Salad Dressing and Food Memory

Why I still like ranch dressing even though I am not fourteen

Recently, I made a salad dressing from a recipe created by Jeff Chamberlain, a friend from Facebook. I’ve included the following ingredients below as proof.

I had to make a trip to the store and I still couldn’t find the right hot sauce. Sorry, Jeff.

Jeff describes the recipe as “Ranch for Grownups.” You see, Jeff disapproves of ranch dressing consumption for anyone over the age of fourteen. But don’t take it from me, here is a direct quote from Jeff himself:

I have a strong opinion about Ranch dressing. That opinion is that it need not be consumed by anyone over the age of 14 least they be presumed to have absolutely no culinary taste. They might as well put ketchup on their steak.

Is ranch just for kids? My argument with Lisa Stringer (my tried and true tested recipe included)

Out of his deep concern for my lack of culinary refinement, Jeff created the “Only Acceptable Ranch Dressing Recipe.” The recipe was nice, and was great on a cobb salad, but it still wasn’t “ranch.”

A very grown up cobb salad.

Even Jeff admits it is more of a Buttermilk Dressing, “more sour, garlic, umami” and without the sweetness he dislikes in traditional ranch. I started thinking about why this recipe, while very tasty, didn’t really meet the bar for me. That is when I realized it was missing one crucial ingredient, nostalgia.

When considering other foods, for which I have an inexplicable craving, I noticed a pattern. For example, when I go to the store for cucumbers, they have to be a specific kind: the small pickling cucumbers. They are smaller in size and a bit bumpier than their cousins. They are all essentially cucumbers. What is it about the subtle difference that fails to trigger the proper effect? I am the same way about fries. When I go out for fries, I prefer the natural cut fries to the crispier golden McDonalds variety.

The key isn’t in food itself, but in its context. These specific foods, for me, are a link to the past. When my brother and I were very young, we spent most of our summer days at my grandmother’s house in the country. For lunch, we would have the fresh pickling cucumbers picked directly from her garden, sliced on a plate with potatoes she fried in a cast iron skillet with lard. Only a specific type of cucumber and a specific preparation of a potato can reproduce the context of that experience.

Fast forward to my love of ranch dressing that began when I started boarding school at San Marcos Academy. The girls at this school were fans of this stuff. They would create ranch-based concoctions from the salad bar in the cafeteria that would make Paula Dean take note. Here are some instructions if you would like to create one yourself:

  1. Fill a small bowl with cottage cheese.
  2. Cover ALL of the cottage cheese thoroughly with a layer of ranch dressing.
  3. Add bacon bits. Not real bacon, but those bright red fake bacon bits next to the sunflower seeds and squares of croutons.
  4. Finish the dish with a sprinkle of black pepper.
  5. Optional: Add cheddar cheese goldfish crackers as a garnish.

I tried the dish a couple of times, out of respect for the indigenous culture, but I was never able to ever acquire a taste for it.

Adjacent to the cafeteria was a snack bar manned by a college boy. Back then, he seemed so much older and more sophisticated than us. Looking back, I think he must have been biding his time serving fried foods between his liberal arts classes. I’m not sure where he is now. He is older certainly, in real life, but in my memory he will always be the young kid with unruly hair that my friends would create excuses to talk to. It was in this snack bar that I first tried fried cheese. Cheese sticks deep fried in breading served over checkered paper in a plastic basket, the dish came with five-star recommendations from my classmates, and… a side of ranch.

Ranch lovers unite! Wear this everywhere you go, and you will never have to ask for ranch again.

The girls also introduced me to the show, Saturday Night Live. I discovered that watching this show was as much as a requirement for survival in school as actual coursework. Only your teacher will notice if you miss a couple of math problems. However, you can’t get away with a quizzical look on your face when the cute guy in your art class squishes a clay sculpture saying “oh no… Mr. Bill” in a falsetto voice.

So, I would stay up late, catching up on my popular culture by watching Dana Carvey play the Church Lady. This experience was accompanied with orders of cheese sticks from the local pizzeria. The cheese sticks, which I think we ordered consistently because they were cheaper than pizza, were basically pizza crust buried in layers of mozzarella, cut into narrow rectangles, and served with … a side of ranch.

