July 31: Bank (with 18 cents), Pair of Slippers, Stuffed Mule Plush Toy and Sculpt It Clay Molding Kit

Tuesday, July 31, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 10:45 PM
Given to Beth from Christine.

A little description of the gifts is in order.  The bank is one that counts the change as it goes down the chute via an electronic counter.  Before giving it away, Christine reset the counter from $25 down to $0 and then tested the counter by filling it with 18 cents.  If I could have a genie give me three wishes, one of those wishes would be to know what she was thinking at upping the ante to 18 cents and stopping there.  Was she playing some new Price is Right game in her mind where she didn't want to go over?  Is that her lucky number?  Dying to know when she felt satisfied that, yep, the counter was working all right.

Also included were a pair of slippers that Christine says you could wear around a hotel room if you wanted to kick your shoes off and relax a little--but not too much.  Beth loved them actually, even though they were a squeench too big.  We round out the gifts with a stuffed mule plush toy and a clay molding kit.

Signs all credit card purchases with
her "John Hancock"
Beth
-Profession: College student

-Favorite # of rungs in a chair: 3

-Give your prowess playing the tuba, what would you estimate the average age of a child to be who could fit in the tuba bell?:  24 months at most

-You have spent time traveling in the UK and the accents there make anyone hotter.  Rank the following UK accents in order from hot to hottest (Scottish, Welsh, Irish, English): Welsh--N/A (I don't think I've heard one), Irish, Scottish, English.

-You always keep a copy of the U.S. Constitution on you.  What amendment or article do you most frequently reference?:  1st Amendment

-% of the time you reference the copy for yourself: 60%
-% of the time you reference the copy for friends: 30%
-% of the time you reference the copy for family: 10%
-% of the time you reference the copy for strangers: 0%

-Which signer of the Constitution has the most street cred: James Madison

July 30: Tea Tin with Earl Grey Tea and Previously Unopened Journal Notebook Christmas Present

Posted by 366 White Elephants at 12:50 AM
Given to Christine from Elizabeth.

Elizabeth could not say how long it had been in her mom's house, but it probably was years.  This little unopened Christmas present that she got for someone was hanging out in one of her mom's closets--the intended recipient far from living memory.  "I honestly don't know who this gift was for or when I wrapped it, but I believe I got it for someone," says Elizabeth.  Relying strictly on the sense of touch, you could make out a spiral binding, indented cover, and what appeared to be pages.  A journal was certainly a valid guess, as was a Cancun vacation photo album containing memories of hot summer romance and good judgment on holiday.  "I'm just as curious to know what it is as the recipient of it is," she explains. "But what if it's really embarrassing?  I don't normally take big risks, but this feels right."

Well, big risk turned into expected surprise when Christine opened a lavender-colored journal, printed in the late 1990s.  The tea in the tin also proved most welcome by Christine who enjoys tea and was looking for a black tea at the office when all was there was herbal nonsense.

Banchees won't kiss until at least the
4th date
Christine
-Profession: Communications Professional

-Favorite obstacle in an obstacle course: Fallen tree

-"Christine" is a song recorded by the British rock band Siouxsie and the Banchees.  What do you think a banchee looks for in a date?:  Definitely spontaneity.  Likes to party hard.  And they've gotta like rock-n-roll.  They also have to drink.

-What are new adventures of old Christine: hitchhiking through South America
-What are old adventures of new Christine: going back to Nepal
-What are semi-new/semi old adventures of middle-aged Christine: taking my daughter to Paris

-You're flexible through your practice of yoga.  In the following list of vehicles, please answer 'Confident' or 'Not Confident' as to whether you can successfully change clothes in them:
-Semi--very confident
-Mid-size SUV--confident
-Compact sedan--confident
-Smart Car--not confident
-Vespa--not confident

July 29: Birthday Cake Notepad

Monday, July 30, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 12:04 AM
Given to Elizabeth from Sarah.

I have a sneaking suspicion that one or two members of the Olympic team are following my blog.  Ever since the start of the London Olympics, the page views from the UK have increased noticeably.  I'd like to shamelessly self-promote and ask that if you are an Olympian and reading this blog, can you write the web address in White-Out on your swimcap or get a temporary tattoo on your tricep?  Or just email me and let me know how things are going and if you'd like a care package sent to you?  My mom makes a mean chocolate chip cookie and I know a thing or two about trail mix.  I have an unlimited budget for Sudoku books, so I'll make sure there are enough in there to get you through the next several days.

If you are not an Olympian and are just a Brit who enjoys a good time, I say, "Cheerio!"  I've never been to your fine isle, but I hear great things.  Here's something to talk about at your next high tea: Americans who think they're being funny will talk about Brits and their tea and crumpets.  I've never had a crumpet (a kind of griddle cake), but they look delicious.  When you make fun of Americans, do your jokes involve us eating T.G.I. Friday's mozzarella sticks?


