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Triathlon - 4/18/04
A 2004 goal was accomplished this weekend as friend Ilana from Minneapolis and I ran a triathlon. For anyone not familiar with the competition, our particular race consisted of a 3/4 mile swim followed by a 25 mile bike followed by a 6 mile run, which is just about Olympic distance. It’s fairly tiring.

Saturday we loaded gear and my bike (Ilana rented hers) into the Mobile and took off for Palm Springs, which is like two-hours from LA, but four-hours when everybody stops to gawk at speeders being pulled over. Fortunately we still arrived in time to get our racing numbers, pastel swim caps (mine was urine-yellow) and complimentary bag of jelly beans from the local farmers market. We also had a chance to carbo-load at a local Italian place, though I had to order a second dinner because the first one just didn’t take care of business. Then we slept at a hotel until 5am, the quality of which can basically be summed up by the following conversation:

VOICE ON PHONE: Hello, Guest Services!
ME: Hey, this room 222. I’m sorry, I forgot my toothbrush… I was wondering if you might have an extra one I could have or buy?
VOICE ON PHONE: Hahaha, no.
ME: Oh, you don’t?
VOICE ON PHONE: Hahahaha no!
ME: Oh. OK. Thanks… I guess.
VOICE ON PHONE: You’re welcome!

They didn’t call it the “Desert Triathlon” for nothing. Thankfully the race started at 7:30 and it wasn’t too brutally hot by the time I finished, but the sun was beating down like a laser the entire time and I got sunburned to a crisp. Running a triathlon is a little less taxing then running a marathon – it doesn’t take quite as long, and the wear is spread around your body a little more than just doing the same exact thing for 26.2 miles. On the other hand, the competition is a bit steeper. A lot of people are willing to attempt a marathon, but most folks won’t try a tri unless they’re pretty hard-core. The swimming alone deters many. The people at our triathlon were not only in good shape, they were in Southern California good shape. Some of them did this professionally. Others were just really good at it. I’ve never seen so many dynamic physical specimens in one location. I’ve played just about every sport there is and Ilana has raced in 30-mile ski competitions, but somehow we still felt out of place.

I did OK on the swimming. It turns out front-crawling in a desert lake is a lot easier than it is in an ocean, where I’ve been practicing, so despite my lack of training and racing experience, I kept up with a reasonable number of people in my heat. The way the heats work is they launch people in staggered groups so everybody doesn’t kick each other and drown. I was in the first heat, which consisted of elite men and all other men under 35… so merely “keeping up” meant I was doing pretty good. Though I wasn’t surprised when some of the Navy Seals from the second heat and the elite women from the third heat (launched 3 and 6 minutes later) came tearing by me.

I got passed a bit on the biking. I just didn’t have the equipment. I did the triathlon on a pair of $50 basketball shoes and a $190 mountain bike I bought to get to work and back. And here would come these ridiculous Tour de France guys wearing cone-shaped aerodynamic helmets and riding $3000 racing bikes like those gay men have in the Olympics. Some of them even had those special solid wheels that are nickel-thin and aren’t rubber at all but some kind of hybrid racing plastic. They look like giant vinyl records on the back of their bike, and when they come up on you it sounds like somebody riding a Big-Wheel, except at 45 miles-per-hour. Now, I’ve always believed that fancy equipment doesn’t matter as much as good old-fashioned gumption, but I had to admit it made a difference over 25 miles. It was like driving the Spacemobile in a Nascar race, except I wasn’t allowed to bump people off the road.

But nobody passed me on the run. I didn’t let them. I’m a little better at jogging, and having competed before in racing events gave me a certain tenacity to prove I could keep up with these Olympians, even in my hi-top Reeboks. Every time someone tried to get by me I’d flip out and start sprinting. When my body wanted to shut down I pulled out my Discman Marathon Mix and let Crystal Method and Prodigy guide me to some reserves. There were no souped-up racing bikes during these last 6 grueling miles. There was no getting a head start by creeping way out into the water before the race began. There were just a bunch of really tired people running through the desert, left alone with their legs and their will to triumph. And no one was going to beat mine.

