Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Internet Etiquette

When we were all little kids we experienced the transition between babyhood (which includes infancy, toddlerness) into that phase of actually becoming a humanoid member of society. By this time our skills have increased greatly as we now know how to walk, talk and control our bodily functions…or at least some of us do. Having now reached this benchmark in our social and personal development, we begin to take on more and more responsibility in our place of residence. We are now required to use those walking skills to carry our dinner plates to the counter, use our new communication skills to say “Please” and “Thank you,” and can no longer get away with burping and spitting up after every meal…that is, unless your mom served Mr. Pibb at every meal – then it’s understandable.

If you’re like most kids at this age, you seem to be consumed by curiosity and the ‘wonder of it all.’ This manifests itself in a variety of ways such as the time when you first learned why you’re not supposed to touch a hot stove no matter how pretty it is, or when you first decided to eat dirt. In addition to the violent, dangerous and just outright gross things…we are also curious in regard to the regular day to day things we see our parents doing everyday on a day to day basis. At that age, no matter who we are, Daddy and Mommy are our heroes and we try to emulate everything they do in order to carbon copy their hero-esque qualities onto our own sense of being. So it is bound to happen that on some random day, the telephone happens to be sitting near you when it rings. Instinctively, you pick the phone up and answer it just as you’ve seen your mom do – “hewwo?” Then suddenly someone is talking to you, in rapid bursts of language they ask lots of questions yet there’s no one in the room. Dazed and confused you lock up and don’t speak another word, eventually setting the phone down while the voice continues jabbering. An hour or so later your Mom realizes that the phone has been off the hook and that call she was expecting has come and gone…several times. At this point your Mother decides to teach you telephone etiquette which entails how to speak clearing into the handset, take messages, leave messages and above all, say “Sir” and “Ma’am” based on our ability to recognize a person’s gender by their voice alone.

I say all this just to bring up the point of today’s modern communication medium, particularly online chat and email. It seems that the etiquette and respect we were taught to use when talking on the phone has not translated into the new medium, at all. I understand this could be because e-comm is still very young and standards for what is acceptable have not yet been determined. But it is also entirely possible that mass humanity has become less courteous in the realm of online correspondence due to the downward spiral of societal ‘giving a flip.’ So in order to help us remember what our Mom’s taught us about the telephone and apply it to email and instant messaging, I have complied a list of internet etiquette guidelines (which are really more like hard and fast rules of code and anyone found not abiding by them will be subject to the pangs of torture and humiliation) and general good advice when totting about the inter-web.

01. Use a real language, with proper grammar, punctuation and capitalization.
02. Use a language that the receiver understands.
03. When instant messaging, always provide links rather than saying “go check out this article in this section of the such and such website,” That statement tells the receiver nothing except that you don’t know how to use hyperlinks.
04. When forwarding a message, always delete all the previous email transaction text at the top of the page. Forwards get a bad rap because it takes 10 minutes to dig through and find whatever it is you actually wanted to send me.
05. ‘Reply to All’ is not always appropriate…there are some things I don’t want to know.
06. All caps and red text are to be used sparingly; basically only if you are selling something or are really angry.
07. One exclamation point is sufficient!! Trust me! You don’t! have to make people think you’re wired on caffeine all the time!!!!
08. Abbreviations are acceptable as long as they are not over used and as long as you’re not lying in using them…when has anyone ever actually been Rolling On The Floor Laughing?
09. Make good use of blind carbon copying, it allows your friends to spy on your correspondence without the recipient knowing about it.
10. There is no real winner in a poking war…
11. Humans who only use dial-up are people too.
12. Chatting via mobile merits the user at least 10% more forgiveness to misspellings and grammatical errors.
13. Just because you get an email with “I love you” in the subject line and an attachment that is an .exe file named ‘I’m a dangerous virus bent on devouring and corrupting your computer’s saved data and vital systems” doesn’t mean you’ve received a virus.
14. It is possible for Spammers to lie, just because you receive a message with the subject line: “Angelina Jolie dies in miscarriage” or “Police open fire on elderly in Iowa, want better pay” you aren’t required to open it.

