Jun 29, 2006

Attack Ads: That's what we wanna do today

This store flyer caught my eye while going through the paper this morning.

"Quick!" I said to Ethan. "What store is this from?" I covered up the store logo.

"Target," he said.

"Bzzzzzt! Wrong answer!"

But that's exactly what I expected him to say. Doesn't it make you think of the Target logo?

Here's a shot of the whole flyer cover:

That's what I call an advertising goof.

A lot like what happened last night on the episode of Mythbusters (a fun and educational show) that we were watching: The show sponsor was Ford, but the Mythbusters spent the whole show chasing after a 1967 Impala that they wanted to strap some rockets to (long story), and the show even included a vintage Impala TV commercial. Ford has to love the fact that they sponsored a Chevy ad.

Jun 22, 2006

Seven minutes too late

Things didn't go as planned tonight. I missed visiting hours at the prison.

A couple of months ago, I would never have written that sentence. That was before a friend of mine was arrested on some serious charges. Since then, I've learned the basics of visiting at the prison: That you need to be on the inmate's visitor's list; that different cell blocks have different schedules; that you need to show a picture ID at each visit; that you can't bring a cell phone into the prison.

There are lockers in the lobby where you can put the contents of your pockets; the locker key must be the only thing in your pocket when you enter the visiting area. The booths are just like you see on TV. You're on the other side of thick glass, and you talk through telephones with lousy sound. You sit on stainless steel. On the other side, there's a lot more stainless steel, and a lot more restrictions, naturally. That's what prison is.

But it hits home in a new way when you see how how hungry an inmate is for a visit, as well as for mail, and of course that's only the beginning of the limits he's under. I schedule one or two visits a week; there are limited evening hours and none on the weekend.

I had reminded myself about the vist often throughout the day. I even set the alarm on my cell phone. The timing would work out perfectly, unlike so many days during baseball season. Ethan didn't have a game. Emmett's game was at 7:00; I'd drop him off a little before 6:00, then go straight up to the prison.

But as the time drew near, I simply forgot about the prison until there were only a few minutes until 6:00. I jumped in the car with a slim chance of making it—until I realized that I didn't have my license (you have to supply a picture ID, remember?). I turned back to get it and didn't reach the prison until about 6:07. The guard on duty didn't buzz me through the front door. She apologized and said I'd have to come back another time—but next time before the hour. I turned on my heel to go.

Restricitions. Even visitors face them.

Still, I should have been on time, so ... Keith, Ya Goof!

Here's what happens to a neck if you pullet

Team EEK! pal David answered Emmett's chicken story with one of his own:

When I was about seven years old, we got some chicks at Easter. We kept them in a cage, and of course they got bigger until my parents started telling me they would have to go.

"No way!" That was my answer. I even took my chicken into the bathroom with me. I kept hold of his neck—switching hands as needed!

One day, I was taking the chicken into the bathroom, and my parents said, "Come on, give us the chicken." They reached for it, but I moved it away. They reached again, and I moved the chicken the other way. "No, no! You're not taking him!" As I moved the chicken this way and that, the head goes one way, and the body goes the other. My parents finally said, "Fine. Keep him."

But it wasn't long before the chickens got bigger yet and went to a friend of ours who worked in a zoo. This zoo actually kept chickens on display. After some time passed, my mom asked how they were doing.

"They're fine!" the lady said, "But there's something funny about this one. It has a really long, crooked neck!"

Dave, Ya Chicken-Neck-Stretchin' Goof!

Jun 20, 2006

Who's Up for a Chicken Run?

Emmett brought home a friend today. Her name is Henrietta. Emphasis on "Hen." Here's a picture of them together:

Here's an explanation from Emmett, in his own words:

There's this one class at ATOMS Camp (Science Camp) called "Bees and Other Neat Creatures." The teacher gave us the chance to take home either a guinea pig or a chicken. The guinea pigs were all taken, so I got stuck with a chicken. (No offense, all chickens who are reading this.)

By the way, the first day of camp, a different chicken pooped on my shirt while I was holding it.