I vowed that no one would pass me. And this is why the guy who tried on the home stretch quickly found himself in probably one of the most intense battles-to-the-finish of the whole triathlon. With a quarter-mile to go, a guy from the LA Triathlon club came up out of nowhere and got ahead of me before I knew what was happening. Ignited, I returned the favor. And suddenly the two of us where hauling all-out for the finish line, pulling back and forth at top speed, grunting and straining with energy that wasn’t there. The crowd congregated at the finish didn’t know either of us, but went nuts just because it was so hard-core. I think we were at a full sprint for a full 300 yards. Finally, I managed to eke out a few steps ahead. It was partly because I was younger. But it was mostly because I would have died before I let this guy pass me. And that’s how it ended. The race-announcer cheered the effort and announced our names, and the guy and I quickly found each other and high-fived. “Good race,” he said. “Great race,” I replied.

The small victory was fantastic, but my body was very upset with me over the whole affair. I had to sit in the shade pouring water on myself for ten minutes before my legs would let me get up and gorge myself on the banquet of fruit and drinks they’d prepared for all the racers. Worse, I missed Ilana crossing the finish line because I’d gone to get my camera and some water for her. But the anti-climax dissolved when we both realized we’d successfully completed a triathlon, and better, that we’d both done remarkably well for two people who’d never tried before. Ilana finished in just over 3 hours, though she would have certainly been under 3 if she hadn’t taken her time during the transitions and gotten a little lost on the swim portion. I myself finished in 2 hours 31 minutes, which earned me in third place in my age group – a cheering validation of my efforts. We hugged, ate about 10 oranges a piece, took pictures as the race broke up, and finally gathered our scattered gear and departed, exhausted but proud.

Triathlon P.S. - 4/20/04
I forgot to mention we stopped at Joshua Tree National Park on the way back from the triathlon, which is profoundly named for having tons and tons of Joshua trees. I think it might be named after a U2 album also. Anyway it’s a very simple park but very cool.

Somebody asked me what’s next on the physical challenge agenda. Would I do an Iron Man? A Century (running 100 miles)? Or maybe I’d just go Forrest Gump style and jog across the entire country. The answer to all these questions is no. I don’t have any immediate plans, and in fact the real immediate plan is just to eat a lot and only exercise for fun for a while. Maybe someday I’d do an Iron Man, but that sounds like more of a mid-life crisis thing. Running 100 miles is just crazy. Maybe Century Club. And I already tried to drive across the entire country, and got into enough trouble just doing that. So for now it’s beach football and dollar menu double-cheeseburgers.

Set Up - 4/24/04
Below are two short car-related tidbits that I've been meaning to mention but hadn't found the chance. The reason I mention them now is because tomorrow's post is another Spacemobile story, for which these might provide context, and, if possible, make a Spacemobile story even nuttier than it already is.

When I drove to Arizona a few weeks ago, I was planning on it being the last trip for the Spacemobile for a while. I'd barely been driving it, the insurance was about to run out, and I was very strongly considering just letting it expire and living the dream of seeing how long I could get by in LA without a car. Impossible, you say? Perhaps, but realistically I can bike to all my jobs and can use the bus system to get everywhere else I need, at least for a while. In fact I'd already done it for three weeks when the Mobile was crippled in January, as well as for a few weeks in October and a few more weeks this month, just to see if I could.
Instead, I came back from Arizona with two cars. My grandmother, selling her house and possessions to live nomad-style with relatives through her remaining golden years, had decided to give me her 1985 Buick LaSabre for the purpose of selling it and splitting the money with her. It's an awesome old car, classic in that '70s pimp kind of way, but it does screw up my car plans. Now instead of having no insurance I may have to insure a second car so that people can test-drive it. But at least if I'm hankering to pick up any comely tarts on Hollywood and Vine, I've got the wheels to do it with.


