Cliff Gardner

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Walking on, walking on broken glaaaaaasss!

As previously mentioned, my windshield has a giant crack in it. A few days ago I found out that it’s going to cost $215 to fix. Now, I’m clearly no expert on cars, but this seems pretty expensive for something I could build myself with a magnifying glass on a hot afternoon in a sandbox. Therefore, I’ve convinced myself that windshields aren’t made of glass at all, but one or more of the following costly things:

--Cocaine. Not just any coke, though! That super, odorless, undetectable, pressure-packed, high-impact stuff that Katherine Zeta Jones used to get her narco-baron husband out of jail in the movie “Traffic.”

--A clear mixture of Bald Eagle eggs, Manatee flippers and Raptor claws, blended together in a sort of endangered/extinct animal paste.

--Moon rocks. One small step for man, one giant, lucrative leap for the auto glass industry.

I would believe any of these explanations before I would honestly swallow the idea that glass—GLASS—costs 215 bucks.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Your Cliff Gardner Horoscope!

In honor of Liz's triumphant return, I offer this new collection of horoscopes!

Aries: Your ability to have entire conversations by using only the lyrics to Michael Jackson songs probably isn’t a talent you should put on your day care applications.

Taurus: Your refusal to wear pants may cost you your job, but at least you'll always have your rock-paper-scissors career to fall back on. Oh wait, I forgot that you suck at RPS.

Gemini: Hey, at least you’re standing on principle. No, wait, that’s not principle at all, that’s a tightrope overlooking a giant pool of piranhas. My mistake!

Cancer: Wow...I didn’t know it was possible to get athlete's foot there. I’ll call Guinness.

Leo: You take the phrase “egg on your face” to a new and dangerous level that will probably earn you another trip back to solitary confinement.

Virgo: Look at it this way— not many epitaphs read “crushed by a fat man in a phone booth,” so at least your death will bring laughter to thousands of cemetery goers for years to come.

Libra: On the plus side, your adult film name will involve the words “kookoo clock,” which is pretty clever.

Scorpio: Fried Green Tomatoes are not the amazing party snacks you think they are, both because they’re hard to pick up with toothpicks and because most people didn’t like that movie anyway.

Sagittarius: So what have we learned from this little incident? I mean, aside from the fact that confusing potpourri and mixed nuts is more common than either of us thought?

Capricorn: From now on, I will call you “paper jam.” I mean that in the worst possible way.

Pisces: Your level 25 Paladin doesn’t require Vespene gas and doesn’t live in Azeroth. I think you’re losing all touch with reality. Put down the air horn and come back into the convention center and we’ll work this out. Want a light-saber hot dog? My treat!

Aquarius: Did you know that Thailand was called Siam until 1939? You did? Well you’re a tough person to impress. Maybe if I said it in jive? Welcome back!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Three funny stories involving my mom and cars

1) The house I grew up and currently live in is about as average as you can get in suburban America and part of the look is a basketball hoop over the garage that I played on pretty much every day as a kid. Unfortunately, my parents both parked in the driveway. This wasn’t an issue with my dad because he was worked all summer, but for my teacher mom who had summers off, it was a problem because she had to move her car in order for me to play. Once, after pestering her to move her car for three straight hours, she agreed and as she was backing out of the driveway, I took a quick jump shot that bounced off the rip and landed on her windshield, knocking the rearview mirror off inside the car. It hit her on the knee pretty hard—she still has problems with that knee to this day.

2) Once, when I was about eleven or so, my mom was driving and I was in the back seat drinking a can of Sprite. When I was finished, I turned the pull tab around and pushed it against the rest of the can like I had learned at school earlier that week, the goal being to send the sharp metal part of the can flying. While that is fun on the playground, I clearly didn’t think what would happen if I did it in a car all the way through. In this case, it flew alright—and nailed my mom right in the corner of the eye. She swore and swerved onto the shoulder before pulling over and swearing at me.

3) This one time, also when I was little, I was again in the back seat. Now, my mom is, to put it lightly, a very jumpy person who is incredibly easy to startle. My sister and I have always loved to pick on mom because of that. She’s fun to sneak up on. On this particular day, however, I learned that startling her when she’s driving isn’t a good idea. I randomly shouted “OH MY GOD LOOK OUT OH JESUS CHRIST!” Mom freaked out, and then got really mad at me when she realized that the world wasn’t really coming to an end.

Yup, I was a really awesome kid. My mom deserves a medal.

Kitty hero!

