Wednesday, April 29, 2009

If I Had a Million Dollars, Part Two

I had a dream last night that I came home and found a wooden pole staked into the front lawn of my house, and tied to this pole was a notice that I had won $450 in the lottery.

When I woke up, I heard on the radio that Lotto 6/49 is up to 32 million dollars. Since my dream was precognitive in some sense, I'm buying a lottery ticket in hopes that the winning part will come true too. Here is what I will do when I win:


  • Buy a full gas mask and pink hazmat suit. Attach little piggy ears to it. Also: a little curly tail.  Go about my daily chores with it on. If anyone asks, I'm just doing my part to prevent swine flu.
  • Place barrels of explosive and possibly radioactive material in various places around my apartment, like in any decent action movie. That way, when there is an action-packed shoot-out in my apartment (as there inevitably will be), both stray bullets and strategically placed shots will create some pretty sweet explosions.
  • Wait until the lottery's jackpot is higher than the cost of buying every possible combination of numbers. For example, for 6/49, there are about 14 million combinations, so at $2 a ticket, when I win 32 million today, it'll cover the 28 million for a guaranteed win, then I can pocket the difference.
  • After squandering all my winnings because I failed to realize the one key flaw in the above reasoning, I will resume my plan to make several million dollars through scientificially questionable self-help books and/or selling t-shirts for my blog(s).


See also: Part One

Monday, April 27, 2009

If You Don't Like Swine Flu, Stop Having Sex With Pigs

Here is some perspective.

There have been six cases of swine flu in Canada so far.

The chance of dying from swine flu if you get it is less than 1%.

So if you randomly shuffled Canada's 33 million people and gave six of them swine flu, the probability of you dying from it is about .0000000018 . *

In comparison, your probability of dying if you throw yourself out of an airplane once every year (i.e., skydive) is about .00001, or about 10 000 times higher than of dying from swine flue. If you drive an average amount, your probability of crashing and dying is about .00016, or about 100 000 times higher than dying from swine flu.

In other words, if you're worrying about swine flu right now, after driving to / from work today, you're 100 000 times more worried than you should be. We all accept a baseline of risk that we don't (and can't) worry about too much. It makes no sense whatsoever to start going apeshit over new things that fall below that level of risk just because the media is freaking out about it in order to catch your valuable attention.

And there's nothing wrong with the media's freakout; we need to be informed, especially in a situation where it could rise above that acceptable level of risk if we don't do anything about it. But unless it gets to that point, we shouldn't let our emotional thirst for drama and novelty outweigh the cold but comfortable logic of mathematics.






* =6/33000000*.01

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P.S. I went to Pod Camp London on Saturday and it was awesome. I'll write about it tomorrow if I think about anything that hasn't already been said. Oh and I must credit Dan Brown, who I met there, with tweeting the title for today's post, which I stole.

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Added 6:37 pm: P.P.S. Today's xkcd agrees:



Thursday, April 23, 2009

This Shirt Goes to 11






This is from my favourite shirt. It's 78% bamboo and 28% cotton, making it a full 6% more comfortable than the laws of mathematics allow it to be.



Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day and Plastic Bags

Today is Earth day, and it was announced that Loblaws will start charging for plastic bags. It's in a partnership with the World Wildlife Fund, and framed as an environment-enhancing way of keeping bags out of landfills and from "blowing around the neighbourhood."


The most beautiful thing I've ever seen.


Listen, I do everything I can to not be a dick to the earth. My carbon footprint is so low that one day, people will be digging way down at the center of the earth, and they'll be like "how did footprints get here? They are so low." I reduce, reuse, and recycle.

But the thing with plastic bags is, does anyone actually throw them away? Everyone I know keeps them around for reusing them. There are entire kitchen accessories for holding bags. Personally, I need a constant supply of bags to use as garbage bags, to transport stuff around, to shelter stuff from rain, to pick up dog shit, etc. I don't think I've ever just thrown a plastic bag in the garbage. When my supply is high I'll bring a reusable bag to the store, but otherwise I'll take advantage of the free bags they provide. Sometimes I feel like an ass doing it, but hey, if everyone around me is loading a box of single-use Glad garbage bags into their fancy reusable canvas bag, then I'm not the ass.

