Mar 24

Ahhh… remember back to the days of your youth.  These were magical years where your future seemed so bright.  Remember?  From the end of August to mid-May, you learned and played sports and hung out with your friends all day.  But summer was when the true magic happened.  Summers were a seemingly endless period of long, hot days and cool, enchanted nights.  You could ride your bike with your friends day after day and it never got old.  As young boys, my friends and I would ride bikes and play catch and start a pick-up game of kickball of football and hike paths and climb trees and hang-out at our favorite stores (… uh… it was Fort Peck, Montana, so there was only one) and swim at the pool or at the lake and, as we got older, appreciate the way our rapidly-maturing female friends were filling out their bathing suits in spectacular new ways… and the summers seemed to last an eternity.

As we got older, some of us started getting summer jobs, and some of us got jobs year-round.  School got harder, and we had to start really thinking about our futures.  Then, college called to some of us, and some of us went straight to full-time, real-world work; but we still held tight to our dreams.  Those of us who went to college soon joined our working friends.  During these years, many of us fell in love, got married, started families; the dreams were still there.

Our kids started to grow up.  Soon, we could see our kids enjoying many of the same things we enjoyed in our youth, and we were starting to feel a little old.  The dreams were still hanging on, but we began to wonder how we were going to accomplish them with a full family life.  Oh well, maybe after the kids are grown and on their own.

Soon, we start living vicariously through our kids. Maybe we want our kid to be that great sports star we never were.  Or maybe we want our kid to be the genius we were never smart enough to be.  Or perhaps we want our kid to be the singer or actor or musician we never had the confidence to attempt to find within ourselves.  Our dreams migrate to the purgatory of our consciousness, awaiting the day when they will either realize the joyous fruition of heavenly accomplishment or be cast to the inescapable torment of hellish failure.  We start trying to help our children with their dreams, which are merely extensions of the dreams we had in our youth.  We start to realize that our age is actually catching up with us.

We become obnoxiously proud parents, praising the accomplishments of our children as if they were our own… often to the major annoyance of most other adults around us.  Soon, we find that other adults begin to avoid us because they really don’t care how good little Jimmy’s baseball team did… or how excellent little Susie’s dance recital went.  We become monsters who seem intent at driving everyone away from us… everyone except our families.  We scream at the umpires or referees at a game because their calls made our kid’s team lose.  We badmouth the teacher who doesn’t truly see our child’s intelligence.  We harbor ill-will toward the second-chair trumpet player who screwed up during the concert and made our first-chair child look bad.  We become bearers of vehement hate toward every single person or thing that interferes with our child’s success.  Our age is no longer catching up with us; it has caught us and is a driving force in our lives.

Our children, meanwhile, are oblivious.  They are focusing on having fun and creating their own dreams.

Soon, the kids are off to college or work, and we have the houses to ourselves again.  We are still focusing on the dreams of our kids.  We give career advice.  We warn them of the mistakes we made along the way.  We tell them what they should do to be happy, which is really what we should have done to be happy.  Our hindsight is, for the most part, ignored by our children.

Our kids are now adults, they are working full-time, many of them are happily married… and before you know it, we’re grandparents.  Our kids seem to have put their dreams on hold in an attempt to help their kids create new dreams.  Finally, there is time for us to focus on our dreams once again, so we search.  We search our consciousness for those dreams of our youth.  We search for the motivation to once again bring them to the front of our minds.  Funny thing is, when we search for our dreams, the smell of brimstone becomes overpowering, and just the thought of trying to accomplish those dreams makes us very tired.  We have moved beyond old and are now ancient.

Ahhh… it was nice to have dreams.  Too bad we never found the time or will to accomplish them.  What to do now?  Ooooh… looks like the grand kids could use some help with their dreams…

Tagged with:
Mar 18

I have really big plans for this blog.  Someday, I will make enough money with this blog that I can spend all of the time that I now devote to my job doing nothing more than bitching about stuff here all day.  You know what they say, do something you love, and it won’t really be “work”.  Well, bitching is about the only thing I do that I really enjoy, so this has to be the answer to my prayers… at some point… right?  Oh please, let it be so.

Okay, so to make money with a blog, you have to… uh… COME ON!  There has to be a way to make money with a blog! Every once in awhile, I put a link to something on Amazon on here.  I’m an Amazon Associate, which means I can get commission if someone clicks one of those links and actually buys something from Amazon.  I have been an Amazon Associate for about two years, and I have actually made some money doing it.  Of course, I haven’t seen any of that money yet.   Amazon won’t actually pay anything out until you have built up at least $10 in commission… and I haven’t hit that mark yet.  In another three or four years, I should get my first $10 check from Amazon.

$10

I’m stoked!

There is also Google Ads.  I could have a list of stupid links on the side of my blog with Google ads and I would get paid every time someone clicks one of those links.  Happy Stinking Joy doesn’t really have a lot of visitors, and, at this point, I’d rather have you stay and read my thoughts than get distracted by the ads on the side and leave my site.  Also, it would mess up my ultra-professional layout… or something.

I haven’t exactly had an onslaught of individual advertisers approaching me with bids for some of the precious real estate on my site.  I guess rant sites aren’t real popular with traditional advertisers.  Before I’m going to see any real revenue from this site, I’m going to have to get more than a handful of people coming here on a daily basis.

