Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Shampoo Marketing Executives

Interior: Suave Men's Haircare Products - Marketing Department conference room. The room is gloomy, with generic-grey bottles stacked on every surface.

Two junior Marketing Executives (#2 and #3) sit in chairs, slouched against the table. They're miserable, waiting for their boss, worried what might be coming.

Their boss (#1) enters in a barely-controlled fury.

Marketing Executive 1: Gentlemen, we have a problem in the men's hair division.

Marketing Executive 2: Egads, no!

Marketing Executive 3: What kind of problem?

Exec 1: Our competitor, Dove, has invented a new product line to steal our consumers. They invented shampoos with an undeniable appeal to the macho male demographic.

Exec 2: Egads, no!

Exec 3: What could possibly be more macho than our line of gentle, floral hair products?

Exec 1: They've invented shampoo with caffeine!
Author's Note: No, really.

Exec 2: Egads, n- Wait, what?

Exec 3: What does caffeine add to a shampoo?

Exec 1: Helps you wake up.

Exec 2: Do you drink it?

Exec 1: Drink shampoo? Don't be silly.

[Scribbles note: Ask R&D about drinkable shampoo]

Exec 2: Then how does it wake you up?

Exec 3: Maybe it only wakes up your scalp.

Exec 1: And they have a kind with menthol.

Exec 2: Like in the cigarettes?

Exec 3: Can you get lung cancer of the scalp?

Exec 1: If we want to compete, we need new ideas.

Exec 2: Egads, no!

Exec 3: Let me just type up my resignation letter.

[#3 turns to leave]

Exec 1: Don't panic, men. Think! What are macho men into?

Exec 2: Other macho men?

Exec 3: Macho women?

Exec 2: Cars!

Exec 3: Macho cars!

Exec 1: No, no. We need to appeal to their lifestyle. We need to appeal to what they think is their lifestyle!

Exec 2: You mean, living in the dirt and rolling their own cigarettes while firing cannons into the sky?

Exec 1: Exactly!

Exec 3: Not sure how you find time to wash your hair if you're living in the dirt, covered in gunpowder ash.

Exec 1:  I think you have something there.  Go on!

Exec 2: Who has time to wash and condition and style his hair every time it gets dirt on it?

Exec 1: Convenience shampoo! We'll combine shampoo and conditioner!

Exec 2: Er, we've already done that.

Exec 1: Good point. We need more convenience.

Exec 3: What's more convenient than shampoo and conditioner together?

[Long pause]

Exec 2: What if we combined it with soap? Shampoo, conditioner, and "body wash." Then you could just pour the bottle over yourself and you're done.

Exec 3: Brilliant!

Exec 1: And next year, we can combine it with toothpaste! And cleaning fluid! And...

[Room explodes with creative energy, burning entire office building down.]

Tuesday, November 7, 2017


Things I use my laptop for:
  • Writing
  • Video games
  • Watching videos/movies/etc.
  • Serving tray
  • Calling relatives
  • Filling out repetitive forms
  • Getting work
  • NEW: Light table

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Fun With Freecycle: Greatest Landscaping Rocks God Ever Made

You know what your house needs? Lava rocks.

Everyone knows it. Your friends snicker about your rockless garden behind your back. Your neighbors worry your drab house will hurt the neighborhood's Zillow values.

You need lava rocks, but not just any rocks will do. You need the good kind. The red kind. The kind with the little holes in them.

You need rocks like this one.

These are the perfect lava rocks. These rocks can transform a broken hovel into a mansion of exceptional beauty. Look closer at it and behold its magical power.

I don't think you are appreciating the value of this rock. Maybe you can't see the inherent majesty of the red stone. Let me show it to you in black and white.

Oh, no, wait. That's a meteor.

But you get the point. You need these rocks to make your life complete. But where will you get enough of them? To make your home and garden perfect you'd need...

Well you'd need a lot. You'd need buckets full. Wheelbarrows full. A whole driveway full!

But where would you find such a treasure? Mountain View, California.

But how could you afford such a treasure? They're free.

So, what are you waiting for? This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance!

And come soon, because I'm tired of them filling up my driveway.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

"The Interface Lesson" or "Wow, I Once Had Hair!"

