September 2009 Archives

I have met the single most helpless, naive person I think will ever know. If you abandoned this 30 year-old and, say, a newborn paraplegic in the woods, my money would be on the newborn surviving longer.

More later. Or maybe not.

read, heed the book

My favorite letter to the editor in the Spokane newspaper last weekend follows.

Read, heed the book

To the editor:

I am appealing to the uninformed – and misinformed— with a few truths. I do not speak on my own authority. Gosh, I could never come up with this on my own. I found this in a book.

It said, and I believe the author is truthful, "Male and female he created them. God blessed them…."(Gen 1:28). For centuries and centuries, millions of other people have similarly believed. It is true! We ARE male and female and the blessing of marriage IS between a male and female.

Another authority—our Legislature—also wrote a "book." You know it as Senate Bill 5688. The "plot" of this book is to get us all to agree that we lack specific genders. If you believe that, then the logical conclusion is that marriage is between two gender-neutral people. In one sweep of her pen, the governor put thumbs down on Genesis and fooled all of us.

But wait! The people will not be fooled. We are able to overturn what two-thirds of our Legislature ruled is law. Protect marriage. Preserve genders. In the long run, safeguard children. On the November ballot, where it asks if you accept or reject SB 5688, check reject.

Walter F. Stichart

I simply can't believe that I spent two years teaching critical thinking and argumentation in that town and I never once thought to use those letters in a lesson.

still better than tv

I visited my Spokane friends over the weekend, and Saturday morning's entertainment consisted of watching one of Lynn's bloodhounds trying to mount Dex, who's one-third his size.

"What does it say about us that we're just sitting here and watching this spectacle?" Lynn asked, her cigarette flapping on her lower lip.

Nothing good.

Melvin, the bloodhound, had a serious logistical problem. When the object of your affections can escape by walking backwards through your legs, you've got a problem. He looked at me for unconditional intragender sympathy.

"Yeah. I know. We've all been there, Melvin."

hagar and the horrible

Remember Hagar?

She wrote me a couple months ago, saying she was flying to the U.S. "Do you want to meet me in Vegas?"

Um. Yes? I couldn't think of anything I would rather do, actually.

Yesterday she wrote to say that the U.S. trip was off, but if I wanted to join her Thailand spa vacation for a month, here are her travel plans...

I'm not sure why it's so different, but it just is. It ups the ante considerably, and I'm not talking about the money. Talk about a pressure-cooker of a first date. It could be the most romantic thing ever. It could veer platonic and still be unassailably cool. It could also be the most spectacularly dumb use of time and money ever.

This is, after all, someone I do not really know, for all the tomes we've written in IM. I'm not sure how she describes me, but I'm pretty sure it's with more depth than I do her: "the hot Jewish chick."

Going would be bad...right?


Sons of wife-beaters tend to go one of two ways.

  1. They pay it forward.
  2. They go the other way, becoming ultra-protective of women.
I opted for #2. Any chance I have to not be my father, I generally take.

No, my own battle has been with not letting sensible protectiveness vault into over-protectiveness. Sensible: buying her a deadbolt. Over-protective: pacing anxiously when she's an hour late, then retracing her probable route to look for her wrecked car.

Invariably, I think more about a given woman's safety than she does. I don't articulate most of these thoughts, but they're there. She's going downtown? With Carol? At 11pm? On a Friday? Walking from the ferry to Capitol Hill and back? Carol is a wisp. She'll not only offer no protection, she'll make them more of a target. Maybe I should go along and walk them there and back. No, that will just seem controlling or something. But how can I mitigate the risk? Maybe if I give them cab fare. Then they can just go from one public place to another. Yeah, that's good. But then there's the cabbie. How do I know he's trustworthy? Maybe if I give her cab fare and some mace—

"So John, would you like me to check in so you don't do your worrying thing?"

"I really love you."

This isn't restricted to girlfriends. I'll walk a complete stranger to her car, then scold her for letting a complete stranger walk her to her car. And nothing inflames me like a guy physically menacing a woman. The last time I got punched in the face, last October, was just such an incident. Totally worth it.

Which brings us to Sarah. I didn't have to observe her latest workplace for long to be alarmed by the drunken reprobates whom she serves. The one who licked her neck guaranfuckingteed my next purchase: her Tazer. Laser sighted. With a guarantee that if she has to use it, she can drop it and run and they'll issue her a replacement. And of all the women I've known, she's the one I know will, if it must be used, hesitate least.

