Ain't this a kick in the snowballs

It's times like this I'm glad I'm from Idaho.

I bleed ice and I crap snowballs.

For those of you who don't live in the greater Salt Lake area, we've recently been able to take part in several storms, each of which has left a layer of white on our fair town like greasy frosting heaped on a crappy grocery store cake.

Through a combination of geographic features, wind patterns and God's sense of humor, about half of this snow has ended up square in the middle of my driveway.

Which really I don't mind for the most part. Shoveling snow has pretty much always been a part of my life so I'm pretty used to it. It gives me a good chance to think about what I want to write (which apparently was about shoveling snow).

Plus it's a really good work out. I don't get much physical activity these days. Walking to to work, basic house maintenance and running up and down the stupid stairs looking for my glasses are pretty much the extent of it.

Throw shoveling pounds of wet snow into that equations and I'm getting freakin' buff. Between my recent return to playing Street Fighter more than sleeping and my newly discover biceps, I really want to punch something.

But then I realized that everyone around me has one of the three things I won't hit someone in possession of (glasses, boobs or the ability to fire me) or was in church and I don't fight in church anymore so I'm kinda out of luck.

Although I have been saying some very disparaging remarks about acappella singers hope to elicit some sort of a response. So far those harmonizing, panty-waists haven't have the crotch rocks to respond to my challenges.

Anyways, where was I? Oh yeah, in my drive way up to my knees in god-snot.

Like I said, I've been clearing driveways since I wore Duck Tales underwear (or to be more accurate, started wearing Duck Tales underwear, since that's not a seven year span), so I've gotten pretty good at it.

Now if you had asked me a year ago if I was good at shoveling snow, I would have thought that my 5th grade teacher was wrong and that there was such and thing as a stupid question and you had just asked it.

I considered shoveling snow to be like breathing, or going to the bathroom or drawing swiss cheese, anyone could do it.

It turns out however, that there is a skill to shoveling your drive way, and yes, I'm really stinkin' good at it.

Because of the recent kidney stone in the housing market I've recently been able to move into a neighborhood way nicer than I really deserve. This new place is way different from anywhere I've lived in that no one has been shot yet and no one else actually shovels there own driveway.

Oh sure, their drive ways are clear of , but they didn't really earn it. They all cheated really, using snow blowers, or ATVs with plows on the front of them, or their kids.

I don't have any of theses luxuries.

All I have is a metal snow shovel, one glove, a back that could give out at any moment and the knowledge that I truly am more manly than anyone else on my freaking block.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a nice bubble bath waiting to soak my muscles.

Steve Shinney is also way better than his neighbors at other manly activities like growing beards, cooking meat with fire and killing bears with cricket bats. You can request any of these services in the comments section below.

Its a hardware thing todo

I'd like to say that the reason I haven't written more than “buy chicken” on the back of my hand is I've been too busy jumping my jet ski over a pit of flaming rhinos.

That, unfortunately, would be a lie.

In truth however, there are only two things that have been keeping me from writing like I should: I have a house, and I have Street Fighter.

The second of these has been a blast from the past the likes of which I have seen since found that box of action figures on my way to the fireworks stand. More on that later though.

The former however, has been a mixed blessing. I'm thrilled to have a place of my own. I'm very excited to be building equity (although I'm going to be honest here, I'm only exicited because I like to build things. It reminds me of Legos, I'm not ever sure what equity really is, but I'm stoked to build the crap out of some).

One the other hand, there are a lot of down sides to owning a home. Like the fact that I'm poor now. And that I'm pretty much committed to use the same shower for the next 20 years. Or if something around the house breaks or starts to smell bad, I have to fix it. I'm not used to having that kind of responsibility.

Back when I rented, if the toilet backed up, I could just move.

I made sure that was in all of my contracts.

There is however, for me at least, one advantage that resounds above these disadvantages.

I get to go the hardware store.

Soon after we bought our home, I became keenly aware that my current armory of tools would not be enough to keep up with the roughly 2000 things that needed fixing before I could go to bed.

I never thought I would see the day that a hammer, three screwdrivers, a roll of duct tape and a level wouldn't be enough to fix all my problems.

I was kind of a dummy until I got this place.

So I went to the store.

I love going to the hardware store. I always had. There's just something about the smell of wood dust, paint and testosterone that lingers in the air that I just love. Before becoming a home owner though, I never really had a reason to go.

Once in a while I'd need something real, like a nail, but normally my trips were to figure out what materials I'll need to get when I finally get around to making that robot.

But hardware stores are kind of different than others. In other stores, if I spend too long browsing through a section I have no business – such as ladies underwear (once again, for the robot) – the employees all ignore me completely,

Or they call the cops.

But at the hardware store, people would see me looking in awe at an propane tank I could totally use to make it shoot fire, and they would ask me if I needed help getting it into my cart.

So then I would be faced with having to explain that I really didn't need anything and just like looking a shiny piece of metal.

Now that I have a reason to go there, naturally there's no one around to freaking ask what I need and let me get on with my day.

OK, that's not true either, when I first walk in, I surrounded by more bright orange than you'll find at a hunter's camp. However, at this point, I'm still under the delusion that as a manly man, not only do I need help to hook up a gas dryer, but I don't even need help finding the parts.

I wandered around for about 10 minutes, mostly looking at shower heads and toilets (you should really check out this year's models by the way, amazing), before I can admit to myself that I am a moron and don't know the difference between the 47 rakes they have (although it doesn't matter, I don't need a rake) and another 10 convincing myself to admit it to one of the helpful guys in an apron as well.

By this time, the whole store is on break, and I'm reduced to wandering around like a four-year-old lost at the mall, only instead of crying out “Moooooooooom” I have to shout out “SpraaaaaayPaaaaaint”

I hope this equity thing is worth all this hassle.

Geek on.

Steve Shinney is currently trying to finish his basement with Lincoln Logs. It's going well.

Vote for me, if you want to live

I love fall, I know it sounds morbid, but I just love it how all the plants shrivel and die around me while I get along just fine with a light jacket.

It makes me feel genetically superior.

Fall is also the time of year when the eggnog comes back to the stores, hockey starts up again and all those freakin' bees get what's coming to them and die lonely, freezing deaths.

It's pretty much perfect.

Every four years, however, my perfect season gets ruined like a wedding cake with a dove in it.

If you really need more of a setup than that to windge about the Presidential election, you really haven't been paying attention.

Now I don't mean to sound like I'm criticizing the whole system. I love democracy, but democracy comes from Greece and we American tend to screw up must things that we get from other countries.

I think our track record with “Mexican” food backs be up on this.

No where south of Arizona will you find anything like unto the Chalupa.

The problem is rather than being based on debate and compromise, our political system is basically a game of hot potato, only with media people instead of music and in place of a potato, drugs and hookers.

Either that or its a race to make the other party's candidate look like he steps on puppies for exercise.

