Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Shooting Tourists

Life was slow at times when I was a sophomore in college.  My friend Dave and I broke up the monotony by driving to Tampa twice a month to enjoy ourselves at Busch Gardens.  Let me explain.  That year, Busch Gardens offered a special deal.  If you purchased one admission to the park, you could return as many times as you wanted absolutely free.  They handed out these little ID cards with your picture on it (I was able to convince the picture lady to let me pose for mine, I was able to get a butt slap action photo as my means of identification).  So we went once at the beginning of the year and several times more for only gas money.  We would drive down on Friday night and stay with Dave's family or some friends, go to the park on Saturday then again for a half day on Sunday before returning to Gainesville.  (I have another post coming regarding one of these trips)

Now most patrons of the park ride the roller coasters and partake in the other attractions.  Dave and I enjoyed those rides on our first trip.  But one can only ride the Kumba so many times.  Every trip to Busch Gardens (aside from first one) was solely for one purpose.  Dave and I would spend several hours (literally) enhancing the experience of the Congo River Rapids by pumping quarters into the huge squirt gun machines and drenching complete strangers.  Sure we would stop for lunch, and occasionally ride the Kumba, but we spent nearly the entire time manning the water cannons.  At the time, I was delivering pizzas a couple days a week.  I could accumulate hundreds of quarters in a few weeks at work from all the "keep the change" transactions.  Each one would translate into a few sopping wet tourists.

Dave and I acquired such skill in shooting tourists (as we liked to call it) that people started to take notice.  We could look upstream and determine exactly which person in the raft would be in direct alignment with the gun once they reached us.  We would taunt the people on the ride knowing full well that they would be soaked in a few seconds.  For example:  "Hey you in the Hawaiian shirt, get ready!"or "Hey beer mug necklace, you're about to get wet!"  Busch Gardens sold hats in the likeness of various zoo animals, so my personal favorite was "Hey elephant head, I'm coming for you buddy!"  Some of the people on the ride would yell back, some wouldn't, some would try to move out of the way, some thought we were bluffing, they all got wet.  

Our water projectile expertise and comedic antics drew quite a crowd.  We had strangers giving us quarters and pointing out when their family or friend's raft was coming.  Mostly we were receiving money from elderly people who could not go on the ride themselves but couldn't resist getting their grandkids wet.  Inexperienced shooters could not trust 25 cents to fate, so they depended on us for accurate timing.  Even staff members would come by for a laugh or two.  By the end of the day, we would be entertaining a large group of spectators.  Anheuser Busch should have been paying us.

My proudest moment came on our last visit.  It was the end of a successful day, the park was closing and Dave an I were waiting by the exit for a few friends who came with us (they wasted their time riding coasters all day).  As we sat there surveying the passing crowd for our friends, we witnessed several people staring at us either dripping excessively, carrying their socks over their shoulders to dry them out, or angry young females in need of a blow dryer.  One particular teenage girl leaned over to her mother and said "those are the two guys I was telling you about" as she walked past.  The mother gave me a menacing look, I was beaming with pride.  I just raised my hand, mimicked a gun with my fingers, took aim, winked at her and smiled.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


So on to my first year of college in the ol' Blog DeLorean. Sorry, this is a long post. But don't worry, it will be well worth the time.

When I was a freshman at UF -the best university God ever created- I lived in a dorm, Graham Hall. I was excited initially because dorms were assigned randomly and Spanky ended up only two doors down the hall, that however is not part of this post. All I knew was my roomie-to-be had a monarch type name, George W Addicott III, and he was from Wellington.

The next day I heard a rustling outside the door, I assumed it was him so I went to the door and opened it to introduce myself. There stood George, with all of his stuff surrounding him, apparently his parents had dropped him off, I could smell the rubber they burned as they screeched out of the parking lot. George was an interesting character. He looked to be balding and he was wearing an ensemble that he would enrobe every single day of the entire school year: blue and white high tops, tall white socks pulled up high enough to keep his lower calves warm, jean shorts, and a bluish green patterned polo shirt. He brought with him only clothing, bedding, toiletries, and his computer. I would come to find out that George was an impassioned obsessive compulsive, a germaphobe, a fanatical studier, and had never watched MTV before. These qualities and others made George a great subject for scientific research... Well, that is how I rationalized messing with him so much. The following is a list of some of the 'experiments' I did on George W Addicott III during my freshman year in the dorm. All of these actually happened, if George were here -he would never be because he hates me now- he could verify all of this.

