Friday, March 30, 2007

As Promised...

Not the best picture in the world, but the best I could get.

(Hey, have YOU ever tried to take a picture of a kitten?)




New Kitty!

Yep, despite the fact I appear to have a certain…penchant, for aquiring pets that try to kill me, we’ve gone and done it again.

Unfortunately, Padme went missing and hasn’t been seen for a few months. (This isn’t as heartbreaking as you think, as at least five or six families in the area think they’re Padme’s owners). So chances are he’ll turn up in 6 months when he gets bored, or he’s found one of those crazy cat ladies who only buy gourmet cat food and have a filtered automatic water fountain instead of a cat bowl.

Anyway, long story short, someone Sunny works with has a cat that had an unexpected litter, so we took one of them off her hands. So we now have a new, 8 week old, pure-white longhair. I’ll post a picture tomorrow when it’s daylight and I can get a good picture.

On the upside, he’s one of those really sociable ‘dog-like’ cats who like to follow you around and actually play with you. In fact, while I was lying on the floor, he climbed onto my leg. As I tried to stand up, turning onto my front and pushing myself up, he decided to climb up to my shoulder “Shadow of the Colossus” style, and refused to get down…hanging on to my shoulder like a parrot, until he decided it would be much more interesting to spit at Buddy again.

Let’s just say it’s a good job that Buddy is used to cats.

Well, I now have a white long-haired cat, a high-backed leather desk chair that spins around…so all I need is a facial scar and sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads, and I’ll have the whole Bond Villain set.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Random Thought

I’ve written in the past about what I think of the sale of drugs on TV. (In a nutshell, your doctor diagnoses you and decides on a treatment, there’s no need for pharmaceutical companies to market to us directly).

Today, however, I felt myself getting sucked in.

It was one of those commercials for depression, and as they started reeling of the symptoms, I started mentally checking them off in my head. ‘Yep, I feel like that, that too, holy crap! And that!”

Luckily, common sense kicked in just before they started reeling off the side-effects.

Of course I’m a little depressed. I’m currently going through a paperwork marathon, and like I mentioned in my last post, I’m still about 2 or 3 years away from being at the point I was at before I left England. Like all couples, there’s a couple things between me and Sunny that I’m not thrilled about, all of my friends are over 3500 miles away, I’m approaching 4 years unemployed and I haven’t seen my family on over three years (except my parents who I saw last year).

So, as you can see, I’m not exactly on top of the world.

Now, before anyone thinks this is a ‘poor me, look how many problems I have’ post, it isn’t. Yeah, I’m a little down in the dumps, but I know things could be much, much worse.

But here’s the thing. I’m not going to go all ‘Tom Cruise’ on you and start calling psychiatry and anti-depressants a fraud…I wonder how many people are on anti-depressants who have absolutely no need to be.

For a split second, I thought I might benefit from taking one of those pills, but the point is, I feel the way I do because I have some problems that I need to sort out. The day I get a job, have a drivers licence and citizenship papers in my hand, I’ll be a very happy bunny.

Sometimes you feel depressed and down because there’s something in your life that needs changing. Taking a pill is treating the symptoms but not the disease.

In short, people should learn to deal with their own emotions, and not reach for a pill bottle just because they feel down.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Jon Stewart For President!

Doing a little web-surfing, I stumbled across this.

It’s a list of the top-10 most awkward TV interviews ever. Yep, Tom Cruise going nuts, Paula Abdul on smack…they’re all here. A great way to waste twenty minutes of your day.

But that’s not really why I’m writing this post. I’m writing this because this list has an awesome clip of Jon Stewart on ‘Crossfire’. If I could meet any person in the world, it’d definitely be him. (Well, actually no, it’d be Spider-man, so let’s say he’s the number one non-fictional person I’d like to meet.)

What I like most about Jon Stewart is he’s sharp as a razor and witty as hell. If I ever found myself in a position where I had to debate against him, I’d just throw in the towel right away…because you just know he’d absolutely destroy you.

