Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It's a small world, after all.

When I was a child, my elementary school was HUGE. In my mind, the doors were four inches thick and 20 feet tall. When I visited again as an adult, somehow the building shrunk four sizes to human dimension.
I get that, because size is relative. What was a giant bottle of soda that took both hands to manage when we were kids is now three swallows.

However, when manufacturers start shrinking their products on purpose and think we'll just shrug it off, I get a little upset. The marketing genius who thought we'd pay the same price for 25% less product should have received a monster bonus, because we're suckers and well, we will. What choice do we have when everyone does it?
It started with ice cream. Let's go to the metric system, because there are, perhaps, three Americans who aren't fooled by grams versus ounces. Let's keep the lid the same, and rakishly taper the container, because it will just look like forced perspective when they're scooping.
And I was livid when the major cola manufacturers switched from the 12-pack to the 8-pack, and STILL raised the price from $3 to $4. They're slowly moving back to the 12, because America wouldn't stand for it. Same thing happened when they tried to switch our bottles from 20 ounces to 500 mL. Metric system! 500 is more then 20, right?

And now, after buying the same unnamed quilted toilet paper from up north for years, the rolls shrank almost 3/4 of an inch in width from the last package to this one. I could understand one tier getting cut down a little off, it happens. But EVERY ROLL IN THE PACKAGE? Not coincidence, not an accident, this is purposeful, malicious downsizing. Cornholio does not like this. Not one bit.
Pretty soon, we'll all feel like Andre the Giant drinking our adorable little carbonated beverages and daintily wiping, as we all run out of ice cream and potato chips long before we should. I take it back. That marketing genius shouldn't have received a monster bonus, shouldn't be celebrated in the annals of marketing history. He should be unemployed.
In Greenland.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

When Darwins, we all win.

They've been doing some work on our office, building walls, tearing walls down, moving the buckets around for the new leaks in the roof, the usual. By they, I refer to Frick and Frack, and while the quality of their finished work is generally impressive, sometimes I must question their means.
I don't have a camera phone, so you'll have to bear with me. One of the walls they removed contained several electrical boxes and outlets. The conduit to these boxes is firmly and permanently ensconced in concrete. However, since they need to come out, our fearless crew is using a sawsall.

Plugged into one of the outlets they're cutting out.

On the up-side, if they fry the building electricals, I can go work from home for the rest of the day.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Movie Mania Monday -!

I'm beginning to think that you, my faithful readers, aren't watching enough movies (or listening to enough Beethoven...) A hearty congratulations again to our past winners. To Courtney, Iron Quote Guesser Whiskey and 4-0 so far in Movie Mania Monday, and to Rick, Iron Quote Guesser with a 1-0 record. To the rest of you, including those of you who haven't guessed at all, even on the weeks where nobody else ventured a guess, GET CRACKING! Non-participation is ghastly. It's just ghastly. There's no time limit on past contests, and I'm not going to tell you if you haven't figured it out.

Now, for this week's contest. Remember the rules. First person to guess correctly the original source of the quote wins a prize - no movie characters quoting other movies. The prize consists of the people's ovation and fame forever (and the title of Iron Quote-Guesser), but if you give me creative, inexpensive and generally humorous ideas, that may change. This week's quote:

I fantasize about a massive pristine convenience. Brilliant gold taps, virginal white marble, a seat carved from ebony, a cistern full of Chanel no.5, and a flunky handing me pieces of raw silk toilet roll. But under the circumstances I'll settle for anywhere.
Allez guessing!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fun Fact Friday - That aught a do it!

Imagine if you will, a time in human history where there was no zero. That's right, somehow because of that, you couldn't have ten of anything. You could have five twice, and nine plus one, but nine plus one didn't equal anything. BECAUSE THERE WAS NO ZERO. No aught, no nil, no zilch, zip or nada. Of course, there was a period that there were no negative numbers, too, which is nice because you can't overdraw your checking account. (But since you can't have more than $9 in the account at any time, does it matter?)
About 5,000 years ago, the Sumerians started inserting a placeholder into large numbers to signify the existence of this important nothing. (Like writing '5000', for example.) This placeholder looked a little more like an italic equals sign than an elipse. According to Robert Kaplan, author of The Nothing That Is: A Natural History of Zero, the symbol changed over time as positional notation (for which zero was crucial), made its way to the Babylonian empire and from there to India, via the Greeks (in whose own culture zero made a late and only occasional appearance; the Romans had no trace of it at all). Arab merchants brought the zero they found in India to the West.

The zero gives us power. We accomplish so much just by its existence. To quote Charles Seife in his book Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea, "Dividing by zero...allows you to prove, mathematically, anything in the universe. You can prove that 1+1=42, and from there you can prove that J. Edgar Hoover is a space alien, that William Shakespeare came from Uzbekistan, or even that the sky is polka-dotted. (See appendix A for a proof that Winston Churchill was a carrot.)"

