Friday, April 29, 2011

Changing People's Lives

In recent memory, I've had a big impact on major decisions for two people that I barely know.  In both cases, I thought I was pushing them away from a bad decision that I had made, but maybe I was just over-dramatizing the worst attributes of where I was at the time.  Like I've said before, no matter how much I complain, my life hasn't been too bad.  For some reason, that doesn't make me complain any less.  Anyway...

The first incident happened at UCLA.  An undergrad had been working with my group, and they were trying really hard to get him to stay there for grad school.  I didn't meet him until he landed an internship at U-Wisconsin-Madison and I was supposed to train him on neutronics before he left for the summer (pretty much so he could spy for us).  Anyway, the following fall he was accepted to both UCLA and Wisconsin for grad school (maybe some others, I dunno).  I wrote him a long email convincing him to get as far away from my lab as possible.  I don't know if we saw each other at all that entire school year.  However, at some point throughout the year I returned to my office with a small envelope on my desk with my name on it.  It was from this student.  He had decided to go to U-W and thanked me for being so honest about the situation at UCLA.  The whole time I was at UCLA, I regretted not accepting the offer I got from U-W.  I practically used this kid to fulfill my regret.  I truly believe it was for the better, though.  I still have his Thank You note.

The second time it happened was a week or two ago.  A bright, young, Boise State graduate interviewed at the place I work.  He got dropped off in my office for me to explain everything that I do.  As it turns out, I'm pretty much the only person doing real work on the engineering side of things at this place.  I'm sure I was just supposed to explain the documents I've drafted and the projects I've done, to show the breadth of engineering work available here.  I did that, but I spent way more time filling him in on the lousy California housing market, how the President of the company may be bipolar, how there's no room for advancement (nepotism made two 23-yr-olds Vice Presidents of the company), how I don't find the bathrooms on site acceptable, and that he'll likely be low-balled in his salary offer.  This guy seemed nice, had a wife and a kid, and was moving from ID to CA.  Maybe it's because I'm here temporarily and have no reason to make the job sound better than it is.  Maybe it's because I realize that I wouldn't be happy if I worked here for years.   He just emailed me to let me know that he found a better job in Salt Lake City, so I feel like this instance was truly for the better, too.

What I can't decide is if I helped these people out of compassion, or if I'm just a negative person that has trouble seeing the good in all situations.  I'm sure I was far from the only influence in their decisions.  Maybe they had their mind made up before I intervened.  Who knows...

Honesty certainly has its benefits, but am I just pessimistic?  Realistically,

Thursday, April 28, 2011

2-hour Delay

Growing up in Michigan, we sporadically had 2-hour school delays.

Today, Annie and I woke up late.  We decided we would go to work late (as opposed to completely skipping, which we call a 'snow day').  I immediately felt like I had a 2-hour delay.  It made me laugh.  When I told Annie, she had no clue what I was talking about.

Apparently, 2-hour delays aren't universal.  In Tahoe, if the weather isn't good enough for school when it is supposed to start, then it's just not good enough.  Classes canceled.  In Michigan, we have fog, or ice, or sub-zero temperatures that can go away fast enough that 2 hours does make a big difference.  Plus, who doesn't want an extra 2 hours in the morning?

This obviously doesn't apply to UofM.  TMD.

Tip: don't go back to sleep.  It's always the first impulse.  Let's be honest, though.  You're up, your circadian rhythm has finished its cycle, and the rest of your day's schedule didn't change, so you were ready to wake up and deal with a full day.  Enjoy 2 hours of nothing.  (This morning, I caught up on dishes.)  The rest of your day is going to feel super quick anyway, so don't dread!

I do remember the one time in high school where I didn't hear about the delay.  I showed up to school, pretty much by myself.  I sat in Senior Hall and read a book for two hours.  It was geek wonderland.  (I probably got bonus points from the English department... somebody had to have noticed me... very few of you will understand my relationship with the English department in my high school.)

Here's to 2-hour delays, even though we're big kids now!

