Pages

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Almost Me

If I had been a boy, my name would have been Zachary. Zachary David. I like the name Zachary. It’s classic and modern at the same time. I don’t think names that start with “z” will ever go out of style. Only recently have I ever spent time pondering the nonexistent life of this almost-me. I think he—Zachary, I mean—would not have been too different from the actual me.

He has dirty blonde hair that changes shade with the seasons, just like mine. He has light brown eyes and a few freckles that only appear in the sun. His skin is fair but not pale, and he enjoys reading and Sudoku. He’s at least a little unstable, like me, but who isn’t? He was in band in middle school because his grandfather played the saxophone, and continued in high school because he’d fallen in love with making music.

He probably decided to learn to play guitar or drums somewhere along the line because he likes rock music and wants to impress girls. He’s never had a girlfriend though, because he’s a little nerdy and socially awkward. He hopes that when the right person comes along, he’ll know. He’s got a tough outer shell but he’s a softy on the inside. Don’t tell him I told you.

He’s a good older brother. Nobody messes with his little brother and sister without hearing from him. He makes good grades without having to work too hard. He’s stubborn and tenacious. He’s also got a caffeine addiction he picked up from his grandma.

He didn’t read the Thoroughbred series, so he doesn’t have a crazy obsession with horses. He likes dragons, though, and ninjas and pirates and other various hardcore things. He read the Alex Rider books, but felt no compulsion to watch the movie because he did not find the actor who plays Alex dreamy, even with his English accent. As a result, he did not waste a year of his life stalking said actor.

He wields the sword Sarcasm like an extension of himself, fluidly and precisely. He isn’t into purses, but he likes shoes. Guy shoes, you know. He skies and snowboards, but he likes snowboarding better. He doodles, but he doesn’t doodle flowers or horses; he doodles dragons and superheroes and spends time wondering what superpower he would pick if he were to one day get struck by lightning or fall accidentally into a vat of toxic waste. He knows neither of those things will ever happen.

That was Zachary, the almost-me. Perhaps he exists in some alternate reality somewhere. I hope you enjoyed getting to know him. I certainly did.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Unstoppable: The Movie that Never Ends (Get it?)

Friday night, I went to see Unstoppable. I didn't really want to, but a bunch of my friends were going (and you know I'm extremely socially dependent), so I sucked it up and drove across town. My last-ditch effort to convince our group to buy tickets to The Tourist was unsuccessful, but I was armed with sour gummy worms and ready for whatever sap this heroic and emotional movie was sure to throw at me.

The movie started off as expected, setting up for disaster with the train full of kindergarteners, the careless workers, and the witty, good-looking hero learning the ropes on his first day on the job. Even the "mentor" archetype appeared, right on schedule, in Denzel Washington's character. Are you excited yet?

The train inevitably leaves the station, no one at the controls, no air brakes, and in full throttle. I didn't know it yet, but that was probably the most suspenseful part of the whole movie. There is a very limited number of times you can build up to something that turns out not to be the climax before your audience loses interest. Suspense takes emotional investment, and after more than one disappointment, we stop investing. Unstoppable plateaus so many times I couldn't even tell you what the actual climax was. I don't think there was one.

In fact, the train of kindergarteners completely disappears from the story after the first thirty minutes or so. It seems to me they must have met with some tragic disaster separate from the unmanned train and no one noticed because all the policemen and media in the state were wholly consumed by the next impending anticlimax.

Because it was not what I expected, my initial reaction was pleasant surprise; it was not an overemotional tearjerker. The problem was, however, that it wasn't over-anything. It was just boring. And with a movie about an out-of-control train (oh yeah, it's also carrying hazardous materials, in case your snorkel was still above all the clich├ęs) barreling forward at seventy miles an hour, it seems to me it took the director a conscious effort to disappoint. So, if that was the case, congratulations Tony Scott, you succeeded.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Birds and the Bees

After more than 70 years, the world's braintrusts have finally figured out how a bee is able to fly. It seems to me that it wouldn't have taken that long to learn to speak bee. Then, they could have just asked one. But we on the sentient end of things like to do stuff the hard way. I think it makes us feel better about ourselves. But for a species that claims to be so much smarter than those black and orange bugs, we were stumped for an embarassingly long time, if you ask me. Bees: 1. Humans: 0.

The Bee Hummingbird is the smallest bird, at about 5 centimeters in length. Hummingbirds are the only species of bird than can fly backward. Did you know that? I think that if I was an animal, I would be a hummingbird, simply because of the way they look while in flight. Body tilted forward, wings a blur, I can almost hear him yelling, "HERE I COME I'M COMING I'M ALMOST THERE HOLD ON I'M COMING OH MY GOD HERE I COME!" I feel like this describes my life. A lot.

Both bees and hummingbirds drink nectar, and are able to tell the sugar content of the nectar they're drinking. Magnificent mankind would have to use a machine for that. In fact, mankind wasn't even able to assess the amount of sugar in his own blood until 1962, when the first glucose enzyme electrode was invented, probably by a different set of braniacs from the ones who, at this point in time, were still staring at a bee going, "Wha...?" and scribbling furiously in notebooks. Hummingbirds: 1. Humans: 0.

We're behind, folks. But I don't think it's necessary to try and catch up. What is necessary, however, is to stop bragging that we're in first place. We're clearly not. Aspects of the natural world as simple as these have been smarter than us forever. To me, it's a solid counterargument to the "You can't believe in Science and God" line of thinking. (Insert quote from Nacho Libre here.) Either way, it's a poignant reminder to stop every now and again and look around. You might see a hummingbird flying backward, or a bee disproving everything we thought we knew, without even knowing he's doing it.

Bet you didn't think this was actually going to be about birds and bees, did you?

Monday, November 8, 2010

IKROMGLYKEKTHXBAI :)

English is changing. The further technology takes us, the less we communicate with each other using our voices, it seems. In this era of keyboard or keypad communication, it quickly becomes tiresome to type out entire words. When you're messaging instantly, sending bits of information soaring through the interwebs, across the very globe to the computer or phone of your friend, colleague, whatever, who's got the time to actually spell "be right back"?! Acronyms are a new class of words on the rise and it's beat them or join them for the rest of us traditionalists. So I've decided to grab this revolution by the horns. I've come up with a few easy-to-use acronyms that will no doubt make everyone's lives more convenient:

IG2TSDUNA? - I'm going to the store, do you need anything?