Try these out and let me know how it goes…if you have more to add to the list please include them in the comments section.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Habitual Creatures of Habit

Sometimes in life we sit wondering what will happen next. These wonderings often are derived from life changing decisions such as whether or not to adopt seven Korean children. But our minds are also affected by the mundane snap decisions that we don’t even consciously think about, such as what letter will start your next sentence. In many ways, these rushed choices made while we’re ‘thinking on our feet’ tell us more about ourselves than the huge major important ones. What we do and how we behave under pressure reveals the inner ‘we’ even if it’s a simple matter of deciding between paper or plastic at the grocery store.
Imagine if you will that you are standing in line to order at a fast food restaurant and there is a line of about 30 grumbling construction workers behind you when you step up to order. In this case your mind tells you that you need to hurry up because they’ve already been waiting for 15 minutes. In the rush of it all, you make a quick decision about what you want to eat without even considering if that’s what you really want to eat. So the question is, why is it that we don’t find ourselves constantly sitting down with our food and thinking “why did I order this?” The answer is we are habitual creatures of habit.

In most cases, you have eaten at the same restaurant before and have ordered the same meal before. So by forming a habit, we as humans can remove the thinking process in order to simplify our lives. In this way, we are spared the risk of making bad decisions because we’ve already thought them out and found success with them in the past. We simply repeated the same “good” decision over and over again and thus a habit is formed. Why fix what isn’t broken, right?

Well, there are also some negative sides to this habit thing. First of all, it retards exercise of the human thought process. Sure, it’s nice to not have to think about anything, but what is the overall affect on society? Are we systematically training ourselves to become dumber? Secondly, the incessant habit former stifles creativity by constantly doing the same things. Sure, deviating from the status quo is unfamiliar and scary but being creative requires us to take those risks and very often the rewards are infinite.

So be creative and break a habit this week, variety is the spice of life…so spice it up! Post your death-to-monotony stories in the comments section.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Fantasy World

We as humanoids have always had an aspect of imagination in our minds’ eye that both dwells on and longs for all things contained within the realm of the fantastic, much like this sentence. We are ever striving to create a world of our own fashioning wherein we can sculpt and manipulate everything in it however we wish. This inner desire shared by humans could be explained by our inherent selfishness and humanistic perspective that fancies us as gods. Or it could simply be an outlet for creativity with which we entertain ourselves and others by mentally breaching the boundaries of the possible to explore that which is impossible.

So what would my fantasy world look like? In many ways it would be very similar to our own world and our time with a few hundred subtle differences. I won’t take the time to mention all of them but will attempt to sum up the overall feel of the world that is planet Stewart.

01. Dinosaurs would still be alive and would be hunted like deer, ridden like horses, and put in captivity in zoos.
02. Mosquitoes would be the size of basketballs and would be hunted to near extinction and no one would pity them.
03. Trees would always grow with convenient limb placement for easy climbing as well as universal cup holders.
04. Mr. Pibb would still exist but only to showcase the supreme might of Dr Pepper, no one would actually drink it.
05. I would be able to fly.
06. Lightsabers and assault rifles would be the customary 8th birthday present.
07. Instead of $1 per tooth, the tooth fairy is more like a tooth dragon and gives kids bags of loose diamonds that come out its nose.
08. Texas would have a purpose.
09. Pizza plants would be grown as the main crop in Australia.
10. Ligers would be bred for their skills in magic.
11. At any given moment, the world as we see it could be changed to an 8-bit graphical interface with 8-bit internal PC speaker sound. We could then throw fire boogers at each other after eating a magical flower.
12. Frisbee golf discs would have homing devices.
13. The Atlanta Braves would only have 15 players on the disabled list…I know, impossible right?

So there you have it, just a few things I would want in the fantastic land I created …in my mind. Would you want to live there? What are your own fantasy worlds be like?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Independence Day 2008

This Friday marks the 231st birthday of the Untied States of America and to celebrate this occasion I will provide a brief time line of the dates and events that have made this country what is is today. May we never forget the past so as not to make the same mistakes in the future.

1763 – British military officers sang “Yankee Doodle Dandy” to shame the disheveled, disorganized colonial “Yankees” in the French and Indian War. This backfired however when colonists sang it in mockery after defeating the Lobster backs in the US revolution. The song was used once again by confederate soldiers during the war of northern aggression.

July 3, 1776 – The draft of the Declaration of Independence was finished.

July 4, 1776 – The Declaration was adopted and signed by the Second Continental Congress as well as Forest Gump’s Great Great Grandfather…Woodedglenn Gump. The names Woody and Glenn were derived from his first name as a way to honor his memory – the name Woodedglenn was retired in the same manner a basketball jersey might be.

1776-1783 – The British invade the newly independent U.S. but are thwarted by Mel Gibson and his tomahawk throwing skills. The french eventually show up after most of the fighting is over and attempt to take credit for defeat of Charles Cornwallis at Yorktown (aka Old York).

