Thursday, December 26, 2013

Atheism Requires Faith



As an atheist (among other things), I am frequently told by anonymous nutballs on the internet that my "religion"requires more faith than theirs.  Usually, I throw out the old logical argument: saying a lack of religion is a religion is like saying "colorless" is a color or "off" is a television channel.
One internet person (the new, politically correct name for "nerd with a computer") asked me what I believed in.  I threw out my usual answer: "I believe in YOU."
A few days later, I realized it really does take a lot of faith to believe what I do.

It takes faith to believe we are so flawed we kidnapped millions of people, worked them to death, beat them to death, raped them, sold their children away, and poured atrocity after atrocity on them not because they bore the mark of Cain, but because we could.
It takes faith to believe we invented steel, violins, paint, semicolons, beer, the Ten Commandments, Loki, presumption of innocence, and the Golden Rule without the guidance of little green men.
It takes faith to believe our society is held together by our government, our laws, and our people, not the hands of spirits and angels.
It takes faith to believe we will someday unravel, if not all the mysteries of the universe, at least a good chunk of them without the help of Loas or djinn.
It takes faith to believe anything good or bad could come from such a pathetic, dirty little monkey as man.  And yet here we are, completely alone and completely amazing.
So, yes, I have faith.  I have faith you are wonderful, and I have faith you are terrible, and I have faith you will do great things.
And you will do them all by yourself.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Things I Love About Christmas


Who doesn't love Christmas?  It's the time of year when everyone is happy and gay (but not in the way that makes you uncomfortable).  I made a list of the four bestest things about Christmas.  If you are a person of true taste and character, you care what I love about Christmas enough to read these and make them a viral sensation.

Here they are!
  1. Cookies
    I'm a sucker for cookies.  I'm a bigger sucker(er) for cookies with frosting on them (cookies with frosting are what cake should be).  I'll eat anything but the rum balls, which were invented by the Halls Corporation as a new kind of cough drop.  Whoever dreamed up parties where people get together to bake cookies for Christmas deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
  2. Seems everyone gets one of those.
  3. The Dickens Fair(e)
    Every year they turn the Cow Palace in San Francisco into a giant, Dickensian party.  There's period food and games and shows and everyone's in costume.  It's like a Renaissance Fair, but without all the people pretending they have the Black Plague and coughing on you.
    "Waaant a turrrrkey leeeeg?"
     
  4. Work
    Some day, work on Christmas eve/day.  It's peaceful, focused, energetic.  It's incredible.  I get so much done on Christmas, it makes up for the fact I don't work the rest of the year.  I'm not sure why working on Christmas is so great, but it may have something to do with-
  5. Feeling smug and superior
    Not being part of something makes you feel superior than all those people who are a part of it.  For example: vegetarians feel superior to those who eat meat.  Vegans feel superior to vegetarians.  Breatharians feel superior to those who aren't skeletons.
  6. Not celebrating Christmas makes me better than those of you who do.  Remember that
Okay, done.  Whew.  That was worse than pushing a pinecone through my urethra. 

I completely hate Christmas.  However, judging from how other people talk about Christmas, you can't just come out and say you hate it.  You have to talk about how much you like it first, then complain about what's wrong with it.  Here's my four.

Things that Suck About Christmas
  1. Bullies
    Everyone hates bullies, except at Christmastime.  At Christmas, bullies are encouraged by everyone to pick on kids who don't celebrate the holiday.  I've never been abused with such tacit support except in December.

    Some of those bullies are teachers.  Their reactions to my not celebrating Christmas ranged from shock, to confronting me about my religion, to ignoring my feelings.  Not every teacher was that way, of course.  But for every teacher who offered to add the dreidel song to the Christmas concert, was one who made me sing "Go Tell It on the Mountain" or sent me to the principal's office for not swaying to "Jingle Bell Rock."

    Long stories.  Tell you another year.
  2. Religious or Secular American Holiday
    Christmas isn't like light, which is a particle or a wave.  Pick one.  Seriously, pick... fucking... one.

