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Year Two

Two long years ago, I launched CoffeyGrind.com in order to pick up a hobby that was fun, mentally challenging and, if at all possible, not completely illegal. I can proudly say that (so far) I have been successful and, although I did not post as many entries in the last year as I did the year before I have still made what I would like to think of as a valiant effort to entertain, offend and occasionally disgust the small handful of unfortunate people who have inadvertently stumbled across my wee-little site.

As was the case with the previous year, this last years-worth of blog entries is a collection of essays mainly about things that boil my blood but with a pinch of self-deprecation sprinkled in for fun. If you really don’t have the time to read all of them, allow me to sum it up for you:

I am a Twitter-hating Conservative Republican who understands business-speak, doesn’t believe in luck, sucks at maintaining his car and would love to see most Social Studies teachers be put to death by stuffing a hungry wolverine into their pants.

There. You’re all caught up now.

To wrap things up this year I would like to thank all the people that made this blog possible. For the last two years, these unsung heroes have provided the fuel for this blog and by doing so, I suppose, have become… sung. I mean really, now that I think of it, I have written entire articles about them, so why do I need to write more? What kind of attention-whores are these people?

Well… I guess I don’t have any better ideas for this entry anyway, so I’ll stick with thanking people, so here goes nothing…

Thank you Megan Fox. Just… thank you.

Bacon… what can I say about you that has not already been said? No other meat moves me the way you do. You are the wind beneath my wings. By “wind” here, I mean “cholesterol”; and by “beneath” I mean “in”… and by “wings” I mean “all my major arteries”. I love you. Call me.

Thank you brain. You are insecure, and yet somehow you let me share some of the most embarrassing moments (and photos) from my youth. Because of your obvious dysfunction, I have been able to write some of my favorite blog entries. Keep it up!

Morons. You are the subject of so many of my entries that I cannot, in good conscience, leave you out. My hatred for you is so strong that it can almost physically manifest itself, but I cannot deny the rich source of comedic material you provide and so, I thank you, but not as much as I need to thank the service that brings you to me…

Finally… Thank you Long Island Rail Road. Without you, and the almost incomprehensibly stupid people that ride your trains, I would not have nearly as many entries as I do. For 15 of the years that I have ridden the LIRR I considered these people an annoying distraction from the things that made my commute tolerable. Now, however, I cannot wait for my next interaction with them so I can belittle them here. Your seemingly never-ending stream of morons and the completely inappropriate things that they do and say is, without question, the greatest source of inspiration for my blog. Thank you so very much. You are my muse.

And so, with that out of the way, one more year of CoffeyGrind comes to a close, and another begins. What will next year bring? Will Megan Fox still be stupid-hot? Will morons still be plentiful? And will the LIRR continue to pack them onto a train with me every day?

Who knows? But since, as I am typing this, there is a man on the train clipping his toenails, I would say the future looks bright.

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

The Mutha of Invention

I have had the same umbrella for about 10 years.

It’s nothing special, just a plain old umbrella. There are no fancy buttons to help you open or close it, or ingenious vents to guard against gusts of wind. No, it’s not a mechanical marvel but, it keeps me dry and, for the most part, it looks like it did the day that I bought it. I attribute this partially to the neurotic way in which I carefully close and re-fold the umbrella each time I use it, and partially to the fact that I don’t actually often use it, even when it’s raining. I have long maintained that rain can ruin a good umbrella.

Fairly recently, however, a pushbutton umbrella came into my possession and, although I clearly had a sentimental attachment to my simple, reliable old one, I am a shameless whore for all “technology” no matter how mundane. So I quickly replaced my sad old umbrella with this shiny new one, not giving it a second thought as I carelessly tossed it into a basket of random things located near my front door.

If it were physically possible for an umbrella to do so, I am absolutely certain it would cry itself to sleep every night (though I suspect its pillow would remain blissfully dry).

For the past month or so, the new umbrella sat in my bag waiting for the day it was needed. That day finally came this week, at the end of my commute home. As my train arrived at Ronkonkoma station I noticed that it was raining heavily, so I stopped under the awning on the platform and removed the new umbrella from my backpack.

This was one of the fancier ones that has a button that both opens and closes it. I pushed the button and was rewarded with a solid *snick* as the umbrella unfolded smoothly and latched into place. As I stepped boldly out into the pouring rain and made my way across the parking lot, its clever design and sturdy construction ensured that I stayed as dry as a Englishman’s wit.

When I arrived at my car, I steadied the umbrella under one arm as I retrieved my keys from my pocket and opened the car door. As I slid into my car I pushed the button once again to close the umbrella, and… that’s when I realized two things:

  1. The button doesn’t really close the umbrella, it merely collapses it; you still have to close it the rest of the way manually.
  2. The snapping action of the umbrella collapsing instantly transfers all the water from the umbrella onto its wielder.

I am pretty sure I would have remained drier if I had simply discarded the umbrella at the train platform and rolled myself to my car, making a special effort to hit every puddle along the way.

This experience, aside from making me want to violently disassemble the umbrella at a molecular level, made me realize that just about any moron can invent a new product. I mean, all you really need is an idea and a large collection of morons with credit cards. As Apple continually demonstrates, the idea doesn’t even need to be unique as long as you convince the morons you are selling it to that it is better.

I have had a few ideas floating around in my head that I’d like to share. Don’t go stealing them, unless you cut me in. My foolproof moneymaking ideas are:

Anacondoms™

Condoms for the man with a large… ego.

Think about it! There are millions of insecure men out there that would buy these. Heck, alot of men would buy them just so they could be seen… buying them. And, here’s the best part! They don’t even need to be large! You make them the same size as normal condoms so that the men who buy them (mostly Corvette owners I assume) can feel even better about themselves when they wear one and it isn’t loose.

