Standercizing: The New Workout Craze

Heed the sage words of Brian!I’m writing this standing up. That’s right, standing up. Why the heck am I doing that, you ask? Well the latest word from the ever changing, constantly surprising medical research community is that standing up may be every bit as important in determining the size of your waist line as regular exercise. Seriously! But don’t take my word for it, here’s an except of the stunning revelation:

“In most cases, exercise alone, according to a team of scientists at the University of Missouri, isn’t enough to take off those added pounds. The problem, they say, is that all the stuff we’ve heard the last few years about weight control left one key factor out of the equation. When we sit, the researchers found, the enzymes that are responsible for burning fat just shut down… [In tests] After the animals remained seated for several hours, ‘the enzyme was suppressed down to 10 percent of normal,’ Hamilton said. ‘It’s just virtually shut off.’

That’s right, sitting on your posterior may be why that jelly donut you had in the break room is now taking out a mortgage on a lovely little 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom cellulite ripple on your thighs. (The thighs is one place the subprime mortgage crisis hasn’t reached yet.)

But could losing pounds be as simple as standing around like an angst-filled, high schooler in the mall? I’ve decided to check it out in the days since I read the article. Instead of vegging out in the evening on the couch wasting my time watching crummy television programming, I’ve been standing up, wasting my time watching crummy television programming. And you know what? I have noticed a few subtle differences. To begin with, there’s no convenient place to stand and watch the boob tube in my living room.

After the end of first evening, I noticed my lower back and my neck were aching. That wasn’t terribly surprising. Part of my IT geek union membership involves an aptitude for endurance slouching. (The union better not find out about all this standing and good posture, they may revoke my membership.) More importantly, I slept like a log that night. Petrified wood. We’re talking some seriously awesome sleep. The kind of sleep that makes waking feel like crawling out of a warm, deep, fuzzy hole. The only problem with sleep like that is you gotta wake up sometime. If it weren’t for work, I think I had another four hours in me.

In the following days, I also notice the scale seemed to be reading slightly lower figures than normal. However, I don’t know if I can attribute it to standing or to lack of exercise. Due to a recent case of illness, my work out regimen was temporarily put on hold. And as you probably know with muscles, if you don’t use ‘em you lose ‘em. So it’s a toss up. And it probably doesn’t matter anyway, because a boozy weekend virtually erased any losses in the weight department. In either case, my sleep continued to be great.

Another interesting thing happens when you exercise the erectus ability we inherited from homo erectus. You tend to move around a lot. Before you know it, you be absentmindedly doing little chores that you would normally ignore whilst crashed on the couch. Even if you’re in the zombie-coma state that often accompanies a day spent in front of a computer screen swigging coffee, I noticed that after about 10 or 15 minutes, you kinda wake up and feel a bit more energetic. This also makes sense. I noticed when putting together the stats for my post on the exercise prospects of the Nintendo Wii that my heart rate sitting down was as much as 20 BPM less than it was while standing.

So is standing up the new Atkins Diet? I’m gonna go out on a limb and say no. Though I am trying to come up with an entire line of gimmicky products to sell to gullible people who slavishly follow fad diets. (Got any ideas?) I’m calling these people “Standercizers”. (I’m willing to license the term “Standercize” for a small fee! Hell, I’ll even throw in some neon 80’s leg warmers!) Seriously though, while I don’t see standing up a realistic way of losing weight or gaining fitness, I’m going to keep doing it as long as I keep getting the awesome sleep.

The more important issue here is not whether or not standing will actually make you lose weight. It’s about how incredibly fat and lazy have people have to be to not spend any time standing up during the day. When doctors have to advise you to stand up, much less work out, there’s a problem. (I’m envisioning a gym full of large sweaty people on recumbent exercise bikes here, and it isn’t pleasant!) Stand up people! Wait, don’t just stand, Standercize!

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Make The Most Of Your Holiday: Get Sick

How To Be Idle at Amazon“Michael, I did nothing. I did absolutely nothing, and it was everything that I thought it could be.”

- Peter Gibbons, Office Space

I’m usually one of those annoying types that enjoys bragging about never getting sick to perpetually sniffly coworkers. As you would expect, I actually do catch a bug on rare occasions. I’m usually good for one stop-you-in-your-tracks illness a year. Invariably it happens right over the top of a major holiday. I don’t really know why, perhaps it’s the colder weather. But if I haven’t come down with something by New Year’s Day, the smart money says that I’m in the clear until Halloween.

