he was turning 30, he did a series of Top 30 lists. I plan to do one a week until The Blessed Occasion of My Birthday. Today's will be holiday-related and be the 30 Things I Am Thankful For Right Now. I decided to leave out the stuff that you expect. I am very thankful for my family, My Intended, My friends and Jesus. Those are givens. And then I just went from there.

30 Things I am Thankful For

30. Pants. Is there anything we take more for granted? Where would we be without pants? Half-naked that's what. I enjoy pants and I am not too proud to admit it. My favorite pants right now are my Hip Jeans. (Although a nice pair of pajama pants are never to be taken for granted.) But of all time, my faves would have to be a black pair of parachute pants that an older cousin passed down to me. I was so cool. About 10 years too late.

29. Drew Brees. Without him, my Fantasy Football season would be shot. His 4-week span of 300-plus yard games (and one topping 500) has carried my team into playoff contention despite losing both starting runningbacks to injury.

28. Rappers. Where else would we get phrases like "I'm like George Foreman, I'm selling so many grills," "I'm not a businessman, I am a business, man," "I am the king of Boogle. There is none higher. I get 11 points for the word Quagmire" and "Difficult takes a day, impossible takes a week?" I'm not sure I'd know what to do with myself. Word to your mother.

27. That I'm not French.

26. Chocolate. Let's just call them as we see them, huh? Favorite foods deserve much thanks.

25. Taffy Apples

24. Peanut Butter

23. My Dreams. I just love that every morning I wake up to the joy of thinking about my internal amusement the night before. Last night, I was playing with action figures. I mean in my dream. Not in real life. Really.

22. Brian Urlacher. Let us all give thanks for 54 and the bounty he brings to us. Amen.

21. That I work with people who engage me in conversation like, "So, is it pronounced giblets or jiblets?"

20. My cool new Sketchers. They are like ultra-hip bowling shoes. They're the perfect combination of cool and comfort. They feel like wearing slippers. Oh yah.

19. Cars. Walking stinks.

18. The times when Blogspot lets me post picture. Because on days like today when it doesn't, I get very angry.

17. Dental Hygiene. Like photos on Blogspot, it's when you don't have it that you realize how wonderful it is. I am thankful for Dr. Sup and the art of flossing.

16. Robots "These are a few of my favorite things..."

15. Pirates

14. Monkeys.

13. Da Bears. The score of this year's Super Bowl? 63 - 3. If Ditka were involved, 103 -0.

12. TV. And not just my current shows like Lost, Heroes and Studio 60 but all the great TV that has has kept me entertained from The Muppet Show to MacGyver to Buffy to Firefly. Thanks for being my friend.

11. Movies. There's a reason I dream about robots and vampires. I watch too many movies. But without the creative outlet of movies, I'd be...well, I'd be about the same but without lots of nerdiness and weird dreams.

10. That my nephew Landon's name has so many nickname opportunities like L-Dubs and Lando.

9. Salt Creek Barbeque. I am so thankful to have this restaurant. If I were Popeye, it'd be my spinach.

8. Joe Crede. And I would like to be thankful for him as a White Sox NEXT year too, Kenny Williams.

7. Tadahito Iguchi. My plan to name my first born (Boy: Tadahito, Girl: Tadahita) after the 2nd baseman has already been shot down. But I'm told we can name the dog Tadahito.

6. Jermaine Dye. Perhaps the coolest baseball player? For sure one of the most underrated. The true Hero of Soxville.

5. Paul Konerko. I cannot hear Metallica's "Harvester of Sorrows" without getting a voluntary rush of excitement that he'll hit a dinger. And then I just realize I am sitting in my car. And it's November. Thank you Paulie. Just for being you.

4. Jim Thome. Is there any greater story than the evildoer who comes to the light? He's like our Anakin. Our apostle Paul. From Indian to Sox, Jim is our champion.

3. Ozzie Guillen. Thank you, Ozzie. Thank you so @#$% much for *&$#%@ *#$&!#.

2. The White Sox. Yah, I've listed several individuals. But this is that I'm thankful for the club as an entity. I think back on how my family and friends have bonded over this team for years and how it's just so great to have a common bond no matter what the ballclub actually does. But of course it is nice when they win, thus...

1. The 2005 White Sox. Yes, it is over. We are not champions any longer. But I shall forever be thankful that I have that joy in my heart. Of course, winning again would be cool too.

