Archive for May, 2011

Here’s the deal.  For those of you who were eagerly awaiting my new 39 day update, I apologize for being two days late.  For those of you who were unaware that it was time for a new 39 day update (i.e. all of you), welcome to my new 39 day update.

Image representing Bill Gates as depicted in C...

Image via CrunchBase

Let us begin with my attack on spam.  Per this article, in 2004, Bill Gates announced that “two years from now, Spam will be solved.”  In the meantime, it grew by leaps and bounds.  In April of 2011, Makya McBee declared, “How will I outwit these clever hackers…my job is already done.”  And, this past week, spamming was reduced by nearly 80%!  I’m not entirely sure how, but clearly I’ve done a great service for humankind here.  Anything else I can do for you, Mr. Gates?

In the past month, there’s been a lot of news on the Mountain Dew front.  Mere weeks after I mocked the soda for introducing an absurd number of new flavors, they responded by…introducing yet another new flavor.  I kid you not.  Meet Mountain Dew Coolatta.  And if that wasn’t disrespectful enough, the very ad campaign I confronted went on to win the Grand Prix top advertising prize of something or other (details are here).  It seems this caffeinated juggernaut is unstoppable.

Not even a rather unappetizing lawsuit can stand in their way.  This story reports that a man claims to have found a dead mouse in his can of Mountain Dew.  The company refuted this claim when they “examined the mouse’s remains [and concluded that it] would have dissolved in the soda if it had been in the can as long as the plaintiff claimed.”  Let me get this straight…their argument is…there couldn’t have been a deceased rodent in your cola, because when we drop dead mice in our sodas their bodies dissolve completely.   Mmmmm, yummy defense.

In terms of my battle vs. Steve Martini there are no updates.  However, as Horton Hears a Who aired last night, I noticed that it was directed by…Steve Martino!  Egad!  Is there no stop to the number of people who will add a vowel to the end of Steve Martin’s name to cash in?  Trust me people, if the next big pop star is Steve Martinu the conspiracy will be complete.  Be wary, my friends.  Be wary.

Cover of

Cover via Amazon

On the eleventh of this month, I posted an insightful piece on the dangers of text message abbreviations.  I wrote, “How will I stop pre-teens everywhere from shortening our words until there’s nothing left?  I fear it may be too late,” this fear was validated when I read here that “LOL” and “OMG” have now been added to the OED.  I further decided to “attack this problem from a different angle… to create a program that converts text message abbreviations into normal English.”  Well, just this past week, a company took my advice and “Veeno” was announced – this software translates English into Indian, with a subprogram that specifically interprets text message abbreviations.  Now, when you text customer support for assistance, you can feel free to abbreviate to your heart’s content. 

How about my brave admission that I don’t care for popcorn?  Well, just two days ago, Mitt Romney was giving a speech to supporters in Des Moines (full story here) when the event was cut short due to a fire alarm…set off by a burning bag of microwave popcorn.  Regardless of your political affiliation, I think we can all agree that movie concession snacks cannot be allowed to disrupt our democracy.  What’s next – Lemon Heads of state?  Sno-Caps and Trade?  Junior Mints running for Junior senator?  Gives a whole new meaning to that familiar song – “Let’s all go to the lobby…and lobby and lobby and lobby…”

When it comes to people not knowing what irony is – I could do a new blog each week.  A quick search reviewed multiple examples from just the past few days.  The USA Today reports that the upcoming NBA finals are ironic for the Miami Heat “in that Dallas was the site for perhaps this season’s most challenging moment.”  Yes, how ironic that they should play against one of the toughest teams in the finals…NO!  Not ironic!  The opposite of ironic!  Exactly what should be expected!    

A recent book review notes that, “It’s both ironic and gratifying that ‘Sixkill,’ the final Spenser novel completed by the late Robert B. Parker, is the best one he’d written in a very long time.”  Ironic how?  You wouldn’t expect an author’s final work to be one of his best because…?  These things are so far from being ironic that I often can’t even guess at how someone could mistakenly find them ironic.

