Thursday, March 26, 2009

How to tell if a city sucks, in under 5 minutes

I travel quite a bit. For work, I'm travelling often, and in my free time, I enjoy going to new places. And I've discovered something. You can determine what a city is like solely by its airport.

It's true. Fly into JFK, and you'll see it's dirty and crowded. Tucson's airport is small, and has a distinctive Mexican flavor. San Jose is clean, crowded, and full of cool tech stuff. Sky Harbor in Phoenix is big, crowded, and full of chain restaurants, just like Phoenix.

I always test this theory when flying to a place for the first time. This last week, I flew to Little Rock. The airport was pretty small, very clean, closed early, and had very friendly employees. Little Rock was pretty small, very clean, closed early, and had friendly people. The theory works again!

Try this out for yourself and let me know if it's true for you as well. Oh, and if you get mugged at the airport, get your ass back on the plane and get the hell out of there. The city will be much worse.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

drunkent bracket, what remains after the first weekend

Sorry for the slow updates. My travels through the south have slowed my blogging down to a crawl. So here is the update after the first weekend.

Drunken bracket - 49 points. A terrific second round after a horrible first round. This is good enough for 7th place.

Sober bracket - 46 points. 10th place.

So what is this telling me? I don't know yet. The real problem with my drunken bracket is my final four. No #1 seeds are there. This will be a problem, I think.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Drunken bracket, heartbroken edition

Damn. Syracuse is an absolute nightmare matchup for the Devils. The better team won this morning.

That being said, here is the drunken bracket update, from SEC country, with the remainder of the early games in progress.

37 points (1 point for first round, 2 points for second round). 8th place in my 20 person pool. Not bad.

My real bracket? 38 points. Good for 7th place.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Drunken bracket update #2

5 of 8 correct. Tied for next to last in my group. Sad thing is, I'm tied with my sober picks.

Drunken bracket update #1

After the first games, the drunken bracket has one correct pick. However, I compared my drunken bracket with my "real" bracket, and the picks are the same for the first seven games today. This means there are two early possible conclusions to this experiment...

1) Alcohol doesn't affect my thought process at all when it comes to picking teams.
2) I'm as stupid as a drunk when it comes to picking teams.

More to come.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Retarded experiments, March Madness style

As I stated earlier, I am on vacation for a bit. Since I don't have to work tomorrow, I am getting drunk tonight. And now, in the never ending quest for drunken knowledge, I am trying something new.

I decided to fill out a bracket completely hammered. I already filled one out while sober, so this will be interesting to see what happens. Can a drunk Umbrella pick as well as a sober one? I'll post my findings later, once games have actually happened.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Even in good times, I find a way to screw up

My Sun Devils are in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2003, and only the third time since 1981. I am a HUGE college hoops fan, so this thrills me to no end. Well, the sucking doesn't thrill me, the fact we're actually in thrills me. Which is why this post is so painful.

In the winter, my lady friend and I decided to make a trip to go see her son. He is a pitcher playing for a college team in the south. She's not wealthy, so she doesn't get to see him play very often. I've watched him grow up, so I wanted to go as well. We made our plans, and she's real excited.

Unfortunately, I didn't realize the weekend we were going was the first weekend of the NCAA tournament. Fuck me. Well, it's not the end of the world. As long as ASU plays Thursday, I'll get to see the game. And if it's the evening games on Friday, I'll still be able to see it.

Friday morning, 11:45 Arizona time. Shit!

I checked my itinerary. OK, all is not lost. I have a layover in St. Louis. Maybe I can catch the end of the game at the bar in the airport. Hopefully no Big-12 teams will be playing at the same time.

Missouri-Cornell, noon Arizona time. Shit! Shit!

OK, don't panic. CBS claims they will offer free live streaming of all tournament games. I'll just bring my laptop, and when we land, I can watch it online. Surely, they have Wi-Fi at an airport as big as St. Louis, right?

They do. Yay! $7.95/hr. Shit! Shit! Shit!

