How did this happen?

Someone turned me into a shoe whore. Being a man, I decided I would at least do it on my terms.

I decided to go back to my childhood over the summer, so I bought a pair of red Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars. Whenever I wasn’t working, I wore my red Chucks. That seemed to satisfy my need for a few months but then the chaos hit.

Rather than drone on and on, I’ll leave you with this. Fill in your own idea of how this happened.

The image awaits behind this link.

Converse, if you’re reading, I need a pair in yellow and a pair in orange. That’s all I’m asking.

Skiing (Part One) – Hitting the Slopes

I spent the weekend in Buffalo for Danielle’s birthday. Since it’s Buffalo in January, there’s always snow. That can make it difficult, but I’m not a typical “southerner”. I love snow. Despite loving snow, I’d managed to make it through 30+ years without attempting to ski. Saturday, that changed.

I’ve always wanted to try skiing. Growing up, we never had much money, so skiing was a luxury that I never got a chance to try. I could’ve tried five years ago, but the day my company did a ski outing, I had a trip planned to visit my friend Charles in Cleveland. So I lived this long without skiing.

Danielle decided that we’d try Kissing Bridge, a ski resort near Buffalo. There are other slopes in the area, but Kissing Bridge offers a First-time Skier package. For $35, it includes a lesson, equipment rental, and an all-day lift ticket. This way, if I hated skiing, there was minimal investment.

We arrived at the ski lodge at noon, ready for our adventure. Upon entering, we went to the information desk to sign up. Since there was a line, we walked to the ticket desk, thinking this would be a logical place to buy the package. While logical, it was incorrect. So we walked back to the information desk and waited in the wrong line.

Once in the appropriate line, we bought our tickets. The cashier handed us many pieces of paper, which would allow us to get everything we needed. Rather than wait for a sufficient explanation, we accepted them. We figured it would be easier to hold out everything like a tourist using foreign currency when we reached the next person in the process.

The next person was in the rental shop. We filled out the rental form that signed away our right to sue Kissing Bridge if we hurt ourselves on their equipment. That was okay, because what could go wrong?

After filling this out, we moved around the counter to get in line. Not knowing what to do next, we waited for an employee to notice us. A guy asked us if we had our boots yet, and we said no. Danielle and I gave each other a glance and a laugh when the next words the guy said were “I need you guyses shoes.” Pluralization need follow no rules. I love English.

We put on our boots before moving on to get skis. Walking in these boots was like walking in concrete shoes. The next guy gave us skis after debating which size to give us. He asked me which size I wanted. Size? I should’ve said I don’t know, but I chose a blank stare instead. Thankfully he understood, so he used the size chart to determine the right length. He picked the size below the size recommended for my height. I questioned this, but we didn’t quite communicate with each other, so I accepted the shorter skis. This would be my second-best decision of the day.

He then asked if we wanted poles. Since I wished to have some way to hold myself up, I said yes. We now had all of our equipment and just enough time to run to the 1:00 lesson.

We arrived at the lesson as the instructor walked up to the group. While playing with my skis, he started speaking. “How many of you have skied before?” Danielle raised her hand. “How many of you have ice skated before?” Hey, I know the answer to this! I raised my hand. By now, I’d finally clicked into my skis and dug myself into my gloves. “Now that everyone has their skis on, take them off.” He’s joking, right? This was a lot of work. We did as we were told.

The instructor showed us a few basic tips for balance and control. Feet shoulder-width apart. Eyes looking where I want to go. Just like basketball and motorcycles. I could do this.

He took us to the edge of a slope for the next part of the lesson. He showed us how to walk up the slope in our skis and how to balance ourselves once we were there. We learned how to walk up sideways and how to walk up like a duck. After one trip up, I was exhausted.

After learning to walk up the slope, we had to learn to come down. Gravity takes care of this, so the key is learning control. My first trip down, my feet were too close together and my body was too rigid. Unbalanced, I raced down the slope, heading directly for the instructor. He side-stepped me as I got myself under control, turned hard left, and skidded to a stop. An auspicious start, but I wanted to try again.

I walked up the hill with the rest of the group. Following my natural tendency, I analyzed my performance to learn from it. I figured out what I did wrong, based on my motorcycle experience. I didn’t look forward. Always look toward the intended path, not the current location.

My turn came again and I was ready. I turned toward the bottom of the slope and headed down. Out of control again and moving faster than before. I went further than before but stopped myself short of any disastrous accident. In two trips down, I’d learned that I had no idea what I was doing, but at least I didn’t panic when I was out of control.