If we're going to make it seem like one guy is good as Gandhi and the other guy is as evil Megatron (I was going to say Hitler but then according to to Godwin's Law, I'd have to stop writing) then we should skip this whole election crap and have them settle this as true good and true evil should: with a light saber fight.

Actually I'd just wait to see who pulls out a red one, and then vote for the other one.

It would save time so I could go watch the bloody-knuckles match to see who gets to be VP.

Another thing about this whole process that is really in need of a make over is the mascots. An elephant and a donkey? That's really the best we could come up with?

I still don't get why our two political parties chose these two animals. Why would anyone chose to associate politicians with the two dumbest, stubbornest, stinkiest animals who are good for nothing beyond carried heavy loads and making tons of cheap fertiliz–

Oh wait. Never mind, I just figured it out.

I've also never understood why people will say that their candidate is the because people in another country want them to win.

Maybe you've forgotten, but people from other countries are the last folks we should be listening to about who to put in charge of our country.

It's kind of like the other team telling you you should let the fat kid pitch in kickball. They say it's because they think it would be good experience for him but really they just want to see how many line drives they can bounce off his head while they run up the score.

For the most part, I think that most people in both parties (yes I am aware that there are more than two, but as part of the voting American public, I don't care) are good people who are honestly doing what they think is best.

The problem is the people around them are so greasy you could fry a chicken on them on a hot day.

These people are salesmen, and salesmen are the natural enemy of engineers. We're like camels and ducks.

The only thing more annoying than all the dickweeds out there trying to get me to vote are all the super dickweeds just trying to get me to vote at all. I'm going to go to set myself up

Voting may look like a multiple choice test, but you can't just go ABBACABA like you did on the SATs. That's how countries end up like France.

This is why the write in option is the only option makes any sense. Mario and Captian Kangaroo in '08.

Geek on.

Steve Shinney is not running for office. If he were he'd run under the “No Soup for Monkey” platform and call the organization the Toga Party. Comments can and should be left below.

His mascot is better too.

I'm working on a column about how annoying this current election is and I came across this video, now I finally know who I'm voting for.

I can really get behind a President who's answer to the teen pregnancy problem is to punch Micheal Cera in the wiener.

Steve Puts the Cry in Financial Crisis

I don't want to alarm you, but killer bees are no longer the biggest threat to this country.

It turns out we really are our own worst enemy. As a country, we've really screwed our own pooch so much we've turned a once proud and powerful free-enterprise system into the economical equivalent of falling on our keys.

On my own, I don't understand much of the current situation. When it comes to things financial – along with matters of basic hygiene, how I feel about people in our neighborhood and what I like to eat – I rely of my wife for information.

My wife is a brilliant woman and things like this are right up her alley. She's got a PhD in economics and she is always willing to teach me about the area of her expertise. Just the other night she told me all about supply and demand (apparently, it means that I have to supply whatever she demands).

Not to demean her accomplishments though, but it's not hard to look like a financial genius when standing next to me. I still have a ceramic Snoopy full of “just in case” pennies.

If not for her I would spend all my money on Mountain Dew and cheese.

From what she's told me, a lot of the problem stemmed from sub-prime mortgages which are mortgages that are given at a sub-prime rate, to sub-prime borrowers wearing sub-prime shoes.

Now, I may by new to this world of people who know that 401k is not just a whole lot of k, but even I could have told you this was going to lead to trouble. The name should have been everyone's first clue. I don't want sub-prime time TV. There's no way on earth I'd eat sub-prime beef. Why would I get a sub-prime loan?

And yet people did, at an alarming rate.

Speaking of alarming raters, the other problem with these loans was that many of them had an adjustable rate. “Adjustable” is an interesting word. Consumers look at the word “adjustable” and think, “hey, my pants are adjustable, the seat of my bicycle is adjustable, I like things that are adjustable. I want my loan to be adjustable too.”

The lenders on the other hand see the word and think “Hey, I bet we can use this to screw people up the back of their adjustable pants.”

And they did, rates shot up and – as was foretold by the name of the kind of loan – mortgage payments got “adjusted” much to the shock of many sub-prime borrowers who were under the impression that the bankers were going to be their friends.

Have you ever seen a movie where the bankers are a bunch of kindly old men looking for people to help with the wads of cash falling out of their pockets? No, you haven't, because in movies their always portrayed as a bunch of heartless, money-grubbing dillweeds.

Movies like this are natures way of warning us that bankers are, for the most part, heartless, money-grubbing dillweeds. The kind of guy who would kick a random stranger in the nards for $5.

The joke was on the money grubber this time. Not only did people not like the new much higher rates, they tried to pay off the difference with gummy bears.

Apparently if you're the kind of person that thinks a sup-prime anything is a good idea, there's also a high chance you consider your favorite candy to be legal tender.

The last straw in the camel breaking economy was when President Bush, because – according to reports – is a giant a-hole, took that little knob on his desk that says “economy” and cranking it all the way down passed “rocky” to “good crap we're boned.”

I hope this look at the economy and it's troubles has proven helpful. If you have any questions be sure to let me know. I'm putting together some helpful handouts to explain the whole thing with charts, graphs and a cartoon of the stock market waving it's genitals at everyone. I just need to find a Kinkos that will let me pay for printing with Swedish fish.

Geek on.

Steve Shinney is doing what he can to weather the current financial situation by hiding under the covers and clinging to to his IRA while crying. Calming comments can be left below.

Home is where you spend your money

After much deliberation and several near-marriage-ending fights, it's done. My wife and I have made an offer on a home.

My wife is thrilled about having a place to raise our family and all the equity we'll be having (or making, or whatever verb you do to equity). I'm just glad I don't have to go house hunting anymore. I was really bad at it.

It's hard to look at an empty house and imagine it as the home you would turn it into. You find yourself thinking things like “yeah, that's a nice banister, but what would it look like with my underwear drying on it?”

Fortunately you have a realtor with you at all times, so these trains of thought never lead to anything that would end up in the papers.

I don't think house shopping should be this way. With other large purchases, such as a car, you're allowed to try doing what you will be doing with the car. You drive it.

I don't think a 20 minute tour, 17 of those minutes being spent talking about school districts, is enough time to know if you will actually like living in a place. I think I should be able to move in for a few days. Give the place a bit of a test-live. It makes sense.

Of course I think I should be allowed to lick any cake I'm considering buying.

This is because I'm not the kind of person who makes life decisions quickly. I dated my wife for two years before we got married. It took me months to decide which college I wanted to go to. But I decided which building I'm going to spend the majority of my life in less than an hour because some one else was looking at it and because my realtor said I could have pie.

I'm too scared to poop now.

There are just too many unknowns.

Things I don't know about this house that scare me:

Is it haunted?

