Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year

It was easy from 2001 until 2009. And they even managed to swing 2010. But now, things get a bit harder...

Merchandisers have been lucky the past decade. But now, the game is up.

How on earth will they make New Years' glasses for 2011?

EDIT: They look like this. A bit rubbish in my opinion.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Future Is Pretty Cool

I'm pretty sure we reached the future five years ago.

Sure, we're still waiting for flying cars and jet packs. But the technology we have is pretty cool. (At least when it's not trying to take over the world.)

Consider this: I'm typing this on a five pound laptop. I'm sitting on a sofa in my family room as I do so. As I'm typing, I'm listening to classic music. The music, of course, isn't on a CD. (That would be too easy.) Instead, a Blu-Ray player is streaming it from the internet and playing it through the stereo. Neither the laptop nor the Blu-Ray player are connected to the internet via wires. Everything's happening

If someone fifty years ago saw what I'm doing now, they'd be awestruck. If someone from several hundred years ago saw, they'd try to burn me for witchcraft. Either way, it's pretty amazing to see how far technology has come.

(Also fun: Watching old sci-fi movies to see what they predicted the future to be. In 2001: A Space Odyssey, we had a moon base, suspended animation, and video phone booths. With 2001 come and gone, none of these things have come to pass. [Interestingly enough, Arthur C. Clarke, though he foresaw huge leaps in space travel, didn't anticipate the cell phone. Even Star Trek saw that one coming.] According to Back to the Future II, we'd have flying cars, 3D holograms, and self-lacing sneakers by 2015. With only five or so years to go, science has only delivered on one of the three.

It's somewhat comforting to know that, no matter what future you're in, stuff still breaks.)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

On Distractions

Sometimes you're working on something but while you're midway through something distracts you and you just stop right in the middle of whatever you were doing. Sometimes it's a few months before you realize exactly what happened. And once you notice, it's always a bit embarrassing. You think you've left for ten minutes, but once you get back you find out it's been twelve years.

Sorry about that.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Scanner Darkly

It's hard to gauge just how strange you really are. I've found that a good way to do so is to have someone else (probably a friend, but really it could be anyone) pretend to be you. This goes from dressing like you to affecting your vocal tics to emulating your stride. Even if your friend exaggerates a lot (spoiler: they will), it's cool to get someone else's perspective on the way you are. Although you live in your own brain and experience an unfiltered version of yourself, everyone else sees you through their own set of filters. Seeing someone else being you is thus like looking at yourself through a glass, darkly (goatees are optional, though): you're still recognizable as yourself, but you also notice a lot of weird quirks that you didn't realize you had or that you've stopped being aware of. It's a new, humbling perspective on yourself. If you're pressed for time and/or on a budget, it also makes for a quick, easy, and extremely humorous Halloween costume.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Confusing Dreams

It wasn't this bad. But still terribly confusing.

I took a twenty minute nap the other day. The dream that ensued was extremely confusing.

REALITY: I fall asleep.
  • PART I: I wake up, But something is different; the linear distance between my head and the alarm clock is  about 1.5 times as long as it was when I went to sleep. Also, it is night now. Being the savvy guy I am, I realize it is a dream, and "wake up." (No falling sensation required.)
  • PART II: I wake up from the Part I dream to find that my roommate has moved his desk to where the sink was. Apparently he has moved the sink elsewhere. Water pipes still stick out of the wall. The pipes are still quite functional, though, as my roommate demonstrates by turning on the water. As expected, water sprays everywhere, and we panic and throw towels on the floor.
  • PART III: I wake up, and rush to tell my roommate and some other friends about Part I and Part II of my dream. At this point, I am convinced this is reality. After explaining to my roommate and a few friends the craziness of my dream, I walk home. En route, I pass through a library, where the Spaghetti Cat song plays over the PA system. I pass a friend in the library, and give a thumbs up: we both approve of the choice in music..
REALITY: My alarm clock wakes me up 20 minutes after I fell asleep. The relative distances between my head and the rest of my room seem about normal, the furniture is where it should be, and no strange music plays in the background. I'm assume this is reality, but the sound of a falling top does not confirm this.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Time Travel

Tomorrow morning, I realized I forgot to post today. I quickly hopped into my time machine, came back to today, and wrote this post. I had to be careful to avoid my past self. Firstly, an encounter with a past version of me could change my past, creating a paradox. More importantly, however, it would create a rip in the pronoun-grammar continuum: It'd be awkward to tell him/me(?) "Hello! We haven't written a blog post yet, so I can back to tell me to write it."

Douglas Adams was right: Grammar is the biggest barrier to time travel. However, this pronoun scheme might help:
  • Add suffix [-past] when addressing anyone from your relative past in the presence of their present selves
  • Add the suffix [-future] when addressing anyone from your relative future in the presence of their present selves.
  • If you meet two versions of yourself from the relative past or future, add the suffix [-past'] or [-future'] to whoever is from further into the past or future.
For example: If I ran into my past self, I could greet him with "Hello, me-past!" Being a savvy time traveler, the past version of me would realize I'm his future self and reply with "Greetings, me-future!" If a version of me from my relative future showed up, I would address him as "me-future," while I-past would refer to him as me-future'.

Verb tenses, however, are another ball game entirely.

Friday, September 17, 2010


The best things in life are free.

That said, really inexpensive things are good too. (In all honesty, free stuff is really hard to find.)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Glass

  • The pessimist says the glass is half empty.
  • The optimist says the glass is half full.
  • The scientist says the class contains 50.12 mL of liquid, and is filled to about one half its maximum capacity.
  • The engineer says that there's a waste of volume.
  • The politician says that, if elected, he will make sure the glass is full.
  • The surrealist says something about llamas under his breath, fills the glass with motor oil, and drops in a dead goldfish.
  • The Dadaist says the glass is an artistic statement.
  • The economist says that the quantity of liquid demanded is greater than the quantity of liquid supplied, and raises the price of liquid in the glass until quantity demanded equals quantity supplied.
  • The communist says the contents of the glass is unfairly distributed, then pours its contents into many smaller glasses.
  • The opportunist drinks whatever's in the glass.

Monday, September 13, 2010


Why physicists are not writers: Exhibit A

This is the back cover of a college-level physics textbook. I can't get over how ridiculous the first sentence on the back cover is. It actually annoys me.

There are about fifty ways to phrase their topic sentence that do not sound ridiculous. For instance:
  • See the world through the eyes of a physicist
  • See the physics at work in the world
  • See the world through the lens of physics (this has optics, so bonus points)
This is also why physicists are not biologists: Eyes relay information to the brain, and thus don't know anything. Plus, if we performed biological experiments like we performed particle physics experiments, we'd throw frogs at a wall, and then observe the parts that fly out. Gross.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Educational Movies I Would Watch

  1. Sartre Trek II: The Wrath of Kant. Sci-fi and philosophy, all in one. Awesome.
  2. A documentary on carnivorous plants. Those things are awesome. Ideally, the Jaws music would play as flies flew near the plants...
  3. Stephen Hawking's A Brief History Of Time. As an action thriller. I'm picturing the hero in a space suit, fighting off enemies while hovering dangerously near a black hole.
  4. A film of The Great Gatsby that isn't terrible.
  5. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. If all the plays were filmed, it would make for the world's most epic DVD box set.
  6. Anything Bill Nye. That guy is a pro.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

New Word!

Flattergasted - adjective. Extremely humbled/honored. Like flabbergasted, but with flattery.

In context: "You all dressed up like me for a spirit day!?! I'm flattergasted!"

