Monday, January 30, 2012

The Top 10 Moments in Sports Mascot Failure

Mascots have become an ingrained part of virtually every type of sporting event from all over the world.  Some people love them, and some people (like Mike Wilbon) absolutely hate them.  

But no matter how you feel about a mascot's in game antics, it's hard to resist laughing at someone in an over sized costume that inadvertently creates genius physical comedy.  Not the staged stuff that mascots usually do to entertain the fans, but honest to goodness accidents that are funnier than any PR rep or stunt coordinator could hope to dream up.

The following is my personal top 10 list of the greatest moments in sports mascot failure.

10. Wolfie moonwalks off a ledge

During a 2010 exhibition baseball game between the University of Nevada and the Minor League AAA Reno Aces, the mascots of the respective teams decided to have a dance party on top of the Reno dugout between innings.

As the wacky pair's dancing reached a fever pitch, Nevada's mascot, Wolfie, attempted the difficult transition from doing the "windmill" to moonwalking...without realizing where his impromptu dance floor ended. (Video has no sound, but it's not needed).

Why it is not staged: Falling backwards from the opposing team's dugout onto a concrete floor, while hilarious, is not safe.  Also...

What you may have missed while laughing: The Reno Aces mascot, Archie (who looks like a drop of jelly that fell from a PB&J) frantically attempts to warn and then save his fuzzy friend before he plunges over the edge.

9. Berlino the Bear does a taxi cab impression:  
Gives rides and crashes into things.

At the 2009 Women's Track and Field Championships in Berlin, Germany, Jamaica's Melaine Walker won the gold medal for the 400 meter hurdles.

Berlino, the mascot for the event, joyfully ran over to her, gave Melaine a hug, and then offered her a piggy back ride/victory lap around the track. Walker happily accepted.  Then this happened:

Why it is not staged:  Melaine Walker may have been euphoric about her victory, but I doubt that she would purposely celebrate in a way that could have given her a concussion.

What you may have missed while laughing: The announcers stopped watching Melaine and Berlino's antics to interview the distraught 2nd place finisher, Lashinda Demus.  Right at the moment when the announcers switched into their "sober defeat" voice setting is when Berlino collided with the truck.

8. Rufus beats up Brutus

We are all well aware that mascot fights are almost always staged. This one, however, was not.

In 2010, the Ohio State Buckeyes played Ohio University at home.  During Ohio State's pregame ceremony, Brutus, the Buckeye's mascot, did his usual run out with the cheerleaders. That's when Rufus, Ohio University's mascot, decided it was time to throw down.

Here's another angle of the fight.  While not nearly as close to the action, you get to see Rufus' entire take down of Brutus in the endzone.

Why it is not staged: Ohio University issued a formal apology to Ohio State and banned Brandon Hanning (the student wearing the Rufus costume) from being affiliated with any other Ohio University athletic functions. Hanning didn't really care since he had been planning his game day assault on Brutus for an entire year.

What you may have missed while laughing:  The Ohio State players kneeling in solemn prayer/reflection as the fight continued in the end zone.

7. Utah Jazz Mascot Reigns 
Down Fire and Cake 

Why the mascot for the Utah Jazz is a Bear...and why is name is simply just "Bear"...still baffles me.  But he apparently provides some great entertainment for the fans during home games.

While Bear may have a history of staging events to look real, this one was definitely an accident.  

The Utah Jazz were celebrating a long time season ticket holder's birthday by bringing him a birthday cake. The cake came complete with delicious icing, an inscribed birthday message, and lit birthday candles.  The moment was made even more special due to the fact that Bear was the one delivering the cake.

Everything looked great until Bear was asked to show the cake to the audience watching on the arena's JumboTron:

Why it is not staged: While it is no secret that NBA mascots have a proud tradition of staged cakings, I seriously doubt that a cake with lit candles was purposefully dropped from the upper deck onto the fans below.

What you may have missed while laughing: Instead of getting angry or filing lawsuits over possible/fake burns, fans in the lower deck began to have a food fight.

