Archive for June, 2009
I just got back from a roadtrip out to the Southwest, an area I absolutely love and desire to live in someday, and as a memento I brought back a coffee mug from Roswell, a town that by all I could tell was doing its best to try and move on from that unfortunate incident that allegedly happened so many years ago but that can’t because that incident is the single best thing to ever happen to the town’s economy. Anyway, this morning I put the cup under my single cup coffee maker at work, put in the same amount of coffee/water I would for my normal corporate mug and hit start. I turned to my computer and perused the internet while waiting for my coffee to brew when after a few minutes I heard what sounded like a babbling brook coming from the other side of my cubicle. Since my battery operated zen water garden is dead I knew it couldn’t be that, so I turned around to find coffee overflowing the mug and spilling all over my desk. Not good. Now I am stuck in the unenviable position of having to choose between my corporate mug which is perfectly sized for the amount of coffee I drink, or my Southwest mug, which doesn’t hold as much coffee but makes me smile and feel good about myself. If this isn’t a perfect parallel for the two competing desires in my life, I don’t know what is. On one hand I have my corporate life, one that provides me with a healthy salary that allows me to live a very comfortable life, albeit a fairly unsatisifying one, and on the other hand is my desire to pack up everything I own, move to the Southwest and start a life out there, one that would be far less profitable but infinitely more rewarding. Sadly, as I’m sure will happen, I will return to the corporate mug which promises both security and a healthy portion of coffee but that ultimately leaves me feeling empty and desiring more, thereby creating a vicious cycle of material gains being used to supplement true happiness. Or I could just reduce the amount of water I put in the coffee pot.
If you’ve ever wondered how the military buys equipment, here is a useful primer that breaks the acquisition process down into an easily understood parable:
A car pulls up in front of Best Buy and four people get out: A soldier, sailor, airman, and marine. All four work at the Pentagon and were sent there by their wives to buy a new DVD player because their old ones broke.
The airman looks around, spends an hour talking to the salesman about refresh rate, pixel count, number of colors, and every other techincal specification before determining that nothing matches his requirements so he decides to put a deposit down for the next generation DVD player that is scheduled to come out in a year.
The sailor buys a blu-ray player, even though blu-ray players don’t play regular dvds, but he figures that this will motivate his wife to let him upgrade his regular dvds to high def.
The marine buys a VHS player because that’s what he’s been using for fifty years.
The soldier comes out with a blender because he has no clue what he’s buying, why he needs it, or what it’s supposed to do.
In the end, all four were left with no way to play their DVDs but had still managed to spend their total budget for the year.
Now imagine that instead of a DVD player, each service member was buying a weapon, and instead of a budget of $200, they had $20,000,000,000.
And thus ends the lesson.
When life gives you lemons, buy another plane ticket and take an extra day of vacation
It’s not often I get to use the word ‘necromancy’ at work in the context of one of my programs
Futurama’s coming back!
I’m not going to say this is the greatest thing that could happen to television, but…THIS IS THE GREATEST THING THAT COULD HAPPEN TO TELEVISION!!! This is so great it actually beats out ‘Pushing Daisies’ being back on the air (sort of).
Futurama, for those of you who don’t know, is a cartoon comedy that takes place in the year 3000. It’s loaded with sci-fi / geeky humor (i.e. Madison square gardens is now Madison cubed gardens) and if you take even the smallest amount of joy out of sci fi shows, you will love futurama. I’m pretty sure Futurama has referenced every major sci fi show (and plenty of obscure ones too) that has ever been made: Star Trek, Star Wars, Battle Star Galactica, Planet of the Apes (part two no less!)…and those are just the obvious ones I can think of off the top of my head. Unfortunately, Futurama’s greatest strength (geeky humor) was also its downfall, because if you didn’t get the jokes (which required some sort of knowledge of sci fi shows or in many cases, advanced mathematics) then the show would come off as a complete dud. In other words, it was a show for intelligent people, which is a small enough market, but it also aired on Fox, which isn’t exactly known for its intellectual programming. Basically, it was like giving full Harvard scholarships to 5th graders – they might show up and laugh as the right times, but you know they’re not really grasping the material.
The other reason the show never really caught on outside of the sci fi crowd is that there are very few quotable lines. As anyone who watches TV knows, a show’s popularity is directly proportional to the percent of the show that can be quoted during your normal day. Take for instance the ‘Simpsons:’ Arguably one of the things that makes the show so popular is that the writing is highly quotable, and because the show has been on for so long, there is a line for just about any situation you can think of. Seriously, next time you’re sitting in a boring meeting, just think of the strangest thing that happened to you that day and then try and see if you can come up with an appropriate Simpsons’ line. Odds are that you won’t have to think very hard. And of course all that quoting helps to spread awareness of ths show, and the greater the awareness, the greater the potential audience. Family Guy is another great example (I know, I know, one steals from the other…deal with it) There are so many quotable lines in Family Guy (since at least 35% of the show are one liners) that you can’t help but quote them throughout your day, which in turn spreads awareness and makes people laugh, and helps to boost the show’s popularity.
Futurama has no quotable lines. I’m a pretty big ‘quoter’ and not once have I ever quoted a Futurama line during the normal course of my day, which is even more strange when you consider that I used to be in the Navy, and had ample opportunities to quote lines from the different starship captains (notably Zap Brannigan) that are regular characters in the show. Alas, not once have I ever quoted a Futurama line that didn’t come out feeling forced and then hang in the air like a nasty fart the day after a heavy night of drinking and buffalo wings. Futurama fans learned very quickly that one did not quote Futurama except in the presence of other Futurama fans, which of course created the paradox of, ‘how can you tell a Futurama fan unless they quote Futurama, which they don’t do except in the presence of Futurama fans.’ I even tried to come up with my top ten favorite lines and I couldn’t do it! So, please, comment on your favorite Futurama lines and we’ll see how many we can get – my guess is that you’ll come up with fewer than you think!
The other night my wife and I made fajitas. Normally, we rely on the packages of ‘fajita spices’ to provide the flavor but the other night I decided to see what would happen if I did not use the packet and instead used fresh ingredients. I searched through my fridge and spice rack to see what might work and came up with the following: Two limes, salt, pepper, tobasco, cilantro, and garlic powder. I then looked at the back of the spice packet to see if I had missed anything. It turns out that the only spices listed in the packet were salt, pepper, and garlic! Aside from that, there was a lot of ‘high fructose corn syrup’ and other such ingredients. With that smug feeling of vindication that comes from knowing you’ve outfoxed the spice people I began to mix the requisitie ingredients in with the turkey, peppers, onions, and other goodies we had sizzling. It turned out fantastic! The biggest difference between using fresh spices versus the packet was the weight. The entire meal tasted lighter than when we use the packaged stuff. I don’t know why, probably has something to do with all the preservatives and artificial ingredients that come in the package, but after we were done eating we both remarked how less bloated we felt. What a revelation! From now on I’m going to make a concerted effort to only using fresh ingredients and try and avoid as many ‘pre packaged foods’ as possible. Fortunately, we have an ‘Aerogarden’ that provides us with as many fresh herbs as we can use! Well, three at least, but that will do for now! Man, I can’t wait to have a house with a garden…