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Thursday, July 17, 2014

How to Read a News Article

This is how most people read news articles:

How I read a news article.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Dr. Horrible 2?


Okay, so I got this strange email.  I mentioned it in the last two blog posts and hoping someone would say "Hey, I sent that!  Just kidding, sucker!" but it didn't happen.  So, I decided, what the heck, I'm going to post it.

It's a synopsis for Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.  Part two.

If you haven't seen Dr. Horrible, you've missed out on a phenomenon.  It was created by Joss Whedon and Friends during the writer's strike of aught eight and chronicles the life of a humorous (eponymous) supervillain and his attempts to join a supervillain group and woo the woman of his dreams.

If you haven't seen it, you should.  It's free.  Watch it now.  Seriously.  I'll wait.

Dr. Horrible is (except for one badly directed song) kinda perfect  in a Greek tragedy kind of way.  It really doesn't need a sequel, but I'd love to see one anyway.  I figured I never would because, although Whedon and Friends keep dropping hints about making it, it's been eight years.

Eight years.  That's "never going to happen" territory.

So I get this email from one of those fake email addresses that's made up of all the consonants in the alphabet strung together with a .com at the end.  I've tried to email back, but just get bounce messages.
Legally, I don't know if this is something I can post.  Is it stolen work?  Is it fan fiction.

Ah heck with it.  Here's what I was sent.

Note: It seems NPH = Neil Patrick Harris, DH1 = Doctor Horrible 1, CH = Captain Hammer, ELE = Evil League of Evil, and BH = Bad Horse.
Open: CH sitting in a couch by a therapist.  He wails into the camera reminiscent of NPH's opening laugh from DH1.
The Hero I Used To Be - Backstory montage from DH1 in CH's skewed perspective. 
Explains to therapist he's been in hiding because NPH has been trying to kill him.  Therapist pulls off mask, revealing NPH.  As NPH charges up weapon (Prop: sword with lights, NOT like lighsaber!), CH jumps out of window. 
NPH turns to camera and explains to audience he didn't think CH would jump twenty stories.  Shot of CH face down in destroyed pavement below.  Gets call from Moist on cell phone. 
Moist (Prop: Moist needs an absurd costume) leads the ELE now.  ELE is down to Fake TJ, Dead Bowie, and any of the others who are free during shooting). 
Moister Than You - Exposition of NPH defeating BH and taking over ELE, before leaving Moist in charge. 
NPH explains he still needs to "get Hammer."  Looks at picture of Penny he carries around (Prop: high tech locket, alternate: SFX).  Runs downstairs to find CH is gone. 
NPH working on figure in his lab under a sheet (ala Bride of Frankenstein).  Gets text from BH.
Gunfight at the BadHorse Corral - BH Singers read letter of challenge to NPH for control of ELE.  Song ends with them asking if he's brave enough to reply. 
NPH uses gun to shoot one of the BH Singers in mid song.  Others run away. 
I'm Gonna Nail You Next - NPH recounts several attempts to catch CH. 
NPH grabs Death Ray and goes to fight BH.  Pull back to reveal CH is watching the blog video gleefully. 
Challenge in the Park - Reporters recount fight between BH and NPH. 
BH stomps NPH.  NPH is revealed to be Moist in disguise.  NPH catches CH who is watching from the crowd. 
CH with NPH in lab next to experiment. CH is wired to various devices.  Pleads for life.
I'm Gonna Nail You Now - Reprise.  NPH pulls lever. 
Bride of Frankenstein revealed to be Penny, who wakes up. 
Laundry Day Forever - NPH takes a shaky Penny out for a walk.  Reveals he's a villain.  She's entranced, but stumbles in front of oncoming truck.
Penny is fine.  NPH has been chasing CH to get a sample of his invulnerability DNA.  Now she's alive again, strong, and can't die.  Takes Penny to a restaurant where they are treated as royalty because of NPH.  She notices a homeless man (Can we get our "hero bum" back?  Call his agent.) tries to enter the restaurant and is forced out. 
I'm Not Evil Like You - Penny leaves restaurant with homeless guy. 
At homeless shelter, Penny finds CH.  Finally connects with him.  He persuades her to team up with him. 
Hammer and Tongs - Montage of CH and Penny defeating the ELE, and NPH! 
NPH sitting in front of camera doing blog.  He has a black eye, missing teeth.  Suddenly smiles. 
"She's alive." 

