I love this festive time of year, from Thanksgiving through New Years. It's the one set of holidays that celebrates what Americans do best: Eat.

Also, it's the time of year when I reap the benefits of having never put away the Christmas decorations last year. Around July I may have looked the fool, but I'm sittin' pretty this month while my neighbors have toiled away their weekends stringing lights around their gutters and staking Santas to their roofs.

Honestly, I don't get the whole concept around decorating the house. Why add another weekend chore whose one guaranteed result is to add the reverse chore to your list in another month? That's like handing markers to a three year old standing in front of a clean, white wall; you're just inviting more work.

Far better to just skip the decorations the first time around. Sure. you may have the only dark house on the street, depressing and lonely looking when you come home in the evenings. Sure, you'll have to say "No" to the kids when they beg you to liven up the black hole of holiday despair. But that's just good practice for when they ask for a new game console or textbooks for school.

Of course, you may be worried about your standing in the neighborhood.

There are easy ways to avoid the social stigma associated with having the creepy house on the block. Tell your neighbors that you've converted to some religion that doesn't celebrate any holidays. Or tell people that you're allergic to lights and fake icicles. Or if you really want the subject closed, tell them your spouse died and you're in mourning. (This last one may require a bit of effort to make sure that your spouse stays hidden. Forever. But the firm way that it shuts down the nagging will be worth it).

You can also tell people that you're concered about global warming and that you're saving the planet one LED bulb at a time. Then get back to watching the game on your big screen plasma display, which you'll have plenty of time for since you didn't have to waste your weekends decorating the house.


Yule Chuckle

When down our chimney
Come Santa’s claws
It’s snow holiday at
The house of Haase.

He arrives in the room
With a reindeer antler
And goes after our stockings;
He’s a hearth dismantler.

He takes our kids’ gifts
And has presents of mine
All stuffed in his bag,
When I start to whine,

“Why are you stealing?
Is this some kind of trick?”
He says, “Why do you think
They call me Saint Nick?”

Then the dog takes after
The man in the suit.
The fat guy sees him
And lets out a hoot.

They chase ‘round the room
Santa’s running with fright
Then I trip, hit my head,
And I’m out like a light.

When I wake up later
From an eggnog haze
I realize it’s just been
One of those days.

The mess in the room
Is not one of theft,
But instead is the chaos
From unwrapping bereft

Of sanity, caused by
Delight and great fun
Of the children finding gifts
By the gross and the ton.

Still I wonder, as I gaze
Around at the sight
Why an antler was left
By the hearth in the night.


Presents and Accounted For

I spent some time this week helping out at the Family Giving Tree, an organization that collects presents for various charity organizations so that the kids can enjoy the holidays. The helpers there are called "elves."

It's a pretty cool mission and all, but I figured that it was a good idea for me to lend a hand mostly because, as they say, "God helps those who helps thems elves."


Plain Fright

I rode on an airplane recently. It would have gone fine if I hadn't had the feeling like we were going to die the entire time.

I love when the plane you're riding in hits some turbulence. Flight attendants are falling in the aisles and spilling drinks like they're at the tail end of an all-night bender, roller bags are dropping from overhead compartments like redwoods in a clearcut, and the whole plane is shaking like a belly dancer with palsy.

Then the pilot comes on the speaker, “We seem to have hit a little turbulence here.”


“I'm going to turn on the 'fasten seat belts' sign” [bling!]


The pilot continues muttering in a relaxed tone, as if he were ordering another scotch. Which might help explain the bumpy ride. “We're going to continue to see a bit of chop here.”


“So we're just going to keep that seatbelt sign on until it smoothes out.”


“Meanwhile, those passengers on the right side of the airplane can see the Great Salt Lake.”


“So sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight.”


I tried to keep my cool, kept telling myself that this is normal for airplane flight, and that the pilot's calm tone was just meant to convince me that everything would be okay. I sure wish I hadn't heard his final message:

“Flight attendants: please bring the drinks trolley into the cockpit. The one with the scotch bottles. I'm going to need the whole cart.”


Coupling Couplet

He was mean to her; angry
And fill with spite.
But she fell for him fully;
It was love at first slight.


Poetic Justice: A Period Piece

The writer was accused of a
Capital offense
When a lower case letter
Started one sentence.

"Words, words, words!,"
He was heard to exclaim
And upon a period
He fixed all blame.

"I had no idea
That sentence had ended;
I thought, instead,
It was merely extended.

A colon with one dot
Instead of with two
Is half of the usual;
You admit this is true?

Well half of a whole
Is partial credit,
So I left it as-is
In my final edit.

I let the sentence
Just roll on
Because I thought the period
was a semi-colon.

But Your Honor," he offered,
By way of a carat,
"I heard a joke and
I'd like to share it.

You know how it is
When you're running late?
It was 'dine and dash'
When the hyphen ate.

Or did you hear
Of the man named Parks
Who disputed Communism
And questioned Marx?

Or the animator who sold
Her office joint?
She no longer saw
The ex-claymation point.

Or do you know why
The beach makes us so tanned?
It's all the electricity
From the amperes-sand!"

But the judge, it seems,
Was not amused.
When asked for mercy
He simply refused.

Instead, he proclaimed
A painful pennance,
A terrible time,
A serious sentence.

"It concerns punctuation
Of a different sort,"
And he would not let
The man retort.

"Words do not fail me
As they failed you
And I will now do
What I do for your due.

Since you seem ignorant
Of your plight
And do not know
Your Wrong from write

You shall stay locked up
In a concrete slammer
An extended period
For using bad grammar.

The man was heard shouting
As he went to his fate.
"I'll fight this decision
With a punch - you wait!"


Doctored Jokes

Orthopedics are totally hip.

An ENT doctor nose her stuff.

How can an internal medicine doctor stomach it?

Do you think brain surgeon's mind?

Proctologists are quite anal.

Anaesthesiologists are a gas.

When a child is healed, is it called a pedicure?


Crisis Mode: The Standup Version

Here's a standup bit that I did in October. I posted some of the material for it in this entry a few weeks back.


Little Joke for Friday

Did you hear about the woman who killed her husband with an emery board?
She claimed that she was just filing for divorce.


George's Summer Vacation Plans

I tried my hand at screenwriting recently, for an episode of a friend's animated series on YouTube. Check out the results in below, where George discusses his summer vacation plans.


Happy Thoughts for a Holiday Weekend

If you love someone, let them go.
If they love you, they won't sue if they survive the fall to the pavement.

There are no bad questions – only dumb ones.


Owed to Peet's

Alfred Peet, founder of Peet's Coffee & Tea, passed away recently. Being a Peet's coffee convert (read: addict), and appreciating everything that he did for coffee lovers everywhere, I figured I owed him this ode.

Owed to Peet's

Peet's coffee fills the cracks inside
The corners of my brain
Helping me to think a bit
Or at least it helps explain

The jitters of my hands and toes
And various nervous tics
The rushing heartbeat thumping thumping
A powerful energy mix.

I love my cup of Peet's each morning
And then one later on.
If lucky, I can grab another
After lunch is done.

And then one in the afternoon
Another before my supper.
I'll also have one with the meal,
And with dessert a cup or

Two and then one in the evening
and two more before I sleep
Except I'm never tired these days
So I get and up steep

Another pot of strong, strong coffee
Nice and hot and black.
It's a hard drug, but it's legal -
A lawful citizen's crack

Or dope except it keeps me wired
Cranking all day long.
"Just another cup," I say
But then I find I'm wrong

Because one small cup turns into two
And two then into four
And then I've drunk the whole carafe
And still I want some more.

If only there were other ways
I'd use in future years
Of getting more into my system
Like beans in both my ears

Or coffee lotion rubbed all over
Or grounds under my eyelids
Candy made from espresso
(Just keep it away from my kids).

A coffee shaker at the table
Instead of boring salt.
A sandwich spread called "coffee butter"
A coffee shake and malt.

Good coffee is addictive,
One taste and I was sunk.
Now that I've had brew from Peet's
I can no longer drink the junk.


Happy Thoughts for Friday

A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. That's a long way, so don't take that first step.

A leopard can't change his spots. But dye works amazingly well.

When Albert Einstein died, was it a stroke of genius?


