Monday, December 22, 2008

latter-day pirates

Apparently, pirates did not die with the British empire. Like the British, they've retreated to a small geographic area, but unlike the British, they chose one of the most inhospitable places you could imagine: the horn of Africa.

These pirates are much advanced over their loot-toting, parrot-loving, eye-patched progenitors. Instead of scimitars, they carry AK-47s. Instead of cannon, anti-tank weaponry. Though obviously a subjective opinion, these latter-day pirates are much less romantic than the originals. It's hard to generate a diligent fan base without rolling up the good ol' jolly roger every once in awhile.

For some reason unbeknown to me, though pirates have advanced, anti-pirate weaponry has taken a serious step backwards. One only need read about a recent pirate attack to confirm said statement.

There are many oddities about the encounter (including the pirates requesting shoes at the end of the battle--I mean, seriously, Captain Blackbeard probably turned twice in davey jones' locker), but the one thing that stood out to me was the weaponry used. To quote from the article:

"'We had a lot of beer bottles and we made a lot of cocktail [petrol] bombs,' said Capt Peng. 'We were well prepared. We threw them at them.

'After the first attack they retreated but somehow they got very good weapons - anti-tank weapons - which they fired at us, and succeeded in coming up to our living quarters.'"

So, let me get this straight. Pirates are using anti-tank weapons, and to counter said threat, the crew is throwing molotov cocktails? Are you kidding me? Is this some sort of bad joke? IT'S AN ANTI-TANK WEAPON. YOU DO NOT THROW LITTLE BITTY BOTTLES FILLED WITH PETROL IN RETALIATION AND PLAN ON WINNING.

Granted, I must be wrong, because the crew ended up winning the battle. But I'm still a little stunned. The only logical conclusions are thus:

1. Original pirates were way cool
2. New pirates are sissies
3. Molotov cocktails are acceptable counters to anti-tank weaponry
4. Most pirates are in it for the shoes

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

the law of donkeys

The other day I was casually watching a youtube clip of a donkey dangling from its harness, and was halfway into an email sending it to my brother before I realized something:

I was that older relative who sent around lame jokes to all hapless friends, family, or minor acquaintances who have the bad luck of having a known email address.


"How did this happen?" I pondered the question for a few minutes. It didn't take me long to figure it out. I am currently supremely un-busy.

Busy people don't laugh at donkeys. And they certainly don't go around sending said donkeys to their neighbors. But un-busy people do. And they do it a lot. And they do it overestimating the reaction it will get from said neighbors.

I believe the function looks like this:



And this shall be known as the law of donkeys.

So take my advice: the next time you're about to send a clip of a suspended donkey, please take a moment to ponder how busy you are the moment. If you're really busy, chances are you're in the clear. If you've been picking your toenails and blogging about larva you found in your crackers to keep yourself busy, you may want to rethink that whole spamming thing.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

counter-cyclical products

Counter-cyclical products are those products which do better in economic downturns. People, in theory, turn to these products when they're poor, and shy away from purchasing luxury items with their now-scarce money.

Some examples of counter-cyclical products include macaroni and cheese, used Honda civics, straw mattresses, Barry Manilow cds, and diamonds.

Seriously, I'm pretty sure about diamonds. "How sure?" you ask? Well, this sure (my arms are stretched out). I know this because every other commercial on radio or television right now is for a jeweler.

Has this always been the case? Never before have I heard jewelry so hawked. Prior to the economic downturn, I had only heard of two purveyors of diamonds: de Beers, and The Shane Company (on the corner of State Street and 7200 South). Now all I see or hear would indicate there is a booming market in jewelry, contrary to that whole financial meltdown that ran away with half of my net worth.

Of course, this could be due to the fact that I've watched more television in the past week than I have all year long, as I'm relaxing after the work and election stress. But it is a little odd, to say the least. You'd think they'd branch out into a product that is counter-cyclical by this point. Something like cubic zirconia.

bachelorhood

Bachelorhood is another way of saying living dirty.

Some people have misconceived notions of bachelorhood. They envision penthouse apartments filled with adoring womenfolk, immaculate dinners of porterhouse steak and fine...uh...grape juice, or nonstop football and pizza.

The only piece of that puzzle which is correct is the nonstop football. Pizza sometimes, yes, peanut butter always, yes. Peanut butter + pizza = crazy delicious*.

As part of my bachelorhoodiness, the other day I bo
ught some bleaueueaeue cheese and decided to sit in my chateaueueaeue eating cheese and crackers. Fortunately, I had purchased a large amount of crackers on a previous Costco run (Costco will bless your bachelorhoodiness in ways you can't even comprehend), and so I decided to work on those crackers.

I sat, nonchalant, eating my crackers and cheese and reading the Economist, feeling ever-so-brilliant, when one of the crackers caught my eye. I had been stuffing them in my mouth in a very bachelor sort of way, but for some reason I looked at what I was about to eat, and saw a cobweb trailing down. Cobwebs are very much a part of bachelorhood, but typically in other scenarios, like on your ceiling, or over the license plate of your car
(I have no idea how that got there), but not usually in FOOD YOU'RE EATING.

On closer inspection, I notice something drop from the end of the cracker. Yes, that would be some form of larva.