Watch the clip. I love the way that he’s faced with two ‘professional’ political pundits who try to give him a hard time, and he just goes right ahead and blows them out of the water effortlessly. I could be given his opponents questions and remarks a week in advance, and I still wouldn’t be able to come up with answers as good as the one’s Stewart just pulls out of thin air.

Favorite quote from the clip:

“You’re giving me a hard time for not asking [John Kerry]hard hitting questions? My show is preceded by puppets making prank phonecalls. You’re on CNN.

Watch it, you won’t be disappointed.



[In other news I just realised that not only am I currently just one month away from 'Life, What The Hell Is Going On?'s second birthday, but that this is also my 500th post. Yay me!]

A Step In The Right Direction

Today was a good day. They finally decided I could have a bank account…and their easy ‘less than five minutes’ sign up process only took a week!

Nah, I gotta hand it to the good people at the bank. They had to find a way to get me approved without me having an American driver’s license, a permanent social security number or any state-issued ID. It took time, but they put all the work in.

Now, having a bank account might not seem like such a big deal, but it’s amazing how much I missed having one. Now we can pay our bills online, or just mail out checks instead of having to physically drive all over town to pay them. The ability to buy stuff online, not have to carry cash around…I love it.

I suppose this is also a big deal to me, because it’s another step forward in getting truly settled in the USA. It really is a case of me having another few years of filling out forms to get back to the point I was at before leaving the UK.

Still on the list : Getting a social security number, getting a drivers license and getting citizenship. It’s been one hell of a long road getting things sorted over the past 6+ years, and I’ve still got a ways to go…but at least now I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The best part? I can now be one of those really annoying people who buys a Pepsi and a Snickers bar with a check, and keeps everyone in line waiting…just for the sheer hell of it.

I also came within a gnats wing of getting the Snoopy checks…but that’s another story.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Late Night Hilarity


The other night, as usual, I sat at the computer playing around in Photoshop, listening to ‘Scrubs’ on the TV.

After it finished, it went into the usual parade of infomercials and commercials so bad that the makers of them can’t afford to have them on TV before 3am.

Then we came to my favorites. “Natural Male Enhancement”.

I love these ads for the following reasons:

1) They refuse to say “Penis”

Ok, it’s 3am, no kiddies are watching, and surely ‘penis’ is a technical biology term. I’m not expecting them to say “With just one capsule a day, you’ll end up with a monster COCK! I mean, I real fucking baby-seal clubber! You’ll be pole vaulting to work, knocking shit over with it all day, and truly you’ll be a legend. The ladies won’t just be impressed, they’ll be fucking terrified of the monster in your pants.”

But say penis? Why not? The guy’s meant to be a Doctor. He has a white coat and everything!

Instead they don’t refer to a penis at all (but Enzyte has those sublimely subtle ‘wood’ references)…they just say “male enhancement’ or, and I shit you not here, ‘that particular part of the male anatomy’. Usually with a knowing grin or a smirk.

Seriously, I’m supposed to trust this Doctor, who wants me to take a pill that will do things to my twig ‘n’ berries, but he can’t say ‘penis’ out of embarrassment, and blushes when he says “that certain part of the male anatomy”. You’re a Doctor! Not a 5 year old who finds the term penis hilarious.

Look, dude, if you’ve devoted your life to improving ‘America’s Sexual Health’, and can’t bring your self to say “penis” “wedding tackle” or “pee-pee”, you’ve chosen the wrong profession.

“This pill will make your penis bigger.” How hard is that to say?

On the other hand, maybe guys are just more comfortable buying a “Natural Male Enhancement” product (which could literally mean anything), instead of a “Small Pee-Pee Pill”.

2) They’re so unrealistic.

Enzyte Bob’s perma-grin and powerful golf-swing aside, the people who make these advertisements have obviously never been in a relationship. In one ad, the guy’s wife buys the ‘Natural Male Enhancement’ product and hands it to him at breakfast. The guy is ecstatic about this and just smiles away while he reads the brochure about everything this miracle pill can do.

“Wow, honey! Thanks! This will make everything better for both of us!”

Yeah, because that’s realistic. That’s really the way a guy reacts when his Missus basically says “Here, take these. Your dick is way too small, and so small in fact, that I’ve bought you medication out of desperation to try and fix it.”

