Aug. 30, 2006

I don’t usually write product testimonials on here, but I’ve decided to make an exception for the Sonicare Elite e9500 toothbrush.

For at least a year, my dental hygienist had encouraged me to replace my Oral-B electric toothbrush with a Sonicare brush, which uses sonic technology to remove plaque. I’ll admit that I had resisted her recommendation for a while, since (1) the promises of such whiz-bang technology sounded a little too good to be true, (2) I had fared well enough during my previous cleanings, and (3) the Sonicare product line is quite expensive — around $100 for the latest models.

But I finally decided to buy one in June, and after just two months of using a Sonicare, the results were pretty astounding — my hygienist and dentist both noticed a huge improvement at my appointment last week. (Seriously, can you remember the last time you received compliments at the dentist’s office?)

Sure, the cost of a Sonicare brush is steep, but it’s a small price to pay for preventing cavities, gingivitis, and a lecture from your dentist.

* Update: My sister Meg responded:

Your post on the new and improved toothbrush totally reminded me of a Seinfeld they had like this:
(“Why wouldn’t you want to get something that’s better if I’m telling you it’s better? And it’s not a little better — it’s much better.”)

Nice reference, Meg! I guess pop culture knowledge runs in the family.

[ No. 277 ]

Aug. 28, 2006

Remember last year, when I openly questioned whether I should continue playing on the company softball team? Well, although I stuck around for the remainder of the 2005 season, I decided to sit out this year. Naturally, as soon as I left the team, they went on to win the league championship last week. (I can’t help but wonder if the team would still have won if I had played this year.)

And while we’re on the subject of sports, I noticed this shirt at a charity bar tour over the weekend:

Tortured Philly Fan T-shirt

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

[ No. 276 ]

Photo credit: Drunken Bleachers

Aug. 23, 2006

Say you’re walking along a trail in Valley Forge Park on a pleasant Monday evening. Suddenly, an unaccompanied golden retriever bounds toward you. The dog is friendly, but it’s panting heavily, and its pale coat is damp (possibly from the nearby creek) and strewn with green thorny brush. No owner is in sight, and daylight is fading quickly. You’re neither a pet owner nor a “dog person,” but you know this poor animal is in trouble.

The dog is wearing a purple, bone-shaped ID tag with the name RIPLEY and a local phone number engraved on it. You figure you’ll try to find the owner for a few minutes before calling the number, so you alternately walk and jog with the lost dog back toward the trail entrance.

About a half-mile down the path, you’re joined by a young couple who said that a father and two girls had asked them about a dog that had run off. Shortly thereafter, the dog jumps into the creek and barely makes it back onto land, and you finally decide to dial the number on the dog’s ID tag before it takes off again. A man answers the call, confirms that he’s lost his dog, and agrees to meet you at the trail entrance next to a covered bridge.

You’re greeted by a man in his late 30s and his two daughters at the bridge. The girls (one of them cradling a tiny chocolate-brown puppy of another breed) are visibly thrilled to see their pet again, but the man shows little emotion and offers a sheepish thank-you, as if having his dog returned to safety by a stranger happens every day of the week.

This was a minor good deed, and you certainly didn’t expect a reward in return; it was simply the right thing to do. But wouldn’t you be just a little disappointed that the owner reacted in such a casual, even stoic, manner?

I know I was.

* Update: Steve offers a similar tale:

We recently had a similar “lost dog” story. We found a very old (15 years old or so) golden retriever wandering around in the street in front of our house. We tied the dog up to a tree in the front yard to prevent him from being hit by a car and also to be visible for his owner and gave him some food and water. Called the police, who arrived and started to do paperwork. While the cop was doing his paperwork and talking on his radio the owner showed up and was extremely happy to find his dog (he only lived a couple of houses away).
[…] I’m sure the owner [in your story] was a little embarrassed at losing his dog and you probably shouldn’t read too much into the less than joyful reaction.

I wasn’t overly disappointed by the dog owner’s lack of emotion, but I’ll admit that I’m still a little puzzled by it. Just glad to know that both stories ended on a positive note.

[ No. 275 ]

Aug. 20, 2006

Last Tuesday, shortly before an evening dinner date and without enough time to drive to Duke’s Firehose Company (the best car wash in the area), I settled for a $5 wash at a gas station near my house.

