Thursday, February 21, 2008

What's in your toilet?

So, we all have our vermin encounters. Especially in Chicago, you have your Mice, your cock-roaches...But this one takes the cake.

A friend of mine who used live in Logan Square in Chicago had a huge problem. She had Rats crawling up her toilet. Just let that sink in for a minute. Remember, we're not talking about tiny mouse, but a big fucking rat who crawled down a shit pipe to get into your apartment. Horrifying.

Somehow the rat survived the trek, and hopped out the other side. My friend saw one trying to jump out of the bowl one morning, and closed the lid, but the rat was strong enough to open it. She put a brick on top of the lid and went to work. When she got home, the brick was rattling. The landlord hadn't done anything (of course). The rat apparently didn't like being trapped in there, so it was trying to move the brick.

Yes, she did try to just flush it back where it came from, but to no avail. The rat was too strong. I don't know if she was using 2000 flushes blue or anything of the like, but I don't know how anything could survive one of those flushes. Up to four months!

That wasn't the first rat to make the trek, though. At night she could hear at least 2 in the kitchen.

I wish I would have had a camera handy. Think of all the great "What did I eat last night" parodies we could have done.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Top Ten

So, my friend Ross posted a top ten list about why he is about to turn 30.  Here's my list about why I'm not.  I'll list the original first so you have some comparison.  

Top Ten Reasons I’m Almost 30 by Ross Jonak


  1. I actually bought a condo and can’t just quit my job and move across country.
  2. I have decorative pillows on my bed…you actually don’t sleep on them, decoration only! My mom who is a HUGE decorative pillow person should be so proud.
  3. The other week I had competing 7am meetings. Now I know why coffee was invented.
  4. My Thursday evenings don’t involve getting drunk off my ass and suffering through a hangover Friday at work.
  5. I have business cards that I actually pass out to generate business contacts instead of giving them out to only friends as a way to look cool.
  6. I feel very out of place around college kids at University of Portland basketball games.
  7. The thought of buying into a plot of land at the local community garden is very exciting! I’ve actually got my plot already…#23!! It’s going to be one hell of a garden!!
  8. I have bought furniture that wasn’t posted on the free section of craigslist.
  9. I don’t have a case of PBR in my fridge. Okay, this is only half true. I don’t currently have any PBR in my fridge, but this is because I drank it all last Saturday. I’m turning 30, not going crazy!
  10. The local newspaper who wrote an article about me (see attached), listed my age as 30. Jerks!  

TOP TEN REASONS I AM NOT 30 by Joe Kickass

1. I’m still hungover from going out on Thursday...then Friday...then Saturday.
2. I give out business cards mostly to impress my friends, and occationally to potential business partners.
3. I rent.
4. I consistently think about packing up and moving somewhere cool, where I can just “bartend and write” to get by, but really end up slacking off and having fun.
5. Everyday I think about quitting my job.
6. I think about buying things I can’t afford.  What’s a little more credit card debt?
7. I have no idea what a decorative pillow is.
8. Seriously, should I quit my job?
9. I only own one suit.
10. If I quit my job, I’ll have more time to sit around and play video games. 

Friday, February 8, 2008

Jeepney (ie, the last part of the Philippines story)

We reached Calipan. I knew that I would have to take a jeepney to Puerto Gallera from there. Jeepneys are based on vintage U.S. army Jeeps, and are essentially a jeep with a long wheelbase, somewhere between a jeep and a bus. Almost all of them are completely tricked out on the inside and the outside, as if designed by a Mexican gangster. The are airbrushed, colorful, and considered a if not the symbol of the Philippines. Jeepneys carry as many people as they can, often with people hanging off the back, and they are not air conditioned. Jeepneys, like the van I was in, run specific routes but have no specific stops, but will let people on and off wherever there is demand to do so.

We reached the Calipan jeepney transfer point, and the van driver told me it was my stop. A number of jeepneys were parked there. One looked pretty full, and it was going to Puerto Gallera, so I chose it. I gave my backpack to a man to tie it to the roof, and then I decided to buy a bottle of water. It was hot, and I was thirsty after my 3 hour trip. There was a snack stand next to my jeepney, so I bought a water there.

Upon receiving my water, I noticed my jeepney had started to roll forward. With my bag on it’s roof. I ran after the jeepney as it slowly gained speed and jumped onto the back bumper, which had a ladder leading to the roof. I held on to the ladder and roof rack and asked a guy who was also hanging on the back of the jeepney if there was a way to climb inside. He said no, the jeepney was too full. And so I hung on to the luggage rack on the roof, standing on the back bumper of the jeepney. We passed a sign, Puerto Gallara - 44 km. This should be interesting.

When I was a kid, my family used to go to Michigan for a week each summer. You could almost consider it “summering.” See, my great grandfather was crazy rich. A millionaire back in the times when that actually meant something. He owned a large estate in Michigan, and though he died decades before I was born, my mom’s family had use of the Michigan property for a week each summer. Every summer until 1990, we went there for a week. It was awesome. The absolute highlight for us kids was the golf cart that we used to tool around the property in. My cousin Adam and I considered ourselves “surfing kings,” due to our amazing prowess at hanging off the back of the golf cart while it was in motion. My cousin Jeff could get the golf cart onto two wheels, and still fail to rattle Adam’s and my brilliant surfing concentration.

