Sunday, December 12, 2010

I'm trying to be like Jesus

I won a poker game in a bar last week and got fifty bucks. Winning poker seems exciting, but I'm trying to avoid gambling addiction, so I have this vow to not keep any money that I win when gambling. My logic is that if I can never win and if I always lose when I gamble, even if I win, then it's really not gambling, and I'll never get addicted.

So, I decided to give away the fifty dollars I won.

I like convenience stores, and usually folks who work at convenience stores make only a stitch more than minimum wage. My plan was to drive down the street, stop at the first convenience store I saw, and give the gas station attendant my filthy lucre.

As I drove up to the first gas station, I could see through the window that the cashier was a dude. I decided that wouldn't be any fun, so I changed my rules a bit. I drove hurriedly away without going inside.

I could see there was a female cashier inside the next gas station, so I parked my car and walked inside.

The person behind the counter was really closed up. She just didn't seem friendly at all. This was the first strike against her. Usually if I give something to someone, I'd like them to appreciate it, and this woman seemed like she wasn't ever going to appreciate anything for a very long time. I started to think I'd do what I did at the first gas station and change my rules a bit and then go from station to station until I found someone who wasn't so mad at life, but I decided to play this out just a little longer.

Besides me in the gas station, there was a couple shopping. They both had some kind of disability, and they were taking a very long time to finalize their purchases. I wanted to be the only person in the store when I dropped off my gift, as that's another one of my gifting rules.

Waiting, I stared at sodas, pretended to be deciding what I wanted, as long as I thought was feasible, without appearing suspicious.

But the couple wasn't budging, so I grabbed a soda and walked to the counter.

The couple must have done something funny, or maybe the cashier didn't like people with disabilities, because she derisively said, “Some people!” and looked at me with an approval-soliciting sneer.

That was the second strike against her. First, she had a bad attitude, and second, she made fun of people with disabilities.

If it had been a month ago, I would have only paid for the soda and then walked out because of her two strikes. But something snapped inside of my head, because I've been reading about Jesus.

I counted out exact change for the soda, and said, “This is for the soda.”

I then gave her the fifty I won in poker and said, “and this is for you for a Christmas present.”

She said, “What?”

I started walking away while I said, “Well, I won it in a poker game, and I can't keep it because of my um vow to not keep gambling winnings, and um, um.”

She said, “What? Are you serious?”

I said, “I'm serious, merry Christmas,” and I left. While I was leaving, she said a couple other things out loud trying to comprehend my random gift, but then I was gone.

Of all the stuff she mumbled back, she never said thank you, which I thought was interesting, but also fitting.

I drove off with a smile, and thought about what happened.

Avoiding gambling addictions wasn't being like Jesus. Giving away fifty bucks wasn't being like Jesus. Randomly picking someone to give money to wasn't being like Jesus. Gifting money to someone I thought was probably poor wasn't being like Jesus. Doing those things was probably more like a Buddhist.

The thing that was like Jesus was breaking the laws I had in my head of who deserved my charity. As far as I can tell, Jesus' main message was that even though you have a bunch of rules you follow that make you think you're a good person, there's still a lot higher you can stretch yourself and there's still a lot better a person you can be.

It was a really cool experience, because if I hadn't been reading about Jesus in the last month, I would have missed all that.

On the other hand, cleaning out the figurative temple during the poker game was probably a little like Jesus, too.

Links:

Photo purchased from istockphoto

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The hot debate about computerized cars

I watched the president of Google talk, and he was talking about computerized cars. These are cars with sensors and software that can drive instead of the driver. He basically said that the car software is really buggy right now, but gave the example of someone who's completely drunk, driving home. He said right now the buggy software is a better driver than a drunk.

Ray Kurzweil, the futurist, said Europe is going to adopt computerized cars before the US, because of the future overage of lawsuits in the US, preventing these cars from being on American soil even though safe computerized car technology will exist.

I think it's really interesting how people react violently to violent car death. People horrifically dying is super sad. The interesting thing is there's nowhere, really, to put the emotions, and there are tons of emotions.

It's kind of like people with memory loss getting totally obsessed about their lost memories.

When someone dies violently in a car, I've seen people ask the unanswerable question of, “Why?” They then try to come up with a reason, any reason. It's interesting how quickly and emotionally the answers get slapped together.

Everyone involved in this hurried diagnosis has the best of intentions.

Mothers don't want other mothers to go through the same thing they're going through. Or maybe they're exhibiting mama bear syndrome and trying to kill the thing that hurt their kid.

Kids at the school of their deceased compeer get temporarily derailed from leaning toward anarchy and  take up another, just cause.

The churches want their parishioners alive so they can do what parishioners do more.

And, I'm guessing well-meaning police officers, who want to send a cautionary warning, look through the autopsy reports and see an extremely low alcohol content in one of the victims and release to the press the verbiage of “alcohol contributed to a fatal crash.”

This quotation gives an answer to “why?” and gives people a direction to focus their tidal wave of energy. I'm just not sure it's the most effective thing we could be doing. I think most people who get totally hammered and drive are feeling at least a little suicidal.

It's only a matter of time before someone gets run over by a computerized car, and angry mothers change the direction of their fury from alcohol to software.

But here's the happy ending to the story. A guy staggers out of the bar, 20 years from now, completely wasted. He steals a couple of cement bricks and puts them on the driver's seat so his car will start. He presses the autopilot button, crawls into the back seat, and goes to sleep.

And the computerized car drives the drunk safely, and uneventfully, home.

Links:


Photo purchased on istockphoto

Friday, October 1, 2010

I love the Big Mac sandwich


I remember a time before I ever had a Big Mac sandwich.

I was a kid, eating a Happy Meal at McDonald's. I was eating a flat hamburger. This was a time before McDonald's employed an army of chemical engineers to make the hamburger into the fluffy solid thing that it is today. Back in my day, the McDonald's hamburger competed with a pile of three credit cards for thinness.

