Saturday, June 30, 2007

There are Some Men Who Never Go Out of Style...

One nice thing about having Photoshop is being able to make your own desktop backgrounds.

...Like my newest one:
Ah, Team Praesieo would be proud!

In the Mind of a Madman?

So much to write, so little time to do so...

How about I start with the colorful "message to the world" I posted a few days back. Some of you were perplexed as to the meaning, but here's the basic gist:

There is no meaning.

The history of this goes back a few, it goes back further than that. You see, I tend to make "things" out of the most random stuff. For example, during my RA training a year ago, I had to do a virtual reality practice session about handling a case of depression (something I've had real-world experience with). The weirdest part about VR, though, is always the intro lines. So, here was my opening lines in this session.

Me: "Hey Andrew (his name was also Andrew), I haven't seen you around lately. Are you doing alright."
Him: (Sullenly) "Yeah, I guess I'm alright."
Me: "How are classes going?"
Him: "Eh, not too well, I really don't like my Math 127 class. Too hard."
Me: "Oh, do you have Professor Smith...en...john?"
Him: "Uh, yeah."
Me: "Yeah, he's a real bitch."

At this point, everyone around me was cracking up (which wasn't very conducive for a depression training session), mainly due to my horrible creation of the name "Smithenjohn." And that became one of my running jokes in that staff (though not nearly as famous as my "Clarrecrefun" idea). The way this worked was that I would take Post-It's or other pieces of paper and put the following on them:
I would them post them in places where they'd be sure to be found, such as on people's keyboards and such. No real reason, just a little bit of fun.

(Side note; I've also decided to use Prof. Smithenjohn in my University of Satherton series of short stories; acting as a satire of the "tough" professor. In fact, Prof. Smithenjohn is so tough that he tells his students on the first day, "I've been known to give grades so low that they lead at least one student a semester to suicide. I will expedite the process." He then takes out a gun and shoots one of the students in the front row.)

Now, this brings me back to the yellow & blue thing. This also began when I was with my CKC coworkers. We were at a program to help people choose their next year's housing. I was sitting around and doing nothing while standing by a chalkboard (nobody was really there). So, I pick up a piece of yellow chalk and write on the board "Yellow." No real reason; I just had the impulse to do so. So, I did so again. The board now read:

I also saw a piece of blue chalk, so I wrote under that, "Blue?" Because 1) Question marks are inherently funny, and 2) where the heck was blue coming from? I then decided I needed some closure to the little string of words, so I added "Blue!" to the end. It then read:

Again, no real point. Then my friend Carlos sees it and asks what it means. I tell him what I told you. He then told me that some Art (or maybe English) major would try to interpret it, possibly is as a realization that something must interrupt the status quo before it is accepted. He said I should take a picture, then sell it to some snob.

I never did that, but I have continued to put that message wherever I've found the colors yellow and blue (which, when you go to Cal, are not hard to find). For example, the other day, I found some yellow and blue scraps of paper, wrote those words on them, and taped them to my supervisors' door. And I've done similar things all over. I guess you could consider it a kind of softcore vandalism; nothing actually gets damaged; people just become confused.

So, anyhoo, that's the story on that. G'night.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Being Social Shouldn't be so Hard...

Yesterday was a rough day. I had to put on a Tuesday Night Social, which, as it sounds, is a social put on every Tuesday Night by two RAs. It's just another program, but for some reason, they always seem to be more difficult and stressful than other programs. I attribute this to the following things:
1. There are always going to be people there. Always. Because it's so consistent, people can always go and expect there to be something. Hence, you want to please them.
2. Even though we as a hall staff are a team, there is still a sort of competitiveness when it comes to Tuesday Night Socials. Probably because we're all doing one, we want to have "the best one" and so we're all trying to one-up each other.

Mine was particularly taxing. My co-worker and I put on a social called "Party On!!!" with kebabs and party games. However, we just had a new move-in, with 300 new residents, and a portion of them will of course come, particularly since this is their first. Secondly, our budget was suddenly cut, so we could no longer get the kebabs we wanted. Instead, we had to make our own "desert kebabs" (fruit, marshmallows, etc.). I can tell you now, that upset quite a few people who were expecting what I wanted to give them: meat!

Now, we only learned of our lower budget after we had gone to several different places looking for kebabs. The owner of one place was a total jackass, and when we politely but firmly refused his $8-a-person price (totally outrageous), he said that his food was to good for us. The other shop owner was very nice, but it took us a while to come to any sort of agreement, mainly because we had a hard time understanding each other. However, we did eventually come to a price of $400. Then I get a phone call and am told our budget is now $150. I wanted to slam my head on a wall.

So then we had to go get food. Unfortunately, my co-worker kept putting it off until he eventually had to go by himself (I was on duty that particular night). What I did, though, was go and buy some party stuff. I went to a store which had paper, party stuff, and...ugh...novelties. The sad thing is, the novelties (from a squirting cigarette to fake vomit) were all familiar, as none of them had changed their packaging since I was a kid. An electronic whoopee cushion even said on the packaging "As seen on the Rosie O'Donnell Show." I guess the novelty industry has been stagnant lately (can't say I'm too sorry for it).

Anyhoo, I ended up buying a little piñata, a limbo set, and some blue and gold bead necklaces to act as "prizes" for games and such. Unfortuantely, the limbo set ended up sitting in the corner of the office, as it was painfully small (literally). Even on the easiest setting, the bar was below my waistline. So that was a no-go. But the piñata was a go-go. I filled the little burro with candy and beads, as I also did with the hollowed-out head of a Hello Kitty piñata that we found in the office.

Then, yesterday, I found out that my coworker hadn't bought marshmallows on his grocery trip. So I had to. And you know what? I was able to walk to and from the Safeway down the street (a 25 minute walk each way) and never once saw a bus going in my direction (there were plenty going the other way, though). So, I was already a bit exhausted when I had to start cutting up the fruits. And a little annoyed, too, because as I was working on getting our program ready, he was complaining about wanting coffee, and then he spent an hour - an hour - trying to make some homebrew coffee. In that time, he made a complete and total mess of the kitchen (like, there was liquid all over the counter and the floor), and when he was done, he poured in some cream that had curdled, and had to throw it away.

I showed him how to peel an orange in Mozambique (that is, you use a knife), but he preferred his messy hands method. Then he went to dinner while I continued doing work (I didn't eat a single meal on Tuesday, for the record), and then we had a meeting at 6:30.

Now, we used to have meetings at 7pm, but they tend to run about 2 hours (a fair deal longer than our 45 minute CKC meetings), and the powers that be wanted to give enough prep time to those holding the social, so they moved the meetings back a half-hour. The result? Meetings now last 2 hours and 30 minutes, mostly spent by people bickering about unimportant details. At 8:30 (when my co-worker and I were to set up everything), we had to schedule duty. I ended up leaving my building mates to make it without me, which in turn led to confusion later. But the social needed setting up and the quickly-oxidizing apples and bananas (ooples and banoonoos?) still needed to be cut. Thank God all my other coworkers helped out.

Yes, set up was hellish, and yes, I was completely worried that things were going to fall apart at every moment. But I relegated people to work at different games, and got everything together, and you know what, it turned out all right. In fact, it turned out pretty good.

I used my favored bat for the piñata, and people seemed to have a lot of fun with it. Then one of my coworkers took a swing and the bat came out of his hands, flying to the side. Everyone thought it was hilarious, except for one of my now-former boss who was attending (the previously mentioned Y'rhhf), who said, "Yeah, that's not okay." Even though I didn't like the movie, I was really reminded of the boss in Office Space. Still, I think the piñata was a brilliant idea, and I would totally do it again.

But after the piñata was done with, I finally knew things were good. Why? Four words:
"Do the Limbo Dance"

This song is one of my all-time guilty pleasures, mostly because of the person who sings it - David Hasselhoff. Yes, the overacting ham of the world, David Hasselhoff. Don't believe me? Here, watch the music video:

However, despite (or due to) the fact that its cheesier than Parcheesi, I can't help but love it. I don't know why, but it always brings my spirits up. And I don't think I'm the only one. Every single person I've shown this song to can't not like it. Then, when I explain that it's the Hoff, they're shocked.

Now, I had a group of near 100 college students from all around the world, possibly jaded, and reared up on hip hop and maybe some J- and Europop. Yet, when I put this song on for our own limbo dance, people...loved it. Seriously, I was putting it on the speakers as a joke, and people loved it. People were actually dancing to it. At that point, I knew that I was king.

(Quick aside: I have this unrealistic plan to hack into the United States sound system and play this song in the middle of the State of the Union address. My hope is that all the Congresspeople would start dancing to it [though, realistically, they'd probably all duck and cover].)

