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

Sounds

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.)

GHOST OF HAMLET'S DEAD FATHER
Your uncle killed me! Get revenge!

HAMLET
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.)

HAMLET
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.)

HAMLET
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.)

CLAUDIUS
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.)

HAMLET
I die, Horatio!

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

FORTINBRAS
Yeah, Norway!

(There is an awkward pause.)

FORTINBRAS
...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

Miracles

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

Waiting

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

Cuteness

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

Deadlines

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

    Ordinariness

    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

    Pendulums!

    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.
    PRACTICALITY - LOW
    NECESSITY - NONE
    CONSEQUENCES - NEXT-DAY EXCITEMENT ABOUT YOUR BOOK'S RESOLUTION
    WORTH IT? - ALWAYS
    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.
    PRACTICALITY - STILL PRETTY LOW, BUT HIGHER THAN CASE ONE
    NECESSITY - HIGH
    CONSEQUENCES - NEXT-DAY FATIGUE, POSSIBLE MASTERY OF BOOK'S MATERIAL (THOUGH USUALLY NOT)
    WORTH IT? - USUALLY NOT
    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

    Housecleaning

    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

    Rushing

    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

    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

    Freestyle

    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

    Forever

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

    Just something to consider when wishing for immortality.