Anyway, after Camp, when I was waiting for Mom to pick me up, Henrietta escaped from her box. For about five minutes, fifteen people chased after her. Finally, one woman captured Henrietta; she grabbed the box and scooped her up. Then I started walking home.

In front of the elementary school, Henrietta escaped again. I chased it for about ten minutes when another woman came along, and we trapped Henrietta. The woman asked where I got Henrietta, and I explained that she was a science project.

I had no problems the rest of the way back, but before I crossed Penn Street (the main street through town), I whispered to Henrietta, "If there was ever a time not to break free, this is it." When I was on Allegheny Street, Mom finally pulled up. She had gone down to the High School to pick me up and finally found me.

When I got Henrietta home, I made sure she stayed in her box by weighing down its flaps with two books and my Gameboy. We gave her some water out of a cup. I'm not sure what to feed her.

Thanks, Emmett. Now let's recognize some people who make this post possible:

For pooping on Emmett ... Chicken #1, Ya Goof!

For losing Henrietta (twice!) ... Emmett, Ya Goof!

But most of all, for not supplying a nice chicken transport box with a lid ... To the teacher of "Bees and Other Neat Creatures," we say ... Ya Goof!!

Jun 19, 2006

No contest! Really: No contest!

Here’s an email from my cousin Emily in Vermont, who emailed me last week asking for a copy of our Jimmy Gimmy book to use as a prize for a bubble-blowing contest at a church event—as well as for information on how to run the contest the same way she had seen us run one at a town festival called Old Home Day. The point of the story is: If you are even thinking about running a bubble-blowing contest voluntarily, we must say to you: Ya Goof!

Dear Keith and Family,

The contest was great!

“Sign up for the Bubble Gum Contest right here!” I said. Every little person age three and up wrote their names as best as they could and then hovered around me to start the contest. “You have to stand back and form and line,” I said, remembering the very organized way you ran the contest at Old Home Day.

“Everyone needs gum!” I said. Heads dropped immediately and eyes locked in on the bag of Dubble Bubble lying on the floor. I handed out the gum, telling contestants that they had to get the gum nice and soft, so: “Chew,chew,chew!”

I called on the first contestant. A bright young girl. She was the daughter of the guest speaker. “Okay, blow a bubble,” I said.

“I don’t know how.”

The thought never occurred to me that the kids would sign up for a contest they couldn’t do!

“Well, keep chewing and watch the other kids,” I said. “Maybe you'll get the hang of it.”

Some kids were chewing steady and really working the gum. They looked straight ahead, concentrating with all their might. Some had the blank stares of Ben Stein. Others were talking, chewing and walking, all at the same time. One girl wanted gum while working on a root beer float. I remembered what you said in the rules: All contestants must have a clean mouth. I was strict about this. She put down her drink, never to be touched again until I picked it up, as I did all the other floats forsaken for a piece of pink chewing gum.

By this time, we were getting some good bubbles going. The practice time was over, and my “calipers” were ready. (One ruler and two straws taped together.) Where were my printed directions?!!!!! I couldn't find them anywhere! I had to have help with this. The guest speaker was a graduate of Brown University majoring in mathematics. “Can you help?” I told him the situation.
Looking down at my on-the-spot invention, he said he had to think about it. I think I heard him say he would need a slide rule and graphic calculator and still he wasn’t sure how to measure. His wife came by and said just eyeball it. That was good enough for me.

With my calipers ready, I measured 2 1/2", 3", 3 1/2", etc. I was confident in your words, “the judge has the final answer.” Everyone was cool with that. The winner blew a bubble 7 1/2" (more or less). It was BIG. After that, the bubble gum was losing its pliability, and I declared the contest over.

Anna Swift won with the 7 1/2" bubble. Everyone was happy! Except a fourth grader who came in third. She approached me for her prize as well as her friend’s second-place earnings. I had no plans to give a second- or third-place prize. Panic was setting in. I looked over at the second-place winner. She had just won the hula hoop contest.

“Whew,” I thought. “She’s got a prize. She’s okay.”