It’s genius, I am telling you! Anyhow, onto my next idea, which is:

Fleshtables ©2010 Carnivore Inc.

We have patties that look like hamburgers but are made entirely of vegetable matter and some sort of barely digestible glue that holds it all together and likely causes cancer. This seems to make the people that suffer from Vegeterianism happy. So why not have something for carnivores like me? Vegetables that are made entirely out of the flesh of dead animals. Some preliminary ideas I have include:

Rutabacon (Rutabaga)
Lima Beef (Lima Bean)
Or, my personal favorite…
The Porktato (Potato)

Mouth-watering, isn’t it? Ok, my last idea is quite simple:

Garanimals for Men ®¢☺♀

Like most men, I generally look like I got dressed in the dark. I have worn dress socks with shorts, and black shoes with a brown belt. And, I am pretty sure my shirt has never really ever matched my pants.

Remember Garanimals? If the shirt has a giraffe and the pants have a giraffe, they match! Men desperately need this. I think there should be a line of suit separates, shirts, ties and socks with little animals tastefully embroidered on them somewhere. It’d make millions, I am sure of it!

Well, there you have it. My three biggest money-making ideas. I am on my way into work right now to submit my resignation so I can focus all my energy on promoting
them.

Wish me luck!

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

No Such Luck

My life is pretty damn good, if I must say so myself.

Every day I commute to my job where I get to work with some amazing people, and every night I come home to my wonderful family. Don’t get me wrong, my life is far from perfect but, as lives go, I could do a lot worse. Which is why I have frequently been told that I am a lucky man to which I have typically responded with “Yep” or, when I am feeling particularly chatty, “Indeed I am”.

To many of you, that might appear to be the end of it. I am sure at least some of you are thinking “What the hell is this psycho getting at? All he does in his blog is bitch about stuff… but if his life rocks, then how could he possibly find some way to be angry about it?”

Well rest assured my friends, I am capable acheiving an impressive level of primal rage over the most trivial of things. Once, I was trying to connect a computer to a small network in my house and I could not, for the life of me, get the network card (a 3Com card for those that are interested) to work. When I had finally decided that it was a lost cause, I calmly removed the card from the machine, walked out to my garage, clamped it into a vice and smashed it with a small sledge until it was reduced to sub-atomic particles. So, trust me folks, this is not even remotely challenging.

But back to the point, which is that I am a big fat liar.

The problem, you see, is that I don’t believe in luck. I lie about it because that simple bit of fiction is so much easier to say than the truth, which is that “luck” is just something that morons use to rationalize the losses that are the result of the terrible choices they make in every aspect of their lives, and downplay the gains that are the result of the good choices that others make. I am getting really tired of hearing people talk about “luck” like it’s some mystical force that alters destinies.

Idiot: You sure are a lucky man
Me: No, I am not.
Idiot tilts his head sideways like a confused dog
Me: Luck is just the perceived outcome of applied probability.
Idiot: Wow… those are big words. You sure are lucky you are so smart.
Me (sighing): Indeed, I am.

I work my ass off to be successful in the things that I set out to do. I spend a significant portion of my time agonizing over every detail of a situation before finally making a choice about how best to proceed. This process is not always long, and is seldom visible to the casual observer but, trust me, it’s happening. I don’t choose a place to have lunch without investing a great deal of mental energy on it, so you can probably imagine the internal chaos that is caused by managing the more important portions of my life.

Whenever people hear about some “hard luck” case — someone that has lost their job, spouse, life savings, etc. — they instinctually feel bad for them, as if life had somehow callously wronged these poor undeserving individuals. But if you dig into these cases a little you realize that many of these asshats deserved exactly what they got.

For the examples above I am able to provide some easy-to-follow rules that will help prevent you from losing these things ever again:

As you can see, many catastrophic, life-altering losses can really be completely avoided through the simple expedient of not being a complete fucking moron. I am here to help, no need to thank me (although your lavish compliments and generous cash donations will not be turned away).

So, to sum up, if you have experienced a constant stream of hardships in your life, chances are you are not plagued by “bad luck”; you are probably just an incompetent dipshit which is, unfortunately, a condition that cannot be cured with rabbit’s feet or horseshoes. And when you casually chalk any aspect of my hard-earned life off to “luck” it makes me want to punch you in the larynx until my arm gets tired.

You’re lucky I am lazy.

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2010 in Gripes

 

Funny Business

It seems I have yet again shirked my blogging duties, since it has been quite a long time since my last posting. This time, however, it wasn’t for World of Warcraft, it was actually for work. Unfortunately, I have been working quite a bit as of late and really haven’t had time to sleep, much less blog. So, I am truly sorry. Trust me… I’d rather be blogging.

I realized that I don’t write about my work much in this blog. As I always seem to do, I decided to analyze why this is the case. After giving this some thought, I believe that my reluctance to write about work is partially because I am afraid that I will mercilessly ridicule a coworker who will subsequently read the entry and respond to it by stabbing me in the face with a letter-opener. And, it’s partially because… ok, no… that’s really it.

But I have learned something that I feel the need to share with you all. Something that has long confounded the average person, which isn’t really saying much since the average person can entertain themselves for hours using only a laser-pointer. Something that I am certain can help future generations of corporate drones rise to the absolute pinnacle of mediocre middle-management. Something that doesn’t specifically single out an individual who may feel the need to suddenly and violently retaliate.

I think I have finally begun to decipher the language of business.