What would a kiss for your
insides be?
Elizabeth
-Profession: English Teacher

-Favorite favorite in Internet Explorer: NYTimes.com

-You attended the Bread Loaf School of English in Middlebury, VT for your Masters program.
-Who are the upper crust?:  Robert Frost and probably Paul Muldoon
-Who ends up as toast?:  Joseph Battell, who wrote Ellen--or Whisperings of an Old Pine, the story about a girl who fell in love with a pine tree
-Do kids wake up with breadcrumbs in their eyes?:  No, but that would add to its charm.

-You teach at a Quaker school.  Tell me an expression that would inspire someone, while referencing Quaker Oats:  Eat your Quaker Oats: A nice warm hug for your insides in the morning.

-As an English major, you developed a love for haiku.  You also attended a cousin's wedding this weekend.  Write a haiku based on love.
There is no secret
It all comes down to this truth:
Love one another


July 28: Lantern

Saturday, July 28, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 9:48 PM
Given to Sarah from Tiffany.

Tiffany decided to give a lantern to Sarah because it holds special significance.  Like the light a lantern casts in the darkness, Tiffany has lived in the moment, guided by the light that emanates around her; she had loved every minute of living her life that way. There's a certain freedom and clarity that comes from living this way.

If you've recently applied for a job and been turned down, the phrase "at this time" probably is not clear and freeing.  The sentiment expressed in a rejection letter reads like this, "While we received many qualified applications, we are unable to move you in to the next round of interviews 'at this time'.   It's the HR equivalent of "yada yada yada".  When are you moving me into the interviews?  Next month?  Next year?  Next time Halley's comet comes around?

Think, just think, for one moment how ridiculous that phrase sounds in other contexts:
-We're sorry, but our Kool-Aid stand is out of grape at this time.
-My girlfriend and I are not engaging in intercourse at this time.
-Uncle Benny cannot remember the years 1967-1972 at this time.
-Currently, the firetruck is out of water at this time.
-The defibrillator is not working at this time.

The next item in the
Showcase Showdown
Sarah
-Profession: Teacher

-Favorite tongue twister: She sells sea shells down by the seashore.

-If the singer Lonestar was meeting a date at Lonestar Steakhouse, what might he call her and tell her prior to the date?:  Giddy up?  [How about 'I'm already there'?]

-If Doris Day sang "Que Sarah, Sarah" (Whatever will be, will be), what would be the exception to that  for you?:  Nothing will get between me and my trip to Kamchatka, the far eastern side of Russia, assuming it's in a non-volcanic state.

-You've grown up and worked on a farm.  What catastrophic event generated the expression 'bought the farm'?:  Something that had to do with a water spout.

July 27: Jasper Egg

Posted by 366 White Elephants at 1:19 AM
Given to Tiffany from Brigitte.
Fossilized Whitman's Sampler egg, circa the Mesozoic Era
This past week, I got stuck in traffic for two hours on my way into work--delayed by three consecutive accidents on the highway.  I had some time to think about all sorts of things, including the following three:

1) Michael Buble's song I Just Haven't Met You Yet is either a clever way to control population growth, while simultaneously exploding the number of singles events or it is a countdown theme song until cloning technology is perfected to have a Kate Upton for everyone.

2) Some people say their shit doesn't stink.  Some people say you shouldn't shit where you eat.  Combine those two thoughts and your shit smells like reheated leftover turkey and mashed potatoes that you had for dinner last night.

3) I never got really good at using a hoe in the garden.  And I don't feel too compelled to get any better at this point in my life.

Tiffany Western-Union was too long
for most of her applications
Tiffany
-Profession: Jack-of-all-trades

-Favorite way to hold a person's hair: Bobby Pin

-You're familiar with "children of the corn".  What do you think "children of the barley" are like?:  They're hangin' from the chandeliers in some pub and their parents are rooting them on.

-Your last name is Cashon.  In times of economic downturn or when you want to use a credit card or online form of payment, is a name change to Cashoff warranted?:  No, not yet.  It sounds like I should be prancing around on stage some place, though.

-For the four men who play the Fruit of the Loom fruits, do they have girlfriends/wives?:  They definitely have significant others.
-Are they all fruits as well?:  Yes, all like-minded fruits.
-Are they tempted by the fruit of another?:  Of course.  And the bunch of grapes is the most scandalous one.

-A girl by the name of Tiffany Luccarelli left my elementary school in 5th grade never to be heard from again.  Are you her?:  No, I am not.

July 26: "Food Network Favorites" Cookbook

Friday, July 27, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 12:33 AM
Given to Brigitte from Josh.

As I pass cars on simple two-lane streets, I take casual notice of their license plates.  If they begin with GGH (FYI: not my real plate number.  I withhold that information for obvious reasons, most notably, there is a Best of Sugar Ray CD in the passenger side door), I squint even longer at the car because there's a chance I was at the BMV at the same time they were getting their plates.  And if there's a close match, for instance GGH 1242 and GGH 1266, I stare at the driver in hopes that her tired, forlorn face will jump out at me, triggering a memory.  Was she the girl buying bubblegum at 9:40 in the morning?  Or the one moaning to Allison about her boyfriend trouble?  This evening, I saw a couple of GGH's sputtering along on the road.  Perhaps the drivers of those vehicles are wondering the same thing about me?

