The Bird is the Word

What good is having a middle finger if you don't use it? It's the longest, most important finger on your hand, and it's there for a reason. Yet sadly, many people are not making use of this easy-to-use communication tool.

I make it a point to flip off at least three people every day, and you should, too. It's the easiest way to suggest to others that they should sexually penetrate themselves. And let's face it, there are a lot of people out there who should sexually penetrate themselves.

Indeed, there are so many people out there who deserve to see your middle finger, if not your entire fist, that you'd be remiss of your civic duty as an American patriot if you didn't frequently stand tall and proudly unfurl your center digit on the slightest whim.

Start with me. I love being flipped off. It keeps me humble. There are a lot of people walking around thinking they are so high and mighty that you can't flip them off without suffering consequences. That alone is enough of a reason to introduce them to Mr. Flip Wilson.

The president, the police, the pope, your boss and your grandmother are all perfect examples of people who should immediately be informed that you think they are number one.

Don't save your middle finger for political "hot-button" issues like abortion, war and religious freedom. The common everyday annoyances of life are great opportunities for you to brush up on your sign language, and you shouldn't let those opportunities go by.

Say, for example, you are at a birthday party and there is one of those people there who has to take a picture of the cake. Give that dingbat the ol' one-finger salute and tell her to take a picture of that instead. She won't thank you for sharing your opinion, but someone will.

Or, maybe you're at the library and some guy is talking way too loudly about his family's fascinating genealogy. Make sure to shush him with your special finger, and then follow through by pushing up your glasses.

The bird is the word, people. Be generous, and share it with others. It's easy, it feels good and it improves society. Just make sure you don't overdo it. Maintain a balanced diet, with frequent mooning and crotch grabbing mixed into your daily routine.

Paul Lundgren is a newspaper columnist and a very nice man. E-mail him a JPEG of your middle finger. His address is paul [at] geekprom.com.


Political Compromise

A lot has been written about political divisiveness lately and I'm tired of it. I'd like to do something to help bring Americans back together again. So, I've drafted a compromise that I think should help us put two burning issues to rest, at least for a while.

I'm not claiming that I can solve all the world's problems. I'm not even claiming that I can solve any problems. I'm just proposing a plan to make two of the most annoying and divisive problems go away for a while.

I don't really have much to say about the war, the economy and health care at this time. They are indeed complicated issues, and I don't pretend to know the answers. Americans will just have to continue bickering about those subjects.

I do, however, have a strong opinion about abortion and gay marriage. And I think I speak for a strong majority of Americans when I say that what we want the most is for everyone to just shut up and give us all a break.

Abortion is (for the most part) legal and gay marriage is (for the most part) illegal, so let's just call it a draw and not change anything. That seems like a fair trade to me, since there are very few people who are in favor of one and not in favor of the other.

Of course, there are people on both sides of both issues who will never give up the fight, and that's just fine. I don't think we have to table both issues forever. Let's just choose a nice resting period, like maybe five or ten years.

You might wonder where I stand on these issues, thinking I have something to gain by this plan. Well, let me tell you, the only thing I have to gain is peace and quiet. I'm not a homosexual, nor am I pregnant, and I have nothing against those who are.

If it were up to me, I guess I'd keep abortion legal. Sure, it is murder, but I'd rather be dead than unwanted. As for gay marriage, I can't support it. I don't even approve of straight marriage.

Paul Lundgren is a newspaper columnist and a very nice man. His e-mail address is paul [at] geekprom.com.


Donald Bloomer

If you follow the news in Duluth, you know who Donald Bloomer is. This past summer he was arrested and charged with murder in connection with the 1980 disappearance of his girlfriend. After denying any knowledge of her whereabouts for 24 years, he now says that he accidentally shot her.

When I first heard Bloomer's name and saw his mug shot, I thought there was something familiar about him. Since his name is similar to Donald Blom, a man already convicted of murder in a high-profile case, I figured that was why I thought I'd heard of him before.

As the Bloomer case progressed, however, I saw TV news footage of him and knew immediately where I thought I had seen him before. I may never know for sure if it was really him, but it makes the story I'm about to tell a little creepier if you pretend it stars Donald Bloomer.

About four years ago I was shopping around for an inexpensive place to live. The classified ads in a local newspaper led me to a man who had an upstairs bedroom he wanted to rent. He sounded strange over the phone, but I figured I'd drive over and have a look at the place anyway.

A thin, 60ish-year-old man answered the door wearing nothing but his tighty whiteys. When I told him I was there to look at the house he made a big deal about how he totally forgot I was coming. Then he put some clothes on and showed me around the place. It was pretty normal, except for the bed in the living room, which he explained was there because he has an injury and has trouble climbing stairs.

"I don't get out much," he told me. "I have a lot of girlfriends that come here to see me though. They range in age from about 16 to 60." I thought that was a strange piece of information for him to offer without being asked.

He also told me that he would be a good resource if I had any problems because he has a book that explains "the way things really are." He took the book down from a shelf and held it up, but I couldn't see the title. Since I was eager to move along, I didn't inquire about it.