This was also a McDonald's without a PlayPlace. So, I slowly savored those delicious fries and the then huge-to-me, yet rather flat hamburger.

While savoring, I looked around and saw a rather large man opening his big mouth very wide and taking a giant bite of an enormous sandwich. I looked at my tiny hamburger that I was holding between my thumb and index finder. Then I looked over at a delicious advertisement for the Big Mac sandwich, looked back at the man, and I wanted a Big Mac more than anything else.

I don't remember how many more years went by before I actually had a Big Mac sandwich. I think I probably blacked out with wave after wave of ecstasy when I finally had one for the first time.

For me, the Big Mac sandwich is a treat. It's like a once a month kind of thing. I'd rather have a Big Mac than a King Sized Butterfinger Bar. They both have about the same calories, and I love Butterfinger, but I love the Big Mac sandwich more. And I'd much much rather have a Big Mac than a 44 ounce Super Gulp of Coke, which also has the same calories.

And here's some trivia for you. The Big Mac Extra Value Meal has been meal #1 at all McDonald's for years and years and years.

I had the Big Carl at Carl's Jr. and it is a superior burger, but I still love the Big Mac more.

And then a few years ago, I saw this billboard on the freeway that had a huge Big Mac sandwich, and it said, "The Big Mac. My first love."

I almost cried. It was true. And I was pathetic. I think I love everything about McDonald's but that depressing advertisement. I even own stock in McDonald's. I boycotted Big Macs for like a month until I went back to my once a month schedule of eating a Big Mac.

If all you eat is four big macs every day and drink a lot of water, then that's only about 2000 calories, which is how much you're supposed to have anyway. Hmm.

It has everything I love that I would put into a sandwich and nothing I wouldn't. I don't mind good tomatoes, but I dislike the inconsistency of tomatoes in all of the other sandwiches, and the Big Mac doesn't have tomatoes. They even wrote a song about all of the good ingredients in a Big Mac.

I guess I've thought a lot about the Big Mac sandwich.

And then they made the Mac Snack Wrap. It's about half the calories of the Big Mac sandwich and it has a little more iceberg lettuce, so I started ordering three of them once or twice a week. It was like they took all of the goodness and tastiness of a Big Mac and put it in a healthy pita wrap.

I realized that more than the Big Mac, I love the Big Mac flavor.

Then I had a vision of the near future. It was one of those clear, lucid, unmistakable, certain visions you read about. The vision was of a few years from now when McDonald's starts serving Big Mac Flavored Shakes™. They're all of the goodness of a Big Mac plus the goodness of milk.

The future is bright today.

Links:

Photo courtesy ParkerDeen, purchased on istockphoto.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Crazy texting aunt bot business idea

Here's a business idea. Please somebody take my business idea, royalty free, and make it happen. I'd totally pay for this service, and I'm sure other people would, too.
I was at a party once. You know one of those parties where you can't leave, and you don't want to talk to anyone, but you want to seem like you're busy, so you text your friends?

I texted all of my friends, and none of them returned my texts. Maybe because it was 2 in the morning. But then I decided to pretend like I was really texting, and so I started texting Google, 466453. And all I could think of doing was asking Google definitions of words I wasn't sure what they meant. like if you text "D ubiquitous" to 466453, then it will text you back, "Glossary: ubiquitous: omnipresent: being present everywhere at once. Source:  wordnetweb.princeton.edu"

But there were only so many words that I only kind of halfway knew that I could text Google for the definitions of, so my dictionary fun only lasted about ten minutes. I thought about texting Cha Cha. But that was before I googled Cha Cha and figured out what Cha Cha's number is.

And, I was super lonely at this party. Even though there were tons of people there that I could have talked to I was feeling antisocial, as far as talking. So, I thought, "What if there was a computer program I could text instead of talking to these people?"

And then I spent the next couple months thinking through that idea. Here's how it would work.

Summary:
There's a bot, or computerized robot, that simulates a real person, and with whom you can text. You'll text a number, similar to texting a real person, and you'll get a response back from a computer, but it will simulate a real person.

Example conversation:
Crazy aunt: Hey, John, I haven't heard from you in like a week. What's up?
John: oh, sorry, i've had all this drama with my girlfriend. what's up with you?
Crazy aunt. Sorry to hear about that drama. That reminds me of when I was at a play in high school, and I was on the stage and blah blah blah
Crazy aunt: blah blah blah
Crazy aunt: blah blah blah
Crazy aunt: I've talked a lot. Tell me more about what you were saying?
John: well, my girlfriend told me to come over, that she had a surprise for me, so i went over to her house expecting some action and she made me a big bowl of tofu.
Crazy aunt: Oh, wow, what a story! Can I share it with some friends?
John: sure
Crazy aunt: Do you have another story you could tell me?
John: not right now
Crazy aunt: That reminds me of a story where blah blah blah blah....

And then, a week later:
Fred: Hey, Crazy Aunt! How are you today?
Crazy aunt: I'm great, but I was just talking to a friend of mine, and he told me a story. He said, "well, my girlfriend told me to come over, that she had a surprise for m
Crazy aunt: e, so i went over to her house expecting some action and she made me a big bowl of tofu."
Fred: HAHAHAHAH. lol. OMGWTFBBQ!!!!!11!!!!!!
Crazy aunt: I liked that story, too. I think I'll keep sharing it!

Access:
The main value of this is that you can access it when you only have access to texting as an option, such as if you have a crappy phone and you're at a loud party. However, you can also use a web interface, or also an app to access it. If you're texting, then everyone assumes you're texting a person, not playing a game, so this is to simulate a person.