My reaction?  It's kinda bad, isn't it?  I don't know what the Whedon and Friends process is, but this would have to be a waaaaaay early draft.  Or it is, as I said earlier, a fake.  However, let's face it, if you were sending someone fanfic, why send it to my blog.  I literally have like six readers!

What do you both think?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Games without Combat

As a professional deadbeat, I don't usually apply for jobs.  However, one listing caught my eye last year.  It was an attempt to recruit writers for a game company.  The application process involved writing about a game story that could be told without combat.  It also (quite sternly) warned applicants not to reference Journey or The Walking Dead.

After a few minutes, I realized I'd love to spend a few minutes applying for the job.  Here's what I wrote:

I don't normally apply for work in the games industry, as my writing career (my latest novel: and teaching game design keeps me fulfilled, but your posting was intriguing.

What stories could I tell without combat? All of them! Action is fun but it completely destroys a plot (except for the "who kills whom part"). Here's six I came up with just sitting here filling out this form:

1. The player must dig out people trapped in a burning building while dealing with the collapsing superstructure and his or her own claustrophobia.

2. The player's planet is being consumed by a plague and has to develop a virus to combat the plague. Meanwhile, the player's spouse and children are being held hostage by an extremist group to ensure the cure is never found.

3. The player has fifteen minutes to live (or however long a play-session is) and must discover who poisoned his or her food.

4. The player is a spirit and wants to be reincarnated, but must cause the death of someone else to be reborn.

5. The player applied for a cool job. Just after he sends his resume and cover letter, he realizes he has forgotten to remove all references to Journey or the Walking Dead. He now has to break into the offices of his recruiter and change the file before it is sent on.

6. The player is a sentient pile of goop with only vague memories of being human. As he or she masters forming different shapes, more bits of memories come back (and they're different memories, depending on what shapes are made).

See, much more fun than making a combat-based story:
1. Player must kill bad guy.
2. Player must kill good guy.
3. Player must kill aliens.
4. Player must kill zombies.
5. Player must kill demons.
6. Player must kill ghosts.

Hey, this was fun! Thanks for the diversion. 
They responded saying that they liked my submission, but were hoping for someone with more experience.  Then they stole all my ideas and didn't give me credit.

Ha ha!  Just kidding.  That was Oni (no seriously, I submitted a weapon called a Van DeGraff as part of interviewing).

Sorry about the strange reference to an email I got last week.  After some thought, I decided I'll post it next week.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Potter Inconsistencies

When you've read the Harry Potter books out loud as often as I have (about four times per book), you start to notice a few... inconsistencies.  I'm hesitant to criticize, because I'm a ray of unabashed sunshine, but I felt I had to post them here.  Why?  Well, partly because I'm reading them out loud (AGAIN), but mostly because I need an extra week to digest this email I got and am trying to decide if I'm going to post.

More on that next week.  Meanwhile, on to the memes!

We invented LASIK and ballpoint pens for a reason.


He seemed all proud of the name in book 2.  Why are Death Eaters upset if anyone says it?
Update: Just remembered one more that bothered me.
Of course, the difference is Harry did them on a nonhuman... UPDATE 2: I keep getting things wrong.  No, he used them on Death Eaters as well as goblins.  My bad.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Map of San Francisco

Sometimes, at the request of our government, I make maps.

They give the maps to our enemies so they get lost along the way here.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Defending Science from Morons

So tired of defending science from morons. You accept science, even if you don't like it, or you SHUT UP.
I posted these words last week and almost immediately regretted it.  I posted the following semi-retraction shortly afterwards:
On second thought, replace 'SHUT UP' with 'find a better way of doing things and prove it to the world, jackass.'
Not much of a retraction, eh?  I figured I should explain myself more thoroughly than 120 characters would allow, hence today's blog post.  The day I wrote the posts, I was feeling good about science.  John Oliver had released a video about climate change denial.  If you haven't seen it yet, you should:

Oliver's video is funny, informative, and completely irrelevant.  Saying a majority of anyone believes anything is meaningless, because beliefs can be wrong.  A majority ofAmericans believe God played a role in evolutionA majority of dentists believe you should chew Trident gum.  Who cares?  It's a belief.
Some beliefs are wackier than others.
I have some friends who are both smarter than me and don't accept anthropogenic (man-made) global warming (AGW).  They gleefully pointed posted about the logical flaws in Oliver's argument.  I jumped in to argue with them.

