Thursday, July 3

Just married

Surprise! Britt and I just tied the knot in San Francisco.

Check out the video here.

Thursday, June 12

Monday, June 9

I feel twitty, oh so twitty, I feel Twitty and witty and gay

I have not had much free time for blogging since starting the new job, but I have been playing around with Twitter.

Twitter lets users post 140-character updates throughout the day. It's like blogging in bite-size portions. They satisfy my creative itch, in a way.

Here's a taste:

There are way too many Dunkin' Donuts in New England

Britt and I went to New Hampshire last weekend to see our friends Clay and Max tie the knot.

Every time I go to New England, I'm shocked by the number of Dunkin' Donuts locations I see. You can't travel more than 15 seconds in any direction in Massachusetts without passing a Dunkin' Donuts shop -- even by foot. There are even DD stores in the jetways at Logan Airport in Boston. New Hampshire's state bird is, if I'm not mistaken, the jelly donut. In 2009, the federal government will replace Acadia National Park in Maine with a freestanding Dunkin' Donuts with a drive-through.

There are sooo many Dunkin Donuts in New England. This one was located in the restroom of another Dunkin Donuts.

There's something about seeing so many Dunkin' Donuts stores that makes me really, really crave a Krispy Kreme donut.

Aren't they supposed to be robots in disguise?

It's hard to be a robot in disguise if you've got "Autobot" plastered across your windscreen, don't you think?

Aren't they supposed to be robots in disguise?

Saturday, May 24

Thursday, April 24

Iron-y

There are dozens of Iron Man toys available now, and they're all made of plastic. Does anyone else see the humor in this?

I Am Iron Man Toys

That is all.

Sunday, April 20

Just In Time For Passover

You'd have to be משוגעןער (that is, a meshugener) to miss this movie!

Tuesday, April 15

Roger O. Thornhill's WorldPerks Points Will Never Expire -- Or Become SkyMiles Points

If the latest airline megamerger is approved, Northwest's name will disappear from the skies -- but it will live on in Hollywood history.

Long after Delta repaints plane in Northwest's fleet, Cary Grant will still get onto a Northwest plane in Alfred Hitchcock's "North by Northwest." No one is going to change the film. No one is going to rename the movie "North by Delta" any time soon.

If Northwest disappears, it will have plenty of company in the movies and on TV. Pan Am, long defunct, is the carrier in "2001: A Space Odyssey," and "Raiders of the Lost Ark." The early years of Pan Am and TWA, another airline that's long gone, were featured heavily in the plot of "The Aviator."

At the end of every South Park episode, you'll see the logo for Braniff International Airways, which went belly up in the early 1980s. I have no idea what this has to do with South Park.

I don't think I'll be nostalgic for Northwest, although I do think that they had one of the great modern airline logos a few years ago. It looked like a N, a W, and a compass pointing northwest. It was recently revised, leaving only the compass point. This struck me as being much less clever.

Today's Memo: Handicapped Spot

To: The asshole who drives the grey Daewoo sedan

From: Dave

Subject: The handicapped spot in front of Starbucks

Date: April 15, 2008

The handicapped spot in front of Starbucks is for handicapped people. It is not a convenient place for you to park your dumpy little car while you run inside for a cup of coffee. It makes no different that you've left the motor running, or that you've parked the car at an angle, or that you've left your dumpy girlfriend sitting in the passenger seat.

The handicapped parking spot is there for disabled people, not for you, you asshole.

Time To Face Reality

I am considering renaming this blog "The Not Quite Daily Dave 2.0."

Tuesday, April 8

Photo Updates

New photo galleries have been posted online, in case you have missed them. Hop on a Transatlantic flight and check out my Paris and London galleries (including two bonus galleries), and then go west to see pictures from Denver, Estes Park and Boulder.

Up, Up And Away. Or Not.

Consider the irony: There is a gigantic metal sculpture of a penguin, the bird best known for its inability to fly, parked at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta.

Penguins: Suitable Airport Art?

That is all.

I Don't Mean To Boast, But I Am The Smartest Person In The History Of Commercial Aviation

On my way back from the two-day training program in Atlanta for my new job, I aced Delta's in-flight trivia quiz:

Delta's In-Flight Trivia Quiz

Of course, who doesn't know that Napoleon defeated both France and Russia at Austerlitz in 1805?

To quote Homer Simpson: "I am so smart! I am so smart! S-M-R-T!"

First Impressions

My new employer is the mintiest company on the planet.

There's a huge bottle of Listerine in the men's room (and, I presume, the ladies' room) on every floor. No one in this firm ever has bad breath, even after a lunch of onions and garlic.

This is just one of the multitude of reasons I am overjoyed to have changed jobs. My last job had many problems. Mouthwash would have fixed just one of them.

Wednesday, April 2

A Follow-Up Announcement

As many people have guessed, yesterday's announcement about my relocation to Omaha was, indeed, an April Fool's prank.

The Complementary Spouse and I are staying right here in Tampa.

Tuesday, April 1

An Apology ... And An Announcement

I apologize for neglecting my blog these past few days. I have been quite busy starting my new job, and there has not been much time for blogging.

In addition, the new job has been preoccupying my thoughts. Immediately after starting, I was informed that this entire business unit is being transferred to Omaha. I was stunned, but I have given the matter some thought, and Complementary Spouse Britt and I have talked extensively. It was a difficult decision, but we have decided that we're up for an adventure. I will move first; Britt has already arranged interviews with potential employers, and will follow me after the semester ends.

By summer, we will both be Nebraskans. Yippie-ky-ay and all that.

Wednesday, March 19

I See London, I See France ...

Photos from our trip to Branson, Mo. Paris and London are now online.