There is no translation for
"Excel Ninja"
Brigitte
-Profession: Tutor

-Favorite hand greeting: Firm handshake where you get a good grip on the palm

-You love cigars.  Have you had a Havana?:  Not yet, but you'd have to drive up to Canada to get one and I'm not driving to Canada for a cigar.
-Are there certain times when you'll smoke one?:  I like to smoke and drive my car.  I also like to have one when I'm visiting with family and friends--smoking it always outdoors.

-You have 2 T's in your name.  Do you think there is a certain hierarchy when people have double letters in their name (i.e. the double A's and S's in Scandinavian names)?:  I don't know if there's a hierarchy.  If you have a double consonant, it's usually of foreign origin.  Mine could be French, German, English or Spanish, for instance.

-You have taught ESL (English as a Second Language).  Did you teach your students any swear words?:  No swear words.  But I had to teach them about the workplace craziness that goes on.  There was this text called The Chronicles of Duda.  In it, I remember a disgruntled office worker thought his boss was trying to kill him; it was presented in an ironic manner.

July 25: German and English versions of Angewandte Chemie (a chemical engineering publication) , Falafel mix, and Starbucks giftcard

Thursday, July 26, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 12:19 AM
Given to Josh from Jack.
Both versions list a delicious recipe for branzino

Here's how Jack wrapped it...brilliant!

I had to stay late for a work event--a barbecue followed by a live band performance.  Once people were done eating, I shuttled them from the food to the music in a six passenger golf cart.  This proved most enjoyable for the following reasons:

1) My dream profession--listed here previously--is zoo tram operator.  I am getting closer.
2) I had no horn, so in order to shoo people away on the sidewalk, I bellowed in a high British accent, "You there, umm, excuse me.  (throat clear)
3) I gave people rides to the entertainment who were not part of the work event.  They were the privileged few who sneered at the commoners on foot.
4) I exchanged tacit waves with other workers for the music event who did not have anything to do with my work event.  It's like, "Hey brotha, I got you."  And I'm like, "On the flip side, homeskillet."  It's kind of like the waves bus drivers exchange with one another when they pass.
5) I got to impress a few septuagenarians with polite small talk about cities and weather.

Josh
-Profession: Educational activism

-Favorite food color: Yellow #5 in Mountain Dew

-You currently play collegiate baseball.  Are there any times in a ball game when you really do want a belly-itcher?:  Absolutely.  I pitch and when you're a pitcher you get more downtime.  It would be nice to have someone scratch my belly.

-You enjoy cooking.  In your highly-esteemed culinary opinion, what, if any, is the missing ingredient in a batch of stone soup?:  Love.  People are bringing only what they can find.  The love nurtures the soup.  It's what makes my grandmother's cooking so good.

-You work for a group called the Global Ethics Leadership Society, whose acronym is GELS.  Are you gellin'?:  Definitely like Magellan.  We put out a lot of programs and you have to be gellin' to make all of them work well.

July 24: $10

Tuesday, July 24, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 11:42 PM
Given to Jack from Ernie.
Now he can buy the pen and pencil set he's always dreamed about
It's not a great leap of the imagination to go from Michael to Mikey to Mike.  They're all various forms of the same name, which mimics the transition Tony Stark goes through to become Iron Man.  We all know it's him and there are no surprises; we're just waiting for Robert Downey Jr. to put on the damn suit and kiss Gwyneth Paltrow before making some wisecracks that amuse us in our stadium seating.

John to Jack?  Or any name that devolves into Chip or Skip is like Dr. Bruce Banner turning into the Hulk.  How does he do it?  And why?  There's no simple progression from A to B here.  I've scrambled the letters and after hours of painstaking staring and shuffling, I could not find a way to go from John to Jack.  It's easy with the J, but after that, things tail off into a mound of frustration.  So Jack's real name is John, but he goes by Jack.

The infinite reflections make him think
his barber is Edward Scissorhands
Jack
-Profession: College student

-Favorite mirror: The one with infinite reflections I see at the barber shop

-Are you nimble?:  I'm not nimble.
-Are you quick?:  Not really, but I'm working on it
-Given these difficulties, are you able to jump over a candlestick?:  I could probably manage that.  But I couldn't over a serious church candle, though.

-Which tool best reflects your personality: a car jack, a jackplane (used for smoothing wood) or a jackhammer?:  A jackplane.  People talk to me if they're having hard times.  I seem to be able to smooth them out.

-What's the next face you'd like to carve into your Jack O' Lantern?:  Joker from the most recent Batman movie.

July 23: Hand-knitted Koozie, 8 Greeting Cards, Packet of Starbucks Hot Chocolate, and Humorous Napkins

Posted by 366 White Elephants at 8:22 AM
Given to Ernie from Leslie.

