Thursday, November 06, 2008

Canadian Effects

It has been just over a year since I first arrived in Calgary, and I have noticed a few things that have stuck with me from my time there.

1. I sign my emails with "cheers." I know that is not uniquely Canadian, but it isn't very American either. I saw it a lot up there, and I liked it. So now I used it.

2. I say "for sure" all the time. Again, this is not unique to Canada (so few things are, actually), but it is definitely not native to Texas or Louisiana.

3. I still say "eh" at the end of some sentences. This one is more associated with Canada than anything else. I like that I have adopted it, actually.

So there you have it - the lasting effects of my trip to Canada.

There are various others that are not blog worthy, for sure. These are just the ones I want to share.

Subtle, eh?


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Post Election Thoughts

Well, it is over. Twenty-plus months have finally come to an end, and the outcome is not what I hoped for. However, I like to think of my cup as being half full, so I will offer a few thoughts.

I watched the election results last night with some friends of mine, and none of us voted for the man who will be our next President. So the mood was a bit cynical and disappointed. However, when Senator Obama came out to give his speach, the reality of what was happening sunk in for me. A man who would have been counted as only 3/5 of a person when our country was formed was elected to the most powerful office in the world. The significance of that was breathtaking for me. I realize that is not news to anyone. It was not news to me last night; it just hit me in a fresh way. I am not saying that I suddenly think that Barak Obama is a good choice to lead our country - I still don't think he is. I was just impressed with the fact that he won considering the adversity his ancestors have had in this great land we live in.

On a much more eternal and important note, ever since I became a Christian, I have not looked to the government for my security. I know where my security is - it is in Heaven, held by the King of kings - Jesus Christ. So since I do not expect security from my government, I also do not fear my government. So I am not fearful or depressed by the outcome. As noted above, I still do not agree with Barak Obama's policies and philosophy of government, but my Heavenly Father knew the results of last night's election before the foundation of the world. If He allowed (or dare I say appointed) it to turn out the way it did, I need not resent the results. He has it under control. The Bible tells us that those who trust in Him shall not be put to shame. So four(or even eight) years is truly a blink of an eye.

That's all I got. Now go out and get a Red Cup of coffee from Starbucks. For the record, I think it is too early for these to be out; but they didn't ask me.

Friday, October 03, 2008

The Mystery of the Growing Pant Legs

Something odd is happening to my jeans. Normally, jeans or pants shrink after months of being worn. Well, it seems that one of my pairs of jeans is getting longer. I feel them under the heal of my shoe all the time (but I don't recall that they were that long when I bought them). Frankly, I am perfectly fine with this because I hate wearing pants that are the slightest bit on the high water side.

Happy Wall-Street-Bail-Out-Passage-Day to all of you...

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Prince Ali...

I just had a meeting with one of our Internal Auditors, and his name is Ali. During the whole meeting, the song from Aladin was running through my mind. Fortunately, I was able to keep it in...

Prince Ali!
Mighty is he!
Ali Ababwa

Monday, September 08, 2008

Spin it, baby... spin it!

We Republicans love to criticize the "liberal media."

Well, this short video from The Daily Show shows how difficult it is to tell a story accurately when people keep spinning differently things depending on the situation. Granted, some of these clips may be taken out of context... but I think Jon has left enough context in to get his point across. And (unfortunately) he makes that point very well in my opinion.

What this video does not show is how the Democrats do the same thing when the tables are turned. Case in point: the private life of President Clinton was none of our business... but the private life of the daughter of a Vice President candidate is a different story.

For more on this, you may want to check out Thank You For Smoking. Fair warning, there is at least one scene in that movie that will be offensive to most viewers.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Overcoming Adversity at the RNC

I was called out for blogging about the DNC and not the RNC. I was told that this makes me a closet Democrat. I guess I am part of the liberal biased media that only reports on what the Blue Left is up to.

In an attempt to be "fair and blanced," here is my obligatory blog on the RNC.

In all seriousness, I have not been able to watch as much of the RNC. I have it all saved on my DVR, and I plan to watch the speeches this weekend. But I did make a point to listen to Gov. Palin and Sen. McCain. They both did a great job, in my humble but accurate opinion.

Let me say this about the RNC... there was not a lot of internal drama like there was in Denver last week. There was only one candidate, and the whole arena was solidly behind him. He and Palin didn't have to create any unity within the Party. They did have to present Palin as capable... and I think that was done with ease. She has the kind of gumption that I love. I love it in a leader... and I find it attractive in a woman. Of course, elections are not based attraction. But I digress.

They also had to create a little distance between McCain and President Bush. I liked how McCain wore a yellow tie last night. Don't think for a second that such a choice was not very intentional. He has the vast majority of the Red vote... he may get some of the Blue vote... but what he needs are the Independents.

McCain's best line last night (which I assume was on the fly): "Don't be deterred by the ground noise and static." He was not shaken at all by the protests and moles that infiltrated the RNC. I thought he handled it very well.

At the end of the day, the RNC may have overplayed the "service to country" card. But I still feel that it is an important and effective card. It means a lot to me, and I am sure it means a lot to many Americans. The man clearly comes off as not being in this for himself. Obama does not really send that same message.

I am looking forward to the debates... especially the VP one. Palin may have a little trouble with Biden, but I think she will be able to hold her own just fine. McCain will struggle a bit against the polished talk of Obama; but at the end of the day, I think he will pull it out.

I will proudly cast my vote for McCain/Palin.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Precious New Life

I can't imagine what it feels like to have a child of my own. I mean I am so proud of and in love with my nephew and niece... I can't imagine those emotions being stronger. But I know they are, and I long for a day when I may experience them. Of course, that desire (along with all other desires) must be surrendered to the Lord. Along those lines, I was speaking with a friend last night about one of her life's desires that was recently fulfilled. She said it was surreal to look at the situation and see that God had graciously answered her prayer. She went on to say that He didn't owe her anything, but gave the gift nonetheless. I feel that way about being a father - if He grants it one day, great. But He is certainly not obligated to me in any way. But that is really another post for another day...

In any event, this is my niece Avery. She was born last week...

I know I am biased, but I honestly don't think newborn babies are ever this cute. Her brother was in the same category. In fact, to see the two side by side is almost like they are twins separated by 3.5 years.

