Friday, February 29, 2008

Keeping You in the Know

A few notes I'd like to put out there...

Note 1
First, I'd like to apologize about the slowdown of updates in the last week or so. Life's been kinda crazy. Not in a bad way, mind you. I'm looking for summer internships, and that precludes a bit of time and effort making phone calls, writing letters, doing research, etc.

(Also, it's midterm season.)

I was planning on talking a bit about the internship fair that occurred last week, but I'll hold off on that right now. Let me just say right now that I have an interview set up with one company, an application sent in and and a lot of talk with another company, and I'm on the lookout on a third (as well as a couple more).

I won't say who I'm most interested in, in case any or all of the companies are reading (hi there, companies! ^_^), but there were about a dozen companies I could apply for (had I the time!) so the fact that they made it through my "Round 1" means something. (If you really want to know, give me a call or shoot me an email.)

So, anyway, I would have been updating more often, but I've only been getting 2-4 hours a sleep a night as is, and I'm hoping to increase those numbers, not decrease them further. But don't worry, I still care! :)

Note 2
So, as you may remember me mention a few times before, I'm trying to lose some weight through a diet and exercise regimen. I thought I'd give you an update on it.

Namely, I've currently passed the 200lb mark (going downwards). Which is pretty good, considering I started at 232.

Now, last week I reached my halfway point toward my primary goal of 175 pounds. I decided to take a few pictures of myself to compare with some "Before" pictures like they have in all the commercials. It's pretty interesting.

I was considering putting them up, but am hesitant for two reasons:
1. Part of me wants to wait until I have reached my goal of 175lb to post the before-after comparison, as the change will be more dramatic.
2. The pictures are of me without a shirt, which - regardless of weight - may be an unpleasant experience for all involved.

I dunno. If you really want to see pictures, let me know. Otherwise, I'll spare the Internet this time.

Long story short, diet's going well.

Note 3
Remember to check out Elderly Apple! I know everyone's busy, but you can literally, literally see each day's idea (I don't specifically call them comics; there's no real punchline; they're just ideas) in 30 seconds or less.

If you happen to have an additional 30 seconds, please leave a comment. Both on EA and TLD, comments are my lifeblood. As trite as it sounds, they give me the strength to keep going. More comments = more enthusiasm from me! Plus, it gives you an opportunity to say something witty. Remember, though, that Elderly Apple Andrew is different from regular Andrew. So don't expect a similar interaction.

Finally, if you have 30 seconds more, please be sure to vote for the comic in the Top Webcomics Vote. The button's on the side of the site. The voting system's a little confusing at first, but spend a minute and you should figure it out. The more votes I get, the more notoriety Elderly Apple gets. Also, when you cast a vote, I will give you a random trivia fact that you (probably) didn't know before. This is updated every single day, so voting every day is the only way to know them all! Your knowledge is expanded, as is my user base. It's win-win!

So, that's one-and-a-half minutes total. I understand if you feel that you don't have the time. But if you do, please check it out. It may seem simple, but it really is a strenuous mental exercise, and I want everyone to experience it.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

At Least my Breath is Always Fresh

You know, I've really gotten into mints.

Like, a lot.

I've gone through so many different types of mints in the last week.



Icebreakers Liquid Ice Capsules.


And yet, I can't get enough! I go though, like, a pack every couple days! Sometimes, I'll even go into pack-a-day mode!

But it feels so good!

The intense tingling/burning sensation when you pop it in your mouth. The little crunch when you bite a mostly-dissolved piece. The absolutely exhilarating chill when you breathe in after finishing.

I've heard it said that everyone gets addicted to something new each year in college.

A year ago, I was addicted to Nerds.

I think this may be the year of mint!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

That Which Plays Most Plays......Most

So the last few days have been crazy. I have a midterm and a paper due this Monday. I pulled an all-nighter on Friday just to make sure the paper was done in time. I'll be studying for the midterm tomorrow. And, amidst all that, I need to write thank you notes to people I've talked to at the Internship Fair 9truth be told, I'm late in sending them, but better late than never).

I'll talk about some of the companies I talked to at the internship fair...later. I'm too tired right now.

In the meantime, I don't want to just leave you hanging, so I'll give you a random interest piece. About my musical tastes. But this isn't going to just be me saying what I like. No, this is going to come through raw, hard numbers. You see, iTunes keeps count of how many times you listen to a song on either iTunes or your iPod). You can actually see your play count if you check it under "Options." Usually, I have it turned off, but occassionally I give it a look.

The vast, vast majority of my songs have a play count of 10 or less. Only 67 of my 7000+ songs have a play count of over 100. And only 17 have been played over 200 times (which, if you think about it, is actually quite a lot).

But what about the very top? What are the songs I've listened to more than any others. Well, I'll tell you. Presenting:

Andrew Schnorr's 10 Most-Played Songs

#11 - Prospero's Speech - Play Count: 286 - What's this? I've already lied to you in some way? Yes, my friends, this top ten list will actually going to feature eleven songs, for reasons which will be made clearer to you later on. And coming in at number 11, we have this piece by the beautifully-voiced and wildly haired Loreena McKennitt. In case you're a thespian or English major, you may have noticed that this is actually a speech made by the character Prospero (hence, the title) in Shakespeare's play The Tempest. Considered the most famous speech ever, I found it very interesting to listen to. In fact, I memorized the speech based on this one song. In fact, I had even considered reading the play just due to this one song. Never got around to it, though. Hmmm....*Goes onto*

#10 - Where Will You Go? - Play Count: 293 - Truth be told, this one surprised me a little. Just a little. This is by the rock band Evanescence, which currently has the reputation for just being a pseudo-goth band with a female lead singer. However, their debut album (which is so rare that if you want to get a physical CD on Amazon, it will cost you $40) is, in my opinion, their best album, and it's quite different then their current styles. This is probably my second favorite song on the album (uh-oh...foreshadowing?) and it has something in common with my, uh, first favorite.

#9 - If I Could Reach Your Heart - Play Count: 340 - From the Cirque du Soleil show KA. I've actually talked about this one before. Rather than wrack my brain thinking up something original, let me just copy and past what I wrote before: "If I had a girlfriend, this would probably be my "romantic" song for us. Not to imply that I could sing it, mind you; I doubt I could hit those high notes. Still, if my life was a movie (something which I am constantly comparing it to), this would be part of the "first kiss" scene. (Or, alternately, if we were cats, the scene where we do one of those little cat hugs...yeah, that's the stuff!)"

#8 - Lost Souls - Play Count: 371 - This is actually an intro piece for a video game called Rome: Total War (you may remember me talking about the games Medieval equivalent). It was compsed by a guy named Jeff Van Dyke, who works on the whole series, and does a damn good job of it, too. Unfortunately, the soundtracks are incredibly hard to find, and I don't have them all. :(

#7 - Amour - Play Count: 388 - Ah, Rammstein. Be prepared for a bit of German coming up. Of those 17 songs I said had over 200 plays, Rammstein songs make up a full six of them. This is mainly because they're one of the first "new" bands I got into when I came to college. This is before I really had as large a repository of music as I have now. So, they were played quite a bit. They still are, though not nearly to the same extent. This is probably one of their softer songs (at least, the first half is, I guess). As the title implies, this song is indeed about love. It basically is about how love is like a wild animal that can't be tamed, etc. etc.

