I just realized I owe a bunch of people a Brennin Hunt CD from this post. The winners of the CDs were:

6th place: Anhara
5th place: Deanna
4th place: Christina
3rd place: Tricialynn
2nd place: Melodie

I have addresses for Tricia and Melodie, but nobody else. If you haven't (or even if you have) already sent your address to me via my profile e-mail, please do. I have the CDs packaged up and I'll get them out next week.

Carry on!

PS - I have one extra, so whoever would like it and posts the first comment gets it.


Boot Camp.

So as I mentioned in a previous post, I've been looking for some new hiking boots. I don't think my foot size has really changed since I was in high school. I took a 9.5 then and I take a 9.5 now.

I have very stringent boot requirements. They have to give me great ankle support (old snowboarding yard sale injury), they can't be made in China (I modified that requirement - at first I tried "they have to be made in the U.S." but I discovered that we don't make anything here anymore), they have to be comfortable, have almost no heel lift and be made with Norwegian welt construction. A tall order, I know.

The one boot that fits all those requirements is the Merrell Wilderness. Made in Italy, tough enough for some light climbing, comfortable enough for long hikes -- I've had a few pairs of those and they've been great. They can be re-soled, and they aren't too difficult to break in. Lastly, they always fit. The one thing they are not, however, is waterproof.

Oh, they'll say they're waterproof, and they may even be waterproof right out of the box, but they are not waterproof for very long. Even when properly treated, a rainy, messy hike will mean your feet will get soaked.

I wanted another pair to wear when when the weather looked suspect. Something that included that magical material called Gore-Tex. I knew I'd have to give up the Norwegian welt, but I figured it would be a fair trade-off.

As you may already know, I hate shopping. I hate going to stores, I hate being waited on, I hate standing in line to check out, I hate just about everything involved in the entire miserable experience. That being said, you'd be correct in thinking that I am a big fan of ordering stuff online.

Boots, however can be an iffy proposition, because unless you're buying something you've purchased before, you have nothing to go on except for the reviews of others. So began my boot buying odyssey, which has not yet, in fact, ended. Right now there are boots in a box on my kitchen table, waiting to go back from whence they came.

Let me tell you why.

I know you probably don't give a shit, but I'm going to get this off my chest anyway, so what else do you have to do? I suppose you could go watch reruns of old American Idol episodes, but even if I just typed nothing but the word "moist" over and over and over for an hour and then made you read it out loud, it would probably be less annoying than doing that.

Anyway, after reading hundreds of reviews, I decided that these boots might be the ones for me. They had the Gore-tex, they had good reviews, and they were made in Germany. Sure, there were a few discrepancies in the reviews -- some people said they ran big, other people said they ran true to size -- you never know who to believe. I figured worst case, I'd take a shot, order my normal size and hope it worked out.

Here's how I pictured this happening:

1. Order boots.
2. Receive boots.
3. Wear boots.

Simple, right?

To make sure things happened as I wanted them to, I decided I needed to figure out exactly what my shoe size is. I always knew I was a size 9.5, but I never really knew my width. A? B? C? D? E? EE? EEEE? F? G? I had no idea.

"How hard can it be?"
I thought to myself. "There are probably hundreds of sites out there with the info I need." The first site I went to told me to trace my feet, then click the "shoe size conversion chart" link. Since I always do what the internet tells me to, I traced my feet onto two pieces of paper, measured toe to heel and side to side, and then clicked on the link. It was dead.

So I had learned three things. One, I have duck feet:

Narrow in the back -- wide in the front, flat on the bottom. They are like triangular paddles on the end of my legs. Two, my right foot is a full half-inch shorter than my left. Three, static web pages suck.

Armed with that knowledge, I headed off to Wikipedia, the knower of all things, and looked up "shoe size."

That's when I started to get confused. It seems that along with religion and politics, nobody in the world can agree upon the best way to size a shoe. It seems that the US, Canada, Europe, Asia and the military all use different systems. Oh, and women's and children's sizes -- also different.


