Wednesday, August 31, 2005

CUBS WIN! CUBS WIN! CUBS WIN!!!

Yesterday I took the day off work to bum around town with My Friend the Novelist and her husband, who have been my first official houseguests to use the new folding couch in the office. They said it was fab. We got a late start on the day, so as to enable much sleeping in. There was much rejoicing. Did brunch up at Kitch’n (near the GF’s place) and then hopped on the el for the trip down into the city.

First stop, Millennium Park. Not only because it’s neat-o, but also because they have finally uncovered The Bean after working on polishing away the weld seams on the outside. Now it’s as smooth as a mirror and reflects the city skyline in all sorts of weird twisty ways. Any visitors staying at my place in the future may very well be forced to go there, just because of the neat-o-ness. After the Park, we walked up to Navy Pier, which was a longer walk than I thought it would be, and involved much exploring of new areas of the city, including the city industrial parking lot where they take car wrecks from accidents. When we got to the Pier we reveled in its tourist-trap trappings, including the Ferris Wheel (big, but you only go around once, and for $5.50, I expect at least three times), the Smith Museum of Stained Glass (totally bigger now than it was even a year ago), and a bookstore that had one of my friend’s books on the shelf (which she signed).

After much exploring and walking, we headed back to the house to put on our regalia for the Cubs/Dodgers game last night. My friend the novelist and I are Cubs fans, whereas the husband (who I’ll call Mr. Tall) grew up as a Dodgers fan. So with Mr. Tall in his Dodgers jersey, and Novelist & myself in our Cubs gear, we headed out for
Murphys for the pre-game beer. Then, on our way from Murphys to Wrigley Field, we run into Tommy Lasorda walking the other direction! He saw Mr. Tall’s jersey and commented “Nice shirt”. Mr. Tall was flattered, and shook hands with Tommy before he walked off surrounded by a very small entourage. Totally cool.

The game itself was way fun. I got my hot dog, peanuts, cracker jack and beer dinner in (and all by the 4th inning!) and enjoyed the Cubs as they rallied from 2 runs down to pull off the win 6-3. We celebrated by heading over to meet up with the GF at a bar near her place for a final round before heading off home to sleep. A totally great day!

Monday, August 29, 2005

Today's real post

As many of you who are aware of my vast medical pseudo knowledge can attest, I’m all in favor of medical advances (yes TOWWAS, I’m writing about medicine again). All my life I’ve been fascinated by drugs and what they can do. So when I read an article in today’s Wall Street Journal about a new drug to help kids hypertension I was more interested than most folks. But when I read it, I noticed that the drug is essentially the same active ingredient as in Viagra, just “dialed down” to a lower-level than the famous blue diamond lucky charm.

Am I the only one who realizes the consequences of this development? If this is meant to treat kids between 5 and 18, have they really considered the possible effects on boys in that segment? As a former 13 year old boy, I can say definitively that the last thing I needed in life was something that might assist the formation of spontaneous erections in math class. Women don’t understand the massive effort it takes for a adolescent guy to avoid all the regular stimulation in the room just from the other girls in class, and god help you if you have a student teacher like mine in 6th grade. Adding “Viagra Lite” to this equation is the equivalent to swapping out your regular 7th grade English teacher with Jeri Ryan from Boston Public and making her teach English in full Catwoman regalia.

I don’t care how much you lower the dosage, the male organ at age 13-14 will just use it as an excuse to ramp up its master plan to ruin your social life and make you fear women before you start high school. If we start handing that we’ll only see more young men unwilling to leave their desks to write answers on the chalkboard, refusing to dance with women at junior high dances (and all you girls through it was because we didn’t like dancing), and buying baggy pants. God, it’ll spell the early resurgence of the “baggy-pants” look all over again! Oh, the horror…the horror…

Quickie



Hello, Kelly Clarkson?

Yeah, Avril Lavigne called. She wants her schtick back.


Friday, August 26, 2005

Everybody's homeowners insurance rates would drop too!

Ahh, hurricane season. Six months of low-level meteorologists cheating death at the beach, massive gas price swings, runs on plywood sheeting, and opportunities for news headlines that give copywriters wet dreams. Week after week, we see the horrific devastation caused by these storms, and are treated to heart-rending pictures of families surrounded by their leveled homes.

I know it may seem a little callous, but am I the only one who doesn’t really feel all that sorry for these people? Hurricanes happen, and everyone knows that they happen all the time in Florida. Frankly, I think that hurricanes are God’s way of telling people that we shouldn’t be living in Florida – that it was originally intended to be a giant swamp and home for retired manatees. If they didn’t lack opposable thumbs, I would spread word that hurricanes were actually caused by evil manatee mad scientists. It’s entirely plausible, working in secret underwater lairs in their white coats and horn-rimmed manatee spectacles that they have devised a machine used to generate massive low-pressure centers – built entirely of mangrove roots and held together by their own poo. But, since they don’t have opposable thumbs, I have to assume it’s God – or, to be politically correct, some unnamed higher power practicing what I like to call “intelligent eviction”.


