Chicks Dig Mustaches

The longest I have ever gone without shaving is one month. Last month to be exact.

beardAll that hair growing took some serious effort, so I wasn’t about to just shave it all off without a second thought. I used the age-old technique of shaving-in-bizarre-facial-hair-stages.
click to see the silly animation

I was particularly pleased with this combination handle-bar mustache and soul-patch.mustache

I turned to Adrienne, “What would it be like if I kept this mustache?!” Adrienne quickly replied, “I think it would be a lot like celibacy.”

The mustache is gone.

Not a Swearing Man

I am not generally a swearing man.

I don’t have a problem with words like “damn” and “hell”, but that is about the limit for me. Even in sports, where you can get thrown out of a game for not cursing, I didn’t swear much (I think I was permanently traumatized by a 10th grade basketball game where I dropped a pass on the sideline and let lose with an obscenity only to look up and see my mom sitting on the first row of the bleachers only a foot or two away).

Working on the house is a different story.

I don’t know what it is about home improvements that makes me absolutely lose it, but nothing else has quite the effect on me. I am not sure it really counts as swearing. Most of the words that come out are made up (“frungadamunga!”) and the ones that I haven’t invented on the spot are strung together so tightly, in such a steady stream, that they become an unintelligible fix-it incantation.

Today I hung some mini-blinds in a bathroom window. The window was just a little too wide for the blinds so I had to fabricate an angle bracket to extend the mounting bracket on the right side (I have learned from Monster Garage, Monster House, and American Chopper that anytime you so much as look at a piece of metal you are “fabricating”).

The process was not a smooth one, but when I was finished it actually looked perfect. As I sat back to admire my handiwork Adrienne said, “You created two things today, that angle bracket and a beautiful tapestry of obscenities.”


OK, so here is why I need to quit my job. I analyze interfaces (mostly websites) and try to make them easier to use. One side effect of this is that I can’t walk down the street without seeing a sign or a door or car-lane that has a poor interface, and upon seeing it I usually become apoplectic.

The other day I was trying to use my company’s intranet and couldn’t even get through the login before absolutely losing it. There was no “Forgot your password?” link, and anyway, I hadn’t forgotten my password, the damn thing just wasn’t accepting it, and I had no idea why. Which caused me to send this email to an administrative assistant.

—–Original Message—–
From: Josh Penrod
Sent: Friday, July 18, 2003 11:36 AM
To: *****
Subject: intranet living hell stupid piece of son of a )#*@&$#@(*)$&*)#@$&#$)&#@$)(*#$$)(


I have recently been sitting in front of that pile of trash intranet putting in every username and password known to man (including the one you sent me last time when this happened). Not surprisingly, none of them worked. Because a team of rocket scientists wrote the code for this site there is no, “forgot your password” link.

I have now been swearing for 15 minutes straight and I have put together words in combinations never before heard by mortal man, or if heard, then immediately followed by death. A sailor walked by, and started crying like a baby when he heard the words I have been saying.

May I please have my password?

J o s h P e n r o d
[Usability Specialist]

She wrote back:

From: *****
Sent: Fri 7/18/2003 11:45 AM
To: Josh Penrod
Subject: RE: intranet living hell stupid piece of son of a )#*@&$#@(*)$&*)#@$&#$)&#@$)(*#$$)(

Here’s your username and your new password:

username: josh
password: sonofa


I was trying to request some paid time off, so I spent the next 15 minutes trying to find the link that let me do what has to be the absolute #1 thing the intranet site is used for. After finding it I began to fill out the info. I put in the date range I wanted, and a bunch of other junk, then it asked for my total available vacation time.

I had to click through about five pages to find that information. I went back to the paid time off form and, of course, it was blank. I had to start over. So, I entered in all the info, and my total vacation time, only to be asked for my employee ID #. Surprisingly, I don’t have this memorized, so I had to click through a few pages to find it. I found it and then went back to the form. Before I even got to the part asking for my total available vacation time I realized I had forgotten the number.

At this point I am positive a large vessel in my brain popped. I haven’t discovered what faculty I lost because of the aneurysm, but I am sure I will discover I can no longer walk backwards or something.

It dawned on me that the site ALREADY KNEW everything it was asking me to enter! Why was I being asked for info it already had?! If it could show it on another page, why couldn’t it show it here, where I NEEDED IT?! It was mocking me, that is why.

I kicked my waste basket about 30 feet into a wall at the end of the hall. I heard a secretary, whose desk was next to the wall my trash can just bounced off of, asking bewilderedly “Does anyone know who this wastebasket belongs to”?

The only thing that made me feel better was running up to her and demanding an explanation as to why she had my wastebasket, accusing her of being a kleptomaniac, and warning her that I would be watching her.

Actually, if I keep this up I may not need to quit my job.

Psy Ops

I think today I invented the ultimate line in all of trash-talkdom.

