Friday, February 28, 2014

Seize the Absurd Writes some Children's books.

I have always wanted to write children's books.
I get about two sentences into writing them and then I stop - I will share them with you anyway.

1. The Iphone and the Whale

2.  "I am hungry"
"I am hungry" - said the black hole. It ate a nearby solar system, a comet, and an alien named Christoph. It was still hungry. 
It ate a universe. It ate a parallel universe. Is that even possible? 
Whatever - It was still hungry...

3. The princess and the social media snafu. 
Exactly what it says. Next.

4. And the Layer Cake's Name was Joaquin.
Why would the master baker at Creme de la Creme make a cake as boring as Joaquin? Has the baker completely lost his marzipan? All the other fabulously decorated cakes tell Joaquin that he doesn't belong. Is it true?

5. The Pickles and the Peanut Butter.
One day Alex decides to make her own lunch. Her peanut butter pickle sandwich causes a stir in the school cafeteria. Alex is instantly a school wide celebrity. Everybody knows her name and she basks in the elementary school glory.
 Pretty soon though, all the kids are eating revolting food combinations- bologna and strawberry jam and chocolate chip tuna- YUCK. After a few days Alex isn't so sure that she wants to keep eating weird food - the thought of a peanut butter pickle sandwich is making her downright queasy. 

Self Help books for kids- and anxiously success oriented parents:

Baby Harvard Business Series: "Graham Cracker Tycoon" 
Through investment, financial analysis, and stealing I acquired 90% of today's daycare snack material. You can too.
Ready to be in the top percentage of apple juice holders? Read this book and learn how to amass a bland snack empire.

Ready Set - 99.9th percentile -Prepare Your Baby for Standardized Testing. 
Welcome new human beings! Our society bases a person's value on numbers from a scantron machine. Yesterday is the time to get ready for the SAT, ACT, GRE, MCAT, LSAT, and HAZMAT .  
Featuring reading comprehension questions for babies like the following: 
         Which one of the following best expresses the intent of the passage from goodnight moon?
               (A) Saying goodnight to a gazillion inanimate objects helps the bunny drift into                                           unconsciousness.
               (B) The old lady whispering hush is frustrated with the little bunny.
               (C) Since when do bunnies own cats?
               (D) Mush is this bunny's favorite bedtime snack.
Order today and receive a giant number two pencil.

Monday, February 17, 2014

NBC interviewers in the penalty box - Sochi Olympics

I love the Olympics.
I don't watch other sports. I watched the Superbowl only because there was five layer dip and a massive bag of tortilla chips. I watch the Olympics without food bribery.
I don't love the NBC interviewing stratagem.
 I think that NBC production should take an indefinite cross country ski trip to Siberia. Maybe a long time-out in in the penalty box.
         Their interviews seem intent on dragging the most painful story possible out of every athlete they come into contact with. Not that we don't want to hear their stories- if they want to tell us their life stories, cool. But whisking out painful moments of their lives right after they have competed in the most emotionally charged sports event in the world - is not politely asking someone  to tell you about their journey. NBC isn't encouraging Olympic athletes it is purposefully kicking them in the face.
NBC you are off team USA. Go home.

complaining- to come - but first this important message:

American Athletes out there- We are proud of you if you medal, we are proud of you if you fall. Thank you for representing us on the ice and snow today, we are cheering for you no matter what.
You didn't win- doesn't matter- you're still our hero.

P.S. Dear US Speed skating we love you unconditionally like that Katy Perry song.

P.P.S. I have no idea why NBC has it's head up a polar bear's butt. Ignore their crap please. Don't answer their questions if you don't want to. We are cool with that.

Ready for!~ Interviews that really pissed me off!

1. The Bode Miller interview 

Yesterday after Bode Miller won bronze in the men's Super-G. NBC managed to come up with the most outrageous sports interview I have yet seen.
It went something like this:
     I see that you just flew rapidly down a mountain- what were you thinking up there?
     How are you feeling?
     Remember that your brother is dead?
     Are you thinking about him today?
     Now how are you feeling?
     I see that tears are running down your face right now, how are you feeling?
 He later said that he was really thinking about his brother that day and that was part of the emotion that he felt, but even if he wasn't - adrenaline can make you bawl.
You can watch the video here- warning: it might just totally piss you off.
Bode Miller Interview NBC

After even the most insensitive person in the world could tell that he is tearing up - they keep asking him questions about his dead brother and they hold a camera close up which rivals close-ups in Les Miserables.
In fact "the miserables" is a perfectly good way to describe the viewing audience at that point.
I yelled more at the TV during the interview than during any sporting event I have watched at the Olympics to date. Appropriate phrases include: "DUDE. LEAVE HIM ALONE." and "NO. STOP."
At some point he just walks away from the interviewer.
Do they leave him alone? No.
Another camera man shows up from the other direction and films him crouched down beside the gate. A nearby audience member does their damnedest to interrupt the cameraman's line of vision by waving their hand in front of Bode.

Twitter exploded with some serious hatred for Christin Cooper- the interviewer.
Bode responded in a gentlemanly fashion not blaming the interviewer for what happened.
(Here is a link to an article about it: Bode Miller Interview - response)
Thanks for being a gentleman dude - but NBC shouldn't get off that easy.

