Jul 31, 2008

The Legend of Neil

Thanks to a tip I got from the very awesome Felicia Day, I was recently turned onto an internet series that is about a guy who gets sucked into The Legend of Zelda.

For being fairly low-budget, it is seriously well-written, well-performed and made me laugh my ass off. Be warned it's very NSFW, but I can't resist because it's just that amazing.

Also: Episode 2 of the Legend of Neil

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Life without the internet - Day 2 (final day)

Laptop's not fixed, but I MacGyvered a temporary solution. I still need to call tech support to fix my laptop's screen. Already dreading that phone call.

The main lesson I learned today is that in meatspace, respawn time is set to infinite. Don't ask.

I'm sure I've learned a ton more, but my avatar needs rest in order to level up. Enjoy this video instead:

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Jul 30, 2008

Life without the internet - Day 1

While my vacation this weekend was awesome, I was overcome with nerd fury fairly upset to find my beloved laptop's monitor no longer works upon my return.

My laptop was essentially my one and only portal to the interwebs, and now I'm relegated to only using my work laptop for work-related things. Effectively, this means that I've been cut off from most of the plentiful bounty the internet has to offer. I'll call tech support tomorrow, most likely, but I fear that without my laptop the internet will soon become like a distant cousin I vaguely remember (you know, Whatshisface).

But, to make lemonade out of this lemon, I figure I can at least spend a few minutes a day making a journal of my internetless life. Today I spent an inordinate amount of time in "meatspace", or the real world to you n00bs.

Speaking of, I spent a lot of time figuring out where the hell my meatspace friends list was. Turns out, they haven't implemented that feature yet. I hope they get on that, they're waaaay behind the times.

Also, having spent a lot of time outdoors turned my pale skin red. Is that normal? I can't check WebMD, so I don't really know. I've also considered the possibility that I'm developing super powers, like chameleon-esque camouflage which would be totally rad. Again, I can't confirm this so I'll just have to see how this develops.

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Jul 24, 2008

Stabbing your way to a better you

Recently I found on 1fort, an awesome blog dedicated to all things TF2, links to an advanced spy tutorial. In these videos the guy "omfgninja" shows off some amazing handiwork with the butterfly knife.

The spy class is definitely one of my favorites, simply for the pure thrill of getting behind enemy lines and trying to do as much damage as possible. I actually get a rush of adrenaline when I'm trying to take out a sentry or backstab a few targets, because I know once I'm found their whole team is out to get me. And I have no backup coming.

But it's also the class I play the worst, and I might as well have a giant Flava-flav clock around my neck that reads "I'M A SPY". I'm always spotted immediately, so subtlety must not be my thing. Even when I'm lucky enough to get the drop on people, I miss the stab half the time.

Here's hoping these videos help, and I'll be stabbing my way to a better me in no time!

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

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Unwind to go on vacation - again

Going on vacation again, from Friday to Monday, to go camping out on Cape Cod with a bunch of college buddies of mine. Good food, good beer, good times... but no blog updates. It's not my fault, it's just the simple math of it all: No contributors = no contributions.

I'll be back next Tuesday, again with pictures and stories and whatnot.

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Jul 22, 2008

Photoshop Flailing: A little too convenient

Man, has it been a month since I've last touched photoshop for my own education and amusement? Let's rectify that situation pronto. While we're all a fan of modern conveniences, today's menu of photoshops are what would happen if things were a little too convenient.

First, this Mobile Pizza Delivery Vehicle prototype may be a bit over the top; but with it, Pizza Hut can guarantee you your pizza in 30 seconds or less.

It can deliver pizza to every house on a block in 3 seconds.

While I guess it would make sense to put a McDonald's up on top of Everest, that "Billions and Billions served" claim is a bit dubious...

Be sure to take your picture with Ronald while you're up there!

I once clicked on one of these ads, and as a result I woke up in a bed of ice with only one kidney. True story.

Anyone else convinced they're going to see a billboard like this in their lifetime?

This isn't what I remember in the history books, but Walmart's low, low prices are probably what turned the tide against the Nazis.

That rollback smiley face is a true hero.

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Jul 21, 2008

Toastmaster's speech? In my blog post?

It's more likely than you think.

