Monday, September 27, 2010

I've got your strategery planning right HERE...

So just to let you know, I AM working on an entry about the only thing I hate about autumn, but like a genius I went and drew the illustrations on my parents' computer.  Which is at my parents' house.  Which is not where I am right now.  Boo-urns.  You shall simply have to wait for it.  Actually it may be a blessing in disguise as I feel like the entry was getting a little wordy and tangent-y.

Basically, right now I am in high-procrastination mode.  I have just completed the required textbook readings for my Wednesday night class and SHOULD be diligently reading the articles with my highlighter in hand, but instead I am on the internet.  This is not because I hate school or libraries or books. This is because I have an aversion to corporate/management jargon.

So far, we have endured the discussion on "leadership" and "team-building."  This week we are learning about "planning" in its many diabolically inane and banal incarnations.  It isn't that I don't think plans in general are useful.  I PLAN to brush my teeth before bed.  That sounds like a good plan to me!  I just get a little crazy at the fact that these chapters could effectively be summarized in two pages, but in order to create an entire textbook that can be sold to students for $40, the authors insert all sorts of ridiculous filler.

On a side note, have you ever noticed how words lose all meaning when you're reading something that is of no interest to you?  You're required to read it and know the content on some level, but you swear if you ever have to turn around and spout this nonsense to someone for your livelihood, you will run off and live among the Crab-people.

Whew!  Thanks for listening to my rant!  Just know that this is for a REQUIRED course in my graduate program and that I am not taking this by choice.  I do think that my professor is a lovely person who genuinely feels that the subject matter is worthwhile and wants us to engage with the discussions.  So what if most of the discussions devolve into people complaining about their own workplace/management horror stories?  We've all been there and done that.

Now that I have successfully procrastinated for about half an hour, I shall check Facebook one more time and then trudge back to complete my reading for the evening.  To help you understand my mood, I will leave you with a self-portrait illustration.  Please note that while I would love to spend the time drawing the details of my pajama t-shirt, it is just too busy of a design.  I shall verbally summarize it by saying that it contains a picture of a race car that is driven by some guy I have never met named Danny Bayer.  Hey, it was FREE!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Top of the Pop (Concerts)

Although I am not personally a fan of the TV show Glee, I am amused by the popularity.  I am fairly certain that most fans of the show will not claim that it honestly reminds them of past high school choir experiences nor will they state that it is realistic in any way, shape or form.  They simply find it entertaining the way that many people find musical theater entertaining.  Or World of Warcraft.  All of these things are for people playing pretend, but they're fun anyway.

All of this talk of "music" and "fun" has led me to contemplate my own choral experiences.  I am not going to lie, I honestly enjoyed being in choir most of the time.  My high school's top choir focused mainly on concert choir singing.  For the uninitiated, this is music that is designed for large, well balanced choirs and can be both accompanied and a Capella.

Unfortunately, once a year all choirs in the school had to participate in a debacle known as the "pop concert."  In this format, we were required to learn "modern" music and jazz it up with choreography.  For choirs that are specifically coordinated to do this kind of schmaltziness (a la Glee), this is not a problem.  For choirs that typically stand still in big formal robes and focus on sound instead of appearance, it was usually a bit of a hot mess.

For entertainment purposes, I shall now endeavor to offer illustrated highlights from my pop concert history, starting with 7th grade.

"International Harmony General Theme"

Any resemblances to actual people are purely coincidental.  :)

For my first ever pop concert, I really don't remember the overall theme.  What I DO remember was the main song.  It was a Michael W. Smith number called "Seed to Sow" that involved singing in some foreign (African) language.  The song itself wasn't bad, and I could probably sing most of it for you now.  What was memorable about the performance was the dress requirement.  Every single choir student was required to make (or have their mother make) a cape/poncho/drapery out of colorful fabric to wear over their t-shirt and jeans.  This was probably to symbolize some sort of colorful diversity idea, but I would definitely pay good money to see any video recording of this shenanigan again.  It had to have been extremely hilarious to my parents.


Grrrr.  If you know me well, you know that country is not and never has been a favorite of mine.  Fortunately, the year that we did a country theme, my choir directors kept things old school with what I suppose you would call "traditional" country songs.  The school even splurged this time and purchased cheap straw cowboy hats for all the little choir students.  Our choreography even included the hats with some fancy twirling movement that was guaranteed to look awkward and again provide our parents with comic relief.

9th Grade:  Generic Lame Music Medley

I have to say that I found our senior high school pop concerts to be a bit of a let down after the major production values of junior high.  I'm not sure if this was because the choir director's heart wasn't into it and he just felt like had to fulfill an obligation, or if dancing on risers really just is THAT ridiculous.

Either way, our 9th grade pop concert was entirely forgettable.  We did some medley of oldish 60's and 70's music.  I can remember a few of them (unfortunately), but the one that always gets stuck in my mind is this one:

You can see that the costume budget went way down in 9th grade as well.

10th Grade:  Last Minute Disney

My sophomore year pop concert is a bit of a blur for me.  This is mainly because I didn't have to learn any of the choreography or lyrics.  Why?  I was playing the piano through the entire thing.  I'm pretty sure I did a crappy job of it too.  What I do remember is that when the time came to start preparing for the pop concert, our director didn't seem to have any idea what he wanted us to do.  We happened to have a Disney medley that we had played around with before, so we decided to tune it up and wing it.  This is definitely a concert that I would pay NOT to have to see on video.

This is from an obscure Disney song.  We were not dealing with modern stuff here, to be sure.

11th Grade:  Great Expectations

My junior year in choir was definitely my favorite overall.  We had a large and talented group (largely thanks to the senior class) and I was always proud to perform.  With this much promise, I had high hopes that our director would choose a really good set of music for our pop concert that would showcase our vocal abilities and maybe let us have a little fun.

For some reason, my director opted to sift through the old and obscure 60's and 70's era music in our files and pulled out some bizarre and somewhat "blah" choices.  I think one was from the musical Godspell.  The other one which was supposed to be "upbeat" was one no one had ever heard of before.  The only good thing about this concert was that we got to dress up in authentic 60's and 70's garb.

I KNOW there is a picture of me in this outfit somewhere.  If I ever find it, I'll add it here.  My dress was SWEET.

12th Grade:  Finishing On a Lame Note

This was my final year of high school.  By this point, I had learned not to have any expectations for the pop concert, and therefore I can say that I was not disappointed.  We didn't even get cool clothes this time around - just monochrome t-shirts and jeans.  Although we did get to "lounge" on the risers for our song from the musical Rent so that we could appear more casual and slacker-like.

