Monthly Archives: January 2009

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B.F.O. ThermostatWhen I was in 10th grade, taking geometry, our teacher took a leave of absence to have hair plugs installed or something.

I’m not kidding.

He left on a Friday with some whispy stuff on top and returned a month later with a scabby, yet fuzzy, scalp. By grade 11, though he wasn’t my teacher anymore, he had a full head of hair.

So, apparently, those Hair Club for Men commercials of the early 1990’s were legit…

Anyway, while our regular teacher was out, the substitute was a fellow that none of us has ever seen before, you know, not one of the usual substitutes that we’d grown used to over the years.

He was young, had a big moustache, he wore a shirt and tie every day, and he had a full head of hair. He even carried a briefcase. Basically, he was a lot different than our regular teacher.

Catherine Zeta-JonesUnder the impression that we’d be doing, well, nothing for an entire month in his class simply because he was a substitute, we didn’t give him a lot of respect.

I know I spent most of my time in that class daydreaming about every girl in our school that even slightly resembled Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Anyway, even through my steamy fog, it wasn’t long before it was blatantly apparent that he had NEVER taught in a classroom before. You could tell he was nervous and the troublemakers in the room were taking full advantage.

This lasted for nearly a week — and then he flipped out.

Gene Wilder as Willy WonkaHe turned into Tom Green. This, of course, was before Tom Green became famous.

He had a little bit of a Willy Wonka vibe too… The Gene Wilder version, NOT the androgynous Johnny Depp version.

John RamboOut of no where, when it was actually quiet in the room and without any provocation, he started doing that “bzzzzzzzz” noise (you know, the thing that happened in every high school classroom whenever there was a substitute teacher) as he loosened his tie and put it around his forehead like Rambo.

A few of the girls started giggling wondering what on earth he was doing.

The troublemakers were annoyed that he was stealing their “bzzzzzzz” joke.

I was confused.

Then he stood on the teachers desk and shouted, “Who wants to learn some geometry!“.

Um, okay? We were less than enthusiastic.

He then jumped off the desk, doing an aerial ski move, I think it’s called a backscratcher, before doing a somersault after the landing.

I remember thinking, “Wow, this dude is crazy… but that was awesome!”

From that moment on, he had our attention, no doubt about it, and he had our attention for the rest of his time subbing for our un-balding teacher.

Anyway, as he plowed through the curriculum, obviously refreshing his geometry memory along the way, he taught us something that I have never forgotten.

Without boring you to death or bringing back long forgotten math nightmares, high school geometry was the class where you had to do proofs.

You know, prove these two triangles are congruent using a side-angle-side argument or whatever.

I don’t remember exactly how it went down, but I do remember it being relatively simple but annoying at the same time.

This teacher, towards the end of his run, drew two triangles at the same time on the chalk board, one with his right hand and one with his left. Comedy in and of itself.

He then dramatically spun around pirouette-style asking if the two triangles were congruent.

(Yes, he was still wearing his tie around his forehead — but only during class. The guy was a nut, I’m telling you…)

The nerds, often so smart that they were stupid, were all busting out their protractors to get started, but he stopped them in their tracks — “No! This is a one line proof.”

Confused, we all wondered if he was serious.

The two triangles up on the board looked more like ovals than anything else, but they also looked pretty darn similar. Maybe he was ambidextrous?

Then, underneath the two tri-ovals, he wrote in big letters, breaking chalk along the way while calling out each letter as he wrote it, “B.F.O.”


Blinding Flash of the Obvious,” he explained.

I never forgot that.

When our real teacher returned, it was like a big inside joke that he wasn’t in on. As if his new scabby scalp wasn’t already enough for us to laugh about?

Anytime you couldn’t figure out how to correctly do a proof on a test, you’d write “B.F.O.” in big letters. It never worked, for obvious reasons, but everyone in the class resorted to it at least once…

Years later, in university, on a chemistry lab that went dismally wrong, I told my lab partner, Derek, about “B.F.O.” and we decided that in our final conclusion on the report, we’d refer to a “BFO” as our reasoning for coming to the conclusion we came to.

Seriously, it was like a 40-page lab report with calculations, diagrams, and things all over the place. The last page, for our conclusion, contained 3 letters.


The professor’s (or TA’s — we all know the prof’s never actually looked at our lab work) remarks still give us a chuckle to this day — next to our conclusion, they drew a big question mark, then gave us a “B”. Ha!

So, after all of this build-up, how does any of this relate to your heating bill?

Well, I’ll tell you…

Ten Cent DimeYou can read all you want about putting plastic up on your windows, installing draft guards on your exteriors doors, blocking off seldom used rooms in your home, or adding a humidifier, but there’s only one surefire way to lower your heating bill without spending a dime.

