What does the world cost? Oh well, then we'll just take a small coke.


Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008: A Year to Fit Between 2007 and 2009.


We interrupt your regularly scheduled FCN BC08 for your regularly scheduled New Year's posts.

Well, the year is over, as of 23:59:59 hours after this is posted.

It's been a good run. All kinds of things happened, which we will prove by fondly remembering them at this time, month by month.

JANUARY

Bush delivers a State of the Union address, which, unlike the one before it, focuses mainly on foreign affairs. He touches briefly on all the bad guys left in the world, such as democrats, and wonders aloud about amending the constitution to prevent them from holding office.

The democratic presidential race is shaken when the number 44 appears on Mr. O's forehead, presumably as an act of Some Vague Providential Being or Force that We All Believe In.

Bank of America buys Countrywide Financial and no one cares.

Hillary Clinton makes the memorable statement: "Boys are stupid."

FEBRUARY

Writer's Guild of America considers ending the strike and decides not to.

Mr. O rightfully calls himself: "The son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas, ordained to save America by all that is good in this world."

Bank of America's takeover of Countrywide Financial hits several snags related to the SRM Global Fund. Bank of America asks for a hug but doesn't get one.

A technical failure prevents BlackBerry users from accessing the interwebs for three hours. One of them exclaims: "I didn't know we had a pool!"

MARCH

US Yacht Club hosts America's Cup. This year, it proves to be the most exciting series of matchups in 157 years. In spite of this achievement, it remains even more boring than curling and snail racing combined.

In a suburban residence in Kansas, a fierce argument over the merits of Mac vs PC ensues.

Mr. O's pastor is revealed to have made some remarks which would have been very inappropriate coming from a white person. Mr. O makes a rousing speech which is instantly recognized as the greatest speech ever in the history of everything. A memorable excerpt: "I am not a black man first, and I am not an American Patriot first. In my mind, there is no difference between them."

A Rolling Stone staff writer invents the word "squeeb" and it doesn't catch on.

APRIL

Bank of America reports a 77% decline in earnings, which it blames on "those cheeky sniffing baboon nazis" at the SRM Global Fund.

F comes very close to getting a girlfriend but ends up playing Halo with the guys instead.

The IRS takes candy from a baby.

Scientists unearth the oldest human remains ever to be found in the Americas. Sophisticated dating equipment places the prehistoric fossil - which was apparently electrocuted by faulty wiring in a Dirt Devil vacuum cleaner - at fourteen thousand years old.

Pope Benedict XVI visits Washington DC and urges every American to "do better."

MAY

Hugo Chavez refers to German Chancellor Angela Merkel as "Adolf Hitler without a mustache."

Bank of America/Citywide Financial announce that they will spend "the remaining 22%" on a Bankruptcy Prevention Fund. SRM Global is heard making sniggering noises.

Mr. O causes the sun to shine and the flowers to grow.

A disillusioned farm girl who went to Hollywood to make it big as an actress realizes they "just want me for my body."

JUNE

John McCain asks an aide: "Why are we campaigning in Barstow?"
To which the aide replies: "I'm not exactly sure."

A scientific breakthrough indicates that sandwiches made with bumblebee tuna are tastier than any other kind.

The UN tells Africa: "I don't care who started it. Both of you go to your room."

Virgin Galactic announces a "Race for Space," in which it will compete against itself.

N is invited to go backpacking in Europe. He turns down the offer because "the dollar is weak and I have homework to do."

JULY

Bank of America completes its purchase of Citywide Financial but forgets to get its credit card back. The bank calls later in the day to say it will swing by tomorrow to pick it up.

The release of the iPhone 3G renders MP3 players, gaming consoles, GPS devices, personal computers, telephones, hard drives, headphones, binoculars, webcams, crock pots, taking notes in class, saying I'm Sorry, the nation of Ukraine, and the Samsung Instinct obsolete.

James Cameron announces that he has discovered the lost kingdom of Atlantis. It ends up being a really dirty swimming pool.

The Dark Knight's opening weekend puts other movie's ticket sales into the negatives.

Mr. O releases a press statement saying: "Change We Can Believe In." The statement is true.

AUGUST

The glorious Russian Federation invades the Unworthy Nation of Georgia. The International Community says it was a good idea but wishes it had been consulted first.

Bank of America is subpoenaed for suspicious behavior while acquiring Citywide Financial. Share holders do a collective face palm.

The 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China grind to a halt halfway through after Michael Phelps wins all the gold medals. He celebrates by swinging his arms back and forth and having a brief romantic fling with the grandmother of one of the Chinese gymnastic athletes.

Mr. O announces that his presidential running mate will not be Hillary Clinton.

SEPTEMBER

ThePirateBay.Org, one of the most popular internet piracy websites, gets its name and logo stolen by a video streaming site. Says Pirate Bay: "Oh snap!"

Wall Street decides to take advantage of the total lack of supervision it's getting from the Federal Government by collapsing. Billions of dollars are lost. Says Wall Street: "That'll show you."

A screenshot of Activision's upcoming WWII shooter Call of Duty: World at War is released. Master Chief announces that this is "the happiest day of my life."

Wal-Mart wins the title: "Best Worst Very Valuable Business in a Bad Class." In its absence, Wal-Mart's cousin accepts the award.

McCain announces that his presidential running mate will be Tina Fey.

OCTOBER

Polling data indicates that the only danger now facing Mr. O's campaign is a sudden attack from alien dinosaurs.

Josh Groban mistakenly releases his Christmas CD "Noel" eleven weeks early.

Halloween is a lot less fun than everyone had been hoping.

Freelance Folder publishes 15 Key Elements All Top Web Sites Should Have. FCN has none of them.

NOVEMBER

Mr. O is elected King of the Universe. His first order: as punishment, George W. Bush is to serve three more months as President. Says Joe Biden: "Serves him right."

Improvements to Google's Android phone renders the iPhone 3G obsolete.

Bob Halpert announces he's tired of sweeping the porch. He wants to go inside and watch TV. He does.

Global Warming ends up not being a problem after all. Says Al Gore: "My bad. It was an honest mistake. I'll go back to whining about 2000 now."

DECEMBER

A small number of Americans cling to guns and religion.

The average expected income from stock investing drops below sleeping in, asking a rich uncle for one more chance, and getting a payday advance.

The release of Grand Theft Auto IV for Windows causes America to become immoral.

Digital switchover of TV signals yields $1.5 billion for the US Treasury. C insists he'll still be able to get a signal after the switch with patience and a little aluminum foil.

Hillary Clinton named by Mr. O as the new Secretary of State. Says Hillary: "Whatever man!"

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

FCN BC08 - C: Menu

Have you ever been to a restaurant with a member of the fair sex? I am asking this question, of course, to our male readers because most, if not all, of the female members of the faithful few have been to a restaurant. I know this because I took them there and paid the bill. That makes me a successful male - because I took many females to several restaurants and paid the bill. The fact that I have never been able to sustain several successive restaurant visits with one particular person or pay any bill that exceeds $15.00 is not relevant. The McDonalds in Wal-Mart can be a classy date. So can the one in Target.

As a guy, I know how to order food efficiently. Before going into the restaurant, I think about what I want to eat. With that image firmly pressed into my mind, I look at the menu and look for the thing that most closely approximates it. Then I order it, unless I see a cow-based product like hamburger, beef or steak, in which case I order that. It is almost always the case that the food image I have in my mind is a cow-based product, but if it isn't (maybe I had hamburger every day for the last month), the image of the cow meat will enter my head and push out whatever else I was thinking of. Sometimes the cow meat will push out the other image even when I have eaten hamburger every day for the last month. Maybe that's why I end up eating so much hamburger...