Which may well make her my favorite.


Astonishingly, Stank trolls largely saw the "What do you do for a living?" survey as a means for mocking. That's so unlike you people, really. I've attempted to classify the responses.

Anti-Microsoft (I think)

"I work at a sewage treatment plant, 'cause all I do is process their crap."

"I shovel bullshit."

"I am a truth launderer"

"I translate dork into human."


"I overbill professionally."

"I am a grammatical mercenary on a long term contract with a large corporate client that prefers anonymity when it comes to our business arrangements." (I think that covers technical writer for hire, for an evil organization that probably dislikes claiming you as an employee almost as much as you dislike claiming them as an employer!)

"I am an ethically challenged Microsoft-mooch." (Allie)

The obscure and even more boring than the truth

"I am a Forensic Epistemologist."

"I am a Didactical Pathologist."

The outright lie

"I don't write software documentation, that's for sure."

"I write software documentation...for space."

The fuck you

"I'm a technical writer. Got a problem with that, bitch?"

"I own my own company doing technical writing for MS. *haha* Yeah, it sounds boring, but it allows me to work from my hot tub and watch whales, so THAT'S okay." (Mister, you don't generally go to meetings. I would do technical writing for the Southern Baptist Convention if it meant I didn't have to go to meetings. Fuck'em and feed'em fish heads if they don't recognize the sheer brilliance of your arrangement.)

The winner

"It's classified."

working for a dying

Back before poker rooms were utterly ruined by the advent of TV poker, I would go to Vegas and play for days. I learned not to say I worked at Microsoft, 'cause then someone would want to vent about Microsoft or, worse, ask me technical questions about some product. One day, Seattle's other big employer popped into my mind.

"Boeing," I replied, in front of someone who turned out to be a incessantly shop-talking aeronautical engineer at Boeing. As I squirmed, I witnessed a miracle: something was actually more boring than what I did for a living.

What I do, exactly, is write software documentation. Those Windows 98 and Windows 2000 books that you used as coasters? Those were mine. (And Dorkass's. The parts that were spelled correctly were mine.) It's not a thrilling living, to be sure, but my god, is it ever a conversation killer. I live in dread of someone asking me what I do.

"What do you do for a living?" said the gorgeous woman at the dog park a few months ago. I told her. "Well, that sounds....interesting!" she said, bursting into laughter on the last word.

I told the dog-park story to Sarah's friend last month, and I could see boredom sucking the vitamins out of her bloodstream. "Yeah, that...doesn' all."

Which brings us to today's survey. What, exactly, do I tell people? Especially gorgeous women at the dog park? Nowadays I own my own vending company that performs these services for Microsoft, but the alternate answers of "I'm self-employed" or "I'm a freelance writer" sound to me like, respectively, "I'm unemployed" and "I live with my mother."

I leave it to you.

dream girls

annalie in cap.jpg
I saw exactly one pink Steelers jersey when I was in the 'Burgh, which is fairly amazing given that every single citizen seemingly wears Steelers garb on game day.

That pink Jersey, I might add, was worn by a homeless woman, so even she gets some slack from Stank.

"Is it just me," I said to Nelson, "Or is every female from 4 to 94 incredibly good looking when she puts on Steelers garb?"

"I'm pretty sure it's just you."

We were grilling brats in Pittsburgh, and as is my wont, I sauteed about an order of magnitude more onions than necessary. Noticing that the middle-aged couple next to us also had brats on their grill, I offered them some onions. They gave us some truly lousy store-bought brownies in exchange.

Six hours later, they needed a favor. "Do you have jumper cables?" the man asked. And then Nelson and I dug out the cables and positioned the vehicle such that they could reach. While Nelson was performing a 17-point turn in his car, the man thanked me for helping.

"Thank you so much for doing this. Really. I'm very grateful. But I'm sure you're both Christians..."

What does that mean? That anyone exhibiting the slightest kindness must share the man's own spiritual beliefs? 'Cause that's what it sounded like. I resisted the impulse to pack up the cables and leave the couple stranded in the nearly empty parking lot. No. I would not do that. I was representing non-believers, and I would be a good witness.

