Tuesday, December 11, 2012

baking bread

Lately my wife has been participating in the semi-annual hazing ritual known as "finals", which has left me with some free time to do things like "read the Economist", "read the New York Times", and no, I am not playing that racing game that I swore I'd never play again, I promise.

Along with those activities, I thought I'd showcase my innate homemaking skills that have laid latent throughout our marriage, and I've been making bread for the wifey.

Britt mentioned this to a friend of ours, and she reacted with an emotion most appropriately described as shock, which was mildly offensive to me, because of course I make bread because of course I do everything awesome. She asked how I learned, and Britt said "the internet", and I, thinking that sounded much too coarse and unrefined and truthful, said my mother, who I have witnessed pulling loaves of bread out of the oven many, many times.

In any event, I figured I'd pass along my bread-making secrets to you today.

Step 1: Go buy some bread

No, I kid! I'd never advocate for you saving yourself about four hours and dozens upon dozens of dishes for what you can pick up at the grocery store for a measly two bucks. I'm serious! Don't just go buy that bread and pretend like you made it because then you'd be forced to spend the next luxurious, relaxed four hours of your life playing that stupid addicting and pointless hill-climbing racing game1 while your wife slaves away in abject misery.

Step 2: Follow the recipe

This may surprise you, but baking bread requires the intelligence of a six year old. If you could build monorail lego systems while hopped up on cinnamon rolls after four hours of sleep on Christmas morning, I'm pretty sure you can follow some directions that involve five ingredients which don't get lost in the folds of your Fraggle Rock footie pajamas.

Step 3: Try not to contemplate the probability that your arm hair made it into the dough

In the true spirit of step 3, I will say no more, except that, while I have no evidence this has ever occurred, the nightmarish scenario entered my head last night and refuses to let me live in peace ever again.

Step 4: Spend the rest of the evening telling your wife what an awesome husband she landed

This step isn't tied to making bread specifically, so be sure and repeat this for any number of small things you do: taking a shower, putting on deodorant, picking up your socks, washing a dish, desisting from creating foul smells, getting the mail, avoiding garlic, etc.

1. THE LEVELS GO ON AND ON AND ON WHY CAN I NOT STOP I HATE IT SO MUCH.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

ways to identify yourself as a tourist in san francisco

  1. Call it Frisco.
  2. Complain about your measly $200K mortgage.
  3. Don't be homeless.
  4. Indicate that Southern California is a nice place to live.
  5. Attempt to swim in the ocean.
  6. Don't pee on the street.
  7. Have kind feelings about Oakland, 880, or the East Bay in general.
  8. Wear shorts in July.
  9. Be surprised when you are verbally assaulted by a pack of Santa Claus Strippers.1
  10. Visit Alcatraz. Expect it to be something other than the most boring abandoned building in America.
  11. Be surprised when you see decriminalization of prostitution on the ballot.
  12. Attempt to park in North Beach.

1. This is a true story.

Friday, September 7, 2012

fishing

One of the joys of growing up in Utah, aside from the wonder that is cracked and bleeding dry skin, or being taught that dinosaurs and humans coexisted, was waking up on those magical days when your dad wanted to take you "fishing", or, in his words, "beating you senseless with dreary monotony".1

Fishing is sort of like playing baseball: you sit around picking grass waiting for your dad to take you home.

My dad loved fishing because it gave him an excuse to sit around camp on sharp rocks tying knots with invisible fishing line instead of working at his job where he made hundreds of dollars a minute and sat in comfy chairs while people fanned him with palm fronds.

The most important part of fishing is selecting your "bait", or, as they call it in the medical community, "the placebo". Some people would have you believe that it doesn't matter what you put on the end of your line, that you'll never catch a fish in your entire life because A. fish aren't native to the 5x5 ponds that are the only form of water in your desert home state, and B. even if they were, fish usually avoid places where legally blind kids covered in snot are throwing rocks in the water.

I have something to say to those people: you're right.

The second most important part of fishing is filling up your bubble. A bubble is a device which can never be sealed once opened, and helps you fish by spraying water on people behind you whenever you cast.

The best part of fishing, of course, is gutting the fish making your dad gut the fish. Next best is informing your dad that you would rather starve than eat that horrific thing, then listening to him mutter something about disputed paternity.

I love fishing. I must have gone five four three times with my dad, and I loved every minute of those drives away from the mountains.