I love people's reactions to reading fortune cookie sayings.  If they're not applicable in any way (i.e. Your skipping makes people around you think you are wise), you finish munching on the other half of the crescent and are like, "Ehhh, it's just a fortune cookie.  What did yours say, Rick?"  Then, Rick opens his up and it says something completely spot-on, such as "After stealing pies as a youth, you understand your ways and volunteer at a religious community center, inspiring others."  And your friend is like, "No freakin' way, man, I can't believe it." He tucks the fortune is his wallet because of how spot-on it is.  You've got 2 months of putting up with him pulling the fortune out at future social events or when you don't have anything to say to each other with 20 minutes left at a restaurant.

Ernie
-Profession: Hopeful Costco Employee

-Favorite scone: Chocolate Chip

-Do you have a rubber duckey?:  No, but I should.

-Ernie (The Fastest Milkman in the West) was a song written by Bennie Hill.  What was he fast at?:  I would assume delivering milk.

-While waiting for your wife to finish a tour of the pyramids in Egypt, you struck up a conversation with a guard who was carrying a very sizable machine gun.  Did you teach the guard to recite, "Say hello to my little friend?":  Ha!  That would have been good.

July 22: El Salvadorian Coffee and Coin Purse

Monday, July 23, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 12:08 AM
Given to Leslie from Emma.
It's 100% coffee, can you believe it?
I prefer the 80% coffee, 20% sawdust mixture myself.
A few years ago on vacation, I learned how to make a wallet made entirely out of duct tape.  It was an impressive neon orange and turquoise blue (6 bonus points for me for using opposite ends of the color wheel) and you knew it would last forever.  Before boarding the plane to go home, I transferred my credit card and other essentials to the duct tape wallet.  After I got through security, I went to the desk where I was to board to see if I could get a seat with extra legroom.  The attendant asked to see my ticket, which was in my wallet.  The plane was pretty full and it was doubtful anything could be done.  However, I produced it and got something I hadn't bargained for.

The airline worker fawned over the wallet--a little at first, but then she was all out gushing in no time.  I offered to give her the wallet, which she at first hesitated to take, then excitedly accepted.  She told me to check back in 5 minutes.  I came back to the gate desk and, with a cute little wink, she bumped me up to first class!  All because of the wallet.

I prefer to call it a 'weanie koozie'
Leslie
-Profession: Freelance writer

-Favorite gummi: Vodka gummi bears

-You haven't met a craft project you didn't like.  Can you suggest a craft for the following celebrations?:
A) Labor Day- gynecological stirrups made from popsicle sticks
B) Groundhog Day- molehair scarf
C) a briss- crocheted weanie warmer

-When you've had to go on the search for something, have you left any stones unturned?:  Yes, probably 69 in total in my lifetime.

-As a freelance writer, you cover the police blotter.  What have been some of the more interesting stories you've covered?:  Well, a guy was stuffing 153 pounds of frozen meat into his pants at a grocery store.  There was also the man in the grocery store trying to bum rush the door with a cart full of Red Bull and beer.  But a good one was the police were called to a residence where it was reported that a man was masturbating in public.  It turns out it was a woman in a flesh-colored shirt sanding a door.

July 21: Decorative Box full of pennies

Sunday, July 22, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 12:44 AM
Given to Emma from Nick.
I found one Canadian penny and rolled it...shhhhh
 My left bicep was roaring on my way to see Emma because I was carrying a box full of loose pennies that Nick had and were quite heavy.  I presume he collected them over a period of time as a barista at America's Public Bathroom/America's Reliable Wi-Fi.  Apparently, a penny saved is an annoyance and must be rid of.  Enter Emma.
Mrs. and Mr. Scrooge McDuck
I brought along some penny rolls from the bank, you know, to make a morning of our encounter.  Nick didn't know how much was there and we wanted to know the total!  After eating a fine egg, focaccia toast, and coffee breakfast this morning,  we followed it up with some intense coin rolling.  In the course of this, I found out that on occasion Emma--when needing to fill up her gas tank--has searched for loose change around the house (i.e. $8.82) and told the gas station attendant that that's the amount of gas she would like.
As a token of her patience, we gave the waitress the 17 cents
we couldn't roll
We ended our time with some orderly coin logs so Emma can blow it on something extravagant.  We, and our server, were quite proud of our coin rolling skills. Total haul (Antiques Roadshow treasure chest sound) : $10.67

Emma
-Profession: PCNA (Nursing Assistant)

-Favorite first aid item:  Neosporin

-In your spare time, you like to volunteer at a soup kitchen.  Do they serve soups that are in season (i.e. pumpkin soup in the fall)?:  That would be very classy if they did and awesome.  But they don't.  The most common soup they serve, however, is beef minestrone.

-You also enjoy going to Latin American countries, specifically outside of tourist zones.  However, at tourist spots, what have you been tempted to buy?:  At the beach in the Dominican Republic, they have this open market with beautiful paintings.  Inland, they would cost $2 or $3, but there they were like $55.  But, in all the travel I've done in Latin America and elsewhere, I've seen feathered boas at pretty much every kitsch stop.