If there are several cow-based products on the menu, ties are broken by price. I will always choose the cheaper item. Once I tried to impress a date by purchasing the more expensive cow-based food product. It broke the bank and I had to ask her to cover the tip. Very tacky. Now I always order from the cheap side.

My menu analyzing skills can be applied very quickly. I can go from "hi how are you?" to "that'll be out in five minutes" in a jiffy. And the speed gives me extra time to ogle the waitress.

Females approach the menu with the concern of a mother bear and the intensity of a broken light bulb. They are very concerned about getting the order right, but don't invest the appropriate energy to achieve that end. They think that the meal they are about to order will set the foundation for their afternoon and that if their afternoon goes poorly they may never get out of the rut and will have bad days for the rest of their lives. Ordering the stir fry may upset the careful balance of their lives and render them culinarily destitute -- a situation analogous to an unsolvable bad hair day in your stomach. Imagine that for perpetuity -- a period of time that has no end -- and most females might as well be at the altar beneath an arbor as in front of a menu.

Women are concerned about fat content, how the order will appear to their date, cost, aesthetics and taste - in that order.

The fat content needs to be low in order to impress all the other women of the female's nutrition consciousness. No other measures of nutrition matter.

The food needs to appear reasonable and feminine to the date. If a woman orders the 12 oz. Sirloin while the guy gets the 8 oz. Boubon Street, the female has out manned the man. Not good. Most men see this as an afront to their masculinity and will be pressured into order progressively more expensive menu items. This makes the man uncomfortable and increases the odds that the woman will not be invited out on any future dates.

The order should be expensive. At least as expensive as the guy's meal. This shows that the woman is worth something and tests the guys willingness and ability to pay. Guys who cannot pay for expensive fast food items are not worth continued dating. Females should consider starting with the most expensive menu item and working their way down to a menu item they like. CAUTION: Avoid the temptation to supersize. Supersizing violates the fat content warning.

The food needs to look good. This has as much to do with the female's appetite as anything else. I really don't understand it.

The food needs to taste good. This is the least important criterion.

The female approaches the menu tentatively, reading through the entire document to glean all available information. The female thinks through each of the criteria, often maintaining a boistrous conversation with her date. She will eliminate options tentatively. New realizations and thoughts about the menu will cause her to reconsider her previous eliminations. Sometimes she will start over and reevaluate all the choices, but she will never tell anyone else what she is doing. Inquiries into her selection process are an afront to her judgment and are met with offense.

The female is like the BCS - no one knows how she makes her rankings.

Monday, December 29, 2008

FCN BC08 - F: Gender as Described by Animals, a Photo Essay

Animals make great illustrations. That's why there are so many illustrations of them.

Today, we examine a dozen illustrations of animals which illustrate illustrative differences between human males and females. The gender of the animals, is, of course, unimportant. They're just for illustrational purposes. Illustrationals of humans, which are of course different from animals. Some animals don't even have genders. I know, right? Seriously.

Let's begin.


Baboon opens his mouth really wide for all the world to see.
Male.

Chimpanzees groom each other for hours on end.
Female.


Squirrel casts his body into the unknown with no regard to personal safety.
Male.

Red Panda is really cute but doesn't know it.
Female.


Beaver builds something big using mostly teeth.
Male.

Cat takes interest in someone who just doesn't want to be friends.
Female.

Dog throws dignity to the wind in hopes of getting what the woman is teasing him with.
Male.

Peacock attracts opposite gender by showing engaging personality.
Female.

Birds hang upside down for reasons not even they can verbalize.
Male.

Wolves move in packs with extremely complex social structures.
Female.

Wolves assert dominance by crushing the competition.
Male.

Hippo tolerates slightly annoying but small and cute birds on back.
Female.

Friday, December 26, 2008

FCN BC08 Topic Announcement

We are pleased to announce that the Topic of the Funny Class Notes Blog Contest 2008 is:

Understanding of the Opposite Gender.

FCN Contributor entries will begin appearing next week. You're welcome to make your own entry: just mail it to funnyclassnotes at gmail.com before Ana makes her post in early January.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

One Week is All We Ask


Seasons Greetings from all of us here at FCN. We're taking the week off for The Holidays to sit back with friends and family, sip egg nog, and remember what this season is really all about: Frosty the Snowman.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Blogging Contest!

FCN now has six contributors and all of us are out of school for the Christmas break (that's "xmas" for all of you reading this on your iPhones). We are happy to be on vacation, down from the ivory tower and back in the real world with the rest of normal America. But with the respite from classes, grades and examinations comes a great deal of free time -- free time which is not always put to the most productive use. Free time which makes the six of us feel cooped up and antsy and causes us to grate on one another, forming wounds that turn painful because they can't scab because of the constant grating.

I am finally getting to understand why J. Lo divorced Ojani Noa (hubby #1) so quickly. I think I know why Bernard Madoff was finally double-crossed by his sons. I comprehend Eve's thinking when she ate the apple.

This pressurized tank needs a release valve.

We did this once before and it resulted in two painful posts and one stroke of unadulterated brilliance.

Over the weekend, a theme for the upcoming FCN writing contest will be selected. On Monday, F will post his take on the theme. He'll be followed by, in order: N, Chip, Jessica, Ana and C. If any reader class notes are submitted, they'll come at the end. When all of us have put up our best efforts, we'll make a really gaudy poll and ask you, the faithful few, to select the contributor who wrote the best treatment of the theme.

Sounds simple, right? And very American.

But we're going to make it even MORE American by letting you, our readers, decide the theme. How awesome is that? Extremely awesome. Get your Free Speech on by commenting below with the topic you think we should use for our contest.

Possible examples: War, Love, Donuts, Blogging, Buying a Car, Ear Pressure at High Altitudes, Mouse Traps, Existentialism ...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

My Manifesto


The following was sent in by a verbose reader:

Yesterday I was walking in a field. I thought to myself 'Hm. Perhaps I have struck upon something brilliant.' and then I thought to myself 'Maybe not' I carried on this way for some time, until finally I said out loud "Dash it all I think I have." and I did. An idea had snuck its way into my head while I wasn't looking. It was, without a doubt, the most brilliant thought of this age. My head nearly exploded. "My good sir, you have it" I said to myself. I thought 'without a doubt' and 'most assuredly' and other helpful thoughts which raised my spirits and granted me confidence that my idea, my brain child was truly brilliant. I even thought that to myself. 'Brilliant'

You may wonder to yourself 'What possibly could have entered his mind?' or 'Did he find a new way to boil water?' or some such unhelpful thought. No matter how hard you think though, you will never strike upon it. I struck upon it in a moment of unbridled mastery. I controlled the elements while I looked at a butterfly and wondered to myself 'How' and 'Perhaps not' and 'Just as I thought it was' and other helpful thoughts. Now you may wonder, 'what in the world does a
butterfly have to do with anything?' this thought is most unhelpful and I will consequently pretend it wasn't said. I will also ignore the butterfly.

Now we come to the point of this manifesto. Laughter. Yes, I thought that when I thought it as well. When I thought laughter that is. We can put that in the same category where the butterfly is and forget about it. My thought was beyond such childish, dreamlike sensibilities of flowers, butterflies, laughter and great big men with red beards. But I digress. Even a mind as sharp as mine will wonder 'It is not so!' or 'But why not brown' or possibly 'Happenstance!' In fact, I
once spent an entire day wondering 'Why is it so?' and then 'Because it must be' and then 'What if it's not?' and then 'Perhaps you have a point' and then' You DO have a point' and then 'Dash it all I forgot what I was thinking' and then back to 'Why is it so' and so on. Finally I fell asleep and dreamed of birds eating pumpkins. Yes I know, it was THAT sort of dream.