#6 - Orbis de Ingis - Play Count: 391 - This is actually the newest song on the list, having been purchased a mere three months ago (near exactly). That's quite a rise to the top. This is by the band Dead Can Dance. Dead Can Dance is a band whose style is hard to describe. I would say the most descriptive way is hauntingly beautiful. I was going to write an entire post on them called "The Joy of Melancholy" but was too lazy. Regardless, they're very good, at least the female half of them is. There's a guy who sings, but I don't care for him much. The woman, as it turns out, is Lisa Gerrard, who collaborated with Hans Zimmer on the Gladiator soundtrack. I knew I liked her. Also of note, this song is the best looper of the bunch. If you're not paying attention, it's near impossible to really know when it begins and ends.

#5 - Nebel - Play Count: 423 - Another Rammstein song. Again, a very soft one, not much like their harder rock. This song, for those not fluent in German and/or translation sites, is about the memory two lovers embracing on a beach in the mist (nebel is German for "mist") because one of them has to leave for some reason. So there you go.

#4 - Anywhere - Play Count: 442 - The second Evanescence song. This one actually hold the distinction of having had been played for the longest amount of time of any other song I own (by calculating play count by the length of the song). This is probably one of the softest songs Evanescence has ever done, and as I said earlier, I think it's one of their best. The lyrics kind of have a Romeo & Juliet feel to them. Whenever I hear them, I tend to sing along (or at least lip-sync). This could definitely compete will If I could Reach Your Heart for the whole love song thing. And yes, I do realize that the content of many of these songs makes me seem like a hopeless romantic. But that changes...

#3 - Hilf Mir - Play Count: 500 - HERE! "What the hell happened," you ask? Unlike the other two Rammstein songs, which I described as different from their normal hard rock style, this one seems quite hard. "Well," you continue, "maybe this one is about love, too." No, no it's not. "Hilf Mir" is actually "Help Me" in German, and the lyrics "Das feuer liebt mich nicht" mean "the fire loves me not." This song is actually a retelling of a medieval children's tale. That means someone's gonna die. And that someone is apparently the little girl "singing" the song, who disobeys her parents by lighting a match and as a result, burns herself to death. "What?" you cry in anger, "That's horrible, Andrew! Why is this your favorite song of this band?" Well, truth be told, it's not. I like a lot of their other songs better. "But then why did you play it the most?" you ask. Funny you should ask. During my freshman year, this was my finals music. When I had final papers to write, or final tests to study for, I listened to this song on repeat. It somehow, somehow helped me concentrate. Don't ask me; I just know it worked. So, there you are.

#2 - Gamelan - Play Count: 660 - And here we are at what I consider to be my true number one (why? You'll see in a moment). This is actually a background song from the illustrious Age of Empires video game series. And I don't know why, but it always seems to work as background music for anything and everything. It's soft enough for mellow things, perky enough for lively things, familiar enough for comforting things, and exotic enough for...uh, exotic things. A gamelan, by the way, is an Indonesian musical ensemble, which I'm pretty sure is used to make this piece (or at least, a digitized gamelan made it). I truly believe that it is nigh impossible to grow tired of this song. I'm not going to say it's my most favorite song up there. In some senses, it's not very extraordinary. But somehow, I love it. It!

#1 - Intro - Play Count: 2051 - And here we are at number one, with an absolutely astounding 2000+ play count. It's unbelievable. Seriously, I don't believe it. As in, I'm pretty damn sure I didn't listen to this over 2000 times. Yes, it is a charming little intro piece (by a relatively unknown but very good - and very recommended - band called Stereo Fuse) featuring a public domain sound clip of the first advertising record used by the Edison phonograph, but still, I'm not going to listen to it that much. In fact, I'm pretty sure that the reason this play count is so high is that I was listening to it (with headphones, most likely) on repeat at night, and then went to bed before pausing the music. This would allow it to play all night without stopping, and being a mere half-minute long, it could play quite a bit. So it kinda cheated it's way to the top. But, I cannot deny that this is my most-played song, even if it's not my most-listened-to song.

And so, there you have it. My top 10 listened-to songs, and one piece that I left going all night. I hope you've enjoyed this little romp around my music collection to see exactly what I listen to on repeat. Anything surprise you? Delight you? Sadden or anger you? Let me know. I know my musical posts tend not to get as much discussion as my others, but hopefully this will be different.

Also, I'd be interested to see what your most played songs are. If you have iTunes, click Ctrl+J. Then check "play count." Then put your songs in order of play count. Let me know what turns up.

Friday, February 22, 2008


(Until I do, here's a discussion starter: Despite my feelings of disconnect with the rest of humanity, I tend to be a popular counselor figure with my peers. Try to figure out why!)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

And I Don't Even *Eat* Cereal Anymore!

Before I begin, a few pieces of good news:

1. I just got an acceptance letter yesterday for the UC Berkeley Undergraduate Marketing Association Creative Committee. Pretty much makes up for that other thing I didn't get into (which, by the way, I heard is having a little trouble).

2. After scrapping my crappy old resume and drafting a whole new one, I brought it to a resume critique workshop in preparation for and internship fair occurring today and tomorrow. With the exception of a few location issues, they said it was solid all around. Score!

3. A resident of mine who applied to be an RA got the position! Which is doubly impressive because apparently this year, 2/3 of the staff are returners (it was about 30-40% when I was applying), and so acceptances were low, even for perfectly qualified people. In fact, out of 250 people who were interviewed, only 37 got the job. So I am very happy for him (especially since I feel I had some hand in it. :P)

Okay, now with that out of the way, I wanted to bring up something fun that I saw the other day. While looking for pictures of cereal boxes to help me with my consumer behavior group project (see, it relates to the good news somewhat), I stumbled across this little website.

For those too lazy to click that link, it's for some old PBS Kids website called "Don't Buy It" which, though it apparently hasn't been updated in four years, teaches kids to be smart consumers and question what they see on advertisements and such (in effect, it's trying to foil my plans). Among other things, it talks about where the money you pay for products goes to, as well as how buying designer clothes is a waste of money.

(Quick aside: I was just at an Urban Outfitters the other day. I would really, really like to buy their shirts if they weren't thirty-frickin'-dollars!)

Wait, didn't I say I found this while looking for cereal boxes?

Well, yes. You see, when you type "cereal box" into Google, the second thing to come up is a little game on the PBS site where you can design your own cereal box, complete with color, box character, name, claim, prize,, that's t. Truth be told, there's not that much variety, as each of those categories only has 3 or 4 options (with the exception of the name category, which apparently doesn't have a word filter. For shame, PBS!).

However, it's still possible to make something awesome out it. So, without further ado, here's Andrew Schnorr's custom cereal:
While I won't mention that the cereal the little critter is holding is obviously not the cereal that you actually get, I will mention that I think this might be the single most brilliant title for a cereal EVER!

Think about it.

The ads would be awesome.

And think about the scene inside grocery stores when kids ask for it.

Sheer beauty.

Well, that's all for me. Wish me luck at the internship fair!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Saying Goodbye to the Comrade

Not sure if you've heard, but apparently Fidel Castro has resigned as president of Cuba. That's pretty big news. It's almost like when Pope John Paul II died, in the sense that he's been a world leader for longer than I've been alive. In a sense, up until 5 minutes ago, I have never known a world in which Fidel Castro was not president of Cuba. Kind of interesting when you think about it.

What's going to be even more interesting is what comes next. George W. Bush has been saying for quite a while that the United States won't have anything to do with Cuba until Fidel is either out of power or dead (mainly because they thought the two would happen simultaneously). So, what is going to happen? Are we finally going to be able to travel to Cuba without making a layover in Paraguay? ...I doubt it. I think the whole "Fidel is evil, wait for him to die" argument was because politicians are lazy and don't actually want to go through the work of opening our borders to Cuba.

