Monday, May 31, 2010


Haiku are easy:
A line of five syllables,
Then seven, then five.

You can write them quite
Easily, so long as you
Count the syllables.

If you are a bit
Clever, you can write a whole
Lot of them quickly.

Haiku are often
About nature: seasons and
Animals and stuff.

However, these are
Not. These are just written for
A mere blog posting.

They are not about
Nature. Instead, they just make

To me, the blogger,
And to the posting process.
No room for nature.

I once wrote many
Haiku. So, so many. Then
I found five dollars.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Fifth Wheel

In a situation with two close friends, and one not-as-close-as-the-other-two-friends-so-it-is-a-little-awkward acquaintance, (as with a couple on a date and another person) many people make reference to "the third wheel." The third wheel, they posit, is the odd man out in these unfortunate groups of three. The third wheel is the awkward, unnecessary extra.

I think this idiomatic logic is totally bogus. Because, literally speaking, a third wheel is not terribly awkward. A fifth wheel, however, is. Consider the following:
If you have one wheel, you have a unicycle. Unicycles are rad. Anyone who can ride one is worthy of your respect and mine. Nothing awkward there.

Add another wheel, and you get a bicycle. This is a fairly standard and extremely functional mode of transportation. Add a motor and you have a motorcycle. Add a leather jacket, and you're cool. (Add gelled hair, and you're the Fonz.) Fifties stereotypes notwithstanding, there's nothing awkward about bicycles

Add another wheel, and you've got a tricycle. While often associated with the younger generation (read: toddlers), the tricycle is still an extremely usable means of getting around. Add a motor, and you get a pretty sweet motor-trike. This isn't really awkward either.

One more wheels gets you a car. Alternately, an ATV. Either way, it's not awkward.

Add a fifth wheel. Where does it go? What does it do? How does it steer? This is when things get awkward.
Vehicles don't get awkward until they have five wheels. Because a three-wheel vehicle isn't awkward, but a five-wheel vehicle is, I therefore declare "the third wheel" to be a stupid and illogical idiom. Henceforth, it is to be replaced with "the fifth wheel," even when there's only three people.
A note: Some might try to make the case that the fifth wheel is a spare tire on a car, and thus not awkward. This excuse, while creative, doesn't quite work. Unlike the rest of the car's wheel, the spare tire does nothing. It just sits there. That in and of itself is awkward for the other four wheels.

Additionally, if you carry the analogy further, a while that does nothing must be analogous to a person that does nothing. For a person to do nothing, they'd have to be asleep or unconscious or something. (Depending on how this person got to be asleep or unconscious, they may or may not be awkward for the other people.) So if two people are on a date, and they have a third person asleep in their back seat/unconscious in their trunk, then the third guy is a spare tire.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Geek Hero #1: The Doctor

Exhibit A: A Time Lord. Exhibit B: His awesome tie.

There's a lot to say about The Doctor. (Doctor... Who? That is the question, isn't it?) He's a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey. He travels across time and space, seeking adventure and righting wrongs. He's over 900 years old. He has two hearts. His face and body and change (he's currently on his eleventh incarnation), but his core personality is a constant. He's insanely smart, with a powerful sense of right and wrong. He's also saved the entirety of the universe several hundred times. And counting.

