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Last update: 2010-06-10

ProCrastinator Episode 52

2010-06-10
Length: 5s

This is episode 52 of Jeff Cutler's Bowl of Cheese podcast.

Intro is done by Natalie Gelman - singer and songwriter.

The topic is procrastination...something we all have a penchant for.

Enjoy!

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Boston Media Makers - Crowd Comments

2009-05-21
Length: 23s

Here is a man-on-the-street (really man-in-the-pub) style interview of the people who showed up to the recent Boston Media Makers at Night session at Doyle's Pub in Jamaica Plain, MA.

Steve Garfield organized the event and millions showed up.

The question I asked everyone was essentially, why are you here?

Enjoy and please leave comments in the show notes. Please alert me to other events where you might like to have me interview your attendees.

You can find my contact info and blogs at Jeff Cutler.

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Nationwide Insurance - #iroadtrip

2009-03-13
Length: 34s

The sound of a windy interview with Shawn Morton of Nationwide Insurance.

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Skeptics In The Pub - Cambridge - Boston - February

2009-02-28
Length: 1s

Here's info copied from Rebecca's email... and the sound is various interviews throughout the night as well as Tim Farley's complete presentation.

WARNING - There are two swears in the entire 90+ minutes of recording. I have NOT listed this as explicit, because the swears are not heinous ones and I've heard worse on broadcast TV.

ENJOY!!!

Once again it's time for Boston Skeptics in the Pub! It's happening tonight, Monday, February 23 at 7pm. As usual, we'll be on the top floor of Tommy Doyle's in Harvard Square. Tonight's speaker is Tim Farley of WhatsTheHarm.net. It's going to be fan-frigging-tastic, so prepare yourself.

Also, there are lots of really cool events coming up for Boston Skeptics: on March 16 we'll have William Lobdell (although please note that the venue may change – I'm working out the details now), and a very special Skeptics in the Pub at the end of March. On May 21 we'll take a field trip to see Penn & Teller at Foxwoods – there's a Facebook event page here: http://tinyurl.com/d6gt5n More info on all those events will be appearing shortly at BostonSkeptics.com.

Other stuff: NYC Skeptics will be Drinking Skeptically this Wednesday at the Four-faced Liar, D.C.'s Drinking Skeptically is March 11, and Philly's Drinking Skeptically is March 19. That's a whole lot of delicious, foamy skepticism, my friends. More info and more events can be found on the Skepchick calendar: http://tinyurl.com/achyz2

Hope to see many of you tonight!

Hugs, kisses, etc.,

Rebecca Watson
www.skepchick.org
www.bostonskeptics.com


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Crepe Tips from Alex and Gradon

2009-02-27
Length: 6s

Here's an interview with Alex Howard and Gradon Tripp (@digiphile and @gradontripp) as they conspired to make crepes at #pinkslipparty in Cambridge tonight.

Enjoy!

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Got a Resolution? Resolve to resolve.

2008-12-31
Length: 3s

Got a resolution for New Year's 2009? I do. In fact I've got a few. Here's my podcast listing them. Enjoy.

As always, visit my blogs - BowlofCheese.com and JeffCutler.com/jeff - for more regular topics in text form.

Happy New Year!

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Cow Patties - Bowl of Cheese Podcast 48

2008-10-24
Length: 3s

Today's podcast is all about crap catalogs that you might get in the mail this holiday season.

Enjoy!

Need to get in touch or have a great idea for a show? Send me an email.

jeff (at symbol) jeffcutler (dot, period, whatever you call it) com.

Thanks!

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Toenails and Clippers

2008-08-15
Length: 3s

Here's the transcript to today's Bowl of Cheese podcast by Jeff Cutler...

Bear in mind, if you have an idea for an upcoming show, send me an email or leave a comment at BowlOfCheese - the companion blog to the podcast.

Thanks!

Toenail clipper.

Are you kidding me about how this simple metal tool can project a tiny piece of dead skin cells across a room?

Sure, it sounds a little gross so put down your cereal or coffee or mid-morning snack or handful of M&Ms. While you’re at it, why don’t you ponder the real reason toenails have to be cut in the first place. It’s because you keep fueling the engine.

Let’s talk trajectory. I don’t have a math degree or a technical understanding of quarks and protons, but I do understand a little bit about propulsion, cause and effect and kinetic energy. A toenail is NOT of this earth.

As I see it, a toenail is at rest until some other force acts upon it. And until that point it remains at rest. This is probably the same way Einstein or Newton would have put it, although I don’t know how they cut toenails…or even if they did, so maybe they would have just ushered me out of their lab and back onto the street where I might get hit by a passing stagecoach or Model T Ford.

Continuing, the toenail is similar to a piece of carrot - maybe the stubby, ugly end with the hair and knot embedded in it. When you chop the carrot you get projectiles. Nothing on the order of a fleeting toenail, but you can achieve some distance with a well-placed chop.

Maybe that’s where I’ve underestimated the lowly toenail. Perhaps the issue I should focus on isn’t mass or size or even chemical make-up. I should look at perceptions. Here we are clipping a tiny nail from a tiny toe all the way at the other end of our body.

We’re crouched over and probably huffing and puffing - unless we’re flexible, which I’m certainly not. Then we attack a toe, try and align the clippers just right. And it’s all we can do to follow the path of the trimmed nail halfway across the room without blacking out.

From the nail’s perspective, it has gone about 50-100 times its length. From our perspective, the nail has taken on an evil persona dedicated to stabbing our bare feet or grossing out our housemates. There’s more urgency and fear in the eyes of the clipper than the clippee and that’s probably a mitigating factor.

I pulled a baby carrot out of the fridge and got out a pair of food scissors.

I also pulled my baby toe up and got out a pair of nail clippers.

Then I clipped.

You know what happened?

That’s right. Same distance. Almost the same angle of projection. The nail and carrot nub came to rest within a few inches of each other on the floor under the double recliner.

Since I’m already out of breath from bending over and doing all this work - on a Friday of all days - I’m going to leave them there. It will be part of another experiment in seeing if a carrot and a toenail are similar in their decomposition rates.

Until next time, just call me little Einstein - king of the toenail kinetic energy experiment.

More to come…

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Not So Hot Under The Collar

2008-07-31
Length: 4s

Here's episode 46 of Bowl of Cheese Podcast.

This paragraph is a quick intro, you can read the rest of the transcript at Jeff Cutler dot com. Link is right HERE.

How long does it take for a hot-water heater to properly warm up its contents?

Facing that question, I sit here dirty and moody while the water heater fulfills its destiny in my basement.

From a Karma standpoint it’s probably fortunate that the water heater pilot went out last night. There are errands on my docket for the day, but no pressing deadlines and no important interviews or meetings. We all know that the great unwashed don’t make a great first impression.

Contact us with your show ideas. We love to have guest speakers and commentators!

Send us an email or just leave a comment here or at Bowl of Cheese dot com.

Thanks!

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Storm Hater - Jeff Cutler, Bowl of Cheese Podcast #45

2008-07-03
Length: 5s

Here's the transcript to Bowl of Cheese Podcast #45. Maybe we'll make it to 50 before the summer's over.

Enjoy! And remember, if you have an idea for a Bowl of Cheese podcast, call the talk like at 206-888-2715 or leave a comment on this post. I'd be glad to have another guest host read their submission for the audience. I require you to be clean, well-spoken, fun and relevant. Podcasts are between three and five minutes long. Rants are always welcome.

Enough of that, here's the transcript..

The rain’s coming down in droplets as large as jelly-beans and the wind’s got my curtains sticking into the room at right angles to the wall.

I can feel the temperature of the air drop by many degrees. Where it was 80 earlier it’s now about 65. It’s a welcome respite from the humidity and baking temps of the past few days.

As the thunder alerts me to more unsettled weather, I wonder what’s behind our aversion to the elements.

Certainly, being struck by lightning, washed away in a flood or a tornado, and smashed to bits by tsunamis and hurricanes isn’t anyone’s idea of a great adventure. But more often than not, we huddle inside when faced with a deluge, blistering heat or high winds.

Is this a condition of our evolution? Did we evolve just to run away from the challenges of our environment?

We can’t control the weather yet. So maybe it’s a flight reaction similar to when a Hippo charges us or when we see a gun. Regardless of the reason - genetic coding or learned response - people return to their homes, cars, offices or other sanctuaries for safety when the weather goes bad.

In some ways people remind me of ants. Fill up a watering can and pour it on an anthill and those creatures respond in the same way they would if the skies opened up and water fell from above. They don’t know any better and maybe they don’t care.

But we have the knowledge that storms move over us. That rain makes us wet and that lightning, while deadly, probably isn’t going to strike us when we’re in the city or while walking down the street. So what makes us fearful?

Human skin hasn’t been found to melt. Standing in the rain won’t give you pneumonia. Tousled hair is about the worst you’re going to suffer from a summer breeze. What’s our problem?

A Livescience.com story published in 2006 told of a study by psychologist John Westefeld at the University of Iowa. He surveyed 130 people about their reaction to weather and a large number of them were affected significantly by storms, wind, rain and other phenomena.

“Of 139 people surveyed, 89 said a good storm sometimes or occasionally gets their heart pounding, and 65 said they panic now and then,” said the Livescience article.

The article’s author - Robert Roy Britt - wrapped up the article with this...

