Friday, December 28, 2007

It's too late for shopping, but never too late to criticize other folks tips!

After returning from a day visiting the ruins of ancient Pompeii at the science museum, I came home to update myself on the goings-on of the world by browsing through the interweb's most popular stories on Digg. Of course, Digg tends to be hit-or-miss when it comes to relevance. Sure, it's generally pretty accurate about news stories and whatnot. But in the end, it's a site by nerds, for nerds. Typically, this doesn't bother me too much since I too am a nerd. However, whenever a story about "How to do [x] for your girlfriend" gets popular I know to take it with a grain of salt, because let's face it - most nerds have no clue how to deal with actual (i.e. non-World Of Warcraft) women.

Case in point, an article on Digg's top 10 at the moment detailing all the presents you should and should not get your girlfriend at "any stage" of your relationship. Written by a women who is obviously trolling for Digg traffic to her site selling medieval jewelry*, some of her ideas are accurate, some are incredibly obvious, and some are just weird. Let's examine, shall we?

Starting with some of her tips for "first gifts" for a girl you've just recently started dating. Here, she hits the low hanging fruit in the "don't buy" list. Obviously, lingerie is out because of the game men and women play when they first start dating - men must never indicate that they want to see women in lingerie, and women must never indicate that they already know men want to see them in lingerie. This "mutual plausible deniability" helps keep conversations from becoming awkward early on, and let's you try to get to know each other as people without having to try and figure out her bra size by "best guessing" or rummaging through her drawers while she's in the bathroom.

She continues nailing the easy ones by advising against the trite and the cliched (e.g. chocolate, candles) and the outright idiotic (e.g. gag gifts? Seriously? Men *do* that?). In general, her ideas aren't too horrible with one exception - lottery tickets in a card with a witty saying. Men, do not buy your girlfriend a lottery ticket. This is for two reasons: a) she will lose and then throw it away because it has no intrinsic value and b) it's cheap and therefore it gives you the impression that you are cheap. I mean, they cost what, a dollar? Think of all the other stuff you could get for a dollar - does any of it sound like a good gift? "Here honey, I got you a Snickers bar! I know I spent up for the King Size, but you're so worth it, baby!".

Moving on to her presents for when you're in a casual relationship. The interesting thing about this section is her continued rant against giving bath products because "they send the wrong message". Really? What message would that be? Is she actually concerned that someone you've been dating for a few months would interpret such a gift as a way of saying "you smell bad"? Or is she worried that the readers are actually dating Mogwai and don't know it? As someone who has dated actual women, let me tell you, bath products are safe provided you get an idea of what kinds of smells she likes first.

By the time she gets to the "Serious Relationship birthday gifts" she's still holding her own with a reasonable amount of normalcy. She also points out the fact that "some people see lingerie as the guy is buying himself a gift and giving it to his girlfriend, in other words it is more for the guy" - which is almost 100% accurate. To make that statement perfectly accurate she'd have to re-write it as "All women see lingerie as something the guy is buying for himself, and if you'd be honest with yourself a moment so would you, dude". Not that there is anything wrong with that, though, so long as everyone's honest about it.

At the end of her list though it becomes painfully obvious that her "gifts for people who've been seeing each other a while" is either completely imaginary or entirely hypothetical. I mean, her first suggestion is an *engagement ring*. And not because it's the right time to get engaged either, but rather because "If you have been together long enough that it is hard to come up with gift ideas getting married would seem to be the next step". Yeah, I'm sure *that* is when your girlfriend would want you to propose - when you've run out of other gift ideas.

The other suggestion in that list is the "coupon book". Not that it is a terrible idea, but the way she framed it was that this dude basically wrote down everything that his girlfriend complained about and gave her 1 coupon for each thing. Somehow, I can't imagine this going over well. "See honey? Remember how I always watch sports all day and hog the remote all the time? Well now, you can use this one coupon for one day and I won't do it for that whole day!". Hey, sluggo, how about just listening to what she is actually saying and not being a douchebag so much? Go ahead and give her the coupon book, just replace all the "I won't be an asshole" ones with extra foot massage ones. In the end she'll be a lot happier.

