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A decade ago Wed, Sep 26, 2012
I've reached that age where important events in my life happened a non-trivial amount of time ago.  I used to be able to say, "A decade ago, I was young and stupid and still growing into my skin."  Now I have to say, "A decade ago, I was ... holy crap I was in college."  I've been a legal adult for over a decade now.

Skydiving 2 (1) Mon, Sep 24, 2012
I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane the other day, thus completing my second skydiving experience.  I was "strapped to a man, strapped to a parachute," as they put it.  The plane was a Cessna 205 or 206, which is a six-seater plane with a lawnmower engine, but in this case there was only one seat for the pilot.  Everything else was stripped out, which made it interesting to see how frighteningly primitive it is to coax a large object to fly.  A "funny" pre-flight comment by one of the instructors was that we needed to keep the majority of our body weight in line with the wings, because apparently otherwise this thing would fall out of the sky.

Wendy volunteered to jump first, so I sat and watched as she and her instructor inched toward the open door of the rickety metal box 10,000 feet in the air.  The plane itself was pretty loud, but the open door made it almost deafening.  My instructor and I inched toward the door, and he started positioning himself to jump.  What might not be obvious is that it's surprisingly difficult to (a) be physically attached to another fully-grown human, (b) maneuver on your knees while physically attached to another fully-grown human, and (c) maneuver on your knees in a rickety metal box 10,000 feet in the air while physically attached to another fully-grown human.  For some reason this part often gets overlooked, and I can't stress enough how improperly the joints in ankles and knees are designed to accommodate this task.

The doorway of the plane had a metal lip along the bottom.  As my instructor started leaning out of the plane (with me attached), "we" utilized this metal lip to grind my outer right ankle bone and forcibly remove my shoe.  Things get a little hazy at this point, what with the wind and the noise and the achievement of terminal velocity, but I remember tumbling through the sky and thinking, "Crap, I just lost a shoe."  I figured it would hit me in the face in a few seconds, or land on somebody's house, leading to one lucky homeowner's best story of all time.  I temporarily put that thought aside so I could enjoy what I would consider the biggest thrill a person can legally experience.  Once my instructor deployed the parachute and things calmed down a bit, I informed him of my predicament, but he wasn't concerned.  People who jump out of planes for a living have slightly different priorities than a regular person.

As we made our final descent toward the landing zone, I spotted Wendy and pointed to my shoeless foot, which she laughed at.  The landing procedure is sort of a gametime decision, so at the last second, my instructor told me to land standing as opposed to sliding on my butt.  This didn't feel great especially while physically attached to another fully-grown human, but it wasn't terrible.  Everyone laughed as they found out I arrived with one less shoe, but no one seemed concerned about the terminal effects of a solid object dropped from a plane.  Sometimes ignorance of physics is a good thing.

As it turns out, my shoe returned to me.  We were signing our release forms and whatnot, and the pilot came over to me and handed me my shoe, which ended up staying in the plane the whole time.  As he put it, "I looked in the back of the plane and saw a shoe and thought, Who the hell left a shoe?"  I did.  But I got it back, along with a nice ankle bruise.

Sports show theme songs Fri, Sep 21, 2012
I hate how every "primetime" sports pre-game show has a theme song.  Monday Night Football seems to have been the first, with their recently-fired Hank Williams.  But then NBC got in the game with Faith Hill, and NFL Network has Cee Lo Green.  Every time that Faith Hill song comes on, I want to murder a puppy.