Now that I am looking at the evidence, it appears that my pop concert experiences may have had a downward trend.  If the peak occurred in 7th with the technicolored ponchos, I'm not sure I can identify much with the plot of Glee in any given episode.  We certainly never got to sing Journey songs.  Or Young MC.  Honestly, I do think that our concerts would have been a lot more entertaining if we could have used "Bust a Move" instead of "Zip-a-dee-doo-dah."

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Voulez-Vous Dîner Avec Moi Ce Soir?

I don't know how other people do it, but my friends and I have a pretty identifiable pattern when it comes to making plans of a set nature.  Years ago, when our schedules and lives were much more simple, the basic pattern emerged which has remained dominant in our current planning rituals even though we are now much more distant geographically and otherwise.

I am not sure what to call this pattern.  It is a bizarre combination of passive-aggressive and laziness.  Please note that I am not saying that any one of us is passive-aggressive or lazy, but when the group of us try to plan something as simple as a dinner meeting, it somehow brings out behaviors in everyone that trend towards these attributes.

Personally, I think we are all just so nice that no one wants to impose their will (or restaurant choice) on the whole group for fear of upsetting someone else.  Of all my friends, I think I have the reputation of being the bossiest.  I am sure my friends would "nice it up" by saying that I am more decisive or a leader-type.  Essentially this means that when it comes to making a definite call for the group, I'm usually the one who has to make the final choice and face the wrath or disappointment of anyone who secretly disagrees with me.  It's a risk we all have to take at some point.  So far I've emerged unscathed.

For illustrative purposes, I have decided to diagram out how this usually plays out.  Please note that any similarities to actual people in my drawings is purely coincidence.  I promise.

Everything begins with the person with the "big idea."  Here is how it starts:

After thinking about this for a while, the "big idea" happens:

Immediately, before they have a chance to forget about the "big idea," the initial email is composed to the whole group:

This email is sent and received with great excitement and anticipation:

At this point, the next step is clear to all.  Calendars are consulted, day planners are searched and everyone sends back their available dates for the next two months (it can take a long time to plan stuff with my friends).

After the excitement wears off and everyone has sent back their replies, the Inviter compiles the date information and comes up with a final date and time for the dinner meeting.  That is it.  Just a date and time.  Everything else is de facto "to be determined."

Depending on how far out this plan has been made, no more will be mentioned of it for a while.  Typically, everyone pretty much goes on as normal with their lives until...

At this point, someone realizes that while we definitely know when we are meeting, we have yet to determine WHERE we are meeting.  As this is actually a pretty important detail, another group email is sent to see if there are any requests or preferences among the attendees.  Without fail, the unanimous response to this inquiry is:

This is where someone (usually me) is forced into the bossy chair.  It is quite certain that everyone secretly has a preference or a sincere hankering for a specific food or type of restaurant, but trying to get them to admit to this will be like trying to convince my grandfather that he doesn't need to microwave his drinking water.  

As I have not been gifted with psychic powers, I will be forced to do the research.  Typically, this leads me to my preferred method of forcing the group to make the final decision without making them feel like they run the risk of angering the rest of the group with their choice.  I make them a short list.  

At this point, everyone is usually able to pick a place and feel safe about it.  The responses are tallied and thusly, a restaurant is chosen by the group (sort of).

Despite the fact that this process is almost always much much more time consuming than it needs to be, we always end up having a good time anyway.  Our dinners conclude by saying that we should do it again soon.  There was a time when we actually could do something like this once a month.  I'm not sure how long in between meetings we go nowadays, but it's longer than a month.  Either way, the end result is always fun and I guess the invitation cycle is all part of the excitement.

P.S.  This is the BIG entry I've been writing about for a few weeks now.  I'm sorry it took so long, but I am blaming the start of the new semester of school for my tardiness!!!  

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Moment for Reflection

I suppose that you could consider this entry to be a continuation of my previous entry for several reasons.  First, this entry centers around one of my brothers.  Second, it contains references to sports, so it is sure to have more appeal to male readers, if I ever have any.

This entry is a bit of a break from the normal for me as it carries a bit more emotional weight to it, but please don’t be put off by it.  I promise not to get too sappy.

For those of you who are casual readers and have not spent much (or any) time with me, you may not be aware that for almost 20 years of my life, I had two younger brothers.  In my mind, this is still true, but for those of you who demand that I be realistic, it isn’t.

Three years ago Sunday, my youngest brother (Matthew) passed away unexpectedly at age 19.  He was two weeks (exactly) from his 20th birthday and was a sophomore in college.  I could go into the sad and poignant details of that period of time for me and my family, but I would really rather focus on who my brother was and what made him so awesome. 

I could go on forever with stories and memories about Matthew, but for this entry I will restrain myself. 

One of the things that most people acquainted with Matthew would know is that he had wide knowledge of professional sports.  In my immediate family, this made him a bit of an anomaly.  My father has an understanding of professional teams, at least in MN, and at least knows how most sports are played.  My other brother, Michael (the WoW geek), has an even more faint awareness of this area.

Actually, it’s more than likely that I have a better working knowledge of sports than Michael, and that is not saying much.

Beyond my immediate family, this trend does not hold true.  My uncles and cousins (and even some of my aunts) follow professional and college sports with a great deal of interest, and my grandfather used to coach high school teams when he was in his prime.

I am not certain where Matthew’s keen interest in all things sports related originated, but he was quite young when it started.  Perhaps it was due to his excess of energy.  The boy literally bounced off the walls when he was a child. 

There were seven years of age difference between Matthew and myself, which meant that while I was a surly teenager, he was still an optimistic and bubbly child.  This difference was perfectly illustrated on Saturday mornings. 

Already the budding sportscaster, my brother would watch ESPN Sportscenter religiously.  Coupled with the fact that he was extremely intelligent and had excellent recall for facts, he often found himself overflowing with game statistics and scores.

As any former teenager can attest, sleep is a very important commodity when one is in high school.  It is not uncommon to find the need for more sleep manifested in the weekend ritual of “sleeping in.”  I frequently participated in this ritual myself (and sometimes still do). 