December 25, 1896 – John Philip Sousa composed “Stars and Stripes Forever” which later became the official march of the USA and required memorization in high school band rehearsals everywhere. The march had the power to inject strong emotion in those who heard it therefore paving the way for Rock ‘N Roll.

July 4, 1996 – As President, Bill Pullman recruits the talents of a drunk crop duster to fight against the threat of extermination imposed by an unnamed alien fleet that has invaded earth and is destroying her cities.

November 19, 2004 – The Declaration of Independence was stolen by Nicholas Cage using the surname Benjamin Gates in an expansive government conspiracy to prove that the free masons did more than just play bingo and drink beer.

As you can see, we as Americans have a rich heritage of violence, theft, and loud noises. Be an American this July 4 and celebrate by blowing stuff up with fire and creating booming sounds that jolt the continental shelf.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mono v. Mono

Throughout our lives there are specific battles that each of us participate in as both a means of self defense as well as out right preemptive violent aggression. These battles are hard-fought epic scale smack down sessions that typically result in both parties being permanently scarred and mangled with the loser either being utterly destroyed or put into a vegetative state until the sequel. In some cases, the villain finds redemption and thus avoids destruction when out-matched by the hero. Conversely, when the hero becomes the loser, he may defect his heroism and accept villainy in order to be spared the aforementioned destruction. In these cases, the villain usually destroys the hero anyway because he’s pure evil and relishes the fact that the hero compromised everything he’d been fighting for, for nothing.

So who are these heroes and villains? As a means of example, I will list some of the greatest most epic mono v. mono fighting match ups in history – you will have to decide who the heroes and villains are and who the winners and losers are.

01. Scorpion vs. Tarantula
02. Godzilla vs. King Kong
03. Bottle-nosed Dolphin vs. Great White Shark
04. Louis Pasteur vs. Rabies
05. Mario vs. Sonic
06. Seth Green vs. Chris Crocker
07. Thomas Edison vs. Darkness
08. Dunder-Mifflin vs. Trees
09. Norman Bates vs. Norman Bates
10. King Cobra vs. Mongoose
11. Henry Ford vs. Horses
12. Johnny Storm vs. Bobby Drake
13. Alexander Graham Bell vs. Carrier Pigeons
14. Charmander vs. Squirtle
15. Paper vs. Plastic
16. Captain Planet vs. Halliburton

Epic battles indeed, but not all wars have such pomp and circus-dance…we all have personal wars that we struggle with, sometimes on a daily basis. For me, it seems it will always be Stewart vs. Mr. Pibb until that fateful day when Dr. Pepper reigns supreme over the entire carbonated beverage universe. Until such time, I will press on – taking the punches as they come and fighting back with all the passion and angst I can muster.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tips on Tips

In today’s culture it has become normal for human beings to be expected…nay, required to pay a tip to restaurant servers in addition to the cost of the meal regardless of their performance in executing their services.

The word ‘Gratuity’ is cited on as meaning:

1. A gift of money, over and above payment due for service, as to a waiter or bellhop; tip.
2. Something given without claim or demand.

Isn’t it interesting to know that when “gratuity” is added to the check because of the size of your group, it immediately ceases to be gratuity? Rather it becomes a “you require a larger table” tax, but restaurants misuse the former because it sounds nicer. From a customer’s stand point they are bringing business to the eatery by inviting their friends who will no doubt all buy something…yet, rather than a group discount we receive an overpopulation tax by being required to pay a predetermined tip regardless of the quality of service.

Now, what merits a legitimate tip then? If a server is polite, doesn’t interrupt, keeps everyone’s glasses full, keeps the all-you-can-eat dishes coming, brings the food quickly, as ordered and hot, always gives correct change, doesn’t ramble on about nobody knows what….then he or she is likely deserving of a tip. Remember, tips are over and above and are a means of rewarding hard work – if a server does a good job, you should tip them…but only then. If the service is bad and they are tipped anyway, what motivation do they have to do better next time? It’s like every aspect of our society’s tipping philosophy is about rewarding mediocrity and getting free hand outs without earning them. This not only destroys people’s drive to excel but also creates a dependence on hand-outs.

So, what if it’s not the server’s fault such as when a cook is being slow or not thorough? I see the two as one in the same. The server still represents the restaurant and if they are missing out on tips because of the cook, they should take it up with management. If the server gets tipped anyway because “it’s not their fault” then the status quo is maintained and the cook will continue to be slow or un-thorough the next time you come to eat there.