It seems to me that charging for bags will only accomplish two things: 1) It will discourage reusing plastic bags, since people will now (for either psychological or financial reasons) be more apt to buy bags separately then only use them once; and 2) It will make Loblaws and Glad a lot of extra money.

And that's, sadly, what much of the environmental "movement" is about. It's a marketing gimmick designed to fool consumers into paying more money for the same products and being happy to do so. Certainly we should be doing everything we can to preserve this lovely planet, but unfortunately doing that now requires sifting through a lot of bullshit. The backlash this causes will do more harm than good. Being green should be accomplished by listening to common sense and peer-reviewed research, not people who are trying to sell you stuff.



Monday, April 20, 2009

Putting Weird Things in Coffee

I'd like to announce the birth of a new blog. I've been saying for a while that I want to create a more specialized blog to go alongside this one. Something that fills, or perhaps creates, a niche that nobody else has ventured into. I thought of making a food blog - something catchy, like, say, http://www.omnomblog.com - but there are thousands of food blogs out there (some of them more awesome than I could do).

I'm also lazy, so I figured, why not make a blog about something I do every day anyway? I drink coffee every day. I get bored easily and put weird things in coffee every day. And so it came to be: Putting Weird Things in Coffee.

Check it out if you're into coffee. Suggestions are welcome. And I will never forget that you were there for me way before I became internet-famous and made a million dollars selling T-shirts and mugs.



Thursday, April 16, 2009

Underheard

I am sad to announce that I lost a dear friend today. My iPod, who I affectionately named PseudoPod because he was like an extension of myself, died this morning at approximately 9:30 a.m. I don't know what happened; he was fine one minute, then just suddenly stopped working after I dropped him on the sidewalk.

R.I.P ... od.

It felt strange to leave the house today without headphones in my ears. I am so used to having only sweet sweet music conquering my sense of hearing that the world seemed like a different place; a cacophonous yet strangely quiet place, where cars make weird honking noises before running into you.

I thought it would be nice to enjoy some of the things I'd been missing, like listening to the babbling of a brook, reading on the bus, and the joy of overheard conversations. As I was walking down Richmond, I was behind a young boy, maybe 6 years old, and a man who was at that weird age where you can't tell if he's a dad or a grandpa. The boy started holding the man's hand when they crossed the street. Aww, cute. But then the man turned to the boy and I overheard him say, "don't hold my hand. People are gonna think you're gay, or some other kinda weirdo."

I guess it's never too early to start kids on strict regimen of bigotry. And maybe overheard conversations are not always a joy.


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Speaking of bigotry, check out the heated debate over at my good frenemy Dani's blog of horrors.

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Oh and one of the wonderful things about having a blog is that I can rely on what I wrote here, instead of my memory, to know what I was thinking in the past. I got my iPod in September 2006, and my blog archive of that month was pretty much all about the newborn iPod. Apparently I've added about 5000 songs to my collection since then. Wow. That's one reason I'm not too torn up about its death: I needed more storage capacity anyway.



Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Forever. Forever Ever. Forever Ever?

The concept of forever is a funny one.

We all know that nothing lasts forever. When first falling in love - and in the special rare cases where it lasts, for several decades afterward - we have the gut feeling that it will last forever. Marriage, if we go down that road, makes this explicit. But rationally, we know that one day, one of us, then the other, will die.

Those fancy renovations on the house we buy together, part of us thinks they'll be a permanent improvement in our lives. But one day we'll get sick of the colour and repaint, or we'll sell the house, and surely, one hopefully distant day, the whole building will be rubble. An artist's life's work, her greatest masterpiece, will one day be dust, or worse, forgotten. We make investments with time and money for the future, building a foundation for the lives of our future selves, our children, our grandchildren, our grandchildren's children, ad perputuum. But we know now more than ever that banks collapse, dynasties end, nations crumble. One good nuclear war, or one good blast from some unimaginable future weapon, and seven billion lifetimes of preparing for forever are sunk.