Now we come to the essence of the manifesto. The thought. The inspiration. The core. The thesis. The catalyst of all thought as we know it in this great age. The theme. The purpose of this torrent of verbiage. My thought. I say that with some pride (I think to myself as I write this 'I did' and 'Quite so' and 'Didn't I' and 'Of course' and all sorts of other helpful thoughts) But parenthetical comments aside (Except for this one which reminds you not to fall asleep just yet), let me say what I came here to say.

But first, a description of the field. It was a nice sort of field. With flowers, and the butterfly we forgot about (the one we aren't going to talk about). And a man with a great red beard. I thought to myself at the time 'Norwegian?' and 'African?' and 'Asian?' and all sorts of other helpful thoughts. I think, in the end, that he was Spanish, or Portuguese. It really doesn't matter.

Now you may be thinking, 'Why am I reading this?' or 'What is the point?' or maybe 'Just as I thought!' or other unhelpful thoughts. I cannot stress enough that these thoughts are most counterproductive and must be put aside instantly! How can I think when your barrage of negative thoughts are constantly assaulting my cranium? All I can think of is 'Most unhelpful!' and 'Positively negative!' and other thoughts which in another circumstance would be helpful, but at the moment are more of a nuisance. I say again: Stop thinking such thoughts.

Here is the conclusion. The recap. Here we look at the brilliance that I have espoused in my first manifesto. I had an unparalleled thought, one even better than John Thornton's "Perhaps in the end it really is a cow:" or Mabel's "Three step biscuit." I couldn't put the thought on this page though. Perhaps in a later manifesto. When people are ready for it. I thought I might. I even thought 'I must' and 'Dare I?' and other helpful thoughts. However I cannot. For your own sake. My head almost exploded. I can't bear to think of what may happen to the minds of the younger readers of this fine work. Therefore I must say goodbye. I think I will. Goodbye.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Life Tip #82

Don't deny the Holocaust.

If you must deny the Holocaust, do not decorate your living room with war books, German combat knives and swastikas.

If you must deny the Holocaust, decorate your living room with war books, German combat knives and swastikas, do not name your son after the most infamous mass murder of all time.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

NEWS FLASH: Rod Blagojevich

Have you heard about the Governor of Illinois? You may have read in the news that he is accused of trying to sell off the Senate seat recently vacated by President-Elect Barack Obama, but that's not the half of it.

Rod Blagojevich took state funds -- given to him for expenses incurred as Governor of Illinois -- and used them to rent an RV and drive his family to a national park for personal vacation.

He misappropriated money for a personal vacation.

He used money from dubious sources to refurbish his kitchen and remodel one of the bathrooms in his personal home and he lied about how he got the money when asked by federal investigators.

As if that were not enough, Blagojevich hired expensive prostitutes and used a pseudonym to launder money to hide his shameful activity from authorities.

He paid the prostitutes using cold money from a stash wrapped in food-storage containers in his freezer, received as bribe money in exchange for illegal favors.

Blagojevich abused personal credit cards and conspired with a mistress to buy and re-sell state property illegally.

And Blagojevich is gay. Yes, Rod Blagojevich is a homosexual. The father of two has been hiding his feelings while living with his wife and running the state.

Blagojevich was caught sending innappropriate emails to pages in his Chicago office.

Blagojevich fired a state police chief after he refused to fire one of Blagojevich's former relatives (divorce, etc). The Governor may have abused his office but the firing was legal since the chief was an at-will employee.

During the Presidential campaign, Blagojevich's son hacked Sarah Palin's email.

Blagojevich had a DUI. A week after that surfaced, it came out that he had cheated on wife and had fathered a child with another woman.

Did I mention that the "other woman" was a campaign worker in Blagojevich's campaign?

And no, Rod Blagojevich will not resign. He doesn't think he has done anything that would keep him from performing his duties as Governor of Illinois any worse than previous governors. And you know, he may be right.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Zombie Monday #5: Fun Facts about Zombies


Wow. Lots of great comments last week. Sadly, we can't get to them all right away, but none of them have been forgotten.

In place of the usual Myth/Fact format, this week's Zombie Monday answers several questions about zombies with scientific facts.

"Can zombies climb vertically up building walls? That was an important part of my old ZSP." - Tim

Tim: Yes and no. Zombies do not have any special climbing powers that humans don't, so a sheer slippery cliff with no holds will be a significant obstacle for zombies. But, as with humans, zombies are able to climb if they have something to rest their weight on. Ledges, balconies, and any sort of handhold will give zombies an edge and decrease your safety. Most zombies are no Altair; high points afford at least some protection from most zombies. But if you got there, they can too. Remember that.

"I have a question: How do zombies become zombies in the first place? I've never been quite sure of this since I have never watched any zombie movies or read any books about them." - Kirk

"Where do the zombies come from -- and where are they now? (translation: Why should we believe you anyway?)" - Lauren H

It's impossible for us to see into the future and tell you exactly how zombies will break out. But we can make an educated guess based on the best evidence available to us now. Why believe us, Lauren? Because you have no evidence that we're wrong, and deep down inside you know you should be prepared for the worst-case scenario, no matter how improbable it is.

The zombie virus is a semi-intelligent organism that infects and takes over the sentient nervous systems of their hosts through contact with the blood stream. The full infection usually takes about one hour from initial contact to full takeover.

Having been infected, zombies pursue a heirarchy of needs much narrower that the one Mazlow gave us. The animal-like virus, unable to process notions like comfort and love, pursues just one goal: survival. Because the virus is unable to animate the entire body - just cause limited nervous reactions - it will be unable to prevent damage and rot to the host. The short term solution is to find fresh meat - high calorie food that keeps the zombie moving. The long term solution is to find a less-decayed host to infect. The latter solution is the highest goal of a zombie, but both goals keep zombies moving in systematic and unflagging search of human survivors.

You can become a zombie in a number of ways.

The easiest is to be bitten by a zombie. Zombies usually try to take meat from their targets in non-lethal ways, in order to make sure the new host stays operational. A little gnawing is sufficient to satiate the zombie; it will then move on to find new prey. The saliva of the zombie will infect your blood stream and gradually work its way through your body. Eventually it will begin taking over your brain, causing you to become incoherent or pass out. When the takeover is complete (meaning you're brain dead and your body is controlled by the virus), you'll "come to life" again and join the horde.

There are other less common ways, such as sharing needles with zombies or eating something infected with the virus.

The zombie virus exists, in various strains, amongst us today. There may have been a little zombie in your breakfast cereal. But almost all common zombie strains are too weak to take over the human nervous system. They fight a short battle and then your white blood cells clean you out. Whenever you feel a little under the weather and think maybe you'll be sick the next day but end up being fine - you know the feeling - that was probably your body defeating an attack from a benign strain of the zombie virus.

Several dangerous strains of zombie have been discovered and isolated. In the fifties, there were several incidents of zombie breakouts in small mountain towns. The areas were quarantined by people who choose to plan ahead *ahemahem* and the threat was contained, causing a mere hundred or so casualties in each instance. The surviving test tubes have been deemed national security threats and are kept in secure vaults guarded by the United States Government. But if there's one zombie virus, there's a million. You never know when one might pop up naturally in a dense metropolitan area and spread before it can be contained.

