Sincere Question

There are some things in life that I don’t understand, such as why the following foods exist:

Pre-packaged sandwiches

Green-apple flavored anything (except actual green apples)

Pasta salad (but I love actual pasta)

Butter cookies in a tin

I honestly want to know if you know anybody who likes any of these things (I’m guessing green apple has some fans).

Pointless Experiment

Don’t yawn. Seriously.

Okay, after you read that, did you have an irresistible urge to yawn? I certainly did after writing it.

Sign of the Times




















This little beauty has been appearing around the office today.

You Are Utterly Average in Every Way

Some people can’t take criticism, while others can’t take compliments. I won’t pretend that I’m great at taking criticism, although I make an attempt to keep an open mind (at least that part of my mind that’s not actively plotting revenge). I’m utterly terrible at taking compliments, though. Part of the problem stems from studying other languages. In many parts of the world the only way to receive a compliment is to deny it vehemently.

“I like your coat.”

“This old thing? I stole it from a dead hobo. It makes me look and smell like a rotting whale carcass.”

In other parts of the world, if you compliment someone’s clothing, they will try to take it off and give it to you. This leads us to a discussion entitled “The World’s Worst Pickup Lines,” which is best left for another time.

In truth, the only universally acceptable way to deal with a compliment is to immediately spill a hot drink on yourself, scream, and run for the nearest bathroom. It maintains your dignity while defusing a potentially awkward situation.

The Result of My Having Free Time

Spider (He is our hero!)

Well, it’s that time of year again. I know what you’re thinking, and no, I don’t mean that time when the leaves turn golden, the air turns crisp, and the warm aroma of an apple pie baking in the oven drifts gently through the house. No, it’s the time of year when you’d better take a close look at your shower before you hop in each morning, because there’s nothing quite like standing there naked and wet, only to discover a large spider crawling toward your exposed foot.

I try not to kill spiders as a matter of principle. I usually put them outside or just leave them be. But when I’m at my most vulnerable, dripping wet in the shower, and I see one in there, it’s more than likely not going to survive the encounter. To all the arachnids for whose untimely death I bear responsibility, I offer my most heartfelt apologies.

But that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop.

Why, Yes, I Do Happen to Have a Saw...

I like to learn about things. Sometimes I’ll be looking up some information on the Web, and the information leads me to something else, which leads me to something else, until I end up learning about Soviet ICBMs instead of the origin of the lute. I’m sure this is partly due to a lack of mental discipline, but to me the whole world is terribly fascinating.

Most people I know would probably agree that I know a little bit about a lot of things. On the other hand, my comprehension of a particular subject is often not terribly deep. The “jack-of-all-trades” concept has a negative connotation, but I think that’s unfair. I prefer to think of myself as a Swiss army knife of a person, ready with a spork or a fish scaler. It may not be an ideal knife for peeling vegetables or committing armed robbery, but when you need an all-purpose tool, it’s not a bad thing to have around.

Not that I’m trying to get invited to more parties or anything.

Huked on Foniks Wurkt fur Me!

Do you remember those “Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” posters? Yes, yes, we all thought they were cute at the time. But the fact is, I probably learned far more useless facts in school than relevant information. For example, how to distinguish between Doric and Ionian Greek pillars has, strangely, never been a qualification for employment; and I rarely ever need to calculate the cosine of anything.

No, no, the useful skills and information I learned in school were often unintended side-effects of my education. I know how to recognize the moment a guy is about to punch me, and I know how to make a museum-quality sculpture from paper, tape, spit, and paper clips.

What lessons did you inadvertently learn in school?

It's 11:00. Do you know where your children are?

I recently had an idea for a website for parents. The idea behind it is that there are all kinds of things going on with kids that parents might not have a clue even exist, so how could they ask their kids about them? So my friend Todd helped me set up the site www.kidsavvy.org to serve this purpose. It's still under construction, and there isn't much content on there yet, but we hope to expand quickly. I'd appreciate it if you'd pass the word along to parents so we can start to collect more information that may be helpful.