HOAMIG2GFMC - Hang on a minute I've got to go feed my cat.

DUWTGBT? - Do you want to go bowling tonight?

WWTTOURHY? - What was that thing on your head yesterday?

OMGLYKEWDUGTKPOS? - Oh my god like where did you get that killer pair of socks?

DUCOTWITUA? - Did you check out that website I told you about?

WUSCIRLYA - Well you should 'cause it's really awesome.

JASLMCWIJSI - Just a second, let me see what I just stepped in.

OMGIWDP!! - Oh my god it was dog poop!!

HDUGDPOUS? - How do you get dog poop off your shoes?

S4UD - Sucks for you, dude.

IKROMGLYKEKTHXBAI :) - I know right oh my god like 'kay thanks bye :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Raindrop Races

When I was younger, riding in the car on a rainy day, I would often lose myself, watching the raindrops slide across the windshield. I used to imagine them with personalities, all trying to reach that part of the windshield where the wipers couldn't reach, collecting smaller raindrops on their way, which would make them bigger and faster. I imagined them all huddled together down in that one triangle at the bottom where the wipers never reached, waiting until they thought they had a chance, then they'd take off. I imagined the little ones as children, and the big ones as adults. Groups of them were families, all fleeing to safety together. The drops that had made it safely to the top waited and cheered them on, welcoming them when they arrived.

But inevitably, they didn't all make it. Some of them were swept away by the giant, malicious windshield wipers, while the others watched in horror. Some of them, separated from the rest of their families, would cry on the shoulders of others, wondering how they would continue on, feeling responsible and guilty and wishing it had been them.

I worry about the little me, sometimes.

If I was in the back seat, I would watch them race from the top front corner of the window to the bottom corner, gobbling up the little drops in their paths. That was always an epic sprint, each of them engaged in fierce competition with the next, all headed for that prize. I don't think I ever actually thought of what the prize was, I just knew that it was important and would change the life of the lucky raindrop that won. Every once in a while one would slow to a stop in the middle of the window. Sometimes I would tap the glass in an effort to help him along, but most of the time I was a neutral spectator. Often, those would become fuel for a bigger, faster droplet as it sped toward the imaginary finish line.

No one ever won these races, as far as I was concerned. That might have been because I could never see the finish line. I guess I always imagined it was off in the distance somewhere, and I was only viewing part of the course. The winner was never important to me; I just watched droplet after droplet race across the window. There's probably some philosophical, proverbial point I could make here, about the journey being more important than the destination, or about enjoying things as simple as raindrops on a car window, but I'm not going to. I'm going to leave this one as it is, as I know my younger self would have done.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Under Pressure

I've always thought of myself as someone who thrived under pressure. I test well, I don't suffer from forgetfulness when I need to remember a formula or equation, I am reliably able to hit the right notes during a performance, even if i do not hit them in rehearsal. I am comfortable in front of crowds of people. Nervousness sharpens my senses, rather than scattering them.

That is, I thought all of this until last Saturday.

I have a very short solo at the end of the marching band show this year. I get four beats, 1.58 seconds, ten notes, and one chance. I have yet to play it correctly at a competition. It didn't bother me the first time, because a key stuck and a spring was out of place and it wasn't my fault. It didn't bother me the second time because I hadn't played the instrument for three days before hand and hadn't had time to warm up. It bothered me last Saturday. I played it correctly what felt like a thousand times that morning in rehearsal. I was so confident that I would play it correctly when it mattered. Then, while performing, I could feel the end of the show racing toward me at breakneck speed, eerily tangible and utterly imminent. And I screwed it up. Again.

I was near tears as we walked off the field. I didn't understand. My director keeps telling me all I have to do is calm down, and I wish it was that simple. Pressure has never been a hindrance to me before. Now it is. It's disconcerting. I wish it was something more concrete that I could fix. Press this key instead of that key. Tongue this note and not that one. Those things I know I could correct, no problem. But something as uncomplicated as "calm down" is like a Rubik's Cube. And I'm not good at Rubik's Cubes.

It seems I can't reason my way out of this one. If I could identify a switch in my brain that causes me to freak out and flip it, I could play the solo perfectly every time. Unfortunately, brains don't generally work that way. If I could make myself believe that each competition mattered less, or that if I hadn't screwed it up we wouldn't have lost by four tenths of a point, or that the solo wasn't as hard, I could pull it off flawlessly. None of that has worked. Usually apathy will impair a performance, but in this case my emotional attachment is definitely my weakness. Knowing that doesn't change it. I get another chance this Saturday. Fingers crossed, toes crossed, eyes crossed, I hope I get it right this time.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Mirror Mirror

A while ago, I walked past a mirror that hadn’t been hung yet. It was sitting kind of slanted, propped up against the wall. I did a double take, looking into that crooked world, in which everything was just tilted enough to be dizzying. Then I wondered: what if the world really was just barely slanted like that, so that everything looked like it was about to fall over but nothing ever did? What if we walked that way, on a crooked floor, sat in crooked chairs eating at slanted tables?

The answer to my what-if was a little disappointing: we wouldn’t notice any difference. We would have no way of knowing that our reality was a little off-balance. If we lived that way, it would be normal. But this train of thought led to a startling realization. We do live that way. We are crooked. And in fact, unless you live smack dab on the North Pole (or 23.5 degrees off of it, I guess) your world is at least a little crooked, too.

But we don’t mind. Most of us go about our lives without the burden of worrying if we are going to topple over suddenly. We are content with our definitions of “up” and “down” and aren’t troubled by the possibility that someone on the other side of the world might have exactly the opposite perception.

And that happens all over the world simultaneously. Someone on the other side of the world goes about his or her business upside-down. But it’s only upside-down to us. When we point “up” and someone on the other side of the world also points “up,” we’re seldom pointing in the same direction. All of a sudden, two of the most solid truths we learn before we can even speak start to lose their reassuring constancy.

I think it’s okay, though. I think up and down can be different everywhere in the world without condemning everyone to lunacy. Maybe once we can wrap our heads around the fact that everyone in the world has a different “up,” we can start wrapping our heads around more complicated subjects, like relationships and quantum physics.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

More Tales From the People Aquarium

Tonight, while I was at work, when it was getting late and business was winding down, a couple of kids to whom I had already sold tickets came back up to the window. "Hey, can I get your number?" One of them asked. His friends started to crack up. I was taken aback.