You'll notice the cracker on the top, the cheese at the bottom, some leftover Trader Joe's Pasta Medley in the middle, and Mr. Larva on the left.

Yes, that is disgusting beyond belief, and I spent the next few minutes trying to hold down my food.

So, to recap, bachelorhood is all about discovering these sorts of uncomfortable creatures and experiences.

* I'm totally, totally kidding. Peanut butter pizza sounds utterly disgusting. Almost as bad as
bleaueueaeue cheese larva.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

judge thy neighbor

Not too long ago, after a time of trying to be a better person, I took a step backwards and invented one of* my most successful** games. Thus was born Judge Thy Neighbor.

Judge Thy Neighbor is an easy game to play. There are no rules, no points, no scoring, no point, and no real reason to play aside from unadulterated sarcasm. The game plays as follows: see someone, then make the most ridiculous judgment possible based on shallow, superficial factors.

For example, suppose you see a young man driving a BMW. An acceptable response would be: "He's driving a BMW. His parents probably gave that to him because he's a spoiled sissy rich kid."

Suppose you visit a house with a large television: "They must not be smart enough to read."

Suppose you see a man wearing Oakley's: "He must think he's better than everyone else because he's wearing expensive sunglasses."

And thus it goes. I'd refrain from any truly mean-spirited comments. But it can make for some fun times.

*And by "one of", I mean "only"
**And by "most successful", I mean "the only game I'm not hideously ashamed of telling anyone about"

laser shows

I write with some hesitation about laser shows, as many smart and intelligent people that I know seem to derive some sort of satisfaction from them. It's not often that I insult my friends to their faces, so I'm going to use as much tact as possible in conveying to you my viewpoint:

Laser shows are stupid.

The only difference between watching a laser show and your car radio is scale. For those of you unfamiliar with this form of "entertainment", a laser show is a term commonly used by planetariums to rob you of your money. Instead of providing you a nice guided show on planets like our tax money goes to provide, they coop you up in the big dome auditorium, and shine bright lights in semi-random patterns, whilst playing classic rock. So, basically, your car radio on a giant technicolor dome.

I shouldn't be so cavalier. I'm sure there's something I'm missing. I still recall the first time I went to a laser show. I was so excited to hear the old man speak in hushed tones whilst pointing a laser beam into the dome, describing the big bear, the big dipper, the big dragon, the big bird, and the big cross. It was the shock of my life to have Led Zeppelin pummeling my eardrums with big fancy red lines parading in dizzying patterns above. Then, as now, I couldn't understand the point. I spent the whole hour trying to figure out why I was watching that, and when the old man was going to tell me about supernovas.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

cell phone waiting lots

Of all of the activities of humans, none overwhelms our natural logistical facilities as much as picking up someone from the airport. Everyone everwhere has a deep, instinctual desire to arrive at the gate the very second the awaited passenger steps out to the curb. Unfortunately, for most of human history, this has been a futile, vain pursuit.

Until the blessed invention of blessed cell phones and the doubly blessed internet.

Now, instead of digging through dozens of old phone books to find the white pages, and then sludge through airline customer service hell trying to figure out when a plane is landing, you can check the blessed internet. Even better, your friend can call you upon arrival, and further help you time your arrival.

Though this part of the airport pickup process has been improved dramatically through amazing human intervention, there are other parts which still suffer.

Take the gate staging area, for example. Rarely in life will you ever be privy to such a raucous sight. Cars everywhere, honking, yelling, darting, signaling, not-signaling, and the natural inescapable evolutionary reaction which causes everybody to park their car right outside of the luggage carousel, and in front of several angry signs condemning said practice.

Having seen this sort of mayhem, most airports now employ thugs to parole the streets, waving unsettlingly-hairy arms and yelling loudly to move along should you slow down to below 5 mph, and condemning you to circling that cursed circle one more time.

After a few years of widespread cell phone use, a few individuals in airport planning committees realized that one could realign incentives, and easily remove this congestion. This idea is widely known as the cell phone waiting lot.

The concept is this: create a parking lot close to the gate where people may wait in peace, instead of orbiting the airport (zoom around the outer edge...approach the luggage area...slow down...look...is Bob there...look...strain...AAAAA!!!! don't crash!!!! okay...look... SIR I HAVE A SHOTGUN TRAINED AT YOUR HEAD. MOVE ALONG OR DIE SUCKA.)

This idea has the potential to single-handedly eliminate society of all its woes. Unfortunately, too often this celestial concept gets bogged down in implementation.

The other day I was picking up a buddy from the San Francisco airport. As I approached, having perfectly timed my arrival to coincide with the moment he exited the double doors, he called to tell me the airline had lost one of his bags, and he needed more time to sort out the situation.

"Ha!" I thought, "no worries, I'll just go to the cell phone waiting lot!"

I orbited the airport once, then followed the signs. And followed the signs. And followed the signs. I was determined to find the lot or die trying. I got on a major highway, took several turns, passed by Pluto, and ended up miles away in a lot with a few drug dealers, three ducks, and a lot of barbed wire.

I'm not really kidding. Check it out.

