Saturday, April 29, 2017

How to Be an American: An Assimilation Guide for Immigrants

[UNOFFICIAL DRAFT - NOT TO BE DISTRIBUTED TO NEW CITIZENS]

Hello, invader and potential terrorist! 

If you've passed the immigration test then you know the names of all the presidents, the full text and importance of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.  You know the dates of all our wars and their causes (not slavery, no matter what the Northerners say).

But ask yourself: do you know what it means to truly be an American?

Is it having a gun?  Driving a giant car?  Is it neglecting personal hygiene and common courtesy?
No.  Being an American is more than that.  It's a culture.  To be a Real American, you have to throw aside your beliefs and style of living.

Some handy tips:
  • Lose the accent
    There's only one American accent: YELLING AT PEOPLE WITH ACCENTS.
  • Eat American food
    Traditional American meal plan:


Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
Sunday
Breakfast
Bacon
Ham
Sausage
Eggs
Sugar Smacks
Lucky Charms
Steak
Lunch
McDonalds
Taco Bell
Burger King
Arby's
Wendy's
Subway
KFC
Dinner
BBQ
Fried Chicken
Pizza
Salisbury Steak
BBQ
Hot Dog
Double Burger

Don't forget, American food is plentiful.  If you can see your feet, you're not American enough
  • Complexion
    Americans have, um, clear skin.  Apply one of the following makeup colors: chalk, porcelain, or cream.  Make sure you cover everything.
Before and after
  • Entertainment
    Buy the biggest TV you can and get the most expensive cable package. Get either an XBOX or a Switch.  Don't get a Playstation.  Those are made in Japan.
  • Buy a Kindle, but never use it.  Just put it on your end table so people think you read.

    Music is limited to Country, Rock and Roll, and Hip-Hop, and Disco.  Celine Dion is American, no matter what her birth certificate says.  Rap music is foreign and causes kids to have premarital sex and kill white people each other.
  • News
    Remember the transitive property of mainstream media:
    Everyone is biased
    Therefore every news outlet is biased
    Conclusion = you can only trust Fox News, Breitbart, Trump's Twitter feed, and whatever meme your friends post on Facebook.
  • Political Involvement
    Don't.
  • Religion
    Christian.  You don't have to go to Church or read the Bible.  Just yell at anyone who doesn't wish you a Merry Christmas.


These are a great start.  Soon, you'll be bombing foreign countries and threatening foreigners just like the rest of us!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Libraries

I have an affinity for libraries.  I married a librarian.  I own a card catalog.
I even built the stand.
You don't know what a card catalog is?  Oh good grief.

For centuries, you found a book in a library by looking through drawers of little cards with the titles printed on them.  I grew up in a city with one of the first libraries to use a computer instead of a card catalog.

I remember I was surprised when I saw a giant IBM-PC sitting in the middle of the nonfiction section. I went over and did a search on the first (and let's face it, only) thing that crossed my mind: SEX.

Nothing happened.  This was in the days before graphical user interfaces.  If you did anything wrong, if you mistyped a single character, you'd have to start again from scratch.
I shall tell you of this SEX, pimply human.
Seeing my consternation, a librarian came over and loudly declared: "SEX? THAT'S A POPULAR TOPIC THESE DAYS. I CAN HELP YOU FIND SEX. LET ME PRESS THE SEX KEYS. HERE, NOW YOU'RE LOOKING AT SEX. I HOPE I HELPED YOU FIND ALL THE SEX IN THE LIBRARY."

Hundreds of books scrolled down the screen.  Several minutes later, I figured out the key combination for "For the love of God, please turn this off."

A few minutes later: "HEY, YOU TURNED OFF A LISTING OF ALL THE BOOKS IN THE LIBRARY THAT ARE ABOUT SEX. DID YOU FIND THE SEX YOU WERE LOOKING FOR?"

I didn't go into a library again until I graduated high school.  My father took me from college to college so we could choose one for me.

In the 80s, college tours always included a trip to see the library.  Back then, the internet was just six computers hooked together with wires and geek semen; if you wanted to do a research paper, you'd have to hit the library.

But how do you know if a library was good or not?  They all looked like big buildings filled with books.  I asked my father how he could tell if a library was good.  He walked to the nearest computer and typed in: SEX.

Just kidding.  He typed in his own last name: KAGLE.  Three books appeared: two of his and one of my mom's.

He smiled.  "Not a bad library.  A great library would have had four or five.  Three is okay."
Ever since that day, when I went into a new library I would search for my last name.  I almost never found anything.

