April 30: Manual Fujifilm Camera with Case

Monday, April 30, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 11:21 PM
Given to Josh from Joanne.

Most people want to know the meaning of life.  Some want to know if their deceased relatives are living in paradise.  Others want to know if there are other life forms in the universe.  All valid questions.  But not the one that predominates my day-to-day thinking.

When my earthly existence ends, the question I have for the creator of all of this is "How many times have I been in peoples' vacation photos without my knowledge?"  At this point in my life based on the amount of time I have been in places photographable, I would say 209 pictures, give or take 60.

-Profession: Bakery clerk

-Favorite Star Trek character: Geordi LaForge [as played by LeVar Burton].  His glasses were the shit.

-When having fun with friends, do you joke or josh with them?:  They josh with me.

-You roast your own coffee beans.  If the best part of waking up is Folger's in your cup, finish this thought: __________... is Josh's roast in your cup.:  The only reason some of my friends are my friends...

-You're the 11th bearded gift exchanger.  Are you jolly?:  Yes, and I think it's a requirement.  I also think there's a relationship between the length of a beard and one's jolliness.  I just trimmed it yesterday and I feel slightly less jolly.

April 29: Teapot and napkins

Posted by 366 White Elephants at 1:09 AM
Given to Joanne from Michele.

Mother's Day is coming up in a couple of weeks and it appears I'll be spending my time at two households: my mom's and Michele's mom's house.

According to Michele, if you tell her mom that you like dehumidifiers, she will begin bringing them to you until every room has one.  If you tell her you like penguins, she'll start buying you penguin statues and dolls and everything penguin until you have a "collection" as Michele likes to call it.  Michele said she has tubs of Beanie Babies that she gives away as party favors.  The teapot given to Michele was probably the 12th teapot given to her by her mom, so it made for an excellent way to lighten the load at her house.

When I go there on Mother's Day, I'm going to say I like fine wine, legal tender, and Gloria Estefan.  Let's see what I get back.

She's really glad they no longer
serve Mexican on in-flight meals
-Profession: Pilot

-Favorite cruising altitude: 41,000 feet

-How do you politely tell your co-pilot he/she needs to use more deodorant?:  Sometimes when someone takes care of business in the forward bathroom, the smell wafts into the cabin.  It's really gross.  We'll talk to each other and say, "Boy, it's kinda stinky in here".  I'd probably do the same and have the co-pilot do a quick underarm sniff.

-Tell me how you'd order a hamburger and fries as if you were landing a plane: Give me beef, medium.  Okay...I need cheese now.  Give me Diet Coke with that.

-When you're putting things away at home, do you stow them?:  Never

April 28: Anchor Bar Chicken Wing Hat

Saturday, April 28, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 11:48 PM
Given to Michele from Jeff.
 Tip #18 on "Ways to Appear Sexier to Your Spouse"
The story goes like this:  Jeff's got a business and had to ship this $20m piece of equipment from Buffalo to Cleveland.  He drives to Buffalo and has to load the costly item on a 1904 barge in a run-down pier in the city.  And...they had to make sure it survived the week's journey without any part of the lakes freezing.  All this was on Jeff's mind when his co-worker suggested they all go to the historic Anchor Bar to down some chicken wings and beers.  At some point during the evening Jeff said, "Well, if the equipment goes down to the bottom, at least I'll get myself a chicken wing hat."

All her DVDs are in a heap
-Profession: Librarian

-Favorite vitamin: B-12

-If you could install more severe punishments for overdue materials, what would they be?:  The person with the overdue items would have to sit in a dunk tank.  One throw per every 10 cent fine.

-Do you shelve books at home according to the Dewey Decimal system?:  No, but I do shelve by author, alphabetically.  I keep the series books together, too.  In my daughter's room, I shelve the books by age group, too: juvenile, teen, young adult and adult fiction.

-At a library sale, have you ever wondered why a particular item was being let go by the library?:  Sometimes they'll be copies of The Kama Sutra.  But anything like that has been donated from a personal collection.

April 27: White Teeth: A Novel

Posted by 366 White Elephants at 3:17 AM
Given to Jeff from Lauren.
Author's Orbit gum addiction tell-all
Today, a group of Mormons were standing in a well-trafficked building--playing trivia games and Oreo cookie contests, while passing out The Book of Mormon in a few different languages--including Spanish--in the process.  The Oreo game was a hoot.  Here's how it works: you tilt your head back until it is parallel with the ground.  Then, without using your hands, you find a way to get the cookie into your mouth.  In my first attempt, I tried flipping the cookie like a seal, which was not the proper technique.  The Mormon brother used his facial muscles, particularly the ones in his forehead, to inch the cookie to his mouth.  [side note: I bet George Burns would have been good at a game like this.]

