We’re going to make our lawn tap out

I don't know what the front lawn ever did to me and my wife to warrant every ounce of our scorn, anger and hatred, but I'm sure its sorry by now.

For the second or third time in a year we've accidentally let the sprinkler timer go offline for months on end until our front lawn looks as frail and sickly as Harry Dean Stanton.

If gardening was a no-holds barred submission fight I think our battered lawn would be on the verge of tapping out at this point.

All the recent storms have done is help weeds sprout all over the place.

I never expected to bring the Garden of Eden to my neighborhood with my own hands and hard work but I certainly didn't expect to become the King of Scorched Earth either.  

Considering that there's probably going to be water rationing this summer is there any point of trying to revive the poor, pathetic patch of lawn if the local water district is going to cut us off as soon as we have something to be proud of?

I never should have wasted money on gardening books and yard tools because at this point it's painfully clear that my wife and are cursed with black thumbs.  The front yard is a mess and the back yard is just a glorified pile of dirt and pine needles.

I've only been a homeowner for a year and I'm already the guy on the block with "That House," the eyesore, the worn down shack that drags down everyone's home value.

Then again, if I ruin everyone's property value I might be able to appeal my property tax bill and save some serious dough which really appeals to the cheapskate in me.

When I look at it that way the front lawn actually looks pretty good.

Who needs curb appeal?

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How much trouble is this keyboard worth?

Am I the only person who isn't a flake on Craigslist?

I know it's a free service and I really shouldn't expect much especially after acknowledging the fact that the San Francisco Chronicle's free online classified ad service is a waste of time (http://twgb.blogspot.com/2009/02/gee-hard-to-believe-newspapers-are.html).

But I'm going to complain anyway.

All I want to do is sell a spare keyboard to cut down on the clutter around the house.

All I'm asking for is $10, a nice round number that gives me some diaper money for the soon-to-arrive baby and gives someone a great keyboard that I'd still be using if Windows Vista didn't hate it.

At this point it's painfully clear that my ad on Craigslist of only getting nibbles from the shallow end of the gene pool as I troll around looking for a buyer.

Where's Darwinism when I need it?

If the people responding to my ad were animals in the jungle they would have been tiger food a long time ago.

On Presidents' Day I wasted about an hour of my life trying to sell the keyboard to some old guy who wanted to hook it up to his Playstation.

After playing phone tag all afternoon Playstation Man finally dropped by my house, bought the keyboard and left.

Nice, easy sale I thought. And good for the weird old dude, he's getting exactly what he wants for a great price.

But nothing is ever that easy in my life.

Five minutes later Playstation Man was back on my doorstep complaining that the keyboard is designed to plug into a PS/2 port but he needs to hook it into a USB port.

After wasting 10 minutes digging through a pile of old computer junk in my office to try and find him a converter I threw in the towel and give the freak his $10 back.

On his way out the door he groused that I shouldn't say its a USB keyboard in my ad.

I have to admit that I actually felt a little shame for posting a fraudulent ad on Craigslist … until I double checked my ad:

"Microsoft Intellitype keyboard, model "Microsoft Natural MultiMedia Keyboard 1.0A" with software for sale for $10."

I know the letters u, s and b are technically scattered throughout the ad but at no point are they actually organized into the acronym "USB."

Thanks for the grief  Playstation Man.  I can't believe I made it a point to come home early to deal with this flake.

But the fun doesn't end with him.

Last week I received an e-mail from Eric who was interested in buying the keyboard despite his apparent physical problems:

"i am interested in the keyboard i have the same keyboard but one of my legs is broken. please call me at XXX-XXX-XXXX thank you eric"

I wanted to write back, "If you want to buy the keyboard it's all yours. By the way, I severely twisted my ankle last week," but I decided to wasted a little more time out of my life by going the extra mile and calling him.

Turns out the broken leg isn't on Eric's body.

It's on Eric's keyboard and he's trying to find the cheapest way possible to get a new leg because those heartless bastards at Microsoft won't give him one.

Yeah, life is hard like that sometimes Eric.

He never had the guts to come right out and ask me if I would just sell one leg off of my keyboard but I got the sense that he really wanted to pop the question.

Needless to say, I never heard back from Eric.

But I did hear from Vince last weekend.

Just like Playstation Man and Eric, Vince really wanted the keyboard.

Unfortunately, just like Playstation Man and Eric, Vince was an idiot because he realized a few minutes into our phone conversation that there was just one little problem: I don't live in San Francisco.

That really seemed to come as a shock to Vinny Boy because he asked me a couple of times if I live or work in San Francisco or visit it on a frequent basis.

Apparently Vinny can't read because my ad on Craigslist clearly says that I'm not located anywhere near San Francisco.

You just can't put a price on aggravation.

At this point I'd pay $10 to get back all the time I wasted on these people.