    Christmas is a religious holiday, except there's a Christmas tree at the White House and a federal holiday.  So, it's a secular holiday, except there's all this whining about commercialism and the War on Christmas.  Look, just pick one.  If it's a federal/American/secular holiday, then get over it (or move secular Christmas to a different day and let everyone do it).  If it's a religious holiday, keep it in your homes and churches and out of every fucking other place in the country.

    Unless there's an ulterior motive for it being both.  Unless Christmas is a marketing trick used to get kids of other faiths to convert to Christianity ("See how great our religion is?  It has SANTA!").  Nah.  That'd be underhanded and sleazy.  Can't be true.
  3. It's not okay not to like Christmas
    Name two characters who hate Christmas.  Did you get Scrooge and the Grinch?  Can you think of any others?  There's just the two, and they're both cured of it in the end.

    Because of those two stupid characters, people get to tag me with those names and act like I'll love Christmas someday.  Yeah.  No.
  4. The music
    I will do anything you want.  I'll devote my life to charity, eat only bugs for a year, or tattoo Justin Bieber's butt cheeks on my forehead.  I will do anything if someone would just stop that insipid, repetitive, irritating music from playing everywhere I go over and over again until it drills into my brain and makes me homicidal.
Whew.  I feel better.  Now, I just have to get this pine cone out of my urethra.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Upcoming Pixar Sequels

One of the things I liked about living in Northern California when I moved here from the midwest (other than the weather, the food, and the fact that your neighbors have IQs higher than library paste), was the proximity to Pixar.  I don't drive to Pixar every day or anything like that, but I know plenty of people who do, and they tend to leak things (and not the organic-tea scented stuff they usually leak).
I know the plot outlines of the next Pixar sequels.  Yup, following Pixar's success with...  Well, okay, everything, but they have a disturbing trend of trying to suck money out of old movies.  It turns out they're planning on making sequels of every. Single. Goddamn. Movie. They. Ever. Made.

Here's what my contacts in Pixar told me about:
Man, they need to hire better Photoshop artists at Pixar...
Incredibles 2: The Final VillainMr. Incredible is getting older and losing his powers.  He has to step aside to let his kids become the heroes the world needs.  There will be no fewer than six scenes where Mr. Incredbile's teeth fall out.

Bug's Life 2: Army AntsPixar has been accused too many times of trying to force liberal views on their audience.  This movie is certainly is not a political statement.  Flik's hive is taken over by (politically neutral) militant army ants who want to invade (politically neutral) other hives because they have oil. Not oil!  Unobtanium? No.  Spice!  No.  Er...

Wall-E 2: The New Job
Wall-E creates a new store and pays all the robot employees so little they end up selling their parts to survive.

RataTWOuille
Oh, come on.  You're eating food made by rats.  What do you expect?
Brave 2: Braverer
I honestly don't know what will happen in a sequel to Brave.  I do know, however, that it has to be about the witch who only does bears.  She was the only good part of that movie.

Up 2: Down
Enough said.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Crazy Week


My days usually consist of trying to entertain a child in the morning (before school when nothing is open), making a painfully early lunch (he starts at 11:20, which means lunch has to be at 10:30), then rushing to drop him off in time.

Then I have free time, during which I...
Well, I'm not exactly good at getting things done.  Yesterday I spent an hour printing one sheet of business cards.

Long story short: Xerox can bite me.
Still, with three hours a day to myself, you'd think I'd be a blistering flurry of activity, constantly creating new works of art and literature.  Instead, I'm a blistering flurry of fecklessness.  Try saying that three times fast.
Well, not this week.  This week I designed my own stress headache.

On Tuesday, I drove to UC Santa Cruz to help with a game development class.  Actually, that's the wrong preposition.  I didn't drive to UC Santa Cruz; I drove around UC Santa Cruz.  UCSC is a beautiful campus situated on farmland dotted with quarries and historic buildings from the 1800s.  I got to see them all, over and over again as I drove in circles.  See, UCSC has some strange quirk of geology that causes Google Maps to crash and wireless connections to evaporate.  Just when you think you're getting somewhere, your map closes and you can't call for help.