As I write this, I’m wrapping up day six of a yet-unfinished bout with a lovely little case of bronchitis, and, added at the very last minute, special guest pink eye. So if the deep congested coughs weren’t off-putting enough, my zombie eye should do the trick. So that means this year’s ill-iday was Thanksgiving. It seems like such a waste, doesn’t it? The best food day of the year, and you’re stuck eating chicken noodle soup, crashed out on the couch watching the peerlessly poor programming that is holiday television. (Is it just me, or does TV just suck like a Dyson vacuum these days? I didn’t any loss of suction on the tube this whole week.)

But then it occurred to me that actually being sick on a holiday is the ultimate in efficiency from a work perspective. You kill two birds with one stone; a sick day and a holiday day, buy one, get one free! And you don’t get crap about being gone for being sick, because everybody else was gone for the holiday. You didn’t miss anything, and there will be no extra catch up work or email to return. And no accusations about faking it to go golfing or fishing. (Is there anything more irritating than that? It makes you want to want to sneeze on their keyboard and wipe your clammy, sickly hands on their mouse.)

But wait yet it gets better. Sometimes holiday festivities are great fun and you look forward to them. More often though, its the same drive to the same place to eat the same food and talk about the same things with the same people as you have for years. While you don’t probably loathe the experience, the thought probably crosses your time that you’d much rather play computer games in your underwear all day instead. Well, if you’re sick, you get to live that dream and with everyone’s blessing. They usual suspects don’t want to catch whatever nasty thing is causing your hacking cough and running nose. Everybody’s happy! (And you’ll probably find you cough a lot less while engrossed in a good game, than you would listening to the same family argument.) And triple word score if you get a doggie bag!

Ever notice that after a festive holiday you come back to work more worn out than when you left? You won’t have that problem if you spend 18 hours of the day in the dark green comatose land of Nyquil. In spite of the midnight coughing fits and afternoon headaches, I’ve never been more relaxed and more rested than I have been this week.

This all brings to mind a book I read (and thoroughly enjoyed) earlier this year, How to Be Idle: A Loafer’s Manifesto. To sum it up in a few words, the book is advocates that everyone increase his or her indulgence in rest and relaxation, noting the decided lack of down time or personal time in modern western society. And it does this with a humorous tongue-in-cheek style. And as luck would have it, this book has a chapter on illness. In it, author Tom Hodgkinson, relates how illness gives one the opportunity to take a break, rest up and enjoy life. But as society evolves, this opportunity is being taken away by the abundance of convenient symptom-suppressing pills and the expectation that we’ll use them and get right back to work. Being sick on a holiday, however, completely removes the pressure to do anything productive. (Without digging too deep into the book, I suspect that readers of my blog will find it to be a great, entertaining read.)

I’m not naive enough to think that this book, or my mention of it will be enough to reverse the giant cogs of progress. People will get colds, they will pop some pills, and they will sniffle through their day in the office under the approving eye of management. All I’m saying is that you might consider hanging out in the doctors office the a day or two before a public holiday if you really want to have a good holiday. On second thought, just fake it, people will probably assume you are anyway!

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On Boot-Licking, Name-Dropping And Success

Tom Presenting Brian Autographed Haint PosterIn a recent cigar review, a reader left a comment oozing scorn that accused me of licking the boots of cigar industry insiders and dropping names. You could just feel the pulsing, jealous ire of said reader, as he commanded me to never again review anything but average cigars that are always available, inexpensively priced and widely smoked. If he couldn’t find it or afford it, I shouldn’t smoke it and write about it.

Wow. All I can say is… Awesome! I’ve gotten the blogging world’s equivalent of hate mail! As you probably are well aware, it’s very easy to write things that people don’t care about and don’t read. It’s slightly more difficult to write things that people will read and find pretty good. But to bring somebody to a twitching, teeth-gnashing rage without discussing obvious things like politics and religion (and sometimes the Great Pumpkin), well that just takes skill! To celebrate, I’m going to light up the rarest, most expensive cigar that a person with a famous name handed to me for free. (I’m having trouble coming up with which cigar that’d be, as I don’t actually mingle all that much with people are well known. I guess that RTDA Stradivarius might do the trick. Mmmm… 34 dollar cigar I didn’t pay for…)

Seriously though, I make a point of finding cigars that are either new, or new to me and reviewing them. And when I can get my hands on a pre-release cigar, even better. One of the great things about the cigar industry is that it’s growing. In fact, I’ve heard that the cigar industry is now at around 80% of its size during the boom of 1990’s. New things are coming out all the time, and from completely new cigar manufacturers. Isn’t it useful to be able to read about these cigars before you buy them? I know I search for cigar reviews all the time before pulling the trigger on a “deal” I come across to make sure it’s actually a deal. Also, how are you going to find out about new cigars out there if nobody ever reviews anything new or unusual? Just because you can’t find a cigar right now, doesn’t mean it won’t be in every store in a month or two! And just because a cigar is out of your price range doesn’t mean it’s out of everyone’s price range. (You aren’t everyone, no matter how big your waist size gets!)