Unfortunately, while I was deep into the habit of sleeping until noon on Saturdays, my youngest brother had the inner alarm clock of a 70 year-old.  This meant that he was normally up and starting the day by at least 7 a.m.  As the older members of my household were not normally up that early, he had to find ways to entertain himself that didn’t involve breaking things or crashing around on the furniture.  This led him to ESPN. 

By the time he would finish catching up on all the previous day’s major sporting outcomes, he was full to the brim with new knowledge and was itching to repeat it ALL to someone who would listen.  

I believe that this is where my mother or father may have entered into the equation.  My parents did not entirely sympathize with my need to get obscene amounts of sleep on the weekend, and they had an arsenal of various methods to force me into the waking world.  I could probably write an entire blog entry about these, and maybe I will at some point.  They definitely scream for illustration.

For this particular situation, it went down as follows.  My brother would quietly come into my room where I was still sleeping (probably around 11 a.m.).  He would sit down on the end of my bed and without introduction would begin to recount a lengthy synopsis of what he just seen and heard on ESPN.  Believe me when I say that he was detailed.  Specific plays were outlined from baseball games, different injuries were described and playoff standings were updated.

I attended to most of his chatter in a half-awake stupor, which made me an ideal audience.  I was too groggy to interrupt and I was not mobile enough to walk away.  After his recital, he would usually stop and look at me to make sure I was starting to wake up.  I don’t think he ever tried to quiz me on his lectures, but I’m pretty sure he would ask me when I was planning to finally get up.  This was likely prompted by my parents, but I believe he was always a little mystified at how anyone could possibly sleep so long.

Over the years, his sports obsession played out in different ways.  While Michael was getting into the world of role-playing games, Matthew remained devoted to his sports-themed video games.  He was much more interested in playing sports, although his competitive nature made it a little difficult for us to play with him until he brought his tantrums under control.  J

My final anecdote in this entry is from a period of time several years later.  After college, I immediately entered the corporate working world.  One of the time-honored traditions of an office atmosphere, I learned, was the notion of the “office pool.”  This refers to any instance when coworkers each contribute money to a general “pool” after making their “picks” of winners for different competitive events.  Typically, the events are athletic in nature, although it has been known to extend to baby birth date predictions and American Idol winners.

In the U.S., one of the biggest events for the “office pool” scenario occurs in March for the NCAA Mens’ Basketball Tournament.  The common term for this phenomenon is “March Madness.” 

During my second year at the company, I decided to take the plunge and join the fun.  Unfortunately, I had not followed ANY college basketball at any point in my life.  I pondered several options.  I could simply randomly choose teams that sounded interesting or I could pick my favorite mascots.  In the end, I decided to consult an expert.

My brother was in high school at the time.  When I called home to speak with him, I expected him to quickly rattle off a list of team names.  It was a bit of a surprise to me that our conversation took much longer as he sat and mentally evaluated each potential match-up through the entire bracket.  He went through his process with me out loud, although I had no idea if he knew what he was saying.

After about 20 minutes of intense pondering, we had our list.  I was unaware at the time, but my brother was also in a pool with his friends and this was to be his official list as well.  To make this story short, we both won our respective pools that year.  My coworkers were seriously impressed, even after I admitted that I had some assistance. 

Every year thereafter, I made sure to track down my brother for help with all sports-related betting.  We never won again, but for the next five years, I listened on the phone as he carried on his decision process out loud to help me make more informed choices. 

Even though I no longer have any kind of expert advice, I continue to participate in the March Madness pool at work.  In the absence of any meaningful help, I have looked to the experts at ESPN for some guidance, and I usually finish in the middle or near the top of my group.  While this isn’t victory, I would like to think that something in Matthew’s process rubbed off on me along the way.

Thank you for letting me share a little bit about my brother with you today.  I prefer to spend the anniversaries of his death not in dwelling on the intensity of remembering that specific event.  My brother was a dynamic personality, and I infinitely prefer to remember him for who he actually was and how he influenced my life.  If you knew him yourself, you know what I mean, and if you were not fortunate enough to have the privilege, I hope that my short stories can give you a glimmer of what I miss so much every day.

I added this after initial publication.  It's a drawing I did to illustrate the college hairstyles of the children in my family, but it also shows the relative height difference between us as adults.  For scale purposes, please note that I am 5'9" and you can guess at the boys from there.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


OK, so I have recently discovered the "stats" feature of this blog, and it is super sweet.  Not only do I now have FOUR followers, but people in CHINA have viewed my blog!  I'm not sure if they are really reading it because I haven't had comments, but I am super excited about it.  In case you were wondering, none of my official followers is my mother!  However, they ARE all female.  Hm.

Maybe I need to jazz this thing up a bit for the guys.  I thought that the changes in my template and background to include some buffalo and bright explosions would draw in the Western/action crowd, but so far, not so much.

So... in order to cater to the potential male readers and/or followers out there, I will look to my closest male relative for assistance:  my brother, Michael.

He does not know that I am writing about him, although as soon as my mother reads this, I'm sure he will.  Rest assured, Mikey, I am not going to share one of your fine and shining moments of youth... right now.  Oh, just you wait.  I have two words for you:  Cotton Candy.  Hee hee...

Anyway, tonight I am going to tell you about something that my brother holds near and dear to his heart.  No, it is not his guitar or mandolin.  Nor is it his lovely girlfriend and her amazing dog, although he does indeed care greatly for all these things.  No, for this love we must look somewhere a little bit darker.  A little bit stranger.  A little bit nerdier.

If you met my brother for the first time, you would likely react as most people do and find him to be a very nice fellow.  He's rather tall, sometimes shaggy, but almost always good natured and extremely likable.  It is his good natured feature that assures me that I will not be severely punished for this entry I am writing.  :)

When young Mikey was a college student, he formed a strong bond with a small group of friends.  They're all pretty decent guys, and in the years since graduation, they've all enjoyed decent levels of success.  However, they all harbor a (sometimes) well-hidden secret.

Actually, I am pretty sure if you confronted most of these guys with the "secret" they would unashamedly own up to the truth.  However, it has been my experience that this association has always carried a bit of a stigma to it and I know for a fact that my brother has tried to keep his full interest in the "hobby" on the down-low from his lady love.

(Heidi, if you're reading this, now is the time to look away.)

In case you haven't already guessed it, my brother plays World of Warcraft.

If you have no idea what this means, good for you.  You are a normal person with normal hobbies likely do not spend much time at the computer (aside from the time you spend reading my blog).

For those of you who know EXACTLY what this means, welcome to the club.