“Overall, the researchers said 73 percent of the survey participants had "a little bit" or "moderate" fear of weather, while 24 percent had none. Just 3 percent were labeled as fearing Mother Nature "quite a bit."

The results are detailed in the June (2006) issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.”

In many cases, unless you believe in Noah and feel that we’re back on a path that will feature storms lasting a month and a half, the events only last a little while. They might cause some immediate damage to physical structures and to people’s psyches, but they’re over fairly quickly.

Perhaps it’s the spectacular nature of a sudden rainstorm that gets our attention. The sudden onset of black clouds and the chilly wind.

Except for the extraordinary storm, most events just last a little while and soon the status-quo returns. People emerge from their modern caves and go on with their lives.

In fact, the birds have started singing again and the last drops of rain are falling off the leaves. I started this column as the skies began to darken about 22 minutes ago. Now the sky is getting lighter and I guess I’ll leave my cave too.

See you inside the next time we have a storm. I’m not afraid.

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National Donut Day - Donut Tuesday Redux

2008-06-06
Length: 3s

Here's the 44th episode of Bowl of Cheese podcast.

Show notes are HERE.

Leave a comment if you feel like it or give us a call at 206-888-2715.

We're always looking for guest commentary. Shows are all under five minutes and explore different topics.

Today's show is on donuts and their significance in our lives. OK, in my life.

Thanks for listening!…

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Just a Trim, Please

2008-05-30
Length: 4s

Here's the 43rd episode of Bowl of Cheese podcast.

Show notes are HERE.

Leave a comment if you feel like it or give us a call at 206-888-2715.

We're always looking for guest commentary. Shows are all under five minutes and explore different topics.

Thanks for listening!

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Technology Nose

2008-05-20
Length: 4s

I have an aptitude or a nose for technology. So much so that I've been slowly weaning myself off of older communication methods and focusing on using only email, iChat, blogging and Twitter to contact people.

OK, that list seems like it's pretty complete and would cover the majority of people. Not so.

If you're reading this blog, you're still fishbowl-bound. What I mean by that is that you are in the minority of users who read, comment on, get information from, and communicate using newer Internet tools.

There are vast hoards of people who thing twittering is what birds and old women do. They think skype is a type of street gambling in New York City. They cringe at the term facebook because they think they have to pose for something. And they won't even talk about secondlife because they think it's just going to be a boring diatribe about reincarnation.

Don't get me started on SMS, IM, emoticons, YouTube, Flickr and Tumblr.

So why do we (again referring to blog readers and the general technorati) frequently lose sight of our insignificance? Are we projecting our desires on businesses, organizations and individuals in an attempt to lure them into the fish bowl with us? And why is this quest so important?

What's so great about immediate corporate transparency? Is it vital that we know TODAY why Talbot's closed their Men's Store or why Brookstone keeps trying to sell us phallic massagers?

I'm not sure how we got here, but we're being led by some very smart and driven individuals.

Numerous people have commented in technology-centric forums that the members in that forum 'get it', whatever 'it' is. Further, they applaud increased involvement and urge members to spread their knowledge.

Doesn't this sound a little like Sun Myung Moon trying to build an army of followers?

Let's step back momentarily. As I understand it, technology can be defined in two ways. Technology can mean the knowledge that is used to create gadgets. Technology can also be used interchangeably to mean those actual gadgets. For the purposes of my rant, I'm using it to mean the physical tools, not the science behind the tools.

Continuing, how soon will it be before the fishbowl of any technology turns into a fish tank and then a fish pond and then a sea or an ocean?

Maybe I'm asking too many questions, but I challenge the smart techies among us to answer.

When will podcasting really catch on? It's not even flagged by my spell-check software anymore.

And what about GPS and satellite radio and email on phones and so on and so on and so on?

Ultimately, people are going to use what they're comfortable with OR they'll become comfortable with tools and technology that enrich and simplify their lives.

I just wonder if it's simpler to live in the fishbowl and stare out at the distorted remainder of humanity. Or if struggling against the glass day after day to make a difference and enlighten another few people is our role because we get it.

Finally, when do we stop pushing? When we have all the technology we can handle? When we're buried in gadgets and goodies up to our nose?

Technology nose.

Keep reading...

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The M Show - not really

2008-05-08
Length: 7s

A fellow podcaster - John Wall - has decided to purposely fade a little because of a super-secret plan. So, while he stays secretive and doesn't record his podcast I figured I'd throw up a little imitation art.

His site and podcast can be found here.

And this Bowl of Cheese podcast is pretty much a parody of his previous shows.

Bowl of Cheese will be back with an insightful and thought-provoking episode in a week or so.

Enjoy.

OH! And if you want to leave a comment, call us at 206-888-2715 or just visit my regular site and leave a note in the comments section.

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Popular Science Showcase

2008-04-25
Length: 4s















In this episode of the Bowl of Cheese podcast, Jeff Cutler explores the Popular Science Magazine's back pages. Mostly the Showcase section of the mag..

The reading is about four minutes long. Enjoy.

For the complete transcript, visit Jeff Cutler dot com or Bowl of Cheese dot com.

And if you'd like your material to appear in Bowl of Cheese, call us at 206-888-2715 or send an email to podcast AT bowlofcheese DOT com.

This is episode 40 and is copyright by Novel Ideas.…

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Baseball - Casey at the Bat - Bowl of Cheese 39

2008-03-30
Length: 5s

OK, here's some third-person speaking for you...

In this episode of the Bowl of Cheese podcast, Jeff Cutler does a dramatic reading of Ernest Lawrence Thayer's masterpiece Casey at the Bat.

The reading is about four minutes long and is read as the piece appeared in the San Francisco Examiner on June 3, 1888.

For the complete transcript, visit Jeff Cutler dot com or Bowl of Cheese dot com.

And if you'd like your material to appear in Bowl of Cheese, call us at 206-888-2715 or send an email to podcast AT bowlofcheese DOT com.

This is episode 39 and is copyright by Novel Ideas.

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Special Delivery by Jeff Cutler

2008-03-24
Length: 4s

This is Bowl of Cheese podcast show number 38 by Jeff Cutler. For full show notes, wander on over to http://bowlofcheese.com.

Call us at 206-888-2715 if you want to have your comments on the show or if you have ideas for topics we should tackle.

Thanks to John Wall for his promo (it runs at the end of the show) and to Natalie Gelman who skillfully and delightfully introduces the show.

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Lemony Tickets - podcast 37

2008-03-07
Length: 4s

This is Bowl of Cheese podcast show number 37 by Jeff Cutler. For full show notes, wander on over to http://bowlofcheese.com.

Call us at 206-888-2715 if you want to have your comments on the show or if you have ideas for topics we should tackle.

Or send an email to podcast@bowlofcheese.com.…

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Twisted Images - or Fear Factor Jeff Cutler style

2008-02-13
Length: 4s

Here's the transcript for Bowl of Cheese Podcast 36.

Get the show HERE and subscribe via iTunes...just click on the iTunes link in the right sidebar.

And you can always call us at 206-888-2715 with your comments, show ideas and random thoughts.

As I glance around the bungalow from the double recliner I realize that the everyday objects around me could have a life of their own. Similar to the toys in Pixar’s movies, the slippers on the floor, the multiple beer bottles in the trash or the super-secret money belt on the chair across the room could all be conspiring to affect my downfall.

It’s not that I woke up on the irrational side of the bed today, it’s that I feel housebound and needed something creative and fun to snap me out of it. Usually that means reading some other blogs or listening to a podcast.

Trouble is, the weather outside really is frightful and in 32 hours I’ve left the house a grand total of three times. Once to move the car out of the snowplow’s way. Once to stand on the porch and pay the sushi delivery guy. And once to see if anyone sends regular mail anymore.

It turns out that people do use the U.S. mails to send bills, pleas for money and those really useful bundles of supermarket flyers and SuperCoups. Other than that I suspect the post office is just treading water.

Why else would they introduce a FOREVER stamp...you know, one that is good for first-class postage FOREVER...why would they intro it in the fall and now have plans to jack the rates by another penny in May? That doesn’t make too much marketing sense.

Either does tying up all my savings in Forever Stamps right now so that I can save a penny each time I mail in a bill therefore sticking it to the man.

But right now the only man who’s getting it stuck to him is me. How convoluted a sentence was that?

I’m listening to the heat whistle a little and I realize that the boiler is going to need more water soon, and that means going outside and around to the basement. What was my point? Oh, yes, the incredible frightness of being.

If I spend much more time inside I’ll be a solo version of Jack Nicholson in the shining. Luckily I don’t own an ax and I’m much more stable than these podcasts might indicate.

While I’m regularly contributing items to my things to worry about Web site - yup, just like it sounds... thingstoworryabout dot com - I sometimes have lesser worries that either freeze or motivate me. I think we all do.

Like if I don’t throw out the milk, it will solidify in the fridge door and remain jammed there until I sell the house.

Or that if I keep wearing the money-belt as my regular belt it will start to crack and one day while I’m wandering the streets of Monte Carlo the Euros will show through the cracks and French hoodlums will drag me into an alley to taunt me with their attitude.

Or that the multiple beer bottles in the trash bucket are a clear indicator that I might have a drinking problem. The real problem being that the beers in the bucket at one time belonged to clownface and SHE would be a little less than pleased to find out that all I’ve left her to drink is some Miller Chill and a bottle of flat root-beer.

