Thursday, December 18, 2008

Got a lot of time to read/watch a lot of stuff about food?

Granted, "a lot of time" is relative. Maybe 30-45 minutes, total. Two things:
Consider the Lobster, an article by David Foster Wallace who just died recently and apparently is some kind of good writer, and
Cookbook Peddler, a video interview (in like 8 parts) about a guy who really cares about cookbooks. Oh, and he walloped Barnes and Noble.

The first one is just interesting, and ethically challenging in that animal-rights sense. Read the footnotes (although you can just read them after, you don't have to keep cross-referencing).

The second is cool (go this guy!) because it unites two things I like: small, specialized businesses; and food. It's a little scary, though, because he says, basically, recipes won't work. The whole idea of thinking about food in a "pull" sense (that is, saying "I want fettucine alfredo, so I'll look up a recipe and then go to the grocery store and buy the ingredients") is wrong, and will only further mess up our relationship with food. My current thought is that the recipe way is better than not cooking at all.

Here's a good time to outline what I challenge/encourage you in particular to do about food, now that I've thought about it a little more, and then I'll get back to work: Kick it up one notch. If you're a fast-food-and-tv-dinners type, go to the grocery store and make recipes. If you're a grocery-stores-and-recipes type, go to the farmers' market and experiment. (course, if there are no farmers' markets around, because it is after all December, then go to the grocery store and experiment, but buy organic/local/sustainable/humane/etc food as much as you can.)

Enough about food! It's snowing here in Seattle. Apparently that is rare, but it is also very neat.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

You came to save us...

Hey readers! All of you! I know at least some of you must have Chicago ties. I'm going to visit some friends there in a bit, and I know we'll find plenty to do, but is there anything I just shouldn't miss, you know, like, totally?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Me: Whole Foods's cheapest apples are $1.99/lb, and Safeway's cheapest are $1.50, but for $1.99 at Whole Foods you get organic gala apples, and the Safeway apples are crummy cheap apples.
Jared: Challenge.
Me: What?
Jared: I challenge you to a taste test.
Me: All right, I accept! I can totally tell the difference between an organic gala apple and a cheap Safeway apple.
Jared: What do you mean by "cheap" and "crummy"?
Me: I don't know. Red delicious.
Jared: Whoa hey, don't go into that argumen--
Me: I can totally tell the difference between an organic gala apple and a conventional red delicious.
Jared: Well, that's not the argument, I was talking about an organic gala apple vs. a conventional gala apple.
Me: Oh, well yeah, I bet I couldn't tell the difference between those. But the debate was between the cheapest apple at each place, and I say the organic gala is better than the conventional red delicious.
Jared: That comparison's not fair. It doesn't even make sense.
Me: Why not? I'm comparing apples to apples.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Not worrying about Christmas presents, round 2

Hey, if you're a relative of mine and you want to buy me things, and you've already been over the previous guide for if you want to buy me things, and if you don't think I'm a jerk for thinking more about how people can buy me things than about things I will buy for other people, and you want to buy me some things, I could use:

- shirts (usually large t-shirts, medium real shirts, or 15-1/2 / 34-35. I like loud shirts.)
- socks that are cool (one size fits me, my shoes are size 11. I like loud socks.)
- sweaters/sweatshirts (see: shirts. I like good quality sweaters.)
- maybe even pants (32/32, more or less... ooh, I was looking for some corduroys. pants that are dark colors are neat because I usually ride my bike and mud splatters on them anyway. And I could use some new jeans, even.)
- speaking of which, bike fenders. or rather, a $20 gift certificate to Velo bike shop so I can buy them myself, because they're big to take on a plane.

Clothes are a good gift, I think: I'll need them anyway, and they wear out eventually (or I give them to goodwill) so there's little waste, and there's some personality involved in picking them out.

Does this make me a hypocrite, for hating on consumerist Christmas and then just playing into it? Err... maybe? I think the issue is, people are going to buy me gifts whether I like it or not, so if I'm just like "don't buy me anything", that just makes it harder for them. Plus, me being less hardline on anything is probably a good call, because on the one hand I'm saving the world, but on the other hand I'm being obnoxious to family and friends.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Gluten and lactose

Or "wheat" and "dairy" if you prefer.

It's all the rage to hate on these guys these days. What's the truth? I am open to the following arguments (I'll just use gluten, but they all apply to lactose too):
- gluten is a natural food, it's in wheat, it's totally healthy no problem
- gluten is hard on your digestive system, even if you're not allergic, so we should avoid it if possible (and it sure is possible)
- we've been eating bread for past couple thousand years so it's okay for us
- gluten was not actually eaten for thousands of years; most societies eat rice or corn or teff or whatever.
- we can eat them no problem, but not in the amounts we eat now (like meat), because ______

I am not open to the following arguments:
- some people are allergic to it so it's probably bad for all of us
- we've been eating it for the past couple hundred years so it's okay for us
- it's not so bad, anyway (i don't want to survive on things that are just "not so bad")
- come on, it's bread! shut up you dumb hippie!
- we weren't "meant" to eat dairy because it's food for a baby cow
- man, gluten is like, totally wack. you know? it messes with your internal rhythms, and it's just, it's just not good for you, you know?

If you know something, pipe up! I am interested. If I had enough reason to cut them out of my eats, I would, but I'd need to know they're more than just the fad of the month (see: fats, carbs).


I saw a beggar today with a sign that said "I bet you $1 I can guess the state you were born in." She looked about my age, not super shabby, and I heard her asking some other folks "Can you spare some change so I can get a Greyhound ticket to go home?" I was intrigued by her sign, I figured she was probably just a good guesser and most people ended up giving her a dollar anyway. I asked her what state she thought I was born in. "You were born in a state of infancy." It was worth a chuckle. I gave her a dollar as un-condescendingly as I could.

But it made me wonder. I don't usually give money to beggars because of the ol' "they'll just spend it on booze" argument. I didn't think she would spend it on booze. (oh, and she was young and white. I'm sure that had nothing to do with it.) I started to wonder how much I could make in a day, if I went begging, and how much an old black grizzledman could make in a day. What if I was all sharp-looking? What if I got all shabby and dirty? What if I juggled, or offered to juggle? (it's a fine line between begging and street performing) If I was friendly, or if I just sat back unintrusively? If I acted superior, or super humble?

Might be a nice way to get to know a different walk of life. (of course I would give the money to other beggars or something at the end of the day.) (and of course this is the kind of thing I'd talk about but never actually get around to doing) I just somehow want to humbly say "look, folks. I know I'm not one of you. But I don't think I'm better than you."

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Jewelry companies

Preface: this post makes no sense after my last one. Whatever, it's on my mind rather heavily, so I gotta spit it out.

My dad forwarded this video to me and my mom and sister, because it's funny, etc. (don't worry, Dad, I had this post brewing for a while before you sent me this.) Ugh, it's like 5 minutes long, so I'll spare you: a guy gets his wife a vacuum cleaner for Christmas, she throws him in "the doghouse", which is an actual place where clueless unromantic men go and they can never get out, unless they buy their wives diamonds.

Obviously, I should have seen the punchline coming: it's all an ad for JC Penney's jewelry counter, and I will only mention them by name (and give them free publicity) so I can rail on them.


Let me back that statement up. Of course this ad campaign is silly and over-the-top. I mean, look at the "how to get out of the doghouse" page. But we laugh at this, and the idea is still implanted in our minds: you have to buy your wife jewelry. Some ad campaigns are a little more serious, like one I saw on Black Friday, which I don't entirely remember, but it was something like "What would you do for love?" with a picture of a diamond. And some are more subtle. Fill in the blank:
A diamond is _____
Yeah. Right. You know how to finish that sentence. Thank De Beers. It's a cultural thing now! They've just created this market! And now a bunch of lily-livered men go out and buy their wives diamonds so they don't get put "in the doghouse."

So it's a good ad campaign, fine. Why is this worse than, say, Coca-cola? They're good at ads too, and they're making the world fat. But diamond ads are worse than Coke for three reasons, and many (most?) jewelry ads are guilty of the third:
1. Blood diamonds
2. Monopolistic business practices
3. They're preying on love.

And it's 3 that really gets me. Isn't that sacred? Can't we just agree that men and women loving each other is not okay to mine for advertising opportunities? Aren't we past the age of "the husband has to buy the wife pretty things because he's the big breadwinner"?

Isn't it really pretty scuzzy to implant into men the idea that "yeah, we know she'll still love you if you don't buy her jewelry, but maybe... just maybe... she won't find you quite so alluring... and maybe she'll get mad at you, or maybe not, but maybe she'll develop a thing for that sexy flashy high-roller at the office, or... I mean, not saying your wife would ever think something like that... just sayin'... well... you wouldn't want to test it, would you?" And then implant a nice societal faux pas on trying to break this system, ("Honey? I'm not buying you a diamond for Christmas because I don't want to support an insidious machine.") because it means you're cheap.

Third-to-finally, I wish I were a woman for 15 minutes so I could post this without just being accused of trying to avoid buying diamonds at some point in the future.

Second-to-finally, a source... did you notice that 80-minute documentary I posted at #2 up there? (ironically on a diamond seller's website...) I think I've seen this before, in Mr. Hess's 12th grade economics class, and I think it's a pretty good watch, if you have 80 minutes. I understand if you don't, I never do. It got me pretty convinced that De Beers and the diamond industry (more or less one and the same, at least back then) are really quite awful folks.

AND FINALLY, okay, NOW I'm done with hard-line rants for a while. I am all spent on righteous indignation (and generally tired, besides!). Thank you for reading, thank you for bearing with me, I love you all, enjoy the holiday season, and I actually do mean that honestly.

Chilling the &@*^$ out, again, again

I was thinking a bit. I think I've gotten a little too argumentative here on this blog and in life.
(not that I don't enjoy your comments. Please, I love talking with friends/family/whoever about topics I like! But sometimes I find it's adversarial, and that kind of wears on a person. Plus, sometimes I'm a jerk.)