Of course, ol' W's on his way out, so what he says doesn't really mean much anymore. I'm not sure what the current candidates think about the Cuba thing, and goddammit, I'm too lazy to find out. What I do know, though, is that Fidel's younger brother Raul (a man who looks like a chubbier, Latino version of my high school econ teacher, Mr. Logan) probably won't make it past one election. He just doesn't have the presence for it. I mean, the man is like Luigi to Fidel's Mario.

Now, I will make no comment on Fidel's policies, communism, or politics in general (one interesting note; not even THE_BOLSHEVIK is communist). What I will comment on, though, is that he was part of one of my earliest real photoshop attempts (back before I was even using Photoshop, but rather something called "PhotoDeluxe" [a program discontinued in 2002]). It was for a Spanish project where I had to write a journal about a vacation through various Spanish-speaking countries. Well, I decided to make one of these countries be Cuba, and since I included a picture with each journal (I forget if that was required), I decided to make this one be with "Nuestro Amigo Fidel."
Yes, that head on the left did belong to me, once upon a time.

So, Fidel, the former president of Cuba, so long, and we'll always have our photo-manipulation.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Character Biography: Akker

Y'know, being in my little Star Wars class has kind of rekindled an old character idea I had. A Star Wars character, to be exact. So I've been putting some more thought into the character, and for all I know, I may even use a story involving him as my final project for the class.

So, I thought I'd put down my info on the character, almost as much for my own future reference than for anyone else. Hopefully you'll find it interesting enough. (If you don't recognize any term, chances are you'll find a description at this website.)

So let's get started:

Name: Akker
Species: Iridorian
Gender: Male
Height: 1.70 meters (Approx. 5'7")
Hair Color: Black
Eye Color: Slate Gray
Era: Old Republic Era
Affiliations: Iridorian Empire (Exiled); Jedi Order (Exiled)

Now, I'll do a little bit of explaining. You'll notice that I said that this fellow's species is Iridorian. What the hell is an Iridorian? Well, to put it bluntly, it is one of the most obscure species ever. In fact they were only mentioned once in the whole of all the movies, games, books, comics, etc, and that was in Knights of the Old Republic. Here's the article about them (on the near-disturbingly comprehensive Star Wars Wiki). There's not much information about them, save for that they are a bloodthirsty warrior people. We also don't know what they look like, seeing as the only one ever seen is wearing a suit. So, I took some liberties when creating my guy.

Now, as far as the name "Akker"...well, I like the name. It actually comes from one of my Magic: The Gathering acquaintances named Charles Hacker. Which I always thought was an awesome name. (So did everyone else, apparently; ever team he was on unanimously chose to be called "Team Hacker".) It seems like a very direct name. Short. Punchy. To the point. Kind of like the character.

Now, as far as showing you what he looks like, I used what may be one of my best tools; the City of Heroes/Villains character creator. You may remember my showing this off a bit when I was talking about Solomon Dusk. Well, this time I had a specific character I was setting out to create, so I went about the process a wee bit differently. There are a few things that are a bit off, but overall, this is what the character looks like:
Ha! Bet you weren't expecting someone who looks like that! I...oh, you were? Well...still! Anyway, in the final version of the character, there would be a few changes I would make. For example, his kilt/battle skirt would end a little more north of the knee (it'll make more sense once you get a better idea of his personality). But, for all the limitations of the character creator (which is still considered the best in the industry), it works well. Now, Let's get a better look at him, so you can see what makes a Iridorian an Iridorian and not a pure human.
Okay, so there's not much that separates him from being human. That's why the Iridorians would be classified as "near-humans". However, there are a couple of differences, some of which I couldn't take any pictures of. First, the ears are pointer, similar to elves or Vulcans. Second, there are small, dark, bony spikes protruding from his shoulders. These are indeed part of his skeletal structure (his bones are dark, by the way, as is his blood). Now, some of the things you can't see: his fingers are sharper, more claw-like than a a humans. Second, his teeth are sharper than a human's. I couldn't show this in the game, because there is only one face that shows teeth (that doesn't look psychotic) and it's this really dorky smile that doesn't fit the character. So use your imagination.

So, now a little character history. So, this takes place somewhere around 1,600 years before the events of the first movie (the one with Mark Hamill). I chose that time because there's no major plots that occur around that time, and so it's easy to work around. Now, around this time, some random Jedi intercepted a small pod/ship that was drifting aimlessly through space. Inside they found a little baby with a strange mark around his left eye. The baby was presented to the Jedi Council, who sensed in it great potential in the Force. They decided to raise the baby as a Jedi. So it went for many years.

Then, when Akker was, oh, 16-19 or so, he was sparring with his master, the Jedi Master Kuala Lumpur (that's a placeholder name, but seeing as most SW characters have kooky names anyway, it doesn't matter much). They were both fighting with their lightsabers, and Akker was getting more and more into it; his Iridorian instinct was building up. He was getting a little too bloodthirsty, and ended up striking down and killing his master. When he finally regained his sense of normality, Akker realized that his career as a Jedi was over because 1)He had struck down his master, a high-ranking Jedi whom he had respected and loved all his life and 2)he enjoyed doing it. So, he sent himself into exile, but not before retrieving his master's lightsaber crystal (which I'll get to in a minute).

When in this exile, he decided to put his power to use, working as both a prize fighter and a mercenary of sorts. He never took the money he won in the prize fighting (for him, the combat was the prize itself); instead, it went to his friend, Paul (again, placeholder name). Paul was a traveling merchant, mainly of exotic food and alcohol. Akker, being a fan of both, joined with Paul, and the two would travel from planet to planet, going to all the main events. Eventually, they earned enough money to open a bar on the planet Ramalamadingdong (again, placehol...yeah, you get the drill). Akker lives in a room on the upper floor of the bar, and the place is also set up to host small-time fights.

There, that's Akker in a fighter pose.

Now, let's take a short detour into personality. Akker is a very complicated character personality-wise. He's definitely not a good guy, but he's not totally evil. (On a side note, the character would be an interesting note in the nature vs. nurture debate.)

We'll start with the bad. I like to say that Akker embodies the seven deadly sins. However, he really only embodies four-and-a-half of them. Let's look at what doesn't match.
Envy - Akker enjoys his life too much to envy anyone else.
Greed - Akker has absolutely no desire for money. He never gets payed with money, and if he does get any, he gives it to Paul. How does he pay for things then, you ask. Well...he doesn't. He just takes what he needs. What is anyone going to do? Call some sort of law enforcement? He would actually enjoy that, as it would give him a fight.
Wrath - This is the "half" one, and it may seem a little surprising. After all, isn't this guy a bloodthirsty killer? Well, yes, he can be, but I'm looking at motives here. Even though he is technically on the "dark side" of the Force, he doesn't believe in anger or hatred. He only believes in happiness. Granted, that happiness may not always be based in the best things, but he has a deep feeling of respect for every person he fights and kills. So, he's not much of a wrathful person.
Now, let's see what he does embody:
Pride - And he's not afraid to show it. Akker loves himself, everything about himself. A mirror is his constant companion, and he loves posing and showing off.See?
Lust - And we're not just talking about the "blood" variety here. Remember when I said that Akker doesn't accept money as payment for anything? Well, then, how is he reimbursed for his mercenary exploits. Well...let's just say he prefers his clientèle to be of the female persuasion. Use your imagination.
Gluttony - Pretty basic; Akker loves his food and (especially) his drink. That's one of the reasons he decided to join up with Paul and live at a bar.
Sloth - Despite his Jedi training and his killer instinct, Akker often enjoys lounging around when there's work to be done.