6. Boomer drops the thunder

Boomer, the mascot for the Indiana Pacers, took his antics to a local high school game while the Pacers were on the road.  What started out as the cliche "mascot uses trampoline to dunk" routine, however, became something much more awesome and destructive.

Here's another angle:

Why it is not staged:  Since the backboard could not immediately be replaced, the game had to be moved into an auxiliary gym.

What you may have missed while laughing:  In the first video, watch the bottom left hand corner of your screen.  After the dunk, out of nowhere you'll see Gumby going crazy along with the rest of the student section.

Boomer's response to the incident on his twitter:  Ooooops.

5. The Bearcat gets taken down by The Man

In December of 2010, the Cincinnati Bearcats were playing at home against Pittsburgh in very cold and snowy conditions.  After a long run by Pittsburgh's Dion Lewis for a touchdown, the player was pelted with snowballs.  The main instigator of the snowball throwing?  The Bearcat.  

That's when the police stepped in for what might be the most ridiculous looking arrest ever recorded.  Fair warning:  There's a bit of audible foul language...and a policeman holding the mascot's head as if he just decapitated a puma.

Why it is not staged:  The person in the mascot suit was detained and cited by the police for disorderly conduct.

What you may have missed while laughing:  A girl in the background (who is most likely the girlfriend or a family member of the Bearcat) pleads with the camera operator to stop recording the incident because it's "not funny."

4 (A). Indian goes "manifest destiny" on Demon's Head

During a 1992 football game between Northeast Louisiana University (represented by Chief Brave Spirit) and Northwestern State University (represented by Vic the Demon), a fight broke out in the end zone between the two mascots.

This video has it all: Interviews with the actual costume wearers, excellent narration, and dramatic music.

Why it is not staged: As if you couldn't tell from the actual fight or the participant's interviews, this fight got very real very quickly; police had to be brought in to break it up.  Chief Brave Spirit also broke one of the cardinal rules of mascot fisticuffs:  You don't remove another mascot's head.

What you may have missed while laughing: The incredibly disturbing sight of a mascot (with his over sized head torn off) throwing punches into a walking racial stereotype.

4 (B). Auburn's War Eagle needs flying lessons.

This one's eligibility is questionable since it involves a live animal instead of a costumed mascot, but it's too good to be excluded from this list.

Before every home football game at Auburn University, an American bald eagle named Spirit flies around the stadium while the crowd cheers him on.  While this is usually a breathtaking sight to behold, things didn't go very smoothly for Spirit on September 10 of 2011.

Why it is not staged:  If Auburn really did somehow train and command an American bald eagle to smash head first into a stadium luxury box, than P.E.T.A would have been occupying Toomer's Corner before the sun went down.

What you may have missed while laughing: The eagle reacted just like most of us do after an embarrassing physical mishap; he played it off like it was no big deal or was done on purpose, and then continued about his business.

3. Wild Wing gets Roasted

In 1995, the Anaheim Ducks' mascot, Wild Wing, decided to kick off their home opener by jumping over a wall of fire.  Needless to say, things did not go as planned.  (The video has no sound, but you can probably fill in the voice that's screaming "HELP ME!  I'M ON FIRE!" on your own):

Why it is not staged:  He jumped into a wall of flames wearing a very flammable costume.  If this was staged, than it was a very elaborate and public suicide attempt.

What you may have missed while laughing:  The cheerleaders (yes, they have them for hockey as well) had to pull Wild Wing out of the fire as the underside of his costume was still burning.

2. Mr. C turns on the home fans

During a home basketball game in 2011, Vanderbilt's mascot, Mr. C, decided to have a little fun with the student section....and by fun we mean throwing a vicious haymaker into a student's face.

Why it is not staged:  That's real blood pouring out of that student's nose.

What you may have missed while laughing:  ESPN goes on to show an even better view of Wild Wing's descent into fire and a Moose mascot slamming into an outfield fence.

1. The Raptor Double Fail

Any of you that know me personally are well aware of my affection for the following video.  It may be the greatest thing ever recorded in the history of mankind.  

It starts out with the Toronto Raptor's mascot attempting to go down the stairs in rollerskates.  From there, things spiral downward into a world of pain and humiliation...and unbridled joy and laughter for all those observing this glorious event.

