1. Why driving drunk is safer than walking drunk | You don't believe? Neither did I, click on the link and read...
2. The most remote places on earth | A map, the Tibetan Plateau will get you 5 days away from civilization.
3. What are the odds that the best chess player in the world has never played chess? | Interesting question, same argument could be held for basketball, rocket science, square dancing, etc...
4. Kurt Vonnegut explains drama | Ideas on life from one of the great writers of the last century.
My second inclination was to make a 'Best Songs of 2009' compiltion. Best as in-- truly the best songs from the year, taking originality, musicianship, ingentuity, and every other abstract quality you can think of into the equation, pulling a Rolling Stones Magazine or Pitchfork, heaving forth long-winded justifications for songs that no one really knows why are in the top 10 anyway (but now that trend-mongering writers have had the final word, they are 'cultural relics of our generation'). Since I could not bring myself to take part in that, I default to listing my favorite songs of the year. Simple and straighforward, I wont even provide any written justification for my picks, no text to slog through, just handed to you on a silver platter.
So kick back, let the music stoke one last fire of 2009 hurrah in the heart, sit then by the metaphorical hearthside and warm the metaphorical soul.
The Music, in no particular order...
Animal Collective - Summertime Clothes
If your anything like me, whenever you find yourself at an establishment that serves food in unlimited quantities, namely a buffet of sorts, your mind shifts itself into its most analytical and strategic state. Be it a combination of hunger and festive bounty, or the rush of adrenaline that accompanies the determination of your own portions in unlimited quantity and variety-- the male soul must squeeze out every last dime of the buffet cover charge coughed up at the door , with no heed paid to the misery that follows post-meal.
Take your pick, American, sushi, pizza, breakfast, or even the event oriented buffet (i.e. weddings, graduations, Christmas parties, funerals), any buffet, any country, and style-- the basic foundation of the buffet remains the same. Fundamentally, the idea is to appeal to the American psyche of 'i want everything now'. These establishments make bank when grandma comes in, pays $10 to get an egg with salt and pepper, they contribute their fair share to the landfills and the demise of our planet when the classic overzealous, eyes are bigger than my stomach, patron makes his rounds, and to even it all out when the 'i-really-can-eat-alot-and-am-fatter-than-sin' customer shows his face, the buffet industry must write off billions of dollars in anticipation of these fellows. Then of course there is the outlier, the indivdual who goes into his meal mentally, physically, and emotionally prepared, the man who has a strategy and knows the ropes. This chap can put down far more food than any of the former. This man could be you (given an understanding of whats at stake).
'Eating the Road' blog provides an unparalleled preparation and tactical guide. I will attempt to abbreviate its message-- consider the following:
Objective - Some are out to “get their money’s worth” by ingesting the most amount of the costliest items. Others would like to sample small amounts of dozens of different dishes. While still others may want to eat as much of their favorite item as they can possibly do in one sitting.
A tried and true method is to dedicate a large portion of the meal to high cost items, while sampling things that look tasty and also making sure that I get to those items that I know and love. Either way, understand this and have goals.
Preparation - A healthy body is a hungry body, make sure you mark your buffet visit on the calendar with a big golden star a few days prior. Ensure that you are absent of any illness or physical injury that would inhibit overall bodily well being. The night before, consume a meal of light breads and vegetables to expand the stomach and drink plenty of liquids, especially water-- this will assist in maintaining maximum stomach size building up to the important date.
To compliment the expansion of the stomach and overall fitness of the body, you will need to make sure that your metabolism peaks during the time you will be consuming your meal. It would be advisable to take part in large amount of cardio exercise preferably running, biking or swimming. This should be done several hours before as you’ll want some time for your body to rest.
We also need to consider proper attire. You’ll want comfortable shoes, running or walking shoes work best. All clothes should be loose fitting, no buttons, belts or zippers. Sweatpants and large t-shirts work best. It’s important to have an expandable or elastic waistband. Wear items with intricate patterns or designs that will disguise spills and stains (unless you don’t mind drawing attention to yourself with the use of a bib). Wear clothes you don’t mind subjecting to dropped food and cooking odors. A point to keep in mind is that many establishments will raise their level of air conditioning to make diners uncomfortable, making them want to leave earlier. With this in mind be sure to bring a sweatshirt and dress in layers.