So, why don’t we just solve this problem and move everybody out of Florida? Turn the entire state into a giant wilderness where crocodiles can form their own democracy under the “one bite, one vote” doctrine. Resettle the former Floridians in the sparsely populated areas of North Dakota, Kansas, Alaska, and the Oklahoma Panhandle where they will provide a much-needed boost to the labor force, and the job market too since we’ll have to move Disney World there. Then everybody wins! The gators get their own country, rural America will be revitalized, God stops trying to exterminate everybody, and nobody worries about Florida screwing up the next presidential election for everyone! Wow, this idea sounds better and better…

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Boobs will cause the fall of western civilization

Look how low the supposed standard of American journalism has fallen. I don’t know whom I care less about – the people buying the clothes or the designers. Apparently, it’s a big problem, but I fail to see how anybody at the Times would have actually chosen this as a story to pursue.

Editor: Hmmm…what’s going on today? Starvation in Niger…Iraq mess…Supreme Court hearings coming up…bah. It’s all been done Johnson!

Toadie: Yes sir!

Editor: If only there was something our readership could all get behind. Something that would speak to the masses! Some great sea-change in society that will really get people up in arms…wait a minute. I know! Boobs! We’ll write a story about how massive boobs are ruining the designer dress industry!

Toadie #2: [Bursting into the room] Sir, another attractive white
girl has gone missing!*

Editor: GREAT! Run that on page 1 above the fold! Bump the boob story to page 7 or something…

Since when did J.J Jameson become editor of the New York Times? The really sad thing though is that they assigned a guy to write the story. Hopefully he’s outrageously gay, otherwise I’d feel sorry for him having to go up to women and interview them about how it’s so hard having unnaturally large breasts without coming across as a complete perv. “But, I’m a writer for the New York Times! I’m researching a story!” he’d say. To which they would respond “Sure you are, freak. Now stop following me! SECURITY!!!” At least if he were completely flaming he wouldn’t attract the wrong sort of attention.

In any event, who am I supposed to sympathize with in this story? The shallow, self-absorbed women with their unnatural F-cups or the obscenely rich designers who (from what I can tell after watching a few hours of E! during fashion week) are completely arrogant twits. I think instead I’ll feel sorry for the sales guy in the store, who has to convince Barbie Jr. that she needs to buy a size 12 dress in order to keep the girls under control and then spend another grand or two getting it altered. Yeah, that conversation would go over about as well as the doctor telling his fat patient to lose weight.

*Relax, worried readers. I’ve since learned she has been found safe.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Hello, I don't know you, please don't tell me your name

I started off today full of bile and crankiness after reading the latest salvos from the “Hey, we’re morons” camp. You know of what I speak – the Kevin Trudeau book, Pat Robinson’s latest gaffe, Intelligent design. But eventually, I got tired of ranting and gave up, figuring nobody wants to read me yelling at idiots, because idiots don’t read my blog anyway. In fact only brilliant, funny, and dazzlingly good looking people read my blog, and all of them probably don’t feel all that different than I do about the moronization of America. So, instead I’m changing topics to something I’ve noticed around the office lately – greeting strangers.

I work in a pretty big office environment, where I’m fortunate enough to know many people. Of course, I also am complete strangers with even more people, because I simply don’t interact with enough people on a regular basis to learn everybody’s names and what they do. After all, I have to keep doggedly pursuing my quest to find the latest and greatest in door hardware technology.

But there are certain people that I work near, who I see on a regular basis. Not enough to actually talk to them, but enough to recognize them. And since I don’t know their names, I find myself at a loss for words when I pass them in the halls. I don’t feel close enough to them to say hello, nor so I have the time to introduce myself and have a long conversation. But I want to at least acknowledge their existence. I also believe they want to do the same with me. So I’ve developed what I call the “Grimace Greeting” – where each person sort of purses their lips and nods as a way of saying “Hey, I see you there and know that we work somewhat nearby each other – I recognize our shared existence.” This greeting then allows me to be somewhat social with those people that don’t quite deserve the “Smile Greeting” but who are above the level of “Complete Indifference”. I’m sure I didn’t invent it, because everyone I give it to returns the Grimace Greeting as though they totally understand the intent.

If I didn’t invent it though, I want credit for naming it. Does this sort of thing happen anywhere else? Or is it specific to my weird workplace? How do you greet strangers that you see on a regular basis but never talk to?

Monday, August 22, 2005

Man's inhumanity to ducks - Who foots the bill?

This thing with the ducks in San Francisco is getting ridiculous. Now, I agree that whoever ran over the ducks is a seriously f’ed up individual, and I agree that he should be arrested and brought up on animal cruelty charges. And while serving his sentence, I agree that he should go through some sort of therapy to address his problem. There is no question that he has serious issues; stemming probably from either an unfortunate petting-zoo-related incident in childhood or the fact that he lost his job to all the cheap illegal immigrant duck labor flooding into urban areas from rural areas or China. Who knows? Maybe he thought they were carrying bird flu…or maybe they actually were carrying bird flu! What if he overheard some secret duck meeting, or was mistakenly sent one of their conspiratorial emails where they were plotting to spread it to children through America’s network of car washes? Now who’s the earthly manifestation of evil?

