Thursday, June 26, 2008

Pura Vida, Pt III

Ah, yes, I forgot I need to finish my Costa Rica post. Okay, so we hiked a lot, we ate a lot, we went kayaking, we went surfing, got massages and then we came home. I just saved you 45 minutes. But here are the highlights, starting with the critters:

After dinner one night, the Mrs. was changing when I saw a flurry of flailing and a call for help. Apparently a she had the nerve to disturb a small scorpion that had taken up residence in her shirt, and the tourist-hater scorpion did not take too kindly to that. Being the awesome husband that I am, my concerned response was, “Cool, there he is! Quick, get the camera!” Being the horrible wife that she is, she seemed more concerned about the bite on her shoulder and her needs rather than finding the camera for me. (I failed to convince her later that I was only hoping to get a picture to help identify the scorpion for the doctors.) There was just a small welt and not the intolerable pain that you hear about, but we went back to the lodge to ask if it was anything to be concerned about. They claimed the small ones weren’t poisonous and gave us a bag of ice to keep the swelling down. The Mrs. grabbed the ice pack and explained to me that it was for her shoulder and not my pants. The next day we talked to the resident biologist and he postulated that she probably only got nicked, since a full sting would have been much more painful. But it was still a cool story. And we learned to shake out our clothes for the rest of the trip.



The cabina isn’t really designed to keep everything out so we usually just slept with doors wide open to get the full effect of the ocean breeze and the sound of the surf. Insects weren’t a big problem, and the mosquito nets seemed to work pretty well. But immediately after the scorpion incident I was sent to do a bed check. I declared the bed safe for occupancy and went to brush my teeth when I was called out again, this time to find a jungle roach the size of my hand hanging on the mosquito netting. We then began debating our course of action. We could smash it, but that might cause a wet, messy explosion and I didn’t want to deal with the aftermath. We could capture it within the netting and attempt to transfer it outside, but that seemed too logistically complicated. We could get somebody from the lodge to handle it, but that seemed kind of wussy. Instead we opted for the swat with a towel toward the open
door, and I’m pleased to report it went swimmingly.



The following night we found a jungle crab hanging on the inside of the netting, which was removed using the same technique. And the next night I discovered a decent size Wandering Spider next to the bed, which I was able to direct outside using a piece of paper. After all this, I began offering my critter removal services to the other guests and made a tidy profit before leaving.



Please note that the only original photo is the roach. All the others are the best representations I could find on the Internets. But I’ll quit now before I digress and use up that 45 minutes I promised I wouldn’t take up. More to follow. And sweet dreams.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

With Mouth Wide Open

“Eating blueberries and drinking coffee.”

That’s what the Mrs. told me she was doing after her last cleaning at the dentist. Everyone at work is convinced that she writes my material for me. I’m surprised all of you haven’t figured that out yet.

Unfortunately it was my turn to go to the dentist on Monday for my six-month checkup and cleaning. I say “unfortunately” because as a child I had a dentist that I’m sure was trained as an auto mechanic, but took some whiteout and changed his diploma from ASE to DDS in an effort to make more money. I’m also pretty sure he made the change without investing in any new tools and completed most of his work with monkey wrenches and a Sears Craftsman socket set.

He was pretty old back then and by now I’m hoping he has suffered a slow, painful death, and I’ve since found a new dentist. My new dentist, due to the work that needed to be done as part of my cancer treatments, is number four on our household expense list, right behind rent, food, and hookers. I have a pretty good benefits package at work, but they still won’t pay for the hookers or dentists. So I guess I’ll keep stealing supplies even though I’m running out room to stash the copiers in our house. It’s starting to look like a damn Kinko’s in there. But I digress.

Despite the personal trauma and expense these visits cause me, it is slightly lessened because he’s a really nice guy and he employs UCDA (uber-cute dental assistant). Normally when I just go for a cleaning, I just see the hygienist and get a quick visit from the dentist to confirm all my teeth are still there. But this time, he personally did my cleaning and checkup. I’m not sure if it was just a slow day or if he’s figured out that I’m going to write about my visit and he likes the publicity, but I didn’t mind the personal attention. Although he did have UCDA note the slight recession around tooth #25 (I’ll be sending out an economic stimulus payment to the tooth later this week), he did tell me there was very little plaque and complimented me on my oral hygiene program. I bet that impressed her. Then, after he was done, he left us alone so that she could finish up with a thorough flossing and polishing.

