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

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.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Zombie Monday #1: Zombies > Bullets

Monday is Zombie Awareness Day.

At FCN, we like to fool around. But sometimes it's time for some serious material. It's disturbing how few people have a zombie survival plan. Of the ones that do, it's disturbing how many people are planning based on totally useless information. As a public service, FCN has launched the Zombie Monday (ZM) series, which provides useful guidelines for formulating your own zombie plan, as well as warning against common pitfalls.

MYTH: Ammunition-based weapons are an effective long-term protection from zombies.

Many plans are based on finding a large stockpile of ammunition and using it to shoot down zombies.

Common example: "I'll go to wal-mart and get a gun and a bunch of bullets, then I'll hide in my house and shoot any zombies who come in."

Better example: "I carry a shotgun and forty shells in my truck. That should get me to the nearest military base, where I can hide out with the soldiers who will easily have enough ammo to survive."

Best example: "I carry a shotgun and forty shells in my truck. That should get me to a munitions factory, which I will run with like-minded survivors. We can keep building guns and ammo as fast as we chew through it."

FACT: There are always more zombies than you have bullets. Always.

When the undead legions start knocking on your door, they wont come alone or in small groups. Sure, for the first few weeks of the contamination, you may be able to find lone zombies. But when things really go downhill - that is, after a few years of zombie apocalypse - you won't be able to find zombies in any group smaller than several hundred. Do you have bullets enough to shoot thousands and thousands of zombies? Neither do we.

People who do have a lot of bullets, such as soldiers and farmers

a) Are unlikely to share their stockpiles with you.
b) Are likely to shoot you when you approach.
c) Do not have access to unlimited ammunition.

And no, that was not a multiple-choice question. Let's take a best case: you flee to the nearest army base, where you are welcomed with open arms. Along come the zombie hordes. Your boys shoot them. Then come more zombies. Your boys shoot them. Maybe years pass. Then all of a sudden, along come more zombies. Click-click. Uh-oh! We're out of ammo. Anyone want to go down the road for more? I didn't think so. Now we're all dinner.

Of course, the number of zombies is technically finite. Plan for about eight to ten billion. If you have a stockpile which can safely eradicate ten billion zombies, by all means leave a comment and we'll stand corrected. Or write you your very own ZM.

But what about ammo factories? Sorry, no dice. Those require electricity. Electricity comes from a power plant. Take over a power plant? Okay. Do you have fuel for it? Take over a coal mine? Okay. Do you have a way to ferry coal to the plant through zombie territory? Does that way involve gas? Because gas comes from gas stations. Take over a gas station? Okay. And a refinery? Oh, and guard the alaskan pipeline? You get the idea. You basically have to keep the whole civilization going just to get one bullet off the assembly line. And that's saying nothing about getting the raw material for bullets. By the time you've got your infrastructure established - assuming your party has enough know how to run refineries, factories, power plants, mines, etc - you're dinner. Munch munch.

Your best bet: go for a plan that doesn't count on humanity's finite reserves of ammo if you plan to survive.

Friday, November 14, 2008

When Censorship is the Best Option

Dear Mom and Dad,

School is really hard this year. My teachers hate me. I have a 300 page book to read by tomorrow, and my 30 page research paper is due on Tuesday. I’d really like to work on them, but my roommate is asking me to watch Ironman again, so I just think the homework will have to wait. I failed my Chem test on Monday, and I skipped class on Thursday to avoid my Humanities exam. I feel like I'm learning a lot, so grades don't really matter, right?

My roommate never bathes. It’s like a third world country in here. But with a lot more clothes and food. In fact, the piles of food and clothing are everywhere. I don’t think my roommate knows where the laundry room is. I’ve started to find flies congregating around the dirty heaps of fabric. If this doesn’t stop soon, I don’t know if I can take it much longer. I think I'll dump a whole bottle of Tide on him tonight in his sleep... maybe he'll get my point. If he doesn't, I'm moving out.

I'm engaged! I don’t think I could have found a nicer person. Her personality is her strongest asset. We’re going out for fast food and a movie tomorrow after her anger management class. I didn't think she'd agree to be my girlfriend after I dumped lasagna in her lap on the first date. I didn't know anyone could yell that loud. I plan on bringing her home for Christmas with me. I thought about surprising you, but...