Like the food thing. I want people to slow down their food more, to cook more, to eat more healthily, to buy local/sustainable/organic/humane/etc food, for a lot of reasons, but we can't go from fast food to farmers' markets overnight. So I'll stop looking down on your supermarket produce just because it's not THE MOST l/s/o/h/etc. and think, awesome, you're buying produce. (I will still look down on your big mac. :P)

And! You know New Years' resolutions? Here's mine. It's a month early. I resolve not to fret so much about Christmas presents. I will try to buy you something that is sustainable/unique/local/etc. AND non-commoditious, but I won't freak out about it.

And same with you. If you feel the need to buy me something:
1. You don't have to, really, obviously, but we're all older than like 11 now so I know too that giving a gift is for the giver and the receiver, so:
2. Really, the best gift you can give me is an experience, and preferably with you, and especially if I don't already hang out with you all the time. Heck, let's go to dinner somewhere, (or let's cook dinner!) or even just a caffeinated or fermented beverage (because it's a nice excuse for a conversation).
3. You know I like things that are sustainable/not-big-corporations/unique/good-quality/etc., so if you want to get me a thing, I will most likely enjoy it more if it is one of those.
4. But all that said, whatever you get me, I will thank you and enjoy it, and I will NOT worry about how it's just one more piece of plastic going to a landfill or whatever.

I'm not going to take all the fun out of Christmas presents by ponting endlessly in some philosophical realm about what is a "good" or a "bad" Christmas gift. That can wait until next year.

(oh, but I do have something to say about jewelry ads! Damn! Well, I'll post about that, and THEN I'll stop worrying about it.)

Bloggin' too much: Supermarkets!

Okay, so I'm a little hard-lined on food. I think you should buy the best (read: localest organickest humanest sustainablest) food you can, and farmers' markets are the best way to do that. I figuratively cringe a little when I buy, say, onions from the grocery store. I don't think the food crisis can be solved by the supermarket.

Mark Bittman does, though, and that's encouraging. I would like to think that the food crisis can be solved by people buying broccoli instead of meat at the supermarket. (ask me why sometime, it's kind of exciting) Better living through home cooking AT ALL, not just home cooking of organic local sustainable cage-free free-range grass-fed food.

So maybe it's worth it for me to take a softer-line stance. I mean, farmers' markets are still the best, but grocery stores (the produce section) are the "better", and making some change is better than none.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A little politics but mostly late-night delusions

First of all, Guantanamo is/was so bad, but you probably already agree. (China is pretty bad too!)

But more entertainingly, last night I felt all sick and stuff, went to bed at like 10, woke up at 2 and lay awake for an hour. When you're feverishly lying awake at night, sometimes the goofiest thoughts pop into your head. For example, I kept going in circles on this one:

Why was Smash Mouth such a bad band?

I mean, their first CD was really pretty good. And "Walking on the Sun," despite its heavy rotation in adult-contemporary stations, is a quality song. (debate if you want; I won't back that assertion up unless I need to) And then what was even so bad about Astro Lounge? Sure, you heard "All Star" too much too, but "Then the Morning Comes" was pretty good. It had a nice bridge and everything. The rest of the CD was pretty fun; safe for kids and adults alike, maybe, but that doesn't necessarily make it bad. The rest of the CD was more or less varied, from their upbeat pop opener with clever lyrics about aliens "Who's there" to laid back "I just wanna see" to reggae curiosity/disaster "Road man" to kinda-weird "Home." You know, a good effort and all. All right, when they ended up with a cover song on a Shrek soundtrack I kinda lost interest, but before then...?

Call it Barenaked Ladies syndrome. Guilt by association. Or call it "why the hell was I thinking about this at 2am?!"

Monday, December 01, 2008

Okay, politics again.

So, because I'm a flaming liberal, granola, dreadlocks, organic, etc, I think that when a whole lot of people are being murdered maybe we should step in and help. So does Obama's new UN Ambassador. Thank god. Don't get started on how this fits into whether the US should be the world's police or whether we should have invaded Iraq or whatever; I don't really care. Brain off, heart on for this one. Plus I'm at work and therefore not debating right now.

Recipe Challenge: fail.

Orgh. Three rounds in the ring with chocolate, cayenne pepper, and asparagus, and a winner is not me. It's really just that chocolate is difficult. Here's what I came up with, although you can do better by looking up any "vegetable burrito with mole sauce" recipe, I'm sure:

onions and garlic
a handful each of asparagus (diced), corn, black beans, rice
oregano, red pepper, cumin, salt
green onions and cilantro
some chocolate (I used about 40g)

Saute the onions in oil, add the asparagus, corn, beans, and rice. Saute all that, add the spices, then the green onions and cilantro.
Melt the chocolate (double boiler it yeeeee) and mix it in with everything. Note that you cannot thin it with milk or it will get all milky and not what you want for mexican food, and you cannot thin it with water or it will seize up and get solid again! And chocolate itself is really thick! Maybe you should roll it up in a tortilla first, then drizzle chocolate over it.
It's a little weirder than a normal burrito. I mean, it's tasty, but it just kinda tastes like chocolate. Or spicy chocolate.
What kind of chocolate do you use? I tried regular baking chocolate (unsweetened) and found it too thick/boring/rich or something. I actually liked it better with dark (70%) chocolate, but again, it just tastes like chocolate.

At any rate, I'm done with this. I'm open to suggestions, if you'd like to give it a try. (the challenge was: make something with chocolate, cayenne pepper, and asparagus.) It's taken me forever to try this again, for which I apologize to Julie and to you, dear reader.

Okay, now, Julie, back at you: lemongrass, honey, and spinach/lettuce/a green of your choice. (if you can't find lemongrass, i guess ginger would be okay...)

Sunday, November 30, 2008


Wow, so many posts to write, and so little time. I mean, in the grand scheme of things. Let's start out with this quick one:

BUY MORE STUFF is a fantastic protest I saw outside the malls on Black Friday* yesterday. (let's just say I love my family very much, and their coming to visit is just about the only thing that would bring me anywhere near a mall on black friday. Yes, family, I'm aware that you are a full 50% of the readership of this blog, and that we really didn't spend too long there.) I'm thinking about joining them on their other Buy More Stuff days. The one thing I'm worried about: do people not get it? I mean, they have to. Right?

*I guess "Black Friday" means "the Friday when retailers get 'in the black'." Maybe it is that. It is also an awful awful day. I was packed in by hordes of people all the time. Some parents yelling at kids, etc. Stuff like this makes me want to do a big thought experiment (pow!) about what it is about modern-consumerist-Christmas that is broken and how we can fix it. Coming soon!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

In which Jared and I talk about commodities, but really it's just me

What's a commodity? Jared and I were discussing this. I've figured it out. This post might be full of highfalutin hand-waving and making up words that don't exist. Just pretend I'm a literature critic, and we'll all be cool.

Idea #1: things are not commodities. Is a paperback copy of The Omnivore's Dilemma (check it out, product placement) a commodity? You could say yes: it's always the same, no matter where you buy it. You could say no: it might have a lot of meaning, there's some art and some science that went into creating it, it's a valuable good. Let's settle this:

Things are not commodities. Requests are. Let's say a request can be commoditious (made-up word #1) or not.

Then a commoditious request is one that a relatively dumb robot could fulfill on a relatively idealized version of

If my request is "I want a new paperback copy of The Omnivore's Dilemma", that is a commoditious request. A robot could do it in two seconds. If I say "I want to read a good book" or "I want something thought-provoking about the food system", a relatively dumb robot could not do that so well. If I want "a new Roomba," a robot could do that on; that's a commoditious request. If I want "something that cleans my floor the best," that's not commoditious (okay, that's kinda a crappy word*).

*oh zing oh snap no pun intended check it out shut up.

And it's a spectrum: let's say a robot would need a level of intelligence between 1 and 100 to fulfill a request. Then the commoditiousness of a request is 100 minus the intelligence of that robot. (Omnivore's Dilemma: he'd need about 2 units of intelligence to look it up on That request has a level of commoditiousness of 98.)

If something is stylish or unique, that's less commoditious (a robot could not find you "a nice hat.") Less stylish, more commoditious (a robot could more easily find you "32W/32L basic blue jeans"). If something is hard to find (a Joe Shlabotnik rookie baseball card), it's less commoditious.

Why am I talking about this? Because Jared challenged my (and countless other White People's) love of mom-and-pop small stores. So here's my rationale: stores that fulfill less commoditious requests should be small businesses. Store that fulfill more commoditious requests should not exist. (, or another internet giant, should run them out of business.)

About the less commoditious requests: you want people who care to be behind these things. I want a bookstore owned by someone who likes books and who could maybe recommend me something, or talk about books with me. I want a bike shop owned by someone who knows bikes and who can advise me what kind of bike I should get, not because it maximizes his profit margin, but because I'll be a happier customer. I want to buy food from a farmer or a fishmonger or a baker because they care enough not to put industrial chemicals into their food.

The more commoditious requests? Let the robot shop for them, and let the robot send them to me. I just need a simple pair of scissors. I don't want to pay a bunch of shmoes to stock the scissors on the shelves and ring me up at the cash register and advertise in the Sunday paper. Economy-of-scale it up, send me a pair from the warehouse nearest me.

Other side notes that maybe I'll explore later or maybe not:
- Christmas gifts should be as non-commoditious as possible
- Wal-mart shouldn't exist at all
- People should strive for fewer commoditious wants
- and of course, why don't I apply this to FOOD and see what comes up. Bet it's snobby!

Monday, November 24, 2008

"Is is"

People unnecessarily start sentences with "so" a lot. Particularly math professors. This is a funny quirk. Is it a nerd thing? Maybe when you get all mathy and intellectual, you find the need to pause before sentences to make sure your sentence is logical. I hear you there; I do that too. You don't hear carefree happy-go-lucky folks saying "so" a lot.

