June 28, 2006


I know what I want for Arbor Day:


The Lunch Lady Action Figure from Archie McPhee.

For only $9.95. you get:

This Lunch Lady Action Figure will take you back to those glorious "hot lunch" days of sloppy joes, fish sticks and mini milk cartons. Each 5-1/4" tall, hard vinyl figure comes with a scoop, a food tray, a serving station and a sticker sheet featuring images of delicious hot entrées.

The lunch lady at my Catholic grade school (Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle, for those who were wondering) was pretty nice. She was nothing like Chris Farley, who set the standard for obese, mole-ridden food workers in his depiction of the woman in Adam Sandler's song, "Lunch Ladyland."

Of course, if I got the lunch lady figure, I'd also have to go for the coffee barista action figure.

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June 27, 2006


The Onion has some breaking news on the restaurant front:


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There are certain timeless questions.

Why is there air?

Who's Johnny?

How can you mend a broken heart?

How can a loser ever win?

How can you stop the sun from shining?

What makes a woman fear pickles?

One last question: How do you think she feels about relish?

Hat tip: Addison

Posted by Jeff at 03:07 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack



What do you get when you combine Mentos and soda?


The temporary death of workplace boredom.

You can read the story behind this ridiculous stunt by clicking here.

Or you can see the hilarious video of it by clicking here.

Yes, I know we weren't the first:

Or the second. Or the 423rd.

Posted by Jeff at 08:10 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack



After seeing the automotive classified section from last weekend's Tribune, I have to admit to being torn by my emotions.

I mean, consider the options here.


Do I buy a car from "High and Tight" Dan, or...


...do I buy one from Dan "The Hedgehog?"

The retail experience can be so confusing at times.

Posted by Jeff at 08:02 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack



I needed 5 gallons of baby oil, some Astroglide, a vat of industrial lubricant, some blasting caps, the crew that rescued Baby Jessica from the well and the Jaws of Life to get into the Titan last night.

Might want to give me that extra nano of space next time, pal, lest I mar your rather pristine pickup truck.

Posted by Jeff at 07:52 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

June 23, 2006


I knew. Really, I did.

I knew when we picked up this photo from the developer that it had captured the essense of the child who would eventually be known as Salad Boy.


Look at him. The hair's done hand-to-hand combat at day care. He's sitting bolt upright like his seat is on fire. He hasn't blinked in about 4 days. The swollen tongue is half-mocking, half-tasting the air snake-like for mischief and fun. There's an abrasion on one cheek from where he's tried to thumb-out another kid. His eyes are screaming, "I'm ready for adventure. Flame on!"

I knew all this when I saw the photo.

What I didn't know was that it would lead to conversations like the one we had while driving to summer camp the other day:

Salad Boy: You know where I would feel safer?

Me: Where's that?

Salad Boy: Living in a tall building.

Me: You don't feel safe where we live now?

Salad Boy: No, I do. But I'd feel safer living in a tall building.

Me: Is that right.

Salad Boy: Yes.

::::::: long pause ::::::

Salad Boy: Like on the 15th floor. In an urban area.

Me: Hmmm.

Salad Boy: Like a downtown area.

Me: I see.

::::::: long pause ::::::

Me: Did you have a particular urban area in mind?

Salad Boy: Chicago.

Me: Chicago?

Salad Boy: Yeah. That seems like a pretty safe city.

Me: Anywhere else?

Salad Boy: Seattle. Maybe San Francisco.

Me: Ah.

::::::: long pause ::::::

Me: So, the thought of a fire doesn't bother you, living up that high?

Salad Boy: Huh?

Me: Fire. If there's a fire, it'd be hard to get out.

Salad Boy: I know.

Me: That's okay with you?

Salad Boy: Yeah. It'd be alright.

::::::: pause ::::::

Salad Boy: I'd probably die, but that would be okay.

Me: Oh?

Salad Boy: Yeah. I've lived a good life.

Me: I see. So you're saying you'd feel safer living in an urban area at high altitude even with the threat of possible incineration.

Salad Boy: Yeah.

Me: And that's preferable to, say, living in the suburbs?

Salad Boy: Oh, I'd never live in the suburbs.

Me: Oh, really. Where do you think you live now?

Salad Boy: Dad, I live in the heart of Brandon.

I've been blessed to have 11 years of these kinds of mornings. Every day brings some sort of little miracle that takes my breath away.

Can't wait to see what the next year brings. His life is so full of promise and endless possibilities.

Happy Birthday, Pea. Your mommy and I love you with all our hearts.