This may be a good time to note that Jeff Chamberlain finds the pizza-ranch paring particularly distasteful.

If you know Jeff, please do NOT buy him this t-shirt for Christmas or any other occasion.

I began to wonder why I have some type of emotional connection to these specific foods. Is it because they are a connection to my past? Why are food memories so powerful? I didn’t have to google very far.

Of all the explanations, I like the way Susan Krauss Whitbourne describes the connection. Susanna Zaraysky quotes her in her article in BBC Travel:

Food memories involve very basic, nonverbal, areas of the brain that can bypass your conscious awareness. This is why you can have strong emotional reactions when you eat a food that arouses those deep unconscious memories. You can’t put those memories into words, but you know there is ‘something’ that the food triggers deep within your past. The memory goes beyond the food itself to the associations you have to that long-ago memory, whether with a place or a person.

Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Professor Emerita of Psychology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Why food memories are so powerful by Susanna Zaraysky

It isn’t really about the food itself, but the emotional connection. Food pulls at the tide of your memory.

In “Food and Memory – How are they linked,” Joy Intriago describes how experts in the medical field are using food memory connections to treat patients with dementia. Nursing homes use nostalgia to combat memory loss by playing music from the same era as the patient. The music can trigger lost memories and ease anxiety. Specialized memory units in nursing homes are taking this a step further, using the “strong sensory, biological and psychological link between food and memory” to make progress in memory related challenges.

Maybe the attraction to these foods are tied to my faint recollection of long summer days spent in the country or the fond memory of sharing food with friends. The point is that it was always more than just a type of cucumber or a brand of salad dressing. Food can be a connection to the past that is tangible and real. The reason I still like ranch dressing even though I am not fourteen is that I am still a child at heart.

Do you have any special food memories? Tell me about them in the comments! Then, take a trip to Jeff’s blog to make some ranch dressing for grownups.

How to Survive at Jury Duty – Part Three – The Lawyers

They have called you in. If the trial needs a jury of twelve people, there will be seventy of you to choose from. I think this is so they can weed out all the idiots. I should probably explain what I mean by idiots. Some of you have never been in a pool of random people since high school, so you have no idea what I am talking about. Imagine that guy at work who says ridiculous things at a meeting and you are like, “Why did you just say that? You are making no sense.” Well, from what I can tell by jury duty, people are like that. Of course, those are the people who got to go home, so in retrospect, they are a lot smarter than I was.

The first moment I should have realized I was in trouble was when the first lawyer stood in front of all of us and said, “Who would not be able to give fair and impartial consideration to someone who is on trial for child molestation?” At that point, all the women in the jury pool (except for like 3 of us, which was a huge mistake) immediately raised their hands and started yelling, “I HATE child molesters!” I’m thinking, “Damn, people. No one LIKES a child molester. They just want to give the guy a fair trial.” Then, this odd thing popped into my head that, maybe I should go the other direction with this one. I should say, “Some of my best friends are child molesters. They have a great sense of humor… good with kids…” But… let the record show that I did NOT say that.

Then, this other lawyer starts asking questions. He wants to know everyone’s political agenda. So, being the outside-the-box thinker that he is, he decides he will discern this information by asking people about their hobbies and their bumper stickers. All SEVENTY people.

Here are some hobbies that I don’t think should be hobbies:

1. Living healthy. Really? Living healthy is a hobby now?? What do you do for fun? Eat kale?


2. Going to the gym. Yay, you! look at all your muscley muscles. I am SO impressed.

3. Family. Oh… your family is your hobby? Is that something  you take up on the weekends?

4. Having a Christian Fashion blog. I actually wish I could have found out more about this one. I’m not exactly sure how this fits together.


So, I told the guy I had absolutely NO hobbies. At which point the paddle board instructor sitting next to me offered to let me take one of her classes on a Wednesday. The selling point on Wednesday is that it is an ‘all girls’ day and you don’t ‘have’ to wear makeup. The fact that anyone would EVER wear make up to exercise is totally beyond my comprehension, so I don’t think I will be going.