Paul Lundgren is a newspaper columnist and a very nice man. His e-mail address is paul [at] geekprom.com.


The Abandoned Car Test

Although there are many unique neighborhoods in Duluth, the city is essentially divided into just three sections: West Duluth, Central Hillside and East Duluth. Perhaps the reason for this is that there are three high schools - Denfeld, Central and East - which cater to each section of the city. Whatever the reason, the fact remains that Duluthians are raised three different ways.

Below is a little role play situation to illustrate the differences from one section of the city to the next. I offer it as a public service to future Duluthians who are trying to determine which part of the city best suits them. Here we go:

Say you notice there is a strange car parked on the street you live. The car has a flat tire and a smashed windshield. A few days go by and the car doesn't move at all. How do you want your neighbors to react?

If you live in East Duluth, a few days wouldn't even go by before the car would be towed. The first person to notice it would call the police immediately and report the nuisance vehicle.

In the Central Hillside, everyone would ignore the car and it would sit undisturbed until winter, when the snowplows need to get through. Then, the city would have it towed. Although many people would notice the car for several months and recognize it as abandoned, it would never even become a subject of conversation.

In West Duluth, the car would go undisturbed for a few days, and then everyone would start talking about it. Theories of where it came from and what happened to its owner would abound. No one would call the police though. After a month or two, little kids would start playing inside the car until a few older kids would eventually come along and push it down a hill into a crick.

I was raised in West Duluth, but now I live in the Central Hillside. That car is not hypothetical; it's been outside my apartment all summer. It's really starting to bother me that my parents haven't stopped by to comment on it, and my brothers haven't stopped by to help me push it into a crick. It just goes to show that I'm living in the wrong part of town.

Paul Lundgren is a newspaper columnist and a very nice man. His e-mail address is paul[at]geekprom.com.


Losing It

It's not easy to report to our jobs and go on with business as usual when problems emerge in our personal lives. The normal daily chores of the work world can seem quite trivial when compared to the bigger picture at home.

Such situations happen more often than we think. It can be anything from a family quarrel to a sick friend in the hospital. Sometimes we take a little time off from work when these things happen, but it never seems like enough.

Right now, I have an unresolved issue in my life that's making it very difficult for me to be productive on the job. I'm going to write about it in this column, because focusing on any other subject right now would be futile.

Something happened during today's lunch break that has stirred up a great deal of confusion, anger and sadness in my life. The short version of the story is: I set my plate down when I was done eating, and now I can't find it anywhere.

I had been sitting in my reclining chair watching television while I was eating. When I finished my meal, I set the plate on the floor next to my chair and continued watching TV. I didn't realize at that moment that I would never see it again.

My first thought when I noticed it was missing was that perhaps I had already brought it to the sink and forgot that I had made the trip, but it wasn't in the sink. Could I have washed it and put it away? Am I that forgetful? No, it wasn't in the cupboard.

I checked to see if I brought it into the bathroom with me without thinking. I checked and rechecked the floor on every side of the chair. I checked to see if I had went to brush crumbs into the garbage and just threw the plate away by mistake. No luck.

Eventually, I had to give up my search and go back to work, but it makes no sense for me to be here at all. How can I concentrate on my job while items in my apartment are vanishing without explanation?

Paul Lundgren is a newspaper columnist and a very nice man. He's less concerned about things disappearing as he is about the potential for them to suddenly reappear. His e-mail address is paul [at] geekprom.com.


Pooping on the Clock

Most people don't like using the toilet at work. It just doesn't provide the same comfort and privacy as having the home-lavatory advantage. Because we have little control over when the need to defecate will strike, however, and because most of us spend a majority of our daytime hours at work, dropping a deuce at the office is difficult to avoid.

We all know what the cons are to doing our business at our places of business. The issues of comfort and privacy have very little to do with the quality of the toilet and more to do with the presence or lack of video cameras. It's all about personal anxiety.

First of all, there's the fear that someone might walk in on you. Even though the door is locked, you can't help but question whether that lock will be enough to keep your co-workers from catching you with your pants down. Did you engage the lock correctly? Could the lock be broken? Even if the lock is working, the person outside might knock and make you have to shout something to let him know you're in there, as if there's some chance the door locked itself or you passed out in there and are in need of medical attention.

Then, there's the very real fear that the toilet might clog or even overflow. This could happen just as easily at home, but if it happens at work you'll have to cover up the evidence quickly so that no one will think you produce massive turds that modern plumbing cannot withstand.

There's also the fear that you'll foul up the air and everyone will know it's you. You know firsthand what others will think because you've thought it yourself every time you've gone in after someone else stunk up the shitbox.

Lastly, if you pinch one out at work you'll have to deal with that cheap 150-grit toilet paper your boss so graciously provides. That may be reason enough to hold it in until you get home.

There is really only one benefit to emptying your bowels at work, but it is a very empowering one. There's nothing more satisfying than sitting on the toilet and thinking to yourself, "I'm getting paid for this."

Paul Lundgren is a newspaper columnist and a very nice man. His e-mail address is paul [at] geekprom.com.