This is bullshit. According to this site, it is the second most expensive hourly airport Wi-Fi in the country, behind only University Park State College, wherever the fuck that is. Seriously, eight bucks an hour? That's almost an airport beer!!

And to top everything off, it looks like it is going to rain this weekend, which means he might not even have any games. This is turning out to be a giant Hungarian clusterfuck.

Fuck You, I'm Irish

OK, I'm not really Irish. But my "Fuck You" to St. Patty's day still stands.

I have quite a few problems with St. Patrick's Day. Yeah, there's at least one redeeming quality: an excuse for heavy drinking on a weeknight. But the negatives outweigh the positives.

First, this whole "You have to wear green" bullshit. Green is a shitty color for clothes. That's why I don't own anything green. Yet all day today, people are giving me shit for not wearing green. What is this, first grade? These are the same people that wear costumes to work on Halloween. I wonder, can I bust the next asshole who pinches me because I'm not wearing green for sexual harassment? And for those of you who either forgot to wear green, or don't really care enough to go out of your way to wear green, don't puss out by trying to find one small speck of green in your underwear's elastic band. If somebody is giving you crap for not wearing green, tell them you have some on your back pocket. When they're down there looking for it, fart in their face.

Second, I love how all of a sudden, everyone becomes Irish. Look, if your grandparents were born here, you're American. This is not open for debate. Just because my ancestors came over here on a boat from Scotland in the 1600's, and my last name begins with Mc, doesn't mean I'm Scottish. Seriously, these peeholes walking around with gay ass Lucky Charms hats, and "Kiss me, I'm Irish" pins, who couldn't name ONE FUCKING CITY in Ireland (I know this is true, I'm the type of dick who asks questions like that) can kiss my ass.

I wasn't always this jaded towards St. Patrick. Back in my younger days, I decided to celebrate this holiday like any good American, by drinking green beer. However, I was underage, so I had to make my own. I "acquired" some beer, bought some green food coloring, and I was well on my way. However, I was also a moron. I poured all the beer into a big pitcher, and added a few drops of coloring. No change. A few more drops. No change. What the hell? I said "Fuck it all" and dumped the whole bottle of coloring in the beer.

The beer changed from its normal brown to black. Oh shit, I think I overreacted. It looked like soy sauce. It still tasted like beer, so we dove in. Our lips, tongues, and lower mustaches (for those who had them) were a very dark shade of green. Then, to complete the night's festivities, one of the guys at our party decided to OD. Here we are, drunk, under aged, and literally green, and this asshole is convulsing unconsciously on the floor. We were afraid to call 911 because we knew we would be busted, so we decided to drink and drive his ass to the hospital instead. Like I said, I was a moron.

His girlfriend stayed there with him at the hospital while the rest of us bailed before we got in trouble. Not a good night at all. And to top it all off, I shit bright green for two days. That is a bit disconcerting.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tales of the wind

Wow, three posts in one day? I must have a severe case of bloggerrhea. Known causes: boredom at work.

In my last post, I mentioned a fear of farting while doing yoga. Here is some insight into Umbrella's brain. I will mention something, and then obsess about it for hours. So I have spent most of the day thinking about farts.

I don't embarrass easily. Lack of pride will do that to you. But for some reason, I have a real tough time farting in front of people. Anyone who knows me would be shocked by this admission, but it's true.

The last time I blushed was about a year ago. I was grocery shopping, and I could feel some pressure building up in my gut. Luckily, it wasn't the "OMG, I'm gonna shit myself" pressure. It was the "pass gas" pressure. For most people, no big deal, but for me, I was sweating. I found an aisle that was empty, and proceeded to relieve the pain.

The problems started immediately. Problem #1 was that it was quite a bit louder than I expected. Problem #2, it stunk pretty bad. Problem #3, and this was the doozy, was a really attractive woman came around the aisle right as all of this happened. Shit!