I hear this argument a lot: “servers can’t make ends meat on the minimum wage that the restaurant pays and they rely on tips for their livelihood.” Obviously restaurants have realized that many people tip regardless of service so they can get away with paying servers as little as possible. The truth is, no one forced you to take the job and no one is forcing you to stay at the job. If you can’t live off what you’re paid get a new job or lower your cost of living. This goes for any realm of employment not just food services. If people would stop tipping for no reason, servers would require more money and the restaurants will have to pay whatever the market will bear. As long as we the customer pay the stupidity tax, restaurants will let us fit the bill.

Now what about gratuity amounts? Social standards are to tip 10%-25% of whatever your bill was…What kind of messed up system is that? Using percentages? “Hmm, let’s look at the menu…hamburger $9.95……ribs $19.95….both come on one plate…both require one trip from the kitchen to my table – the server does the exact same amount of work regardless of what I order…yet, if I get the ribs I will pay twice the amount of gratuity than if I get the hamburger…” As you can see from this scenario, using percentages is a ridiculous way to calculate tips. If anything the higher my bill is, the better my discount should be because I am bringing much more business to the restaurant. So what should be done then? If you ask me, the standard for tips should be determined on a case by case, dollar by dollar basis determined solely by the customer’s overall experience in the subject establishment.

From an internal point of view, many restaurants require their servers to pool their tips and divide them equally among the other servers. The thinking behind this was to make it fair for those who may not have gotten a table with as many people or just not as high a tab. Again, here we go with rewarding mediocre service by allowing servers to slack off and let one of their fellow servers make their tips for them. If I do a really great job serving and get a really nice tip, I deserve that tip because I earned it and it shouldn’t be taken from me and given to a server who didn’t do such a great job. In the same way, if I have a great experience and the service is amazing, I want my tip to go to the person who served me and created that experience by going over and above the status quo. Sharing tips is simply practical communism masked in the disguise of fairness.

Where does it end? If gratuity is to be expected, then it is no longer gratuity. Will corporations start paying their computer programmers next to nothing and let the software consumers cover the rest of their payroll by tipping? This may sound ridiculous but that’s not to say that it could never happen. If people like you and me are willing to pay “over and above” for services that are “under and below” there’s no telling what else we might pay for.

In closing, I am not saying you should never tip…quite the contrary, tip as often as you can. There are many servers who are great at what they do and work hard to earn that reward and I don’t want to take anything away from those people. Give gratuity where gratuity is due and not where it is unwarranted. If you received crappy service, the server should expect to be compensated accordingly and hopefully they will strive to improve should you ever come back to their restaurant.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Don't Thank You Notes

Anyone who has graduated or been married understands the pain and agony of writing so-called ‘Thank You’ notes. On its surface the idea of a Thank You note is perfectly harmless and is in fact a very polite gesture afforded to the giver, having been the recipient of their selfless generosity. My qualm with these notes of appreciation is introduced as a reaction to the idea that Thank You notes are something to be expected and anticipated by the gift giver. I have actually had people ask me why they did not receive a Thank You note for a particular gift – the cold hard truth is that I didn’t write one, plain and simple.

It isn’t that I was not grateful for the gift, I almost always thank the giver in person because it is much more personal this way and not carbon copied and signed out of fake gratitude because it is required…yet, this somehow isn’t enough. It seems that these people need something tangible that they can hold in their hands, read once, and throw away. In reality, thank you notes are really just a form of Indian giving…giving a gift and expecting something in return, in this case it is a frilly piece of folded card stock with some scribbled ink on it. Why can’t we just give someone a gift and be done with it? If they then choose to write a thank you note, so be it. But doesn’t the fact that it is required or expected take away the significance of the gesture?

Many people use the requesting of a thank you note as a front for making sure that the intended recipient actually received the gift. The only instance I can think of where this would apply is if the gift was mailed. If you went to the wedding/graduation then it’s the same as hand delivering the gift and you can be 99.9% certain that the right person got the gift, with those odds you have no business suspecting that the gift "got lost on the gift table." However, even if the gift was mailed…how hard is it to call the person on the phone and ask if they received it? The receiver may then thank you vocally and not have to worry about the time and money that goes into writing and mailing an actual note.

