Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Roommate Stories (Part 1 of Many)

As I have mentioned before, in college I roomed with a person who was named Eric Hanson. The only difference in our names was that my name ends with a K and his ends with C. Thus, our identities were reduced to single letters, kind of like the Men in Black. At least I get to be played by Tommy Lee Jones. We are good friends, but we frequently talk about our hatred for each other, trade insults, and threaten each other’s lives.

One instance that exemplifies this relationship was when C was returning to our dorm room from a meeting one evening. About halfway down the hall, he started screaming at me, calling me a slut and saying he was going to beat the crap out of me. As he got into our room, he grabbed a towel bar off of the rack, slammed the door, and proceeded to pound the door with his new weapon. Nobody on our floor thought to investigate the sounds of what could very well have been C beating me to death. Perhaps this just shows that our neighbors were used to us being generally awful people to each other.

Another moment that displays our adversarial friendship involves a challenge I once gave to him. In the mornings, we would frequently watch “Mike and Mike” on ESPN and one of the hosts would frequently talk about how someone needed to “man up” or be tough. This started a trend of C and I giving each other man up challenges, culminating in an instance where C threatened to throw me down the stairs and I told him to man up and do it. To live up to the challenge would mean going to jail, so either way I win. Naturally, he backed down, because he is weak.

There will be more roommate stories in the future, but this is a sampling of what our lives were like.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

I Could Be on Survivor

I have never been a huge fan of realty game shows on TV. At least half the time, the focus is on making things overly dramatic and having people complain about each other on camera. However, I think I could suck it up to be on “Survivor” and do alright.

After all, I spent years in Boy Scouts camping and exploring the wilderness. I’m used to sleeping spending time in rugged areas. Hanging out for seven weeks in some remote location wouldn’t really be that bad.

Before leaving for my adventure, I would study up by watching episodes of “Man Vs. Wild” and hunting animals in the woods for practice. By the time I got to whatever place we were going, I would be ready to traverse a desert, wrestle an alligator, or make a sleeping bag out of a camel. Between my Boy Scout skills and rigorous training regimen, I would be a valuable, and possibly crazy, addition to any “Survivor” cast.

And since I’m not the sort of person that complains about others, and especially not to a camera, I would need some craziness to be interesting for an audience. I could do this by fearlessly eating insects in a challenge, hunting down animals with my bare hands, and crafting a shelter out of the non-meat parts of said animals.

So the next time “Survivor” is taking applications, get ready to watch me take on Mother Nature in an epic struggle.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Inception: How Many Levels Down Can You Go?

Tonight, I just got done seeing Inception for the third time, because I think it’s incredible and one of my friends had not seen it yet. Every time I see that movie, I get to thinking about dreams. For example, after the first time seeing Inception, I distinctly recall going two levels down. I “woke up” from a dream, realized I was still in a dream, then woke up for real back in my room. It was kind of trippy, but awesome at the same time. I felt like a badass and that I should become a dream thief.

In my dreams, I’ve also discovered other skills that would be helpful as an extractor, or idea thief. I frequently run around, either escaping something or sneaking into some place. If I have to, I’ll even fight enemies off to get to make my escape. So the next time Leonardo DiCaprio is recruiting for an inception mission, I’ll be ready.

Unfortunately, my subconscious can sometimes be unfriendly. At different times, I’ve run away from a bus, fought my way through aliens, and dodged tornadoes. My friends aren’t always friendly in my dreams either. In a dream a few weeks ago, I was hanging out with some friends, then they left me and wouldn’t tell me where they went. This situation may not be as intense as fighting aliens, but it shows that my subconscious might not be trustworthy. But it is these things that make my dreams exciting, if weird.

Tonight, I try for three levels down.

