Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mad Men

Betty and I are almost done watching the first season of Mad Men.

Betty wanted to watch it because it's the first basic cable series to win the Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series. But I was originally attracted to the series because I thought it would be about angry males beating each other up.

"A syndicated drama on AMC about brutal violence amongst our society's psychologically imbalanced population," I thought. "Just like Ultimate Fighting Championship, only on AMC!"

Instead, the series is about an ad executive in the 1960's, which is actually very fascinating because it shows you what life was like back in the 60's. For instance, back then there was no air conditioner, people - including pregnant women - smoked and drank all the time, women and African-Americans (who were not called African-Americans at the time) didn't really have good jobs or any jobs at all, and worst of all, there was no Internet.

No Internet?! But how did they play World of Warcraft or download porn without the Internet?!?

Somehow people survived.

The things we take for granted today, like "smoking is bad for you", were not known back then. Some of the safety rules that we all take for granted weren't known back then either. In one episode a little girl runs around with a plastic dry-cleaning bag over her head, and instead of fretting over the girl possibly suffocating, the mom wants to know if her dry cleaning has been wrinkled.

Every episode of Mad Men includes at least one scene of what would now be considered sexual harassment. Watching these scenes make me cringe, because I can just imagine a company getting the crap sued out of it for that type of behavour.

So in many ways Man Men is so interesting because it shows you how far we've come as a society: we're better at informing the public about dangerous activities or behaviors, we're better at integrating different sexes and races into the workplace, etc.

But in other ways, it shows you how much further we have to go. For instance, women still do not get paid the same wage as a man for most jobs. African-Americans still do not get the same opportunities for school or jobs.

Fifty years from now, when people are directly connected to the web via wireless modems implanted directly into their bodies, they'll be able to download TV shows about how people in the 2000's didn't know that global warming was real or how people today didn't stop all the elephants from being killed off, and those people will think, "But it's so obvious now, why didn't they know back then?"

And then those people will launch into a wireless, mobile game of World of Warcraft, and wonder how the neanderthals of the early 21st century ever played the game while sitting in one place for hours on end.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

5K Run/Walk to Remember

On Saturday Betty, Anne and I went to the annual 5K "Run/Walk to Remember" to raise money for Alzheimer's research. The walk went through LSU's campus, wound down Sorority Row, and ended at the old golf course.

And leading the pack: The Tanory family.

I'm a computer programmer, so my daily exercise involves walking to and fro the coffee bar, as well as sprinting to the bathroom every morning at 9:15. And I'm usually winded after both of those activities. It's been a while since I've walked a 5K - or even .1K - but we walked the race because Betty and I both had a grandparent that died of Alzheimer's and we wanted to support research to combat this disease.

Betty and I took turns pushing Anne's stroller during the race. At times it was difficult to speed walk with the stroller, but at other times the stroller came in handy - like the times we swerved Anne's stroller directly into another walker who was trying to overtake us.

We speed walked like nobody's business, and at the end of the race I had all of the same ailments that a marathon runner would have: a burning pain in my side, blisters on my heels, and bloody nipples. Betty was fine, though - she barely broke a sweat.

Like I said... it's been a while since I've done any exercise.

Today I'm going to recover from my grueling 5K walk by laying on the couch and watching football all day. But next week I'm thinking of starting the Couch to 5K exercise program, but only if my nipples have healed by then.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Singing Sensation

I love singing in my car because I can sing as loud as I want and nobody can hear me. Plus it's the only place anyone will let me sing. I've been kicked out of karaoke bars before because my voice is that bad.

But as much as I love to sing in my car, I've always quit singing when stopping at a red light and/or when someone pulls alongside me. If a really good song is on I might cover my mouth in a pretend "deep thought" pose and softly sing into the palm of my hand.

But today something quite different happened. I was singing along with a great song when I stopped at red light and a car pulled alongside me. There were two adults and a child in the car. I was already mid-chorus, so I just decided to keep singing. And when I say "singing" I mean belting the song out at the top of my lungs, using arm motions and even turning my car's dome light on and off to simulate stage lighting.

Like I said, it was a really good song.

At first the people alongside me looked at me like I was crazy. The adults tried to ignore me, but the kid in the back pointed and laughed. Then the parents looked at me out of the corner of their eyes with what seemed like pitying smiles before breaking out in laughter as well.

I didn't care about their laughter, though, because I was so into my song by that point that my little car couldn't contain my voice, and I felt that I had to let it out. So I rolled down my window and sang the lyrics directly at the car on the side of me. And yes, I was still using arm motions.

I've never seen anyone go from laughter to total embarrassment that fast. They were so shocked and embarrassed that they sped off, right into the middle of a busy intersection. Luckily for everyone involved, the two cars that hit them were only going 20 mph, so there was minimal damage.

And as I passed them on the street I hung my head out the window and sang a sweet melody to them. But I guess they didn't think I had a good voice because instead of cheering for my performance they instead chose to flick me the bird.

