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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Graduational Geometry

I was trying to write a speech for graduation, and this is what came out. I’m pretty sure I won’t be speaking at graduation.

A short while ago I thought that I had discovered the secret to living forever.
“It’s simple,” I said to a few of my friends, “You see, with medical technology consistently going up, people have been starting to live longer, right?”
I could sense their anticipation building as a few of their eyes glazed over a bit.
“Well, when you compare the two rates…” I struggled to verbalize the idea, “Here, I made a graph to make it easier to understand.”
I showed them a graph similar to this one. (Show graph).
I continued, “The red line denotes the average age of a person’s life throughout history.”
“How long did it take you to make that graph?” Dave Ridge chimed in. He’s always good at putting his two cents in, just at the wrong time.
I glared at him, “Most of last night, but that’s not the point. As I was saying, the red line denotes…” another interruption.
Nate Perkins had just walked in the room. Nate Perkins, a boy whose interruption skills are only rivaled by his lack of graph appreciation.
“Hey dudes,” he blared, “I just got back from longboarding and it was killer!”
“Um, Nate, not that that isn’t interesting and all, but I was just in the middle of showing these guys this graph and…”
“A graph?”
“Yes, a graph. Now you can let me finish, or you can just keeping repeating everything I say in question form.”
“Question form?”
After a brief pause, I begin again. “Anyway, back to my graph. The red line shows the average age of a person’s life throughout history, while the blue line shows our potential average age with medical assistance. In the past, medical help did little to affect how long we live. But I believe that medical technology’s ability to help us live longer has surpassed the rate at which we are aging.”
Several faces looked at me. They all looked confused or disinterested.
“Let me explain,” I continued, “We’re all in our teens, but we all expect to live to at least 70, right?”
They were beginning to catch on. Those who weren’t dosing off, anyway.
“Well, what if by the time we’re 70, the human race’s potential age was up to 90? We’d get to live another twenty years! And then what if twenty years later, our potential age was up to 120? And so on and so on.”
Blank stares.
“Do you know what this means?!” I shouted.
“So how long did you spend making this graph?”
“We could live forever! That’s what it means!” And I went on ranting about the repression of the enlightened geniuses and such.
They walked away after about 2 minutes of my incoherent speech.
Who wants to live forever if it’s with those guys anyway?

Monday, February 13, 2006

A Statistician's Lot

This is a paper I wrote recently for a BYU writing contest. It's not as good as I'd liked it to be, but it's definitely blog-worthy. Enjoy.

As I pulled into the parking lot, I saw that there were several open parking spots. Most of which were approximately 2.5 miles from the grocery store entrance. I decided to take my chances and look for a closer one. There was about a .0037 chance of finding one. Did I mention that I’m an aspiring statistician? Probably the only one who doesn’t know whether you hit or stay if you have 14, or wishes that their last name could be “Hellmuth,” or “Moneymaker.”
There really is a famous poker player named Moneymaker. Chris Moneymaker. What are the chances of that? Well, I know. 100%, because it happened (but that’s assuming you have a very closed, certain and happy mindset). 20 years ago, before he became a cultural icon, I couldn’t have told you that. There were too many variables to consider:

1. Are his poker-playing skills the reason for his fame, or is his name the only reason he’s known? I suppose that this is just a case of the chicken and the egg. Was it his name or his ability that first made him so popular? I’d say it was both working hand in hand. But then where does the rooster come in?
2.

I didn’t have time to think of a second variable before I saw a parked car near the front of the store turn its reverse lights on with no other inhabited car in sight to steal it from me. The car was facing the store and was directly in front of it, in one of those spots you’d step over your own mother to get. I was about 20 feet directly behind the car, in the empty area between two rows of cars. Here’s a picture of the situation.