Monday, September 6, 2010

Things That Are Awesome

  1. Spontaneity. Many of of the greatest times in your life will be when you're making up your plan as you go along. Whether you're making an impromptu run to the food store with friends, spontaneously bursting into song in the cafeteria, or just being weird for the fun of it, you'll find the best plan is often not having a plan at all.
  2. Reading. Books are good. They give you knowledge. Knowledge is power.
  3. Reading in trees. We've been over this, but it bears repeating.
  4. Electronic books. Sentimentalists might enjoy the smell/feel of a paper book, but there's something empowering about carrying an entire library in your pocket. Might not want to take your ebook reader in a tree, though.
  5. Talking in pirate voices. National Talk Like A Pirate Day is September 19th. You should participate. Also awesome: Making pirate-themed euphemisms for everyday words. (ie: "Studying" becomes "plundering me books fer knowledge.) Bonus points if you secure a parrot for this.
  6. Anthropomorphizing objects. Finding a blue balloon? Boring. Giving said balloon a duct tape face, naming it "Balloon Boy," pinning it to the lapel of your jacket, and taking it with you do physics class? Awesome.
  7. Lasers. The things you can do with lasers are insane. Just ask a DVD player. Or a cat.

Friday, September 3, 2010


In addition to providing shade, lumber, fruit, and oxygen, trees are also a great place to read a book. If you're ever bored, or in need of a quiet place, find a book. Then find a tree. Then climb the tree. (This last step is complicated if you have a book in your hand. Perhaps get a friend, who will pass you your book once you are secure in the tree.) Then read the book. The only disturbances you will encounter are squirrels (inconsequential) and/or bug (annoying).

NOTE: Reading in trees might result in broken bones (if you fall out of the tree), broken books (if you drop your book into a pile of nasty leaves), and/or dirty clothes (if the tree hasn't been washed recently). The author takes no responsibility for these and/or other damages incurred while reading in a tree.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Time Travel For Dummies

  1. Find a black hole. Theoretical physicists think there should be plenty of these floating around in space. Just get one; you'll need it soon.
  2. Get antigravity. It's possible that the end of your black hole might be connected to another black hole, forming a sort of bridge in space called a wormhole. However, there are two problems: (1) the connection between the two black holes is really small, and (2) the gravitational forces of the black holes would instantly kill anyone who tried to traverse the wormhole. The solution? Stuff the ends of the wormhole with antigravity. Theoretically, this exists too.
  3. Spin one end of the wormhole. You have to do this pretty quickly; probably at close to the speed of light. Maybe use some more antigravity to do this. Because of Einstein's Theory of Relativity, time will move slower for the moving end of the wormhole. Spin it around long enough, and the two ends will become desynchronized in time. Cool stuff.
  4. Go back in time. Hop into the not-spun end of the wormhole, and you'll emerge from the temporally desynchronized side, in the relative past!
  5. ???

Monday, August 30, 2010


There is no such thing as "useless knowledge." You'll never know when you need to know the 1923 lineup of the New York Yankees, the exact dimensions of the Golden Gate Bridge, or the exact airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow. So keep reading, and keep learning. Nothing you learn will ever truly be wasted.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Fill In The Blank

"In __________, there must be balance."

Possible responses include:
  • Life
  • Diets
  • Skateboarding
  • Gymnastics
  • Boats
  • Airplanes
  • A set of several forces acting on a single object, which is moving at a constant velocity. 
  • Budgets*
*Not necessarily true, given the United States' current national debt.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


People make associations, strange mental linkages connecting one subject to another. The smaller connections make sense sense (peanut butter/jelly, tuna/mayo, Sinatra/smooth, etc.), but the mental chains of association are never short. The brain's chains are forged of thousands of links, most of which the brain's owners don't even understand (white bread/loneliness, water ice/laughter, a capella music/nostalgia, etc.)

If you try to dig deep and analyze each and every link, you might make sense of these long strings of unconscious thought. But you probably won't.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Schedule Change

Due to increased responsibilities and a greater workload (and in an effort to maintain the quality of my posts), I will no longer be updating Looks Like A Tangent daily. Instead, I will switch to a Monday-Wednesday-Friday post schedule. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Watching magic shows is super fun, but also irritating. When you're a nerd like me, you obsess about how every trick is done. Are there magnets in that table, or is he lifting it with hidden string? Can you psychologically force someone to pick a specific number from a phone book? And when the magician reads (and totally blows) your mind and you have no idea how he did it, it's all the more annoying.

This is a true story; the sentence read from my mind was "bow ties are cool."

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Words are ideas; they can mean whatever we want them to mean. (I already talked about this a bit, but it bears repeating. Just ask George Orwell.)

I therefore propose the following (and quite harmless) change to the meaning of the word "trippy."
Trippy - adjective - of or pertaining to the act of tripping while walking.
 Used in context: "This cobblestone path is so trippy... I fall over at least once a day!"

Friday, August 20, 2010



Life is like a cinnamon roll: When you get everything right, it's delicious.

Also, it's best served reasonably warm.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


The human mind is conditioned to percieve the world in certain ways. You get used to seeing doors of a certain width, rooms of a certain height. If these proportions get thrown off in huge, obvious ways - for instance, by the vaulted ceiling of a Gothic cathedral - your mind can adapt. But when the rules are only bent slightly - when the ceiling is lowered by six inches and the doors are widened by about four inches - you feel something is off.

It's like a general case of uncanny valley, but with much fewer of the psychological issues concerning identity and such.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Packing: noun - The process by which your life disappears before your eyes, and is placed into large, plastic boxes to be moved someplace else.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Awareness, Versatility

Always be aware of your surroundings. Specifically, also make mental notes of the resources available to you.

Also, don't be afraid to think unconventionally. Use the materials around you in versatile ways. Some people only see a plastic fork as a tool for eating; don't be afraid to see it as a small crowbar or as a flexible lever arm. If you happen to be properly prepared, you can use that lever arm to make a mini catapult. And then you can have some real fun. (Plus, you'll make this guy proud.)

Monday, August 16, 2010


You only get so much time, and you often can't control how you spend it. Even if you'd rather be using it on something else, don't waste the time you have by complaining; just make the most of it.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Hidden Confidence

Purple patterned socks: The hidden win

Sometimes, you need purple argyle socks to get through the day. There isn't anything particularly special about purple argyle socks, and most people won't notice them, but sometimes just knowing they're there can give you the extra boost of confidence you need to get through the day.

This principle also applies to lucky underwear, hidden rolls of duct tape, crazy key chains, double rainbows, and similarly awesome things that other people don't know about.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Matter is temporary. Newspapers and plastic bottle get recycled. Plants compost. The atoms that make up our bodies were once clouds of cosmic dust. Everything is recycled. Everything is temporary.

However, if we can remember things, they become permanent. A shirt can get cut up into rags, but if you remember wearing it, it's still a shirt. Even if you part ways with a friend, you can still keep them with you in your mind. Physically, nothing is permanent. Mentally, everything is permanent.

(That would be a deep and philosophical conclusion, except the mind, which stores "permanent" memories, is itself matter, and thus temporary. Crud.)

Friday, August 13, 2010


Archaeologists learn about ancient cultures by observing that small fragments they leave behind. In the right hands, a bit of pottery can speak volumes about its long-deceased makers and a half-destroyed statue can reveal cultural norms and values. Half a stone tablet can provide the foundation for deciphering dead languages.

As such, I am genuinely terrified that future archaeologists will discover the Internet and conclude that our culture worshiped naked people, illiterate cats, and bizarre videos.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Jules Verne Likes Math For Its Own Sake

Jules Verne liked his mathematics. While describing Dr. Ferguson, the rugged, extremely well traveled protagonist of Five Weeks In A Balloon, Verne posits the following question:
"Given the number of miles traveled by the doctor in making the circuit of the Globe, how many more had his head described than his feet, by reason of the different lengths of the radii? - or, the number of miles traversed by the doctor's head and feet respectively being given, required the exact height of the gentleman?
To start, let's draw a diagram:

Figure 1: Dr. Ferguson travels the world.

