May 31: "What's Your Poo Telling You?" Book

Thursday, May 31, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 11:55 PM
Given to Nicole from Mike.
Title originally came from high school ACT
essay question
This book written by doctors is a guide to help people identify what kind of poo they are, umm, putting forth in the world.  The descriptions, I should add, are true to life.  Without going into specifics, I like all of the descriptions, but Deja Poo is my favorite, mostly because they used a French word to talk about poo.

In terms of figuring out what their poo said about them, a few years ago, I remember waiting around the Cleveland Cavaliers home locker room along with some fellow staff members as the media tried to snag quotes from players prior to that evening's tip-off.  I vividly recall power forward Carlos Boozer, now with the Chicago Bulls, exiting the bathroom and advising anyone within earshot to "not go in there".

I also got some great coaching advice from a guy named Kenny Fisher and I'd like to pass it along.  A lot of times the athletes we coached would tense up and get anxious before competition.   He would tell them that being successful on the field was like taking a really good dump.  You know, the kind where you just let go and let it happen and didn't think about it a whole lot.  I'd like to give a personal shout out to Kenny for coaxing some personal bests out of our athletes and for distilling Deepak Chopra down to a level I can understand.

Hopes to have a synchronized poo
with Carl Winslow fans
Nicole
-Profession: Actress

-Favorite former password: fart77
This is so ironic you asking me this!  Back when AOL was first around, my mom was trying to use it, but got confused.  I had to pick out her password, which I made 'fart55' with the 55 being the year she was born.  Our family thought it was funny, so my sister made hers 'fart80'.  I was born in '78, but I didn't want them to know my password, so I made it 'fart77'.

I used that password for everything, including my MacBook.  One day, my computer crashes and I have to take it to the Genius Bar.  The guy asked me to write down my password, which I asked if I really had to.  I pushed the paper back to him on the counter and he gave me this super weird look.  Then like four people walked by and saw it.  It was so embarrassing.

-Nicole Maris was a character in the 1999 film Drive Me Crazy.  What do you think would make me crazy?:  Gum smacking

-As a former synchronized swimmer, if you jiggled your ankle, would everyone have to jiggle their ankle, too?:  Yeah, if it was part of the routine and in time.

-You claim to have a Carl Winslow, a character in Family Matters, conversation with someone random every two to three months.  Have you thought about inviting a person over to watch a re-run and snack on some Tostitos Rounds and Minute Maid Lemonade?:  Maybe I should do that next time.  I bring it up with the person how odd it is.  And those people say they have the same experience.

May 30: Muy Caliente mug and "100 Leos: Wit and Wisdom from Leo Burnett"

Posted by 366 White Elephants at 2:08 AM
Given to Mike from Karen.
I'm getting this mug's design tattooed on my left butt cheek
Let me tell you about the day I lost control of any family decision making.  It was 1992.  My brother and I  were friends with the Haas brothers, whom we often traded sports trading cards with--predominately baseball, but also some football and, toward the later years of our collecting, a little basketball.  It was sometime in July of that year when it was only my friend Mike and me who got together for the trading, while brother Mike and his friend Steve went to an amusement park.

I'll spare you the blow-by-blow of the afternoon's proposed trades, but I ended up trading our Topps Jerry Rice rookie card for something like Paul Molitor's Topps rookie trio card and a bunch of prospect rookie cards, including Yankee's third basemen Mike Blowers, who I thought was going to be the next Don Mattingly.  Well, that trade didn't sit well with any of us Hatfields and it set off this painstakingly long series of re-trades to get back the Jerry Rice rookie card.  It got so bad, Mike had to offer one of his prized Atlanta Braves star Steve Avery signed cards to sweeten the pot enough for the Haas brothers to bite.

The gifts: The mug should be self-explanatory, but for all of you non-Spanish speakers out there, 'muy caliente' means 'witch's tit' in English.  And the book is by Leo Burnett, founder of the famed advertising firm, where he offers his own personal Lamaze tips.

Mike
-Profession: Marketing Analytics

-Favorite last name of someone you know: Eagleeye-Lord

-Do you think anyone feels left out (i.e. three wise men, hotel inn keeper) that they don't have their own or get included in the curse "Jesus, Mary and Joseph--three good people"?:  They get enough publicity already, so I wouldn't worry about them.

-I'm taller, but you're older.  Who should really make the family decisions?:  Me because you have no frame of reference for the critical years 1976 to 1980.

-Outside of Hall & Oates, is there another more well-loved tandem than us?:  Probably the Bash Brothers of Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire.  And somedays, like them, I don't think we're related.

May 29: "Where's Waldo?" book

Wednesday, May 30, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 12:52 AM
Given to Karen from Emily.
The "Eye-Boggling Extras" is a
Martin Handford center pictorial
If, and that's a big if, Karen and I decide to get married, I've already got "our" song picked out.  The Chicago hit "You're the Inspiration" kept running through my head today as Karen and I enjoyed a clubbish lunch in a spot overlooking the Chicago River.

Why you ask?  Karen is the creator of the fabulous blog "Karen on Deck", in which she sent out 52 playing cards last year to various people and asked each to write on the back of each card a suggestion on an activity that she should do per week.  I'm not going to summarize her whole year--so check out her site--but she vaulted to #2 on my All-Time Rad List with this project.  When a co-worker showed it to me, it inspired me to do a fun project (the blog you're reading now) in 2012.  The rest is history.

Back to our relationship for the whole world to know about.  I don't think I could impulsively marry her.  I'd like to buy a fern to see if we could be good "fern parents" for an entire year--helping it grow, watering and fertilizing it, and making sure we provided a good home for it with enough CO2.  And probably the more critical test is to see if she can shave my stubbly beard growth with a straight blade to make it smooth like Kenny G's records.

