multi-post #2: nader, weiner circle, kfc, kimmel's f'ing ben affleck

February 25, 2008 · 0 comments

ralph nader opts to run for president... again

today ralph nader announced that he would again run for president as an independent. i commend ralphy for continuing on with his quest even though he must know to himself that it is futile. he is a serious candidate who really wants to make a difference and embraces democracy and the idea that there should be other alternatives to the stagnation of a two party system. but ultimately it is a fools errand.

this will mark nader's fifth attempt at the white house, and i would guess his last. the guy is 74 after all. his most memorable run would surely have been in 200 where he is widely regarded as tipping the scales in favor of george w. bush against al gore. nader's 2.74% of the popular vote would largely have gone to gore this ensuring his election. but alas, that was not to be.

of course the next 8 years of running the country into the ground could not have been fully seen at the time. nader was simply exercising his rights as a citizen. there is nothing wrong with that. at least there was some real political intent as opposed to all the other pseud-candidates who clutter up the ballot every year with no real desire for the job. i don't know yet (nor does anyone i imagine) exactly what role nader will have this year. with the party battles still so up in the air, it's hard to tell what impact he will have. i will venture to say though that the presidential election won't be as close as it was 8 years ago so nader's paltry number of votes likely won't swing it either way.

wiener circle hamburgers

just read an article in macleans about a new burger joint called the weiner circle in chicago. an interesting concept to say the least. basically go in and get berated by the staff while you wait for your order. sure you can jab back, but, it's literally these people's jobs, so prepare to be taken down. i can see why it's a tourist attraction, it looks like a real experience. it's admirable for the people behind this counter to be able to take it like they do. especially with all the shitheads out there who take this too far. but when you open the door to this type of activity, you will bring out the worst in people, without fail. the people who filmed this shouldn't have blurred out the faces of the more ignorant and offensive idiots who take what is supposed to be meant as fun and turn it into something vicious and derogatory. they should be exposed like those rv riding jackasses in borat. if you say it, especially when there's cameras around, you should be held accountable for it.

kentucky fried salmonella

while w're on the subject of questionable service, let me tell you the story of what is now my last experience at kfc (not a lifetime ban, but indefinitely for sure). a friend and i opted to hit the kfc for a quick bite. i opted for the big crunch as it is much less nauseating than getting a couple pieces of original recipe. you feel bad, but not as bad. we both asked for no mayo. as we stood by the counter witnessing the exceptionally slow service, we watched as the assembler bring out the large 'mayo dispenser' (ie caulking gun) and splurt out a generous dollup of mayo on each of our sandwiches. so as the slid the tray to us, we slid it back noting the non-absence of mayo and prepared to wait another eon.

of course they didn't have more than one already pre-made in a warmer, so my friend who ordered first got his while i continued to wait, assured that it would be 6 minutes. as the rest of my food got cold, i waited. finally the new sandwich was put in my hands and i walked to the table. i took a bite, chewed, swallowed, none the wiser. as i looked down to take the next bite, the sight of raw chicken confronted me.

now angrier, i marched ot the counter and threw down sandwich and launched into a tirade making sure eveyrone heard me. some highlights include:
- "this is fucking raw."
- "i want my money back, i'm not paying for this shit."
- "are you trying to fucking kill me?"

none of them would make eye contact and each puttered about trying feabily to rectify the situation. with the combo costing $6.99 + tax, i was only given $7 back but was so flabbergasted, that i didn't debate it. the hardest part was keeping a straight face as i could hear my friend laughing loudly at the scene i was creating. they offered to also replace my meal at no charge as if i still wanted to eat anything else they peddled. i walked back to my seat to finish the rest of my meal.

then someone brought me my replacement and made another insinscere apology. i said to my friend "i bet this has mayo on it." sure enough, as i opened it, mayo was everywhere. now completely incensed, i ate my remaining fries, picked up the sandwich and on my way out the door, pitched the mayo-laden thing against the wall where we were sitting, completely fed up.