Why it is not staged:  I guess it could be, but I have a hard time believing that something so beautifully chaotic (and apparently painful) could and would happen on purpose.

What you may have missed while laughing: Watch the Raptor's tail deflate after he faceplants and is laying on the floor.  

Well there you have it.  Not exactly high brow material, but I'm probably not the only one that finds way more entertainment than I should when it comes to watching mascot accidents.

If I missed anything, please feel free to leave it in the comments section.  If there's enough interest and material, there could be a Part 2.

And since the Stanford tree didn't show up on the list,
there has to be some stuff out there that I missed.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Walmart Greeters: The End of An Era Begins

It was recently reported that Walmart will be pulling its greeters from overnight shifts at many of its stores. This has been called an indicator of a poor economy, but I beg to differ.  

While Sam Walton's original idea of having a person at the front of every store greet the customer probably seemed like a great way to make people feel welcome (and want to spend more time and money in the store), it has most likely strayed very far from its original intent.

Many Walmart greeters are hired from the ranks of elderly retirees who were looking to make a little extra money to supplement their retirement and/or social security.  This works out well since all they used to have to do was smile, wave, and say “Welcome to Walmart!”  It was a job that required very little physical effort and did not demand quick decision making skills.  

According to corporate perception, all Walmart employees that worked as greeters were like the one in this video.


Unfortunately, that all began to change when Walmart decided to make them work security at the exit.  Anyone who has been to Walmart and walked out with a giant television or a shopping cart full of competitively priced groceries has experienced an awkward exchange like this one:

Walmart Greeter:  Excuse me sir, can I please see your receipt?

Customer:  It’s at the bottom of my shopping cart.

Walmart Greeter:  I can wait.

"I can wait all day, punk..."

They will then pretend to look at your receipt, use a marker to draw a random line across it, and you're on your way.

While most of us have never stolen anything from Walmart ourselves, people that do steal from the store began to feel threatened by these elderly sentries that stood between them and their free goods.  Other customers (that actually did purchase their goods) became offended that their integrity had been questioned so  soon after plunking down hard earned cash for their items.

This combination of opportunistic criminals and angry/insulted shoppers manifested itself into a rash of violent acts against the greeters.  Like this one:

Apparently, a customer set off the store alarm when he tried to leave.  The 69 year old greeter asked him to stop so he could do the cursory "pretend to look at receipt" act.  When the customer refused, the greeter followed him outside to get his license plate number.  The customer was not pleased, came back inside, and began to throw down.

Fortunately for the greeter, he was an ex-marine and was able to hold his own.  But two parts of this case's aftermath put it very far out in left field:

1. The customer had actually paid for every item he had.  He was also in possession of the receipt.
2. The greeter was fired by Walmart for 'gross misconduct.'

"...and always remember to smile while receiving a customer issued beat down."

This decline in working conditions made the once seemingly easy job of being a Walmart greeter much less desirable.  Even a 100 year old woman wasn't safe from angry and physically aggressive Walmart shoppers.  This is probably what led to the greeter job pool going from generally friendly grandmas/grandpas to more in the vein of Tony Soprano's mom.

"The ending to the series finale?  My idea."

While I can’t prove the correlation, the Walmart greeters I have encountered in the 3 states I have lived in the past 10 years have fallen into 4 basic catagories.

The Interrogator

I’m all for Walmart greeters being friendly; the most important part of their job should be to make you feel welcome when you walk into the store.  But when I or almost anyone else makes the decision to walk into a Walmart, it is not for casual browsing; there is a desire to purchase a specific item or items cheaply and quickly.  We simply want to get it, pay for it, and leave.

But before you can make it past the threshold into the land of great savings, this happens:

Greeter:  Hello sir!  Welcome to Walmart!

Customer: <Silent nod and smile>

Greeter: Hey there, young fella!  You coming in today to buy that new Call of Duty game?

Customer: <Suddenly halting their forward motion>  Umm…no, just buying groceries.

Greeter: You don’t like video games?

Customer:  No, I do…I just wasn’t planning on buying it today.

Greeter:  Well why not?