We headed over to Candy Cane, the “bunny” hill. Candy Cane is a big, scary slope. With lots of people. This would be an adventure, because we were going to practice turning. Instead of wiping out the instructor in my path, I’d turn into someone else. A 7-year-old someone else.

The practice slope is at the bottom of Mistletoe. Candy Cane is on the left, next to First Aid.

I rode the J-Bar up the bunny mountain hill. The J-Bar is an interesting contraption. It’s a spring attached to a moving cable. Riding up, it’s a guide, not a lift, so leaning on it is a bad idea. I knew this riding up, so I was fine, but it did stop every few seconds because someone fell down on the way up.

At the top of the hill, the goal is to throw the J-Bar aside and ski away from the path of the person behind. Since it’s an uphill ride, I couldn’t get off until it put me at the top. As I neared the summit, it stopped three feet short. Stranded on the bunny hill.

Once I reached her at the top, Danielle reassured me that I’d be fine. I’m a quick learner and a decent athlete, so I shouldn’t worry. There are no brakes on skis, so I worried.

Part two still to come…

When do I go national?

I had a blog entry planned a few days ago, but got side-tracked for a reason that I’ll explain later (hopefully tomorrow). I wanted to write about Winston Churchill’s 104-year-old parrot called Charlie. Churchill taught her to make interesting comments about Hitler and the Nazis. Decades after Churchill’s death, Charlie “can still be coaxed into repeating them with that unmistakable Churchillian inflection.”

Today, I listened to the Don and Mike Show, and they discussed Charlie on the show. I’m fascinated that I’m doing the same thing in “preparing” for my gig as a blogger that Don Geronimo does to prepare for his national radio show. At least I had the story prepared earlier than they did.

Yes, I know yesterday was a holiday, so Don and Mike weren’t on the air. Yes, I know I didn’t write this entry until tonight. However, I can believe anything I want.

Maybe I’ll even be a “National Traysure” one day.

P.S. I promise you’ll know soon why I took a 4 day break from RollingDoughnut.

Kurt Nilsen Mania Invades

Norwegian Idol winner Kurt Nilsen earned the World Idol title on New Year’s Day. If you didn’t hear him sing “Beautiful Day” on the Christmas telecast of World Idol, you owe it to yourself to hear it. But he didn’t have the image supposedly required to win. Instead, he has the talent to win it.

“I wasn’t taunted (by the judges) so badly. None of them got me for the song. And it seems that those who voted for me ignored the jokes about my looks. People are beginning to understand that it isn’t just glamour that sells any more, but the opposite. People listen to the music, the song, and that was lucky for me,” Nilsen said.

Kurt showed class in his performance and acceptance of remarks like “Middle-earth Idol”. He represented the image of a true star. He showed his emotions and shock at winning most of the World Idol votes. He was in happy disbelief.

Kelly Clarkson sat by him, getting visibly madder after the announcement of each country’s vote. I suspect that she’d been told that World Idol would be a three-hour commercial for her greatness. She’d even get a trophy.

With a smug attitude, she trudged through the whole affair, which spilled over to the post-show atmosphere. This article from The Province describes Kelly Clarkson’s post-show escapades surrounding Kurt’s win. While I disagree with the writer taking cheap shots at Americans, he explains the debacle well. Specifically, the writer points out:

An embrace with Nilsen might’ve given Kelly a guest spot on Kurt’s upcoming album. After all, he coughed up the coin to fly all the way from Norway to New York — his first American trip — just to see her sing at Giants Stadium last year.

Being nice to people isn’t a good career move. It’s common decency and happy results flow from that. As the writer states, Clay Aiken is a perfect example of how to be the runner-up in an Idol contest. He showed dignity, class, and humor in defeat.

With that background and his performance on World Idol, Danielle and I ordered Kurt’s cd, titled I, from The site is in Norwegian, so we were intimidated at first, but quickly took to the joy of navigating a language we did not know. After a few mistakes, we completed the order and planned to wait several weeks for the shipment. Less than a week later, Zailor delivered the cds, which is faster than I receive shipments from web sites in the U.S. Of course, when the credit card bill arrives, we’ll probably see that we spent $40 for expedited shipping but it’s great service.

