Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Things I don't get #6: Hormel meat and their believers (Spam, etc.)

The King of Nigeria, Canadian Pharmacies, and altruistic individuals have been bombarding me with offers for millions of dollars from my next-of-African-kin, cheap Viagra, and help increasing my "size/performance" lately. While I appreciate the attention doted on me by these ever persistent spammers, part of my wonders who out there is clicking these links and perpetuating this phenomenon. Save Michael Scott, I don't know a soul who has been taken in by these scams, but the truth is, I know someone out there is making setting up these spam-bots worthwhile. I want to find them and hunt them down (at least, that is, until Yahoo's spam guard can start picking up these messages).

My immediate guesses as to the perpetrators identity is male, insecure, and flat out desperate. That said, I know I've never responded to any of these spams, so I don't know who else it could be (kidding of course, I am quite secure in my desperation). Yet, I cannot imagine the poor chap who orders the special "blue pill" and suddenly finds himself wrangling in a world of identity theft at counterfeit "male enhancement" drugs. Best case scenario, the guy somehow frees his credit of its besmirched reputation and actually receives some sort of non-poisonous pill in the mail which has some sort of placebo effect. If the guy is stupid enough to order those pills, then he must somehow be stupid enough to believe they will help him in the sack, and if he ever gets there, maybe that unfounded belief will. One can only hope.

On the other end of the spectrum, are those who have no idea what I am talking about and somehow have hidden their e-mail address or gotten a superior spam blocker. For that I commend you (all twelve of you). Yet even the locked down ".edu" verified school e-mail address I had for my undergraduate career fell prey to these e-mails. Of course, so did everyone else's at my school and since the system was compromised, we all received e-mails making it look like my dorm mate was trying to sell me free viagra, vicadin, codine, etc.

Yet some people never quite caught on that this was a scam. One poor young girl actually sent an e-mail, which had my name in the "to" line but had somehow been delivered to her, politely informing me that she accidentally received my mail (which happened to be an offer for performance enhancement). At first I thought it a joke until I realized that I didn't know this young lady, and that she seriously thought I may be seeking out male enhancement.

I of course profusely thanked her and asked if she had happened to hear from Kenya's foreign treasurer about the wire for $4 million I was soon supposed to receive.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Things I don't get #5: Loud Speakers (not the electronic kind)

Since Jerry Sienfeld has already composed the penultimate treatise on close talkers, I am left to delineate the common annoyances of an overactive alternate modality. The range of these poor souls extend from the "voice modulation syndrome" guy who speaks just a notch too loud in all circumstances, to the perpetual mumbler who gets frustrated with people asking "what?" and decides to suddenly enunciate as well as talk loud enough for every senior in the room to dial down their miracle ear. Finally, there is the poor soul who tells the "how do you sell chicken to a deaf person" joke (the answer, of course, is the ironic, but certainly not unnannoying outburst of a loud "you want some chicken).

Nothing can cause an instantaneous aversion to whatever is coming out of your vocal chords than an excessive amount of gusto with which it is said. The problem seems to effect males and females indiscriminately, but it is all the more shocking when a loud, high pitched voice comes out of a small, petite woman. However, the worst perpetrators are the aforementioned mumblers. As if in aggression to no one being able to decipher their incoherence, they shout whatever trivial fact that they were bumbling about directly into the tympanic membrance and make every listener sorry they justified the comment with a "what?" "hmmm?" or huh?" Dude, don't punish me because you suddenly acquired the ability to separate your words. Still ever worse is the close-talking, loud-talking individual who seems to have missed the day when they taught social norms in grade school (his sweat pants were probably dirty and he couldn't find his velcro shoes . . .oh wait, that was me).

Still, there is another camp of those who seem to think that they need electrical assistance whenever they are speaking to a group (or individual) of greater number than their monologue (and who can be sure they don't use a mic when talking to themselves). My eighth grade gym teacher used a microphone to give out instructions before class every day. Nearly every day I wanted to remind him that there were literally only twelve of us sitting there and we already knew the rules to basketball. Certainly the feedback from a cheap portable microphone made it harder to hear than his minuscule voice. The voice was not even that small, rather his voice had a nasty habit of constantly cracking, which was only amplified by the microphone. Maybe the poor chap just enjoyed electronics, but my theory (as is every eighth graders) that the funny cigarette he was smoking in between classes effected his cognitive decision making.

