Sunday, December 30, 2012


How did we already get to the 2012 wrap-up post? What a year. For several years now I have measured my life by the mantra that if I'm doing things right, the best year of my life at any given time should always be the last one I've lived.  So many people talk about certain times as their best. Times past. Times when they were young enough to do this or that. Times when they weren't bogged down by the mortgage, and the kids, and the job, and life. Times when they weren't going through the crap they're currently going through.

But strangers, I think 2012 has taught me more than anything else that the make-up of a greatest year is not actually exotic locales and impressive promotions. It's less about what you do and more about what you learn. It's not so much about where you've been but more about whom you've met. And whom you've helped. By that standard, each of our lives have room for greatness. Because each of our lives have people and challenges in them. Whether we live in the Palaun Pacific or the Salt Lake City suburbs, we have the puzzle pieces available to make ourselves into something we can be proud of. And whether we're going to be able to say by the end of 2013 that we just lived our best year depends entirely on what we decide to do be during it.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

Last Friday's Pictures and Distractions post was supposed to be the last one ever, what with the world ending and all. I'm happy to report that the world did not end, however. I know you were all waiting on pins and needles to hear it officially from me.

This was a good week. Except that, this was supposed to be the week that I started getting up at 6:00 AM to go running. Instead, the following conversation happened every single morning when Daniel came into my bedroom to wake me up:

Daniel: Hey, it's time t--


Well. There's always next week.

Opening a Christmas gift from Anna on Christmas Eve.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Good morning, dear strangers. A while back I decided it was time to stick an FAQs section on Stranger. So I'm finally doing that. You can find the tab above. I know. It's like I'm trying to set a world record on having the most tabs possible. I have also included the FAQs in this post, for the truly lazy. I receive quite a few emails and comments on blog posts (which I love reading) and many of them ask a lot of the same questions. Since I don't want you to spend all your time asking these kinds of things and not have enough time to write about your Queen of Colors sighting, I post the answers conveniently for you here.

Q: What the crap did I just read?

A: I started this blog in 2007 on a whim. I gave the title no thought, and probably would pick a different one if I could go back. Before I started blogging, I was writing about the strange experiences I was having and emailing them to members of my family almost daily. Then I heard about blogging (I'm always about 10 years behind on all things) and it seemed like a more practical way to share stories and archive them than through the hotmail account I had created when I was 16. So one Saturday morning I up and created this blog and it has largely remained what it was in the very beginning: an exaggerated account of my daily life. The good, the bad, and the Queen of Colors. Only, hopefully, now the spelling and grammar is a little better.

I Don't Hate Christmas

Christmas came and went. And guys, I have a huge announcement to make.

I think I like Christmas.

I know. How could somebody not like Christmas. It's like saying you hate Paul Simon or happiness. Which is different than saying you hate Glee, by the way. Glee is a terrible television program. They named it Glee because they thought we wouldn't be brave enough to say that we hate "Glee." I'm all about lower-case glee. But upper-case "Glee?" Most horrific awful thing to plague the Earth. Besides snakes.

So, back to Christmas.

For the past 10 years or so, I've basically been living the first three-quarters of the movies Home Alone and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Also A Christmas Carol. But with fewer ghosts.

Year after year, I told myself repeatedly that I didn't like Christmas. This, Cathie has taken personally every year. (She sincerely believes that she invented Christmas. She even dressed up as Santa Clause this year to cause her grandchildren to question everything they've ever learned about life spread Christmas cheer to the children).

This picture was sent to me this morning by my sister Krishelle. All the email said was, "oh dear. She says this is going to be a new family tradition." I'm just happy my mother is showing my nieces that they can be whatever they want when they grow up. Even a man with a beard. If that's their thing.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

Happy Friday, dear strangers. I hope you survive the ending of the world. Merry Christmas from Palau.

Tree discovered on a Saturday drive.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Yahoo! Answers VI

You seemed bored, so I thought I would post some more Yahoo! Answers questions for you. But before I get to that, I thought I would share a couple of pictures from a Ragnar team who ran recently with some custom made zebra print Snuggies, embroidered with a classy "3+3=furrrever" (there were apparently 6 of them total). Thanks Kelly, Megan, and others.