I am a member of Toastmasters, a most excellent organization that encourages and fosters public speaking and leadership skills in a friendly, supportive environment. From time to time, I'm called upon to give a speech. Tomorrow's meeting is one of those times.

Of course, like the responsible adult that I am, I've put writing the speech until the last minute I've had a full schedule and wasn't able to write my speech yet. So I'm multitasking and writing both this post and my speech at the exact same time!

Look at that, I've just doubled my productivity!

The meeting's overall theme (selected by the meeting's Toastmaster), is about music. Keeping with that theme, I'm doing the Vocal Variety project in the manual I'm working, which asks that I emphasize and vary my voice and tone throughout my speech. Also keeping with the theme, the title of my speech is "The Sound of Silence", which I've included after the break. Enjoy!

P.S. Grammar Nazis, I know this isn't exactly how full paragraphs are formed. It's a speech, not an essay.

Today's theme is around music, but I decided to take things in a different route for my speech. I'm going to reintroduce you to Silence: Silence, meet Audience. Audience, Silence.

How many of you heard Silence? I suppose that's a loaded question that could be answered from scientific, philosophic or zen point of views. But one thing I think anyone can agree on is that we don't get much of it these days anymore. Silence is truly under-appreciated in our society.

We as a culture have a problem with silence, almost as if we have an irrational fear of it. Is it because we fear the unknown? Certainly, that would explain why we force small talk in our day-to-day interactions. After all, we can't get a read on what other people think unless we hear them speak, right?

Or maybe we fear being alone. Maybe silence reminds us that all we ever really have is ourselves. That's a bit depressing, actually, but perhaps there's some truth. Have you ever gotten lost? Like, really really, lost? I know I have, plenty of times. Did you ever call someone up on the phone, knowing full well that they didn't know where you were either? I sure did and it was incredibly reassuring. It wasn't helping the situation in the least, but just hearing someone else's voice was calming.

Whatever the root cause, we fear it. So how do we as a culture combat this fear of silence? Noise. Lots and lots of noise. It's the reason we all listen to background music when we're working or exercising. It's the reason cars are equipped with radios. It's the reason we sing in the shower when we think we're alone. We're dependant on noise.

Left unchecked for many many years, this noise has permeated to all aspects of our lives. Spam in your email box. Television programs designed to hold your attention. Advertisements upon advertisements upon advertisements. People everywhere shouting and vying for your attention just to be heard over all the noise.

But silence isn't all that bad, really. Sure, I wouldn't recommend taking a religious vow of silence or anything but when used appropriately, it can be a powerful tool.

First, and perhaps more obviously, silence improves our ability to sleep. It's almost ridiculous to point to this as an example, but how many of you can go to sleep with a lot of noise? Not many?

Silence gives us the opportunity to reflect and take an introspective look at ourselves. This "alone time" allows us to re-evaluate our goals and tasks to ensure that we're doing what it is we've set out to do.

A bit ironic, in our "NOISE NOISE NOISE" world we live in silence denotes importance. We observe moments of silence as reminders of important events - tragedies, sacrifices, etc. In the same vain, but to a lesser degree, silence is a great way to emphasize points when giving a speech.

Lastly, and I may only be speaking for myself on this one, a really good litmus test for how well I know someone is not how well we converse, but how comfortable we are being silent together. That, I feel, requires deep trust and understanding between people to not give into the natural urge of breaking the silence.

In conclusion, silence isn't something to be feared. It affords us better sleep, it allows us to reconnect with ourselves, and it can be used to confer importance. These are but a few of the many benefits silence can give you.

I recommend people take steps to try and get more silence in their daily lives. It's as easy as turning off the television, radio, computer or whatever source of noise you have for 15 minutes.

Having said that, make some noise as I turn the meeting back over to our Toastmaster, Thulani.

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Dark Chivalry

I saw the Dark Knight tonight. If you haven't seen it, go see it. Right now.

Seriously, right now.

I cannot review the movie because I could never hope to do it justice. But I can say this: this movie actually made me upset that Heath Ledger is dead. Callous as that sounds, and as tragic as his circumstances were (any death is always tragic), I personally don't believe being able to entertain a few people is cause for national mourning. Soldiers killed in combat serving our country move me much more, and where is their press coverage? That's a rhetorical question, of course, and perhaps a rant for another day.