Paris at night
The Arc de Triomphe at night, as seen from the Eiffel Tower

Enjoy!

Because Nothing Is More Alluring Than The Stench Of The Customs Hall At Miami International Airport

I associate jet lag with gritty skin, low-grade headaches, and that grimy feeling that comes from wearing the same set of clothes from way too long.

The worst thing about jet lag, though, is that you can't experience it unless you've flown partway around the world — until now! Thanks to the duty-free shop at Miami International Airport, people don't have to leave their time zone to sample jet lag. They don't have to even leave their area code. They just need to buy some overpriced, poorly named cologne.

Jet Lag perfume poster

Jet Lag perfume

The company that makes Jet Lag cologne is called Azzaro. I can't help but speculate that this is some flowery foreign word that means ass.

Monday, March 17

Be All That You Can Be Unless You're Gay

If the military had a policy that let it discriminate against blacks or women or Asians, would it be welcome to host a massive recruiting drive here at the University of Tampa, complete with a live band, emcee, free food and free drinks?

Of course not.

And yet, Don't Ask Don't Tell is still on the record books and I am experiencing such an event (the U.S. Navy College Tour) as I wait to meet the Complementary Spouse for lunch.

No one asked me what I thought. I told anyway. That's my policy.

U.S. Navy College Tour

Sunday, March 16

Back From Branson

Complementary Spouse Britt Shirley and I have just finished up our weeklong trip to Branson, Mo. It was absolutely fabulous — it looks very much like Paris and London. I will post photos online soon.

Saturday, March 8

Today's Memo: Starbucks

Your new honey latte is deceptively named. It should be called the moldy-graham-cracker-and-dirt latte. I did not taste any honey.

Sent from my iPhone

A Programming Note

Today Dave and Complementary Spouse Britt Shirley head out for their long awaited cultural highlights tour of Branson, Mo. The RV is fueled up ready to go. Nothing can hold us back!

Expect infrequent posts for the next week or so.

Friday, March 7

The Four Questions On My Mind

Q. What is Dave wearing today?
A. Dave is wearing an old black polo shirt and a pair of shorts.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave is looking forward to a very exciting day.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave is getting a haircut and having Shabbat dinner with friends today. These things are scheduled for different times, of course.

Q. Will today be the day that Dave finally asks his barber for the Mr. Clean look?
A. Dave says "hell no." However, Dave may consider the Mr. T look.

State Of The Indignation

Billions of years ago, before the earth cooled, my college roommate told me that he loved to watch me deal with stupid people.

I had no idea what he meant, so I asked him to explain.

He said that when I got irritated, I didn't raise my voice or grow frustrated. Instead, he said, I talked normally and explained the situation clearly to the other person. However, I made it very clear to everyone else around me that the other person was, in fact, a complete dumbkopf and wasting my time.

My roommate said he was impressed by my ability to be simultaneously polite and exasperated. I said I didn't realized I was doing anything like this. I asked him what I did to give him this impression. He said he wasn't quite sure, but it was mainly the way I rolled my eyes.

Fast forward to the present. I'm starting to accept the fact that I'm very good at expressing indignation.

A few months ago, I wrote a lengthy e-mail to a source whom I consider an expert on the slings and arrows that Generation X'ers suffer in the work place. I had written several other e-mails on the same topic. She wrote back:

hey, dave. these are fun. thanks for sending them. i love reading your
emails of indignation. you write indignation so well!

I have received few compliments that made me smile more.

A few days ago, my pal Sue wrote:
I looked up irascible in the dictionary and found your picture. I think you may be working your way up to curmudgeon.

I have always wanted to be a curmudgeon. I think it would look good on a business card. I'm still not sure which dictionary carries my picture, though. I hope it's the Oxford English Dictionary — that's the really prestigious one!

Badvertising Stands Alone

I am an amateur (some may say amateurish) critic of advertising and marketing. You may have noticed that I weigh in from time to time on teevee ads or campaigns or signage that drives me nuts. I also write about ads that I enjoy -- although I do this less frequently, because there is way more crap out there than good stuff.

I've started tagging these rambling thoughts about advertising and marketing, so that they're easy to separate out from the rambling thoughts about Peeps and my nephew and the other minutia that I type about.

If you want to see all the advertising and marketing posts collected in one place, just select the "Ads and Marketing" tag from the menu on the right side of the page.

I Hear The NHL Video Game People Are Planning A Sudden-Death-Mobile For This Fall

What's wrong with this picture?

Hit & Run?

Visiting college campuses around the country to promote your company's new baseball video game? Good idea.

Outfitting vans — such as the two vehicles parked between the Vaughn Center and Sykes Hall at the University of Tampa yesterday — with the latest video game systems and four large video monitors, so that college kids can walk up and try your company's new game? Good idea.

Wrapping the vans in distinctive colors and large logos? Good idea.

Calling the whole thing the "Hit and Run Tour?" Bad idea.

The universe thrives on irony. Driving around the country in a big blue van labeled "Hit and Run" is an invitation for disaster.

Hello Mudder, Hello Fadder

When you see an entire shelving display at Target filled with Peeps, and immediately take a picture with your phone and forward it to your parents who (a) are overseas and (b) love Peeps, it proves that you have a loving, close, spontaneous, friendly relationship with your mom and dad.

Eat me

If, however, you make the subject line of that message to your parents "Eat Me!" there may, in fact, be something very wrong with you.

Thursday, March 6

Get The Door. It's A Pizza Company That Thinks You're An Imbecile.

I don't think it's a good idea for a company to abase its customers in its advertisements.

Apparently, the people at Domino's Pizza disagree.

In two new television ads, Domino's implies that its customers are idiots.

