Asphincter Says What?

In school, I was no science prodigy. I was just OK at biology. And I made a barely passable effort in chemistry.

pfd.jpgBut physics- well, that was even worse. In a failing effort to teach me relativity theory equations, one of my physics professors (whom I had driven to his wits’ end) came up with a special physics problem just for me involving an X-Wing Fighter flying past the Death Star at the speed of light. He hoped that my dense brain would finally wrap itself around the problem if the challenge appealed to my geeky nature.

I still got a C+.

Knowing how to take a hint, I never considered a career as a physician.

I do, though, have the privilege of knowing many highly competent and talented doctors. Most of their days, it seems, are fairly uneventful. But on occasion, as in every workplace, embarrassing and humorous moments do occur.

But funny moments at hospitals are always much more funny than episodes elsewhere.

Because they usually involve someone’s sphincter.

Always Use The Right Tools for the Job
After performing many physical exams supervised by her teaching physicians, a new intern began giving patients physicals on her own.

After a few solo sessions, the teaching physicians were perplexed. About halfway through each session, they kept hearing a sharp grunt or a muffled cry emanating from behind the exam room door.

k_y.jpgAfter hearing this audible anomaly a few times, one of the more experienced doctors decides to sit in on the new intern’s next physical, in case she had overlooked a step.

You guessed it: She gloved up for the rectal exam like every good doctor should (*sss-nap!*). But she forgot to use lubricant to *ahem* ease the discomfort.

Improvised Explosive Device
A patient comes in, complaining of being constipated for several days. They give her some oral laxatives and send her home.

It doesn’t seem to help. She returns. Her abdomen, naturally, is in a lot of pain at this point.

They admit her to the hospital. The doctors consult with each other to resolve the obstruction. They put her in stirrups and give her suppositories. And more suppositories.

This continues for a quite a while. She’s backed up. She’s lying down, in stirrups. They keep giving her suppositories. Nothing’s happening.

Finally, after a few days of this, one of the nurses hears a bursting sound (*BOOM*!!!) coming from the room.

The dam had burst. Or rather, exploded.

There was poop everywhere.

The linens.

The bed.

The floor.

The wall facing the bed.

Inside the air conditioning vent.

The poor nurses were none too happy about clean-up detail. But the backed up lady sure was happy her problem had finally cleared up.

You Say Tomato, I Say Rectal Exam
A doctor is giving a physical.

The patient speaks only Spanish.

The doctor learned Spanish in school. So, in his effort to communicate effectively, he conducts the physical en Espanol.

Or so he thinks.

The first part of the physical goes smoothly. Then comes the rectal exam (told you- every funny story involves someone’s sphincter).

The doctor explains the rectal exam procedure to the patient (in Spanish, of course). That the patient would have to turn around, partially disrobe, and bend over the exam table. That the doctor would then insert his finger into the patient’s rectum to check for abnormalities.

The doctor then leaves the room to get some supplies.

Upon returning, the patient is standing there in his hospital gown.

Underwear off.

Bending backwards.

With his own finger up his ass.

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Water and Incense, Prayer and Belief

In Thailand, people call their capital city Krung Thep (pronounced “kroong tape”), meaning “City of Angels.”

Sixty years ago, Krung Thep, known in the West as Bangkok, did not in any way resemble the sprawling, noisy metropolis it is today. During that fabled time, Bangkok was a truly exotic city of the Orient.

canal.jpgIt was a different time, a different place. People lived their lives by the water, along a patchwork of klongs, or canals, stitched together like a moving, flowing tapestry. Teak houses perched on stilts lined the waterways. Wives did the household laundry on their dock steps, keeping a watchful eye as their children splashed and played. Merchants carrying food and goods paddled their flatbed canoes to and fro, occasionally stopping at a house to trade goods or gossip, oftentimes both.

arun.jpgEach morning the smell of burning incense wafted from house to house as people prayed to Buddha before starting their day. They prayed for guidance, forgiveness, comfort. Happiness. Hope. At daybreak, monks dressed in flowing orange robes silently glided from home to home, collecting humble offerings of food and other basic necessities for their sustenance. In that era, people donated their time and effort -not just their money- to build gilded temples. They had belief and faith in a Greater Power.