I don't know about you, but it makes me want to read Appendix A.

Of course, as these things always go, I set out to learn more about one thing, and end up learning about something else entirely.

In this case, I got to learn about the Erdős-Bacon number.

Yes, that Bacon.

A person's Erdős–Bacon number is a concept which reflects the small world phenomenon in academia and entertainment. It is the sum of one's Erdős number—which measures the "collaborative distance" in authoring mathematical papers between that person and Hungarian mathematician Paul Erdős...(yes, that Paul Erdős)—and one's Bacon number—which represents the number of links, through roles in films, by which the individual is separated from American actor Kevin Bacon. The lower the number, the closer a person is to Erdős and Bacon.

For example, Carl Sagan has an Erdős-Bacon number of six. So does Danica McKellar.

Stephen Hawking has an Erdős-Bacon number of seven.

While Natalie Portman's number is six.Oh, and did I mention Danica McKellar's number is a six, too?

I may have.

By extrapolation, this means that two-thirds of all Erdős-Bacon number "six" holders are the hawtness.

Hey, with zero, anything is possible.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Random Acts of Thursday - Driving me nuts

You may recall my sandwich story from a few weeks ago. And I love me some sandwiches. Of course, we live in a world of fast-paced, work-a-day multitaskers, myself included. And while I eat in my car FAR too often, I would never think of eating a spaghetti sandwich while driving.
The same holds true of tacos. Burritos, yes, if they aren't the modern large-as-your-head burritos, but instead come from that tintinabular pseudo-Mexican place that we all know and love. Last year I nearly choked to death on an Egg McMuffin. I've been known more than once to attempt an ice cream cone during a hot summer month. There really is a line where driving while dining has gone too far. And we've all crossed it at some point.

The reason I bring this up is because on my evening commute last night, I saw a woman eating corn-on-the-cob. CORN. ON. THE. COB. In her bright yellow Mustang.I won't even eat corn on the cob in my house, given the choice. To me, buttery, salty corn on the cob was meant to be consumed outdoors, stooped over to avoid dripping corn juice and butter on anything but the ground. I wouldn't eat corn on the cob in my car for money. The same goes for barbecue ribs, in all their saucy goodness.

(disclaimer: everyone has his price, and if you really, REALLY want me to eat corn on the cob or ribs in my car, I'm open to offers.) But really, people will eat nearly anything in their cars. Same as we'll answer the phone, fumble for maps, scratch an itch in a 'personal area', apply makeup, read the paper (or a novel) or carry on face-to-face conversations with people in the back seat.

At best, we'll just get a lapful of molten cheese and burger grease. At worst, we all know that it could lead to serious injury, even death. Remember. We don't judge here. Openly mock, perhaps, but we don't judge. What's the worst car-unfriendly food you've attempted to eat on the run? What's your secret driving faux pas?

We won't tell. Promise.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I'm an international sensation

Either that, or there’s some sort of multi-cultural whiskey-related internet scavenger hunt going on. Thanks to The Bev’s page, I have aquired some tools to see who’s reading my site. As such, now I know that in the past week, I’ve been tagged again and again by a few dozen Google searchers from Latvia, Norway, Taiwan, Argentina, South Africa, New Zealand, Belgium and Brazil, among many others.

And they’re all getting to my site based on one picture, and one picture only.
Except for one weirdo with a zombie fetish.

And as for this week’s contests, there’s still a movie quote to be named, and a movie role to be identified. A hint on the latter, my favorite author has a brief non-speaking cameo in the film in question.
He’s the man. I've no intention of taking up smoking, but I will smoke Pall Malls in tribute to him if I do.
Since we're talking whisk(e)y, a few of his choice quotes on the subject of drinking:

“I have this disease late at night sometimes, involving alcohol and the telephone.” (Our friend Julie has fallen prey to my drunken calls, but she loves it. Want her cell number?)

“I have this theory about why men kill each other and break things. ... Never mind. It's a dumb theory. I was going to say it was all sexual ... but everything is sexual ... but alcohol.”
And while this was not intended to be a tome dedicated to a man I miss horribly though I never met him, thoughts of him make me wistful but happier, saner at the same time.

“Oh, she says, well, you’re not a poor man. You know, why don’t you go online and buy a hundred envelopes and put them in the closet? And so I pretend not to hear her. And go out to get an envelope because I’m going to have a hell of a good time in the process of buying one envelope. I meet a lot of people. And, see some great looking babes. And a fire engine goes by. And I give them the thumbs up. And, and ask a woman what kind of dog that is. And, and I don’t know. The moral of the story is, is we’re here on Earth to fart around. And, of course, the computers will do us out of that. And, what the computer people don’t realize, or they don’t care, is we’re dancing animals. You know, we love to move around. And, we’re not supposed to dance at all anymore.”
— on telling his wife he’s going out to buy an envelope
And to me, the best, simplest quote of all, the one that makes my meat cry out ‘O, happy meat!’, that makes my soul cry out ‘O, happy soul’, is even better when perched between the slick hot shoulder blades of a beautiful woman:

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

And that was the end of Solomon Grundy

Yesterday would have been Henry Gibson's 74th birthday. He passed away last week, seven days short of that mark.