Turn the thermostat down.


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Picked this up off the wire:

Neither “New” nor “Classic,” Coke is simply itself again.

Two decades after adding the “Classic” designation, the Coca-Cola Co. is removing the word from its prominent location on the flagship cola sold in the U.S.

The reason for the label “has all but disappeared,” said Scott Williamson, a company spokesman.

The “Classic” tag line was added in 1985 when the company introduced a formula that consumers called “New Coke.” New Coke never caught on, and it was dropped in 2004.

Well, it’s about time… Sheesh…

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Custom House NumbersBack even before we had the house sided, I was contemplating having custom house numbers fabricated.

The diminutive selection offered at Home Depot or Lowe’s just wasn’t cutting it and I wanted something that looked nice. Unique. Classy.

At the time, I blamed my hesitation on wanting to wait and see what the house looked like once the siding was up before making a final decision.

That was nearly 2 years ago now.

Hesitation has become procrastination.

Our house still doesn’t have a number on it.

I’m pretty sure that we’re breaking some sort of local law there but because the mail has continued to be delivered, well, I haven’t felt any sense of urgency to get the issue resolved.

Until now — though I’m sure this feeling will soon pass…

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Rent-A-Center LogoNot too far from my house, on the way home actually, the are a number of big old houses just like mine that have been transformed into multifamily homes, usually with 3 or 4 units. Maybe more, it’s tough to tell…

I swear, based on how often people are apparently moving in and out, it’s either some sort of month-to-month rental situation or they’ve chopped the houses up into more apartments than I can imagine. Maybe they’re crack houses — I really don’t know.

But I drive by them every single day and, more often than not, there’s a couch out by the curb. A real eyesore, let me tell you. I’m *so* glad that I don’t live on “that” street. Really.

So for the past few weeks, through all of the snowstorms we’ve endured, pieces of a big sectional couch have been sitting outside one of them.

I’m not sure if the city is coming to pick them up or what (you can request a “bulky” pick up a few times per year), but before the weather took its toll, it looked like it must’ve been a pretty nice couch.

Nicer than mine, anyway… And mine’s pretty nice if I do say so myself…

So today on the way home, there was a big delivery truck in the driveway. How it cleared the sectional still partially in the driveway is a mystery, but one thing is for certain — they were taking delivery of a sweet looking leather couch.

It looked like the couch of my dream living room. It was nice.

Yeah, I was jealous.

Then I took note of what the side of the box truck said.

R-A-C, it said, in big yellow letters.


In my mind, that’s where welfare folks get their furniture.

Perhaps that’s insensitive, and it probably is, but that’s exactly the way I feel about RentTown, Rent-A-Center, and every other similar retailer.

I can’t be certain, I was driving by at a pretty decent clip, but I think this is the couch.

Of course, the website doesn’t list a price, making it (the website) completely useless, but more often than not, I think stuff like this can be had for $25-$30 per week.

Throw in a 52-inch plasma television for another $25 per week, and you can live a life of luxury.

Such a deal!

Really, how do people fall for this? Why is it always the low income folks that fall for this?

It drives me insane knowing that they think they’re well-off all while they’re being ripped off.

But hey, that’s their problem, right?

I’ll just sit here watching the twenty-year-old 13-inch television I used to play Sega on…

It costs me $0 per week.

That’s a deal.

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Arizona CardinalsBeing that I’m not a fan of either team or even NFL football in general, you might think that this Sunday would be just like any other Sunday during the year.

Well, you’d be wrong.

First off, I haven’t missed a Super Bowl in 23 years… dating back to when my Chicago Bears thumped the hometown New England Patriots.

Yep, 1986 was a good year to be a Bears fan in New England.

Since then, though, I can’t really say I’ve been all that interested in the end result of the game itself.

Yeah, I had high hopes a couple of years ago when the Bears made it to the Super Bowl — even wore a Bears jersey to watch the game — but when it became apparent that Peyton Manning and the Colts were the dominant team, I tuned the game out and focused more on the commercials.

Yep, I’m one of those people who actually watches the game for the commercials. Everyone hears about people like me. A lot even claim to watch strictly for the commercials. I actually do it.

This year, as we’ve done for the last three or four years, we’ll go to our local sports bar, pick up a bucket of wings, bring them home, and settle in to watch Puppy Bowl V on Animal Planet.

That’s our Super Sunday tradition.

It’s not about the football.

It’s about the food, the puppies, and the commercials.

Anyhow, in the real game, I’ll rooting for the Cardinals…

The used to hail from Chicago.

Oh, and for the record, this is my favorite Super Bowl commercial of all time:

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IRS LogoFigures…

Just when I said that I wasn’t eagerly awaiting my W-2 this year, I’ve already flip-flopped…

No, that’s an overstatement.

