Friday, December 01, 2017


CHEEZ-IT tweeted for the first time in a while.

This is where we are as a culture. CHEEZ-IT tweets. And don't get me wrong. I had to actually follow CHEEZ-IT on twitter to get notified of this crucial news. And I may or may not have envisioned an anthropomorphic CHEEZ-IT hunched over a tiny keyboard, groaning its demands to an uncaring world. Through its CHEEZ-IT mouth. Isn't that what the little hole in the CHEEZ-IT is? God I hope so, because the alternative is unpleasant.

Maybe they have an articulated foot-mouth that is housed within their CHEEZ-IT body. Or teeth.

What if CHEEZ-ITs had teeth?

Friday, November 17, 2017

A Few Things

  1. While walking to school this morning, I had The Talk with my daughter. You know, the one about refraction of light, the light spectrum in general, and the non-visible band. She took it pretty well. Although I wonder if there's a name for the momentary panic you feel when you realize you may not actually be right about things you are telling your 8 year old.
  2. I listen to podcasts quite a bit. While I'm driving. While I'm vacuuming or doing the dishes. It's a good way to act like a sullen teen for a while, effectively muting the plaintive cries of your family. And of course, along with 8,000 ads for Blue Apron, Casper Mattresses, and, there are lots and lots of ads for other podcasts. And so many of them are "HELLO WE WILL TELL YOU WHAT IS COOL NOW". It's exhausting. All these people telling you what is cool. They are the new Wacky Morning Shows. And then back to the Casper Mattresses ads. 
  3. Speaking of podcasts, I was listening to This American Life on my drive home the other day and holy hell it was depressing. This particular episode focused on a guy in Japan who had set up a phone box in his front yard to conduct (probably) one-sided conversations with his dead wife. And after the Tsunami disaster, people would come by and speak to their dead relatives on this phone. The episode featured translated audio of people just wailing in existential anguish. And here I am sniffling, driving in the rain, possibly going to crash into a Mitsubishi Lancer because I can't see through my tears. And then I will be dead and my family will have to go to Japan, which is expensive, to talk to me on a phone in this guy's front yard. Thanks Ira Glass. Thanks a lot.

Friday, October 27, 2017


Huh? Did you? Did you? Would you like to be reminded STRANGER THINGS 2 IS ON NETFLIX on every device you own? YES YOU WANT THAT. You want your Internet of Things connected thermostat to tell you STRANGER THINGS 2 IS ON NETFLIX, first as a whisper, but gradually building to an alarming shriek STRANGER THINGS 2 IS ON NETFLIX YOU IDIOT GO WATCH IT NOW.

Every 10 steps your fitbit should scream STRANGER THINGS 2 IS ON NETFLIX just after it delivers a shock through the subcutaneous electrodes in your temples, reminding you that you are flabby as hell.

I know! I know Stranger Things 2 is on Netflix! I really liked the first one, OK? It had D&D jokes and that is pretty much good enough for me. I am a demographic--I know! Leave me the hell alone!


Thursday, September 21, 2017


We use HipChat at work, which is sadly not as hip as Slack. Although it is made by Atlassian, and they are an Australian company, and marsupials are pretty hip (except the very unhip echidna--get it together, echidna). If you want to appear edgy and kicky and down with the kids, you can use these curious image things called emojis in your chats to your coworkers. Weird, I know, but stay with me here.

If I start to type "(thumb..." I am presented with 3 type-ahead choices: (thumbsup), (thumbsdown), and one more--can you guess what it is? (thumbsideways)? (polydactalthumbsup)? No! It's (corpsethumb)! Corpse thumb? Why is that an emoji? Not to mention that the Corpsethumb is only available in the up position! If I was a corpse, I feel secure in saying it would be a thumbs-down situation. Or really more of a thumb-hanging-limp-and-lifeless situation really.

Why not a (handofglory) emoji that would render the receiver catatonic so you can sneak out for a well deserved drink or two until they recover and start sending you more annoying messages to prove that they are actually working and not screwing around looking at pictures of cats.