When I am King: Thanks Giving

When I am King...

Every employee will be thanked for everything they do, always, automatically.

Anyone who has worked for a company with more than, say, one employee is familiar with the thanks-giving ritual that follows some event in the corporation. An individual or a team does something, like shipping a bugfix to an incremental update based on a major update to some product version, and their manager sends an email thanking them:

To: someteam
From: boss1
CC: boss2
Subject: Good work!

Great job, team! Well done, shipping that thing you shipped in such a timely and responsible manner! If we didn't have such awesome hard working drones, we would never be able to ship such important things as the thing you've shipped today. I can't thank you enough, but I'll sure try! ;)

Thanks again,
Your Boss

This email starts an e-avalanche. The boss's boss, boss2, was CC'd and she figure's it's her job to thank them as well, on behalf of the larger organization:

To: boss1
From: boss2
CC: someteam, someexecutive, bigorganization
Subject: Re: Good work!

Fantastic work shipping that thing! Way to go! Sure is great to have your team on my team!

Then the executive, not wanting to appear aloof and too executive-like jumps into the fray:

To: boss2
From: someexecutive
CC: boss1, someteam, biggerorganization
Subject: Re: Good work!

Awesome! Fantastic! Neato!

At this point, entropy kicks in and random people in the organization that happened to be shelled by the wide coverage will wake up and figure that they should add their voices to the rabble. After all, there's upper management and executives on the email thread, so it must add good career points to join in:

To: someexecutive
From: joeshmoe
CC: someteam, bigorganization, boss1, boss2
Subject: Re: Good work!

Hey, good job guys! I guess I'll have to buy the donuts this week! :D

Now it's a free-for-all, with people chiming in from up and down the ladder and out on the lawn. Meanwhile, nobody really understands what the team did. They just know that they have to thank them for it, both from a desire to not appear rude and a fervent wish for advancing up the company ranks. Random phrases of congratulations rocket around the organization:



Huge kudos!

You guys rock!


Then the end-game is finally reached, where people in unrelated organization have been copied who don't know the product, the team, the management chain, or the executive, and they start sending out their own barrage of return fire:

To: everyone
From: disgruntledemployee
Subject: Re: Fwd: Re: Fwd: Re: Good work!

Please remove me from this alias.

This salvo starts a new phase for the discussion that then results in an explosion of new emails, with such winning phrases as:

Remove me, too!

And me!

Everyone: stop sending emails out to the entire organization!

No, you stop sending!

Shut up, everybody!

No, you shut up!

No, you shut up!

Soon, everyone in the organization has their inbox filled with replies to replies to replies on this thread until finally the weekend hits and a ceasefire is declared. In some lucky instances, everyone forgets about it over the weekend and the insanity ends for now. But in some cases, the emails continue until inboxes max out, servers crash, people quit, and the company goes under.

When I am King, I will ensure that this situation will no longer occur. The waste of time writing these emails, the uncertainty of whether to join in the conversation or not, and the hurt feelings of those teams that sometimes don't get thanked at all is counter-productive and harmful to society overall. I will institute a new policy of thanks-giving where every company will install a system, currently marketed under the name Thank Goodness!, that sends a single email to every employee at the end of every day, thanking them appropriately:

To: employee
From: Automated Thanking System 221-B
Subject: Thank you.

Thank you for your excellent work today, Mr/Ms Awesome Person. Kudos, etc. Fine job. Your manager has been instructed to feel thankful toward you.

Smiley follows:

Automated Thanking System 221-B

Note: This email does not in any way imply continued employment by the company. Your job may be terminated at any time for any reason.

Thank you for reading this. Excellent job, dude. No really, thanks. I appreciate it. And so does the company.


When I am King: Party Pooper

When I am King...

Birthdays celebrations will be far less frequent.

Aren't you sick of birthdays? I don't mean your own, I mean kids' birthdays. In particular, I mean other parents' kids' birthdays.

Kids' birthdays in my own house are bad enough. Once a year, we have to figure out what to do, whom to invite, what to get, and then we gear ourselves up for another onslaught. But that's just our own personal torture.

But there's a larger problem in society where every one of the kids' friends are going through this same thing every year, resulting in a vast multitude of birthday celebrations. In any given year, there are about 10-20 kids from school that might potentially invite your kid. Then there are the kids they know from other activities, so add another 5-10. Then there are the family friends kids, say another 5-10. Then there are the cousins, another 5-10. This conservative estimate adds up to something like 497 kids that are going to invite your kid to a party in the next year.

You find yourself double-booked on any given Saturday, trying to figure out how to drop Janey off at Bob's Bouncy Bubbles at the same time that you're picking up Jimmy from Big Scary Rat's Arcade Hell. And before you get to the parties, you'd better have bought and wrapped some presents (wrapping is a truly thankless task, since the kids wouldn't notice whether it was gift wrap or bloodied butcher paper, as long as they get to rip it to pieces in getting to the loot).

Meanwhile, as we adults get older our birthdays come like water torture, gently and regular at first, but then striking faster and faster until it feels like a steady stream drilling directly through our decaying skull.

Why do we have to do this every year? Nobody actually cares that Janey turned seven except for Janey and any hapless six year olds that she'll start bossing around. Just like nobody cares that I turned 42 except for my optometrist and his accountant.

When I am king, annual birthdays will be banned and we will instead celebrate birthdays once every five years. With such large delays in birthday celebrations, maybe we can bring ourselves to actually care when someone has one.

There will be an exception for children reaching the age of 18, which is worthy of celebration because it is an age at which their parents get to either charge rent or kick them out.

Of course, there is a physical reality here that we cannot deny – these five-year birthdays will recognize that we are, in fact, five years older than we were last time. It would be better, especially for the aging geezers, if we could somehow slow this down. For that reason, we are under discussion with the Solar System Council (a subsidiary of Haliburton, Inc.) to inquire about altering the Earth's rotation around the Sun. Our year is based on a single revolution of the Earth around the Sun, so slowing this down to happen at one-fifth of its current speed means that we would then actually age only one year for this increased amount of time. If this works, we can return to a model of annual birthdays, knowing that each year provided more days in which to fit all the damn parties.


Happy Thoughts: 11/03/07

Never look a gift horse in the mouth.
Give it a full physical instead.

Measure twice, cut once.
Because you can only cut that finger off once.

Hard times need strong leaders.
I'll have a liter of scotch.


When I am King: Neighborhoodwinked

When I am King...

Housing developments will have more accurate names.

There's a small townhouse development in my town called Hidden Oak. I walked around the whole development once (it took 20 seconds). There not only wasn't an oak tree – there wasn't even a spot of earth from which a tree could grow. It was all parking lot and townhouses crowding in upon each other like kids under a busted pinata.

I suppose the name of the place wasn't actually wrong – if there was an oak there, it really was hidden. But what does that have to do with the name of the place? Just because something doesn't exist doesn't mean that we have to name a housing development after it. We might as well call it “Jimmy Hoffa,” or “The Honest Politician,” or “Paris Hilton's Brain.”

Let's examine some samples of current housing development names, just to hammer the point home. Now remember; these are new developments, the ones where there's a bunch of barren clay covered mostly with slab foundations, sidewalk, and tarmac. If they're really fancy developments, maybe there are some starter trees planted and some new sod rolled out. But there is never anything remotely like real natural surroundings. So here they are, real samples of new housing development names:
  • The Anchorage at Marina Bay
  • Cortina at Live Oak Ranch
  • Woodbridge
  • The Heights at Grain Crest
  • Garden Walk
  • Ivy at Montage
  • Crossings at Eden Shores
  • Bella Vista Gardens
  • Seacliff at Point Richmond
  • Oak Court
  • Teal Cove at Cypress Grove
  • Ponderosa Estates at Ironwood

The last of these is particularly good. I guess it's supposed to conjure up images of western ranches, maybe a few hundred head of cattle, and limitless horizons. But I've seen this development and I know for a fact that it's a compressed neighborhood directly across the street from the local dump.

After looking at these names for a while, I realized that most of them use a simple formula. I could even write a program to create these names, and maybe that's what the developers use. Here's the way it works:

  1. You take the name of a tree, like Oak
  2. You then add the name of some kind of land feature, like Shores
  3. Put them together, and you've got a housing development: Oak Shores

Let's try some examples:

  • Redwood Cliffs
  • Elm Grove
  • Acorn Plateau
  • Maple Glen

Wouldn't these make lovely housing development names? Wouldn't you like to live in places with names like these?