But Heath did something magical as the Joker. At all times when he was on screen I was simultaneously fascinated, appalled, frightened and captivated. It's selfish I admit, but I'm pissed off no one will ever be able to be the Joker again... at least not one as perfect as Heath Ledger's.

See, my exposure to the character of the Joker was that of the cartoon show as a kid, and the Jack Nicholson version of the Joker. As I was explained to by a friend, those were at best a parody of the comic book's version, ironically making the Joker to be more of a clown than he was. Heath's Joker was truer to the comic book: dark, and truly twisted.

And yet, the Joker makes sense. He's the exact opposite of Batman. Where Batman is trying to protect the order within Gotham, the Joker is simply trying to plunge it into chaos. No more, no less. And though he was an agent of chaos he had a plan all along, only finally knowing what his true motives were at the end of the movie.

The depth of this Joker was almost unreal too. His insanity was apparent from get go with the bank robbery he masterminded, and his "magic trick" shortly thereafter is something that's going to stick with me for a good long while.

Balance that out with the Joker's comic nature which was shown in subtle, yet powerful ways. Watch the scene where he's blowing up a hospital in a nurses outfit and tell me that isn't anything but brilliant. There were little mannerisms here and there all throughout the movie that really made you laugh as you were anxious to see what the Joker did next.

And the different stories the Joker kept telling on how he got the scars on his face was an incredibly powerful way to get me to think about what makes the Joker tick. Throughout the movie I kept trying to figure the Joker out, and at no point - even at the end - did I ever really get much answered, which makes him now (at the time of this writing) all the more enthralling.

For me, this Joker is easily as the greatest movie villain of all time. Before seeing this movie, Hannibal Lecter held that spot without question. Hannibal is a smart, calculating, chilling villain that would make me soil myself if I met him in real life.

Heath Ledger's Joker? He's like that but to a much much grander scale. Also, he does it with a smile on his face.

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Jul 18, 2008

The Watchmen trailer

I was originally planning on getting back into some photoshopping, but stumbled across a trailer for the Watchmen. It's a movie coming out early 2009 based on the graphic novel that popularized the graphic novel format. I'd never heard of it before today, but Wikipedia came to the rescue (as always).

The trailer is absolutely amazing, and it's got me super excited for the movie.


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Jul 17, 2008

A shotgun blast of content

Fitness update:
Since posting my intentions about a month ago, things haven't gone as well as planned. I've been keeping up with the WiiFit, but getting to the gym has not been as regular as I would have liked. Also, I scrapped the WeightWatchers thing because I didn't have anyone to go with (originally planning on going with Girlfriend). In all, I'm weighing in at 299.4 pounds, roughly .5 pounds higher than I was about a month ago, according to WiiFit, which could be much worse.

The problem isn't that I'm not staying active, it's just I'm eating too much. As it turns out, I'm addicted to food. I need it as many as 3 times a day, and when I don't get my fix I experience withdrawals and eventually relapse. Every day is a struggle.

Odd Squad update:
One of my old buddies recently revived a project of theirs, The Ice Anvil, to review pretty much whatever tickles their (it's a team of 2) fancy. It's a biting and bizarre take on the best and worst that culture - and sub-culture - have to offer. I've found it to be a great read so far and hope that these guys can keep up their level of output, both in volume and quality.

Unwind update:
You can now subscribe to The Unwind via an RSS feed that is now up and running. Maybe. I think. You see, I've used RSS feeds in the past, but I've never created one before. Blogger appears to have made it happen with only a few clicks of the mouse.

If you are having difficulty subscribing, blame it on the "Jonathan only spent 5 minutes on it so he can get to sleep at a reasonable hour" excuse. Oh, and let me know so I can fix it.

Video update:
It may contain stronger language, it may require a basic understanding of Pokemon, but it made me laugh time and again today:


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Jul 15, 2008

SNL, Financial Planners?

The other day I stumbled across an SNL skit on how to get yourself out of debt:

The message is straightforward plan of "Don't Buy Stuff You Cannot Afford". It's a pretty sad state of affairs when it's up to a sketch comedy show to give Americans sound financial advice. Oh, sorry... didn't realize I was standing on a soapbox there.