Then, there’s the shopping carts.  As reported here, Rancho Cucamonga has just enacted a new law that will fine stores when their shopping carts are found abandoned in public streets.  Sure.  That makes sense.  We should also fine bank branches when their stolen money is found in other people’s wallets. 

In a seemingly related story, apparently 71% of online shoppers abandon their carts when they learn of the high shipping charges when finalizing their orders.  It’s a crying shame.  People can’t even be trusted to return their virtual shopping carts.

Now, for the big picture stuff.  When I started my blog, I had 560 Google hits.  As of my first 39 day update, I was up to just over 3,000.  I checked today and “Makya McBee” returned 6,160 results.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is Patton Oswalt started at 839,500 Google results, and today he’s up to 2,300,000.  Perhaps I have underestimated my opponent.  It’s almost as if a best-selling author, nationally touring standup comic, successful television actor and world famous movie star is doing a better job of promoting himself than a freelance copywriter with a rarely-viewed blog.  Who would have figured? 

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

(For those of you keeping track, “nostril parade” had 31 Google results when I posted my first entry.  Today it has 60 results…granted, mostly due to the fact that I keep mentioning it).

Finally, it’s time to remind everyone of a few things – (1) If you have not yet clicked over and voted for this as the best humor blog…why not?  If you feel the need to first read every single humor blog on the internet before you can fairly make this assertion, please, don’t go to all the trouble.  Just trust me, this one’s the best.  So please head over and vote now.  (2) Similarly, I still need help spreading the word that this blog exists.  My traffic has dropped by over fifty percent in the last couple of weeks and I can’t figure out why.  What’s up with that?  Send emails to everyone you know – we can’t change the world if the world doesn’t know we’re over here trying to change it.  To those of you who keep reading, I appreciate your support.  (3) In order to keep up my weekly reader suggested post, I’ll soon be needing more reader’s suggestions.  So, if there’s anything you’d like me to take on in the future, please leave it in the comment section.

That’s it for the update.  Thanks for reading.   Thanks for your comments.  And, of course, nostril parade.

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Here’s the deal.  Do I find it annoying when people ask themselves questions out loud?  Yes.  Is it a ridiculous way of communicating?  Absolutely.  Do I desperately wish they’d just speak in sentences that end in a period, like the rest of us?  You bet.

Have you ever met one of these asked and answered folks?  They’re something else.

Their incessant self-directed queries render your presence meaningless.  Clearly, they have no trouble carrying on a conversation all by themselves.

“Did I make a mistake?  Probably.  Would I do it again?  No.  Do I have all the answers?  Of course not.  Do I think I’m moving in the right direction?  I really do.  Am I glad you’re here to talk this through with me?  Yes.”

Do I wish you’d stop asking yourself questions?  YES.

Toenails

Image via Wikipedia

Some thoughts are meant to stay in your head.  Like your actual opinion of your mother-in-law’s famous tuna casserole, your idea for a toe nail clippings sculpture of Wayne Newton and any and all questions about your own thoughts or behavior that could easily be converted into declarative statements.

So, how am I going to do it?   I don’t know.  How will I stop people from asking themselves questions?  Not sure.  Can anyone really stop once they’ve started communicating this way?  Apparently not.  Do I wish I’d never written this?  A little bit.  Am I thinking that I’ve become that which I mock?  All signs point to yes.  Is this joke starting to annoy me, even as I write it?  Asked and answered.

Vs. Buffering

Posted: May 25, 2011 in Internet
Tags: , , ,

Here’s the deal.  Many thanks to Crystal who, after endlessly suffering from buffering, suggested this reader of the week topic.  And a swell topic it is.  Because we’ve all experienced it.  We’re trying to watch some video online and up pops that familiar, white windmill…circling around endlessly…mocking us…staring right at us and innocently chirping, “Oh, were you waiting for me?  Gimme a second, I just need to make a few thousand more revolutions, here.”

