Monday, July 26, 2010

children

Reading my subscription of "I'm smarter than you, you miserable weenie"1, I've realized that laissez-faire economics has taken a bit of a hit lately. This is saddening to a man who wishes he were a Libertarian. What is the world coming to, when perfectly good corporations are no longer allowed to act with impunity? Who is going to destroy the free market, when free market corporations are hindered by the government? Do you think the government can handle the demise of capitalism? It has its hands full handling the demise social security and other unfunded obligations.

Luckily, I've been studying2 the younger generation, and I have hope for the future. There are brilliant economic minds yet to be found within the dross that is the terrible twos.

Young children have an innate understanding of economics. Take the principle of sunk costs. If I ignored sunk costs as a good little econ student, I would forget about the 2/3 plunge my stock options took during the lockout period after the acquisition, and not hold on to them to this day, huddling in the shower and rocking myself back and forth, sobbing3 and praying that they once again regain their future glory. Children, however, do not have this problem, as they do not remember anything after approximately 6.5 minutes, and thereby always ignore sunk costs when making decisions. That does not prevent them from sobbing in any bathing scenario, unfortunately.

Little kids also understand the principle of scarcity, and its impact on price. For example, they will always fight for the scarcest toy in the vicinity, no matter what that toy actually is. There could be fifteen imperial star destroyers manned by storm troopers armed with lasers sitting in the play room, and the children will be fighting for hours over the one poopy stick that was given to them by a mangy dog. Furthermore, they will endeavor to fight within earshot of the maximum number of people, or, absent a crowd, will fight whenever I attempt to read, or, absent a book, will fight whenever a phone is in use.

As a corollary, kids will always want what the other kid has. I brought presents to my nephews a month or so back4, specifically choosing items they desired. My nephew Seth had no interest in the large bag of candy I offered him; he wanted the gum that I gave to Gavin, never mind that the candy was approximately seven times the weight and value of said gum. Seth typically has no interest in gum, except in those precious moments in life when he can take it from Gavin and cause pandemonium.

Lastly, children truly understand the balance between marginal cost and marginal benefit, and optimize to set those two equal. For example, I was recently invited to the birthday party of one of the children of my friends,5 wherein the birthday girl shunned a large stuffed Minnie Mouse roughly three times her size, and expressed her preference for a rubber ducky by eating said ducky. She obviously figured the marginal benefit of eating the mouse was not worth the marginal cost of attempting to wrap her mouth around it, and thus stayed with the duck. My premise and conclusion are further supported by the fact that said duck was given to her by me6, which means I can award myself the sum total of all praise that was heaped upon said gifts, which is what I would have done anyways, except I wouldn't have tried to justify it with economics.

Economics is also useful for making jokes at parties, when you and your nerd friends are shuttled off to the corner, away from the frightened young children, who do not believe it is natural for a grown man to repeatedly quack at them. You can also use it to understand the principle of scarcity of future invitations sent your way.

1. That is, the Economist.
2. Read: listening to their screaming at family reunions.
3. I once had a roommate who participated in said behavior on multiple occasions. There's not much else I feel comfortable describing about the situation, except that those situations normally found him covered in soap suds; the hot water having run out.
4. Having no children of my own, I am forced to buy the affections of others'.
5. Which was confusing to me; I wasn't invited to children's birthday parties when I was a child, so why am I being invited now?
6. And by "given to her by me", I mean the Shoemakers thought to bring two presents and were kind enough to attribute one of them to me.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

a boring communicative post

Communicative? Who likes communicative? I've based my entire life around my inability to communicate things clearly, concisely, or in any sort of logical grouping.

I am already aware that I love to talk about myself, so just know that I'm desperately trying to keep this as short as possible. Skip this if you're looking for humor. In fact, my ex-girlfriends would likely say skip this entire site if you're looking for humor, but let's not get into that discussion now.

Dearest readers, I know I insult most of you regularly, but let me state here that I love every single person that reads this publication (please: I despise the term blog). So thank you for your kind words of support and occasional insults.

Two things for the day. Well, three.

First off, I'm going to implement a more stable posting arrangement. I think I'm going to target Monday afternoons as posting time. I've been pretty good about posting on weekends, but I worry that I get lost in the weekend traffic, so I'm going to try for a Monday early afternoon arrangement instead. So apologies for the wait this week. If you happen to read this on Facebook, let me take this time, yet again, to insult Facebook and deride the Facebook Note deal. It sucks crap. It routinely imports my posts a week or more late.

