Sunday, November 21, 2004
I’m not talking about Starbucks secretly paying off corporations to serve bad coffee so employees are forced to get a double-shot-vente-nonfat-carmel-macchiato – we all know that to be true. What I am talking about is a more secret and subversive effort by condiment makers to attack cheap bastards like me who drink the rancid work coffee despite the best efforts of corrupt office managers.
In order to save $80 a month (i.e. 20 double-shot-vente-nonfat-carmel-macchiatos at 4 bucks a pop), I instead spend a dollar a week on a pint of whole milk. This strategic investment helps make the work coffee marginally palatable. Without it, I would be left with only sugar and non-dairy creamer to try and erase the gastronomical foibles inherent with large-scale commercial roasting and inferior grade beans.
Of course, milk on its own is not enough – I also need sugar – and that is where the conspiracy begins. Industrial size sugar and non-dairy containers are identical in their cylinder-style shape, with the only difference being whether it happens to be red or blue. Sounds easy enough, as you can quickly associate the sugar with calming blue and the non-dairy creamer with warning red. However, the various sugar and non-dairy creamer conglomerates have nefariously plotted to produce their wares in conflicting colors.
If you notice in exhibit ‘A,’ the inappropriately-named Coffee-‘Mate’ is red, while the N’Joy ‘creamer’ and Dixie sugar are both blue. Thus, if you’re not completely awake (which you aren’t – hence the coffee), you could easily grab the blue ‘creamer’ by mistake and ruin your coffee. And this is exactly what they want. The condiment conspirators win by you using up more product, and Starbucks wins by converting some of the weak-willed creamer victims. And I lose, because I’m the cheap bastard who should be drinking the $4 double-shot-vente-carmel macchiato.
Saturday, October 16, 2004
Recently, I discovered that RandomBanter.com is helping people around the world find information on some very important topics. After installing a bit of code, I am now able to see how people navigate to my site, which surprisingly is often via search engines.
I must say that it feels very rewarding to be able to help people in their quest for knowledge. With all the mis- dis- and piss information on the Web, it must be nice to be directed to my site, where you’re sure to find honest commentary on some of life’s more complex issues.
A sampling of some of the search terms people use to get to my site is indicative of the quality content I provide as a public service to humanity. Whether you’re searching for images of big boobs, looking to get out of jury duty or wanting more information on the Jackson clan – it’s all here. RandomBanter.com proudly serves the sophisticated tastes of today’s intelligentsia.
Some Recent Search Terms Used to Find RandomBanter.com
- Google Norway - "Michael Jackson spends a lot"
- Google – "bust ratio"
- Yahoo! Image Search - "masks surgical"
- MSN Search - "Johnny Cash T-Shirt"
- Google - "Bush makes up words"
- Yahoo! Search – "homelessman blog"
- Google Search - "ignore jury summons"
- Alta Vista Image Search - "thin waist, big boobs"
- Google Search – "odd word skullduggery"
- MSN Search – "Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction"
Sunday, October 03, 2004
Alas, I am truly saddened to think of all the crazy-ass stuff I’ve seen over the years that has leaked irretrievably out of the porous memory cells in my brain - lost forever, never to be documented, never to be commented wittily upon. It all ends here!…or begins here.
Regardless, the point is that I’m writing it down now. I might also send it to the Smithsonian so it can be captured for future generations. That’s how generous I am. Oh, and feel free to add to the dialogue by commenting about your own surreal sightings.
So here goes…
Get off your high bike
I’m on my way to work, minding my own business, not letting someone cut in at the last moment to avoid waiting in line to get on the freeway, and in my rear view mirror I see something spectacular. I say spectacular, because I, along with everyone else, were spectators to the anachronism of a man riding atop a first generation bicycle with the huge front wheel and tiny rear wheel.
I don’t know if it would have been more odd if the man had been wearing a 19th century getup with tweed knickers and suspenders, or like how it was – an aging body-builder wearing shorts and a Gold’s Gym tank top. Either way, it was strange and definitely something you don’t see everyday, or ever, for that matter.
I apologize for the grainy, ill-framed photos, but that’s what you get for me trying to drive, keep people from cutting in, and snapping photos with a so-called ‘camera’ phone. Referring to these mini-pixel talky devices as ‘cameras’ has the same credibility as Britney Spears’ latest marriage. But I digress, when I should be closing.
So that’s it. I hope you enjoyed this little foray into the peculiarities that our fine, spinning globe has to offer. If you think this account is not that strange, just let me know the next time you see me – unless it happens to be when you’re cutting me off to get on the freeway. Then, don’t bother.