All that said, I'd take the over eager beaver over "the whisperer" any day.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Things I don't get #4: Multi-tasking (as in how-to)

Call me old-school, call me one-dimensional, call me inept, but I cannot do more than one thing effectively at a time. The trouble is, in practice, I fail to recognize this unequivocal truth on a daily basis. My roommate will be attempting to have a conversation with me and ask a pointed question. In response, my wandering eyes fixed on the baseball game, I will respond "you sonnuva gun," and my roommate will have to survey the situation for a good thirty seconds before realizing I tuned out as soon as the bases became loaded and the count ran full. I'll attempt to seamlessly resume the conversation only to find we've moved beyond the topic of the wheather a good five minutes prior (which reflects poorly on my multi-tasking, positively on my ability to insert appropriate hmms and uh-huhs and poorly on my roommates conversational ability).

I have a friend who for years believed that I was simply an awful phone conversationalists until we had a chance conversation during which I was not near a television set and things went smashingly. I have still more friends, who despite concerted efforts, I find the phone calls more and more sparing based upon the fact that my body can somehow involuntarily move to the couch, turn on the tv, and transfer my attention to a football game unconsciously.

Yet, its not only others that I harm when I attempt to use this tactic. I mean, yes, I hurt myself by losing friends, but in a more tangible way, my academics suffer. My 3/31/08 post chronicled my ability to distract myself from lectures, but I still convince myself that I will be able to exhibit self control and study in front of a computer today. No, I cannot do it. I told myself I was sitting down to study for my exam on Thursday before I began typing this blasted post (which by the way is an amazing feat given the fact that I am currently doing laundry simultaneously. Yeah, be impressed).

Still, I attempt even more ridiculous pairings of attention-necessary events all the time. I can't count the number of times I have burned pancakes (look, so I have an affinity for a good hotcake from time to time, lay off) because I have attempted to get dressed in the other room while they cook. Who can't button a polo shirt while making sure they don't char Bisquick? I can't (luckily, I do quickly become focused and am able to wave something in front of the smoke detector while still in my drawers).

Point being, I am a singularly focused man. I do not have the female gift of doing more than one thing at once. I consider studying to music a major breakthrough. However, I also have the appropriate male gift of stubbornness. So if you ever find yourself in a phone conversation with me (god bless your soul), and I start to respond a little too excessively with the verbal equivalent of head nods, kindly ask me to turn away from the ever-interesting baseball game and listen to your plight.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Things I don't get #3: Nightclubs (Particularly, beds in night clubs)

Note: I really wanted to title this series "rantings of an ignoramus," but I feel like the terms rants, ramblings, meanderings, etc have sufficiently worn-out their worth and are cast-off into the cliche Sahara with my personal favorite "random" post from (see October 23).

I confess. I am not a wild, raging, push it to the excess, pulsating music, party animal. I know this may come as a great shock to many of you who expect to see me frequent the late-night hot-spot circuit, but besides my penchant for sleep (and thus early bedtimes) and fondness for my eardrums, I have probably never really enjoyed myself at any destination where my vocal chords cannot produce a sound half as loud as the music pushing through the speakers.

That's not to say I haven't tried. Occasionally, I have ventured out into the surreal world that is the "nightlife." Don't get me wrong, I am all for staying out late with friends, enjoying each others company, and having a good time. I just prefer to do so in a location where I can actually hear my friends, and don't have to have a conversation (with only eyes of course) while wondering what the giant golden-framed bed next to me purpose is.

I can understand some plush seating, or even a couch that encourages a good "make-out" spot or something. But a bed in the middle of the room, with thinly draped curtains. Exactly what is the intent? I mean personally, once the clock strikes one a.m., I have to remind myself that laying down to take a nap is not appropriate etiquette, but what would be proper etiquette? The last night club I went to offered bed and bottle service. As attractive as that sounded, I think it would have been more attractive were I six months old and pining for some formula.

I have known people, who also don't particularly care for the late night scene to venture out to the nightclubs to "meet people." I am simply impressed that meeting anyone is possible at said venues. I still don't know how to do introductions in sign language so I guess I'm out of the loop. That said, who am I going to meet at a night club. I mean, I think I am already maxed out on male friends with excessively tight black shimmering short-sleeved button-up shirts. Likewise, I suppose I'm maxed out on female friends who are going out late at night to meet guys in excessively tight black shimmering short-sleeved button-up shirts.