Secondly, I am compiling a selection of these posts into a book, which I'm currently calling The Complete Guide to Everything, Volume One. This name is probably trademarked somehow, and I'll likely get sued, but since I have no money, that doesn't bother me. Your first question is likely, "why would anybody buy a book of blog posts?" and my answer is, "I have no idea; people buy all sorts of weird things, so why not books?"

I actually don't know that said book will ever be anything more than a self-published article of derision, but it will exist. By announcing that here, I'm forcing myself to actually do it. I'll convert the posts to a better format, then re-write them, expand them a bit, and hopefully make it a thing of its own, instead of just a copy of this site. You can see a first cut of this process in the current first chapter, lunch.

Thirdly, if you happen to have feedback or suggestions, I welcome them. For example, I'd love to hear which posts you like, so I can include them in the book. If you have other things to say, feel free. Well, mostly feel free. If you think this whole thing sucks, feel free to email somebody else and laugh behind my back, but be sure to laugh out of earshot.

That's all for now. I'm desperately trying to write an entertaining post for tomorrow. Right now it's a toss-up between making fun of bad drivers or small children.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

belts

Yesterday I found myself pondering what to wear on a date that evening. I realize this statement may give rise to some questions, namely:

A: How did you get a date?

B: Why are you wondering what to wear? Doesn't that call into question your gender?

Trust me, I would never write anything here that in any way embarrasses me and/or people close to me,1 and there are good reasons for my confusing wardrobe situation as of yesterday afternoon.

First off, I find, on rare occasion, women who have diminished eyesight, and thus find it not completely and utterly repulsive to eat dinner with me; hence, the date. These women also have the nice side effect of being unaware of blogs written about me and/or dates.

Secondly, I had planned on my old reliable choice of dirty jeans and smelly t-shirt, the mainstay for any occasion in which I want to announce to the counterparty: I am penniless and entirely devoid of any sense of dating fashion propriety.

Sadly, said impropriety was interrupted when I was unable to determine the location of my good belt. This is confusing to me because:

A: I store my good belt on my belt rack.

B: I do not remove my good belt in any situation, other than to place the good belt on the belt rack.

Normally, this sort of activity wouldn't make it to a blog post, save this morning, my good belt was once again placed upon my belt rack.

Which would indicate that:

A: I searched for thirty (30) minutes all while the good belt was sitting in the most obvious location, or

B: An individual with access to my room removed the good belt, and replaced it while I slept.

Option A would indicate I'm a complete idiot, which is the obvious-and-yet-unacceptable solution, and so we're down to option B.

This is exciting, because there's nothing I like more than:

A: A detective story, and

B: Blaming my housemates for something

I have a long history with B, having once written a nice fiery passive aggressive note to my college roommates over the theft of one (1) raspberry-flavored Yoplait yogurt. This was warranted because:

A: Yoplait yogurt is my favorite yogurt, and

B: Raspberry is my favorite flavor, and

C: Yogurt costs approximately ninety-nine (99) cents, and

D: Isn't ninety-nine cents worth making a complete fool out of yourself and living with regret for the next six (6) years over your complete inanity?

After writing said note and exposing myself as:

A: A complete weenie, and

B: Absolutely insane

I promptly discovered the yogurt at the back of the fridge, which thing I have never discussed nor told any individual prior to this moment. Roommates, I'm sorry. You were right. I'm crazy. If you'll ever speak to me again, I'll buy you all the yogurt you want.

Which brings us to the belt. Contrary to the Yogurt Incident, I think it's fairly obvious my housemate snuck the belt. How else would he have snagged the girl he smooches loudly inches away from my bedroom window? And, along with smooching partner, how does he also have, I'm told, an out-of-state girlfriend? Only my good belt can work that sort of magic.

When women see that belt their typical reaction is to shout, "OMG. Just look at that!! I don't mind that you don't know how to wash a t-shirt, and that the only things you know how to cook after ten years of bachelorhood are french toast and frozen burritos. Will you marry me NOW??!"

And since I was deprived of said belt last night, all I got was a mumbled hello, and, an hour or so later, "I realize it's still light enough to get sunburned, but I'm a little tired, so could you take me home now?"2

Thanks a lot housemate.