I can't wait to watch her grow. Life is so precious, isn't it? And to see it in such a fragile state as a newborn reminds me of how great God is to create us, love us, and grow us into His image.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Going for Gold at the DNC

Now that the world's largest sporting event has ended - aka the Olympic Games - I have been drawn in to the Democratic National Convention. I do not really consider myself a Republican or a Democrat, but I do lean a bit more to the right than to the left. In any event, I am enjoying the drama surrounding the DNC.

So as you are probably aware, there are loads of Hillary supporters at the Convention. There is a contingent of delegates who desire to bump Obama and replace him with the Senator from the Great State of New York. This is great news for the Repubilcans because we all know that a house divided will not stand.

Last night, Hillary was charged with rallying the Party to unify around one candidate - namely Barak Obama. Regardless of your views of her as a person, a leader, a wife, or whatever... you pretty much have to agree that she gave a stellar speech last night (which many people on CNN referred to as a "message.") She did exactly what she needed to do, and as James Carville said - last night was a good night to be a Democrat.

I watched the coverage on CNN last night. At one point, Wolf Blitzer was interviewing Rudy Giuliani. Rudy said that Obama needs to explain why he chose Biden over Clinton as a running mate. Blitzer (in his best "unbiased" manner) then defended Obama saying that as the DNC's candidate for president, Obama doesn't have to explain anything. It was truly laughable.

I can't wait to see how CNN handles the RNC next week...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Deep Thoughts on Rain

As it rains outside, I am reminded of something I read years ago by John Piper. It comes to mind quite often during heavy rain storms... so I wanted to post it here for others to enjoy.

Victory & Defeat

If you have talked to me in the past 12 days, you know that I am addicted to the Olympics. My bed times is normally 10:00 pm, but that time has been temporarily moved to 12:00 am.

So last week was all about Michael Phelps. He had goals to accomplish and the whole country (well, the whole world, for that matter) was cheering him on. He performed like the champion he is. Everything went exactly as planned, and he didn't miss a single beat in his quest. Even when his goggles filled with water, he counted his strokes as he made his way to the wall ahead of his competitors.

But the same cannot be said for Lolo Johnson. She was the favorite to win the 100 M hurdles. She was tearing it up... until hurdle #9. She clipped it with her right foot, and that was the end for her. What a heart breaking finish, eh? I watched as she stared at the screen in disbelief with what had just happened. There is another shot of her (after her gracious interview) where she is alone... crying. Very sad.

But then there is Dawn Harper. For her, Lolo's defeat meant golden victory. Her disbelief equaled Lolo's... but for completely different reasons. You could see all over her face that she did not expect to win. But the joy on her face when it set in. There was a moment (that I have not been able to find a picture of) where I swear she is praising God. Everything about her body language, face, etc. screams "Thank you, God." It was a great moment for her.

It is events like this that fuel my addiction to the Olympics.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Those Crazy Utes...

... or should I say "youuuuths." Check this out.

First - why would you do such a rediculous thing?
Second - why would you let someone video it in this day and age?
Third - why would you post it on your MySpace page?

This reminds me of a great episode of Seinfeld where Kramer installs a garbage disposer in his shower...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Mid Life Crisis?

I don't think I am going through a mid-life crisis (mostly because I hope I have not yet hit the middle of my life). But I got a rental car yesterday because my Mazda is in the shop for some minor repairs; and I got a convertible PT Cruiser. It was all they had available in the price range that was covered by the insurance. I can hardly imagine driving it with the top up. Driving with the top down is such a new and different thing for me. One of my good friends discussed this phenomenon on her blog. Her perspective turned into a much more spiritual one than mine has...

For me, I feel just a little bit cooler driving around town with my rag top down so my hair can blow - girls on standby, waiting just to say hi. Do I stop? No... I just drive by - keep on, pursuing to the next stop.

But I digress... my fear is that I am going to end up being one of those 55 year old men who buys a convertible to feel young. May such a thing never be true of me.

In any event, convertibles are fun. So I will enjoy it while I can.

Friday, August 08, 2008

888 is the new 777

I read an article earlier today that explained how today is viewed as a very lucky day in Chinese culture because of all the 8's involved. It was for this reason that the city of Beijing chose to open this year's Olympic Games on this day. Something about the number 8 being circular and round... I didn't retain all the particulars. The article also talked about how two years ago there was talk of the Antichrist being born on June, 6 2006. Apparently, superstition is no respector of religon or faith background.

In any event, if today is really supposed to be the luckiest of days... I may have to change my evening plans. I am currently scheduled to watch the above referenced opening ceremonies at home with a handful of friends. But I am thinking I should hit the clubs... who's with me?

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Are you kidding me?

Whatever your view is of Joel Osteen and his ministry at Lakewood Church, this situation will likely strike a nerve with you.

Granted, I was not on the plane. Granted, I have never met either of the parties involved. But this is such a clear case of gold digging, in my humble opinion.

This is the part the really dumbfounds me:

According to court documents, Brown claims that she suffers from anxiety and hemorrhoids because of the incident involving Victoria Osteen and said her faith was affected.

I mean if your faith is affected by the actions of a Pastor's wife, your heart may be the rocky or thorny soil discussed here.

I am just befuddled by the whole scenario... and the fact that it is Headline News material. And yes, I just wanted to use the word befuddled.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

My New Addiction

I don't know if this makes me cool or a dork... but either way, I am fully enjoying this new craze in video gaming. And for all the haters - I do realize that I am not actually playing the guitar, bass, or drums when I rock out to Rock Band. But it provides hours of entertainment nonetheless. If you have not yet played this game or Guitar Hero, I highly recommend checking them out. But as luck would have it, I see that Rock Band 2 is already slated to come out... and the instruments look so much better. And the drum set is wireless. Such is the technological age we live in, I guess. Maybe I should take mine back within the 30 days and get the new one when it comes out. Hmmmmmm....

Monday, August 04, 2008

Blasts from the Past...

My cousin is in the process of collecting pictures for my Grandmother's Christmas gift, and she found these little gems along the way...

That is me on the right, and my brother on the left. Love my hair... and I look scared for some reason. Either way, I think we were a couple cute kids.

And check out how cool my parents were... this is why Brad and I were so cute. So much about this picture makes me laugh (in a good way, of course). Good times indeed!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

This guy votes...

One of my new favorite sites on the world wide web is Some of the pictures on there are probably doctored in some way, This one, however, appears to be all too legit...