I've written "Interface Video" on every to do list for the last decade.

About ten years ago, DeVry University told all its teachers to throw away their syllabi. From that point on, we were to teach exactly what every other DeVry teacher was teaching on the exact same days using the exact same books and materials.

It felt like I was going to give my students a substandard education, so I moved the courses I wasn't allowed to teach online. I recorded videos of myself my students could watch during their free time.

Eventually, DeVry relented and I went back to lecturing in person. My last video was left unedited and unpublished.

Until now.

Now I just have to finish all my other, long-term to-do items: reprogram my Commodore 64, iron my Member's Only jacket, and visit the top of the World Trade Center.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Definition of Evil

I gave this talk on writing evil into your games at the Silicon Valley IGDA talk at Google early last week.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Your Literary Opinion

I've been working on my current novel (novels, as it turns out) for five years and have been struggling with the beginning for most of that.  The main character (one of two main characters, as it turns out) is a tour guide and, as he takes us on a tour of a local, historical site, he explains the world.

The problem is the opening.  The first few paragraphs (minus the prologue, as it turns out) set the tone of the book.  And I can't quite figure out how to start things.

So, I want your opinion.  I have two nearly-similar openings, below.  Which is more compelling?  Which would make you want to read on more?


Version 1
Before he even saw the bus, he could hear there was something wrong with it. Something was off about the growl as it dug its wheels into the road, climbing up the hill where he waited for it.
He swore under his breath. Gemalli was a great driver, but a poor mechanic. More often than not, he caused more problems than he fixed. He couldn't afford to hire anyone else, not this season, so if something was broken or out of alignment, he'd have to rely on Gem to fix it.
Oily smoke wafted past him, and he turned away from the road. He wanted to appear casual when his customers saw him for the first time through his windows. He stared down at First City, watching the rising sun paint the city's squat, stone buildings red, then gold. Their windows, carefully angled to catch the morning, flashed at him. Finally, the bus came into view: a solid rectangle of glass and wheels, engine and lights.
He couldn't help but smile like an idiot. He'd worked for years to save up enough for his own luxury tour bus. It was the biggest status symbol he could imagine. It was a sign he had succeeded in business and in life.

The doors hissed open, and he paused a moment to look at its side. There were a dozen reasons he boarded so far outside the city, so far from where Gemalli, picked up his customers. It helped bolster his claim to the city fathers that his company was immune to First City taxes. It was more dramatic when he climbed in, focusing his customer's attention on him when he needed it most. However, the real reason was that he loved looking at his name painted in red and gold as it crested the hill in the morning light.

Version 2
He stood waiting on a hill just outside First City, with his back to the rising sun.  The newborn light painted the city's squat, stone buildings red, then gold.  Their windows, carefully arranged to catch the morning, flashed painful light at him for a few minutes, then the sun moved on and a different set flashed, then another.
His shadow faded in, long and faint, then shrank and darkened.  His skin prickled with new sweat, and he unzipped his jacket.  Animals muttered in the forest, having as much trouble waking as their human counterparts.
For half an hour, he waited -- breathing in the cool air and the quiet solitude -- before he heard an engine in the distance. It growled like a monster as it neared, ending the tranquility of the hilltop, and scattering the sleeping birds into panicked flight.  Oily smoke wafted past him.  Finally, a bus came into view: a solid rectangle of glass and wheels, engine and lights.
He couldn't help but smile like an idiot.  He'd worked for years to save up enough for his own luxury tour bus.  It was the biggest status symbol he could imagine.  It was a sign he had succeeded in business and in life.

The doors hissed open, and he paused a moment to smile at his name painted on the side of the bus.  There were a dozen reasons he boarded the bus so far outside the city, so far from where his driver, Gemalli, picked up his customers.  It helped bolster his claim that his company was immune to First City taxes.  It was more dramatic if he climbed into the bus later, focusing his customer's attention on him when he needed it most.  However, the real reason was that he loved looking at his name painted in red and gold on the bus's side.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

If I Could Design Fonts

I was doodling and playing with letters. While writing "Hi," I noticed my lowercase i seemed to be pointing accusingly at H.  What had H done that so infuriated i?

And what happened to the Skiing group?  Someone killed off n and g.  Everyone suspects k.