And if there is not a black metal band called corpsethumb, there really should be.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Monthly Jerk

I once bought my friend Chimmychanga a subscription to the Jerky of the Month Club. I think it was about 8 years ago. And I still hear from The Jerky People regularly. I kind of like it. Tell me of your dried meats.

Look, it's jerky. Jerky is fantastic and beyond reproach. But I don't want to get jerky in the mail. I generally don't want any food in the mail. I mean who knows what Harry and David did with those pears before they got to me? Butt stuff? Maybe. I know you put that one pear in gold foil, Harry and David, but you are not fooling me.

I have been known to devour jerky, and my quest for the perfect jerky is still told of in song and legend, when I and my merry band of peckish minions bravely traveled forth from Camelot on a years-long adventure that I think was about trying to capture virility. I don't know. I took a lot of lit theory classes in college.

The whole "of the month club" idea seems like like it has not been fully explored. How about a Pants of the Month Club where they send you unflattering pants that you have to wear every single day of the month in which they are received? That would be part of the club--a team of guys surveilling you and meting out punishment if you didn't wear the pants one day. I don't know what the punishment would be.

I can't think of everything.

Friday, August 04, 2017

I look like a frankenstein

I just thought everyone should know that I look like a frankenstein.

What happened was that I knocked heads with a coworker while playing basketball the other day. The top of his head hit me just under the eyebrow. That sounds a little passive-voice though. It's not like his head detached and zoomed into my eye like the last desperate gasp of Voltron, or like the Hellboy story Heads where a bunch of disembodied heads chase him around. No, this was your garden-variety head-to-head collision. I was playing TENACIOUS DEFENSE (or at least I think I was--I am not really very good at basketball) and went for a steal just as he turned his head. He made a sound like "Waaaaaah!" and staggered off. I made more of an "uhhhhhhhhh!" sound and ran off the other way, my hand pressed to my eye as blood spouted, making a pleasing blood puddle that no doubt frightened innocent children who would show up to the court later that day.

When you get an injury while playing a sport with your coworkers, you will have some percentage of them who insist that it is fine, some that say you have to go to the ER, and some who just kind of check out of the situation or look vaguely nauseated by the whole thing. Several of my coworkers ran for first-aid kits, thrust tissues at me, and one even insisted I wrap a huge gauze bandage around my head like a Civil War casualty, which seemed both anachronistic and a little much. Eventually I drove my self over to the Urgent Care where I got six stitches in my eyebrow area plus one "internal stitch" (which makes me queasy just thinking about it.)

So, like I said, I look like a frankenstein now. Six stitches in the eyebrow and a big, swollen black eye that makes me look like I'm going through a Bowie phase and felt like having one sultry smoky eye for a while.

If you are familiar with my head-injury work, you will will recall such exciting moments as "forehead lacerated by another soccer player's teeth", "knocked unconscious by ski", and a spectacular top-of-the-head bump on the Berliner Dom stairs.

Truly, an idiot for all seasons.

Friday, July 07, 2017

A List of Ideas

I feel like I used to have a lot of great ideas. When I look at my notes now, I am not impressed.

In no particular order:
  1. Last Supper replica with characters from Popeye replacing all the disciples.
  2. A tiny drone that cuts your hair/gets your hair caught in its propellers.
  3. Bananas, but smaller.
  4. Sentient cling wrap (or cling wrap that is willing to admit it has always been sentient.)
  5. New monster that has all the best qualities of Dracula and Toilet Duck.

---UPDATE! Apparently I was not the only visionary:

Friday, June 23, 2017

Some Great Reward

I have a vague notion that I should not participate in rewards clubs at stores. They will get my information! They will harvest me and sell me! I will become a cog in a meaningless machine--well, more of a cog than I already am. I will be only my data, my likes and dislikes. My shoe size and proclivities. My preference for romaine over iceberg. And my open contempt for savoy cabbage.