Let's float up to an even wider view. This planet, this solar system, this galaxy, they're just tiny drops in the pond of the universe. We don't know if time flows off forever into the past and the future, but we do know that the parts relevant to life as we understand it were formed at a definite starting point and, unless something drastic happens, have a definite end point. In between, any number of unknowns could cause a ripple in spacetime that washes our galaxy into the same irrelevance it had before it was formed. There is no room for forever in our universe.

We're left, then, with the conclusion that when someone expresses that something - anything - is forever, they are making a poorly reasoned guess at best, and outright lying at worst. What's incredible is that we even have a word for it, and that we can even fathom the concept in our minds. It's one of those words, like forever's cousin infinity, that is immediately understandable on the surface but a terrifying void underneath. Like swimming out too far in the sparkling ocean and suddenly there's just blackness all the way down. We invent ways to allay this terror - marriage, religion*, the afterlife - but it's just maintaining that surface illusion. Perhaps a necessary illusion - would we ever start to create anything if we knew it would soon be gone? - but an illusion nonetheless.

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"If what they say is, 'nothing is forever,' then what makes (what makes), what makes (what makes), love the exceeeption."
--Outkast, Hey Ya!

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* Footnote: Buddhism excepted.

Related uplifting post: Coffee and the heat death of the universe.





Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Book Review: The Road, by Cormac McCarthy

The Road is an extremely bleak tale about a father and son's struggle to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. That's about all there is to it. But between the lines of the glaringly minimalistic prose are themes of love, hope, morality, and even a bit of faith.

This is not an uplifting book; it's clear from the beginning that it takes place in a dead, brutal world with no hope of recovering. But in just a few simple words at a time, McCarthy makes the characters and the relationship between them believable; you want them to get through it with both their bodies and their souls intact. And they are in such desperate circumstances that when they find even the smallest of comforts in the dead world, it has an emotional impact that is rarely expressed in the post-apocalyptic subgenre. The Pulitzer prize The Road received in 2007 was, in my opinion, well deserved.

On a tangential note, I pictured the nameless father in the book as looking like Christian Bale, because for some reason, I thought Bale was playing him in the upcoming movie adaptation.  When you don't look too closely, it could even be him on the cover of the book (I challenge you to identify who it actually is).  Do you picture characters in books as looking like celebrities?  Am I normal?

Monday, April 13, 2009

If I Had a Million Dollars

Things I'd do if I won a million dollars:
  • Get a new vacuum. My vacuum sucks. Wait, no, it doesn't suck; it blows. No...it...it's not a good vacuum OK??
  • Write random formulas and crudely drawn pictures of the end of the world all over my walls, to simulate being an insane scientist in a bad science fiction movie. When the walls are filled, hire painters to undo it. Repeat.
  • Buy a guitar just so I can play it really badly but intensely, then smash it. But before doing so, I will realize how stupid and wasteful this is, and instead donate the guitar to an orphan or a failed rock star or an orphan rock star.
  • Hire someone to fold laundry. The idea of paying people money to come to my place and do stuff for me - like having a maid or butler - kinda weirds me out. Nobody should have to serve me just because I have more money. But seriously, fuck folding laundry. I'll both pay someone to do it, and go to their place and do some mundane task that's not as shitty as laundry folding, like maybe clean their kitchen counters. I love cleaning counters, especially with a nice full bottle of all-purpose cleaning spray, a Mr. Clean magic eraser, and/or a ShamWow.
  • Buy a lot of printer ink, then go to Flickr and print off pictures of random things like sea bass and Ramen noodles and the Eiffel tower. Then lay out hundreds of these pictures on the floor all around me, to simulate being an insane detective in a bad mystery movie. After staying up all night staring at my piles of pictures, someone will come knocking to ask me what is wrong, and I will ignore them and keep shuffling pictures on the floor. Then I'll get this intense look in my baggy red crazy-eyes, and I'll put two pictures beside each other, and the mystery will be solved. I'll finally know that the fish did it with the noodle at the Eiffel tower.
  • Take a trip to Paris, not for pleasure, but because I've now had to turn in my badge for that overly rough interrogation, and nobody believes me about the sea bass, but I'm the only one who can save the world.
  • Wait where am I? Why am I writing this?


