Sunday, December 30, 2007

There are luxuries we can't afford

I just got back from Christmas today. It was tiring. I feel like I need a vacation from my vacation. Every time I go home I feel like I gain 20 pounds because my mom is bad at portions and not making delicious food that is bad for you. So, I have to spend the next two weeks working out extra hard to get back to where I was two weeks ago. Isn't starting a new year grand?

One of the things I noticed once I got back is that I still haven't killed off the crappy cheap toilet paper that I brought with my from grad school. It is astonishing how much less of everything one person uses. Either that or I eat way too much cheese. But I didn't really notice, because I don't have good toilet paper to compare it to. (Actually, that's not true. I have some good tissue in the bathroom, but I want to use the crappy stuff first. It's a little like this concept.)

It makes a big difference, though, comfortwise. If you get nothing else from this blog, let it be this: spending a little extra on nice toilet paper is worth it. Saving a few pennies is appealing, but don't you remember how awful it was to blow your nose on those rough, brown paper towels they have in the bathrooms in high school? Yeah. I do have some questions about bidets, though, and how they fit into this scheme. I've never used one, but I've heard good things.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

2007/8 Bowl Picks

Holy cow! Bowl season, the second best and only other good thing about winter besides Christmas, starts tomorrow, and I almost didn't get my picks in on time. Feel free to make your own picks in the comments! And now, in chronological order...

San Diego Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
Utah (-7.0) vs Navy
I think if PJ hadn't gone to Tech, I'd take Navy to win outright. What's Utah got going for it, other than the prospect of voting for a Mormon this presidential election? I say Utah wins, but Navy wins the spread.

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl

Memphis vs. Florida Altantic (-3.0)
I don't think I've seen either of these teams play this year. But FAU has a national championship coach and Memphis has the Blues and ribs. Unfortunately, kickass music and delicious ribs don't help on the football field. FAU wins.

12/22/07 Bowl
Southern Miss vs. Cincinnati (-10.5)
I think that is a generous spread for USM. Bearcats win big. I know you are probably thinking "There is no such thing as a bearcat." You are right. Doesn't help the Golden Eagles of USM, sadly.

New Mexico Bowl
Nevada vs. New Mexico (-2.5)
Nevada has a wacky pistol formation, but that didn't help last year against a terrible, terrible Miami team (who you will not see on this list, incidentally). New Mexico is playing in a bowl named after them. I'll take New Mexico, even though I don't know what their mascot is. Nevada is the Wolfpack, though. Just like NC State, who sucks too.

Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl
UCLA vs. BYU (-6.0)
Ouch. The Bruins were projected to be contenders for the PAC-10 in the preseason, now their coach is unemployed and they are dogs to the Cougars. There's no way UCLA can pull this out, because none of the BYU players will be distracted by the siren's song of Sin City. The Bruins, however, can indulge in whatever debauchery they want. BYU wins the spread.

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl
Boise State (-10.5) vs. East Carolina
I think ECU is coached by Lou Holthz's son. Won't help. Boise State is better, because they have the running back who proposed to the cheerleader last year. How can you not like him? And how awesome is a trip to Hawaii? The Broncos will be happier to be there than the Pirates, because the Carolinas are nice while Idaho is pretty rough this time of year.

Motor City Bowl
Central Michigan vs. Purdue (-8.0)
This is the first game with real teams. Eight points in this game is an outrage. I would bet my insulin money on CMU to cover if I had diabetes. But I don't, and it would be illegal. The point is, I think the Chippewas are better than the Boilers and will win this game.

Pacific Life Holiday Bowl
Arizona State vs. Texas (-2.5)
This has traditionally been the bowl for teams who wish they went to a better one and then get blown out by an inferior team. This is a hard one to pick, because Texas has been a gigantic disappointment and ASU was pretty terrible last year and kind of came out of nowhere with a new coach. I think I like the Sun Devils, though, and sorry UT, but the Horns get hooked.

Champs Sports Bowl
Boston College (-3.5) vs. Michigan State
Boston College. By like two and a half TDs. Jesuits win, and the Spartans have to go back to the Midwest after seeing the glory that is Central Florida.

Texas Bowl
TCU (-4.0) vs. Houston
Two Texas teams playing in the Texas Bowl! Isn't that cute? But that line is very small. That would be a fair line if Houston didn't just lose their coach. Which they did. TCU by 10.

Emerald Bowl
Maryland vs. Oregon State (-4.5)
Maryland is not a good football team or state. Beavers are also a more hilarious mascot than the Terrapins, although they are pretty funny. Gotta go against the ACC. OSU wins by a TD.

Meineke Car Care Bowl
UConn vs. Wake Forest (-2.5)
This is one of the hardest ones to predict of all of them, I think. Which is sad, really, because the Deacs were ACC champs last year and the Huskies have only been 1-A for like 8 years. I have shoes older than that. I still think I like Wake Forest, though.

AutoZone Liberty Bowl
UCF (-3.0) vs. Mississippi State
This is a really interesting matchup. UCF has the NCAA rushing leader and MSU has the SEC coach of the year. I think this could be a big momentum builder for UCF, who should have beaten Texas in the Citrus Bowl. UCF wins a close one, but doesn't win the spread.

Valero Alamo Bowl
Penn State (-5.5) vs. Texas A&M
Penn State is going to put such a hurt on ATM that there will be Nittany Lion prints on Kyle Field next bowl season. A&M lost their coach and everybody loves JoePa. Even Hitler would have loved him 60 years ago.

Petro Sun Independence Bowl
Alabama (-3.5) vs. Colorado
I know that they are experts and all in Vegas, but this line is non-sense. Bunk, if you will. I would take Colorado any day of the week and twice on Tuesdays. You see what I did there? I mixed it up at the end.

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl
Cal (-3.5) vs. Air Force
I like AF, but I can't take them over Cal. Sorry, America. I've let you down.

Roady's Humanitarian
Georgia Tech (-5.5) vs. Fresno State
Georgia Tech. I guess.

Brut Sun Bowl
USF (-6.5) vs. Oregon
If Dennis Dixon didn't trade away his future for a chance to lose at Arizona, I'd be picking the Ducks to win the National Championship over Ohio State. But without him, I have to go with Da Bulls.

Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl
Florida State vs. Kentucky (even)
This is Christmas right here. Go to your local loan shark and take out as much as he'll give you and put it all on the Wildcats. FSU was a coinflip if they had everyone, but they are going to be without twenty-five players. Good Lord.

Insight Bowl
Indiana vs. Oklahoma State (-4.0)
The line for Gundy is 4.0! He's a man! And he's going to win! (I know this is lazy, but this would be like talking about Howard Dean's primary effort last election and not mentioning the scream.)

Chik-Fil-A Bowl
Clemson (-1.5) vs. Auburn
I wish I could be at this game, but this is a tough venue to get into. I, of course, am picking Clemson. Since the spread is 1.5, I guess I am going to pick them to win that too, but I think it will be close.

Outback Bowl
Wisconsin vs. Tennessee (-2.5)
I still like a Cutcliffe-less Tennessee. Vols drink their corn from a jar over Badger corpses.

AT&T Cotton
Mizzou (-3.0) vs. Arky
Ha ha. Arkansas is a confused place right now. The players are all like, "Petrino's a good coach, I guess, thanks for hiring him..." Then again, Missouri got kicked right in the pants by the BCS committees and are probably going Show Me where leaving us out is a good idea. Least motivated teams? I'll trust Vegas, I guess. Tigers by a little.

Konica Minolta Gator
Texas Tech (-5.5) vs. Virginia
I think that Mike Leach might be the closest thing I have to a celebrity man crush. Besides Eddie Vedder, I mean. I am not ashamed to say he is a handsome man. I consider myself a defensive football fan, but how can you not love Mike the Pirate? Texas Tech humiliates UVa by forcing Jacksonville Municipal to use scientific notation to keep score.

Capitol One Bowl
Michigan vs. Florida (-10.5)
It's looking like 10.5 is about as many points as Vegas is willing to give. I'd still take Florida. Michigan lost its coach and is playing a spread offense with way better talent that App State. Florida could win by a bigger margin than they did last year.

Rose Bowl
USC (-13.5) vs. Illinois
I guess I was wrong. Vegas will give the Illini 13.5. I think I'd take that bet, actually. I don't think Illinois can win the game, though. Brink back Illiniwek!

Sugar Bowl
Hawaii vs. Georgia (-7.5)
Man, the BCS matchups suck. UGa wins in a walk. Colt Brennan puts up a bunch of yards but doesn't win because Knowshon Moreno has the best name in college football.

Fiesta Bowl
Oklahoma (-7.5) vs. West By God Virginia

I wanted to see OU vs. VT so bad. This is ridiculous. The Sooners are going to win, and probably would have won even if RichRod stuck around.

Orange Bowl
Virginia Tech (-3.5) vs Kansas
I would have liked to have had another shot at VT , but they probably would have beaten us again. Just like they will beat Kansas. By many, many more points than 3.5. Although the Jayhawk might be my favorite imaginary bird. Behind the fantastakeet, of course.