So I don't participate in any rewards clubs--although now that I think about it, that is not true. I have a card thing for Petco, because that is Where the Pets Go, and surely a place of pets means me no harm and would never rise up against us. Oh and BevMo, because I enjoy receiving a 5% off coupon once a year that I have never once remembered to use (and 5% doesn't even cover the tax!) So apart from those two--no clubs!

But the real reason I eschew these clubs is to disappoint cashiers.

Look, I know the poor cashiers are forced to ask me to sign up for the club. They get a bonus or something.

"Are you a club member? No?! Would you like to join?"
"No? It only takes a minute!" they say as they get the sign-up form ready.
But I am wise to them. No, I say. I will not join your club.

One hardware store in particular, I always make a point to go to the same cashier, because he asks me so plaintively, every single time. And I always say no. In fact, last time, he even responded with "Well, I am just asking, sir," as if I had wounded him to the quick.

It is also great to waver about signing up for a club when there are people behind you in line, possibly holding ice cream or other frozen confectioneries. Only take a minute, you say? Great! I will just stand here writing my name and address incredibly slowly while these people's ice cream melts. The people behind you in line in this situation are within their rights to murder you in cold blood and kick your body around the town square or other local landmark.

Monday, June 05, 2017

four-foot tall rastafarian-themed banana

I felt that my daughter just hadn't spent enough time around carnies in her young life, so to remedy that situation, we took her to a carnival this weekend. The type of carnival that springs up in a parking lot this time of year. Possibly I had forgotten this, but it turns out carnivals are incredibly expensive. This one had tickets for a dollar each, and one ride on the ferris wheel was five tickets. That means it was 15 dollars for my wife, daughter, and me to ride the ferris wheel for maybe 4 minutes. While you can't put a price on not knowing exactly how safe you and your family are, that still seemed a little steep. Even the midway games, with their aggressive barkers, were three to five tickets a go.

Note that I did not try any of the games, much as that seemed to rankle the barkers. And I somehow convinced my wife that even though the four-foot-tall rastafarian-themed stuffed banana was charming hanging there in the booth, it might lose its charm in three and a half weeks when we exiled it to the garage to gather dust and possibly be savaged by raccoons. Besides, it seemed a little racist.

But I tried to see it through my daughter's eyes. Not the four-foot tall rastafarian-themed stuffed banana, but the carnival itself. Was a carnival still a place of magic and wonder? Were Jim Nightshade and Will Halloway hiding from Mr. Dark somewhere? The Magic Mirror Maze was now a three-dollar fun house that she popped out of in about thirty seconds.

I guess when Adventure Time is on demand and Mario Kart beckons on the 3DS, the carnival is not what it used to be.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Crushing Weight of the Truth

I participate in a trivia league. It's fairly well-known. You participate in a match each day of the season--answering questions and ascribing points to each answer, competing against another nerdo like you, in a a series of ranked divisions. Like English soccer leagues, there are promotion and relegation between divisions.

While this is truly a great way of making matches competitive, it also brings home in no uncertain terms, just how dumb you are. And I am plenty dumb. The divisions are ranked from A to E. I am currently in D. I briefly soared as high as C, when the wax abruptly melted from my wings and I plummeted Icarus-like into D, where I have remained--not quite the worst, but close.

This trivia league can bring you moments of elation, when--in a very unlikely pull--you remember what a Scalene triangle is. But it can also bring on very weighty bouts of self-loathing. Just the other day I failed to correctly answer this question:
A 2017 animated film subtitled The Lost Village is a reboot not connected to two previous films from this decade that also feature what characters?
The answer is, of course, The Smurfs.

Now, I watched hours and hours of The Smurfs when I was a kid, and played Smurf Adventure on the ColecoVision more than anyone really should have, and yet I couldn't get the lost VILLAGE hint. Although to be fair, I consider the new Smurf films to be out of continuity, and the fact that they completely ignore the Gargamel/Smurfette dichotomy recognized globally by Smurf Scholars means they cannot be considered canon.