I continue to read. It wasn't all bad. The first thing I saw was that there were three common sizing systems. The first one is used by NATO and other military groups. It's called "Mondopoint." There are length units, and width units. At least that makes sense, right? In a perfect world, you'd walk into a shoe store and if your foot is 10.5" long and 4" wide, you'd say "give me that shoe in a ten-five by four" and you're on your way. But no.

Because Mondopoint is in millimeters and I live in the U.S., I can't convert that into actual inches without a calculator and a lot of time. So it wasn't ideal. Also, I am not in the military, and since nobody else uses it, it was dead to me.

I looked at the U.S. information next.

The calculation for a male shoe size in the USA or Canada is:

male shoe size = 3 x last length in inches -24

Then I had to look up "last length." Apparently, the "last" is the foot-shaped template over which the shoe is manufactured.

Wikipedia told me that the traditional US system is similar to English sizes but "starts counting at one rather than zero, so equivalent sizes are one greater." So one number higher than English shoes. OK. I'm good enough at math to figure that one out.

I started reading about the sizing methods used in the UK. "Shoe size in the UK (English size) is based on the length of the last..."

So far, so good. I mean, I now knew what a "last" was.

"... measured in barleycorn starting from the smallest practical size, which is size zero. It is not formally standardised."

Jesus Christ. Barleycorn? Where was I going to get my hands on a barleycorn at 11:30 pm on a Thursday? I don't know about you, but I don't have a barleycorn farmer on speed dial. Plus, it's not even standardized. What would happen if I inadvertently got my hands on some bigass barleycorns?

So it turns out that the barleycorn is a "basic Anglo-Saxon unit, literally the length of a corn of barley."

Wikipedia says that it "goes back to 1066, as the base unit from which the inch was nominally defined. Three barleycorns comprising 1 inch was the legal definition of the inch in many mediƦval laws, both of England and Wales, from the 10th century Laws of Hywel Dda to the 1324 definition of the inch enacted by Edward II. Used in current UK shoe measurement."

Used in current UK shoe measurement. Did I just read that?

So apparently the English are currently using a unit of measure from 1066 to size shoes. Currently, as in Today. Right now. Exactly at this second, there's some UK bastard out there lining up his fucking barleycorns.

Then I remembered these boots are made in Germany. I immediately canceled my barleycorn order, and started looking at the Continental European system -- which is used in France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

In this system, the shoe size is the length of the last, "expressed in Paris points."

Seriously? Paris points? Son of a bitch.

So it turns out that a Paris point is ⅔ of a centimetre and it has been agreed upon in Germany that the last is the length of the foot plus two centimetres, so to figure out my shoe size, the simple formula is:

At this point, I was done. I just opened the Cabela's website in my browser, ordered my boots in a size 9.5, EE and called it a night. A few days later, they showed up.

I put them on, and they were too big. I'd say by at least three, maybe four barleycorns. I had to crank the laces down, and I still got heel lift.

So I did what I should have done to begin with. I got on the phone with the sales guy at Cabela's, and told him they were a little too big and I was getting some major heel lift.

"Yeah, they do run a little big," he said. "You ordered the wide boot -- the EE width -- is that what you wanted? Most people with normal feet go with D width. If I were you, I'd get the 9 D's. They'll probably fit you perfectly."

So now I need to send the other ones back, and in another week, I'll have a pair that will supposedly fit me like they should.

But I've been saving my poppy seeds, just in case. It turns out that according to modern-day UK math, they go four to a barleycorn, and they're much easier to get.

They're a real pain in the ass to line up, though.


Sometimes I get mail.

At least a few times a week, I get mail from people or companies looking for free advertising. They always pitch it as "Hey, I've got a funny idea for a blog post!" or "Here's a funny site!"

Just to show you the sort of high class companies that my blog attracts, I am going to share one of these e-mails with you.

To: me@verizon.net
Subject: funny idea for your blog!

Hey Johnny,

We have been enjoying your blog and thought you might be interested in our hilarious new product: the assbrella. It is the world's only umbrella featuring a huge picture of an ass! Check out our site at assbrellas.com for some pics and more info. Feel free to pass it along to your readers!