Of course, there are also plenty of morons who want to break open the vaults and begin experimenting on the tubes. There's talk of finding anti-aging medicine or building super soldiers. As anyone who has seen movies knows, this will inevitably result in the release of the toxin into the world, causing apocalypse.

"What if you aren't human to start with?" - LadyLurker

As far as we know, the zombie virus only targets humans. We're not sure why - further testing and observation could answer that. Perhaps the nervous systems of lesser life forms are insufficiently complex. So if you're a plant or a bear, you're probably safe.

If you're an alien, all bets are, of course, off.

"Please, I think you have exhasted the zombie topic. Enough of zombies, please, Please? PLEASE!" - Anonymous

In a word, no. Let us pose you this question, Anonymous: would you choose not to plan for a house fire or a car crash because those events are unlikely and unpleasant to discuss? Of course not. Zombie apocalypse may not seem like an imminent threat, but that's no reason not to have a plan, just as the statistical likelihood that your house will never catch on fire is no reason not to install smoke detectors and know the nearest exit.

What's the worst that can happen from formulating a ZSP? You just enagaged in a healthy mental excercise.

What's the worst that can happen from NOT formulating a ZSP? Think back to a time you watched a little boy eat lasagna. Now hold that sound in your mind. You got it? That's you on Day One of the apocalypse.

Don't be Zombilagna like Anonymous. Post your zombie survival plan and we'll try to respond in an upcoming Zombie Monday.

Friday, December 12, 2008

My way or the Segway!


For a small private school in the third most polluted county in the nation, Pacific sure has a big campus. Call me indolent, but the trek from the Eberhardt building to South Campus is strenuous, especially for an out-of shape junior whose most demanding daily physical activity is at the breakfast table.
Especially when the arduous journey is packed in the ten-minute break between back-to-back classes.

Especially when the professor in the first class falls in love with his own eloquence and forgets the time.

For the last month I have made like Usain Bolt and hoofed my way cross country with all collegiate alacrity. My folds sway, my breath puffs and I get to class smelling like a gym locker and looking more moist than Taylor Swift at the ACM awards, but I’m not tardy.

It does, however, remain a mystery why all the seats around me are vacant.

A friend told me to purchase a skateboard. What a Californian suggestion. I suppose I should also pick up a pair of thongs and a bandanna as well? Watching me tumble through campus on a surf board with wheels, causing more property damage than OJ Simpson at a Las Vegas memorabilia dealer, might be funny in a kick-in-the crotch sort of way, but it isn’t any more appealing than running. And I’m not convinced that scrapes are superior to sweat.

The answer came to me while listening to Weird Al the other day: why not roll on a Segway? I’m already “whiter than sour cream,” what harm would the world’s first self-balancing human transporter do?

Segways, for those of you who are too hip to be up on the Silicon Valley’s most glamorous vehicle on two wheels, are personal transporters powered completely by green power. Depending on the model I purchase (a proposition that will cost me around $6,000.), I will be able to attain speeds of over 11 miles per hour.

Just think: at that breakneck pace, I will be the punctual Kahuna on campus. The Segway is also dangerous, which I like because that might rub off on me.

It’s the perfect craft for the Pacific student. So when you see a poorly adjusted white boy whizzing down the pedestrian walkways at treadmill speeds, know that I will be on time to class. Eat it Usain!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Phoropters (And Other Instruments of Torture)


It was the minute I’d been dreading for a whole 24 hours. The day before, I’d gotten a reminder call from my optometrist’s office. I don’t remember scheduling an appointment... I think I blocked that out.

It was the minute I wondered if I really needed to get my eyes checked. Seriously, what could have gone wrong with them since last year?

I finally toughened up and walked to the receptionist’s desk, checked in, then sat down to fill out the paperwork. I miss the days when my parents would fill it out for me. There’s way too much writing involved in filling out forms. The last page of the packet was a release form. The most unsettling one was about eye dilation. I’d never had it done before that I could remember, so my number was up. Crud.

After turning in the paperwork, I had a bit of time to wait until my appointment. The man who had just come from the bowels of the office after his checkup was looking at glasses, trying to decide if he should buy any. He must have just gotten off work because he still had his DHL uniform on. Those are really hard to miss, quite bright and eye-catching. The lights of the office were glinting off his chrome dome, and I tried not to stare. I did notice when he told the cashier he would wait on getting glasses for a while, then he left.

Gulp. My turn.

The doctor came to retrieve me. Surprisingly, he was wearing a sweater and khakis today. I could hardly contain my shock as I followed him into the depths of the offices into a dimly lit room. Wordlessly, he motioned for me to sit in the examination chair. He put the phoropter in front of my face and proceeded with the “Which one looks better, 1… or 2? Which one looks better, 2… or 3?” test as I tried to find a difference between the lens choices he gave me. I’m pretty sure he tried to trick me by using the same lens strength twice in a row.

Then he said it was time to do the “air puff” test. If you’ve never had this done, basically, it involves holding your eye open while air gets blown out at high pressure at your eye in one short blast. How is this natural or safe? Really, I can see nothing good about getting air shot at your eyeball. But I was never consulted about the creation of these “tests”.

Time to get my eyes dilated. “This might burn a little,” he said as he put the drops in my eyes. I was tempted to cover my eyes and scream, “IT BURNS, IT BURNS!!” just to try to get a reaction from him. I resisted. However, for the next few hours, my dilated eyes could not focus on anything closer than 3 feet from me. I felt geriatric.

After a couple more tests (I can’t tell you about them since I blocked them out of my memory), I was released. “See you next year!” the receptionist cheerily called as I hastened away.

Exactly one week later, I drove past a two-car accident. As I tried to assess the situation, I couldn’t help but laugh at what I saw. There was a balding, glasses-less DHL delivery man standing by his delivery truck… what was left of it after it collided with a pickup truck. It was the man from the eye doctor's office. I bet he was regretting his decision to delay getting some glasses.

Perhaps eye doctors are important after all.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Good Idea/Bad Idea #3



Good idea: Going for a walk barefoot in the park
Bad idea: Going for a walk barefoot in the dog park

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Search for the Perfect Major: Part 1


Hesitantly, I stood outside my advisor’s door with my hand poised in the pre-knock position. Almost as if on cue, she opened the door and seemed startled to see me there. She was heavily laden with stacks of books and paper in a jumbled mess in her arms. The cluttered mass much resembled her hair, which seemed like a female version of Einstein’s infamous exploding hairdo. Was it my imagination, or was there a paper clip hanging from one of her stray locks?

“Oh my, I forgot all about our appointment. I’m so sorry, let me go back in my office and put this down and we can talk all about your little problems.”

Little problems? I had a major problem. And that’s exactly what it was.

I followed her as she made her way back through the door. I noticed the stacks of paper on her desk. They looked like essays and research papers. She was an English teacher. I made a mental note to avoid her classes.

Sighing, she folded her hands under her chin and propped her elbows up on the desk. “Now where were we?”
“You asked me to stop by your office today to talk about my major.”
“That’s right. What major had you chosen? I can’t remember.”
“Well, that’s the problem. Honestly, I actually haven’t picked one yet.”
“You’re certainly running out of time. Have you seen any majors that have piqued your interest?”
“No. I think I’m destined to be a professional hobo.”
“Now, don’t be hasty. I’m sure you’ll find a major soon. Why don’t you take the rest of the semester and look at your options. Let me know what you decide.”