Most popular blogs seem to fall into a couple of categories, the first of which is the “expert” blogger.  You know, these are the Seth Godins of the world who share all kinds of free insight into crap that they are experts about.  Their whole ploy is to give you “free advice” to make you feel like a friend, and then they try to sell their books to you or try to talk you into hiring them to do consulting or speaking engagements.  Well, my forty-one-years of life have not exactly led me to become much of an expert at anything.  I know a little about a lot, but a lot about little.  I have been too busy chasing the next-step-up in middle-class pay to stay with any one company in any given field for more than a couple of years.  If your current promotions and pay increases aren’t getting you where you want to be: quit, and maybe the next job will take you where you want to go.  Of course, the next job never does.  So, I’ve had the opportunity to work with all kinds of interesting people in many different fields, but I haven’t stuck around any of them long enough to actually have become an expert at anything.  I’m an expert bitcher, but companies aren’t going to hire me to give a “bitch seminar” to their workforce… at least not yet.  I figure if I pray about it long enough, God, if nothing else, will get tired of me asking and either give it to me just to shut me up or strike me dead…

Strike me Dead

… either of which would lead to no more Monday mornings dreading work.

The other major category of successful bloggers seems to be those who cover current events.  Whether it be Perez Hilton covering the latest embarrassments of the rich and famous, or any of the slew of Yahoo! bloggers covering the latest in world events; people who get the story first tend to get a following.  I think this may be the route I need to follow.  I need to get the hot stories first.  Of course, I live in Nebraska, so the celebrity fodder may be a little out of my grasp.

Miss America

Ooh… Ooh… Miss America is from my part of Nebraska, so I could dedicate my blog to digging up all of the crap I can to humiliate Miss America I did a little blog about Miss America right after she won and it was actually one of the most visited rants I have posted!  But… I have a pretty strong suspicion that Teresa Scanlan is almost as squeaky clean as you would think a Miss America should be. I bet she actually believes what she says she believes, and I don’t think that “Miss America thought about skipping church once because she was just too tired to go, but then she prayed about it and changed her mind” will draw a lot of visitors to my little site.

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So, I’ve got to find a way to get the latest and greatest news before anybody else.  This is a “must” if I ever want to make this thing my sugar daddy.  Okay, so here it goes:

Breaking news… Charlie Sheen has gone insane!  The impact was devastating.  Damages are estimated… oh, great, my kid just looked over my shoulder and informed me that this is old news.  Okay, I guess I need to find something a little more “hot”.

Alright, I just did a Google search for “breaking news” and I don’t think I’m going to be able to go this route.  It seems that all of the “news” sites already have the breaking news covered.  The news sites and a bunch of Twitter people.  I don’t tweet or chirp or cockadoodledoo… or whatever it is that those people do.  I’m not quite hip enough for that.  Besides, all I’d be able to add to the Twitter conversation would be unique things I’m experiencing.

“It’s windy in Nebraska… again!”

Windy Trees

See, it just doesn’t work.

Hmmm… I gotta figure something out.  Okay, I know, I could just make kind of creative news stories.  No, that wasn’t “make up news stories”, it was “make kind of creative news stories”.  There’s… uh… sort of a difference.

Breaking news…. There is a humongous oil leak in the… uh… Gulf of Istanbul.  Yeah, and it’s causing infertility in the… uh… Great Northern Spike-Backed Whale.  Oh, you should hear the sad song those poor whales are singing at this moment.  It would make you cry.

PETA

Okay... yeah... I don't know what Alicia Silverstone being a Vegetarian has to do with "funny whale oil leaks" either, but a Google image search came up with this. I love Google...

This just in… apparently the oil spill was caused by… uh… Miss America!  Yeah, that’s it!  Apparently Miss America was on a diplomatic mission to Alderan and she and her entourage accidentally knocked over a big oil thingie in the Gulf of Istanbul.  Anti-American sentiment is through the roof in the countries bordering the Gulf… and by Great Northern Spiked-Back Whale lovers around the world!  Check back to this site often for more of the latest…

This just may work 😉

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Feb 12

So I watched The Social Network last night.  My oldest son just turned 13, and he really wanted to see this movie, and this movie is PG-13, so we got it for him for his birthday.  If you live in a cave, you might not know that The Social Network is the story of how Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook.

Facebook Mark Z

We all enjoyed the movie.  I thought they were only able to drop one F-bomb in a PG-13 movie, but it looks like this one was able to get away with a couple.  The language and some of the implied sexual content made me a little uncomfortable watching this with my son (The Suite Life of Zack & Cody’s Brenda Song goes all Monica Lewinski in a bathroom stall… which was odd to watch with a boy who has grown up watching that particular show).

Brenda Song

Overall, however, this was a good flick.  It was kind of cool to see how one of the world’s most addictive on-line presences got its start.  It’s kind of funny, the Mark Zuckerberg character is not very likeable, but you just can’t hate him.  He is emotionally immature, self-centered, egotistical, arrogant… highly intelligent and hard not to kind of like.  He screws over his girlfriend, his best friend, and a group of preppies that are counting on him.  In fact, he appears to only have his interests in mind with almost every decision he makes.  Still, you can’t help but root for the dorky little jerk.  Whether or not the real Mark Zuckerberg is anything like the character played by Jesse Eisenberg, who knows.  Not me, for sure.  I am neither in the same social strata as young billionaire geniuses nor successful Hollywood actors.

I bet that a lot of people who have not seen this movie (or who haven’t gone to a prestigious college in the last few years) will not know that Facebook was started as an ultra-exclusive, Harvard-student-only website.  Quickly, Zuckerberg let it spread to other prestigious universities, and then less prestigious universities, and then, when the true monetary potential of Facebook came into focus… the world.  In the original plans for Facebook, us average folks weren’t included.

