June 30: Handlebar Mustache Wine Bottle Opener

Saturday, June 30, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 5:26 PM
Given to Ron from Nicole.
The mutton chop sideburns pickle cutter also is a great
kitchen gadget
Ron's a toolsy man, that is to say, he knows his way around a jackhammer and a T-Square in equal measure.  In fact, he makes his knowledge of tools and getting stuff done with them his living.  The first time I met Ron he told me, "I know how to do most anything.  If I don't, I know someone who does."  To me, that sounded a lot like Red (Morgan Freeman) from the Shawshank Redemption as a "man who knows how to get things".  I've never known a man on the inside before, but in the span of Ron's 2-hour visit to help me get some stuff done around the yard, we managed to do several projects, including assembling a heavy outdoor swing.

I had my doubts about Ron's promise of being able to do anything.  I would have probably called his work "satisfactory" if he had put everything together well and it was functioning great.  What put me over the edge was that Ron, like any self-respecting man working on a project--had parts left over.  (If you're curious, there were a couple of wing nuts, washers, bolts and long screws).  I don't care if you're assembly some P.O.S. TV stand from Wal-Mart or building a bridge, you've got to have parts left over. No woman wants to be with a man who uses the exact amount of hardware.

Curiously, Mr. McFeely moonlighted
as the show's plumber
-Profession: Carpenter

-Favorite Tool: Drill

-Bob Villa--hero or villain?:  We'll, he's not a villain.  And he's not really a hero, either.  He was all right when he first came out, but he got a little full of himself.

-What's been the snack you've enjoyed the most that someone has offered you on the job?:  Sub sandwiches and a lot of Brisk Iced Tea.  The people I do a lot of work for have cases of it stacked in their garage.

-What do you think Handyman Negry's (of Mister Rogers fame) best skill was?:  He was probably a pretty good carpenter.

June 29: Pink Hibiscus Candle, Apple Lavender Hand Soap, White Citrus Lotion, and a Pair of Sunglasses

Posted by 366 White Elephants at 1:57 AM
Given to Nicole from Maria.

Last night, I attended a live taping of the hit NPR show Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me!, which was quite entertaining and informative as it is my only source to know what's going on in the world.  I found out that the Senate is canceling a long-standing tradition of "Sear Sucker Thursdays" where members of the Senate would wear their sear suckers and have an ice cream social.  Because of the extreme partisanship rife within Congress, they've decided to end it.  You can have your opinions on whether this is a good thing, that the _______ party had it coming to them and they damn well don't deserve any soft serve twist cones.

But I remember a commercial audition I had a few years ago where I was asked to play a crazy game show host--giving away bundles of free prizes and cash.  To put my best foot forward, I went to Macy's and rented (bought and returned) a green sear sucker.  For the audition taping, slits of my upper body disappeared into the green screen, leaving me appear to be a talking head on a bunch of toothpicks that moved on top of relatively fat looking legs.  I managed to get the part and wowed audiences with my gripping portrayal of a man in desperate need to break his crack addition.

After the audition, I wore the sear sucker to my friend Gabe's wedding.  I lived first-hand the expression "the clothes make the man" as I clutched my coat like I was Colonel Sanders and kept strutting around the reception and talking like I was Foghorn Leghorn.

-Profession: Marketing for a Punk Rock Magazine

-Favorite wind direction: Southerly

-As part of your job, you travel all around the country and you have been in 46 of 50 states (Alaska, Hawaii, Wyoming and Montana are the remaining four).  Did you keep a state quarter collection for the states you have visited?:  No, because if I start something, I usually peter out and stop.  I do have a treasure chest full of old ticket stubs from concerts, wristbands, tickets from random things I've gone to see.  If my house was burning, I'd save that chest over anything else.

-Think of a Barry Manilow song.  Now make it punk.:  Mandy came to mind.  You came and you drank without puking.  Now you're ready to mosh again, Mandy.

-Have you ever found a need in your life to ask anyone "where's the beef?"?:  Yes!  I was in New Haven, CT with some friends and we were looking for this historic sandwich place, but it was like 20 blocks from our hotel.  So we ended up asking someone, "Where's the steamed beef?"

June 28: "Rallying Cries": 3 Plays by Eric Bentley

Friday, June 29, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 10:33 AM
Given to Maria from Skip.
The red is just a close-up of Chuck Norris'
eyebrows...right before you burn
Skip's father instilled a strong sense of social values when he took all of his children to the deep South during the pre-Civil Rights era.  Skip vividly recalls seeing blacks and whites only entrances for places, as well as an invitation to join a KKK rally, which was advertised by a gas station's fill-up area.  As a result, Skip and his siblings chose the "helping" professions and all of them are either teachers or doctors.  This unassuming paperback features a hat trick of plays that center around social justice.

I couldn't tell Skip this, but who really cares?  I mean, not that the issues aren't important, but why waste your time reading about and performing them when you should just give Chuck Norris a call?  I firmly believe if you got kicked in the teeth enough times or you got burned from staring into his beard too long, you'd stop whatever shenanigans you were up to.

The Rock Chalk Chant does not
count as a social rallying cry
-Profession: Ernst & Young Marketing and Communications

-Favorite part of a submarine: The Exit

-As an Italian, are you more of a Fiat or Vespa gal?:  Fiat because people who drive Fiats are usually bringing the party.  And I love a party.