Now Playing

Do you have any DVDs that play several previews before you can get to the actual movie? That really bothers me. I paid for this disc. I own it. I don’t need Hollywood cramming more and more advertising in my life. Has anybody ever bought a movie because they saw the preview on a disc they just bought? They’re always for some really famous movie you already know, or they’re for some show that is apparently intended as a cure to insomnia. Let’s see if I can make one up.

“Imagine a world where everything you knew (dramatic pause)… is turned upside down. Trevor Dingbat was just an ordinary boy… until one day, his life was changed forever. Now he’s facing the greatest challenge of his life because he decided to… Wish upon a Star.”

I totally made that up in 30 seconds. But it sounds genuine, doesn’t it?

[Update: According to the IMDB, Wish upon a Star is a real movie, made in 1996, about a girl who wishes to trade places with her older, popular sibling.]

Personal Neologisms

Butt Crack n.: The small opening at the top of the car window allowing smokers to dislodge the ash from the tip of a cigarette

What words do you secretly use to describe things?

Playing Favorites

Have you ever filled out one of those surveys which asks you for your favorite ________? They sometimes circulate on the internet among friends, but I’m referring to an actual piece of paper you fill out, like on the first day of class, or when joining some other group.

Anyway, I filled one of those out a week ago. In this case, it was specifically about music. It asked for my favorite song, musical group, and music-related memory. Favorite music-related memory? How many people have a ready answer to that question?

I must be strange, because I don’t generally have “favorite” things. I don’t have a favorite color, for example. I don’t have a favorite food. I don’t have a favorite song. I’m sure this is unusual, but I don’t like the idea of my whole life and personality boiled down to a few words.

Blurb

Have you ever looked at a really old book? I mean something at least 200 years old. Aside from the occasionall work like Don Quixote, they’re nearly always some treatise on religion or some academic endeavor. Where are the trashy romance novels from the 1500s? I’m sure the predominant thinking is that there was a lot more censorship back then, but I think maybe that kind of material was just so well used that it hasn’t survived to the present day. Think about the books you read often. Aren’t they in worse shape than your old college textbooks? Which are more likely to survive for centuries? Suppose some disease wipes out humanity, and several centuries later extraterrestrials visit our world. They’re going to think we all read Dialectal Readings on Metaphysics instead of Harry Potter. They’ll wonder how we got wiped out if we were so smart.

Honk Beep Beep Honk Beep

Like it or not, your car makes a statement about you. Here’s an accurate guide I just made up to what some of those statements are.

New Corvette: I have money and I like fast cars.

New BMW: I have a lot of money and I like German cars.

Hummer: I demand that you acknowledge my presence! Out of the way, mortals!

Cadillac Escalade: I demand that you acknowledge my riches! Worship me, impecunious masses!

Honda Accord/Toyota Camry: I have no will of my own.

Toyota Prius: I’m so concerned about the environment that I conveniently neglected to calculate that, compared to a Corolla, I pay $1700 more per year in order to save $500 in gas.

The Highs and Lows of Height

I was a pretty short kid, right up until about my junior year of high school. I didn’t feel like I ever had a real growth spurt, but eventually I attained my present, average height. So I understand what it’s like to be short, and from living in Korea for a couple of years I understand what it’s like to be tall (the average height there is increasing quickly due to better nutrition, but I was still taller than average). And I must say, there is something about being taller than someone that makes you feel a little bit superior in some inexplicable way. It’s not the same for men when they’re taller than women, but I bet women feel it especially strongly when they’re taller than men. And, inversely, I feel a little inferior to those taller than me.

Just for the record, most of the people I know, tall or short, male or female, adult or child, could effortlessly beat me into submission, so I have no idea where the feeling comes from. There’s absolutely no logic behind it, and no physical basis for any sort of superiority. It’s just one of those irrational things about being human. Is it just me, or is this a common thing?

Hankerin' for Hangers

I’ve heard that hangers seem to multiply in the closet, until you have way more hangers than clothes. It seems to be one of those ideas in the public consciousness, like losing socks in the dryer. Well, I must say that this is one thing that doesn’t apply to me. In fact, I bet a small percentage of the population, including me, seem to mysteriously lose hangers. That’s probably why the rest of you keep finding them. There’s some weird closet-specific geographic displacement field transporting my hangers into your closet. Maybe I’ll start writing my name and phone number on my hangers. Give me a call if they turn up.