I remember a few years ago, I had a recent college graduate as a coworker. He had graduated from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.  I had recently started a Facebook account, and I was talking to him about it.  He made a comment about how “Facebook just isn’t the same since it isn’t exclusively college students anymore.”  I took offense at his statement.  I felt he was saying that us old timers and regular Joes were ruining something that had once been “hip” and “fun”. How dare we reconnect with relatives and old friends.  How dare we stay in contact with people who would have normally faded silently into our pasts.  If I had known then what I know now, I may have said something like, “Yeah, I bet that’s the same thing the preppies at Harvard thought when they started to let a bunch of cornhusker hicks from UNL join Facebook.”  Hahaha… sometimes hindsight makes me feel kind of good.

Watching a good movie should do one of two things:

1. let you escape from reality, or

2. make you think.

The Social Network , for me, did both.  I enjoyed watching the snotty people get what was coming to them.  I enjoyed seeing how Facebook got its slightly-shady start.  As far as the thinking goes, it made me wonder why , in the grand scheme of things, some people are smarter than others, thus giving them an unfair advantage in the ability to come up with cool ideas and make a crapload of money.  Why am I not one of those brilliant people?  I know… I know… anyone can learn anything and you are only limited by your ability to sacrifice and learn and blah blah blah blah… that’s a load of phooey.

**SEE, look at ME, I’m all old using words like PHOOEY, for crying out loud.**

Some people are just naturally smarter than other.  Some people have a definite advantage in the race to success.  Of course, in the case of the movie versionof Mark Zuckerberg, he kind of screwed over a lot of people to get there.  Part of me thinks his sacrifice is not something I could bring myself to do.  The other part of me… the sane, rational part… thinks that for a net worth of that is now probably in the tens of billions of dollars, I may have screwed over a friend or two along the way as well :) But since I ain’t real smart or nothin’, I’ll just keep tryin’ the way I have been tryin’ most my life…

Filthy Rich

Tagged with:
Nov 08

Lee, the winner of the first Happy Stinking Joy Scavenger Hunt, made good on his promise to send me a picture of him in his first place prize. So, without further ado…..
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Happy Stinking Joy,happystinkingjoy.com,scavenger hunt,contest,free

Man, that is one good looking piece of work.  I know that after everyone sees this picture, they are gonna fall in love… with the shirt!  If I do another one of these scavenger hunts, you will have your own chance to win one of these beauties.  And as you can tell from the picture, they look good on almost anything!  :)

Tagged with:
Oct 24

UPDATE:  10/28/2010:  WE HAVE A WINNER… TO BE ANNOUNCED SOON!!!

PLEASE READ THE ENTIRE INTRODUCTION AND INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE BEGINNING SCAVENGER HUNT!!!

INTRODUCTION:

The first ever Happy Stinking Joy Web Scavenger Hunt begins RIGHT NOW! The first (and only) prize is a t-shirt made with my semi-gay, semi-grotesque logo thrown on the front.  The t-shirt is available in a multitude of colors and sizes, including and limited to “white” and “X-large”.

The scavenger hunt is relatively simple. Further down in this post, you will find a list of 20 links to websites and questions regarding information that can be found on those websites. The first person to get me the correct answers to the questions I have asked will win the t-shirt. Pretty cool, huh?

INSTRUCTIONS:

Answers to the questions must be submitted via the “Tiny Contact Form” found on my website.  For example, if question #1 is “What color is red?” and question #2 is “What color is green?”, you would click on the links provided. When you scour the site and discover the answers to the questions, you would go to my “Tiny Contact Form”, type your name, your email address, and put “Scavenger Hunt” as the subject. In the message portion of the form, you would put something like the following:

“1. red” (’cause that’s the color of red)

“2. green” (’cause that’s the color of green)

…and so on and so forth, until you have answers to all of the questions. Some will be relatively easy and some will relatively hard.  Some of you may feel tempted to try to find answers to the questions at sites other than the sites found through the links provided: do so at your own risk! Although the answers on the sites I provide may be found in other places… or may be incorrect on the sites I provide… I am looking for very specific information from the sites provided, and only these answers will be correct for this scavenger hunt… period!  The first person who gets all of the correct answers submitted to me through my Tiny Contact Form wins the shirt. I will contact the winner via email to get his or her shipping address to ship the shirt to.  I will use the “time received” notification from my Outlook as the final determining time for awarding the prize. I reserve the right to eliminate any entry for any reason whatsoever, including, but not limited to: spelling errors, partially complete answers, and whatever else comes to mind now or later. Any owners, authors, or employees of any of the websites used in this scavenger hunt are ineligible from winning any prizes (but, feel free to participate in the hunt just for fun).  The winner agrees to let me publish his or her name and region of the country (for this scavenger hunt, I’m limiting it to residents of the United States only… international shipping isn’t something I’m interested in getting into at this point) on happystinkingjoy.com, and it would be cool if the winner would send me an email picture of him/herself wearing the shirt-prize to post as well, but I’m only requesting… not demanding…

I will list the results of the scavenger hunt within 48 hours of receiving the winning submission.  Thank you to everyone who is checking this out.  I hope you all have fun, and I wish you all the best of luck!

Okay, are we ready?  Let’s get set!  GO!!!