This still leaves some questions, however. How exactly did he sneak it back in while I was asleep? Also, why exactly did he mumble "that was amazing" to his smooching partner after a loud thirty-minute smooch session that plagued my sleep this week? Was this in some way related to the future plan to steal my belt? Furthermore, is he just pretending to be napping with her in the living room right now, waiting for me to leave so he can steal the belt again?

These are the things I find confusing, and also the reason that I am incapable of having normal date conversations (and relationships).

She was not interested in the Mystery of the Belt. Not in the least.3

1. Please, have you read any of this? That's the sole reason said guide exists.
2. I'm just kidding. That didn't happen last night. That happened in high school. But she got the short end of the stick. She's probably happily married with two kids, and I got the best belt EVER.
3. Well, technically, I didn't bring it up. I managed to produce ever-so-interesting questions like, "what does your dad do?" and "what was your ideal day in DC like?" Good going Chris. Good going on that little snoozefest. Next time maybe I'll bring along my coin collection just to convince her I could put a rabid squirrel to sleep.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

gastrointestinal difficulties

The majority of humans on this planet have the good sense to time their gastrointestinal difficulties such that they occur in the comfort of one's home, or perhaps the relative comfort of one's office.

I, for example, have a coworker who built most of his career on his epic post-lunch gastroepisodes, including a very non-awkward meeting with the CEO, who may or may not have walked in through an unlocked restroom door on his traditional post-lunch magazine reading and miscellaneous other matters.1

Sadly, there are those of us, and I say this in the most general, most un-self-incriminating way possible, who restrict their moments of severe gastrointestinal distress for airplane flights, or perhaps during long, uninterruptable religious ceremonies, or, heaven forbid, during dates.

We shall not discuss the specifics of the first two scenarios, as it is highly unlikely that any individual encounter these events with amazingly precise frequency, and, if so, it is highly unlikely that said individual would ever speak of these experiences in public, due to the sheer weight of the agonizing emotional scarring.

Therefore, we shall confine our discussion to the third, and highly hypothetical situation of being confronted with gastrointestinal difficulties during two of the past four dates one has attended. You'll do me a favor to note that these numbers are entirely random, and in no way describe my recent life.

Normally, encountering said difficulties is not problematic, as forward-thinking individuals from eras past have gone to the trouble of installing billions of porcelain facilities that can assist one in said matters. Unfortunately, and for reasons I cannot and will not fully describe in detail here, the women you are currently on a date with, and trying your best to impress, together with society, by and large frown upon excessive usage of these facilities during short time periods.

I might add there are other methods of relieving some of the buildup of pressure, but, again, are frowned upon due to smell and/or sound.

Thus, one must endure.

It is critical that the right moment to excuse one's self is chosen. Go too early, and you may be forced into a second episode which surely nullifies your chances of a second date. Go too late, and you run the risk of bad timing. Luckily, you will have plenty of time to plan, as it will be the one sole thing on which your mind can focus.

Let us pause and consider the challenge of making small talk while the explosive equivalent of several rabid jaguars thrash within one's entrails.

Be warned: your moment of departure may be unduly delayed while she complains about work. When she finally pauses (oh glorious saving pause!), you are free to jump up and run to the nearest restroom.

Perhaps you intend to attempt the entire dinner without excusing yourself. Let me advise you against this in the strongest of terms. You could very well find yourself walking down the street next to her, cramped over like an old man, praying to find restroom facilities within one or two centimeters of your current position.

This can only (and did) end badly. In the best of scenarios, you make a hasty and sprinting exit.

This is not dignity, my son. This is not dignity.2

1. Now, some people will tell you that his very quick promotion had something to do with CEO guilt, but I will attest to his amazing skillz and worthiness for his current role.
2. My sincerest apologies for the crassness of the topic, but it had to be said. Luckily, my sprinting was swift.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

the ph.d.

Having been rejected from all sorts of Ph.D. programs, I am more than adequately qualified to instruct you in the finer points of Ph.D.s.

As a nerd approaches the end of his or her days of college, a looming tyrannical monster lies in wait at the end of the tunnel: the real world. As most nerds consider the real world to be just a slight variation of getting lockered in middle school,1 entering the real world produces no small amount of anxiety.

Have no fear, nerds! There is one grand and glorious crusade upon which you can embark that will guarantee eternal youth:2 the Ph.D.

The concept of the Ph.D. is simple: university professors around the world have to deal with college students on a day-to-day basis, which is unfortunate and undesired. To release their pent-up anger and frustration, they need lackeys to whip.