Bad sports

It’s all fun and games in pro sports until someone gets sent up the river, sticks a fork in a judge and pops a hammy …

* The Round Mound of Rebound, Charles Barkley, is headin’ for the slammer for 5 days after pleading guilty to a DUI charge (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=3929251).

Will TNT will be there to broadcast some hoops from the prison yard in Arizona?

I hope so because I’d love to see Sir Charles hit the court with some hardened criminals in the desert.

Ernie Johnson and Kenny Smith (http://www.nba.com/tntovertime/) can run the studio show out of a solitary confinement cell and Craig Sager (http://www.tbs.com/stories/story/0,,120594,00.html) can roam the sidelines in one of his gawdawful suits (http://images.google.com/images?q=craig%20sager&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&hl=en&tab=wi).

A few words of sage advice for Sager: Stay away from an all orange suit pal. You don’t want any trigger-happy guards mistaking you for a prisoner.

* I’ll freely admit that I love baseball and I have to tip my hat to former pitcher Jim Bunning for carving out a career in politics after he ran out of gas on the diamond.

But Bunning was way out of the strike zone with his comment that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be dead in less than a year (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090223/ap_on_go_su_co/bunning_ginsburg).

Kicking dirt on home plate, that’s cool and always good for a laugh.

Prematurely throwing dirt on Ginsburg’s grave while she deals with cancer?

Uncool dude, very uncool.

* With fantasy baseball season right around the corner I’m on the prowl for every little tidbit of information that could possibly give me a slight edge heading into my drafts.

I took Peter Gammons’ blog on ESPN (http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?entryID=3927691&name=gammons_peter) to heart this morning when he said Toronto Blue Jays slugger Vernon Wells is in the best shape of his life.

I’ve always I loved Wells’ bat but it feels like he’s burned me year after year with one injury after another. Gammons’ column gave me a little inspiration to take one more shot at drafting Wells.

But not so fast.

According to ESPN, Wells injured his hamstring today and could miss most of spring training (http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/spring2009/news/story?id=3929235).

So much for Wells being in the best shape of his life.

Mental leftovers

A Sunday swing through all the odds and ends that didn't quite fit into any other blog post during the week …

*  Miracle of miracles, my wife and I finally watched our Netflix rental this weekend.

It only took about 2 months to pop "Hancock" (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0448157/) into the Blu-ray player.  Gotta admit that I wasn't too impressed.

There was comedy, action, some fantasy, some odd efforts at emptional intimacy but not enough of any of the above to make "Hancock: anything special.

You're welcome for the free money Netflix, now send me another movie I can procrastinate about for several weeks.

*  A friend asked me at a recent lunch with me and my wife if I've gained any sympathy weight as my wife's pregnancy has progressed into the third trimester.

Yeah, sure, it's all sympathy weight.

If my monster gut and swelling chin is sympathy weight then I must have sympathy for all the suffering in the world.

* For all of you aspiring rappers out there, here's a classic primer on rapping from none other than Mr. T: http://www.5min.com/Video/How-to-Rap-according-to-Mr-T-55380303

* Welcome back to Oakland Jason Giambi.

Oh his first day at spring training with the A's, G unleashed this gem when a reporter asked him how long he intends to keep playing baseball (

 
"Until they tear this 'uni' off me. What else am I gonna do? Maybe be a bouncer at strip joints. That's about all I'm qualified to do."

I've missed that crazy bastard.

It should be fun watching him swing for th fences in green and gold again this season.

How low can I go?

It hit me Friday afternoon: I am the scum of the earth.

A co-worker was laid off this week and my natural reaction was to feel terrible for the guy.  He's a good person and a hard worker and the pink slip seemed to come out of the blue.

We can all empathize with what a horrible situation he's been thrown into.

Sadly, shamefully, the second thought to quickly pop into my conniving little mind was, "I wonder if I can move into his old office?"

Even sadder is the fact that I was in our human resource manager's office first thing in the morning on this guy's last day to try and stake a claim to his soon-to-be-vacated office.

Even I have to admit that is beyond being a vulture.

I'm a filthy little weasel.

A rat has more class than I do.

I aspire to be a rat.

And this isn't the first time I've sunken to this level at my current place of work.

When another co-worker left for a new job last year I was in her office within minutes of hearing about her departure to lobby for some of her office swag.

I came out of that one with a new chair, printer, keyboard and some nasty looks from people who waited a little too long to move in for a piece of the pie.

But for some strange, twisted reason I just can't help myself from lusting after a new office.  I blame all my years working in a newsroom for this reprehensible character flaw.

In a newsroom, a desk to call your own is a precious thing and you have to move fast to claim your territory.

If you're a little too polite and wait a little too long you get to spend every night wandering around the room like a hobo trying to find a place to work.

But if you park your rump at someone's desk as soon as they walk out out of the newsroom on their last day of work and start putting up framed pictures of family and pets as quickly as possible, then you're well on your way to finally having a place to call home.