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June 22, 2006


Earlier this year, I lusted publicly for a hot dog roller.

I searched high and low to no avail. Even ordered one online only to be told it was out of stock.

Then Father's Day came.

I am now a proud owner.

The first thing to do: take it to work.


There's something decadent about making hot dogs at your desk.


Plugged it in, turned it on, warmed it up and 20 minutes later, it smelled like a ballpark in my corner of the newsroom.


Having the right fixings was important.


So was the bun warming bin on top.


It didn't take long to draw a crowd.





Posted by Jeff at 08:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


My Uncle Pete, (yes, the one who was in the paper posing with a potato he grew that was shaped like a moose) is all a-twitter in his latest e-mail:


You won't believe this!!!!

Was working in the back yard mounting Swallow Nests. Looked down at our Sweet Pea Planter and saw this piece of driftwood we were using as a Soil Hold Back.

I was shocked as it to resembles a Sea Otter. We were Halibut Fishing a couple weeks ago and one floated by. I got a pix of it and am sending it to you also so you can see what a great piece of driftwood it is.

Exhibit A: Driftwood


Exhibit B: Otter


I think the driftwood looks more like a Sea Otter than a Sea Otter~~~!!!! What do you think???? AM I NUTS>>>>>?????

Nuts? No. Not by a longshot. I know nuts. That's not nuts.

Do you need to lay off the halibut fumes?

I think that's a distinct possibility.


Mooses and flowers.

Ice, ice, baby, Part Deux.

Ice, ice, baby.

Winter's coming. Time to head south.

Space invaders.

A little snack on the porch.

The salmon don't stand a chance.

Fish tales. Big time.

The Last Fuzzy Slipper Frontier.

There's a bar in them thar country.

Flowers are a-bloomin'.

The fog rolls in.

Moose intruder.

On their way home.

Sunsets, salmon and civil ceremonies.

Volcanoes, churches and halibut.

Eagle tree, limb by limb.

A fantasy RV for The Last Frontier.

Heading north to the homestead.

Publicizing moose-shaped tubers.

Posted by Jeff at 08:13 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 20, 2006


A friend tipped me off to the Advertising Slogan generator:

So I tried it:


I want my money back.

Let's try that again...


Much better.

Posted by Jeff at 08:29 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Thanks for scarring me, Connie Chung.

I'm only glad that Peter Jennings died before he could see this.

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June 19, 2006


Hilarious post at DCist about Rachael Ray and Bobby Flay appearing at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. tonight:


Watching food personality Rachael Ray on television makes us want to buy exactly $40 worth of "EVOO," break the glass bottles the EVOO came in, and use the oily shards to cut the word "yummo" into our skin just to feel again. Watching chef Bobby Flay on television makes us want to toss ourselves on a smoking-hot grill, smear ancho-chili sauce and mango chutney on the marks in our flesh, and jump on a cutting board to proclaim our hatred for him. Our reactions are relatively mild.

Then, why are we attending Flay-Ray's joint speech tonight at the Kennedy Center as part of the ASAE and Center for Association Leadership's 2005-2006 Nation's Capital Distinguished Speakers Series?

We're curious to see what happens when the Gatekeeper meets the Keymaster.

Even better was this line from the comments section of the blog:

I watched one episode where she used coupons from the Entertainment book for every meal - free appetizer, etc. The book itself costs $25 to $45 depending on the city, but of course she didn't include it in her $40. You know - because we all have free Entertainment books hanging around for every city we visit ...

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My favorite site of the week: Pimp That Snack.


You no doubt know the essence of the pimp genre by now: take an ordinary object and modify it so that it becomes an obscene and austentatious symbol of decadence.

Pimp That Snack takes ordinary snacks and blings them out. For example, instead of a Kit Kat bar, you get a Tupperware-sized Pimp Kat Bar.

One that caught my eye: The Pimped Out Reese Peanut Butter Cup.


As the site explains:

It all started like any ordinary Saturday morning, two friends embarking to finish their grade eight English project. But what do you do when you finish about six hours earlier than planned? Its simple; you pimp something.

Well, we sat, we pondered, we played video games and then it hit us like chocolate on peanut butter! The infamous Reese Cup, oh the almighty Reese Cup. So we got our ingredients ready. Luckily my friend won a 25-pound chocolate bunny for Easter, so we had quite enough chocolate.

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Found these two vintage TV spots the other day for Kool Aid featuring Bugs Bunny and the Monkees.

MonkeysWithBugsBunny.jpg MonkeysWithBugsBunny2.jpg

Gotta love the trademark Monkees-style, jump-cut editing and sarcastic line readings. Oh, and the flying saucer in the wild west ghost town setting.