Meanwhile, we’re only three and a half seconds into our youtube cute cat video.  That crazy kitty crawled into a boot!  Cats don’t belong in shoes!  That’s adorable!  And I want to know what happens next!

Hang In There, Baby!

Image by Salim Virji via Flickr

Here’s the problem – nobody knows what buffering is.  Our top scientists have been studying it for years, but it remains as elusive as….check that, turns out it’s a region of memory used to temporarily hold data while it’s being moved from one place to another.  But what does that even mean?  And since when did a region of memory look like a tiny, infinite series of circular dominoes?

Stop stopping my entertainment, you menacing region of memory!  If I wanted a frozen image of a feline, I’d buy a poster…probably that cute one that says, “Hang in there.”  Sure, people make fun of that poster, but darned if it isn’t adorable.  What was I saying?  Oh, yeah, that’s what I’d do if I wanted a still image of a cat – I want moving cats.  More specifically, I want delightful moving cats that do ridiculously cute things, and I want them now.

One site suggested that the buffering issue could be solved by getting rid of all the cookies on my computer…why is it that the root of all my life problems is too many cookies?  It’s not fair.  I like cookies.

So, how am I going to do it?   How will I stop buffering from ruining all of my on-line viewing experiences?  Um, just wait for the video to download completely before playing…actually, that was pretty easy.

Here’s the deal.  I actually love ranking things.  Charts.  Graphs.  Top ten lists.  Brackets.  I can’t get enough of assigning things a percentage, numerical value or letter grade and then comparing them to other similar things.  I don’t know why…but I’d like to create a chart to try and figure it out.

The thing is, I like my rankings to have been given some serious thought.  I like them to be accurate.  And I generally don’t like it when someone is asked to rate themselves on a scale of 1 to 10.  It’s not the idea of this that irks me, it’s that no one is ever honest in their self-evaluation.

If you ask someone how attractive they are, on a scale of 1 to 10, their response is almost always 6, 7, 8 or 9.  Most people would never admit that they think themselves a perfect 10 and almost no one is willing to think of themselves as below average.  But this scale only works if some of us are 3’s and 4’s.  We can’t all be above average.

And it’s not just attractiveness – it works with any valued asset.  Go ahead, ask yourself…on a scale of 1 to 10…How smart are you?  How kind are you?  How honest are you?  I know what you’re thinking, about an 8, right? 

So, how am I going to do it?   How will I make everyone realize that we aren’t all 7’s and up?  Personally, when I want someone to evaluate themselves I ask, “How _______ are you, on a scale of 6 to 9?”  I still get all 7’s and 8’s, but at least there’s no pretense.  I mean, what’s the point of being in the top three if everyone else is as well?  “In this year’s Olympic bobsled, the gold medal goes to Norway and, what the heck, silver and bronze medals for everybody else.”

Wyoming state welcome sign, along Interstate 8...

Image via Wikipedia

 Look, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but most of us are 5’s.  There should also be a lot of 4’s and 6’s.  Average, or a little below or above.  The 1’s and 2’s are incarcerated.  The 9’s and 10’s are running the world.  One thing that can help us deal with this sobering fact is using a larger scale, like 1 to 100.  “I’m a 64,” just sounds better than “I’m a 6.”  How attractive are you, on a scale of 1 to 1,000,000?  I happen to be a 472,891.  Not too shabby.

So think outside the box.  Use bigger numbers.  Or something completely different.  How good a friend are you, on a scale of red to violet?  How athletic are you, on a scale of cucumber to asparagus?  How happy are you, on a scale of Alabama to Wyoming?  At the very least, you’ll make the person give their answer some real thought and the answers are bound to be more interesting.

So, what do you think of this blog entry?  Me?  I give it a seven.

Here’s the deal.  This week’s reader-suggested topic comes from Mr. Roger Waite…and it’s out of respect for his contribution that I am now resisting the strong urge to make a pun with his last name.

And a strong contribution it is – I mean, why do so many people find it so difficult to return their shopping carts?  And, of course, this leads to the larger question – what is wrong with people?