After giving me some insight and direction on the proper way to explore the majors, she shooed me out the door so she could get to a meeting.

I strolled back to my dorm room, deep in thought. The wind wove its fingers in my hair, whipping it around the edges of my pensive face. My cheeks started to tingle with the effects of the chilly breeze. My advisor was right, my time was running out. For goodness sake, here I was halfway into the fall semester of my sophomore year, and I had no direction in my life. I didn’t need to plan out my life. I simply needed a general route for my academic pursuits.

That brings me to the present. I’ve decided to do a little research on the first major on my list… Theatre.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Zombie Monday #4: That's already been thought of.


There's never been a better time to prepare for a zombie apocalypse.

MYTH: After the zombies break out, there will be plenty of time and capital to react.

Think of your four closest friends. At least one of you has a zombie plan involving buying a survival kit and escaping after word of zombies arrives. If none of those friends have such a plan, that person is you.

Common example: "RUN!" - ME!

Better example: "Fly away, be free! PS: Make sure you bring donuts, ice cream, refrigerator, cookies, tri-tip, yummy food, and food. Oh yeah, bring water, soda, and other yummy drinks." - Anonymous

Best example: "My preferred form of Zombie Apocalypse survival plan is fairly simple. Move to an island, preferably large, and live out the rest of your days happily. Ideally you'd take other survivors with you and begin a new human colony. When the zombies have finished eating themselves, you can simply move back to the mainland and begin to repopulate the earth." - Hank the Janitor

FACT: By the time you know zombies are on the loose, it's probably too late.

A rundown on the early phases of the coming apocalypse, as established by scientific investigation:

Phase 1: Ignorance is bliss.

A recent FCN poll indicated that more than half of our readers REFUSE to prepare for a zombie apocalypse because they believe it is impossible. They are determined to be caught with their britches down, perhaps not metaphorically.

The same is true for most of the world. There is an appalling lack of preparation going on from people who are unwilling to even consider the possibility the zombies may one day roam the earth. They stumble blindly into the future in hopes their preconcieved notions don't kill them. Well, we say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of going: "I should have listened to FCN," down the road.

Because of the prominent position zombies have in popular culture - especially irresponsible humorists who use zombies for a cheap laugh - no one will believe initial reports about a zombie attack. Even live footage of an undead horde eating a crowd of screaming fans at a U2 concert will be insufficient evidence. People will laugh it off as a hoax.

Phase 2: Panic.

After a day or two, the problem will be too widespread to ignore. The average person will realize that the undead are coming to his or her hometown. At this point, every means of transit will be glutted by people trying to get from where they are now to someplace else.

Most people's panic-stricken plan will be something like: "Go home, grab some necessities, pick up the family, get a first-aid kit, a rifle, and a bunch of food at the wall-mart superstore, and flee to the mountains."

What happens when billions of people decide to do the same thing at the same time? The highways are clogged to a standstill. Rumors of zombie breakouts just ahead (most of which will be untrue) will cause many to offroad, or leave their cars and hoof it. Many will be hysterical, trying to round people up for a last stand or walking blindly in the direction of the zombies to get it all over with. Others will shoot at anything that moves.

Phase 3: Looting.

Within hours, every retail outlet will be emptied of its inventory. No one wants to stand in line with zombies coming up the road, so would-be survivors will break into stores in massive numbers, overwealming security and police. The military will be sadly unable to retain order; it will be busy engaging in direct actions against the zombies and will be unable to mount a nation-wide marshal law.

Disagreements over who gets the last shotgun, tent, or can of beans will be resolved by combat to the death. Small gangs of survivors will roam shopping areas and engage in bloody firefights with anyone who wants to come in. Otherwise peaceful suburban dads, with wives and two kids waiting in the car, will become bloodthirsty maniacs, slaughtering each other for a chance at survival.

Phase 4: Social collapse.

The situation will be even more grim at the roads exiting metropolitan areas. People will resort to any means necessary to clear the road ahead, including gunplay and ramming. In spite of their efforts, the sheer volume of people will render travel by any means nearly impossible.

Bus stops, train stations, airports, and harbors will be torn apart as anarchy takes over. No one will be getting where they want to be, and as time passes, the panic will reach paralyzing proportions.

Phase 5: Zombies arrive.

It is into this setting that the zombies will walk. Civilization will be in complete disorder, totally unable to react to the undead. Many will be trapped, unable to do anything but watch in horror as the horde closes in. Plans to stock up on yummy drinks and flee to an island will be long forgotten.

One of the most important parts of any zombie plan is uniqueness. The first thing that comes to mind is also what will come to your neighbor's mind, and next thing you know, he's standing over your body in Target triumphantly holding aloft a six pack of slim-fast meal replacement shakes.

Plan ahead. Be unique.

Comment with your zombie survival plan for a free expert analysis.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Faithful iPhone few

The topic of our in-class discussion was highly controversial: We were hashing out the role of race in today's political scene and trying hard to avoid stepping on any of the hair trigger explosives littering the topic area while remaining relevant and interesting. For some students, this was a germane and current subject. For others, myself included, this was a key part of the course's participation grade.

"We don't call Asian students 'yellow' or Native American people 'red.' Why should we call ourselves 'black?' It's a superficial label that is actually demeaning to our culture and race. That's why we don't like the word 'black.' I am from Moundou, Chad -- well my family is; I was born in Dallas. My family is from Africa and we are African-Americans. That's what we want to be called. Not 'black.'" LaFawnduh, the class' only minority student, was making her attempt at an A in participation. I wanted to ask about "African-Americans" from the Carribean, maybe check and see if Usain Bolt wanted to be called an "African-American," but thought better of it. I am white; asking a question like that would be tantamount to interrogating a woman about her fashion. I was out of my league.

The rest of the class seemed to feel this way and an awkward pause formed over the room. That's when Blake, a poorly adjusted derelict who sits in the back of class, asks mind-numbingly dumb questions and has the face of a Halo addict, made his presence known with an impossibly loud snicker that sounded as if it escaped accidentally despite his intense will to avoid the expulsion. Everyone in the room turned partially to get a better look at Blake, who had gone unnoticed through the first part of the discussion. Blake's face was flushed with effort - presumably because he had been trying hard to avoid laughter - and more blood rushed to his face at his public embarrassment.

"Sorry," Blake apologized but offered no explanation for his stifled laugh.

A few minutes later, I got my chance to participate. "I think black candidates should paint themselves white to fool voters. They could apply some of that skin lacquer like what Marcel Marceau used. Just daub it on really thick like primer. Or all the white candidates could paint themselves black like Robert Downy Jr. in Tropic Thunder. If they did it throughout the electoral season, no voters would be the wiser and we could just evaluate the candidates on their merits and not worry about skin color. Maybe that is Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream."

The class sat still in a sort of stunned silence. Then Blake snickered again. This time I'd been watching. His attention was not occupied by class at all. Far from it, he was responding to something on his iPhone which he had hidden behind the binding of his notebook. Blake's utterance ignited the rest of the class and my participation score was saved by a few seconds of polite laughter.

After class, I asked Blake what he was reading on his iPhone. His response both surprised me and made my afternoon: "Funny Class Notes."

This class nerd and total derelict was laughing in class because of something I or one of my fellow contributors had written. He was reading my blog!

And he was laughing at the contents.

And he didn't feel a need to explain what FCN was - he only had to mention the name of the site.

And by laughing inadvertently, Blake had become a human, Mr. Pickles-esque advertisement for FCN. He was an FCN evangelist!