The goal of the ads, I suspect, was to inform TV viewers that Domino's deliveries take 30 minutes (although the fine print at the bottom of the screen spells out that this is an estimate, not a guarantee). This message is supplanted entirely by a different one: people who order Domino's pizza use those 30 minutes to do stupid, useless things.

For example, in one of the TV spots, the Domino's deliveryman arrives to discover that the customers have picked up a pathetic Brooklyn accent in anticipation of their Brooklyn-style pizza. In the other TV spot, the deliverywoman is greeted by a customer who has burned off his eyebrows and drawn in new ones with a Magic Marker.

The tone of these ads is snarky: the customers are all bumbling and childish, while the delivery staff is patronizing and snobbish.

Nothing about these ads makes me want to be a Domino's customer, nor does it want to greet a Domino's delivery person on my doorstep. I'd rather wait a little longer for a pizza from a company that doesn't think I'm a moron, thank you very much.

A Very Special Four Questions With Our Guest Answerer Stacey Shick

Today's four questions are being answered by Stacey Shick, Dave's pal from the Tampa Tribune who is also enjoying a delicious caffeinated beverage this morning in Starbucks. Stacey is an editor extraordinaire here in Tampa. She is moving soon to New York.

David and Stacey

Q. What is Stacey wearing today?
A. Stacey is wearing gray pants and a wine-colored trenchcoat-type shirt with a bow in the back. Dave finds it to be quite fashionable. He is happy he decided not to wear the same thing today, as that would be a fashion faux pas here in Starbucks.

Q. How does Stacey feel today?
A. Stacey is cheerful.

Q. What are the factors affecting Stacey's mood today?
A. She is happy she ran into Dave and had a nice conversation.

Q. What are Stacey's thoughts about her upcoming job move to a certain major metropolitan daily newspaper that shall not be named but is based in New York?
A. Stacey says the best thing "will be a tie between actually getting to edit stories again and having clerks to place calls for me."

The Greeting Card Companies Are Trying To Make Some Extra Bread

Are Passover cards a new phenomenon, or have these always existed and I'm only now noticing them?

Passover cards?

Either way, I'm not sure I approve.

Wednesday, March 5

The Four Questions Smell Like Teen Spirit

Q. What is Dave wearing today?
A. Dave is wearing a pair of shorts and a light blue polo shirt.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave feels as healthy as an ox.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave wonders why oxen have a reputation for being healthy. Surely oxen must get sick sometimes, he says. Come to think of it, Dave is not sure he has ever seen a single ox in his lifetime. He has eaten oxtail soup on several occasions, however.

Q. How was the soup?
A. Dave says it was quite delicious and very salty. It also tasted quite healthy.

A Boston Massacre Haiku

O Crispus Attucks!
Dead, but school kids everywhere
Have to learn your name.

The Boston Massacre happened 238 years ago today.

When my family moved back to the United States, I was thrown into a history class with a dotty teacher who said we should remember Crispus Attucks' name by recalling that the snow was crisp and that the colonists were attacked by the British.

At my previous schools in Madrid and London, we were simply taught these things. The teachers didn't give us harebrained mnemonic devices so that we could recall names on standardized multiple-choice tests a few days later.

Fortunately, I was reassigned quickly to advanced placement classes. I didn't have to deal with the Hooked on Phonics syllabus for American history for too long.

It's A Good Time For The Great Taste Of Bad Advertising

There's a new McDonald's advertisement on teevee that's really pissing me off.

Here's the synopsis:

(I'm recalling this all from memory, so you'll have to forgive me if I don't have the quotes exactly right, or if the events not presented in order.)

First, we viewers see a woman contorting herself to squeeze into her car. She can barely open her door because there's another car parked about three microns away from hers. She looks at the camera and says "Here's to close parkers."

Next, we're at the bus stop, where an earnest looking fellow says plaintively "Here's to waking up on Thursday and thinking it's Friday." The fellow next to him on the bench adds, "It's Wednesday."

Then we go inside an average-looking office -- gray cubicles and all -- where a nondescript guy in a white shirt and tie says "Here's to the accidental reply all." A coworker pops her head over the cubicle wall and scowls, "Nice, Jerry."

At last, we're treated to the glamor shot of some fattening albeit delicious McDonald's breakfast sandwich. The narrator says "Here's to the ..." whatever kind of sandwich it is. I can't remember.

Now, the analysis:

I don't know whether to laugh or cringe at this ad, because it's an abject failure. It's poorly conceived, written and structured.

McDonald's gives us three examples of modern annoyances: the close-parker, the e-mail snafu, that moment of realization that you had miscalculated the amount of time you'll have to spend in the office before the weekend begins.

Every single one of these irritations is introduced by someone saying "Here's to.

So how does McDonald's introduce its breakfast sandwich in the ad?

It has the narrator say "Here's to." The implication is that the McDonald's breakfast sandwich is the fourth item on this litany of aggravation -- not, as the advertising agency probably intended, the little treat that makes one's morning a little less stressful.

Here's to a job well done, McDonald's.

Tuesday, March 4

Come See The Stupider Side Of Sears

Is Sears suggesting we start shopping for Christmas and Hanukkah in March, or is it proposing that St. Patrick's Day is now a gift-giving occasion?

What holiday exactly does Sears suggest we purchase these gifts for?

I spotted this sign last night at the Sears Automotive Center at WestShore Plaza. According to the dates printed in little letters on the bottom, this isn't a sign that was accidentally left up from the last holiday shopping season. It's a new sign that went up some time in February.

Did someone think that "Automotive Gifts" wouldn't sell enough merchandise? Is that why the word "Holiday" was added?