-You're starting a new job.  What's the first personal detail you'll tell your new co-workers?:  I get quiet when I'm hungry or tired.  If it's both, beware.

-If you could have any job in the world, any at all, but one that fell between the $31K-$40K salary range, what would it be?:  High school math or English teacher at a starting salary.  Or I'd work at any Catholic school--they don't make a ton.

June 27: White Trash Rubber Chicken

Thursday, June 28, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 12:48 AM
Given to Skip from Jon.

Does anyone find rubber chickens humorous?  I place them in the same category as banana peels.  Iconic--yes, but funny--no.  We can all look at this rubber chicken and say "oh, some one will think that's funny, but I don't" or "who is crazy enough to buy a chicken like this?  ha!" or "wait till Dad gets a look at this on Father's Day!".  I think I've made my point.  This chicken, like many products Americans buy, was made in China.

I'd like to take my HD mini-DV cam into China to do some shadowbox interviews with the workers who made them.  Maybe distort their voice, too.   And in Mike Wallace fashion (RIP brother, you're ticking in harmony with that great stopwatch in the sky), but wearing a Craig Sager blazer, I'd ask them what the f*^# do you think about making these things for 14 hours a day?  And what do you think of Americans who are importing them by the cases?  Do we look utterly ridiculous?

I bet some 11-year old Chinese kid is having nightmares about this freaky chicken at night with his "Mom" tattoo eating him for dinner.  Or he's just having a nightmare about Craig Sager's blazer line.

In 11 years of teaching, has finally
learned how to spell "BLOOD" with
his fingers
-Profession: Criminal Teacher

-Favorite Shakespearian play:  The Tempest

-You teach GED and pre-GED at a prison.  What kind of real-world problems do you give the inmates?:  Usually examples of something contraband that they may or may not be familiar with.  A lot of my students know what a kilo is.  So I'll use that.  Or a lot of them have worked in construction so I'll make up a math word problem using measurements of concrete.

-If you're a hop, skip and a jump away from some place but you really bound far on your skip, do you think you need a jump anyway?:  I might need a push.

-Trained as a priest, you left that vocation to work elsewhere.  Could you help yourself to as much sacramental wine as you wanted?:  No, nor do I now.
-What's a good cheese pairing with sacramental wine?:  Swiss because it's holy.

June 26: Butterfly-Themed Travel Mug and Notepad & Pen Set

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 1:07 AM
Given to Jon from Abby.

Abby's sorority holds the butterfly as its symbol.  However, she tells me that in the days when the sorority was deciding on emblems, the choice came down to either the butterfly or a dragon.  After both being winged creatures, the similarities stop there.  I don't think those sisters were thinking with enough forethought to anticipate the steady goth movement, Harry Potter, and the resurgence of all things dragon (particularly tattoos).

Abby's mom likes to buy her things that center around whatever Abby has in her life or mutters.  In addition her favorite color is purple.  This butterfly set was not the first, nor second, nor third of butterfly-themed items she has about in her apartment, but more like the 12th item she has.  Sound familiar?  I was doing her a favor by taking it off her hands and placing it into Jon's.  He often forgets his travel mug and now he has no excuse.

Did talk with wrestlers about
saving a bunch of money on their
car insurance
-Profession: Hospital IT

-Favorite calligraphic letter: G

-As a former bouncer, did you bounce when your shift was over?:  No, actually, we would stay.  The managers would give us beer and pizza and we'd go out and sit on the dock and eat and drink after our shift was over.

-You have the amazing ability to wiggle one each at a time.  What kind of message are you sending to your lady friends on the dance floor?  And can you synchronize the movements of your ears with the beat of the music?:  I don't think I'm fast enough to move my ears to a dance beat.  But I think it shows the ladies that I pay attention to detail and I have a lot of self-control.  However, I'll be going home alone.

-As a former wrester, was it illegal to
[A] tickle?: no, it was awkward if you did
[B] whisper sweet nothings?:  no, it was awkward if you did and you'd get your ass kicked
[C] make plans to go to the movies?:  it wasn't illegal, but you didn't do it

June 25: Muscle Mug, Blue Bottle, and Goin' Nuts Mug

Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 2:40 AM
Given to Abby from Sam.
Collect the Tendon and Ligament Mugs to complete your set!
I'm caught betwixt two interesting--some would call captivating--individuals.  Let's start with Sam: his metrosexual manner musters muliebral and masculine crushes, while his penchant for ambling around as a member of the literati has endeared him to the intellectual bourgeoisie.  To put it simply: Sam's a dream muffin for a lot of people.

Then there's Abby.  She's half-English, half-American, which makes me want to ask her about the Mayflower for no discernible reason.  I eagerly await her every syllable in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the accent that makes my heart go pitter-pat.  And while I wait, she talks about what made Wonder Woman really weak and what a spilled cola would look like in her invisible plane to onlookers below.  To put it simply: Abby's a muffin top for a lot of people, whatever that means.

Back to the gifts...Sam got the mug that is shaped and categorized as a muscle from a raffle at a poetry reading.  He didn't say where he got the other two items, but the three of us were a bit confused by the Goin' Nuts mug that featured six peanuts then one oddly placed piece of hardware.

