Thursday, April 30, 2015

Birthday 2015 - Part 5: Being Hot

Well, juggling isn't going as well as hoped, so I'm skipping to a backup goal: I've never been hot.

I've been I'm "not all that bad looking."  Which is a nice way of saying "You don't make me sick" or "The only thing holding you back is your personality."

Hotness was never a priority.  As a kid, I was nearly blind, so the only contacts I could wear were made of steel wool.  I insisted on scratch proof lenses, so my glasses were so thick they warped light around my face, making my head look like a Planter's nut.
My yearbook photo.
I could never sit still for a good haircut.  I didn't care about clothes, so got everything from TJ Max.  Add to all this the bullying I got throughout Junior High and High School and you can understand why I didn't bother working on my looks.

Then I got old.

Now I work out five days a week.  I have a hairdresser who charges by cut instead of by corner.  I get clothes from The Gap.

Okay, maybe I should work on that last one.

Anyway, I still don't know if I'm hot or not.  In short, am I too old to be sexy?  Turns out there's an app to tell you.  It's called Hot or Not.  The basic idea is you upload pictures, people rank you, and you get a score. 
Also the logo for heartburn remedies
It's pretty addictive to rate people.  After a while, though, I  noticed a pattern in the pictures I saw.  They all fit into the following categories:
Your face upside down, wearing sunglasses, or half cut off.
If people can't see your eyes together and right-side up, they assume you're pretty.

Your face filtered so the whites of your eyes glow like a 60s movie alien.
Also photos that are blurred, covered with sparkles, or otherwise somehow obscured.

In a car.
I call this the Lindsay Lohan.

Firing a gun.
Rate me "hot" or I will shoot you.

"Kissy face." 
Every single woman on the app has a duck face pic.

Weird hand sign.
Peace, sideways peace, heart hands, etc.

Your body
To show off how thin you are.  Alternately, squishing your boobs into the camera to hide how thin you aren't.

Cat makeup
Seriously, this is a big thing.  A lot of women either paint themselves to look like cats or there's some creepy cat fetishist running around with a magic marker.

With other people.
So we don't know which one is you.

Your braces.
Leaving me with a dilemma.  Do I a) say you're hot and wonder if I'm a pedophile or b) rate you as not hot and crush a young girl's self esteem?

Exact same photo 20 times in a row
Filtered or cropped differently.

Dear God, the piercings.  Eyebrow.  Both eyebrows.  Lip.  Double lip.  Nose.  Golden boogers (a septum piercing like they do to bulls to tie them to trees).  Tongue.  Nose bridge.  And, the most impressive of all, cheeks.

That's right, women are poking holes in their cheeks.  Or they're eating the Whizzo Chocolate Assortment.
Anyway, here's my score:
At first, I thought, "Crap, I'm a 6."  Then I realized hotness is like the Richter Scale.  Each point is double the previous number.  I've never seen anyone sexier than a 7.7.

So, am I a tremor or a Loma Prieta?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Birthday 2015 - Part 4: Nail Picking

I've picked at my nails ever since I was a kid.  The imperfection in my fingernails and the skin around them bothered me.  Of course, I knew that picking them was causing much of the imperfection, but I never stopped.

I never bit them.  While nail picking is perfectly understandable, biting your nails is gross. Don't get me started on the people who bite their toenails.
On the other hand, I was going to stick nail biting in a novel:
"You see these?" he said, holding up his hand.  Except for his left thumb and right pinky, the nails were gnawed down to nothing.  "I bite my nails because I can't stop until they're perfect.  I never stop." He took a step closer.  "That's what I want to do to you.  I want to put you in my mouth and wear you down until there's nothing left."
What do you think?  Sexy?  Creepy?  I've never been able to tell the difference.  Explains why I never dated in high school.

After a while, I tried to quit picking.  I used cuticle nippers and nail files to give myself a manicure, but it just exacerbated the problem.  I got a Swiss Army Knife.
Beware my vicious toothpick!
The Swiss Army Knife is a bizarrely useless piece of equipment.  After using one, I worry about the security of Switzerland  It has:
  • The world's tiniest pair of scissors
    You can only use these if you had hands the size of a fairy's.
  • A short but remarkably sharp knife
    Until you use it three times and it becomes a short but remarkably dull knife.
  • A nail file
    Also great for three uses. 
  • A toothpick
    Does anyone else gross out after using a toothpick twice?
  • A pair of tweezers. 
    I never had a use for those.

Anyway, I started using the knife and nail file to work on my nails.  It was working well until a girlfriend (ie. a cute girl who sat next to me in history) told me how annoying it was.  I was crushed and gave up using it.  Eventually, another cute girl told me I pick my nails when I'm thinking, but I still gave up the knife.
Well, for a while, anyway.
I tried putting Vaseline on my nails.  I couldn't pick them if they were slippery, right?  Yeah, if girls thought nail picking was a turn off, they really hated my squishy handshake.

The point is, nothing I tried helped me stop.  Only two things ever had the slightest effect:
  1. I got a watch.  I needed thumbnails to open the band.  So, I learned to grow my thumbnails out.
  2. I got mono one summer.  When I recovered, I noticed my nails had grown back.  Then I started picking them again.

Anyway, as part of my birthday of self-improvement, I got a wristband.  You snap it every time you catch yourself picking or biting or, I suppose, doing anything bad.
We should make politicians wear them.
I got a cheap bag of "issue bands" that say things like Dream and Courage and Faith.  I like that they have insipid, inspirational sayings on them and that they break easily.
Just like your dream, courage, and faith.
They all broke, so I went to the store and found a $3 charity band.  I don't even know what the charity is.  I just wanted the band.
I must be the last person who donated just to get a wristband since the Lance Armstrong doping scandal.
So, did it work?  Here's before:

Here's after:

We can call that a win.