It was the best Oral-B sex I’ve ever had.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

George

I see that George Carlin left us. Shit. I didn't know that the motherfucker was even in poor health. Why couldn't it be some other cocksucker. I don't think we've done any tributes to dead people since starting this site back in 1978. But there's a connection to Leper Pop. Not his death - we had nothing to do with that. Fuck, we're not that evil. We've been blamed for a lot of stuff, but we don't kill people. And we don't slam doors. That's just rude.

I'd always been a fan - he wasn't funny in a way that made me piss my pants, but I marveled at his word choice and usage of our language. It's almost ironic that perhaps his most famous routine caused such a stir with the cunts at the FCC. But I digress.

Back in 2004, I printed out the following excerpt from an interview he did while promoting one of his books:

CNN: What do you think of the state of the world today?

CARLIN: It's a big freak show. You gotta just enjoy it. That's my attitude. The human race is destroying itself slowly and it's wonderful to watch. It's being led by America, which has all the money and the power and the guns.

We're all given a ticket to the American freak show the day we're born and some people, they put their ticket away. Me, I watch the show.



That quote inspired our Leper Pop tagline - scalping tickets to the great American freak show. The more you know....

Oh, yeah. Tits.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Pura Vida, Pt. II

Planes, buses, or automobiles – those are the choices to get down to Puerto Jimenez. The bus is cheap, but it takes most of the day and I hear you’ll need a kidney transplant after arrival. Of course, you can drive the same roads in the comfort of your own four-wheel drive vehicle, but I’m not going on vacation to chauffer my wife around, make a wrong turn and end up in Columbia running drugs to make amends for running over a druglord’s puppy, even though he shouldn’t have been running around the middle of the road in a blinding rainstorm. So I ponied up the $75 or so for a 45-minute on a Twin Otter prop plane.

I guess getting a taxi pick up from a place called Casa 69 in Barrio California on a Saturday morning is more difficult than it sounds, so the owner recruited a friend/vendor who happened to be hanging out to give us a ride over to the Pavas Airport for our flight to Puerto Jimenez. He didn’t speak any English, but the car looked like it may have had enough legs to make the trip so I hopped in and saw it as an opportunity to practice my Spanish. Here is what the translated conversation probably sounded like to each of us:

Driver: Are you going to the beach? [So far, so good.]
Sid: Yes. [I’ve got the Si and No down pretty well.] [Technically, we weren’t exactly going to the beach, but I just got excited that I recognized the word “playa”.]
Driver: Are the turkeys put up in the trees?
Sid: Sorry, I only have a moment to speak Spanish to tiny people.
Driver: (nods)

Sid: Do you return to cry at the oranges at Casa 69?
Driver: No, I have a job on the street when it rains.
Sid: (nods)

Sid: Do you live in the airport terminal?
Driver: Yes, my children attend dances at 3 pm.
Sid: We have never eaten children.


After about 20 minutes of this engaging cross-cultural dialogue, we arrived at the small airport and checked in. We were flying one of the larger airlines (19 passengers), so we were allowed 25 pounds of luggage per person (inclusive of one checked bag and one small carry-on). We’re simple folk so this wasn’t as difficult as it sounds, but at check-in we were informed that they wouldn’t have room for luggage so we would need to carry on just what we needed until they could deliver the rest the next day. No problem – we just stashed our toiletries, a swimsuit, and an extra shirt in our hillbilly trash bag and were ready to go. We also had to weigh-in for the flight, which I assured the Mrs. was strictly so we’d know whom to eat first in case of a crash. She didn’t find it as funny as I did.

Some minor turbulence, but not enough to stop the Mrs. from ever speaking to me again, and after a quick shot down the Pacific coast soon we were descending for a landing. Where we were landing was a little less clear, but I assured the Mrs. that the pilot had likely been there before and could find the airport. Luckily I was right, and after a couple unexpected air show stunts he set the plane down on the gravel airstrip next to a cemetery. We hopped off the plane near the terminal (a chain link fence with a small sign) and found the Land Rover for the property at which we were staying.

The forty-five minute drive to the lodge helped confirm that I made the right choice to fly as we dodged sinkholes, potholes, rocks, trees, motorcycles, bicycles, small children, small animals, more potholes and lost rabbis. We also made it though several creek crossings under the expert guidance of our driver Frank, who makes the trek several times daily and is able to point out wildlife while doing so. After arriving, it’s another five minutes up the driveway and finally you arrive at Bosque del Cabo. As soon as we made it up the steps of the lodge, we were greeting with some pineapple drinks, relieved of our Hefty bag, and offered some lunch menus.

