a realistic dose of cynicism

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who wants to go to Schrute Farms?

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“I always imagined less manure. I mean, some manure. Just… less.”

“What century is this?!”

Seriously. This place exists. It’s got a 4/5 rating for rooms, service, value, and cleanliness! Recommended for:

  • An amazing honeymoon
  • Older travelers
  • …and young singles
  • …and families with teenagers.

This place is win-win-win. You can’t get much better than that. Quoth:

Schrute Farms is the number one beet-related agrotourism destination in Northeastern Pennsylvania. We offer the finest accommodations for the casual traveler and/or beet enthusiast. Come join us and experience majestic Schrute Farms.

Agrotourism is a lot more than a bed and breakfast. It consists of tourists, coming to a farm. Showing them around. Giving them a bed. Giving them breakfast. (at least it’s not trying to hide its roots (ha! get it?) by calling itself Embassy Beets. Or the Radishinn.)

You get to pick from three different rooms! America, Irrigation, and Nighttime. (Irrigation all the way, dude.)

The natural aroma of the beets drifts into the bedroom and makes you dream of simpler times. The dawn goosewalk will tug at your heartstrings. Table-making never seemed so possible.You will never want to leave your room.

Seriously, let’s go.

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Filed under: uncategorized,

Prospekt’s March.

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Coldplay has a (relatively) new EP out, entitled Prospekt’s March, released 11/21/08. I finally got a chance to give it a whirl.

You remember the first song on Viva La Vida? Life in Technicolor was an excellent instrumental opener for the album. It had a strangely catchy melody. Somewhat haunting, but also uplifting. I always wondered why they chose to strip out the lyrics for Viva La Vida‘s release.

Imagine my pleasant surprise and subsequent eargasm when I pop in Prospekt’s March… the first track: Life in Technicolor ii.

Now I’m completely baffled as to why the lyrics were ever removed in the first place.

This song is better than all of Viva la Vida put together.

Filed under: uncategorized,

why the ShamWOW is… well, a sham.

It’s like a shammy, it’s like a towel, it’s like a sponge. You’ll be saying “WOW” every time!

On paper (like paper towels! get it?!), the ShamWOW looks like an amazing product. 8 of them for $19.95 + $8 S/H, so $28. Let’s see what it has to offer:

  • works wet or dry.
  • holds 20 times its weight in liquid.
  • machine washable.
  • Made in Germany. And you know the Germans always make good stuff. (Except for that time… in the late 1930s… with the persecution of all those Jews… oh wait, nevermind.)
  • Olympic divers use it as a towel!
  • Dries your sweaters.
  • Gets out wine, coffee, cola from carpet!
  • You’ll spend $20 on paper towels a month anyway, so why not.
  • ShamWOW lasts 10 years. Sponges last a week.

At first glance, it looks like I’ll never need another kitchen towel again, if I just get 8 ShamWOWs. That’s a lot of absorbency; suck, if you will. That’s like, enough suck to compete with the Slap Chop. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s really see if the ShamWOW is worth your time, money, and staring at this Yankee’s face for a few more minutes. (His name is Vince Offer. Offer!! Get it?! He’s a salesman… okay. I’ll stop.)

1. The first thing that entices me is the absorbent quality of the ShamWOW. “Holds 20 times its weight in liquid. Works wet or dry. Even gets out wine, coffee, cola stains from carpet.” Know what else holds 20 times its weight in liquid? That’s right. Nanotubes. But even if you don’t have those handy, that demonstration of removing cola from the carpet? A sham.

When you see Vince pour the cola onto the square of carpet, some of the cola seeps over the edge:

puddle

Later, when he goes to clean it up with the ShamWOW, the edge-seeping cola is mysteriously absent:

nopuddle

Don’t fall for the quick editing and smooth talking of this guy. Vince, I’m onto you.

2. “I spend $20 on paper towels a month anyway. Compared to getting yourself an order of ShamWOWs, that’s like cash in the trash. Money in the… bunny. Green in the… wastebasket. You know what I mean.

Let’s see. Paper towels are… what, $10 for 24 rolls? At least that’s how much I got them for at Price Chopper (generic). $20 in paper towels a month would be 48 rolls of paper towels. Per month. You’d have to use a roll and a half each day of the month. I don’t even think that’s remotely possible. And even if you had the soul-crushing conviction that you needed to use up a whole roll of paper towels a day, it still wouldn’t be possible. There aren’t enough hours in the day.