I received my W-2 from my employer today and it truly had me thinking about doing my taxes for the rest of the work day.

Of course, I haven’t purchased any tax software yet and I’m still waiting on a few 1099-MISC’s so I can’t really get going anyway buuuuuuuuut the juices are definitely flowing.

I’d be shocked if I make it through this weekend without installing TurboTax

(Yes, I’m actually going to use the same product in consecutive years… Sorry TaxCut…)

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    This Week on MTV Cribs... Brainy Smurf!

    I know, there wasn’t a “Photo of the Week” last week…

    It’s not that I forgot or was too busy… I just had the nastiest flu-like symptoms that I’ve had in years…

    Anyway, on Thursday evening we picked up part of our order at BabyUSA. The remaining piece of Furniture won’t be in until sometime in March. Yeah, one of those 6-8 week things… Not sure what takes so long… They can’t be made to order… I digress…

    Everything came in a nice big cardboard box — which they opened at the store (you know, destroying any protective integrity that the boxes once had) then taped them back up haphazardly and helped us load them into my wife’s truck.

    We drove to the far end of the parking lot, took everything out of the back, and then re-arranged things in a MUCH safer way for the car ride home.

    After an uneventful car ride home, entirely due to our stellar packing job, it was time to bring stuff into the house.

    We started with the dresser — the heaviest and most awkward of the pieces — and slowly made our way in the front door.

    Inside the cardboard box it was fully assembled, you know, like a REAL piece of furniture. For $519.99, I’d better not have to break out an Allen wrench…

    The second box, a big wide flat one, contained the crib. Just from looking at the box, this was going to be an IKEA-style project. Luckily, since it wasn’t nearly as bulky, it was easy to get into the house and up the stairs.

    The dresser, however, was a beast.

    We took all of the drawers out to lessen the weight, but it was still pretty heavy. Weight wasn’t the main issue though.

    The dimensions of the stairwell were the problem.

    Low clearance, walls on both sides all the way up, and a 90 degree turn thrown in for an added challenge.

    How we managed to get a queen size mattress up this flight of stairs is still a mystery…

    Our first two attempts were unsuccessful. Both attempts ended with the dresser tightly wedged at the turn in the stairs.


    Knowing that I was planning to have the first floor completely renovated, and doing a quick check to make sure the wall wasn’t supporting anything above, I was almost ready to break out a circular saw and make the opening bigger in my own special way…

    We tried one more time and it barely, with less than a half inch to spare, cleared the corner and the lowest part of the ceiling.


    Now, at this point, I’m all sweaty and out of breath. It’s also beginning to get late and we’ve got to go to work in the morning.

    Does that stop us?

    Of course not. The project is not complete.

    We start putting together the crib and it’s just like an IKEA piece of furniture — something we’re very experienced with. Of course I don’t ever remember paying so much for something that I had to assemble with an Allen wrench, but still, it looks like a pretty nice and solid piece of furniture.

    By 9:30 pm, we’re done and I’m settling in to watch 30 Rock, part of my normal Thursday night routine, before hitting the sack.

    All-in-all, the room looks pretty nice and I’m pretty happy with our selection and not at all worried about how much we spent on it all.

    Grant, who just had a baby of his own (congrats!) and often leaves great comments here that get me thinkin’, mentioned after the we purchased the furniture that we should just accept the fact that we’re going to buy a bunch of stuff and to get all of the big purchases made now.

    He’s right.

    You often hear the line, “Don’t sweat the small stuff…”

    Right now, I’m not even sweating the big stuff…

    We’ll see what happens when the statement arrives!

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    W-2Crazy how things can change in the span on one year…

    No, I’m not talking about the economy. Or maybe I am…

    I dunno, you can decide…

    Last year, at about this time, I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of my W-2 and other assorted 1099-MISC’s so that I could sit down, file my taxes, and get my nice fat tax refund — we received a check for $3444 last year!

    This year, though, I’ve barely given a thought to doing my taxes.

    Haven’t priced out the different versions of TurboTax and TaxCut.

    I haven’t even opened my last pay stub of 2008 to get an idea of how things may fall yet.

    In all honesty, I’m not even salivating about the “thousands” that could potentially be coming in just a few weeks.


    My best guess is that it has something to do with being debt free.

    Last year, we threw almost all of that money towards debt.

    This year, we don’t have that hanging over us. We don’t really *need* the refund.

    Oh, wait, we did just spend $1650 on baby furniture, didn’t we?

    Okay, I take that “we don’t need it” line back — the tax refund will again be paying down debt this year…

    The big difference is that it’s not weighing on my mind like it used to.

    Can You Dig It?