Monday, August 23, 2010

My Failings as an Employee

After spending a summer working at my internship, my boss has informed me that in a recommendation letter, he would note that I had performed my job well, but I had several shortcomings. I have written out a list of my failures below:

1. Failed to identify the Barry Manilow song “Mandy”

2. Would not sing along with “Mandy”

3. Failed to successfully sabotage his phone line

4. Refused to take his place to shop for a house with his wife

5. Refused to go to baby classes with his wife

6. Would not put a whole sub sandwich in my mouth at once

7. Did not want to go to one of his band’s gigs and flash everyone

8. Would not compete in an eating contest and give him the winnings from doing it

9. Worked over lunch one day so I could leave early and go home to have supper with my family

10. Told him that his idea for “poop robots” (a story coming soon) would not be marketable

I sincerely hope that this list does not hold me back from my dream job someday, but some of those items are pretty serious offenses. Wish me luck in overcoming these obstacles.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Good Time to Move

Yesterday, it was time to move from the apartment I was living in during my summer internship to my new apartment for grad school, which is why I did not get a chance to post anything. While the place I’ve been staying at got the job done this summer, it was not the best apartment building ever.

It actually used to be an old hospital, so it has a large elevator, wide hallways, and doors big enough for a wheelchair to move through easily. If the lights were off at night, it would be a great place to film a horror movie. My room was pretty basic, with a bedroom/living space and a bathroom. There was a community kitchen on each floor, but I didn’t use it. Hauling a ton of kitchen supplies across the building did not sound appealing to me, and the kitchen had a questionable state of cleanliness.

The other people staying there were interesting characters, to say the least. I was consistently the best dressed person walking around…even when I was dressed in my workout clothes. And I would sometimes get to listen to the wonderful sounds of my neighbors yelling at each other. To be fair though, I was routinely retaliating with the sounds of gun fire from video games.

When I was moving out, I ran into someone who asked if I had heard about the fight the night before. Apparently, a couple of people had been yelling at each other and got into a physical fight. There was blood all over the stairway and the cops had to come. I was glad I had not heard about this until I was on my way out. This story made me wonder what other kinds of things went on that I did not hear from my apartment at the back of the place. Although, part of me really doesn’t want to know. Let’s hope my new neighbors are more peaceful than the old ones.

Friday, August 20, 2010

If Driving Was Like Mario Kart...

Last night, I was playing Mario Kart on the Wii with one of my friends from work, and I got to thinking: What if driving in real life was like this?

We could all ride go-karts around, while dressed as Nintendo characters. I think I would maybe be Luigi, since I have the facial hair for it. I would stock up on turtle shells and banana peels, and off I would go. People could throw random things at each other and bump into each other as they race around town. There are plenty of bad drivers out there who act like they’re in a demolition derby anyway; this would just make it exciting instead of frustrating, since everyone would be in on the fun.

Even a short trip to the corner grocery store could turn into an epic event, with people smashing into each other and shells flying left and right. If you’re lucky, you could pick up a star that will keep you safe for the otherwise treacherous journey, or pick up a mushroom that lets you boost past all of the destruction.

Of course, it wouldn’t be like Mario Kart unless the world itself was determined to set you off course. There would have to be ramps to jump your kart off of, along with pitfalls and bridges without railings to send you tumbling off of the track. Obscenely large Venus fly traps would be waiting to munch on you and your kart. And, of course, there would have to be some fireballs randomly flying about the road.

While it may seem like a dangerous way to drive, in Mario Kart, all of the characters always survive to finish the race. So even though your kart might be blown up, eaten, or lit on fire, you will always live to race another day and can drive like the maniac you always wanted to be. But, alas, we must live in a world without consequence-free driving and where we cannot throw turtle shells at each other. And so I must confine these driving fantasies to the small amounts of time I play Mario Kart.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Purple Primer Story

In 8th grade, our experience with Destination: Imagination resumed the strange and disturbing journey that had begun in 6th grade (here) and continued in 7th grade (here). This year, the challenge we chose was to write, perform, and create the set for a mystery. The greater focus on story allowed us to come up with our most twisted plot yet.