Geek Cred: 
  • The Doctor's space/time-ship, the TARDIS, is about the geekiest/awesomest thing imaginable.
    • Outside, it looks like an old-school British police box. This is cool by itself. It's also bigger on the inside as a result of dimensional engineering.
    • It can travel anywhere in space and time, and can withstand basically anything.
      • It's been exposed to temperatures of several thousand degrees (Celsius, of course... this is an English show), been hit by missiles, fallen off cliffs, and who knows what else.
      • It even has an adjustable air shield, so the Doctor and his friends can open the TARDIS doors and stick their heads out of the ship while it's floating in deep space
  • Most sci-fi heroes carry a laser gun or a sonic disruptor or something like that. The Doctor's tool of choice: A sonic screwdriver. Essentially, it's a Swiss Army Knife from space. This is clearly a guy who solves puts mind over matter.
    • It's a really, really, really, REALLY versatile Swiss Army Knife, but still.
  •  The Doctor's a master of nearly every sort of science imaginable. You sort of pick it up after traveling the universe for several centuries.
    • His third incarnation could fix anything by reversing the polarity of the neutron flow.
      • Yes, neutrons have no polarity... he's just that good.
    • His fifth incarnation disabled a an android ordered to kill all humans by making it scan his nonhuman biology. Then by cutting its solenoids.
    • His ninth incarnation reprogrammed a bunch of faulty nanogenes without a computer. He was just extremely clever, and had the nanogenes follow his example.
    • His tenth incarnation built a DNA scanner out of Depression-era equipment, and built a rather famous "timey wimey detector" (it goes "ding" when there's stuff) out of 1970's electronics.
    • His eleventh incarnation improvised a TARDIS power generator... with kitchen supplies.
  • The Doctor knows the universe like the back of his hand. Nearly every planet, lifeform, phenomena, etc. He knows basically all of them.
    • Note the basically. There's still a good bit the Doctor doesn't know.
      • The back of his hands change with some frequency, after all.
  •  Being a time traveler, the Doctor pals around with many historical figures. Thus far, he's meet...
    • Leonard Da Vinci
    • William Shakespeare
    • Queen Victoria
    • Queen Elizabeth
    • Marco Polo
    • Emily Post (he's on her bowling team, actually)
    • Charles Dickens
    • Agatha Christie
    • "Who" knows who else? 
  • In his tenth incarnation, the Doctor was called "a science geek." Being the geek he is, he had no idea what the term meant.
    •  Geekier still, when he learned the meaning of the term, he considered it to be a compliment. 
      • You go, Doctor.
  •  OVERALL SCORE: 10/11
Day-Saving Ability:
  •  The Doctor's saved every planet in the universe at least three times. I mean, seriously. You can't beat this guy. A few awesome examples, though:
    • The fourth Doctor goes back in time to avert the creation of the Daleks, his arch nemesis. After wiring the Dalek production facility to explode, he stops, famously asking himself "have I the right" to commit genocide, even against the Daleks.
    • He gets a legit hero speech during the whole thing also. Look it up if you can.
    • The fifth Doctor and his friend have been poisoned, and he needs to get an antidote. Having been kidnapped by mercenaries, the Doctor takes over his captors' ship, facing down both the armed crew and an imminent crash-landing, just to save his friend. And all the while he's slowly dying of Spectrox poisoning.
    • And he still gets to give a hero speech. You go, Doctor, you go.
    • The seventh Doctor, in the midst of navigating a Dalek civil war, tricks Davros (creator of the Daleks) into destroying their home planet using a device he hid in his first incarnation.
    • Chessmaster much?
    • The ninth Doctor saved the entire earth for a swarm of gas mask zombies. 
    • A fleet of several thousand Daleks tells the Doctor that they're going to burn the earth. The Doctor tells them to shut up. Awesome ensues.
    • His tenth incarnation faced down a sentient swarm of flesh-eating microbes in a planet-sized library. How'd he do it? He told them to look him up.
    • Immediately following his regeneration, the eleventh Doctor crash lands his TARDIS, only to find that he has twenty minutes to save the earth from annihilation. He has no TARDIS and no sonic screwdriver. He doesn't even know what he looks like. He does it with two minutes to spare.
      • The Doctor's eleventh incarnation is made of win: He bluffed his way onto a Dalek ship using a Jammie Dodger.
      • The Daleks eventually call his bluff, but he still gets a cookie out of the deal.
    •  There are so many more, (900 years worth, as it were) but there's neither time nor space to list them all.
      • Sorry.
  •  OVERALL SCORE: 11/11. Heck yes.

    Friday, May 28, 2010

    Geek Hero #2: MacGyver

    Necessity may be the mother of invention, but this guy is the father.

    Tony Stark engineered his escape from a group of terrorists IN A CAVE! WITH A BOX OF SCRAPS! Angus MacGyver, the titular hero of MacGyver, could have done it with just the box.  An agent of the Phoenix Foundation, MacGyver doesn't use guns: instead he solves problems with duct tape, a Swiss Army Knife, his wits, and whatever else he can find. One man's light bulb is MacGyver's lock pick.

    He's also one of the only two men who can pull off a mullet. (The other is Aquman.)

    Geek Cred:
    • MacGyver has degrees in physics and chemistry.
    • He served in Vietnam on a bomb disposal team.
    • Mac can build anything he needs out of whatever is in his pockets/in the room. His ability to do so walks the fine line between "mad skillz, yo" and "straight-up superpower." A few fun examples:
      • He seals an acid leak using bars of chocolate.
      • He uses a camera flash to detonate plastic explosives.
      • In the space of around seven minutes, he uses a map to retrieve a key, as a blowgun, to hide a lead pipe, as a sled, and finally to patch a leaking hot air balloon.
      • Mac uses an electric egg beater, a rubber band, some batteries, and a kitchen trolley to make a motorized car. He then adds the helmet from a suit of armor, and uses the contraption to divert motion-tracking machine guns.
      • MacGyver hates using guns. That said, he used a revolver as an impromptu wrench to unblock a nuclear reaction's cooling system.
      • Chemistry according to MacGyver: Any combination of random household chemicals can be combined in some way to make a bomb.
        • It's just a fact of science.
      • Engineering according to MacGyver: Any combination of random household materials can be used to diffuse a bomb.
        • MacGyver was planning on going to a hockey game with his grandfather. He wound up using his ticket to disable a bomb.
          • His grandfather still went to the game, though.
      • To open a looked door, MacGyver opened up a few bullets, poured the gunpowder into the lock, and then ignited the power by whacking it with the butt of the revolver.
        • Q: Why didn't MacGyver just shoot the lock?
        • A: Because his way is a thousand times more awesome.
      • MacGyver's getaway car his a broken radiator. To fix it, he cracks and egg and plunks it into the radiator. The egg cooked in the radiator, and sealed the leak.
      • There's a really handy list of Problems Solved By MacGyver.
    •  His name is a verb.
    • OVERALL SCORE: 11/11 (This guy does it all)
    Day-Saving Ability:
    • What on earth does the Phoenix Foundation do, besides sending MacGyver to help the helpless?
      • No one knows.
    •  MacGyver does everything. He starts as a secret agent, but his job description because less and less defined as time goes on. His adventures include:
      • Rescuing a crashed pilot
      • Retrieving stolen horses
      • Collecting foreign intelligence
      • Defends a plantation against a swarm of ants
      • Putting out a fire at an oil well
      • Escaping Berlin in a coffin.
        • The coffin turns into a jet ski.
      • Leading wilderness expeditions
      • Saving endangered eagles
      • Retrieving stolen/captured/whatever microfilm
      • Recovering an experimental jet
      • Stopping bizarre, mutated viruses
      • Saving an Amish homestead from being demolished
      • Driving race cars
      • Going back in time to King Arthur's court and helping Merlin
        • Really
          • But maybe not. It might have been a dream...
    • OVERALL: 10/11

    Thursday, May 27, 2010

    Geek Hero #3: Indiana Jones

    Exhibit A: The archeologist. (Awesome hat sold seperately)

    Not much needs to be said about Dr. Henry "Indiana" Jones Jr. By day, he teaches archeology at Barnett College, clad in a tweed suit and bow tie. By night (or when just on leave), he dons his awesome leather jacket and iconic fedora and goes in search of legendary artifacts. With bullwhip and satchel in hand, Jones goes toe-to-toe with Nazis, cults, and Soviets in search of the greats treasures of the past.

    Geek Cred
    • Dr. Jones teaches archeology at Barnett College. His professorship automatically grants him certain geek powers
      • Jones has the professorial look down to a science with his tweed three-piece suits and bow ties. Geeky? Yes. Awesome? Absolutely.
    • As an archeologist, Dr. Jones has a ton of specialized knowledge of ancient cultures.
      • He knows a ton of ancient languages, cultures, etc. Of course, he is an archeologist
        • When Jones was thirteen, his dad would only reply if Indy addressed him in Greek.
          • An Intellectual from Day One.
    • Jones is pretty good at dicphering riddles and cryptic clues. As an archeologist, it comes with the territory.
      • He also knows his way around maps. Again, archeology.
      • Similarly, he's usually pretty good at figuring out ancient death traps. Unless, of course, he's in a rush...
    • Besides his book smarts, Indy is extremely gifted at making up stuff as he goes along. With his wits - and a bit of luck - he can usually come up with a solution to whatever problem comes his way.
      • In a famous example, Jones and his friends are forced to jump out of a plane. Jones improvises a working parachute out an inflatable life raft. Such is the way of the Indy Ploy.
      • In the same movie, Indy manages to escape a nightclub by jumping out a window, and using awnings to stop his fall. (According to the Mythbusters, it works. Kind of.)
    • Given all his in-universe skills, people love to point out how bad of an archeologist Indiana really is. Real archeologists sit around in escalations all day and dust of bits of old clay pots. Indiana's probably the one who smashed said old clay pot into bits.
      • It can be argued, however, Indiana has taken a potentially boring field, and made it awesome.
    • OVERALL SCORE: 9/11
    Day-Saving Ability:
    • When Indiana's off searching for artifacts, there's a two-in-four chance that he's also fighting Nazis at the same time.
      • It's either that, creepy-child-enslaving-cults, or Cold War-era Soviets. And those are just the movies.
    • On screen, Indy locates the Ark of the Covenant, sacred Sankara stones, the Holy Grail, and a Crystal Skull. Despite what "real" archeologists would have you believe, it's not as easy as digging and dusting.
      • To get the Ark, Indy had escape a pit full of snakes, disable an airplane, stop a runaway truck, and strap himself to the top of a U-boat.
      • Want a Sankara stone? If you can escape from a spiky room filled with bugs, avoid being sacrificed to a lava pit and having your heart pulled out, and can navigate a mine cart through a disused track at ridiculous speeds, its yours.
      • The Holy Grail is a bit easier: Indy only has to pass three tests: first, he has to avoid losing his head (literally and figuratively) in a room filled with buzz saws. Secondly, he has to use his knowledge of scripture and ancient language to find the right path across a room filled with snakes. Lastly, he has to make a literal leap of faith into what looks like a bottomless chasm.
        • Of course, once he makes it into the room where the Grail is being stored, he has to pick the right chalice from a group of fakes. Picking the wrong one ages you to dust.
          • No pressure.
        • There's also a plane chase and an attack on a Nazi convoy, but that's nothing compared to the tests.
      • You need to meet aliens to get a Crystal Skull. That's just the rule.
        • Escaping a nuclear blast by hiding in a refrigerator certainly helps, though.
    • A thirteen-year-old Indy steals a gold cross belonging to Francisco Vázquez de Coronado from grave robbers. While he doesn't get to keep the cross, he does receive his Nice Hat from the lead robber. Thirty years later, he succeeds in getting back the cross.
    • Indiana Jones' dad is Sean Connery. Yes, James Bond is Indy's father. There's really no way to beat that.
    • OVERALL SCORE: 10/11

    Wednesday, May 26, 2010

    Geek Hero #4: Gordon Freeman

    Gordon Freeman: His other crowbar is a Gravity Gun

    Gordon Freeman (of the Half-Life series) is not your typical theoretical physicist. Gordon was having an average day at the Black Mesa Research Facility, but before he knew it, he's accidentally opened a hole in the universe, and now invaders from the Xen Dimension are pouring into reality. Armed with a Hazardous Environment Suit, a crowbar, and a few other weapons, Freeman battles extradimensional invaders and gigantic monsters in his crusade to save the world.

    Also, he never talks. How weird is that?

    Geek Cred:
    • Freeman's a theoretical physicist. His Ph.D. is from MIT.
      • His life's work: The teleportation of matter
      • His thesis on the subject: Observation of Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen Entanglement on Supraquantum Structures by Induction Through Nonlinear Transuranic Crystal of Extremely Long Wavelength (ELW) Pulse from Mode-Locked Source Array.
        • An MIT education: $36,000. Per year.
        • Writing a doctoral dissertation with a five line title: Priceless
    • At the time of Half-Life, Gordan is working for Black Mesa on a top secret research project.
      • He's investigating Anomalous Materials (Whatever they are, they must be extremely geeky.)
    • When he isn't wielding his trademark crowbar or some sort of firearm, Freeman's weapon of choice is a gravity gun.
    • Being a physicist, Gordon tends to pal around with other scientists. Also, a gigantic robot named "Dog."
    • OVERALL SCORE: 10/11
      Day-Saving Ability:
      • Although he's a physicist, Gordon spends a lot of time on the side doing other things. You know, like saving the planet from extradimensional invaders.
        • His trademark weapon of choice while doing so? A crowbar. If that isn't hardcore, nothing is.
      • After accidentally opening a hole in the universe to the Xen Dimension, Freeman actually goes to Xen to destroy the leader of the extradimensional aliens. He does so.
        • To put this in perspective, Gordon is theoretical physicist. This guy sits around and thinks all day. He probably doesn't even spend much time experimenting in labs. And then he goes and fights bloodly aliens. That'd be like Albert Einstein picking himself up and winning World War II all by himself, only more awesome.
      • Twenty years after going to Xen, Freeman returns to Earth and finds that the Combine, another group of extradimensional aliens, has conquered the planet. What does he do? What any good physicist would:
        • Picks up his crowbar
        • Fights the Combine
        • And then starts a human rebellion for good measure
      • OVERALL SCORE: 10/11

      Tuesday, May 25, 2010

      Geek Hero #5: Michael Westen

      Michael Westen used to be a spy. Now he's just awesome.

      Burn Notice's Michael Westen used to be a spy. Then he got fired. Now he's stuck in Miami, working as a freelance spy, helping the helpless, catching criminals, etc., all the while trying to figure out who got him burned and why. Because of his ex-spy status, Westen has a few...unique...skills. Geeky skills, and awesome skills. (Note that there's a huge amount of overlap in those two categories.)

      Geek Cred:
      • Spies, being spies, have high standards of geekiness/awesomeness. As such, Michael knows a lot of things about a lot of things
        • He speaks Russian, Persian, Czech, Arabic, French, and German.
        • He also has mad acting skillz, routinely impersonating drug dealers, gunrunners, smugglers, construction workers, hotel staff, restaurant safety inspectors, crazed street thugs (you really can't make this stuff up, can you?), and more during his assignments.
          • Often, Westen can show up and act like he's in charge and have people follow. No impersonation necessary
      • Spies operate with very little specialized equipment. As such, Michael often MacGyvers together sophisticated tools from everyday stuff. A few examples:
        • Westen builds a rather effective bomb out of a microwave, aerosol cleaning chemicals, and silverware.
          • He can basically take whatever happens to be in a room and somehow build a bomb with it. He is a spy.
        • Need to wipe security computers? No problem; just build a gigantic electromagnet, hide it in a backpack, and pretend to be a security technician.
        • If Michael has a cell phone, he's about five minutes from having a listening device and/or a tracking device.
        • When his gun is broken, Michael replaces the firing pin with a hair pin. The gun works (though for only one shot).
        • In one instance, he even bulletproofs a car with phonebooks. (According to the Mythbusters, it works).
        • At one point, Westen even says that "Guns make you stupid. Better to fight your wars with duct tape. Duct tape makes you smart..."
          • There's no way to protest the awesome.
      • OVERALL SCORE: 7/11
      Day-Saving Ability:
      • Being a freelance spy, Michael Westen spends a good bit of his time helping the helpless. A few examples:
        • Helping witnesses of gang violence
        • Rescuing kidnapped people
        • Foiling assassinations
        • Capturing conmen
        • The list goes on
      • An especially dramatic example:
        • Early in his freelance spy career, Michael busts a drug dealer. Later on, this same drug dealer (named "Sugar") turns to Michael for help. Sugar's brother is getting mixed up with a gang, and Michael is the most hardcore person Sugar knows. Of course, Michael helps
          • Sugar even supplies Westen with a bunch of rolls of duct tape.
          • That's how you do it, man.
      • OVERALL SCORE: 8/11

      Monday, May 24, 2010

      Geek Hero #6: Captain Jean-Luc Picard

      "I am Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise!"

      Captain Jean-Luc Picard (of Star Trek: The Next Generation) is the Captain of the USS Enterprise, flagship of the United Federation of Planets He's encountered more alien species than you can shake a stick at. He drinks tea and takes names. He's a gentleman and a scholar. And, last but not least, he boldly goes where no one has gone before.

      He's also better than Captain Kirk. It's just a fact of the universe.

      Geek Cred:
      • When not busy captaining his starship, Picard enjoys reading Shakespeare and detective fiction
        • He also enjoys studying Latin in his free time. (Yes, Latin)
        • Oh, and did we mention archeology? He's in to that, too.
      • Despite being (and speaking) French, he's quintessentially British.
        • He drinks Earl Grey Tea.
        • Also, studies Shakespeare (as previously mentioned).
        • Essentially, he's would be a classic British college professor. But he's too busy captaining a star ship and being awesome.
      • There are two "Picard maneuvers," both of which are named for this guy.
      • He has his own techno song. No, really.
        • This is the only really "geeky" thing, though. Everything else is intellectually awesome.
      • OVERALL SCORE: 7/11
      Day-Saving Ability:
      • Let's be real. Picard and his crew have probably saved every planet in the Federation at least three times. They show no signs of slowing down.
      • An expert diplomat, Picard routinely encounters Romulans, Klingons, and countless other species. And he can successfully negotiate with all of them.
      • Picard rountiely fights the Borg, the most feared creatures in all the galaxy. He always wins.
      • Picard has earned the respect of the Q, a race of omnipotent, inter-dimensional beings.
        • When the Q Continuum put the human race on trial, they choose Captain Picard to prove humanity's worth as a species. He does. Twice.
          • He even quotes Shakespeare to Q as he defends humanity.
            • What a pro.
        • During his time in Starfleet Academy, Picard gets in a knife fight and gets stabbed through the heart by some punk aliens. He gets an artificial heart, but this gets damaged during his time on the Enterprise. He "dies" as a result of the damage, and in the afterlife is allowed by Q to go back and stop himself from getting stabbed in the knife fight. He does so, but the change in the timeline results in Picard only becoming a low-level officer on the Enterprise.
          • Picard (of course) realizes that getting stabbed taught him the importance of life, and the importance of taking risks and living life to the fullest. He then tells Q to let him fix the timeline: He'd rather die the awesome risk-taker that he is than live a cautious wuss. He then fixes the timeline, gets stabbed again (and laughs as it happens!), and winds up surviving his heart damage to boot.
          • And again: what a pro.
      • OVERALL SCORE: 10/11

        Sunday, May 23, 2010

        Geek Hero #7: Spiderman

        Before he became the celebrated web-slinger, Spiderman was Peter Parker, high school science geek extraordinaire. Parker gains his powers after been bitten by a radioactive spider (during a scientific experiment, no less). Now equipped with wall-climbing abilities, super strength and agility, and home-made web launchers, Spiderman uses both his spider powers and his scientific knowledge in his fight against evil.

        Geek Cred:
        • Originally a science geek before becoming a superhero
        • Early in his career (around the age of fifteen), he creates an ultra-strong synthetic polymer with web-like properties, allowing him to swing between buildings, creates nets, etc.
          • Subsequently he designs homemade web launchers to shoot said webbing
        • Expert at one-liners
        • OVERALL SCORE: 9/11
        Day-Saving Ability:
        • Early in his career as Spiderman, he learns the hard way that "with great power comes great responsibility"
        • Routinely grapples with iconic villains, including the Green Goblin, Venom, and J. Jonah Jameson
        • Deals with superhero-scale issues, as well as normal teen life
        • Does whatever a spider can:
          • Spins a web, any size
            • Catches thieves just like flies
          • Is he strong?
            • Listen bud: he's got radioactive blood.
          • Can he swing from a thread?
            • Take a look overheard!
        • Despite this, he's still not as cool as Batman
        • OVERALL SCORE: 6/11

        Saturday, May 22, 2010

        Coming Up Next...

        For all next week, Looks Like A Tangent will be saluting some of fiction's great geek heroes. These are the folks who have both brains and brawn. They are men (and women) of science, action, and the arts.. They can diffuse a bomb before breakfast, discuss Shakespeare over lunch, spend the afternoon foiling a megalomaniac's plot for world domination, and make it to the university on time to teach their evening classes. They are bookish, scholarly, and undeniably hardcore.

        In no particular order, I'll be taking a look at seven of these great nerd heroes, rating them on a 1-11 scale on both their geek cred and their day-saving-ability.

        It should be a great week. I hope to see you all there.

        Friday, May 21, 2010

        The Dictionary, As Written By The Internet

        Fwn: verb, to call by telefwn or cellular fwn.
        Used in context: "You got fwned! Check your answering machine."
        In other news, I've been blogging continuously for over a whole week! Thus far, has there been anything you liked? Anything I should change or do differently?

        Thursday, May 20, 2010

        Bearded Business

        The Master of Beards himself.

        There are many men who think they can pull off beards. There are not many men who actually can.

        I've seen many a young man, some who haven't even graduated high school, try to wear a beard. Most of these misguided youth fail miserably. But what can be done to help guide these beard-envy stricken youngsters?

        In an effort to guide this generation of bewildered beard-bearers, I propose the creation of the Beard License. No man shall be permitted to grow a beard without a properly issued license. To get a license, potential beard growers would be required to meet several requirements:
        1. No one who looks under 21 is permitted to grow a beard. Period. An obviously high-school-age teenager simply can't pull off a beard; a vast number of baby-faced college students also cannot. If you want to have a beard, you have to look old enough. Beards convey wisdom, and wisdom comes with age. Therefore, so do beards. If you're only 20, but you look like you're old enough to graduate/get a job/command troops in the Civil War, you can grow a beard. If you're 906 years old, but look about nine, you don't get a beard. It's just that simple.
        2. Beards are inherently manly. Therefore, only exceptionally manly men can grow beards. Lumberjacks have beards; they cut down trees for a living. Vikings have beards; they wear metal hats with horns and pillage for fun. Chuck Norris has a beard; he's Chuck Norris. While you don't have to be a lumberjack or viking to grow a beard, there's definitely a standard of manliness to be upheld.
        3. In order to prove their manliness and receive their Beard License, potential beard wearers should undertake some sort of many trial by ordeal. Manliness is about walking the walk, not just talking the talk. Perhaps dig a well, cut down a forest, or command a Civil War Battalion. If anything, it's good cardiovascular exercise.
        4. Once they beard-bearer receives their license, they must keep their beard as simple as possible. This isn't to say beard-bearers should totally avoid grooming (no one likes a ridiculously long beard), but you can't get to fancy either. (That isosceles triangle isn't doing you any favors, Kenneth Branagh.)
        Beard Licenses would be awarded to those who meet these requirements, and would be presented by some sort of Manliness Council. Just who would sit on this council remains to be determined...

          Wednesday, May 19, 2010

          A Little On Iron Man

          The big guy himself. Notice the glowing arc reactor on his chest.

          Tony Stark (aka Iron Man) has an electromagnet embedded in his chest.. It keeps bits of shrapnel from reaching his heart: if the metal reaches his heart, he dies. The magnetic field prevents that from happening. Obviously, he has to wear it all the time. It's powered by phlebotinum an arc reactor.

          Tony Stark is a walking, talking magnet. Tony Stark is also the CEO of a huge company.

          Practically speaking, Tony must have a ton of trouble with paper clips. (To say nothing of metal detectors and high-end medical equipment.)

          Tuesday, May 18, 2010

          Culinary Adventures

          While I'm no cook, I do enjoy dabbling with food every so often. I'll combine a few different foods and see how they taste together. And while I shy away from extreme combination, (I'm looking at you, fish fingers and custard), my combos tend to be a bit eccentric.

          Enter this strange little fellow: the Ice Cream Cereal Cup

          Exhibit A: Ice Cream + Cereal = This Guy

          While it isn't anything revolutionary, it's certainly an entirely new ice-cream-eating experience. Making it is simple enough:
          1. Gather the following items:
            • Ice cream scooper
            • Mug/tea cup
            • Frosted Flakes cereal
            • Vanilla ice cream
          2. Pour some Frosted Flakes into the bottom of the mug/tea cup. You want a reasonably thin layer covering the bottom.
          3. Scoop out a layer of ice cream, and put it on top of the layer of cereal.
          4. Mash the heck out of both layers with the ice cream scoop. You want to crunch those Frosted Flakes to itty-bitty-bits. Crush them like it's nobody's business. Make those layers as thin as you can.
          5. Repeat steps 2-4 until you've filled the mug.
          6. Eat and enjoy. I used a spoon for this, but you can use whatever tools (or lack thereof) suit your fancy. Serves one.
          Actually eating the Ice Cream Cereal Cup is a bit surreal. The Frosted Flakes don't add a whole lot of flavor to the ice cream, but it drastically changes the consistency. Your creamy ice cream is now crunchy ice cream. Almost like melty, delicious ice-cream-crackers. It sounds (and looks) pretty strange, but it actually tastes pretty delicious. (Trust me.)

          Looks weird, tastes good.

          Anyway, if you're feeling brave (or bored), feel free to try making this. (It takes about 5-7 minutes, and clean up is a breeze.) Let me know how it turns out.

          Monday, May 17, 2010


          "What if one were to run after a ray of light? ... What if one were riding on the beam? ... If one were to run fast enough, would it no longer move at all?" - Albert Einstein

          Albert Einstein looks in the mirror. He adjusts the knot of his tie, the lapels of his jacket. He fixes his hair.

          Today is going to be a big day.

          Albert Einstein steps outside. The spotlight is immediately to his left. He flicks a switch. The spotlight comes to life, humming softly.

          The beam appears in front of him.

          Albert Einstein begins to run. He starts slowly, but then quickens. He is a blur of brown tweed, his booted though sockless feet tear into the muddy ground.

          The beam is still in front of him.