If it was just this one interview we could say - hey why is that one interviewer such a jerk? But it is a trend that I have noticed throughout the Olympics.

2. Interview with Shani Davis

He just placed 11th in a race that he was expected to win. He gets off the ice and a reporter and camera annihilate him with questions -
Q: What happened out there today?
A: I had a really bad race - Started off like normal but the end of it didn't work out.
Q: Why do you think that happened?
A: I just had a really bad race.
Q: But why did you have a really bad race? I mean you are the best in the world right?
A: It just didn't happen for me today.
Q: Was it the suits?
He had a bad day. It happens. Have these people never played sports in their entire lives? Do they have no idea what it is like? Yes you train hard - you can build muscle and do sprints with a stupid parachute. You still have days where you feel the awesomeness and days where you don't. Poor Shani Davis is trying to explain that there sometimes is no why. And the camera just keeps being shoved in his face and the interviewer just keeps pushing.

3. Interview with Katie Uhlaender

 She missed the podium by four tenths of a second in skeleton. Four tenths of a second. She starts to tear up as she is asked by the interviewer about the death of her father. She is asked whether or not he would be proud of her. She pretty much says, "I am pretty sure he would be proud of me but I am kinda pissed about losing by this tiny margin." The interviewer also tells her that she will "have another shot in four years right?" That makes it all better. Thanks.

Unfortunately since these last two were not as big of a deal - I cannot find them online.
I usually write funny things here is a post I wrote during the summer Olympics:
Olympics of Blog Posting

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Greatest Love Story

It's Valentine's Day so I get to tell you my favorite love story.

Once upon a time a bunch of Greek men were all sitting around together being drunk and having a speech competition.*
The subject of the speech competition was love. 
Some people had given beautiful, rational, speeches about love - any of which would have put a decent person to sleep on the spot. 
Finally it was Aristophanes' turn. Some were worried that he would not be very serious because he was a comic playwright. To them he said, " I am not worried about saying something funny in my coming oration. That would be pure profit, and it comes with the territory of my Muse. What I'm worried about is that I might say something ridiculous." 
He did say something ridiculous. 
Something ridiculously false and absurdly true all at the same time. 

And it went something like this: 
Long ago human beings were very different. First off there were three kinds of people - male, female and androgynous. Secondly, they were fantastically odd looking. The shape of each person was completely round, with back and sides in a circle; they had four arms and legs and one head with two faces. They had two sets of reproductive organs and ears and eyeballs get it. They walked around and whenever they wanted to go fast, they stuck out all their eight limbs, and flipped head over heels, the way gymnasts do cartwheels. They were terribly fast at this - and it was quite dangerous because they charged everywhere like bowling balls.
They were round because they were descended from the heavenly bodies. Like the heavenly bodies they were powerful but unlike the heavenly bodies they were terribly behaved. They decided to attack the gods.

          Zeus and the other gods had a family meeting to speak about what could be done. On the one hand, the gods wanted to keep humanity around because they liked the sacrifices given to them. On the other hand, the human beings were attacking heaven so something had to be done to stop them. 
          Zeus said, "Hey other deities, I have a plan to put the kibosh on the misbehaving human beings. It does not even involve killing them off. I will simply blast them all in half. They will not be as strong and they will walk around on two legs instead of spinning about and making everyone dizzy. If they still run around idiotically and cause problems - I will split them in half yet again and they will have to get about by hopping around on one leg." 
        Zeus didn't wait for anyone else to agree with his plan because he did whatever he wanted anyway - so he just whacked them in half right then like fruit ninja. Apollo was given the job of sewing them up a bit but he got lazy around the middle so we have bellybuttons.
        But the human beings were so utterly distraught and alone without their opposite halves that they just lay around everywhere holding each other and dying of starvation. Zeus felt sorry for them because they were so pitiful. He solved their problem by flipping their reproductive organs round to the front so that they could have sex and be one person again.
And Aristophanes summed up his story about the origin of love by saying:  "So this is where love comes from, love calls the halves of our original nature back together and it tries to make one out of two and heal up our terrible alone-ness. love is the name for our pursuit of wholeness and our desire to be complete. Also we should behave ourselves if we don't want to end up half-faced creatures who get about by hopping on one leg. Let us respect the gods because it would be awful to have half a nose."
And what he said was obviously false and profoundly true.

(*this story comes from Plato's Symposium, I have bowdlerized it somewhat - and cut out some chunks because it is very lengthy. I am too lazy to cite every quotation but you can find the beginning of it at 189a)

An Aristophanes Valentine - what everybody has been waiting for.
If we only had one leg and we hopped about on it - would we also have half a butt?
I think that we would.
For some reason I find the one-legged hopping thing hilarious.

And also these additional valentines which I made this morning instead of studying:

Feb -RU-ary. Brew? Brew what? Beer? A magic potion? Stupid month.
Through extensive research I have discovered some possible alternative names for the month of February - for example some Old English terms for this month are: "solmonath" (meaning: mud month) and "Kalemonath" (meaning month of cabbage). A month named after kale! Health-nuts rejoice!

