Friday, November 6, 2009

Best Luck of My Life

Jenny and I played poker tonight.

I had the best luck I've ever had in my life.

I never win poker.  I always get crap cards.

But tonight?  Tonight alone I got a straight five separate times.


Too bad we were playing for pasta, burned out fuses, and granola bars.

(EDIT: And not a single schlichengrüber!)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

What Time Is It?

Thanks to Sweden, I can't tell time anymore.

No, seriously.

In so many different ways.

Let's start with daylight savings.  Or lack thereof.  We set the clocks back earlier than the US, which means winter hours started even sooner here.  Now that the clocks have set back, the sun officially sets before 4 pm these days.

3:56 pm today, to be precise.

In one month, it will be setting at 3 pm.  And it won't rise again until almost 9 am.

Right now, it gets pitch black by 4:30.  It's lunchtime here and I only have a few hours of sunlight left in the day.

My body clock refuses to catch up.  I can't tell what time of day it is anymore.  I look around in the dark, swear it must be almost midnight, and look at a clock only to discover it's dinnertime.

And the dates?  Just one more thing...

I grew up with the American system, which - no surprise - is different than how everyone else in the world does it.  Today is November 5, 2009 or 11/05/09.  But not here.  It's 5 November 2009.  Or 05/11/09.  Or maybe 09/11/05.  If you ask someone to write the month and day, you get day and month.  But when they ask for your birth date on a form, you write year then month then day.  I start getting lost in it all.  Every time I see a number, I first see it with 27 years of American eyes, then try to correct it for the new system... usually incorrectly.

I can't tell whether our milk expires next week or already did sometime in last year.

I can't wait for October 10 of next year, when I can once again be guaranteed that I won't screw up writing the date.

And then there's actually asking or telling the time, which I try to avoid like the plague.  I have successfully avoided learning this so far when studying Swedish with Jenny.  It seems silly to me, so my brain tries to shut it out.  But now we're studying it in Swedish class.  So I have to.

Ask me what time it is when I'm in the US and you get a nice, simple, straightforward and efficient answer.

12:35.  Twelve thirty-five.  Three words.  Two numbers.  Easy.

Here?  No such luck.

Fem över halv ett.

Translation: Five past half of one.


Everything else is quarter past or five til or ten of...

And this doesn't even begin to address my brain's half-second that it needs every time it sees military time because everything here is on the 24-hour clock.

And there's still my constant thinking in terms of time zones whether I am thinking of Illinois, where my family and most friends are (7 hours behind), or San Francisco, where other friends are (9 hours behind), or New York and the east coast (6 hours behind) or Denver, where my brother lives (8 hours behind).

Of course, until the clocks rolled back in the US last weekend, there were a few weeks where I had to retrain myself to think of things in terms of 6, 8, 5, and 7 hours behind, respectfully.

Oh, and let's not forget the times of the day as well.

If it is 7 am, officially morgon or "morning," I would say godmorgon or "good morning."  So, then i morgon, which literally means "in the morning", must mean "in the morning", right?


It means "tomorrow."

And then there's middag, commonly known as "noon" in the US.  That word has two meanings as well.  It's also a meal.

Oh, so it must mean "lunch", right?

No, silly.  It means "dinner".  Lunch means "lunch".

Which is pronounced "loonch".  Or loon/sj/, which is a sound I can't properly type out on this American keyboard and also can't properly make with these American lips.  It's kind of like the noise you would make if you were blowing out a candle while also throwing in a quiet "H" and "W".

So, just to clarify, you eat lunch at middag which is followed by the time known as eftermiddag which is immediately followed by eating middag.

My brain hurts.

I'm gonna take a nap.

Wake me up...




I watched the series premiere of "V" last night, hoping for some flashbacks of watching it as a child when the original TV series aired.

Instead, I got what seemed to me (keep in mind, I am hopelessly paranoid) to be clumsy digs at the Obama administration.

Whether thinly veiled (a skeptical priest commenting that it is just to convenient for some "savior" showing up just when people need hope the most) to the outright blatant ("You mean universal healthcare?" the TV news personality to the Visitors saying they want to provide care for the world's sick)... well... it was all rather silly.

I'm not one to usually get upset about criticism of the government.  I think it is a great and essential part of the system necessary to keep as much of a balance as possible.  But, really?  Make the issues of Hope and Universal Healthcare the most suspicious deeds perpetrated by evil alien invaders intent on exterminating the human race?  Is that the best that can be done?

Pick something else... anything...  I mean, as truly exhilarating as it is to have a television show where one of the most dramatic lines involves the use of the term "universal healthcare", let's not forget that there is plenty of good - albeit, certainly less dramatic - fodder out there.

For example, the current anti-counterfeit treaty being drawn up by the administration, which is really more of a copyright treaty, the ramifications of which could be ridiculously far-reaching and damaging to the issue of free speech on the internet.  Or any other of a dozen other issues we could choose to focus on pressuring the administration and Congress to do better with other than the evil Bringing Far Too Much Hope To The People and (cue dramatic music) Ensuring Quality Healthcare For Those Unable To Afford The Current Options.

And you, TV?  Yeah, you.  I know you suck for the most part and offer mostly mindless drivel designed purely for the sale of advertising space and I should always strive to keep my expectations painfully low.  But please... get your shit together.

Of course, I suppose I'll be the one eating crow when Obama pulls off his mask and ends up being a Socialist Reptilian Space Invader from Beyond.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009


Billy Mays recently died and the official investigation concluded that his death was a direct result of cocaine abuse.  Billy Mays' widow hired an independent medical examiner to investigate her late husband's death.  The medical examiner has just announced that cocaine use "did not contribute" to his death. 


The man was 50 years old and died of heart failure.  At the time of his death, there was cocaine in his system, which lasts around 3 days or so (well, there was cocaine... and Vicodin... and oxycodone... and tramadol... and Xanax... and Valium...).

And he also talked like this... all the time:

Never underestimate the power of denial

I guess I just always assumed he was doing coke.

But then I remembered that lots of healthy individuals with systems full of various pharmaceuticals and illicit substances fall over and die of "natural causes" at age fifty all the time.

My bad.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

You Know What Bugs Me?


Particularly when I spend so long writing something off and on that I miss editing something correctly and end up with ridiculous mistakes posted on the Interweb for everyone to see. 

Then, of course, I go back to correct it.  But I know that no one is going to see it all fixed.  No.  They will always see it as the tragic mistake that I let happen. 

Sometimes I can be such a moorn. 



Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Science is Awesome and Makes Me Smile

What follows is a news story so awesomely awesome that it gives me a nervous giggle from the sheer awesomeness of it all.


The New York Times just published an essay, The Collider, the Particle, and a Theory About Fate, discussing the theoretical possibility that The Future itself is sabotaging the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.

Here's how it breaks down:

Two (previously) well-regarded physicists, Holger Bech Nielsen of the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen and Masao Ninomiya of the Yukawa Institute for Theoretical Physics in Kyoto, began posting papers with titles such as "Test of Effect From Future in Large Hadron Collider: a Proposal” and “Search for Future Influence From LHC” on a physics website postulating the idea that The Future would keep science from detecting the presence of the Higgs boson.


The Standard Model of particle physics, the generally accepted model of How It All Works (by generally accepted, I mean that it is likely not accepted by Young Earthers, birthers, or this guy (although, to be fair, plenty of people have donned tin foil hats and are perfectly sane)), describes the essential particles that make up our universe such as photons, gluons, and fermions* like quarks and leptons.  Every piece of the Standard Model has been observed and supported by years of scientific study... except the Higgs boson.  It is the last piece of the puzzle and continues to elude scientists.

The Higgs boson** would help explain the origin of mass in the universe and would basically explain the fine details of how electromagnetism and weak nuclear force really work.  It has been called the "God Particle" in popular culture.  Nielsen has even suggested that if there is a God, He hates Higgs bosons and tries to avoid them.

So, yeah, it's kind of a big deal.

The Higgs boson would also probably wear this shirt 
out to bars on the weekend and put on way too much cologne.

And, apparently, the Higgs boson might just be aware of its status.

Nielsen and Ninomiya predict that the Higgs boson could be such a big deal that merely bringing one into existence might have disastrous results.  Maybe even worse than crossing streams...

So, Nielsen and Ninomiya theorize that somehow the universe, through some sort of unknown fail-safe mechanism, is reaching back in time from The Future to halt experiments and prevent Total Protonic Reversal.  They started writing about this back in 2007, citing examples of failed projects and experiments like the United States Superconducting Supercollider, which were designed to find the Higgs boson.

They were openly mocked for this theory.

Then, last September, the Large Hadron Collider was turned on and began to experiment (finding the Higgs boson was its first goal) but was quickly came to a screeching halt just over a week later due to a malfunction which caused massive amounts of damage.  They planned to bring it back online within two months but problem after problem have kept that from happening.

Of course, Nielsen and Ninomiya are still openly mocked.  Probably having something to do with the fact that they have proposed, as an experiment to see if The Future is attempting to keep the Higgs boson from being discovered, that CERN create a giant deck of cards (as in number of cards... not gimmicky, over-sized, magic trick props) with a tiny fraction of the cards marked as "Abandon the LHC Higgs boson experiments"... or something similar.  They say if The Future is trying to prevent us from crossing streams, we will keep drawing the "Abandon the experiments cards".

And that is why science is awesome.

Because, as far out there as this theory is, I still find it absolutely fascinating and exciting.  Some scientists risking their careers to talk about some batshit crazy scenario which doesn't seem to have any chance to ever be proven correct.

And that's why it is so much fun.  Because we live in a world full of reckless individuals, spouting all kinds of batshit crazy theories which are based on hatred and agendas.

"Finally, a man who says what people who aren't thinking are thinking."

I look around on a daily basis and find myself in a world where people say ignorant, inflammatory, and downright dumbshit things.

Thankfully, there are some people around to help counteract it all... people who help me get my giggle on almost as much as the story I was originally writing about.

See, because in the end, believing that The Future coming to our present to keep us from destroying ourselves is more than just a side story in an amazing Pynchon novel.  It's also fun-filled theory about possibilities that, while potentially batshit crazy, are ultimately harmless.  And exciting to read about.  And utterly devoid of hate.

Besides, as we all know:

There is a theory that states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something more bizarre and inexplicable.

There is another which states that this has already happened.

*Fermions respect the Pauli Exclusion Principle - yet another piece of science created by Wolfgang Pauli.

**Seriously, if you have any problem with information pulled from Wikipedia, why the hell are you reading a blog entry by me, of all people, about the latest crazy idea in physics?  Hell, if I don't have enough information for one of these, I just make stuff up and I don't even give credit to people when I use their pictures.
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