The blue and green thing is the world, and the gray guy in a suit is Dr. Ferguson. As he travels (we'll assume at sea level) across the world (which we're assuming is spherical, with a radius r), he creates an angle θ between his starting point, the center of the earth, and his ending point. He thus moves across an arc length d. However, because of Ferguson's height (h), the distance between Ferguson's head and the center of the earth is greater than the distance between his feet and the center of the earth, so his head move across a different arc length, dhead. We're trying to solve for Δd, or dhead - d

From here, it's simply geometry. We know that d = rθ, so θ = d/r. Similarly, we know that dhead = (r + h)θ. By substitution, we determine that dhead = (r + h)(d/r). Let's simply...
dhead = (r + h)(d/r)
dhead = dr/r + dh/r
dhead = d + dh/r
Since  Δd = dhead - d, we can substitute and get Δd = (d + dh/r) - d = dh/r.

The difference in distance traveled by Ferguson's head than that traveled by his feet is thus the distance his travels across the earth times his height, divided by the radius of the earth. While we have to rely on a bunch of assumption to get this simply answer, it's likely a very close approximation.

Now, to finally answer Verne's question: Assuming Dr. Ferguson is 6 feet tall, and that he has traveled around the world exactly one time, we can compute that Δd = (circumference of the earth)(6 feet)/(radius of the earth), or that Δd = 2π(6 feet) = 12π feet= 37.699 feet. Which makes sense, as the earth's radius is huge compared to the height of anyone who isn't Yao Ming. (And, comparatively speaking, the earth's radius is still pretty big for him too.)

If you cared enough to read all that, I'm sure Jules Verne would be extremely happy with you. At any rate, I'm very happy with you.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Early Drafts

The phrase "revenge is a dish best served cold," went through a surprising amount of revision before it arrived in the English vernacular today. Early forms of the phrased included:
  • Revenge is a dish best served medium-rare.
  • Revenge is a dish best served with a side of fries.
  • Revenge is a dish.
  • Revenge is a dish best served deep fried.
  • Revenge is a dish best served in an Italian restaurant.
  • Revenge is a dish best served at high velocity.
  • Revenge is a dish best self-served (unless you live in New Jersey).

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Things I've Learned

  1. No matter how old you get, you're never "too old" for simple pleasures. The win-the-lollipop contest at the food store might be market at kids, but that's just a suggestion: There's nothing really stopping you from getting a free lollipop.
  2. A normal sleep cycle might be ideal, but there's something wonderful about sleeping until 10:00 AM. However, that something wonderful is quickly canceled out, as something annoying about staying up until 2:00 AM.
  3. Good friends are really hard to come by. Spend as much time with them as you possibly can, while you can. (See below.) People are important.
  4. No matter how much time you have, it's still not enough. Moments are just that; moments. You might wish they would last forever, but then they wouldn't be moments.
  5. A good story doesn't have to be told in chronological order. It's just much harder to tell that way. Also, a good story doesn't have to make sense. It usually helps, though.
  6. Parallel parking is crazy hard. You're trying to navigate a small, metal box (with multiple blind spots) into a space not much bigger than the box itself, trying all the while not to hit other small metal boxes on either side of you. It makes you want to buy a Mini Cooper or something.
  7. Real sugar tastes better than high frutose corn syrup. This is scientific fact.
  8. Things happen for a reason. Everything has a purpose. You might not know what exactly it is, but don't despair; you can often figure it out later on.
  9. Lists of ten things are boring and cliche. Everybody makes top ten lists; there's no reason for it. There's nothing at all wrong with having a list of nine or a list of eleven. The world needs to stop getting so hung up about the number ten. Really, it's just another number.
  10. There's something funny about irony.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Time According To Goldilocks

"Time is strange," thought Goldilocks. "Forever is too long, and incredibly scary, but a finite amount of time seems too short."

As Goldilocks stared at the edge of eternity, she realized it would be hard to find something "just right."

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A Few Changes...

I've been playing with the Looks Like A Tangent's layout. I kind of like the new background; it feels more suited to the blog's (lack of consistent) subject matter. However, I spend most of my time writing the blog rather than reading it, so the ultimate judge of this new layout is you, the reader. Is the new layout an improvement, or should I switch back to the old one?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Good And Bad

Good: Taking Pictures With Your Phone. Although I'm really bad at cell phones, I can usually find my way around a phone's camera feature. As such, I was able to use my camera phone to forever immortalize the image of a man in a pretzel suit. Awesome, to say the least.

Bad: Getting Pictures Off Your Phone. My ability with cell phones ends at taking a picture. However, being the computer geek I am, I notice my phone has a USB port, and thus assume I can just transfer the pictures to my PC via USB. I plug my phone in, Windows downloads drivers, and all is good. Except it isn't: Windows installed the phone as a modem, not as a storage device. After hours on Google (my phone's manual is pretty rubbish), I discover that I need a separate program to move multimedia on and off my phone. The program, however, is so old that it only works with 32 bit operating systems. Never before have I wanted to punch a telecommunications company in the face.

Verdict: I Got To Blog About A Man In A Pretzel Suit. Totally worth it.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Thing That Are Awesome

The Pretzel Man, aka salted awesome.
  1. Pretzel suits. This guy was outside a soft pretzel store, and I got to take his picture and shake his hand. It was awesome.
  2. In a similar vein, warm soft pretzels. They taste delicious, and they make your car smell wonderful. (For increased awesomeness, eat one with a can of Coca-Cola. Beautiful.)
  3. Pink shirts. Lots of men fear the pink dress shirt, but if worn correctly they can look as good as - if not better than - their white and blue cousins. It takes a bit of confidence to pull off, but the payoffs are immense.
  4. Movies that don't make sense. (I'm looking at you, Memento.) You aren't quite sure if you understand them, but they make you think.
  5. While we're at it, watching movies with friends. If you're watching something by yourself, you're just sitting there staring at a screen. Awkward. When you watch with friends, you can make fun of the movie and laugh when your friend final realizes that "Donnie Darko" is spelled with a "k," not a "c." It's stops being just a movie, and becomes a memory.
  6. Laughing. Laughing with friends. Laughing so hard, you have no idea what you're even laughing at. Laughing at puns, laughing at jokes, laughing at bad jokes, laughing at stuffed dragon puppets. Just laughing at life.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Post About Nothing

From a purely theoretical standpoint, is it possible to have nothing? Let's analyze.

Imagine a normal-sized bathroom, floating in space. Naturally, the bathroom has a toilet, bathtub, etc., inside. All those things are something, so get rid of them.

We now have an empty room, floating in space. Except it's not really empty; there's still air. Replace that with a vacuum. But even then, there's still four walls (with blue floral wallpaper) and a (cool tile) floor, so remove those too.

Now we have nothing floating in space. The room we had, for all intents an purposes, is gone. However, it's still not nothing. If we have nothing floating in space, then there's still space, which is something. In order to truly have nothingness, we'd have to create an area where there was no space, make a big wide rip in the fabric of the universe. Now, inside this hole in space-time, we might have nothing. (Your mileage on this may wary, depending on your understanding of theoretical physics.)

The philosophical question really is this: is nothing still something? If nothing is something, we can't ever truly have nothing, because the nothingness itself is still something. If nothing is a lack of anything else, then as long as there is something else besides the nothingness, then the something else provides a meaningful context for the nothing, and thus the nothing is still something. In order to have an area of complete and utter nothingness, there could be nothing else to give it meaning as nothingness. True nothing can only exist in an utterly empty universe, which, quite frankly, is a bit of a depressing thought.

(Sorry if this is hard to read; philosophy isn't terribly light material. Also, I've written "nothing" so many times, it no longer looks like a word. I apologize if reading it this many times has had the same effect.)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

On Movies

There are good movies, and there are movies you enjoy.

They aren't always the same movies. A film could have great actors, great effects, phenomenal directing, and a wonderfully-written script. It can win Academy Awards for being such a great movie. But that doesn't mean people will enjoy it.

You can recognize and respect the fact that a movie is good, but you most certainly don't also have to like it.

This, of course, leads to a few questions: are good movies good because they're good from a cinematic standpoint, or because people enjoy them? Do they have to be cinematic and enjoyable? What about movies that you know are good, but you aren't sure you understand? I've seen quite a few of those lately.