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Unwind Movie Review: Wanted

DISCLAIMER: I've done my best not to include any major spoilers but trust me when I say even if I were to spoil the plot, it won't ruin the movie.

An age-old philosophical question asks: "if a tree falls in a forest, does it make a sound?" Wanted pointedly asks: "if a movie makes absolutely no rational sense, is it still entertaining?"

This is me after trying to make sense of this movie.

Perhaps I'm a little ahead of myself. What I knew going into the movie was that it was a typical guy movie: over-the-top action where guns/explosions are given more weight than less-manly things like "plot" and "character development". I was told by those I knew that I would have to suspend belief to get the full enjoyment out of the movie. They weren't kidding...

Wanted is a typical superhero story where our hero (Wesly Gibson, a previous nobody) suddenly discovers his hidden ability, trains really hard (via montage, of course) and then proceeds to kick butt in the name of good. What is his ability? He can make his heart beat really fast so as to pump adrenaline throughout his system and speed up his reaction time to superhuman levels. How fast does he get his heart going? About 400 beats per minute.

400 beats per minute. According to Wikipedia, your maximum heart rate is about 220 minus your age. This is presumably because anything higher than that would cause your heart to explode.

Plot device aside, our explosive-hearted hero joins and trains with a thousand year old fraternity of assassins (cleverly named "The Fraternity"), run out of none other than the textile industry. While I suppose everyone needs a hobby, it's a little frightening to think that the people that supply Jo-Ann Fabrics are the same people that will also happily end someone's life. Come to think of it, I never see Jo-Ann Fabrics do any legitimate business...

I digress. The movie then continues to spit in the face of reality, for example:

  • The first scene sees an assassin jump through a skyscraper window and across the street into another building while shooting 3 people in midair. He only drops one floor in height.
  • Another scene sees the hero hit his fellow assassin's car to flip over his target's bulletproof limo and shoot at him through the limo's sunroof. Not only does he pull this off, the car actually lands and the hero drives off.
  • There's some kind of "magical bath" that, when immersed, causes you to heal from your injuries in hours instead of days. Non-fatal bullet wound? Have a bath, you'll be all set by dinnertime.
There's literally about 50 other examples, but my head hurts enough trying to make sense of this movie already and I'm not going to get into them. Most prominently though, the movie had obsession with "curving the bullet" where the shooter can bend the trajectory of a bullet and have it move around corners. I don't know if this is possible in real life or not, but I have a hunch that anyone who has actually tried to use this in any kind of gun battle isn't alive enough to speak to it.

So you take the tenuous plot device, odd bit about the textile industry, and the general disregard for all physics with a grain of salt. A very, very, VERY large grain of salt that overwhelms you and leave you on the brink of dehydration. It can't get any tougher to swallow than that, right?

Wrong. In comes "The Loom of Fate". This thousand-year-old loom weaves patterns into the cloth it produces. In binary. Of the names of the targets the Fraternity needs to kill. I couldn't even make that up if I tried.

Because let that sink in for a second. The cloth told these mighty assassins who they need to kill. That's not the actions of a highly-sophisticated organization of death, that's something a crazy person would do. I'm pretty sure that "the cloth told me to kill him!" wouldn't even hold up for an insanity defense in court, simply because the judge and jury will just think you're f***ing with them.

But in all honesty, I liked Wanted. Taken within the framework of its crazy universe, the story did kinda make sense and had a surprise twist I never saw coming (very pleasantly surprised). I was promised an over-the-top, action-packed experience and this movie delivered that in spades. Also, it showed Angelina Jolie's butt for about 2 seconds. If any of that appealed to you, you can safely assume your ten bucks won't be wasted seeing it in theaters.

Just do yourself this favor: don't try to make sense of the movie. I did, and it almost gave me a brain aneurysm.

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Jul 14, 2008

Monkeying around

While I'm not inclined to be advertising on The Unwind at this time, the other day I heard possibly the most amazingly ridiculous radio commercial ever made for Ticketsnow.com. Words can't quite capture it, so have a listen:


It's a fairly effective commercial, because after only one exposure to it I not only remembered Ticketsnow.com, I decided I needed to hear this commercial again. Not able to find it after about 15 minutes of searching for it online I actually contacted the company's marketing department, who pointed me to their blog (where it's hosted).