Interestingly, the spots are Tork-free.

Click here to see the first one. Click here to see the second.

Posted by Jeff at 05:40 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Mark my words: Someday - maybe not next week or next month or next year - but soon, this gadget will be entered as evidence in a court of law:



BottleSpy is the world's first counting bottle beer opener. It keeps track of every single bottled beverage that you open and displays a running total on its digital display screen. So if you manage to break your all time record the BottleSpy willl hold all he proof that you need.

Keep Track Of Your Bottles For Just £6.95

Main Features

* Hard wearing durable plastic

* Reset button

* Batteries included

* Clear readable digital display

* Power saving sleep mode after 15 minutes of inactivity

This is a highly simple but effective device. Every time you open a bottle with the BottleSpy it will store and display the total number of drinks consumed to date. This is great for confirming exactly how many bottles you have managed to consume, and maybe to alert you of the fact that you need to call it a day or slow down a bit.

And to think people are worried about domestic terrorism spying. This is far more insidious.

If they ever put a motion-sensitive voice activation chip that can be programmed to nag you about your drinking, we're all screwed.

Posted by Jeff at 04:49 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack



Had a nice pre-Father's Day breakfast with the Salad Clan at Cracker Barrel on Saturday morning.


You know you've either ordered too much food or you're with a large party when it takes three servers to bring your grub.


I had Eggs in a Basket.

"Dad, that looks just like the eggs in 'Moonstruck'!" Salad Boy said.

It was his first obscure reference of the day and it wasn't even noon yet.

I've raised the lad well.

There was one sign outside that got my attention:


Wonder what kind of camouflage you need to hunt rocking chair?

Meanwhile, the glaring oxymoron of the day was:


No wiping?

Mmmm. That is magic.

Posted by Jeff at 08:35 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


The No. 3 movie in the country over the weekend?

Shockingly, it wasn't "An Inconvenient Truth."

It was "The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift" at $24 million.

I love it when gearheads show up to the box office to punish an illogical Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock time travel romance.


That box office result certainly explains the sticker I saw on the car above last week:


Oh, you're drifting, my friend. More than you know.

Can "The Fast and The Furious: Still Living With My Parents In Valrico" be the next title in the franchise?

Posted by Jeff at 08:11 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 17, 2006


Salad Mother-In-Law picked up a new roommate this week:


Kasey Muehlnickel, age 4 months.*

Salad Boy appears a little taken with him.


*Attractive carrying case not included.

Posted by Jeff at 01:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


FezHead.jpg In the grand traditon of The Sombrero Project (and its subsequent parts (Dos, Tres and Quatro and Cinco and Part Seis), as well as The Helmet Project, The King Project, the Hulk Hands Project and the Mullet Project comes a new endeavor: The Fez Project.

We got a bunch of fezzes (fezzi?) in a press kit the other day from the Shriners.

In less than a day, the project amassed a trove of sometimes fascinating, sometimes hilarious, sometimes disturbing images.

When you think about it, a fez is just a sombrero without a the brim. Everyone looks better in sombrero, and, by corrolary, everyone looks better in a fez.

A few bits of fez trivia I was unaware of:

* Fez is the oldest city of Morocco. As with other Moroccan cities it consists of two parts; the Medina and the Ville Nouvelle. This city was founded in the 9th century by the first Muslim dynasty to rule Morocco, the Idrissids. Since then Fez has always played a pivotal role in the history of Morocco, right up to the revolt against the French.

* Most Fassis - the people of Fes - continue to live in in the Medina-city Fes-el-Bali instead of moving to the Ville Nouvelle; the modern urban and more European city.

* During the reign of the Sultan Mahmud Khan II (1808-39), a European code of dress gradually replaced the traditional robes worn by members of the Ottoman court. The change in costume was soon emulated by the public and senior civil servants, followed by the members of the ruling intelligentsia and the emancipated classes throughout the Turkish Empire. While European style coats and trousers were gradually adopted, this change did not extend to headwear. Peaked or broad brimmed headdresses such as the top hat did not meet the Islamic requirement that men should press their heads to the ground when praying. Accordingly the Sultan issued a firman (royal decree) that the checheya headgear in a modified form would become part of the formal attire of the Turkish Empire irrespective of his subjects' religious sects or milets.