Holiday Candy

It's a sad day today, like it is every year around this time.  Yesterday, I ate my last Cadbury Creme Egg.
Let's all take a moment of silence.
Thank you.
I used to feel the same way about Sweethearts, but they changed the flavors last year and now they suck.
I do get the same feeling with the last slice of pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, though.
Good thing gummi bears are year round!

At what age can you say, "screw it, I'll never be skinny anyway," stock up on CCEs, and enjoy their gooey, sweet deliciousness year round?

I did see a box of 48 for sale on Amazon for $50+ when I was googling for pictures of CCEs...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Easter Games

It's an annual tradition (started long before I came around) that Annie's family celebrates Zombie Jesus Day by getting together and playing games.  There is usually a theme to the weekend (Deal or No Deal, Olympics, etc.). There's usually some tennis (sometimes a tourney).  The weekend usually ends with an easter egg hunt for the kids (and like Xmas, 'kid' is loosely defined as anyone without a child, so I'm still thrown in with middle-schoolers).

I've made references to the manliness of working with my hands over the past few weeks.  Well, these are the secret project I was working on:

Cornhole!  Complete with maize & blue cornbags.
Collapsed Beer Pong (L) & Flip Cup (R) Tabletops.

Unfolded Collapsible Beer Pong (T) & Flip Cup (B) Tabletops.
Ladder Golf!
Somehow, Annie and I got put in charge of the games this year.  So, she came up with a tailgate theme (bringing the best of the Midwest to her granola-y, hippie, Californian family).  I commenced to getting all of those games built and painted.  Don't get me wrong, Annie helped a little (she half spray painted the tops of the bases of the ladder golf... and some of the yellow on ladder golf... and the big M's on beer pong and cornhole [which I outlined for her]).  I also had some help from her uncle and his powertools.  In general, though, most of this was done by me with really simple tools and a fair amount of time!

We split the 20 people into 10 randomly-assigned teams and randomly assigned each team a color.  We asked teams to wear their colors and made everyone play each other until there was an overall winner.  Yes, some people ended up playing beer pong with their grandparents.  Yes, children were screaming at parents to flip cups faster.  (People were allowed to drink whatever they wanted, so the 12 year old wasn't throwin' back brewskies.)

Judging by the volume of the festivities (and my slight drunkenness after adding Jack to my Coke for the drinking games), much fun was had by all!

We needed to build these for our epic Michigan Football Tailgating plans this Fall anyway,

You Know that Episode of...

...Seinfeld where George bla-blah bla-blah....

...Simpsons where Homer blah blah bla-bla-blah...

...Friends where Phoebe blah....

No, I don't.  I didn't watch them, and I probably don't care about your reference.  Don't try and explain the whole episode.
You're a big kid now; reference a movie.

Had no clue when I was complaining about this in my head... that there'd be so many underwear shots,

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

All the Math in the World...

I have a minor in applied mathematics, which I received along with my bachelor's in Nuclear Engineering at Michigan.  Since then, I've taken more math classes.  I like math.  I'm good at math, and I feel like I've taken most (if not all) of the applicable math courses that I should need to solve all the problems I'll run into in the future.

Apparently not!

First evidence of this: last week's puzzler on Car Talk (I podcast it).

The problem: 'how far apart are two 100' tall telephone poles if the 150' line between their tops droops down to 25' above the ground?'

My answer:  I used hyperbolic trigonometry to prove 126' apart.  I've known for a long time that hyperbolic cosine defines how telephone/electric wires droop (it's one of the few real-world applications), and this was the first time that I looked up the equations to figure out how.  It wasn't too hard, and I felt really accomplished as I submitted it to the Car Talk website with the full mathematical explanation.

The real answer: They'd have to be touching.  75' is half the length of the line, and the line has to droop 75'.  Math clouded up my ability to see the trick in the question.

Second evidence of this: trying to form the schedule for Easter games.

The problem: There are 10 teams.  There are 4 games.  One game requires 4 teams, the other 3 games require 2 teams.  Design a schedule so that all teams get to play all games, but they have to play the game that requires 4 teams twice (so 5 total rounds).  Also, no two teams play with or against each other more than once.  (You may have seen this on facebook if you are friends with me.)

