Tuesday, February 26, 2008

2/26/08 Random Acts of Kindness

There are plenty of stories from my life that I don't plan on writing, simply since they're not story worthy. Then, suddenly, some event tips the scales and closes the lid to an otherwise open box. A few unrelated events from the past few days somehow shaped up to become this box. No more than an hour ago the lid was literally thrown on, made me smile so much I laughed all the way home, and necessitated the writing of this story. It's about random acts of kindness.

Each of the events that have taken place over the past couple of days have been very kind. Like I said though, none of them were particularly story worthy. I don't plan on going into the details either. On Saturday evening, I was effectively dragged out by a good friend for a "night on the town". I don't go out like that very often - and it was much needed. The following day, I got a call from a guy that's in my yoga class. Truth be told, I didn't know his name for nearly 2 years. (That should give you an idea of how close we are). But on Sunday, he invited me to watch the Blackhawks play the Anaheim Ducks. Again, I figured - Hell, why not. And again, it was a much needed change of pace. On the way to the game, another person I know by face only helped point out that one of my tires was low on air.

The part of the story that closed this lid on this box, like I said, just happened. I was driving back from the grocery store and was pulling into a left turn lane. Actually, this is one of those goofy California intersections with 3 left turn lanes. I normally choose the far left lane here, as I'll be turning left again soon. But, the one car in front of me took that lane, so I opted to get position in the middle lane. (Sometimes I wonder if I'm the only one who puts this kind of excessive thought into driving choices - There's something about the efficiency of my choices that is a bit obsessive). The car that took the left lane was a newer VW bug. The was driver was a lady, probably in her mid 40's. As we're waiting for the left turn arrow, I notice she lowers the passenger side window. My windows were already down. I begin thinking - Are my tires low again? I just filled them up. She says something that I don't hear and I turn my radio off. She then motions that she wants to toss something to me. I think nothing of it, put my hand out the window and catch whatever it is she's tossing. At first glance it looks like a wrapped dessert, like one of those moon pies. But I notice it's cold. She tells me, "It's from Mother's Market". It's some sort of rice milk ice cream dealie. I'm relatively speechless and say thank you. Then the light turns and we drive off.

I've given up sweets. So I'm not going to eat it. But it make me laugh. Nothing about what happened really made sense. But there was something about the random act of kindness that really jolted my spirits. She made a good toss too. I'd say that the odds of a good toss and catch in a setting like that would have to be one in three at best. Sometimes it's best to put the odds aside and just do it. If you happen to come by my place anytime soon, I have a rice milk ice cream treat in my freezer waiting for you.


No Longer Neighbor Natalie continues with our theme and let's us know that those videos of water balloons exploding in slow motion are old and busted. The new hotness? A water balloon NOT exploding in slow motion.


This whole "not talking politics until this election" is going to be tough. Just about everyone I know wants to talk politics with me. Now we have a reason to keep my resolution in tact...

Diebold Accidentally Leaks Results Of 2008 Election Early

Saturday, February 23, 2008

2/23/08 Altruism

Quote of the day: "You can't have altruism without autism." (Think about it for a second. There might be some deeper truth to that statement than it seems.)


There was something about the lunar eclipse title that caught Google's attention the other day. At the time, it was on Google's front page behind only NASA and a couple of major news sources. Did you get a chance to see it? I didn't. It was cloudy. And I was busy. I guess I can wait for the next one.


Some guy in Cleveland has a website called - Hey Larry Hughes, Please Stop Taking So Many Bad Shots. Now that Larry Hughes has been traded to the Bulls, the website owner wants to know what to do with it. Cousin Eric suggested that our family take over.


I miss going to school. I don't think I was cut out for this real world working thing. So, if I ever do go back to school, here's the ideal course schedule.


Check out UltraSlo.com. It's a bunch of videos in super slo-motion.

This is a repeat of my favorite slo-mo video of all time. "Taylor bunts!"