The flat root-beer is a remnant of the pizza delivery from last night. So I’ve been outside four times in 32 hours. That’s a little better.

Perhaps what I need to do by way of motivation is start a checklist. That way I’ll have some goals to keep me occupied while the weather sorts itself out and while I surge forward toward the sabbatical on March 1.

Sadly, I’ve asked Staples to deliver a white board to me and they refuse. So I’ll sit here in the chair, typing away and thinking about the next set of twisted images that could torment me until the snow goes away.

Hello lamp-post, what’cha knowin’?

More to come...…

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Being Strong - Jeff Cutler

2008-01-28
Length: 4s

Full show notes at http://bowlofcheese.com.

Call us at 206-888-2715.

Or send an email to podcast@bowlofcheese.com.…

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Louie Lawent - Louie/God Interviews

2008-01-06
Length: 8s

Louie Lawent Louie/God Interviews.

Full show notes at http://bowlofcheese.com.

Call us at 206-888-2715.

Or send an email to podcast@bowlofcheese.com.…

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Emperor's New Shave-BOC33

2007-12-20
Length: 4s

Full show notes at http://bowlofcheese.com.

Call us at 206-888-2715.

Or send an email to podcast@bowlofcheese.com.

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Gimme Credit

2007-12-07
Length: 4s

Just go visit Bowl of Cheese dot com for the transcript of the show.

Call us at 206-888-2715 to be on the show or give me an idea for an upcoming show.

Or send me an email.

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That is a Wrap

2007-11-30
Length: 5s

Go read the entire transcript at my blog.

Grab the MP3 File here (see below).

Or give me a call to be on the show. The NEW PHONE NUMBER, NEW PHONE NUMBER, NEW PHONE NUMBER is 206-888-2715.

Email works OK, but leaving a comment in the show notes at Bowl of Cheese dot com is better. Just go there and sign in.

Thanks,

Jeff Cutler

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Guest Bowl of Cheese Host - Philly Mac

2007-11-13
Length: 6s

Here's PhillyMac's contact info...he's our guest host on Bowl of Cheese number 30.

He rails on today for almost six minutes about the on-demand and Amazon rental arrangement with Tivo and how 'easy' it is to get a movie.

Contact him with comments...

Contact info:
e-mail: biographypodcast [at] gmail.com
voicemail: 206-202-W00T (9008)
Skype, AIM/iChat, Yahoo!: PalmMagnate
Twitter: http://twitter.com/phillymac
Pownce: http://pownce.com/phillymac (Note: if you need an invite, email me!)


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Hannaford Express

2007-11-02
Length: 4s

Visit Bowl of Cheese for the show notes. Leave a comment there or call us at 201-793-8255. Or send us an email - podcast@bowlofcheese.com.

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Andy Rooney BOC 28

2007-10-26
Length: 3s

Get in touch by putting your comment in the comments section of Bowl of Cheese dot com.

Here's this episode's transcript...

When I had Andy Rooney in the car with me the other day, I thought that he didn’t have long to live.

This isn’t a doomsday prediction but Andy Rooney is getting older and sometimes I think his comments show some senility.

In an effort to make things seamless for CBS (or whoever runs 60-Minutes these days) when they replace him, I’m doing an Andy Rooney-esque podcast.

I’m also doing this because the people at DaveBarry.com and David Sedaris.co.uk.fr won’t take my calls. I would really like to replace one of them.

But here goes my brief and brilliant Rooney swoon.

Did you ever wonder why the labels on pudding tell you that you can’t sell them individually? It’s not like you can eat more than a couple in one sitting. Is this rule in place to keep mom and pop stores from making any money by breaking apart the puddings into little orphan units?

What about the singles rack in the beer cooler? Who decided it was a good idea to gather together one bottle each from 47 odd brands of beer and charge $2 apiece for them.

It kinda makes sense, but how did the other five beers in the six pack disappear? Are they like socks in the dryer?

That reminds me, as I sit her in my office I just know that my laundry is not getting done at home because I failed once again to win the lottery.

Had I won the lottery – pretty much any lottery would do – I wouldn’t wash anything. I’d throw it all away every day and start over.

Well, I might keep two sets of clothes just so I’d have something to wear to the clothing store to buy new stuff.

But then I’d probably have to have a driver because I itch pretty easily and don’t want to be distracted when I drive by some itchy sensation in my new clothes.

I guess I’d sit in the back seat or better yet I’d lie down in the back of a limo. Sometimes limo drivers stock the back of their cars with neat little treats like crackers and soda.

On the way to the airport one time I found a sandwich in the back of the limo. It was really tasty.

But what would I do after I snack on my sandwich and have my drink? I’d probably want a pudding.

And it’s too bad, too. Because I’d only need one pudding and for some reason, they’re not marked for individual sale.


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The Color of Fall

2007-10-23
Length: 5s

Episode 27 for October 23, 2007 - Here's the transcript...

I’m not sure why cooler weather causes people to think the rest of society has gone insane, but it does. The sudden proliferation of brightly colored signs in every neighborhood around town is a regular occurrence on Saturday mornings from early September until nearly November. That’s right, everyone is having a yard sale. The insane part comes from the belief that people actually want their crap.

If you’re familiar with my lifestyle, you’d probably lecture me on throwing stones from my glass house. But if there’s one thing I understand, it’s that my collection of junk has value to me and I wouldn’t insult others by foisting it upon them. And IF I ever fell into the “sell all this crap to make space for more crap? trap, I wouldn’t base my pricing on some mystical process of sentimentality, greed and quarter dollar economics.

If you stroll around a yard sale, you’ll see books in moldy boxes, broken electronics and piles of National Geographics. Why would you do it? Do you need the money that badly? Will your cast offs make people happy?

What about getting rid of your junk on FreeCycle or any number of the services that will come to your house and pick up your used belongings.

FreeCycle is a trading site, or more accurately a site that allows you to offer your stuff to the first respondent. The only drawbacks are that it requires that you be online frequently so you can be first to get that great Nordic Track that someone is giving away. And that you can put up with multiple people ignoring the suggested rules and posting only ‘WANTED’ ads. That means they are not offering anything but would like a free game system, digital camera, car to “get to and from college? and more.

Some of these sad stories might be noble, but no more so than the people from the United Way or Goodwill or Salvation Army. These groups will come right to your doorstep and take away pretty much ALL your junk in one visit. No more setting up tables at 6AM on a Saturday so you can sit outside all day and make small talk with people who want to buy a Beanie Baby for $.15.

I’d like to think that as a society we’ve realized that we’re all about duplication and division and yard sales are just a step in that process. When you have first have a house and no kids, you have a yard sale to get rid of duplicate stuff. Essentially everything the guy brings to the relationship is now on sale. Then when you have kids, you buy stuff for them and upgrade some of your stuff.

13-inch TVs go on the sales block as do older video games, clothes, books, small appliances, sleds, golf equipment from 1801, candle sticks and anything that looks like it came from a house with 52 cats and an insane spinster woman (sadly, we all have crap like this laying around).

The crock pot, box of CDs and board game section are all favorites. As are the odd finds like a broken down Vespa, a hammock in a bag or telephones, telephones, telephones.

Ultimately, our quest to simplify is actually succeeding. People are recycling more and more stuff, they’re buying less and paper use is starting to dwindle as more people use electronic communication to make contact with others.

But is simplification – and I realize I’m swinging from topic to topic here – really a state of true happiness? I like my stuff. I don’t mind that a few wires clutter the floor or that I can actually find my typing machine, my N64 or my comic books when I need to.

I also don’t think that it’s necessary to hide all my clothes away so that visitors think I have a magical existence. In every life there’s some clutter. Your lifestyle dictates how well you can function within that clutter.

So the next time you’re going out yard sailing, think about yourself first and not about the poor schmoe who wants to sell you an ammo can from WWII for five bucks. If you’re going to make use of his junk, then buy it. But don’t think you’re helping others by rewarding their sloth.

Even though that strainer or funnel or candlestick holder might be a quarter, isn’t your hard-earned cash, no matter how little, better spent on stuff you really need?

Maybe it would help if the money here were patterned along the lines of the Euro and other bright currencies. Then the only colored signs you’d have to be wary of would be the sign of cash flowing out of your pocket and being traded for crap.



Get in touch by going to my other site and putting a comment in any post.

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Jeff Cutler - 26 Scooter Fancy

2007-09-28
Length: 4s

This is really episode 25 since I skipped over 13, but it\\\'s still listed as 26, so enjoy.

If you want to appear on the show, call me. 201-793-8255 or leave a comment here, at jeff cutler dot com, at bowl of cheese dot com or send me an email. There\\\'s a feedback form at jeff cutler dot com.

Here\\\'s today\\\'s transcript...

Brian Andreas created a painting for my house. It\\\'s a watercolor of a golfer and some goldfish and some other random visuals. The print also features this saying:

"The first time I played golf, I had the most fun throwing bread to the goldfish in the pro shop. It made as much sense as anything else."

That\\\'s how I feel this morning as I sit in my wing chair staring at the empty spot in my living room that should be full of Vespa. If I look to my left, there\\\'s another empty spot in my house that could also be a Vespa holding space - but it too is empty.

No, I haven\\\'t lost a couple of Vespa\\\'s, I have just failed to win them.

Last night at the Allston Village fundraiser, I sat anxiously with 13 tickets for the drawing. Those 13 tickets failed to jump out of the raffle bin and their corresponding numbers were not read aloud by the organizers.