I hope you're having some
guac there, too
-Profession: Student

-Favorite old building: Sagrada Familia in Spain

-Dear Abby, I'm having a dinner party for 11 and I made a large bowl of pico de gallo that serves only 8.  Should I make another batch of pico de gallo or a batch of mild salsa that feeds 6?  Sincerely, Mexican Spreads.

Dear Mexican Spreads,
You should go with the salsa idea by having a diverse arrangement of platters in order to make your guests feel more comfortable.  They'll be able to choose from their favorite food.  And don't forget to invite me.  Sincerely, Abby

-Where would 'Mean Mr. Mustard' and 'Polythene Pam' 'Come Together' in harmony?:  I give up.  [Abbey Road]

-As a half-Brit, half-Yankee, how do you feel like you're a bridge between former colonial power and colony?:  I call people out when their English is bad.  I feel like I'm doing my part.

June 24: 1/2" Female-Threaded Sillcock

Monday, June 25, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 1:57 AM
Given to Sam from Jeff.

And just who doesn't need a sillcock, eh?  Female-threaded at that.  This "water nozzle" is a robust piece of hardware--it impresses you with its weight.  It'll hold down a stack of papers, that's for sure. But really, those plumbers must be a frustrated bunch if they're naming their pieces/parts like this.  I'm sure they mount the sillcock with two nuts after a few turns from their Johnson rod.

Jeff had this fine piece to exchange because in the spring he wanted to water some plants around his yard, but he could not get the water to come out of the exterior nozzle on his house  He turned with all his might, but couldn't turn the handle.  He got some tools (bad idea) and ripped the existing sillcock off the house entirely.  A quick trip down the steps made him discover that the previous owner had winterized the pipes by shutting them off entirely.  He went to The Home Depot to pick up a new nozzle, which he kept despite calling a plumber over to install a brand new one instead.

The moral of the story: Don't jack around your sillcock with improper tools, unless you're prepared for something to gush out.

I might have to arm wrestle Sam for
dining rights with Ms. Watson
-Profession: Journalist; Fiction Writer

-Favorite comic strip: Derf (from The New Yorker)

-Sam Adams was a member of the Whig party.  If the Whig party  was around today, what would their platform be?:  They would try to appeal to a mass demographic--abolishing disease and nuclear arms, offering everyone a pay raise of $10K funded by a super secret mint, and creating special sleeping pills so people could design their own sleep schedule.

-Sam Adams, the brewer, came out with four Patriot Ales.  Which is one of them?:
[A] Martin Van Buren Creamy Stout
[B] James Madison Dark Wheat Ale
[C] John Quincy Adams Revolutionary Rye Ale
[D] Aaron Burr Winter Ale

I would guess [C].
-It was actually [B]
Congratulate yourself on some good fake answers.

-If the tables were turned, what would convince you to try green eggs and ham?:  If I can eat them with Emma Watson anywhere--perhaps a private dining car or wherever she'd like.

-What do you add to eggs to actually make them revoltingly green?:  Baking soda!

June 23: 1 lb. Starbucks Indivisible Blend

Sunday, June 24, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 1:34 AM
Given to Jeff from Rachelle.
Clay Aiken was invisible and invincible.
I would also like to see him remain indivisible.
Indivisible means "something you can't divide" and Starbucks is marketing their support of job creation for an indivisible America by fingerpicking our heartstrings with this patriotic roast.  That's sentimental and sweet.  What's also sweet is I've just maintained the upkeep on Jeff and his father-in-law's relationship.  Jeff and his bride don't keep coffee around the house; they go out and buy it out every day.  When his father-in-law comes to town and stays at their house, he grumbles that there's no coffee anywhere.  Problem vaporized.

I just hope he has a French press or something to make the coffee in.  Jeff, give me a call if you don't.  Happy to come over and make your in-laws some coffee, eggs, toast, and bacon, pour them some juice, and wipe the corners of their mouths to Aunt Bee perfection right before they excuse themselves for a stroll 'round the neighborhood.

Cleveland + Henry Higgins =
-Profession: Community and Economic Development

-Favorite automatic transmission position: Reverse because of parallel parking

-A recent newlywed, you had a hard time convincing yourself that you loved your wife more than Cleveland, Ohio.  Are you and Cleveland going through relationship counseling now?:  She's okay.  It was funny, though, that there was an extended drought that coincided with the wedding.  But she talks to me with a pretty street scape or scene in a quasi-Cockney accent.

-If you had the freedom to create any sand castle mold, what would it be?:  A replica of Cleveland.  It would be to scale with buildings and bridges, streets and grids.

-You're the 15th bearded gift exchanger.  Are you jolly?: I think I'm jolly.  But that's not because of the beard.  My wife loves scruffy-looking guys so I do it for that reason.

June 22: "Robert's Rules" book, Teddy Bear, 4 Boxes of Crayola Crayons, and "Piled Higher and Deeper" Graduate Cartoon Book

Saturday, June 23, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 12:20 AM
Given to Rachelle from Denise.