The problem with this line of interrogation is that I also told the lawyer I had no bumper stickers. His clever ruse of digging up my political agenda would NOT be working today. It was only when  a guy in the back proudly proclaimed that he had not only one, but TWO, Trump bumper stickers, that I realized my grievous error.


They probably don’t actually CHECK your car for the bumper stickers you claim you have. If I had just been willing to pretend, like for 45 minutes out of my day, that I had a Trump sticker attached to my car, I would NOT have been chosen to be on a jury.


I gained access to this door. I am  AUTHORIZED.

When I heard my name called for the final selection, part of me was like, “WHAT????” But, the other part, despite of everything, was like, “YAY! I WON!!!! Take THAT suckas!!!”

So, that is how I won at jury duty. Yay, me.


How to Survive at Jury Duty – Part Two – Arriving at the Courthouse

When you arrive at the courthouse, there will be lots of other people arriving at the courthouse. They will be parking their cars and walking into the courthouse like they know what they are doing. Do not be fooled by this behavior. They have no clue either. Just casually park your car and walk in like you know what you are doing.


The is what a basic courthouse will look like. Your results may vary.

After you park your car and walk in, you will go through the metal detectors, because you aren’t allowed to take your scissors or guns into the courthouse. As a general rule, I try not to carry around stuff I can kill people with, so this didn’t bother me.


Wait… Why does THIS guy get a sword??

Once you enter the building, you will find out that all the people who looked like they knew what they were doing, really have no idea. As for me, I NEVER know what I am doing, so this is a situation I know how to handle. The first thing you should do is look for some sort of sign. It may be subtle, so look closely.


Thanks, sign people. This is just what I was looking for.

Once you have found the sign, you should go where it directs. At that point, you will join billions of people crammed in a waiting room with back episodes of some home improvement show playing on Home and Garden Television blaring at high volume. You would think they would play Court TV, but go figure. After being tortured by the high pitched giggles of a woman trying to remove a toilet while renovating her bathroom, you will be incredibly grateful when they call your name.







How to Survive at Jury Duty – Part One – What to Wear

So, I got the dreaded postcard in the mail. JURY SUMMONS.


Failure to appear can result in a fine, incarceration, or both! You don’t want to be incarcerated AND have a fine, because that is the worst.

It is in all caps, because these people are SERIOUS. The first thing that concerns me, as with every new endeavor, is… what the hell do I wear??? The instructions say, “No shorts and no uniforms.” That leaves a LOT of grey area.

I started dealing with this problem by researching the Internet. By “researching the Internet” I mean, ask people on Facebook what they think I should do.

Amy pointed out that within in the boundaries of the rules,  I could wear both shorts AND a uniform. She suggested a “boy scout ensemble.” Debbie recommended an inflatable T-Rex costume, but I couldn’t find one on Amazon with the three day shipping. Carey suggested a hot dog on a stick costume, but again, Amazon delivery on obscure costumes isn’t the best. Joseph recommended a cocktail dress, which was an EXCELLENT idea. Except, I had to be there at 8:30 and the idea of putting on a cocktail dress when I wouldn’t actually be having cocktails was a little depressing. Audriana said I should wear a swimsuit and look disappointed there wasn’t an actual jury “pool.” Which would have been hilarious, but I would never have the nerve to ever wear a swimsuit in public. So, that idea was a fail. Sorry, Audriana… thanks for the effort.

Suz actually offered to loan me her Dr. Seuss hat to wear, which was VERY thoughtful.


This is what I should have worn to jury duty.

In the end, went with the advice of Paul, which was basically, “Screw their rules.” By “screw their rules,” I mean that I found something to wear that wasn’t shorts and stopped overthinking it. I decided to go with what I would usually wear to work in hopes that I would be quickly dismissed and head on in to the office. This turned out to be a HUGE mistake. I should have taken Suz up on that Dr. Seuss hat.


This is me, looking normal, for jury duty. Huge mistake.

