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Death by Festivus

My views on the commercialization of Christmas are more conservative than Charlie Brown's, and that's saying something.

My views on the commercialization of Christmas are more conservative than Charlie Brown's, and that's saying something.

Happy Thanksgiving! In honor of the start of the holiday season, and because I haven’t blogged in almost two months, here are some of my least favorite holiday traditions that I’d like to beat with a Festivus pole over and over again.

  • Christmas commercials starting after the election. We just finished one annoying commercial season, is it so much to ask for a two day break? People who are shopping that early don’t really need decorations while they shop, and everyone else hasn’t even started thinking about Christmas yet.
  • The three-hour Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I started writing this blog post at 11:09 AM on Thanksgiving Day – what do you think is on my TV right now? That’s right, because nothing says “Happy Thanksgiving” like Kanye West! Seriously though, I’m not saying axe the whole parade – just the parts that include angry bitter celebrities. You do that and all of the sudden, you’re down to an hour of enjoyable television that America can watch and then get back to their normal holiday festivities.
  • Lions, Cowboys and Fumbles, oh my! It’s tradition that the Lions and Cowboys each play a game on Thanksgiving every year. Why? Is it so we’re guaranteed to not have a game that distracts us from family or eating massive amounts of pie? Is there something so wrong with saying “look, Lions, you guys had a good run. But you sort of suck. Come back in 10 years, and if you’ve managed to dig up another Manning brother to play quarterback for you, we’ll talk.”
  • “Satan Thursday”, as I’ll henceforth call it. If Black Friday is evil, then leaving your family on Thanksgiving Day to shop is worse than evil, since the fact that you’re doing so means those stores have to open up and thus people who want to be with their families have to work. There is nothing that says “I’m out of touch with the true meaning of this holiday” more than “hey everyone, why wait ’til Friday?”. And speaking of Friday…
  • Black Friday, in it’s traditional format. I understand that the sales are to die for. (See what I did there?) But seriously, it’s not smart to encourage minivan moms who are suffering their first tryptophan hangover in almost a year to wake up after just two or three hours of sleep (or worse, pull an all nighter) just to find a deal. Online stores that offer deals like this? Great idea. No one’s on the road and the only things at risk are credit scores and marriages. But as for the brick-and-mortar stores, people have literally been stampeded and killed. When you’re at that point, and there’s not a car accident involved, drastic action needs to be taken. What about a Black Friday Bus? We simply use the school buses that aren’t in use anyway, they pick everyone up from their houses at whatever time in the morning and shuttle them into the bigger towns where the hop on other buses or trains to get between stores. I don’t care if that’s a terrible idea, I’m just thinking out loud – someone has to.
  • Any jewelers’ commercials. “He went to Jared!” “He went to Jared!” “He went to Jared?” “He went to Jared!” I don’t know about you, but saying what store “he” bought a ring or necklace from is kind of like saying “He got that sweater on sale at Kohl’s! (Ignore the red dot.)” Tactless. And don’t think you’re out of the woods, Kay Jewelers: it’s not that your commercials are as offensive as Jared’s, its that you’ve used them for like 10 years straight now, and that’s an offensive lifespan for any commercial.
  • Nothing says "White Trash" more than inflatable yard decorations.

    Nothing says "White Trash" more than inflatable yard decorations.

  • Inflatable yard decorations. I absolutely hate these. Not only because they look trashy when they’re up, but because their typical owners don’t take them down until Memorial Day. Look, there’s no law that says you HAVE to decorate your yard for Christmas, and if you don’t, I guarantee you one of your neighbors will. If you don’t have the time or effort to put up real Christmas decorations, don’t put any up at all.
  • ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas. Not only is their lineup of shows and movies absolutely abysmal, but ABC Family, in the last few years, has insisted on a “Countdown to the 25 Days of Christmas.” First, this implies that ABC Family thinks we enjoy the many Christmas B-movies and TV specials they run in those 25 days and that we actually look forward to it. And second, why can’t we call it what it really is: “ABC Family’s 50 Days of Christmas.” Also, note to ABC Family: the fact that a movie includes a Christmas scene doesn’t make it a Christmas movie. For example, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”. They show this one every year. It’s a reasonable movie, but it’s not a Christmas movie.
  • 24 Hours of “Jingle All The Way”. I get it, FX. I know what you’re trying to do. You saw what TBS did with “24 Hours of A Christmas Story” and you liked those results so much that you had to get in on that action. So you searched your archives for films you had rights for, narrowed it down to Christmas movies, and the best you came up with was…”Jingle All The Way”? And don’t get me wrong, I’m not totally against “Jingle All The Way.” I like to watch that once or twice a holiday season, and I get some chuckles out of it. But it’s not a classic like “A Christmas Story”; not even close. What about “Home Alone”, or “Christmas Vacation”? Although now that I think about it, you can’t get much funnier than the governor of the country’s most populous state saying “It’s Turbo Time!” Get back to me on this one, I need to think about it some more.