* The checheya had many names and shapes. In Istanbul it was called a fez, fezzi, or "phecy" while the modern Egyptian version was called a tarboosh, deriving from the Persian words 'sar' meaning head and 'poosh' meaning cover. It was basically a brimless, cone-shaped, flat-topped hat made of felt. Originating in Fez, Morocco, the earliest variety was in the form of a bonnet with a long turban wound around it which could be white, red or black. When it was adopted in Istanbul the bonnet was modified. At first it was rounded, then, some time later, lengthened and subsequently shortened. At some point the turban was eliminated and the color of the checheya stuck to red. The fez gets it distinctive red hue from a dye collected from the bright red berries of the Turkish kizziljiek (Cornus mas) - a cousin to the common American dogwood (Cornus florida).

* The red fez with blue tassel was the standard headdress of the Turkish Army from the 1840s until the introduction of a khaki service dress and peakless sun helmet in 1910. The only significant exceptions were cavalry and some artillery units who wore a lambskin hat with coloured cloth tops. Albanian levies wore a white version of the fez.

AkbarAndJeff.gif* Western cartoons are known to use the fez as a symbol of relaxation. Characters are shown wearing a fez often while lying in a hammock on vacation or just relaxing after a hard day of work. This curious imagery is apparently a throwback to the late 19th century English practice of men wearing a loose fitting "smoking jacket" and braided fez-like headdress when relaxing informally in the evenings. Punch cartoons of the period frequently portray middle-class male figures dressed in this fashion. More recent examples are seen in the Tom and Jerry (MGM) and The Ren and Stimpy Show all featuring fezzes. Norm the Genie from the Fairly Oddparents wears a fez. The comic strip characters Akbar and Jeff from Life in Hell were known for sporting fezzes.

You can see the entire Fez Project by clicking here.

A few highlights:








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June 16, 2006


Father's Day is approaching. Which means one thing: the Fourth of July fireworks tents are going up in parking lots of crappy strip malls all over the Bay area.

This excites me. Why? Because my New Year's fireworks were so unbelievably lame. I can feel redemption at hand.

So you can understand my glee when a Phantom Fireworks ad appeared on my desk at work the other day.

These people know me so well.


I am all about blowing up things within the confines of my driveway.

Maybe my co-worker Karla is right: perhaps I am a closeted redneck.

Pickup truck. Check.

NASCAR fan. Check.

Listen to country music. Check.

Gardening and cooking enthusiast?

Guess not. Better luck next time, Karla.

So what's for sale at Phantom this year?


Ah, the "Fear No Evil" package. For absolutely no charge at all, it comes with "Hear No Evil" tinnitus that lasts for about two weeks after you fire these bad boys off.

Love the Special Ops tactical assault image on the side.

The message here: These are the guys you'll see if you fire these at your neighbors.


Here's something you don't see every day: a beer themed explosive. I bet the folks at Miller and Miller Lite are enjoying having their fonts ripped off for the Brew-Ha-Ha nameplate on the side.

As for the soda, I think I'll pass. Unless it causes you to make your own fireworks, if you get my drift.


Who's this for? Mariah Carey?

This marks the first time I've seen "bling" printed on the side of one of these. Maybe next year we can look forward to a package of "Ridin' Dirty" mortar shells.


Um, guys? We already killed Zarqawi. You can put away your bunker busters now.


Nice. Just the explosive that the guy addicted to lame Cinemax skin-flicks needs. The green skin and red hair gives her a Captain-Kirk-horny-for-space-skank feel.

If you still don't get the message, read the caution tag on the side:


Yes, but only if you jump over it after you light it.

Still, it's a more subtle name than the one that was in the New Year's assortment I bought at Costco:


Talk about ridin' dirty.

Posted by Jeff at 08:40 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 14, 2006


Saw this at 7-Eleven during lunch:


Oh man. Superman Slurpees.

There are some things I cannot resist.

A Slurpee in a refillable cup made in the shape of Superman's emblem? That's like heroin for me.


My friend Rommie and I had to have one each.

When I shot this photo, the cashier behind the counter had her back to us.

"Wow. I just saw a flash of lightning real close," she said, not taking into account it might have been a camera flash.

Then she saw me trying to take a photo of something else in the store.

"Nope, can't do that," she said.

"You can't?"


"I'm sorry," I told her. "I was unaware that 7-Eleven had a strict photographic policy."

"I've been here 18 years and we've never allowed that," she said.

When we got back in my truck, Rommie said, "The hidden nugget in that statement is that she's worked there for 18 years."

What was I trying to photograph?


A bag of Doritos.

Well, not just any bag of Doritos.


I had no idea that Superman could be rendered defenseless by the application of artificial guacamole flavoring.

You learn something every day.

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Made a litle proposal in today's Flavor section.