I didn't tell Blake the role I played in his mirth, but maybe, if he keeps reading this in class, we'll have another special moment in the future.

Oh yes, and Blake may very be our as of yet unidentified twelfth reader. Thanks for reading, Blake!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Good Idea/Bad Idea #2


Good idea: Buying cheap food

Bad idea: Buying cheap food at a garage sale

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Sir Thomas More Rap

I was studying Sir Thomas More for my political science class and, after a couple hours of solid reading on Utopia, something just snapped. Words – lyrical phrases – flew through my head like wisdom from the mouth of Sally Field. I had an excruciating urge to express myself (don’t you hate it when you get those?), so I set aside my reading and picked up a pen. What follows is the Sir Thomas More Rap...

Sir Thomas More you are
The High Chancellor
Second best man in all of the kingdom
Givin’ the king some of your wisdom
Livin’ the highlife
Takin’ no strife

King Henry the eight
Made a big mistake
He tried to divorce
His wife, so coarse
He asked the Pope
The pope said ‘nope’
Leaving poor Henry without much hope

Sir Thomas More you are
The High Chancellor
Second best man in all of the kingdom
Givin’ the king some of your wisdom
Livin’ the highlife
Takin’ no strife

But the king is bright
He sets his sight
On a new religion
That sets no restriction
On the king
And anything
He wants to do

But More says no
And it’s not for show
More really feels the Pope is right
More wants the King to do what’s right
What More knows is right
What he knows is right
What we know is right

Sir Thomas More you are
The High Chancellor
Second best man in all of the kingdom
Givin’ the king some of your wisdom
Livin’ the highlife
Takin’ no strife

The king gets mad and says “off with his head!”
The head goes off and nothing is said
The wife is divorced
It's all very coarse
And Henry marries his new wife
And they spend the rest of their life
Tryin’ to forget
What More had said
What More knows is right
What he knows is right
What we know is right

Monday, December 01, 2008

Zombie Monday #3: Join the zombies, become a zombie.


Planning for a zombie invasion is easy and fun. Getting eaten alive isn't.

MYTH: If you can act like a zombie, you're safe.

Everyone has a zombie impression. Except for Uncle Wally. Who's too scared to help us write this column.

Anyway.

Some people can actually do some pretty good zombie imitations. The Reluctant Dragon is, presumably, one of them. Does this mean she is safe?

Bad example: "Brian ... I need ... Brian! Moooooaning ..." - Caboose

Common example: "There is a saying that goes something like, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." And I must say I pride myself on my zombie impression. =D" - The Reluctant Dragon

Better example: "I'll gain authority within a zombie herd until they all obey me. Then I will subjugate other zombie herds and eventually rule the world!"

Best example: "I'll smear myself with zombie juice* and hide in plain sight."

FACT: Disguises only guarantee your destruction.

Let us begin by making the very forgiving assumption that you are capable of maintaining a zombie impression 24/7, and not engage in any giveaway human behaviors. I mean, it's not like you would get freaked out standing in the midst of millions of swarming undead who would eat you if they knew who you really were, right? So that's assumed. Moving on.

We don't want to be too insensitive; after all, this is a post-Obama world. But we're just going to say it straight:

Most zombies are stupid.

They don't stop to wonder if the prey they just found might be another zombie. They just track down fresh meat and dig in. Many are effectively blind, but they all have an acute sense of smell. Sadly, The Reluctant Dragon's zombie impression - so convincing at parties and from a distance - would have results something like this:

ZOMBIES: Moan moan.
RELUCTANT DRAGON: Moan moan.
ZOMBIES: Moan ... sniff sniff sniff.
RELUCTANT DRAGON: Uh-oh.
ZOMBIES: Yum.
RELUCTANT DRAGON: Dangit ...
ZOMBIES: Munch munch.
ALL TOGETHER NOW: Moan moan.

You get the idea.

Zombie juice*, combined with an effective zombie impression, may be enough to convince the undead legions that you are one of them. Alas, zombies are barely safer than humans. When cramped or irritated, such as when fighting for shelter away from sunlight, zombies turn on each other. Sometimes they just do it for spite. The average life expectancy of a zombie is just a pitiable two years. The plurality of those deaths come not at the hands of human survivors, but from other zombies.

As the zombie apocalypse pans out (this is several years in) and food becomes increasingly scarce, zombies will begin to gnaw on each other. Eventually this will give way to full-on feeding frenzies. When the buffet opens, the last place you want to be is right in the middle of it.

Good thinking, Reluctant Dragon. You'll have to think that way if you want to survive. Zombie impressions (especially fortified with juice*) can be a useful supplement to anyone's zombie plan. But they are not the solution. Keep looking.

Think you can outdo Reluctant Dragon? Post your own zombie survival plan for a free expert analysis.

* No, you really don't want to know how zombie juice is made. You just don't.

Friday, November 28, 2008

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Experiences


The following is a post submitted by guest contributor James Remington.

Thanksgiving is a time when relatives come together to argue while eating good food, usually enough good food to keep them exercising regularly until Christmas, when they will eat too much good food again. I used to think this was the only reason for having Thanksgiving; my teachers may have told me some other reasons, but I was probably asleep (I’m a night owl - you know, sleep during school then play Halo all night).

Anyways, until I was about 9 years old this is what I thought, although now that I think about it, I do vaguely remember seeing lots of potbellies lining the couches in front of a TV while I rolled around in pain wishing I hadn’t eaten so much pumpkin pie. As I was saying, when I was nine my stomach finally caught up with my mouth, making me completely unable to fill it. That is when I noticed something new about Thanksgiving, namely, the football game.

Since that fateful day my eyes have been glued to the screen every Thanksgiving afternoon. Not that I enjoy football, but it is a tradition and who am I to break tradition? Besides, it's the only time I can drink six beers in three hours without getting arrested for under-age drinking.

All these fond memories were quickly shaken out of place the other day when I was looking at my sister’s pictures. Somehow, I had stumbled into a folder labeled “Thanksgiving_pics.” As I looked through the pictures moving from one year to the next, I noticed something almost too horrible to speak of: a watermelon had been growing in my gut, getting larger and larger every year. Why hadn’t I noticed this before? Why didn’t my doctor ever tell me about this problem? Surely he had seen this in some of his x-rays? Should I have listened to my mother's warnings about not eating the seeds, after all?

As these questions flooded my mind, I felt a cold, icy hand creep up my neck, slowly gripping me, making it harder and harder to breathe.

“What do you think you're doing, looking through my private pictures?”

Man, I hate sisters. They always seem to break in on the most solemn moments of thought and ruin it all. Then it happened. “What happened?” you ask? Well, I really don’t know, but suddenly I was flying through the air towards the antique piano on the other side of the room. Did I mention that my sister is both a body builder and a karate black belt? I hate that kind of sister even more, especially when I got the short genes and she got the tall ones. All I remember about my subsequent touchdown is that for two minutes all I could hear was very loud ringing, almost as though my head was inside a piano, which it was, then I took my hand off the pedal. What a relief!

The doctors say I only have minor brain damage, but they must be wrong because I have an inexplicable magnetic pull that seems to force me to exercise, a sensation that is very new to me.

Oh, and as for Thanksgiving, from now on, no more watching football games and drinking beer. Instead, I'll watch golf while riding my exercise bike and eating tofu pumpkin pie.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

13th Do It Yourself Post


FCN stands for _________.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Flaunt Those Curves, part one

Fitness clubs are scary places. They're advertised as the place to go to lose weight or "get in shape," but the truth is that everyone at a gym is already in shape and ready to look askance at those who dare arrive with an unhealthy body. Every time I step foot in one of those places, I feel intimidated by the lean, mean, muscle machine men, not to mention the women doing reps with 20-lb barbells.