Before you scoff at the notion, please understand that gaining even limited comprehension of this language is no small feat. It is a language of fanciful metaphor, where words frolic playfully with each other in a sprawling field of colorful acronyms. Taken individually, the words and phrases that make up the language can seem to be fairly understandable and perhaps even a tad mundane but, when spoken by a master of the art, their relentless cadence can be beautiful and hypnotic lulling the listener into a state of drooling catatonia.

Anyway… Why have I chosen now to speak up about this topic? So glad you asked.

You see. I have reached the point in my career where I spend more time in meetings, accomplishing absolutely nothing, than I do in front of a computer, doing… you know… work. Because of a large project that I am currently involved in I have been spending even more time in meetings than usual, and many of these meetings have been with consultants instead of internal employees. Consultants are masters of this language, but I didn’t know that at the time.

Initially, I felt a kinda lost in these meetings, which I attributed to being a little “out of my league” but realized pretty quickly that it was something else. It took me a few meetings to pinpoint the exact source of my problem, but I finally figured it out… I had NO idea what the fuck these people were saying. In person, in email, or on the phone… it didn’t matter. I hadn’t the foggiest clue what they meant. The noises emanating from their mouths sounded vaguely familiar, but it wasn’t quite English.

Heya Craig, this is Cecil from JCN. I’m calling to touch base on the BCP project, and wanted to give you an ETA on the RFP. I’ll have it to you by COB. Maybe we could do lunch and discuss how we can forge a collaborative partnership that engenders synergies and create a cross-functional team to build a straw man and run it up a flagpole. Call me ASAP, OK?

I cannot properly translate all of what was said in the message above; to do so would require the Rosetta Stone, the Dead Sea Scrolls, 12 tubes of airplane glue and about 3 weeks of dedicated work. But I can understand enough of it to explain the “gist” of the message. In this case, Cecil clearly wants to do something with his flagpole and a straw man… perv.

As a technical person, to complain about the widespread use of acronyms might just be a wee bit hypocritical, so I will forgive them on that count. But why do they have to use different words than the rest of us? The other day, one of the consultants said they had an “Ask”. Really? What happened to the word “Question”? It’s a perfectly good word that everyone understands well. It really didn’t need to be replaced by noun-ifying the word “Ask”. Morons.

To give them the benefit of the doubt, I decided to check the dictionary to see if there was any definition of “ask” that was a noun. Turns out that there is! It’s a word from Scandinavian Mythology meaning: “The first man, made by the gods from an ash tree.”. So I apologize for calling you a moron in the previous paragraph; clearly you were just trying to let me know that you had a wooden man. Can’t wait to see it.

And what is the deal with all the metaphors? They are worse than the misused words! Half the time when one is used, someone in the meeting has to ask (properly used!) what it actually means. Doesn’t that completely defeat the purpose of actually using a metaphor? Aren’t we trying to effectively and efficiently communicate here? Perhaps this simple rule will help:

Rule: Any word or phrase that, when uttered, makes everyone in the meeting think “what the fuck did he just say?” is probably less than ideal for communications purposes.

All of this is bad enough when people do it “properly”, but what is worse is when non-consultants attempt to use the same language and completely mess it up. The average corporate parasite doesn’t really try to understand anything that a consultant does before they try to emulate it and the result can be somewhere between annoying and amusing.

Me: I think we should proceed cautiously.
*silent nods from around the room*
Cecil: We can no longer ignore the hippo in the room!
Me: The… what?
Cecil: Let’s just throw the monkey on the table here.
Me: Wait… what happened to the hippo?
Cecil: We have to open our kimonos! You first Craig… go on, open your kimono!
Me: I… um… can we go back to the hippo?

I tried the kimono thing in a meeting once… it didn’t end well.

After I heard “Open the kimono” once, I just had to look up it’s origins. Turns out, it came from Japanese Folklore:

The Goblin Fox and Badger and Other Witch Animals of Japan” vol. 18, p. 84: It was believed that the wolf was shameful of sexual things, having no strong sexual instincts. He would never disclose his organ, but hide it behind his hanging tail. Should a person perchance see his sexual act, he or she would have to open the kimono and disclose his or her own organ, so as not to shame the wolf.

So, when I hear “We need to open our kimonos” in a meeting I know that I am supposed to hear “Let’s have no secrets” but I am really hearing “Let’s all expose our junk to a wolf”.

And while many more of these phrases have a similar charm, I have to admit that one of my personal favorites has always been “touch base”. If you close your eyes, you can almost picture the speaker gently brushing their fingertips across the surface of the base as they sprint gracefully past you. But aside from the powerful imagery, for me this phrase has always had an even deeper purpose because, if you asked me, it is a very effective asshole-detector.

I have frequently used the number of “touch base” references per minute (or tb/m) to gauge the “asshole coefficient” of the speaker, which is typically much higher in salespeople who apparently need to say these words at least once every 10 minutes to avoid being ridiculed at their country club (including the occasional “wedgie” in the locker room after squash games).

At a previous job, one salesperson left me a 30-second voice-mail in which he said “touch base” 3 times, giving him an asshole coefficient of 6 tb/m, which is off the charts! This breed of super-salesperson can only be killed by dipping a Mont Blanc pen into a Grey Goose Martini and using it to stab him right through his blackened heart. Only a direct hit will do the job.

There is so much more of this language to cover, but I think I will save them for a future blog entry since this one is getting a bit long. Until then, keep proactively leveraging cutting-edge best-of-breed turnkey solutions for business-critical systems!

