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Friday, February 13, 2009
by Blob

Either you've been living under a rock for the last few weeks or you're familiar with the "25 Things" meme. I refuse to use Facebook and I'm aware of it. Well apparently, Rachel, of Glimmerville fame, came up with the brilliant idea of inventing 25 "facts" about yourself. My friend Kris ran with it and came up with this post. I thought this was a brilliant idea, and I commented (before I learned that Rachel was involved) that I was tempted to copyemulate1 him, but that I would refrain from doing so for a change.

However, the two protagonists both encouraged me to do so, so here they are, twenty-five spectacularly untrue facts about Blob, the Cynical Optimist-in-Chief.

  1. I spent three years in a Tibetan monastery meditating and doing little else. It was during this time that I learned how to harness and manipulate the power of beans. Sadly, my return to the western world with its pressures and its deadlines has left me with little time for meditation and led to the loss of most of my powers. Not all, however, as my wife will attest in displeasure after a trip to Chipotle.
  2. Like most kids, I played doctor with childhood female acquaintances. Unfortunately my specialty, psychiatry, was not particularly conducive to me getting to see their naughty bits. On the other hand, I was able to buy my first Jaguar before graduating high school.
  3. I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Applied Waste Management. Fortunately, my career went in a different direction.
  4. On my first attempt at passing my driver's exam, I set a testing center record by running over seven different traffic cones during the maneuverability test. Two of them were intended for another kid's test.
  5. I have never been on an aircraft that did not experience engine failure on a later flight. To the best of my knowledge, no one has perished in any of these incidents, nor is there any correlation between my presence and the various engine problems. Still, it's a weird fucking coincidence, and I'm on the no-fly list.
  6. My Confirmation name is Isidore, for St. Isidore of Seville, the patron saint of computer programmers.2
  7. A friend and I worked out a new graphical display system over dinner one evening which would have scaled to any desired resolution and would have been more efficient than CRTs, LCDs, DLPs, and plasma. We made copious notes on the back of a napkin. Contrary to what TV and the movies would have you believe, this is no way to record important discoveries. While we weren't looking, a waitress cleaned up the table. We've been unable to duplicate the brainstorm.
  8. For a time, I was convinced that I was adopted, the child of a visitor from an alien race and a girl from Albuquerque. This is because my parents told me that was the case. Years of therapy have helped me become the productive member of society you know now.
  9. I'm told that my first word was "interstitial".
  10. I did a brief stint as a car salesman.3 I once made a really, absurdly great deal, taking in a trade and cash for a new Mercury Grand Marquis well above MSRP. The sales manager revoked my commission after discovering a body in the trunk of the traded-in car.
  11. I believe the staple to be the most honorable of office supplies.
  12. For the first twenty years of my life, I twirled my spaghetti noodles clockwise on the fork; for the second twenty, counterclockwise. One of the few things I'm looking forward to on my rapidly approaching 40th birthday is switching back.
  13. At least once a month I get confused for Chris Elliott. By his aunt Harriet.
  14. I was a foreign exchange student in Germany for my junior year of high school. My host family's custom was to be nude indoors at pretty much all times. Unfortunately, I was an adolescent boy and they had a hot German daughter. I thought for a while that puberty meant "permanent erection". They politely never mentioned it, however. Even when I inadvertently poked Frau Gerber in the butt while passing her in the kitchen. With my penis. Which was erect.
  15. I served two tours in Iraq during the first Gulf War. Thankfully, my unit never saw any action. My Army nickname was "Fodder" due to my consistently poor marksmanship scores.
  16. My brother and I ran with the bulls in Pamploma in 1997.
  17. I was the first person to suggest using platinum as a catalyst for converting internal combustion engine exhaust into slightly less nasty stuff. This provided a market for the previously worthless metal. It really was just a coincidence that my grandfather owned an old platinum mine.
  18. I DVR Oprah. Even the reruns.
  19. When frightened, like most people, I want to go to my happy place. Unfortunately, the restraining order that bitch took out makes that impossible. I don't understand the problem; she doesn't even use her hamper most of the time.
  20. I can't cry. Doctors have told me there's some rare deformation of my tear ducts. I keep several bottles of Visine on my person at all times. I'm almost glad I can't fly any more, with just three ounces and the dry, rarefied air, I'd almost certainly have serious eye problems on a flight of any length.
  21. I spent seven years in a federal prison for wire fraud in connection with an unfortunate incident involving my Commodore 64 and a 1200 baud modem. I'm not permitted to discuss the specifics, but I can tell you that the "official" Enron story is not true.
  22. I did a brief stint performing in adult films. Embarrassingly brief, if you take my meaning.
  23. My best childhood friend was tragically killed in a freak food processor accident. I graduated culinary school without ever having chopped a vegetable thanks to a note from my therapist, help from my fellow students, and some very understanding instructors. Turns out, restaurateurs don't really have much patience for my problem and I was forced to seek other employment options.
  24. I have six toes on my left foot. I had my right small toe removed so that I could still be strange, but have ten toes.
  25. While in prison, I did a correspondence course in Psychiatry. Turns out, I had it seriously wrong when I was playing with the neighbor girls. If I'd done Psychiatry correctly, I'd have been swimming in naughty bits.

