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Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Dear Coffee Junkies,

We regret to inform you that if you're jonesing for a cuppa Starbucks coffee this evening (Tuesday, February 26th) between the hours of 5:30pm and 8:30pm - you might be out of luck.

Yours in Caffeine,


Okay, so the letter doesn't exist - but the facts remain true. Most of the 7,000 US locations for the Starbucks chain WILL be closed for three hours tonight. Why? Because the congolmerate of coffee is having a nationwide training/re-training session for all of its baristas. One can only hope that the result of this session would be better service, better coffee, or the very least more baristas who will have a better idea of how to use the various instruments lying behind the counter and the magical things they do.

Will they all be able to properly foam a latte? Doubtful. Will they all at least understand how to operate a cash register? One can only dream.

It's hard to believe that three hours' time is enough to eradicate the years of collective ignorance and apathy one generally finds in the average Starbucks employee - but it's nice to know that Starbucks actually recognizes some of its shortcomings and wants to create the illusion of attempting to fix it. Who knows? Maybe tomorrow you'll get the lucky barista who learned something from tonight's training and you won't feel like beating him/her to death like usual.

Just thought I'd throw this message out there, in case there are people who are THAT addicted to Starbucks coffee that three hours of 'Bucks denial might cause a homocidal rampage. Seriously, suck it up and head to a Dunkin Donuts. Stop killing people over caffeine withdrawal. That's just stupid.

Disclaimer: I do not drink coffee. But I have been to Starbucks many times.

Will you survive tonight?

(The original article)

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Proponent of Cubicles

I don't care what anyone says - I am in favor of cubicles.

Ever since I abandoned my childhood dreams of various careers that earn NO money (seriously, I had three career plans and ALL of them pay horribly) I have wanted to be a cubicle drone. While some see the comic strip Dilbert and think it's a horrible existence to live in a little box typing away and slaving for "the man" - I see it as a great idea and something to strive to attain in the future. Office Space was a great movie about a horrible business and horrible office with horrible bosses - but the cubicles still seemed to interest me.

I guess it's the comfort level for me. I'm not used to wide open spaces. I have a four-room two-bedroom apartment and rarely am I seen outside of my tiny room. Give me a computer, somewhere to sit, and somewhere to sleep (if it's my bedroom, not necessarily my cube - though a nap zone would be nice) and I'm a moderately-content guy. Even better is the ownership of the cubicle. The desk is mine to organize however I choose. The walls are mine to pin up things to keep me motivated or entertained. And my time is my own.

I know that my ideal cubicle situation involves an ideal WORK/BUSINESS situation, but it's my dream and that's what I want. I want a job where I can work in my cubicle at my own pace - which is faster when I have less distractions of people interrupting my work to give me different work. The ideal is having a set list of tasks to complete every day/week and allowing me to complete the work by the deadlines without interference. The cubicle would enhance that awesomeness, allowing me the peace and quiet I need to calculate and figure out new shortcuts and ways to improve on things. It's usually in my downtime between projects that I'm the most creative and able to piece together things to create new solutions to existing problems. Plus, earlier in the day is better than later in the day, but there have been tons of studies proving that already.

Employees are most productive and more creative in the mornings than in the afternoons.

So why the sudden rant about cubicles? Well, my office has been remodeled once again. Luckily I was not moved in the process, but the surroundings were moved and it's affecting everything yet again. I had about two months of peace and comfort with a cubicle in my time here with this company. We moved to a new office, with a big room of cubicles (though with shorter walls than I'd prefer) and I shared my cube with another worker. Cubicle-sharing isn't that bad, in my opinion - especially when his schedule meant he only worked one shift and I had the whole place to myself for the other shift. I had my own desk I could decorate with my own bric-a-brac and a bulletin wall where I could pin things on my half.

And then I got moved to the other room. I had a window desk with a great view, but in one big room. They put up some spare cubicle walls to separate the two halves of the room, so I had one wall next to me where I could still pin things up, but it wasn't the same. I was in a half-room with three other people and no privacy. Even worse, our room connects to the boss's office. You don't have to read Scott Adams's book (the creator of Dilbert) to understand that proximity to the boss's office is directly correlated with the number of times you're asked to work on a project.

Today, things stepped down yet another notch. I entered the office to find that our room had been remodeled yet again. Our wall divider is now gone, and has been replaced with several extra desks, a few of which directly face our desks. Privacy is gone. I found a pile of my wall decorations placed on my desk, which had previously occupied the now-missing cubicle wall. I no longer have any remnants left of my brief life as a cubie.

I miss my cubicle.

