I am fat, my blog is famous, and other things you probably don’t want to read (1 of the 3 things in the title is false)

I am so cool that they have to spell it “kool” when referring to me…

I think that everyone who starts a blog secretly dreams that it will become popular enough to be linked to by a big, popular website that will drive a ton of new people to your site, resulting in a huge boost in your popularity… well, that time has arrived for me. Most of you are probably already familiar with www.ashandrob.com since you check it 5-6 times a day to keep up on all the news and celebrity gossip on the site. Well between all the election coverage and recent Britney Spears drama you may have missed that my little blog recently became a featured link in their “News & Links” section. Since then, the action on my site has been white hot and I figure it is just a matter of time before I become a syndicated blogger for the New York Times… don’t worry, I’ll remember you all – my early readers – when I become a filthy rich pop culture icon.

Now onto my fatness…

Most of you may recall from the Discovery Health Channel special “The Guy Who Makes the 800-pound Man Look Emaciated” that I am morbidly obese. Well guess what happens when a tub-o-lard like myself goes for a walk with his wife and Dog and slips on some ice. Do you think:

a) Melts the ice with his body fat, resulting in a huge, wet mess

b) Bounces off the ground and lands back on his feet (surprisingly nimbly for a 1,600 lb. man)

c) Falls awkwardly while putting all his weight on his left leg, has his left ankle completely buckle and pop under his body weight, then has to hobble back about a half mile to his car over uneven terrain while trying not to pass out from the pain, then gets home and pisses off his wife by telling her she has to shovel the snow off the driveway because he can’t walk… so she retaliates afterwards by watching TV shows that he hates so that he has to leave the room instead of relaxing with his foot elevated like he should be doing and even though she’s a doctor and knows that he should be resting she refuses to stop watching the show because she’s still fuming about the whole snow shoveling situation (but seriously, if you let the snow sit there it will freeze and then the driveway is a HUGE mess… plus the plow left a big mound of snow at the end of our driveway that would have iced over and totally ruined the car when you tried to drive over it… I don’t feel bad about this)

If you guessed “c” then you are correct! Don’t worry though, after initially swelling so much that it looked like a tennis ball had attached itself to my ankle things have gotten much better and I can hobble around well enough that I am no longer deathly afraid that I would be unable to escape the house in the event of a fire.

If you don’t enjoy reading things you don’t care about, then stop now…

A few quick points of interest that I may or may not elaborate on in future blogs:

  1. Despite Becky’s hatred for snow shoveling, she is good at gift giving… for Christmas and my birthday respectively she got me Super Mario Galaxy and Super Paper Mario for the Wii. Both games are amazing!!! (And, yes, if you are wondering I DID also get a nose hair trimmer for my birthday)
  2. I f***ing HATE Matt Barone!
  3. After using the same crappy computer for about 6 years I finally broke down and got a new one (Dell Inspiron 530s) – what a great upgrade! In addition to the joy of using a computer that doesn’t freeze or display the “blue screen of death” every 5 minutes, I had a chance to: organize our electronic files (fun, fun, fun!), get some new software (Firefox and Pidgin are GREAT!), and straighten up all the cords under my desk (OCD!!!).
  4. Anyone who honestly believes that Braveheart could beat Gladiator in a fight (swords and/or hand-to-hand combat only) is delusional and should probably be committed.
  5. Yes, I AM hosting a Super Bowl party. Yes, there will be chili and buffalo chicken dip. No, I most certainly will NOT be rooting for the Patriots.
  6. Facebook is lame, and people who live their lives communicating through Facebook need help; however, if there is a more addicting time-waster than Scrabulous (online Scrabble you play with a friend) then I haven’t encountered it yet. If you like Scrabble then open a Facebook account, download the Scrabulous add-on, and challenge me to a game.
  7. I have decided to endorse Bob Dole as the 1996 Republican nominee for president.

And finally, a bonus story…

Remember those crazy neighbors from a few posts back? Well, they set fire to their home, the house was subsequently condemned, and they haven’t been seen (by us) since. No, I’m not kidding.