As it turns out… you should NEVER go to jury duty looking, or being, anywhere near normal. If you don’t want to get stuck in this place for days, you need to step it up a notch. The people of Facebook told me (a little too late, thanks for NOTHING) that isn’t even about what you are wearing. You can carry stuff. Billye suggested murder mysteries because people who read those ask too many questions in the jury room. Robert suggested one of Rush Limbaugh’s books.

However, all of the advice you have heard up until now is all wrong. Gather close, everyone.. I will tell you the true secret of getting out of jury duty. That secret is…. you need a political agenda. Take my advice and get one now so you can have it handy. That way you won’t be trying to order last minute T-Rex costumes on Amazon.

How NOT to keep readers reading your articles on WordPress

Oh dear. It seems I have pissed someone off with my blog. I TOTALLY did not see this coming.  Don’t worry… I took screen shots of the comments so you can all enjoy my moment:

Comment 01

Wow… I had a RANT? Awesome. Wait… I had a rant on my guide to making t-shirts for Zazzle? That is terrible place for a rant. What kind of blog am I running here?

Comment 02

First of all… pretty funny? I am incredibly insulted. Secondly, how can a person get upset over gun and baby hating comments on a blog post about making t-shirts? Why on earth would anyone even bring up guns and babies while talking about making stuff on Zazzle? Oh, wait… this is MY blog. Frank is probably right, I do tend to drift from the topic at hand.

Dear Frank: Please allow me remedy the anti-gun and anti-life rant on the Zazzle T-shirt Guide by explaining my stance more clearly. It is NOT that I am pro-abortion. It is that I am against making women have babies. You see Frank, I have had a baby. I had a baby nine years ago. That was NINE years ago and he is STILL following me around asking for stuff like food, and clothing, and hermit crabs. You wouldn’t believe it Frank, it is like a NIGHTMARE. For a while, he was even making me watching this show with him about these trains that talked. TALKING TRAINS, Frank! I would never push that on anyone. It just seems cruel.

This is just to prove that I am not making up the whole thing about the talking trains.

This is just to prove that I am not making up the whole thing about the talking trains.

About the guns, I have to admit that they do make me uncomfortable. However, that is not because of MSNBC or ESPN, it is because of the messy cleanup. Have you seen Pulp Fiction? Those guys accidentally shot some dude in their car and there was brain mess EVERYWHERE. It took forever for them to clean it up. You probably don’t know me very well, Frank, but I am VERY accident-prone. If I am carrying a gun around, I will definitely end up shooting someone in my car.


See… look at the front of John Travolta’s shirt. No amount of OxyClean is ever getting that out.

As far as believing everything I see on MSNBC, can you please tell me what channel that is on? I mainly use my television for watching documentaries about cats. Also, I’m not that good at running the menu guide or telling what channel stuff is on. Also, I hate that Matt Lauer guy. Is he going to be on the MSNBC channel? Because, if so… I’m OUT. I don’t even know why I hate him. He is probably a totally nice guy. Not that I would sit down and have lunch with him or anything. I really don’t have time for all that. It must be the hair.

Matt Lauer's hair. It is VERY unsettling.

Matt Lauer’s hair. It is VERY unsettling.

So, to recap, it is not that I meant to piss you off, Frank. I am really very open-minded about these things. Any rants I may accidentally post to my Zazzle Guidelines stem directly from the fact that I do not want to have lunch with Matt Lauer. Honestly, I don’t even know how this stuff comes up. Sorry you stopped reading my blog because of my undue dislike of Matt Lauer’s haircut. You are probably justified. However, I must confess that most people stopped reading this blog a long time ago because it hasn’t been updated in ages. Ironically… you, Frank, are like my BIGGEST fan!

This is for you, Frank!

Also… one more…

You can never be too careful.

You can never be too careful.

Sweets from Finland

It isn’t everyday that you get a package of sweets from Finland from @heinakroon.

Look everyone I got sweets from Finland. SWEETS! From FINLAND!

Look everyone I got sweets from Finland. SWEETS! From FINLAND!

One fateful morning, I found this package in my mailbox. Andreas sent me salted licorice! I squealed with glee and took my find immediately to the people who would appreciate it the most: my office mates in cubicle land.