- I used subtle name changes such as Gorg (my personal favorite), Garrrrg, Gorgus Gorg, Gorgoyle, NWA III, George W Apricot III, George H.W. Addicott, Smorgasgorg, and other variants. "My name is George, not ___" he would usually reply.

- I bunked the beds every time he left for class for an entire week. He refused to bunk the beds because a) he was afraid of heights and b) he was afraid I might pee on him at night. Yes, seriously. Supposedly (or, as Gorg, would say supposevly) there was an incident at camp when he was younger involving both bunk-beds and urine.

- I secretly marked his cloths with a dry-erase marker to tell if they had been washed. I did this after realizing that he had exactly 14 of each part of his wardrobe and he systematically rotated through them until laundry day every other Sunday.

- On separate occasions: I replaced one pencil in his pencil mug with a pen, changed his textbooks from alpha order by subject to alpha order by author, moved his hat (which he only wore on weekends) from the left bed post to the right one, moved his clock forward one minute, moved his clock back one minute, and turned his pillow around so that the open end of the pillowcase faced away from the wall rather than towards it. All of these experiments George discovered within a minute of entering the room. Yes, I timed him... he started to suspect something whenever he came home to me sitting on my bed with a stopwatch.

- I would leave the TV remote on his bed. Upon my departure, he would immediately tune to MTV or the E! Channel. I would spy on him from the window for a few minutes. When he heard my key entering the lock, he would turn it off and return to his side of the room in earnest. "Gorg... what were you doing?" I would ask.

- George would always drink Mountain Dew (one of the few things we had in common). He would suck on the plastic bottle so hard that he would produce a red ring around his lips. George didn't quite understand the procedure for drinking out of a 20 oz bottle. So when he was gone for a minute, I poked a hole in the side of the bottle to reduce pressure. I guess I should have made the hole bigger, afterwards he still looked like he had just made out with a shop vac.

- George went to bed at the exactly 10:30 every night, he had a nightly routine. He would travel to and from the shower always with his socks on (come to think of it, I never once saw his feet), come back to the room to drop off his toiletry basket, return to the bathroom to brush his teeth for an absurd amount of time (I'm sure he timed it by counting or singing a song), come back to the room to drop off his toothbrush, and leave the room one last time to get a drink from the water fountain down the hall, then he'd turn the light off (regardless of what I was doing) hop in bed and go to sleep. So naturally -since I was annoyed with my room being out of commission that early- I hid his socks, toiletries, toothpaste, and/or all of the above every once and a while to throw him off.

- I tried to convince him he could do better in school by avoiding studying at all costs. I proved this to him by acing every Calculus test without purchasing the book or even going to class once. I conveniently left out the fact that I got a 5 on the AP Calc test and was retaking the class to boost my GPA (I had an awesome teacher in High School). I would pretend to cram by flipping through his book as we walked to the test. He would always over-study and get a B or C. I would continually remind him of that.

- The straw that broke the George's back was when I told him I was really getting interested in interior design. When he came back from class one day, I had moved all of the furniture in our room into one corner to make room for a blow up couch I had purchased at Target (I bunked the beds again for good measure of course). The couch had a sign that read; Jon's Couch, DO NOT TOUCH! He started freaking out and nearly hyperventilated. "All of your stuff is touching my stuff!" he yelled. I toned it down a lot after that.

A few years later I bumped into George at Walgreen's, he is the Assistant to the Regional Manager there, I apologized. He seemed to take it well, he laughed at some of the stuff I did to him in the name of science. I like to think that I shook him out of his OCD bubble enough to make him into a real boy. Maybe without me he would be stuck working at CVS.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

TP Insurance

Over the course of the next few posts we are going to time travel and chronologically revisit some of the most hilarious occurrences throughout my high school and college years.  Let's start with the fall of 1997, football season at Edgewater High School.

Before each football game, my friends and I would have our pre-game meal at a hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant.  There's nothing like All You Can Eat Tacos before rooting for our team.  We would typically gorge ourselves and then head over to watch the Eagles lose (at the time we were not very good).  It was a delicate process, eating as much as possible without crossing the diarrhea-during-the-game line.  Although delicious, grease is not subtle on the GI tract.