The rest of the social was smooth sailing, and I even got a few compliments for it. Then, at 11pm, it was quiet hours, and we had to clean up. By 11:30, the coworker who I planned with had gone off to bed, but I was still plugging away, cleaning the kitchen and the main office. Then I saw that some unfinished posters for a program I was holding Wednesday night (Board Game Night), and decided to finish those. I ended up working until 2am (though, to be fair, I was dancing to my iPod music (including the Limbo song) during some of that time. That made 13 straight hours of all work and no play (and no food).

But I didn't turn out too dull; just tired and relieved that it was all over. I probably would have had this entry up sooner, but I've been so busy (story of my summer life, eh?) that I had to wait until late at night to write it. So, now if you ever attend a Tuesday Night Social, you'll know the hard work that was put into it.

...Oh, you wanted to know about my cryptic message yesterday? Well, I'll explain it a bit more tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Monday, June 25, 2007

And There's No Time Left for Losin'

Sometimes you make mistakes.

Like, a while back, I was looking at the various venues that were going to be playing at the Greek Amphitheater here in Berkeley (a ten minute walk from where I am). Most of them were either for people who were I've never heard of, or people I had no interest in seeing.

Except for one: the Goo Goo Dolls. When I saw that, I wanted to buy a ticket, but I didn't (I think I was just hesitant, or procrastinating, or something). Eventually I forgot entirely about it.

That concert was this Friday, and I missed it. One of my residents went, though, and I asked him how it was. He said it was great. Not only did the Goo Goo Dolls play, but the opener? Lifehouse. Life-freaking-house. They played for 45 minutes, while the Goo Goo Dolls played for 2 hours.

"Oh. My. God. How the hell did I miss that? That would have been so unbelievably awesome," I said. And apparently it was. During the Goo Goo Doll's arguably most famous song, Black Balloon, they flipped some switch that released hundreds of balloons into the audience.

So, let this be a lesson to you, and especially to me: if there's a concert around where you live, with a band you like, and the tickets are less than $50, don't wait. Buy them immediately. Sometimes spontaneous consumption can be healthy for you. That is one mistake I'm not making again.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Mini-Blogs, Set Six

Dreaming in Disguise
I had an interesting dream a couple nights ago (well, I also had one last night, but I don't remember it). It must be in anticipation for the new Transformers movie coming out, because it had to do with...Transformers.

However, things were a little off. For one thing, the transformers didn't come from another planet. They came through these interdimensional portals. Second, there wasn't actually much transforming going on. They just stood there and talked with each other. The only way that I knew they were Transformers at all was the fact that one was named "Optimus Prime" and the other "Megatron". But going even further, they didn't look like...well, how they should look.

Optimus Prime looked like a giant, fat gorilla (probably a throwback to his Beast Wars variant), and Megatron is...John Hammond...the owner of Jurassic Park. I'm...I'm really not sure where that came from. But he seemed a lot more pleasant than the gorilla, and I wanted him to win (well, if they were actually fighting). Does that make me evil?

What if Ghandi had Played Board Games?
Indian people are crazy. Insane. Maybe its just the Indian people here for the summer. One interesting thing: we have a bunch of royalty living with us. Seriously. A bunch of the Indian kids are the children of, like, nobility and whatnot. They're all super duper rich. Consider this conversation I had with one:
Him: "Hey Andrew, can I ask you a question?"
Me: "That's why I'm here."
Him: "How much would it cost to rent a bus?"
Me: "A...I'm sorry?"
Him: "A bus."
Me: "Like...a full-sized bus?"
Him: "Yeah."
Me: "Well, to be honest, I don't know, but I would say at least $300."
Him: "Oh, that's all?"
Me: "Uh, yeah."
Him: "Okay. Also, we're trying to book a lodge in Tahoe. Who do we talk to for that?"
Me: "Um...when do you need it by?"
Him: "We want to go to Tahoe this Friday."
(It was currently Thursday morning.)
Me: "Tomorrow? I...I don't know if that's even doable. And if it is, it's going to be a lot more expensive. A lot."
Him: "That's fine."
Me: "Uhuhuhuhuh...."

This, by the way, was the same guy who told me on the second day of Summer Sessions that he lost his phone...his phone that cost $800.

Now, this was a bit of a thing during the beginning of the summer, because some of them thought that the RA's were servants. We snapped them out of that quickly, and it's been fine since.

Anyhoo, we were playing this game called Taboo. It's a word guessing game where you have to get people to say a word without using any of an additional five words. (I'm actually pretty good. For example, I had "Chelsea Clinton" and couldn't say "President", "Daughter", or anything like that. So, I said "The offspring of the previous administrator of the United States.") Most of the people that were playing, though, were Indian.

I must say, they're quite...passionate. There was a three-minute shouting argument about the teams, prompting me to say, "Can we just choose numbers?" Then, every minute (literally every minute), there was another argument, whether one person was cheating, or another person said something wrong, or another person was using gestures, or some other mess. It prompted me to exchange glances with one of my residents who came, a la The Office. The game lasted probably about 2.5 times longer than it needed to.

Now, I'm a fairly competitive player, but I don't think I've actually ever shouted at people about stuff like that. If that's the way they like to play, God bless 'em, but I'm going to be a bit more wary when I play with a group of Indians (especially if one is from north India, and the other from the south. Apparently that riles them up even more).

Honesty is the Best Policy
I've been playing this computer game for a little bit called Medieval II: Total War. It's a very intersting game which mixes real-time strategy battle scenes with turn-based campaign menus (which acts similar to a virtual Risk board). You start as some faction in 1080 AD Europe, and then play until...I think 1540 (I'm currently playing as the Spanish). In addition to fighting others, you make alliances (and do other diplomatic stuff), manage cities, take orders from the Pope, try to get one of your priests to be the new Pope, try to have royal family members get married and have babies, etc. While that may not sound like the most exciting concept, it's terribly addicting.

I've noticed something, however. So far in my campaign, I'm one of the most trustworthy nations there is. If I make an alliance, I stay true to that alliance. I am loyal and honest.

However, not everyone is the same way. Not once, not twice, but thrice I've been betrayed by my allies and attacked. My response to this? Swift, brutal, and merciless.

France was my ally. France betrayed me. France was wiped from existence.
Scotland was my ally. Scotland betrayed me. Scotland was wiped from existence.
England was my ally. England betrayed me. England was wiped from existence.

See a pattern here. Every time I've been betrayed, I've responded by obliterating the betrayers. Well, sometimes I've had to call temporary ceasefires, mainly because the Pope is a jerk and won't let me attack my fellow Christians. Of course, the opponent attacked me during these times, getting themselves excommunicated and opening the door to decimation.

...Where was I going with this? Oh, yes. With all this, I've realized one thing: I treat honesty, loyalty, and trust in very high regard. I am always true to my word and will not break my promises. Furthermore, I have no mercy for those who don't feel the same way. After all, the deepest circle of hell is that of the betrayer. While one could argue that this is only relevant in terms of this game, I like to think that shades of it play into real life.

Are They Dying of Thirst or of Poverty?
I found out the most amazing thing today: they don't have free refills anywhere outside the United States, apparently. Not in Europe, not in Asia, not anywhere. Not even in fast food restaurants. This is literally what the conversation went like.
Singaporean Girl: "It's so interesting to not have to pay for drinks a second time."
Me: "What, don't you have free refills in Singapore?"
Singaporean Girl: "No."
Me: "Good...God!"
German Guy: "We don't have them in Germany either."
Finnish Guy: "Or in Finland."
Me: "............"
German Guy: "Yeah, the United States is the only country that has free refills."
Me: "............"
Singaporean Girl: "Andrew?"
Me: "I just.....I just don't believe it. I can't believe it. I won't believe it. Free refills are a God-given right. That's practically the reason why America declared its independence."
Singaporean Girl: "Well, in every other country, you have to pay to refill."
Me: "I take back every nice thing I said about all other countries. That is just sick!"

I still have a hard time believing it. I boggles the mind. I really think there should be some worldwide treaty that says that free refills should be allowed required at all restaurants.

An Administrative Note
I'd like to end with a small note about the immediate future of this blog. Since beginning it, I've worked to maintain a certain...requirement for me posting things. This usually meant that I would not post small items until I collected enough of them to make a mini-blog like this one.

However, I've been surprisingly occupied this summer, and I'm finding it more and more difficult to write what are essentially mini-essays. What's more, many of my "No news today" topics (like those about my history, etc) have been used. Not all, but a good number. Hence, the blog is suffering from a lack of updates.

So, here's the deal. I'm going to, for the immediate future, lower my requirements for posting things. In essence, I'm doing what I refused to do when people told me to do it. I will be posting shorter posts, little thoughts that come to mind, etc. This will likely mean a smaller number of long posts, but a more regularly updated, always-fresh blog. Who knows, I may even post more than once a day. But don't worry; even though I'm making my posting habits more mainstream, it will still have my own unique look at things.