---Begin Bowls that make me cry---
International Bowl
Rutgers (-10) vs Ball State
What's the point? Ball State? Are you kidding me? At least Toronto picked two teams for whom their awful wintry surroundings will be an improvement from where they have to return. Muncie, IN and Piscattaway, NJ? No thank you.

Bowling Green vs. Tulsa (-5.0)
Tulsa, but I have to say, I don't care that much.

---End Bowls that make me cry---

National Championship
LSU (-4.0) vs. Ohio State
Ohio State is going to stop wanting to get to this game. They just aren't that good. LSU wins by 10, but the team's athleticism will bail Les "I'm stupid, but I think I'm gutsy" Miles out. Tressel will think "I'm a genius (just look at the sweatervest), and I'm losing to this guy? At least Urban Meyer was a good coach." Good defensive game, though.

Monday, December 17, 2007

It's like my kryptonite

You folks already know about my various superpowers (if you have forgotten, you can read about them here, here and here. But it's only fair if I tell you about my superpowers I start mentioning some of my weaknesses. After all, I'm Observant, not vain. Well, not so vain that I think this blog is about me.

You might also remember that my purchasing cycle of underwear had reached an increased blip a few months ago, and I neglected to mention a key feature: the button fly. Up until that point, I had been rocking with just ordinary open fly boxers. There are, of course, pluses and minuses for both of those. The pluses of the button fly is that makes you feel fancy because they cost more and the button keeps your peep from popping out. The pluses of the open fly is that it doesn't have a damn button.

I didn't think this would be all that revolutionary before I found myself in the midst of this new sort of fly. But it is. The departure from open to button makes every trip to the urinal a furious race to open the fly, and that takes the experience of relieving oneself in a semi-public place to the next level of awkward. Especially if there is a line, because not only are you taking up valuable real estate, but you are fumbling with your hands on your underwear. Not only that, but afterwards, there is the effort of putting the button back in the eye. Sometimes you just have to abandon ship and forget about the button, reverting back to the open fly arrangement.

I feel, though, that while the button is inconvenient, I never know when I'll need it. Like if my pants are suddenly lost in a horrific tragedy involving a swarm of insects that eats khakis. I'd feel pretty silly in that case if my fly were unbuttoned, wouldn't I?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I feel the need...

Do you ever wonder why everyone on earth is slower than me? (If you want, you can replace the pronoun "me" with "you," but I have to tell you, I like mine better.) It's everywhere: grocery stores, the ATM, the hallways at work, and while I'm on the couch. I know I'm pretty good at things like not taking 45 minutes to buy tomatoes, remembering my PIN, not stopping in my way and watching tv, but what's the deal? Am I really that good?

I hate getting behind people at the ATM. I honestly have no idea what these people do there. It's like they don't understand that there is an actual bank right next to this machine. There are only so many possible button combinations on a machine and it would take like 8 minutes to go through all of them.

You know what holds me up at the grocery store? The fact that almost no cashier knows what a tomatillo is. Blogger is even hitting me with the red underline on it. Other than that, I am flying through the grocery lines like a buttered slip n' slide.

I really have to ask, though, what are the things that are happening in these peoples heads that made you think it is a good idea to do your weekly banking at a glorified drive-thru teller (my bank does not have a clown mouth, sadly)? How about the shock of, after walking through a building full of food and selecting things that you want to take home, and realizing that you might have to pay for it? I guess sometimes Publix ambushes you.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

It's just not worth it

You know how exciting new gadgets are when they seemingly make life easier, but really don't accomplish all that much? I remember when I was a kid, I really wanted a phone that could be a speakerphone. I don't know why; I just thought it was cool. As it turns out, it was not cool. It wasn't even useful. What does an 8 year old need with a speakerphone in his bedroom?

This thing has been out for a while. And frankly, I apologize for being so slow moving on this. This should have been my first post. The bluetooth headset might be the dumbest product ever made. I know you are probably thinking, "But Mr. Sighted, it's hands free!" So was the speakerphone. Doesn't make it any less retarded. Also, you can't use one and not look like a douche bag.

This guy is probably a douche bag.

Maybe it's an issue of unfulfilled fantasies of being Madonna. Maybe it's a question of having such an inflated sense of self-worth that the people who use these that they can't put down the latte in their left hand to hold a telephone. I hate people who carry lattes outside of places that serve lattes and I hate when people are talking on the phone without clearly holding a phone so it makes them sound like the sort of people who are yelling about Nixon on a subway and smell like a ripened combination of Mad Dog and pee. I don't care what the explanation is, I just think you should stop.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The evil citrus

I don't understand grapefruit. It looks like a giant orange on the outside, which is a pretty good start. It even looks pretty nice on the inside, but it's all deception; not unlike a beautiful woman who turns out to have syphilis. Take a bite into what looks like a delicious fruity meal (at least compared to its citrus brethren) and you are shocked and amazed by how frighteningly terrible this actually is. What other fruit to people make a habit of adding sugar to in order to enjoy? Grossberries?

Now, as a Floridian, I have sworn an oath to protect and defend citrus. However, now that I am officially a Georgia resident I can finally speak out publicly. This doesn't change my opinions of the others; oranges, limes, tangerines and lemons are all still pretty great, although lemons are a little boring. Limes are, as always, underrated.

On a recent visit, my dad purchased grapefruit juice, because he was afraid the other items in my refrigerator were being unruly. Grapefruit juice is like the fridge warden. I decided this morning that I might give it a try with my breakfast because I neglected to purchase orange juice, the heavenly citrus juice, yesterday at the grocery store. It is an unforgivable oversight, really. But I couldn't do it. I've said this before and I'll probably say it many, many times in the future: grapefruit juice tastes like bile. It evokes in me the same reaction you get when you burp a little too hard and get some throw up in the back of your mouth. Not my idea of a good experience.

There is good news, though: I do still have limeade. While it's a little bit sugary for a juice, it's still citrusy and satisfied my need for an acidic morning. My throat is frequently dry when I wake up, and orange juice is that cure for that. Among other things. Like scurvy.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Invented by Terrorists: The NFL Network

I am an NFL fan. I follow the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and have an affinity for the Colts because they do their spring training at my alma mater. But when they play each other, I want to see Gaines Adams hit Peyton Manning so hard that he knocks the upside-down horseshoe on his helmet right side up.

If you got a newspaper today (which I didn't), you probably saw a lot of editorials and ads by the NFL apologizing that your cable provider doesn't carry the NFL network. I did manage to get a hold of a USA Today today, and there was both a letter to the editor from the president of the network and a full page ad by the NFL apologizing and another large ad unveiling live. There was also a staff editorial calling shenanigans on the NFL. And you know what? The NFL needs a good kick in the pants.

You see, tonight is a big game. The Dallas Cowboys are playing the Green Bay Packers. If you don't know what a Packer is, just take my word for it: this is going to be a fun game to watch. If you have an HDTV, you can play a game where you try to count Brett Favre's gray hairs. (It's 67, by the way.)

I am one of the chosen few to get the NFL network. My cable provider is some wacky corner store variety of company, meaning they aren't involved in the politics of the situation. I'm pretty sure that I got a free hot dog or something for choosing them (even though I had to). I tuned in to watch the star of There's Something About Mary play against the Romosexual, and you know what I saw? If you guessed a football game, you'd be wrong.

I saw a special on football in some city in Ohio. And it wasn't Cincinnati, Cleveland or Columbus. Not that it would have mattered if it were. It was some small town, I don't remember what it was exactly, but I think it was something like Whogivesadamn. But I did get a little ticker at the top saying, "Your carrier doesn't do the football games. Call and bitch about it." I could not believe it. I get the NFL Network, but I don't get the games? Do you know what else is on the NFL Network? Nothing. This network somehow manages to make cheerleader tryouts boring. Cheerleader tryouts.

So, I am with the USA Today Editorial Board on this one. I'm on the side of the Empire, the Soviet Union, Wal-Mart, the New York Yankees and people who say "I know, right?". The cable companies are right. Why should the cable carries charge us a boatload of money for a channel that shows two games a week in the last half of the season, if you're lucky? Thumbs down, NFL, thumbs down.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Invented by Terrorists: Pay Wi-Fi

I went to Starbucks this evening, because I have not yet discovered a local coffeeshop that does not require me to drive like 8 miles. I recognize that it is a Friday and I am doing a rather solitary activity, but it's the weekend before Thanksgiving and everyone I know is out of town. I mean that in the most literal sense possible; every single person I know is not in town right now.

But I went over to the Maw of the Beast and bought myself an ironically named tea -- Awake -- and opened up my laptop, connected to the wireless network and couldn't figure out why my AIM client wouldn't log in. The reason, it turns out, is that they make you pay for it now. I have just one question: What do I look like, a gullibull? Thumbs down, my friends, thumbs down.

Guess what else: it's really expensive. They wanted to charge me $10 for 24 hours of connection on their precious network. That's like half the cost of the service for the month. I'm already paying twice as much as I should for a mediocre Grande tea, (I know they've been doing this forever with their Italian and what not, but I never understood why the middle size is large) and you want me to shell out more money to use the internet? It's like they think they're a bar. Except people go to bars to get rejected by women. There were only high schoolers at this Starbucks and they didn't even have a hot bartender. Or barista. I forgot where I was in this analogy.