The house is going inspected for structural integrity, various pests and mold. It will not be checked for ghosts. Let me tell you something, if I wake up to get a drink and find myself face to face with the spectral remains of a young lady, hacked to pieces on her wedding night, I'm not going to be too concerned with mold.

What birds hang out in the back yard?

And at what times? While, I love doves and quail visiting in the evenings, I am not a fan of squawking, pooping alarm clocks (this is why I don't have kids). I'm also concerned I don't know the neighborhood outlook on BB guns.

How does it smell in the rain?

We've all been in a house at one point that smells a bit like an old person on soggy days? I don't want to be the house in the neighborhood that everyone checks the forecast before they visit.

Is it haunted?

I'm serious, it really bothers me that I don't know this. If this house is on a Native burial ground, I'm going to be so pissed.

How are the neighbors?

Are the nice? Are they douche bags? Are they robots? Are they robotic douche bags? I know none of these things. The only living being in the area that I've actually met was someones dog who appeared out of no where to smell my wife (I can't blame him, she smells excellent).

I tried Googling all these things, but all the links were to Wikipedia (which I still don't trust ever since the Golden Girls incident). I guess I'll just have to suck it up though. Sometimes a man has to Kirk it up and live where he hasn't lived before. I think I can do this. I think I can make it work.

Unless there are ghosts. Then I will cross those streams so fast, it'll make your head spin.

Steve Shinney is so concerned because his house was built in the 60s. Do you have any idea how many people can die in a house in almost 50 years. A lot, that's how many. Comments and recommendations of a good paranormal investigator are welcome.

The strange this is, I kinda miss the little guy

If you ever have to look down to remind yourself that you haven't been stabbed in the stomach, your day is off to a bad start.

This was the situation I found myself in the other day. I even left work early so I could be miserable in only one way at a time.

I took a shower, hot water normally eases whatever pain I'm feeling, but this time it just made it a wetter kind of pain.

I considered putting clothes on for a minute, but the thought of bending down to pick them up from their place on the floor made my stomach cry out in anguish.

And so I laid there, bare-bum naked, waiting for the alien larvae to burst from my stomach and end my pain forever.

It really sucks, when all you want in the world is just to curl up into the fetal position and cry, but said curling really really hurts.

Finally I decided that that searing pain in my stomach might be something I should talk to a medical professional about.

I'd been manly for almost 9 hours. I'd filled my quota.

My lovely wife drove me to the nearest insta-care facility where I was over whelmed by how misinforming that name was. There was nothing insta about the care I received.

What they should call it is an insta-pay or an insta-wait or an insta-fill out these forms, because those are the only things I did within the first 20 minutes.

Not that I mind. There were plenty of other people there in need of care at any speed. Some of whom were in more pain than I, and other who were just better at selling it.

As I sat there I tried to distract myself by reading a Newsweek the humor columnist in me is required to say was from the Regan era but was really from March.

I had to distract myself because now the pain was so pain that I wanted to puke. It was like someone had put a donkey in my stomach and it was trying to kick its way out.

As a former janitor, I've found that I have secret agent-like awareness in potentially dangerous situations. Only instead of always knowing how to escape and constantly figuring out how to disable any one in the room who may be a threat, whenever I feel sick I'm constantly scanning the room for the best way to blow chunks so that no one has to clean it up.

Ok, it's 4 and one half steps to the garbage can in the corner, but if that kid playing with the blocks stands up, I won't be able to hurdle him, so I'll go left instead, where it just five and one third steps to the large, potted plant.

It's not as cool I know, but I would argue that it's just as heroic.

Finally I got to see the doctor. By which I of course mean a nurse.

She was very nice though, and did a good job taking my vitals and gathering some basic information. Then she took me to an small room, gave me a paper dress, told me to strip to the waist and that the doctor would be with me shortly.

When I got to see a doctor. He listened to my stomach with a stethoscope – which really makes me think they just really like to use those things for everything they can – and poked my belly like I was a beloved mascot for a bake goods corporation.

I don't know how effective the listening was, unless he actually heard something burst, but the poking was very effective in making it very clear that I was really in pain.

Apparently stethoscopes and fingers were the whole extant of medical equipment this particular insta-care had at their disposal, because that was all they did. The doctor said that he couldn't rule out appendicitis and that I should probably get to emergency room.

I was about to say that wouldn't be necessary but he poked me again in the stomach and I saw the prudence of listening to a medical professionals advice.

So my wife helped me stagger to the car and drove me to the hospital. The insta-care gave us very good directions that helped us find the hospital with no problem. They were not however as clear on how to get to the actual emergency room. We had to drive around the whole building twice, cross a bridge guarded by a troll and speak the elvish word for friend before we were finally allowed to enter.

The emergency room was another place that didn't meet the expectations I had from it's name. I don't know it it was because people had planned their emergencies better than I had or if it was always this way but it didn't look to me any busier or more stressed than a normal doctors office.

There were even toys for kids to play with. In my mind the only thing kids had to play with and the emergency room were severed fingers they found on the floor.

So I calmly wrote my name on a sheet of paper and sat down to patiently wait for the receptionist or God to call my name. Whoever spoke up first.

The first medical professional that I dealt with was a male nurse. He really struck me as more of an gatherer of information than a healer of wounds. He asked me a lot of questions about my past medical history, any similar trips to the hospital, how I had paid for those and how I was planning on paying for this one.

“What seems to be the problem?” he asked, in a voice that made it pretty clear that whatever my problem was, it had better be pretty good because he had probably seen people die already today.

I tried to come up with the most manly way to explain the situation but all I could up with was, “My tummy hurts.”

He then took my vitals which consisted of taking my blood pressure, checking my temperature and sticking a thing on my figure for some reason. I think I had something to do with oxygen.

This was the first of many vitals takings during my time at the hospital. That seems to be how doctors and nurses greet people. They say their name and the stick their hand out, but when you go to shake it, BOOM, they've slapped that cuff on you and are squeezing for all they're worth.

The next person I saw was an EMT. The EMT's part in this whole process was basically to stick a big, all purpose needle in me that later nurses and doctors could use to put in and take out various fluids.

I wasn't too worried when he explained this. I've given blood plenty of times, but this time it was different. Apparently if you've got a donkey in your stomach, needles just provoke him.

In the EMT's words, I suddenly lost a lot of color. This is a big deal for me because I don't have a lot of color to go around. I can't afford to lose any.

At that exact moment, however, I had bigger concerns than the current state of my complexion. The exact location of my blood, and my sudden need to fall down for example.

The EMT had me lay down and hooked me up to an IV to help me regain some fluids. I instantly fell in love with this new method of taking in fluids. I think the only way it could be more effective would be if they pumped the water directly into my bladder.

In between trips to get rid of some of the IV solution, they gave me a CAT scan. They stuck my lower half into the large machine that reminded me of a really high tech, but really crappy water slide.