At this point your mind is split between wondering why this man cares so much about your video game buying habits, and why you aren’t buying Call of Duty that day when you know that you will eventually.  The conversation is like a rope that continues to tighten as you try to back away towards the aisles.  When it finally ends/breaks, it is all you can do to keep from sprinting into the main part of the store.

That's when you realize that you never got a shopping cart, thus starting the terrible cycle over again.

The Easily Offended Shouter

We all like to think of ourselves as good people, but sometimes on our worst days, we aren't very good at being cordial or friendly.  When you're having a bad day, nothing can make it worse than having to make a stop at your local Walmart.

...and there's goes my desire to eat or live anymore."

While most of us will normally give a wave or say hello back to our friendly greeter, sometimes it can just slip your mind while you are dreading the terrible sights that await you in the frozen food aisle.


Customer: <Hurries through the door to quickly get their items>


Great.  Now you look like a jerk.  If your guilt has a "heavy wash" setting like mine, you then make the mistake of going back to say hello to the greeter...which gets you roped into a conversation about fiber levels and Obama's birth certificate.

Angry and Dead Inside

Walmart greeters can have bad days, too.  But some seem to be caught in a perpetual cycle of anger and despair.  When the greeter says the words "Welcome to Walmart," it is clear that they are actually welcoming you to his or her own personal hell. 

It is also a hell that is made possible by the fact that you and the person in hot pink shorts and a Ben Rothlisberger jersey keep shopping there.  But you get to leave...they must stay.  

"Each pin represents a customer that I have wanted to kill...today..."

Lazy and Potentially Comatose

This is the greeter that sits there and doesn't actually greet anybody.  They stare straight ahead, silently earning a paycheck every day for doing what many of us have to do at the DMV once every few years...bide our time and pretend that we are somewhere else.

But you know what?  After seeing some of the crap these guys have to put up with every day (along with their incoming cut in workable hours), I think I can live with that.  Walmart Greeters of America, I salute you...but you don't need to salute me back if you don't want to.

But let's keep our conversation short; I need to go pick up a video game.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Education Major Survival: Driving to the Classroom Observation is Half the Fun

(photo @ howstuffworks.com)

Any college students that are majoring in education must do classroom observations of local area public school teachers. This can often be a great way to gain an understanding of how a real classroom operates outside of the models and theories in the educator handbooks.  But as I’ve discussed before, these experiences can also serve as a frightening glimpse into a world that might make you consider throwing in the towel and majoring in communications like all your other friends.  

At the very least, some classroom observations should probably be a mandatory addendum to any sort of birth control or abstinence education program.

But today is not about discussing the observations themselves.  While they provide plenty of fodder for a good story, the trips to various schools near a college campus can be adventures in and of themselves. 

My friend Brad (who has accompanied me on ill fated observations before), was the one that often drove us to the various schools.  This was mostly due to the fact that I didn’t have a car for my first two years of college.  Once I did get one, it did not come with the inherent sense of direction that I so desperately needed.  I could get lost walking from the front door to my bedroom.  Brad, on the other hand, could find the lost city El Dorado if you gave him a few days.

...and a truck with 4 wheel drive.

One of the hardest parts of classroom observations is getting up in the morning.  Most schools (especially elementary schools) begin the day at an hour when most college students have just entered the deep/R.E.M part of their sleep cycle.  

As Brad pulled up to my dorm to pick me up, we would simply nod to each other silently and begrudgingly begin our journey.  The closest that we could that ever got to conversation was our palpable anger at having to be awake before the sun came up while the psychology majors wouldn't have to wake up until noon.

And that's just to catch a few CSI reruns.

During one particular adventure, our first stop was at a local high school to listen to observe the jazz band.  Since the rehearsal was before school, we arrived to a nearly empty school parking lot.  As Brad pulled into the school, I noticed that he passed a giant sign that read ‘EXIT ONLY.’  I used this opportunity to finally break our silence.

“Way to fight the man, Brad,” I said as he turned his head back towards the sign. 

“Ah crap,” he replied as he pulled into a parking space.  Brad rarely made mistakes (especially when driving and/or the law was concerned), so him pulling into an empty parking lot through the exit lane was about the closest I would get to something I could give him a hard time for. 