As to the name dropping aspect of the tirade, I find that even more surprising. The thing I like the most about the cigar industry (well, after the cigars, that is), is that it’s full of unpretentious, friendly, down-to-earth people, that are very accessible. I mean, how the hell else would I have met so many of them? The heads of cigar companies come to herfs and cigar promotions to meet their customers and talk about their cigars. They mingle, they shake hands, they walk, they talk, they breath… Oh my god, I think they’re people just like you and me! And they’re not behind bullet-proof glass, or surrounded by secret service! If you’re reading this, and you haven’t met a cigar “celebrity” (if that word even applies), I recommend checking out the event calendar at your local brick and mortar. (Or check out this list on Cigar Cylopedia.) They will be there, will you?

So in summary, I’ve met at least a dozen famous cigar people, including such names as Kinky Friedman, Jose Oliva, Lito Gomez, Carlos Torano and Tim Ozgener, by going to cigar events. (I’ve never yet had a cigar celeb travel anywhere just to meet me.) I have a bunch of cigars that I didn’t have to pay for, but will spend hours of my own time to smoke and document for your reference for no reimbursement whatsoever. Please leave your hate mail in the comments below.

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Weekend Realizations

Brian's Random Thoughts: No nutritional value, but tasty!Though I do my very best to avoid it, I found my self thinking this weekend. My wife hadn’t realized I had a free moment to myself, and my mind wandered. And these are the random things that came to mind.

Advertising is sucking the meaning out of our words. I came to this realization as I watched a ridiculous feel-good commercial for some boring product or business. The lyrics to the background music featured the phrase “just another ordinary day miracle“. I’m sorry, but weren’t “miracles” supposed to be rare, amazing occurrences that were difficult, if not impossible to explain using rational or scientific means? I’m sorry, your underdog hockey team winning a prestigious game is not a miracle. It’s just unlikely. And it’s probably the plot for fifty unimaginative sports movies.

I’m seeing this in the cigar world too. At one point, a “premium” cigar would have been a top dollar, high quality cigar, full of rare and well-aged tobacco. Now almost any cigar that’s made by hand with long filler claims the word. So what is a really great cigar to do to distinguish itself in the “premium” forest? The only thing that can be done is to stack up increasingly meaningless words. Hence the new labels “super-premium” and “ultra premium”. If I ever come out with a cigar line, I’m gonna slap “hot-fucking-damn premium cigar” on the label, and outline the words with fire. And since I can’t count on any of those words conveying the desired meaning, I’ll also have a Navy Seal fist-fighting a dragon in front of a massive explosion on the cigar band. (Anybody see the move Idiocracy? I’m totally thinking about it right now.)

If pot is a “gateway drug”, the Nintendo Wii is a gateway activity. Suckered in by the lower price tag and fake scarcity of the Wii, I finally took the plunge and bought one. Holy crap, I love it. It’s the first new game console I’ve purchased in years. And I do mean years. The last brand new console I purchased was a Super Nintendo! I feel a review coming on. But that will have to wait until I’ve given it a good workout. (Or vice versa.)

But it’s dangerous. After a weekend of playing tennis and fishing I’m reminded of when I actually did these things. For real. Outside. And I kinda want to do them again. Its scary to think that around the country there might be chubby, pasty white guys remembering what it was like to be physically active. And emerging from their basements to fish, play baseball and tennis! It been like a zombie movie, only with more mountain dew. That can’t be good for video game sales.

The tasks my wife has for me multiply to fit the my available hours. As I’ve been scaling my weekly work hours down to something that doesn’t make me want to light myself on fire and leap from a freeway overpass, my wife is ramping up the random tasks she expects me to get done. They’re multiplying like guppies unattended. (Or attended. I don’t think presence of an audience makes a difference.) It’s simply not possible to accomplish even half of them, but when I start working on one, she gets excited. She gets a look in her like she’s won an expenses-paid shopping spree. So while I’m trying to complete one task, she’ll rattle off fifteen more that I really must remember to do.

Sound irritating? It is. But the good news is that even she can’t remember all the random chores she comes up with in the heat of the moment. (It really is like blood in the water for a shark.) To maintain sanity, I try to forget them all. The ones I can’t forget are probably the ones that really need doing. Or the ones my wife keeps bringing up. So yeah, the ones that really need doing. I find a similar approach often works in the office. (Use at your own risk.)

It’s been a week since I put up a post. It’s also been a week since I started this post. I really need to get adjusted to the new schedule. This new job is so absorbing that it’s easy to work longer than normal hours. And the convenience of working from home just magnifies that. That’s the danger of working from home: Because you can work anytime, you may just start working all the time!

