Friday, June 30, 2006

There aren't any songs about go karts

I went to Frankie's Fun Park in Greenville, SC with a church group last night. It was surprisingly fun, considering the next oldest person who wasn't in our group was on summer vacation from middle school. This trip led to a few realizations and a few questions. I will now give a few in numbered list form.

1. Little kids freak out (in a good way) when you give them skee-ball tickets, even if they are of a worthless quantity (like four).
2. 50 cents to play Pac-Man is a tragedy, of comparable rank to the sacking of Rome.
3. There is no key for the 'cent' symbol on my keyboard.

1. How can middle schoolers afford to get that good at laser tag?
2. Whose idea was it to make a video game out of deer hunting?
3. How come driving go karts is so much more fun than driving an actual car?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

I love her

Call me juvenile, but I think the ESPN commercial series with Stuart Scott and the can of tennis balls is hilarious. There are two that I have seen - with Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova. In the first of the series, with Roger, he walks past Stu's cubicle, and is offered the can of tennis balls. Stuart explain that they were given to him as a promotion and he doesn't need them, but since they were free, doesn't know if they were any good. Roger thanks him, and begins to walk away while Stuart tells him he ought to check. He does and wham! classic spring loaded snakes gag.

The second one, Maria walks by and he tries the same thing, but she's wise to the game. She calls him on the snakes (although calls them worms) and he does the natural thing and acts hurt. He finally guilts her into taking the can, she opens it, and wham! out they pop. His reaction cracks me up.

I forgot to mention something important: Maria is wearing that cute little tennis outfit that is the most brilliant development in sports marketing I have seen, surpassed only by the concepts of cheerleaders and beach volleyball uniforms. I will now take this opportunity to include a picture of Maria laying down on a bed of tennis balls. Honestly, I have no idea why I don't like tennis more. That can't be comfortable.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Cé leis smaoineamh an thiachóg ar an nós?

I notice, from time to time, that while seated I lean a little bit to the left. This isn't a reflection of any political views, having one bum-cheek be smaller than another, or some sort of effort to maximize a suntan based on window placement. Actually, it's probably closest to the second one. The men in the audience are probably thinking to themselves, if they are seated on a firm chair, that they are doing that now. Women may be puzzled. So I will explain.

People like to buy things. They use money to do it. It is a bit awkward to carry that money in your hand when you're going to buy fireworks or a live chicken. Women keep their money in a purse. Men keep their money in a wallet. I, like many others, keep my wallet in my back pocket. My back right pocket, to be exact. As a result, it pushes me to the left while I am sitting down. I'm like the Leaning Tower of Engineer Sighted.

To combat this, some folks have gone to extreme measures like emptying only of critical contents like their credit and Hooter's Lunch Club cards, disposing of cash and receipts permanently. Others have simply gotten a second wallet, so that rather than be off center, you sit propped up as if on blocks. The key things to remember about this solution is to always have the same amount of cash in each wallet and to wear each wallet on opposite sides. Otherwise you're just compounding the problem. Still others (the least socially aware, I would say) go to fanny packs. I haven't seen one in a long time, but then again, I haven't been to Disney World in a while, either. I have no doubt that somewhere people are still using them. Although, I never understood their naming; they are traditionally worn in front of a person, while the fanny itself is behind said person.

So what am I going to do? I think I may try to make my wallet a little bit slimmer so that I don't have a permanent twist in my entire body. I may consider switching sides every once in a while, but there's something that seems really unnatural about that, like using the other hand to brush your teeth.

(The title is [I think] 'Whose idea was the wallet anyway?' in Irish. If someone who knows better sees this, please feel free to send a correction or confirmation.)

Saturday, June 24, 2006

You're making quite a bit a' sport of me

I followed two sports over the past few weeks that I don't normally. You have already read about one of them, and the other is our so-called national pastime. The US team was eliminated in the World Cup and Clemson was eliminated from the College Baseball World Series. It's still two months until football season, so what am I going to do for the intervening time? Watch professional baseball? I'd rather eat the stuff at the bottom of my oven.

The soccer loss was a bit hard to take. I felt like I was forcing myself to watch it as a national service, choking down the programming the way a five your old would his cough medicine, trying to support the United States in a place where (surprise) everyone else hates us. We lost to Ghana. I don't really know much about Ghana, other than what its flag looks like and that the United States should never lose to them in anything. So basically, this would be like telling that five year old that the medicine he took was really just cooking oil. Not only did it make you wish for whatever disease it was supposed to prevent, but you might actually get that disease anyway. But soccer will be huge here in five years.