"My number?" I confirmed.

"Yeah," he said. "They don't think I got swag." Those were his words. I swear.

"Uh, no, sorry," I said. His friends laughed at him, and they retreated around the corner, embarrassed. They stayed there for a long time, and every once in a while one or two heads would poke around the corner, only to catch me watching them. Finally, another scout (who looked to be the youngest of the group) was sent up to the window.

"Hey," he said. "I'm supposed to ask for your number. Just write down something fake." That was exactly what I did. Scribbling a 555 number on a blank ticket, I handed it to him, told him to give it to his friend, that I'd changed my mind. That kid was so happy when he thought he'd gotten my number, I almost felt bad. It didn't help that all his friends were in on it. But, I thought, he was happy, so what difference did it make?

A few minutes later, we closed, and I collected my things and clocked out. As I was headed to my car, I heard, "Yo, this number is fake!" behind me. I was surprised by how vulnerable I felt, without the protection of the big wacko-proof window between me and these kids. They were all younger than me, and none of them was particularly threatening, but I was nervous. I was halfway to my car when the smallest sprang from the curb and intercepted me.

"I know they're all over there acting like a bunch of idiots," he said quietly, standing a little too close to me. "When I'm over here tryin' to actually get your number."

Towering over him, I raised my eyebrows, amused. He was probably a foot shorter than me. "How old are you?" I asked, trying to keep the incredulity from my voice.

"Thirteen," he said.

"I am too old for you," I said with finality, and left. But I waved to them as I drove by.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Walk in My Shoes


Today, I cleaned out my closet. As part of this bold and dangerous adventure, I threw out many pairs of shoes. Some, I was more than happy to see go. For example, the devil-shoes that gave me purple knots on my feet after a long day at an amusement park received a swift punt to the trash can and nothing more.

Others were more difficult to part with. One pair of flip-flops have had one foot (no pun intended) in the garbage for about a year, but I could never bring myself to throw them out. They went on my concert band field trip to a music festival freshman year, played football, been on many an adventure to the lake, come between my feet and scorching sand at the beach, as well as countless other expeditions I am failing to remember.

Also among the throw-aways were a brand-new-this-year pair of Charlotte Russe flip-flops that fell victim to a rainy day at Disney world. The poor fellas never had a chance.

I will especially miss the Converse knock-offs that went on a backyard adventure with my siblings and good friends. We made boats out of twigs and grass, then cheered them on as they floated down the creek, rescuing them when they got caught in floating forest debris. The shoes were so dirty afterwards that we threw them in the washing machine. (That works, by the way.)

I said goodbye to the flip-flops I took to Mexico, and the sneakers that got me through two seasons of marching band practices. I bid farewell to the most comfortable pair of dress shoes I have ever owned, and the black ballet flats that have cleaned almost as many theaters as I have, and stayed late on all those school nights sweeping the concession stand.

They were good shoes, but to put them through anything else would be cruel and unusual at this point. May they rest in peace.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Silly-Band-Wagon

They're everywhere from the arms of toddlers to teenagers to adults, even. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw what appeared to be a forty-something man with two "Silly Bandz" around his wrist. He's not the only one. When first I heard about the now-popular trend, as two middle school girls explained them to another cashier at work, I honestly thought they were the dumbest thing I'd ever heard of. First, the idea that a little shaped silicone rubber band was a good thing to carry around was absurd. What purpose would anyone have for walking around with a dozen--indeed, dozens--of those useless toys? Second, when you wear them as bracelets, no one can even tell what they are supposed to be, so whatever point there was is lost. Much to my dismay, this sure-to-bust fad soon reached my younger siblings' school.

I was in the arcade of a bowling alley wasting tokens on one of those games where the jackpot is always some crazy amount of tokens that no one ever actually wins, hoping to walk away with twenty-or-so tickets if I was lucky. I was lucky. I was, in fact, lucky enough to win the crazy amount of tokens that no one ever wins. (This is a good story, actually. Remind me to tell you sometime.) Dumbstruck, I picked out a cute plush animal with giant eyes, and gave the rest to my sister and friend to spend on their growing Silly Band fetish. I do believe this makes me an enabler. Guilty as charged.

But something of greater weight happened that fateful night. Looking at all the ridiculous shapes as they picked through them, selecting high heels and castles, a glittery red one caught my eye. It was a dragon. It was awesome. Unable to believe what I was doing, I said, "Hang on. I want this one," and picked it up.

To date, I have somehow accumulated two more: A saxophone and a unicorn (which glows in the dark). I refuse to become engulfed in the frenzy of trading, bargaining, comparing, collecting, and bragging that my brother has swan-dived into full-force, although it is a little entertaining to watch. I'm happy with the three I have, and when I wear them to work they seem to be a hit with the theater's younger clientele. And they're conversation starters. If you've met someone who's wearing one, you can't really go wrong by asking him what his silly band is. Tada! Ice broken.

Based on my experience, I quickly developed a theory: If you hate them, you only hate them until you find that one you like, then they're okay. Isn't it amazing how the quality of a product will instantly change like that? My hypothesis was supported by a friend of mine (who didn't really know he was a guinea pig). The trumpet-player grumbled constantly about the stupidity of the fad. One day he showed up at the lunch table wearing one, silent. "What's your silly band?" I asked him, a tiny, smug smile on my face. He looked down. "A trumpet," he mumbled.

It's an interesting way to express yourself, since no one actually knows what it is you're expressing unless you tell them. But maybe we'll start talking to one another again, without having to hide behind a cell phone. Or maybe they're just this generation's Pokemon cards. But it's not like they're misleading anyone. After all, folks, the word "silly" is in the name.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Happiest Place on Earth



Recently, my family and I went on a five day vacation (I use this term loosely) to Disney World. Honestly, it was fun. Although the constant reminders to "Have a magical day" got monotonous after a while, something about all that magic makes it easier to believe it really is Mickey Mouse standing in front of you than a stranger in a suit. At the same time, I couldn't help but feel like I'd outgrown it, compared to the last time I'd been there, ten years ago.