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

Twitter Blows

On several occasions, I have come close to begging you people to leave me the hell alone, but you just couldn’t let it lie. No… you just had to keep poking me with sticks until I got angry didn’t you? Well, unfortunately for you, despite your best efforts to convert me, the only result of your tireless assault is a sad little blog entry entitled “Twitter Blows”.

I hope you’re happy.

For those of you that have been vacationing on a distant planet for the last five years, let me try to explain Twitter in layman’s terms. Basically, you can follow other Twitter users (henceforth referred to as “tweetards”), and they can follow you. When you post a message (otherwise known as a “tweet”) it is sent out to all your followers, and when someone you are following posts a message, it is sent out to you.

That is it in a nutshell.

This is not a complex concept at its core. In fact, since it’s basically a tool to send SMS messages to groups of people… there’s not a complex bone in its pathetic little body. So, you might venture to ask, what makes such an unassuming little messaging product so deserving of my wrath?

Well, as you probably know, normally I can cheerfully let the morons wallow in their own stupidity (yeah, I know… not really), but I am getting a little tired of hearing about how Twitter not only cures cancer but also gives you minty-fresh breath. I mean, forfucksake people! It’s an interface to SMS, not a “political movement” or a “social revolution”.

I know what you die-hard Twitter freaks are thinking; you’re thinking “Sign up for an account Craig… Just try it… You will be one of us… *drools*”. Well, if I had a nickel for every funky-smelling wild-eyed tweet-junkie that chanted a similarly ill-informed prediction… I would have precisely one nickle because, after the first one, I haven’t let them get past the words “Sign up” before applying a swift but powerful rabbit-punch to the adam’s apple and making a run for it.

But the truth is that I have, in fact, tried it. You see, one of my close friends kept waxing rhapsodic about Twitter and eventually I decided that I should give it a try. So… with great trepidation, I created my account, registered my cell phone, and began following them.

Something important to note here is that, because of its association with SMS, each message is limited to 140 characters. As a result, I really had no intention of posting anything myself because it doesn’t really give you much room for creativity and, as you might have guessed, I have a problem being… concise. In fact, it really only lends itself to the dissemination of simple and painfully mundane details. The first few hours of tweets on my new account looked something like this:

*buzz*
Paco: I installed a new Linux distro
*buzz*
Paco: I hate mornings
*buzz*
Paco: I just installed another Linux distro
*buzz*
Paco: Squirrels are dumb

If, at that point, I simply responded to this last message to inform Paco that I took exception to his uninformed opinion on squirrels, then the result would be a tweet which would go out to every one of my followers without any reference to Paco’s original message unless they too were following him (like hearing one side of a phone conversation). Ironically, this response would not actually go to Paco unless he was following me. In summary, a thoroughly unintuitive departure from the logical way that all other systems of digital communication work. Awesome.

NOTE: Before you tweetards start frothing at the mouth, yes I know that you can respond to people on Twitter, but in ANY OTHER form of digital communication I do not need to re-address a REPLY, so kindly shut the hell up. Thank you.

And, even if its interface made sense, who can tolerate constantly receiving microscopic updates about other peoples lives? And, more importantly, what kind of sick psychopath can justify sending them? I would estimate that roughly 60% of Twitter users out there are shallow, narcissistic, attention whores who really believe that every tiny moment of their pathetic self-absorbed lives is a nugget of pure joy to their followers and who only learned about Twitter because they got a glimpse of it while masturbating to Anderson Cooper’s 360.

All of this is also true for the remaining 40% but in addition, they still wet their beds.

It was only through a herculean display of willpower that I did not delete my account within the first 24 hours. But I found the constant interruptions for useless details more than a little annoying, and so I disabled the SMS feature, which lead me to the same place that I am sure millions of other Twitter users have been; I figured out, to my surprise, that this tool was actually kinda useless for its original intended purpose. It was akin to getting a new hammer only to find out that it doesn’t actually work on nails.

Not daunted by this, however, the Twitter community has shamelessly whored itself out to every possible purpose they could find (breaking news, politics, self promotion, marketing, etc.) in a desperate effort to find some niche to stick to. If you asked the average tweetard, they will tell you that it’s absolutely perfect for every single one of them. If you asked me, it has only proven that it is great at pissing me off.

Let’s examine its use as a source of news…

For a moment, lets ignore the fact that there are a wide array of decades-old technologies that can provide you with more than 140 characters of breaking news from legitimate sources whose sole job is to seek out and report on important global events; sources, mind you, that actually perform a monumentally underrated service known as “fact checking”.

…ok, we’ve ignored it for a moment.

Are you people out of your friggin’ minds? Really? You want to rely on common people to provide you with your news?! Have you met common people!?! They’re idiots! The other day, I saw someone back into a parking spot in the middle of a completely empty parking lot! These people that you are relying on for news? This is their king!

Not convinced? Ok, how about this? As per a study of Twitter that was done by Pear Analytics, in which they randomly sampled tweets and categorized them, the “News” category only made up roughly 3.6% of all tweets. Compare that to the 38% that were categorized as “Conversational” and, even better, the 41% that were categorized as “Useless Babble” and you can see where I am going here. Sure… there may be news in there somewhere, but you have to burrow through a mountain of shit to get to it.

Sample Twitter log:

Good morning!
Who’s up for lunch?
Megan Fox makes me have impure thoughts
A plane just landed in the Hudson
I’m sleepy
Where the hell are my pants?
Peanut butter is yummy

It’s like playing “Where’s Waldo?” with important information. No thanks. I already have plenty of useless, unverified trivia in my life. I suspect that, even though people say they want all this unwashed information, they will ultimately gravitate towards sources they can trust and ignore the rest. Who has the time to sift through it all?