Our skit began with a number of business executives from a huge food conglomerate gathering at a large mansion, belonging to the executive from England. Other countries who were represented included the United States, Russia, Germany, and Iraq, all complete with accents. They were meeting to discuss how to increase sales by adding addictives to their food. This way people would not be able to stop eating their products.

But as the meeting progressed, people began to disappear, killed by one of the people at the mansion. One of my favorite conversations was when we were planning how people should be killed. People threw out a number of ideas. “How about a gun?” “No.” “Knife?” “No.” “Gas chamber?” “No.” “Anthrax?” “YES!” That’s right, we settled on anthrax as our weapon of choice. Keep in mind that we performed this in the spring of 2001, mere months before the real anthrax scare after 9/11. I’m half surprised we didn’t get waterboarded and interrogated about giving the idea to the bad guys.

Also, through the entire skit, we sprinkled about red herrings that led the audience to believe that it was the Iraqi who was doing the killing. Politically correct, we were not. But in the end, it turned out to be the German, who wanted control of the conglomerate for himself.

Once, when Eric "C" and I were working on the set, a portion of it had to be painted. But first, the PVC pipe we were using had to be primed. So we busted open a can of purple primer and started going to town. However, since this was a frigid day in February, we opted to keep the garage door closed, which meant the fumes from the primer had no place to go, except for our nostrils. After an hour of unintentionally inhaling primer fumes in an unventilated garage, we were high as kites when we went back into the house. This event has left me without the ability to smell rubber cement, and C and I think that the purple primer incident has possibly handicapped our IQ and led to some our less successful decisions in life.

It is after this defining event that I have named this blog.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My Goofy Dog

A few years ago, when our last dog passed away, my family started looking for a new furry friend. This search led my mom and sister to the Humane Society, where they discovered a nice, small puppy all curled up in his pen. Then he stood up. He was not, in fact, small, but actually stood nearly at waist height. This dog is a combination of golden retriever and Newfoundland, and is basically looks like a golden retriever on steroids.

My mom and sister got him out of the cage and instantly fell in love with him. Now, at this point, my dad and I were under the assumption that we were not going to get a dog for a while. So we were kind of upset when they called and asked us to come to the Humane Society. All of this changed once we met him and he leaned up on us as we pet him. We went in with no intention of getting a dog yet, and walked out with a big yellow fur ball, who we named Indy.

In an odd turn of events, while we were tracking down shot records for him, we discovered that he had been taken care of by my friend Eric “C” Hanson’s aunt for some time. Indy and his brother had run away from home and arrived at her farm. When the farmer that owned them said he was going to shoot them, she told him to take them to the Humane Society instead. The result of this is that one of my best friends has known my dog longer than I have, and he reminds me of this fact at every opportunity.

As much as we love Indy, he is also full of quirks. For instance, he is deathly afraid of cameras, which means we have to be very sneaky to get a picture of him. Whenever he sees a camera, or even hears one, he runs off to another room and refuses to come out until the cameras have been gone for at least an hour.

Another funny thing about him is that the 4th of July is his personal Armageddon. The smallest pop from a firecracker sends him into a frenzy. He’ll run down into the basement and freak out all over the place, jumping on people and doors, trying to get away from it. After a bit, he’ll cower under my dad’s desk, but another crackle or whistle of fireworks will get him started all over again.

As goofy as he is, Indy is a great dog. His quirks just give him personality. To close, here is a picture of him, but a little modified:

(I just joined Technorati, so I have to post this code this one time: ZUHXWJAK5VG9 )

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Alien and the Tricycle

After our 6th grade experience with Odyssey of the Mind, the organization kind of fell apart and was no longer available for us at our school. Surprisingly, we weren’t responsible for this turn of events. But we were lucky, since we were able to participate in a similar organization, Destination: Imagination, during the next two years. The challenge we picked during our 7th grade year was to build a roller coaster that transported “fruit” (represented by tennis balls) and to write a story that went along with it.

