Thursday, November 26, 2009

Squanto Wanted To Gobble Gobble Gobble Us Up!!!

The story of Tisquantum (better known to most of us as Squanto) is quite well known among the American people. Without his assistance, the Pilgrims would never have survived their first winter in the New World. Squanto's command of the English language proved to be invaluable as he served as a mediator between the Pilgrims and the native tribes in the area. Also, Squanto's knowledge of farming and fishing techniques ensured that the Pilgrims would have plenty of food to survive on and also ushered in the traditional Thanksgiving Day feast as we know it. Indeed, Squanto's intervention proved that colonial expansion in North America was viable and allowed for the future expansion of the human population, which is just what Squanto and his alien brethren wanted.

When Squanto's alien overlords first seeded this planet with a strange variety of hairless primates known as humans, they intended to allow the population to spawn for a few hundred thousand years so that they could come back, do a quick culling and feast upon the soylent green fruits of their labor. The problem was, these pesky humans were prone to population crashes. The Toba catastrophe in 70,000 BC and the Black Death pandemic in the 14th Century showed the aliens that, in order to successfully farm humanity, humans needed to be seeded far across the planet.

Attempts to get the Vikings and the Chinese to take root in North America failed miserably. Europeans would prove to be a more interesting prospect in the 16th Century, though those hopes were dashed when Roanoke colony collapsed. It seemed that humanity would need direct alien intervention, which is something that the alients were reluctant to do after the Mayans stumbled upon their plans to harvest humanity by the end of 2012.

Posing as a Native American human, Squanto passed himself off as part of the Patuxet tribe and allowed himself to be captured by English explorer George Weymouth. This, and a subsequent staged kidnappings by Thomas Hunt lent credibility to Squanto's story. While he was away in England, an alien STD (you probably know it better as SmallPox) infected his adopted tribe (you might say that Squanto liked to "play" with his food) and killed them off, thus lending further credibility to his position.

When he finally returned to North America, Squanto was ready to put his plan into action. He simply gave the English Pilgrims what was then considered to be advanced farming techniques. Using fish as fertilizer was unheard of in Europe, as it was thought that it would have resulted in stinky crops. Squanto's techniques were successful, and, along with diplomacy and a propensity to smite the Pilgims' enemies when nobody was watching proved to the powers of Europe that colonization could be profitable, which inspired more colonial exploits. Once he saw that he had been successful, Squanto faked his own death and returned to his home planet to prepare for the upcoming feast 400 years hence.

What sprung forth from the well that was Plymouth Colony allowed for a population boom. Once the stability of the North American population was well established, Squanto's successors made sure to move the plan to the next level, which involved fattening us up for the harvest. As we head into the year 2010, world population is nearing 7 billion and obesity rates are at unprecedented highs, which is right on course for the yield that the aliens are expecting to have near the end of 2012. The First Thanks Giving was way for the Pilgrims to celebrate a bountiful harvest. Our alien overlords are planning ahead for theirs. They are scheduled to feast on December 21, 2012.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Making A Withdrawl From My Bank Of Bad Habits

I haven't been feeling well these past couple of days. I'm a little burned out and a little under the weather, so I took a much needed day off to relax, rest up and revert back to my gelatinous state for a few hours.

Reaching some semblance of personal equilibrium usually requires that I act out in some form. Normally, I might achieve this by knocking back a six pack of my favorite beer and smoking a cigar. I'm not much for drinking alone or before 5pm, though, so I limited my activities to blasting loud music, playing video games and eating food that is incredibly bad for me.

Years ago, a friend of mine who had a particular affinity for German culture introduced me to something he referred to as "German breakfast". He insisted that we get some french bread, smother it with liverwurst, and top it with Havarti cheese. The bread and cheese sounded fine, but there was no way I was going to eat Liverwurst and I protested vociferously. My friend relented and said we'd get braunschweiger. Sounded fine to me. Braunschweiger is a type of sausage that you can spread like butter. Nowadays, I refer to it as "meat paste".

The so-called "German breakfast" turned out to be really good and I thanked my friend for suggesting it and for allowing me to forgo the liver sausage. There was no way I was going to eat liver. My friend smiled and said "The difference between braunschweiger and liverwurst is that braunschweiger has more liver in it". Even though the after thought was disgusting, I remained committed to the breakfast and I have it whenever I feel a little run down.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My Ongoing Struggle With The Coffee Machine

There's a "Gourmet Coffee" machine in the administration building where I work. The thing acts flakier than HAL 9000 on a mission to Jupiter. Early on, it seduced me with its propensity to distribute cups of frothy French Vanilla goodness for free. I often invented reasons to cruise through the administration in the hopes that free coffee would be awaiting me. It didn't last long, though. Either the vending machine techs figured out what was going on or the coffee machine itself realized that it had me hooked and so the price got jacked up to a buck a cup. And the amount of coffee actually distributed was cut back.