I love deadpan actors, those who can handle the most comedic of roles, that of straight man. Those who understand that humor comes from delivery. Gibson's birth name was James Bateman, but he adopted his stage name to honor Henrik Ibsen, the Norwegian playwright. (As opposed to the Louvre in Wisconsin...)

I loved watching reruns of Laugh In back in college, and Gibson's poetry readings were some of the highlights. An example:

How I Saved A Baby Rhino from Slippin' In The Quicksand, Whilst In Search Of My Fountain Pen, Last Summer Along The Amazon River by Henry Gibson

With great difficulty.

Of course, my first encounter with Gibson's work was as the head Nazi in the Blues Brothers, based on Frank Collin and his group's attempt to march through Skokie, IL in 1970.

Quiz time, though, because you don't get off that easily here. In which of Gibson's other myriad of films does he play a far more notable Nazi? Remember, every time you use Google to cheat on a trivia question, Santa eats one of his reindeer.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Is it really a mid-life crisis if I don't have a Corvette?

The walls are closing in. My new boss started work today, and when I walked in, there's a brand-new office where Lori's cubicle used to be. This means, that instead of walking into a wide-open space every morning, where there's light and some semblance of space, my claustrophobic self has to walk into another hallway. Because they had to move the neighboring cubicle out three feet to finish the drywall work, I turn the corner into another narrowing walkway.
Of course, I relocated my desk several months ago, out of the dark corner with a full window, into this brighter space. Thanks to that choice, I have a window, but I can't look out of it, since there's a cubicle wall in front of it. I feel like I should be in an Albert Camus novel (or a Cure video), today it suddenly dawns on my that I chose my own prison cell.In other news, I did, in fact, go car shopping over the weekend. The Buick is sick, quite sick, and throwing money at something that may not be worth it is painful. However, being the economics major that I was, opportunity cost says that I'll be sacrificing a lot just to get a new(er) car. Dr. Giesber rings through my head, asking me how many cheeseburgers I can eat before it becomes more worthwhile to buy an order of fries? How many vacations, motorcycle mods, fancy dinners, fine whisky and new patio doors would I be giving up for one pre-owned German sport sedan? And if, despite warning, you read all the way through Saturday's post, you know we need new patio doors, patio doors that DON'T have large gaps at the top and bottom where daylight and OTHER THINGS can pass right through.
But after a heartfelt discussion with Lori Friday night, after another miserable, soul-crushing week working under fluorescent lights and feeling my brain cloud grow larger and larger, it is obvious to all that I am suffering a mid-life crisis. The time has come, gone, and come back again to look at other potential career options, and since I don't know what I want to be when I grow up, the options are fairly open.
Further bulletins as events warrant.

Movie Mania Monday - Don't condescend me, man.

A hearty congratulations to Courtney, Iron Quote Guesser Whiskey and 4-0 so far in Movie Mania Monday, for identifying last week's movie as True Romance.

Now, for this week's contest. Remember the rules. First person to guess correctly the original source of the quote wins a prize - no movie characters quoting other movies. The prize consists of the people's ovation and fame forever (and the title of Iron Quote-Guesser), but if you give me creative, inexpensive and generally humorous ideas, that may change. This week's quote:

What an honor it is to have you in our little home... though I wonder if it does make the best first impression on a sensitive young mind to see you drinking during business hours.

Allez guessing!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Dinnertime - th-th-th-th-th-th-th-that's pork, folks!

Not surprisingly, we were watching television the other night, and as usual, I found the nerdiest thing possible to watch. Apparently, despite efforts to control the spread of feral hogs in the U.S., we're being overrun. There are currently approximately six million of these beasts becoming increasingly aggressive in as many as 40 states. Efforts to control them have had minimal effect at best. (And because I'm watching For Your Eyes Only as I type this, it becomes tempting to put my pinky to the edge of my mouth when I say 'six million', a la Dr. Evil.)