OK, I’ve got some cigars to smoke, and some reviews to write. And it I think I hear the footsteps of my wife coming heading this way…

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Jury Duty: Pauly Shore Not Included

Happy Shootin’ DudeIf my wife was less organized, there might have been a warrant out for my arrest today. On Monday I was sitting in the office doing the things I do for money and my phone rang. It was my wife with some bad news. “Hey, you have jury duty, remember? You need to call this number after 5:00 PM for instructions,” she said and gave me the number. This seriously couldn’t come at the worst time. I’m juggling two jobs, two blogs and trying to beat a business paperwork deadline at the same time. And I think I might be coming down with a cold. And that’s really gonna make my next cigar review difficult.

Crap. Not only do I not have time to watch a bitter couple slug it out in divorce proceedings or listen to a irresponsible booze hound trying to weasel out of a DUI, I don’t have time to do anything about it. So I was told at the juror check in desk. If I had been on top of things, I could have written in for a deferment.

So I spent the morning weighing my options. I’m not 70 or older and I didn’t bring a wig and a walker with me. Looking around, I don’t see any walkers or people wearing gray wigs, so that’s out. I’m not pregnant, and as much fun as that’d be to fake, I’m not committed enough to shave the goatee to pull it off. No kids either, though don’t people make up kids all the time for tax purposes? I wonder how they do that. (That might come in handy now and then again at tax time. Fake kids: the gift that keeps on giving.) OK, short of pleading with the judge, should I get selected as a juror, I’m stuck here in the jury pool stable, crossing my fingers, and waiting on the roll of some mysterious computerized dice.

At that point, the question became, can I get the entire room to participate in a highly coreographed song and dance routine? Looking around I figured my odds were fifty-fifty. I might make it as far as croud surfing while singing the chorus of Cuban Pete before an angry group of potential jurors give me the beating they’ve wanted to give Pauly Shore for well over a decade. The “chick-chicky boom” would be the sounds of peoples sensible shoes digging into my ribs at high velocity. The odds were better than even that I’d deserve it for that.

So that pretty much left me blogging on my crackberry, feeling irritable and drinking coffee. Speaking of irritability and coffee, I have one big beef with this jury duty thing. I had to pay for coffee while I was there. We’re not talking about fifty cents here, we’re talking Starbucks rates. A buck fifty for a cup of dark water? Gas station quality at best, and none of the froo-froo additives? C’mon! The least you can do is provide us with some caffeine so we can stay awake for all this nonsense. Newsflash, some of us don’t function well at 8 AM without some joe. (For me it’s a lot like being in a different time zone.)

If your going to deprive us of our ability to earn our living for the day, you can at least set up a coffee pot in that huge room I like to call the “juror stable”. Am I really asking too much? Don’t you just hate it when you help someone out and are forced to pay expenses that arise from the effort? “Thanks for showing up! Coffee? Yes, we have some I can sell you!” It’s kind of like asking your friends to come over to help you move, and then when everybody’s worn out and hungry from moving your crap all day, you sell them pizza and beer. With a steep mark-up.

And while we’re discussing things that irritate Brian, here’s another pet peeve. We were informed that we’re not allowed to make or receive phone calls in the juror stable. That means that the ringers should be turned off. And if that weren’t completely obvious, they told us that they should be. No excuses. Of course within 30 seconds of the announcement several phones rang back-to-back at full volume. Within ten minutes the lady behind me answered the phone to say “I can’t talk right now” and proceeded have a short conversation anyway. People, if you really can’t talk, press the damn button that sends the call to voicemail. Don’t answer it, because that means you can talk. It’s not a crime to let a call go to voicemail! You’re paying for it, use it. People will understand! This sort of brainlessness isn’t limited to the action-packed world of jury selection, I’ve seen (well, heard) the same brilliance in meetings and in movie theaters. Is it too late to implement an IQ test as part of the requirements of getting a cellphone?

And for the love of God, when a phone rings, do something about it. Either answer it or send it to voicemail. Please, please do something to make that obnoxious noise go away. Don’t just sit there staring at the phone, trying to puzzling out where it’s coming from (“Hmm… Is the 541 area code Tuscaloosa? That reminds me I should call Bob…”) while the ringer blares Barbie Girl. Worse still, do not dance to that ringtone you foolishly paid four bucks to download. We don’t want to hear it, we don’t want to see you jam, make it go away, or we’ll make the phone go away. I won’t tell you where, but I can promise you’ll spend a lot more time standing in the future.

Let me tell you, the end of the day could not come soon enough. The good news is that by 3 PM, my civic duty had been fulfilled, and I walked out of the court house a free man, with a slight case of caffeine withdrawal, a headache and cigar in my teeth. But I was happy. I paid good money for this unexpected afternoon of freedom. It cost me eight hours of pay. But I was off the grid, and I was going to make the most of it.