1 Yeah, I do this a lot.
2 Part of this is true; St. Isidore really is the patron saint of Programmers. He lived in the seventh century. Which was even before the time of Charles Babbage.
3 I'm not proud of it, but this part is actually true. We all do foolish things in our youth, mine was just particularly foolish.
Friday, January 16, 2009
by Blob

I was challenged by Kris Johnson to provide you with sixteen random tidbits about myself. I had to do it quickly in the short span of time permitted by my schedule, so this is what you get:

  1. When I went off to university, I was convinced that I didn't want to study for a career in computers, because I didn't want to ruin my hobby.
  2. I dropped out after a year, having run out of funding. I thought it was unwise to bury myself in debt without any real conviction about what I should attempt to learn. The irony is that I've paid enough in credit card interest during my adult life to have paid off student loans.
  3. In 1995, I was involved in two automobile accidents and received one absurd traffic citation in the span of four months. The resulting insurance premiums (for three years) were higher than either of my car payments at the time.
  4. I never fought back, having been teased and bullied as a child. I had foolishly bought into the "turn the other cheek" nonsense I'd learned. Instead, I punched a massive partition dividing our junior high school gym during class one day rather than the child who was teasing me, knocking it off its track. That event seems to have been a turning point; after that I was mostly left alone.
  5. I have never so much as tried a cigarette, but I will have a very occasional cigar.
  6. I get absolutely freaked the hell out when I encounter a person taller than myself. At six-foot-five, it's a rare occurrence, though.
  7. Despite my knowledge of the odds and any jokes about it being a tax on people who are bad at math, I play the big jackpot lottery a few times a month. I'm acutely aware that the odds of winning are vanishingly small, but they're the best chance I've got at doing many of the things I want to do in this life. I refuse to be enough of a dick to get rich the old-fashioned way.
  8. I have made great strides, but I still conduct myself as a very poor loser in tests of skill. I do not mean to do so; I'm genuinely pleased for the player or team who beat me. It's never the losing that bothers me, it's the performing below my personal standards that does. I seem to be unusually inconsistent at most things.
  9. I do not make New Year's resolutions, but I am trying to tackle my weight again in 2009. I lost 55 pounds in 2005, but gained it all back in 2007 having reverted to old, bad habits during my convalescence from rupturing my achilles tendon.
  10. I am a Formula One racing fan. I consider myself primarily a Ferrari fan because Enzo used to sell road cars in order to finance his racing team, rather than racing to sell cars like most of his competitors. This is, sadly, not still true, but you've gotta respect the tradition. They do make it hard to support them, though, sometimes conducting themselves in an unsportsmanlike manner.
  11. Despite my size, I prefer small cars. I don't need a machine to do big and strong. I need one to do quick and nimble.
  12. I really need to learn to say, "No," more often.
  13. I am making myself late working on this. This will not ensure domestic tranquility.
  14. I'm thirty-seven years old and I still essentially live paycheck-to-paycheck. It's astonishing how well my expenses have always managed to grow to fit my salary.
  15. I have a phobia of scorpions. I assume this is due to Clash of the Titans, since I've never encountered one in the wild.
  16. I don't seem to have "favorite" things any more. I can no longer point to a favorite band, song, color, or food. I don't know if this makes me strange, noncommittal, or if it's just part of getting older.

Whew, it's done.

I'm going to leave off the tagging portion. It may be bad form, but I literally don't know anyone well enough that KJ hasn't already tagged.

Sunday, November 2, 2008
by Blob
Can I hope to win,
When a Haiku takes an hour,
At NaNoWriMo?
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
by Blob

Dear reader, I pose this question for you:

Should I hold myself to a different standard than I hold other purveyors of fiction?

When I read fiction that touches on science or technology1, and said science is wrong2, it bothers me3. However, if the rest of the tale is exciting, intriguing, or otherwise entertaining, I am all too happy to let it slide.

The idea I've started entertaining for this year's NaNo novel is based on some pretty lousy science. I don't want to get into the details just yet, but suffice it to say that it would bug me if I were just the reader.

My problem is twofold. First, it's NaNo; to reach the goal, I just need to crank out 50,000 words, regardless of how useless they are. And second, it troubles me that I can't think of a more elegant way to cause the scenario which is the basis for the story, and I'd really hate for my first success4 at NaNo to be based on something that would bug me as a reader.

As I said, though, if it were another author's book, I'd let it go and enjoy the rest of the tale.

So what do you think? Should I write the story, warts and all, or should I spend the next three days cramming for a better idea? Your comments would be welcome.

1 Would it kill Hollywood to hire a nerd or two to vet the so-called hacking that goes on in TV and movies?

2 And, sadly, it almost always is.

3 Bad science in non-fiction, like our news and politics, makes me even crazier, but that's a whole 'nother post.

4 This is rather unlikely, given my track record