November 30: Erie Island Coffee Company "Morning Blend"

Friday, November 30, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 11:47 PM
Given to Cyrus from Becky.

I strolled into a friend's bathroom today to find a mini-library inside.  Not only did he have the most recent issues of Sports Illustrated and Golf, but copies of When Atlas Shrugged and Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood as well.  I don't understand why people stock their bathrooms with printed material.  Is there not enough going on in there already?  I personally like to get in and out, doing my business in an efficient manner.  And plus, don't you enjoy snooping into other peoples' medicine cabinets anyway while you're there?

Say you wanted to read the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, a book with 356 pages.  A quick pee may allow you a page or page and a half.  A easy bowl movement three or four pages.  And so on as you ramp up the scale of gastrointestinal difficulty.  In short, it would take you weeks to finish it and lose any sense of continuity along the way.

And I'm not really addressing the real issue here.  Do you really want to finger through the same pages as someone who just had a B.M. a couple of hours prior?

Cyrus
-Profession: College Dean

-Favorite Chinese poem:  A poem by Dufu whose subject translates into "Insufferably Hot and Too Much Paperwork on My Desk".

Dufu was a former commissioner of education who eventually fell out of favor.  The general gist of the poem is his aides are bringing him paperwork.  He wants to scream like a madman as he gazes at trees on the mountain, dreaming of walking barefoot through crushed ice.

-Assuming they all knew how to play, if Einstein, Max Planck, Johannes Kepler and Stephen Hawking all sat down to play poker, who would win?:  I'd vote for Kepler.  He had to be more resourceful than others and I think his skills would be better suited for poker.

-What kind of apple dish do you think Newton made after the apple fell on his head?:  He wouldn't have eaten it.  He would have used it for some kind of alchemist experiment.

-You are an ultra runner, meaning you run extreme distances of, say, 100 miles.  The axiom goes that if 'you walk a mile in a man's shoes, you learn about the man'.  What would happen if you walked in a ultra runner's shoes?:  If you did, you'd become an ultra runner.  But you'd have to walk the full day, pure and simple.


November 29: Ugly Sweater T-shirt

Thursday, November 29, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 11:34 PM
Given to Becky from Selma.

There are good milestones, there are bad milestones and then there are some that should be filed under miscellaneous.  Examples of good milestones are wedding anniversaries or a regular trip back to a place where one lived abroad.  The last time you've vomited might be an example of a bad milestone.  Then you get into odd ones, such the one I had last night.  I was so tired last evening, I slept for 12 hours, with a break at 1:00 a.m. to post yesterday's blog entry.  I got home from work and laid on my bed and woke up this morning at 6:00.  That's not the milestone.  The milestone was that I did not eat dinner.  The last time I didn't eat dinner was August 25, 2006, when I was in Los Angeles with my brother.

He and I were picking up a friend and going to Venice Beach.  He got a case of the hungers, as did our friend Jessica, who came along for the ride.  Before going to the beach, they pulled off and dined at McDonald's, a place I refused to eat at.  My digestive system didn't enjoy the jolt and it produced a not-so pleasant couple of hours.  Last night's unintended fast is also unusual because I'm usually on a two-hour feeding cycle.  Consider last night 'mind blown'.

Perhaps auditors should count beans
instead.
Becky
-Profession: Accountant

-Favorite drink to warm you up: Pumpkin Soy Chai

-You're planning two weddings.  If you were to somehow be inspired by watching "The Wedding Planner", would you rather have a shirtless Matthew McConaughey around or know how to do a J-Lo booty shake that'll turn heads?:  The J-Lo booty shake for sure.  It could take me many places.  I'd just look at Matthew McConaughey's chest, maybe touch it.  Imagine being in a nursing home and having that booty shake.

-Do you think it's unwise to suggest accountants count sheep to fall asleep?:  It would probably be bad for an auditor.  I don't do a lot of counting.

-How might you modernize the ugly sweater party with a new garment?:  An ugly cape party.  There are not enough opportunities to wear capes.  And I think the opportunity to wear one is a good thing.

November 28: Longaberger Basket, Troll Doll, and 2 Packs of Post-It Notes

Posted by 366 White Elephants at 2:19 AM
Given to Selma from Chris.

Masking tape and the Sharpie were two of the best inventions to ever enter our family household.  Last night's post got me thinking about my dad's part-time job as a Domino's Pizza driver when I was growing up.  On a semi-regular basis, he'd bring home plastic containers that previously were home to pizza sauce or dough and our family would use them as vessels for soups, homemade sauces, and other items for freezer storage.   The trouble is we wouldn't label them.

Several months would go by and we'd have a orange-ish/brown-ish colored liquid with just the right amount of freezer burn that would prevent us from identifying what it was.  For example, my mom would announce that we'd be having soup & sandwiches for dinner and would go about de-thawing some "chicken soup".  That chicken soup would occasionally turn out to be applesauce, gravy, or chutney.  Until the tape and pen were incorporated six years later, our family enjoyed these kinds of surprise "delights".

Selma
-Profession: Accounting Matador

-Favorite coffee foam design: Creme Heart

-In working at two coffeehouses, you're on the verge of becoming a professional barista.  What hipster quality would help to make that happen?:  First, Bill Cosby sweaters are a must.  A beanie hat and no bathing.  Thick-rimmed glasses.  Everyone's into weird hobbies at the one coffeeshop I work at.  This one girl is a ceramicist.  Is that real?  I'd also have to hang out at thrift stores.

-If you were a Troll Doll, what would you have people rub on your stomach aside from a gem in order for people to get their magic wish?:  Face of a puggle (beagle/pug mix).

-If you had to leave a post-it on a post-it, what would the original post-it say and what would the subsequent one say?:  I'd actually have a stack of post-its and everyone but the bottom-most one would list threats about not pulling them off.  The bottom one would say, "Fine, Pull Me Off", along with a crass picture.