What's important, I said, is the evidence.  There are thousands and thousands of scientific papers that support AGW.  Each paper counts as a piece of evidence, and that's a heck of a lot of evidence.

Those papers were funded by the green energy industry, they said.
Evil, anti-science forces.
That's a logical fallacy, I said, called Ad Hominem.  It doesn't matter who funded the studies; what matters is the studies themselves.  If you disagree with a paper, you produce a counter-study or you point out failures in methodology.

I was told, by someone who claimed he was a scientist, I was spouting rhetoric.  I got disgruntled and left the thread.  Then I got on another thread where people were talking about the surge of childhood diseases due to people refusing to vaccinate their kids. 
Children not sacrificed to herd immunity.
I was, as you may have guessed, a little annoyed at this point.  I called anti-vaxers stupid.  I was told I was trying to "poison" their kids and "sacrifice them for herd immunity."  And so, I posted the comments at the top of the page.  So, let me just make three points, and then I'll quit:

Point One
Every scientific study is a piece of evidence.  If you don't think the evidence is true, you attack it for that way it was produced or find counter-evidence.  You don't attack the person who collected or presented the evidence. 

Sir Isaac Newton traded in slaves; that doesn't mean gravity is false.

Point Two
If the evidence points overwhelmingly to a conclusion, you accept it.  You don't keep pointing at the same tiny shreds of discredited data over and over.

Yes, CO2 is a terrible insulator and the spike in temperatures hasn't gone up as much as predicted.  On the other hand thousands and thousands of studies support AGW.  Yes, there were studies that linked vaccines and autism.  Every single one was discredited on methodological grounds.

Point Three
If you can't accept the truth, you SHUT UP.

I think marijuana is harmful, but I don't have evidence so I SHUT UP.

I can't imagine fracking causes burning water and earthquakes.  However, I haven't looked into the evidence so I SHUT UP.

Thousands and thousands of tons of GMOs have been consumed worldwide without a single, verified instance of harm.  So, I...  Oh, wait, I can talk about that.  Never mind.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Thank You Note Art

Once a year, everyone has to endure the worst hardship imaginable: writing thank you cards to those who sent you birthday gifts.  Okay, maybe it's not the worst imaginable, but it's got to be a close second.

Actual worst: having to watch this film again.
Ever since we're kids, our parents force us to do this annual chore, perhaps as a way of getting us to stop asking for presents.
And this is just cheating.
As much fun as it is to force your children to write these cards, grown ups have to do them as well, taking away all the fun of inflicting the pain on others.  If you hate writing cards as much as me, you've come up with tricks to make the writing of thank you cards easier.  I used to write them in poetry, but I came up with something new this year, thank you card art. The basic idea: draw a big, freaking image in the middle of the card and then write (big) words around it.

Thanks for the drawing tablet and cookbook.
Even if you're thanking someone for a terrible gift, a little art here and there can brighten up the scorn of your words.
Thanks for that supremely terrible movie.
If you can't draw something well (in my case, a gun), you can dramatize events.
Thanks for launching burning shells at my nose.
The real problem is when you get two of the same gift.  What if the people you sent the cards to compare them (because my art is so awesome, this is a distinct possibility)?  The answer: proportions!
Thanks for the check.
Thanks for the freaking huge check.
And don't forget your kids.  They love seeing you enduring the same pain learn from your example.
Thanks little boy.

Monday, May 26, 2014

A New Pledge of Allegiance

Lemmie ask you something: when was the last time you said the Pledge of Allegiance?

I've had an uneasy relationship with the Pledge for a long time.  At first, I thought it was something meaningless that I mumbled out with the other kids every morning.  As I grew older, I became annoyed at the addition of "under God" and started, quietly, omitting it.  Watching my son's class recite it recently, I became sad about the Pledge.  It didn't feel right.  I couldn't sense any emotion in the crowd of parents and kids droning it out.

