Category Archives: Absurd

Artopia 2008

This past Saturday I ventured down to the Georgetown neighborhood to check out Artopia. It was an exciting mish-mash of galleries, installations, performances, and people generally expressing themselves in interesting ways. Where else can you find power tool races, opera singers in an old brewery, and graffiti artists tasked with covering a delivery truck all mixed together. I shot more than 400 photos while I was there, and whittled the best down to 60 or so, which I’ve posted here.

Artopia Graffiti Wall

I ran into a few friends of mine while there, all of whom recommended I check out the Gallagher impersonator (artist Christopher Pfeifle) later in the afternoon. At about 5:15, I found the alley where he was just about to start. Almost half of the photos I shot from the day were from his performance. It was hilarious and spot-on. I remember watching that comedy special as a kid and just marveling at the absurdity. As an adult, the hot afternoon alley-way sideshow performance was even better. Check out the action shots, fake moustache, and flying fruit

Gallagher at Artopia Gallagher at Artopia

Allow me to introduce you to Coffee Milk

Having gone to school in Rhode Island, I was exposed to the somewhat odd beverage of Coffee milk. Exactly as Wikipedia describes, it is a syrup-flavored milk similar in consistency to chocolate or strawberry milk. I knew it originated in Rhode Island and was common there, but didn’t realize it was so popular to be dubbed, “The official state drink of Rhode Island”.1

In my college cafeteria next to the regular, skim, and chocolate milk dispensers, they also had one for coffee milk. I tried drinking it for a while but it was too sickly sweet for my taste (which is funny, because that’s exactly how I like my coffee). I’ve asked many friends and coworkers from all different parts of the country if they’d ever heard of coffee milk and not a single one had.

It’s common to find highly regional foods and drinks all over the place, but coffee milk strikes me as particularly odd. Why did it never catch on like other flavored milk? It combines three things that almost everyone in this country loves: coffee + milk + sugar. I guess the closest we’ve gotten are the other coffee-syrup-based drinks you now find in Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks, like the coolatta or frappuccino. I guess the rest of the country needs a fancily-marketed, masquerading-as-real-coffee beverage instead of a plain ‘ol ice cold coffee milk.

1I didn’t even realize that states had official drinks until now. Rhode Island is one of only a handful of states that doesn’t have plain milk as their state drink. Here’s a list of all U.S. state beverages. The only alcoholic beverages represented are (not surprisingly): wine in California, beer in Wisconsin, and Conecuh Ridge Whiskey (moonshine) in Alabama. Though I would have expected bourbon out of Kentucky. Slackers.

I’ll have the bland airline meal, please

I was booking an airline flight the other day and in selecting my seating, frequent flyer and other preferences, I looked at the options under meal preference…

Bland Airline Meal

Huh? You can request an even blander airline meal? At first I thought it was a joke, perhaps pulled by some bitter web developer who didn’t like the task of creating the meal option dropdown menu. But, in fact, the bland option is common and has valid health reasons, whereas normal airline food is bland for a number of common-sense reasons that are clearly laid out in Wikipedia. The special “bland” meal preference is for people with more sensitive digestive systems or ulcers, and it lacks any sort of heavy seasoning, extra dairy, or raw meat.

You learn something new every day.

Good ‘ol Jerry Masterson

I recently found an old t-shirt in my drawer from The Portland Mercury (sister paper of The Stranger), featuring the face of a charming young boy, Jerry Masterson. For those of you who don’t know, or don’t remember, here are his greatest hits:

On the Edge of Tastelessness

Every week during the winter months, a pizza place in downtown Seattle, Belltown Pizza hosts a trivia night. 5 rounds, 10 questions each, and 1 of the rounds being a music round (ie. name the song title and artist). Coworkers and friends have gotten into the routine of heading down almost every Monday night to give it our best shot. We’ve won a couple, we’ve miserably lost many more, but in general the teams that we scrape together tend to hold their own.