I tried to mimic his movements on my second go-'round, but one observer told me I "didn't have the nose for it", whatever that means.  The next few turns, the cookie always went to one side of my face, like the Plinko chip that always went to the $0 space.  If this indeed was The Price is Right, you would not see me and my crazy get-up in the Showcase Showdown, but I would have reached into Brother Ray's pocket to see if he had any money.

Served as inspiration for Will Ferrell
in Old School
-Profession: Business Owner & Engineer

-Favorite cartoon character: Mighty Mouse

-Have you ever surprised someone with a feat of strength or intelligence?:  I was Valedictorian in both high school and college.  I think I surprised everyone.  They didn't think I was that smart.

-And you've surprised people by the women you've been with?:  I've been surrounded by women my whole life.  I have 2 sisters, 3 daughters, and 1 grand daughter.  One night, all of us and my wife and my niece were all out at a restaurant.  They were all dressed up and looking real nice.  This guy comes up to me as we're walking out and says, "How'd you get all those women, dude?"  I think they were flattered in some weird way.

-But you not only studied hard, you partied hard, too?:  Yeah, I got to be class President during my senior year at college for six weeks.  The President I replaced knew he wasn't going to graduate because he flunked his classes.

I was the social chair of my fraternity and had this pot of money.  And we took that money and partied all over Ohio for an entire week.  We'd go to bars and it was free everything.  It probably the best week.  We all stumbled to get our diplomas.

April 26: 4-foot long Inflatable Flamingo

Thursday, April 26, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 10:58 PM
Given to Lauren from Anne.
Sadly, would not be tall enough for most
amusement park rides
I get to work this morning and open up my email.  There's a message from the department assistant that says, "Harold Thisk is not in today!" I changed the person's name, but I want to draw your attention to the punctuation.  I get three reads on it with the exclamation point at the end of the sentence.

1) Thank goodness Harold's not in.  I can't stand the bastard.
2) Whoo hoo, Harold gets a day off!  Lucky him!
3) I don't know what an exclamation point is, but it looks fun!

Thoughts?  Please comment below.

Mother's maiden name is
-Profession: Department Assistant (NOT the one who sent this email!)

-Favorite kind of sky: Clear, bright blue

-Lauren is a fragrance created by Ralph Lauren.  What do you think it smells like?:  My aunt bought me a bottle of this when I was six or seven.  It smells musty and dated.  I hope they changed their formula.

-What's your typical # of sneezes?:  1, but sometimes I'm a 2 bagger

-You are Italian and also have a last name that sounds a lot like 'gelato'.  Would it be sacrilege for you to consume anything but gelato?:  For anyone, I think.  I actually prefer it over any other kind of ice cream.

April 25: 5-piece Votive Candle Set

Posted by 366 White Elephants at 12:30 AM
Given to Anne from Thom.

You've probably read a sports story that began with a word such as 'fanatic' where the pronunciation guide and definition of the word follow.  You may also see it with a letter from a school system superintendent who writes 'levy' in the same manner as if we all are too obtuse to understand what those words mean.  You'll forgive me when I do the same thing here this evening, information courtesy of Merriam-Webster.com.

votive:  \ˈvō-tiv\  adjective
1) consisting of or expressing a vow, wish, or desire <a votive prayer>
2) offered or performed in fulfillment of a vow or in gratitude or devotion

I'll focus on the first definition.  Anne's got five votive candles in this gift from Thom and, correspondingly, she gets five wishes.  In an exclusive interview, this is what she wants:

1) Lisa Loeb to be the featured vocalist on the Iron Man 3 soundtrack
2) The U.S. Postal service to remain solvent
3) Zagat to issue a Fort Wayne, Indiana guide
4) Y to be considered strictly a consonant
5) Men to stop wearing pleated pants

This is her blog picture-taking face
-Profession: Fundraiser

-Favorite action verb: vivre ("to live" in French)

-Is the 'E' at the end of your name a sign of antiquity like 'shoppe' or 'olde'?:  My mom thought it was more royal looking.

-Is your 'dancing face' akin to any other face you display in other life situations?:  No.  Nope.

-What would you do for a 12 oz. beer?:  Build a hovercraft.

April 24: 'Despicable Me' Minion Doll

Wednesday, April 25, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 2:23 AM
Given to Thom from Libby.
"Have a seat...we'll be with you in a moment"
Today, I invited a friend to have lunch with me, followed by a field trip in the out of doors.  The outdoors, of course, being a few feet outside of my office window.  I gave no instructions other than 1) I was going to be using a telescoping aluminum pole; and 2) we were going to have the best time.

There's this white shopping bag that got blown up in the tree that has been driving me nuts.  I stood on this ledge--my friend helping to guide my position, as well as that of the pole--and I tried to hook the bag around the pole to pry it loose from the tree.  Of course, the tree has inch-long needles on its branches, which managed to scratch and bloody my hands.  After getting 90% of the bag pried free, I ended my chase when the handles of the bag got wrapped around two of the needles.