I said Minions. Minions?! What the hell is wrong with me.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Owl Dream

Last night I had a dream that there was an owl in the house. If you're like me, you probably have a couple of thoughts when you hear that someone dreamed about an owl.

First, alien abduction. That's just a given. You dream about an owl, that means you had a bunch of jerks from Alpha Centauri messing with you all night and you wake up thinking about an owl because it's a cover memory they left you with instead of letting you remember all their cool space stuff.

Second, I am totally going to die. While that is provably true, I don't think the owl in my dream meant me any harm. Owls, of course, call your name right before you die, which is another owl thing, besides pooping mouse bones and licking tootsie pops. This phenomenon has been well documented in Scooby Doo episodes, so must be true.

But as I get further away from the owl dream, I wonder if the owl wasn't actually the charming Bubo the owl from Clash of the Titans, whom anyone would be pleased to have in their dream, what with the chirping and mechanical head rotation and all.

Also, in the dream I shooed the owl out our back door, and later I saw it hanging out with some blackbirds, although it was unclear whether they were bird friends. Maybe they were networking, although I did not see any finger foods or coffee. And at another point in the dream there was a cat, like a lynx or a bobcat or something. It was basically Wild Kingdom in my dream is what I'm saying.

I hope we all learned a little something here.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Merge

I am a dad, so I think about certain things a lot. Elvis Costello. Cargo shorts. And merging.

Merging is fraught with peril, as we all know. You're counting on someone to do the right thing, to uphold the social contract. And yet, so often, some filthy youngster breaks that contract--the very thread that holds our fragile society together--and fucks it up for everyone.

But I want to tell you, this morning I had a merge so pleasant, so perfect, that it restored my faith in humans as a species.

All the ingredients were there for disaster: a UPS truck. A minivan with butterfly stickers on the back window. An Uber. You were merging from the right, minivan with butterfly stickers, and I admit it--I doubted you. I was sure that at some point during the merge you would hit the brakes for no apparent reason, or panic and bail out into another lane, screwing everything up. And you, Uber guy--you were inexplicably not on your phone, and did not make alarming feints or attempt to outlast the minivan in a battle of wills.

No! Everyone performed their roles beautifully, and we slid zipperlike into the lane with such nonchalance that I could have sworn I heard--just for a second--a heavenly choir. singing our praises.

And I thought maybe I could stay in this moment forever, appreciating its perfection. But in the end I still had to go to work, and some troglodyte cut me off at the next light.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Better Off

A couple of weeks ago, I went skiing for the first time in a while. Let's be generous here and say 28 years. The last time I had been before that, I was about 16 years old, and I managed to knock myself unconscious and had to be pulled down the mountain on one of those little ski-patrol sleds with a severe concussion. It was not like the movie Hot Dog: The Movie at all. More like that movie Awakenings which I am pretty sure is about Robin Williams annoying coma patients until they break out of their fugue state to tell him to shut up. Too soon? Maybe.

I figured it was time to take my daughter skiing, since she is seven and hopefully still able to zoom down the slopes with zero regard for her own personal safety, as I was wont to do when I was seven. Hopefully she will not follow the same arc that led me to potential brain damage, but I don't want to enforce my world view on her.  So we drove up to a cheapo ski place to enjoy the crazy amount of snow we have gotten here in California this year. Predictably, my daughter was not that interested in skiing, but did follow through with a half-hour lesson and could probably be enticed into further slaloming if it involves candy and/or extra video games.

I spent the first couple of hours at the ski place playing with her and her friend, hurling them around on innertubes, and watching them take lessons, while my wife and our friends were off humiliating themselves on the slopes in their own ski lessons. 

Then it was time for me to join in the EXTREME ACTION of radical downhill! That's what the green circle and nearly-flat slope mean, right?