Obviously it is never advantageous to bring children or the elderly along but I know many buffet meals are family occasions and this cannot be avoided. With that in mind however, it is most efficient to dine with likeminded individuals. You should seek to gather a group that has the same objective in mind as you and is willing to put in the expected work (scouting, preparation, etc.) and time in order to achieve it.
Pre-Meal Setup- First things first, pay immediately upon arrival. explain to the staff that you’ll be getting the buffet and nothing else and that you’d like to take care of payment. That way this will be out of the way and you will not be searching for your server when you’re finished eating.
Before the meal, stick to drinking water and use the first few minutes in the eatery establishing your home base. Gathering any extra napkins and utensils, designating a trash plate on the table, and most importantly acquiring any condiments and sauces that will be necessary throughout the meal. Using soup bowls, you can also take this opportunity to gather large amounts of nacho cheese sauce, gravy, au jus, sweet & sour sauce, or pasta sauces. Any butters, or toppings that you might use a lot of (bacon bits, sunflower seeds, shredded cheese) can also be procured during this time.
Strategy - Now is the time to do your initial scouting. This takes discipline and some patience but will pay off in the end. Be sure to walk the entire length of the buffet including the dessert area. Sometimes you’ll find hidden and unexpected items. With knowledge of the layout and items at handle you can now plan your attack (be sure to make note of the costliest items as well as the most popular, as they will need to be a priority when 'harvest' time comes).
Always use the largest plate they offer. Indeed, that cannot be stress enough-- one is often times tempted or allured by the smaller salad, bread, or desert plates, these are childs play. However, be cautious of piling too many items on one plate. Leave adequate distance between items otherwise they will all meld together and begin to taste the same. Take as many plates as you need, skilled diners can fill three or more in one trip.When it comes to breads, salads, different kinds of rices, and pastas-- use sparingly, do not take up valuable stomach room needlessly.
Tactical line manuvering is also a necessary consideration as many patrons can be possible burdens. The elderly, for instance will certainly get in your way. The excessive hoarder can dampen your plans as well, drying up all rations of fried shrimp or crab legs. As goes for the overweight diner who loads everything up on one plate stopping at each serving tray slowing your progress. It is acceptable to go around slow diners as long as there is room on the other side and you will not be needing to reach back towards the skipped individual. A powerful technique here can be the “accidental” elbow bump in order to encourage them to move on. It is also important to steel yourself from others use of this maneuver.
Try to alternate tastes between plates, this will keep your taste buds stimulated and awake and lessen possible fatigue- also, throughout your meal be sure to keep an eye out for freshly stocked items. Do not be intimidated by owners or servers who seem to glare at your eating technique, typically their bark is worse than their bite and will only stare at you from a distance.
Exit Strategy and Post Game - After enduring this lavish feast, one is, quite naturally, both mentally and physically impaired. Hopefully you were able to snag a parking spot within a short walk, thus cutting down on the excess exertion that you will have to put forth. At all costs, avoid driving yourself home afterward, it is recommended to call either a pre-determined designated driver, or have a friend drive who (in anticipation of transport needs) ordered a entree dish as opposed to taking part in the buffet.
Time at home should be taken for reparation and digestion. Sipping on water and staying awake will expedite this and lesson the effect of the eventual food coma and hangover.
Happy eating! Remember, live and learn-- you will eventually develop some best practices of your own. It is also important that between recovery periods, time is spent engaging in physical activity, so that 5-10 years down the road mothers are not telling their children to 'stop pointing and laughing at the heavy set man, he may be the fattest thing you've ever seen walking, but it still is not polite' or 'no son, you cant take a ride on that mans motor scooter, his leg muscles do not contain enough strength to lift up the large amounts of fat he has developed around his bones in successive motion to independently reach a preset destination, thus his need of the scooter is greater than your joy of riding in it'
*This post certainly falls in to the category of posts with ridiculous morals and uncommon lessons, nineword.com claims no liability to your health or level of obesity, nor any loss revenue at buffet restaurants. Patrons, consume food at your own risk, and proprietors manage your buffets within the confines of modern accounting standards and use the proper level of risk analysis.