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

2/20/08 Lunar Eclipse Tonight

Bob reminds us that there's a full lunar eclipse tonight. The next total eclipse won't happen until December 2010. If I had things my way, this would be an opportunity to have a romantic evening under the stars. But, if you take a Venn Diagram of females that will spend time with me in the evening and females that would be turned on by a lunar eclipse... Well, you basically have two very small circles that won't ever overlap. Imagine these circles as two protons. They're exceedingly small and repel one another. You'd win the Nobel Prize if you could find gluons strong enough to merge them together.

While we're talking about the night sky, I learned a bit about the zodiac last night. I don't really want to go into the entire history of the zodiac right now. But some constellations are bigger than others. Which means that the night sky isn't sliced up into 30 day increments like your horoscope may suggest. We spend 44 days going through the constellation Virgo and 38 day through Taurus. On the flip side, we only spend 7 days in Scorpio. The most interesting nugget I learned was about the constellation Ophiuchus. Not only is Ophiuchus fun to say, but it's the 13th sign of the zodiac. From November 30th - December 17th, you're not quite the Sagittarius you thought you were. You're an Ophiuchus. For many reasons, the signs of the zodiac were condensed to 12 and made to be 30-31 days each. Quite simply, it made life a lot easier. For everyone except Ophiuchus.


Here's a little anecdote for ya'll... A very good high school friend of mine was in town this past Monday for work. I made sure to take advantage of Monday evening to show him around. We walked into a local eatery/bar after dinner. It wasn't very crowded, seeing as though it was Monday night. I did notice, however, that a girl was looking at me with much more interest than most people do. Because I'm me, I was beginning to wonder if I had some food on my face. As I eventually walked past her, she says, "Hey. This is going to sound really weird. But do you have a website called 'I Love Nachos' or something about nachos?"

"Well. Yeah. How, uh... how did you know?" She said that she and her sister had met me before. I followed up with another question or two, but I remained very confused as to how the nacho thing came about and where we had met and... yeah... lots of stuff. But, there you have it. I'm famous and confused. I guess I'm famously confused.


I'm generally not a big fan of pranks. If you haven't seen this one, though, it's fun....


No Longer Neighbor Natalie sends a song that challenges The Umbrella Song in its awesomeness....


In return, I send out a video of Dave Grohl and Will Ferrell - Together at last.


And finally, this is probably the cutest version of "Hey Jude" you'll see today.

Monday, February 18, 2008

2/18/08 I Still Hate Pennies

It's abundantly clear that, if I were to focus my time, smarts and emotional energy towards any of numerous valuable causes, that it would be worthwhile. Instead, I fester on ridiculous topics that really have no long term value. Today, I'm going to revisit one of those worthless topics for no good reason. I'm still pushing to erradicate the penny from our lives.

Long ago, I was taught to use less sensitive words when trying to make a point like this. I would have gotten docked a full letter grade for using "erradicate". For example, I once had to write a persuasive essay and take the side of killing deer for the benefit of the local community. We were taught to use words like "cull" instead of "murder" and "kill". But now that we're talking about pennies instead of deer... and I don't receive a letter grade for any of this... I say... Fuck that. I'm not going to play to the sensitivies of penny lovers. If you love pennies, you probably enjoy liking your back window too. In fact, let's go all out here. Let's have a penny holocaust.

Due to the rising cost of zinc (pennies are 97.5% zinc), it now costs the federal reserve almost 2 cents to make every penny. This is nothing new. It has been more expensive to make a penny than spend a penny for the better part of a decade now.