After dipping me a couple times, the thing whirred and beeped for a bit and delivered it verdict that I was perfectly fine.

I think it was hoping they would send me home and I would die and then the robot uprising could take place.

No such luck this day Mr. Roboto. The technician was able to catch on the ruse, run the test again and sure enough, my appendix had taken the commuter rail all the way to inflamedville.

I considered this a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it pretty lucky when you think about it to have the one organ that craps out early be on I totally don't use. On the other hand, I always considered my appendix to be one of my finer features.

The surgeon came a explained what appendicitis was and would happen during the operation. He was very personable and dig a good job explaining things, but really all I heard from him was “You're in a lot a pain right now.”

I do remember that he spent a lot of time going over what would happen in the “worst case scenario.”

“Mr. Shinney, I want you to be fully aware that, 'worse case scenario' you could be full of giant spider eggs. It's not very common. Only one person out of 500 has it. I just think you should know.”

I understand the importance of making sure the patient has all the information, but I think he should also give equal opportunity to the “best case.”

“Mr. Shinney I think you should also be aware that when we open you up, there's a 4 and one half percent chance all this pain was cause by a small golden monkey. If that's the case you'll get to keep the monkey.”

He also gave me a paper to sign saying that he had explained all the options available to me. This was pretty easy for him. Apparently my options were I could let him poke around in my stomach with a camera, a pair of scissors and a stapler, or I could go home and die a slow and painful death.

On the TV in my little room, the Yankees had just beaten the Red Sox, so I figured I had something to live for, so I went with the first one.

We had to wait about an hour for an operating room to be available. It was a quite time of introspection. I looked back on my life, on what I had done and what I still hoped to do. I prayed for comfort and strength. I told my wife I loved her.

I made up my mind who I would haunt if the doctor sneezed.

When they came in to tell me the room was ready for me I was a little bit sad to say goodbye to my little corner of the emergency room. It had a bed, a TV and a bathroom all within 20 feet of each other. It was nicer than many apartments I've lived in.

I was also sad because everyone in the emergency room was really nice to me. I'd like to think that it was because of my charming personality and my up-beat attitude.

It truth I think it was just because I didn't bleed or barf on any of them.

They helped me onto one of those hospital beds on wheels that are officially called gurneys but when you're strapped into one, you just think of it as a “transport to a scary place.” The wheeled me into the operating room where I was introduced to my anesthesiologist and much more importantly, to my anesthesia.

I don't remember any of what happened next. Considering that it involved people cutting, probing and shaving all different parts of my body, I would say this was probably a good thing.

Even with all the kindnesses I was shown during my stay in the hospital, including saving my life, the one I was most grateful for was that they waited until I was completely under to lift my gown and expose my junk to anything medical.

I think this is the way it should always be.

During the next hour or so, my appendix was removed. I don't know what else happened in that time. I'm still hoping they did some sort of experimental treatment that will someday result in my being able to fly, shoot lasers out of my eyes or at least figure out my gas mileage in my head, but so far, no luck.

After I was all sew, taped and stapled back together, I was wheeled into the room in which I was to recover. I'm normally not very interested in interior decorating, but for some reason, I found myself very impressed with the curtains.

I was moved into a less movable – and therefore less scary – bed and hooked up to multitude of machines, none of which were explained to me and told to have a good night. On the way out the nurse said offhandedly “Oh, if you need it, there's a urinal next to your bed.”

This was the meanest thing to happen to me during my stay, and that includes all the poking.

Now I know that the average woman does not spend a lot of time in the men's room. This is kind of the idea behind the whole system. But really women, it is very important that you know what is and what is not a urinal.

Because if you tell a heavily drugged, post-op patient that there is a urinal beside his bed, in his current state of mind he will assume there is a real, porcelain-on-the-wall urinal somewhere to his left. When he wakes up and finds that there's nothing but a pee-bottle, he's gonna be more than a little disappointed.

This pee-in-a-bottle system is so that the nurses can keep track of how much you're producing, and so that the rest of us can be glad we're not nurses.

At first I was glad to have the bottle. I was in no mood to stand up and go anywhere to go. The thought of being able to pee as I was struck me as ultimate luxury.

The problem was that ever since I was four years old, I've been practice NOT peeing while in bed. Over the years, I've gotten really good at it.

This expertise came back to haunt me as I was unable to fill the bottle while lying down and I had to stand up, like a common slob, and do things the old fashioned way.

But as soon as I was able to stand and do my deed, for the first time in my life I experienced peeing after having a catheter recently removed.

I'm not going to bore/disgust you with the details. I'll just say it felt like I had a bad sunburn on the inside and leave it at that.

Bodily functions aside, my first night was a long dark and scary one. I was still in a lot of pain, under the influence of some pretty heavy duty chemicals and one of machines I was plugged into started beeping.

I didn't know what the beeping meant or what caused it, but I did know that whenever you go to a hospital, they hook you up to at least one machine so important that if the plug gets pulled out, you get three warning beeps and then you die.

Fortunately, my beeps were from some other machine.

The rest of my time in the hospital was spend laying in bed, watching TV and drinking juice. If it weren't for the butt-clenching pain and the huge bills, it would have been the best vacation I've had in a long time.

So that's my big medical story. It's not that big of a deal I know. Plenty of people have had worse than me. And yes, I do include all mothers in that group.

I don't know how painful child birth is. All I know is I'm going to wait until I pass a kidney stone while on fire before I try to compare it with anything I've gone through.

I don't want to go back to the hospital.

Geek on.

Steve Shinney is now minus one minor organ. He's recovering well but will probably never be able to help you move in the future. He is sorry for the inconvenience.

Sorry this was so long in coming, expect a return to regular posting.

Patients are a virtue

I really wanted to have something up hear weeks ago. This time last week I was in the hospital and I'm still working on a column about that experience. It'll be up as soon as it's done and I'm pleased with it.

No one invited me to this or any other parties

Trying some very different things in this piece. Would appreciate any feedback.

Last week we Americans, with our red blood, blue jeans and whitey tighties, celebrated our freedom: Freedom not just from obsessive dictators but from commercials for feminine hygiene products during major sporting events.

Yes, now days we Yankees are freer than a stomach ache on Halloween, but it wasn't always the case. There was a time when Americans were subject to foreign rule. Not just any foreign rule, but the oppressive and evil foreign rule of the British who, at the time, were about as evil as Shredder from the Ninja Turtles..

It was all a big misunderstanding. The British (who invented wedgies by the way) were convinced they owned the colonies simply because they had made them.

As a result of this British (who smelled like wet cow) tyranny, the Americans were not allowed to go swimming for at least 45 minutes after eating.

But in these darks days of wet socks and stale popcorn there were, however, a brave few who dared to dream. Dream of a future where their children were free to take a penny, even if they had no intention of ever leaving a penny.