My primary grievance was the thrill level of the vast majority of rides. You'd think between four theme parks you'd be able to find more than two decent roller coasters. My favorite ride was "Rock 'n' Roller Coaster," but that's probably because it was the only roller coaster in all of Disney World that turned upside-down. "Expedition Everest" was the other one that managed to lift my stomach up a little. Those rides were fun. But that was about it.

In just about every other ride at Disney World, you wait in line for an hour or so (unless you "fastpass" it, which puts the wait at about twenty minutes), climb into some sort of vehicle (boat, truck, spaceship, etc.), ride around on a track, watch little animatronic animals and people, get air blown in your face by some sort of jet I could never spot, and if you're lucky you might get squirted with water or shaken around a little. A maddening number of rides also try to educate you. Someone ought to let them know that it's summer and everyone in their right mind has switched their brains over to hibernate mode until mid-August. Still, I fear I may have absorbed a fact or two about eco-friendly farming or the progress of household technology.

Worse than that was riding the rides I'd loved as a seven-year-old. I'd been content to ride "Goofy's Barnstormer" over and over, and inside "It's a Small World" I was about as happy as I knew how to be. My butt no longer fits properly in "Goofy's Barnstormer" and the robotic French dancers seemed to have lost their rhythm. Now, I'm pretty sure it's the same place it was ten years ago, but now the epithet "The Happiest Place on Earth" sounds more like a misnomer. But the six year old at the neighboring table in Chef Mickey's Character Breakfast would probably disagree.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

If a Tree Falls in a Forest

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

The nature of everthing we do is determined by the reaction it elicits. We teach our children based on this philosophy. We applaud good behavior and punish bad behavior. We laugh when a comment is funny, but gasp and shake our heads when it is inappropriate or offensive. What may be effective with one audience could coast over the heads of a completely different one. The tree in the forest is not only silent, it doesn't even exist without someone to acknowledge its existence.

For example, imagine a basketball game is underway, and the visiting team scores. This is bad. But it isn't bad because it was the visiting that scored. It isn't bad because it means the home team may lose their chance to move on to the finals. It's bad because the audience says so. They shout "boo!" and "come on!" and throw things. They throw their hands in the air in disapproval and shake their heads at the referee. They toss ill-conceived pieces of advice toward the home team's coach, thinking they could have better defended that play blindfolded than did the team they root for.

Meanwhile, the young children in the crowd watch all of this transpire, and learn that it is bad when the visiting team scores. They do not learn this because the home team lost their chance at the finals; they learn it from watching the reaction of those around them. When they grow up, their reaction will be the same.

However, what is a bad thing to the home team's fans, is a very good thing to the visiting team's fans. The reason the visitor's goal was a bad thing in the home stadium was the greater number of home team fans than visiting fans in the crowd. Had the visiting team brought more of a cheering section, it wouldn't have mattered the venue, their victory would have been good.

Similarly, where one person may laugh, another may take offense. We tend to learn this quickly, or take it into consideration when "feeling out" a situation, and tailor our speech for the group we are with.

From this phenomenon springs this question: If you tell a joke in a forest, and no one laughs, is it funny? Forest or not, the answer is no.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Weapons of Math Destruction

I built a ballista. It took forever, and wound up looking like... well... like I built it. Which I did, so that makes sense. Documentation was a large part of the project, and this involved writing a log of our progress. Primarily to prove that we did, in fact, spend a substantial amount of time on it instead of throwing something together at the last minute. I wrote mine to sound like I'm a spy in enemy territory, recording my progress so that if anything happened to me all would not be lost. Building a ballista is risky business, you know.

This is my log:

Day 1:
Bought wood, metal for track, adjustable bungees, tin snips, “power-grab” glue, and an orange Powerade from Home Depot. Went to remote storage unit to retrieve necessary tools. Found a nail gun. Wasn’t allowed to use it.

Day 2:
Nailed legs and front plank together. Nailed metal track to front plank. The wood split quite a bit around the nails.

Day 3:
Tried to glue wooden support board to metal track to ensure stability during launch. It seemed to work okay, but the metal curved away from the wood in the middle and the glue did not hold. Regretted purchasing glue. Resented Home Depot employee that sold it to me. Nailed them together instead. Tried to deeply embed nails in metal track to prevent bumpiness in the track. Sewed a launch pouch to hold ball out of scrap fabric from curtains or some other unidentified interior decoration.

Day 4:
Attached bungees to wood with nails. Acquired scrap wood from construction site (completely legally). Tried to make a base when I got home, failed due to inability to hammer sideways. Wished I had nail gun.

Day 5:
Family in town. Enlisted a cousin to help me nail base. Tested launcher. Launch worked the first time, but failed later attempts due to a bump in the metal track near the end. Removed entire track and used other half of metal to make a new one. Cut ends in a “V” rather than straight across for smoother launch. Cut pouch off of bungees, as it was not releasing the ball when desired. Replaced with short piece of wood, nailed to bungees. Nailed again to bungees nearer the edge of the wood to prevent wood from flipping over. Ditched wooden support idea, determined it unnecessary. Subsequent launch attempts were successful. Lip developed where track met wood. Tried to rectify using hammer. Made it worse. Stopped trying to fix it. Tested launcher. Constructed launch. Went to remote storage unit again to retrieve fishing line for trigger. Returned to house and set trigger. Attempt successful.

I spent the rest of that night constructing a model for Calculus that was also due the next day. I stayed up until 2:30 am. I do not understand why it is necessary for us to have three projects due in the last three days of school. Further investigations to follow.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Loudmouth

We tend to think that if we are louder about something, it makes us more right. This is absurd. The louder we say something bears no correlation on the accuracy of the statement. So why do we continue to think that? It's because it seems to work.

I know by experience that the more confident you sound about something, the more confidence others will have it what you say. I've used this strategy to my advantage on a number of occassions, regardless of whether or not I've been right. It has also backfired on me. It has, in fact, backfired more than enough times for me to have learned my lesson and stop being so loud about everything all the time, but I have found this easier said than done. Sometimes I just have something to say that's so important I have to share it with everyone around me as quickly as possible and at as high a volume as possible.

But why do we think that when something is loud, it's right? Why do we put faith in the loudest thing we hear? Maybe it's because most of us are so afraid of looking like idiots and so afraid of being wrong that--thinking that everyone shares this insecurity--we (wrongly) conclude that for someone to make such a confident proclamation, they surely must be right. In other words, we underestimate the number of obnoxious morons in the world.