All that for an advertisement. Don't say I never did anything for this blog.

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Jul 11, 2008

Rumor: Microsoft to patent air, world holds breath for fear of royalties

Air, that life sustaining essence we take for granted every day, may soon be legally owned by Microsoft.

Unconfirmed but reliable sources within the Redmond, WA company indicate that the company has already filed a patent for a gaseous compound that is roughly 20% oxygen, 80% nitrogen with trace amount of an unspecified number of other elements. These trace elements were not disclosed as the patent claims these are "trade secrets" of Microsoft.

While this is not the first time the computer company has filed and been awarded large, vague patents, this is the first time the company is patenting something non-computer related. This can only be seen as a marked shift in the company's focus: instead of making its customers' lives easier with its products, Microsoft now intends to make its customers' lives impossible without its products.

While the optimum price point has not yet been determined, there is some internal buzz around implementing a "pay-as-you-go" subscription model, not unlike the one currently made popular by the cellphone industry. Once your prepaid air is up, you need to "re-up" before service can continue. Additionally, Microsoft mentions in the patent anti-piracy measures will be in place to protect its intellectual property.

Microsoft acknowledges that it will beef up its security and infrastructure to deliver the air to its customers, as an unexpected crash or unauthorized denial-of-service attack could be disruptive and inconvenient. Microsoft pledges to put only its best staff on this issue, and not the programmers responsible for Windows ME.

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Jul 10, 2008

Etch-a-sketch + artistic ability = AWESOME

A friend of mine turned me on to the "etchasketchist", as he's referred to in his flickr account. Words cannot describe how cool what it is he's done... the skill used in making his etch-a-sketch art is downright ridiculous.

It makes me retroactively embarrassed for my very blocky "Hi Mom!" I made when I got my first etch-a-sketch at age 15 a long time ago.

To get an idea of what I'm talking about:


I won't steal any more of this guy's thunder. Check out his work at:


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Jul 8, 2008

Who (brotherly) loves you, baby?

Just got back from Philadelphia with my girlfriend and it was amazing.

Philadelphia has a rich tradition of not realizing that July 4th is only one calendar day. They celebrate our nation's independance for an entire week, so it was really cool to arrive on July 5th and still partake in many of festivities. Some of the highlights:

  • Saw a free Boyz II Men concert, followed by fireworks at Penn's Landing.
  • Went to many awesome restaurants, the best of which was Davio's - a really fancy northern italian restaurant that served one of the best steaks I've ever eaten in my life.
  • Cheesesteaks.
  • Got to play in an area with oversized board game pieces. Apparently, Philadelphia is the home of Monopoly. Games are serious business there.
  • Took a hop-on, hop-off bus tour of the city, which really helped with getting around the city without having to pay for cabs. As a result, we went to the Liberty Bell, Betsy Ross House, Philadelphia Art Museum, JFK plaza and many of the other Philadelphia landmarks.
  • The Warwick Raddison Hotel was absolutely amazing, from the room to the people there. If you're ever visiting Philly, I highly recommend this place.
It wasn't all pleasantries, though. The weather wasn't always cooperative, fluctuating anywhere between really muggy and rain. And when I say rain, I'm talking biblical rain. The forty days, forty nights kinda rain. I'm not exaggerating, I've got pictures (below) to prove it.

Also, we had the pleasure of having Hotels.com cancel our reservation on us when I was trying to find out more information about my booking. Much to my surprise, the front desk called up about 5PM Sunday wondering when I'd be checking out. Hotels.com hung up on me twice when I tried to call them to resolve the issue. Bastards. Fortunately, the people at the Warwick were top notch and helped escalate and resolve the issue. Needless to say I'm never booking with Hotels.com (or their parent company Expedia) ever again.

Still, despite the setbacks and misfires, I loved this trip. Check out after the break for some of the more memorable photos taken there.

These are the actual basketball courts where Will Smith's life got flipped, turned upside-down.

The Ben Franklin bridge at night

The Liberty Bell

This isn't rain, this is a flood falling from a high altitude.

Playing around with some giant dominoes:



Anniversary cake at Davio's!

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Jul 4, 2008

Happy 4th from The Unwind

Happy 4th of July, everyone!