The second story involves the newest problem the Spacemobile has developed. Mercifully, this one doesn't inhibit driving , but it is quite possibly the most annoying quirk any car can have. The van now honks, all the time, for absolutely no reason. Yes, the Spacemobile had developed Car-Tourrette's. You'll be making a turn and HONK! The horn just starts going off like crazy. You'll be coming up behind someone and HONK HOOOONK! The horn just lays into them like they stole something. Not only is it startling to you the driver, but it makes everyone around you extremely agitated. And if there's one thing LA doesn't need it's more agitated drivers. Maybe I should sell the car to someone in New York City, where at least it would fit in. They could sleep in it too, which would definitely beat Manhatten rent.
I've learned you can make it stop by pulling up on the horn, and much of the time it'll stay quiet as long as you keep your hands well away from the steering wheel. But there's always that chance. The best story is from when JD and the guys took the car to Vegas and they pulled up behind a car full of Nazi Skinheads and literally prayed to the God of Volkswagen Tourrette's Syndrome that the horn wouldn't go off on them.
I guess I could get it fixed, but it sounds like one of those electical issues that's really expensive. Maybe I could just snip the horn-wire and knock the horn out entirely. Then when you pressed it would emit this hoarse, exhaling sound like one of those dogs with its larynx removed. Or else I could just get that foghorn I've always wanted installed. That's really the only appropriate horn for the Spacemobile anyway.

Win this Spacemobaby - 4/25/04
I recieved this in the mail the other day.

Obviously, it was some kind of marketing scam. You’d go to dealership, and they'd make you listen to some two-hour sales pitch on buying a new Volkswagen. The chances of actually winning the free car would be 1 in 10 million, and they'd be fresh out of the free vacations, except for a $20-per-night room at the Travelodge Las Vegas on a Monday night, airfare-not-included. There was also a note on the brochure that said they were buying back used VW's for top prices because of some "rigorous pre-owned stock quotas" they needed to fill. But that of course would only apply to Volkswagens that weren't from 1993 with rusted aqua paint and missing bumpers.

So of course I went. A scam is a scam, but I figured with a remote chance of winning a car, a slightly-less-remote chance of winning a free trip somewhere, and a good probability of learning something about the eventual resale of the Mobile... well, it would at least be worth a story. The main reason I went, though, was because of the hilarious possibility of owning the only other car in the world uglier than the Spacemobile. Don't get me wrong, plenty of people out there have ugly cars. But most of them can attribute their ugliness to something understandable like damage, or age, or old Camaros going out of style. However, a car like this... it’s not just a VW bug, but a VW bug convertible. This car's just ass-ugly right out of the gate. Now the Spacemobile's no prize ham, but at least it's a van so it has an excuse. Yet replace "aqua-blue" with "puke-green", and "tall and blocky" with "short and awkwardly plump"... my roommates and I have developed a rating terminology system for how ugly something is, and nothing short of "Pug-Fuggle-Beast" would do this car justice. Or as my brothers would put it, "Double Moogley-Pies".

What if I owned both these cars, plus the 1985 Buick LaSabre my Grandma gave me? That would be so awesome. I'd have a whole fleet of ugly fucking cars, each more hideous than the last. I could start rental-car company for heinous automobiles, to rent out for tacky balls and practical jokes. I could call it "So Ugly It Hertz."

But more likely I could finally realize my dream of having two cars that fit inside each other. If there's one thing Germans are good at (besides making offensively ugly cars) it’s making things compatible – so why not a VW convertiBeetle that can drive right up into the back of a Eurovan? It would be like an aircraft carrier and a jet. Like a mother ship and an escape pod. It would be like a mother Kangaroo and her pouch-riding offspring; a great big Mama-Mobile and its tiny Spacemobaby. I could put maybe a Scootskate inside the Mobaby and thus have the wheels on me at all times to take on any length trip, and time, anywhere.