So what is the solution? Gift recipients are between a rock and a hard place as they try to express their gratefulness but also not waste time and money on meaningless thank you notes. I propose that from now on, the giver is responsible for giving a true gift…in addition to whatever the gift is, also give the recipient freedom from the bonds of thank you note writing. Include a piece of paper with the gift explaining that you do not want a thank you note. Better yet, include a pre-written note with a stamped envelope with the gift that can easily be dropped in the mailbox with little or no effort. This way the gift receiver will have a clear conscience having met the requirement of writing you a thank you note and the gift giver can get a tangible thank you note with whatever self centered boastful flattery they wish because they wrote it themselves.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Best and Worst Mothers

In the spirit of last Sunday’s Mother’s Day, I bring you some of the Best and Worst Mothers in History…not in any particular order other than Worst first, Best last.

Worst Mothers

- The Mother Bird from Are you my mother?

This one makes our list for obvious reasons, what kind of deadbeat mom leaves their child in a straw basket 100 feet above the ground for hours on end? This poor fellow had time to walk the entire country side in search of his mother – who is also apparently deaf because she heard not one of his woeful cries. If not for a kind and generous ‘Snort,’ there is no telling what this mother’s irresponsible behavior might have led to.

- Bertier’s Momma from Remember the Titans

Once Gary Bertier stepped onto that bus, he didn’t have no Momma no more…he’s got his brothers on the team, and he’s got his Daddy, and we all know who is Daddy is don’t we? She was there watching her son be torn away from her and yet she did nothing. Also, Bertier’s Momma is rumored to go out on the town with High School jocks and have a hairy back.

- Wendy from PeterPan

So Wendy flies in to Neverland to find the band of lost boys who were getting along just fine. Rather than contributing anything useful to this rag-tag community, Wendy shakes up the established social equilibrium and informs the lost boys that they have to have a mother in order to…something. Anyway, so Wendy promises to be the mother these boys have never had. She sings them to sleep and tucks them into bed then without so much as a home-cooked meal flies away to London never to see them again.

- Charlotte from Charlotte’s Web

Charlotte is a spider who lays hundreds of eggs then places them all in one basket, first mistake. Charlotte then abandons her unhatched young by dying, third mistake. Charlotte’s second mistake was that before she died she left her eggs in the care of a dirty, spoiled pig. The results of said action are catastrophic…Wilbur the pig transports the baby spiders in his mouth which is obviously not the safest or most sterile environment. Once the eggs hatch, Wilbur allows the spider babies to parasail into the wind within moments of being born. Charlotte won’t be winning mother of the year anytime soon.

- Coral the Clownfish from Finding Nemo

Coral is Marlin’s Clownfish wife who has just laid hundreds of eggs in their new home on a reef. When a mean old barracuda comes along, Coral is told by Marlin to keep still and that the kids will be fine. Coral, instead of heeding her fishy husband’s advice (or ahem, command), bolts toward the eggs and provokes the predator to attack. The end result is Coral’s own death, Marlin being knocked out and all but one of the kids being eaten. It is also quite possible that the ordeal caused injury to the remaining egg while the embryo was developing which is why Nemo has a gimpy fin. Thus, the whole plot of Finding Nemo would not have happened if Coral hadn’t snapped.

Best Mothers

- Mother Teresa

She was such a good Mother that they named her after it. She also did some humanitarianistic acts or something.

- Norman Bates from Psycho

Norman Bates’ mother was so good to her son that she stuck around after her death to keep an eye on him and make sure that he always believed that a boy’s best friend is his mother. Taking up residence in half of Norman’s mind…Mother became the son but then took over, so now there is only mother.

- Alien Queen from Aliens

The Alien Queen is the definition of what a dedicated mother should be. When her eggs are destroyed via grenade and flame thrower, she gives chase relentlessly to the point of near insanity to avenge her slain young. When the compound is imploding around her she uses her keen wits to grab onto the outside of passing space shuttle and continue the fight on the mother ship. Once there she does some damage and is eventually spaced due to the evils of robotic mechanized forklift suit technology. She is indeed a great mother to her charred alien kids…

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Book Review: Where’s Waldo? by M. Handford

Popular in the 1990s, the Where’s Waldo? (WW?) books were a pop culture phenomenon as the world rose up, shook it’s collective fist at the sky and cried out with one unified voice “WHERE’S THAT BLASTED WALDO?” A pure source of frustration and strained retinas, WW? is in essence a large illustrated book wherein the main character Waldo is hidden amongst huge populations of humanoid cartoons. It is the reader’s job to scan this mass of humanity until Waldo is located, the page may then be turned and the process begins again with a whole new bevy of generic unimportant people.