Where Have All The Zombies Gone?

After reading yesterday's Dream Log!, Marc came to me with a very important observation. He said, "You were helping Tony Blair. Why weren't you fighting him? What has happened to your dreams?" You know, I have not thought about this, but Marc is right. It's been a long time since I've had a fighting dream.

In my past, my dreams have featured me fighting vampires, robots, zombies, zombie gargoyles, alien meteorite zombies, SD6, The Others, Cubans (the people, not the cigars), friends who've been turned into vampires (sorry, Jill!), Nazis, and more.

But now? No fighting. I had a dream a few months ago where my brother and I were some kind of agents or cops, but we weren't really fighting anyone. And I didn't have my trademark weapons of a wooden bat or fire poker (Sorry again, Jill!). So, something has changed.

As Marc and I talked--and I later thumbed through my dream journal--I began to realize that my fighting dreams tapered off at about the exact time I began my relationship with My Intended. I'm not gonna get all mushy here, but as Marc said, there may be some coorelation here between my dream struggles and my singleness. Perhaps I was wrestling with some intangible demons that in my dreams became literal, tangible demons. This wouldn't be the first time that my state of singleness seeped into my dreams.

So how do I now explain doing eXtreme Sports with Tony Blair? I'm guessing late-night burritos.


Daniel Craig je dobrĂ½. Daniel Craig je Bond.

A big first for me today: I got to see something I wrote translated into another language. So, if you've wanted to read my Casino Royale review while pretending you're in Slovakia, you're finally in luck!

PTOIT Special Feature: Dream Log!
To answer his critics, Tony Blair demonstrated his trust in U.S. President Bush by stepping off an airplane and riding a zipline to the ground. I watched the stunt on CNN and was impressed that he'd do that--but not really getting the connection between Bush and Xtreme sports. Then, I am on top of this huge black house with Blair. We are preparing his second stunt. He asks me to do it with him. So, we jump from the roof and land on this other house. All is fine until the shingles give way and we both begin sliding down the steep roof. Thinking quickly, Blair and I build this anchoring device as we slide. It's basically a metal stick. Blair throws it to me and I stick it in the roof and it catches us both. The metal device has a rope in it that we use to very gently lower ourselves to the ground. Even though it was a blundered stunt, everyone on the ground thinks it went as planned and cheer for us. My Intended's mom approaches. She's the Queen of England. She asks Blair and I which British Royal is our favorite.


See yah, sucka

Neal Cotts was traded from the White Sox yesterday. My sister is not happy at all. The worst part for her is not that he's no longer a Sox. Nor even that he's an arch-rival Cub. But that he apparently won't look as cute in Cubby blue. I, however, am just fine with his departure. The last time we traded with the Cubs we gave up some no-namer and got a young kid named Jon Garland. That worked out OK.

Anywho, I heard the Cotts news from my sister yesterday at noon. I was at a lunch meeting. When I left--and was walking down the street with my boss--I saw I had two voicemails from my sister. Just then, a man ran out of a shop and said, "Chris, Chris. I have a man here who knows you!" This guy was my boss' barber. And an old friend of Chris' just happened to be in the chair.

I followed Chris in to say hello. After the initial greetings, I backed against the wall to check my voicemail while this man told Chris how he was doing. I tried to be polite and still nod and gently smile as the man talked--even with my cell to my ear. In the first message, my sister was despondent about the deal. In the second, she was angry over how they were star-crossed lovers and he'd look less attractive in a Cubs uniform. This made me smile and giggle aloud.

That's when I looked up and realized that the man in the barber chair--who I was kinda pretending to listen to--was talking about his rough battle with cancer. And I'm here giggling.

This really hasn't been a good year for Cotts and I.

Quote of the Week
"Actually, they said they were interested in the house because of the well-kept lawn boy." -Doug V, after I teased him that people were interested in his house only because of the well-kept lawn (by yours truly).


Stream of Thought

10 Things Bugging Me Right Now:

10. Those Jeep commercials where the cars are mistaken for bugs. How did that idea come up in a meeting? "So, I think it would be appealing if our cars were disquised as insects. Everyone likes bugs. Pass the pipe."

9. I've lost Clinton Portis from my fantasy team due to injury. Just when I made a dramatic burst into playoff contention. Drat.