My first instinct was "Maybe she didn't notice." This thought instantly disappeared when I saw the look on her face. If there was ever a way to say "You nasty fuck" with only facial expressions, she nailed it. At this point, I was lost. There was no save. I sheepishly pushed my cart away and got the hell out.

However, my best (or worst, depending on your point of view) fart experience happened on Halloween several years ago. The girls were still pretty young and into trick-or-treating. My ex would take them out, and I would stay at home and give out candy. My ex really got into Halloween, and our house was the coolest one in the neighborhood.

So like every year, I was at home, drinking beer, and scaring kids. The girls got home, and I proceeded with my fatherly duties of going through their candy. Neither of them liked peanuts, so I was digging around trying to find all the Snickers, Mr. Goodbars, Paydays, etc. I started scarfing them down in earnest.

Finally, my ex decided it was time to gather the decorations. We learned the hard way that if we left things out on Halloween night, they would get destroyed. So I began my husbandly duties of tearing everything down.

At this point, I think the combination of beer and peanut-infested candy formed some sort of unholy union in my gut. No biggie, I'm outside, in my own yard. I let it fly.

It didn't take long to realize this wasn't any ordinary fart. Not only did it assault the normal senses of sound and smell, I'm pretty sure I felt it, tasted it, and even saw it hanging in the air. Usually people don't mind their own brand, but this one was beyond disgusting. Luckily, the women were inside putting stuff away when this happened.

My daughters were the first to open the door. I yelled at them that they might want to stay inside. My children are intelligent, and turned right around.

My ex, on the other hand, didn't heed this advice. She came outside, and it hit her. She gagged, and barfed in the yard. It's tough to explain my emotions at this point. One the one hand, my wife is puking, and is REALLY pissed off at me. On the other, I may have created the world's most awesome fart. It's a toss up.

She started yelling at me when I tried to cut her off at the pass. I told her that I warned her not to come out here, and she chose to ignore me. She responded that she didn't think it was possible to ruin the outdoors. It's a good point, and up until then, I didn't think it was possible either. I do know that her yelling at me wasn't helping my issues with farting at all. I wonder, are these issues are related to my fear of shitting in public restrooms? I guess that is analysis for some other time.

Holy Shit!!! A Golden Umbrella winner!

I've been having mixed emotions about the Golden Umbrella award recently. Finding a good blog in this wide wide world of webs is like trying to pick corn out of shit. I was going to take this analogy further, but I didn't like where it was going.

The point is, it's really hard to find good blogs. So instead of making this a Friday feature, I'm just going to give them out when I find them. And amazingly, I found a worthy recipient.

The latest winner (man, it is hard not to type "weekly winner") comes to us by way of Minnesota. She likes bacon, yoga, and sports. I like bacon and sports, and maybe I would like yoga if I didn't have an innate fear of farting during a particularly difficult pose, ala Johnny Knoxville. She also is a fan of naming people in the mode of Blanky McBlankerson, of which I am frequently guilty. Jess is the author of the very coolly named blog I Was Told There Would Be Bacon. Like all the other winners, this has no theme, just her somewhat warped view on life around her, with an emphisis on her bathroom at work. A worthy recipient.

So Jess, here are the rules that we've come to admire. In order to be added to my esteemed 'Winners of "Umbrella's Blogs That Don't Suck" award (AKA the Golden Umbrella)' list, you must make an acceptance speech in the comments section. It would also be nice to proudly display this accomplishment on your website. This isn't required, but why in the hell wouldn't you? It's accepted as the biggest accomplishment in interweb history, and probably North American history as well. But don't ask me how to do it, because I'm retarded. Enjoy!

Ah, the long lost award is back

Umbrella's guide to March Madness

When I was in college, I took school extremely seriously. Probably because I was married and had a kid, so I couldn't screw off as much as I would have liked to. I only intentionally skipped class a total of eight times in four years. They were the Thursday/Friday of the first weekend of the NCAA tournament each of the four years.