The germ of the gyst of the essence, in a nutshell: You can have America's Big Gulps and Super Size Fries when you pry them from our cold, dead, greasy hands.

You can read the story here. And you can sign an online petition here.

Posted by Jeff at 08:50 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack



The best Tampa Bay-area blog you should be reading: Bike Stories.

Alan Snel, the Ambassadorial Runner of New Paltz, N.Y., tours the Tampa area on the perch of his bicycle, chronicling lots of great sights, and not-so-great-ones.

As Al puts it:

I believe in one central assumption -- the world would be a better place if more people lived more of their lives on a bike. You see the world in a more intimate way, make connections with life around you and celebrate life. The bicycle makes you feel like you can fly.

The photo above, taken on the Gandy Bridge, is my favorite on the site so far.

The one below, taken outside a soon-to-close Albertson's grocery store, I could have lived without.


Posted by Jeff at 08:37 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


Took some friends the other day to see the sights downtown, such as they are. We were on Davis Islands when we saw a cruise ship leaving Port Tampa.


Ah, cruises. Nothing but endless buffets and drinks with umbrellas in them. So relaxing. Nary a care in the world...



Posted by Jeff at 08:32 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


It's been a while since I posted an update from my Uncle Pete, (yes, the one who was in the paper posing with a potato he grew that was shaped like a moose).

The last one pertained to a glacial slab of melting ice that was creeping down his roofline as the snow was melting.

He's been waiting for the major salmon runs of the year to begin. In the meantime, he's been sending back plenty of shots of wildlife and foliage.

The latest came yesterday:


Yesterday Morning, in front of our house, she let me know those were not her Good Earings, they were just Zircons, saving the real Diamonds for when she Dates~~~!!!

Has not lost her winter coat. She evidently was tagged by the Fish & Game.


Just for fun. It's hard not to get a pix while they are grazing.

Every year Pete and his wife Cecile go back to their homestead, they have to replant the flowers that make their property look so spectacular.


Did I say planting?


That may have been a bit of an understatement.


Pete even plants some of his Florida hibiscus, which he lovingly cross-polinates to make new species.


Still, thoughts of "combat fishing" on the Kenai Peninsula are never far from his mind.


Neither are the thoughts of bear.

This one made the papers. It was killed not far from his homestead.


Ice, ice, baby, Part Deux.

Ice, ice, baby.

Winter's coming. Time to head south.

Space invaders.

A little snack on the porch.

The salmon don't stand a chance.

Fish tales. Big time.

The Last Fuzzy Slipper Frontier.

There's a bar in them thar country.

Flowers are a-bloomin'.

The fog rolls in.

Moose intruder.

On their way home.

Sunsets, salmon and civil ceremonies.

Volcanoes, churches and halibut.

Eagle tree, limb by limb.

A fantasy RV for The Last Frontier.

Heading north to the homestead.

Publicizing moose-shaped tubers.

Posted by Jeff at 07:58 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 13, 2006


Got this e-mail last night from a friend I met last month in Berkeley:

From: Kristyna
Sent: Mon 6/12/2006 11:52 PM
Subject: so what's a food writer write about during hurricane season?

I'm thinking, the best in bottled water, how to make a gourmet meal out of saltines and no-electricity meals you can whip up in 5 minutes.

Hope you are doing OK. Or does this stuff even phase you guys anymore. Here in Wisconsin they've made it sound as if Florida is about to fall into the ocean.

This is the kind of respect you get as a food writer. Nothing but stereotypes. I'm surprised only in that she didn't mention an apron.

About the "falling into the ocean" part, she's right. The national media have been covering (Just One-Calorie) Hurricane Alberto as if it was "Katrina II, The Revenge."

I assured Kris that we food writers have things other than hurricanes to write about and that life was going on normally.

From: Houck, Jeff B.
Sent: Tue 6/13/2006 7:12 AM
To: Kristyna
Subject: RE: so what's a food writer write about during hurricane season?

Hurricanes are to Florida what snow is to Wisconsin. You pay attention when a bad storm comes along, but that's about it.

Twenty four hours earlier, well, maybe not so much.


The drainage field in my back yard here at Casa Del Ensalada was turning into a bathtub. Quickly.

Things got so bad, I temporarily considered referring to Tampa as "Chocolate City."

Then I regained my senses.


Driving was no picnic on Monday. Many intersections were filled with water. Trees were down. And traffic lights were hit-and-miss. Motoring on the Crosstown Expressway (above) was no party. Can't wait until we get up on that elevated portion when a microburst comes barreling through. Should make a nice bonfire when a gas truck goes blowing over the side. Nice plan, FDOT.