8. This head cold.

7. The Ten Commandments: The Musical. Actually, it's not really bugging me. But I wanted to work it in today. We got this mailed to us at work. I assumed it was somekind of parody or publicity stunt. But, no. It's real. It seems like something they'd do on The Simpsons. After all, they did Planet of the Apes: The Musical.

6. People who park here at work in spots that are not parking spots. Some people like to say I am a Parking Nazi, but I get here early and get a good spot. But then, people who arrive late for work get equally good spots by cheating and parking in places where there are no lines--or are actually marked as no parking. It's the justice of it all. We have rules and guidelines for a reason and you just can't park all willy-nilly. Today, it's parking wherever you want, tomorrow it's martial law.

5. That ad on the ChristianityToday.com site with a lawnchair-turned-wheelchair. It's a great ministry, it just looks funny.

4. This guy I met today who's fingernails were all well-trimmed except for both of his pinkies. Those nails were about an inch long. What's up with that? Is he a cage fighter?

3. That I can't come up with 10 real things that bug me. That must mean that things are going pretty welll.

2. The fact that people are starving in Africa, slavery still exists, children are kidnapped into the sex industry and I am sitting here complaining about bug-cars and parking spaces.

1. Those Bug-Jeeps again. If I wanted a car that looked like a bug, I'd look for a big green Praying Mantis one. Because it'd be scary.


I Thought They Smelled Bad on the Outside

Since everyone has been having so much fun with that lawnmower pic, I thought I'd jump in the game too. When Marc first did the ostrich photo, I'd been wanting to Photoshop myself onto a Tauntaun. (Yes, I am that big of a geek.) However, my laziness got the best of me until The Gat revived my enthusiasm for the idea by mentioning it in a comment.

My favorite part of this image is how ill-prepared I am for the elements. I may freeze before I reach the first marker, but I am so happy about it.

PTOIT Quotes of the Week
"Protein is good in your stomach, not on your mail." -LaTonya about why she wouldn't take her stack of mail while eating a hard-boiled egg.

"Thanks to a diet of nutritious sausage, Billy Dee Williams is ageless." An article on scifi.com.

*Special Apologies to Holly who had the best quote of the week last week and was snubbed from PTOIT inclusion. At the Sycamore Pumpkin Fest parade, Holly saw a Shriner in a mini-Pink Cadillac go-kart and made reference to sales promotions for Mary Kay ladies. It was wonderful...


I'm Too Sexy For The Focus

That's right, everyone. My career as a model is BOOMING. I've made my second appearance in Today's Christian in two issues. This time, you can almost make out my face! And I'm featured with Friend Kibibi. Having us both in the same photo is risky. That's just a lot of good looking for one page.

Speaking of photos, I need to build some suspense about tomorrow's blog post. Be sure to come back because we have the latest entry in the "Todd Riding Stuff" series.

Pop Culture Prophet
One thing that Former Boss Randy (Hey, Rando!) and I used to joke about was me being a Pop Culture Prophet. It came about because I kept having these nerdy dreams about movies and TV that would come true. I predicted Survivor winners more than once in my dreams. And before every Star Wars prequel came out, I'd have a dream about seeing it early. My reaction to the movies in these dreams was always an indicator of the movie's quality: The first two being disappointing and the third awesome.

My Pop Culture Prophet-ness continues.

From Putting the Odd in Todd (PTOIT) on May 5, 2006:

"I wanted to put this quote up on my blog so that when Britney and Kevin Federline divorce in 6 months I can act like I knew it. Kevin told Spin magazine, 'I ain't getting no divorce. I don't believe in that. Once you get married, you're in it for the fight.' Good luck, man."

I was off by two days. Two Days.

But you know, I don't really want to be all proud and snarky about it. It's just sad.

Day of Decision 2006

I wasn't going to vote yesterday. The political just doesn't rev me up all that much. But, I finally decided at the end of the day to go for it. I crammed my head with campaign info and did my part. As I was driving over to the polling place I thought that it'd be a lot easier if the U.S. did political elections like Dancing with the Stars or American Idol. If we could sit in our living rooms and just text in some votes, I bet voter turn-out would be higher. And Mario Lopez would be governor.

I also thought that I'd get into politics much more if there was a Fantasy Politics league. You could draft candidates and get points based on votes and such. Good times. In fact, I'd get much more involved in anything if it was put into a Fantasy Football-like format.