We'll see how this goes, but I think it'll be good. ^_^

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Japanese, Nicknames, and Ping Pong: Three Unrelated Topics That Will be Reconciled in the Last Sentance

If you've ever wondered what my name looks like in Japanese (and run through a cheesy Photoshop filter), today's your lucky day!


"Now, see here!" you're saying, "What's this second batch of foreign characters that you've put up with no explanation?"

Well, the first half (everything before the novelty "Greater than or equal to" sign) is the Japanese way of writing "Schnorr". The second half...well, let me go on a short aside.

Having the name Schnorr comes with a few...downsides. First off, it literally translates into something akin to a conniver, a wheedler, someone who takes without giving back. Basically, a less than pleasant person. (When all of my German residents found out my name, they thought it was pretty funny.) This, I can take in stride, because my name was mentioned in this context on The Simpsons (by Krusty the Clown during a soccer game) and on Little House on the Prairie (by some Rabbi telling a girl to plant a tree so that you'll "never be a Schnorr"). So, that's notoriety. Also, I like to tell people that one of my ancestors was a Bavarian prince of thieves, which is where the name comes from (and I haven't gotten any evidence to the contrary, so I'm going to assume its true).

However, there is a question that has haunted me all my life, as well as my father's (he told me as much), and I'm assuming his father before him:
"Do you Schnorr at night?"
Good. God. You have no idea how many times I've been asked this, especially when I was younger. Hell, even Santa asked me that when I sat on his knee! But no, it didn't end after I graduated from elementary school. No, there were people who asked me that in high school, and even a couple in college. Not even a variation, either, just "Do you Schnorr at night?" I just want to respond by saying, in a bitterly sarcastic tone, "Wow, I'm impressed. That's just so original. I've never heard that once in my 20 years on this earth. Congratulations, sir, your wit is an inspiration to us all." (I'm usually nicer than that in real life.)

Now, in more recent times, I've gotten an honest-to-goodness nickname based upon my last name and it's resemblance to the word "snore." And that came from one of my SoCal Magic: The Gathering buddies (who unfortunately quit). A few years back, I saw him at a tournament, and went up to me, and when he saw me, he said in a deep voice "Schnorrlaaaaax!"

You see there's this animal...a Pokémon, really, called Snorlax. Here's a picture.
Yeah, it's a fat...thing. That eats and sleeps a lot. And is really fat.

Luckily, the resemblance is in name only. So, anyway, I was given the nickname "Schnorrlax". But it kind of died down after a while. Then I started hall staff and I mentioned it. It caught on, and it's all a few people call me. I don't mind it at all. In fact, I was interested in seeing what my nickname looked like in Japanese. And thus, that's what the second batch of Japanese characters at the top is.

Now, I know what the second question on your mind is: "Andrew, where'd you get Japanese writing?"

Well, tonight was "Japan Night," one of our Tuesday Night Socials. As it was Japan Night, there were a bunch of stereotypical Japanese activities, such as sushi eating, origami, and chopstick races (transferring a bunch of marbles from one bowl to another). I don't eat sushi, and I wasn't too interested in origami, so I tried the chopstick races. I actually did pretty decent (and I think I had more class in my maneuvering than anyone else).

But, overall, the main attraction was a single girl. Her name is Mariko, she's Japanese, and at least half of the men in the dorms have a crush on her. Seriously. They're not even shy about it. When I was telling some of my Finnish residents about it, they said, "Is, uh, thawt Japan girl goeeng to be thare? Maybe wee'll go." Thing is, she seems completely, 100% oblivious to it. But I suppose that's part of her charm.

Anyway, she was writing people's names in Japanese as part of the activities, and I think she did a pretty good job (though, to be honest, I can't real a word of kanji, so she could be serving me total BS and I'd be none the wiser).

I actually spent most of my time at the social playing ping pong. In fact, I played for 80 minutes straight; no hyperbole there. And I haven't played ping pong in years. How did I do? Somehow, I was on fire!

I partially attribute this to my latent abilities, and partially to the fact that I've very recently found myself a new...I dunno what you'd call it, "Pump-you-up Song"? It's called "Atlus", and it's by some relatively no-name band called Battles, but it's completely insane (that is, it makes you feel like you belong in a madhouse or something). Here, take a listen. I think it matches well to my brain style.

Anyhoo, I had this song playing through my head again and again, and I think it was pumping me up. I took the ping pong paddle, and it was like ballet. I was dancing to and fro, spinning around, and striking poses as I was hitting the ball. And every time, I hit near the edge. Every time.

Co-Worker: "Wow, Andrew, since when have you been a master at ping pong?"
Me: "I'm not. I...I don't know what's come over me."

80 minutes I played. Nothing actually competitive; the only rule was "The ball is always live." Still, I was playing like I knew what I was doing, and I made it look like an artform. I was working up quite a sweat, too; that's what running around a room trying to hit that pop-fly will do to you (I did end up hitting that pop-fly, and even from a distance of at least 20 feet, I was able to make a corner shot...that was awesome).

As I got more and more tired, my game started degrading, but I still think I did pretty well for myself overall. Maybe I should just drop college altogether, begin anew under my true calling. If I ever end up playing ping pong against a Japanese guy, I could even show him how to write out my nickname.

Monday, June 18, 2007


I held the front door open for a girl today. Then when I was on the elevator with her, I thought she was flirting with me.

...Maybe I'm just confusing gratitude with flirtations. >_>

........And that is totally going to be the base of another skit. >_<

I Should Be on "Dawson's Creek"...or Something...

I think one of my coworkers has a crush on me.

And no, I'm neither lying nor hallucinating.

It all started...last Tuesday, I think. We were going to the various floors to try to get residents to come to the Tuesday Night Social. So, I start by going up to my seventh floor, where I saw this coworker (let's call he Xantcha) talking to one of my residents, telling him to come to the social.

Me: "Hey, Xantcha."
Xantcha: "Hey Andrew."
Me: "You're telling people about the social?"
Xantcha: "Yeah."
Me: (Joking) "Heh, you're putting me out of a job."
Xantcha: (Not realizing I was joking) "Oh my God, I'm sorry. Did you want to talk to them instead."
Me: "No, it's fine; I just thought it was funny that you were up here doing it."
Xantcha: "Well, I just figured since I don't have any residents left, that I should be doing something. I didn't want to intrude on you or anything."
Me: "No, seriously, it's fine."
Xantcha: "Oh, okay....Andrew, can I ask you a question?"
Me: "Only if you're willing to get an answer in return."
Xantcha: "Am I a bad RA?"
Me: "I'm sorry?"
Xantcha: "I don't know, I just feel like I don't do enough, and the RD's probably don't like me, and I'm just a bad RA."
Me: (Counselor persona) "Hey, listen to are not a bad RA."
Xantcha: "You think so?"
Me: "Would a bad RA be up here?"
Xantcha: "It's just, I don't have any residents, so what do I do?"
Me: "Look, it's better to be an RA with no residents who actually does stuff than one with residents who ignores them all."
Xantcha: "Yeah, I really didn't mean to intrude on your floors."
Me: "No, really, I don't care about that. I was joking. But seriously..." (As she's getting onto the elevator) "You're a great person, and you're going to be a great RA."
Xantcha: "...Thanks, Andrew, that means a lot to me."

And that was that. Me being a counselor-type figure to someone who needed some encouragement. I didn't give a second thought to it.

Then, at the social, I was behind one of the tables, watching people take food (technically, I was serving, but I figured people were smart enough to take fruit out of a fruit platter). All of a sudden, I feel a little "hip bump." Not a major one, mind you, but just the little brushing of someone else's hip against the side of my own. My eyebrow raised a little as I turned my head and saw Xantcha there.

Xantcha: "Hey!"
Me: "Hey."
Xantcha: "Whatcha doing?"
Me: "Doing what I do best; watching food disappear."
Xantcha: "Heh. Hey, listen." (She leans to my ear and whispers.) "I really want to thank you for what you said earlier."
Me: "Aw, don't sweat it." (I begin to feel sweat form on my brow.)
Xantcha: "No, but really, it meant a lot to me."
Me: (Using my summer catchphrase) "It's what I do."
Xantcha: "Kay. I'll catch you later."

So, that was a little closer than I was used to, but at least it was over for that night.

...Or was it?