Now, he's not all bad. He just has a kinda-skewed sense of honor. On the good side, he honestly cares about those he considers his friends, and will help out when they are in need. He also maintains some of the discipline he learned in his time with the Jedi. Although he will fight and kill anyone who even thinks of threatening him, he will not fight someone who cannot adequately defend themselves (children, the weak, the elderly, pacifists, etc.). In fact, not only will he not attack those people, he will fight off anyone who does. Akker is also very direct, and always speaks his mind. Dishonesty is never an issue with him. And, as I explained earlier, he is a very positive, optimistic person, always looking on the bright side of things. I suppose you could say that he is very hedonistic. No, not my kind of hedonism; but rather the more traditional definition.

History (Part 2)
Now, Akker continues on this path for the next 10-15 or so years, until one day, some Jedi come onto Ramalamadingdong for an unrelated assignment. One of them happens to be a female Jedi named Jedina. When Akker sees her, he immediately falls in love (much to the mocking of all his friends), and he tries to woo her. Eventually, she begins to develop feelings for him (he really is doting upon her, so he's ignoring all the other ladies he encounters). Fearing these feelings, she reveals this to the Jedi Council, who become shocked at hearing that Akker is still alive. They summon him, tell him to stop corrupting Jedina, and then ask him to help them. As fate would have it, the Iridorians are invading a planet in the Republic.

Eventually, Akker agrees, seeing as his fellow Iridorians would be a worthy fight. Upon meeting them, he notices something interesting: all the Iridorians are significantly larger than him. He then learns that he was actually an outcast, because as a baby, he was deemed to small and weak to fit into the Iridorian soceity. Hence, he was given the mark of prey (the symbol on his eye) and sent on a small ship to parts unknown, where he would either die as a baby or grow into a target for "real" Iridorians to hunt down. And so they did try to hunt him down. And they failed. And were killed. Eventually, the Iridorian threat was extinguished.

However, not everything was going in Akker's favor. Another Jedi, John Paul II, was secretly in love with Jedina (his friend since childhood), and seeing her fall for Akker was too much for him. He eventually, gave into his rage and turned to the dark side so he could get his revenge on Akker. In a somewhat epic battle, Akker eventually kills John Paul II. This sparks a rift within the Jedi Order that leaves many Jedi dead. Filled with grief, Jedina decides that she needs to kill Akker to end it all, even though she knows he's like, 10 times stronger than most of the Jedi there. Akker reluctantly obliges her, but before he attacks, he turns off his lightsaber, allowing Jedina to strike him down (effectively sparing her life). As he had told his friend Paul earlier, "She's the only one to have defeated me. It's time to make it official." And so, his story comes to an end.

Powers, Abilities, and Weapons
Akker is extremely powerful in the Force, probably more-so than any other being living in the same time period. However, he relies more on his own physical stength and killer instinct most of the time, relying on the Force only when those things don't work out. He has a few different abilities he uses.
Telekinesis - Probably his most-used skill, mainly so he can multitask. He's capable of manipulating many things at once, moving immense objects, and performing intricate tasks. He is also able to wield his lightsaber telekinetically, a useful ability in situations where his arms are unavailable.
Force Dissolution - I completely made that name up, because I don't think this idea has been used before. Basically, this is an extension of Akker's telekinesis; it's so acute and focused that he can literally rip molecules apart, turning whatever object (or enemy) he is focusing on into a pile of goop. Particularly useful if they're using a lightsaber-proof armor; you can bypass the armor altogether and dissolve the person.
Mind Protection - Akker doesn't like his mind being read (he prefers people just ask) and so he protects it as best he can. This isn't really a power, though; he just keeps the forefront of his mind preoccupied with unrelated thoughts (often lewd images, so as to repel the mind reader).

Akker has other traditional powers as well, but chooses not to use them. Now, let's talk about weapons. Really, he only has one: his lightsaber. Now, remember when I said earlier that he retrieved his master's lightsaber crystal before going into exile? Well, that's because it's a special, unique crystal...a black crystal. Which gives him...a black lightsaber.

(That's photoshopped, by the way.)

Now, I'm not even going to try to explain the physics that make this thing work. It's honestly not that important, and anything would just be made up (i.e. the Flaborkins discovered a way to make goobajoob reverse polarity...see how easy it is?). What's important is that it does work. Now, you may have notices that instead of emanating light, this thing actually emits shadow. Here's a picture that you can see this even more clearly on.
This really means nothing. There's no symbolic meaning to it, it's not an evil lightsaber, and it's not a black hole or anything. It's a purely aesthetic choice. What is a functional difference, though, is that the black lightsaber has a unique property. When you turn it on, the lightsaber is fairly weak in power. However, the longer you right, the more powerful it gets. Why? Well, in the movies, you always see the Jedi deflecting blaster shots with their lightsabers. Akker's lightsaber, though, doesn't deflect blaster fire; it absorbs it. In doing so, it gains more energy and becomes stronger. Same deal when he's in a lightsaber duel; every time the blades clash, Akker's absorbs a little bit of energy from the opponent's. Eventually, Akker's lightsaber will overpower the opponent's. However, it always runs the risk of gaining too much energy; that's why someone strong in the Force needs to control it, or else it may just self-destruct, destroying the black crystal forever.


That's all I have to say about Akker for right now. As you can see, I have him fleshed out reasonably well. So, like I said, I may be able to do something with him for my little final project. My thoughts are either on some sort of short story involving him (alongside with a full-on biography similar to what's presented above) or, if I can find someone willing an able, a short comic (which would be awesomer than awesome).

In the meantime, anybody have any questions, comments, or suggestions about the character?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Scenes from Valentine's Eve

In a par-for-the-course move, I spent Valentine's Day alone this year. (Technically, you could say I spent it with my building, as I was on duty, but let's not get into semantics.) Since I had no special lady to dote upon, I decided to do something for my coworkers. So, I made my special Valentine's Day Cards, folded up and with little notes. They looked as such:
Just so you know, everything that looks like it is a mistake, isn't. Every card looks like this.

I also bought some tulips to give away with the flowers (the idea being they'd be dead by the time the people found them, making it, I dunno, ironic). So I went to Safeway and got three bunches of 10, white, red, and pink.

Safeway Clerk: "Got a special lady you're giving those to?"
Me: "Multiple." *Wink.*
Safeway Clerk: "..."

Of course, there were ladies on the bus ride back who commented that "she would love it." I didn't dare make that same joke to them; in Berkeley, you're only three words away from a feminist mob at any time.

Anyway, I stored the flowers in my fridge, which is actually a really bad idea, because the flowers touching the walls of the fridge got all soggy and gross (which wasn't what I was looking for). Still, there was enough to give one to each coworker.

I stapled (yes, stapled) the cards to the leaves of the tulips, and then after 3am (when all the security monitors had left) I went out and placed a flower/card combination on each door. There were a few people in the hallways who must have thought I was the sketchiest guy ever, but I don't really care. Who they gonna call? The RA on Duty?

The next day (that is, Valentine's Day), quite a few people were thanking me. I played dumb, pretending they weren't from me. However, everyone knew they were, not in the least because I made no effort to actually hide my name on them. One of my more tick-like coworkers (and I mean that in the most loving way possible) latched onto me and was hugging me for what must have been a full minute. She said I was the nicest person on staff. I quickly corrected her.