I love March Madness. I'm a sports junkie, and it is my favorite sporting event, bar none. Even the Super Bowl takes a back seat to this.

Every year at this time, you will see a bunch of articles floating around the interwebs to tell you how to win your NCAA pool. This will have some of that, but this is a guide to help beginners and experts alike. This guide is not necessarily aimed at how to win your pool, but how to get the most enjoyment out of it.


1. Join a pool. This is brought to you by the editors of DUH magazine. If you work anywhere with more than 5 employees, chances are good that someone will start a pool. It doesn't matter if you don't know crap about basketball. You can still have fun.

2. Know your reasons for playing. "Jeez Umbrella, this is stupid. I'm playing to win!" Maybe so, but if that is your reason, prepare to be disappointed. If you are playing in a pool with 20 people, do the math. Winning is nice, but if that is why you are doing it, you will not have fun. Good reasons are A) Talking shit to your coworkers/friends/family. B) Being able to have discussions with the cute girl you would never normally talk to. "Hey, nice pick with Central Michigan there. What made you pick them?" C) Having a long four hour lunch on Thursday with your boss at the bar. I've pulled this off. Bonus points for having him pick up the tab. I haven't pulled this off (yet).

3. Come up with a system. It doesn't matter what the system is. It doesn't even have to be logical. I've seen all kinds of crazy systems win. One time, a lady picked teams based on which one of their mascots would win in a fight. I saw an engineer who knew nothing about basketball come up with some elaborate mathematical formula based on the seeds. If it works, you'll feel like a genius. If not, then you are lumped in with everyone else who didn't win.

4. Pick some upsets. There is always that one person who picks nothing but the higher seeds. That person is a douchebag. Yeah, they'll usually finish near the top, but they never win. Besides, nobody will remember that you finished third from last when your picks don't work out. But everyone will remember that you were the ONLY person to pick Siena. Especially when you remind them constantly.

5. Don't be afraid to pick a team for a stupid reason. Maybe you have an ex that went to Kentucky, and you want them to lose every game. That's a good enough reason to pick against them. Maybe you like Michigan's uniforms. Go ahead, pick them. Maybe you think Jim Boeheim looks like an alien. Pick against Syracuse in an upset.

6. Make sure there is money involved. If you've got a few bucks riding on the games, they will become a lot more interesting. However, watch out for the pools where some jackass is just trying to rip you off. I can't see any reason to have more than a $20 entry fee, and even that is pretty high. Usually $5 is a good number. It will get the casual fans to play, and yet there will still be a nice payout for the winner.

7. Talk shit if you are doing well. This goes back to rule #2. Chances are, your good luck will end soon, so make sure you rub it in while you are winning. However, don't be a pussy if people talk shit to you when you struggle after that. You've got to take the bad with the good. On a related note...

8. Give props. Make sure you give someone a thumbs up if they pick an upset correctly. That way, you won't get everyone to hate you during your shit talking. Remember, constant shit talking = asshole. Shit talking mixed in with appropriate compliments = passion.


This section is for those of you who don't know anything about basketball, or how the tournament works. This advice is to keep people from laughing at you like an idiot.

9. Pick the #1 seeds to win the first game. The #1 seed has never lost to a #16 seed. Granted, it will probably happen someday, and if you pick it correctly, you will be a legend. More likely is you will be wrong, and everyone will mock that pick.

10. Pick a #12 seed to win. Every year, a #12 seed beats a #5 seed. You have at least a 1 in 4 chance of picking the right #12 seed. See rule #4.


11. Know who you are playing with. I live in Tucson, so everyone around me is an Arizona Wildcat fan, and Pac-10 fans to a lesser extent. That means they will pick these teams to advance too far. Even in a down year, I guarantee there will be multiple people picking UCLA to go to the final four. I will use this knowledge against them.

12. When looking for upsets, find little teams that can shoot 3-pointers. When the upsets happen, it is almost always because some team gets hot shooting the 3. Those are the candidates to keep an eye on. Especially if the team they are playing is a zone defensive team.