After I drew Fit I decided the i wasn't accusing anyone.  It was pointing with deep admiration.  Also, F is a perv.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Instacomm

The Instacomm was an incredible invention with one incredible flaw.  While it allowed you to communicate with anyone anywhere in the universe, it also allowed you to talk to anyone anywhen in the universe.  It even let you talk to anyone in any alternate universe.

Many people found the complicated device frustrating.  If your Instacomm wasn't tuned with complete precision -- if you pushed one wrong button, if you mistyped one character -- your call could go disastrously wrong. For example, you might call your brother to ask him over to your house for dinner with you and your wife, only to realize an hour later that:

a) You were talking to your brother from six hours in the future, and he'd already had dinner and gone to bed.
b) You were talking to your brother from six years ago, and he was still dating the woman who became your wife.
c) You were talking to your brother in another dimension where he was a semi-intelligent tree creature and couldn't figure out how to pull his roots up to get to your house in the first place.

After a while, people ditched their Instacomms and went back to mailing each other letters.  The post office became a booming business nearly overnight.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

My Fortune Cookie Career

Chinese fortune cookies suck.  They're not really cookies (more like folded paste), don't really tell your fortune ("People respect your forthrightness" my ass), and aren't really from China (seems Japanese immigrants in California invented them). 

The point is, the fortunes suck.  The point is, anyone with a pen, hundreds of slips of paper, and the key to a factory in San Francisco with numerous health code violations can write their own.  The point is, here's what I came up with: 

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who command respect and those who demand respect.  Those who command respect don’t need it.  Those who demand respect don’t deserve it.

The present is a flickering instant between anticipation and regret.  Don’t waste it.

If you state your religion and are ridiculed, that’s bigotry.  If you state your thoughts and are ridiculed, that’s life.

If you can’t defeat your enemy, join him and pervert his cause.

How can anyone be bored when so many things are crying out to be made?

Acting on imperfect knowledge is disastrous.  All human knowledge is imperfect.  Therefore, it's always best to do nothing.

Now, on to writing the instructions on chop sticks...

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Fun With Freecycle: Aromatherapy Couch

This is my couch.  It's a three-piece sectional from Crate & Barrel that measures 8.5' x 3.5'.  There's some fraying from cat love, but it's a lovely maroon and fits comfortably in any corner.  It goes nicely with the carpet, don't you think?*


The most important thing about this couch is: I've spent the last ten years carefully turning it into an aromatherapy device.

If you're unfamiliar with aromatherapy, it's a... Uh... Therapy.  Wikipedia says aromatherapy can improve general "well-being."  Well, being a guy trying to give away a couch before the new one arrives in a couple days, I completely agree. 

When you sit on this couch, your well-being will be improved.  When you take it away, my well-being will be improved.  So, win-win.

You may ask what aromas I infused.  I've eschewed the traditional lemongrass, lavender, and other boring herbal essential oils.  I have infused it with the essential oils of sexy musk.

That's right, it smells like me.  I've slept on that couch dozens of times, sometimes on hot nights, sometimes naked.  I've sat on that couch for countless hours after bean-heavy meals.  It was difficult work, but now this couch will make you as hale and hearty as me: an atrophied, middle-aged white guy with irritable bowels and a propensity to sweat.

Let me know soon.  I'm expecting a lot of offers.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Cover Letter Rough Draft

Hey, honey.  You wanted me to get a job; well here's the cover letter I sent out!  Hope you like it.

Dear Miserable Bastard:

That's right, I called you a miserable bastard.  You know why?  Of course you do.
I mean, look at you.  Look at your company!

You really need my help, but I'm happy to give it, for an exorbitant fee.

I will be your guiding light.  I will be your prime mover.  I will be the architect of your future.

I will take the pile of seething muck that is your company and turn it into a hard, glistening tower of triumph.  Does that sound sexual? It's meant to be.  When I'm done with this company, you'll get offers for mergers, you'll get requests to be acquired, CEOs will throw themselves at your feet and beg to be broken up and sold off at your rough hands.  In short, every company will want to be f--ked by you.