My answer:  Hours upon hours of spreadsheets, drawing scenarios on paper, and even chopping up a bunch of pieces of paper and moving things around on my coffee table lead to no solution.  I would not accept that it wasn't possible.  There seemed to be too many combinations for this not to be possible.  At the last minute I was able to make it so that nobody played the same team twice in the 3 games that require 2 teams, but there were some of the same matchups in the 4-team game.  At one point, Annie caught me writing out ratios of factorials to try and determine the number of permutations of this scenario (which I failed to find since not all of the permutations were the same length).

The real answer:  It's not possible.  I still can't prove this mathematically, but Annie and I methodically approached this problem from every angle, without success.  So, until I'm proven otherwise (and I'm not going to prove myself wrong), the scenario wanted doesn't work.  I wish I had known this beforehand.  It would have saved me hours of my life that I'll never get back.

U + Me = Us.  [At least] I know my Calculus,

30 by 30 #1-5

I've heard of a few blogs posting lists like this, and I think it's a great idea.  Below I'll list (and check off) 30 things that I would like to do before I'm 30 years old.  I don't have great ideas for all 30 yet, so I'll be posting it in increments of 5.  I'd be happy to hear what you think (you can add comments or Tweet me ideas @roberree #30by30)!

30 by 30
1. Travel outside of the U.S.
2. Read Moby Dick (may be replaced by another classic).
3. Take a singing lesson to find out if there's any hope.
4. Learn how to make crepes.
5. Weigh less than 200 lbs.

Here's to getting the things you always wanted,

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Death by Fast Food

Last Saturday was one of those days where I just felt off.  Annie and I got up and rushed to Zumba.  (Have I mentioned how much I Zumba?  If you don't know what that means, don't look into it.)  Anyway, we were late (a typical occurrence lately) and it was packed full.  I told Annie I didn't even want to do it if there were that many people (I like a lot of space to get my dance on!).  She looked at me like I was being dramatic, but she gave in and we left.

We drove over to Bake Sale Betty in hopes that the fresh strawberries at the farmers' market meant that they'd be making her favorite dessert: strawberry shortcake using their buttery scones.  They had them, and that made her day.  We also found out that they can make their famous chicken sandwiches without green pepper, so I am excited to go back and try another one (their cole slaw is almost entirely bell pepper, and I didn't like it).

We then took Angel to the dog park for a while and decided to drive out to Alameda's Borders since it was due to close on Tax Day and may have a bunch of cheap finds.  The only way she convinced me to go was by saying that I could get my tennis racquet restrung at the Big 5 next door.  I broke one of my strings while playing the evening before.  So, I gave in.  It turns out that Big 5 doesn't restring racquets.  That, and the long line at Jamba Juice that I decided to avoid, got me frustrated.

Though I did find a book I'd needed to finish a series for $3 at Borders, I was still a little moody.  When I was walking to my car, I saw that the Jamba Juice was still too busy.  I noticed that See's Candy was empty though, and I snuck in for a few of my favorites: milk chocolate butterscotch squares.  Way better than bordeaux.  Way better.

I knew that Sports Authority restrung racquets, so we had to make the trek back to Emeryville.  After finally getting my tennis racquet in for stringing (which led to a free $130 racquet), I walked next door to Taco Bell for some comfort food.  I wasn't super hungry, but I definitely wanted something to help my sour mood.

It's really sad that I consider that comfort food.  Yet, like all fast food, there's something satisfying about it, even though it's certainly awful for me and regularly don't enjoy the feelings I'm left with.  It's like they use MSG or something.

Anyway, comfort food it was not.  All I wanted to do for the next few hours was throw up.  I tried a few times, unsuccessfully.  I don't think I'm even capable of throwing up any more.  I haven't actually vomited since I was in 8th grade, a story which has been retold so many times that Annie probably feels like she was there with me.  I pretty much laid around moaning until I finally just went to bed.

