Saturday, September 15, 2012

A call for purple society

At seeing a poster of Queen and an especially (even more than usual) ostentatious-looking Freddie Mercury plastered on my bedroom wall, a friend asked me how I could possibly be a conservative. I responded with, "I guess I'm unique."

In afterthought, I decided I should have said, "your implied association of my supposed political affiliation with my choice of an artistic display seemingly reserved for those with loose and left-leaning moral values is indicative of a sweeping socio-political trend that has changed the cultural atmosphere of this nation and has shifted us into a seemingly inescapable political paradigm of polarization and strict adherence to prearranged dogmatic platforms."

Hindsight in this case is about 20/30.

Despite what I said, should have said, will certainly only ever say in afterthought, etc., I suppose it's easy to see where my friend was coming from. After all, he's a working part of a decreasingly purple society.

We used to be a lot more purple. In 1953 for instance, we elected republican Dwight D. Eisenhower as president. Republican Dwight (shall we call him Re.D?) proceeded to endorse some very un-republican like policies, such as the expansion of social security, the increase of minimum wage, and the creation of governmental departments of Health, Education and Welfare, all things which really gave those on the far right a case of the blues. Despite such actions, he was elected, and, even as a red president showing hints of blue, re-elected for a second term.

How purple things were back then.

In November of this year, we will need to choose a president with whom we can, as a collective nation of concerned citizens, paint an improved portrait of America for future generations. However, it's difficult for the modern American to even envision an equally purple option as Eisenhower, much less see one on the ballot. Rather, we must render from a presidential palette offering but two colors in stark contrast, the reddest of red and the bluest of blue, smeared on polar opposite sides of the easel. If we choose to paint with red, options for the slightest tint of blue later on will not be available - hopefully we won't have plans for any water in our future America. If we choose blue, our options will be equally limited - we can paint the ocean or paint the sky, but impossible becomes a sunset of reds. If president Eisenhower were a legitimate third option, an additional color would be added to the middle of the easel -- purple. By choosing purple we could paint a majestic humpback whale, then separate out our reds and our blues and provide our whale with a deep blue ocean that reflects the rays of a red sunset in a cloudless sky, providing endless light for the happy citizens below riding on very American-looking jet skis.

Now that sounds like the kind of painting our next generation will want to hang on their wall, right next to their Queens and Freddie Mercurys.

Of course, I am not suggesting purple is always the right choice, but rather that with purple in the literal and figurative picture, one can take some red and take some blue as they wish, without having to commit to a single color scheme. It is important to understand that this is not a manifesto for independent voters. I am not attempting to equate my notion of purple with any political affiliation. By purple I do not mean a literal 'middle ground' between left and right, nor am I advocating against voting for anyone who does not have a 'mixed blend' of political perspectives. I only hope to shed light on the thick (and getting ever thicker) boundaries that now stand between groups of  ideologies, and the difficulty in overcoming such boundaries in order to be considered a legitimate participant along a commonly accepted ideological spectrum.

It's a sad sort of farce that one could make themselves into the most promising republican candidate for president, yet it's all for naught if they happen to simply be pro-choice. Conversely, they could be a sharp and dedicated democratic candidate, and have no chance whatsoever of winning the white house simply because they support something like tax cuts to those in the highest income bracket. One must commit fully and solitarily to a side, to a single group of ideologies, and run on them with steadfast persistence if they are to have any chance.

This all may seem hyperbolic, but it only takes imagining such a scenario in modern politics to realize how true it really is. Go ahead, try it - I dare you to come up with a reason for Mitt Romney's delegation to concede the legality of abortions, and I double dog dare you to conjure a situation wherein Barack Obama's constituency would support tax cuts to the rich. Furthermore and finally, I triple dog dare you to think of someone you know who, upon seeing this on my wall, would not assume they stood in the bedroom of a "liberal."

Truth be told, I get weary at even hearing these words anymore - liberal, conservative, democrat, republican; the original meaning behind these classifications has been contorted and they now stand as fundamentally disparate social categories, categories defined by their purely insular philosophies and those that abide by them in totality.

Furthermore, and in the spirit of color wars and other exhaustive analogical machinery, I propose we refer to our two major political parties by the animals that represent them - elephants and donkeys. Unfortunately for all the "independents" out there, the only thing in between an elephant and a donkey is an ass of some sort, depending on which animal is in front of the other. And so it is far too convenient not to repeat: although I am promoting purple, I am not condoning being an ass. Whether you agree with my political leanings or not, that is a proposition everyone can get behind, figuratively speaking.

The bedroom comment that incited this commentary is seemingly petty, but it is simultaneously a prime example of anti-purple thinking. What was assumed about my political alignment was juxtaposed with something as trivial as a poster of a 70's rock band. Right then and there, I fell into a strange category far and away from red elephants, blue donkeys, or asses of any color, one separate from all the preconceived notions present on either side of any modern debate. That is what sparked my friend's question, and that, along with the shifting dynamic of modern politics towards stringent categorization and staunch polarity, bears meaning to the notion of purple - I suppose I owe my friend a thank you.

We should look back to the years of the Eisenhower presidency to re-appreciate the independency of thought, the tolerance of mixed ideologies, and the value of thinking purple.