In case Sears needs some help proposing a specific holiday, here are some of the special events that come up in March. I am nothing if not helpful.
  • American Red Cross Month
  • Women's History Month
  • Irish-American Heritage Month
  • Music in our Schools Month
  • National Craft Month
  • National Frozen Food Month
  • National Noodle Month
  • March 4: National Poundcake Day
  • March 14: Pi Day
  • March 17: St. Patrick's Day
  • March 20: Purim
  • March 23: Easter
  • March 24: National Chocolate-Covered Raisin Day

Four Questions For The History Books

Q. What is Dave wearing today?
A. Dave is wearing a pair of brown shorts and a blue striped shirt.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave feels a lot healthier than he did yesterday. He crosses his fingers and says he hopes he's through the worst of the cold.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave is ecstatic because he'll soon go on vacation with Complementary Spouse Britt Shirley, and after that he starts his new career with PricewaterhouseCooopers. It would take rhino tranquilizers to wipe the smile off Dave's face right now.

Q. What sports landmark did Dave see yesterday?
A. Dave walked past the spot where, nearly 90 years ago, Babe Ruth hit his longest home run:

Babe Ruth plaque

This is one of Dave's favorite historical markers in Tampa because (a) it's a great reminder of this area's rich spring training legacy; and, (b) it means I'm about to visit Britt, as the marker is right in front of his office.

I Think I'm Going To Like The Society Of Journalism Refugees

When you join the Society of Journalism Refugees, the University of Tampa confirms the existence of a secret ritzy upscale super-delicious gourmet cafeteria on its campus.

Usually, Tampa Tribune reporters in search of a decent lunch make the trek across Kennedy Boulevard head toward the large UT cafeteria in the Vaughn Center, a cacophonous, cavernous hall where the food is plentiful, but it's noisy, the lines can be long, noise is an issue, and — what was that? I'm sorry. I can't hear you. Can you repeat that? You'll have to speak up. Oh, did I mention the noise problem?

No one ever tells the journalists that they're just a few steps away from a second cafeteria with better food, no lines, no noise — and a host of friendly employees tending to your table and clearing your plates.

Here are a few pictures I took:

The upscale cafeteria at the University of Tampa
No journalists here!

Scenes from the ritzy UT cafeteria
Freshly made pastries.

I think I'm going to enjoy being a member of the Society of Journalism Refugees. The perks are delicious.

Monday, March 3

There Will Be Elephants

By now, you probably know that the gripping, remarkable film "There Will Be Blood" is based on "Oil!," Upton Sinclair's novel about the nascent oil industry in California.

What you probably don't know is that the movie's most famous line was inspired by Daal the elephant in a visit to Cheeburger Cheeburger in Fort Lauderdale on July 24, 2004:

Daal Drinks Your Milkshake
"I drink your milkshake. I drink it up."

Starbucks Dog

Here's one of the characters I see every morning at Starbucks:

Starbucks Dog

The Society Of Newsroom Refugees Presents The Four Questions

Q. What is Dave wearing today?
A. Dave is wearing a pair of jeans and a black polo shirt.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave still feels a little congested.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. This is the first Monday morning in more than eight years in which Dave hasn't been expected at the Tampa Tribune — except, of course, sick days and vacations.

Q. What does Dave think of the musical selections at Starbucks this morning?
A. Starbucks is now playing "We Are Family," which is a jarring departure from the usual Adult Contemporary fare and Baby Boomer pablum that's usually piped over the loudspeakers. Dave is worried that he has been somehow transported to the early 1980s, and that people are doing drugs and having sex behind the counter. He prays no one is abusing the espresso machine. Those things looks like they're a bitch to clean.

I Do Love A Man In Uniform

Don't ask, don't tell, do eat
Don't ask, don't tell, do eat

Saturday, March 1

The Four Questions Are Like Rain On Your Wedding Day, Or A Black Fly In Your Chardonnay

Q. What is Dave wearing today?
A. Right now Dave is wearing an old t-shirt and a pair of ratty shorts. These clothes are his pajamas. He is still in bed.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave feels sick. His throat is itchy and his head feels like it is packed with phlegm.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. In addition to handshakes, hugs and hearty good wishes, it seems that some of Dave's former coworkers at the Tampa Tribune also gave him flu or cold germs yesterday. Dave began feeling ill late yesterday afternoon, about an hour after he got home.

Q. Does Dave see the irony of catching the flu or cold from his coworkers in the office on his last day at work?
A. Dave says it is a remarkable coincidence. He doesn't recognize it as irony because he is a graduate of Emory University, and not the Alanis Morissette Literary Device Correspondence School.

Friday, February 29

Gonna Fly Now

On a recent trip to Target, I noticed that Dove had added wings to some of its chocolate Easter bunnies:

Fairy Bunny

These bunnies left me feeling unsettled, but I couldn't figure out why. The "Fairy Bunny" name was stupid, but not disturbing. Something about these bunnies just didn't seem right.

A few minutes later, I realized suddenly why these bunnies were so discomforting. As Complementary Spouse Britt Shirley and I headed toward the pharmacy counter, I caught sight of another product that had been improved several years ago with the addition of wings:

With wings!

Things I Won't Miss About Working At The Tribune, Part IV

In a few hours, I'll tape my final Business Report segment. It will air tomorrow morning on WFLA.

It's teevee time

I will not miss delivering the morning Business Report several times a week.

I actually enjoy taping these reports. For one thing, the WFLA crew I work with is made up with some of the greatest, funniest, most interesting people in the News Center. For another, writing these minute-long Business Report scripts has taught me how to be a better writer. Thanks to my experience in television, I know how to get the crux of a very complicated story across to readers or viewers in a very conversational way. I also feel I have developed a strong but conversational voice that comes across on TV and in print.

