Thursday, April 29, 2010

Kidney Stone? Aint No Thang.

The term "shout-out" does not give enough credit to the guy I write about today. It's with that in mind that I issue my first ever "Shout-out of all shout-outs" to Colorado Rockies catcher Miguel Olivo.

Olivo headed into the dugout after the top of the 8th inning on Monday's game. There were a few batters before he was up, but Olivo isn't one to just sit around and be unproductive. Olivo headed into the bathroom and passed a kidney stone. During a game. In the middle of an inning. When he emerged from the bathroom, the Rockies got their third out. So he threw on his pads, and went back out there for the 9th inning. In the bottom of the ninth, he went up to bat and hit a single.

I can think of no better recipient of this highest of high fives than Mr. Olivo. Passing a kidney stone is regarded as one of the most painful experiences known to man, but Olivo showed it who is boss. A lot of pro athletes play through pain, and man do I respect them for it. There are a lot of stories out there, and for me this ranks up there. So congratulations sir. Pulling off something like that requires more than just a kidney stone, and for that, I bestow upon you my Shout-out of all shout-outs.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Cereal: The Search for an Angle

Every now and then I will have a thought for an interesting blog post. If I don't have the time to write it right then (I usually don't) I send an email to myself. The subject will be something like "Blog post idea" and then I'll jot down a few words or a couple sentences about the idea. I've had some solid ideas, and plenty of duds as well.

I was going through emails a week or two ago and came across one such email. The subject was "Blog idea" and the email read - "breakfast cereals...something about breakfast cereals. specific angle too be determined"

If you're thinking that is ridiculous, I am right there with you. I have no idea what I was thinking with this one. To be honest, I don't even remember where I was or what I was doing when I thought of it. Anyway, after laughing about it a healthy amount, I decided to try to see if I could make something come of this "idea." I was determined to find the right angle about cereal.

After a week, I had nothing. It's not like I've never touched the subject before. I did an in-depth piece on Captain Crunch, and mentioned the Trix rabbit in my recent post about ninjas. My feelings about Smart Start are no secret. But I was looking for something fresh and all-encompassing. I explained my predicament to and enlisted help from my good friend Liesl.

There was a moment today when I thought I had struck gold: Cereal mascots most likely to be serial killers. Unfortunately, when I sent it through the google machine, my fear was realized: it had already been done.

Liesl sent me her angle: What isn't good with cereal? Sort of a twist on everything is better with chocolate.
Incidentally, do you know what does not go well with chocolate? Cereal. I once poured myself a bowl of Cocoa Krispies, and added a regular serving of chocolate milk. If you've never had Cocoa Krispies, you pour in milk, and by the end, the leftover milk is chocolate milk, having absorbed chocolate off the cereal. I was just trying to be more efficient. What resulted was the most overpoweringly chocolate "thing" I have ever experienced. I still get sugar shudders just thinking about it.

Anyway, the perfect angle is still out there, and I will search on. If you have any ideas, feel free to drop a comment or shoot me an email.

Busy with finals, so don't know how much posting will happen, but best of luck to all my friends who are taking finals! And to soon-be W&M graduates! And really just best of luck to anyone in whatever endeavors you are undertaking!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Superpower or Band Name?...And an Idol Update

I had a delightful lunch today with Leggo my Greggo, Hypersensitive Steele, and Jigga Janine. We came up with a pretty sweet new game. It was inspired by this week's How I Met Your Mother, where Marshall leads the group in a game called "Drunk or Kid," where he tells them a story, and they have to guess whether he was drunk or a kid.

Our version is called "Superpower or Band Name." When someone says something, you have to decide whether it would be a better Superpower or a better name for a band. Now it doesn't work with just anything, it has to be something that could conceivably be either. But it comes up more often than you would imagine.

Our first example was "questionable analogies." There wasn't a lot of argument here. While it would me a pretty lame superpower, questionable analogies is actually a pretty awesome band name. I'm going to go ahead and reserve it now for when the aforementioned lunch bunch start our band.

The lunch went on, and a few other good ones came up. The most came at the very end. It was pretty clear that "Sexual Innuendo" was a lame band name, and a better-than-lame superpower. However, changing the words can be crucial, as shown by our next example. "Double Entendre" came out as a better band name.

Anyway, it's pretty fun. Give it a shot at your next social gathering.

Note: The rest of this post is about American Idol. If you are an Idol hater, you can stop reading now.

For any Idol fans, tonight finally saw the end of the Tim Urban Roller Coaster Experience. Tim made it to Hollywood, but was not originally chosen to be in the Top 24. However, after someone who had made the cut couldn't compete, Tim was called up and invited back. After a string of horrible performances, he managed to get enough votes to keep himself in the competition, eventually making the top 12.