That's not to say there wasn't damage and injuries. Limbs have been pried from their trees and then removed promptly. Someone made an incorrect decision to fly a tiny plane into the storm. That decision didn't end so well. Oh, and a barge also made a run for it like a toddler at the mall.

All that's a distant memory now.


This feeder band passed through about an hour ago. Any time you see blue sky in a hurricane situation, it usually means the storm is pretty much over. Either that, or you're on the Andrea Gail and about to lose your life.


This was more about the former, rather than the latter. All the big rain seems to be bugging out.

I think I know what would Debbie Downer say.


"Guess it's time to make way for the mosquitoes and malaria."

What will be this storm's lasting legacy?

Bad television.


I wonder if FEMA will let me file a claim for having had to watch this piece of crap last night during a particularly fierce patch of drizzle?

Posted by Jeff at 08:04 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 12, 2006



Could it really be the third season of storm coverage in the Salad Bowl?

Seems like only yesterday I started exploiting mayhem for cheap site traffic.

Now we've christened another year with Tropical Storm Alberto, which is not a girl of a tropical depression, not yet a woman of a hurricane.


Packing winds no stronger than a hair dryer, it nonetheless has dumped some much needed rain on Florida.

And by "Florida," I mean my lawn.

Damn thing is so dry in places, it technically qualifies as shreaded wheat.


Something about seeing those flaming-red pustules in the middle of the Gulf gives me the chills.

It's like seeing Woogie's boil-filled face in "There's Something About Mary." It's fascinating and repulsive at the same time.


Seeing the red over Bloomingdale gives me the cool, tingling sensation that I won't have to water my lawn for a week.

Good times.

It helps that I love the kind of rain that comes with a storm like this. It isn't the ever-present vermicelli rain I lived with in Anchorage or the runny-nose rain of Juneau. This is silver dollar pancake rain, the kind that takes only one drop to saturate 5 layers of clothing.

There's no use running in it. That only accelerates the rain you get all over you when you're trying to make your way from the car to the front door.

At a certain point, just walk, you know? It's only water, fer crissakes. People act sometimes like it's nuclear acid falling from the skies.


Where's Alberto headed? To Florida's armpit, of course. Lovely part of the state, but metaphorically, intellectually and physically, it is the armpit. If you've ever driven through Chiefland - no one ever stops - you know of which I speak.

Stay tuned to Side Salad for all your Tropical Storm Alberto blogging. I'll post photos as they become post-worthy.

Posted by Jeff at 07:55 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

June 10, 2006



We had some friends come in from out of town this weekend, so we took them to the Florida Aquarium.

Even at 17 bucks for an adult admission, it's still a pretty good afternoon's entertainment.

We saw a lot of beautiful things, including:











We also saw some less than attractive things. Like this amberjack that was swimming in the shark tank:


Next time you think you've had a hard week, think of it this way: At least you're not swimming in a shark tank creating chum with your exposed flesh.

Oh, and there was another bit of unpleasantness at the shark tank.

Salad Wife was attacked by a Middle-Age Spike-Haired Asszilla:


This woman insisted on bending her ass over in front of my wife's face and uttering the following words in a very loud voice to the people in her group:

"I'm 49 and I want to be an oceanographer, an attorney and a journalist. I'll be dead in 25 more years.''


Little did she know how close she came to death this afternoon.

Salad Wife may be displaying a smile, but it's the same kind of smile a Nurse Shark displays right before it tears into the flesh of its prey.

With a retribution killing pretty much out of the question, we decided to get her back with a drive-by group assing:


Take that, Asszilla.

Posted by Jeff at 09:11 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 08, 2006



A couple weeks back, I posted photos of my encounter with a couple of sumo wrestlers.

My Friday Extra cover story "Diaper Genies" - which hits print on Friday - is already online.

You can also see the video we shot for the package.

I'm not proud of my behavior, especially in regard to the stuffing of the bear claw. But I do what I'm told and I'm told to make the funny. So I try. So there.

I am proud, however, to be the first in Tribune history, I believe, to get the words, "man-boob" and "sumo hiney" in the paper. That I did it simultaneously can only be described as a near-miracle.


Thank you, thank you very much. My mother is very proud.

An update: The Sumo League canceled its Tampa show. There's no truth to the rumor that it was because of my bear claw mauling.

Posted by Jeff at 08:25 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack



I'd just like to thank Abu Musab al-Zarqawi for taking one for the team.

Not only has he made it easier to fill up the Salad Titan today, he also provided one of the few moments of terrorist-related humor ever caught on tape.

