Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Be a hero

Cleaning up today, I found a newspaper clipping from a few years ago after a wave of fires had swept through Southern California. Hmmm, sound familiar? It was titled "You Too Can Be a Hero," and had a few recommendations on how to help out which are still applicable today:

* Start in your own neighborhood. Are there elderly or ill neighbors who may be having trouble breathing? Check on them.

* Call the American Red Cross at 800-HELP-NOW or 800-257-7575 (for Spanish) or go to its regional Web site www.redcrossla.org to make a donation of money, goods or time. The organization's volunteers are feeding, housing and counseling displaced fire victims across Southern California. It is a gargantuan task.

* The United Way funds local social service charities, which will be stretched thin for months with housing problems and other fire-caused issues. Go to www.liveunited.org/give and locate your local United Way to offer money or time.

* Check with local homeless shelters and food banks to see what they need and when they need it. Often smaller organizations are flooded with donations of goods during a crisis and can't process them all.

* Animal shelters end up with the pets of fleeing families, from hamsters to horses, as well as animals lost in the panic of evacuations. The Web site www.rescuers.com/shelters.htm offers a good locator for local shelters (search down for "Los Angeles County"), with phone numbers and Web sites.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

(More politics) For the capitalists among you: Oh. My. God.

The Economist has endorsed Barack Obama. The freaking Economist magazine.

Okay, for anybody reading this blog, are there any major, respected, but unexpected organizations endorsing McCain? (By "respected but unexpected," I mean anybody that wasn't already fully in the GOP tank before the election even started.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Saturday night, by virtue of my genius wife being the Lead Editor on "Girls Next Door" for a few seasons, we went to the Playboy Mansion Halloween Party. And, yeah, it lives up to the hype.

I went as Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde. Molly and I had a thematic half-face thing going, as she went as a half-zombie pirate queen.

But enough about us. I know what you really want...


No? You want almost naked women? Well, if you insist...

The four seasons.

(Gotta admit, they look a hell of lot better than these guys:)

Breasts! Too... many... breasts... Must... remain... calm... BOOBIES!!!!

I'm pretty sure this is my doppleganger, Neil Patrick Harris. He's following me, I tell you!

And lastly, Bridget: the friendliest and coolest of the Girls Next Door. May the trapeze of her life swing ever higher.

I regret to say that my wife didn't take any good pictures of the COMPLETELY NAKED "painted women" at the party. It's a surreal moment in your life when you're close-dancing with a totally nude woman on a crowded dance floor. A great moment, but surreal nonetheless.

May Hugh Hefner live to be a thousand years old. Failing that, may he will it all to George Clooney.

While my wife, understandably, didn't take pictures of quite the same subjects that I would have, luckily, our friend Jeremy was there and he took pictures of exactly what I would have. Yay, Jeremy!

This is the aforementioned painted lady that I was close-dancing with.

And this is apparently Jeremy getting her phone number. Bastard.

All great artists sign their work.


Not because "They're eeeevil!" Or because "they're driving out small businesses." I hate them because they institute policies that make it impossible to come up with common sense solutions to simple problems.

Take a deep breath and come along with me on a tour through bureaucratic hell...

Molly wanted to surprise me with an iPhone for our anniversary. Because she's just that awesome. She goes to the AT&T store. She is told, brusquely, that she can't buy the phone and give it to me. She has to activate it first, meaning they'd need to deactivate my current phone. They are singularly unhelpful beyond that. She is told the only other place she could get an iPhone is the Apple Store, but it'll still be the same story. Still, they're being jerks, so she decides to take her business to Apple directly.

At the Apple Store, a salesman named Gilbert is much friendlier and helpful, but, alas, AT&T gets in the way again. After an hour and a half of trying to activate the iPhone for my account and talking to AT&T's technical support, he gives up. "You're going to have to go back to an AT&T store and do it through them directly. I can't make any headway here."

So, that was Sunday.

Monday, we go in together to the AT&T store, where we are told that a new phone was activated on Sunday. "How can that be? We never got a phone." "How do we know that," they asked. "Call the Apple Store and ask them," I reasonably reply.

"We're not allowed to call them," he said. AT&T and Apple, who have partnered to create and sell the iPhone, do not allow their employees to contact each other to solve problems!

"Yeah, you're gonna have to back to the Apple Store and..."