What irritates me a little about the whole thing through is this $14,000 that has been raised as a reward to find the killer. Honestly, people – is this the cause that got you to get off your butt and pull out the checkbook in the name of charitable giving? All the starving kids in Sudan and Niger didn’t do it? Homeless people on the streets of your own city not an obvious enough sign that people might need some help out there? How about a little perspective, folks? Please? How about turning off the 24-hour coverage of the latest missing pretty white girl and remembering that as unfortunate as it is, and as screwed up as that guy is, there are bigger problems that humanity is trying to deal with at the moment.


Okay, stepping down off the soapbox now…

Friday, August 19, 2005

The white eyes mean they haven't had their picture taken with a flash

Sorry for missing yesterday. I’ve been all discombobulated for the last couple days. I had a rash of headaches since Wednesday which I’ve been trying to slough off by getting more sleep. The nice thing about this is that I’ve been getting much more sleep than usual, but the bad thing is that now my circadian rhythm is all screwed up. I have no idea what days it is anymore, it feels like it should be Tuesday of next week.

Speaking of circadian rhythms (well, not exactly, but I’m trying to craft a segue here) it’s the middle of cicada season around the Midwest, as we all walk out of work in the afternoon to the insanely loud droning sounds of these crazy insects who have until only recently spent their lives sucking tree juice from roots. Now, these are different from the big cicada emergence that everyone writes about – those cicadas have red eyes and only emerge once every 14 years. These ones look pretty much the same but their eyes are white and they come out every year. They are still loud though.

My quest, ever since I was a young boy was to try and see one while it was calling. This is much more difficult than one would imagine because the sound they make sounds like it is coming from all directions, making it hard to locate them. Plus, as you approach, they shut up and wait for you to leave - much like a difficult teenager. But my quest was finally realized this week when I saw one on my way out from work, flying from one shrub to another. It was big and flew very loudly. I like to think that we became friends, since he didn’t fly right into me or attack me with his tenacious little teeth and claws. But after a few seconds he flew away and up into the shrub where he soon started screaming “MATE WITH ME!!!!!!!!!! I’M RIGHT HERE!!!! SEXY ARTHROPODIC LOVE MACHINE!!!!!! I’M HUNG LIKE A SQUIRREL!!!!!!”. Of course, he said it in circada-ese, which sounded more like “EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
EEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Feeling satisfied, I went home, where the next day I saw another cicada sitting on the steps outside my back door. 30 years of hiding in the shadows and now I’m seeing them everywhere. I think they’re following me…

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Is it an open bar or a cash bar?

Scientists have recently announced the discovery of a "bar" radiating through the center of the Milky Way Galaxy that is the largest in existence at over 27,000 light years in length. I can only think of how this story is being received in the various niche communities throughout the world. I particularly appreciate how they show where "the sun" is on the map, which helps give a sense of perspective as well as showing me where to look.

Now, here are my top 3 stories for the next month or so, as the implications of this discovery become known.

1. (August 23rd) - "The annual meeting of the Mid-West Fastener Association collapsed into a shouting match this week during the chairman's keynote address. In his speech, Herb Screwmall (CEO of Pop-A-Cap Screw Ltd in Compton, CA) declared that God had signaled his preference for Standard-head fasteners over the arch-rival Phillips-head. "You can see it from space," he stated, "we live in a Standard-head galaxy, who can deny it?" Opponents from the Phillips-Head camp boisterously countered that Jesus died on a Cross, and therefore the cross-shaped Phillips-head fasteners must be the preferred screw head for fundamentalist Christians carpenters. The world's most famous carpenter himself had no comment, but sat in the back of the convention center shaking his head slowly.

2. (September 12th) - Alchoholics Anonymous chapters across the country are reporting a sharp decline in meeting attendance, as the discovery of a "27,000 light year long bar" in the center of the galaxy has caused heavy drinkers around the world to congregate just outside of Area 51 in New Mexico, trying to figure out ways to be kidnapped by aliens and taken away to this drinker's paradise. "I don't know how we're going to do it exactly, but we've been watching a lot of movies about aliens trying to figure out the best way to hitch a ride," said spokescartoon Barney Gumble. "So far we've ruled out the Contact method as too expensive, and the E.T. method because we can't find a cheap Speak-n-Spell on eBay. But we've rewired an old Simon game to do a pretty good approximation of the scene from Close Encounters, so if they ever fly within 10 feet of the camp we feel we've got a good shot."

3. (October 8th) - Flush with their success after the discovery of the "bar" in the center of the galaxy, scientists are hard at work searching for the "Galactic Baseball Card" believed to be positioned just above or below the bar, positioned to slap against the bar with each revolution, creating a simulated motor sound that makes our galaxy way cooler than other, less tricked-out galaxies. Astrophysicist and extreme sports hero Tony Hawk is leading the team running the search at the EXPN/MTV/Mountain Dew Center for Exxxtreeme Astromony at UCLA - "We've already figured out that the Milky Way has mag wheels, but finding the baseball card would be the cherry on top!" said Hawk. "We have narrowed down likely locations for the card, and are already theorizing who's card it is. Most likely it's a 1980 Joe Niekro card, but if it's a 1966 Nolan Ryan rookie people here are going to flip out - we're talking Nobel Prize here man."