November 27: Bowling Pin

Wednesday, November 28, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 12:09 AM
Given to Chris from Pam.

I spent the entirety of my evening with my mother in the emergency room.  She took a spill earlier this evening and broke a couple of fingers, but she's doing all right.  Initially, the mood was fairly somber as we waited to get in for an x-ray.  But it started to lighten when one of the nurses was razzing me for how smelly the onions in my vegetarian sandwich were.  I told her and the rest of the staff no free smooches until after my mom had her tests completed.  Boy, I sound like a dirty old man.

I also took the opportunity to remind my mom of my fake ER visit when I was in seventh grade.  I was at Justin Apathy's house (surprisingly, he had a lot of drive in grade school) where kids were dancing; oddly, I remember wearing a blue, green, and white polo shirt.  After a while, I wanted to leave the party and faked an injury of a hurt dancing thumb.

Imagine someone lining the inside of your thumb with super glue and sticking it to your forefinger.  That was the injury.  Anyway, my dad had to pick me up.  When I got home, I didn't drop the act.  My mom thought I had done some kind of permanent damage to it, so my dad took me to the ER.  I went through the whole line of paperwork to be admitted and saw a doctor.  Perplexed at never seeing an incurable case of immovable thumb before, he said he was going to order an x-ray.  As a 13-year old, I saw the dollars that my dad didn't have, and in a span of a few minutes, my thumb magically regained it's mobility.  However, it was still a little "sore" the day after, coaxing my mom into making me pancakes the next morning.

Chris
-Profession: Medical Technologist

-Favorite leftover: Mashed Potatoes

-What might female Chris's and male Chris's wear in public so that people could tell them apart?:  The male Chris's should wear a really bad toupee.  The female Chris's should wear gaudy jewelry.

-You and your husband love TV and movies.  Combining that interest with your job, who would you cast as a platelet in a blood panel movie?:  Well, platelets are the part of the blood that's really important, but doesn't get enough credit.  It'd be like a Best Supporting Actor type.  Phillip Seymour Hoffmann.  Yes!  That's it!

-Some people talk about putting the 'fun' into 'fundraising'.  How might you put the 'Chris' into 'Christmas'?:  Being able to spend time with my family being all together.

November 26: Set of Four "Girl Elf" Dessert Plates and Lavender Infuser

Tuesday, November 27, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 12:10 AM
Given to Pam from Libby.

I'm probably a couple of months delayed in offering you this nugget of advice, but I'd like to plant a seed with you early so that you may apply it for 2013.  We're entering the holiday season--scheduled to the brim with parties offering tray after tray of catered food, happy hours with calorie-rich Christmas cocktails, and chocolate boxes featuring one too many a nut cluster.  In short, there's a lot of food, there's a good chance you'll overdo it, and they don't make an unlimited supply of your next size up jeans.

If you're an instigator of such a party, stop!  Reschedule it for a time throughout the year when people are moping inside looking for something to do.  What are people doing in late-February?  Probably sitting on their thumbs, waiting for the next Louis C.K. special.  When they talk about Christmas in July, seize the moment and break out some mint fudge.  I'm also sure that if people are less clothed in the summer, they'll be worrying less about cramming enough in their pouches for the harsh winter months ahead (that's fancy-pants talk for they won't eat as much).  A perfect solution!


Pam
-Profession: Accountant

-Favorite kind of scrap metal: Copper

-You used to bowl.  What kind of exclamation would you have if you got a strike?:  Yes! (with an air fist shake)
-What kind of curse would you utter after a gutter ball?:  F*^k! (while giving the pins the finger)

-You're an avid eBay salesperson.  Is there an item you've wanted to track, go to the location you shipped it to and meet the buyer?:  Yes.  I told my lifetime membership to an MIT grad.  You can transfer a lifetime membership once.  It would be great to meet him.

-You moved to Ohio for a guy you met online.  What discrepancy did you find from his description to when you actually met him?:  He had dark brown hair before I met him; he had dyed his hair and goatee platinum blonde.

November 25: "Off the Hook Handset" Plug-in for Cellphone

Sunday, November 25, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 11:59 PM
Given to Libby from Rich.
You're on the hook for $15 if you want one
Companies worry too much about tamper-proof packaging and forget to catering to senior citizens' needs.  Take this lovely gift from Rich, which, by the way, I happened to buy for myself after seeing it.  The packaging was not "frustration free" and after Libby scratched and clawed to get the damn thing open, I huffed and puffed to do the same.  Libby's fit and strong; I'm fit and strong.  Between the two of us, we both cursed this stupid packaging.  We didn't need scissors, but it wasn't easy.  What do older folks do when they're trying to open something like this?  It must really suck.  Some people say getting older isn't fun because of the health ailments or less sex or more games of bridge, but I think the tamper-proof packaging's got to be up to at least #3 on things that really are not fun no matter what age you are...maybe #2.
"Hey, so...yeah, I just got a bunch cooler."
On the same note, don't talk to me about bottles of aspirin.  I would think if you've got aches and pains and you're a senior citizen and can't get the bottle open easily and all they're showing on TV is a Burt Wolf travel marathon, I'd be grumpy over stale toast and wailing children, too.

If she had Seven Pounds, Will Smith
might tell her to floss
Libby
-Profession: Hospital I.T.

-Favorite skiing level: Blue Square

-You're a twin.  Is your relationship to her more like Kit Kat, Twix, or Twizzlers?:  Twix because we're still separate, but we like to be near each other.  We live in different cities.  Kit Kats and Twizzlers are joined.

-You play a lot of sports (volleyball, flag football, skiing, crossfit) and surprisingly video games, too, which puts you in the same demographic as single, mid-20's males living in their parents' basement.  What else do you have in common with them?: I like video game t-shirts.  Halo ones, in particular.