now, everyone has a job to do, some more difficult than others. there is a reason that fast food joint employees make what they do, because it isn't rocket science. they have one task, to cook food properly. stick it in a fryer for the perscribed amount of time and serve it. simple, right? one key difference is when I screw up in my job, i don't make people violently ill or kill them. if i screwed up in my job, i'd get fired, but not these chumps. it likely won't even be remembered a week from now. fortunately i didn't get ill, but i won't be back there anytime soon.

jimmy kimmel gets back at his girlfriend

if you haven'te seen these already, you really should. there is actually some good stuff on late night tv. shocking i know.

here's the first from sarah silverman. i wasn't a fan of her show. i thought it was kinda dumb and unfunny. her standup was okay, but nothing impressive. but this is comedic gold.

and here's jimmy's response. while he directly rips off silverman, his execution was on a much grander scale and that is where this is comedic gold as well. i hope there is an unedited version of this somewhere, because there's a lot of bleeps

multi-post #1: castro, shreddies, hitman hangers & mario paint

February 20, 2008 · 0 comments

in an effort to blog a bit more, i'm going to introduce a new style that is less long form and more a couple of things that i encounter, pique my interest or have a relatively strong bent toward writing about but none that warrant a full post unto itself. so i give you the multi-post blog. i'll still do the dedicated posts, but i find those harder to compose regularly.

fidel castro steps down
upon hearing that castro was stepping down as the leader of cuba, and reading some stories about it, i was immediately confused. i heard words like parlaiment, and legislature. we are talking about the same dictatorial, communist regime right? a quick stroll through the cuban government section on wikipedia confirms an enigmatic political structure that seems nothing more than a thin coat of pseudo-democratic paint over tyranny.

but man can castro rock the hell out of a track suit at political functions

diamond shreddies... for real?

has everyone seen the new ad campaign for diamond shreddies? the word audacity comes to mind. i'm well aware that post has their tongue planted firmly in their cheek on this one, but it does take some gall to invest that much money in a piece of faux news and to splash it across that many advertising channels. while it's kind of scratch-your-head funny, the risk to me is consumer perception of the brand veering toward "this is stupid." vs. "ha ha ha, that's kinda funny and clever."

better endings

on the weekend we saw another tale of hitmen called 'in bruges', the week prior having seen 'no country for old men.' while both were okay movies, both suffered from an unsatisfying ending. i won't spoil either, but they were sopranos-like in that there was no finality to either picture. i don't get this style of film making where the audience is left wanting more and will never get it. neither will have a sequel, and neither warrant one. so why can't the movie makers give us an actual ending that, as movie-goers, we require to complete our experience? and "in the sake of art" isn't a good enough excuse. movies are meant to give you a story and stories have endings. otherwise it's just an unformed thought and negates the existance of the picture altogether. why tell a story with no outcome?

mario paint mixer

anyone remember mario paint on the snes? probably not. not many people had it much less played it. i did though. it was a really basic proagram where you could draw 8 bit pictures that could have vitually no detail, make animations of no more than 8 frames and make music of 100 beats or less using the sounds from the mario games to date. well apparently there is a bit of renaissance around the music maker. i came across a number of youtube videos of people making popular songs using it. someone ported it to the pc and made a little program out of it that you can find here. as with any extremely limited and archaic form of production, i commend those who are able to recreate any semblence of the real thing with these bits of computer generated sound.

not really a contest slam dunk contest

February 18, 2008 · 0 comments

can a man win the dunk contest when he doesn't actually dunk? it would seem so. this dunk was nothing special, save for the outfit, but that's just a gimmick. it was impressive though to see superman here literally throw the ball through the hoop from about 2-3 feet from the rim. this wasn't even his best dunk on the night. that was his tap off the glass alley-oop for a power slam. but he could have done anything and still won this competition. the other no name, second stringers didn't stand a chance with their uninventive dunks. there hasn't been such a rout of the other contestants since vince carter strung together the single greatest line-up of dunks ever in 2000.

