People on the Bus Part I: Rockstar

Now that I ride the bus everyday, I encounter all kinds of people I wouldn't normally run into. And since I take the same bus every morning and evening I recognize them, like the supporting characters in the critically acclaimed, low ratings sitcom of my daily life. I've been meaning to document them here for the enjoyment of all, but I kept forgetting...until today.

Character #1 is a guy I call Rockstar. He got the name because he looks like how I imagine David Cook will look in about 10 years. Long brown hair, goatee, Bono jacket with more straps and zippers than are actually practical.

Anyway, today he went so far over the top that I remembered I had been meaning to blog about him. He was wearing a fur-lined, ear-flapped, Russian Comrade hat. And it was big. I realize that all furry ear-flap hats are big, but this was huge. Ludicrously big. Burt-Reynold's-cowboy-hat big.

Sorry, Rockstar. For the winter, you shall be known as Turd Ferguson.

For the record, that furry hat picture comes courtesy of Some people really know how to nail their target market with a domain name and I applaud them.

I Finally Figured It Out

My subconscious mind is kind of like Clippy.

Today I was attempting to drive to Mayfair Mall. The mall is about a mile from St. Mary's Church, the only other reason I ever venture into that section of town.

My subconscious brain popped up with a little yellow speech bubble that said "It looks like you're trying to get to St. Mary's. I'll drive you there." My conscious brain was wondering what it is that people seem to like about the song "Wonderful Christmastime" so it made no objections.

Once I finally came to the conclusion that there is nothing to say in favor of Wonderful Christmastime, my mind decided to check on the progress of my driving. I was nearly to St. Mary's and quite a bit past the turnoff to the mall. So I pulled into a gas station parking lot.

As I entered the parking lot, I saw a friend filling up at one of the pumps. I waved, he waved, I drove out the other side of the parking lot. It occurred to at that point to wonder whether he thought that I was insane or that I just prefer to use parking lots to avoid major intersections. The best explanation I could come up with was "My subconscious mind is kind of like Clippy..."

Helpful Advice

When you start seeing commercials for hooking up with hot local girls, you're officially up too late watching TV.

Still Kickin

I know I've gone all inblognito lately. For those of you who care, it's been busy at work. For the rest of you (or rather, "the other one of you"), I'll just go ahead and post some stuff I'm thinking.

I only watch Craig Ferguson every couple of months. I like the show but it's just on too late for a working stiff such as mahself. It's like when you only see your little cousin every few months. To everybody else, he looks pretty much like he did the day before but to you she's suddenly 6 inches taller. And apparently of a different gender. That's what late night blogging does for you.

Anyway, what I'm saying is that Craig Ferguson looks increasingly haggard every time I watch the show. I think it's no longer an intentional stylistic choice so much as a "rolling out of bed and going directly on set." He doesn't drink anymore, but he's found another way to wake up hungover at 4pm.

So that's what's on my mind today. Remember, you did this to yourself. Nobody made you come here and read this.

Anybody watching the Marquette Game?

Did the announcers make a bet over how many times they can use the phrase "junkyard dogs" before the producer starts screaming into their earpieces? Someone is winning a ton of money right now.

Best... Google Search... Ever!

Comic Book GuyAccording to Google Analytics someone found this blog with the following search phrase:
What name does hooters come up as on your bank statement?
I have to wonder if this guy is trying to hide it from his wife, or attempting to get reimbursed at work, or wondering how he's going to explain to the charges to the treasurer of his school's feminist organization that he tried so hard to become a member of because the vice president is cute and sat by him in Bio but never talked to him because he was socially awkward and short and didn't ok where am I going with this?

Anyway, Mr. Guy-Who-Is-Trying-to-Hide-a-Hooters-Visit is from Kentucky and visited my site on November 12. For shame! You know who you are.

This Post Brought to You By Fixodent and Mueslix!

I'm old. Those of you who know me know that this post is belated. I have been old for week now.

Or maybe, last week I was reminded again that I am old. The truth is, I've been old for more than a week. I learned about the Jonah Brothers when CNN popped up an entertainment headline proclaiming that they were virgins. "Bully for them," I thought "Who the hell are they? What are they doing on my lawn?" Some type of musical act the kids are all listening to nowadays. These kids and their Knuckleback and Naomi Wyoming. Lawrence Welk would have shown those punks what... where was I? Where am I?

Oh yeah, how old I am. Older, in fact, than:

  • A pitcher who threw a no-hit inning in the All Star game.
  • The female lead in her third season on a primetime TV show.

  • The guy who led my fantasy baseball team's pitching staff two seasons ago.

  • The guy who won the NBA Slam Dunk Contest two season ago

  • And lest you think I'm only including young people excelling in young people's professions...The author of Story of a Soul and a Doctor of the Church.

People younger than me

Well, I guess it could be worse. At least I'm not:

People Less Fortunate Than Me

Well, you know what they say: You're only as old as the police can prove you are. Peace out, homies!


All Kind of Fun Pictures!

It's Look At What Happens When You Leave Software Unsupervised Day (LAWHWYLSUD) at the Flametroll today. All of these were captured on my computer within the last 48 hours.

No Error
Well, that's good to know. With software like Rapid SQL, you need a notifier when unusual events happen. (See below.)