1. Those were not his words. About fishing at least. Possibly about church. Okay. Definitely about church.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

places you should never park your car because vandals are known to stick "mystery spot" bumper stickers on your car and leave you advertising the most non-destination in america to befuddled drivers everywhere

The Mystery Spot, Santa Cruz, California.1

1. This is the only logical explanation for the preponderance of such stickers in the bay area. For seven years this has confused me. Why is anybody advertising that place if not because they were vandalised by overzealous mystery spot employees? Can anyone really seriously advertise a place that claims a "magical wizard flew down from Gum Drop Fairytale land and cast a spell on the site which made the gravity all wonky"??? Really?? WHY ARE THERE SO MANY OF THOSE BUMPER STICKERS PEOPLE IT MAKES NO SENSE.

Friday, July 20, 2012

where I prove americans are fat using data

The other day, the Economist published a chart in one of its blogs showing a map of inactivity rates by countries. The data is based on a study published in the Lancet, where inactivity is defined as less than 30 minutes of moderate-intense activity five times a week, or 20 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity three times a week, or a combination of both.

Argue all you want with the definition, but I was really curious to see how that correlated to obesity rates by countries. So I looked at it.

I, ahem, borrowed the inactivity data from the Lancet, and got the latest obesity data from the WHO (it's not all super current), where obesity is defined as having a BMI greater than 30. And then I plotted it here:

Of course, that graph isn't very useful, because all of the names collide, and what you really want is something interactive, but I couldn't do that in R very well, so I did it in Highcharts here:

If you click on that you'll be taken to a magical place where you can hover over dots and see countries and relevant statistics. Some countries are missing either due to poor merging on my part or absence in one source or the other.

I also ran a quick and dirty linear model and plotted the line on both graphs (which you can toggle on at the bottom for the Highcharts version). The slope of that line is .2681 and is significant (p value = .01); for every percentage point increase in activity, you'd expect the obesity rate to rise by .2681 percentage points.1 Of course, r-squared on that line is only .096, so inactivity rates only explain 9.6% of the variance in obesity rates; I bet that if we included caloric intakes we'd see a much fuller picture.2

And while this doesn't actually mean anything, the y-intercept of the line is at 6.4; even if inactivity rates were 0, we'd still see a population obesity rate of 6.4. Assuming, of course, that extrapolation of naively-simplistic models based on methodologically questionable data can be trusted. And why not? It worked at LTCM and Washington Mutual and Bear Stearns.

Anyways, the point of this post, like the majority of my complaints, centers around the truthism that Americans are fat. The end. Now off to the gym.3

1. Not percent, percentage points, don't even get me started on that terminology here.
2. Get it? Fuller? Filled out? Because we're talking about obesity?! Because fuller is what you say when someone is fa...okay, I get it, this is not funny.
3. I'd like to thank Highcharts and R for their awesomeness, the Economist for being the best news publication in the history of the universe, and the WHO and the Lancet for not suing me for borrowing data.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

the people of redwood city

Since moving into our place in downtown Redwood City, we've really taken to the city quite well. We can get to Whole Foods (across the street) faster than my mother can get to her pantry in her house in Salt Lake. We can walk to movie theaters, donut shops, a zillion taquerias, and tons of great restaurants in just minutes from our place. It's really quite charming.

This is surprising to a Palo Alto snob like myself who once referred to any zip code containing affordable housing (sub-$1 million) as "the ghetto".

The best part about Redwood City, of course, is its people. Just like any slice of Americana, we get a lot of your traditional characters here:

The friendly UPS guy
Our nice landlady
The Russian who spends every waking moment of his life waiting for you to open up your balcony door, then runs outside to light up boxes of cigarettes and laugh maniacally at your misery1
The welcoming supermarket clerk
Your OCD neighbor, who wears a hoodie tight around his face, and opens and closes the door a dozen times before entering or leaving his apartment, many times just to enter/leave again.
The caring church members
The lady who dances on the side of the street during rush hour, and then, when you and your wife are jogging by one day, attempts to stop you by saying, "I don't want to get in your way, but I think you should know that if you're not married, you need to go to confession at the Catholic church", and when your wife responds that you are, in fact married, she replies, "WELL GOOD BECAUSE NOBODY ELSE WANTS YOU!", then as we run off, shouts, "THANKS FOR TAKING HER OFF THE STREETS!!!"

Really, it's the people of Redwood City who make it so great here, and we really love you for it.

1. I would really like to apologize to my Russian friends for disliking that man. Truly, I love Russians. Just not that one countryfellow of yours. He moved out this week, though, so we can open up the window without worry.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

orange cars

We all love old people for their old-timey charm, their rambling stories, the voting bloc they represent that makes balanced budgeting political suicide, their insistence on stealing the pulpit at church multiple times to harass you about going to a blood drive, then calling you at home later to try to sign you up for an appointment instead of just letting you use the American Red Cross website like god intended, and the poorly-written wills they leave behind that currently help employ my wife.

