Sunday, October 28, 2012

Rogue Wave

Next to my horrific, prescription-medicated acne, my hair was my teenage self-esteem’s biggest enemy. It was parted on the left side of my head. Below the part, regular brown hair fell to my ear. Above the part, a large wave sat on the top of my head, followed by relatively normal hair on the right. Look at the button at the upper left of your keyboard, and picture the tilde punctuation mark sitting atop my dome, the right side of the wave higher than the left.

If your imagination won’t conjure that image, look at this yearbook photo from 1995.

Granted, this is not a perfect picture for examining my hair. I looked through all yearbooks as well as my personal photographs from that era, and came to the following conclusions:

1. Almost all of my pictures are from special occasions, before which I would have cut my hair short enough to limit its waviness.

2. Very few photos feature the top of my head.

3. The rise of digital photography means the average infant has more pictures of themselves than I have of my teenage years.

4. Our yearbook photographers were still learning how to use their equipment, and the lighting levels of those images were not helped by the printing process of the yearbook.

While this picture appears to show my participation in 1976 physics experiment, it’s instead an after-school Scholar’s Bowl practice circa “Wonderwall”. Focus on the light reflecting off my brown hair. You’ll see the wave atop my head.

Freshman year, In the locker room after showering, Phil loudly asked if I took a combed it normally until I reached the just above the part, and then quit. Maybe he thought that was why the wave formed; more likely, he wanted to mock me in front of the rest of our basketball team.

As much as I hated standing out because of my hair, it never occurred to me that it could be better managed through a different style. My dad’s hair had the same “problem”, and I employed an identical haircut as him, assuming he had evaluated all the possibilities before discovering this best-case scenario.

I didn’t try a different hairstyle until 1998. I was away at college, but the bold move likely had less to do with my pursuit of excellence or newfound independence, and more to do with finding a new barber. Or maybe it was because I had a campus doppelganger, and I thought that dude looked dumb, and Phil would laugh every time he saw him, which felt like Phil was mocking me on a 4-year cycle. Or maybe it was my girlfriend’s suggestion, or maybe that was the first relationship I felt could survive a botched attempt, or maybe she gave me the confidence to try it. Or maybe I realized I wasn’t attempting to retouch the Sistine Chapel so much as I was demolishing the Kingdome.

I finally entrusted some foreign lady at a mall Supercuts to rearrange it into an approximation of the late ‘90s George Clooney Roman haircut -- removing the side-part and letting it flop down my head. My girlfriend broke up with me --- but that was months later, long after she whole-heartedly approved the new style. Once a girl told me she loved it, I wasn’t going to change it again, and that’s why I still have it 14 years later, and that’s why it’ll stay this way until my wife says otherwise.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Internet Browsing Club - October 2012

Mindy Kaling’s new show is good so far. Her mother died of pancreatic cancer as the show was being developed. In an interview with Vulture, she talked about some advice her mom gave her, which is very good advice, so much so that I’m surprised it isn’t a cliche? Why haven’t I heard this particular advice before?
she sat down with a pen and paper and asked her mother to give her all the advice she could possibly give her before she died, and Kaling realized she’d never be able to ask her mother for advice again. “I said to her, ‘Mom, I’m going to be so lonely without you.’” She’s crying now but keeps going. “And she just said, ‘You have to be your own best friend. If you always remember that, you will always have someone there with you.’”

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The AV Club provides these astounding Linkin Park facts:
Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory has been certified diamond, meaning it’s sold over 10 million copies since its release in 2000. According to Billboard, the record is just the 20th album to go diamond since SoundScan began tracking sales in 1991. Hybrid Theory sold 3,000 copies last week alone, meaning there were 3,000 people dumb enough to buy a new copy of a record that they could get used on Amazon for $.01.

* * *

NPR had an interesting interview with a guy about the MP3 format. Approximately every music format has had a lifespan of 30 years; the MP3 is about 15 years old.

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Some Utah inmates got botulism from prison wine, “pruno”:
Several batches of pruno were reportedly in circulation among inmates at the time of the outbreak. Pruno batch A was made with oranges, grapefruit, canned fruit, water, powdered drink mix (a source of sugar), and a baked potato. Among these ingredients, the baked potato was the only ingredient used in brew A that was not used in simultaneously circulating pruno batches. Consequently, preparation of baked potatoes in the prison kitchen and methods used to prepare brew A were the primary focus of the field investigation...
The inmate who prepared brew A reported the potato was removed from a meal tray, stored at ambient temperature for an undetermined number of weeks in either a sealed plastic bag or jar obtained from the commissary, peeled using his fingernails, and added to a plastic bag containing other ingredients a few days before brew A consumption. The ingredients were fermented in this bag for several days before being distributed to other inmates in resealable plastic bags. Toxin likely was produced when the potato was added to a bag containing low-acidity pruno ingredients under warm, anaerobic conditions during pruno fermentation. Warm conditions commonly are obtained by placing the bagged mixture in warm water and insulating the bag with clothing, towels, or bedding (2). Plastic bags and jars used in pruno fermentation are easily accessible to inmates. Laundry and items purchased from the commissary are delivered in plastic bags and foods packaged in jars and resealable bags can be purchased from the commissary. During the investigation, many types of plastic bags and jars were observed in cells.
In addition to clinical morbidity, the outbreak resulted in considerable cost to Utah taxpayers. These included hospital charges of nearly $500,000; secure emergency transport and correctional facility monitoring at hospital A; and local, state, and federal public health and correctional facility resources for the investigation.

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Anybody read the K-State Entomology Newsletter? Just me? The July 27 issue filled me in about the huge wasps I’d seen buzzing around my house:

We are receiving numerous inquiries regarding large wasps flying around. These are primarily the eastern cicada killer, Sphecius speciosus, which is actually considered a beneficial insect because it regulates cicada populations...The female locates and stings a large insect such as a cicada or katydid and then brings the “prize” back to the burrow. Observing a cicada killer female dragging a large, immobilized cicada across the ground to a nest is a very impressive natural event :)
The female then places the paralyzed insect into a chamber and lays an egg on the surface of the paralyzed insect; sometimes she places two paralyzed insects in a burrow but lays an egg on only one. The female cicada killer eventually covers the burrow, digs another, and repeats the process. The egg hatches into legless grub-like larva that consumes the paralyzed insect. Full-grown larvae overwinter in the burrow, pupate in the spring, and emerge as an adult during the summer; usually July and August...
Cicada killers are unlikely to sting a person.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Bagel Bites

Did you know bagels are like, 300 calories? And that's before you cover them with cream cheese? That doesn't seem fair. That's practically cinnamon roll territory.

Speaking of cinnamon, I tried apple cinnamon Cheerios for the first time last week. (Last week was pretty huge for me, breakfast-wise.) They're pretty good!

Did you know Ben & Jerry originally planned to make bagels, but the startup costs were too big, so they switched to ice cream? It's a fact, Jack.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Bowl Of Cookies

We didn't have a lot of sugary cereals growing up, and when I arrived at college Cracklin' Oat Bran stole my heart before that garbage could.

And that's how a 33-year-old man came to purchase and eat Cookie Crisp for the first time this past Saturday.

It really does taste like chocolate chip cookies! The worst kind! Like, the brand below the generic store brand.