"Stop! Stop! My wife started here, went to Apple, was told to come back here and now you're sending us to Apple? We're not your messengers. Get on the GODDAMN PHONE and figure this out."

"But we can't call them. The most that can happen is our customer service can call their customer service."


So, then ashhole employee A starts telling asshole employee B everything he'll need to tell customer service when he gets them on the phone. That's when I make the mistake of being logical and reasonable again. "If you, Employee A, know everything that needs to be asked and explained, then why are you telling Employee B? Why not just get on the phone and tell them yourself?"

"I'm not allowed. It's not my job."


Of course, they are unable to help us, and end up giving us the number of an AT&T customer service rep. We talk to him for an hour on the phone. Eventually, he calls us back and tells us that everything is taken care of, and we just need to go to the Apple Store on Tuesday and get the phone.


Today, we went to the Apple Store and, after an hour of the manager talking to AT&T on my phone, he tells us that the problem is that AT&T doesn't have a record of my phone, that I've used for two years, in their system. So they can't deactivate it. Which means they can't activate a new iPhone in its place. And it will take SEVENTY-TWO HOURS for them to type in the id number of my phone into their system - just so they can then delete it.

So, in three days, we get to go back to the Apple Store. And, I'm sure, be told that something else incredibly stupid has gone wrong.

Vote smart

No, seriously, votesmart.org This is your one-stop shopping for all your political information. Not spin, not essays, not attack ads. Just pure information. Want a quick and easy way to check out the voting record of your favorite candidate? It's there. Want to read up on all the ballot initiatives coming up in your state? They're there. Take an afternoon, and prep yourself for the election.

While you're at it, wander on over to factcheck.org. They cut through the bullshit of both candidate's and parties' ads and speeches, and let you know where they've lied, exaggerated, twisted, folded and spindled the truth.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Hey, more politics!

From a Time magazine with Barack Obama:

The biggest problem with our energy policy has been to lurch from crisis to trance. And what we need is a sustained, serious effort. [...] I was just reading an article in the New York Times by Michael Pollen about food and the fact that our entire agricultural system is built on cheap oil. As a consequence, our agriculture sector actually is contributing more greenhouse gases than our transportation sector. And in the mean time, it's creating monocultures that are vulnerable to national security threats, are now vulnerable to sky-high food prices or crashes in food prices, huge swings in commodity prices, and are partly responsible for the explosion in our healthcare costs because they're contributing to type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease, obesity, all the things that are driving our huge explosion in healthcare costs. That's just one sector of the economy. You think about the same thing is true on transportation. The same thing is true on how we construct our buildings. The same is true across the board.

For us to say we are just going to completely revamp how we use energy in a way that deals with climate change, deals with national security and drives our economy, that's going to be my number one priority when I get into office, assuming, obviously, that we have done enough to just stabilize the immediate economic situation.

I want a president that can think and talk about issues in this kind of depth. I am reasonably certain that President Bush has never uttered the word "monocultures," and I'm certain to the point of being willing to bet several of my fingers that Sarah Palin never has.

I also want a president honest enough to admit that there are conditions on what he can accomplish, ("assuming, obviously, that we have done enough just to stabilize the immediate economic situation."), rather than just promise a chicken in every pot.

Friday, October 24, 2008


I hope you can read this. I can't figure out how to make bigger, damn it.

Captured from cnn.com at about 3:15pm, Friday, Oct. 24th.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to make a call.


Why? Why would somebody do this to themselves?!?

Tune in for details!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Republicans and Extinction Bursts

I'm watching the meltdown of the Republican party this election: The cries of "Kill him!" and "Terrorist!" at Sarah Palin rallies in reference to Senator Obama. The Willie Horton-esque scare tactics of accusing him of "palling around with terrorists." And, in general, the extreme avoid-the-issues, attack-the-man tactics that the McCain campaign is resorting to going into these final weeks of the campaign. And it's made me think of... dogs.

I've been taking classes in being a professional movie studio dog trainer - training Trooper Thorn and BeBop to be big time movie stars. So, I've been reading a LOT of information on shaping behavior and operant condition and positive reinforcement. There's a thing called an "extinction burst" that is very important to understand.

Say you have an animal (not just dogs, any animal, including humans) that has learned that if it acts a certain way, then it will get something it wants. A dog begs at the table and gets scraps. A child acts up and gets candy. If you wiggle the key on your classic car just right you can get it to start.

