Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Ferret in repose

Sunday, September 25, 2005

You talkin’ to me?

As someone who has been gleefully married for ages upon ages (just over one year), I still surprise myself with the things I’m willing to argue about. My wife Kara and I don’t argue much, but the things we do argue about are, for the most part, completely ridiculous. I have a theory that we are trying to keep our debating skills sharp for later in the marriage, when we might have real things to fight about, such as in a few years when I tell her that, regardless of its gender, I want to name our firstborn child “Frodo.”

For now, though, we’ll just keep practicing our debating skills and waiting for something serious to argue about. Here are the things we choose to argue about in the meantime:

1. Temperature regulation
“I’m hot. Do you think we should turn on the A/C?” Kara asked me a few nights ago.
“No, I’m good,” I replied. She didn’t respond, so I figured, like the ignoramus that I am, that the conversation was over.

Ten minutes later, I realized that not only had she not moved a muscle, but she hadn’t even glanced in my general direction. It was like she was watching Rachel Ray’s 30 Minute Meals, but the TV wasn’t on. Being the perceptive husband that I am, I have the ability to sense when something is awry just by being clubbed over the head.

“What’s up?” I asked her.

“I asked you to turn on the air conditioner and you ignored me.”

“You didn’t ask me to do anything! You asked my opinion. If you want me to do something, just ask, and I’ll gladly do it.”

“Will you get up and turn the A/C on?”


We both had a good laugh at my insubordination, and then I did as I was told.

2. Pet accidents
Kara recently looked back at the corner of the living room as we were headed out the door in the morning, and she observed, “Oh, Choppy’s accident is still on the floor.”

She said this with genuine surprise, as though she couldn’t figure out how it was still there. I should point out that we do not, as you might think, have Rosey the Robot like the Jetsons did. Kara’s implication was, of course, that only one of us had the necessary credentials to qualify him/her (him) for the finer intricacies of ferret-accident removal.

“Well, I put a drinking straw beside it last night, hoping that it would sprout arms and legs and pole vault itself into the trash can, but I guess our ferret’s accidents just aren’t into track and field,” I replied (in my mind).

With my mouth, I replied: “Uh huh.”

3. Toaster oven vs. slot toaster
I can’t talk about this one. It’s still too raw.

4. Ring toss
If I absolutely want to drive her off her rocker, which of course I do, nothing does the trick like flipping my wedding ring into the air like a coin, or spinning it like a top on the table when we’re out to eat. If I keep it up long enough, I can almost get her to make a scene.

When Kara makes a grab for the ring as it’s spinning on the table, I quickly snag it, hold it in the palm of my hand and stroke it while whispering, “They tried to steals it from us, my preciousss. Filthy hobbitses.”

Sometimes she’s too quick for me, though, and she manages to snatch it. “Ha!” she says, “Whatcha gonna do now?”

That’s when I do what any wedding-ringless man in a restaurant full of eligible women would do: I go home and play video games in my underwear.

Want to pick a fight? You can reach Mike Todd online at

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Where wood nymphs probably get busy

Here's another New Zealand shot:

If there was a little more moss here, and if it was ugly and it leaked, it would remind me of my pool.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Maine event

Every summer since I was five, my family has packed up most of its earthly possessions and headed into the Maine woods for a week’s vacation. My parents can pack a car within an inch of its suspension – they even brought their own microwave last time. I don’t know how they ever got my sister and me packed in there when we were kids. I’ve lived in apartments that had less stuff in them than my parents’ car on vacation. They bring enough DEET (Don’t Ever Eat This) to fill a moose trailer, which, if there is such a thing, I’d imagine looks a lot like a horse trailer.

Not to get off topic here, but DEET really is a wonderful chemical. Beyond its usefulness as a mosquito repellant, it also works quite passably as a raincoat-melter, should you need one. If you’ve ever gotten DEET on a raincoat, you’ve probably watched in fascination as the plastic material turns white and starts to melt. That really gives you an extra feeling of security when you put the stuff directly on your skin, because you know that any bug that lands on a well-slathered arm will, most likely, dissolve. Also, those of you who have applied DEET with your bare hands, forgotten about it and then wiped your mouth ten minutes later should be familiar with its usefulness as poor man’s Novocain. What great stuff.

Anyway, we took our annual Maine vacation again a couple of weeks ago. No matter how many times we go to the same place and do the same things, it never gets old, even when it rains for the first four days, trapping us all in a small cabin with nothing to do. Absolutely nothing. Here’s an actual conversation from one of those days:

Uncle Ed: I’m gonna go take a nap.
Mom: You just woke up!
Uncle Ed: I did not. I’ve been up for two hours.

