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Public Speaking Pointers

January 28, 2009 Leave a comment

As someone who speaks every day (sometimes even to other people!), I consider myself an expert on the subject of public speaking.  There are those of you who are easily frightened at the thought of speaking publicly, but I (as always) have solutions for you, the timid orator!  Far be it from me to let you suffer in vain!  With only a few pointers from me, you will become more confident, less nervous, and more attractive to the opposite sex.  That’s a guarantee!  (Not a guarantee.)

Here’s everything you need to blow your audience out of their shoes, socks, underthings, and possibly into the next county:

Practice in Front of a Mirror–Before you give that all-important presentation to the board, your manager, the President of the United States, or a potential future father-in-law (“Sir, I would like to ask for your daughter’s hand in marriage.  Of course I have the ring, and no, she’s not pregnant”), you must practice your speech to yourself in front of a mirror.  With text in hand, I order you to stand awkwardly in your bedroom and recite your information to yourself.  Honestly, I’ve never tried this myself.  Apparently, as the legend goes, if you practice in front of a mirror by yourself, the Speech Fairy comes in the night and plants magic speech beans in your inner ear canal (possibly through ear candle, which is the best way to put anything dangerously close to your brain), which springs up, blooms, and allows you to speak confidently in front of a crowd (with no mirror).

Dress For Success–When speaking in front of a large audience, say, a Public Speaking class in college, you should always exude an aire of confidence by the way you dress.  The rule of thumb is: dress a step above the occasion.  For instance, if you are speaking to a group of construction workers, a nice pair of slacks and a polo will serve you well.  If you are speaking before Congress, a tuxedo with tails and cummerbund is fitting.  If you are speaking to the typical audience of a Metallica concert, I’m not even sure you have to wear a shirt.  (Yes, I know I just offended every “rocker” by calling a “show” a “concert”.)  Finally, if you are giving an address to the president of your company, remember to wear clean, pressed suit pants and a “I ♥ My Boss” t-shirt.  Looks like someone’s getting a bonus!

Never say, “Um”–By saying “um”, you can literally kill your speech, drag it down a gravel road, and set it on fire.  Literally.  Do you know anyone who sounds intelligent saying “um”?  Would you feel good going into anesthesia hearing your heart surgeon say, “We’re going to, um. . . pry this guy’s, um. . . chest open and locate the, um  . . . what’s that called . . . blockage . . . and, um . . . fix it, um . . . without killing him . . .”?  See how ugly that looks when converted to text from Judaism?  When you say “um”, you are giving the audience a hint that you are:

–Nervous

–Unprepared

–Stupid

–Not Qualified to Perform Open-Heart Surgery

Imagine the Audience in Their Underwear–This technique is only for those who have mastered the previous steps.  Because of the exponentially increasing obesity rates, imagining your ever-ballooning audience in their undergarments can trigger an uncontrollable laughing fit.  Or, if you are creative enough to see the hairs coming out of your boss’s navel, a crying fit (thumb sucking included).  Use at your own risk.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.  Because I did.  Just now.  Like, um, 4 sentences ago.  See how silly I sounded?  Don’t say “um”.  Just a reminder.

Watch Your Gestures–You want people to pay attention to what you’re saying, not the flailing and quite possibly offensive motions you’re making with your appendages.  Did you know that everyday gestures we make are considered greatly offensive in foreign cultures?  For instance:

–Giving the “peace sign” is considered rude is Japan

–Biting your thumb and pulling it quickly from between your teeth is offensive in Italy

–Putting your hand out, making eye contact with your boss, extending only your middle finger, and yelling, “Moron!” will get you fired from your job in the United States

–Spinning in a circle and throwing creamed corn up in the air while speaking in Pig Latin is considered the highest offense to Regis Philbin

Eye Contact–One expert (namely, I asked my wife what she learned in speech class) informed me that eye contact is vital to connecting with your audience.  She warned me, however, that you are not to always stare directly into the eyes of your victims (audience), but you are to talk approximately 1 foot above their heads, and make eye contact occasionally.  That seems to make sense.  I know I sure hate it when I get pulled into a staring contest by some orator.  Especially that guy who gave his speech while looking back at me from the other side of the mirror.