Little is known about Waldo himself, he is obviously fond of wearing the same outfit everywhere, everyday. He wears glasses and always seems to be aware that he is being searched for because he’s always looking at the reader. Some have theorized that the truth is that Waldo is not a human at all and that he was born on a distant planet called Waldezma. Whatever the case, Waldo has created an obsession for little boys and girls since 1987 with no signs of slowing down.

So what can be learned from this colorful book? The fact is that Where’s Waldo? is basically a training manual for future spy satellite technicians. Marketed to children because of it’s cartoony, innocent appearance, WW? is no doubt a government funded program aimed at embedding spying skills into children so that said skills can then be harvested once the children are grown. Although this could prove helpful to America’s cause, how easily could this dangerous material be placed into the wrong hands? WW? has been distributed to countless countries in countless languages, and that’s not even the scariest part…imagine if the these books were misplaced during the zombie uprising, it’s terrifying to think about. ‘Where’s Waldo’ also has the same acronym as ‘World War’…coincidence? I don’t think so.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Humid Darkness

The night was humid and noticeably darker than most nights of the same lunar phase. Perhaps this was due to an irregularity in the oxygen/nitrogen mixture in the earth’s atmosphere, perhaps there was a massive alien battle cruiser parked in front of the moon, or perhaps I had simply forgotten to take off my sunglasses. Whatever the reason, I found myself wandering through the moist night air without any idea as to where I was going. Every now and then, a tiny flash of light would appear in the blackness and I would make an adjustment to my route hoping to find some avenue of non-ignorance as to the factual basis of my current location. And that’s when it hit me…or perhaps I hit it, I’m not really sure because as soon as it happened, everything went blacker than it was before. 

As I lie there unable to move and unsure if I was even still conscious, I thought about what mysterious thing I might have collided with. After a few minutes I concluded that my ordeal had to have been caused by one of three possibilities: (1) A slave merchant who had now succeeded in capturing me and is currently loading my limp body on to a riverboat bound for Wyoming. (2) The aforementioned alien battle cruiser sent down a reconnaissance vessel that, while trying to abduct me, missed with their tractor beam and accidentally abducted the manhole cover I was walking straight toward. Or (3), a parked ice cream truck. Whatever the cause, here I was just killing time unable to communicate with the outside world. I tried to play a game of sudoku in my head but i soon found that the human mind is worth less than paper and a pencil when playing number games. I’m not sure exactly how long I remained in this state or what the long term side effects will be, all I know is I woke up this morning and it was Wednesday.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Going Green

It amazes me how network television stations will change their logos to a green color and ask people to “go green” all because of earth day just because it’s popular to do so. I laughed last night as Ryan Seacrest stands on the stage of American Idol with millions of watts of stage and effects lighting blazing all around him and says “Idol is giving back to the environment by using green energy…at the finale in four weeks.”

Green is quickly becoming the most over used color in the spectrum…Why can’t we go blue? The sky is blue, the ocean is blue, the endangered blue whale is blue…but no, I guess green life on this planet has some kind of hierarchal priority over us non-green life forms. This enamorment with the color green has given birth to a whole new form of racism that spans all species of life rather than being concentrated within the human race. Pretty soon we’ll start hearing phrases like “Green Power!” and before we know it, the plants will revolt and ‘Attack of the Killer Tomatoes’ will finally become a reality.

In the spirit of Eco-friendliness, and to celebrate this past Earth Day while trying to prevent the Tomato uprising by not making them mad…I have developed a list of some things you can do to in order to be good ‘Stewards’ of this planet we all call home.

01. Save a tree, build miles and miles of unnecessary roadway in order to go around them.
02. Only buy green ketchup.
03. Paint your Hummer a green color.
04. Purchase the entire Captain Planet series on DVD and rather than driving your car to the store and causing more pollution, buy it online and have it shipped to your home in a large capacity UPS truck.
05. When drawing graffiti on public property, always use green aerosol spray paint.
06. Never cut your grass or pull weeds.
07. Build more wood-framed green houses.
08. Only ever eat green eggs and ham.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Book Review: Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

Green Eggs and Ham is a much-loved children’s book written by Theodor Seuss Geisel in 1960, the book is so loved in fact that is was the 4th best selling children’s book of all time in 2001.