"GPS signal lost..."
 
Eventually, I got there and the teacher sent a TA out to help me get a parking pass.  He got in and we commenced (guess what?) fruitlessly driving in circles around the campus.
Oh, the class was good; I saw a lot of student presentations.  Impressive what games kids can make these days.  I look forward to seeing the game industry crush their spirits by making them make "Zombie Pony Apocalypse XXIII" over and over again.


Tonight, I'm going back to UCSC!  Yes, I'm doing two events at UC Santa Clara but, thankfully, it's at the extension in Silicon Valley, not the long drive off to Santa Cruz.  The IGDA is having a speaker night you should REALLY ATTEND.  Hopefully, I'll only spend an hour driving in circles before I get to the right place.  Maybe I'll just do donuts in front of my house when I leave to get it out of my system.
Tomorrow, I'm doing my first ever book signing at 4pm in the Mountain View library.  Yes, I know, I'm doing an event not related to UC Santa Cruz.  I'm just crazy that way.  Tomorrow at 4pm I'm going to be giving away hard copies of my book for free to anyone who makes a donation to Girlstart, a nonprofit that promotes education for girls in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).

Since you all can't come visit the signing and get a free book, I'll make my book free on Kindle for a week starting tomorrow.  Also, remember if you buy the hardcopy from Amazon, you get the Kindle version for free.
I think that's enough for this week.  Next week I plan on sitting on my butt and eating candy.

You gotta pace yourself.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Whiskey Tango Fuckwad

This is the NATO phonetic alphabet:


If you're not familiar with the phonetic alphabet, it's something soldiers use when they're trying to spell a word out over a static-ey phone line or when they're trying to impress women.


Chicks dig uniforms and phonetics
It's a pretty useful tool, especially when you're trying to spell your name to a salesperson.
"No, that's Matthew.  Two Ts.  One T spells 'Math, EW!'  No, it's not that hard.  Listen.  M-A-T-T...  *SIGH* Mike.  Alfa.  Tango.  TANGO..."
The problem is, you're likely to get your merchandise sent to Mike Tangotango.  Since the holiday shopping season is starting, you're likely to have a lot of presents that get lost or mixed up.  Face it, telephone salespeople are as dumb as sidewalk chalk.  You'd like to swear at them, but they'd just hang up and you'd have to call back and start over.

My solution?  The Matthew Phonetic Alphabet:
 
Letter
Telephony for Salespeople
A
Anal
B
Bitch
C
C-Word (like I'm going to go there)
D
Dick
E
Eat Me
F
Fuckwad
G
Gynecologist
H
Ho
I
Incest
J
Jugs
K
Karaoke
L
Lindsay Lohan
M
Muff
N
Necrophilia
O
Orgasm
P
Pecker
Q
Queef
R
Republican
S
Shithead
T
Trickle Down Economics
U
Underboob
V
Va-Jay-Jay
W
Woody
X
XXX
Y
Yank
Z
Zoophile
Trust me, just use this a few times and you'll see miraculous results.  You'll also spend a lot less this holiday season as retailers will suddenly refuse to take your money.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sleeping Games


I've had the flu for the past couple weeks.

YES I had a flu shot.  I've had four flu shots in my life.  50% of the time I got the flu anyway.  Sometimes I wonder if doctors come up with new reasons to poke people with needles because they're jealous of acupuncturists.
 
Anyway, there are two strange side effects of the flu I had this time:
  1. I want to eat everything not tied down.
  2. I have serious bouts of fatigue.
The fatigue thing has been odd.  I've had days when I've taken five naps, gone to bed early, and woken exhausted.  The problem is, I don't have one of those jobs you can sleep through (air traffic controller, preschool teacher, Senate Minority Leader, etc).  I take care of my children.  If you fall asleep while watching my kids, you tend to wake up with a Lego Star Destroyer super-glued to your forehead.
 