I stopped upstairs to complain/discuss the matter/whine to my friend Matt.  Before getting too far in the story, he said "is there a white bag in the tree?"  Surprised, I said yes.  While looking at my bloodied hands which he said had "Workers Comp" written all over them, Matt walked me down the hall to his co-worker Brandon who sits a floor above me.   I commiserated with him and learned he has been lobbying the grounds crew for months to get the bag unhooked--albeit unsuccessfully.  We hatched a plan to finally get this unsightly mess out of our view: 1) get someone from the basement level to complain; 2) subsequently lodge three separate requests to have it removed; 3) picket until action is taken.  I'll keep you posted.

-Profession: Hair Stylist

-Favorite online search engine: Google

-Who would win a volleyball game: a team of barbers or a team of hair stylists?:  Hair stylists because barbers are like 150 years old and are slow.

-If you, Tom, enjoyed Marshmallow Peeps, what would that make you?:  A nauseated Peeping Tom

-Rapid Reax:
A head of well-groomed hair: nice...
A single hair baked in an oatmeal cookie: it's probably mine

April 23: Gnome Garden Statue

Monday, April 23, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 10:47 PM
Given to Libby from Jackie.

Jackie's mom likes to take her gnome when she goes on vacation and she will take a photo of it in recognizable tourist locales.  That prompted Jackie to buy not one (for the gift exchange), but two gnomes so she could keep one for herself.  However, she didn't think Libby would be able to cart this one around in the same manner her mother does because it's a fair size larger.  Oddly, she asked me if I could "roll the gnome around" in my garden dirt to make it look as if it came from her garden.  Obviously, she's learned how to plant false evidence by watching a little too much CSI: NY.

It didn't take long for Libby to grow attached to her new little friend.  Just seconds after setting it on the bar top, she was attempting to have it sip her beer.

Libby's in a price war with Hormel
-Profession: College Admissions

-Favorite last name seen on an Admissions application: Goodlife

-What quantity of Libby's canned pumpkin puree do you have in your pantry?:  None!  But I was in the store the other day and convinced a woman to buy it when I told her I made it.

-You just got engaged two days ago.  Does this take the pressure of being on the 'Kiss Cam' at major sporting events?:  Yes, I'm not worried anymore.

-Does your gift make you less/more inclined to do your hotel and flight shopping on Travelocity?:  No bearing...well, okay, it's motivating me slightly to go there.

April 22: Old Geezer Hearing Aid

Sunday, April 22, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 9:38 PM
Given to Jackie from Lisa.

Most people born around Christmas think that they have it the worst when it comes to birthdays.  They feel that they get overlooked and don't get their fair share of desserts and presents.  Well, I'd like to tell all those December and January crybabies what it's like to have a birthday on Earth Day.  Growing up, most people wouldn't give me a remote-controlled car or a baseball mitt or video games--stuff kids want.  No, I got pine trees and ferns and bags of mulch for my birthday.  There's a whole grove of mature trees in my parents' yard that shields them from neighbor Bill in the back.  So I guess people were just buying my parents gifts all these years.

-Profession: English teacher

-Favorite adverb: quickly (because most people use 'fast' as an adverb)

-Using your favorite adverb, create a sentence with your name in it: Jackie quickly thought of the perfect white elephant gift to give to the next person.

-Do you grade your husband on an A to F scale on his household chores?:  No, I don't.  I use a 10-point scale for him, movies and books.

-Where is the breaking point in the school year when teaching turns into movie watching?:  Never.  But it seems that social studies is at their breaking point all the time.

April 21: Hand-made origami rose and Hand-knitted Amazon Kindle cover

Posted by 366 White Elephants at 1:02 AM
Given to Lisa from Patricia.
I wonder how Seal would feel about being
'kissed by an origami rose'
Watching Columbo growing up--and one episode in particular--made me confident in talking with anyone from the medical profession.  In the episode A Stitch in Crime featuring guest star Leonard Nimoy, Columbo solves the murder by figuring out that the doctor (Nimoy) used dissolving suture during a heart operation.  The dissolving suture was dyed to look like permanent suture and everyone was fooled by the well-concealed murder, except Columbo of course.  With the knowledge of suture in hand, I chatted up Lisa's colleague, Kat, about which kind of suture they use on patients.  Needless to say, I looked like House once the conversation ended (in about 20 seconds).  

Room to spare in her limbo dance
-Profession: Nurse

-Favorite kind of painting: Finger

-Do you use a catheter if you're feeling lazy and don't want get up in the middle of the night?:  I can't say that I do.

-When unsolicitedly trying to help your friends out, do they say you 'needle' them?:  No, they don't as far as I know.

-Have you ever put on a Naughty Nurse outfit?:  Yes, but the details aren't fit for print.