(Spoiler Warning)

Green Eggs and Ham begins by showing a young fellow bothering an older gentleman while he tries to read his paper. The bothersome chap’s name is Sam as he so eloquently indicates with a sign stating “I am Sam” that he holds while standing on the hindquarters of a galloping dog-like creature. We then realize that such ridiculous behavior is not so ridiculous and that Sam is obviously mentally challenged as he makes another pass with a sign stating “Sam I am.” It is likely that Sam possesses a rare form of Dyslexia wherein he confuses the order and orientation of words rather than that of individual letters, another explanation could be simple insanity. Hollywood has clearly picked up on Sam’s mental state and has made a live-action motion picture based on it. The film is titled ‘I am Sam’ wherein the main character shares similar mental limitations to those of Sam in ‘Green Eggs and Ham’.

As the older man (whom we will call ‘Phil’) becomes frustrated with his newly acquired irritation, he fumes about how he does not like “that Sam-I-am.” At that point Sam overhears Phil and quickly tries to quell the emotion by changing the subject and asking a completely random question, “Do you like green eggs and ham?” Sam now holds a platter with said edibles which I suppose he just carries with him at all times apparently to serve as a visual aide in case this situation should ever occur. Even more infuriated, Phil answers still mocking the backwards name thing, “I do not like them, Sam-I-am.”

Sam proceeds to ask Phil if he would like green eggs and ham in various locations with various different dinner guests, in a house, with a mouse, in a box, with a fox, etc. etc. etc. Eventually, Phil caves and agrees to eat the green eggs and ham but only if Sam will leave him alone. Upon tasting the food, Phil discovers that he likes green eggs and ham and he politely thanks Sam.

So what is the message of all this? What is this Green Eggs and Ham trying to teach our children? First of all, it teaches kids to put rotten green food in their mouths…who has ever eaten a green egg and lived to tell about it? Perhaps little Jimmy is walking through the chicken house and finds an old egg that was missed in the hay 2 months ago. He cracks it open…Oh look! it’s green! Jimmy then recalls having this book read to him and proceeds to eat the aforementioned egg. Yes, not cool.

The second message this book sends to kids is that it’s okay to give in to peer pressure. According to this book, when your friend is offering you something you’ve never tried before like illegal drugs, go ahead and try it. Because after all you might like it and your happiness and appeasing your (insane) friend is more important than your personal convictions, your physical health, or abiding by the law.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

April Fools

As you can see from the time stamp on this post, today is April 2nd. By all known methods of mathematical reasoning and social standards for our calender, one would conclude that the day which preceded this one was in fact April the 1st. Such a conclusion would be 100% accurate but at the same time would fall short of what is to be considered as “the whole truth.” April 1st is not only the last day of the Assyrian New Year celebration (as everyone knows), but is also a time for outlandish shenanigans and prankification known to the modern world as April Fools’ Day.

The purpose of April Fools’ is of course to make one’s self esteem maintain the illusion of superiority over our fellow man by pulling hilarious practical jokes on them and therefore making the victim appear foolish while the instigator is rewarded with the appearance of genius. In other words, April Fools’ Day grants everyone free rein to spread lies and deceit without any ramifications or consequences simply because “it’s April Fools.” With that being said, I pose the question; “What are the rules of April Fools’?” (That rhymed, unintentional).

Rule #1: Don’t kill anyone or indirectly cause the death of a live human being.

Rule #2: Don’t taint the area water supply with a microscopic metal-eating organism.

Rule #3: It’s okay to put a rubber band around the trigger of the retractable sprayer on the kitchen sink as long as it does not violate the first rule.

Rule #4: Hiding all your Dad’s tools in the tank of the toilet probably isn’t a good idea.

Rule #5: Switching the salt with sugar and the sugar with salt is old and overused, instead, switch both of them with granulated cauliflower, again as long as it does not violate rule #1.

Rule #6: Putting peanut butter under the door handle of someone’s car then video taping them while they go to open the door is an excellent way to win friends and influence people.

Rule #7: Don’t tell people you’ve been diagnosed with stomach cancer.

Follow these rules (which are really more like guidelines) and you are 110% guaranteed to have a fun and enjoyable April Fools’ Day or your money back.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Due Dates

My birthday is on March 29th and has been every year since I was born. What very few of you probably know is that my original due date was March 6th which according to my doctors meant that I was over 3 weeks late in jettisoning from my mother’s womb. Many people are of the persuasion that if a woman goes more than 3 days past her “due date” then she must be induced. The only explanation for this mode of thinking is that the baby must be born as soon as possible to prevent it from developing to its full mental and physical capabilities. “The man” is certainly behind it with a vast and intricate conspiracy to keep the next generation dumb and weak so they are easier to control. It never occurs to anyone that when a mother goes past her due date, it is actually quite possible and within the realm of natural plausibility that (pause for suspense)…the doctor got the due date wrong.