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Power of Advertising

I feel like a tool... I bought the LG Shine phone. You know, the one that Brody and Lauren from The Hills advertise. I feel like a tool because I like to think I am above the power of advertising - especially advertising that involves characters from a show like The Hills. But clearly I am not. I will say that the phone is pretty sweet. I will also say that I had no idea who Brody and Lauren are until after I decided to buy the phone. I just thought they were a random commercial actor and actress. I had no idea they were part of one of the most rediculous "reality" shows on tv. In any event, I am now well equipped to check out hot girls as they walk past me while sitting outside with my equally hot girlfriend while she applies lip gloss. My life is complete.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Singing At Work

Whenever I have a song stuck in my head (which is most of the time), I can often be heard singing said song out loud. The bad thing is that I have been told by more than one person that I "shouldn't quit my day job" or "American Idol is safe" or insert your own critical comment about someone's less than stellar singing voice. Oh well... an accountant can't be fired for having bad pitch, right?

For the record, today's song is from the new Coldplay album. I am not sure what the name of the song is, but this one line is stuck in my head. I am not even sure if the lyrics I am singing are right...
Oh well... an accountant can't be fired for singing the wrong lyrics, right?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Odd Things Seen in Bathrooms

I am sure we all have stories that could be filed under the title of this post. But I want to share with you one of the oddest things I have seen in a bathroom in a long time. Food crumbs. Yep... someone was eating while on the porcelain throne. I know this because the crumbs were on the floor in one of the stalls. Now this is bad enough in and of itself, but keep in mind that this is the bathroom here at work. Clean as it may be, it is not suitable for luncheons and dinner parties.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Because people are sick of reading about Londontown...

Yeah... I am back. A friend of mine who does not typically read my blog was reading it the other day when I called her, and she was a little annoyed that I didn't have any fresh content. So here goes.

First, price elasticity. In one of my college economics classes, I learned about price elasticity. It is the basis for things being priced at $6.99 instead of $7.00. For some reason, seeing a 6 instead of a 7 makes it easier to buy a given product. I balked at the concept because I am so much smarter and more sophisticated than to be lured into a purchase that way. But I tell you what, if gas is selling for $3.93, I am not nearly as upset as when it is selling for $4.01. I can't believe I am happy for $3.93 gas. This is the world we live in.

Second, surprise birthday gifts. I just received a phone call from our mailroom informing me that I had flowers to pick up. Flowers? Really? I was shocked. First because flowers are not a normal gift for men to receive. Second, who would send me anything of the sort? I am not dating anyone... I have not been on a date in a long time (like over a year)... so who would see fit to send me flowers? Turns out, it is a plant... and it is from my parents. It is partially for my birthday, and partially because I have a new office with a window. It was a nice surprise, actually.

So there you have it - two random Toddatello stories in one day.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Baxter... I will take you down to foggy Londontown.

I am in London. I have been here for a little over three days. Well, actually I am in Wimbeldon because that is where my friend Dovie lives. Another dear friend of mine (who never reads my blog and I am fine with this fact), Catha, is also here. Furthermore, the legendary Jason Bailey joined in on the fun. He is now gone, but Dovie, Catha, and I are just chillin' on this lovely Sunday morning (which is actually closer to Sunday noon).

Anyway, we have had a right jolly good time so far. As soon as I arrived, Jason, Catha, and I went to see the famed Wimbeldon tennis courts. We went to the museum... and because we were with Bailey, we ended up going for free. Things like that just happen with him. When I used to live in England, I loved watching the Wimbeldon tournament on TV, so going there was definitely a good way to kick off the trip.

That night we went to the Absolute Ice Bar. (Renee - you would love this place). It is a bar where everything is made of ice - even the glasses. They give you a poncho to wear during your 50 minute stay... and the price of admission includes a drink. Good times, indeed! Following the Ice Bar, we had a delicious dinner... then we topped the night off with a visit to a pub.

The highlight of the trip so far has been our visit to see some of Dovie's friends who live in Brighton (which is right on the southern coast). Meeting and visiting with this couple was such a blessing. They truly just love life... and Jesus. They opened up their home to us... cooked for us... and cracked us up with stories and whatnot. Great times.

OK... this post is far too long already. Stay tuned for part two. Of course, at my current posting rate, that may not turn up until mid-fall.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Because People Like to Say Salsa

On Sunday, I cleaned out the fridge in my apartment. Since I have been in Canada for the past 7 months, it has accumulated various items that should have been discarded long ago. My roommate has known this, but (understandably) it is has just been easier to ignore the issue. I could not ignore it, however, because I was used to a very lean and clean fridge in Calgary.

During the cleansing process, I discovered that we have 8 jars of salsa in our fridge. Eight jars. EIGHT! I mean that is just crazy. The cause of this phenomenon is multiple parties/gatherings that have been held in our apartment over the past 6-9 months. Being that we live in Texas and that my roommate has started a ministry that is connected to a country in central America... these gatherings tend to involve Tex Mex fare. Hence... salsa galore.

And to be fair, we have mild, medium, and hot... green and red... as well as a variety of brands. So if you are in need of salsa, stop by and I can hook you up.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I'm Applying to the Food Network

I made dinner for myself last night, and then brought the left overs for lunch today. The meal consists of pot-stickers and fried rice with mushrooms, shrimp, and imitation crab meat. I heated the food up on a plate and brought it to my office. Upon my arrival in my office that I share with two other people, I was asked where I went to get my lunch.

So clearly, my food LOOKS professionally made... and that is all you need for TV, right?

Iron Chef, here I come...

Monday, May 05, 2008

Weekend Update...

This was my last weekend in Calgary. I will still be here for two more weeks, but I will not be here on the weekends anymore (unless I foot the bill). This post will be longer than most as I have a lot to cover...

I spent Friday evening at my Calgary Sendoff party - thrown by some wonderful ladies I have met during my time up here. One of them gave me the nickname Texas Todd, and they all enjoyed the fact that someone else gave me the nickname Louisiana Heat. So as a going away gift, they gave me a shirt that has Texas Todd on the front and Louisiana Heat on the back. There is also a large Canadian flag on the back. Good times. There was a lot of discussion about how big the shirt was, and they thought I would be offended by that. But then it fit me quite well... but it is a LARGE shirt. So I am not sure what that says about me. But stories were told (one involved a zombie on a toilet and another involved mutated jelly fish killing Seatle) and good times were had.

