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Ignore your phone Mon, Mar 31, 2008
I have a huge amount of respect for a person who can ignore a phone call.  Whether it's at work while we're having a conversation, at home during dinner, or just driving in the car, a person who ignores a call shows that they think the actual is more important than the potential.  Sure, there are times when "you really need to take this call", but that's why God created voicemail.  Haven't we as a civilization reached the point where people follow the three basic rules of phone usage: 
  1. If it's important, leave a message.
  2. If it's really important, call back in 10 minutes.
  3. If it's really, really important, stop calling.  You've obviously overestimated your importance.
#technology

Online newspaper comments Mon, Mar 31, 2008
A few online versions of popular newspapers allow users to comment on individual articles.  It's a way to engage the reader and make people feel like their voice is heard.  But in reality, it's a way for average Joe to leave unintelligent, unthoughtful, usually racist comments.  It's a good idea in theory, and I don't know a better way to do it.  But for whatever reason, it seems like the caliber of comments on these websites is a bit sub-par. #technology

Bad shifter Fri, Mar 28, 2008
I've been traveling for work with this guy who drives a mildly powerful little manual VW.  Thankfully the majority of the driving has been on the highway because he's an awful shifter.  He guns the engine so the back of my head hits the headrest, then my head flies forward as he shifts.  I'm sure he's just showcasing the power of his car, but to me, it just seems like he's a bad shifter. #travel

Outback song Fri, Mar 28, 2008
Outback Steakhouse is undoubtedly pretty macho.  Not only do they serve tons of seared animal flesh, but they also go with the whole Australian theme, full of rugged wilderness and outlaws.  So it's a bit puzzling why they chose such a sissy song with such a sissy dude singing it.  "♫ Let's go outback tonight; life will still be there tomorrow."  Sissy. #entertainment

Whose blood is that? Tue, Mar 25, 2008
On the first season of the TV show Lost, there's a flashback that shows the Asian guy coming home to his wife and going immediately into the bathroom to wash blood off his hands and shirt.  His wife asks the best question any human being could ever ask another human being:  "Whose blood is that?"  How awesome is that Asian guy that his wife automatically assumes the blood on his hands and shirt doesn't belong to him?  One day, I hope to be asked the same question. #entertainment

Ventriloquist on the radio (2) Tue, Mar 25, 2008
I was listening to a radio talk show last week where the guest was a ventriloquist and his dummy.  First of all, I don't think ventriloquists are funny in any conceivable manner, and they hold the same place in my heart as clowns:  weird and oddly frightening.  Second, I realized several days after hearing the show just how stupid it was to have a ventriloquist on the radio.  I could sort of tell the difference between the guy and his dummy, but still, something was lost in the translation from audio/visual to just audio. #entertainment

FM transmitter audio quality Mon, Mar 24, 2008
I might've taken my eBay obsession a little too far.  Lately, I've been finding all kinds of cheap stuff on eBay, most of it made and sold by the nation of China.  It's a bunch of knock-offs, but most of it is good enough quality at a low enough price to be attractive.  I got a few lenses for my camera.  Then I got a lens cap.  Before that, I got a few accessories for my cell phone.  Nothing to write home about, but it was fun finding good deals on cheap little gadgets. 

But I found the limit, the line after which cheap eBay products are no longer acceptable.  In this case it was audio equipment, and specifically an FM transmitter for using an mp3 player with a car stereo.  I bought a cheap, cigarette lighter-powered transmitter and got it last week.  I plugged it into my car's cigarette lighter and it powered up, so things were going well.  But as soon as I plugged the audio cable into my mp3 player, there was a god-awful noise loudly flowing through my car speakers.  I wiggled the plug around a little bit and eventually got the noise to stop, but the audio quality coming out of my radio was pitiful.  I briefly imagined I would just have to deal with it as yet another hindrance in the whole audio portability problem

I went to a store and happened to see a similar FM transmitter for a similar price, but this one was made by Philips.  I decided to give it a try, wondering if a brand name audio device would have any superiority over a cheap Chinese knock-off. 

It turns out there's more than a slight difference.  The difference in audio quality is unimaginable.  The quality of sound coming out of my car's stereo is equal to CD quality audio.  And this is with an mp3 player, with songs encoded at 128 kbit/s.  There isn't even a comparison.  The "thing" I bought off eBay isn't in the same league.  It barely even qualifies as an FM transmitter in my opinion. 

So, in conclusion, eBay isn't the best place to buy everything, especially in terms of the third definition of fidelity:  "The degree to which an electronic system accurately reproduces the sound or image of its input signal." #products

Don't buy me dinner (7) Mon, Mar 24, 2008
Wendy and I went out to dinner with another couple on Friday, and when the bill came, the other guy took it.  He said, "I got it."  I gave him the "why are we even doing this?" face and said, "Let's split it."  He refused.  I insisted.  He refused again.  I conceded.  Insisting again would've been taking things too far, so I let him win his little game.  I couldn't understand why he didn't at least want to split the bill.  If anything, we should've paid for them.  They're poor.  They're saving for a wedding.  They're really not in a position to be buying people meals, even if it was at a cheap pizza place.  But what really gets me is that, without question, the next time we go out, our side of the table will absolutely be obligated to pay.  And more than likely, we'll go to some expensive Italian place, order seven bottles of imported wine and dine on the finest of seafood and filet mignon, and during the whole meal, I'll be hating everything you do and say, knowing I'll have to pay for the calories that enable you to exist in the first place. 

Bottom line:  Don't buy me dinner unless it's completely clear that I owe you nothing.  I hate feeling obligated. #money

Mass text messages Mon, Mar 24, 2008
A great way to get people to ignore you and form a growing dislike for everything you do is to send mass text messages, especially during major holidays.  I got a mass text message this weekend wishing me a Happy Easter.  That's nice.  Or, rather, it would have been nice if the sender had spent even a fraction of a second thinking about who the message was being sent to and why the message was being sent in the first place.  But, more likely than not, the sender has a "send crap to these people" mailing list in their phone so they can send unthoughtful, meaningless messages to as many people as possible, giving the impression they truly care about each and every recipient. 

To be fair, I've received a few good mass text messages, including an engagement announcement and a few other things.  But that's the exception, not the rule. 

I guess what annoys me most about this practice is that it didn't even exist a few years ago.  Before text messaging, it's not like people sent emails or made phone calls about this type of thing.  But like any new technology, as soon as it got in the hands of the common man, its usefulness dropped off exponentially.  Remember when email was useful?  When you could send a message to a friend and have a legitimate conversation, unhindered by forwards and spam and advertisements?  Like email, text messaging is starting to become less and less useful. #technology

Capybara during lent (7) Fri, Mar 21, 2008
I don't really know what lent is because it's a Catholic tradition and I'm a Christian.  But it sounds like it's a time when you stop doing something you don't normally do anyway for the purpose of adhering to a dead, meaningless tradition.  That's what I've gathered from the many Catholics I've talked to. 

One of the other fun things about lent is not eating meat on Fridays and instead eating fish, which is the farthest thing from a meat before you start getting into the tofus and eggplant-based food products.  In the 16th century, Europeans exploring Central and South America submitted a petition to the Catholic Church to classify the capybara as a fish since it spent much of its time in the water.  Capybaras are the world's largest rodent, weighing in at over 100 lbs, and their meat resembles that of chicken and pork.  The Catholic Church, in their infinite God-absent wisdom, obliged the request, and the practice of eating capybara during lent continues to this day

For the record, I believe the Bible and have faith in God, but my God would never allow a rodent to be called a fish.  Never! #religion

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