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    Everyone Loves Christmas Sweaters

    Just before Christmas a group of us here in Maine got together for your typical Christmas party, but with a bit of a twist: our party was to be centered on the exchange of Christmas sweaters.  How did this come about?  During last year’s Christmas party the subject of garish, tacky, ugly, over-the-top Christmas sweaters came up… in our drunken excitement my sometime-friend Kathryn and I took this idea to a whole new level and vowed to make each other Christmas sweaters for the 2007 holidays.   Much to Becky’s dismay, this pledge was not forgotten as the effects of alcohol wore off and time went by – in fact, our resolve to create the funniest/ugliest Christmas sweaters known to man was strengthened over time.   Over the course of the year, others slowly warmed to the idea of hideous Christmas sweater creation, and a small board of advisers determined that we should do a sweater exchange in the spirit of a “secret Santa” gift exchange this year.
    Now, what exactly did the “sweater construction” consist of?  There were no rules for the exchange except to make the sweaters ridiculous and make them CHEAP!!!   We’re talking bargain-basement sweaters from K-Mart/Target/Wal-Mart/Goodwill/Marshall’s/Your Grandma’s closet/ www.uglycheapsweaters.com.    Once we got the sweaters, we were to decorate them with whatever we could find: glue, puff paint, fluffy stuff, bedazzlers, iron-on decals, yarn, small stones, cereal, assorted wheelchair parts… nothing was off limits.  How did it turn out?  Well, you be the judge…

    Bex and JT wearing Christmas Cheer!!! (Becky’s sweater was made with reflective tape so we couldn’t use the flash!!!)

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    Filed under General Life Update, I think this is pretty damn funny!

    Happy Happy Snow Day!

    So the snow has officially arrived here in Portland, transforming the city into a beautiful winter wonderland.  For our part we’ve bought a tree, taken down the boxes of decorations from the attic, and done our best to turn our little home into a cozy, Christmas-themed haven.  We’re counting down to our second-annual Christmas Party on December 14th which will feature our first ever Christmas sweater exchange (more to come on that after the party).  In the meantime please enjoy a few pictures along with the returned relevance of the Minnesota Vikings.  Also, please keep my fantasy football team in your thoughts and prayers – our league playoffs begin this weekend and my team needs all the help it can get!!!

    Dickens Loves Snow
    Although it doesn’t look like it from this picture, Dickens actually loves the snow…

     Dickens the Reindeer
    Note how dull and boring our tree looks with white lights (Becky’s idea)… wouldn’t colored lights look so much better?

    Our stockings were hung by the band-new 37″ LCD HDTV with care…


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    Why you can never trust polls

    Today I received a survey in the mail from the “National Republican Congressional Committee” asking 12 questions about the day’s important political issues.  Always willing to make my political opinions known I took a look through the survey thinking that I’d fill it out and have my voice heard.  Now, anyone with half a brain knows that when designing a survey you want to write questions that are as “neutral” as possible… for example, if you want to report in the news how people feel about the war in Iraq you could do so by asking “Do you agree with the decision to send U.S. Troops to Iraq?” Or, if you wanted to skew the results of your poll you might ask “Are you in favor of facist President Bush’s decision to send young, uneducated men and women to Iraq to be senselessly slaughtered just so that W’s friends in the oil industry can buy cheaper crude oil?”  Either way your headline will be “XX% of people against war in Iraq,” but the way you ask the question can get you totally different answers.

    So, I looked at this Republican survey and had to laugh at some of the invalid, leading questions that these people are asking. 

    • “Do you support the Democrats’ ‘slow-bleed’ strategy to ‘choke-off’ funding for our troops in Iraq leading to their withdrawl and a perception of American defeat?”
      • Yeah… this isn’t leading at all.  And who is going to admit that they want to support a “perception of American defeat?”
    • “Do voters in Maine’s 1st district agree with the Nancy Pelosi Democrat Majority’s decision to impose massive tax hikes on the American people?”
      • First off, am I really qualified to tell you what the entire 1st district agrees with?  Second, have there been any massive tax hikes imposed since the Democrats took over Congress?  I don’t recall any…
    • “Do you support Democrat’s efforts to give federal government bureaucrats complete control of your health care costs and choices?”
      • I’m no fan of socialized medicine, but “giving federal bureaucrats complete control” seems to be overstating the issue a bit.  Also, the last time I checked Congress makes the laws in this country… so wouldn’t they, our elected representatives, be making any choices assuming all health care were government run. 
    • “Should the Democrats’ proposal to not just legalize, but to madate cannibalism be voted into law?”
      • This wasn’t a real question, but I wouldn’t put it past them in their next survey.

    Be careful what you believe, especially when it comes to poll data.