Your workforce will transform.  Yes, there will have to be some "downsizing."  You have too many losers working for you.  I've already got some criteria of whom to fire.  Anyone taller than me will have to go; they creep me out.  Who else?  Men with beards.  Women with tattoos.  Anyone who rides a motorcycle.  People who hum.  Get rid of all of them.

In the end, your smaller, leaner, more perfect-er employees will set the business world on fire.  Like, literally.  We should start fire drills on my first day.

I expect your offer letter by tomorrow at the latest.  Better hurry!


Your Best Hope Esq.

Ha ha! I'd never make that public.  Please delete it and never show it to anyone!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Turning Over: Robert Heinlein

I used to do a regular piece called Turning Over in Their Graves (TOTG) where I wrote about authors whose works were adapted into things they would have horrified them.  I've done Will Smith's "I, Robot" and the musical "Annie."  Then I stopped, because seeing these perversions of the authors' true intent was depressing me.

Then I read Starship Troopers.

I saw the movie "Starship Troopers" when it came out in the 90s and, like everyone else, I enjoyed the action, the special effects, and the naked shower scene.
I only included this picture to get more visitors to my blog.
Funny side note: some parents brought their 4 year-old kid to see it.  I sat a few rows away while she saw a man bitten in half by a giant spider, the aforementioned nude shower scene, a soldier get his arm burned off, and a pilot get his brains sucked out by a slug monster.

Note to parents: This might not a good movie for kids.
The point is, having seen "Starship Troopers," I felt I had a good sense of what Starship Troopers was like.
They both have troopers...
Well, they're both about a guy named Johnny Rico who fights bugs in space.  And.... That's about the end of the similarities.
Starship Troopers has three chapters with action and science fiction in them.  Much of the rest is about Rico becoming a soldier and learning how the military works.
"Starship Troopers" is an action film about soldiers who fight bugs that fart energy at starships.
The romantic subplot in Starship Troopers is about how a pilot named Carmen takes Johnny out to dinner.  She kisses him, and he's happy.
In "Starship Troopers" Carmen dumps Johnny to focus on her career, so he sleeps with Dizzy who dies happily because she got to "have" him.
Starship Troopers has a lot of discussion about "moral philosophy."  In one scene, a recruit asks why they need to train with knives when anyone with a finger can launch a nuke.  The question is followed by a long discussion about the use of restrained force in the military.
"Starship Troopers" has this...
Starship Troopers discusses the need for beating your children hard and often, why only soldiers should be allowed to vote or hold public office, and how genocide is good for everyone.
"Starship Troopers" points out the book's fascism.  Soldiers cheer at the torture of an enemy.  Some scenes are shot-by-shot mirrors of Nazi propaganda films.  Officers wear uniforms reminiscent of ones worn by SS officers.
If you squint, you can tell if this is a scene from "Starship Troopers" or "Patton."
In short, "Starship Troopers" satirizes Starship Troopers.  It holds the book up and says "Hey, this is fascism!"

I'm sure Heinlein would be displeased at this perversion of his work.  Then again, the book deserves it.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Myth Adventures, the Movie

Myth Adventures are comedic fantasy novels created by Robert Asprin.  They're clever, funny, and were extremely popular for several decades.  The fact that nobody has made a film out of them continues to blow my mind.

Update: I just emailed to see if I could get the rights.  Someone got there before me.

Here's the premise: Skeeve is an amateur magician apprenticed to a powerless demon.  They set out to save the world (and make a quick buck) along with a beautiful, green-haired, troll assassin; a handsome but painfully ignorant demon hunter; and Skeeve's immature pet dragon.  Along the way, they visit bizarre, bazaar worlds; swindle Imps and Deveeels; get executed; and confront serious evil (or, at least, total nuttiness).

How can Hollywood resist?

Update: Perhaps they won't now.

There's already been dozens of books and comic books, and games.  However, the part of the original book that grabs me the most comes in the first chapter and tends to get left out of the adaptations: Skeeve learning magik.  My hope is that, when someone inevitably makes a movie or tv show, they keep it in.

Just to show how it could be done, I've written it up in screenplay format.

               EXT. SMALL CLEARING - NIGHT

               The woods surround a ROUGH HUT with a single window.  Inside,
               lit by a few candles on tall candlesticks, SKEEVE the
               apprentice (a scrawny, eager-faced boy) is waving his arms
               about frantically.