Of course, there are also movies that are enjoyable because they're bad. But that's a different (though larger) ballgame.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Hiccup Diaries

Today, I got the hiccups. Here is the record of my attempts to cure myself. (All events recorded here are true. Times given are approximate.)

2:30 PM - I develop a case of the hiccups while walking the dog. It is annoying.

2:43 PM - I return from walking the dog. The hiccups remain.

2:45 PM - I eat a marshmallow. Apparently sugar helps cure hiccups. Hiccups continue

2:48 PM - I drink from the far edge of a glass. (You can't bend the glass down, so you need to bend your whole body forward.) Legends has that this cures hiccups. In reality, it merely makes you look silly. Family members laugh. Hiccups remain.

2:50 PM - I eat another marshmallow. Increased sugar dose does not stop the hiccups.

2:55 PM - I ask a family member to scare me sometime in the near future. Scares are rumored to cure hiccups, but I suspect this request will only result in 15 minutes or so of paranoia.

2:57 PM - I eat another marshmallow; hopefully the sugar will kick in before the scare does. Paranoia runs high.

2:58 PM - I eat a Dove chocolate. The increased sugar does not help, nor does the wrapper's motivational quote.

3:02 PM - I open a lemon favored lollipop. Perhaps a constant drip of sugar will end the hiccup's reign of terror. I am becoming increasingly desperate for a cure.

3:06 PM - The hiccups have worsened; they are louder and more frequent than before. My worries deepen.

3:08 PM - I watch this video, hoping its scary surreal cows will cure the hiccups. (Originally posted here.)

3:10 PM - Hiccups seem to have gone into a remission. Has my combination of sugar and surrealism stop their horrid advance?

3:16 PM - It has been six minutes since my last hiccup. Am I finally free? I get a glass of water (drinking it via the regular lip of the glass) and another marshmallow in an effort to secure the cure.

3:18 PM - Eight minutes since the last hiccup. Forty-eight minutes after their reign of terror begin, the hiccups have subsided. I am in the clear! (Also, the scare requested at 2:55 never arrived... so much the better.)

EDIT: 5:37 PM - I have the hiccups again. Awesome.

SECOND EDIT: 9:01 PM - After recovering from the 5:37 hiccup attack, I find myself hiccuping again. I am both angered, confused, and extremely worried. Will this ever end?

Monday, August 2, 2010

How To Call Shotgun


Modern society is all about social position, and no position is more coveted than that of "shotgun," the front passenger seat in an automobile. Since the dawn of automotive time, man has sought the most effective ways of securing this position; some are honorable (switching off every few stops) and some are not (hopping into the front seat while no one is looking). At long last, however, an authoritative source (read: me) has come up with a just system of rules for determining who shall ride shotgun. Read on and be enlightened:

The Supreme Laws Of Calling Shotgun
Article I: When a group of two people must travel by car, the shotgun position shall be given to whoever is not driving. Easy enough.

Article II: In a group of three or more, the shotgun position shall be given to the passenger who "calls shotgun" first.
Subsection 1:  In order to "call shotgun," a passenger must shout the word "shotgun!" loud enough for the other passengers to hear. If the call is too quiet, and none of the other passengers can verify the caller's claim to the shotgun position, his call is rendered invalid, and the position is still up for grabs.

Subsection 2: One may only call shotgun when in visual range of the vehicle to be ridden in. Any calls made outside of visual range are invalid.
Article III: It is the driver's responsibility to mediate disputes regarding the shotgun position.
Subsection 1: Any decisions made by the driver are final. His word is law.

Subsection 2: If two or more passengers call shotgun at the same time, it is up to the driver to break the tie.
Article IV: When the driver's boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife/significant other is present, he/she/it is given the shotgun position by default. Any calls for the shotgun position as described by Article II are rendered invalid in this situation.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

On Finding Stuff

Few things feel better than finding something you lost long ago. Especially if it's something you were particularly attached to. Finding a lost sock, for instance, is like being reunited with a lost friend. (Especially true if you wear a lot of patterned socks.)

Saturday, July 31, 2010

...But I'm A Man?

Another inspirational message! The plot thickens...

I'm a man. A man who likes dark chocolate. I got a piece of Dove chocolate, and found this message inside the wrapper.

Dove Chocolate's marketing strategies remain a complete mystery.

Friday, July 30, 2010


Life is more fun with absurd, comic book style sound effects. Shout out a few "WOOSH"-es and "SWOOP"-s whilst on a swing set, and you'll see what I mean.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Hamlet, Abridged

For those of you who didn't pay attention in English class, or just didn't bother to read the play, here's William Shakespeare's Hamlet: The Tragedy of the Prince Of Denmark.

(HAMLET is upset because his FATHER died and CLAUDIUS, his uncle, has married his MOTHER. Suddenly, the GHOST OF HIS DEAD FATHER appears.)

Your uncle killed me! Get revenge!

I will!

(HAMLET waits around a while, doing nothing and pretending to be mad for no real reason at all. Because of his weird antics, his girlfriend OPHELIA breaks up with him and CLAUDIUS becomes suspicious.)

Well, that was counterproductive.

(CLAUDIUS sends a bunch of PEOPLE to see what on earth is wrong with HAMLET. Despite having numerous opportunities to kill CLAUDIUS and end the play a few hours early, HAMLET continues to do nothing. Instead, HE sprinkles some existential soliloquies in between his bouts of fake madness.)

To be, or not to be, that is the question.

(After doing nothing for a while longer, HAMLET accidentally stabs OPHELIA'S DAD through a curtain. OPHELIA is sad and drowns herself, which makes a lot of people angry.)

A duel! I'll poison this sword and this cup!

(HAMLET fights the duel, and is stabbed by the poisoned sword. His MOTHER drinks from the poisoned cup. At this point, HAMLET stops doing nothing and kills CLAUDIUS, but it is too late.)

I die, Horatio!

(EVERYONE dies. After a moment or two, FORTINBRAS of Norway arrives.)

Yeah, Norway!

(There is an awkward pause.)

...Am I late?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mental Images, Part 4

CASE 1: Imagine a small white dog, perhaps a Bichon Frisé. He is wearing a red velvet smoking jacket, with a cream silk ascot around his neck. He sits in a large, luxurious, brown leather armchair, puffing on his pipe and muttering "indubitably" as he reads the newspaper.

CASE 2: Imagine this same image, but replace the small white dog with a soft gray kitten.

Personally, I feel that Case 1 is a better mental image. What say you?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

How To Be Prepared For Anything

  1. Gather the following:
    1. A 3" x 5" index card
    2. A roll of duct tape
  2. Fold the index card so it is approximately 2.25" x 5"
  3. Wrap the index card with duct tape
  4. Place this flat roll of duct tape in your pocket
The finished roll should look something like this:

Preparation: It looks like this.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Thing You Wouldn't Expect

  1. Internet musicals. (I'm looking at you, Dr. Horrible and A Very Potter Musical.)
  2. A vast majority of what humans do on a daily basis. When you stop and really think about it, people are weird.
  3. A seemingly very complicated process to be completed in about five mouse clicks. When they work, computer are awesome.
  4. A grown man to play with dinosaur toys. Especially while piloting a spaceship.
  5. Tassel loafers. Men's fashion is generally utilitarian, and shoes are no exception. You don't expect shoes to have random decorations hanging around on top. But there they are.
  6. Similarly, predistressed jeans. Jeans are expensive. Why would people want to spend money on jeans that are already ripped, wrinkled, faded, and with skid marks?
  7. The invention of standard cooking techniques. Who thought it'd be a good idea to put bean in boiling water to get coffee? Who figured out that salting meat would keep it fresh? Once placed in a scientific context, they all make sense, but inventing cooking without practical science would be pretty crazy.
  8. Above, but for the discovery of medicinal herbs, plants, and berries. Either early people watched animals to see what wasn't poisonous, or they lost a lot of friends finding out.
  9. The atom bomb. I mean, seriously. Why do science fiction writers bother thinking up photon torpedoes and tachyon beams? You can't beat the atom bomb.
  10. The Spanish Inquisition. Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


The universe is fast and complicated; sometimes impossible things just happen, and we call them miracles.