1. On this home school blog , there are some very useful product reviews… including one for The Handbook of Vintage Remedies. By what percentage is the immune system lowered by the intake of sugar products, and for up to how long?

2. Jokes are always fun, if not always funny. On this joke site , there is a bar joke about Sadar. He walks into a New York bar, listens to a conversation, and says something. What does he say? Yeah, I know… I don’t get it either :)

3. This NFL team sucks in almost every imaginable way, but they do have one thing going for them… and that thing involves pom poms 😉 The 2011 Swimsuit Calendar for these hotties was shot on location in Mexico; what is the name of the stretch of Mexican coastline where it was shot?

4. This website offers advice for the average schmo to gain control of his or her finances. Many people will testify as to the difference that this website and program have made in their financial lives. So, with that in mind, what did Pamela S. from Georgia find her credit rating at after implementing some of this program’s advice?

5. The poignant poem “Mullet Inspiration” by Jill and Nichole H. found at this site is not only a rhyming masterpiece (seriously, even though it doesn’t always make sense, it rhymes), but the love the narrator has for mullets cannot be denied. Since what year has the narrator been growing his/her mullet?

6. This bizarre site offers some interesting ways to look at life. The author of this site has some very stringent recommendations for a healthy diet. In fact, if you get your Chakras all in alignment and whatnot, you may not need actual food at all. The author of this sight states that there are humans living today who receive their sustenance entirely from what non-food? See, why couldn’t the person who wrote the Sadar joke have had a sense of humor like this?

7.  The site for our local library encourages visitors to become “friends of the library”.  How much would it cost an individual to have a lifetime membership as a “friend”?

8.  Who doesn’t think motorcycle racing is cool?  I think motorcycle racing is cool, and so does this site.  In fact, this site is so into motorcycle racing that it has an “Official Car”?!?  Really, I ain’t kidding!  What is the “Official Car” of this motorcycle racing site?

9. Ahh… a fellow blogger.  This site is funny (some of it is adult humor).  A depressed chick making her way through life, what could be funnier… except maybe a dude dealing with a mid-life crisis, but I digress.  Her family includes a dog named Coco.  What kind of dog is Coco?

10.  Who can’t get enough of LOLcats?  Yeah, I’ve had enough too.  However, there is a site that not only has the disgustingly cute LOLcat pictures, but it has some pretty cool merchandise available!  There’s this t-shirt… hahaha… about Pluto… hahaha… that starts, “Silly Pluto”… hahaha…  what is the rest of the saying on the shirt?

Alrighty, boys and girls, you’re half way home!  Time to relax, maybe take a breather.  That first half wasn’t so bad, now was it?  Ten down and ten to go, right?  Go grab a soda pop and a slice of cold pizza from the fridge… except there is probably someone who has already moved on… and YOU WANT THAT STUPID T-SHIRT… SO THERE IS NO TIME TO WASTE!  GET YOUR BUTT MOVING, SOLDIER!  WHAT ARE YOU: A SPINELESS JELLYFISH, DRIFTING SLOWLY IN THE OCEAN WHILE LIFE & OPPORTUNITY PASS YOU BY… OR ARE YOU A TRUE ADVENTURER ?  BTW, the links may be a little more difficult to find in the second half of the hunt 😀

11.  This next website is by another fellow blogger… but she has only written a couple of posts and her site seems (thus far) to focus on the “stinking” part of life that I attempt to make fun of in my blog.  Check out this butterfly’s blog, because her inspiration to start her blog (which she needs to write in WAY more often) is AWESOME!  She writes of the blogger who inspired her to start her own blog, and she writes that he and his blog are full of “_____, _____ and _____”.  Surprisingly, none of the answers begin with “s” and end with “t”, but filling in the three blanks is the answer to this question.

12.  Okay, on to a musical siren’s site.  Okay, she isn’t really a siren in the “musical” sense (’cause her singing isn’t really that good)… more in the “seductress” sense of Greek mythology, but whatever!  Whoever said “blondes have more fun” hasn’t, apparently, checked-out many non-blondes!  On this site, you will discover that the singer is going to be in a fashion show on November 30th of this year.  What is the name of the sexy fashion show?  Double whammy… second part of the question: what is the location where will she be performing live on April 5, 2011 (it’s almost like my hometown).

13.  This movie was okay… just okay… but I feel some sort of personal connection to the main character… probably because I’m a major stud… or not.  What is the main character’s full name (first name, middle initial, and last name)?

14.  WOW… talk about an ADVENTURER ! This Nebraska entrepreneur (the husband of a husband-and-wife team) holds a world record for traveling over 5300 miles in 43 days using what mode of transportation (manufacturer and model are part of the answer)?

15. I had this site commented as a suggestion on my blog post asking for suggestions for websites to use in this scavenger hunt… or some other such confusing, seemingly run-on sentence.  When I first visited the site, I thought ‘Way too chickie and feminine for me to admit I had read it and found some meaningless tidbit of info to use in the hunt’… then I noticed Charlie.  Charlie is pretty cool.  The blogger/photographer/whatever wrote a post about Charlie and had a picture of him in a bath of light.  She made a very profound statement about Charlie.  She says that there is this pattern for beings like Charlie… you have to, from time to time, be there and welcome them with open arms.  ‘Cause the Charlies of the world tend to realize that they’re __________ again.  Fill in the blank.