Monday, August 27, 2012

An attempt at something

A month devoid of any substantial writing ideas whatsoever has resulted in a month of blog emptiness.

I don't presume that I have run out of topics. No, that shouldn't happen - the world is full of humor.

However, what I may have realized is that in addition to writing about nothing I occasionally long to write about something. As I start this post, that something still eludes me. Nonetheless I will continue to type words in neat succession until something (the generic and the particular) comes out, because blog emptiness is sad.

Growing up in grade school, we were all taught to formulate ideas before starting to write. Outlines, concept maps, and bubble diagrams were all promoted. Here, I compose in utter revolt of such stratagem. Not only have I not outlined, but I also do not have the slightest topic in mind. I feel rebellious, almost insubordinate.

To be clear, it's not as if anything I have posted previously has been the result of careful preparation, but it is especially ironic here as I attempt to relay the sort of 'substance' that is said to require structured planning.

But what if this so called 'substance' never actually makes its way onto the screen? What if I just continue to string together coherent sentences until I have a product that seems lengthy enough to be considered legitimate? Does that require preparation? Or is this drivel itself the direct result of a lack of planning, formulating, thinking?

Where's my 4th grade English teacher when I need her... 
Of course, the great irony of this increasingly inexplicable commentary is that it was meant to be about something, and has instead turned into more nothing-ness than anything else I have written. But I wonder, can the nothing-ness shine through as, something? I know, now I'm just being deliberately facetious.

I'm trying so hard to find something.

I guess I'd better go back to writing about socks and airplane peanuts.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

If I were on "Jersey Shore"

I'll admit it right here for the first time: I have watched a full episode of MTV's "Jersey Shore."

It was a blustery spring night, the year 2011. I was at home, alone, near midnight. The glow of the television in pitch blackness was the only source of radiance save for flashes of lightning that ruthlessly pierced the darkness and illuminated the bed sheets shamefully veiling my self-conscious bones. All light slowly drained from my soul as an emblem of the wrought betrayal of a once resolute television fortitude. Outside my bedroom window the heavens wept in a continuous torrent that formed a wall separating me from all other existence.  Crashes of thunder resonated through the walls, seeming to penetrate into the deepest chasms of my morality.

On the screen, 8 pretentious morons trampled all over the unfortunate shores of New Jersey with the collective grace of a mentally handicapped orangutan. One of them insists that his abdominal muscles represent a "situation," and he does not hesitate to expose said "situation" in a bout of voyeurism to any passerby that has female reproductive organs. Another goes by "Snooki," a name which I still insist should have a "the" in front of it, because her physical appearance is akin to that of something called The Snooki Monster. Another character is named Ronnie, which is close enough to "Roidy," which I don't believe to be a coincidence (the steroids probably give him hemorrhoids, so it works on two different levels). Then there's "JWoww," I'm guessing because one can't even finish her full name without being "woww-ed" at her giant, artificial, bosoms. According to the opening credits, this character tends to "rip mens' heads off" after she sleeps with them. I still cannot understand why she would want to advertise this - quite the red flag. The other characters seemed normal enough at the start, besides Pauly D's ugly hairdo. I very quickly discovered, however, how wrong I was.

As I lie there, in the most utter disgust of my current choice of television programming, I imagined what it would be like to interact with these people. I imagined what it would be like if I was in the Jersey Shore house....

(This screen is getting wavy. A harp plays. These words are gone, and now, you see me, in a sleeveless t-shirt and swimming suit, sitting in a chair in the Jersey Shore house living room. The rest of the cast are randomly assorted around the house. "The situation" walks in)

Situation: "What's good bro?"
Me: "Uhh, lots of things. This house is pretty good, the beach is good, great, actually."
Situation: "Huh?"
Me: "What?"
Situation: "Bro, you really gotta hit up GTL with MVP, you're white and scrawny as hell bro." (shows me his abs).
Me: "What's GTL? And who is MVP?"
Situation: "Bra, GTL. Gym, tan, LAAAUNDRYYYYY! With me and my BOYS, Vinny and Pauly. MIKE. VINNY. PAULY. M...V...P!"
Me: "Could you not refer to me as a brassiere? Also why are you yelling?"
Situation: "What bro, you wanna go?"
Me: "Uh, no, just wondering why you're yelling."
Situation: "COME AT ME BRO!" (stands right in front of me, and at my lack of responsiveness, shows me his abs).

(Ronnie walks in)

Ronnie: Guys, break it up! STOP FIGHTING!
Me: "I'm not fighting, I'm sitting in this chair."
Ronnie: "STOP IT! LET me handle it, OK?? Situation, why you always gotta be stirring up drama bro?"

(Situation and Ronny start fist fighting, as I watch from the chair. Camera goes from the fight, to the chair. Fight, chair. Fight, me in the chair. Fight, chair)

(Pauly D and Vinny come in)

Pauly: "What's good bro?"
Me: "Uhh...the house? The beach?
Pauly: "What?"
Me: "Huh?"
Pauly: "You comin' out with us tonight bro? Me and my BOY Vinny are gonna pick up some hot CHICKS."
Vinny: "We're gonna get it innnn, bro!"
Me: "Get what in?"
Vinny: "Get it in, bro, smush.
Me: Get what in? Smush who? Huh?"
Pauly: "Bang chicks man, bang chicks."
Me: "Ohh, I see. Bang chicks. For a minute there I thought you meant Ronnie was gonna smush some girl because he's so big and muscly. He he he he."
Ronnie: "I heard that bro, YOU WANNA GO??"
Me: "Just joking man."
Ronnie: "That's ****ing right you're joking!"
Me: "Yeah...I am."
Ronnie: "That's RIGHT!"