In any event, SFO needs to move this lot away from nowhere and stick it close to the airport. By the time I arrived, my friend had already resolved the situation, and was waiting for me on the curb. It's a sad day when it takes me longer to get to the cell phone waiting lot than it takes to navigate airline beaurocracy. A sad day indeed.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

bake sales

Perusing through the New York Times the other day, I happened upon an article which further demonstrates the dismantling of modern society. The headline?

Bake Sales Fall Victim to Push for Healthier Foods

Apparently, through some terrible liberal conspiracy, the amount of donuts available to children is being restricted.

I'm aghast. How could we, the bastion of the fat world, have fallen to this level? The article talks of legislation doing away with the sales of cookies, potato chips, greased pig fat, and hostess cupcakes. mmmmmmmmmm....hostess blessed cupcakes...

Now, don't get me wrong, I consider myself liberal as well. I liberally apply nutella to all of my bagels, and I'm pretty liberal when it comes to the number of scoops of ice cream I serve myself. Though, I'll admit I'm somewhat conservative when it comes to divvying up my sugar to others. Imagine my surprise when people who claim to share my take on life turn around and stab me in the back with celery?

This discriminatory inhibition of sugar is an outrage!!! I plan on organizing rallies to protest this!! Rallies that involve sitting! On my couch. Eating brownies...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

tips

In American culture, tips are tipically* used in restaurant settings in order to allow the restaurateur to pay his or her people less, saving on costs, and allowing her or him to transfer those employment costs to you without you realizing it when you're deciding what to purchase.

It follows the same basic principle as sales tax. Most people are incapable of adding simple figures. For example, a man recently mentioned to myself and a friend how he had moved to this area at the age of 26, and eight years later, he was still here. I was aghast that he was 32, as he looked much younger than that. I will not delve into the amount of laughter to which I was then subjected.

I digress. Sales tax is basically impossible to compute by the average person. If you are reading this, laughing, because you can calculate sales tax in your head, I in no way desire to associate with you, and furthermore, I will bonk you on the head at my earliest convenience. Secondly, if you're still laughing over my 34/32 mistake above, I will bonk you on the head twenty six plus eight times. If I'm able to count to that number.

Politicians figured this out a long time ago, and instead of making sales tax a nice round figure (caution: never use that term to describe a woman) like 1%, or 5%, or 10%, they make it figures like 6.25%, or 8.15%. I mean, seriously, who can calculate 6.25%?

I normally start with the whole amount.

$34.32. Okay.

I repeat that a few times in my head.

$34.32. $34.32. Okay. Let's divide $34.32 by ten.

Visualize the decimal moving over a place. Okay. $3.43. GAHHH, WHAT HAPPENED TO THE TRAILING 2??? Do I need to keep track of that?

Focus, Chris, focus. $3.43. Divide that by two.

AHHHHHHH!

Deep breaths. Deep breaths. 14 divided by 2 is 7, so that's $1.71.

Okay. $1.71. Deep breaths. Now we just need to figure out 1.25%.

SIR, I SAID THE AMOUNT IS $36.47. ARE YOU PAYING CASH OR CREDIT?

Actually, I normally don't hear the cashier getting annoyed because I'm still in my math place, trying to physically move decimal places around.

So stores like this technique, because it makes it seem like you're getting something cheaper than you actually are, and they know we're all too dumb to figure out what the real price is.

WARNING: People will laugh at you if you're using a calculator in the store to add up your expenses. I know, it's unjust, and these are the same people making fun of you for winning the spelling bee, but they also can beat you up and their kids can beat your kids up, and their kids can beat you
and several marines along with a dozen or so pit bulls and/or wild geese up, so please just don't pull out the calculator in the store.

In any event, restauranteurs have followed the same path. They've made it socially unacceptable to not give tips, and so they're able to make their prices seem smaller than they really are, because if I can't do math by myself in a store with nobody around, I DEFINITELY can't do math on a date while trying to appear both witty and intelligent at the same time, and not spill any sort of large item on myself.

However, the absolute worst is when you arrive at a cafe of some nature, which is not a sit-down restaurant, but you're just getting your food to go, and the cashier smugly prints off your receipt and asks you to sign, with a line for tip added in! GAH! The injustice! What ever is to be done? What will people think if I don't add a tip? Why should I add a tip, though, they've provided me no service!

At this point, you should calmly put your hands in your pockets, stick your head down, and run out of the establishment before you wet your pants from your anxiety attack.

And if you don't like that strategy? Man, I don't know what to tell you. That's as far as I've ever gotten in those situations.

*I know, I know, my desire to pun supersedes all other desires, including the desire to spell correctly, as well as the desire to not look like an idiot for making such a miserable joke

parking lots

Parking lots bring out the anal retentiveness in all of us.

Upon arriving in a parking lot, all of humanity collectively lose their ability to run any sort of cost-benefit analysis. The nearest parking space must be found and parked in AT ALL COSTS.

It is not uncommon to find several perfectly reasonable parking spots within a thirty second walk of your destination, but no matter how many spots are available, there will always be a mass of flies crowding around the front, all hopelessly searching for the closest spot. Only one can gain the prize. Then, like Jon Stewart winning an emmy, the victorious parker strolls out of his car, smirking at the hapless many who are forced to (gasp!) park further out.

This impulse and urge is only overcome when the scouter sees another moving object.