Me: "Huh, someone's knocking at my door. I should go open it to find out who's there....Oh, Xantcha, hi."
Xantcha: "Hey, Andrew. Hey, um...did you tell Y'rhhf (a fake name for our boss that I just made up) about what I told you?"
Me: "No. Why?"
Xantcha: "Oh, because she was just telling me that I was doing a good job and that I didn't have to worry about it. And I was thinking to myself, 'No, Andrew wouldn't tell her.'"
Me: "No, I wouldn't. That woman took my fridge from me (more on this tomorrow), so I'm not really keen on letting her in on everything."
Xantcha: "Oh, good. Well, that's why I was up here."
Me: "Mm-kay."
Xantcha: "Other than talking to you, of course."
Me: "Ah."
Xantcha: "I'm not bothering you, am I? I'm not interrupting anything?"
Me: "No, not at all. You can come in if you want."
Xantcha: "No, I have some things to do."
Me: "Oh, okay."
Xantcha: "But Andrew..."
Me: "Yeah?"
Xantcha: "I really want to thank you. What you said meant so much to me."
Me: "Seriously, no problem."
Xantcha: "Goodnight!"
Me: "Goodnight."

And since then, she's been a bit friendlier to me (like, friendlier). Oh, and she likes when I use classy words (she says it sounds very "Shakespearean"). I was beginning to get a little suspicious, so I check on Facebook for information.

Networks........Berkeley '10
Interested In...........Men
Relationship Status........................Single


Here's the conundrum: unless I'm completely misreading all her signals (still a valid option), she totally has a thing for me. However, I honestly don't have any real romantic interest in her; nothing more than a friendship. So, how far could anything possibly go? At the same time, one could argue that I'm no spring chicken, and should just take what I can get, and jump on this iron while it's still hot (painful as that metaphor may sound). After all, what was it I was just mentioning about this sort of thing?

...Blah, there should be a universal law that says all attraction should be mutual. Then we wouldn't be in these messes. Or, at least, I wouldn't.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Sometimes Ideas Come From the Oddest Places

Kris enters.


THE_BOLSHEVIK: "How were you able to get in, Kris? The door was locked."

Kris: "Not in any serious way. Hey, what's this?"

THE_BOLSHEVIK: "That? That's my Blue Star Achievement Award. I got it from eBay for having gotten my 50th unique positive review."

Kris: "Blue Star, huh? You do know that's the name of an ointment, right? For, like, ringworm and...psoriasis."

THE_BOLSHEVIK: "...Why do you do this to me?"

Kris: "What do you mean?"

THE_BOLSHEVIK: "What do I mean? Kris! This...this is, like, the defining moment in my life. There have been 50 people who believe I am good at online auctioneering, and now I have proof. Today, I received an award, and this isn't one of those 'Everyone-Gets-a-Trophy' days. Today is 'THE_BOLSHEVIK-Gets-a-Trophy' day. I alone am honored, and you're trying to spit it back in my face!"

Kris: "Isn't the whole rating system on eBay basically a quid pro quo system, in which you'll only give a good rating if your associate does?"

THE_BOLSHEVIK: "No! At least...not for me! I earned my award and all the Caps-Locked positive reviews I got!"

Kris: "Fine, but what about the power sellers?"


Kris: "You know, the guys with, like, fifteen thousand positive reviews."

THE_BOLSHEVIK: "...What about them?"

Kris: "They get, like, 50 reviews in an evening."

THE_BOLSHEVIK: "Well, they aren't me, so it doesn't matter. All that matters is that I have my Blue Star Achievement Award!"

Kris: "By the way, why the hell is that pinned up?"

THE_BOLSHEVIK: "I was told to."

Kris: "By who?"

THE_BOLSHEVIK: "By eBay. They sent me an email with the award as a PDF, and they told me to print it out and proudly display it on my wall. So that's what I'm doing."

Kris: "If eBay told you to hang yourself, would you?"

THE_BOLSHEVIK: "That's an unfair question. The President and CEO of eBay, Inc., would never tell me to do that."

Kris: "Hmm...Meg Whitman. That sounds like a female name."

THE_BOLSHEVIK: "A female? The president of an Internet company. I find that fairly unlikely. In fact, I'll go so far as to say it's highly unlikely."

Kris: "Well, how many dudes do you know with the name 'Meg'?"


Kris: "..."


Kris: "..."

THE_BOLSHEVIK: "...Oh, wait; one of them's a female."

Kris: "Okay, so you know one dude named Meg, and I'm pretty sure you're lying about that."

THE_BOLSHEVIK: "Why would I lie? I don't lie."

Kris: "You can't stop lying. Remember when you called the Feds last summer and told them I was smuggling cocaine from Nicaragua?"

THE_BOLSHEVIK: "I thought you were!"

Kris: "And you thought that why?"

THE_BOLSHEVIK: "You seemed pretty scummy. Plus, you had that nice watch. Where the hell did you get the money to pay for that watch?"

Kris: "You gave me that watch for my birthday!"


Kris: "Yes."

THE_BOLSHEVIK: "Where did I get the money for that watch?"

Kris: "Have you been smuggling cocaine?"

THE_BOLSHEVIK: "I don't...think...I hope not."

Kris: "'Cause right now, I'm about to call the Feds."

THE_BOLSHEVIK: "No, Kris, don't."

Kris: "I'm taking out my phone. Where'd you get the watch?"

THE_BOLSHEVIK: "Kris, no, I don't know."

Kris: "My finger's on the button. Now tell me where you got the watch."

THE_BOLSHEVIK: "Please, Kris, you gotta believe me."

Kris: "I'd love to believe you, THE_BOLSHEVIK. But right now, revenge is on the line, and I hear she's a real bitch."

THE_BOLSHEVIK: "...That's it."

Kris: "What's it?"

THE_BOLSHEVIK: "That's where I got it. I got the watch from someone named sexybitch82...on eBay."

Kris: "Ah, and so we come full circle."

THE_BOLSHEVIK: "...she gave me positive feedback..."

Kris: "I'll be seeing you, THE_BOLSHEVIK."

Kris leaves.

THE_BOLSHEVIK: "............Wait a minute. Where'd my pencil sharpener go? ...Goddammit, Kris!"

End scene.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Options, Options...

The local EB Games had a 25%-50% sale for some of their computer games. I was able to make a steal and get a game that they mis-marked as 50% off (when it was supposed to only 25% off). It's a real-time strategy game (essentially, one where you control an army) where you're a medieval king (my kinda premise).

I also have other games for my Nintendo DS and Wii, including classic games that I've never played.

I have over a dozen potential books to read, from novels to trivia books and everything in between.

I am still involved in an Alternate Reality Game, though they have yet to put count my pictures yet for the scavenger hunt (mainly due to technical difficulties). There are currently a few puzzles to solve.

I have board games that can be played alone or in groups. Those I don't have, I could easily borrow from the main office.

I have a pack of cards.

And I could always be doing something creative, like writing or drawing. did I spend the night?

By watching Bob Ross paint a southwest desert scene.

And you know what? It was simultaneously soothing and awesome!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Word on Bad Advertising...

Today, we're going to be talking about advertisements. More specifically, we're going to be watching some advertisements. Even more specifically, we'll be watching some ads from those old jokers at the Sony corporation. Specifying even further, we'll be watching commercials for a $600 video game system. The Sony Playstation 3 has been well-known for it's off-kilter commercials. Personally (and I thought I'd never say this about anything related to Sony), I love them.

...That's not a good sign.

In case you've forgotten (or never saw) the American commercials, here they are, beginning with the most (in)famous, the "PS3 Baby" Commercial:

Yes, according to this commercial, the Playstation 3 levitates and possesses baby dolls. I may have actually paid $600 for something that did that. Apparently, though, that commercial really backfired for Sony (I can't imagine why), and now there is apparently a joke in their marketing department that if someone screws up, the "PS3 Baby" will haunt them in their dreams.

Not being satisfied with one crazy commercial, Sony then released a second. far the PS3 possesses dolls and summons crows from chicken eggs. These weren't really helping Sony's "evil" image, wouldn't you say.

One of the most common complaints about the American PS3 commercials is that they didn't really say much about the product itself. The third commercial was meant to fix that.

Get it? It's a "smarter processor," so it can solve Rubik's cubes...with its mind!!! This was not the most widely-known commercial (the baby earns that honor), but it is considered the most effective of the American commercials. I think my favorite response to this commercial was to the effect of "I hope stores don't stock the PS3 by the Rubik's cubes. It'll be like a warzone."

Now, you may think that the American commercials may be bad (in that they say very little about the console itself, but it is ironically the most informative of the major campaigns. For example, look at this Japanese commercial:

(The PS3, incidentally, was released in Japan on November 11th, or 11/11.) Now, when I look at a fork, I see a fork. When I'm a character in a commercial and I look at a fork, I still see a fork. Not this lady. When she looks at a fork, she sees a release date. Same with their other commercials. Example? A kid sees four tall, vertical smokestacks, except he doesn't. He sees a release date too.

(I will admit, I always laugh at the end, when it just sounds like the announcer is say "Jujujujujuji.")