16.  This site is pretty cool.  A coworker of mine is a co-owner of this site (in fact, almost all of my coworkers have their own websites… we work at an Internet company, so we’re kinda geeky like that… and 4 of my coworkers’ sites appear in this hunt).  One of the DJs conducted an interview with the lovely Joy Whitlock.  In that interview, Joy discusses the meaning of the word “beautiful”.  In the interview, Joy states that when she thinks of the word “beautiful”, she immediately thinks of _______.  Fill it in.

17.  This blogger, in one of his posts, touches discusses exactly how fast we need our Internet to be.  If you really think about it, the Internet speed we actually need to increase the quality of our lives isn’t nearly as fast as one may think.  In fact, according to this blogger (who uses as an example the world class broadband connections of South Korea), ultra-fast speeds often are little more than an enabler for online-gaming addition.  In South Korea, there may already be an entire generation of kids turning into ______ _______.  Fill in the blanks.

18.  I like short stories.  So, here we go.  This particular story is one of my all time favorites.  The answer will be in three parts, and you can just separate the answers with commas on my Tiny Contact Form.  For the Lottery, who assembled first?  Who is the oldest man in town?  Who selected “… a stone so large she had to pick it up with both hands…”?

19.  People often ask me why I’m so hard on the Craphandle of Nebraska.  What is it about the Scottsbluff, NE area that drives me so absolutely nuts?  Well, anyone who spends a little time at Walmart will be injected with all of the negative energy that this place puts off.  Don’t want to visit Walmart, then stop in the local Verizon store when it first opens in the morning and count how many f*bombs you hear come from the mouths of people waiting in line.  Many people in this area seem to feel a sense of entitlement, and when they don’t get exactly what they want exactly when they want it, they want everyone within ear-shot to know exactly how upset they are.  That kind of negativity tends to rub off.  If the negative energy isn’t enough, there is the fact that wages aren’t exactly stellar… which probably leads to the negative energy flying off of so many of the residents here.  The organization that offers this website attempts (very poorly, in my opinion)  to bring new businesses to the Craphandle.  On this site, the economic development association provided some census-style data.  Included in this data is a snapshot of data from Scotts Bluff County.  According to the snapshot from 2008, what is the per capita income for the average resident in Scotts Bluff County.  If you are thinking that this number cannot be right, this figure is about half of what the average individual in the United States made in 2008 (according to http://bber.unm.edu/econ/us-pci.htm)  Also, from this same 2008 snapshot, which household income level finds the largest number of households resting in its range?  Yes, this is a two-part question with two answers… and yes, it is a shock anyone wants to call this place home.

20.  Best blog on the Internet… PERIOD… or not.  Man Toes seem to be an issue for this blogger.  What is the name of the restaurant where preppy-boy-freak-long-toe and Mr. 65+ almost ruined the consumption of World-Class pizza?

That’s it… that’s all!  Thanks for checking it out, and I hope you had fun :)

Tagged with:
Oct 23

Alrighty, kiddies, The first-ever Happy Stinking Joy scavenger hunt is right around the corner! The official Scavenger Hunt will begin this Sunday, 10/24/2010, at 6:00 pm MST and will show up here as a post on this blog. What else do you have to do on a Sunday evening… church is over, no work until the next day, a free t-shirt up for grabs… you know you have time for this :)  I had a special t-shirt made with my semi-gay, semi-grotesque logo thrown on the front for the grand prize, and it is screaming to get out of my house (or maybe that’s my wife screaming to get the stupid t-shirt out of the house… whatever!) The scavenger hunt will be relatively simple. I will ask questions about specific websites, and within the questions will be links to the sites.  By “hunting” through the site, answers to the questions can be found.  The first person to get me the correct answers to the questions I have asked will win a Happy Stinking Joy X-large t-shirt.  Pretty cool, huh? Answers to the questions must be submitted via the “Tiny Contact Form” found on my website.

For example, if question #1 is “What color is red?” and question #2 is “What color is green?”, you would click on the links provided. When you scour the site and discover the answers to the questions, you would go to my “Tiny Contact Form”, type your name, your email address, and put “Scavenger Hunt” as the subject. In the message portion of the form, you would put something like the following:

“1. red” (’cause that’s the color of red)

“2. green” (’cause that’s the color of green)

…and so on and so forth, until you have answers to all of the questions.  Some will probably be relatively easy and some will probably be relatively hard. The first person who gets all of the correct answers to me wins the shirt.  I will contact the winner via email to get his or her shipping address to ship the shirt to. I will use the “time received” notification from my email client as the final determining time for awarding the prize. I reserve the right to eliminate any entry for any reason whatsoever, including, but not limited to: spelling errors, partially complete answers, and whatever else comes to mind now or later. The winner agrees to let me publish some form of his or her name and region of the country (for this scavenger hunt, I’m limiting it to residents of the United States only… international shipping isn’t something I’m interested in getting into at this point) on happystinkingjoy.com, and it would be cool if the winner would send me an email picture of the winner wearing the shirt-prize to post as well, but I’m not going to require that…

The scavenger hunt will appear as a post on my blog and will start, once again, Sunday, October 24th, at 6:00 Mountain Standard Time.  I want to thank everyone in advance who decides to embark on this adventure :)

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Sep 28

Alrighty, kiddos, Adventurer Rich is looking for some help.  I have the gall to call myself “Adventurer” when I rarely, if ever, actually “adventure”.  Oh sure, I have my little adventures with Boy Scouts… and I consider my time spent amongst trailer folk at Walmart a semi-adventure… even daily life could be considered an “adventure (in “adventure’s” mildest form), but I never really truly “adventure”.  All of that is about to change…

