Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Speaking of elective surgery...

Do you think the American Society of Plastic Surgeons has anything to do with this warning on my box of Kleenex? (Actually, to be correct, it is Nicole's box of Kleenex).

It is a violation of Federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling. Use only as a facial tissue.

I think I better end the post here.

Monday, May 28, 2007

How come everyone I know is about to have a baby? Or is that "everyone I know is about to have babies"?

Am I the only one who has read this important baby literature?

In 1980 as well as 2000, childless couples were generally happier than those with children. The study didn't explore how children or the absence of them may contribute to the stability of marriages.

Update: After typing this, I headed over to, only to discover that Tate and Sarah have moved out of the "about to have a baby" category, and into the "just had a baby category". I am too lazy to retitle this post: "How come everybody I know has just had a baby, or is about to have a baby?"

Congratulations to the new parents. Give us a few days notice before you open anything good...

Saturday, May 26, 2007

I do not like the new soap in the men's restroom.

I am sure I am not alone, and the thought that other people might share my dislike of the new soap is frightening. You see, according to a study conducted by our clinical department, only 30% of subjects using the men's room wash their hands...and that study was conducted with the old (less greasy) soap. Sadly, this study likely suffered from observational bias. (The subjects are more likely to wash their hands when they know they are being watched). Sadder still, one can only assume that even fewer persons will be washing their hands with the new(less agreeable) soap.

Yes, I plan to continue washing my hands.

Yes, I am at work today.

No, work is not busy today.
So I married a chicken.

My father, the magician, used to have a large library of magic and magic related books. He probably still does have a large library of magic and magic related books, though I have absolutely no time to devote to any additional hobbies, so that point is moot. Back to the topic at hand: I never became a very good magician, mostly because I was more interested in knowing how the tricks (illusions, says Gob) were done, rather than actually being able to do them.

But those magic related the age of 13, I was quite an accomplished juggler, and an aspiring hypnotist. My hypnotizing skills never advanced much; quite possibly because hypnosis is a hoax...or so I had thought, until I discovered that the sleeping Nicole is open to the power of suggestion. I have been able to make her cluck on demand for several months, and she has recently begun work on a chicken symphony. Waking Nicole is not so open to suggestion, and does not believe that sleeping Nicole has such a fondness for clucking. For your listening pleasure, I shall post a recording here...just as soon as the chicken symphony is done.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Gripe of the day...

(Alternate title was: "The ferry came"...but I couldn't decide on the spelling of ferry.)

It now costs $1 to ride the Balboa Island Ferry. If you want to take your bicycle on board, that will run you an extra 25 cents. If you have a tandem bicycle, those sneaky ferry operators will do their best to charge you for two bicycles.

Did I mention this thing only goes 300 feet? (Maybe that's 300 yards?) Either way, for $2.50, I think I'll build my own boat and paddle across. Nico, you with me?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Sage from South Central...

I made it 34 years living in the celebrity capital of the world, without having my picture taken with a celebrity. This blog has ruined me...first Greg Lemond, now Larry Elder. Anyway, hey everybody look at Larry Elder, Nicole, and me. As I told Larry yesterday, he is the person most credited with turning me into a libertarian (Ayn Rand and the IRS also played a part).

The Bob Robert's Society Band came pretty close to my goal of raising $1000 for the American Diabetes Association. If you would like to contribute, you still have another 2 weeks. Go ahead and donate on Nicole's page; she'll get a jersey if she makes it to $500.

Here we are at the finish line. I think I am not really that sweaty. I have been trying out this new's kind of shiny.

65 miles in just over 5 hours...the 5 hours included stopping at every rest stop (for the worst tasting sports drink in the world), changing a flat tire, and helping a fellow cyclist patch a tire. I reckon cycling 65 miles would be much easier if we didn't take 12 months off between cycling adventures. Back to that flat tire...I am sick of flat tires. Actually, we rarely get flat tires, but my Continental Grand Prix 3000s are wearing out, so I am thinking of putting Armadillos on the tandem. Only problem (aside from slowing us down), the profiles on the Armadillos are a little too high to fit in the case. Does anybody have a good recommendation for a traveling tire? I am sick of replacing the Continentals every thousand miles.