A couple of weeks ago, I happened to be listening to a "60 Minutes" episode that focused on this exact topic. Not only does it cost nearly 2 cents to make a penny, but it also costs almost 10 cents to make a nickel. In typical "60 Minutes" fashion, they explored the other side of the coin. (har har)... They checked out "Americans for Common Cents". It's a group that appears to be looking out for consumers and the poorest Americans, saying that it would cost us around $600 million in accumulated rounding payments. (Even if that's true, that equates to a whole 2 dollars for every man, woman and child in this country). As it turns out, Mark Weller is one of the most influential voices for "Americans for Common Cents". Would you be surprised to find out that Mark Weller also has "a financial interest in the high cost of penny pinching: Weller is a lobbyist for Jarden Zinc, the Tennessee company that sells those little blank discs for the mint to turn into Lincoln pennies."? Yeah, me neither.

If you like your pennies because you have some sort of sentimental connection to your childhood... ok, fine. But if you argue that it makes financial sense to keep them around, you're an idiot. However, if you can sell 301 pennies for $10.7 Million, you're an absolute genius.

Speaking of a penny - postage is going up another cent from 41 to 42 this coming May. You can still buy the "forever stamp" at 41 cents. I'm looking to buy some. Not to save money. But to save myself trips to the post office. I use stamps so infrequently, every time I buy a roll, they raise the price another cent or two. Then it's just a pain in my ass to get 1 and 2 cent stamps. Trust me here - the price of stamps has almost exactly kept with inflation for almost a century now. You're not going to save anything buy stocking up. Except, perhaps, another trip to the post office.

Oh yeah - Happy President's Day...


Do I seem a bit Andy Rooney angry lately? It's not intentional. I'm actually fine.

So, to make it up to you, here's some unnecessary censorship.

Even The Count from Sesame Street needs censorship!

Finally... Sarah Silverman has something to get off her chest...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

2/13/08 It Is What It Is

It's days like today that I'll look back on when I'm a nonagenarian and regret how I spent it. I watched the entire Congressional hearing with Roger Clemens. Every minute. There's no good reason why. I'm neither a big fan nor a hater of Roger Clemens. I have no reason to want him to be found innocent or guilty of steroid use. There's just something about finding "the truth" that intrigues me. It's like the poker game of life. Is he bluffing?

If I had to stake my entire (dwindling) life savings on this - I would easily say that Roger Clemens knowingly took steroids during his career. There's no doubt in my mind. I could go into the details why, but instead, I'd like to just trust my poker playing gut feel. I will leave you with this however - My dad sends an article about how Clemens licked his lips.

The one part of the hearing that surprised me most was how partisan it appeared. Can somebody explain why the Republicans were clearly defending Clemens and the Democrats were on McNamee's side? How does that make sense?


Here's what he should've said in the first place...


They talked an awful lot about Roger Clemen's butt.


Guy love, no more.


Can you honestly say an innocent person would talk like this?

Monday, February 11, 2008

2/11/08 Two Dozen Red Roses

I don't think I'll ever understand how flowers, jewelry and chocolate are appropriate ways to demonstrate your love for somebody. It's to the point where I'm not sure if I'm more bitter when I'm alone on Valentine's Day or when I'm not alone and end up buying stuff that is less from the heart and more from the (whatever organ signifies "obligation"). For argument's sake, let's call it the pancreas. That seems to be one of those obligatory organs that has to be around just cuz.

Remember the movie "Big"? There's a scene where some dude from the toy company presents his idea to the other people that work there and Tom Hanks keeps saying "I don't get it". He appears obnoxious, but the intent is innocent. Well, I guess that's what I'm trying to say here about Valentine's gifts (and I suppose women in general). "I don't get it".

If you really probe into "Big", you realize that the one woman who falls for Tom Hanks' innocent charms is pretty neurotic and unstable. So... uh... you see what I'm getting at here, right? "I don't get it". (Watch the movie again - the chick certainly carries more than her share of baggage. We're talking well over the 50 pound limit.)

Now that I've somewhat confessed and ranted and appear overly bitter... I still wish everyone a fun, loving Valentine's week. You know what they say, "If you can't be with the one you love...."


