Snowboard Fail

>> 30 December 2008

For our second day on the slopes, I went with a snowboard. BAD IDEA! I managed to get the snowboard attached to my feet and I managed to stand up, but from there, things got ugly. My reasoning was something like this: I can skateboard, I have snowboarded before (9 or 10 years ago), so I should be great at this. Alas, this was not the case. After standing up, I began to slide forward until I ran over the back of Rochelle's skis and fell down. Not to be discouraged, I got back on my feet and ran over the skis of a woman who didn't seem to pleased with me. This was not the end though; I got back up and started going down the hill. Things were finally working out until it came time to turn. I tried to dig my edge in to turn, but the only effect this had was to pivot me around 180 degrees so that I was now pointed down the mountain with my right foot. I ran into the deep snow, took off the snowboard and walked back to the rental shop to trade in for skis.

After that, I didn't fall.

My decision today was momentous as it marks a step forward on the path of uncoolness. I wish I were a rad snowboarder, getting mad rutty on the ramps, flipping the diggie, and just doing all manner of stunts in the air and on the ground, but as it turns out, the minute I attach a snowboard to my feet, I become a danger to myself and others. Oh well.

I'll attach pictures later.


Vote for my Demise!

>> 28 December 2008

I am in Utah, on a ski trip with my family. I am not a very good skier; in fact, the best word to describe the way I ski is, dangerous. I am pretty good at standing up, but not so great at turning or stopping (which turn out to be pretty important when skiing).

Since I'm not a particularly good skier, I've been thinking about trying out snowboarding on this trip. So my question for you, dear internet, is which should I do, skiing or snowboarding?

Vote in the poll and then please leave your words of advice or warning in the comment section.


If Grammar is Your Pet Peeve, You are My Pet Peeve

>> 24 December 2008

Are you a grammar snob? Let's find out. Read the sentences below and see if they bother you.

  • I hope their not angry because of my grammar. [their, there, they're]
  • Where are you going to? [dangling participle]
  • It's important to always do your best. [split infinitive]
  • The tree is tall. It's limbs are long. [it's, its]
  • "How are you doing?"... "good" [adjective v. adverb]
Now, believe it or not, there are people who get upset when they hear or read sentences like those above. They say things like, "Jeez, learn to spell, idiot!" or, "Really? You're doing good, not well? Are you running around fighting crime or something?" These grammar snobs also say things like, "I can't stand it when people mistake it's and its. It drives me crazy."

To which I say, "Really?" Is a split infinitive really that distressing? There are literally PIRATES pillaging things off the coast of Somalia, and your (just're) upset about dangling participles? Of all the things to be concerned about!

Side Note: In one of my classes this semester, I wrote a paper about the sonnet cycle, Astrophil and Stella, it was returned to me with the following grade and comment: B+ Needs more Grammar.

In conclusion, the next time someone asks you how you are doing, don't think about it; just say "good" and get on with things. And if their (just kidding...they're) upset by your bad grammar just tell them this: "If grammar is your pet peeve, then my pet peeve is you!"


Best of the Year: 2009

>> 20 December 2008

Now, in an ill-advised attempt at prescience, I will predict the best things of the year 2009.  One year from now, we can check back and see if I was right.

  • Best Movie: Twilight 2: Vampire Remix
  • Best Album:"Whiz Kidz" by Whiz Kidz (a supergroup consisting of Common, Lupe Fiasco, GZA, and Neil Sedaka)
  • Best Invention: Teleporter
  • Best New Apple Product: iphone 2.0 - same as normal iphone but available in multiple colors.  Still drops calls.
  • Best new catchphrase: "Flip that Diggie!"
  • Best Nut: Cashew
  • Best Deer-In-The-Headlights-Blank-Stare: Haley Joel Osment
  • Best Thing that Didn't Actually Happen: End of Recession
Side Note:  If there are any time-travelers reading this e-blog, I would encourage you to post a comment revealing whether or not these predictions turn out to be correct.  Comments from non-time-travelers will also be accepted, though perhaps with slightly less enthusiasm.