Sunday, September 05, 2004
The key to non-nakedness is clothing, which I now come back to in expert literary fashion. My wife’s laundering was interrupted by a social engagement, so she asked me to insert myself in the process by transferring the clothes from the washer to the dryer.
Now, I’ve been washing clothes since my early teens, when I reluctantly learned the skill from my impressively crafty parents. During that time, I’ve had my fair share of mishaps involving global chromatic change, however I have never seen my wife make such a rookie mistake. Thus, I was quite surprised by what I saw when I lifted the lid of the washer - the entire load had turned pink!
Of course, I never should have doubted my wife’s ability, for the pink hue was no mistake. Upon closer inspection, I realized that the clothes were supposed to be pink. Sure, I hear pink is a popular color these days for baby girl accoutrements, but I didn’t realize our daughter-to-be was going to be awash in it.
The truth is, my wife and I never set out to procure a uni-pigmented wardrobe – it just kind of happened. In order to reassure myself that I our baby would not be subjected to such outright color bias, I went to the baby closet to examine the rest of her diminutive duds. Hmm. I hope our child likes pink, although she should be used to it after nine months in her rose-colored uterine apartment.
Saturday, September 04, 2004
No, not one of those pansy H2’s. Those bastard GM creations can’t hold a candle to the original, desert-stomping variety, which make no attempt to add refinement or make apologies for their lane-busting girth. Suddenly, the Excursion doesn’t look so bad – which is wrong on so many levels.
While not an expert on the psychological profile of someone who needs to own an expensive, impractical and environmentally insensitive means of transportation, I now fear that the Excursion owner will soon be trading it in for a Bradley Fighting Vehicle. You have to keep up with the Joneses after all, even if the Joneses are hell-bent on destroying the environment at a rate of 10 miles per gallon.
Some may feel I am overreacting here, as I did choose to live in the SUV capital of the world. However, I feel it’s perfectly reasonable to say that my block isn’t big enough for the both of them. Literally. If they ever park directly across from each other on our humble street, I’m not sure my car will be able to squeeze past. And, they always park on the street, as they won’t fit in their driveways. That should be a first sign – if it’s too big for the driveway, then perhaps it’s too big for the neighborhood.
Of course, I know I’m not alone in my hatred for these offensive icons of American arrogance and excess. In fact, there’s a whole Web site devoted to it, which has recently been updated with my own submission.
Thursday, June 10, 2004
The fact is that broken bones tend to heal more quickly than the mental injuries inflicted from the poisoned barbs of the spoken word. Heck, as we grow older we learn a contradictory maxim that says the pen is mightier than the sword. So which is it!? Sticks are more powerful than words, but swords aren't? Let me set the record straight - words hurt and so do swords, pointed sticks, etc.
However, words have the ability to physically maim as well - and I'm not talking about uttering 'fire' in a crowded building or to a firing squad. Consider the recent story of the spelling bee contestant fainting upon hearing the word "alopecoid." A seemingly innocent word, - especially since I have no idea what it means - yet it quickly prostrated little Akshay Buddiga. Luckily, he was okay and even spelled the word correctly after regaining consciousness, but his parents might be right to get him interested in a safer hobby, like football.
Say what you want about words, but they're handy little critters, whether they're used for good or evil. In terms of sheer volume of words, English speakers have a distinct advantage over many of their foreign-tongued counterparts. Unlike other languages that try to get the most value and use out of every word without creating new ones, English constantly expands its vocabulary with stupid, unnecessary words. Take "euro-creep" and "info-dump" for example, which were recently added to the Oxford English Dictionary. For a second, I'm inclined to think that the French aren't so off-base in how far they go to protect their language. Just for a second, though.
The one advantage to our superfluous language is in the area of signage. Upon observing signs, clothing tags, etc. that are written in multiple languages, I have noticed that other languages often require at least 30 percent more words to say the same thing in English. I'm sure that if an over-ambitious researcher were to figure out the business impact in terms of costs associated with printing real estate, ink, typesetting, etc, there would be a serious outcry for an increase in foreign vocabulary counts. In case you think I digress, hold on, I'm coming back around.
In order to combat this linguistic disproportion, some signs severely truncate the original message when it's translated into a foreign tongue. Most of the time, this isn't a big deal. Maybe the shampoo container doesn't tell the non-English speaker to rinse and repeat, but the user will probably be able to figure it out or else go around with soapy hair. Not exactly a travesty. However, I noticed a warning sign the other day that perked my attention.
Upon visiting the neighborhood "icky-mart," there was a warning sign posted on the adjacent fence housing a high voltage substation. The sign communicated its message in English, Spanish and graphic icon - the latter looking like Shazam losing a tug-of-war competition. The English text stated the following, "Danger, Hazardous Voltage Inside, Can Cause Injury Or Death, Keep Out!" The Spanish translation simply said "Danger, High Voltage, Do Not Enter."