April 20: "Nuts on Clark" chocolate covered pretzels and banana chips

Friday, April 20, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 2:32 PM
Given to Patricia from Christina.
Two sacks from "Nuts on Clark"
Clearly, even if you were the most sheltered person in the world, you'd know that "Nuts on Clark" was not simply the location of a delicious chocolate, convection, popcorn and nut shop in Chicago on Clark Street, but a euphemism for something else.  Possibly even something that you shouldn't discuss in mixed company.  The nice thing is that "Nuts on Clark" has several locations in the Chicago area.

-"Nuts at O'Hare": that's just what the ladies like--some hairy nuts
-"Nuts at Midway": anatomically that's about right
-"Nuts at Soldier Field": use your cups, boys
-"Nuts at Union Train Station": major metropolitan area + public transportation = some crazies

Does not have a Clark in her life
to be nuts about
-Profession: Student

-Favorite brand of gum: Stride flavor-changing gum

-The 1990 U.S. Census said that Patricia was the second most popular female name.  What was the 3rd most popular?:  Emily

-If you were a patrician (aristocrat) in Ancient Roman times, what would be your indulgence?:  Honey wine and grapes.

-Do you have any interesting scars?:  Yes, I have a lightning bolt scar!  And I also met Daniel Radcliffe and got his autograph from a chance encounter in New York.

April 19: Walker & Associates Jumpdrive

Thursday, April 19, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 11:57 PM
Given to Christina from Jesse.

Part I: See yesterday's story.

Part II: Jesse gives me the jumpdrive.  His only request was that I delete whatever files were on it.  Of course, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to see what the files were.  Here's what I found:

-recipe for gazpacho soup
-several archived pages of ESPN Deportes
-flyer for 2009 Contra Costa Oktoberfest
-folder containing 113 pictures of eyeglass frames

When I presented Christina with her prezzie, she said, "Well, it's at least something useful and I won't have to throw it away."

-Profession: Fundraiser

-Favorite hotel chain: Starwood

-You're Greek.  If you are totally confused by something, are you able to get away with saying, "It's all Greek to me"?:  No, I don't say that.  I consider myself more Eastern European or Mediterranean anyway.

-When you're buying gas, how often do you feel pressured to buy the car wash the stations prompt you to buy?:  I used to from time to time when I felt guilty on how dirty my car was.  The last time I got my car washed at a station was in 2004 when the car wash ripped off the sideview mirror.

-With your job in fundraising, can you take any lessons on what the Girl Scouts can do to improve your success?:  If we gave think Thin Mints out, I'd have much better clients.

April 18: Case Western Reserve University swag

Posted by 366 White Elephants at 1:00 AM
Given to Jesse from Nandini.
Clockwise from bottom left: reusable lunch bag, cup,
pink drawstring bag, frisbee, 3 pencils, girls engineering t-shirt,
and bag clip
Part I:

I'm flying home from San Francisco and I've got too many bags around my seat and I'm cramped.  The flight attendant walks by me and I tell her I have a question.  She gives me some snarky response and I tell her I will give her a fine local Bay chocolate if she can guess what I want within two guesses.  I told her she can ask me for a couple of hints, but that's all.  She says she doesn't like chocolate.  I say "Take my hummus and pretzel dip".  She doesn't like that either.  Meanwhile, Jesse--who I don't know at this point--is sitting across the aisle from me laughing at the interchange.

I offer her a hand-crafted limerick instead.  She accepts the challenge, but ultimately does not guess my question.  She does take my backpack and put it up in the front of the plane with the rest of the crew's belongings.  The flight continues and we all go about our business.

Toward the end of the flight, I think about how nice the flight attendant was and decide to write her a limerick.  I ask Jesse for a pen.  I write the limerick and give it to the flight attendant, which they both find amusing.  I thought Jesse was nice enough to let me borrow his pen, so I figure I should do something nice for him in return.  I rip off the one side of a Moleskine instruction book that had some blank space to write on.  The opposite side had some German writing.  Since I know German, I thought I would give him three random German phrases and their definitions.  I hand them to him and he says "I know German.  These are great".  I remember one being "Could you refresh my pillowcase?"

We talk some more and Jesse wants to be a part of my blog.  He reaches into his bag and--presto!--pulls out a gift, which I'll give to the next recipient.

Doesn't wear shoes because he likes
showing off his pedicure
-Profession: Sales

-Favorite kind of shoe:  I prefer not to wear shoes if I can get away with it.

-If you could plan an afternoon picnic with either Ice Cube or Ice T, who would you pick?:  I'm a West Coast guy, so it would have to be Ice Cube.  He's in my generation, too.

-Since you travel so much for your job, what differences (i.e. perks) have you noticed between the airlines?:  They are pretty much all the same now.  In the old days, you used to have to ask to get upgraded with the exception of Northwest (they automatically upgraded you).  Now they all do that.  Once in a while, if you are nice to the flight attendants, they will comp you.  But that's more of a personal thing than with the company.

-What % of the flight safety instructions do you have committed to memory?:  100%.  I have heard that speech so many times, I could give it to myself.