Yahoops!

*

Wow! I didn't know that the pilot of the first atomic bomb mission was a homosexual! I always thought that they didn't allow gays in the mil...

...

...ooooohhhhhh. I see...

* At first I thought maybe the word "enola" was, like, a hip new code word to describe someone who was either really really gay or maybe "gay in uniform". Then I realized it was probably just a selection error on the part of the Yahoo algorithm. Then it just became funny.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Disney - Shattering Childhood Dreams since 1987!

It has recently come to my attention that Fergie (from Black Eyed Peas) used to be on Kids Incorporated back in the mid-late 80’s. For those of you unfamiliar with the show, it ran on the Disney Channel from about 86 through 92, and consisted of a Menudo-esque group of kids who were in a “rock band” where they covered pop hits of the day and generally engaged in typical after-school special plotlines involving peer pressure, smoking, and bullies. I was a huge fan of the show at the time, partly because I was twelve, and partly because I figured if those kids could be in a band, then heck, I could start a band and become world famous! It also helped that the girls in the band were total hotties, naturally.

So Disney had totally sucked me in with their cleverly-designed blend of teen-bop music, vanilla-dull plots, and two-dimentional characters – sucking me into hours of Disney-channel watching every week between KI, Donald Duck Presents (re-airings of old Mickey, Goofy, and Donald cartoons from the 40’s and 50’s before they all started trying to
break into hip-hop), and repeated showings of Dean Jones standards like Blackbeard’s Ghost and That Darn Cat!. In fact, I became such a huge fan of KI that they were the first show I ever wrote a fan letter to, where I confessed how much I loved the show and how I watched it every week. My dream was to get one of the auto-penned signed cast photographs that I had heard about.

But instead, I got nothing. Nada, Ziltch, Zero. No fan club package, no auto-penned cast picture, no t-shirt, no letter handwritten by Renee where she confessed her undying love for me and professed her desire to move to the Midwest and become my steady girl (Stacey would have been fine too). Needless to say, I was stunned that I had been so na├»ve. I had been suckered into an unhealthy obsession with Disney designed by the dark lord Eisner. I was filled with a righteous anger, and stopped watching the show immediately. At that point, Disney stopped airing all their old, awesome movies and started trying to be “cool” so I stopped watching the Disney Channel entirely a year or so later.

Anyway, returning to my original point, it is shocking that Stacey Ferguson is actually only slightly younger than I am, yet her fashion sense seems to be frozen in 1987:

"Old" Stacey



"New" Stacey

It is so weird to find out that the characters you most identified with in TV and movies of your youth are actually like 6 years older than you. And the characters you looked down upon as “little kids” are actually your age. It happened on KI with Renee being the one I was crushing on, and I thought Stacey was way younger than I was (like, probably 2 years). It also happened with Drew Barrymore in E.T. In both cases, these girls were totally my age at the time, but I was just in denial. Now that they are grownups, it seems like they are older than me (Stacey in particular looks OLD, must be all the drugs that the KI kids did backstage while partying with the Rolling Stones and Motley Crue).

I wonder if I look that old to them, and whether any of them actually ever read my letter to begin with.



Friday, August 12, 2005

Obviously, we'd be able to see their egret-rifles in winter, unless they wrapped them in toilet paper like the kids in Red Dawn

I was leaving work last night when I saw the familiar white body of an egret lying in the grass across the road into the parking lot from work. This should not have surprised me that much as we have a large wetland/retention pond just south of the company building where one would assume egrets would hang out, playing egret games and talking about egret politics. I was saddened that this one egret, who perhaps had just been elected as ambassador to humankind for all egretland. And as soon as he comes up the hill from the swamp to assume his office, bringing all sorts of opportunities for cultural exchange, he gets hit by a car driven by one of our employees on their way home at the end of the day.

I was saddened by the lost opportunity, but more worried that with our obvious assassination of their elected representative, the egret nation would declare war on us in general. Considering that winter was just around the corner, this would be particularly dangerous, since with their white plumage, they are capable of blending into a snowy background almost perfectly, until their targets are well in range of their razor-sharp bills and mad yellow eyes.


But then once I crossed the road I discovered that it was in fact not an egret, but rather a sandbag from the construction crews. So much for a war on extremist long-legged waterfowl, but I still pondered the implications of interspecies warfare all the way home. And I think the sandbag was looking at me funny...

On another note, the “email us” website of
BUPA International (a company that provides health insurance for expatriates) has quite possibly, the most comprehensive title listing I’ve ever seen. For example, it includes titles for “Viscountess”, “Master”, and “Brigadier”. However, it fails to include a mention of “President”. Therefore, I can only assume that they do not believe in democracy and freedom – and thusly are undoubtedly a terrorist organization. The fact that they also are missing the titles of “Radical Imam”, “Iron Sheik”, and “Glorious Martyr Who Shall Not Rest Until the Infidels Have Collapsed Under the Weight of their Own Decadence” is obviously a weak attempt to hide their true intentions of spreading their evil-doer ways across the cyber-world.