Yes or No
Are you asking me or telling me?

If you press No, it pops the message up again. Apparently, they're telling me.

When you allow algorithms determine headline placement, unfortunate things can happen.

hyper guy
According to Google Analytics, someone found The Flametroll with this search term.

Sad fact #1: Someone searched this phrase.

Sad fact #2: This phrase actually occurs on my blog. I can only imagine how proud my mother must be. There's a reason I don't talk to her about blogging. At least I had the decency to hit the space bar a couple of times.

What the Heck Facebook: Part N+3 of an M+3 Part Series

I don't mean to turn this blog into all What The Heck Facebook, all the time. But facebook could really do me a favor by not being so flat-out bizarre.


I've been looking at this picture for hours and I can't make heads nor tails of it. My eyes are starting to hurt and my roommate is wondering why I've been holed up in my room so long. He's probably making plans for what to tell the police when a strange rotting smell starts coming out of my vents.

Why is this woman wearing a tank top and a head band? More importantly, why is she standing on front of a pen of cows? How does that relate to nice guys finishing last? Am I finishing last? Does life have any inherent purpose? Why do we call cats "cats" instead of "dogs"? Would the world be any different if we did it the other way? Everything I thought I understood about the universe is crumbling around me.

What the Heck Facebook: Part N+2 of an M+2 Part Series

And just in case a Proverbs 31 Woman isn't your style, there's another option:

What the Heck Facebook: Part N+1 of an M+1 Part Series

Today's special offering on facebook: a Proverbs 31 woman!

For, as Proverbs 31 teaches us:
Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.
Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.

Wow, I know marriage can be tough, but that seems a little extreme to me. Definitely not the best way to sell a dating service, if you ask me.

What? I'm reading the wrong section, you say? Speak up, it's hard to hear you from all the way over here.

I guess this ad must referring to the second half of Proverbs 31.
She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. [...]
She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.

That's important, I suppose. We can't have the maidens of our household starving to death. How on earth would you explain that to the police? "Sir, didn't you used to have 6 maidens in this household?" "Yes, officer, but we went away for the weekend and forgot to leave food out for them. They ate one of their own."

And if they want to stay in my household, they better not be vegetarians. "Give them meat!" I'll say to Mrs. Proverbs31-Flametroll. "None of that tofu garbage for the maidens of my household!"

And I definitely won't be marrying someone who can't handle a distaff. What are they teaching in home-ec these days? (I'm a little concerned by the number of hands Mrs. P31-F is going to have. I don't consider it a requirement that she be able to have hands on a distaff and hands on a spindle at the same time.)

She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.

This one's important in Milwaukee. There's going to be a lot of snow, so my kids better be wearing bright red when it comes.

This post made possible by tacky facebook advertisers everywhere... and viewers like you.

Live-blogging the Health Care Speech

Some highlights (I'll see if I can find these on youtube later):

Joe Biden in the background nodding and blinking too much, like a girl at a bar trying to convince her friends she's sober.

The dressed and shaved panhandler with a sign reading "What bill?" I think it might have originally said "Will bathe."

That one guy holding up a fat copy of the bill during a standing ovation, not smiling or clapping, just holding.

President Obama just threatened people who talk smack about the bill. "I will call you out." As he said earlier "My door is always open." According to some sources, an intial draft continued "And I am always prepared to take this outside if that's how you want to settle this, mofo."

The big fake smile John McCain made every time Obama complimented him. Something like "Hahahahaf-youhahaha!"

That one time Obama mentioned the Republicans and they all sat there for a second before standing up. Then they kept sneaking glances at each other like "Oh my gosh, he just talked about us! Obama just talked about us on national TV! I'm totally going to post this in my LiveJournal tonight!"*

Today on Lack of Context Theater: "We plan to set up panels of bureaucrats to deny coverage to senior citizens" -- President Obama

I'm not sure about other channels but CNBC didn't have any audio of the Republican's response speech. We switched over to CNN and Larry King was interviewing John McCain. Fun fact: their combined ages predate the Civil War. Bonus fun fact: Neither of them was alive last time the Cubs won the World Series. Bonus bonus fun fact: Larry King hasn't appeared on television in over a decade, since being replaced by a life-like mannequin in the later '90s.

Larry King-droid 2000 just implied that McCain may not have found Obama's compliments particularly flattering. I have to give CNN credit, the algorithms for perception of human emotion are pretty good.

Barney Frank and Ben Stein are coming on next, so I'm definitely not changing the channel. I hope Barney Frank is appearing via hologram.

Who looks drunker today? Biden or Frank? Did they just pump the whole auditorium full of nerve gas? Or maybe whiskey vapor.

King-Droid almost called Ben Stein and Barney "Ben Franklin." The jokes write themselves.

Anderson Cooper switched the "p" in ownership with a "t".

The Jameson just came out, so that means it's about time to wrap this up!

* Basically the same expression I was wearing all night.

Quote of the Day

Googling for "what to eat before a marathon", this was one of the answers:
I would eat one banana and a Cliff Bar prior to a race. The Cliff Bar guarantees that the race will only be the second most physically challenging part of your day.