(Snooki waddles in)

Snooki: "What is all this yelliiiiiinguhhhhhhhh? RAAAWHHHRURRRUHH!!"
Situation: "It's chill Snooki, the new bro is causing drama."
Me: "I'm just sitting in my chair."
Situation: "Stop talking sh** bro!" (shows me his abs).
Me: "I think I'm gonna go to the beach..."
Ronnie: "Why don't you wanna be part of the group bro? Why you gotta be separated man? We're a FAMILY here bro."
Me: "Because you guys are insane."

(At that, JWoww comes in, smacks me in the head with a bosom full of silicon, and I fall to the floor unconscious)

I figure that is pretty much how it might go. Personally I think it would make for quality TV, but I don't think the producers would be keen to add a scrawny white guy from Colorado to the mix.

That would add a level of normality that is just unacceptable for the viewers of "Jersey Shore." 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Duvet-induced double nighttime showers

I'm writing this in a state of clammy dismay.

Why clammy?

Because I just spent 30 minutes crawling around the inside of a duvet cover.

Why dismay?

Because spending 30 minutes crawling around the inside of a duvet cover is dismaying. Also, because I was reminded by these activities that I own and utilize a duvet cover.

I'm rather embarrassed about it, actually. Single men in their 20's should not be sleeping underneath anything that contains a silent "t." I think my mother bought it for me years ago. I thought you wanted me to stay a child forever, mom.

Returning a down comforter to its duvet cover should not be a one man (or woman) job. While trying to justify my world record longest time of 30 minutes might be futile, I bet I'd be hard pressed to find someone who can do it in under 10. To this day I still have not developed a good strategy. I must physically venture into the muggy darkness of the duvet cover, where my blind attempts at filling in all the spaces with down leave me lost, scared, and confused.

...and a sweaty mess. All because I decided to wash my sheets - what a silly decision that was. I may never do it again.

While that last statement is of course a joke, it is at the same time deadly serious. 

Here's why. 

I'm a night shower-er. I've always been a night shower-er, and it's only kind of shower-er I will ever be. Day shower-ers have to deal with the distressing shock that comes with being struck by water while still in early-morning zombie sate. They also have to get up earlier in the morning. While they shower, I sleep. 

As a night-shower-er, I rarely ever crawl into bed without having been thoroughly bathed 2 hours prior at most. This being the case, I submit my sheets can never get dirty. Every night they receive a freshly lathered, squeaky clean specimen. My bed-wetting days are long gone, and any oils/greases that exit my pores during the night are freshly produced, clean oils/greases, because the old, dirty oils/greases have just been lathered away. In summary, I believe this is justification for never washing my sheets, ever. 

I know what you're thinking - "no wonder he's single." Perhaps, but at least I get another hour of sleep while the day shower-ers are scrubbing away just to go out into the filthy world once again. 

I just got way off topic. This was supposed to be about duvet covers.

Oh well, let's embrace the tangent.

Now that today's installment of duvet cover madness is all over, I suppose the only reason I'm still fairly flustered is that, because of the sweaty activities I just detailed, I have to take another shower - my second shower of the day (night).

Along with being a night-shower-er, I'm also a one shower a day...-er. I HATE taking two showers for several reasons.

For one, two showers a day means the use of two clean pairs of underwear a day. This means halving the time between two consecutive laundry days, which is a major problem. 

Additionally, two showers a day means I use twice as much shampoo, which doubles the frequency of having to buy more. Is there anything more daunting than making a decision in the shampoo aisle? The temptation to try a new brand is often overwhelming, but if you make a mistake, you're screwed every single day (in this case twice a day) for however many days that bottle lasts. 

Also, how exactly does one know what "type" of hair one has?

Dry? Well yeah, as long as I'm not in the shower... 
Oily? Depends on how long it's been since I've showered... 
Coarse? If I feel each hair individually, yeah... 
Soft? I've never felt someone's head and thought they had hard hair...
Damaged? Is that after a haircut...?  
Thick or thin? How is that even measured? Is it by ease of movement of one's hand through one's hair? If so, wouldn't curly always be thick and straight always be thin...? 
Normal? What does normal hair mean?? Is normal the absence of all the above? Presence of all the above...? 

To me it seems my hair is all these things depending on the conditions. 

Buying shampoo just sucks, and I would like to avoid it for as long as humanly possible, which means one shower a day, at most.

I have one more shower comment:

Does anyone else think exercising in the shower is a great idea? You're naked, constantly being sprayed with water, and immediately after you're done you can take a shower! It would save people so much time. This idea is still in preliminary stages, but I think someday I might try to invent one of those all-in-one workout machines designed for the shower.