I didn\\\'t leave the bar with a Vespa, a bike, a second bike, a Razor Scooter or a three-month gym membership. And I\\\'m irked.

But the feeling I have isn\\\'t one of abject disappointment and bitter, bitter, bitter, projected loss. No, it\\\'s actually an empty and aimless gnawing.

I was pumped up to win the Vespa scooter (NOT the Razor), but only because the act of winning makes for a great story and because it\\\'s representative of doing something right...especially in this society.

Where else in the world, other than the United States, do people get credit for having a lucky circumstance? People are applauded for finding a good parking space, finding a dollar on the street, winning a free small fries at McDonalds and even for getting a \\\'free\\\' phone when they reactivate their cell phone plan.

Are we insane? Where has this predominant feeling of having to please other people with our adventures and successes come from?

If I still want a scooter - and a Vespa at that - I can afford one and should just go out and buy it. But from a use perspective and a financial one, my time and money and energy is better spent working on my writing, breathing deeply and enjoying my free time, planning (and paying for) home renovations, and thinking about my next trip to Europe or Hawaii or Chicago or Florida or event Montreal.

Ultimately, I didn\\\'t chase this scooter because I wanted attention. I chased it because of what it represented...an easy way to acquire a bit of status. People might see me in a different way, especially when I put the vanity plate on the scooter to coordinate with the vanity plate on my car. I\\\'m not saying what it would be because I still might buy a scooter.

But the scooter I buy will be the one I decide will give me the most enjoyment as I ride it around town to get my mail and to the beach to take photos and maybe even to the golf course.

And while I\\\'m at the golf course I might even find some goldfish or geese or squirrels to feed. Because that does make as much sense as anything else.

More to come...

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Goalie

2007-09-13
Length: 5s

Wow. Jeff Cutler reaches 25 episodes. OK, really 24 because I think we skipped #13.

Call us - 201-793-8255 or drop us an email - podcast@bowlofcheese.com

And take a moment to look at our blogs...

http://www.jeffcutler.com
http://www.bowlofcheese.com
http://www.thingstoworryabout.com

Here's today's podcast...

For some people, setting goals is driven by their situation. They are less free - in my opinion - to make decisions that contribute to their happiness and more prone to choose 'tasks' or paths that others strongly influence.

If I were still married, I imagine that many of my decisions would follow the whims and wishes of my wife. I'd be less free to jump on opportunities like a free Six Flags Day from Scion or Podcamp Boston.

Doing tasks around the house would become a stronger focus and the me generation might face extinction.

Fortunately, I'm extremely easy-going and not at all obsessive. My journey through life is in no large way adjusted because of external drivers...it's essentially a live life and enjoy it philosophy.

That's why the cat decision is very difficult.

While I might joke about skinning and dining on cats, that isn't how I really feel about these cute creatures. From Rags to Nick to Huckleberry, all the cats in my life have been (or will be) full-fledged members of the family.

I can assure you I won't creating a Michael Vick-esque den of catfighting (I'll let the women in offices all over this great country of ours do that). But a new cat is definitely going to be a change for me.

Primarily, a cat is a little more needy than a goldfish or plant and slightly less needy than an infant. So dropping everything and riding my scooter to Florida for three months is going to be a little less realistic. And my penchant for shutting off the heat in the house will probably have to stop during the winter months.

But the things I gain will more than make up for the slight crimp in my lifestyle. My main concern is that my cat will want more attention than me or have an OCD mentality.

So prepare yourself. In this space you're soon going to hear about cute little kitten adventures and be subject to innumerable photos of kitten cuteness.

But while kittens are fun, this column is about goals. To that end, on Tuesday I listed out a few 2007-2008 goals and I'd like to share the majority of them here. The world-domination plan gets a little convoluted, so I'll save that for its own post.

1 - Invent a device that is similar to an iPhone but just plays music

2 - Write a joke for David Letterman

3 - Keep up with all my blogging and podcasting (this current post kills two birds...NO, there is no killing of pets in this blog)

4 - Cultivate some more clients who want me to write Dave Barry and David Sedaris type columns

5 - Win more cash via assorted lotteries (last night I hit Keno for $452, really!)

6 - Buy a scooter (you didn't see that coming?)

7 - Take some serious steps toward home renovations (would like to go from 923 sf to 2300 sf...maybe I just need to put some mirrors on the walls to open up the space)

8 - Land a writing assignment for the 2008 Tour de France

9 - Be more visionary in nature and convert that to billions and billions of dollars

10 - Pay a tiny bit more attention to the world around me (contrary to my miniature amount of self-focus, I would like to remember the birthdays of my nieces and nephews and siblings and parents and girlfriend as well as major holidays like Yom Kippur and July 4th and Talk Like a Pirate Day)

So, with those lofty goals in mind I'm off to play poker tonight and generate funds to help me achieve my dream. I urge you to do the same.

More to come...

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Timesharing - Bowl of Cheese 24

2007-09-03
Length: 3s

Timesharing

I colored my hair the other day. Really. It’s a stylish and attractive red that is at once dashing and ‘interesting’. I was trying for blond, but the makeup of my hair and the worry that accompanied putting chemicals on my head probably conspired to limit the colorant’s effectiveness.

Needless to say, now I am supporting the home-town team with the color of my hair. But that’s not the topic of today’s post…sharing time is.

Directly related to the hair-color experiment was my anticipation of the reaction to my new hair by people and work and by family. Right now I’m safe because Mum doesn’t read this blog so she won’t know about my hair until she sees it this Friday at dinner. And that will be in front of lots of dinner guests so I’m predicting she won’t make a scene.

Continuing, I really thought people at work would be vocal and demonstrative when they saw my hair. They weren’t.

Maybe this comes from my persona at the office (I’m freelancing for Brookstone right now, but have other clients regularly where the same image is projected), one where I’m friendly and open-minded and sharing. People may have stopped being surprised by my stories or actions…or maybe my hair is hideous and they’re too afraid to say anything because they care about my feelings.

It’s probably none of the above. They probably didn’t even notice. In the same way it takes people about three months to realize a coworker is pregnant, a simple hair-color change isn’t that significant.

Furthermore, people are self-focused to an extreme. They project their feelings and thoughts on others and infrequently stop to take in the whole picture. I’m trying to be different. It’s not some sort of kharmatic change, just an occasional reminder to myself that life is going on all around us and we should take notice.

In an effort to do so, I stopped at the beach today and took this photo…

And better than just taking the photo, I stood and breathed in the sea air and just smiled. I thought about the sun and other people and perceptions and our busy lives. Then I realized that it wasn’t the color that I had outside my head that mattered, it was the spectrum of thoughts that were going on inside my skull. And those I choose to share.

More to come…

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Oh, no I didn't...

2007-08-11
Length: 6s

Here's the text of today's podcast.

You can reach us at 201-793-8255 or via email at podcast at bowlofcheese dot com.

Thanks for listening.




You all know the feeling of abject horror that takes over your gut and soul the moment you do something entirely preventable and simultaneously irreversible.

I enjoyed one of those moments yesterday while trying to set up my email program. The story requires a little backstory, so grab a frosty beverage or a non-crumb-making snack and snuggle up to the computer.

Here’s the sitch (as my friend Katie would say)…

I love my computer.
I love email.
I am a slight tech-head.
I’m sometimes cheap.
I’m often petty.
I am impulsive.
I am stubborn.
I can sometimes get frustrated.
I have a little ego.

About a year ago, I became annoyed with my site hosting provider because they were dinging me for about $320 a year for two sites… ideas2words.com (my Novel Ideas writing site) and jeffcutler.com (my Jeff Cutler vanity site). So I decided to move.

Let me stress that it wasn’t one factor that made me jump ship - and I still recommend their services highly (the company is ConceptHost), but I wanted more hand-holding and bandwidth than I could afford or that they could provide. The disclaimer here is that I helped found that company in the 1990s and should have stayed with them.

Unfortunately, we had worked at building a Web-rehabilitation company for about seven months without pay and I ran out of money and extra time. So I had to jump ship. The firm is now run by a team that is focused on solutions for mid-sized businesses and it’s poised for continued success.

Enough about the past.

As noted it has taken a year, but I’m finally in the throes of moving over to BlueHost.com. Their tech support has been great and the transition - as you will see - has had its bumps, but hasn’t been unmanageable.

In a nutshell, I moved two sites (soon this blog will be there too) and all my email to their servers. That last bit of info is where my particular issues began.

I live by email. My clients use it to contact me and 70% of my communication with friends and family occurs over the ‘information tubes’. Thanks to senator Ted Stevens for that wildly incorrect description of the Internet.

With my connection to others dependent on electronic communication, I knew it was vital to have a smooth transition to BlueHost. Before the Paris trip I moved my business site and email over and the move was seamless. I did it over a weekend and in about 48 hours everything was resolved - just tech talk for ironed out - and Novel Ideas was up and running.

This time - for Jeff Cutler dot com - I figured I’d make the move at the beginning of the week and things would be fine. That was my first mistake.

As many of you know, email slows to a crawl at 2PM on Friday and then restarts at about 7-9AM on Monday. People use cell phones on the weekend instead of their computers and that probably makes weekend Website transitions easier. Starting this process on a Tuesday wasn’t brilliant.