However, not all on Valentine's Eve was flowers and sunshine. Behold, the Valentine's Day Scare!

Wednesday Night
Me: Hey, there’s a message on my answering machine. I should listen to it.
Answering Machine: This is ADC, calling with an important message. We need you or your attorney to call us tomorrow by noon central standard time, or else legal actions will be filed."
Me: "......."
Answering Machine: This is ADC, calling with an important message. We need you or your attorney to call us tomorrow by noon central standard time, or else legal actions will be filed."
Me: "Oh God, what's going on? Couldn't they have elucidated a little more? What the hell do they want with me? What's ADC? Am I getting sued?"

*On the Internet Acronym Finder*

Me: "Okay, ADC stands for...Allied Data Corporation? What the hell is that? Is that like some technology cartel? Are they trying to sue me for having illegal software. Well, they can't do that, because I have no illegal software on my computer! ...Maybe I should look them up."

*On the Allied Data Corporation website.*
Me: "Collection agency? Do I owe someone money? I don't owe anybody money. Do I? Are these people going to break my legs or something. Ohhh, Lord."

Thursday Morning
Me: "I need to call ADC right away!"
*Dials phone number and extension.*
Jim: "Hello, this is Jim, how may I help you?"
Me: "Hi Jim, I recieved a phone call a last night threatening me if I didn't call you this morning. Do you have any idea what this is about?"
Jim: "Yes, sir, this is about your complete lack of integrity in responding to my client."
Me: "Excuse me?"
Jim: "Currently, you owe my client $12,000; I'm here to make sure you pay up or face the consequences."
Me: "Jim, I'm pretty sure you made a mistake."
Jim: "We don't make mistakes at ADC, sir. Now, if you do not pay the money that is owed within the next month, we are going to sue to seize your current assets."
Me: "WHAT?! What are you talking about?! I don't owe anybody $12,000!"
Jim: "Sir, this conversation is being recorded, so I would suggest being cooperative."
Me: "Jim, you don't understand, I'm...Jim, when are your phone records from?"
Jim: "Excuse me?"
Me: "I mean, when is the last time this phone number was changed?"
Jim: "Oh, that was in...December 2005."
Me: "Jim, my name is Andrew Schnorr. Is that the name of your target?"
Jim: "No, we're looking for a [name withheld]."
Me: "Jim, this is a dormitory phone number. There have been multiple people in this room since 2005. The person you're dealing with hasn't lived here almost two years."
Jim: "Oh, I see. I apologize, sir, we made a mistake."
Me: "First time for everything, I suppose."
Jim: "Well, sorry about the scare, and Happy Valentine's Day."
Me: "Uhuhuhuhuh...."

Now, as a quick follow up to last year's article...
Did I get any cheap pun cards? Yes, three. Mercifully fewer than I was fearing.
What is this year's Valentine's Day Song? (That is, what song did I listen to the most?) This kinda came out of right field, as I had my iPod on shuffle, and this song came up, and I just kept repeating it. It's by Shakira, and it's called "Eyes Like Yours." I suppose there's some romance in it, but mostly it's just a good beat-keeper-upper.

You know, it's funny how involved I get in a holidya I have no part of.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Cop-Out: A Thought-Provoking Video Game Video!

Now, often I'm not to keen on just posting YouTube videos for their own sake. However, today I'll make a small exception (in part because I'm stupefyingly busy this week and can't give you anything decent at the moment).

However, a little setup.

This is from a video game called Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. I've mentioned it before a couple of times, but it bears worth mentioning again. If you enjoy Star Wars and you enjoy computer games, you owe it to yourself to play KOTOR and its sequel. Yes, they are...engaging (I probably spent about 200 hours between the two games), but you can portion them out over a long period of time, like a good book. And they play like a good book. A good, interactive book. With compelling stories and deep characters, the two games are excellent, and I'm sure you could find them for less than 10 bucks a pop (they're quite a few years old at this point; I played them when I was a college freshman, and they weren't fully new then, either).

In any event, while you're playing in the game, your non-player-controlled party members will interact with you and occasionally (and sometimes more interestingly) with each other. Since everyone has such a fully developed personality, it's interesting to see how they clash as the characters develop their relationships.

In any event, the clip you're about to watch is, for me, the moment I remember most out of the entire 200 hours I played either game. And it's not a battle at all. It's just a couple lines of dialogue. But those few lines spoke volumes to me.

Besides the player-controlled character (who mostly remains silent) the characters in this video are Carth Onasi, a flag-waving pilot of the Galactic Republic who fully believes in it, and wants nothing more than to protect people from the evils that threaten it. The second is Jolee Bindo, a "gray Jedi" (that is, a Jedi who has left the order but has not fallen to the dark side). In fact, Jolee didn't believe in either the light side or the dark side, taking a very relativistic stance. He ended up leaving the Jedi Order because the High Council did not punish him for making a mistake that caused the deaths of many. He lost faith in the Council's wisdom at that point. In my opinion, he's one of the wisest characters in the whole of the Star Wars universe (even more than, say Yoda).

Anyway, what Jolee says in this clip really speaks to me, especially because of all the rhetoric we hear everyday. Basically, you could replace the word "war" with "election", "economy", "technology", "society" or what have you, and it would still be relevant. And that's why it stood out to me so much, even after these years.

So, any of you have thoughts on the matter?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Because if There's Anything That Matters in Our Society, it's Rankings

On the social networking site Facebook, there's this application that allows you to "compare" yourself to your friends.

This works (to the best of my understanding): You install this application on your profile. You're then put into this database with all your friends. At that point, the program will then present you with 30 comparison questions. You'll be shown two of your friends, and it will say "Who is sexier?" or "Who makes a better sandwich?" or something to that effect. You then choose one of the two people. You can also skip the question if you don't feel you have any good input.

Now, it's quite an imperfect system. Oftentimes, I have to vote for people who I really can't compare, or people who I'm "friends" with, but I don't really know very well. Now, I personally end up clicking "Skip" most of the time, but I'll bet that a lot of people don't, and so I'm sure the results are skewed somewhat.

Regardless of that, the application still likes to let you know how you compare to your friends.

Like, a while ago, I got an email that said that "one or more people" thought that I had "better hair" than my old high school classmate Chris Ramirez. Why they would waste an email telling me this, I don't know.

But today, I got a second, more thorough email, which was nice enough to tell me my ranking amongst many friends.

Apparently my strengths (and the rankings associated with them) are:
#1 most generous
#20 best father (potential)
#21 most helpful

Hey, looka there! Number one on something! But of course, not everything about me is great, so let's take a look at some of my weaknesses:
#113 most reliable
#118 nicest

Now, personally, I think some of these are conflicting. For example, how can I be so generous, yet so not nice?

Apparently, I can sign in to see all of my rankings. I'd actually be interested in seeing them, for kicks, but unfortunately, every time I try to sign in, the page just says "Loading, Please Wait" and nothing ever loads.

Takeaway Point:
I would be a very good father, as I would be very willing to help my kids out with their homework, pinewood derby, etc., and I would be very generous in giving them 9and my wife) what they need. Actually, though, I'd only promise them these things, and fail to deliver (since I'm so unreliable). And when I did deliver, I'd be a real real bitch about it. I'm sure a family psychologist would have a field day with me.

...Oh, and I'd still have better hair than Chris Ramirez.

Monday, February 11, 2008

A New Fruit for Me! (With Bonus THE_BOLSHEVIK Skit!)

So, you may remember from earlier that my current favorite fruit is the pluot.