I wanted to get my nose pierced, but I’ve been having these strange dreams about being stalked by an evil giant magnet, so I don’t think that’s such a great idea.

I'm doing great. I need money. I’ll be home for Christmas.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Obama Speaks Of Hope, Change, and Unyielding Hope

As usual, we didn't realize the election was nearly upon us until it was over. Apparently Mr Barack O'Bama, a man who's name everyone finally knows how to spell, is going to be the President of the United States in no time at all. A lot of people are really happy about this (examples: Barack O'Bama, George W Bush). Others are not so happy (examples: John McCain, Hillary Clinton).

We decided it was high time we sat down with Barack for a chat. Over piping hot bowls of Egusi soup - a Nigerian dish he made for us using money that once belonged to corrupt CEOs - we explored topics ranging from life as someone named Barack to the changing power of hope.

FCN: Thank you for joining us, Mr O'Bama.

O'BAMA: That's "Obama;" the As are all flat.

FCN: Sorry. So tell us, what's it like to finally be done with the campaign?

OBAMA: I don't believe the campaign is ever finally done. As long as there are still Americans who have been unreached by our message of hope, the campaign must continue.

FCN: How long do you suppose that will take?

OBAMA: Hopefully not too long.

FCN: Well, you've been elected. What does that feel like?

OBAMA: I've been wanting to be President for quite awhile now. So there's definitely a sense of achievement. I'd say more than anything else, however, the confidence of the American people has inspired a new hope in me that we can create lasting change to move this country forward.

FCN: What's the first thing you'll do in office?

OBAMA: America is in a crisis, and there's no evidence that the next ten weeks will improve things any. When I first take my seat in the oval office, I'll have only one thing on my mind: change. America deserves nothing less.

FCN: How about Joe Biden? We haven't seen much of him lately.

OBAMA: What's a Joe Biden?

FCN: Well...it's a name.

OBAMA: That's a funny name, Joe Biden. I wonder where it comes from.

FCN: Well...

OBAMA: If someone left a Joe Biden on my lawn, I would tell him to pick it up.

FCN: You see ...

OBAMA: Now my kids are going to be wanting one for Christmas.

FCN: Let's move on. You've spoken about having a plan to get us out of Iraq. How will you execute that plan?

OBAMA: There's no denying that the current strategy - if you could call it that - has been a failure in Iraq and here in America. We need to change that immediately.

FCN: How?

OBAMA: We need to bring hope to a land that has too often been put on the back burner by the leaders of the world. Under my administration, we will stamp out the dark specter of despair that is beginning to take its hold in the minds of Iraqis and show them that they have a friend in Barack Obama.

FCN: How?

OBAMA: [pause] Are you serious? We ... we just covered that.

FCN: You recently spoke of a Civilian Assistance Corps you wanted to form. Can you tell us what that will be like?

OBAMA: Well, the current branches America's armed forces have two big weaknesses - first, they tend to be full of military personnel. Second, they tend kill people, break stuff, that sort of thing. It's a real problem. The CAC will provide much needed balance by organizing several units of civilian workers - lawyers, dentists, models, taxidermists, gourmet chefs - that can rapidly deploy anywhere in the world to spread a message of hope instead of bullets. That's what America is really about.

FCN: How?

OBAMA: How what?

FCN: How will they spread hope?

OBAMA: We'll have 25,000 civilian personnel organized into functional military-style units, but instead of being armed with guns and bombs, they'll be armed with the message of hope that has proven so incredibly catchy here in America.

FCN: How?

OBAMA: You're being very negative right now. You see how negative you're being? America has been suffering through that technical negativity for the last eight years. Well, no longer. You say it can't be done, but America says: Yes, we can.

FCN: I didn't realize ...

OBAMA: I understand. Eight years of Bush brainwashing will get anyone down. If I hadn't been so well insulated from the actual workings of the Senate after I got elected in Illinois I might have become a little cynical myself. Many people don't realize how great their despair has become. In the end, that's what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope?

FCN: What's your flagship issue moving into your first year of administration?