I heard on the news today that Starbucks is suffering from a decline in customers for the first time in like forver. That's what happens when you screw people. All those years of successfully trying to take over the world got to your head, didn't it Starbucks? Well look at you now. You'll be like that hot girl who never got into serious relationships because her life was going so well and her career was too good, but it all came crashing down when she couldn't keep up with expectations and got involved with coke and will die bitter and alone, with a face and body wrecked by all the hard livin'. You won't get any sympathy from me, Starbucks. Not this time.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

You know he was Nightcrawler, too

The weather is turning cold again. This is terrible. I don't know what sort of brain defect causes people to form sentences like, "I'm so glad the weather is cooling off." I equate this to the same sorts of people who do crazy things like collect stamps or use "antique" as a verb. I know what you're thinking: "But it'll snow!" You know what? That sucks too. Snow is great in two places: on vacation and a post card. Otherwise, snow = terrible. It looks nice at first, then it gets gross and dirty and makes your socks wet. Go antiquing for stamps, jerk.

It also means that people start getting sick. The crazy changes in climate affect people in ways that lower their orange juice defenses. I don't pretend to understand it, I just know that it's flu season now based on the number of e-mails I get at work trying to convince me to get a flu shot. I'm not getting one, and here's why: I'm invincible.

I don't get sick anymore. I haven't gotten sick in a very long time, either. I think this is one of my beneficial super powers. I'm due a good one after getting shafted on not being able to sleep in and detecting ammonia. Not getting sick is pretty great, because you know how much it sucks when you have a cold? I don't, because I can't remember. I sneeze sometimes, but sneezing is pretty fun. I wish I could sneeze on command. But I'm not stuffy, I'm not drowsy and I don't have a sore throat. Mario's Starman has got nothing on me.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

So long EDT

Last night we switched back to Eastern Standard Time, unless you live in some backwards place like Iowa or New Mexico where they use Goofy Time. Daylight Saving Time is pretty ridiculous, when you think about it. The best thing about the whole ordeal is right now, when you get the hour back. Is it really worth all this hassle to borrow an hour from April and pay it back in November? I think I'd rather have the hour in April, since the weather is way better.

Also, there is only one "S" in saving. Many people erroneously call it Daylight Savings Time, and this practice simply has to stop. As crazy as it sounds, I think Indiana had the right idea, and recently fell into the practice of the rest of us sheep. During my stay in the Hoosier State, that part was pretty nice -- never having to switch the clocks. I do miss that. We're back on EST now, so things are right with the world, timewise, until the spring.

Monday, October 29, 2007

That figures

Oh man, guys, I need to apologize to you folks. I had this really great story about how I found this pen at work that had this really hilarious note on it -- it was waterproof. What kind of pen is waterproof? In what context would that possibly be useful? Is it like an astronaut pen for scuba divers? I could only imagine someone in a sinking submarine trying to write a note warning the people who discover the wreckage of the giant squid that swallowed the propeller, realizing he had a Bic, and then swearing (sailors swear a lot), wishing he had my pen.

I found myself outside with the pen and your run of the mill Post-It pad, trying to write something down. I don't remember why I was outside writing things down, but that's not the point; the point is, it was raining. What a glorious coincidence! I was oddly outside writing things down in the rain with a waterproof pen! It seemed to work ok, but afterwards it started to crap out. I threw the pen away today. So who would make an outlandish claim about having a waterproof pen, and then have it not be true? That'd be like a pot manufacturer saying that you can use their saucepan upside-down on the burner and get the same results when you boil your spaghetti. Why would you even bother making such a statement?

The problem, though, is that I can't find a link to this pen. It's a Vivo Microfine, one of those wacky ballpointers that looks almost like it's a felt tip. It's black (I refuse to use any pen that is not black [unless it's red, and then only in certain cases; the point is that blue ink was invented by terrorists]), has a nice grip, and nice balance. I like the pen. But it isn't waterproof! I haven't felt this cheated since that time I read a Shakira interview where she said that she wanted to sound like Led Zeppelin.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Hey guys, what is?

I hate when people use phrases that are shortened to the point of incompleteness. I am not talking about the now mainstream internet lingo, like IDK, my BFF Jill?, which is its own brand of infuriating. I am talking about when people say things like, "I am on my way to grab a vegan spring roll and a mineral water. Would you like to come with?" My opinion of ending things with prepositions notwithstanding, this is the sort of sentence that would make want to cause as much offense as possible: by walking away without even answering the question and ordering a hamburger at the nearest, greasiest location that served one. Then kicking a nearby dog for good measure.

There are others, too. See you in a few. A few what? Seconds? Days? I know you are probably thinking something along the lines of, "That's clearly context related, Engineer." You know what else is context related? Your face. How is that better than saying, "See you in a few minutes," or "See you in a bit," which is the same length. Or, if you're really that lazy, "See you"? That removes the completely ambiguous and unnecessary statement of "a few." My seventh grade biology teacher used to say, "No naked numbers!" and this reminds me of that. She said she meant that we were to always include unites with our numbers, but I always thought that she secretly was just a little prudish and wanted to repress 4's sexuality. I'm not going answer these people until they tell me with whom or a few what. Finish your sentences, jerks.

I never really got on board with calling Ultimate Frisbee just "Ultimate" either. I feel like that would be like calling Super Mario Brothers "Super." [Don't misunderstand me: I'm not saying that Super Mario Brothers isn't super; I am saying it should be called "Mario."] I really hate things that are described by their modifier rather than the modified word. Consider this example: if someone offered you a peanut butter and milk, you would probably say, "What, like on a stick?" But you'd be missing out, because he really meant peanut butter cookies, and it wouldn't be your fault! Nobody calls peanut butter cookies just peanut butters, or pound cake pound. How come Ultimate Frisbee gets this exception? I don't have time to ponder this question, because I have to go in a few. Hey, do you want to come with? No? Well, I hope you keep reading How.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Make the first one count

Hey, you know what? Ice cream is pretty great. I don't know who is responsible for it, wikipedia says it's both the Mesopotamians and the Chinese in the same article, but I always heard it was the Chinese. (You know, in that same sentence with noodles and paper and fireworks. But you know what they didn't invent? Whiskey. My people handled that one. You're welcome.)

There is one problem that I have, though. You know how the first time you scoop ice cream it comes out so wonderfully, like, well, cream? That is a pretty difficult to surpass dessert experience. There are a few that come close: first bite of fresh cookies, Oreos dunked in chocolate, and throwing a pie at a drifter. But after the ice cream has been in the freezer for a few days, it is not nearly as glorious. In fact, it is hard and barely a cream at all.

There are a few possible remedies, and none of them are particularly good. You can heat up your spoon, but that's only a temporary solution. You can lower the temperature of your freezer, but then you run the risk of having ice cream that's too creamy or cherry popsicles that look like they're crying blood. I think the sanest answer is to get a soft serve machine in my living room next to my couch.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Rollercoaster... I hate that song.

I feel I must apologize again for my low output lately. My life has been a series of ups and downs, each down more up than the last, and vice versa. But don't you for a second think I'm going to complain about my life or job on How Observant. I hate blogs like that. If you really gave a damn what was going on in my life you'd call me or something. You didn't, so let's not waste any time. I'm pretty sure I made a promise early on in the life of this blog that I wouldn't talk about garbage like that. I observe in entertaining fashion, hence the title.

I was reminded about one of my chief missions just as I was sitting down for this entry, in fact. One of those stupid AT&T commercials came on -- the Wes Anderson ones where he lives in New Hautelantaugustemson -- and it occurred to me that I need to cover some of those terrible, terrible commercials that are out there again. Wes Anderson, although I am rather fond of his movies (and usually his commercials) did not have a hit with this series. His American Express commercial cracked me right up, though.

The good news for Mr. Anderson is that he's not alone right now. I think a the top of the list, undoubtedly, is Wendy's. There is always a one character doing something absurd while wearing the Wendy's crayon red hair. And, you know, absurdity is sometimes good ("Find the Fish" anyone?) but these people suck at it. Just show us your square hamburgers and be done with it. Kicking trees, playing the didgeridoo in a freezer and turning into a non-blue Veruca Salt just isn't getting the job done. These commercials make me want to go to McDonald's. Ponder that one.

Also, Best Buy. There is a commercial where the customer and the salesman are discussing HDTV, and they are not talking in complete sentences. At one point, the customer says that he likes cowboy explosions, and that's pretty awesome. I can't think of a movie that couldn't be improved with cowboy explosions. Maybe Phantoms.

I do feel the need to give some positive remarks to Geico, though. They parlayed a successful commercial series into a television program. And they have another awesome series right now, with Lauren Wallace (who is made of lightning), the cousin of Mike Wallace. I love those commercials. Take a note, Wendy's, and see what a real commercial looks like.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

How un-e-harmonious

Internet dating is turning into a pretty serious deal these days. Some of them try to trick you, like OkCupid, which lures you with obnoxious internet quizzes that they try to pass off as memes, but in order to be a meme, people have to actually recognize the concept they're spreading. But as it turns out, OkCupid is an internet dating site.

