Monday, February 21, 2011

Who chopped the cherry tree?

Happy President's Day celebrating our one and only George Washington, perhaps the greatest hero in American history.

When I was a kid my grade school teachers told stories about Washington that now seem overly simplistic and moralistic. The Cherry Tree story goes something like this: Little George gets a hatchet and likes to chop down stuff with it. One day he chops down his father's favorite cherry tree, but tells no one. Then later when his father asks him if he knows who did it, GW responds, "Father, I cannot tell a lie; I cut the tree.'' His father tells him he'd always rather know the truth and forgives him for what he did.

Unfortunately the story is all a fabrication published in a biography by Mason Locke Weems. So why on earth do we tell this to children? Weren't there enough good things he actually did that we don't need to go making up tales to tell our children?
George Washington's reputation as a man of moral fortitude reveals more about America's view of morality than it does about the man himself. Washington was an exceedingly bland heroic leader, embodying an eighteenth-century ideal of republican virtue that emphasized duty, sacrifice and honorable disinterest. Flamboyance and daring were emphatically not required. Washington's virtue was admirable, but not overly interesting. Perhaps this is why the most famous example of his fortitude of character is, in fact, just fiction.
I guess morality is bland (and chopped cherry trees have a way of spicing it up). The power is in the (fictional?) narrative.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Laser Tag

Pow Pow Pew Pew Ping. Deactivated.

Ahh, the sound of laser tag! One is never too old to shoot lasers at complete strangers in dark maze of obstacles and black lights. A groupon had a laser tag deal for half off 3 games in Baltimore so I grouponed that. So fun! If you go to play, make sure you wear dark clothes...unless you want be glowing human target. The funniest part was how good the 8 year olds there were. Must be all those video games they play. Gosh, they're violent!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Commuting Hell

I'm sitting in Panera Bread right now while waiting for traffic to die down. I have my free coffee right beside me. All I had to do was open a mypanera card (for free). Recommended for all fellow bread addicts.

I have a long daily commute and my patience for traffic is wearing thin. I spend somewhere between 2.5-3 hours in my car a day; and that includes beating rush hour in the morning and waiting it out at night. I have been forced to organize my entire life around traffic. If I were to attempt the DC beltway during peak hours I'd be spending no less than 4 hours a day in my car. That is quite unbearable.

I remember some happiness studies I read awhile ago that suggested the length of your commute is directly correlated to your level of happiness. I still consider my self "happy," but I can understand why long commutes bring people down. I'm in the process of finding productive things I do while driving to take the misery out of it all. Note: painting my fingernails, reading journal articles, and napping have all been ruled out.

I enjoyed this blurb for The Atlantic Wire:
What About Commuting? At The Frontal Cortex, Jonah Lehrer confirms that a long commute is directly correlated to unhappiness before exploring a more interesting question: Why? "One reason is that it's a painful ritual we never get used to - the flow of traffic is inherently unpredictable," he posits. "As a result, we don't habituate to the suffering of rush hour." Lehrer contends the daily unknown of commuting explains its incongruity with human happiness, quoting Harvard professor Daniel Gilbert: "Driving in traffic is a different kind of hell every day."
One never knows what tomorrow holds.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Step into Marrakesh

I had a great Valentine's day this year. Best one ever! I came home to a huge box delivered straight to my door, full of goodies--flowers, teddy bear, card, chocolates--the whole works.

Then I got treated to a seven course dinner at Marrakesh in DC. The food just kept coming. As soon as they took away a plate, another one came full of more scrumptious Moroccan delicacies. And then there was mint tea to top it all off.

The entrance is an ornate golden door that you must knock on to gain entrance and the inside is beautifully decorated. We ended up staying long enough to catch 2 belly dance performances; and I've decided that girl has an awesome job, getting paid to wear beautiful costumes and do ab exercises (my next career? heh heh). Overall, our entire dining experience lasted over 2 and half hours. For Valentine's, a perfect evening.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Love is in the Air

To all of you hopeless romantics out there, today is your day! The one day of year you can ooze with mushy gushy expressions of fairy tale love and warm fuzzy sweetheart cheer. The one day you can prove your dedication for your snookum with the obligatory commercial tokens of true love.

Happy Valentine's Day Sweet Things!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Online Dating

Ever have that friend that wants to hook you up with her best friend's cute guy friend? Or worse, are you that friend? I think everyone has a secret desire to play matchmaker if he/she thinks they have the resources to help others find romantic bliss. Tell me you haven't ever considered individuals you know who might be a match for that person in your life who you've deemed needs a significant other?