"We are not," I said simply, leaving the man to his own ruminations. No more was said on the matter.

Using his bare, stadium-marinated hands, the man gave us two more truly lousy store-bought brownies for our troubles. As I hucked mine out the car window, I pointed out to Nelson that had he parked the way I'd told him to, the cars' batteries would have been right next to one another.


I'm pretty meticulous about keeping my hands clean, and I'm octuply so when I'm flying. With their closed ventilation systems and fabric that's marinated in human filth for 30 unwashed years, airplanes look pretty much like giant maxi-pads to me. (With wings, naturally.) I refuse to eat on planes if my fingers have so much as brushed my tongue-depresser of an armrest.

It amazes me, then, to see what I saw at O'Hare. I was washing my hands, naturally, while an unseen guy in a stall was grunting and moaning as if in enormous pain, then relief. He finally finished his business, exited the stall, and walked straight out of the bathroom, presumably to resume tossing pizza dough. I felt positively woozy.

After I nestled into my first class seat, I massaged Purell on to my hands. Gotta kill what I can. The stewardess asked if I would like a warm cookie. Why yes, it's as if you can hear my thoughts, I would very much like a warm cookie. In fact, you can assume that this is my default state. The long-term forecast calls for John wanting a warm cookie for the duration of the warm cookies, and for a good while longer after that.

And then with a familiar grunt, the bathroom moaner plopped into the aisle seat next to me.

The stewardess tried to put the cookie on the armrest between our seats, but Dr. Dook would have none of that. He thoughtfully grabbed the plate, taking care to place his thumb on my cookie as he handed it to me.

"You can have it. I'm not feeling well," I said, not remotely lying.

kanye west doesn't care about white people!

Since no one else seems to have made the obvious joke, heck, I'll take the shot.

pittsburgh guys

This is not a post about sports, so Minette, you can safely keep reading.

I first noticed something weird about Pittsburgh when I was researching where I'd like to live. I bought the Places Rated Almanac and statistically compared 20 or so possible destinations. Pittsburgh rated very high, but that wasn't the weirdness. No, that was in the Crime section. There was nothing at all surprising about the top and bottom of the city crime rankings. All of the major metropolitan areas (New York, Miami, Seattle, etc.) were at the bottom. Small rural communities you've never heard of were at the top. And there, nestled in the rankings between Johnstown PA and Appleton WI near the top of the list, was Pittsburgh. No other major city was within 150 rankings of Pittsburgh.

beautiful-downtown-pittsburgh.jpg"How is this possible?" I asked. "How can a large city so down on its luck have so little relative crime?" I researched some more, certain it was an error. It was not. There's little crime in Pittsburgh.

And when I moved to Seattle, I started watching games with displaced Pittsburghers. They talked funny, but they were uniformly decent, unpretentious folk. People with very little were nonetheless very generous. They were welcoming and interested in one another, and all ages, religions, genders and races not only befriended one another but comfortably discussed age, religion, gender and race with one another. Trust me; that's damned rare in Seattle.

I explained one day that I'm not actually from Pittsburgh, and one of my buddies rushed to interject "But he's a Pittsburgh guy." I thought he was merely affirming my credentials as a fan. He wasn't. I would soon learn that to Pittsburghers, "Pittsburgh guy" is a compliment of the highest order. To them it's not a geographical designation; it means decent, unpretentious. And subsequent trips to Pittsburgh have born this out. These are the finest, most welcoming people I've ever known. They value hard work and hard play, and they treat everyone like a potential new friend. And I mean everyone. Any trip to Pittsburgh has ended the same way: with me surfing real estate in Pittsburgh.

I'm not sure, but I think the city's depressive economic past has something to do with this. Maybe it humbled them. Maybe the people who remained take a particular pride in those who also remained. Maybe they want so badly to be from a special place, they've willed such a place into reality. For whatever reason, I want to wallow in these people.

This was never more clear than Friday night, when I was refueling my rental car in Pittsburgh. While it fueled, I went to buy a Diet Coke. And then inexplicably, I hopped in the car and took off. I severed the gas hose in two places (how is that even possible?), sheering the nozzle into the car's gas intake.