Know Your Audience–Keep the creamed corn at home if you know you’re going to be on “Live with Regis and Kelly”.  That’s just one example of Knowing Your Audience.  For instance, if you are giving a presentation to professional clowns, it is very rude to show up without oversized shoes on.  Likewise, if you are campaigning to be President of the United States and speaking in front of Union workers, you’d darn well better be wearing a tacky shirt and have those sleeves rolled up (even though those guys know you’ve never worked an honest day in your life), or else the I.E.W. 405 will string you from the rafters with 8-gauge wire.

I hope this helps!  If your next speech isn’t the best you’ve ever given, I will personally refund you the purchase price of reading this post.

By the way, this is my 25th post here on the Kyle Baxter Project.  I hope you’ve enjoyed this as much as I have.  If you haven’t yet, go back to my very first post (in October 2008), and start from the humble beginnings.  Thanks for your time and continued loyalty!

The Environment (And Other Get-Rich-Quick Schemes)

January 26, 2009 2 comments

Helping the environment (or “going green”) has recently become a very cool thing to do, like pregnancy and swing dancing.  Swing dancing is back in, right?  Anyway, I’m here to debunk all the myths about all the ways we are now “helping” the environment, and who is making money off of your well-intentioned self.

Disclaimer: I am no way taking any position concerning the environment.  I am all for recycling, wasting less, and not burning styrofoam plates for fun, like I did when I was a kid.  I am not arguing one way or the other whether global warming is man-made, or if there is global warming at all.  Please leave your political beliefs at the door, take a number from the attendant, and you can pick them up when you leave.  Thank you.

If you are health- or environment-conscious, you will be assailed by countless “green” advertisements on TV and in grocery stores.  They tell you, “Eat organic raisins, or watch your liver shrivel into a lump of haggis!” or, “Buy organic, unbleached paper towels, or your septic tank will explode!”  Don’t fall for it when they say, “Drink only milk without hormones, or large men with brass knuckles will break into the nursing home and severely bruise your grandmother!” or, “Use glass cleaner made with vinegar, or your children will join a rowdy street performance troupe.  Do you really want your children to be mimes?”

I will break this down in bullet points, so we can move quickly.  I will point out the fatal flaws in each of these “organic”, “recycled”, or otherwise inferior products:

Organic Fruit–The only difference between regular fruit and organic fruit is that the organic fruit is bruised beyond recognition.  (The price is also much higher.)  Basically, whenever a crate of bananas falls off a truck in Guatemala, the guy driving the truck says, “That’s organic now.  Throw it in the pile.”  The only good thing about organic fruit is that it’s already in smoothie form, so it’s great for bananas or strawberries.  Because there have been no pesticides used in the growing of the organic fruit, obvious “bug marks” are now visible to the naked eye.  That’s better for you?  I’m steering clear of the organic pears, just in case one might have an egg sac in it.  One minute you’re thinking, “I’ve got some wicked indigestion”, and the next, you have approximately 1,000,000,000,000,000 baby fruit flies coming out of every orifice.  No, thank you.

Waste-reducing Packaging–Every kind of company is jumping on the bandwagon.  I’ve seen bags (yes, bags) of hand soap refills touting, “77% less plastic used in this container!” because it’s not in a bottle.  After doing some shrewd price comparison, I realized they want to charge you a dollar more, even though it costs them less to make it.  They (those companies) believe you are stupid, and are trying to gain ridiculous amounts of money off of your kind gestures toward the environment.

Recycled cardboard–In every box of Cheerios, there is some amount of recycled cardboard.  “It looks just the same as it did before; how can I know?”, you’re asking me.  There is one sure-fire way to tell if the cardboard you are using is recycled or not.  Recycled cardboard:

–Falls apart easily when slightly damp
–Falls apart when touched by an infant
–Falls apart when it faces a stiff breeze
–Smells really funny, like musty old Cheerios

Recycled paper plates–I was shocked and appalled when I found out paper plates were being recycled (and that they actually cost more that plates made from saplings in the Amazon).  I don’t want to be eating a hamburger or plate of fresh organic strawberries, look down at my plate, and say, “Is that barbecue sauce?”  I only want to see what I’m eating now, not the last person’s meal.  I lean in to smell my delicious chili dog, and all I get a whiff of is old Cheerios?  This has gone too far!

The logical question is: What’s next?  Well, Mr. Smart Guy, I don’t know what’s next.  If I knew that, I would have marketed it already and made my millions off of well-meaning people like you who just want to do your part to help the world.  I am soon expecting that organic toilet paper will be obsolete.  Perhaps in the near future, we will see a surge in the market for recycled toilet paper!  I’m just thinking inside the box here, and taking what we already have a step further.  When you see it on the market, you can call those companies and tell them to send me briefcases full of U.S. currency, no bills larger than 20s, because I thought of it first.