That's all.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Because no one has ever done airport humor, part II

I am very disappointed with Southwest Airlines. They've implemented a new seating system which is really pretty awful, and I would like to discuss it here in hopes that someone less lazy than me starts a petition. 

For those who don't know, the super hip new idea is to get rid of seating assignments, and instead assign each passenger a boarding "zone," and once your zone is called you can embark and sit wherever you want on the plane. Wherever you want?! That sounds GREAT! Imagine the possibilities! On the surface yes, but when you get down to it, all the possibilities provide problems... 

In such close quarters, you can't help but care deeply about what the people you are going to be sandwiched between for a matter of hours look like. This causes a shift from racial profiling at security to facial profiling on the plane. 

You find yourself slowly wandering down the aisle, no particular destination in mind, looking left then right, scanning faces, as if you're trying to spot a suitable life partner. You want to sit by people who look friendly and happy (but not so much so they are going to talk to you - I hate airplane small talk, I just want to sleep), not irritated and mean - no one likes that energy on a plane. You need to avoid people who look like potential armrest hogs, window hogs, sweaty hogs, snorers, vomiters, loud eaters, open sneezers, short short-wearers, frequent pee-ers, tomato juice drinkers, smelly farters and heavy perspire-ers. All of this makes you feel like a bad person because you're judging people by how they look, but you were forced into it by Southwest and their need to be different.  

What if the only two seat options left are next to a fat guy or next to a skinny guy? Now you feel like a jerk for picking the skinny guy and reminding the fat guy that he's fat and no one wants to sit with him! And what if the seat you want is right next to an attractive member of the opposite sex? Then, if you sit there, you're labelled by them and everyone else as one who shamelessly hits on complete strangers at any and every opportunity. You don't want this label (even if it is an accurate one) so you are forced to choose another seat just because this person got assigned a higher boarding zone than you and happens to be attractive. How did Southwest not think of these potential issues before implementing this disaster? Just put me in a seat! If I don't like it I'll just have to deal, rather than sit for 4 hours in deep regret of my decision to park myself next to the guy who settles on clipping his fingernails all over my tray table as an appropriate airplane activity (seriously, it happened to me, and one clipping flew into my ginger ale).

Don't go book your flight on Southwest thinking it all only starts at boarding. Oh no, it begins at the gate where you are forced to line up like prisoners by boarding zone and by number within said boarding zone, and you must do so according to a series of very confusing numbered columns and partitioning TV screens. You are not aware of other passengers' boarding zone numbers and so if you want to line up numerically according to Southwest seating policy, you must creepily peak at your fellow zone patron's boarding passes, or ask them what their numbers are, to which they look at you like you're a nutcase, to which you realize you are a nutcase for asking, which leads you to believe Southwest views all their customers as nutcases.

If you want to write the petition, feel free to use any of the above material.

And what's the deal with window people? Why on EARTH would you ever want the window seat if you are over the age of 12? Have you ever had the window seat and had to pee? Do you not feel any remorse at all for making two separate people have to close their book, take off their headphones, unbuckle their seat belt, lift their drink, put their book, headphones and drink in their lap, lift their tray table, partly stand up, balance their items on their seat, fully stand up, and step out into the aisle? By the time they repeat all the above steps in reverse order to sit back down, you're back from your precious pee and they have to do it all over again. And what if they're sleeping? Is there anything more awkward than waking up a stranger? I think every seat on an airplane should also be a toilet, so that window people can sit at their little window and not be a nuisance.  

Window people...

It's not like you can see anything out there for 95% of the flight anyway. The only advantage I can think of is that you can lean on the window. I suppose that's something.

I'm an aisle kind of guy myself. I like to lean heavily on my own personal outside armrest (all others are fought over viciously), and stretch my legs out. That's right, I'm one of those guys who leans into the aisle. Flight attendants hate me, but it's ok because it's their job to pretend that they like me anyways, and I'm very easily convinced by fake nice attitudes. Also, I've mastered the art of sleeping but still being fully aware when the drink cart is coming. I've had far too many bruised shoulders and run-over toes to ever be 100% unconscious on a plane.

That's all I have on air travel for now. 

Does anyone else get the feeling my blog should really be called, "First World Problems?"

Monday, July 9, 2012

Because no one has ever done airport humor, part I

My uncle embarrassed himself in drastic fashion by beginning to de-pants in front of hundreds of queued air travelers at airport security. The bad news (from a comedy standpoint) is that his wife was there to stop him before he unknowingly exhibited full consent to strip search. The good news is he's not alone.

Eventually, everyone who flies will do something stupid at airport security, and, eventually, everyone will scoff at someone else and think, "I would never do anything that stupid at airport security." In the aforementioned case, my uncle's instinct kicked in, instinct that has been honed through decades of taking off his own garments and that dictates step two after removal of the belt is removal of the pants. Apparently this instinct takes effect regardless of current location, but you can't really blame a guy for being that ultra-habituated to airport lines. Such pardon can't be afforded to certain others.

