The Spiderman Mask

While celebrating Christmas with my mom’s extended family, my cousin Scott noticed this doosey of a photo on the wall at my parent’s house.

Kids in the 1980's

cousin Scott, brother Andy, little Rob, circa 1983-1984

Andy’s cut-off shirt and breezy short shorts can surely be explained by the fact that it was the early 80’s. But why am I wearing gloves and a Spiderman winter mask? Why are Scott & I wearing capes? Why am I wearing no shirt and why is Scott wearing no pants? Why does Andy have a piece of the Death Star on his arm? This photo raises more questions than answers.

The $5 Camera

In 2001 or so digital cameras started to go from ridiculously expensive to only moderately expensive. Only the geekiest of people owned them. The rapid drop in prices, though, led to a memorable discussion between my roommate Scott and his friend Jeff, where they wondered how long it would take before disposable cameras went digital. A few years later you could get digital copies from disposable cameras. I don’t think the disposables were actually digital, I think they just scanned the film and provided people with a Picture CD along with the prints.

I was reminded of this discussion while finishing our Christmas shopping. I stumbled upon a keychain digital camera, which normally sold for $15 but was on clearance for $5. $5 for a working digital camera. I purchased one (just one) and now Melissa is questioning my sanity.

$5 camera $5 camera

The Good

It only cost $5. It is extraordinarily small. It came with the required AAA battery, as well as a USB cable and a case. It also has a keychain built-in.

The Bad

The AAA battery was nearly dead on arrival. The USB cable has some non-standard connector, so it can’t be used for anything else. Rather than do the sensible thing and have it mount as a USB mass storage device, it requires some Windows-only driver. It has 16 mb (that’s mega, with a M) of memory which holds only 20 photos at 352 x 288. It also seemed to randomly overwrite a few of the photos I took (not that they were even worth saving).

The Ugly

The photo quality speaks for itself. These are full size, unedited photos from the $5 camera.

Photo of Rob taken with $5 camera

Photo of Rob taken with $5 camera

Photo of Rob taken with $5 camera

The Write-In

In early 2004 my state senator, Dan Rutherford, sent me (and presumably most/all other voters in my district) a questionnaire asking our opinions on various issues. Nice. As I read through the questions I became a little suspicious. I’m really good at taking multiple choice tests. These questions were leading to one specific right answer, which often was not the answer I would have chosen had the question been worded more neutrally. In many cases I chose the wrong answer. I included my email address in the provided space and I mailed it in.

He was kind enough to send me an email wishing me a happy birthday, but he also sent emails asking to help campaign for George W. Bush and various local Republicans. I don’t think I signed up for that.

When I received the 2004 election guide I was slightly disappointed to see that he was running unopposed, so my only option was to not vote in that race.

Instead, on a whim, I decided to run as a write-in candidate. It turns out this was more complicated than one would imagine. Write-ins have to actually register with the county clerk in order for the votes to get counted. Apparently when I did this the information somehow made its way to the local newspaper, who mentioned it. Additionally, since this race was larger than one county I would have had to register in other counties as well. That was more effort that I really wanted to devote to this endeavor, so I didn’t bother. I didn’t really know anyone in other counties in the district and I had no intention of campaigning. I was only doing this to give myself a choice (albeit and extremely unlikely one).

Now, who would vote for me? The biggest problem here was that I lived right on the edge of town, and the few blocks around me were in a different state senate district that the rest of town where all my friends lived. I sent email to a few people I knew informing them they could write my name if they wanted to. We voted. I didn’t ask anyone if they voted for me, but a few people told me they did. I did. Melissa did. One of Melissa’s professors did. A friend from the running club did. Well, that’s something.

The results came in. I officially received one vote.




So 25% (or possibly fewer) of my votes were counted? Yikes! Needless to say, I did not win the election.

The Fall King

I never rode a mountain bike before moving to Nicaragua two years ago. Then I rode nothing but a mountain bike for a year. I learned quickly. After a couple weeks of shorter rides, one weekend I rode around Volcan Maderas. It took 3h (I later did it as fast as 1h45m).

The next weekend I rode around Volcan Concepción. It took 4h30m. As I was riding the last kilometer through the village of Mérida I approached a very small ditch. Rather than move 10 feet in either direction I decided to roll right through it. I was tired. My front wheel rolled down one side of the ditch. Just as I was expecting it to roll right up the other side my bike came to a complete stop. Before I could get my feet off the pedals I just fell over sideways.

