Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Sting of Rejection

This blog is addressed to a specific someone.

Dear Guy Who Went on a Car Window Smashing Spree on My Street,

Rude. That was tremendously rude. I walked down the street this morning over all of your broken glass. Window after window smashed in every car on the side of the street. But then…what’s this?

My car is completely unharmed.

That cuts deep, Window Smasher. Clearly you have a keen understanding of the human psyche and knew that, by excluding me from your spree, you would inflict a grievous emotional wound.

Was my car window unfit to be smashed, Window Smasher? Is my car already too lame? Could you not even bring yourself to vandalize such a pathetic machine?

Well let me just say that my car and I do not need your pity. We will do just fine with all four of our windows.

I hope you think about what you’ve done. Remember what it felt like to be picked last for dodgeball? I don’t. People always say that though. I was always picked first for dodgeball because I’m nimble and I have a deceptively low center of gravity…but that’s neither here nor there.

The point is—you not smashing my window was really uncalled for. How would you feel if I tracked you down, found your car, and then didn’t break your window? Quite upset, I think.

How about showing a bit of compassion next time?

Wisdom by Warren:
You should be happy. There is currently no proof that you aren’t immortal.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010

StumbleUpon

Recently, Warren posted about Reddit, a site he utilizes for internet browsing. Well, I used to go on Reddit and Digg (a very similar website), but now I’ve moved on to something even more mesmerizing—StumbleUpon.

StumbleUpon is a personalized recommendation engine that tailors your internet browsing experience to your specific interests.

When setting up your Stumble account, there are pages of hundreds and hundreds of categories that you can say you are interested in. You really get to know yourself during a process like this—you may even be surprised by your own strangeness. You start off by checking the boxes next to sports, technology, literature, and photography, but before long, you find yourself throwing in categories like ninjas, computer hacking, Wicca, karaoke, and exotic pets.

After completing this revealing selection process, you are free to explore. A randomly (well, randomly according to your interests) generated site will load. You look at until it loses your attention, at which point you ‘stumble’ to the next page.

For me, the element of surprise is very appealing. You never know what you’re going to get. Not every site is a winner, but most of the time they at least catch your eye. And in the event that you think a certain page is totally lame, you can push the ‘dislike’ button, and Stumble won’t direct you to any similar pages.

So, are you looking for some good music, interesting news, fun games, or cute baby animal pictures? Do you need inspiration for work, or a break from it? I encourage you--log on to StumbleUpon and enjoy the enchanting world of your own customized internet wonderland.

Advice from Ariel
Always be aware of where you are and where you have been. Otherwise, you will spend a lot of time looking for your car in mall parking lots.
Friday, July 23, 2010

Elevator Etiquette

The idea of an elevator ride—voluntarily stepping into a very small, enclosed, space with strangers—inherently seems odd. Couple this with some people’s utter lack of elevator etiquette, and it can be extremely uncomfortable.

First, there are the re-pushers. These are the people who re-push an elevator call button even though the button is lit-up and has clearly already been pressed. This causes the initial pusher to resent the re-pusher, as the re-pusher has deemed the initial pusher’s push inadequate.

Then there are the people who enter the elevator and hover around the buttons. Everyone needs to get to the buttons to choose their floor, so this hovering results in much awkward reaching and finagling.

One of my favorites is when someone is running to catch the elevator, and the people inside feign an attempt at helping them, as if they have no idea what they could possibly do to stop the doors from closing. This is usually accompanied by contrived looks of sympathy. Don’t do this. You’re not fooling anyone.

Another interesting phenomenon is when people pile into an elevator as if it is the last one that will ever leave that floor. And this leads to an even more uncomfortable situation: when the elevator is full, everyone is standing very close to each other. As the elevator empties, the space between individuals should increase. It is simple math—the distance between elevator riders should be inversely proportional to the number of elevator riders. The uncomfortable situation arises when a rider does not obey the laws of mathematics, and remains unusually close to another rider, even when ample shifting-room is available.

These are just some of the problem behaviors on elevators. There are also the people who try to make jokes, the people who carry on loud phone conversations, and the occasional person who doesn’t face forward—which can lend itself to an extremely awkward impromptu staring contest.

I hope this sheds light on the problem of poor elevator etiquette, and serves as a source of healing for all of those who have been victimized by it.

Advice from Ariel
If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space.
Thursday, July 22, 2010

Positivity!