In layman's terms, World of Warcraft (or WoW as it is sometimes known) is an online computer game that allows the user/player to create one or many characters (elves, dwarves, people, blood-elves, taurins, wizards, etc) that will live in the World (of Warcraft).  You can play with your friends and go on quests together.  You can meet new friends!  You can create outfits and buy accessories for your characters.

I am NOT going to go into any more detail about the game itself because it will just reveal that I know much more about it that I want to know.  I blame my brother for this entirely.  After staying with him for several stretches of time while he was in and just out of college, I was exposed to this fantasy freakiness far more than is healthy.  If you would like an excellent illustration of what this game looks like and what it can do to someone, I highly recommend the South Park episode, "Make Love, Not Warcraft."

I would like to take a brief moment to clarify that my brother is not one of the people who turns their life into the pursuit of WoW achievement.  He knows his limits (I think).  I know that he has even suspended his subscription for periods of time when he knows that he must focus on school or other real life endeavors.  BUT he still has active characters.

Anyway, although I have never nor do I ever have any intention of playing this game, I have had many hours of entertainment in mocking my brother while he plays, often at the expense of family time.  My parents are also frequent mockers as it annoys them that he pays money to play this game and that although he claims it is a social event (as he's online with his college buddies), he is not emotionally present for any conversation with people in the real world while he plays.

One of my favorite things to do is to narrate the story as he moves his main character, Chako, around the screen.  Sometimes Chako flies on dragons, but it's not as exciting as it sounds.  These dragons do not spit fire, nor to they do sweet turns and flips.  They pretty much just function as a flying bicycle.

Of all the weird things in the WoW, one of the best has to be the names given to the different towns and geographic locations.  In the game, they have names like "The Vale of Valor" and "The Road of Righteousness."  In my version, they have names like "The Ditch of Despair" and "The Swamp of Eternal Virginity."  My brother laughs at these names, but I suspect that he is actually quite irritated with me.

Well, it's getting late, and I need to get some sleep.  Hopefully my dreams will not be filled with dwarves chasing me with axes, but you never know.  If I didn't bore you all to tears with this entry or incite hatred in some true lovers of the game, I hope that at the very least I demonstrated that I can write something with interest to both genders.

If I did manage to seriously anger some WoW lovers, you should really stop and think for a minute.  By now you should have realized that many people in the real world are not going to understand your insatiable need to spend hours in an online alternate reality.  But do you really care?  As long as no one is threatening to take it away (like your mom, dad or spouse), you really should just be grateful for the fact that you a) can afford a computer with high speed internet, and b)have not developed carpal tunnel... yet.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Bad Hair Days

When faced with the soul-numbing task that is my weekly reading assignment for Management Class, I must find a release that brings me back to reality. I don't plan to wax poetic on the ridiculousness of too much management/leadership lingo, so don't worry.

However, if you were hoping for my much-hyped multi-picture blog that I've been working on for over a week, I must disappoint you yet again. Take heart, dear reader. I am tentatively planning to spend some time at MY home over the weekend, and in between study breaks I may be able to finally get the job done.

At some point in my day, I was reminded of a time in my life that perhaps is better left forgotten. Unfortunately, I've already delved into that era more than once already, so I really can't ignore it any more.

Yes, I am referring to that magical and idiotic time known as my freshman year of high school. As you should be well aware by now, I was a bit boy-crazy in that year. In addition to several other ridiculous schemes and antics that I engaged in (with my friends) as a response to these out-of-control hormones of puberty (that I shall likely relate to you later), I made a very odd and uncharacteristic choice to become a manager of the varsity track team.

First of all, let's back up and have an explanation. My very good friend, Liza, was a well-established distance runner on both the varsity cross-country and track teams by the time she was in 7th grade. By 9th grade, she was quite familiar with the practice patterns of both teams. She was also quite familiar with the roster.

It just so happened that a high percentage of our adored senior boys were on the track team in the spring of our freshman year. We were all quite jealous of Liza that she would be able to spend nearly every day after school in close proximity to these boys and possibly even (gasp) speaking to them.

I believe I have mentioned before that my friend Liza is very intelligent. In this case she was a genius. In what was probably both an attempt to spread the joy of hot guys in running shorts and a way to have her friends close-by to talk about said guys, she suggested that I, along with two of our friends, volunteer to be track team managers.

If I remember correctly, I had moments of doubt about my skills to manage anything. In addition, I knew next to nothing about what a track manager would do, and I pretty much knew next to nothing about what track and field events really were.

Despite our collective ignorance, we actually were able to pick up on our duties quite quickly and I would like to say (from my foggy memory) that we did an OK job overall.

Now that I have given you the back story, I have to come to the point of this entry: hair dye.

There was a girl on the track team who was a freshman, like us. She was new to the school as she had recently transferred from a smaller district nearby. I think her parents thought that a Willmar education would improve her chances for the Ivy League. On a completely unrelated note, she was transferred to a boarding school on the East Coast after sophomore year. So much for that plan.

To come to the point, this girl was a bit "spoiled" to put it mildly. She always had the newest and most fashionable things that her parents bought her from Minneapolis. Ooh la la indeed. One of these unique items that she brought to the school was real permanent color hair dye. I'm not talking about Loreal or Clairol. This was professional-grade, from a jar solid color dye in bright pink, green, red, orange, etc.

For the most part, these colors only appeared during spirit weeks such as Homecoming and Snow Week, when one day was fully devoted to "Weird Hair Day." She really took it to a new level with the permanence of her color as it stayed with her far beyond the end of the week (or month, for that matter). I was always a bit intrigued by her bravery, and although I often imagined what I would look like with purple hair, I never took the leap.

At the end of the track season, the team was preparing to go to the regional meet. There were several team members who were quite promising, and there was just a teeny tiny chance that they could advance to the state championships. We were all fired up and ready to go as we rode the bus into a high school that I cannot now remember.

Prior to this trip, the big point of discussion was that as a show of school spirit, various members of the team were going to let the hair-dye girl paint their hair red. (My school colors included this color as a main feature.)

Ever the prudent child, I asked the permission of my mother to participate in this plan. Not surprisingly, her answer was an emphatic "NO." My friend Liza took a different approach by simply not telling her mother anything about the plan and thereby avoiding the denial of permission.

I should add here that neither Liza nor myself intended to dye our entire head of hair. At most, we wanted to just add a small streak. We weren't that daring, after all.