Baseball, on the other hand, is a little less effectual to me. I could go to Clemson games. They were fun, actually. Watching baseball on television is excruciating without a rooting interest. But since I am a Clemson student, I had one; UNC played a serious game and beat us. Then Cal State played us to the last inning and we came up short. It happens. At least it wasn't Ghana.

So back to the question - what am I supposed to do for sport in the time between now and opening day of football? ESPN has been showing paintball a lot, maybe I'll watch that.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


I just saw a commercial for Oreo choco stix, and I was reminded of chocolate covered Oreos. Does anybody remember them? My grandmother had them for a brief period when I was very young and impenetrable to the evil forces of fat and sugar. I remember them being delicious, and for some reason, my parents thought they sounded awful and would not get them for me. There may have been a bit of miscommunication; they were covered in chocolate. I don't think health was an issue, because back in the days when my mom packed my lunch (which took place after the grandmother/chocolate covered Oreos and as recently as 2003), I was the envy of all the other kids with my junk food that now seems irresponsible.

The point is, I haven't seen chocolate covered Oreos in a while. I don't think I've had them for like 17 years, so I wonder if they'd still be as delightful as I remember them. Are there any other foods that you folks miss from childhood but can't find anymore? Let's talk about them and then realize how our childhoods were entirely determined by food and action figure advertising.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Indians appreciate efficiency

A good of mine who happens to be of the Indian persuasion sent me this link about a week ago: He called it "online dating taken to an extreme." It's an online community for Indian people to get married. Skip all that messy dating and courtship, just pick out one you like and offer a marriage proposal. The best part is that there is a question listed that asks who sent in the profile -- yourself or your parent. Check out some of the profiles for yourself and see what I mean.

I'm not really sold on the circus of assinine that is online dating, but this I have to say exceeds my normal level of skepticism. But then again, you have to admire the concept; fill out a form listing everything you want in an ideal husband or wife, and wait for the proposals to come rolling in. Now that I think about it, I'm surprised there aren't a lot more of these out there. I could see facebook evolving a feature like this -- ask a girl in your biology class to marry you.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

For it's root, root, root for whoever the hell they are.

I went to a Greenville Drive game tonight. They were playing against the Asheville Tourists. That is no lie. Tourists are the sort of people that those from my homeland consider like cockroaches made out of money - disgusting in every way except that they are made out of money. Yet Asheville, NC named a Single A baseball franchise after them. Great. The Drive are a farm team for the Boston Red Sox, and the stadium looked like a miniature Fenway Park. It was pretty neat, and everybody had Southern accents instead of Boston ones. Some of you may be thinking, "Well, that's sort of a lateral move, isn't it?" The answer is no, it isn't. A Southern accent is infinitely superior to a Boston one in every way. The Boston accent is like poop on a cracker.

One thing I remembered while sort of watching this baseball game is that I don't really understand the "Charge!" cheer. Or the wave, but let's do one thing at a time. The "Charge!" cheer, in my opinion, has no place in baseball or football games. It's merely a Pavlovian sound that elicits the same response wherever you go. The point of cheers is to psyche up your team so they'll perform better. If "Charge!" is universal, then it could be monkeys in the stands, rather than actual fans. Clemson has a cheer where they spell CLEMSON by sections around Death Valley. That is intimidating. If the PA system played the do-doo-do-doooo Charge! sound, sure it would be loud, but so what? Charge! can go to hell.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Oh, Magoo...

I do not have perfect vision. Well, I do, but that's because I employ the aid of contact lenses. Without them, I cannot read my computer screen. I'm serious, I checked. But, at night, before my contacts become dried layers of cataract upon my eyes, I remove them in exchange for my stylish Oakley glasses. I know they're stylish because I had someone else (my brother) pick them out for me. I feel like I would need a seeing-eye person for selecting anything remotely fashionable. For example, my shoes are orange.