But my fourth-grade friend was persistent.

“You can have the rest of the bubble gum,” I told her in my “game show announcer” voice. I turned to get the rest of the gum. And there was none left!

“It’s all gone. Who would have thought?” I said. “How about a bottle of soda and ice cream to take home so you can make your own root beer floats?” That was very satisfying to her.

As we walked toward the kitchen, she said, “I have an idea. Why not give Abby the bottle of root beer and I’'ll take the ice cream.” She was determined that her friend, so happy with her hula hoop winnings, would take home a prize for coming in second in the Bubble Gum Contest.

Well, things went from bad to worse. There was only a partial bottle of root beer left and a partial carton of vanilla ice cream. She checked out the amount of ice cream and said she'd take it. She gave the root beer to Abby and all was right with the world. I explained everything to her father who thought it was extremely thoughtful of her to be so concerned about Abby’s happiness. She was very noble.

First prize (the book) went home with a fifth grade girl who will thoroughly enjoy it.

Thank you for making the weekend exciting and memorable.



Jun 13, 2006

Ben there, done that, now what?

"Ben Roethlisberger, you just became the youngest quarterback to win the SuperBowl. What are you going to do next?"

Ride a motorcycle without a helmet?


Woodbury, PA

P.S. from Ya Goof! Ben, get well soon.

P.P.S. Look at this sports column dated precisely one year before the accident warning Ben about this exact thing!

P.P.P.S from Ya Goof! Charlotte, thanks so much for your email! You're entered to win CHOCOLATE!

Jun 12, 2006

"M" is for My Bad

I was a storyteller tonight for the Vacation Bible School that our church is holding with another church. I met with four groups and told the story of Jesus feeding the crowd of 5,000 with one boy's lunch of five loaves and two fish.

To bring the story home to the kids, I told each group that I brought a snack for all fifty kids in the Bible School: a single M & M (I guess that would that just be one "M"). I asked who would like to break up the M so that every child could have as much as they wanted. I asked another child to collect the leftovers. Impossible? You betcha.

It worked pretty well until the last group, the four- and five-year-olds. When I pulled out the one M, looking might lonely in a zip-lock bag, one boy started to cry.

"That's not fair!"

I had to do some fast apologizing and adapting. For one thing, I gave the boy the first chance to act out an animal in a game of charades that I had worked into the story. He perked up at that.

I whispered into his ear to tell him the animal he was to portray.


He nodded, so I knew he'd heard me, but he signaled that he was going to whisper to me.

"How do I act like a giraffe?"

I helped him out. I raised his arm up beside his head. It worked. Whew.

The illustration went well otherwise, but still, for not thinking of a way to make it foolproof:

Keith, Ya Goof!

Jun 11, 2006

How to make free tickets cost $10.00

Step One: At work, win two tickets to a charity event at Del Grosso's Amusement Park. You're entitled to two rounds of miniature golf and two spaghetti dinners. Yeah, baby!

Step Two: Lose the tickets.

Step Three: Find out after you've parked.

Step Four: Pay for replacement tickets.

Ah, well. It's for a good cause. Below, see the top half of the scorecard. Ethan and Emmett played.

Here was the conversation upon my reviewing the scorecard:

ME: Why does this say "M" and "T"?

ETHAN: We both have the same first initial, so we used our second initials.

ME: Uh ... your second initials would be "A" and "B." (for "Augustus" and "Baird")

ETHAN: (rolling his eyes) Okay, okay. The second letters of our first names.

ME: Gotcha.

They have no idea how exhausting it is for me to come up with ways to nitpick all the time. And will they demonstrate any appreciation of this next Sunday (Father's Day)? I'm not counting on it. Sniff.

Anyway ... I lost the tickets ... so lay it on me:

Ya Goof!

Add this to the driver's manual

Has this happened to you?

You pull over for an emergency vehicle. The emergency vehicle passes through. You're about to get back into the lane, but the driver behind you pulls out first. I hate that!