One of the fun parts of starting the evening is coming up with a team name. We decided we didn’t like to always use the same name like some other teams did, and since our team members are different each week, we started mixing it up. Initiated by my friend Dan and his pals, the new tradition has been to come up with some current events related pun, or joke about the news. I wish I kept track of them all, but we’ve made reference to North Korea, Mark Foley, Bush and Cheney (of course), and we’ve thrown in some good ‘ol spam, “CheapViagraOnline.com”.

This week we were having our brainstorming session and we were about to go with, “My Trees Have Fallen and They Can’t Get Up” in reference to the crazy windstorms that came through Seattle. But then, I offered up: “Snow Cave For Rent“. Tasteless? Yes. The team groaned, but with a quick show of hands, they all voted for the name.

At the end of the first trivia round, the quiz master read through the scores and everyone heard the team names for the first time, “blah, blah… Vast Right Wing Conspiracy had 7 out of 10 …and Snow Cave For Rent… had 8 out of 10…” The restaurant erupted into boos and groans, and we even got a boo from the quiz master. From across the room we heard someone shout, “Too soon!”

It was at that point that I knew… we had picked the right team name.

Pet Peeve: E-mail is not Instantaneous

I just received a phone call from an external party that I’ve been working with on a project. It started off like this:

Him: “Hi Chase, do you have a couple minutes to chat?”
Me: “Yeah, sure.”
Him: “OK, excellent. I have a question for you. Here, I’m sending you an e-mail with a couple URLs in it… and… OK, I just sent it.”
Me: [clicking send/receive... clicking send/receive] “While I’m waiting, can you explain what the question is?”

It turns out the question was dead simple, and really didn’t require the supporting URLs to clarify. I answered his question, wrapped up the conversation, and hung up. 30 seconds later his e-mail finally appeared in my inbox.

Aside from my slight annoyance at starting a phone conversation with: “Do you have a couple minutes to chat?” (if I didn’t, I probably wouldn’t have answered the phone), or the sending of the e-mail after the phone call is started… what really bugs me is the common misconception that e-mail is instantaneous. Sure, you can send me an e-mail and most of the time it’ll get delivered pretty quick, but “pretty quick” can range from 30 seconds to minutes, to hours (or to days if there are more serious server issues). Because people have become so used to the more common quick deliveries, they come to expect them and rely on them, and in turn they get frustrated when delivery is delayed. This write-up about e-mail from the University of California, is the first result for a search on “email is not instantaneous” and it covers many other realities of e-mail.

This is really a basic case of taking something for granted. We all do it in various ways, and it’s a particularly interesting issue when it comes to delivering products or services. If my product is only designed to realiably do a task in say, 10 minutes, but it regularly does it faster, then how do I address user complaints when it starts taking the full 10 minutes again? That’s a whole different can of worms about controlling user expectations and properly communicating what “normal” behavior should be. Now that e-mail has become so commonplace, and technology has brought it to near-instantaneous speeds, it would be entirely impractical/obnoxious for e-mail clients to start popping up a dialog box each time I send a message, saying: “This could take an hour or more to send.” Even worse, what if e-mail server technology automatically dialed itself down to the more reliable speeds (I know it could never work with the architechture of the internet). Should we design popular products to only perform as promised? No, that’s certainly not an answer either, and designers that purposefully “cripple” their products in these ways are annoying.

With e-mail, it’s clearly too late to manage expectations. The common misconception/expectataion of e-mail being instantaneous can be frustrating, and is a pet-peeve of mine. Keep in mind that things won’t always behave the way you’re used-to, and the last thing I want is to sit on the phone with you while refreshing my inbox.

Irregardless is a Word

In a conversation at work the other day I was making a statement and for some reason my brain just decided to use the word “irregardless” instead of “regardless”. I know that “regardless” is more common, but the “ir-” just popped in there and I spit it out. Two coworkers immediately turned to me and said, “Um, irregardless is not a word, it’s ‘regardless’.” I shrugged and moved on, but it stuck in my head, and I suspected that there was more to the story. At the very least, I like to think that I don’t just make up gramatically incorrect words on the spot.