Wouldn't let me get to second base
Karen
-Profession: Advertising Account Manager

-Favorite cake decoration: Small block letters that spell out "Happy Birthday"

-After committing a flagrant foul against an opponent in CYO basketball, did you immediately say "God Bless You"?:  No, shockingly.  I did say something like "I don't know what came over me, but I'm going to confession on Tuesday."

-Your fun party trick is that you can stand and walk on your hands.
*Do you wear finger socks?:  Only when I'm on concrete or when it's raining
*How many beers have you won through bets?: 8.5

-There are so many sayings about how life is like golf.  Given your fondness for ping-pong, come up with a metaphor about life through that:  Life is like a game of ping-pong--either you're good at it or you're not.

May 28: Emergency Drop-Down Oxygen Mask and Airline Demonstration Seatbelt

Monday, May 28, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 11:51 PM
Given to Emily from Breezy.

Secure yours first before helping your neighbor,
then wait for the beverage service
Picking up the story from yesterday, Breezy covertly handed me these two items as we made our descent, which I shoved quickly into my Jansport backpack.  I looked around to see if anyone noticed, but it appeared most everyone was either apathetic or in a Dramamine-enduced haze.

In all seriousness, don't you think it would be fair and fun if the airlines randomly simulated a water landing so people could try their seats out as flotation devices?  Now that the warm weather is coming, instead of buying pastel-colored noodles for the pool, I'd like to get my hands on some airline seats so I can bob up and down on them while I even out my farmer's tan.

I also think a water slide landing if it's your birthday might be a nice gesture.  The gym I belong to gives members a free 10-minute hydromassage when they work out on their birthday and Starbucks gives me a free drink.  If my requests to the airlines seem outlandish, then my final and most heartfelt suggestion is, if it is your birthday, making the forward lavatory your personal one, sending everyone else to the back.


11 pillows would be a total sham
Emily
-Profession: Market Researcher

-Favorite marathon recovery drink flavor: Lemon-Lime

-In college when you were on study abroad in London. Did you ever try out your English accent to see how good it was?:  No, I didn't.  But I imitated people after I talked with someone.  That was fun.  I also learned to use the words 'straight away' in place of 'right away'.

-In your spare time, you like to do interior decorating.  How many pillows is too many for a bed?:  Above 10 is too many.

-You're getting married in 6 months.  Do you have a different name for a bride gone wild than a Bridezilla?:  Bridesmanian Devil comes to mind.  Or Bride Hulk.

May 27: 2010 John Deere Tractor-A-Day Calendar

Sunday, May 27, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 12:31 PM
Given to Breezy from Ahmet.
It would really suck if he got a Dear John letter
A couple of months ago, I was traveling to San Francisco and had done all of my gift exchanges there and miles away from my home base.  When chatting with a fellow passenger across the aisle, I told him of my gift exchange and he asked to participate right then and there by handing over a jump drive from his work bag, wondering if it would suffice as a legitimate gift.  It did.

Not wanting to be left out of the action was the flight attendant Breezy.  As a summa cum laude graduate of the School of Sass and Fast Quips, Breezy knelt down between us and wondered what kind of shenanigans we were up to.  When informed of the project and offered a subsequent invitation to join in, Breezy darted up to the front of the plane and came back with her white elephant gifts, which you will see tomorrow.

The 2010 John Deere calendar will be good again in the following years: 2021, 2027, 2038, 2049, 2055, 2066, 2077, 2083, 2094, and 2100 and many more!

Has spent a total of 14 months of her
life saying "Peanuts?"
Breezy
-Profession: Flight Attendant

-Favorite DVD button: Pause because I'm a girl and I have things to do

-Was Breezy your birth name or and one you got from your work?:  It was one from work because I'm breezy--light and easy-going.

-Are you only able to eat small pretzels?:  They are the only size I can eat.  It's a job requirement.

-How many crass jokes have you made with co-workers about items being left in the upright and locked position?:  The upright and locked references are my favorite part of the in-flight safety video.  But with the airline I work for, I prefer the "too cool" unbuttoned shirt with no tie look and the guy not running the airline from a skyscraper office.  Really?

BONUS: TWO BREEZY JOKES
1) How was copper wire invented?
-By two pilots fighting over a penny!

2) How do you get a pilot out of your hotel room?  
-By throwing a newspaper in the hallway!

May 26: African pagne material and Vintage Kerchief

Saturday, May 26, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 1:39 PM
Given to Ahmet from Sarah.
Turkish now has something to wear for next Saturday's
toga party
The African pagne material was brought back by Sarah once her Peace Corps experience in Togo, Africa was finished.  As she explains it, the material is used as a tablecloth, something you'd carry produce in, something you'd carry a baby in, what you'd wear when the weather turns a little cool--in other words, basically it was used for anything and the American equivalent of a cardboard refrigerator box.

I met up with Turkish this morning for the first time, chatting over coffee as we overlooked an indoor market.  The blog is becoming generational now.  He is a third generation gift exchanger--a friend of a friend of a friend.  I'm beginning to feel a little like Will Smith's character in Hitch and soon will have flowcharts lining my home office walls.

His smile was Photoshopped on
Ahmet (nickname Turkish)
-Profession: Biomechanical Engineer

-Favorite kind of cheese: Really stinky and oozy Brie

-What are the main differences between Turkish and Greek baklava and coffee?:  There's no difference between the coffee, except where you are ordering it.  The Greek baklava uses honey, but the Turkish one uses water, lemon juice and sugar to sweeten it.