Here is another funny quirk. Sometimes people say "is is" when they mean "is." For example, overheard just now:
"My concern is, is that..."

What! Why do you do that?! Why doesn't anyone ever notice? This is really strange!

Of having a reputation of unfriendliness representing your city

Seattle, is it me, or is it you?

Life is mostly pretty good here. Work is back on the rockin' track where I love writing software, there is an abundance of nice places to go and cool events, and the weather is still nice most days. This weekend was really super fun, great, and did I mention great? And some wonderful people are moving out here soon.

But it's been hard to meet new friends. Okay, I expected that. But now I'm wondering if it's my fault or not. I imagined it was. But talking to some people who have moved here recently, many of them say the same thing: Seattleites are not welcoming. Not that they dislike you, just that they won't go out of their way to make you feel welcome. And it's been true: all the friends that I've met here, or at least a big most, have moved here relatively recently, or at least are not natives.

So this seed of doubt is sown. Now, I'm not going to harvest that weed; I'm not going to go out and join the chorus proclaiming "Seattle people are unfriendly!" Odds are, you get this in any city. It takes time, no worries.

And lest ye readers think me socially weak, and lest I allow my inner optimist to fail, I posit this: it's a good thing. It means that Seattlers are slow to make friends and slower to lose them. It seems like a pretty fair cold-weather-city thing around the world: fewer friends, but they're better. I'm all in favor of that. I'm always the one trimming the social circle, of splitting our group of 16 into four groups of four, of telling my freshman dormmates no you cannot all tag along for dinner because nobody can seat a table of 12. I imagine Seattle's doing that to me too, and whenever I find my niche, the friends in it will be more aligned with my personality and more interesting because of it. The forecast shows a couple more awkward months followed by meeting a lot of people I particularly dig.

Let's see how it pans out.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Of having one kickin' song representing your city

I was watching the Of Montreal show tonight and I was all like "ehh rock shows are so lame" because I was tired and standing up a lot.

Interjection: this is not at all a fair criticism. If there's one thing the Of Montreal show is, it's not lame. It featured a half-dozen dancers who played, at various times, golden statues, tigers and other animals, armymen, western gunslingers, and one big stone monster with huge limbs. There were a double-digit number of costume changes. The music is of course great, and they didn't half-ass anything. Plus I have a big man-crush on Kevin Barnes. But then, who doesn't?

End interjection. (that is not possibly the wright word. Nor is "wright" the write word there. Hoo boy, it's laght at nite.) So I'm all like "ehh" and then there's the encore and I was really thinking of skipping out before the encore, fatigue blah blah, and they Gronlandic Edit and Oslo in the Summertime, which were both cool, and then they cover Take Me Out, har har, okay. Then Kevin (so dreamy, etc.) says "we mean no disrespect by this next song. only love." and there's that chik-ah ka-chik-ah ka-chik-ah ka-chik drum riff and they go into Smells Like Teen Spirit. Hah! I took out my earplugs and like bobbed along a little bit! Which is saying a lot, considering how still I had been standing.

And it kicked arse! I suppose it is kind of one of those songs. And it's ours! Seattle's! I lay claim to it as if I were a native. Hah. But man! Maybe everyone thinks of Seattle as the home of the Grunge Rock Hall of Fame, and grunge kinda drags in general, but at least we have Smells Like Teen Spirit. Whoo!

Saturday, November 15, 2008


How does one get into electronic music? I've happened upon it a couple times, like Decibelfest, and the Seacompression event last weekend, and it's always been a lot of fun. I would like to dance to that sort of music more often. I would like to learn how to make that music. I would not like to go to a sweaty club full of bros wearing shiny shirts and girls wearing not enough clothes. I also would not like to wave glow sticks around.

I have absolutely no inroads. I don't know anyone who might even know anyone who likes electronic music. (at least, not that I know of...) I imagine if I just show up at a club, I'd dance around for a while and leave, because it's not like you talk to people while huge beats are thumping in your ear, so that doesn't help. And there aren't any "learn to DJ" classes around. (I've looked.)

Seattlers! Where do I go to dance to electronic music? Where do I go to learn to DJ, or mix or spin or do whatever they do when they're like playing a gig? Other folks! Do you like electronic music? How did you get into it originally, then?

Also, on a side note, can you explain what the main subgenres are that I should look out for (and maybe a couple of quintessential examples of each so I can listen to them and see what I like)? Like, I dunno, "techno", "house", "drum and bass", ...? I do know I like Orbital, the Prodigy, Mylo, Crystal Castles, Prefuse 73, Boards of Canada, and Kraftwerk, if that helps. Oh, and Girl Talk.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I am The Coldest

Geez! I am so cold! I got in like 15 minutes ago and I'm still shivering. I remember being really really cold only a couple times: once, when I was picking up prickly balls that my grandparents' tree dropped in their yard (this was a chore for some money to pay for saxophone repairs after I threw it on the floor in a fit of rage); once in marching band at the St. Patrick's Day parade when it was so cold out and I was way underdressed and marching in a goddamn parade so it's not like I could go inside or anything; once at Seven Springs, PA, when I was skiing, alone, with the CMU Ski Club (I was again way underdressed) and the snow was icy and it was at night and visibility was bad and the wind was blowing but goddamn I was going to get every last run I could out of that hill (this was a bad call). Why am I so cold? I just biked home from Phinney, maybe 5 or 6 miles away, downhill like hardcore, except I stopped off at my friend's friend's house (although, now, friend's house), and it was cold too, and oh my god it's like 15 more minutes later and I am still so cold.

(my temperature is 95 degrees, so at least I don't have a fever. Maybe I am turning to ice.)

Oh my gourd I might add this to the list of "Times I was so cold." I am so so cold.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Haircut, honesty, and other words with a silent "H"

I got a haircut. I shake my head and it doesn't move. However, at least it's not in my eyes, and it will probably be great in a few weeks. I swear, if I ever become a stand-up comedian, my only routine will be about the haircut questionnaire.

"What can I do for you today?" umm... cut my hair?
"How would you like it?" awesome. I would like my hair to look awesome. Sometimes it does. Sort of windswept across my forehead and a little curly in the back, as if to say, I don't care about hairstyles, but I was just like windsurfing or, I dunno, mountain biking, or something else badass.
(awkward pause)
Okay, I guess I know how I would like it: shorter than it is right now. But not too short! Ohmygod not too short! Do not cut my hair too short! I like preserving this little vestige of counterculturalism by having hair that's a little ruffy at the edges.
At this point it's either "okay" (and they cut it too short) or "well, how much shorter?" uhh... a half inch? Three centimeters? Look, I don't know. It just used to be pretty good, maybe two weeks ago, and now it's too long and in my eyes.
Oh, and this part! You know, I always part it at like 40% across my head. That's unintentional! See, I've been experimenting. Some days, I've gone with 50%. It kinda makes me look like a grade schooler. Some days, I go with 20%, or even 10%! Then I look like a coolman for sure! Or maybe a combed-over businessman. Yuck. Hey, by the way, I don't want to look like a businessman. I cannot think of an occasion in my life where I would like to look like a businessman.
Even more generally than this part, though! I would like to experiment with my hair. Do something crazy! Something wild! I mean, not like a mohawk, or a buzz cut (I like it longish), and I don't want to put hair products in it, and uh, well, I don't know. Something different?
(puzzled look)
Umm... okay. Just cut it shorter. *sigh*

See, what I should say is "cut it like a hipster," except nobody would know what that means, because no real hipster with a hipster haircut would ever admit that their haircut is a hipster haircut.

On another note, which is actually related, albeit tangentially, it's come to my attention that I've written a few posts/comments/etc. recently, playing the devil's advocaat. I should stop that. This blog should be about my thoughts, not "what someone might someday think of my thoughts." In fact, my life should be more about what I like, not how I will respond if someone criticizes what I like. A little less self-preserving hipster irony! It's too tiring!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Whoo hah!

This is great!

Sound Transit Prop. 1 passed, meaning light rail is coming to Seattle!
The levies for upkeep of Pike Place Market and parks both passed.
The HOV lanes nonsense failed.
Governor Gregoire is projected to win over Rossi (still too close to officially call, though.)
Still pulling for Randy Dorn and Peter Goldmark, two minor state officials who were notably better for their spots than their opponents, but their races are very close with about half the votes in.
Dems picked up seats in the House and Senate. (I guess that's good?)

Oh. And, uh, That One.

I will say I'm super excited about all this, and then I will not talk about politics for like a year. But man, I'm super excited about all this!

On election day, I have this to say:

Calm down. If Obama wins, don't get all bitchy.

Hey, I saw that! Your smile! It got all smug! This applies to you too, Democrats!

I figured one nice thing about Obama would be that maybe if he runs, or wins, half the country wouldn't hate the other half of the country. Well, I don't know how that's turning out. But please, no matter how this all goes, no matter who you support, take a lesson from grade school (one that I had just as hard a time learning than you, I assure you) and win and lose gracefully.

Friday, October 31, 2008

And as long as we're talking about ... anything ... let's talk about the election because you're not totally sick of it yet.

How the world would vote on the US president if the whole world could vote on the US president.

It is a small sample, sure, it's only of people with internet access who went to this site, and the Obama fans are probably sending this to their friends a lot more than the McCain fans, but it's super overwhelming. It's 86/13 Obama. Counter the sample effect and maybe it's 70/30 Obama. (or maybe it's 60/40, or maybe it's 90/10, who knows! It's probably not in McCain's favor though.) At any rate, voting for someone that the whole world likes sounds like a good idea. Making international friends is good, especially as we (maybe) go from being the world powerhouse to being only one of the world powerhouses.