There's another formula that's used when developers want to make their property sound fancier to justify pumping up the house prices a couple of hundred grand. This formula produces names that are more formal-sounding, unlike the patently casual and down-market names above. Here it is:

  1. Start with The
  2. Add the name of a tree OR a land feature, but, and here's the important bit, pluralize it, like Oaks or Shores
  3. Add a crucial preposition, like at
  4. Add the name of a place, either real or imagined, like Summerville
  5. Put them all together, and you've got an exclusive housing development, like The Shores at Summerville

Let's try some names of our own with this formula, to see if we could be rich land developers:

  • The Beaches at Larchmont
  • The Hilltops of Sinvale
  • The Forests of Gwymn (note the unpronounceable ending word here; this ensures that the unwashed masses will be unable to even find the gated community, much less try to break in)
  • The Birches at Fresno
  • The Palms of Duluth

Things have clearly gone too far. It's high time that we had a bit of truth in advertising. Why can't we have housing development names that actually reflect something of the surrounding community? Don't developers think that people are smart enough to figure out, when they first enter the development, that there is no Oak at the Shore? Or that the nearest Shore is a four hour drive away? Why not pick features that more accurately describe what the place is all about?

Here are some names that I would like to see. They don't come from any formula, but rather from simple observation of many of the new development areas I've seen springing up in my community:

  • Dump View
  • Across from the Landfill
  • Shaky Grounds
  • Moldy Valley
  • Fault Zone
  • Flood Plains
  • Tornado Alley

When I am King, I'll enforce truth in advertising for these places and ensure that the names reflect their surroundings. My people would be far happier with their homes, knowing that this was all there was in their lives. Or if not, it would at least be nice if they didn't waste their time looking for the nonexistent Oak or Shore.


Male Pattern Boldness

Note: This is a seriously geeky entry, non-programmers beware.

Note2: I've taken a lazy approach to writing this post, and have simply copied this piece wholesale from my Java blog. I understand that sometimes clicking through a link is just more than someone can manage. Also, pasting the whole thing here makes it look more substantial than just linking providing a to it. And if it's funny once, it must be funnier twice, right?

Longtime readers of my blog will know that I'm a huge fan of Design Patterns. Patterns wrap complex architectures with simplistic descriptions. They create wonderful buzzwords that we can use instead of resorting to actual human language descriptions. And they help enforce that feeling that we're all a part of an elite clique shunned by society not by their choice, but by ours.

So it is with much happiness and joy (refer to the Joyous Configuration pattern for more background on this emotion) that I hereby announce more patterns to help the software community in the tedious and underappreciated lives that we lead.


The Refactory pattern, a spin-off of the earlier Factory pattern, is useful for engineering teams that enjoy the infinite redesign cycle of software. While the code may work perfectly well in some configuration, chances are great that the entire code base can be completely refactored to have the same functionality, but with different class hierarchies, indenting styles, and naming conventions. This pattern provides for such standard refactoring methods as arbitraryRename(),
codeRestyler(), classHierarchyFlattener(), and classHierarchyExpander(). This single pattern is often credited with being the cornerstone of our entire industry.


The Delicate pattern, like the traditional Delegate pattern, is signified by its extreme use of indirection and object layering, where a successful implementation will be comprised of so many layers of API and object wrappers that the final result is apt to break easily and nondeterministically. As Chris Campbell pointed out to me, the Delicate pattern is a critical part of the trendy Fragile Programming methodology.


The Obliterator pattern is a combination of the Iterator pattern, which is useful for walking through a list of objects, and deletion functionality. When applied to any list
of objects, it automatically walks the list and deletes all members, then removes the list, the calling function, and the application itself. Variations of the pattern have been known to also destroy the operating system, the computers running the system, the networks on which the pattern is deployed, and the universe in which the pattern exists. Use with care, or at least ask your users to test it for you before declaring the product final.


The Veneer pattern is a thin, attractive wrapper on top of a rat's nest of spaghetti code. The pattern is similar to its forerunner, the Façade pattern, except that it avoids the use of special internationalized letters that make correct spelling difficult for English programmers.


Contrary to the related Functional Design pattern, the Disfunctional pattern requires every component of a system to know about and perform every possible operation. Variants of the pattern exist, such as the Gossip and Nosey Parker patterns.

Lethargic Initialization

Like the Lazy Initialization pattern, the Lethargic Initialization pattern delays creation and calculation until such time as it is needed. However, the Lethargic pattern adds the additional requirement that operations be carried out slowly, if at all, and may not actually complete when the information is needed by the system. This approach has distinct advantages over the Lazy pattern. Systems using the Lethargic approach can never suffer the performance hit that is possible with the Lazy pattern, because at no time is the system actually doing much, if any, work.


Like the Singleton pattern, the Single represents objects of which there is only one instance in the system. However, the Single pattern has the important distinction that its objects are constantly on the search for other objects to combine with, in a desperate attempt to avoid being stuck on their own. A Single object will print any line, tell any recursion tail, or go into any foo bar as it tries to pair off with other Singles.

Cunning Plan

Like the earlier Strategy pattern, the Cunning Plan pattern cleverly selects the implementation of an algorithm on the fly. However, this more radical approach automatically selects the most devious and subversive methodology, designed to undermine the entire system from within.

It's clear that there are many more patterns that we can invent if
we just set our minds to the task and find appropriately obscure
words with which to name them. But hopefully the selection above will invigorate
the community to begin implementing brave new architectures based
on proven, robust buzzwords.


Driving Me Crazy

My car died last night.
Oh no - was it auto immune disease?
No, it had a caronary.
What happened?
A wagon struck it - it was a cart attack. Then the little wagon took off. It was a hit and runt.
That's too bad - was it a young car?
No, it was old and retired.


Happy Thoughts for Friday

They say that you can never understand another man's problems until you've walked a mile in his shoes.
Try to understand how much worse he feels, now that you've stolen his shoes.

Some say that rain is the angels crying.
But teardrops are tiny things. Rain has much larger drops and streams. Like pee.

Happiness is like a sunbeam. It's comforting at first, but stay there long enough and it'll give you skin cancer.


When I am King: A Stirring Tale

When I am King...

Frozen lunches will be packaged with live frogs.

Microwaves are great. In just two minutes, they can turn a completely frozen block of food into a mass of scalding hot pools simmering in frozen passageways, like a volcano in the antarctic. If you average out the temperature over the entire volume of food, the meal is reasonably warm for eating. But if you try to eat the meal exactly as it comes out of the microwave, you would both break your teeth and cauterize the wounds.

Inevitably, you have to deal with the food as it cooks, taking it out and stirring it intermittently, so that you equalize the extremes in the final result. Wouldn't it be nice if the microwave automatically cooked the food evenly instead?

Of course, the solution of fixing microwave technology so that it addressed the root problem would be best. But don't hold your breath. The last time the industry tried to address the issue, we got the spinning-tray workaround, where your food now twirls in the oven like a ballerina, if she were frozen and then bombarded with subatomic particles until she boiled from the inside.

No, if we're going to fix this problem, we'll have to do it ourselves.

That's why I've had my top scientists looking into the problem, and we have a solution on the way: Frogs.

Did you realize that the Wood Frog can survive both freezing solid and thawing out? When my team discovered this fact, we knew that we had stumbled on the perfect solution to this nagging culinary problem.

Here's the idea: we will freeze frogs and pack them in the same container with frozen entrees. Then later, when the food container is microwaved, the frog will automatically be thawed out during the reheating process. And, being an water-dwelling creature that has suddenly woken up inside a lunch container packed with random non-frog food particles, and having the unusual feeling of being nuked alive, they will naturally thrash around in a state of panic. This, in turn, will effectively stir the food as it cooks. They will be particularly effective at the job; frog's legs are powerful tools for both jumping and whisking.

The result? A steaming hot meal that comes out of the microwave pre-stirred and adjusted for all hot and cold spots of the microwaving process.