-There's also the difference when talking about a giant hunk of sweating meat on a rotating cylindrical cone under heating lamps.  In the U.S., we call it a gyro.  In European countries, it's called a kebab or kebap.  You find nothing gut-turning about such a sight?:  Not at all.  I like it.  It cooks from the outside in, so you're always getting a crisp piece of meat.  It's a perfect, low-maintenance system.

-You were born in the ancient city of Troy.  Is anything in America 'old' to you?:  When something's close to you, you don't appreciate it.  I actually feel like I'm a tourist when I go back home to Turkey.

-You're our 12th bearded gift exchanger.  Are you jolly?:  I'm grumpy.  There is no jolliness in me.

May 25: A Happy Pocket Full of Money and The S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Approach DVDs

Friday, May 25, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 11:13 PM
Given to Sarah from JW.
Is that your pocket full of money
or are you just happy to see me?
Here are two of JW's projects--The SUCCESS Approach (sorry, I didn't have the patience to put all those periods in there a second time) is about autism.  And A Happy Pocket Full of Money was a project that grew out of a web book that JW found and narrated and turned into a kick-ass media sensation about how you can create your own wealth.  I've been investing heavily in trombone manufacturing over the last few years, but it might be time for me to reconsider that strategy.

Speaking of money, have you ever thought about what would happen to you if you got caught with a counterfeit bill?  You didn't make the bill, but say someone gives it to you because it's been in circulation and no one knew that it was counterfeit until you paid for something and someone checked it and found that it wasn't any good.  I've heard of news stories where the police will arrest someone for having such a bill.  Most people are so concerned about what they'll say to the police if they get pulled over for a speeding ticket, but they don't think about this.  I think use the same excuse that you have to use the bathroom really bad.

But if the police test you and say prove it, then you could get slapped with an additional public indecency citation, which is not good.  And if you're not peeing, then that's even worse because now you're a liar, too.  Maybe you should say you have a kidney stone!  Yes!  No one can argue with that and most people will give you that.  Yes!  Kidney stone is your excuse for speeding tickets, counterfeit money, breaking up, being late for Thanksgiving, the change in the seasons, and anything else you want to get out of and want sympathy for.

Sarah
-Profession: Non-profit administration

-Favorite balloon animal: Giraffe

-You'll be riding in a 'Critical Mass' bike race where hundreds of bikers will ride around the city en masse.  Are you worried about being kicked in the face?:  It's definitely a concern, yes.

-You speak fluent French.  Out of curiosity, do the French have the expression, "...that the Americans call a certain 'I don't know what'":  Je ne sais pas.

-When you're going out to a restaurant, at what number do you think the server should cap off the number of available salad dressing choices?:  7.  I feel the same way about shampoos and toothpastes.  There are too many choices.




May 24: Tony Packo's Autographable Hot Dog Bun, 3 Lottery Tickets, Ohio Lottery Cap and Travel Hand Sanitizer

Posted by 366 White Elephants at 12:18 AM
Given to JW from Sarah.

Plato said, "The measure of a man is what he does with power."

Later in life he wrote, "The measure of a film director is if he knows Kevin Bacon."

JW is a film director and I played the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game to see if he was really legit.  Turns out he is.  Here's the flow:

-JW Myers was in Flamingo Dreams with Terry Kiser.
-Terry Kiser was in See Jane Run with Eve Brenner.
-Eve Brenner was in Murder in the First with...Kevin Bacon.

He's also connected in another way:
-JW Myers was in Flamingo Dreams with Richard Moll.
-Richard Moll was in Liar's Moon with Matt Dillon.
-Matt Dillon was in Wild Things with...Kevin Bacon.

Potentially overshadowed in all of this is the Tony Packo's autographable hot dog bun.  Tony Packo's gained notoriety by its mention in several M*A*S*H episodes, signature sandwich, and large collection of hot dog buns signed by celebrities that adorn its walls.

Like his shortened namesake, JW is
only interested in films with minor
skirmishes
JW
-Profession: Film Director

-Favorite tune to hum: Sunshine of Your Life by Cream

-When you meet people for the first time, do you say, "Hi, I'm JW.  People call me John Wayne for long"?:  No, but I might use that now.  I'm named after my mother's dad's name, which was John and my father's dad's name, which was Wayne.

-What's your technique for picking out a good avocado at the supermarket?:  There's a softness-to-firmness ratio I'm cognizant of.  It has to be slightly soft, but not too soft.  A big factor is if I'm going home to make guacamole right away or if the avocado is going to sit around for three days.

-You were in Flamingo Dreams with Terry Kiser, who was also the star of the Weekend at Bernie's movies.  What would be your idea for the plot of Weekend at Bernie's III?:  Actually, Terry and I are best friends and he was in my wedding.  He has a script already.  He's going to be cryogenically frozen and carried around by a new set of people at the X Games.

May 23: Aqua Globes and Eucalyptus & Cucumber Candle

Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 11:15 PM
Given to Sarah from Paula.
The devices are actually sucking common
sense from your brain
Did you notice what just happened?  In case you hadn't, we just had a streak of 13 consecutive women gift exchangers.  Not that I'm complaining, mind you, but there was a lot less talk about beef jerky, power cleans, and man purses over the past two weeks.

Our old friends--As Seen on TV products--made their return via the Aqua Globes tonight.  In case you don't know how to water your plants, we have a product that's tailor-made for you.  I think I'm going to invent a mechanical taxi cab hailer and make that an As Seen on TV product.  Because I'm sure there are people out there who don't know how to raise their arm and drop it a couple of times to get a taxi driver's attention.