-You've never had a cavity.  How much sugar per week (in pounds) would it take for you to get one, providing you continue your normal twice a day brushing habit?:  4 pounds

November 24: LeBron James Bobblehead Doll

Saturday, November 24, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 1:43 PM
Given to Rich from Mark.

As I was dropping my friend Audrey off at the airport, we both pondered the same question: Why don't more people steal luggage off the conveyor belt that isn't theirs?  I don't know about you, but there's something intriguing about finding some hidden treasure in a piece of luggage that isn't your own.  Once you rifle through the jeans and polos and underwear, you might find something juicy, such as a fold-out map of Spain or a portable radio or nice pair of frames from LensCrafters.  Hey, maybe even you'll find a goldmine of someone who has your same size.  I know I've been hoping to strike it rich with an influx of Van Heusen dress shirts to my wardrobe.


When his board shorts go on,
the natives run for their sunglasses.
 
Rich
-Profession: Golf Pro

-Favorite NBA player: Kyrie Irving

-Arnold Palmer is famous for his drink of half iced tea, half lemonade.  As a golf pro, what would be your signature drink?:  Mango iced tea.  I even bought of bottle of the syrup for home.  I love them.

-If Rich Little is a man of 1000 words, what would Little Rich be known for?:  1000 facial expressions

-LeBron famously told the nation that he's 'taking his talents to South Beach'.  Given that you also play basketball, where would you take your basketball talents?:  Puerto Rico
-What would you take to South Beach?:  Board shorts

November 23: Brain Cell Plush Doll & Roll of Duct Tape

Friday, November 23, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 10:01 PM
Given to Mark from Kristen.
I didn't know brain cells had eyes
Mark is such a great guy and great at what he does, too.  He keeps the pedestrian and auto traffic moving along swiftly, while putting a smile on everyone's face who pass him.  He's a high-fiving, hand-shaking, fist-bumping kind of guy.  If he wasn't working to keep the intersection of Adelbert and Euclid in Cleveland safe every day, he could probably make a bundle of money working the same corner at night.  He's a textbook example of how to get things done.

I have a secret hope that one day when I'm waiting to turn onto Euclid at the light, he will go in the middle of the street and stop a large line-up of traffic when they have a green light in order to let me get to my destination a few seconds earlier.  That would really great.  That's when you know you have it in good with Mark.

I think, though, if Mark were not working the streets, his directional skills would come in most excellently for something like a cooking program.  For example, if two people are trying to prepare a turkey, he could be yelling "go, go, go" to the person who has to put the stuffing in, while at the same time, holding a hand up to the person who's eager to baste it.  Then when the turkey's got enough stuff, he'd let the baster go ahead, while holding up the stuffing person who's ready to put some butter on the outside.  It'd be beautiful.

Mark
-Profession: Public Relations Officer

-Favorite way to begin your day: Greeting Case Western students

-Is there a line one shouldn't cross with a crossing guard?:  Trying to do it your way like Burger King.  You can't have it your way.

-In school, did you always get high 'marks'?:  I was a merit roll student--3.0, 3.1.  I played around with a 2.9.

-Can you recall a memorable greeting from...
...a driver?:  A couple of days ago, some guy in his mid-30s or 40s said he was proud to be a Clevelander after seeing the spot of me on TV.  He said there's goodness in society.

...a pedestrian?:  all people who pass by me from Case Western and the University Circle area.

November 22: Old-School Gillette Razor

Thursday, November 22, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 7:52 PM
Given to Kristen from Matt.
Gillette: I guess it's the best a man, and now woman, can get
Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope you had a fun time getting together with family and friends, enjoying the traditions of food and football throughout the day.  Our family also enjoys a finely-prepared meal and slouching on the couch for the parade of pigskin throughout the day.  However, we have our own tradition: every Thanksgiving morning, my dad starts sucking up the cobwebs in the basement with the industrial sweeper.  Every year, every Thanksgiving morning, he's sucking away for two or so hours.  The rest of our family takes bets on the start and end times; the only thing we're missing is one of those grid betting sheets that people use for the Super Bowl.

Outside of this, I never really found a comfort zone celebrating this holiday.  On my mom's side, I have a Cherokee Indian heritage; my great-grandfather was 100% Cherokee, making me an eighth Cherokee.  My dad's side features ancestors harking back to the Mayflower.  It feels like I come down with a case of multiple personality disorder when I sit down at the dinner table.  In grade school, we made either Indian headdresses or pilgrim hats out of construction paper; I made a pilgrim hat with feathers sticking out the back.  I was a confused child.

Enjoy your pie and try not to waddle out of control as you leave the house.

I wonder if there are any consolation
prizes for losing a penis fencing bout
Kristen
-Profession: Systems Biology Major

-Favorite Greek historical figure: Aristophanes

-As a biology major, would you explain the 'birds and the bees' talk with your children with any other animal groups?:  I'd probably use hermaphroditic flatworms.  When they mate, one takes on the male role and the other takes on the female role through 'penis fencing'.  Whoever loses becomes the female.

-You enjoy backstage theater work.  Method actors will sometimes only come out on stage when called in character.  How would you call a method theater tech back behind the curtain?:  I'd call them a grunt or peon or something ridiculously demeaning.  They probably deserve it.

-When you hang out with your friends, do you ever dream of landing in the same retirement community?:  Is that a conversation that normal people have?  I don't think I've had it.

November 21: Porcelain Treasure Box

Posted by 366 White Elephants at 12:21 AM
Given to Matt from Erin.

Tonight was a fun pre-Thanksgiving day party.  My friend Audrey and I went to the Cleveland Cavs game tonight.  Overall, it was really a lot of fun, but I found myself saying "no" to a bunch of things, which is highly uncharacteristic of me.