Can we start with the TSA haters? Listen, I know personal privacy is a hot button issue these days, but an even bigger issue is me plummeting to earth in a metal fireball after a crazy person gets through security with an explosive strapped too close to his ding-dong for a TSA agent to detect it by pat down. I say pat down more ding-dongs. To make it easier on discomfited patrons, the TSA's new slogan can be: "It's more embarrassing for us than it is for you!" And you know what? I'll take my .000000001% higher chance of getting cancer in the new millimeter wave scanners if it they provide me even 1% more peace of mind that my transatlantic trip from A to B does not involve crashing into the C. 

Of course the TSA isn't perfect, but what better way is there to run security? Should we start flat-out profiling people like they do in the middle east? Israel's form of airport security entails a large Israeli soldier staring at you as you stand in line, and he is trained to detect that single drip of nervous sweat that falls down your face, and if that face happens to be Arab, you get questioned. I'm sure all the people that think pat downs are a huge inconvenience would love that treatment!

On a lighter note, there's nothing I quite enjoy more than waiting my turn at security, and watching the woman in front of me with 18 rings, 6 bracelets, 62 earrings, and a metal-studded belt try and get through the metal detector:


               TSA agent: "Mam, please remove your jewelry."
               Woman: "My rings too?"
               TSA agent: "All jewelry mam."


               TSA agent: "Mam, did you remove all your jewelry?"
               Woman: "Even my bracelets?"
               TSA agent: "Are they metal?"
               Woman: "Yes."
               TSA agent: "All jewelry please."


              TSA agent: "Mam, do you have anything in your pockets?"
              Woman: "Just a few quarters! This is an intrusion of my privacy!"
              TSA agent: "Please take everything out of your pockets."


              TSA agent: "Mam, your toe ring..."

It goes on and on like this until the agent is forced to perform a thorough pat down, during which he fills half a dozen bowls with various metal objects, which the woman ironically forgets to reclaim as she storms off to her flight in complete and utter disgust.

Speaking of complete and utter disgust, I am now going to employ one of those really annoying "to be continued" tricks, because otherwise this would be way too long and frankly who wants to read long blog posts?

Stay tuned for part II.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Ballad of Costa Rica

There are certain families of five
who doubtlessly never should drive
through a far foreign land filled with jungles and sand
luck be to make it alive

Replace coffee machines with rice and beans
roads with potholes and dirt
sun is expected but still not respected
prepare pale skin to be burnt

Here there are creatures unseen in the states
big scary lizards and venomous snakes
Curious crabs will crawl on your hand
but worst of all in this dangerous land...

Coca Cola is not
the only form of bubbling crapola

Laughter ensues and an ego is bruised
while samples of 'selfies' are being perused
Life on vacation is after all simple
joy can be felt from a single pimple

Big ocean waves are a stressed father's foe as he sits alone in worry
all the while angry fists rain down on his bathroom door with fury

Fathers are worried while sisters are hurried
for dinner downstairs awaits
but still they are primping not thinking of skimping
they'll never leave hairdos to fate

Fathers are worried while sisters are hurried
while mothers scurry about
collecting those things other families don't bring
this mom leaves nothing in doubt

Fathers are worried while sisters are hurried
while mothers scurry about
but brothers and sons just want to have fun
so they take a different route:

Don't worry it's fine
Don't hurry there's time
Don't scurry to rhyme
even when one is available

Monday, June 18, 2012

A tipping point

I was at a fancy restaurant the other night, and it got me thinking about tipping (because, why wouldn't it?).

I don't at all understand some of the concepts behind tipping. Particularly, I don't see why tip amount is based on price of the bill. It's not as if service gets better as the food does. The following example illustrates my point: if Sally orders a $7.00 burger and tips 20%, and Tom orders a $25.00 filet mignon at the same restaurant, also tipping 20%, Tom will tip the server $3.60 more than Sally for the exact same amount of food. Yes, Tom's meal was of greater quality, but it's not any more work for the server to bring him his plate. The server doesn't deserve more from Tom, and it's unfair that society would berate him for not tipping more than Sally for identical service.

If it was commonplace to tip chefs, then this would all make sense. Better food often equals better culinary abilities, so a chef at a nice restaurant would probably deserve more. But, we don't tip chefs, we tip servers. And it's madness.

My only hypothesis is very elementary, and it's that a more expensive bill might mean more items served, which means more work for the server. But this hypothesis only holds weight if all items on a menu are the same price. What kind of bizarro world would that be?

Someone really screwed up with this concept.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Disney delusion

Watching Disney movies was a hallmark of most childhoods that took place after the advent of the VHS tape. As impressionable young tykes, we soaked up all of the delicious morality and life lessons Mr. Disney threw our way, and now, as adults, we subconsciously use them to guide our own lives.

Maybe that's why the world is such a crappy place.

Thinking back to the magic of Walt Disney, I notice some not so magical things about many of the characters he creates and the messages they convey in their animated worlds.

Let's have a look, shall we?

Firstly, Sleeping Beauty (and Snow White. Could they really not think of two different plots for these chicks? Both princesses, both put into deep sleep by witches, both awoken by the kiss of a prince - come on, Disney.). This beautiful princess taught us guys that it's OK to do sensual things to a girl while she's sleeping. Let me tell you something Sleeping Beauty, if I were to kiss a girl I thought was pretty while she was asleep, and she wasn't my girlfriend or wife, I would end up in jail. Times have changed since the 16th century, yeah? If that movie were made today, the plot would be different. It would be called "Blackout Beauty," and it would take place at a frat house. A tempting but potent cocktail (perhaps an Apple Martini?) administered by a fraternity brother with ill-intent puts Blackout Beauty into a deep stupor. Unlike the real movie, she is not pleased with the man who awakens her, nor with how he does it.