Heresy, I know…what was I thinking? Of course, the doctor never says “We need to induce labor now or it could get dangerous for both you and the baby…and if it doesn't get dangerous then it will prove that I’m a hack and don’t know how to predict due dates and all my credibility in the medical field will be lost and I won’t be able to eat lunch in the senior doctor’s lounge!”

So what if I had been born on March 6 like the conspirators had wanted? Well, March 6 is the 65th day of the year and the 66th day during leap years (what does that tell you?). Regardless of the leap year, there will always be exactly 300 days left in the year on March 6. Dmitri Mendeleev presented the first periodic table on March 6. David Crockett died on March 6, so did Bill Travis and James Bowie along with a few other people in a fort somewhere in Texas…on the continued downside, Michelangelo, Lou Costello, and Shaquille O’Neal were all born on March 6. To top it all off, on March 6, 2008, a bomb went off in New York’s Times Square.

I’m not sure what the world would be like if I had been born on March 6, perhaps my appendix wouldn’t have gone bad at the age of 7…perhaps I wouldn’t have had asthma…the list of legitimate speculations is innumerable, one thing however is for certain; I was born on March 29th and through my very birth, I was sticking it to “the man.”

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Human Enlightenment

In the course of human events it often becomes necessary to enlighten those who are less “lightened” than ourselves. The lightenedest of scholars have spent an ambiguous number of decades attempting to discover the complex and irrefutable method for bestowing this “enlightenedness” upon the endarkened members of society. Massive volumes of books and journals have been published to explain these phenomenon and the best they have come up with so far is the analogy of a light bulb coming on inside a person’s head once they come to the realization that whatever they were thinking about, now makes sense.

What they fail to tell you is that the light bulb isn’t failsafe and often comes on at the worst possible time. Just for the sake of argument, imagine Billy, our unenlightened friend, is staring over the edge of a cliff into an enormous precipice. At the base of this precipice sits a huge pile of chainsaws and a pack of hungry snow tigers…while Billy is thinking about what it would be like to fall from such a height, the light bulb in his head suddenly switches on and his mind tells him that jumping into the air from his current position would be both a good idea, and actually quite fun. The light bulb continues to burn as Billy rationalizes…..”it’ll be like flying”…”scars are cool”…”chicks would dig me”… Meanwhile, the group of lemmings that have been watching the whole ordeal from a nearby cliff are persuaded by Billy’s nonverbal communication to do exactly what he is thinking. Case in point.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

For The Leaplings

This one goes out to all the poor babies who will be born this coming Friday…February 29. Which is by all known standards and belief systems considered the absolute worst day in the history of time to be born on. Having only three actual birthdays by the age of twelve is the kind of thing that will warp a kid to the point of unscrupulous derangement followed by a 24 hour period of magical normalcy that reoccurs once every four years.

It is a scientifically proven fact that infants born on Feb. 29 are 13.54% more likely to have additional limbs, misplaced clavicles, and be abducted by aliens. In very rare cases, “leaplings” develop super human powers such as radioactive fingernails and the ability to spontaneously generate piles of tin measuring cups out of thin air. Though these powers would prove very useful to the human race…and housewives, is it really worth the risk?

So for all you leaplings out there, I wish you a joyous and enchanted February 29…my hope and dream is that each and every one of you enjoy your birthday this Friday as if it wasn’t going to happen for another four years…because it isn’t.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Singles Awareness Day

As you all know, today is Singles Awareness Day…possibly the greatest occasion in the history of made up holidays (except perhaps, International Talk Like a Pirate Day). And it just so happens that S.A.D. falls on a Thursday this year and that in itself is cause for celebration – by the way, if you don’t like the acronym “SAD” you can just use “SA Day” which in essence really stands for Stewart Adams Day and is all part of my plan for world domination.

Growing up, SAD was always a source of laughter and giddiness for me…from the tons of spam emails advertising “Light a spark in your love life this Valentine’s Day!” – to Joey giving himself a gift and love note complete with lip imprint, just to throw everybody off. Don’t let these moments pass you by, come celebrate the magic of Singles Awareness Day. There are bound to be other people with which to mix and mingle who have the ‘single’ most important thing in common with you on this joyous holiday. Oh, and there will also be people who are weird and not single but celebrate SAD anyway…

No telling what kind of craziness we’ll get into…activities may or may not include:
01. Spin the bottle – and slap the person it points to.
02. 1 person Twister.
03. The game of solitary confinement.
04. Making red paper hearts, then cut them to pieces with scissors.
05. Solitaire.