Given the circumstances, I suppose I can't blame the establishments for the dark lit rooms and pulsating music that should be confined to thirteen year-old teeny-boppers bedrooms. How else do they get people to forget that they just paid thirteen dollars for that drink with fluorescent glow.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Things I don't get #2: Feminine Hygiene Commercials

Note: This post could have simply been entitled “women,” but why throw away a cache of material in one fell swoop (see April 5 entry). Similarly, this post could have simply covered the female cycle, yet that too should intrinsically be singularly mystifying. I feel advertising should, in some way, be slightly accessible to me despite my obvious ignorant state.

The problem I have with the commercials is not with the things that I don’t understand (which are many) but with the things that I do understand (which are few). For one, when showing absorbency quality, why is the liquid so ridiculously blue? Is there some biological phenomenon I will not learn about until my last years of medical school? And if so, how did Windex (and my hair gel for that matter) get the rights to said quasi-fluorescent material?

Secondly, judging by facial expressions, all of the women on the commercials are ridiculously happy to be bleeding. I for one, have never been that happy to be bleeding no matter how sweet the band-aid is (at least since I was eleven and flintstones band-aids and vitamins were no longer cool), and I certainly can’t imagine being that happy about something that could be predicted by an egg-timer (okay, if they made ones that lasted about a month, I just wanted to go with the whole egg irony thing here).

Thirdly, I suppose it is understandable, but why are they always showing women’s faces staring at the screen and talking to me. I realize that they cannot actually show the product in action, but still, how many other commercials is just a talking face at the screen. Maybe this appeals to women, but I like a little bit more subtlety in my advertising (like Bud Light commercials, where humor/hot women are the net result of beer).

Finally, there is the whole idea of comfort marketing. Look, I am sure that convincing people that these things lessen the pain/annoyance/whatever else I don't comprehend, is important, but do we have to really try and make it seem as if you are sitting on a cloud with these products? I mean shoot, sometimes I forget why these advertisements are on in the first place and wish I could be in such a dreamland. Alas, in retrospect, I suppose I am not surprised that the commercials stupify me and rather am quite glad that they do. I should be more unsettled had I suddenly started to prefer one brand over the other.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Things I don't get #1: Wearing wristbands while not competing in athletic endeavors

I attended last night's Tigers game, and I was again dumbfounded by the appearance of the black wristband on the arm of someone who is so clearly not competing in anything resembling athletics. I suppose I would let the egregious wardrobe accesory slide, if the sportsfan were dressed in other Detroit Tigers garb, and simply got confused as to whether he was attending America's pastime or NBA's showtime. However, the fan was simultaneously donning a short-sleeve collared shirt. Not some sort of eurosport soccer,, or rugby collared shirt but the kind one can find in the corner of a women's store that pretends to have a men's department (see: express, the limited, and other stores I am embarrassed to have stepped foot in).

However, it would be unfair to site this young man alone, because as I was watching a little mid-day television today (which, I can firmly say is still as mediocre as it was during sick days in elementary school) I witnessed another man, in a TGI Friday's commercial sporting the same edifice to unathleticism. Not surprisingly, the bleached blond gentleman was pimping the "right portion, right price" corner of the menu (formerly seen at Perkins as the "seniors menu " now somehow being marketed to females and testosterone challenged males). This guy, I can cut a little more slack because I have seen him on some sort of food show (yeah, thats right I see my fair share of mid day television, what of it). That is, he could potentially be in some fire blazing kitchen and mid-running-forehead-drop-of-perspiration ask himself "boy, I wish I had some sort of elastic towel pulled too high on my forehand right now, even if I do look goofier than the guy trying to bring man-capris to the united states" (for the record, please stop euro-boy).

Still, these are not isolated events. I regularly see young gentleman, who almost exclusively (ironically save my first example) are slightly portly and/or (bus usually and) emo rocking the wristband as if it had some sort of slimming/masculine effect. I don't understand the logic. Are they trying to fool anyone into thinking, "Wow, he must have just come from the basketball court where he works out, and is obviously a gifted athlete, but showered, shaved, put on forty pounds, and an Ambercrombie wardrobe, but forgot to remove his dapper wrist garment?" Because if so, I don't think anyone has internal monologues that long and as poorly constructed. Instead, I find myself thinking, "wow, is that guy trying to make an ironic statement like, yeah, I can incorporate one preposterous item into my wardrobe without having the least bit of functional utility too it, that is, unless he is an avid perspirator, and if so, I'll allow it because I can understand the plight of my fellow sweat mongers" (see, I'm not exclusively vengeful).