April 17: Indiana Jones trick-or-treat bag, Little Rascals DVD set, Bone Screw, and Miniature Bluebird of Happiness

Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 1:33 AM
Given to Nandini from Mike.
Nandini didn't get screwed by this gift pack
Mike may be a fine orthopedic surgeon, but I've got a partially-raised eyebrow on his gift-buying skills.  He said he bought the Little Rascals DVD because he just wanted to see if he could find it and buy it online (case closed).  The Indiana Jones bag was another kind of 'just 'cuz I can buy it I will' kind of gift.  The bluebird of happiness, he thought, was supposed to be like 400x larger than what he ordered.  From the picture, see if you can spy that little blue dot on the tan bag. But even he was like 'wtf, man, this is small'.  And the bone screw was taken from a patient from an operation earlier in the day.  Juuuussst kidding.

Keeps her socks on so she can go
dancing in the dark
-Profession: Dentist-in-training

-Favorite computer app: Pandora

-'Nandini' is the name of a wish-granting cow in Hindu mythology.  What three wishes would you want granted?:  1) Contentment for my family; 2) Be the head of the Center for Disease Control; 3) be a superwoman who can run a house and be the head of a household and do it all great!

-You enjoy food and food blogs.  Give me your food review of an Oreo cookie:
I appreciate the way the two textures work in concert with each other--the crispiness of the chocolate cookie contrasted with the delicacy of the creme filling.  I do recommend to break the cookie when eating it.  I usually only eat the cookie part and dunk in milk--that part is certainly the most delicate.

-A fun fact about you is that you sleep with your socks on.  What would happen if someone pulled one off while you were sleeping?:  I would be mad as hell.  But I likely wouldn't notice.  But if I do get disturbed, it would not be a good day for that person.  And then I would have to get another sock because I couldn't stand the inequality on my feet.

April 16: Rent CD set

Monday, April 16, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 10:11 PM
Given to Mike from Jamie Jo.

Let me tell you about two universal, unstated rules between men--one of which was observed today between me and Mike.  Here's one, but it did not occur tonight: The bathroom.  If you go into a public bathroom with two urinals and one is occupied, you DO NOT go to the urinal next to the one being used, unless you're about to pass a kidney stone.  Otherwise, your options are to go into the stall or politely wash your hands until user #1 is finished doing his business.

Here's the second rule and the one observed this evening: a guy DOES NOT overly express interest in showtunes or Broadway musicals.  Mike pulled this off well tonight, so well in fact that I didn't know if he was just being polite at receiving a gift or if he really liked Rent and was toning his enthusiasm down. If a guy catches you humming/singing anything close to a musical tune, just look at him (you can continue to hum) and ask if he wants to do some arm curls.  It works.

You probably don't want to tell your significant other about this either.  However, the tactics to escape differ.  If your significant other asks you, "What are you singing?", your automatic reply (and you should stop humming) is "Oh a song from that Snow Patrol (fill in the Mad Lib musician name) concert I'm taking you to next month."  Works every time.

-Profession: Orthopedic surgeon

-Favorite household cleaner: Goo Gone

-What advice do you give patients about using elbow grease?:  I say use as much as possible.

-Do comedians and improvisors have larger funny bones than the rest of the population?:  Yes and they're more flexible and less likely to break.

-How fast do you think you could change a tire?:  About 7 seconds.  That will be the amount of time it will take me to Google "AAA" on my smart phone.

April 15: Trippin' Ashtray

Posted by 366 White Elephants at 12:05 AM
Given to Jamie Jo from Ray.
 The Raisin Bran sun's misguided step-brother
Some people say that kissing a smoker is like kissing an ashtray.  Whenever I hear someone say this, I really want to kiss a smoker to see if this adage is true.  I also think back to second grade when our class was going to make our First Communion.  Everyone wanted to know what the wafer tasted like and the teacher said it tasted "like cardboard".  Now, I'd like to meet the people who go around kissing ashtrays and eating cardboard.  Who dreams this stuff up?  That'd be like saying "Hugging a juggler is like eating Pop Tarts with Betty White."  I've got nothing against jugglers, but I've never hugged one (at least, to my knowledge), so I'm imagining that hugging one would be like eating a tasty toaster pastry with one of America's acting jewels.  Probably be fun, maybe a surprise somewhere in there.  It'd be hot because the filling inside a Pop Tart gets steamy and I would think after all that juggling the person might be a little warm and sweaty.

She either got a good-sized booger
or is about to fingerpaint.
Jamie Jo
-Profession: Paralegal

-Favorite portable electronic device: iPod

-Any similarities between a paralegal and a paratrooper?:  They both know how to jump out of high-flying objects and know how to prepare legal documents [for a law office, signing their life insurance waiver, respectively]

-Your hyphenated last name [maiden name is 10 characters, married name is 8] doesn't fit on any credit card applications.  What do you do?:  I haven't filled out a credit card application since I've been married.  But for prior credit cards, even my maiden name doesn't fit!