However, once we got on the team bus to travel to the regional meet, my fear of motherly disapproval began to waver under the seemingly logical persuasion of peer pressure. As I watched my fellow track managers and Liza get their streak on, I made one of my only bold and defiant moves as a 15-year old and decided to defy my mother.

Although I decided to break the rules, I was not stupid enough to do so blatantly. With my hair in a ponytail, a small amount of hair always escaped at the back on my neck as the length was overall somewhat short. When my hair was down, this section of hair was completely hidden by the top layers. I decided to have this small amount dyed as it would stand the best chance of avoiding detection.

I spent the rest of the day feeling like a real rebel and trying to block out the fact that my mom was definitely going to find out and that I would likely have to face severe punishment.

The day passed in a blur, and I cannot even remember my initial arrival at home. I do remember the next morning. I was preparing to take a shower, but was somewhat unsure of the protocol for washing newly dyed hair. As I was pondering this problem, my mother happened to check in on me and discovered my disobedience.

Here is where the story gets a little weird. I had been expecting some anger and probably some punishment, but I actually think that my mom found it a little bit humorous. She told me to just get in and wash my hair. Strangely enough, it washed out almost completely, leaving me with a slightly pinkish tint to the bottom layer of my hair. Within a week it was completely gone, and oddly, I received no punishment.

Now that I look back at this event with older eyes, I can see why my mom did not react as forcefully as anticipated. First, I had not dyed my whole head. Second, I really did not ever get in trouble for anything, because I just didn't know how. Third, I had done it as part of a school-sponsored group event.

Really, how much more lame could I be?

Friday, September 10, 2010


Today I had to confront one of the hideous realities of being an adult: forgoing a pleasurable experience.

To clarify, I received a call from one of my good college friends a few weeks ago with a very appealing invitation. His parents were letting him use their timeshare condo in Florida, and he and another one of our friends were hoping to find a time to gather and vacation together before the end of the year. (If you've read my previous entry, these are the two gentlemen who were in possession of the N64 and Diddy Kong Racing.)

My initial reaction was total excitement. I love my friends, and the prospect of seeing them made me a little giddy. They live in the far reaches of the country, so it's somewhat difficult to arrange meetings. In fact, the one (and only) time we had all been together since graduation was my brother's funeral three years ago. I was eager to hang out with them in a more relaxed and happy setting.

After this initial euphoria wore off, reality set in (as it is wont to do). First and foremost, I knew that school was starting in a couple of weeks and even though I go to once-a-week evening courses, missing a class (even when planned) can be very difficult and stressful. Fortunately, the new syllabi were released around that time, so I was able to go through the calendar of assignments and determine if there were any weeks that looked lighter on the workload.

My preliminary examinations produced two weeks that had possibility. I quickly emailed my friends and awaited their reply. The response finally came that one of the weeks I had chosen was actually the only week one of the guys could go as he was hoping to attend a class in Orlando during that week. Unfortunately, I also learned that his wife and two kids would not be able to join us. This meant that for the daytime hours that he was in class, my other friend and I would be on our own. Not the most ideal situation, but better than nothing.

I remained optimistic about our plans, but did not purchase any plane tickets as I wanted to wait until the first week of classes were complete so that I could know for sure that the schedules were concrete and that I wouldn't have to take major grade hit to be absent.

In the meantime, my other friend sent out a message to inform us that his time at the condo would be limited due to the fact that his work schedule would not allow him to arrive at the beginning of the week. In essence, it was starting to sound like we would actually only have two full days together.

At this point, my first doubts started to surface. My adult brain started to come up with the really lame but entirely logical reasons not to proceed.

1. Money. While the cost of the condo would be minimal, airfare would not. Neither would Disney park entrance fees.

2. School. Call me crazy, but I've never been the kind of kid or adult that likes to miss class. I hate feeling like I've missed something important and I REALLY hate having to make up work or take an outright grade deduction simply because I was absent.

3. Work. While I certainly have the vacation and personal time to cover a short vacation, I was not keen to use up all of my available time in one fell swoop. It also could create some headaches for my manager.

All of these items combined to create a cloud of sadness and doubt to replace my previous excitement. Combined with the realization that I would in fact not be spending a whole week with my friends due to schedule restrictions pushed me much closer to my final decision.

Sometimes I have to wonder, when did I become so boring and responsible? I mean, theoretically, I should be able to pull something like this off without too much trouble. I am not married, have no kids, no pets and I love to travel.

While I have a heavy heart at the thought of disappointing my friends, I think that I am most disappointed in myself. I had to send out the message this morning to say that I'm not going, and I hope that my friends will be nice and understand. I'm sure that in a week or two I will feel better about my decision, especially once I'm embroiled in my rigorous school schedule, but for now I am extremely bummed.

Sorry to write such a boring and depressing entry, but my days are not always filled with strange pictures and funny stories. I will try very hard to make my next entry much more entertaining, I promise. For now, think happy Disney and sunshine thoughts for me and my stupid responsible adult brain.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

See you next FALL!!!

My original plan was to tide you over with my “Filler” entry and then make everyone wait until next week for my big special awesome entry. While I will still be releasing the super fantastic entry next week, I have decided to pull out some of my old drawings and tell a story of pain, fortitude and ridiculousness. All in one story!!!!

So here is an interesting fact about me. I am a little afraid to say it because it may jinx me, but I have broken a bone or suffered a major traumatic injury. There was the straw in the eye incident of 10th grade as well as several stomach related emergencies, but nothing that would really qualify as extreme.

Despite my lack of truly awe-inspiring trauma, I do have one story up my sleeve that ends in a trip to the emergency room, crutches and an awesome foot fashion accessory.

In my junior year of college, I lived in an upperclassman dormitory with my awesome roommate, Joy. We had the best room on the floor – it was spacious, had high ceilings and two huge windows that looked out onto the quad. The only downside was that our neighbors were a threesome of extremely loud ladies, but that is another story.

Although my undergraduate alma mater was and is a pretty conservative place, they did allow for an occasional “open floor” on select evenings when genders could intermingle in their dorm rooms. I am sure that a wide range of activities abounded for these special allowances, but my favorite by far was Diddy Kong Racing.

I suppose that I should clarify the previous statement. Diddy Kong Racing is a video game for the Nintendo N64 game system, and it is similar to Mario Kart. While Joy and I did not possess an N64, our good friends who lived on the floor above us did. The only obstacle to our unlimited enjoyment of this game was that our friends were male.