And yet, I suppose, amidst the sea of other ridiculous garments I see all about me (and I admit, probably sometimes slip into my rotation indiscriminately), I suppose the wristband is not as outrageous as I have made it. I have never, for example, placed anything in the left breast pocket that grazes nearly all of my T-shirts. Speaking of which, have you seen the even smaller one they have started featuring on the short sleeves of women's T-shirts. In case you wanted to ever carry an asprin around all day, you are now in luck (I just hope you don't need to take the recommended bi-tablet dosage, because I am yet to see bi-lateral sleeve pockets). Anything black and multi-zippered (see: is completely functionally useless except for scaring young children (and myself, which I suppose may fulfill its true calling). Still, I digress, there is one thing I still don't get and that is the chubby double wristbanded emo rockers that seem to cross my path.

Monday, April 21, 2008

I'm getting paid to do this? (oh, wait, no I'm not)

I know that somewhere out there in the compiled myth of American life, there exists a belief that medical school is this ridiculously taxing, four-year, miserable experience, that is basically perpetual coffee, studying, cadaver lab, with the occasional alcoholic binge. I am here to debunk this archetypal characterization, if only to show how the other half lives. That is, I know the myth is true for many classes, but on any given day, with a few exceptions, the following is a semi-accurate composite my daily activities.

6:45 a.m. - The alarm sounds. I look around in attempt to figure out how the aliens with their beeping spaceship were somehow transported into my cellphone. After determining that my dream was only a dream and the cellphone will not abduct me, I am even more puzzled as to how I was so ridiculously ambitious the night before to actually expect that I would think that the 6:45 am version of myself would not curse the 1 am self (Note: if anything in me has changed in medical school, it is the newly acquired perpetual belief that I will be more motivated . . . tomorrow)

7:30 am - See 6:45, but replace "aliens" and "spaceship" with "fifth grade gym teacher" and "go kart"

7:39 am, 7:48 am, 7:57 am, 8:06 am (whoever invented the nine minute snooze anyway?), 8:15 am, 8:24 am, et al. - same as above but with "mother/cruise ship," "best friend's sister/washing machine," "sailor/mouth," "orangutan/power wheel," "long lost uncle/Camaro," and "Ken Griffey Jr./robotic baseball bat" respectively

9:30 am - Curse the 6:45 - 8:24 versions of myself for lack of motivation.

9:31 am - Concede that since I am starting the day late, I might as well forgo extreme hard work for lack of time

9:32 am - Prepare a delicious batch of whole wheat pancakes

9:35 am - wave dishtowel over smoke detector to keep vaporized form former batch of whole wheat pancakes from evacuating the building

9:36 am - Consume burnt pancake looking substance lathered in excessive syrup

10:03 am - read the New York times online virtually cover to cover

11:30 am - adjust fantasy baseball roster

11:48 am - Repeat 10:03 am with the Detroit Free Press and subsequently, Detroit News

12:30 pm - Mentally prepare to begin studying

12:45 pm - Begin studying

12:46 pm - Begin preparing lunch

1:15 pm - Consume a meticulously prepared and non-burnt peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

1:16 pm - Revel in nostalgia

1:30 pm - Find out the Detroit Tigers are playing a day game and concede the rest of the afternoon from studying

4:01 pm - Curse the Tigers for losing, sucking, and wasting my afternoon

4:15 pm - Work off aggression in the weight room

4:30 pm - The "Dog Lady" walks through weight room (which also serves as a gateway to our patio) and wonders what profession I am involved with when I seem to be home at all hours of the day. Transpose the last half of that sentence to "I wonder what profession she is . . ."

4:35 pm - Rehydrate

4:40 pm - Make more awkward small talk with the dog lady consisting of any combination of the following topics:
-The weather
-Her dogs and their penchant for urinating on my leg in excitement
-Tomorrow's weather
-Her dogs penchant for jumping on my chest in excitement
-Yesterday's weather
-Her dogs affinity for weather

4:45 pm - Take a run

4:46 pm - Wonder why people would ever run for exercise?