Life works in ways you don't understand. Everything that happens to you is important. All of life's events are but links in a chain. You might not understand the link while it's being forged, but it can be easily explained once placed in the context of the chain. Usually chains grow slowly and gradually, but occasionally a chain will change forever in one miraculous instant.

Miracles don't happen often. But if one does happen, don't be surprised if it's wearing a fez and a mop.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Things That Are Awesome

  1. Getting a good haircut. Haircuts are a dime a dozen, but it's really hard to get a good one these days. Especially when your hair is insanely thick and curly. 
  2. Bill Nye the Science Guy. If you didn't get to see this show as a kid, you really missed out.
  3. Getting something you've been waiting for. Waiting stinks, and finally ending the wait is (usually) a good thing. Especially if you're waiting for a package to arrive or something cool like that.
  4. Similarly, seeing someone you haven't seen in a while, and who you've really, really, really missed.
  5. Salt water taffy. That stuff is delicious.
  6. See above, but for cake.
  7. Pants that are just the right shade of grey. They go with anything
  8. Running around and generally acting crazy. This is usually frowned upon in modern society, but when you do it with a bunch of your friends it's awesome.
  9. Cold water, for when you're done running around and generally acting crazy.

Friday, July 23, 2010


Usually, it's pretty boring. But everyone does it, for different reasons. But whether its for a UPS truck, a chemical reaction, an important email, or exonerating evidence, there's one thing all waits have in common:

They take a while.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Furry things are cute. For instance: puppies.
Small things are also cute. For instance: 1/4th scale puppies.
Miniature costumes are cute. For instance: 1/4th scale puppies wearing sailor suits.
Childhood is cute. For instance: 1/4th scale puppies wearing sailor suits, on a playground.
Playtime is cute. For instance: 1/4th scale puppies wearing sailor suits, on a playground, going down the sliding board.
Song and dance numbers are cute. For instance: 1/4th scale puppies wearing sailor suits, on a playground, going down the sliding board, dancing to a mariachi band comprised of 1/4th scale puppies wearing sailor suits, on a playground, playing 1/4th scale guitars and trumpets.

I have no idea if this makes any sense at all. But that makes it cute, right?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Slight Differences

It's surprising how sensitive people are to slight changes in their environment. Specifically, it's hard for us to adapt to them.

For example: I recently cleaned my room, and moved my desk chair from one corner of the room to the other. When I go to throw something out, however, I still instinctively go the original corner, where there is no longer a trash can.

A weirder example: We're in the process of removing carpet from our stairs. I was running down the staircase, and almost tripped when I reached the hardwood section; the drop to the next step was a half an inch larger because their was no carpet.

A half an inch difference can really mess with your stride. As unorganized as people can be, I suppose we're all detail oriented by instinct.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ice Cream Snow Man

I made an ice cream snowman for dessert. His eyes were chocolate chips; his arms and nose were salt water taffy.

He was half melted by the time I got a picture taken.

And really, people aren't much different. We don't have an infinite time on this earth. The only difference between us and the ice cream snowman is that we melt much more slowly.

We're all melting, and there's nothing we can do about it. Before you know it, you'll just be a puddle on someone's plate. So use what little time you have on earth, and use it well; if used correctly, there's no limit to the good your life can do.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Two Heads

Two heads: Better than one?

It is often said that two heads are better than one. I, however, am unsure if this is true. A second head would get in the way. (Just ask Zaphod Beeblebrox.) You'd forever be arguing with yourself and obstructing your own field of vision. What rubbish. Plus, wearing hats would be awkward. You'd need two of the same hat - one for each head - and then you'd be plagued by worries that you'd look ridiculous. Also, haircuts would be twice as expensive.

That said, biheadedness would have advantages. You'd be a supreme multitasker. You could play a trumpet with one head and a baritone with the other. You could read and watch TV at the same time. You could examine your own bald spots, and determine whether or not that comb-over actually looks good. The question is: do the benefits outweigh the obvious problems?

Three heads, however, is right out. Seriously.

I mean, really?

Sunday, July 18, 2010


People work best when they have deadlines. However, life doesn't always give you deadlines.

The solution: make your own deadline. If not, have someone make them for you. And remember the wise words of Douglas Adams:
 "I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."

Things I've Learned

  1. Scallion, though it might sound like seafood (think scallop + galleon), is actually a type of onion. Weird.
  2. Furthermore, you can make scallion pancakes. Also weird. The fact that they taste quite good is weirder still.
  3. Sometimes, more people doing one job doesn't make the job faster. If the job's small enough, it just means there's extra folks standing around and getting in the way. (You could probably graph numbers of people versus efficiency and get a really nice bell curve.)
  4. Most people don't use the word "efficiency" a lot in everyday conversation. Furthermore, my friends aren't most people.
  5. Life comes at you fast. You can plan out an entire day, but one phone call can change all your plans.
  6. Land line phones are also ridiculous. I have no idea how to work call waiting. It's really sort of pathetic.
  7. You might think there are wrong times to wear a bow tie. Turns out you're wrong.
  8. The curb is closer to the right-hand side of your car than you think it is. This is also true of tree branches, sidewalks, and guardrails.
  9. Things change, places change, and people change. Rickey wooden playgrounds get turned into shiny, safe, plastic ones. These changes are for the better - and for the worse.
  10. No matter what happens, you still have a choice. No matter what, you're still free. No one can take the sky from you.
  11. Hot weather, no matter how extreme, does not justify wearing shorts. Nothing justifies wearing shorts.*

*"Nothing" excludes actual physical activity, like exercising and stuff. Also, swimming. Shorts are okay then, I guess.

    Friday, July 16, 2010

    Good and Bad

    Good: French Fries With Mayonnaise. I got tuna fish sandwich for lunch today. The sandwich came with a small tub of mayo. Rather than use the mayo on the sandwich as intended, I used it as dip for my french fries. It was actually quite good (and is apparently popular overseas).

    Bad: Driving With Vuvuzelas. As a result of their incessant use at the World Cup, people have been hating on vuvuzelas. This hatred gets taken to a whole new level, however, when you're driving down a narrow street and the people in the car behind you won't stop playing their vuvuzela. (Unfortunately, this is a true story; it happened to me yesterday.)

    Thursday, July 15, 2010

    Awesome Band Names

    I don't play in a band, but I like coming up with band names. Feel free to steal any of these for your band; just let me know and give me credit! (Also, I'd love a CD of your music.)
    1. Narwhals Replying Sarcastically
    2. The Pax Romana
    3. The Party Platformers
    4. Harmonic Oscillations
    5. Zahpod's Second Head 
    6. Down The Up Escalator
    7. Up The Down Escalator
    8. Chainsaws and Boomsticks
    9. Live and Let Jive
    10. Warped 10
    11. Glacier Patrol
    12. Twelve 'Til Midnight
     Would you listen to any of these bands? Have a better band name? Let me know.

    Wednesday, July 14, 2010


    It's relative. Life is as ordinary or as extraordinary as you make it. So don't be afraid to do weird things. It's more fun than you'd think, and much more memorable than the alternative.

    Tuesday, July 13, 2010

    On Superman

    Man of Steel. Challenge for writers.