One particular weekend, we were playing our cross-town rivals.  We all stuffed ourselves with Mexican goodness and hopped into the car.  On this night, I happened to be riding with two of my best friends: Bale was driving, I was in the passenger seat, and Spanky was in the back.  We made Spanky sit in the back because he wore Birkenstocks with socks (or BirkenSocks as we called them), a doubly ridiculous ensemble.  He was to sit in the back and think about what he had done.  As we approached the stadium, I realized that I didn't have enough cash to get into the game.  We told the rest of the group to go ahead as the three of us brainstormed.  There was a construction site behind the guest bleachers, and in our estimation, we would only need to hop one fence to get into the game for free.  

Bale pulled the car around to the back of the construction site.  I got out of the car and scouted out the path.  When I turned around I noticed that Spanky was still in the car.  "Come on Stocks n' Socks!" I yelled.  Spanky did not look well.  "I can't move, if I do, I might crap in my pants", he said as he squeezed his cheeks together keeping a flood of Mexicans from breaching the border.  Luckily there was a Port-o-potty at the construction site.  Spanky cautiously got out of the car and waddled his way over to the Port-o-potty.  He walked as if he was in a potato sack race and didn't quite understand the strategy involved.  I can not describe to you the horrifying sounds that echoed through the vents when Spanky entered that little plastic room.  

Of course, Bale and I took full advantage of the situation.  We rocked the Port-o-potty back and forth until it came off of the base, we took running starts and dive bombed into the plastic walls (the walls bowed in so much that we were able to knock him off the seat a few times), and we tried to call as much attention to Spanky's situation as possible.

Finally, after about ten minutes, Spanky came out of the Port-o-potty looking a little relieved and a lot embarrassed.  At this point, we could finally hop the fence and go into the game.  When we got to the fence I noticed something strange when Spanky put his foot up on it.  His socks were missing.  "Spanky, what happened to your socks?" I asked.  "I wasn't wearing any socks" he replied.  Simultaneously, Bale and I recounted every last detail regarding teasing him about his BirkenSocks earlier that evening.  There was no way he could fool us.  I asked again "Spanky, what happened to your socks?".  "OK, OK!" he yelled "I did have socks on, but when I got in the Port-o-potty I realized there was no toilet paper.  I didn't know what to do, it was real nasty, I had no choice!  I had to use them!"  Bale and I laughed as a little vomit came up in the back of our throats.  But Spanky did not stop there, "I don't have any underwear on either, I had to use that too!"  This was evident as I looked up while he straddled the top of the fence.

Maybe Bale and I were wrong.  On that night, the functionality of clothing items took precedent over aesthetics.  From that night forward I have never criticized anyone for wearing BirkenSocks, it's just toilet paper insurance, quite brilliant actually.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Beware of TACO

My wife and I are having our first child this summer, well she is the one actually giving birth.  For all of you question askers out there: It's a girl, the due date is July 31st, no we have not decided on a name yet, and yes we're excited.  With the birth of a child comes additional responsibility like caring for another life, being more financially accountable, and of course, child birth classes.

We attended our first class at the hospital on Monday.  It was a little awkward at first.  You know, several couples, strangers, smashed into a tiny room, talking openly about each other's private parts and bodily fluids.  Which brings me to the point of this post, the rupturing of the amniotic sac or the breaking of the water.

We learned a nifty acronym to decipher whether or not we should notify the doctor of anything abnormal when the water breaks.  COAT: C = color of fluid (it should be clear), O = odor (it should lack it), A = amount (may vary), and T = time (usually all at once but may vary).  Now upon seeing these letters on the screen I put together an acronym in my head that is more up my alley and way easier to remember.  Time, Amount, Color, Odor or TACO.  Sounds delicious doesn't it!  So whichever works better for you, a cold weather clothing item or delectable Mexican entree.

Then I really started thinking about it.  If all of a sudden superfluous quantities of greenish yellow fluid that has a putrid smell comes spewing out of my wife, I won't need to remember any acronym to realize I need to call the doctor immediately... after I regain consciousness.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Conan's Greatest Triumph

In honor of Conan moving to the Tonight Show (replacing Jay Leno) this week, I thought I'd share my favorite Late Night clip.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Don't Touch The Time Machine

The kids get weirder the closer it gets to the end of the school year.  I have been giving my students a couple of days of in class time to study with exam week approaching.  Seems like a good idea right?  Not really.