The cure for this is simple: stick to your guns! Most people who appear to be good at life are in fact only good at pretending to be good at life. In fact, it's often those that don't spend so much energy on looking like they know what they're doing that know what they're doing. Unfortunately, society tends to notice the first group. So what good could possibly come from knowing something if you can't make people pay attention to you? Well, if you are like plenty of other people who will readily deny they are this way and judge the quality of your life based on the opinions of others, nothing. However, if you are unique like the aforementioned people will try to tell you they are, and judge yourself without the input of your peers, the answer is simple: you do it because you want to.

I am in the shallow group of people who care what others think of them. For this reason, I will continue to be loud and confident and wrong until I either die or suffer a dramatic mid-life crisis. Stay tuned.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Unlucky Duckling

I am not a superstitious person. The only bad luck that comes from walking under a ladder, for instance, is the significant increase in the probability of something (like paint) landing on your head. But tonight was not my night.

It started at dinner. I ordered a beef brisket. They were out. In fact, they'd sold out an hour before we'd even arrived, when someone apparently ordered sixteen pounds of the stuff. Really? Fine, I'll have barbecue instead, thank you. It was okay, once I put hot sauce on it.

The waitress eventually rolled back around to ask us if we wanted dessert. As a matter of fact, I'd seen the board on the way in (strategically--indeed, successfully--placed, of course) and the blackberry cobbler sounded just fabulous, so I'll have one of those, please. Sure, she answered cheerfully, and disappeared.

She reappeared with my sister's apple something-or-other and more bad news. Guess what else they were out of? I took the opportunity to remind my mother that I had not wanted to eat at this restaurant in the first place.

Now, I should back up a little. Before dinner, we were next door in the Radio Shack buying some gadget my mother needed. I have been needing a new phone, and it just so happened that on display they had the very phone I've got my heart set on, and for twenty dollars cheaper than at the AT&T store. We decided to wait until after we'd eaten then possibly return for the phone.

Now, after dinner, I stood quite between the two storefronts, considering heavily the fact that as soon as I bought the phone the price would drop significantly. I also considered heavily the fact that this would be the case regardless of when I bought the phone. So I made some philosophical comment about not waiting for life to happen to you but to make life happen instead, and went back inside the Radio Shack. Today was as good a day as any to get a new phone, right?

Now, you've probably already been able to surmise how events proceeded from here. According to the clerk, they actually had every phone from the display in stock... except for the one I wanted. Why I was unable to see this coming, I do not know.

My thoughts inevitably retreated to a penny I found a week or so ago in the school parking lot, face down. I thought "Ha, a penny is a penny, and now I'm one cent richer," and picked it up. Like I said, a penny possesses no supernatural powers. It is also of note that the day before that I'd picked up a face-up penny in a nearby spot. Now, the lesson in this is clearly not one of universal forces or the positive and negative energies would have balanced, no? I think it's a lesson in the pursuit of money. Two pennies two days in a row is shameless excess, and I certainly reaped the consequences of being so blatantly materialistic. Never. again.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Chair Chair Chair Chair Chair

It's a well-known fact that if you take any word, particularly the simple, familiar ones, and say it over and over and over again, it begins to sound foreign and eventually quite unlike a word at all. Whenever this happens to me, it leads me to question the entire idea of speech. Why do we communicate using our mouths? Why does this unintelligible collection of sounds make sense when we hear it? Speech is something we are all taught beginning in infancy. We don't usually pick it up for a while, but it's not a process we tend to ponder over croissants and orange juice. We accept it as a normal part of life. So why, when we repeat a basic word enough times, does it sound like we don't know it at all?

Humans are the only animals that learn to talk. Other animals learn things; even things that are instinctive (flight, for instance, or swimming) must be introduced and tutored. The image of a mother bird pushing her chicks out of her nest is not an unfamiliar one. Humans learn these types of things, too. Walking is only one example. We aren't the only animals that communicate through sound, either. Other animals make different noises with different meanings: mating calls, warning sounds, and distress signals. Even we laugh, cry, snort, cough, guffaw, or cry out without any thought at all sometimes. But speech is another element entirely, and it belongs solely to us.

I once watched a video on the human brain in a science class, and remembered this line: "The human brain is the only brain capable of studying itself." It was rather poetically put, but really, the human brain is the only brain capable of studying anything. We are the only creatures on earth capable of abstract thought (although I harbor theories about a secret civilization of whales deep beneath the ocean's surface). While other creatures can certainly perceive notions such as hunger, or the need to find a suitable home for winter, they never think, "I'm hungry," or "I need to find a suitable home for winter." But we do. In fact, we tend to think in whatever language comes most naturally to us. Have you ever wondered what a baby's thoughts look like? What language does a baby think in, or does the stage of brain development allowing specific thoughts go hand in hand with speaking?

Still, the way our brains work does not seem unnatural, while these repeated words remain a mystery. Maybe a perfect race of humans would communicate telepathically. Maybe the connection between our brains and our mouths is deteriorating. Maybe each person has a natural language that's as much a part of who you are as your eye color or whether or not you have freckles, and any other language sounds weird to our brains. These are weak hypotheses, I know. But I can't think of any other reasons. I don't know what it is about spoken language that makes the most basic of words sound awkward when we say them again and again. And again, and again.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Rods, Cones, and Galaxies

When I was in elementary school, my class took a field trip to a planetarium (which, at the time, sounded to me like it ought to be an aquarium for plants). With her laser pointer, the instructor indicated a cluster of stars on the ceiling. She said it was easier to see if you focused your eyes a little off to the side. This mystified me. Why on earth--or not, I guess--would you ever be able to see something more clearly by not looking at it?!

This cluster of stars might be the Triangulum Galaxy, based on a few quick Google-searches. I'm not sure, though, and I wish I'd paid closer attention to that presentation years ago. The night sky continues to fascinate me, and I love to spot constellations and galaxies, planets and stars whose names I know. My little brother and I once spent some time on the hood of my car outside, looking at what constellations we could see through the trees. The sky is a symbol of hope, wonder, the unknown, the future, the past, and it's also an art display, a free light show that everyone can see all at once, and it's not exactly the same in any two places. Have you ever looked out and wondered who else might be doing the exact same thing, maybe not just on this planet?