Hi there! Reader, I’m worried that you might be starting to think I’m a pessimist. I certainly don’t blame you. Listen to me ranting about heat, traffic and monsters.

That’s quite contrary to my actual personality, though. I’m an unfailing optimist. As a matter of fact, it borders on delusion. One of my favorite activities is to take an unquestionably unfortunate situation and attempt to turn it into a ironic coincidence, or unexpected opportunity. My girlfriend (Aimee, so that I don’t have to keep referencing her this way) can attest to this annoying habit. Regardless of who you are or what has happened, I will reject your grievance and propose a reason for you to be thankful.

You got fired?

Thank goodness. Now you’re free to explore all of your other career options!

Your wallet was stolen?

Good thing. Now you won’t invest that money in the stock market and be consumed by crippling depression when it crashes again in thirty years!

Your dog has a potentially fatal illness?

I’m just glad he won’t have to witness the robot revolution and the subsequent enslavement of all biological species. He’s a dog, so he probably wouldn’t understand what was happening.


See? I’m looking at the big picture. So if you ever need some perspective, give me a shout and I’ll help you understand why it’s a good thing that, due to a clerical error, your bank account has disappeared and it will take at least 8 months to fix the problem.

Wisdom by Warren:
Give a man a fish, and he will be sincerely confused.
Friday, July 16, 2010

Monster With a Mortgage

Happy Friday! Got any fun plans for the weekend?

I couldn’t hear your answer, so for the sake of continuity I’ll assume you said, “Absolutely Warren! This evening I’ll be competing in an illegal underground street race, Saturday is the grand opening of my desert animal petting zoo, and Sunday I’ll be finishing up my solo album, ‘Grand Funk McMasterpiece,’ set to release this fall.”

Wow, reader. You live an exciting and perplexingly unusual life!

I tried so hard to resist it, but I have to rant. I started with zombies, and now Ariel’s talking about Twilight…some things have to be said.

First of all, I have never read the Twilight novels, and thus, I will not be criticizing them. People, I have two rules about criticism.

A. Never bash a book you haven’t read, a movie you haven’t seen, etc…
B. Don’t bash someone’s performance if you couldn’t do it better.

That being said, I know what Stephanie Meyer has done to the monster mythos and it pains me. The vampire is no longer the frightening and sinister master of the night. He is now the moody teenager with girl troubles and a questionable hairstyle.

The werewolf is no longer a mythic metaphor for the uncontrollable and animalistic nature of man. It’s now just a dude…that can also be a wolf.


This isn’t Stephanie Meyer’s fault, but there’s even an identity crisis in the zombie community. Are they shambling, dim-witted dead folks? Or are they furious, sprinting rage-fiends?

Where will it end? Is Frankenstein going to run for prime minister? Is the swamp-thing going to struggle with a nicotine addiction? Will the mummy be caught up in a custody battle?

Stop giving monsters regular problems. They’re monsters. They have problems of their own.

Wisdom by Warren:
Never trust a man with two first names.
Steve Frank? Guaranteed to steal your lawnmower.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A New Place to Waste Time

Hey there. So, we’ve established that I’m living in the Stone Age. My electronic entourage is a poor excuse for modern technology. However, that doesn’t mean that I am completely oblivious to digital trends. I don’t tweet and I don’t update my Facebook status, mainly due to a sincere belief that my day-to-day activities are of no real consequence to you. That being said, I recently discovered reddit.com and am (at least momentarily) captivated by it.

For those of you who don’t know, reddit is the Wikipedia of news. By that I mean that it is a “news site” populated entirely by unofficial “redditors” (a.k.a. random internet users).

It is an incredibly interesting concept, having people talk about the news they care about rather than passively receiving it from other sources. It doesn’t necessarily function in such an idealistic fashion, but there is certainly something to be said about the breadth of articles on the site.

For example, over the past few days there have been numerous articles regarding the oil spill, as well as several discussions about politics, religion, and the environment.

Of course, I spent an equal amount of time reading discussions involving absurd musings and “What if…” scenarios, video games, comics about Kool-Aid, and stories about grandpa conspiracies.

As you can see, there is quite a diverse array of topics. I’m new to the site but it appears to be overwhelmingly popular (The actor from the hilarious Old Spice commercials posted a video on reddit responding to reddit users).

If you haven’t been there, you should check it out. Be careful though, you may decide to read a thread or two and three hours later you’ll snap back to reality and wonder why you’re reading the 40th post in a thread entitled “Wouldn’t it suck if cats had five-foot arms?”