Little did we know that when I made a joke about “fighting the man,” that fight would be against a female police offer that was larger than both of us combined.  

...and focused on us instead of a turkey leg.

As we got out of the car, officer jogged over to us (which for her may have been a dead sprint) while screaming “SIR!!  SIR!!  YOU NEED TO STOP RIGHT THERE!!!”

We waited for her to cross the parking lot to meet us.  After about half an hour, she finally reached the car and began to aggressively confront Brad.

Now just so you’re clear on how bizarre this was for me to observe, Brad is the type of guy that can be diplomatic, friendly, and calm in nearly any given situation.  During the time I had known him, Brad had been pulled over by the police 5 times…and had never gotten a ticket.   The fact that a male was able to talk his way out of so many tickets without the benefit of a female form was astounding.

Christina Hendricks probably gets out of a lot of 
traffic tickets just by holding that stare for 30 seconds.

Brad was also a pretty good looking guy (at least that’s what every female friend or girl that I wanted to date told me), but I doubt that all 5 of those police officers who pulled him over were smitten ladies.  Unfortunately, this particular woman of the law was not impressed with Brad in the slightest.

"Sir, are you aware that you entered the parking lot through the exit lane?!" she barked.

"Yes ma'am," Brad replied in his polite, southern drawl.  "I'm really sorry.  I didn't even notice..."

"You see, what you did could have caused an accident," she angrily interrupted.  "And here at Henry Clay High School, WE DO NOT HAVE ACCIDENTS!  What you did was reckless and could have hurt someone!"

As Brad futility tried apologize to the police officer while she continued to berated him for entering an empty parking lot the wrong way, the sun began to peak through over the tree tops.  It should have been beautiful, but somehow the surreal combination of a gorgeous Kentucky sunrise and an irate school police officer screaming at my friend made me realize that this was going to be a long and horrible day.

Just kill me now...

The observation itself was uneventful...literally.  After finishing up the class by watching a student teacher spend 20 minutes trying to tune the jazz band on a single chord, we left to go to another observation.  On our way there, we decided to take advantage of being awake and on the road before 9:00 AM with a quick stop to get breakfast at Arby's.

"Hey boy!" she said with an accent that would make even most southerns cringe.  "Looks like someone hasn't been to get a haircut in a while!"

"Ummm....yeah," Brad responded with a chuckle and polite smile.  "Could I please have a breakfast biscuit..."

"Your hair's longer than some girls' hair is!" she interrupted.

"Yeah, I guess," Brad replied with zen-like patience.  "Could I please have..."

"You need to get a haircut!" she exclaimed, smiling broadly and displaying less teeth than either of us had reasonably expected.

Somehow, Brad was able to finally make his order.  As our cashier/hair style critic brought us our food, she looked at Brad and said:

"Hey hon, I'm just joking around.  Sorry if I made ya feel bad.  I didn't mean to make ya feel self confident."

Now before you think I made one of my usual typos, please know that I am fully aware that I type "self confident" rather than "self conscious"....because that's exactly what she said.

After eating breakfast, Brad and I drove to our next (and final) observation of the day.  We watched an orchestra teacher attempt to get a room full of 30 5th graders to play in tune, questioned many of our current life decisions, and finally began to head back towards campus.

After a few miles, we came across a huge oak tree that was standing by itself near the side of the road.  The branches were bare enough that we could see the tree was covered in birds.  The perching of hundreds and even thousands of birds on one tree (who will suddenly all at once fly away) is something I have only seen in Lexington, KY...and it can be terrifying.  You can be walking to class, walk by a tree, and out of nowhere you are surround by a million birds fluttering by you.

We have to keep moving!  Today is a lab assessment!

As we got closer to the tree, my thirst for revenge led me to suggest to Brad that as we got close, he should honk his car horn and scare the birds.  I'm not sure why Brad would ever listen to such a stupid suggestion from someone like me, but he did...and sure enough, the birds simultaneously launched themselves out of the branches in mass.