OBAMA: Issues are never simple. One thing I'm proud of is that very rarely will you hear me simplify the issues.

FCN: Many have called your policies socialist. How do you respond?

OBAMA: No. I'm not socialist. It's just that I think when you spread the wealth around it's good for everybody.

FCN: You often spoke of how you saw America divided over ...

OBAMA: No, absolutely not. I never said that. America is not divided. There is no division. There is not a liberal America and a conservative America - there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America - there’s the United States of America. There is not a rich America and poor America. There is not a male America and a female America. There is not an Old America and a New America! There is not a North America and South America! There is not a Human America and an Alien America! And there is definitely not a Hillary America!

FCN: [long pause] So you'd say we're all united. What about Republicans?

OBAMA: Republicans refuse to recognize the unity of America. They are the naysayers - the lobbyists, the pundits. They insist that America is divided, but they are wrong, and that is why they lost the last election. It's not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

FCN: So if you don't count them, America is united behind your message?

OBAMA: E pluribus unum. Or perhaps better: E pluribus obama. And I don't mean that in an egotistical way - it's just that my name has come to embody everything that is good about America. I am the face of hope, change, and unyielding hope. Hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty. Hope in the face of terrorists determined to kill us. Hope in the face of a once-in-a-century economic crisis. Hope in the face of John McCain. Hope in the face of Hillary Clinton! The audacity of hope!

FCN: Thank you for your time.

OBAMA: No, thank you. I hope you understand that by interviewing me, you haven't just helped yourselves or your blog. You haven't just helped America. You've helped the whole human race, and that's what matters most.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Life Tip #80

Don't drive drunk.

If you do drive drunk, don't run stop signs and crash into mailboxes.

If you do drive drunk, run stop signs and crash into mailboxes, please pull over when pursued by the police.

If you do drive drunk, run stop signs and crash into mailboxes while being pursued by the police, don't take your high-speed car chase to the school district neighborhood just as children are walking home.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Is that your bear growling?

I just ate a lot of food. I sat down at the dinner table feeling slightly hungry and ate an entire large bowl of steak stew, a wonderful food that seems to make room for itself. The salty, savory scent of the scintillating delicacy called for more, even though it was satisfyingly scrumptious.

So I had a second bowl. Then I ate some bread, for one is always in want of carbs, and had a third bowl of that awesome stew. Feeling somewhat discombobulated by the sudden caloric intake, I paused for a brief moment to collect myself and to halt the involuntary reflux I felt in my esophagus.

The feeling passed and I ate a fourth bowl of stew. With each bite, my mastication slowed. My stomach sent signals to my mouth that I'd had enough and my salivary glands responded by reducing their production of needed. I knew I'd had enough, so when I finished the bowl, I pushed it away, happy with a filling meal (or is it filled with a happy meal? I haven't been in that situation in years...).

That's when dessert was brought out. A pumpkin pie with ice cream. I thought first that I would just have the pie. That orangey spice filling seemed to call my name and I was dying to taste the seasonal delicacy. I cut myself a large piece and sucked it in like a Hoover vacuum. Boy that was good. Then the ice cream I'd declined started calling my name. White, smooth and lightly sprinkled with sparkling diamonds from the frozen ice, my mouth began to water with the thought of the cream melting over my tongue.

It took me less than a minute to serve and devour the vanilla ice cream. I had a bad case of brain freeze, but I was happy... at least until I noticed that some of the pie was still left. It would be a shame, I rationalized, to leave that out or put it away until later. Not when it could be eaten now.

This time I ate my pie piece with the ice cream on top. It was better that way.

At last, more stuffed than a Superman block or a Thanksgiving turkey, I waddled to my bed to focus my entire being on digestion.

That's when the growling started. It was a slow, rumbling growl, like the disgruntled remonstrations of a cornered barnyard animal. Then it became more intense. It acquired the intensity of a hyena and gained the pitch of a rabid wolf. Sometimes the noise would cease for a minute or two, only to return stronger than before. The growling pulsated with each wave of digestion. Every time it returned, I squinted, thinking of a new animal noise the sound from my tummy reflected.

"C, do you hear something?" It was my roomie, F, who pulled his iPhone earbuds from lobes to voice his complaint.

