Friday, August 5, 2011

Passport Problems

This just in: The Philadelphia Eagles have signed the 44th President of the United States of America, Barack Obama.

Why not? They've got everybody else. Realistically, it would probably have the same results as the Denver Broncos drafting Tim Tebow. Yeah, he'll sell a lot of jerseys and be really popular, but if you put him in a close game, he'll buckle under the pressure, hand the ball off to the other team, personally deliver a signed copy of your playbook to the opposing coaches after he gets back to the bench and then he'll sign a deal that guarantees his team will lose.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Netflix Hate, Google+ Love

Copyright 2014, Travis Ross (Simple Man's Survival Guide)

Instead of Netflix's trademark red envelopes, customers of the company received a big red middle finger via e-mail this week.

My wife and I currently have the plan where we get two DVDs at any time and access to Watch Instantly content, which is essentially the worst B movies from the last 30 years. There are at least 30 movies like Timecop, Under Siege 2 and The Toxic Avenger for every one Pulp Fiction, and after you get past the handful of quality films, it's like an all-you-can-watch Pauly Shore and Steven Seagal movie buffet, which sounds like something you torture people with rather than ask them to pay for. I can already hear customer customer service reps saying, "Oh, you didn't pay this month. Well, all you can watch is Steven Seagal: Lawman and Bio-Dome until you do. Thanks!"

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Epic Twitter Fail

To revise a line from the wise and sage-like Hunter S. Thompson, I feel the same way about Twitter as I do about herpes.

Copyright 2014, Travis Ross (Simple Man's Survival Guide)
Anthony Weiner had two choices.
Last week I finally caved in and signed up for a Twitter account. Ever since then I've been glued to my computer monitor, refreshing the screen and waiting for either a gateway to the magical Kingdom of Narnia to open up or message to pop up asking me to resign. I would also like to clear the air right now about my willing/unwilling participation in a real/fake sex scandal that did/sadly didn't happen. Don't cry for former Representative Anthony Weiner; he brought that on himself. The only way it could have been more obvious where that picture was going to go is if the button he clicked to post it said, "Click here to show your d**k to the world." Moron.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dr Simple Man or: How I Learned to Start Worrying and Hate the Debt Bomb

If the government insists on dragging out cracking the debt conundrum, we're gonna need to expedite the legalization of pot, because that's the only way I'm gonna be able to focus long enough to learn one of the 14 Chinese languages.

Whenever all of the news about this impending debt bomb that we're on the brink of becomes too much for me, I go to a place in my mind where there's a monkey humping a coconut for a few minutes to clear my thoughts, and then I smile and go on to read about a different subject -- like the mating turtles who shut down the runway at JFK airport.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Warrior Dash, Tough Mudder and Why I May Not Live Through the Year

My wife, myself and some of our friends ran the Warrior Dash this past Saturday, and Wednesday was the first day I didn’t limp up the stairwell at work while fighting back tears. I spent the first half of this week walking in such an awkward manner that I was waiting for someone in my department to throw a frozen bag of peas on my desk and ask how my vasectomy went.

If you don't know what Warrior Dash is, good for you. Stop reading this blog post now and send me an e-mail thanking me for saving you about $200, your pride and full use of your legs for one additional week this year. For those of you with a mild disregard for your life, Warrior Dash is a 3.4 mile run through a hilly, muddy cow pasture littered with about 12 obstacles: climbing walls, cargo nets, guys wearing Speedo shorts two sizes too small, fire pits, mud pits and Marky Mark lookalikes walking the course because they forgot that getting oxygen to all those muscles is an obstacle in and of itself. When we finished, we limped over to the beer tent and then went down to watch everyone else who wished they were dead wade through the mud pit and cross the finish line, including a guy dressed like the Dirt Cheap Chicken. In spite of the pain, it was a pretty fun weekend. But being manly men, we have to keep going one step further until we’re up to our eyeballs in quicksand before we think about tapping the brakes.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Baby Safety Weekend

Last weekend we babyproofed our house, and now I feel like I have to crack the DaVinci Code just to use my toilet.