In an unrelated bit of irony, the Florida manatee has been upgraded to "threatened" instead of "on the brink of extinction."

Man, if Zarqawi had only had a plate.

Posted by Jeff at 08:07 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack



Story of the day:

TAMPA - A federal judge, apparently irate at attorneys who could not agree on the slightest details of a lawsuit, has ordered them to resolve their latest dispute the old fashioned way - a round of rock-paper-scissors.

The attorneys in the case may want to do some homework in advance.

The World RPS (Rock, Paper, Scissors) Society offers some interesting observations about the nature of contestants, including:

Studying Your Opponent Because RPS is a game of wits, it’s crucial to know your opponent. Does he have noticeable tells? What strategy has she used in the past? Does he throw Rock when he’s angry? Can I make her lose her concentration?

The Character of Rock
Rock, represented by a closed fist, is commonly perceived as the most aggressive throw. It taps into memories of fist fights, tall and unmoving mountains, rugged boulders and the stone ax of the caveman. Without realizing it, most players think of Rock as a weapon and will fall back on it for protection when other strategies appear to be failing.

The Character of Scissors
Scissors are a tool. As children, we use them to cut construction paper for craft projects. As adults, we may cut cloth for clothing or use scissors to open plastic packaging. Scissors are associated with industry, craft work, making things. There is still a certain amount of aggression associated with scissors; they are, after all, sharp and dangerous implements. Scissors, however, represent aggression that is controlled, contained, re-channeled into something constructive. In RPS, scissors are often perceived as a clever or crafty throw, a well-planned outflanking maneuver. As such, players are more likely to use scissors when they are confident or winning.

The Character of Paper
Paper is often considered the most subtle throw. There is nothing aggressive about the limp documents that move through our desks and offices. Even the gesture used to represent paper is peaceful – an open palm like that used in a salute or handshake. Historically, an open palm has been a sign of friendship and peace because an open hand cannot hold a weapon. Some players, who unconsciously perceive Paper as weak or a sign of surrender, will shy away from using it entirely or drop it from their game when they are falling behind. On the other hand, Paper also connects with a player’s perceptions about writing. There is a quiet power in the printed word. It has the ability to lay off thousands of employees, declare war against nations, spread scandal or confess love. Paper, in short, has power over masses. The fate of the entire world is determined by print. As such, some players perceive Paper as a subtle attack, the victory of modern culture over barbarism. Such players may use Paper to assert their superiority and dignity.

Posted by Jeff at 07:44 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 06, 2006


I watched a great show on the National Geographic Channel the other night about Stonehenge.

One thing I didn't know: Not far away is a place known as Woodhenge. That one was made of - you guessed it - wood. The wood is gone, so they created a replica with concrete. But they still call it Woodhenge. Concretehenge lacked a certain ring.


Other things I hadn't realized:

* Excavations underneath the stones have revealed artifacts, like antler horns, carbon dated at 4,000 years ago. Bodies found buried nearby are of the same age. This rules out the Druids, as well as the Romans who followed them. This even pre-dates immigrant settlers from Europe. That leaves a primative people known as Ancient Britons, who lived at the start of the bronze age.

* The large stones come from 20 miles away. Investigation of the smaller stones show that they are found 200 miles away in S.W. Wales.

* People who study architecture say it was probably a place of worship. Towering over the people as it did, it inspired a sense of something larger than themselves.

* The closing segment investigated a mass grave of skeletons found in the area. Using tests on the enamel of the teeth, scientists are able to determine where these people grew up. It was in Wales, the location of the smaller Bluestones.

What, then, shall history make of the impressive henge assembled in my newsroom?



Erected in honor of a former employee who left a substantial amount of remuneration behind in his desk, Coinhenge has endured for more than a month.


Let the pagan dance ritual begin!

Posted by Jeff at 07:58 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Funny story about the number 666. Turns out it's a commonly called phone number. For babies.


When I was first getting involved with telecom I worked for a good, upstanding Jesuit university in San Francisco in the early 90s. They were wisely replacing their ancient telephone system, one of the last large rotary dial key systems that was left in the city. Putting in a modern PBX meant new luxuries like direct incoming numbers for staff and faculty, and since the on-campus dorms were getting put on the new system too, a very large block of consecutive DID numbers were requested from the local phone company. There was only one existing prefix in the area with enough capacity, or so we were told. But I know I wasn’t the only one who wondered if someone at Pacific Bell must have been having a good laugh as the Catholic university got assigned numbers in the 666 prefix.