Also, Fox News doctors photos. THIS IS NOT OKAY THIS IS SO NOT OKAY THIS IS TERRIFYING! I don't know, maybe this is a common practice among news studios. If it is, point me to some other examples. But the fact that Fox News, with all its claims to be a reputable news source, and in fact one of the leading US news sources, would stoop to such a dirty trick to subconsciously demonize some people who wrote bad things about them... this is evil propaganda shit. This is evil evil evil. Oh my god this is so evil and not okay Fox News should be taken off the air immediately.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

As long as we're talking swear words, let's talk sex too.

Ooh! Double the fun, controversial topics. And double the being-a-crazy-hippie. I was born four decades too late. Except I like showers and not acoustic guitars.

The question: should people be allowed/encouraged/neutral to have as much (safe) sex as they want?

Now bear with me. I realize even posing the question is a little Victorian of me. But let's draw a parallel to eating: at one time, sex and eating were both essential to survival, and the more you did of both, the better. Now we can eat as much as we want. Should we? No. Also, we have enough time and energy to have sex as much as we want. Should we?

My straw-man "no" argument: usually, doing the "natural" thing is pretty good. At least when it comes to your body. (see: eating) Safe, frequent sex requires condoms or some other birth control (even between two healthy loving people... babies, etc.). That seems unnatural. It'd be like if we were eating as much food as we want, but we took diet pills so we didn't get fat. If nature has designed us in a certain way (that having sex makes babies), shouldn't we avoid sex unless the possibility of babies is involved?

My "yes" argument: Well, frequent (safe) sex doesn't seem to hurt. And in a lot of (most? some?) cases (that is, where two people are really in love), it really helps. And sexual repression does seem to hurt (see: the Victorian era, Puritans). It seems like regular sex is beneficial to physical/mental/emotional/or some kind of health. Plus, why not?

I guess where I come out of this "thought experiment" (pow!) is a resounding "yes", if you are two people in love, and you're being safe, go ahead and do it as much as you want. It just bothers me a little (only a little) that Modern Science (inventor of high fructose corn syrup, thalidomide, and the Atkins diet) has had to come up with the latex condom for us to be healthy in this way.

post script: okay, on second thought, maybe we've just evolved too fast. Up until 100 years ago, (200? I dunno) having lots of babies was good. Now, with worldwide overpopulation, having lots of babies is bad. That's only 100 years! We wouldn't evolve to be less fertile so quickly (especially because, in evolution, reproduction is weird... those of us that did evolve to be less fertile (despite being good to the greater good) would not survive because the super-fertile ones would out-populate them. tragedy of the commons n'at.). This doesn't really bother me anymore. That's why this is a postscript: if I included this paragraph in the main essay, the essay itself would be rather pointless.

I'm fucking goddamn shit ass frustrated!

Argh! I would kind of like to get out and do fun things, especially as Halloween is around the corner. Check that: I would like to meet fun people, or rather, meet the kind of people with whom I became really great friends with in Pittsburgh (and Cleveland!) and THEN go do some fun things. As it is now, I don't know what I'd even do. Anyway, I'd like to get out in the world and sort of get my 20's started, you know, that decade where you (supposedly) make a name for yourself and have some fun too before you have kids and start living their lives.

But I'm sick! The heck of a cold kind of sick that's been with me for a week and a half now and shows no signs of going anywhere! Wellness Formula pills be damned! I'm so hydrated I feel like a fireplug, I'm sleeping 17 hours each night, and, uh, I'm not licking doorknobs. I mean, I'm supposed to be in good health, with an almost-perfect balance of eating healthily, sleeping enough, and exercising daily. What have I done wrong?

Well. Whining about how I'm sick, or how I'm bored because I'm sick, isn't going to get me anywhere. So instead, I'll talk about swear words.

Okay, point #1, what's the deal with swear words? You know, "shit" and "poo" and "feces" mean the same thing (as do "fuck" and "copulate") but you can say some of them and not others. Okay, yeah, it's silly that a certain combination of sounds is not okay to utter. Fine.

Let's just deal with the world-with-swear-words-in-it, instead of rallying for their demolition. (we can do that later, but it might accidentally take a lot of fun out of life.) The reason I started thinking about swear words is because my dad called me out on it, said he didn't know when I had gotten so vulgar. (ouch. when your dad says, semi-disappointedly, "I didn't know you had gotten so ___", where "___" is a bad quality, it hurts.) I got to thinking about it: why do I swear on my blog (and in real life)? And do I mind?

First question: why do I swear? Part of it is subconsciously to fit in-- nobody doesn't swear. Friends, acquaintances, coworkers, my boss. (as for the last, I've made sure to notice instances when he drops f-bombs casually in meetings-- he sure does. never angrily or anything, just "well, if this happens, we're fucked" or something like that.) Everyone swears. This is okay. As long as they don't mean it in a bad way, I don't care what words they use.

And the other part? Because I can, maybe? Like it or not, swear words are the last magic words we have; they give you the ability to instantly inspire a certain feeling. Is it crass or cheap? Maybe. Maybe if I were an eloquentman, I could toss out a polysyllabic zinger that meant "fuck" without actually saying "fuck." Maybe everyone would look at me like I was from the 1800's. Sure, if you overuse swearing, you sound dumb. But sometimes nothing fits the bill better than dropping your jaw, standing there a minute, and going "well, fuck me!" Sometimes it becomes a personal hallmark: I think I've created the phrases "balls dammit" and "are you fucking me?" (translation: are you joking?) and I love saying them both. Compound swears (cockbadger, crap-in-a-hat, my Moroccan friends' "shit fucking good food", etc.) are usually funny. And I don't think this makes me particularly juvenile. They're just a few more very powerful words in your ol' wordbag, and they should be pulled out if the scene (improv or no) calls for it.

Second question: do I mind? Do I think I should stop swearing? Nah. I don't even do it that much (maybe I do it more on this blog than in real life, because I get angry more in this blog than in real life, but even in the blog, I haven't cursed more than once or twice in as many weeks). Maybe it's a kinda lay-off thing: dear culture, let adults smoke pot if they want, let them have sex with whomever they choose however they choose (if it's safe)*, and don't tell us to stop swearing. So yeah, Dad, I don't want to be confrontational. I guess I'm just a little more freewheeling (west coast software engineer) than you were at my age (midwest lawyer). That's okay for both of us.

* hoo boy, thinking about this opened up another whole bag of fish.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Now, Michelle, you're contradicting yourself.

Inbox today: "There's never been a more important time to support this movement for change."

Well, it beats McCain campaigners, who are apparently robocalling and spam-texting more nonsense about Obama and Ayers.

But this is pretty awesome. Because McCain is just throwing out all the usual dirty tricks, and Obama doesn't care! His lead is widening! Or rather, the voters don't care, and they're seeing through all this politics-as-usual nonsense. Assuming the votes stay as they are (knock on a big ol' tree that McCain and Palin would gladly cut down), this could really be a turning point in campaigning and maybe even politics. Or maybe I'm off on an idealism streak again.

Going to Pittsburgh in a half hour! If you know any good iphone games or anything, let me know, I've got a long flight or two. Wheee!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I did a thing!

Google Analytics just launched a lot of features at a conference called eMetrics. Here's a post about it, from a totally independent blog, that apparently has like a lot of readers and stuff. I'm responsible for part of it! (maybe I don't have to be oblique about this, I dunno, whatever, but the exact thing that I did is not the point.) Part of a sentence of this article (in this post from a super big deal blog) would not have been written, if not for me.

I still can't demo what it is that I did, because it's not out in the general public (only for some special people who signed up for all the new features), but pretty soon, I will be able to point you to a site in Analytics, and be like "click this, I did that, it is a useful thing that you can do now that you couldn't do before, and like 92809890483097 other people can do that too, and maybe like 1% of them actually want to do it, but that's still 928098904830 people, and their lives are all a little bit better, thanks to me." And I started work almost exactly two months ago. Hey, you should go into software, it's a pretty cool business. Better, you should work at Google, our products launch really fast.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Old fudd hears new pop, enjoys it; also, Boogieman

as I do every now and then. (see, as most pop is aimed at like 15-year-olds, I am way old for this demographic. And I'm still at the age where I will be proud whenever I can call myself old. (Actually, I hope I'm like that my whole life.)) Apparently "American Boy" by Estelle featuring Kanye West is already a super-mega-platinum hit, but I just heard it for the first time. Good song! Maybe it's just the chorus. What can I say, a catchy hook, huh?

Other news: super sandwich eaten before they could measure it. Jajaja.

And go Devil Rays!

Okay, and Boogieman: the Lee Atwater Story. (warning: link starts a video which makes noise) The story of the guy who wrote the Republican playbook of mudslinging campaigns and underhanded Machiavellian tricks. This guy is terrifying! He's so ruthless! And all his tactics are still in use today: if you say "Obama pals around with terrorists" a lot, even if it's not true, people will associate "Obama" with "terrorist", and that's what McCain and co. are trying to do. Argh!

See this movie, it's pretty worth it. And think twice whenever you say you think so-and-so is a bad dude because you might have heard it from somewhere.

But instead of just going "Republicans are so evil!" which is what this movie will make you believe, I'd like to hear the other side. Is there a Democrat Lee Atwater? Is it more of a committee or something? Is it just that Democrats are more reluctant to fight dirty, and sometimes lose because of it? Or is it just that Republicans are slimier? If the last is true, then geez, vote Democrat all day long, because even if you agree with the Republican goals, the ends don't justify the means in this case.

And one more footnote: Lee Atwater is an interesting guy, or at least the movie makes him out to be. Even though his actions were pretty dirty, they don't portray him as this great Satan. Instead, he's just an insecure kid who got a chance to play with the big boys, and ultimately becomes this tragic anti-hero. And whoa, he reminds me of Sam McUmber. I think it's the hair.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A really appropriate dream

I was on stage in a Scotch'n'Soda show, and it was some adaptation of Shakespeare or something, and I didn't know my lines. Well, that's not true, I did know my lines. I just realized like halfway through the show that I wasn't sure if I had ever read the script. But I was doing fine. Everything I said just happened to be the right thing, even though I was improvising. But I was worrying that the next thing I say might be wrong, but then I'd say it, and it'd be fine.