But I didn’t win. It was, or course, a scam, although the chances of winning were a meager 10 thousand to 1 instead of 10 million. Someone else will get the hilarious pleasure of driving home that lime-green cruel joke of a car. I didn’t win the trip either – they said they were “all out” and would “have more” in the morning. I told them to “go stick it.” And don’t worry, I wasn’t too serious about selling the Spacemobile. Mostly it was just for educational purposes, unless they were going to offer me a ridiculous amount of money or something… like I said, most just for educational purposes. It was a good trip anyway – I needed to get out of the house, and traffic getting there on a Friday wasn’t too bad. On the way back it was a slaughterhouse of course, but that was mostly because an SUV had jackknifed and flipped over three or four times and was now laying upside-down across three lanes of the 405. For once I wasn’t disappointed by an accident once I finally got there.

Romance Novel Quiz - 5/1/04
I just finished reading a romance novel. Three of the following are actual excerpts from said romance novel – the fourth is a fake excerpt I just made up. Guess which.

“She spoke haughtily, but her composure slipped when she suddenly noticed that his chambray shirt was every bit as wet as her own gown. It clung to the muscles of his arms and chest - and what powerful muscles they are, she thought in a gulp. Don't stare, she ordered herself, and with iron resolve dragged her gaze away from his powerful body and focused instead on his face. That dark, quiet handsome-as-hell face.”

“Her pulse quickened as he removed his shirt, revealing his rippling chest and brawny arms underneath. She felt her breathe give way as he tumbled down atop her in the hay, a writhing mass of passion. But still her heart held back, remembering the last words her mother had uttered to her on her deathbed.
‘Never fall in love with a cowboy.’”

“She had a luscious mouth, and a body that would tempt any mind but a blind preacher - yet she was nothing but a she-devil, he reminded himself.”

“A spark of heat, of pure fire, that has nothing to do with flannel shirts and everything to do with this heart-poundingly handsome man who always showed up when she needed him.”

The answer is B, although the phrase “Never fall in love with a cowboy” actually was used in the novel. As were the phrases “pulse quickened,” “rippling chest,” and “brawny arms”... but I digress. Hopefully otherwise it blended well.

Now, three of the following are true statements about why I would be reading a romance novel in the first place. The fourth is not.

- The comedy Sam and I are writing somehow involves a romance novel and I needed to brush up on my harlequin colloquialisms.

- I went and saw a musical by myself a few weekends ago when all my roommates were in Vegas and decided as long as I was taking a vacation from masculinity I might as well jump in with both feet.

- I think it’s hilarious when people are described as “rugged, steely-chested cowboys who set one's heart afire.”

- I’m gay.

Thankfully ladies, D) is the spurious choice. The other three are correct, though one might wonder how D) could be false if B) was true… But again I digress.

CarStew - 5/6/04
I’m trying to sell my Grandmother’s car. The Spacemobile is starting to get jealous, ’85 Buick LeSabres aren’t really my thing, and frankly, my Grandmother and I could use the money.

I posted an add on Carsoup.com. It’s pretty nifty – you get check it out if you want, or forward it to someone who might actually want to buy it. Some people have looked at it, but nobody’s made an offer yet. It’s hard to know what to price a car like that. On one hand if you price it too high nobody’s going to be interested in a used car from the mid-80’s, and if they were they’d probably be expecting a lot more than it actually is. On the other hand you don’t want to price too low because you might get taken for a ride, especially since there are much worse cars on Carsoup than this one. I’ve learned that you should be suspicious of any car that lists “full tank of gas" as a key feature.

This ad thing has turned out to be the least of my problems, though. The process of selling an out-of-state car in California is highly complex – only a detailed graphic schematic could really do it justice. I’ll work on one for tomorrow.

To start, the procedure involved me spending some time at the DMV, which actually wasn’t too bad, at first. I was able to make an appointment and thus only had to wait about an hour or so to have some woman look at my paperwork and have guy look at my car and say “Yup. It’s a car.” Then I went back inside to wait for another woman to look at my paperwork. That’s when things got ugly.