Just wanted to take the opportunity to alert you that I'll be going on vacation again (to Philadelphia) from Saturday to Tuesday. Therefore, I won't be able to update The Unwind again until next Wednesday.

I hope to once again have a bunch of stories and pictures and videos from the event to share. That is, if the cheesesteaks don't clog up my heart first.

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You're doing it wrong

Recently, I had stumbled upon a website that points out others' shortcomings. In so much as people and things "fail", one blog strives to chronicle (and laugh at) it all. Be advised while the site is generally worksafe, I personally wouldn't recommend viewing it at work.


"Fail" is something of an internet theme, where if you do something disastrously wrong, you fail. Or are full of fail. Or partake in an epic fail. The internet is not really sure if it is a verb, noun or adjective.

But it is hilarious, and when you have a site that updates regularly with new failures, it makes for some compelling reading. I've included it as part of the Odd Squad for handy reference.

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Team Fortress 2 - new heavy pack and (fan-made) female classes picture

A little bit of Team Fortress 2 news if you haven't already heard. According to the official TF2 blog, the Heavy is slated next for upgrades in the next achievement pack. As Valve has made their process and intentions a little more open, we do know that the goal of this pack is to make the heavy more viable when he's not coupled with a medic. I can't wait!

Also, this has to be one of the coolest TF2-related things I've seen. Someone drew the female counterparts to all the TF2 classes:


Really well done and really freaking cool. The only problem I have with it is the Pyro - we still don't know if the Pyro is male or female to begin with. It's just a person in a suit with a very muffled voice (you ever try shouting through a gas mask?). It makes for one hilarious character, but still the Pyro is gender ambiguous at best.

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Jul 3, 2008

It's enough to make a decent man turn to anarchy

Every 4th of July, my thoughts turn to how it is I'm going to celebrate our nation's independence. The only proper way to celebrate, as we all know, is with controlled explosives. You may call them fireworks, but it's really 6 of one, half-dozen of the other here.

Only problem is, if you live anywhere in the Northeast United States, you don't get to actually do this. In fact, Connecticut law specifically states that the only fireworks available for consumer purchase are:

Hand-held and ground based sparkling devices that are non-explosive and non-aerial, and do not contain more than 100 grams of pyrotechnic composition per item.

That's just legal mumbo-jumbo for SPARKLERS ONLY. Unless you're 3, sparklers aren't any fun. Have you ever tried to force a sense of amusement with a sparkler in your hand? Without fail, you'll be mistaken for a mentally handicapped person. "Oooh, pretty lights!"

What about the "bombs bursting in air" do we not understand here? Our country was founded on violence. We earned it with a bloody war in our own backyards. Let us relive it some of that patriotic spirit by giving us the opportunity to blow something up!

And don't give me that safety concern stuff. If we're encouraged this holiday to drink a Budweiser and smoke a pack of Marlboros as we pig out on hot dogs, hamburgers and potato salad (no doubt increasing our heart risk), surely a few firecrackers can't make things that much worse. Say what you will about our public schools, kids still probably realize they need to run away from a lit explosive.

I wonder if MacGyver ever made any makeshift fireworks out of common household materials...

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Jul 1, 2008


While I've already told this to some of my friends, I felt that there were some other more pressing stories that took priority. As of this past weekend, I am now a card carrying member of Mensa.

According to Wikipedia (who almost always do a better job at explaining things than I do) Mensa is a high-IQ society whose only requirement for entry is that you demonstrate through certain standardized and monitored tests that you are within the top 2% IQ. Truth be told, I don't even know what my IQ is, but my recent GMAT scores (which I did really well in) qualified me.

Doing a little research, they have a list of famous Mensans. Most of them I hadn't heard of, but I was surprised to find a bunch of really cool people:

Also, since I've already gotten some ribbing from those close to me, I've come up with the following, preemptive responses to the typical friendly insults I've received so far:
  • How many geniuses does it take to do [task at hand]? More than we have, currently.
  • It doesn't take a genius to do [task at hand]! I agree, you do it.
  • So this makes you an official nerd now, right? You knew that before, what changed?
  • Nerd. Thanks!
All in all, I'm excited to have become a member and can't wait to see what Mensa has to offer.

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