Friday, March 30, 2007

Splitting Hairs

In my hometown, you can get a haircut for $8. Well, I can get a haircut free from my mother, but for everyone else, $8 is the best deal you can get for having your hair shaved, trimmed, and generally lopped off. Hell, $8 is the normal price for a simple snip-and-go operation in any town. Not so in Berkeley. I've probably searched within a 2-mile radius of this place, and every haircut - every haircut, costs $15. With a price tag almost double what one's used to, what's a poor college boy to do?

Well, I've noticed there are two main haircut strategies that males in college tend to follow in order to keep their yearly costs as low as possible. These strategies, I'd say, cover about 9 out of 10 college males.

The first strategy is to get a army-style short-cut. The thinking here is that you may look like an ROTC cadet now, but you can go the longest possible time before another cut, saving you the cost of superfluous cuts.

The second is just the opposite of the army-style: the hippie-style. Basically, you don't get haircuts, and instead let you hair grow...and grow...and grow.

Each strategy has it's own advantages and disadvantages. The hippie-style is cheaper (instead of paying infrequently, you never pay), but it takes more management and has hidden costs (shampoo costs money, too!).

I've always been a follower of the army strategy for the following reasons:
1) I don't want to be associated with hippies.
2) My hair is too curly and puffy to look good long.
3) Too. Much. Hassle.

I'll touch briefly on the third point. I hate messing with my hair. I like to wake up and say, "Hey, my hair is already done. Awesome!" I like to be able to run my hand through my hair without fear of needing to comb it again. Last semester, in order to save costs, I got a haircut the day before I came back up to Cal. I also bought a bottle of gel. "As long as this gel doesn't run out, I'm not cutting my hair." And I stayed true to that. But as time went on, it became more and more of a chore. And the days I didn't take the time to fix my hair? Let's just say I could give Medusa a run for her money.

So then we come to this semester. I decided about two weeks ago that it was time to cut my hair. Now, I waited until after my grandmother's birthday party, because short hair makes me look a bit thuggish, while gelled long hair makes me look distinguished. But after that was over, it was time to put my curly locks on the chopping block.

I was on campus yesterday to turn in some forms, so I decide to stop at one of the many $15 parlors around Bancroft. I tell the guy to cut it really short on the sides, but leave enough on the top to keep it distinguished. So he does, I like how it looks, and I leave.

Today, though, I woke up and looked in the mirror and saw that I had a huge cowlick, or whatever you call it. It looked like a meteor had crashed into my hair.

"Damn, he didn't cut nearly enough. Now I actually have to work with it. What a gyp." So I worked with it, and noticed that it wasn't a cowlick at all. There was a hole in my hair. It was a totally lopsided haircut! "Damn you, hair parlor! You robbed me! You rooooobbbed me!!!"

It was at that point that I noticed the cord sticking out of the drawer. I then remembered that one of my suitemates had his own haircutting kit. I had no idea how to work with it, but I decided to try. Heck, even if I messed up, all I would have to do is shave myself bald and risk being called a skinhead for a couple weeks.

As it turned out, cutting my own hair felt very...liberating. I'm not sure why, but I can see why Britney Spears would want to do it. As I saw the clumps fall into the grocery bag I had set up, I felt pretty good. And seeing how it turned out makes me wonder why I would ever pay $15 at all. Maybe I should just get my own haircutting equipment. It's the best of both worlds. It provides cheap and manageable hair. What a scoop!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Now for something a little Risqué...

As I stated in my previous post, I had a couple of friends stay over at my place for a couple days. I was expected to do some basic things with them: go out to lunch, show them around campus, watch a movie or two, etc.

So imagine my surprise when they ask me if I have a copy of Risk with me.

As it turns out, I did. I only keep one board game in my current room at all times, and that game is Risk. It is, without doubt, my favorite board game of all time. And so when someone comes over to my home and asks me to play...well, my eyes light up a little bit, I can tell you that.

And now, a few tidbits on Risk.


They say that a favorite board game can say a lot about a person....Actually, no one has ever said that (at least, not as far as Google can tell me), but I certainly believe it to be true, at least to an extent. Now, keep in mind that I don't feel that someone who loves Sorry is inherently apologetic. But, considering that Risk is my favorite board game with Monopoly coming in second, I can spot a few common themes:
-Long, drawn-out games.
-Ruling over others (financially or territorially).

It's the second one that I feel is key. You see, when since I was young, I have had megalomaniacal tendencies. Remember how I mentioned that I am a monarchist? Well, in the perfect monarchy, I am king. Perhaps being hooked on Pinky & the Brain didn't help. Neither did the "Hail Andrew!" salute instated in middle school by my peers. And, yeah, being called "God" in high school just exacerbated the situation. The point is, I want to rule over you. Risk provides me with the euphoria of conquest without the blood-stained clothing and war-crimes.


When I play Risk, I play Risk. I like to say that I am one of the best Risk players I know. People often comment on how I will stare at a board for minutes at a time, contemplating whether or not I should weaken my defenses in Ukraine so that I can overtake Ural.

However, my strategy is different than most players. You see, most players play to win. I, on the other hand, play to ensure that another player loses. At the beginning of a game, I will usually pick a player at random (though I do have favored targets) and then make it my mission to clear the map of all their troops. At that point, a new player will be chosen at random, and the process continued.

And yet, for some reason, I often (not always, but often) end up winning anyway. It may be luck, but I like to think that it has to do with my focused game play, intelligent attacks, knowing when not to attack, and knowing how not to be attacked. Put together, these allow me to not only accomplish my initial goal, but to accomplish my secondary, tertiary, and (ultimately) final goals leading to victory.


There are a few basic play styles and strategies in Risk:
1. The Blitzkrieg General: Try to expand and attack as quickly as possible along a single path, usually leaving your backside vulnerable, but giving you a large boost in reinforcements while depriving others of the same.
2. The Brooder: Do not attack for the first couple turns, favoring instead to build up armies in one or a few contiguous territories.
3. The Leonidas (Formerly called the "Whim-and-a-Prayer Player"): Attacking with everything, all the time. Even in the face of overwhelming odds, they will attack, hoping that the dice rolls are in their favor.
4. The Diplomat: The category I fall into. As the name implies, this relies heavily on diplomacy and keeping in close communications with your enemies companions. There are a few subcategories of this:
a) The Bargainer: "All I want is Siam. Give me Siam, and I'll let you have all of South America."
b) The Threatener: "You will stay away from my territories, or I will personally end your reign in Asia."
c) The Peacenik: "If you don't attack me for the next three turns, I won't attack you either."
d) The Deceiver: "Don't worry, if you move you troops away from Alaska, I promise I won't attack (heeheehee)."
e) The Ally: "We can help each other, you and I. Working together, we can destroy our friend over there.

I have elements of all of these subcategories except for The Deceiver. I am quite sure that in all the years I've played, I have never put-and-out stabbed anyone in the back. It's just bad policy that may work once, but as George W. Bush says, "Fool me once, shame on—shame on you. Fool me—you can't get fooled again."


I have a primary Risk group that I like to play with during vacations in Southern California; myself and three others. I personally four is the minimum number of players in order to enjoy a game to its fullest. We are all Diplomats, and it shows. At least three times on any one turn, one of us will point to another. They will then bring that player to another room to discuss the game and strategies and politics, as will the two remaining at the board. We tend to speak in very hushed voices, giving it a real feel of a cloak-and-dagger political movie.

When I talk to the others in these correspondences, I tend to speak in absolutes. "I can tell you now, attack him in the Western United States this turn. If you don't, he will come back and destroy you in all of your Canadian territories and weaken your position overall." I probably wouldn't speak with such authority if I didn't turn out to be right about 95% of the time. However, people are always distrustful, and so they won't always take my advice. I can't help but feel vindicated when my soothsaying proves correct.

Often, though, the games in this group end up in little teams forming. Such is the case when two of the players happen to be dating. This gives their bargaining process a little something extra. After all, they can offer each other things I can't - and won't - attempt.


I even have created a principle based on Risk. It's been dubbed "The Madagascar Syndrome." The basis behind this has come from the many games I've played with my normal group. In it, we noticed something very peculiar. When there were multiple troops on the African island of Madagascar, they would all fall, with relatively little difficulty. However, if there was but a single troop on Madagascar, that troop would win an abnormally high number of battles. What's so special about Madagascar? Who knows, but it must be a nice place, for that troop to fight so hard for it. Hence, when any one troop on a territory wins more battles than the odds would predict, it is a case of the Madagascar Syndrome.