The problem with the Pledge is it's too impersonal.  It's been rewritten over and over by congress.  As much as I hate to agree with conservatives, it sounds like something made by a government: clunky, slow, and insipid.

I mean, listen to it.  You've got it memorized.  Recite it right now (in your head if you're embarrassed).  Go on!  The first half is:
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation...
It's just saying the obvious.  We already know we're pledging allegiance.  We know you're pledging to the flag, because you're looking at it.  And we know you're not really pledging to the flag itself but the country it represents because we're not morons.  And really, one nation?  Duh.

The second half is:
Under God, indivisible, for liberty and justice for all.
My favorite part is "liberty and justice for all."  That rocks.  The indivisible is nice, because it means we stand together.  The Under God thing is just a silly holdover from the Cold War.

I had planned to write about creating a new Pledge.  Our Pledge has been rewritten every 30-50 years; it's due for an update.  Then I realized anything I wrote would be meaningful to me, but not to anyone else.  That's when I understood what the Real Problem is.

The Real Problem is our country means different things to different people; it's great for different reasons to different people.  Who am I (or any group of elected officials) to tell people what to say when they pledge allegiance to their country?

So, here's what I'm proposing: let everybody write their own Pledge.

Imagine this: around fifth or sixth grade (after the time the words "fart" and "poop" get huge laughs but before the hormones really kick in), there's a special assignment.  Every kid sits down and writes a list of what they think makes our country great.  They get into groups and edit it into a new Pledge of his or her own.  Then, once a day, one of them reads his or her Pledge to the class and everyone recites it.

They don't have to recite it.  After all, there's going to be a lot of kids who want to pledge their allegiance to Minecraft and Satan, who pledge to stop the Illuminati and kill all the Jews, who pledge to themselves.  However, they should pledge something.

Here's the one I'd use:
I pledge to serve the United States of America and the principles that made it great: freedom, equality, justice, and joy.
Still needs some work, but the point of this exercise is to think about what would make it work.

What would your Pledge be?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

44 - The Shooting Birthday

As with all men having midlife crises, I feel a need to do something I've never done in my misspent youth.  Unlike most other men, I don't want to waste it on an overpriced phallic symbol of a car and a young blonde girl.
Well, until I found this picture.
Instead, I need to dye my hair odd colors, do dangerous things, and eat at expensive restaurants.  This year was no exception.  You've already seen the hair...
I'm trying out for Ron Weasley in "Harry Potter - The Musical."
The restaurant this year was Manresa.  Here's the meal in one, quick image:
Quickie review: most of the dishes were great.  A couple of the fish dishes were more fishy than I would have liked.  The lamb was terrible.  The first appetizer looked exactly like the last dessert, which was awesome, but made me wish the entire meal did tricks like that.

But enough of all that.  Let's talk about the crazy part.  Let's talk about
  me shooting guns

That's right; little old Matthew from East Central Illinois never fired a gun before.  I'd been afraid of them ever since the famous Time Magazine issue where they showed every death from a gun in the United States in one week.  Pages and pages of children shooting themselves, suicides, and murders.  Almost none were "good shootings" (self defense, police firing on criminals, etc.).

After the waves of mass shootings (Columbine, Aurora, Sandy Hook, and so on), I got into arguments online with gun owners.  The evidence that guns caused more harm than good seemed overwhelming.  However, as many of my gun nut owner friends pointed out, I really didn't know anything about guns.

I did know this argument as people post it ad nauseum.
So I wanted to fire a gun for my birthday.  Knowing nothing about gun laws, regulations, and best practices, but knowing the meme above, I assumed learning to fire a gun would be a lot like learning to drive a car.  I assumed you had to be at least 16, took classes before you got a learner's permit, and then only got to fire one under strict supervision.  I looked into classes that took you to a gun range at the end and taught you how to shoot, but found them hard to find.
Note the pro-anarchy bumper sticker.
Then my wife mentioned that her father (a retired soldier) and brother-in-law (a police officer) both owned guns and enjoyed shooting them.  She contacted them and they set up my shooting day, bringing along the whole family to shoot for the first time.