In one particular teakwood house, a young mother was in the throes of labor, the sounds of her struggle projecting through the wood shutters from her room overlooking the canal. Hearing and seeing the commotion, the neighbors walked and paddled over one by one to lend support. After many hours of labor, she finally gave birth to a beautiful boy with a full head of hair. He let out a cry signaling his first gasps of breath, bringing great joy and relief to his mother, family and neighbors. Congratulations and salutations floated along the canal, travelling the same path as early morning incense.

For a few months the mother cared for her child. She fed and bathed him. Could not remember what her life was like before he arrived. Every morning, she told her child stories about the world around him. Every evening she covered his crib in a mosquito net, leaving the bedroom shutters barely open so he wouldn’t catch cold from the water’s breeze. Several times a day, the young mother lit incense and said a silent prayer for her son. That he would have kwaam suuk, enlightenment and contentment, every day of his life.

Then suddenly, and quite unexpectedly, the baby fell ill and died. His mother clutched his lifeless body in her arms, refusing to let his spirit go. Tears streamed down her cheeks, her voice extinguished from endless sobbing, her hopes and dreams shattered.

Buddha.jpgFor days she knelt in front of the shrine ensconced on her porch. Neighbors looked on with concern as they sat on their porches along the water, knowing that there were no words to comfort her. She prayed to the golden statue of Buddha, alternately sobbing and whispering her sorrow and bottomless despair.

The day of her son’s funeral, she knelt again in front of her family shrine. She lit three sticks of incense and a candle, and made an offering of ripe tangerines. She made vows to Buddha: She promised to cease eating meat, to devote her life to doing good and building good karma. Praying in hushed tones, she asked that her son be brought back to her. She dabbed banana paste on her deceased son’s left foot, and tomato paste on his right foot. “Put these marks on him when he returns, so that I know it is him,” she pleaded.

After her special prayer, her sorrow did not fade. But at last she relented, allowing her family to take her son’s body to his funeral. She continued to weep. And pray. For many weeks thereafter.

About a year later, the bereaved mother’s younger sister gave birth to a son of her own. Upon inspecting this newborn child, the young mother whose baby had died a year earlier let out a shriek. On the newborn’s left foot was a big black birth mark, and on his right foot a big red one. Her prayers had been answered: This was her child, delivered back to her arms. She considered him the reincarnation of her deceased son, and for a full year she raised him and refused to let anybody else hold him. She only let him go when she finally realized the anguish she was causing her sister.

This is a true story. I have colored in some of the surrounding details, but these events did indeed occur. The baby’s (American) name is Sam. He is now in his sixties, and lives in Los Angeles with his wife and grown son. He is one of my parents’ oldest and closest friends.

I have seen the marks on his feet.

bkk.jpgWas what happened the result of mere coincidence, or the sign of a Higher Power at work? In our hurried, cynical world, it would be nice, if only briefly, to imagine life in a teakwood house along that canal. Where the travelling scent of burning incense from each home mingles in an unspoken communal blessing, and spirituality and holiness flow freely upon the water. Where a person can kneel beside the water and whisper a prayer, creating in that solemn moment a true hope that what you wish for may come true.

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List of Upcoming Posts

blogspot.jpgBlogs are so varied. Some blogs I’ve come across include carefully crafted original graphics and pictures, and are written in a very polished manner. Some are more conversational. Others are spazzy. And then there are the incomprehensible ones that look like the bloggers type with their toes while watching “Cops” and eating Chinese take-out.

wp.jpgI’m probably somewhere in the middle. I don’t know anything about the technical aspects of good writing, and I don’t have the design skills to achieve high production values. But, I do care about not having my posts look like I barfed them out and didn’t bother to clean them up. So I write several posts simultaneously, well in advance of publishing them. I then re-read, re-phrase, re-arrange, re-write, correct, edit, and proofread each of them over several days.