Everything went better on Sunday, and since then, but crappy Taco Bell really capped an already-bad day,

I think I'm avoiding Toxic Hell for a while.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Neighborly Dinner Invites

I spent all of Sunday out on my lawn cutting, screwing, pounding, and painting PVC and plywood creations.
I know.  You're getting excited to find out what I'm working on, but you'll have to wait until Easter, when they are due.

Anyway, a neighbor invited us over for Cioppino, which they had apparently made too much of.  This is cool because I always say 'hi' to all of my neighbors, and I try to make it feel welcoming (my biggest complaint about California).  Annie and I were never really sure about the relationship status of the couple that invited us, so we were happy to be able to clear up a bunch of things.  Plus, this would be good practice for making friends.

Ten brief minutes later, while I was wrapping things up, I heard an explosion at the house next door.  It sounded like a propane cylinder exploded.  (A sound I had heard once before when Granny lit the grill with the top shut, throwing her against the house and singeing her eyebrows.)  I asked if everything was OK.  A 30-something woman came stumbling out (seemingly drunk but claiming to just have woken up from a nap).  She thanked me for caring and invited me over for steaks.  Apparently, the sound I thought I heard was indeed the sound of someone inappropriately igniting a grill.

We chose Cioppino, and I was surprised to see that another person from my apartment building had been invited to dinner (with his girlfriend).

So, I got to know 1/2 of my apartment building, and I got invited to 2 dinners.  There's hope for this place!

I should hang out in front of my apartment building more often,

P.S. Granny was fine.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Sonoma Valley Trip

On Friday, Annie and I got to experience our first pickup party as wine club members.  It was fun, and I truly believe that we found one of the hidden gems of Napa/Sonoma Wine Country: Hook & Ladder Winery.  Their wine is delicious, super reasonably priced, and their tasting room is the most welcoming environment I've found in all of my wine tasting travels.  Friday, we showed up about 20 minutes before closing.  It was jam packed full of people, and we were immediately nervous about who we check in with and where to stand and how everything works.

Five seconds after we were through the door, one of the ladies pouring yelled over for us to come join her while she found us 2 clean glasses.  Every person I talk to there is more than willing to tell you everything they know and to make you feel as comfortable as possible.  Then, when they gave me the total bill for this quarter's club shipment and all the extra wine we had bought there, it was about $50 less than I expected.  We just kept adding bottles, since it felt that cheap!  The worst part about it was that they had sold out of my favorite vintages of my favorite wines, but I can't really complain that they make good, popular wine for such a small winery!

We woke up Saturday morning and hit up the Healdsburg Downtown Bakery & Creamery to try their doughnut muffins (among other things) since they were featured on Best Thing I Ever Ate.  They were good, but not nearly as good as their Pain au Chocolat or their Sticky Buns (we got both while they were warm)!!!  Then we went to pick up our quarterly olive oil shipment from Dry Creek Olive Company.  We're part of their olive oil club (just like a wine club, but cooler).  The guy there remembered me, which always makes me feel like a VIP, and we tried some of their just-released, new oils.  This place is always great, they have bocci ball on site, and we're seeing them pop up more and more in Norcal.  I really wish they had a facebook or twitter page so I could hype them more!

Finally, we spent the rest of the day tasting at 5 other tasting rooms (3 of them at wineries) while driving south to head home.

Big Surprises
Kaz Winery.  We went there because we have made friends with someone in the Bay Area with really close connections.  Our friend got us a free tasting of their whole fleet of wines, and Kaz was happy to give us the 'friends' discount which was RIDICULOUS!  We bought a 1/2 case of their wine.  For those of you that know us, this is a TON of wine for one winery.  We were worried that it wasn't going to be good, but that we would power through to save face with our friend.  We were wrong.  Their alicante blew my mind.  We even did some port tasting, which is usually not one of Annie's things.  She liked it so much that we bought one just for her!  Heck, we even bought a bottle of their hot sauce!!

Also, we ate at Zazu, which is a restaurant adjacent to the farm that's providing most of the food.  They make and sell their own bacon.  The food wasn't spectacular, but their bacon-wrapped dates were superb.  We bought a package of their bacon to take home.  We ate the whole package Sunday morning.