Do you have a cube? Are you a cubie? Don't you wish you had a cubicle? Share!

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Food for Thought

Once again, a small offhand comment triggers a mental debate in my head that needs to come outside and play. It started as I pushed away the remains of my Caesar Salad for lunch with a disgusted look on my face.

"Why don't you finish your salad ever?" she asked.
"Because it's disgustingly bland and they use so little dressing," I replied.
"Well, food isn't supposed to be delicious - it's supposed to maintain life," she retorted.
"No," came my reply.

Just "No." Food IS supposed to be delicious. We wouldn't be here (in America) if the facts were any other way. If she were right (and she is not), we would have vitamins and calorie pills and flavorless mush like you read about in bad (and some good) science-fiction pieces. Such is farthest from the case. Sure, some idiots out there choose a bland and flavorless life in order to get nutrients and sustain life and nothing else - but it's just a minute population that it barely is worth mentioning at all.

The rest of us in the normal human race understand that food is supposed to be tasty. That's why we have taste buds in the first place.

Argument #1: A rational deity/entity would not have provided us with taste buds if food were not meant to have taste.

The atheist corrolary to that would be the concept of Nature or chaos theory or something like that. Fact remains that we HAVE taste buds. Ergo, food is meant to have taste. Otherwise we would have evolved to no longer HAVE taste buds. Humans not only have been focus on taste (and its partner in crime, smell) for so long that we recently discovered a new taste: umami. We continue to strive to understand how we taste and what the building blocks of taste are - which we would never have done if food were not meant to be delicious.

Argument #2: Cooking is proof that flavors can be created, enhanced and mixed - which would never have been necessary if food simply needed to be consumed for survival alone.

It's called COOKING. Recipes exist to remember what flavor creations have been created so that they can be replicated. Some are kept secret (something about 11 herbs and spices?) so that others cannot replicate those flavors for themselves. If food were not meant to be delicious, then why would billions of dollars and jobs be dependant on one flavor or recipe being more delicious than another? Why would billions in advertising be spent to compare one taste to another similar taste just to boast about which is more delicious?

Argument #3: Without spices, exploration would have been stagnated.

Spices have always been where the money is. In fact, ever since ancient Rome, spices have been vital to life and prosperity. Salt, for its curing purposes long long before the days of refrigerators, was a freakin' CURRENCY. That's how Roman soldiers were paid - and how the word "salary" came to exist. In fact, a poor soldier was not "worth his salt". As culture progressed, we searched for MORE flavors and spices, not fewer. With each new spice, new trade routes were established and this led to the whole notion of the "faster route to India" and all their lovely spices. Which accidentally led to, well, Columbus and the New World debacle.

I could go on further. I REALLY could. You don't want to mess with a fat guy who enjoys food and goes on a rampage when you insult his food or food in general. Sadly, though, I must get back to work now.

Your thoughts? Read more!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

How Much is Enough?

This morning I stumbled upon the RedEye's cover page which featured the word "fat-osphere" and nearly lost my cool. It's not often that I get the chance to lose my cool before 7am, but there it was, staring straight at me. Begging me. Just dangling that abomination of the English language in front of me as if I weren't going to lose my cool.

The article (if you can call two pages of fluff about "fat people blogging" actual journalism) was not what offended me. There's a bunch of people out there who are overweight and are blogging to spread acceptance of the overweight to all of the internets and kudos to them and let's all eat a Kudos bar (whatever happened to Kudos bars? you never see them around anymore) and ha-ha we came up with this word "fat-osphere" to join fat people and the blogosphere. What got me going was the picture(s).

"These people are FAT??"

Maybe it's that I'm an elitist when it comes to my own disability/minority/issue. I AM FAT. One look, no question, case closed. I SEVERELY dislike people using the word "fat" in my presence when it is being used to describe someone who is not on a "one look, no question, case closed" level of obesity. Any time it happens, I want to shout, "THAT is NOT FAT! THIS is FAT!" It especially aggravates me when it's someone complaining about themselves being fat in my presence when the numbers don't lie and I AM TWO OF YOU PUT TOGETHER, YOU DUMB BITCH!

Are the people being talked about in the article overweight? Probably. Even though "overweight" and "obese" are currently overused as subjective words and their objective meanings are even more ridiculous because they rely on the BMI - a system created by a mathematician several centuries ago doing population studies and has nothing to do medically with anything.

Does that mean that they should unquestioningly call themselves "fat"? I don't think so. I think there's reasonable doubt. And while a debate could ensue and they could possibly win the argument to use the term, that's not a solid enough case off the bat to unflinchingly use it without the debate.