Next to my classroom is the senior lab.  It has a few big tables that are great for group work.  The seniors are gone at this point in the year, and some of the kids asked if they could use that room to 'study'.  It's a bit crowded in my room, so I agreed.  My kids had never been in there before, so naturally upon entering the room they proceeded to ask me several thousand questions.  "What's this?", "Why are these here?", "What does this do?", and so on.  As I was leaving the room, one of the kids pointed to the chemical ventilation hood (which looks like a large microwave with a metal chimney that takes chemical fumes outside) and asked me about it.  At that point I was tired of answering questions, so I responded "It's a time machine, now don't touch anything."  The kids giggled and I left the room.

Several minutes later, I was back in my room helping some other kids with exam questions when I heard the lab door swing open.  "Mr. A! Help! Abby's stuck inside the time machine and we can't get her out!" they shouted.  I ran over to the lab room to see what was going on.  Sure enough, Abby was inside the vent chamber.  I could see her through the glass window.  She looked both shocked and embarrassed.  I guess the anticipation of what the future has in store was simply too irresistible.  I also guess they did not see the OPEN button that releases the latch when the glass door is closed.  I was both stupefied and doing my best to contain my laughter (I'm supposed to be the role model right?).  The only words I could muster were, "I told you not to touch the time machine."  Luckily they did not hit the ON button or Abby would have been in for the ride of her life.  It is quite dusty in there and the exhaust fan is pretty intense.  She would have left the vent looking as if she had spent a few minutes inside a Hoover vacuum bag.

The lesson learned here is simple.  No matter how tempting it might be to foresee the future or change the past, live the best you can in the present, use common sense, and whatever you do, don't touch the time machine.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Dweeb Olympics

For those of you who don't know, I am a high school Biology teacher.  This year I accepted a position where I would be teaching an advanced, magnet program Biology class.  I didn't know it at the time, but I was about to become a bona fide nerd herder.  My first hint was on the first week of school when one class erupted into a round of applause (followed by a standing ovation) after we finished Chapter 1 Notes... not kidding.  If you're a nerd like me, you'll appreciate this.

The year has nearly come to an end and the kids are starting to let loose a little.  My nerd shepherding came to a climax today when the annual frog dissection lab turned into the Dweeb Olympics.  All of what I am about to tell you is the absolute truth.

I'll start with my first period class.  Cutting through a frog bone can, at times, create frog gut projectiles.  The bones are under a little tension, when they are snipped they tend to fling any small particles touching them into the air.  I warn the kids to avoid dissecting with their mouths ajar.  Many students have inadvertently consumed bits of frog in the past (it happens more often then you might think).  Well, not more than 5 minutes after I gave them the projectile speech, I heard a girl in the back of the room screaming.  "It's in my mouth!  It's in my mouth!" she yelled (all of the boys in the class in unison: "that's what she said").  After I gave her the old 'I told you so', she proceeded to explain that she is a mouth breather because of her deviated septum, and would have otherwise suffocated.  

In fourth period, I had a girl show me what she had created after finishing the required steps.  She approached me with a huge grin. "I skinned it!" she said.  This was true.  The frog looked as if it had been caught naked after changing out of its camouflaged wet suit.  "That's pretty demented" I responded.  She scoffed at me jokingly and rolled her eyes.  As she walked away she said "At least it's not a person!"  I wholeheartedly agreed.

Finally, my selection for the All-Olympic Team: fifth period, group three.  Much to their delight, group three's frog was on the verge of emptying its bowels upon its demise.  The frog's large intestine was packed full of digested insect parts.  So much so that one of the students suggested that it might have died from a gluttonous binge.  Chuckling a bit, I walked around the room to check on the other groups.  When I returned to group three, I noticed something in the frog was missing.  "What happened to the intestines?" I asked.  For some reason, this comment instantly caused all three of them to explode into laughter.  As I took a closer look to figure out what was so hilarious, I discovered that they had fed the dead frog its own fecal matter by forcing it through its opened esophagus.  When asked WHY exactly they would force a deceased amphibian to re-eat its last meal, they responded "Boil this and it's considered a delicacy in Asia!"  Wow!  They were so proud.

As I mentioned before, these events are all 100% true.  I do admire the kids in my class, it took me until college to respect the fact that I am a huge nerd.  I like science so much that the profession I chose involves me telling others about how much I like science.  Everyone is a nerd, this is undeniable.  The sooner you embrace it, the more enjoyable your life will be.

Until next time...