And surprisingly it all came back to me pretty well. The balance and skiing part I mean, not the traumatic memories of a ski popping off and hitting me under the chin, so I lay prone and lifeless in the snow for an unknown period of time, although those did come back to me as well. I didn't fall off the chair lift--in fact I didn't even fall down once, though as I mentioned the slope I was on was pretty close to flat, so nothing much would have happened anyway.

And I realized I forgot how much I enjoyed it--the skiing part, not the unconsciousness part. I could give the unconsciousness thing a miss, honestly.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Various Weird Things

I've always liked the supernatural. And when things get really terrible, these things become very appealing to me. I'm not talking about those jerks who go wandering around old mental hospitals at night with sweet night vision gear--no I'm talking about happy enclaves of believers like on the Fortean Times forums. I can easily lose several hours in the It Happened to Me forum, reading about such mysteries as a handwritten note that appeared to be in the poster's handwriting... Could it be that some people have very similar handwriting? While that is arguably possible, it is much more likely that someone has invented a time machine and the poster availed himself of said time machine, just to travel back in time and mess with his own head.

Also somewhat unsettling: Paranormal Date. Unclear whether it is possible to date an actual paranormal entity, and I did not go so far as to sign up and find out. While it might sound nice to step out with the ghastly spectral apparition of a Civil War widow who forever haunts the site of the battlefield where her beloved Obediah gave his life, wailing eternally for release from this hell, maybe just try hanging out in the produce section of your local supermarket and meeting a nice living person instead. Not that I'm telling you how to live your life. If you want to date a poltergeist, that is just fine and I support you. But don't think you are bringing it home for the holidays. Not under my roof.

Bonus weird link: I present you with a headline that is either fantastically good news or really terrible news, depending where you are: Testicle Eating Fish May Be Migrating.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Fruit Dystopia

Look, I am not saying genetic engineering is a great idea. I'm not not saying it either--I wouldn't be adverse to a few extra appendages or mystifying superpowers. Of course not.

What I am saying is that there are 21 seeds in this honey tangerine. Twenty-one! It's demonic.

I would be willing to settle for 4, maybe 5 seeds in this delectable citrus treat. 10 is the absolute maximum. But twenty-one?!

Let's get to work, Monsanto.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Tales of Adventure

Did you think I was gone again? I know, I have disappeared for years at a time in the past, and you wondered Where did he go, this gentle superman? Was he ever here at all--was he in fact just a fever dream I had one day because I ate something unspeakable from the back of the fridge?

But not this time. I return to you after mere weeks away, with tales of adventure.

What happened was I went to London for about ten days. This involves flying on airplanes. And, excitingly, I flew into London on the day of a crazy windstorm, so our plane got to circle Heathrow several times, dipping and rising sickeningly as the winds whipped about us. Very close to reaching-for-the-bag. (and on the return trip, the flight attendant confirmed that there was much barfing on that particular flight.)

Most of my time in London was spent visiting relatives, which was mighty fine. I am of the first generation in my family to be born in America, so pretty much all the family is in England, and I see them only rarely when I can make it over.

And because I traveled only with my two sisters, who returned to California before I did, I got a rare few days of walking around London alone. Well, alone if you don't count the thousands of tourists also walking around. And because I was alone, I could pick anywhere I liked.

I went to Highgate Cemetery, where (among many others) Douglas Adams, Karl Marx, and Malcolm MacLaren are buried. I went to Shepherd's Bush kind of by accident and failed to find Mick Jones's old squat (and got into a QPR-supporters-only pub where I managed not to get beat up.) I went and saw T2 Trainspotting in Leicester Square and told drunken British types to shut up during the film.

Also while I was in England, I managed to get on British radio. I listen to a podcast called Mystery Hour, in which delightfully English people call in with random questions and other delightfully British people call in with answers. And the delightfully British host calls people "prunes" when he feels like disparaging the quality of their questions. My seven year old daughter finds this hilarious.

So I called in with a somewhat dull question (about Scrabble)--but this was only a pretext to get the host to call me a prune, so my daughter could hear the podcast. And to my surprise, not only did I get on the program, but the host did indeed call me a prune.