-You speak a little of five languages (English, Spanish, German, Tagalog (Filipino) and French).  What are three things you know how to say in all five languages?:
-1) love
-2) how are you?
-3) car

July 20: Photo book

Saturday, July 21, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 1:45 AM
Given to Nick from Ellen.
Now all he has to do is make some memories
My Morning of Daydreams:
We had this presentation at work that was designed to make our office run smoother through a "lean" management structure.  When I think of lean, I think of deer, which made me think of galloping away from people or staring into the headlights, which is what we all kind of do now at our office.  While I'm cueing up a dose of tongue-in-cheek hilarity here, I did actually ponder all the meats available for consumption that are lean.

In a similar vein, there was discussion about "swim lanes" where everyone had a lane to swim, or do their work, in.  That really caused some serious daydreaming.  I went around the room and thought of who would be 'ok' in a Speedo if we were swimming and who would be 'not ok' in a Speedo.  Then I wondered on the presenter's diagram where the deep end would be and where it was only 3 ft. deep and not fit for someone to jump in.

Lastly, this guy with his online toolkits and value streaming talked about how he gave a "golden salmon" award to employees from the company he ran prior to his consulting work who could see a problem and take care of it "upstream" before it became a problem to anyone else at the company.  I thought a "golden lemming" award might be more apropos for our office.

Nick
-Profession: Artist; Barista

-Favorite volume (in oz): 13 oz

-What kinds of (k)nick-(k)nacks do you have around your dwelling?:  I have more knick than knack.  I have a lot of leftover reusable shopping bags behind my bed.  I have a giraffe made of Coca-Cola cans, which is probably the best gift I ever received.  It's my guardian at night.

-As an art student, you had to draw or paint using a nude model as the subject.  Would you tell him/her if there was a piece of broccoli (or other vegetable) between their front teeth?:  No, I wouldn't.  I probably wouldn't notice.  Or actually, I'd probably want to draw it in.

-List three things you've done in the nick of time lately:
1) just parked super fast
2) gave some chocolates to Starbucks staff
3) thought of these answers

July 19: Trio of Books

Friday, July 20, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 12:36 AM
Given to Ellen from Laura.

We have three, ahem, three NY Times best-selling books given away tonight: Tail Spin by Catherine Coulter, The Sixth Man by David Baldacci, and The Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand.  And we also have a simple task for Ellen: design a simple plot involving the people pictured on the back of the books, known in the publishing business as the "authors".
The wife, the mom, and the indiscriminate would-be President

The three are in a love triangle.  He's married and needs his wife's support as he runs for President.  He'a also having a fling with her mother.  The mother gives them all AIDS and all three die on the same day--stuck with each other for eternity.

"I put my hand upon your cone--
when I dip, you dip, we dip"
Ellen
-Profession: Speech Pathologist & Actor/Director

-Favorite McDonald's dollar menu item: Dip Cone

-When someone dies, at what age do you stop celebrating their birthday? (i.e. Uncle Reggie would have been 129 today): Probably 106 is the cut-off.

-When you were looking for a new temple (i.e. temple hopping), did they give you a stamp or sticker for your collection?:  No, I got greeted--I got shalom-ed.  It's funny, I went into a temple one day and it's very common practice for the rabbi to ask people lots of questions.  He posed this thought-provoking question and everyone turned their head and looked at me.  Turns out, I stumbled into a friend of mine's kid's bar mitzvah.

-Do you remember what color sunglasses Bono wore when you met him?:  I don't remember.  They were a completely unknown band in the U.S. at the time.  They were on a plane and on their first tour here.  Bono told me I was fortunate to meet him because they were going to be famous.  They were also completely wasted and were throwing sandwiches on the plane.  I told them I thought they were a bunch of f*^%heads.  They just laughed--they were so drunk, anything was funny.

July 18: Cleveland Cavaliers chopper

Thursday, July 19, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 12:48 AM
Given to Laura from Tim.

An experiment is temporarily over, but I vow to resume it once again.  For the first time in my life, I attempted to grow a beard.  Yes, a beard in the middle of a summer inferno.  I tried a few years back to grow one to boost staff morale around the holidays (I called it my holiday beard), but it more was a scratchy neck warmer than anything else.  I don't know what prompted this impetus to grow facial hair, but I believe it was born out of some degree of laze.

I let it grow three full weeks, trimmed it up to make it look fuller and everything.  I asked my inner circle what they thought and the blond scruff seemed to be catching on.  I called it a playoff rally beard for my beloved Cleveland Indians, who sit in third place in the Central and could use some extra muster.  But probably the biggest insult were the comments from a few who thought I just hadn't shaved in a couple of days; no, no, no, mister...this was three week's growth!

I'm caught in a little bit of a pickle right now.  This girl agreed to keep seeing me because she said people with beards are exempted from normal conduct and social codes; she called it the "Chuck Norris loophole".  I haven't told her yet about the beard being snipped, so it looks like I can't see her for another few weeks until it grows back again.  Stay tuned.  This is sure to get wild.