But we also love them for their driving abilities, which are, I assure you, TOP NOTCH.

One thing I especially love about old people is the old-timey way they merge onto the old-timey freeway that wait, isn't old timey at all, it's a speeding blur of death to EVERYONE WHO WOULD BE SO RIDICULOUSLY STUPID AS TO TRY AND ENTER WHILE GOING 40 MPH YOU CRAZY MORON.

Which is why, as your president, my first act would be to mandate that all persons aged seventy and above would be required to drive cars painted bright orange. You just turned seventy and you want to keep driving? Well, your car is orange now.

That way, when I'm trying to decide if I have enough time to pass you on the onramp, I can see that your car is clearly painted orange to indicate you have little to no clue as to the hazard you are presenting others by going speeds first achieved in the Mesozoic Era, and the rest of us can avoid you like the plague.

Also, no driving after dark, because, sorry, it'll be harder to spot you out there.

Thanks for beating the Nazis, and yes, this is your reward, we love you.

Signed,

America1

1. I blame Tina Fey for this post. She just HAD to mention in her book that she doesn't have a driver's license, and since she's my wife's hero, my wife let hers expire too. Having just read this footnote to my wife, she reminds me David Sedaris doesn't have one either. Fine. You're right. I'll keep driving you around like a fabulously wealthy comedian.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

your data is always wrong and other things I wish I knew a long time ago

Data analysis is tough work. I've been doing it for eight years or so, and I still have an infinite amount to learn and master.

However, there are a few things I have picked up, and some of them are simple enough for the 22-year-old Chris Perry to understand, so I'd like to formally request that whenever any of my descendants gets around to inventing time travel,1 they pass these on to my former self.

The first item you should tell young Chris Perry, of course, is to INVEST EVERY DIME YOU HAVE in Apple stock while it's sub-$50/share, just like your roommate John IS TELLING YOU TO DO EVERY NIGHT YOU IDIOT, but I'll spare you the rest of the non-data-related items for today.

Your data is always wrong

Always.

Your data is always wrong.

It's wrong for all sorts of reasons: the data collection mechanism is broken, the servers went down, there are strange confounding effects due to your pseudo-random selection, ghosts are somehow causing weird corner cases every millionth row, solar flares, you can name them all, but the real reason is this: just like mom said, life isn't fair.

Data is not perfect. It never has been. It never will be. Your stats teacher couldn't tell you that because she wanted to perpetuate the myth of some Santa Clausian dataset which exists without blemish and travels the world giving gifts to Analysts on every Pi Day Eve, but the truth is the world is just imperfect, and there are always imperfections in your data.

Always.

Once you accept this, you'll be a much better analyst. The data you are looking at, right this second, is wrong. Most data isn't so terribly wrong that you need to go running around outside screaming that the Bayesians are coming, because it usually falls within the margin of error,2 so you're usually okay, but you must always keep this in mind.

Thou shalt not give bad results

This is the only commandment in all of data analysis. You can never ever transgress the the most holy commandment and make a mistake that causes you to deliver bad results.

This does not contradict my first point, because there's a big difference between calling Indiana for McCain and telling me that 84% of the U.S. population is Jewish. I did the former, and I blame the margin of error, and I saw the latter happen and it wasn't pretty.

If you quote numbers to your boss, you are held to a high standard. If you retract them later after you discover an error, or worse, someone else does, you look like an idiot. You must be right.

Know your numbers

Speaking of, be sure and know your numbers. Before you present to anyone, have the answers to a few obvious questions they might ask about those numbers on the tip of your tongue. To use a completely hypothetical example, if you were to list out segments of your user base that return at high rates, you might want to, and again, this is completely hypothetical, have stats prepared on what those people do when they return, you nincompoop.

Have relevant figures ready and in your head when presenting. It will help you not look stupid. Trust me.

Always double check

Even if you just spot-check a result or two by hand, you really need to verify your results.

If you were a software developer, you would have the privilege of writing code that can, at absolute bare minimum, be released and tested on users out in the wild, and by their screams and angry hacker news comments and your burning servers, you'd be able to tell that something is broken.

Not so for data analysis. If your code is buggy, you are screwed beyond belief. With satanically horrific frequency, it is often not at all obvious that there are problems with your results.

If you're not verifying your results using some independent method, then you are just relying on your own gut check to make sure the numbers are right, and let me tell you, relying on your so-called "gut check" just means you're going to get your gut checked by a physician someday soon because when the CEO calls you out for screwing something up, you will learn the true meaning of ulcerating.

You can ignore some stuff

BUT DON'T IGNORE THE WRONG STUFF.

It's routine and common to see numbers that are close-ish to each other and declare it's it's close enough for government work,3 and continue on. And that usually works.