I don't get it. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but the whole concept seems ludicrous. Efficient, but ludicrous. Here is my description, as I understand internet dating, separated conveniently by gender.

: sadly browse profiles, skipping entries without pictures, picking one that sounds like she'd be willing to sleep with him with minimal effort, sends out 30 messages to the most likely candidates, browse over to his favorite Star Trek themed pornographic website.

Women: cry, watch Sex and the City, write a profile underexaggerating age and weight while overexaggerting intelligence and culture, post a picture from 7 years ago, be sure to mention how much fun and blond she is, wonder if the guy who just sent her a message could be The One, feed cats.

The event that prompted me to write this post was a commercial I saw for They are one of these web-based dating services, that has E-harmony in its sights (sites?). Even though E-harmony commercials are annoying, I don't think chemistry's tack is the right one here. They typically show a person who reads a list of inoffensive qualities (one person forgot Earth Day, another was gay, another was a Goth or some other lifestyle that takes themselves way too seriously) in an effort to sort out why they were rejected by E-harmony. I guess it could just be my prejudices, but I don't think I want to subscribe to an internet dating service that caters to the rejects of another internet dating service. That's like getting the meal of stuff that wasn't quite good enough to make it onto Taco Bell's menu. No quiero.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Shattering taboos, one pair at a time

I just got some new underwear this weekend, and I must say, I am completely pleased. I have been wearing underwear for a while now, and I'd like to think I'm pretty good at it. (Although, occasionally I do make mistakes. Once, more recently than I'd like to admit, I put my boxers on backwards. The urinal was completely off limits that day.) There are times that I'd like to mention things about underwear, but for whatever reason, underwear is pretty sexualized. I think that's a bit extreme. It'd be like saying that a guy who climbs Mount Everest once is a big time mountain climber. I've spent a lot of time with science, I want to see some repeatability, killer.

I would probably say that for the average person, underwear's day to day role is much less sexual than the media would lead us to believe. I'm pretty sure it's mostly so you keep sweat and stuff off your real clothes. And to let you have a chance to wear something that has dollar signs on it. (Sadly, I don't actually have money boxers. I wish I did.)

I might have underwear questions. And they might not be sexual in nature. Like, for example, what's the deal with the hybrid boxer-briefs? There is no way that they seem competitive with the full-on boxer shorts. Also, are the people who are wearing briefs later in life just afraid to try something new? How many people try boxers, but decide they hate freedom and go back? I want statistics on that. But this isn't polite conversation. Even though asking something like, "Do my cutoffs go with this blazer?" might be a little less controversial.

This is to say nothing about the feminine sorts of underwear. But they seem even more sexualized. Bras, for example. There are some girls who probably could get on without them, but they still insist on it. Is that because of social pressure? An excess of pride? A safeguard against turning into a human thermometer? You can't ask that question out loud.

And I think that's bunk. I would like to know what sorts of personal decisions go into electing between boy shorts and panties for girls. Is it similar to the issues weighed for boxers and briefs with guys? Or is it usually a sexualized decision? How often to girls top and bottom underwears match? That doesn't even come up with us! (Actually, I guess I only speak for those of us who are not transvestites.)

I think the biggest question is about the boxer-briefs. The more I think about it, it seems like the worst of both worlds. And is it really necessary to put those douchey looking underwear models on the cover of every underwear package? I know what it's supposed to look like.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Wow, he's fat and he sucks (No, I'm not talking about Michael Moore)

I don't really like to talk about sports much, but I dislike Notre Dame just enough to pile on a little. This school decided that they should cut Ty Willingham loose after three years (the general rule of thumb for a college coach is four) and built Charlie Weis a giant treasure chest full of money and fried chicken, and it turns out that he's just not that good of a coach.

For those of you not so sports inclined, it would be like if a major movie studio that nobody likes, like Universal or Fox, decided in 1992 to invest a ten year contract in Kevin Costner. That's right after Robin Hood and Dances with Wolves, which made him gigantic, after he had a string of big movies with things like No Way Out, Field of Dreams and Bull Durham. At first it would look pretty good, because Tin Cup was fun, JFK was big and so was The Bodyguard. After that, though, people started noticing that he's not a terribly talented guy. He has a very Keanuish approach to line delivery (which reminds me -- I finally saw the third Matrix and it was awful. I would have rather watched a movie about a school full of monkeys competing in track and field) and is getting old, so you're not even going to get the women in their early thirties going to see movies he's in because he's in them. People in their early forties don't go out as much to the movies.

On top of being not talented, he started making movies like Waterworld and the Postman and 3000 Miles to Graceland. Not exactly the Untouchables, there Kevin. Then again, he had Sean Connery and Robert DeNiro in that movie with him, so it wouldn't be hard to pretend you can act a little around them.

So, Notre Dame is stuck with Charlie Weis and he just made Waterworld. Ty Willingham at least looks like he's improving, rather than claiming to be somebody who could outscheme anybody and literally being last in total offense. Kevin Costner wasn't that big of a bastard. His offense hasn't scored a touchdown yet. It's been three weeks! Is there anything funnier than laughing at arrogant people getting their comeuppance? I submit that there is not.

Monday, September 10, 2007

It's not quite a love poem, but they are tubers, after all

Sometimes when I perform an activity that I had not done for a long time, I am reminded at how wonderful that experience was and get angry with myself for not doing it more often. Watching Wayne's World is one of them. I love Wayne's World; both the movies and the SNL sketch. But I can't remember the last time I watched any of them.

I made mashed potatoes with dinner tonight. They were glorious. I don't know why I don't eat them multiple times a day. I don't know why this was the first time I've done it since I moved to Augusta. I hate myself a little for not eating them more. You know how sometimes you eat an entire five pound bag of fun size Snickers bars and then, bloated and hurting inside, wonder why you did that? It's like that, except the complete opposite. I want to invite them to my wedding. (For food, although making mashed potatoes a groomsman is not completely out of the question.)

I am now going to make short list of Chuck Norris style quotations expressing my opinions of mashed potatoes.
  • They should give heroin addicts mashed potatoes instead of methadone, that would eliminate drug addictions everywhere.
  • If Blowpop made a mashed potato flavored lollipop, we'd still be hearing about them.
  • At football games, they should sell mashed potato hats like they sell beer hats. I would buy two.
  • In Soviet Russia, potatoes mash you!
  • I am going to start dipping instant mashed potatoes, when the real thing is unattainable.
  • When I die, I hope it's a mob hit where I am fitted with cement shoes and thrown into a vat of butter mashed potatoes to sleep with the chives.
  • The Egyptians should have built the pyramids out of mashed potatoes.
  • In the future, instead of butter I will top my mashed potatoes with mashed potatoes.
Let me know if you have any others to add.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

He's probably a three monther

I'm sure you've probably heard somebody say, "She's a twenty-footer," meaning this hypothetical she looks rather attractive from any distance, so long as it's greater than twenty feet. Thirty feet, for example. I personally don't like this scale, because it kind of breaks down for good looking people, the kind of people at whom one would actually enjoy looking. What do you say when you meet someone who is actually hot? She's a one incher? Do we get into microscopic scales? I hope not, because the only way that could be lamer would be to say, "She's a 9.314159."

A friend of mine proposed using poker hands to describe the relative attractivity of girls, but it didn't really catch on, unfortunately. The beauty of this system is that two pair may sound low, but you typically bet on a two pair. There's a very high ceiling; like the girl in your class might be really hot, and so you could say she's a full house. And that's almost a no lose situation. I think someone like Maria Sharapova would be somewhere like four of a kind. How many straight flushes have you seen in real life? One maybe? See how perfect a system this was?

Anyway, Fred Thompson just announced that he's running for president. I give him about three months before he blends into the noise. This looked like a really compelling group of candidates early in the election. But now that we get to spend time with them, they all look horribly, horribly flawed. We are already within the time range for like all of them. Except Thompson. We'll see how long that goes.

All right, if I'm going to bring up these scales, I think I owe you a picture, possibly to illustrate. Keeping with the tennis theme, I present a possible new tennis crush, Ana Ivanovic, who is at worst, a king high flush.
This makes me a little bit uncomfortable, though, because this is the first celebrity crush who is younger than me. I'm feeling old. But I have a blog, and that makes me hip, right?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I only have so many shrimps

I can't remember if I wrote this already. I hope I didn't. I've been thinking about it a while and with all the drama of starting work and finishing with school I can't remember and I am far too lazy to go too far back and check. If it is a repeat, yell at me and I'll get you another post, lickety-split. Or in two shakes of a lammy's tail, whichever is faster.

I like to eat things that have other things in them. Like pastas with chicken or seafood, cereals with marshmallows or shrimp and garlic sauce, that staple of Chinese restaurants that have pictures for menus. It's a pretty convenient menu system, when you think about it, and I still think it's a little bit funny that they always have pictures of spareribs on them. Spareribs just aren't the sort of thing that I think of as Chinese food. Even though I'm told that there is not that much that is "Chinese" about it. Funny how Americans can remake the food culture of a country with a billion people into their own. We are such an awesome people, I wish I were something else so I could choose to become American.