-Green Lantern was a terrible movie.  Does it make Ryan Reynolds any less hot?:  Not in the slightest.

April 14: "Apocalypse-ready" TV, Rama & Shinta figurines, and Mystic River DVD

Sunday, April 15, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 12:34 AM
Given to Ray from Chris.

When Chris presented me with these gifts yesterday, there was an accompanying short story with each.

"Apocalypse-ready" TV:  His mom bought this analog-only TV (the reason why it will survive the apocalypse) 30 days before the conversation of all TV signals from analog to digital.  She had to buy it because it was "a good sale".  In her defense, you could plug a camera or DVD player into it as it had the right number of ports, but Ray measured the screen size and found that his cell phone display was significantly bigger than the screen size of the TV.  "What am I going to do--plug the Playstation into it?" asks Ray.

Rama & Shinta figurines:  The Asian version of Ren & Stimpy, these belonged to an engineering professor (that Chris worked for) who was cleaning out his office.  He did not have the need for nor want to pack these Indonesian-made figurines with him to Hong Kong where is moving.

Mystic River DVD: Chris bought this in 2003 for no good reason, he says, and never watched it.  He admitted that when he was ill or bored, he would look at this DVD and opted to view something else.  It's never been opened.  Time to unwrap some Kevin Bacon!

-Profession: Counselor

-Favorite branch of government: Judicial

-Which best describes you and why: x-ray, sun ray or manta ray?:  Sun ray because I hopefully can illuminate something.

-How many times have you wished you could have told someone to "take two pills and call me in the morning"?:  A few times.  It's a metaphor for "shut up".

-What's the appeal of being homeless?: Freedom

April 13: Two Decorative Picture Frames

Saturday, April 14, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 12:38 AM
Given to Chris from Kali.
It's a bizarro universe: see me framed in the one on the right?
Some bad frame jokes to use at your next awkward social gathering:

Frame 1: You're looking fit, Reggie.  What's your secret?
Frame 2: Oh nothing big...just a little shadowboxing.

Frame 1: I've been waiting for you since 2 o'clock.  Where have you been?
Frame 2: Sorry!  I got hung up at the office.

Frame 1: Oh my gosh!  You're completely filthy!
Frame 2: Yeah, if I only had a mat...

0% chance he'll be named
"Bobbi Roberts" in the future
-Profession: Research Assistant

-Favorite Industrial Revolution invention: Chemical Battery

-Tell me the funkiness that's going on with your name.  Your full name is Robert Roberts?:  Yes, I go by Chris.  If I went by my full name--Robert Philmore Roberts III, that would have been much more sweater vested.  My names actually indicate where I was in life.  In college, peopled called me Bob Bobs and still do.  Now, I'm Chris Roberts.  I've been publishing under Robert Roberts, so people will know me by that name.

-You're publishing academic papers now, but you've always had a back-up plan in case school didn't work out for you?:  Yes, when I was in my Master's program, I had a truck driving license.  I knew I could always do that.  When I was getting my PhD, I said if this didn't work out, I'd be a river guide in West Virginia.  My goal is to be an inventor; my back up plan there is high school teacher and/or carpenter's apprentice.

-I understand your family owns a llama farm?: Yeah, my dad's a doc and my mom loved animals.  One day when I was growing up, my dad was watching football on t.v. and my mom threatened to buy something that she wanted.  My dad shrugged it off and said "Whatever".  Well, my mom bought a llama and we ended up having several of them.

My mom would make blankets and scarves with their wool.  And...the llamas liked bread as a treat.

April 12: Bud vase

Friday, April 13, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 12:53 AM
Given to Kali from LeeAnn.
This is the kind of gift that women
ooh and ahh over at baby showers
Is there anyone out there who immediately loses respect for anything or anyone named Bud?  If you've seen Gilligan's Island, wouldn't it completely alter the show if Thurston Howell III was Thurston "Bud" Howell III?  In reverse, would Bud Bundy be as memorable a character on Married With Children if his name was Steven Bundy?  No way, Jose.

Okay, so you're ordering a beer and say you want a "Bud".  I've got nothing against people wanting to pay $5 for a 16 oz glass of water, but that's why people order Pellegrinos because it sounds better and fancier.  Does anyone want a baseball commissioner named Bud?  And who would want to live in Bud, Wisconsin?  If I lived there, I might gather the required 2000 signatures to put a name change of Lake Meadows on the ballot in the fall.

In response to today's gift, give me a tree vase or flower pot.  But none of this bud vase garbage.

Looks like the guy in the background
should be doing sit-down comedy...
and choosing another pant color.
-Profession: Stand-up Comedian; Patient Advocate

-Favorite kind of bear: Black bear

-What kind of people call California 'Cali'?:  Douche bags.  Some people when they hear my name say, "oh, yeah, like the state, huh?".  Some guy last year made up a song to Katy Perry's California song using my name in the lyrics.  Yeah...