But we made the most of the good weather that we did have. One night, while we were all sitting out on a dock, listening to a concert of loons calling to each other from across the lake, Mom said, “Let’s play a game. Everyone describe a loon’s call using just one word.”

I sat there, deep in thought, trying my best to come up with a good reason why this game won out over my suggestion of beer pong. We do love the loons, though, so with varying levels of enthusiasm, everyone played along. Here’s what my family came up with: “enchanting,” “mystical,” “haunting,” “mournful” and “mah mouf is numm.” (I had DEET on my lips.) Also, if anyone from Milton Bradley is reading this, Mom’s game is definitely still for sale.

I realized on this most recent trip that our Maine vacations are about more than just relaxing – they’re about connecting with oneself, rejuvenating family bonds and scaring the dickens out of large mammals.

Ordinarily, a moose will hang out by the side of the road and pose if you stop to look at it. It will just stand there, chewing, mosquitoes bouncing off its head, staring at you as if to say, “Got any DEET?”

This year, though, we came up later in the season than usual, and the couple of moose we saw took off quickly into the underbrush – we could just roll down the windows to hear branches snapping as the huge animals lumbered away.

The hypothesis my family came up with for this behavior is that this year we were visiting during rutting season. If this was the case, I certainly can’t blame the moose for being scared when we drove up – if I had the slightest inkling that a Ford Explorer wanted to mate with me, I’d take off into the forest, too.

Before he scuttles into the underbrush, you can reach Mike Todd online at

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Say "topless" a lot

Here's a Good Frickin' pic my Mom took in the Gobi Desert. Wait, no, this is Cape Cod:

Also, my little stalker-tracker tells me what search terms people have used to accidentally land on good ol' Just Humor Me (I'm guessing most of these people are sorely disappointed by what they find here). Here are some of my faves:

pictures of my neighbor
froot loops
tetanus shot
friends with benefits humor
how to keep a red-eared slidder turtle
topless -fee
caught topless
bad things at mervyns stores
fruit loops different flavors
going topless
Honeydipper Dan
ride a moose photo
septic tank bugs larva
amoebas + pink eye
playstation 17
rio de janero plastic surgery
women topless in a jeep

Sunday, September 11, 2005

R2-D2 puts out 10,000 BTUs

You might think that summer officially ended on Labor Day, but this year it actually ended a couple weeks earlier than that. The exact moment when we passed from summer into fall this year was Saturday, August 20, at 3:45 pm. I can tell by looking at my credit card statement. That’s the precise time that my wife Kara and I finally broke down and purchased an air conditioner, summoning Arctic air masses and tilting the Earth on its axis.

Some people will tell you that a butterfly flapping its wings can cause just enough change in the atmosphere to make a hurricane happen, especially if the butterfly is a metaphor for the oceanic currents and air masses that actually cause hurricanes. I don’t know whether there’s anything to the butterfly theory or not, but I became a little more convinced about it when the wind current that resulted from swiping my credit card at the cash register caused the temperature outside to immediately drop twenty degrees.

Kara and I had sweated through the entire summer without an air conditioner, but finally decided that we couldn’t stand the heat; it was time to get some artificially cooled air in the kitchen. We realized that because it was so late in the summer, what we were doing was the equivalent of hopping a ride in a golf cart for the last mile of a marathon, but the weld-the-quarters-together-in-your-pocket temperatures of this summer finally got the best of us.

I remember waking up on that fateful morning, wiping the sweat out of my eyes, peeling myself off the sheets and looking down at the floor, where our ferret was looking up at me as if to say, “Dude, get an air conditioner, you big jerk.” The crew cut I had given him a few days earlier with my electric shaver hadn’t cooled him off as much as I’d hoped. I only mention that here because I wanted you to know that I cut our ferret’s hair with my shaver, in case you ever overhear me talking about “shaving the ferret.” It’s not some kind of weird euphemism. I mean it literally.

Anyway, Kara and I spent the better part of that Saturday orbiting around Walmart, trying desperately to break free from its gravitational pull. We circled around and around, landing briefly in Sears, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Target and, for some reason, Victoria’s Secret. Kara tricked me into going in there, saying she’d only be a minute. Then she gave me her purse and locked herself in the changing room, leaving me to awkwardly search for a socially acceptable pastime for a purse-toting male in a lingerie store; I settled on studying a particularly fascinating empty clothes hanger. I don’t know what Kara does in the changing room, but from the length of her visits, I’m going to guess the Sunday crossword puzzle.