There is a small issue to work out here where the frog-stirred meal will taste, well, froggy. And the thrashing about might put some measure of frog slime into the surrounding food. This result is perfect for meals where frog is part of the desired result; testing in the French market has been quite favorable so far. It has not yet panned out as well in user testing with, for example, vegetarian entrees or delicate desserts. Work continues apace and we expect to have a general solution eventually.

Rest assured, we will solve these problems: To poorly-cooked meals, our society can finally micro-wave goodbye.


Crisis Mode

World Leaders Unite. Bush Declares War.

(This text was the background script for a standup gig I di; that video is posted in a later entry here)

I'm thinking about starting my midlife crisis. I figure it's a good time for having one. I'm 42, so if this is mid-way through my life then I'll die when I'm 84. I thought about having one when I was 21, but it's a good thing I didn't since I'd be dead now.

Wouldn't it be nice if you could plan when your midlife crisis would happen? But it's just something that starts when it feels like it and keeps dragging on and on and on. Like a public radio membership drive. Or puking.

Why does someone even have a midlife crisis? Everything may be going very well in life:

  • You may be happily married. For the second or third time.
  • You may have kids. They may even not hate you. Yet.
  • You may feel very healthy and completely unaware of your terminal illness.
But we get bored with success. We feel the need to just screw it all up. Like "New Coke". Or Britney Spears's career.

There are usually three ways that people go about it:
  1. You can change your partner
  2. You can change your stuff
  3. You can change your self

Option #1: Change your partner

I don't know where you stand on the issue, but I envy all of those people having clandestine affairs. I mean, think of their awesome time management skills!

Where would I fit in an affair? Or even a quickie? Maybe I could manage it if I could figure out how to do it over Intimate Messaging.

But regardless, my wife would certainly find out, and then she'd kill me. Then it would be an end-of-life crisis, which isn't what I was after.

Option #2: Change your stuff

This usually entails getting a ridiculously expensive sports car, in a desperate attempt to look cooler than we actually are.

I could drive home in some new expensive sports car like a friend of mine, who spent his wife's kitchen remodel money on a new BMW Z3. Then six months later, he drove home in a new Z4, with the Z3 still sitting in his driveway.

At this point, he should have considered going for both options 1 and 2 and driven home with a new wife, because his previous wife situation wasn't working for him anymore.

I personally couldn't go the car route. For one thing, I'm too cheap. Why buy a convertible when I could get the same effect for free by just messing up my hair and squishing some bugs on my forehead?

But more importantly, I couldn't because my wife would kick the crap out of me for wasting so much money.

Option #3: Change your self

There are a few things I could do here:

  • I could go radical and have a sex change. But frankly, I think I'd make a really ugly girl. I wouldn't even go out with me.
  • I could change my appearance. I could get glasses. Wait - I'm a programmer; I already have glasses. I am that cool already...
  • I could change the inner me.

I'm opting for changing the inner me. I'm going to get a little dark and subversive. I'm going to get into leather, and studs, and piercings. And then bondage and S&M.

I figure, my wife's going to hit me anyway. I may as well enjoy it.


Little Jokes for Tuesday

I met a woman last week who uses a PO Box because she's concerned that unknown guys should not know her real address.
So apparently she uses her PO Box because of male problems.

Don't you think that each member of an orchestra is instrumental?


Dog Is My Copilot

I went to the vet the other day to get some medicine for my dog.
It went something like this:

Me: Hi - I'm here to pick up some pills for Tempo.
Her: What's his last name?
Me: I don't know, he's never told me.

Her: Do you have his license?
Me: No - we don't let him drive.

Her: What kind of medicine is it?
Me: Pills. Brown-ish. About a half-inch square.
Her: What are they for?
Me: My dog. They're supposed to be swallowed.

Her: Do you have a prescription?
Me: No, they're for my dog.
Her: Do you have a prescription from him?
Me: No - he can't write. And I don't think he's allowed to give them out without a license. Which he doesn't have.

We finally worked things out and she gave me the pills.

Her: These are to be taken with food.
Me: Okay, I'll tell him.

I went home and was greeted at the door by my dog.

Him: Did you get my medicine?


Little Jokes for Monday

What do you call dull research findings?

Did you hear about the man who didn't believe Egypt had a river?
He was in de-nile.

I've seen this product in the dairy aisle, "Nonfat Half & Half".
Half & Half is half cream and half milk.
And cream is the fatty part of milk.
So shouldn't nonfat Half & Half just be called "Half"? Or maybe just "Milk"?


Bad News

I saw a great headline on CNN a couple of days ago:

Michael Vick arraigned on Federal Convection
Does this mean that he's going to cook for his crime? Or that they're just going to grill him about it?

A few minutes later, there was another good CNN headline:

Univ. of Wisconsin Resumes Classes when Suspicious Man Not Found
I had to wonder: Is this a daily occurrence there? Does the school have a comprehensive safety plan depending on all things that don't happen?

I can imagine other, similarly gripping news stories, like:
  • Woman Eats Rest of Dinner when Rat Not Detected in Pasta Sauce
  • New York City Returns to Work after Sewers Finish Not Exploding
  • War Ends when Weapons of Mass Destruction Not Detected

Maybe the headline writers have just been watching too much What's News.


Little Jokes

Is moldy cheese whey too old?

Did you hear about the obstetrician that had a midwife crisis?

Dirty joke:
Did you hear about the ditch digger that told his boss to take this job and shovel it?
(His boss then axed him).


LIttle Jokes: I Wonder

Does God offer prophet sharing?

Is Noah considered an arketype?

Is it called religion because the first attempt, 'ligion', didn't work out so well?


Wee Joke

I was thinking about Scotland today, where I spent a year when I was in college.

It's a beautiful country, but very whisky. A man could get kilt there.


When I am King: Queasy Does It

When I am King...

Everyone will experience the wonderful feeling of regular puking.

Throwing up has to be one of the worst experiences that we have in our lives. Unless you count waiting in line at the DMV or dinner on a crowded night at Chucky Cheese.

But the moments just after the heaves stop are, conversely, some of the best times in life. It's a feeling of total euphoria that we wish could go on forever, but sadly lasts only until the next wave hits.

How good would our lives be if we could have that feeling any time we wanted?

When I am King, I will get my scientists working on a drug that simulates this feeling. An early version is available already, under the name “Ipecac,” but it has the minor downside that you actually have to puke first. Our new drug, currently being test-marketed with the name “Toss Up,” will skip that initial step and proceed straight to the euphoria. The only thing missing will be the cool, refreshing feel of the toilet bowl on your forehead. Feel free to supply that part yourself.

This must be the feeling that people imagine when they picture the After Life. Right outside the Pearly Gates is a big toilet. You perform your final heave and then pass into the promised land, retaining that magical feeling for the rest of time. No wonder it's called 'Heaven'.


Little Jokes: September 9, 2007

What do you call it when old trousers shred at the ends?

Is a sign for a fork in the road a sign of the tines?

What do you call someone that sounds more attractive than they look?

When retirees move to a vacation community, is it their last resort?


When I am King: Making Sense

When I am King...

Our senses will be bombarded with terrible smells, tastes, and sounds.

Our lives hold meaning only in selfish comparison with others. Am I happy? I don't know ... until I look at the guy next to me yelling into his phone, or the woman across from me sobbing out a tale about a pedicure gone wrong. Then I realize that, while I may not know whether I'm actually 'happy', I know for a fact that I'm happier than these two.

I used to work at a company that was located next to a plastics factory. Every afternoon I would return to my car, start it up, and then notice an overpowering smell of burning rubber. My first thought was always that something terrible was wrong with my car, something requiring an unaffordable repair. It wasn't a “new car" smell, but rather a “need a new car” smell. Then I would remember about the factory next door producing the odor and I would feel great relief that, once more, I had narrowly escaped certain defeat and my car would live to drive another day.

My car was neither worse nor better through this regular routine, but I felt much better about it through the comparison. Every single day.

Similarly, I enjoy hearing screaming kids on the plane - as long as they're not my screaming kids. It's not that I actually like the sound – I'd rather stick the airline pretzels in my ears and tamp them in with my drink's swizzle stick. But I do like knowing that it's not my kids screaming and that I don't have to do anything about this unsolvable situation.