My cubicle mate was very impressed that people on Twitter would send me licorice from Finland. My cubicle mate never seems very impressed with me in general because I never know what is on YouTube even though things have had like a million hits or whatever. I save face by telling him that the rock I live under doesn’t get wireless. Today, however, things are about to change. I told him that not ONLY have I received licorice from Finland, I have also received penguin chips from New Zealand (via @carocreature) AND pickled mango with a sexy bikini postcard from Hawaii (via @daralynnieloo). Then… he FOLLOWED me. Can you believe it?

Andreas got me the XXL Salmiak. Because that is how I roll!

Andreas got me the XXL Salmiak. Because that is how I roll!

When Andreas sends you licorice, he is very thorough. Not only did he sent the salted licorice I told him on Twitter I wanted to try, but he also sent a slab of regular licorice, and some lovely chocolate with licorice centers.

This is the licorice assortment I took around the office for EVERYONE to try. They all appreciated it. I can tell by the distrustful looks they gave me.

This is the licorice assortment I took around the office for EVERYONE to try. They all appreciated it. I can tell by the distrustful looks they gave me.

So, I assembled this very attractive platter of licorice from Finland and took it around for everyone to try. People seem to be suspicious of me in general, I have no idea why. Carrying around this licorice assortment did nothing for my credibility. However, sometimes people need me to do stuff for them. Even though I am actually paid money to sit around this place and do things for people, I guess it never hurts to humor someone and try their salted licorice.

How to get people to try your licorice

The chocolate licorice is the gateway licorice. It looks and tastes like a nice creamy chocolate until suddenly, you hit the licorice center. Then, it is too late. You are already committed. You may as well go for the next licorice encounter.

If the person isn’t gagging too much from the licorice-squirting chocolate, then you offer the traditional licorice. I assume it is the traditional licorice. People in the office compared it to ripping apart a tire. Once people successfully rip a section from the licorice slab to start chewing on, it is time for the piece de resistance (and by that I mean the piece they will resist the most)… the salted licorice.

Mmm... salted licorice. Because salt makes everything better.

Mmm… salted licorice. Because salt makes everything better.

I tried the salted licorice several times, because I am assuming it is an acquired taste. Let me just start out by saying this is not a candy to be taken lightly.  At first, the flavor is very intense. Then, once you chew on the candy for a while, it is even more intense. If you like being simultaneously overwhelmed by the flavors of salt and licorice, then this is the treat for you. People in the office usually bit a piece of the salted licorice in half. They would chew it for a few seconds, then start immediately looking for a trash can to accommodate the other half.

This is our candy jar at work. My cubicle mate didn’t even THANK me for filling it up. People can be really ungrateful.

This is our candy jar at work. My cubicle mate didn’t even THANK me for filling it up. People can be really ungrateful.

I placed the rest of the candy in a lovely arrangement in our cubicle’s communal candy bowl. Only one guy really liked it, but he is from Iran. Not even that guy from Honduras who made me try those awful biscuits was a fan of the licorice. But, that does NOT mean that I am ungrateful for my care package from Finland. On the contrary, I would like to submit a formal thank you message to  @heinakroon.

Dear Andreas: Thank you so much for sending us all the licorice assortment. I’m sorry that it wasn’t received as well as I had hoped. Apparently, we aren’t used to licorice candy over here. I really can’t understand why. American licorice is just like licorice in Finland except we take out all the licorice flavor, twirl it around in a nice shape, and make it taste like strawberries. We also give it a cool name. What you call ‘Salmiak,’ we call ‘Twizzlers’. Note multiple use of the letter ‘z’. That is how you know your candy really has something if it is named with lots of z’s.

Hmmm. One of these things is not like the others.

Hmmm. One of these things is not like the others.

All in all, it was lots of fun, getting people to try all the licorice. I still keep it around to put out on my desk once in awhile. I’m fairly certain it has no expiration date, and it is great because people are a little more wary in coming around to chat in a perky voice early in the morning when there is licorice handy that I might make them try. It is like a “Go Away” sign, only subtle.

Come try my licorice... For when a stranger handing out candy just isn't creepy enough.