In asking around for winery suggestions before going to Sonoma, we heard Benziger a few times.  I even started to see it more at retailers (though I think that's because I always used to confuse it with Beringer).  Their property is gigantic, and they were in the middle of a huge party for their wine club members.  That wasn't a big deal, since it was separate and didn't really clog up the tasting room.  Though nobody was rude or snobby, big places like that just don't have the same warm feeling that Sonoma does so well.  You never feel like anybody cares rather or not you like their wine.  2 of their wines were absolutely amazing, but I couldn't afford a single bottle in their reserve tasting room.  They did move us halfway through our tasting to an even cooler room (just us and one other couple tasting) because the first reserve room was filling up, but that didn't really make it any better.  They also overcharged my card for an extra tasting, and the lady had the hardest time fixing it.  She ended up giving me her card and saying, "In case you get charged for 2 extra, which may have happened at this point, feel free to call and give them my name."  We got a free tasting for their sister winery, Imagery, and we're hoping we have a better time there.  One other thing to mention is that they are a biodynamic winery, and if you have any interest in super-organic woo-woo farming, you should research what biodynamic means.

Annie and I live off Cline Ancient Vine Zinfandel.  They sell it at Trader Joes and BevMo! and other wine retailers.  So, we were enthusiastic to hear that the wines they pour at their winery aren't mass-produced or widely distributed.  When we showed up, it was the end of a huge party (April in Carneros), so the property was filled with intoxicated people.  We got to taste everything we wanted for free, but the environment wasn't that inviting.  The kid pouring our wine couldn't have been more than 19, and he was pretty tied up by 3 drunken 19-yr-old-looking girls.  At least he admitted "a few of these wines are cheaper at BevMo!" for those wines that they actually sell at BevMo! (not the wines we were tasting).  I'll definitely be going back here once I can find an odd time where they'll be empty and able to treat me like the huge fan that I am.

Other places
Mutt Lynch, a dog winery that Angel was invited into and treated like the princess he is.
Deux Amis, a winery that shares a tasting room with Mutt Lynch, but I couldn't sip without my big nose being in the way of the shape of their small tasting glasses.
Glen Ellen Market, a gigantic deli with good food right next to Benziger.

One great moment of the day was at Mutt Lynch/Deux Amis when a group of 4 friends came in and tasted.  As they were leaving, they told one of the pourers they were heading over to Napa Valley and asked if they had any recommendations.  None of the 3 pourers in the room could think of a single place, since they all "hadn't been to Napa in years."  It's so funny to think that they are so close, yet there is really no reason to go spend money in Napa when you're surrounded by amazing, cheap wine in Sonoma!!

If you are heading up to either Napa or Sonoma in the near future, I'd be happy to tag along or just offer advice,

Pros & Cons of Dog Ownership

A few months ago I started working on a follow up about Angel describing all of the engineering Annie and I did to try and keep him in his kennel.  I never got around to finishing it (I have something like 25 posts that I've worked on and haven't finished or decided not to publish).  Sure, he had one day where he ate 3 Cadbury Creme Eggs and wouldn't throw up, and we had another incident where he tore through the trash to eat some Alfredo sauce, but, in general, he's been better lately.  We bought a topper for his kennel that straps down and doesn't allow him to come out.  So, the household is generally happier.  Somebody needs to clip his nails though.

He gets really excited if you come home and lay in bed.

That happened when I came home the other day.  He was falling off the bed, and in an attempt to steady himself, dragged one of his nails across the entire width of my arm.  I don't want people to think that Angel is difficult.  Actually, in the mornings, he is the best snuggle-buddy ever in the history of existence.
Yeah, that's right.  He's covered up, snuggling, using Annie's pillow to sleep.
Annie's in Disneyland with the fam right now, so most of the time I'm home, Angel and I are snuggled up exactly like this.  He'll definitely get all pretty (bathed, clipped, brushed) for this weekend's Easter activities, in hopes he doesn't bite any kids this time...

Be jealous,

Friday, April 15, 2011

Examine Your Zipper

Move over MacGyver.  Or, is MacGruber a more appropriate reference for my generation?  Anyway...