And let's be totally honest: it's very cool to be able to boast that you're on TV on the biggest station in the 13th biggest media market in the United States.

Here's what I won't miss about the morning Business Reports: I have been doing them for about seven years, and I can count on one hand the number of times anyone in the Tribune newsroom has thanked me. Some of the folks on the TV side of our organization have expressed their gratitude and complimented me on the Business Reports, but, alas, that has rarely been the case in my own newsroom.

Tribune reporters are not paid for doing WFLA work. A thank you would have been appreciated.

(I also will not miss putting on the makeup. I may have mentioned that part of the TV experience already.)

I won't miss doing the Business Reports — they were a hassle, they cut into my productivity, and they were, quite literally, a thankless task — but I will always be grateful that I had the opportunity to do them. That's not a contradiction. That's just the nature of working for newspapers, I guess.

Look Before You Leap Into The Four Questions

Leap day installments of the Four Questions come but once every four years.

Q. What is Dave wearing today?
A. Dave invites you to see for yourself:

What is Dave wearing today?


Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave feels today is just like every other Friday.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave expects another ho-hum day at work, with nothing significant or momentous to report.

Q. Is there any chance that Dave could be understating the importance of today's trek into the office?
A. Dave has never used irony to make a point.

Trivial Hirsute

I am contemplating growing a beard during in the three-week period before I start my new job with PricewaterhouseCoopers.

I understand that beards are quite fashionable now, while goatees are passé. However, I'm no slave to fashion. I was rocking a beard in the early 1990s, long before anyone else.

Paula and Dave at Lee's Bar Mitzvah
Dave and friend Paula Abramson at Lee's Bar Mitzvah

I'm one sexy Amish-looking dude, aren't I?

Thursday, February 28

I Came, I Saw, iPhone

When I accepted my new job with PricewaterhouseCoopers, I celebrated with a short trip to Orlando with Complementary Spouse Britt Shirley, and by buying some gifts for my parents, brother and sister-in-law, and (of course) Ryland, the world's cutest baby.

(Don't tell Ryland I got him something, because I haven't given it to him yet. I want him to be surprised. I'm pretty sure that he doesn't read my blog.)

I had not purchased anything for myself because, well, there was nothing I really needed. I didn't see a need to go on a shopping spree. I thought it best to be prudent.

Last night, I decided to reward myself with something that I didn't actually need, but that I have really wanted for a long time.

Dave and the iPhone

Of course, I couldn't buy myself an iPhone without buying one for Britt, could I?

Dave and two iPhones


It's not the most rational purchase I've ever made, but it's a nice way to treat myself. Also, I understand that everyone else in the Society of Journalism Refugees has an iPhone, and I really want to fit in at my first meeting.

One, Two, Three, Four — Tell Me That You Love The Four (Questions)

Today's Four Questions are being answered by Complementary Spouse Britt Shirley, who is joining me in Starbucks this morning.

Q. What is Britt wearing today?
A. Britt is wearing his Alabama sweatshirt because it's cold and he loves Alabama. "I'm a Sabanac, or Sabanatic, or Sabanatatic — whatever we are" he says.

Q. How does Britt feel today?
A. Britt says he feels iPhoney.

Q. What are the factors affecting Britt's mood today?
A. Britt says he likes the chill in the air, and he's having fun playing with his new iPhone. He is also looking forward to Spring Break. He and Dave head to Paris and London.

Q. How are Britt's fantasy hockey teams doing?
A. Britt's teams are doing quite well, thank you. They are Nos. 18, 19 and 20 out of 1,200 teams.

Wednesday, February 27

A Staff Farewell

Yesterday, some Tribune staffers took Russell Ray and I out to lunch to celebrate our departure from the newsroom.

Russell, who joined the Trib last year from the Tulsa World, heads to Tallahassee today to join the bureau there. I started working at the Tribune in 1999. My last day is Friday, as I have already mentioned multiple times on this blog; I start my new career as a senior writer for PricewaterhouseCoopers next month.

Here's a photo from lunch:

Tampa Tribune farewell lunch for Dave and Russell

From left to right: Cheryl Segal, me, Phil Morgan, Russell, a tiny sliver of Will Rodger's head, Mike Kersmarki, Christina Mancing, Rich Mullins, Ted Jackovics, Ken Knight and Vicki Lim. Both Will and Vicki are members of the WFLA/Tampa Tribune refugee society, which I will be eligible to join starting March 1.

Here's a somewhat blurry picture of Vicki and me:
Vicki and Dave

Who Needs Electricity When You've Got The Four Questions?

Q. What is Dave wearing today?
A. Dave is wearing a jacket over a heavy long-sleeve polo shirt over a button-down dress shirt. It is, once again, somewhat chilly in Florida. The long-sleeve polo shirt is probably more of a rugby shirt.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave feels like he doesn't fit in.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave appears to be the only person in Starbucks without an iPhone.

Q. How did Dave get past the Starbucks bouncer without an iPhone?
A. Dave showed him his MacBook. Sometimes, if you prove you own an Apple notebook, the bouncers will assume you own an iPhone as well.

Re: United (And It Doesn't Feel So Good)

If you see my mom today, be extra nice to her. She had to contend with this yesterday:

Mom's flight to Dulles

Notice the six-hour-and-43-minute delay?

Today's Memo: I Throw Down The Gauntlet

To: Headline writers and TV pundits
From: Dave
Subject: The gloves
Date: Feb. 27, 2008

I'm sick and tired of being told that "the gloves are coming off" or "the gloves came off" after each political debate in this current run up to the Presidential election.

Exactly how many pairs of gloves did Clinton, Obama, et al. don before the politicking began? They must have looked like boxers. How else can they afford to peel off another set of gloves every day or so?