About one month after our daughter was born, my wife started banging the babyproofing drum, acting like our daughter, whose resume highlights at the time included filling diapers, keeping us awake all night and refusing to eat, was going to wake up one morning and say, "Man, I can't wait to drink out of the toilet, run up and down the stairs and throw a cat in the dryer today." Eventually my wife realized that Tootie wasn't going to wake up one morning and suddenly start acting like me, and that we didn't need to babyproof right away. (I've been told by my mother that at a young age I put our family cat in the freezer because the cat "looked hot." Yes, by the grace of God, the cat survived.)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

World's Worst First Vehicle

I get a little teary eyed thinking about my first vehicle. Not because it was a classic car or a hot rod or anything like that, but because I start thinking about the smoke seeping into the cab caused by the oil burning off the transmission after the transmission blew up while I was driving down the road.

The vehicle was a 1977 Chevy Scottsdale truck, and I eventually pulled over to the side of the road, eyes burning and lungs filling with filth; both myself, and sadly the truck, survived. The truck had one gas tank on each side, ensuring that no matter which side someone hit me on, I would be reduced to a pork rind while the truck rolled on. The Scottsdale was like a touchy grenade with a clip at each end. It didn't help that the beast got what felt like 5 miles per gallon and almost went through one tank on the way to school and the other one on the way back, ensuring that I never had any money, even with gas costing about $1.30 in 1997. The gaping hole in the floorboard where I could see straight through to the road wasn't really a feature I appreciated, and there was really no good way to cover it up. If it was snowing outside the truck it would seem like it was snowing inside the truck, and turning on the heater or air conditioner often did nothing more than fog up the windows, giving me just one more obstacle to get past.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Why I Smell Funny

"Maggie crapped on your pillow."

There are about 10,000 other things I'd rather have heard from my wife while I was out of town for work, like: "We're gonna need to save for a new vacuum cleaner," "The little monster across the street is using your brand new car as a backstop for his baseball," or "I'm leaving you for the local Walmart greeter."

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Letter to My Daughter

Dear Tootie,

That's what I decided to call you when you were about 3 days old -- Tootie McWhistlebottom. Sadly for you, it looks like it's going to stick -- like I've learned baby poop does to pretty much anything, including cats. I'll occasionally throw in a Scooty McBooty or call you by your middle name just to keep you on your toes, but as it stands today you're nearly 7 months old, and there's no indication you have any idea what your real name is. For all we know you will think you're name is Kiwi (one of the cats), which is probably fine because she doesn't know her name either as a result of me constantly calling her anything other than the name I gave her. If you ever get mad about the nickname Tootie as you get older, I'll simply regale you with tales of how you used to make your mother and I feel like we'd been beaten mercilessly by Republican Guard torture experts for days on end after trying to feed you your bottle -- every four hours. Your mother may never recover, and what little hair and pride I had left now below to the Gerber Gods.

Copyright 2014, Travis Ross (Simple Man's Survival Guide)
I love my girls.
Thank you for making fart noises cool again. Without you I would just be a creepy 29 year old with an obsession for making random fart noises. However, as long as I'm making fart sounds in the vicinity of you, I'm just being a dad. I will probably flash back to all of these hour-long conversations we are having in Fartese someday when you're 16 and telling me how big of an a-hole I am because I won't let you go on a date with some 21-year-old prick who goes by the name Bones. Embarrassing moment: There was a time when you were sitting in your playpen grabbing your toes when suddenly you unloaded a Luvs killer worthy of its own license plate and blew yourself flat onto your back and then started laughing hysterically and making fart noises. If I'd captured that moment on camera, we'd be living on America's Funniest Home Videos money right now.