Buy your husband a pill to make his cock bigger? Why don’t you just castrate him there and then, dress him in a frilly pink tutu, and make him dance around dusting the house with a peacock-feather duster while watching Oprah…and tape it so all his friends can have a good laugh?

She hands him the pills and he gets excited and smiles. He doesn’t smack her about the head, sulk for days and retort with something like “I’m not small, you’re just so loose it’s like chucking a sausage up an alleyway!”…now that would be much more realistic.

It’s about as realistic as a guy handing his wife a gym membership, and boob-job gift card, a plastic surgery brochure and telling her that, no, those pants don’t make her butt look big, her gigantic ass does…and her smiling and saying “Thank you!”

3) The Small Print.

Gotta love small print. ‘Dramatic enactment, your results will vary, this pill has not been evaluated by the FDA”

In other words: “We’re just making this shit up. What you’re getting is a capsule filled with chalk dust and some shit we found on the floor. It doesn’t have a petulant cat at a dog show’s chance of working, but we know you’ll buy it anyway because you’re so insecure. Ha ha! You’ve got a tiny Peeeeeeee-nis!”

4) The overwhelming sense of despair and low-self esteem you get from the actors.

Think about this for a second. These guys are going on TV and basically telling the world they have a tiny penis and can’t satisfy their significant other without medical help. Think about poor Bob. He has to go to the grocery store every day and have people say “Hey look, it’s that perma-grin guy! Oi! Smiley! Your dick gotten any bigger yet? Whip it out and show us!”

Even if Bob sweeps the board at the Olympics, invents a water-powered car that will do 0-60mph in under four seconds and cures cancer…he’ll always be “Enzyte Bob, the weird smiley guy with the small penis”.

5) Lies, lies and more lies.

Listen, we know these pills don’t work, because if you could take a pill and get a bigger “certain part of the male anatomy”, Enzyte and Extenze would be as popular as Viagra and be making millions. It wouldn’t be advertised on a backwater channel at 3am.

We also know that the guy talking to us is not a real Doctor. Anyone can buy a white coat and sling a stethoscope around their necks. I’m Paulius MD! Buy my special natural male enhancement product and you’re guaranteed to grow 18 inches in the Joy Department overnight! See, not hard. (no Pun intended).

The real truth is you can sell anything on TV, and you can make all the outrageous claims you like. As long as you put ‘dramatic enactment’ in the small print, you’re good to go. That’s why people think you can lose 100lbs in a week without dieting or exercising, think flashing an LED light at your arm will cure carpal tunnel syndrome…and that taking a pill will turn your pecker into a legend.

Completely off topic here, but the other thing that drives me nuts is the infomercial products that compare themselves to another product to show how cheap they are. Like that fucking voice recorder that you can get two of for ‘$15 plus shipping and handling’, and they say “Other voice recorders can cost upwards of $100! Look what a great deal you’re getting!”…Yes, that’s because the hundred dollar model has 50 hours recording time, USB support, a filing system and great voice quality…and isn’t a 10 year old sound chip taken from a singing birthday card, put into 3 cents worth of vacuum-formed plastic by a 5 year old working for 6 cents a week in a sweatshop.

Buy this wheelbarrow with a lawnmower engine duct-taped to it for just $100! Other cars can cost upwards of $150,000!

…and just because Estaban’s guitar looks like the $800 guitar doesn’t mean it’s nearly as well made or as high quality.

I think you can all join me in saying: ‘Infomercial makers…you’re all douche bags.”

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Random

Bit of writer’s block this week, so nothing particularly whole-post worthy…but here’s a few random things:

1) Rosie O’Donell

Yep, Rosie’s joined the 9/11 conspiracy crowd. Of course, she fails to see the irony. The US government somehow manages to plant explosives in the World Trade Center without leaving any evidence…but somehow fails to off an annoying talk show host who blabs about it on TV.

Yep, the government is capable of murder on a massive scale, but unable to silence the conspiracy theorists.

Of course, this is from the woman who said “I don’t know anything about Afghanistan, but I know it’s full of terrorists…speaking as a mother.”