Also, Snow White makes children weary of apples. Parents have enough trouble trying to get their kids to eat fruit, we don't need your help Walt.

Moving on to good ol' Cinderella. This story is not only full of misleading messages, but it's rife with inaccuracies. Let's start with the really irritating one; I'm sorry, but glass slippers?? I don't care if they were made by a fairy godmother, those things would break immediately. That actually would have made a far more entertaining plot - Cinderella breaks a slipper on her first step out the door, then out of anger she uses the ragged edges to cut her jeering step-sisters. Hey, if we're gonna teach kids bad lessons we might as well teach them to take matters into their own hands instead of mope around all day sulking about their unfortunate circumstances. I mean really, who doesn't have to deal with obnoxious family members? So your step-sisters are giving you a hard time. So you have an annoying cat. So you have to do janitorial work. Welcome to the real world Cindy, learn to cope.

And what sort of forensic techniques are being put to use in this movie? After the ball, Prince Charming wants to find out who the forgotten glass slipper belongs to so he...goes door to door accosting womens' feet?! Is that really logical step #1? And why does he even have to bother putting the slipper on everyone?? Shouldn't he remember the face of the woman with whom he just danced the night away and fell in love with?! Objectifying women!! And why is the slipper even still in existence?? The rest of Cindy's outfit disappeared at midnight vis-à-vis the fairy godmother's spell, which is why Cindy had to run home in the first place! It makes NO sense that one slipper survives!! Too convenient Mr. Disney. Too convenient and too easy.

Whew, I got a little worked up there. I get upset when fairy tales aren't realistic.

Then there's Beauty and the Beast. I'll give Mr. Disney some credit; the "don't judge a book by its cover" lesson is a good one for children to learn. Unfortunately, it backfired big time. The movie ended up teaching us that if you're ugly you can still get the long as you live in a luxurious mansion nestled deep in a peaceful forest, complete with rose petal-covered beds and talking chinaware that sets itself. And you can see how this has been translated today - how many old, wrinkly, ugly, but rich men do you see running around with gorgeous women? A lot. Thanks for that Belle, you gold digger.

And what is with the ending to this movie? The beast turns back into a handsome man? Really?? So girls, basically, if you pretend to love an ugly guy for what he is on the inside, just for awhile, you'll end up with a hot one in the end anyway. Again, thanks Belle.

So many other Disney movies, so many delusions, so little time. I'll save some more for another rant.

I'll leave you with a nice little surprise the animators of Little Mermaid left for us. Pay attention to the priest's crotchal region.  Do not tell me these people were in it for the kids. If you're interested, here are some more such "subliminal messages" found in Disney movies.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

This is sick

I'm stuck at home today because I'm sick. (I hope you just enjoyed my most personal statement ever in this blog). That being the case, I'm bored. When I'm bored, I think. When I think, it's usually about something ridiculous. And when it's about something ridiculous, I put it in my blog - the process of a genius.

I am currently deep in thought about my habit of personifying inanimate objects. It's something I do a lot, and in the spirit of being sick and bored, it's something I'm going to do a lot right now.

Whenever I'm sick I imagine what is going on inside my body. As a graduate student in Biology with a particular emphasis in Immunology (it must be the sickness that is making me divulge all this personal information), I have a fair idea of what's actually happening. However, I can't help but apply an element of imagination like I did when I was 12. It's much more entertaining that way. In the case of my current cold, I'm picturing a battlefield.......

Day 1 - breach
Head-quarters receives reports of a breach. Information from the field indicates heavy enemy artillery, and activation of major pain sensors in the throat. Initial units of immunity at Operating Bases Mouth and Nostril have been defeated. Numerous surface salivary divisions reporting casualties.    
Day 2 - proliferation
Full-on assault confirmed. Enemy identified: the Germ-ans. Abundance of infected cells in the throat which looks to be the main target. Specialty forces are deployed. Attack must be contained.
Day 3 - spread
Containment failed. Enemy forces have advanced north from initial point of attack. Mass mucosal response causes congestion in nasal pathways. Allied soldiers from 102nd Sudafed divisions are recruited, while Nyquil special forces conduct stealth ops during the night. Major battles now rage in throat and nose.
Day 4 - strategy  
Nasal passages are now main battleground. Airways are completely locked down - nothing in or out. Forces in northern chest await briefing on possible coughing maneuvers to keep the enemy away from important GI targets.
Day 5 - resistance
Coughing strategy confirmed, as mucosal divisions are forced down into northern chest. The germ-ans have almost completely shifted their attack to regions north and south of the throat. The voice of the commander is growing faint, as every available immune unit is recruited to defeat the invaders.
Day 6 - decline 
Battles rage on, and the tide begins to shift. Mucosal forces triumphantly retreat from nasal passages, allowing a return to normal airflow. The commander is completely silent through the day, as such violent battle takes its toll. Remaining germ-ans are easily expelled by coughing maneuvers, and damage to the throat is repaired by external tea-aid.
Day 7 - recovery
All signs indicate victory, but regiments in the nose continue training maneuvers for the whole day. Coughing persists to ensure the removal of remnant invaders.
We have once again defeated the germ-ans.
The following battles are said to have been the turning points of the war:
 Battle of the Bulge-ing Uvula
 The Boogie Offensive
 Battle of Hack-in-away
Is this borderline delirium?