I’d use… maybe 3 rolls of paper towels in a month. So $10 in paper towels would last me 2/3rds of a YEAR. Sorry ShamWOW. Not only does it appear that you need to use deceptive marketing to pitch your product (that might not actually work!), you’re not cost-effective.

3. “You won’t need paper towels after the ShamWOW.” Because of course, the infinitely reusable ShamWOW automatically precludes all conceivable uses of paper towels. Ever.

Let’s say you used a ShamWOW to wash and wax your car. I’d imagine, for your family’s sake, that you wouldn’t want to use that very same ShamWOW to say, clean up messes in the kitchen. After all, wax isn’t that tasty. Same goes for oil changes, too. Except if you’re a robot. Then by all means, go ahead.

You also wouldn’t want to mix a shower mat or any bathroom-use ShamWOW with the kitchen. Sure you can throw them into the washing machine… but would you really go to all the effort to distinguish between a bathroom ShamWOW with a kitchen ShamWOW?! And besides, they’re rubbing around each other in there to begin with.

Narsty. Paper towels still have their uses.

I have a feeling the ShamWOW wouldn’t be very good at picking up… spilled flour, grape jelly, molasses, vegetable oil, etc. It just doesn’t seem to be the end-all solution.

What if you spilled something in the kitchen, let’s say, some olive oil. Let’s use the ShamWOW to clean it up. Wow, look at it go… okay, now that it’s all clean, I have an olive-oil soaked ShamWOW. It’d be awful convenient if I could use it for other messes too, but I wouldn’t want to spread the oil everywhere. Well, I could just throw it in the washing machine… hey, this isn’t very convenient at all.

4. “You’ll be saving money with the ShamWOW!” I have bad news for you, Vince. There are these things lying around my kitchen that do the exact same thing as the ShamWOW. They don’t have the nice machined edges that the ShamWOW does, but they clean up messes, absorb liquids, and I wouldn’t lose any sleep over defenestrating any of them. (The ShamWOW would give me nightmares if I threw it out my 2nd story window.)

Yes. The infamous ordinary kitchen rag! And I get them for free. Take that.

That being said, Vince is kinda awesome, in an annoying, condescending, flippant kind of way. I’ll take two.

Filed under: debunking infomythcials, , ,

And now, for something really special.

I’ve been inspired. Lisa and fellow bloggers (namely, Jess) have piqued my interest to debunking products pitched in infomercials. That’s right. I’m going to tell you why they don’t work, why they’re a waste of your hard-earned (except if you’re unemployed. In which case, my condolences.) money, and what makes them so intriguing and catchy.

Speaking of intriguing and catchy

I’ll start off with:

I’ll take requests in the comments.

next stop, why the ShamWOW suffers from an unfortunate (but aptly so) first syllable.

Filed under: debunking infomythcials,

I had a dream.

I had a dream that one day I’d own one of Scarlett Johanssen’s used tissues containing cold germs she caught from Samuel L. Jackson. Today, that dream has been shattered.

On the bright side, at least there’s free shipping. Order now for Christmas delivery!

Filed under: uncategorized,

God is indescribably, incomparably good.

Yesterday, I was talking to a friend I haven’t spoken to in over 15 months. Naturally, we did the normal catch-up thing, how’s school/work, etc. I tell her that Sun’s having layoffs in a month, and I might get the boot.

We got to talking about our relationships with others… and to be perfectly honest, mine aren’t so great. There are relationships I’ve brought to the point of ruin (for very bad reasons), others on hold (for very good reasons), and others that I’ve just flat-out neglected.

Lots of things have gone horribly, horribly wrong this week.

And then it hit me: why am I not (visibly) upset? How am I retaining my sanity? It feels like everything you know and love in the world is being sucked into oblivion, and you’re standing there paralyzed, unable to say or do anything about it. I compare it to a surgery where anaesthesia goes wrong, where the patient feels each and every cut of the scalpel, but is powerless to interfere. How am I not writhing in pain?

And then it hit me (again): God is indescribably, uncontainably, incomparably good.

He gives me peace where there is only chaos.

He gives me hope where there is only despair.