  • I wanted some water from the fountain machine.  I asked for a large glass.  They said if they gave me a regular sized paper cup with Pepsi written on the side, I would have to pay $4.25 and sacrifice my first-born.  #1 No.  I opted for the free 3 oz. taster glasses, going back a couple times for refills.
  • The woman next to us offered a taste of her deluxe potato chip nachos.  As it turns out, Audrey and I had a pre-game nachos meal.  We still took the woman up on her offer--deep-fried potato chips covered with alfredo sauce (from a bag), chives and bacon--just to be polite.  I took a moderately covered chip with just the sauce.  She said, "Make sure you take one with some bacon."  #2 No. I don't want to die at 38.
  • "Hey Fans!  Jump out of your chairs, act like fools, maul your neighbor, and try to get a white t-shirt with a corporate logo on it that will survive only four wash cycles."  #3 No.
  • Kiss Cam.  I'm not telling you if we're both awkward about it or if we don't want to show tongue on the Jumbotron.  The truth lies somewhere in-between.  #4 No

Jim kept waiting for Matt to shoot
potato chips up to him
Matt
-Profession: Die Maker at General Motors

-Favorite Thanksgiving side dish: Mashed Potatoes and Corn mixed together

-You teach catholic religious education in your spare time.  Tell me a tale from your life and turn it into a parable:  I was doing some youth ministry stuff and I'm hanging out with this guy named Jim.  He's 7'0".  We were at a bowling alley and had chips and pizza and things there to get people to come out and join a church group.  All this time, I'm looking up at Jim when we're talking.  He's got this kernel of pizza on the corner of his mouth and when he was talking the food went right into mine.  My wife and a friend who were on either side of us each walked away.  I treated it like tobacco and just spit it out.  The moral: Don't stand too close when people are eating.

-You donate your hair every two years.  Instead of going to a person, what action figure or doll would you give it to?:  Ken.  He's way too clean cut for me.  I don't like his plastic 'do either.

-You enjoy playing cover songs.  What would be the perfect cover song that encapsulates the life of a die maker?:  Crazy Train by Ozzy.  Everyone's I know is out of their mind.

November 20: Starbucks 12 oz. "Tall" Mug

Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 12:59 AM
Given to Erin from Mayank.
I think the general public keeps clamoring
for me when they order a 'tall americano'.
Do you ever lock into a memory of a person that stays with you no matter how hard you try to shake it?  I've got that issue with Erin, with whom I went to college.  Truth be told, she and I did not hang out a lot together.  We both took the same English class--English 240: A Common Language--and remember the teacher flirting with this one girl named Allison, who was in a sorority.  Let's hope she's not working at a Subway.

But when I ran into Erin in the spring and when I hung out with her a couple of weeks ago, I had to bite my tongue because I wanted to ask her how John Park was doing.  [Erin, I can see your face contorting in unusual positions right now...sorry, babe.]  John Park was her boyfriend in college.  They have long since broken up.  It's been, oh...10 years.  She has another boyfriend.  I don't know him, so I can't even begin to assess if he can fill the cavern of a hole left by John Park's shoes.  The funny thing is that I knew John Park less than I knew Erin in college.  The only thing that I knew about him was that he played lacrosse and I remember seeing him once at a local hangout drinking a Mike's Hard Lemonade.  That's it.  That is it.

Erin, would you mind calling John Park and seeing how he's doing?


I wished we could have popped
the Pop-o-Matic Bubble in college
Erin
-Profession: Speech Language Pathologist

-Favorite dipthong: ai

-You and I went to college together.  Name one or two activities that you wished we had done together:  1) Filled the arch [of a well-known academic building] with snow; and 2) crawled in the underground tunnels beneath campus.

-You go to other peoples' homes to tutor their children in speech pathology.  Any interesting interactions between parents that you've observed?:  Nothing crazy in the houses.  But I've had parents fight in front of me.  One time, a guy was weeping; his wife told him to 'not go weepy on me'.

-In your spare time, you enjoy beading.  In grade school, were you making friendship bracelets all the time?:  I did and sold them to neighborhoods for 10 cents.  They were upscale bracelets.
-If you were to make me a friendship bracelet, what would it be like?:  Orange and blue to match your orange shoes that you're wearing and the blue outfit that you talked about before.  But it'd be an anklet.

November 19: Plush Christmas Dog

Monday, November 19, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 11:35 PM
Given to Mayank from Lisa.

I've really not asked much of you, my loyal readership, but I need your help.  Two weeks ago, two radio stations that I listen to--the oldies and soft rock (spare your chuckles for later, please; I like my Bryan Adams every so often)--have started playing Christmas music.  Do I want you to call the radio stations and have them stop playing it?  No.  I need you to help me with a grassroots effort.

What I need you to do is find me the people the radio stations think they're serving by playing holiday music so damn prematurely.  Who celebrates Christmas in early November?  It's been 50-plus degrees outside, Christmas stockings are still packed in boxes with mothballs, and I, not even with Tommy Lee Jones' help, could find the corn for poppin'.  Tell me, how can I get jacked listening to Andy Williams (God rest his soul) and his riffs of 'snow on the ground' when I'm driving around suburbia with sunglasses on, inspecting plenty of yards basking in late-autumn sunshine?  Cripe, I see college students still ambling around in shorts and t-shirts...and they are the pulse of America.

The radio stations blare this form of Americana because they must be monitoring, and responding, to their listenership.  So who are these people who tune in?  And what's the matter with them?  My dear readers, if you find these folks or are one yourself, I've invited Dr. Phil to have a group therapy session in Central Park on Saturday, Nov. 24 at 1:30 p.m.  Let us join together and hold hands in reality and sanity.

Mayank
-Profession: College Student

-Favorite welcome gift: My own room in the 12 places I've lived

-In your life, you've moved 12 times.  What would make it a baker's, or traveler's, dozen?:  Los Angeles.  I'd like to move there.

-You have a company that makes pothole patches that make the driving surface again smooth.  If the 'hole patch' is akin to the 'Nicorette patch', what, if any, withdrawal would there be?:  Frustration, irritation and anger driving over a pothole.  Something that people thoughts was gone with now back.