However, because of the sorrows of seasonality, I haven't had a pluot since the end of September. :(

Thing is, though, I had a fruit today which was very good. Very...different. Would I say that it overtakes the pluot as my new favorite fruit? ...No, i don't think so. It's hard to compare, seeing as there's a gap in taste tests, but I'll just play it safe and say the pluot still reigns supreme.

In recognition of its achievements, though, I'll give this fruit my "Favorite New Fruit of 2008" award.

Ladies and gentlemen, the blood orange.

(And before anyone points it out: yes, I apparently do have a taste for fruits with lighter skins and dark red innards.)

Not only did the orange that I ate tonight taste good, but it was also kinda fun, probably due to some sort of novelty factor. According to the Wikipedia article, they're also good for juice, and they're good for you, too!

Now, I would write some more about the fruit, but THE_BOLSHEVIK hasn't been around in a little while, and I can't help but think this would make a great subject for a mini-skit.

THE_BOLSHEVIK Joins a Creepy Old Man for Dinner
[Setup for scene missing.]

THE_BOLSHEVIK: "It sure was nice of Mr. McMalice to invite us to his home for dinner."
Kris: "Indeed."
McMalice: "Boys, the main course will be starting soon. In the meantime, enjoy these pre-dinner fruits. They're blood oranges. Very good for you. I'll just go make sure everything is ready." (Leaves.)
THE_BOLSHEVIK: "Wow, blood oranges. I haven't had one of these since I was in that Sicilian prison."
Kris: "Why?"
THE_BOLSHEVIK: "Oh, it's a long and uninteresting story. Let's eat up!"
They both take a bite of their oranges. THE_BOLSHEVIK swallows his bite, but has an unsatisfied look on his face. Kris, on the other hand, spits out what he bit. The liquid that comes out is darker, redder, and more blood-like than actual blood orange juice.
Kris: "Ugh!"
THE_BOLSHEVIK: "Hmm, there's something not quite right about these blood oranges."
Kris: "You mean the fact that they apparently have real blood in them?"
THE_BOLSHEVIK: "No, something else. Something I can't quite put my finger on..."
Kris: "'Cause, you know, the fact that they have blood in them is somewhat disconcerting."
THE_BOLSHEVIK: "That's it!"
Kris: "What's it?"
THE_BOLSHEVIK: "There's no sweetness. It's almost completely acerbic. I might as well be eating a lemon here. Also, a little coppery."
Kris: "We should get out of here before McMalice gets back."
Kris gets up to leave, but McMalice is behind him.
McMalice: "Leaving so soon, boy? You didn't like my oranges?"
THE_BOLSHEVIK: "Yo, Mr. M, could we get some sugar for these oranges?"
McMalice: "Oh, you don't need sugar for my oranges! They're special oranges! Do you know what makes them so special?"
Kris: "Yes, yes, they have real blood in them. I established that fact quite some time ago."
McMalice: "Oh...well, weren't you curious where I got the blood from?"
THE_BOLSHEVIK: "I'm more concerned about the flavor, myself."
Kris: "I assumed you're a shady hospital employee."
McMalice: "Both wrong! The fact of the matter is, I got this blood...from my victims."
THE_BOLSHEVIK: "Victims? Oh dear GOD! You're a vampire?!"
McMalice: "No, no, I'm...I'm just a normal murderer."
THE_BOLSHEVIK: "Oh, thank God!"
McMalice: "I'm, I'm still going to kill you though."
THE_BOLSHEVIK: "But, just to clarify, you don't have any supernatural powers."
McMalice: "Well, I...I've evaded the police for several years. That counts for something."
Kris: (Under his breath) "Pfft...I've done more than that."
McMalice: "Anyway! I'm going to kill you both and use your blood to make more of my special blood oranges."
Kris: "To what end?"
McMalice: "Well, the plan is, when I've created enough to perfect the composition, I'll start selling them in farmer's markets, and eventually in the grocery store. If all goes according to plan, within 5 years, McMalice's Authentic Blood Oranges will be the most popular oranges in America?"
THE_BOLSHEVIK: "What about Navels?"
McMalice: "...Fine, they'll become the second most popular oranges in America."
Kris: "Well, it'll also be hard to top Valencias for orange juice production. So you may have to settle for third."
McMalice: "You know what, just come out and say it. You think my plan is crazy, and you think I'm crazy! Say it!"
Kris: "No, we just think you need to look at the big picture rather than just putting all of your eggs in one basket based upon your delusions of grandeur."
McMalice: (On the verge of tears) "You're right. No one will buy my oranges. They taste horrible!"
THE_BOLSHEVIK: "I really think some sugar would help with that."
McMalice: "No, no...the dream is over. Go boys, run free, be happy, and grow old together as a wonderful couple. I'll sit here and reflect upon my fallen orange empire."
THE_BOLSHEVIK: "Kay. I think we'll just get some Korean barbecue. Want any?"
McMalice: "No, I'll be good."
THE_BOLSHEVIK: "Goodbye, Mr. McMalice."
THE_BOLSHEVIK and Kris leave. Cut to scene of them eating in a Korean barbecue restaurant in silence. Suddenly, Kris drops his chopsticks and looks up.
Kris: "Wait, did he think we were gay?"


Saturday, February 9, 2008

Speaking of Photoshopped Things...

You know, according to Google Analytics, my currently most frequently visited post 9even more-so than the V8 Incident) is my Valentine's Eve Special. This has been due to a surge of new visitors in the last couple weeks. No real surprise there, seeing as V-Day is again upon us.

But what's interesting is that the most common entrance pathway is through Google Images. I'm pretty sure that means that everyone who is visiting is doing so because they saw this picture:
(I'm pretty sure I'm going to use this as my 2008 Valentine's Day card for my co-workers/secret admirees, by the way.)

Now, for the life of me, I don't know what people could be searching for to have this picture show up. The only things I could think of that got a result on the first page (and led to TLD) were the following:
Valentine's Eve
Jim's a jerk

Now, one really interesting I saw was when I typed in "Valentine's Day Gone Wrong". Now, this image was the very first thing to pop up. But it wasn't associated with TLD. It was on MySpace, of all things.

So, I checked it out, and saw that it was actually posted on a forum thread about things that people love by some guy named "Jim." Now, I don't care that there was no attribution; I'm happier that it's getting around, and that people like it. What I did care about was where Jim found my picture. So, I sent him a message to find out. I'm excited to see what the answer may be. As I say, seeing my creations make their way on the Internet is a true mark of pride. I'll update as soon as I learn something.

Bunnies and Sunshine!!! <3 <3 <3

I haven't posted a creepy-style photoshopped picture in a while, have I?

Not since October, to be specific.

Well, let's close that gap now!

Here's something I was working on just to test what little skill I have with ImageReady (the Photoshop sister program which makes animated GIFs). I videotaped myself a couple times, and there are different effects I wanna try, so there may be more comign up.

But for the moment, enjoy!

Add your own sound effects, if you don't mind.

If you'd like some thoroughly creepy music to accompany this image, TLD friend Christopher created this lovely piece.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Ahses to Ashes, Part Deux

Ash Wednesday kinda snuck up on me this year.

And by "kinda," I mean "completely and totally."

Yes, I know this happened to me last year. However, this year there are a few things I credit for this lack of preparedness. The first is the fact that it was sooo dang early this year. According to the Wikipedia article, Ash Wednesday can occur no earlier than February 4th (the last time that has happened was in 1818). The 6th ain't too far after that, if you ask me. And the fact that its arranged based on the patterns of the moon...they're really not making any attempt to hide the pagan roots, are they?