Don’t worry however, I’ve already notified the president and have been assured that we will be invading the BUPA website as soon as we figure out a way to turn marines into a series of ones and zeros.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Next time, I'm gonna re-grind my tranny. Whatever that means.

I have been driving cars for half of my entire life, yet I have almost no knowledge of how to repair them. In a way, I suppose that I long for the days when it was possible for a guy to change his own oil, filters, and repair carburetors and whatnot in his own garage. But these days, cars are so obtusely electrified and computerized that I’m afraid of doing anything other than swapping my summer tires out in the fall. I know that this is an illogical fear, and that I’m smart enough to figure out most things, but it’s just the fear of the unknown and the associated knowledge that anything I screw up severely will cost an arm and a leg to fix at the shop.

So this morning when I got into my car to go to work and the starter wouldn’t even turn over, I was somewhat chagrined. It was my moment of truth. All my talk about being a bright person who could “figure out” how to fix a car in an emergency and now the car gods had decided to make me prove myself in their eyes. And me without my peyote…

I first consulted the owner’s manual which was very helpful. The solution to all my problems was “Consult your local dealer”. Seriously. Apparently, the car company has decided that everyone who buys their cars are too stupid to know how to do things like change air filters, oil, brake fluid, and batteries. Another example – they instruct owners not to “soak their air filters in gasoline, benzene, or other hazardous cleaners which may cause explosions”. Really? So much for my “In-Car Huff-o-Matic” for “today’s juvenile delinquent on the go” that I was developing to bring to market.

With the manual being about as helpful as an overripe tomato, I called my local dealer and shockingly* I got my service guy on the phone on the second ring. He proceeded to tell me that it may be the battery (my suspicion all along), or the alternator, or the starter, or the flux capacitor, and so on and so on, as he rattled off a list of increasingly more expensive-to-fix things. Visions began dancing in his head of a new Vespa scooter, or a new sport bike, or a Harley Davidson, or a Corvette, or a Bentley…

Once I got off the phone with the dealer, I figured I’d try to replace the battery myself, since I was only about a half-mile from a Pep-Boys. I called them to make sure they had a replacement battery for my car in stock (which they did) and then proceeded to figure out how to extricate the battery from it’s little S&M harness. First I had to remove the shroud covering the battery, and then detach the strap holding it down. Once that was done, I loosened the cable connections from the terminals and pulled out the battery, the thrill of testosterone-laced victory hot in my nostrils…

…but the battery didn’t come out. It sat there, locked tightly in place by some unseen force. This was aggravating. I had no idea if it was just stuck with some loose oil or grime or something or if there was a mysterious “invisible bolt” holding it down. Somewhere, I could hear my dealer laughing insanely at my plight while trying to decide between the 36’ and 48’ yachts.

That’s when I decided to swallow my pride and call my dealer again. Naturally, he was screening calls at this point, so I did was any person would do in the kind of unhealthy, abusive, dysfunctional relationship I have with my dealer – I called my ex-dealer. Fred
Baker Porsche Audi in Bedford Ohio is the single greatest car dealership on earth. They were always nice and their shop guys never fixed something that didn’t need fixing. If I ever got another Audi, I’d drive out there to do it. And as usual, Mike not only confirmed that my problem was the battery, but he also told me where to find the hidden bracket that was holding the battery in place. Thanks Mike!

Once I got the battery out, I put it in four plastic grocery bags and then slid it into my old college backpack, which was about the perfect size to hold it. Still, batteries are heavy! It must have been about 20-25 pounds or so. Once I strapped it on my back, I made for Pep Boys. Since I had a bit of time on my hands, I proceeded to make a bunch of phone calls to friends and family that I haven’t talked to in a while and that would be up at that hour. It took me about an hour to walk there, pick up the new battery, drop off the old one, and head back home. And it was raining the whole time, but I had my ginormous umbrella, so I didn’t mind since the rain was cooling off the atmosphere from the 100 degree days we’ve been having lately.

Once I got home, I installed the battery in the holder, re-tightened the invisible bolt, reattached the leads, and tried to start the car, all my hopes and dreams contained in this brief few seconds, which would either validate me as a man or reduce me to a quivering mound of emasculated pseudo man-jelly.

But lo and behold my engine roared to live almost immediately! I felt like a new man, similar to what I believe young caveman boys must have felt like when they brought down their first mammoth or giant sloth. I did a little dance, but refrained from re-enacting the victorious hunt around a giant campfire a la Kevin Costner in Dances with Wolves. Because that would have just been silly.

* My dealer is notorious for never answering the phone, but instead screening all their calls to voice mail and then never calling back. It’s like a dull and unattractive “Rules Girl” who’s worried that every phone call is a stalker so they refuse to pick up the phone and then never call anyone back because it’s “the rules”.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

As american as mom, apple pie, and blithering idiocy!