-Is there an Indian dish Americans love, but Indians think is gross?:  Not that I can think of.  But Americans would get sick on streetcorner food that's made with street water, or water that hasn't been greatly filtered.  Two dishes in particular come to mind.  Chaat is a mix of yogurt and potatoes that are seasoned on the street.  The yogurt probably hasn't been refrigerated.  Then panipuri, which is tortilla shell with potatoes inside.  It's doused with a greenish water of spices.  The water's not filtered.

November 18: "The Looker" iPhone 4 Case

Posted by 366 White Elephants at 12:31 AM
Given to Lisa from Jessica.

This afternoon, I pleasantly thumbed through a German newspaper, absorbing new words and gaining new insights.  I love learning foreign languages and have also tried my hand with Spanish and Swedish, using a full-range of programs including Pimsleur, Barrons and Rosetta Stone.  The audio versions of the guides all sound so pleasant and polite, don't they?  You go to these foreign countries and you expect their citizens to all be intelligent, conversational, and friendly.

However, the translated phrase "Steve, please look straight ahead while you drive" is never said that way at all in conversation.  It's probably more correct to translate it as "Keep your eyes on the road, jackass."  Or "I would like you to join me for dancing or else I'll be sad" is more aptly translated as "Be at the dance club or be square", which could use further translated as "Shake your tailfeather tonight or I'm going to wet myself."  And so on.

I remember pinching a phrase from my Wicked German phrase book during my first day in Austria, a German-speaking country, when my friends picked me up.  A car cut us off and I said, "Watch out, you son of a bitch".  They started laughing at me.  When pressed for the reason for their laughter, they simply shrugged off my phrase and replied, "We don't say it quite like that here."

Lisa
-Profession: Career Planning

-Favorite # of ice cubes in a glass: 10!

-As a former PTO (Parent Teacher Organization) president, what's the politically-charged situation: a brownie sale or magazine drive?:  A magazine drive.  I hate them.  And I wouldn't want a finance magazine, by the way.

-As summer turns into fall and then winter, what's do you think the lowest acceptable temperature is to tan?:  70 degrees Fahrenheit

-When you are helping students with career choices, what is your biggest selling point for having 'a career'?:  Probably relationships, which happen at 8 a.m. meetings.  A lot of times, those 8 a.m. meetings aren't productive for much.

November 17: "Primal Leadership" and Jumpdrive Filled with 21 Songs

Sunday, November 18, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 1:26 AM
Given to Jessica from Shawn.

Last Friday, the person I was scheduled to exchange gifts with had something come up and couldn't meet me.  No worries!  I had planned to meet up with my friend for a beer that evening anyway and asked the bartender Tina if she wanted to participate.  During the course of the exchange, I peaked the interest of two middle-aged couples sitting along the right side of the bar.  They never asked me any questions, but over the course of 45 minutes, ran through a laundry list with Tina about me.

On the left side of the bar sat Jessica and I got her interest in the project.  Rather than looping Tina into that conversation, she chatted me up and was wondering what in blazes I was doing.  Shortly before I left, she asked what I was doing in a week (today) and said she'd like to participate.  Tonight, I crawled out from my pad, drove and met her out, and conducted the fastest interview on record at five minutes.  While at the bar, I ran into a newly-engaged Annie and her beau.

Jessica
-Profession: Marketer; Student

-Favorite vegetable to crunch: Carrot

-You love cooking.  How many is too many cooks in the kitchen?:  2

-You also enjoy drinking.  How tall is a tall drink of water?:  5'8" and above.
-How tall is a tall drink of beer?:  5'5" and above

-People always want to be first in something.  Have you ever been first in anything?:  My grandfather opened up the first Harley Davidson shop in Ohio.

November 16: Animated Gorilla Toy and Homemade Eco-Friendly Chicken Feed Tote Bag

Saturday, November 17, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 12:46 AM
Given to Shawn from Boyd.
Minus the turkey picture, one could think this the breakfast
of Bible thumpers the nation over
I've got a well-meaning co-worker who brings in expired bags of chips.  Oh gosh, that probably sounds worse than it is; it's not like they're poison.  His wife works for a vending machine company and her job is to supply vending machines in rest stops with chips and other assorted snacks.  If a particular brand of snack doesn't sell out, they wind up in our office.

Sadly, not only are the chips outdated, but the flavors don't line up with my palette preference, such as Ruffles Molten Hot Wings (sorry, I like the friendly bacteria in my intestines) or Dirty Potato Chips Maui Onion flavor (no one eats them except this one guy in our office...and we have questions about him outside of the chips, but it certainly doesn't help).  I will, however, eat the Sun Chips Harvest Cheddar flavor, but I have some concern.  I heard stories about people in the Depression who ate nothing but Rice Krispies for years and then once the Depression lifted, they couldn't eat them anymore.  I don't know if I'm asking my co-worker to bring in, say the Garden Salsa variety every once in a while, or if I'm just concerned about developing a food aversion.

A few weeks ago, our boss went to the chip bin and picked up a bag of the Harvest Cheddar Sun Chips.  After eating a chip or two, he something clearly audible for the whole office to hear, along the lines of, "Oh God, these taste terrible."  He then checked the expiration date.  The chips expired six months prior.  Please do me a favor, dear readers.  Buy the odd flavors of Dirty Chips.  Eat bunches of Harvest Cheddar and save the normal flavors for me.

Denied himself Vitamin C for months
to know what being a pirate was
really like
Shawn
-Profession: Engineering Student

-Favorite pirate affectation: Eyepatch

-As a soccer player, do you and others get really excited by the use of headers and footers in Microsoft Word?:  I do.  I can't vouch for anyone else.  I do get excited.  But I don't have much of an opportunity to use them in papers.

-You love zombie movies.  What do you think a zombie's worst fear is?:  Generally, fire.  They don't like it very much.  They're not afraid of much.
-What do you think a zombie would bring to a relationship?:  They're not afraid of commitment.  They wouldn't give up and leave.