These men were upset at the injustices they suffered at the hands of the British (who were also in league with Gargemel from the Smurfs). They were upset they a 10 pm curfew. They were upset they couldn't make a right turn at a red light. But mostly they were upset about taxes.

The British (who hated puppies) were big fans of taxes. The put ridiculous taxes on everything. Sugar was taxed. Toilet paper was taxed. There was a tax on wig powder. You know that little plastic table-looking thing that comes in a box of pizza? They had a tax on those. Even the thirteenth donut in a baker's dozen was taxed.

Basically the British (who always double dipped in the salsa) were a bunch of taxing douche bags.

Now the Americans wanted to rebel. The problem was British (who cheated at Clue) Army had like two million soldiers, some of which may have been vampires.

These soldiers had two jobs in America, give speeding tickets to people just going two miles over the limit and make sure none of the Americans got to drink any of the special British (who pretty much sucked at volleyball) tea, which was kept on a boat.

So the colonists, burning to feel the freedom of Taco Tuesday, took the tea and dumped into the Boston Harbor. Of course, those of us who can finish the mazes on the back our cereal boxes (which the colonists couldn't because of the high maze tax) realize that putting tea in water is pretty much the recipe for tea.

And so these brave revolutionaries turned American's biggest shipping center into the world's largest cup of Earl Gray, which sounds a lot more like a prank that an act of total defiance.

At first the British (who pooped on babies) were confused by this move. Their first reaction was to enforce a tax on dressing up like an Indian and on doing things they didn't understand.

Before long though, the British (who hated your Grandma) couldn't resist a practically endless supply of tea. Soon then all came in for a drink.

That was when the colonists shot them.

Unfortunately they used too loud of a gun and the shot was heard all the way around the world. This lead to the American Revolutionary War which was pretty much the coolest war until the invention of death rays because it consisted of the Americans beating the British (who had no nads) so bad that they didn't set foot in America again until the War of 1812 by which time they had invented evil robots spies.

Fortunately, by then Andrew Jackson discover a ring of power, so we were OK.

So I hoped you enjoyed your Independence Day. But we should remember these brave founders for freedom all year long.

In conclusion, fireworks stands should be open all year.

Geek on.

Steve Shinney is a serious historian who never makes up facts. Ever. Not even if you asked him to. You can try to talk him into it in the comments section.

Bus Bus Goose

I started riding the bus long before it became cool to do so.

Nowadays, I find myself again not so cool. With gas prices raising faster than ninja at the grocery store, everyone seems to be taking public transportation these days.

Not me, I've been doing it for month, back when I was the only one of the bus and I did just for the satisfaction of looking down on hippies with a “greener than thou” look on my face.

Now the bus is become more and more crowded and every morning, I find myself reliving the nightmare of grade-school Steve, trying to find a seat before the scary bus driver hurls the bus towards the next stop.

It's a horrific labyrinth of people I don't want to sit be: too fat, too scary, too stinky, too female and it's really too much stress for me that early in the morning so I am putting my foot down. I was hear first, so of you are gonna hafta go.

Its for the good of everyone.

Or at least me.

The following people should not be allowed to ride the bus ever.


I'm not talking about the kind of bikers who peddle from their home and the bus stop. Those people are fine so long as then don't stand in front of me in those thing they have the gall to call shorts.

Trust me on this. I wear shorts more than any adult should. I'm almost an expert on shorts. If your pants are so tight your butt hair pokes through, those aren't shorts.

I'm talking about the guys who are so in to their bikes that that

The is nothing scarier than an angry biker. And there's not angrier than a biker forced to used public transportation. So I'm pretty sure that there's nothing scarier than a biker on the bus.

Maybe a clown with a gun that shoots rattlesnakes.

But there would have to be – like – four of them.

Old women who want to talk.

I don't know if they can't read, can't work an iPod or have just been around so long that they've already read and listened to anything but if you put a woman over the age of 70 on some sort of public transportation, and suddenly she really wants to talk with any random stranger who happens to be me.

And the cheaper the form of transportation, the crazier the woman becomes.

On a plane, she wants to talk about her grandkids, which is boring.

On a train, she wants to talk about her cats, which is more boring.

On the bus, she just wants to talk about herself, which is the most boring thing ever, and usually pretty gross because she has all kinds of health problems that she has to show me, some of which kind of make me throw up a little in my mouth.

The guy with the shovel.

I was on the bus a few weeks ago and some dude gets on with a shovel.

He didn't look like a farmer, an archaeologist or Smokey the Bear or anyone else who would have a good reason to have a shovel with them. I tried to come up with a situation that would require digging and an easy, yet anonymous way to get to and from the digging but all I could come up with were shallow graves and

Apparently I wasn't one freaking out about this guy. The biker on the bus shot me one of those “This guy is going to make on of us into ice cream topping,” looks and moved further back in the bus.

Attractive people.

Good looking people have no business being on the bus. You guys make the rest of us feel bad.

Finally, Dark Jedi.

I don't have any good reason. I just hate them so much.

Geek on.

Steve Shinney is a big fan of planes, trains and automobiles. Not the movie, he just like things that go vroooooooooom. Drop him a line below.

To swim or not to swim

It was a glorious two and a half weeks, but spring is over and we're now full on into summer.

All the changes that happen when we enter to hottest time of year are in full view already. The trees have enough leaves to give shade. The flowers are in full bloom. The grass has a bunch of brown spots from where people let there dogs poop in the snow 5 months ago and never cleaned it up.

But the sure-firest (surest-fire?) way to tell that it real is summer is to just walk by the pool in our apartment complex and notice the place is more crowded than the local IHOP (and this despite the fact there pool doesn't offer 5 kinds of syrup).

I never know how to react to the fact that there is a pool where I live. As a kid I always wanted one. Even started digging one for a while but then I started thinking about dinosaurs before long my T-rex and Triceratops were duking it out in my room.

Come to think of it, that's how all my childhood projects ended.

And a lot of my adult ones.

Anyway, now that I find myself with easy access to a pool I can never decide wether or not to use it. As an adult there and just so many conflicting pros and cons about the whole issue.

Maybe someone out there could help me. Let me just explain my thinking.

Pro: Sweat.

Just ask anyone who's ever been down wind of me, I am a sweaty stinky man.

I'm from Idaho, I'm built for colder climates. Once the summer hits my poor skin, I start sweating like a fat guy going up stairs.

That's just walking to the bus, when I work out in the sun I just look like a cartoon super villain made of stinky water.

I bet I produce more liquid per hour than 3 dairy cows.

This slimly covering may keep me cool and protect me from predators but it makes me none the more popular with the ladies. Not that I really am looking for any ladies at this point in my life, but no matter how married you get, it still hurts when they point and laugh.

That's one thing I really like about being at the pool. At the pool its hard to tell the difference between someone who is dripping wet with sexy pool-water and someone who is dripping wet with extremely un-sexy personal water.