At first, I felt the sign was being "linguist," that is to say discriminatory towards those unable to speak the dominant tongue. Why should Spanish speakers not be given the full warning? Are they less citizens? Then I realized, that maybe it's because they're smarter and less litigious. Spanish speakers understand that the high voltage is inside and not on the fence, and that the specified voltage can cause injury or death.
English speakers on the other hand have to be told. Otherwise, you would have people suing the power companies saying, "Yeah, it said 'high voltage' and not to enter, but it didn't say anything about it causing injury or death!" It makes me long for the days when a simple "keep out" would serve as a warning and not an invitation. Coincidentally, I found it fitting that the Icky-Mart attendant couldn't be bothered to hang up the phone to utter two simple words of thanks for the purchased milk, but let the 'Thank You' emblazed bag speak for itself.
Sunday, March 14, 2004
It really is a disheartening experience. Earlier this year, as I watched the coverage from the caucus events, I began to formulate opinions on who I thought might be the best candidate to take the tattered reins from Dubbya. However, as the results from each primary and caucus rolled in, the candidates began dropping out like flies. By the time it got to California, only two realistic candidates were still in – John Kerry and John Edwards.
Sure, Al Sharpton and Ralph Nader were still in the race, but I wouldn’t trust Al as far as I could throw him (not very far), and hasn’t Nader already done enough?! It was his votes that put Bush in the White House the last time around. While Nader has some good ideas, he’s not helping the Democratic effort to dethrone the incumbent.
My parents always told me that life was unfair, but it still bothers me that I never got the opportunity to vote for Wesley Clark or Howard Dean. Their fate was already determined by the states that came before. Not that I would have voted for them, but I wanted the choice. Isn’t that what America is all about?
Despite my frustration with the process, I went to the polls on March 2nd. At least I had two candidates to choose from them – or so I thought. By afternoon, John Edwards announced he was dropping out. And people wonder why so few people vote.
I admit that I’m no expert when it comes to politics – in fact, you’re more likely to find me reading Entertainment Weekly than the New Yorker. However, I think there needs to be a better system. Here’s a thought – how about we run the primaries like the presidential elections? You could have all the nominees tour around various states debating the issues, and then on one date the whole nation votes. That way, people in obscure places like California, New York and Texas might actually have a say in matter.
It’s a pretty radical idea, that’s for sure, but perhaps we could all vote on it. We could start in Iowa…
Saturday, February 07, 2004
If our feared national leader really wants to waste taxpayer’s money by sending a manned mission to Mars, then I suggest sending the Jackson family...the whole lot of them. Sure, Michael and Janet have been the main culprits as of late, but I’m convinced that lunacy runs in the bloodlines. It’s best not to risk it. I don’t think Jesse Jackson is related, but it might be a good idea to throw him in the ship too, just in case.
If this isn’t possible then can we please ignore them? Can the worldwide media please make a pact that they won’t cover anything regarding the Jacksons, not matter how surreal or outlandish? Perhaps if the Jackons knew that we didn’t care anymore, they’ll quietly go about their business. Although we’d have to clarify that “sharing a bed with a child” and flashing 80 million television viewers is not “business.”
I must admit that I do enjoy the news media hypocrisy regarding the Super Bowl’s “Boob-gate.” In the days following the event, NBC’s Today Show provided commentary on how the story was getting over-exposed in the press. Of course, their coverage wasn’t contributing to this phenomenon. I do give Katie Couric a little bit of credit, as she would half-apologize each time she had to give an update on this issue of worldwide importance. Plus, she’s kind of cute.
For the record, the Jacksons (and Michael and Janet in paticular) are nutcases. End of story. When crazy people do crazy things, it shouldn’t be news. I’m a writer, so no one is surprised when I write – except the half-dozen readers of this blog. The point is, when someone does something that they’re hard-wired to do, it shouldn’t be shocking and certainly not news. When George W. Bush makes up words, does anyone call this news? Oh, yeah, I guess they do.
I’m going to take my own advice and never again mention the Jacksons – unless it’s to cover the fact that NASA took my advice and is shipping them to the red planet. Although, when Michael’s through with it, the planet might mysteriously turn white.
P.S. For those of you who missed Janet’s wardrobe malfunction, I’ve included a photo here with a close up of the sole object standing between this being a simple case of bad taste vs. porn.