Now, this is bad, but it's still remotely related to the product. That's more than the European commercials can say. No, those commercials (dubbed the "This is Living" campaign) don't even mention the PS3, Sony, or anything related to anything! They're...they', watch this one:

Okay...okay. So, we have a guy in a bathtub talking about how we're all wasting our lives (ironic for a video game commercial). He then tells us he's going to buy some chocolate, points a gun at us, and laughs. I...I may be alone in my analysis, but that just makes my brow furrow. What? I mean...what?

Now, another thing. That commercial is over 2 minutes long. Apparently, long commercials are the thing to do in Europe. How do I know? Here's another one! This is the full, uncut quintessential "This is Living" commercial. It gives a little background on Mr. Tub there, as well as a bunch of other residents of this hotel.

Be warned, this commercial is not for the faint of heart; it contains full rear nudity and nippleless breasts, a guy sticking his hand down his briefs, apparent drug use (they can apparently get away with a lot on European TV) and a whole lot of "What the hell?!" moments.

I find it fun, once every minute, to remind myself that this is a Sony ad for a video game console. Try doing that. Whenever you do, you'll probably just shake your head in disbelief.

See? The only time you know it's a PS3 ad is for a full six seconds at the end. I...I really don't know how to describe the absurdity of this. If they sent this in as some short film to Cannes, maybe they'd get an honorable mention, but this is an advertisement. An advertisement! You're supposed to convince people to buy a product, and all I'm seeing is that drugs and exploding suitcases filled with money is the definition of "living" to some Caribbean hotel owner.

In my business class, we learned that there are three different things you want to do in advertising:
1. Inform
2. Persuade
3. Remind

Let's look at how these commercials fare in those criteria:
1. Inform - No. If you can find any real information about the product in anything you've seen so far, please, tell me. I know a lot about all the current systems, and I can tell you that I learned nothing of the PS3 from those ads.
2. Persuade - Well, do you want to buy a PS3 right now? Well, I for one am not, especially after what that military dude said about wasting your life. (If the American commercials showed true-to-life abilities of the console, I might have reconsidered this point.)
3. Remind - This is probably what these commercials do best. "Hey, we're Sony. Remember that." They assume that everyone already knows who they are and what they're product is/does, so they are simply putting up ads to remind you that they're there.

So yeah, one out of three. That usually doesn't pass muster in a marketing view.

Now, for kicks, let's look at the first Nintendo Wii commercial that was made for American TV:

Okay, let's look at the three points again:
1. Inform - The commercials show a pretty good demonstration (albeit grossly exaggerated) of what the play-style is like, as well as what some of the games look like.
2. Persuade - Well, in the commercial, the people playing the games are smiling, or at least appear to be enjoying themselves.
3. Remind - The thing about the Nintendo Wii is this: it'll never, ever let you forget that you're playing the Nintendo Wii. In their games, menu, and menu loading screens, you'll see the word "Wii" everywhere. Similar is true for their commercials. With that little music at the beginning, those two cute-but-creepy Japanese dudes, and instance of the word "Wii", you'll never forget that this is a Nintendo commercial the next time you see it.

Right now, the Wii is outselling the PS3 worldwide by a factor of more than 2:1. Now, there are of course other factors involved (price, game exclusivity, etc.), but I can't help but think that advertising played some role in the whole thing.

So remember, unless you're advertising on the Superbowl (in which case product irrelevance is generally well-accepted), don't follow Sony's example.

...And don't put possessed baby dolls in them. That's just creepy.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Just to Set the Record Straight

Here. It's not nearly perfect, but it's all the class with none of the apparent gluttony:

(This really reminds me of these two pictures...)

I'll do that whole video thing later. I just wanted to get this cleared up.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Mini-Blogs, Set Five

Picture This!
A few days ago, one of my residents took a picture of me when I was in the dining common. I didn't think much of it (even though I did, as always, pose). However, just yesterday, he printed out a copy and gave it to me. How nice! And I really like how the picture turned out. Take a look:

There are a couple things I noticed about this:
1. This is my first picture in my new jacket! You may have remembered me talking about this when I was showing off my new hat. In any event, it's a nice leather jacket that cost me a sum total of $20 (including shipping). Great price, and I think it looks pretty good on me.
2. It may be the color quality, or the jacket I'm wearing, but something about this picture makes it look like its being taken in 1988.
3. I look like a total glutton with that boatload of food. However, consider the fact that I hadn't eaten that day (I've only been eating one full meal a day recently), and consider the fact that with the exception of that (nasty) meatball sandwich, it's all fruit, egg whites, and a corn cob (without butter). It's pretty healthy, but none of you know that.

Speaking of Meatballs...
Have you ever realized how unappetizing meatballs sound when you describe what they are (in other words, reverse word order).
Kris: "Hey, THE_BOLSHEVIK, what are you having for dinner?"
THE_BOLSHEVIK: "I think I'm going to have some balls of meat."
Kris: "What?"
THE_BOLSHEVIK: "Yeah, I'm going to take some meat and roll it up into balls before I eat it."
Kris: "You disgust me."

Rainy Day Music
There are some albums I call "Rainy Day Albums". These are albums that you listen to when you're alone in a house and can't really go anywhere, usually because of rain. So, all you do is sit back in a chair and listen to the music with the background noise of the falling rain. Maybe you read a book, or maybe you watch the shower falling. It's up to you. I find most of these albums are light and soft, most often acoustic.

When I was in Africa, my rainy day album was Ben Harper's Welcome to the Cruel World. Kind of a downbeat title, but it was also pretty appropriate at the time. You see, it was actually a bright, sunshiney day that day. That's actually the reason I was stuck inside; I had become severly dehydrated, almost to the point of fainting. So, I had to stay inside and regain my strength. At the time, I didn't care for the experience, and so being welcomed to the "cruel world" seemed to speak to me. Ironically, the only reason I began listening was because it was the only CD in the player. But still, being stuck inside a grass house, sucking down some nasty re-hydration medicine and being unable to move, listening to the album (in particular the song "Waiting on an Angel" really put things in perspective.

Now, I think I've found my new rainy day album. I'm not sure if you're familiar with the band Vertical Horizon (you may have heard their songs "Everything You Want" or "You're a God"), but I think they're a very good band; easy to listen to, no negative lyrics - the kind of band you're not afraid of Gramma catching you listening to. Anyhoo, I've had all their albums for a while, but I hadn't really given them much of a listen until I heard more of their stuff on Pandora radio (which I've talked about before). So, I listened to this one album, called There and Back Again.

And let me just say: it's almost the perfect rainy day album. It's all accoustic (different from their other albums), and it's really easy going. What's more, the two members of the band (it was made way back in 1992, when there were only two members) do everything themselves, including all the singing. There's a really nice dichotomy between their two voices and singing styles. I won't put up the whole album (that would be illegal), but here are a couple songs showing the two different singers. The first is called "On the Sea" and the second is called "Liberty". But really, the whole album is excellent; I highly recommend it with both thumbs!

Okay, a Few More Pictures
A while back, my St. Anthony Class of 2005 video was put on the Internet. Being the egotistical bastard I am, I captured all the pictures of me that had me in them. Here they are (all eight of them; lousy yearbook staff). The funny thing is that most of the pictures were taken on a single day. However, I'm sure the people who don't know that figure I just always wear a suit and tie.

This is the perfect of an end-of-year yearbook/movie picture: "Most of you didn't hang out together, but you do know each other, right? Okay, good, you can all take a picture together!"

You know something? I have a pretty well-defined hairline. You're never going to not know where my forehead ends and hair begins. (By the way, I think I'm channeling the smile of a car salesman here.)

Ah, poor little Yomar. Whenever I could wrap my hand/arm around his neck, I did.

I...I think this was for the "Senior Cars" section of the yearbook. *Sigh* I miss my truck...

Now, I'm not one to boast, but DAMN! do I look sexy.

For some reason, I can't help but think that my relationship with Christine Hosana is perfectly summed up in this picture.

...Oh, by the way: what she said in the video about us? Not true.



Ah, there's nothing like standing by the Fink and a girl bending over to the Fink's height to make you feel like a giant.

No, I wasn't asleep. As are most of my pictures, this was posed (and was taken during Calculus class [look at little Michelle Elma in the background!]).

And that's all for now. Join me tomorrow, when you'll receive a boatload of videos!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

A Flood of Oddities...

I had a strange and relatively epic dream last night. I normally don't write down my dreams, but as I awoke, I knew for a fact that I would forget it, so I quickly wrote down as many snippets as I could. I still don't remember that much about it, but I'm going to piece it together for you as best I can.

-First of all, it takes place in either the 1920s or 1930s. I know because everything had an old-timey feel to it. The cars, the people, the music. It was all from around that time period. However, I was not from that time; I must have time-traveled there (you'll see how I arrived at that conclusion in a moment).