According to the Merriam-Webster Online entry for irregardless:

Irregardless originated in dialectal American speech in the early 20th century. Its fairly widespread use in speech called it to the attention of usage commentators as early as 1927. The most frequently repeated remark about it is that “there is no such word.” There is such a word, however. It is still used primarily in speech, although it can be found from time to time in edited prose. Its reputation has not risen over the years, and it is still a long way from general acceptance. Use regardless instead.

It is indeed a word. Sure, it’s messy, it’s “still a long way from general acceptance” but it’s one of those words that’s stuck around for whatever reason. I propose we further bastardize this word and add yet another negative prefix. I give you: nonirregardless

Seattle Don’t Know Snow

SnowflakeAlthough the Seahawks pulled off a great victory Monday night on a snow-covered field (yes, that game really took place in Seattle, and not Greenbay), it is otherwise clear that Seattle just doesn’t know snow or cold weather. Our first snow appeared late Sunday for a few hours, but nothing stuck around. The forecast for Monday called for snow or sleet late in the evening, or early in the night. What came down at 5:00PM, was a bit earlier than they predicted, and it was a weird freezing rain, with very large round balls rather than flakes (almost like a light hail). But it was still warm enough outside (at least in the city) that the roads were just wet. But alas, Seattle-ites don’t even know how to drive in rainy conditions, let alone a mix of colder wet stuff. Add in the factor of early Seahawks traffic for the downtown home game and the recipe was there for disaster. A few stories of commutes I heard were: 1 1/2 hours from downtown Seattle to Greenwood by car (normally 15-20 minutes), 1 1/2 hours from downtown to Magnolia by bus (normally 20 minutes), 4 hours from Kirkland to Seattle by bus (normally 1 hour), 4 hours from Sea-Tac Airport by shuttle and bus (normally 30 minutes), 4 1/2 hours from Seattle to Tacoma (normally 45 minutes).

But it continues…
Continue reading

And a Little More Halloween

I finished up this year’s Halloween season with one more party last night. There were some Katamari Damacy characters, some creepy cross-dressing, the Dude from Big Lebowski, and a Jack in the Box “Jack” with papier mache head (there was one at our company party too). And of course there were a fair number of sexy costumes.

When I was starting to visit the costume and thrift stores to figure out my costume this year, what I found most amusing were the “instant” kits for various costumes. You can see a few instant costume kits here. “Instant Hippie” is a headband, peace sign necklace and Lennon sunglasses. “Instant Rapper” (yes, I purchased one) is a $ sign ring, #1 bling necklace and fake gold teeth. Who knew it was so easy to become a rapper! And of course there were the various Instant Pirate Kits that included assorted combinations of hats, hooks, eyepatches, and bandanas. The definitions of “cliche” are, “the idea expressed by a trite phrase or expression” or, “something that has become overly familiar or commonplace”. I find it amazing that we can boil down a character idea, or an entire genre into 3 simple accessories. Maybe that’s the new definition of cliche. If you can create an “Instant ___ Kit” for it, with 3 over-priced “Made in China” accessories, than your idea has truly become “overly familiar or commonplace.”

And lastly, I leave you with one more photo from our company Halloween party. I bet you didn’t know Flavor Flav was teaming up with U2…

Flavor Flav with Bono and the Edge

Revelant is not a word

Revelant
Main Entry: rev-e-lant
Pronunciation: re-vuh-luhnt
Function: Nothing, aside from making you sound dumb.
1a. I think you mean to say “relevant” especially since that’s what I just said to you, and it is the topic we’re discussing… 1b. Idiot
2. Oh no, you’re continuing to say “revelant” over and over again in this conversation, going on for 20 minutes. Does it sound correct to you? How are you not noticing? 2b. OK, I just said the correct word again. Maybe you noticed.
3. I give up.