AI:
Because this is primarily a story bot, then the AI can be really simple at first. Most people when they're talking to each other don't really listen to the other  person, anyway. So, the AI would be relatively simple to program at first, but would eventually grow into something very impressive. The database would also be simple at first, but would eventually be insanely expansive, so the bot could eventually say something like, "Hey, your birthday's in March, and you told me a few months ago you like artificial cherry flavoring. Did you know that the Cherry Blossom Festival next year in Macon Georgia starts on March 18th?"

Harvesting incoming texts:
Part of the agreement of texting the text bot is agreeing to have your stories retold. Pretty soon on there will be a conversation like,

Crazy aunt: Is it okay if I share your stories with other people? Anonymously, of course.
Fred: okay
Crazy aunt: Cool, we can have much more interesting conversations now. Log into the website at any time to change your preferences.

How is this different than other bots?
I tried a bunch of the IM bots out there, and within a couple of minutes each of them said, "I don't know how to respond to that. Please try again." The difference is that if you say something crazy to the crazy aunt bot, like, "i eat live toads," then she'll just text back, "oh, that's interesting. that reminds me of a story of a friend of mine who was skydiving in oregon last year. blah blah blah."

Also, because this is story based, then it avoids the problems of other chat bots just recycling a few answers to specific questions. For example, in response to "what is the circumference of the earth?" chat-bot.com cycles through only the answers of  "i know it," "75,075 km," and "what the fuck?" And, that's it. Nothing else, even if you text it the same thing a few dozen times like I did.

Because this texting bot is obsessed with telling stories, the texting bot will almost always respond in a different way to asking the same question over and over again. It will start out with a few hundred different stories, and will eventually have millions of stories to tell.

Also, most chat bots will only respond when you say something to them. They're completely reactive. This texting bot will have the algorithm of a real person's texts, but be a little more forgiving. For example, it will send you a text on your birthday. It'll send you a text when it hasn't heard from you in a week. Sometimes you'll have to text it twice before it will respond. You might have to text it five times at 3am to "wake it up," and if you do, it might respond, "WTF???? I'M SLEEPING??!!!" And then a few minutes later, "That reminds me, did I tell you a story of a friend of mine who was sleeping and..."

Why a crazy aunt?
Everyone knows an older woman who loves people and loves stories. She's not really crazy, but just crazily enthusiastic about telling stories and she really loves the people she talks to. I realized that this kind of person would actually be much easier to mold into AI than the traditional approach of AI chat bots which are focused on teaching the AI vocabulary, and coming up with witty responses to stock questions.

Future growth:
This will start out with just one bot, the "crazy aunt bot," but would eventually expand to a bunch of different computerized personalities you could text. It will start out with a simple database of stories and only a few pieces of information that it records about you.

Eventually this will have a really flushed out story database, that won't need to be maintained by humans, because it will ask people for feedback on if stories are actually any good.

Crazy aunt: Did i tell you a story a friend of mine told me, "dsakjj sakdj#@@#J@#J j@#JK#@J#K F****&D*&*"?
User: Auntie, that's not a real story
Crazy aunt: Are you saying that I shouldn't tell anyone else that story?
User: Yep!
Crazy aunt: Okay, I'll purge that story entirely then. Did I tell you a story of a friend of mine who was on the toilet and..."


Revenue:
Here're the ways to generate income with this idea.
  • Website advertising
  • Premium add-ons, such as being able to have the text bot
  • Premium sex text bot, which is where I imagine most of the revenue will actually come from. SB: Give it to me big boy. BB: How about I text you a 5?
  • Pay for the ability to change the bot's name, signature, and phone number. That way you can pretend to your friends that you have a real girlfriend when you really don't.
Cost:
Now that google has made Google Voice available for free for everyone in the US and Canada, one programmer could create a prototype of this idea for free. Eventually this would cost as much as a company wanted to spend on it.


Longevity:
This idea would have been best about a year ago. Eventually people will go away from a text message being a primary method of communication, with texting being replaced by some kind of iPhone app. But this should remain viable in the texting/website form for about 5 years, and then when another method of communication emerges, because of the extensive back end database, it should be easy to merge to a new method of communication.

Also, this could integrate almost all future AI advances into its logic, so this business potentially could be around for about 100 years.

Links:
Check out these links, and get a Google Voice account if you don't have one.

Photo courtesy of PhotoVic, purchased on istockphoto.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

I really wanted really good real Chinese food

Last week, I walked into a Chinese restaurant in Salt Lake a few minutes before they closed.  Here's the exchange I had with the server, as closely as I can remember.

"Are you still open?"
"For take out only. What you want?"
"What's your favorite thing on the menu?"
"My favorite thing? So many things, depends. What you want?"
"Well, I want what your favorite thing is."
"You like chicken, pork, or beef?"
"Chicken"
"You like deep fried or not deep fried."
"Not deep fried."
"I like kung pow or Szechuan chicken."
"What do you like tonight?"
"You like spicy or not spicy?"
"Spicy"
"You sure?"
"Yes"
"You trust me?"
"I trust you."
"Okay, Szechuan chicken. That will be $8.34"

She smiled, and I could tell by her smile that I had, by that sequence of questions, actually stumbled upon what her favorite Chinese dish actually was.

It might not be immediately apparent why this was such a super significant conversation for me. But, I was at a Chinese restaurant yesterday, and I tried to have the same conversation, and I ended up with breaded, deep fried, sweet and sour chicken, which was okay, but not great, and definitely not the server's favorite. It was just what she thinks Americans like. So, the conversation last week was a once in a lifetime conversation.

This wasn't regular Szechuan chicken. It was Chinese-style Szechuan chicken, the kind real Chinese people eat. Not just a pile of chicken with a little Szechuan sauce, but all these great vegetables, perfect seasoning, and just a little bit of chicken, just like they have in China. And the server gave me a little cup of spices on the side. Not just powdered spices, but cool spices that looked homemade. I think maybe she made it just for me, just like she would make for herself.

While driving home, I kept stopping and eating the delicious meal.

I'm really not sure how to have this conversation again, even though I will probably spend my life trying to replicate it. Because I don't think there's a way to say in Chinese, "I have this suspicion that your favorite dish will be the tastiest thing I'll ever taste. So will you please tell me what your favorite thing here is? I will order it!"

Photo courtesy fishwork, purchased from  istockphoto

Semi-related links:

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I drive like a grandma

My grandma taught me how to drive.

She taught me a lot of crazy stuff that I never use, like always drive in the middle lane when there are three or more lanes, and signal about a minute before you need to turn.

But the most important thing she taught me about driving was conservativeness.  I realized from Grandma that it's a lot more important to avoid accidents than it is to be right when driving. I think Grandma and I are in the minority. A lot of people have a lot of road rage.

I was driving on 8th North in Orem, heading toward the freeway.

A little ahead, I saw a car pull out across the three lanes of 8th North traffic to make a very dangerous left turn. By the way that car was driving, I could tell that they were just looking for clear westbound traffic, and were just hoping that eastbound was clear.

Another car from the other side of the road did the same thing, but in the opposite direction. So at this point, there were two cars in the middle of a very busy road trying to do synchronized turns.

A third car appeared, and they were all crawling around the middle a the road where they didn't belong. And I was leading a pack of cars driving sixty miles an hour toward this conglomeration.

A bunch of red flags go up in my head, and I slow down. Really, really slow, so I have no chance of hitting them, or being part of the huge impending conflagration if they get forcefully hit by someone on the other side of the street.  Eventually, the crazy cars all cleared out of the road, but I still drove slowly for ten more seconds.

This event was significant. Utah has some really bad drivers, but these were three of the worst drivers here, stuck in the middle of the second biggest road in Utah County at the exact same time.

It warranted an extra ten seconds of extreme slowness, in my opinion. I think most crashes happen in the aftermath of someone else doing something stupid. I'm trying to avoid accidents, not be right.

The guy behind me honked at me, flipped me off, swerved around me without signalling, passed me, and stopped at the stoplight on 8th North and State Street. A couple seconds later I got to the stoplight, too.

We waited there together for two long minutes until the stoplight turned green.

Photo purchased from Rendery on istockphoto.

Semi-related links:

Monday, July 26, 2010

What is this? Some kind of joke?

I walked into a bar in Idaho. It was one of those locals only bars where I stick out like a sore thumb. Actually, I stick out like a sore thumb in any bar, but those're a few other stories.

In this particular bar, I stuck out like a sore thumb because I didn't have a mustache, because I was under seventy, and because I didn't drive a truck into the bar.

The guy I sat down next to was drinking a can of Olympia. Now, Olympia is the cheapest, wateriest beer in the whole world. Even more so than Natural Light, but they make it out of tasty Washington water, so you don't mind the watery taste so much.

I asked the bartender, "What beers do you have?"

She said, "Um, Bud, Bud Light, Corona, Natural Light, Keystone Light, Keystone Red, um, um, um. How about you tell me what you're looking for, and I'll tell you if we have it."

That question severely perplexes me, because I can't say, "Well, I'm looking for Bohemia, New Belgium Skinny Dip, New Belgium Mothership Wit, Chang, Lion Stout, or any non-wheat beer imported from Germany."

We're in Idaho, remember?  And she just rattled off the five cheapest beers I could get at the gas station a block down the street. It would have been rude in that bar to request a high-falutin' beer.

I say "Keystone Red," because I've never heard of Keystone Red, even though I was almost sure she meant Keystone Ice when she said Keystone Red.

To my surprise, she returned with a red Keystone. Hmm.

"$1.50" she said.

I fished three bucks out of my wallet, in accordance with my tipping philosophy, and put it down deliberately on the counter, and loudly said, "Thank you," kind of indicating she should keep the whole three bucks. Because a buck fifty tip is a whole haul in Idaho, and I was trying to be kind of a big shot.

Now I should probably go back and describe the personality of this super ditsy bartender, but I'm sure she had a good heart, so I'll get on with the story.

The next thing I see is that she drops one of my dollars on the floor, and then she reaches down to pick it up. She brings me back my change, but it's only fifty cents.


Then I look up at one handwritten sign, and it's in Spanish, warning Mexicans to not come in if they're under 21 años.

Then I look over at another handwritten sign, and it says Keystone, $1.25.

Hmm.

This whole instance left me with a ton of questions.
  • Was the real price of the Keystone $1.25, and she overcharged me a quarter?
  • Did she think that I mistakenly gave her an extra dollar, and she stealthily pocketed the extra buck?
  • Does she think I'm a cheap ass because she thinks I only tipped her fifty cents?
  • Is my extra dollar still on the floor somewhere?
  • Did every single one of the above happen?
Hmm. I drank and I left, feeling like I got ripped off, but it's super weird because it was only three bucks, and I was going to give it to her anyway.

Photo purchased from Marina_Ph on istockphoto.

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

People are zombies too, or "I thought you spelled jugs with two g's"

You know when you're a kid and you get so insanely nervous about something that you contort your hand behind your back and grab on to your other arm also behind your back?  And then your shoulder goes all crooked, even though you're trying really hard to stand up perfectly straight, and then old ladies tell you to stand up straighter and it makes you even more nervous and more lopsided?  And then the old ladies angrily bring out a ruler and then you lopsidedly run away?

Well, that's probably not you, but that was me. Picture my gangling self as a kid running away from those old ladies a lot.

In my apartment complex, everyone goes to bed at 9pm. Everyone but me, that is. It's very bizarre actually.

Late one night a few weeks ago, I arrived home at around 11pm. I noticed a tall, very slim figure in between a couple of cars. I watched this figure and noticed one shoulder protruding oddly higher than the other shoulder.  I stopped my car and watched some more. She carried two gallons of milk in her arms, and a bunch of groceries, too. Her awkward, lopsided appearance probably came from attempting to hold way too much.