The occasions where I find myself in the administration building are few and far between these days. When I do go there, however, I make a point of stopping at the machine. It's always a zen experience. Some days, I offer my dollar, and it is simply refused. Some days, the dollar is accepted yet the machine acts as if I didn't hand one over. "Dollar? What dollar? You didn't give me a dollar. Look, mister, if you want some coffee, you're going to have to cough up a buck for it". In that case, I'm usually content to see the bogarting of my dollar as a sacrifice to the coffee gods (pagan bastards). Either that, or I'm paying back the negative coffee karma that I accrued from getting all those freebies.

Most of the time, the machine operates within expected parameters. Money is offered, accepted and delicious caffeinated beverage is dispensed. If it's having an off day (maybe somebody kicked it, or the Pepsi machine turned it down for a date the night before) it will flake out on me and just issue a cup without coffee, a coffee without the cup, or even the dreaded hot water only switcheroo. It errors out enough that using it has become a gamble; one I seem all to willing to pursue when the chance arises. Today, I found myself in the administration building to surrender the check I was issued for my recent jury duty to the payroll department. The check included the standard mileage allowance as well, so I was refunded a dollar. One whole dollar. That meant coffee!

I approached the machine with equal measures of trepidation and respect. Would the gourmet coffee machine shine its countenance upon me, or would it swipe my dollar from me yet again? I offered up my dollar and heard the telltale electronic burp of the machine processing the deposit. I nervously pressed my favorite sequence: 1-H-1. The next two seconds seemed like an eternity. SUCCESS! The cup dropped into place and the coffee flowed forth. Sometimes the coffee gods giveth. Sometimes they taketh away. But, today....they brought forth the caffeine.

We'll see what happens next time.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My Daughter Lectures Me On Dinosaurs

My six-year-old daughter watched archival footage of Mister Rogers talking to a paleontologist about dinosaurs. When I asked her to give me a summary of what she had learned, she took the opportunity to pass along what she had learned and ask me a few questions.

"I thought all dinosaurs were big, but some were really small", she said.

"Yes", I responded, "some were even smaller than you and me".

"And some could fly", she offered.

"Yes, we're pretty sure some could fly, but we'll never really know because nobody has ever seen one since dinosaurs aren't around anymore".

"They're extinct", she said confidently.

"Right", I said, smiling.

"Dinosaurs were gone 70 million years ago and people haven't even been around for 1 million years" she said. I had to wonder if she understood the length of time involved or if she was just repeating what she had heard in the video.

"That means that people and dinosaurs were never together because people came a long time after all the dinosaurs were killed".

"How did all the dinosaurs die?", she asked.

"Most people thing a big asteroid fell to the Earth. The dinosaurs that weren't killed when the asteroid hit died soon after because there wasn't much left to eat. No animal bigger than a lap dog survived that", I said.

My daughter thought about that for a minute or two and said matter-of-factly "I don't think I'd want to be a dinosaur on that day".

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Good Eats At The Turkey Testicle Festival

Yesterday afternoon, I attended the area's 17th annual Turkey Testicle Festival which featured cheap beer, live music and deep fried turkey testicles. Yes, folks, turkeys do have testicles. This seemed to be a source of much confusion among the crowd and I heard one young lady exclaim "Yes, turkeys do have testicles. They are mammals!". I shook my head. I'm sure most of you know that turkeys are birds and birds are NOT mammals, and that the testicle is not a gland that's exclusive to mammals. While birds do indeed have testicles, they tend to keep their testicles inside their bodies as opposed to most mammals who let it all hang out.

Anyway, a good time was had by all and the whole event benefited a great charity. Below, you'll find a video of me sampling the fried turkey balls. Thank God it's only once a year.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Expanding My Musical Interests

I often listen to stations I created on Pandora.com while I'm at work. Pandora.com, also known as the Music Genome Project streams music to you based upon songs and/or artists that you are already interested in. Most of the music I have purchased over the last six months, I have found through Pandora.

Recently, I have taken a deeper interest in older R&B music. I created a station that included artists like Sam & Dave, Wilson Pickett, B.B. King, Ray Charles and The Blues Brothers. After rating a number of songs, my station began to stream me myriads of different versions of "In The Midnight Hour" and "Mustang Sally". Time to add more variety to the station.

I don't know how services like Pandora manage to stay in business. They are currently being charged a royalty rate that's higher than any other form of radio. Sure, they make some coin via ads, premium subscriptions and the commission they get when you buy a song through them, but it can't be all that much. So, I contriubte when I can buy purchasing music through them. It's the least I could do to thank them for introducing me to Regina Spektor and making me not hate Teenage Fanclub.

If you want to get a good idea of the type of music I've been listening to, you can listen to my "AlternaPop" station that I created. Follow the link: http://www.pandora.com/?sc=sh34217265780154929 and you'll be treated to music by Jellyfish, Paul Westerberg, XTC, Imperial Drag, Elliot Smith, The Wonder Stuff, Superdrag, The Lemonheads and more. Sit tight and listen keenly.