(Huh! Sounds like my life right now. But let's hope it's not prophetic:)

Then there was a scene where we pretended to be audience members, and we would all shout out stuff, and I wasn't doing so well there. Then there was intermission, and the tech people all had to come fix up the stage, and I kept getting in everyone's way, especially Ankur and Matta. (sorry, guys!) And then act 2 didn't happen.

Uh oh. Oh well, like I said, going fine so far. And, doomly prophecies aside, that's the best I can hope for.

Speaking of Scotch'n'Soda, I'm going to Pittsburgh next weekend! (The only Scotch'n'Sody thing I will do is watch their show.) Weird, I first wrote "I'm going home next weekend." I guess it's because, if you picked my family up out of Cleveland and transplanted them, there would be nothing homelike about Cleveland for me. Anyway, I'm super excited!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Barack-campaign, I have caught you in a lie!

Quote from my inbox today:

You already know how it feels to own a piece of this incredible movement. Will you watch the video and -- when Barack needs you most -- make another donation of $25 or more?

Quote from my inbox, September 30:
The need for your support today is more urgent than it will ever be.

Ah! Granted, the first one was Michelle Obama, the second was David Plouffe. But Barack-campaign, make up your mind! I'm afraid the need for my support has already been more urgent than it is now or will ever be, so I am not donating again. (I did donate the first time, though, cynic though I am. Partially because I have the same warped mindset as everyone else, that somehow my vote will count for more than 1 if I pay for it. Partially because I wanted an Obama T-shirt.)

Still vote for him. But pay some attention to your local politicians! I'm thinking of setting up a table somewhere and handing out candy to people if they will discuss state and local politics with me. That way, my vote can count for way more than 1, in races where it will matter a lot more. First order of business, though: I need a table. Seattlers, if there are any of you reading this, would you like to join me? (and do you have a table?)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Google Analytics is great

and not just because I work on it. Thanks to GA, I've been able to find that people have searched for the following things and landed on this humble blog. If any of these are you, thanks for making my day a little brighter, thanks for stumbling on the Snail Shell, and you're awesome at searching.
super disclaimer: nothing is personally identifiable. nothing. all I know is "someone searched for these things." I work at Google, and I probably couldn't figure out who you are, and if I tried, I would probably get fired. We are so all-about privacy, it is not even funny.

"Hyland Software" salary -- i probably shouldn't post this, but if this was you, let me know and i can tell you
"Oedipus Rex and the Motherfuckers" -- twice!
"Where the hell is Matt" "spoiled kid" dancing -- yep, that's pretty much my entire life
lucid dreamer summit county colorado -- ... and that's my ideal life.
Boyles bar slane -- who are you? were you there? that's awesome!
dress code at Hyland Software -- t-shirts and shorts. it's a software company.
in der yablons -- remember WASP?
Oedipus and the Motherfuckers -- close, but no cigar
Buses in Donegal -- hey, they're pretty weak, you should maybe rent a car.
rambutan circus jarred snail -- four unrelated things. what could this query be about?
"wenis mcgee" -- not quite a googlewhack... this guy also used those two words. i hope this was adam, though, bored late one night.
snail shell poetry -- good luck!
snail shell (for cars) -- it's not so useful.
is there another name for a snail shell? -- err, maybe?
snail shell nutrients -- Oh god, no! Stop! It's crunchy and it doesn't digest so well-
what is a snail shells door -- they, uh, don't have one, they just live in-
why snail shell is living things -- well, it's sort of like your bones, they're not living, but they're part of this living thing...
why snail have there shell so hard -- I have no more answers.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day: Poverty

It's blog action day! The theme is poverty! I'm sick of blogging for today, so I'll just shout out to Kiva. Hey, I was just going to donate there, but it looks like everything is just about funded. What's up? Are they out of people who need loans? If that's the case, I imagine they'll get more soon enough. Geez, this is the most dysfunctional Blog Action Day post ever.

Let me try again. Hmm. Poverty. I don't really have any big ideas on the issue. Greg Mortenson does, though, and after reading that book about him, I'm pretty convinced that he's doing a pretty good thing. I think I blogged about it before. He's building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Kids can go to those schools and learn how to help their people out of poverty. (also, they won't go to the radical madrassas who will pay them to become angry fundamentalists. whatever you think about the USA's "war on terror", fundamentalists aren't great no matter how you slice it, and education helps prevent fundamentalism.) Throwing money at a problem won't solve it, but if you throw money at the Central Asia Institute (Mortenson's foundation) and they build schools for kids, maybe that will solve it.

At any rate, I don't want an argument about whether the Central Asia Institute is going to save the world, or whether they're The Best place to donate money. They are doing some good, and let's leave it at that. I'd just like to say that my personal Blog Action Day thing to do is to donate some money to the Central Asia Institute, and I'd encourage you to do the same. It's a tiny gesture, but every little bit helps.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

... because everyone knows I hate gay people on the internet

Oh my god, oh my god, if you don't get the context of the title line, it's an inside joke from summer 2006. I do not hate gay people. I like gay people as much as any other people. I absolutely think gay people should be allowed to marry: maybe your religion doesn't allow two dudes or two ladies to get it on, whatever; but separation of church and state etc, and legally there are benefits to being two people who want to spend their lives together, and it's not fair if some people are oriented* towards that other person being the same sex. Hell, the state should only allow civil unions for any couple, straight or gay. "Marriage" seems like a religious term, and the state shouldn't worry about it.

*I am accepting as an axiom that gay people don't "choose" to be gay. If you disagree with that axiom, either we can agree to disagree, or you can show me evidence that it's false (I have yet to see any), or you can meet some gay people and talk to them and maybe you will be convinced.

OKAY! Now that's out of the way, we can get on with the content of the post. (note that most of the time, people who have to say that they like gay people, or that they have gay friends, actually don't. Please take this post as an exception to that rule.)

Huuggh. Right. The issue: adoption. Now, in the current world, I say hell yes, let gay people adopt, because orphanages exist. If there are two loving men or two loving women who want to give a poor kid a chance at life by bringing him/her up in a family, why are we stopping them? Even someone who thinks gay people are weird should agree that some parents are better than no parents!

BUT! Say the world were different. Say there was a shortage of babies, and a surplus of parents who want to adopt. Should we give equal adoption rights to gay and straight couples? I say no, from the perspective of balance. Men and women are different, and having two perspectives on life, from two people who are different in one of the most fundamental ways that two people can be different, is better than having an overly masculine or overly feminine perspective. Yin and yang n'at. Are there exceptions? Sure- there are tons of gay couples who would be better parents than straight couples. But, all other things being equal, I'd vote to give the kid to the man and woman.

Why am I even posting this? This is apropos of nothing: it's not like I'm in an argument with someone over this. I guess I'm feeling a conservative backlash, because I'm getting sick of politics in general. Hey, diehard Obama-ers: you're no easier to take than diehard McCainers. Okay, maybe a little easier to take because I agree with you usually. But still, there's a lot of smugness and sarcasm, and if I were a McCain supporter, I would say fuck off! There's no way you'd convert me to vote Democrat with the kind of attitude I've been getting. Give me a soft-line approach, or an argument that doesn't demean the other side, and I'll give you more than six seconds of my time.

So here it is: my little dash of conservatism. Of course I'm still supporting Obama- please vote for Obama. Today's reason is because McCain is super anti net neutrality, and Obama is for it- but geez Obama folks, lighten up!

(... aaaaand I just alienated 100% of Seattle. I do not think I have met a Republican here. Yeah, great, we Emerald City dwellers are the enlightened ones. But don't get smug about it.)


1. Two friends, with whom I interact on a regular basis (although independently of each other), are loud eaters. Arrgghh!

2. I spit on the ground sometimes while I'm riding my bike. And I blow snot rockets out my nose.

Now, #2 is much grosser than #1. But nobody has to put up with me expelling bodily fluids onto the pavement. And have you ever ridden a bike in cold weather? I swear, all the moisture in your body condenses in your nostrils. So I'd say it's justified.

This has been gross/not-gross! What do YOU do that's gross?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Recipe challenge, round one

Fans of the formerly-at-CMU-but-now-not blogosphere may be familiar with the recipe challenge between Julie and me. If not, a quick recap: person A picks 3-5 ingredients, with which person B must make a dish. Then person B shall pick another 3-5 ingredients, and so on.

Julie's first challenge: beets, yellow mustard, angel hair pasta, cinnamon.

I'll walk you through my mental process to make it sound like I am a totally sweet chef: Okay, angel hair, first. So, noodle salad, or noodles and sauce, or noodle casserole, or noodles with something on top. Options "sauce", "casserole", and "something on top" all don't mesh with beets in my book, and certainly not when you throw in mustard and cinnamon. And angel hair doesn't have much flavor, so anything goes with it.

Beets are sweet. They're kinda like apples. Apples like cinnamon. Rock on. But yellow mustard? Dearest Julie, how cruel. I was tempted to substitute some mustard seeds and go Indian (with the cinnamon) because I'm on an Indian kick and mustard seeds are fun to cook, but she did say "yellow mustard." Yellow mustard! Some pedestrian Plochman's French's Heinz junk mixing with the furious beets and lithe noodles. Huh. I won't stand for this! I bought a little jar of Colman's (of Norwich) Original English Mustard, which must be better because it costs more.

Okay, so we have this noodle salad (sounds so much more enticing than "pasta salad") that's gonna be sorta appley sweet with beets. Toss in a cucumber for more crunch without changing the flavor much. Break the pasta into small pieces so it's easier to eat. We have our food. Now for the sauce.

I don't know from sauce, but I do know that you can mix oil and vinegar and get a sauce. Plain vegetable oil (olive oil sounds awful here) and apple cider vinegar (there are the apples!). We need mustard and cinnamon, so throw them both in. How's it taste? Hmm. Uhh... hm. Now the culinary hero in me says "it's sweet, it's tart... it needs something to balance the flavor towards salty and meaty... soy sauce." The actual me just says "I like soy sauce," and pours some in.