That galaxy seemed to possess this weird, magical, unexplainable quality. It was surely some space-magic that made it easier to find out of the corner of your eye. Wasn't it? Some otherworldly, starry, extraterrestrial pixie dust that played tricks on your eyes or brain or whatever. I think a small part of me believed that aliens were controlling my mind from that far away and had some hi-tech cloaking device that hid their entire galaxy from view when any earthling stargazer tried to look directly at it.

Today in physics class we talked about eyes and electromagnetic waves. Colors, light, radios, and microwaves were all part of the docket. We performed a couple of labs involving color and optical tricks, after images, diffraction of light through an opening, and doing exactly what your mother told you not to do while watching TV--getting so close to it you can see the little colored lights.

Then we discussed the nerve endings in the eye that perceive color, and along with them, the ones that perceive light. Cones and rods, respectively. As it turns out, we have more cones in the center of our eyes, and a higher concentration of rods on the edges. For this reason, it is often difficult for us to determine color when viewing objects in the periphery. (I've never noticed this, but I wear glasses, so my peripheral vision is pretty useless as is.) The other thing it means is that we are better at seeing dimmer lights at the edges of our field of vision.

I should have been thrilled to hear this. Finally, a (literally) galactic mystery solved! The aliens had been foiled, and the secret of their cloaking device unveiled!

But I was disappointed. Being a logically-oriented person, I usually analyze and seek an answer from everything I ever come in to contact with. This answer, however, I rejected. I mean, I didn't actually refuse to believe it, but it was an unwelcome solution to a familiar mystery. Like the ancient Greeks, unable to explain sea foam, decided it was Poseidon's horses, pulling his chariot through the water. It's absurd, but it's a lot more interesting than entrapped gasses, as are aliens than light receptors in the eye.

Now, it's probably a good thing that someone, somewhere, knows the right answer. But there are some things I'd rather leave a mystery. I'd also like to point out that just because we do have more rods than cones on the edges of our retinas, it doesn't mean there aren't aliens in the Triangulum Galaxy. And maybe they have theories about the Milky Way. And maybe they're wrong.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Radio Commercials

I have a car. It's awesome. As a result of its being so awesome, I spend a lot of time driving it. Actually, it's also (coincidentally) very convenient when I need to get somewhere. But I digress.

Whenever I drive my car, I listen to the radio. I understand that radio stations, just like all other, less necessary businesses, have to make money, and I have no issue with the number of commercials played or the time allotted them over the music. I have an issue with the quality. If that sounds ridiculous, it's because it is. I don't care. If the radio station I listen to is going to bombard me with commercials, then I have every right to say what I think of them.

Some commercials (a few of which I just heard today, actually) make claims so ridiculous it should be criminal. The people in charge of advertising these companies should be fired, because they failed even to leave me remembering the name of the company, or sued for "false advertising" or the like. Among these redonkulous (yes, I did just use that word) claims were these:

A good haircut is the key to male happiness.

A deck is like a living room without walls.

And finally, wireless internet is like a water park.

I don't know about you, but it's hard to believe a good haircut is the key to anyone's happiness, my deck in no way resembles a living room, and water parks and computers don't seem like a good mix to me. But maybe that's just me.

But of course, you cannot have one extreme without the other. Some commercials make statements that are so believable that they become obvious. For instance, ninety-nine cents is "not even a dollar," just in case you were wondering. That was a Coke commercial, so at least they succeeded on the memorability front.

There is a third category. It spawned from my inability to categorize one statement I heard. Cupid.com is "newer that new." Now, "Cupid.com" is the worst possible name for a website, regardless of its purpose, but that's beside the point. At first I thought it was so redundant it had to belong to the "obvious" category. But how can anything be "newer than new"? What does that even mean? It doesn't seem like it should be possible. It means absolutely nothing, that's what it means. It means Cupid.com wasted sixty-or-so seconds of my life on that advertisement, and far more than that given the amount of time I've spent thinking about it. That's what it means.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Flowery Things

I took these around our garden while out planting and watering and such.





Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Coasters, Dots, and Life

Tonight my family and I ate dinner at California Pizza Kitchen. Unsatisfied with the dots-and-boxes game the kid's menu had to offer, I flipped over a drink coaster, grabbed a crayon, and started drawing dots.

I am an expert at dots... when playing against only one person. When a third person is thrown into the equation, my genius strategy suffers a fate comparable to that of toilet paper. The game progressed normally, with the "playing field" eventually becoming a network of trails. This is a volatile mine field waiting for someone to draw the right line and set off an explosive chain of square-completion (I know, sounds scary, right?). My mother quickly began to collect dangerous numbers of boxes. I--as you may have guessed--was failing miserably.

I needed a new plan, and fast. Regardless, I couldn't let my mother win. "Sometimes, it becomes less about winning, and more about defeating your opponent," I said cryptically.

As soon as mother had uttered the words, "What is that supposed to mean?" I topped off the longest trail, handed the coaster to my sister, and said, "Go for it." The look on my mother's face was so priceless it could have been a Mastercard commercial.

She fought fruitlessly for one more round, but I made a final, game-ending move, handing my sister the rest of the empty squares. She cleaned up. I began to worry that my mother's face was stuck that way permanently. It was awesome. I realized it's important to recognize when it's over, and focus your efforts someplace where they could benefit someone else for the accomplishment of the same goal.

Disclaimer: This idea is a purely strategic one. The author of this blog is not responsible for any adverse effects of attempting to apply it in real life. Use at your own risk.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tales From the People Aquarium

I work at a movie theater. More than that, because of my prowess and good-looks, I am usually (and by "usually," I mean "almost always") placed in the box office. For all of you non-theater-savvy folks, that's the place where you buy your tickets. It's separated from the rest of the theater, and I often work alone. In fact, the most accurate description I've heard is "people aquarium," indicative of the wide, tall windows that comprise the front half of the room. It's true. But the manager that termed it that had it backward. I'm not the one in the aquarium. Everyone outside is. I'm surrounded by windows, but people rarely see me until they need movie tickets. Sometimes, they don't even see me then.

I sound like a sad, lonely kid. I'm not. The reality is that while I am sometimes lonely and a lot of the employees that work the box office often suffer from several varieties of cabin fever, most of the time the entertainment that I get paid to enjoy is better than the movies I sell tickets for. Working has taught me many important life lessons. Among them are: people are morons, people are funny, and people are morons.