It is time to retire the cliché, don't you think?

Tuesday, February 26

What Have I Done, What Have I Done, What Have I Done To Deserve The Four Questions?

Q. What is Dave wearing today?
A. Dave is wearing a black polo shirt and a pair of khaki pants.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave feels politically astute.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. At dinner last night, Complementary Spouse Britt Shirley and Rabbi Steve Meyerburgensteenwitzsky listed the merits and drawbacks of every potential running mate for John McCain and Barack Obama. No possibility went unmentioned — they even discussed Lloyd Bensten (primary disadvantage: too old; secondary disadvantage: too dead) and Edmund Muskie (primary disadvantage: the crying thing; secondary disadvantage: also too dead).

Q. If Dave were running for office, who would his running mate be?
A. Dave would choose comedian Zach Galifianakis. I believe the key to winning the election is to have a ticket that no one can pronounce. Simanoff-Galifianakis '08!

Monday, February 25

Autobahn Baby

The Cutest Baby in the World (now 8 months old) has received his first car. Go here to see how he performs behind the wheel.

Have They Ever TASTED A Peep?

Borders wants to sell you gift cards for Easter. Here are the signs posted above the gift card displays:

Have they ever tasted a Peep?

Obviously, this verbiage was written by someone who has never eaten a Peep. Peeps are basically sugar-coated sugar, mixed in with some high-fructose corn syrup to make them taste more sugary. One Peep contains 50 percent of the RDA for sugar — not the recommended daily allowance, but the recommended decade allowance.

There is no way that a Borders gift card, which contains mostly plastic and a magnetic strip, tastes sweeter than a Peep. Also, a gift card would be very hard to chew and the shards might cause serious damage to your digestive system.

Borders cards might be very thoughtful gifts, but they are not sweeter than Peeps. Don't be fooled!

Another advantage of Peeps over Borders gift cards: You can't make s'mores out of Borders gift cards! Check this Daily Dave blog post from 2006 for the directions.

As Seen In Borders

Cat Butts Mini-Kit
I don't know. I don't want to know.

Est-ce Que Je Peux Poser Quatre Questions, S'il Vous Plaît ?

Dave is practicing his French in preparation for his and Britt's upcoming trip to Paris.

Q. What is Dave wearing today?
A. Dave is wearing a pink dress shirt, a ridiculously ornate tie that he stole from Complementary Spouse Britt Shirley's closet, dress pants and a sports jacket.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave feels pretty and witty. That is all.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Today marks the start of Dave's final week at the Tampa Tribune. Dave is expecting five bittersweet days.

Q. What did Dave think of the Oscars ceremony last night?
A. Dave only watched the first half hour before he got bored and watched "The Simpsons Movie" instead. He did cheer when he saw the PricewaterhouseCoopers partners arrive on the red carpet, though! Dave wonders if he'll have to count the Oscar ballots as part of his new job. (Answer: no. He has already asked, in fact.)

Things I Won't Miss About Working At The Tribune, Part III

Makeup

I detest wearing makeup, even though it's required for teevee appearances. When I'm wearing it, I feel like my face is trapped under a thick layer of dirt. After I take it off, my skin is red and blotchy for a while. To be honest, I don't know if it's the makeup that irritates my skin, or the makeup removal cloths.

Putting on makeup is one part of my job I most certainly won't miss.

Friday, February 22

The Four Questions And The 27 Jennifers

Q. What is Dave wearing today?
A. Dave is wearing his teevee uniform: dress shirt, tie, sports jacket, and so on.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave is happier than he has felt in a long, long time.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave and Complementary Spouse Britt Shirley are counting down the days to their vacation in Paris and London vacation. Soon after they return, Dave begins his exciting new career with PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Q. What is Dave listening to these days?
A. Dave likes the song "27 Jennifers" by Mike Doughty. It reminds him of when he went to high school, and every other female student was named Stephanie. Dave rarely meets anyone named Stephanie today, so he wonders what ever became of all the Stephanies. Perhaps they all entered the Witness Protection Program and were given new identities.

Transubstantiation Never Tasted So Good

I was a little surprised to find these treats in the Easter candy/pre-diabetes aisle at Walgreen's last night:

Transubstantiation in the candy aisle?

The item on the right is a cross formed out of chocolate.

This seems absolutely sacrilegious to me, but what do I know? I'm a Member of the Tribe. I think chopped liver is delicious, and I consider choking down a wad of gefilte fish to be an annual religious obligation.

I called Complementary Spouse Britt Shirley, who is a graduate of many Southern Baptist vacation bible schools, for his opinion on the chocolate crosses. He says he thinks they're inappropriate and tacky. I don't recall his exact words, but they went something like this: Jesus schlepped a heavy wooden cross all the way up a hill to die for our sins so you can eat a piece of candy shaped like the thing that he suffered and died on? I don't think so.

You can tell I'm paraphrasing because, as a graduate of many Southern Baptist vacation bible schools, it is highly unlikely that Britt used the word schlep.

I asked Britt if he's ever seen a chocolate Jesus. He said no, but if candy companies are making chocolate crosses, it's probably only a matter of time before the chocolate Jesus finds its way onto store shelves.

When that happens, I wonder if we'll see these words printed on the packaging: "Savor the flavor of our Savior."

Thursday, February 21

Weather Update

WFLA meteorologist Jen Hill stopped by Starbucks this morning as I was doing my morning blogging:

Jen Hill and me

I adore Jen. She's bold and funny. She's not a weather girl — she's a weather WOMAN, damn it, and you better show her the respect she deserves!

