Sunday, July 31, 2011

cowboys and aliens

I'm not a regular theatre goer per se, especially since the stumbling-into-my-buddy-and-his-in-laws-at-Star-Trek-and-they-realizing-I-was-going-to-a-nerd-movie-alone fiasco, but this weekend I stepped out with some buddies to go view the nuanced sure-to-be-classic Cowboys and Aliens.

If my mother is reading, let me state that title was a typo. I actually went to see an animated film with an MPAA rating of somewhere south of G, and no, I do not think Olivia Wilde is stunningly attractive, and no, I do not have her wikipedia page up right now.

Obviously, any movie with Olivia Wilde will capture my attention. Any genre is made better by her presence. For instance:

Hospital dramas?


Hospital dramas with psychopathic drug-addict genius doctors?




Sci-fi thrillers where you don't care one bit about anybody else because they are super lame and the plot is terrible but holy cow is that music amazing and did she really just smile like that?




Sci-fi Westerns?


Sci-fi Westerns with an Amnesiac James Bond fighting with a Cowboy-an Harrison Ford?

Ye...wait. That's already about the best thing anyone can imagine. Sorry. It doesn't get any better than that.

Harrison Ford anywhere is pretty much the pinacle of coolness. That is one of your basic movie-going principles. He's like Carey Grant, except he can punch you out. Add James Bond, and how can you possibly go wrong? You can't. That's the only answer.

That's not to say they didn't try. Let's review the plot.

I feel obligated to give you a spoiler alert at this point in time, but I'm not sure why you would care, because if you're going to see this movie, you're going for Harry and Olivia, not the plot.

Daniel Craig wakes up in the desert.
He kills some people.
He rides to town.
Olivia Wilde hits on him.
For reasons that cannot be explained by any modern means, he does not offer to massage her feet for the rest of his waking moments, but, in what must be the only instance of this occurrence ever, tells her to bug off.
He is arrested.
Harrison Ford shows up.
He's mad.
Aliens attack everyone.
Daniel Craig kills some people.
Olivia Wilde follows him around. He is obviously still undergoing some profound mental psychosis, as he does not propose to her.
Everyone teams up to track down the aliens, who are smart enough to fly spaceships, and not smart enough to, I dunno, not get tracked down.
Daniel Craig kills some people.
Aliens attack everyone.
Daniel Craig kills some people.
Olivia Wilde dies.
In an attempt to explain her freakish good looks, Olivia Wilde reveals herself to be an alien.
Oh, and she's alive again. Because that's what hot aliens can do.
They team up with some Apaches and promote racial tolerance.
Daniel Craig kills some people.
They attack the alien lair.
More racial tolerance.
Daniel Craig kills some people.
Olivia Wilde dies.
So do the aliens.
Everyone is happy, mainly because earth is saved, but also because they just made hundreds of millions of dollars off of suckers like you.

This is one of many film genres being re-done these days with the inclusion of aliens. I'm sure we can look forward to such titles as:

Walk the Line with Aliens
The Shalien Redemption
Lawrence of hey, we just put together a few frames of aliens photoshopped into a desert landscape along with occasional shots of Olivia Wilde so pay up chump
Schindler's Aliens
Indian Jones and the Crystal Alie...oh. Wait.

things you should not complain about on the complete guide to everything lest your local company intern read said publication and approach you afterwards, and, with supreme disappointment in your intellect registering in his innocent eyes, inform you that one can, in fact, control the temperature of the shower, if one is not incompetent like myself

Workplace showers.

And I'm sorry Ted. I'll try to not be dumb in the future. In my defense, it's not completely obvious.

Friday, July 22, 2011

smart phones

A few years ago I purchased my first smart phone on a whim, and let me tell you, that has proven to be one of the best decisions of my life.1

I love how whenever I go home my family rolls their eyes at my smart phoning ways, calling me "frivolous", "bad with money", and "incapable of getting married due to your bizarre fear of asking women out on weekend evenings".2 This all because I spend "money" on a phone bill instead of "borrowing" minutes on my in-laws' family plan, and for some other reasons I didn't hear them say because I was checking Twitter.

Sure, I might be spending approximately six times what the average non-dumb-as-a-stump American does, but can you quantify the effect of looking cool? Or the benefit of viewing cats tapping on keyboards wherever you are in the world?