Now, I use the term "Madagascar Syndrome" in common usage. It's actually a very relevant term in gaming. I've noticed time and time again in Wii Boxing that I can beat down an opponent to their final health bar with relative ease, but goddammit, I can't finish them off before the bell rings. Have you ever played a fighting game in which you've beaten an opponent down to a tiny fraction of their life with little to no problem, but they come back and kill you before losing any more of that fraction? Congratulations, you're a victim of the Madagascar Syndrome.

Personally, one of the reasons I enjoy the concept of the Madagascar Syndrome (other than the fact that I created it) is that it just sounds good. "Madagascar Syndrome"...ahhh. I've made a promise to myself that I will write a book using it as the title. Here's a mock-up cover, even:

Keep in mind, I have no idea what the story would be, or how it would relate to the Madagascar Syndrome, but it will be good.


In closing, Risk is cool!

Awkward Moments Ahoy!

Hey hey, out there on the Intertubes!

I apologize once again for my truancy these past several days. As I said earlier, I had a 90th birthday party to attend, and from Monday to today, I was entertaining a few guests from Southern California (well, hopefully I was entertaining). As such, I couldn't update my blog. It's alright, though; one of my guests was, in fact, my most frequent commenter, so he didn't miss much in his absence from his computer.

To get things started again on familiar ground, I'd like to share a little conversation I had with a parent of a CKC resident. The father has been over for the past couple days, as his daughter has just had surgery, and he wanted to take care of her. Now, I've been on RA duty for the past couple days (that's why I'm still in Berkeley, after all), and so he's seen me each night when I go on my rounds. I had a couple small conversations with him, but nothing too fancy. He asked me where he could get a vacuum cleaner; I told him to ask for one at the front desk, etc.

So today, not but a few minutes after my friends leave for the 5 Freeway, I see him holding a vacuum. He sees me, and this is the conversation to the best of my memory (note: he had a thick New York accent...which I can't stand):
Father: "Hey! How's it going?"
Me: "Not bad. You got a vacuum, I see."
Father: "Yeah, from that Building 1, like you said. Man, I owe you an apology."
Me: "Why for?"
Father: "I didn't actually think I'd get one. I thought you were just jerking me off, but here I have one."
Me: "Yes,'s usually in an RA's best interest to tell the truth. How's your daughter feeling?"
Father: "She's better every day."
Me: "Well, that's good to hear. Have a nice day."
Father: "Wait, hold on there. I need to ask you something."
Me: "Yes?"
Father: "Well, you walk around the buildings every day and knock on the doors, right?"
Me: "Well, not every day, but a couple times a week, yes."
Father: "Whatever. And you're a guy, so I gotta ask: do you wanna have sex with my daughter?"

I'm going to make a break in the conversation just to show how much this took me off guard. Seriously. It came completely out of nowhere.


Okay, here we go again.

Me: "I'm...I'm sorry?"
Father: "It ain't an offer, buddy. I just wanna know. I know how you college boys get; I was one myself. So tell me, have you ever thought about having sex with my daughter?"

So here I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. I have no idea what this guy's intentions are. I figure that if I flat-out say "No," he'll think that I'm looking down upon his daughter, saying she's not attractive or whatnot. Then again, answering "Yes" didn't seem like a very good choice either. Compound this with the fact that four girls live in the particular suite I saw him in; I had no idea which one was his...but I wasn't about to tell him that, especially after asking what her condition was.

However, all was not lost. God definitely works in mysterious ways, because I had (relatively) recently thought of a line for a TV show (in my head) that would fit the situation perfectly. In reality, I fumbled around a bit with the wording, but this is what I said (and note: when applied to me, the line is a lie balder than Sinead O'Conner):

Me: "To be honest, no. I've been in a happy and monogamous relationship for the past six years, and I would never wish to ruin in with wayward thoughts of lust."


Father: "Huh. You know, you ain't so bad for a college boy."
Me: "Oh, there's a wide variety of college boys around here. Have a good day, sir."
Father: "Take it easy."

And I quickly walked out of that one. I really don't know where I would have been without having that line in my short term memory. The conversation may have gotten a lot more awkward, I can tell you that. *Sigh*...sometimes, you just wonder about people...


...Wait a minute, just what the hell was he trying to imply?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

If Only Econ Quizzes Were This Fun...

I am going to be leaving to attend my grandmother's 90th birthday party this weekend, so don't expect anything over the weekend. Sorry. Additionally, I have lots to do this evening, including a hall program and packing up for said trip. Hence, I'm going to be doing another questionnaire (that is to say, another cop-out). This is a collection of a lot of those "What ______ are you?" quizzes that I've taken over the months.

So, without further ado, come see what my personality is
really like (with my responses in red).

EDIT: Ack! It appears the HTML for the quiz results doesn't work well with the way this is formatted. I didn't want to have to make you click any buttons, but it looks as though I'm without choice. Damn, this took way longer than I was expecting.

Here you go! (Please note, the OCF Server will be down between 10pm on Friday and 10pm on Sunday, so don't blame me if you can't see it during that time!)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Smell of Success

Me: "You know how tonight they're celebrating the Persian New Year?"
Co-Worker: "Yeah. Why?"
Me: "I'm tempted - really tempted - to go to dinner dressed as a Spartan."
Co-Worker: "I'm not sure how many people will get it."
Me: "Even if they don't, there's nothing wrong with a little esotericism now and then."
Co-Worker: "Do you even have a Spartan costume?"
Me: "Who needs a costume? All you need is a pair of underwear, a red cloth, and a six-pack. And I have two out of three."

And now onto our feature presentation...

Some of you may remember the story that male sweat arouses women's sexual drive. Yes, I realize that I am 42 days late in reporting this, but then, I guess it's a good thing I'm not a professional journalist.

Me: "And in our continuing coverage on Decision '08, it appears as though Dwayne Johnson is ahead in the exit polls. And now to Sarah with the weather."
Sarah: "Andrew, it's February 10th. President Hogan has been in office for 3 weeks now."
Me: ".....I...have to go now."

In case you're too lazy to click that link a paragraph back, I'll just run it down. Basically, there's a chemical in male sweat which, when sniffed, created several changes in (heterosexual) females, including improved mood, some physiological changes, and "significantly higher sexual arousal."

Why do I bring this up? Well sir, a thought occurred to me today, somewhat out of the blue:

What about the sweaty fat man?

I'm talking about those large, unpopular kids from high school, the John Goodmans and Wayne Knights who weren't blessed to be born with talent. Have you seen one try to climb a set of stairs? When I walk to campus, the armpits of my shirt always end up darker, but at least the sweat is relegated to that space. But the sweaty fat man, his entire shirt becomes three shades darker, covered in this salty aphrodisiac.

By scientific assumption, shouldn't a sweaty fat man have legions of chicks hanging onto his rolls of flab? Why, when the sweaty fat man exhaustedly enters into a class he rushed to in order to be on time, does he not make the women swoon? Why does the sweaty fat man never get a break?

I'll tell you why!

It's because the ladies are all looking the wrong way. Yes, they are looking away from the sweaty fat man when they become aroused from his odors. But with such a powerful pheromone, how can the sweaty fat man be ignored? It's all due to attractive males, or as I call them, "eye candy." I refer you to the following diagram:

As you can see, the following occurs:
-Female sees attractive male, and stares at him.
-Sweaty fat man enters, covered in arousing sweat.
-A slight breeze catches sweaty fat man stink and whisks it into female's nose.
-Female becomes sexually aroused.
-Female assumes that arousal stems from the appearance of the attractive male.
-Female declares love for attractive male, with all associated benefits.
-Sweaty fat man loses to eye candy. Again.

So, that's my theory. In conclusion, if you are a piece of eye candy, consider this: any woman who you've ever been associated with, you've usurped! If it wasn't for the sweaty fat man, you'd never get the ladies. You would just be another dry, womanless nobody. So give respect to the sweaty fat man, the true king of romance.

Number of times the term "sweaty fat man" was used in this post: 13.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Here, kitty kitty...