The car slowly started backing out and turning to my left. I began easing forward to claim my spot, when suddenly the previous owner of the spot rushed back into it. A few seconds passed, and the car began pulling back out. This time, the car left enough room for me to slip into the spot, but I figured I’d let him completely clear out before moving in. He paused for a moment and then switched into drive and took the spot again! A few more moments passed. Then he did it again! And then again. And again and again. Each time leaving me a little more time to take the spot, but not enough. I didn’t mind though. I had time, and nothing else to do.
On the sixth time he pulled back into the spot, I looked in his passenger side mirror and saw the lens of a video camera pointed at me. They were filming this! I was furious at first, but then decided to just let them have their fun until they got bored and gave me the spot.
Ten minutes later they were still going back and forth. Daring me to take the spot and risk getting hit. I wouldn’t budge. After two or three more idiocies of theirs, I decided to do what they wanted me to do and respond. I honked the horn once. It was one of those quick, polite, “excuse me, but you’re being an idiot” honks. This seemed to do the trick and let them realize that enough was enough. They pulled out again. This time they pulled to my right, temporarily blocking my access to the space. I assumed that this was for the driver to see me and give me an apologetic, friendly, “yes, I was an idiot, now what are you going to do about it?” wave. The wave came, but it was not apologetic. In fact it wasn’t even directed at me. It was a “here, take this one” wave, and it was directed at the driver of the car coming at us from the left.
When I saw this happen, I have to admit that I first thought, “Oh, what a nice thing to do.” Then I gained back my sanity, and went crazy.
“What the crap!” I shouted with blazing eyes staring right at the driver of the car blocking me.
When he turned and saw my expression, first he smiled. I began to think, “Hmmm, maybe he’s not such a bad guy after all.” He then nudged his videographer buddy in the passenger seat to get him to film my reaction. I took my right hand off the steering wheel to express to him how I really felt. They beat me to it. Smiling, with middle-fingers raised, they drove off with impunity just as the other undeserving car stopped in my spot. I’m sure this whole thing will probably be on MTV or one of those stupid prank shows in a week or so.
“You just got parked,” they’ll say to me. I don’t think I need to tell you what my response will be.
I ended up having to park 2 blocks away on the other side of an 8 lane highway. I was parked in an embroidery store parking lot and would probably get a ticket, but I didn’t care.
When I got about 50 yards from the grocery store main entrance, I saw the car that had taken my spot. The car to its left was gone, and the space was still open. The car in my spot was a grey Geo. A little wiener car. I looked to my left and saw about 8 shopping carts lined up in the cart return and began walking in their direction.
As I gained speed with the eight carts rolling loudly in front of me straight at the defenseless Geo, I paused to reflect on the situation. Why was I seeking revenge on a car that really did me no harm? Besides, they were probably just as desperate for a spot as I was. I probably would’ve done the same thing too. I came to my senses and stopped myself. I gripped the cart I was pushing to stop it. I was jolted forward a bit before all the other carts broke off from the one I was holding. I was helpless as they sped through the empty parking spot next to the Geo. The first cart smashed into the driver’s side door, leaving a relatively noticeable dent (a blind man could spot it from 20 yards away). This impact swung the remaining carts into the side of the car, scratching it all up and exploding the line of carts. About half kept rolling towards the store, while the other half ended up on their sides on the ground, or leaned up against the poor Geo.
I briskly walked past the wreckage and toward the entrance of the store without even turning my head to look at the damage. I passed a family of four near the entrance who had seen what I had done. A little girl, held by her father, was crying with her hands over her ears because of the noise the carts had made. Her father just looked at me and shook his head. I couldn’t bring myself to look at them. I just kept walking with a stern expression planted on my face. I knew what I had done, and it affected me greatly. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
I actually got clear to the frozen foods section before I burst out laughing.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Blog Hackers!

Recently, somebody hacked into my blog. Don't worry, I've already contacted the proper authorities about it, and I'm going to therapy now to get through this troubling incident.

"Show me on this monitor where the hacker touched your blog," my therapist asked me.

I showed them.

"That monster," was all that they could say.

Anyway, I think I have a good idea of who it was/is. They would have to know me probably. Have to know a lot about computers, perhaps even have a job working with computers. Has a relatively similar sense of humor as me. hmmmm, oh brother, I just can't think of who it could be.

Any ideas?

Sunday, January 08, 2006

I should be allowed to stink.

So, how often should one do laundry? I used to think that something should be washed after every time you wear it. Of course, I never followed this rule, but lately my mom has been getting mad at me for having my clothes washed too often.

"I saw this jacket in the laundry room last week. It probably just got washed," my mom says as she pulls my green Little Caesar's jacket from the bottom of my hamper and throws it at me.

I quickly move out of the way of the incoming jacket. "That's disgusting." I say, "I wore that."

"Oh yeah," she says, and slowly picks up the discarded jacket with a pair of tongs and carefully eases toward the washing machine to drop it in.

"No, wait," I say and grab the jacket from her. I press it firmly into my face and take a big whiff. "It's still good," I say as I put the jacket on.

"It does seem a little damp for my taste though," I say.

"You're dripping," she says, pointing out the stream of liquid coming out of the back of the jacket.

We both looked in the hamper the jacket had come from and found a 3 to 5 inch puddle of a lemonade-esque liquid at the bottom. My mom was the first to venture a guess as to what it was.

"Oh, I think the cat went in the hamper," she says.

"You mean the cat that everyone loved, that you killed because she tore up the curtains?"

"Yeah, that's the one."

The vivid memory of my mom carefully picking up my limp and probably drugged cat with a pair of tongs and moving toward the washing machine flashes through my mind.

"You know, you didn't need to wash the cat before taking her to the pound," I say.

"I just thought it was the right thing to do.” she says, “Those pet-killers have such a terrible job as it is."

"Mom, being a school teacher isn't that bad, is it?" Zing!

She just looks at me with two contemptuous eyes. We're both silent for a few moments.

I abruptly begin, "Well, that was 3 years ago. It couldn't possibly be..."

"When's the last time you did your laundry?" she asks.

"I thought you were doing it every week."

"I haven't gone near it since I asked you to start doing your own laundry so you'll know how to do it on your mission." she says.

"Mom, that was a deacons Duty to God requirement."

"So?"

"Mom, I'm a priest."

"Oh. Then I guess that explains all this," she gestures toward 5 hampers overflowing with my dirty, smelly, rotting laundry.

"I thought you were just trying to conserve water," I say.

"I thought you were just a big slob," she responds. Good point.