Spring-source bottled water is all the rage right now (because spending $4 a bottle for overseas tap water is “the rage”).  People will not drink water unless some Bolivian boy has held the plastic bottle in a spring-fed waterfall for that “from the source” flavor (which, coincidentally, is dirt and tadpoles).  One thing is for sure; I’ll know we’ve gone too far when we get to recycling water.  That’s right, folks.  Bottled urine.  I can imagine the advertisements will read something like, “Straight from the source!”, or “Fresh from Hot Springs, Arkansas” (no pun intended).  I’m certain the focus groups for this product would not fare well.  I’m sure someone would quit caring about the planet and complain, “That tastes horrible!  Is that barbecue sauce?”

I (for one) am sick of it!  From this day forward, it will be my personal quest to design, market, and sell a line of products that is horrible for the environment and the consumer, just to teach all of you a lesson.  I’m going to bounce a few ideas off of you here:

–Every kind of cereal (Ozone-Os and Inorganic Flakes) packaged in fresh cardboard made entirely of non-renewable petrified wood

–A therapeutic line of pillows stuffed with the softest of California condor feathers

–A brand of potato chips (fried in trans fats) bagged exclusively with baby seal skins

–Cows so shot full of antibiotics and hormones that your voice will drop and octave.  Guaranteed!

–Fruit sprayed with so much pesticide that you can carry an apple with you into the deep woods with no fear of bodily harm from mosquitoes or Bigfoot

I’m burned out from this rant.  If you need me, I’ll be on a mountain burning styrofoam plates and hairspray.  I won’t let some pushy ozone layer tell me what to do.

Weight Loss Challenge and Popular TV

January 21, 2009 6 comments

Starting this last week, I joined a weight-loss group with some co-workers.  I’m sure you’re all thinking, “But Paul, you’re so much better-looking than 99.99999% of the population could ever hope to be!  Why are YOU in a weight-loss group?”  Well, thank you for the compliment, but since getting married, I have put on about 20 pounds.  I am by no means very big, but as I get curvier and more voluptuous, I miss the days when I could fit into my “skinny pants” (is it just me, or do I sound like a woman who’s trying to fit back into pre-baby clothes?).  I only hope to get down to my original weight: 8 lb. 6 oz.

I did take precautions before getting married, though.  I made sure to ask my fiance (now my wife), “Would you still love me if I weighed 400 pounds?”  She paused for a moment, and said, “Of course.  I’ll love you no matter what.”  As soon as I heard it, I knew I could get as fat as I want.  That’s like a free pass to the Golden Corral!  (Where the motto is: “Rustle up some heart disease!”)  The coin has two sides, though.  Women also want to feel secure in knowing that we men, as husbands, will love them no matter their appearance.  It is our job to reassure our wives whenever we can.  If your wife says, “Would you still love me if I weighed 400 pounds?”, look intently into her eyes, smile, and softly say, “No way.”  I’m looking out for her.  It’s worth hurting her feelings to make sure she’s thinking healthy.  HA!

The single greatest barrier to weight loss in this country is these 9 simple words: “Would you like to buy some Girl Scout Cookies?”  Of course, the only answer to that question is, “Yes, yes, oh dear God, YES!” followed closely behind by, “Do you have any Thin Mints?”  Don’t pre-pay for Girl Scout Cookies.  Don’t put your name on any list for later delivery.  OF COURSE the little girl knocking at your door has cookies readily available.  Her mother is waiting at home with a stockpile of cookies.  Thousands of dollars worth of them.  Demand the cookies now.

Back to my weight loss story.  Really, the only reason I’m trying to drop a few pounds is to test my own metabolism.  I’m a young man still, and as such, I still have great metabolism.  Since I started eating healthier ten days ago, I have lost about 7 pounds.  I know it must make my co-workers sick who have trouble getting rid of that middle age weight.  That’s probably another reason why I’m dropping the weight.  It’s my vengeful side.

Now let’s talk about highly-addictive television.  Some of the highest-rated shows on TV are Fox’s 24, CBS’s whole CSI lineup, and Fox’s House.  As a concerned member of the public, I will now dissect these shows.