Like sharks trailing dying cows in water, some people find it necessary to trail anyone walking anywhere in a parking lot. Looking out across any parking lot, you'll typically find a car following every single moving object, including unsecured grocery carts and tumbleweeds.

Worse, still, are those who are afflicted with the completely opposite pathological condition: to park as far away from everyone else as possible. These poor souls will usually be found lurking at the fringes of the parking lot, parking at a much faster rate than their doomed cousins, then walking the mile or so to the destination, smug in the assurance of their superiority. They pride themselves on the amount of time they saved while not running the rat race to get the front spot, and live out their lives completely unaware as to why people stopped getting rides from them to places.

(but if they knew, they'd be even more smugly happy at the sliver of gas they saved from not having the extra load in their car)

(they're mostly crazy)

(I'm in no way implicating myself)

Friday, October 10, 2008

greeting cards

Greeting cards can be found for sale in just about every grocery store you'll ever meet. They have greeting cards for every occasion: New Mommy, Birthday, New Baby, Birthday for boy, New Wedding, Birthday for girl, Birthday for transgendered individual, Old Mommy, Grandma, Birthday for boy humorous, New Baby humorous, Old Mommy inappropriate, Old Wedding, Old Mommy ridiculously suggestive and completely uncalled for and inappropriate for any respectable human and should be banned from the free world, and Anniversary.

Greeting cards also typically have the unfortunate quality of attempting to be serious. Who is so incapable of writing 'I love you' that they need to buy a greeting card with that printed in big letters? Writers of greeting cards, I've got a message for you: if you're the one imparting the message, IT'S USELESS.

Imagine Bob Smith, who can't think of the words to tell his wife on their 30th Wedding Anniversary, so he goes to buy her a card. Imagine his surprise as he finds a greeting card with fluffy puppies saying, 'I love you'.

"Wow!", he'll say, "I never even THOUGHT about saying that!! And with puppies too!"

Imagine his wife as she gets said puppy-filled card.

"Ooooooh, how cute! Puppies!", she'll say, and upon opening the card to find 'I love you' stamped in gold letters with her husband's signature, she'll immediately pick up the phone and find a good divorce lawyer.

So, writers of greeting cards, please, spare us the printed smarmy messages. You may be able to fool your purchasers into buying into such a lame idea, but rest assured that their wives will leave them and soon they'll go back to spending their money on ratty sweaters and peanut butter.
Stick to humor. You're better at it anyways.

Though, I warn you, if you incorporate any word with the root 'sex' in any card intended for older women, I will burn it. Repeatedly. There is nothing more disturbing than shopping for birthday cards for my Mother to find said references.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

batting cages

Batting cages were invented as a deterrent to frighten sissies into never trying to play baseball.

I went to the batting cages yesterday with my cousin Annette. I have wanted for some time to vindicate myself over some bad early-life experiences with baseball, so I figured the way to do that was to go to the batting cages a few times and hit a ball a few times, and thereby justify myself and go home saying something along the lines of: well, if I wanted to be good, I could be, but I'm not because I don't practice, because I do so many other important things, and I'm so much smarter or stronger or faster etc. etc. etc.

Sadly, this was not one of those times.

Figuring all batting cages were created equal, I jumped into the first open cage, and poured all my tokens in the machine, and stepped on up to ye olde plate. And watched as a semi-automatic machine gun began to shell me with poorly-disguised baseballs.

POCK...THUMP...POCK...THUMP...POCK...THUMP...

The first proton out of the LHC caused me no small amount of surprise, and I jumped back a few feet to stay clear of instantaneous death. Suddenly, my plan wasn't looking so feasible. And that is when my cousin looked over and started laughing.

One lesson folks: LOOK AT THE SPEED BEFORE YOU JUMP IN A CAGE.

I had begun my quest in the Orel Hershiser cage, the same cage they use to beat large mammals to death. So, though I recalled pitching speeds rivaling waddling ducks from my little league days, that sort of thing didn't really happen here in the majors. And when I say majors, I mean the death cage. Expecting to hit low flying gnats, I was getting buzzed by F-14s.

Well, I'd like to end this quaint little vignette by giving a story about how I overcame my fear and hit a home run, but that would require that I overcame my fear and hit a home run (either that or I tell a very large non-white lie). Not only did I not overcome my fear, but I am now more in fear of batting cages than ever.

I'd also like to say that I didn't slowly creep out of the cage whilst the balls were flying, and slowly move to slow-pitch softball whilst whistling, trying to act casual, while it was entirely possible a small child would find his/her way into my empty cage and be seriously injured by those demonic baseballs.

I am absolutely certain that batting cages are a dirty plot by my ex-girlfriends to showcase my sissiness to the world, lest I become too adept at hiding it...

baseball

Baseball is a sport designed to inflict the maximum amount of embarrassment on kids with bad hand-eye coordination. Football, for example, takes those same kids and makes them some form of linebacker. Soccer puts those kids as fullbacks. Basketball is similar to baseball in its hand-eye requirement, but it at least allows for a merciful option like immediately passing the ball to someone else upon any/all contact, then retreating to cry quietly in the corner.

However, baseball requires everyone on the team be capable of minimal hand-eye coordinative activities at any possible moment (further discrimination against the coordinative impaired, as the exact moment of the need of coordination is not known beforehand, and can manifest itself in a flash). There is no escaping these duties. In the best case, you're allowed to retreat to right field and pick the grass and pray to heaven that there aren't any accursed lefties on the other team.