I submit that you cannot.

To this day, among my seven siblings, I alone have a smart phone. They obviously don't know what they're missing. I think the benefits are obvious.

I need a smart phone so I can:

  • get emails from my friends telling me about their smart phones
  • play solitaire when speaking to people becomes so boring my brain is at risk of melting out of my nose3
  • take grainy videos of my niece singing her love for Justin Bieber and then force my sister to watch them and fake enough laughter to get me to leave her alone
  • have something to pull out of my pocket and check compulsively whenever I am standing stationary for more than thirteen milliseconds
  • pretend it really did just vibrate next to my leg instead of being creeped out by the fact that my thigh occasionally goes into phone-vibration-like spasms just to trip me out
  • keep up on the latest news telling me what smart phone to buy4
  • have something to compulsively plug in and charge whenever I go anywhere
  • improve my ability to estimate trajectories of birds being launched from slingshots in an alternate universe where Newtonian physics has been abolished in favor of what can only be described as Randomian Mobilemassochistian physics

Of course, my sister Bekah laughs at my obsession with this "waste of time", but that's easy for you to say, Mrs. I Don't While Away My Free Time Stuck On Level 3-14 of a Pointless Game Because I'm Out Training and Competing in Double Marathons. Well, you'll be sorry when the zombie apocalypse hits and your only mode of defense is a slingshot and some diseased avian carcasses. A fat lot of good your skill of running at high speeds for long distances will do you when the country is encompassed by a sea of slow moving undead.

Oh, wait.

Smart phones are also great because a new one comes out every month. If you're into coveting like myself, you can't even figure out all of your phone's features before you can start craving a younger, more slender, petite, and flashy option.5

Speaking of learning features, I love my new smart phone, which lets me do amazing things like turn on NFC and watch my battery drain down for no apparent reason. My poor old smart phone of 2008 sure couldn't do anything like that. No siree. All it could do was browse the internet, send email, play music, take pictures, and play games at glacially slow speeds...which pretty much describes my smart phone usage today, except the playing music bit, because I haven't figured that out yet. But boy oh boy, I'm sure my new smart phone could play some sweet music for the thirty seconds of battery life that would remain if I turned on anything besides basic smoke signaling.

Unfortunately, having purchased phones at an average rate of one every eight months during my adult life, I promised my sister and niece that I would hold onto my current phone for a full two years. I'm stuck with my current dead battery smart phone for the time being. Unless, of course, something woefully terrible were to happen to it the day of the new iPhone launch...

1. Let us not revisit the cacophony of bad decisions above which this rises. That I own a laser leveler for reasons which I still find inexplicable should give you an idea of the quality of decisions I am capable of making. Exhibit B: the grenade dud I purchased from Smith and Edwards (best store ever) as a boy scout and have carted around with me ever since. Why? I cannot say.
2. This is, of course, false. My fear is perfectly normal. Weekend dates mean you can't get away with dropping her off at seven thirty after dinner and slithering away to go play with your smart phone...and I'm suddenly struck by the fact that it is currently a Friday evening, and I have spent it reading the Economist and writing this. I. Am. Awesome.
3. I feel terrible about this, but I have seriously started a game while talking to someone. It was either that or fall asleep. Or maybe drop into a coma.
4. Incidentally, can I just state what a cursed day it is when you reach the end of your news feed? There's nothing as depressing as hitting the bottom of Google Reader and realizing you have just reached the end of any intelligent commentary that can be found on the internet related to things you obsess about, and being forced to go back and click through old Daring Fireball posts your buddy shared and cringing every time you read that his company just made enough money to buy Ireland.
5. To be clear: I am still referring to smart phones. And yes, I realize I made almost this same joke a few weeks ago. Sue me.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

workplace showers

One of the nice things about my new job is that there's a shower in the office.

Of course, there was a shower in my last office too, but it didn't include the see-through shower door pointing directly into the men's restroom so your co-workers could appreciate your finely-tuned physique while they wash their hands.1

The one downside to our shower is that the water is piped up directly from the pits of hell, which means, sure, you can shower, but you're not guaranteed to have skin when you finish, or even maintain the ability to father children.


Pro tip: Memorize the exact position of the shower gel you intend to steal so you can replace it without alerting the owner to your theft.