Now you’ve got the background, here’s how the move went…

TUESDAY
10AM switch nameservers to BlueHost
10:10AM jump on live chat with BlueHost to allay my fears that I might lose emails
10:17AM fears allayed, I continue the process and all looks perfect
10:30-4PM set up new account settings in MAIL on my Mac, tested and retested settings, FTP’d the site to both locations
4:30PM smiled broadly because email was now coursing through BlueHost and was seemingly off the old provider’s servers
7PM-12PM checked occasionally to be sure all was right with the world. It was. Mail was still coming through BlueHost. PERFECT!!

Things had moved over far faster than I thought and I was home free. The next morning, mini-freak-out. Couldn’t get mail from BlueHost’s servers and mail was coming back into my computer from the old ConceptHost servers.

What had I done wrong?

Turns out that it wasn’t me, it is just the way the move to a new server system resolves itself. Some mail (if coming from other ConceptHost clients) would come right through the old email path. New emails would come through the new path or be held up somewhere.

It was just a waiting game.

Well, last night around midnight I thought everything was resolved. My mail was coming through cleanly and the old server path wasn’t delivering anything. SO I JUMPED THE GUN and went to erase my old settings in Apple MAIL.

Did you hear the Ming vase falling off the pedestal?

Adjust settings, see warning, ignore warning, click ‘delete’. Suck in air like Doc in Back to the Future. Wonder if I’m better off without those 114 emails. Vow not to do that again. Spend the next morning befuddled that I could be so dumb.

So now I’m carrying on without 114 emails. And the kick in the pants is that right now the servers have unresolved themselves and the original estimate of 72 hours will likely be true.

Lesson learned. Life simplified.


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Gored with Chopstick

2007-07-01
Length: 3s

Here's the transcript of show 22.

Call us at 201-793-8255 if you want to appear on the show.

Or send us an email.

-----

The chopstick falling into my engine was almost dehabilitating in the way it frustrated me. It clinked off some metal things and came to rest just out of sight.

This should have been the first of many clues (or the last of many based on the 25 years that I’ve tried to do things as simple as change my oil and insert an air filter) that I should let trained people work on my car.

The reason I had the chopstick in my hand while leaning in the engine compartment was because the air conditioner had starting pouring water onto my feet while I drove.

This cold water was making my car smell like a paper mill and the moisture on the bottom of shoes had created a nice case of athlete’s foot.

Now, staring into the engine, I realized with ultimate clarity that I had to throw away my car. You might think that’s a bit extreme but I had no fear that only bad things were ahead.

For instance, in a classic Things to Worry About moment, I envisioned the chopstick jiggling loose during my commute and stabbing through my tire (or worse, my brake line). THEN I’d be either flung over the cliff at the side of the highway or I’d slam full-bore into the back of an armored car.

Continuing this train of thought, the accident with the armored car wouldn’t kill me, but the angered guards inside would roll out of the truck with weapons drawn and sink 38 lbs of lead into my befuddled visage.

And this was all happening because of Al Gore.

That’s right. If Al Gore didn’t invent the Internet or pull back the curtain and show us Global Warming, none of this could have happened. None of it.

Without the advent of Global Warming, the Scion I purchased wouldn’t have existed because we’d all still be driving large, fun cars.

Mustangs and Hummers and FJ Cruisers would be all over the road. Well, all over the road in even more insane numbers. And driving the highways of America would be the activity god intended…a place to show off and score chicks.

Actually, the ozone issue and global warming are likely a myth. If they were real, then I wouldn’t have been able to keep my car air conditioner OFF as much as I did. Which likely caused the drainage tube to clog and the water to pool in my dashboard and subsequently pour onto me feet.

And because I wouldn’t have had to unclog this drainage tube, I would not have dropped the chopstick into my engine. If you’re still with me, you’ll now understand why this can all be blamed on fat Al.

If there were no Al Gore there wouldn’t be an Internet. And then how would I tell you this tale of woe? I’d likely just be ranting to people on a street corner in Kitchener Ontario where they accept people who are different.

But I’m here in my hot house, reading into the Internet, creating a podcast all because of Al.

Al Gore, I implore you. Either jump into the race so I can feel good about making fun of you without trying to tie you to real events that only have a fleeting connection to your activities.

Or move to Alaska and drape your fat carcass over some of the receding glaciers to protect them from the sun.

More to come...

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Flag Poll - a commentary on flag use

2007-05-19
Length: 4s

This article first appeared in mid May 2007 as my column in Gatehouse Media's chain of papers...specifically the Hingham Journal.

My regular column is called Writer's Block and the link to the story online is here...

Flag Poll

Thanks for listening.

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Bowl of Cheese - Twenty - THE SPIDER

2007-04-09
Length: 3s

Well, it was gone this morning.

That’s right, the spider I worried about all night. The one that had been sitting patiently in the top corner of the bathroom, nestled nicely where the wall and ceiling met. That spider. Gone.

I suppose that he (or she) didn’t cruise over to the toilet to ambush my butt. And I am pretty sure he didn’t make the trek across the vast expanse of foyer to visit me in the night. But that doesn’t mean this spider isn’t evil. And it certainly doesn’t mean anyone is safe.

I’m just waiting to wake up one morning this week with itchy bites all over my body. Or worse, a swollen eyelid. Or even worse, a spider in my ear.

These might seem like trivial things to worry about, but as you know from my companion site - thingstoworryabout.com - I am nothing if not concerned about stuff that others choose to ignore.

In addition to the spider that has now taken over my entire house, I’m angry at the Discovery Channel. Not only have they decided to stop sponsoring a team in the Tour de France, but they have been airing some mini-series, ala Dynasty, on animals killing each other.

Last night I saw lions jumping on a poor elephantom and snacking on its hind quarters. I’d call it an elephant, except the night-vision cameras didn’t make it seem as cute as the chained-up version I usually see at the circus. Or the slightly dazed, short-bus version the Republicans use as their mascot.

It seems that the United States is gripped by the very real situation of animals eating other animals. No more cats and dogs living together. No more hamsters living peaceful lives in plastic tube cities. Nope, it’s survival of the fittest.

I even saw a bird of some sort snatch a rodent or rabbit or burrowing creature from in front of its television while it watched the Masters Golf Tournament. Suffice it to say, even Tiger couldn’t save this furry little varmint.

Which reminds me that the word varmint is similar to Velomints which were the first mint I remember that came in a metal tin. And one day when I opened the tin I saw a spider inside. Since that day I’ve been a little skittish about mints and their role in the eventual world-domination plan spiders have hatched.

Similar to the circle of life, this discussion has come back to spiders. And even if killing a spider causes some rain, I’ll take the rain. For the next time I see that spider in the house, it’s going to visit my toilet. I even thought of filming the battle for the Discovery Channel, but I can’t afford another sleepless night.

More to come…

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A Life of Play - Companion Cast

2007-04-02
Length: 31s

This is NOT a Bowl of Cheese podcast. It is a co-release of a file for my other podcast - A Life of Play.

Just trying to intro some of my other material and do a little cross promo.

Enjoy...

Jeff

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One Million Dollars - BOC Podcast 19

2007-03-31
Length: 5s

A few weeks ago my aunt and uncle gave one million dollars to cancer research.

In an age where many homes cost a million bucks, people pay multi-millions to take a flight to the moon, pro athletes sign contracts worth billions, and a Machiatto at StealBucks goes for almost a million—this might not seem significant. But a million dollars is still a lot of money.

To put things into perspective, at $25 an hour, you would have to work 40,000 hours to earn a million dollars. That’s only 20 years of working. Nobody even stays at the same job for more than four years, so how are you going to work 20 years straight and save your million?

Further, where has the respect for the lowly million gone? These days, people won’t even play a lottery that has a prize of ‘only’ a million dollars. They want the PowerBall jackpot that is at least $75Million before they’ll play.

Which brings me sideways to another point…the lottery is the worst way to get a million dollars and nobody should waste their cash on it. Remarkably, nobody will admit to playing the lottery but the jackpots get really big all the time. Must be one guy who is buying all the tickets.

Getting back to Alice and Steve. They gave this money away for myriad reasons. Alice’s father had cancer and so have other members of their extended family – including my mother. They’ve been involved with Dana Farber Cancer Center for years and they understood that every penny – and especially 100 million pennies or is it 1000 million pennies (good thing I’m a writer instead of an investment banker) – could do a great deal of good for research in fighting this disease.

Finally, they gave away the money because it was the right thing to do. Which brings me to the real point of this podcast…doing the right thing.

Here’s a quick mental exercise.

Old woman standing by the side of the road with a shiny metal walker. She obviously is looking for an opportunity to cross the street. Do you: A – slow down and hold up the progress of the universe to let her cross – angering other drivers and perhaps instigating road rage? B – Hide your face from the woman and drive slowly past? C – Smile broadly at her while slowing down, then floor it, squealing tires and frightening her badly…secure in the knowledge that her eyesight is probably pretty bad too, so she won’t be able to see your license plate number for the police report?

Busy restaurant on a Friday night. You and your date are seated at a table that still has the check and the previous patron’s money on it – but it is all hidden in the decorative table tent and the hostess obviously doesn’t see it. Do you: A – Bring the check to the attention of the hostess and hope that the restaurant will reward you with a free drink or maybe a tasty dessert? B – Wait until the hostess departs and then discuss with your date how much you should skim off the tip because you had to wait 40 minutes for a table? C – Quickly pocket the check and the cash and discretely leave that restaurant, heading for a more expensive joint now that you can clearly afford twice the dinner you had planned?