In other news: Guitar class is coming to an end. I have to play a song for the final. Anybody able to ID this song? I'll give you a hint: It is thought to be the first song written about El NiƱo.

Friday, May 18, 2007

I'm number 1!!!

I did not read the race instructions. No worries.

I assumed the race committee would be using 5 minute starts (instead of the 3 minute starts clearly stated in the race instructions. No worries.

Setting my watch for 5 minute countdowns instead of 3 resulted in a rather late start. No worries. (At least my non-waterproof sailing watch had dried out from windsurfing, and was again functioning).

My boat did not have a sail number (which is supposed to result in disqualification. No worries. (The race committee accepted the blue piece of paper [with a black "1" on it] that we held up as we crossed the start and finish lines).

Okay, I confess: None of the other Shields showed up for the first Beercans. Fortunately, there was one Harbor 20. Sure, a Harbor 20 is a much slower boat, but this boat was captained by mi amigo Lee, world champion Harbor 20 racer.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Speaking of Beercans, I'm breaking in some new crew for summer racing. It seems everybody I know has been invited to race on much larger boats. Hey, 30 feet is more than long enough.

So I scoured my old (beginning sailing) class lists and came up with Sevin and Devrim. They both scored very low on the irritating scale and high on the sailing potential scale. Who could be better to sail with, and isn't that Mickey Mantle's number? They are both computer people, so maybe they have blogs somewhere.

I probably have room for one more person, if anybody else wants to race. Prerequisites: 1)You must be non-irritating.
2)You must have at least a little sailing experience.
Job duties: 1) Alert me to anything I am about to crash into.
2)Immediately after the start of every race, turn to the captain and say: "That was a great start, Michael".
I should be doping...

Getting ready for the start of Beercans on Thursday, I thought it might be a good idea to review the racing rules. Racing rules are boring. But do you know what isn't? Doping. Here is the International Sailing Federation's anti-doping code. Of interest, the International Sailing Federation uses the World Anti-Doping Agency's list of banned substances. I am going to assume that cycling and running use the same list. I am not sure if a single list benefits me or not. Probably not, I could end up getting banned from three sports if I decide I want to be taller. Speaking of human growth hormone, does anybody think Sylvester Stallone's head looks bigger?

So anyway, can somebody please read that WADA list and tell me if sailing has banned alcohol? Balboa Yacht Club: If you name your Thursday night races "Beercans", you are just begging us participants to drink.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Please donate to the elective surgery fund.

I finally broke down and scheduled my Lasik procedure. I have approximately four weeks to come up with $4500.

Unfortunately, my Lasik surgeon is also a plastic surgeon...I'm not sure where he finds the time while still managing to perform 15,000 Lasik procedures. After I have perfect vision, he says I will be wanting him to smooth out my skin...I suppose I should have been insulted. We did not discuss how much this procedure would cost.

So I'm at the dentist yesterday, and while I'm telling my dentist (an avid cyclist) about the time I met Greg Lemond, I get to thinking: Greg Lemond has much whiter teeth than me. Worse, my teeth are going to look extra off-white when I have perfect vision. Not to worry, white teeth can me mine for a mere $500. I have the world's most expensive dentist.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

If your doctor ever tells you that you only have a year to live, spend it in Gerber.

(Alternative title was: "We are not drinking pinot..."

Drove up the state for a wedding in Red Bluff over the weekend. Red Bluff is a much better place to spend a weekend than is Gerber. I would post pictures of downtown Gerber, but they are too depressing. There's a post office (your tax dollars at work), a tiny market, a pizza place, and a bar...actually the bar and pizza place might be the same place, my memory is a little fuzzy. Fortunately, I was able to minimize my Gerber exposure to around two hours; that was more than enough time. Here's a picture of one of the Red Bluff pharmacies, followed by a picture of the view from our room at the house of Nicole's aunt and uncle (in Red Bluff). If you are thinking that Nicole's aunt and uncle do not have enough horses, I believe the others like to spend their mornings on the opposite side of the house.