-The dream spanned a wide variety of areas. I was in a large metropolitan city, then a rather wealthy suburban-like area, then a more rural suburban area, then a large bunch of fields.

-At some point in my dream, I was told that "All things occur in pairs." And so it was. Most things happened twice, or there were two of some particular item.

-I, along with all the people I was with, was trying to solve some big mystery. I know of several of the smaller mysteries, but the underlying one still eludes me.

-It flooded. A lot. These were very short but potent floods. Like, the water level would raise about 10 to 20 feet in a matter of minutes, but then recede as quickly. What's more, an old man I was with near the end of the dream told me that the water was toxic (more on this later).

-At the beginning of the dream, I with a group of well dressed African American folk. For some reason, I have my Nintendo DS with me (that's how I knew I was still from the future [the present?]). A random man walks by and tells me, "Wow, that's the most amazing device I've ever seen! I'll pay you eight and a half million dollars for it!" I personally thought it was a great offer, seeing as it was in 1920s dollars. The other part of me, though, was worried that giving him the DS would upset the course of history. One of the guys with me said, "We don't need to do that. I have $50 million in the bank." So that settled that.

-During one of the scenes in the metropolitan city, I was with Carlos (my old suite mate/co-worker/friend), and we had to make a gettaway in an old-timey car (with someone in the backseat whose face is a blur). We had to drive through these long, narrow alleys. The problem was that the alleys kept getting narrower at every turn (impossible turns, by the way, thanks to right angles). Not only was the car able to make these turns, it was always able to fit, as it kept getting narrower and narrower. In fact, the car got so narrow that I had to hop out and run backwards in front of the car. (By the way, I forget who we're running from.)

-I went into a bar (in one of the more rural areas), but I didn't drink anything. While I was there, it flooded. I don't remember much else about that particular encounter.

-In one of the rich suburban areas, I went to a fancy house with a small maze etched into the stone ground in front of their gate. I saw a mouse run along the maze, passing by four screws along the path (screwed into the ground). I followed the path as well (though I'm not sure I needed to) and unscrewed the screws a little. Doing so opened the gate to the house. However, I didn't go in; I just left.

-I then went to a large department store which sold, to the best of my memory, nothing but greeting cards and cloth. I was there because it was my job to pick a name (a middle name, I think) to either my newborn nephew or my newborn brother. The reason I was at the store was that the cloth was embroidered with names, and the cards were personalized. ("To you, young Julius, I give my heart and pride..." etc.) Basically, the item I bought determined what the name of the newborn would be. I ended up not buying anything, primarily because it flooded in there, and I had to leave.

-I then went into another bar (remember the "pairs" thing?). This time, I remember that the barkeep was really spiteful toward me for some reason. Were it not for the old man with me, I probably would have been kicked out. The old man was making small talk with the barkeep when I noticed the water level starting to rise. It was at that point that the old man had told me that the water was toxic. I knew I had to get out of it, so I swam out of the bar to a house across the way. I hopped onto one of the wooden columns and climbed up until I got to the roof. When I did, the house collapsed and the roof was floating on the water until it receded.

-I then walked back over to where the bar was. It was gone. In its place was an open field, separated from me by a chain-link fence. In that field, however, there are corpses, piles of them. I was horrified. Then someone came up to me and said that at least that flood was artificially created by the governement, and that all of those corpses were transients, killed by the toxicity of the water. I knew, however, that my friend the old man had also been killed by the waters.

-I then went to another house with a small maze etched into the ground (pairs, remember). This time, I saw both a mouse and a dog walking along the paths. The screws were all in the same place, but there were also apple cores by them. As I got to the first screw and tried unscrewing it, a young woman asked me what I was doing. I quickly panicked and tried screwing the screw back in. I then stood up and saw that an old woman was looking at me. She, too, asked what I was doing. I told her the truth, that I was trying to open the gate. She told me that I should have just rang the doorbell.

-At that moment, I woke up.

Now, the thing is, that was only half my dream. I know there was more. Like, I know there was a scene inside a large wooden house, but I have no clue what happened in there. I know it's there, but my memory is like looking through distorting glass.

Still, it was pretty crazy, and pretty epic. I personally hope that I'll be able to finish it. I really want to find out why the government would unleash the floods, along with the other puzzles.

Anyone want to take a shot at interpretation?

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

In the Past Twenty Years...

An Abridged Version
By Andrew Schnorr

-The following men have been President of the United States of America:
Ronald Reagan
George H.W. Bush
Bill Clinton
George W. Bush

-George H.W. Bush presided over a successful offensive against Iraq during the first Gulf War, driving Iraqi soldiers out of the neighboring nation of Kuwait.

-Bill Clinton was the second president in US History to be impeached for a scandal involving secretary Monica Lewinsky. He was acquitted, and many commented that it was just a partisan scam.

-During the Clinton Administration, the United States Experienced it's first Budget Surplus since 1969. Since the arrival of the second Bush Administration, the deficit has increased substantially.

-Additionally, the United States National Debt has increased from $2 trillion (which it took 196 year to accumulate) to $9 trillion (that's an additional $7 trillion in 20 years).

-The Berlin Wall fell, the Soviet Union fell, and Communism as a primary opponent of the US fell, putting an end to the Cold War which had lasted for 44 years.

-"Terrorism" has become the new "Communism."

-The World Trade Center in New York City was hit by two airplanes on September 11th, 2001. Additionally, a plane hit the US Pentagon, and another crashed in a field. This was the single most devastating terrorist attack on United States soil, and prompted George W. Bush to engage in the ongoing "War on Terrorism".

-Two wars have sprung from the War on Terror; one against Afghanistan and one against Iraq, both of which were suspecting of aiding terrorist group Al-Queda and their leader, Osama bin Laden. In both cases, the previous, totalitarian regimes (the Taliban in Afghanistan, and Saddam Hussein in Iraq) were disposed and killed or executed for war crimes. American-appointed governments were set up in both nations. Violent military conflicts continue in both areas.

-Osama bin Laden is still considered at large.

-The Space Shuttle Columbia exploded upon reentry into the atmosphere, due to a small piece of foam damaging one of the wings. This was most devastating space disaster since the Challenger disaster, and causes people to value the worth of the Space Program.

-On December 26, 2004, a lethal tsunami hit the Indian Ocean, killing over 300,000 people, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history.

-The intensity of hurricanes in the Altlantic Ocean has increased, resulting in costlier and deadlier hurricanes, beginning (most prominently) with Hurricane Andrew. The deadliest and costliest of these hurricanes was Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which caused $81 billion in damages and killed over 1,800 people.

-The use of Chlorofluorocarbons, which had shown to create holes in the ozone layer, was internationally banned and phased out. The depredation of the ozone layer has since decreased substantially. This is considered one of the greatest achievements in universal cooperation.

-Global warming has come to the forefront of environmental attention, particularly due to the work of former US Vice President Al Gore. Hotly debated in the past, most credible scientists now accept the existence of global warming, which threatens to melt the polar ice caps and flood a portion of the world (in addition to have severe effects on the weather). What has not been established, though, is how the problem should be dealt with.

-China has become a international superpower, and has become almost fully capitalist (while still claiming to be a communist nation).

-Pope John Paul II, in power for 26 years, dies after years of suffering Parkinson's Disease. His successor, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, is chosen, and takes the name "Pope Benedict XVI".

-The world population hit 5 billion on July 11, 1987. It has since increased to 6.6 billion.

-The Internet has completely changed the face of the earth (not literally). What began as a place for MIT students to discuss whether Captain Kirk or Captain Picard is better (which is foolish, because nobody can match Picard) grew in the early 90s at a rate of over 100% a year. Currently, over a sixth of the worldwide population uses the Internet. There are more web pages in existence than the number of people who have ever lived. It has completely changed the structure of shopping, dating, communicating, school, crime, and leisure. For better or for worse, we may only know in time.

-Computers have become a common sight in every household. Of course, when they began, their specs (and price) were as follows:
They've since become much more powerful, and much cheaper.

-Computer graphics have changed the ways that movies are made. Stunt doubles are being replaced by Computer Graphic Images (CGI). Traditional cartooning has also been replaced with CGI cartoons, popularized by Pixar studios. My childhood dies a little.

-Disney Released the following (traditional), cartoons, ushering in what was known as the "Second Disney Golden Age":
The Little Mermaid
The Rescuers Down Under
Beauty and the Beast
The Nightmare Before Christmas
The Lion King
The Hunchback of Notre Dame

-Animation in general has a renaissance in the early 90s, with such television hits as:
Darkwing Duck
Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers
Tiny Toons Adventures
Pinky & the Brain
Batman: The Animated Series
X-Men: The Animated Series

-Once computers started getting used to a greater extent, cartoons started sucking.

-An American Tale: Fivel Goes West is released. It seems to be the only one people remember.