The word you want is: relevant. It has some interesting etymology too. From the Latin relevare, related to “relieve” and “lever” meaning, “to raise up”.

A possible imaginary definition for “revelant” might be something like:
Adj. 1. Posessing the qualities of reveling or merriment

But that’s a stretch. 1 million Google results for “revelant” at least indicates that’s it’s a somewhat common mistake.

Everyone deserves a Moustache

This summer my company was planning to hold its second annual company family picnic at the Woodland Park Zoo. Somehow, two weeks before Friday’s picnic we (myself and another coworker) decided it’d be a perfect time to have a little surprise for the rest of our coworkers. We decided to get as many guys together as possible, to grow moustaches. With the survey here, we confirmed that the “Hogan” (sometimes called a handlebar or “the biker”) was the way to go. People without facial hair began to grow, while others with existing goatees or beards just went along their merry way. Reminders to shave were sent out the day before, but it was still an unknown how many people would fully commit.

Friday morning, we had an impressive 7 representatives. A few of the hold-outs had come prepared, and when they saw the ‘staches well-represented, they made their way to the bathrooms with razors and clippers to join (after a little extra peer pressure). We got an impressive 3 converts that very morning! Arriving at the picnic, we totaled a solid 10 moustachioed faces (missing one from this group shot)…

There were some puzzled/surprised coworkers, not to mention their families and kids who must have been rather frightened (or just plain amused).

And here are the requisite close-ups of some participants, which really demonstrate the variety of scruff we achieved: Chase, Buck, Dan (awarded as Best Last Mnute Trim), Larry, Matt, Michael (awarded as Most Surprising-Don’t-Ever-Do-That-Again), Noah, and Scott (winner of the Most “Village People” Award).

I hope the tradition will continue next year.

Link Sunning in the Park

Link Sunning in the Park

For those of you who didn’t know, Link from the Legend of Zelda lives in Seattle. He is often wandering around the Capitol Hill area of the city, always wearing the same green outfit. I walked through the park this past weekend and there he was enjoying the sun. I believe that’s his handy sword (sometimes thought to be padded PVC or a solid metal bat) in a sheath next to him, leaning on the chair. As the Wiki page describes, he is often seen with “Old Man” and sure enough, sitting nearby on a bench was his friend. There’s more information about Link here.

Discrimination is everywhere!

In case you missed it, my post on gay marriage turned into a long frustrating “debate” with a random visitor. When looking into this guy’s website I found his amazing definition of discrimination…

Here’s the breakdown for all levels, a marriage that excludes one sex or another is discriminatory. In a same sex marriage the individuals are participating together in the discrimination against a sex. In the delusion of claiming “gender neutrality” a government that accepts a discriminatory marriage as equal to a non-discriminatory marriage endorses gender discrimination.

After reading that, it was clear that there was no way to debate an individual who believed “discrimination” was defined in such a way. Wouldn’t a white man marrying a white woman then be discrimination against other races? Goodness, we have a lot of racists in this country!

From Merriam Webster, the usage of “discriminate” as an intransitive verb: 2 : to make a difference in treatment or favor on a basis other than individual merit. OK, I see where he’s coming from. A man chooses to marry a man, because he likes men. But he’s discriminated against a perfectly worthy female candidate. It makes so much sense, because afterall homosexuality is a simple choice. A “switch” even. Just flip it off and marry the woman instead. (heavy sarcasm there, for people who have trouble) So, if gay marriage is discriminatory because both sexes aren’t equally represented, then what else is discriminatory?

  • This morning I chose to order an Americano at the coffee shop. I discriminated against lattes, mochas, and dairy products as a whole.
  • I ate a burger at a BBQ on Saturday as opposed to a hot dog. I’ve helped oppress processed pork products.
  • I’m writing this on a weblog instead of a letter, newspaper or newsletter. I’ve discriminated against all print media.

What discrimination have you been up to lately?