On Saturday, I took off to Banff for a hike. I hiked Johnston's Canyon while listening to worship music. There were a few times when I could be heard singing... and seen raising my hands. It was a great time for me. The hike lasted two hours, but I pray that some of the moments will last in my memory for years to come.

Then I headed into town for lunch. I decided to just pick a place and hope it was good. I picked a winner. Cafe Soleil satisfied me in every way that food can. I kept commenting to the waiter how good everything was. When I sat down, I didn't intend to get dessert... but since the food was so good, I said why not? Man... the dessert was as good if not better than the meal. I highly recommend this place. I am still happy about it.

That night, I went to a birthday party at a Mexican restaurant. I had heard that there was no good Mexican food to be had in Calgary, but this was good stuff. The margarita left a lot to be desired, but the food was very authentic... more Mexican than TexMex. But the best part of the night was the salsa lessons (because people like to say salsa). I learned Cuban style salsa... and had a blast.

Sunday morning I was an hour late for church (totally confused the time). I missed the singing portion, but heard the sermon... and it was solid.

So all in all, not a bad way to spend my last weekend in Calgary.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Monday, April 28, 2008

Location, location, location...

The following words were just said in my presence in mixed company in my office...


The person who can guess what was being discussed wins a prize.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Airports & Imaginations

On Saturday, I arrived at the airport at 1:30 to pick up my friends who were supposed land around 1:45. Well, when I got there, I saw this young dude holding a huge bouquet of flowers. He was looking anxiously at the door where passengers from all US flights must pass through. I was intrigued by this because he clearly was expecting someone special.

He realized that the object of his affection was not arriving as soon as he expected, so he took a seat in some chairs that faced the above mentioned passages way. My intrigue continued to grow. At one point, I could see a huge smile on his face... but he was trying to be cool about it. Someone commented on his flowers, and he fought hard not to show how excited he was.

So I sat waiting... for my friends, of course... but also for this couple to be united. I had the whole scenario planned out in my head. I even texted a friend of mine who I knew would appreciate the story. She informed me that we were both weird for being so interested... and I agreed. But it was just so much fun for me.

Alas, the love of this guy's life arrived after I had already left... so I am not sure if her enthusiasm was a great as his. But the friend I texted is convinced that he proposed there in the airport... and they will live happily ever after. I like this ending, actually... so we will go with it.

And as promised, here are some pics from the weekend. If I had a camera, I would have taken a picture of flower dude... but again, I don't own one. (hint, hint)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Weekend Update...

This weekend, my college roommate and his lovely wife came up for a visit. The weekend could not really have gone any better than it did …except for the overwhelming tea house we popped into on Sunday night. I thought Teresa’s head was going to explode as she considered the 50+ tea varieties available to her. It was a bit on the stressful side, for sure. We ended up walking out of the place with a peanut butter cookie for Philip instead.

But we did have a great day on the slopes. We went to Sunshine Village because it is known for still having great snow even this late in the season. When we arrived, it was pretty icy, but as the sun did its work… the snow softened up and by the end of the day, we had some great skiing conditions to work with. The wind, however, was relentless. There was a moment when I just had to sit down because the wind was about to blow me over. Phil and I considered taking the final lift up to the very top… but we reconsidered it as the wind picked up. We both agreed that such a final run would not be as fun as we would like.

We ended the trip at Diner Deluxe. I was worried I had oversold the place to them… but judging by their reactions, it was a hit. Phil had banana stuffed chocolate French toast. Come on, right? It tasted even better than it sounds.

Old friends really are the best. I have known Philip for about 12 years, and anytime we get together, things just flow. And as I said to someone else… old friends who bring with them new friends (like spouses) are even better.

Stay tuned as I hope to put some pics up from the weekend. Since I don’t have a camera, I will have to steal the pics from their blog.

(So if anyone feels sorry for me for not having a camera… my birthday is in July.)

Friday, April 11, 2008

It has been one of those days...

... when I just want to sit in a comfortable chair with a cup of coffee and my Bible and let the Lord minister to me through His Word. But instead, I have been putting out fires all day here at work (some of which were started by me).

Thanks Adam and Eve.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow... or make it stop.

It is snowing like crazy this morning...

My first thought when I walked out of my bedroom into the living room was, "you've got to be kidding me." I was totally not expecting it because I barely needed a jacket last night when I walked home.

My next thought was how pretty the snow is. I have said it before, but it is still true... snow is just a cool thing. I thought I was over it, but really I am not. I did, however, quickly make the decision to walk to work in the +15 - not because of the temperature... but simply because I didn't want to be covered in snow. Even in the two blocks from my apartment to the closest +15 entrance, I had more snow on me than I wanted.

A woman I work with lives about 45 minutes away from the office… it took her 2.5 hours to get to work. Wow! And keep in mind, it is April 10th.

I thought the snow was done, but clearly my Texas thinking was flawed on that matter.

Monday, April 07, 2008

What a game...

I made it home just as I expected - with moments to spare before the game started. And what a great game it was. The spread never exceeded 10 points. It was tight from beginning to end... Chalmers' shot to tie it up... overtime... Kansas taking the win. All around, a good time.

I wonder if the Defense Lady was at the game. Perhaps she should have yelled a bit louder this time. In any event, I am sure she was very proud of her Tigers - as well she should be.

Until next March 2009...

A Watched Clock...

I am running a report that I have to send to our Houston office before I leave tonight. At the same time, I am anxiously awaiting the NCAA final game between Kansas and Memphis. The report is almost done... but then I have a solid 10 minute walk home. So what should put me on my couch just moments before tip off.

Ah... the report is on its last phase. The screen is jumping around just slightly - my clue that it is almost done.

Sports are not a huge deal for me... but for some reason, I really enjoy watching the Tournament. So I have cut a few corners here at work (none that amount to anything, really) to get finished tonight. Oh... I think the report is done.

See y'all...


Sunday, April 06, 2008

Out and About

My camera phone dose not take great pictures, but I used it recently to capture the following images.

This one is from a gas pump at a gas station in my home town:

I am so glad they clarified what prepay means. I would have been completely lost and unable to fill up my car other wise... As one of my friends said when I sent him this picture - I don't know if these people should have access to flammable liquids.