Enter the Ph.D. candidate.

For the fair wage of six peanuts a year, the brightest individuals in the world can be gathered and fed to angry professors like Brutus and Cassius to the great Satan in Dante's Inferno. In return, the students are given the chance to sell themselves to various professors/industries/funding bodies in order to survive and attempt to create "research" ex nihilo.

If they are successful, the students get three letters at the end of their name, and the chance to spend the rest of their lives at dinner parties telling people that no, they are not that kind of doctor.

If they fail, they're "washed out" by given the degree I killed myself to get: the Master's, which is latin for "possibly has the mental capacity to outsmart a fly on a good day".

If they manage to escape the maelstrom of the munching professors, the Ph.D. candidates are given a series of exams called quals, which is latin for "being waterboarded while strapped to the rack". In at least one segment of these exams, the Ph.D. candidate is brought before a group of professors, buried in an anthill, and required to write the kinematics on the blackboard by holding the chalk in their teeth.

Once recovered from this experience, the Ph.D. candidate spends approximately sixteen (16) years trying to find something that has not been researched before. At this point, most Ph.D. candidates either quit or take up some form of LSD, mainly to dull the pain and monotony the perpetual "when are you going to graduate and get a real job you bum" question.

The lucky Ph.D. candidates are those in the field of Economics. They typically soar through this period with flying colors, as there is one research project, equation, and graph in the whole of Economics, which is redone for every Ph.D. If the answer is the same, the result is named after the Ph.D. candidate (it's best if your name is Ito or Fisher or Scholes). If the answer is different, it's explained away by "stickiness", or "irrationality", or "you're a dirty socialist, just give me my degree already and let me make my bazillions".

Upon graduation, the Ph.D. candidate basks in the warmth of knowing she or he has accomplished something difficult, and then, failing to find a job in academia due to budget cuts, takes a job working for a college dropout.

Ph.D.s are wonderful shells of wonderful people. Treat them with respect and honor, and ignore the occasional quiet sobbing.3

1. For my friends unfamiliar with this phrase, please imagine a locker designed by bullies around the world to be exactly the height of a middle school boy. Then place a lock on said locker. Stuff a nerdy boy into said locker, close said door, and laugh your way down said hallway. We shall not be discussing the subject further.
2. And by eternal youth, I mean perpetual schooling and lackeyhood.
3. If it's not already apparent, I'm deeply jealous of Ph.D.s. I wish I could force people to call me doctor.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

bicycling

Some people drive, and some people use public transportation, but biking is the most efficient way to not get around town.

Whereas cars or public transit require you to spend money and emit carbon emissions to get to a point where the vehicle breaks down, when you're on a bicycle, you get to that point much sooner, and much more cheaply and environmentally friendly-ly.

Whereas cars have roadside assistance plans to bail you out, and public transit always has another unreliable bus or train to come get you, when you pop a tire on the other side of the Dumbarton Bridge, nine miles from home, and your spare tire promptly pops as well, you're on your own. You could have foreseen the possibility of said event happening and brought your cell phone along; though, after calling several friends to come pick you up, and getting answering machines for all of them, you might finally get ahold of one friend who is just exiting the gym, and is "really hungry", so could you please call someone else?

Bicycle tires enjoy popping. It's their favorite thing to do. You're at the farthest point of your ride? Pop. You're three miles away from work and it's about to rain? Pop. You're biking down the main drag of your college town, and a flat would require you to walk in shame as every single woman you have ever asked out in the past three years drives by in an exotic automobile? Pop.1

Luckily, however, bicycles don't require any gasoline, so you are spending less money than you would driving. You only have the weekly occurring cost of a flat tire due to the shards of glass that are considered streets in Redwood City ($6), the cost of a tune-up after lending your bike out ($80), and the cost of appearing like a sweaty fat dude every morning at work ($6,230).

Further benefits that accrue to you if you use a bike as your main form of transportation include getting honked at by a driver for having the audacity to use one of six lanes on an empty road.2 Though, in fairness, most drivers are quite decent.

If you're the adventurous type that enjoys meeting new challenges while wearing spandex, I highly recommend donning a bicycle. But not the spandex. Please, wear something loosely fitting. I beg.

1. That was a very long, very humbling walk.
2. A former roommate did the honking at one of my fellow bikers last night. I was shocked. Do you have any idea how jarring getting honked at while biking is? It's almost as jarring as being told "you just don't do it for me"...ummm, not that I would know...

independence day

Independence Day is the day in which Americans celebrate throwing off a tyrannical despotic regime that taxed America less than Britain. These celebrations typically center around acts intended to annoy one's neighbors.