Now, make it so that that behavior no longer results in the reward. You can reliable predict following behaviors. First, the behavior will repeated multiple times, with variations. The dog will beg to one person, then another, offer paws, try different positions. The child will rapidly go through various tactics, from wheedling to crying to bargaining to pouting. You'll turn the key slow, fast, jiggle it up and down, back and forth, in and out.

The attempts will become more aggressive. Finally, just before the behavior is given up, there will be an "extinction burst"; one final, all-out, hold-nothing-back attempt to make the behavior that has always worked before work again. This is when you'll see the dog barking and spinning in circles, the child in an ear-splitting screaming rage, and you'll turn the key so hard it breaks off in your hand. (Probably while screaming "Start, you fucker! Start!")

After that, poof, the behavior is gone. If you never again feed the dog from the table, it will no longer beg after that. The child will stop causing a scene to get what it wants. And you'll finally give in and just take the car in to get a new starter and enough with this "wiggling" bullshit already.

If your attention span is long enough to remember where this post started, you probably see what I'm getting at here. Republicans have relied on negative campaigning for quite a while. With the Bush elections, they became an art. "Swift boating" has entered the political lexicon. A Republican representative (Michelle Bachmann, R-Minn) just said there should be an investigation of which lawmakers are "anti-American." Joe McCarthy would be proud. It is a behavior that has been consistently rewarding.

Until now. All of a sudden, for whatever sundry reasons, the negative campaign isn't working anymore. Moderate and undecided voters are turning to Obama in an unstoppable tide and the overwhelming reason given has been that the negative campaigning of McCain and Palin has turned them off. The response has been to step up the attacks even stronger.

I think... I hope... that what we are seeing is the extinction burst of the worst part of the Republican party, the part that abandoned actual principles of how government should be run (low taxes, lower spending, mild isolationism, minimal government interference in general) in a pursuit of simply winning, and principles be damned. I hope we are seeing the last tantrum of the politics of fear and suspicion.

Because if we are, then we should see a Republican party that is saner, fairer, more reasonable, less beholden to religious extremists and divisiveness. But here's the thing - we have to extra vigilant at this point. If you give that dog just the tiniest scrap during its extinction burst, if you finally give in to the child at the height of his rage, if the car suddenly stops just before you were about to haul it in for junk... then your behavior has been strengthened. Next time it will be even harder to get you to stop; you've learned that if you just try long enough, hard enough, play dirty enough, then you can get what you want.

And that's not a lesson the Republicans need to be taught. The politics of negative campaigns and smear tactics need to be wiped away completely from the party if it is to be saved.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Well, just "spills," really. Over the past two years, I calculate I've jogged over 1000 miles. So, of course, when I tried to jog 2 blocks to a coffee shop during a work break last Thursday, my ankle twisted under me about fifteen feet into the run. I dropped like a stone. There may have been screaming involved. I cannot confirm rumors of crying like a little girl. I pulled my cell phone from my pocket, called the receptionist and said, "Hey, it's Hudson. I'm about 15 feet outside. Could you send someone to drag me inside?"

So, now I'm wearing a big ol' immobilizing boot on my right foot. I went through something like this two years ago. After my ankle didn't heal after a couple of months, I went in for an MRI and found I had torn two ligaments. So they put this boot on me for three weeks, and after that I was excellent. So, I've decided to just skip the doctor this time around and go straight to the boot. I'm confident it's not broken (it would look much worse it it was - the swelling is almost all gone by now, though it still very tender), so this should do the trick. I just have to spend the next couple of weeks hobbling around.


Saturday, Aug 30th, Molly and I (and let's be frank - Buck, too), threw the bitchinest pirate-themed murder mystery party of all time. Buck and I BUILT A GODDAMN PIRATE SHIP in my backyard, complete with a pier, fake water, and ground fog. For her part, Molly just went nuts with the decorations and props. We gave away real swords and daggers as prizes (and rum and games for the pansies who didn't want weapons). We had about 45 people there, and every last blessed one of them came dressed to the nines in their best pirate gear. Pictures attached.

This whole thing took about three weeks to put together (in 100+ degree valley heat - FUCK!)...BUT it was utterly worth it... BUT I told Molly I am *done* with parties for the foreseeable future. If Molly wants another party, she'll just need to convince someone else to throw one, at least until Spring of 2009.

Check out my "Renaissance Superman" outfit! And Molly's, ahem, "pirate chest."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Looking Death in the eye, and saying, "Who? Me?"