But the thing I don't understand is that when I put on my glasses, after lying harmlessly on my bathroom sink all day, they are dirty. How does this happen? Does my roommate sneak in, twisting his mustache like Snidely Whiplash, and rub his thumbs all over my lenses? Or do they have some sort of make out session with my toothpaste? This really makes me wonder, because when I put them on, invariably, I clean them with my shirt. Every day. How can they get dirty the next day? Honestly, I blame it on my roommate's shaver.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Idleness, my kryptonite

People wonder what they'd if they didn't have to work. I'll tell you what they'd do, because I'm doing it: eat ice cream and play video games. My "job", which is to be a grad student, right now is about as exciting as the soccer game I tried to watch yesterday. (I didn't fail to watch the USA-Czech Republic match, but I would feel dishonest not prefacing "watch" with "try" because "try" implies discomfort. I just wanted to be sure that you understand that both my life and the soccer game were/are boring at the moment.) I am waiting on things to arrive, various quotes for work and free samples of parts. I am sitting at home watching MSNBC and writing this because there is literally nothing I can do in the lab. Well, that's not true; I can make fun of the Belorussian Ph.D.'s broken English. But really, I can do that here, too.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

But will it match my Batstartmenu, Robin?

Everywhere I go, websites are trying to sell me on their toolbars. Google, Mozilla, Yahoo!, everwhere. I decided on Google, because since they're everywhere else, they might as well be on my internet browser as well. It's like a veritable Batman's utility belt just below my url bar.

I only use like two features, though, and I don't have to do anything with one of them. It's kind of handy never having to actually go to Google's website to search (haven't they heard of pictures on their site?) for something completely inane, like how to make waffles with candy in them. But the the big thing that gets my attention is the pop-up blocker.

My handy Google Toolbar tells me that it has blocked 1305 pop-ups. I'm sure that's nowhere near the record, but like the CIA, I only notice when it screws up. I see pop-ups all the time! I must say, like the efforts the CIA works to prevent (notably, terrorist attacks and wars against the US), I am not a big fan of the things that happen when the CIA and pop-up blocker fail. I am no computer scientist, but how different are the pop-ups from some no-name website and ones like And why does resort to pop-ups anyway? They're the world-wide leader in sports! Show some class, I'm also no conspiracy theorist, but maybe struck a deal with Google to let theirs through? If Google sold out to China, selling out to Disney is not so hard to believe. They're pretty much the same, only better at world domination.

I also don't really understand the imbedded advertisements that materialize, usually as balloons or talking trees or something, right in the middle of the page you're trying to read. Can't we block those? I remember the good old days when the internet was just Prodigy and porn, back before there were pop-ups. But, alas, I think those days, like the lost innocence of Rock and Roll, will never return. Except, of course, the porn. That's not going anywhere.

Saturday, June 10, 2006


I tried to watch a World Cup game today - England vs. Paraguay. I'll probably watch the USA on Monday as well. People talk about the excitement in sports, and it's ok, I guess, but I still don't know if I understand this game. The action is continuous, that is true, but because the action is continuous doesn't mean it's all exciting. Think of it this way: you like movies, so a long movie will be better than a short one. That's not necessarily true.

I want to like this game. I really do. I want to understand what it is about this game to inspire hooliganism of such a magnitude to make Maryland Terrapins fans look tame. But it's confusing. Not the game itself as much, really, but the nuances, the sophistication of the game. The more I think about it, though, is that this game needs beer more than an ugly chick sitting at the bar a half hour before last call does to be appreciated. That's a little rough at 9 AM.

So my question is, really, does the rest of the world actually enjoy this game or is it a prank they're pulling on the Americans? Sure, after baseball it may be deserved, but what is it that everyone but us goes nuts about? I'm going to give this World Cup the chance to see through the demands for beer, much like I saw through the need for drugs to listen to 60s guitar music. I think I may even bring in some Brazilians to try to explain it. I do think that I'll be able to convert them to football in September, though.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Who is your favorite Traveling Wilbury? Is it Jeff Lynne?

This post will kind of buck the trend of pointing out things that bother me, but since I never get any comments, I don't care what you people think about trends. Actually, if you did post comments, I probably still wouldn't care.

I felt the need to say in blog form that Roy Orbison is great, although he is not my favorite Wilbury. That would have to be George, who is also my favorite Beatle. Roy would be second though. Don't think that's a slight on Mr. Orbison, George Harrison is a Beatle for crying out loud. But listen to Roy Orbison.

And that first part isn't really true. I would care if you left comments. But they better not suck, or Roy Orbison will be Cryin'.