Earmuffs make everyone sexy.
Let me just take a moment to thank my brother-in-law for all he did.  He borrowed guns from friends, so there was a variety to try.  He patiently showed several of us how to use them.  He answered numerous, goofy questions with grace.  So, thank you Art, you are my hero.  Also, you should read my blog, as you'll probably never see this.
The range.  The coffee cans are, sadly, not for spitting tobacco.  It's for shell casings.
I started with a .22 handgun, firing at paper targets.  Then I moved on to bigger handguns, revolvers, and rifles (one with a scope).  Here's what I learned:
  • Bullet sizes make no sense.
    .22 bullets are the weakest and smallest.  .357 are the most powerful.  .44 is in the middle.  Obviously, size doesn't determine effectiveness.  Men rejoice.
  • Shooting a .22 is like shooting a bb gun.
    I could barely tell I was shooting a .22.  When I moved up to the .357 it hurt my hand.  My father-in-law's revolver was so loud I could feel it in my chest even several feet away.
  • I'm glad the NRA doesn't run the DMV.
    I expected more safeguards.  You can go shoot at the range if you're ten years old, but they don't check your age. No training is required.  Some guy hands you a gun and you just... shoot things.  If we treated cars like guns, we'd hand them out to kids in 5th grade and wave goodbye.
The rules we were given at the range.
The rules they actually enforced.
  • Hot metal things hit you in the face.
    Most of the guns we used ejected the shells into the air after each shot.  They're burning hot and somehow always ended up hitting me in the face (which, I was told repeatedly, was better than getting them down your shirt).
Most people call these "shell casings."  I call them "Stop shooting next to me!  Ow! Hey! Ow!"
  • Cops have serious advantages.
    My brother in law had just bought a gun with the sticker NOT LEGAL IN CALIFORNIA prominently displayed on the box.  How did he get it?  He's a cop.  We used his hollow point bullets (Also not legal.  How?  Cop.), and he had to buy more because he's required to use ammo that's illegal for the rest of us.
The bullet opens up inside you, just like a meal at McDonald's.
Gun rights advocates have told me people need guns to protect them from the government.  Yeah, good luck with that. 
  • Bullets are kinda pretty.
    Some bullets are shiny and gold, which is odd because they're supposed to be made from lead.  Isn't lead grey?
  • Sniper rifles are as cool in real life as in videogames.
    I love rifles with scopes in games.  In Mass Effect 3, I killed a whole wave of enemies with one shot (then stood around waiting for the bad guys to come).  When I fired a real one, I kept missing.  Turns out you aim higher than what you want to hit.
You can get these in the hidden levels on The Citadel.
  • You don't have to shoot far.
    When I mentioned the targets seemed awfully close, I was told most gun battles take place between people standing six feet apart.  Seems we could get rid of guns and give everyone spears for protection.
My first time using a rifle.
  • Shooting is really, really easy.
    No, seriously.  Look at the two targets I fired on.  I hardly missed (after the first four bullets).
Some of these weren't mine, but I'll take credit for the good ones.
  • Shooting isn't all that fun.
    Certainly not as much as in a videogame.  Perhaps it's because, after a few shots, you can't see where you hit the target anymore.  Perhaps I need a big "LEVEL UP" sign.
  • Guns are not safe.
    If you drop a gun, it can go off, and most guns don't have safeties.
There was a (probably deaf) bird living at the range.
  • Gun owners want to shoot people REALLY BADLY.
    It's hard to talk at a gun range (because of all the BANG BANG going on), but the one conversation I repeatedly overheard was about the legality of shooting someone.  I learned the best time to shoot someone is when they're invading your home.  I learned I should to make sure I hadn't invited or lured the person into my home first.  I was told to be on the phone with the police when I started shooting.
In short, from my experience, I'm less afraid of guns than I was.  Gun owners, on the other hand...  Well, they scare the bejeezus out of me.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

An Average Week

You who don't follow me around every day, peeking out at me from dumpsters and mailboxes (unless you're that one guy who keeps weirding me out), so I'll update you on the explosive, technicolor, circus of sushi that is my life.  In short, this week's post is a bunch of random crap that happened to me.