Sorry for my long absence from the blogosphere. I’d say it won’t happen again, but it probably will at some point, so I’ll apologize in advance for whenever that happens. And on a more serious and honest note, I hope everyone has a happy and safe Thanksgiving, a happy holiday season and a Merry Christmas!

I found myself further and further from my home

You never forget your first love.

Reality check: why Avatar wasn’t really all that great

"I'm flying Jack, I'm flying!" ...oh wait, wrong James Cameron movie.

"I'm flying Jack, I'm flying!" ...oh wait, wrong James Cameron movie.

Back in December of 2009 (Christmas Day, actually. See how dedicated I am to this blog and my readers?) I wrote about my five favorite movies in 2009. My list, you may remember, wasn’t exactly conventional: I included movies like 2012 and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen instead of some of the more conventional favorites. (And I’ll still defend those choices as good movies, or at least better than everyone gives them credit for.)

One of those conventional favorites, released for the first time a week before I wrote the post, was James Cameron’s Avatar. It made (and topped) many people’s best movies of 2009 list, and it eventually became the highest grossing movie of all time. This weekend, it was rereleased in theaters with an extra eight (no really, eight!) minutes of special, never-before-seen-but-just-as-green-and-blue footage.

Let’s stop kidding ourselves. Despite its sales, despite its hype, and despite the fact that sequels are already in the works, Avatar wasn’t really that great. Read on to find out why.

Why fantasy football is the greatest thing ever

Chris Johnson wasn't the NFL MVP last year, but he was the MVP of a lot of fantasy football leagues. And really, that's what's important.

Chris Johnson wasn't the NFL MVP last year, but he was the MVP of a lot of fantasy football leagues. And really, that's what's important.

We all have that one friend who’s a stat geek. (Heck, it may even be you. Heck, it might even be me.) He’s good with math, obsessive over numbers, watches SportsCenter like its his job, and generally spends way too much time rationalizing and analyzing human performance and rattling off condescending tidbits like “Tom Brady didn’t have a good game last week? That’s typical; while he normally plays well against the Titans against a left-handed quarterback and a tight end who wears a number divisible by 6, he’s actually only a 15% passer in games called by Jim Nantz on second Sundays of a month.” Twenty years ago we made fun of people like this: math-nerd-wannabe-jocks who were missing the point of sports.

Today though, you’ll find these guys dominating fantasy football leagues (clearly indicating, by the way, that I’m definitely not a stat geek. At least not a very good one.) A child of the Internet revolution and the World Wide Web, fantasy football has blossomed into a billion dollar industry which is now mainstream. Last year the Indians had a fantasy league, the cast of The Office had a fantasy league, and while I’m guessing Barack Obama wasn’t in a league himself, I wouldn’t put it past his staffers. The point is, nearly everyone with even the slightest interest in football (and sometimes, not even then) are in a fantasy football league.

Why is everyone (including this guy) so into this phenomenon? I take a look, after the break.

Mass confusion is all the new rage

Over last summer, a lot of things changed in my life: I moved to South Carolina, I started a new job, I switched to a Mac (at work) and I became a vegan. (Okay, kidding about that last one.) In addition to those large changes, there were a number of small changes, two of which included my aunt and my dad signing up for the social networking giant, Facebook.

A little background here. I’ve been a member of Facebook since June of 2005, a couple days after I graduated high school. I think our class was the first real “wow, we’re going to college, let’s all sign up for Facebook and friend each other because I’m sure we’ll keep in touch” class, and initially, that’s all the site was: a place to find phone numbers, send short messages, and do some serious poking. (Great feature, right? Because who doesn’t love getting poked in real life? Now we can experience that same, annoying, painful sensation thousands of miles apart!)

A couple years passed, and the site rapidly grew and evolved. Thanks to innovations like the News Feed, Facebook became a place to find out what your friends were doing by the minute, and by 2007 Facebook was open to everyone. By the time my sister joined Facebook in summer of 2007, people were taking notice of the site’s powerful and potentially dangerous features, and my mom signed up for Facebook following the advice of a parent session at my sister’s orientation.