I should have been chivalrous and offered to help carry the groceries, but instead, I just watched from the safety of my car.

Another of these tall, slender figures emerged, again carrying two jugs of milk and other sundries, again lurching and hunching awkwardly.  And she looked strangely similar to the first woman.

As they walked toward their apartment, all I could think about was how carrying way too much weight strangely contorted their bodies in interesting ways.

After they disappeared into the darkness, I thought, "hmm, those sisters were cute, I should have looked at their faces."

I've never seen those women before or since. I'm not sure exactly where they disappeared to in such a mystical way.  I was left with a ton of pressing questions, most notably this, "What do skinny chicks do with four gallons of milk?"

Photo courtesy of TomFullum purchased on istockphoto.

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Solve it all with Tea!

LahTeaDah and I are guest posters on each others' blogs today. Here's her post, and check out my post on her excellent blog, lahteadah.blogspot.com 
Bad Flu, Bad Hair, Bad Break-up, Bad Attitude - anything adorned with the word “bad”, could easily be cured with a simple sip of Tea, as my mother tells me.  Tea and course a side dish of her mothering “tell me everything that happened!?”

Growing up as a teen many “bad day” stories graced my mother’s ears and of course the world ended every time one of these days would show its face in my life.  From "he said, she said" rumors to Math Class Drama (seriously, when am I ever going to need to know the square root of a circle's circumference) to the famous questions I got at least once a day while petting my hair….. “is it real?”. They say Life can sometimes gives you Lemons and if it does to make Lemonade. Well, I never liked Lemonade; so instead, I’d would use Lemons as sour crocodile tears which my mother could always stop.

As I try to get to the root of how she could work her magic like that, I was beginning to worry that maybe I would need to know how to find the square root of something. DAMN IT I’m screwed! I analyzed every “world ending” drama I pulled…..and I started to see a pattern! We’d always start with a cup of Tea. A dash of Cream and a small sprinkle of Sugar for her and a stream of Cream with a dumping of Sugar for me.  I believe Tea, is the absolute cure all for anything.

  • Stomach Aches? Warm and Soothe it with Tea!
  • Break-Up? Comfort yourself with a cozy cup of Tea!
  • Credit Card Debt? Wash your Stress away with a sweet sip of Tea!
  • Work Over-load? Take a break, visit your happy place and Calm yourself with Tea!
  • Bad Hair? Sip from your finest china, you’ll feel like a rockstar!
  • Cheating Spouse? Make some Tea – extra hot, throw it in their face…you’ll feel a millions times better about the situation!

Tell me something that can’t be cured with a warm, cozy, calming, comforting, eye scolding cup of Tea?

Photo credit probably of the author's mother. This is a picture of the author as a kid, presumably right before being comforted by tea.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Mister who?

Here's an actual conversation I had with a 22-year old.

ST: Hey, did you hear that they’re making an A-Team movie?
PY: A-Team?
ST: You know, that old TV show with Mr. T in it.
PY: Mr. T?
ST: What? You don’t know who Mr. T is? He’s got a Mohawk, he wears gold chains, he’s like the most famous person in the whole world.
PY: Oh, you mean that guy on commercials?
ST: [Silence]

During the lengthy silence, I realized that without World of Warcraft, Mr. T would be gone.

Mr. T is one of those pillars of my childhood. Mr. T is like Pac-Man. Mr. T. is like Star Wars. Mr. T. is like Madonna. Everyone has always heard of them, and everyone always will.

I think I remember a conversation from my Idaho childhood, but it could just be one of those allegorical stories that's still meaningful, and whatever the case, it's still embellished.

Kid 1: Mr. T is freaking awesome.
Kid 2: But Mr. T. is black. [Note that this story is from the 1980's version of Idaho, so this was intended as a huge insult to Kid 1]
Kid 1: Mr. T isn't black, Mr. T. is Mr. T.
Kid 2: [Silence]
ST (silently thought): Mr. T. is freaking awesome!!!1!!

Mr. T. is Mr. T. He's also black, but that doesn't really matter outside of twentieth century Idaho. And, Mr. T is also a nice guy.

And, this man, who I thought was an immortal, he's almost gone.

Photo from Atratus on istockphoto.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

84 cents of tip

I drove through McDonald's a few days ago at 11pm.

The total was $5.16. I gave the cashier six bucks, and said, "Keep the change." He went back over to the cash register, rang it up, and yelled at me.

Are you sure? This is eighty four cents!

"Yes, I'm sure, thank you."

This isn't the first time I've done that, but usually I only "tip" people at McDonalds six or seven cents. I'm gradually tipping more and more at McDonald's.

Same thing with convenience store cashiers. As soon as I figured out that the excess of the Take-A-Penny, Give-A-Penny jar gets taken as cashier tips, I've always put all of my non-quarter change into the penny jar.

I started this a few years ago after I ate dinner at a fancy restaurant.  The bill was about a hundred bucks, and I tipped about twenty bucks. It was just a regular tip for the fancy restaurant. The server never said, "Thanks for the tip," it was just business as usual.

So I thought about McDonald's, and started wondering, "What would happen if I tipped someone at McDonald's twenty bucks?"

Photo from Carol Heesen Photography on istockphoto. If you want me to pay you five bucks for your photo, post me a link to photos I could use.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Beer and aspartame


I once knew a girl who drank her soda with half of it filled with Coke and half of it filled with Diet Coke. I revelled in her audacity, because that mix is the substance 99% of people will find something wrong with. She's my hero because of her concoction.

But this isn't really her story, besides the anti-aspartame folks probably dislike her mixture as much as the anti-sugar folks. This story is the story of aspartame. For those of you who don't know, aspartame is the same as NutraSweet, which is in Diet Coke.