I bring this up, of course, because of my innate talent to survive on the back of this jeepney. The word is overused these days (particularly in Omaha) but I did feel there was a certain bit of irony in the fact that skills I had obtained in perhaps the most glaringly patrician aspect of my life later helped my thrive in perhaps the most third world experience of my life.

Back to my original point. And by original, I mean the start of this story a few blogs ago. While on this ride, I saw, possibly for the first time, a chicken crossing the road. I couldn’t help but laugh. The guy hanging next to me looked at me inquisitively. For the first time, strangely. I mean, we passed a lot of water buffalo, and I don’t know what kind of sound water buffalo make, so I mooed at them. The guy hanging next to me thought nothing of my mooing at water buffalo. But, he seemed perplexed by my laughing at the chicken crossing the road. I began to explain it to him, and got a bit too caught up in the joke, and briefly forgot where I was. That is to say, I lost my concentration. So, I almost fell off of the jeepney, which would have been pretty bad from my perspective. Anyway, I got my bearings back and gripped onto the luggage rack with a newfound vigor for the remainder of the time I was hanging there.

And so I hung off the back of the jeepney, for some 42 kilometers. At one point, we reached a mountain pass and the road was no longer paved. At this point, one of the Filipinos hanging with my climbed to the roof of the jeepney, and motioned for me to go up there as well. So, we twisted along a dirt mountain path, passing jungles of palm trees and a surprisingly huge waterfall. I would have taken a picture, but I was already doing my best to impersonate Styles from Teen Wolf, though while seated. We sat on the roof until we reached another paved road, where apparently we had to go back to hanging off the back. However, this didn’t last long, as we soon reached Puerto Gallera.

The last portion of my trip would be a short one. A motorcycle rickshaw ride until we ran out of road, and then a 1 mile or so walk on the beach, to find a hotel. I was pretty sure I would be staying for longer than one night this time. After all, the next day was Christmas, and to leave town on Christmas day would have been uncouth.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

12 Years Later...I Return.

Hands down, the worst trip of my life so far has been Las Vegas.

How is that fucking possible? You may be asking. You might even say “Joe Kickass, you’re an asshole for saying that. Did you loose twelve grand on a single bet?” Nope. “Okay, so a hooker tied you up and took everything you had.” Not even close. In fact, I didn’t even lose a shiny nickel. I was 14 years old, still using dial-up Prodigy email, and my pen-pal Mia hadn’t written me in weeks, so I was already pissed off.

Who goes to Vegas at 14? It’s just not a good idea, and it certainly wasn’t mine. “They’ll have video games you can play while we’re gambling.” Great.

It was actually a combined trip of boating for 3 days and Vegas for 2 nights. Jetski’s – Fun, especially at 14. Vegas? Terrible idea. At 26? Brilliant. Let’s break down why.

First, the company. At 14, I was traveling with my dad, his girlfriend, and his girlfriend’s daughters (guessing here, but lets say they were 8 and 11…and really fucking annoying, and guess who I had to share my hotel room with?) At 26, I will be traveling with 3 hot chicks, and some buddies from LA will meet us up there. 26 takes an early lead.

Next, the hotel. At 14, we stayed at Harrahs. Can you get more plain than that? At 14, you need some flashy glamour or theme to your hotel to keep you occupied for at least a day. Part of the fun of travel at that age was exploring the hotel. Me and my brother back in the day would basically take dibs on a bed, then head out to find the pool, get ice, and see what other rooms we could get into for the next hour. Harrahs was not kid friendly at all, nor did it have any entertainment to seek out. I don’t think they even had video games. And trust me, I looked high and low, and kept getting asked to leave the casino. At 26, we’re staying at IP. At least it’s themed, and more importantly, it’s in the center of the Strip so we can explore other hotels. Another point to 26.

Finally, the entertainment. At 14, we went on a few rides at MGM, rode the Last Drop (or whatever the hell it’s called) on top of the Stratosphere, and spent a lot of time watching whatever random TV show or movie happened to be on in the hotel room…with commentary by the 2 daughters. I couldn’t even get a ride to go to the Crazy Horse. At 26, I plan on only sleeping about 4 hours a day (literally, during the day), I’ll be playing cards half the time, and the other half: getting free drinks and playing random games, hanging out in the sports book, and helping my buddies chase the skirts before heading back to the poker room to clean up the drunks. No question who is going to win this battle.

This is all speculative right now of course, but 26 is going to be a million times better than the 14 trip. I’m willing to bet the farm on that. (I wonder if I could get any action on that bet…) Vegas deserves another chance to wash away the trip 12 years ago.

However, I won’t be able to tell you how it turned out, because, after all, what happens in Vegas…is only 26 days away.