Question 1: Are cat feces REALLY good for your skin? I've always been told all of those stories about how good cat feces are for your skin but I've been applying them twice a day for 2 months and have seen no difference. I'm starting to wonder why I even got these cats in the first place. Am I doing this wrong? PLEASE don't tell me I have to ingest them again like I did for that detox treatment.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Lost in the Jungle

A whole bunch of things happened yesterday that probably all involved witchcraft and as a result, eventually Stranger was moved to what the kids call "its own domain." So they tell me now that you can access it by just going to And also, apparently, you can keep accessing it the same way you were accessing it by going to blogspot. It's all of the devil if you ask me.

My good friend Brian put me in touch with his good friend Ben who understands the Internets and who walked me through the process to make this transition possible. Every time I got a new email from him with words in it like "Cname" and "DNS manager" I immediately screamed, pepper sprayed my computer screen, and said 60 Hail Marys.

But I'm told being on my own domain is a good thing. So after I sold my soul to the devil, I spent part of my evening clicking on things and then screaming every time a change was saved, sure that I had just deleted Stranger and started a panic on Wall Street. I'm told that I don't have that much power. But in a world where I can type something into a computer in Palau that you can immediately read in North Dakota (sorry about living in North Dakota, by the way), I will not accept that I have no power to accidentally blow up a country.

In any event, it all seemed to work out. Thanks Ben, wherever you are. You're the wind beneath my wings. As a thank you, I had Bette Midler perform this song for you in the '80s.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Grandma Georgia Emails

Today's edition of the Jolyn files is a very dramatic email chain she started under the Alias "Grandma Georgia" last December. I had received a number of very odd emails already (mostly from Jolyn) to the Stranger email account and was having a hard time knowing how to handle them. Jolyn didn't confess that she was Grandma Georgia all along until right before I moved to Palau in October. For about 9 months I felt anxiety over how this all turned out.

There are a few different people emailing back and forth in this chain, since I repeatedly asked Jolyn and Jen for advice on how to respond to Grandma Georgia. So pay attention to the "From" and "To" on the email headers.

From: Georgia
To: Eli (Stranger Account)
Subject: Granddaughter Alice

Hi Eli,

I'm writing on behalf of my lovely granddaughter, Alice. She has been on your fan band wagon for a few weeks and follows your blog and the comments religiously. She has been wanting to email and start a conversation with you but she's just too shy and usually only talks to me or her cat. But I say there's no time like the present! So I decided to go ahead and do it for her!
She's a sweet girl. She's 18, studying English at UCLA, loves literature and writing poetry. She has quite a good eye for good writing (take that as a compliment!). She's quiet, but definitely opinionated. And is a fantastic bowler! I know she would love to go out with you, maybe a friendly bowl and some ice cream. If you're interested you can call her at 801-372-0711. I'll tell her I sent you her number so she should be expecting your call!

Kindest Regards,


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Gang Fight

Happy Monday, dear strangers. I hope you all had a magical weekend in unicorn proportions, and yet still had a chance to feel heart-broken over some of the terrible things that happened during it. Feeling heart-broken is good, sometimes. It means you're alive and still have the ability to care.

Ok, so the elephant in the room. I know I've written about loneliness a couple of times now. And those posts basically seemed like a cry for help. And I know exactly what you all pictured when you read them.

Eli McCann, sitting in a dark room, his 47-53 cats walking all around him, meowing, while he listens to the Wilson Phillips' hit single "Hold On," crying.

Totally inaccurate though. I don't even have a copy of "Hold On." I don't need it. It's written on my heart (picture me dancing right now).

A whole bunch of you left comments and sent emails to let me know that you all totally have my back. But probably not in the gang way. Like, you support me and love me, but if I got attacked by another gang, you would probably all just run away. And that's cool. I would do the same if you got attacked by a gang. And, for all I know, I might even divert all the attention onto you by pointing in your direction and saying "this guy has been calling you guys fat ALL DAY!" just to make sure I'm not targeted.

I don't know. I've never been in a gang fight so it's hard to say how I might respond. I'm just assuming I would be a team player right up until there was any chance of getting shanked. Then I would immediately align myself with the majority and act like I had been there all along.

Unless you guys were just thinking that you would have my back even in a gang fight, in which case, yeah, totally. Me too.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

Another week has come to an end. Thanks for helping make it great. Happy weekend strangers. Try to enjoy it. Pull your pants on, get out there, and have a good one.