 No really. This could also be captioned "together forever". Not even that "get the legos apart without using your teeth machine" will fix this issue.
 Who likes my computer mouse painted hearts?

Another Lego Valentine because yes.
My thumb is in this picture because I am too lazy to crop it.

Doing great on that forth section.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Jury duty was unexpectedly cool. Part 3

Now that I have lured you into this triad of posts with jokes.

If you look up jury duty online you will find a million articles entitled:

How do I avoid Jury duty?
Here is my answer: Reconsider some crap and have an attitude adjustment. 

   According to my childhood the phrase "attitude adjustment" is usually indicator for the fact that you are about to be hit by a parental unit and or friend of the family who is close enough that they are not willing for you to grow up to be a snotbratturdrocket. If you are lacking in parental units willing to smack you up-side the head ask a close friend for help[1]
     What you should do is not be attempting to avoid jury duty. A significant number of people in California do not respond to jury summons. It seems to be something close to a judicial apathy epidemic. The consistent jury dodging of citizens has resulted in courts stepping up their penalty game for no-show jurors. But punishment isn't why you should go. 
 "But Liz you didn't start off with a great attitude. If I remember correctly you started off livid that you were stuck on a jury and you proceeded to be inclined towards irresponsible and immature behavior[2] ." 
True, I did not start off with a phenomenal attitude and of that I am not proud. But I changed my attitude, hence the word "adjustment". I imagine that if you are put on a week long jury that you won't start off so happy, but by the end of it you might remember what I am saying here.

Yes but…[3]

I have some important excuses:
   I have a life. Yes. Yes you do. Dead people do not have to report for jury duty. The courts are considerate like that.
   I have a job.  you get to participate in the the justice system which was created for your benefit and works to your benefit everyday whether you notice it or not.
   This is boring. Some of it is. We spent a significant chunk of a day looking through someones pay stubs. I hate pay stubs. I don't look at my own pay stubs. That is boring. But these pay stubs factor into a bigger, important question, "Does this person owe that person 500,000 dollars?" That's a life altering question for these two people. That is a question that they have been waiting for three years to get an answer to. That is something that you do not get to be bored about.
   I don't like America. America kills innocent people, puts dictators in power and is generally considered the military bully of the world. We hold political prisoners in a fashion frowned upon by those concerned with justice and we excel at sticking members of our society into prisons.
Do you see the difference between the second and third sentences? Hint it involves the word "we". Am I solely responsible for these things? No. But I am as a citizen of this country a part of the problem, the solution, and the apathy which turns our problems to stone.
There are things that I don't like about America. That's why we serve to make this a better place.

Next time you get that summons letter, think about the opportunities you have: 

1. Serve. Power is easy, even Machiavelli can work with that. It might be hard to get but it sure is easy to want. When was the last time you wanted to serve? Why do you think the world is impressed with Pope Francis? Because the man wants to serve, even more than that, he lives to serve.
Here you are in a room full of random people with the opportunity to practice service and wanting to serve.

2. You have the opportunity to devote your time to help other people make important decisions. Other people have done the work of collecting evidence and excluding evidence that they believe is unfounded and might -bias your opinion. You get to sit here listen to stuff and help with a decision. Congrats.

3. Law is something that we benefit from constantly and pay no attention to. Yes there are certain laws that you don't agree with. But isn't it nice that if I hit you with my car we can settle these issues without a Hatfield and McCoy status family feud? Having certain rules that govern our society is a good thing. What an old person thing to say. I think I might be getting old.

4. Trial by jury is intended to protect individuals from the power of the government. It also gives people the opportunity to have a decision made by some average people. Judges do not exactly qualify as average people - in terms of income, education, or experience. You get to be in a group of average people - hopefully with a limited amount of bias but a wide variety of experience.

[1] Actually I am pretty sure that that if you have good friends and you say, "I feel this way but I should not." Your good friends (who have read Nicomachean Ethics, of course) will tell you, "feeling inclinations towards bad things, is a bad sign. You need to get your virtue together by not acting on those inclinations."
One of the other jurors said that they did not believe the character witnesses were really telling the truth. The other juror said something like: “Well I know my friends would lie for me – so.”
And I was like, “Oh... My friends wouldn't.” 
"I have better friends." I thought.  

[2] I would like to point out that "inclined to" and "acting on" are fortunately not the same thing. Though I did once jokingly hit myself in the face with the juror notebook while some sort of drama involving confusion between the words "snorkel" and "norco" held the attention of the judge, lawyers, and various witnesses. The aforementioned notebook was an important part of my week. We were at some point thanked by one of the lawyers for taking diligent notes. He was unaware that a substantial quantity of my note taking involved me writing out things  like: "yes we get your point already" and "this does not show what Lawyer 1 is claiming that it shows" and "objection. Profound jury suffering at the hands of this lawyers abominable rhetoric...your honor"

[3] "Yes but..." Is the most devious way of saying, "I agree with you ...but actually I don't" or "I am going to start out all subservient in an attempt to dupe you and then do whatever I want".