I had a first happen to me this evening.  I needed to use the bathroom prior to my exchange with Rachelle; that's not the first I'm referring to, by the way.  I walk to the men's room and I open the door to see a man already squatted there on the toilet looking quite surprised to see someone else enter his space.  In a scene that seemed to lose all sound and smell, I quickly clutched the handle while bowing rapidly and offering condolences.  It could have been a whole lot worse if it was a unisex bathroom with my gender counterpart doing her thang.  When he came out and walked past me at the Starbucks counter, I asked him if I could buy him a slice of raspberry loaf (they had a full plate of seven in the showcase) to try to make up for a lack of a lock.  Nothin' doin'.

I particularly like Robert's Rules, which is a guide on how to run a meeting.  The book, the cover claims, is written in "plain English"; I prefer broken English, but that's just me.  I did a little search on Amazon and the book gets five stars and rave reviews from tons of people who say the book is great for running meetings and the language is clear, etc.  Why then do you have Robert's Rules for Dummies and a Complete Idiot's Guide to Robert's Rules?

The Cliffs Notes version of "Robert's
Rules" is entitled "Bob's Rule"
-Profession: Starbucks Supervisor

-Favorite grade of gas: 87

-You have mentioned your fondness of cuddling with your boyfriend.  At what point does cuddling turn into spooning?:  About the 20-minute mark.  It's right after I turn over and get comfy on the warm side.

-Do you think Robert's Rules could apply--in any way--to the bedroom?:  Absolutely!  I run things there anyway, but this can only help.

-You enjoy braiding hair.  Rank the following items to braid by easiest to hardest: al dente fettucini, hair, yarn, jumper cables, pull & peel licorice:
1) yarn
2) pull & peel licorice
3) hair
4) al dente fettucini
5) jumper cables

June 21: Desktop Titanic Kit, Starbucks giftcard, Go French Cards, Stress Ball, Keychain Rubik's Cube and "@" Letter Opener

Friday, June 22, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 8:18 AM
Given to Denise from Lori.
My feelings are sinking right now
I may need to borrow this "feel good & de-stress" kit as Lori described it from Denise very shortly.  The challenge, for all of us reading here above the equator, is we hit the summer solstice today, which means the days are going to get progressively darker and lead us into winter.  When the winter solstice hits, I'm full of unbounded enthusiasm and hope that the days are getting lighter and better weather is 'round the corner.  If there was ever a time I would consider smoking and writing depressing poetry, it's on the summer solstice.

Was really disappointed she wasn't
part of the U.S. tax code
-Profession: Senior Associate Dean

-Favorite bean: Black Bean

-You like to read.  You also like to run.  Do you ever do both at the same time at the gym like some people do on the stationary bike?:  No, I can't do that.  I'm usually working out way too hard to do both.

-The SP-350 Denise is what?:
[A] type of lime green paint made by Behr
[B] part of the IRS tax code
[C] number is registry of baby names
[D] submarine invented by Jacques Cousteau

I would guess [B].  That sounds about right.  (The answer's [D])

-You also do Executive Leadership Coaching.  Do the sessions all occur over a power lunch?:  No, not at all.  Most are over the phone or one-on-one in a setting outside their office.  We sometimes get a power coffee at Starbucks.

June 20: Garden Water Nozzle, Pair of Gardening Gloves, and Spray Can

Thursday, June 21, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 3:14 AM
Given to Lori from Nancy.
If you even touch this nozzle, it turns into a billy club
I should go back and rename yesterday's story "Junk to Treasure: Part 1" and name today's story "Junk to Treasure: Part 2".  Nancy lives on the 16th floor and wanted to bring some green to her living space.  She went out and got a bunch of plants and made her balcony space look like a jungle.  Literally the day after she gets her final plant on the balcony, a call comes from her landlord to take everything down because they were going to completely renovate the entire facade of her building.  Goodbye nozzle, gloves, and spray can because Nancy couldn't use them anymore.

I pack the items up in my bag and give them to Lori.  Honestly, I've never seen anyone more thrilled by a garden water nozzle than she was this morning.  As it turns out, she just mentioned to her husband last week about getting one of these for her outdoor watering needs because she waters everything now by carrying buckets of water around the yard.  Welcome to Martha Stewart watering!

European b.o. could use a "woman's
-Profession: Graphic Designer

-Favorite kind of door: Wooden Door with Big Brass Animal Knocker

-In your spare time, you garden.  Do you talk to your plants?: No
-If you did, would you tell them what they wanted to hear or what was good for them?:  I'd say something like, "C'mon buddy, grow!  I sacrificed a pair of new shoes for you."  And actually that's true.  My priorities have changed where I've put so much money into the plants that I had to give up a new pair of shoes.

-When in the U.K., would you ask for a ride in a truck or lorry?:  A lorry, of course!

-On a cross-country trip that lasted one month, you took three showers.  In retrospect, you admit that's too low a time-to-shower ratio.  What's the minimum ratio?:
Who am I to dictate how people should keep themselves clean?  I am an active rower and shower every day in the summer.  But I only wash my hair every three days.

My husband and I went to Europe on our honeymoon and actually sought people out who smelled to come back and say we smelled some Europeans.  The only time I was put off by it was when we were on our way home and there were these two smelly guys near our boarding area.  If they were seated on the same plane, I would have gotten sick.

June 19: Electrostatic Carpet Sweeper

Tuesday, June 19, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 9:24 PM
Given to Nancy from Holli.