    Writing Superman comics must be a nightmare. Given the fact that Superman has every single superpower imaginable, writers need to create ridiculous villains with convoluted schemes in order to create any sense of dramatic tension. Think of it this way: when you're "faster than a speeding bullet," more powerful than a locomotive," and "able to leap tall buildings in a single bound," it's foolish to think that logical cliffhangers will be dramatically satisfying. For instance:
    • Lex Luthor pushed Lois Lane off the roof of a building! Can Superman save her in time?
      • Of course he can. He routinely flies around the world (and into space!) within seconds.
    • A giant alien shot half of Metropolis with a heat ray! The city is burning! Can Superman save the day?
      • Easily. He can use his super breath to blow out the fire!
        • (Unfortunately, you can't make this stuff up.)
      • Alternately, he could pick up a body of water to dose the fire.
        • Or something like that.
    • The Joker's kidnapped Harvey Dent and Rachael Dawes, and put them in two buildings rigged to explode! The buildings are really far apart... can Superman save them?
      • Are you kidding? Seriously?
        • But yeah, it's not a problem.
          • Watch this if you don't believe me.
            • Sorry Batman.
    In order to give Superman even a slight challenge, writers have to come up with some ridiculous plot lines. This usually means they're also incredibly stupid. For instance, in Superman Returns Lex Luthor tries to defeat Superman by making an island out of alien crystals. Apparently this would kill a lot of people, and also hurt Superman? Suffice to say that the Man of Steel must give writers an incredibly awful time.

    As a sidenote: There's probably no aquatic life anywhere near Metropolis, seeing how Superman likes to dispose of bombs/other harmful objects by tossing them into Metropolis harbor. (Does he have a vendetta against fish or something? Seriously.) Similarly, there must be a gigantic region of outer space filled with all the random junk Superman has thrown into space. (If he doesn't toss it into the harbor, he tosses it into space.)

    Monday, July 12, 2010

    On Genetics, And The Teaching Thereof

    Genetics* is entirely concept based. This makes it a lecture-intensive subject, and makes hands-on activities all but impossible. It requires the opposite of hands-on activities (that is, hands-off activities [that is, long boring talks]). This, quite understandably, makes it very hard to teach third and fourth graders.

    Small children need something to play with: Give them wires and motors, and you can teach them electricity. Give them mirrors and magnifying glasses, and you can give them light. Give them worksheets and lectures, and you can't teach them genetics. Teaching an elementary school student genetics is like beating a dead horse: The horse can't play with anything, so it won't be amused by your lectures or your beatings.

    However, that doesn't stop some people from trying.

    *This lesson is true of pretty much all intangible subject matter. Quantum physics, psychology, and other abstract concepts will be equally as hard to teach to young students.

    Sunday, July 11, 2010


    The double pendulum: Hypnosis for physicists

    Sometimes, when I'm not busy blogging or saving the world, I'll build things. So today my friend Jeff and I built a double pendulum. It's essentially a large pendulum, with a smaller one swinging beneath. Unlike a regular pendulum, which is fairly easy to quantify, the double pendulum is a chaotic system! Practically speaking, it means it looks crazy and amazing when you watch it swing. Jeff and I used instructions given in MAKE. It took about an hour or two (albeit with guidance by an enlightened expert handyman), and the awesomeness-of-project to time-spent-building ratio is extremely high. If you're so inclined, you can even make one yourself.

    I'll probably give this one a wider base and make a few other improvements. (I'll post about those as they happen.) If I can, I'll also put up some video of the pendulum in action. In the meantime, content yourselves with these pictures of the pendulum in action!

    Saturday, July 10, 2010

    LNRIs: Two Cases, One Result

    Nearly everyone's found themselves awake at ridiculous hours reading a book at some point in their life. But what leads up to this nearly universal situation? Based on scientific study, I've determined that there are two specific cases resulting in these Late Night Reading Incidents (LNRIs). For your benefit, I've broken down these two cases, and assessed them on their practicality, necessity, consequences, and worth-it-ness

    CASE 1: You're reading a book for fun, and find yourself totally engrossed. No matter what you do, you just can't put the book down. You don't want to do anything until you find out how the story ends. As a result, you don't let yourself sleep until you've finished the book, which you usually don't do until 2:00 AM - 3:00 AM.
    CASE 2: You have to take notes on/will be tested on the contents of a book. Either through the accumulation of other work or through your own procrastination, you find yourself unable to begin your note-taking/reading until 10:00 PM - 12:00 PM. A massive LNRI ensues.
    I'm pretty sure these are the two primary (if not the only two) causes of LNRIs. Have I missed one? Let me know.

    Friday, July 9, 2010

    Things That Are Frustrating

    1. Losing one sock while doing laundry. To this day I am convinced that tribes of mischievous gnomes who haunt the world's laundry rooms. When no one is looking, they reach into the dryer and steal a single sock. The results of their work are horrifyingly effective; there are few things worse than staring at a lone sock, powerless to find its mate. Bonus frustration if it's a patterned sock.
    2. Cars parked on both sides of a street. Driving is hard enough as it is.  Having to sweat your way through two rows of cars while simultaneously praying that no one is coming the other way just help matters.
    3. Going to a store to get something you need, only to find they don't have it. Multiply the frustration for each store you must visit. Double it if you're searching for something really basic, like khaki socks.
    4. The forced re-entry of contact information that comes with getting a new cell phone. Depending on how many contacts you have, it can take a while.
    5. Basically anything with cell phones, really. Cell phones are ridiculous.
    6. Power outages that are just long enough to reset every single clock in your house. (If your clocks have a slot for a 9 volt backup battery, make use of it. You'll thank yourself next time you lose power.)
    7. Losing your place in a book. It's only a minor inconvenience, but having to flip through several hundred pages of text to replace your bookmark isn't fun either.
    8. Computer viruses. This is self-explanatory.
    9. Jammed staplers. You can slam them as hard as you'd like, but they just don't work.
    10. The arduous task of trying to fix jammed staplers.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010


    It's like archeology, but on a much smaller scale. You sift through huge piles of junk, carefully searching for any trinkets of possible value. You excavate huge piles of old papers, and the text transports you back to a bygone era in your life. Every piece of paper - whether it's a thank you note or an analysis of Hamlet - has memories embedded in the page. Every trinket has a story. The calculator watch you wore in middle school is hiding somewhere on your cluttered desk, as is the bottle of bubbles you won at your library's trivia night. A good bit of your past is buried in your messy room; cleaning rooms becomes a way to connect to times gone by.

    Most of the items recovered while cleaning ultimately wind up in a recycle bin or trash can. If you do find any pieces of ancient pottery, however, be careful not to chip them.

    Wednesday, July 7, 2010


    It seems like everyone's always rushing someplace. While I'm all for efficiency, it wouldn't hurt anyone to slow down a bit. There's no sense passing the car in front of you just to get to a stop light sooner. Most things folks stress about are largely unimportant in the long run. Life is better when you aren't rushing by. Going quickly usually just means you're going to miss out on something cool.

    Everyone just needs to breathe in. Breathe out. Find a happy place.

    Tuesday, July 6, 2010


    Monopoly is a strange game. The only winning move is to play as often as you can!

    Monopoly gets crazy. I mean, seriously. Have you played Monopoly? It's one big positive feedback loop: Opponents land on your spaces, they give you their money, you use said money to build houses and hotels, you get more money. Lather, rinse, repeat. If you're the one earning money, you keep earning money. If you're the one losing money, you're forced to sell your siblings to cover the rent on St. Charles Place.*

    *When families play, this puts the children at a serious disadvantage, as their parents technically own their siblings already.

    Monday, July 5, 2010

    Mental Images, Part 3

    It's a great mental image. Also, it's a good actual image.

    Imagine a very happy, very small black bear. Now put him on a swing set. It's adorable!

    Sunday, July 4, 2010

    On Blogging (With/Without The Internet)

    Blogging can be really hard. Especially when you don't have an internet connection. Good thing I got that fixed.

    While I was without internet, I wondered if blogging would even be possible without an internet connection. At first, I thought internet-less blogging was a practical impossibility. But then I realized my mistake. It's easy to blog without the internet.

    It's called keeping a journal.

    Saturday, July 3, 2010


    Here’s the game plan: I’m going to type whatever comes into my head. No deleting (except in case of misspellings or grammatical mistakes). No plan, no outline. Nothing. I’ll do this for five minutes or until I get tired. (EDIT: I actually wound up writing for about nine minutes. I apologize for my failure to meet expectations.)

    Starting… NOW!

    Everyone types, but most people don’t really think about it. There’s a lot to consider. The keyboard arrangement, for instance. I keep hearing about arrangements other than the standard QWERTY setup, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen any. I mean, I’ve never seen a DVORAK keyboard, although I keep reading about them. Strange.