So, I've been having really really bad headaches for a few days now, and went in to see my new doctor for the first time today. (My old doc up and moved to NYC with his boyfriend/partner. Inconsiderate bastard, trying to be happy.) My new doc was recommended by my old doc, so at least there's that.

Doc: "So, tell me about these headaches."

SV: "Well, they're really bad, they feel like a mule kicking me in the back of the head, they've hit every day for about a week now, and they're brought on by me straining. You know, like a difficult bowel movement, or exercise, or [blush] sex. Then they hit really suddenly, and last for hours."

Doc (blanching slightly): "You, uh, don't say."

SV: "Something wrong, Doc?"

Doc: "Have you ever heard of a little thing called an 'aneurysm'? Tell you what, let's get you a CAT scan."

SV: "Next week? Tomorrow?"

Doc: "I'm thinking more like right fucking now." (Makes a phone call.) "Go to this address. They'll see you in a hour. I'll call you tonight with the results. Don't, um, do anything. Strenuous. At all."

SV: "Whatever you say. You're the doctor. By the way, am I going to die?"

Doc: "I don't think so." (Said in the same tone of voice you might say, "I don't think I left the stove on...") "It's been several days since the headaches first started and you didn't call me, you moron, so you'll probably live, because God protects children and dumbshits."

SV: "Well, alright, then. Talk to you tonight. If, you know, I'm alive. Too-doo-loo."

(Journalistic integrity moment - he didn't actually say "fucking," or call me a moron or dipshit. Other than that, it's a pretty accurate transcription.)

Well, the doctor eventually called me at 9pm to let me know that the CAT scan showed... nothing. No swelling. No bleeding. Not a goddamn thing. So, these incredibly painful headaches that lasted for days (but have now almost completely faded away) were caused by nothing at all. Hurray?

Ah, the miracle of the human body, where excrutiating pain can be created out of thin air. However, the principle of karma says that I should expect to be rewarded wtih several days of unexpected, unexplainable mind-blowing pleasure at some point. It's only fair, right? (People sitting close to me at that point may want to move back. I'm just sayin'.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Multiple Universe Theory (and the ramifications thereof)

As I sit here at work, swearing at my computer because of a stupid computer error that cost me a half hour of work, I realize that, according to the Multiple Universe Theory, there is a Hudson for whom not only did that not happen, none of the computer errors I deal with daily have ever happened. His work experience has been nothing but a string of perfectly working computers and programs that always, without fail, work exactly as they're supposed to.

Someday, I will invent a dimensional portal... and kill that guy.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Shooting at the Easy Targets: Olympic Edition

Here's a test for whether something should be an Olympic sport: if you tell someone that you have the Olympic Gold Medal in your chosen event, and not only are they not really impressed, but you're pretty sure they're laughing about it later with their friends, then that sport probably shouldn't be in the Olympics.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you...


Water Polo!


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Dr. Horrible

I'm pretty sure Joss Whedon had this exact conversation somewhere:

"You know, I've pretty much managed to gain the undying admiration of all of geekdom. Except for one guy. Hudson Shock. It just galls me that he's managed to elude me all this time. He never got into Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And he didn't watch Firefly, either. What's up with that?

"I've got to get this guy. Igor, hand me his psychological profile. What can I work with here? Mad scientist supervillains? Sure, I can do that? Musicals? Yeah, why not?

"But that's not enough. This time, I've got to make sure I've got him. Wait, what's it say here? He looks almost identical to Neil Patrick Harris (only more brutally handsome)?


"It'll be like we're casting Mr. Shock himself in the role he, frankly, was born to play, if only he'd had the good sense to have been an actor instead of an international man of adventure."

Well played, Mr. Whedon. Well played indeed.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

You have been warned

Overheard at my CPR/First Aid class this afternoon:

"Even paramedics cannot stop Shock. They can only slow Shock down."

You know it.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

It's like being suicide bombed by the DMV

The April 16, 2008 edition of the Los Angeles Times contains this beauty of an article that has just absolutely made my day. It details a memo sent by Al Qaeda leader Mohammed Atef to a subordinate complaining about improper expense reports. It accuses the terrorist lackey of misappropriating cash, a car, sick leave, and an air conditioner, among others.

Some choice excerpts:

"I learned that you did not submit the voucher to the accountant..."