To shed some light on my modus operandi, I thought I’d give everyone a peek at the completed and semi-completed posts that are in queue to be published over the next few weeks:

  1. I Never Knew That Blogging Could Be So Fun
  2. My Obsessive-Compulsive Tendencies. Hardy Har Har
  3. 49 Great Blogs I’ve Recently Discovered
  4. I’m Watching Much Less TV These Days. How Cool is That?
  5. MyYahoo! Sucks for RSS Reading
  6. Hooray For Me! I Have Blog Friends!
  7. I Need an Intravenous Hookup So I Can Spend Less Time Eating and More Time Blogging
  8. : How Did I Ever Live Without It?
  9. Major Milestone : 500 Subscriptions in My Personal Blogroll
  10. My Boss Reprimanded Me for Falling Asleep at My Desk
  11. I Need to Spend Less Time on The Computer
  12. My Very Sweet Wife Got Very Angry With Me Today
  13. Advice Please : I’m Thinking of Quitting Blogging
  14. My First Bloggers Anonymous Meeting
  15. Boss-Man Meeting Part Deux. Prognosis: B-A-D
  16. Self-Affirmation : I’m A Good Person and I Have a Good Life
  17. Holding On As Best I Can (By the Skin of My Teeth)
  18. Open Letter To My Lovely Wife : I Love You More Than Blogging, Please Don’t Leave Me
  19. My New Mantra : The Internet Does Not Rule My Life
  20. Relapse : Time to Pause and Reflect
  21. I Give Up : Goodbye Cruel Worjbwtm n

[Hello everyone. This is Pat, Jack's wife. We had a bit of a scare there, but Jack is doing OK now.

shaver.jpgIn his despair and anxiety, he passed out and cracked his head on the keyboard while writing this post. When he came to, he tried to slit his wrists. Thankfully he was unable to find an actual razor blade and didn't get very far with his electric shaver.

coloncleaner.jpgHe also swallowed an entire bottle of pills. Luckily the only pills in our medicine cabinet were laxatives. It's causing unpleasant bouts of nitrogen-laden green diarrhea every half hour. So now some of his tighty whiteys are discarded stinky greeneys. But he'll live and that's what matters.

diet.jpgWe have him on an Alprazolam drip and a strict diet of 7-UP and Saltine crackers.

He is still recovering in bed, but asked me to publish this post so as not to disappoint his blogging friends.

Please feel free to comment. Jack will respond if his colon is feeling better. And if he is unable to, I will respond to comments on his behalf.

Now if you'll please excuse me- Jack and his colon are out of commission, so I gotta go find me another bitch to pimp.]

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Things That Are More Enjoyable Than SuckyBlog

shont.jpgThe other day, I emailed my friend Shont and said something like: “Hey! This blog thing is pretty fun! But, now that I have a few blog friends who read my posts, I feel some pressure to consistently write interesting things. It’s not as easy-going as when I first started blogging, when just friends and family would stop in to see how pathetic my Joke of the Week was.”

Shont fires back with: “The pressure of success.”


The number of blog friends I have is still smaller than my shoe size. So Shont, I’m afraid you will have to continue visiting SuckyBlog to help keep the readership hovering above zero.

But it did get me thinking. Maybe I was fishing for a compliment! My insecure, competitive, Type-A, unconscious psyche getting the best of me again! Dammit!

mattresstag.gifSo, time to put my bloated ego back in its place. (I suspect it usually resides in my ass, given the required cubic footage). To accomplish this, I have listed all the non calorie burning activities (for me, there is no other kind) that I would rather do than read SuckyBlog:

  1. Watch movies.
  2. Watch basketball.
  3. Read news magazines.
  4. Read books.
  5. Read blogs written by other people. Except for mommy blogs. OK I admit it- I usually get bored with some of the mommy blogs out there, except for the funny or raunchy ones. Because mommies shouldn’t be raunchy. But apparently all the ones who are like to blog.
  6. Read about strange things on Wikipedia, like the 7 forms of lightsaber combat.
  7. Defrag my hard drive, and watch the progress status bar. This process takes 47 minutes and 13 seconds. The progress bar moves 1.24 millimeters per minute on my 17-inch screen. I know this because I measured it with digital calipers. More fun than reading SuckyBlog.
  8. Read the back of my toothpaste label. “Squeeze and flatten on brush as you go up.” I’ve got this one burned into my cornea because I read it every single time I forget to bring a magazine to the can. And I hit the can at least twice a day. So that’s how you apply toothpaste. Good to know.
  9. Read my mattress tag. “DO NOT REMOVE UNDER PENALTY OF LAW”. *rip*. Please don’t arrest me. The voices in my head told me to do it. This is the only way I can make them stop.
  10. Pick my nose, and flatten the extracted manna-from-nostril between my thumb and index finger (the toothpaste instructions have trained me to flatten everything squishy). Then give myself a little Rorschach test by admiring my newly-formed Poodlebooger.

rorschach.gifWait a minute. I write SuckyBlog. I don’t read it also. That would be narcissistic, and I can’t afford for my ego (or my ass) to grow any bigger. So scratch everything I just said, go do a Rorschach boogerblot test, and tell me what you see.

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Anti-Fitness Diet

It’s incorrect to say that I’m not physically fit. That would imply the lack of fitness. I’m anti-fit. Meaning, the opposite of fitness (see rule 5 in Words to Live By).

spud_webb.jpgI did, though, join a fitness club because I like to swim and shoot basketball for fun, even though I suck at both (that’s me, Jack “Spuds” T, on the right). When I joined, they threw in five sessions with a personal trainer (I drove a hard bargain- the key to negotiating is to not care whether you get it or not, a feeling I surely projected after my initial tour of the facility when I said to the rep “Well, I really don’t care if I sign up or not.”).

Normally, I would not bother with such sessions. Working out is for good-looking people or people who are concerned about their health. I’m neither. I’m all about fun. I find hanging out at the gym working out to be about as fun as watching paint dry. But the only thing that supercedes my aversion to all things fitness-related is my cheapskate nature, so I relented.

My trainer’s name was Ray. Poor Ray.

First Session:
Ray: OK Jack. What are your goals for these sessions?
Jack: I dunno. They were free, and they expire soon. So here I am.
Ray: Well, do you want to get stronger? Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to increase performance at sports?
Jack: I don’t feel any need to be more muscular, skinny or athletic. I’m here because the sessions are free, and they expire soon.
Ray: OK that’s fine. We need a goal though. That’s how the program works. How about we shoot for a little weight loss. That’s generally a common goal.
Jack: Sure. Whatever.
Ray: OK. Good. First, I need you to fill out this questionnaire about your eating habits.

Ray puts in front of me an SAT-like test with four pages of questions in 6-point font asking asinine questions like, “When you eat, do you mostly prefer red meat?” (yes. DUH.). I scan it and see at the bottom a check box saying “I waive the food and nutrition portion of the fitness training program.” I immediately grab the pen, check off the box, and sign it.

gums.jpgRay: *sigh*. Jack, you know, the food component is very important to the weight loss goal. It’s like 60% diet / 40% exercise in terms of getting results.
Jack: [Thinking: Then why are you here then, Mr. Muscles? I don't see any degrees in nutrition management on your wall.] I don’t want to do the food thing. I like to eat good stuff. Also I hate vegetables. And I’m allergic to fruit. They make my inner ear and my right pinky toe itch. So I only eat meat and starch. Telling me to eat a lot of broccoli and no red meat is not an achievable goal. I’m all about achievable goals. I learned that while watching a Tony Robbins video. And while we’re at it, how come Tony has inhumanly big gums?
Ray: *sigh* Dude, what am I gonna do with you. OK, then just write down what you eat every day, and the time you eat it.