Things I Won't Miss About Working At The Tribune, Parts I And II

Leaving the Tampa Tribune on Feb. 29 will be a bittersweet occasion.

Journalism is the only industry I have ever worked in. At the Tampa Tribune, I'm honored to work alongside some of the finest reporters, photographers and editors in the field. There are a lot of good people working for this newspaper, and I'm fortunate that I get to call some of them my friends.

Having said all that, there are quite a few things I certainly will not miss. Here are two of them:

The world's worst paper towel dispenser
This is the world's worst paper towel dispenser. It arrived in the men's bathroom on the third floor of the News Center about four years ago. Most of the time, it doesn't dispense paper towels. When it does, it's so sensitive that it spits out about two feet of paper when someone walks in the door.

Media General stock performance 2/2005 to 2/2008
This is a graph showing the closing stock prices for Media General, the Tampa Tribune's parent company, over the past three years. I am quite grateful that I will no longer have to follow the ups and downs (and downs and downs) of this stock on Wall Street.

The Four Questions For Thursday

Q. What is Dave wearing today?
A. On last night's "Late Night with David Letterman," celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse claimed "an apron is a great substitute for pants." Fortunately for everyone, Dave is ignoring this advice today.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave is a happy camper.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave's happy camping feeling have nothing to do with the actual hobby of camping. Dave has not been camping since the Transatlantic Council of the Boy Scouts of America hosted some kind of Father-Son jamboree in the early 1980s on the campus of the American Community School in Cobham, England. Thinking back, Dave doesn't even think that there was in fact any camping involved -- the program just ran into the night. Dave and his dad were probably relieved to get home and sit on a proper couch and watch Knight Rider or some other dreadful American program.

Q. What does Dave think of the new Knight Rider?
A. Dave didn't watch the new Knight Rider, but he's sure he would not have enjoyed it.

Wednesday, February 20

Out Of My Element

Spotted in a gas station convenience store in Lakeland Friday night, as Britt and I were heading to Walt Disney World:

Out of my element

I know I'm out of my element when I'm in a place where the energy drinks are marketed not to baseball players, nor soccer players, nor basketball players, nor runners — but to hunters.

Yes, that's Coca-Cola's new Vault soft drink — sold as a "hybrid energy soda" — in some kind of special camouflage packaging. Just to make sure no one misses the point, the marketing verbiage says "open season on thirst." I suppose that sounds more catchy that "Drink this stuff and then shoot defenseless animals with your gun."

Someday We'll Find It, The Rainbow Connection: The Lovers, The Dreamers and the Four Questions

Q. What is Dave wearing today?
A. Dave is wearing a black polo shirt and a pair of jeans. These super-casual Wednesday will come to an end once Dave starts with PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave feels confident, fortunate and grateful.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave has never been a lame duck in the work place before — at least, not recently. The last time he switched jobs, in 1999, he gave notice and was shown out the door that afternoon (which is pretty customary in newsrooms after a reporter announces he or she has taken a job at a competing paper in the same market). This time, Dave has two weeks to say farewell to his coworkers. He is touched that so many people are congratulating him and saying they will miss him. Dave has always known he has worked with some of the finest, kindest and most gracious people in the newspaper industry, and his experience over the past few days confirms this. Dave is also somewhat amused by the handful of petty people who have ignored him completely since he announced he was moving to PwC.

Q. Does Dave recall a quote from "Futurama" that deals with leaving one's job?
A. In one episode, corporate titan Mom takes over Planet Express and fires everyone. Her instructions to the suddenly fired employees: "Don't let the door hit you on the way out, 'cause I don't want ass prints on my new door."

Tuesday, February 19

New Photos: Walt Disney World

I have just posted photos from our weekend trip to Walt Disney World online. Check them out here.

Enjoy!

For some additional fun, after checking out the photos, you might want to simulate the experience of the Mission Space ride at Epcot. Here's how to do this: First, drink about 250 ml of tequila. Second, run around in circles for 15 minutes. Third, when you feel you're about to throw up, ask someone to grab you tightly and toss you around. When you can't take any more, walk down a long, featureless, overly lit hallway into a gift store. Thank you. This simulated Mission Space experience has been brought to you by Hewlett-Packard. Wouldn't you like to buy some ink cartridges for your printer now?

Total Eclipse Of The E-mail Inbox

British pop singer Bonnie Tyler was a big star in the early 1980s, delivering hits like "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and "Holding Out for a Hero."

Now, apparently, she has stumbled upon a new career: spammer.

Spam e-mail from Bonnie Tyler!

The moral of this story: Invest those royalties from the "Footloose" soundtrack wisely, boys and girls!

The Happiest Four Questions On Earth

Q. What is Dave wearing today?
A. Dave is wearing a black-and-white rugby shirt and a pair of brown pants. Normally, he'd wear a polo shirt on a day like today, but it's cold outside -- 55 degrees!

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave is mostly excited happy and excited. He is also a little nauseated.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave draws your attention to the following pie chart:

The factors affecting Dave's mood today

Q. Dave went on the Mission Space ride three days ago. How can he still feel nauseated?
A. Dave says it was a very intense ride. Dave says he was thisclose to throwing up. Only one Disney ride has ever made Dave want to vomit more, and that's It's a Small World.

Sunday, February 17

Complementary Spouse Britt Shirley and I have just returned home after visiting Walt Disney World for the first time in three years.

The trip was great fun. In 48 hours, we went to Epcot, Disney Hollywood Studios and Disney's Animal Kingdom. Also, we stayed at the Swan, one of the two postmodern Disney hotels designed by Michael Graves, one of my favorite architects.

Our only problem was a fairly significant rodent infestation at breakfast this morning:

Britt, Chip, Dave

I'll have a proper photo gallery posted online soon.