What the Heck Facebook: Part N of an M Part Series

This ad showed up on my sidebar today:


Apparently advertisers have caught on that Facebook's demographic is aging. Some users may need a bit of pharmaceutical assistance before they find other facebook ads appealing.

Your Math For the Day

Update: The more I look at this code, the less certain I am that it's correct. But since it's here, I'm leaving it.

I finally wrapped my head around the Birthday Paradox today. You can go ahead and look that up on Wikipedia, but it will make your brain melt. I see all of those wacky mathy symbols and start wondering what's for dinner. I'll to explain in a way that any old moron can understand, because that's basically all I can figure out.

The basic question is "how many people do you have to get together before the odds are better than 50/50 that two of them share a birthday?" A common initial reaction is to say that it would be
183 (this would be more than one half of 365). If you think about that for a minute, you'll realize that 180 183 people can't be the answer because each person relates to each other person. There are a lot of possible connections. So how do you find exactly how many?

My first thought was that it was a problem of graphing all possible connections between the n number of people in the room. To simplify, I'll illustrate with four:

Using that logic, there are 4 people with 6 possible connections. So whatever number of people would make over
183 connections would be the correct number. The formula for that is recursive: edges(n) = (n-1) + edges(n-1). I'll save you the math, the answer is 19 20. But according to wikipedia, that's not correct either.

Thinking that over again, I realized that for every person in the room who doesn't match anyone else, a birthdate is eliminated. We no longer have to take that date into consideration when checking anyone after that. So the odds of a match increase with every person who doesn't match. This is unlike, say, flipping a coin where the odds of a result are independent of the earlier results. It's more like picking the Ace of Spades from a deck of cards. With every card that isn't the Ace of Spades, there are fewer cards to choose from can be it.

The birthday paradox works the same way. For the first guy (Arthur), there is a 1/365 chance that he matches with the next person he talks to (Brad). Then there's a 1/365 chance of Arthur being a match with the guy after that (Carl), etc. So the odds of him matching someone else are (1/365)^n (where n is the total number of people in the room).

But when Arthur has spoken to everyone in the room, we know that his birthday (let's say Jan 1) is not shared with anyone in the room. Therefore we don't even think of Jan 1 as being an option for the next guy. So Brad will have a 1/364 chance of matching with Carl, a 1/364 chance of matching with Dave, a 1/364 chance of matching with Eric, etc. That is, his total odds of matching with someone are (1/364)^(n-1). (The n-1 is because we already know he doesn't match with Arthur. We don't want to count that combination twice.)

The odds that Arthur doesn't match anyone AND Brad doesn't match anyone are calculated by multiplying the two sets of odds together: (1/365)^n * (1/364)^(n-1). This continues for each person in the room. Subtract from n and multiply by the odds of the previous guys. The formula eventually works out to:

(1/(365-0))^n * (1/(365-1))^(n-1) * (1/(365-2))^(n-2) ... (1/365-(step_number-1))^1

If that looks like the unreadable stepchild of Lisp and Perl, I also wrote a nice succinct Ruby scipt to sum it up:

#!/usr/bin/ruby -w

def birthday_paradox(people, days)
  odds = 1.0
  people.downto(1) do | i |
    odds_of_nonmatch_this_round =
      ((days.to_f - 1) / days.to_f) ** (i - 1)
    odds *= odds_of_nonmatch_this_round
    days -= 1
  return 1 - odds

Keep running that until you get a number over 0.5.

*SPOILER* 23. Now you are enlightened! Hopefully. Otherwise, it's probably because I explained it badly. You can have your money back on this post.

Edit (08/28/09 11:30am): I fixed a couple of errors. Notes to self: Don't do long strings of addition in your head. You will get them wrong. Also, in a math post about statistics, don't round numbers to the nearest ten. Half of 365 is not 180.

And Now For Weather...

When I was checking the weather yesterday, I noticed that it was listed as "partly sunny" all day until 7pm. That's when the listing changed over the night-themed weather icons. At that point, the forecast changed to "partly cloudy."

Is there a legitimate difference, or was the site just too embarassed to use the phrase "partly moony"?

Plusgood Miniplenty Eliminates Need For Ownlife

Let me be the first to say, President Obama's health care plan is a flawless idea.

If there's one thing that will fix our flawed and complicated health care system, it's a half-thought-out, largely unread monstrosity of a law rushed through as quickly as humanly possible (or Congressionally possible, I guess. Humans have to get their work done before they can take a month-long vacation).

Anyway, my small and uneducated words will not do justice to this golden gift from on high. I make my pronouncement not because I have something of worth to add (for, lo, I am unworthy to loosen the cap of his Bud Light) but because I want to make sure my intentions are not misunderstood. Citizens are urged to report bloggers who are promoting ungoodthink about healthcare, and I wish to register myself as an goodthinker now rather than wait for another election in which I can atone for not voting for Obama.

Heed this pronouncement!:
There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. [...] If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to

Anyone promoting ungoodthink will feel the fierce, fiery, flaming (farty?) fury of Flametroll rhetoric! Don't make me report you!

This is Happening Way Too Much to Be a Coincidence...

Who here is from Brazil? And how do you make up 10% of my blog's total hits*?

* That last question was rhetorical. No one else actually reads my blog.