In my few days of epic manliness, I decided to fix something that has been bothering me for months.  Let me start by saying that I've never been a big fan of jeans.  (I have to emphasize that I mean jean pants, cuz I've always had a soft spot for jean shorts.  Screw you.)  Anyway, Annie convinced me to buy two ridiculously cheap pairs of nice jeans at Old Navy on Black Friday.  (Soon to be called Rebecca Black Friday?)  They were $15, and it was getting cold, and I had been considering buying some nicer/trendier jeans.  I now wear them almost every day.  They work for every occasion.  I trade off between the two pairs for every day at work.  One problem though.

The zippers suck!  They never stay up.  I'm regularly seen zipping up my pants during all kinds of awkward moments.  Here's where my magical fix-it powers (available this week only) come into play.

Though my female roommates never seem to be able to find them, I feel like I live in an endless sea of bobby-pins and hair-ties.  This was a perfect chance to steal one of them and do some good for the world.  (I don't think I'm overestimating the whole-wordly appeal of my fly not being unzipped all day.  I had to give up my lent avoidance of underwear because of it.)  Anyway, here was my fix:

I had to chew a paper clip into the right shape to fasten a tool to pull the hair-tie through.
It works perfectly.  There's just one frustrating thing, which I've never realized before.  Zipping your pants before buttoning them is surprisingly difficult.  I never thought of doing it 'backward' and it made me wonder how many people actually fasten their pants that way.  (I had a friend in college that admitted to always wiping his butt 'backward' [top to bottom] and it blew my mind.)  Anyway, this wonderful mechanism has to be fastened to the button before the button is shoved in the hole to finish the pants-fastening.  That'll do, pig.

You can tell how fast (and how unfiltered) a post is written based on the number of parentheticals,

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Winds are Changing

I used to be one of the luckiest people I knew.  While at Michigan, I:

  • won cash at a 50/50
  • won a digital camera
  • won a DVD player
  • Granny won (and gave me) a free trip for 2 to Las Vegas ($$, amazing room in Caesars, luggage, airfare, etc.)
  • Pops won the lotto and bought me a new car
  • won a pre-show Rent raffle in NYC
  • won a pre-show Wicked raffle in Chicago
  • Annie's sister was the 1st name pulled in a pre-show Wicked raffle in Los Angeles
  • went to a free Ludacris concert and sat in the middle of the 4th row

Then I moved to CA.  It got so bad (which is probably regular-person luck) that I thought it must only happen 'east of the Mississippi'.  The worst moment was when I won premiere tickets to Mummy 3 from a Bay-area radio station, and when I took a group of friends, they handed out ~150 extra tickets and we didn't get it in.  I have reason to believe things are starting to swing my way again.  Here's why:

  1. I think I'm going to pay off one of my credit cards (entirely) by the end of the summer.
  2. I won 2 prizes out of 5 raffle tickets that I bought when seeing my roommate perform in San Francisco (tickets to another show & a psychic reading).
  3. Yesterday, I got a free $130 tennis racquet.
Here's the story.  I bought a Babolat racquet from tenniswarehouse on crazy clearance in 2003.  It was a black/white, over-sized,  Power+, and I used it to win the Huron League Championship and to be named to the Monroe County Dream Team as #1 Doubles my senior year.  I'm getting back into tennis big time.  I took a bunch of lessons in my last quarter at UCLA, and I was playing regularly with one of my closest friends in L.A.  On Friday, I busted the strings on it (though I just had it strung in October).  I took it to Sports Authority, since it was the only place I could find nearby that restrung racquets.  (Yes, I spell it the right way, and not the American way, which makes it look like a gambling racket.)

Anyway, I got a call on Tuesday notifying me that while tensioning the strings to the weight I asked (3 lbs above the tension recommended by the manufacturer), they cracked my racquet.  Instead of blaming me for having an old, over-used racquet and requesting the tension to be higher than it's supposed to (all us tennis players do this), they offered to replace it.  I went there yesterday, and when a manager finally came out to talk to me he said "Grab any racquet on the wall. No limit."  This would be like winning the lotto if I was in a tennis specialty shop, but all the racquets at Sports Authority are pre-strung (note, not super-fancy).  Regardless, I got a brand new racquet to replace a racquet that I paid less for almost 9 years ago.