And it's pretty good! I would eat it again! I might even make it for guests! But I have no taste buds. Please, make it for yourself, and tell me what you think; I'm quite interested.

And Julie! Round 2 is cranberries, squash of your choice, milk, and peas. Ooh, that might be bitchy. In keeping with the fun spirit of things, of course, cool recipes are more important than necessarily using all of those four particular ingredients. The gauntlet is thrown, take it up at your leisure.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Happy Fall Friday!

The sun is shining, the brewhouses are making pumpkin ale, football players are getting fined for celebrating*, umm, leaves are turning colors, Traders Joe is stocking novelty decorative gourds, people are buying haystacks for the first time in their city-slicking lives.

(*NFL: lay off. Geez. Take a lesson from Usain Bolt and let the players have a little fun.)

Fall is here, it's nice, and it is super nostalgic. It's the season of high school football, weekend trips home when you don't like your current existence (I'm talking about college, not now), trick or treating in your nicely-sized 60-house neighborhood, awkward dates at high school dances (boy if I had a dime for every time some writer picked up THAT tired theme...), things burning, the Panther Hollow bridge a good view, listening to your new ipod as you walk through dark Shadyside streets, new opportunities! classes! plays! and you're not sick of it yet, your family putting out Halloween decorations, sweatshirts, baseball games and the smell of hot dogs in the air before you knew that hot dogs are terrible things to eat, pumpkin picking at an actual farm where you get as many pumpkins as your dad can lift, running up and down stairs so you'll be "in shape for ski season", and I dunno, chestnuts roasting on an open fire or something. Wait! That's not till Easter.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

O Internet, you fail me!

For once, I know what I want. A duvet cover. Queen size. Solid lime green like #00FF00 none of this fake lime stuff if I saw a lime like this I would throw it away. Either organic cotton or cheap as hell, because it does not touch me. My luxurious bamboo sheets caress me so gently the duvet cover could be made of porcupines. This is entirely decorative.

Do not also sell me a duvet; I already bought this bag o' synthetic fill from a couple of honest but incorrect garage salers. They told me it was down I only found out later it was not down it was more like synthetic like from a polyester not a duck. NO SHAMS what is a sham I DONT WANT ONE. No sheets, or three-piece sets (of which two are undoubtedly shams), my sheets experience is complete but for a duvet cover.

O Bountiful Internet, get me a lime green like duvet cover now or I may be forced to do something tragic.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

In the real world, you don't have to take work home with you

... so I don't. But I take my mental state with me. Wow! On a good day, I can go run a hundred miles after work! On a bad day, I can barely slink back to bed and curl up with a mug of tea. (or "Macafe", this bizarre root product I found at the Madison Market, which sure doesn't taste like coffee. it's not a bad taste, but it isn't coffee.) The Peter Bjorn and John album has helped my bike rides significantly.

It seems better for mental health to drop everything at work. Come on, zen zen zen. Oh also, I've been meditating daily (almost... probably 6 days/week) for ... 2 1/2 months? No real progress there, but patience patience patience, right? Fellow meditators: do you find that you sit down and time flies by without you actually focusing on your breath at all? I don't mean I get distracted from it, I mean I never get there in the first place.

If you know how to cook Indian food, I'm always open to tips, recipes, ideas. That's my new culinary venture. That, and a cooking contest with Julie.

At any rate, welcome to Relocation, Month 1.25. It only gets easier from here. (and in 2 weeks and 2 days I get to go back to Pittsburgh! not to say that everything is bad here; it's just difficult. a couple months from now, i'll be cruising along in this brave new world. for example: there is an awesome coffeeshop on every corner. i can count five places within four blocks that i can get killer coffee with atmosphere. how neat is that! if starbucks tried to start up in seattle today, it wouldn't have a chance.)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

It's called "mudslinging"

and it's awful. Chill out, McCain and Obama! And here the blame falls maybe 50/50. I'd say it's 60% on Obama, because of his big push once upon a time to unite people, not divide them. But then, yeah, there's this "Obama is friends with terrorists" nonsense from Palin. What?! Haven't we moved past this? What's next, "Obama hates white people"? "Obama burns flags and also babies"? Come on, McCain campaign, as long as it's a knock-down drag-out war, why don't you come out and say it: "Obama is a Muslim. And all Muslims are terrorists."

But I guess the answer to my earlier rhetorical is no, we haven't moved past this. *sigh* And I guess I'm not helping here, by calling out McCain on his negative ads. This post is as partisan as any.

We need Jesus to run for president. Turn the other cheek n'at. Plus, he'd sure get the evangelical vote. At least, I hope.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Contacting voters inobtrusively

All you readers are pretty political. At least, some of you are. I have a question:

I'd like to try to convince people to vote for Barack Obama. But I don't want to go door-to-door, and I don't want to call people. It's a matter of principle: I HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE telemarketers, and like it or not, calling people for Obama is just as annoying as calling people to sell them a thing. Same with going door-to-door; it's a little nicer because you get some human contact, but it's still bothersome. (almost. maybe 75% as bothersome. still more bothersome than I want to be.)

What should I do, dear readers? I'd like to email voters, but that's as insincere as it gets: it'd just be a form letter. Plus, I don't have an email list. Another option is standing out on the street and talking to passersby if they look interested in talking. Actually, I'd like that: stand out with a sign that says "Talk to me about voting for Obama" or even just "talk politics with me!" and people can talk to me if they want. Basically, I want an opt-in, not an opt-out, method of convincing people. It seems more civilized that way.

The Best song length?

This guy wrote an article claiming that the optimal length of a song is 2:42.

It's a nice argument, but it's wrong, and I present one solitary but irrefutable bit of evidence:

"Our House" by Madness clocks in at 3:23.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

The ups of edit/test/debug, and the downs of being That Guy

Let's start with the downs, so we can end on a high note. I was That Guy twice tonight. No, not that That Guy, or that That Guy, or... well, nevermind. That's not very descriptive, is it? I mean the wimp-out guy. The guy who doesn't want to do a thing.

First I canceled plans to meet some friends on the East Side, because it was far and buses and waah waah. To be fair, it is far, and I don't have a car, but that's not really an excuse. I think, if you're going to go carless, you have to be willing to get around on your own (via bike or bus), or else you become That Environmental High-and-Mighty Guy. Anyway, I felt kind of bad about that. Being the wimp-out guy just undercuts everyone else's plans. It's hard enough to make plans to do a thing these days without people undercutting your plans. Sorry, friends I was going to meet on the East Side!

Then I went to a swing dance, actually went to it, and then wimped out. I mean, I guess having no swing experience beyond a few moves Jared was kind enough to show me doesn't help. But I should have realized how ill-prepared I was; I could like stumble through a basic lindy hop step (or "swing-out", I guess it's called) which is fine if you're dancing for 8 counts and then stopping, but it makes it pretty painful to try to dance a whole song. I'm signing up for a class (or at least trying to; they still haven't gotten back to me) and after that I'll give it another go.

Argh! So, on to the brigher side of life: work is pretty fun. I say only "pretty fun" because I haven't actually programmed anything world-changing yet; other than that, it's a blast. Now that I feel like I can make changes somewhat competently, I'm just going to town. Hacking and slashing code wherever I want. (Sorry to the rest of my team if it's getting obnoxious!)

And every line of code I change, I can compile and run it, and then see my changes happening. Edit, test, debug, repeat hundreds of times. It's really thrilling! It's like Legos: I'll build a few blocks, then build a few other blocks over there, then click them together. Hey, it looks good, cool. Whoops, it broke, let's pick up the pieces and start again. I think CS is an unusually lucky field in that you get so much instant gratification. If I were an engineer building a bridge, I'd have to wait until the whole thing was done before I could see if it worked or not. Or if I were a biologist with some cells in a petri dish, I'd have to feed them and stuff, and then weeks later they could get bumped by a carelessman, and then you're ssssssssunk!

But programming is like eating candy. Make a change, get an M&M. Make a change, get an M&M. Make a bigger change, get a little fun-sized 100 Grand bar. Every two weeks, get a Payday. It's pretty great. You should try it.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

I'm unsatisfied!

Grump grump grump! I wanted Sarah Palin to drop an f-bomb or something! (... still, more on that later) Instead, it was a bunch of 2-minute stump speeches. "What did they say that was different, really? ... There's all this talk about change, change, change. It's all gimmicks." I guess that's bad, if the only reason I'd watch a debate is to hope for a meltdown.

Maybe it's because I (like you, probably) don't follow local or state politics, really. It's just this one shot every 4 years, and by the time you have enough consensus to have half the country behind you, you have to be this inoffensive boring person. Glenn Beck wrote an article about how partisanship is the death of everything, and also you should follow politics more often than the Olympics. (I support the first half of this article, and not the second)

Tom Robbins seems appropriate, as ever:
"As any of the learned professors would explain, plied with sufficient tequila, no matter how fervently a romantic might support a movement, he or she must eventually withdraw from active participation in that movement because the group ethic- the supremacy of the organization over the individual- is an affront to intimacy.
As for magic, there's none at all because the aim of any social activist is power over others, whereas a magician seeks power over only himself: the power of higher consciousness, which, while universal, cosmic even, is manifest in the intimate. It would seem that a whole human being would have the capacity for both intimacy and social action, yet sad to say, every cause, no matter how worthy, eventually falls prey to the tyranny of the dull mind.
Dullards can put a pox on the most glorious moral enterprise by using that enterprise as a substitute for spiritual and sexual unfolding. Finally, it is dullness and not evil that begets totalitarianism, although some... go so far as to contend that dullness is evil." - Still Life with Woodpecker, chapter 53

I think this is appropriate. Maybe it's just a case of me agreeing with every zany thing Tom Robbins says, and forcing a quote where it doesn't really fit. Either way, with two-party politics, I am dissatisfied!