The Assbrellas Team

Problems I have with this e-mail in no particular order:

1. It's an ass. On an umbrella. And the top of the handle pokes out of the bunghole.
2. Asses look pretty damn creepy when there is nothing else attached to them.
3. They are lying their giant umbrella asses off when they say they've "been enjoying my blog."
4. They wouldn't give me one for free.
5. They have a team. Dedicated to the assbrella.

Picture this conversation:

Dad: "So, you want to marry my daughter? That's great, that's great. What business did you say you are in?"

ABGuy: "I'm a member of the Assbrellas team."

Dad: "Sounds impressive. I think I've heard of him. He's that Italian formula one race car driver, right? Antonio Aiezbrellas?

ABGuy: "No. I am a member of a sales team that sells cheap chinese umbrellas. With pictures of hairy asses on them. You know. Assbrellas."

Dad: "Get the fuck out of my house."

So there you go. Order yours today.


More good times.

Due to a recent reorg, my boss got a new boss. He seems like a nice guy, but I don't really know him. Since my boss was out of the office today, I had my very first Instant Messaging interaction with my boss's boss. It went about as well as could be expected:

Big Boss: How's everything in the world of messaging today?

Me: So far so good

Big Boss: Are you on point for the disaster recovery test?

Me: No, not this time. I believe it's going to be Jim

Big Boss: ok. I'll check in with him on that. I hope it all stays quiet

Me: Yeah, so do I

Big Boss: OK, page me if anything comes up. Have a good one

Me: Will do, you too1

Me: too! I meant too!

[end chat]

Have a good weekend, everyone.


Good times.

I still have to post my followup, but I don't have time tonight. Instead, I'll share this small part of my day.

I was waiting in the grill line at the cafeteria today when I got a text message from my buddy Yort.

"Lunchin?" it said.

I had seen him sitting in a conference room on my way down to the chow line so I figured he was working through lunch.

"Waiting in line right now." I replied.

A few seconds later, I got another message. "Dammit!" it said.

So I bailed on the line and walked back to the conference room. He was gone. I walked back to his desk. Not there. I walked back toward the cafeteria just in case I had missed him somehow.

I sent him another message. "Where r u?"

While I was waiting, I decided to hit the bathroom down the hall. Just before I walked in the door, another message came in. It just said, "Baffroom."

I realized the implications of my friend texting me from a stall, but I walked in to take a leak anyway. I immediately saw his sneakers under the handicapper stall door. More room for texting, I guess.

I did my business, and as I was washing up, I yelled over to him. "Hey! Pinch it off and get out of there. I don't have all day!"

He flushed, opened the stall door, and walked out.

It was some dude I had never seen before.

Fucking New Balance.


There and back again.

So this is my 2nd and last night in beautiful downtown......Brooklyn, I think?

Brooklyn, Ohio. Yeah, I think that sounds right. As far as I can tell, it consists of a Friday's restaurant, a business park and a Hampton Inn. The latter location is where I am currently fighting with the heating/cooling unit and listening to the train rumble past, roughly 3 feet from my window.

Other than that, I have very few problems with my room. It's superficially clean, which is about all you can realistically hope for, the water pressure in the shower is decent, and while there was a very suspect half-inch brown smear on the front edge of the toilet seat, the rest of the bathroom is spotless. I cleaned the smear off with a washcloth and tossed it into the garbage can.

I'm sitting here listening to Wilco and wondering what to write about. I'm working on about combined seven hours of sleep over the last two days, so if none of this makes sense, I apologize in advance. I think I'll just tell you a little about my trip.

The toilet issue above makes me think that so far, this trip seems germier than most. Maybe my germaphobic tendencies are getting worse, or maybe people are just becoming more disgusting over time, but this trip seems worse than normal for some reason. Some of it was even self-inflicted, but I'll get to that in a bit.

It all started with the button on the ticket machine at the long-term airport parking garage. I pulled my car up, rolled my window down and reached out to push the button when I realized that there was something blobby and kind of red smeared on it. I'm not sure what it was. I am sure I don't ever want to know. For my sanity, I am calling it strawberry jelly. It helps me sleep better at night. I pushed the bare edge of the button and took my ticket with a shudder. After I parked the car, I walked to the terminal and picked up my boarding pass.