-Trilogies become really, really popular:
The Lord of the Rings
The Matrix
Pirates of the Caribbean
Meet the Parents
The Mighty Ducks
Mission: Impossible
Ocean's Eleven
And a bunch of others...

-The television show The Simpsons, having gained notoriety on The Tracy Ulman Show since 1987, was released for broadcast television in 1989. It has continued since, becoming the longest-running American sitcom in TV history.

-There have been two major recessions, once in the early 90s and again in the early 2000s. This second recession is known as the "Dot-Com" burst, as it was primarily due to the rapid purchase and subsequent devaluation of stock in Internet companies.

-Bill Nye the Science Guy makes kids love science.

-Magic: The Gathering, the original trading card game, is released in 1993, and is currently still the most widely-played TCG, with over 6 million active players worldwide and over 9000 unique cards. The most valuable card, Black Lotus, is currently worth$1,340.

-We endured through the following fads:
Slap Bracelets
The Noid
(Which I still consider the greatest fad we've ever had)
Power Rangers
Magic Eye Puzzles
Where's Waldo?
Tickle Me Elmo
Mentos, the Freshmaker
Creepy Crawlers/Easy Bake Oven
Steve Urkel
The Hamster Dance
Y2K Whining
Yu-Gi-Oh! and Pokemon Cards
And last but not least...the Macarena.

-The following movies won the Oscar for "Best Picture of the Year" (one of which happens to be my favorite movie ever):
The Last Emperor
Rain Man
Driving Miss Daisy
Dances With Wolves
The Silence of the Lambs
Schindler's List
Forrest Gump
The English Patient
Shakespeare in Love
American Beauty
A Beautiful Mind
The Lord of the Rings: the Return of the King
Million Dollar Baby
The Departed

-Following the immense success of the Nintendo Entertainment System, video games had a surge in popularity, and have become one of the fastest growing (and most lucrative) entertainment mediums. The following gaming systems (both consoles and handheld) have been released. Some have been...more popular than others:
Mega Drive/Genesis
Neo Geo
Philips CD-i
Amiga CD32
Nintendo 64
PlayStation 2
Xbox 360
PlayStation 3
Game & Watch
Game Boy (Pocket | Light)
Game Boy Color
Game Boy Advance (SP | Micro)
Nintendo DS (Lite)
WonderSwan Color
XGP Mini
XGP Kids
Neo Geo Pocket
Neo Geo Pocket Color
Game Gear
Mega Jet
PlayStation Portable
Atari Lynx
Watara Supervision
Mega Duck
Pepper Pad
iRiver G10
OQO Model 2

-Countless people have died.

-Countless more have been born.

...All that, and I still haven't been able to get a girlfriend.

Well, here's to twenty years; through the good, through the bad, and through everything in between. And here's to the next twenty...let's see where we go. ^_^

Friday, June 1, 2007

Are There Any Witty Quotes on Scavenging???

Hey hey, there! I apologize somewhat for the cryptic content of my last post. Maybe I'll get to it more later, but for now, I think I'd like to talk about something else.

I won't bore you too much with the backstory (you probably wouldn't understand it anyway), but I'm currently participating in an Alternate Reality Game, or ARG. It just began this week, but it looks as though it should be fun. In it, there are going to be tasks that I have to complete. The first task was called the "Gleemax Pixel Project" ("Gleemax" is the name of an evil, sentient brain that's trying to take over the world). Despite the somewhat fancy title, what this really is is a photo scavenger hunt; one in which I have to find things and then take a picture of both myself and the thing. Well, some things were easy: I either already had a picture of them, or I could get one fairly easily. Others, however...well, you'll see.

(Note: Even though this is going to be full of pictures, I don't want to suck up your bandwidth every time you visit here, so I'm just going to link to them. Yes? Good! On we go!)

There were 47 possible things to scavenge. I was able to get 28 of those (with 31 total pictures). This seems pretty good when you consider that the person with the next highest amount of pictures (so far) has only 10, and he's ugly as sin, to boot!

One unfortunate aspect was that I had to...fib to people. However, I think eventually things will come to pass which make them not fibs anymore. Basically, I told them that I had a deadline (true), that there is a large prize (not true...though I think it may be true as time passes), and that I'm one of the front-runners (which appears to be true). The problem, especially with some of these, is that people seem to have a difficult time understanding that I will go through all this for the fun of it. Most people expected that there would be some sort of reward/compensation. I suppose they don't share my philosophy. But let's get to it, shall we?

-with a person showing at least 3 tattoos
This one was supposed to be one of the first to be completed (with the exception of the stuff I already had). One of the first places I visited when I left on Thursday was a place that, among things, was a tattoo parlor. Because it always seems like the people who work at tattoo parlors are customers as well as proprietors. So I go to this guy and ask him for a picture, if only with his arm (which was fully covered in tats). His response: "What's in it for me?" He refused to help me at all. "You unbelievable jackass!" I thought, "I'm not asking for a pint of blood." But I left, sure never to buy anything from that man ever.

So the task then became much more difficult. However, as I was later walking down a street to get to some other picture, I saw this guy with one, two, three(!) tattoos on his arms. I approached him carefully (which is an art you have to master in Berkeley...well, I guess the fact that I was properly dressed, smelled decent, and had iPod earbuds coming from my pocket probably signified that I wasn't a bum) and asked to take a picture with his arm. This guy, was very nice, as were most of the people I dealt with. That's the thing about people, I find: they want to help.

-with a stuffed animal at least 5' tall
This is the first picture of me being clever (my coup de gras, however, is lower down). When most people think of "stuffed animal," they think of these. And the only places you're going to find a 5-footer is at a carnival or a spoiled girl's bedroom. I, however, thought more along the lines of this. You know, "Joes Taxidermy: You snuff 'em, we stuff 'em." And, thankfully, there is a conveniently-located stuffed bear in one of the on-campus food courts. (A quick aside: being at a university made finding a lot of this stuff so much simpler. You'll see more later.)

-with at least 10 animals
This was recommended to me by one of my coworkers. I thought I'd only be able to get 10 animals by chance in the wild; I never thought to go to a pet store (mainly because I didn't realize Berkeley had any). However, it turns out that we have a bird store, and after asking the owner nicely, she let me take a picture with these...16 (by my count) birds.

-with a copy of a book printed in the 18th century
Okay, don't be fooled by the fact that this is so early on the list. This thing was a stone-cold bitch to find. 18th Century books (i.e. written in the 1700s) are really hard to find, particularly in California. Furthermore, I was working against the clock. My coworker suggested that I should go to Doe Library (our main one) to look for a book. Unfortunately, the library closed at 5pm, and it was already 4:30. I jogged over to the library (on the middle of campus) and looked around in the "old-timey" section. Unfortunately, only the decorum was old-timey, not the selection. I ended up asking one of the information people. He told me that my best bet would be to go to the Bancroft Library (which has most of the old and/or rare books [including one made of human flesh]), which was closing....9 minutes. And so, I had to run all the way there. Here's a map of the path I took:
It was tricky, but I made it (I thank my new training regimen). I got into the Bancroft Library at 4:56pm. I explained them my (slightly totally fabricated) story about needing the picture by 9pm in order to get the prize. They resolutely told me that no pictures - not even non-flash ones - could be taken of anything, and that they'd be watching me the whole time. Having just sprinted my way there, my panting mixed well with my disappointment. They directed me to the Berkeley Public Library, which they said probably didn't have anything, but was open later.

So, there I went. As big a place as it was, my hopes weren't exactly set high. I first went to the Information Desk, and flat out asked "What's the oldest book you have?" They didn't know, so they sent me to the Paging Desk, where I asked the same question. They told me that most of their stuff was newspaper articles on microfiche, so I was then sent over to the Reference Desk. And there, thankfully, the guy remembered seeing some really old book in the basement. So, he goes to check for a couple minutes, and comes back with a book printed in 1784. Brilliant!

(Oh, if you're interested, the book's title is: The Philosophical and Political History of the Settlements and Trade of the Europeans in the East and West Indies, Vol. 2. No, it's not very catchy, but you definitely know what you're getting.

-with a magazine issue printed before 1990
This is one I'm not sure they'll count. Thing is, it is a magazine printed in 1980. Problem is, this is part of a number of magazines in a single book that I found in the stacks of the Life Sciences Library. Plus, all you can see of me is my goatee (though I think it's pretty obvious who it is, considering the other pictures). Still, it's the best I could do (though knowing that there are plenty of old magazines at my SoCal home, I can't help but feel a little cheated there).

-A bowl of nuts
Remember how I said that some of the items were easier to find than others? Yeah, this is one of them. It's just a bowl of nuts...*cough*

-next to a person dressed as a cartoon character
Among the unseen benefits of going to Comic-Con last year was having plenty of pictures of people dressed as cartoon characters which could be used for a scavenger hunt. I actually had a couple more, but I felt like any more than four would be going overboard. I told them that any or all of these could be used, with the hope of getting bonus points. (By the way, I still don't know what the heck the people in the last picture are supposed to be).