Hardcore baseball fans will laud the game to you, and tell you that its values lie in being the "National pastime", and in its absurd enshrinement of the good of slower-paced play (if I wanted a slower-paced activity, I'd take up knitting, not a "sport"). Be aware, though, that their real love of baseball stems from its utility in acting as a method of genetic cleansing. Uncoordinated saps are easily picked out and can be excluded from the gene pool by general social ostracism.

Furthermore, "batting" is just the practice of forcing people to stand next to fast moving objects and attempt to magically place the "bat", through a motion of swinging, into the path of said fast moving object, with a slight probability of the object being headed at your face, which causes you to wear a helmet. The act of "hitting" the ball is improved upon by continually "choking up" on the bat, as if changing position on the bat would actually improve the changes of hitting said fast moving object.

Kinder members of our race, who feel bad for other members of the species who are about as popular as lepers in the Bible, will call out "good eye" in any circumstance in which the batter does not "swing" (that is, wave the bat around in the general direction of the "plate" and "strike zone"). Even if the ball sailed on clouds of marshmallows and presented itself to the batter as an object the size of several suns, if the batter does not choose to swing, these kind people will still laud the batter's eye. There is a special section of hell reserved for these people, which is slightly less hot than the section reserved for the other coaches, players, and, most especially, the inventor of baseball (whatever his cursed name be). They will most likely also be served lemonade for their misdirected kindness (true kindness is shown by immediately enrolling the child in some other sport which requires less embarrassment, like nighttime running in the middle of the dense cornfields).

The only hope for the coodinatively-challenged batter is to pray the pitcher is in the same category of human, and you will be gifted with a walk. This is a somewhat uncharitable hope, as it ensures the pitcher will take the ostracism in your place. However, a batter has plenty of opportunity to collect derision during the course of "running" the bases.

A word to the wise: sliding is more difficult than it would appear, and I would recommend practice before trying to implement this technique during a game.

When one of the superior members of our species is finally able to "hit" one of the "balls" (which are sure to have a certain number of stitches, which number is memorized by strange people worldwide), abject fear fills the heart of any in its path. Should the outfielder be incapable of catching the ball, derision is sure to follow. Worse, there is a chance the outfielder run the other way and be hit in the back with the baseball, then retreat to the fence to cry*, forever stunting that outfielder's usefulness to society.

*I never cry, and though I don't actually recall similar circumstances, I am not under the false impression that they were unlikely; in fact, I suspect this was the most likely scenario during my time as an outfielder. Minus the crying of course.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

the **illion dollar budget deficit

Every so often through the course of your life, someone will try and scare you by mentioning the US budget deficit, which is currently somewhere near the number of plastic surgeries Michael Jackson has undergone.

Don't fall for their scare tactics. The US budget deficit isn't real money or obligations. It's actually a secret encrypted message used by the NSA. Ever realize how that number is prime? And it never goes up by just one, but by apparently random increments? That's right, it's top secret US intelligence.

Actually, I lie. The budget deficit is a plan by the US Congress to destroy, then take over the world. At some point in the near future the amount of outstanding obligations will equal the sum total of neutrons in the known universe. At that point, Americans will actually be in debt to foreign powers above and beyond any possibility of repayment, yet somehow, we'll still be able to issue debt to eager creditors.

However, just after that point, Congress will default on all obligations, causing nuclear holocaust, as the Chinese come to collect their dues by removing vital pieces of American history and infrastructure (HEY, you can't take the golden gate!! that's our bridge!!). The future US president will have no choice but to release the nukes, as actually paying down the debt will be out of the picture. As the mushroom clouds multiply, you'll see members of Congress congregating in their underground bomb shelters with Dr. Strangelove and legions of hand-picked beautiful now debt-free Americans.

Foreign nations who hold our debt have actually figured this out, and plan on repossessing our nuclear weapons long before that point arrives. Just don't mess with that repo man, 'cause he is dirt tough.

working from home

Working from home is a common term used in the business world used to signify the process of doing laundry while checking email.

Actually, that's a bit of an exaggeration. It's also a term used to describe other activities, such as taking a nap, interviewing for other jobs, playing video games, folding laundry, and yes, eating donuts.

Try testing this hypothesis by emailing one of your coworkers the next time they declare they will be "working from home" that day. If you get an immediate response, they're browsing for jobs. If the response is delayed by a few minutes, they went to the restroom, and are now back browsing for jobs.

Most likely, though, you'll get a hasty response six hours later with veiled references to donuts and naps. "Yeah, I was deep in thought on this tasty morsel all day long...and I think we both need to sleep on it and dive down into the filling tomorrow."

However, that being said, working from home is the most desirable of all working conditions. Sacrifice any sort of job title inflation in order to achieve such a blessed state.

chipmunks

Chipmunks are the stupidest creatures on God's green earth.

They attack me every day I bike to work. Biking along, minding my own business, I have strange squirrels sitting around in the middle of the road who, as I approach them, suddenly dart for my wheel. It's a little disconcerting to see a flurry of black fur try and take a spin through my spokes.