Of course, people on the flight that don't have young children probably just hate it because they don't have a comparison point. For them, I'd suggest the pretzels-in-the-ear trick; it doesn't feel good, but it sure takes your mind off the screaming.

These comparisons occur intermittently in life, giving us reassurance that everything's OK, because it's not as bad as it could be:
  • You happen to smell the milk before taking a big gulp and realize that it shouldn't smell like vomit. You may feel nauseous from the smell, but you feel a lot better knowing that you didn't drink it.
  • You narrowly avoid getting into a major accident on the highway. You are no safer afterwards than you were before, but you feel much better than you did before accident didn't occur. Besides, that adrenaline is some kinda high, isn't it?
  • You wonder, every time you pass by a power outlet, what it would feel like to stick your tongue into the socket. It would hurt a lot - believe me. But you don't do it. And just knowing that you once again avoided this power trip gives you great comfort.

When I am King, I will create a system of nationwide sensory output devices that will flood our senses with terrible things: screams, odors, bad folk music – anything that causes discomfort. Through this constant reminder that things are probably better than they could be, we will all be a happier people.


Little Jokes

What do you call a fight between the minister and the choir?
An altarcation

If Satan owns Hell, does that make him a soul proprietor?

Definition: Agnostic
An atheist who's hedging his bet.


Happy Thoughts for Monday

I like to see what motivates people. Personally, I've always found that the carrot works much better than the stick. People simply appreciate rewards more than punishment. But also, if that's not working, you can just whack them with the carrot, instead.

Aquarium fish are pretty, but they make awful pets. For one thing, they're just not very cuddly, all slimy and gasping for breath the whole time. Also, they always leave a wet spot on the bed. But more importantly, they never live long and you just end up having to flush them down the toilet.
I think a puppy would be a better choice for a pet, since they're more cuddly. On the other hand, they're much more difficult to flush.


Code Complete Nonsense

I wrote about some new Java language feature proposals on my technical blog. It's not worth posting it twice, so here's a link for anyone interested:


Warning: it's for geeks only; basically, anyone that does any programming. But hopefully funny for that crowd.


Little Joke: Roomination

When strangers room together, what do you call the place they rent?

Leased common denominator.


Happy Thoughts: 8/17/2007

Don't be spoiled by success. Be treated fairly by failure instead.

Split ends: Our hair just keeps growing and growing. It's constantly trying to put as much distance as possible between it and the body.
Does it know something that we don't?

Did you ever have an aquarium? Did you notice how continuously the fish went belly-up and had to be flushed?
Now, did you ever have roaches or ants in your kitchen? Did you notice how they just kept coming and coming, no matter how hard you tried to kill them?
Why don't we raise roaches and ants as pets, instead? It would be a lot less depressing.

There are two sides to every story. But the other side is hard to read because it's all backwards.

I've been thinking about getting a nose job. It's about time he started earning his keep.
He'd just better not blow it.


When I am King: Miss Directions

When I am King...

GPS devices will be more human, more interactive, and less emotionally draining.

I don't own a GPS system now and I'm not planning to anytime soon. Why? Because it'd be like caving and asking for directions. Constantly.

I know that I don't know how to get everywhere. Heck, I sometimes end up at the wrong house coming home at night (really freaks out the lady in that other house, but she's getting used to it). But I really hate having to ask for directions. So I get by, just driving around the general vicinity where I'm heading until I eventually figure it out.

Using a GPS device would be like asking for directions non-stop. Sure, it might be in the privacy of my own car, but it's really no better personally than stopping at the gas station and asking which way to go – at every single corner along the way.

I just can't take that pride hit on every journey. I might be physically on the right path, but I'd be emotionally lost.

But what I could use is a little company in the car. I get tired of the radio, always playing songs I don't like, or the CD player, always playing songs I've heard too many times. Audio books are an improvement, but they feel so impersonal, like they're not really reading to me, but just to some microphone in a studio. What I'd like is something more interactive, more like another person in the car, commenting on things that are happening during the drive.

When I am King, I will introduce a new device that caters to this kind of driver; the kind that doesn't want to be told what to do, but is hankering for a little company along the scenic route. I envision a system that doesn't give directions so much as commentary. The “Miss Directions” system would never volunteer directions, but would instead converse with the driver about the journey, just like a spouse, saying such helpful things as:

“You took a left? Why did you take a left? You should have just gone straight.”
“[Cough] A right turn? Whatever...”
“Why are you going this way?”
“Where do you think they live, in the Arctic?”
“Are we supposed to be driving in circles?”
“You know where they live, right?”
“We'd already be there if we'd gone my way.”
“I know a better way to go, but we'll take yours instead. We always do.”
“Just because that light had a right arrow didn't mean you had to turn right.”
This way? Huh. You're the driver...”
“Shouldn't we be there by now?”

There are a multitude of other modes that you can put the system into that mimic different kinds of trips. For example, if you are taking a long road trip alone and you miss your children, Miss Directions can help you out with such conversation as:

“Are we there yet?”
“When are we going to get there?”
“Are we there yet?”
“How long have we been driving?”
“Are we there yet?”
“I gotta pee”
“Are we there yet?”
“I'm hungry. Really hungry.”
“Are we there yet?”
“I'm so bored.”
and, of course,
“Are we there yet?”

The best thing about this system is, unlike the passengers it represents, you can shut it off. After all, you own it; it's your Global Possession System.


When I am King: Menu for Success

When I am King...

We will stop waffling and create more perfect foods.

Some meals are engineered to be as unhealthy as possible. There should be more of these wonderful meals available.

Take, for example, the waffle. A long time ago, say 517 years, someone invented pancakes. Later that same morning, they invented syrup to top the pancakes. During the same meal, on a frenzied sugar high, they added whipped butter to top it all off.

This has worked well for centuries: warm pancakes melt the butter and soak it and the syrup up so that most of these liquid grease products bypass our stomachs and go directly to the lining of our arteries.

But food scientists discovered, say 63 years ago, that some of the butter and syrup liquid were left on the plate, due to the simple physical reality of run-off. Pancakes are excellent at soaking up grease, but they can't get it all. So the liquid that runs off tends to stay on the plate and is removed only by the most strenuous licking.

This situation was obviously not sustainable. Besides the obvious waste in butter and syrup, there was just an inherent lack of efficiency of the pancake product. Clearly, something had to be done.

Some early attempts at fixing this included the Plate Straw, a device that simplified sucking up syrup or meat juices left on plates; Sippin' Syrup, a breakfast drink of pure syrup and non-dairy butter alternative; and syrup-flavored pancakes. But none of these fine products fully solved the problem or satisfied the public's appetite for complete sugar and grease overload.

Finally, scientists invented waffles. This new version of the breakfast cake had all of the grease-soaking capabilities of pancakes with the important additional property of being able to hold pools of liquid to allow longer time for both soaking and transportation to the mouth. Now it no longer matters whether the syrup can all be soaked up; eating a waffle is like eating many little doses of syrup in tiny pancake cups.

Another meal engineered to get more of the bad stuff into our system is meatloaf. Have you ever noticed how much fat leaves a hamburger as it cooks on a grill? Now, imagine cooking the hamburger in a pot, where all of that grease would be trapped and the meat would be swimming in a large pool of fat. Ick. Completely unappetizing. Ah, but wouldn't it taste good anyway, if we could just get past the gut-wrenching notion of that pond of fat?

Along came some clever food scientists who researched the problem extensively. They noticed that if you stick some substance in with the meat to soak up the fat, then it is no longer obvious to the eater that they are eating a bowl of fat soup. Instead, it just tastes good.

There were several attempts at a solution. The first attempt involved cut-up kitchen rags, which tend to be good soaking-up agents. The meal looked passable, but the tasters objected to the “inedible”, and “leathery” portions of rag in the meat.

The second attempt was more clever, and used the knowledge of the earlier team's work on waffles to make the meal more edible; they used crumbled up pancakes. Tasters agreed that the meal was edible, but it didn't taste quite right, and tasters kept wanting syrup on the meat.

Finally, the researchers happened upon stale pieces of bread, first as a joke, and then later because the tasters seemed to actually enjoy it and the bread was free from the dumpster behind the bakery next door. The dry bread effectively soaks up all of the grease that the meat would otherwise rid itself of in a desperate attempt to become more healthy. Now you get the benefit of eating bread that was too far gone to be eaten otherwise, and grease that would otherwise have looked too unappetizing for you to enjoy. One swing through the marketing department, which at the time was Lenny, the six year old son of the inventor, and “meatloaf” was born.