5:15 pm - Ring out my T-shirt

5:16 pm - Shower, shave, etc, begin to start my day

5:45 pm - Consider dinner options

6:00 pm - Concede studying for the day because the workday should be over now. Wonder where the day goes and promise to devote myself to studying tomorrow.

As Verizon/Cingular/ATT/T-mobile have taught us, evenings and weekends are a whole different animals.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Now if only they could invent a wireless way to . . .

I want to find the first person who attached a key to a block of wood, and use said wood block to pound some sense into them. I spent half a week in downtown Washington, DC coffee shops attempting to function as a medical student (i.e. watching lectures online, etc., looking at pictures of slides of e.g. the cerebrum, et al.). Overall, the plan worked pretty well except for one caveat.

In order to sit at a small wooden table with rickety legs and extremely loud forty-year-old women nearby for hours on end, one must first satiate the proprietors capitalist thirst. So, I would order a coffee the moment I stepped into the shop, and then proceed to get down to business at a nearby table (the aforementioned one with the rickety leg and loud mothers of two). However, as soon as the caffeine infused hydration coursed through my body, it wanted to leave. I am not sure if one has ever attempted to use the facility at a coffee bar, but it is just about impossible.

That is, one must first consider what to with the ridiculous sum of monetary equivalents sitting at your table. If you see a trustworthy gent or femme, you may ask them to watch your stuff, but they may just as easily ask the dealer at the pawnshop "how much is this worth." The next step is to muster the courage to approach the barista (with full knowledge that at some point in that person's career they actually filled out an application for the job title "barista." I have nothing against coffee schleppers, I just am amazed that they knew full well that when explaining what they did, they might use the term "barista"). Anyways, you must then try and convince them that you in fact did make a purchase three hours ago and it is in fact that purchase they put you in this predicament in the first place. Of course, finally, the begrudging barista (and I don't even smirk at his job title, because he clearly carries the authority . . . or in this case the wooden block), hands me what appears to be a key, of course I cannot see because it is attached to not only a piece of wood, but some sort of gift bag tied with twine as well.

Finally, after coursing through the entire coffee establishment with said flag with the phrase "my bladder=peanut" emblazoned on the wood block. Finally, I make it into the four foot by four foot box that should be outside in a seperate building of a Clark station somewhere. Yet the bathroom is invariably clean because it has not been used in thirty years. Yet things get tricky here, I mean, not that part, but what to do with the key. The last place had a hook on the back of the door for a key, which was convenient. However, next to the hook was a sign reading "please do not return key to barista." At which point you are confronted with not only the job title, but the question of, well then do I just leave the key here? And so, that is what I did. You lock the key in the bathroom. Assumedly, this is what they want you to do. However, it raises the question, what is to keep them from accidentally giving another key to someone else. And that said, do they really sterilize the wood block and gift bag before placing it behind the bar again? Anyways, the thing one does for "free" wireless.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Whole Foods in the D

Today was the grand opening of Zacaro's market in downtown Detroit. Basically, a mini-Whole Foods opened up to make it one of the few grocery stores in Detroit. It is now the only grocery store within walking distance of my residence and I probably will never walk there again. I walked in, checked the prices and was immediately transported to the grocery store the Miller High Life guy removes his beer from. In the commercial the guy complains about a four-dollar can of tuna, Zacaro's price: $3.50. A $4 gallon of milk may have been the most reasonably priced item. I was craving for some jelly, instead of the $12-jar organic brew, I splurged on a $6 jar that apparently came from France. Really, I just wanted a place where I could buy some milk, bread, eggs, and flour in a pinch. Instead, I found a place that will pinch my wallet every time I need some milk, bread, eggs, and flour.

I really am not too concerned about the prices. I am more concerned that another business venture will fail. I'd like to be in the strategic meeting when they decided to start this store.
Smart Business Man #1 "Here's an idea, lets make an urban-chic grocery store with ridiculous prices and extremely cutesy crap."
Businessman #2 "I know a great location for just the thing. Let's but in the midst of immense urban blight where the people are fleeing the city faster than New Orleans after Katrina."
SBM#1 "Wait, is there a high homeless population and abandoned buildings right next door?"
#2 "Oh definitely."
#1 "We must build there then. People will never see it coming and flock in droves."