"...with respect to the air-conditioning unit... furniture used by brothers in Al Qaeda is not considered private property... I would like to remind you of the punishment for any violation."

From the article:

"They [the Egyptian Al Qaeda chiefs] may have imposed the blindingly obdurate nature of Egyptian bureaucracy."

"You see that in the retirement packages they offered..."

One memo accounts for a mislaid Kalashnikov rifle and 125 rounds of ammunition.

From a letter from a militant in the 1990's:
"Peace and god's mercy and blessings... praise to the Lord and salvation to his prophet... I have not received my salary in three months and I am six months behind in paying my rent... you also told me to remind you, and this is a reminder."

Translation: "Praise be to Allah. Now where is my money?!?"

Mustafa Ahmed Al Yahzid... ran the network's finance committee between 1995 and 2007

The questions this raises are legion. They hate us for our freedoms, but love us for our Form 1099's and subcommittees? What the hell is the retirement package for a suicide bomber? And, seriously, what is the punishment for misappropriating an air-conditioner, and would Doctor Evil approve?

I think we need more stories like this. Terrorist organizations rely on, well, terror to work. And, frankly, it's just a little hard to be terrorized of people who run finance committees. I mean, there's a reason we never saw Darth Vader signing paychecks for storm troopers.

Anyway, there's a great, very dark comedy in all this. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go put together a pitch.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Bill Zehme, you are the wind beneath my wings

Some people are inspired by excellence, by the example created by masters. A painter looks at the works of da Vinci, or a trumpet player listens to Gillespie, and they think, "I want to aspire to that level of greatness."

Then there's me. I'm inspired by the awful and the incompetent. To this day, there's a part of me that wants to be a high school teacher because my own World History teacher was so incompetent that I said to myself, "I should be a teacher just so that those I teach won't be taught by this bozo."

In that same vein, I give you, from the April, 2008 issue of
Rolling Stone, Bill Zehme's feature article, "Chris Rock Isn't Laughing."
Because he has ceaselessly been proclaimed the Funniest Man Alive since his 1996 landmark Bring the Pain stand-up special, there comes for him a niggling responsibility to go be Funny in other places where people are also Alive but don't get HBO or his extraordinarily fine CW network coming-of-age series, Everybody Hates Chris (produced and narrated three seasons running by Rock) or film releases such as CB4, Pootie Tang, Down to Earth, Nurse Betty and last year's I Think I Love My Wife, his headstrong auteur remake of Eric Rohmer's French new Wave curiosity Chloe in the Afternoon.

Check the punctuation on that. Not only is it retarded ("...where people are also Alive...", what the hell does at even mean?), it's one sentence. One sentence that is ONE HUNDRED WORDS LONG!

But wait, there's more. And when I say "more," you better believe I mean a lot more. Again, these are single sentences, people.

These, of course, are mere droplets from ninety-plus minutes of Never Before Heard meticulously honed societal meanderings - topics ad infinitum traversing war, politics, pharmaceuticals, Roger Clemens, real estate, ejaculation, love, fatness, energy crisis, Anna Nicole Smith, gender discord, women gone missing, debt, careerism, entertainment gossip, SAT scores, gayness, racial correctness ('Now they're trying to get rid of the word nigger, my beloved nigger...'), Britney Spears and beyond - sprung from the ever-swirling Rock reservoir of dyspepsia, which has been damming up since the airing of his fourth HBO concert special, Never Scared, in 2004. (95 words)


Anyway, on this day and on two others I spent with him in different provinces, he wore a navy crew-neck sweater and navy sweatpants, the civilian uniform he favors most devotedly - possibly (but probably not) to compensate for the fact that "I am not blue-black," as he approximated his tint of flesh on the recent PBS Henry Louis Gates Jr. genealogical series, African American Lives 2, wherein he learned that his ancestry was twenty percent white European.

That last one is a succinct 89 words - practically taciturn by Bill's standards. Now, those sentences alone would be the length of a typical Rolling Stones feature article, but luckily, Bill Zehme graces us with more of his overwritten, rambling, pointless and painful prose.

...no mortal, of course, sifts matters of class and skin divide with sharper acuity than Rock, who is black but sometimes employs the term "a fine mocha" because he is just that precise.

Chris Rock is black!?!

You may as well know, meanwhile, that the un-robotic Rock possesses the actual Obama personal phone number...

Chris Rock isn't a robot?!?