Laura
-Profession: Alumni Career Services

-Favorite way to protect from the sun: SPF 70

-'Oh Laura' is a Swedish indie band, formerly known as 'Laura'.  What did she/they do to deserve the 'oh'?:  Acted in an episode of Miami Vice.

-What color is your parachute?:  I have no idea.  I never read the book--isn't that bad that a career counselor never read it?

-On random days, do you and your career services colleagues form a large circle, grasp a large sheet, throw it up in the air, then duck underneath it, while simultaneously giggling and shouting out what you think the color of your parachute is?:  Maybe after some drinking we would.

-Laura is a famous Creole sugar plantation.  What's your sugar, Laura?:  A singing voice that'll blow you out of the water.

July 17: "Snowy Nights" Candle Set

Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 12:15 AM
Given to Tim from Gail.
"Snowy Nights" is also the name of a Canadian
romance novel series
Last weekend was my weekend to run into bachelorette and bachelor parties.  I mentioned kissing a young woman's forearm on a scavenger hunt on Friday and I saw two bachelor parties at a rooftop Chicago Cubs game on Saturday.  One of the groups was from Iowa and I don't think I met anyone from Iowa before, so I hope I covered my gawking well by making polite small talk as we enjoyed a tasty draft beer.  But asking him about corn (but not his corns, which he indicated he had) took a permanent spot on the conversation on-deck circle.

I also had the privilege of sitting next to the ringleader of a bachelorette party, who was hosting seven women and her sister, on Saturday night.  Prepared, but never asked, to offer my pole dancing services to the lucky eight, this suburban elementary teacher and I kibitzed about all things with her young pupils, including one who wanted to grow up to be a pot holder maker.  I think that's spot on right.  I've often fantasized about running a zoo tram or being a professional door opener.  I'm great as a wedding usher, too.  But pole dancer?  I honestly don't think I've got the butt for it.


"Live like you were dying" doesn't
mean wearing your cowboy hat
all the time
Tim
-Profession: Convention Services and Events Manager

-Favorite USPS service: Many choices of stamps

-Tim McGraw wears his cowboy hat seemingly all the time.  Are there any functions where you think he's not wearing a hat?:  Hopefully at something black-tie and at the gym on the treadmill.

-T.I.M. stands for thioisomescaline, which is a series of psychedelic drugs.  If you were on them, what would you see?:  Rainbows and unicorns and pink elephants.

-TIM was also a Japanese comedy unit.  What do you think they find extremely hilarious?:  Eating rice on a cheeseburger as a topping.

July 16: Me' Kasi Journal

Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 12:33 AM
Given to Gail from Sydney.

This little guy was an item Sydney picked up to support underprivileged persons in South Africa.  It's a journal covered on the outside by a reused family picture album cover and held together with a couple of metal rings with a decorative piece that connects the two.  It feels good to pass this along and that we're part of the solution to helping people in need.

But if only I could help all the people in the world with cankles.  For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it means people whose ankles and calves have fused together to form one long uniform leg piece. They need to start having fundraisers for all the stick-legged individuals, knee-down, to assemble some respectability.  The only band-aid for their plight are pairs of clamdiggers.  How sad a situation is that.

Gail
-Profession: Teacher

-Favorite historical period: The Renaissance

-Can a storm only be a really good storm if there are gale force winds?:  No, a lot of thunder and lightning make a good storm.  Under a canopy and behind a screen are great views for a story, but not behind a window.  I want to be touching it, but protected, too.

-Do you know if the 5th grade teachers at your school purposefully avoid talking about the "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader" show?:  No, they wouldn't.  If they watched it, I'd think they'd laugh.

-What's the craziest/most unique essay written by a student in your class?:  There are two.  In 6th grade, we were writing poetry.  I'd go around and read students' stories on butterflies and soccer and I would say, "oh, that's lovely".  I came around to this one student and he and his neighbor wrote about all the hot chicks he had and that were around him.

Then, I asked the students to write scary stories around Halloween.  One student wrote about hacking people up--it was so graphic and bloody and disgusting.  I couldn't believe my story prompt got this.  I told him it was very good--and it was--but just not appropriate.

July 15: Indoor Kite

Sunday, July 15, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 4:31 PM
Given to Sydney from Travis.

Sometimes, things are just bat-shit crazy.  You have an indoor kite, pictured above.  You have warnings on the back of the packaging, pictured below.  Here's where you point & laugh.
It's an indoor kite!  

Learned a lot from getting
hammered drunk on Foster's
Sydney
-Profession: Director and Educator

-Favorite stage direction: Stage Right

-Sydney is the most populous city in Australia.  Do you think Americans know more about it from dining at Outback Steakhouse or from the Crocodile Dundee trilogy?:  Neither!  'Cause we're Americans and we don't know anything.

-How many Bibles does the average Gideon place in hotel nightstands?:  100.  There are a lot of hotels...and there are a lot of Bibles...and there are a lot of Christians.

-If someone would tell you to go fly a kite, would you fly this one or would you go out a buy a larger dragon one to show that person you mean business?:  The dragon one.  I like to have larger productions.  I do, though, already have a rainbow one at home that I got from the Dollar Store.