You are a binky snob. You will only take a green Soothie binkie. If we try and give you any other binky you look at us like we robbed all of the premium beer from your fridge and replaced it with Stag. I don't know what it is about a green Soothie binky, but I know that if you get in a mood and it ever takes us more than five minutes to find one, this house is gonna look like a scene straight out of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The smack addicts on Intervention complain less when they can't get a hit.

You are a master manipulator. We have been trying to put you to bed around 7PM for the last couple of months, but you won't have any of it. You warm up with a gentle "Wah, wah, wah" and over the course of 10 minutes it escalates to a full-on, face-quivering revolt. Your mother and I will be sitting in the living room, listening on the monitor, pretending not to hear and patiently playing some kind of unspoken, morbid game of Russian Roulette where we wait to see who cracks first and will end up getting you. And the minute we open the door, you stop screaming, smile and reach out your arms, because you know you've got us -- hook, line and stinker. I didn't write the book Go the F*ck to Sleep, but after spending numerous late nights holding a half-asleep baby and watching every episode of Intervention on my iPhone via Netflix twice, I have a healthy respect for whoever wrote it.

You are keeping the cats thin. The critters were just fine with you before you learned how to form a grip. They had taken you in as one of their own, just without fur. Ever since The Great Hair Ripping Incident of 2011 where you got a hold of Maggie and she ran away but you came up with a massive clump of black hair, they've been earning their Fancy Feast.

You have zero desire to crawl. Whenever we put you on the floor, you lay calmly for a minute with a look on your face that implies that maybe if you play dead we'll just give up, pick you up and return you to your upright position. After it sets in that we aren't going to budge, you start flailing your limbs and scream in such a way it sounds as though you are being waterboarded. I can only imagine what the neighbors think. You cause such a ruckus that your mother is convinced  Nosey Neighbor to our right (I'll explain to you what sets apart Nosey Neighbor to our right, Dumb Neighbor directly across the street, Old Neighbor to the right of Dumb Neighbor, and Weird Neighbor to our left when you get older) is going too call the Department of Children and Family Services because it sounds so painful.

But, you are awful cute, and we couldn't have asked for a sweeter baby. I guess we'll keep you, I just hope you forgive me for calling you Tootie.



Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Worst Marriage Proposal Ever

My wife and I have vacillated between Happy and If you say one more word I'll *&$%#@! punch you in the throat for just over two years. I once heard a guy say, "Sometimes you hug each other to show affection and sometimes you hug each other as a way to get a better grip so you can take a better swing." That's us in a nutshell. It's a functional marriage, and from what I can tell, we're not terribly different from everyone else. However, the process leading up to marriage was quite the circus.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Life in a LEED Certified Building

A few years ago, the company I work for moved us into a building that was certified LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver. I'm all about doing everything I can to save the planet. I suspect I'll never get back the sizeable portion of my manhood I traded in when I bought my hybrid; I use the Water Miser setting when I do dishes; and I nearly electrocuted myself installing an energy effient ceiling fan light. If I could afford it I would buy one of those silly Dean Kamen devices that turns Doritos, rocks, mud and basically anything that's not baby poop into drinkable water. It's more manly for me to stick my 6-month-old daughter's little lion squeeky toy out the window and squeek it at someone than to lay on the horn in my hybrid. You get the point.

I don't know the corporate benefits of LEED certification, but I suspect there are some nice tax breaks and it makes for a nice HR press release. We even have a nice LEED logo declaring our high level of environmental friendliness on the front door. But, over the course of a few years, I've noticed a few downsides to working in a LEED building that I think everyone should be aware of.

1) Toilets: Our toilets have two buttons on them: a green button with one drop of water on it, and a silver button (for the rebels among us) with three drops of water on it. The icons on these buttons are life size representations of exactly how much water will be used to flush the waste. You couldn't flush a fly with either of them. If you think low-flow toilets are stupid, these things are a crime against humanity. I'm pretty sure people have missed meetings because they spent an hour in the bathroom hitting the flush button. I think the green icon should be replaced with the text "Play Again" and the silver icon should be replaced with the text "Not Quite."