Clearly, I'm far from alone in trying to capitalize on turnover at work but I am far more tasteless about it than anyone else I know.

All I can do is sit back and hope karma doesn't even the score with me anytime soon.

But if I do get my comeuppance in the near future I won't begrudge anyone who swoops in to snag my office, my chair, my printer or anything else of value that I leave behind.

When you're a weasel who aspires to be a rat it's hard to give the vultures a bad time.

Hairy situation

Some of my co-workers are all abuzz about fuzz — the little patch of wimpy whiskers aspiring to become a goatee on my face, to be exact.

Presidents' Day weekend offered me the opportunity to be lazy so I decided to give my razor a break and my goatee a chance to flourish — if that's possible for a guy cursed with feeble Asian facial hair.

If I'm lucky I might be able to get a Pat Morita-circa "Karate Kid"-look goat with a few years of steady growth aided by regular applications of Rogaine.

There's no doubt in my mind that it'd be far easier and drama free to show up to work with a new haircut rather than the faint outline of a goatee in its infancy.

At least a new haircut it obvious, it has a finished look.  People know what you're trying to do.

If I shaved my head over the weekend I'm sure I wouldn't even get a second glance from anyone at the office.

But a few days of stubble around your mouth?  It draws some strange looks from co-workers, a lot of double takes and sideways glances.

Some co-workers get right to the point and ask me what I'm up to.

I like to pretend for a few seconds that I have no idea what they're talking about and then act terrified when I realize something ugly is growing on my face.

Others joke and ask me what kind of glue I'm using to keep the small handful of hair attached to my face.  I like to say its Gorilla Glue (http://www.gorillaglue.com/) because it's good stuff but Mighty Putty (https://www.mightyputty.com/flare/next) would be a decent alternative.

I would have gone for the gusto and tried to grow a beard but Joaquin Phoenix kind of killed that look after his incoherent appearance on "The Late Show with David Letterman" last week (http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/zontv/2009/02/joaquin_phoenix_letterman_ston.html and http://blogs.thetimes.co.za/minor/2009/02/16/rolling-stone-on-joaquin-phoenixs-letterman-appearance/).

There are still some co-workers who catch a glance of my face fuzz and look like they're witnessing a train wreck.

And maybe they are, but only time will tell.

All I can do is preach patience because facial hair takes time in the same way the Hoover Dam, Empire State Building, Eiffel Tower, and Great Wall of China weren't completed overnight.

As the old saying goes, Rome wasn't built in a day.

Even the Earth took a little time to develop.

Heck, the original Holy Hombre himself, God, allegedly took six whole days to put the planet together if you're inclined to believe that sort of thing.

I think my goatee is entitled to at least six days of growth before I sentence it to death by lethal shaving.

We are doomed

I e-mailed my wife yesterday afternoon after reading this column by the Contra Costa Times' business editor and my former co-worker Drew Voros http://www.contracostatimes.com/news/ci_11724112?nclick_check=1 and told her it's all over.

We're doomed.

Taxed into oblivion.

Resistance is futile.

Voros makes the argument that Californians are going to be hurting in a major way once the state approves a 12 cent per gallon gas tax and a sales tax increase up to 1 percent.

Of course, Voros is the same guy who kept referring to the total cost of President Obama's stimulus plan as millions, rather than billions, of dollars in his column last week.

But I'll give Voros the benefit of the doubt this time and err on the side of hysterical fear of financial ruin.  

I was already in full cheapskate mode with my wife to brace for the arrival of our first child and the additional costs that come with bringing another mouth to feed into the house.

But if you think I'm cheap now just wait until I re-crunch our 2009 budget around the numbers in Voros' column.

It'll be time for the Extreme Home Edition of Penny Pinching Till it Hurts.

I can see it now:

* We'll be in yellow-let-it-mellow-if-it's-brown-flush-it-down mode for eternity to save a few bucks on water.

* We'll have to tell all our friends and family that we love them and we'll miss them dearly but we're too cheap to drive anywhere and go out for lunch or dinner with them.

* And we'll definitely give every single item of clothing (yes, I'm talking underwear) an eyeball and sniff test before we waste money on water, electricity and detergent washing anything.

Heck, we shouldn't even eat at home if we can avoid it.  How can we afford it once the looming tax storm descends upon us?

We need to find some way to hibernate so we can stop consuming and start saving until the baby comes!

It looks like there's only one way out of this mess.

Have as many kids as possible ASAP.

I'm thinking 14 kids would do the trick.

And maybe, if we're really lucky, we could get hurt on the job so we can draw disability payments from the state.

If we can pull off that trick then we can let the state and misguided donors, TV networks and corporate sponsors take care of us.

But that's already been done hasn't it?

Thanks for stealing our thunder Nadya Suleman, damn you and your hyperactive womb!

It looks like all I can do is work hard, tightly manage the household budget and take responsibility for taking care of myself and my family.

That just might be crazy enough to work.