He gives me strength when I am weak.

In times like these, I’m glad I have these three puppies:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29:11, NIV

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28, ESV

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. – Proverbs 3:5-6, ESV

In times like these… it’s hard to see God at the end of the tunnel orchestrating every last detail for good. It’s especially hard when you feel surrounded by despair and hopelessness.

In times like these, it’s not only especially hard, it’s even more exceptionally amazing when God pulls you through it. It’s when the situation seems worst that God gets the most glory.

Filed under: thoughts on christianity,

Nth wheeling.

tricycle_2

A disclaimer: this isn’t about the third wheel in the tricycle above. While you may realize that the third wheel of a tricycle is required to maintain balance for toddler operation, it’s also to provide sufficient traction in rain/icy weather, as it’s equipped with electronic stability control (ESC), anti-lock brakes, and tire chains on select models. (Seriously, who puts tire chains on a trike? As opposed to a bike.)

I’m sure many of you, although you may pretend to be “cool” and “hip” and “myspace”, have once been or still are socially uncomfortable to a certain extent. I’m referring to the ostracism and alienation you may experience with a group of your peers who deem themselves “cooler” or “hipper” or “myspacier” than you. You may query, how does this relate to the number of wheels on a figuratively-moving wheeled vehicular transport of coolness?

I’m glad you asked. In a given dynamic social group (or transport), each person represents a single wheel. Like in an actual vehicle, the number of wheels on this coolness transport directly translates into a factor of mobility. After all, you’d want your coolness to be cruisin’ along downtown with a 12-foot tall spoiler and 22-inch spinnas, am I right?

Ah, let’s start with the good-olde third wheel, usually a third person (usually a socially uncomfortable teenager or a WoW-addicted college student) invited to join a biffle (BFFL!11oneone) outing or *shudder* a couple going on a date, usually stemming from pity. And above all, I’ve noticed that there’s a certain stigma surrounding the third wheel: “don’t be the third wheel.”

Well, friends, I’m here to tell you: third wheeling isn’t all that it’s chalked up to be. I believe it should even be celebrated.

Let’s say that you’re invited to a day-outing by a pair of biffles. Using the vehicular transport of coolness analogy, what we have here is a two-wheeled bicycle. Let’s say that they’re both ladies, and are both relatively fashion-attuned. Here’s what that looks like:

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Pretty cool, right?

Now let’s say the two biffles invite their mutual roommate, an artsy goth that stays in her room all day and surfs deviantART and takes black-and-white photos with her DSLR that costs twice as much as my laptop. What does the vehicle look like now? You may think that it’s just the same argyle bike pictured above, but with a bulky additional wheel added to the rear axle, reducing handling, acceleration, but most of all, reducing coolness.

I’m here to inform you that you’re wrong. Here’s what it looks like:

magic_trike_main

Cool, right? You know I’m right. That artsy goth has imparted her own personal style to the vehicle transport of coolness. While the two biffles may be shocked at the initial transformation, they soon come to realize that the addition of their roommate has elevated their coolness to a whole new level.

Now let’s talk about adding a whole new dimension. I proudly announce, the fourth wheel. Let’s say the two biffles and the artsy goth decide to give their mutual friend a ring. Who is he, you may ask? And what style and coolness will he contribute to the already-awesome transport?

He’s a wealthy industrialist, playboy, and philanthropist. Witnessing the murder of his parents as a child, he trains himself both physically and intellectually and dons a bat-themed costume in order to fight crime. He makes use of intellect, detective skills, science and technology, wealth, physical prowess, and intimidation in his war on crime (1).

That’s right. He is none other than Batman. And what will his influence on the vehicle of coolness be? You may already have beaten me to the punch. But in case you didn’t, I hope this looks familiar:

batmobile_tumbler

Yup. The Batmobile. You really can’t beat that. Look what a third (and now a fourth!) wheel added to the coolness of the two biffles. I’m sure they’re not regretting their decision to invite those two extra wheels to join them at all.

And before you ask, yes. There is a limit to the number of people you can invite as additional wheels. Remember this?

On a completely unrelated note, has anyone clipped their fingernails only to realize an hour later that one or two of your long, unsightly cuticles are still staring you in the face? That just happened to me. Weird.

(1): from Wikipedia

Filed under: uncategorized

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