While driving home tonight, I noticed not one but two kittens laying in the middle of the road. As I got closer, they didn't move, or seem at all concerned about the prospect of being crushed by my car. So, I slammed on the breaks and swerved to the left, narrowly missing them both and sending my midnight snack McDonalds fries all over the dash board. Crisis averted, two kitties saved. :-)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Last week, Amy and I watched Election and it got me thinking. See, I have this general contempt for most student governments that I don’t really try to hide at all. On the whole, I think they’re a waste of time and resources. It has been my experience that student governments are generally filled with self important assholes who are only doing it for resume filler or really talented people who haven’t figured out how to best use their time. When I was at Willamette, I foolishly thought that I had left all of that crap behind me in high school and successfully ran for a position in the student government senate. Boy was that a mistake.

For starters, aside from a few really smart folks, most of the other senators were the first sort of person I described—annoying, talking to sound smart instead of move things along, generally not too bright sort of people. The result was that the meetings were amazingly boring. After listening to the same frat boy clones saying the same stupid crap about some ultimately pointless committee they were chairing, for an hour straight, I found myself wondering if I could survive a leap from the third floor of the University Center building. Although I never tried it, that certainly would have brought some excitement to at least one meeting.

When the time came for re-election, I half heartedly ran again because some friends wanted me to, but I didn’t campaign at all (campaigns were a joke too, by the way). My logic was that if the “electorate” couldn’t clearly see that I was much more qualified than those running against me, then I didn’t want to waste my time sitting in lame ass meetings for their sake. I wasn’t surprised when I lost. A little disappointed, oddly enough, but not surprised. The next year, instead of student government, I got involved in the programming group on campus that organized debates, concerts, open mike nights and movies, and made more of a contribution of campus in a week than the student senate folks did all year.

The moral of the story is, student governments suck and if you really want to make a difference and get involved than you should find some other way. That, and Election is a pretty awesome movie!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Top five things to do when you can’t sleep

5) Make your first post over at “Ongoing Onslaught.”

4) Be annoyed that you can’t run because of the blister on your foot. Ouch.

3) Laugh at Pillow Pants. If you haven’t seen Clerks 2, go see it. RIGHT NOW!

2) Make a list of all the books you’ve read this summer. So far I’ve chipped away at three books on Ukraine, a book about the Portland Trailblazers, the collected works of short story genius Ron Carlson and most of Moneyball. Books are hot.

1) Teach yourself a few more letters in the Cyrillic alphabet. When I first saw the alphabet of Ukraine, I said “those aren’t letters! You made up letters! You can’t do that!” Well, it turns out that they can do that. Oh well! Or, as they say in Ukraine, “it’s really cold, close the door and get in here!”

Sunday, July 23, 2006

I'm sweating like a whore in church

It's really hot in Fo Gro. Unlike Tiffanie, I have AC at my house, although that doesn't really help me a lot because my room is far away from it, so I end up sweating my ass off anyway. I've developed a few unconventional methods of staying cool during a heat wave:

--watch "cold" movies like March of the Penguins...although watching MOTP is my solution to every problem, so take that for what it's worth.

--eat popsicles until you pass out...I recommend the strawberry flavored ones.

--shove frozen peas into your pants, just like Homer Simpson did. I'm pretty sure that's how Jesus beat the heat too, or at least that's how he would have had the freezer been invented.

--buy a used jet engine on e-bay and use it as a giant fan. Be careful that your car doesn't get sucked in!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Running on empty

I ran 30.6 total miles this week, a personal record.

A few things are worth mentioning about this. First, this really puts the Portland Marathon I ran a few years back into perspective for me. That was 26.2 miles, in about four hours. So, I basically did a really great week of running in an afternoon. No wonder I was wiped out after that one!

Second, I managed to run over 30 miles during one of the hottest stretches I can recall in Oregon. This meant that I had to get up really early and run or get my miles in at night, or both, or, as was the case yesterday, just gut it out and do five miles in the 80's around nine o'clock. Sweat was my friend. Honestly, I'm pretty shredded and I don't want to push myself too hard and get injured, so I think I'll ease up next week and do 15-20.

I would like to thank the good folks who composed the Top Gun Soundtrack that I put on my iPod for helping me get through those tough, humid miles. :-)

Friday, July 21, 2006

This is really sad, in more ways than one...

...and in fewer ways than three! Linky!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

More crack than Dubya went through during his "lost" years

The Good News: I finally bought Moneyball today while Tiffanie and I were at Powell's and I must say that it's living up to the hype so far and I really like it.

The Bad News: I have a huge crack in my windshield (it looks kind of like this) and I have no idea how it got there. Yucca looks like she got into a bar fight and lost, which makes sense since she's my car and I would probably lose in a bar fight too.