Through all the stores we tried, the only air conditioner we found was a single wall unit in a duct-taped box that had been kicked under a shelf. The box looked like it had been rescued at the last moment from two packs of angry hyenas that had been fighting over it. So we ended up at Walmart, a store that we try our best to avoid, partly because it’s always crowded, and partly because it just seems so evil.

It might be true that the good die young, but it’s also true that the evil have superior inventory management; Walmart had about 30 air conditioners for us to choose from, with a wide range of BTU (Bring Thermal Underwear) output. We brought home a little portable unit that sits in the middle of the room and shoots its exhaust out the window through a duct. I named the unit R2-D2. R2-D2 even has a remote control.

Now I hold up the remote and say, “R2, cool it.”

“Beep, beep,” R2 responds, and kindly obliges. If only I could teach him to rake leaves.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Pennsylvania just got a little bit cooler

In honor of Jeff Hofer's return home after his second round of barefoot rambles around Guatemala, here's a Good Frickin' Picture he took of his daughter:

Wait, he doesn't have a daughter. Who the heck is this a picture of?

Monday, September 05, 2005

EZ is as EZ does

E-ZPass is one of humankind’s greatest inventions. Of the four inventions of the past twenty years, it’s not quite as cool as the internet, but leagues ahead of the Thighmaster and the Eggwave. For those of you who don’t know what E-ZPass is, please contact your closest university; there are anthropologists there who will want to study you.

While E-ZPass is great, it is still a relatively new system, and as such has a few kinks that still need to be worked out. Two years ago, my then-girlfriend Kara and I took her car through a toll booth with the E-ZPass transponder not properly mounted to the windshield, partly (and by partly I mean entirely) because I was tossing it up and down to myself in the passenger seat as we drove through the toll booth.

The dreaded CALL EZPASS sign lit up, which is the interstate equivalent of the Blue Screen of Death on your computer. When we got home, I obediently called E-ZPass, and after navigating deep into the bowels of their phone system, I actually found a human being there. That human being was Vinnie Barbarino. If you don’t know who Vinnie Barbarino is, he’s John Travolta’s character from the 70’s version of Saved by the Bell. Back then, Screech was called Horshack. Anyway, here’s how our conversation went:

Me: Hi. The CALL EZPASS sign lit up at the New Paltz exit on the New York Thruway when we went through the toll booth earlier today.
Vinnie: What?
Me: The sign at the toll booth. It said CALL EZPASS. So I’m calling you.
Vinnie: Where?
Me: The sign at the toll booth. It said to call.
Vinnie: When?
Me: Earlier today.
Vinnie: Who?
Me: Dude, the sign. The CALL EZPASS sign. It said to call.
Vinnie: Up your nose wit’ a rubber hose.

After that conversation, I sent a check to E-ZPass for the toll, hoping to clear my good name. They responded by sending piles of violation notices to Kara’s parents, at the address to which her car was registered. I poured special love and care into my next letter to E-ZPass, enclosed another check, and the violation notices actually stopped.

I am so proud of myself for writing a letter that actually accomplished something, I’ll paste it here exactly as I sent it. Maybe you can get some use out of it, too, if you ever need E-ZPass to stop sending violation notices to you. Feel free to use this letter and modify it for your particular situation. It has a proven track record.

Dear E-ZPass:

I already sent in a payment for the enclosed violation, but the delinquency notices have not stopped coming. I took my transponder through the New Paltz booth in my girlfriend's car. The
booth didn't read the transponder, and the "CALL EZPASS" sign lit up.

I am trying really hard to comply with E-ZPass in clearing up this violation. PLEASE help me end this! PLEASE! I know you can do it. I have faith in you. My girlfriend's folks are [angry] at me because they keep getting these notices. I am probably going to marry this girl, and her parents will likely be my in-laws someday. This E-ZPass mess is not helping at all. I think they are starting to think that their daughter should have stayed with that motorcycle punk guy. I'm trying to be the nice guy, but does a nice guy screw up his girlfriend's parents’ credit rating and let E-ZPass harass them? No!

You can help! You can make the world a better place. Opportunities like this don't come along every day -- you are empowered to right wrongs and cure injustices! All you have to do is close this violation notice.

Thanks for your attention. You are a good person.


Michael Todd