This one... well, I just have to ask why? Why? What possible reason would someone have for doing this to any vehicle?

Saturday, April 05, 2008

The Power of Advertising

I have no idea if Mr. Sub makes tasty sandwiches or not, but I sure want to try one. These two commercials cracked me up...

Friday, April 04, 2008

In the vernacular...

Which of the following sentences rolls off the tongue easier?

"We will use y'alls numbers in our calculation."

"We will use your guys's numbers in our calculation."


It depends on the address of the house you grew up in, I guess.

As you can imagine, this southern boy get no small amount of flack for my constant use of the work y'all. But I have noticed that the Canucks sound just as strange to me when they say "your guys's." So in the end, I guess we're even.

[But be honest... "y'all" just works better]

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

April Fool Feedback

In addition to the comments noted on the actual entry... here are some responses I received when I came clean about the "non job" in Calgary (some are a bit vulgar):

"Dick! Hahaha, that was a good one."


"I even cried."

"[I'm surprised] that someone I thought I knew is actually missing a heart."

"That's genius."

So all in all, it was a good time for me... but some people didn't enjoy it so much. I feel bad for making the one person cry... and an apology has been given.

If I ever doubt that I am missed by my Houston peeps - I just have to look back on this one blog entry for a reminder. That, of course, was not my goal... but it was a nice surprise. I can't wait to be back for good... and that is no joke.

(yes, I do realize how cheesy that last line is... but I couldn't resist)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Huge (unexpected) News

I have kept this under my hat for the past two weeks because I didn't want to be influenced by anyone's input on the matter. But it is official... so I decided this was the best place to let the cat out of the bag.

I have just accepted a full time position here in Calgary - effective July 1. The position comes with a handsome raise, so I felt like it was too good to pass up. I will be taking on more of a supervisor role, so it is also a great career move.

I will be back in Houston May 16 through June to get things sorted out. It may seem like a fast decision, but it is something I have been praying about for the past month, and actively considering for the past two weeks (since the offer was made to me).

When I moved up here in October, I had no intentions of moving here permanently. God really has a sense of humor sometimes.

Cheers, eh?

Monday, March 31, 2008

Full Disclosure

We will all agree that the fashion rules for men are a lot less stringent than those that apply to women. We have fewer items to coordinate... we can mix or match items with more ease... etc, etc. But there are a few easy rules that do apply to us that I try to hold to. They are as follows:

1. When wearing slacks, a belt is not just a functional item... and therefore, it is not optional. This rule is basically true whenever you tuck your shirt in. Wear a belt.

2. Said belt should be the same color (or at least in the same family of colors) as your shoes.

3. Socks should match your pants - not your shoes. And they certainly should not be a different color from both the pants and the shoes.

Like I said, I try to hold to these general rules at all times. But today, I somehow left my apartment in violation of rule #1. Fortunately, I am wearing a sweater... so my fashion faux pas is well concealed. But I know... and sometimes that is just worse. Kinda like when you "get away" with a lie as a kid, but your parents know the truth. They let you stew in your web of lies until it eats you up so much that you just have to confess. This blog post is just such a confession.

And Happy Opening Day to all you baseball fans.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Unfreaking Believable

I am so annoyed with living in Canada at the moment. Davidson just lost to Kansas, and I missed the final shot because the network I am forced to watch the game on took a commercial break during the last 16 seconds of the game. Who does that? I can't believe it. I would like to blame it on Canada... but the station is broadcast out of Spokane Washington. Who takes a commercial break with 16 seconds left in a two point game?!?!?!?! I can't wait to get back to Texas where such lunacy would never happen.

OK... I'm done. Carry on.

But really... 16 seconds? Commercial break? WOW!!!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Solo Ski Trip - #2

I went for another day of skiing again today - this time I hit Lake Louise. I liked it for the most part, but the conditions were poor. It snowed the whole time I was there (actually stopped at 4:00 as I was taking my last run of the day). The powder was pretty good as a result, but the visibility was horrible - and that brought out the apprehensive/timid skier in me. I stuck to blues, and only attempted one black run. That black run saw me sliding down the hill unable to stop. Not cool. Part of the reason for the uncontrolable sliding was the icy conditions (which I found out is because the base at Lake Louise is man-made snow). Anyway, I think I prefer Sunshine... so that will be the venue for Solo Ski Trip #3 (if there is one). I did find another good run with nice moguls... and I did it a number of times. The last time, I actually said (quite loudly, actually) "Why do I keep doing this run?" It was a beast... but I kinda enjoyed it.

I did have an interesting moment while driving back to Calgary. There is a stretch of the road that runs very close to a huge mountain. I mean the mountains are all around you as you drive (and, of course, they are all huge)... but this one in particular is REALLY close to the road - so its size appears even bigger. I get nervous every time I drive by it, and I realized why today. It is because the mountain is so much bigger than I am. That sounds stupid, but that is exactly what it is. I realized that I don't always have that kind of reverence for God, though. I mean the mountain can't do anything to me... but God can take me out in an instant. So while I am not advocating that Christians go though life scared of God... I was just reminded today that I do not always have the healthy fear of Him that I should. I mean I am not really scared of the mountain either... but I am very careful when I drive by it. In the same way, I should care more about how I live my life since God has called me to be perfect as He is perfect. Fortunately, He desires that kind of holiness in my more than I do... so He is actively working to bring it about. Speaking to me through His creation is just one way that He does that.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Is That Toilet Paper in the Sky?

Last Saturday night, I saw something I thought I would only see in pictures. I was out with a couple friends at a house party, and on the way home one of them said she saw the Northern Lights off in the distance. I was ecstatic because this is truly one of those things that Texans and Louisianians rarely (if ever) get to see. So the other friend drove to a place where we could see God show off a bit.

While the show was not as dramatic as you may see in movies or pictures, it was definitely a treat. There was one spot that was really bright, and the rest of it just danced around a little.

I enjoyed it for obvious reasons, but it also reminded me of something my brother and I used to do when we were kids. My mom always bought Northern toilet paper, and my brother and I used to throw the rolls around the house calling it the Northern Lights. Now we didn't do this all the time, but I think we did it more than once. In any event, it is a memory I have that just makes me laugh... and it made me smile last weekend as well.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Guest Blog - The Traveler

Top 10 Etiquette Rules of Flying by The Traveler

So based on my comment to a blog regarding the bush league practice of requesting to swap higher quality airline seats for lower quality seats, it was asked of me “Hey Traveler, you should totally write a guest blog on this matter”. Ok, he didn’t say it like a 16 year old girl, but it sounded funnier and hey I got to make the whole “16 year old girl” joke. On to the rules!