The only thing that links my tiny world with the outside one is a speaker/microphone and the little window at the bottom. The microphone is extremely sensitive. It's odd because it's not assaultingly loud when people are near it, but I can clearly hear conversations taking place halfway across the parking lot. I feel like a spy. Do you know how many arguments, evening plans, and breakups I've eavesdropped on? At this point, I know so much someone should be after me.

On an alarming number of occasions, I thank heaven for the plexiglass barrier between the customers and me. You'd be surprised how intrusive it feels when their hands come too far through the window. Stay on your side people. My side, your side. My side... Your side. See? It's easy.

I wear a nametag. For some reason, the public seems to think this entitles them to call me by my name. I am not your friend, I do not want to be your friend, and I'm pretty sure I don't like you. Don't use my name.

I can't believe I have to explain this one, but the box office is NOT where you order popcorn and drinks. Yes, someone actually did this. (Insert long, drawn out, heavy sigh here.) Honestly? Where am I going to get a large popcorn from, lady? Do you think it will come buzzing out of the ticket-printer? Or am I supposed to get it from the apparently infinite chasm below the counter?

There's one more thing you should know before attempting to go to the movies. We do not sell marine mammals at the movie theater. The word is matinee, not manitee. And it's pronounced mat-in-ay.

I often leave work seriously worried about the world. I don't know how it doesn't collapse in on itself, really. It seems like we ought to stupid-proof the earth the same way we child-proof our homes. But I realize we have. That's why we have movie theaters. Let's all sit in a big room for a while and quietly watch a movie. That's at least an hour and a half that they can't be out there breaking things. Here, have some candy. And I musn't forget the expected greeting (to which the majority of the aforementioned geniuses perfunctorily reply "you too"): Enjoy your movie! :)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Dream is a Wish...

Recently in Art class, we've been studying fantasy, surrealism, and dreams. As part of this unit, we've been instructed to record our dreams and look up the meanings of the symbols or objects we dream about. The idea is to learn about what our subconscious mind is trying to tell us when we sleep, and maybe that works. After all, there's probably a reason I dreamt about doing jumping jacks with alligators as opposed to crocodiles, right? Of what significance are alligators to me? Maybe deep down I wish I was an alligator. I guess that wouldn't surprise me too much... I wish I had teeth that hardcore.

However, I do believe that a lot of the dream interpretation "dictionaries" I had to wade through around the interwebs were completely unreliable. For instance, as soon as I read that my dream indicated something was going to happen in my life down the road, I went back to the search engines. It's a dream, folks; it's not a fortune cookie. True to form, these fortune-cookie-dream-meaning-sites gave explanations that were so broad they were sure to connect with something in everyone's life. One site--the best one I found, in fact--even included a disclaimer at the bottom stating that dreams do not have absolute meanings and that the significance of different symbols in a dream can mean different things for everyone. Wow. Thanks guys.

But I agree. There are some things in this world that just can't be standardized. I'd like to think that my mind is one of them. But I realized I don't really know what I'm talking about. It's easy to coach from the sidelines, right? So here's what I've done: I've created a Dream Dictionary of my own, because "a dream is a wish your heart makes," is it not? Well, it's time to find out a few of the wishes your heart is making. I've taken a few recent/popular searches from some of these sketchy websites and tried to add some credibility to the science of dream interpretation. Ready?...

If you dream about:
Being chased - your subconscious is telling you that you need to excercise more.

Tests/exams - indicates a longing for education. You love school and teacher and detention and cafeteria food. Can also indicate hatred of school, tests, pressure, stress, a stressing situation in your life or a test you are facing. May indicate that you have to pee.

Falling - indicates feelings of freedom, detachment from reality, failure, achievement, low self esteem, a desire or fear of taking risks, or that you have fallen off of the bed.

Flying - indicates that you seek a closer connection with birds and wildlife. Note: do not attempt.

Naked - indicates a deep-rooted desire to expose yourself/soul/inner being to those you care about. Can also indicate a longing to be naked all the time. May also indicate that you do not like nakedness, and wish some people would wear more clothing. Can also indicate confidence, security, closeness, high self-esteem, low self-esteem, insecurity, or a feeling of being disconnected. May indicate that you have to pee.

Teeth - indicates that you love teeth. May indicate that you have to pee.

Vampires - denotes a pronounced fear of blood, bats, glitter, bad teeny bopper movies, or Robert Pattison.

Breathing fire - indicates that you will go on a journey in your life, and will seek the help of those close to you to overcome it. Can also indicate that your house will burn down in the near future, or has burned down in the recent past. May indicate that you are sleeping with too many blankets, and are uncomfortably warm.

Stuck - wake up. Untangle yourself, and try again. If dream persists, contact poison control or seek medical attention.

Attacked - see "Naked"

Danger - indicates that you are in a perilous position in your life. May indicate a fear of change, progress, danger, or scary things.

Snake - means you like spaghetti.

Cherry tree - indicates an abundance of fruit in your diet. Can mean a desire or longing to travel, an love of Japan, Mongolia, or Antarctica; can indicate hunger, tiredness, or apprehension. May indicate that you have to pee.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Cypress Trees





These are some of the many pictures I took at the cypress swamp yesterday. I was feeling a little artsy and put my camera in sepia mode for a while. :)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

"Lost" is Such a Harsh Word

Today, my grandma, sister, brother, and I drove to the beach. It was a trip that should only have lasted three-or-so hours, including bathroom and food stops. It took us almost five. The logical assumption would be that something went wrong, and more specifically, that we got lost. But I wouldn’t say this was necessarily the case.

The first reason I say this is because we intentionally took a detour, in pursuit of a swamp with cypress trees. Well, about halfway through this detour, we had driven for miles and seen lots of beautiful farmland. It was like the road was a time machine, preserved alone in the present while the landscape around us traveled backward a century and a half. It was nice, but we had yet to see any sign of the fabled cypress swamp. We were beginning to question whether we’d turned off at the wrong place, but decided to embrace the situation as an “adventure,” because we weren’t ready to admit that we were “lost.” The car’s compass told us we were still traveling southeast, though, and since that was the heading we wanted, we were content to keep driving… for a while.