I can't be the only one out there with this problem.

I'm sure that there are people who have gone completely bald and overhear some guy with a receding hairline talking about how he's "going bald" or maybe a guy with legit symptoms of male pattern baldness (in a classic horseshoe pattern) using the term "bald" to describe himself and these completely-bald people get offended because THAT guy still HAS SOME HAIR and it's not a slam-dunk case of baldness, buddy!

Even in current politics, we've got the issue of the two "fighting minorities" on the Democratic ticket: the woman and the black guy. And yet, Obama's been put under the microscope about getting to use that term "black guy" for himself. Depending on who you are and your background, you might think that's up for debate and not at all a slam dunk case. You could be a well-to-do high-class attorney who thinks that any skin tone darker than a week in the Bahamas is "undoubtedly black". You could be an African-American who emigrated from Nigeria and judge the term "black" on roots and heritage connecting back to Africa and judge Obama accordingly. Many people have been judging Obama's decision to be the "black candidate" - and battle lines have been drawn numerous times as a result.

I'll even throw in a quick joke about Hillary Clinton getting to refer to herself as the "woman" candidate. Sure, most of America takes it at face value and simply assumes that it's correct, but I KNOW people out there who doubt it. Usually jokingly, but sometimes a little scary on the seriousness side as well. And frankly, I've never seen any proof either way. Of course, I don't use the internets for searches of presidential candidate pornography. I have much bigger tasks at hand. Like complaining about people calling themselves "fat", I suppose.

Which brings me back to the question: How fat is "fat"?

I'm an objective person. I'd like to say that the cutoff for unquestionable "fat" terminology would likely be a cutoff between 270 and 290 pounds, provided that the stomach sticks out further than anything else. I wouldn't want to discriminate against the weightlifters, who have lots of muscle mass that weighs a lot. You really don't want to discriminate against people who can break your spine.

Please, let me know what you think. Are you a member of some terminology that is also being infringed upon by those whose status is debatable? Are you "fat" and have a different idea for a cutoff point for those who want to be in the club without having to argue over possible membership? Do you just want to call me an "asshole"? Are you an "asshole" who wants to suggest a cutoff point because too many "half-assholes" are infringing upon your unquestionable "asshole" status?

Please leave a comment. And let's explore.

(RedEye - the "fat" picture/article is rotating screen #2)

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Finally a Winner!

I guess what they say about numbers is true. No matter what the probability, if you keep going and going over and over, eventually you're bound to catch it every now and then. It's enough to make me believe the "legend" of some guy asking every random woman he met if they'd like to fuck - right off the bat - and despite the horrible odds or if working, with enough test subjects he eventually got positive results every now and then.

I'm not sure if it's enough of a boost to advance from random sweepstakes to propositioning random women for sex on first sight, but it's at least enough to boost my confidence just slightly and I will keep pressing onward.

It all started around Thursday or Friday of last week when I found www.onlinesweepstakes.com from some news article about some guy who enters tons of contests and winds up winning tons of prizes. So I thought, if this guy can do it, why can't I?

Within one week of starting, and entering maybe 30 to 40 contests daily, I struck my first victory:

Congratulations. You have won a copy of GAMBIT. I have emailed your name and address to the author and she should be getting your copy out shortly. The book should appear within the next few weeks. Thank you for entering the drawing and please continue to support reviewingtheevidence.com by reading our reviews and entering our drawings.

Thank you

Barbara Franchi
Sharon Wheeler

For further verification, I went to their website, reviewingtheevidence.com and lo and behold! I was there on the front page!!

"The Winners of the drawing for a copy of GAMBIT by Karna Small Bodman are: Aaron Samuels, Chicago, IL;' Rhonda DiSanto, Cranston, RI, David G Bertolo, Scottsdale, AZ."

So it's true! Anyone can be a winner!

[insert random comment about not doing drugs]

I'm continuing onward, hoping for more victories and better prizes in the future. I'd tell you to come and join me in my crusade, but that just increases the competition!!


(No, really - it's okay if you want in. Just remember who started you down the path of victory. Tithing is acceptable.) Read more!

Valentine's Day: The Japanese Way

Here in America, we see Valentine's Day as a "Hallmark holiday" with no roots or foundation and an excuse for couples to flaunt their happiness while single people mope/rant about couples flaunting their happiness. The color is red, whether to celebrate all things heart-shaped and sweet - or to rage against them. The candy of choice is chocolate (sometimes chocolate-covered cherries or other fruits) and also those chalky Necco-brand heart things that they SAY is candy - but a high sugar content alone does not a candy make. We have oodles of cards, possibly the most base foundation for the "Hallmark holiday" epithet, and from grade school onward they instill both a sense of caring and of sheer obligation.