24: This show’s plot always contains 3 elements:

–A device

–A conspiracy

–Plot twists

There’s actually about 4 minutes of real, actual dialogue between random shouts from Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer: “Tell me where the device is!” (Or, to a lesser extent, “Where’s the device?!”) “What device?” you may ask.  It doesn’t matter.  There’s always a device.  Could be a nuclear device, biological device, or a Richard Simmons device (most diabolical of all).  There has to be, otherwise the show would come to a grinding halt as we would watch Jack do mundane things, such as brush his teeth, eat at McDonald’s, and 8 action-packed episodes of Jack sleeping.

In 24, conspiracies are popular.  “Oh, the president is in danger!  Who can we trust?  Oh no, there’s a conspiracy!  We can’t trust anyone except Jack Bauer!  Not even the President!  Save us, oh benevolent Jack Bauer!”  All this conspiracy stuff and “the bad guys have an inside man at CTU/Pentagon/FBI/Wal-Mart/CIA/White House/Google” gets really repetitive.  It’s still entertaining, I’ll give you that.

Plot twists are key to 24‘s ill-gotten success.  “Can we trust this guy?  He has a criminal background!  He tried to kill the President!  He’s a good guy!  Wait, he’s a bad guy!  No, he was just a double agent!  No, a triple agent!  Watch out, Jack!  Quadruple agent!  He just wanted the other bad guys to THINK he was a triple agent!”  All I’m saying is if you put two seasons of 24 on two TVs side by side, I can’t tell the difference.

I can’t believe that there are so many blogs and message boards devoted to this show, trying to predict what will happen.  I’ll tell you what’s going to happen right here!  (And you can quote me):  Many of the people you thought were good guys are actually bad guys!  Then, in the last 5 episodes, they will turn back to being good guys because they were quintuple agents all along!  Lastly, they will find out where the device is, because Jack’s incessant line of questioning will finally break the bad guys’ spirits.  The day will be saved.

CSI: The plot is simple.  A murder has taken place at some residence, business, sporting event, hotel, or government building.  The whole CSI crew will spend 45 minutes accusing the wrong person of the murder.  However, that person does know something about the murder.  He or she will point the CSI people in the right direction, and they will find out the murderer is the person you would have least expected (like the fiancé, best friend, business partner, parent, etc.).  It’s as gripping as an episode of Scooby-Doo.  Or as Velma might say, “The ghost haunting the amusement park is actually the amusement park owner in a clever disguise!”  I’m just waiting for the murderer in CSI to say to Grissom, “I’d have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn’t for you meddling CSI agents!”

House: I’ve watched a total of 3 episodes of this show, and I feel like I’ve watched every episode.  I’ll break every episode down very simply:

–Someone is struck with a mysterious illness

–No one knows what is wrong

–The doctors think they have it figured out, but what they do to help is only making it worse

–They finally ask the pompous Dr. House to help

–House makes a diagnosis, which is only partially right, and the patient gets even worse

–House amends his diagnosis, and through some unorthodox methods, saves the patient’s life

–The End

You see, the writers of this show want to keep the shows formulaic, because if they had actual stories, people would become frustrated at the complexity.  They want their shows to be predictable.  It makes you feel smarter, and more likely to come back next episode.  These shows are dumbed down just enough to make the average American “head of household” feel like a real genius when he or she figures out two episodes in advance that Jack is going to find the device and save the world.

I would love feedback on this.  Tell me if I’m wrong, but especially tell me if I’m right about these shows.  I’d love some honest comments from fans of those shows.

Ear Candling

January 16, 2009 3 comments

Have you heard of ear candles?  No, it’s not a candle made of ears!  (I researched it.)  It is a piece of cloth dipped in paraffin or beeswax that is inserted into the ear and burned at the other end to remove earwax buildup from the user’s ear.  Most times, a paper plate has a hole cut in it, and the candle inserted into it so that wax from the candle has no chance of getting in your hair.  For your enjoyment and education, here is an instructional video on YouTube on how to use ear candles.  As the young girl in the video said, the ear candle creates a vacuum that draws earwax out of the ear and deposits it inside the candle’s base.  My first question is: Why would anyone want to do this?  There seem to be plenty of other options besides lighting wax on fire and sticking it directly above your cochlea.

My second question is: How does this not burn your eardrum into an unrecognizable little lump of charcoal?  I realize, of course, that the young lady in the video with her head on a pillow on top of her kitchen counter explains this, but I am not yet fully persuaded.  My mother told me early on in life not to trust anyone who sleeps on the kitchen counter.  Or anyone who burns candles in their ears, for that matter.  She was very specific.  Also included in the list are insurance salesmen, people who sleep on kitchen counters, people who burn candles in their ears, Geraldo Rivera, Greeks bearing gifts, and all of the ’88 Chicago Bears.  I’m just saying it might burn you.