Some of the news stories I enjoy hearing about most are those of new species being discovered. I'm not exactly sure why. It could possibly be because I take pleasure in hearing that despite all our latter-day technologies, we still managed to mistake or outright miss a creature that hasn't been found or documented before.

More likely, though, it's because new species always look awesome. It's always a bird with a spiraling beak or a marsupial with huge puppy eyes or something equally interesting. Every time I see a newly-discovered animal, I say, "I wants me one of those."

Such was the case with the most recently discovered animal, the beautiful creature below:

(If you click the image, you'll see the more complete, albeit smaller, picture.)

In the words of the late, great Steve Irwin, "Looka that! What a beauty!" This, ladies and gentlemen, is the Bornean Clouded Leopard. It was originally thought to be nothing more than "just another clouded leopard," but after some genetic testing was done, it turns out that this baby is as different from normal clouded leopards as a lion is to tiger.

What really sets this baby apart? It's teeth. More specifically, it has the largest fangs (2 inches long) in the modern cat world. In fact, only the mighty (and dead) saber-toothed tiger had longer fangs. Imagine the following: if you took your canine teeth (you know, those sharp little buggers that you like to run your tongue over [at least I do]), and made them longer. Longer than they are now, longer than the vampiric teeth of the worker at Hot Topic, longer than the first two knuckles of your index finger. This is how long the new leopard's teeth are. Of course, it's teeth are larger for it's body size, which is only 35 inches long. That means for someone my height, my incisors would have to be over four inches long, almost jutting down past my goatee. Those are intense teeth.

What's really a shame is that this beautiful cat is being hunted not only for its pelt, but also because it's teeth and bones are supposed to have healing powers. Sad. I should write to the World Wildlife Foundation and tell them that in order to save these great creatures, I'd be willing to adopt a Bornean Clouded cub and raise it as I would my own child. It would be safe in my care. Plus, it would have...additional uses.

G-Man: "Mr. Andrew Schnorr?"
Me: "Yes, that's my name."
G-Man: "I'm from the IRS. I wanted to ask you why you feel it's okay to not pay your taxes?"
Me: "You think you're funny, hot stuff?"
G-Man: "Mr. Schnorr, I'm afraid we're going to have to put you under arrest for tax evasion."
Me: "*Sigh*...Somehow I knew this day would come. I can't be cock of the walk forever. Well, before we get down to business, would you like to have some tea."
G-Man: "I see no harm in that."
Me: "Now, Sasha!"
Sasha: "Raawr!"
G-Man: "Aaargh!"
Me: "hehehehehahahahaHAHAHAHA!!!"

See, all their need is some government officials and some warm milk to keep their fangs strong and healthy.

(Original Article)

Monday, March 19, 2007

Mini-Blogs, Set Two

Wallet-less Update, Part I

Still no official word yet on the actual wallet. I swear, once I get a new one, I will put a note inside which says "You can keep the cash. Just return the wallet and cards to me. Thanks! ^_^"

As it turns out, the Cal ID Office is not very strict about security requirements of having another form of ID, which is at once comforting and worrisome. On the one hand, someone could just go up to them and say, "Why, yes, I am Andrew Schnorr, and I need a new ID card. Please invalidate the old card and take a new picture of me." On the other hand, why the hell would anyone do that?

And so, I was able to get a new ID card, so I was not forced to starve today for lack of meal points. It's looking a bit bare, though, and I don't want to pay to get another class pass (that's a bus pass, for those of you not in the know), so I might do what some people suggested and photocopy someone else's.

Back in the Stone Skin

I once again put myself under a spell before the Blog DeCal began. This time, I was standing in a Superman-esque pose, so as to be gentler on my poor little tail bone. Still, being frozen in place until your name is spoken is never comfortable. I wondered how long I would go. Perhaps my classmates didn't actually read my blog or, more likely, they did, and were planning to test my willpower (read: torture me) by not releasing me from my iron grip.

As it turned out, though, Dimas saw through my shenanigans, said my name, and released me from my stolid prison-state.

Picture This!

In order to accept my invitation to join Haas, I need to submit a few items, including a statement of acceptance, a request to change schools, and some other paperwork. I also have to submit "Two Passport-Sized Photographs". These will appear in the new student directory for all the world (of new Haas students) to see. At first I was wondering how I'd get passport photos; were there any local places?

I looked online and saw various items about the subject. I also saw a set of "rules" for passport photos. One of the ones I thought seemed most conflicting with my intentions was that you have to be in casual clothing; no suits. Well, this is a student directory for a business school, isn't it? I would think that wearing a suit, while not mandatory, would be...y'know...appropriate. So I was facing a bit of a conundrum.

Of course, I failed to realize until later that they had only asked for a passport-sized photograph. That is, it had to be two inches by two inches. Y'know, they could have just said 2"x2". It would have saved on ink, fingerwork, and confusion.

So, with that newfound information, I decided to take a couple of my more...well, my less goofy pictures from my "Two-Minute Photo-Shoot" and Photoshop them to make them look not look like they were taken in the living room of my house. I added a gradient background, created a false shadow, the works. Right now, I have two main candidates, which are below (keep in mind, these are actually 2"x2", they're just huge pixel-wise):

I do have a current favorite, although I won't say which one; I don't want to bias you. So, which of the two, if either, do you think I should use (and yes, I am asking for some active commenting here)?

A Few Random Thoughts on the English Language

-I've always thought we should have standardized pronunciations for families of words. The examples that spring to mind are economy and photography.

We say "ee-CON-a-mee" but "eck-a-NOM-ics." It's unnecessary to have multiple pronunciation variants for a single family. I think these should be revalued so that we say "ee-CON-a-mee," "ee-CON-a-mics," and "ee-CON-a-mic-ly." Go ahead, say them. They roll off the tongue (actually, they sprint off) and make more sense.

As far as photography goes, I think we should say "fu-TOG-raf-ee," "fu-TOG-raf-ic," and finally, "Let me take a fu-TOG-raf of you." It just works, people. And before you say it sounds funny: it only sounds funny because you've been hearing it the other way for 20+ years.

-Speaking of photography, if we call a photographic picture a photograph, shouldn't we call a pornographic picture a pornograph? "Jimmy, stop looking at those pornographs!" Works for me.

-By the way, I want to start pronouncing decade as "deck-id." Does anyone know a dictionary that lists this as an acceptable pronunciation?

Okay, that's all for tonight. Go have your cookies, children.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

How smart do I feel *now*?

I have not out-and-out lost my temper in many, many years, mainly because I feel I've gained more composure with age. However, today, I came thiiiis to just losing it and blowing up in public. To call today disastrous would be an understatement. For me, it was probably the worst day in recent memory.

Oh, it wasn't supposed to be a bad day. On the contrary, today was supposed to be a fun, adventurous day. Here's what this blog entry should have said:
I took a Mensa test today. Just as a lark. I was recently talking to someone about IQ tests, and they told me I should try to join Mensa. In order to do that, I had to take their test to prove I have an IQ in the top 2% of Americans. So, I decided, "Why not?" At worst, it'll cost me the $30 testing fee. At best, it will be something I can gloat about and use to get discounts at Office Depot's printing station. So, I left at around noon, took the BART to San Leandro, walked the rest of the way, and had a fun time doing so...
However, that's not the story you're going to hear (God, how I wish it was...). No, my story turned out much different. And you know what? I blame two minutes. I have talked before about how sometimes a very short amount of time can make a huge difference. Well, today, two minutes pretty much ruined my day.

How could this be? Well, let's just say that one delay led to another.

-I began my trip almost two hours before the test started, walking to reach a 51 Bus Stop.
-I just missed the 51 Bus that would take me to the BART station, so I had to wait about 20 minutes for the next one.
-Once I got to the station, I deposited some checks at the nearby WaMu and took out some cash to pay the test fee. I then found out that I had just missed the BART train and had to wait another 20 minutes for the next one.
-I took the BART to the San Leandro station, and put my ticket in my wallet so as not to lose it.
-I had a map (with very few street names on it) that told me to go south on the street I was on. At first, I figured I should just guess (50-50 chance, after all). I asked a gas station attendant, but she was completely useless. I eventually decided to orient myself and walk in that direction. I was running out of time, but would still make it before 2pm.
-A little less than a mile and a half later, I realized that I had gone in the wrong direction. 50-50 chance, and I even tried to orient myself, and I still go in the wrong direction.
-I'm running out of time, so I begin jogging in the opposite direction, hoping to not be too late to the test (and hoping that they'll be nice enough to allow me to take it a few minutes late).
-After about two miles, I realize something is not right.