The fun, random news: Liz gets back from Thailand in roughly a week. Oh, and if I run six more miles this week, I'll set a personal record. :-)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Ukraine is going to be AWESOME!

As a premium dancer myself, I can understand where he's coming from. Clearly, I'm going to fit right in during my stay in Ukraine! Thanks to my new Peace Corps buddy Laura for the heads up on this hilarious video!

Just call me Forest Gump

I've blogged before about the site that lets me tack my progress running across the country. Here's a map to prove that I'm now in Kentucky! Nebraska's gonna be tough, though. :-)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Diversity today

This is one of those stories that starts with my crappy hand writing. See, back when I was applying for college, perhaps when I took the SAT or applied for some scholarship, I had to sign my name. Since my signature is really bad, sometimes the "Th" part of my name can seem like just a big "R" to some folks who haven't learned to read my bizarre chicken scratches. The result was that I got two copies of everything--applications, financial aid forms, brochures, etc--one addressed to Thomas McCloskey and one addressed to my sexy Latin twin, Romas McCloskey. I guess that's one way to increase the frustratingly low numbers of minority students who attend Willamette.

Monday, July 17, 2006

The penny can go to hell!

Do you hear me, pennies? You go to hell! You go to hell and you die!

Like most things that don't offer any real benefit while costing us something (the only exception being ground hogs), I'm hostile towards the penny. Apparently, I'm not alone. I don't like nickels either but for some reason they've never bothered me as much...maybe because penny abolition was mentioned in a big block of cheese West Wing episode. Anyway, it's not like there aren't arguments to keep the penny. After all, without this coin that no one uses and most people throw away, this hunk of metal that was mined and hurt the environment in the process, this cent that costs more to make than it is actually worth, without it, we would forget about President Lincoln. Oh wait, I forgot about the five dollar bill and that huge ass monument.

Everyone go here and vote to abolish the penny!


I think the following people could have great careers balancing spoons on their noses:

--Paris Hilton, singer (?!?) and puppy lover

--Nicolas Cage, Elvis enthusiast with bad porn mustache

--David Ortiz, Boston Redsox designated hitter

--Dick Cheney, Veep and troop lover

--Boll Weevel, University of Arkansas at Monticello mascot

Saturday, July 15, 2006

This one time, at debate camp...

I just finished the last debate tournament I will attend for over two years.

Matt and Logan won the camp tournament, dropping only one (bizarre) ballot in the process. They beat Shannon and Elizabeth (rockstars), another Willamette team, in finals. The 3rd and 5th place teams were also from Willamette, so the season looks bright for my alma mater!

I helped prep Hoda Illias, a really awesome girl from Lewis and Clark whom I've always respected a great deal, and her partner, a debater from Azusa Pacific, for most of the tournament...along with a revolving door of other random, coach-less teams who heard I was willing to help. Hoda and her partner ended up going 4-3, so they were happy considering that they got some fairly odd losses in the process.

Helping Hoda reinforced a few things for me. First, I love coaching. I have yet to experience anything like the thrill of coaching a team to victory--I think it is more exciting than being in the round as a debater myself. Second, most of the good debaters on the circuit now would make better coaches and fairer critics than many of the folks who currently occupy those roles. I say this after judging and coaching for a year. I would trust Matt, Logan, Shannon and Elizabeth to coach teams and judge rounds before I would let some of these folks in the building. There really isn't a lot to being a good coach; you just have to love the activity and not be a jackass.

Tomorrow Matt, Logan and I are going to catch a minor league baseball game in Portland. Nothing says America like eating nachos and drinking a Mike's from the beer gardens of Civic Stadium! :-)

Thursday, July 13, 2006


Me: 1, Cingular: 0

I have this recurring feud with my cell phone provider…well, it’s less of a feud and more of a me-kicking-their-ass-festival. See, if a phone conversation lasts 1:02, I am charged for two minutes, and I think this evil auto-mechanic, mean-lawyer, billable hour type tactic is just messed up. So, I try to limit phone conversations to late into one minute or late into the next. Ideally, a phone call will last in the 50’s of any given minute, and I’ve gotten pretty good at it. That sound you’re hearing is Cingular panhandling on the street. Spare some change? Um, NO! Go to the corporation soup kitchen around the corner.

Debate: 1, Me: 0

Tomorrow I’m leaving for the Willamette debate camp tournament. It will likely be my last taste of competitive debate for over two years and I’m kind of sad about that. I mean, I have been doing debate pretty much non-stop for the last nine years, so walking away for good this time is tough.