Cold Sunday morning. You venture down to the foyer to get your newpaper and see that your copy is all wet from the snow and a less-than-attentive paper carrier. Your neighbor’s paper seems to be pristine and you’re pretty certain that he won’t be coming down to the lobby within the next three minutes. Do you: A – Grab your paper, turn on the electric radiator and dry out your paper while making breakfast and a cup of English Breakfast tea? B – See how badly damaged your paper is and then see if you can ‘appropriate’ some of your neighbor’s paper so you both have a little damage and both have some good paper? C – Grab all the papers in the foyer and dash back up to your apartment? Then call the newspaper and complain that the papers didn’t arrive and that you want a free week and some logo gear, perhaps an umbrella and a laptop bag. Then settle into your favorite chair to do multiple versions of the crossword puzzle in pen, just because you can.

Clearly, you can see where I’m going with this. Doing the right thing isn’t always easy, but if you prefer to take advantage of people, look out for only number one, and generally tell the world to bite you—I hope your old mother never gets across the street, your friends are banned from their favorite restaurant for seemingly chewing and screwing, your favorite paper goes out of business because it can’t sustain repeated losses, and the cancer you get isn’t one of the ones that Alice and Steve’s donation helped research.

More to come…

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Dashing Superheroes

2007-03-09
Length: 4s

When asked recently what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said Aquaman.

I’ll wait while you clean the Diet Coke off your blouse or desk or dashboard. OK, let’s continue.

I think the reason I wanted to be Aquaman was a belief that I was going to be powerful and helpful and innately good to people. But also that I wasn’t going to be the top hero. I knew, even at an early age, that my weaknesses were real and while I might want super vision or the ability to run faster than light or even the skill to swing from a hair-thin spider web, it probably wouldn’t happen.

But I did take swimming lessons and could hold my breath for a long time, so Aquaman it was. *I also wanted to be a blond – mostly because a lot of parents would coo over infants with blond hair and I like to be cooed over.

The other variable that affected my decision to be a superhero like our friend AM was my collection of comic books. I had everything from Richie Rich to Archie to Spiderman to the Flash to Superman and Batman. I even had some Duck Tales and some ‘Classic Grimm’s’ fairy tales.

Add to this a short attention span (some politically correct people who get horribly offended when I say that white is the new black* might call this ADD) and the ease at which a comic book can be enjoyed, and you’ve got a recipe for an addiction to fantasy.

Fast forward about 30 years and look around. Spiderman has his third movie coming out. Batman has his 27th. Superman has died once and come back to life. And Captain America has just bit the dust for good.

According to sources at Marvel, Cap has outlived his usefulness as a hero and he has been written out of the future comic universe. I think this is disgraceful because of what Captain America stands for, and also because I was unable to get my hands on one of the soon-to-be-priceless copies of that final issue.

As you all know, Captain America stands for stem cell research. He was the product of scientific tampering and would have remained a weak and ineffective clerk if not for stem cells and genetic manipulation.

It’s too bad he’s no longer with us. Perhaps the Wonder Twins will step in to take his place. In the meanwhile, I’ll continue to fly the Captain America flag by periodically putting a bust of Cap on my dashboard, and standing for what I believe in.

Luckily, I think I can do that. I wasn’t a genetic experiment success, but as it turns out, I am powerful as a writer, I am helpful as a person and I like to think I toe the line pretty well on the good side. I may not be Captain America or even Aquaman, but I continue to make a positive splash in the ocean of life every day.

More to come...

*Dunkin Donuts White Hot Chocolate is the new trend in beverages and their slogan SHOULD be White is the new Black.

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Just Presidential - Bowl of Cheese Seventeen

2007-02-19
Length: 4s

Here's the transcript to this week's show. Thanks for listening. Send your comments to me at podcast at bowlofcheese dot com or call us at 201-793-8255.

It�s about 21 degrees outside today and I�m listening to the heat whistle while thanking president Lincoln for this �free� day to catch up on some writing and some housework.

I�m positive that Lincoln didn�t have me in mind when he created the Internet or when he established his birthday as an occasion for automobile sales, or even when he brought the beard into fashion.

But sitting here unshaven, I can�t help but tick off in my mind the freedoms all of us enjoy because of our citizenship.

Take for instance the ability to choose a table at a restaurant.

Where I live, there are some great breakfast joints. And because breakfast is THE meal of the day for me (no, I eat other meals, but breakfast is far and away my favorite), it�s important to have a breakfast place you can trust.

This trust is fairly straightforward. They need to know how to cook an egg; how to keep French toast from getting soggy; not to serve fruit and yogurt together (have you ever enjoyed that amorphous film that develops on the top of the yogurt when fresh fruit has been sitting on top for a minute or two � it�s tasty!); how to pay enough attention to your needs; and how to keep your teapot full of hot water and fresh teabags.

Well, Stars is that restaurant. They�ve got a perfect location overlooking Hingham Harbor and I try to have breakfast there at least once a week on my Free Fridays (more on Free Fridays in an upcoming blog entry or BOC podcast). I frequently bring friends there on the weekend and it�s the �safe� place to dine whenever you don�t want to worry about the food, the service or the venue...MOST of the time.

You see about 12 years ago they had a waitress on staff who would persistently get your order wrong, forget that you were in her section, take FOREVER to bring you the check, and she was persistently friendly. She�s no longer working at Stars, but it took them about nine years to figure out that people were avoiding her section whenever possible.

In the past four years, the situation has appeared again.

I don�t know if Stars is part of a public service program to bring morons � strike that � SLOW, INEPT MORONS into the foodservice business, but they�ve accomplished it again.

The waitress who is now on staff, and who I vigilantly try to avoid, does not speak clearly, has messed up about 94% of my orders and is physically slow.

The last time I was in the restaurant, she had crumbs of food all around her mouth � making it so appetizing for me to think about food � and she brought me a lump of grits that was so solid and cold I could lift the whole chunk with my spoon.

Let�s not debate whose fault bad food is � a good waiter or waitress should check the order before carting it out to the customer � but let�s certainly debate our freedom to expect a certain outcome when we sign a silent contract with a restaurant by walking through the door and sitting down.

Maybe that�s really what I�m trying to get at today. Maybe waiters and waitresses harken back to a time when servitude was the norm. A time before Lincoln had his way. And maybe this servitude too should be abolished, and nobody should have to wait on anyone else.

But until that comes to pass, I�d at least like to free this one waitress from her service role. Then my breakfasts will be free at last from the indignities. And isn�t that really what Lincoln stood for?

Now go buy a car and make this country strong again. I�ll talk to you again during the next Bowl of Cheese.

x

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Expect More - Bowl of Cheese Sixteen

2007-01-27
Length: 4s

CALL US or write to us. The phone is 201-793-8255 and the email is HERE.

And now, here's this week's episode text...

There’s a company out in the market that has the motto Expect More. Off the top of my head (as I sit here at the local National Tire and Battery location waiting for my car to be serviced) I can’t think of which company that is. But I agree with the sentiment wholeheartedly.

When I traded in my gas-guzzling Jeep for my Scion xA, I did expect more. I expected a car that would deliver 32-36MPG, a fairly maintenance-free vehicle, and a driving experience that was quieter and more youthful.

Two years later I can grin a little and say that I’ve gotten that in spades.

I used to barrel along the highway getting about 19MPG in a lumbering beast that’s greatest benefit was its four-wheel-drive and extra interior space. But the space was only excess for belongings – people got mashed if they had to sit in the back seat making my Cherokee an oversized two seater.

In my new car people are comfy wherever they sit with plenty of legroom and headroom. The car handles well, has really good road visibility and with global warming hasn’t had to plow through much snow in the two years I’ve owned it.

While the xA isn’t much bigger than a Lark or a Rascal scooter, it does have some pep and has been designed with proper thought for ergonomics and convenience.

I wish more things were designed correctly instead of being rushed to market just because of good margins and corporate pressure and promises.

Take for instance the Blue-Ray DVD player. On the face of it, Blue-Ray technology is a godsend. Room for 50GB of data on a single dvd-sized disk is a dream come true for computer users and entertainment buffs alike. Imagine backing up your photos and/or music – or even your favorite Bowl of Cheese podcasts – to a single disk. That’s the coolest.

But now imagine paying $1100 for just the player. I don’t even know how much the recorder will cost. Further, the Blue-Ray maker – Sony – has refused to allow certain movie segments to use their technology to sell films. One in particular is the adult movie industry.

I’m not a lewd and lascivious person. I don’t really watch porn and can’t imagine purchasing it, but when it comes to the economics of home entertainment, porn is a huge financial driver.

Quoting a Yahoo News article by Brian Gardiner of Extreme Tech, “the U.S. adult-film industry, at around $12 billion in annual sales, rentals, and cable charges in 2006, is an even grander and more efficient moneymaking machine than legitimate mainstream American cinema (the latter's annual gross came in at $9 billion for 2006).?

And Gardiner makes the same point I had it mind, that the fate that befell Beta technology is on the horizon for Blue-Ray.

So why are people selling it? They don’t know any better, they get a kickback or a huge margin from Sony or they just don’t want to buck the trend.

The same people who are stocking Blue-Ray are the ones who got excited about the Zune because they didn’t think the margins from Apple items were high enough. And they were the same people who pooh-poohed MP3 technology until it was in everything from alarm clocks to watches.