Second Session (1 week after First Session):
[Ray scans the list of things I ate for the week]
Ray: What time do you wake up every day?
Jack: 7am.
Ray: It looks here like you don’t eat breakfast, and your lunch is usually at 1pm.
Jack: Yes. I get carried away doing work in the morning.
Ray: OK. Well, be sure you eat a meal for breakfast. And eat smaller portions for each of your three meals. And eat a small snack, like a cup of yogurt or a health bar, in between each meal.
energybar.jpgJack: Like, the health bars you sell in that cabinet there?
[Thinking: The ones that look like dried feces squeezed out of someone's square anus hole? How convenient that they look the same going in as they do coming out. But when you find an unwrapped one lying around, how do you know whether to eat it or flush it? What do you call them, anyway? Mr. Shitbar? ShitKat? Shit Jerky? Shwitx? Three Shitkateers?]
Ray: Well, you can get other ones at the market, but yeah, we recommend our energy bars. So, I noticed you didn’t eat any vegetables all week.
Jack: Yes, I decided to forgo the vegetable portion of the food pyramid last week. And all prior weeks since my birth.

Third Session (1 week after Second Session):
dumbells.jpgRay: Let’s go work on some weights. [Hooks me up to some machine with weights.] Now do twenty reps and then pause.
Jack: One…. *grunt*…. Two….. *grunt*….. Three….. *grunt* *grunt*….. Five…..
Ray: Hey! No cheating on the count!
Jack: Why *grunt* do you care! *grunt* I’m only *grunt* cheating on myself! *grunt* No harm no foul! OK I’m tired. *Rubs sore shoulder* Where’s my water.
Ray: Hey! You can’t stop now! Twenty reps, remember? You only did six!
Jack: Ten, by my count, Ray.

Poor Ray, having to put up with me and my blase attitude towards fitness. I should send him a case of Mr. Shitbars. Or hire an Enron exec to teach him to count.

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Brilliculous Movie Ideas

arpiazure.jpgOne day a long, long, time ago in a town not so far, far, away, I was hanging out with my friend Shont and his sister Arpi. (Aside: These are real names, people. My buddy’s name is Shont and his sister’s name is Arpi. They are full-blooded Americans, born and raised in Los Angeles. I’m not making this up. If I were to make up strange non-American sounding names, they’d be called Neetork and Clutox.) Arpi’s friend Azure was also present. (Aside part deux: Azure. yet another uncommon name, but at least it’s an English word…derived from French. O brother. I mean, mon Dieu.)

pw.jpgArpi and Azure were going on and on about the movie “Pretty Woman”: Ohhhhh it’s the best movie ever. Ohhhhh Richard Gere is so handsome in it. Ohhhhh Julia Roberts is so perky! Ohhhhhh it’s so cute how they fall in love. Ohhhhh I really identify with that movie. Ohhhhh where’s the boom box- let’s all sway to a New Kids on the Block song, because that “Pretty Woman” movie is so romantic.

Shont starts to shake his head in his characteristic quirky, opinionated manner, and blurts out: “OK, you guys. Let’s take a step back. Think about it. This movie is about a mean rich guy. Who falls in love with a hooker. Plain and simple.”

Shont is right. It’s a movie about a guy who falls in love with a hooker. Yet we all fondly remember it through nostalgia-tinted lenses as one of the best romantic comedies ever. The movie that made Julia Roberts the top actress in Hollywood.

Let’s consider another one. One of my personal favorites (“Pretty Woman” was not one of my personal favorites).

ag.jpgOnce there was this director from Modesto, California. He had recently made a movie about teenagers in a small whitebread American town, cruising around on a weekend night. Starring Opie. Also in the cast were Shirley (Laverne’s best friend) and The Fugitive. (Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon in Reverse? Anyone?)

After the modest success of that movie, the director goes to the studio and tells them that, for his next movie, he wants to make a space opera. The studio execs show a puzzled look, and declare, “Why, that sounds intriguing, although we have no clue what a ‘space opera’ is, but we have to pretend we’re smart since we have corner offices. What is it about?”

“It’s an epic narrative set in outer space about a lost son who stumbles upon his destiny, a beautiful princess, and an old sage who guides them on their quest”, the filmmaker replies. “Oh! Why that sounds intriguing! As long as it comes within budget, of course,” say the execs.

In case you haven’t guessed by now, the director was George Lucas.

The movie, of course, was “Star Wars”.