So vote Obama, but don't do it just because he's a Democrat. Or vote Tom Robbins. Or Optimus Prime, or Mickey Mouse, or Richard Nicklaus Hoesdown. I don't even know anymore. I'm voting for a good night's sleep.

Man, this is weird.

You know how sometimes you'd just really like to hear a certain song or album?

All day, I've had this urge to listen to James Taylor.

If I'm ever making fun of your music, just claim the nostalgia defense, and I will stand down immediately.

Well, it could be worse. My dad could have been into Neil Diamond and Barry Manilow.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dear top 1%: deal.

This graph is pretty striking. Okay, it's nothing new; it says that the democrat's tax plan will help poor people more, and the republican's tax plan will help rich people more.

Maybe there are economic reasons to favor the republican's tax plan. Trickle-down economics, blah blah. Read those books, draw those supply and demand curves. But listen: I am almost in that top quintile. (source: Wikipedia, shut up.) Suppose I were. Suppose I got a surprise raise, and I was making $88k.

Eighty eight thousand dollars! I am now in the real world, so I know how far that goes.
Right now, my budget includes enough for me to live in a swank apartment in a big city, travel wherever I want, max out my 401k, spend $100/week on entertainment/fun/whatever, and still have thousands left over at the end of the year. And I'm not even making $88k.

At this point, even if a severely progressive tax were passed, I would not be whining about disincentives, or slacking off because "my raise wouldn't be as big." Living as a single man in the top 20% means you're living large.

Okay, okay, at this point you're saying "but what if you had kids to feed???" Fine, throw in a wife and two kids, and bump me up to the top 5%. $157k. I might have to scrimp and save a little. Say, move a few blocks out of the trendiest part of town. Maybe take two transoceanic trips instead of three. Buy note pads instead of scrawling shopping lists in Sharpie marker on Andrew Jackson's noggin.

So you folks in the top 1%, don't give me this nonsense about how "I deserve most of the tax cuts, because I pay most of the taxes." Suck it up a little bit. And take off your Ivy League sweatshirt before you tell me "I'm a self-made man, and I got here because of my own hard work." Because I'm a self-made man who got here because of my parents' support, the right interests (CS) at the right time, and only a tiny bit because of my own hard work; I will soon be one of those paying most of the taxes; and I'm willing to sacrifice a bit to help our country solve its huge huge problems.

(vote Obama, and vote progressive taxes!)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Good day to you from a Monday in which I'm doing better than last Monday.

Whew. Let's just put that little episode behind us. (although, semi-relatedly, I do have a thing to say about swear words, but that'll take some more time to formulate.)

Quick thought, and yes it's about a thing I put into my body, just like every single other post I ever post. Today it's coffee. I've noticed a pattern where, for a day sitting at my desk, a cup of coffee is like turning the key in the ignition: I'm sleepy before it, and I'm rocking all day after it. If I go halfway, like some tea, or a half-decaf cup of coffee, it doesn't help, but once I hit that threshold, boom, off to the races.

This isn't ideal; I don't like the idea of any chemical dependencies. But if we're just talking one cup of coffee a day, can I rationalize myself into it? I think so. It's a pretty natural, and mostly harmless, dependency. Plus, it helps me concentrate and work better. And I enjoy it.

(I guess that makes me more a white person. But hey, I like Trader Joe's and riding my bike, too.)

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Again, not my style. But my mom and my dad are now both pretty concerned about what I wrote about my job the other day, and if they're both thinking the same thing about something, maybe it's true.

And I guess if you read this post in isolation you might get way the wrong idea. I would hate for anyone, particularly at Google, to think certain things about me based on one bad day.

For the record:
- Google is by far the best company I've ever worked for. Okay, I haven't worked for many, but they're really great.
- I am lucky to be working there.
- Starting a new job is hard. Moving across the country is hard. Sometimes I get stressed. Sometimes I blog about what's bugging me.
- That post was written on a bad day. Maybe it's a little angrier than it should be. I'm sorry.

Most importantly, if you have a problem with something I've written, or you think I have an attitude issue, for crying out loud please talk to me. Please. Odds are it's just a misunderstanding based on the fact that the INTERNET is bad at carrying emotions. (it's great at denoting sarcasm though.)

And I'd like to ask you, blog readers, do you think I say too much on this blog? Is it a little too prickly? Unprofessional? I go pretty much without review here, so it's possible I'm being a jerk. And was that post in particular a little whiny?

Oh! Homesickness.

I found myself meeting lots of fun people, in a cool setting, drinking a tasty drink (that included Zwack Unicum!) and yet not having a good time. This was cause for a bit of self-questioning.

I emerged from the bout of questioning moments later with a simple answer: I'm homesick. I mean, of course I miss many particular people. (if you're reading this, you're probably one of them.) I knew I would. But I also miss the feeling of being home, you know, of being with family or friends or people around whom you can be yourself. Where you can make an inside joke (because really, friendship is nothing but inside jokes, but that's another conversation). Where you don't have to start every conversation with "what's your name?" Where you can say, hey, it's Friday night, I would like to do a fun thing with people I love, and then go do it.

I guess I'm more homesick than I was in Maastricht, because we all knew that was temporary. Most of my friends would still be there when I got back. I would still be home when I got back. And even at CMU, I was still only a couple hours from home. Okay, that was tougher. But still, there was a community set up for me; it just took some time for me to adjust to it.

This is a whole new thing on two levels: I'm not going back home, and I have to make the community for myself. Huh! That's a double whammy.

But still, I'm just homesick. Oh! Okay. Well, if that's all it is. In a sense, knowing that (or even, becoming mindful of it) makes it easier. In another sense, it doesn't, because there's still that issue that it doesn't end until I create a new community for myself.

Here's how I would like the state of my mind to be:
*humm* mindfulness mindfulness mindfulness *humm* so I'm not constantly surrounded by friends, so what? that's okay. *humm*
and it is that way sometimes, but not always.

Anyway, as we're jumping around, I agree with Rolf Potts in this interview.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Windows. Really?

Windows Se7en? Really?

Dear Microsoft Branding and Logo Team,
1. I hope I don't have to point out to you that the thing that comes to mind when I and most people think "se7en" is a really gruesome horror movie.
2. Was Vista that bad that you need to cover it up with a new "version" (read: upgrade, costing hundreds of dollars) already?
3. Where did you get "7"? By my count, even if you only count major consumer-facing releases, you have Windows 3.1, then 95, 98, XP, and Vista, making this Windows 8. If you count NT, ME, 2000, 2003, etc, you have a lot more than 7.
4. Oh my god that spells "sezen."

*huuuhhh* publicity on the internet

There's been some concern about recent things I've written being public. That is, my mom wrote me an email worrying about how public my rants about work are. To which I promptly responded "geez, Mom, I KNOW!" And then I thought about it, and I guess part two (in which I wonder if software engineering is really the job for me) could be misconstrued.

Some would go back in and delete that paragraph. That's not my style. First of all, people have already read it; second of all, it's on the internet, so it's still there somewhere; third of all, I'm not going to censor myself above and beyond the regular, sensible censorship I already put myself through.

Instead, I'll clarify, you know, for the sake of my manager who happened to stop in here (hi!) (<--note I didn't even say hi [my manager's name], because if you knew my manager and my location, maybe you could find out our organizational structure, or something else confidential, see, I'm not as dumb as I look) : It's not like I'll just put in the hours, grumble about work, and then go home and drink to forget it all. For chrissake, I care about what I do. I hope Google knew that about me when they hired me. I'm pretty sure Google wouldn't have hired me if they didn't. And I care about the company too, and if I thought I wasn't doing my job well, I'd fix things until I was. I'm pretty goddamn lucky to be working for a company that I care about (especially considering there are like 4 corporations in the world that I'm pretty sure aren't evil). And my coworkers are pretty cool.

But I'm not sure if software engineering is the life for me. Who ever is, after a month on the job? Right now, I think it is; I think I'm doing fine, and after I get all acclimated, I'll be an all-star. If I'm not, that'll percolate up to the top of my consciousness, and I'll change things. I just don't want the rest of my life to fly by me in the meantime.

Anyway, this might be a good time to explain my privacy policy too. I'm pretty outspoken here, which is the beauty of the internet. Maybe you, my friends, do not want to hear my latest thoughts about why Kraft, Perdue, Cargill, and Monsanto are the four horsemen of the apocalypse. If I shout it out here, loud and proud, you can tune in or not. Similarly, maybe you're halfway across the world but would like to hear the juicy details of everything I do: you can opt in to hearing me. But I do have some guidelines, so here they are, in 7 parts:

- I try not to call people out by full name. If someone searches for "Dan Tasse", they'll find this page, which is fine, but if they're searching for "Joe Bloggs" and my most recent post is "hahaha Joe Bloggs got so drunk last night", that may not be so good for Joe. (I'm not shy about booze, parties, etc. I don't party a ridiculous amount, I'm not irresponsible, and it is in fact legal for me to drink. In fact, I even drank before I was 21! Yessir! However, Joe may not share my outspokenness, and his employer may be a fire-and-brimstone stick-in-the-mud, and I don't want to get Joe fired.)

- Nothing confidential. Duh. Ooh, except here's the secret of PageRank!

- Nothing about love, dating, relationships. If you'd like to talk about it in person, that'd be great! Manly man though I am, I dig a good conversation about girls and feelings. But I'm not going to livejournal it- I'm not a whiny teenager. (Okay, if you go back in the archives, you may find a couple references, fine. Want to dig through my love life? That's not creepy at all.)

- Nothing illegal. Big brother is watching you. No, really: I'm as paranoid as anyone about our warrantless-wiretaps patriot-act government.