Boy do I hope I get better soon.....

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Guest Post

I am proud to say that I have received my first request for a guest post on my blog.

He came to me looking for a platform on which he could speak his mind, and not be judged. At first I told him this blog is not meant for that. But then I started thinking... I suppose I do use this blog as a place to speak my mind. It's just that my mind doesn't really contain thoughts that can be interpreted past their surface meaning; you say lack of intelligence, I say the uncanny ability to simplify for universal understanding. I also don't mind being judged, in fact I prefer it, because judgments are what strangers of the internet can use to build up an image of who they think I am (how's that for farcical).

So, after some deliberation, I decided to let him write here. This might be "my" most serious post yet, so buckle up.


I'll start off by saying thanks to Jeremy for letting me write here. I've known him for a long time now, almost 8 years. He has always been understanding of my need to communicate and my inability to do so in other forms. Sometimes it's as if I'm speaking a different language...Anyways, thanks, Jeremy.

I'll try to keep this short, because I'm sure no one wants to hear me howl on and on about my life. This is just a glimpse.

For as long as I can remember, I've been held back. Inside my own home, I am not free to express myself. When we have guests over, my attempts at socializing are curbedWhen the doorbell rings, I yell with excitement, "the guests are here!" but I am told to shut up. I get scolded when I attempt to greet the guests or even when I eat the food. I just want to be a part of the occasion. Even when I am able to get outside for a walk, into the expanse and freedom of the great outdoors, something restricts my free will, restrains me, as if I am tightly tethered around the neck. For example, I love animals. When I'm out walking, all I want to do is interact with them, maybe coax a squirrel down from the branches. Apparently I'm barking up the wrong tree, as this desire is held at bay by that ever-restricting tether. Sometimes it's as if I'm choking...

I'm even repressed sexually. Despite an unfortunate procedure in my youth, I have urges like anyone else. Why must I be yanked back? It's unfortunate that I have come to the point where I have to sniff out inanimate objects on which to carry out my sexual impulses.

I have a bone to pick, I'll be right back.                        

Ok, I'm back. 

I don't mean to sound desperate here. I have learned to appreciate life even when it is ruff. As I get older, lounging around the house for most of the day, taking frequent naps in the sun, becomes more enjoyable. One of the others I live with often has me fetch a ball to play with, but it gets tiring as I have never had the hands to catch or return his tosses. Yet, I find myself mesmerized by the ball, and I play this game, with no paws, beyond the point of exhaustion.

This was just a snapshot of what it is to live my life. I don't want to ruin the image of this blog that Jeremy has worked so hard to cultivate. By the way, great job Jeremy, it definitely earns my stamp of approval:
Don't be depressed after reading this, just appreciate your free will, and don't take it for granted. Some of us live life on a leash.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Some fountains aren't for drinking

The drinking fountain is the only water-bearing fountain specifically constructed to allow for human consumption. It is also the most poorly engineered fountain in existence.

This is my testimony:

The majority of drinking fountains are incorrectly pressurized. Shouldn't that be one of the major checkpoints on the factory worker's list? Low water pressure is perhaps most common. There is something immensely frustrating about being very thirsty but not being able to take in the desired volume per gulp. It reminds me of a particular moment from my childhood, of enthusiastically puncturing a Capri Sun with a tiny yellow straw, only to be thwarted by immense sucking but maddeningly tiny squirts of liquid. A face-full of Pacific Cooler caused by rage-driven pouch squeezing is a landmark moment of my youth. Besides all that, there is often barely enough pressure to even force the water into a drinkable arch. This requires one to get dangerously close to the spout (the second any part of that thing touches your face it's game over), as well as to make a face similar to that of someone attempting to kiss a duck.

Over-pressurized fountains cause a very different problem. Again, I'm reminded of my childhood, this time of playing with the backyard hose and its various attachments. I loved to spray things (anything, including neighboring cats or any unsuspecting siblings), but I could never quite figure out the attachment with the stream-type feature. I still don't understand why "mist" was even an option. What good is "mist" when you are trying to spray a flock of geese flying 50 feet overhead? Anyways, I am pretty sure the drinking fountain factory workers also have not mastered this skill, and have put some fountains on the "mist" setting permanently. They should be on "streamline." If I wanted a face wash, I'd do so in the sink.

You never know what you're going to get when you bend over to indulge in an unfamiliar drinking fountain. If and when you happen upon unfortunate water pressure, you will most likely either get squirted in the face or make the ducky drinking face at an inappropriate height. If you are experienced, you know to push the button first, assess the situation, then go in for a drink.

Even then, the temperature of the water cannot be predicted until it's too late to turn back. There's something about warm water from a drinking fountain that is much more revolting than warm water from a cup. I can't help but imagine it's the splash-back from the last person that has somehow fallen back into the spout.