Lists "wall-to-wall carpeting" as her fourth
biggest turn-on on eHarmony
The vacuum was a wedding present that Holli and her hubby Dan received from her 80-year old aunt.  Her aunt claimed that this sweeper would "transform her life".  Buried in a closet and two years later, Holli remains stoic to this day about using electric, plug-in appliances.

Then you have Nancy.  Nancy prefers the Amish way of life and thus was thrilled with the push vac.  She sprang up from her chair and started sweeping her office carpeting.  Her co-worker Tony comes out and she excitedly tells him what she got as her gift.  He, too, marvels at the antiquity.  This couldn't have worked out any better.  Okay, it may have been a little better if a Chippendale dancer would have swept Nancy's office.

-Profession: Actress

-Favorite onion: Vidalia

-If someone called you a Negative Nancy, what would you do to convince them otherwise?:  I'd laugh at them because that's so not who I am!  A Negative Nancy would get all bent out of shape if she was called that.

-Often you act out illnesses to help train doctors.  Which has been your favorite?:  Schizophrenia.  I was on meds, but I kept telling the doc that "I was fine, everything's fine, and it was time to get off my meds".

-Does Sluggo provide all the qualities you're looking for in a man?:  He doesn't.  He never calls and he  never writes.  
Maybe Nancy and Sluggo need a 'cooling off' period

June 18: 1950s-era Cuban Iced Tea Glasses

Posted by 366 White Elephants at 7:39 AM
Given to Holli from Terri.

Terri took me on a trip straight into my imagination.  The set of six iced tea glasses was from her grandparents who visited Cuba in the 1950s before Castro took control.  She has photos showing what life was like back then--as Terri describes it, the economy was centered around tourism and the commercial life was very entrepreneurial.  I could just imagine her grandparents there at the time, strolling along a bustling sidewalk and finding these charming glasses for sale next to a guy peddling some bananas.

The good news is you don't have to have these glasses to take a trip to Imagination City.  I noticed I can  achieve the same effect when I take out an applesauce from the freezer from a different year.  For example, I pulled out a 2008 batch just the other day.  As my family and I were having dinner, our minds wandered back to that year.  One of us is like, "Pete, what were you even like in 2008?  Do you even remember what kind of food you liked back then?  That's so crazy!"  And we try to remember the notable events from that year.  It can take up a good 15 minutes of dinner-time conversation.

'That'll be the day' when Holli
has witty friends
-Profession: Social Worker

-Favorite summer BBQ item: Hamburgers

-Until going out of business in 1915, the Holly Motor Company produced what?
[A] prototype for a Hummer
[B] a 5, 6 or 7 passenger touring car
[C] a high-speed van that went as fast as 40 mph

[B]!  Although it would have been great if they had Hummers back then.

-Do you have any friends who call you their buddy?:  No one says that.  No one says this is my 'buddy Holli'.  I don't have many witty friends.

-The leaves of a Holly plant are used to make which drink?
[A] Yerba Mate tea
[B] a natural variety of 5-hour energy
[C] Holly beer with 5.8% ABV

[A] That's so cool!  You've provided me with some fun party conversation now!

June 17: Reptile mask and Carlos Santana CD poster

Sunday, June 17, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 7:11 PM
Given to Terri from E.J.

It's Father's Day!  And what better way to celebrate by telling you one of my favorite father-son stories.  When I was about 12 or so, my dad worked for Domino's Pizza.  One evening, I called him up to see if he could bring home a pie for the fam and me 'cause we were all hungry and stuff and he got a pretty sweet (that is, to say, free) discount off any of Domino's creation.  When I called him, I was put on hold and was on there for a long-ass time waiting for him to pick up.

Around this time in my life, I was a big Star Trek: The Next Generation fan.  I loved Patrick Stewart (still do) and would mimic him and his wonderful accent whenever I could.  When I was put on hold, it gave me some idle time to work on my craft.  I launched into ordering the shields down and telling my "number one" to take the bridge and I'll be in my ready room and all that nonsense.  Through some glitch in the Domino's phone system, I was put on the company-wide intercom for all the workers and pick-up patrons to hear.  Instead of my dad picking up after like 8 minutes, the guy who put me "on hold", said he'd like to give me a free order of breadsticks and a 2-liter bottle of Coke for the trouble.  Ha!

Back to the gifts...the poster is one to let everyone know of a new CD that's out by Carlos Santana.  And the mask is one that E.J. had and passed along to a few other people in a bush-league white elephant gift swap.  His only request is that Terri wear it at least once during the year (those rules were in effect in the prior exchanges).

-Profession: Waitress

-Favorite toasted item:  Ciabatta bread with turkey, sundried tomatoes and white cheddar cheese

-When you clean your house, do you use terry cloth rags?:  Never.  Have you seen my home?

-Is doing laundry on your laundry list of things to do?:  No.  It's at the bottom.  I only do it when I need to wear something.

-We're already good neighbors.  Would a fence make us even better neighbors?:  No.  We've both got fences (for our pooches) that are low enough to say 'hi' and high enough to contain our space.