Me Running: 1, The United States: 0

My new Peace Corps friend Laura blogged about this site that allows you to enter your running miles (and/or cycling, if you’re into that sort of thing) and chart you trek across the country. I started in Virginia and after entering my runs from this year alone, now I’m almost in Kentucky! While I’m there, I think I’ll visit some friends.

The Internet: 1, Every Other Way to Meet People: 0

This one was easy, the internet it pitching a perfect game here. Thanks to the fine example set by Amy, I put an add on craigslist a few weeks back and Liz, the source of my newfound happiness, replied (along with a few men and a high priced call-girl who charges more for a night than I will make all summer). At first I was kind of scared that Liz would turn out to be a psycho who would kill me and sell my organs on the black market for a new pair of heals, but those fears quickly faded the more I got to enjoy her wit, hilarious stories and amazing smile. Take THAT, everything not-the-internet!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

I know this is twice in less than a week, but...

...I'm really happy. Like, ridiculously, how-did-I-get-so-freaking-lucky happy. My life is amazing and I've got some great people, and one person in particular, to spend it with! I feel like giving the world a giant high-five! :-)

GREMLINS! Oh, sorry...what is Gremlins?!

Remember that time I used my extensive knowledge of popular culture to win concert tickets that I eventually gave to my sister? Well, it turns out that there is more funding available for useless knowledge than I was aware of. I was channel surfing yesterday and I came across this show on VH1 where teams of folks compete in pop culture knowledge jeopardy competitions. I was kicking ass! You all should have seen me, I was shouting “ROBOCOP!” and “POLICE ACADEMY!” from my couch like there was no tomorrow. Granted, I did hit a bit of a lull when the category switched from movies to music and I confused Milli Vanilli with Vanilla Ice, but before then, I was the pop culture Ken Jennings.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Blogging before breakfast

If you're not reading Overheard in the Office, you should start, and not just because it's hilarious. It also allows you to see into Haylie's future. :-)

I went to bed around one and woke up around four this morning, unable to sleep. So, I did what any normal person would do: run for a really long time as the sun was coming up. Take THAT, insomnia! No, not you, award winning and critically acclaimed Christopher Nolan movie. I meant the sleeping condition. GOD! Movies can be so touchy sometimes.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Your Cliff Gardner Horoscope!

This one goes out to Liz, by request! :-)

Aries: On the plus side, you won’t need sandpaper anymore.

Taurus: No director will ever buy your screenplay, “Mike Syringehands.” No wait, I forgot about Tim Burton.

Gemini: Well, you weren’t really using both kidneys anyway, right? At least you’ll get to eat more of that delicious hospital Jell-O again. No, sorry, I forgot. The hospital changed chefs since your last visit after the snapping turtle incident.

Cancer: You’re A & E biography will characterize you as a “white Urkel.” I’m ok with that comparison if you are.

Leo: Ignore the stares of strangers—shouting “YAHTZEE” at an elevator really does make it arrive faster. Do you want to be punctual or popular? You can’t be both. CHOOSE RIGHT NOW!

Virgo: Justin Timberlake really does love you and I think selling your car on e-bay to buy a thousand more copies of his latest album is a perfect way to show him how much you care.

Libra: Following up every compliment with a really sarcastic “well aren’t you CLEVER?!” is more charming that most folks will give you credit for.

Scorpio: Look at it this way—at least the Sea World employees will hose you down during the trip back to your natural habitat which you can’t survive in because you’ve been in captivity for too long.

Sagittarius: You’re right and she’s wrong—the “Reading Rainbow” theme does count as a love song and her illiterate ass doesn’t deserve you!

Capricorn: When I said that taxidermy was an ok hobby for a kid, I had no idea that this was what you had in mind.

Pisces: Wearing camouflage all the time really does make you invisible.

Aquarius: Bill Nye the science guy isn’t after your lucky charms. You’ve got him confused with the kids, you silly leprechaun. Bill Nye’s the one who wants to kill you for keying his car.

Sunday, July 09, 2006


My uncle Justin has enjoyed a very interesting life over the course of which he has been a wedding/lounge singer, a real estate agent and an ice cream man. Now, on the surface it seems that being an ice cream man isn't that bad of a job. Everyone loves ice cream and making little kids happy, right? Well, not Justin. His favorite game was turning off the music and driving into a cul-de-sac, turning on the music full blast, and speeding out of the neighborhood as he flipped off the army of children he saw in the rear view mirror that were chasing him with crumpled, sweaty dollar bills in their chubby little hands. But hey, at least he got all the free ice cream sandwiches he could shove into the glove compartment of his VW Bug before they melted all over the AAA map on the way home, so it wasn't all bad.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

I am really happy

Just thought you all should know. :)

Nicholas Cage was from Ukraine in Lord of War, too.