I Have New Hair
As all both of my readers know, I do a hair color change every birthday.  So far, I've done blue, yellow, and green.  This year, I went with orange, because it was a permanent color and wouldn't leak out everywhere.  Here's the result:

What do you think?  Needs more tzujing? I think it looks too... Natural.  My stylist keeps wanting me to look good, but I want to look garish.  Maybe I'll try purple next time.  No way she can make that look natural.

I Got More Bad Reviews on My Book
Yeah, I know, I said I wouldn't post about Pinhole anymore, but there was this one review on Goodreads that I couldn't ignore.  In part, it says:
I don't believe in a technology that provides time travel, mind control, remote download of a personality and is also a weapon. My suspension-of-disbelief only stretches so far.
My first reaction was "That's probably what people said about motors 200 years ago."  However, I recently saw this article which describes how scientists linked two mice together and found the younger mouse's blood made the older mouse become younger and healthier.

My daughter and I are INSEPARABLE!
Just as I describe in part two of my book.

On a related note, I was at a Cinqo de Mayo party with a guy named Larry whom I convinced download a copy.  It turns out he was THE Larry Page from Google.  I expect to see wormholes in the next Google Doodle.

Sexy Tesla Ads
A while back I became Friends (in the "Facebook sense) with a young woman named Avens O'Brien.  We shared experiences of losing beloved bird pets.  She posted last week that she found Tesla cars sexy.  I thought it was funny, so I threw together one of her pictures with her quote and BAM invented a new ad medium.

I call it "Using sex to sell a product."

Avens has a website where she writes about freedom, posts pictures of herself and...  You've already clicked the link, haven't you?  Well, if you come back I'd like to point out these pictures were taken by a talented photographer named Peter Paradise, who also has a website with pictures of her, and several other models.

Where was I?  Oh, right, my new advertising model.  I figure I could sell almost anything with this picture and some tiny changes:

Did I mention she likes spatulas?  Well, she does in my imagination.
What do you think?  Should I get a new career as a "Mad Man?"  I'm certainly as hot as Jon Ham now that I have red hair.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Supreme Court Ruling on Prayer

The big news of the week (unless you count how the world is coming to an end or the usual GOP nuttiness) is the Supreme Court ruling it's okay to start political meetings with prayer.  Conservatives rejoiced, liberals were outraged, and Sarah Palin said something blisteringly stupid.

Same as always.

Now that we live in a post "prayer-is-okay-ruling" world, we have a new challenge to face: how to make government meetings inclusive.  See, prayer is, almost by definition, exclusive.  If you pray to your god, or gods, or lack of deity, you're excluding those who don't believe what you do.  You're essentially telling people of other religions: "You can't participate in the running of this country."

The alternative is to create a truly non-denominational prayer that would include everyone and every dimension of faith.  Many theological scholars have said such a prayer is impossible to create.  I have proven them wrong.

Yes, I'm just that good.  Here goes:

Oh all-powerful, or simply powerful, or weak and fallible, or non-existent God or god or gods, or goddess, or goddesses, or spirits, or energies that watch over us or simply watch and don't intervene...
Or whatever. 
Bless or enchant or sanctify or guide or don't harm or do nothing to us...
Or whatever. 
We are but insignificant worms in your eye (or eyes), or your children, or sinners unworthy of your grace, or the results of evolution you planned or had nothing to do with, or usurpers of your divine right...
Or whatever. 
We seek only to do your will, or our will, or what you planned all along, or what you might want if you were still around, or to thwart those beings that might be against you, or to right the wrongs that you weren't able to...
Or whatever. 
We are all here as one nation.  We may believe in one god or many gods or only those things that can be proven or any of the thousands of faiths in this world, but we all believe in working together to make this country better, stronger, healthier, wiser. 
If you can help us with that, please do.  If you can't, thanks anyway. 
Amen, selah, verily, so be it, or whatever.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Ice Cream Truck Finale

Way back in February I asked for your help.  We had lost our ice cream truck.  It used to come by my kids' school almost every day, and I'd buy ice cream from it every week or so (for the kids!).  My weakness for ice cream novelties is well-documented.