I also have qualms with the way some drinking fountains are installed. I understand that children get thirsty, but they need to learn they can't always have everything they want. That was a joke (kind of), but it is based on something serious - is it really necessary to install drinking fountains 4 feet up from the ground? I don't think I've ever seen these being used, by adults or children. In fact, I remember one instance of a parent actually lifting their kid up to drink from the higher one - what a waste.

I also don't understand why drinking fountains are often installed what seems like inches apart from each other. What is the purpose of this? Why not have a little buffer zone? I feel like I'm at a watering hole in a drought-stricken Savannah, being forced to drink dangerously close to animals of other species, perhaps even predators who want to eat me. Ok that one's a little weird, but I think I've made my point.

You may think spending so much effort analyzing the engineering flaws of drinking fountains is a waste of time. It is. However, by doing so, I have managed to learn how to pick out fountains to avoid just by looking at them. How about that for a skill. Today is your lucky day, because I am going to share a couple of the warning signs.

Firstly, button placement. Any fountain that's button is located directly on top of its spout is questionable. These are the fountains that look as if they were constructed and installed in 1963, and they usually have disastrously low water pressure and lukewarm water at best. I can only assume they are filled with mold. Avoid them. Opt for fountains with buttons on the front or sides.

Also, a loud fountain is usually a good fountain. The decibel level of a fountain is negatively correlated with its water temperature. This is science. A fountain that seems to be churning, even rumbling, will provide fresh, ice cold product, usually at a manageable water pressure. I can't explain it, I'm not an engineer. All I know is, find a good fountain by following the noise. 

Following these two rules, but mainly paying attention to each drinking experience, will lend you the skills necessary to avoid the many flaws of drinking fountains.

"The more satisfying your public drinking life, the better life is in general."
                   -Anonymous blogger   

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Bookmark this post

Let's say you work in a library. You're not a librarian, though. Your entire job is to read - all day, every day.

Like many other jobs, you work Monday through Friday, 9-5, and have an hour for lunch each day.

Soon, you will become very good at reading. You will be able to do so at a 800 word-per-minute rate (considered significantly above average for literate adults). At that rate, and assuming the average book contains 64,000 words (according to Amazon's text stats feature), it would take you 80 minutes to finish one book. That means, in a 7 hour day, you could read approximately 5 and 1/4 books. Not too shabby. If this is your job for your entire adult life, let's say age 18 to 80 (death is really the only excuse to retire when your job is to read), you can accomplish a staggering 84,630 books (and half of one more - shame you die before finishing, but so goes the math) in your lifetime. You would be the definition of "book smart." Right?

The Library of Congress in Washington D.C. (and Virginia - it's so big it needs two states) is the biggest library in the world. It has 34.5 million cataloged books. So, if you were a stellar employee there, reading every minute of every 7 hour weekday of your life, never getting on Facebook or writing in your blog about books, you would get through 84,630/34,500,000 - 1/408th - 0.2% - of all the books in the library. You would absorb 0.2% of the available knowledge after a lifelong career. Talk about disappointing.

Let's consider a more unrealistic scenario - ok an impossible scenario - just for the sake of my argument (which I'll get to eventually, I promise). If you read for every second of every day of your entire life, from birth to death, at 800 WPM and at 64,000 words per book, you could get through about 525,949 books in your lifetime. As an employee at the Library of Congress, your career looks only slightly better, at a meager 1.5% of all books completed - no Pulitzer Prize-worthy feat. It would take 66 lifetimes of non-stop reading to complete the entire collection at this one library.

OK, I know you've been waiting. Argument time. Ready?

Libraries are awesome.

I know, groundbreaking. But really...


Prague, Czech Republic

Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Stockholm, Sweden

New Haven, CT

Ottawa, Ontario

Mexico City, Mexico

Toronto, Ontario

Some of the 838 miles of shelving at the Library of Congress. I guess you need that much when you're housing 151.8 million items.

There are just so many books out there! Have you ever wandered through a library and just browsed? I swear, there's a book for EVERY topic. Every topic you can think of, someone has written about it. And I wonder, if you pick a book at random, how many people have actually read it, cover to cover? There have to be some published books that have NEVER been read cover to cover! The author of said book slaved away for months, even years, writing, just to have it sit on a library shelf somewhere and collect dust. Sucks for the author, but pretty cool to think about.

Maybe you don't think all this is so amusing, but that's fine. This is about my child-like fascination with simple things. It makes life fun, you should try it.

It's cool to me that, in a society that has shifted so drastically away from books, and towards electronic media, we still have libraries. And people still go there. However, if I ever see someone reading from their Kindle in a library I might freak out.

Ironically enough, I'm writing this at a library. I came here to grade exams. I thought the library would be a place conducive to grading exams, but it turns out to be conducive to writing about libraries. Figures.

There's even cool libraries in Utah! Yes I spend time here, and yes I walk around creepily snapping pictures on my phone. This corridor alone would take you 67 years to read. I did the math. Just kidding. But I've gotta be close.

 This is where I'm sitting, right now. How could you sit here and not write about books. Sometimes I try to take artistic photos. Believe me, this is one of my better ones.