July 14: Frank McCourt Trilogy: Angela's Ashes, Tis, and Teacher Man

Saturday, July 14, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 10:35 PM
Given to Travis from Liz.
Pretty paper, pretty presents, pretty ribbon of blue
Last night, I was leaving my hotel and heading out for a night on the town.  I  happened into a raucous bachelorette party in the elevator where I certainly began livin' it up while I was going down.  They were on a scavenger hunt-style party and one of their tasks in a team was to have a stranger kiss one of the ladies body parts.  I couldn't have my preference of mid-calf, so I ended up kissing this girl's forearm and posing for a picture as proof of the exchange.  I bumped into the group later on in the evening and found out that I helped them garner 1st place.  Why I wasn't invited to join them in the hot tub party is beyond me, but I was happy to do my public service for the week.

The elevator socialization became contagious.  I met a couple this morning who were only an hour away from home and, judging from their eager smiles, looked like they had a good night.  They were from a small suburb outside of Chicago, where a friend of mine lived, and I asked them if they knew Allison.  They looked at each other and said no.  Aren't questions like mine kinda annoying?  It's about the equivalent of asking someone, "Oh, you breathe oxygen? My friend Allison breathes oxygen, do you know her?"  They didn't.

Could make a delicious marble cake
in his earpiece
Travis
-Profession: Arts Management

-Favorite state agency:  DMV

-Travis are a post-Brit pop band from Glasgow, Scotland.  If they wrote a self-titled song, what would it be called?:  'Knockin' on the Painted Wall' and it be about hanging pictures and knick-knacks on my apartment wall.

-Do you lean more toward Randy Travis or Travis Tritt?:  Randy Travis.  When I was little, I told people I was named after him.

-You're a musician.  If you 'play something by ear', how large an earpiece would you need to have?:  Probably a ten-inch round one.  It would be a completely silent tune.

July 13: 20-sided die; Polyhedral 7 die set; and Empty Glass Jar That Previously Housed Chocolate Chip Cookies

Posted by 366 White Elephants at 2:34 AM
Given to Liz from Mark.

Maybe it was the late hour that I worked last night that prompted the need for a midnight snack.  Looking trapped in their glass house, the cookies Mrs. Mark made looked at me with longing chocolate chip eyes with crusted dough sleepers at their corners.  I gazed affectionately back and impulsively unlatched the lid.  Without the slightest twinge of performance anxiety, I sprinted to the refrigerator and came back with two straws and a glass of milk.  Fifteen minutes later, our date was over.  Sorry Liz.  Well, as I found out over lunch, it really didn't matter anyway; Liz doesn't eat gluten.
We had no dessert; they weren't numbered
What she did eat up over lunch was menu item #16.  Using the 20-sided die, she rolled it to determine what her lunch selection would be at the Thai restaurant we dined at.  The result: Pad Num Prik Pau (Chicken Supreme).  She came in looking to order Pad Thai, she left with something she hadn't planned on.  My apologies to menu items 21-33 which were ruled out of contention based on the limits of the die.

Uses map that was printed in 1958
Liz
-Profession: Marketing Guru & Business Force

-Favorite shower duration: 7 minutes, 32 seconds

-Do all New England states observe the Connecticut left or does that reside only in CT?:  It's not just a characteristic of Connecticut, but all douche-bag drivers, which is 99% of New England.  [A Connecticut left is when a driver will jump the green light and make a left hand turn in front of a line of opposing traffic on a two-lane street).

-When you were dating your now current husband who is a geographer, did he map out how your relationship would proceed?:  No, I am the one in the driver's seat with the map.

-You take pictures as part of your job.  If a picture is worth 1000 words, what are 1000 pictures worth?:  A story worth telling.

July 12: Bottle of Chateau Kuban 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon

Friday, July 13, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 1:51 AM
Given to Mark from Barry.

Don't Read This.  Now, you're more inclined to read on, right?  It's funny how reverse psychology works.  Let me tell you a little story about how this came into my life just over the weekend.  I was at my parents' house and went to the backyard garden to pick some fresh basil (yum!), lettuce and kale from the garden.  I'm pretty focused on the task at hand and on my walk from house to garden, I hear a splash.  I turn and see my neighbor with a margarita glass and large book leisurely sitting in a newly-purchased temporary pool in her backyard.  Honest Abe, I didn't gawk or leer.  I waved, gave a neighborly hello, then walked to the garden.  I hear more splashing.  She stood up in her pool, craned her body, and asked me to repeat what I said.  I said, "Hello".  She said "hey" right back.

The next day, a 6-foot high, square bamboo fence was erected around the pool.  My brother and I were in the backyard again and instead of seeing this and looking away, we stood there and gawked and leered and were asking each other all sorts of questions about who's behind the bamboo fence now (was it baby-making time?) and then tried to peer into the cracks between bamboo slits to see if we could catch a peek of anything (we gave up rather quickly).  So, you see, if there was no fence, we don't look.  But because there is a fence, we look on determinedly.