They even went so far as to refund my string and grip purchase since they "didn't provide those services".  So, I guess, technically, they gave me $160 (+ tax).

I'm obviously ignoring the premiere for She's Out of My League that I saw at Paramount Studios, or the free VIP Paranormal Activity experience I got at Hollywood's Arclight Theater that included free food and meeting the stars of the movie, and the silent auction I snagged for 50-yd line tickets/parking/chancellor's party at a UCLA football game, and everything else I've forgotten I've won in the past decade,

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Yesterday, I went over to Annie's uncle's house to use some of his power tools.  The projects (yes, plural!) that I'm working on will be featured later this month (get excited!).  Anyway, I spent all day Sunday doing things by hand.  I was sore and getting whiny.  So, I had Annie call around and see if anybody had a circular saw and a Dremel.

Back to the point, yesterday I used a circular saw on plywood and managed to assemble two hinged/collapsible wooden objects that I designed.  I got to use sawhorses, a power screwdriver, a hacksaw, and a Dremel.  By the time Annie showed up to get me, I was in a rippling, hairy-chested man-frenzy.

Yes, me.  The wine-sipping, beer-hating, musical-loving, ballroom dancer felt super manly.  My man-hormones (I'm officially dubbing the word pimpmones; get that sh*t on UrbanDictionary stat!) were raging.  As soon as I got home I was flexing my muscles in bed, which led to DIWMGf.

I'm waiting to stub my toe and be returned to reality.

I made one huge discovery in going from manual to power tools.  You've heard the old adage, but it has changed:
Before power tools: 'Measure twice, cut once.'
After power tools: 'Measure once, screw it!'  (you can quickly redo the whole darn thing if you need to)

I discovered this after screwing up one of my drill-holes by 1/4", something I would have never done when I was methodically taking my time and manually screwing each screw in.

My pimpmones be flowin',

P.S. Ewww, I don't actually have a hairy chest.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Pet My Wiener

I'm here, watching the national championship NCAA hockey game (Go Blue!)

However, I'm distracted.  Why, you ask?  Local commercials keep coming on for the Wiener Nationals at a local racetrack.  I laugh every time.  The topper is the organization that sponsors it:
How can anyone take this seriously?  How is this even legal?
Needs to buy a wiener so I can ask this question every 30 seconds,

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Thought That Counts

You've heard the old adage "It's the thought that counts!"  Is it really?  Really?

Today, I brought some experimental S'mores Bars to work that looked amazing on a food blog someone had in their Google chat status.  It's one coworkers last day, and I thought it would be cool to bring in delicious cookies.  (They look like food porn on that link, right?)

Well, my oven apparently cooks hot and they got a little over-cooked.  They're not awful, but they're not amazing.  (I also didn't double the recipe and had to wing the top crust, but that's totally on me.)  As I was deciding between bringing them or just stuffing them in my face by myself in a dark corner of my kitchen later tonight, I caught myself thinking "well, it's the thought that counts."  Then, I called bull$h*t!  (A few more weeks of lent before we return to my unedited language).

It's NOT the thought that counts.  That saying was clearly made by people who purchase $h*tty presents and need to feel better about themselves.  The seed for this thought was planted last night while I was purchasing the S'mores Bars ingredients at a grocery store.  Someone reached in front of me to grab one of these:
(not the old lady, a gift card)
If you have come to the point of gift buying and you have no ideas, do not grab one of these "I thought of you while I was buying diapers at the grocery store" gift cards.  These are the sleaziest merchandise to have taken over our stores.  Multiply that by 10 if you are buying somebody digital credits for Farmville or anything like that.  At least give cash or a check for spending without having to do it where you decided on a thoughtless whim.  (Plus that lets me know exactly how much you spent, so I don't have to price my presents online after I open them.)