The scene from "Big" is about 2 minutes in here:

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

2/6/08 "There is no security on this earth. Only opportunity." - Douglas MacArthur

Mike recently sent me some comics from XKCD.com. This is one of those comics. I will be posting more - The main reason is that I really, really enjoyed some of them... And I really couldn't think of anyone in particular to send them to. So they're ending up here.
I've been fingerprinted a total of 6 times since November. I've also been fingerprinted a total of 6 times in my entire life. These prints have been sent to the FBI and the Department of Justice. I'm not a criminal. I have no criminal record. In a way, I feel like a piece of my soul has been taken from me. I've already blathered about this before. So I'll stop.
The FBI already has 55 million sets of prints on record. What's next for the FBI? They want palm prints, eye scans and tattoo mapping. When will it end?
  • "Security is when everything is settled. When nothing can happen to you. Security is the denial of life." - Germaine Greer
  • "Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." - Helen Keller
Speaking of crime - CrimeReports.com now combines crime locations with Google Maps.

Monday, February 04, 2008

2/4/08 Eighteen and One

Vote on your favorite Superbowl commercials here: (Thanks Google Nicki, who reminds me that YouTube is part of Google and her job is to watch YouTube. Yeah, I'm envious too).



Saturday, February 02, 2008

2/2/08 Fly Oceanic Air

This is it. This is the game. It's based on the show "Lost". It's an ARG (like we've been talking about recently). It begins here - FlyOceanicAir.com. Just click it and begin. Good luck. I can help you out some, as I've wasted a number of hours today playing around. Just like the show "Lost", I'm totally hooked into the spin-off game. If you get hooked too, it's Bob's fault. He started me on this.

Talk about a complete interactive experience. This is awesome. I was asked last week if it's worth watching "Lost" starting this season. The answer is a definitive "no". At the same time, it's absolutely worth renting the first 3 seasons and catching up. You have to watch the entire thing. It's just an experience like no other TV show has ever provided. Combine that with these ARGs online and it only makes sense why people have become so obsessed with "Lost".


On a completely random note - The TSA has a blog. A blog where they answer your FAQs. It even has a comment section. One that has some 700 comments entered in its first day alone.


Since tomorrow's the Superbowl, here are a few Superbowl links:

Emails sent by Brady, Romo and Eli Manning.

Eli Manning edits Tom Brady's Wikipedia page.

In case you're bored during the game, you can play the Superbowl XLII drinking game.


If you're not going to play the "Lost" game, at least you can help out here... Can you help figure out the Scrabble Gram here?


This is what I need to keep in touch with the pulse of America. It's an mp3 of the top 25 songs from 2007 all mashed up into one. It's like the Cliff's Notes version for people like me that don't really like this music, but stills wants to be in touch with reality. As an added bonus - More "Umbrella Song"!

Friday, February 01, 2008

2/1/08 Going for Gold

Since I've been spending an inordinate amount of time driving to and from work, my mind has 3-4 extra hours per day to just wander aimlessly. In response, I continue to feel the need to brain dump more than usual. A few of you have told me over the years that you enjoy these stories. While the vast majority of you prefer the YouTube clips and links. I guess today's dumpage is for the few.

How much driving am I doing? It's to the point where the few friends I still have time to talk to are starting to feel sorry for me. In fact, today I had the rare pleasure of actually having a conversation with some coworkers. They, too, are in shock that I'm driving as far as I do. The end result, though, may be the permission to work from home part of the week. Fingers crossed there.

Onto the story from behind the wheel. On the long stretch of I-5, there's an unwritten driving rule. Perhaps I shouldn't be admitting all of this - But it seems like my public duty to be honest rather than a rule stickler. The speed limit is 65 mph. The unwritten rule is that most people are trying to get from where they are to where they're going at some reasonably faster speed. On modern roads in modern cars, that speed in the far left lane is somewhere between 80 and 85 mph. It's just understood by 99% of all drivers to be safe and efficient. I'd say, if you had to break the average speed per lane down, you'd see about a 5 mph drop for every lane to the right. If cars are going 80 in the left lane, you'll see 75 in the next lane over, 70 in the next lane and 65 in the far right lane. It's not hard and fast - just a general rule of thumb. Like electronegativity to the upper right of the periodic table.