*About 90% of her posts look like top 10 lists of "stuff to buy for [insert target demographic]". Not that all top 10 lists are traffic bait, but when nearly all your recent posts are such - it's suspicious.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

It's an entire Saturday morning's worth of viewing, all in a half-hour!

Those of you who never saw this in elementary school - here's your chance.

I know it's long but if you keep watching eventually you'll see every single cartoon you ever watched coming together to tell you about the dangers of drugs. It's amazing how effective that is, when you think about it. In fact, that's probably why Linsay Lohan and Britney Spears never met a drug they didn't like - simply because they were too young to watch this program when it originally aired!

And now what?

It seems so weird that I'm already over halfway done with my holiday voyage back home for the holidays. After spending last weekend at my Aunt's in Iowa (arriving in the middle of a blizzard of 8" of snow) and the beginning of this week at Grrrmom's (where, no kidding, I watched a squirrel attack a flock of ducks at the birdfeeder in the backyard) I'm now at Grrrdad's in Minneapolis. I continue to catch up on sleep like a crazy person (9.5 hours last night) but since it's so late in the week both my dad and stepmom have to go back to work so I'm free to flit around town wherever I want to!

Today, I'm thinking I'll head over to see Juno at the local Cineplex before moseying over to the mall for some post-holiday bargains. Yes, that "mall" *may* be the Mall of America, which even though it is located completely on the other side of town, still holds a bizarre attraction for me. Something about the peoplewatching there is so great! Yet, it's not quite the same as it was when it opened my senior year of high school. The Minnesota Picnic store is closed, which means no more Walleye-on-a-Stick and cheese curds in a basket for lunch. Oh well, life moves on I guess.

In the end it'll all depend on what time I finally get showered and out the door. And considering how it's already nearly a quarter-past-11, maybe I'll just do the local mall and hit up the MoA tomorrow. So long as I do it before Saturday because that's when the crazy crowds show up.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Xmas everyone!

Yes, that wonderful time of year when we all gather with our families and celebrate the birth of our lord and savior - Jesus X...

Well the last-minute scramble to get all my shopping done before the holiday came true again. It never fails, no matter how good my intentions are to get my shopping done by August, craft an elegant and witty holiday letter to all my friends, finish all my work stuff up by the week before, and make delicious holiday treats before I leave - somehow it never manages to turn out the way I planned.

This year, though, was complicated by the fact that I bought a new car last week. Friday, to be exact. Granted, I had been researching cars pretty regularly for the few weeks leading up to that point. But I finally managed to find a good deal on a BMW 328xi that was a loaner car at the dealership and haggled the guy down almost $8000 from his list price, which I feel good about. Even better, it's only got around 6500 miles on it, and comes with almost 3.5 years of free maintenance left! I know! After spending $4-6k a year on maintenance of my car each of the last two years, I'll now have to figure out something else to waste that money on. Maybe I'll have to buy the GF a pony.

Although after seeing that Verizon commercial, I think ponies scare me now...

Anyway, hope ya'll have a grand Christmas!

Friday, December 14, 2007


Something fun for the morning. I suppose this is handy to know. I always figured I could have taken down my entire kindergarten class. I just never thought I'd get to the point where I could do it all at once.

This is totally what the internet is for - warning us about things we would otherwise never have considered threats.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

In case you hadn't heard

Those of you familiar with the fiasco at Gate D during halftime of Jets games may be interested in hearing that the team is at least attempting to stop the hyjinks there. Of course, given all the added publicity, the number of idiots there for "the show" was even greater than usual this past week, thus overwhelming the additional security that was brought in for the event. For me this is no real surprise because honestly, take 32000 men, add 3-4 beers per guy, shake well and then tell them there's a good possibility of seeing boobs within easy walking distance and this sort of thing is going to happen. It doesn't happen just at Gate D either. When I went to my first Cleveland Browns game (the first preseason game at the new stadium) I was sitting in the "Dawg Pound" with all the rowdies - and believe me, they were chanting for boobs* at women walking down the aisles to their seats during the game.