My third question: Who discovered this medicinal technique?  This is actually a rhetorical question.  Most ear candle manufacturers say it was a process invented by the Native Americans, Hopi specifically.  I don’t believe that flimsy story for one second!  It’s an obviously bogus claim.  A much more rational and thoughtful explanation as to why people would even try to put burning candles inside their ears involves:

–College students

–Assorted bottles of adult beverages

–A $20 bet

My fourth and final question: Is it possible to make a candle entirely of ears?  Look, I’m not saying they even have to be human ears.  That would be an obvious front-runner, but I’m not married to the idea or anything.  I should probably just drop the whole thing.

I actually have in my possession a locally-made ear candle (wax and cloth kind).  It seems to be of high quality, not that I’m any real collector of candles, ear or otherwise.  It doesn’t say ANYTHING about what you’re supposed to “do” with it.  Is ear candling such a wide-spread phenomenon that it needs no introduction?  False!  Ear candling is relatively unknown, probably dangerous, and looks really funny to do.  The owner of said local company probably is just trying to avoid any lawsuits that WILL arise if and WHEN you burn yourself all the way to your Eustachian Tubes (it connects your inner ear and nasal cavity, I promise).  I can just see him at his court hearing:

Judge: Sir, your “ear candles” have caused severe hearing loss in this young man.

Candle Man: Your Honor, I never had any idea that anyone would get the idea to stick a candle into their ear!  Why, it’s preposterous!  Nowhere on the package for my product does it say you should light it on fire and actually stick it in your ear!

Judge: Young man, is this true?

Plantiff: *sobbing*  He’s right . . . it’s all true.  His candle never said I should put it in my ear . . . it was my idea.  You see, a bunch of the guys and I were at the frat house enjoying some spirits when Calvin says to me, “I’ll bet you 20 bucks you won’t stick a lit candle in your ear.”  So I said, “You’re on!”  That’s how it happened, honest.  I’m sorry, Mr. Candle Man.

Judge: Case dismissed!

So, in order to have that defense, the owner has purposely omitted any directions and simply stamped: “For Entertainment Only”.  WHAT?!?!  What the heck does that mean?  How entertaining can it get?  Will some mild-mannered suburban family choose to do that over watching American Idol?  The candle maker seems to think so!

Father: Honey!  Kids!  Turn off that infernal TV and get in here!  It’s family game night!  Grab your ear candles, paper plates, and pillows!  Let’s see who can accumulate more ear crud inside their candle!  (Family frantically rushes in and gathers around the kitchen counter.)

Son: I’m gonna win!  I haven’t washed my ears in a week!

Daughter: Cheater!  Mom, tell Billy he’s a cheater!

Mom:

Daughter: Mom!

Mom:

Daughter: MOM!!!

Father: Your mother can’t hear you, sweetie.  She’s been a little hard of hearing since the last time we played this game.

Of course, with how dangerous ear candling must be, ear candles are not approved by the FDA.  There’s a huge market in the U.S. for “holistic” medicinal products that are basically placebos for hippies and homeschoolers.  This includes countless herbs, supplements, and teas that are available at your local pharmacy, grocery store, and at any downtown street corner from a guy named Rico.  Just so people who have any education beyond the 2nd grade will know not to use these products ever, there is a disclaimer on the box that says, “This product is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease or disorder”.  Basically, “This product will not work for you or anyone else.  In fact, you’ll be lucky not to go deaf from using this.  Warning: This product contains human ears.”

Public Restroomania

January 14, 2009 Leave a comment

Why does everyone wait until they have explosive diarrhea to use a public restroom?  I’m not just saying this for shock value, I swear.  You must believe me.

Worse yet, why do they wait until I’m using the public restroom to come in and do their unholy business?  It absolutely never fails: I’m there, just hoping for a little quiet time, and in comes some unwashed cretin (well, at least his shoes look to be unwashed; I can’t see any other part of him) comes to my peaceful sanctuary to have his colonic emancipation.

If I have any choice in the matter, I will be choosy about which restroom I use.  For instance, in college, every building had several bathrooms on each floor.  No two bathrooms are created equal.  Men probably grasp this concept better than women.  From how I understand it, women will actually hold conversations between stalls.  This is what some experts call “wrong in every way imaginable”.  It violates every belief I hold dear, as they pertain to bathrooms.