I just realized fingernails really suck.  Okay, they have advantages.  I can scratch the hard to reach parts of my back and I can... Um...

Yeah.  That's about it.

And they feel so weird.  I mean they... Bend.  They flex.  I thought they'd be like giant talons of death, but I got bendy talons of squishiness.  Yeah, that won't help you with hot girls either.  Back to Vaseline.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Birthday 2015 - Part 3: Wood Video

Before you read anything else, watch this video.  If you don't have a high speed internet connection you can wait. 

Don't scroll down.  That's cheating.  I spent a heck of a long time putting it together; I expect you to see it.


Originally, Master Markowitz ("Stop calling me 'master'") was planning on having me do a side kick to break the boards.  After a few tries it became clear that I'm as tight as Pat Robertson at a GLAAD convention.
Well, until some hot guy gets a few drinks into him.
He decided I should punch the boards instead.  He ran me through crouching and punching and crouching and punching, making suggestions here and there.  I really didn't expect I would be able to break anything (especially after my first failure, above), but it wasn't has hard as I thought.

In the end, I broke four boards: two with my fist and two "knife hand."
No, that's not what I meant.
I figured four was enough, so Sensei Dave ("Tae Kwan Do is Korean.  Sensei is Japanese") broke the other two with his foot, proving I'm as tight as Phyllis Schlafly after 30 years of marriage.
"I don't understand.  We were married 44 years."
The strangest part?  My hand only hurt for a couple hours.  My left butt cheek and right shoulder ached for days.  Did I mention I was tight?

In any case: another (big) regret down.

Next week: fingernails!

No: Really.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Birthday 2015 - Part 3: Wood

When I was in school I was bullied a lot.  In elementary school, I was attacked by a kid named Larry (nicknamed "Moose" -- I assume for his IQ) in front of my house, but my mother ran out and stopped it.  A kid named Roman and his friend Lauren enjoyed punching the top of my head in junior high.  A kid in my neighborhood spit in my face twice, but ran away when I tried to retaliate.

I can't say my bullying was all that violent; it was more about humiliation.  Mostly I ignored the occasional hit or insult.  When I got to college I was determined to change.  I entered a frail, scared geek. I wanted to leave a powerful man.
My hopes.  Also (almost) the name of a classic monster game.
Free classes were offered in the evenings.  I took massage hoping it would help me with women (it didn't).  I took fencing hoping it would make me be cool (it didn't).  I took martial arts hoping I would learn to defend myself (it...  Well, I haven't been attacked, so I don't know).

We studied Tae Kwon Do, Judo, and Hapkido, three completely contradictory arts.  We students were so confused, we fell down at the end of every session.

Or was that just part of the Judo training?

Anyway, what excited me most was the promise of board breaking.  Almost every session I would ask Master Porzio ("Don't call me master.") if we could break boards with our hands.  On the last day before summer, he took me to go get wood get boards.
"You kids stay off my lawn/lumber yard!"
We visited a lumber yard, got some small boards (12x12x.5), and returned to school. As the most enthusiastic student, I got to go first.  I stood before everyone, trembling with excitement (what martial arts practitioners and new age nutballs call "chi energy").

I thought I was going to punch the board, but Master Porzio ("Stop calling me master.") set the board up on blocks at my feet.  He told me to punch down in a circular motion, like turning a steering wheel.

I punched the board like he said.  Ow.

I tried again.  Double ow.

He punched the board himself to see if the knot in the middle was a problem.  It broke.

"It's a mental barrier.  If you imagine yourself doing it, you will."

Punch. Ow.  Punch.  Ow.

He let the other students try.  They broke the boards with little problem.  I went back to my room, then went back and watched for a bit.  The other students broke boards all night long.  They broke them with their palms, their heels.

I didn't try again.

It bothered me for years.  Wasn't breaking mental barriers how you achieved success? If I couldn't break a board, would I fail at everything else?

When I decided to have an "ending regret" birthday, breaking a board was the first thing I wanted to do.  I found a friend with a black belt who agreed to come over and help me.

First, I headed to the lumber yard.
I got wood picked up lumber here.

Getting wood is harder than it sounds. Buying the appropriate board isn't easy.  I was banned from Home Depot after the whole "You sawed a board in half, decided you want it, and left." incident.  When I found a nearby lumber yard, I wasn't sure what I needed.  I bought pine boards (12x12x1) but, on the way home, balked at how freaking thick my wood that is.

No way I could break that.
No. Freaking. Way.

I went back and got 1/2 inch boards.  My wood The boards were really-eally narrow, but thin enough to break.
My wood My board is long and thick.
The day came, and I met Master Markowitz ("Just call me Dave") to give him his payment.
True fact: you can pay for martial arts instruction with burritos.
Then we went back to my house, and I got wood the boards.

I put on my old judo gi (it still fit), but couldn't find my old white belt.  I put on a red one from an old Society for Creative Anachronism outfit.
SCA, making the world creepy one geek at a time!
"That's not big enough," Dave said as I held up my wood boards.

The thinner boards weren't the right dimensions and wouldn't break properly.  Nervously, I showed him my thick wood 1" boards.

"Yeah, that's fine," Dave ("Kyo Sa Nim Markowitz is more accurate.") said.

More next week.