          Albert Einstein runs faster. His tie flutters in the wind. He envisions clocks. Clocks moving, clocks standing still. Clocks ticking quickly, clocks ticking slow. Time and space bend under the weight of his thoughts.

          The beam is still in front of him.

          Albert Einstein trips. He falls to the muddy ground. His feet hurt. His head hurts. Albert Einstein has a revelation.

          The beam can not be caught.

          Albert Einstein pulls himself inside. He looks in the mirror. His clothes are full of mud. His mind is full of ideas. His hair is an unruly mess.

          "Hurm," Albert Einstein ponders. "I wonder if I'll ever fix that."

          Sunday, May 16, 2010


          Dove Chocolate likes to write inspiring messages on the insides of their foil wrappers. Presumably this is to inspire you as you eat a bit of their product.

          As I was eating Dove Chocolate, I found this message.

          I am male.

          I am unsure what to think about Dove's marketing strategies.

          Saturday, May 15, 2010


          1. Learn how to ride a unicycle. I'm extremely uncoordinated, so this would be an extremely impressive feat for me. It also seems like a unicycle would be more compact than a bicycle, making it a bit more practical for travel. Imagine backpacking across Europe on a unicycle...
          2. Make a trench coat out of duct tape. I've made suits and ties before, but never anything as big as a coat. This also has the possibility of being practical. Duct tape is extremely thin, but does not breathe whatsoever. A single layer of the stuff could keep me really warm.
          3. Learn to knit. The ability to turn linear yarn into space-filling shapes seems incredibly useful.
          4. Ride a Ferris wheel. I have actually never done this. I feel like I'm missing out.
          5. Make a reservation at a restaurant under the name Jay Gatsby. For me, this would be the epitome of smooth. Bonus points if I'm wearing a white or pink suit while doing it.
          6. Build a hovercraft. There are tons of plans on the internet, as a quick Google search reveals. It looks simpler than I would assume. I just need to get some parts.
          If I actually do any of these, I'll let you know. Hopefully I'll have pictures to back it up.

          Friday, May 14, 2010

          Observations: Superhero Style

          Anything Spiderman can do, Batman can do better. This is scientific fact.

          Spiderman climbs walls and swings between buildings. Batman does the same things, without being mutated by a spider bite. Spiderman has a "spider sense" that warns him about dangerous situations. Batman navigates the same dangerous situations, without the benefit of spider-enhanced reflexes, and does just fine. He's just that good. Plus, let's be practical. What does Spiderman do when a crime occurs in a suburban area? At the very least Batman has a car.

          Also, Charlotte Bronte would love Batman. He's so dark and brooding. Just like Mr. Rochester.

          Come to think of it, Batman's extremely similar to Mr. Rochester. They're both dark, brooding, and wealthy. They both have dark secrets (Batman has a secret identity, Mr. Rochester has an insane wife in his attic). The both traveled across the world attempting to discover themselves after traumatic life incidents (Batman's parents died, and Mr. Rochester has an insane wife in his attic.)

          In summary:

          Batman: Dark, brooding, mysterious, awesome-and-doesn't-need-a-radioactive-spider-bite.
          Mr. Rochester: Dark, brooding, mysterious, has-an-insane-wife-in-his-attic.
          Spiderman: Kind of lame.

          Thursday, May 13, 2010

          The Tangental Manifesto

          A bit about me. I used to have a blog. I got busy, so it sort of died. I'm not as busy now, and I hate admitting that I've given up, so I'm going to give blogging another try. This time I shall (try to) be more dedicated. We'll see how it goes.

          A bit more about me. I like bow ties, theoretical physics, British science fiction, classic (and not-so-classic) literature, and all sorts of other things. I'm the type of guy who builds a Rube Goldberg machine, and then argues about Hamlet while it runs. The type who raps about The Great Gatsby and makes wallets, purses, and suits out of duct tape. The type who thinks way too much about basically everything.

          Suffice to say, I'm not normal. But then again, who is?

          So what is the point of this blog? That's a valid question. I'm not totally sure yet. Mostly, I think its going to be a place for my weirder thoughts (and believe me, they get weird.) It'll be an expression of my own eccentricities, a reflection of the strange things I think and do. What those strange things will be is yet to be determined. I might write about the nature of time, space, and the human mind; I also might write about the nature of bananas, curling, or rubber band balls. Essentially, this blog is a soup, but I'm not sure what's in the pot just yet.

          The blog is still cooking. Let's hope it'll be delicious.