Then, out of nowhere, about 3 weeks ago, he actually started being decent. During Elvis week, his rendition of Can't Help Falling in Love was excellent, and he was out of the bottom 3 for the second week in a row. Then, just as it looked like he might be close to a legit contender, he came out with another lackluster performance this week, which ended up being his last. Fare thee well, Mr. Urban. I think it truly was finally your time.

For me, this show has been a two-horse race for a while now between Lee and Crystal. Crystal is the deserved front runner, and the competition appears to be hers to lose. But don't count Lee out. Crystal's position is very similar to Season 7, where it appeared David Archuleta could kick a kitten on stage and still avoid the bottom 3. But David Cook came on strong, and out-dueled him in what was in my opinion the best Idol finale to date. Also, sometimes actual talent has absolutely nothing to do with picking a winner (See generally Season 5 and Taylor Hicks). Anyway, Lee is a great singer, with a unique voice, he is consistently good week to week, and finally seems to be showing some personality. In other words, he's Kris Allen without the bad weeks (All she wants to do is dance? What were you thinking?) And Allen ended up winning season 8.

Don't get me wrong, I've been on the Crystal bandwagon since Hollywood, but all I'm saying is it's not quite as over as some people may choose to believe. Either way, more great performances are still to come for sure.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Next iPhone

Gizmodo sent a few ripples through news headlines when they posted pictures and a pretty extensive review of what they claim to be the next generation of the iPhone. Apparently, the new model fell into their hands a couple weeks after it was "found lost in a bar in Redwood City." They made a video, took some pictures, and posted a detailed blog post about all the new features. If you're into the specs, you can check it out.

To me, the most interesting part of this story is how it ended up in the hands of Gizmodo. Apparently, the phone belonged to Gray Powell, a 27-year old software engineer. Powell was out at a bar, and left it on the bar when he left. Someone handed it to the guy who was sitting next to Powell. The guy waited, but Powell never came back. Eventually, the guy took the phone home with him, and in the light of the morning, discovered that it was not, in fact the iPhone model that everyone else had.

His next step was to call Apple. And here's the best part - Apple didn't believe him. Apparently, he was put on hold and transferred from person to person as no one really found his situation credible enough to take seriously.

Well eventually Gizmodo got a hold of it, and soon it was out there for the world to see. I think it's probably safe to say Apple will update their customer service protocol to handle such a situation should it happen again in the future.

Anyway, if you're interest, check out more of the story

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Face of the LHC Saboteur

A lot of people scoff at the LHC Saboteur theory. While I don't agree, I suppose I can understand their position. It could be hard to get on board with an idea like that without something tangible. If only there was...say...a picture of the time-traveler. Maybe that would help?

Well then feast your eyes on this, non believers:

This photograph, which belongs to a Canadian museum, shows a pretty typical 1940's scene. Typical...except for Mr. Sunglasses, hoodie, and hipster T-shirt. What is he doing there? And by there, I mean that TIME.

The answer is simple. My working theory, suggested to me by Noodles "Haz-Mat" Teplansky, is that this guy is, in fact, the LHC Saboteur. His presence in this photograph can be explained by any of the following:
1) He intended to go back to the 1970's and overshot, ending up in 1940.
2) This is the first of a series of subtle clues he is leaving for us so that we will believe in his existence and power.
3) Something in 1940 needed to be changed. He has a partner, and needed to create a distraction while his partner accomplished the task.
The more you think about it, the more you realize that the possibilities are endless!

No matter what the reason, I think anyone discounting time travel on principle might at least want to consider opening their eyes to the possibility. Or you could be like my sister Gen, whose response was "you're an idiot."

I feel the love.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tough Times for Ninjas

The economic recession has spread far and wide. It's tough to find work, and people are struggling to pay the bills and get by. Some professions have been hit harder than others, but there is no doubt as to the group that has suffered the most: Ninjas.

It's been a while since my first post about Ninjas - a little more than 10 months. Since then they have been, true to form, laying low. Or so it has seemed.

But it's come to my attention that due to economic hardships, the demand for traditional mercenary functions of ninjas has been low. As a result, many ninjas have had to take side jobs to put some food on the table. These side jobs are mostly jobs that must be taken care of without being noticed or drawing attention in any way. Here's what they've been up to:

1. Fire Extinguisher Inspection. Next time you see a fire extinguisher, take a look at that little paper tag on the front that notes how often it is inspected. The frequency is ridiculous! Some get checked every week. Now, try to think of the last time you saw someone performing one of those inspections. Drawing a blank? I thought so.