I’m looking for your favorite websites.  You know, those wacky pages on the Internet that you visit on occasion (or daily… or every fifteen minutes…) looking for humor or advice or just a little escape.  I am not looking for social networking sites like Facebook or your E*Trade account or any site that requires a login to access.  I am looking for blogs and advice columns and fun places you like to visit.  I will visit these sites, pick the ones I like, chose random information from these sites, compile a list of links, post the links on this blog… and let the scavenger hunt begin!  It will be up to my loyal readers to follow the links, search the sites, find the information I am looking for, and return your answers to me  (seriously… this is gonna be a blast for all ten of you!)  There’s gonna be a prize and everything… don’t know what it will be yet, but I’m sure it will be relatively cheap and stupid… but YOU COULD WIN IT!!!  I won’t even charge you shipping to get it to you :)

So you’re wondering, “How can I help Adventurer Rich and submit my favorite website?”  Well, it’s all really easy.  Just comment on this post with a link to your favorite site.

1. At the top of the blog post, where it says “No Comments” or “6 Comments” or whatever, click on that link; this should automatically take you to the comments section of this post.  Under the incredibly long list of comments, you will find the section where you can “Leave a Reply”.

2. You will need to enter your name (please do not enter your real full name… ’cause it will be available to anyone and everyone on the Internet who ever happens to stumble across my site… enter your first name or a nickname or make up a really “cool” Internet name… like “Adventurer Rich”, but that’s already taken…)

3. You will have to enter your email address.  Please do enter your real, legitimate email address.  I will not sell or give away your address, but I may at some point use it to notify you of contest dates and such.  Your email address will only be accessible to me… and I’m relatively harmless…

4. Enter the website address of the site you would like me to check out.  If it’s your own site, SUPER COOL!  If it is the site of someone else, that’s pretty cool too:)

5. Please re-enter the address of the site you would like me to check out in the “message” section (this is the big box under the “website” box).  By putting this information in the message section of the site, everyone who visits my comments will be able to know your favorite site!  Also, please give me a very brief description of why I should visit the site (i.e. why you like it).

I have a few of my favorite sites in mind that I already plan on using for my scavenger hunt, but I need many more to make this challenging and fun :)  I have very few restrictions as to which sites I will or will not use, I just have to like it.  I do ask that the content of the site be PG-13 or cleaner.  There are a few young people who stumble across my site, and I don’t want to lead them into the world of porn and obscenity… I’ll leave that to Google.

I would like to have all recommendations entered by Saturday, October 2, 2010 at noon.  I will not consider any sites submitted after that date and time for this scavenger hunt.

One final way you can help out old Adventurer Rich is to hit the “Like” button at the bottom of this post if you have a Facebook account.  This will let all of your Facebook friends who are not my Facebook friends see this post and they too can contribute their sites!  I guess if you know how to “Digg This”, you could do that as well; I’ve just been too lazy to research a good plugin to add that feature to my site :)

Thanks for visiting my site… thanks for taking the time to read this post… and thanks for helping me start a true adventure :)

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Sep 15

I have come to the conclusion that the negative attitude I hold toward all things Nebraska is starting to have a negative impact on my health.  My family has an ongoing rivalry with heart disease, and heart disease seems to be winning.  All of the males (and some of the females) on my dad’s side of the family have battled high blood pressure and I am no exception.  I can actually feel my blood pressure rise when I get stressed, and I am constantly getting stressed.  The stress gets so bad that, once it kicks in, I can’t concentrate.  My thoughts flutter around my head like moths around a campfire.  If I try to pull those thoughts into my psyche to concentrate on, the thoughts, much like the moths, burst into flames and are forgotten.  The feelings of hopelessness then descend in waves, and I actually begin to question my sanity.  Ever felt like you were going crazy?  Not a good time.  Stress makes me feel like I’m going crazy.

In order to try to alleviate a little of the stress I feel in my life, I decided to focus this entry on something about the panhandle of Nebraska that actually makes me happy.  That’s right, I’m going to try to find a positive angle to follow on something.  Finding something in the panhandle that I don’t perceive as completely sucking is not easy, but I’m going to give it a shot.

Nebraska is known for its beef: marbled, corn-fed beef that practically melts in your mouth.  If you want a truly great rib-eye steak (perhaps the best rib-eye on the planet), and you want to experience that steak in a truly Nebraska-esque setting, there is only one place to go…

The Oregon Trail Wagon Train.

Oregon Trail Wagon Train

The Oregon Trail Wagon Train is a local landmark.  It used to be known as “Gordon Howard’s” until the Howard family sold it.  I’m sure that most folks are familiar with a chuck-wagon-style cookout.  Many of the touristy places in the West and Midwest have these kinds of cookouts, but most of them serve crap like barbecue beef or barbecue chicken… you know, the shredded stuff that goes on a bun… and with most of them, you are paying for the experience (because the food sucks).

I remember going to the Flying T chuck-wagon supper last summer near Rapid City, SD.  It was over $20 per adult, the food was not impressive, and the portions didn’t come close to filling me up.  The staff was kind of rude and barked orders to the paying customers (which, I guess, is supposed to be part of the charm).  There was some good-old country music after the meal (if you like good-old country music… which I don’t) and the band tried to hawk their CDs the whole time.  I love Rapid City… the Black Hills are one of my favorite areas to visit… but I will never go back to the Flying T.  There are much better places to eat in the Black Hills.