-You dress up as a pirate at Pittsburgh Pirates baseball games and frequently appear on the scoreboard.  Do you think your costume helps or hinders kissing a girl on the kiss cam?:  I think it helps.  I've been on the Jumbotron before with strangers.  People will someone takes pictures of and with me for scavenger hunts.  But I've haven't been on the kiss cam before.

November 15: Box of Swiss Miss, Bag of Marshmallows, Mug, Chap Stick, Hand-Knitted Scarf, and 'Real Simple' Magazine

Friday, November 16, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 12:43 AM
Given to Boyd from Hannah.
This ain't no awkward middle school dance hug
Hannah explained both to me last night and in her note to Boyd that she wanted to give gifts that were representative of a hug.  Keeping the gifts for myself and bear-hugging my boy Boyd wasn't going to work.  I gave him the gifts, then probed him with a few questions about hugs.

1) Do these gifts make you want to hug your boss?: I don't want to go there
2) What is your version of a hug through gifts?:  A hand-knitted sweater that my wife would make; I don't knit.
3) How does it feel to be 'hugged' by someone you don't know?:  Oh, wonderful.
4) What are you looking for in a hug?:  Something not too tight or too long.  The hands have to be above the waist.  And it would be great if the wearer wore a pleasant perfume or cologne.  


His wife's going to sew a scarlet B
into this.
Boyd
-Profession: Compliance Officer

-Favorite thing to keep in compliance: Privacy & Security

-This summer, you shot machine guns with the F.B.I. and you are a blackbelt karate instructor.  How close are you to becoming Chuck Norris?: Nobody could beat Chuck Norris.  It's like asking how close I am to becoming God.  I'm at least a lifetime away [from becoming Chuck Norris].

-The Boyd Gang was a notorious Canadian crime gang that sprang up after World War II.  If there was a dispute about where or whom to rob, how do you think gang members would solve it?:  Playing a game of mumblety peg where you have to throw a pocket knife into the ground as close to your foot as possible.

-At home, how does your wife keep you in compliance?:  Guilt.  She uses guilt.

November 14: "The Pocket Book of Quotations", Puzzle Wine Clips, 3 Votive Halloween Candles, Oriental Candle, Deck of Cards, and Yellow Beaded Bracelet

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 11:54 PM
Given to Hannah from Jessica.
"Bloggers make the best lovers"-Anonymous
Books of quotes are interesting sorts of things, aren't they?  They usually feature the best and most insightful things, such as "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself" (FDR) or "Never interfere with your enemy when he is making a mistake" (Napoleon) or some quote from the Bible or Buddha.  It's usually in times of crisis or morality when they're brought up.

But what about in tranquil times when you're sitting with a girl and having a snack?  Why not bust out Robert Redford's memorable quote, "Health food may be good for the conscience, but Oreos taste a hell of a lot better"?  She'll think you esoteric.  Or if you're gazing into her eyes, you could bust out Angelia Jolie's astute reflection, "“I am odd-looking. I sometimes think I look like a funny Muppet.”  People will think you worldly.  Or you could say something like "Three hammers and a screwdriver do not make a toolbox."  When she looks back at you and inquires who the author of those astute words were, you could say, "Me.  I, uh, thought of that last week."  Quote yourself!

The expression 'bun in the oven'
came from her eating too much
bread dough
Hannah
-Profession: Program Coordinator for Music Conservancy Outreach

-Favorite dancing style: Modern

-You admit to eating more brownie batter than actual baked brownies.  Are there any other foods that you eat more of in pre-production?:  Yes!  Biscuit batter or any other batter-based foods, bread doughs, and raw cabbage before it's turned into coleslaw.

-You said you'll try anything once.  Does that mean you'll...
...use LSD experimentally?:  Maybe
...skydive naked?: Yes
...light a friend's house on fire?: No
...encourage drivers on a busy county highway to avoid a pothole?:  Yes

-You burp like a man and come from a family of burpers.  What liquid produces the best burp?: Dr. Pepper

November 13: Barry's Irish Tea, Aero Chocolate Bar, Cadbury Chocolate Digestive Crackers, and Two Tea Mugs

Posted by 366 White Elephants at 8:01 AM
Given to Jessica from Heather.

This gift's got some Euro 'flavah' to it, finished with some Heather sweetness, too.  I'll paraphrase the note that Heather included with her gifts to Jessica, but it goes something like this:

Hey person I don't know,
So when I was in Ireland, things were pretty awesome.  I liked meeting up with friends and I'd have tea time once a day.  We'd just kick back, solve the world's problems, stop arguing about reality TV shows, and just have some kick-ass conversations with each other.  I've included some of the best Irish tea, two mugs, some chocolate, and some digestive crackers that I dunked in the tea.  People don't dunk digestive crackers nowadays, do they?  Well, these crackers are for that purpose, so if you don't dunk them, I'll hire a P.I. and find you.  Ha, ha, ha!  I already know where you live!  Anyway, enjoy.
Heather

During a bad case of stomach flu,
the Hamburgler vowed never to steal
 anything ever again. 
Jessica
-Profession: Public Relations Professional

-Favorite way to distribute a message: Facebook

-You once lived in the motor home capital of the world (Elkhart, Indiana).  Outside of sex, if this motor home's a rockin' and you don't come a knockin', what's causing the rockin'?:  Hurricane Sandy.

-You enjoy the finer things in life (architecture, art, fine food, travel).  What's something rough that you enjoy (and please don't say anything about the motor home a rockin'):  Caring for my two boy toddlers. It's like herding cats.  I'm always on the edge of a nervous breakdown, but in complete happiness all the time.

-You're related to Ronald MacDonald.  How do you think the real Ronald McDonald acted with a bad case of the flu?:  He'd be all green instead of white.  And he'd act like a scary, deranged clown.