three card poking

February 13, 2008 · 0 comments

ah the three card poker. the current mainstay of my time in a casino. it's quite a simple game for those that don't know it (basic game play here and here) and pretty fun to play. it's not as serious as poker tables have become and not quite the work that blackjack has evolved to.

let me explain a bit of the gameplay so i can relate my experience at the table. there are three ways to play. the first is pairs plus where you only get paid when you hit a pair or higher hand (see table below). the second is ante & play where you ante-up before seeing the cards and pay an equivalent amount after seeing your cards to continue playing them. the third way is to play both obviously.

Pair Plus Payout

Straight Flush40-10.22%
3 of a kind25-10.24%

there's no doubt that the money is to be had by playing pairs plus. i can't debate that. there could be some big payouts in there. but it is also the place where you can lose the most money. if you're just playing the ante & play route, then your payout is 1-1 on both the ante and play bets if you beat the dealer and 1-1 on just the ante bet if the dealer doesn't play. there's no big money in there. not immediately anyway.

when i sat down at the table, my tactic was to just do the ante & play route. take the long road, or be the tortoise as it were. the minute i sat down and only put a bet on the ante and not pairs plus everyone at the table and the dealer questioned it out loud to me. this happened each of the 5 times i sat down to play. it's funny that they're all trained to do this because it's the biggest cash grab.

the dealer knows the casino makes tons of money on pairs plus losses so is more or less encouraging me to do it. and the other players are blinded by the potential for that one big payout that's bound to happen and would kick themselves if they weren't playing for it and it did. just look at the probabilities of you actually hitting a pairs plus hand. it's crazy to continue to throw money at the pairs plus for that faint chance of chasing a high hand. does it happen? of course it does, randomness always comes around to hit the most improbable. but what is the cost to get there? i think it would be interesting to track a players pairs plus losses compared to the wins to illustrate this, but i'm almost certain of which side it favors.

so each time i was asked, i responded with "i have a system" and quietly went about my business. while my stack shrunk and grew like the rest of the players (mostly the latter when it's all said and done because it is a casino after all), it went down in half the time. i happily forewent playing the pairs plus (except on a few hands where i felt lucky and sometimes it paid out) thus eliminating a whole bet while all the other players made twice as many bets each hand. the payouts they did get only served to make the time the chips were theirs a little less than half the time i had my chips.

i guess though there are a couple schools of thought on how to approach gambling:
1) as entertainment
2) as a dream (the big payout)
3) to make money
4) as a rite
5) as an addiction

my own personal approach is as entertainment. the way i see it, i want to be there for a while, soak up the experience, talk to people, ride the highs and lows and generally have a good time. if i lose, so what. i compare it to a night out on the town where i could easily spend just as much for little more in return. i'm also a bit of a #3 as i'm competitive and want to win. anyone walking tot he table with a 'system' wants to, or even expects to come away on top.

but you see all of the first 4 and hope not to see a fiver. i saw people who continued to throw money at the table hoping for that one hand which would (in their mind anyway) erase all the money they've thrown at it before. then there were those #4's who just put money down hand after hand, and big sums each bet. it wasn't a far cry to see $75 down on pairs plus and another $75 down on the ante every hand. these people were just betting for the sake of betting for when they won, there was no emotion or satisfaction. they kept getting wiped out and forked over more notes for chips.

so the question is, did i win? i did win, then came back to lose. my first trip i walked in with $100 and left with $300 in about 30 minutes of work. not a bad take. should have stopped there. but that's what gambling is good at, bringing you back. and so i did. the next visit i lost the $100 i took in. still up $100 overall. next visit i walked out $50 richer. up $150 overall. next visit i blew the $150 in winnings accumulated to that point. so now i was even. then in the final visit i lost $100, thus finishing me off in the red.