Finally, after finding a state map in one of the nooks of the car, and driving some more, and more… and more, we found the swamp! It was worth it—Spanish moss was everywhere, the trees were beautiful, the water sparkled, and the stiff breeze made it all dance. Still, we had the small matter of getting back to the highway to tend to. I, who may or may not have been navigating, may or may not have suggested that we avoid the highway altogether, stay on the road we were on, and take it the rest of the way. This wouldn’t have been a problem if we hadn’t missed the turnoff for the road we wanted, and wound up five miles in the wrong direction on the wrong highway. We figured it out, turned around, and made it back to our route without incident. But it begs the question: were we lost?

There’s the grandparent school of thought, which says that if you aren’t lost for more than an hour, you aren’t lost. Here’s what I think: If you know where you are, you aren’t lost. It doesn’t really matter whether you’re where you’re supposed to be, as long as you know where you are. I also think that even if you don’t know where you are, if you don’t care, you aren’t lost. So, if you haven’t a clue where you are or how to get where you’re going, and you are, in fact, going somewhere, then sorry, you’re lost. Any other set of circumstances constitutes adventure. Adopting this state of mind makes road trips like the one I just enjoyed a lot more… enjoyable.

Socks and Shoes

The other day, I was getting ready to go outside and play ball with my sister, and as I was putting my socks and sneakers on, I put one sock on, then grabbed the sneaker for the other foot. I sighed and grabbed the other, thinking how inconvenient it was that socks fit either foot while shoes only fit one or the other. Then it occurred to me: people are a lot like socks and shoes.

Bear with me on this one, okay? Socks are the people who slip comfortably into any situation. Just like sock sizes refer to a range of shoe/foot sizes, and aren't left-right specific, these people are flexible, laid back, versatile, and generally comfortable. But you wouldn't want to go for a run with just socks on.

That's where shoes come in. We've all met them. These are the people that fit very comfortably into one or a few situations, and are a tad awkward everywhere else. You can always tell when one of these people is out of his or her element because it feels like putting a shoe on the wrong foot--it's just not quite right. The important thing to keep in mind about shoes, though, is that they're a lot better at protecting your feet from the rough, prickly, hot, cold, unfriendly ground than socks are. That's because in order to be so flexible, socks have to be thin. I don't mean to imply that sock-type people are superficial posers, but it's a "Jack-of-all-trades, master of none"-type scenario.

And I don't think you can categorize everyone completely as one or the other. For instance, I am very shoe-like in that I am rarely comfortable in socially demanding situations. I would much prefer to keep to myself, read a book, daydream, draw, etc. Even keeping a blog is easy because I can be purely me, without having to try to fit into some social sweater that's two sizes too small, or say, a right foot when I'm a left-foot shoe. See what I mean?

But I'm also a sock. I ski, I snowboard, I write, I draw, I like math, I play the saxophone, I taught myself to crochet--although I've neglected this skill recently, and I also used to ride horses. And I do/did all of these things with a certain level of skill, if I may say so myself. But I wouldn't dare to call myself an expert in any of these fields, and it's because I divide myself among all of these activities.

My sister, on the other hand, is undoubtedly a sock where I am a shoe. She is a social butterfly if I've ever seen one. She's a charmer no matter the occasion, and at times, I'm jealous of her, and I wish she could teach me to be a social sock. Unfortunately, I have not been able to learn this skill as easily as art, math, and music. It's frustrating.

So it's possible, unlike the actual footwear, to be both a sock and a shoe. Similarly, though, socks and shoes tend to work together pretty well. And while you may be able to wear any socks with any shoes, you wouldn't want to mismatch shoes. They'd probably clash.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Super-Sexy Awesomemobile

Today, I built a car. Well, I helped with/supervised the building of a car. It's slicker than a water park, hotter than a volcano, and probably a little faster than a turtle, if that turtle only had three legs. It's green, too, its only power source being the energy created by a falling four-pound yellow dumbbell. It's a physics project, and based on the way it will be scored, I am currently sitting squarely on an 86/100.

It tuckers out after about three meters, and it wobbles a little while it rolls, but that just means it has character. And after many hours spent thinking in a very deep and important-looking way, I've settled upon a name for the monstrosity I affectionately call my own. I call it "The Super-Sexy Awesomemobile," because, well, that's exactly what it is. It's like a big, rickety bucket of sexy with a generous helping of awesome on the side. Still, I'm glad I've been doing well on tests so far this semester because the Super-Sexy Awesomemobile is probably going to be a not-so-sexy test grade.

But I feel a little like a kindergartner, because I just can't wait to take it to school and show it off. Right now, it's just a skeleton of a car, with several steel bars held together by mass quantities of screws and washers and other construction-y things, but I plan to make it look as awesome as it is. I'll even add flames, because flames = awesome.

I still have some tweaking to do, which will hopefully increase distance. For the most part, though, it's done, and I owe a HUMONGOUS thank you to the two big guys that helped me build it (and by "helped me build it," I really mean "built it"). Thank you guys! We'll give that three-legged turtle a run for his money!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Total World Domination

Today, I started a blog. I am not sure what possessed me to do this or what I intend to do with it, but I am certain it will be loud, obnoxious, and hazardous to my health (and possibly yours also). But in my experience, things are more fun that way. Huzzah!

I have set for myself the loftiest of goals, although I would not venture to call it an unattainable one, that being world domination. It is my belief that the pen is, in fact, mightier than the sword, partially because if you want someone to listen to you, it's a good idea to leave their blood inside them. I have found people to be significantly more responsive when they aren't dead. And it's hard to write with a sword, given their size and general sharp-ness.

But it is not with a pen (or a sword) that I address you on this night, at 11:40-ish. It is with a keyboard. This is because our world is being taken over, as I type, by robots, and seeing as how I cannot beat them, I join them. Also, I type faster than I write and it is difficult to put something on the internet without the use of a computer. There you go. Three solid-as-diamond reasons why I'm pro-robot. If you think about it long enough, you'll probably find that you, too, are pro-robot, but I think I have strayed from my point.

It is my intent to use this robot of mine and all those robots of yours to take over the world and use it for my villainous plans. I don't know what they are yet, but as soon as I think of them you can be sure I will post them to this blog. And you can be sure they will be loud, obnoxious, and hazardous to your health, as well as mine. But for now, I bid thee goodnight, because I'm tired, and even someone as ambitious as I am must sleep occasionally.