Con: I suck at swimming.

For a guy who passed all the swimming requirements scouting could throw at him, I'm a really lousy swimmer.

I spent most my time like I did when I first started going to pools, clinging to the end of the pool only leaving to try to swim to the other side when either my mom's watching or some kid dares me to.

I always start out with pretty good form, by after two or three strokes I become the only person in the pool over the age of five doing the doggy paddle.

It's better for me to just stay on land, where I can usually get around with no problem.

And if I can't, I just fall, not drown.

Pro: bikinis. Lots of bikinis.

Much like losers wait for the swallows to return to that place they go, the average red blooded American male considers the return of bikinis into the realm of acceptable day wear as the true sign of summer.

Today I saw more cleavage and side cheek than I had since Christmas. And this was just on my way to check the mail.

Some people say that it's shameful to see women parading around half naked in public like that.

I think these people are idiots.

A woman wearing a bikini is way more than half naked. We're talking about what, less than two square feet of covering going on?

By my figures a well-figured woman in a proper bikini is anywhere between four/fifths to thirteen/fourteenths naked.

An Eskimo with his shirt off, that's half naked.

I swear this country can't do math anymore.

As much as I appreciate them I've never really understood the mentality behind bikinis. There are very few young women who would let random strangers see them in just their underwear. And yet, if you make that same underwear waterproof, and all of a sudden it's appropriate to were to grocery store.

Con: naked kids.

I'm all for skinny dipping in proper situations, like when it starts with gratuitous nudity and ends in bloody murder but there are limits.

I'm pretty sure it's against some sort of federal law or pool rule to let your offspring splash around – as the French say – buck naked, but I've seen baby wiener during too many trips past the pool.

At first I was against it for sanitary reasons. I was convinced that being in the buff would increase the chance of peeing in the pool by several hundred percent.

Then I wised up and realized that warm water, constant splashing and the commonly accepted fallacy that chlorine makes everything better has already made it so pretty that the only people who don't leave a little personal Kool-ade in the pool are the rare few who actually shower before getting in the pool.

They do their business there.

So I'm not worried about these kids doing anything I wouldn't do in the pool. I do, however, worry about the harsh rays of the sun. If a family is too lazy to put a suit on their kid, I'm pretty sure they didn't sunscreen them up properly.

I'd try to shade them myself, but that's just creepy, even for me. And I look at strangers' wedding photos on Flickr.

Geek on.

Steve Shinny is a poor swimming who accidentally typed the word “poop” every time he wanted to write “pool” and had to go back and change it while giggling like a school boy. Comments can and should be left below.

Save a trip, get the snip

There are a lot of big decisions that parents have to make. On decision that parents of new born boys find them selves facing is the issue of whether or not to have their kid circumcised.

I've already decided that any boys I end up having will have it done. I figure if someday they ever decide to go Jewish they'll be really glad that I did.

Geek on.

You must be this handicapped to park here

A little early this week as I'm heading to the lake.

It may be because I just ate some delicious curry, but I'm really starting to believe in karma.

Like my neighbor who does bad in the form of blasting their stereo really loud have been punished with really bad taste in music.

Another example, I used to think that it was unfair that handicapped people got to park closest to the building. I mean it's not like most of them had to even walk there. They'd just roll their way up there without a care in the world.

But then I realized that they may have the closest parking spots, but their stalls are furthest from the men's room door. So it kind of evens out that way.

While I've never been jealous of their high seated toilets and their so wide-it-echoes stalls, but I'll admit, theres been times I've looked at their parking spots and the looked at the door and realized they were only 34 inches apart, and I got a little jealous.

This envy went away one day when I realized that in order to use a handicapped parking spot the person has to literally park on an image of another handicapped person. I don't know if I could bring myself to do that.

That poor guy is already in a wheel chair, he's obviously got enough problems without me parking my car on his torso.

Maybe that's how he ended up in that chair to begin with.

A fear of inflicting additional pain on painted paraplegics aside, I still have high levels of guilt that prevent me from ever taking a reserved spot no matter how quick my trip to the sporting goods store will be.

I won't even park in the spots next to the handicapped spots unless just I stubbed my toe really bad.

Unfortunately, other people aren't so lawful good when it comes to signs spray painted on the asphalt.

Just the other day I saw someone park in a handicapped spot without a tag or license plate. I watched him get out of car and walk in with ease. I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt that he really did have some sort of physical problem that warranted his use of that coveted spot, but then he jump kicked an old lady in the head.

I'm pretty sure he was just a douchebag.

And just so we're clear, I asked my doctor, being a douchebag doesn't count as being handicapped.

Unless you're golfing, then I think it's a two stroke handicap.

Despite the fact that it's often abused by the morally challenged, I kind of like the idea of parking segregation. I think we should color code the whole lot and then make people park accordingly.

The blue spots for handicapped people would stay the same as the closest.

All lots would have the red spots that you see for senior citizens and expectant mothers.

Next would be yellow spots for anyone with small children (in the case of grocery stores and movie theaters however, these spots would be located over a mile away to encourage people to leave those brats at home).

The system would continue from there through the rest of society: doctors and firemen, librarians, dog owners, people who like Jazz music, Civil War reenactors, Congressmen, cat owners, golfers and so on until finally there would be a peach colored spot in the middle of landfill in Illinois reserved for that weird guy who invited me to get in the hot tub with him when I'm pretty sure he was naked.

Naked weirdos can walk for all I care.

That's karma for you.

Geek on.

Steve Shinney is an (usually) able bodied young man who is perfectly content to park in the orange and blue striped parking spots right in between math teachers and anyone who switch hits is softball.

Time to Facebook the Truth

As a man who owns more Ethernet cables than pants, it pains me to say this. I think we've taken this whole Internet thing about as far as it can go.

It's clear now that we will never be able to download bacon, so I think it's about time we just walk away.

You're not buying it are you?

Ok, I'll level with you.

The main reason I know that the Internet is on it's last virus delivering legs is that even I – the guy who taught Numa Numa how to dance – have fallen to the lowest level of Internet usage.

I'm on Facebook.

If I can succumb to the temptation, what chance to you guys have?

About as much chance as monkey bench-pressing a sumo wrestler which explains why Facebook got so popular in the first place.

When I first heard about Facebook, I was Carl Sagan level skeptical about the whole thing. Social networking was stupid and had already ruined outer space for us geeks. Now it was going after books.

Still as I saw more and more of my friends setting up Facebook pages, I began to wonder what the attraction was. What made it so much better than MySpace?

And people were very clear that it was better than MySpace. They were borderline religious about the whole thing. They were like people with Teevo.

Facebook is like MySpace in that it lets people who think PHP is something hippies use pretend that they can make a Web site.

It's different from MySpace in that there are a lot less perverts looking at pictures of skanky girls they don't know (although there are more perverts looking at pictures of skanky girls that they do know).