Sadly, however, I am certain that Twitter will survive for a good long time based solely on its media hype and momentum and, one day perhaps, its hardcore zealots will even claw their way to a legitimate non-contrived purpose for it. If that day comes I will reactivate my account and give it another try.

Until then, shut your gaping cake-holes, because I am really not interested.

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2010 in Gripes

 

Haven’t got a clue…

It’s time to talk about my past again.

Many of you alert readers have likely already surmised this, but my younger years weren’t exactly a crazy hedonistic romp on the back of a naked cheerleader through a field of flaming marijuana. On the contrary, from the time I could muster enough strength in my chubby little digits to type on a computer keyboard I have largely spent my personal, educational and professional time gently, if sometimes inappropriately, caressing a digital device of some kind. But there have been times when some simple analog activity was interesting enough to coax my portly ass out of the lightless cavern of my bedroom and into the harsh and unforgiving sunlight.

I’d like to talk about one such activity.

As I have pointed out on a few other occasions, my friends and I were a pretty imaginative bunch of folks who had a lot of free time on our hands. Now, I am not suggesting that we were the only teenagers to have abundant free time, or even imagination. But the key difference, in my humble opinion, is that unlike your typical high school fare, instead of using our free time to conduct bracketed competitions for who could sustain a flame the longest using their own gas, we typically engaged in activities that were a bit more cerebral or at least a bit less… gastrointestinal.

The activity that I am making my glacial way towards introducing is one that we called a “Clue Hunt”. The name pretty-much gives away the purpose here; the teams race each other, following a trail of hidden clues, until they decipher the final clue that leads them to the goal. Games typically started in the late evening and went on into the following morning (or afternoon).

The clues lead these poor souls all over Long Island, and took the form of anything our twisted minds could think up. Some clues were simple riddles or cryptograms, while others were much more complex. One clue lead the teams to a fairly precise location and asked them to tune their car radio to a specific station. The next clue was transmitted in a loop from a short-range FM transmitter. I always liked that one.

Although we never actually used it, one of my absolute favorite clues was a variation of the Indiana Jones map-room puzzle. At the entrance to Jones Beach there is a large map of Long Island inlayed into the walkway with streetlights nearby. If I remember it correctly, there are no landmarks on the map except for all of the parks and beaches. We planned to have the players make a staff of a certain length, and place it in a specific crevice in the sidewalk. The shadow of the staff on the map would point them to the park that had the next clue.

Most of them were less creative than that, but it any case, these clues didn’t exactly write themselves; they took large blocks of dedicated time to come up with, and in many cases required hours of driving for “site recon” to ensure that our chosen locations had places that were public and accessible, and yet somehow… secluded enough to hide the clues so that they would not be removed before the players got to them. And, as you might have guessed, the placement of the clues was no easy task either. Don’t get me wrong, it was not as hard as it would be today, that is for sure. Back then, security was much more relaxed…

*A security guard walks up just as I am taping the clues behind a sign at a state park*
Security: Hey! What do you think you are doing?
Me: I’m… um…
Security: Out with it!
Me: Ok, ok… I am trying to place these envelopes of clues here so that, later tonight, carloads of teenage kids can trespass on government property and find them.
Security: Are you out of your mind son? That’s a terrible location. Over here is much better. Here, give me those envelopes, I will tape them up. You run along.

Today, it is highly unlikely that the security guard would finish blurting out the word “Hey” before neatly punctuating it with a taser to the testicles.

Anyhow…

My friends and I planned and executed several of these during our teenage years. The planning took months, and the execution was brutal, but we always had a great time. Eventually, other groups of people began to copy our fine work and planned their own clue hunts. We were always curious to see how we’d do if we were ever able to compete in one and so we cheerfully handed in our registration fee and anxiously awaited the day of the hunt.

We made all the necessary preparations: police radio, drinks, snacks… matching uniforms. We were a vision to behold. We all wore black sweatpants and black t-shirts with our “codenames” on them (Mine was “Sarcastus”). I chose to enhance my outfit even further with the addition of a dark grey full-length hooded cloak. In my minds eye, I envisioned the cloak billowing out behind me, in slow motion, when I exited the vehicle; a dark miasma surrounding me as I calmly searched for clues. It turns out that in this one particular case, my imagination wasn’t all that far from the truth.

One of the clues lead us to an elementary school in some town that I forget the name of, but we had a bit of trouble finding the envelope that was hidden somewhere on the school grounds. So… here I am, dressed all in black and sporting a very I-am-a-cult-member looking cloak, running around the normally peaceful grounds of a picturesque school of a small Long Island town in the wee-hours of the morning.

Starting to get the picture here? I am sure the fact that I made several very darkwing-duck-like cloak motions didn’t exactly help the situation either.

A short while after we drove away, we heard a call on the police radio. Apparently a “cloaked figure” was “terrorizing” the town that we had just left. I would describe my emotions at the time as equal parts “unparalleled elation” and “please drive faster, I don’t want to get raped in jail”.

As luck would have it, however, we made a clean getaway and ultimately went on to win the competition. We had our victory brunch at the International House of Pancakes, and gloated appropriately to the people that we knew on the other teams. And, after all was said and done, I think we had some experiences that are worthy of remembering and, as we get older, blathering about at parties and in blog entries.

So, no… I will be the first to admit that I may not have lead the most exciting childhood possible. But can you say that you terrorized a small town?

I didn’t think so.

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2010 in Memory Lane

 

No Comment!

I don’t get much feedback about this site.

I’m not complaining, mind you. I suppose the nature of this blog doesn’t really lend itself to meaningful and intelligent dialog. Since I am frequently ranting about fairly large groups of people and the retarded things they do I guess I cannot expect you to respond when there’s a fair chance that I am actually talking about you (yeah, you!).