President Obama: I Neither Know nor Care About Beer

Well, not in so many words. But he chose to have a Bud Light.

Down the Rabbit Hole

I was bored recently, so I read some of my old blog posts. You may think that reading your own blog is the innermost layer of the narcissism onion. It is not. Blogging about reading your own blog is even worse.


On the highway today, I saw a license plate that I thought said "MARK WTF". I laughed, wondering if that's what Mark's friends said to him when he bought that expensive SUV in this economy.

As I got closer, I saw that it actually said "MARX WYF". That's seems unlikely, as Jenny von Westphalen died in 1881. I guess it actually must have been a shortened form of what the driver really wanted to have on her license plate: "I'M MARRIED TO MARK SO STAY BACK YOU HUSSIES!" Unfortunately, those doggone license plate length limits and lack of punctuation made that message difficult to send. I just don't feel like the new plate packs the same wallop.

Abashing The Cat: Just as Wrong as it Sounds

Every so often I walk in on my roommate's cat straddling this rainbow feather duster we have laying around the house. You may not think a cat is capable of looking embarrassed, but you've probably never caught one doing that either. He looks up and meows something like the cat equivalent of "This isn't what it looks like! I was doing the Heimlich...I mean we were rearranging the furniture...I mean...ehh forget it" then we both feel awkward and we avoid making eye contact for the rest of the day.

Go Iranians!

When I'm Sixty Five

We got a new online 401k tracking system at work last week. I was looking over it and found that my retirement date is scheduled for 2050. I hope they develop flying cars by then so that I can be part of the first generation of old people to obstruct traffic in three dimensions.

Maybe four, even, if scientists get cracking on wormholes.

New Design

We're trying out a new design here at the Flametroll. I'm sure you'll like it. If not, put a sock in it because I run this blog for my amusement not yours.

It's Kind of Gross Up There

I keep seeing this commercial for a place called Sybaris. It's a... uhh..."resort" for... umm... "romantic getaways." If that sounds sleazy, you haven't even seen the commercial.

I'll let you ponder that for a bit.

Recovered your sanity now? Cool. Anyway, I don't know if it was such a wise decision to name the place something that sounds so much like syphilis. Might as well call it "Gonorrh-otica". Or as my roommate suggested, "Herplex."

It turns out that Sybaris was a legendary Greek island of pleasure. So apparently it was named by an out of touch literature professor. Or maybe just an literature professor who's a total perv. I suspect that's a problem for a lot of them. I mean, they can see dozens of phallic symbols in a chapter of The Scarlet Letter when I wasn't even sure a lot of the chapters included so much as a plot.

Anyway, that's what's been on my mind lately. I guess that's why people have stopped asking.

Come On Get Down Chuck Up With the Sickness

I saw people vomit on back to back days this weekend.

They say you should start a story off with a line that will catch people's attention. I think that should do it.

Yesterday, I was working a beer stand a Miller Park for the Brewers/White Sox game. If there's two towns whose fans know how to drink, it's Chicago and Milwaukee. For Yankee/Mets fans, drunkenness is mainly a means to increase their level of belligerence. For Philadelphians, it's not so much a drink as a projectile. For Brewers/Cubs/Sox fans, on the other hand, drinking beer is an end in itself.

Anyway, around the fourth inning, an usher...umm...ushered a girl over to a folding chair behind our stand. He said she wasn't feeling well and walked off. Almost immediately, the girl puked all over. I ran to get the usher, who didn't seem all that plussed. He called maintenance for a cleanup. The girl disappeared. I assume she was taken away from our beer stand so she wouldn't be a walking (or rather unsteadily sitting) anti-drunkenness PSA.

We sold four kegs of beer during the course of the game. With foam included, that turns out to produce a lot of runoff. It all goes down into a tank, which had to be emptied out once the game ended. So there I was, emptying what was probably a 40-gallon tank through a tiny hose into a 5 gallon bucket. I felt a little bit like Hercules, not in the god-like superhuman strength sense, but more in the endless dull repetitive task sense. Emptying the Augean bilge bucket.*

There was nowhere else to dump the bucket, so I took it into the nearest bathroom to empty it down the sink (gross, I know, but that's what they told me to do). On my way in, an usher warned me that I couldn't clean yet because there was still someone in there. I told him I was just going in to dump my bucket and he understood that I was not using a euphemism.

Inside the bathroom, I saw a pair of feet under the last stall in the row. I didn't think much of it, and went out to refill the bucket. I came in again and the feet were still there. By my fifth-ish time into the bathroom, the usher had apparently become concerned for the person still in the stall. Three police officers went in to check on the occupant.

An officer knocked on the stall door. "Are you ok in there?" No response. "Is everything ok?" No response. "This is the police. We're just here to make sure you're alright." No response. An officer went into the adjoining stall and looked over the divider.

There are a number of things I expected the officers to say right about then. "Do you want us to call the paramedics?" or "Sir please put your pants on." Something along those lines. Instead, what I heard will remain forever imbedded in my memory.

"Ma'am, are you aware that you're in a men's restroom?"

Oh yeah, I guess I should complete the story I promised you at the beginning of the post. I saw a guy by the side of the road throwing up next to his car this morning.