To backtrack a second, this is what reconfirmed my belief that the DMV is the worst place on Earth. When I scheduled my appointment online (wow, technology!), I looked around to see if there was any sort of checklist to see what I should bring. I found one, then called them just to make sure, at which point they mentioned a few other things that somehow hadn’t been mentioned on the website, including a letter from my Grandmother stating that no money had been exchanged for the car. None had, but I didn’t have a week for my Grandmother to send me a letter, so I promptly forged one. But nowhere did they tell me I needed to have a smog test done before going to the DMV. I assumed they’d take care of it there, since nobody told me otherwise.

But this was not the case (I’m not sure exactly what that guy was looking for if not smog. Smuggled Mexicans?). So I got yelled at by this lady for not being ready, then she yelled at me again and fined me for taking longer than 10 days (despite the fact that it took me 10 days to get the car insured then 12 days to schedule an appointment with them). Then she really yelled at me because one of my Arizona documents had the date scribbled-over, as if it had been illegally altered. “Look,” I said. “If I was going to alter that date, don’t you think I’d change it to something that wouldn’t get me a fine?” She yelled at me for mouthing off, then yelled at me a fourth time for asking why all this was costing me $110 dollars when the fine was 30 and the registration was 20.

Anyway I left there a smog-test short of registration, and, well… that’s going to have to be another post. That’s when things got real ugly. I’ll leave it at this:

- In order to sell the LeSabre it has to be registered in California.
- In order to be registered in California it has to pass a smog test.
- In order to pass a smog test it needs 500 dollars worth of repairs.

And now the kicker…

- In order for me to afford 500 dollars worth of repairs, I need to sell the LeSabre.

Son of a bitch. Thank god for credit cards.

How to Sell an Out-of-State Car in California - 5/8/04

So far, the amount of money I've made selling my Grandmother's car is negative 800 dollars.

At Least I Know One Thing - 5/10/04
There have been a lot of car posts this phase so far. Here’s one more.

The LeSabre is finally all licensed and good to go in California. My CA plates apparently were included in my $110 DMV fees, so the total stayed under a thousand dollars. Hopefully I can sell it very soon for that much and at least get my money back. They didn’t take my AZ plates either (despite 3 people telling me they would do so), so if anyone wants a pair of valid registered plates from Arizona, let me know.

I realized I haven’t registered the van in California yet either. And after this debacle, I can say one thing at least: there’s no way in HELL I’m going to.

Taking the Spacemobile to get smog-tested is opening Pandora’s Box. I can only imagine what kind of noxious ghouls will come flying out of that VW tailpipe the second they hook their little machine up to it. I don’t care if I’m polluting. I recycle. I ride my bike. I don’t have another thousand dollars to dump into somebody else’s problem coming from LA having too many goddamn drivers.

There are ten reasons why it makes no sense for me to register the van here. Can you give me one reason I should? Polluting? Covered that. I could get a ticket? I’ve been pulled over twice since I’ve been here and both times they just told me to get it registered soon. How do they know how long I’ve been here? Oh, maybe I should do it just for the goodness of obeying the law? Gimme a goddamn break.

I’ll take the ticket. I could take five tickets before it would come near the cost and hassle of following the rules. There’s probably some additional noise-pollution test I’d fail from the ghetto muffler and the Car-Tourrette’s. Sorry Uncle Sam, I’m just not seeing a lot of motivation for being legal here. And no, I don’t have to do it eventually. I’ll just donate the car to some homeless family charity for the tax write-off. You’ve heard the ads.

There have been a lot of car posts this phase so far. This one’s more of a rant. Too goddamn bad.

Sumptuous Dentistry - 5/13/04
Costa Sarah told me the other day about a recent dentist appointment she had. Now, I don’t have the medical insurance to experience such fancy things as dentist appointments, but apparently things have changed.