Just for fun, however, a while back I enabled moderated commenting on the site in case someone wanted to provide a lucid counter-argument to any of the points that I had made. In the months that followed, I received a few legitimate comments but they were buried under a mountain of spam. The comments are all moderated, and I don’t approve many of them, but I have kept several of the ones that struck me as particularly funny. Here is a sample of just a few of my favorite comments about the Bacon-Wrapped Blog entry:

“Your blog is so informative … ..I just bookmarked you….keep up the good work!!!!”
-Terry Brooks

Aww, thanks Terry. Coming from an award-winning author of books and screenplays, I am flattered. It’s great to see that we share a keen interest in baconology. If you need a hand with the next Shannara book, let me know. We can do lunch.

“There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also.”
-viagra

For a little blue pill, you really seem to appreciate smoked meats. Thanks Viagra! Just for you, I think I’ll add a “Features” section, and make some good points in it.

“Why hello associated forum people! I well-grounded wanted to introduce myself here as this looks like a dialect right interesting forum! I myself am engrossing in things like writeing and computer revamping so if anyoune needs facilitate reveal me differentiate! I also Suffer from Sciatica so if you aslo fool this infection let me skilled in so we can share some stretches!”
-undulkylype

I am honored to have my humble blog graced with the presence of the translator for Zero Wing. I am truly not worthy! Thanks! Oh and I don’t currently “needs facilitate” anything, but when I do you will be the first one I contact to “reveal [you] differentiate”. Promise.

No, as you can plainly see, I don’t get many legitimate comments, and it’s really kinda depressing. Reading through a small sample of the comments I have received that I think might not actually be spam, I am starting to form a frightening mental image of my main audience. I am picturing a couple of toothless hicks in a trailer park getting drunk by doing shots of rubbing alcohol every time I say the word “asshat” in an entry (toss another one back boys! that one counts!).

I do sometimes get some face-to-face feedback , but this tends to boil down to “Why don’t you use your powers for good?”, “Don’t you have anything better to do with your time?” and, occasionally, “Why aren’t you wearing pants?”. To these, I can only respond “Because good is boring”, “Not really” and “Because they chafe”.

I mean, seriously, what the hell else can I do? What other avenues could possibly give me such creative enjoyment without the involvement of mood-altering drugs? In case it isn’t obvious, I like to write, but until I had this blog I really didn’t write anything larger than a Post-It Note. At least not for enjoyment.

But, just to play this out, let’s explore some possibilities…

I am a fairly sensitive and creative guy. I can empathize with people and find a way to convey those emotions with flowery words. I could write heartfelt greeting cards that truly capture the mood of the sender.

You know? I think that one might actually sell.

I am fairly intelligent. I am well versed in wide range of scientific principles, and can recognize their benefits… and dangers. I could write warning labels for potentially hazardous products.

You’ll never know till you taste them!

I am wise beyond my years. Others frequently seek me out for my advice. I could write fortunes for fortune cookies.

Distribute those at all-you-can-eat places, and it’s a good bet the message will be appropriate.

Any of those might be passable alternatives, at least for a short while, but they don’t exactly lend themselves to the long-form writing that I have become accustomed to and yet, despite that fact, they all sound an awful lot like “work” to me. And, it’s not as if any of them would offer me a better connection with my potential audience anyway, especially the Silica Gel one. So… I think I’ll stick with blogging for the time being.

Thanks to the feedback I have gotten, I now know that my blog is a “dialect right interesting forum”, which can’t be a bad thing… can it? And, if nothing else, it’s still serving me well in its role as “free therapy”, and God knows I need as much of that as I can possibly get.

 
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Posted by on January 5, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

Anti-Social Studies

I think I have finally discovered the nefarious source of my blogging mental block.

I have been happy.

I was being facetious in the post back in July when I said that I had run out of things to hate, but to a certain extent that appears to have been true. I have been walking around blissfully ignoring things that would normally whip me into a frothing rage.

I am not really sure why this was the case, but what I am sure of is that… my happy-go-lucky days are over. For you see, my friends, I have found my ire again. Turns out, it was hiding behind a Social Studies teacher.

I’d like to think that I’m generally a “live and let live” kinda guy and that, if you want to make idiotic choices like, for example, buying an Apple product, that is your prerogative and I will not judge you (to your face) for it.

I’d like to think that.

I’d also like to think that I can fly without the aid of wings, and make bacon magically appear with only a thought. But seeing as that is not the case, lets get real… in my blogging role, the world is reduced to black and white, right and wrong, me and everyone else. Get the picture?

So, yes, I will judge you and I will find you wanting. You cannot avoid it, so don’t try.

OK, enough with the preamble, and onto the topic of the entry…

Social Studies

The problem, in a nutshell, is this… my son has been spending an awful lot of time on homework this year. That, in and of itself, is not an issue. What has me in a huff is the fact that most of this homework is for Social Studies.

Lets not beat around the bush here, I’m just going to lay it out for you plain as can be. Social Studies, in my humble opinion, is about as useless as can possibly be. Have you ever heard anyone say “That is one of the best schools! Their Social Studies program is top-notch!”? I sincerely doubt it, and that is because… Social Studies is almost completely worthless.

There are four major disciplines in schools today: Math, Science, English and Social Studies. Now, let’s examine each discipline based upon its value to our children:

Math: This is the foundation for everything in the universe and is, without question, the most important subject in any school. Anyone that disagrees with this is a moron that probably plays Lotto.

Related jobs: Engineer, Actuary, CFO

Science: A close second to Math. Learning Science is not about learning the details; it’s about learning how to think. Something that is, sadly, in short supply.