It didn’t hurt. But there were a lot of locals around, and many people saw this. It wouldn’t have been so bad had there not been a group of half a dozen adolescent boys right in front of me. Of course, they laughed hysterically at the sight of a gringo falling over on a bike.

One of them somehow knew enough broken english to explain to me what had happened: “You fall! You fall! You the fall king! You fall!”

I fell one other time in Nicaragua, under similar circumstances. I reached a steep uphill without enough momentum. I came to a stop, couldn’t put my foot down fast enough and fell over sideways. This fall had a much smaller crowd, thank goodness.

Today I fell while mountain biking. Well I wasn’t actually mountain biking. I was standing still in the gravel parking lot ready to start mountain biking. I had one foot on the pedal, shifted my weight that direction, couldn’t get my foot off the pedal fast enough, and fell over sideways mid-conversation with a friend. This one actually hurt a little bit more than I initially let on. Now my leg is scraped up and my knee is bruised. ¡Que terrible!

I am the fall king.

The McJoneses

Our last name is terrible. Every email I’ve sent for the past five years has included a phonetic pronunciation of our name, yet nobody can pronounce it. Nobody can spell it. Crappy computer systems from the 1970’s (like those used by airlines, credit card companies, etc) don’t allow enough space (16 letters), nor do they allow hyphens (nor even spaces), so it all gets squished together and chopped off at the end.

When we would go to restaurants and give our name to the host[ess] to be seated it took more time to explain the name and how to spell it correctly than it did for a table to open up. At some point we got so frustrated that when we went to a restaurant we just started using the names of people we know. Then we started using random names. The problem with this is that we actually had to remember which name we used on which occasion. It was simpler to use the same name each time… but what name would it be? It had to be easy to spell & pronounce, like Jones. But we wanted something a little more unique (and perhaps a bit silly).

We settled on McJones.

I’m pretty good at keeping a straight face, but I nearly lost it the first time we used this name at a restaurant. It’s just such a ridiculous name, yet it met all our criteria. We’ve been using it for four or five years now, and it never fails to provide us with amusement.

“McJones, party of two, your table is ready.”

Rob Raguet-Schofield
(rob ra gA skO fEld)

The Fit

I started playing soccer when I was six years old. I wasn’t particularly good, but I happened to be on a really good team that year. We made it all the way to the league championship game. And lost.

I threw a fit, the likes of which you wouldn’t believe. I was so upset I refused to take part in the team picture after the game. My dad tried to pick me up off the ground and place me in with the rest of the team for the team photo and I wanted no part of it. This photo of my fit has become a family classic.

The Moose

Every year when I was growing up my grandpa (Grampy) would call me up on the morning of April 1st. Each year the story was the same. He would say there was a moose in my back yard and that I should run out there to see it. As a young child I fell for this–probably multiple times, as April 1st doesn’t come all that often. Eventually I recognized the pattern and refused to be made a fool, but that didn’t prevent him from calling anyway, and we all still had a good laugh.

A couple years ago I got him back. Good.

I copied the exact layout of a news item on CNN’s website and replaced the text and images with my own news story about a Bismarck, IL resident (Grampy) who found a moose in his back yard. I emailed a link to my fabricated story (click here to view) to several family members. Everyone had a good chuckle.

I wasn’t expecting this, but everyone who received the link to the story thought it was so funny they started to forward it to their friends and extended relatives, nearly all of whom were unfamiliar with the running joke. I’d say a good 95% of those people believed it, and Grampy started getting phone calls and emails from people who saw his story on CNN. He was left with some explaining to do.

The Steamy Novel

I received an unexpected gift for Christmas in 2003. My brother Andy got me a steamy novel. Now, this wasn’t the type of steamy novel you get at a grocery store. For, you see, this novel had been personalized. Medieval Passion starred Melissa & Rob.

He had found Romance by You, a site which prints these personalized novels after entering a little bit of personal information. In the story Rob is a knight. Melissa of the house of Raguet is his love interest and has brown eyes. Jolyne is Melissa’s maidservant. Romeo is her pet.

After receiving the book, a conversation I had with Andy several weeks prior suddenly made sense. He had called me up and started asking questions about Melissa’s friends, pets, eye color, etc… but he wouldn’t tell me why he needed to know these things.

I actually read the book and it was fairly entertaining. It includes such passages as:

Rob remained speechless, caught up in the sight of his Lady spread forth upon his bed draped in nothing more than rose petals… just as he had imagined her a hundred times before.

Just like real life.

Mom & Dad receivied Pirates of Desire (I think, perhaps one of them can confirm or deny this). Travis & Blake received Tropical Treasure. Good stuff.