Granted, there might be a circumstance where I would do it, too, if I were in an extra-big hurry and saw my chance and thought the end justified the means.

BUT unless that is the case with you, o-ye-person-who-did-this-to-me-yesterday and ye-next-person-to-do-this-to-me, with all my force I bellow:

Ya Goof!!!!!

Jun 8, 2006

This story stinks

Ethan was pooped on twice tonight. Once literally, once figuratively.

He had a Pony League game at a field near Northern Bedford High School. It was just the two of us, because Emmett had a Little League game at the same time.

(Quick tangent: Last night, Emmett’s team was behind 9-0 going into the fourth inning. At the end of the fourth inning, the score was 9-9. At the end of the fifth, it was 12-12. Emmett’s team failed to score in the bottom of the sixth. In the top, alas, the other guys pushed one over.)

As I was driving along, Ethan suddenly growled, “Awwwwww!” He started brushing something off his arm and the front of his uniform.

“What? Did you spill something or—?”


He held out his arm. There was a little white splash on it.


“It came in through the window!”

“No way!”

“Yes way.”

“No way!”

“Dad, get over it.”

“You know how the high school graduation was held last night in the football stadium?”

“Yeah, so?”

“If the speaker said to the whole crowd,  ‘Raise your hand if you’ve ever been pooped on by a bird while riding in a car—’”

“Okay, Dad.”

“ ‘—and convertibles don’t count,’—”


“—how many would raise their hands?”

It turned out to be an omen.

To make a seven-inning story short, Ethan’s team was behind by three runs with one out left, with two men on and Ethan was up. The count went to 2 and 2. The pitch flew. Called strike three.

It hit the dirt right behind the plate. Everyone saw it as low. I know the losing side always says that, but how often does this happen? As everyone was clearing out, the opposing coach came over and held out a folded $20 bill toward Ethan’s coach.
“That was just wrong. Here, take it. Take the team out on me.”

Ethan’s coach appreciated the gesture but shook off the money.

Ethan took it hard. The call took away a hitting streak. That’s rough at thirteen. I had to refrain from my usual joking for several miles. You can’t ride a kid when bad stuff is coming at him high and low.

To the unknown bird: Ya Goof!

To the unknown ump: Thanks for your service. I trust you did your best.

Jun 6, 2006

A walltercation

There was some excitement at the Hollidaysburg Area Library today. Janet (the Library Director) found out about it when some teen girls came in (they had been doing some service work in the library that day) and said there was a man outside who wanted her to come right away.

She hurried out and found a man down at the corner with six teenage boys on bikes. Actually, five boys on bikes and one on foot. The man had hold of the sixth bike, and the sixth rider was trying to wrestle it away from him. The man was arguing with all of the riders.

Janet could see at once what was going on. The kids use their bikes to grind on the library's low brick wall. She's repeatedly asked and ordered them to stop doing that. They haven't.

The man, a library volunteer and regular patron, had also tried before to order off the kids. This time, he decided to make a point. He grabbed hold of one of the bikes and wouldn't let go. The rider protested, to say the least ("Why do people have to be such !@#$$%^&!"). The man asked why he (the rider) should be able to control his property (the bike) when the library couldn't control its property (the wall).

The other riders had scattered but they all came back and argued that the wall was public property. Fine, the man said, then stop grinding my property. No, they said, it's our property, too.

Janet explained to me later that the library is actually private property that's open to the public. So the kids had no more right to grind the wall than they would a homeowner's wall.

Anyway, the bike-grabbing-guy called 911 on his cell phone, and a borough police officer came. He asked Janet and the man to wait for him on the steps while he talked to the kids. The officer was with them for quite a while. When he came up to the steps, he explained that it had taken some time to get all of their names and addresses. He got the man's side of the story.

The officer advised that Janet can request the riders' names and addresses from him to send letters to the kids stating that they are not welcome on the property. The officer said he knows the kids from earlier encounters.

As for grabbing someone else's bike to make a point—the officer doesn't recommend it. If the rider had slipped during the struggle, or if the tussle had escalated, it's potentially a very bad scene. The man's actions did result in Janet's getting the names to use, but still ...