Chipmunks are also expert tree navigators, except when those trees are located over streets. A squirrel once planned an aerial assault on my person by falling to the street from overhead. After a stunned pause, it shook its head and scurried off.

Chipmunks are also excellent musicians.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Coffee

Coffee is a popular dye used in natural and synthetic fibers. It is most frequently used as an embellishment of traditional carpet patterns, and though its use is typically confined to areas around work desks in the common cubicle, you can find the tell-tale brown drip in office entryways, as well as office kitchens and break rooms.

Its use as a dye for clothing is well known--most often it will be found in small spots on ties, shirts, or on the upper portion of pants. Though often its presence in clothing admits the wearer into certain social circles, most of those circles are not that classy, and, in general, high fashion looks down on those sporting coffee-spotted attire.

Coffee is also used to inhibit people from incurring healthy habits such as sleep.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

customer service centers

Customer service centers exist as dungeons of punishment for the damned. People who steal gym towels, people who drive too slow in the fast lane, and people who cut their toenails on planes behind me, causing the toenails to fly into my arm, all end up as denizens of customer service centers.

Unfortunately, even with such a broad a net as that, customer service centers are woefully understaffed. For every acre or so of ringing telephones, there are a couple of hassled, overworked customer service agents desperately working the lines.

Luckily for these poor lost souls, there exists a way out of their fate of perpetual meaningless sales. Thwarting your every attempt to force the company to provide some service or right some wrong is only par for the course. Their freedom can only be secured by upselling you on any number of useless products. Only then, like Ariel being granted her legs, can they skip free on land again. However, "selling" in this case refers to getting you to utter the word "yes" at any point in the conversation, even if it is in reference to your desire to bonk yourself on the head with a bat. You'll soon find yourself drowning in dozens of spurious charges referencing "credit protection" or some over-generalized phrase.

Customer service centers are also nice places to call if you find yourself with a lot of extra time which you'd like to spend by listening to smooth jazz.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

a few small changes

I'm in the middle of switching things up, but just in case you're watching, this blog is now being hosted at everyguide.org, instead of its original home on quacking. I've also changed the template to something basic for the moment, but will be changing it again as soon as I can decide on a better format.

In any event, I'll be making a few fixes here and there behind the scenes which will hopefully make this thing a bit better. Feel free to vote yea or nay on anything.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

communicating with children

Communication with children is designed to decrease the average individual's intelligence until the point where the individual is on par with burning sea weed.

My niece called me this morning from my sister's phone, and I answered, "hey Bekah!" To which my niece responded, "no, this isn't Bekah!" At that point, I felt my brain draining through my nostrils, and I was constrained to say, "oooooh, boy, you tricked me!"

"You tricked me"? Am I a 90 year old man? Shall I buy a cane? I remember being ten and having adults talking to me, and me thinking they were the oddest people. They liked snow globes, smelled like rusty peppermint, and said things like, "oooooh, boy, you tricked me!"

From the tone in her voice following that comment, I could tell that she took me as a Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth. The rest of the conversation just went downhill from there.

From everything I've seen, the problem is fairly widespread, and I'm certain children everywhere have lower opinions of adults for this very reason.

The Olympics

The Olympics are a medium whereby genetically superior beings may showcase to genetically inferior beings their supreme superiority. This is accomplished through a variety of "sports", which include ribbon-dancing, team handball, synchronized swimming, synchronized diving, synchronized boxing*, and skinny-mostly-naked-girls-running-on-sand.

It also includes trampoline, though, as my friend Justin pointed out, "I'm more perplexed that they have trampoline as an Olympic sport...I picture the people in that 'sport' as being the leftover rejects that were never good enough to make the real gymnastics team".

Before I get hate comments from trampoliners, let me reiterate the fact that the Olympics are a medium whereby genetically superior beings assert their superiority over me.

However, there is one catch to the whole equation, which is this: the genetically inferior beings don't really catch on that these events are meant to showcase their inferiority. I, for example, sit on my couch eating potato chips, and laugh at people who run the 100 meters in 9.8 seconds:

"Man, that dude is SLLLLLOOOOOWWWW! What a pansy! Sissy! You got owned!"

All while not being capable of lumbering the 1 meter in 9.8 seconds.

Therefore, a more complete definition of the Olympics is as follows:

The Olympics are a medium whereby genetically superior beings may attempt to showcase to genetically inferior beings their superiority but are unable to do so, mainly through abject self-deception on the part of the inferiors.

*I lied about synchronized boxing, but I really think that should be the next Olympic sport.

___ - gate

pop quiz:

what do you do if you're a reporter with below-average intelligence, and you come across a scandal?

answer:

call it -gate.

the most enduring, painful legacy of Richard Nixon has been the constant affiliation of scandals with the word gate. every scandal now must be a gate. we started with Watergate. then we moved on to whitewatergate, and now have a plethora of gates.

last night, while I was watching the Olympics, a reporter spoke on "birthdaygate", referring to the Chinese government's alleged manipulation of gymnasts' ages. FOR THE LOVE! I mean, don't get me wrong, that is heinous and absurd, and against the Olympic spirit, BUT BIRTHDAYGATE MAKES NO SENSE.

please, people! can we come up with a better term? must every scandal be a derivation of gate?

utah sports teams

sadly, I don't know much about sports, or I would be much more inflammatory in this post, as I could actually talk trash about teams. or, in Utah's case, teamzz. that'zz right. during the 90zz, it was a requisite for every Utah sports team to incorporate a double z in the name. this led to a New York Times sportswriter Alan Schwarz to claim Utah was "the state where sports fans go to get their Z's."