But, and going back to your gut here, sometimes you'll see something just a little bit off, and you'll have this momentary little nagging thought that'll tell you to investigate that further.

If you ignore this, you will almost certainly regret it. Write it down, and check it out later when you've fallen out of your groove and you need something else to spend time on before you get stuck going back and ensuring compliance with your logging spec.

You will always perform a task another time

At least. Always. Without fail. No wait, let me hear you tell me that this analysis is special and you're only doing it this one time, so you're just going to whip up some cheap code and you won't save it, or maybe, horror of horrors, you just plan on doing something by hand in Excel,4 and let me tell you that it is a Grand Law of the Universe that either your boss, your co-worker, or you will want you to do it again in the future, or an analysis almost exactly like unto it.

You are one hundred percent guaranteed to do it again. Therefore, script it. You must script it. If it's not easily repeatable by script, you have failed.

I once had a data export project for a product worth literally millions of dollars that depended on one guy who fiddled with some exporter by hand, thinking he would only have to do it once. We did it over a dozen times. It wasn't until the dozenth that I realized he was doing it by hand, and I suddenly understood why he wanted to stick me with a rusty shiv every time I came down telling him it blew up again.

Document your scripts

While you're scripting, please, for the love of everything happy and kind on this earth, please document your scripts. You learned the comment character in your language of choice. Use it. You'll thank yourself in a year.

Also, spend an extra ten seconds and think of a descriptive name for your script. Make it really easy to find.

Lastly, naming your variables bob, jim, foo1, foo2, etc., makes for a very sad you eons later when you're trying to decipher what went on.5 You are guaranteed to forget everything about the script you are now writing within a week. I promise.

Always start small

I know it always seems like your code is bug free, and you can run the analysis over the entire dataset, and it doesn't matter if you have to wait a minute or two for results, because, hey, even if there is a bug in your code, there will only be one, and you'll only need to re-run it once, and the Easter Bunny is real and someday a politician will voluntarily balance the budget.

No. I normally hesitate to contradict people in such strong of terms, but you are an idiot. Your code has errors, and you're going to need a few cycles in order to iron it all out, and you'll save yourself a lot of wasted time if you just run everything on a small subset, then, once you're sure everything works, run it on the entire dataset.

Even if this is only a difference of 30 seconds, you will still save yourself loads of time, because do you know what happens to your brain when you wait for 30 seconds in order to change something? It shuts off completely and starts singing the theme song to Spongebob Squarepants. You are taxing your faculties trying to maintain everything in your mental memory, so keep the feedback loop as short as possible.

There are two steps to performing analysis

Step 1: Spec out what you are going to do.
Step 2: Do it.

If you try and merge those steps, and just set off down your road less traveled with your silly hopes and dreams, you're going to run into that tree down the path, and instead of busting out your chainsaw and knocking that sucker out of the way, you're going to alter your course a little bit to the left because, hey, it's still roughly the same direction and it'll kind of get you to the same place, and maybe you'll mumble something about the law of large numbers on your way.

No.

Spec out exactly what you are going to do as a separate and distinct step. This will force you to have the discipline necessary to tackle the roadblocks that fall in your path, instead of sissying out and performing a crummier analysis for it.

You need a data buddy

You need someone to bounce ideas off of, to help you think through big problems, and, in general, be a sounding board. Find someone smart who isn't afraid to tell you you're wrong. You'll thank her or him, and me, later when you produce, as Moe said, "the best damn [analysis] in town!"6

1. And you're taking your sweet time you insouciant child.
2. This term was invented by statisticians to force other disciplines to give us a break whenever our numbers are slightly off.
3. This is my favorite sissying-out phrase, beating out appeals to the margin of error.
4. Though if you are doing "data analysis" by hand in Excel, you are living deep in sin and must needs repent.
5. The phrasing of this sentence is basically stolen from my good friend Chris who was kind enough to look over a draft of this. Thanks. And thanks Jamie for looking it over too. Oh, and Britt, thanks for helping so much on this during finals. You're the best.
6. Due to copyright restrictions, my favorite Simpsons moment ever has been removed from YouTube. But you should watch Homer vs. the 18th Amendment sometime.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

cleaning schedules

A friend of mine recently posted a cleaning schedule on her blog, with cleaning tasks broken out by frequency; daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly. This reminded me of the cleaning schedule my wife wants us to very loosely follow, with cleaning tasks broken out by misery; really miserable, really miserable, and really miserable.

All of this talk about cleaning schedules is unnecessary, because, like most things in life, I already had the perfect system organized as a bachelor, as follows:

Daily

Don't be messy, you turd.

Weekly

Hire a maid.

Monthly

Hire a maid.