2. Protecting Trix. The Trix rabbit is always after some Trix, but kids try to stop him, based on the discriminatory notion "Trix are for kids." On paper, this match-up is ludicrous. A talking rabbit getting continuously outsmarted by a bunch of litte kids? There is no way. Everyone knows rabbits are sneaky, and kids think they are adorable. There must be another party at work here. Ninjas are on the side of the kids, working to make sure that the Trix are, in fact, just for kids.

3. Creating Trending Topics. If you're on Twitter, you know ridiculous hashtags show up in the Top-10 Trending Topics, usually either right above or right below "Justin Bieber." Who creates these? How do they get so popular? What is Twitter's algorithm for determining trending topics? The whole system is shrouded in secrecy. Aka it has the work of ninjas written all over it.

What's most impressive is that even with all of this extra work, ninjas have still been dominating their ongoing feud versus pirates. Recent news results for pirates feature two prominent stories. First, ten pirates attacked a German cargo ship and were arrested by the Dutch navy. Caught by the Dutch Navy? That's kind of embarrassing, pirates. Another pirate boat took on an American warship and was quickly sunk. Poor choice. Both these stories seem very out-of-place, even for pirates. I mean, they couldn't have actually thought they could take on an American warship and come out victorious, right? They must have been deceived. They got NINJAD (its like the ninja version of getting lawyered). Arrested by the Dutch? Ninjad. Even the Pittsburgh Pirates gave up 13 runs in ONE INNING last week. Sounds like a temporary loss in the rules and objective of baseball. NINJAD.

So keep at it, ninjas. Soon times will turn around and you can get back to your more traditional roles. Also, if any Twinjas (Twitter Ninjas) are reading this, I certainly would not object if #blawegsome showed up in the Top Trending Topics.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The KFC Double Down

I thought of a couple different ways to start this post. One was to list some of the historical events of April 12th, and then add today's landmark to the list. However, my research quickly revealed that April 12th was the day the Civil War begin. To say that talking about historical relations between the North and the South is a slippery slope here in Richmond these days is quite the understatement. So I decided to pass on that route and just shoot straight: KFC released the Double Down Sandwich today. Nationwide.

My love affair with the Double Down began on March 15th. I posted on the blog about the Dunkin Donuts Waffle Breakfast Sandwich. Being the scholar and the gentleman that he is, my friend Richard posted a link on my buzz to a sandwich called the "Double Down," a KFC creation that was a bacon and cheese sandwich with two boneless fried chicken fillets as "bread." It looked and sounded too good to be true. But my dreams were soon realized, when it was announced that the Double Down would be released nationwide on Monday, April 12th.

Flash forward to last week. I called several KFCs in the area asking when they opened. All responders confirmed a 10:30AM opening time. This was heartbreaking - I knew that day I had a 10:00 class, an 11:00 class, a 12:00 luncheon, and work from 1:00 til 5:00. My dreams of camping out, doorbusting, and unofficially becoming the first man in Richmond to eat a Double Down were dashed. But I picked up the pieces, and decided on a 5:30 Double Down Dinner.

I'll admit it - I had a hard time falling asleep last night. Visions of sugarplums sandwiched between fried chicken danced in my head. I eventually dozed off at around 5:15, and after a solid four hours of sleep, awakened knowing the glory was only hours away. The day dragged on. 11:00. 12:00. 1:00. 2:00. (Mad props if you get that reference). Finally, the clock hit 5:00. I packed up, got a high-five from Megan on the way out the door, headed back, hopped in the car, and off I went. I got the sandwich, and brought it back to my room.

Even after the 10-minute trip home, the sandwich was still super hot, which was awesome. Peeling back the aluminum-foil-wrap, I took my first bite. What followed was approximately 4-6 minutes of sheer bliss.

The flavor of the chicken is powerful, but in a good way. I mean, it is by far the dominant ingredient quantity wise. It would be a little strange if you couldn't taste it. The great thing about the Double Down is that you never know how much bacon and cheese you're going to get in a given bite. The taste ratio is constantly changing, but stays inside a pleasant range. If you get a lot of bacon and cheese, the flavors mix well together for a satisfying blend. And on the bites with minimal bacon and cheese, you still have delicious and tender fried chicken.

While my particular Double Down was not particularly greasy, I received a report from my friend Mr. Connell that the Double Down he purchased was rather greasy. So something to watch out for. But let's face it - its a fried chicken, bacon, and melted cheese sandwich. You shouldn't need me to tell you there's a chance of some grease. C'mon people.