To solve the fatigue/childrearing problem, I devised a few games.  Feel free to use them whenever you are suffering from CRE (Child Rearing Enervation):
Bear Under the MountainDaddy is an angry bear.  Pile couch cushions over him to make a cave to sleep in.  If he sticks his hands out of any holes, put pillows in them until his cave is completely dark.  When you hear snoring noises, you win!
Dark PictureDaddy lies on a bed in a dark room.  While he's "waiting," make the darkest picture you can.  Black crayons on black paper is best.  If Daddy can't see your picture in the dark (signified by keeping his eyes closed), you win!
Fun Time KitchenDaddy has hidden various nonperishable foodstuffs around the house (none are in the bedroom).  Find them all, bring them to the kitchen, and use the plasticware he's laid out to make yourself lunch.
Fun Time CleanersDaddy has hidden various cleaning tools around the house (again, don't look in the bedroom).  Clean up the kitchen!  It's a mess in there.
Magic RectangleYou know that big, black rectangle on the wall in the play room that Daddy never lets you turn on?  It shows movies and games!  Watch as many movies and play as many games as you want.  Seriously, just have fun.  I'll be taking a nap.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Death Dreams



Dreams are a veil, a blindfold, a brainwash.  Dreams fill your head with random images so you don't remember the truth.
When you sleep, you meet the impossible.
You meet the doctor who aborted you.  You meet your killer (who apologizes profusely).  You meet the thousands of children you could have had, and have to explain to every one why they weren't made.  You have dinner with God, His husband, and His only begotten daughter.  You play with the mechanical dogs who hold up the world, and fight off the soldiers of Entropy, who lust to devour the universe.
Each of these fascinating meetings are wiped away from your mind, and filled with a mishmash of adolescent sexual fantasies and absurdist fears.  When you wake, you remember none of it, until the next night's meeting.
Every decade or so, you meet Death, and she offers you a deal.
The first time happened when you were still very young; Death took you to the bed of a dying man.  He's ancient, and lying in a hospital bed, surrounded by his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.
"He's about to die," Death said as the sound of his heart monitor fills the room, "but I can take you instead.  Choose who dies tonight: you or him."
You might scream and cry.  You might curse Death and her cold heart, but, in the end, you chose to be selfish.  If you hadn't, you wouldn't alive now.  You woke that morning with the sound of a heart monitor wailing in a long, constant tone.
Years later, Death came to you again.  This time, she showed you a woman on death row for poisoning her whole family and dismembering their corpses to cover up her crime.  You watch as they screw her into a chair and tape her eyes shut.
"Do you want to take her place?" Death said.
You're obviously still alive, reading this, so you chose to watch as they burned her alive from the inside out.
Over the years, Death showed you many people on the verge of dying.  Each time, they are younger, more innocent, more important than before: future Nobel laureates, pregnant women, and soldiers.  You're given the chance to save the lives of artists, teachers, and children.  You've always picked your own life, in the end, or you wouldn't be here.
One night, Death will finally find the one person you can't stand to see taken from the world: a child, your spouse, that boy you loved but never had the guts to ask out.
"Enough," you'll say.  "Enough.  You win.  Take me."
And Death will bow.
"So, you've finally become selfless.  I was worried you'd be immortal."
Just like every other night, you'll waken with no memory of the night, except for meaningless dreams.  Maybe you'll get up, eat, play, work, whatever you'd normally do.  This time, however, you'll have a strange feeling you can't explain.  Somewhere, deep inside, you know you've done something noble.
That will be the last day of your life.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Pros and Cons of Becoming Vegetarian


I'm an omnivore; I grew up eating meat.  Almost all of us did.
Con of Being Vegetarian: Humans have been eating meat for millions of years.

When I was young, my class went on a field trip to the back of a grocery store (yes, that is considered an appropriate field trip in East Central Illinois).  We got to see the meat they brought in before the butchers cut it into palatable bits for consumers.
Our guide gleefully pointed out the different organs and anatomical features in half a cow hanging from the ceiling.  When I got home, I told my parents I was a vegetarian.
"And this is where it's children nuzzled it for warmth..."
Pro of Being Vegetarian: Meat is gross.
They were okay with my being vegetarian, but I would have to eat a lot of beans and cheese.  I hated both.  I gave up being a vegetarian.