While playing foosball (yes, I used to play Division 1 volleyball, now I play foosball) today I repeatedly hit a devastating angle shot against a coworker. This line came to me, feel free to apply it to any sport you would like.

“I am no legal expert, but I am pretty sure that, in this state at least, if I hit that shot on you one more time you become my common-law wife”.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible if you get your nose broken.

Fix Or Repair Daily

I was just looking at consumer reports and I am ashamed to be an American. Someone enlighten me here, is it something genetic? Why can’t Americans make a decent car?

Reliability risks

These cars have shown several years of much-worse-than-average overall reliability. AWD stands for all-wheel drive; 4WD, for four-wheel drive. Listed alphabetically.

Cadillac Catera
Cadillac Seville
Chevrolet Astro
Chevrolet Blazer
Chrysler New Yorker, LHS
Chrysler Town & Country (AWD)
Dodge Caravan (4-cyl.)
Dodge Dakota (4WD)
Dodge Durango
Dodge Grand Caravan (AWD)
Dodge Neon
Ford Focus
Ford Windstar
GMC Jimmy
GMC Safari
Jeep Grand Cherokee
Lincoln LS
Mercedes-Benz M-Class*
Oldsmobile Alero
Oldsmobile Bravada
Oldsmobile Cutlass
Plymouth Grand Voyager
Plymouth Neon
Plymouth/Chrysler Voyager (4-cyl.)
Pontiac Grand Am
Volkswagen Jetta*
Volkswagen New Beetle*
Volvo S80*

*The 4 non-american anomalies on the crappy-car list (I am sure we are somehow responsible for these too).


Admitting its past blunders in a newspaper and magazine campaign is an unorthodox attempt by GM to attract the roughly 40 percent of auto buyers it says won’t even consider GM products.

GM ads take high road while admitting bumps

4:20 a.m.

This morning I woke up early and got ready for work. Adrienne was still asleep when I went back to our room to kiss her goodbye. As I bent over to kiss her I saw this transcript of my sleep-talking last night.

5/19 4:20a.m.
“Josh, what did you say?”

“I don’t know, but I’m sure that what I have said has nothing to do with what they will write.”

I wonder what I was being interviewed for and what bad sleep interview experience I have had that has left me so cynical.

Letters from Chicago

Letters I wrote from Chicago, then forgot to mail, so I hid in our mailbox when I got home.

Letter 1

Adrienne & Reese,

I am sitting here in an enormous park overlooking the lake and downtown Chicago. I can see the Sears Tower, and more impressively, a building that looks to be the headquarters of Ebony and Jet magazines!

I am resting my aching feet, fresh from a hike to the Natural History Museum where I hoped to buy some trinket to show Reese I was thinking of him. From there the plan was to go to the Art Institute and see if I couldn’t find something tiny for you.

Instead, I am sitting here listening to boats, and oddly enough, a mariachi band in the distance, while a cold wind blows in off the lake and numbs the right side of my face and the left side is burnt by the sun.

The weather is almost beautiful, but I completely wish you were here. I don’t have much desire to take pictures (and you know how I love to play artist) or to see museums. Life is just so much more fun with you guys.

Last night I walked up and down Michigan Ave-, “the Magnificent Mile”, and looked at shops and people. That is where I took the rather boring pictures of what was a beautiful fountain before I got my hands/camera on it. Really though, I just kept seeing little families walking together and wishing I had mine with me.

Nothing makes me happier than you guys. Without you the wind is colder, the sun hotter, and the 3rd largest city in the US a boring place.

I love you,
Josh/Daddy (<- why bother, Reese will just call me Josh anyway.)

Letter 2

Muchachitos Malvados de la Isla del Mal,

I now write to you from a train on my way to the airport. Please excuse my handwriting, it is normally the envy of the neighborhood. the train is bouncing like crazy. That is also why my spelling is so poor.

I wandered the city for a few hours, just people-watching and stopping to look at anything interesting. By this scientific tourism process I found the Museum of Contemporary Photography—maybe I am a photographer. The show was disappointing. This might have been partly caused by the cloud that has been following me around in your absence. I also think the fact that the photographer was [large sideways line here] (THIS TRAIN MAY CRASH!) a ham-fisted hack may have contributed to my disappointment.

My patented tourism method also led me to one of the hot-dog stands that had been recommended. It was closed. This caused me to swear in Spanish (it doesn’t count!) for two minutes w/o taking a breath. I passed 4 or 5 more hot dog places and other restaurants that were also closed. the entire town had conspired against me, no doubt led by the McDonald’s corporation whose “restaurants” (GOING TO CRASH!)[squigly line labeled “Look reese, a train!”] were all open.

I thwarted their conspiracy by just not eating at all. If I am very lucky I will have the privilege of paying $29.95 for a hot dog in the airport.

Here is something nice about you. You will be more upset for me if I don’t get a hot dog than I will be for myself.