13. Ignore the "experts". I hear the same expert advice every year. Pick teams with senior guards. Pick teams who are hot coming into the tournament. Pick teams from power conferences. This is all bullshit. I overanalyze my picks to death, so I know these are complete non-factors. Your first hint that these guys are full of shit is after the first round of the tournament when they are all moaning that their brackets are in shambles. It's because they can't pick any better than the secretary who made her picks based on uniform color schemes.

14. Keep an eye on location. This can be big. If Ohio St. is playing in Dayton, that is essentially a home game for them. I'm surprised how often people don't look at this. Generally, if an upset is happening, the entire crowd pulls for the underdog. This will not happen if Duke is losing in Greensboro.

I can't emphasize enough how much fun this can be. I've been doing pools for close to 30 years, and everyone who has played ALWAYS comes back the next year. Most of them don't do it because of winning. They do it because my pools are a blast. I encourage shit talking. I encourage coming up with systems to use. And I can get an entire office of people who wouldn't give two squirts about college basketball for 11 months to spend Friday morning at the water cooler talking about that amazing finish to the Mississippi game last night. So if nobody in your office has a pool, start one. Promote it. Know your workers, and play to their interests. It will make the next month fly by.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Porn stashes: Why they're GOOD things for women

So you've probably noticed my infrequent updates. I am travelling quite often for work these days, and I just don't have a lot of computer time. And what little free time I have, I prefer to search for porn instead of good blogs. Hey, life gets lonely on the road.

Which leads me into today's topic. Why do most women get so upset when they discover their man's porn stash? Though the technology changes, throughout my entire life, I've had a porn stash of some sort or another.

It starts as a kid. When I was young, I will never forget the discovery of porn. It happened to me twice, and both times I was taking out the trash. We had a community garbage dumpster, and I am assuming some poor schmuck's wife/girlfriend/mom found his porn stash, and he was forced to dispose of it. For a kid, that was like finding the golden ticket. You were suddenly the most popular kid in the neighborhood.

Unfortunately, as a kid, you don't have a lot of creativity when it comes to hiding places. Eventually, that genius hiding spot under the mattress gets discovered when mom changes the sheets. There is nothing worse than coming home, only to realize the magazines are gone. Of course, you can't go "Uh, mom? Did you accidentally move something when you were changing the sheets? Huh, oh, no reason." Asking your mom for your porn back is like asking her the size of her vagina on the awkwardness scale.

Eventually, the time comes when you can acquire porn legally. That's when the stash starts in earnest. Hopefully by this point, you have your own place, and can stash it more safely. This era, usually in your early 20's, is the golden age of porn. However, pretty soon you will get a steady girlfriend, and she will spend more and more time at your place. And then there will come the day when the stash is discovered, and you have to try and convince her that you're not some sort of pervert.

Now, we have the interwebs, and this ups the ante considerably. There are options out there I could never have dreamed up. OK, I have dreamed them, but I never had access to it. Until now. It's incredible. But this in itself poses new problems. Daniel Tosh has a great bit about this. Sadly, this scenario has come true with me. My kids and my lady friend sometimes use my laptop, so I have to be careful about deleting any incriminating evidence. Yes, even the new virtual stash can get discovered.

My question is, why is porn considered bad? I've heard the arguments. It's demeaning to women. Bullshit. If you think it's demeaning, don't do it. It's that simple. Another argument I've heard is that it will create a society of perverts and sexual deviants. Yeah, these are the same idiots that think Marilyn Manson was the reason Columbine happened. If anyone has a good reason, I will listen. I just haven't heard one yet.

However, I never hear the arguments why porn is good. Until now. Ladies, I am now going to clue you in on why you should look the other way when your man is checking out porn.

1. Porn prevents infidelity. Yep, you heard it here first. Not only does it not make him a pervert, it will keep him faithful. Whether you want to admit it or not, guys like variety. There is a reason sex sells. However, contrary to popular belief, most guys are pretty loyal to their women. So how does a guy get some strange, yet still be faithful? You got it, porn. We can let our imaginations go wild, and have sex with someone new without really having sex. And on a related note...