*"Bilge bucket" is a great word and I'm disappointed it's taken me five years to actually use it in a blog

I've Been Saying This For Years

Not so insane now am I?

Am I?


Didn't think so.

I'm Not Sure Whether this is an Error or Not

Tom Waits
"He's passed out in the back right now. When he sobers up, I'll ask him about tour dates and get back to you."

He's Still Posting?!?

Sorry, I know I've been filling up your RSS feeds lately. But I keep getting interesting spam, so what do you want me to do?

When I saw this one, I was so amused by the Gmail "preview" sentence, that I just had to open it (after checking for attachments of course).

Hi Friend,

I am Melissa Agnes Able, 25 yrs old girl in search of a man who understands love as trust and faith rather seeing it as a way of fun always but a matured man with sense of humour. I’m interested in having a relationship with you and I want to know more about you, let see if we can share common interest together.

I think we should be friends and get acquainted, cause you seem pretty fun, and cute! (It’s ever so hard to tell in this digital world :) anyway, I want to get a response from you...Then maybe we could chat sometime! You know what they say, appearance wins over the eyes, but personality wins over the heart...haha.

I believe we can start from here; if you don’t mind you can email me back with brief introduction of your self and I shall tell you more details that you will like to know about me including pictures of me so you can see how beautiful I am. Enjoy your beautiful day, talk to you very soon.


[Ed: yes, it really was in Comic Sans]

A "matured[sic] man with sense of humour"? You clearly haven't been reading my blog, Melissa.

I don't think I've ever had a relationship start with "I think we should be friends." I guess we can get the define-the-relationship and the breakup talks over all on the same day. That will certainly save some time.

Also, she thinks I'm cute. This is my Gmail user picture: Me Lots of descriptions come to mind: serious, studious, pompous, self-absorbed, sepia-tinted. I'm sure you can think of plenty more; feel free to put them in the comments so I can keep my raging ego in check.

"You know what they say, appearance wins over the eyes, but personality wins over the heart...haha." Actually I've never heard anyone say that, but I can overlook your awkward over-long made-up proverb because you actually spelled out "haha." I appreciate good onomatopoeic email laughter. Thank you for not LOLing.

In fact, having passed that hurdle the only thing standing between you and this sepia-tinted hunk is that you agree to the Scrabble/President naming rules for my children. In fact I was just discussing those rules with Bobby the other day. I think laying down the rules for naming your hypothetical progeny is a great conversation starter for a first date. "The best part" Bobby said "is that they'll all be first dates."

So anyway, Melissa, I hope we can keep in contact. I should tell you that I'm filthy rich in Nigeria. If you don't mind sending me your bank account numbers, I can get that money into the United States and leave you a healthy share of it. Please do be keeping correspondance in order for ease of transferring appreciated!

Tonight's Nightmare Material Brought to You By...

Or maybe he's a Bond villain

No, this isn't a before-and-after shot of Major Toht from Raiders of the Lost Ark. It's an artist and his art. Keep reminding yourself of that.

Sex-C Time!

I decided to check my spam filter to make sure I wasn't missing the email from the previously mentioned Acer lady. Her email was not there, but there was an email warning me to "Beware of Undefined Sex!!!" I'm not sure what undefined sex is, but I have a guess.

#include <stdio.h>
#include <sexlib.h>

    int* person;

I'm not sure what exactly would happen, but it would end badly for sure.

In Which I Adminster My Own Tech Support in Spite of the Tech Support Lady's Attempts to Stop Me

I bought a monitor for my laptop last week. It's 23" and pretty great, when it works. Which is not now. Now it doesn't work at all. I'm pretty decent with electronic equipment, and I've tried every permutation of plugging, unplugging and pushing buttons on this thing. No dice.

So I called Acer's help line. After taking my information, the monitor's information, asking me what the serial number of my computer is (it's a Mac and does not have an Acer SI number, strangely enough), she finally got down to troubleshooting.

"Unplug the monitor and hold the power button for 30 seconds."

"From the computer or from the power?"


Now I have no idea what effect you might get from holding down the power button on an unplugged monitor, but she's the Acer person not me. So I do. Unremarkably nothing happens.

She asks me what's wrong now. I explain that it's the same thing that was wrong before. Befuddled, she puts me on hold.

Next she tells me to plug the monitor back into the power and the computer (which we computer science majors refer to as "the actual way to use a monitor"). I do. Oddly enough, the problem persists. Her telling me to do so does not make it behave any differently from when I do it without her telling me to (tangent: that reminds me of a joke.)

Ok, she says, it appears to be a problem with the monitor. No kidding, huh. All I have to do is send it back to them (I'll pay for shipping of course). I ask where to send it to and she won't tell me. "I'll forward it to you" she says several times. I know this is crap because I never remember to forward emails to people unless they're physically sitting next to me asking for them. And there is no further way for me to get in contact with her once this conversation ends.

So sure enough, it's 10 hours later and I still have not received this mysterious email. So here's what I'm going to have to do tomorrow: pack the monitor up into its box, call Acer again and interrogate this undisclosed shipping location out of some lowly grunt, go to the post office, pay through the $crude_body_part to have it shipped, wait 2 to 4 to 26 weeks for Acer to fix it or send me another one. And it just occurs to me that I'm in the process of moving to a new apartment and I'm going to have to convince the Acer grunt I talk to tomorrow to change my shipping address to the new place because there's no way they're going to be sending my monitor back before the end of the month.