Not surprisingly, five bucks didn’t cover hand-drying the vehicle. So, after arriving home, I began to wipe down the windows with Windex myself, only to discover that the painted outer casing of my car’s passenger-side mirror was suddenly missing. I had no proof that the cheap car wash was the culprit, but I thought it was a good place to start.

Right after work the next evening, I returned to the gas station, walked into the convenience store, and politely asked the kid at the cash register if I could speak with the manager of the car wash. There was no such person in charge, naturally. So I told the kid about my car and its missing part, but made sure not to accuse anyone of anything — at least not yet.

He walked over to a shelf behind the counter, held up three side mirror casings, and casually shrugged at me. They were different in color, but as far as I could tell, identical in shape. I asked to borrow the dark gray one for a minute, he obliged, and out in the parking lot, the casing (now with a few minor scratches) snapped back into place like magic. Shaking my head in disbelief, I walked back inside the store to thank the kid at the register, and I was on my way.

All’s well that ends well, but I still can’t quite figure this out. Do that many side mirrors get lopped off at that particular car wash? And, given that the parts were exactly the same shape, is the Nissan Altima especially vulnerable?

[ No. 274 ]

Aug. 10, 2006

Earlier tonight, I went to Flanigan’s Boathouse in Malvern, where I met up with a group of former Vanguard coworkers for some beer and wings. We’ve had a loose tradition of getting together every few months, catching up on each other’s lives, and above all, recounting hilarious stories from the days when we worked together. Without a doubt, these are some of the funniest guys I’ve ever met.

Here’s a brief one that I only remembered just recently. One of the guys, Dieter, was on the phone with a client who was having a problem with one of her online reports. I overheard the conversation across the aisle from Dieter’s desk:

“Well, the problem is that you can’t divide by zero.”

[A brief pause while the client responded.]

“No, no one can.”

[ No. 273 ]

Aug. 7, 2006

If you’re like me, you’ve probably had a dream in which you’re back in grade school or high school and you’re suddenly presented with a test that you’re completely unprepared for. Personally, I’ve had that dream several times, and I can clearly remember thinking to myself, “Good Lord, I don’t know a single answer on this. I am actually going to get a zero.”

Well, for some unknown reason, I think my subconscious rewrote that script shortly before I woke up this morning. In this dream, I had apparently invited a bunch of friends over to my house for a party, and as the first guests arrived, I suddenly realized that I hadn’t cleaned any area of the house, I had very little food on hand, and worst of all, I hadn’t even remembered to pick up a single case of beer. (Talk about a nightmare!)

I don’t think I’ve ever been more relieved to wake up on a Monday morning.

* Update: My friend Steve seems to have similar nocturnal visions:

Dude! I totally get various forms of the same dream you are referring to. Current variations include:
– Being in band and having no idea how to play a song or even how to play my instrument.
– Wandering the halls of the school having no idea which class I am supposed to be at.
– Being in front of a client for a new software product and/or business function I have no knowledge of.
However, your cleaning fetish dream makes me wonder if you are related to some women I know (who I won’t mention).

For the record, I asked Steve why wanting a clean house for a party is either a “fetish,” feminine, or both. He responded, “I guess I generally just noticed that women seem to get more worked up about cleaning than the guys I know.”

To tell the truth, I really don’t clean my house often enough. In fact, as I type this, both of my bathrooms are in desperate need of cleansing agents. But I won’t apologize for sprucing up the house before guests arrive for a party — I’d rather be called a neat freak than a slob.

[ No. 272 ]

Aug. 3, 2006

According to AccuWeather, today marked the third day in a row with a high temperature of 98° in Philadelphia, and the eighth straight day with a high of 90° or above. But this current heat wave is nothing compared to previous years:

Record: 18 days July 29–Aug. 15, 1988
Runner-up: 17 days July 20–Aug. 5, 1995

Source: National Weather Service

While we’re on the topic, I have a bone to pick with you meteorologists out there — and not just the ones on the local news, either. Nearly all of you have called for a high temperature of at least 100° on several occasions over the last few weeks; in fact, one forecast went as high as 104°! But we haven’t hit the century mark yet this summer. Not once.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not exactly hoping for triple-digit heat. But are you even allowed to call for a high of 99°, or does the station manager frown at your Extra Mega Ultra Doppler 10,000™ computer model and insist that you round up the forecast to 100° to get more ratings?

[ No. 271 ]