The gift presented today is a bottle of wine made by Barry.

Mark
-Profession: Cost Analyst

-Favorite Family TV show: The Amazing Race

-For your job, you take rolls of paper and make them into smaller rolls.  In an emergency where your facility loses all electrical power, could a person use a Ginsu 2000 to cut the larger roles down?:  We could not use knives, but we could use hampsters/gerbils/squirrels on those little wire wheels that they run around on.  We might ned a bunch of them, though.

-Name two things you can juggle and two things that are on your off-limit juggling list?: I can juggle knives and hatchets.  Off limits are flaming torches and another woman (wife would not like that)

-Because you have great skill at making pancakes, does it offend you when someone calls it a flapjack?:  It does not offend me, but they are not flapjacks.  Those are the guys who dress up as flappers from the 1920s.

July 11: Zebco Fishing Rod & Reel

Wednesday, July 11, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 11:58 PM
Given to Barry from Bob.

I've never met anyone named Barry until this evening and it was pretty fantastic.  Next on the bucket list is meeting people named La'Shaina, Telly, and Regis.

It was double feature of ironies today.  First off, Barry's son just happens to need a new fishing reel and rod and it just happens that Barry is taking him on a fishing trip this upcoming weekend.  And it just happens that Bob gave Barry a fishing rod and reel.  The one Barry's son had been using was Pirates of the Caribbean themed and made for a 4-year old.

Barry and I don't work too far from each other, but up until today, we had never met in person,  coordinating this exchange by phone through a mutual acquaintance.  He asked me what I did for work and after I told him, he said he came in for breakfast this morning in the cafeteria that resides in the basement of the building I work in!

The naming of a star will get him
past 3rd base
Barry
-Profession: Biomedical Engineer

-Favorite baseball base:  3rd

-The 1703-Barry is an asteroid discovered by Max Wolf and named after astronomer Roger Barry.  If you could name an astronomical body, which one would it be and who would you name it after?:  Probably a star for my wife Heidi.  It would make up for all the anniversary presents I've forgotten and all the times she's felt neglected in one fell swoop.

-Barry University in south Florida graduated Amy Diaz, a Miss Teen USA in 2001, Miss Rhode Island in 2008, Miss Earth USA in 2008 and, in 2009, Miss Earth.  What do you think has changed about her dainty wave over that period of time?:  She's gone from using all five digits on her hand to just one.

-You're the 17th bearded gift exchanger.  Are you jolly?:  I was jolly my whole life and I was known for it.  My jolliness started to tail off around 40.  Now at 50, it's almost gone.  If you get a couple bottles of wine in me, the jolliness perks back up.

July 10: "Bad Date Night Kit": Bruce Almighty and Reservoir Dogs DVDs, Bag of Microwave Popcorn, Bottle of Merlot, and $10 Red Robin gift card

Posted by 366 White Elephants at 12:03 AM
Given to Bob from Kyle.
Bob isn't shy in telling you how he really feels about these gifts
This is Kyle's "Bad Date Night Kit" that features two DVDs he didn't like and wanted to pawn off on someone else, a bag of bad microwave popcorn (Act II), a bottle of cheap merlot that someone left at his house, and a $10 Red Robin gift card, which he considers bad because you can only really buy one meal with that amount of money, so you'll end up spending more out of your own pocket.

I worked at Red Robin during college, serving and bartending the lovely patrons their bottomless fries and I'm-going-to-need-new-jeans-in-two-weeks/do-you-have-the-hospital's-address-in-our-GPS? burgers.  I also remember accidentally serving my girlfriend an alcoholic milkshake when she had an upset stomach that eventually turned into the 24-hour flu.  But what sticks out in my mind most is the family-friendly birthday song, which I'll share with you so you can be the hit of the next birthday party you go to.  Begin by clapping in even beats.

Leader: I don't know what I've been told
Group: I don't know what I've been told
Leader: Someone here is getting old (don't sing this to Benjamin Button)
Group: Someone here is getting old
Leader: Good news is dessert's for free (Mama told me there are no free lunches in life)
Group: Good news is dessert's for free
Leader: Bad news is we sing off-key (then you correspondingly sing off-key)
Group: Bad news is we sing off-key (that's when the audience and birthday person really laugh)
Leader: Sound-off
Group: Happy
Leader: Sound-off
Group: Birthday
Leader: Bring it on down
All:  Happy Birthday...to YOU!

Bob
-Profession: Physical Therapist

-Favorite stench: My own

-A 'bob' is a weight at the end of a pendulum.  What issue(s) have you gone back and forth on?:  Religion and politics

-Alice and Bob are placeholder characters in cryptography and physics problems.  While waiting, what are you and Alice doing?:  Shooting the breeze...about religion and politics.

-B.O.B. has many meanings, including the Bank of Botswana.  What do you think their free giveaway is for opening up a new checking account?:  A fly swatter

-You're the 16th bearded gift exchanger.  Are you jolly?:  Oh yeah