i expected to lose money going in. it's acceptable. i'm there for the experience. it was a good ratio of experience for money. why didn't i stop after my first visit? who would? you have free money at that point to gamble with. the allure of more riches from money you earned gambling that if you lose doesn't mean you actually lost anything you had coming in. yes, knowing when to stop is important, but it's your expectations and knowing when to stop to match those.

picture a day - thoughts so far

February 2, 2008 · 0 comments

if i haven't already shamelessly told you about and asked you to read it, i'm doing a photo of the day blog for 2008. that's right, one picture for each of the 365 days. wait, a sec, it's a leap year, i've made it harder on myself. now that i've been doing it for a month, i wanted to share some of the thoughts i've had on it so far. don't worry, i won't be doing this monthly. maybe just one more post on the matter at the end of the year.

what has become acutely clear is just how routine life is. yes we all know this, but doing a picture a day really crystallizes it. when you visit the same places nearly every day, follow the same routes to those places, and are as sedentary as i am, then finding something worthy of taking a picture, within that rote of daily life, becomes very difficult.

that brings me to my next point. i hadn't really thought of making this (quite literally) a snapshot of my life, nor did i think to make it otherwise. i knew i didn't want this to be pictures of what i did on a certain day and some commentary explaining it. that would likely (and that term is a gross understatement to the fact) be quite boring. but not to exclude that either if it was truly the most interesting occurrence of that day. what has been the general theme is whatever is the most interesting subject i encountered on a given day.

by far the biggest challenge has been finding that most interesting subject matter. the inspiration for doing this was encountering someone, something, or someplace that i said to myself 'that would make an interesting picture.' what i've realized in doing this project is that those moments were not as frequent as maybe i thought. certainly not every day. what i don't want to do is just take a picture of every little thing in my house or office or wherever just for the sake of taking a picture. that would defeat the purpose and surely evaporate my own interest in continuing to do this if i approached it with this defeatist attitude.

my hope is that i can capture something that is even somewhat interesting, if not just to me, then to others. i wouldn't want to keep reading it every day if there wasn't something that i found to be of interest every so often. are all the pictures winners? no, of course not. i can admit that. but each picture has something to it. some small shred of interest, to what extent of interesting is not equal though.

what has emerged as one of the most enjoyable parts of this project is the commentary. it gives me a forum for my own particular brand of whimsy. not only that, but it gives me a place to say why i think the picture was interesting and give it some context. but mostly because i enjoy making fun of things and often what i find interesting is something that i can poke fun at.

what's also a good feeling is the days you just know when you have the picture. where you see the subject and you see the story and your work for the day is done. it sure beats those days where you're struggling to find it. to relate a story; one day it was 11:30 at night and i was finished getting groceries, but didn't have a picture to post yet. so i had to drive around the neighborhood for 10 minutes just to find something, anything as i hadn't to that point. i hate those days because it's a struggle for something that should be easy (pointing and shooting), but for the sake of integrity, it's hard.

in doing this for a month, i haven't had to adjust life to much to accommodate a daily update. but it's winter and i'm less active outside of my usual routine. but i know the future holds some trips, or some long days or periods without access to a computer and i hope i can maintain the daily posting. it sounds lame, but i want to keep the integrity of the project and actually do it every day.

overall, it hasn't been too cumbersome. but again, we're only a month in. i'm looking forward to completing it though. i like the challenge. i don't know if rewarding is the right word because i don't know what reward i'd get. it's just something different and fun, and i've enjoyed it so far.

there is a lot i've not explored for subject matter or techniques. and that will help keeping it exciting. i still havn't staged shots, haven't gone for the true beauty shot, haven't done the picturesque scenery shot, no color adjusted shots yet, and there's still some other sourcing avenues i wanted to use as well. stay tuned.



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