Now these are in order of boarding to deplaning and not necessarily importance.

10. Pre-boarding: Look at the little card in your hand and use common sense. If it says Group 3, you do not board first. First Class always boards first, then Status members, then everyone else. If you are on an Embraer where everyone is First Class and there are three groups to board starting from Group 3, YOU STILL DON’T BOARD FIRST! The people who fly week in and week out board first and then Group 3 boards and 2 and so on. This has two parts:

A. Don’t try and sneak on to get your luggage on board. This is very poor form.
B. Don’t stand at the entrance to the boarding line like they may magically call group 4 before they call group 6 or 1 (or First Class or Status). All you are doing is blocking the way and angering people. This, by the way, should be punishable by a public slapping.

9. When you get on the plane, stick your roll-aboard in the over head compartment and move in to the aisle to take off any extraneous garment you don’t want on your person during the flight. This is not Paris, Milan, L.A. or New York. This is not your personal runway. Other people are trying to board and you essentially are holding up the process of taking off.

8. Luggage stowage: If you have two items. One goes under your seat. If you have a small item only, THIS STILL goes under your seat. Taking up precious overhead space is bush league. If you are sitting in Row 28, your luggage is not that heavy. You have lugged it around all day and another 50 feet will not kill you. DO NOT put your luggage in the bin above aisle 10 or so help me… All this does is slow the boarding process because the people in Aisle 10 have to find a place for their belongings and inevitably it will slow the deplaning process.

7. Sit in your assigned seat. Again look at that little card in your hand and do the math. Oh and don’t try and sit in the exit row seats (the poor man’s First Class) and think the frequent flyer who got that seat will just see you and say “Oh I better find another seat”.

6. Flight Attendants: Be nice to these people. Do not refer to them as stewardesses. This is not 1950. These people are there to ensure your safety (As much as anyone outside of the cockpit can). They are not there to wait on you hand and foot. If you are rude to them then that puts them in a foul mood and the rest have to suffer. Oh and don’t be surprised if you get a sneezer.

5. Seat positioning: If you have the bladder of a new born puppy, don’t choose the window seat. In fact don’t choose the middle seat unless you can not help it. If you are not able to help it you are to be on a liquid fast 3 hours prior to take off and during the entire flight. Because the first time you get up to go to the bathroom people will understand. The third or fourth time, you may get lynched.

4. Swapping seats: Don’t ask to do this unless the swap is equitable. (See my Comment on Airline Etiquette Lesson #1). If you are traveling for pleasure and you book far enough in advance you should be able to sit next to your companion. Go online to the airline’s website and make this happen. I know you can do it! If the airline screws up and moves you to another flight then my apologies but don’t make me suffer for their mistake. If you book a Super Saver seat and end up having to take the left-over seats then that is your bad.

3. Leaning back: Don’t lean back if you don’t plan on sleeping. I and many others on the plane are trying to work. We have laptops and it is very difficult to work with our laptop screen in our Adam’s apple. I don’t mind if you are sleeping but don’t sit there and have a conversation with another person reclined like you are in a Laz-y-boy at your house.

2. I don’t want to talk to you: Nobody wants to talk to you. Question: Do I come to your car and sit there and talk to you while you are going to work? That is exactly what we are doing. There is a 90% chance that if you see someone in a suit or dress slacks and shirt on Monday morning, the same attire on Thursday evening, or wearing jeans and a haggard look then there is a good chance that person is going to or returning from work. I may chit chat with you. You know, “price of tea in China” type conversation. This is mere politeness. It is not an invitation to yap for the next three and a half hours.

1. Deplaning: Ok here are the rules. They are simple. Do not chit chat. Each row on the plane leaves. If you have issues getting your roll-aboard down move inside and struggle there. Let the other people off the plane. I am finally getting home and don’t want to have to sit there and listen to your conversation or determine that you need to hit the gym. Do not try to get your briefcase to connect to your roll-a-board before getting off the jet-way and clear of the entrance. This is still blocking everyone and you are not nimble enough to maneuver your luggage as so. This is the airplane equivalent to rubber-necking in traffic and it angers others.

So you ask what give The Traveler the right to make these bold statements. Last week, I was in another city and The Airline calls me. “Mr. The Traveler, we noticed that you did not fly with us during the month of December and we wanted to check in and make sure everything was ok, and that there was nothing we did to discourage you from flying with us.” To which I responded that everything was fine and that I had a slow month. I also find it ironic that they were calling me in March about December when I had flown 20 times or so since then. Oh well just goes to show how “important” I am.

The Travler

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Indian Food & Other Heated Things

It has finally happened... I have had Indian food that I liked. I mean I have been to India, and I didn't like the food. But last night (after a few hours of drinks), the group I was with suggested going out for Indian food. I said I would go and break nan with them... but I would not likely eat since I don't care for Indian food. Well, I was wrong. Everything I tasted was filled with flavor. I still don't like the textures involved in most Indian dishes, but the flavors were nice. This is a huge thing for me because I like pretty much any type of food in the world. But Indian food has always been like pimento cheese for me - just can't make myself like it.

I also learned that chutney is originally from India. I have always thought is was a British thing. The Canadians love to point out my ignorance on things.

Along those lines, get the Canadians going on the US political race... throw in the fact that I am a Christian... and you have quite the makings of heated discussion. One of the girls in the group last night stopped the conversation because she said it was unfair for me. I appreciated this, but also stated that I can take it. It is so funny how perceptions can be so different depending on where you live. In any event, I enjoy sparring with people even when I am in the minority.

The Calgary Chronicles continue....

Friday, March 07, 2008

I gotta say it was a good day...

No, I am not going to launch into a tribute to Ice Cube.

I have been having a great iPod shuffle day.