THIS IS NOW A MEME. YOU HAVE BEEN TAGGED.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Homemade Oreo Cookies

I promised to make a dessert for a pot luck dinner party yesterday (thanks Lindsay!), but after leaving it until the last minute, forgot the fact that yesterday was Good Friday and the grocery stores were all closed. But as if by some miracle from zombie-Jesus himself, another recipe that Jason had sent me just happened to contain only ingredients that I had lying around the kitchen.

It was this recipe for homemade Oreo cookies that I printed out. Here is how they ended up:

Pretty good I think!

I made a few modifications: 1) I used normal Fry's cocoa. I don't know what Dutch cocoa is. 2) I only used baking soda, no baking powder, because I thought they were the same thing. 3) I only baked the wafers for about 6 minutes at 350 degrees. I followed the directions for the first batch and they were too crispy. My oven is kinda fucked though, so your mileage may vary. 4) I don't have fancy mixer or piper things, so I just stirred it all by hand and used a sandwich bag with a hole in it to apply the filling. 5) Obviously, these were Double Stuf Oreos.

The regular vanilla flavour tasted remarkably like real Oreo filling, but I experimented with other flavours. I had some white chocolate mint hot chocolate mix, so I added that in and it made delicious mint Oreo filling. In the future I'd like to try peanut butter, caramel, sausage, and as suggested by TheTiniest, Pop Rocks.


They look even better in context. Drool.

There were no leftover cookies, so I guess people liked them. I thought they were pretty good, but honestly, not the best ever. I always prefer actual chocolate to chocolate-flavoured wafer stuff. Worth a try for something different, though.

Oh, and obviously they go well with milk.

Again, recipe is here.

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Edit:

Bonus food porn I found on my camera! Peanut butter microwave chocolate brownie. This one was recommended by Tornwordo (because apparently I only make recipes sent by blogfriends).




Adapted from Antilope's Microwave Chocolate Mug Brownie. Super easy to make in just a few minutes. I just added peanut butter to the dough and a spoonful on top for good measure.


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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Retweet FAIL

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Hey WTF, E! Online stole my headline.


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Get "Smart"

Sometimes I think the universe reads my blog, because look what the fates decided to place in my mailbox shortly after that last post:



Direct your attention to the lower right-hand corner, where we are assured that this edition of Get Smart has 62% more "laughs."  Having seen the movie, if these new "laughs" are of the same caliber as the rest of the movie, the quotes are justified.  I don't think that's how they meant it though.

It's also pertinant to point out the correct use of quotes right beside the incorrect use. Unless they meant to emphasize how funny and exciting it was, rather than attribute the quote to a critic.  Does it then count as plagiarism?

There's also the "hilarious" technique of throwing out a random number. Sixty two percent! It's funny because you can't quantify laughs! What will they think of next?

Please note that I don't really give a shit about grammar or punctuation in the vast majority of situations. Go ahead and abuse the language in everyday conversation, instant messages, even a blog. People don't actually talk in accordance with the arbitrary rules of grammar, and it would sound funny if they did.  It's only when a message needs to be clearly communicated to a lot of people - like on a sign, or in marketing materials, or on a DVD case - that it should be perfect. With hilarious results when it's not.

Time to go watch Naked Gun 33

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Grammar is "Fun"

I have a few favourite typos and grammar mistakes. For example, confusing "Brian" with "brain" is hilarious no matter which one you meant to type. "Porblems" is always more entertaining than "problems."

But the best is the misuse of quotations. Most common grammatical errors have some logical reason behind them, such as confusing words that sound similar (their/there/they're; permeation/permutation), or mistakenly thinking they have the same meaning (which/that, imply/infer). But the misuse of quotations is different, because the common misuse - to add emphasis - is the complete opposite of a correct use - to indicate irony or unusual usage. By trying to draw attention to a word with quotation marks, confused writers actually express that the word is not what it appears to be. It's almost like confusing "yes" with "no"; there is no logical explanation for it.

And since I love mystery and the haphazard stupidity of the English language, it's my favourite mistake.

Examples:


Of course, for anyone with a basic grip on punctuation, this actually means the spoons are not fresh. They are old, rotten spoons. Maybe they should have been kept in the fridge.



This is the saddest place on Earth.