At my polling place yesterday, I got caught in some kind of electronic vs. paper debate between polling officials. I got my little card from this eldery polling official. She told me to walk to the end of the table to get my paper ballot. I guess I misunderstood what the woman meant. I walked to the end of the table but there were no ballots there--Just a younger woman who said, "Did you want to vote electronically?"

I said, "Sure, I don't care. Whatever."

And then, The Eldery Woman said, "Talk to the other lady to get your paper ballot."

Whenever I am doing something official--like voting--I just assume that those in charge know what they are talking about. I just assume there is a right way to do it and they will instruct me how. So, I decided that I must have to vote with the paper ballot for some reason. So, I say, "Oh, OK. I guess I will use the paper ballot."

At that point, the Young Woman says, "You can vote electronically. You wanted to do that?"

I wasn't sure really what was going on. I still really don't understand why I was being asked to chose. Or really what I was choosing between. But what resulted was about 8 election officials all campaigning for me to vote one way or the other--paper or electronically.

Honestly, I could care less how I voted. So, I kinda just started twitching and turning back and forth between the stack of paper ballots and the electronic booth. An Old Crabby Polling Official yelled, "Just make up your mind!"

On the verge of tears, I grabbed a paper ballot and hid in the little booth. As I was voting, I heard the Young Woman say, "I guess I'll just take down the electronic booth. No one is using it." Right then, a woman said she'd vote with it and everyone was very happy. Except the Pro-Paper side.


The Twinkie Factor

I am happy to announce that I did not die in my box.

In fact, I am now self-proclaiming myself as an expert of sleeping in cold weather in cardboard. (I would never claim to be THE leading expert because it's such a competitive field.) My box was nothing short of toasty. I went inside the box about midnight. I fell asleep in about ten minutes and slept straight through until 6:30. Not only was I warm, but I was quite cozy.

The box's strength was "The Twinkie Factor," as I like to call it. The box was wide but shallow. I taped pink home insulation to the inside walls. I slid my couch cushions inside. And then on either side of the cushions, I filled in the gaps with blankets. I slid into my sleeping bag on top of the cushions and locked the door with a screw and bolt. I then put a rolled-up sheet against the door. So basically, the box was stuffed with warm blankets and cushions--with me shoved into the middle. I was the twinkie's cream filling: Pasty, sweet and delightful. And very, very warm.

No, I couldn't move much in my Twinkie box. And when I woke Sunday morning, I slithered out much I was being born. But that's a small price to pay for staying warm in 35 degree weather.

(October 10, 2006)
I was running a marathon--inside a high school while it was in session. There were a lot of people in the halls and it made it difficult. At the rest stop in the cafeteria, I got a small cup of gatorade. But then, I couldn't figure out where the route was because there were so many hallways leaving the cafeteria and so much traffic. Finally, I just ran outside and around the building to find where I needed to be. When the marathon was over, I went to Cornerstone. And Michael Jackson was performing. I knew it was him by the white glove.


Putting Todd in a Box

Tomorrow night, I will be sleeping in a cardboard box. Outside. In the cold.

DuPage County is lucky enough to have an organization called Bridge Communities that helps homeless people get not just handouts but a means to climb out of their struggle. They get financial counseling, inroads to jobs, etc. Eventually, they are on their own feet again and even become homeowners. It's a neat program. Every year, Bridge's big fund and awareness drive is Sleepout for the Homeless. Our church participates. Three years ago, the youth group boys pointed out that the homeless do not have tents to sleep out in. And so, our tradition of sleeping in boxes was born.

I built my box last night. It's not quite done yet, but I am proud of it. It has a door with a seal and a pulley system that closes it tightly. It will have insulated walls (oh yah!). And a padded floor (couch cushions). I also plan on adding plastic to keep the dew from seeping in. This is serious business.

The first year we did this, I woke up in the middle of the night freezing. I was in one of those cocoon sleeping bags where you are supposed to sleep in a t-shirt and boxers because the bag uses your own body heat to warm you. Well, I don't like that strategy. I'd rather have lots and lots of blankets and clothes.

Laying in the box that night in just my underwear caused some inner-dialogue that I'm both amused by and ashamed of.