               INT. ROUGH HUT - DAY

               SKEEVE is still waving his arms, while being watched by
               GARKIN (a tall man with a salt and pepper beard and rich
               clothes), who is eating the leg of a roast animal, a cross
               between a turkey and a lizard.

               Skeeve directs his motions at a single, white feather, which
               floats through the air following his gestures.  The effort of
               moving the feather is taking quite a toll on him; he's
               sweating and red-faced.

               He brings the feather to rest on the pages of an ancient book
               sitting on a table.  With a sigh of relief, he claps his
               hands together and the book snaps shut on the feather like a

               Skeeve turns to Garkin, hoping for approval.

                         A trifle showy, but effective. 
                         That's the first time you've
                         managed to get the feather into the

                         I've been practicing.

                             (raising an eyebrow)
                         Have you?

               He stands and extends the animal leg.  Skeeve reaches out to
               take it, but Garkin puts the leg down with the rest of the

               He walks past Skeeve and picks up one of the candles.  He
               blows it out and places it in front of Skeeve.

                                   GARKIN (CONT'D)
                         Let's see you light the candle,

               Skeeve sighs sadly.

                         Garkin, it occurs to me I could
                         concentrate better on a full

                         Skeeve, it occurs to me you're

               Skeeve stares forlornly at the unlit candle.  Garkin paces
               around him and the candle in a circle.

                         It's just that I've never been able

                         Negative thought.  Stop it.

               Skeeve takes a deep breath and concentrates.

                         I will light the candle this time. 
                         I will light it because there is no
                         reason I shouldn't.

               A sepia-toned image appears of a strong man proudly pushing a

                                   SKEEVE (CONT'D)
                         My father has a farmer's bond with 
                         the land.  Like him, I tap the 
                         strength of the earth.

               The image turns to a beautiful woman reading a book.

                                   SKEEVE (CONT'D)
                         My mother was an educated woman. 
                         The knowledge she gave me is like a
                         lens, letting me focus.

               Now Garkin appears, taller and more handsome than the real

                                   SKEEVE (CONT'D)
                         My teacher is a master magician. 
                         His wisdom directs my efforts. I will 
                         light this candle.

               The candle remains unlit.  Skeeve is sweating, clenched.

                         Don't tense.  Don't try to force
                         it.  Let the energies pass freely.

               Skeeve takes a deep breath again and relaxes.  He reaches a
               finger out then drops it.

                         I can't do it.

                         Negative thought.  Stop it.

                         I will light the candle.  My

                             (slapping him on the back
                              of the head)
                         No!  Negative thought.  Don't rely
                         on others for your strength.

                             (fed up)
                         I will light the candle because I
                         am Skeeve.

               Embers of light appear underneath his skin and crawl randomly
               over him like ants on a hill.  His voice echoes slightly.

                                   SKEEVE (CONT'D)
                         I am Skeeve.  I am stronger than
                         any of them.

               The image of his father reappears, this time in muted colors. 
               Now his father is whipping a Skeeve who is pushing a plow. 
               Skeeve decks him and runs away.

                                   SKEEVE (CONT'D)
                         My father tried to chain me to a

               The image of the mother reappears, now severe, ugly, cold. 
               She's raps Skeeve's knuckles, then clutches at her chest and

                                   SKEEVE (CONT'D)
                         My mother died a heartless monster.

               Garkin appears, talking to Skeeve, who looks past him at a
               golden statue on a table.

                                   SKEEVE (CONT'D)
                         Garkin is a gullible fool who took
                         a thief for an apprentice.  I have
                         beaten them all.

               The images disappear.  Now it's just Skeeve and the candle. 
               Skeeve points at the candle again and the embers of light
               flow down his arm.

                                   SKEEVE (CONT'D)
                         I am Skeeve.  I will light the

               He drops his hand.

                                   SKEEVE (CONT'D)
                         It doesn't even matter if I light
                         this candle.  I am Skeeve.  I am

               The candle ignites.  Then it flickers and goes out.  Garkin,
               standing behind him, grabs Skeeve's shoulders with

                         Excellent, lad!

               Then all emotion drains from his face.  He punches Skeeve
               hard in the ear, knocking him from his chair.