Related jobs: Doctor, Research Scientist, Inventor

English: Spend five minutes speaking with an average child and that will make my argument for me here. If we let English education lapse any more our children will be communicating purely through clicks and grunts.

Related jobs: Author, Screenwriter, Poet.

And finally…

Social Studies: I don’t even know where to begin… We teach “Social Studies” which is, in fact, “History” to our children for far too many years. At some point, this subject simply becomes “Writing”, and any concrete skills that it provides should really be provided in an English class. Social Studies is basically the long-form regurgitation of useless facts.

Related jobs: Pizza Delivery Agent, French-Fry Chef, Social Studies Teacher.

Naturally, I have made my feelings known to any who would listen (and several who would rather not), and a few of these fine folks pointed out that they actually like Social Studies.

How lovely.

I like playing computer games; why isn’t that a major subject in school? Oh, that’s right… because nobody gives a shit what you like! This isn’t about what our children like, it’s about how to prepare our children for their future. My child will not get a better job because they did well in Social Studies unless they are destined for a career writing questions for Trivial Pursuit.

Oh, yeah… and let me address the worn-out defense of dusty old Social Studies professors the world around who constantly misquote George Santayana, who said:

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it

I can understand what George is saying and respectfully disagree. But the people who quote him use this as a shield to deflect any suggestion that the study of History is not the most important subject in the world. The problem I have here is that they are assuming that this quote means:

Those that remember the past are not condemned to repeat it

The number of examples that prove this to be a failed premise are so abundant that I don’t even need to list them. Just pick up a paper. History is repeated in every conflict over a patch of land or a religious view, and there are no shortage of those. Are you seriously going to argue that all these conflicts could have been avoided if only our world leaders had more education in History?

World Leader: They have oil. We want it. Let’s invade.
Advisor: Sir? That’s been done before.
World Leader: Really? Damn… ok, scrap that plan then. Let’s invade Canada instead, just for giggles.

I would like to amend George’s quote a bit to update it for the present:

Those who rely on history to decide their own future instead of thinking for themselves are condemned to be pretentious fact-spouting airbags who everyone hates and who will ultimately die alone unless you consider their cat.

Please go write a book that nobody will read and stop crapping on our children’s education.

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2009 in Gripes

 

World of War-crack

I haven’t blogged in around two months, which I am truly sorry for. I wish I at least had a good excuse for it. I’d really love to say that I haven’t had the time because I was:

  1. Opening a soup kitchen
  2. Spending some quality time with my “little brother”
  3. Or even… Working on the cure for stupidity

But, unfortunately, none of these are the case. No, I don’t have a really good excuse for neglecting my blog. For, you see, the real reason I have done almost nothing of value in my life lately is that I have started playing World of Warcraft (WoW) again, and when WoW beckons me, I am unable to resist its urgent call.

For those of you that have never heard of WoW, I have two reactions:

Pity: The level of ignorance to the world around you that you need to demonstrate to be completely unaware of a videogame played by 9 million people worldwide is… quite frankly… staggering. I pity you and pray that you have had the good sense not to procreate.

Jealousy: You lead a healthy, albeit ignorant life while I am bound to this game like a thrall to a powerful vampire lord… I am jealous of your free and uncomplicated life… but I still hope that you choose not to breed.

Let me see if I can briefly summarize the WoW experience for the uninitiated. Like all games of this type, you start a character and pick the basic traits: Race, Class, Appearance, etc.. Then you head out into the world to seek adventure which usually equates to doing quests that follow the same general pattern:

<insert character name here>!!! I need your help! My <mother, father, lover, goldfish> is dying, and can only be saved by a <potion, salve, cheeseburger> of great healing power! I have all the ingredients, except the <bat spleen, boar colon, 1/2 cup sugar>… please go kill <10, 100, 100000> creatures until you find the necessary ingredient!

Rewards: 1 silver and a [Bat Spleen Cheeseburger of Greater Healing]

You repeat quests like this until you go up a level, you get more powerful, and then you do it all again (with bigger bats and boars). It has a certain mind-numbing comfort to it.

Now, before you hardcore WoW players out there spill your highly-caffeinated beverages all over your cheetos-crumb-encrusted gaming keyboards in collective apoplexy, yes… I know it’s more complicated than that. But I am not writing a guide on how to play the game, just a blog entry to make fun of it, so sit down before you accidentally do something that resembles exercise.

Where was I? Mind-numbing… right…

I like the soothing banality of it all. I spend the whole day thinking about stuff… important stuff… stuff that has an impact on the company I work for and the lives of the consumers around the country. There’s a certain refreshing stupidity to spending four hours with nine other people fighting our way through a dungeon that is crawling with hate-filled flesh-eating demons just so I can get a new pair of pants (they are very nice pants).

And, in case that scenario doesn’t sound quite bad enough, I have spent hours — HOURS I said!! — doing nothing but… fishing.

*Craig clicks the “cast” button, and the bobbin sails through the air to land with a satisfying splash in the small pond*
*After a brief wait, the bobbin dips in the water, and Craig clicks on it to retrieve the fish*
[You have caught 1 fish]
[Your fishing skill has gone up by 1 point]
*Craig smiles*
[Your ability to find a mate has gone down by 1 point]
*Craig’s smile fades*

This game is pure evil; anyone that tells you otherwise probably works for the company that sells it. Everything in it is designed to enthrall impressionable young kids… and dirty old men like me. For example, I fired up the character creator with the intention of creating the best looking, and worst looking female character that I could. Here are my results:

How are simple folk like me expected to resist?