But that’s far too big of an issue to deal with here.  Let’s just stick with the carts.  Surely we’ve all seen it – a grocery store parking lot where half of the spaces are taken by stray carts, where you have to slowly ease your vehicle in, gently pushing the cart aside with your bumper because some inconsiderate shopper couldn’t spare twenty seconds of their life to put something back where they found it.  Are you with me, people?

Standard shopping cart, picture taken at a Weg...

Image via Wikipedia

 They don’t even have to go back to the store, almost every establishment provides convenient cart corrals, mere feet from your car.  And yet so many patrons choose to let their used carts graze the parking lot like free range cattle.  I just don’t understand.  It takes a unique, yet prevalent, form of oblivious conceit to be able to load up your car and then just randomly leave your cart where it sits, thinking to yourself, “Yeah, I think that’s where the cart goes…right there in the middle of the parking lot.  That should be perfectly convenient for the rest of humanity.”

When the cart served your purposes, you were willing to wheel it all about the store and out to your car.  But the moment you no longer need it, you abandon it like a Sherpa at sea level.  How do you think that makes the cart feel?  Used.  Abused.  Neglected. 

So, how am I going to do it?   How will I help selfish shoppers recall where they got the cart from and how to work their legs, in unison, to walk it back from whence it came?  In Europe, you insert a one dollar coin to receive a cart and you get your dollar back when the cart is returned.  So, apparently, the Europeans are no more trustworthy when it comes to cart returning, but they at least have developed a simple solution to the problem.  I’d like to think it wouldn’t come to that.  I’d like to think that we could all behave like responsible adults and not leave our toys out.  I’d also like a six-figure job and a date with Diane Lane…none of that is likely to happen.

I can’t move to Europe (the commute would be unbearable).  I can’t police the parking lots of America by myself (the commute would be unbearable).  And I can’t get to DC to lobby the politicians to deal with this issue (the commute would be…well, you know).

I can’t even berate people when I see them leave their carts haphazardly strewn about.  Because, unlike them, I actually think about how my actions affect others.  My only idea is a giant magnet.  It could be one guy’s job just to sit at the huge magnet and switch it on from time to time to retrieve these carts.  And how about this – you could build mechanical clamps into the shopping cart handles.  And then, if a shopper is about to abandon their empty cart – the clamps lock the shopper to the cart – the magnet turns on  – and the inconsiderate consumer is magnetically driven across the lot to the cart return area.  That way, they could learn where the carts go and then the magnet could be moved on to the next store.  And the magnet guy could also help these disoriented shoppers find their way back to their automobiles…nah, I say we just leave the people where we found them.

Here’s the deal.  If you don’t fully understand what irony is, don’t feel bad.  I’ve tutored kids for many years, and irony is a particularly difficult concept to explain.  So, if you don’t know what it is, it’s okay, just don’t try and use the word. 

It’s remarkable how commonly people say something is ironic when it is clearly not.

Okay, here’s a dictionary definition, “Incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected results.”  Clear?  No.  And the problem is, this doesn’t really capture the true meaning of the word.  I mean, one wouldn’t go to the zoo and expect to see a stand-up comic.  That would be incongruity.  But not irony.  (Plus, if I were that comic, I’d look into getting a new agent).

Clearly, the most well-known case of mistaken irony is Alanis Morisette’s song, Ironic.  In which, she lists multiple unfortunate incidents and then querries, “Isn’t is ironic?”  To which the answer is, strangely, “No.”  Nobody else thinks that finding a fly in your wine is ironic – just sort of gross.  (Plus, if I were that diner, I’d look into getting a new sommelier).

My favorite line from the song is, “It’s like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife.”  Believe me, if I was looking for a knife and found, instead, ten thousand spoons…I wouldn’t be thinking, “Isn’t this ironic?”  No.  I’d be thinking, “Where the hell did all these spoons come from?”

These things aren’t ironic, they’re just unfortunate.  The other common mistake is to call any coincidence or unusual occurrence ironic.  And then, of course, there are those who just randomly call anything ironic.