Thanks Acer! (PS, your website sucks. There is no excuse for having dozens of broken links scattered across your UNITED STATES ENGLISH-LANGUAGE PAGES!!! AND NOW YOU HAVE ME TYPING IN CAPITAL LETTERS I'M JUST GOING TO HAVE TO TAKE A DEEP BREATH AND THINK ABout something more relaxing.

Man in ape suit sought for trying to steal bananas


Another Serious Post!?!?

I've been pretty hard on Barack Obama (I argued at one point that he had literally done nothing clearly right in his first few months in office). But his plan for closing Guantanamo Bay seems reasonably well thought-out. For example the proposed categories of prisonser:
-- Those who have violated American criminal laws and will be tried in federal courts;

-- Those who violated the laws of war and are best tried through military commissions;

-- Those who have been ordered released by the courts;

-- Those who can be transferred safely to another country;

-- Those who cannot be prosecuted, but pose a clear danger to the American people.


Those seem like sensible distinctions. There's something sort of commonsensically Thomistic about splitting hairs until you actually know what kind of hair you're dealing with.

Interesting Street Preacher Encounter

I was walking up the steps of the library when a kid who looked maybe 20 said "Excuse me, sir," [Ed: Sir???] "do you have a minute?"

Me: Ok...
Kid: Do you know Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior?
Me: Yes.
Kid: Cool. Don't ever lose Him. Have a nice day.
Me: You too.

That kid was cool. I've rarely run into street evangelists who seemed to care about me and what I have to say. Generally when I tell them I'm a Christian, they look for some theological minutia that they can use to claim I'm going to hell (something about saying I eat Jesus' body really seems to make them edgy). I appreciate that he wasn't looking to argue or confront me or be proven right. He just wanted to make sure, if I didn't already know, that Jesus loves me. Thanks, kid!

Five Years of Crap!

My very first post on this blog was five years ago today! In that time, you've gotten lame-brained opinions and stupid booger jokes. And there were some posts that weren't as good either.

For those of you who laughed your way through the last 361 posts, I thank you. For those of you who have unwillingly slogged through them on the advice of your spiritual director, I also thank you. I'd appreciate if you pray for me too because I'm going to be sweating it out in Spa Purgatory (mostly for the offenses I've commited outside of this blog, believe it or not).

So, in conclusion, see you all in five years! I'll be an old man (Remind me then that I said so, so that I can realize how young and foolish I used to be).

More From the Shrine

Everyone's favorite source for all things Catholic and weird is at it again. Strange Facts about Papal Audiences.

Stephen Colbert: Real American Hero

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - Stressed Position
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorGay Marriage Commercial

Liveblogging The Bachelor Party

That's right, I'm at a bachelor party. Don't worry, ladies, I'm not the one getting married. The party is for my cousin's fiancé.

First we went to a Cardinals game at Wrigley Field. The less said about that the better, really. Except that the economy is hitting scalpers really hard and they can only afford to pay you $7 for a ticket with face value of $36. It's a hard knock life for those guys who are selling bleacher seats for $75.

We stopped at our hotel after the game. It's a Days Inn, cost only $80 for the night, has just one less bed than people in the room and I didn't feel like I was going to get murdered in the night. A net win, I'd say.

From there we decided to go to dinner. The group wanted to go to Hooters. I wasn't all that sold on the idea but I swallowed my dignity got in the car. Fortunately I had cash so I wasn't going to have to have Hooters show up on my bank statement. (hooters hooters hooters: Google please take note. Thanks.)

On the way over, we passed a restaurant called Jedi's Garden. I pointed it out. A couple of blocks later we arrived at the Hooters (hooters hooters hooters). Which looked just as classy as I had expected. It appeared to be built of aluminum shed siding. Also it was packed. At least an hour wait. I suggested we try Jedi's. My cousin asked if it looked like it would be good. "It has to be good," I said "or else it would be called Sith Lord's." Did I mention I'm not the one getting married?

Anyway we ended up going to Jedi's. A preference for puns and geek references over gaudy tacky sex is what separates us from the animals, I say. Turned out to be a good choice. It was a little family owned place with an aura of "used-to-be-a-Perkins". It did not have any apparent Star Wars connection, except that our waitress might have been a Jedi. She was serving all seven tables in our section. She seemed nice so I asked her about the name. She made a motion that may have been the Vulcan salute but also kind of looked like the "blow my brains out" hand signal. I wasn't sure if I should tell her that she was confusing Star Wars with Star Trek or be concerned that she was going to kill me. I decided not to expose my nerdiness and said nothing at all.

Anyway it turns out Jedi is a Greek name, equivalent to Jerry. Oh well. The food was good. Now we're at the hotel watching Craig Ferguson's Comedy Central special. Not a bad day after all I guess.

Now I have to get to bed because my cousin is getting up early tomorrow to compete in the Chicago Strongman contest. Seriously.

Like Shooting Fish in Barrel

The website for Microsoft's Expression Web 2 tool ("passionate about standards", "beautiful inside and out") does not render correctly in Opera.