It was about 3 in the morning. It was freezing. I was in a box. And I knew I had youth group kids in boxes all around me. I thought:

"How cold can you get before you die? At what point does the human heart just stop? Could one of my kids be dead? They might be dying. I should go check. Wait. I'm in my underwear. I'd have to run out there in just a shirt and shorts. Or get dressed. It'd take awhile to get dressed. And be cold. I could stay here. I am sure they are fine. They're young. Their hearts are strong. I'll just stay here."

"Seventy percent of the world is covered by ocean. The other 30 percent is covered by the BEARS defense." -My sister.

"Am I a bad person if I don't love Lucy?" -Camerin, after watching an episode of I Love Lucy.

"Look at you all fuzzy! You look like a bear." -Fleener to a co-worker in a big sweater.

"I asked Mom how Landon's first Halloween was going and she said, 'He's the cutest trick-or-treater ever.' I asked Chad and he said, 'He won't stop screaming and he peed his pumpkin outfit.' " -My sister.

"It's only cool to pee in your pumpkin outfit when you're an infant. Now, not as cool." -My sister.

"Wait a minute. Whoa, there it was. I brought my sexy back. Oh. It's gone again." -Fleener



The Chicago Film Critics Association has released it's list of the 100 Scariest Movies of All Time. These aren't necessarily the best horror movies of all time-- but the films that have scared us the most. I got to vote for the list. So, I thought I'd share what I voted for and why:

1. The Shining - "I made the mistake of renting this for the first time while I was alone late at night on Halloween. With the lights off. I wigged myself out so much, I had to pause it and take a breather. When I restarted it, I was getting into it again when Gene and Jeff came home and scared the crap out of me. This movie didn't need special effects or neat camera tricks to scare you. Jack is scary enough."

2. The Blair Witch Project - "I saw it at Piper's Alley in Chicago. If you've never been there, one wall of the entrance hallway is covered in plastered handprints. As I was leaving, I saw the handprints and was freaked out. Blair Witch ends with the luckless college students trapped in a house covered with kids' handprints all over the walls. Eerie stuff. That final scene of the three characters in the basement has stayed with me ever since I first saw it. The subtle-touch and realistic terror stuck with me."

3. Session 9 - "I make groups of friends watch this one with me because it's just so eerie and haunting. What I love the most about it is that you don't even realize it is a scary movie until you are deep within the frightening story. It doesn't even hint at being scary for like 40 minutes. And then when it gets eerie, it goes all the way until you feel almost claustrophobic. Atmoshphere in a film is what creeps me out the most in movies--and accounts for why Blair Witch, Session 9, The Others, Fraility and many of the other movies that made my Top 25."

4. 28 Days Later - "Unlike many slick new horror films, the shooting style and modern effects are used effectively to make this gritty and raw film feel more ferocious. The movie drops you into a meat grinder in the first few minutes--and then things get worse. You can't help but feel the terror the characters feel."

5. Scream -"The scariest theater experience I've had. I was so tense, my stomach hurt. I kept looking behind me to make sure I wasn't going to get stabbed through the chair."

6. The Exorcism of Emily Rose - "The second scariest theater experience I've had. I was the only one in the theater and I literally got up at one point to walk around because I was so freaked out thinking about demons in the theatre. The reality of supernatural evil is what really got me while watching this one. This is a great but underappreciated film."

7. The Sixth Sense - "The red tent scene still gets me. And whenever I am in my condo brushing my teeth, I worry about someone passing behind me. So I keep the bathroom door closed."

8. Night of the Living Dead - "I have a thing with zombies. And I think the black-and-white rawness of this film makes it that much scarier. I think the slow-lurking of zombies (like Michael Myers and robots--see #10 and #21) is very scary."

9. The Silence of the Lambs - "That serial killer was one of the scariest dudes ever: 'Put the lotion in the basket!' And then, there's that infamous infared scene. Yowzers."

10. Halloween - "There's not much scarier in film than Michael Myers. Slowly. But. Constantly. Pursuing. You. In. The. Dark."

11. The Others
12. Fraility
13. Alien
14. The Evil Dead
15. Stir of Echoes
16. Duel
17. Child's Play
18. Psycho (the original)
19. The Omen (the original)
20. The Exorcist
21. The Terminator
22. Flatliners
23. Jacob's Ladder
24. Stephen King's It
25. The Stepford Wives (the original)