This ramble probably has less to do with fixing my car (it cost $622 by the way) or expecting more (and that company is Target by the way, not a car company). It’s about people having some common sense and sticking to it.

Don’t put up with crap that people push to market, make smarter decisions about what you buy and you might just be able to finally look around at the results of what happen when you do expect more.

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Bowl of Cheese - Fifteen, Elvis LIVES!!!

2007-01-14
Length: 3s

Wearing red and white jumpsuits - respectively - Colin and Jonah descended upon Las Vegas Nevada last Monday to celebrate the King's 72nd birthday. They do this each year to honor the memory of Elvis Presley, and January 8, 2007 was no different.

Even though both men are clearly insane, they have retained the mental acuity necessary to rent flamboyant jumpsuits, board a plane, navigate this active city and spread the word effectively to tens of people that Elvis would have been 72 had he lived.

I was in Vegas covering CES (the Consumer Electronics Show) when I ran across Colin and Jonah at the New York New York Casino. We were eating in adjoining booths at the Nathan's near the roller coaster and their appearance and APPEARANCE caused me to stare and to ruminate on tradition.

Too often, people jump on a 'tradition' because it's popular. St. Patrick's Day, Groundhog Day, Talk like a Pirate Day - they're all very popular but they're also 'me too' occasions. Why not establish something that you can do that sets you apart from the masses?

Colin and Jonah, unless there's some evil intervention from their wives or wives to be, should be able to continue their honoring of the King for decades. They do it tastefully and with creativity.

Unlike the cretins who drink green beer or those who continue to think chocolates and flowers need to be handed out willy-nilly on St. Valentine's Day - these friends take a special event and put their own twist on it. They've also created their own tradition, which is really what I wanted to talk about today.

When we're young we effortlessly remain in touch with people we care about and frequently take for granted the time we spend together and the memories we create. Then as years pass, this time gets gobbled up by other obligations that might in some instances be fleeting (first marriages, jobs - don't get me started about people who let work get in the way of life, games and addictions).

When was the last time you called a childhood friend or made time to really send a note to a person you take for granted? It's funny that I mentioned addiction in my earlier paragraph because this little story took place in a venue - Las Vegas - that thrives on people's addictions.

And to further that thought, some of the programs that help people deal with addiction have a cure-all for the nonchalance with which we treat others and for the seeming disregard with which we observe traditions. I'm not sure of the specific naming convention it has in each program, but it's comprised of making amends to those you have wronged in any way.

So while we raise a toast - be it beer, champagne, soda or a jelly-donut cocktail - to Colin and Jonah, let's try to remember the people around us who still matter. The people we still love everyday, no matter what little things get in the way.

Maybe telling these people how much they mean could become a tradition too.

Want to get in touch??? Call us at 201-793-8255 and leave a message or a rant. We'll play it on the air. Or send an email to us!

Thanks for listening and reading and thinking!

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Bowl of Cheese - Fourteen

2006-12-28
Length: 3s

Hey, want to be on Bowl of Cheese podcast?? Then call us at 201-793-8255. If I use your clip on the air, you'll be famous.

OK. Here's this week's show...

Barking up the wrong tree

With Fletcher at my feet I spent Wednesday night thinking about expectations. The thing that spurred me to this abstract topic was the completely black and white manner in which a four-year-old Labrador puppy lives its life.

Fletcher, from what I can gather because he has yet to talk, is fairly simple. I don’t mean short-bus simple (although he is a bit lacking in the noggin power), but simple in his wants and needs.

He’s pretty much a three-trick pony. Eating, sleeping, evacuating—then doing it all over again. There is certainly a little bit of snuffling about thrown in for good measure as well as a healthy amount of dashing this way and that and attacking sticks.

But for the most part Fletcher is simple. We’re not like that.

Take the holidays for instance. During which we pretty much let our expectations rule our perceptions of people, their actions and our lot in life.

If we get a gift we don’t like, we seldom look inward for the reason.

Nope. We suddenly and critically look at the person who let us down by giving us a gift. We project upon them a sense of evil motivation. One that has caused them to maniacally wrest control from our superior life and dash our hopes and dreams.

That might seem a bit severe, but try and follow this twisted scenario. I’ll give you the end first and then build in the backstory.

I got too many teapots for Christmas and therefore thought that nobody cared about me.

“Well, that’s logical? you’re probably thinking. Teapots are a thoughtless and shoddy gift. In fact, you’re probably saying aloud right now, “I wonder how you wronged these people to such a degree that they foisted teapot after teapot on you!?

Now here’s the filler. A quality tea kettle was on my list – remember the jeffcutler.com/wishlist site?

And instead of being proactive and taking the kettle off the list the moment I found out that Mrs. Claus had gotten me a kettle, I let the list languish and trusted the others to read my mind.

I’m the same way about other occasions too. My birthday, Valentine’s Day, Talk Like A Pirate Day, and even the first day of sweeps week.

While things would be so much better if people could read minds, I don’t think it would help me too much in the way of gifts and special treatment.

People might see that I sometimes project my feelings onto situations and that I can be prone to self focus on various occasions.

Maybe I better keep my hopes for a clairvoyant society a secret before this whole situation turns ugly.

For if word got out that I really like presents, but I don’t always appreciate them as much as I should…I’d definitely be in the dog house.

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Jeff Cutler - Contact Bowl of Cheese

2006-12-16

Hey - got an idea or a comment for Bowl of Cheese?

Start up the conversation and send it to me via email.

You can also call the Talk line at 201-793-TALK. I'll take the best call each episode and play it on the next show. You can make comments about my style, ideas for future shows or even leave a plan for a show of your own.

Thanks for listening and supporting the show. I urge you to keep thinking and I'll talk to you soon!

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Spicy eggs and heavy metal - Jeff Cutler dines in

2006-12-16
Length: 3s

If you're listening to the podcast instead of reading this online, you are acutely aware that I sound like crap. This cold in my throat and brain arrived after Thanksgiving and has decided to stay through the holidays. I've set out clean towels and am just waiting for it to leave.

In the meantime, I've been focusing on my trip to France in July which has necessitated a little tightening of the purse strings. Instead of eating lunch out every day I've been occasionally bringing leftovers. And instead of eating each breakfast out - and this is my FAVORITE meal of the day - I have started to cook again.

Today I had my famous spicy eggs. I can't give you the recipe because they were created by mistake while I was distracted by DirecTv TITANIUM.

Titanium is a package for people who don't have enough going on in their lives to leave the couch. For a mere $7500 a year, you can get EVERY SINGLE CHANNEL AND MOVIE that DirecTv delivers. That includes NFL Sunday Ticket, PayPerView (all you can eat), every movie channel, all the adult selections (oooooooohh, still not worth it), and hundreds of regular channels.

In my weakened condition I tried to do the math. I'm paying about $50 per month for a pretty good package. I don't get movies or sex channels, but I also choose to fill a good portion of my day with something other than embossing my couch with my body.

For this package to be worth it, I would have to watch television and movies 31 hours a day. $7500 is more than ten times more expensive than my current bill and I rarely break the 2-hour per day mark, much less the vaunted 3.1 hour barrier.

Well, I have been known to plunk myself down once in a while when there's a Scrubs marathon or NFL Football on the tube. And we're not including July when I regularly watch 5+ hours a day of the Tour de France.

So, my shocked state I put too much pepper in my eggs and realized once again that if television - or any activity - is interfering in your life, it might be a sign. I'm taking this to mean that titanium is too heavy a metal for me to handle.

Keep thinking!

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Listing Wishfully - Bowl of Cheese Eleven

2006-12-08
Length: 3s

I finally got my act together the other day and re-compiled my wish list for the holidays. I’ve been doing this for more than 30 years, so it wasn’t a new endeavor, but it took more effort this time.

And it’s precisely this effort that concerns me. Instead of being rabid to compose a string of expensive, extravagant and interesting items on a list that is posted for all the world to see – by the way, you can find it at jeffcutler.com/wishlist (the wishlist part is all one word) – instead of this rabidity, I was pretty nonchalant this year. And that frightens me.

My modus operandi is one that is best described as Jeff to the world. Not in a inwardly focused style, but in a ‘the holidays are so taxing on everyone’s nerves that you should be able to smile’ way.

So I frequently try to be as creative in my list making as I am in my advertising brainstorming, my blog entries and my emails to long-lost friends. I sometimes put things like circus tickets, licorice laces and even home renovations to the tune of $260,000 on the list. But I think I’ve either grown up or lost the enthusiasm for things.

Don’t think this is all crazy talk, I still have some fun stuff there, but most things on the list are more slanted toward gift cards and practical items than in years past.

Maybe it’s a new era – or the semblance of a period that we all approach as we get older – but I’m not sure I’m too fond of the list apathy that has gripped my soul.

I want to want. The urge to bask in excess is something I miss, and thankfully it’s something I can’t grasp hold of by purchasing gadgets from Brookstone, sushi from Porter Square or bike parts from SpeedGoat.com. Well, maybe the sushi would make me smile a little.
But what comes next? The inexorable trip to being altruistic? A path that has me standing in soup kitchens with a ladle? Or divesting myself of all 280 of my baseball caps to kids who need them more than I.

In retrospect I think this sense of wonder is a safety valve to my sanity and it gives me hope that I’m not that far gone from the present-hoarder of days gone by.