                             (clutching his ear)
                         What was that for?

                         I thought so!  You still want to be
                         a thief.  You want to use my magiks
                         to steal!
That only took me a few minutes to write.  I could probably crank out a screenplay in a week or two. Hey, Hollywood!  Call me! 
Update: Hollywood isn't going to call me.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Totality Worth It. Totality Wicked.

I don't do wonder.

I am unmoved by scenic vistas, majestic forests, and crashing oceans.  I have stood on the prows of mighty ships and viewed towering, blue glaciers with an emotion that could best be described as "meh."

In short, I'm uninterested in natural beauties.
Well, okay...
You may wonder why I flew to Boise Idaho, took the kids out of school (one, kicking and screaming) for a day and a half, and sat in a school parking lot, staring at the sky with wacky glasses, waiting for a total eclipse that lasted one minute and ten seconds.  You may wonder why I spent days in a city where the most interesting thing to do is stare at this house as we drove by.

Why? Because I wouldn't have another chance for decades.  I did it because, like having kids, if you don't you'll always wonder "Did I miss something?"

So, how did I feel about spending hundreds of dollars an upending my life for an event that lasted a brief moment?

To say it was better than expected would be an understatement.  I expected it to look like:

I played a lot of Terraria.

In the end, it looked more like:
Note to self: play Majora's Mask
Final verdict: totally worth it.

Also, if you're in Horseshoe Bend, Idaho, there's a store next to a Chevron gas station that makes an amazing huckleberry pie you can eat while staring at the sky.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Back to School 2017

Summer vacation is ending around the country.  It's a difficult, emotional time.  Children are panicking that their long vacation time is over.  Parents are experiencing a swell of unexpected feelings as well.

In a week (or a couple weeks, if your kids are in public school) your children will be gone all day, every day.  Your house will echo with emptiness.

Perhaps you're wondering how to fill this void in your life.  I have some suggestions:
  • Shout with joy
  • Throw a "first day of school party" for your friends
  • Call your school and suggest your kids have regular, after school detention
  • Laugh nonstop for 3-6 hours
  • Plan summer camps for 2018
  • Hide all your kids' favorite toys and leave ransom notes in their rooms
  • Eat all the desserts in the house
  • Send money to your local teachers' union
  • Contact colleges in other countries and ask about pre-paying tuition
  • Get drunk
  • Watch this video over and over again and laugh.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Merchandise Returns Nursery Rhymes

This is the product sent by Think Geek to replace the broken one
My brother bought my son for his birthday.

This is the step my son got to
Before he realized he got another defective
Product sent by Think Geek to replace the broken one
My brother bought him for his birthday.

This is the switch that does nothing
And won't switch games
On the step my son got to
Before he realized he got another defective
Product sent by Think Geek to replace the broken one
My brother bought him for his birthday.

This is the battery that gave out after 10 seconds
While my son was showing me how 
The switch does nothing
And won't switch games
On the step he got to
Before he realized he got another defective
Product sent by Think Geek to replace the broken one
My brother bought him for his birthday.

This is the face I made 
While I emailed the returns department
After the battery gave out after 10 seconds
While my son was showing me how 
The switch does nothing
And won't switch games
On the step he got to
Before he realized he got another defective
Product sent by Think Geek to replace the broken one
My brother bought him for his birthday.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Sixteen Burner Theory

There's a popular work-life balance visualization called Four Burner Theory.  The idea is that you should imagine yourself as a stove with four burners.

OMG, that looks just like you!
Each burner represents something in your life that you spend energy on.  Here's the four most people list.
Hm, BEING A JACKASS isn't on this one. Guess it doesn't work for Trump.
If you want to have a balanced life, you should balance all of these four elements.  However, if you want to be successful, you need to turn some of them off, so the others can burn brighter.