I lived in Utah at that time (since moved to California), and I recall the following teams:

Jazz - basketball
Grizz - hockey
Starzz - women's basketball
Buzz - baseball
Freezz - indoor soccer
Blitzz - soccer

and wikipedia informs me there was yet another blight on our collective soul; the Catzz, an indoor football team.

I really can't think of anything informative to say, other than to quote my old boss: that's bat#@$@#$ insane. he always did have a way with words.

and if you're wondering why I bring this up now, it's because I couldn't blog about it back then, and boy was I annoyed. please. there are plenty of reasons to make fun of Utah already. we don't need any more.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

bikers in palo alto

bikers in palo alto, california, have but one thing in mind whilst biking: the permanent, constant need to get in front of other bikers in their path.

they accomplish this through a variety of ways; pedaling while standing, finagling their way to the front of queues stopped at stop lights, or my personal favorite, zipping through stop signs to pass the poor suckers who slow down, or, heaven forbid, stop.

relative speeds of other bikers are completely irrelevant to the bikers of palo alto. grannies with beach cruisers will edge out all comers at stop lights to be the first ones off the blocks, forcing the spandex-clad road bikers to pass them on the open road, where the hard-core spandexers typically outpace the grannies by a factor of thirty.

it's a darwinian world in the world of palo alto bicycling. every day is a race to get to work.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

gymbagophobia

the irrational fear that once you arrive in a gym's locker room, your gym bag will not contain all of your necessary gym clothes, thereby forcing you cancel your excursion and exit in shame amid the laughter of your fellow gym goers and employees.

extreme cases of gymbagophobia are characterized by an obsessive compulsion to continually re-check the contents of said gym bag.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

retail outlets

retail outlets are designed for one purpose: to make men feel uncomfortable.

every single time I walk into a retail outlet, my first mode of business is to establish the geographic location of the men's section. fortunately, store planners are aware of this tendency, and in order to increase my discomfort, they are sure to disguise the sections as well as possible.

I loathe that first moment, walking into the store. people are behind you, so you can't stop, but are forced to shuffle as your eyes dart back and forth, desperately seeking a sign as to which side the men's department occupies. if it isn't immediately apparent, you saunter very slowly to the first display, ready to dart at the first sign of women. casually stroking an item of clothing with heart racing, and sweat pouring out of your forehead, you lift the tag to your eyes and inspect the size. 2? size 2?! FOILED!!!

however, at this moment, it's essential you do not admit defeat. make no sudden movements. your pride is desperately hanging on to a sinking ship. girlfriend. you are shopping for your girlfriend. should anyone suspect, you are shopping for your girlfriend. repeat it in your mind again and again. slowly put down the tag, and inspect another bit of clothing nearby, perhaps a bit quicker. once you have established that this is not your girlfriend's style, trot smoothly away from the offending rack. keep your wits about you, and find that section!

girls, of course, have no pity for us. in fact, to make things even harder, women will occupy large swathes of men's departments worldwide! how emasculating is that? you're inspecting a stack of shirts, with women in the same merchandise, ready to either buy the clothing for the men in their life, or, heaven forbid, themselves.

I once owned a fairly masculine jacket. black fleece, red logo. a pretty sweet piece of apparel if you ask me. one day in high school I wore it, only to find a woman wearing the jacket. humiliation ruled the day. I never wore it again.

I stop by Banana Republic at the mall every so often. traditionally, they've been friendly to people with my deficiency--right side is men's, left side is women's. there are big models wearing shirts and ties on the right hand side. everything screams: MEN, THIS WAY, HAVE NO FEAR.

HOWEVER, I took it for granted. shopping there not too long ago, I walked in on the right hand side, and headed for the right, only to find womenfolk everywhere I looked! bah! dresses! scarves! ahhhhh, the agony! they reformatted! the men's section was now in the back. I left that store a shell of the man I once was, humiliated at my defeat.

there is nothing worse than mistakenly shopping in the wrong section. public humiliation at its finest.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

washers and dryers

Clothes washers and dryers are alien beings on a crusade to rid planet earth of wearable clothing. They are accomplishing this mission through a three-pronged attack:

1 - Eating socks
2 - Discoloring clothes
3 - Shrinking clothes

The disappearance of socks is a phenomenon which has been well documented.

I think all of my white clothing is tinted green. In one instance, that plan backfired against those ghoulish beings; my white polo (why oh why did I buy a plain white polo???) is now lime green, and quite decent.

Thirdly, my pants don't fit (they USED to be my loose pants).

Lastly, donuts are alien beings on a suicidal crusade to rid planet earth of skinny people.