I instinctively slap my back pocket.


It was gone. My wallet was gone. Everything inside was gone. Cash, debit cards, and every form of identification I had. I began hyperventalating. This isn't supposed to happen to me. Andrew Schnorr does not lose his wallet. ANDREW SCHNORR DOES NOT LOSE HIS WALLET! But here I was, in some unfamiliar city, without a wallet.

I immediately retraced my steps. I walked back with my eyes sweeping the ground. To no avail. It was gone. And that most likely meant that someone had it. I prayed that they had an iota of honesty and would report it. I didn't even care if they took all the cash; hell, I'd give them the $80+ in there if they returned my wallet. It's the ID that's important. If I were ever mugged, I would always ask the thief to give me back my ID. The rest is irrelevant.

I soon called the San Leandro police department and reported my wallet as missing. I then called my banks to cancel my debit cards. I then realized a little irony: remember how I said that I had put my BART ticket into my wallet "so as not to lose it?" Well, now I was left with no way to get back, so I had to drag one of my gracious co-workers into this mess in order to assure myself that I got back to Berkeley. Before he came, I once again scanned the areas I had been to, but my wallet was still nowhere to be found.

Here are a couple ironies to ponder:
-Now I need to get a new driver's license and a new SID card, both of which are going to cost money. Unfortunately, I'm not going to be able to get cash from the bank until I have an ID to show them.
-I have a plane trip to go home this weekend. I need an ID to get into the airport. For that, and other reasons, I asked my father to mail me my passport. However, to pick up anything in the mail room that's not a simple letter requires an ID. (If they do that to me, though, I will end them.)

Sigh...I can't continue; I have a headache right now. I feel like I'm in Bizarro World, where everything is the opposite of how it should be. So forgive me for being a little bitter.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

A Quick Note And a Cop-Out

Just a little note...

In the next week and a half, I will have the following things on my mind:

1 Midterm
1 Paper
2 Hall Programs
1 Slideshow
A trip back home for my grandmother's 90th birthday
All the usual things I have to do

In short, I will be more preoccupied than normal with non-blogging items, Hence, you may notice a sharp decrease in the quality and/or quantity of my posts in that time. I still hope to keep up with it (I dislike seeing my blog not up to date), but...well, we'll see how it all works out.

In the mean time, please enjoy this delightful cop-out: a short collection of quotes from Hans Moleman, one of my favorite characters on The Simpsons:

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Haasta la Vista...

Right now, I just want to melt. I want to let my bones turn to butter and simply melt to the floor. I barely even want to be writing right now.

I haven't talked about my education in this blog much. Most of the posts about Cal are about my telling off solicitors on Sproul. But rest assured, I am actually enrolled here. And, as of today, a big decision was made for me.

For the past week or so, I've been waiting in anticipation for the Haas School of Business to release it's admissions decisions. (I know what some of you are thinking: "Business? With that goatee?") The general acceptance rate to the school is about 50 - 60%, so it was never really a sure bet that I'd get in when I applied last...November, I think? I did well enough in my classes, and I think I wrote some pretty good essays, but you never know exactly what they're looking for. I'd like to think that my job as an RA helped me a little. Maybe it did...maybe.

Now, I was pretty confident when I first turned in my application that I would be accepted. I mean, why wouldn't I be? However, starting around two days ago, I became a lot less sure of myself. I was originally "positive" that I'd be reassigned to Clark Kerr, and look how that turned out. I realized that there was just as good a chance that they didn't care for my essays, or didn't think my grades were so hot. There was a chance I'd get the all-too-sterile form letter:

Dear Mr. Schnorr,
We'd like to thank you for your interest in pursuing an undergraduate degree at Haas. This year, as any year, there were simply too many qualified applicants to accept. We regret to inform you that we do not have room for you at Haas. Go Bears!

It was a sobering thought. And I became even more sober at 11:50 last night. I didn't know if they announced the decisions at midnight, but it wouldn't hurt to check. So, once the clock shifted to the new day, I quickly raced onto the Haas website to find...nothing. I think I checked three more times before going to bed an hour later.

When I woke up, I checked again. Still nothing. Maybe I'm not looking in the right places. So, I tried looking in the places I thought the decisions wouldn't be. And you know what? They weren't there.

I then decided just to use the campus network whenever I had a break. So, after my first class (and lunch) I used the computers in Evans Hall, in all their cheapery. That's when I saw the link:
"Admission Decisions are now available on-line here." I braced myself and clicked on the link. I was then prompted to enter my SID. I clicked on the button and saw the following:

"Thank you for applying to the Haas School of Business. Admission decisions will be posted on March 14th."

.....That wasn't what I was hoping for. But I tried to reason it away; "They're probably just putting them up one at a time, and haven't put mine up yet." However, the more I thought about it, the more worried I became. What if I had made a mistake on my application and wasn't getting a response at all? No, no, I did everything correctly. Nothing to worry about. Nothing...right?

So, I tried back at the end of my next class. I tried to sign in and..."Syntax Error? What the hell?" Yes, some computer in the Haas system vomited Linux all over my screen. I tried several more times, with the same result. No help there. I decided to go straight to the horse's mouth, so I walked up to the Haas Undergraduate adviser office. They told me that something had gone completely janky, and they were "hoping" to have it done by 5pm. So, I went on with my life until I got back to my room around 5:30 or so. First thing I did once I got there? Signed onto the Haas website.

"Haas," I said, "My nerves are shot, and it's your fault. This must be your idea of a cruel initiation ritual...hopefully initiation."

Once more I typed in my SID and clicked "Submit." I then closed my eyes and said a small prayer. In that prayer I thanked God for all the opportunities He has given me, all the doors He has held His foot in for me. No matter what happened, I deserved what I got, and was happy for the chance to be a part of it. I thanked Him for this, for that, for everything.

I then opened my eyes.

"Congratulations Andrew Schnorr!"

I didn't read any more. I just covered my face and began...well, I guess it could best be described as a cough or a grunt, somewhere between laughter and crying.

I'm in.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

What's in a Name?

Those of you who attended our most recent session of the Blog DeCal may have noticed that I was a bit...still. I was sitting in the hallway with my back straight against the wall and my knees pointing towards the ceiling, supporting my arms and clenched fists on top of them. My reflective sunglasses covered my eyes, and so you most likely thought that I was enjoying a most pleasant nap. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. You see, I was cursed by a most unusual enchantment which rendered my body motionless, save for my eyes. Had you taken off my sunglasses, you would have seen my open eyes staring back at you, but my body unable to do a thing about it.

The most peculiar thing was, I placed this spell upon myself.

...In the beginning of August, all potential hall staff members had to go through training. Part of this training included a retreat. While on this retreat, we were told to find a rock to keep with us (we would later learn that the rock represented negative thoughts and such, but that's irrelevant). Everyone found a different rock. Some found pebbles, others took small boulders. My rock turned out to be a healthy-sized piece of quartz. Once we had our rocks, we were left to our own devices.

Almost immediately, what was the first thing everyone did? Name the rocks, of course. Some went with the kindergarten-esque "Mr. Rock" while others tried all sorts of names, from "Stony McBrickface" to "Jeff." I personally named my quartz the intellectual "Ichabod." And with each name came each rock's character. We now felt attached to the rocks since they had names. Many of us could scare bare to lose them. Indeed, little Ichabod is still sitting atop my microwave.

Names have an important power. From the classic tale of Rumpelstiltskin to the princess in the lamentably dull The NeverEnding Story, names have played an important part in the psyche. Because they have meanings, they add to someone's character, even if it may not seem to fit at first. Names are idenity, for sure, but they do so much more. They give life to a character. For example, even if you've never seen him before, you can still get an idea of who Snidely Whiplash is based on his name.

I was thinking about these things as I got out early from my IDS 110 class. And as I sat down outside the door to our Barrows classroom at 4:45, I thought to myself, "You know, I shall become inanimate, lifeless, and still until someone gives me life by saying my name."

And so I did.