We chose to use our roller coaster to deliver fruit to war torn Chechnya, which was rebelling against Russia at the time. We also recruited ET and a small boy on a tricycle to help fly the fruit to the other side of the world. Why wouldn’t a friendly alien like ET want to get involved in a violent Russian conflict? It makes total sense.

While we were writing this totally believable story and designing our roller coaster, we had upgraded our work space from a classroom to the house of one of the guys on the team. I can’t believe I still get along with those parents. Every minute was a battle to keep us on task, and we had to be bribed with brownies and Cheetos. Each day would also end with some video games and “trampoline time,” which helped us burn off the deadly combo of sugar and ADD.

On particularly nice days, when we were working in the garage, the parents would decide that some fresh air would be good for us. However, every time they let us out, it was like a wave of terror was unleashed upon the neighborhood. The first escapee would be Jeremy, blazing down the streak on the tricycle. Then Edward, complete with ET costume, would chase after him. Next would go Peter, waving around a giant saw. Finally, everyone else would follow in this sad parody of a parade.

As you would expect, this craziness did not help with productivity. We did not have a functional roller coaster until a week before the competition, and we only got it working thanks to a stroke of genius from one of the parents. Even then, it was a crap shoot whether the roller coaster would work for the entire skit. By a miracle, ours managed to work for the competition. Since we had the only working coaster, we got first place, but other teams did an amazing job improvising their way through their skits.  We just succeeded  through technical brute force.

This sent us to the state competition in Pierre for the second year. Along the way, half of the team would nearly be run over by a semi as we ran across a highway to ride a buffalo statue. But no trip with us would be complete without a near death experience. Getting second place at state rounded out yet another year of insanity.

Click here for the final part of the Odyssey of the Mind/Destination: Imagination trilogy.

Monday, August 16, 2010

My Boss the Ninja

Spending this summer in Watertown for my internship has been a very interesting experience. However, it has been somewhat lonely at times, since I don’t really know anyone outside of the people I work with. I have contemplated going to a local bar and standing around like the creeper I am, but I have decided against this course of action. I might run into someone creepier than myself and be forced into a duel to defend my honor, and then I’d have to wash blood out of my clothes, which is a just a hassle. So I have resigned myself to just going home or to Brookings for social interaction on the weekends, and spending my weeknights working out and crying myself to sleep.

However, I do greatly enjoy the people I work with. My desk is in a dark little corner of my boss Brian’s office, so we have had the opportunity for many profound conversations. One my recent favorites is when Brian made a fateful decision: To become a ninja.

It is his dream to travel to Japan and spend a whole three weeks studying the lost art of the ninja. Apparently, three weeks is enough to learn an entire martial art.

Once he runs out of paid time off and sick days, he will return to America and integrate his ninja training into his regular life. Every day, he intends to sneak into his office in a different way and take me out with a sleeper hold, a roundhouse kick, or a nunchuk across the face. He will also keep me on-task by throwing ninja stars at me and screaming like a banshee, even though ninjas are really supposed to be quiet and sneaky. I wish him luck in pitting his three weeks of training against my several years of taekwondo experience.

After living the full life of a nine-to-five ninja and defeating the enormous threat that I am, he will retire from his current career and start a life as a sensei and train his own students from his extensive knowledge and experience. This school will be called the Brian Nelson Ninja School for Ninjas, and will feature a rigorous three week program for ordinary people who have been called to perform the noble task of tormenting their family, friends, and coworkers.

Luckily, I only have avoid getting taken out by my ninja boss for one more week. After that, he will have to journey to Vermillion, where a series of elaborate traps will await him. Then round two of our epic battle can begin.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Odyssey of the Mind or Journey to Insanity: A Tragic Comedy Begins

Perhaps one of the most defining eras in my life was the time spent in middle school. Friendships were forged, teachers were traumatized, and brain cells were destroyed. And for us, hilarity ensued, but I’m not sure our parents or teachers appreciated the humor.