It's better than MySpace in that I use it.

I think this first point, along with the ability to prove that you really do know more about movie trivia than your friends, are what makes Facebook so popular. Its a commonly held belief that Web developers are the sexiest people on the planet. People have long yearned to be as respected as the members of this noble profession.

I've always resisted such social networking sites as Facebook and MySpace because I pride myself on being a highly skill computer user. I didn't need help, I could make a Web site the old fashion way, with blood and sweat and ones and zeros.

And I'd make it cool and neat and stuff.

5 years later I've come to a realization that I am painfully lazy and this was never getting done.

I tried really hard to dig into all the HTML, JS, CSS and LMAO that I needed to build a really great site, but whenever I sat down to get to work I would write two lines of code and then realize that somehow I was playing WOW.

Honey, what are you doing? I thought you said you were going to work on your Web site.

I am dear.

Then why do I see a dragon?

He's trying to steal my code, that's why I have to kill him.

So I do have to admit Facebook is a lot easier than building write a Web page the old fashion way, just like buying your food is easier than hunting for it.

Although I do still feel like a bit of a wiener when I eat a muffin instead of skinning a deer.

Another thing I love about Facebook is how easy it makes social interaction. In Facebook there's no range for how well you know a person or how much you like them.

In real life it's way more complicated. In my life there are many different words I use to describe people: friends, acquiescences, buddies, coworkers, people I ride the bus with, neighbors, people who work at stores I go to a lot, neighbors who I sneak around trying to avoid, my wife, ward-mates and people I think are douche-bags for not returning their shopping carts.

On Facebook, everyone is either your friend or a total stranger.

It's actually very cleansing.

Geek on.

Steve Shinney is just happy that now he can finally number all the friends that he's ever had in his whole life. The answer, according to Facebook, is 21.

The Geek Beat: Burn Baby Shower Burn

I like to think that I'm pretty clever. I've been walking through forests my whole life and I've never been upside-down hanging from a tree or in a pit with a tiger. It's because I'm pretty good at spotting traps.

And yet, despite all skills as an Eagle Scout, this last weekend I still found myself at a baby shower.

In my defense, it was a baby shower cleverly disguised as a barbecue.

My first hint that this might not be a regular barbecue was when I realized the host couple were registered at Target. Generally people don't register for a barbecue. Although I'm totally for getting this tradition started. I think it would really catch on.

You have been cordially invited to a BBQ at the Shinney residence on Tuesday, the 12 of Febtober. Please RSVP so we will have plenty of potato salad. The couple is registered at Albertson's and Chuck's Butcher Shop.

I've never been a big fan of showers of any kind. They're just way to feminine for me. I know I'm suppose to be a modern man and all that jazz, but if that means I have to go to a bridal shower and listen to women squeal after each present they open, screw that.

Besides, baby showers always seem to be for one of two purposes. Either for the parents to get a bunch of free stuff in order to recover some of the massive costs involved in procreation or for them to say one last goodbye to all their couple friends who don't have kids yet.

Have your first kid is a lot like getting married. It is a huge commitment, it is a major milestone in your life and once you do it, it's pretty much impossible to hang out with anyone who hasn't yet.

I went anyway, assuming that so long as somebody stood outside and turned large chunks of meat into food using fire, I could just focus on that and be able to shut out all the talk about onesies and spit up.

No such luck. I was thwarted by one of my oldest (and most delicious) nemesis of all time: sloppy joes.

And by the time we started playing games, all pretense of being anything but a baby shower was thrown out quicker than old coleslaw.

I'm not saying you can't play games at a barbecue. Far from it. There are a ton of really fun games that can be played in the context of a barbecue: baseball, horseshoes and “see who can fit the most jello in their mouth” for example.

However, one game you never play at a BBQ is “Guess how fat the hostess is.”

Playing this game will get you kicked out of most BBQs with grill marks on your face.

And yet, some how, this is perfectly acceptable at a baby shower.

Well we couldn't just guess like normal people would. That wouldn't be fun. We had to take string and make a loop the size we thought our ever expanding host would be. When we laid them all down next to each other, it became as obvious as the fat guy at the gym that none of the guys had any idea how big a pregnant woman should be (not even her husband which is discouraging).

Then we had to guess the weight and length of the baby when he is finally born.

This is another spawning tradition that I've never understood. Why do we have to measure our babies like fish? It just gives me the impression that if one isn't big enough we can just throw him back, or sneak him under our waders and hope the game warden (or doctor) doesn't catch us.

I also hate it because I have no real frame of reference to go off of. I have not real idea how big a baby should be at birth. You could tell me that the average infant is three inches long like a new-born kangaroo, and I would not feel comfortable calling you a liar.

Since I had no idea how many inches or pounds go into an average baby, I just said he'd be 6 1/3 crayons long and hoped for the best.

Hundreds of people have told me how heavy and how long their babies are, and I have paid more attention to infomercials about home meat dryers than I have to any of these announcements. I think it's because I don't have a kid yet. Once I do it'll be competition, at which point I'll start lying about the size of my posterity, just like I lie about the length and width of everything else I care about.

And seriously, why can't we just say tall? Babies are people too you know.

Still even despite the lack of an actual barbecue, I had a good time. I'm proud to say that I've survived a baby shower.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go take a man shower. I still feel icky.

Geek on.

Steve Shinney is a veteran of many crappy barbecues who thinks that showers should be held for anyone for any major life event. He is currently planning a “just got an X-box” shower for himself.

100th post, in 3rd person rather than 3-D

The ever handsome Steve Shinney was walking to the bus stop this morning, when he noticed the sign at the Hooters across the street was proclaiming proudly, “We have Wi-Fi!”

'What a strange thing for Hooters to brag about,' he thought to himself. 'If I were them, I'd make a sign that said something like “We have buxom women in tiny clothes!” or they could just shorten it to “Hey, we're Hooters!”'

He tried to distract himself by listening to music, but he still couldn't get his head around this concept. It didn't make sense for Hooters to brag about having Wi-Fi, something he himself possessed in his own apartment and didn't feel the need to make a sign to tell people.

He considered perhaps they were trying to compete with the coffee shop next door, whose sign also proclaimed that “We have Wi-Fi.”

'But who's business are they competing for?' He wondered 'Granted coffee shops have a monopoly on people who like to slowly drink a single overpriced coffee while they work on their Great American Novels.'

'But I'm pretty sure no novels – great, American or otherwise – have ever been read in Hooters, let alone been written.'

He considered for a moment taking advantage of this highly-toted Wi-Fi and writing his latest idea for a book ( a touching love story about a jazz musician who falls for sexy young werewolf set in the 13th century) just to be the first person to raise to literary greatness from such a location, but then he realized not only would his wife not approve (with punching) but with that many distractions bouncing around nobody could write anything.

'I can't even write if I see a dog outside my window,' he thought and pushed that fantasy out of his mind forever.