Then, in what can only be assumed was caused by a conflict with the school district, it vanished.  I tried calling the number on the card he gave me, but it had been disconnected.  I tried calling the number on the side of the truck, but the person who answered just hung up on me.  Once, late to an appointment, I saw the truck driving by and couldn't stop.  My son cried.  The appointment was cancelled five minutes later.

Months passed, and I compulsively stared at every passing truck on the road.  No luck.  Then, suddenly, about a month ago, I saw it on a side street while taking my son home.  We screamed and I performed a vehicular stunt that would have resulted in the immediate revocation of my license had it been observed by any public servant.

Something like this.
We followed the truck through the neighborhoods of Los Altos, flashing our lights occasionally.  For several blocks, the driver was completely oblivious, then he pulled over.

"Where the fudge* have you been?" I cried as my son ordered.  "I tried calling the number on your truck!"
"Oh, yeah.  That's the place I get ice cream.  They don't speak English."
"I tried the number on your card!"
"Oh, yeah.  That's off."

He took out another business card and wrote his new number on the back.  I put it in my phone and, over the next month, called him several times a week.  The calls went something like this:

"Where are you today?"
"San Jose!"
"Oh.  Maybe another day."


"Where are you now?"
[Incomprehensible mumble.]
"I'm sorry, what?"
[Louder, incomprehensible mumble.]
"Oh.  Maybe another day."


"I come to you at five o'clock."
"Oh, that's dinner time.  Maybe another day."

On Tuesday, I called while leaving my son's school, and he said he'd be by in half an hour.  I spelled the name of our street just to be sure he'd find us.
Not that hard to spell, really.
Half an hour later, my children sat, staring out the windows, definitely not doing their homework.  Half an hour after that, I called again.

"I can't find your street," he said.
I tried to explain, but there's a language barrier and a "my hearing sucks" barrier.
"Are you near downtown?" he said.
"Uh.  Kinda."
"I find you."

Thirty minutes pass.  I call again.

"I went all over downtown.  I'm near Costco now.  Are you near there?"
"No!  That's miles away.  Don't you have text or email?  I could send our address."
"No.  I give you the number of my friend.  You text it to him."

I do as he says.  We wait half an hour.  Someone calls my phone.

"Hi.  This is kinda strange.  There's a guy in an ice cream truck in front of our house.  He handed me your number and asked me to find out where you are."

You have to admire the man's chutzpah.  In any case, she drew him a map.  We finally sat down to dinner (masa fried trout and grilled artichokes), assured he'd never arrive or we'd get another call from somewhere in Nevada.

Then, nearly finished eating, my head shot up and my eyes widened.**  Everyone jumped back and my wife asked if I was feeling okay.  As an answer I charged out the door (which was, conveniently, right next to my chair).

And there he was.

"I remember you.  You go to the Community School." he said.  Charter school***, but who am I to argue with a man who drove all over Silicon Valley to sell me five dollars' worth of ice cream?
My kids each picked out two. I gave him a twenty and insisted he keep the change.  He gave us extra popsicles.

"What's your schedule like?" I asked.  "When are you around?"
"I'll remember your street," he said.  "I'll come by on Tuesdays."

The kids cheered.

So, ice cream party at my place.  Feel free to drop by any Tuesday.

*You can only swear in dessert terms when talking to the operator of a licensed ice cream truck.
**Can someone explain to me why, sometimes, someone like me (with terrible vision and hearing) can hear things before everyone else and see things other people don't notice?

***There is no footnote here.  I just put it in to see if you'd look.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

7 Emoticons the Internet Really Needs

Emoticons have been around since the dawn of the internet and probably longer.  Since then, they have multiplied and evolved with blistering speed.  Emoticons exist for every possible emotional state, flag, sports team, and every pet; there are hidden emoticons and even a secret sexual meaning for each emoticon.

"Bring lubricant next time."
However, even with the wide variety of emoticons out there, many common emotions and thoughts aren't represented.  I have attempted to fulfill that need, with helpful pictures (in case graphic artists want to convert them into real emoticons).

So, without further ado:

You're a science-fearing moron.
Your deeply-held beliefs offend me.
I only agree with you because you're hot.
You're terribly wrong, but I'm sick and tired of finding research that proves you wrong.
I'm desperate for more attention.
Send me nude pictures.
The age disparity in your relationship disturbs me.