Costa Rica has two well-known national dishes – rice and beans, and beans and rice. Casado is a lunchtime dish with rice and beans, a side of meat, salad and fried plantains. I assimilate very well and ordered the casado while the Mrs. jumped on the curry chicken sandwich. As we both cleaned our plates, Carlos came by to welcome us, give us the lowdown on meals, teach us the Costa Rican national anthem, review the trail map with us and then show us to our cabina – La Palma.

The cabin rocked. But the trails called to us like a coconut cream pie, so we unpacked our Hefty bag, grabbed the trail map and raced to the trailhead. The race ended after about 25 feet when we realized that the humidity was about 180% and we would surely perish if we kept up that pace. I’m getting all hot and sweaty just thinking about it, so I’ll continue later. Really.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Pura Vida, Pt I

When we last left our hero, he was preparing for vacation. I never really got into comics and the whole superhero thing. Underdog was about the only one I really followed. Him and Hong Kong Phooey. They had better not try making any movies about those two or I’ll be really pissed. Aww, man… I just did some research and there’s a rumored release of a HKP movie starring Jackie Chan in 2010. Further research yields that an Underdog movie was released last year, but I don’t remember it so Disney is off the hook for now. But I turn aside from the main subject.

So the Mrs. took her board exam on a Wednesday, burned her review books on Thursday and wrung out her brain, and the taxi came to get us bright and early Friday morning for our flight to San Jose, Costa Rica. The flights down were uneventful except for our flight out of Terminal E, Gate 12. Or as it shows on the boarding pass – 12E. No problem except that one of our seats was 12E and several people that don’t understand the difference between a gate and a seat insisted on trying to sit in our laps or threaten to report us to the Department of Transportation. After a few punches to the throat they finally figured it out and left us alone to watch The Man With Two Brains on DVD. I had forgotten the movie was rated R so I hope we didn’t offend the woman next to us wearing the flying nun outfit. Get that cat out of here!

After getting our luggage and clearing customs without any questions regarding my unusually large stash of Shania Twain CDs, we bought our taxi voucher and waited for the next little orange taxi going downtown. I gave the driver the printed out directions for our first stop – Casa 69. Knock it off – that’s the address. As I already had to explain to my family when giving them our emergency contact information, it’s not a sex club and we’re not swingers so keep the orgy invites to yourselves. You know, unless Kate Beckinsale will be there. I left out that part about the orgies when explaining it to the family – I’m happy to report that orgy invites have not been an issue. But I turn aside from the main subject.

It was raining with heavy traffic on a Friday afternoon, so the normal 20 minute drive took about 45 minutes. It might have taking longer but for the aggressive maneuvering of our driver, which seems to be the norm down there. In Mexico City, I had a driver once tell me that they have an expression that literally translates as “throwing metal” to describe the driving. The same expression could apply to San Jose as well. I never felt unsafe, but I did fear for the plethora of motorcycle riders who routinely ride the lane markers between the cars just waiting to be the victim of a Malachi Crunch.

Casa 69, being a small bed and breakfast, is not that well-known which is why one has to give the drivers directions – just past the Museo Nacional and hang a right at the Nicaraguan Embassy. I was hoping that the Nicaraguan government wasn’t up to anything stupid because nothing ruins a vacation like angry protestors with an affinity for arson. The driver turned down a small, mostly deserted street and pulled up to a small structure behind a wall with barbed wire at the top and a security gate at the door. No signage but for a small 69. I made him wait until someone answered the door and confirmed we were at the right place (I had some doubts). Soon a guy wearing a Casa 69 polo shirt appeared, grabbed our bags and welcomed us in. It was a cool little house, true to the pictures on the website, and they took us to our room after checking in and letting us know when the next gang bang started. The room was small, but clean, and even had security bars on the window for our protection. Not that we needed them, but it allows one to sleep with the windows open without worrying about being attacked by Merv Griffin. But now that he’s dead, I’m guessing the bars offer little protection from the ghost of Merv Griffin. Maybe it’s time I let my Merv Griffin phobia go and stop letting it ruin every vacation.