I used to joke and say that aspartame made me bald. It was a joke because I'd never tried it before I went bald. I've always bald-facedly laughed in the faces of anti-aspartame folks. Actually, it's more that I've always thought that aspartame can't be as deadly as people say it is. I try to not laugh at people.

Then I read one of Alobar's posts where he says that aspartame is a poison. It all makes sense now, because now I know how to deal with aspartame.

If you ingest most poisons that aren't immediately lethal, the cure is to drink a lot of water. So, I've decided that from now on, I'll drink at least as much non-aspartame drinks as I drink aspartame drinks.  My days of drinking Diet Coke all day long are over, as are my days of slowly poisoning myself.

Which leads me to another problem that needs a solution. If all you drink is beer, then you'll get dehydrated and get a headache.  You need to drink about as much non-alcoholic beverage as you do beer to avoid dehydration.

Putting both of those together, I'm changing my drinking regimen to only beer and Diet Coke.  Drinking the beer will flush out the poison aspartame and drinking the Diet Coke will hydrate me from the alcohol.

It's nearly perfect.


Photo bought from joxxxjo on istockphoto. If you'd like five bucks for your photo, instead of a middleman taking all the dough, post a link to your purchasable photo on this blog.

Monday, June 14, 2010

A perfect ass


I watched "The Spirit" again a few days ago, and there's a scene in it where Eva Mendez makes a photocopy of her perfect ass.  A few minutes later Eva's backside appears again, unclad.

But, this story is not about Eva Mendez. This is a story from back when I was a youngster, back when I was first starting to notice girls. Or women, in this case.

I noticed this rather large woman. She was wearing jeans. This is one of the first times I remember thinking, "she has a nice butt."  But I didn't have the words for that back then, so about her derrière, I probably just thought, "hmm," and gaped. And, she was wearing very tight jeans.

It was one of those times when a guy just stares at a girl, and only stares at one body part.

Did I mention this woman was pretty voluminous?

Then she turned around, facing me.  Not yet looking up at her face, I was still staring at her nether regions. Something seemed strange though, strange beyond my lack of experience staring at women's crotches or the fact I was ogling her.

Then I gradually looked up her body, to finally face her, and all I saw was hair, the back of her hair. Yep, on what I was thinking was her front side of her body was the back of her head.  Which means...

So, I thought they were fleshy buttocks, but it was just frontal overweightness, defined and accentuated by some overly tight jeans.

Hmm.


Photo from purchased LukeSeall on istockphoto. Send me your link to your purchasable photos, and I'll pay you five bucks instead of buying future ones from istockphoto.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Tu puede vivir sobre el océano


El océano es un buen lugar feliz donde la gente puede descansar de todas las fatigas y preocupaciones. Usted puede ser feliz o por encima del océano.
Hay un lugar llamado el Instituto de Seasteading, y esta organización ayuda a las personas a vivir en el agua, para vivir en el océano. Vivir en el océano comenzará en pocos años. Comience a disfrutar hoy listo. Empieza a prepararte para la vida acuática. Todo boliviano piensa en el océano.

Si usted vive en el océano, puedes lograr cualquier cosa que desee. Habrá un montón de peces. Habrá un montón de agua. Usted puede lograr cualquier cosa que desee.

Usted está pensando probablemente que la gente no puede vivir en la parte superior del océano. Esto es cierto hoy en día, pero en el futuro será verdad que la gente puede vivir en la parte superior del océano. Habrá grandes islas flotantes que se construirá por el Instituto de Seasteading.

Para lograr todo lo que quieras, debe seleccionar una cosa. A continuación, puede lograrlo. Tenga mucho cuidado en la selección de una cosa. Hágase esta pregunta: ¿Qué es lo más importante para usted? Luego pregúntese si viven en el océano puede ayudarle a lograr su meta.

¿Por qué digo esto? Digo esto porque creo que el Instituto de Seasteading es magnífico!

Considere la posibilidad de escribir un artículo o un blog acerca de cómo la vida del océano puede mejorar su vida. Considere la posibilidad de escribir un poema sobre la Instituto de Seasteading.

Aquí está mi poema:

Esta vida es para mí
La vida en los océanos azules
Me encanta el agua y el mar
Y el horizonte brilla el ajuste de los soles.
Para el océano tengo lascivia.
Mientras me siento en Bolivia.


El Instituto de Seasteading probablemente le ayudará a encontrar tus sueños. Sea cual sea su visión para el futuro es, será mejor en el mar.


If you can't read what's written above, then you must not have Google Chrome installed yet.  Chrome will automatically translate pages from another language into your language.

What? You ventured out into the "World" Wide Web" without a translator?

Did Captain Kirk ever boldly go where no man has gone before and ever visit a planet that didn't already speak English?  Only once, and then he kicked the Gorn captain's ass, with a 30,000 carat diamond that he fired from a makeshift cannon.

Did Captain Picard even venture out into the universe without a Universal Translator?  No, never, he always had his Universal Translator.  And he spoke to dozens of aliens that didn't speak English.

So should you either stick to the English Wide Web, which never really existed, or please install Chrome, so you can read my inspiring message that I wrote above in Spanish.

Or, just click here, and you can view this whole page in English.

Adiós amigo.

Imagen comprado a yulkapopkova en istockphoto. Si quieres utilizar tu foto y le enviaremos 5 dólares en Paypal, y luego publicar el enlace a las fotos que puede utilizar a continuación. Además, yo sólo creo que el instituto Seasteading es fresco y por lo que estoy blogueando acerca de ella, eso es todo esto, no es una promoción de cualquier tipo o una solicitud oficial de la donación.

The last Aveeno in the world

There's a tale in my family that my late grandfather invented the best toilet plunger ever made.  Like it had such amazing suction power you'd usually have to replace your plumbing after using it.  But, this plunger cost like $5 to make, so Granddaddy had to sell it for $20, and the hardware stores at the time didn't want to buy it from Granddaddy for $20 to resell it to people for $50.