November 12: "The Dream Dictionary From A to Z" and a Lavender Candle

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 12:10 AM
Given to Heather from Terry.
There's nothing in here about Iron Chef 
castoffs marinating me in a garlic herb dressing
I have so many damn reusable tote bags, it's becoming an issue.  Half of my available trunk space is taken up by these totes.  It's the modern day version of the koozie.  Most businesses are about 4 years too late to be novel in passing these out and it seems like I'm getting one nearly every other day.  There are ones from Trader Joe's, the bank, the manufacturer of my camera, the place where I bought my camera, a couple of NPR shows, my alma mater, a theater, a Swedish supermarket, a local chicken farmer, several from a yoga-pilates fundraiser, a couple from the hospital, and lined ones that my mom gave me that were originally given to her at a summer raffle.  Yeah, it's a lot of bleeping bags.

The thing is, I take them all into the supermarket with me when I go shopping.  There's multiple bags in bags, further inlaid in other bags.  I tuck them away in bottom area of the shopping cart that's usually reserved for potatoes and crates of bottled water, and I unveil the bags only at checkout time.  If I don't get the chance to let the checkout staff know that I'm not OCD, an interesting little social experiment takes place.  Either the staffer will put on his little bagger blinders and pack the bags and fill them each with an appropriate volume of groceries or, when I get home, I'll wind up taking out a package of waffles from one bag, a chocolate bar from another bag, etc.  He will use every bag!  It will be days later, for example, and I'll find a container of ice cream that should have been put immediately in the freezer.

I'm offering my loyal readership a chance for an autographed, gently-used, eco-friendly bag.  Please let me know if you're interested and we'll work out shipping and handling.

Heather
-Profession: Biology Masters Student

-Favorite kind of heather: Azalea

-For your Masters project, you are studying moths.  Moths are drawn to flame.  Much like a moth drawn to flame, what is the stimulus that draws your lead researcher's attention?:  Shiny objects--you know, computer screens, a mirror reflecting light in a strange way, etc.

-You have both Viking and Cherokee Indian heritage.  Which one do you most identify with?:  Probably the Viking.  My Grandma was a straight-off-the-boat Norwegian.  My mom enjoys all things Viking like Norwegian ships...or hunting in the backyard.


-Girls with curly hair will sometimes straighten it.  Girls with straight hair will sometimes curl it.  Outside of this straightening and curling nonsense, what do girls really wish they could do to their hair?:  Cut it off.
-What do girls wish they could do to their hair that's not possible at this moment in time (i.e. make it 3-D)?:  Make it not frizzy.  For a short period of time, it can be helped.  But Pantene is useless.

November 11: Sun Fountain

Sunday, November 11, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 11:16 PM
Given to Terry from Gloria.
Wouldn't it be amazing if fountain drinks
trickled out of this fountain?
Today, a steady stream of visitors were pulling into the house next door (sans girl) to my parents', peering in the windows of the house and garage and strolling in the backyard like some armchair anthropologist of the late-1800s.  The neighbor's house went up for foreclosure earlier this summer, then the bank came and fixed it up, and now it's on the market.  However, this wasn't just a one-way inspection.  As I was helping my parents with window washing and some yard clean-up, I was inspecting their could-be neighbors.

Some leaned over the fence and asked what kind of neighborhood it was.  "Overrun with camels," I replied.  "You'd think we were in the bloody Sahara."

Some asked how the previous owners were.  "Swingers," I said.  "Unrivaled.  World-class."

Some I just went up to and made conversation, such as asking them what their favorite hummus was, so I could go to Trader Joe's and buy it for them as their house-warming present.  Or when I saw a car pull in, I went up to my brother's bedroom and started playing his trombone really loud (I have no trombone ability whatsoever) directly at the house.

Welcome future neighbor!

The antelope can also jump higher
than white men.
Terry
-Profession: Financial Aid Administrator; Higher Ed Catalyst

-Favorite time for a sunset: 9:00 p.m. EST in summer

-Do you have a preferred way of distributing financial aid packages?:  Yes, 50% in grants, 25% in scholarships, 25% in parent/student burden, and 0% in loans (when possible).

-Tell me the order in which you make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich:  I put two pieces of oat bran bread side by side on the counter.  I put peanut butter on both sides--not too much, but just enough and in equal amounts.  I then put some, but not a lot of, strawberry jam on the left slice of bread.  I will then flip the right slice on top of the left.  Then I cut it in half.

-You enjoy camping.  Know any campy camping jokes?:  I can't remember any jokes except for this one:  There's a breed of rare antelope that can jump higher than an average house.  Their jumping is due to a set of powerful hind legs and also to the fact that houses can't jump.

November 10: Loaf of Broken Rocks Sourdough Bread and Decorated Pumpkin

Posted by 366 White Elephants at 12:26 AM
Given to Gloria from Tina.

Yesterday, I was supposed to exchange gifts with this woman named Liz.  She had something come up in her schedule (she didn't tell me, but I'm assuming she won the Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes with a large check being delivered by Regis Philbin), so I was without a gift exchanger.  Because of this, I took a baby Bayer aspirin to ward off the possibility of heart attack.  This has happened from time-to-time when an emergency has come up, which forces me to find someone on the spot.  I'm usually pretty good about diffusing any awkwardness when this does happen, but if things get sticky, I'll usually flash my signed 8x10 picture of Patrick Stewart that I keep in my glove compartment.  That usually does the trick.  Anyway, I went down to have a drink with my friend Ray and asked Tina, who was working behind the bar, if she'd be interested in participating.  She did and provided a loaf of bread from the restaurant where she works--Broken Rocks Cafe--and a festively decorated pumpkin that was sitting on the bar top.

Immodium can help her with
consecutive runs
Gloria
-Profession: Retired Medical Receptionist and Biller

-Favorite mahjong combination: Any consecutive runs

-For exercise, you water walk.  How many times do people crack jokes about eventually 'walking on water'?:  I don't think anyone's ever said that to me.