Even before starting classes, I met the scourge of the Earth: Eric “C” Hanson. This travesty of a person simultaneously became both one of my best friends and my sworn enemy. We would later go on to become roommates, develop one of the most verbally abusive friendships I know of, and share many laughs along the way. But that will be a story for another day.

At the beginning of 6th grade, five elementary school friends, C, and I formed an Odyssey of the Mind team. The premise of Odyssey of the Mind was that teams would choose from a number of different scenarios/problems, then they would have to write and perform a short skit and design a set to fulfill the requirements of the problem. The scenario we chose was called “Over the Mountain.” Our skit had to consist of a journey to three countries, two real and one imaginary, collecting souvenirs along the way and we had to have a remote control car travel over a fake river and a mountain.

Now, this may sound like a fun and educational opportunity. However, keep in mind that this was a team of seven 6th grade boys. We may have been smart, but each of us had an attention span of about a tenth of a second, were prone to bouts of yelling and running about, and probably all had some sort of personality disorder. A team of crack-addled monkeys would have been equally productive. It is no surprise that the teacher advising us had noticeably greyer hair after three years of dealing with us.

I’m actually not even sure how our advisor and parents let us get away with the story we crafted. In retrospect, we probably should have been disqualified for our choice of first country to visit. Most people would choose some nice, cute European country. Not us. We chose to visit Iraq. Beginning a streak of comic political foreshadowing, the two characters we portrayed there were Saddam Hussein and a WMD scientist, and our set prominently featured a SCUD missile. But we did collect some delicious dates on the way.

The second country we visited was our imaginary one. We called it Apocalypsia, the land of utter destruction. Apocalypsia was sort of like hell, but with a friendly Satan who would sing a cute jingle for visitors and throw jolly little tea parties. Creating a place of chaos and destruction was our specialty, as we managed to do that every day unintentionally.

Finally, our journey would take us to England, which seems like a normal enough place. For whatever reason, however, we made a manatee puppet the king. How he became king, I cannot say, but I do know that he was abused in ways that a puppet never should be. No wonder they’re endangered.

Despite our blatant disregard for common decency and tact, the judges at the regional competition decided to award us second place Maybe they just had a good sense of humor. If only they knew that immediately before our performance, two of our team members were beating the crap out of each other, things might have turned out differently.

The adventure continues in 7th grade and 8th grade.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Yay Procrastination!!

Yup, I’ve started a blog. What about, you ask? Well, this blog will be a journey into the meandering thoughts and memories that I have. I will allow you to judge for yourself whether this journey is comical, horrific, or both. But just keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times, and you should be safe at least 50% of the time. Unless the ride derails…but I wouldn’t worry about that.

Hopefully, I can provide a brief rest from the craziness of the world. Why you would choose to spend that time with my insanity instead is a mystery to me, but I am glad you are here just the same.

Having just graduated college, I am quite familiar with the need to procrastinate. I can’t count how many hours I’ve spent online or playing video games when I should have been starting that paper that’s due in two hours, cleaning up the mystery spill under the futon, or investigating that smell coming from the room down the hall. Obviously, updating my Facebook status, saving the universe from aliens, and scoping the hotties at PeopleofWalmart.com are much more important activities.

After all of the benefits I have enjoyed from procrastination, I have decided to make it my quest to help others avoid productive, useful tasks at all costs. And the beauty of it is that I get to procrastinate as well by writing these posts, so everyone wins!

In the voyage ahead, I will tell the tales of my youth, including the origin story of this blog’s title. I will also share interesting conversations I have had and in-depth analyses of the most pressing issues of our day, possibly including topics such as bears, dinosaurs, and Twilight.

My next post will begin this trek by entering the realm of the “Dark Years,” AKA Middle School. This is a treacherous and tormented time in my life filled with unsavory characters and destruction at every turn.

Fasten your seat belts, kids.