- Nothing dangerously personally identifiable. It's okay for you to know that my name is Dan Tasse, I live in Seattle, and I work for Google. Much of this blog might not make any sense without a little bit of context. But I'm not going to tell you where I live, or the fact that I live on the first floor, and I keep the door unlocked, and I have an actual bag full of gold coins with a dollar sign on it.

- Nothing I wouldn't tell a stranger. My friends will never have to censor their conversations with me because of my blog. I'm not dumb. My friends (also of the facebook generation) understand this.

- Finally, privacy policy part 7, c/o xkcd.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Here's hoping you don't become a robot/

EDIT: please read this and this.

clang clang clang whoops, too late

God! Today was a fog! I am posting this right now to give some concrete proof that today even happened! What a crapper!

I slept through work, like all day, just zonk, and I was mentally unconscious even if physically responsive. My total output for the day was half a test and a one-line bug fix. I talked to humans for like five minutes at lunch. I drank five cups of tea (it was good tea, but I didn't even taste it) and ate some crappy pistachio snacks. I think I've gotten to the point where I don't just eat out of boredom anymore, now I go to the bathroom out of boredom too. Honestly- it was like hourly. I was amazed that I had any liquid left in me, but what the hell, go to the bathroom again. There was a fire drill! I almost provoked a chuckle with a lame joke about how our team is going to win the fire drill; that was the humor high point of the day.

And now I'm home, and forgetting about work. Hargfh! I've got to start working 9-5. Screw the dinner- it's fantastic, but getting home at 7:30 is too late. Blahness is the worst calamity at all, but it's not even, it's just the most blah.

But the occasional boring day is not a big deal. I'm just a little worried that I'm not at all cut out for software engineering, and I'll just put up with it for a while (because all the perks are great) and then I'll wake up all of a sudden and be 30. I made a pretty awkward comment about that yesterday, in the company of four 30-year-olds.

Uhhhhhhhhhhh I gotta get off the computer. Uuurgghh.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Register register register register register

Let's flowchart. I have no drawing tools. Okay.

Are you registered to vote? yes --> okay, you can stop reading.
do it now
Did you open this link? no --> OH MY GOD OPEN IT.
Did you register to vote? yes --> okay, you can stop reading.
Seriously, do not close this page until you have registered to vote. Do it. Time is running out. I think. (I don't really know much about registering to vote, but you might have to do it 30 days before the election, which is like a week or two away.)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I can lock all the doors, it's the only way to live

Is it?

All this talk about fuel economy standards, battery-powered cars, hybrids, goddamn ethanol, emissions regulations, hydrogen cars, fuel cells...

Where's the talk about owning fewer cars?

See, even if a car had 1000000 miles per gallon, I wouldn't want one. And I wouldn't want to live in a world where it would put me at a (more) significant disadvantage not to have one.

Even if a car had 1000000 miles per gallon, you still have the negative environmental impact: large swaths of land cut out for building roads, huge hunks of metal required to build the cars, graveyards full of dead cars, oil, antifreeze, batteries, all the rest of the stuff besides gas that goes into a car.

You still have the negative personal impact of cars: suburbs. These McMansions on McEstates with all the spread-out-ness and personal separation that that entails. You say cars bring people closer together by letting people go places; I say what if the cars->roads->suburbs didn't bring people apart in the first place? Strip malls. Grocery stores. Factory farms. Megachains in every industry: Best Buy, Borders, Bed Bath and Beyond. Cars allow everyone to own their own big plot of land, and everyone owning their own big plot of land makes everything less efficient.

And you still have the negative health impact of cars. We're fat blah blah blah. Nobody walks or bikes anymore, etc. Well, in a sense, I don't blame them! If your supermarket (and therefore nearest source of food) is 4 miles away, no wonder you don't walk there every time you want some milk! But still, the fact remains that nobody DOES walk. ("we'd take a limousine 'cause it costs more")

Granted, cars have their purpose. But life is better without them. Unfortunately, living without them often requires a huge paradigm shift, the first part of which is moving to a city. So I'm not asking for a grassroots burn-your-car campaign; some people just can't do it. I'm asking for a top-down solution in this, because it's the only way it'll work.

Government leaders: give us more public transportation! Subsidize bicycles as well as hybrid cars! Quit with this whole ethanol kick! Do everything you can to move towards more consolidation, not more sprawl.

Give us the freedom to live without cars.

post script: Obama at least mentions "transit-friendly communities" and "public transit." Please vote for him.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Okay, first of all, Bill Nye is great.

UNRELATEDLY, here's something that's particularly chafed my willy the past few days, weeks, whatever: doublespeak. I think I'm misusing the 1984 concept a little bit, because they were all about just saying lies, like calling the war department the Ministry of Peace. What I mean is a little less blatant, and actually happens all the time. Let me explain:

Regardless of what you believe, or what's true, you can spin things two ways. Let's take drilling for oil in Alaska. I have a clear stance on this! (it's bad!) And if I were at a cocktail party with my more leftist friends, I could be all like "Yeah, drilling is a bad idea. It won't even help the economy, and it'll totally mess up the beautiful Alaska wilderness."
But if I were at a cocktail party with, say, my dad and grandpa, I could say "You're right, we need to help the economy! It's the worst it's been in years! And reduce our dependence on foreign oil! Therefore we need to drill for our own oil!"

If I didn't know you, I could spout truisms either way to make you think I believed anything, on any issue. Even on less important issues, like a new restaurant.

And I find myself playing both sides of the same issue. Like I test the waters one way, then turn around and argue the other side, or the first side, or whatever YOU think.
Me: Yeah, I went to that restaurant, the food was pretty good. (test the waters)
You: I didn't like it. (shit! retreat!)
Me: Right, yeah, it wasn't great, and the atmosphere isn't great either. (test the other waters)
You: Yeah. (oh! you agree!)
Me: It was overpriced, too. And hell, why go there when there are so many other awesome restaurants around? (pile it on! I super agree with you now! We are friends! File this in my brain: you do not like this restaurant!)

This is kind of frustrating. I feel like I'm losing my individuality. Am I just some dude who agrees with everyone on everything? But that's kinda a whiny little complaint, and it's a quirk of my personality, and it's not important. What's more important (and frustrating) is POLITICS, in which they do this all the time.

A recent example...
McCain: The economy is strong! (let's test these waters)
Everyone: AAAAAGH Lehman Brothers AIG Merrill Lynch! (shit! retreat!)
McCain: I mean, the American workers are strong! (a truism. I can agree with that!)

But let's not get all liberal smug. I mean,
Obama: I'm going to pull out of Iraq. (people will like this, right?)
Half the country: Don't do that! (shit!)
Obama: I mean, I'll refine my Iraq plan, and do the right thing. (yes! doing the right thing is good!)

Everyone does this about everything! There is no truth, or even consistency! (welcome to American politics, right?)

SO. Next person who criticizes my man Barack for "flip-flopping" gets punched. Every politician does this all the time. And even if they didn't, I'd rather have a president who can change his mind sometimes.

Unrelated quick rants:
How can Bush's approval ratings be at like 30% or whatever, and almost half the country is still willing to elect Bush #3?!
How can anyone not believe in evolution?!
Why is the whole Catholics-voting-based-only-on-abortion still happening? Even if fetuses were babies and we're killing lots of babies, I mean, we're killing lots of Iraqis, who sure are people; and hell, farm subsidies for corn are slowly killing lots of Americans through obesity (segue to another rant, but one is probably enough for tonight)


Go here:
Green Dimes

Sign up for their free unsubscription service. They will give you a nice list of like 10 things to do, half are going to websites, half are mailing physical mailings. Do them all. This will help stop junk mail.

"But Dan, I can just throw my junk mail away. It doesn't bother me."

No. Do it. This will save you time in the long run. O(1) asymptotic runtime. Digging through your junk mail is O(n).

(my secret agenda here: save some trees.)

Free bambooooooooooos department?

First of all, have I mentioned "I Am Rich"? This is The Best iphone app. It costs $1000, and it does nothing. It just displays a little red light. That's pretty vainglorious. Unfortunately, I just looked it up in itunes, and it appears not to exist anymore.

Why did I link to Fox News? Because I was trying to figure out if bamboo sheets are really environmentally friendly, or if I got suckered in. I think they are, on the philosophical non-data-based arguments that:
- it grows real fast
- lots of people say it's more environmentally friendly
Jared called me out on that, because those are pretty shallow arguments. So I went looking, and here's what I found:
Fox News says bamboo is better than cotton
A bamboo clothing seller says so too
And another
Dr. Hauser says the chemicals involved in processing bamboo make it bad
Some people on some forum have lots of views both ways
Shit shit these are the sheets I bought
I'm inclined to agree with this person:
"Just my .02 worth, but I don't do business with or associate with companies that would not offer "green" products but for the "green" market has grown to a point where it cannot be ignored.

For example, the USDA lowered organic food regulations to allow products with only 95% organic content to be certified organic. Why? So General Mills could enter the organic market profitably. I'm sorry, but food with 5% synthetic ingredients and grown with 1 of 38 approved pesticides sprayed on it is not organic. Thus, I avoid companies like Bed, Bath & Beyond that suddenly offer "Bamboo" sheets because the "green" market is no longer ignorable.

Stick to companies that produce only "green" or organic products and do or have done so because it's the right thing to do, not because they cannot afford not to."
Right on. And it seems like organic cotton has fewer issues than bamboo overall. Maybe I got served, or bought a greenwashed Bed Bath & Beyond product. They certainly seem like a bit of a crap company to me anyway.

Although who can really tell?! This gets me mad. I feel a rant coming on.

Also, to further ramp up into said rant, this quote from the Direct Marketing Association website:
"Important: You have selected to eliminate all mailings from organizations participating in the DMA Mail Preference Service. Are you sure you want to proceed? The average household can save $1422 dollars per year from marketing offers. By eliminating all mail offers not only will you miss out on these savings, but you’ll miss out on at least 80% of all commercial offers and discounts! And you will miss the environmental benefits of shopping at home rather than driving to the mall!"

rant to be continued