About 3 bites in I grabbed a Coke, and it was a good thing I did, because this thing will put you in a FOOD COMA. The caffeine is battling my strong desire to take a nap. It seems to be working.

All in all, I really enjoyed the Double Down. This thing is a legit piece of food that should not be taken lightly - it will fill you up. And those wary of grease should tread softly. But if you've got a craving for some meat, this might just be the "sandwich" for you. I will no doubt be going back for round 2.

A couple of notes to finish up
1) There seems to be a rumor going around that the sandwich has egg on it as well. This is completely unfounded.

2) To all my readers out there with their minds in the gutter: yes, I am well aware of the several sexual references made in this post. After a while I kind of just started doing it on purpose.

3) Voges - you are officially relieved of your duty. I thank you for your dedication

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Profiles in Awesome: Noodles

Tonight I present part 3 of my 497-part series, "Profiles in Awesome." Today's story recognizes someone who perhaps is too the point that it sheds questions on her classification as a human being. I speak, of course, of Noodles.

Spend some time around TC-Dub School of Law and you will no doubt run into Noodles before long. She can be easily identified by her glorious black curls, her ridiculously thick binders littered/organized with purple sticky-notes, or by her most identifiable characteristic - her obsession with Google Reader. As a result, she is quick to find some of the funniest stories/videos the Internet has to offer. The classic Noodles "nervous-smile" comes when she is enjoying the little things in life while constantly holding down the feeling that everything is going wrong and she is doomed.

Unlike other pastas, this Noodles is sometimes highly motivated. She is driven by completing tasks on To-Do lists, and often writes down items that she has already completed, so that she can check them off immediately. Well she could write down "Be Awesome" to start every list and always have at least one down.

Basically, Noodles is one of the most awesome characters around. However, I am currently gathering evidence to support my theory that she is, in fact, a robot.

If I had to pick one person who I was most sure was NOT a robot, I would pick Noodles. This is exactly the kind of situation that a robot would make happen. Despite multiple statements that her brief was inferior, Noodles was awarded the "Best Brief" award during last Fall's Moot Court competition. Her bluebooking was superb and machine-like. When confronted with this fact, she was quick to point out that next to a mistake in her brief, an editor simply wrote the word "FAIL." Hmm...a simple command that a robot would understand...interesting.

Noodles keeps a pink sombrero in the back of her car, but never wears it. This is obviously a souvenir of a poor defenseless old woman she did in after she got the information her programmer requested. I see no other possible explanation.

It's true that Noodles exhibits many emotions normally only associated with humans. In fact, I have it on good authority that she has covered the entire range of all human emotions in no less than 17 minutes. There really is only one possible explanation - Noodles is an even more advanced model than I thought. Any robot looking to effectively blend in as a human would no doubt be able to show emotions in order to throw off suspicions.

I'm still gathering the evidence. Noodles will be quick to deny any robot identity for fear of being shot in the face with a shotgun (the appropriate treatment for any undercover robot). But be warned...things might not be as they appear.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Pro Athlete Salaries and Orlando Financial

It's no secret: I am a big fan of Head to their website and you'll see the big story of the hour, plus 10 or so headlines on the side. You can catch up on a lot of important news in not a lot of time. But scroll on down and you'll find a whole lot more. Sometimes they'll have some app or game to play. Some are enjoyable, but I really have to question the one I found this morning.

It's called "Salary Crunch." It takes a specific professional athlete and looks at his salary and statistics. It has you enter your annual salary, and then it uses the stats to compare.

Example: I selected Josh Beckett, a pitcher for the Red Sox, who signed a 4-year $68 million deal the other day. Since I actually make about negative $40,000 a year, I decided to make up a salary to enter. I plugged in $50,000. The following came up:

"Josh Beckett makes $50,000 after the following:
.09 games
.05 wins
.59 strikeouts
.62 innings pitched
You will need to work 340 years to make Josh Beckett's annual salary."

Thanks ESPN. I can't tell you how many times I wish I had this precise information. If you're ever in need of a morale boost in the morning, then bookmark this site for sure!

The salaries of professional athletes can be an interesting point of discussion. A lot of people think they are ridiculously overpaid, others think that if they have that much talent and put fans in the seats, they earn it. Personally, I don't have a problem with stars making millions. What I DO have a problem with is stars blowing millions, and then millions more that they DON'T HAVE. We've seen the headlines. Michael Vick. Mike Tyson. How these guys end up more than $25 MILLION in debt is beyond me.