Even without the benefit of hindsight, that one-sentence premise sounds great, doesn’t it? A classic myth with a science fiction backdrop. What’s not to like?

But just think about what happens next, after the money men begin digging into the script and the details. I can only imagine:

leialuke.jpgEncouraged by the positive initial reaction, the filmmaker continues: “Here’s my latest draft of the script. I’ll give you the highlights. It takes place in outer space. The main characters wear loose-fitting, flowing robes, as if a civilization with light-speed transport technology never bothered to invent a sewing machine. The princess wears a cinammon roll on each side of her head. She wanted to make a fashion statement but couldn’t find any white iPod earbuds. Everyone has a laser gun which shoots deadly energy-based projectiles thousands of feet, but the hero uses a laser sword, which shoots nothing and has a range of three feet. The hero and the princess are actually siblings by birth, but the pervey sage only reveals this to them after the princess slips her own brother the tongue.

commodore.jpg“The villain wears a black samurai helmet on his head and has a 10-pound bionic lung strapped to his chest that looks like the Commodore 64′s great grandchild. He also dons a weird-looking mechanical facemask with big black Jackie O-style goggle lenses. When he talks, he sounds like a late-stage emphysema patient.

suppository.gifr2d2.jpg“There are two characters written in for comic relief. They are robots with human personalities. One is a neurotic, uptight nervous nelly. But male. The other robot is not in human form. He looks more like a white and blue suppository on wheels. He doesn’t speak English. He just utters a series of beeps and chirps, yet everyone in that universe can understand everything he says.

han.jpg“One of the hero’s friends is a roguish character who is a space-faring pirate. He wears a white long-sleeved shirt underneath a black vest with a gun and holster strapped low on his thigh, as if he were the long lost seventh member of the Village People.

“And the space pirate’s sidekick is an 8-foot-tall dog that walks upright on two feet and shoots a laser crossbow. He wears no clothing, so the costumers will have to figure it out since I don’t want him hangin’ brain during a gunfight. Even though the walking dog speaks by uttering the exact same series of high-pitched grunts and growls, the space pirate can still carry on long, involved conversations with him. Because nnggghhhooooo nnggghhhooooo nngghoo ngghhooo means ‘Imperial Stormtroopers are on our ass’ as well as ‘I have shit on my fur’.”

Er, so far this thing sounds like the absurd result of a really bad LSD trip.

chewbacca.jpg I once watched an interview with George Lucas. They asked him how he came up with the Chewbacca character. He said that he used to have a dog named Indiana (yes, he named Indiana Jones after his dog). Indiana (the dog, not Harrison Ford) used to sit upright in the front seat of his car while they drove around town, and Lucas thought it was funny that she sat there like a person, as if a dog were co-piloting the vehicle. So he worked it into the “Star Wars” script.

Thank goodness a movie studio gave Lucas the money to make Star Wars, preposterous as the premise and details may have sounded to many a movie exec.

lightsaber.jpgIf it hadn’t happened, I never would have known what a lightsaber is, let alone sign up for lightsaber fighting lessons. It’s important for a fully-grown man to know how to properly wield a functioning lightsaber. Otherwise he may accidentally slice his Star Wars action figure display case in half while pretending to be Darth Maul. In the privacy of his bedroom. Wearing nothing but tighty whiteys.

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Words to Live By

A person’s approach to life, work and play can sometimes be summed up in a simple expression or two. In considering the phrases that I live by, I realized that they are rather simplistic. But I suppose that’s not necessarily a bad thing. These are the rules I try to live by:

  1. Keep it simple
  2. Giving is more rewarding that receiving
  3. Don’t mistake luck for skill
  4. Good judgment is key to success
  5. When in doubt, deep fry

Poor Richard's AlmanacThere are a whole lot of values missing from the list: spirituality, work ethic, civic responsibility, just to name a few. And my interpretation of each phrase may be much different from the obvious. Especially rules 1 (for me it also relates to materialism, in addition to work and other things) and 2 (pertains to family and friends, not to charitable organizations). But in the end these are the phrases that resonate most with me.