And thus, Zacaro's was born. Honestly, for the size of the store, I guess they have to mark things up. And the real draw is the coffee shop/bakery/deli and such. That may do well with the business crowd that works nearby. I hope it succeeds, I just can't patronize it for my bread, flour, fruit, milk, and/or egg needs. I guess its back to Detroit's finest Spartan Store "Food Pride" complete with old men sitting out front in lawn cheers all-day to whistle at the women . . . or white-boys.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Bad Movies and Fried Brains

I currently have "Failure to Launch" on in the background of my studying (read: I have neuroanatomy notes sitting on my lab). For some unknown reason, my roommate put it on his queue for blockbuster online and it came in the mail yesterday. The sad part about all of this is that I am mildly enjoying the movie. I suppose most of this can be attributed to the fact that my brain is fried from the exam I took this morning and the knowledge I have another in two days. Still, I am not sure if it's Mathew McCconaughey's rugged charm, Sarah Jessica Parker's weird quasi-attractive quasi-completely repulsive looks, or Kathy Bates, but the movie is mildly enjoyable. I just finished berating my roommate about the movie being on his list, but I had to kind of give him the benefit of the doubt because it arrived along with Casino, one of the penultimate man movies of all time. Perhaps only The Godfather or Scarface could have pushed the balance more to the man side. Seriously though, couldn't they have named the movie something other than "Failure to Launch" so I could retain some manhood? I'm still blaming it on my fried brain, but about 70% through the movie, I'd say it was a mildly pleasurable watch. Not so much so, however, that I did not decide to write a blog post mid-movie. Adieu.

(Note: at this point, the reconciliation phase has begun, and the movie has coincidentally began sucking)

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Monosylabic Hypothesis (Less is More)

I left class today, my head spinning from my nueroanatomy course, and I had an epiphany. I was exhausted, not from the amount of information being thrown at me, or the monotonous nature of reviewing the same slides of brain and spinal cord tissue, nor from the confounding nature of deep conceptual quandaries. Instead, I had the phrase bilateral homonymous hemianopsia bouncing around my head without about fifteen other words, which I know exactly what they mean, but have no idea why they are in existence.

I would go so far as to consider myself a defender of jargon. As a reader may have noticed, I favor a sort of discursive rambling at times. However, I feel like the only time a longer word is better, is if it adds something that a shorter word cannot. Take the term "bilateral homonymous hemianopsia," I think you can estimate that the phrase has about twenty-five syllables, when all that needs to be said is "both eyes have the same blind half." Clearly less syllables and far less jargon. However, I suppose it accomplishes the purpose of giving the doctor a sort of superior feeling and they don't have to deal with the cumbersome task of creating a phrase. I suppose my main issue is when do those terms stop being useful for consistency and brevity and begin functioning as self satisfying intellectual positing. However, what should I expect from a peer group who already signs there correspondences "MD candidate."

Note: The simple fact that I have a blog and write far to frequently clearly places me in the company of my pretentious peers.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Feature Not Currently Available (another rant on my microwave)

I was attempting to heat an ingredient up to room temperature today (don't ask why), and I decided to use my "power level" feature on my microwave to turn down the intensity. So, I pressed the cook power button and was greeted in iridescent green letters with the message: "Power . . .Level . . .Feature . . .May . . Not . . . Be. . .Changed. . . At. . . This . . .Time." Excuse me? I'm sorry, I don't speak monophrasic complete sentence computer speak. I thought the most complex message my microwave could alert me to was flashing 12:00 to let me know the power went out while I slept. Instead, the contraption is somehow able to inform me that I am trying to use an option at an inopportune time. Do you mean to tell me it was easier to program my microwave to speak to me in complete sentences, than to let me change the power setting before I picked the time? Couldn't the thing just have given me three harsh beeps or something? I should have known I was in trouble when the thing told me to turn my food over mid-defrost.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Wrong Word Syndrome

I was talking to my friend on the phone the other day, and he proceeded to explain to me that his friend was using a foil to hide his true feelings. I inquired of him, what does using a foil mean? He then quizzically asked me, isn't that a literary term? Shouldn't you know that as an English major? In fact, I do know what a foil is, I was simply trying to figure out if how he was using it made any sense. And it doesn't.

I have another friend, who whenever she is feeling sick explains that she is ill-faded. I have never heard that term before, but believe she is confusing it with the phrase "ill fated," which possibly makes even less sense than the initial mangled phrase.