Trust Me

Recently I was reminded of one of the few useful skills I possess (I’m afraid the ability to open doors with my feet will not result in significant financial gain). For some reason, I have the ability to convince people that I know what I’m talking about, even when I’m completely making things up. Personally, I think it has to do with wearing glasses and looking as much like a nerd as possible. I’d like to try an experiment talking to people on the street, trying to gauge by their reaction how much they believe my "knowledge" on various subjects. I’d do it with glasses, neat hair, and a spiffy orthopedic shoe/sweater vest combo.

At any rate, the question is this: how can I make the most of this ability, short of becoming a “scientist” for the tobacco lobby?

11001001010011101001

There’s a strange phenomenon happening in the cubicle next to mine. My coworker has a standard solar-powered calculator sitting on his desk. Every morning when he comes in, there’s something different on the display. Sometimes it’s a regular number, but sometimes it has multiple decimal points and minus signs that we couldn’t duplicate if we tried. I wondered if the cleaning folks might have used it (I’ve done janitorial work, and it’s not fair that they always get blamed for things, but that’s a subject for another time), but they certainly wouldn’t need to use it every night, and it’s doubtful that they could create the theoretically impossible display of characters.
So, throwing Occam’s Razor out the window (that stupid monk always spoils everything), what could be causing this? I think that point is the location of a weakness in the space-time continuum which allows people in another dimension to communicate with us. Now we just need to figure out their code.

Killing Time

If you ask people what period in history they would like to live in, they’ll usually choose a time period that seems romantic or exciting to them, like Renaissance Italy, or ancient Greece, or the old west. I must be weird, because I’m too practical. I wouldn’t go back in time at all. I’d rather stay in the present, for the most up-to-date knowledge of medicine (and hygiene). I don’t want to live in a time when they just have to pull your teeth out if you have a toothache, or you die from various mysterious “fevers.” And I certainly don’t want to live in a time when daily showers are unheard of.

What time period would you like to live in, or (if you’re like me) just visit?

Dissecting the Funny Bone

Contrast is a very important principle to learn. I first learned about it in a desktop publishing class. You want to balance the colors on a page so it’s not overwhelming or lopsided. It’s also important to remember in fashion. It looks better to wear some light and some dark instead of all one shade.

Contrast is also a key element of humor. I like to take incongruous things and put them together. The best example I can give of this is when, a couple years ago, some friends and I decided to make up a fake band. So we took two words with completely different feelings to them and created Puppy Guts. We never got around to actually writing any songs, but that’s not important when you have a name that cool and create accompanying artwork (thanks, Nathan).

Let’s see what funny, original band names you can create (like Death Socks or Munchkin Assassins). Go forth and be funny!

Confession Time

Regarding yesterday’s post, in order to be fair I should have listed something negative that I myself like to point out to people. For me, it’s lack of sleep. It’s as if I think it’s cool to advertise that I’m wandering around in a semi-conscious state of delirium. Then again, that state of mind is sort of my excuse for doing something ridiculous like brag about my ridiculously delirious state of mind.

"It's all a rich tapestry."

Guess What? I'm Terrible!

Have you ever noticed that certain negative things can be trendy? Not only is it popular to have a certain car or hairstyle, it’s also somehow laudable to have certain things wrong with you. One thing is being afraid of clowns. I’m not sure why this is such a popular fear, unless it has something to do with Seinfeld. I know several people who have mentioned this fear, and I can’t help but think that in some cases if may be an affectation.

Another thing is having migraines. I’m not sure why this is so popular, especially since they are excruciating, but everybody seems to be having them. And the interesting thing is that people will say things like, “Sorry, I have a migraine.” The only time I had anything that might be termed a migraine, it was so painful that I couldn’t speak or stand. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying migraines don’t exist. I just wonder if they’re as common as people think.

So am I totally making this up, or are there other negative things that people brag about?