I’ve already discussed a bit of rule 1 in a previous post about my friend Jason A. At some point in the future I will elaborate on the rest of them here on SuckyBlog. For now, you can contemplate them as standalone expressions, totally unspoiled by my verbosity and open to your personal interpretation.

These are the words I live by. What are yours?

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Move the Butt Plug and Give Me Some Sheep! Settlers of Catan!!!

There’s this board game that nobody in the United States really knows about. Well, I guess some people know, because our friends Mike and Lisa in Menlo Park introduced us to it. They never actually sat down with us and taught us to play (we are friends by phone nowadays since we moved to Los Angeles), but they talked about it so much that it prompted me to go out and buy a copy and teach myself.

Ever try to teach yourself a complicated board game you’ve never played before? And then try to teach your friends after you’ve read the instructions just once? These are my college guy friends so all of the mocking quotes to follow start with “Dude”. Repeat while simulating smirking, whiney voice: “Dude! I love how you make up the rules throughout the game to help yourself.” “Dude! Are you just ‘remembering’ a new rule now to help yourself win?!” “Dude! You dragged us all to Vegas just to hole up in this room and play a frickin’ board game?! F**k you!”. OK that last one was slightly deserved- we all learned to play when I brought the game to Vegas. What a bunch of f****n’ nerds. Me not included. Please kindly forgive the sloppy language- I am in college roommate mode as I write this. OK I will clean up the language a bit: Please ignore the previous use of the word f****n’ and replace with f*****g.

All Hail Herr Teuber
Settlers of Catan was invented by a German named Klaus. Klaus Teuber. Klaus is a great, great man. I have never met Klaus, but whenever I think of a middle aged German man I immediately picture the new CEO of Daimler-Chrysler, Deiter Zetsche. Gotta love the mustache. Klaus I am sure looks a lot like his countryman Deiter. Except sexier. And he wants you to touch his monkey. OK I shall stop now because Klaus and Deiter suddenly find me tedious *yaawwwnnnn*. And besides, now is the time ven zey daunce. (If you are not getting the joke go watch some SNL reruns with Mike Myers.)

Gimme Some Sheep, B****H!
Catan is a game that takes place on an island. You collect resources: brick, wood, wheat, wool, and ore. Some people from the Midwest have been known to call wheat “corn”. And virtually everyone for some inexplicable reason calls wool “sheep”, as in “Montana: Where men are men, and sheep are scared.” (courtesy Jason A) You spend the resources to build roads, settlements and cities to accumulate points. First player to accumulate ten points wins. So in some ways it’s a bit of a cross between Monopoly and Risk.

But Catan is way more fun than either Monopoly or Risk. The game moves in two dimensions, the board is made up of many small tiles that randomly change position with each new game, and trading resources with your competitors is a constantly occurring activity that is important to winning. Most games have very close finishes, and usually nobody is so far behind that they feel like they’ve already lost halfway through.

Get the Butt Plug Off My Wood (and get your mind out of the gutter!)
The best part of Catan is a little piece called the Robber. Wherever the Robber goes, drought follows. So if the Robber is on a part of the board that you have built on, you don’t get those resources even if somebody rolls that number.

Since most of my Catan buddies are doctors, the Robber’s unique shape reminds them of something they often see at work. You’ll have to guess what they call it, but I’ll give you a hint: It starts with a B, ends with a G, and in the middle is “UTT-PLU”. We started calling the Robber the Butt Plug in Vegas. The name, unfortunately for poor Klaus, has stuck (now ees zee time ven he really daunces). Now everyone calls it the Butt Plug. Even our wives like Pat, Nina, and Nicole, who would never ever curse except at crazy LA drivers, fondly refer to the Robber as the Butt Plug. Funny (or maybe not) how a German dude who invents a piece whose purpose is to “plug” a resource shapes it like a butt plug. Next time I see Klaus I will ask his monkey whether it was intentional.

Stop Blocking My Roads, A******S
Catan is a very involved game. Resources -critical for building and gaining points- are scarce. Good positions on the board are scarce. On more than one occassion has somebody become extremely aggravated, getting angry at another player. Even Pat gets angry sometimes when people block her building efforts. To better demonstrate, let me recount a recent evening of Catan at our house.