I love urban legends. They are just so fascinating, not even just in themselves but in how otherwise reasonable intelligent people keep falling for them, despite the fact that they are so obviously made up. To that end, I’ve been a regular reader of snopes.com for a while now (and the GF has totally hooked me on Mythbusters). One of the funnier postings on snopes recently is a collection of emails they have received that are either too vague or too ridiculous to warrant any attention. Here are some of my favorites from that list, along with possible backstories that I’ve added purely for humorous effect:


"HOW CAN I GET THE SUCTION BROKE WHEN THE CONTACT IS STUCK TO EYE"

  • I can picture it now…”AAAUUGGHH!!! IT WON”T COME OFF! IT’S PULLING MY EYE OUT!! SOMEBODY GET A CROWBAR!!!!”

"Hi, I just wanted to ask if you could investigate this urban legend. 16 is the age of consent for having sex with someone over 18."

  • Signed Billy, c/o Neverland Ranch, Santa Barbara CA*

"A friend of mine asked me if I've ever hear of invisible witches or ghosts that suck the blood out of a person's arm while they are sleeping. Apparently, she saw "marks" on her boyfriend's arm and this was the story that he told her."

  • Yeah… “a friend of mine” indeed. Does your boyfriend look like a fashion model? It’s called heroin kiddo. Or, possibly, a "tattoo".

"how much would a penguin egg cost to buy and ship to texas email me as soon as you get the answer to this question bcuz i would like to buy a penguin egg so please email me asap!!!"

  • Anyone want to bet that someone saw “March of the Penguins” recently?

"Can you give me ANY statistics about urban legends on the internet? Anything!!! My speech is due monday and I have to have a few statistics in it."

  • I can help you out friend. Urban legends…there are LOTS of them. In fact over 90% of internet users have been exposed to them either intentionally or through the negligent actions of their friends and family. 100% of urban legends have no basis in reality. Yet they are quoted as fact by over 1 in four high school sophomores looking for last-minute desperation supporting statistics for their social studies speech on Technology’s Impact on High School Research. Only 1 in 100 such students pass said class; of the remaining students: 59 become full-time McDonalds employees, 16 live with their parents until their 40s, and the remainder become professional surfers, a la Jeff Spicoli.

Nothing like a little slice of the American intellectual debate to get me feeling better about myself. It’s amazing what things like this do for my self-esteem. I haven’t felt this smart since Q101 stopped broadcasting Love Line.

* I know, low blow by me, but come on - this quote was *asking* for it!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Pondering the future

There once was a time when I was the king of the techno-uber geeks. I was an early adopter in every sense of the word when it came to all things technological. Always had the latest in computers, PDAs, fun computer games, you name it. I was master of my technological domain and I knew it. I walked with a confident swagger of a man who had beaten dozens of Nintendo NES games – from Metroid to Life Force to both Tecmo Bowl editions.

Yet, something has been happening in the last 10 years that I can’t quite define, but the end result is I’m becoming more and more luddite as I age. Or maybe it’s just that my passion for technology has leveled off in the late ‘90s level of gadgetry. I still love web surfing, email, and playing my NES (I can still dominate a Tecmo Bowl season from start to finish) and Civilization. However, most of the stuff coming out these days doesn’t interest me. All the first person-shooter games bore me, I have no interest in instant messaging or text messaging, and I rarely use my cell phone for anything other than placing or receiving calls.

While this may seem innocuous enough, this is an ominous trend. What if I never evolve past 1990’s technology? What if I never get into the Cy-borg hipster movement when it hits in the 2010’s? What if I don’t have my consciousness transferred onto a computer chip before I’m 90? Will I become a mid-21st century equivalent of the Amish? Will I refuse to let people take holo-replicas if my face for fear it will “steal my soul”? I can see myself living in a cave in the woods with my cable modem, emailing on my desktop computer, using my Palm Pilot to keep names and contact info, listening to my iPod and driving to the grocery store while the rest of the world lives in bubbles under the ocean with their 4th-Gen wi-fi networks beaming information from the web directly into their brains and running down to the local Wal-Earth in their flying cars to buy sanitized (“guaranteed mad-cow free”) meat paste in tubes.

Yeesh…maybe this isn’t a bad thing.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Even Aquaman would be cooler than me

For someone who enjoys music as much as I do, I pay no attention whatsoever to lyrics. People will go on and on about how a the words of a particular song inspired them or moved them to some deep emotional catharsis but I just don’t get it. It’s been this way for as long as I have paid attention to music, with one rare exception. When I was in elementary school, my brother and I used to team up with the kids of friends’ of my parents and put on lip synched stage shows. Performing elaborately staged spectacles the likes of which were never seen in Morris, MN. Apparently, my brother and I started doing these shows by ourselves, but me being the natural leader that I was (read: bossy) lil’ brobear soon grew tired of always doing my bidding and sought a place in the technical crew. This forced me to enlist my dad’s friends’ kids, and we would rehearse all day down in their basement, followed by a single night concert – usually after dinner.