I can hear them mentally sizing me up: "Look at that dweeb; I bet he can't even walk a mile without getting out of breath and I could snap him in two in one try. What's a guy like that doing here?"

Between the men who look down on me for my excess insulation and puny muscles and the women with whom I know I don't have a dream of ever having a chance, I feel that gyms are a hostile environment for people like me. Unfortunately, people like me also need to exercise in order to become like people like them. Also, I've heard that being physically fit helps to attract the opposite sex, something I need a lot of help with.

This in mind, I wracked my brain trying to think of a solution. A few weeks ago, I found one. "Aha!" my brain said, "I will join Curves; I can burn 500 calories in 30 minutes and the women there aren't terribly fit. Plus, they have low self-esteem, evidenced by the fact that they go to a place that caters to women, enabling them to get fit without damaging their image with men who go to real gyms."

I knew this would work great. I could become a lean, mean, muscle machine man while picking up women at the same time. The next day, I happily drove to the local Curves, which was only about a block away. I parked my car and walked through the open door.

Am imposing looking woman who might have had an elephant for an uncle sat at a desk and eyed me warily. "What are you doing here, young man?" she asked in a none-too-gentle tone, giving me the impression that she didn't want my business. I considered backing away and coming up with a plan "B," but I had thought too long to give up so easily. I opened my mouth to begin to speak.

To be continued...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Zombie Monday #2: Danger is 24/7.


If you can survive a zombie apocalypse, you can survive anything.

It's time for another scientific fact about zombies.

MYTH: Zombies only come out at night.

Many people believe that zombies are sensitive to light. This is a myth propagated by many mainstream zombie movies, most famously I am Legend, which had a scene involving a pack of zombie dogs waiting for the last ray of sun to go down so they could charge.

Common example: "I'll travel by day and hide by night."

Better example: "I'll hole up in my house by night. By day, I'll go out for supplies and look for survivors."

Best example: "I'll set up big flood lights all around my house which run off a generator on top of my house which will recharge using solar power."

FACT: Zombies are only mildly sensitive to UV light.

Zombies don't like being hit by ultraviolet light; their skin is much more sensitive than human skin and burns easily. Most zombies don't have the brains (lame pun intended) or faculties to apply sun lotion, so, for the first few weeks of the plague, they'll show a strong preference for staying indoors during the day, often huddling together in standing-room only conditions. When some places get too crowded, zombies will turn on each other and toss the remains out into the sun. Many survivors will see this and believe that the day is safe from zombies. Not so.

After several weeks, the zombies will no longer be able to find easy food. Now they will be forced to hunt down survivors, a time-consuming and tedious task. Because zombies don't have to sleep, they can devote their entire energy to this, and because they will be driven by desperate hunger, they won't mind a little sun burn. It's not like it'll ruin their complexion or anything.

Note also that there are some forms of zombies which are not sensitive to any kind of light. The best example:

Fire zombies are very rare but extremely dangerous. Because at least some part of their body is perpetually aflame, they tend to be easily identifiable. They can breathe fire from their mouths or ignite projectiles (such as telephone poles, front doors, Gigli DVDs, or other zombies) and hurl them great distances. Fire zombies tend to travel during the day to reduce their visibility and like their meat medium rare.

Survivors will have to be on their guard at all times, around the clock.

Of course, it is true that if you surround your hiding place with bright lights, you can buy yourself some time. Zombies won't go after you until they really mean it. If you want to set up a light wall, there are several considerations to make:

First, it must be UV light. Surrounding your house with normal flood lights won't do you a bit of good. You'd do better to crawl into a tanning bed. UV lamps are pretty expensive - a little 70 watt stand won't cost you less than 150 cheese. You'll need several dozen of them to surround your house densely enough to do some damage, and that means thousands of dollars, to say nothing of the cost of the solar panels. There are a few economical solutions. You could get everyone in your block to pitch in and ring the entire area. That means less surface area to cover, which means fewer lamps to buy. Alternatively, you could wait for the plague to break out and then loot your local hardware store. This method is not recommended because it's untimely, risky, and possibly immoral.

Your best bet is get a coalition of like-minded survivors and ring an area with lamps. Your neighbors will laugh at you and call you paranoid. Well, we'll see who's laughing when the zombies are feasting on neighbors-du-jour! Of course, a UV lamp ring is hardly the only condition of a zombie survival hideout. What are the others? Come back next Monday.

Comment with your personal zombie survival plan for a free expert analysis.

Friday, November 21, 2008

I'm sure it'll be fine (part three)

Continued from part two.

I'd chewed through an entire set of fingernails and worn my F5 button into the keyboard by the time I received an email from Dr. Zoloft. I really wanted to get into his class! In his email he invited me to his office. He and I, like Bush and O'Bama, were to have a private meeting, the contents of which I would then leak to the FCN readers - also like O'Bama. I was giddy with excitement and checked the comment section for input. Tim wrote saying that the right answer was "a = 0 or a = Pi/x." I had zero inkling what that meant or how I could go about interpreting it but, like a good student, I memorized it for later regurgitation.

Dr. Zoloft answered his door at the first knock, revealing an unruly stack of handwritten notes covering his already cluttered desk. Several empty disposable coffee cups overflowed his three-gallon trashcan and lay like spilled paperclips on the dark industrial carpet. At least one of the cups had not been completely empty when it departed Dr. Zoloft's desk and had missed the trash can. A dark stain extended from the cup's separated lid and I sniffed for the smell of French Roast.

"Young man." They were the first clear words Dr. Zoloft had ever uttered in my presence and I stood at attention. I didn't understand anything he said after that. Zoloft bolted around the room like an untrained child, motioning frantically and drawing diagram after diagram on the already well chalked blackboard. Sometimes he pulled pages off of his desk, seemingly at random, to demonstrate in graphite what he had already shown me in limestone and calcite.

Dr. Zoloft motioned toward a collection of journals. I gathered he thought my innovative answer could be published in one of those. Never had I known a "No Solution" to be so profound. I tried to correct Dr. Zoloft by saying that "a = 0 or a = Pi/x," but the faculty member looked at me with an offended "are you serious" look, before pulling a textbook off of his shelf, showing me a problem that loooked very similar to the one I'd bluffed through a few days earlier, muttered something that sounded very obscene in a foreign language and tore out several pages from the text.

My prospective professor then handed me an add form. I reached for the page in relief, glad that I had persuaded him to let me skip the prerequisite, when I noticed that the form was not for the basic, bonehead math I had originally requested, but rather Calculus III. I shook my head frantically. I hardly knew the definition of a derivate; how could I be expected to pass Calc 3?! But Dr. Zoloft would have none of it. He returned my head shake with a vigorous twist of his own and leaned forward suddenly to kiss me on each cheek. He had the proud look of the father of the bride and I think I saw a tear forming in his eye as he patted my back and sent me out the door.

He was Abraham, I was Isaac and we were headed toward the altar for a sacrifice. I could only hope that God would provide someone other than me as the sacrifice.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

White boy at the black sorority meeting (part one)

It's the kind of thing that should never happen: Oil and water mixing, Tom Brady getting hurt, Lance Armstrong and Ashley Olsen getting together, Kenny Chesney and Renee Zellweger marrying, Kenny Chesney and Renee Zellweger divorcing, Google losing market share. Not that it never happens, but, like "No Country for Old Men" winning an Oscar, the odds are admittedly strong against the occurrence. So when it happens, whatever it is, it's newsworthy.