My next airport run-in was with the licky lady. She was stationed at the security check, sitting up on her little stool, looking over the top of her cats-eye glasses that were perched precariously on the tip of her nose. "Boarding pass and ID, please," she said, holding out one latex glove-covered hand. I handed her both the boarding pass and my driver's license.

If you've ever picked up your boarding pass via one of the kiosks, you know they dispense them on thermal paper, which is very, very thin. Apparently, too thin to separate from the folder easily. You know what makes it easier? Giving a good, solid lick to your filthy, rubber-clad finger with your knobbly old tongue first.

She wrote something on my boarding pass with her pen and then held up my license for inspection.

"Second row on the left," she said, handing me back my license and boarding pass. I could still see the little glistening spitspots drying on my license. I wrapped it in the boarding pass and tried to forget about it as I bent to take off my shoes.

I tossed them into one of the buckets, grabbed another one for my laptop and pulled all the crap out of my pockets. The guy in front of me was doing the same. I tossed my backpack on the conveyor belt.

"Do you have any gels, liquids or creams?" the security guard working the X-ray machine asked the guy in front of me.

"Yes, just the normal shampoo and toothpaste-type stuff," he answered.

"Can you remove it from your bag, please?" the security guard asked.

The man pulled a clear ziplock bag from his duffle. The security guard poked at it, and then spotted something.

He rooted around in the guy's bag for a second, then pulled out an extra-large tube of Preparation H with a 3-inch nozzle.

"The limit on tubes and bottles is 3.4 ounces," he said, holding it up. "I'm afraid I'm going to have to confiscate this."

The guy didn't argue. I think he just wanted to toss himself into the gears of the x-ray machine and call it a day. At least his ass wouldn't hurt any more. The rest of the ziploc bag passed through the machine without incident. The guy was so flustered, he left his laptop in the bucket and I had to point it out to him.

I was next.

"Do you have any gels, liquids or creams?"

"Uh, yes," I said. "Just the normal, uh, you know, toiletries and whatnot."

 Toiletries and whatnot? Where the fuck did that come from? Who am I? The Queen of England?

"Take them out for me, please."

I took them out of my backpack, nervous, yet smug in the knowledge that the time I spent transferring shampoo and conditioner and toothpaste into small 3-ounce bottles was not wasted.

As I put the bag on the conveyor belt, I noticed something. My ziploc bag was vibrating. The guard noticed it too. He looked up at me and arched an eyebrow, clearly waiting for me to explain what he was seeing.

"Electric Toothbrush," I said sheepishly, opening the bag and holding it up for all to see, just to dispel any confusion. I clicked it off and shoved it back in.

After I made it through the security check, I survived a momentary gross out when I realized that while I was packing my computer and my "toiletries and what-not" into my backpack, I held my boarding pass and driver's license pursed between my lips. Is it any wonder we are all going to die of swine flu? No, it is not.

(As an aside, is it just me, or does everyone else feel like they are about to get called out for smuggling drugs or explosives or something when they go through these checkpoints? I'm always expecting someone to walk up to the head guy, whisper something, point directly at me, and the next thing I know I'll be on the ground with some TSA agent's foot on my neck while another one cuffs me. )

After that, I went to grab a cup of coffee at starbucks, and the woman making it coughed directly into her hand and then used it to press the lid on my coffee. I brought it over to the sugar/cream stand, and then promptly dropped the lid on the floor. I picked it up, thought fuck it, and put it back on. I was already dead.

My last gross out on the way here was, as you've probably surmised, bathroom related. Right before boarding, I decided I'd make a quick run to the men's room to get rid of some of that coffee I had ingested. As I was standing there doing my business, I realized I was standing in a puddle of piss. Nothing out of the ordinary there, I guess. I rotated to the outside of my feet to keep as much of my shoe off the ground as possible, but the damage was done. I walked out just in time for our flight to board. As I was stuffing my backpack under my seat, I realized something. The only place to put my newly contaminated piss feet was right on top of my bag.

Man, I hate traveling.

It's late and I have an early shuttle to catch to the airport in the morning, so I'll have to tell you about the rest of the trip tomorrow. I'll give you a hint: It involves heavy drinking, other peoples' dirty balls and socks of unknown origin.

You can't go wrong with that combo.