So how early is too early?

Philosophical question for tonight: How early is too early to vacuum?

My parents made it back "home" from Arizona this week, so we're having them over tomorrow for a barbecue. Nothing too shocking there (though I'm definitely looking forward to it). But part of the preparation process in a house that holds a golden retriever and two siamese cats is, of course, vacuuming. That means tomorrow morning, I'm gonna be firing up the old Riccar 8955 and kickin' some dust-bunny ass, Alice style.

Do I wait until all the kids have woken naturally to greet their happy Saturday? Of course not. We have teenagers. So I'm going to be waking somebody up. How long do I give them?

If it was a neighbor thing, I think I've got the standards figured out. I don't have a big problem with starting the lawnmower on Saturday anytime after 9.

So it's 9 for neighbors…but what about kin?


Does God really love us? What’s Ben got to say on the subject?



When I was a freshman in college there was a band on campus called Big & Scary. In spring semester, I happened to be in an art class with the bass player. One day he came to class in a Big & Scary t-shirt with a testimonial quote on the back:

“Outta hand. I love these guys!”
– Bob Guccione, Penthouse

“Cool,” I noted naively. “When did Guccione see you guys?”

I still remember the shame I felt under that withering stare of incredulity. Obviously, the famed publisher of Penthouse Magazine had never seen St. Joseph, Minnesota’s most popular rock band, circa 1985.

Ever since then I’ve been just a little jaded and cynical about "quotes.” So tonight I wanted to look into one of my favorites. Did Ben Franklin really say, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy”?

I really, really hoped he had. It’s a great quote and I wanted to believe in it. But, much like the Guccione quote, something about it just feels too good to be true. says he did. And I’ve always kind of trusted that site.

Amy Packham thinks he said it. And she’s the Quotations Editor for BellaOnline. Quotations Editor, for Chrissake! It’s her friggin’ job, right? She should know what she’s talking about.

Even George Will – to whom I frequently ascribe genius status – has fallen into this trap. Check out this otherwise FANTASTIC article in which he manages the difficult task of misquoting the misquote. (Ben most certainly didn’t say that beer is “living proof…” Without getting into fermentation and living yeasts and such, can we all just agree that beer is not alive?)

But something still didn’t feel quite right. If he really said it, shouldn’t I be finding it somewhere in context? Where did he say it? To whom? Was he drunk?

My nagging little doubts grew to aching big doubts when I read this chunk of Ben’s autobiography. (Although, who’s to say the biography’s legit? Everyone knows the internet’s full of charlatans and con artists.)

At my first admission into this printing-house I took to working at press, imagining I felt a want of the bodily exercise I had been us'd to in America, where presswork is mix'd with composing. I drank only water; the other workmen, near fifty in number, were great guzzlers of beer. On occasion, I carried up and down stairs a large form of types in each hand, when others carried but one in both hands. They wondered to see, from this and several instances, that the Water-American, as they called me, was stronger than themselves, who drank strong beer! We had an alehouse boy who attended always in the house to supply the workmen. My companion at the press drank every day a pint before breakfast, a pint at breakfast with his bread and cheese, a pint between breakfast and dinner, a pint at dinner, a pint in the afternoon about six o'clock, and another when he had done his day's work. I thought it a detestable custom; but it was necessary, he suppos'd, to drink strong beer, that he might be strong to labor. I endeavored to convince him that the bodily strength afforded by beer could only be in proportion to the grain or flour of the barley dissolved in the water of which it was made; that there was more flour in a pennyworth of bread; and therefore, if he would eat that with a pint of water, it would give him more strength than a quart of beer. He drank on, however, and had four or five shillings to pay out of his wages every Saturday night for that muddling liquor; an expense I was free from. And thus these poor devils keep themselves always under. /i/

Damn. Ben didn’t even LIKE beer. Or even beer drinkers! What the hell?

And then I started finding the quote in context. Sh!t. This link sums it up pretty well. But the short version is that Benjamin Franklin actually said:

“Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards; there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine; a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.”

Seriously? Aw, crap. Not only did he not say it. Not only did he look down his nose at beer drinkers in general. It was even worse. He was a wine snob. (I love you both, Corinne and Dad.)

I’m going to choose to take a positive angle on this revelation though. Sure, Ben Franklin didn’t say it. All that really means is that the quote is available, right? So I’m calling dibs on it. Here goes:

“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”
– Greg Skoog

Feel free to quote me on that.

Department of Homeland Security Memo #1467-3 – Construction of Homemade Nunchaku


Okay, this is among the more brilliant of inventions ever to come out of Josh & Quinn's test lab and I, for one, sleep better knowing this kind of ingenuity blooms still on the fertile plains of Sartell.

Sure, they were an imposing defensive strike force with just their pocket knives. Then when they started whittling the bark off of big sticks a few years ago? Seriously. Who the hell's gonna mess with us then? But now – with the new IND (improvised nunchaku devise)… Um, Mr. Bin Laden? You have a call on line 1. BAM!

In the hands of an untrained rube, this tandem-packed smack attack is merely devastating. But factor in the certified, ninja-style ass-whuppin' skeelz of Quinn's purple belt and the IND turns into a weapon of mass destruction. Armed in this way, our front-line defenders have become the twin titans of Taliban terror.