Rock addresses women of certain maturity as "ma'am." For example: "How you doin' ma'am?" he said to a diminutive white-haired matron whose face abruptly hovered beside him.

Chris Rock doesn't call old women "bee-

Or the riveting story of how Chris Rock ordered cranberry juice, but got white cranberry juice and didn't recognize it, so the waiter replaced it with red cranberry juice. Man, I get chills just thinking about it.

So, thank you, Bill Zehme. You are my inspiration, my reason to keep practicing, to keep striving to make it as a writer. Because every moment that someone is reading something by me, is a moment that they definitely aren't reading you - and I can think of no greater service I could offer.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


This is the 101 - 170 - 134 exchange in North Hollywood. Looks harmless, doesn't it? Well, take a closer look:

Let me illustrate some of its, ahem, eccentricities:

If you're traveling north, you can't go east without getting of the freeway, traveling for about half a mile on surface streets and getting back on.
If you're traveling south, you can't go west.
If you're traveling east, you can't go north.
And if you're traveling west, you can't go south.

If you're traveling north on the 101 and keep going straight north, you'll actually be on the 170.
If you're traveling east on the 101 and continue straight, you'll find yourself on the 134.
If you're traveling north on the 101 and stay on the 101, you'll now be going due west - and will continue going due west (on the 101 North) for the next fifty miles or so.

Don't move to North Hollywood unless you can fly.



Last Sunday I was living my glamorous Hollywood life. That’s right, I was picking up dog poop. Glamorous Hollywood dog poop. My attention was necessarily focused downwards. I was treading carefully, you might say. That’s when I became aware of a familiar but unwelcome sound, a buzzing, a beelike buzzing.

Now, those of you who think you know me will no doubt assume that I instantly ran away screaming and flailing my arms like a little girl. Well, nuts to you. I’ll have you know that I have matured greatly and a bee or two is no longer a bother to me. I have flicked single bees off of my sleeve with a, dare I say it, James Bond-like level of calm and panache. No, wait, that’s stupid. Anyway, a single bee does not a freak-out make, okay?

But, then, I realized I wasn’t hearing just one buzzing. Or even a couple. Actually, the buzzing was rather loud. Maybe it was time to take my eyes off the ground and reassess the situation.

I was SURROUNDED by bees! I, with my world class powers of observation, who single-handedly solved the “Case of the Taj Mahal Ghost Murderer” through my jungle-trained heightened senses, had walked within three feet of an active beehive.

That’s when I ran screaming and flailing my arms like a little girl. Hey, laugh all you want, Mr. Smug Anonymous Internet Reader, but killer bees are now a reality in southern California. And I don’t think anybody wants this on their gravestone, do they?

Of course they don’t. Especially if their name isn’t even Hudson Shock.

I called a bee removal company, and they had a guy show up Monday morning, Which meant I only had to seal the house up in duct tape for a day, so there’s that, at least. After an hour, he knocked on the door and I uncurled from my fetal position. He informed me that the bees had actually built the hive under the shed, which is why I hadn’t seen it. Because of that, he hadn’t been able to take the bees alive and had had to kill them. (There’s a weird honeybee shortage going on in southern California, and so they’re trying to keep as many alive as possible. You lose this round, environment.)

“Yeah,” he said, “you had a couple of thousand bees under there. Good thing we caught it early.”

Two thousand bees. That’s “catching it early.”

Two. Thousand. BEES.

Two thousand is one of those concepts the human mind has a hard time comprehending. Like the square root of a negative number. Or why anyone goes on “The Moment of Truth.” Let me illustrate.

This is a bee.

This is ten bees.


To put it another way, if you took every one of those bees and laid them end to end, they would reach to the moon and back three and a half times! Two thousand bees can strip a cow down to the bone in under thirty seconds. They could form a twinkie thirty-five feet long, weighing approximately six hundred pounds. What do you have to say to that, Mr. Ernie Hudson?

That's a big Twinkie.

Damn straight.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

How to save no money at all by blowing yourself up!

The internet is 90% porn, sure. It's also 9% videos of people with dicks in a box and dancing on treadmills. And .9% people blathering on and on in their blogs. (Ahem.) But here's the cool thing. The internet is also .1% information on how to do anything and everything. Seriously, it's like the cheat codes to the real world. Want to know how to fix your brakes? No problem. Want to know how to hack your phone to work with another phone company? Easy peasy. Want to know how to make a rail gun out of two magnets and a few ball bearings? Go here.