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Are You Smarter Than A Beauty Queen?

Last weekend my hard-herfin’ friend Cigar Jack put up a fun little weekend quiz, and I just couldn’t resist. I just had to see if I could still pass the 8th grade. If I could do that, I could be certain that I’m a bit brighter than this infamous pretty Einstein:

Go on, you know you want to watch it again. It’s the train wreck du jour. She has important things to say about The Iraq. (How much you wanna bet her quarterback boyfriend drives an IROC, and she was thinking about this car when she answered? As in, “when I’m done with this show, my boyfriend and I are heading to the back seat of The IROC.” Just a theory I’m toying with.)

Now that you’ve watched it again (admit it, you watched it twice) and reveled in the brilliance that often accompanies life’s aesthetic lottery, why not head over and try your luck with the 8th grade science quiz? (Unless you’re chicken… Don’t worry, it isn’t an oral exam!)

88% B+!

I got an B+ (88%), which honestly, was probably about as well as I would have done back in the day. How did you do?

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No, It Wasn’t As Good For Me As It Was For You

Happy Shootin’ DudeSunday afternoon I took a what I thought would be a quick break from my on-the-side I.T. consulting gig to pick my wife up from the grocery store. I didn’t want to be gone too long, because I had plenty of work to do and not a great deal of time to get it done in. So I rushed out to the car, hopped in and started driving away without even bothering to light up my customary short-trip Sancho Panza cigarillo. I didn’t get five feet from my parking spot before I felt it. My vehicle was waddling. Yep, shaking it’s hind-quarters like it was a giant, 6-cylinder fiberglass duck.

Some of you have probably already guessed what’s wrong. But my mind was elsewhere. I checked the dash for the emergency break light. It wasn’t lit. But to be sure, I engaged the emergency break and then released it. I drive a few more feet, and nope, that wasn’t it. My vehicle is still wiggling its butt like the driveway was a catwalk. So I try putting it back in park and then putting it back in drive. A few more feet. Nope, more waddling.

Then a scary thought occurs to me. I might have run over something and somehow got it caught between the tire and the car’s body. It could even now be tearing healthy chunks out of the side of my car. (For that thought alone, I’m adding the “crackpot theories” tag to this post.) My car is no beauty, but it’s no red-neck body-by-Bondo affront to the car gods either. And I’d like to keep it nondescriptly normal.

As I walk around the car, I breathe a sigh of relief. No car chunks on the ground. And then I see the culprit: A flat tire. I was literally driving on the rim of the back passenger-side wheel. I’ve changed flats before. In fact I changed a flat on a large rental van in a gravel parking lot in the rain once. No kidding. But I’ve never changed any flat without a jack before, so I went the easy route. I called Triple A (AAA), and asked a neighbor to pick up my wife.

With nothing better to do, I fire up 5 Vegas Gold and wait for the AAA guy to show up. And if there’s one thing to learn from this little anecdote, it’s that you should smoke a cigar while you’re waiting for AAA. You will have the time to finish it! No matter what they say, it will be at least an hour before they show. Don’t sweat it, smoke it. (Another one for the Quotable Brian!) True to form, about five minutes after I finish that mild, but tasty little robusto, the guy drives up.

Fast forward ahead about an hour and a half. I’m at a local shop having the tire looked at. It doesn’t take long for me to spot a little metallic glint near the outward edge of the tread. I’d been nailed. It had to have been the sloppy bastards working on the condo construction next door. When I drove back from the herf the night before, I must have picked up a little present they left in the middle of the road. So the tire guy starts extracting the nail. Inch by inch. And it just keeps coming! And suddenly, it’s threaded! I hadn’t been nailed, I’d been screwed! And despite the evidence to the contrary (the cigar), I wasn’t enjoying this!

But actually, it all worked out as well as you could ask. Everything was sorted out by 7 that evening. Hey, if you’re going to get screwed, what better time than Saturday night? And what better place than at home? And can you beat thirty bucks to cover all the costs? Sure, the rubber broke, but we were able to plug it up just fine before any real damage was caused. OK, I’m out of innuendos (or in-your-end-o’s as a friend of mine used to say), so I’ll leave it there before this post just gets creepy. How was your weekend?

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Tagged: The Things You Can’t Prove Are Lies

Antoni Gaudi’s Sun MosaicOK, I’m back from the 10th circle of hell. Yeah, you read that right, the 10th circle. You’re quite right, there were only nine circles. Until Saddam Hussein started demanding a corner office in the 9th circle. God he’s such a pain. So the devil gave him his old office and built a whole new circle for himself. And he needed some I.T. help. Of course, the devil likes to work with people who both know they are for sale and know what their price tag is. Naturally, that means he hires consultants.