Would like to see the condiment
race turned into a graphic novel
Sarah
-Profession: Children's Librarian

-Favorite kind of whipped topping: Reddi Whip

-In 2003, Sarah ranked as one of the top five most popular names in Ireland.  Since you're so popular on the green isle, can you rank the top five ways you like to eat your potatoes:
5) Scalloped
4) Potato Skins
3) French Fries
2) Baked
1) Mashed

-What 'adult' topic would you like to see in children's literature format?:  50 Shades of Gray--the erotic fan fiction for Twilight

-You've been going to professional baseball games with your dad since you were a little kid, including going to the last home game in 14 years (and the past eight consecutive) of your life.  What condiment do you root for in the condiment race?:  Ketchup

-And what % of the time does Ketchup beat out Mustard and Onion?:  50%

May 22: Make-Your-Own Pirate Ship in a Bottle and Tangoes

Posted by 366 White Elephants at 12:47 AM
Given to Paula from Camille.
For an extra $7.99, you can get a case of scurvy
FYI Part 1: Tangoes is a game where you make patterns using triangles.  It is the predecessor to Tangrams.

FYI Part 2: In high school, I played the trumpet in the marching band.  During the fall of my junior year, we played a conference rival whose mascot was a pirate.  In our prior visits, I had dreamed of meeting the pirate and maybe sharing some lemonade and Rice Krispie treat band snacks with him or her.  A few weeks prior, I had done some digging and found out the mascot was a she.  Naturally, I thought my next Homecoming date lay underneath a sweaty, bulbous head (contrary to what you may have just thought, she did not have a bad case of acne) and was preparing to ask this girl to be my date that fall.  I thought one date at one Homecoming might help to soothe the rivalry between our proud schools.

This girl April from my school, whose name I changed to protect her privacy, sat catty-cornered to me on the bus ride to the game.  April was a fine woman--sturdy, polite, with a long mane of sandy blonde hair that shimmered in the sun.  At some point between bites of Fruit Roll-up, I was asked if I would be her date to Homecoming that year.  Without hesitation, I said yes.  And just like that, I came off the market.

My plans to ask the girl pirate to be my dance date failed.  We instead awkwardly snacked on band food and remarked that Green Day put out some decent records, including our mutual favorite Kerplunk.

A stark naked Dr. Scholls would
make anyone run...away
Paula
-Profession: Pharmacist

-Favorite brand of expectorant: Water is the best.  But if you don't have water, Mucinex.

-As a child, Paula Abdul was babysat by which celebrity?:
[A] Danny Devito
[B] Phylicia Rashad
[C] Sally Jesse Raphael
[D] Michael Bolton

I guess [A] because it would be hilarious to have Danny Devito be your babysitter.  [It was actually D]

-You're planning on doing an iron man competition.  Do 'insiders' call it a 'Tony Stark'?:  Don't think so, but I may start and say 'I'm going to 'stark' this.'

-As a pharmacist, are you required to have an oil painting of Dr. Scholls in the back?:  No, but it would be great next to the license.

May 21: Brazilian street painting, 2 Tuna Pouches, a Woo Who Koozie and Wrist Bracelet

Monday, May 21, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 10:42 PM
Given to Camille from Karie.
Here's a star kissed
Karie ran a marathon yesterday and was given the tuna packs as her race recovery rations.  The koozie and bracelet were also giveaways.  The street painting, done by an 8-year old boy, was not.  It came from her travels in Brazil.  The scene depicts the famous Christ the Redeemer church, along with favelas that typically house low-income residents.  If you watch the movie Rio, says Karie, you get a good sense of what the country is like.

In similar fashion, non-native Americans' opinions are shaped by the movies Hollywood produces.  While  picking one movie to depict what life is like in the United States is just about impossible, I think a combination of the following--if woven together--offer a good narrative.  Just my humble opinion, but a damn good one, I think.

-What Women Want (all women want to be with Mel Gibson)
-The Expendables (road rage allegory expressed through Jason Statham)
-Burn After Reading (what most people do on a daily basis)
-Jesse Stone (the way 68% of American men style their facial hair)

Camille
-Profession: Banker

-Favorite Tarot Card: Temperance

-Camille was a pseudonym used by Prince in the late-80s and early-90s.  Would Prince be your pseudonym or would it be something else?:  Oh, I have several pseudonyms already: Melee, Big Foot, Butch (my dad called me and my mom this), Cooper Sweeney, Stink and Cammy

-In your job at the bank and also when you had a job at the library, you checked a lot of peoples' IDs for their birthday.  How difficult would it be for you to work a "Guess Your Age" game at a carnival?:  Very difficult.  People younger than me I think are 12.  People older I think they're a respectable 60.

-You are fascinated with Big Foot.
*What do you think its shoe size is?:  17 like Shaq
*Where would you take it for a night on the town?:  Deegan and Rosie's
*How would Big Foot do on Survivor?:  He'd win because he'd eat them all

May 20: 2 Journals, Porcelain Coffee Cup, Coffee Mug, and Bottle of Lotion

Sunday, May 20, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 10:22 PM
Given to Karie from Brianna.
Karie will get a coffee mustache from this cup
Much as I like to fix my friends up, I enjoy lining up great gift exchanges.  Karie is an avid and, by her account, spontaneous traveler who looks for last-minute travel deals.  She keeps journals of her trips, so these little guys will come in great.  She also admits to drinking a good volume of coffee (around 3 cups per day), so these can be worked into her cup rotation.  The exchange would be a perfect 10 out of 10 were it not for her fear of scented hand and body lotions.  So we'll call it a 9 instead.