Anywho, back to a good chuck-wagon meal.  At the Oregon Trail Wagon Train, the ambiance is pretty rustic.

Oregon Trail Wagon Train,Nebraska,panhandle

They have a horse-drawn wagon and they take you for a short ride.  Usually on the wagon ride, the driver will point out spots in the vicinity that were actually part of the Pony Express trail. It’s pretty cool to think that Pony Express riders used to actually ride so close to where you are about to enjoy your heavenly steak.

Oregon Trail Wagon Train,pony express

The “cowboy coffee” is plentiful and is cooked over an open fire.

Oregon Trail Wagon Train,Cowboy Cofee

When you get to the botton of your cup, you get a mouthful of grounds… which is the way it should be.  If you ain’t chewing your coffee, it ain’t real cowboy coffee.  All of the food is cooked over wood coals from a real fire… as opposed to a fake fire, I guess.  The boiled potatoes and the green beans are cooking in these funky, homemade-looking metal structures, and the “grill” is loaded with fire wood.  When they light the wood, you know that good times are getting near.  See, this is the thing with the Oregon Train Wagon Train: you pay something like $22 per adult (same as the Flying T), but you are actually getting an honest-to-goodness rib-eye dinner that exceeds the quality of a steak you could get in a fancy chop house.

On my last visit to the Oregon Trail Wagon Train (which was a couple of weeks ago), there were a crapload of grasshoppers.  I happened to notice a spider hanging in her web on the eave of one of the old buildings.  I figured that, since my family was about to dine on some good grub, I would treat the spider.  I grabbed a grasshopper and threw him into the spider’s web.  Honestly, I didn’t figure the spider would mess with him, but I went back about fifteen minutes later and found the following:

Oregon Trail Wagon Train,Spider eating grasshopper

Oregon Trail Wagon Train,Spider eating

I showed the kids (the wife refused to look) and they thought it was gross.  You can actually see where she has her mouth attached to the hopper.  You know she injected her venom into the hopper, waited for the venom to start dissolving the workings inside the exoskeleton, and is now sucking out the juicy remains.  Awesome!  The kids didn’t really think so… not right before dinner.  Still, I thought it was pretty cool.

While I was playing with the spider, the wood on the grill had been started.

Oregon Trail Wagon Train

Now we were just waiting for the fire to burn to coals and the steaks would go on.  There are some pretty cool things to check out while you are waiting for the steaks to start cooking.  There is a path you can follow that takes you back to the North Platte River.

Oregon Trail Wagon Train

Usually this area is kind of mosquito-infested, but this late in the summer, I guess the mosquitoes had other things to do.  There is a little fort for the kids (of all ages:) ) to check out.  You can actually climb up into the watch tower and check out the grounds.

Oregon Trail Wagon Train

There is a old black lab that hangs out (except she seems to disappear at meal time) and she loves to have her belly rubbed (if you are so inclined to rub a dog’s belly… which I am).

Oregon Trail Wagon Train,Nebraska

There are a variety of old tools attached to the sides of the out buildings that are kind of fun to check out.  The Oregon Trail Wagon Train also has a small gift shop and a small bar attached to the gift shop, so you can buy some overpriced, low-quality toys and nick-knacks right before you start downing the brews.

Oregon Trail Wagon Train

Oregon Trail Wagon Train

I usually avoid the gift shop and the bar.  Why pay for a beer when there is all of that free cowboy coffee to chew on?

For the more sportsy people, there are a couple of horseshoe pits.

Oregon Trail Wagon Train

Oregon Trail Wagon Train

Oregon Trail Wagon Train

Yeah, I guess horseshoe tossing ain’t really a sport, but this is Nebraska, so horseshoe tossing is right up there alongside tumbleweed chasin’, cow tippin’, and sheep… uh…

sheep,nebraska,scared,nervous,oregon trail wagon train

… shearing?  Besides, tossing a shoe from time to time can be kind of fun.

If you run out of things to do and are feeling a little bored waiting for the steaks to go on the grill, there is a multitude of spiders which I am sure would love to find a juicy grasshopper in their webs :)

Oregon Trail Wagon Train,spider

Finally, the fire has burned down to coals, the coals are raked out nice and smooth, and the steaks get thrown on the grill.

Oregon Trail Wagon Train Coals

Oregon Trail Wagon Train

Oregon Trail Wagon Train,rib eye steaks

Every time I have been to the Oregon Trail Wagon Train, the guys in charge of grilling the steaks seem to have a beer in their hands.  Every time.  And dinner is served 7 nights-a-week all summer long.  I wonder if they are hiring?

The dinner bell rings, we all get in a line, and we proceed by the grill.  They ask you how you like your steak done, and you get it exactly how you like it.  You then get a heaping spoon of green beans and a large, red boiled potato.  You help yourself to the available condiments (from which steak sauce is absent… and you better not even think about asking for it) and make your way to a table.  Waiting for you on the table is a freshly baked loaf of the best sourdough bread in Nebraska.

After you gorge yourself on a hearty meat and potato meal, you head to the ice cream counter and get yourself a cone filled with delicious home-made vanilla ice cream.

Oregon Trail Wagon Train

While you are licking your dessert, you are directed to the campfire area where one of the steak cookers (half-baked on beer) will lead the entire dining group through several sing-along songs that are usually silly and probably quite fun (if you go for sing-alongs… which I do not).

Oregon Trail Wagon Train

Oregon trail wagon train,Bayard,Nebraska,panhandle

We usually leave after a song or two and head for home, quite satisfied.