In order to do my part (since these hogs are, after all, in Florida, and I can't expect the Burmese pythons to take care of them), I'm posting TWO pork recipes this week.
Apricot Curry Pork Chops

8 boneless pork loin chops, approximately one pound total weight
2 Tbsp apricot preserves
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1 Tbsp curry powder
1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
1 red pepper, cut into strips
2 Tbsp white vinegar
1 Tbsp lemon juice

Fry pork chops in minimal oil until brown on both sides, then hold in a 180-degree oven. Add apricots, preserves, red pepper and one tablespoon of white vinegar to the saute pan. Once the preserves are softened, add curry powder and cinnamon. Cook until peppers and apricots are soft, then add remaining vinegar and lemon juice. Simmer until sauce is thickened, then add pork chops back to pan. This can be served with rice, I chose to make steamed bok choy and baked potatoes.

Makes four servings

Pork chops with fried apples

4 thick-cut boneless loin chops, 6-8 oz each
4 granny smith apples
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp vegetable oil

Heat butter and oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the fatty edge of the pork chops in the pan until golden, then flip to opposite edge. Core, slice and add apples to pan, cover and reduce heat to medium-low. After 10 minutes, remove cover and raise heat to reduce juices, flipping chops to one face for two minutes, then flipping to other side to finish. Serve with egg noodles. I also had a nice Spanish white that I bought a number of years ago that added a nice citrus note to the meal.

Makes another four servings.

Now, of course, if you happen to get a whole hog, you'll need a few extra apricots or apples, but it would be worth it.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Don't say I didn't warn you

Reason Not To Live In Florida #1756: Saturday Mornings

Aw, isn't he cute? Fuzzy, adorable little hamster. Nothing wrong with that. Doesn't he make you want to say 'awww, who's a cute widdle hamster. You are!', while rubbing his little hamster tummy? Problem is, he's only there so you can get the warning. If you are squeamish, arachnophobic, or have small children in the room, do not scroll down.

I repeat: DO NOT SCROLL DOWN. Get the kids out of the room. If you're reading this right before bedtime, DO NOT SCROLL DOWN.

You have been warned.

Today was the first morning I could actually tell we're heading into fall. It wasn't oppressively humid out, just a bright warm sunshiny day. After I came back in, Lori and I were admiring the rose bushes in our courtyard, and I'm excited that they're going to bloom en masse any day now. Never mind that they're called Golden Showers, get your mind out of the gutter now.

Lori then turned around, and on our patio door, there were a number of unidentified little lizards cavorting about, and the dammit dog was not amused, rather he was confused. Then, when the mommy lizard and the daddy lizard are really in love AND they're married (because we'll have none of that in this house...)

(re-enactment, cleaned up for our younger viewers.)

Okay now, this is your last chance. Final warning. One last opportunity to abandon this post now, before you're permanently scarred. Because you can't unsee something once you've seen it.

He's begging you.

I went outside to move the screen a bit, since it seemed to be trapping one of the lizards where dammit dog had RUN THROUGH THE SCREEN DOOR one night. Dammit.

It was then that I discovered we had more than lizards hiding behind the screen.

Aw, he's not so bad, he's just a cute little spider. No problem, right?


Pardon my dirty window, but if you had these types of creatures crawling around willy nilly, would you be standing outside in shorts, armed only with Windex? I think not.

You can't necessarily read it at this scale, but the red line equals one inch. And Lori's killed more than one of these little f*@kers IN OUR BATHROOM. She adds that she did that blind, in the middle of the night, without the benefit of her eyeglasses.

So that's Saturday in the Sunshine state. Fun stuff, right? Don't say I didn't warn you.

Oh, and for our friends and family who will be visiting over the next few months, they WILL be gone. Terminix does wonderful things.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Fun Fact Friday - Black velvet and a little boy smile

Since I posted about fine art theft yesterday, I thought we'd stay in the artistic vein, and discuss some of the finest art known to man.
I'm talking about Cassius Coolidge's famed 1903 series of Dogs Playing Poker.
Someone has WAAAAYYY too much time and patience.

Of course, only nine of the sixteen paintings depict anthropomorphic (thanks, Mr. Ceci!) dogs at cards, the others show the canines playing pool and pursuing other manly activities of the early 20th century, like riding goats. What?Brown & Bigelow, the same company that published Norman Rockwell's works, commissioned the paintings in order to sell cigars. Makes perfect sense to me. Of course, what really sets these paintings apart from other likenesses to have graced the ebony velveteen was the February 2005 sale of a pair of these paintings for $590,400. Take that, Elvis hangin' with Jesus!
Coolidge also invented and marketed the greatest photo op mankind has ever known, the novelty he called Comic Foregrounds, for which he was granted a patent. These foregrounds are the familiar life-sized portraits with holes located where the head should be. The patrons stick their head through the hole and are transformed into a strong man, beautiful woman, or immersed in a fantasy scene. Today they are common around carnivals and tourist traps. Coolidge made hundreds of different paintings for these foregrounds, some of which had titles such as "Man Riding a Donkey" or "Fat Man in a Bathing Suit." He started a mail order business selling these caricatures, which provided most of his income later in his life.
So stick your head in that and smoke it!

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