Con: Vegetarian food is gross.
When I grew up, I took a moral stand.  If you can live without being cruel to animals, you should.  I was a vegetarian.

Pro: Meat is cruel.
Eating a diet of beans and vegetables, having an allergy towards underarm deodorant, and working in a small, poorly-ventilated room proved to be a bad combination.  All my coworkers got desk fans and pointed them at me.  It took me years to figure out why.

Er, something you want to tell me?

Con: Vegetarians smell bad.
I went back to being an omnivore.

I was a bird owner for thirteen years.  Owning a pet bird changes the way you look at animals.  Birds seem alien, cold, unfeeling.  Once you live with one, you realize they really aren't all that different from cats and dogs.  They look you in the eye when you talk to them.  They like it when you pet them and turn so you can get their itchy spots.  They have a (bad) sense of humor.  They get sad and angry and scared.  Mine used to show concern when I cried and kiss the tears off my face.
One day, I went to the supermarket and bought a Cornish game hen.  As I prepared it and put it in the oven, I realized how much it looked like my own little bird.

Imagine looking down at your half-eaten steak and seeing a flea collar still attached.
 
Pro: After you realize all animals share the qualities we love in pets it's heartbreaking to eat them.

I became an omnivore who didn't eat birds.
Vegetarianism hadn't worked for me in the past, so I took a more moderated approach.  Instead of going cold turkey (Get it?  Cold Turkey.  GET IT?), I'd just stop eating birds.  No more fried chicken, chicken pot pie, duck a l'orange, chicken noodle soup, etc.  With the exception of Thanksgiving (during which I make sure to get the happiest, healthiest, heritage-iest turkey around), I was bird free.
Still, it's hard to resist some times.

Con: Meat tastes good.
Then I had a cholesterol test.

"Cut back on red meat and fried foods," my doctor said.
Pro: Vegetarians are healthier.

No birds.  No cows, pigs, or sheep.
That left me with ocean creatures, cats and dogs, and zoo animals.  I became a pescaterian.
Being a pescaterian, however, is about as untenable for me as being a full-on vgetarian.  I love restaurants and, let's face it, vegetarian food in restaurants is disgusting.  Seriously, there's only so much grilled eggplant, slimy grilled peppers, and beans I can take.  There's only so much seafood I can take, too.

Con: Most restaurants have terrible vegetarian options.
So, I'm a pescaterian who eats red meat in restaurants.

If you have children and don't come from a third-world country, you have a pile of leftovers in your refrigerator.  Kids just never eat a consistent amount, so you prepare a lot and expect to have extra.  What does a vegetarian do when perfectly good meat is about to be thrown away?
"Sorry, I can't read your blog.  I have all this food to eat."
 
If you think about it, throwing away meat is pretty awful.  All living things {birds, cows, bugs, plants, whatever} share the fact that they want to live.  They might not be conscious of it, but they all want it on some level or they wouldn't be alive.
When you throw meat away, you're essentially saying "Yeah, maybe it died so I could eat it and live, but I don't give a crap about its suffering."
So I'm a vegetarian who eats seafood and leftovers and meat at restaurants that have yucky vegetarian choices.

Life is confusing.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Obama Is the Worst President Ever


You may not realize it, but our current president (Obama, in case you missed it) is the worst president in US history.  No really!  No, REALLY!  NO!  REALLY!!  It seems by enacting Obamacare and refusing to negotiate with the GOP, he's destroyed our country in a way none of the other presidents managed.

However, this is a cause for rejoicing (No!  REALLY!) for three reasons:
1.      Future Contrast
The next president has to be better.  I mean, what are the chances that we have the worst president of all 43 and then the 44th was even worse?  That guy would have to force all women to have swastikas tattooed on their uteruses or sell our children for space aliens to eat or try to feed the hungry or something.