Second reason: Being at a state-run school, they don't give much credence to things like Ash Wednesday. It was a lot more visible when we had school Mass for the day. It was even easier to remember because I was usually the one planning the Masses.

Third reason: I've been pretty preoccupied the last week or so, and so I've barely given any thought to what day it is, much less what holiday.

So, imagine the following conversation:
Me: "Hey, why are you wearing Mardi Gras beads?"
Co-Worker: "Because it's Mardi Gras."
Me: ".....Huh."

And that's how it was brought to the forefront of my mind (until the next morning, when I barely caught myself before eating an orange). The only meal I ended up having that day was a bottle of soy milk and a "tuna" sandwich. (I put it in parentheses because the tuna they used [it was a pre-made sandwich] was a weird consistency. A paste, almost; more fit for astronauts than for the average college student.

What I really wanted to make mention of, though, was the Ash Wednesday service that I went to. Due to a schedule that kept me busy from the time I woke up (which was, admittedly, 2.5 hours after I was supposed to) until 8 o'clock (I'll talk about some of these things later), I was forced to attend the service at 10pm at the ugliest church around, Newman Hall.

Now, one thing was pretty interesting. The lights were off in the church. I don't know if this was to save the environment or because they wanted to create a special mood of sorts, but at first I found it to be a little annoying. After all, I was planning on scoping out the place to see if there was someone I recognized, as the place was jam-packed with students. Alas, I couldn't, so I contented to find an open seat.

The place has its pros and cons. One example of a pro, for example, would be the music. For example, at this service they had some guy plucking away at a nice Spanish guitar. Cons would include the homily. The priest was just a little...well, he wasn't very riveting, I can tell you that.

In then end, though, there was one moment which really stood out to me about the whole Mass. And that was at the sign of peace. I was turning to shake my neighbor's hand, and when I looked at her face, all I could see was a smile. A warm and (from what I could tell) genuine smile. And she took my hand and said "Peace be with you." And at that moment, I had a "huh" moment. If you think about it, the whole ritual is pretty, for lack of a better word, nice. Think about it, you turn to someone you've never met before, a complete stranger, and you wish them peace in their life. You don't know what they've done or what they plan to do, and yet you tell them that you want them to be at peace. That's really nice.

It was also at that moment that I saw the (probably unintentional) beauty of the lights being as dim as they were. I still don't know what that person looked like. Her face was only a shadow. In a way, that was a good thing. No matter what we say to the contrary, we judge others, especially by looks. Often when you see someone, you are preoccupied with their looks (either their fashion virtues or faults) and forget about who's really there. The fact that I couldn't see any faces changed that. In a sense, everyone was equal in the shadows.

But what is really interesting (and symbolic, in a way) is that the only thing that can stand out in the darkness is a smile. That was the only part of that person's face I saw. Had her mouth been closed, I probably wouldn't have seen anything at all. But with a true sense of happiness and good will, I was able to see something; in a sense, the only thing that mattered.

Anyway, that made my day, even though it happened towards the end of it.

So, that was my day, and I...


What's that? What did I decide to do for Lent?

Well, um...I'm not sure yet.

That's not to say I'm not doing anything! It's just that I'm currently giving up things already as part of my diet change of lifestyle diet. For example, I'm currently abstaining from sweets, wheats, and mammal meats (that is, I still eat fish and bird). Now, this isn't hard and firm, and can get fudged around depending on the situation. If you'll notice, I ate a tuna sandwich (with wheat bread) on Ash Wednesday, but it seems to be a good system.

So what does this leave me with? Well, until I can think of something more specific, I guess I'll have to just say that I'll try to be a better person. And smile more in the dark. :)

They're Not as Roly-Poly as the Song Would Like You to Believe

The Time: February 6, 2008, 12:15pm

The Place: A normal sidewalk in Berkeley

The Sight:Sometimes, this city is weird.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

I Think, as a Marketer, I'm Obligated to Write on Ads From Time to Time

I almost never, ever click on the ads that appear on MySpace. Mainly because they fall into one of three categories.

1. The Activity Ads - These are flash-based ads that make you accomplish some s
ort of ridiculous task (often against some computer opponent) in order to win a prize. Examples include "Eat the hot dogs to win a ringtone," and "Swat the flies to win an iPod!" Of course, the wide selection of activities is tempered somewhat by the fact that it all involves clicking a button again and again as fast as you can.

2. The Personal Ad - Mostly by the tasteless dating service True. These have gotten a lot more sophisticated in recent years. They began as simple pictures of, I dunno, naked chicks holding teddy bears in front of their not-safe-for-work areas, with cliché phrases like "It's nice to be naughty." Apparently, a lot of other online dating services hate True, because it completely destroys the good image they tried to build. Anyway, nowadays True tries to "trick" you into believing that there is a live female right now(!) ready to have a steamy conversation with you. They accomplish this (again, with flash) with a fake instant messaging window in which "kcblondie" (who enjoys improv cooking and jewelry) types in:
"hi. wanna chat sometime" "hello?" "are you there? lol." "come on, you can ask me anything ..."
Complementing this witty banter is a clip of some chick typing, laughing, waving, and adjusting her blouse, all set on a continuous loop, ala Speed. Personally, I think it may have been more realistic if the video actually synced with the instant messages, seeing as half th
e messages were sent while she was adjusting her blouse, not even looking at the keyboard. But I digress.

3. The Cell Phone Magician - These are lovely ads that say "Find out your horoscope!" and "LEARN WHO HAS A CRUSH ON YOU!" "Good Lord!" you say, "I may finally learn if Sand
ra fancies me as I her." So, you click on it. You're sent to a website that has a cartoon crystal ball or something. You have to enter in your gender, then your age, then number? Ah, you see, because they'll text you with your crush's name. "Well, that seems painless," you say. Sure does, until you read the fine print and see that you're paying $6.99 or $9.99 for these tidbits. And Lord help you if you use AT&T. Those bastards will tear a full $19.99 off your wallet's corpse each month on these plans. The kicker is, I'm pretty sure that they just send out the same thing to everyone who applies: "Your crush's name is: Doris."

Now, to be fair, there's more than just those three types. But you'd be amazed exactly how m
uch of MySpace they fund. And even when there is a (relatively) normal ad on MySpace, I still usually don't care. hence, I generally click on about 0.02% of the ads I see there.

But sometimes - just sometimes - there is something that catches my attention for some reason.

Like the other day, I saw an ad for something called Fathead. Remember those life-size cardboard stand-up figures? Well, these are like them, except they're some sort of sticker-like object, you stick them on your wall, and they're ridiculously expensive for what you get.

Well, this ad that I saw had a picture of the WWE star the Undertaker. Now, I'll make a sm
all confession. When I was in my early teens, I was a fan of the WWF (back when it was still called the WWF) and the 'Taker was one of my favorites (which actually goes back to an old WWF arcade game from the early 90s). So, I decided to click on this picture to see what it was about.

And that's when it showed this as an example of what you can do with their products:
Parents, quick note: if this is in your child's room, you are a bad parent! I mean, good gravy. It's bad enough that this 11-year-old's room has this life-size image of a guy with a trench coat and an angry face. But the fact that it looks like he's levitating is really what would give me nightmares if I were in that kid's shoes. Extra covers over my head, thank you.

Now, to be fair, that background picture is a stock one they use for all their different designs, so you could just as easily have Tiki Barber on there 9whoever the hell that's supposed to be).