When I am King, I will devote all available resources to inventing more perfect foods like these. Too much is going to waste in grease pools on our plates, in our pots, on our oven floors, and under our barbequeue grills. There must be other clever ways, building upon the hallmark work of waffles and meatloaf, to ensure that these leftovers go into our bodies instead. I'd die to eat more of this grease, wouldn't you?


Little Jokes

I wouldn't want to be a stenographer. They get so type-cast.

Do you think that a furniture store calls their barstool floor-models "stool samples"?

Advice to people with warts who keep scratching their skin:
Cease and de-cyst.


Willful Misrepresentation

If a man kids his children about putting them in his will, isn't he just putting on heirs?


Grave Matter

What do you call a cemetery in the U.S. capitol?
Washington, DCeased


Window of Opportunity

Police are confident that they have caught the culprit from last week's big crime.

“It was clear from the beginning that the window did it,” said Detective Biggins on Wednesday. “The case was completely transparent. I could see right through him the whole time."

Meanwhile, the window was shattered. “This blows - I was framed!”

Detective Biggins disagreed. “He's just being a pane. And very silly. There are mullions of reasons why he's guilty. For one thing, there was a transom note from him at the scene. There is always an outside chance that it's an inside job, but in this case, he was draped with guilt. It's definitely curtains for him.”

Detective Biggins closed with this, “This trial is going to be a breeze. It's an open and shut case. And I'll see him hung for it.”


The George Show

A friend has started a new animated show, called The George Show:


This episode is all his, although I assisted a bit in ideas for editing the initial content. A future episode of the series may have a script by yours truly.


Exercise Your Demons

A friend of mine refuses to exercise because he doesn't like to sweat.
Don't you think that's a pore excuse?


When I am King: Shampoop

When I am King...

Hair conditioning will become much cooler.

In the beginning, Man didn't wash himself at all. Why bother, when everyone else around us was just as filthy? The cavemen needed their own stench cloud as a barrier of odor protection against that of their stinky peers.

Then something happened, probably a job interview. Or a date. And someone cleaned up a tad, raising the bar for everyone.

Early man started cleaning himself with anything readily available, which at the time meant animal carcasses. However, the animal-meat-scrubbers were soon evolved out of our society, since they tended to be easily detectable by local predators and became food instead of clean.

So man resorted to other, less disgusting materials, such as gravel, dirt, and toenail clippings. Although these materials worked arguably better than animal carcass, they still left much to be desired, and tended to be more of a mechanism for moving the filth around than actually removing it.

Then came the great discovery of Water (unfortunately discovered just after Fire, thereby failing to prevent The Great Cave Burning of 90095 BC, generally considered to be the first Burning Man celebration, if not the first one where the figure burned was artificial). Water gained immediate acceptance as the preferred method of cleansing, except for dating, where the couple would still use the traditional approach of rubbing themselves with dirt, thus giving rise to the notion that fooling around on a date was “getting dirty.”

Next, several thousand years and many generations of death-by-reek later, man discovered soap. Now, not only could man remove the dirt on his body, but he could also then add another slimy substance to his body afterwards and then remove that, too. This habit was originally adopted to simply give Woman an excuse to spend longer in the shower.

Finally, Man discovered shampoo. Or, rather, Marketing discovered it. Soap was doing a fine job, but why sell only one product when you can sell two? People became convinced that there was something special about soap in liquid form that they weren't getting from the solid soap. Besides, they didn't drop the shampoo on the floor quite as often.

The concept of shampoo is simple: You rinse, you put in the goop, you scrub your hair, you rinse it out. The “Repeat” step in the instructions "Lather. Rinse. Repeat" label remains a mystery, although repetition is probably a good idea for those who had previously washed with dirt, perhaps in preparation for a heavy date.

But then along came “conditioner,” a substance to be used after shampoo. According to the label, a conditioner “replaces the body's essential oils.”

If these oils are so essential, why are we removing them to begin with? And why are we getting our body's essential oils from a bottle instead of from our body? Or how did our essential oils get into that bottle to begin with?

When I am King, I will provide a new kind of shampoo, called “Rinse”. This shampoo will be, essentially, water. But it will be a whole lot more expensive, maybe more like bottled water. The instructions on the label will be simple: “Rinse. Rinse. Repeat.”. The label will also say, “Leaves the body's essential oils The Hell Alone.”

I will also release a line of non-liquid hair cleaners, called “Dirt.” These products will be marketed at a higher price for special dating occasions. Slogans, such as “Get Dirty!,” “Gimme the Dirt!,” and “PayDirt!,” are being test-marketed with consumer focus groups now, and there is an infomercial series in the works, under the name “Talk Dirty to Me.”


Little Jokes

What do you call someone who feels bad about dolls?
Mannequin depressive

A funeral is the only place where you can be dead and a wake at the same time.

What do you call a bad haircut?
Folly cull. It's very hair-razing.

I like using long words because they have more character.


When I am King: Pain Gain

When I am King...

Exercise will be a distant, painful memory.

After long years of tedious exercise, my body and mind are well trained. Now, whenever I have muscle ache, I feel great because it means that I've worked out and have done my body some good. That awful feeling of muscle ache and overall exhaustion must mean that my body is healthier.

Why not cut out the middleman here? Why go to all of the hassle of actually exercising when there are other ways to feel terrible?

Now, I start each day by having my wife sock me in the biceps, with a couple of jabs to the chest, and I feel awfully great the rest of the day. Of course, she gets carried away and sometimes clocks me in the jaw, but I know it's just to make me feel even better. And I've asked her a few times now to quit kicking me in the shins; I guess her aim is off. And stomping on my toes hasn't helped and the pokes in my eyes are getting pretty tiresome after my cornea surgery.

But overall, I'm feeling better now than I've felt in years. No more gym for me, just a few rounds with my wife and I feel great.

When I am King, I will provide a more general solution to the problem. My personal solution obviously can't work for everyone, since my wife can't hit everyone. But there are simple things that we all could do to make ourselves feel better.

For example, there will be devices to wear around your arms and legs that constrict the muscles to make them feel exactly like they had been overworked in the gym. And spray bottles with salty, slight rancid water that you can douse yourself anytime with to give you that feel and taste of having just gotten off the cardio machine. And belts with special pressure-point devices that make you feel like you've pulled your back out with some hard sets on the bench.

We will have a neck support that ensures constrained motion for your head, to simulate having done something awful during weight-lifting. And shoes with special soles that make your feet feel like they have been beaten up by intense running. And my personal favorite, a device inserted into the lungs that ensures that you must take deep breaths to get the oxygen your body needs; this really helps you feel like you've just had a major workout. All day long.

Of couse, for the truly dedicated, there will be certified Personal Painers that specialize in hurting particular spots in your body according to the kind of workout you want to feel like you had.

Working out is so difficult; why bother? With this new approach, our bodies can feel as awful as they would after an intense session at the gym – every single day. And with the extra time that this will free up in our schedules from not having to hit the gym, we can do something more productive and enjoyable with our time. Like eat. After all, we've got to replenish those calories that our bodies feel like they've burned up.


Sunday Comics: Geek Life

Today's geek leads a full and multi-faceted life. Here, for example, is one such creature seen in a variety of situations in the wild.

A geek in his natural habitat, at work.

A geek on holiday.

A rare glimpse of a geek in bed.

Happy Thoughts: Rest in Pieces

What do you call a a funeral procession for a couple?
His and hearse.

Did you hear about the terrified guy that buried himself alive?
He soiled himself.

I read a mystery last week where a character died but the body was never found.
It was a grave tale, but there was no plot.

Epitaph for a policeman:
Arrest in Peace


When I am King: In Tuition

When I am King...

Families will no longer pay expensive college tuition.

Many parents in the U.S. are trying to figure out both sides to an expensive equation: how do we push our kids hard enough academically so that they can get into a good school, and how do we come up with the approximately $19 million that that education would cost?