I grinned. This is something I should do more often.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Projected President-Elect!

So Barack O'Bama is going to be our new President. I'm not going to lie: when I heard the news last week, I was elated. We've seen some 37 presidents since FCN started humbly back in 1821, but this guy - the 38th of our auspicious existence - has something different. He is very different. Incredibly unique. The first in a very different and incredibly unique way. How you ask? That's a good question. I'd give you the answer, but the way in which O'Bama is different just slipped my mind. It was right there, but it faded away like an enigma, like an old soldier.

Gagh! I wish I could remember what it is that makes O'Bama different!

I remember now. He's disabled. No. That's not it. He's Asian? Something like that. Hispanic? I'm not feeling it. He's a woman? That just sounds weird. I wish I could remember. He's old? No, that's his running mate. He's a Native American? Now, I'm trying too hard. Oh, I remember now. Barack O'Bama is gay. Yes, faithful few, O'Bama is gay. He is madly in love with Gavin Newsom. No, that's no it either.

I'm sorry faithful few. I can't remember what it is that makes O'Bama unique.

Whatever. I'm not going to cry over spilt milk. Back to the main story. Our nation just elected our second black President (after President Clinton, of course) and the first Arab-African/American.

Arab-African/American. That's the AAA that's not related to cars. It's one more A than the AARP, which O'Bama beat soundly on November 4th. Thank you, I thought that was particularly creative. It's three continents out of seven before Barry even exited the womb. It's a walking museum of cultural heritage. It's one part Machboo, one part Ugali, one part hamburger and three parts pure manly studliness. No wonder Newsome is all crazy about him.

O'Bama's life started rough. The son of a mill worker, O'Bama's father had to borrow fifty dollars to bring him home from the hospital. An impoverished youth, O'Bama saw first-hand the devastating effects of bad government and corporate greed when his family came under financial hardship. Or is that John Edwards? I get the two confused. Regardless, this is rags to riches journey of self discovery is making a stop at the White House. What a great story. This is starting to sound like a bad Disney movie.

And with this grand introduction, we welcome O'Bama to this great land and extend him the highest position of leadership we have. Great job, Senator, we look forward to the next four years.

Friday, November 07, 2008

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

Continued from part one.

The Math Department was housed in the armpit of campus. Green, unkempt ivy covered the walls and almost obscured the main door. Posters, some dating as far back as ten years, coated the walls and decomposed in unruly piles of scrap paper on the cement sidewalk. I could vaguely make out arcane math symbols, formulas (or is it "formulae?" Wait, formulae is what you give to an infant, right? No, that's a pacifier. Isn't a "pacifier" an ocean? No, wait, it's a dove...) and pictures of nerdy looking students. This was where I was to spend the next semester.

My math class wasn't as sophisticated as its setting makes it sound. While it had calculus in the name, the course was designed for underachievers who need the C word (not the letter, but the word. And not that word, you perv. C-a-l-c-u-l-u-s) on their transcript, but don't ever want to take a derivative. The class is, I was told, very difficult if offered by most professors, but would be a breeze with Dr. Zoloft, a veteran of the department who, his past students advertised, lectures with an almost medicated calm.

Dr. Zoloft's office was on the left and I pounded on the door with a vigorous confidence. I wanted this Zoloft person to know I wasn't going to back down. It took a minute, but the door finally creaked open revealing a bearded gentleman in a threadbare cardigan and faded blue slacks. The professor adjusted his spectacles in a manner that could only be described as condescending and looked at me, sizing me up.

Then he spoke. "Haoeryoo." The words ran together, even though it took Dr. Zoloft almost ten seconds to say his greeting. At least I think it was a greeting. I wanted to ask the man to repeat himself or apologize for my hearing, which I busted a few years ago along with my "give a dang," but I did not want to surrender my veneer of confidence. I would not back down simply because my professor had a strong accent or was chewing a croissant or whatever reason he had for speaking like an outpatient in the recovery room after a pre-frontal lobotomy.

