Wednesday, February 28, 2007

I write about the bathroom oddly often

There is something about urinals to me that is inherently funny. Like zebras. It's basically a sink held up on its side into which I pee. It's so elegantly simple, but such an unusually shaped device and it carries a lot of baggage. Do you think it would be appropriate to strike up a conversation with someone you barely know about a urinal? (Exception: while drinking in a bar.) And why not? I don't know if I know you (but chances are, I probably d0), but I'm going to talk about urinals now.

This applies to regular toilets too, but why is it that we always seek out the cleanest one for use with urination? I can understand twosies or if you're a girl, but I realize that if there's a cigarette butt or some other contaminant in the bottom of the urinal and/or toilet, it's not getting anything out of me. I wish I could tell you why; it's not like pee is fragile, or a dirty urinal will return fire or something. I guess it's just that I subconsciously think I'm so awesome that even my toilets need to be clean for me to use them. Fortunately, I've never run into a situation where all of them were dirty. That could be uncomfortable.

There are also some urinals which are floor length, in addition to the sideways sinks. They're like the luxury ones, because they seem so decadent. There's no particular advantage from the user's point of view for having the urinal be that long, other than it's easier to avoid the splashback. I think the primary reason is that it becomes harder to miss the urinal. If you've ever worn flip-flops to the bathroom, though, you know how big an issue splashback can be if you're not careful. In fact, one of my engineer buddies and I once discussed a flow solution for urinals to make splashback (and, additionally, flushing) a thing of the past, but I think it would be kind of excessive.

I'll bet if you asked somebody what urinal pose they prefer, you'd get a surprisingly forthright answer. Some people go for the Leaner, where the body makes a right triangle with the wall and floor. There is also the Straddle, which all but eliminates inaccuracy but makes splashback disastrous. The counterpoint is the Marksman, where the user is about a foot away and aims for the cup part of the urinal -- splashback is never an issue but accuracy can be. This one works better with the floor length. For the particularly daring, you can do the Flying V, so named by the shape of one's legs during execution. Hang upside down from the two partitions separating the neighboring urinals and aim downwards.

Sometimes you find yourself looking into a trough that the establishment has asked you to use for your liquid waste needs. It's a strange feeling, because it's kind of fun since it's a different sort of vessel than you use on an everyday basis, but it's also a little dehumanizing since you're going at the same time as one or two other guys right next to you. You don't have the Dave Barry Rules of Separation with troughs. Although, one time I was oddly proud that while going I outlasted two cycles of guys coming through. It was like a 180 second session.

I recently visited an establishment that had a urinal without a lever for flushing, but it didn't have standing liquid in it either, so I imagine it flushed on its own time. I didn't really witness an actual flush, so it's only speculation. I mentioned my observation to those in my party, which led to a conversation that led to me thinking about this post, and one of the guys basically thought by putting some of this information out there I would be doing a service for the female readers in helping them understand a little bit about urinals. I hope this goes towards that noble endeavor.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Words and phrases that need to be used more often

Some of you might know that I am an advocate of some things, like Scrubs and Limeade. I think I need to start advocating underused words, in an effort to encourage others and generally improve our culture as a whole. I don't really feel like I need any credit; just being a part of something this big is reward enough.

I think the age of "Dude" has passed. I think we should look to our glorious history of placeholder words and revive "Cat" in this context. As in, "That cat over there just ordered the goulash." It makes me feel classy, like Sammy Davis Jr., every time I use it. What's classier than a cat a member of the Rat Pack and frequently parodied by Billy Crystal? Nothing.

Also, "No dice." It appears in Summertime Blues, so this also has a little mileage to it. However, I feel like it's been sufficiently rested to get some action again. The usage of this one, in case you don't know, is a little bit versatile; it can be an alternative to "No way" as in, "Would you like to help me with my beekeeping? My last partner got stung to death." --"No dice." Another usage is "It doesn't work." or "It was unsuccessful." Example: "No dice on setting up the vodka distillery at the church." The possibilities are endless!

Did we forget about "Bangerang"? It was a catchphrase from Hook, which I don't think got a lot of traction when it first debuted, but now, like a fine cheese, I think is ready for air. It is, of course, an exclamation declaring a positive reaction. Here is how you can work it into everyday conversation: "I can't believe it! I just got laid off!" --"Bangerang!" (if it's a guy you don't like) or "I just won a free movie rental with this scratch off ticket! Bangerang!"

I'm invoking a pair of classics. Some of you cats can offer some suggestions of your own, to modern this up a little. I look forward to some good ones. No dice if you suggest something that sucks, though.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

I'm a little Lost

Whenever I watch television, I see commercials for a lot of shows that I have never seen, since I only watch like 4 programs. Here is a list of the ones I do watch: How I Met Your Mother, Studio 60, Boston Legal and Scrubs. There are a few others that I do watch, but they are due to proximity to those shows. Considering this list, there are, naturally a lot of shows I don't watch. Like CSI, and The Unit, for example. The Unit has probably the funniest name of any show on these days. Way funnier than Will & Grace, for example.

One of those shows that I see ads for all the time that I've never actually seen is one that is apparently rather popular with the kids these days -- Lost. I understand there's a polar bear involved, but that's really the extent of my knowledge. A couple of folks I know make a really big deal out of it, and but it really doesn't sound like the sort of show I could just jump into now. A few people have tried to convince me to pick up season one and catch up and join in, as if they were recruiting me to join a cult. I haven't felt this much pressure since The DaVinci Code came out. The thing is, what if I do decide to give it a watch, and I think it sucks? I've been told by someone whose literary opinion I respect that the DaVinci Code is a terribly written book. A sort of NSync in written form -- catchy, but ultimately without artistic merit.