But there's a solution here to both problems that is far simpler: ensure that the kids won't get accepted into college. Think about it: if the kids can't get into a 'good' school, then their college education will probably cost far less. But if they don't get into any school at all, then they won't get into any college and will be forced to go out and get a job instead. Sure, it'll probably be for some paltry salary, but would you rather have them earning minimum wage or going severely into debt each semester for tuition, fees, room, and board just to learn how to drink heavily?

Leaving children to their own devices isn't good enough; some kids are clever enough to just learn on their own, regardless of how much incessant, overbearing, nagging pressure we refuse to lay on top of them.

So we'll have to be smarter about it if we want to avoid that sinkhole of debt in our future. After all, don't they get enough of our pennies with their constant whining for diapers, food, and medicine as they grow up? At some point, this charity must end.

When I am King, I will push for a series of requirements and recommendations for parents, including the following:

  • Have the children watch TV all day and night, but put a parent lock on anything that might be remotely educational, like PBS and .... Just put a parent lock on PBS. Encourage them to watch the daytime talk shows. Not only will this mind-numbing content atrophy their brains, but the guests on these shows will provide good role models for them in their future life.
  • Go over their homework with them, but get it wrong and convince them of why it's actually correct. The hard part here is not to just fail the homework, but to fail to grasp the concepts entirely.
  • Have the dog eat their homework on a frequent basis. Besides causing the child to fail these individual assignments, this process will teach them how far pathetic excuses will go in society.
  • Have them miss the big tests at school, especially the standardized ones. Take them out to the mall to just hang out on those days instead.
  • Provide a nighttime environment for them that makes deep sleep impossible. On the off-chance that they actually want to learn during the day, you should make that an impossible task.

The amount of debt that average families hold is tragic. Why make the situation worse by having to pile unaffordable college tuition on top of it? Instead, let's have our kids skip the college route entirely and enter into society earlier, debt-free. We know, from the boardgame of Life, that skipping college is an entirely viable option that can sometimes work out. But regardless, it will be less stress on our bank accounts, and we'll probably be dead by the time the kids regret it.


Eye Site

Some friends were accused of stealing eyeglasses.
But I'm sure they were framed.

It was blind robbery - quite a spectacle.


When I am King: Shakin' It

When I am King...

Coffee shops will offer an even wider variety of milkshake drinks.

I'm a coffee lover. Heck, I'm nearly an addict. Of course, I could stop anytime I want to ... as long as I was allowed to restart in a couple of hours.

And I like good coffee, the stuff that's best brewed at good coffee shops, where they use water that comes directly from mountain glaciers, super-heat it until it can melt steel, and pour it through two pounds of grounds per cup of coffee. The coffee beans are picked fresh daily, roasted hourly, and then hand-ground in batches of one by highly-skilled professionals. The final result is poured into the finest cups available, molded by the Master Roaster himself, to ensure that each cup matches his perfect specifications.

So of course I hit the coffee shop often, to ensure that I maintain correct dosage on my drug of choice.

I have to admit, I'm a bit confused at what people order at the coffee shop. Me, I like coffee. It's a pure dose of the drug, topped only, perhaps, by an injection of caffeine directly into my temple.

But it seems like most people in coffee shops order drinks that are, essentially, milkshakes. Mocha. Latté. Frappé. Chai Latté. Carmel on top, chocolate mixed in, whipped cream topping, blended frozen creamy carmel chocolate surprises.

There might, in some of these drinks, actually be some coffee-related substance, but not so that you could actually taste it past all of the rest of the creamy chocolate fluff.

So what's the point?

The point is that people love milkshakes. They are, essentially, a perfect food that combines the fat and sugar that our bodies crave with, well, more fat and sugar. And it's in liquid form, which means that we can inhale it with no time-consuming and calorie-burning chewing activity.

But “milkshake” just sounds too much like a kid's drink. And way too unhealthy, too boot. You're allowed to treat yourself to one very occasionally, like when you have a hamburger. A milkshake with a burger is like menu-ordered euthenasia; you don't want to put yourself in a coma from a heart-stopping burger, you might as well just pull the plug at the same time by downing a shake with it.

So clever marketing folks came up with the idea of selling milkshakes disguised as adult beverages. Chai Latté: what kid ever asks for Chai? Surely, such a taste sensation is reserved for an adult palate of distinction. Mochaccino: clearly, given the Italian “ccino” ending which means “trace amounts of coffee that costs more than my house,” this drink has espresso in it. So the drink is thus inappropriate for children and is obviously intended for adults.

All of the drinks are so laden with accents and foreign spelling that they are all clearly intended only for an adult audience ... which means that we adults feel less stupid ordering them than we would the Cherry Chocolate Malt Surprise at the ice cream shop.

But I feel that this doesn't go far enough. What kind of adult beverage market is it if it doesn't cover booze? Alcohol is clearly the exclusive domain of adults, since children do not need its effects to give them the mental state of a child. Besides, we need to regulate our systems; too much caffeine and I start buzzing like one of the players in those old eletronic football games. What better way than to offer drinks that both stimulate and depress our systems simultaneously?

I propose extending the current adult milkshake market to cover alcoholic drinks as well. I look forward to the day when I can stand in line at the coffee shop behind the construction guy ordering a Triple Two-percent Mocha Frappé with Whip and order myself a Beeraccino, or a Martinno, or Viente Scotch with Whip.


Placating Platitudes aPlenty

In Placating Parental Platitudes, I discussed important phrases to use when raising children. But parenting isn't the only time that we need such reassurances. Here are some helpful phrases to be used with our partners and parents.

  1. Don't worry: The blemish isn't visible

  2. Don't worry: Your hair looks fine

  3. Don't worry: Your wrinkles aren't noticeable

  4. Don't worry: You can't see the gray

  5. Don't worry: We're putting you in the home just temporarily


Placating Parental Platitudes

A friend is having a baby soon. Like all well-meaning and obliviously arrogant parents, I imparted all of my worldly knowledge to him on the subject of child-rearing:

Don't worry: it'll wash out (probably)

But while I think that this single phrase is the core tenet of raising kids that all parents need to know, we can extend this information to cover other situations. Here, then, are some helpful parenting phrases. Repeat these aloud several times per hour, as appropriate.
  1. Don't worry: It'll wash out
  2. Don't worry: It wasn't poisonous
  3. Don't worry: It won't bite
  4. Don't worry: The other kids will like you
  5. Don't worry: It'll grow back
  6. Don't worry: It's operable
  7. Don't worry: It's surgically removable


Geek Jokes 0001

What do you bury a dead programmer in?
Shroud of Turing

What do you call it when the server for Google Maps crashes?
terrain wreck

What do you call a computer in the Antarctic?
data floe

What do you call it when you're tired of typing?

What do you call a person addicted to programming?

Where do you go to sell all of your worldly posessions on the web?


It's a dog's life

As my dog struggled against his arthritic legs to stand up, I looked at him with sadness. I wondered when we might have to put him down to end his suffering.

Then I walked up the stairs, my knees grinding loudly with each step. I saw my wife looking at me with sadness.


Happy Thoughts: June 7, 2007

If someone eats too much, isn't that a lot of waist?

If students in cosmetology miss the final exam, do they get a makeup test?

Smoking is for ash holes.


When I am King: Media Frenzy

When I am King...

Television and movies will suck. For their own good.

The super-secret code for Hi-Def DVDs has now been cracked, and it is now possible for people to make illicit copies of these DVDs. This has thrown the media industry into a tizzy once again, trying to sue websites, people, and God to stop the spread of this unstoppable secret.

But there is a simpler and more effective means of protection available to the industry: make DVDs so awful that nobody would bother. This approach would be far more effective than any secret code, and certainly less expensive and tedious than hiring legions of lawyers to litigate the cosmos.

Fortunately, the industry is a fair way down this path already. In particular, most DVDs composed of television content is unwatchable drivel and thus completely safe from piracy.

In particular, the move toward Reality TV is a brilliant one, where the networks attempt to hook people on watching other people's lives. One day, people will realize that they have a choice of simply living their own lives instead, and will thus have no need for illegal copies of DVDs of these other lives.

In my kingdom, there will be no movies or TV worth watching at all, simply to protect the industry from inevitable piracy of quality content. People will use televisions simply as space heaters and light sources. DVD players will become lamp stands with built-in cup holders. With the time that this bold move will free up for everyone, I envision a limitless and infinitely capable society, with people being able to do far more in life, like surfing the web and playing computer games.