In this context, I assume “Speaking as a mother” means “talking out of my ass” or “suspending rational thought for a moment”.

I think the Brit comedian Bill Bailey put it best:

“The Al-Queda terrorists are a loose association of extremist zealots who can be rounded up with a sustained police action…but speaking as a mother, they’re all 9 feet tall, have lasers under their mustaches, and the only way to deal with them is to nuke every country that hasn’t sent us a Christmas card in the past 10 years!”

2) Technological goodness.

I discovered today, purely by accident, that my digital camera is sensitive to infra-red light, meaning if you look through the viewfinder and press a button on the TV remote, you can actually see the infra-red beam.

I’m currently finding as many remotes as possible to make myself an infra-red nightvision camera…just because I can.

Friday, March 16, 2007

She's cursed

In my last post I pointed out how a relatively simple job turned into a major ordeal.

Turns out it’s Sunny, she’s cursed, that’s all there is to it.

Like this morning, she asks me to print a couple pictures from the digital camera for her. This is something I’ve done a hundred times with absolutely no problems.

Soon as I need to print out a pic for her? Paper jams, I get the top 1/8th of the picture covering the entire sheet of photo paper, despite the fact I removed ALL color data from the pic in photoshop, it won’t print in black and white.

Everything she asks me to do fights me all the fricking way.

Next time I agree to do something for her, shoot me.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Couches, Confections and Conundrums

Today I learned a couple of valuable lessons.

Lesson #1 : Women are downright filthy liars.

My beautiful wife informed me a few days ago that her son was getting a new couch and said we could have his old one. Good, right?

Well, she originally told me to wait up for her to get in from work, then we’d load up our old couch, take it to the dump, swing by her son’s house on the way home and pick up the new one. Bob’s your Uncle, Fanny’s your Aunt.

What she hadn’t told me was that she was also getting rid of the futon and the love-seat and that we’d be stopping by Lowes on the way to pick up 6 bales of hay for her son (which apparently you need for growing grass on newly landscaped land).

So we set off, and Sunny’s Mom, who we had borrowed the Loveseat and futon from decided she didn’t want them back. This meant we drove around to three different Goodwill stores trying to give them away.

They didn’t want them. Apparently, they can’t take the futon because it’s been used as a bed, and because the loveseat’s fabric had been picked a little, they didn’t want that either.

No love for the love seat. How ironic.

Oh, I totally forgot to mention. Our couch? Because of Sunny’s furniture rearranging, we couldn’t maneuver it out of the front door, and it was too big to fit through our back door. That’s why I went through 6 cutting disks on my Dremel, slicing through the frame to get it into three separate pieces we could fit through the door.

Nothing like sparks flying everywhere and the melodious sound of heavy-duty steel screaming to set you up for the day.

Anyhoo…

So we get to the dump to offload the loveseat and couch (Sunny’s other son took the futon off our hands).

You know taxi-driver tourettes? Where you always have to ask the cab driver if he’s been busy and ask him what time he’s working until? I have the same problem at the dump. You see, our dump is manned by convicts. Nothing major, you don’t have a murderer helping you offload your trash…it’s usually guys who’ve found themselves in the stockade for non-payment of child support or bad checks.

No matter how hard I try, I can’t help but say “Hey, how’s it going?” to the guy in the orange jump-suit helping me toss my trash in the compactor. They always say “Fine.” Or “Not bad.”…but they always look at me with eyes that say:

“Look, I’m locked up, and I spend my days either in the freezing cold or baking heat, handling other people’s garbage. How do you think I’m doing? I’m just peachy, thanks. I’d in no way rather be at home with my feet up watching TV. Has that bag with the rancid ground beef and the coffee-ground covered banana peels split open? Joy of joys!!”

The saddest thing is I know that the very next time we take the trash off I’ll ask the guy the same thing.

The next notable thing that happened was buying the hay at Lowes. You see, you pay, drive your truck over to the big semi trailers, and then a sales assistant will open it up and load it for you.

So Sunny and I are sitting on the tailgate of the truck, when a guy with a Lowes shirt walks up.