It didn't matter how one said my name. It could be gently, as in, "Andrew, are you asleep?" It could be more firm, like, "Andrew! Wake up!" It could be casual: "Hey, Andrew!" Hell, I'd accept it if I could make out my name in my peripheral hearing. Of course, I was listening to music at the time, limiting my auditory capacity, and I couldn't take out my ear buds; I was immobilized, after all.

As people were walking into the classroom, some looked at me. Good, I thought, they're acknowledging my paralysis. Maybe they'll say my name. It didn't happen that way, of course. Most just walked right by, letting a "sleeping" dog lie. Others attempted to communicate nonverbally, via hand gestures, or perhaps a friendly poke in the shoulder. But still, they remained silent.

Oh, I figured it would last for no longer than 25 minutes. After all, that's when the class would start. I figured Miguel would arrive and say to me, "Andrew, the class is starting," thereby freeing me from my prison. But, as Fate would have it, Miguel didn't arrive. That meant that class wouldn't be starting anytime soon. That meant that my predicament had grown dire. If everyone gave up and left, without saying my name, I might be stuck in Barrows for...well, for much longer than I would have liked.

My body became sore. Humans are not meant to remain in one immovable position long, particularly when that position involves resting your tail bone on the floor. Even my hands began moaning in agony from remaining clenched. I needed to move, but I couldn't. Try as I might, I...just...couldn't. The stony enchantment held firm.

Then, people began leaving. First, it was the group in the hall. I was hoping for a "Goodbye, Andrew," or even a, "Damn, that Andrew is a lazy ass." Anything as long as it had my name. But alas, I was left behind like a three-legged puppy. Then more people began leaving the classroom. A few turned and waved to the "sleeping" child ("Perhaps he's not asleep at all; maybe he's just in a bad mood."), but kept their lips shut tight. My name, you bastards! my mind and eyes shouted behind my sunglasses, Just say the name! Before long, I realized that essentially everyone had left. I was left with only one out.

Thankfully, he pulled through.

As Chris walked out, he knelt down and said, quite simply, "Hey, Andrew." Immediately my head jerked, making a small popping sound in my neck. I then proceeded to slough off the stone skin which had been covering my own. While stretching my arms, I happened to glance at my watch, and saw that it was 5:38.

Me: "53-minutes. I've been like that for 53 agonizing minutes."
Chris: "Sleeping?"
Me: "No, just motionless until someone said my name. Thanks."

And with that, we parted ways. Chris may have been confused, but I was simply happy to be mobile again. The life of a nameless rock...that's not the life for me.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Pure, Unbridled Happiness and a 10-Year-Old Page Turned

Yesterday was a very, very important day for me. Why? Thanks to the Internet, I have just found the answer to a mystery that has been plaguing me for over 10 years. And, let me tell you, it feels good.

A long, long time ago, I had one of the first vivid dreams in my long history of extremely vivid dreams. There have been others that have stood out over the years, but I think this was one of the first big ones that's stayed with me through my life.

I, with several of my comrades, am fighting against a score of beasts and monsters. A short sword is in my hand, but I know I am the weakest of all those fighting. There is a barbarian-like man fighting at my side, as is an anthropomorphic animal of some kind (this was the only non-vivid part). We are inside a mountain, a volcano of sorts, and we do not have long. The sweat pours from my face as steam from the cracks in the mountain smashes against it. Time is running out; the mountain is collapsing, the magma rising, the creatures pressing in. We are going to die.

Suddenly, I see that there is a portal in the distance. If we can make it to that portal, we'll be somewhere - anywhere - away from here. Unfortunately, our path is blocked by our enemies. I yell to my companions that we have to leave, and they acknowledge me. We run towards the portal, but the closer we come, the more frantic the creatures become. My companions are slowed down in trying to hold them at bay. I call to the
m. They tell me to continue. I shout back that I won't leave them to die. And that is when the anthropomorphic animal tells me the only line I remember: "Maybe I'll come back as a butterfly." Only I escape, leaving my companions and friends to their doom.

I am later at my home, in my yard, where I am setting a helmet down on a simple wooden-cross memorial. I then walk away. As I do, a small butterfly comes down and lands on the helmet.

Hmm, maybe it wasn't as vivid as I originally remember, but the fact that it's stayed with me for over 10 years has to count for something. Tha
t's not my point, anyway. My point is that it was a very important and emotional dream from my childhood. You don't cry from many dreams, but I remembered that this particular one stirred up some emotion in my miniaturized self. As I grew older, though, I learned that there was one problem with the dream.

It wasn't my own.

What do I mean by that? Well, as time went on, I had this nagging feeling that what I saw and felt in that dream was not, in a sense, original. That the scene that played out for me was not an unique invention of my psyche. That I had, sometime, somewhere, seen it (or a similar scene) before.

That left me one question: where?

Being a TV-addicted child of the 90s, I rem
ember what is commonly referred to as "the second golden age of animation" from 1989 to about 1997. I won't go into the details (that can be saved for another time), but I think cartoons nowadays suck in comparison to when I was young, from production values to voice acting to everything (and also beg the question, why do cartoons in the age of computers look worse than when they were hand-drawn?). Regardless, I have watched many, many cartoons throughout my youth, and to find a single one which could answer my question of where I have experienced my dream before...well, it was a near-impossibility. I didn't have any resources to speak of, and the only people who might have such resources (adults) didn't know what in the hell I was talking about.

So, for 10 years, I have carried the burden of finding out what the source of my dream was.

Flash forward to yesterday (or Sunday, March 11, 2007 if you're not reading this on the day it was posted). I was going onto YouTube to reminisce on one of my favorite commercials, and my favorite commercial jingle, of all time:


However, one of the more interest
ing things about this video is the little URL in the bottom corner., huh? So, I hop on over to that page, which has quite the collection of old commercials, TV shows, and other paraphernalia. A nostalgic paradise.

While going through the various pages, from X-Men to Captain Planet to DuckTales, a voice suddenly whispered through my skull. I don't know where it came from or where it went, but as it passed through me, it spoke two words.

"Mighty Max."

I was taken aback by the thought, because I hadn't thought about Mighty Max in at least a decade. For those who don't remember, Mighty Max was the name of a fairly popular series of...some kind of toys, I'm not exactly sure what you'd call them. Here's a picture of one of the toy...playset...thing:

Jog any memories? No? Well, I tried. Anyhoo, the toyline proved successful enough that they decided to make a TV series out of it. Looking back on it, it was a fairly high-concept show, involving history, mysticism, predestination, religion and mythology, legends, and a surprisingly large amount of death for a cartoon. So, I watched the intro on it's page.

Watch it right now, just for kicks. Tell me what you see. Actually, I'll tell you what I saw: a barbarian-like character, an anthropomorphic owl character, and portals.

"No," I thought when I saw it, my eyes opening, "It couldn't be."

It was uncanny. And it made sense in a show about predestination and mythology and such. But I couldn't go on faith alone. I needed proof to put my mind at ease. So, I log onto my friend and yours, YouTube, and begin searching. I knew one thing for sure; if two of the main character's die, it *has* to be in the series finale.

So, I watch parts one and two of the last episode. I'll just spoil it now and saw that, indeed, those two characters die...but not like they were supposed to, and there was no butterfly at the end.

"NO!" I screamed, clutching my fluffy hair. This was the closest I have gotten to solving this mystery in ten years, and it turned out to be a dead end. It was a failure. I was a failure.

The more I thought about it, though, the more determined I became to find the truth. I was onto something. I may have gone into one dead end, but there were other avenues I could traverse if I just backed up a bit. Think, Andrew, think. This show involved time paradoxes. Could it be that they did die in an earlier episode, or something to that effect?

It was a long shot, but it was worth a look. I had no reason to be sure that this was the correct show, and yet I was sure. Something about it just told me I was right.

In order to avoid watching 40 22-minute-long episodes, I opened up all their respective Wikipedia pages to see if I could do some sort of "cyber-reconnaissance" mission. (And yes, I did try this beforehand.) As I read the brief description of each episode, I made a snap judgement as to whether it seemed to be a likely candidate or not. Episode 1? Of course not. Episode 2? No, that doesn't sound right. Episode 3? Episode 4? And so on, and so forth.