    There’s visible variation between different QWERTY keyboards, though. Laptop keyboards are often condensed, but I usually don’t have issues with those. One of my friends used to have this really bizarre keyboard, where the keys were set up in arches, with a split in the middle. Sort of like a Roman amphitheater, but for typing instead of plays. It was a major hassle to use. I’ve also read about laser keyboards. A tiny projector projects a keyboard made of light onto whatever surface it’s sitting on. Your fingers break lasers as they touch the light-keyboard, and it types. Pretty wild, if you ask me. Unfortunately, I’ve never seen one in stores.

    Light is pretty strange. It exists as both a particle and a wave. Totally crazy. That’s like the ice cubes in your drink existing in your drink, perfectly stationary, while simultaneously traveling across the room as a wave. Well, maybe not exactly like that, but sort of close. Needless to say it’s pretty bloody bizarre. If Plank’s constant was bigger, tennis balls would behave like light beams. You’d hit them whilst in particle form, they’d dissipate into waves while moving, then re-condense into particles at their destination.

    Imagine how that could revolutionize golf.

    Friday, July 2, 2010

    Instrument Names

    The names of most musical instruments don’t give a real indication of what they look like or what they do. “Piano,” for instance, doesn’t suggest the presence of a keyboard and small, felt-coated mallets that hit metal strings. There’s nothing about the word “trombone,” that would imply that it’s made of brass and has a slide.

    The exception is bagpipes. That’s exactly what it says on the tin.

    Thursday, July 1, 2010


    It’s a really really really really really really really really long time.

    Just something to consider when wishing for immortality.

    Wednesday, June 30, 2010

    Great Gatsby Limericks

    Lookin' fly, Jay. Lookin' fly.

    There once was a fellow named Jay
    Who amassed a fortune his way.
    He became a bootlegger,
    Now he’s rich (not a beggar)
    An he stares at a green light all day.

    In East Egg’s a woman named Daisy
    Who drives old Jay Gatsby crazy!
    She loves his beautiful shirts
    So much that it hurts
    But she’s “old money” and lazy.

    The nrrator’s a fellow named Nick
    He’s nice, but a little bit thick.
    He dates Jordan Baker,
    (She’s really a faker;
    Cheating at golf’s quite a trick.)

    Tuesday, June 29, 2010

    On Volume

    You have nothing to fear from loud sounds. Sure, they're big and scary, but they're also quite obvious. It's hard to miss a train whizzing by or a firecracker exploding in sky or a fire alarm yelling to get out of a building. It's the little sounds you have to watch for. They're the tricky buggers. A loud car speeding by your house might wake you up at night, but it's the tiniest noises - the buzz of a small insect, the ominous tick of clock's second hand, the eerie creak of a door, the imperceptible whistle of the wind through a tree, the low breath of your sleeping dog - that will keep you up.

    Monday, June 28, 2010

    Things That Are Vastly Underrated

    Or, "Things We Need To See More Of." Or, "Things I Like, But Other People Don't Seem To Enjoy."
    • Cheese danishes. Everyone loves fruit danishes, but no one gives their dairy-based cousins the time of day. They're actually quite good.
    • Suspenders. People avoid them, but they're actually more comfortable than belts, and are much more effective at keeping your pants up. Just make sure you get the kind that button on to your trousers, and avoid the clip-on variety.
    • Humus. It's delicious. Especially edamame humus. Eat with pita chips, or whatever else you want.
    • Bow ties. Bow ties are cool. The look really nice, but no one wears them.
    • Thoughtful discussion. A lot of people feel like being right is more important than learning. But really, you get more done by listening to opposing viewpoints than you do by shouting at them.
    • James K. Polk. He promised to lower tariffs, get control of the Oregon territory, establish an independent treasury, and to fulfill the idea of Manifest Destiny. He did all these things in his first term, so he didn't both running for a second. What a pro.

    Sunday, June 27, 2010

    Mental Images, Part 2

    Imagine a dog. She's a small, white West Highland Terrier. She's extremely old, but generally good-tempered.

    Now picture this dog in a baby stroller, getting pushed throughout the neighborhood, as happy as could be.

    It's certainly not as funny as a small British hedgehog, though I actually saw this go by the house earlier in the week.

    Saturday, June 26, 2010

    Mental Images

    A friend of mine told me to picture a small, British hedgehog slowly waddling around a box. I envision him with a very small top hat and a very, very small monocle. Every so often, he'd bump into something and with his small, British-accented hedgehog voice, mutter "oh bother."

    For whatever reason, I find this hilarious.

    Friday, June 25, 2010

    Movies That Should Be Made

    1. A decent adaptation of The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald's novel is superb, but pretty much all the film adaptations have been epic fails. It's about time someone fixed this.
    2. An animated movie about turtles. We've had frogs, deer, cats, dogs, foxes, hounds, fish, penguins, and robots, but nothing about turtles. Turtles are cool, so a movie about them would also be. (If there actually is a movie about turtles, please let me know.)
    3. A Where's Waldo movie. Some artistic liberties would obviously be taken, but it could be done. Waldo would be some elite globe-trotting super-spy/action hero/general do-gooder. Maybe he could team up with Carmen Sandiego or something.
    4. A James Bond movie with a reasonable plot. (More Casino Royale, less Quantum of Solace)
    5. Heck, any sort of action movie with a reasonable plot would be nice. Given the plotlines of most action movies, I'd even settle for a semi-coherent one
    6. A biography of Winston Churchill. That man was so bloody hardcore. (See here, but watch for the strong language. There's quite a bit of it.)
    7. Something with Vikings.
    8. A romance film chronicling the life of the Loch Ness Monster, and it's turbulent relationship with the Sasquatch.

    Thursday, June 24, 2010

    Culinary Adventures II: Impressionist Ice Clowns

    As you know, I'm a firm believer in the idea that ice cream can be readily combined with whatever else you have in your kitchen. I've once again acted on this principle, and have come up with something pretty strange: the Impressionist Ice Clown.

    Do you see the hat and the nose? Probably not. Oh well...

    The Impressionist Ice Clown contains items from four out of the six major food groups, an is quite easy to prepare. To make one:
    1. Gather the following items:

      • A frozen waffle
      • Frozen yogurt (I used vanilla, but get creative)
      • A strawberry
      • A banana
      • An ice cream cone
      • Chocolate syrup
      • An ice cream scooper
      • A plate
    2. Get the waffle nice and crispy. You can do this quite quickly in a toaster oven.
    3. Put the waffle on the plate.
    4. Get two huge scoops of frozen yogurt, and stick them on top of the waffle. (Don't try to get away with small or medium scoops... they have to be HUGE.)
    5. Slice up the banana and the strawberry, and sprinkle this onto the frozen yogurt-covered waffle. (The strawberry bits are the impressionist clown nose.)
    6. Stick the ice cream cone onto the waffle. Make sure it's at a sufficiently jaunty angle. (This is the impressionist clown hat.)
    7. Eat and enjoy! You'll want a fork, knife, and spoon for this guy. (Though I'd love to see someone eat one with chopsticks.) Serves one very hungry person, or two not-very hungry people.
    There's a lot of room for expansion here. Once you get the frozen yogurt onto the waffle, you can throw basically whatever on the Ice Clown. If you make one, try adding different fruits. Maybe sprinkle the whole thing with some granola or Frosted Flakes. The sky's the limit, so go wild!

    Om nom nom...

    EDIT: Apparently this is basically just a Belgian waffle. Good minds think alike, I suppose.

    Wednesday, June 23, 2010

    On Age

     "There's no point in growing up if you can't be childish sometimes." - Tom Baker
    Age may imply seriousness, but it certainly doesn't require it. So don't be afraid to do childish things. Plays the games on the back of the children's menu. Play "connect the dots"... with a crayon. Watch Toy Story with your friends. Seek out hidden stuffed animals in food stores, and get lollipops for finding them. Build sandcastles at the beach. Declare thumb wars. Eat ice cream. Drink milkshakes. Getting older is required, but growing up is optional. Just don't stop having fun.