Having listened to the cd, even though it’s impossible to ignore, I’m going to exclude the word “debut” from my praise. This is one of the best albums I’ve heard. Ever. The songs flow and he wrote most of the songs, so he understands them and saturates the album with emotion. That it’s his debut makes it more impressive. This is an example of how to make a great record. (He released an EP called Come Down Here with his band Fenrik Lane.)

His album gives me hope that we’re getting back to the “good old days”, when talent mattered more than image. The music industry’s main concern is not online song-swapping. That’s a consumer reaction to the real issue. Nobody makes albums anymore. Instead, every record company marketing whiz demands a collection of three video singles and seven throw-away songs.

That’s a shame, because there is still good music available and that’s all I want. Looks may matter most to the coveted teen market, though I choose to give them more respect, but there are consumers who want good music more than anything. If there’s any justice, Kurt’s album will prove that in the U.S. market.

Finally, my Kurt appreciation grows for reasons other than music. I love hearing people speak English when it’s not their native language. Thanks to Kurt, I have a new saying. Referring to the sudden change in his life, he said this: “And that means that I need to have a think.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

How I spent my blogging vacation

I know my readership is wondering where I’ve been. I’m here to tell you there is an explanation. When I haven’t been working 20 hour days, I’ve experienced the following fun, stupid, and crazy adventures:

fun –> sleeping
stupid –> watching Virginia Tech football while sitting in Hurricane Isabel
crazy –> going to the Miss America Pageant

For photographic proof, here’s a view from Section 215, Row S, Seat 7 (yes, that’s the last row):

If you haven’t seen Miss California’s performance of “At This Moment”, find it and watch it immediately. You will not believe it. I sat in the lobby of Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, listening to Miss California sing this song live. It’s truly stunning, in the same way that listening to two cats fighting is joyful.

That’s the story of where I’ve been. Don’t abandon me, my dear, faithful readers. I will be back soon. I have lots of fun experiences coming soon.

Legal news: a 12-year-old girl and my namesake

I have two interesting facts today. Both are legal issues that I find interesting.

The Recording Industry Association of America is suing people for downloading music. They’re monkey fuckers for doing this. You know that. The problem is that they refuse to acknowledge technological progress. They should realize that technology will always win out. Rather than being creative, they’re attempting to scare Americans into paying $18 for 1 hit song and 9 odes to bad writing.

In their zeal to do this, they’re issuing subpoenas to people who download and/or offer for download large quantities of music. Not surprisingly, they’ve walked into a public relations nightmare. They’re suing a 12-year-old girl for downloading songs such as “If You’re Happy and You Know It”. Ignoring the legal issues, this is not a good idea. Americans already hate the RIAA, but I think they’ll pursue this. It’s possible to chant “I’m right, I’m right, I’m right” at the top of your lungs, but being practical is smart. Too bad they’re stupid.

In another entertaining development, the results of Googling your own name can produce interesting results. I did this at the suggestion of a friend. My search returned a death row inmate. I’m fascinated by his website; he even has an e-mail address with the domain name If you choose to do this with your name, who knows what might turn up.

To my namesake, if you’re reading this, I’m totally on your side, dude. Don’t let The Man keep you down.

Nabisco is great

How great are Oreo cookies? You eat an Oreo cookie because they taste so good. There’s nothing like them. Nabisco has a great scam going. They know the secret formula of sugar, flour, and chemicals that makes it so good. And they put it into the “Oreo shape” to add the joy of twisting the cookie. Every cookie is a new adventure.

But here’s the secret… Keebler has nothing on Nabisco because anyone can make chocolate chip cookies at home. You can even throw in M&M’s, improving on the elves’ weak chocolate candy Rainbow cookies. Let me ask you this… When was the last time Johnny invited you over to his house by telling you “My mom just made some Oreos. Wanna come over?”

The creator of the Oreo is a genius.

Sleep Deprivation is fun

Recently, I’ve been working crazy hours. I’m new to the long hours since I’m new to the project. My co-worker has been here longer, having worked the previous 25 days leading into the Labor Day weekend. We’ve started another that will be 25 days.

Last week, we had a wonderful conversation about whether or not it would be possible to parachute the conference room table out the window, down 11 floors, and have it stay in one piece so that we could eat dinner on it. Our conclusion: it’s possible, but if we’re going to the trouble, we might as well make it remote controlled so we can put the table where we want it.

We followed that up last night with the decision, not yet implemented, to throw gummy bears off the roof of the building to see what would happen to them.

Where’s my pillow?