2.      Late-Night Ghost Stories
Imagine future spooky stories over the campfire.  It's late.  The fire sparkles in the eyes of your grandchildren as they wait for you to creep them out.
"Kids," you say, "I lived through two terms of President Obama, the worst president ever!"
They all gasp in horror and huddle close to each other.
"Really?" Little Billy says.  "Worse than Harrison, whose only achievement in office was to die?"
 
"Worse than Harrison!" you say, and they all gasp again.
"Did he try to rig the election?" Little Sally says.
"Er, no.  That was Nixon."
 
"Did he invite his cronies plunder the government like Harding and Grant?" Little Jamal says.
 
"Worse!"
"Did he let slavery expand like Taylor, Pierce, Buchanan and Fillmore?" Little Akira says.
 
"Worse!!!!"
The kids are whimpering with anticipation now.  Little Vijay raises his hand.
"What did Obama do, grandpa?  What did he do?"
You drop your voice to a low whisper.
"He tried to create a universal healthcare system to care for the millions of Americans who couldn't afford it."
"No!" they shriek.  "A government take-over?  Single Payer!?"
"Not really.  There was this patchwork of ideas that was stolen from the Republicans.  Then the GOP tried to stop it by shutting down the government but, get this, HE WOULDN'T COMPROMISE THE HEALTHCARE PLAN!!!"
You dry their tears of horror and put them to sleep, knowing they're be too scared to get up and bug you all night.
3.      I got a blog post out of it
      Hey, it's tough for me to even come up with one a week, now.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Rocket Power

I have a list of about 1300 blog topics I'd like to cover.  Some examples:
  • Vas Deferens Aren't a Metal Band
  • On Becoming a Vegetarian and Smelling Bad
  • The Ben Stein Paradox
So, why am I covering model rocketry instead?  Because I don't have fucking time to write my blog anymore!  You may have noticed I dropped from five posts a week to one claiming a busy schedule (but, in reality, my triplets entered half-day kindergarten and I just don't have time).  I figured I could pull off one post a week, barring any impediments.

This week's impediment comes to us from our good friends at the Cub Scouts.  Scouting is something I've only been recently involved in as I am neither morally straight nor will I do my duty to God.  (As I understand it, God watches me do my dookie, so it evens out.)  However, my kids' friends were in scouting, so they had to be.  I was volunteered to help out with rocket merit badges, so I helped one son make something called a "Blue Ninja."

I call it "Giant, Cold Phallus."
I figured one rocket was enough, but...  Well, as my other son is five ("and a HALF!"), he always needs to do what the big kids do.  One cold day, we drove to the nearest hobby store and got him a level 1 difficulty rocket kit.  Here are the steps to building a level-1 kit with a five ("and a HALF!") year old:
  1. Read instructions.
  2. Explain instructions to child.
  3. Watch child destroy parts of rocket, necessitating a return to the hobby store.
  4. Perform difficult part of task while child watches.
  5. Attempt to get child to do easy part of task.
  6. Repeat step 5.
  7. Finish rocket by yourself.
  8. Repeat step 3.
In the end, though, the rocket got built.  There were some difficulties that had to be overcome, though.  For example, how do you glue three fins onto a tube when one of them will end up pushing against the table and falling off?  Answer:
Lego drydock
 
How do you get a child to paint a smooth, round surface with acrylic paint without having to buy a new {house/child/wardrobe} afterwards?  Answer:
Hang it from the coat rack.


In the end, I'm assuming this was a worthwhile craft.  I'm also assuming the third-degree burns he'll get after launching the rockets tomorrow will only leave minimal scarring.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Worldwide Processing Power


Here's a fun fact/exercise I show/do in my classes.
  1. Take out your smart phone.
    Yes, I know you have one.  Don't pretend you're an Amish hermit iconoclast.  Take out your phone and look at it.  Now look up the words "Amish," "hermit," and "iconoclast."
  2. Find out how powerful your phone's processor is.
    A Gigahertz is a billion operations per second, not how much power the time machine-DeLorean used in Back to the Future.
  3. Read this article.
    You're probably not going to read it (I know the habits of all both my readers), so here's a quick prĂ©cis: The combined processing power Microsoft is to deal with the Xbox One is more than there was in the world in 1995.  Here's a chart that corroborates it.
  4.  
  5. Extrapolate from presented data to a finite date, notably your own natal event.
    Huh?
  6. Figure out how much processing power existed on the planet on the day you were born.
    Or, you know, just pretend and make a guess.