In Japan, things are similar - but never the same.

Red is still the color of sweetness and anger at having no sweetness to call your own. Cards still exist, certainly. After all, Hallmark exists beyond language barriers. As for the candy - it's all about the chocolate. Just not in the way you'd expect. After all, here in America the commercialism leads us to "the most expensive chocolate is the best". But I have a question for all the lovers out there: When was the last time you MADE chocolates?

That's right - they make chocolates for the people they care about. And by "they" - I mean "women". While here in America, it pretty much falls on the male to take the time to make something special and set up plans for a romantic day/evening - in Japan, Valentine's Day is all about the females giving chocolate to the men in their lives. (Don't worry, all you feminists out there - there's a REASON other than subservience...) On top of this, the Japanese don't want to mix the notions of obligation and sincerity – God forbid that someone would ever get the wrong idea - so their chocolates come in two different categories:

"Giri-choco": Known as "obligation chocolate". Small, moderately-priced chocolates that are given to classmates, colleagues, co-workers - any man in your life who deserves recognition, but not your affection.

"Honmei-choco": Known as "specialty chocolate". More-elaborate chocolates if found in a store. Traditionally hand-made and cast in special molds; given to that "special someone" in your life, or someone you would want to become a "special someone".

(Another option in the honmei-choco line is a chocolate cake - anything that's chocolatey gets the job done, no matter what shape or form it comes in.)

So on the big Valentine's Day, women give these chocolates to the men in their lives they wish to recognize or appeal to. Men get to brag about how many chocolates they received, or the fantastic quality of the chocolates received, or the elaborate designs or anything else men can find to brag about chocolate-y goodness they've received.

To be a man without chocolate on Valentine's Day in Japan is the equivalent disgrace as being alone here in America. Or the fat kid at the end of the row in school, shaking his V-Day card box upside-down and having nothing come out.

Okay, so now that I've explained the rituals of Valentine's Day in Japan, I'm sure that feminists and most women in general are feeling gypped by it all. "Oh great, we have to do all the work to get something romantic on Valentine's?" Well, cheer up, ladies. Because unlike here in America where V-Day is a one-day event, in Japan there exists a counterpart holiday.

It's known as "White Day" and it takes place a month later on March 14th.

Okay, so what is this White Day and how does it relate to Valentine's Day?

Remember all those chocolates the women were giving to the men? Well, there's more reason to it than just being "nice". Every man who received chocolate has to remember who gave him what, because on White Day - he has to return the favor! The tradition started only a few decades ago, because the men felt so GUILTY about being showered with affection on Valentine's Day by the women, and they decided to make a new holiday to return the favor. Not only are men supposed to return the favor with a gift in return, but it should be of a HIGHER value than the gift that was given to them a month prior. Traditionally this is in the form of cookies or chocolates, but there's a reason why White Day sales are some of the biggest that take place in Japan. If you received handmade chocolates, your return gift has to be equally thoughtful - and probably NOT something you made yourself. Jewelry and women's clothing/accessories are usually the biggest sales on White Day.

So there you have it - a holiday not created from commercial Hallmark, but out of sheer guilt from receiving presents. Only in Japan, huh?

You want to hear something awful? While in Japan, the men felt guilty enough about being showered with gifts and chocolate on Valentine's that they made a new holiday just to return the favor out of obligation and fairness - here in America we did the opposite. Men, feeling they were entitled to something extra for all of the effort and thought that went into their Valentine's Day plans and gifts for their valentines, decided as well to make up a new holiday (though not a fully-recognized one yet, if ever). Rather than one of obligation to be fair and give something in return - it's one of obligation on the VALENTINE'S part to give something in return.

That's right - March 14th in America is "Steak and a Blowjob Day".

I'll leave you to ponder that holiday, while I count up all of my chocolates given to me today by the women who appreciate my being in their life.

Yup, still ZERO. (At least in Japan I could be happy about having no obligations for White Day...) Read more!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Quick Update

Sorry I've been absent for so long. Work is piling up, staff is running low, and let's just say that 5 out of 7 nights a week, I wake up at 2-3am with nightmares about Excel spreadsheets.

Trying to relax and stumbled upon an online sweepstakes website with links to lots of contests. I'm just at a point in my life where I don't really care what I win - I just want to be declared a winner.

Here's a contest that offers a second entry by linking to their contest!

Maybe you could be a winner too? Read more!