As the leader, I was lead singer (“syncher”?) and played stick horse (which looked like a bass guitar). The older brother friends’ kid Josh played “alto guitar”, the middle friends’ kid aaron played “tenor guitar” (we didn’t really know the difference between lead and rhythm guitar yet, so we based it on the only instrument we knew at the time – saxophone – since Josh played it in band). The youngest brother was typically barred from the group because he was whiny and annoying, but if we needed a drummer for a particular set, he could usually be relied on to not get us into trouble. Lil’ brobear was the lighting and sound guy – working all day to create these tremendously elaborate lighting systems made of flashlights (for spotlights), emergency hazard road lights and xmas lights (for mood and special effects). The setlists varied from show to show, but usually involved the big name hitmakers of the day: Phil Collins, Lionel Richie, and The Chipmunks.

My point in all this is that for some reason all these concerts developed my ability to pick up lyrics completely subconsciously. It’s is both a blessing and a curse, because I have no control over which lyrics flow in one ear and out the other and which ones become lodged in my head for the rest of time. This was no more clearly demonstrated than when driving around with the GF last night; “When I’m with You” by Sheriff came on the radio – and I proceeded to lip synch every single word flawlessly with no conscious thought about it on my part. The GF was deeply disturbed, she tried to hide it but I think she probably knows what she’s gotten herself into by this point. The fact that she didn’t immediately leap from the car and into oncoming traffic bodes well. I just don’t know how I’ll explain it when I completely fail to identify lyric-related trivial pursuit questions in a team game.

GF: “Wait a minute, what do you mean you don’t know the lyrics to ‘Like a Rolling Stone’? You know the words to Sheriff, but not Bob Dylan?"
GB: “But sweetheart, nobody knows the lyrics to Bob Dylan songs – there are no d
istinguishable words, it’s just a melodic phonics lesson!”

If this is my superpower I'll never get into the Justice League...

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Maybe they could have Xhibit "Pimp My Shuttle"

One successfully completed spacewalk down, one to go. Here’s my question - when did flying the space shuttle become the aerospace equivalent of driving a 1983 Ford Escort? I mean with all the en-route repairs, it’s starting to seem very similar to all the various slapdash repairs I used to have to make on my car anytime I took it on a drive. Adding oil, removing rusted out heat shields from the exhaust system, fixing flat tires…it never stopped. But the thing still kept on running.

But I remember being younger and thinking that the shuttle must be the most technologically advanced piece of machinery ever built, and that after every mission they must replace every part that is even remotely close to breaking or failing. I mean, it goes into space – and I’d seen Spacecamp, so I knew everything that was involved with the machine and how it runs (“Thermal curtain failure = Max in space!”).


I guess that the space shuttle is no different from my dad’s 1987 Civic, which started out life as “the car we couldn’t eat or drink in”. It was washed and waxed in the driveway every week, vacuumed regularly, and treated to various upholstery and vinyl protectants to ensure the long life of the car and prolong the “new car smell”. But, over time as the car (and dad) got older things started to slip. Until by the time I was old enough to drive it had become “the car that we’ll teach Jason to drive a stick shift in”. It still ran well until its death due to a broken axle in the late 1990’s.

Thus it’s kind of sad for me to see the space shuttle relegated to the same level as my dad’s Civic. I’m not worried about it yet however. I won’t start worrying until they have replaced one of the windows with a garbage bag or covered one of the OMS thrusters with red cellophane. At that point maybe I’ll refuse when NASA calls me to accept my offer to become the first child astronaut that I sent them in 1985.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

I wonder why women don't post pictures of the good-looking guys in the audience?

The best thing about August is the start of football training camps. Of course, there are other good things (the countdown to the end of 90 degree weather, for one) but I also enjoy the little soap operas that are all coming out of Vikings camp. Who needs to watch the semi-scripted crap that is reality television when you’ve got drama, political backbiting, scandal, and utter disappointment that is a training camp to follow!?

Naturally, teams have picked up on this and are doing all sorts of crazy stuff to hype their team and what’s going on without giving away too much about their plans for the upcoming season. They rely on little tricks and flash-bang marketing boondoggles to try and get people interested, even those fans (like myself) that don’t live there.

Case in point: the Minneapolis Star Tribune runs a “Camp Cam” that is an interactive webcam that you can use to view the goings-on at the Vikings training camp. You can also post images from the cam on a public photo album that anyone can see. It’s set up to run 24 hours a day, so you can log in anytime you want and see what the practice field looks like at 3 AM if you want to.

The camp cam is easy to abuse though, since there seems to be no real editing of what images get taken or posted on the public album. If last season was any indication, the most popular images posted on the album will consist of the following:

  1. Popular Vikings players (Culpepper and the rookies)
  2. Coach Tice (identifiable by the big yellow wood pencil he usually has behind his ear)
  3. Any and all remotely attractive females in the audience – particularly those in low cut shirts or short skirts.

Honestly, it seemed as though 70% of the pictures from last year were weirdos spying on hot audience members. This season it looks like they’ve restricted the camera so that it can’t look down on the picnic tables as easily, but I’m sure that the weirdos will find another way.