Anyway, the reason I find the whole thing interesting (as usual) has nothing to do with the original story. The original video showing the ridiculousness was posted on YouTube some time ago. Once that was leaked, various news outlets picked up the story. What is interesting is that the video is no longer available. Why? Because the NFL has claimed that the content of said video is copyrighted material and demanded it be taken down.

Seriously? The NFL has copyrighted flashing boobs? Since when? Don't you think they would have mentioned something about this when Girls Gone Wild was in its prime?

* Well, the term they used wasn't exactly "boobs" but it made for better chanting, having more than one syllable. Guesses anyone? Hint - it's kind of an odd euphanism...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The sounds of silence

I officially have laryngitis, which tewtally sucks. After discussing it with my doctor's nurse yesterday, I'm under orders to rest my voice as much as possible over the next few days. Those of you who know me personally understand how difficult this is for me.

Mercifully, my boss is out of the office today and I have a half-day vacation this afternoon. So it's just a matter of keeping my head down so nobody tries to involve me in a conversation.

Man...I'm already bored...

Monday, December 10, 2007

Any day now he'll be a judge on "American Idol"

Can someone please explain why Michio Kaku is on *every* science-related documentary on television these days? Did someone pass a law? Did he hold hostage the wife and family of the CEO of Discovery Networks, only releasing them when the guy promised to put him in every show across their spectrum?

It's not that I actively dislike this guy - I barely know him, after all - but because he's on all the shows that I've started to become skeptical about everything he says. Sure, he's a PhD and all, but I really struggle to lend credibility to someone who claims to be an expert on both theoretical physics *and* "futurism"*. I can buy into the theoretical physics, but is he the *only* physicist in the US who can explain it in a way that normal people can understand?** Whatever happened to Brian Greene?

Maybe in the end my real issue is that I don't have any faith in anything that is claimed by anyone claiming to be a "futurist". It just find it incongruous that any disciplined scientist would dabble in fortune-telling. You want to know what's going to happen 100 years in the future? I'll tell you - you're dead and your grandkids hate you because a) the world is covered in pollution that *you* caused and b) nobody can afford any of those nice Chinese luxury products because we're all working as their indentured servants.

* Whatever the heck that is.
** If so, the state of our current higher education in physics is pretty darn sorry.

Fashion Nightmare


Not scared, you say? Did you scroll down to the bottom? Ah, yes...*now* you see...

Big presentation for the departmental bigwigs tomorrow, so no time to post much more. But lots to say, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

First tooth's free. Second one's free if you bring a friend...

I know I've blogged about the ridiculousness of the market for children's crap before, but I think I may have found something that takes the cake - a keepsake tooth that stores all your child's baby teeth as they fall out and also serves as a piggy bank* for all the money they collect. Allegedly, it was created by "a sentimental Tooth Fairy" who wanted to give the children of earth a place to store their baby teeth after they were lost. The website also implies that it helps promote good dental hygiene because it "...can help The Tooth Fairy determine how much money to give for a fallen baby tooth**. A cleaner and whiter baby tooth will probably get more money."

Maybe it's just me, but I see a few "issues" raised by the existance of such a device:
  1. It implies that The Tooth Fairy is disorganized and sloppy. The website states that she invented the Tooth Bank so that "baby teeth will not get lost or misplaced in Tooth Fairy Land". So what happened to all *my* baby teeth that she took away when I was a kid? If she did have such poor business practices, how did she get enough profits to afford to give me a quarter for my first tooth? And how did that manage to grow to a dollar for my baby molar? I suspect that after doing this for thousands of years, the Tooth Fairy knows what she's doing. Frankly I woudn't be surprised if she sued this website for libel.
  2. Doesn't it send the wrong message to kids that The Tooth Fairy will judge your teeth before deciding how much to give you? What sort of black market tooth chop shop is she running? Why does the Tooth Fairy need to view it in a display stand to make that assessment anyway? Wouldn't she just look at it when she takes it from under your pillow?
  3. Most importantly - who in the heck wants to hang on to their old baby teeth in perpetuity? Isn't that the whole reason they fall out? Isn't that the whole reason for the Tooth Fairy to begin with? Aren't we supposed to be recycling those teeth? What will the Tooth Fairy do once her supply of raw materials dries up? Will she start pulling adult teeth while we sleep? Will I wake up one morning next summer in desperate need of dentures? Scary...
* "Toothy bank"?
** "Fallen"? What, are baby teeth like WWII veterans now?