We all love to play Cupid, and as Valentine's day approaches, we love it even more. So let me get out my arrows and shoot a few in your direction. If you're single and ready to mingle, try out OkCupid which caters to the young adult crowd in their 20s and 30s. It was [unfortunately?] just bought by for $50 million. So they must have been doing something right. And while you're at it, check out their amazing blog, OkTrends. Internet dating doesn't have the "omg, i'm freakin' desperate" stigma it might have had in the 90s. Everybody is doing it.

And in fact some sources, yeah ok, dating site sources, claim that "17% of couples married in the last 3 years, or 1 in 6, met each other on an online dating site." And, the online dating industry is worth about 1.049 billion dollars a year which surprisingly beats out even the porn industry.

Online dating expands your network for meeting people. It doesn't solve relationship issues or weed out the losers. You still have to do that yourself. It is a tool that lots of people are using to find the type of relationship they want with the type of person they want. I think it is the least talked about (yet most exciting?) form of social networking to transform modern society.

With Valentine's day right around the corner, why not give it a try?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Top 10 Super Bowl XLV Commercials

The commercials this year were a good bunch.

My prognostication for the best ad was far off though, Lipton's Eminem commercial was a disappointment. My top 10 favorites were as follows (with links for you to watch):

10. Doritos--Finger Licking Why you should wear your nice underwear to work.
9. Audi--Release the Hounds Prison doesn't seem so bad.
8. Coca-Cola--Border Crossing Crosses the line.
7. CarMax--I Feel Like Acrobat in a mattress store.
6. Bridgestone--Beaver He's got your back.
5. Doritos--House Sitting Never kill your friend's fish while he's gone.
3. CareerBuilder--Chimps Stuck between a bad job and a hard place?
2. Bridgestone--Reply all Every emailer's nightmare.
1. Doritos--Pug Don't taunt your girlfriend's dog.

USA Today's Ad Meter agreed with my top choice. Doritos had an excellent line up again in 2011. 3 of theirs were in my top 10. GoDaddy's were characteristically bad as usual, but worse were Pepsi's ads. They were violent and morally questionable, although I think they were catered to the male audience watching the football game.

The game was quite disappointing for us Steeler's fan, but at least the commercials could cheer us up at least a little.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Add up the Ads

Who's getting excited about the Super Bowl on Sunday? And by Super Bowl I mean Super Bowl commercials of course.

You know you can always expect good ads during the Super Bowl. Generally speaking it's a good bet, a company wouldn't spend 3 million dollars on 30 seconds of bad advertising. At $100,000 a second; that's no chump change. They are likely going to do something inventive, creative, eye-catching, funny, weird, or unpredictable. I'm giddy just at the thought. This is the one time of the year you don't want to run to the bathroom during commercial breaks. Go during the game.

Plus, I think this year's prospects show that our economy is bouncing back. As NESN reports, "This year's Super Bowl ad slot sales have seen a dramatic boost from last year, as Fox sold all 68 spots in October. Last season, there were still ad slots available six days before kickoff in Miami."

Any bets on who is going to have the best, worst, and most ads? I'm going for Lipton, GoDaddy, and Bud Weiser respectively. Check back for my post-game commercial analysis next week.

P.S. Go Steelers!

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Before I had a GPS I didn't know what I was missing. Now that I've experienced the freedom and security of having one, I would never want to go back. I tended to get lost a lot pre-GPS.

What did people do in the days before GPS? I suppose I did mapquest before this Christmas, but whole lot of good a set of printed-out directions did me if there was construction or I made a wrong turn while on the road. But even before internet-based trip planners, what did people use to get from point A to point B?

Ugh, Paper maps. The horror! They were barbaric now that I think about it. Forget trying to navigate somewhere alone. If you wanted to look at the map you had to have a buddy in the passenger's seat do it or pull over. Plus you had better packed your magnifying glass, because it's going to take 15 minutes to find the name of the intersection you're located at in that tiny tiny print. Plus, in many areas, paper maps could get out of date very quickly. Not mention, it couldn't tell you where the nearest gas station is or show you the exit number for the road you need to take. My GPS even alerts me if I'm going over the speed limit on the road I am on, but I had to turn that beeping off because it became overwhelming, heh heh.

I find the GPS services fascinating.
The Global Positioning System is a constellation of over 24 U.S. Government satellites providing PNT [positioning, navigation, and timing] services to civilian and military users on a continuous, worldwide basis -- free of direct user charges. The system provides highly accurate location and time information to anyone equipped with a GPS receiver.
I just wonder for how much longer the services will be free?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Groundhog Day

It's that time of year again! Februrary 2nd. Groundhog day!

Will the nation's beloved groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, see his shadow today? If so, that will mean we will have six more weeks of winter, and if he doesn't see his shadow that means spring is right around the corner.

That little big rodent better not see any shadows!

Looking through Google images from our groundhog day event makes me think what strange traditions we have...

Addendum: Groundhog didn't see his shadow. Spring is near! Yaaaay.