The annoying acts commonly consist of holier-than-thou displays of patriotism, coupled with the explosion of perfectly good fireworks at any hour of the evening.

The level of patriotism of an individual can be gauged by the arsenal of fireworks accumulated for the Fourth of July. The bigger the arsenal, the more patriotic. In fact, even more patriotic individuals will store up an arsenal of a variety of illegal fireworks, eager to display love for one's country by ignoring its laws and eliciting hatred from one's neighbors.

And the MOST patriotic individuals will ensure these fireworks are the loudest, most annoying fireworks on the face of God's green earth, and will explode said fireworks twenty yards from the open window of one Chris Perry, and will do this every night for the two weeks leading up to the holiday, causing him several heart attacks and wettings of pants as he is woken up to the sound of explosions and flashes of light at unholy hours.

I'm really looking forward to the end of this holiday. But happy Independence Day anyways. And British friends, happy losing some of your colonies day.

Independence Day is also the name of a film of which I remember nothing, save that Dave Barry referred to the President as President Weenie, which thing I have never forgotten, nor have stopped laughing at.

management

Let's face it: lot of people don't have what it takes to be a successful manager.1 Thankfully, there are those of us who are management gurus, who can guide you in your management tasks. I'd like to take a few moments to evangelize and drive some holistic global strategic initiatives, so that you can maximize the value-add of your core competency.2

When an employee is no longer able to perform any task that requires the slightest modicum of skill, that employee is immediately promoted to management. Should you find yourself in the unenviable position of producing "value" for your company, begin wandering the office muttering to yourself random phrases from your Buzzword Flash Cards, occasionally yelping with the ferocity of a Colombian Spider Monkey. You will be promoted by the end of the week.3

Once in management, it is absolutely essential that you pick up the lingo. Though buzzwords get you halfway, there are still a variety of phrases that the successful manager employs to simultaneously revolt and disgust her or his employees. Do not underestimate the difficulty of this task; they have entire schools and degree programs dedicated solely to the pursuit of inane idioms.

For example, you should make at least one reference to "bells and whistles" each and every day. If you find yourself inundated by actual work, speak about playing whack-a-mole, calling a fire drill, soliciting all hands on deck, or share a fake laugh with your fellow managers about herding cats, even if none of you knows a thing about herds, herding, riding a horse, being outside, seeing sunlight, or cats, but you do know how to watch television, and can understand irony via visual CGI cues.

At the end of the day,4 if you're all out of ideas, you could always finish off a meeting by making reference to "opening the kimono". Let us, for now, ignore the horrendous negative externality you are inflicting upon humanity as at least one of the individuals present to hear you use that phrase will, for eternity, be subjected to a mental image of you, an overweight, hairy, Texan, opening his kimono every time the word kimono is ever used ever ever ever. A million poxes upon you and your stray cats for that.

Successful management involves making other people do work, and making decisions that are in no way correlated to actual "data", or anything that could be construed as "data", unless you believe your preconceived notions acquired from a different project in a different company in a different crack-induced hallucination and in a different dimension entirely constitute "data".

That being said, the absolute, most successful managers task individuals with discovering data, then ignore that data when making their decision. There are no other words to describe this other than sheer malevolent brilliance.

The consequences of being in management are: higher pay, more control over your destiny, and a complete immunity from mistakes. If you do no work, you can make no mistakes. You bat 1000 every day. Of course, you could make a bad decision, but those are easily explained away by referencing "changing market conditions", or, more commonly, blaming your lackeys (employees).

In summary, I would like to mention that all of my past, future, and current managers are bright, brilliant, beautiful, and benevolent. May inspired sunlight rest on every memo you send me, and may happy ducks accompany you at 5:00 PM on the dot every evening on your way home.

1. And we call those people "productive employees".
2. I should thank my brother Jeremiah for the inspiration behind this phrase, as well as this week's topic.
3. I have personally exploited this strategy successfully, though substitute "muttering" with "singing", and "random phrases" with "songs from the best musicals of all time", and "yelping" with "dancing like Dick Van Dyck in Mary Poppins".
4. Please note the irony of the use of this, the most hateful of phrases, here in a post describing the Hated Phrases. I have met the enemy, and he is me.