So, when my laptop battery died and wouldn't hold a charge, I was excited to find this video, which explains how to open up the battery and simply replace the lithium-ion batteries inside for much less than the overpriced laptop battery. In the video, the narrator replaced a $100 battery for only $37. Woo-hoo! Especially since Dell wanted over $150 for my laptop battery. Ha! I'll show the bastards!

I'm not an idiot, though. I ordered a new, normal battery first, just in case things went wrong, and managed to get it for about $90 from a discount site. Dell really is a bastard selling those things for $150, especially as they only last for a couple of years.

First thing was to carefully take the battery apart. You're not meant to, and they don't make it easy, but voila!

That's nine lithium-ion batteries inside. Now to figure out what voltage and amps they are. Aaaannndddd... the markings on the batteries themselves are absolutely no help to me at all, it turns out. But it's actually kind of cool, because over the next few hours, I get to reacquaint myself with all the science and math of electricity I had once known.

Like, for instance, if you connect batteries in parallel, they keep the same voltage as each battery, but you add their amps together.

And, I also learned some new stuff. Like, lithium-ion batteries explode if you hook them up wrong.

And when I finally calculated what voltage and amps the individual batteries were and priced them, they were about $9 a pop. Times 9 batteries, and that $81 plus shipping. Versus the $90 I spent on a perfectly good, pre-assembled, non-exploding battery.

So, I was forced to do a little risk/reward calculus. How much money would I have to save in order to risk blowing myself up? After some deliberation, I decided the answer was $35.

So if those batteries drop to $6 each, well, this might just be one hell of an exciting blog.


Annals of Animal Antagonism 3!!!


Molly and I were driving home from a movie Thursday night...

"Pull over," I said.


"Because I've never petted a pig before."

She hadn't, as yet, seen the pig being walked on the side of the road, and I have to admit that without that vital piece of information, it must have seemed like one hell of a non-sequitor.

Once we pulled over, I got out to say hi to the woman walking her pig. Molly elected to stay inside the car and play with her new iPhone, choosing cold technology over the experience of bonding with a living creature. She always was wiser than I.

This is Bacon. Bacon is very cute, in a very, very ugly sort of way. I introduced myself to his owner and asked if Bacon was friendly. "Yes, absolutely," she lied.

Drawing on my all my dog experience, I offered the back of my hand to the pig to smell. Bacon waddled over like Marlon Brando after Thanksgiving dinner, and pressed his adorable little snout flat up against my hand, snuffling gently.

"Aawww," I thought, "What a sweet little OW!! MOTHER FUCKER BIT ME!"

Seriously, Bacon chomped the ever loving bejeezus out of my hand. Thank Bob for dull, grinding herbivore teeth or I'd be two-fingered hunt-and-peck typing right now, and not even the right two fingers.

"Oh, gosh," said Cujo's owner, "He's never done that before." Uh huh, I thought to myself, nursing my throbbing hand, sure. Bitch probably gets a kick out of sicking her vicious pig on unsuspecting saps.

But, hey, maybe I was being unfair. I had approached Bacon with the same caution and body language I would with an unknown dog, true, but he rather obviously wasn't a dog. Maybe in pig-speak, a lowered hand is how you say, "I am covered in slop and shit. Dig in!" And I didn't want to just give up - I'm no pansy. If you fall off the killer pig, you've gotta right back on, know what I'm sayin'?

"How should I say hi?" I asked.

"I don't know. Just scratch him on the head, that's what I do," she shrugged.

Moving back in warily, I reached down and start scritching Bacon on his bony, wirey head. All the while, Bacon's just staredat me, unmoving, unblinking, with those little porcine eyes of his.

"Give him a break," I said to myself, "He can't help it if his eyes are porcine. He is a pig after JESUS CHRIST HE'S CHARGING ME! GET BACK! GET BACK OR I WILL FIELD KICK YOU LIKE THE FOOTBALL YOU DESERVE TO BE!"

(By the way, Molly missed almost all of this while inside the car, looking up only at this last moment to see me in some sort of martial arts pose ready to take on Bacon in a mano-a-porkchop bloodsport.)

Gathering up my dignity (hahaha), I said goodbye, got in the car, and drove away. That night, I gave up my two-year long self-denial of pork and had myself one hell of a bacon cheeseburger. What's that, Bucky? You have something to say?

Darn tootin'.