Wisdom by Warren:
The early bird catches the bird flu.
Monday, July 12, 2010

The New Workout Plan

Hey there. I hope your life is going well.

From the time I wake up at six in the morning, to the time I make it to work, I must have at least half a dozen people trying to help me lose weight.

Those instructors on the early morning infomercials have discovered a miraculous workout that annihilates fat.

Those charming dieticians have developed nutrition plans that make the pounds fall right off! (I’m no doctor, but I think that’s called gangrene).

And those brilliant doctors created a pill that lets you lose weight without working out, eating right, or making any kind of vague effort at personal fitness! You could go into a coma-like state and still get fabulous results!

Of course, there’s always that antiquated method of staying fit—running. The problem with running is that it has lost its value to modern society. The average adult’s survival has nothing to do with how fast they can run.

That’s why I propose that the United States hosts a zombie invasion. That’s right, we need zombies. If you’ve ever seen a zombie movie, you know that there’s no workout like running from angry dead guys. Sure, there are probably consequences to this plan that I’m not fully contemplating, but you know what they say…

Wisdom by Warren:
Drastic times call for zombies.

The Twilight Generation

Most cultural crazes captivate popular culture for only a short period of time, and then gradually fade away. Think of the movie Avatar, for example. In early 2010, it was all the rage. People were raving about the brilliance of the fantasy world, Pandora. There were even reports of PAD (Post-Avatar Depression), a condition where upon leaving the theater and becoming conscious of the fact that Pandora was not reality, people became depressed. Many still worship the movie, of course, but in mainstream society, it has now been placed on the back burner.

If this is the normal pattern, then what is it about the Twilight saga that continues to enthrall so many people? Otherwise normal (or mostly normal) people have turned into obsessive and fanatical vampire lovers. In a society that idolizes the glamorous life of rich, tan people on whom the sun never stops shining, who would have predicted that the next big thing would be a movie about pasty-white, middle class, superhumans from the rainiest place in America?

In part, I think the appeal of Twilight lies in the Team Edward v. Team Jacob rivalry. It plays into the desire of the human psyche to be part of a group, or on a team. It seems clear who is winning that battle though—according to the Social Security Association, the top baby names for 2009 were Jacob and Isabella (two of the three main Twilight characters). Edward was not in the top ten.

This baby name phenomenon demonstrates that the Twilight saga is not a temporary fad like Tamagotchis or High School Musical…it is revolutionizing a generation. Granted, it could be worse. If, say, Transformers hit it as big, we could have a bunch of baby Optimus Primes and Megatrons running around.

Advice from Ariel
Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.
Thursday, July 8, 2010

Shift Happens

You are probably familiar with the series of YouTube videos called, “Did you know?”. There are many versions, but the basic premise is the same: intriguing facts about our fast-paced, dynamic world are set to rousing techno music.

The videos often begin by trying to rock your world with some fact that makes you feel completely insignificant, such as: “if you are one in a million in China, there are 1,300 people just like you.” Then, they attempt to blow your mind by quantifying the growth of Facebook and other things that exemplify the exponential times we are living in. Finally, they make inspiring predictions about the future, like that “by 2013, a super computer will be built that exceeds the computational capabilities of the human brain.”

The strength of these videos lies in their thought-provoking nature. Beyond being impressed, overwhelmed or motivated, you are intrigued. They make you contemplate the future and the potential of the human race…what’s next?

My only complaint is that the facts are displayed for such a short period of time that they don’t really get a chance to sink in. But that’s the point I guess— everything is moving so quickly that by the time you fully grasp something, it’s gone.

The ironic thing is that even these videos are now outdated. I would like them to wow me with data from 2010. But if you haven’t seen any of these so far, I’d recommend doing so. I’ve posted two links on this page. The first one, 3.0, is my personal favorite, but inline with the current theme, it seems wrong to not show you the latest version, so I’ve included the link to that one too.

Did You Know? 3.0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHmwZ96_Gos&feature=related

Did You Know? 4.0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ILQrUrEWe8&feature=related

Advice from Ariel
If everything is coming your way, you’re probably in the wrong lane.

The Warmness

Hello and good afternoon. I hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July.

If you’ll recall, last week I asked you to take a moment to think about a serious advertising issue. Today, I ask you to cut that out.

People, it’s hot as Hades. The temperature has been hovering just beneath 100° all week.