For about 4 seconds, Brad and I thought it was pretty funny.  This pretty much what our brief moment of joy and triumph sounded like:

Those brief seconds elation violently interrupted, however, by 3 loud thuds on the roof of Brad's car.  A split second later, Brad's 1986 Honda Accord was dive bombed by copious amounts of bird crap reigning down from the sky.

"HOLY CRAP!" Brad screamed over what sounded like a world ending hail storm.

"Birds are such jerks," I muttered as I rolled up my window and wiped off my arm.

We headed back to Brad's apartment, parked the car, and walked to class.  Since this was before the days of laptop computers being the norm in a college classroom, we were forced to actually listen to a sociology lecture for the next hour.

That day's lesson was about westward expansion.  I've got to admit, as bad as our trip was, those early American settlers had it a lot worse than we did....but I think my Arby's breakfast my have given me dysentery.

No one ever says that 2 hours later while sitting on the toilet.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Lessons Learned the Hard Way: If you are on a bus full of school children, "sneaking" a fart is impossible

During my first year of teaching, the chorus instructor at our school took me under her wing and helped me to avoid many of the pitfalls and disasters that happen to a lot of rookies in our profession. One of her greatest contributions (which I still use today) was when she showed me how to plan and run a field trip. While I have yet to achieve her level of insane attention to detail (my students do not memorize the emergency contact number to the tune of an obscure Jimmy Buffet song), it has helped me to continue having successful field trips with my middle school band program.

As part of my training during that first year on the job, the chorus teacher had me help chaperone her group's trip to Florida, which turned out to be a dream job: Well behaved kids, no performances to worry about, and 4 days worth of amusement parks.

Responsibility is awesome!

Unfortunately, the job also entailed eating copious amounts of amusement park food, which can in turn cause copious amounts of pooping and gas. But since amusement parks and hotels have plenty of bathrooms, this isn't really too much of a problem.  

On a 7 hour bus ride, however, things are a bit more complex.  

As we began our drive back from Orlando to Charleston, my bowels had spared me the need to brave the instability of a charter bus bathroom stall to drop a deuce. The build up of gas, however, had definitely become an issue.

An issue with life or death consequences for the people on our bus.

Now normally, I have no issue with letting one rip around family and friends. But middle school students and adult chaperons (who I had just met 4 days ago), were a very different story. And so as each urge to unleash the fury hit me, I gritted my teeth, squirmed in my chair, and held it in.

Eventually, the unbearable pressure that had built up along Interstate 95 had gotten me into the bargaining stage. I decided that if I slowly and carefully released the pent up gas, I could safely and silently provide myself with some much needed relief. I was seated at the front of the bus and many of the students were listening to their Ipods or asleep; even if I accidentally released a squeaker, the offense could easily be denied or the blame passed to nearby child.

I lifted my leg, took a deep breath...and completely succeeded based on the criteria of the fart being silent and of an untraceable origin. Unfortunately, I had not considered the "deadly" part of the silent flatulent equation.

There were two factors that clued me in to the fact that this would be a particularly noxious release of gas:

1. The air escaping from my large intestine was so hot that it burned on the way out. It felt as if my butt had been repurposed as a flame thrower.

2. While I had expected the release to be weak and to only last a few moments, it in fact lasted for nearly 30 seconds while steadily increasing in speed and intensity.  

At the 20 second mark, my surprise (and subtle yet strong sense of pride) turned into horror when I realized that this was happening in an enclosed space...and spreading. The two students behind me were the first ones to be hit.

"AWWW!!! Was that you?!" the boy snapped at his friend as he pulled off his headphones.  

"No man!" the friend responded through his t-shirt, which was now pulled up over his nose. "Is that even a fart? What the heck is that smell?!"

I quickly turned back around and tried to remain calm.

"Maybe they will be the only ones that smell it," I thought. That was when the chaperone seated across from me (who had been reading a book) suddenly made a gagging sound and also pulled her shirt up over her nose.

At that point, I knew things were going to be bad. Kids will always overreact to even the possibility or perception of someone passing gas...but a fellow adult having a violent physical reaction was confirmation that this one was the real deal.

Shirt over nose:  The universal symbol for a fart victim in distress.