So, for now at least, I play WoW every night. And this eats into the time I used to use for blogging (and chores, and spending time with the family, and eating, and personal hygiene, and sleeping… etc.). In fact. the only reason I am blogging right now is because the servers are down for maintenance.

But, I promise that I will devote more time to the important things in my life. I vow to break the hold that this game has on me, and to return to the life I used to have! I will not let this game– Ooh! Servers are back up! Gotta go. Bye.

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

Car Troubles

Much the same as it is with sports… I am utterly lost when it comes to understanding cars.

Unlike sports though, I find this particular knowledge gap to be a bit odd since I consider myself to be fairly skilled when it comes to most things mechanical.  I mean, I am not exactly MacGyver but I can usually take things apart, clean them and put them back together without breaking them (much).

But with cars… this is very, very different.

For the most part, I feel just as retarded around car enthusiasts as I do around rabid sports fans, but in some ways it’s even worse; I certainly cannot regurgitate each players name, position, performance statistics, police record, favorite recreational drug, etc., but given a little time watching a game I can get the gist of how it works.

With car enthusiasts though… I really haven’t the foggiest clue what the hell they are talking about.  I have been a happy user of a car of some variety since I was 17 years old, and yet if I hadn’t stumbled across the handle that opens the hood and actually seen the engine for myself you could probably convince me that my car was powered by Scottish gnomes that work (or don’t) for booze…

*Craig steps on the gas pedal…*

Angus: If ya think ay’m gunna push yer feckin’ cairt up anither brae ye’kin kiss mah wee little bahookie!

*The car sputters*

Craig: C’mon you stupid hunk of shit… move it!

*Craig steps on the gas harder…*

Angus: Ach! Ya’ daft basturd! Git it throo yer thick noggin’!  Isna gunna happen!

*Check engine light goes on*

I wish this were as far-fetched as it seems.

Perhaps some background will help convince you.

My current car is in the ninth year of it’s miserable tortured existence with me.  I consider it “tortured” because although it only has 36,000 miles on it, it looks and sounds like it was the loser of several demolition derbys.  I attribute this to the fact that in those nine years I have only rewarded the car with “maintenance” when it has vigorously and loudly complained for long periods of time.

For example, I remember several years ago when it started to make a kind of banging noise; the kind of noise you associate with a stereotypical gas-guzzling jalopy of a car.  Using my intimate knowledge of the workings of an internal combustion engine, I instantly recognized this noise as “bad”.

MyCar

I deduced that the longer I waited, the worse the damage would be, and thus I knew that I hadn’t a minute to waste.  So, I brought the car into the repair shop after only 2 months, and subjected myself to a very uncomfortable conversation with the mechanic.  They always assume that since I have a penis, I must know how a car works.  This is basically how that exchange sounds to me:

Me: My car is broken. It’s making a banging noise. Please fix it.

Mechanic: When was the last time you rotated the flanges on the carburetor?

Me: I, um…

Mechanic: Are the pistons synchronized with the distributor?

Me: I don’t…

Mechanic: C’mon man!  Speak up!  Have you calibrated the gear ratio of the alternator?!

*I start to cry*

This is why I avoid mechanics.

To make matters worse, when I came to pick up my car, the mechanic informed me that there was no oil in the car — not a single drop — and that he had “fixed” my car by simply adding some.  He delivered the news with an expression on his face that I can only describe as a mixture of disgust and horror; the kind of look a good person would give a parent that they just caught beating a crippled child.  In his mind, this kind of negligence was completely unforgivable… a black mark on my manhood record.

I’m sure that immediately after I walked out, he reported the event to the manhood authorities.  Combined with my hatred of sports and distaste for beer, my record probably categorizes me as female; if I am ever apprehended I will probably have to turn in my testicles.

But, despite all this, I still have not made any real effort at all to learn more about how cars work.  Any knowledge about cars that I have gained over the years has been purely accidental.  That is… up until recently when I tried to add oil to my car.

A few weeks ago my car began to make that same banging noise again, and even I put two-and-two together to figure out that it probably needed some oil.  So I drove over to my local auto-parts store to buy some, figuring… how hard could it be?

I entered the store and eventually found the aisle with the oil.  And that was when I encountered problem #1: There are about 7 trillion different types of motor oil.  Silly me, I thought this was going to be the easy part!  Apparently walking into an auto-parts store and asking for “oil” is like walking into a coffee shop and asking for “coffee”.  Anyhow, after asking for some help, which took a while because they couldn’t believe that a man was born without such knowledge, I bought some “5W30”, and a small funnel.

I left the store feeling pretty good; I had the tools I needed to make my car shut it’s whiny pie-hole.  I walked confidently up to my car, opened the hood, and… that’s where problem #2 came up: Where the hell does the oil go?

I really wish I was kidding here.  I spent no less than 10 minutes looking for a place to pour this oil, and could not for the life of me find it.  I was probably about 30-seconds away from simply pouring it over the engine and calling it a day, but instead I resorted to sitting in my car and doing a Google search on my phone.  I even watched a small video on “How to change your oil” on YouTube.

Using my new-found knowledge, I located the wily little cap (which had a picture of an oil-can in it, by the way) and I poured in the oil that my car so desperately needed.  It took a few miles, but eventually the banging noise stopped, which made be feel like I had actually accomplished something in spite of all my stumbling stupidity.

And so, In the end, it all worked out; I got the right oil, and somehow got it into the right place in the engine.  My car stopped it’s percussive complaining, and I don’t have to go to the mechanic again.  And lastly, I learned a little something about cars, and thus get to keep my testicles a little while longer.

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2009 in Uncategorized