But enough about Red Bluff...if you want wedding information, perhaps something will appear on Nicole's blog. (Nico, your blog will be considered dead within the next 48 hours, and your permanent link will be removed.)

We stopped in Santa Barbara Wine Country on the way back. Those of you keeping score at home might remember that we were supposed to be riding the Napa Tour de Cure last weekend...but something about a 100 mile bike ride when neither of us had been on a bicycle in 6 months seemed like a bad idea. But I digress. I was a little leery of the trip to the Santa Ynez Valley, as we had not been up there since before Sideways. I have few photos of this part of trip, as we were trying not to look like Sideways tourists...of which there were plenty. In retrospect, we actually were Sideways tourists. We ate at the Hitching Post II (which used to be a quiet restaurant, but was now so crowded that a dozen people were having dinner at the bar), and we elected to do Sideways bicycling tour #1. Sideways bicycling tour #2 is probably a better ride, but we had done most of that ride 5 years ago...and it looked much, much steeper.

Wineries we stopped at on the 50 mile bike ride:
1) Lafonde: The pinots were okay, the Lafond Vineyard Syrah was exquisite.
2) Sanford: Eh...I was not able to smell:
...a little citrus... maybe some
strawberry... passion fruit... and
there's even a hint of like
asparagus... or like a nutty Edam

Apparently, I have only one picture from Solvang. It's Nicole, in front of one of those Thomas Kinkade paintings that she likes so much.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Addiction to over-the-counter drugs is a serious, "often forgotten" problem, doctors warn in today's British Medical Journal...Although codeine phosphate is only available on prescription, it has been available over the counter in combination with aspirin, paracetamol or ibuprofen for many years.

Advice for my British colleagues:

Stop selling codeine (or rather, codeine containing products) without a prescription. I guarantee an immediate decrease in the number of people addicted to over the counter painkillers. Please...codeine addiction is just embarrassing. Let your people find something worthwhile to abuse.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Sure I should be working...

I was thinking of getting an alligator. I had thought that an alligator would make a great pet. Don Johnson had an alligator.

Sadly, my extensive research on the subject has informed me that alligators do not make good pets.

Whoa! Keeping an alligator as a pet is a very bad idea, my friend.
How to lose 5 pounds in 5 days.

1) Cut intake of delicious rum containing drinks, with names like Jamaican Delight and Dirty Banana, (from seven to twelve a day) to zero.

2) Stop eating that extra meal between breakfast #1 and lunch (I call this meal "breakfast #2).

3) Stop having that afternoon snack of jerk chicken or fillet mignon. Just because it's there does not mean you have to eat it.

I think I will call my diet the "Jamaican-free diet". I am certain that this revolutionary new diet will increase traffic to my blog. Prospective dieters: I guarantee that if you just gained 7 pounds at an all inclusive Caribbean resort, you can lose 5 pounds with my new diet. You could end up spending thousands of dollars on exercise equipment and diet about a donation to the boat fund?

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

I know I'll feel safer walking around Costa Mesa this morning.

(Alternative title was: It's always 5 o'clock somwhere...but I think I just used that one somewhere).

Costa Mesa police have scheduled a driver's license/ DUI checkpoint from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. today. Police will be checking vehicles heading westbound on Victoria Street just west of Harbor Boulevard, police said.

More than 1,000 drivers in 2006 were removed from highways in Costa Mesa for suspicion of driving under the influence, police said.

Funding for the program is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

— Kelly Strodl

Note to drunk drivers: Do not leave the bar until after 12:30 PM today.
1.04 terabytes does not sound that big...

Actually, I only have 600 GB of space remaining on my H:\ drive. As your company likely uses a different lettering system, the H:\ drive is my personal space on the company server. Personal is a loose term; earlier this year, I was instructed to remove 4 GB of photos...copies of most of the pictures from this here blog. Even with the photos deleted, I am still using almost 400 GB of the company's storage space. A few GB are old spreadsheets and word documents...probably work related stuff; the rest is 3 and a half years of email...some of it could be considered work related, though most of it are gems like this one (all names [save mine] have been deleted to protect those that have gone on to positions of management):

From: xxxx xxxxxxx
Sent: Monday, July 10, 2006 12:00 PM
To: Lasko Michael B; xxxxxxxxx xxxxxx; xxx xxxxxx; xxxx xxxxx
Subject: RE: You have pto starting weds?