"No thank you, I quit," I said, enunciating every syllable as if speaking to a child. I think Zoloft understood because he looked at me oddly for several seconds, before stepping out of the way and inviting me into his office. Inside, mathematical formulas (or is it...oh, never mind!) coated the entire wall across from his desk. Symbols and numbers that are rarely seen outside of Sergey Brin and Larry Paige's cranial cavities. I took a seat next to a pencil drawing of Euclid of Alexandria and waited for Zoloft to proceed.

"Sooyoo takeh maths forteer-fortee five, eh?" Zoloft was starting the conversation with a question. Voice inflection gives that away almost universally. I nodded an affirmative response. Zoloft looked at me again, his eyes revealing a reassessment of his original evaluation. I sat still, feeling like a peeled orange as the mathematics professor drew away to his computer and entered a few practiced commands. A laser printer started humming and two sheets of warm paper spilled out onto the tray.

Zoloft motioned and I picked up the pages. It was an assessment test. My give a dang fixed itself pretty quickly as I muttered under my breath. I hated assessment tests. The first page was an explanation of the rules, so I skipped to the second, where an ominous looking math problem stared at me like a sushi dish:

I had no idea where to begin, but I knew that the toughest math problems do not have a single defined solution. So I doodled excessively, filling up an entire page with senseless reiterations of the above and at the bottom of the page wrote in neat English:


With all the confidence of a cocky FCN contributor, I handed the paper to Dr. Zoloft who examined it closely, grunting with the effort. Zoloft smiled and nodded, circling a part of my doodle in red ink. Then he paused, paralyzed by something new. He turned abruptly to his TI-86 and began punching numbers frantically. His eyes wide, he looked at a drawing on his office wall and consulted a heavily marked chalk board for a few doodles of his own. He paused once during this exercise and looked at me with an air of pure surprise, shaking his head ever so slightly in the process. Then he motioned for me to leave and shut the door after me. Our interview was over.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


A long-running joke among men is that it is impossible to understand women. And they are correct. There are times women don’t even understand themselves. Girls over-analyze everything. And I do mean everything. What you think is a friendly wave or smile at one of your girl buddies could easily propel them into a daydream filled with you and your future children. Allow me to demonstrate how females easily misconstrue the intentions of the well-meaning gentlemen in their circle of friends. What a guy says is often not what a girl hears. Females will often read whatever meaning they want into a guy’s innocently simple phrases and gestures.

Guy says: Hey, is this seat taken?
Girl hears: You are so beautiful and mysterious. I want to keep myself in close proximity to you so I can learn more about your inner soul.

Guy says: It’s nice to meet you.
Girl hears: Where have you been all my life?

Guy says: You look nice today.
Girl hears: Hey good lookin… what’s cookin? You’d be a shoo-in for America’s Next Top Model.

Guy says: Do you want to hang out with me and my friends later?
Girl hears: I’m really attracted to you, I’d like you to meet my friends so they can give me a thumbs-up on my taste in girls. Once that’s done with, we can visit my parents next weekend and go ring shopping.

Guy says: It’s good to see you.
Girl hears: You are my heartbeat, I can’t live without you. I wither away to nothingness when we’re apart.

As if that’s not confusing enough, what girls say is often not what they truly mean.

Girl says: Nothing’s wrong. I’m fine.
Girl means: I’m falling apart. Come on, you bimbo, ask me to tell the truth.

Girl says: Isn’t that such a cute baby?
Girl means: See what a wonderful mother I’d be? I already have our children named, I hope you like what I’ve picked out.

So, if a guy wants to avoid these common pitfalls, what are his options?
1. Be Spock.
2. Get a lobotomy.
3. Avoid all members of the fairer sex.

Whatever you do, don’t underestimate the female mind. It may be difficult to understand, but it is still quite dangerous. If you don’t believe me, ask someone who would know. Like your dad.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Good Idea/Bad Idea #1

Good idea: Feeding ducks in a park.

Bad idea: Feeding ducks in a park… to a bear.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

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

When course registration opens at a large campus, students scramble from their dorm rooms like beetles away from the light and approach the registrar's office with all haste. Not getting into the right classes means not graduating on time, which threatens scholarship money and prospects with the females. As much as nobody wants to be a Van Wilder, nobody wants to date a Van Wilder.