Anyway, one fine fall weekend, I found myself with an evening full of nothing. My roommate had plans with a club or some other friends to see a movie that I wasn’t interested in seeing. Luckily, it was open floor night, so I made my way up to my friends’ room to play some N64.

Unfortunately, my gaming friends also had plans later that night. I believe one had a date and the other had studying or work that took him out of the room. They allowed me to stay on my own as long as I wanted, but after several awkward drop-ins from other guys on the floor who were extremely confused as to why two guys would allow a non-girlfriend un-chaperoned access to their dorm room, I opted to return to my own domain.

For some reason, I had gone to their room bearing an armful of objects, mainly consisting of a coat and a bag. After closing up their room, I exited through the stairwell door that led directly back to my floor. It was a short walk; just two short flights of stairs to go. I could not have imagined that it would have been difficult to navigate, but sadly on this occasion I was wrong.

It started out just fine. I was carrying my armful of extra objects which partially blocked my vision of the ground, but I had been descending staircases for so many years without incident that I was perhaps a bit overconfident in my abilities.

As I neared the final step, my mind was already whirring with potential evening activities to do now that all my nearest and dearest friends had apparently deserted me. This momentary loss of focus may explain what happened next.

Instead of stepping down onto the final step of the staircase, I misjudged my location and stepped outward as if expecting to encounter the broader floor. You can imagine the result.

All of the items in my arms went flying upward and outward. I landed with a sickening CRUNCH on my foot and collapsed on the ground. As it was not likely a very graceful fall, I was happy that there were no witnesses. Not having any experience with serious injury, I assumed that I would be able to gather my items and resume my journey homeward with my dignity still intact.

As soon as I attempted to stand, I realized with an extremely painful reminder that this was not to be. Stubbornly, I attempted this a few more times before resigning myself to sit on the floor and evaluate my options. This was before the days of cell phones (at least for me) so I could not call anyone.

All of my friends were out having fun and wouldn’t be wondering where I was anytime soon, which made me feel even worse. I believe I even started to cry.

It was at this point that someone came down the stairs. I recognized him as an RA for the 4th floor. It was the duty of the RA’s to patrol the open floors on weekends to look out for trouble. While I was not closely acquainted with this particular RA, I figured he could recognize distress when he saw it.

For some reason, my tear-stained face and seated position must have caused panic in his male brain, because he looked at me and then walked past me and out the door. Now, I’m sure you’re wondering why I didn’t shout out to him to make him stop and help me. I wish I had a strong explanation.

All that I can say is that I was crying and embarrassed and was expecting at least a basic inquiry into my well-being. A simple “Are you OK?” would have sufficed. Nope.

After wallowing in my despair for a few more minutes, I realized that I would have to try a new approach. I therefore piled my carried items on my back and crawled the rest of the way to my room. In my harrowing journey of pain and shame, I encountered no one.

Once in my room, I pulled myself up onto my bed (mentally thanking myself for choosing not to loft it), reached for my phone and started calling. Not surprisingly, no one answered. I was left with no choice but to call my parents. Obviously they were two hours away and could be of very little assistance at 10 p.m. on a weekend night, but I needed someone to hear my plea and feel sorry for me.

Always the voices of reason, my parents suggested that I try to call the dorm director. I sniffed that I didn’t really want attention from anyone I didn’t know, I just wanted one of my friends or my roommate to come and take care of me.

Fortunately, I actually had more than three friends in college. After about half an hour of bed-ridden self-pity, I had a knock on the door. It was a guy friend coming to see if wanted any pizza. When he saw my predicament, he immediately sprang into action. Unbeknownst to me, my friend had some EMT training and was quickly able to assess my situation.

After testing my ankle, my rescuer determined that I should really get an x-ray. As neither he nor I had a car on campus at the time, he suggested that we hobble down to the RA lounge and find a responsible dorm officer to take me to the ER.

Upon our arrival at the RA lounge, I quickly spotted the male RA who had ignored me in the stairwell. He had the decency to look suitably regretful, especially after it was revealed that he had passed me by in my time of need. His excuse was that he had encountered another crying girl in the stairwell two floors up who was mourning her very recent break-up. He had made the mistake of asking her what was wrong with disastrous results. When he found me in a very similar state, he decided not to make that mistake again.

Eventually, one of the RA’s was chosen to drive and we departed for a six hour experience with the local ER. In the end, it was determined that I had a sprained ligament and would need to wear a special blue Velcro shoe and use crutches as needed for at least two weeks.

After two days of attempting to limp around campus, I decided that I was not up to the task and ditched my medical accessories. In time, my foot healed. When my friends learned of the consequences of their failure to pay attention to me, they became slightly more responsive to their cell phones. I played up the guilt-trip as much as I could, but in the end, I didn’t really suffer any long term problems, aside from the damage to my ego.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


I've been a little busy lately with school starting tonight and other weekend festivities. However, I would like to let you all know that I am in the process of working on a big entry that will definitely have pictures. It probably won't be complete for another week or so, and for that I apologize.

In the meantime, here are some random and/or partially finished drawings from my moments of brainstorming...

No idea.

I don't know. Some days I would kill for a Diet Coke.

This was maybe going to be in my mouse infestation blog, but I didn't like it enough.

This is a real life story, yo.

My attempt to draw Pippi running like a maniac.

This is the plant that we have at work. He is growing by leaps and bounds!!!

Please pardon my blatant attempt to copy my favorite postcard. I was practicing my drawing skills...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Infestation: Part 3

Well, here we are at the third and (hopefully) final installment of the Infestation series. I hope that you have found my stories thus far to be entertaining and perhaps a tad educational. A lot of what I know in a practical sense I have gained through blind experience, which I imagine is pretty common. However, if you have not had the joy of destroying a wasp nest or battling the oncoming ant horde, perhaps these stories will give you some assistance in the future.

First of all, today’s story does not concern insects, spiders or anything slimy. From that information, you can perhaps guess where this is going, but instead of just stating the obvious, I’m going to build up a little anticipation.

Two years ago in November, I woke up one morning and went through my normal workday preparations. I have a tendency to move slowly in the morning, which leads to my final moments in the house being rather rushed as I strive to be on the road at a decent time to allow for morning rush hour backups.

On this particular morning, I was running behind and looking for my glasses. I was having a difficult time of it and in my searching, I happened to stop over at the vanity dresser in my bedroom to scan the contents of the counter. In the corner of the crowded surface, my eyes slid over a small yet strange item.