When I eat those things, though, I like to have a relatively even distribution of the things that are in the thing. I try to spread out the things throughout the meal because I hate having the
the last bite of any meal not have a bite of the special ingredient. The Chicken Alfredo is called that because of the chicken, the shrimp and garlic sauce has the same deal, and where do you think all the luck in the Lucky Charms come from? If I wanted bites of Alfredo, I would have ordered it without the chicken. If I wanted to eat Lucky Charms without the marshmallows, I would crumble pieces of my cork bulletin board off into a bowl of milk. And I don't want that.

Also, eating two shrimp in one bite is completely unacceptable. That would be a completely irresponsible decision. Occasionally a bite with no shrimp or chicken may be required, but so long as there are pieces left for later bites. Mostly, I think people who want to eat all their shrimp right away are sociopaths. Those are the kinds of people who, like the foolish grasshopper, eat all of their food in the spring. I, like the wise ant, store a little bit for the winter so I can enjoy shrimp throughout the entire meal. And it was delicious.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The radio is the window to the soul

Since I have very little patience for the foolish whimsy of today's youth's taste in music, I usually have a classic rock station on one of the presets in my radio. In each place that I have lived, there has been a go to song or a couple of songs that get way too much airplay. Any song by Styx would fit in here (yes, even Mr. Roboto -- Dennis DeYoung is a crazy person, by the way).

Back home in the VC, they played a lot of George Thorogood. He's a pretty tough rocker who made the Bo Diddley Beat famous to a whole new generation (Bo Diddley's Who Do You Love is way better, but of course, saying that the original blues song by a black guy is better than the white boy cover is like saying "I prefer the smell of cinnamon to that of flaming skunks"). He's also from Delaware, which just doesn't really jive with the image of Bad to the Bone, does it? Do they even have guitars in Delaware?

In the Haute, you could not get into the car and tune into 105.9 the River and not hear Jimi Hendrix's All Along the Watchtower. Oddly, Terre Haute had better taste in music than Daytona did, but as great as that song is, I don't want to hear it every time I get into the car. Clemson had an overabundance of the Eagles, but that thesis will be mentioned in a minute. Augusta seems to have a few issues: too much REO Speedwagon and a lot of Cocaine. Don't get me wrong, I love Slowhand, but one time I ate 15 peanut butter and chocolate chip Chips Ahoy cookies and never wanted to look at cookies ever again. REO Speedwagon has no redeeming qualities -- within the context of this analogy, REO Speedwagon would be trying to eat seven pounds of black jellybeans.

I have been convinced in my time in Clemson (and extrapolated to the other places I've been) that you can always find and Eagles song playing on the radio no matter where you are. At every location within the United States, if you have a functioning radio, you can hear either Take it Easy, Desperado, or Peaceful Easy Feeling. Guaranteed. I used to like the Eagles, now I don't care if I ever hear Hotel California again. I could go for some of those cookies, though.

Why can't one of these stations develop a weird obsession with somebody different? Like the Yardbirds or Spencer Davis Group or Johnny Horton? Sink the Bismarck! definitely does not get enough airplay.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Nobody better lay a finger on my...

Man, I miss Butterfingers. The candy bar, I mean, not athletes who do their jobs poorly. This probably sounds like a strange sentiment, when you are probably thinking, "Why, Engineer, what has happened to Butterfingers? Have they been discontinued?" No, they have not. I actually had one like a month and a half ago. But it was not the glorious bite of tastular explosion that I recall when I was a little lad.

It was one of those things that I loved in every way. I always ordered Butterfinger blizzards from Dairy Queen. At Halloween, I traded for them. I wanted Butterfinger flavored shampoo. The only downside to this delectable delight was that it filled in all the nooks and crannies of your teeth with fake peanut butter. I think it was supposed to be peanut butter? But when you were done, your teeth were all flat. It was remarkable, really.

They have a real problem with consistency, though. I guess it has to do with shelf-life; some of them are everything you hoped for in a candy bar, sometimes they taste like orange poo. The one I had a month ago did not measure up to the expectations of my memories. I use the term "memories" a little loosely, because it was probably only like two years before that since I had one. Anyway, in my mind, Butterfingers have fallen from grace. Much like Jennifer Garner (re: Ben Affleck). I will never order a Butterfinger blizzard again, as I have graduated on to real peanut butter. I wish it were an actual graduation, so I could eat my mortarboard.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Man, I wish I had an English accent

I bought a new cell phone this week. I passed on the iPhone, because I came out of my giddiness about a device that's very seductive that I don't actually need for $600. Also, I spent a pretty hefty chunk of dollars on my move, and I'd rather buy a lot of other things for $600. Like a stereo receiver, rent or oreos. Maybe a Playstation 3. Anyway, I got a lame Nokia flip phone (although I love the flip aspect of it) from AT&T. I say lame because it's functionality is limited to pretty much phone and camera, and I haven't used the camera for anything. I'm pretty sure Ansel Adams would have his thumb over the shutter with this thing. I think it's the 6085 for those of you keeping score at home.

I chose AT&T/Cingular for two reasons: my entire family uses it, so I can talk to them for free and for their commercials, which are not only the best cell phone commercials, but possibly the best commercials on tv right now. Having the best cell phone commercials is not a terribly impressive feat right now. I think that seeing how much of my whisk I can swallow would be competitive with the Alltel commercials for entertainment value, Verizon (it's the network) deserves no further mention, and T-Mobil doesn't use CZJ anymore. I don't remember what the other ones are, and I would be shocked to find that any of you actually want me to offer a synopsis of bothersome commercials. They suck, let's just leave it at that.

I think I need to clarify: it's the AT&T wireless broadband commercials that are great. It's not quite cellphones, but it's close enough in my book. That English (maybe not really English) guy "sneaking" up on the internet is such a wonderfully simple commercial. "Dug a hole! Didn't have to dig a hole, really. I did it to prove a point." It wouldn't work without the accent, and I don't care. I would watch a half hour of this guy. It's a shame, really, because I don't need that product. I might get it just to reward their ad people, though. "In hole! In a tree! In a bush! Would you like tea with that download? Yes, please. Thank you." Maybe I'm just a simple guy, but there needs to be more of this commercial. And less of that fratastic Chad from Alltel.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Anybody know where I could find a Green Jacket?

Ok, I'd like to think that How Observant will become a little bit more regular now. (And funnier.) I am largely settled into my new place (minus the bed and furniture) and I am largely finished with my school. Work starts on Monday, but I won't be talking about work here. Because it's boring and because I can't. Anyway, please accept this link to a page full of kittens as my apology for not producing a lot of content over the last month or so. Also, Happy Preseason Football Season everybody.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening

I am mostly writing right now to record the events I have seen this evening so that tomorrow when I read them I can be sure they actually happened. You see, tonight is a bit of a surreal time for me. I am in the laboratory running a computer program I wrote for a class on three computers because they take way too long (I think I wrote them poorly, but that's not the point. They work, and because they work, I am going to be done with grad school). I will likely be here for a few more hours, and I am starting to have those bleary visions when you've had your contacts in too long and it looks foggy indoors. Also, I have had a mug of tea and a bottle of Vault, which I think is bad news GI-tractwise. I think perhaps 20 oz. of that stuff is too much for mortal men to consume in one sitting.

Anyway, I've been sitting here a while, playing a lot of Zuma as I keep an eye on my computers. I am going to save that Aztec frog if it's the last thing I do as a Clemson student. I have also made a few trips to the restroom (tea and Vault will go through you) and I feel the need to mention one of my neuroses that I don't think has come up: when I enter a stall, I don't like to see or be seen by anyone. I don't really know why, but I feel the need to be undercover when I'm behind closed doors. It's like Clark Kent's glasses, except more convincing.

You might think that this goal would be easy to achieve at 12:30 at night on a college campus during the summer on a Wednesday (Thursday?). It was not. Foreign graduate students tend not to buy (split infinitive narrowly averted) internet access at their apartments, because it is expensive. So at this time of night, you can find a lot of folks who have eaten way more rice than you probably ever will. While I have been waiting, one of my lab mates got into a shouting match in Chinese (I only know two words in Chinese, and I didn't hear either of them) and while in the bathroom, my cover was blown. I'm less concerned now about the fact that my cover was blown, but more along the lines of how I was detected in the men's room.

As I exited to wash my hands, there stood a Chinese graduate student over the sink with his head bent down. I caught it with corner of my eye (failure number one) and figured he was just washing his hair or face. If you spend a lot of time in the lab, a quick whore's bath isn't such a bad idea. Especially with this heat, I could probably use one by now. When I exited to wash my hands, though, I saw in more detail (and he saw me -- failures two and three) and he wasn't doing either of those things. He was shaving his head with what looked like a Gillette Mach 3. I have never watched anyone shave their head before, so I didn't really think about the role that shaving cream would play. But this soon to be bald Asian man was covered in it.

If this were an actual dream, I would have no idea what it would mean. Perhaps a preoccupation with the Chinese, since there was a lot of yelling in Chinese (which, interestingly, due to the intonation system makes many sentences sound like they are not really over when they stop talking) and a Happy Gilmore dream sequence surreal image. Hopefully, this insanity won't continue for too long.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Plurals are tricky. If you're a second grader.