My father tells of a time when he trudged wearily through miles of packed snow to get to the registrar's office in time to have a prayer of possibly making it into his class. He had to fight away crazed radical feminists and environmentalists and the occasional Volvo-driving professors who want to audit the class on lower mammalian art because it sounds "interesting."

Maybe that was the model a few decades ago. Today, the iPod generation has vastly improved on the nonsensical student stampede by automating the entire process and putting it online. Instead of careening down to the registrar's office like crazed soccer fans, we students have "appointment times" with the computer. We sit down at an authorized terminal and tell the silicon which classes we want to take. It's all very sophisticated.

Equipped with a series of five digit codes given me by a human being, I marched into the library at the appointed time and took a seat at my authorized terminal. The computer keys were sticky and it looked like there was a hair stuck between the "D" and the "F," so I made a mental note to wash my hands after entering my information. I checked and double checked the numbers (a plastic sign above the computer advised a "re-double check," but I thought that was overkill) and then clicked submit.

In a semester system and in order to graduate in four years, many full-time students take four 4-unit classes. This sixteen unit load is exactly one-eighth of the requirement for a four-year degree and, if completed expeditiously, will get the student through the revolving academic door in the time frame promised in the school's glossy promotional material. Ever since I'd read the school pamphlet, this had been my plan.

The screen went white for several seconds and then a faded image of our school's logo appeared in the center along with a twirling hourglass. It was working!

The hourglass twirled and twirled tirelessly, daring me to look away. My eyes were mesmerized by the movement and I thought that I could stay there forever in a sort of computer generated nirvana. I didn't feel anything anywhere, but knew that sensations were possible because I saw the movement on-screen. Then, more abruptly than it had begun, the logo disappeared and a happy looking emoticon appeared above text telling me that I was successfully registered.

That's when I did something uncharacteristically intelligent: I read through the rest of the notification. You see, I hadn't actually signed up for all the classes, as the friendly logo led me to believe. Rather, I had registered for three of my four classes. In very fine print at the bottom of the page, I was instructed to "consult [my] professor" about the last class. It said something else about a prerequisite, too, but I was already on my way out the door.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Jessica - the Full Story

My love life hasn't been working well. A quick summary of the last year:

I spent several moons mooning over a girl I almost never talked to. Then she got really friendly with my best friend. Recently, she mistakenly confused my name with a company that makes sporks.

Heartbroken, I went to a compassionate female friend for consolation. She was there to pick up the pieces and we ended up getting a little too close. Her brother, who works for Blackwater, shot at me with an assault rifle that had been modified up the wazoo. Her best friend's cousin, who uses the same stylist as me, seems to think she recently moved to Canada.

As I was walking home one night, a woman walked up to me and kissed me passionately. Then she said: "Oh, you're not Roger!" and walked away.

I made a public oath that I was done with women. One of my acquaintances made a personal goal to break my resolve; two months later I swore my undying love and she said: "See? Girls aren't that bad!" Then she broke up with me. She still pokes me on Facebook sometimes.

I went to e-harmony and it matched me with myself.

A friend hooked me up with "the perfect girl for you!". We dated casually for two weeks. Then I found out it wasn't a girl. I am no longer on speaking terms with my ... date ... or the "friend" who hooked us up (note the quotation marks around the word "friend"; this indicates sarcasm; that is, he wasn't really my friend but I say that sarcastically to indicate he wasn't).

I asked a coworker out and she quit.

A good female friend of mine announced she had fallen in love with me. I couldn't bring myself to return the feeling; she went emo for a few months then pulled out of it and hired our "friend" Mr Blackwater (note the sarcastic quotes again. This is because he used a flamethrower on me).

I met a girl at a gas station and we hung out a lot; I started to think things might go to the next level when she called me up and made it clear we were just friends. I returned the ring for a full refund.

Then I met Jessica. I wasn't blazingly optimistic but at this point I was just going through the motions. Over a reasonably nice first date dinner, I let slip the fact that I was the F of FCN. "Really? That's awesome!" She said, setting herself apart from all my previous dates by being interested in what I had just said. "I'm a writer too!" To be nice, I told her to send me some of her stuff. She took that as an offer to audition for FCN. Her dad took it as a proposal of marriage. We found common ground one very awkward week later.

Welcome to FCN, Jessica.