To the man we say: Ya Goof!

But much louder to the riders we say: Ya Goofs!!

Jun 3, 2006

The Duh-namic Duo

Here's a photo of my new cell phone and its holster on a piece of our new wicker furniture. This could be called a YaGoof Grouping.

YaGoof #1 has to do with the small mud stain on the holster (I know you might not be able to see it). That's a result of its spending part of the night on the floor at Blair County Ballpark. Emmett and I went to the game (er, rainout) last night. As soon as I sat down, I found that my phone and holster were missing. Dang! I only bought it last Saturday and hadn't even made a call on it yet!

I made the long trek to the parking garage to see if it was in the van. No.

I looked all over at home this morning. No.

I stopped in at the Curve office and asked (without much hope) if it could possibly be in their lost-and-found. Yes!

Keith, Ya Goof! And may I add, thank you to whoever turned it in.

YaGoof #2 has to do with the cushion peeking into the picture. We've been looking for new wicker, and Janet found a nice set at Unkel Joe's Woodshed. On display, the set had striped cushions that we didn't like, but the store had a set of flowered cushions that we did like.

But when we got home, we found that the cushions were too small. We hadn't actually seen them on the wicker pieces; we just assumed that everything in stock was the same size.

I found the manufacturer on the web and called to ask for retailers who stocked the correct size. They were very gracious and led me to a retailer in Greensburg who was just as gracious. I was pleasantly surprised that it worked out so well. We received the cushions yesterday. Perfect!

You know, it's kinda nice when a goof leads to a satisfying experience. So where do I direct the honors? My choice is ...

Unkel Joe, Ya Goof! (For not stocking the right size).

P.S. Is there actually an Unkel Joe?

Jun 2, 2006

got ... something else?

A little bit ago, Janet was getting an evening snack, a bowl of cereal.

After adding milk, she found that it wasn't. Wasn't milk, that is. Well, okay, it was milk, but really, really diluted.

I think what happened was this: At breakfast today, I finished a jug of milk and ran some rinse water into it, but Ethan and were in a hurry to get him to school (as usual), and I left the jug on the counter. Janet must have found it, put on the cap and put it back in the refrigerator.

So it appears I must say: Keith, Ya Goof!

Jun 1, 2006

A story that does and doesn't belong here

Nearly every morning on the way to work, I pass Blair County Ballpark and cross Frankstown Road to get onto Interstate 99. So if you've ever gone to a Curve game and left in that direction, you can picture the spot.

The morning before yesterday, a van was ahead of me as we entered that intersection. The light had just turned green. One car rolled through from Frankstown Hill, apparently running the red light. I sucked in a breath at how close that car was cutting it to the van ahead of me.

Then another car ran the light.

Through all of this, the van just kept rolling forward, so the driver must not even have noticed the two cars flying her way from the right.

The second car hit the van and tore off the front of it. The impact pushed the van a bit to the right, and the other car ended up on the side of the road just past the intersection. I was already moving through the intersection. I steered around the van and pulled over on the interstate entrance ramp. I ran back to the cars to see if the drivers needed any help, if only from being shaken up.

Ironically, I had a brand-new cell phone in my car that was charged but not yet programmed. My first cell phone. Yes, there are some cell-less people left.

The two drivers were cordial to each other. Neither was hurt, just rattled. To add to the irony, each had a cell phone that wasn't working. Another car had pulled over, and I went to that driver, who had a working cell phone. She called 911.

An officer got there quickly. If you haven't been in an accident that leaves vehicles undrivable (or at least not for a while), the first two questions are: "Is anyone hurt?" and "Who do you want to have tow your car?" Just in case you want to call a towing service to mind and feel more prepared out there on the mean streets ...

I wasn't needed any more, and I went on my way, feeling sympathy mingle with ... well, gratitude at being able to be on my way.

I won't say "Ya Goof" to anyone involved. Things in life go wrong, but some of them rise above the level of a goof. They end up making you grateful for the things that are merely goofs.