Yearly

Move.1

1. I'm totally kidding about this post honey! I love vacuuming. I'll get right on that tonight.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

deodorant

Britt: Why do you put deodorant on your chest??
Me: It's perfectly normal! Look (pointing at the illustration on the can), I'm putting it on exactly like this guy!
Britt: Congratulations, you can put deodorant on as good as a functionally literate person.
Me: I'm mumble...functionally...mumble...literate...mumble.
Britt: Oh, it looks like he's using it as a body spray.
Me: (Just now learned about the concept of body spray) Oh...yes...that...was...my...idea.
Britt: Honey, deodorants have actual chemicals that kill odors when you apply it in the right places.
Me: Wait a minute, are you saying I smell bad?
Britt: (awkward pause) ...ask me no questions...1

1. Suffice it to say, my deodorant application methods have since changed.

Monday, March 19, 2012

things to talk about when you don't actually have a topic

Many of you know what it's like: you haven't posted on your blog in three weeks, you got married, went on a honeymoon, and spent the entire last weekend trying to situate your house and you should have accepted the offer of help from your wife when you went to bring the couch up from the truck, but you didn't1 so your entire body feels like you spent last night being beaten senseless by mafioso ducks and you haven't posted in three weeks and you need to come up with a topic or something or at least finish this sentence because nobody can read books this long, let alone sentences this long, and oh my gosh I have to stop this somehow but I can't.

I have but a few thoughts to leave you with this fine evening.

The latest Mission Impossible film is called Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol.

It is not called Mission Impossible III. Mission Impossible III is a film that came out six years ago, and contains many scenes that you might remember, had you seen the film six years ago. Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol contains none of these scenes. It does not, in fact, re-use any footage from the previous film. This would be stupid and nonsensical. If you happen to have rented Mission Impossible III on your honeymoon under the mistaken impression that it was the latest Mission Impossible film, you might want to HOLD YOUR TONGUE AND NOT SOUND LIKE A STUPID CRAZYPERSON IN FRONT OF YOUR WIFE when you recognize the scenes, characters, and plot, and suggest that elements have been reused because THAT MAKES NO SENSE AT ALL.2

Check the phone number before you call your home teachee.

In my church, they have a program called home teaching, wherein people check in on each other to see if they need any help. You are assigned individuals, and you typically visit them in their home every month, but, if you're two days away from your wedding and you have no time and you're just trying to survive, you might just call some of your people. However, and this is really important, make sure you have the CORRECT phone number for them, because, and this is purely hypothetical, one hundred percent hypothetical and not at all autobiographical, you might call the phone number you have stored for an individual, and greet them enthusiastically, and ask about their work, life, etc., and realize in the middle of a forced and awkward conversation that you have THE WRONG NUMBER.3

People in my life are awesome.

Not the ladies who I waited to pay for parking for five minutes,4 but everyone else. We've been so surprised by all of the kind words, notes, thoughts, gifts, and everything sent our way. People really have been so sweet and loving and generous, and we'll be thanking you all individually of course,5 but collectively, thank you. My faith in humanity hasn't been restored, of course, because seriously, if my wife is in law school, the least you could do on our first time in Sunday school in the new congragation is not proclaim, "you can tell how wicked a society is by the number of lawyers in it", but my faith in the people in my life continues unwavering.

I am never serious here, but let me break from character to just say that the best thing about my life is the people I know; my wife foremost, naturally,6 but I have the privilege of knowing and associating with the absolute best people on the planet. I never cease to find that astounding.

Thanks. All of you. Thanks.

1. In truth, it was just a big Ikea box and I, as venerable George W. Bush would say, misunderestimated the size of said box by at least fifty percent. She showered, and I slowly pushed and pulled a box the size of a motorcycle up to our apartment. Not my finest moment, intellect wise.
2. And if you don't realize your error until two thirds of the way through the film, may god have mercy on your soul.
3. Whoever it was I called must have been so confused. We literally talked for five minutes with me asking him how he was doing, how work was, offering to help, and he just kept on pretending like he knew who I was and both of us kept that game of chicken up until the end of the phone call. The good news is, he's working two jobs now and is doing all right, and doesn't need any help, and thanks me. Mr. Haynie, the man I intended to call, and who I called afterwards, is doing wonderfully as well, I'm happy to report.
4. They sat and laughed to each other about everything, including their inability to figure out the machine, their inability to use a card to pay, and the fact that the dollar that they tried to put in the credit card slot did not work. When I offered them quarters to get them out of my way, they thanked me and said, and I quote, "You must be from Harvard!" Yes, yes I am. Because the Crimson are so well known for their ability to give quarters to brainless parkers. Also, look at my sweatshirt: it says the University of Utah. I don't understand people at all.
5. Please excuse whatever genericisms I send your way, but have you ever tried to write fifty thank you notes?
6. I'm almost done typing while you're trying to sleep; I'm sorry honey, you are the best and most patient.

