Monday, June 30, 2008

Graphs Aplenty: DOES NOT COMPUTE

This one is easily my favorite Graphs Aplenty so far. Venn Diagrams are almost inherently funny, but when paired with a dystopian future joke, that is a recipe for success every time. Come for the math, stay for the dystopian futures, guys! I miss the days I used to write about going to the bathroom.

This one is pretty self-explanatory, my favorite part is that our future oppressors will not only speak to us in a hybrid of the two most widely spoken languages in the United States now, but also a 30 year old programming language. So when the robots take over, programming technology will not have changed since you computer science 101 as a freshman in college. Although, to be fair, my roommate studied biology, which I'm not even sure uses computers.

Interesting side note: as a mechanical engineer, I would only be able to satisfy A and B of the diagram above. I never learned to program in C++. I know you are probably thinking, "How embarrassing!" Well, I speak Spanish and a little Irish and you're reading my blog, so I don't need your sass.

Interesting side note 2: my roommate is all grown up. He started his own blog! Go read it, the three of you who are still out there. And post comments! Comments are how we measure our self-esteem, like the way women do with their weight. Except more is better for us.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

What is left?

Every left-handed writer, especially those who [try to] write humor, has written this column. The world is conspiring against us with awkward tools that we can use to kill ourselves, like right handed scissors or chainsaws. They are right, you know. It is probably the reason there are so few of us around. They do tell us (other left-handed people, that is) that there are more left-handed geniuses, per capita, than right-handed ones. I believe it, because we have to be smarter, on account of all the deadly instruments. Natural selection, really.

There are a lot of other things out there, too, that are designed for the less sinister of us. (Sinister is the Latin word for left [dexter is right]. Isn't that wild? The Romans thought we were evil! I assure you that we are not. Or is that just the sort of thing that an evil person would say to deceive the masses?) A lot of them are things you don't really think about. My friend has been complaining (a lot) that the whammy bar on his Xbox 360 Guitar Hero Les Paul is not suited for left-handed rocking out (I only have the Rock Band Stratocaster). Who would have thought that Guitar Hero would discriminate?

The thing that set me off on this (most recently) is my coffee mug. It is a Rose-Hulman mug that I got for free that proclaims our greatness via US News and World Report (we're #1!) vintage 2003. If I want to show that proclamation to the world, I have to hold it with my left-hand, meaning that I cannot write while I drink my crappy hot tea. Why else would I have a mug with a message that bragadocious, if not to show it off to the world? Actually, now that I think about it, if I have to use my left hand, does that make it left-handed? I'm so confused now.

Just like I was when trying to figure out on which hand to wear my watch around Christmas time. Pants are also right-handed. Left-hand drive cars are right-handed. Most desks are right-handed, so much so that the first time I found a left-handed desk in a classroom I got really excited and was determined to sit in it, regardless of where it was in the classroom. So I did, even though it was stacked on top of three other desks.

I am the only person I know who puts my mouse on the left side of the computer. You can always tell where I sat in the computer lab, and people will freak out if I don't put it back. I'm sorry to disrupt your apple cart, Mr. Right-hander, but welcome to our world, but it's all part of our sinister plan. I mean, there is no plan.

Friday, June 13, 2008

I'll say "Go Tigers" instead of "Go Eagles," but I think he'd understand

One of my very good friends plays the saxophone. He was a pretty big deal in high school with it, and because of it, he influenced me a little to try to get into jazz. It worked a little; I saw Wynton Marsalis once, and he was good, but the "date" was less than ideal. But he loves Michael Brecker. Apparently, Brecker is one of the best saxophonists ever. I don't really know a lot about jazz, so I have to take his word for it. When you really get into a hobby like that, you really kind of get to know who the people worthy of admiration of in the field.

My hobby is writing and politics and journalism. Even though it isn't really as exciting or sexy as jazz music, there are still those people, those giants in my field, too, and you might look at those giants the way I look at those in the jazz pantheon: you can recognize that they are good, but really, the distinctions of their styles might be lost if you have never written a political commentary or tried to get information out of a person in a way that other people would want to read it.

Tim Russert died today. He was the biggest of the giants. He was Michael Jordan. He was Wayne Gretzky. He was Michael Brecker. I didn't decide to write because of him or start to like politics because of him. But I liked politics better because of him. I liked journalism better because of him. Not only that, but he made those things better, too. He made America better. Remember that time when John Stewart appeared on Crossfire to criticize the show about their failing the media and the country? Tim Russert was doing it right.