If you picked up enough pennies,
it would defray your chiropractic
visit cost
Karie
-Profession: Accountant

-Favorite thing to carry: Backpack

-You ran 26.2 miles today in a race.  Did you 'run out of gas' when competing in the 'Marathon'?:  Yes, around mile 16.  But Team in Training 'refilled my gas tank' and I was able to continue on.

-Abe Lincoln is your favorite President and you celebrate his birthday by going out and having Abe Lincoln parties where you'll dress in top hats and fake beards.  What's the worst indignity for him--being on the $5 or penny?:  The penny.  People will bend down and pick up a quarter.  But it's not worth the trouble for just one cent.

-When accountants aren't counting beans, what are they doing?:  Slowly saving the world one credit and debit at a time.

May 19: Maid-Rite Diner shirt, Bottle of Hot Sauce, Farmer's Popcorn Cob, and John Deere keychain

Posted by 366 White Elephants at 2:13 AM
Given to Brianna from Anna.
Danish people translate this as "Housekeeper Ceremony"
'You really ought to give Iowa a try' goes the memorable line in The Music Man.  And that's what I think Anna was trying for in this Iowan-themed gift pack.  In our gift pack is some hot sauce from Shed Farms, a Farmer's Popcorn Cob, and a John Deere tractor keychain.  Then we have the shirt.  Her Dad owns a popular and well-known local chain of restaurants called Maid-Rite, where customers flying into the Quad Cities area in Iowa will make sure they stop in for one of their tasty delights, much like the folks who stop in to Tony Packo's in Toledo or Giordano's in Chicago.

If you'll notice at the bottom of the screen and shirt, there is a little tag that says "Since 1926".  A friend and I were having this debate about when it is okay to put the date you've been around.  The old European breweries are good for this.  The Franziskaner brewery in Munich has been around since 1363, so you've got to think they're doing something right after centuries of beer making.  Longevity inspires confidence.  All in all, we concluded that you're safe in the 70s and before.
A perfect sign...in 30 years
Evidently, Jay did not get the memo.  I was passing this establishment near Salzburg, Austria a short while ago and noticed their sign (translation: "seit" means "since" in German).


She's a few quarts short 
Brianna
-Profession: Aspiring Writer

-Favorite kind of stop: 2 lanes with stoplight and turn signals

-You went to a certain college because your parents talked to friends of theirs whose son had just enrolled at that school.  Do you think their hope was that you would get an alumni couple's postcard on Valentine's Day for the rest of your life?:  I don't think so.  I think they were hoping I didn't find a guy that early.

-In your vocational life, you aspire to be a screen and stage writer.  Why do they call it a treatment?  What are they trying to cure?:  It's a treat for the mind and they're trying to cure insomnia.  I know, I'm a sleep-deprived writer.

-Strawberry season is coming up and your plan is to go pickin'.
*# of quarts you plan to pick: 2
*# of pies you plan to make: 1
*# of strawberry smoothies you plan to make: 5

May 18: Travel Shampoo, Conditioner and Lotion

Saturday, May 19, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 10:18 AM
Given to Anna from Brittanny.

Brittanny started her job as an Admissions Counselor last year in August.  She concluded her extensive travel schedule in April, where during that time, she was on the road 24 weeks.  All in all in that eight month plus span, she was home only two months.  The amount of time on the road left her little time to do much of anything else; she says she has not had much time to explore her new city.

However, she did manage to collect 2 gallon bags full of travel shampoos, conditioners and lotions over that time frame.  In her estimation, she will not have to buy any of these three toiletries for a full year.  And given that her travel will start up again in August, she could again bulk up her stash of travel products and have a two-year cushion.  My advice: I would concentrate more on getting enough linen for your apartment (because you won't get asked about it), get shower caps because they're funny looking when you wear them in public, and I would begin collecting copies of the New Testament.

Anna
-Profession: Sales Engineer

-Favorite cookie: Meringue

-You're from the Quad Cities in Iowa.  Can you see a Hunger Games scenario playing out?:  Definitely not.  If it did, Bettendorf (my home city) would not be the winning district.

-When you play soccer, do you and everyone else (except the goalie) feel like a Tyrannosaurus Rex?:  That feeling never crossed my mind until now.

-Your father owns and you work at a local favorite called the Maid-Rite Diner.  A trademark sandwich that bears the name has seasoned beef, mustard, onion, and pickle (like a sloppy joe without the sauce).

What would be most devastating?
[A] if it was maid-wrong
[B] someone put ketchup on it
[C] if it came pre-made in a microwavable container

Definitely [B].  When I'm taking someone's order, I'll ask them if they want everything on it, including ketchup.  Someone people will get so upset because that's not the way it's traditionally made.  The people in question are the senior citizens who've been eating there for 80 years.

May 17: Inflatable Alligator

Thursday, May 17, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 11:22 PM
Given to Brittanny from Marija.

If I had the time, money, energy, interest, and Elisabeth Röhm was still legal counsel on Law & Order, I would be filing a class action suit.  I think an alligator play toy is sending the wrong message to our children.  It implants the idea that alligators are fun and can be ridden on and are safe.  The 4-year old kids of today are going to grow up unaware 27-year olds on golf courses in the South.  When they see an alligator hanging out next to a sand trap, they'll want to play with it like they did in childhood.  And that's where disaster looms.  It's all fun and games and playtime in the sun until someone's leg gets gnashed.

However, since I don't have any of the aforementioned impetuses to file said class action suit, I can offer one tip.  If you see an alligator and it is coming toward you, run in a zig-zag pattern and not straight ahead.  Alligators are unable to adapt to quick lateral movements, so you will be safe.  Also make sure your golf cart has plenty of gas in it.