So I was on Facebook, my sister was on Facebook, and my mom was on Facebook, but she was only there to stalk mine and my sister’s friends in the name of safety. Reasonable, right? Everything seemed normal. But then, in 2007, the Facebook platform debuted and took off.

A couple more years passed. Facebook grew from about 50 million users to over 200 million. And in June 2009 and July 2009, after hearing about the many other family members who could view family pictures, share stories and stay in touch, my aunt and dad joined.

I’m pretty careful about what I post on Facebook anyway, so having my entire family on hasn’t changed my Facebook habits (and the completist in me likes having everyone there). However, having my entire family on the site to me signifies that Facebook is as mainstream as the PC that’s viewing it. It’s not only a global social network; it’s become a household word.

Whenever anything goes from a niche to the mainstream, a full cross-section of the population comes with it. That means you get the quiet and the outspoken, the friendly and the hostile, the newbies and the pros. But really, you can reduce it to two groups: the tools (read: douchebags) and everyone else. Here’s a helpful list that should help you not be a tool.

Guidelines for harmonious social networking

(Or, how to not be a social networking tool. Title is a shout-out to How I Met Your Mother.)

  • This isn’t MySpace: use your real name. Using your first and middle name as your full name may be okay in high school, when you’re trying to be a rebel, but once you get past age 18, it’s time for your real name. Use the name that potential employers would search for. “But wait,” you say, “I don’t want the Man to see my Facebook. Maybe if I don’t use my real name, he won’t find me!” Let’s be realistic: most employers these days have the expectation that you have a Facebook account; if they can’t find you and it’s obvious you’re not there under your name, they’re likely to assume you’re hiding something.
    • Corollary: I know what you’re thinking: “Ooo, I know! I’ll create two Facebook accounts, one for my friends and one for my employers!” Not only does this violate the Facebook terms of service, but it makes you a serious tool because you’ll have to send friend requests to pretty much all of your friends twice to make it look semi-realistic and useful. Don’t do it. Just keep your Facebook clean.
  • Use the 50 mile rule. Except in very rare cases (like Christmas parties when you know people will be home), most of your friends won’t be able to make your next party. Don’t send them an event invitation when they live more than 50 miles away. I know it’s really easy to select your entire friends list and send out invites, but don’t do it. Wouldn’t you be kinda’ mad if all 500 of your friends showed up at your apartment next Friday night? (Reminds me of that Seinfeld bit about answering machines: “You were hoping to get the machine! The person picks up and you’re like, ‘…oh. Didn’t expect you to be there. I was just going to leave a message saying sorry I missed you.'”)
  • We get it, your farm is pretty awesome. We don’t need real-time updates. One of the major factors driving Facebook’s latest spike in growth is so-called “social gaming”. You know, where you sit on Facebook at home and play a single player game on the web. FarmVille is the most popular of these games, and one of the reasons it’s popular is that it encourages users to share how much fun they’re having about 10 times a minute. I know it’s hard, but RESIST THE URGE TO SHARE. It’s Facebook policy that FarmVille can’t punish you for not sharing (although they’re certainly allowed to make you feel really bad: “YOU JERK, YOU KILLED THE COW BECAUSE OF YOUR NEGLECT”). So don’t share every time. Let’s set a soft limit of 1 FarmVille (actually, 1 “social game”) post per day.
    • Corollary: I know the way you win in those games is by working with your friends and asking and giving help, but creating accounts and naming them after your kids or dog or is cheating. (And yes, the cows will die because of you. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but SOMEday.) As an example, let’s say Wal-mart said that I am now only allowed to buy four Cadbury Creme Eggs per week. Wouldn’t you say there was something wrong with me if I stood outside the store bribing people to buy me some Cadbury Creme Eggs? “Come on, DADDY NEEDS HIS FIX.”
  • Just because there’s a button doesn’t mean you have to click it. (begin shameless plug) While you’re welcomed (and encouraged) to become a Fan of (and tell your friends about) Cleveland, Curveballs and Common Sense and any Fan pages that my company administers (end shameless plug), fan pages like these aren’t really how you’re supposed to use them:

    Let's be honest, no one ever texts back instantly. That page should be banned.

    Let's be honest, no one ever texts back instantly. That page should be banned.

    A couple of randomly funny Fan pages are acceptable, but for the most part Fan pages are meant so that companies can share exclusive deals and offers with you. What company is behind you hate me? oh that’s weird, because I DON’T EVEN KNOW YOU? (And that’s not even a very good example; Bobby and I have laughed at a ton of pages that just scream “I’m a teenager, I don’t know who I am, but at least know how to click a button.”)