Come try my licorice… For when a stranger handing out candy just isn’t creepy enough.

Failed Hair Day

Because, when your hair looks great you should get credit for it. Even if it is all drizzly outside.

Happy Heart Attack Day

Today, on the very day that everyone is wearing red to celebrate heart attacks, I am NOT on my blood pressure medication. My blood is running amok UN-MEDICATED. But, at least I am not lying on the floor in pain with a bottle of Vicodin. I’m not sure what percentage heart attack chance I am signing up for here, but it is really, really hard to conduct your life while lying on your floor in pain. I missed Indian food day at work and everything.

Here is the whole story… as long and drawn out as possible…

One day my back hurt. That kind of hurting where it feels like your muscles are attacking themselves with battery acid. The kind of hurting where you leave home from work so you can go lay on the floor in agony holding a bottle of Vicodin.

So, I did what I guess people do when they are experiencing severe pain, I made an appointment and went to the doctor. This is a big step for me, because I really HATE going to the doctor. In case you haven’t seen  the television series House, medical science is a bunch of guesswork. You go in and describe your symptoms, then the doctors order a series of tests after which they still have no clue what is wrong with you. I guess they are trying to buy time until the test results come in, hoping whatever it is wrong with you will resolve itself on its own.

The doctor enters the room and asks what the problem is. I tell the doctor that the muscles are hurting in my upper back and shoulders. She asks if I am vomiting or if I have diarrhea. I tell her, that no, as a matter of fact I am not vomiting. If I were vomiting with diarrhea, then those would most likely the very set of symptoms I would start off with. I’m not one to bury the lead.

She seems a bit disappointed about the lack of vomiting. She then suggests blood work, an EKG and a chest X-ray. I say to this doctor, “You DID hear me say that my BACK hurt… right? Is an EKG really necessary?” After some negotiation, we agree to limit the testing to the blood work. Of course, my back is still killing me. But… hey, at least I’ll get some nice blood reports later.

So, I go home and try to sleep, but then wake up in the middle of the night and can’t feel my hands. My fingers are all numb and tingly. I don’t like this because I read once on one of those medical sites that this person’s nerves were getting all compressed and she was almost paralyzed for life.

I’ve been thinking recently that I will probably die alone with cats and hoarded magazines, but I never ONCE pictured being paralyzed before I even GOT the magazines. Plus, I would hate to be paralyzed around a bunch of cats. No telling what they would do to you. I doubt they would be kind. I decide to go to the ER before I become paralyzed. That way, at least I will be paralyzed for life around medical staff instead of cats and magazines I haven’t hoarded yet.

I get to the ER, and everyone seems strangely unconcerned about the fact that my back hurts like hell and I can’t feel my hands and I will soon be paralyzed for life. They keep asking me if I am vomiting. Or, if I am having diarrhea. I am so tired of explaining the lack of vomiting.

I'm NOT vomiting

Take this shirt with you to the ER. You will need it. Of course, if you do end up vomiting after all, you can just vomit directly on the shirt. The vomit will be readily apparent and this will save time for everyone.

The medical people at the emergency room also want to do the EKG and the chest X-rays. They even want to do a sonogram of my gallbladder. While I would love to see what my gallbladder is up to, I really don’t think it has anything to do with me not being able to feel my hands. I realize I have come to the wrong place to be saved from being eaten alive by cats.

I patiently explain that I am NOT vomiting, and I don’t need an EKG, or a chest X-ray. I especially don’t need a gallbladder sonogram. The doctor seems perplexed that anyone would blatantly refuse a perfectly good gallbladder sonogram, but finally comes to a surprising conclusion, “I guess we can just say your back hurts and let you go.”

Then I say, “My back DOES HURT! That is EXACTLY what I said when I came into this freak show.” Of course, I say this inside my mind because I notice the doctor is handing me some prescriptions. Prescriptions DIRECTLY RELATED to my back hurting. Wow. I’m stunned.

I end up leaving with steroids to bring down the swelling that was crushing my nerves and Vicodin to manage the pain. Because… my back hurt, apparently.