Google News

Too clever for its own good sometimes.

Talents Which Do Not Make Me Seem Cool

  • Remembering dozens of passwords for different computer logins, websites and emails without writing any of them down.

  • Good parallel parker.

  • Can reset any clock-radio.

  • Calculating addition of 2 or 3 digit numbers in my head almost instantaneously.

  • Reasonably good Hootie and Blowfish imitation.

  • Can classify everyday activities in terms of Big-O notation.

This post is unlikely to be followed up by "Talents Which Make Me Seem Totally Awesome."

It's An Honor Just to Be Nominated

That's what I'm probably supposed to say. But if I don't win this freakin caption contest, my head is going to explode from all the rage and whatnot.

Look how funny I am! Referencing a previous caption contest, even! Don't make the internet even dumber by voting for any of that other crap.

Running in Under-Armour

I'm not sure it controlled my sweat or regulated my body temperature, but I felt like a superhero while I was wearing it. That's all I ask.

UConn vs. Syracuse

Looks like somebody at a Buffalo Wild Wings really didn't want to go home.

Who Wrote This Crap?*

Right now somebody is at is getting yelled at for not reviewing his code before checking it into production.

*Apologies to Jeff Atwood

What the Heck Facebook (Part II)

Facebook's ads keep getting more and more disturbing:

I'm also on the middle of reading American Gods, so I'm seriously getting freaked out. If I don't post anything for a while, it could be because those creepy google guys show up at my front door with a buffalo man and a four-eyed baby. In which case, look out because the storm is coming.

Whatever that means...

Coincidentally, 34% of Americans approved of the job President Bush was doing as he left office. Could there be some connection between mutant babies and George W. Bush's administration?


What is Google Hiding?

Call me a loser, but I spend an inordinate amount of time looking at random things on Google Maps' street view. I decided to zoom in on the Googleplex to see what it looks like from the street.

Apparently, they tell their employees when the car is going by, because everyone is outside waving at the camera. Proving to me that Google employs the coolest nerds around, I found a guy dressed as Link, a wedding proposal (2.0, whatever that means) and a standup cutout of Marge Simpson. But at one point in the midst of the geeky frivolity, something sinister happens.

Shot one: Googlers standing around waving.

View Larger Map

One step further down the road: the crowds are gone, replaced by two men with blurred out faces.

View Larger Map

A further step: the crowds are back, with no sign of the mysterious men.

View Larger Map

Who are these guys? Why are their faces censored? No one else in street view gets their faces blured out. Why aren't we allowed to know who these two are?

I have some theories:

1) They're government agents investigating a UFO that was captured in the original footage. They flashed the camera with their red light thingy and it erased part of the camera's memory. Will Smith was too busy making serious movies to show up, so they hired Beau Bridges to stand in for him. Also, it was casual Friday at Men In Black headquarters.

2) Google is participating in a viral marketing campaign for The Ring. Their VP of advertising will be fired next week.

3) Mitch Hedberg was right about Bigfoot.

Whatever the truth may be, Google owes it to us to come clean. Fortunately they aren't the only search engine option. I went to Yahoo and found out that [Confidential Content Redacted Per Google End User Policy].

I Don't Understand Utah

Half the time they're trying to convince everyone that they aren't a state full of crazy people.

The rest of the time, they're busy putting giant phallic symbols on their quarters.

Because Everyone Should Have an Opinion about Everything

I almost find Michael Phelps' accomplishments more impressive, seeing as he's been using performance de-enhancing drugs.

My Gmail Just Got All Weird Looking

Apparently they just pushed through an upgrade.


Aww snap.

For Those Times When Aggression is Inappropriate, Try Passive Aggression

To: Guy Who Opened My Washer
CC: Guy Who Designed the Washer, INTERNET-ALL-PDL

Re: Opening My Washer

When I left the laundromat briefly today to get a burrito, I expected during that time that my laundry would continue washing. I was disappointed to note that this did not occur.

The reason this did not occur was that you, GWOMW, opened my washer. As you may know from previous washer-using experience (I am assuming that, as a guy in a laundromat, you have some of that), this causes the washer to stop. Once the washer has stopped, it does not continue to wash my laundry. Instead my towels sit there, damp, soapy and forlorn, waiting patiently to be restarted. They are, however, lacking hands and unable to restart themselves. This is where you would come in. There is a button near the top of the machine which causes the washer to start up again and complete its cycle.

I realize this may be an easy mistake to make, so I have formulated a solution. At the top of the washer (next to the button which causes the washer to start--you should be intimately familiar with that button by this point), is a small display with numbers on it. Those numbers represent the number of minutes remaining in my wash cycle. If those numbers display a value greater than zero (0), this indicates that my laundy is still washing. Judicious use of this display can help prevent these types of problems in the future. I appreciate your cooperation.

GWDtW, you're not off the hook either. That place on the aforementioned display screen which says "Washer Door Locked" is clearly in error. Please see to this.

Guy with Still-Damp Towels

PS: Guy Who Accidentally Paid For My Dryer, I hope you're not also GWOMW because you seemed cool.

Just a Reminder

Today, the Shrine of the Holy Whapping linked to LOLsaints and mentioned how weird it is. I'd like you all to remember that the Shrine is really the most Catholic and Weird site on the internet.