2) Sink and Soap Sensors: The sink and soap sensors really save the big bucks; they not only regulate the water, they also cut down on the power bill -- because only about half of them work. It's quite the circus in the bathroom in my wing. You literally have to do the Macarena to wash your hands properly, because the faucet sensor works on the left side and the soap sensor works on the right side. You have to literally criss cross your hands or migrate between both of the sinks to wash your hands. And God help you if the towel dispensor is acting up. It's not uncommon to come across a guy who came into the bathroom having a bad day in the first place who had to press the pathetic flush button 58 times and do a triple toe loop to wash his hands, banging his fists against the paper towel machine screaming "Why, God, why!?!" because he ran into trouble on the final leg of his quest. Indiana Jones had an easier obstacle course in Raiders of the Lost Ark. I'm pretty sure some people have taken off the rest of the day after working the circuit in the bathrooms. And to make it worse, every bathroom in the building has a unique situation with regard to what works and what doesn't, but I haven't found one yet where everything is functional. If Michael Douglas had to deal with this in Falling Down, he would have lost it a lot sooner.

3) The Dump: One of the qualifications for LEED Silver certification is that the building be built in an area that meets the qualifications for "Regional Priority." Given that we're 500 yards from the dump, I'm guessing the way to achieve LEED Gold is to actually build a building on top of the dump and replace the water in the little fountain on the first floor with toxic sludge. On a good day the building smells like a gym sock; on a bad day, it smells like you bottled the farts of every athlete who graced a men's high school locker room over the course of 30 years and then released it into our building. I won't be shocked at all if 30 years from now I have some terrible disease that they trace back to breathing in these toxic fumes.

I often envision the guy who sold my company on the LEED certification as having a lot in common with the guy who sold pet rocks: At the end of the day he made a few nickels and 30 years later the idiots who bought the rocks wound up in therapy. Apologies if you owned a pet rock.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Grandpa's False Teeth

When my parents asked if they could come by the house for the afternoon to see the baby, it was not a big deal. However, what they didn't tell us is that they were bringing grandma and grandpa, and that's a game changer.

God love him, but my grandfather has somehow putzed his way through nearly 90 years of life, and it's only by the grace of God he hasn't, to my knowledge, seriously hurt himself. I've heard stories of the man almost having his head taken off by parts flying from machinery, putting diesel fuel in a vehicle with a gas engine, smacking every one of his fingers at least 40 times with a hammer, almost burning down his house on accident, almost burning down someone else's house on accident, and sawing off a tree limb that he was standing on, among other things. In short, he's like the anti-McGyver; he doesn't intentionally try to build a bomb out of toothpaste, an Etch-a-Sketch and a DVD player, but he does it anyway. Oh, and there's also the time he told me to pee on the electric fence when I was about 5 years old so I would have a proper frame of reference for not doing it again. My dad saw the crime unfolding and rescued me from a fate unbefitting of any crime I may have committed prior to that or would commit after that.

A Word of Advice to the Paperboy Who Forgot My Wife's Coupons

Dear Paperboy,

We all make mistakes. I am sympathetic to your cause and I understand that my wife just signed up for the Sunday edition of the St. Louis Post Dispatch this week. However, she only subscribes to the paper for the coupons that you forgot to drop off today -- Saturday.

I have done about as much as I can do. I hid the knives and any other sharp objects I could think of that are laying around the house. We don't own a gun (lucky you) and I don't think she knows anyone in the area who has one (again, lucky you). I have a friend who is a Navy SEAL, but he charges more than she can afford for mercenary work. In a further effort to protect both myself and you, I am pretending to share my anger at you with her. I will occasionally say things such as, "I bet that little bugger did it on purpose," "You're right, if we lived in Texas we could get this handled the right way," and "I bet he's selling the coupons on the side." I can tell you that if she ever gets a hold of you, you will be taken out Braveheart style, except you probably won't be able to yell "Freedom!" at the end.