As you were.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

A New Snack

In my efforts to eat healthier (and in smaller portions throughout the day), I bought some apple sauce. Generally speaking, I do not like apple sauce. The flavor is just not good enough to overcome the strange texture. But they are making huge strides in the world of apple sauce. You can get it with strawberries, kiwi, and my current favorite - peach/mango. Of course, I feel like I am about 1 year old eating it... and the fact that the spoon is extra small is not helping.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Single Isn't So Bad

Two weeks ago, I decided to finally make my way over to Banff to go skiing. I have lived here for 4 months, and this was my first time to hit the slopes. A buddy of mine who lives in Houston has already gone three times this year. What is wrong with this picture? Quite a lot, actually.

Anyway, I went skiing alone... and this was a bit nerve racking for me. I wasn't sure if I would enjoy skiing as much if it was not part of a vacation with friends. Fortunately, I was wrong. I totally enjoyed it.

During the first half of the day, I skied with my iPod playing. I selected some songs that would go nicely with being out in some of God's most beautiful creation. So the first half of the day was truly more of a worship time for me. The weather was fantastic... the skiing was great... all of this made for a nice morning.

After lunch (as sandwich and chips that cost me almost $15), I decided to go into mogul mode. I had seen a run earlier in the day that had some nice bumps on it, but was not too steep. My goal for the afternoon was to negotiate that stretch of moguls over and over until I could do it without falling. I met my goal... but it took me many tries. But to make the story even better... it is listed as a black run. I felt like I had arrived. But truly, it was more of a blue-black.

Side note here. I had skied a run earlier in the day with large moguls, and it wore me out. When I saw it from the lift later in the day, my only thought was "I don't like that run." This was funny to me (and me alone, I'm sure) because it reminded me of my nephew. When a character comes on the screen of during one of his cartoons, he always says (very emphatically, actually), "I don't like that man." So I felt a strange connection to the little guy as I saw the brutal moguls - even though I was hundreds of feet away from them.

The best thing about skiing alone is the "singles only" lines at the ski lift. For once, I was happy to be counted as a "single." I rarely (if ever) had to wait in the lift line. There was always a group of two or three who needed a tag-along. I was happy to be that tag-along.

So solo skiing isn't so bad. Now I don't think I would be willing to fly to Colorado or Utah from Houston to do it alone... but given my current proximity to the slopes, I plan to do it again (maybe even this weekend).

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Great Lyrics

Most of Jack Johnson's songs sound very familiar. But I really like this one... specifically the lines in italics. Such great thoughts...

"What You Thought You Need"

I can't give you everything you want
But I could give you what you thought you need.

A map to keep beneath your seat,
you've been to me in time I'll get you there.

I fold it up so we don't find our way back soon,
nobody knows we are here.

We can park the van and walk to town
Find cheapest bottle of wine that we could find

And talk about the road behind
how getting lost is not a waste of time.

The water moor will take us home in the moment
we will sing as the forest sleeps.

Well it's all for the sake of arriving with you
Well it's all .. for the sake of arriving with you

Well, I will make the table into a bed
The candle is burning down its time to rest.

I can't take back things already gone,
but I could give you promises for keeps.

And I would only take them back
if they become your own and you give 'em to me .

And it's all for the sake of arriving with you.
Well it's all for the sake of arriving with you.

We could make this into anything
We could make this into more than words we speak.

This could make us into anything
It could make us grow and become what we'll be.

Mmmmmm ..
How and we really know
It's just like it feels.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Lost in Translation

Last night I was hanging out with some guys watching hockey (that is pretty much the only sport the Canadians care aboot).

Anyway, somehow we got on the topic of real estate. I asked if the Calgary market had started to decline (because it has been on such an upward trend for the past couple years). That then led to them asking me how much a typical house would cost in Houston...

What I said: "It depends on where you are."

What was heard: "It depends on where y'ar."

One of them stopped me and repeated what I said back to me... and I just stopped an laughed. I had no idea I sounded like that.

I have been told by some that I don't have a Texas accent... and then I have been told by others that I do (especially when I say my vowels). I prefer to have one, actually. So last night was good.

On another note, I am over the snow. It is great as long as it stays frozen (and white) on the ground. But when it melts and mixes with the mud, my walk into work becomes an obstacle course. Not only do I have to worry about the possiblity of slipping because my shoes have no tread, but cars drive by and spray the slushy mud mixture on my pants from time to time. OK, so that only happened one time and it was not that bad. But once really is plenty.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A Force To Be Reckoned With

Yesterday I bougth some Jell-O at the grocery store. Yes, I am a 31 year-old man who willingly chooses to buy, make, and eat Jell-O.

Anyway, I looked at the instructions on the packages to make sure I used the right proportions of hot water and cold water. The instructions end with the following admonishment:

Do not add fresh pineapple or kiwi fruit. Jelly will not set.

Who knew that pineapple and kiwi wielded so much power in the gelatin world? Oranges don't have near this level of influence...

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Airline Etiquette Lesson #1

With the advent of the on-line check in option provided by most airlines, passengers are afforded certain privileges and rights regarding their seat choices. As many of you are probably aware, Continental allows passengers to check in for their flight at least 24 hours in advance. At such time of check in, you are allowed to choose your seat from any of the available empty seats on the plane. So this means that if you are forced to choose a middle seat when you purchase your ticket, you have a slim chance of getting one of the coveted aisle or window seats at the time of check in. Of course, there are no guarantees of this, but there is a chance.

I always choose an aisle seat first... then a window seat... then (and only when it is absolutely unavoidable) will I choose a middle seat. I would rather sit in the bathroom than in a middle seat - but that is just weird, so I never do that.

Last week, I boarded my plane and took up residence in my 7th row aisle seat. This is a premium coach seat because it is at the front of the plane AND on the aisle. It really is a rare occasion that I get such luxury in coach.

Well, a kind lady and her husband boarded the plane some time after I had settled in to my seat. The wife had the middle seat next to me, and her husband purchased the middle seat in front of her. Surely they did this because there were not other seats available. My heart goes out to them... really. But the wife (not the husband, mind you) asks me if I would mind switching seats with her husband. Take a minute to let that request set in in light of all I have stated above.

What could I possibly do? You can't say no to such a request. But everything in me wanted to explain to them the process and the fact that I am 6'2"... and I do not have a swimmer's build. Middle seats are miserable for a guy like me. But I made the switch.

It is one thing to ask someone to move from one aisle seat to another... but to cross the line from aisle to middle is just too much. That is my airline etiquette lesson for you all.

Oh... and have a happy Mardi Gras and Super Tuesday.