Similar to those smart people you know who don’t focus on their brains and are slightly insecure in their brilliance, I think that I’m safe from gift burnout.

You see, by leaning toward the irrational and talking hypothetically about no presents, I’ve awoken a greedy little monster inside me. And this monster is already gurgling and whimpering about gift cards, home and travel electronics and a lengthy list of fun things to sate its appetite.

Phew, that was close! Wishion accomplished!

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Bowl of Cheese - Ten - Ann Cutler, er Coulter

2006-11-27
Length: 3s

Ann Cutler, er Coulter

For years I’ve been struggling against the general inability of people to spell my last name correctly. On this list are teachers, politicians, business people and worst of all credit bureaus. I guess the people who you buy something from or are beholden to for 19.7% interest should probably be most attentive when it comes to accuracy in their records. After all, we’re entrusting them to be correct when they slap up the finance charges we owe or when they monkey with our future purchasing power.

Even today this issue frustrated me. I called the frequent flyer desk at AirTran Airways to see why they weren’t crediting me with numerous trips to and from Florida. The way Moesha in the phone center tells it, “Our name fields don’t accept middle names.?

Well isn’t that a fine how-do-you-do? All I use is my middle name.

This certainly causes some issues when I have to travel internationally because my passport has all my names on it. And it’s not as difficult to spell as goshandgollysquakatieiskindandgentle. But other than my birth certificate and passport, I go by my middle name and relegate my first name to either an initial or I drop it all together.

The reason I don’t use my first name isn’t out of country-club attitude. It’s because my father and I have the same name and were born only 25 years and one day apart. That often meant in the past that his credit was put on my credit report – and worse, my college spending-spree credit showed up on his.

So, after fighting with Chevron for five years to convince them that the gas card opened in 1967 wasn’t mine because I was only two and the only thing I was driving was my mother crazy, I finally found a way to manage the name issue. But that’s only the first name.

As hard as it is to believe, the last name Cutler isn’t that difficult to spell. But look at Ann Cutler – the so-called journalist. She spells it Coulter. And how about the legions of people that spell it Culter? Shouldn’t there be a “t? before “l? rule in the dictionary. Or perhaps in Wikipedia.

Maybe it’s mountains and molehills, but you don’t see people messing up Blil Cilnot’s name or Gegroe Buhs’ name. Then there’d be a backlash.

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Bowl of Cheese - Nine - Rockin' in the Free World

2006-11-20
Length: 3s

Email us with comments or show ideas or call us at 201-793-8255.

Enjoy!

When rocks blast through the atmosphere, we see a blaze of light and a streak of white. This was certainly the case the other night when the Leonid Meteor Shower was visible from the Northeastern United States.

Or perhaps I should say the meteors WOULD have been visible had they not been blocked by cloud cover?

This was the first time in a few years that I was really excited to wake up at 12AM and bolt outside into the cold. And I was so excited that I hopped in the car and drove frantically westward to see if I could reach the edge of the clouds for a clear glimpse of these atmospheric carvers as they burned up or skipped along the top of the world.

The other time that I got up at Oh-Dark-Hundred to see the meteors was in the fall of 2002 or 2003. Fletcher was just a puppy and somehow I convinced Ben to come with me to the High School field at 3 or 4AM. That night we saw bunches of shooting stars, but not this weekend.

As you have already guessed – mostly because I just said that I WOULD have seen them – I didn’t get to see any shooting stars on Saturday. The closest I got to seeing a shiny rock was the photo of sarcophakatieebullient’s new engagement ring.

She and Ben announced their commitment to one another under a clear evening sky in eastern Massachusetts a week or so ago. They were blessed by the presence of stars, those in the sky and those in their eyes.

But before this gets so sickeningly sweet that you want to smash your Apple iPod-brand MP3 listening device to the ground and stomp my melodious voice, I want to bring you back to earth. I did get to see ONE meteor or piece of space debris on Sunday night/Monday morning.

Even though my timing was off, I did see one bright streak of light go under the little dipper at about 12:42AM Monday. You see, had I read the news reports and astronomy guides correctly I would have known that the entire meteor shower was only taking place Saturday evening into Sunday morning. I just got lucky.

And although I’m loathe to put her real name out on my sites and in my podcasts without some camouflage, I want to say that Ben got lucky too when the star in his world – Katie – said yes to his proposal.

Keep thinking and I’ll talk to you again during the next Bowl of Cheese.


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Bowl of Cheese - Eight

2006-11-12
Length: 4s

Hey - got an idea or a comment for Bowl of Cheese? Send it to me via email or call the Talk line at 201-793-TALK. Here's episode 8.

Jeff Cutler - not a killer

Keep thinking...

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Bowl of Cheese - SEVEN

2006-11-04
Length: 3s

Here's the full text of episode SEVEN.

If you want to contact me, send an email or phone me. The new Bowl of Cheese phone number is 201-793-TALK (8255).

Keep thinking!!

My happy place

If you’ve visited my room – or rooms – any day since I was oh…11, you know that I have a tendency to be an organized pack rat.

The fact that people can’t understand how the mountains of clothes, toys, gadgets and junk are organized is their own failing that should be discussed with someone at an hourly rate.

Keeping stuff around me is a comfort but I know where to draw the line. I won’t keep clothes that I hate or that don’t fit me.

Well, except for that Miami Dolphins’ jacket from when I was nine.

Or the crate full of Beanie Babies that have got to be worth something. I’m just afraid that when they discover Princess Diana alive on some Caribbean island, my collection will drop in value.

But I draw the line at lawn clippings…or technically my lawn. That’s right, I’m against keeping extra lawn or leaves around the house.

Evidently my neighbor didn’t believe this to be true when he mowed my lawn the other day.

That’s right. To the complete horror of my mother and the family name, I had let my lawn get so long that he was losing his children in it, so he took out his mower and cut a swath through the jungle next to my house.

I wouldn’t be annoyed with him for doing this (and actually I’m not), but why couldn’t he finish the lawn. By mowing 1/3 of my yard he compelled me to mow the rest of it.

Stay with me. The trouble here is that it’s NOVEMBER and I had planned to let the snow take care of the extra grass. The fact I hadn’t mowed since September shouldn’t be an issue. It has been cold and the lawn growth has slowed considerably over the last month.

So on a bitter cold November afternoon, some guy I hired had to suffer while mowing my lawn while I took inventory of my other stuff.

Next thing you know, my used golf ball collection or hundreds of computer floppies will be targeted by some well-meaning interloper.

And that won’t make this a happy place at all.

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Bowl of Cheese - SIX

2006-11-01
Length: 3s

And another post is up. It seems that Bowl of Cheese is just cruising along. Unlike David Sedaris who started with public radio and moved right into fame, the journey here might be a little harder. But not impossible.

As you know, if you're part of the podcasting community or just a smart person, my goal is to build Bowl of Cheese into a commentary column that makes people think on a regular basis.

If you have an idea for something you want me to rant about - or if you want to rant about something yourself - just drop me an email or give me a call - 201-793-TALK. I'll get back in touch with you promptly and find a way to get you on the show or find a way to incorporate your genius into mine.

Until next time, keep listening and keep thinking.

Jeff

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Bowl of Cheese - FIVE

2006-10-29
Length: 3s

Here's the fifth episode of Bowl of Cheese. If you're enjoying these shows please send me an email or leave a comment in the show notes.

Also, please go to podcast alley and vote for Bowl of Cheese.

If you have any interest in submitting an idea for Bowl of Cheese or giving your own Sedaris-esque commentary, contact me via the email above or put a note in the comments.

Until next show, this is Jeff Cutler saying, "keep thinking!"

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Bowl of Cheese - FOUR

2006-10-25
Length: 4s

Here's the fourth episode of Bowl of Cheese. If you're enjoying these shows please send me an email or leave a comment in the show notes.

Also, please go to podcast alley and vote for both Bowl of Cheese and A Life of Play podcasts. It will make me famous and maybe I'll take you with me to the big city!

Chat soon,

Jeff

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Bowl of Cheese - THREE

2006-10-23
Length: 4s

Wow, now even Framingham, MA - right next to Natick, the home of Doug Flutie - has seen fit to ban playing tag in their playgrounds.

Enjoy this episode and send me your comments. Email me or leave a note at my blog.

More to come...

**Look me up on podcast alley and vote for both Bowl of Cheese and A Life of Play. THANKS!

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Bowl of Cheese - TWO

2006-10-20
Length: 3s

Here's episode TWO of the Bowl of Cheese podcast.

If you want to read along with me, go to my blog and look for the post that corresponds with the words that are coming from your speakers.

Got an issue? Leave a note on the blog or send an email to 'podcast' at bowlofcheese.com.

More to come...…

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Bowl of Cheese - ONE

2006-10-17
Length: 3s

Here's episode ONE of the Bowl of Cheese podcast.

If you want to read along with me, go to my blog and look for the post that corresponds with the words that are coming from your speakers.

More to come...

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Bowl of Cheese podcast

2006-10-16

The commentary will begin soon, so stay tuned!

In the meanwhile, go visit my blog to see past comments in the written realm.

As we go forward I'll be posting a written comment AND a podcast simultaneously. So you can enjoy the piece at home, at the office or in your car.

Each podcast will be about four or five minutes and will hopefully make you smile, cry or anything in between.

Thanks!

More to come...

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Bowl of Cheese

Jeff Cutler does verbal commentary on the universe

Bowl of Cheese


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