One recommendation. If you’re on your way to hades, by either handbasket or the regular route, don’t forget your MP3 player and your shades. The eternal shrieks of the damned get sort of grating after a while, like an alarm clock left running by a vacationing neighbor, and the hell fire can get kind of bright. Especially if you’re hung over.

Ah yes, I’ve been tagged. I hope this isn’t the payment the red-horned guy was promising me for my work. You can’t ever count on him paying his invoices as agreed.

The Rules
1.) Post the rules first.
2.) If you are tagged you have to tell your faithful blogging public 8 random facts about yourself in a post on your blog. It can be habits, an idea, facts, or just um… stuff.
3.) At the end of your post, choose eight other bloggers you’d like to know something about and tag them.
4.) Leave a comment telling them you’ve tagged them and that they will need to read your post on your blog.
5.) Bend the rules as convenient. (My special addition!)

The Things You Can’t Prove Are Lies

I. I’ve been published at least twice under different pseudonyms. But before you think back on the articles you’ve recently in major publications, it’s only fair I tell you that once was for an underground high school newspaper and the other was for a slightly more high brow (i.e. pretentious) college literature magazine. I still have both.

II. I started seriously enjoying writing in a high school English class. Fed up with all the essay writing, in irritation I wrote a very antagonistic paper as one of my assignments. The plan was to make reading the assignment as much of a pain as it was to write it. As many of my plans do, it backfired; the teacher loved it and started treating me as though I were literary elite. Being the obnoxious bastard I am, I found that the prospect of writing angry for good grades a win-win proposition. I was brimming with pointless teen angst. I aced the class and was put in the advanced class the following year.

In college, to keep it interesting, I made a point of writing my papers in support of whatever view point I thought my professor disagreed with the most or in favor or anything patently absurd. Somehow my textual nettles continued to be well received. And I got pretty good at supporting the unsupportable. (I should have been lawyer!) I was very Swiftian. (Not to be confused with “Swift Boat“.) Of course, I didn’t know it at the time, I was just being sadistic.

III. My crowning achievement in art of the chafing word was contributing three pieces of poetry/prose to the college literary magazine under an ridiculous pseudonym. The incredibly obnoxious ditties made it in and I had the pleasure of hearing one of the editors angrily discussing their inappropriateness. Ah, good times. :)

IV. I’ve been in a small (four seater!) plane when all the electronics went out. In the clouds. I participated in an emergency line of site landing that involved a tight spiral down through a small hole in low cloud cover. Once down, the problem was diagnosed (pilot error), and we got back on and flew the rest of the way to our destination. Same plane, maybe an hour later. Several people still claim to have the “Oh Shit” email I sent them from my Crackberry while I was in the air. Sadly, I don’t.

V. I started smoking cigars with a friend on the Oregon coast in the middle of the night. We’d leave campus after in the evening after classes and arrive well into the night. On the way we’d stop at the “Mecca of Convenience” and pick up some firewood for a bonfire and whatever cigars they had at the counter. They were horrible in the way you would expect a convenience store cigars to be, but an essential part of the evening. (A better cigar probably wouldn’t have burned worth a damn on those gusty nights.) As was the “flaming manhood”, but that’s a story for another day.

VI. I’ve worn a kilt on numerous occasions, but I’m not going to prove it. That will disappoint at least one occasional reader of this blog, as he wants to submit it for Photoshoping on Fark. But I can tell you that I looked dead-sexy. Especially back when I had long hair. Don’t worry, you would agree. (Even if it required adjustments in your blood-alcohol levels.)

VII. I’d much rather be rich than famous. If I suddenly disappear, you’ll know I got my wish. Either that, or I was crushed under a collapsing stack of cigar humidors.

VIII. I won my wife over with my dance moves. Quit laughing, it’s true. She’ll vouch for it. A friend of mine (and at the time, co-worker) from Nigeria and I were really kicking some ass on the floor of a Malaysian dance club when we were approached by my now wife and her friend. The dancing continued well into the early hours of the morning. And again a few weeks later. The rest is very colorful history.

Honestly, I think nearly everybody I know in the blog world has been tagged already. (I was sooo gonna tag Laurie Kendrick, but somebody got to her first.) And the cigar bloggers I know would probably put their lit Arturo Fuentes out on my arm if I tagged them. In keeping with my new rule to bend the rules for my convenience, I’ll let people tag themselves. Wanna be tagged? Leave a comment, and I’ll update this post to make the tagging official. (Brilliant or lazy, you make the call! ;) )

People who have brought this tagging on themselves

  1. Space Chronicles Tiffany

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Wanna Read This Blog? I Need To See Some ID

Well it’s official. This is an adult blog. If you wanna keep reading, you gotta prove to me your at least 17. Or you have a parent looking over your shoulder. (If you’re under 17, you probably do, you just don’t realize it.) For now, I’ll assume your ID is in the mail.