-What would sit-down comedy be like?:  More like story-telling, which is what I like to do.  Interestingly, I don't like to stand in other contexts--for instance, waiting in line.  I wouldn't give my seat up on the bus because I dislike standing that much.

-When you knit someone a scarf, do you choose wool to keep the person's neck warm or do you avoid wool so the wearer is less itchy?:  I use the cheapest wool, so they're itchy.  I put in weeks of time knitting a scarf, so I hope they like me enough to put up with some itching.

April 11: "Go Green" Kit

Wednesday, April 11, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 11:09 PM
Given to LeeAnn from Anya.

Anya's "Go Green" kit is a reusable grocery bag from Save-A-Lot stores, along with a freezable green glass with three green plastic shot glasses and a can of Guinness.  She apologized that no Bailey's was included, so LeeAnn will have to go find some if she desires to do any Irish car bombs.  However, LeeAnn is German and is adamant about only drinking Jaegermeister.

I've never done a shot of anything in my life, but whenever I hear of someone doing or wanting to do shots, I think of this guy I went to college with who did Apple Pucker shots on his 21st birthday.  No way to slice that one any other way than 'yuck'.

There's a freedom in her arms
-Profession: Massotherapist; Barista

-Favorite scent of massage oil: Lavender

-How much do you think you have in common with LeAnn Rimes?:  I bet we both eat hamburgers and both like nail polish.

-What's the most random thing you've thought of when pulling espresso shots?:  Did I push the right button?  Was it decaf or regular?  Shoot.

-Finish this thought:  Give me porter, give me stout...: I sure love it, that ain't no doubt.

April 10: Leg Pedaler

Tuesday, April 10, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 10:58 PM
Given to Anya from Sande.

I have no idea what to call this thing.  As you might imagine, you place this device near your feet and then place your feet in the straps and start pedaling.  It's not only weird because other stationary bikes I've seen have a seat or handles and that kind of thing, but also because there's no torque when you pedal.  You can't vary the strength of resistance.  You could pedal for 5 hours and probably burn 19 calories, I'm guessing.

If I could, I'd give this to my friend Mike, who I see at the gym pedaling on the stationary bikes for long periods of time.  He always has a cheap paperback novel he's reading, usually a poor man's version of The Firm.  But I also feel okay making the exchange with Anya because 1) she doesn't have a TV, so she'll be reading and pedaling like Mike (because she wants to be like Mike); and 2) her boyfriend told me that she has developed a leg cramp while driving, so this may work that bugger out of her leg.  Yay!

-Profession: Community Development; Grad student

-Favorite racket sport: Tennis

-Is there any part of your life where you feel like you're pedaling and not going anywhere?:  Yes, in my current grad program.  I'm not learning anything and neither is anyone else.

-Do you listen to Enya?:  Occasionally.  But I don't like when people call me that.  I will sing to the song she sang in Lord of the Rings.  I pretend that I like that and can sing like that.

-A while ago, I was walking out with you and your boyfriend to a parking lot when another gentlemen thought I was with you and said, "You've done good for yourself, son."  At that moment, you thought which of the following?:
A) Corey (my bf) has done good, get it right!
B) I'm helping boost Dan's profile, aww yeah
C) Why, hello...
D) _________

I'll take D.  I was wondering if he just liked me or my car or did he like that I was picking people up?  I have no idea.

April 9: Canvas Owl Sling Bag

Posted by 366 White Elephants at 12:17 AM
Given to Sande from Melissa.
"How many bags does it take to get to the center?"
The committee of one at the Great White Elephant Exchange learned a little something about bags today.  I was originally going to call this a messenger bag, but it would be more apt to call it a sling bag.  A sling bag is a type of handbag that rests on the low back and worn over one shoulder with a strap that winds around the chest.  A messenger bag is a bit more heavy duty with more compartments and buckles and snaps and that kind of thing; bike messengers use them today as did riders in the Pony Express.  You wouldn't call this a satchel either as a satchel, though similar, is used predominately for carrying books.  This little nipper could carry a sandwich and hand cream and still make you look classy.

Former employer has dedicated
snade unit
-Profession: Retired Banking Professional

-Favorite kind of juice: Cranberry

-Are you ever confused when people talk about sand wedges or sandwiches?:  Confusion has not arisen--yet.  Although they both go well on the golf course.

-Why is your name spelled with an 'e' instead of a 'y'?:  There were a lot of girls named Sandy growing up and my mom wanted to name me something that would be a little different from everyone else.

-Take the letters of your name and come up with a new word and its definition: Snade- someone who behaves in a dishonest way or criminal manner

April 8: College Survival Kit

Sunday, April 8, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 3:31 PM
Given to Melissa from Anna.

There's a logic here that I've been instructed to explain about Melissa's gift, courtesy of Anna.