2. Porn prevents you from doing things you are uncomfortable with. Let's set up a hypothetical situation. Let's say your guy really wants to do anal with you. However, for whatever your reasons are, having something stuck up your ass isn't really your idea of romance. Fine, it's your body, and I'm not going to tell you what you should do with it. So now we're at a impasse. Checking out some porn, while not the ideal situation, is the next best thing. You can use any fetish you want for this example.

3. Porn prevents cancer. What? I know what you're thinking; That's a reach Umbrella. No it's not. It's been shown that masturbation helps prevent prostate cancer. Here's some proof even. My guess is that this study was done by men.

4. Porn makes better lovers. I realize this headline is misleading. I'm not saying that guys should slap women's asses while fucking them. I'm saying that porn can help a guy that suffers from coming too quick. Remember the scene in Something About Mary involving "cleaning the pipes"? That's what I'm referring to.

5. Porn minimizes STD's and unwanted pregnancies. I'm on the road, and I'm horny. I can get a hooker, find a bar floozy, or cuddle up with my porn. Which one do you think is the safest?

Now I'm not arguing that if you're in the mood for some loving, and your guy would rather be online, that's a good thing. Obviously, that's a problem, and that's waaaay above my expertise as an online shrink. But I am saying that if you should be on your guy's laptop, and you see something in his history where he was checking out, don't freak the fuck out. Especially if you're a flat chested women with a perfect smile. Sometimes guys like a little strange.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Arbitrary requirements for Golden Umbrella Award

In my (what seems like) never ending quest to find Golden Umbrella winners, I'm running into a brick wall. I'm starting to think I'm being too stringent on my completely arbitrary requirements. At this point, these are...

1. The site doesn't suck. This eliminates 99.9999% of the sites I have seen. This is non-negotiable.

2. The site should be funny. This is not really a requirement, but a VERY strong preference. I've yet to find a site that wasn't funny, yet interesting enough to be a viable candidate.

3. The site is written by an adult. This one I don't want to bend on. The youth of America are corrupt enough without me adding to the mix. Or even worse, an angry parent takes action because I was blogging about lesbian butt sex, and their kid was reading it. Keep in mind, I never said write LIKE an adult.

4. The site has semi-frequent updates. Hopefully once a week. Maybe less frequently if the content's exceptional.

5. The site has been around for a little while. I don't want to give props to a site, and then have it stop two weeks later. There are a few sites I have an eye on, but they've only been around a short time.

This last requirement has me perplexed. What exactly is a little while? If someone is just starting out, and they're good, would winning the most prestigious award on the internet propel the writer to continue on to greatness? Or did they blow their wad, and have nothing funny left to write, cheapening the award down the road?

I have other steps which will probably eliminate your site, even if it meets all the requirements above. As soon as I notice these, I immediately move on. I'll number these in Roman numerals as to not get them confused with the requirements. Plus, it makes me look smarter.

I) Music playing. At best, it will annoy me. At worst, it will suck so bad I will make nasty comments about your site.

II) Connected to Digg. I understand you want people to give you props. However, this always freezes up my shitty computer, and pisses me off very much. At this point, I'm leaving as soon as it is unfrozen.

III) Dark font on dark background. C'mon, I'm getting old. I don't need to work to read your writing.

IV) Too snooty to accept the award. First of all, this is the greatest award a blogger can receive. Who the fuck do you think you are, George C. Scott? You're not.

OK, now get out there and create something awesome. I know it's in you.

Unexcused absences

Hey everyone. Sorry for the lack of updates, but a perfect storm of events happened to prevent any posts.

1) My wireless broke.
2) I went on a business trip.
3) I'm lazy.

Luckily, two of these problems are solved. However, the third one isn't so unless a miracle happens, there will be no golden umbrella award this week. Again. I know, I suck.