When I was a young pup the choices I had were what color toothbrush I wanted and whether my cleaning fluid would taste like bubble gum or like grape bubble gum. When my parents were young pups their choice they had was whether or not to be malleted over the head during their anesthetic-less root canals. When Sarah went to the dentist, her choices were what DVD she wanted to watch on her personal TV-helmet, and whether or not she wanted a back-rub while she got her incisors cleaned.

Maybe it’s just LA. Maybe Sarah has really awesome dental coverage thanks to her up-market hotel employer. Or maybe dentistry has just gotten a lot more posh.

When my security and SAT-Tutoring gigs get old, I’m thinking of starting a dentist’s office. “Painless Dentist” is such a tired tag, and judging by the way things are going, I’ve got it narrowed down to three trendy themes for my future luxury tooth-care facility.

- The Omni-Theatre Dentist. While your chompers are scrubbed you’ll enjoy not a wimpy helmet-sized movie but a full-blown 360-degree cinema experience. Each exam room will be shaped like a giant igloo where you will lie back in a leather recliner and enjoy the film of your choosing in theatre-quality surround sound, beamed onto the domed walls and ceiling by a 3.7 million dollar projector. Of course the dentist will require some light to work on your mouth – perhaps a nice outdoor adventure with the midday sun ubiquitously placed right in the middle. THe score could be Vivaldi’s “Seasons”. Cleaning flavor choices will include Junior Mints and Synthetic-Butter-Substitute.

- The Virtual-Reality Dentist. Instead of a movie helmet, why not go back to early-90’s Lawnmower Man technology and live in your own virtual world while getting your toofers polished? Instead of vicariously watching someone else’s story, you can be participating in an your own undersea adventure or laying it all on the line in a high-stakes poker game. Of course, the virtual realities would have to be limited to programs that didn’t stimulate actual punching or biting, lest the dentistry be hindered, but I'm sure less-active realities could be found. Perhaps a “Sitting in a Dentist’s Chair” program.

- The Chinese Massage Parlor Dentist. Not much needs to be said about this option. Balms and hot oils are involved. For a few extra bucks you can get a cavity-fill with a happy ending.

Something New - 5/15/04
Trying something new starting this week - an online documentation of me and Gabe's surfing exploits. Check it out.

Gas - 5/18/04
I heard on the radio the other day that gasoline prices have reached a record level, averaging 2 dollars a gallon nationwide. Out here in California, we'd kill for 2 dollars a gallon.

Both my ugly cars were sucking fumes, so I was forced to seek fuel today for my weekly trip up to Westwood. It took me a while but I finally found 2.33 at a Shell Station, which beat out the Chevron across the street by 2 cents a gallon. The beloved Arco near our place sells it for 2.25, but they only take cash which would have required a second stop, so I had to settle. Hell, once you're paying 18 bits for a gallon of gas, what's 8 more cents?

In Westwood Unleaded was 2.55, and Premium was damn near 3 bucks. I've heard it's even worse other places. Is there a war going on in the Middle East or something?

I remember in the 1996 Presidential Election, Ross Perot suggested this idea of charging $4.50 for a gallon of gas to encourage responsible transit and use the rest of the money for the infrastructure. At the time that price seemed preposterous.

It cost 50 dollars to fill up my mostly-empty tank. I'm not sure who's getting all that money, but I'm pretty sure it isn't the infrastructure.

Marathon Pix - 5/23/04
I just got a half a dozen pictures sent to me from the marathon back in October. The fact that spectating a marathon basically involves waiting for half an hour for somebody to run by in five seconds, it's remarkable we got this many.