Brian's Random Thoughts, Rated R

I figured there was a good chance that I’d get at least a PG-13. But I didn’t get the rating because of the frequent discussion of cigars and other tobacco products, as I would have expected. I got the naughty rating because of the use of the following words:

  • “hell” – 4 times.
  • “asshole” – 2 times.
  • “pissed” – 1 time. (Which shouldn’t count because I meant “drunk”, damn it!)

(Of course, now my ratings will be even worse. Damn it! Shit!) So apparently, it’s not a very sophisticated rating system, it’s pretty much a website crawler with a dictionary of naughty words. (I could make one. :idea: And I might just if I have the time. Hell yeah.)

But you know you wanna try it out on your blog anyway. You’ll be pissed if you don’t! You can find the blog rater here. And you know, if your blog is coming in a little low on the naughtiness scale, you don’t have to be an asshole about it. It’s pretty easy thing to rectify. (Hell yeah, damn it! ;) ) Enjoy!

(And apologies about this Tourettes post. I swear future posts won’t have so much damn swearing in them. I just want to see if I can get to NC-17.)

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Straight From The GodCast: The 10 Commandments Of The Road

Heed the sage words of Brian!As you’ve probably already heard, week or so ago the Vatican issued a new 10 commandments for drivers. Now I’m no Catholic, but I was intrigued that something as fundamental as the Ten Commandments needed an amendment. Or a sun porch. Or whatever you call an addition to an ancient holy document.

So I read the new commandments, and my first impression is that, well it’s not really anything new. Maybe a reshuffle of the commandment deck, and some carefully worded common sense thrown in to make it hip. Hmm, sez I, not exactly something momentous enough to merit entry on the eternal blog of the heavens. Something’s gotta be up here. So I decided to check it out myself.

(On a long, parenthetical side note, it’s interesting how priorities change in a few thousand years. Killing has really shot up the chart in modern times, jumping from virtual obscurity in the second stone tablet at #6 to the head of the God’s top ten driving list at #1. I guess you could say that killing is the Elvis Presley of the world of traffic sin. Back in the day it was, “Killing? Hmm, yeah, not good, but not quite as bad as those damn false idols and golden cows. And you gotta respect your folks, that’s pretty important too. We’ll fit in killing right after that.” Now the golden cow is nowhere to be found on list. And I guess you’re allowed to be a total ass to your folks too.)

Anyway, back to figuring out what’s up here. Now I’m not one to wear a large hat or resplendent robes, and I’m not very interested in hearing people confess their sins, but I’d say that I’m just as good as the next guy when it comes to picking up the GodCast, when I want to. (Better still when I’m off my meds and hopped up on caffeine.) I guess that has something to do with my Protestant background. And as everybody knows God speaks in King JamesEnglish, which was terribly fortunate for the old King and his people, not so lucky for everyone else. Fortunately for you, dear reader, your friend Brian is fluent in several archaic forms of English (Shakespeare, Bible, some Chaucer, etc.). So here, as heard on the GodCast, are the actual new 10 commandments of the road. Direct from God’s streaming MP3 audio to your eyes, minus the politically correct fiddling and platitudes, served up with a steaming side of my plain English interpretation. Enjoy, and behave!

I. Thou shalt not run the red light, nor shall thou hesitate to drive when mine light is the color of honey.

This one is pretty straight forward and should make sense to anyone. If the light is yellow, get your butt through it. If it’s red, stop, it’s not your turn anymore.

II. Thou shalt not change lanes in an intersection.

This one should also make sense to everyone. I can’t imagine there’s a driver’s manual or written test out there that doesn’t explicitly spell out that you need to stay in your damn lane when you go through an intersection.

III. Thou shalt not change lanes lest thou first use thy turn signal.

I can’t express how much not using a turn signal pisses me off (especially when you just cut me off) without swearing for 5 minutes and breaking something. And since I kind of like the things on my desk, I’ll not get into it. What I can say in a civil tone is that this commandment is so easy to follow. It’s so easy and requires so very little effort, that even the fattest American tourists at Disney World can do it without getting winded. (Sweating may occur, that’s hard to predict.) And yet, for some reason I see this commandment broken daily in my adopted home of Atlanta. Every single day. By people in the prime of health.

IV. Thou shalt not change lanes and use thine brakes immediately upon entry into thy brother’s lane.

This is a classic prick move and a very deadly sin. Clearly there wasn’t enough room for you to change lanes, buddy. If you did this and didn’t your turn signal, not only will you burn in eternal hellfire, you’ll be violated in the most unpleasant ways possible by Saddam Hussein. (He needs company since Satan left him.) Oh and it gets better. You know it’s been hot down there, and you know he hasn’t been wearing deodorant. Think about it.