Men are with me on this, though.  Put yourself in my shoes and see if you wouldn’t do the same thing.  These are the 8 facts we know:

1. You are in college.
2. You are in a building on campus.
3. You have to use the restroom in a sit-down kind of way.
4. It is a non-emergency.
5. There are two bathrooms located on the same floor as you.
6. One bathroom is just around the corner, but it is very busy with many people in and out.
7. The other bathroom is about 300 feet away, “off the beaten path”.  It is a tranquil place.
8. The bathrooms are the same size, say 2 urinals and 2 stalls (including 1 handicap stall)

What do you do, guys?  You’d do exactly what I do.  Take the long walk to a serene slice of lavatory paradise.  Like I said, though, the two bathrooms may be identical is size and layout, but they are NOT the same.  Can I please get some feedback on this?  Does anyone else prefer a quiet public bathroom?  Or is it, “Hey, a toilet is a toilet.  I don’t care if there’s fireworks going off while a yak gives birth in the sink.  I’m in, I go, I’m out.”?

I don’t know about you, but I also go into defensive mode as soon as I get into the bathroom.  If it’s just me in there, I go straight for the handicap stall.  You get a coat hook on the back of the door, and the legroom goes on for days.  I would be able to lay down on the floor, outstretched, if it weren’t for all the flesh-eating bacteria and viruses that “never really go away“.  (If you can make it 15 seconds, you’ll recognize it, and you’ll thank me.  It gets old after about 30 seconds, I warn you now.)

Oh yes, the defensive position.  Like I said, in a 2-urinal, 2-stall setup, you want to end up in the handicap stall.  Even if someone does come in to lighten the load, being a man, he will turn around and walk out, because the good stall is taken.  No one wants to get stuck with the skinny stall where their elbows almost touch the divider walls on either side, exposing them to Sharpie graffiti smudging.  You’ll have the whole place to yourself.  Nice and quiet.

Now, your best Sharpie graffiti is in the form of a conversation.  Let me give you a little demonstration.  Again, ladies, I feel like I’m leaving you out here, but guys really know what I’m talking about.

Day 1: Dennis smells like FARTS!!!

Day 2: Ryan
Dennis smells like FARTS!!!

Day 3: Ryan
Dennis smells like FARTS!!! <—U guys r both dum

Day 4: Ryan
Dennis smells like FARTS!!! <—U guys r both dum <–Learn to spell, stoopid!

And so on.  Though there is animosity between these two individuals (namely Ryan and Dennis), a third party has come to resolve the conflict, but not without drawing fire himself.  What relevant social commentary.  Or not.

Don’t worry; I am also still trying to find out exactly what my point is here, too.  I guess I don’t really have an ending.  There is no ending, I suppose, to the cosmic ballet that is life and/or public bathrooms.

Congratulations, you just read over 700 words about public bathrooms.  Your mother would be proud.

Travel Tips for Complete Morons

January 12, 2009 Leave a comment

If you are an idiot, (and I assume you are, because you’re still reading this even after I insulted you) then you could stand to learn from the travel tips this post has to offer!

I know what you’re thinking!  “What can this handsome genius of a blogger teach me about travel?  I have an 8th grade education, and it’s served me well so far!”  If you pay close attention, you may yet learn something valuable about efficient travel.  I’ll even keep it at a 7th grade reading level, just in case.  To save you time, I’ve put the energy into compiling a list of the precise questions you would ask me about travel.

“When is the least expensive time to travel?”–Great question!  Brilliant, in fact.  Obviously, the most expensive times to travel are around holidays and most weekends.  Not to mention, daytime flights usually cost more than “red eye” flights.  So, as a consumer, you must find the exact moment when you are furthest from the weekend or any Judeo-Christian holidays.  Personally, I recommend traveling on Wednesday, June 19th between the hours of 3:00 am and 3:02 am.  It goes without saying that these time estimates are only accurate on the East Coast during a leap year when headed across the International Date Line.  Otherwise, it gets a little complicated.