Things You Learn

Bombay is another name for Mumbai, but Bangalore and Mangalore are separate cities. Who knew?

Who Actually Likes Oil Companies?

An online acquaintance posted a link to an article congratulating Exxon Mobil for their record profits. This looks like a mutated strain of Stockholm Syndrome to me.

I also work for a company that is on good financial ground in spite of the economy (I won't specify, since I'm sure they don't want their name connected to monkey nose-picking and sexy Rod Blagojevich). So why am I angry about the oil companies and not at my own company?

To me it's a matter of what we offer. My company is one of a number of companies that offers products to help people stay financially stable during tough times. Their focus on making the customer, rather than the bottom line, the top priority has made their product consistently the best in the industry. Rather than jumping on get-rich-quick fads, they invest conservatively to ensure that they have dependable cash flow even when the economy is bad.

Oil companies, on the other hand...looking for a metaphor....have us by the crankshaft and keep twisting. Their artificially inflated $4.50/gallon gas prices are part of what hurt our economy in the first place. In the short term, they're holding us hostage*. We have no other viable options but to go to them (or another one of their competitors, who is also charging the exact same price) in order to go about our daily lives. Hopefully in the future there will be other viable alternatives and we won't have to go crawling on our knees to the oil companies when we want heat our homes and drive to work.

And that's what gets me. The people trumpeting Exxon's big profits are the fiscally conservative free-market supporters. This is an example of an unfree market. We have virtually no choice but to buy. It's practically a tax. If you don't pay the government, they send someone to your home and arrest you (Edit: or in some cases, to hire you). The oil companies have an even better business model--if we don't pay them, they let us sit at home (for lack of a car), where we'll freeze for lack of payment on a heating bill we can't pay for lack of a job.

And we free-market supporters are supposed to congratulate this system? We're supposed to think it's great? This is a prime example of letting ideology tell you what's good, instead actually looking at the real, practical results in the world.

* In the long term, someone is bound to find a decent alternative energy source. And we'll run out of oil eventually.

Back To Your Regularly Scheduled Programming

Obligatory Breaking News Post

I'll just let the ex-governor and my Photoshopping skills speak for themselves:
[W]hether it's a court of law or administrative hearing or whether it's schoolyard justice when one kid hits another, but the kid that hit him wasn't the one who did it. He's got other boys he'd like to have tell the teachers he didn't do it.

I just feel bad for his future cellmate.


I received a text message from America's favorite blogger, Tommy "not a religious books publisher" Nelson, while I was at work today. I quote "Blago is gone!"

Apparently by a unanimous vote, none the less. If I had known it would be this easy, I would have suggested it six years ago.

Anyway, that's not even my main point. My main point is I went to when Google News didn't immediately bring up a story. This I what I was greeted with as the top story:

Sadly, I can't show you the full context. It would probably be considered inappropriate to take screen captures of Brazilian bikini models while using work computers. By the time I got home, she was no longer the top story.*

So, the Senate of an American state just voted to kick its governor out of office and CNN is leading with a story about a Brazilian model? Admittedly, she died and that's sad. But it's not headline news. It's not really news at all. And the fact that she had a series of amputations and eventually succumbed to sepsis from a urinary tract infection is not really my business. Let the poor woman rest in peace. Don't crash her funeral with your cameras, asking her family to cry on cue. You bastards make me sick.

Wow, that got out of hand. I was hoping to make a light-hearted post about CNN being stupid, but then my pent-up righteous anger got the best of me. I'll post pictures of monkeys picking their noses tomorrow.

*I'd like to point out that the Brazilian bikini model story was not bumped off the front page impeachment coverage. When I checked about an hour ago, the lead story was about a guy who faked his own death in 1989, leaving behind a fiancee and kids from a previous marriage in an apparent attempt to live out the plotline of an episode of My Name is Earl.

The Best Excuse Ever

I wish I had had someone to avoid today, because I had a great excuse. I was actually helping a handicapped old woman carry boxes of food to the poor.

chmod 007 *

I've gotten tired of deleting directories with Subversion data in them, only to get a million "Are you sure?" messages. So I added an alias "ex-pred" to my .bash_profile. Remove those directories with extreme prejudice!

alias ex-pred='rm -rf'


The High Today Was -2

It's really bloody cold. It's cold in my room, which has two outside facing walls. It's cold in my apartment, which (ultimately) has four outside-facing walls. It's cold outside, where there are no walls at all and the only thing keeping the heat is in the clouds, I think, although I've never been terribly good at meteorology.

It's so cold that I'm sitting under a blanket, blogging and drinking whiskey. It's so cold that I got brainfreeze at lunch...eathing chicken noodle soup*. It's so cold it makes me cuss inside my head and when I open my mouth it comes out. It's so cold that, it totally makes sense why Vikings thought Hell was like this. It's so cold that I saw a moose asking Sarah Palin to put it out of its misery (I imagine Dave Letterman will use that line tonight). It's so cold that people from Texas are continuing to complain about how cold it is, just like they have ever since the temperature first dropped below 50 in October.

Stay warm out there folks! Drive safe and don't forget to tip your waitresses!

*It's so cold that I thought that was pretty funny line when I came up with it.