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    Good Fences Make Good Neighbors…

    In my case, a fence just isn’t enough.  Unfortunately, beautiful Chateau Hall shares a border with a complex, secret psychological experiment designed to observe the day-to-day life of really stupid and annoying people in a family setting.  Now, perhaps I’m just a bit more tuned into their dysfunction since I work from home and because my office windows face their house, but for whatever the reason I can’t escape this family that evolution forgot.  What do they do that’s so bad, you might ask?  Well, as is the case with most things about people that annoy you I probably can’t do the behavior justice by writing about it, but here’s my best effort:

    •  The Man of the House –“Jimmy” (I know his name because his wife screams at him at least 42,000 times/day) is your stereotypical New England lug.  Big, fat, with that Boston accent that grates on your nerves the second you hear it, Jimmy is best known for looking like a blond Mr. Belvedere and walking around with his shirt off.  He is also an alcoholic, which is made obvious by his increasingly slurred speech as the day goes on.  He rarely if ever talks in a normal tone of voice, and has never to my knowledge spoken to his son without yelling at him for something.  He is also prone to outbursts of yelling, grunting, and humming odd noises and songs to himself (think the scene in Anchorman where Ron Burgundy is sitting at the bar singing and making fart noises with his mouth).  Also, he apparently passes extremely offensive-smelling gas.  How do I know this?  Because his wife screams at him every time he does it.  In his favor, he does seem to sport a porn ‘stache from time to time.
      • My Favorite Memory – For 6 straight days he tried to fix the engine of the small trawler kept on the side of their house.  This consisted of spending all day shirtless (why is a guy “shirtless,” while a girl is “topless?”) standing on the boat drinking beer while turning the key in the engine over and over and over and over and over again for 8 hours straight while the engine wouldn’t start.  Sometimes he would fiddle with something and then ask his wife to come watch the engine while he tried to start it.  Then while he turned the key and listened to the engine not start he would scream at his wife “Is it workin’?  Is it doing anything”  Do you see any fi-ahh (fire)?” She would scream back “No!  NO!!! It ain’t doin’ nothin’, Jimmy.  It AIN’T doin’ NOTHIN’!!!”  Then Jimmy, not believing her, would have her turn the key while he watched.  Then he would walk around drinking beer and muttering “It ain’t got no fi-ahh.. there ain’t no fi-ahh!”  Eventually God must have taken pity on my plight because miraculously this guy got the boat to start.
    • The Wife & Mother – This woman has the strongest vocal cords in the entire world… how do I know this, because whenever she talks she is yelling.  She yells at her kid for doing things wrong… she yells at her mom for threatening to kick her out of the house… she yells at the dog for being a dog… she yells at Jimmy for being a big fat drunk and threatens to divorce him.  She also has the most annoying way of whistling for her dog… it absolutely drives me crazy – like nails on a chalkboard!
      • My Favorite Memory – One day she came home and found that Jimmy, who had apparently been home without working for the last 3 days, hadn’t done the dishes.  After yelling at him for this for 30 minutes or so everything got quiet.  Then you could hear the clinking of dishes being moved around… I assumed he had finally wised up and was getting the dishes done.  Well about 15 minutes later there was an EXPLOSION of yelling and screaming and general mayhem.  It took a while to figure out exactly what happened, but eventually I could make out that Jimmy has taken all the dishes into the garage and THROWN THEM IN THE GARBAGE rather than washing them.  His rationale for this action: she said she didn’t want to see the dirty dishes when she came back into the kitchen.  Good times!
    • The Crazy Kid – Little Jacob is a good boy, but as you might expect given his parents, does some weird things every once in a while.  He has recently taken to climbing up on the huge pile of junk on his side of the fence to yell into our backyard.  Usually he’s holding a huge plastic gun and yelling: “You people!  Come out with your hands up!  This is the police at your backyard!  Come outside right now and bring your dog with you! Bang, bang, bang, bang…”  Whenever I see him he tells me how much he likes our dog, which wouldn’t be odd except for the fact that he also has a medium-size black dog… he apparently doesn’t like his dog at all, but thinks Dickens is the best. 
      • Favorite Story –I actually didn’t witness this, but one day Becky saw him come outside with a stuffed animal.  Then he went back inside to get another… and another… and another.  After getting them all outside he started yelling and throwing them into the ground as hard as he possibly could and then body slamming them.  Priceless!

    I hope that gives you a bit of insight into the ghetto-fabulousness of our neighborhood.  As more good stories happen I’ll be sure to share them.


    Filed under General Life Update, I think this is pretty damn funny!

    Where you been, Stranger?

    I know, I know… I started off so strongly only to quickly fall into a horrible pattern of neglecting this incredibly insightful, important piece of “cyber art” that I created.  Well fear not, my friends, I have returned from my travels and have recommitted myself to making sporadic entries of questionable worth over the next several months.

    “OK, that’s great,” you may be saying to yourself, “but where have you been and what have you been doing?” 