I played the podcast for my daughter when I returned, and while she agreed I was a prune of the highest order, she also said I was "the best dad" for doing it, and moments like that are pretty good.

If you are interested in hearing my terrible voice, you can get the podcast for free here. It's the March 2nd episode.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Alternator Facts

Update: I did not maim and/or kill myself fixing my dishwasher and now I wander around the house telling my wife about the other things in the house that I could probably fix. Of course, I have no intention of actually doing any of those things, and my success with stunningly simple dishwasher was followed almost immediately by almost setting the house on fire with the toaster.

No, this self-congratulatory preening is simply the price my family must pay in the rare occasions that I fix something correctly, and will soon fade as I fail spectacularly at trying to clear a drain clog or something similarly humiliating.

Also, karma reared its ugly head soon after my dishwasher success and the alternator in my car died. Conveniently, this occurred when both my wife and daughter were in the car and we were a good 60 miles from home. And indeed, the car completely died when were about halfway home in backed-up traffic on Highway 1, that scenic highway favored by car ads, where one might drive along breathtaking ocean vistas when one is not aware that their car might die at any second.

As it happened, the systems in the car started to fail as I approached a huge backup of cars and, knowing the feeling from years of driving shitty cars, I pulled onto the shoulder and willed the car to make it to that turn-off about 500 yards ahead. Somehow it did make it, just as all the power failed, and I pulled the non-powered, quickly locking steering to a remarkably safe spot on the side of a side road.

The rest of the story involves tow trucks, battery-packs, and 800 dollars.*

*And of course, when I told my coworker my tale of alternator woe, he was kind enough to listen politely until the end of the story before pointing out that I could have merely opened up the alternator and replaced the "brushes" for about 50 dollars.

So now my coworker is dead.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Expert Plans

I just want to warn you, I may be attempting to fix my dishwasher this weekend. It is easy. I have watched one video on YouTube and if a guy who had his thumb over the camera a good 60% of the video's runtime can do it, I can do it, by god!

What's wrong with the dishwasher is that a whole lot of water comes out of the airgap. I only know it is called an airgap because my sister told me about a dishwasher repair guy who wants to make money selling seasonal airgap covers, like for instance a Santa airgap cover. That, frankly, sounds a little disturbing because if your airgap is leaking like mine is, you're going to see a tiny Santa basically urinating all over your countertop.

Our airgap has been leaking for approximately 7 years. The bottom of our under-sink cabinet and the floor under that cabinet are water-damaged and buckling. It is a good thing I have sprung into action so quickly. The damage is at that level where I am somewhere between "we should probably have a look at how bad that is" and "I really don't want to know how bad that is because it is probably really expensive to fix and will make me have to face some harsh truths about myself." I was washing dishes the other day and idly wondered if I would just fall through the floor into our garage (which would not have been terrible because I was eyeing a Le Creuset thing with baked on meat stuff on it and I really did not want to clean it.)

So I watched a video which, as I mentioned, was very professionally shot, and in which a friendly person shows how to take your dishwasher apart and clean the filters. (Also, guy making video, why did you wait to do your dishwasher repair video until both racks were full of dirty dishes?)

My thought process as I watch a video like this is "ok... ok... I can do that... I uh.... maybe I can do that?" and kind of mentally picturing how I will screw it up. Losing all the screws, that's one thing. Bending and/or breaking sensitive parts, that's another. Electrocution? Doesn't seem likely, but would not be surprising given my past home repair efforts. Fingers/hair/entire head/genitals caught in food grinder thing? Again, unlikely, but still possible.

But I am going to do this. And if I do not return, know that I loved you.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017


Sometimes I question my career choice.