Then I got to Episode 13, which happened to be the first season finale (Hmm...interesting). Here's the description of the episode:

"Max has been having nightmares about Skullmaster's zombie legions tracking him down, and Virgil suggests that they gather a band of heroes and enter Skull Mountain to destroy the Crystal of Souls. They travel to different countries and enlist Hanuman, the monkey King, Beowulf, who slew the monstrous Grendel with his bare hands, Jonayaiyin, a Native American shaman, and Mujaji, an African warrior woman. This "maxnificent seven" enters Skull Mountain and battles an army of Skullmaster's monsters. From each of the heroes Max learns a lesson in bravery, then enters Skullmaster's inner sanctum alone and finds the courage to destroy the crystal. The heroes make a last stand to enable Max, Norman and Virgil to escape."
Look at the description of the heroes: Beowulf, a Germanic warrior (definitely barbarian-like), and Hanuman, an anthropomorphic monkey (in reality, a Hindu hero). Next, look at that last line again. "The heroes make a last stand to enable Max, Norman and Virgil to escape."

I allowed a smile to creep up my cheeks.

I raced back to YouTube to test my new theory. I typed in "mighty max episode 13" and was presented with either Part I or Part II. Of course, the important part happens near the end, so I chose Part II, which I am including below. You don't have to watch the whole thing. Only go to the parts at 7:11 (or 3:24 if the timer's running backwards) and especially 9:51 (0:45).

And upon seeing that, I stood from my chair and promptly fell to the floor, laughing.

Ten years.

Ten years. Ten years I have had this mystery, this burden, following me around, haunting me. Now, I no longer have mystery; nor do I have just a hunch. I have proof. I have found my answer, something I have almost given up on so long ago.

...And it feels nice.

Friday, March 9, 2007

An Open Letter to Everyone Who Has Complained About Commercials Being at the Beginning of Movies

Dear Everyone Who Has Complained About Commercials Being at the Beginning of Movies,

You actually have it pretty good, so shut up.1

Andrew Schnorr

1. There has been seeming upsurge of advertisements in-theatre when going to movies. Many times it's for Coca Cola or the like. And then I hear people complaining, "Oh, how horrible. I hate that there are commercials before the movie now. I pay the price for my ticket, and they're still making us watch commercials like it's television." Even nationally-watched Andy Rooney has complained about such things (truth be told, though, the only time Andy Rooney won't be complaining is when he's dead).

People are funny in that they have a strict aversion in being advertised to. I once watched a brilliantly made in-theatre ad. It was cinematic; it was beautiful. The person I was with said, "Wow, this looks awesome." Then, at the very end, the product logo came up (I honestly can't remember what it was for). My associate then changed their tune, saying, "Oh, it's just a commercial. Lame." The content didn't change; only my associate's perspective. They realized that the ultimate purpose of this production was to take your money, and thus, they hated it.

My question is, who cares? As long as a commercial is entertaining, I couldn't care less if I was trying to be bought or not. The fact of the matter is, every single piece of entertainment is made for the purpose of making money. Maybe the director is making it to fulfill his artistic vision, but that ain't going to cut it when proposing for money. People aren't adverse to seeing trailers in theatres. Why not? They're just ads. ...Oh, I see, it's because of the product they're hawking. We want to see those commercials, because they're for something entertaining. Well, what if I thought that vacuum is damn appealing? Maybe I wouldn't be so adverse to watching a commercial for it.

For those who say that they shouldn't have to watch commercials because they already paid for a ticket, consider the economics behind it: the theatre needs money. They can either get this money through advertising or through increased ticket prices. Let's say that for a single 1-minute ad, Coca Cola pays a theatre a monthly amount roughly equivalent to $1 per person in the theatre that month (I'm simplifying here). If the theatre wanted to get that profit without advertising, they'd have to raise ticket prices by that same amount. Now ask yourself a question: would you be willing to put their money where their mouth is and pay an extra dollar for a movie ticket just so you can avoid 2 minutes of commercials?

...I didn't think so.

So, until you're willing to pay the price, don't complain. I have absolutely no sympathy for the RIAA and the MPAA when they complain about pirated movies. I saw this British pseudo-ad and thought it to be completely apt.

On the other hand, I do have a deal of sympathy for movie theatres. People complain about movie prices, but the fact is, movie theatres as we know them are suffering. The right to distribute a movie has jumped astronomically because of piracy and greedy studios. When you tack on the costs of employing popcorn-shovelers, their profits...well, let's just say they haven't been there. Enter advertisers. With this, the theatres can afford to stay in business in the long run.

So, summing up that point: do you like watching movies on the big screen? Thank commercial advertising.

Finally, we don't know how lucky we have it. Not only are the commercials we have short, they're also (for the most part), entertaining. Personally, my favorite commercials from the past year or so have been the deliciously creepy and downright absurd Sub-Lymon-al Advertising from Sprite. For those who don't recall them, here's the "montage" piece:

Yes, it's an advertisement, but it's trippy and fun. Plus, it's only a minute long. However, back in the 50's, advertisements would be upwards of 20 minutes long in the theatre. The fact that these were short films is not the problem, but the problem was the quality. I'd rather watch an excellent ad for a crappy product than a crappy ad for an excellent product any day.

Now, since getting Netflix, I have become well-acquainted with the genius show Mystery Science Theater 3000, which for those who don't know, was a show based around a guy and two robot puppets making fun of some of the worst movies ever made. But they don't limit themselves to just feature films; they've done plenty of shorts, as well. Many of these pieces of theatrical phlegm have been advertisements from various companies and organizations, including the organization we all know and love: the government. Of course, all the government's shorts were propaganda thinly veiled as public service announcements. Here's an example of one of these short PSA's called Cheating (the heckling is there to make it watchable):

So, the next time you complain about having to sit through two minutes of advertisements, think back to a "simpler" time when you would have to drag through this mess. Thend.2

2. "Thend" is a word I use to mean "The End" as I feel it's more stylized and fun.3

3. Did you forget that these are just footnotes for a letter? For shame.4

4. Please refer to Footnote 3.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

A Better Question Would Be "Are You Smarter Than a Random Piece of Trivia?"

I don't watch television very much. Keep in mind, I'm not counting movies, computers, and video games; I use those rather frequently. But as for actual TV, I probably watch about 45 minutes a week...if that.

However, I saw an ad for an interesting, if novel, concept: Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? For kicks, I turned it on for about the last 20 minutes of the show, and I watched a couple clips on YouTube. I must admit, I was intrigued by the idea behind the show: are people so prone to stupidity that we dumb down as we grow older.

After seeing the show, I can say that the answer is an emphatic no.

Of course, this isn't the answer that the show wants you to determine. Nay, they're trying to prove to you that, yes, adults don't know things that even 10-year-olds can get. However, after watching the show, I can see how flawed a concept it really is.

The first question I saw on YouTube was the following: How many teaspoons in 5 tablespoons? Once I saw this, I realized I didn't know the answer. I figured there were 2 teaspoons in a tablespoon, and so the answer was 10. The contestant made the same choice. As it turns out, there are 3 teaspoons in a tablespoon, and so we were wrong. I got straight A's from 4th to 12th grade, I was Valedictorian of my high school, I was in NHS and CSF, I got accepted to UC Berkeley, scored in the top 2% of national standardized testing, and have a IQ of 139, and I don't know how many teaspoons are in a tablespoon.

Y'know what? I'm still smarter than those little bastards, teaspoons be damned!

There are only two situations in which it would be useful to know the teaspoonity of a tablespoon. The first is if you're a struggling chef who can't even eyeball the amount of seasoning to use. The second is if, for some godforsaken reason, you've lost your tablespoon, in which case you should just buy another tablespoon, if for no other reason that to avoid repetitive stress disorder from flipping a teaspoon so many times.

The capacity of the human mind is not infinite. Except for the greatest of savants, a normal adult brain does not remember everything it has learned. It keeps the more or less essential stuff and filters out the fluff. Why do we learn how many teaspoons are in a tablespoon? Not because it's practical knowledge, no, but because it's a introduction to multiplication. For some reason, when you're young, you can't handle pure numbers very well. I'm sure there's some psychology behind it, but regardless, you need to consider things in objects (or, as was often the case in my classes, money). Once you understand the concepts, though, there's no reason to hide the numbers behind the objects. Take away the superfluous knowledge, and this is just 5*3. Teaspoons won't help you in the future. Pure multiplication will. Sorry, kiddo, but that ego trip you got by being "smarter" than the adult, that'll fade, and fade fast.