A word to the wise: If you are a professional athlete, make millions of dollars, and don't want to blow it, I've got two words for you - Orlando Financial. Orlando Financial offers money management services exclusively to professional athletes who have the urge to make ridiculous purchases, supply capital for ludicrous business propositions, or really just make stupid financial decisions.

Orlando Financial customizes a personal savings plan for your individual needs, but the basic tenants of each plan are as follows:
-$300,000 will be kept in a mattress in your office at all times. Don't have a mattress in your office? Buy a mattress. Then put it in your office. Don't have an office? Buy some office space.
-40% of all signing bonuses go straight to the bank. No exceptions.
-Investments? Liquidate them. We don't mess with the stock market. "But doesn't that mean I won't make millions more?" Yes, that is true. But you won't lose millions, and you already have millions. Stop complaining.

If you don't want to end up filing for Bankruptcy, call Orlando Financial at 1-800-WHERE-IS-ORLANDO for a free consultation today. 25 minutes could keep you from $25 million of debt.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Man Claiming To Be the LHC Saboteur Arrested

It's April Fool's Day, and I'll admit it - I had no idea what to expect when I rolled out of bed this morning. But I never expected a gem like this to fall into my lap.,39029552,49305387,00.htm

A man named Eloi Cole was arrested at the Large Hadron Collider. Mr. Cole was claiming to be the LHC Saboteur, a man from the future and traveling back in time to keep the LHC from succeeding in finding the Higgs Boson particle.

The details of this article are hysterical. Some highlights:
"Cole was attempting to disrupt [the Collider] by stopping supplies of Mountain Dew to the experiment's vending machines."
"He explained that he was looking for fuel for his 'time machine power unit', a device that resembled a kitchen blender."
"Police said Mr Cole, who was wearing a bow tie and rather too much tweed for his age, would not reveal his country of origin. 'Countries do not exist where I am from. The discovery of the Higgs boson led to limitless power, the elimination of poverty and Kit-Kats for everyone. It is a communist chocolate hellhole and I'm here to stop it ever happening.'"
"Mr Cole was taken to a secure mental health facility in Geneva but later disappeared from his cell. Police are baffled, but not that bothered."

Ok, so the question of the day IS: what do we make of this guy? Let's analyze.

Option #1: Mr. Cole planned an April Fool's Prank aimed at raising awareness for the LHC Saboteur Theory.
Basically, the idea here is that Cole knew exactly what he was doing. He planned on getting caught while looking ridiculous and making ridiculous statements so that he would get in the news. April Fool's Day just adds more reason to do it.

Option #2: Mr. Cole is actually insane.
If the details of the article are accurate, this may be a fairly likely option. But if so, is anyone else disturbed by the facts that 1) he disappeared from his holding sell at the mental health facility, and 2) NO ONE SEEMS TO CARE? Is this how the Swiss treat all of their mental health patients?

Option #3: Mr. Cole IS the time-traveling LHC Saboteur.
This may seem ridiculous at first, but allow me to explain.

When I first saw the news, I discounted this option immediately on principle. No one with time traveling abilities should ever be caught in the past. Ever. Especially not someone who holds the fate of mankind in the palm of their hands.

However, if Back to the Future has taught us anything, it's that 1) time machines from the future run on garbage, 2) you do need to stop and refill, sometimes in the past, and 3) where we're going we don't need roads. Number 3 isn't really relevant, I just wanted to throw it in there. But Cole was found "rooting around in bins," and claimed he was searching for fuel for his time machine power source. What's kept in bins? Garbage.

We turn next to Cole's statement about the future, specifically that there are KitKats for everyone and it is a communist chocolate hellhole.

If there is one chocolate bar I would expect to thrive over a long period of time, it's KitKat. As the late great Mitch Hedberg pointed out, they imprint "KitKat" on the bar. This robs the customer of chocolate, and cuts cost for the producer, enabling long-term profits. Additionally, in a communist system, having a chocolate bar that is easily broken and shared among the community would be crucial. I'll refrain from making any political statements. All I'm saying is that if the future world is as Cole describes, I would not be shocked at all to see KitKat as the dominant chocolate bar.

Finally, if Cole was in fact the LHC Saboteur, wouldn't this be real trouble now that he was caught? It would have been...if the authorities had been able to hold on to him. But Cole escaped from his cell, and possibly from 2010. Suppose this was all an act. Something to cause a lot of jokes and mockery to be associated with the LHC Saboteur theory. People would not be as concerned about the possibility of a saboteur, and he could go about his business with less fear of preventative measures being taken. Perhaps this was Cole's plan all along...

Is it probable? Not really. Is it a possibility? I'm goin with yes.