After getting organized and a quick nap, we went to the main house and met the owner, Kurt, and got some dinner recs. Although I had some initial reservations about walking around the neighborhood without my ninja throwing stars which were confiscated by the TSA, I soon found that my only fear was breaking an ankle on the slightly uneven sidewalks. Not exactly ADA compliant. After a few laps around the neighborhood, we decided on Trocadero – a nice place with a trendy club in the back and a good selection of pasta, steak, and seafood where we ran up a 15,000 colones bill. Fortunately, that’s only about $30 for an awesome meal that probably would have run at least twice that back home. We strolled back in the light rain and got our bags packed for the next leg of our trip.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Movie Reviews of Movies I’ve Watched Half-Assedly On Airplanes While Listening To My iPod and Doing A Crossword Puzzle

A new feature from Leper Pop. I hope it milks your cow.

The Bucket List

You probably know this one – two terminal cancer patients played by Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman take off to complete a list of crazy stuff like skydiving before they kick the bucket, and in doing so, they also learn some lessons or change for the better or something really deep like that.

So the beginning of the movie is all hospital set up stuff. Morgan is just sitting around ready to die and Jack is some rich evil overlord of the hospital in which he soon finds himself a patient. They appear to get on each other's nerves, but then suddenly they're all the skydiving and car racing and doing body shots at the Playboy Mansion. The end is all the lessons learned crap that will make you rethink your priorities if you're ever in the hospital dying of cancer and rooming with either Jack Nicholson or Morgan Freeman. Hey, it could be worse. You could get stuck rooming with Carrot Top.

I guess if it’s raining on a Saturday afternoon and you’re caught up on your chores and there’s no good games on and the movie happens to be on TBS or something then it might not be bad to watch.

Definitely, Maybe

This one starred the guy from that TV show “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place” that I used to watch on occasion because I had a small crush on the chick with the short blond hair on the show (Traylor Howard). In fact, I think that’s the only reason I watch any sitcom. Or any drama. Or any television in general. I don’t even think I’d watch the news as much if it were anchored solely by Abe Vigoda types. But I digress. In case you didn’t watch “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place” (which coincidentally is also the same situation in which I lost my virginity (I have proof – the girl filmed the whole thing)), it’s also the same guy from that Van Wilder movie. I haven’t seen that movie since it came out when I was well past college age and besides, he’s no John “Bluto” Belushi so I’ll take a pass. But I still digress.

It seemed to be some sort of twisted romantic date-night comedy with the obligatory cute endearing kid. If you’re on-board with that formula, then you’ll probably like it. Oh, and, possible spoiler alert (I’m not sure since I actually have no idea of the plot), but at the end I did note that the bookstore chick from the 40-Year Old Virgin and JD’s girlfriend from Scrubs (another show I’ll tolerate because of the cute chick with the short blond hair (Elizabeth Banks)) makes an appearance. That was pretty exciting. (I’m also a big fan of Christa Miller, but wanted to stick with the short blond hair theme) Then in the movie everybody hugged and waved goodbye and looked like they were going to cry and then the movie ended while I continued to think of a seven-letter word starting with “d” meaning to turn aside from the main subject.

I’m off to Tulsa, and I don’t think there are any movies on that route, but maybe the passenger next to me will be watching one on their laptop. We can only hope.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Mini Mall Is M

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Oh, You Were Gone?

In case you hadn't noticed, I've been absent for a few weeks. I intended to post the following before I disappeared, but ran out of time. So pretend you read this a couple weeks ago. Thank you for your cooperation.

Cat food is always on the agenda of the quarterly meeting. Not at work, but at home. Yes, I have a quarterly meeting at home to review the operations and finances of the F’er Estate. One of the key events during the meeting, besides the cocktail weenie reception immediately following, is the presentation of my Excel workbook with our investments in which I detail how much money I’ve lost us in the previous three months on exciting opportunities such as pork bellies and Velcro band-aids. Which leads to the discussion of cat food.

But I didn’t know you have a cat.

We don’t. But at the current rate we’re going to have to switch from fresh veggies and filets to Fancy Feast if I’m going to achieve my goal of early retirement. (And by filets, I mean Filet O’ Fishes instead of filet mignons in case the theater of your mind was picturing the F’ers at opposite ends of a table the length of a bowling lane in a grand dining room being served by a personal butler and maid.) The Mrs. had a problem with this new strategy despite the line of new flavors such as Flaked Ocean Whitefish which I presented. This led to a great debate which was resolved by agreeing to an international vacation as energy and food costs skyrocket and the country teeters on the brink of recession.