If following Lasko's email format you should write the compliment as "xxxxxxx, you handled the call really well. You know how I know this? Because you are loud".

Then you should innocently say that you were complimenting.

Then you should apologize, because you are wrong.

And you should buy me ice-cream because you owe me.


From: Lasko Michael B
Sent: Monday, July 10, 2006 11:58 AM
To: xxxx xxxxxxx; xxxxxxxxx xxxxxx; xxx xxxxx; xxxx xxxxx
Subject: RE: You have pto starting weds?

Let me let you in on the general format of email correspondence with xxxxxxx:
Start off with a compliment, that could also (and will) be interpreted as an insult. (Example: Kudos, you handled that call really well!)
Apologize for your “misinterpreted” email.
Apologize again.
Promise to buy ice cream to make up for your misstep.
Come up with some reason why you can’t buy ice cream today.
Tell a story about the delicious ginger ice cream your wife made last night…mmmn, mmmn, ginger.
Write a few lines about frozurt.
Change spelling of frozurt to frogurt, and then to fro yo.

There, you are a quarter of the way through the day.

From: xxxx xxxxxxx
Sent: Monday, July 10, 2006 11:51 AM
To: xxxxxxxxx xxxxxx; Lasko Michael B; xxx xxxxxx; xxxx xxxxx
Subject: RE: You have pto starting weds?

This is not a forum for suggestions. It is not a load, it's an opportunity to interact with a coworker.

From: xxxxxxxxx xxxxxx
Sent: Monday, July 10, 2006 11:50 AM
To: Lasko Michael B; xxxx xxxxxxx; xxx xxxxxx; xxxx xxxxx
Subject: RE: You have pto starting weds?

That sounds great Michael. Takes the load off of us. Or you should just set up 100 emails to be each delivered at different times throughout your vacation. It’ll be like you are still here.

From: Lasko Michael B
Sent: Monday, July 10, 2006 11:48 AM
To: xxxx xxxxxxx; xxxxxxxxx xxxxxx; xxx xxxxxx; xxxx xxxxx
Subject: RE: You have pto starting weds?

I’ll try and drop into ein Internet-Kaffee.

From: xxxx xxxxxxx
Sent: Monday, July 10, 2006 11:45 AM
To: xxxxxxxxx xxxxxx; xxx xxxxxx; xxxx xxxxx; Lasko Michael B
Subject: RE: You have pto starting weds?

Uhmm…try about 30? I guess you can split it up--10 emails each?

From: xxxxxxxxx xxxxxx
Sent: Monday, July 10, 2006 11:44 AM
To: xxxx xxxxxxx; xxx xxxxxx; xxxx xxxxx; Lasko Michael B
Subject: RE: You have pto starting weds?

Is there an email quota that we have to meet? How about 1 email per day? I think that is fair.

From: xxxx xxxxxxx
Sent: Monday, July 10, 2006 11:42 AM
To: xxxxxxxxx xxxxxx; xxx xxxxxx; xxxx xxxxx; Lasko Michael B
Subject: FW: You have pto starting weds?

I need email buddies from the 12-26th of July. Please think of topics to email me about. You have until weds.
From: Lasko Michael B
Sent: Monday, July 10, 2006 11:39 AM
To: xxxx xxxxxxx
Subject: RE: You have pto starting weds?

See you on the 26th.

From: xxxx xxxxxxx
Sent: Monday, July 10, 2006 11:39 AM
To: Lasko Michael B
Subject: You have pto starting weds?


xxxxxxx xxxx, Pharm.D.
Consultant Pharmacist

It reads much better if you start at the bottom. I am struck by two things:
1) I used to have a whole lot more free time at work.
2) I almost miss the quibbling. Almost.