Monday, February 27, 2012

the vow

The Vow is a heart-warming tale of one young lover and one young former lover as they discover the joys of making the men in the audience keep down bile and check their watch every ten minutes hoping the pain is over. It teaches us the helpful moral of loving the one you...no, choosing the one you...no, loving to choose to lo...no, actually, there weren’t any morals, which is fine by me because if I wanted to get preached to, I’d move back home.1

If there was a moral it was something along the lines of "next time hire a casting director that realizes that Channing Tatum looks more like He-Man than a hipster". I live within spitting distance of San Francisco,2 and let me assure you that no hipster male has that body, much less has any sort of muscle definition on the whole of his body.3 But4 I know all about his body because the director went to great trouble to make sure we saw his booty after he spent the night naked on the couch, and I know all about involuntary convulsions because I then spent the rest of the movie with my face contorted in supreme disgust trying to decide how exactly I would BURN MY COUCH TO THE GROUND if anyone ever slept naked on it.

Can you think of anything more disgusting? I cannot. Maybe burning the couch was in a deleted scene, but seriously dude, if your wife kicks you out to the couch, maybe the problem isn't amnesia, maybe it's because you need to rethink what sort of horrors you are leaving on your living room furniture before you plop down for the night.5

1. Where I’d be preached to by my little brother, of course, and no, I was not in any way referring to my mother.
2. Though in SF they call it peeing distance, because spitting is so yesterday, and the ENTIRE CITY SMELLS LIKE URINE.
3. I'd be less inclined to insult hipsters if I hadn't spent a flight out of SF next to one who physically pushed me off the arm rest I had the audacity to use for less than three minutes, so, I'm sorry, but I hate you all, and please change out of those ridiculous jeans.
4. This pun is intentional.
5. Also, I'd like to thank Britt for letting me steal from her to construct everything that was funny in this post, and no, she did not agree to this beforehand, but thank you honey, welcome to community property!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

startups

Between embarrassing myself publicly on the internets and planning a wedding which will feature a woman who hopefully doesn't mind getting married to the village idiot, one thing I love to do in my spare time is dream up startup ideas.

Thinking of startup ideas is great, because you get all of the fun and glory1 of coming up with the most revolutionary and innovative solutions that have ever been dreamed up in the history of the human condition, with none of the actual effort.

Lately I've come up with the most revolutionary and innovative email experience in the history of mankind. It will work like this: imagine threaded mail conversations, sort of like gmail. Next, imagine chatting tightly integrated, sort of like gmail. Next, imagine keyboard shortcuts, and excellent search, sort of like gmail.

Okay, okay, just imagine gmail. Except, better.2 Because instead of ads at the top of the screen which stay still, think about ads at the top of the screen that move. You see where I'm going with this? That's right, an ad ticker! Magic. Innovative. Revolutionary. Steve Jobs award, here I come.

Also, I'd probably add in features like backgrounds that include sharks, people getting eaten by sharks, maybe spiders on your face, and other gross things, all to discourage me from tabbing back to my mail client and checking my email every thirty seconds like a squirrel hopped up on speed.

My other great idea is to start a site that lets people post funny pictures of themselves and add "funny" commentary, and possibly even include features like letting people post funny pictures of things that aren't themselves, and maybe even, if you ask me really nicely, including the feature wherein everyone on the entire planet can spend the past week beating a horse dead posting and re-posting pictures that tell me what society and your mother thinks you do and make me want to punch myself in the face every time I log in to that site and wonder why in the world I keep coming back and getting sucked in to looking at those things.

I kid, I kid. I don't wonder why I keep coming back. It's because the background doesn't include spiders on my face.

1. Where glory is defined as me spending the entire day thinking I'm brilliant for coming up with an idea that features shipping people mixed dry ingredients that they can buy at stores themselves for a fraction of the cost, taking into account the lack of shipping expense for relatively low-value items, and fun is defined as me getting laughed at to this day by my co-workers to whom I ran and told excitedly of said ridiculousness.
2. It wouldn't, for instance, show you those stupid yellow arrows which try and tell you which email conversations are important and consistently get it wrong: email from my niece including cat pictures? Not important. Bill from my credit card company? REALLY IMPORTANT.