Is potato spelled with an 'e'?
Brittanny
-Profession: Admissions Counselor

-Favorite pizza topping: Pineapple

-Brittany is one of the six Celtic nations.  How far do you think the Celtics will go in this year's NBA playoffs?:  They'll make it to game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals, but will lose to Miami.

-You call Maine your home and it has the largest toothpick manufacturing plant in the U.S.  Why isn't the state's slogan "The Toothpick State"?:  Because Southerners would be mad if you took that from them.

-In elementary school, you won a couple of spelling bees and, in college, you majored in English.  However, you have the hardest time with spelling.  What word(s) give you the most fits?:  If you are asking me to spell something now, then simple words (i.e. ferry).  But if I'm writing or typing, then it has to be names of food.

May 16: Tupac Shakur poster and Bear Cookie Jar without lid

Wednesday, May 16, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 10:25 PM
Given to Marija from Samantha.
The high school portrait background
makes this poster real classy
Gut reaction: There's something very, very wrong about this pairing of Tupac poster with adorable bear cookie jar.  Some might even call it sacrilegious.  Biggie would just laugh his ass off.

Still in a haze:  I'm probably going to be tracked down by this guy named Bill for posting and giving away his items.  Samantha, as it turns out, had this guy named Bill living in her house.  The poster was in his bedroom and the cookie jar sans lid was his from childhood.  He left a whole bunch of things in her house when he left for Philadelphia, including these two.  Now he's back in the area and Samantha's dreading the return visit.  As a precaution, I stopped by the Brazilian consulate office today after lunch, asking for asylum.

Lasting impact: Marija's plans are to sell the poster on eBay in "fair" condition and she's going to use the bear as a planter.

Blew her winnings at Chi-Chi's
Marija
-Profession: Administrative Assistant Extraordinaire

-Favorite thing to doodle: Tear Drop Man

-Most people assume you're Spanish when, in fact, you're really Croatian.  How many times do people offer you chips & salsa to make you feel comfortable?:  Never, but a lot of people start talking to me in Spanish.

-You won $105 on a 105.7 FM radio contest.  Did you deposit your winnings into a Roth IRA account?:  No, I just spent it.

-What's the longest distance you've walked in one outing?:  2 or 3 miles.

May 15: Black Purse

Posted by 366 White Elephants at 12:04 AM
Given to Samantha from Megan.

This blog has afforded me many opportunities to meet people I wouldn't have had the chance to meet otherwise.  It's also given me the chance to reconnect with family members as is the case with Samantha.  We are second cousins and, as of 2001, were moved into the "long-lost" category of family members along with great aunts on your mother's side and nephews in Italy you haven't seen in 50 years.  I was going into Starbucks for a gift exchange with someone about a month ago and Samantha was there hard at work on her graduate studies (there were some graphs on the table).

For Megan, this exchange provided her with an opportunity to hand off this purse she had received a while back that was just hanging around in her closet.  Megan, like Samantha, was someone I had not seen in several years after an incident at our mutual friend Lesley's house around Christmastime 2008. Lesley's mom had a lot of baskets hanging around on the walls of all shapes and sizes and we all (Lesley, Megan, my brother and me) thought it would be worth the trouble (and hilarious) to re-wrap a few of the baskets so Lesley's family could be truly surprised on Christmas morn.  As it turns out, no one was more surprised than my brother and me when we saw nary a basket the past four Christmases in the comfortable confines of our home.

Hair can take up to 65 mph wind gusts
Samantha
-Profession: Elementary School Teacher

-Favorite geometric shape:  Trapezoid

-After playing sports all through high school and college, you were left with no cartilage in your shoulder (three throws of the softball and you can't feel your hand) and you have problems with your knee.  Do you ever label yourself as the non-bionic woman?:  No, I don't think so.

-If you opened up a rival discount chain of stores called Samantha's Club, what would you sell in bulk and on the cheap?:  Coffee mugs--in all shapes and sizes--and hairspray.  I spray, spray, spray to keep my hair in place.  Don't laugh--I use Aqua Net.

-You are on the market and looking for a man who will "make you laugh until you pee".  Would you consider wearing an adult diaper when meeting this man?:  I'd go for a Depends and I'd have to wear it all the time.  You'd never know when he'd be funny.  And if he's really funny, he'll be spontaneous.  And the last thing you want is a spontaneous pee without an adult diaper.

May 14: Hero Medallion

Monday, May 14, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 10:47 PM
Given to Megan from Sarah.
Bette Midler wants you to know something
The story: Sarah got this Hero medallion when she was invited to her friend's church.  When entering the church, her friend adorned her with the medallion and Sarah had to wear it throughout the entire service.  Sarah's friend also had to tell people in her congregation why she thought Sarah was a hero.  I would bet that it's because she can lick Nutella off the tip of her nose.

Megan likes a good hero, in fact three of them:
-a tasty one with fresh-baked French bread, turkey, provolone cheese, coleslaw, tomatoes and fries (like a panini)
-a super one with Batman in Dark Knight Rises
-the one that makes her sound like she's Greek

Clandestinely read a novel on Ellen's
book club list
Megan
-Profession: Special Ed Teacher

-Favorite emoticon: The one with the wink

-In a 1987 episode of My Little Pony, Megan and the ponies embark on a series of odd adventures to find four golden horseshoes to help an ailing unicorn.  What were two of the odd adventures?:  (1) Running into a horse eating frogs; and (2) swimming across a river--a really big river

-In your job, you process a lot of paperwork.  Do you, by chance, make your household to-do lists in triplicate?:  No...I don't think so.