June 16: Chivas Regal Scotch Whiskey gift set

Posted by 366 White Elephants at 12:25 AM
Given to E.J. from Bill.
All E.J. needs now is some old leather furniture and a pipe
to round the gift set out
I've seen people grinning ear to ear after consuming alcohol, but never before it as E.J. was upon receipt of his gift; it will be his celebratory drink after he passes his MCAT, the test that smart people who want to be doctors have to pass before going on to that cakewalk of an education in medical school.  When I saw E.J. some time ago, my co-worker thought he had nice shoes (sans pick-up line, I should clarify...and do women even try saying that to men anyway?  Where's the current issue of Cosmo?), but that didn't help to ease E.J.'s  stressed feeling in studying and cramming and eventually taking this mother of a test.

Bill was getting rid of this fine scotch whiskey set because he got it as a gift from someone who thought he liked alcohol, when truth be told he does not imbibe in spirits of any kind.  FYI: The small tagline on this Chivas Regal bottle, which you probably can't see, says it's the "Prince of Whiskies".  Bill's preferred drink is Crystal Light because he says only the people who will sit down with you and drink a pouch are actually your friends.  I can buy that logic.  I kinda do the same thing when I play pick-up basketball.  I am a tall pouch of water--a whopping 6'5"--but I'll stoop when we're choosing teams because I only want to the on the team where someone really wants me.  They think they're doing me a favor by the pick, but when I block my first four shots and pick the rebounds off the glass with such grace, I will be doing them the favor.

The sultan of gin
-Profession: Researcher; Student

-Favorite nocturnal creature:  Desert tortoise

-E.J. stands for your full name.  But if you were at a party and trying to pick up the ladies, what would you pretend those initials stood for?:  The first thing that came to mind was 'extra juicy'.  Elton John works, too.

-You and your family have a pet rooster, but without any hen playmates.  How would you feel about being under the care of a family of dolphins with no human girls around?:  Deprived,  yes, and bored.  What does that rooster do all day?  Lonely.

-In your spare time you work on cars, performing any routine maintenance from changing the oil to fixing the alternator.  How many more hours until you become a 'grease monkey apprentice'?:  Malcolm Gladwell said in order to be an expert at something you have to spend 10,000 hours doing it.  I would say I need 7,500 more hours until I can be an apprentice.

June 15: Crystal Growing Kit and Dig-a-Glow Dinosaur Kit

Saturday, June 16, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 12:36 AM
Given to Bill from Adam.

Ahh, the elementary school science fair.  In fifth grade, Mike Haas (of baseball trading card fame) and I teamed up on a project to grow our own sugar and salt crystals.  It was an A+ effort, largely due to the fact that just the previous year before my older brother Mike and Steve Haas did a project on growing crystals.  My friend Mike and I teamed up to do crystals again in 6th grade and 7th grade.  I think we even used the same trifold poster and swapped out the pictures from year-to-year.  How our seventh grade teacher Mrs. Ollila (like Delilah by Tom Jones, which I used to hear in my head going into her classroom..."why, why, why, O-Llila?...cue the blaring trumpets), did not figure out our little scheme is beyond my comprehension now and beyond my comprehension then as an 12-year old.

Like the Nolan-Bale Batman trilogy, the legend ended in eighth grade when Mike's voice deepened and he decided to work with someone else on the science project.  As a side note, I think the switch was motivated by the baseball card fiasco.  In any event, I partnered up with Mike Morales and we tried floating the crystal project past Mrs. O, but the break in continuity somehow caused her critical thinking skills to be activated and she nixed it.  Instead, Mike M. and I measured the pH of commercial orange juices, and our paper eventually got published in Science.  

Sheryl Crow thinks a change would
do Bill some good
-Profession: Starbucks Manager

-Favorite Vegas attraction: Dancing Fountains

-What would an accountant be called at Starbucks Corporate Headquarters?:  Bean counter
-If called a bean counter, what should his/her retort be?:  Don't make me cut your beans!

-If you were buying a $1 5th Avenue bar and paid with a $5, would you prefer 16 quarters or 4 "bills" back?:  4 bills.  I hate change.

-You're the 14th bearded gift exchanger.  Are you jolly?:  Sometimes.  It depends on the day.

June 14: Radio Shack Metal Detector

Friday, June 15, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 8:04 AM
Given to Adam from Ryan.
I bet there's a whole pile of unclaimed treasure
in the filing cabinet
Adam and I had the same two reactions to the metal detector: (1) we didn't realize the pole telescoped out by that little orange knob; and (2) we thought the TSA could use it if their systems should ever go down and we fake scanned people in our vicinity as if we were TSA employees using it in a pinch.  A pat-down is our first preference by far, but if they needed to, they could make do.

I'm amazed whenever I go through the TSA checkpoint at the airport to see their gigantic frame filled with all sorts of goodies--lighters, knives, gun, nunchucks, and any other kind of banned weapon or explosive.  I wonder what they do with the excess.  I hope they divide the bounty up at a staff poker game.  It would be a waste to throw them away and a crime to resell them to a pawn shop owner.

Separately, when I go through the checkpoint, I feel the same obligation to make meaningful chit-chat with the person checking the IDs and those working the scanning machines as I do when I go to my massotherapist.  Like I'm really trying to let them know this isn't one-sided and that the public does care about them and we're not just taking their service for granted!

His wife's going to be really
annoyed on their next beach vacation
-Profession: Consulting

-Favorite golf club: Driver

-On behalf of all people named Adam in the world, would you discourage a courtship and union with anyone named Eve?:  Highly.  And you'd only get annoying humor at the first meeting anyway.