I'm going to the gym.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

hose nozzles

hose nozzles were invented by the same people who brought you disposable diapers, disposable razors, paper towels, and every other one-use invention that true haters of corporate tyranny despise.

the basic gist is this: they make hose nozzles to appear reliable, durable, and tough on the outside. you know, something that could stand several nuclear blasts and a few ice ages. the clockwork on the inside of those is composed of damp, termite-infested balsa wood. it'll last you about ten hours of use before the water starts squirting out from all directions, and the handle snaps off with the same strength as a toothpick.

you're then forced to buy another nozzle every week. there are no exceptions to this nozzle-failing rule. every time I tell myself this nozzle will be different, and every time it fails within days.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

News Organizations

There are two main focuses (foci?) of newsmedia organizations:

1) Be the first to report the news
2) Be the last to report the news

One of the ways they accomplish goal number one is by quoting an "expert" to present "analysis" to viewers and readers. Each organization finds their own "expert" and asks them for their analysis on their field of specialty. These analyses typically run from what the average person knows by the age of five (but they use bigger words), to repeating what a larger organization has already said (but in different words), to my favorite, reading shrunken cat skulls to predict the future of said field of specialty.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the field of energy. Newsmedia organization X gets expert Y, and the report proceeds along this format:

Newsmedia organization X: Well, it seems like gas prices are getting higher these days. How do you think Americans will take this shift upwards?

Expert Y: You know, there are a lot of people out there who are stretching their financial capacity to make ends meet already, and higher gas prices in real terms means more fiduciary difficulty for those households.

Newsmedia organization X: And what direction are these gas prices headed?

Expert Y: There's no question--prices are headed up. I expect us to see $200/barrel oil soon.

And so it continues.

Newsmedia organizations love to report on the same metrics the experts use. No individual American has any idea what $200/barrel means.

Average American: ummm, how many gallons in a barrel? and why are we measuring oil? uhhh, my car uses gas.

To accomplish their second goal, newsmedia organizations will spend the better part of the next several weeks after an event talking about said event, relentlessly pummeling the populace with their mindless drivel. In this same example, after an increase in gas prices, headlines will read along the following:

"Consumers brace for more pain at the pump"
"Gas prices squeeze consumer's wallets"
"Wallets are thinner as gas prices are thicker"
"Cheap gas nowhere in sight"
"$4 gas pops up across the valley"

Okay, so I made those up. Except the last one. Wait, you mean, that gas station I go by EVERY DAY that has those big numbers posted is selling gas? And the big numbers say 4? The only single person in the United States who considers that news is Bobby Joe from Backwoods, TN, who just picked up the newspaper that was used as packaging material from his shipment of camouflage duck blinds.

Bobby Joe: Wha...goll durn it Suzie! Feather tie me to my boots! It turns out that gas I've been a savin' is worth four dollars! I knewed I wuz right!

But yet, the newsmedia organizations insist on reporting this "news" day in and day out, in every paper, in every news broadcast, in every radio program. People. We. Get. It.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Fast Food

Fast food, or rather, those glorious operations that specialize in its purveyance, seek to accomplish the impossible; that is, attain perfect efficiency in food distribution in a system populated by individuals completely oblivious to the rest of the world around them.

Let me expound.

The last time you went to Chipotle, for instance, assume, hypothetically, that you had actually gone to the trouble of faxing in your rather large order ahead of time, so as to not wait when you arrived. However, upon arrival, there is a larger individual directly in front of you in the fast lane, making a fuss about her order. Alas, this perfect system designed to more quickly hand you your burrito was broken by the individual who had to make sure that her emotional needs were met. The food she received did not change at all; she just had to make sure that she was heard.

People typically make fusses about the amount of ketchup, the presence of onions, and other nonsensical items. The system was designed to push you through quickly! Help a brother out and stop your excessive customization!

Your supreme goal when entering an establishment of this nature is to achieve the absolute minimum communication in terms of polite human interaction. Study the order habits of the other customers, and determine the commonly asked questions. Then phrase the order in the most concise way possible, while maintaining the elements that will avoid the follow-up questions. If asked follow-ups, the answers are "yes, please", or "no, thank you", not some waffling response that some use, or those egotistical responses that others use to assert their superiority over the staff.

A word on chattiness: Let me tell you, ninety-five percent of fast food workers want no more interaction with you than is required by their employer. Being chatty doesn't give them a boost. That's an extra thirty seconds they're going to be serving customers that day. You see those people behind you? They are all cursing you under their breath. Yes. Every last one of them.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

facebook

facebook is a utility designed to inform you of how many friends you don't have. of the friends you do have, it shows you how not close you are, by giving you helpful notices of how close they are with most other people.

actually, those notices don't really tell you anything, because facebook is the domain of overzealous friendship. mere acquaintances are listed as friends. close friends are brothers. roommates are married. someone who you met briefly is pummeling you with chickens, pillows, flying spaghetti and whatnot.

as if being friends weren't enough, these people also want you to join groups. suddenly, you can't determine your vote preference by yourself, you have to join "1,000,000 strong for Ralph Nader". and any side interest someone may assume you have becomes a group invitation which forces you to formally endorse your interest, or join the denizens of the damned as one who "refused" to stand up with the forces of right.

even with all of those over-hyped, overzealous relationships, the cold shell of facebook remains--a "social" utility to disguise your unsociability. no matter how many chickens you throw, no matter how many groups you join, the cold fact remains: you just don't have two hundred friends. now go write on somebody's wall. preferably something that doesn't visually display your lack of closeness.

facebook is also a utility for public humiliation.