South Carolina is Braves country. It's also chewing tobacco country, which is really unfortunate. For a long time, actually, the entire Southeast was the territory of the Atlanta Braves. Florida, my homeland, got two teams in the past 15 years -- the Marlins (for which there was some initial confusion if they'd be known as the Florida or Miami Marlins) and the D-Rays, who are one of the lovably awful teams in sports. Like the Cleveland Browns in football or the United States in the World Cup. But aside from the Florida teams, the Nationals are the nearest team to the Palmetto State, but Southern folk are still a little leery of stuff that comes out of Washington.

Since I am going to become a Georgian shortly (Go Tblisi!), I feel like I need to pay more attention to the Braves. They're doing alright, since they just mad a bunch of trades. There is something about trades that make sports more exciting, isn't there? Anything: marbles, baseball cards, and children are all made more exciting when trading is involved.

Here's the thing, though, one of the important stats in the game of baseball, is, of course, the run batted in. For those of you who are uninitiated, a run batted in (or RBI) occurs when the batter, when up to bat, hits or "bats" in a runner. If there are more than one runner on base, say two, for example, these are called runs batted in. Notice which word is pluralized. So, when the abbreviation is pluralized, it should be RBI. Not RBIs. When some sportscaster says, "Andruw Jones led the Braves with two RBIs" I want to reach through the radio, grab him by the lapels and criticize his grammar. The spelling of Andruw wasn't up to him, so I'll let that slide. RBI is like sheep; it does not change when plurals are involved.

Also, just in general, when prepositional phrases are involved, the pluralization doesn't happen after the preposition. Forces of nature, wheels of fortune, powers of attorney. I don't know why this is so complicated. It's not like we're talking about the begging the question logical fallacy here.

Anyway, I think I need to become a Braves fan.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

More important than the presidential debates

I have a question, and considering this weekend, it seems timely. Which television program would you say is more important in shaping American culture and comedy between Seinfeld and The Simpsons? Both are eminently quotable, enjoyed enduring success and have (or will) leave gaping crater in their time slot when they stop airing.

I think I have to say the Simpsons, due to its revival of the cartoon as a mainstream form of mature entertainment and social commentary. Seinfeld definitely has had a huge impact on what the bounds of a sitcom can be and had a number of guest stars that we all recognize (Teri Hatcher, Daphne from Frasier, James Spader, etc) but the Simpsons redefined what the role of a guest star is.

What do you think? Also, I think I owe it to many years of childhood to go see this movie this weekend. It just simply can't be bad.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Out of my brain on the 5:15

Hey guys, I wanted to offer a little bit of an explanation as to why the output has been down a little lately. I am so close to finishing up with grad school I could pee and hit it on the up-arc from here, and I don't want to be held up by much. I am taking a break right now because my eyes hurt and I'm pretty much at the end of my day. I might be back in the lab wondering if this decision was worth it when I just talked to a college buddy who's married with a kid and sounds the happiest I've ever heard him. Most of my thoughts have centered around Fortran, finishing my paper, and trying to decide if I want to trade down from the Sharp Aquos to the Vizio in order to better justify the purchase of an iPhone.

So, I cannot guarantee when the next update will come. But once I'm out of this mess, I can guarantee that they will be funnier. For example, I realize I have to shop for car insurance, and that means I have to negotiate the ever expanding field of the Geico Cavemen, Erin Esurance, and the guy the Unit/president from 24. That's got all sorts of hilarity potential right there. Will it really prove to be so easy a cave man could do it? Will I be won over by the sex appeal of a pink haired cartoon? Not if Jack Bauer's boss (ex-boss?) has anything to say about it. I don't know if he termed out or died or what.

Anyway, I'll try to get some good stuff out. I don't want to lose any more of my six (or was it five?) readers that I had before. Anyway, hope all you guys are staying awesome out there this summer. Word on the street is that there's a weekend coming up...

Monday, July 16, 2007

Ain't I a stinker? No.

I have been a little bit worried that my roommates would suspect that I was out there smelling badly. This is in part because I have been traveling a lot lately. I have visited such exotic locales in the past few weeks as Atlanta, GA; Greenwood, SC; Ormond Beach, FL; Augusta, GA; New Smyrna Beach, FL; and Aiken, SC. Atlanta was the first stop on this magical mystery tour, and I realized upon arrival that my deodorant opted not to make the trip. I think it might be tragically claustrophobic and afraid to spend time in my travel bag. I can only imagine the psychological horrors it feels once it is actually deployed.

I, of course, replaced the deodorant with a more adventurous one on the road. I wouldn't want to be an unwelcome guest in all of those places, and since I knew that once I got to my second destination (where the mosquitoes are) I would still have many more places to see I decided to get the Bear Grylls of deodorants, one completely unafraid of travel.

As I was touring the southeast, though, my other lonely deodorant was lying on my otherwise empty side of the bathroom sink. So, here in C-Town, my roommates (I can only presume) would look at my antiperspirant and say to themselves, "He must be pretty ripe by now." I feel I need to set the record straight: I wasn't. I immediately replaced it as soon as I discovered it missing.

This does raise a rather difficult question, though. Which one do I use now? Should I alternate days? Or underarms? Or maybe create a delightful cocktail of fresh sport and cool active to get the best of both worlds? Would they cancel each other out in that case? I think some experimentation might be in order.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Invented by Terrorists: Mosquitoes

Wherever you go, people complain about the mosquitoes. The thing is, they're all wrong, except the Floridians and swamp people. The rest of you should simply smile and say, "Man, I'm glad the mosquitoes here don't organize." We have union mosquitoes down here, and they are angry at the other mosquitoes for taking their jobs.

The people in Indiana seemed to think that they had bug problems. They don't. When I was a freshman, local Hoosiers used to try to tell me with a straight face that you wanted to be careful near woods in the summer time. I did the polite thing and did not laugh in their faces. Think of it like this: somebody from Buffalo comes to see you, and you tell him that you're expecting a harsh winter with a lot of snowfall. The guy from Buffalo takes you at face value and gets his snow shovel and ski jacket ready. Eight inches of snow falls, and the locals are crying "Woe is me." The guy from Buffalo goes to the store in shorts, and is irate to find out that the stores are closed because of the snow.

That's how I feel about mosquitoes. As far as I'm concerned, the mosquito population in Indiana has been eradicated. Spending some time in South Carolina, I started thinking, "Maybe these guys can run with the big boys." Then I came home yesterday. It had been a long time since I had been down here in the summer (about a year, go figure) and I had simply forgotten. Granted, the Palmetto State looks like Biblical Plagues compared to the Midwest, but it's like go-karts versus the Daytona 500 down here.

Part of it is the rain. It tends to rain very heavily very quickly almost everyday in the summer. That is the same thing for mosquitoes as a bottle blond yelling out "I'm drunk!" at a frat party. The douchebags all come out. So, I hadn't even been out of the car in the Sunshine State for fifteen minutes before I was assaulted. If mosquitoes were tigers, I'd be dead by now. Hell, if the mosquitoes were angry kittens I'd be ripped to shreds. The next time you complain about bugs outside of Florida or a swamp, you better be getting infected with some sort of disease. Just ask yourself, Which Side are you on?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

You win this round, ad men.

They've got me. I have no problem admitting it; the advertising has worked. When I first saw it, I didn't think I needed it. Now, I want it. I want an iPhone. I don't normally like trendy gadgets like this. I have never seen the need for a fancy cell phone, as I am using the Soviet Phone Mark II right now. I don't take pictures with my phone, because I'm not 13. I don't send text messages, because I'm not 13. I don't own an iPod, although I do like Apple's unconventional use of capitals in the middle of words. It reminds me of the Irish language. (For example, i mBĂ©arla means in English, and I like it when a word starts with a non capital followed by a capital. It keeps me on my toes, lingually.)

So, this phone does pretty much everything a device this size can. It also looks cool and sexy. Apple products are frequently described as sexy, which is the sort of thing that you typically use to describe Hollywood actresses, not electronics. Can an iPod inspire the same physical response as Natalie Portman? Probably not. (Maybe, if you're talking about the post head shaving scene in V for Vendetta.) Isn't that a funny use of the word, though? It's almost universal. Read any review of a Power Mac, iPod or iPhone. You're going to see sexy come up somehow.

I also like the fact that the iPhone has no buttons. There really isn't anything more aggravating than improperly sized buttons. The Soviet Phone is doing ok, because the phone is gigantic (in cell phone world). A lot of free ones are too small, which is problematic, since when you are trying to push (or mash, for our Southern friends) the number 3, you'll actually get 236 on your tiny lcd screen. Apparently, iPhone's tiny keyboard when you're sending e-mails or text messages (will this phone turn me around on this, assuming I buy it?) is smart enough to figure out what you mean even though you might not necessarily hit the right keys. I think that Marlo may have been a little early looking for a $700 phone at the end of May.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Things I don't really understand: Part I

I like to think of myself as a reasonably intelligent bloke. I try to read the newspaper, I like Wes Anderson movies, and I speak two languages. Three if you count l33t. But, as awesome as I am, there are a lot of things that come up of which I have no understanding. I'm not talking about things like why we care about Paris Hilton or how come people keep letting Larry the Cable Guy make movies. I mean simpler things. I'd like this to be a continuing series, but looking back at other potential continuing series, like Invented by Terrorists, I don't really have that many. Luckily, I haven't come across too many things that have the evil fingerprints of terrorists on them lately. Good news, everybody.