Monday, February 13, 2012

things you should never, under any circumstances, pray for

While you should pray for many things, allow me to urge you to never pray for the following:

To drive less

This is a terrible idea. Let me assure you that you are better off living your life driving, or you might, to imagine up an entirely hypothetical situation with no real-world parallels, be tempted to wish to be able to drive less in your life, and one day return to your truck, and start said truck, and attempt to put said truck into gear, only to find the truck will not go into gear. You might try several different ways of getting the truck into gear. You might mildly curse in the language of your choice.

You might spend the following days begging for rides and walking all over the peninsula in the rain.1

These are just a few of the things that might happen to you, should you wish to drive less.

Patience

Again, a terrible idea. Have you ever been taught patience? Let me assure you that you are better off living your life without praying for it, or you might, to again imagine up an entirely hypothetical situation with no real-world parallels, find yourself spending two hours on a hard chair inside Whole Foods, slurping their free wifi, waiting for a tow truck to show up, and trying your best not to facially punch the hipster who keeps jolting you every time he walks up to get yet another glass of water from the jug next to you.2

Humility

Even more so than all of the previous, and more than any other quality that has ever existed, you should NEVER DESIRE THIS TRAIT EVER EVER EVER. Don't pray for it, don't wish you had it, DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT WANTING IT.

Have you ever been taught humility? You're better off without it, or you might, to dream up a completely ridiculous hypothetical that is so outlandish that I laugh at your insinuation that this might have ever happened to anyone you know, and one that you should never ever think has anything to do with my own life in any way, and one that you SHOULD NEVER MENTION TO ME EVER UNDER PAIN OF DEATH,3 you might be unable to get your truck into gear, you might have it towed, it might be a horrendous inconvenience in your pitiful life, and you might run yourself ragged trying to get it fixed.

And when you call the mechanic that fateful day to check on the progress, well, he might laugh at you. And laugh. And ask you with sincere confusion why you placed the car in neutral with the four-wheel drive lever.4

In unrelated news, I'm selling my truck, because I'm too stupid to own it.5

Also, Brittney, I'm sorry you're marrying an idiot. I can be smrt sometimes, I promise.

1. That would be two hours of walking yesterday, if the hypothetical hiker were counting in this hypothetical situation.
2. I swear he had ten cups of water. What is wrong with people in this world?
3. I am one hundred percent serious. I realize the hypocrisy of blogging this, but consider it exposure therapy.
4. This is the most embarrassed I think I have been in my adult life. I cannot express in words the dread that filled my soul as I went to pick up the car from the mechanic. I inadvertently put my truck in neutral. I then had it towed like an idiot. And then I had to face down a mechanic who, with good reason, thought I was the stupidest person on the planet. The only consolation is there is a very slight, minuscule chance that he actually fixed the car and then made up this story to make me look retarded. The chance of that being true is somewhere around the probability of a meteor crushing me at this moment and sparing me from my severe humiliation, but, I would like to just make sure you all know it still is a very real possibility.
5. My only real worry about putting this story in the public domain is being fired from my job for gross incompetence, and never being able to find employment again due to obvious abject stupidity.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

things you should check for before entering the work bathroom and thinking to yourself "I am the smartest man alive!!" then realizing you didn't actually think that to yourself, you said it in an uncomfortably loud and very distinctly hearable voice

The presence of your coworkers in said bathroom.1

1. In a panic, I checked all of the stalls, desperately thinking of a story I could tell that would make me not sound completely insane to be talking to myself in the bathroom. I considered adding an addendum of sorts so as to explain myself, but realized this would make things worse, as not only would I be talking to myself, I would be explaining to myself as well. Luckily, the coast was clear. I remain, however, the smartest man alive, eccentricities notwithstanding.

Monday, January 30, 2012

google+

The big social media news1 of last year was the launch of Google+, a new social network promising to, like the social networks of yesteryear, connect you with people whose interests diverge completely from your own.2

No, I kid. I love Google+, because it tells me what my friends who are Google employees are up to. Like the motto goes: Google+, the social network by googlers for googlers.

Everyone I know is on Google+, and everyone I know at Google actually uses it.

One great thing about Google+ is its use of the plus character to indicate approval or evangelism of something. This is better than Facebook's Like button, because instead of being forced to say in conversation, "did you see that Bob Liked my latest blog post?", and feeling like a dork because you had to give double emphasis to the word liked or be forced to verbalize that yes, you are talking about a social network like saps, you can say things like, "did you see that Bob plussed oned my latest blog post?", and instead of feeling like a dork you can feel like a complete idiot because you just used the most uncomfortable expression invented in modern times and yes, grammar nazis, I conjugated everything wrong, but I did it on purpose to illustrate how MUCH OF A PAIN THAT IS TO SAY.

Protip: you want people to use your network? Try coming up with expressions that don't make your users look like alien dorks.