Now I know there are two kinds of people in the world: people who ultimately aspire to retire to some beach or sun-baked golf course—and me. So there’s a good chance I’m writing to one of the former group, one of you people who actively “tan” and say that these kinds of scorching days are “beautiful.” I don’t understand your thinking but we can still be friends.

My girlfriend is one of you people. She staunchly opposes my motion to move to Alaska. In fact, she is currently volunteering at an orphanage in Costa Rica, the Central American country that is less than 10° from the equator. It’s cooler there right now. Preposterous.

I’ll be done ranting about hot things. Enjoy the heat; I’ll be on the sidewalk frying up some eggs.

Stay cool. Fight the power sun.

Wisdom by Warren:
If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck you can start wondering
what’s wrong with your dog.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Unique Names

My name, Ariel, has been a source of much difficulty throughout my life. It isn’t spelled like it sounds, and there are at least four widely accepted pronunciations: Ar-ee-uhl, Ar-ee-elle, Air-ee-uhl, and finally, the money: Air-ee-elle.

You would think that because there are four pronunciations, I would get the right one at least 25% of the time. You would be wrong. My name is consistently pronounced incorrectly, regardless of if I’ve introduced myself seconds or years before.

I mention this because on Friday, as I waited to board my plane, another name-gone-wrong led to commotion at gate B23.

The flight attendant repeatedly called over the loudspeaker for a Ms. “Laa,” who never came to claim her seat. An hour later, an angry, large woman approached the counter wondering why her flight was so late. When she presented her ticket, the flight attendant said, “Laa, we called you many times, that plane already departed.” To which the woman replied, “my name is not Laa, it’s Ladasha, spelled ‘La-a’!”

It happened. I kid you not.

I’m not saying that the world needs more Johns and Marys. I’m all for naming kids Rocket, Apple, and Tiger. But please, save your children the time and energy of respelling and re-pronouncing their names. Give them a name that looks like it sounds. It’s good to be unique, but there’s no need to be youneehk.

Advice from Ariel
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
Friday, July 2, 2010

Intervention

Happy Friday folks. Let’s get serious for a minute.

You’ve all seen these commercials. One person begins a sentence:

“It’s time…”
Then that person disappears and another takes their place—
“for someone…”
Another new person, with a completely different tone of voice—
“to start the revolution…”
The light is coming in at some extreme angle and the actors are all serious.
And then they make some outrageous declaration.

“I am steak seasoning.”

What!? That makes no sense. Then another person—
I am steak seasoning.”
“I am steak seasoning.”
They all put emphasis on a different part of the sentence, some have overly dramatic pauses.
“I….am steak seasoning.”
Every ethnicity, age group, and gender has their turn insisting that they are steak seasoning. This goes on for another twenty seconds

Why? Why does this trend exist?

Can we just collectively agree that this was a bad idea and stop?
Thank you, as a consumer, and as a person who doesn’t care that you are steak seasoning.

Wisdom by Warren:
If at first you don’t succeed, change your name and move to Canada.

Just kidding, don’t do that.
Thursday, July 1, 2010

Artificial Intelligence

While Warren is suffering from technological poverty, I am facing an entirely different technological plight: I’m becoming a cyborg (cyber organism). Nearly everything I do necessitates some sort of technological machine, and as a result, I’m beginning to function like one.

This morning, as I was hastily gathering my things to head downstairs for breakfast, I accidentally knocked over a glass of water. Instead of quickly reaching to pick it up, and thus limiting the spillage, I thought ‘Command Z’ (‘Control Z’ for those of you still stuck in the world of PCs, or ‘Edit > Undo’ for you true dinosaurs).

I’ve long been warned that if I always rely on spell check, I won’t know how to spell, but I now rely on technology on a whole new level.

My phone is my camera, my stock ticker, my weather forecaster, my music player, my gaming console, and my means of communication with my friends and family.

When I hear the word ‘directions’, the first thing that pops into my head is not a road map, its Sheila—what I like to call the lady on my TomTom who I programmed to have an Australian accent.

In a world where typing is replacing talking, treadmills are replacing sidewalks, and eHarmony is replacing dating, this extreme reliance on technology is hard to avoid.

As I sat in my kitchen this morning, booting-up and waiting for my phone to make me coffee, I reflected on this new phenomenon. Being a cyborg means dependence and impersonal interactions, but is it all bad? The life of a machine presents intriguing possibilities. If you had the ability to erase your hard drive and start fresh, would you?

Advice from Ariel
When all else fails, read the directions.