Oh well. Maybe I'll just stick to not singing at red lights.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

I joined the Men's Club at my church, and my first manly event was a "chicken cleaning" last Friday night in preparation for our chicken dinner fundraiser this past Sunday.

Cleaning chickens is about as glorious as it sounds. Fifteen other guys and I armed ourselves with aprons and latex gloves, then ripped fat and "thumbed" organs out of 450 chicken halves for 4 hours. Blood, guts and salmonella - who could ask for a better Friday night?

And as it turns out, ripping fat out of chickens is my specialty.

On Sunday, Betty took Anne to church while I went out back to help the guys cook and box the chicken. It was a lot of fun. Did I mention that I got out of church to help box chicken?

Betty was worried that I wouldn't eat chicken again after seeing how it was prepared, but it didn't bother me that much. If it were up to me I'd pounce on a live chicken and rip into its neck with my mighty incisors. I'm a neanderthal, after all. It's the thrill of the hunt!

The next Men's Club event is a fish fry for the church's fair. If there's no fat to rip off of a fish's body then I don't know how my mad fat-ripping skillz will be put to use. Oh well... there's always the next chicken dinner.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Stimulating Your Economy

I'm pleased to announce that I have personally, and rather gently, stimulated your economy. Oh yeah....

It all started when I wrote my previous blog about buying an HDTV. A day or so later a friend of mine Facebooked me to say that her husband wanted an HDTV but that she thought it was too expensive.

And yes, I just used Facebook as a verb.

"Too expensive?" I replied. "Well yes they're expensive - but your husband will be eternally in your debt. Isn't that worth dropping a few grand?"

It's hard to argue with logic like that. And wouldn't you know it, but I recently found out that the couple in question bought a 50" HDTV.

Economy: stimulated. You're welcome, America.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

HDTV: It's Better than Real Life

You might have noticed that I haven't been blogging quite as frequently this month. The reason is because I have a new HDTV, and I can't stop looking at it.

And I don't mean that as a figure of speech... I seriously can't look away. In comparison to my new TV, the real world looks so bleak, colorless and - dare I say it - analog.

And with college football on all day Saturday and pro football on Sunday and Monday, I have no reason to leave the couch for three days. This past weekend I resorted to wearing diapers so that I didn't have to leave my precious TV when I had to go to the bathroom.

Don't judge me until you've bought your own HDTV.

Of course, buying a new HDTV has a lot of extra costs associated with it. You can't just buy a new HDTV, plug the cable in and expect a great picture. You have to get an HD receiver. You also have to buy expensive cables to go from your receiver to your TV. You need HD channels, a Blu-Ray player (why not?) and as many other gadgets that you can fit into your newly bought TV stand, because that's just the way one buys a TV nowadays.

And since I'm completely useless, I had to pay someone else to put everything together for me.

(By the way, if you do buy a new Blu-Ray player, make sure it's wireless and can connect to your NetFlix queue. Yes, it's as awesome as it sounds.)

Basically, I've been like Alex DeLarge from A Clockwork Orange undergoing the Ludovico Technique, except with me it's self-inflicted. And I wouldn't go back for anything!

[Picture: Me using the Ludovico Technique on myself]

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Operation Donald: Success!

Great news everyone - my search for a Donald Duck outfit is over!

I've been bidding on Donald Duck costumes on eBay for about three weeks now. I've bid, and lost, on about one costume per day. And every time I lost another bid I learned more about the automatic bidding system.

The automatic bidding system doesn't work exactly as I thought it did. The way it works, for realzies, is that you enter the maximum amount that you'd be willing to spend on an item and eBay only bets as much as it takes for you to be the highest bidder. So if an item is $45 and you bid $75, if it only costs $46 to be the highest bidder then that's what eBay makes your bid. Then if someone else bids $50, eBay knows that you're willing to spend more than that so it ups your bid for you.

So my hobby for the past few weeks has been to ruin people's hopes for a cheap purchase. I'll wait for a Donald Duck outfit to have ten seconds left to be sold, then up my maximum bid and wait for another person's automatic bid to go into effect. I like to imagine someone jumping up and down screaming, "I'm going to win a Donald Duck outfit for $15!" then seeing them slump over when they end up paying $85, b/c I've sniped their bid within ten seconds of the sale ending.

eBay is like Warcraft, but instead of killing orcs and trolls I get to make real people shell out more dough for things that I want but know someone richer than me is willing to pay more for.

Consider me a Level 2 eBayer with +7 dexterity while wearing my Donald Duck outfit. Now if I can just get a handle on my newfound eBay addiction.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

eBaying at the Moon

Betty and I have been searching for a Donald Duck costume for Halloween, and one within our price range was recently up for sale on eBay. The costume was set to sell at $75, which we thought was a good deal as every other similar costume was $150 or more. So we made a play for it.