Truthfully, I have no idea about Lost. (Other than the polar bear, I mean.) I don't know if it's a brilliant show or another iteration of something dumb but popular like Hee Haw. I guess there may be a little bitterness, since one of my shows is getting canceled. The Black Donnellys is looking like it will replace Studio 60 next week, and it gets a chance because the theme song includes bagpipes. That's a general rule of mine -- bagpipes gives chances. My guess, though, is that the people who watch Lost won't be watching The Black Donnellys either, so I'll still be left out. Although I can still make jokes about The Unit.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

We are a nation of innovators

This is my 100th post in How Observant. Isn't that exciting? I didn't think so either. 100 is kind of a lot, though, and I hope that I am progressing as I do this. Progressing as an observer and the occasional humorist. I'd like to put that on my business cards someday -- Engineer Sighted, Occasional Humorist. I'm only funny on Thursdays. Sorry guys, you'll have to drop in on my tomorrow to get a laugh.

Technology is doing a better job than me at progressing, certainly over the last 100 somethings -- I could say years, since we went from the Wright Flyer to the 777 in that stretch of time, that's pretty impressive. Or toilet paper reaching that second ply. Softer bathroom tissue is definitely a more significant milestone than having tv sets in the chairs in front of you while you fly to Amsterdam, at least on an everday level. I use toilet paper a lot more often than I fly to Amsterdam.

Cell phones are another good one. You can go to a 100 units of time much smaller than years to see progress there. 100 months, or even fortnights would get us from the RAZR to the SLVR, and that's obviously monumental. (I, personally, am still using a Nokia brick that I like to call the Soviet Phone Mark II. It's a 3595, if that means anything to you. The original Soviet Phone was an Ericcson that weighed like 3 pounds and reminded me of the one Zach Morris used to carry around, only less stylish.)

There are some developments, that are much less revolutionary.The electric stapler is one that immediately comes to mind. Ordinarily, I'm all for applying technology to things that don't really need it (for example, a cat that doubles as an electric can opener) but this one really kind of bothers me. I think it might actually be less convenient than the manual version. Then again, speed stapling isn't really something that's easy to do under any circumstances. Although, I do confess that whenever I need to get something stapled in the office I use the electric one, mostly for novelty sake.

I'd like to see more electric three hole punches. I'm not completely positive that they exist, but I'm pretty sure they must because one would be way more useful than an electric stapler, and I've never been to an office that doesn't have one of those. I'm kind of shocked that three hole punches are as unreliable as they are, actually. Rarely do I have a completely successful trip to one of those office supples. It usually takes a second pass, and that's a relatively good time. Sometimes the punches get stuck, or sometimes the punches have been rearranged because the guy ahead of your decided it might be fun to put the middle one closer to the top of the page for ha has.

Anyway, enjoy your 2007 Valentine's Day, which is extra special since it falls also on 100th How Observant Post day, which ought to be celebrated in some way. Phone calls and flights to Europe seem like good options, as does chasing a Siamese cat with a can of Bush's honey flavored baked beans.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

It all just happens so fast

You know, the death of Anna Nicole Smith got me thinking earlier about Zinedine Zidane. The World Cup is such a strange event for us Americans, because it's so big and honestly, it's so dull. The problem is that the Zidane headbutt, while hilarious enough to transcend that insitutional cultural roadblock, would have probably been way hilariouser if we cared. I submit that we all missed out on the opportunity for some great jokes about this guy. But because we don't follow soccer, we, collectively as Americans, just wouldn't get them.

Now, Anna Nicole Smith has been the butt of jokes for pretty much as long as people knew her name. I don't think anybody expected her to die, and this may sound horrible, but I was just thinking about how we're not likely to hear about the absurdity of her television show anymore. We may have missed an opportunity to amuse ourselves with this cultural touchstone. I am a little bit horrified that I just referred to ANS as a cultural touchstone, but I guess she is. That's a pretty serious legacy, when you think about it. She was a Playboy Playmate who had a case go to the Supreme Court. I still haven't quite wrapped my head around that.

Opportunities are only so frequent, though. I've been thinking about that a lot, too, as I go to interviews and what not (although the what not is probably more personally important to all of us). There will probably be another crazy sports event soon -- after all, Terrell Owens is being coached by a guy that nobody's ever heard of, something bad is going to happen -- and there will be more celebrities who have no business being celebrities on the scene doing weird stuff. Whether it's a joke or a what not, don't hesitate to make that joke. Because this morning, I really wished I could use a photoshop picture of Zidane headbutting a kitten and have it be relevant somehow.

Monday, February 05, 2007

I don't know how long my hair is or should be

I am right at that point in my hair growth where I could probably use a haircut. However, I have an interview on Thursday, so I'm not sure it's a good idea to get a haircut tomorrow, since if it sucks, I'll look like a guy with a bad haircut. I wouldn't hire a guy with a bad haircut. The upside to being right tat that point is that I could probably go a little while with my current hair arrangement and be ok for a little while.

It's such a tenuous time, though. Like when you finish shaving and are wondering if it's time to lose the current blade and go to a new one. If you jump the gun, you're being wasteful; if you're too late, then you look foolish in public. A friend of mine basically told me once that if I have to ask if I need a haircut, I need to get one. I'll tell, you, though, I'm going to take the risk and wait it out for a few days. I live that close to the edge.

It's tricky, because I basically only know how to do one thing with my hair. I have no knowledge of gels or pomades, and I'm not even sure that, considering my hair, either one of those things would be a good idea. (I think there'd be no doubt, though, that I'd be a Dapper Dan man.) It does get old having the same hair all the time, but I feel like my hair is holding me hostage and I don't have a lot of choice in the matter anyway.