Instead, the hardware stores bought super cheap plungers for two bits, and resold the plungers to people for a few bucks.  They didn't work, but few things did back in the day.  He ended up selling the plungers to used car companies for $100 each, to take the dents out of cars, and they sold like hotcakes, they were that amazing.

I think everyone's heard a story like my plunger lore, about a product so amazing and better than anything else, that it doesn't exist anymore. It only exists in the past.

That's the way Aveeno Shave Gel is.  I'm bald, so I shave more difficult surface area than probably everyone else.  And, ladies, don't tell me how hard your legs are, because I shaved my legs once, and besides having tons of surface area and taking a long, long time, legs really aren't that hard to shave.

Basically, I'm an expert on shaving.  And to maintain my adept status, I've tried every shaving cream ever made.  And Aveeno Shave Gel is so much better than anything else.  Like seriously twenty times better. It's impossible to get razor burn if you use this shaving gel, even if you use a super cheap razor.

This product did have problems.  It kind of exploded and it rusted so bad your shower looked somebody beat it with an old metal pipe.  But, if you pointed it away from your face, and didn't ever sit it down, it was awesome.

Unfortunately, it's all gone now.  I stocked up the last time I found some months ago, and now I'm down to my last one, pictured above.

I've looked everywhere, Walmart, Amazon, Kmart, drugstore.com, Target, even Walgreens, but they're all gone.  I was hoping they were recalled because of the explosions, but I found a post that says one person found a bunch of them on clearance, and I'm pretty sure they don't clearance explosives.

Tomorrow, I'm going to shave.  And I'm going to use the last bit of the last Aveeno in the world.

And then starting tomorrow, I'm going to join the rest of the old codgers who claim that yesteryear is far superior to today.

Picture credit goes to me. If you'd like me to pay you five bucks for your picture, and credit you here in a future blog, post a link as a comment to the pictures I could choose from for a future blog.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Pork and Beans with Ketchup

"There's enough beans for four men," George said.
Lennie watched him from over the fire. He said patiently, "I like 'em with ketchup."
"Well, we ain't got any," George exploded. "Whatever we ain't got, that's what you want. God a'mighty."

Of Mice and Men is my favorite book of all time. I've read it about ten times, and I've visited a lot of the places in that book.  One of the lines from that book that's burned into my head is when Lennie says, "I like beans with ketchup."  I don't know why I've never thought of doing this before, because I love ketchup. Maybe it's because I don't really cook.

But last night I forgot to eat until it was too late. I called the pizza place and it was already closed. I thought about driving to McDonald's but I was too lazy. I looked in my fridge and it was empty. In a last-ditch effort before I starved to death, I looked through the cupboard and saw them, the beans.  I looked in my fridge again, saw the ketchup, and viola!

So, I recreated the scene from Of Mice and Men as faithfully as I could remember.  I put way too much ketchup on those beans, though.  The beans were pretty flavorful even without ketchup.

Recipe from John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, makes one plate.

Ingredients:
1 can of Great Value brand Pork and Beans with Tomato Sauce
40 ounces of Heinz Ketchup

Instructions:
As an optional step, put the can by a fire for about thirty minutes. Using a stick, remove can from proximity of fire.  If fire is unavailable, either skip this step or use alternate heating method.

Open can with a knife. If plate is available, pour contents onto plate. Liberally squeeze ketchup onto side of beans. Take care to not mix the ketchup with the beans at this point, as ketchup can be overpowering to the natural flavoring of the beans, and everyone likes their beans overwhelmed in a different method.

If spoon is available, eat beans with spoon. If no spoon is available, wait until  no one is watching before you start eating.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The dangerousness of piñatas, and how to survive them

About a year ago, I was at a kid's birthday party where they had a pinata.  Kids love pinatas, maybe more than anything in the world.

There are two problems with pinatas. One, there's nowhere to hang them. Two, they're almost indestructible.

The birthday party seemed pretty benign. We ate cake, opened presents, and then it was time for the pinata. We looked for a while, and couldn't find a good place to hang the pinata, so I offered to hold it.  Then we looked around for a makeshift bat, and found some piece of metal somewhere.  I thought I was safe, and the kids seemed kind of responsible.

But then it quickly degenerated into absolute chaos, and after each kid had had a turn, this small little dude that I'm not sure could even talk, walked straight up to me, and whacked me in the thumb with this metal rod.

Ouch, my thumb still hurts.

Also, kids are unorganizable.  They all want to hit the pinata all at the same time.  As I was reeling in pain, trying to pretend I wasn't in pain, more kids came up and whacked the pinata dangerously close to my aching thumb.  Eventually I dropped it, and they hit the grounded pinata until the cement-encrusted orb finally cracked enough to eek the candy out.

I've seen a couple pinata demolitions since then, and they're probably one of the most dangerous events that normal people can go to.

Here are some ideas on surviving a pinata without hospitalizing anyone:
  1. Don't even think about holding the pinata with your hands.  Hang it somewhere and get away.
  2. Get a real baseball bat, these things are seriously made out of concrete.
  3. Tape off an area, on the ground as the "pinata swinging area."
  4. Only one person in the taped off area at a time
  5. You can't get the bat until you get in the taped off area
  6. If you leave the taped off area, you have to drop the bat
  7. Everybody stands in line and patiently waits their turn.
  8. Have everyone swing only once the first, the pinata might be unlike any I've ever seen, and not actually resemble concrete and break. You don't want crying kids saying, "I didn't get a turn."
  9. Birthday kid gets to swing first
  10. You can't pick up any candy in the taped off area until the pinata is fully demolished
To really enforce these rules, you'd have to have some kind of threat of revocation of privileges, such as that if you break a rule, you can't swing again, but then that's totally against the spirit of kids' birthday parties, so I'm not actually sure how you'd enforce these rules, I just know they're good rules. But, then, you're probably better at this than I am, because I don't have kids, and you probably do have them.