Part of me wishes I were on this show. Aside from the usual game show promise of winning $1 million (a quick aside: if they asked me what I'd do with the money, I'd say I'd get it all in coins and swim in it like Scrooge McDuck), I'd like to prove to those little punks that they're not so hot just because they remember some disposable piece of information. Though, this desire would probably make me a poor contestant. I can see it now...

Jeff Foxworthy: "So, how many cups in a gallon?"
Me: "I'm going to have to go with 32, Jeff."
Jeff Foxworthy: "You might be a redneck if you get this wrong."
Me: "You've been saying that every single question."
Jeff Foxworthy: "So, Little Johnny, what answer did you come up with?"
Little Johnny: "It's 16. There are four cups in a quart, and four quarts in a gallon. I guess I'm smarter than you, and you're twice my age."
Me: ".......Alright, my erudite little friend, maybe you could tell me what the derivative of three-eks-cubed-over-the-square-root-of-five-eks-squared is! Or how the government can affect the growth of the economy?! Or what the major themes in Paradise Lost were?!!? OR WHAT PARALLAX IS?!?!?! CAN YOU?!?! CAN YOU, YOU LITTLE SNOT!?!?!?!?!"
"We should probably edit this part out."

Truth be told, I'll probably forget some of the answers to those questions in ten years. I probably won't be stupider, though. My knowledge will just be shifted somewhere else, probably to more practical, occupation-specific things. But as long as I continue to indulge my curiosity, I will never be dumber than a fifth grader.

'Course, if one of the requirements to receive a large sum of money is to declare my intellectual inferiority to a 10-year-old, I'm willing to set aside my integrity for one sentence.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

"Sit in yer own damn seat!"

So, I was walking into my IDS 110 lecture in Pimentel Hall when I saw something terrible. Something which at first shocked me, and then the closer I got to it, the angrier I became. It was an inexcusable offense. It was blasphemy. It was madness.

Someone was sitting in my seat.

I am exceptionally territorial. I have had a lecture in Wheeler Auditorium every semester for the past two years, and since my very first day at Cal, I have sat in the exact same chair (K-4). In the rare occasions when someone has usurped my seat, I don't know whether I should vomit or punch them in the face. They stole my seat! What are they going to do next, steal my girlfriend (assuming I had one)?!

I've always been very territorial. This is part of the reason why I was so bummed out by being reassigned from Clark Kerr to Unit 2. Most times it's not a problem; I'm often one of the first people to get into any given classroom, and for the most part, people don't move around too much. Still, there are those days...there are other instances of the things I have to go through, as well.

In my hall staff meetings, I sit two seats from the end on the right side of the table. However, one of my coworkers enjoys sitting there, if only to forbid me from doing the same. I am not so easily discouraged. I simply set aside another chair, and then I would lift up my coworker's chair (with coworker) and move her to her rightful place at my left hand. I'd then scoot the other chair in and sit contentedly. Yes, I know it's not chivalrous, but my stubbornity often comes before my least when it comes to my territory.

But that's not even the most extreme it's been. A few years back, when I was but a lowly high school senior, I was shocked to find that one of my classmates in my AP English class had her keister planted firmly in my desk. Now, this was a not a lecture hall. There were no more than 15 people in that classroom, and we had been sitting in the same seats for 8 months. Why she chose that particular day and that particular desk, I didn't know. And frankly, I didn't care; she was in my seat, and that was all that mattered.

When I have a point to make, especially with someone I know, I tend to use "the silent stare," which is exactly what it sounds like. I will stare at the offender without saying a word. My glare has been described as quite intimidating and disorienting, and so most people will cave in rather than endure it. Unfortunately, this girl wouldn't move, although I could tell she was uncomfortable. I still believe she was either dared or (more likely) paid to do this. When I realized that I was getting nowhere fast, I decided to take more drastic steps, by which I mean I tried to physically move the desk. When I did, not only did she plant her feet in the ground, but she yelped with such force that you'd think I'd mollested her.

When the class bell finally rang, my AP English teacher asked what was going on. When the situation was to her, she said to me, "You can't physically move her, Andrew. You're going to have to either take another seat or stand."

"I'll stand, then."

And I did. For 90 minutes, I stood in place. As luck would have it, we had a surprise essay test that day. Using a 10 lb. English book as my hard surface, I wrote a four-page essay on some random topic while standing up for 90 minutes.

...And I still got the best grade on that test.

What I really thought was funny was that my AP English teacher said to me afterward, "You know, Andrew, at first I thought you were just being stubborn. But now I see you have great resolve and are very steadfast."

"Well," I replied, "that's what being stubborn is all about."

Unfortunately, my ability to do this is somewhat limited in a college environment. After all, I haven't known all of these people for four years. Hell, I haven't known many of them for more than four minutes. Any attempt to stare them down, or physically move them, or stand next to them, would be seen...negatively. What's a guy to do? Unfortunately, it means I'd just have to live it down, swallow my pride, and be uncomfortable for the next hour.

Now, the person was sitting in Row 3, Seat 20. While I'll avoid sitting next to a stranger (particularly one who looks sickly, as this one did), I did sit as close as possible. He was probably wondering why, in an empty classroom that could seat hundreds, I chose to sit two seats away from him. For my part, I was just sitting quietly, glancing at him out of the corner of my eye. This was going to be a long lecture.

Then, suddenly, he got up and left. I hadn't noticed, but he was packing up the whole time. Then it dawned on me: oh, he's from the previous class. How silly of me.

As soon as he was out of sight, I quickly hopped to my seat, lest someone else usurp it. I stretched out my interlaced fingers, cracking my knuckles, and smiled. Chalk one up to stubbornity.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

A Bloody Good Time, Chaps!

I'm currently wrapped up like a street fighter, my finger stings like hellfire, and I have a little red sticker. I gave blood today.

The Red Cross came in to CKC for a blood drive. We brought in quite a few people who had signed up to give blood to those in need of such stuff. As a hall staff member, I was volunteering for a couple hours, registering people and making sure they were well as they had their precious life juice extracted from them.

An aside about blood. You may notice I refer to it in many ways, from "precious life juice" (like above) to "sanguinary nectar" and a bunch of other ways. That's because I have an unusual fascination with blood. Here's an except from a dream that I converted into an unfinished story:
It was during this moment of silence that I noted the peculiar condition that my room had been cursed with. Gone were the walls, covered with paintings and photographs. Gone I say, to a world which I may never see (should God above permit me not to see so). Gone, too, was the ceiling, and above, I could see not the sun or clouds, not the moon or stars. In their stead was a foul mist, swirling amidst a most imposing darkness. The odious stench of the mist brought into my mind the tangy memory of blood. Only then did I realize that this mist was sanguine in color; it was indeed the hateful stuff! The mist gathered and coagulated, dripping from the air to the floor, replacing the rug that lay in my room with a pool of the wicked humor. It was in this pool that the fiend stood, letting the stuff soak into his charcoal robe. All else that I had known, that had stood in my room, was gone, save for my bed and my body. Although I tried to move, to escape, I could feel my corpse lying still as moss. Only my eyes would function, and they could not, would not, move from the malevolent being before me.
(It was an unsettling dream.)

I may refer to it as "hateful stuff," but I actually do enjoy it. Not as a vampire, mind you. More as a warrior. What does that mean? Well, to explain, I'd have to sound a little weird and possibly creepy. But I'm not afraid to hide anything, so I'll give a bit more insight. The inside of my nose is very delicate. When I was young, I would have nosebleeds on an almost weekly basis. So the sight of blood, particularly my own, is not uncommon to me.

I don't have nosebleeds to the same extent as I did then, but they do tend to occur every now and then without warning. Usually, it's more of an annoyance than anything. But the one time I truly enjoy getting a nosebleed is in the shower. A place of solitude, a place where all is made clean. There's nothing to lose by getting a little dirty. So, I let it flow. I let the sanguine stuff flow all over me. I take some of it in my fingers and paint my face with red markings. I pool it in my hands and squeeze then until it oozes from betwixt my fingers. I let a few drops stain my teeth a reddish-yellow. I feel invigorated. I feel like I should take up a war hammer and do some serious bludgeoning why howling to the winds.