I will discuss a few of them that have been on my mind lately. Feel free to include some of your own.
  • Smoking. I hear it gives you a buzz and helps keep fat people thin, but think about the costs. It's expensive, makes you smell bad, and gives you cancer. The expensive and cancer part doesn't really affect me, so that's your business, but if you smell bad and get near me, I have to smell you. I don't want that. So, the moral of the story is don't smoke because I'd have to smell your stank.
  • Motorcycles. These are supposed to be fun and fuel efficient, but they're loud and the people who drive them drive like drunken chickens. You might be saying something like, "I have a motorcycle and I resent that!" If that's the case, I'm not talking about you. Unless you drive like a drunken chicken, in which case you should have been called out by someone else by now, jerk. Anyway, there are a lot of things you can do that are fun that doesn't impede me getting to the grocery store to buy milk and ribs. Boy, do I love milk and ribs.
  • Bumper stickers. Do you have a bumper sticker on your car? Why? Are you going to convince me to change my opinion on abortion with a line on the back of your Stratus? Or maybe you are proclaiming your support of the gay rights movement. A lot of folks like to put up the rainbow or the blue equal sign. That's all well and good, but what's the point in advertising that to people on the whom you're never going to see again on the interstate? Rarely do I have revolutionary socio-political realizations while driving. I'm usually trying to pass motorcycles.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Masterful Command of the Obvious (MCotO): My Microwave Oven

Sometimes when you start to heat up your hot pockets in the microwave, you can notice the LCD screen will give you information about what it's doing. It's usually something like "HIGH" to tell you what power level your little appliance is shooting radiation at your snack. Sometimes it's helpful; I'm sure that I have accidentally started regular power when I needed defrost. Really, those are the only two distinctions that are terribly necessary on this particular device. Are you going to freak out if you accidentally set your leftover pizza to "MED" instead of "HIGH"? Not really, because you can just cook it a little longer, unless you have a Monk-level case of OCD.

There are some other cases where it may be a little more serious. Popcorn, for example. Some people have a very specific time and setting at which their popcorn must be cooked. Understandable. This is not a problem with me, though; I worked at a movie theater in high school and now the smell of popcorn popping makes me coil into the fetal position while weeping and breaking out into hives. Although, if I ever am able to beat that, I would prefer my popcorn to be underpopped rather than overcooked.

The thing that caught my eye as I was reheating my delicious leftover stuffed shells (at the default setting, by the way) was that while the microwave was running, there is a little indicator that says "ON". Now, it's possible that I have a good deal more experience using microwave ovens than the rest of the population, but I happen to know that when the machine is running, it makes a sound and frequently activates a light that all serve as indicators that something is actually happening inside. I want to meet the guy whose idea it was to included that feature, and what explanation he gave as to its being necessary. Did they get letters asking, "When I put the food in, how do I know when the microwave is on?" I hope somebody stuck their head inside while it was running and prompted this.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I think that anyone who starts watching a television show or movie in the middle and has no problem in doing so is a sociopath. That's really the biggest weakness with the guide programs that come with cable and satellite these days: when you see something good that's already started, you can't just jump into it. At least I can't, because I'm not a sociopath. This does not extend to sporting events.

This is a neurosis that I think is a lot more rational than some of the others. Interrupting a story or a movie or a tv show is simply unacceptable. The entire picture must be taken as a whole. I know what you're thinking right now. "Where do you draw the line? Do you need to see it from the absolute beginning? What id you tune into a show that starts at 8 at 8:03? Do you simply watch nothing for half an hour?" And that's a good question. Let me explain.

Most shows begin with a cold opening, then show their introductory titles. Saturday Night Live is the most famous show that follows this format. When Darrell Hammond comes up as Chris Matthews interviewing Hillary Clinton pretending to be one of the Sopranos and concludes with deadpanning of "LIVE FROM NEW YORK, IT'S SATURDAY NIGHT!", that's the cold opening. The introductory titles are the cast credits with the sax music, then it goes to commercials. You have until the show comes back from commercials to start, or else the show is wasted. You can extend it until the start of the next commercials if it's an hour show. That's it, unless you've seen the episode before. Otherwise, you can't watch the show anymore. Or you're a sociopath. Your choice.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Personal Karma

Some time ago I institute a policy that if I saw a douchey looking guy with a girl who appeared out of his league, it was my obligation as an American and a human being to be a jerk to said guy to help him remain humble. It is my small way of trying to help balance out the universe. I'm only one man, but I think I can really make a difference.

I feel similarly about jobs when dudes get them who clearly don't deserve them. Like Ashton Kutcher (who fits in the first category as well) or Seth McFarlane. If I ever run into either of those people and they drop a pen, I am not going to pick it up for either of them. Also, I try not to laugh at their jokes and campaign against them. It's even worse when they suck at a job that I wish I had. Our buddy Seth has one, as does Scoop Jackson. I would feel a little bit better if they sat at home, crying into their poorly written tv scripts and sports columns, wishing they could be engineers. But it still doesn't make it ok.

The one who deserves it most, though, is Michael Moore. He's got that new movie Sicko coming out. I went to see Fahrenheit 9/11 in the theaters, and I felt like those people who first move to the United States and see that there's a way to win a free trip to Disney World and then it turns out it's a pyramid scheme or a cult recruitment or something. I was completely duped. It wasn't a documentary at all! He's a big fat liar. And I know that's a lazy joke, but it had to be done.

I don't like to get political in this space, and although this isn't completely politically motivated, it could be construed that way when I say this: don't go see that movie in the theaters. I'd encourage you not to rent it either, but if you must watch it, do so in a way that will minimize the amount of money that Moore will get from it. Because he's a manipulative filmmaker who claims to be a purveyor of fact. I have a higher opinion of Chad than I do manipulative filmmakers who claim to be purveyors of fact.

People like them, too. It's like the unpopular kids/jocks dilemma all over again. These people have convinced the public to like them even though they aren't really that talented. Punk'd? Come on, Ashton. Do you really need to apostrophize the e? And Seth, give it a freakin' rest already. And Michael. Oh, Micheal. You had such potential, but you just couldn't avoid being a big fat hypocrite. Yes, I went there twice.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

All your lint are trapped by us

I was doing a lot of laundry today, because if I didn't my next wardrobe choice would have to involve pillow cases in some way. That eventuality has been sidestepped, so now I will not be looking like a street urchin at church in the morning. I did make a few observations, though, as I was handling wet clothes. One was that clothes function much better when they're not wet. The invention of the dryer must mark a critical point in human evolution. The impact of having warm socks is enough to put this on like the level of drinking glasses. (I mentioned evolution and church in the same paragraph!)

I need to ask, though, is there anything quite as satisfying as rebalancing a washing machine that is way out of whack? I submit that there is not. Returning a washing machine into proper levels of whack must have been the equivalent of slaying a dragon to the 1950s housewife. Or finding a $5 bill on the way to a Braves baseball game. It's the small victories that excited the 1950s housewife. At least, that's what I'm assuming based on stereotypes and old television programs.

The thing, though, that raised (NOT BEGGED) the most questions was the lint trap. Were there dryers way back when that didn't have lint traps? What happened to the clothes dried in such a dryer? Did everyone walk around covered in lint? What did that look like? I hope it looked like this.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Moments of truth

The thing that I had scheduled to accomplish for the day in the lab turned out to be a dead end, so I took care of a few really exciting things: getting a haircut and another gallon of milk. There was another twist to this food gathering trip, though. Cereal. I have decided, after a lot of soul searching, that I enjoy shopping for cereal. I don't really like paying for it; I'm still convinced it's a bit of a ripoff. Bananas or eggs are for more cost effective, breakfastwise. However, eggs take a bit of effort in the morning and you can't relive your childhood with bananas. Unless you're from Costa Rica.

So, as I stroll through the breakfast aisle at the grocery store, I survey the dry goods before me: the bags of generic filth on the left (with names like Jolly-Os and Cocoa Bits), Pop Tarts on the right, and the premium breakfast foods all in between, I had to decide where on that spectrum my early morning desires lie. It was a tough choice, I did look at the bakery for cinnamon rolls as well, but I decided that there were only six of them and I'd either eat two a day and feel like a cow as I try to engineer things, or the last couple would taste like cinnamon flavored rocks. Although they sound like they have potential, that's not really for me. I had to pass, sadly. The Pop Tarts lost me immediately as they were out of the brown sugar cinnamon flavor. There are a few others that would suffice as a secondary, but it would have to be in conjunction with the BSC. No dice.

As I mentioned, cereals are a gigantic ripoff if they are not on sale. Honey Nut Cheerios, which may be my favorite cereal, cost like $18 a box. Unless I can dive into said box, Scrooge McDuck style, I'm just not willing to pay what that cereal costs. There were a few possibilities on sale, though, which would test my mettle. You see, there are healthy cereals which do taste good, and there are sugary sweet cereals which taste amazing. There's an upper ceiling for oats, while the deliciousness of marshmallows in milk knows no bounds. So, I was presented with a dilemma: get something good for you, like Special K or Smart Start, or something just good, like Lucky Charms or Cookie Crisp.