Soon I was apologizing to the gas station's owner on the phone. She said she'd attempt to do the repair herself, so it didn't cost me too much. She took my name and address. She didn't have the clerk ask for an ID. I could have given her any name and address. Percy's came to mind.

"Just let me know how much it was," I said. "I'm good for it."

"I know you are," she said simply. "Have a great trip home."

On my way to the airport, I got more than a little depressed.

pittsburgh 09 013.JPG

ass backward

I don't know if Nelson still thinks I'm the 12 year old kid he first met, but for whatever reason, my brother-in-law is incapable of following my suggestions. If I've been somewhere before and say it's thataway, he'll go the opposite direction every single time. So was it when we were parking to tailgate.

"Remember to park head-in in the parking space."

"I wanna be able to get out later," he argued.

"This is how it's done, though. Otherwise we have to carry all that shit to the front of the car."

And then he parked and we carried all that shit to the front of the car. While our fellow fans all rested their drinks in the aft sections of their vehicles, we watched ours slide down the hood. Several people commented on our retardation. "It's called tailgating for a reason, you know," said one.

Nelson laughed goofily. "Yeah! Can you tell we're doing this for the first time?"

"Speak for yourself, motherfucker," I growled.

"What's that?"

I pointed at Nelson. "I'd just like the record to show that he is not a blood relative."

"Yeah, well, I wouldn't be doing a whole lot of bragging about my blood relatives if I was you." Touche, Nelson.

That got me thinking. "Say, Nelson," I said a little later. "I didn't have any choice but to be born into my stupid family, but you're a mystery to me. You opted in. Can you describe your decision process to marry into this pack of wolves?"

"I didn't know her well enough," he replied without the slightest trace of a smile.

pittsburgh videos

Okay, here's a rollup of all the Pittsburgh trip videos, most of which I couldn't post here because of the stupid iPhone/YouTube incompatibility. These are in reverse chronological order from what you're used to; the first one is first.

Racing to my connecting flight at O'Hare

I went to shoot a police car parked in front of a doughnut shop when a second cop passed by

Coming out of the Fort Pitt tunnel, one of my favorite sights in the world

Five hours until kickoff

My brother-in-law, the life of the party

Sequel to my post about Jersey numbers

Two hours until kickoff

Super Bowl XLIII trophy, plus my finger

If, you know, we actually invited other countries to play for our world championship

The revolting Primanti Brothers' sandwich

A sequel to the Mike Tomczak post

Driving in my home state

Arriving home late at night

I used bleach only because I don't own napalm

screw this

Due to the iphone's astounding inability to copy YouTube code, I can't post videos here from the road. You can see them here, though:

flo's roofie

video posts

This week I'm going to try something dramatically different. It might be a complete disaster, so I guess we'll find out together. Taking advantage of the iPhone's ability to upload videos to YouTube, I'm going to post videos from the road. I expect it to work right up until it gets most interesting: Thursday night at the Steelers' home opener celebration. I'll try to upload video in more or less real time, but several thousand people will be trying to do the same thing via the same rusty wire hanger that AT&T calls a cell tower, so I'm not optimistic.

The experiment starts at home.

labor day

My Labor Day has thus far consisted of preparations for my imminent trip. More on that later. My boss, Flo, and her new boyfriend will be house- and dog-sitting while I'm gone, so this morning I set about repairing the guest room toilet, which clearly was still using parts from '87. Specifically, 1887. There I was, standing in gray water, swearing at the ancient bolt I'd just stripped, when it hit me: even on Labor Day, I'm dealing with Flo's shit.

"This pleases me," she replied.

stump the band

Whenever Johnny Carson wasn't loving his material, he performed Stump the Band, an entirely improvisational schtick where he would interview audience members and they would challenge the band to play some obscure song. It wasn't great, and I always wondered how truly lousy the original material must have been.

Which brings us to Stank's version of Stump the Band: semi-amusing Google searches that mysteriously led people to this site.

adjectives de inferiority
what, decade, whore, knee, high, socks
snffing womans ass crack
dear, fucking, lord, dont, need, this, right, now
it is the END of the WROULD as we no it !] song] in paper mound
"mormon underwear" radiation waves
frank tardo jr.
really fat gay cocksuckers
heinz field spread ashes
"what the fucking fuck" super troopers
euthanize percy

moron taxonomy
stupid church signs
super bowl xl officiating
percy chronicles

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