1. Which reminds me of an amazing story involving two women, a U-shaped apartment complex, an ignorance of the true shower window transparency, and some really excited male neighbors. Unrelated note: I believe in a statute of limitations on sworn secrets. Sorry. At least I didn't name names.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

things which inhibit your ability to be taken seriously at work

Showing up after a "short" bike ride into the office in which you "did not expect to sweat", and if you did, you theorized "nobody would notice", and, well, um...let's just say it all ended with me being surrounded by people shocked and slack-jawed.1

1. Note to self: stow extra t-shirt in office in the event yours is completely drenched.2
2. Note to self: do not publicly reference your finely-tuned ability to sweat ever again.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

the theory of interest

The theory of interest is one of my favorite subjects. I own a whole book on it. Every chapter ends with a series of exercises, all of which can be answered with the sentence: "No, she's not".

Just kidding! Not that interest!1

I'm talking about interest rate theory as applied to money. Oh yeah. I'm so good with interest rate theory that I once derived four flavors of annuity formulas from scratch one day when I was bored in church.2

When trying to derive these formulas, it's always good to start off slow, so let's look at the future value formula:

FV = X * (1 + i)n

See how easy that was? That's how much money you'll make by sequestering your money away in a theoretical account that pays theoretical interest.

Now, and please don't take this to mean that inspiration received during church meetings isn't true, but this isn't actually the full formula. In school, they always leave out that pesky last constant:

FV = X * (1 + i)n - C

Where C represents 1/2 * X * (1 + i)n, or half of everything you make.

In Actuarial circles, this constant is commonly referred to as the ChrisPerryIsInvestingAgainAndWillLoseHalfofHisMeagerEarningsLikeAlways constant, and, if you actually stayed awake in High School math instead of drawing pirate ships on test questions,3 you'll recognize it as a variable, not a constant.

In upper-division math classes, the kind that my Engineering brothers and sister attended and I did not because I was too dumb, this is common knowledge. It's also common knowledge among IRS auditors, who, last month, discovering that I neglected to apply for a tax writeoff for my loss of ten thousand dollars in the tax year 2009 (due to the equation above), decided to add insult to injury, and bill me an extra...ten thousand dollars in taxes for that year. This makes sense, because, in the even more upper-division math classes, tax is calculated by the formula of:

T = W

Where W represents the WhateverWeCanBillChrisWithoutLaughingSoHardWeSnortAPileOfPhlegmOntoOurHandsRightBeforeACoworkerTriesToShakeHandsWithUsAndNoIDoNotSpeakFromExperience constant. This is also technically a variable.

Another great topic related to the theory of interest is the Black-Scholes model for pricing options. Now, I realize this gets into calculus, and if you're a BYU Econ student, you start moaning at its mere mention, but hold on with me as I show you how you can price options:

C = Y * 1,000,000

Where the variable Y is equal to 1 if you turn down the job offer at the tech company that, four years later goes public and would have made you a paper millionnaire,4 and is equal to...much less for whatever job you may have accepted.

This is the sort of theory that makes it difficult to acquire interest, from both money and women.

Now if you'll excuse me, I got online this morning to cry like a baby and file tax amendments, and I'm all out of Kleenex.5

1. Even if that's true.
2. Notice how I am coyly not telling you in which church meeting this was, lest my mother read this. But I'll give you a hint: it rhymes with shmeneral dogference.
3. True story.
4. Not that I am still in mourning over that hypothetical theoretical construct. Not that I've just gone through and listed everything I would have done if I were a millionnaire today. And not that I'm crying scalding tears of
5. Literally. I really should buy some so the next time I sneeze right before shaking hands it's not super awkward as I pretend to be carrying something really important in my right hand. Uhh, sorry, got this toothbrush. Can't shake hands.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Wizardly Image Rehab

Dear Lord Voldemort1,

Let me congratulate your magical prowess. Word has it you have taken the wizarding world by storm. I must say I admire your talent.

Despite this, I feel I should tell you your reputation is less than stellar. I have read all seven books, and I just finished watching the first half of the Movie That Was Split In Two Not For Financial Reasons In Fact For Other Undisclosed Reasons But Definitely Not To Make More Money From This Franchise, and I must say I can see why. I think some small changes in your approach could do wonders for your public image.