About the same time as the F’er quarterly meeting, Forbes magazine sends out their quarterly supplement called Forbes Life. The irony of receiving this issue at this time provides me with hours of entertainment, because as a reader of their fine publication Forbes assumes that I also have more than cat food money in my accounts and need ideas on how to spend it all. In the most recent issue, Forbes Life recommended a personal submarine for the price of $1.7 million. This made the AMC Pacer I’ve had my eye on seem pretty reasonable, even though the Pacer won’t take you underwater. Unless you’re a really poor driver. But you don’t want to be driving in Lake Michigan anyway.

Forbes Life also detailed how to see Greece on $50,000 a day. Suddenly, the budget I set up for vacation didn’t seem so bad. True, I won’t have my own personal yacht, but I like my itinerary better. A week with no phones, no internets, no email, no television, no radio, no traffic, no cars, no exams, no textbooks, no hospitals, no doctors, no meetings, no train schedules, no Starbucks, no tabloids, no spam, no advertising, no skateboards, no elections, no superdelegates, no summer blockbusters… just a little shack in the middle of nowhere. My own little Unabomber personal vacation, without the nasty explosives. (Note to the FBI: I’m not working on any manifestos out there, just going to be doing a little hiking, so you don’t need to open a file on me. I’m rather harmless, even when I wear my intimidating looking black longshoreman hat.)

In another twist of irony, The Man scheduled a meeting for work on the day I return. So instead of easing back into American life, I’m flying directly into McCarren International Airport. For anyone unfamiliar with it, that is in Las Vegas.

I’ll probably be curled up in my room with a can of cat food shielding my eyes from the frightful neon excesses and other sensory overload.

If I don’t come back, I’m sure you’ll understand. If that’s the case, I’ll try to make it to the internet cafĂ© over in Mount Pilot to send an update once in a while.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Success Story

An excerpt from the Career Center’s bi-daily newsletter, Working for The Man and Nobody Cares If You Like It or Not, featuring an interview with a star pupil who learned to get in line, shut up and be counted.


How was the Career Center beneficial to you?

The staff at the Career Center has been an excellent resource throughout the job search process. Many of them have backgrounds in recruiting or human resources and also maintain close relationships with their best friends’ Uncle Karls. I found their advice very valuable in seeing the recruiting process from the undersea weatherman’s perspective. This helped me focus on making a good bouillabaisse in all aspects of the process and also avoid showering with hairy men or pitfalls that can cause a candidate to be overlooked, disqualified, or, at the worst, hired by a crappy company.


What advice were you given?

Besides "don’t kiss the interviewer on the first interview"?


Yes.

As a student in the process of changing careers, I initially came to the career center for the free donuts and the desperate women. I received great suggestions on how to fabricate new skills and education on my resume (do I LOOK like a Solid Gold Dancer to you? I do on my resume.) and combine them with my previous experience as a drooling drunk derelict. The format changes also made it much easier to read, which is very important when you consider the limited cognitive capacity employers may have when initially screening candidates. My resume now consists of mostly pictures of dinosaurs and teddy bears, and a Sudoku puzzle. I believe all the changes I implemented were responsible for a greatly improved response rate (0% up to ½ %). Although I had experience in one-on-one hockey games, the career fairs that the school sponsors obviously require a different wardrobe than my usual tunics made out of shag carpeting. The Career Center can tell you what to expect at these events, how to approach the recruiters, which ones are the dish rags, how to make the most elaborate dinner center piece out of the brochures, and follow-up strategies, like inviting them to clog dance orgies.



What advice would you give students about the Career Center?

The Career Center isn’t only there to coordinate interviews when you’re ready to graduate, but they can teach you how to clean port-o-potties for when their interview strategies don’t work. This includes scrubbing, disinfecting, curtailing the puke reflex, how to get the stink out of your clothes, how to lie about your job to women and more. If your attending the university to enhance your career possibilities, be sure to include the Career Center as something to do before happy hour, or maybe even after happy hour – as long as happy hour is in there somewhere. The classroom education you receive will help you qualify for new opportunities, but unless you know how to feign interest and to kiss major corporate ass, you may find it difficult to realize those opportunities. It’s a very competitive job market and you should take advantage of all the resources available to help you stand out while hiding your true identity as an undersexed drunk pawn, which is what you’ll end up being, anyway.


Does your life in the corporate world still suck, even after the change of careers?

Yup.