-You've read every book on Oprah's Book Club list.  How close, in percentage, do you think you and Oprah are besties?:  33.333%  We'd get to 66.666% if I got to dog sit for her.  And talk about bunions; she has trouble with them and so do I.

May 13: 2 Wooden Hangers & Christina Collection Timeless Treasures Doll

Sunday, May 13, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 10:58 PM
Given to Sarah from Jackie.
Don't get hung up by her sad visage 
This Christina Collection doll conjured up some memories from a recent estate sale excursion.  There I was a couple of weekends ago scouring a few estate sales for some kitchenware (in particular, a stainless steel soup pot, some steak knives, and a grapefruit spoon).  As I made my way through the rest of the houses, two of the three had Precious Moments collections up for sale.  If you're like me, you suppress the urge to gag at the site of not-so-cute porcelain figurines that are given away in excess at your various garden variety baby showers, baptisms, first communions, bat mitzvahs, engagement parties, and anniversary dinners.  I say give me a $50 gift card to Lowe's so I can buy some hinges and a tarp.

I imagine that when you have people over to your house and you've got one Precious Moments figure displayed the seed of an idea is planted where they think you would want more.  Suddenly, you're besieged by an endless sea of Precious Moments figures throughout your lifetime.  Then, at some point during this receiving of porcelain, you think, "Hey, I might have a collection here.  I'd better not sell a one."  Over time, you build cabinets for the figurines you that collect dust and they become a major factor  when deciding on a move to a new house.  You probably nix the move because of the fear of the Precious Moments breaking and you stay in your current dwelling for the next 38 years.

Fast forward to when you're downsizing into a new condo and people come traipsing through your old home where you've erected a shine to your Precious Moments.  The statues leave one by one by one at $5 a piece or 3 for $12.

Enjoys playing doctor, too
Sarah
-Profession: Medical Student

-Favorite Operation body part: Pencil (writer's cramp)

-What's the biggest takeaway from Scrubs?:  Don't date your best friend.

-You have an amazing physical skill of being able to touch your tongue to the tip of your nose.  What do you enjoy tasting on the tip of your nose?:  Nutella.

-James Watt, inventor of the steam engine, horsepower, and the watt, is your great, great, great grandfather.  Why did your parents wait to tell you until you were 18 that you were related to him?:  Ego, I suppose.

May 12: Sierra Club duffel bag and Magnetic Poetry Kit

Posted by 366 White Elephants at 1:22 AM
Given to Jackie from Peggy.

What better way to celebrate this collapsable Sierra tote and magnetic poetry kit that Peggy gave Jackie by writing a diamonte.  If you're unfamiliar with one, please read below.  Ahem...

Sierra
Environmental, Adventurous
Preserving, Lobbying, Canoeing
Hikes, Trails, Oil, Rockefeller
Drilling, Fracking, Exploiting
Capitalistic, Materialistic
Refinery

Jackie
-Profession: Theater Box Office Worker

-Favorite form of identification: Blood Donor Card

-Give me an example of a family joke that circulates because you were born on July 4:  "Your mom was in so much pain during childbirth because you came out like a firecracker."  I also have way too much Americana apparel, including a flag headband where a flag actually sticks out of a headband.

-At your job at Brandiwine's Coffee & More, what does the "& More" mean?:  You'll get a show, too.  I used to drop trays on customers or falling in the back.  Now that I think about it, it was kind of embarrassing.

-Given that you have 3 earlobes, does that present challenges for you when buying earrings?:  Not really.  I'll wear a pair in my front earrings, and then a dangly one in the back for the layered effect.  Or sometimes I'm too lazy and don't wear any at all.


May 11: "Major League" DVD

Friday, May 11, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 10:57 PM
Given to Peggy from Joe.
True fact: Corbin Bernsen owns over
7,000 snowglobes
There's a fun feature in having a blog where you can see the ways people get to your site.  I don't have an explanation for it, but the site "Get Dental Implants Info" [spelled out for reader clarity] is a referring site that generates some traffic to my humble little blog.  Now, of course, by mentioning that they are referring people to my site, you're going to probably get on Google and search for them and increase web traffic on their site.  And all we've proven in this little exercise is that corporate America is winning and we need to reclaim America and keep jobs here.  Okay, I don't know what that means, but the 2012 political rhetoric has already begun to osmose into my head.

The other fun feature of the blog is that you get to see where in the world people are who visit your site.  Today I had two page visits from the country of Tonga, a sovereign state and archipelago sorta/kinda near Hawaii and New Zealand.  Hello good people of Tonga!

All of this leaves little space to talk about Tom Berenger, co-star of Major League.  Here's what I'll say about Tom: nice job in Inception and that I was surprised to learn you were a former flight attendant according to your imdb.com profile.

Mi DVD es su DVD
Peggy
-Profession: Retired teacher

-Favorite baseball team:  Cleveland Indians

-During your spare time, you enjoy contra dancing.  What would be contraband at a contra dance?:  Alcohol

-You're learning Spanish in the car right now.  What expression do you really want to learn how to say?:  I'd ask my sister who speaks fluent Spanish, "What was the hardest part of the Spanish immersion course you took?"

-Is there anything in life that would prompt you to spend 1/8 of your life savings at one ballgame for ballpark food?:  I don't think there's anything that would.