Snippet Of An Actual Conversation Between Complemenary Spouse Britt Shirley And Myself Last Night Regarding Toothpaste

Me (as a non sequitur): "Why don't they make cheesecake-flavored toothpaste?"

Britt (either mocking my last statement or proposing what he thinks will be the Next Big Thing for the food industry): "Well, why don't they make toothpaste-flavored cheesecake?"

Friday, February 15

A Few Thoughts On The PricewaterhouseCoopers Office Building In Potsdamer Platz In Berlin

PricewaterhouseCoopers office building at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin

It was almost one year ago — on March 5, 2007, to be exact — when I took this picture of PricewaterhouseCoopers' office building at Potsdamer Platz in the heart of Berlin.

I e-mailed the picture that night to Doug Stanley, a friend and former Tribune reporter who had recently joined PwC in Tampa. Perhaps you should learn some German, I suggested. You could be transferred here.

I remember very clearly what went through my head as I took this photograph in Berlin.

I asked myself what it would be like if I were to leave the world of newspapers, the only industry that has ever provided me a paycheck, and risk taking my talents and expertise into another field. I wondered what it would be like to work for an employer that's established all over the world, like my father did with Citibank and American Express. I realized that I have never worked for a company that's been listed on any kind of Best Employers list.

Most of all, I wondered what it would feel like if I were taking a picture of the PricewaterhouseCoopers office building in Potsdamer Platz not for Doug, but for me.

Now if I go back to Berlin, I'll know the answer.

Yesterday afternoon, I accepted an offer to join PricewaterhouseCoopers in Tampa. I gave my two weeks' notice at the Tribune earlier today.

I'm excited about my new position, and that I'll be working once again with the inimitable Doug Stanley.

Taking that picture in Berlin inspired me to think about my career. I didn't set out with the intention of working for PricewaterhouseCoopers. It's a wonderful coincidence, though.

I don't pretend to understand the way the universe works, and that's OK.

I'll be taking lots of pictures of PwC buildings from now on.

Flower Power

Complementary Spouse Britt Shirley sends me flowers every year on Valentine's Day.

I love getting the flowers at work, because, (a) they're always beautiful; and, more importantly, (b) they are a delightfully subtle political statement. I usually don't send him flowers because, as a university professor, he doesn't sit in a large open office with coworkers that can be made jealous. Also, yesterday he didn't teach or have office hours.

This year, the flowers arrived in a box and were delivered by FedEx:

A package on Valentine's Day

Inside, I found a bouquet of tulips, a small package of Godiva chocolates, a small package of Godiva chocolates, a handful of crushed glass that at appeared at one time to be a little vase. Fortunately, I still had the vase from the flowers Britt sent me for our anniversary in November.

Tulips

Tulips are my favorite flowers because they are my mother's favorite flowers. (Chrysanthemums, incidentally, are my least favorite flowers because they are hard to spell.)

I tried calling FTD about the broken vase. I got a recorded message explaining that they were not taking any phone calls because they were taking too many phone calls. I wish I were making that up.

The Four Questions Are Particularly Mysterious This Morning

Q. What is Dave wearing today?
A. Dave is wearing some clothes, and he suggests you check this blog later today for a big announcement.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave feels you should check back later today for a big announcement.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave is preparing to make a big announcement later today on this blog.

Q. Is Dave preparing to announce something important later today on this blog?
A. Perhaps.

Thursday, February 14

Mo Candy

I believe I am offended by name of this candy bar.

Big Mo candy

Consider this exchange from "Will & Grace" from 2001:

Grace: Jack, I really wanted to be by myself.
Jack: I know. Me too. Anyway, you know, sometimes my mom would take to her bed for weeks, and I was the only one who could help. She'd say, "Jackie, sing me a song," and I would. She'd say, "Cuddle with me, Jackie," and I would. I do believe that that may have been the root of me becoming an entertainer.
Grace: Either that or it was the root of you becoming a big 'mo.


That is all.

You Have Placed A Chill In My Heart And My Four Questions

Let's beginulate!

Q. What is Dave wearing today?
A. Dave is dressed to tape teevee today: he is wearing a blue dress shirt, a sportsjacket and a gold-and-black tie. He is also wearing jeans, because he only needs to appear professional from the waist up.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave feels all Valentine-y.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave exchanged cards and hugs this morning with Complementary Spouse Britt Shirley.

Q. What is the origin of the title of this morning's Four Question's post?
A. Dave is paraphrasing the Eurythmics' song "You Have Placed a Chill in my Heart." It appeared on the album Savage, and, to Dave's recollection, was not a hit.

Dave says this brilliantly written song about a dysfunctional relationship sprung to mind because the title mentions hearts — appropriate for Valentine's Day — and because it is quite chilly this morning in Tampa.

Weather widget for Feb. 14, 2008

Wednesday, February 13

More Proof Of My Nephew's Brilliance

My brother forwards this photo:

Ryland on his Bluetooth headset

My nephew isn't even eight months old and already he's hard at work, talking to clients and negotiating business deals on his Bluetooth headset! I would not be surprised if he earns his first $25 million before he starts eating solid food.

Four Questions For A Wettish Wednesday

Q. What is Dave wearing today?
A. Dave had intended to wear his amazing technicolor dreamcoat today but, alas, it is still at the cleaners.

Q. How does Dave feel today?
A. Dave feels somewhat impatient.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave's mood today?
A. Dave believes that the tired adage "A watched pot never boils" should be updated to "A watched cellphone never rings."

Q. Has Dave recently received any pictures of park signs from his mother — in particular, any signs containing funny verbiage?
A. Yes, Dave has. Funny you should ask.