Creeped out yet? Well, after I wash it all down the drain, the feeling passes. However, the point remains that as I was watching my blood flow through that little tube, I couldn't help but think, "beautiful."

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I originally wasn't even going to give blood. Not because I was afraid of losing blood; you have already been able to tell that that's not an issue. It wasn't even about having a needle shoved into my arm. I've been through plenty of experiences where I've had to give significant blood (most recently to prove that I didn't have Hepatitis B). No, the needle would be the easy part.

I didn't want to give blood because I didn't want to get screened.

Now, there's almost nothing wrong with screening. I have no problem telling the Red Cross that I've been in prison in the last week, or that I've had sexual relations with a prostitute. No, it was the
finger prick that vexed me. I've noticed that my fingers are more sensitive than most. I can handle pain almost anywhere on my body, almost to a borderline-masochistic degree. But not my fingertips; those are my special spots. I asked all the doctors if they could take the blood sample from anywhere else on my body. From my face, from my legs, from my wrists; anywhere but my fingertips. They said no. When I asked why, not a single one of them knew the reason.

Still, for the greater good, I went through with it. They pricked my finger, and it felt like it was being torn apart.
Them: "There, that wasn't bad, now was it."
Me: *If my teeth weren't clenched, I'd give them a piece of my mind.*

The pain lingered for quite awhile (in fact, it still is 4 hours later), which I hear is quite uncommon. In any event, while waiting to be drained, I was having a conversation with some of my coworkers as to what is the best solution to the need for blood. My idea was to create an artificial blood using science! The advantage to that would be the ability to alter this artificial blood into a kind of super-blood, so as to manufacture a race of super-humans. One coworker says that its too difficult to replicate life material, and that it would be much easier to grow a pod of humans whose sole purpose is the harvest of their lifeblood. The other coworker said that the best way would just be to make blood donation compulsory. "That won't get any support," I said, "It's socially equitable."

Then I got called up. I had talked to many of the doctors/nurses in the drive, and all but one of them was really cool. Unfortunately, I got stuck with the jerk. I tried to be nice to him, but he treated me like a clod of blood-filled dirt. He drained me while avoiding any sort of friendly remarks or words of encouragement. Without anyone to talk to, all I could do was focus on the tip of my middle finger.

I finished relatively quickly ("you bleed well") and I gorged on Cheez-Its and humorously small cans of cranberry juice. I read the little informational page they gave me. It instructed me to drink at least 36 ounces of non-alcoholic liquid, to keep my bandage on and dry, and to refrain from heavy lifting. Hence, my plan for this evening was set.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to be lifting a flowing beer keg while taking a shower.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Politics: The fastest way to make enemies!

I despise talking about politics. I think this comes from my political preferences. On my Facebook profile, you'll see that my "Political Preference" is set under "Other." What does that mean? Well, I guess you could say I'm a bit unique for a Berkeley student, in that I'm a monarchist. And that's not a joke. I am seriously in favor of having a (constitutionally mandated) monarchy in which one person has complete control, with no red tape, no bureaucracy, no voting. It would bring back the phrase "For king and country!" And anyone running under a monarchist ticket would immediately get my vote.

Lamentably, though, there is no American Monarchist Party (well, there is, but it's a small thing headquartered in some backwater town in Texas which I'd like to steer clear from). As is, I'm registered as a Democrat (mainly so I can vote in primaries). However, I'm not exactly one who always votes along party lines. I guess you could call me a moderate, but not even that works perfectly, since a moderate usually has, well, moderate views about most issues. I, on the other, hand, have extremely strong views about certain issues on both sides of the political spectrum. For example:
-I am opposed to both the death penalty and abortion.
-I am not pro-business (I believe in having lot of regulations), but I am also
vehemently anti-union (mainly for personal reasons).
-I am very much anti-war, but I am also anti-peace (in that I dislike hippies, anti-war protesters, and other peaceniks).
-Et cetera.

I guess the best term you could use to describe me would be Liberservative Constitutional Monarchist.

There are only a few situations in which I do enjoy talking politics. Mainly I do so in parody. Sometimes I'll use political figures for other purposes. And then there's other times in which I and two of my friends, Chris and Eddie, will play "the government," so as to mcok the bureaucratic system. Eddie is the president, I am the legislature, and Chris is the Supreme Court. Conversations will sometimes go like this.

Me: "I declare a law in which we go to Arby's tonight."
Eddie: "I veto that law."
Me: "The legislature needs a two-thirds vote to overturn the veto. All in favor of overturning? *Raises hand.* It's unanimous."
Chris: "I declare that law to be unconstitutional!"
Me: "All in favor of impeaching the Chief Justice? *Raises hand.* It's unanimous."
Eddie: "I don't allow this impeachment to proceed."
Me: "All in favor of impeaching the president. *Raises hand.* It's unanimous. That's a double impeachment."
Chris: "I declare these actions to be unconstitutional!"
And so on, and so forth...

But other than that, I'm not big on politics, and I especially dislike them being forced upon me.



...where was I going with this?

Oh, yes! Today, I had some politics (well, some political economics) forced upon me, but I was ready for it. In fact, I was somewhat expecting it. You see, I usually don't like to speak to the solicitors on Upper Sproul unless I have a pre-planned response to whatever they're going to ask. I usually have hypothetical conversations in my head days ahead of time, and I'm actually quite good at predicting what they'll say. And as it turned out, I had thought up one such conversation over the weekend, ever since I saw a flyer for Cal Lobby Day. I felt that if one of the Cal Lobby people came up to me, I would be ready.

And lo and behold, they did! Or, one did, at least. After a nice lunch at the GBC, I walk over to grab a copy of the Squelch, when this chick comes up to me, and the following conversation ensues:

Her: "The average price a Cal student pays is $22,000 a year. And now the governor is planning on raising tuition costs by $435 (or something like that). Doesn't that make you mad?"
Me: "Damn right! It's not nearly enough!"
Her: "Well, would you like to sign...wait, what?"
Me: "We need to increase the costs by at least twice that much if we want to get anywhere."
Her: "You're in favor of increasing tuition."
Me: "Sweetie (I'm not sure if I actually called her that), you're looking at this the wrong way. The University isn't ripping you off. Not with tuition, at least. Year after year, UC Berkeley is named by all those magazines as dollar-for-tuition-dollar the best university in the world. Even with the increase in tuition costs, it's still better than any other university out there."
Her: "But-"
Me: "Here's the thing. Most costs that a student has to pay doesn't have to do with tuition (except for out-of-staters, and they're a lost cause anyway). It has to do with housing. UC Berkeley has the fairly dubious honor of having the highest housing costs in the nation. In fact, Foothill has the single highest room cost, while Clark Kerr Campus has the highest average room cost. Non-student housing is not much better, seeing as this is the Bay Area. What's the problem with this? Well, tuition is tax deductible. Housing costs are not. And yet, for student housing, it's still going to the State of California, but you aren't getting anything back. That's where they're scamming you.
Her: "See-"
Me: "The solution? Transfer housing costs to tuition costs. Instead of paying $5,000 for tuition and $15,000 for housing, tell them to make it $15,000 for tuition and $5,000 for housing. You pay the same amount, but it's suddenly tax deductible."
Her: "But not everyone lives in student-housing."
Me: "Ah, but that's the beauty. Lowering the price of student housing will prompt more people to want to live in the dorms. This will decrease the demand for non-campus housing. Do you have a pen and paper?"
Her: "Umm...yeah."
Me: "Thank you. So, when the demand curve shifts to the left, the new equilibrium point is lower on the vertical supply curve. This means a lower price for all housing." (Dramatic recreation of sketch below.)

"So one way or the other, people save money with this plan. You should promote it or suck it up. The fact of the matter is, the state needs money, and hence people need to give money. I don't envy the governor; he's akin to a doctor who has a patient with poison in their blood, but are unwilling to bleed it out."
Her: "Your logic is astounding! Take me with you! Make love to me!"

That last line was never spoken. In fact, the Cal Lobby worker seemed quite perturbed (to put it lightly) with me. Through a furrowed brow, she mumbled, "Well, if you feel that way, you can lobby your position as well."

"I would," I replied, "except for the fact that I honestly don't care. I don't like politics, anyway. Toodles." And I walked away.

P.S. I just found out that ranch tastes really good on meatloaf!