To elaborate, one month prior, my best friend and her then fiancé had partaken in a Disney Cruise on the Caribbean Sea. As she is a very generous friend, she made sure to bring me back some nice souvenirs: a bracelet, some lotions from the ship’s spa, and a small piece of chocolate in a gold wrapper.

While I was grateful to receive these items, I had yet to relocate them from my dresser countertop after bringing them home. It was one of these items that caught my eye that morning. Can you guess what it was? Probably not, so I’ll tell you.

As I searched for my glasses, I noticed the gold paper of the chocolate square sitting alone in the corner. This would not have struck me as odd, except that there appeared to be a small bite mark taken out of one corner. It looked as if someone (or something) had simply chomped right through the wrapper to consume a small part of my chocolate.

I was puzzled momentarily. I could not recall doing this myself, and I knew that I would not have bitten right through the wrapper. I tried to remember if I had left it in the presence of my parent’s dog, but then I realized that she would not have left such a dainty bite mark. She would have chewed and swallowed it whole.

As my brain worked through this mystery, I happened to notice some debris next to the ravaged candy. It appeared that there were tiny pieces of gold paper scattered about along with some black/grey objects. About two seconds later, my brain clicked over and I knew what it was: a mouse.

To clarify, I am not afraid of mice. They do not disgust me and I would not run from one if I saw it in public. However, the thought of one mouse (and possibly its family) running around my house and destroying my food supply was so shocking that I nearly passed out.

Before I could truly start to hyperventilate, I looked at my watch and realized that I would not have time to properly address this problem immediately. I turned on my heel and took off for work.

When I arrived in the office, I immediately consulted my brain trust of several different people to find out how to handle this unforeseen calamity. I was surprised to find that most people were quite nonchalant about the problem. In fact, most people I spoke to had quite a bit of experience in the area. I had briefly wondered if I should be embarrassed about the presence of mice as a reflection on my abilities as a housekeeper, but apparently it was not.

It is common (so I have been told) for mice to try and find their way indoors when the outdoor temperature begins to drop in the fall and early winter. They could get in through a variety of means, but the most common way to address the problem was by laying traps.

There are many different opinions on the spectrum of mousetraps. Some prefer the more humane “no kill” method and some get downright nasty. I spent some time on the internet researching my options and after reading reviews and speaking with my coworkers, I decided to go with a more traditional mousetrap: the spring-loaded kind with bait.

I made it through most of the morning at work, but I was so agitated about the thought of hundreds of mice destroying my kitchen that I was given permission to take personal time to purchase traps and go home to tear apart and sanitize my house.

In my rush, I decided to go to the closest local hardware store and conferred with the elderly man on staff as to the most efficient models. He recommended the plastic covered traps and said that peanut butter worked as very effective bait.

Armed with my six new traps, I drove home and set to work pulling apart my entire house to look for mouse droppings. For about four hours, I cleaned, vacuumed and scrutinized every piece of dust or debris, but I didn’t find much. There was absolutely nothing else in my bedroom, which probably shouldn’t have been surprising as the chocolate was the lone piece of food on my second floor.

In my kitchen, the only thing I found were some droppings behind my microwave, so I promptly sanitized along with every other surface. I was just getting ready to start pulling apart my living room when I decided to take a quick bathroom break.

Now, I have to pause for a moment and explain some logistics. My house has one full bathroom on the second floor that I use the most. There is a half bath on the first floor, but I don’t use it much and if I don’t have guests over, no one really goes in there. I do have to check on the toilet from time to time in order to make sure that the water level is OK and to do a regular cleaning. If I don’t, the water level drops and a grayish dusty film forms on the top. Gross, I know, but it’s important that you know this.

Back to the scene of battle. As I approached the bathroom, my brain registered that there appeared to be a grey film in the toilet, and I mentally calculated the last time I had been in there to clean. Once I got close enough to bring the toilet into better focus, I quickly realized that I was wrong. There was not dust in my toilet bowl. Can you guess what I saw? Probably.

I will tell you anyway. It was a mouse. Floating. Dead. In my toilet. In retrospect, I now wish that I had been able to get over my shock enough to take a picture, because it was really quite amazing. The mouse was perfectly suspended upright in the water looking as if he were about to pounce. Beneath him (at the bottom of the toilet bowl) were some small droppings. It was almost as if he had purposely tried to be polite.

After my initial shock wore off, I started to ponder my options. I was pretty sure that it wouldn’t be acceptable to leave him there, but extraction would be an issue. I did have a pair of kitchen gloves, but I wasn’t sure if disposal of an item of this nature would require biohazard suits and masks.

When in doubt, I usually consult my mother. After I relayed my bizarre discovery, I asked her for advice as to how to proceed. She instructed me to flush it. My reaction to this statement was initially to doubt it. I use the flushing disposal method for much smaller items such as spiders, ticks, beetles, etc.

When I relayed this thought to my mother, she responded with a very simple question: “Is it bigger or smaller than a poop?” This may seem like a vulgar question, but given the fact that we were already working with a toilet, it made sense. Once I concluded that it definitely would fall under average size for fecal matter, I bit the bullet and flushed the toilet.

To my surprise, the suggestion worked. The system didn’t back up and my mouse problem was instantly gone. Of course, I flushed several more times just to be sure.

Even though I suspected that the toilet mouse was the lone culprit in my mouse escapade, I still baited and laid all of my traps around the house. Thankfully, they were not tested any more that year and I found no more evidence of a mousy presence except for the shredded remains of my cork wine stopper. As this discovery was made around the same time as my chocolate discovery, I chalked it up to the same mouse.

All of my traps remain in place to this day, and most of the time, I forget that they are there and what purpose they serve. Unfortunately, this past winter I received another reminder of why they may be necessary. The trap that I put in the little bathroom (the sight of the previous mouse disposal) was set off. I won’t go into too much detail, but let’s just say that these traps are indeed quite effective.

With the conclusion of this entry, I think that I have now publicly explained the extent of my home protection knowledge. I can replace smoke detectors and get rid of ants, wasps and mice. There might be one or two other things such as replacing furnace filters and replenishing softener salt, but those aren’t too heroic.

On a side note, I would like to apologize for not adding pictures for this entry. I seriously considered it, but aside from an attempt to draw a mouse in a toilet, I couldn’t come up with any truly humorous and easily represented illustrations. Honestly, it was one of those episodes where I really kick myself now for not being a bit more camera-happy.