As I write this, I'm sitting in the Los Altos library, where I just did this test.  Okay, I typed in SEX first, but KAGLE came next.  None of my fathers' books came up, nor my mothers' but MINE DID.
Here it is on the "Nobel Prize for Literature" shelf
They have all my books.
Actually, no you didn't buy it with tax funds.  I donated it.


Not a bad library. 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

!!!!Pinhole Sweepstakes!!!!!!

When I was writing this blog every weekday, I found it easier to come up with topics.  Everything I noticed while writing became a post.  Some examples:

  • Why are Starbucks bathrooms so dirty?
  • Hey, I got a free drink today because the barista screwed up!
  • Why did they take away the comfy chairs and put in wooden ones?
  • I think I'm going to start working at Peet's.
  • The nice old couple I met at the coffee shop.
  • Dear God, why do they keep talking to me?
  • Why is the homeless guy who yells at his newspaper always next to me?

However, since I've been only writing once a week, I feel like my posts should be more substantial, but I've run out of substantial material.  Every week has been a struggle, so I'm willing to spend money to come up with blog posts.

That's where Amazon saved my bacon.  They created a new way of marketing your book: the sweepstakes.  You decide how to choose a winner (random, in order they come, etc.), you decide how many prizes you want to give out, and you pick what the contestant has to do to win.

The conditions were the hard part.  I couldn't think of a poll.  I didn't want to make people follow me on or tweet something.

And who the heck is Yuval Noah Harari?!
I did, however, want to make the world a better place, and what better way to do so than by increasing the flagging sales of my book working against anti-intellectualism while spreading the gospel of Tim Minchin*?

So, here's the deal: click here to watch Tim Minchin's Storm and I'll buy you a copy of my novel Pinhole.  It's only for the first twenty people, so if you've already got one or are too late, here's the video:


And voila!  A new blog post for only $20!

*Pleasedon'tsuemepleasedon'tsuemepleasedon'tsueme

Sunday, April 9, 2017

47

There was a strange rash of the number 47 in my life recently.  While working on my son's pinewood derby car, I saw his last one.

I started playing a new game, whose main character's first name is 47.

I watched an episode of Star Trek the Next Generation (Frame of Mind) where Commander Riker is imprisoned in Ward 47.

I was looking up the first home I owned (Unit 47).
No, those aren't my decorations.

My wife works in building 47.

"What is up with all the forty sevens?!" I cried to the sky.
"You're about to turn forty seven." the sky called back.
"Ohhhhh!  Thank you sky."
"No problem.  Also, it's going to rain tomorrow.  You'll want to cover the grill."

All both of you who read my blog know I do something wacky on my birthday.  However, this year I have to do something especially wacky because it's a birthday where I turn a number ending in 7.  Birthdays that end in 7 have a special significance for me.  

A quick review of all my past "7s Birthdays."

7 Years Old
A few days after my 7th birthday, I went to the first showing of Star Wars.  I went from being someone who hated science fiction to someone who wanted to write it someday.

17 Years Old
The day after my 17th birthday, the USS Stark was hit by missiles and 47 sailors died.
I'm not into conspiracy theories, but 47 sailors died.  47.  This year is my 47th birthday.  See?  SEE?  Connect the dots, people.
Of course, the Lamestream Media will point out that only 37 were killed (21 wounded), but this Wikipedia page (but not this one) says 47, and the standard rule with conspiracy theories is to ignore contradicting info.

27 Years Old
At 27 I came face to face with my own mortality.  I was in the parking lot of a Borders Bookstore in Redwood City, California when I thought:

I'm 27.
27 is nearly 30.
When you turn 30, you're no longer young.
30 is nearly 40.
40 is pretty much 50.
50 is halfway to 100.
Almost nobody makes it to 100.
27 is 100 is dead.
I'm going to die soon.

37 Years Old
On my 37th birthday I found out I was going to be a father (which was a shock, as I already was one).

47 Years Old
So, I'm working on what to do on my birthday.  It has to be awesome.  Some ideas I'm toying with:

In honor of my 7th birthday: Break into George Lucas's home and leave him a cake.
In honor of my 17th birthday: Re-enact the attack on the USS Stark.  Only with marshmallows and blowtorches.
In honor of my 27th birthday: Find a Borders.
In honor of my 37th birthday: Have another child.

And then there's:
Blacksmithing classes.  I could make 47 horseshoes.
Take film classes and make a movie 47 minutes long.
I've never done a cartwheel.  I could do 47 of them.
Learn to bike without using my hands.  Bike 47 miles (326 km for those using the metric system)


So, any thoughts?  I'll take the first 47 suggestions.