The Ramen is a college student's staple and is included without question.  As you roll into the early-evening, enjoy the Nature Valley granola bar as a snack.  When you and your peeps start the pre-party, enjoy this delicious, thirst-quenching Natty Light, along with a shot of whatever from your Delta Tau Delta shot glass.  The next morning, as you crawl out of bed, sip on some Gatorade to get rehydrated and eat the oatmeal to get back on your feet.  Then use the 5-hour energy in the mid-afternoon to perk up for all the last-minute Sunday studying.

Her pies turnout just 'okay' when
making them on one leg
-Profession: Social worker; Policy Coordinator

-Favorite computer accessory: Scanner/Copier Duo

-You're a self-described 'excellent pie maker'.  Are yours even better than an Amish roadside one?:  They're way better.  I don't use lard, which is gross.  I even will pick the fruit myself.  I make a tasty fruit pie.

-When you had a factory job in college, how did you end up passing the time?:  I learned to stand on one leg for 3 hours at a time.  I was making baby bottle nipples and car parts and I had to find some way to entertain myself.

-In talking with strangers on the street, has anyone every asked you for money?:  I will talk with whomever.  I say hello to people as I pass them.  One time I passed this guy and said hello and he asked me if I had any money.  I told him I didn't.  He then asked me if I need money for the bus.

April 7: Half-Marathon Running shirt and 4 Hammer Gel Energy Packs

Saturday, April 7, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 6:36 PM
Given to Anna from Sally.

Some flavors just shouldn't be made for running gel packs.  In case anyone out there is unaware, runners will slurp down one of these packs during their race to get the nutrients they need to continue on.

Here are the flavors deemed "okay" for consumption: Orange, Raspberry, Tropical, Montana Huckleberry
Aside from Montana Huckleberry, which sounds like a stripper you'd want to avoid, you could conceivably buy the rest in sports drink flavors.

Here are the flavors deemed "no thank you":
-Vanilla, Chocolate- If they have these, then where's butterscotch?  I bet you just gagged.
-Espresso- Provide me with a copy of The Times and the background of inane conversation on how your boyfriend's cheating on you, and this gets moved into the "nausea" category.
-Banana- I only eat plantains.
-Apple Cinnamon- I'm sweating like a hog with 10K to go and the last thing I'm hankering for is something like a Baker's Square delight.

-Profession: College student

8th most photographed
bridge in the U.S.
-Favorite kind of bridge: My cable-stay steel bridge I just made

-As a soccer player, do you feel a little slighted that nature and science programs refer to vast distances only in football fields?  What about measuring the distance from the Earth to Venus in soccer fields or tennis courts?:  I'm okay with it.  I like watching football better than I do soccer.  Plus, soccer fields can vary in size.

-Anna, Ohio was home to what:
A) largest earthquake in the state
B) first ultimate frisbee competition
C) Cribbage history museum

Anna: I think it's C
Dan: No, it's actually A
Anna: What?  NO way!

-Within 4, how many times have people called you 'Anna Banana'?:  Thousands of times!  I don't like bananas [and presumably the gel packs], so I don't like it when people call me that.  It's okay when my gym teacher does or this cashier at the supermarket, since both of them are named Anna.

April 6: Chia Obama

Friday, April 6, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 11:02 PM
Given to Sally from Greg.
All 'W' got was a toilet scrubber
Back in mid-December, I was finishing up a game of 33 (basketball game) with my friends Devin and Mike.  I managed to win all three games we played, putting on a shooting clinic in the process.  As we were stretching afterward, I was telling them about my diabolical idea for the blog.  Devin said he would do it only if two girls stretching near us--who we all didn't know--would do it.  Polling sane people, he thought, would be a good way to gauge the appeal of such a project.  They came over, listened to my idea and said they would do it; however, I didn't get their sign-up at that time.  Devin immediately signed up for a date, looking as though I had just posterized him with a tomahawk dunk.

I hadn't seen Sally for a couple of months until spotting her at the gym in late-February.  She asked me how my blog was coming along.  Well, right then and there, I got a date for her exchange which was today!

Random fact: Sally's super embarrassed to admit this, but she likes to see the vacuum lines in her carpeting.

Writes about Robert Blackwell's
bumps in red ink
-Profession: Accountant

-Favorite gossip magazine: People because it's the most true.

-Long Tall Sally was a song written by Robert "Bumps" Blackwell.  What do you think the bumps are?:  Some body bumps--a butt or something.

-Originally from Erie, PA where you got tons and tons of snow each winter, you now live in Cleveland where people just wine about how much snow they get (it's about half as much as Erie).  How do you feel about that?:  From grades K-12, I never had a day off due to bad weather.  They allotted for snow days, but used them in the spring to give us long weekends.  I never understood why they just didn't use them when they needed to!

-I get confused.  What's the bad one--being in the black or the red?:  Red's bad.  I only use my red pen to make corrections on something, but at no other time.  I'd rather write in purple or green.