Then, of course, I remember I didn't really choose it at all. It just kind of happened. When you have a degree in something spectacularly useful, like my Modern Literature degree, you can pretty much pick your path to financial success--it's true. But somehow I just found myself as a technical writer some twenty-five years ago, despite the fact that I didn't know much about computers really at all. But I knew some engineer types, I could fog a mirror, and I could use Microsoft Word to edit some hardware specifications, so I was in. I think they also asked me if I was proficient in AutoCAD 10, a query to which I nodded and smiled knowingly, despite a sneaking suspicion that AutoCAD was one of those robot taxis from Total Recall.

And then I was off and running. Filing things. Folding D-size papers origami-like into something that would fit in a letter-size drawer. Distributing Engineering Change Orders in bulging manila folders that the responsible parties would ignore. I was happy there in my first office job, taking innumerable cigarette breaks and playing minesweeper while no-one was watching. Hanging out with my Bulgarian co-workers who also seemed never to do any work. And then one day the place went under. Possibly due to some shady goings-on with the CEO. Or possibly because no-one did any work. Never was quite sure.

And somehow, all these years later, my skills are a rainbow of XML, structured authoring, training video creation, Git source management. The Cloud. I find myself reading discussion boards about serif vs sans serif fonts in user manuals. Two spaces or one after a full stop. I have opinions about those things, which no-one should really care about.

Did I have a point here? Not sure. Maybe a cautionary tale.

I do miss the Minesweeper though.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Terrible Food Day

So, I thought it would be a good idea to have Terrible Food Day for my daughter (and, by extension, me). My wife is always buying these healthy things with buckwheat and chia and tiny rocks, and while I appreciate her earnest healthward leanings, I recognize that when you are seven years old, tofu and gravelly grain is not the most appealing.

I started talking about TV dinners to my daughter. The cobbler! You put a TV dinner in the oven and if you wanted the (arguable) meat to be hot, that cobbler was going to be fused like magma. Pirate Picnic--that was my favorite when I was a kid. Games on the box! Nestle's Quik mix included! This is what life was like before Atari.

The excitement was palpable.

So we ventured forth to our local grocery store. I was anticipating a rich array of choices. But the only real TV dinners I could find were Hungry Mans. And I don't think a 50 pound person needs 2 pounds of food. (Incidentally, while we were discussing what terrible food choice we would make, a hungry man approached the Hungry Mans and changed his mind when he heard us. Sorry, Swanson.)

Apart from that there were some Banquet choices, only one of which had a dessert in it, and that one looked pretty terrible. In the end she opted for a kind-of TV dinner featuring chicken nuggets and some macaroni and cheese that was frankly unholy and did not taste even a little like cheese.

I myself opted for the Stouffer's turkey tetrazzini, a foodstuff I consumed throughout high school and college at a truly alarming rate. And I tell you it hasn't changed. In fact the particular box I purchased may have been from 1992--how could you tell?

I also tried to flesh out Terrible Food Day with Chikn-in-a-Biskit crackers. My daughter ate one and sputtered "aaaagh! salty!" I assured her that the chemical reaction taking place in her insides was not just salt--it was Nature's Perfect Food: MSG! And lots of it! But no matter how I tried to explain the wonders of Flavor Enhancer, she would not be swayed.

So anyway, I may have affected her eating habits in a good way by making her eat stuff that tastes even worse than quinoa. She liked the orange soda though.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Is IoT the Next Game Changer?

Will your game change when your toothbrush is talking to your toaster? I'm here to tell you it will.

And the best thing is that dudes in Latvia will be able to listen to your toothbrush too! It may end up like that Gilligan's Island episode where Gilligan was receiving radio signals through his teeth, except this will be a guy named Gregor slowly reciting strings of random numbers into your molars as you massage your gums in the morning. A new world of openness and possibility!

And are you tired of having to manually upgrade your waffle iron to install the newest patch, adding full Netflix capability to what is ostensibly a way to make breakfast? Now you don't have to! Your waffle iron will automatically download the latest kicky apps to keep you entertained!

We must never rest until every single device can stream everything all the time. Until the glorious moment when everything everywhere is released in a half-assed version that we can upgrade remotely to a new version that is deeply insecure and broken in new and exciting ways.

