bunsnip (at) gmail (dot com)

Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap Year and the Lame Duck Month

Happy Leap Day! Yay!

If you ask me, Leap Years are more trouble than anything else. For one thing, they screw with people who had the misfortune of being born on Leap Day. How would you feel if you were 25 years old and only had 6 birthdays in your life? Think of the shame.

The whole point of a Leap Year is to make up for the fact that the solar year is actually about 6 hours longer than 365 days. So every four years, we add an extra day to recapture those 4 extra sets of 6 hours, and obviously, the place to put that extra day is in February, since it's already a lame duck month with only 28 days during normal years.

Which brings me to an all important question: why does February gets the shaft on number of days in the first place?

All other months are either 30 days or 31 days, as the following chart illustrates:

Poor February is all alone!

See, February is in a category all its own, and I don't think that's particularly fair.

If we took a day from one of the 31-day months and gave it to February, then February would have 29 days most years, but 30 days every 4 years. That means, instead of being a freak every 4 years, February would be NORMAL every 4 years. And that seems much more fair to me.

So now the question is, which 31-day month do we castrate for the sake of making February normal every 4 years? Can't be December, because that would ruin New Year's Eve, and it can't be October, because that would ruin Samhain. We don't want to shorten Summer, so July and August are out. May is about the most temperate month of the year, so we have to keep as many May days as possible. So that leaves January and March. March is in-like-a-lion and out-like-a-lamb. Do you really want to take away one of those lamb days on the end? I didn't think so. Clearly the only reasonable choice is January. It sits next to February anyway, so I'm sure it won't mind giving up one of its days for the sake of a neighbor. It's what a good neighbor would do.

So that settles it: from now on, January 31 is the new February 1st, and February will normally have 29 days, which is not quite as lame as 28, and come next Leap Year, February will be normal for the first time in its life.

I can't wait for 2012!

Subscribe to Bunsnip

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Nail Biters Anonymous? Nah, it's just a nasty habit.

There's a stupid article at Slate Magazine (that's nothing new, Slate articles are usually pretty dull, dumb, or full of themselves -- sometimes all of the above; still I keep scanning the headlines...) anyway, the article is about nail biting.

I've been a habitual nail biter for as long as I can remember, and I think it's always going to be something I deal with. There was a period of a few years where I curbed the habit of biting my nails, but I never could stop the motion of bringing my fingers to my mouth and feeling my nails with my teeth.

In the stupid Slate article, author Emily Bazelon says this about trying to break the habit: "The obvious lesson is that addicts don't quit unless they want to." And here's what I have to say to that: First, this ain't an addiction, it's a habit, and there is a difference, and second, if quitting was as easy as wanting to, I'd have cut this habit out of my life years ago. The problem is that biting your nails is largely a subconscious action. Usually, I don't realize I'm chewing my nails until it's too late to save my poor little white tips. Conversely, not biting my nails takes a lot of mental effort. Because the path of least resistance is to continue subconsciously biting my nails, that's what tends to happen.

Even so, I'd like to have nice looking nails at some point. I've just recently tried to curb the habit again, and I'm having success with all my fingers except my thumbs. But, like last time, I haven't stopped feeling my nails with my teeth. It's almost a comfort to me, although I'd say it's only a comfort in its familiarity, like how thumb sucking or blanket clinging is a comfort to kids. It's not so much a nervous or anxious action as it is something I'm familiar with.

For awhile, I was deliberately keeping my nails trimmed because I was playing the guitar a few hours every day, and it's more comfortable for me to play without having to angle my fingers to make room for my fingernails. But these days, unfortunately, I haven't been playing my guitar very much, so I've decided to try my hand at quitting the habit (wink wink).

There are many different tactics for kicking the nail biting habit, and none of them is foolproof. For me, regular manicures work best, because if I have any jagged tips, I'm much more likely to try to "fix" them by biting, and of course that always makes things worse. When I was in junior high, I tried painting my fingernails with polish frequently to curb the habit. I had some success with that, but mostly I ended up eating a lot of polish, which is probably worse than biting the nails in the first place. Some people try putting nasty flavored shit on their fingernails, but like I say, even when I'm not biting, I'm feeling my nails with my teeth, so that simply doesn't work for me.

Overall, I don't think the habit is such a big deal. Maybe that attitude is just my way of accepting a problem that I will probably always have. But frankly, most people who don't bite their nails don't have particularly attractive real nails anyway. I'm not a huge fan of acrylic nails, but they at least look uniform and pretty... unlike this creepy lady's nails:

(Picture by Tom Smart of Deseret Morning News, used without permission)

Yeah, I'd rather bite my nails any day over that!

Subscribe to Bunsnip

Crazy Bunsnip Issues

Apparently there was a little blackout in which my blog couldn't be accessed through I am currently in the process of transferring my domain registrar, since I haven't been happy with (Note to self: make sure that your domain registrar is not based in Singapore in the future).

So there may be some interruption in y'all's being able to get to my blog through, but you can still get here through

I'll send out an update once the transfer is complete. I'm also trying to add an email service so that you will be able to contact me at in the future.

I'll keep y'all posted.

Subscribe to Bunsnip

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Office Memoranda

From: Sra
RE: The IDS from Hell

I understand that there is a requirement to disclose any references that we know are relevant to our patent application, so that the patent examiner can determine whether said references conflict with the novelty of the invention. But I don't understand why we need to disclose references that (a) are already listed on the front cover of patents we are already disclosing (b) including references that we have never even looked at (c) and that we have to somehow get our hands on before we submit everything to the USPTO.

From: Sra
RE: Using the Intercom

Intercom etiquette 101: It is customary to say the name of the person you are buzzing to (a) get their attention, (b) let them know who is calling, and (c) let them know that you didn't just accidentally hit the intercom button.

From: Sra
RE: Pretending not to be in your office when you really are and then "sneaking" out on the elevator

When I buzz your intercom and I hear you quickly turning down the volume of your music, and then I hear the elevator travel up to the third floor to get you, you are insulting my intelligence by pretending that you aren't in. I know that you are, and you could at least grace me with a "Send the call to voicemail, I'm off to lunch!" Just sayin'!

To: BL
From: Sra
RE: Lunchtime

When you take your lunch late, I have to take my lunch late. It's not usually that big of a deal, but it is a little irritating at times.

To: NP
From: Sra
RE: My inbox

Just because my inbox is empty doesn't mean my task list is empty. Usually the stuff that used to be in my inbox is still on my desk, whether it's been numerically arranged and sorted for a trip to the file room, or whether it's attached to files on my desk and ready to be processed. In other words, stop making comments about the state of my inbox. My inbox is my receptacle for stuff you have to give me, and is not a measure of my productivity or workload.

From: Sra
RE: Jekyl/Hyde

You have two personalities, and I find one of them rather delightful and the other one rather frightening. But since I never know what to expect, I usually tip toe around you. I'm not asking for any changes, I'm just explaining our dynamic.

From: Sra
RE: No complaints

I have no complaints about you! You are not overly demanding, and you give me plenty of proofreading work, which I love! Ok, there was that one time that I ended up staying at the office until 10:PM-ish trying to help you get that nasty brief filed, and I pretty much wanted to pop your head off that night, but then you made up for it by buying pizza and taking the firm out to lunch. So I couldn't stay mad! Thanks for being a great boss!

From: Sra
RE: We don't work together much, but when we do, the task is usually tedious

It's true, I hate to say it, but when you approach my desk, I can expect to be in for a really loathsome task. Even so, I have had to translate a few German patents for you, and while this is not an easy or particularly delightsome task, I do feel that I have grown as a German translator because of it! So, in a weird way, thanks for your tedious tasks.

To: Sra
From: Sra
RE: Note to Self

Note to self:

No office, job, or group of coworkers is ever perfect. You yourself are not perfect. You may not love your job all the time, but you know it is a good one with good pay, good benefits, and a lenient set of bosses that don't really care that you show up a half hour late every day and wear jeans more often than you should. Count your blessings, and try to maintain a positive attitude while this transitional job helps you to achieve your dreams.

Subscribe to Bunsnip

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Announcing the 1st Freakishly Bizarre Talent Contest

If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you might know that I have a simultaneous attraction and repulsion to freaks. Take the two-faced cat, the octopus girl, and the tree man, for instance. The problem is freaks like that, while fascinating, kind of... well... freak me out. So I had to stop posting about them.

But I am likewise interested, and much less repulsed, by people who have freakishly bizarre talents. I, for instance, have a number of freakishly bizarre talents. For example, I can produce a multitude of birdie noises and a convincing trumpet sound (aka, "the mouth trumpet") from my mouth.

So in the next week or two, I plan to gather documentary evidence of all my freakishly bizarre talents and post them all together. But I'm also interested in finding out about the freakishly bizarre talents of my readers, and so I'd like to propose a contest in which you all gather your own documentary evidence of your freakishly bizarre talents, whether it be audio/video/photo, and then post said evidence in the comments section of the forthcoming freakishly bizarre talents blog post.

After a week, I will choose my favorite freakishly bizarre talent and the winner will receive the spotlight in their very own post on Bunsnip. This might mean I will conduct an interview with the winner, or it might mean the winner will get the chance to guest post on Bunsnip. It kind of depends on what the winner will prefer to do.

So look for the post in the next week or two, and in the meantime, pull your freakishly bizarre talents out of the closet and get documenting!

Subscribe to Bunsnip

FitnessQuest2008: February -- with an introduction about the weather and cream eggs

It is a beautifully sunny day today! Still too cold for me to take my lunch on the back patio of our office, but warm enough for me to take a walk around the corner for a much needed latte from Caffe Niche. Pretty soon, I'm going to have to take a walk around the other corner and shop for a replacement bicycle. I had to sell my lovely vintage-style Schwinn last fall because it was only a 7-speed, and that just doesn't cut it in the University neighborhood. But it's definitely getting closer to biking-to-work-season, so I need to find a suitable replacement soon.

The Weather Troll and her fellow Nostradamuses have been trying desperately to hang on to winter, warning of several snow storms in the next 14 days (as if it's even possible to predict with any accuracy the weather 14 days down the road; most weather people are only 50/50 about what the weather is going to be like come the weekend!). But this sunny day has Spring written all over it, and that's the prediction I'm going to believe.

So apparently, the desperation businesses are feeling to always upstage last year's/quarter's/month's profits has translated into an elongation of the seasonal holidays. That way companies can try to squeeze all the filthy lucre they can out of shoppers. You know how it is: Christmas lasts from about mid-October to the end of December; Halloween lasts from September to the end of October; Valentine's Day starts in January, but we usually hear the end of it by about Feb. 20, since by then we all forget about love and move onto something more important: dead presidents; and finally, most dangerously, Easter begins about now and goes to the end of April!

I say most dangerously, because Easter brings my most favorite American candy: Cadbury's Cream Eggs. Ok, before you go off and tell me that Cadbury's is a British company, let me just say that it's American in that they don't try to pass it off as imported European chocolate and raise the price accordingly. Cadbury's Cream Eggs are actually very reasonably priced. But the problem is I simply can't control myself when it comes to them.

The other day, I went against my own wise advice and bought a 4-pack of the Eggs. This should last me at least 4 days, right? Wrong. They were gone by lunch the following day. Frankly, I'm surprised I managed to spread them out over two days. Usually I just shove the damn things in my mouth one after the other.

But Ian pointed out to me that each delicious Egg is composed of no less than 150 calories. So a 4-pack makes 600 calories! Maybe by being armed with this knowledge, I will be able to restrain my Cadbury's habit just a little bit. Maybe. I'm not placing any bets or anything.

So as you can see, the lengthening of the Easter holiday is seriously throwing a wrench into the gears of HealthQuest2008. Not that I'm throwing in the towel or anything, heavens no. After all, I have my heart set on doing some serious hiking and biking this season, and this year I mean it!

February Flu Season gave me a nice little gift this year -- the death flu -- and that delightful present meant that I had to give up going to yoga and the gym for two whole weeks! Talk about a serious setback! Yesterday morning I knew I was in trouble when I felt a little achy-ness in my muscles. When your muscles ache and you haven't even been working out, that's called atrophy, my friends (and when it's your glutes, it's called asstrophy). But I made my first revisit to the gym yesterday evening, and I didn't do as badly as I thought I might. I managed to pull a 30-minute slow climb in which I turned up the resistance two points every two minutes. It was a pretty good workout as far as endurance is concerned. But I always feel a little more invigorated when I do several fast climbs over the 30-minutes, since that gives my heart a little more up and down.

A week or so ago, after I was finally starting to feel better, I went against my rule and weighed myself. It turns out there is a caveat to the Weighing Yourself Is Bad Mojo guideline: if you already know that you weigh less than you used to, it's ok to weigh yourself. After not eating very much for the better part of a week, I knew there was no way I could be disappointed on the scale, so for curiosity's sake, I went for it.

My current weight: 155

To anyone who's been following along since I began the HealthQuest with the snake oil diet back in 2007, you will know that this means I'm down 6 pounds. And that's not too shabby when you consider that I've probably gained a fair amount of muscle weight over the past couple months and that I usually only lose about 2 pounds before putting it all back on again.

I can also physically see results on my body, particularly in my legs, which have a way to go before you could call them sexy (and I will probably always have cankles), but which are currently much leaner. Size 8 pants here I come!

So that's the HealthQuest 2008 update for February.

Now if I can manage to moderate my consumption of Cadbury's Cream Eggs, I think March will yield more exciting results. Stay tuned.

Subscribe to Bunsnip

Article: Complaining is good for the market

Here's a nice article by Cory Doctorow, one of the authors of the popular blog Boing Boing. The article is about how it is beneficial to publicly complain about crappy products or services, and that people who say we should just buy something else are off-base. And I totally agree! Businesses will not stop taking advantage of customers by sacrificing quality and customer service if nobody ever complains about it! (For my own rant about this, refer to Yucky Oatmeal Spurs Thoughts of Revolution.)

Here's the meat of the article if you don't want to bother with the whole thing:

If I hate those products so much, why don't I just buy someone else's products and shut up already? It's a free market, after all.

I'm always astounded by this reaction. Companies aren't charities. They're businesses. It doesn't matter why they're offering an unacceptable product -- all that matters is that the product is unacceptable. Companies aren't five-year-olds bringing their fingerpaintings home from kindergarten. We don't have to put on a brave smile and tell them, "that's just lovely dear," and display their wares proudly on the fridge. I don't care if Apple adds DRM because Lars from Metallica has incriminating photos of Steve Jobs, I don't care if Sony BMG put a rootkit on its CDs because they were duped into it by a trickster spirit that appeared to their technologists in a dream. I care whether their product is worth my money. It's the market -- there's no A for Effort.

Even weirder is the idea that companies shouldn't be criticized because in a market, you should just take your business elsewhere. Free markets thrive on good information. For a market to function, customers need to have good information about which goods are worth buying and which ones should be avoided -- that's why we complain in public, to help companies make better decisions.

Subscribe to Bunsnip

Friday, February 22, 2008

Reclaiming "Fresh"

Have you noticed that in the world of business there are certain words that have become essentially meaningless through misuse? You know, words like "fresh", "guarantee", and "sale".

I'm thinking about this as I pull the wilted green pepper off my Subway "Eat Fresh" sandwich. I'm not great at keeping vegetables fresh in my fridge, but I know that green peppers are some of the more hardy vegetables, and that they can tend to last a little longer than things like lettuce and tomatoes. So I know that if I'm pulling wilted green pepper off my Subway sandwich, then the green pepper most certainly isn't anything close to "fresh". Subway also likes to tout the fact that they bake their bread "fresh" in house. Alright, they do bake it on site, but how many Subway sandwiches have you eaten in which the bread was actually first-day fresh? Or how many times have you walked into a Subway and been greeted by the smell of bread baking? I don't think I've ever experienced either of those things, and if they think people can't tell the difference between first-day fresh bread and bread that's been sitting around for a day or two, then they're deluding themselves.

Which brings me to another egregious offender of the word "fresh": Smith's "Market Fresh Everyday" Marketplace. I once wrote Smith's a nasty gram saying that they ought to change their slogan to "Mark it 'Fresh' Yesterday", and for good reason. You will never, ever, not even once find fresh bread from the Smith's bakery. Nor will you be greeted by the smell of fresh bakings from the bakery section. Oh, but the bags that cover their French bread always claim that the bread was baked "fresh" on whatever day it's laying out. Sure it was. And I wouldn't know the difference, cause I've never had fresh bread in my life, right? WRONG! I've had fresh bread, and there's no passing off that shitty old Smith's bread for fresh bread.

I wish there were honest-to-god bakeries in the western U.S. We just don't have them. Ok, I take that back, we've got the Avenues Bakery, and they make mighty fine fresh artisan bread every day, and for a good price. And there's Gourmandies (aka, The Bakery), and they make fresh bread, but their prices aren't as nice. But besides that? I can't think of anything.

During my study abroad experiences in Germany, I was delighted to find that bakeries abounded on every street corner. They were the source of many breakfasts for me, and I miss just being able to walk down the street and get some fresh bread.

Our American businesses ought to be ashamed of themselves. Ashamed, I say, ashamed! Ashamed for not caring enough about quality, and ashamed for lying about it by misusing the word "fresh".

I'm not usually a fan of government interference and regulation, but I think there is a difference between government regulation of individuals and government regulation of business. I think it is the purpose of the government to protect individual rights, and to keep businesses from abusing individuals' rights. I think that's the difference between the Republican and Democratic views of government: Republicans say they like small government, which sounds like a good thing, but what they are really saying is that they don't want government to interfere with business; Democrats, on the other hand, know that it is the nature of business to prey on individuals (they don't call it capitalism for nothing!), and so they know that businesses need more government regulation in order to protect individual rights. And I'm all for the Democratic view of governmental regulation.

So I think there ought to be restrictions on businesses' right to use words like "fresh", "guarantee", and "sale". Namely, they shouldn't be allowed to use those words if their product or services do not adhere to the dictionary meaning of those words.

It's called ethics, pure and simple. But we all know business ethics is an oxymoron, so what we need is government-imposed ethics.

We need to take back "fresh"!

Subscribe to Bunsnip

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Rivers of Honey and Bad Tattoo Similes

I had the strangest dream last night.

I'm accustomed to having really fantastical, adventurous, vivid dreams on occasion. A few of these dreams have spawned some book ideas, none of which have been started, but all of which are trapped safely in my mind for future writing. One of them is a science fiction type story involving time travel and infinity, and I talked about the dream that inspired that story in my blog post Ad Infinitum.

Another is a vision of the future, but it's not science fiction. Well, I suppose if I told you that in this vision of the future it's become fashionable to get sixth toe body modifications (as in adding more toes to your feet), then you might not believe it's not science fiction. But really, it's just a story about society in the future based on a couple of my crazy dreams. The toe thing kind of shows that many things that seem normal or fashionable to us in society are actually arbitrary or weird. Like codpieces. WTF, mate, WTF.

But anyway, I don't think this dream I had last night is going to spark any more book ideas, but it was a rather unusual dream, so I thought I might as well talk about it here.

I can't remember too many details, unfortunately, since I waited too long to post this entry, but what I do remember is that I was squatting in an old abandoned high school. And by squatting, I mean staying for free. Not... you know.... Anyway, I had company, but I'm not sure who my companions were, or exactly how many of us there were. But living in an old high school and being able to do whatever we wanted in a place that symbolizes structure and discipline was rather freeing.

So of course supernatural forces had to interfere.

One day, without warning, honey began to flow through the hallways of the school. It started out slow, with maybe an inch or two stream of honey coursing through some of the corridors. But the more we tried to clean up the honey or stop the flow, the more honey came, until we were dealing with some serious rivers of honey, the current, viscosity, and stickiness of which could have destroyed even the most skilled swimmer.

It was sort of like the rivers of slime in Ghostbusters 2, except that it was honey. Yeah, I really don't know where that came from, I guess you could say I was having sweet dreams. But anyway, I'd be much more afraid of a river of honey than a river of slime, no question. I mean, could you imagine what would happen if you were submerged in a river of honey? There would be no hope for you! Even if you managed to rise above the current, you'd never get all that sticky bee vomit out of your airways. You'd seriously be a goner!

We tried diverting the flow by opening and closing doorways and windows, and, oddly enough, we used pots and pans to try to scoop the river outside. It seemed to work a little. Most of all, we were glad the school was equipped with plenty of staircases and random ledges, so that we had a fighting chance against the honey.

Unfortunately, I don't know how the story ends, because I was awakened by my alarm blaring some of the dumbest lyrics I've heard in a long time. They go like this:

You're on my heart just like a tattoo
And just like a tattoo
I'll always have you.

Ug, I just bee vomited all over myself.

Subscribe to Bunsnip

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Men's Fashion Trends That Simply Must Go

There are a lot of stupid male fashion trends going around these days. It's time to put a stop to some of the more heinous trends. So if you are a man who is guilty of any of the following, please, for the sake of ladies everywhere, put an end to your fashion atrocities!

1) Mohawks, Fauxhawks, Mullethawks, and any other kind of hawks

Let's face it, anything that gives your head the same shape as members of the Conehead family is not a good idea. Besides, this look is so emo, and emo is so not cool anymore, if it ever truly was.

2) Grizzly Man beards
The wild man thing was fun for a minute, but now it's time to learn to love your razor again. Or if you must wear a beard, let's keep the length short. If your beard hair is starting to curl, or if you can trim your mustache using your teeth, your beard is too long. (Yes, I used to know a bearded man who trimmed his mustache with his teeth. Dirty man.)

3) Pants, the butt of which falls below your butt
I don't know what magic keeps your pants in place below your butt without falling down. But it's evil magic, because it makes people have to see your boxers, tightie boxer briefs, or worse yet, your ass crack. (P.S. to guys, I have a little secret for you: women want to check out your butt, and they can't do that if your pants don't cover your butt, because then they are repulsed and have to look away. You don't want women to be repulsed and look away, do you? Then enough said, pull up your pants.)

Update: Apparently, this fashion trend is known as "sagging" to kids these days. Observe the following letter sent by a couple sixth graders to an advice column called Male Call:

We are two sixth-grade girls. We are wondering - why do boys sag? Their underwear is ugly, and no one finds pleasure in looking at it. For example, we have seen chartreuse and plaid boxers, boxers with money prints, basketballs, Sponge Bob and other unattractive items. Isn't it called underwear because it belongs UNDER their clothes?

I must say, I'm totally pleased that even young girls find this trend repulsive.

To read
Male Call's response, click here. They claim that this is something boys grow out of, but seeing as how on my lunch break yesterday I was walking behind a 20-something boy who was "sagging", I wouldn't count on the whole growing-out-of-it thing. This is the male half of the species we're talking about, after all.

4) Skinny jeans
Ok, we get that you don't have to deal with body fat the same way women do, but the Peter Pan look is really not a good one. Not even on your bony chicken legs.

5) Large Ear Gauges
I don't really get the desire to make the shape of your ears resemble that of Dopey and Dumbo, but it's become a rather unfortunate trend in recent years. I look forward to the hilarity that will ensue when this generation reaches the golden years. Everyone knows that men shrink when they get older, except for in the nose and ears, where they actually get bigger. It should be funny to see a bunch of men in their 80's with their earlobes all the way down to their shoulders.

Subscribe to Bunsnip

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Bunsnip Live a Success

The Live Blogging Thingy went really, really well today. I meant to post a reminder about the event, but the evil death flu only really started to lift yesterday, and I'm just lucky that today I can walk ten steps without needing to sit down for lack of energy. So I made it to the event, but I neglected to send out a reminder because of the near death. But thanks to my brother and my boyfriend for coming and showing support.

There were about 10 of us reading, and everyone had great posts to share. I encourage you all to visit the blogs of the fine bloggers who read today.

For my part, I read today's post, the first installment of Life Lessons Learned Through My Embarrassing Moments. So check that out.

Oh, and I guess there's going to be pictures and video of the event in the future, so as soon as I get my hands on 'em, I'll post.

Subscribe to Bunsnip

Life Lessons Learned through My Embarrassing Moments

Life Lesson 1: On Re-Wearing Pants

I have a general rule about laundry: shirts, socks, and underwear may be worn once, sweaters twice, and pants three times before washing.

There are of course exceptions to this rule. For instance, you wouldn’t want to re-wear a pair of jeans that has spent the previous evening in a smoky bar. Not without first applying a healthy dousing of Febreze. Now Febreze doesn’t really neutralize odors as it claims; it just covers them up. But in a pinch it can make soiled laundry pass as fresh.

And sometimes it's ok to re-wear items that are generally only worn once. Like when you go camping, you're not going to be impressing anybody with your cleanliness, so you might as well keep wearing the same clothes until the flies start swarming around you, or until the bears find your tent. Those are pretty good indications that it’s time for some fresh apparel.

So as you see, my laundry rule is generally flexible, and thus it’s never been unusual for me to don a pair of pants several times during a week. I’ve done this my entire life, and I think it’s a fine practice. However, there was one occasion on which a definite drawback of pant re-wearing was brought to my attention.

It was junior high –- what better time to gain life experience by making a fool of yourself? I was in the middle of Mr. Mannsfield's second period band class. We weren't playing our instruments at the moment, because Mr. Mannsfield was taking rolecall. So I was noodling around with the keys on my saxophone and waiting for my name to be called, when I happened to glance down at my feet.

And that’s when my eyes widened, my breath caught, my pulse skipped a beat, and I hoped to god no one else had seen the horror I had just seen: there was a pair of my Hanes Her Way whitey tighties hanging out of my pant leg! They must have still been in my pants when I had grabbed them off the floor in the morning and put them on, and they must have wormed their way down my leg to come to rest on my shoe, where they could mock me in front of god and everyone!

I felt lucky that they had stayed on my shoe for this long. What if they had fallen out while I was walking to class and someone had seen them? I'd have had to change my name and transfer to a different school, and even then the risk of rumor following me would not have been completely assuaged. I was suddenly haunted by images of fingers pointing, eyes staring, faces laughing, and general mockery involving the word "panties".

I knew the only way out of this situation without facing utter social ruin was to try to remain calm. Drawing attention to myself would only increase the likelihood of public humiliation. So I played it cool and tried to keep my attention off the floor. It's somehow easy not to look at something that might give you a mild pulmonary infarction.

Finally the end of class came, and while everyone rustled with their instrument cases, I swiftly and discreetly as possible swept my undies out of my pant leg and into my backpack. I don’t know if anyone saw me, but if they did, they blessed me with their silence.

Life Lesson Learned: Shake the hell out of previously worn pants before re-wearing; or, in the alternative, give up underwear altogether.

Subscribe to Bunsnip

Friday, February 15, 2008

I'm a baby when it comes to persistent sickness, but sometimes a positive attitude is the best prescription

I'm still sick as a mother-effing dog.

This is day 4 of full-blown nasty sickness, and while the sickness has changed over these 4 days, I can't say that it's improved. So I decided to try to go to the clinic today. I say "try", because I failed, twice. Apparently there aren't any walk-in clinics anymore. But I don't understand why I should have to make an appointment when I am sick RIGHT NOW, and want to be seen RIGHT NOW. That may be selfish and unrealistic, but it's how I feel.

And my feelings are really turbulent right now. I'm in the emotional phase of the sickness. You know, the part where you've been so sick and tired for so long that you feel really emotionally vulnerable and you want someone to help you be better. And so when you are turned away from two clinics, you cry your eyes out in a manner that you haven't done since you were an infant. The really embarrassing, out-of-control type of crying where you moan at a level so intense you didn't know you had it in you. Yes, I should feel ashamed. But I can't help it, I'm vulnerable, and I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired. I just want to at least feel like I'm improving, even a little. Well, actually crying so hard did help me feel a little better. Maybe now I kind of get why kids do it so much. I just always figured they were whiny little beasts that knew how to twist mommy's arms. But maybe they are just expressing their basic emotional needs in the only way they know how. Or maybe not, maybe they're still little beasts.

But anyway it's difficult to get me to go to the doctor. I don't really like going. For one thing, all you ever hear about is how people are over-prescribed antibiotics, and so you should think twice about going to the clinic if you think you just have a cold or flu, because antibiotics don't help that. Well, first off, this shifts the blame of the over-prescription from the people doing the prescribing to the people getting the pills. Doctors should be mindful about not prescribing unnecessary medication, that is their responsibility. We patients don't know what we have, and that's why we go to the doctor in the first place. I think maybe some doctors are too busy to want to properly figure out what patients have, and so they just send them off with some antibiotics. Shame on them for that.

Well, you know what? I haven't had a course of antibiotics in so long that I can't even remember the last time. It was probably in junior high. So it's not like I'm an evil antibiotic popper who just wants a quick fix for my ailment. If that were the case, I'd have gone in at least on day two, although apparently I'd have been turned away. Seriously, I didn't know you needed an appointment.

On the other hand, you always hear, "check with your doctor" about this OTC medication and that OTC medication, and WEBMD says on their aticle When Should I See a Doctor for Cold or Flu? that you should see a doctor if you have a persistent fever. Well, I've had a persistent fucking fever, and it's frying my brains and making me crazy and making me cry like a little baby when the doctors turn me away.

Ok, so as you see, I'm still very emotional. Breathe, Sra.

But I've decided the doctors and clinics can eff themselves, and anyway, I'm bound to start getting better sometime soon, I mean how long can a damn sickness possibly last? It's me and Dayquill/Nyquill from here on out! I'll probably start feeling better tomorrow, and maybe I'll be better in time to enjoy my paid holiday on monday.

So seriously, now you see that I have very little patience for lasting sickness, and I have a rather negative attitude about it, but in reality, I'm going to be fine, and if I'm just patient enough, I will be better soon. It sucks but it's a necessary evil we all have to face sometimes.

But other people have to deal with much more serious evils, life-threatening ones that last much longer and are much more difficult and scary than a stupid little cold. And sometimes it's remarkable how well people who look their mortality in the face can still manage to remain positive. I don't know if I'd be able to handle that.

So this confidential message goes out to a person very close to me who is dealing with a very difficult, life-threatening illness with much more poise than I could ever muster: I know you are scared, as are we all, but you put on a much braver face than I could ever imagine putting on in your shoes. The road is going to get tougher shortly, but I know that if anyone can do it, you can do it. Keep your chin up. You inspire me.

Subscribe to Bunsnip

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Nasty Sinus Infection Destoys my Peaceful Frame of Mind

6:44 AM

It's early, much earlier than I ever like to be awake. But I'm doing better than yesterday when I was up at 3:30 AM and never did make it back to sleep.

Just when I thought I was about to make it out of winter without getting sick (except for that bout of food poisoning -- Damn your eyes Wendy's!), I come down with a sinus infection.

Took yesterday off work, and I'll be calling in sick today too, which should be something to celebrate, right? Especially since I last posted about how looking out the window at the lovely weather makes me depressed about having to work all day.

But truthfully I'd rather be at work than on the couch at home all day, especially when I'm not even able to get a peaceful night's rest. And I don't particularly want to eat anything. And I haven't bathed in days. And I only have one more industrial strength cold/sinus pill. They work really well, except that they are supposed to work for 12 hours, but they really only work for 6, and they threaten that you can't take more than 2 in 24 hours. I don't know what would happen if you do, but considering what happened to Heath Ledger, I think I'll try to stick to the directions. You have to go to the pharmacy for them, because apparently people make meth out of them or something. I'm not sure how they think having to ask at the counter is going to change that.

I'm debating whether I should go to the clinic. If I have a bacterial infection, I'd want to get antibiotics. Last year, about the same time, I had a sinus infection that persisted for two weeks, and I really should have gone to the doctor about that. But I've developed a really conservative opinion about going to the doctor. I wish we had socialized medicine. If we did, I wouldn't think twice about going, and I wouldn't have to pay for it. Works for the rest of the world.

I don't know, maybe I'll go tomorrow if I'm not feeling better.

Subscribe to Bunsnip

Monday, February 11, 2008

Lessons learned out the window

Spring is in the air, and it's only February!

I know, I know, it isn't prudent to get too excited. The Weather Troll is bound to send us another snow storm or two before the season is out. But in the meantime, I'm enjoying the sunshine! Even if only through my office window... sigh...

You know what's the time of life in which you have the most freedom? It's the college years. No, seriously, that is the time of your life where you really get to take hold of the reins and make your own decisions. You answer only to yourself. It may seem as if you are a slave to your classes, and that you can't really get your life started until you finish college, but that isn't true. First off, you get to take as much time as you want to get your degree, and after you get the first one, you can consider staying on to get another. You can do it all as fast or as slow as you want, and you get to savor it all, day by day -- the fact that you are making your own decisions. You can decide when you want to sleep in, or take a day off to play or be sick, and you don't have to answer to anyone about it. Obviously there are better days to take off than others, but the point is, you are the boss of your life in college. It is the ultimate time of freedom.

When you get a real job in the real world, that is when your freedom is taken away from you, and you have to answer to someone else, just like it was when you were under your parents' roof. You can't have as many days off as you want to get over being sick or to rest your mind or to simply play (in other words, to live your life). And you have to spend the best hours of your day staring out the window and wishing you were playing in the sun.

Being an adult sucks.

Ok, being an adult doesn't really suck; I'm not very fond of kids, after all, and I wouldn't want to revert to being one. But I just wish as an adult we wouldn't be so beholden to other people. I wish we were the bosses of our own lives.

Maybe I'll go to law school, and then work in the public sector to pay off my loans, and then return to school as a law professor! Wouldn't that be the life? Yes, academics: that is the life.

Alright, so this post was really supposed to be about how excited I am about the warm weather, but then I got depressed when I looked out the window and remembered that I can't do with my day whatever I want to do with it, because I have to WORK! BAH!!!

You know, I worked hard in college, but my hard work was rewarded with plenty of rest time. What with summer vacation, fall break, winter break, spring break, and the random national holidays, semesters at school were totally manageable on a mental level. But when it got down to midterms and finals, you put your nose to the grindstone and got the job done, even if it meant pulling all nighters. But these midterms and finals were milestones that kept you going, and you got to feel proud of yourself when you were finished with them. The completion of each semester brought you one step closer to achieving your goals and to bettering yourself as an educated person.

There is no such structure at work. Sure, there are deadlines, but completing them doesn't bring you any closer to grander achievement. And you never get to celebrate your success. People don't tell you if you do a good job, but they don't hesitate to let you know when you do things wrong.

I never understood why people would want to get Ph.D.s. Why be in school for so long? But I get it now, and maybe that's why I want to go back and get my law degree. Deep down, I just want to be a student forever.

Subscribe to Bunsnip

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Chinese New Year Can't Sap LSAT Mojo

I finally dragged my lazy butt out of bed to take a practice LSAT this morning. In October, I had planned out a schedule of taking practice tests every two weeks, and I stuck with it through December, but since the new year, I have only taken one practice test before today, and that one wasn't particularly good.

The real test isn't until June, so I'm not in hot water yet, but that still only gives me four months to prepare myself adequately, and let's just say that I have a lot of ground to cover in Logic Games.

If you aren't familiar with the format of the LSAT, I'll explain. There are four types of sections: (1) Reading Comp, (2) Logical Reasoning, (3) Logic Games, and (4) Writing. The writing section isn't included in your score, though, so I haven't practiced it yet, because I'm not worried about it. The reading comp is just like any other reading comp section you've ever had in any other standardized test -- no problem. Logical reasoning are short arguments composed of 3-5 sentences, and which usually include premises that lead to a conclusion. Then the LR questions ask things like, what will weaken/strengthen the conclusion, what is an example of parallel reasoning, what is the flaw in the reasoning, etc. There are two LR sections on the actual test, so this counts for a major part of your score, and it is therefore very important to understand how to handle these questions. They aren't too bad once you get used to doing them, and I'm not very worried about this part of the test.

But Logic Games...

Logic Games are like this:

Seven classes, A, B, C, D, E, F, and G, are to be scheduled during 5 days, Monday-Friday according to the following conditions:
-Only one class is scheduled Wednesdays
-D and G are not scheduled on the same day
-If F is scheduled on Mondays, B is scheduled Thursdays
-C and D are not scheduled on consecutive days
-E is scheduled before D during the week, and they are not scheduled on the same day


And that would be a typical setup of one of the easier games. (Note that I completely made those rules up; it's not an actual question, but that's what they read like.)

Looks fun, huh? After all, they're games! Yeah, well, they are kind of fun if you have plenty of time to solve them, but in the test, you only have 35 minutes to solve four such games containing a total of 24-26 questions, and usually only one of the games is relatively easy.

So that's what I'm struggling with right now. But I have hope that I will be able to focus my skill in this area and be able to accurately answer three of the games. I think that's the best I'll be able to do in the allotted time, but it should be enough for me to achieve my goal of 165 on the test.

So today I went to the SLC library to take my practice test. I've finally found an area of the library that is relatively undisturbed. For weeks, I ended up moving several times between sections because a baby would cry its little eyes out without its mother shutting it up, or a bum would be snoring loudly in a nearby armchair, or some rat bastard would hold a loud conversation on his cellphone, or someone would come and ask me if they can sit at my table. Can't these people see I'm trying to take a test?

So I found a far table on the third floor that is usually secluded, and I set up for battle there. The logic games were the first section of the test, and I made them my bitches this time! Well, at least I made two of them my bitches, and I got about half right on the other two games. Still, it was my best performance on the Games yet!

I thought it was all smooth sailing from there, but then, as I turned to the last page on my final section of the test - a logical reasoning section - and with the clock down to about 7 minutes, all of a sudden a cacophonous clang and clatter of drums arose from behind me. At first, I thought someone knocked over a bookshelf, but then the sound kept ringing on, so I thought maybe it was some kind of bizarre fire alarm.

But I wasn't about to let a fire hinder my test, so I kept going through the migraine-inducing thundering from below. I had to stick my fingers in my ears and mutter the questions to myself in order to maintain focus, but I managed to finish.

And I scored a 163!!!! My highest practice score yet! 165 here I come...

So it turns out it's Chinese New Year, and the library saw fit to have a 5 minute drumming celebration for the occasion. I guess there were dancers and everything, but I was on the other side of the lib taking a nasty exam, so I saw nothing.

It's a special library, the Salt Lake. In what other library can you expect to hear a riotous drumming demonstration for Chinese New Year? None that I know of. So I guess that's pretty cool. I just wish they could have provided a little warning to those of us who wanted to have a little testing zen. Next time I'll bring my earplugs just in case.

Subscribe to Bunsnip

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The "Egregious" Misuse of Quotation Marks

Through Neil Gaiman's blog, I surfed over to a site called The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks, which is a delightful collection of photos showing misuse of quotation marks, like this "one":

The maker of this sign sure loves misusing quotation marks (and ellipses, for that matter), but she just can't bring herself to close out the sentence with a period, can she?

The misuse of quotation marks has been irksome to me for many, many years, even before I became a language geek. But it's not the most annoying of grammatical errors; on the contrary, it can be rather amusing.

I remember many years ago my family was taking our annual trip to Southern Utah to catch the Shakespearean Festival in Cedar City. On the way down, we noticed that most semi-trucks have a little compartment on the side of their rigs that houses a fire extinguisher. Most of the doors to these compartments have a variation of this message written on them (note that the quotation marks are actually part of the message):

"Fire Extinguisher inside"

We began making fun of the misused quotation marks, and at one point, my brother said, "They're either lying about there being a fire extinguisher inside, or they're quoting some other truck's fire extinguisher compartment." We had a good laugh at that.

So why do so many people enthusiastically misuse quotation marks? Well, there are many correct uses for quotation marks, which is probably where some of the confusion stems from. Here are some instances of correct quotation mark use:

1) Quoting statements verbatim

My teacher said to me, "You have mastered your use of quotation marks!"

2) Referring to a word as the word itself, instead of its meaning.

The word "blog" is a relatively new coinage; new words are created all the time.

3) To say "so-called" without using those words

The "War on Terror" is really an attempt to incite fear in Americans, and thereby control them.

4) Signifying the title of an article

I wrote a blog article called "The 'Egregious' Misuse of Quotation Marks".

5) To show that you don't really mean what you say (to be ironic):

I've made you a "delicious" meat pie!

And here are a couple prevalent misuses of quotation marks:

1) Adding emphasis to a word or phrase

This is the most common misuse, and it's what the sign makers on the hot chocolate picture above were attempting. But this type of emphasis is best added by bolding, italicizing, or underlining, and sometimes by CAPPING, depending on your preference or the amount of emphasis you want.

Incorrect: Quotation marks are "not" an appropriate means of adding emphasis.
Correct: Quotation marks are not an appropriate means of adding emphasis.

2) Setting off a slogan or trademark

There's no need to use quotes for slogans or trademarks. Just write the phrase without them, or use a TM or circle R if it's a trademark.

Misusing quotation marks is amusing for all the people who know better and get to laugh at you. But if you don't want to be laughed at, then follow this rule of thumb: When in doubt, leave them out.

Subscribe to Bunsnip

Saturday, February 2, 2008

When Good Cellular Intentions Good Bad

The end of January 2008 marked the end of my 2-year contract with Sprint, and I couldn't be more pleased. Well, that's not actually true, I could be more pleased, but that's only because I was stupid and allowed myself to get ripped off hard-core. More on that in a minute.

I don't really have anything against Sprint as a person... er... cellular company... but I had compatibility issues between my service and the service of other people. For one thing, text messaging was terribly unreliable. Delivery was ofttimes delayed in both sent and received messages, and sometimes messages weren't received at all, or sometimes they were received several DAYS after they were sent. That's not very useful, is it? I might as well have canceled the text service and sent my messages via snail mail -- they'd get there faster! It wasn't always like that, sometimes messages got there on time, but you'd just never know, and not knowing is very irritating to humans (hence our need to create imaginary things to assuage our not-knowing, like the illusions of god, true democracy, and security through the TSA). There was no feeling of security that my communication was getting through, and so I had to bail.

Sprint sure tried their hardest to keep me on, however. I received phone calls from them almost every day since the beginning of last December -- although I never answered the calls. I've learned that if you don't recognize a number, and if the caller won't leave a message, then you are better off not talking to them anyway. So I'm glad that the desperate attempts at keeping my patronage will now cease. (And if they don't, well, let's just say I got people in the legal biznez.)

So now I'm with T-Mobile, and I have an awesome new Samsung Blast slider phone. It has MP3 and even a camera! (I know that's not really anything to get excited about these days, but I've never had those features before, so I'm pretty stoked.) It also weighs about a ton less than my old phone.

So now for the giant ass rip-off I got myself into today:

When the sales lady put my new Samsung Blast into my hot little hand, I was mesmerized by the pristine condition of the LCD screen. And so I started to get a little afraid that I might somehow scratch up the screen if I started throwing it in my purse or pocket like I have done with my old flip phone. The external LCD on my flip phone has a nice big crack on the cover, for instance, so I knew what I was capable of.

So as Ian and I left the T-Mobile store, I said that I needed to find something to protect my phone - like a nice little case to shove it in, or something. So we went over to Fashion Place mall, and I foolishly walked up to one of those center kiosks that sells cheap stuff for rip-off prices. And it all happened so fast after that. First the salesguy asked me if he could help out, and I told him I was only looking, and then before I knew it, I was handing over my debit card to pay for the $10.00 piece of craptacular plastic sticker that he had half-assedly covered the screen of my phone with. I know, it sounds so stupid. I could have stopped him at anytime, and I didn't have to hand over the money, but I tell you, I'm a reasonable (and reasonably cheap) person, and I was still sucker-punched by this bastard salesguy. It all happened so fast, and I guess you could say I just tried to go to a happy place while it was happening.

Here's the nice little message that he stamped on the back of my receipt:

Buy at own risk. I love that. It shows that they really care... about bending people over backwards and raping them in the ass!

I'm so mad at myself. And I feel so used and dirty, dirty, dirty...

Subscribe to Bunsnip