It happens a lot in sports.  I recently read an article in which the author commented on the irony of one team getting worse as another got better.  Not only is this not irony, it’s not a coincidence or even unusual.  It’s really….nothing. 

Flavor Flav from Public Enemy performing live ...

Image via Wikipedia

 It’s like, oh, look a tree…how ironic.

A quick Google search just returned an article that was “the most ironic news story this week.”  It was about Flavor Flav getting arrested in Las Vegas when he was pulled over and they found he had four warrants out for his arrest.  Remember, irony is the opposite of what you’d expect.  Flavor Flav getting arrested is not the opposite of what you’d expect…it’s exactly what you’d expect. 

Irony can be as simple as a huge bodyguard named Tiny.  Or as complex (and common) as a politician who campaigns furiously against some transgression only to be found guilty of this very same behavior.

But it’s tricky.  It’s not like math.  In math, 2+2 is always going to equal 4.  But when it comes to literary devices, experts can differ.  People disagree over what is and isn’t ironic, only further complicating the issue.  It’s sometimes a thin line between irony and coincidence…and sometimes, as in the examples above, it’s a fairly thick line.

So, how am I going to do it?   How will I stop people from misusing this term?  Fortunately, I have a simple solution.  Those who want to be able to label things as ironic will have to take a course and become certified.  Only those who pass a rigorous training procedure will be able to use this term, only the best of the best, only the CIA (Certified Irony Authorities).

You know what?  Now that I think of it, maybe Alanis was right.  Maybe ten thousand spoons are ironic.  Because, just maybe, she was talking about ten thousand iron spoons – now that would be very irony.

Here’s the deal.  Each time I create a blog entry, I wonder how many people will share in my distaste for the subject matter.  This time, I fear no one will relate.  But I’m going to say it anyway.  I don’t care for popcorn.

My number one problem – the hull.  As a child, when I was ruthlessly peer-pressured into eating this snack at the movie theater, every single time I would get pieces of the hull stuck in my throat.  Then, like a cat with a hairball, I’d choke my way through the last hour of Soul Man.  No food is worth having some plant husk clinging to my uvula.

That’s right, popcorn ruined C. Thomas Howell for me.

Plus, it doesn’t even taste that good.  It’s like Styrofoam packing material…with butter.  Think about it, if popcorn was so great, why do we have to coat it in salt, cover it in butter, drown it in caramel?  It can’t survive on its own.

And, on top of that, I don’t trust popcorn.  You’ve got this small, hard, yellow kernel and you turn your back for one second…and it turns into a lumpy, white, fluffy fellow.  It’s gotten bigger and yet weighs less – is that even scientifically possible?  What is popcorn trying to hide?  What is its agenda?  Why does a container of this mysterious treat that’s worth about nineteen cents cost twelve dollars?

Popcorn

Image via Wikipedia

It litters the floors of movie theaters and stadiums.  It pops incessantly in office microwaves across the country, filling workplaces with its deceptive aroma.  It haunts my dreams.  (Okay, that last one’s not true, but I couldn’t think of a third thing that it does).

And, lastly, it makes me feel like a pariah.  (Oh, I guess that’s the third thing).  Because I’m the only one that doesn’t like it.  Just me.  Not another human being on the planet.  So, explain it to me, people.  What’s so great about taking out a second mortgage to buy a bucket of mini butter sponges that leave hulls clinging to the back of your throat like stranded rock climbers?

So, how am I going to do it?   How will I navigate this maddening maize maze?  I can only try and talk reason.  Come on people, if you want some corn – get it on the cob.  That way you can pretend like you’re an old fashioned typewriter as you eat.  So much fun.  Go crazy, get it creamed.  Or, enjoy your corn in flake form.  Heck, try some ketchup, aluminum, spark plugs, shaving cream, crayons, whiskey or shoe polish…all of which are made (to some degree) with good, old corn.  But I, for one, am saying no to popcorn.  Don’t try and make me consume this overrated snack…I won’t eat it…not a chance in hull.