He had one of the five best jobs in the world, and he loved it. He loved holding powerful men and women accountable, and we got to see it at least once a week. When you see an actor, or an athlete, or a musician, having fun with their role, we can tell. Tim Russert was doing that. He was having fun, he was excited to be in the media, and whatever you feel about politics, you can't sit through an episode of Meet The Press and not see that. You just can't.

Interestingly, too, during Meet the Press, we did actually get to meet him. We saw how important his family, his faith, his hometown and his country were to him. He wrote a book about his dad, rather than one about his career, as impressive as it was. There was no doubt about his Catholicism, his loyalty to Buffalo, and his love of the American process. We got to see all that, we got to hear about Big Russ, his son Luke, his love of sports, and it was never imposing. He was the kind of guy who would be just as happy to talk about the NFL or baseball as he was the upcoming election (well, maybe not just as happy), and would probably know more about both than you. But you'd still leave the conversation smiling.

I TiVo Meet The Press. I get excited about watching his show on Saturdays (I know, I'm a nerd). There is a gaping wound in American journalism today. Even though I am only an amateur in this field, he was the best we had. He was 58, died at work of a heart attack. He was just one of those people who seemed to understand life so well, had his priorities in order, and had managed to keep all that in tact after achieving the summit of his profession. This is one of those times that the country has lost as much as his family has. While I won't forget them in my prayers tonight, the rest of us need it too. While I can't bring myself to say "Go Eagles," I can say "Go Sabres!" I think he'd get it, though.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Stealing Bad Commercials

Have you guys seen the Pizza Hut commercial where they all go in and eat some fancy looking pasta, and, oh my gosh, the chef comes in and says that it's really Pizza Hut? You know, this advertising masterpiece? Everybody there gets a good chuckle, and one even says something like, "I like it better now" at the end.

You know, if it were me, I would be pretty darned pissed (that is, assuming that this isn't completely staged, which it clearly is) if I took my date out for Italian (although, it would probably have to be at least like a fifth date, because I don't like girls to see me eat noodles too early in a relationship. I'm messier than I am happy with being) and it turned out that it was really Pizza Hut, I would demand a refund. If I were at a seafood restaurant and Captain D came out and said, "Hey guys, it's fast food!" Engineer Sighted would have to have a mutiny on the Captain's ship. Although I could probably figure out that something was up. Unless it was a Northern, cold-water or freshwater fish, of which I am woefully ignorant.

This is not a good commercial. What makes this even weirder is that Hardee's ripped it off almost exactly. Don't believe me? Check this out, fools. The only difference is they are only trying to hoodwink one person, rather than the entire restaurant. That's laziness. If I'm tricking people in a restaurant, I am going for complete deception. Sometimes I tell the hostess that my name is Roger McDormand. (My name is not Roger McDormand.) And you know what? They never figured it out. If there is a person in there who is on to my game, then I have failed. And that's what I have to say about Hardee's. Failure. McDormand, party of 2, your table is ready.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

All hail my feet

Isn't it weird how different some surfaces that you walk on every day feel on bare feet? Like how completely different your car accelerator feels? I heard somewhere that it was illegal to drive with bare feet, but I kind of like it. I like to live on the edge. Someday, you may see a "Wanted" poster featuring Engineer Sighted, for driving barefoot. I will be the second celebrity to have the nickname "Shoeless."

I was in a rather long car ride today, and I found myself taking off my shoes, because as I am pretty sure I have mentioned this before repeatedly, but I hate wearing shoes. I prefer flip flops, and even then, it's iffy. The floor mats of the automobile in which I was riding was one of those new/old surfaces. They felt kind of fun. I, fortunately, got to avoid wearing shoes for most of the weekend because I managed to return to my homeland, Florida. We shy away from shoes down there in the same way that Britney does underwear. Beaches and sand are not conducive to shoes, you see. Sand gets pretty much in everything, and the fewer crevices, the better. That might be good advice all the time.

I decided to make take this trip because a week and a half ago my car got smashed by hail. It was like that scene in the iconic Apple commercial. They were like tennis balls falling from the sky. There is nothing good that comes from things that are colder than 65 degrees Fahrenheit, unless it comes in a glass. I had no car or way to get to work, so why not go to the beach? I thought so too. It was awesome. If I were here, I would have to wear all kinds of shoes.

But I'm back now. It's going to be a pretty hellacious transition, though, and I can't say that is going to be an enjoyable time. It's rather early and I am already ready to crash. I apologize for the "already ready" construction; I hate that almost as much as I do shoes. But right now, my bare feet are on the surface of my couch, and it's a nice feeling, so it is alleviating my concerns as I write this. I suggest you try it.