-Do you give 'a dam(n)' about your gifts?:  Yes, I do.  I don't want to ever see the gifts I gave away again--they're infuriatingly difficult.  But the metal detector...yeah...I'll bury stuff in my yard and my son and I can find it.

-Rate your preference for finding the following objects with your new metal detector: pirate coin, slinky, gold tooth.:
1) gold tooth--it gives the highest potential to make up a good story
2) pirate coin--there are not nor were many pirates in the American Midwest
3) slinky--it's just a token gift

June 13: 2 Beanie Babies, 2 Packs of Chocolate Covered Pretzels, and Unknown Ceramic Creation

Thursday, June 14, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 8:22 AM
Given to Ryan from Clara.

Last night, we passed the 10,000 page hits mark, which got everyone here at the GWEE 2012 staff pumped.  We, being me, celebrated like Justin Timberlake in The Social Network where the office is decorated with banners and stuff and he's bouncing around and glad-handing anyone with a pulse.  The only difference being that I wrote down the number of my page hits on a post-it and attached it to an empty Kombucha beverage can and I turned on my Mac's camera function and had an imaginary conversation congratulating myself.

Ryan gets the fortunate gift bundle of 2 Beanie Babies (I'm sure we'll see more of these as the year continues), 2 packs of chocolate covered pretzels, and this ceramic thing whose function is a mystery.

-Profession: College student

-Favorite Peanuts character: Woodstock

-In the summers off from school, you work at Red Lobster.  Have you had discussions with co-workers  if there are colors of other kinds of lobsters?:  We have as a matter of fact. I would really like to see a blue lobster myself.

-As a criminal justice major, do you have a photo of Sam Waterston in your wallet along with photos of your family and friends?:   You’ve clearly been going through my wallet. Right next to my Walker Texas Ranger photo.

-What kinds of cheesy tourism advertisements from other states do you hear on the radio/tv in your home state?:  Those California ads that have all the “celebrities” talk about what California is not like, it’s rough to watch.

June 12: Cartman Plush Doll

Wednesday, June 13, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 12:52 AM
Given to Clara from Sarah.
I got the 'stink eye' from another clerk when I placed him
on the scale
From grades 1-8, my family sold Malley's (where Clara works) crisped rice and almond candy bars as a fundraiser for the grade school I attended.  And every year, our family came in first place for the greatest number of candy bars sold.  Some years, such as in 1992, we beat out the Rotkowski family by eight bars--800 to 792--where other years we smoked the second place laughers by 300 bars or more.  The top prize was $200 every year that none of us kids saw, but likely went to new brake pads on my dad's Chevy Malibu or new shears for the living room windows.

Over those eight magical years, our family bought a few bars to eat.  On the back of the wrapper was a coupon to Buy One Hot Fudge Sundae, Get One Free.  Well, we have a stack so tall that if I used all of them consecutively, Wilford Brimley and I would be having a heart-to-heart about diabeetus.  When I bring friends to Malley's for some ice cream treats and use the BOGO (I love that acronym) coupons, I insist on sitting on the merry-go-round that my aunt claims gives her motion sickness.  I don't feel the sensation of losing my lunch, but I can only take it for about an hour 10 tops, then I've gotta split like a banana.

"They should cover Wilford Brimley
in chocolate!"
-Profession: Candy Store Manager

-Favorite dog trick: Sit up and Beg

-What's the next best thing covered in chocolate?:  Turkey

-Do you feel an urge to brush your teeth a lot?:  I have a sweet tooth, but eat candy in moderation.  I probably have three malt balls a day.  I brush my teeth 3x a day at the minimum, and then a couple of times in between that.

-What was your first car?: A 1959 black Ford Galaxie.  Boy was that a nice car.

June 11: Homemade Starbucks Bag

Tuesday, June 12, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 12:22 AM
Given to Sarah from SuzAnne.

The bag is fantastic--truly one of a kind!  It's similar to those recycled wallets or handbags you can buy that are made from old juice boxes or milk cartons.  SuzAnne, who works at Starbucks, sewed several 1-lb. coffee bags together to form this going-out bag.  Sarah, who loves coffee, was thrilled.

In talking with Sarah and her friend Sam tonight--both of whom are teachers--I was stunned to learn at how many Starbucks or Caribou Coffee gift cards they get at the end of the year, at Christmastime, etc.  Sam gets so many cards that she buys coffee mugs she doesn't need.

I have been called crazy before, but here's an idea that makes a ton of sense: we need to create registries for non-traditional events and for teacher appreciation.  Let me explain.  I was moving to a new apartment and there are several items I still need.  I needed a new frying pan until my lovely friend Audrey stepped in and bought me a very nice, fire engine red Le Creuset model.  If I had a new apartment registry, I could list the things I needed so my friends could get me, for example, a DVD player.  In the case of teachers, I think the teacher should put the max amount of Starbucks gift cards they want and then list whatever else they want.

P.S. I'm told teachers want no more apple products (MacBooks, iPads are okay, though).

Has never witnessed a teacher eating
a Tastykake
-Profession: Teacher

-Favorite auto transportation medium: Parkway

-As a former figure skater, relate a successful triple toe loop with a major life event:  Marrying the man of my dreams.