Let me describe this guy:

He was at least 70, and had that ‘fun grandpa’ look about him. He also apparently couldn’t bend his left knee, and it took him over 5 minutes to cover the 50 yards to the truck. When he arrived, he was a little out of breath, but hey, at 70 a walk like that will do that to you, especially with a bad knee.

So I’m expecting him to tell us he’s sorry about the wait and someone will be out shortly, or to tell us there was a mistake ringing up our order.

Instead, I watch in horror as he takes our receipt, opens up a trailer and struggles with a step ladder. Slowly (oh so painfully slowly) he climbs the five steps to the top, in a very shaky ‘left foot up, move right foot to same step, rest. Left foot up…’ pattern. Then I watched as he tried to maneuver himself off the stepladder, around the closed trailer door, and into the open one.

The only thing I could think is: ‘Shit, if that guy falls, which there’s about a 70% chance of that happening, this dude’s dead…or he’s at least gonna be in need of two new hips. His bones must be like raw spaghetti!’

Honestly, I’d have told him to sit his ass down and I’d have got the bales myself, but it was one of those situations that you watch, unable to move, simply because your brain can’t process the fact it’s actually happening.

In a store packed to the gills with 16 – 30 year old staff, they send the dude with the bum knee (that could probably be a war wound from World War One) to climb a rickety step ladder and offload 6 huge bales of hay.

We left before the guy got out of the trailer, and I honestly feel a little guilty for not staying to make sure he got down okay.

Lowes, I’m all for employing the elderly, but they should be sitting at the front door greeting people or behind the check-out counters. It’s probably not a good idea to have the 70 year old with a bad leg climbing stepladders and manhandling bales of hay that way about 50lbs each.

So after all this running around, we get home and spend half an hour trying to get the couch, new foot-rest and armchair into the house. (Oh, that’s the other thing…Sunny said “couch” not “entire fucking living room set that is not only incredibly heavy, but also awkward as hell to move, with no points to actually hold the damn thing when you’re balancing with one foot on the back of the truck and the other in the doorway, praying to God you don’t slip and break your fucking neck, shortly before a 100lb couch lands on your balls.”)

I also forgot to mention that I got absolutely no sleep the night before and weas doing all this after being awake for over 25 hours.

So, you’re probably asking yourself why my ass isn’t in bed getting some sleep, and is instead sitting in front of the computer, relaying this tale of misadventure and calamity.

Well, the truth is, we got into bed, and for some reason started talking about candy. So I started talking about all the things I can’t get in the USA that I loved in the UK. Then, for the life of me, I couldn’t remember the name of one of my favorites and it drove me so crazy trying to remember, that I decided to come back into the living room and look it up on the interweb.

For those who are interested, the item in question is “Rowntree’s Fruit Pastilles”

In your face bad memory! The internet spanks you like a disobedient non-synapse firing whore!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Yes, Son...That's What Videogames Where Like When I Was Your Age...

Stumbled upon this pic on the net, and had a nostalgia explosion:



Yep, that's the actual box art for Pro Wrestling on the Sega Master System. I actually owned this game.

No cover art by a famous talented artist, no commercial WWE Wresting Tie-in, no licensed "eyebrow raised" picture of 'The Rock', no Xbox Live additional content, no $60 price tag.

Sniff...I miss the good old days.

Oh wait. That game was shit, and the box art looks like a 2 year old drew it. Way to go Sega, no wonder you've all but crapped out of the video game business.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Spring Forward, Fall Back

Ozzy raised an interesting point on our other blog Geekology.

Ozzy’s article was about patching operating systems because Daylight Savings Time was ‘arriving’ early this year, but my views on DST aren’t as tech-based, so I decided to publish my thoughts here.

I suppose my viewpoint is “DST, why bother?”

The reasoning behind DST was sort of valid when it was first implemented. It was first suggested in 1784 by Benjamin Franklin as a way to utilize morning daylight and save money by using less candles at night. In England it was eventually implemented in 1916, and in America 1918.

However, how does this apply in todays world?

The truth is, DST was implemented in a world where daylight was absolutely necessary for us to function. We got up at sunrise and went to bed when the sun went down. We had no choice, we couldn’t work in the dark.