Monday, January 05, 2004
When I received my Jury Summons about four weeks ago, I didn’t properly process all the implications of reporting on the first working day of the New Year. My first thought was that it would be good to get it over with. However, I should have thought about how busy it would be as the judicial wheels once again began to turn after the holiday season – and the busier it was, the more likely that I would be needed.
The morning started off bad enough with either my alarm failing to sound or me failing to hear it. Regardless, when I awoke, I had less than 45 minutes to get up, get dressed and get downtown to the San Diego Hall of Justice. Convinced that the police would put out an affidavit for my arrest if I were late, I quickly scurried my law-abiding ass out the door.
I was actually kind of excited about going to the Hall of Justice – heck, maybe I would even bump into the sultry Wonder Woman, who in the embodiment of a corseted Linda Carter fueled a number of adolescent fantasies. If she happened to be off fighting crime in her invisible jet, there was also the possibility of accosting Superman, Batman, or at the very least, one of the second-tier Super Friends. I wouldn’t mind seeing the Wonder Twins turn themselves into a glass of ice water and a dairy cow – at least I wouldn’t go thirsty.
The tension mounted as traffic was threatening to keep me from reaching the courthouse by my court-appointed time. Luckily I arrived two minutes early, kissed my dutiful wife and hopped out of the car and up the steps. I quickly glanced around to see if Aquaman might be sitting outside on a cigarette break. No luck, however, I did spot the infamous HomelessMan, along with JadedCityEmployeeMan, but no trading card quality super heroes.
As I opened the double glass doors, I realized that all my rushing had been in vain. There was a huge line of solemn-looking individuals holding Jury Summons forms waiting for safe passage through the metal detector. A real test of an individual’s metal, the machines were manned by no-nonsense, steel-jawed law officers, who stood in stark contrast to the lackadaisical TSA agents I had recently encountered on last night’s flight back to San Diego. These latter officers carried guns and appeared to be looking for any excuse to use them.
Once past security, I was herded into the inappropriately-titled Jury Lounge. A blatant misnomer, as there would certainly be hours of sitting in uncomfortable chairs with hundreds of strangers, but definitely no lounging. After 15 minutes or so of non-lounging, we were greeted by William H. Macy’s character from Sea Biscuit. There was a striking similarity that extended as far as his slicked-back hair, animated gestures and over-enthusiastic voice. However, the clip of his voice was much slower, more akin to someone speaking to children or foreign tourists.
As part of the orientation, the mock Macy gave us an 8th grade civics lesson on how the government was divided into executive, legislative and judicial branches, and that the judicial branch was the only one that relied predominantly on public citizens. He then broke out in a song and dance routine that centered on a lonely bill on Capitol Hill. Okay, that last bit didn’t happen, but it wouldn’t have seemed too out of place if it had.
We were then informed that we should be prepared to serve for at least two weeks, and if that wasn’t possible, we should see "Jury Services" right away in order to reschedule for another time. They were pushing this really hard, so I was really surprised when only a small percentage of people got up. I suppose that, like me, people just wanted to get it over with.
According to Mr. Happy, if we weren’t picked right away, we would most likely be waiting in the "lounge" until mid-afternoon. I felt sorry for the unfortunate individuals who hadn’t brought anything along to pass the time. Myself, I had brought a newspaper, book, and laptop. If I exhausted all those divertissements, I was going to take a stab at drafting my own Middle East peace plan. Heck, anything I came up would be just as likely to succeed as the latest round of efforts.
Finally, I was given my opportunity to serve. My name was called to report to Courtroom 53 in the adjacent County Court House building. I packed up my things, exited the Hall of Justice, crossed over to the Court House, proceeded through the metal detectors and ventured out in search of number 53. Two escalators and an elevator later, I found it – only to be told by the bailiff that the two litigants were still in pre-jury negotiations, and that it was best to report back to the lounge.
This news was met with a mixture of annoyance and elation. The annoyance with being turned away after successfully navigating the elaborate courthouse labyrinth quickly mutated into joy fueled by the hope of a possible dismissal.
I quickly made my way out of the building and back through security to the coveted Jury Lounge in the Super Friendless Hall of Justice. Luckily, with all these trips through security, the metal detectors weren’t set to airline-level sensitively, which can be set off by the amount of iron digested in a 12 oz. can of V-8. I thoroughly enjoyed walking through the detectors with both my shoes AND belt on…scandalous! Only my cell phone, Palm Pilot and laptop were subject to X-ray quality scrutiny.
After an hour or more of waiting, the courtroom 53 vagabonds were called into Jury Services and honorably discharged from service. Apparently, our assigned litigants had hashed it out without our help – maybe after peaking out the window to see in whose hands their fate would lie. Regardless, I left the courthouse with a keen eye for any opportunity to bum a ride home in the Batmobile.