-Did your Polish family take a side during the deadly Pierogi Wars?:  We were not a divided family--we stuck with potato.  However, I will buy cheese from the supermarket.  So I guess you can call me the Switzerland of Polish pierogis.

-What can you discern from a fellow teacher's secondary snack (i.e. Yoplait yogurt, celery with peanut butter)?:  If you are eating a secondary snack, you're doing something wrong.  Most teachers only have time for a salad because they have so many other things to do.

June 10: Ohio State University Tailgate Kit

Monday, June 11, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 1:31 AM
Given to SuzAnne from Mary.
Front view: Condiment Set

Back view: Tablecloth
Chipotle must have some kind of unwritten dress code where everyone who works there has to have multiple tattoos.  As I waited to order my veggie bowl with an extra scoop of guacamole today, this one girl's tattoo neck collage caught my eye, although it did not have subtitles underneath the intertwining Chinese letters, so their meaning must have been, "There can be only one...The Highlander".

Then, I looked up and noticed the girl assembling the burritos or bowls (your first point of the assembly line) had several, plus a bonus nose ring included at no extra charge.   We were four out of four employees with tattoos until I came upon the check-out girl, who had none on her neck, face, or forearms; every other part of her body was covered with her uniform.  I really wanted to ask her if she was being harassed by her co-workers for not having visible tattoos and if I needed to call Corporate to complain on her behalf.  I could have also asked to see if she had any that were not visible--my presumption was there either was one on her ankle (a butterfly) or inner calf (rainbow).

-Profession: Jane of All Trades; Barista

-Favorite thing you'd find underwater: Sand Dollar

-The motto for C.F. Burger Creamery is "you're the cream of my coffee; you're the cream of my life".  What kind of man or woman could get away with saying that during the courting stage of a relationship?: An extra bold type of man.  I don't know if a woman would say that.

-You would you rather rock climb with--Suzanne Somers, Suzanne Pleshette or Suzanne Collins?:  I'd take Suzanne Collins because we're about the same age.  We could also have a little book club chat about The Hunger Games.

-Is your cup half-empty or half-full?:  Depending on the day, I try to live my life on the full end of things.

June 9: Kaito High Sensitivity AM/FM radio

Sunday, June 10, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 10:27 AM
Given to Mary from Art.

Mary and I are college friends and picked our 10-year class reunion to get together to exchange random gifts.  After going back and forth on how it had been since our last sight of one another (I thought it was maybe 7 years ago at my college roommate's NYE party where I kept haranguing a guy who was a nurse in this party game--I trash talked and kept calling him a "male nurse"--you had to be there), but she thought it was maybe my college roommate's wife's birthday party that takes place in August.  Neither were true and we hadn't seen each other since May of our graduation year.  Well, I found that she and many of my fellow alumni looked like spring chickens.  So keep up the good work, Mary.

Prior to meeting up with Mary, I stopped at my favorite mushroom grower to pick up a couple of pounds of shiitake mushrooms and some mushroom stock so I could make many delights with them, risotto being pretty high on the list.  Since I was going to meet some people and the heat was going pretty strong today, I called my friend who was out of town to see if I could store the goods in his refrigerator until I left.  When I got there, the door was open and the cleaning woman was there.  She said, "I came in the nick of time".  After probing her with some questions, we stepped out on the back porch to find a raccoon trapped in a cage.  I moved the little guy to the back edge of the property, unlatched the hook and sent Free Ricky out into the world so he could forage for garbage one more day.  

-Profession: Lawyer

-Favorite bar question: 12th essay on wills and testaments

-Would you sue a company whose sprinkler system got your pant suit wet?:  You need to sign a retainer with me now.  But to answer your question, no, I would call the sprinkler system "open and obvious".  And the damages were only temporary.  However, if the pant suit was silk...

-If you and your husband were estranged, is he the kind of guy to dress up like Mrs. Doubtfire?:  No, he'd be on a tropical island sending postcards to his children.

-When you do pro bono work, do you do it for Sonny or Chaz?:  For Chaz, but only the Dancing with the Stars Chaz--when he's bedazzled and outfitted for the ballroom.

June 8: Handcrafted Ceramic Vase

Saturday, June 9, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 9:28 AM
Given to Art from Kate.

The cool thing about this gift is that it was made by an 80-year old man.

Art told me a joke about gift giving.  Enjoy!

A man wakes up in bed and looks for his wife.  He looks over and sees a note on her pillow.  The note says, "You bastard.  You forgot our anniversary!"  He flips it over and it says, "You can make it up to me with something that will go from 0 to 200 in 6 seconds."

The next morning, the wife wakes up and her husband is gone.  There's a note on his pillow saying, "Check the driveway for your gift."  She excitedly puts on her robe and slippers and runs out to the driveway where a medium-sized box sits with decorative ribbons all around it.  She runs out and opens it.   Inside is a bathroom scale.

2nd vanity plate choice:
-Profession: Computer Business Owner

-Favorite dog: Mutt

-How do you imitate life?:  You're looking at it.

-Do computer builders sing a song like the parts of the body tune (i.e. the fan is connected to the motherboard, the motherboard's connected to the hard drive)?:  No, we just throw tools around and swear.

-What would your vanity plates be?:  NO CPUS