Save your credit card information to your doorbell! It will be fine!

Your medical records should be stored on your connected fridge, which can also generate a playlist based on your fiber intake. Listen to it as you lie immobile on the floor, waiting for the paramedics!

This is the future!

Thursday, January 05, 2017

An Arguably Bad Idea: Monkey Ownership

The surprisingly not awful but still kind of awful tale of people who ordered squirrel monkeys from comic book ads in the 60s and 70s:

It was also capable of riding on the back of the family’s Sheltie collie like a horse. Although the dog didn’t enjoy it, he learned to deal with Chipper. 

I am troubled there is no mention of the late 70s scheme wherein a company would begin sending you small dangerous animals every month until you paid them to stop sending you small dangerous animals. A particularly inspired wrinkle of the scheme was that if you gave the company the names and addresses of three of your friends, you could get them to stop sending the small dangerous animals for an unknowable amount of time. Of course, the scheme was doomed from the outset because once the recipient was killed by the small dangerous animals (and they inevitably were, if not killed, really badly damaged both physically and emotionally) the small dangerous animals tended to pile up at the recipient's address, and you wound up with flocks of small dangerous animals roaming the streets, brandishing their flick-knives at old ladies and generally threatening a god-fearing populace.

Note that this story is like eight years old. I know that. Don't get all huffy with me, sir.

via metafilter

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

The Daddest of the Dads

As one gets older, one realizes certain things about oneself. 

Just after Christmas (and I hope you had a good one), I finally gave in to 2009 and picked up a Blu-Ray player. This had been on my mind for some years, since I upgraded my amp (or is a tuner? God knows) and discovered my DVD player would no longer connect to it in any useful way. Because the crushing march of technology dictates that everything must be HDMI now. And that's good--don't get me wrong...when I am watching my tedious art films I want to see angst and despair at the highest possible resolution. So for several years I have had a basically useless DVD player sitting underneath my TiVo, and I have been watching movies on the Xbox. That's fine as well, as long as you don't mind occasionally being unable to hear anything the actors are saying over the droning whirr.

So anyway, my little Blu-Ray player arrived from Amazon (refurbished! 47 dollars!) and I eyed my component console thing warily. This is a unit with two side-by-side drawers on the bottom for storing media (read: absolutely full drawer of DVDs you look at wistfully from time to time and drawer full of video game peripherals that you're not sure if they still work but figure you had better keep, just in case you ever want to play a Gamecube pinball game where you speak into the controller and control Japanese feudal-age armies again.) Above the drawers, the unit has two side-by-side shelves where you store your components, and tiny little holes through which you feed a vast array of cables. I have wisely broadened those cable-holes over time, ensuring no resale value remains for the unit itself. The shelves are covered by those lift-and-slide cabinet doors that are exactly the height of my amp thing. So every time I slide the amp out to see what the hell is going on back there, the amp grates against the bottom of the cabinet door, leaving gouges and grooves that make it look like it has been the victim of a werewolf attack. Also, all the cables are just exactly the right length so that when you slide the amp out, half of them detach and you have to guess where they previously connected. Or, as I did, you kind of rotate the amp just enough to where the cables don't pop out and you can kind of see the markings on the 27 Ins and Outs, as you shine your iPhone in there, making sure to shine it directly into your eyes a couple of times and panicking you into thinking a migraine is inevitable. 

So I am in there messing around with cords and cables and trying to remember if I have another HDMI cable in the garage (spoiler: I do not) and thinking I should really do something about this nest of cables under my component amp tuner console furniture thing because other people seem to have figured this out but I somehow have not, and what if I somehow used zip-ties and hooked all these cables to the back of the unit? 

And it hits me: I love doing this. I love assing around with cables that connect various electronic things, and reassuring my family that I know exactly what I am doing, nodding to myself sagely before optimistically pressing several remote buttons, only to find out I have screwed up one of the 27 connections in some unknowable way. And swearing, of course.

The daddest of the dads.


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