I was just a technician at the time but I recall some of the executives at the university being very unhappy with that arrangement. If memory serves, PacBell would only create a new prefix for the university for some astronomical fee, which the school felt was gouging and wasn’t willing to cough up. (I notice something has given way over the years though, as they do now have a less controversial prefix.)

As we got ready to turn on the new system we noticed that the 6000 number range was one of ours, and my boss, the telecom manager, decided to take the number 666-6666 for his own. I thought that was kind of a neat idea, and went for 666-6667 myself.

As you can likely imagine, there were many jokes and good times to be had with these numbers. And some weird lunatic prank calls, though not a lot. But what drove my boss crazy most of all about having that fateful number was the amazing number of “googoo gaagaa” calls he received. You know, those calls you get when an infant has gotten a phone off the hook and has inadvertently dialed you up and is cooing and babbling into the phone? Well, maybe you don’t, but trust me, if you ever get a phone number with all of the same digits, you will. Apparently pounding repeatedly on the 6 button is a fairly easy thing for a baby to do.

All of which reminded me of a funny column I read once in the Portland Oregonian's features section that goofed on the number 666.

I couldn't find that column online, but I did find an approximate version in honor of today's less-than-substantive news topic:

Approximate number of the Beast

Roman numeral of the Beast

6, uh... what was that number again?
Number of the Blonde Beast

Area code of the Beast

ZIP code of the Beast

666 mph
Speed limit of the Beast

Retail price of the Beast

Price of the Beast, plus sales tax

Price of the Beast,
with accessories and replacement soul

Wal Mart price of the Beast

Next week's Wal Mart price of the Beast

Phillips 666
Gasoline of the Beast

Route 666
Roadway of the Beast

666 F
Oven temperature for roast Beast

Retirement plan of the Beast

666 mg
Recommended Minimum Daily Requirement of Beast

6.66 %
5 year CD interest rate at First Beast of Hell National Bank ($666 minimum deposit.)

Billing rate of Beast's lawyer

Lotus 6-6-6
Spreadsheet of the Beast

BMW of the Beast

Next-door neighbor of the Beast

Posted by Jeff at 07:33 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 05, 2006


Last I checked, Nelly "I'm Like A Bird" Furtado looked like this:


This morning, Salad Boy was watching MTV while gnawing on some Pop Tarts. Someone using the name Nelly Furtado came onscreen looking like this:


She was doing a white girl's version of rapping lyrics to a song called "Promiscuous Girl."

She was launching such verbal gems such as:

You expect me to just let you hit it
But will you still respect me if you get it

Oh, and this batch of iambic pentameter:

Promiscuous boy
You already know
That I’m all yours
What you waiting for?

She also was grinding her Furtado against a guy named Timbaland. It was quite hilarious.

What's next? Snoop and Lisa Loeb?

I love the name Timbaland, by the way. It's so street, if by street you mean catalog order.

I guess the name Errol Postale was taken.

An aside: doesn't a furtado sound like a Taco Bell value menu item?

Posted by Jeff at 08:21 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


Just when I think that I'm a twisted individual, one who would think of the phrase "Pontius Pilates" at 7:36 a.m. on a Monday morning, I do a Google search and find that I am not the first.

Guess I'll just take two Sanhedrin P.M. and go back to bed.

Or else lay off the coffee.

Posted by Jeff at 07:46 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 01, 2006



I laughed so hard at the Pie Jousting video and audio clips, milk shot out my nose.

And I wasn't even drinking any at the time.

Posted by Jeff at 08:10 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


We're a couple weeks shy of Salad Boy's 11th birthday.

The number is meaningless. He's already a teenager.

How do I know?

He's trying to drain our bank account.

His willing accomplice: Abercrombie & Fitch.


We just so happened to traipse through A&F last weekend with Salad Wife and Salad Mother-In-Law.

Of course he looked adorable in everything. That's how it works at Abercrombie & Fitch.

Then before you know it, you've spent $43 on two t-shirts you could have gotten at Goodwill three years earlier.


I persuaded him to not wear this shirt the first day at summer camp.

"Pace yourself,'' I advised.

He begrudgingly obliged me.

A few minutes later, after ditching the mother and grandmother units, he and I felt the magnetic attraction of another retail outlet in the mall: the Apple store.


I went in to look for some iPod stuff. Turned around to see him sitting down playing a video game.

By the way, this photo is what Steve Jobs sees in his sweetest dreams: Little white boy with an Abercrombie bag transfixed by the tractor beam of Apple technology.

I'm in so much trouble. Might as well just start handing Salad Boy checks every morning as he heads out the door.

Posted by Jeff at 07:46 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack