Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Information Overload

In the fall I wrote about broadcasts that display entirely too much information on the screen at once. At the time, it looked like Hurricane Gustav might follow the same path as Katrina, so keeping weather-related information on the screen made some sense.

How many discrete pieces of information can you find?

But today nothing is going on! Still, Fox News Channel has 12 distinct blocks of information that are constantly changing, rotating, spinning, or otherwise moving. And in case there isn't enough to adequately stimulate your senses, each block has some sort of animated background or border.

Did you find all 12?

Norvartis, are you watching this? Your ads should be all over this broadcast like Pfizer's are Larry King Live.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Chivalry is alive and well in New York, and it is imported from Staten Island

Kelley, her niece Fay and I were going out for lunch today. I met them at the Whitehall subway station at a time that just happened to coincide with one of the large crowds of people who regularly shuffle past the station.

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In case you are unfamiliar with subway stops in lower Manhattan, this station is located on Whitehall Street, which is the main street that people walk along in order to get from the Staten Island ferry to most of the subway lines that stop downtown. Twice an hour, large crowds of people empty from the ferry terminal onto Whitehall Street.

Unlike a lot of crowds in New York, these crowds are made up of predominantly New Yorkers, meaning they are rude and obnoxious. You get these groups of teenagers who walk 5 abreast, block the entire sidewalk, and get big attitudes if you do anything but scramble to get out of their way.

"Get out of my way," said a woman as she pushed me.
"Don't push me," I yelled out at her as she walked away.
"Then get out of my way," she said.
"Don't push me," I repeated, determined not to let her be the big mouth to get in the last word.

At this point, a group of 3 greasy haired guys approached me and started to defend this girl's honor:

"Yo man, everything ok? Everything ok?"
"She's a woman, dog. Don't talk like that to a woman."
"You got a problem?"

Nothing came of their challenges. They were just trying to look tough to one another. I was mainly being a big mouth for Fay's benefit. She's been stranded in New York for several days due to flight cancellations, and she's been housebound in Brooklyn for all of that time. I wanted her first trip back into the city to be memorable.

Monday, December 22, 2008


At first I was tempted to just post this picture with no explanation. Sometimes being a man of mystery is exciting. Not everything needs to be explained. Maybe I want the reader to draw his own conclusion about how a certain item entered my life.

Enemator is an anthropomorphic enema, and this is his calendar.

Then I realized I'm writing about a picture of an enema. A playful enema, for sure, but an enema, nonetheless. This is how rumors start.

And then I considered the actual circumstance under which I saw this calendar, and I decided that I would risk the rumors.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A puzzle even a puzzle lover would hate

I was in Borders today and I saw this. Looks like fun!

Puzzle of the cover of the White Album from The Beatles, which is, uh, completely white.

In case you can't tell, it's a white puzzle. And by "looks like fun", I mean compared to ripping up a piece of typing paper and trying to piece it back together.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

My Vodka Taste-Test

As someone with an incredibly dull sense of taste and smell, I am intrigued by people who are able to detect differences in food that I never could. Even though I know that people can tell the difference between similar products, part of me is always suspicious of their claims, especially when it comes to items that are consumed while intoxicated.

Kelley and her sister Laurie are vodka drinkers who prefer Ketel One. I've always wondered why they like that brand. It was time to put their claims of Ketel One's status as the superior vodka to the test. Jordan, Kelley and Laurie's nephew, was around, so he decided to play along too.

The menu: Smirnoff, Stoli, Eco 360, Ketel One and Absolut.

Laurie and I went to the liquor store and selected the brands that would be used. Since my hypothesis was that they wouldn't like Ketel One better than other vodkas, we had to select Ketel One. I determined that the best way to test my hypothesis would be to serve Ketel One along with the following:
  • A vodka they claim to like - Stolichnaya
  • A vodka they say is ok - Smirnoff
  • A vodka they claim to dislike - Absolut
  • A vodka they have never tried - Eco 360. This brand caught our attention because it looked like its color was green. It wasn't, it was just the bottle that was green.
I had Kelley, Laurie and Jordan rank each of the vodkas they were about to try. Here's the pre-taste-test preferences:

TasterKetel OneAbsolutEco 360SmirnoffStolichnaya

While everyone was ranking the brands, I prepared the test. I got 15 dixie cups and separated them into groups of 5. Then I numbered each cup 1 through 5. I poured 1/3 of the first vodka into the cups numbered 1, 1/3 of the second vodka into the cups number 2, etc.

Jordan, Kelley and Laurie before the tasting began.

I brought each taster one set of cups. They could drink the samples in whatever order they preferred. They got some bread, crackers and water to help cleanse their palates. I asked them to rank the drinks, and to try to write a description of the taste of each vodka.

I can't say if the results really validate my hypothesis. I am impressed with Kelley's ability to stay true to her predictions. Laurie was pretty good too, and Jordan wasn't bad at all.

Here are the results. The prediction is in parenthesis:

TasterKetel OneAbsolutEco 360SmirnoffStolichnaya
Kelley2 (1)
5 (5)
4 (4)
1 (2)
3 (3)
Laurie3 (1)4 (5)5 (4)2 (3)1 (2)
Jordan3 (1)2 (3)5 (5)1 (4)4 (2)

And here are the taste notes:

TasterKetel OneAbsolutEco 360SmirnoffStolichnaya
brittle, stark
don't like
no taste
Jordanno clean flavor

sharp, clean

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Taffeta's weight loss secret

Yesterday we took our cat to the vet. According to the doctor, Taffeta weighs 7.1 lbs, which is down from 8 lbs in August. I looked through the records from previous appointments and was surprised to find that she weighed 12 lbs in the summer of 2006.

This morning, Kelley discovered the reason for the dramatic weight loss: Taffeta is bulimic.

According to the vet, her thyroid is fine and her kidney activity is above normal. Neither of these test results explains her weight loss. The doctor thinks something else is going on, but it's hard to know what.

There appears to be two choices when dealing with a sick cat: go test crazy or go pill crazy. I'm opting for the more economical "go pill crazy" option. Taffeta will soon be taking steroids. If this helps her gain some weight, I hope it comes in the form of super-feline muscularture.