Monday, November 9, 2009

I Actually Liked A Disney Movie

It seemed to me like a recipe for disaster. Jim Carrey and Disney joining forces together in a remake of a classic Christmas film. I was certain that it would be like mixing pickle brine with prune juice and slamming down the resulting toxic brew. Instead, it was more like pairing chocolate and cheese: It's tough to get right, but, when you do, it's a pretty good match.

My daughter wanted to see this movie pretty bad, but I had no desire. For me, the classic film adaptation of A Christmas Carol has always been the 1951 version starring Alastair Sim followed by the 1984 version starring George C. Scott. The previews of this new version highlighted the slapstick aspects along with Jim Carey flailing about, making me certain that it would veer more towards Mickey's Christmas Carol than it would any of the adaptations considered to be classics.

To my surprise, however, Jim Carrey did a good job, even if there were a few too many instances of Carrey being Carrey. The slapstick and the exaggerated physical comedy and outrageous reactions are part and parcel when it comes to a Disney film, though. I've come to expect that, and was pretty happy that they chose to stick close to the original Dickens work and make only the occasional stray into forced comedy.

This was my first sampling of modern 3D technology. Before seeing this flick on the big screen, my experience with 3D was limited to the 3D films hosted by the Son of Svenghoulie once per Summer back in the 80's on Chicago's WFLD TV. You'd go to 7/11, buy your Big Gulp (I preferred mine to be a mix of Pepsi and Mountain Dew) and the cup would have a pair of 3D glasses attached to it. You'd wait about two weeks and whip them out so you could watch a cheesy monster movie in 3D. Apparently, 3D technology has evolved to the point where you no longer need Red/Blue colored glasses. Now, you get what looks like a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses which you can keep on for the duration of the film. Sitting in the dark with my funky glasses on, I felt like I was a Blues Brother. I leaned over to my daughter and sang a few verses of "Soul Man". She promptly shushed me and reminded me that the film was about to start.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Worse Than A Nic Fit

I haven't logged into my World of Warcraft account since early June. Before that, I hadn't been on since January of this year. I'm happy about that. Once upon a time, I was, for all intents and purposes, addicted to that game. I shudder to think about the number of hours I spent knocking back cans Mountain Dew while raiding some dungeon in the hopes of obtaining some obscure piece of equipment that would incrementally increase my character's stats.

To be honest, when I was last on back in June, I got bored pretty quickly. World Of Warcraft relies on a system where you repeat certain tasks over and over again and eventually get rewarded. It's sort of like sitting in front of a slot machine, but the graphical content is much prettier and you don't have some old lady on a gambling junket from Florida sitting next to you, crying into her gin and tonic. I've got better things to do than repeat the same daily quest every morning until I get randomly rewarded with some item I've been looking for.

Still, with Winter quickly approaching and the days getting shorter, I'm starting to feel the pull again. I've got myself convinced that I can play through Christmas before I get bored with the whole thing again. We'll see what happens, but I'm biting my nails in anticipation at the moment.

In order to distract myself, I've put some new music and apps on my iPod Touch:

Music:
Casimir Pulaski Day - Sufjan Stevens
Where We Gonna Go from Here - Mat Kearney
Eet - Regina Spektor
Why Georgia - John Mayer
Ain't That Enough - Teenage Fanclub
Talk Of The Town - Jack Johnson
Ever After You - The Gabe Dixon Band
Breakfast By Tiger - Imperial Drag
A Fond Farewell - Elliot Smith
Comfortably Bummed - Superdrag
July, July! - The Decemberists

Apps:
Five Minutes To Kill Yourself

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Uncle Sam Pontificates Further

The Virtual Sink caught up with Uncle Sam again and he offered a few words regarding his own stimulus plan.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Walking Around Dressed Like Uncle Sam

My daughter and I went trick or treating together on Halloween. She was dressed as the Statue of Liberty, and, in an attempt to carry on a theme, I had rented an Uncle Sam outfit from the local costume shop, complete with white hair gel. Going door-to-door, I didn't think we'd get much of a reaction beyond how cute it was that father and daughter matched thematically. It turns out that Uncle Sam is quite the popular guy.

I resisted the urge to carry my own basket around in order to collect candy for myself. Been there. Done that. Barfed up the contents. Still, I was often asked if Uncle Sam wanted some candy. I either replied "No, Uncle Sam takes his share on April 15" or "This is the one night a year Uncle Sam won't take anything from you".

Later that evening, Jason met up with me for dinner at one of our local haunts. I was still in costume. I joked that I was ordering drinks and food as part of an economic stimulus plan. The bartender was trying to sell some shots and I indicated that it's the best way to stimulate both the libido and the economy.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Uncle Sam Wants YOU To Follow VirtualSink.com

Who can argue with an American cultural icon like Uncle Sam? Better do what he says or else he'll gouge a little more from you come April 15.