May 10: Wooden Chicken and 6 Farm-Fresh Eggs

Posted by 366 White Elephants at 8:20 AM
Given to Joe from Bill.
This is about as limber as I am doing the "funky chicken" 
By good fortune, Joe and I had the opportunity to be college roommates.  It would take two posts to probably list all of the hijinks we got ourselves involved in, but because this is his post, maybe I should list the things that caused him the most--what do the French call it?--consternation.

-asking Catherine Zeta-Jones to be my date for Winter Gala

-waking him up at 3:00 a.m. with a dream where I translated simple English phrases and words into Spanish, followed by German

-taping a friend's door with duct tape from the outside, so as to block him in

-waking up on class registration day still in a dream-like state (he was already up) and asking him where Drew Bledsoe went to school.  When he said he didn't know, I told him "Washington State" and that it was the "Aflac Trivia Question of the Day"; I then fell back asleep immediately

Needed 2 year period of readjustment
to 'normal' living
Joe
-Profession: Financial Risk Manager

-Favorite Kind of Tea: English Black

-When you worked as a fraud analyst, you often went by an assumed name.  In the same way one figures out their stripper name (first pet, first street they lived on), how would fraud analysts figure out their fraud name?:  Middle name plus the street they grew up on.

-Fondest memory of me in college:  When you threw a can of Mountain Dew at "Wild Wild" Dave West as we were rounding a corner in my dad's pick-up truck

-You often vacation in Las Vegas.  Has there been anything that's happened there that has come back with you?:  Herpes--that'll stick with anyone

May 9: NBC Affiliate Swag: T-shirt, Notebook and 2 pens

Thursday, May 10, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 8:02 AM
Given to Bill from Katrina.
Now in Technicolor!
If you're like me, you may have some frustration when you come home from work and don't know quite what to make for dinner.  Or you're short on cash, the nearest Taco Bell's an hour and a half drive away, and you'd like to make a meal.  In case your local grocer is closed and you can't get America's favorite bird--the chicken--here are a list of items that 'taste like chicken'.  Try not to over-rely on substitutes.

-chicken
-amphibians (frogs)
-your significant other's lips after they've had either one of the aforementioned items; (a word to the wise: please don't bite)
-dinosaurs (theoretical)
-modern-day reptiles (alligators)
-KFC
-Bouillon cube

Bill
-Profession: Middle School teacher; Chicken Farmer

-Favorite Civil War battle: Cold Harbor (Richmond Campaign)

-When the Senate or House passes a 'bill', do you get really excited?:  Not at all.  It usually means they're going to raise taxes.

-Kill Bill star Uma Thurman has a health care product bearing her name.  Which is it?:
[A] Dr. Scholls female wart removal pads
[B] Asian Lancome line of lipsticks
[C] Neutrogena elbow moisturizing cream

I think it's [A] because it'd be a good way to sex up wart removal products.  [Answer: B]

-Do your chickens have names?:  Yes, Brewtus is the Rooster and then there's Chicken Nugget, Speckles, and Eggie, which looks like a bald eagle.

May 8: Bar of Lever 2000 and L.L. Bean Toiletry Traveler

Wednesday, May 9, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 12:23 AM
Given to Katrina from Maria.

It's amazing what you'll find on YouTube.  Tonight I discovered an old Lever 2000 ad, which advertised that the soap is good for your "touchy-feely parts and your rough-and-tumble parts".  Isn't that just a euphemism for females (an art form-esque body is something you'd want to touch and feel) and males (utilitarian, jeep-like body=rough and tumble parts).   I could be mistaken, but the female lead in this video bears a striking resemblance to pre-Double Jeopardy Ashley Judd.  However, I don't think Ashley Judd--at any point in her career--would put her vixenish face next to a man's bare foot and look happy about it (0:29 mark).

3 Musketeers would leave the weather
guy at home
Katrina
-Profession: Director of First Impressions

-Favorite kind of milk: 2%

-In your post, you answer the phone.  Who is one person you'd listen to on the phone and like it?: Idris Elba.  He's got a deep British accent--all day I could listen to him.

-What amount of the time do people say, "oh, your name is Katrina...like the hurricane"?:  I got it a lot.  It sucked.  I was on vacation when it happened and, when I got back, people asked me, "Did you know what you did?"  I had enough and shortened it to 'Trina so I wouldn't get any more of that.

-You work at a news station.  What would the name be for a group of traveling minstrel news anchors?:  The Swashbucklers

May 7: Magic 8 Ball and Money Maker Lottery Ticket

Tuesday, May 8, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 1:54 AM
Given to Maria from Judy.

First off, Maria won $10 from her scratch-off ticket from Judy (max $1m winner)!

Second, Maria got to answer some questions on her mind with the 8 ball:

-Will I get a job by Monday with benefits and a salary that supports my current responsibilities?:  As I See It Yes [provided you can work a pole]

-Will I need new brakes by winter?:  Yes [Don't miss the Meineke 2-for-1 $199 special at participating locations]

-Will the next song [at the bar] be from the 80s?:  It Is Decidedly So [what kind of hot cheese do you want to hear?]

-Will my friend ever pass algebra and become an RN?:  Outlook Good [where time is t; if t >74 years]

-Will my parents cherry tree live?:  It Is Certain [Yes! More delicious pie!]

Maria
-Profession: Career Path--theater, video editor, and development coordinator

-Favorite Dried Fruit: Banana Chips

-You were recently laid off from your job.  What's the most fun way a person can be told he/she's been let go?:  Told you were laid off because you won the lottery (over $1m) and don't need the job any more.

-You play the flute and have even recorded an album.  # of jack-ass friends who ask you if you play the skin flute?:  0

-In golf, someone yells 'Fore!' to have another be on the lookout for an incoming ball.  What would you yell?:  Whoo hoo!