    It all started with our fantasy football draft at the end of August… this is one of those annual events that Becky believes I take much too seriously probably due to the weeks of intense researchI do while locked in my office.  That said, I have won the league 2 of the last 3 years and needed to uphold my reputation as a “draftmaster.”  The draft itself was fairly mundane (especially compared to last years raucousness), and I ended up a team that seems solid, if unspectacular.  It will be interesting to see if my NFC North quarterbacks (Favre & Kitna) can lead McDonald’s Mafia to another league championship this year – there are some pretty stacked teams in our league so it will be tough.  So far I am 1-1 after a TOUGH week 1 loss to B.J. in which I had the 2nd highest point total in the league but also had the unfortunate luck of running into a white hot Tony Romo who will flame out just in time for The SuperSloths to lose in R1 of our playoffs.

    While we’re on the subject of pigskin I should note my growing addiction to Madden ’08 for the Wii.  It may not be quite the same as GameDay ’99 (complete with Danny throwing things across the room when I beat him), but I love the way the motion-based control scheme is implemented as it adds a TON to the gameplay as opposed to simply being used as a gimmick.  In my first season as the Vikings I was able to come back from a horrid 3-6 start to win the NFC North en route to a Super Bowl victory against the Broncos in which I had an interception return for a TD in overtime to close out my championship season.  I’ll be sure to keep you posted on the Viking’s progress as they play through 2008 and beyond.

    Pennsylvania: the Keystone State

    At the beginning of September, Becky and I took a week off to travel around the great state of Pennsylvania (at least the Western third of the state).  We kicked things off by driving our hot rod rental car (a Hyundai sedan) up to Erie, where we would be spending the night at a nice country B&B situated on 100 or so acres of land complete with some nice walking trails.  The next day our good friends Brian & Janelle drove up to meet us for a day of wine tasting at some of the Pennsylvania wineries.  While seeing Brian & Janelle was great, we were most excited to meet their adorable 6-month old daughter Isabel for the first time.  As you can see below, she didn’t disappoint in the cuteness department. 


     After a great day of wine tasting & wine purchasing the Jensens returned home while Bex and I drove up to southern New York for another night at a country B&B that was out in the middle of nowhere in the midst of beautiful rolling farmland and forest.  The next day we took a long leisurely drive down through Allegheny National Forest (Scenic Route 666 is a must-see if you are ever in that area) as we meandered down to the Jensens.  We spent 3 days with them chatting, playing games (B.J. & I continually got slaughtered in Sequence), and cooing over Isabel.  It was really wonderful to hang out with them and we were very sad to leave.

     After a horrific driving experience that I will not even attempt to recount, we made our way back down to Pittsburgh for the highly-anticipated Barone-Lunsford wedding.  Despite a few more bad driving experiences in Pittsburgh, we had a blast at both the rehearsal dinner and the wedding.  The ceremony and reception were beautiful, everything went off without a hitch, the band was rocking, and the dance floor didn’t have a open area all night long (the free-flowing top-shelf liquor probably didn’t hurt).   

     Happy Wedding!

    On Saturday afternoon we returned home extremely tired and needing a vacation from our vacation… isn’t that always the way it works?  I headed off to D.C. for a week of work and Becky started 21 straight days of work… that just about brings us up to today.

    A few other random notes:

    1. Heroes is a GREAT show!  If you haven’t watched it, start; if you have, get ready for the beginning of Volume 2 next Monday.
    2. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia just started it’s 3rd season on FX… if you haven’t watched it yet check out seasons 1 & 2 on DVD and then start watching the new season.  This is an extremely funny show.
    3. Hot Fuzz is a hysterical movie… watch it ASAP and if you don’t like it don’t bother talking to me ever again.

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    A Royal Goodbye

    There tend to be a lot of goodbyes at my company, and in my department in particular… a combination of young employees, high-volume work, and below-market pay bands seems to have that effect on staffing.  Since I started with the firm 5+ years ago there have probably been 40+ people who have come and gone to various levels of fanfare.  That said, I haven’t really cared about any of the teammates I’ve lost save my near and dear friend Barone who left for greener pastures and hasn’t looked back. 

    Today, however, I’m losing a close friend for the second time… and despite how happy I am for her, I can’t help but feel sorry for myself.  I know I should be focused on all the good times that await her “across the pond” (not to mention her MI-6 secret agent boyfriend), but instead I can only think of how slow my days will feel without our humorous g-chatting to pass the time or how much less enjoyable it will be to eat a Barge at McFadden’s during my next trip to the office without her and her crappy Miller Lite beer next to me.  I can’t imagine anyone who will be able to fill her extremely large (figuratively, of course) glass slippers on the team or as my friend.  Princess, you will be sorely missed!


    Filed under I'm actually being serious right now.