Must be pretty early, I'm still wearing a shirt Family support I don't remember this part well, but apparently I got pretty hard-core on the homestretch

How You Found Me - 5/25/04
Inspired by Sam's Website, I checked to see some of the search strings people have used to find this site. For anyone not familiar with this jargon, when you type something like "mexican restaurants los angeles" into one of the internet's various search engines, this is known as a search string and it returns a listing of various sites that contain these words. Here are a few of the strange ones that led to Paulspond:

1) "I hate cihost" - This is the name of hugesmile's domain host - apparently I'm not the only one out there who experiences frustration with its tendancy to crash for weeks at a time.
2) "tornadoes in chicago" - This I have no idea about. When did I write about tornadoes?
3) "LAPD how to perform the pit maneuver" (#4 on yahoo) - First of all, what the hell is the pit maneuver? I guess this was pieced together from a bunch of random words in my Phase 3a writing page - it seems some of the engines work this way. When I repeated the search the title was followed by: "...weight room and ball-pit... Tuesday I’ll perform a similar maneuver, perhaps biking it the... massive manhunt ensued. LAPD officers (or RBPD officers in..." I'm hope this was helpful to whoever was interested in LAPD pit maneuvers.
4) "Livingroom wrestling" (#3 on yahoo) - Aw, yeah.
5) "omelet maker employment" (#8 on google and yahoo) - Are you serious? I didn't know employment tribulations were getting so bad I was writing about this.

Keep looking for me. I'll make a sidebar and keep these up permanently when I get some more good ones.

Catching Up - 5/29/04
I locked the keys inside the Buick this week, a bonehead move I’ve never made before but that turned out not to be too serious. Triple A had an easy time of getting it open again… in fact too easy. It seems with a little tool called a Slim Jim, any car door can be opened in roughly ten seconds. This little metal hook just goes down between the window and the door, finds the hook, pulls up, and there you go. It literally took him four seconds from the time he got out of his car to the time the door was opened. It would have taken me that long to open the door if I’d had the keys! I wonder how long it takes him to hotwire…

In other news, the Buick still hasn’t sold despite a guy from San Diego who contacted me… but I guess he was looking for someone locally who could bring the car by, he could test drive it, and then buy it that day. As he put it “I need something promptly, as i'm selling my ex's car tomorrow (?) i hope. if you know what i mean,” I don’t, actually, but thanks for shopping. I’ve resorted to starting on auction for it on Ebay. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Finally, I’ve been winning most of the time at my weekly Tuesday night poker game but losing most of the time at my weekly Thursday night beach football game. Apparently in adulthood I’m better at gambling than sports, which is a change from what I’m used to. But financially it’s good – or it would be if I didn’t spend all my gambling winnings on beer at the weekly Thursday bar night after the game.

Flaming Line Dunk Contest - 5/30/04
Last night we were minding our own business, drinking and barbequeing, when an impromptu flaming-line-slam-dunk-contest broke out. For anyone who doesn't know, it involves lighter fluid, a line of fire on our driveway, and slam dunking. So basically just what it sounds like. It happened the first time when old house friends Steve, Mike, Jesse and Nuf were in town. This time we got video footage.

Clip 1 Clip 2 Clip 3
Elia quails at the fire and pulls up into a lame NBA-Jam-style finger roll. Handsome Mark nearly converts. Gabe the Fire-Mage was not stingy with the flame. Paul finally connects.

No, this is not a good idea. At one point half our driveway was on fire and people were running through it barefoot. It's about as meat-headed as things have gotten around here.

And yet, happening on Memorial Day eve, I fear this is just a taste of what this summer is going to be like. Neither Gabe nor I will be working much this summer. Both of us have been working too hard, and are very much looking forward to some mischief. Gabe and I are already bad enough influences on one another - the last thing we need is more free time and motivation. Throw in an ankle-sprain-healed Sam and an all-messed-up-on-summer JD, and trouble brews.

Look out for more slam-dunk contests. Look out for more fire. Look out for drinking, skunking, and Idiot Olympics 2. And for the love of god, look out.

Securitata! - 5/31/04
Today was my last day at Security. I needed to quit in order to watch my brother’s graduation, see my family and have a little vacation. Trust me, in this business it’s much easier to quit and then get rehired than to ask for two weeks off.