So, all you hot Vikings fans planning on going to camp (and let’s be frank, we’re all incredibly good-looking people) make sure that you keep your eyes on that camera before you flash for beads. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, glacierman.

Trying to catch the attention of their pedophile audience segment perhaps?

You've got to be kidding me...

What editor in his right mind would let this headline go? (Choose the USA region, then the article will display)

Thanks to the Dave Barry Blog for bringing this to the world's attention.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Where's my cake Blogger?

It’s been one whole year since my first post and it feels a little weird. Granted, the months-long break I took over last November/December makes me a little uncertain about calling it an “anniversary” but I don’t want to have to do all the math to calculate when I’ve accumulated a year’s worth of posts. Thanks to you few regular readers: pre-blog friends, lurking family members, unfortunate folks who stumbled across this blog and decided to keep coming (for some reason unbeknownst to me). Rest assured – I read all your blogs too.

My mom is coming to visit this weekend. This will also be the first time she meets the GF. Oddly enough, all of my mom’s family has already met the GF (some of them more than once, even) so I’m sure she’s already received multiple scouting reports from various aunts and grandma. We’re going out for dinner (and the big introduction) when she gets in town, and then on Saturday I’m going to squire her about town all day. Some folks have asked whether I’m at all nervous about the GF meeting mom. To be honest I’m really not. My mom is loveable and super nice, and everyone loves the GF. Heck, by the time the weekend is over, they’ll probably like each other more than they like me.

The only part of my mom coming that’s going to be a little crazy is that it has provoked me into finally finishing the conversion of my office into a proper “guest bedroom”. Naturally, this will necessitate the purchase of some furniture, and the removal of other furniture. In order to keep the costs down, I’m going to head up to Ikea tomorrow to pick up a sleeper sofa and a small corner computer desk to replace the gargantuan desk I have now but never use. And since my car is nowhere near large enough to pack and bring home this much stuff, I’ve rented a U-Haul from the place down the street to help with the move. Of course, I have no idea if the local Ikea has what I want in stock, and I have no idea how I’m going to get my old desk out of my room (I think I can do it, but I don’t know for sure). So tomorrow will be a big adventure day. Tune in Thursday for the exciting conclusion!

Monday, August 01, 2005

Not that Kate Beckinsale isn't hot

I ran across an article on the Hollywood Stock Exchange site discussing the top 5 movies in John Cusack’s body of work. As I read it, I was filled with rage. If you don’t want to check out the article itself, here’s a summary:

  1. Serendipity (2001)
  2. High Fidelity (2000)
  3. Gross Pointe Blank (1997)
  4. Say Anything (1989)
  5. The Sure Thing (1985)

Here’s what I can tell about this person just from looking at this list:

  1. It is a woman. I could tell even before looking at the byline – no man worth his salt thinks Serendipity is Cusack’s peak. Most wouldn’t even think it belongs in the top 10.
  2. She is (at most) 23 years old, having been too young to appreciate Cusack’s earlier work. That’s the only reason Better off Dead is not in her top 5.
  3. She is brain dead (she watched Gross Pointe Blank over 50 times).

So - in light of the fact that this travesty of cinematic critisicm has been foisted upon a trusting public (no doubt the author is a daughter of someone significant at HSX and wanted to play journalist for the day). And in whereas I missed my regular post on Friday due to circumstances beyond my control, I now present the actual (corrected) top 5 movies by John Cusack:

  1. High Fidelity
  2. Being John Malkovich
  3. Better Off Dead
  4. Say Anything
  5. The Journey of Natty Gann

Feel free to post your own lists if you like. I’m open-minded. Except to the journalistic hack who wrote that HSX article, someone take away her laptop.

Maybe they're worth more than $.25 due to the association with MN

It’s been months now since the Minnesota state quarter came out and I have yet to see a single one of them. At first, I was willing to believe that it was just taking a while for the new coins to get through the system – I’ve seen specials on the Discovery Channel about the mint and know what it takes to get coinage to the masses. But it’s been so long now that I’m beginning to develop theories that would make Oliver Stone roll his eyes incredulously. At first, I thought the Shrub administration was seeking revenge on all states that didn’t vote for him in the last election by having the mint “accidentally misplace” all the coins with those states’ designs. But then I realized that if we can’t find all the insurgents in Iraq there’s no way the government is going to find all the Minnesota quarters, given that each one is much smaller (and therefore harder to find) than the average terrorist.

Alternatively, perhaps all the Minnesota quarters have been snatched up by collectors, similar to what has happened with the Sacagawea dollar coins. This is possibly due to the stunning beauty of the design and the air of mystery associated with my beloved home state; each coin radiates an air of magic that draws those holding it to never willingly relinquish it…kind of like the Ring of Power in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Finally, it could be that the US mint doesn’t understand that Minnesota is indeed a state, and instead bullied the Canadian Mint into minting millions of Canadian quarters with the Minnesota design on the back. Figuring that most stores in Minnesota take Canadian quarters anyway, maybe they thought most native folks wouldn’t notice the difference, allowing the mint to skip ahead and get to Texas before Shrubbie leaves office in a final show of lap-dogged proverbial face-licking.