Still, I overhear conversations and hear people just butcher words, replacing words that sound similar for unknown reasons. For example, consider the following exchange:
"Man, you should have been there last night."
"Really, was it that good?"
"Yeah, I mean the party was awesome, it was incredulous."

Here, the user is clearly meaning to use the term to be incredible. And that is a completely legitimate use. According to Merriam-Webster (the dictionary for people who like first names), incredible is the second definition for incredulous. Yet, I'm guessing the speaker was trying to use it as "extraordinary" or "amazing" not simply something that he did not believe, as incredulous is traditionally used. I suppose, the fact that incredible can mean "extraordinary" or "amazing" gives credence to the fact that the meanings of words change, but in context, the sentence just sounds goofy. I always imagine a precocious fifth grader trying to drop in a new vocab word just to see what happens. What happens is that people listening absorb the word, and copy its usage in new conversations. My friend with the "foil" usage later confided that he heard the word used earlier in the week tried to guess its meaning, and implement it accordingly.

The ironic thing is, I'm guessing this is how we have acquired language since we were young. You heard a word, guessed its usage, and tried it out to get peoples reactions. This is also why the meaning of words consistently change. Maybe its old school, but words used in awkward ways still grate on my ears. I feel as if I hear these misplaced words dropped all the time (and admittedly, I'm more than sure I do it myself), but in writing this, I can hardly think of any examples. Maybe its just a defense mechanism of my mind to keep myself from exclaiming that when something terrible happens, it was "terrigenous."

Friday, April 4, 2008

Radio Nowhere

I was driving home from class today,* and I noticed that I still had the radio off. That is, I haven't turned the radio on in my car for about a week now. Since I don't drive anywhere that often, the feat may not be that impressive, but I have noticed an increased amount of thoughts that occur while driving**.

Today, I began thinking about how it was nice to have a little silence occasionally. I have always wondered why so many people are incessantly wearing iPod headphones. I can understand it a bit more in people traveling long distances on subways, trains, planes, etc. But I want to a small liberal arts university where the longest distance between two buildings was roughly equivalent to the distance between your thumb and forefinger. I am not sure you can even listen to a full song in that time***. Unless of course, they are listening to the Ramones, in which case their attention span is less than the iPod generation. And of course, since the Ramones haven't made a song in the last five years, it is not on anyones iPod#.

Seriously, I would literally see people put in earphones, follow them for twenty, thirty yards and then watch them remove the earphones at their next destination. An hour later, they would do the same thing. It was as if some neural pathway required auditory input for their legs to move. I promise, if you try hard, you can walk without listening to the first twenty seconds of fifteen songs by the Fray.

However, there is a time and place for music. For example, I have recently evolved via internet radio from random stations, to yahoo's launchast, to the pinnacle of online radion, Pandora##. The amazing thing about Pandora, is I can pick a song, any song, and while they won't play that song, they'll play something roughly equivalent which both satisfies my jonesing and introduces me to a new musical arena. The iPod generation may have difficulty with this because they limit your skips to five an hour (so within the first two-minutes, most will likely have exhausted their quota).

Anyways, all that to say, it's nice to hear myself think for a change (in brief doses), and also nice to give my brain something else pleasant to listen to when trying to learn about the corpora quadrigemina and/or using ubiquitous footnotes.

*Notice first the fact that I went to class, and second the fact that I drove the mile to class instead of walking. Also notice, that I am making a concerted effort to reduce the number of parentheticals in my writing (yeah, that's going to work) and implementing footnotes instead (which, as you can see may be more inefficient).

**Which may be coincidental with the increased number of blog posts recently.

***Not that it matters because people with iPods for 10 feet likely are the kind of people who can't listen to full songs, and incessantly skip to the next best song. I would love to go with these people to a concert because a) the last two minutes of every song would be new to them and b) I bet you can visually see them get uncomfortable after the thirty second mark of each song (this is when they travel to the concession stand and buy $20 nachos that look delicious and completely detract from the concert experience.

#If I were a music mogul, I would clearly sue apple. They may be the biggest beneficiary of the napster generation. However, didn't apple (I don't think its the same) produce the Beatles' albums, one of the landmark moments in musical history. Coincidence, I think not.

## If you don't listen to radion at, for your own sake, please don't start. It's incredible, I am completely undermining the sanctity of silence by even bringing up the subject.