I watched in horror as the students two seats behind me and behind the chaperone turned to each other, screamed, and pulled their shirts up over their noses. When it reached row three, one student actually woke up due to the smell wafting into their nostrils. I guess that the screams from their friends in front of them could have been what roused the student from her slumber, but most people don't suddenly awaken with their faces scrunched up while violently coughing and gasping for clean air.

By this point I had completely turned around in my seat to observe the destruction that I had wrought. My shirt was also pulled up over my nose, but not because of any adverse reaction to the biological weapon that I had unleashed; I not only was free of suspicion, but I couldn't even smell my own creation.  Instead, my shirt was pulled over my face to hide my uncontrollable laughter as I watched the fart travel from the the front of the bus all the way to the back.  

As my flatulent continued it's path of nasal assault down the aisle, chaperone and student alike screamed in agony. One chaperone got up from his seat and quickly headed for the front of the bus, hoping to find breathable air. About 5 steps into his journey, he realized that he was heading closer to the source, turned around, and collapsed back into his chair.

There's no escape!


After 60 more seconds of wailing and gnashing of teeth, the students and the chaperones finally regained the ability to breathe, settled down, and began feverishly questioning and accusing each other of hotboxing the entire bus. Any boy that wore clothes from the "husky" section at Sears spent the rest of the trip home taking the blame for my crime.

Since we we had taken multiple buses and my teaching mentor was on another one, she only heard about "some kid letting out an awful fart on Bus 5." She never knew that the "kid" was me...until now, I guess. (Sorry, Pam).  

While I would normally brag about such an accomplishment with any reservations, I honestly did feel a little guilty about this one. I also learned that no matter how careful you are, there is no safe way to let out and/or hide a fart on a bus full of kids. It's best just to hold it in and be irritable for the rest of the trip.

Or the truck drivers of America can provide you with some quick cover.

Please feel free to leave a comment below. If you'd like to sing my praises or tell me how terrible I am more personally, I can also be found on Twitter.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Friday the 13th's Unlucky Spotlight: Bobby Leach

(photo @ wikipedia)

All of us are unlucky sometimes. If you are alive to read this, however, you are probably not as unlucky as early 20th century stunt man, Bobby Leach.

Leach was the owner of a restaurant on Bridge Street near Niagara Falls. When Annie Taylor went over the falls in a barrel in 1901, he would often boast that anything Annie could do...he could do better (including quoting a musical for the purpose of making a horrible pun).

Leach planned to make good on his boasting, though. His goal was to complete a death defying "triple challenge" of the falls and the Niagara River. These challenges consisted of:
In addition to belittling a woman that had tried one of those stunts before him, Leach wanted to be known as a world class daredevil.

Only without the red tights and vision loss.

During Leach's attempt at braving the whirlpool, he became stuck and had to be rescued. Fortunately for him, he emerged from his barrel unharmed. He was not so lucky on his next task.

On July 25, 1911, Bobby Leach climbed inside of a steel barrel and successfully went over Niagara Falls...if your definition of success can also include two broken knee caps and a broken jaw.

"You see this red section?  That's what is making you scream in agony."

Still, he survived. After 6 months recuperating in a hospital, Leach had fully recovered and hit the road. He toured the United States, Canada, and England, telling people about his amazing feat, posing for pictures, and most likely picking up a lot of women that had a history of making poor life decisions.

Leach also decided to attempt to swim the Niagara Gorge (which he was unable to complete) and made good on his promise to parachute from the Upper Suspension Bridge (though he landed in Canada) because he apparently had an extreme death wish and/or addiction to adrenaline.  

Then in 1926, tragedy in the form of brutal, cold irony struck. While on a publicity tour in New Zealand, Bobby Leach slipped on an orange peel and fell to the ground. The four foot fall caused him to break his leg...which then became infected. After gangrene set in, Leach had to have the leg amputated.

Despite the extreme procedure to preserve his life, Bobby Leach died two months later due to complications from the injury and the resulting infection. The man that had survived a trip over Niagara Falls (along with multiple other stunts that had a high probability of death and permanent injury) had finally been bested by a piece of fruit.

