On my way to work today I saw a billboard for the Web site www.ready.gov (which turns out to be run by the Department of Homeland Security). It's a fairly informative site about the possible types of disasters and what you should have on hand when planning ahead (almost all of which I already have; does that mean I'm paranoid?).
There seems to be one glaring omission, though. While they cover nuclear, biological and natural disasters, they don't even mention the threat of zombies (I even used the search engine, to no avail). Come on, haven't they seen "Dawn of the Dead" or "Resident Evil"? You need to be prepared for these things. In the interests of enlightening my friends and family, I recommend picking up a copy of "The Zombie Survival Guide" (yes, it's a real book, and yes, I have a copy). It could save your life.
P.S. - Yes, the book is a parody. But it's good reading nonetheless.
In the interests of pursuing duality, I present "a day, in contrast":
Up - I finally received an item I bought on eBay 3 weeks ago.
Down - Work was more annoying than usual (enough said, since this is a public blog).
Up - I finished "soundproofing" one of my bedroom windows (hopefully well enough to keep my neighbors' dog from waking me up from now on). I bought a roll of 2-inch acoustic foam (the kind used to soundproof studios) and cut it into the shape of the window, then held it in place with a sheet of cardboard; I'm sure it would look stupid if it wasn't completely covered by my long drapes, but since I never open that window anyway I really don't care. As a bonus, it should block light and offer at least a little insulation value. We'll see if it stops the noise or not.
Down - In the process of running up and down the stairs to the basement to retrieve first the cordless drill, then some bigger washers, then the utility knife, I managed to hurt my knee. Again. I dislocated it during a wrestling match 12 years ago and it likes to "pop" now and then all the time, but this is the second time in two months that I've actually felt sharp, shooting pains in it while going up or down stairs. Bleh, I really don't feel like having surgery right now.
Heard from one of the checkers at Hy-Vee the other night:
"Man, that lottery is just nuts. Someone has to win it this time. And whoever wins it will get divorced right after. Not me, man. I wouldn't tell no one. I'd divorce my wife *before* I cashed in the ticket. No way she's getting half my money."
Kind of goes along with the game three kids were playing across the street from my house while I was resealing some of my windows over the weekend. As far as I could gather, the game essentially consisted of the oldest child being the "mother" and the two younger children being the "kids," with a round of play commencing with the youngest finding new ways to act up, the other "kid" tattling to the "mother" and the "mother" doling out punishments (including, but not limited to, taking a picture of him with a camera and putting it on a "bad kids" Web site and making him dress in girl's clothes). Then a new round would start. I don't seem to remember this game from my childhood.
I can already cook and iron, and I'm not much for shooting clay pigeons, but maybe this class would help me keep a relationship. I'm accepting donations for travel expenses. Although my skull is slightly misshapen, so I'm not sure how well the "balancing a book on your head" thing is going to go (seriously, my dad has been making fun of my head since I was 3 weeks old . . .).
Normally Discover magazine is filled with horribly geeky articles about quantum mechanics and robots and germs (things that excite people like me). This month they had an article that might excite other people, as well.
Did you know that breasts move in a sinusoidal pattern when a woman jogs? I didn't think so.
Discover devoted an entire article to the biology of breast composition, the physics of breast movement and the technology of new bras. The point of the article is that bra technology is getting the same retrofit that shoe technology did a few decades ago, with smart materials that "sense when breast motion increases and tighten appropriate parts of the bra in response," based on laboratory studies that use LED lights and computer tracking to study the kinesthetics of breast motion. Considering that bra sales last year topped $5 billion, and that the average bust size has increased over the last 15 years from a 34B to a 36C (with over 30% of the population a D or larger), it deserves a serious consideration (so those of you who are giggling can stop now). From a medical standpoint, "56% of women suffer from breast pain when jogging, and women will limit themselves from doing exercise because of it." Add to that nerve damage to the hands from straps cutting into the shoulders and things that cause most men's brains to stop functioning end up causing actual trouble for women.
The article also mentioned that a pair of D-cup breasts can weigh up to 23 pounds, and that the first bra wasn't introduced until a little over a century ago. See, guys, we have it easy.
CPR is messy (cartilage separation, possible broken ribs, vomiting) so television shows obviously can't depict *real* CPR, but come on, people, every time I see CPR on television I end up pissed off because it's so laughably wrong that it's sad (elbows bent, not compressing the chest at all, etc.; it looks more like they're giving a chest massage). And it's not just the civilians on tv. One of the episodes of "Scrubs" I watched last week showed Dr. Cox (the "best doctor in the hospital") doing it so poorly that he might as well have skipped it and gone right to the defib paddles. The shows could do an actual public service if they'd switch out the "patient" for a CPR manikin in the cut shots and show the actors doing CPR correctly.
They also vastly overestimate the effects of CPR. I've seen a character perform CPR for 20 or 30 seconds before the victim coughs and sits up. CPR doesn't work that way. CPR won't restart a heart; all it does is keep the brain oxygenated (by providing oxygen to the lungs and then circulating it by manually operating the heart) until more advanced medical treatment (a defibrillator or airway management) arrives. It's a stalling tactic to prevent brain damage, not a "cure" (which is why we're instructed to continue performing CPR "until help arrives or you are too exhausted to continue").
I doubt this will lead anywhere, but since it's free I figured it's worth a shot.
My brother is trying to sell his motorcycle. You can sum up everything I know about motorcycles in the sentence "Wait, where are the other two wheels?", so I don't know any of the details, but he's asked me to float it around after it didn't sell in the local paper back west. It's a 1998 Honda CBR and he's asking $4,000. He lives in my hometown, but he said that if I can find a buyer in Omaha he'll go ahead and deliver it (then he has an excuse to come visit me). I'm going to put it up on the electronic bulletin board at work next week and if I don't get any takers there we'll probably try eBay. If you're interested, or know someone who might be, contact me for the full details.