-Your grandmother was a bootlegger and once busted by Eliot Ness.  Do you find something, um, non appetizing about drinking a beverage that was made in the same place as where a person cleans their filth off?:  Today, yes.  Back then, the alcohol possibly sanitized it.

-In your spare time, you design greeting cards.  What would the front of a condolence card look like for someone who had a graduation party and no one came?:  It would probably have a sad, blue cartoon face with 2012 in the background.

November 9: Darth Vader Pez Dispenser; Bag of Ricola Cough drops; Bag of Lindt Chocolate; and Christmas Garland Decorations

Saturday, November 10, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 12:03 AM
Given to Tina from Catherine.



I was filling my car up with gas and saw this interesting billboard below.

Oh, wow!  Park Mazda is the 'home of the $24.95 oil change'?  This is so brilliant!  No other car dealership in the country before them could dream up an oil change at such a reasonable price.  I wonder if they use this as a competitive advantage over other car dealerships in the area?  Could you see someone choosing to bypass Jones Madza, home of the $26.75 oil change, and take their business to Park Mazda instead?

But I really love this gimmick.  I wish companies and other businesses would use it more.  The Cleveland Cavaliers--home of the 76% free throw shooting percentage.  Taco Bell--home to the 48-hour runs.  Pierre's ice cream--home to the two and a half ice cream scoop.  Bizarre yes.  But where else could you go to visit the home of the 48-hour runs?

But let's be clear.  Homes are not the same as birthplaces.  Businesses should also use those as well.  Gino's--birthplace of the fold-over gryo.  Manchester University--birthplace of the all-nighter.  Yes, birthplaces seem to carry a bunch more weight.

Tina
-Profession: Artist; Bartender

-Favorite alone time activity: Making Books

-What's the most interesting dream you're willing to reveal?:  I was back home.  You know those tiny airports with the grass field and old school hangar and bi-planes?  I'm there with my family and we're walking around.  Then we find ourselves laying in bed together, staring up at the sky.  It's a sunset with some crazy pinks and blue.  Then we get bombed on by planes overhead.  But we're just laying there, looking up at the bombs like fireworks.

-With your new bag of Ricola's, please come up with a yodel: Hi-you-you-you [which she actually sang out loud in the restaurant we were in]

-If you could have any job, what would it be?:  I'd be an advertising/fashion photographer.

November 8: Japanese Stamp

Thursday, November 8, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 11:38 PM
Given to Catherine from Curtis.

On the outside, it looks like a lipstick container.  When you open it and press it down on a piece of paper, a small circular stamp with Japanese letters inside that spell "Curtis" is revealed.  As you could probably surmise, this was one of the stamps Curtis used when he was teaching English in Japan.  And, as he relayed the story to me, he would also use this stamp in place of a signature for an apartment rental agreement, opening a bank account, etc as many Japanese do.  Instead of places for signatures on applications, there is a place for your stamp.  Ironically, the Japanese have not figured out the role and place of tramp stamps in their society.

Canadians everywhere just sighed
Catherine
-Profession: College Student

-Favorite nut to cover in chocolate: Almond

-How would you leave your mark?:  I'd probably leave a rose in a orange-colored wax seal.  Rose is my middle name, but I can also be prickly at times.

-You're Canadian and I presume you have an affection toward maple syrup.  Please rank the following sweeteners in order of preference: white sugar; family of artificial sweeteners; maple syrup; sugar-in-the-raw; honey; molasses; agave nectar.
1) honey; 2) Sugar-in-the-Raw; 3) maple syrup [gasp!]; 4) white sugar; 5) agave nectar; 6) molasses; 7) family of artificial sweeteners

-Many people joke about water polo being an aristocratic sport.  Since you've played water polo and do not think it is elitist, what sport do you think is aristocratic?:  Tennis.  I didn't even think about it.  I remember there was a protest of people standing on tennis courts in a palace during the French Revolution.

November 7: Philadelphia Dragon Boat Regatta 2nd Place Medallion

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 - Posted by 366 White Elephants at 8:43 PM
Given to Curtis from Chris.
Oooohhhh...

Aaaahhhh...

Oh the irony!  Chris and his wife were working at an art museum in Philadelphia.  One day, this crazy lady approached them to see if they would be interested in participating in a fundraiser for the U.S. Dragon Boat rowing team.  For those of you unfamiliar with a dragon boat, it's similar to a Viking ship.  For $65 a pop, Chris and his beloved got three training sessions, then competed in a race with other funder teams.  By the time they were done with the race, they thought they were going to finish third.  But at the end, they announced that they had actually finished second.  The reason was that the first place team cheated by using more men than women (there is some kind of ratio that you need to have).  And here is one of their 2nd place medals from the regatta.

Now, here's where the irony sets in.  1) Curtis taught English in Japan for three years and, during his time there, actually put together a team of ex-pats living in Japan for a Dragon Boat regatta.  2) Chris and Curtis have coincidentally been part of the same improv troupe, but have never met.  3) And they both have beards!

Curtis 187 was his playing weight in
high school
Curtis
-Profession: English as a Second Language Teacher

-Favorite piece of hardware: Washer

-On 50 Cent's album Curtis, what song most represents you?: Come and Go because between going to Kalamazoo College and Japan, I go through different stages and then I leave.
-What song represents you the least?:  I Get Money because I don't have it and money's never been a major motivator.  My Gun Go Off was a close second.

-You're the commissioner of a fantasy football league and you've spent three years in Japan.  Import something from Japan to make the American football game better:  Japan is a group-oriented society.  There is a lot of diva-ness in American football.  I think they should play for the glory of the team rather than the glory of the self.

-You're the 22nd bearded gift exchanger.  Are you jolly?:  I don't think I'm jolly.  Jolly's a special kind of happiness.  I'm wacky.