Bidding on eBay isn't as simple as it once was. You now not only complete with real people sitting at their computers waiting for the price to go up... but you're also dealing with the "automatic bidding" system. This means that anytime you bid on an item, your action triggers another account to automagically bid on the same item. So basically, anytime you bid you're shooting yourself in the foot because you're going to be immediately outbid. The goal on eBay now is to wait as long as you can before placing a bid and hope your opponent's automatic bidding system fails to kick in on time.

Betty and I decided to wait until 10 seconds left remained on the Donald Duck costume before betting on it. We sat and watched the timer count down from two minutes. At the 90 second mark we were smiling, and at the one minute mark we were laughing, clapping and singing.

We were finally going to get our Donald Duck outfit!

At thirty seconds I was literally bouncing in my chair. I was so excited, but not excited enough to actually get off my fat butt. My daughter squealed as Betty and I laughed maniacal laughter. But at 15 seconds I was standing on top of the chair, screaming at the computer that I was so happy to finally have my Donald Duck outfit.

At ten seconds Betty told me to bid on the item, but I waited. "Ten seconds is too long!" I shouted, while staring at the computer. Ten, nine, eight....

"Bid on it!" Betty screamed, "Before it's too late!"

"I'm going on three!" I said as I typed in my bet.

Seven, six, five....

"You're going to blow it! Bid on it!" Betty yelled.

Four, three...

"Click!" I yelled, as I clicked the "Place Bid" button. Then I jumped for joy!

And nothing happened.

"@$)(@&$)%@(!!!!" I yelled, as I lunged back to the desk to click the mouse again. "Click, damn you!"

A new web page appeared, saying simply: The item you have bid on has expired.

Silence. We were stunned. I kept looking at the computer, as if the web page would change, as if it were all a bad dream, but it still showed the same message. I had lost the bid. My click didn't actually "click". I don't know what I did - maybe I clicked and dragged instead of just clicking - but whatever I did obviously didn't work.

"Should have gone on ten," Betty said, and as she stormed out of the room she yelled, "But you never listen to me, do you?"

eBay, why have you forsaken me?

Friday, September 04, 2009

The Face of LSU Football Season

Which picture will be the face of the LSU Football Season?

Will it be Ecstatic in Victory:

[Picture: Ecstatic in Victory]

Or Upset in Defeat?

[Picture: Upset in Defeat]

As LSU football fans, you can either sit back, enjoy the football season and hope for the best, or you can get off your butt and go kick an opposing player in his knee cap. The decision is yours. But just remember that we will all live with the ramifications.

Desert Camel Hero

Forget about Guitar Hero - I have a new favorite toy: Desert Camel Hero!

[Picture: Desert Camel Hero]

My cousin Elizabeth brought this back to me from her trip to China and India. My daughter is scared of it and will scream when I turn it on - and my wife thinks it's freaky as well. Which makes it all the more fun, of course.

Here's a video that someone posted on YouTube that shows the Desert Camel Hero in action.

Interestingly enough, the guy on the camel is holding a guitar but the song played when you turn the camel on is the Beverly Hills Cop theme song. So either the Desert Camel Hero is a really gift guitar player, or he just really loves Eddie Murphy movies from 1984 (and who could blame him?).

So now my life goals are as follows:

1. Learn how to play the Beverly Hills Cop theme song on my guitar.
2. Find a camel to ride.
3. Ride the camel while playing the Beverly Hills Cop theme song.
4. Be totally awesome like my Desert Camel Hero toy.

Thanks, Elizabeth, for thinking of me on your trip to China and India! Other cousins, take note - you are all now ranked #2 on the Best Cousin list. You'll have to buy my love with something even more awesome than Desert Camel Hero. And good luck with that!

The Ladybug Cake

My wife is making a "practice" ladybug cake for her friend's daughter's first birthday. I think it came out pretty good. Check it out:

[Picture: Practice Ladybug Cake]

Betty asked me if I could think of any improvements to the cake. But this, like all questions that my wife asks me, is a trick question. If I say "No" then she'll assume that I didn't put any thought into it, and will think I'm just saying that because I don't want to hurt her feelings. But if I say "Yes" then she'll think her work wasn't good enough.

Since I was going to get in trouble either way, I decided to just be honest.

"Have the ladybug rip an aphid apart in its mighty fangs," I suggested, "and that way the cake is not only tasty but is also educational. Put some insect blood dripping down the ladybug's mouth and down the side of the cake - that will make a good conversation piece at the birthday party."

Betty thought about it and said, "Well, aphids are ladybugs' natural prey. But that might be too gruesome for a baby's first birthday cake."

Baby's gotta learn sometimes, I thought. But instead I said:

"Ladybugs exhibit a phenomenon known as aposematism which is when the coloring is bright as a warning to other animals. I bet the baby will miss the irony that we are eating a brightly colored animal cake on purpose, but it's like sooo ironic. I am ROFLing in my head right now as I imagine us doing that, aren't you?"

That's when Betty said that I could go back to blogging.