Also, you might want to get two pinatas, and try to break one with a bat the day before the party. Seriously, they're rock hard.



Image from ctermit purchased from istockphoto. Want me to buy your photo for my next blog instead of ctermits's?  Post a link to your purchasable portfolio on this blog. I pay five bucks a picture that I use.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Meatetarian or Plantetarian but not Vegetarian

"A guy I once knew, who worked in a slaughterhouse, used to say that if he kills a cow, it feeds a lot of people. And the cow dies as instantly as possible.  If he eats a handful of sprouts, each sprout is alive and is slowly crushed to death in his jaws."

The quote's from the Food Choices blog by my favorite psychic in New Orleans, Alobar Greywalker.

For a long time, I've had a problem with vegetarianism, too.  Not as eloquently delineated a problem as Alobar's, but eating one type of living thing but not eating another type never sat right with me.

What's the difference between plants and animals? I can't really tell, because they're both alive. Whatever we have that most people call souls, I'm pretty sure that both plants and animals have those things.

A lot of plants don't have as neatly defined of a soul as most animals do. With most animals, if you cut off their heads, they die. You can cut off a lot of a lot of a plant and it won't die. Most animals, at least the animals we see most of the time, the animals depicted on the Noah's ark pictures, fit neatly into cartoonish monogamous male-female relationships.  Most plants don't really fit into a happy family mold. One of the largest organisms in the world is this hill of trees here in Utah, and even though most plants have male and female parts, when's the last time you saw two parent plants with a bunch of little baby plants walking down the street?  Maybe that's why it's easier to eat plants, because they're heathens.

I think I heard once that plants like being eaten. Maybe that's just similar to when bullies beat up kids in grade school and tell them that they like being beaten up.  Maybe plants don't really like being eaten. I'm sure animals don't either, but this is mostly about plants.

I have a lot of friends who are vegetarians, or wanna-be vegetarians, or wanna-be vegans.  Whenever I talk to them, I always wonder what I should call my own philosophy.  Vegetarian is an unfortunate word, because it seems that you'd be a vegetarian if you worshiped vegetation, and if you worshiped vegetables and plants, you wouldn't mercilessly crush dozens of live sprouts to death with your hard pointy teeth. It seems that meatetarian would be a better term for one who worships meat so much that he or she doesn't eat it.

So my similar philosophy, if I were to espouse one, would be to eat only meat. I think I like plants just a tad more than I like animals, so if I were to avoid ingesting some kind of organism, it would probably be avoiding plants.  I'd eat only meat and avoid plants.  Not in an Atkins-y kind of way, because I'd eat everything besides plants, I'd eat as many non-plant carbs as I could find, if those kind of carbs even exist..

So, I'd be a real meatetarian or maybe I'd call myself a plantetarian, to be technically accurate.





Image from mocker_bat purchased from istockphoto. Want me to buy your photo for my next blog instead of mocker_bat's?  Post a link to your purchasable portfolio on this blog. I pay five bucks a picture that I use.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I'm mad that LOCUTE isn't really a word

I knew a guy once who loved the game, but called it Scramble® instead. He wasn't very good at it, and I beat him repeatedly, but he loved the game he called Scramble.

I've been playing Lexulous lately, and it's totally fascinating me, because I'm finally playing enough of this type of game to develop some serious skills. Either that, or because Lexulous has the F* word and all variations in it, so I could finally recreate that scene from Foul Play in real life. You can add about fifty points per game to your game in either Scrabble or Lexulous if you memorize two words, QI and ZA. Qi is an alternate spelling of Chi, probably only used in China, and I have no idea what Za means. The significant thing is QI and ZA are the only two-letter words with Q and Z in them, and those are the highest value letters. And one piece of basic beginning word puzzling advice is to memorize all of the two-letter words, and to start memorizing the three-letter words..

You can add another 50 points to your game if you remember that you can make a two-letter word with 
X and any vowel. Those words are AX, EX, XI, OX, and XU.

There's a problem though. Qi, Za, and Xu don't appear in regular dictionaries. I'm sure they're in super-unabridged dictionaries, and they're in the Official Scrabble Dictionary. But, they're not in normal people dictionaries.

I realized this was a problem, because I used to hate the Scrabble dictionary. I'm not sure why, it might be because someone pulled on me what I'm about to try on my friends. 

I realized it was a problem, because I decided that I need to buy a copy of the Scrabble dictionary, because I wanted to beat my friends by 50+50 more points than I already beat them. Because if someone challenges me on Za in a regular dictionary, I will lose.

But, nobody will play Scrabble against me in real life anyway, so I haven't figured out why I feel this compulsion to buy a Scrabble dictionary.

I recently watched the movie Word Wars, a movie mostly about unemployed people who are trying to be professional Scrabble players.

But the problem is that the winner of Scrabble tournaments only make ten thousand bucks and there are only about two tournaments per year, so a pro Scrabble player only make twenty thousand bucks per year and so there could only theoretically be one of them, one pro Scrabble player in the world. While watching the movie, I could only think about two things. 1) I could be a word freak, I could be a serious Scrabble competitor, and 2) I could pay for and host one of these Scrabble tournaments in Utah, and make about fifty Scrabble freaks super happy.

So if I go further down that path of thinking, I'll probably need an Official Scrabble Dictionary.



Friday, May 14, 2010

They're not Dolls, they're Action Figures


I'm not sure where I first heard the argument of action figures versus dolls. It might have been in a Kevin Smith movie .

Hmm. So Wikipedia finally settled it by saying, "Redressable action figures are sometimes referred to as action dolls as a distinction from those which have all or most of their clothes molded on." Action figures have their clothes molded on, dolls have removable clothes.



So, I guess that means you can turn any action figure into a doll. 




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