Here's the problem with 99%. There's the 1% that doesn't quite get it. That one percent can hinder the drive for a far larger portion of the commuters From my experience, that 1% generally drives a pickup truck or a hybrid or is on the phone. I have no problem if you want to drive the speed limit. That's perfectly acceptable and law abiding of you. What isn't acceptable is the number of drivers that are being inconvenienced because of you. Move over. I'm simply amazed on a daily basis when this scenario happens. We're all moving along just fine and then the brake lights start up for no apparent reason. As I drive over the next "hill", I see a line of 25 cars ahead of me - 24 of which are intending to follow the unwritten rule. And one car preventing the other 24 from continuing along the primrose path. What you start seeing is insane - Cars attempting evasive military manuevers across 4 lanes of traffic to bypass the one "slow" car.

When this happens on a smaller scale in lighter traffic, many times you can pass the car by going into the next lane over. When I do, I can't help but look at the driver. In part out of curiosity and in part to give the "WTF?" glare. Am I impatient? Certainly. Am I an unsafe driver? Not at all. The scenario is simply a personal reminder of how one individual can affect the lives of many more people - It's especially interesting to me because the one individual generally is completely oblivious to the fact that he or she is having this kind of impact.

All that being said, I'm finally to the part of the story I had originally intended on writing. I'm starting to recognize some cars from previous drives. On a side note, I'm not opposed to personalized license plates. But they surely say a whole lot about you if you have one. In general, it doesn't say anything positive about you. I specifically don't understand why you would get a plate about the model of car you drive. In the past week I've seen "ROBS 350" on a Nissan 350z and "C MY LEX" on, you guessed it, a Lexus. I mean, really? That's what you want to say about yourself to the world? I've twice seen the plate "Y2KBUG" and thought about how that seems out of date. Much later did it finally strike me that the plate was on a VW Bug. Probably a year 2000 model. Which means my brain is out of date.
Here's where I bring everything together. Today's car of interest was a Prius in the left lane, driving a bit too slow. The license plate was a special California plate honoring the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. It read "GON4AU". I get it - "Goin' for the gold". Also of interest would be the bumper sticker. It read "NRA: Freedom's Frontline". Putting those pieces together left my mind in disarray - A Prius, an Olympic Plate and an NRA bumper sticker. Immediately I thought, who, other than an athlete from the 1984 Olympics would have a plate like that? - "That might be Mary Decker-Slaney", I thought. Or maybe Edwin Moses. But more likely Mary Decker-Slaney. That was followed by a personal "what the hell?" moment - Why would my mind automatically skip the biggest names of the 1984 Olympics (Mary Lou Retton, Carl Lewis, Greg Louganis)? And why would Mary Decker-Slaney drive a Prius and support the NRA more so than Edwin Moses? I then justified that I ruled out Mary Lou Retton because I know she has 4 kids and would need a bigger car. And that Carl Lewis seemed like a guy who would drive something sportier.
I followed this car in bumper to bumper traffic for at least 20 minutes. Because of the high spoiler and angle of the back window, I couldn't see the driver. Although, I spent the entire time looking for glimpses in the rear view mirror. After a few glimpses, I decided that the driver was probably Asian with long hair. So, most likely it was an Asian woman, but it could've been a man with longer hair.
After the 10 miles of bumper to bumper traffic, a carpool lane opened up on the left and traffic started to flow again. The Prius moved into the carpool lane (as certain hybrid vehicles are allowed to do so) and there was daylight ahead of me. I figured this was my last chance to see who the driver was. So I gunned it. I got up next to the Prius and saw her, clear as day. Some random Asian lady who was probably around 50 years old, crushing my dreams of Scooby-Doo solving the mystery of the Prius driving, NRA supporting, Olympic athlete from 1984.