So plot your worst, all you insurgents (from wherever you may be insurging). Our defenses are ready.

See also: Double-bladed death scythe and Battle-hardened bullwhip.

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Sweet agony


Took two hard laps at the Plum Creek Trail today over lunch. (Something about that sentence sounds ambiguously gross. But I’m going to leave it.) It was a fantastic ride. Such a good time and I’m so blessed to have a trail like that right outside our office door.

It was just such an idyllically beautiful, peaceful day. I really couldn’t imagine conditions being any better. So, when I hit the trailhead and the first song out of my iPod was Weezer’s The Greatest Man That Ever Lived, I was feeling a little cocky.

Gophers? Robins? Make way or taste the aluminum wrath of my whirling spokes of destiny. Dirt flying, pedals cranking, sweat running…

And the thing that made the ride so fantastic was the zen of being so completely in the moment yet apart from the moment. I was a rolling splatter of chaos in an otherwise completely serene painting. And I think the juxtaposition of my frenetic energy sweeping through that pastoral setting was, overall, more relaxing than if I’d just been walking and another soft, gentle element in a soft, gentle tableau. My way was more cleansingly cathartic.

After one lap my blood was pumping, my lungs were complaining and my mind was locked in. So I hit the second lap, flying – twitching corners, gutting out rises and plunging into drops… until I met a particularly obtrusive birch tree.

No bones were broken. No blood was spilled. It was just a pure, clean, solid hit, squarely on the left shoulder. It was the kind that throws you right off the bike and into the trees on the far side of the trail. And the pain was the icing on the cake.

I knew I wasn’t seriously hurt. I knew my bike wasn’t damaged. So I just stood in the middle of the trail, smiling and embracing the moment. I was there. And it was good.

Great ride.

Dear Mr. Selig,


I am writing today to express my extreme displeasure – nay, dare I say, outrage – with your product, “Major League Baseball.”

I have, for years, been a faithful consumer of your product. I remained a faithful consumer even though my local Major League Baseball retailer was the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. I remained faithful even when John Gordon was named the official voice of the Minnesota Twins. (We all still miss you, Herb.) I even continued to consume healthy doses of Major League Baseball throughout the steroid era.

I embraced, and even championed, questionable “product enhancements” like interleague play and the imbalanced schedule. I tolerated goofiness-in-the-name-of-tradition in things like the continued lack of a salary cap and your glassy-eyed denial of the advantages that expanded instant replay would deliver.

All this I have borne, and happily. However, there is just some crap, up with which I will not put. I am speaking, in case you hadn’t yet deduced it, of the appalling lack of Monday night games.

I assume the dearth of Monday night games is in some way correlated to the abundance of Sunday afternoon games (nearly all of those Sunday games being the concluding games of their series). It’s never been adequately explained to me, but my assumption is that this is some sort of concession to the players. With Monday off after a Sunday afternoon game, then players (home team players, at least) get Sunday evening and all day Monday off with their families before traveling to their next series late Monday night or on Tuesday morning. Correct?

Believe me, I am not without sympathy for the plight of the players. Schedule-wise, baseball is, indeed, a man’s game. No candy-assed once-a-week stuff like football. And your lads go at it for a full six months (and hopefully more!).

But must these Twins-baseball-free Mondays be SO frequent? You see, on Monday nights, I am in the employ of a certain neighborhood liquor vendor (Monday being the quietest night of the Minnesota liquor week). And, with no Twins game to listen to, I’m left with classic rock* and idle time for writing angry letters to sports commissioners. Lots of angry letters.

I look forward to your earnest efforts to achieve a satisfactory resolution to this defect.

Win Twins,


*Here’s a rant for a different day: How is it that “classic rock” radio stations haven’t changed their playlists in 20 years? Where they were playing stuff from the 70s and 80s in the 80s, shouldn’t they be playing stuff from at least the 90s now? When was it agreed upon that there was a locked-in time frame that constituted the “classic rock era”? Trust me, I’m going to go off on this one someday soon.

Try harder, redux

Hey, I'm on a roll! Twice in less than a week I get the tearful plea from someone I love to, "Try harder."

This has really become a disturbing trend. And the fallout is frightening. How do you go about fundamentally remaking your personality?

Could you if you wanted to?

What if you didn't want to?

If you didn't want to, what would that say about you as a person?

If you tried and weren't able to, what would that say about you as a person?

Where does a guy go to stock up on ambition, dreams, assertiveness and consistency? And, if any of these things are as hard to come by as I predict they are, how much trouble am I in since, evidently, "trying hard" isn't my strong suit?

Sorry – I know this "Nothing Box" was supposed to be frequently populated by the simple, nonsensical ramblings of a guy's brain. But the bottom-line stats say that more of you want to read about me getting in touch with my emotions – whether I want to on a consistent basis or not.

Totally looking forward to it. (I should've warned you. I knew this 40-day thing was going to turn me into a whiny little bitch sooner or later. I'll be fine as soon as I get these damned emotions stuffed back down where they belong.)

Epic fail

Sorry. I wrote a post for tonight, but it sucked too much to push it live. (I couldn't even bring myself to type the whole thing.) Corinne concurred that it was unpostworthy.

Unfortunately, I've got nothing else tonight. 

Hopefully I'll be more literate tomorrow.