-with a celebrity
Okay, more than likely, this person is not a celebrity to you. In fact, you've probably never seen her before. But in the group that this game is playing, this probably is a good example of a celebrity. You see, most of the people who are playing this game also play Magic: The Gathering. This person, Rebbecca Guay, is one of the most famous/infamous Magic Artists in the game. Whether or not the people like her, there is no question that she is well-known in the community, thus making her a celebrity. So it probably wouldn't count in any other scavenger hunt, but it counts here, dagnabbit!

-with chocolate icing covering your face
Yes, I do realize that the stuff on my face is chocolate syrup, not chocolate icing. However, someone else got away with sending in chocolate syrup, so I figured I might as well, too.
Yes, I realize I have a really creepy face. I thought it worked well for the shot.
Yes, I realize that there is chocolate going into my goatee. That wasn't fun. :(

-A full-scale dinosaur skeleton
Remember what I said about being at a University. You have full, easy access to stuff like this! I mean, c'mon, who else has a 15-minute walk to a full-fledged dinosaur skeleton (or several, as the case was).

-next to a piece of farm equipment
I actually got to this hardware store when it was closed (and had been closed for a while). However, as Fate would have it, one of the owners was coming in for some reason. I told her my predicament, and she let me take a picture with this pitchfork (though I'm actually behind it and not next to it...semantics). She also said she had a nutcracker that looked like a squirrel (which actually would have gotten me another picture), but said she couldn't find it. Shucks.

-ordering food at a fast food restaurant
Even though this picture appears to be (and is) totally posed, I actually did order from that fast food restaurant (Blondie's Pizza, if you were wondering). I was walking by, and some bum was handing out coupons. "I haven't eaten yet," I thought, "Might as well kill two birds with one stone." (No, not those birds!) The employees were kind enough to oblige me in what would have otherwise been a very awkward situation.

I love the look on my face, by the way. It's so spaced out.

-wearing a giant shirt
Yes, I did take the shirt out of the dressing room, if you were wondering. Other than that, though, this shot isn't...well, I wasn't exactly allowed to take it, per se. You see, the store has this policy of not taking pictures of merchandise in store. In order to legally take this picture, I had to shell out $20 for this hip-hop inspired shirt for sweaty fat men (and 4XL is big, my friends. Big!). So, I just asked where the dressing room was, and took my picture in secret (as I, unfortunately, had to be wearing it). I think my face, unlike normal, was not posed for this picture.

-with half your face painted an unusual color
It's my face...half of which is green. What do you want, a song and dance?

-wearing a hat with ears
As you may be able to tell by the unusually large number of hats in this picture, I'm in a hat store - the same hat store in which I bought my new hat. It's a good thing I had gone to that hat store before, too, or else I may not have thought to gotten this hat. I must say, though, I look cute and huggably soft with that hat on. Maybe I should have bought that hat, to join the other hat I had bought at that hat store.

(Number of times "Hat" was used in the preceding paragraph: 9)

-performing a piece of interpretive dance
What the hell is interpretive dance? I mean, really? I could stumble and fall down and still call it "interpretive dance." So I figured this shouldn't be too difficult. I just contorted my body a little bit, and called it a day. The tilted camera is especially juicy.

-with a balloon at least 5' tall or wide
Again, Comic-Con comes to the rescue. I didn't actually think of this until I perusing through my pictures, looking for things that would satisfy the requests. I would say this giant Blastoise fits the bill quite nicely.

-next to a modern art sculpture
Another benefit of being at a university? Modern art is abundant in all its worthless glory! This particular one was the closest one I could find, conveniently located just outside Ramona's cafe in our upper campus. I also wanted to buy some snacks while I was there (with the exception of that pizza, I didn't eat much that day), but it was closed for the summer. :(

-with a shirt that has a picture of a monkey on it
Uh, oh, another picture that's not completely, fully endorsed by the store in which it was taken. Luckily, I didn't have to wear the shirt, so all I needed to do was hide in a corner of the store and take the shot. But, c'mon, when one of the first shirts you see in a store fulfills a requirement, that's a good sign.

-watching a TV show about Napoleon
Wow, what are the odds of a show about Napoleon coming on when I needed it? Almost nonexistent, which is why I had to go onto Netflix and watch a preview of some documentary on Napoleon. I had two pictures of myself: this one, and one with some random French dude on the screen. I opted for this one, mainly because very few people have names ending in "POLEON."

-holding or beside a picture of a president
I love my face in this one. But, yeah, this was pretty simple. Print out a picture of a president, hold it up, win. I made sure to include the president's name and term of office just to make sure nobody thought it was just some random guy. Why, though, did I choose Martin Van Buren? Well, I think he's probably the most comedic president we've ever had. Not that I actually know anything about his policies or personality, mind you, but look at him! He's funny-looking, has a funny name, and is an all-around character. I think he'll have many a guest appearance on a particular show.

-in front of a purple or pink house
According to one of my Finnish residents, pink houses are fairly commonplace in Finland. Unfortunately, this is America: Home of the Free, Not Home to Pink and Purple Houses. I was actually coming back from another place on the bus when I saw this thing. Even though it meant I'd have to wait another 15 minutes for the next bus to arrive, I had to get off then and there. I asked some lady if she'd take my picture in front of the house. "Oh, did you use to live there?" "It was another life." I replied. (I wasn't actually answering he question, mind you; that was just a non-sequitur.)

And what are those flowers doing in my hand...?

-A red & white checkered object
When I was at a Safeway, I was keeping my eyes peeled for something that was red, white, and checkered. They'd have tons of it, I figured. Tablecloths, napkins, plates, the whole shebang. Apparently, that was only in the 80s. Nowadays, it's all greens and blues and Spongebob Squarepants (hasn't that died yet?). So that was a no-go. However, I did manage to find this lovely Smuckers jar, the lid of which was red, white, and...checkered! What'd'ya know! And for those of you keeping track, I wasn't 100% fully allowed to take pictures in Safeway.

(Oh, another item that I was looking for in the Safeway: a durian. Unfortunately, they happen to be out of season at the moment, so only people who had previously owned a durian-based picture would have that covered.)

-at a retirement village
It just so happens that some of the buildings at Clark Kerr Campus were used as a retirement home called "Redwood Gardens". Convenient, no? Unfortunately, although there were several signs around the place that said "Redwood Gardens," there was nothing that said "Retirement Village" or "Retirement Home" or "Old Folks Home" or anything of that nature. However, if you search "redwood gardens retirement" on Google, it's the first thing that shows up. That counts for something, right?

...Am I right, folks?

-with a member of royalty
Ah, I believe this was me at most clever and/or smartass. When I saw "royalty" I thought to myself, "Wow, that would be such an awesome picture. Too bad I don't live in England...and have connections to the royalty there." Apparently, some of the Indian girls staying here for the summer are royalty, but whose going to believe that? (Answer: a couple people, but not the right ones.) Then, I had a shocking revelation: who said they had to be living royalty. And so I decided to go to the Hearst Museum of Anthropology (again, on campus - being a college student is great) and took a picture with good ol' Nes-Khonsu-pa-shered, in what had to be the most not-exactly-100% approved picture of them all. But I didn't use flash, so that's good.

-in front of a sign with letters at least 3' high
That's a big X, wouldn't you say?

-outside a haunted house
I have no proof that this place is haunted. I heard there was a ghost in there once. Does that make it haunted? No, not necessarily? Does it look like it could be haunted? Eh, it kinda has that "look." But really, when you think about it, how can you prove in a picture, unless it had a ghost in it, that a house was haunted. So I figured I'd put this in. I called it "Supposedly Haunted House" to show them that I wasn't fully convinced myself, and that I'm not just pulling stuff out of thin air (as I'm sure some others are doing).

-dressed in a wedding gown made of toilet paper
Sense of dignity? You jest! This better get a boatload of points (and I better get a second boatload for actually making a somewhat decent-looking gown; I'm sure other people will just look like mummies). I must say, for having done this completely on my own, I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out. The only problem was actually taking the picture, as it's not really one you can do at arms length. I considered bringing someone in to take it, but...that would be awkward, wouldn't you say? So, I wracked my brain until I finally figured out how to use the timer on my camera. And I like how it all turned out.

(Oh, and yes, this picture was the only reason why I bought those flowers. I felt I had to accessorize. If you're going to do this kind of picture, you may as well go all-out, y'know?)

...So, there you go. That's my scavenger hunt loot. I hope you've enjoyed all my pictures, as well as the stories behind them. It was a long, exhausting day, but I thought it was great fun.