If you want to be more successful at work, you should ignore your friends, stop eating, or hire a bunch of nannies to take care of your kids.  If you want to be really successful, you'll turn off two burners.  And if you want to be at the top of your field...
Like a college student, the successful all cook on a camping stove.
There is a downside, however, to putting all of your fuel into the single burner.
Those who fall asleep while smoking and the successful have something in common.
The main problem I have with the Four Burner Theory is that it doesn't take geeks into account.  We geeks have more diversions than the average person.  A full geek stove would look more like...
Just figuring out the controls to turn one of the burners off would take weeks.  It's best to leave them all going.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

How to Make Chili for Your Son

  1. Remove chili from can.
    Remember to use even strokes when turning the can opener.
  2. Place chili in a microwave-safe bowl. 
    Cover with paper towel.
  3. Heat for 1:30.
  4. Open microwave to find that the chili has somehow exploded, knocking the paper towel off the top of the bowl, and coating the inside of the microwave.

  5. Clean microwave.
    You can use a wet paper towel, but disinfecting wipes are scented and you don't have to do the arduous work of using a faucet.
  6. Notice the piece of cardboard on the inside of your microwave. 
    Oops!  looks like you forgot to remove it when you unpacked the microwave.

  7. Remove cardboard, cracking a corner off.
  8. Realize it isn't cardboard, but a sheet of brittle, silvery material.
  9. Do research online to find out it is a microwave wave guide cover: "essential to keep the delicate equipment inside the microwave from corroding."

  10. Try to replace the microwave wave guide cover.
  11. Try to replace the microwave wave guide cover.
  12. Try to replace the microwave wave guide cover.
  13. Call local repair service. 
    You may find they are unfamiliar with the cover and special ordering the part may take two days.
  14. Look online to see if you can find a replacement part.
  15. Call a second repair person. 
    You will get the same result.
  16. Attempt to heat your son tamales in a frying pan. 
    Watch him disassemble the tamale with a fork until he finds a palatable piece, about 1/1000 the size of the original tamale.
  17. Make your son a salad.
  18. Call a third repair guy, who will mention local parts stores, but that "They'd never have something like that in stock."
  19. Call the microwave's manufacturer, who will tell you that they no longer service their own products.
  20. Call service company, who will tell you your microwave is under warranty, and they can send you a refund after 8-10 weeks. 
    They may suggest you contact the company that sold it to you.
  21. Email the company that sold you the microwave.
  22. Wait. 
    While waiting, consider how to reheat meals without a microwave oven.
  23. Search for nearby appliance part stores.  
  24. Call one.  "Sure, we have that."

  25. Realize the store will close in half an hour.
  26. Tell kids to get into the car.
  27. Beg kids to get into the car.
  28. Yell at kids to get into the car.
  29. Bargain with kids to get into the car.
  30. Physically pick up kids and place them in the car. 
    Remember to lift with your legs.
  31. Drive to store.
  32. Show broken microwave wave guide cover to proprietor. 
    He will hand you a large sheet of silver material that looks nothing like it: "We used to carry every brand, now we just carry this."

  33. Point out it looks nothing like the material your original piece was made of. 
    He will assure you it'll be fine.  "Just cut it into the right shape."
  34. Return home.
  35. Get your tools out.
    You will need: An exacto knife to cut, a cutting board for safety, a pen to trace, kitchen scissors because the exacto knife doesn't quite work, and your son's scissors because the kitchen scissors don't quite work.

  36. Trace and cut.

  37. Put newly-cut wave guide cover into the slot where the old one was.
  38. Change the orientation and place it in the slot.
  39. Flip it over and place it in the goddamned fucking slot already!!!!!
  40. Replace turntable.
  41. Make new bowl of chili, using plastic wrap to cover so it doesn't splatter.
  42. Serve with freshly shredded cheese.
    I suggest a sharp cheddar.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Outrage Fatigue

I'm all out of outrage.

Outrage -- like oil, fresh water, and fresh, human blood -- is a precious, but limited resource.  There's only so much of it you can use before it stops flowing.  When you run out of oil, cars stop driving and the economy grinds to a halt.  When you run out of water, crops wither and die and people riot.  When you run out of blood, you have to give up your dreams of speaking to Nyarlathotep.
And I so wanted his autograph.