These days its to hard to actually write well, its no fun to write a pure, solid brick of bad... however we can derive some(alot of) satisfaction from writing badly well. Joel Stickly demonstrates how. Some of my favorites from his blog:
-Try to convey more in stage directions than is physically possible-
SUSAN: (PERSPICUOUSLY) I wonder where Alan could have got to?
NIGEL: (LUCIDLY) Oh, I wouldn’t worry about him if I were you.
ENTER ALAN, WHO HAS JUST UNDERGONE A PROFOUNDLY MOVING RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE, CAUSING HIM TO SEE THE NATURE OF THE UNIVERSE UNFILTERED BY EMOTION OR DESIRE.
SUSAN: (INCONGRUOUSLY) Alan! There you are!
NIGEL: (SUBTLY INQUISITIVE, YET MAINTAINING AN AIR OF EXAMINED SANGFROID) Hi Alan.
ALAN BRIEFY CONSIDERS HOW BEST TO SHARE HIS NEWFOUND CLARITY OF PURPOSE WITH HIS FRIENDS, BEFORE REACHING THE CONCLUSION THAT THEY MUST EACH FOLLOW THEIR OWN PATH AND SEEK THEIR OWN TRUTH.
-Write thinly-veiled, self-aggrandising autobiographical fiction-
Joe Stockley paced the floor of his office and cursed under his breath. Dammit, he thought, why am I such a brilliant writer that no-one ever understands the depth and complexity of my work? It’s almost as if I’m the only real person in the world and all the other people are just automatons! No, that can’t be (he thought). Can it...?
Just then, he was interrupted by the ringing of his top of the range iPhone 3GS (32GB).
‘Hello?’ he said, his voice booming with a timbre which was capable of simultaneously charming his many admirers and intimidating any who dared oppose him.
‘Hello Joe,’ a mellifluous voice came floating back. ‘It’s your loving wife here.’
‘Hello, my beautiful-beyond-compare, talented and intelligent wife,’ said Joe, his laughter reverberating around the expensive fixtures and fittings of his luxurious house.
The study: A single computer was placed in a monkey enclosure at Paignton Zoo to monitor the literary output of six primates.
Who and when: Students at University of Plymouth, 2003, paid for from a £2,000 Arts Council grant
The aim: To test the "infinite monkey theory", which states that if a monkey hits keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time, it will almost surely type a given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare.
What was learnt: The theory is flawed. After one month - admittedly not an "infinite" amount of time - the monkeys only produced five pages of work, consisting largely of the letter 'S'. The lead male began by bashing the keyboard with a stone, partially destroyed the machine, and the monkeys continued by urinating and defecating on it without regard.
I would agree, monkeys are idiots- they are not random generators. I could say a good deal more about how silly this experiment is, but i'll spare my spar becuase it inspired a good laughter deep in my belly. The idea of monkeys tossed in a room, tapping away to infinity is certianly a concept favored by the old guard in science fiction writing, since dubbed the 'Infinite Monkey Theorum' and has been explored quite thoroughly.
Borges writes of the 'Library of Babel', which depicts a library that contains books consisting of every single possible permutation of characters. The narrator notes that every great work of literature is contained in the library; but these are outnumbered by the flawed works (which are themselves vastly outnumbered by works of pure gibberish). *Quine's Reducito, an interesting commentary on the matter
Asimov scribed a short story in which aliens observing earth remark on our relative slowness of advancement - it took 600,000 generations of monkeys to produce a Shakespeare.
Bradbury, in satire of his predecseors, wrote a short story about monkeys in a room that start immediately writing all of the great works of man, with correct margin sets, paragraphs, and punctuation.
And Colbert, in satire of all, said one million monkeys typing for eternity would produce Shakespeare, ten thousand (drinking) monkeys typing for ten thousand years would produce Hemmingway, and ten monkeys typing for three days would produce a work of Dan Brown.
Though one must ask-- is the answer to the question of whether a bunch of monkeys would ultimately write the works of Shakespeare-- "One of them already did"?. Or maybe we should forget the typwriter and just throw a bunch of Shakespeares in a room with a computer, and see how long its takes for them to turn it on.