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.