So I guess this means the washroom is for non-paying customers. Either that, or for customers who "pay" through some unusual and undoubtedly sexy method.





And you probably don't want to eat here. *


Correct use of quotation marks isn't very hard to understand. Come on, use your Brian.

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* The examples here, and many more, can be found at the "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Shouting Groceries

Like I said, when I'm on the phone (or on the MSN, or on the Facebook, or on the text messaging), I usually doodle to keep my hands busy. Lately, instead of aimlessly letting the pen wander, I pick a theme and perfect it. Like how Picasso had his blue period, with the theme of blue. Exactly the same thing.



These are turtles that are also vampires.





This is food with moustaches.




These are robots that are vomiting.

I must unmodestly admit that I kinda love the idea of C3PO puking on R2D2, and I want to make a bigger version and hang it on my wall.

...

You can see that the extent of my creativity is basically taking two random words and drawing them together.

...

"Shouting groceries" is apparently a euphemism for barfing, and probably my new favourite phrase.

Bye now.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Peanut Butter Cheesecake

Here is some food porn:











It's from that recipe I mentioned before. I had to make a few modifications. I couldn't find Butterfinger, so I got this stuff instead:



Which was in the peanut butter / nutella section, and recommends spreading on toast. It's come to this? Spreading pure caramel on toast for breakfast? But anyway it worked well in the cheesecake. I even made a few with a dulce de leche center:



I also used graham cracker crumble instead of vanilla wafers, because I like graham crackers. And also, mixing the leftover chocolate and cracker bits, it makes a delicious goo for later:



Modifications I'd make to the recipe if I were to do this again would be to bake the crust for less than 10 minutes (some of mine burned), only put a bit of chocolate on top or it overwhelms the cheese part of the cake, and if you like peanut butter, put more in. In baking and in life, there is always room for more peanut butter.

(Again, recipe is here)

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The Trouble With Rogers, Volume 35

Oh I just can't quit you, Rogers. Or at least, can't quit mocking your dumbassery. Today I had a slight problem with my bill, so gave them a ringy dingy.

Note that one megabyte is approximately one thousand kilobytes. I don't expect most people to know this...unless they're oh, I dunno, selling you something by the kilobyte.

Me: WTF, I got charged $14.76 for 492 KB of data on my phone. That's 3 cents per kilobyte. The current data plans on your web site say it's 3 cents per megabyte.

Roger: Uhh. Yeah. I can't see the web site right now. For as long as I've known it's been 5 cents per kilobyte.

Me: I'm looking at the web site right now. [Reading] "Additional data...3 cents per megabyte."

Roger: Ok, but uh, on your plan, it's 3 cents per kilobyte.

Me: So on my plan, it's ONE THOUSAND times more expensive than the other plans? Isn't that a bit ridiculous?

Roger: Uh, yeah, I'll refund that charge for you, but you'll be charged 3 cents per kilobyte in the future.

Me: Ok thanks. But maybe I should either get another plan or disable the internet so I don't get charged $15.00 per click.

Roger: I will go ahead and disable the internet on your phone.

Me: No, no, don't do that yet, because I still have a data plan I'm paying for. What other plans do you have? [i.e., I am trying to give you an opportunity to sell me something]

Roger: There's a plan for $6.00 for 400 KB.

Me: How much if I go over 400 KB?

Roger: It's $10.00 per MB.

Me: Ah, so that's three times cheaper than what I have now.

Roger: No it would still be 5 cents per KB.

Me: That's more than five times greater than $10.00 per MB.

Roger: [silence]

Me: Uh, I think I'll just keep my current data plan for now and go see what other options exist.


I probably should have been more specific and replaced "other options" with "Bell." Maybe they can make the following important distinctions: 3 vs. 5; KB vs. MB; one versus one thousand.

Did I mention that Rogers has plans such that, if you go over your data allowance by pressing the wrong button, you pay ONE THOUSAND TIMES more than everyone else?

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P.S. Happy April Fools!

APRIL FOOLS! I don't actually wish you a happy April Fools.

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Clarification 04/02/09: The Rogers exchange actually happened. If it was an April Fools joke, I wasn't in on it.

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