When you're out of outrage, though, you'll accept all kinds of horrors.  Americans have already accepted:
  • weekly mass shootings
  • the merging of church and state
  • the end of civility and public discourse
  • a poor job market
  • and the fact The Simpsons is still on the air.
Now we also have to accept daily (daily!) outrages from Trump:
  • publicly insulting anyone who disagrees with him
  • embarrassing the country before the world
  • destroying economic stability
  • obstructing justice
  • lying
  • and making bizarre statements.
Only a few months into his presidency, I've used up all the outrage I've delegated to this lifetime.  In my next life, when I've been reincarnated as a retired circus elephant's unicycle (I've been really bad), I might finally be able to be a tiny bit upset about something.

A taste of my future.
I'm trying to replenish my strategic outrage reserves, but it's hard in this media-saturated, sensationalism-focused world we live in.  If I want to tune out Trump, I have to avoid:
  • news
  • comedy shows
  • Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Grindr, GeoCities social media
  • conversations with friends
  • conversations with family
  • conversations with strangers
  • conversations with imaginary creatures
  • bumper stickers
  • going outside
  • and staying inside.

The only real way to avoid Trump is not to avoid him, but to focus on something else.  I've compiled a list of fulfilling things you can do to rest your outrage spouts for a little while.  My suggestions:
  • Go outside and breathe in the clean air.
  • Look into your finances.  How much do you invest abroad?  How quickly can you convert your assets into gold or something else with an intrinsic value?
  • Meditate.
  • Look into improving your home.  Does it have a fence?  A storm cellar?  Steel-reinforced doors?  How much freeze-dried food and sterile water can it hold?  How much would it cost to build a bomb shelter?
  • Go for a run.
  • Paint a picture of your neighborhood.  Now paint a picture of what it will look like in eight years.  Will there be any minorities or just white people with guns?
  • Take a class at your local park service or community college.
  • Plan a vacation to a foreign country.  Study their culture, government, language, and immigration policies.  Figure out how long they'd let you stay.
  • Bake a cake.
  • Teach your children how to play an instrument.  Teach your children a foreign language.  Teach your children how to put on a flak jacket and gas mask.
  • Call a friend.  While you still can.
Feel better?  Great!  Now hold on to that feeling, and check Twitter.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Alternate Zodiacs

I don't personally believe in the zodiac, but I'm trying to be more tolerant of different religions.

Millions of people worldwide look to the stars to help make decisions and run their lives.  However, many don't know there are different astrological systems from around the world and are depriving themselves of alternative sources of truth.  For those who want to know more about themselves, I've compiled all the major, modern systems below.

Astrological Zodiac
Astrological signs come from ancient Chaldea and is based upon the date of ones' birth.

Practical, prudent
Friendly, humanitarian
Imaginative, sensitive
Adventurous, energetic
Patient, reliable
Adaptable, versatile
Emotional, loving
Generous, warmhearted
Modest, shy
Diplomatic, urbane
Determined, forceful
Optimistic, jovial

Chinese Zodiac
The Chinese Zodiac comes from (you guessed it!) China, and is based on the year of ones' birth.

Popular, inventive
Dependable, calm
Brave, contemplative
Talkative, trustworthy
Healthy, energetic
Bookish, lucky
Popular, cheerful
Artistic, questioning
Funny, problem solvers
Hard workers, talented
Loyal, worried
Studious, brave

Pomaceous Zodiac
The Pomaceous Zodiac comes from the ancient art of determining the genome from various cultivars.

Bright, artistic
Commanding, watery
Selfish, green
Short, hairy-footed
Chubby, feminine
Collector, overblown
Pink Lady
Tart, crunchy
Sweet, inexpensive
Red Delicious
Mushy, flavorless
Dead, haunted
Got the wrong list
Granny Smith
Sour, painful

Ikea Zodiac
You can learn a lot about people by what they do when shopping for cheap furniture.

Favors cheap over quality
Goes there for the food
Kicked out of kids department
Can't find parking
Likes tiny homes
Sits in the carts
Can't follow the arrows
Uses the childcare
Can't assemble squat
Never saw Fight Club
College student
Not smart enough to realize I put this in twice

Geek Zodiac
Science has determined the best way of learning more about a person is to see what that person does as a hobby.

Loves lost causes
Final Fantasy
Named a kid Sephiroth
Why isn't the game called Link?
Raspberry Pi
Covered with solder buns
Burning Man
Part camel
Owns too many tools
Has no self-esteem
Got the wrong list
Babylon 5
Brilliant, discerning
Not a geek