Best of the Year: 2008

>> 18 December 2008

This time of year, everyone starts making "Best of the Year" lists.  Best movie, best TV show, best album, best haircut, etc.  These lists are sort of nice; they give us the chance to look back and say, "Yes, some things happened this year that were different from other years."  Let's get this out of the way, then:

  • Best Movie, not about Batman: Wall-E (Seriously.)
  • Best Movie, about Batman: The Dark Knight
  • Best Album: "Fleet Foxes" by Fleet Foxes
  • Best President of the United States: George W. Bush (Don't worry Obama, your* time will come)
  • Best President-elect of the United States: Barack Obama (Told you your* time would come)
  • Most irritating phrase: "lipstick on a ______"  Pit bull, pig, you name it.
  • Best Olympics: Summer, Beijing
  • Best Thing-that-didn't-actually-happen: Scientists discover that cashews cure cancer.
*Disclaimer: I address Barack Obama in the second person, as if he were a reader of this e-blog.  As far as I know, he does not read this e-blog, and the second person reference was a literary device only.  I'm sorry if this was misleading for anyone.


Cashews: The Greatest Nut?

>> 14 December 2008

If there is one thing which we, as Americans tend to take for granted, it's cashews.  While shopping at Costco this week, I purchased a huge tub of cashews.  Let me tell you what - the cashew is a great nut.  Here is a list of nuts, from best to worst*.

  1. Cashew
  2. Pistachio
  3. Almond
  4. Peanut
  5. Hazelnut (known in some places as a "Filbert")
  6. Brazil Nut 
  7. Pecan**
  8. Walnut
  9. Raisins***
A few clarifications: *This ranking is based on the tastiness of a roasted, salted, version of the nut.  **The fact that pecan pie is delicious doesn't move pecans up the rankings, because they're not great by themselves.  ***Technically a raisin is not a nut, but I think it still belongs on this list for obvious reasons!  I didn't want anyone to come away from this e-blog post thinking that walnuts were worse than raisins.

What do you think of my list?  Post your own list below.


Ask an Expert: Robot Edition

>> 03 December 2008

This past week, I received three very good questions about robots, which I will not answer expertly.

Courtney wrote:

Dear Expert Joel:

What are your thoughts on Rosie, the robot maid on "The Jetsons?" Is she an accurate representation of the robots of the future?
Thanks for the question, Courtney. The short answer is no. Rosie, looks like a microwave. Robots in the future will look like ipods. They will be designed by Steve Jobs and will come in six different colors so that everyone can have a robot that expresses his or her individuality.

Kelley wrote:
Mr. Expert,

Which child-robot was more annoying: Haley Joel Osment as "David" in A.I., or "Chip" from Not Quite Human??

Wow. This one really had me stumped. I initially went for HJO, but then I thought about it some more and started leaning towards "Chip". In the end, I went for Haley Joel Osment, though it was close (In HJO's defense, he does a mean blank stare face, as seen in The Sixth Sense, A.I., Forest Gump, and Pay It Forward). Aside from the aforementioned blank stare -- which has brought him fame and notoriety -- and his rad middle name, this kid is mildly irritating. He is even worse as a robot.

[side rant] In The Sixth Sense, how does Bruce Willis not realize he's (Spoiler Alert!) dead? Nobody talks to him except this little kid! What, does he think his wife is mad at him for getting shot? "Why aren't you talking to me, honey?" "Oh, I don't know, Bruce. Maybe it's because you got shot, you insensitive jerk!" Does he not notice that he has no clients except the blank stare kid? Seriously. I liked the movie, but come on! [/side rant]

Lisa (and company) wrote:
Was Mia correct in thinking that Robert really was an alien in disguise and could at any moment unzip his outerwear? I mean honestly can any "human" impersonate a robot that well?

This question refers to the first video in this post. Thanks for the question. The dangerous thing about robots is that sometimes they are very difficult to distinguish from humans. For instance, there is widespread speculation that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a robot similar to the one he played in the Terminator franchise. Others suspect that Joe Biden is a robot, but is keeping things quiet in order not to upstage Obama's "first-African-American-president" thing with his "first-non-human-vice-president" publicity. There may be robots all around us. In fact, it is possible that I am a robot (please spread this rumor!)

The other possibility is that Robert really is just a talented human. Is it harder for a human to act like a robot, or for a robot to act like a human? Answer: I know from personal experience that it's harder for a robot to act like a human (please spread this rumor!).

Well, that's it for this edition of "Ask an Expert."  In the coming days I'll make a post to accept new questions!  Leave your comments below!


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