P.S. - Hey, Jeff? Did you realize we can see your reflection in the speedometer in the last picture? Good thing you didn't take those pictures naked.
I think I'm going to make a new section of the site for "Things That Slightly Annoy Me" (I figured "Things I Hate" was a little too strong).
Number one on the list (if only because it has annoyed me twice in the last two days): radio stations that play little prerecorded snippets of three different songs stuck together with the name of the station and/or random people talking over/under/in between them. This invariably elicits one of two responses from me.
a) I don't like any of the songs, which in turn leads me to change the station (good advertising strategy there); or
b) I like at least one of the songs and I start singing to it, and then it ends after 10 seconds, leaving me cussing at the radio to finish playing the damn song. Not content just to frustrate me, of course, the radio station usually then pours salt in the wound by playing another song that I don't like. "You should listen to our station because we play this song that you really like . . . but not right now. But hang around because after we finish playing this crappy song, maybe we'll play that good song. But probably not."
In the desert I saw a creature, naked, bestial, Who, squatting upon the ground, Held his heart in his hands, And ate of it. I said, "Is it good, friend?" "It is bitter - bitter," he answered; "But I like it Because it is bitter, And because it is my heart."
-Stephen Crane, 1895
One of my favorite poems. I dunno what made me think of it. Maybe it's something about learning to live with our flaws.
In an Oct. 10 letter defending same-sex marriage as natural and normal, the Rev. David Holmes said the word "natural" is a synonym for the word "normal," and it is. But Holmes didn't give the definition of "natural," which is, according to my dictionary, "of or existing in or produced by nature."
The one common theme throughout all of nature is reproduction. If most species were not able to reproduce and replenish, they would die off and create a vast wasteland.
Homosexuality is anything but normal or natural. Tim Ferguson, Norfolk, Neb.
From the World-Herald: Nebraska is going to "satellite voting" in 2006 (wherein registered voters can conveniently vote at hospitals, college campuses and shopping malls up to 20 days before an election).
About 10% of me thinks its a good effort to solve the problem of poor voter turnout and political apathy.
The other 90% of me thinks that people who are too lazy to get up to speed on the issues and candidates and spend 20 minutes driving to their polling place probably just shouldn't be voting. Getting more people to vote is only a good thing if they're actually *informed* voters who are willingly participating in the process. In a way it's pandering to American laziness and the lack of appreciation for the democratic process, and that makes me sad.
I'm back from a visit to my parents' over the weekend. One set of family pictures taken. Two volleyball games watched. Twelve hours of driving out of the way. I could elaborate in greater detail (perhaps even in iambic pentameter, if the tips are good), but instead I'll just give you a visual summary. I apologize in advance for the mismatched video and sound; the software that came bundled with my camcorder isn't the most adaptable editing suite on the market (I'll need to get a nicer bundle sooner or later). In the meantime, you have two choices:
For the Myst fan who has everything (that would be me), the homemade Myst cake! For my birthday, though, I'm expecting the Riven version, including all five islands and the Star Fissure. You'd best start working on it now. Or maybe just the Age of J'Nanin from Myst: Exile. Your pick.
Sure, the bank who put this up is probably suggesting the answer is "checking" or "automatic bill paying," but who are they kidding. Look at the guy's face (and are we really supposed to think that's *his* finger on his chin?). The answer is clearly "sex." Some banks give away DVD players, others give away, well, you know.
Of course, "sex" seems to be the answer to most questions in advertising.
On Saturday I saw "Corpse Bride" with Lane. It was a good movie, but not really that memorable. Lane enjoyed it, but was more excited by the Harry Potter trailer before it (hard to live up to 30 seconds of an as-yet unseen Harry Potter movie, ya know). Then Jennifer and I marveled at the lowered standards implicit in the television show "ElimiDate" (one of the guys based his decision on which woman to go out with not on her interests or beliefs or dreams, but on whether she'd make out with him on camera in the bathroom of the restaurant).
On Sunday I spent an hour breaking in my video camera by filming the twins (20 minutes of video became a whopping 4.3 *gigabyte* raw file - holy cow). Obviously I won't be posting any 20-minute video files here, but the camera does a decent job (it washes out in low-light, defined as anything less than direct sunlight, but it's still viewable). I discovered that I already had a Firewire cable after I spent $15 getting one from eBay (which is better than the $30 they wanted at Wal-Mart), but I guess now I have two (in case anyone wants to buy one from me for, oh, say $30 . . .).
After that Tracy and I saw "Serenity," which was quite enjoyable (see my review here). Go see it. :)
Since Cris and Jamie wanted to see the gleaming metal beneath the grime, I dropped the pennies into a cup of salt and vinegar (supposedly the best way to clean copper; if I actually took the time I could probably figure out the chemical reaction, but I'm lazy). I was planning on soaking them overnight, but to my surprise they were clean within about 30 seconds (I didn't have time to grab my camera before they were done). Then I left one in the mixture for about 15 minutes just to see what it would do, and ended up with a penny coated in some orange coating that wouldn't come off until I used one of my sanding blocks (I have no idea what it was; some oxide of copper, I'm assuming).
This whole experiment kind of reminds me of when I was a kid and the grade school went through a "put pennies on the railroad tracks" phase (it smashes them into this elongated and very thin oval of featureless copper, for those curious, or at least it did with the pennies when I was a kid; today they're actually copper-plated zinc). Someone told us that destroying money was illegal and we were all nervous that the Secret Service was going to come arrest us for smashing a couple of pennies (as though they just *knew* when a penny was destroyed) . . .