Turns out that I went through all of this because it is a side effect of the blood pressure medication the doctor put me on. Why do they even ASK you what medication you are on if they are just going to assume you have gallbladder failure?

I’ve been through four different kinds of this type of medication. None of them have really worked that well and all of them have had side effects. The first one made me crave pickle juice. Seriously, it did. The second one made me feel like I ate gravel and was walking around with rocks in my stomach. The third one gave me this constant cough that kept me up all night and must have been incredibly annoying to co-workers. Now this one makes my muscles feel like they are attacking themselves.

I really don’t want to get on another set of pills so I can wait for more new and surprising side effects, but you can’t just go around with your blood pressure high. They won’t let you.

I don’t have cholesterol problems, so my arteries aren’t filled with goo. I exercise, so I’m not carrying around extra weight. Maybe I just rev higher than other people. My dad is the same way, so it must be a hereditary thing. But you aren’t allowed to rev higher because doctors will not go for this theory at all.

It is just like when I wanted to carry that human skull with me at graduation. No one else is carrying human skulls. You are NOT allowed to be different, and this INCLUDES your blood (and carrying human skulls). If you go to the dentist with high blood pressure, they will totally freak out. So will the eye doctor. Pretty soon you can’t take your blood anywhere without people freaking out about it. The ironic thing is that while the people are all getting anxious and freaky, they don’t seem to realize they are creating the VERY SITUATION that is going to make the blood pressure go even higher. No one sees irony while it is happening.

Don’t worry, everyone… as soon as I am completely healthy again, I am going to go to the doctor to get this whole thing straightened out. I don’t want to back there while I am sick. It is a recipe for fucking disaster.

How to Survive Team Building Workshops

It’s that time of year again… time for semi-annual office TEAM BUILDING.

@pictou suggested I fake a seizure to get out of the team building, but that is how I got out of the last one and they aren’t going to go for it every time. I’m going to have to start spacing these things out.

This year, team building was hosted by a guy in an orange jumpsuit which solicited several reactions from Twitter. @jbrown3079 asked if I was working in an oil change place, while @Aerten thought he looked like a convicted felon. @debihen confirmed that where she lives, the orange jumpsuit is standard prison wear.

Sorry this picture is blurry. I had to take it fast so the guy wouldn’t see me. I have no idea what crimes this person has committed so it is not a good idea to get on his bad side.

Later, the orange jumpsuit guy started up a bizarre conversation with me about how far a molecule has to travel to get from the center to the surface of the sun. That is how felons talk, I guess.

Each team gets assigned a cell phone. We also had a camera, which I couldn’t figure out how to operate properly because I always take pictures with my cell phone. I don’t know why they couldn’t let us take pictures with the phone. What is the point of technology if you end up carrying around a camera?

The first stop on our long team building journey is to talk to a guy with a briefcase. He had all of these strange patterns displayed out on this table in the middle of Panera Bread. At first, I thought he was going to tell me my fortune. He ended up making us play Boggle.

According to @jbrown3079, I was lucky this guy didn’t sell me a gym membership. @DragonTC seemed concerned I was going to somehow end up handcuffed to the briefcase.

Next, we had to go into Starbucks. Normally, I rather enjoy going into Starbucks. However, on this specific Starbucks occasion, our team was supposed to hold hands in a circle and hum until the person assigned to this bizarre game appeared to give us a clue.

I looked longingly at the people with their coffee typing at their laptops. However, having a nice cup of coffee and wireless access was not in the cards for me. We stood outside humming, as if we couldn’t decide between starting cult or a séance, until this person finally approached us. She then told us a story about a fish.

This woman probably thought our humming was terrible, because it seemed to take her forever to get out there. Maybe she was enjoying her coffee.

I can’t tell you how the story of the fish was relevant to our team building because I was busy taking pictures for Twitter.

This is a picture of hummus. There was beet hummus, and carrot hummus, and also the kind with the chickpeas. I didn’t get to try any of the hummus; however, because we were only in this place to look at the pictures on the walls. Honestly, I don’t know how we didn’t get thrown out. No one wants you in a place where you are looking at the walls and taking pictures of hummus and not even buying anything.