Pre-Game Warm Up
It started off innocently enough. First we enjoyed a pre-game dinner at Sanamluang Cafe in North Hollywood. With Jon. He’s crazy. I don’t need to tell you that though. You can see from the picture.

We had some spicy beef salad which looked better than it tasted. I figured the Butt Plug experience to come later that evening would be that much more entertaining with somethin’ a little spicy in our bowels.

First Game Goes to Jack! All Hail the Lord of Catan!
I win the first game. Whenever Jon plays, he also simultaneously plays Yahoo! Hearts and tracks the Yankee game on the laptop. And he still whips my ass every time. This is the first time I’ve ever won with Jon at the table. Needless to say, I was ecstatic. But still not as crazy as Jon. I don’t remember why he is making that face in the picture. Maybe he is jizzing because Jeter got on base.

Just When You Think I’m Stupid, You Find Out I’m Even More Stupid Than You Thought
I, by the way, am the world’s losingest Catan player. I don’t think I win even 10% of the games I play (it’s a 3-6 person game. do the math to see how pathetically far below the mean I am in game-telligence). So I’m stupid partly because I can’t win a game to save my life. But more so because I keep on playing even though I never win. Like a f*****g dummy.

Second Game: Jon Wins, Pat Gets Pissed
After the first game, it’s like 10pm on a weeknight. Jon’s on call. But he makes us play a second game anyway because he, in his words, wants “V for Vendetta”. He kicks our asses and wins the second game. It only takes him about 20 minutes.

That’s not where the drama was though. During the second game, I beat Pat to a very key position on the board. She got pissed. And decided to no longer trade resources with me for the rest of the game. She doesn’t cuss like me, Jon or any of my guy friends, but you can see steam rushing out of her ears. From the look on her face I’m sure the expletives rushing through her mind would melt my ears off, so I am glad she doesn’t spew forth. And after seeing that I posted a picture of her being pissed on the Internet, she will get even more pissed at me (see the above paragraph on how I’m stupider than stupid).

Third Game: All Hail Pat, the New Lady of Catan!
So now it’s almost 11pm. On a weeknight. (Yes, we are wusses and go to sleep early like all old fogies). Pat is pissed after losing both games. She definitely wants to kick our asses. So she makes us play a third game. Now this time, Jon seems to be winning. So I go after him to be sure he doesn’t win so quickly. As we’re duking it out, Pat surreptitiously collects her resources and beats us both to 10 points. Look who’s smiling now!

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Protected: Unfinished Business

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So there are studies that conclude that most people with overarching ambition are from the middle class. Often one can find a study proving almost anything, but for argument’s sake let’s assume this one is somewhat true. So the theory goes that:

1) Children who grew up rich often don’t feel the need or drive to excel because they already have inherited material wealth.
2) And also the very poor don’t see so far beyond their limited means to strive for wealth or other kinds of success.
3) But the middle class has just enough to want to at least maintain what they have, and often to want more. And they also have a feeling that they could lose it all as well if they don’t maintain their drive. At least that’s what the study says.

Of course there are lots of exceptions to this rule. We all know people from all sorts of backgrounds who have achieved success on many different levels. The study though was talking about which demographic group exhibited the most drive overall.

Which leads to the more important question of whether the trappings of success in the end even matter. Are there relevant personal values tied to community, humility, philanthropy, and other -y’s that are more important to happiness? Some are happiest when serving others, and others are happiest when serving themselves. But the majority of people are probably somewhere in between. A lot of studies (yes, yet another study) have actually shown that our overall feeling of happiness or success is often a result of comparison with others around us- it’s relative to those in our immediate vicinity.

So do you want your own children to grow up to be overly ambitious? Not too ambitious? Ambitious for what? Money? Power? Fame? Love? Happiness? Respect? If you were super rich would you spoil them so they wouldn’t have to worry and struggle in life? Or, even if you had the means to spoil them materially, would you try to instill in them a hunger to strive and achieve?

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