    Here's the big takeaway:
    You are carrying in your hand a more powerful computer than all of the world's computing power combined on the day you were born.

    Imagine the power of what you'll be holding in your hand in a few decades.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Into Thin Air




I just finished reading Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air.  If you aren't familiar with the book, it's about the 1996 Everest disaster.  Several groups of climbers became trapped in a storm in the "death zone" at the top of the mountain and eight people died.

It's a riveting and enlightening tale, starting with the preparation for the climb, going through the trials and illnesses from climbing in a low-oxygen environment, to the decisions that led to the disaster and the aftermath.  While you read the book, however, one main question comes to mind: what the fuck are they doing up there?
Let's look at the lethal dangers Krakauer mentions:
·       HAPE
Fluid that builds up in the lungs due to high altitude.

·       HACE
Fluid that builds up in the lungs due to high altitude.

·       Hypoxia
Lack of oxygen from, say it with me, high altitude.

·       Frostbite
Part of your body freezes and has to be cut off.

·       Bleeding from your eyes
Low pressure tends to make your capillaries burst.

·       Falling seracs
A maze of dangling glaciers that sometimes crush climbers.

·       $50k
Not a danger, really, just how much you have to pay to try to climb.
Then he tells what happened during the storm, about people being trapped all night in the gale force winds and dying only a few hundred feet from safety.  He talks about people freezing solid in the cold.  He talks about chipping the ice off the faces of dying men and women to determine how alive they still were.
So, quick precis: you pay a shitload of money, climb up in increasingly miserable conditions, your body deteriorates and you lose about 15 pounds, then you stand on the top for a few minutes and climb back down.
Then you die.
Oh, and 1996 was a relatively safe year, if you compare total number of deaths.  On average, one in ten people who climb the mountain die up there.  There are hundreds more of these pictures on the internet.
Which leads us back to the question: why the fuck do people climb Everest?  Answer: because they're stupid.  Because they're blisteringly, mind-bogglingly stupid.  Because they weren't born with the same level of brain power given to the common squirrel (flying squirrels are kinda smart).  Alternately, the may have had basic squirrel IQs, but suffered severe brain damage early in life.
In any case, the book shouldn't have been called Into Thin Air.  It should have been called Into Thick Skulls.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Proud Father

I was going to write about the strange phenomenon of reading something on the internet you would never be interested in and how it can become an obsession.  For example, I never knew Caucasians had this obsession with touching African-Americans' hair, but the more I read about it the more I began to wonder.  Is it really that different?  Is it magical?  Does it feel like unicorn hair doused with pixie dust or something?


Oh my God!  I must touch it!!!!

Then I was going to go on about the trend of people freaking out about internet pornography and kids and I'd link to science fiction pornography and ask you to read it all and see if you suddenly had an urge to genetically engineer mice people and have sex with them...

And then something happened, something earth-shaking.  So, I'm starting over.

Ahem.

I have a lot of pictures of this bookshelf.

A lot of pictures.
Why?  Because it's the place my book would be some day.  I've written about this bookshelf a couple (or more) times.  It's where my book would be in the library when I got published.  Knowing where your book will be is as important as knowing your family medical history.  You just can't live a healthy life without it.  Okay, you can, but it's awesome to think your book will be in the library some day, rubbing covers with Moby Dick.
 
Er, sorry, still on the whole "internet pornography" thing.
 
Long story short, my book is in the library, but not where I thought it would be.  They put this whole new shelf up for me called "Local Authors" so it will stand out more to impressionable Silicon Valley residents.
 
Aww, look, it already has a name tag!  First day of school!
 
 
What?  You got a TATTOO?!  Wait until your father sees this, young missy!
 
 
Anyway, if you want to see it or check it out, you can follow this handy map:
 
 
I'd suggest you not take the route I took.