This is the place where @DragonTC said she would meet me with one of those tiny umbrellas that you put in drinks. I don’t know what they cook up in a cocktail kitchen, but I never did find out because this was not one of the places we had to go into to hum or talk to people with briefcases.

At one point in all of this, another team approaches us. Some of the members on this team are VERY enthusiastic about doing an “Inter-Team Challenge” because it would provide the optimum number of points.

Apparently, we would all need to participate in something called a “Dance-Off.” My only response to all this was that I don’t give a damn how many points are on the line, I am NOT doing a dance off. Luckily, our phone wouldn’t let us participate because we were right in the middle of the fish-lady task. However, all of this got me thinking the type of person I should be, or maybe could be, in contrast to the type of person I actually am.

My current attitude towards team building

My current attitude towards team building

Is there something wrong with me because I don’t care how many points our team will get if we participate in a Dance-Off? If I change the way I look at the world around me, would I be happier?

My potential attitude towards team building

My potential attitude towards team building

Maybe instead of taking random pictures of places I would rather be, I could actually participate in the task at hand. I could enjoy the moment. I could bask in the humorous camaraderie of looking ridiculous outside a Starbucks. Can you change who you are by changing the way you look at things? That is exact moment when…… I saw they were handing out DRINK TICKETS.


Oh, wait…. drink tickets!!!

This is me living happily ever after with my glass of wine.

Once you have a large glass of wine, you no longer have to worry about being an entirely different person for the sake of team building. You can pretty much just relax and drink your wine.

Okay, so forget all that other stuff from before about looking at the world in a different perspective. The moral of this story is that if you are ever stuck in a team building, or end up in prison, you can depend on your Twitter friends to help you out.

@debihen will visit you in the big house to check up on your prison tats.

@DragonTC will send you cigarettes to use as currency and a cake that may or may not have a file in it.

@recordpaul will be of no use whatsoever. He will only ask, “Why are you in jail?” Sometimes, you don’t know WHY you are in jail, Paul. You just end up there. The least you can do is quit asking questions and send me cigarettes and some designs for my prison tats.

@edrafalko will point out how many ‘i’s are in random words like ‘wine’ and ‘antisocial.’ This makes a lot more sense within the context that I am not going to provide.

@jbrown3079 will wisely suggest that a vodka bar would be a more practical way of getting people to participate in any type of dance demonstration.

Most importantly of all, remember this: No matter who you are, or what people in real life may put you through, in the words of @DragonTC, “You are (twitter) loved.”

How to stalk Indiana Jones in the parking lot and miserably fail

There is a jeep that parks outside my work with four-wheel drive and knobby tires. I always imagined Indiana Jones driving that jeep with wearing a leather hat and hanging his whip out an open window (and by that, I mean an ACTUAL whip. Get your pants back on Ding Dong Joe).

Today, I saw the jeep pull into a parking space. The man exiting the jeep looked, disappointingly, nothing like Indiana Jones. He wasn’t rugged, with tan skin weathered from the sun and wind. He was thin and pale. He had glasses and a suit. He had no leather hat. He looked, in fact, like he had never been outdoors a day in his life. I walked into the building reflecting on how disillusioned I was with the driver of this jeep.

Then… I started wondering if people are disappointed with me arriving in my Honda Civic. Who drives a Honda Civic, anyway? Maybe they are expecting a polite Asian man, and here I come out of the car all sarcastic and glaring. I feel like my car is a good fit for me though. I’m a terrible driver because I am essentially bad at aiming at things. This car is small enough to limit the damage of my carelessness and bad aim. Every time I miss something by inches, I am grateful not to be driving some mammoth SUV.

Then… I started thinking about those bumper stickers people put on their cars about their other car being something else. Wait, let me see if I can find an example.

This seems close enough.

Then… I started thinking about how you could apply this to t-shirts. This is what I came up with…

Get it? Because, you are trying to impress people, but really you make them think that you only have two shirts. HILARIOUS… right?

Fine. Give me a break. It’s Monday.

Oh… what? It’s Friday? Damn.