“Gosh, you’ve made it so simple to understand!  Your wife is a lucky woman!  Oh yes, and what are some great destinations?”–I actually don’t like to travel, or even watch the Travel Channel.  I won’t even watch The Weather Channel, because of all the large, imposing maps everywhere.  They remind me of how big the world is.  It scares me.  However, based on recommendations from globe-hopping colleagues (me throwing darts at a world map), the best travel destinations are (in order of dart throws) definitely the countries of Germany, Russia, Mexico, the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Rand-McNally, France, and the lamp in my office.  You can visit my lamp any time you’d like, but if you really want to get in cheap, come and see me between 3:00 am and 3:02 am on June 19th.  Knock loudly and scream, “I am not a burglar!”

“I will knock loudly.  Will I need to spend literally DOZENS of dollars on bi-lingual dictionaries?”–Absolutely not!  You’d be (as the title suggests) a complete moron (more so) to purchase any dictionaries at all.  In any country, regardless of the native language, a savvy traveler can function perfectly well with only a handful of phrases.

“You are so much smarter than me.  Can you please demonstrate your superior intellect through examples of foreign language phrases?”–I’d be more than happy to oblige!  Remember: if you were to go to a foreign country armed only with the phrases I am about to provide, you would be able to enjoy a long, trouble-free vacation.  Feel free to print this out and take it on your next trip.  I’m offering it at no charge.  I’ll go ahead and give you all the phrases you’ll ever need for a few of the aforementioned “best destinations”.

Germany–Official Language: German

German: Wo ist das Badezimmer?
English: Where is the bathroom?

German: Können Sie mich auf die nächste Gaststätte zeigen?
English: Can you point me to the nearest restaurant?

German: Kellner, gibt es einen Schnurrbart in meiner Bratwurst.
English: Waiter, there is a mustache in my bratwurst.

German: Dieser Schnurrbart ist noch in der Mitte rosafarben.  Senden Sie es bitte zurück zu der Küche.
English: This mustache is still pink in the middle.  Please send it back to the kitchen.

German: So sind Sie übel der Kerle noch?
English: So, are you guys still evil?

German: Ihre Sprache ist schön.
English: Your language is beautiful.

German: Ihre Landgeruche intensiv des Kohls.
English: Your country smells intensely of cabbage.

Russia–Official Language: Russian

Russian: Где туалет?
English: Where is the toilet?

Russian: Этим отверстием в поле БУДЕТ туалет??
English: This hole in the floor IS the toilet?

Russian: Вы должны ягниться!
English: You must be kidding!

Russia: Как та вся вещь «коммунизма» разработала для вас?
English: How did that whole “communism” thing work out for you?

Russian: Т смотрит как мертвое тело.
English: That looks to be a dead body.

Russian: Ваши женщины смешоно большие.  Медведи подобия.
English: Your women are ridiculously large.  Like bears.

Russian: Ваши запахи водочки любят формальдегид.
English: Your vodka smells like formaldehyde.

Russian: Что ванта все еще не двигает.  Он реально мертв, не он?
English: That guy still isn’t moving.  He really is dead, isn’t he?

Mexico–Official Language: Spanish

Spanish: ¿Dónde está el cuarto de baño?
English: Where is the bathroom?

Spanish: Quisiera algo de su alimento mexicano auténtico, por favor.
English: I would like some of your authentic Mexican food, please.

Spanish: ¿En el segundo pensamiento, dónde es el taco más cercano campana?
English: On second thought, where is the nearest Taco Bell?

Spanish: ¡Venido rápidamente!  ¡He visto la cara de la Virgen bendecida aparecer en una viruta de la tortilla!
English: Come quickly!  I have seen the Blessed Virgin’s face appear on a tortilla chip!

Spanish: ¡Ha ha!  ¡Usted no puede trampearme en comer el llantén!
English: Ha ha!  You cannot trick me into eating plantain!

Spanish: Este cristal de agua está marrón y nublado.
English: This glass of water is brown and cloudy.

Spanish: ¿Usted tiene caramelo que no pruebe como las anchoas?
English: Do you have any candy that DOESN’T taste like anchovies?

France–Official Language: Rudeness

French: Que l’estacade à claire-voie est-elle un bidet ?
English: What the heck is a bidet?

French: Je jure qu’il a ressemblé à un urinoir.  Je fais des excuses.
English: I swear it looked like a urinal.  I apologize.

French: Veuillez me remettre le jet désinfectant et quelques serviettes de papier, et nous oublierons que ceci s’est jamais produite.
English: Please hand me the disinfectant spray and some paper towels, and we’ll forget this ever happened.