Here's a hint, ASK people what they want.  For as long as I can remember, my aunt has always bought me the best Xmas presents, even though we rarely see each other.  How?  She asks me, specifically, what I want.  I know, it takes some of the surprise out of it, but the surprise of getting a crappy present isn't a good surprise.  If you are really close to someone (like how I can read Annie's mind), then feel free to surprise them.  Unless you live with her, you don't know every one of your mom's interests this year.  Maybe she's really thinking about that iPad-thingy, and you had no idea.

Anyway, in terms of spontaneous gifts (like cookies for a coworkers last day), I decided to bring them.  I'll admit that they're over-cooked.  However, I will not say 'it's the thought...'.  Don't want 'em?  Screw you, I'll eat 'em!  I guess I should just give more gifts that I'd be happy to keep...

Step up your game, gift-givers,

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Racist in the Workplace

Let's say you are responsible for training firefighters/police/military/first responders in how to rescue people from burning buildings.  In order to not endanger the trainees (stupid OSHA), you decide to go online and purchase a mannequin (easily spell-able thanks to the late-80s movie).  You come across this 6'1" 165 lb fun-loving guy:
"Rescue Randy Combat Challenge"

Now, let's say you are training police to handcuff tough criminals.  They make a 6'1" 165 lb guy for that, too:
"Handcuffing Police Training Manikin"
The colored dye is so absolutely necessary to most prepare our responders for "manhandling the perps".  After all:

I remember this shirt design (follow the photo link) primarily because Denzel Washington freaked out about it in Ebony (or some magazine like that), and also because it's kinda funny.

Everyone's a little bit racist ♫,

Little, Nose-pickin' Girl

I'm driving down 980 in Oakland to pick up Annie from work.  Suddenly, the car next to me honks a few times. I look over, and this little (7-yr-old?) African American girl is joke picking her nose and waving while her mom honks the car horn.

I realized I was intensely picking my nose.

It was so joyfully awkward that I laughed all the way to Annie's work.

Too bad I wasn't mortified enough to actually stop picking my nose while I drive,

Monday, April 4, 2011

Hate This Color!

Annie is convinced that I'm color blind.  However, I truly think that her conclusion comes from my confusion with one color (and all shades close to it): PANTONE(R) 18-3943 Blue Iris.

Is it blue or is it purple?
Not only is this color the single most confusing color in the history of mankind, but Pantone went and made it the color of the year for 2008.  So, I've been haunted by this color for 3 years.  Shirts and jackets and purses (f-u Michael Kors for making a full line of it) have all popped up sporting this evil color.  I'll usually call it purple, and Annie will look at me and say how clearly blue it is, clarifying how much I suck at colors.

I remember hearing way back in high school Psychology that guys already have a 20% probability of having blue-purple differentiation problems.  Why make it worse, Pantone?  Why?!?

Maybe Annie's the one that sucks at colors,

Friday, April 1, 2011


It's kiwi season (or it's ending), so we have had a regular supply of them at our apartment, thanks to the two weekly farmers' markets we visit.  The other day I caught our vegetarian roommate eating the fuzzy fruit like an apple, peel and all.  I always rip them in half and spoon the insides out like a grapefruit.  She convinced me that it wasn't too awkward, and that it was really healthy for you.

So, I tried it today.  It is the equivalent of what I imagine having hairy balls in your mouth feels like.  I can't get rid of the feeling of hairy sandpaper on my tongue.
Not sure why ^ this one is shaved.
Not sure how this 'Asian scrotum' differentiates from most...
Things I learned while researching this topic:
1) If you're just starting to shave your cobblers, try it on a kiwi first.  (You can click on the shaved kiwi above to get a whole instruction manual on how to shave your figs).

2) There are a bazillion words to talk about testicles:



fruit basket,


wrinkle bag,




baby beans,


man pouch,

snake eyes,



family jewels,





man tonsils,

love spuds,

hanging brain,



cobblers [I've been using this alot lately],






and, finally, my new personal fave, Ewoks.

3) If you've actually made it this far, then your reward is the cutest nutsack I've ever seen:

I'm blown away by how much more traumatizing it is to Google image search "scrotum" as opposed to "hairy scrotum",