"What!?" I exclaim in an offended tone, "What could've given you that idea?"

She just started snorting and rolling around in that way that always gets on my nerves. "Oh, Matthew, you can be so funny sometimes." Yeah, she's weird.

She continued to act in this childish manner, and I probably would've lost my temper if a piece of fabric protruding from one of the buckling hampers hadn't caught my attention.

"Whoa, are these my old Osh Kosh Bigosh overalls!?" I shout as I pull on the pant leg of the vintage piece of clothing.

With some difficulty, I manage to pull the overalls out from the mass and began to try them on.

"I haven't seen these since the 3rd grade!"

I put both my legs into the leg holes and pull up as high as I can, but the straps still won't reach over my shoulders. However, this is not a problem because my legs are so squeezed in, there is no chance of the overalls falling down. I let the straps hang down, and as any man in my situation would, I begin to strut around the room.

The doorbell rang.

"There's my date!" I begin running to the door.

My dear old mom, in her loving and overly-protective way, tries to stop me.

"Mom, would you please stop rolling around, you're going to trip me!"

She struggles to make any intelligible sound, and continues to roll around in protest.

"Look mom, I'm a man now. Men have needs. I'm going to keep going on dates, and eventually move out and get married someday whether you like it or not."

This only makes her more flustered and her face even begins to turn a shade of violet as a result. Finally she gets some words out.

"Well, I wouldn't be too sure about that," she quickly says before collapsing on the floor.

"Whatever." Sometimes my mom just can’t accept that I’m growing up.

As I head towards the door, I feel something in the big center overalls pocket. I reach in and pull out a sealed up Ziploc bag containing what looked like the remains of a tuna sandwich. Well, it was either that or some of my mom's famous clam chowder (which she hasn’t made in 6 years).

"Sweet, looks like I'm not going to have to pay for dinner after all!" I rejoice.

I can already tell that this is going to be the best El Cheapo ever.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Myspace is the gateway drug to being an idiot.

Let me just start out by saying that I HATE MYSPACE. Not my particular space, but just the whole myspace idea. Where did it come from? Really, one day it wasn't there, and then everyone, EVERYONE had it. Hmmm, I just realized that I also hate having to write things in all caps because I can't portray the right tone, but I digress.

About myspace: It's a two-bit (figuratively AND literally. Well, figuratively at least) blog/friend-making system. It was recently established by a guy named Tom, a male, 29 years old, who lives in Santa Monica, California, United States. See, don't you want to be his friend already? That's how they suck you in. With these curiousity-inducing profiles.

That's how I got sucked in, at least. Or just partly sucked in. That's what I tell everyone. That I'm not really part of it, I just have one. But really, there is no middle ground. If you're in, your trapped for life. And if you're out, you miss everyone's thoughtful comments and bulletins. And when I say "thoughtful," I mean "deplorable." Well, not really. I just mean "stupid."

And that's another thing. Bulletins. That's how everyone communicates now. What happened to the classic telephone call, or the old reliable fax? No, now everyone does it all with bulletins on myspace. Heaven forbid that you don't check your myspace every ten minutes. Because if you don't, you might end up half way to a party with a white elephant gift, but then you just found out from your myspace friend on the phone that it's not a white elephant party, but that you're supposed to bring a gift anyway and they won't tell you why except that it was all clearly explained in the myspace bulletin they had posted an hour ago. Then you get to the party and everyone knows exactly whats going on except you and you're standing next to someone who apparently brought an expensive sort of wine for a gift and you find it very difficult to hide your crappy, chewed up, ages 3 to 5, Ants in the Pants game under your sweater. And your whole night is ruined, not to mention your new sweater being all stretched out.

Another thing about myspace is how you can make "friends." When you find someone's myspace, you can ask to be their friend and then you can view all the nooks and crannies of eachother's myspaces. First of all, I would never suggest anyone exploring the crannies, or even thinking about the nooks of anything belonging to someone you've met, especially on myspace. It's sick. And now it seems that the exchanging of viruses has increased dramatically since the foundation of myspace.

Through several scientific studies, I've concluded that for every myspace friend you gain, you lose 5 real friends. Perpendicularly, for every myspace friend you delete, you lose 5 more real friends. This is because in order to do this, you must've signed into myspace therefore lowering your non-virtual social status that much more. Plus, you probably made several more myspace friends during that time.

Another thing that I dislike about myspace is how poorly most of them are laid out. Especially in writing. As if their terrible spelling isn't enough (knock on wood), myspacers feel that they must challenge the reader's sanity further by writing with a text color that's practically impossible to discern from the background color. People, for the last time, a pale purple text does not stand out from a lavender background. I suppose their choice of colors is not all bad. At least it prevents you from actually reading the mindless drivel they feel they must publish for the world. By the way, did you know that it's more likely to be abducted by aliens than to be abducted by those same aliens and that they enjoy looking at your myspace. It's true. I found out about it here.

Told ya.

I'm not trying to degrade current myspacers, but just warn those who have not yet discovered it. It has ruined my life, and millions of others'. There isn't hope for us, but there is for you, the technologically-impaired class. Whatever you do, just say no to myspace.