I promised myself that I was not going to bitch about anything at the Oregon Trail Wagon Train.  This chuck-wagon-cookout is the best cookout-type place I’ve ever been to, and I am trying to manage my blood pressure.  However, I am know for breaking promises… and it goes against my nature to not complain about something, so I’m gonna complain about the flies.  The Oregon Trail Wagon Train is out in the middle of nowhere.  You can see Chimney Rock from the cookout site, which is also in the middle of nowhere.

Chimney Rock,Nebraska,Bayard,panhandle,Oregon trail wagon train

When you are in the middle of nowhere and you cook-up good grub, you are going to be invaded by flies.  And I’m not talking about a few flies, I’m talking about flies of horror movie proportions.  The setting is great, the food is awesome, but you are going to spend a large portion of your time waving flies away from your plate.  I guess this doesn’t bother me too much.  The food is worth the waving, but I kind of wish the owners of the Oregon Trail Wagon Train would do something about the flies.  I don’t know what they could do, but if they could find something, I would not have a single bitch about the place :)

If you ever find yourself in the panhandle of Nebraska, I have a couple of things to let you know.  First, I want to apologize that you are in the panhandle of Nebraska.  Second, if you find the time, check out the Oregon Trail Wagon Train .  It’s out of the way, but worth it.  Besides, the entire panhandle is out of the way, and your here, so you might as well eat some good grub!

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Sep 03

Everyone has probably already seen the following videos, but it struck me as I watched them on a Yahoo! News earlier this week… these are SO like life.  In this first video, the poor running back gets an awful pitch from the quarterback.  He gets turned around and begins running the wrong way.  You can tell he is trying to veer back in the right direction, but his momentum and the players on his back prevent him from gaining positive ground.  Yet, the little whipper-snapper just keeps plugging away.  He is giving it his all.  He is trying to make a positive outcome out of a very negative situation.  He is an optimist.

With a certain realization, he becomes desperate. He tosses the ball to no one and suddenly he is either the biggest optimist on the planet, or he has come down from the ozone to join the rest of us and realized that all of that effort really wasn’t worth it. Whichever the case may be, I highly doubt he was much of an optimist for the next few days (or years… or decades). Welcome to the real world, Sparky.

This second video shows why sometimes, just sometimes, it’s better not to succeed. The Otters have this game in the bag. The field goal is well short of the mark. YEAH us! We win! We have succeeded! All of the hard work we put in finally paid off! A big “V”!

Caught up in the momentum of “victory”, the young optimist goes into celebration-mode… a bit too early. He forgets the fundamentals of his “profession”. In less than 4 seconds, he goes from probably one of the happiest moments of his young life to utter horror. Watch the clip again. After Mr. Prep spikes the ball and the other dude scores the touchdown, you see Mr. Prep falling to his knees and grabbing his face mask in utter disbelief. You can almost feel his stomach churning, can’t you. You can almost feel his tears running down your cheek, can’t you? “WHAT DID I JUST DO?” HAHAHA! See how easily one stupid mistake can undermine all of that hard work? See how easy it is to disappoint many people by losing your head for one brief moment?

I guess the positive is, if there is a positive to be found, in both of these videos: you can find your own success through the miserable failings of others. Be on the lookout for someone else to make a huge mistake, because therein may lie your huge opportunity for success. If you can’t find success on your own, wait for some poor sap to screw up for you.

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Jul 06

I was having a little trouble going back to work today.  After a vacation or a holiday it’s always a struggle to go back to the day-to-day monotony of work-a-day life.  At work, I was doing a little venting to a wise coworker.

“Wouldn’t life be perfect if we could wake up every day and work at something we’re passionate about?” I asked.   “When you get a job working for someone else, you are most likely trying to turn someone else’s passion into your own.  Life would be so much easier and more fulfilling if we all worked on our own passion instead of trying to become passionate about someone else’s passion.”

The wise sage looked at me with a slight smile gracing the corners of his lips.  “We humans grow tired of things so rapidly,” his deep voice rumbled as he shook his head knowingly.  “If our passions were our means of earning a living, we would quickly grow tired of them and they would no longer be our passions.  By keeping our passions separate from our means of economic survival, we maintain the passion that is our passion and our lives retain their meaning.  After all, a job provides the sustenance we need to live… but a passion provides the fullness of heart and soul each of us need to live well.”

I looked at the wise sage and began to contemplate his wise words.  This man, with his hair half-way down his back but contained in the most majestic of ponytails, had a lot of time to contemplate the meaning of life.  This man… this 32 year-old hulk-of-a-man, lives in the basement of a house he shares with his brother and his… cat.  This man’s passion is World of Warcraft and conquering that online games world with his band of misfit brothers.  This man almost peed his pants when the new Mountain Dew Game Fuel (in tribute to World of Warcraft) came out… and he came close to punching me in the face when I told him I thought the “blue” tasted best (“Blue represents the pesky Alliance, a grouping of mere humans and their ilk, who are far inferior to the majestic, raging power of the Horde,” he had said to me in a raised voice with a fist at half mast.  “Ok, Dude, the red is better… take a pill,” I responded, not really thinking the red was better but not wanting to get into a debate, or  my butt kicked, over a stupid video game.)  This is the guy I’m taking advice from on the idea of following one’s passion?  This is the guy who, for one brief instant, I am considering a sage and one worthy of listening to?  I’m an idiot!

Man… coming back to work after a holiday can really SUCK!

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