This week's pictures from my phone come from a recent trip to an incredible waterfall, just a few miles from where I live. In Palau, everything is just a few miles from where I live.

As for the distraction links of the week, you'll notice one of them is an article that has to do with a fox. I was trying to explain the story of the article to Daniel earlier today.

So there was this fox that was killed! And you won't believe how it happened! The wolf got into this . . .

Wait. A fox was killed or a wolf.

That's what I said!

No. Which is it? Was it a fox or a wolf?

They're the same thing, Daniel. [Said as though Daniel is an idiot]

Do you seriously not know the difference between a fox and a wolf?

Um . . . of course I do . . . one has fox parts and the other . . . looks like a fox, too.

How do you not know the difference?! You are a grown man!


Old mining tracks in the jungle. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Cat Birthday

I mentioned yesterday in the Snuggie Texts anniversary post that Jolyn, my friend who helps me with the blog, has frequently targeted me in some terribly mean pranks. Me. Innocent, little old me. Naturally, several of you demanded that I post the results of some of those pranks. Ok, you twisted my arm. I'll start with the most recent one.

Living in Palau, I am in a very different time zone than the vast majority of you. What this means is that by the time I get up in the morning, it's already the afternoon for most of you. Seizing this opportunity, one day last week Jolyn waited until it was late enough in Palau that I was probably in bed, signed into the Facebook "It Just Gets Stranger" account, and posted this on the Stranger page (as me):

Happy Birthday to me today! 87 years old--still feeling young. For presents, please send me pictures of your cats (in costumes preferably) or your feet to You, dear strangers, are the best.

By the time I got into work, I already had over 50 emails with pictures of cats and feet. I was so confused. And then I saw the post. I tried quickly to right the wrong by posting again on the Facebook wall that it was NOT my birthday. But the cat photos kept rolling in.

I have been working on returning them to you guys, since it wasn't really my birthday. And it's just unfair for me to accept gifts from you when it isn't even my birthday.

Enjoy some of my favorites from the birthday week. Sorry if I didn't post yours. It's not because I didn't like it. It's just because I'm super lazy and the Internet is very slow down here in coconut land.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Snuggie Texts, One Year Later

One year ago today I posted Snuggie Texts.

I cannot believe it has already been a year. You people are getting old.

Over the past year, many of you have asked a lot of questions about that experience. How it happened. Who Jane is. What happened to her after Snuggie Texts. Etc.

I have answered so few of your questions and, frankly, never thought I would answer them. This was partly because of laziness but also, I was worried that if I talked too much about it, it might ruin the humor for some of you. Some friends who knew more about the story than I shared here were sure this wouldn't happen and encouraged me to appease the strangers of the world by discussing the experience a little more.

And what better way to do that than on the anniversary of Snuggie Texts? So, here it is.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Relationship Advice Emails

One stranger, Lauren, suggested that I email a relationship expert and seek some advice. I found one young guy with a blog in which he states that he is an expert on relationships. He provided his email for anyone who wanted to email him questions. I thought I would test the outer limits of his expertise. I'm sure I'll get what's coming to me one of these days. But until then, enjoy:

From: Peter Hansen
To: Jack
Subject: HELP!?! Relationship!?

I'm in a very unique relationship with someone who doesn't speak English (only understands it) and spends most of the day sleeping. Also, I don't think children will be possible for us and this bothers me. Could use some help if you would email me.

From: Jack
To: Peter Hansen
Subject: HELP!?! Relationship!?

Very interesting situation you have there. I am sure I can help. Can you give me some more information to aide in my advice?

Monday, December 10, 2012

I am an Island

You read this blog. Some of you, faithfully. And that's an incredibly fun and strange thing for me. And from time to time some of you have mentioned that you feel like you know me personally, just from reading all the nonsense I post. And I feel like I know you personally as well.

Well, not you you. But the collective "you."

You probably just read that part where I said that I know you personally in a creepy voice. So you got freaked out for a second, thinking that maybe I was stalking you. So I put in that part about the "collective you" to ease your concerns. And now you're back to thinking that I'm not stalking you. Which is putting you into a false sense of security, because I am stalking you.

Don't believe me? Turn around.

Ok, so I wasn't actually standing behind you. But imagine if I was. Pretty impressive, right?