[back of page]

The lady next to me [more wavy lines and a small drawing of a train driving off the tracks, labeled “my train driving right off the tracks”] has such a saggy face that I want to pinch her leg HARD just to see if she can even make a surprised face. I suspect she will just continue to look like a comatose charpei.

I can’t wait to see you at the airport,

Next time I am flying Fed-Ex

I am sitting on a Salt Lake bound flight right now, I have been reading Fresh Styles for Web Designers (generously given to me by Jason Fried), listening to The Very Best Of Elvis Costello And The Attractions, and reflecting on an enjoyable weekend–I would be in a great mood if it weren’t for the fact that my knees are currently pinned to my chest, and my elbows held out sideways so i can type on the powerbook that is jammed into my stomach.

Of course you are going bankrupt United (though I thank you for keeping it together long enough for my return flight). Here is a business tip. Customers don’t like it when you make them horribly uncomfortable for hours on end. I could approximate your business model by charging $200 to hit people in the knee with a rubber mallet for an hour and then dropping them off at the bus station.

Being 6’6“ was a great thing when I was a high-school athlete. Even in college, for a volleyball player I was pretty tall and that was a good thing. But now, what are the benefits? the whole ”tall people make more money“ thing seems to be a lie and I constantly hit my head on stuff. I am considering arm and leg-shortening surgery (I suppose I will just have to live with the torso).

Chicago was great. That is a city I could for sure live in. People were friendly, the food was incredible, there was plenty to do. I would, however, recommend the mayor reconsider his decision to pump the scent of stale urine throughout the downtown. I am not sure what he was hoping to accomplish with that, but I found it a bit off-putting.

The 37signals workshop was great. If you are a web-professional and you don’t pay attention to 37signals I think we can safely say that you have the IQ of a retarded cabbage.

I took almost no pictures of the trip and it is Robert Capa‘s fault. One evening I wandered the Magnificent Mile and ended up in a bookstore where I sat and looked through a couple of Robert Capa books. I was awe-struck. I am familiar with his work–and not just the war photos–but for some reason it hit me hard that night. I was not inspired. No, I was demoralized (Sideways! Is my plane supposed to be moving sideways!?).

So, the posting of photos is now on hiatus until morale is regained through much practice and self-imposed home-work. I am also leaving open the option of regaining morale by winning the lottery. I don’t want to limit myself here.

Now, a note to you Elvis Costello. You are a genius. We will not argue that, but we will suggest humbly from our talentless glass-house–there are ways to end songs other than repeating the refrain 30 times as you gradually fade out.


I have just been informed that the following does not count as a real apology:

“I am sorry for being snappy with you.. I mean snippy. Snippy…snappy…snippy. I was snippy, but I am sure I was also pretty snappy when I was being snippy.”

Steve Gets Hit By The Ftrain

If any of you were wondering what Steve Burns (the former host of Blue’s Clues) was up to, he is being abused by Paul Ford under the pretext of an interview about Steve’s new music career.

75,000,000 Toddlers Can’t be Wrong
After six years of dressing in a green striped shirt and talking to condiments, kiddie-show host Burns is becoming a rocker, and, by many accounts, not a bad one. Signed to Play It Again Sam Records with a forthcoming album of ‘songs about science and love’ called Songs for Dust Mites, produced with help from the Flaming Lips’ Steven Drozd and luminaries including David Fridmann (The Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev, the Delgados, Luna) and Ed Buller (Suede, Pulp), Burns seems ready to conquer the adult world as well. And the surprise? The songs are not bad. One or two even shine.

After you read the scary interview, (don’t worry, I am sure no Steve was actually harmed) go check out Paul’s site. There is A LOT there, and he is so talented it is painful.

Turn It In

I was looking through my log files, and I noticed that my site is being scanned by,

We prevent and detect plagiarism by comparing submitted papers to billions of pages of content located on the Internet and our proprietary databases. The results of our comparisons are compiled, one for each paper submitted, in custom “Originality Reports.” These reports are sent to participating educators, who access the results by logging into their account(s).

I was lucky enough to have been in college during a time when I could just do a search on a topic and turn in whatever I found! OK, could have but never did. I even went through the trouble of learning to cite my internet sources.

So kids, don’t copy from the amishrobot for your reports, will find you!

Bishop Allen

I stumbled on this band, Bishop Allen, and I love them. They have an album out, Charm School, and you can download several MP3s on thier site.Here are some sample lyrics for you:

And I tell you over and over and over again, my friend
That I’m down with you, even on the eve of destruction
And if this moment is gone in a flash
And my hand in yours becomes ash in ash
And everyone becomes just dust in the blast
At least this day will be our last
Maybe St. Peter won’t let us in
Saying heaven’s a place for the innocent
And we’ll have a dance, yeah a dance, on the head of a pin
And God will grin and shoo us away

Go buy Bishop Allen’s Charm School, you will love it.