Sunday, December 28, 2008

All I got for Christmas

There aren't many better ways to know what people's perceptions of you are than to see what they got you for Christmas. Here's my loot-list for this year:

I'll let you make your own judgments as to what sort of person I am based on this list.

So what gift did you get that best fits your personality?

Life's Little Annoyances

Life's Little Annoyances: True Tales of People Who Just Can't Take It Anymore Life's Little Annoyances: True Tales of People Who Just Can't Take It Anymore by Ian Urbina

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
An interesting, albeit very quick, read, Urbina recounts stories of people who got fed up at the little annoyances of everyday life (excessive cell phone charges, tailgaters, telemarketers) and decided to do something about it. In general, the stories read more like accounts of grumpy people who are just being ornery, but a few of the entries are humorous and even useful. My personal favorite: the guy who adjusted the sprayer on his car's rear window to spray onto cars that are tailgating.

A moderately entertaining distraction, but not a book to approach too seriously.

View all my reviews.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Great commercial

For some reason, this video makes me totally happy. The song is "Let Your Love Flow" by the Bellamy Brothers and I just downloaded it from Amazon.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Beards of Our Forefathers

Wondermark: Beards of our Forefathers Wondermark: Beards of our Forefathers by David Malki

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
Wondermark is a webcomic written by David Malki in which he adds dialogue to reprints of Victorian-era panels. In principle, the idea sounds ridiculous, but the humor comes in applying modern-day issues and speech to what are, effectively, really old pictures. It's certainly a unique brand of humor, but I've found it significantly smarter than most webcomics out there (which isn't saying much), without being snooty or condescending.

Beards of Our Forefathers is just a print collection of the comics that have appeared online, with some commentary and additional content added by the author. It's a great, light-hearted, easy read that definitely draws out a few belly laughs.

View all my reviews.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Areas of My Expertise

The Areas of My Expertise, by John Hodgman

This is by far one of the most random, bizarre, and yet still funny books I've ever read. Hodgman (the PC from those "I'm a Mac, and I'm a PC" commercials) has written an almanac, in the old Benjamin Franklin style. The catch is: everything is completely made up. He talks about the discovery of the furry lobster, and recounts how hobos took over the country for several years at the middle of the 19th century. I know, it doesn't sound like it makes any sense, and that's because IT DOESN'T. If you could take the randomness of a Douglas Adams book and combine it with the journalistic integrity of Dave Barry, and then somehow make it even more bizarre, you'd have something approaching this book.

But here's the catch - it's still kind of funny. You get to reading, and you just sit there and shake your head because none of it makes any sense, but you keep reading, and the sheer ridiculousness starts to get to you. When you're reading his 400-entry list of hobo names, you start giggling once you get past the first hundred.

This book is NOT for everyone. You've got to be in a mood for something well-written but completely silly.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Pet peeves

  • “Its” is a possesive pronoun. Example: “I took its candy and ate it while it cried.”
  • “It’s” is a contraction of “it is.” Example: “It’s not fair that I took its candy, but such is life.”
  • “Your” is a possesive pronoun. Example: “Give me your candy.”
  • “You’re” is a contraction of “you are.” Example: “You’re going to give me your candy or you’re going to receive a sound beating.”
  • “There” is used like “here.”
  • “Their” means “it belongs to them.”
  • “They’re” is a contraction of “they are.”
  • “i.e.” is an abbreviation of the Latin “id est,” meaning “that is.”
  • “e.g.” is an abbrevation of the Latin “exempli gratia,” meaning “for example.”
  • These two terms are not interchangeable.
  • “Thou” is a second-person prounoun, equivalent to “you,” but not when used as a direct object. Use it as you would use “I.” “Thou took my candy” is correct. “I took the candy from thou” is not correct. For that case you would use:
  • “Thee.” Equivalent to you when used as a direct object. Use it as you would use “me.” “I took the candy from thee” is correct.
  • “Thy” is a possesive pronoun, equivalent to “your.”

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Not a geography major

I just had the following exchange with a Sprint operator:

“I’d like to know how much it would cost to place a call to Austria from my cell phone.”

“Of course, sir, I can help you with that. Where did you say you wanted to call?”



“No, Austria.”

“Can you spell that, please?”


“Okay, please hold, sir.”

Three-minute hold.

“Thanks for holding, sir. I have the information about your call to Aus… Austra.. Aus…”


“I can’t even say it!”