Little Jokes

What do you call successful but fraudulent advertising?
Good advice

What do you call profit from a website?
Net gain

What do you call the identifier for a disgusting website?

What do you call worn out, old clothing?


When I am King: Sick Daze

When I am King...

Children will no longer take sick days off from school.

When I was a kid and stayed home from school sick, I lay in bed bored out of my mind all day. The highlight was when the morning talk shows ended and Dennis the Menace came on. At first, I even enjoyed the show. But just one episode was enough for me to develop a deep loathing for Dennis, and I would find myself aligned with the grumpy neighbor, quietly plotting the brat's demise. After Dennis, it was all soap operas for the rest of the day. This death-by-dullness approach was a cure-all, and kids not actually dead would magically find themselves well enough to go to school the next day.

Now, kids have a myriad of entertainments available to them, from DVDs to video games to web surfing to building meth labs. Kids will stick golf clubs down their throats to puke, on the hope that they'll get to stay home from school and have some fun instead. We've cottoned to this trick in my house and now have a policy that any child in possession of a majority of their appendages is well enough to go to school.

This health care and education crisis cannot continue. How can children get educated if they're not at school getting beaten up on the playground or getting picked last for kickball? How can parents expect children to get well when they don't get serious rest time imposed by murderously boring TV? Most importantly, how can parents expect to get anything done around the house with sick children lying in repose on every horizontal surface?

I propose a new system that will motivate children to get healthy, stay healthy, and stay in school.

First of all, sick children will be strapped to their beds, unable to roam around the house looking for activities. This will remove the free-for-all that sick days have become.

Secondly, special TVs will be provided for these sick rooms which show only Dennis the Menace reruns. Having nothing to do is a good start for a sick kid, but getting actively bored is even better. This show has a proven track record for boring kids back to health.

Finally, schools will be provided with all of the entertainments now reserved for sick days at home: videos, games, ... the works. Hey, if school weren't so boring to begin with, kids wouldn't be looking for excuses to skip it. Let's make school more fun. Let's make it a place that kids want to attend.

I look forward to the day when the nightly dinner table question, “What was your favorite part of your school day?” is answered by, “I got a new high score in 'Alien Invasion!'” Or a morning conversation goes like this: “Aw, c'mon! I only coughed up a little blood. Pleeeeeeeease let me go to school!”


The Write Stuff

I'm in a seemingly endless cycle trying to complete the book, so I've had some time to think about writing.

In case it helps anyone, here is my basic algorithm for publishing a book:
    10 write
20 edit
30 goto 20
40 publish
And here are some definitions of publishing terms that I have learned in the business so far:

Writers Block: The neighborhood that the author lives in, so filled with loud children that no writing is possible.

Draft: A beer. After several drafts, the author declares the book done.

Editing: Revising until there is no clause for concern.

Review: Similar to "ream you," but more painful.

Publishing: Something that is bound to happen.

Binding: A contract that guarantees tiny royalties.

Shelf Life: How long a book livesh.


When I am King: A Clip-On Life

When I am King...

I love flip-on sunglasses. They're saying “Hey, I'm here when they need me! And I don't care how they look!”

The moment the Sun threatens to shine, BAM!, down come the shades, faster than you can say "Don't those things make your glasses top-heavy?"

They're so convenient, in fact, that I would like to extend the idea to other facets of life. Why limit this handiness at the cost of attractiveness to our sight? Why let only the eyes have it?

Here are some thoughts on other items to consider:

  • pants: How many times have you been out at lunch and spilled your drink, or your meal, or radioactive waste on your pants? You excuse yourself to the bathroom and try to wash it off, but it never works; you're just left with a large wet spot that makes people think you made yourself wet in the bathroom instead, which is worse.
    What about a pair of clip-on pants, attached at the side of your current pants? One minute later, and you emerge from the bathroom a clean, dry guy.
  • shoes: Life is so varied and unpredictable, yet we only get one split-second in the morning to decide which single pair of shoes we're going to need for the whole day. We put on our dress shoes, only to find ourselves running in a marathon at lunch, or wishing for flipflops at the beach. Or we put on our sneakers, and that afternoon the CEO wanders into our office.
    Clip-on shoes will solve this problem, by allowing us to have an alternate pair with us at all times. As our marketing folks say, "Two left feet never felt so right."
  • hat: Most days, you probably don't wear a hat. But then you're walking around on a hot afternoon, and wish you'd worn a cap. Or getting drenched in the rain and wishing you'd brought something to keep your hair dry. Or traveling in Texas and wishing you could wear a cowboy hat bigger than your car.
    Clip-on hats are just the thing; they hang by your hair and can be snapped into place on a moment's notice.
  • umbrella: These things are so horribly inconvenient that I never bring one anywhere, which means I generally get soaked on rainy days. Alternatively, if I did bring one on suspect days, I'm sure I would just lose it somewhere.
    Clip-on umbrellas hang conveniently down your back, just like the long swords of yore, ready at all times to provide you with critical rain protection.
  • toilet: You never know when you're going to need to use the toilet, nor what shape the throne will be in when you get there. What about a clip-on toilet seat attached to your pants that you could put in place at a moment's notice?
    Options will include an entire clip-on toilet, for those occasions when you need the extra convenience. Current marketing campaigns include catchy slogans like, “Perfectly Portable Potty: For wherever you go.”

There are many other fantastic clip-on devices that our scientists are working on, but these should give you a small taste for how darned convenient our lives will become.


When I am King: Bewilderness

When I am King...

Camping trips shall be confined to the back yard.

I went camping with the Cub Scouts last weekend.
It was in tents.

To bead, or not to bead?

Many of the activities during the weekend resulted in each kid getting a stamp and a bead.
It's still not clear to me why rewards were necessary. Perhaps it was to take the place of rewards on the frontier, where an activity might result in something as exciting as a bear that needed skinning, or an arrow handily nestled in your foot. At least the beads and stamps were more compact and less messy, if a tad less exciting.

I'm still marveling at the brown bead and the stamp of the outhouse for that activity.

But frankly, I found the mandatory beading of kids a bit harsh.

Euphemissed Opportunity

There were many euphemisms at work over the weekend. For example:

  • "Cracker Barrel" means "Dessert". I have no idea what one has to do with the other, but cake, ice cream, cookies, and cocoa are pretty clearly "dessert" in my dictionary. Perhaps the name comes from feeding so much sugar to 6 year olds right before, which is certainly "crackers."
  • "Fishing" means "Standing on the shore watching fish sneer at your bait, with hands that smell like worm guts." This activity didn't really hook me. Or the fish.
  • "Platform Tent" means "Canvas on poles draped on rotting slats of wood". The only way I could get to sleep was to pretend that I hadn't seen the spiders, mosquitos, earwigs, and red ants crawling all over the floor and walls next to my face right before the flashlight went out.

Roughing It

The most difficult and terrifying thing about the weekend, though, was undoubtedly the primitive landscape in which we found ourselves. I came to discover that the word "nature" means "place with no café."

It's a mystery to me how our ancestors survived, much less did anything productive like settle the West or invent the Rodeo Clown profession when there were no strong caffeine-drink purveyors around. It's beyond me how the West was borne.

I picture an entire half-continent of cowboys, slumped listlessly in their saddles until the first Coffee Shoppe & Gen'ral Store was finally opened in Sacramento. Of course, the place was promptly shut down the following day after a pack of wild cowboys, looped on triple espressos, shot the place up like Cub Scouts with BB guns. But it was a start.

The Second Amendment: The Right to Arm Bears

The sight of a dozen 6 year olds arming themselves with BB guns and then bows and arrows still makes me quiver. Maybe our generals should consider sending in such contingents into warzones. The level of death-tinged chaos would make even the hardest of enemies quake with fear. Or laughter.

Of couse, securing the battlefield after it was won would be the hardest part. Announcing that there was a Cracker Barrel back at the base might help.


All in all, I feel that camping is entirely too unnatural. Camping weekends in my kingdom will be confined to pitching tents in the back yard, where they can easily be seen from vantage points inside the house. Meanwhile, I will be pitching my tent in the garbage can.