But, when you think about it, what difference does DST make in a 24 hour society? With electric lights, 24 hour business etc, does it matter if it’s dark outside? When you work in an office, in winter you tend to arrive and leave when it’s dark anyway.

The only real reason for DST anymore is for outside jobs that require daylight. The farmers and so on. But this brings me to the strangest and downright dumbest part of DST.

Which is more inconvenient for the population at large? Force everyone to adjust their schedule and sleep pattern by an hour twice a year, including people who have absolutely no need to? Or the farmers just getting out of bed an hour earlier in the winter?

“Hey guys, it gets darker earlier in the winter, so we’re going to be getting started at 5am rather than 6. Don’t worry about overtime or anything, because we’ll be knocking off an hour earlier as well.”

I say scrap DST. It’s useless and inconvenient.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Abstinence

This is going to be a bit of an odd post. I’m writing it because I’ve just seen a documentary on the trend of teaching sexual abstinence in schools, and I want to throw in my two cents.

First of all, I’ll just come right out and say I’m a huge proponent of sex education in schools, and within reason, the younger you start teaching kids the better. Sexual education should be taught as soon as children start going through puberty.

Why? I could knock out the old clich├ęs, “Knowledge is power” and “forewarned is fore-armed”, but I have another, very simply reason.

I remember leaving primary school knowing absolutely nothing about sex. Don’t get me wrong, my parents were very open, and I’m sure if I’d asked, they’d have told me what I wanted to know…but the problem was, I already thought I knew everything.

I’d thought I’d heard everything I needed to know in the schoolyard, but all I actually “knew” was a guy put his penis in a vagina, and 9 months later a baby popped out. I also “knew” about AIDS, only I had no clue what that meant, other than it was a bad thing. I was also under the impression that two uninfected people could have sex, and both get AIDS.

That’s right, I thought sex caused AIDS, not that sex is how AIDS is transmitted.

The truth is kids need to know everything they can about sex. They need to know about the risks, how to avoid them, what can go wrong and why things can go wrong.

I was shocked by this documentary that over a billion dollars a year is spent teaching kids abstinence. Not a billion dollars on sex education. A billion dollars on telling kids not to have sex until they’re married. Nothing about the pill, nothing about condoms (well, the only thing they teach about condoms is that they’re not 100% effective).

So basically, we’re sidestepping the whole issue. We’re teaching them that sex is wrong, dirty and forbidden.

So, the question I have to ask here is: “Do these people have any idea what happens when you tell a teenager not to do something?”

No one likes to think about their kids having sex. However, you need to give kids all the information they’ll need later, early on. Why? So they’re used to discussing it, know they can ask their parents for advice, and not end up in the back seat of a car when they’re 16, having unprotected sex because they don’t know about STD’s… and the guy they’re with told them it’s impossible to get pregnant the first time.

Basically, kids might not listen to their parents, but the people they’ll always listen to is their friends.

So a kid goes to school, is taught that abstinence is the only way, is taught nothing about birth control, protection against STD’s etc, and leaves school believing that sex is dirty, dangerous, and no one in their right mind would do it.

Then they get to college, and one of their friends starts telling them how great sex is, how much fun it is, and how they’ve had sex tons of times and how nothing bad has ever happened to them! So they try it, find it’s not the totally unpleasant experience they’ve been taught, and do it a lot. All the time knowing nothing about Herpes, Chlamydia, HIV etc.

You may have taught your child well, but just in case they do give in to peer pressure or temptation, wouldn’t you feel better knowing that if they do have sex, they’d doing it responsibly and safely? Isn’t that better than them only knowing the schoolyard version of sex education? IE, you can’t get pregnant the first time, only gay people get HIV, you don’t need protection if you pull out in time…all those old chestnuts that are sure to lead them down a bad road.

Now don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with teaching abstinence in school and I believe that abstinence should be taught…but it should be taught along side all the other aspects kids need to know.

The unfortunate truth is, you can preach abstinence all you like, but plenty of teenagers are going to go out and have sex anyway. All sex education is doing is teaching kids to protect themselves.