Also, plus one this because yes, I am a hypocrite. But at least I get smoochies. Right honey? No hard feelings about that tech news addiction, right?

1. Heaven forbid you, like me, follow tech news around like a mangy dog. If you find yourself turning on your phone the minute the plane touches down to check hacker news instead of paying attention to your fiancée next to you who you could smooch and gross out the lady behind you who spent THE ENTIRE FLIGHT SHUFFLING A DECK OF CARDS, may God have mercy on your soul.
2. "HE GAVE SALLY A ROSE??!!", "GET CHEAP DIAPERS BY LIKING THIS STRANGE SPAMMY ORGANIZATION AND POSTING IT ON UR PROFILE LIKE A HEEL", and "MITT ROMNEY/OBAMA IS MY HOMEBOY" are just a sampling of the messages I am asked to consume on a daily basis.

Friday, January 20, 2012

presidential elections

Every four years we get to deal with the grand charade that is watching national leaders go around the country pretending to care about things they have spent their entire lives ignoring; things like "the deficit", "due process", "Iowa", "monogamy", "my fellow Americans", and today, "South Carolina".1

We then get to vote on who we think looks the most attractive, then they spend the next four years playing golf, giving our closest ally the tackiest gift ever, and pretending like our country isn't headed for almost certain financial collapse in the next decade.

This year the race revolves around President "I've spent three months of my presidency golfing" Obama,2 Mitt "I own those golf courses" Romney, Newt "I've cheated on every one of those golf courses" Gingrich, Rick "please google golf courses and not my last name" Santorum, and Ron "a golf course is more likely to win the nomination, but do you think I'm going to give up my national rantbox?" Paul.

I wish you well in your voting decisions, and urge you to consider all of the relevant factors, because your vote counts, especially if you live in a state like California which will vote for secession before it votes for a Republican.

1. I'm sorry South Carolina, but nobody cares about you. The last thing you did that anybody noticed occurred in April of 1861, and that's only because you were backed up by your homeboys North Carolina and Virginia. Also: who the freak designed your flag? The local masonic lodge?
2. I learned this stat from the elevator conversations of the fine employees of Goldman Sachs, the accuracy of which I am completely secure, because, be honest: when has Goldman Sachs lied to anyone? Incidentally, if you are related to me, and your name includes the title of 'my mother', please don't click on that and read anything else. I swear I did not scan through that den of filthy language.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

the holidays

I love the holidays. The holidays are probably my favorite time of year, right behind Spring, Fall, Summer, any time it's warm and I'm not sitting outside in San Francisco trying to type this post while the fog rolls in and I want to die from the piercing cold that is sucking the life dry from my bones,1 times when I get punched in the face, and times when I really need to pee and the nearest bathroom is somewhere five miles from here and there's this really weird dude standing five feet away from me talking to someone on the phone in a kermit voice.

No, I kid. I kiiid. I love the holidays. Who doesn't love the holidays? I love sappy Christmas music, I love being taught the definition of "lumber" by every single person walking in front of me on the streets of San Francisco, and I especially love the clanging sound I'm subjected to every time I want to go to the store in peace and quiet for the love of everything holy.2

But my favorite part of the holiday season is sitting down in front of a nice old-fashioned Christmas movie, all of which appear to have been made by a society of people who had absolutely no conception of the value of time, and decided, for reasons which are incomprehensible to people who enjoy doing things that don't take centuries to finish, to make them in claymation.

Claymation is the process wherein someone with nothing left to live for spends the rest of his life manipulating clay for a camera, in the hope that he will cause all who watch to go insane with complete bewilderment and weep for the lost productivity of the world and spend the entire film trying to keep from descending into a pit of mindless oblivion baffled as to why someone would do such a thing and HOW MUCH TIME DID YOU WASTE ON THIS AND WHY DO YOU DO THIS??! YOU CAN GET ACTORS TO DO THIS AND IT WILL TAKE YOU FIVE MINUTES AND YOU DON'T NEED TO HUNCH OVER PUDDLES OF CLAY AND MAKE YOURSELF LOOK LIKE AN ALIEN HERMIT CRAZY PERSON.

The other great thing about the holiday season is coming back to reality and finding your gym invaded by the kind of people who should really just give up now instead of wasting everyone's time and flooding exercise equipment in a hopeless and futile pursuit of accomplishing a resolution. If you're not going to be here in February (and you won't be), you can just give up the charade now, folks.

1. Realizing, of course, that about fifty percent of my readers, that is, my brother, live in actual frozen wastelands (Chicago) where you can legitimately freeze instead of just complain about fifty degree weather.
2. Yes, I realize they are clanging those satanic bells of misery for a good cause, but couldn't they wish well with noises that didn't make me want to commit felonies?