(Also, did you know that they have a chocolate Lucky Charms? I can only imagine what went on in the lab where they made that cereal. "Sir, our experiments to make sugar coated sugar have failed." "Blast, we need to figure out a way to add sweetness to our cereals. Think about the children! All those kids, missing out on all that potential tastiness." "Sir! We've done it! Chocolate Lucky Charms?" "You mean making the marshmallows chocolate?" "No, the healthy parts." "BRILLIANT!")

I toyed with the idea of being responsible and getting Smart Start. But they came in varieties which I don't think apply to me -- should I have gotten the antioxidants or healthy heart kind? I was paralyzed at that point. So I looked over at Special K, which has red berries and also a chocolate variety. I have red berries now, and I have been pretty happy with it. I'll keep it in mind. Then, on sale for the same price, were the 'Charms and the 'Crisp. I caved. I got the Lucky Charms. I had to, really. It had Spiderman on the cover and I've kind of been wanting Lucky Charms for a long time. And besides, they're magically delicious.

I didn't get the chocolate ones. I don't think I could have handled it, I'm not 6 anymore. But tomorrow morning, while I'm eating them, I can pretend!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

I see now, baseball is a metaphor for life. It's boring.

This is baseball season, unfortunately. We are in the wasteland of sports that is the summer, and although there are folks who are probably excited about tomorrow night's NBA playoff game, I'm sure it'll pass. I watched some of the NCAA baseball tournament today, and the vile Mississippi State Bulldogs ended the noble Clemson Tigers' quest for a national title this afternoon. But I finished following it on the radio. If you have read any of my work, you know I have rather strong opinions about the commercials. (I write this as if I expect somebody new to come across this page today.) I did see a Sonic commercial I did enjoy the other day, involving some uncertainty as to whether or not one of the characters knows how many letters there are in the standard Roman alphabet. (That's our alphabet, by the way.)

I was going to take this in the direction about how annoying commercials on the radio are, even more so than on television because you don't get the odd Geico or Sonic commercial that makes the whole free tv worthwhile. (Apparently, it costs like thirty bucks to get a commercial on the radio, because they make Alltel look preferable. [Actually, that's not true. Alltel is still much worse.]) I realized, though, as I was getting ready to write about the commercials on radio, that my life was pretty hollow right now. Like those delicious, delicious Easter bunnies.

I was also given a depressing description of the way life goes. I described my days as spending some time in the lab, coming home and talking to folks online afterwards while occasionally watching Law & Order. My mom basically said that's how life goes, except I'll have more money then. You know what? No dice. I don't want to be that guy who wears shirts and complaining about mortgage rates. I want to be the guy who wears shirts and talks about how I wish I were born in the 1820s so I could wear monocles and top hats. If my life were boring, then my blog were boring. Then I would be wasting your time, wouldn't I? I have an obligation to talk about the 1820s rather than mortgage rates, and it's a responsibility I don't take lightly.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Come and get your intense, passionate hatred

I can't take it anymore. I just can't. Every time I see a commercial for Alltel, it makes me hate the hate the Jacksonville Jaguars. Chad, the personification of Alltel, goes on wacky misadventures with the personifications of Cingular, Verizon, T-Mobil and Sprint, and of course, Chad always comes out on top, with the other folks coming off as big nerds. Except, the problem is those misadventures are so inane and the plots make so little sense and Chad is so unlikeable that it's really fortunate for Chad and my desire not to sleep in jail that my super powers don't include the ability to murder with my thoughts.

The most recent one, I think, is where a woman finds Chad on the street and asks him about the plan and then a van pulls up with the four stooges and confronts her about leaving them with her kidnapped pug, Fluffy. Except (plot twist!) it's not her dog, it's some large burly looking man (playing on the femininity of the dog and its name) who chases the four of them away. There are a few questions this raises (note: it does not beg it): why are the four other companies working together, why does Chad wear his hair like that, and who is this burly guy and why would they think his dog belonged to this woman? I hate these commercials so much it makes my teeth boil.

There are others, of course. One involving a "What level dungeon master are you?" "Dungeon masters don't have levels! (snort) Dork." Which on its face is fine, except until this point in the series, we haven't established that the four should be considered as nerds in the sense. It's just a non sequitur that looks like it's trying to hard to be funny. Which it clearly isn't. This exchange follows some pinching. Or precedes it. What difference does it make. There's also something involving slamming a laptop shut, but that's in another commercial.

I still can't figure out why there are so many bad commercials out there, and beyond that, bad commercial series. I can't honestly be the only person who hates that. If any of you say, "Hey, I like those commercials and/or Chad!" then you don't deserve to vote. I don't think I'm being too harsh. Alltel might be approaching Taco Bell levels of obnoxiousness. And truthfully, I'm kind of astonished I lasted this long before complaining about this. Oh good, look what's on tv now: a Taco Bell commercial. It is a good thing I can't murder with my thoughts.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

317 days

I like to think of myself as a reasonably cultured individual, as much as I can be considering I was born in the United States to parents who aren't dukes and in a city without an opera house. I have a pretty solid understanding of foods and what sorts of meals are good ideas in certain cases and I know enough about wines and liquors not to look stupid (for example, Wild Turkey bourbon is not actually made out of wild turkeys). I'd read a couple of books (no, they weren't comic books) and I've seen a lot of movies, many of them "old fashioned" types. I own more than one movie made before 1950 on purpose. However, there are gaping holes in my movie watching that are egregious, and I feel like I need to atone for that in an oddly public way. These are movies that I have never seen, in order of decreasing egregiousness.
  1. Die Hard. I have never seen a single Die Hard movie. Ever. Any of them. I have never seen Bruce Willis walk across broken glass, my exposures to Alan Rickman are limited to Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Dogma, and as a result, my standard for action movie series is Lethal Weapon. Now Danny Glover is a communist, Mel Gibson is a racist while Bruce Willis is still busy being hardcore. Where did I go wrong?
  2. Rocky. Again, I have never seen any of them. No running up the steps in Philadelphia, no "Adrian!" and no Dolph Lundgren (who went to Clemson, by the way)/Mr T/Burgess Meredith. It took me a while to understand the "It's over Rock!" "It ain't over, just get me something to drink" Lipton Iced Tea commercial (I had to use context clues). It was, as a result, hard to get excited about Rocky Balboa. I almost feel like I'm still just a boy since I haven't seen one of these.
  3. Psycho. Everybody everywhere knows about the shower scene, the staccato strings and the amazing cinematography to imply the stabbing. It's like grown to be part of our collective culture, and I'm pretty sure if you were to go to a foreign country and make the "Rhee! Rhee! Rhee!" sound, they would answer back with (insert vaguely racist stereotype of a foreign language) "Ah, Psycho!" but they probably wouldn't understand why the p is there. And it's Alfred Freaking Hitchcock. If he had just made this movie he would have been a legend. Or The Birds. Or Vertigo. Or Rebecca. But he made all of them. And, interestingly enough, I haven't seen any of them, either. (I have seen Rear Window and Dial M for Murder, though.)
  4. Caddyshack. I know it's about golf and considered one of the funniest movies out there, like on the level of Animal House or something. I own Animal House, so I have that one covered. But something involving gophers or sprinklers or both, and I feel like I need to rectify this one, probably more than some of the ones above it. I just can't put this higher than Psycho, and the first two are like 8 movies, so they earn their spot simply by proliferation.
  5. Fast Times at Ridgemont High. All I really know about this movie is that Cameron Crowe made it and it has one of the most famous nude scenes ever. Phoebe Cates removing her bikini top to Moving in Stereo. She's married to Kevin Kline now. Wouldn't it be weird to be married to a sexual icon like that? I wouldn't know where to begin imagining that, since I've never seen the movie. I heard it [the movie] wasn't that good though.
  6. Harry Potter. I haven't seen any of the movies or read any of the books. And I put this one last because I don't care. Everyone around me seem to be freaking out about it all the time. This also revives the Alan Rickman component of this, who I wish was in more stuff. (I have also seen him in Something the Lord Made and Galaxy Quest, two movies which makes me want to rephrase: I wish he was in more stuff I actually want to watch.) It also sort of revives the nudity component, because I hear that the kid who plays Harry appeared naked in a play involving a horse somehow. Also, I think it's kind of funny that every pedophile in the country is counting down to the girl in the movie's 18th birthday. I, for one, have no idea how many days it is until then. I'm not putting a picture of her up, because that's just too creepy.
I feel like I have my work cut out for me, and those are only the ones I could think of off the top of my head right now. I own a few movies that I've never actually watched, but they don't quite look like they will make the list. (One of them is Battlefield Earth.) I did finally see the Da Vinci Code movie, but I still haven't read the book. It was ok. And I never know what to say about it, because I heard from somebody I trust that it was a terribly written book and then I hear people say that it was really well written, and it makes me wonder if those people are stupid. I guess it could also be that they are just egregiously missing out on very important cultural touchstones, so that good writing isn't judged by Dan Brown any more than good action flicks are judged by Lethal Weapon.