Facebook commentary Wed, Sep 19, 2012
Now that I'm back on Facebook, I have a few comments to make: 
  1. I don't respect people with joint Facebook accounts, like MikeandJen Jones or whatever.  Not only does it go against how Facebook operates, but on a philosophical note, it kind of demonstrates a lack of individual identity.  It makes it seem that two people think of themselves as a joint person, and not in a romantic kind of "inseparable" way.
  2. I think it's dumb when people use a picture of their kid or their pet as their profile picture.  The whole idea of a profile picture is to show a picture of yourself.  Post your kid pictures on your wall or as your cover photo.  Your profile picture sort of represents who you are, so using a picture of your kid says that you see yourself primarily as parent, and after that as an individual.
  3. There's a "Like" button, but I think there should also be a "Dislike" button, so you can easily express your dissatisfaction with something.  However, I think it's interesting that Facebook made it easy to express a positive emotion and not a negative one, which seems to imply that fostering community is more about positive things than negative.
  4. I think there should also be a "Love" button, because sometimes you really really like something.  But every time I say "love button" out loud, it sounds awkwardly sexual.
  5. Liking a page subscribes you to that page's updates and posts.  Checking in at a location doesn't have the same effect.  It seems like that would be a logical thing.  I could be wrong.
Obviously I'm an expert.

Amazon Prime success story (1) Mon, Sep 17, 2012
I accepted Amazon's offer for a one-month free trial of Prime, and I recently had an experience that will probably make me pay to continue the service.  I ordered a small electrical connector on a Thursday at around 6pm, and hoped to get it (with free 2-day shipping) by Saturday at the latest so I could bring it on vacation with me.  It turns out it arrived on my doorstep sometime on Friday afternoon, probably around 3pm.  I checked the label on the package and it said it shipped from Kentucky.  That means an order was placed electronically, processed, picked from a warehouse, packaged, shipped from Kentucky to New Jersey, all in less than 24 hours.  Oh, and it shipped for free (assuming I paid for a membership).

NFL team name categories (7) Mon, Sep 17, 2012
I noticed recently that NFL team names can be grouped into one of five categories: 
  1. Birds:  Cardinals, Eagles, Falcons, Ravens, Seahawks
  2. Cats:  Bengals, Jaguars, Lions, Panthers
  3. Large Mammals:  Bears, Broncos, Colts, Dolphins, Rams
  4. People Group, Historical Figure, or Occupation:  49ers, Bills, Buccaneers, Chargers, Chiefs, Cowboys, Packers, Patriots, Raiders, Redskins, Saints, Steelers, Titans, Vikings
  5. Other:  Browns, Giants, Jets, Texans
Yes, I realize it's a stretch to call a dolphin a large mammal, but it's technically accurate.  And a Charger is someone who charges into battle.  Stupidest team name:  Browns, named after one-time owner Paul Brown.  That's the best they could come up with? #sports

Back on Facebook Wed, Sep 05, 2012
It's been about three years since I closed my Facebook account, but I recently just "re-enlisted."  I was looking for a better way to post and share pictures online, and Facebook is one service that does that really well.  It turns out it does a bunch of other things well, which was unexpected. 

I was reluctant to use Facebook for a long time because I dreaded being contacted by old high school acquaintances and random friends of friends who like to ask questions such as, "What have you been up to?" and "Remember that time in high school...?"  The whole idea of starting relationships with people I don't already have relationships with really held no appeal for me. 

But what I realized is that it's pretty easy to simply only be Facebook friends with people I already know and communicate with in real life.  And by being Facebook friends as well as actual friends, I'm able to keep up to date with all their little weekend trips and hobbies and whatnot. 

I thought that aspect would be overwhelming, and it probably would be if I didn't have a fairly strict yet simple criteria for accepting friend requests:  With few exceptions, if we haven't physically hung out together in the past year, we're probably not friends.  And thankfully it's easy to remove or simply ignore people who say a lot of annoying things or post pictures of their hamsters.

To be honest, the first week or so was a little overwhelming, with people contacting me and pointing out how I finally ended my reign as one of the last Facebook holdouts.  It definitely helped that I was recently at a wedding, so I had seen and spoken to people I was attempting to electronically befriend.  This made things a lot less awkward.  After I got used to the interface and learned my way around, it became almost second nature.