A Ukrainian guy named Sergiy Honchar is leading in the Tour de France. Between this, the World Cup success, and me and several really awesome folks moving there in a few months, and this is turning out to be a really great year for Ukraine!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Wish me luck!

Today my students are giving their very first speeches. I’m sure they’re do fine, but really, how well they do says as much about me as it does about them. I hope I’ve done a good job teaching them so far! 8-)

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The perfect Peace Corps analogy

Diane, a fellow Ukraine Peace Corps Volunteer, found my blog and pointed me in the direction of a Yahoo mail group for other Ukraine Volunteers. Thanks, Diane! For the past few hours I've been reading about how awesome all the other Peace Corps folks are. We all seem to have the same concerns (the cold, learning the language, etc) and we all seem to be about the same blend of excited and nervous.

Basically, we're just like the crew from Ocean's Eleven, except instead of eleven people there are over a hundred of us, and instead of planning to rob three casinos in Vegas, we're planning to teach English in Ukraine.

The gift that keeps on giving!

Are you going to a wedding in the next few weeks and you have no idea what to get the happy couple since you refuse to get over your irrational hatred of wedding registries, you petty, stupid person? Did you forget your grandma's birthday and now she's refusing to make you those delicious peanut butter balls of joy that you love so much? Can you see past the whiskers and terrible breath long enough to just want to get your pet Walrus something nice for no reason at all? Well YOU’RE IN LUCK! Yesterday Liz told me about this awesome website called, and I honestly believe it is cool enough that telling someone about it would count as an awesome gift in and of itself. I’ve made attempts at this type of humor several different times before, but this site makes me look like the comedic toddler that I am. Go ahead and check it out. GO!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

I am not ashamed of the Atlanta Braves

This article chronicles the recent slide of the Atlanta Braves, the team I love more than any other in professional sports. even has a picture of several Braves fans with paper bags over their heads in shame during a recent loss. I refuse to be ashamed. Fourteen straight division titles have made me learn to never, ever question Bobby Cox and the rest of the Atlanta bunch, so it should be noted that no true Braves fan has given up on this season yet. However, should our run of success that is unmatched in any professional sport come to an end this year, I will hold me head up high. I am proud of these guys, and they've earned nothing less than the admiration and respect of baseball fans and sportswriters everywhere. And hey, if we don't win the division title this year, I might even cry a little, but at least I've got a lot of division title banners to dry my tears. :-)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Celebrate your country's history by blowing up a small part of it!

After getting caught in a really intense thunder and lightening storm while running, I spent most of the day hanging out with Sam and Mark at Sam’s house. We swam for a few hours, played a surprisingly intense yet still hilarious game of volleyball and had some good food. Then we blew a lot of crap up for a half four and I’m still seeing spots everywhere. Good times!


I had dinner with a really awesome girl named Liz tonight and she told me something that completely blew my mind. She not only volunteered at the zoo (which I thought was pretty cool to begin with) but was a “bird of prey” person, meaning that she CAUGHT A HAWK ON HER GLOVED HAND SEVERAL TIMES A DAY. I should have asked if she ever shouted, GO Mordecai! LA la la LALALA LA! LA LA LA LA...Hey Jude.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Why is it that Paris Hilton has a reality show and I don't?!

Yesterday I was walking to my car and noticed that one of the front tires looked a little low and I had the following conversation with myself:

Me: Wow, that's looking a bit low...oh well, I'll ignore it until it becomes a problem. Yup, that's my approach to everything. Tires, fires, winter, neo-con assholes, cancer. What could go wrong?

I honestly can't tell if this is funny or not. I mean, I thought it was funny enough to say out loud and laugh at, but really, I'm not always the best judge of these things.

Tempting fate

I have never gotten any type of traffic ticket.

Not once have I been in an accident or even been pulled over despite the general consensus that a drunken ape could drive better than I do.

During my 23 years I have not broken a bone or even been to any hospital to fix a health problem of mine, and I certainly haven't spent a night or had a surgery in one.

I am rarely sick and the closest thing I’ve had to a traumatic health experience is those two times I chipped my front teeth, which were promptly repaired. I will say this about those incidents, though—-always, always, ALWAYS follow the instructions of zookeepers a precisely as you can.

Despite a lengthy family history of extreme obesity on one side and diabetes on the other, I've managed to dodge both.

I just thought I would tempt fate a little because when reading this list and given what most folks I know are going through, I think I'm due.