Monday, December 03, 2007

Support your local obvio-scientist!

Hey ladies!

Do you know how sometimes (say, every 28 days or so) you get to feeling cranky, or sad for no apparent reason? Ever wonder why after having a kid your mood can suddenly go into the crapper? Are you curious about why menopause sucks so much?

Well, recent research by some innovative scientists has discovered that there is something called "hormones" which cause these bad moods. So it's *not* your fault after all - you're victims just like everyone else! So quit blaming yourself, feminists - it's just the patriarchy!

In other news, Big Macs make you fat, the Earth does *not* actually sit on the back of a giant tortoise, and hot waitresses make better tips.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Almost enough to counter the Nicole Kidman factor

Have ya'll seen the trailer for the "Golden Compass" movie coming out next weekend? Seriously? Polar bears in suits of armor battling similarly-clad wooly rhinos? That might be the coolest fight scene I've ever even *heard* of in a film! Yet I'm still hesitant, because there are so many counterbalancing things about this film that both attract and repulse me at the same time. Here's how I see it:

  • Aformentioned bears vs rhinos in full armor scenes
  • Daniel Craig
  • Sam Elliott in full cowboy hat + bushy mustache regalia*
  • Nicole Kidman kind of weirds me out. I can't explain it, but everything she's done since "To Die For" has left me feeling like she's been replaced by an android.
  • The protagonist is a 12 year old orphan girl, who let's face it - is not really capable of kicking any sort of serious ass. This is probably why there are armored bears.
  • Speaking of which, the bears aren't real. Yeah, CGI is all right but it's nowhere as cool as if they were *real* trained polar bears who just also happened to be trained fighters.
So in the end it all nets out for me and I'll probably just throw it in the bottom of my netflix queue. Right after about 140 or so other movies...

*What is it about Sam Elliott that allows him not only to do this in every movie that he's ever in but also to pull it off with such aplomb?

Yep, tonight I'm totally cleaning up all the pictures on my cell phone...

Look! It's Greenland!

Taken from the airplane on the way back from Germany last September. It was really beautiful, all sorts of mountains and glaciers, and the ice sheet itself is amazing - it actually looks a mile thick, even from 40,000 feet.

Another sideways picture, but

Who ever knew that this book existed? I saw in a used bookstore a couple months ago, and *almost * bought it. I mean, Asimov + Shakespeare? I can't even imagine...

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Not sure if it's funny or sad

My neighborhood of Bucktown recently got a new library branch a year or two ago. And this morning, as I was walkign around the neighborhood, waiting for my car to get repaired* I finally got around to visiting it for the first time. This was a first for me, because despite the fact that I was a library junkie for most of my childhood, I hadn't held a library card for nearly 20 years.

So I took advantage of my free 20 minutes to explore my local branch. It had only been open for about a half hour, and as I was browsing the shelves, I saw an interesting social phenomenon. While I was wandering through the stacks, I noticed that all the other people in the building were not looking at books, but rather sitting down and surfing the web. So now I'm even more exited about going because I'm apparently the only person in my whole neighborhood who actually reads books. While I find this a little sad, I'm also optimistic that any time I want to check out a book, it'll probably be on the shelf rather than checked out by someone else, score!

* Again...more foreshadowing for the upcoming new car adventure!

The GF has a ring!

Yup, yesterday I presented the GF with the biggest ring I could find. She's been so good to me I figured I had to come clean and make an honest woman of her.

Want to see it?

Hee hee hee...

Actually, I *did* buy this for her. She needs one for a shoot she's working on at work and I can buy them at cost. Oh the benefits of working for a distributor!

Speaking of which, I know things have been quiet lately. I'm slammed up against a deadline next week so I've been bringing a lot of work home and had no time to blog. But things should smooth out come the 11th, so hang in there, I'll be back on track in time for the holidays, blogging all about my new car buying experience - coming soon!

After all, Elmo seems equally disinterested in both...

I have a hard time believing that Elmo was traumatized by Katy Perry's decollatage after discovering that he had already "been arou...