Anyway, through my communication with the collective you, I feel like I know you. And I think about you whenever I'm writing something here.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Pictures From My Phone & Weekly Distractions

Another strange week has come and gone. I was thinking about how it has already been one year, to this month, that Snuggie Texts happened, the post through which most of you ended up finding Stranger. Many of you have asked a lot of questions over the last year and have hoped for more details about the circumstances surrounding Snuggie Texts as well as the aftermath. I decided a year ago that for many reasons I wouldn't entertain those conversations much, and so I haven't.

But after some push from several friends, I have decided that for the anniversary of Snuggie Texts, next week I will shed some light on the story. Why am I telling you this today? Two reasons: 1) So you'll get super excited and fail to accomplish anything this weekend, and 2) To ask you to please leave any questions or suggestions in the comments of this post about what, specifically, you would like me to address when talking about Snuggie Texts, including any questions you have about it, about the people it involved, etc.

Anyway, this week's edition of pictures from my phone is a special one. These shots were all taken in Guam where I basked in civilization for 4 days. I feel very self-centered posting several pictures of myself. But I guess that's what a single guy with a personal blog does.

Overjoyed to be standing in a Kmart. And that is a sentence I never thought I would write.

Cooking With The Kids

Last week, before going to Guam, we hosted a cooking night at our place for the church kids.

20-something hormonal teenagers showed up. 20-something.

Strangers, have you ever had 20-something hormonal teenagers all come to your house at once? By the end of the night, I felt like I had just done meth for 3 straight hours. Not that I know what that is, mom. But really, 20-something hormonal teenagers, all crammed together and screaming for attention. The night was exactly like an episode of iCarly. Not that I know what that is, everyone else.

We were in charge of getting the boys to prepare some kind of elaborate dish in the kitchen while the girls stayed mostly in the front room putting together appetizers and desserts. Initially the leader over the girls offered to have them prepare the entire meal themselves, but the feminist in me protested this. And then vowed to teach the girls how to fix cars if I ever learned how myself. And then scolded me for assuming they don't already know how to fix cars just because they're girls. And then vowed to ask the girls to teach me to fix the cars.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Yahoo! Answers V

Guys, Yahoo! Answers is finally on to me. I have gotten several emails from them telling me that I have lost "points" for the questions I have asked. They have also started deleting some of them. Apparently someone has started reporting me. I'm sorry that I have some unique concerns about how to make my cats more comfortable at home. Geeze.

Anyway, here's today's batch. I may have to get a new yahoo! I.D. soon. Qofcolors@yahoo isn't going to hold up for much longer.

Question 1: How do you sew your cats together? I've always wanted Siamese cats but I've never had two that I thought would go well together until recently. I would like to attach them to each other but I don't know the first thing about how to do it. Can it be done at home? Is it expensive to have a vet do it?

Typhoon Aftermath

Hello, strangers. First of all, in case you missed the word, I have decided to try what the kids are calling "Twitter." This is something that happens on the Internets and apparently gives me yet another outlet to over-share about my life and tell you exactly what I'm doing at all times. I have already received 5 emails from a friend who insists that I'm doing it wrong. It's been a rough go so far. But if you feel so inclined, please join the crew over there. You are also welcome to like Stranger on Facebook as well, which is somehow different than Twitter. Or so I'm told.

Our plane landed on the big island in Palau last night a little after midnight. This was after a few other horrific customer service experiences with United Airlines, the details of which I won't bore you with you now. Rest assured, United Airlines is not interested in repeat customers in this part of the world.

To get home from the airport, we have to drive across a couple of different islands. Fortunately since the typhoon mostly missed Palau, the bridges and causeways connecting the islands were basically unharmed. Yet, incredibly heavy winds and rains still plowed through the country and left a mark.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Stuck in Guam

I’m stuck in the airport in Guam now because of the typhoon that was supposed to wipe Palau off the map today. Apparently Mr. Typhoon skipped on by and didn’t do much damage. Yet my flight was still delayed for 3 or 4 hours for reasons that still aren’t exactly clear to me. They probably aren’t clear because of the incredibly unhelpful United Airway representative that checked us in.

Hmm.  Looks like your flight is delayed 3 or 4 hours.

Oh shoot. Did it get delayed just now?

No. It was delayed earlier today.

That’s interesting because I have been trying to call you all day to find out whether my flight would be delayed and I just kept getting routed to an automated system that swore the flight was scheduled on-time.

Well it’s now leaving 4 hours late.