To all my friends who are seeking a reason to laugh, I hope this helped a little. I know how important it is to be able to laugh even while you are crying, and I hope that my stories can be at least a small source of that laughter.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Infestation: Part 2

As promised, I have returned once more to continue my tales of infestation in the Heartland. Tonight’s story is perhaps told in a simple narrative style as I really can’t think of any great way to introduce or build up to it.

Long ago, or sometime last autumn, I returned home from work in my usual manner. After a long day in the office and what was likely an uneventful but mind-numbing commute, I pulled my car into my garage. As is my custom, before closing the garage door and entering my house, I took a little stroll back out to my communal mailbox to check the day’s correspondence.

As I sauntered back to the house pondering the magic of the autumn skies, I thought about important things, such as what to have for dinner or if 8:30 was too early to go to bed. Normally, I do not pay much attention to the outside of my house aside from checking to see if my chairs are still in place and if some door-to-door annoyance has left a flyer attached to my door.

On this particular day, I did not note any of the usual disturbances. As I approached the entrance to the garage, a slight incongruence in the corner of my eye caught my attention. The strange and new anomaly was a small brown object that was the color of a paper grocery bag and was attached to the top of the outer frame of my garage door.

It should have been obvious to me immediately what this strange brown ball was, but I had to take a closer look. After taking two steps closer to the object, I quickly realized that it was not just a clump of dirt or some cute little bird’s nest; it was a nest of wasps.

I firmly believe that a fear or distrust of insects with stingers that are prone to angry attacks cannot be irrational. My reaction to my realization that I was sharing a living space with such creatures can therefore not be called overdramatic. I threw myself against the farthest wall of my garage from the nest and carefully crept my way to the garage door button to seal out these new houseguests.

(Please note: the walls of my garage are not teal, but now that I’ve used it, I realize that it might not be a bad idea.)

Once safely in the house, I sat down to consider my course of action. As I hadn’t seen any actual wasps on the nest, I thought that perhaps it was abandoned. It was still quite small, and I figured at most it could only contain one or two wasps so far. I vowed that I would simply knock it down with my snow shovel before leaving for work in the morning.

When the next morning came, I slowly approached the nest. On this visit, I was surprised to see three wasps crawling in and around the nest. I quickly abandoned my snow shovel attack as I felt it would be a poor defense against the insects should they target me for the destruction of their new home.

I went to work and promptly forgot about the wasps. If you have learned anything about me from my smoke detector story, you can possibly predict how the next couple of weeks went. I attempted to use avoidance and ignorance to solve my problem.

The event that pulled me out of my non-confrontational shame spiral was actually pretty simple. I came home from work one day to see a small child riding a tricycle down my street with its mother. She waved to me, and in a burst of uncharacteristic friendliness, I waved back. As I turned to walk back into my garage, I happened to notice that my wasp nest was getting bigger.

Faced with the possibility of a growing wasp problem and the potential threat to the children of my neighborhood, I decided that something needed to be done. I went inside to investigate my options. Obviously, the nest was not enormous, so calling an exterminator seemed to be unnecessary. Thankfully, I did vaguely recall that my father had dealt with wasp nests at some point in the past, so I called him to confer. He confirmed my memory and informed me that I could purchase wasp poison spray at any local hardware or home improvement store.

A few days later, I gathered my courage and put on my best “I look like I belong here in this do-it-yourself home improvement behemoth store” outfit. I drove the half mile from my house, parked my car, took a deep breath and went in. (To clarify, these giant house supply stores overwhelm me; they always make me feel lost and stupid.)

After half an hour of wandering and trying to look like I knew EXACTLY what I was doing, I stumbled upon the pesticide section. I performed a brief price comparison and bought the one that looked the meanest.

Once I arrived at home with my wasp spray, I sat down to read the directions. They were surprisingly long and quite specific. The first thing that surprised me was that they recommended that the extermination procedure be done either just after sunset or just before sunrise as this is when the wasps would be home and at their least active.

Other than the suggestion to stand at least 10 feet away and spray CONTINUALLY until the entire bottle was empty, the directions also indicated that it would be wise to dress carefully. In other words, cover up completely, because if the wasps wake up, they are going to swarm you. Apparently, they tend to aim for the head of their assailant.

All of this information made me nervous and a little frightened. Rather than take on the operation that night, I decided to consult my coworkers the next day to see if anyone had any other advice or insight. It turns out that I was wise to do this because apparently destroying a wasp nest is serious business and a lot of people have had to do it.

Every warning on the spray bottle was confirmed, and the consensus of my panel was that evening or dusk was the best time to attack. That night, I returned home and waited for sunset. I went online to check the official time of sun down, and learned that it was to be 8:30 p.m.

At 8:15, I went to my bedroom and prepared for battle. Even though it was fall, the outside temperature in the evening had yet to drop to cooler temperatures, so most people were still wearing light clothing. I would not be able to do so. I put on long jeans, a t-shirt, a hooded sweatshirt, thick socks and boots. I pulled out a scarf and hat, but ultimately decided to wear my big hooded winter coat instead. I did keep my mittens as I sadly do not own any work gloves or choppers.

Last but not least, the final yet most important piece of my armor: my safety goggles. In college chemistry, I was required to purchase a pair of super-sexy safety goggles, and they have come in handy quite a bit in the past ten years.

This time, I did remember to take a picture.

Fortified in full battle regalia, I ventured forth into the now dark evening. I measured out approximately 10 feet, read the instructions one more time, and commenced the spraying.

I have to say, after all the build-up, I was expecting a little more drama from the wasps. In the end, all that happened was that the nest was fully soaked with spray and there were three dead wasps on the ground beneath. No wasps even flew out of the nest. My protective clothing was never put to any real test.

According to the instructions on the spray, I was not to attempt any further contact with the wasps that night, but in the morning, I could knock the nest down and smash it. This was in case any of the wasps had been away from home during the attack. If they came back during the night, the poison would still be viable and would finish them all off.

In the morning light, I approached the dormant nest with my snow shovel and knocked it down. Using the flat side of the shovel, I smashed the nest to smithereens and swept all the mashed up debris into the grass.

In retrospect, I believe that this episode is one of my greatest success stories in life. Especially when you ignore the fact that it took me almost a month after discovering the problem until I actually solved it. But overall, the net result is that I was 100% effective at eliminating my wasp infestation, and I did it all through my own physical force (with the help of a store-purchased poison spray and some safety goggles).