So the next time you feel like complaining about having a flat tire of getting a speeding ticket, just remember that you still have your health...and your leg.

Now go celebrate being alive with a nice cold glass of orange juice

Please feel free to leave a comment below. If you'd like to sing my praises or tell me how terrible I am more personally, you can also find me on Twitter.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Lessons Learned the Hard Way: Automatic doors are not to be toyed with.

(photo @ doors-sliding.com)

When I was about 5 years old, I was walking into a grocery store with my dad when we encountered two sliding glass doors that did not have any handles.  Before my tiny brain could process a reason for why we were still walking towards an impending collision, my father thrust out his hand and in a loud, dramatic voice bellowed:


The doors heeded his command and  magically parted for us to enter the supermarket.  I was stunned.  My father had never told me about his godlike powers before, so naturally, I flipped out.

"OH WOW!!!  DAD...HOW DID YOU DO THAT?  CAN YOU TEACH ME???"  I screamed with excitement.  My father allowed me to believe he was a sorcerer for the rest of the trip, but when we got home, he finally relented (most likely due to my incessant begging that he teach me the ways of telekinesis).

If he hadn't, my next step would have been to "accidentally" fall into this

He explained to me that the door was connected to a sensor that detected when someone got near the door.  Once someone was close enough, the sensor would send a message to the doors so that they would open.

Despite the fact that this explanation still had a bit of a mythical quality, it lacked the excitement of I had before when believing that our family bloodline was imbued with mutant powers.  Still, I was intrigued.  If the doors were opened or closed due to a sensor, than there must be a way to trick that sensor so that it didn't work properly.

Now I'm not sure why I instantly went with "let's figure out how to make the system fail," but anyone that has any experience being an adolescent male will understand this way of thinking.  If we discover that something is supposed to work based off of an exploitable system, then we must find a way to bring it down.

Some people never grow out of this phase.

From that day forward, I would always hope for a chance to fool the doors by seeing if I could sneak up on it or run fast enough to make the sensor unable to open them when I was close.  These opportunities were few and far between:  They relied upon my dad and I both going to the grocery store and him forgetting to tell me to stop acting like an idiot and get inside the store.

One day, however, my father made the terrible mistake of allowing me to stand outside while he ran in to get a few things.  By this point I was 11 years old, so he probably he thought that I was mature enough to stand outside of a supermarket without doing something completely idiotic.

He thought wrong.

If someone had tried to put this in front of my house, I wouldn't have stopped them

I took full advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity to have unbridled access to the automatic door without much interference; it was the middle of the day, there were hardly any shoppers, and as I said before, my father was inside.  After a few futile attempts using my old hit and run methods from before, I looked down and noticed that the door would open whenever my feet crossed over a certain point.  Unlike the current overhead automatic door sensors (that you see in the first picture), this one had a wire that ran under the floor mat that lead into the entryway.

"That's it!"  I thought.  "If I can just jump over the wire that's right here, I can finally fool the sensor so that the doors won't open."

This is the point where my thought process ended and action began.  I gave no regard to the consequences of what may happen once I had accomplished my goal.  All I cared about was finally showing that I could defeat the obstacle/challenge that I had decided was mine to overcome.

No one told me that this was a roundabout

I backed up, got a running start, and hurled myself through the air like a rabid gazelle.  Sure enough, the sensor for the door did not activate, just as I had predicted.  Immediately after realizing my incredible accomplishment, I was met with a dose of harsh reality in the form of two very hard and closed glass doors.

I slammed into them with all the unbridled force and reckless abandon I'd had while leaping over the sensor's grasp.  The door frame rattled with a loud thud and repelled me back onto the pavement.  The door the slowly opened and then closed, mocking me as I laid on the ground in agony and shame.

By the time my father had walked back outside, I had picked myself back up off the ground, but my pride and dignity was still embedded inside of a glass door on a metal frame.

I learned 2 very important lessons that day:

1.  Sometimes it's best to think about the results of your actions before you take them.
2.  The sensor can totally be fooled.    

And it's totally not worth it.

Please feel free to leave a comment below. If you'd like to sing my praises or tell me how terrible I am more personally, I can also be found 
on Twitter.

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