French: Votre Tour d’Eiffel me rappelle quelque chose que j’ai faite en tant qu’enfant avec K’Nex.
English: Your Eiffel Tower reminds me of something I made as a kid with K’Nex.

France: Ceci semble délicieux !  Attente.  Sont-ils ces escargots ?
English: This looks delicious!  Wait.  Are these snails?

French: Combien de temps est-ce que c’ont été morts ?
English: How long have these been dead?

French: Ma nourriture rampe outre de mon plat et fait un tiret fou pour la liberté douce.
English: My food is crawling off my plate and is making a mad dash for sweet freedom.

French: chèque, svp.
English: Check, please.

French: Si je te donne un rasoir, raseriez-vous svp vos cheveux d’aisselle, Madame ?
English: If I donated a razor to you, would you please shave your armpit hair, ma’am?

Go and travel with the peace of mind that comes with being fully prepared for any situation!  No need to thank me, but if you must, make all checks payable to “Kyle Baxter Relief Fund”.  Bring it by on June 19th.

The Voodoo That You Do

January 11, 2009 Leave a comment

As a part of my employment, I receive many fringe benefits, like insurance, vacation, and a salary.  The best kind of insurance I receive is “long-term disability”.  For instance, if I am walking down the street, and a hobo accidentally stabs me 6 times in the back, and I survive (but am not able to work for a long while), I will receive 80% of my salary for the foreseeable future.  I’m in the middle of re-writing my monthly budget right now so I can survive on 80% of my income.  Then, I plan on accidentally throwing a hammer up in the air and letting it fall on my face.

Actually, now that I see the words on the screen, it doesn’t sound like such a good idea.  Better yet, I’ll just get morbidly obese until I can’t work any more, and simply sit at home, sipping iced tea, letting the checks roll in.  I just have to remember to budget in paying a neighbor child to get the mail for me while I lay on my couch and sweat.  While the checks just roll in.  Assuming, of course, that the neighbor child isn’t on vacation.  Otherwise, no one will be able to get the checks for me out of the mailbox.  (Disclaimer: I am not really going to commit insurance fraud.)

Speaking of morbid obesity, if I ever decided to take up voodoo, I’d only use my voodoo for good.  For instance, instead of using my voodoo needles to give you shoulder pain or hemorrhoids, I would give you acupuncture.  If you were really nice to me, I might even give your doll a nice bubble bath or back rub.  The only people whose dolls I would put in my toaster are those who would make fun of me for having a doll collection.  Maybe that’s why all those shamans are always mean to people.  They just wanted to collect Barbies like everyone else, but some jackanapes had to go and call them “sissies“.  (Disclaimer: I am not really going to take up voodoo.)

Okay, so the $64,000 question for today is: If you could have one, and only one, super power, what would it be?

DO NOT SAY FLYING.  Wrong answer.  Take it back.  Start over.  I’ll pretend I was looking the other way when you said that.  Flying is worthless without invincibility.  You only get one power, remember?  What happens if you’re flying in too fast, come in for a landing, and break both of your legs?  Or what if you’re just flying along, minding your own business …WHOOSH!… sucked into a jet engine.  Game over.

I have several individual powers picked out, thank you for asking.  They are, in a particular order:

1. Be able to switch other people’s genders at my bidding.  I know it would get old, but how much fun would that be the first week?  “Happy birthday, Mom!  I mean, Dad.  Oops, Mom again.  Oh sorry, Dad!  Mom.”  Hilarious.

2. I ask only for the authority to decide who may or may not have children.  Don’t think you can get away with careless procreation forever.

3. A little control of the weather would be nice.  Not all of the weather, mind you.  I wouldn’t want to be responsible for creating a drought or an El Niño.  Maybe just lightning.  I could get away with a whole lot if I had lightning.  According to my insurance policy, lightning is considered an “Act of God”.  No one’s going to question an Act of God.

4. Most of all, I would want to get one “do over” in any situation.  I’d get one more chance to do something if I didn’t like the way it went the first time.  I’d be a superhero for sure!  I’d call myself “Mulligan”.  I’d wear a kilt, carry golf clubs, and speak with a thick Scottish brogue.  (Disclaimer: I am not really going to get my choice of super power.)

Wouldn’t it be an awful superpower to be able to grow really obese at will?  When would that come in handy?  I guess if a dam breaks, they could airlift you in, drop you into the crack, and you would be able to seal it until the proper resources could be utilized.  Actually, if I had the power to be really obese, I’d probably just use it to get 80% of my salary.