    Tuesday, June 22, 2010

    Made-Up Idioms I Like To Use

    For the record, I actually say these. Feel free to use them. Don't feel free to judge me.That's not cool
    • Mo' [NOUN], mo' problems.

      PERSON: "Gosh darnit! We have so much bloody bread in this bloody beach house!"ME: "I know, man! Mo' bread, mo' problems."
    •  If [EVENT] occurred, it would create a [VAGUELY SCI-FI SOUNDING THING] and tear a hole in the space-[SAME NOUN AS BEFORE] continuum!

      PERSON: "Clint Eastwood is so awesome."ME: "I know, right! If Clint Eastwood cloned himself, and the two clones met, it would create a positive feedback loop and tear a hole in the space-awesomeness continuum!"
    • What the monkey/frankfurter/flying flapjack?

      [A llama jumps out of your cellar]
      ME: "What the monkey* is that llama doing in my cellar!?!"
      *In this case, "frankfurter" or "flying flapjack" could be used in the place of "monkey." Which is used is left to the discretion of the speaker.
    • Don't judge me...

      [PERSON is reading this blog post]
      PERSON: You actually say this stuff?
      ME: Don't judge me...

    Monday, June 21, 2010

    Cell Phones Are Ridiculous

    Wait... How do I even dial with this?

    I've already declared the not-awesomeness of the telephone. However, there's a special place in the land of not-awesomeness for cell phones. I like to think I'm good with technology; I run a blog, after all. However, I'm an idiot when it comes to cell phones. Especially the newer ones with crazy features. In my opinion, a good cell phone needs only the following:
    1. A key pad (for dialing numbers). This should have actual buttons.
    2. A contact list (so I don't have to remember the numbers I dial)
    3. A screen (to read the contact list)
    4. Voice mail (though this really isn't necessary)
    Those four features are all I need in a phone. However, phone companies and I don't see eye to eye. You can't get a phone nowadays without a camera. This extra feature is unnecessary at best, but it's at least a bit practical, and there's loads of entertainment value. (I've spent many a happy hour stealing friends' cell phones, snapping candid pictures, and making said candid shots my friend's new wallpaper.)

    My ability with phones decreases, however, as the number of extras increase. Mobile internet and texting befuddle the heck out of me; touch screens, full QWERTY keyboards, and pop-out buttons are the bane of my cellular existence. Many a time I've tried to borrow a friend's phone to make a call, only to find myself unable to turn the phone on, much less dial a number and make a call. It's really quite sad.

    In conclusion: phones are too complicated. Either that, or I'm too old-fashioned.

    It's probably a bit of both.

    Sunday, June 20, 2010

    Things I've Learned

    A few things I've noticed this week/weekend:
    1. It's important to be assertive. If you look and act like you know what you're doing, people will act accordingly. They even have a TV trope about this, as well as a few creepy real-life examples. Just use your powers for good instead of evil.
    2. Pepperoni stromboli don't have to be greasy to be delicious. (Greasy doesn't hurt, though.)
    3. The best things on life are free. The second-best things are really inexpensive.
    4. Additionally, well-made things don't have to be expensive. You can get a dynamite tweed jacket for under $5.00 if you know where to look.
    5. On another food-related note: There might be a billion varieties of ice cream available, and even more types of toppings, but sometimes you  just can't beat plain vanilla cream.
    6. There's nothing like a good cliffhanger. I mean, anyone can leave a character hanging off a cliff and flash a "To Be Continued" title onto the screen, but it takes serious skill to create a situation that seems totally awful and completely and utterly inescapable. Anyone who's seen the first half of the Doctor Who season five finale knows what I'm talking about.
    7. Sometimes you know when something about the universe is right. You can't prove it, but  you just have an inescapable feeling that you know exactly how something should be.
    8. Sometimes you have to skip brainstorming and just start writing. A good portion of the time it's the only way to get stuff done.

    Saturday, June 19, 2010

    In A Nutshell

    Nutshells: The new standard of conciseness?

    When people tell you something "in a nutshell," they're telling you the simplest, most concise version of the story that they can.

    Of course, no one mentions the type of nut they're using. One would assume that smaller nuts mean a more concise statement. Therefore, a walnut is less concise than a peanut, which in turn is less concise than a pistachio.

    If there's anything I love more than nuts, it's the metric system, so I'm using the "in-a-nutshell" principle to define a new unit of concision: the walnut. One walnut is the amount of concision needed to fit a story in a typical size walnut shell. I imagine the centiwalnut or the milliwalnut would be good baseline units for taking measurements of just how concise your story should be. (I imagine a reasonably compact story would be about 700 milliwalnuts.) The actual mathematics of converting story length to shell-filling volume, however, is still in development. Until that gets finished, you can use the walnut-peanut-pistachio continuum to give a rougher estimate of how to-the-point a story should be.

    Friday, June 18, 2010

    Cartoon Oddities

    Disney characters: a sartorial minefield

    I've never understood the way Disney dresses their characters. Donald Duck stomps around in a sailor shirt, bow tie, and hat, but with no pants or shoes. Mickey Mouse, however, only wears pants and shoes. Adding further confusion is Goofy, who is fully covered with hat, shirt, vest, pants, and shoes. Minnie Mouse is also fully covered with a dress, hair ribbon, and shoes. Pluto only gets a collar, but that's because he's a dog. (More on that later.)

    A few things worth noting: Donald Duck is the only pictured character without pants. However, his nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie and his girlfriend Daisy are also pants-less. It seems that no Disney duck is required to wear pants. However, in a bizarre case of species-based discrimination, Mickey and Minnie Mouse always have pants. Is there a reason why mice need pants while ducks do not? It's possible that mice are merely more modest. This, however, does not explain Mickey Mouse's shirtless antics. It is more likely that ducks would have difficulty swimming while wearing pants. Plus, pants can't be comfortable if you're covered in feathers (although this would also be true of shirts).

    More problems arise when we examine a few members of another species: Dogs. Specifically, let's take a look at Goofy and Pluto. Goofy can talk and has a fully-developed personality; he can even walk on his hind legs. Pluto, however, lacks all of these traits. For all intents and purposes, he's just a dog. A similar discrepancy is apparent in The Little Mermaid:  fish can sing and dance, but Max the Sheepdog can only bark.

    This, of course, raises disturbing questions: Where is Disney's cutoff point for assigning sentience? Why can ducks, mice, and seafood talk while dogs cannot? Is Disney harboring an anti-canine agenda? Is Mickey Mouse's shirtlessness the result of exhibitionist tendencies? Your guess is as good as mine.

    Thursday, June 17, 2010


    Words aren't the only way to communicate meaning. In fact, sometimes the best words aren't words at all.

    By combining various prefixes, suffixes, verb endings, and root words, you can usually come up with something that isn't quite a word, but still does the job quite nicely. You won't find "kayak-tastic" in a dictionary. However, calling a day at the beach "kayak-tastic" is much more concise than saying it was "a grand time, with lots of enjoyable kayaking for everyone."

    Sometimes, you can even make do with mere sounds. With the right intonation, inflection, and accenting, a well-shouted "AUGHAMATHUBA!" (pronounced "AH-GAH-MAH-THUB-AH") can mean more than an entire thesaurusworth of synonyms for "I am frustrated." Words are merely human constructs, and can mean whatever we want them to. There's nothing to stop you from writing your own dictionary.

    Wednesday, June 16, 2010

    On Risk

    The most dangerous game...

    While doing research, I discovered a few interesting rules variations for Risk games. For instance, if an attacking player rolls three of the same number, they draw a Risk card, and the nation pictured on that card gets nuked. All troops in a nuked nation get destroyed, and anyone who moves their armies through the nuked nation lose half their troops to radiation sickness. In my humble opinion, this is insanely cool.

    In other news: Anyone up for a game of Risk?