He looked down the street to the next bus stop and contemplated walking a bit further every morning so that he didn't have to wait where he had to read such perplexing signs. There were still nights when he would lay awake remembering last Christmas when the same sign wished him a 'Hooterific Holiday', a phrase that haunted him still.

Finally the bus came to carry him away. As climbed aboard he realized what it all meant.

'This sign, is a sign. It's the sign I've been watching for. It's time to bring back The Geek Beat.'

And so it was.

Somethings they just don't teach you in the MTC

Languages are a lot like fighting ninja werewolves, just when you think you're getting good at one you find that your skills are severely lacking when you need them the most.

I've been studying Chinese for over seven years. For the most part I do OK and on the occasions when I need to say a word or phrase that I don't know like “archaeologist” or “Decepticon” I have my lovely wife there by my side to bail me out (just like with the ninj-wolves).

This week however, I ran into a situation where both my leet sino-skills and lovely sino-wife both failed me.

I was still in China, doing some last minute shopping, which for me means shopping for Chinese DVDs. Chinese DVD salesmen are unintentionally hilarious. When every they see whitey they a circle with their fingers (commonly recognized as the universal sign of a DVD) and say one of the few English words they know “DVD” (which actually doesn't count because that's also how you say DVD in Chinese).

Normally I then blow them away by chatting with them about Chinese movies and movie stars, prove my linguistics manhood and move on. I'm fairly comfortable in these situations so I went to pick up a couple Chinese Television series to last us until our next trip while my wife took care of her parents' computer needs.

This is when I discovered a major chink in my Chinese armor (that phrase has never sounded more racist, I should have thought of a better way to say that). Since the last time I was in China many of the bootleg DVD vendors have moved much of the stock into the back rooms that used to be reserved for adult programming. Also the vendors seemed a lot more convinced that a white guy wondering around could only be interesting in dirty DVD was were making different commonly recognized universal signs with their fingers

I just wish I knew how to say “I don't want to go to your porn room” in Chinese.

I'm hoping for the second kind

I saw a sea monster yesterday.

I'm not really sure if it was one of the cool kinds with the lots of arms, the horns and the teeth and the ship wrecking powers like the Kraken or if it was the really cool kind with the tits and the boobs and the seashell bikini like a mermaid, but it was definitely a sea monster.

It was on my flight home from LA.

Even though the flight from LA to SLC requires passing over absolutely zero water, the plane made a small detour over the ocean. I think they were kinda hoping we would crash there. They seemed really proud of the fact that their seats could be used a a flotation device (all thought I would have felt a lot safer if the seats could be used as a parachute).

I saw something big in the water. I don't know what it was, but my world needs more magic. There fore, I'm decided in was a sea monster.

You can't change my mind.

I'll Eat Something With a Face, So Long as it's Not Smiling at the Time

Because I have a mental problem that prevents me from not buying something that's really cheap and I never pass up the opportunity to eat like a five year old, I recent purchased a whole bunch of goldfish crackers.

It's been a while since I've eaten goldfish crackers. I don't know why, I love pretty much all food that comes in the shape of a fish: goldfish crackers, Swedish fish, actual fish.

Well whatever the reason for the long separation, it over and me and one of my favorite childhood treats are back together again.

I was looking at a back for goldfish crackers for probably the first time since I learned how to read, and I noticed that they have a mascot now. A whole school of mascots actually.

Now on the side of every small bag of goldfish crackers are four goldfish crackers with eyes and a mouth.

I'm all for my snack foods having cute cartoon mascots. There's a part of me that gets a perverse thrill from the thought of a tree full of little, well-dressed elves who's sole purpose in life is to bake me delicious cookies. There's just something creepy about the lovable, happy character that's suppose to make me want to each a particular snack food being one of those particular snack foods.

It's kinda like how I've always had a problem with Mayor McCheese trying to sell me his head.

No tooth puns

My tooth hurts. It's not a constant demanding pain that demands attention like stubbing your toe or taking a mail box to the crotch. It's more of a slow annoying pain, the kind that never goes away, but never gets bad enough that you can complain about it without sounding like a total wienie.

It's kinda like working in an office.

I'm no stranger to mouth pain. I went through the torture of having braces in Jr High which was basically two years of constant mouth pain and soft food. Then in my freshman year at college, I had my wisdom teeth taken out by a man that I once watched cut a tick out of my friend's butt with a scalpel. So I can handle a little moral ache.

I'm pretty sure it's just simple cavity and a simple trip to the dentist would have the whole filled with metal and me filled with pain killer and happy gas and my problems would be solved.

However, just like my issues with body oder, knowing how to fix a problem doesn't mean I want to do it.

Now before you go accusing me of having such a common and down right boring neurosis like a fear dentists let me explain myself. Unlike the millions of Americans who fear dentists and all their needles, drills and long, pointy metal tooth pointers for absolutely no good reason, I have three firm, realistic and sane reasons to not want to got to fix this problem.

First: Dentists are doctors. Doctors are for wusses.

Despite 25 years of evidence to the contrary, I have still managed to convince myself that I am a strong and manly individual. I could have been a crusader, marching across the known world to face death at the hands of heathens, blistering sun and sand in uncomfortable places. I could have been a mountain man, living alone in the woods for years with nothing but my gun and my beard for companionship.

Instead, I am a software developer.

I think the most dangerous thing I did this week was tell a coworker the break room soda machine was out of diet Mountain Dew.

Since I was cursed to be born in the 20th century, I have to find other things in my life, bare them with patience and tell myself that makes me tough.

Right now, I'm wearing this toothache as a badge of pride.

Second: I cannot shame my family.

My grandfather was a dentist. He was more then a dentist though, he was like a dentist character in a cartoon. Everything at his house revolved around teeth. I grew up reading dental propaganda in the form of children's books. I played with a Play-doh set where you made teeth, stuck them into this creepy plastic head and then yanked them out. They had me so brain washed, I really though that an apple was as good as a candy bar.

We were a family who brushed. We were a family who used mouth wash. We were not a family that flossed, but we always told grandpa we did when we went for a visit. Seriously, nobody flosses.

I still remember when I got my first cavity. I was in high school so I had driven myself to and from the dentists office (this was in Idaho, where apparently you're allowed to drive under the influence of medical painkillers). I still remember the look of disappointment I saw in my mother's face when I explained why I was drooling out of the left side of my mouth.

I never want to see that look again.

Third: Popcorn is awesome right now.

The cavity is right in between my two back teeth, which is normally the kind of place that popcorn kernels like to hang out for weeks, making me consider suicide. Now, the whole is big enough that any remains of the delicious movie treat can be easily removed.

It seriously a dream come true for me.

Fortunately for me, I'm married and my wife is used to me. She's got me an appointment for next week to get this taken care of, so I guess that's that.

Geek on.