Though I may well return to the business when I get back, this temporarily marks the end of an entertaining era. Never have I been paid less, slept more, or got more things done during a job. Every bit of web design work, tutoring prep, Hugesmile writing, and general administrative catch-ups I’ve done in the past 8 months were completed while on the clock over here at the copy machine factory. When Sam and my screenplay gets made in a year I’ll be able to say that probably 90% of it was written while on duty as a security guard. A quick look at the numbers:

37 - Approximate number of times I left work to go meet Sam at the Marisposa coffee shop and write.
2 - Number of times they called me to do something while I was there.
100 - Estimated total dollars spent by me on hash browns and fries during all those meetings (though we tipped well).
5.5 - Record number of hours slept during one 8-hour shift.
9 - Estimate number of shifts I didn't fall asleep at all during my 8-month tenure.
32 - Number of DVDs watched while at work.
1 - DVD's actually rented for $$$ and not borrowed for free from the Redondo Beach library.
6 - Approximate amount of candy, in pounds, that I ate from various people's candy dishes during my nightly 1am walk around the corporate office building. My favorite were the Mr. Goodbars outside 3440.
5 - Days called in sick to run triathlons or get drunk with people.
0 - Days called in sick to actually be sick.
3 - Number of legitimate acts of security business I carried out during my two-thirds-year of employment.
1 - Number of Security Officer of the Month Awards.

Best job I've ever had? Well, it was annoying to work weekends, and keep in mind I did even less when I worked security in Chicago and got paid substantially more. But still, darn close. Maybe if they would have ever given me my plaque we’d know for sure.

Dilligence - 6/2/04
Check out this guy’s website. This is a dude who one day decided he wanted to get in shape… and had the meticulousness to do it right.

I’ve always ranked pretty high among most people as far as diligence goes. I’ve always thought there’s no point to living if you don’t have dreams, and no point to having dreams unless you make them happen. So I don’t have time just saying things and not starting them – and once I start thing I do them until they’re done.

But here’s a guy who’s possibly way more diligent than me. I try to update this website regularly – this guy makes databases like this. When John Stone decided to lose weight, he literally started monitoring every calorie that went into his body (and what its nutritional breakdown was), and every calorie that came out. With attention like this, it’s no wonder he had good results. What percent of Americans have this kind of work ethic rather than just wanting to take pills and do nothing and have the weight loose itself? I’d say less than .01%. He even made a gif animation from his daily progress photos that blends them together almost as a morph – it’s amazing. He even had the foresite to keep his arms in the same position. Jeez. I have to admire that.

I’ve always ranked pretty high among most people as far as diligence goes. But I’ve always tried to keep it real – to keep a perspective, and keep things from getting out of control. And here’s a guy who’s possibly crazy.

I found this guy’s online movie database – he had catalogued, without exception, the following information for the 200 DVDs he owns: Title, Year, Genre, Length, Director, Production Company, Principle Cast, Widescreen Format Availability, and DVD Extra Features. There may have been others but I can’t remember them all.

You can go too far. Working hard can get you a long way. It can supplement or even make up for talent and brains you may or may not be born with. But there are dangers present if one lets their assiduousness grow unchecked. When diligence goes wild – and crosses over the line into fastidious and then freakishly anal. Maybe this is my warning. I think I’ll go have a beer.

Vacation! - 6/3/04
I’m leaving for vacation today, and Paul’s Pond will be taking a little break as well. First stop is Boston for Mark’s graduation, then a drive back to Minneapolis with 6 family members plus luggage in Spacemobile Deuce (a new reality show coming this fall), then a little cabin action. I’ll be back posting again June 18th, so stay tuned!

Email me! paul@paulspond.com


California Ponderings



Road to the Whitehouses

Childhood Tales

Early Ponderings
(sometime in college)

Photo Galleries!

How You Found Me
Google me this... These are a few of the phrases people have searched for and found their way to the Pond.

- pants planter
- meathead vs aikido
- I hate CI Host
- mobaby bicycle
- omelet maker employment
- lymph node mission viejo
- LAPD how to perform the pit maneuver
- movie SHE-DEVIL vivaldi
- too much broccoli