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Election Mania

I am not looking forward to the next few months. I am so over the mud slinging and cat fighting and he said/she said garbage. I watched the Republican debate tonight, and Sen. McCain just kept saying the same things over and over again. No matter what the question was, he found a way to bring up "timetables" in an effort to discredit Romney. Now I am not a Romney supporter, but I feel like I am less of a McCain supporter after watching him tonight. The whole thing kinda makes me tired. I know I need to vote, but I just have no idea who is worth voting for. Besides, the Democrats are going to win... so my vote will probably be wasted anyway.

(how's that for a cynical view?)

Monday, January 28, 2008

It has finally arrived...

I have been hearing stories about temperatures as cold as -40... and I was starting to think it was all a lie to scare the Louisiana Heat out of Texas Todd. Well... we are there. We are not quite at -40 in the pure sense, but we are there if you factor in the wind chill. I think the high tomorrow is -26 C (-15 F). So it is cold. Just walking from the street to the door of my building (like across the sidewalk) was enough time for my nose to freeze a little. It's true.

Early reports are that it will "warm up" by Thursday to a refreshing -10 C (14 F). Nice huh?

But I still say I prefer this weather to the heat. I will check back in on Friday and let you know if I still feel that way...

Friday, January 25, 2008

You put WHAT in the cake?

I just learned first hand that Canadian French culture and Cajun French culture are worlds apart.

One of my co-workers told me that there was a cake in the break room. So I made way over to check out what kind of cake was available. To my surprise, it was a King Cake - one of my favorite desserts of all time. I cut a slice and went to tell my co-worker that this was not just a cake, but it was a King Cake.

I then started explaining the traditions surrounding King Cakes. I told her that it symbolizes finding the Baby Jesus... and that you put a baby in the cake. It was at this point that things took a turn. Her face was full of shock. I went on to tell her that they used to bake the cake with the baby inside it... she had had enough at this point. She exclaimed, "A real baby?!?!"

I quickly explained that it was a porcelain baby... and then I was able to finish my story. We had quite a laugh over that. I guess she thought the tradition was started by Sweeny Todd and Mrs. Lovett.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

No really... what's in a name?

I have been given many nicknames over the course of my 31 years. I think I may have even blogged about them early in my blogging days.

Well, this past weekend I was given yet another one.

I went out for drinks with some people from work, and one of the people happened to be a single girl who used to work for the company I now work for. So my boss up here knows her pretty well... and has a good rapport with her. Oh, and she happened to be the only female at the table.

My boss commences to try to set us up right there at the table... "she's single, you're single..." It was at this point that he referred to me as Louisiana Heat. I was actually speechless....

Saturday, January 19, 2008

I know what a reservation is....

'No, I don't think you do."

This very scene from Seinfeld actually happened to me this morning. To the dismay of at least one person, I can't say that I reenacted the dialogue; I was just too frustrated to find humor in it at the time.

Last night, I reserved a car for this weekend. I booked it for 9:00 am because I had plans to meet someone for breakfast at 9:30.

*Sidebar: We met at a place called Diner Deluxe, and I am not sure I have been to a place that serves better breakfast. Buffalo Grille in Houston comes close, but this place is at the top of my list.*

So I show up to Avis promptly at 9:00. The kind young lady behind the counter (with whom I have had other "service issues" in the past) proceeds to tell me that she does not have any cars to give me. Now I walked right by the holding lot, and saw plenty of cars; but none of them were compacts (which is what I had reserved). Rather than give me a free upgrade, she tells me that I have to go to another location to pick up my car. So she gets one of the guys from the back to drive me to this other location. He does not speak English very well, so I was not sure where I would end up. It seemed like a simple (albeit inconvenient) plan, but he just didn't seem to grasp what was happening.

In the end, I got my car and made it to breakfast by 10:00. This is why Seinfeld was such a great show. It captured moments like these and made them funny.

So now, I am sitting in my appartment watching the snow come down... it really is a nice site (especially from the comforts of my livingroom with the fireplace roaring). I am living the hard life for sure.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Fish out of water... but loving it

Around 4:30 yesterday afternoon, I was talking with a co-worker and noticed that it was snowing outside. I expressed some excitement/pleasure over this, and he basically said I was weird for liking the snow. I told him that for those of us who rarely see white stuff on the ground (that wasn't used as packaging), it is a bit glamorous. Of course, as one of my lurker friends said some weeks ago - it is just water on your shoes and windshield. That is true in the physics realm, but snow is just good times. I went for a run in it last night... and it was great. It is so much more enjoyable to run in sub-freezing temperatures with snow falling than in 95 degree heat with 100% humidity.

Of course, I got reflective as I watched the snow fall and stick on the ground. I likened it to God's Word in a round about way. Under the right conditions, snow sticks to whatever surface it fall on. Every once in long while, snow will fall in Houston. But it rarely sticks for any length of time. The reason - the ground is just not cold enough. It is not prepared to receive the snow. And it occured to me that our hearts are the same way with God's Word. We can read it every day, all day. But if He has not prepared our hearts for what His Word has to say - there will be no long term effects or changes.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

What's in a name...

Two posts in one day? Holy Free Time At Work, Batman... what's going on?

We have a consultant up here helping us find my replacement.

*This just in - I do not plan to be up here forever. *

Well, her name is Eva. I keep wanting to call her Eva Longoria.

No, guys, she doesn't look anything like her... otherwise, I might consider relocating.

I'm just sayin'...

When in Rome....

"Yes? Please continue...."

So this post really doesn't relate to the saying "when in Rome, do as the Romans do." But since it does relate to me not being in the USA, I wanted to title it that. And the reader who guesses the context of the quote above gets extra blog points.

Since I am working in another country during an election year, I am getting a lot of questions about our political process. The two questions of note so far are as follows:

1. What is going on with all these primaries and caucuses?
2. What does G.O.P. stand for?

My favorite response was the one I received to my answer to the second question. I told this guy at work that it stands for Grand Old Party (which I later found out is only partially true - it was believed to stand for that, but the original meaning was Gallant Old Party). Regardless, the guy was shocked. He thought it was something much more official - where the G stood for government or something like that.

I told him that all his questions are really testing my civic knowlege... and I like that. I also found myself saying that the primaries are part of what makes our political system so great in that they force the candidates to go to all the states - not just the most populated ones.