However, I'm torn between whether I find the kid's bedroom to be the most ridiculous, or this one right here.
Ah, yes, nothing adds a touch of casual professionalism like a tattooed monster on your office wall. Imagine what being interviewed by this guy must be like.

So, anyway, if I've taught you nothing else (and I think that may be the case), it's to not bother clicking on MySpace ads. Not only is it taxing on your computer (what with spyware and the like), but it's taxing on your eternal soul.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

What The...?

What's this weird button-like thing on the left here, underneath my profile picture?

Maybe I should click it...

See what it does...

Or where it leads to...

(It's too late tonight. I'll have something real tomorrow.)

Sunday, February 3, 2008

All About the Super Bowl!!!

Just kidding. ^_^

I didn't even know who was playing in the Superbowl until the New York Times emailed me a "breaking news bulletin" announcing the winner.

So, rest assured, this will not be about the Superbowl.

Maybe, after I watch some collection of all the commercials, I'll write something about that. But as for the sport, I had absolutely no interest in it. Sorry, Patriots and Giants fans (if any).

However, seeing as I'm about to start my third week of school, it may seem logical to talk about what classes I'm taking this semester. So that's exactly what I'm going to do!

I'll start off by saying that I tried to give myself a less intense semester this time around, mainly because I'm going to be looking for summer internships this semester (soon this semester) and I'd also like to take part in a business case competition or two. Don't worry, I'm not in any danger of falling behind in my unit count. In order to have enough units to graduate, I need to take 27 total units over the next three semesters. However, in order to remain a full-time student, I need to take 39 anyway. So, I'll be A-OK.

I also tried to schedule my classes to begin relatively later in the day (that is to say, not at 8am and 9:30 everyday). And I think I was relatively successful in doing so. My "First-Class-Time" schedule throughout the week is

Now, while you may think this makes me look like the laziest bum alive, I think I can redeem myself my noting that my wake-up time throughout the week looks like this:

One of the reasons for this is because I'm currently on a new (and, so far, successful) diet and exercise regime.

(Quick aside: It irks me when people say, "Oh, you shouldn't do diet and exercise. You should do a change of lifestyle." What the hell does that mean? Seriously, the only difference between a diet and a "change of lifestyle" is how long you can keep it up. Plus, "change of lifestyle" sounds so new-age and pretentious. That is why I refuse to call it that.)

Anyhoo, I'm waking up at 8am every day so that I can go to our exercise room for 30 minutes of a high-intensity elliptical workout. No, it's not as satisfying as being able to type on my laptop when I was back at home, but the handlebars aren't positioned correctly, and I don't have as much time (especially when there are other people waiting). What I end up doing is downloading movies (nature documentaries, to be exact) to my iPod and watch them on a tiny little screen. Not very satisfying, but it gets the job done.

The rest of my morning time is spent taking a shower, checking out the Internet, and getting anything that needs to get done, done. Then off to class. And what are my classes? Well, let's take a look!

UGBA 101B - Macroeconomics
A required class. A lot of people in the economics department like to say "Macro makes up about 20% of economics, but it takes up 50% of economics lessons." That's seems so true. And it often seems as though it's less relevant and interesting to what I'm going to be doing than Microeconomics. However, the professor is very enthusiatic, so I appreciate that. It should keep me awake.

And, yes, there is a lot of talk about the current state of affairs in the country and the world. So it's relevant in that sense. So it's got that going for it. Overall, it seems like it's going to be okay.

UGBA 102B - Managerial Accounting
Another required class. As a recap, I hated financial accounting last semester. I did fine in it, but gah! is it boring and tedious and...blah. Well, managerial accounting seems like its more relevant to my purposes than financial accounting. You see, what financial accounting boils down to is the annual report for a company; the balance sheet, the income statement, etc. Lots of journal entries, lots of tedium, lots of ech. Managerial accounting, on the other hand, is about the internal accounting aspects; that is, seeing if certain practices are cost effective. And it has a lot less in the way of journal entries. So far, it's looking much better than financial accounting.

But still: Accounting. -_-

UGBA 160 - Consumer Behavior
Not a required class. This is, of course, related to my marketing focus, and I can tell you already, it's fascinating. The professor has some sort of experiment each session, where we learn about some new aspect about consumer behavior.

For example, did you know that in a blind taste test, the majority of people preferred the taste of tap water to bottled? Yet when people knew what they were drinking, the results skewed heavily toward the bottled water. It's all perception, doncha know.

A funnier thing is that my professor said in class, "Before this water experiment was carried out, many of the test subjects said that they could tell the difference between tap and bottled water, and preferred the bottled, yet when they took part in the blind test, they preferred the tap." What's funny is that when I was describing this experiment to one of my co-workers (also at Haas) he told me, "Oh, I can tell the difference between bottled and tap water." And when I tried to tell him that he likely couldn't he insisted he could. It's weird; we've been trained to "know" the difference when there isn't any real difference to be known!

UGBA 96 - Personal Finance
Another non-required class. Hell, I'm not even getting any credit for it one way or another. Why am I taking it, then? Simple: life skills. I've been told that classes such as a personal finance class are ones which many people which they had been able to take in college. And the opportunity is now presenting itself. So, I think it will be useful for me in the long run to take this class. Plus, of the three different lecturers, I've already had two of them, and I have a good relationship with them both. So it shouldn't be bad.

Classics 198 - The Star Wars Galaxy
"What the hell?"

I'll bet dollars to doughnuts that this was your first thought when you read that title. Here I have four different business classes and then one on Star Wars? Well, I think I needed to balance out all that serious stuff with something fun. So, I decided to take a DeCal. A DeCal, for those not in the know, stands for "Democratic Education at Cal". It's basically a class in which a student facilitator teaches other students. If you think that's a stupid idea...well, you're wrong. After all, this blog was the product of a DeCal. Show some respect, whippersnapper!

Anyway, I did a lot of preparation in choosing which DeCal I would take. There were 80 or so of them, but I weeded them down according to my own availability in the early evening (when the majority take place) and general interest. In the end, I narrowed the selection down to the Star Wars one and one about Lewis Carroll. I do have a genuine interest in reading Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, because the wordplay in them is very intriguing. However, a class about Star Wars, regardless of how academically useless it was, just seemed fun!

I did have some reservations, though. I was worried - honestly worried - that the class was going to be filled with socially awkward nerds who could finish a sentence without stuttering.
Nerd Voice: "N,no...that's...that's not what Darth...Plagueis would have said. He...he would have been...he would have been more patient."
And so on and so forth. And before you try to tell me I'm generalizing, I know at least two guys just like this. You know, the kind of acquaintance you feel awkward around. And I was seriously concerned that one or both would be in the class.

However, everyone seemed to be fairly normal. Well, there were some eccentric ones, but they were actually quite sociable, so that's a good balance, I think.

And, as an interesting note, I found out two days later that my facilitator is actually a resident in my building. I've probably seen him before, but just never paid him any mind. However, this puts us in a very interesting position. I don't plan on being in a situation where I don't pass the class, but even if I was, I could just tell him, "Fail me, eh? That sounds to me like a case of failure to comply with hall staff. ID, please."

(Oh, funny story: Notice that the class is Classics 198. Well, in order to get the class approved, the facilitator had to make a proposal to the department chair as to how the class was related to the subject. He admitted that his reasoning was a bit of a stretch: "Well, Rome used to be a republic and then became an empire, just like the Galactic Republic." Apparently, it worked.)

So anyway, that's my Superbowl school year primer. Any questions?