The "it" tense is getting old, cryptic and confusing, so let me put the hillbilly kabosh (not nearly as sexy as it sounds) on "it" and introduce a few more facts that'll allow me to open up my English playbook.

Reginald set up a social engagement for me. Seeing how bleak and uninteresting my social life is ("Hey, wanna study with me?"), he pledged to find an entertaining way for me to get out of the house and meet some new people. Reginald didn't tell me what the event was or what kind of people I would be meeting; he just drove us to a park near a local university - not the one I attend, thank goodness - and advised, after studying his timepiece, that the "party" was "just about to get started."

As we walked away from our car toward a well decorated "Welcome Alpha Kappa Alpha West Coast Chapter" sign, I wondered why Reginald was so excited about this evening. I did not, at that moment, know that AKA was one of the nation's largest black sororities, nor did I, at that moment, particularly care. I have never been heavily involved with either Greek or ethnic "life" (as if membership in fraternity defines one's life), and I didn't think Reginald was the frat house type.

Before going on, there will be people who, no matter how many times they read this paragraph, will accuse me and this note of being a racist. The mere mention of ethnic differences pegs me -- an ethnic majority (depending on how much you blur things) -- as prejudiced and biased against other people groups. Folks, we really need to get past all this. We are living in a post-racial world. The time for allegations of bigotry and ethnocentrism has past. We have elected Barack O'Bama as our President. There is no more room for hatred when we have chosen "hope" as our leader. I, for one, have released the hatred and bigotry of the past and embraced with joyful emotion the reality of perfect egalitarianism. Allegations of racism and questions about my latent hatred are dated, wrong and unnecessarily remind us all of a time when equality sat in the back of the bus instead of the President's motorcade. Stop living in an 11/3 world, people! Racism is dead. O'Bama has vanquished it.

If anything, this post is more misogynistic then it is racist. The next few paragraphs will have a couple of disparaging remarks toward women that should get me in trouble with Mommy G and...wait for it...the female writers here at FCN. The American people snubbed Hillary and thus all women, so go ahead and send us an email about our unliberated view of femininity. Tell us how we hate all women and use that silly euphemism for our A-shirts that says more about your fantasies than our violence. But before clicking the send button on that hate tome, know that this post was written during a lecture about cross-ethnic sensitivity in a post-Caucasian world (such a turn on!), so that might be a point in my favor depending on how we're counting score.

But enough covering for my sensitive parts.

You could smell the estrogen before you could see it. As Reginald and I drew near, we saw that the park was teaming with overweight African-American females. It looked like a scene from Baldwin Hills, except that all the attractive people were removed and everyone added thirty pounds in unflattering places. A couple of women in particular added a good many more than thirty pounds.

As far as the eye could see there was not a single male. Nor were there any married men. As far as the eye could see there was not a single white person. Nor, for that matter, were any ethnicities represented other than various strains of Alpha Kappa Alpha.

I stared at Reginald. What have you dragged me into? Reginald was unphased. In fact, he barely broke stride as he shouted the four syllable name of someone he recognized and waived me on to meet his friends.

I could list on one hand the number of things I have in common with your average sorority member and, after spending an evening with the lovely members of Alpha Kappa Alpha (they were really quite friendly folks once I started chatting), I can still count the number on one hand, but I use fewer fingers.

To be continued...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Life Tip #81

Do not dine and dash.

If you must dine and dash, do not forget your purse.

If you must dine and dash and forget your purse, do not have marijuana in your forgotten purse.

If you must dine and dash, forget your purse and have marijuana in your forgotten purse, do not return to the restaurant to retrieve your lost accessory.

If you must dine and dash, forget your purse, have marijuana in your forgotten purse and return to the restaurant to retrieve your lost accessory, don’t be Miss Teen Louisiana USA.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I am no longer a teenager!

I gave the following speech at my 20th birthday celebration:


Speech giving at birthdays is a tad like eulogizing at funerals in that everyone is singing your praises. “Sniffle, sniffle...he was such a great guy. He always made the best hard tack.” Et cetera. And we’ve all heard the old joke that most speakers would rather be in the casket than up delivering. Well, I now have the dubious honor of giving the eulogy at my own funeral, so to speak. You’ll bear with me.

I am no longer a teenager!

I just exited the problem years. Seven years ago I entered a tunnel – a dark and foreboding cave, full of rebellion, strife, predictable conflict, sharp words, sharp objects, dangerous people and opportunity after opportunity for mistake. Remember “don’t talk to strangers?” Well, I was the stranger...At least, that’s how it’s billed in the thousands of books, pamphlets and webpages that advertised themselves as parenting almanacs. With all the legality of a freshly minted social security number...maybe that is a bad analogy...with all the legality of eighteen, I just exited the teen years.

It’s been a harrowing experience. I’ve had criminal behavior (misdemeanors, mind you, why are we always thinking the felonious?), mental disorders, eating disorders, learning disorders, communication disorders, attitude disorders, attitude adjustments, teen culture, talk with parents...and that’s just the table of contents.

I feel as if I will wake up tomorrow, walk to the mirror and look at my all-grown-up body. I will be Tom Hanks after a visit with a carnival genie in Big. I will stare in wonder at the hair on my chest and giggle mischievously at my new hairy tummy arrow. How long has that been there? My voice will sound weirdly old and I will wonder how I know that the square of the length of the hypotenuse equals the sum of the squares of the lengths. Did Pythagoras teach me that himself? Or was it Hypotenuse, his angular older brother? I get the two confused...

Joking about the teenage years is a little like joking about indigestion. It’s an inherently nauseating topic that hits close to home for many people. Having the perfect teenage existence is analogous to having the perfect golf swing: it’s an enigma; you’ll never get there.

But I survived and, thanks to a well-developed ego, I can stand here and tell you I thrived. That’s right, Kaiser Permanente. I am the one irritating driver on the road who has never gotten a ticket who can laugh at all of you guys that have until one day I get pulled over and my entire self-image is shattered. I’m the A student who never had to study for his grades – wait...is this F’s speech? I’m a Hollywood starlet on the red carpet, satisfied with her life until she reads the gossip pages in the morning.

Well the morning is now, teen is done and the gossip pages are as salacious as always, but I am really happy with that red carpet. 13-19 was a great run, but I’m more than ready to get started on 20.

20. What a great number. It’s a semi-perfect number. Did you know this? Skipping 2 and adding the other divisors gives 20, hence 20 is a semiperfect number, and since it is not divisible by any of the smaller semiperfect numbers, it is a primitive semiperfect number. I’m not done. 20 is the number of proteinogenic amino acids that are encoded by the standard genetic code. One more? $20 is the threshold value of civil disputes above which the right to trial by jury is guaranteed. That’s the Seventh Amendment. I love college: All these useless facts that seem predesigned for sharing at a birthday party.

20 is the age at which Levites in the time of King David were allowed "to do the work for the service of the house of the Lord,” in the Temple in Jerusalem. In the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, following the Babylonian captivity, it was Levites from the age of 20 upwards who were assigned "to oversee the work of the house of the LORD." Where am I? I’m at ready. You bet I’m at ready. What’s my 20? I’m at ready.

So the next time someone asks me if I’ve got the “score,” I’m just going to nod, Abraham Lincoln style. It may not be 4 score and seven, but score is what I’ve got.

I’m leaving that tunnel, exiting the red carpet and am ready to oversee the real work. Thanks.