Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Fool-proof tips to win friends and swim fast

My commutes for work run from between 45 minutes to an hour long, depending on traffic and such.

Typically, I either sing along to music, listen to NPR or start thinking really deeply about my life.

The last one of those options is usually not very fun. But, hey, you gotta fill that time somehow, and I sure as hell can't sleep it away.

Occasionally, I'll think about inconsequential things. Such was the case the other night.

My sister, Kristie, is on the Temple University club swim team and will be going to Nationals this weekend.

While in the car the other night, I thought, "I better text her before she leaves to wish her good luck."

Then, I thought, "I can do better than that."

So, as follows, my fool-proof, secret tips for swimming really fast. And proof that my commute is a little too long.

- Begin drinking copious amounts of water. Water in front of you creates a great amount of drag. Have you considered drinking that water as it comes at you? It'll (most certainly) reduce drag and create a little wave effect pulling you forward. You'll be like a human jet engine.

You're gonna really have to expand your stomach, though, in preparation. Try drinking something heavy, like hot chocolate that's more in its Hershey bar state than the hot drink state. Water will seem easy after that.

- Genetically splice yourself with a frog.
Frogs swim fast, right? It's never too late to gain a little genetic edge. There's nothing in the rules against it.

I'm not exactly sure how you go about altering your DNA with a ribbet-maker, but I'm gonna prescribe rubbing it all up under your tongue once at night, once in the morning, and 20 to 30 times when you're drunk.

You may be asking, "Why not splice with a fish?" To that I say, "GET OUT OF HERE WITH THAT SHIT. THIS AIN'T NO GAME."

- Secretly coat opposing swimmers in drag-inducing substances.
It's all about drag. So you gotta add some to those around you.

You'll need to use something they won't notice and won't easily come off. The perfect combination of that is, of course, glitter. Grab a handful, distract them by pointing out that weirdo putting a frog in their mouth, then hhhgghhghoooo (that's the phonetic spelling of blowing a handful of something) and *bam* they got drag all in their business.

- Pre-soak yourself Before you hit the water, you want yourself already soaked to dull the shock of the transition from dry to wet. Pour out a few buckets of water on yourself.

Get those hard-to-reach places by crying, pissing yourself, and having friends spit on you.

- Rage swimYou need to want to beat everyone else in the pool. Although frog genetics are not against the rules, killing your opponents is. Them's the rules since, like, 50 B.C.

But anger can be channeled into taking, I am not exaggerating, minutes off your time in the 50 meter freestyle. So get your anger on.
Know who ate the last of those cookies you wanted? Other than Dad? That bitch in lane 2. Who made (our sister) Kaitie's dog have to sit on your chest every time you take a nap? The hooker in the yellow cap.
Good luck and use any and every tip I've given you.

Monday, April 15, 2013


My sisters and I recently went to the Titanic exhibit at the Franklin Institute.

At the end, there's a wall of lists with all the survivors and those who perished in the different classes. Later in the exhibit was a plaque talking about a mother who was constantly checking the newspapers to see if her son's name would be listed among the survivors.

I told my sisters, "That never happens anymore."

Tonight, now that we know three people have died as a result of the explosions at the Boston Marathon, I've just wrapped up updating a list of locals who were registered to run the race. Especially in the direct aftermath, it was difficult to get through and check if everyone was alright.

Through Google's people finder service or information posted on our Facebook page, I've slowly been able to add a "#" symbol beside names of those who have checked in with family or friends.

I interviewed a man who ran the race to try and get his account over the phone. He said he'd gotten 20 texts "over two minutes" after the explosion to see if he was all right.

"We can Tweet out that you're okay," I told him on an impulse. "If you want, we can do that to let anybody know who hasn't reached you yet."

"That'd be great," he replied. "Yeah, go ahead and do that."

Officially, the Titanic sank 101 years ago on April 15.

And, again, we're listing survivors' names in the paper.

How does this happen?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Phishing for Love.

I want to take a break from the past few serious posts.

So I drew inspiration from one of the many inane lists I keep around the office.

For whatever reason, I enjoy passing the time between writing and running on spot news in the office by compiling lists of stupid things that I notice during my job.

One of those lists is all the different hold music for different organizations I've heard in the area.

For example, when I called the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, their hold music was a children's xylophone version of "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" by Mozart.

The latest list I've come up with stems from the fact that I've been left out of the company's email quarantine program. As a result, I get any and every robo-email sent my way. Some inquire whether I want to sell steel to Mr (insert unpronouncable name) of (unpronouncable company, faraway land that doesn't quite match the name or the company), while others follow the standard Nigerian prince model.

Ever since I covered a bridal expo in Pottstown I've gotten offers from a mail-order bride service in Eastern Europe somewhere about once every two weeks.

But my latest list concerns the endless spam (and probably malware-ridden) offers of medicinal or herbal or technique-based ways to sex people up.

Receiving offers for that kind of stuff is nothing new in the world of spam. What entertains me and what I keep in a list at my desk is the subject lines of these emails. Obviously composed in Google translate, they combine the finest mistranslations of sensuality and Mad Men-esque pitching.

Here they are, in all their glory, with some of my initial reactions to them. 

- "Give your wife better nights of love."

- "Give to your girl happiness."
No BS, they are really leaving the gay market untapped.

- "Attack her for days."
I literally, out loud, said "Ah!" in terror at this one.

- "Don't bury your loving life."
This one could go two ways. It could be about not giving up on your sex life. Or someone is genuinely trying to keep you from burying your wife alive but needs to learn that spell check doesn't solve all problems.

- "Unbelieveable recharging on male healthiness."
According to these emails, constant banging cures any and every ailment...which I subscribe to whole-heartedly.

- "Feel the bottomless enjoyment tonight."
This was another yelp in terror moment.

- "Enlarge your gun."
Believe it or not, for a second, I wondered if this was actually related to trading in for an upgrade on your firearm, like how you get a refresh with your phone plan periodically. You know.

- "No pauses this night."

- "Keep your lady gentrified."
This might be my favorite.

- "I desire you to stay vigorous."
So do I.

- "How differ your nights from each over?"
This one feels less like a Google translate problem and more of someone unable to hide their Cockney accent even in print.

Suddenly, these emails have gone from an annoyance for which I have to mash the "Delete" key to a daily competition for the best.

Really, I'm just turning lemons into lemonade that tries to steal my money by promising me sex with broken English.