V. Thou shalt not tailgate.

Unless you’re parked at a ballgame with a cooler full of beer and a blazing hibachi, you better not be tailgating. If you keep it up, sooner or later you will eat steering wheel and go directly to hades. And there, you’ll be tailgated by Saddam’s wild and crazy sons, if you know what I mean.

VI. Thou shalt not leave the space of a chariot between thee and the brother thou followest.

I don’t know what the hell the deal is people who come to a stop a full car length (or more) behind the car ahead of them. I’ve been trying to puzzle that out for a while, and what’s clear is that whatever the motivation for this hoggish behavior, it’s pure evil. Especially when this wicked craft is practiced in a very short turn lane. As punishment, you’ll get to rest on the fiery racks of hades, where you’ll be elongated to the size of the extra car lengths you took up in the turning lane.

VII. Thou shalt not drive at or under the speed limit in the lane of thy heavenly father. For yea, have I provided thee and thine ailing chariot a lane to thy right.

Nobody likes to be stuck driving 53 MPH in the fast lane on the highway behind someone oblivious to the traffic building up behind them. Especially when there is an open lane to the right. Not only is it ridiculous, it causes accidents as people take evasive action not to pulverize the low-speed nincompoop. It becomes a cardinal sin when combined with a proud self-righteousness that you are driving the speed limit and everybody else in the entire world should slow down. Listen buddy, kudos for following the exact letter of a pointless law. Jesus may love that about you, but we kinda think he’d still agree that you’re an asshole. Move over or face an eternity on the highway in hell being force-fed bran muffins and turkish coffee while stuck behind a demonic codger driving 25.

VIII. Thou shalt not pass in the lane of the poor and destitute (the slow lane). To do so is truly wicked and is hateful in mine eye.

Unless you’re stuck behind a breaker of the 7th commandment, passing on the right is unacceptable. There’s a reason why they call the left lane the passing lane. I cannot count the times I’ve nearly been killed by some jackass who passes on the right side because he thinks radar detectors won’t catch him driving 90 if he does it in the slow lane. My life is usually at risk because I’m trying to adhering to the 7th commandment by move over to let the ass-clown pass. (I do this even when I’m in the middle lane, ‘cuz I’m a damn saint. ;) )

IX. Thou shalt not assume that thine time is of more value than that of thy road brother.

This commandment covers tremendous ground, and intentionally requires you, as a driver, to pull your head out of your ass and realize everybody else around you also has important places to be and things to do. Sorry, no special consideration because you drive a nice car. Prick moves covered by this commandment include driving up to the front of a line for an on ramp and forcing your way in, as well as, failing to yield right of way because you hate to bring your convertible to a full stop. Feel free to apply this commandment in any situation you find useful in your driving life.

X. Thou shalt not trouble thy brother with thine driving mistakes, nor wallow like the filthy boar in the mistakes of thy brother.

Talk about saving the best for last. This commandment covers scenarios like the asshole that decides he needs to make a left turn even though he’s in the right lane. And this realization comes only inches before the intersection. Instead of driving on and finding a way to turn around and correct his navigational error, he stops, put on his turn signal, and holds up a whole lane of traffic! (Hey, at least the inconsiderate bastard used the turn signal.) It all boils down to consideration of others. Yeah, you messed up, and yes it will take longer to get where you’re going, but deal with it. The people behind you didn’t mess up, and you have no right to waste their time. The deepest and hottest circle of traffic hell is reserved for you if you do. And you’ll be eternally stuck behind a 90-year old codger driving 15 MPH with his turn signal on for all eternity.

But wait, this commandment is a double header. It also covers the sin of rubbernecking. That’s right, from on-high, the big man is saying, “move along, there’s nothing to see here.” And there isn’t. If you want to see crazy car-related carnage, rent a movie. While you’re on the road your main task is to keep from causing crazy car carnage. Follow the commandments of the road!

Smite-ning Clause (Disclaimer)
Brian is neither a prophet nor a deity. Worshiping him, while likely to be fun and oddly fulfilling, will not result in your getting into heaven. (In fact, it may keep you out.) Brian simply does not have that kind of clout with the man upstairs, nor the size of the hat to intimidate anyone into believing he does. (Brian worship may one day get you into a cigar bar, though, even it does wind up putting you on the express train to a very warm climate.)

Brian has added this “Smite-ning” clause to this post in the hope that it will prevent his next cigar from being lit with heavenly lightning. (Though should that happen, it will fulfill his prediction that he’ll go out with in an explosion of color and sound.) As it so happens, there is a lot of lightning this evening. A lot. And Brian lives in a tall building and works next to a window. This could be his last post ever.

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