Let me first tell you that many people I know refer to you as You-Know-Who. I think this shows a real weakness in your Voldemort brand. You should probably mount a marketing campaign and hire a PR consultant.

It was impossible to notice in the books and difficult to discern from the films, but it has become clear to me that you have bad breath. This is clear from the looks of your followers whenever you draw close. My wife has recommended Listerine to me with adequate results.

Finally, I do not wish to offend, but something must be done about your nose, or more to the point, your lack of nose. Any wizard worth their salt could make a better nose than you now have. Surely you can do something about it.

I do hope your upcoming final confrontation with Harry Potter turns out well. Most would agree that he is the heavy favorite, given how the books turn out, and I think it funny that even though we've all read the books, we still go to the movies, for what reason I don't know, so I think even a draw should give you much satisfaction. Best of luck next week, and I remain, as ever,

Your Faithful Advisor,


1. I must confess, my wife caught me in church jotting notes down for this post, and I sorta kinda told her I was texting my mom, which was also true, and we all know texting in church is better than taking notes for blog posts.

Saturday, July 2, 2011


Back before efficiency was invented, our Northern California forefathers tried to figure out a way to descend along the peninsula from paradise to the miserable pit of fog known as San Francisco. After a lot of thought and deliberation of convenient alternatives, they eventually decided on Caltrain; coincidentally, also the answer to the Jeopardy clue: "The second worst way to travel in the Bay Area".1

I kiiid, I kiiiid. Caltrain is awesome. Who doesn't like avoiding the pain and misery of driving in traffic? Instead of traveling the peninsula on a freeway clogged with cars traveling at an average speed of 50 MPH, you can sit in the relative comfort of a cloud of diesel fumes while traveling on the baby "bullet" at an average speed of...50 MPH.

If you're not sold by the speed, maybe the price will catch your eye. Instead of forking over $6.50 to terrorist causes via gas purchases for the truck you acquired, not realizing that you would be forced to drive roughly triple what you did when you owned a car that got about a zillion miles per gallon, you can fork over Caltrain fares of...$6.75.

Of course, your fare purchase doesn't go directly to the terrorists, it goes by way of the Clipper card, so named after the ships of yore that took approximately twelve minutes to be scanned by stone-age card readers,2 all while entitled cyclists created a giganto line fumbling for their ever-so-technological cards.3

But, having said all that,4 let me be serious for a moment and state that I do actually love Caltrain. I love it like I love the girl who rejected me that one time: sure, it hates and disappoints me, but I keep on coming back because it's beautiful, it moves with such grace, such fluidity, and maybe, just maybe this time I'll find her a changed, train.

1. Bart, Home of the Screaming Banshees™, naturally, being the first. And I realize I just authored a post using the term banshees. I'm sorry. I had a nightmare last night. And I really want to re-watch Darby O'Gill and the Little People. THE BANSHEEEEEEES!
2. Conveniently placed at locations along the platform that make it impossible to catch the train in a hurry, as you are forced to jog along the mile-long platform with your bike, your right leg wrapped in an orange nerd bracelet, helmet flapping on top, while the conductor smiles, chuckles, and closes the doors.
3. The Clipper Card. Motto: a lamer version of London's oyster card.
4. Awkwardly, I am currently writing this on the Caltrain platform, where moments ago some teenaged girl walked up, and, from five feet away, apparently threw her phone at my backpack on the ground. I don't even understand how that was possible.

reasons to listen to and accept advice from all sources, up to, and including, your father

Let me tell you a story.

On the day when I left home to make my way in the world, my daddy took me to one side.

"Son," my daddy says to me, "I am sorry I'm not able to bankroll you to a very large start, but not having the necessary letters to get you rolling, instead I'm going to stake you to some very valuable advice.

"One of these days in your travels, a guy is going to show you a brand-new Ikea bed of which the packaging is not yet broken. Then this guy is going to offer to bet you that you can buy that brand-new Ikea bed and not spend the next month in a waking hell listening to the sounds of a thousand screaming banshee mice as your bed attempts to do you permanent ear damage every time you shift in the slightest degree. But, son, do not accept this bet, because as sure as you stand there, you're going to wind up with an ear full of mousey battle cries."1

1. As much as it pains me to say it, Michelle, you were right. Unrelatedly, anybody want to buy an Ikea loft bed? You'll love it. It does not squeak. At. All.