  • Don’t be like Joe Biden: keep your language clean. (Oh, snap! Where else do you get these hot-off-the-press topical references like that? That was from like, yesterday.) If your *$%@ing %^#$ #@$%# needs to be @#$%$#$, tell Twitter (it’s a jungle on Twitter) or call one of those 1-900 sex lines where language like that would be appropriate. Pretend your mom’s reading, and if you still feel like dropping bombs, pretend Santa’s reading. If you swear at Santa, you get COAL.
  • Don’t create a Fan page for yourself. I mean, really? Who does that crap? (Wait, wait, I can explain! Don’t call me a hypocrite or hate me yet: I use that page for testing purposes. So if you’re using it for development, go for it.)
  • Hard limit of 10 posts per day, for any reason. Otherwise people start to think “listen…you and I are great…but we see a lot of each other. A LOT. Soo…yeah, maybe it’s time we took a break? I dunno’.”
  • Oh, and I almost forgot: If you’re a boss, and you’re friends with your employees on Facebook, limit the length of your comments to three paragraphs or less. (Four if it’s about baseball.) This is just better for everyone. If you make longer comments than that, other employees may take notice and get jealous. They may not even bother to tell you they’re jealous and may just write “holy crap.” (Just kidding, everyone involved!).

All that said, if you’re a Facebook user and you do these things, I may complain to myself for a bit then realize I’m being overly neurotic. Everyone uses social networks differently, and if you feel the need to do all of these, I won’t unfriend (2009 word of the year!) you. (I may hide you from my Feed, though. It’s not you, it’s me.) Ultimately I hope this list was entertaining more than anything else, and like pretty much everything I write, you probably shouldn’t pay attention to any of it.

Anyone got any others? I’ll try and add to the list if I hear some good ones (or think of some new ones). Happy Facebooking!

To Mom, Dad, Ciocia and all others in my family: all sarcasm and “back in my day, all the kids used floppy disks” nostalgia aside, I do enjoy having you all on Facebook. My amazement that everyone has an account now was only meant to reflect how fast and how broadly Facebook has grown, and I’m happy about it.

I’m just a stranger on this road

Ever since graduating in May 2009, I’ve struggled for blogging material. I’m not sure if I simply had more time to get out in the world or on the Internet and form opinions on more stuff, or maybe it’s just that now I simply have said most of what I wanted to say. Whatever it is, I’d like to try to blog more, even if the articles themselves aren’t the best.

That said, this particular topic is one that I’ve had on my mind for a while, and it’s seemed to only intensify over the last few weeks. This topic is: driving. More specifically: bad driving.

SC-277, the source of most of my driving rage.Bad driving is a topic I have covered before, but rather than making this one just about city driving, I’ll try and make this a general purpose guide for how to tick me off on the road. So, without further ado, here we go:

Drive more better: some guidelines for being “that guy” on the highway

  • Drive below the speed limit. And not a couple miles below either. Make sure you’re going 35 in a 45, 15 in a 35, etc., so that everyone behind you is cursing more than your average rap song. Don’t let the fact that you’re not towing anything, that you’re driving a car in good working condition, or really don’t have any excuse to be driving too slow: do it just because.

    Fun variations on this guideline include driving 10 under up until you see a green light turn yellow, then accelerating through the intersection to leave the guy behind you stuck at a red, or ignoring a speed zone change (i.e. a 35 MPH zone becomes a 45 MPH zone) by going exactly the same speed.

  • Leisurely accelerate down the on-ramp while getting on the freeway. After all, there’s no hurry. It’s completely your right-of-way when merging on, so if you’re going 25 MPH the cars behind you will just have to deal.

    Think about it this way: when you fly somewhere in a commercial jet, does the pilot blast you up to full throttle to take off without using the entire runway? Noooooo. After all, that wouldn’t be professional, and the real goal isn’t safely getting in the air, its making sure that your passengers don’t feel a thing. Don’t listen to those idiots who claim you need to match your speed on the on-ramp whenever possible.

  • While on the freeway, drive as slowly as possible in the left lane so other cars can’t pass you. I find it’s best to work in teams here: find someone who’s in the right lane going at maximum 5 miles per hour under the speed limit, drive up to them in the left lane and drive along with them for a few (hundred) miles. Highways aren’t made for getting somewhere fast; they’re made for getting somewhere fun, and what better fun is there than making a new friend? The people behind you honking their horns don’t know what they’re doing NOW, but eventually they’ll learn this too.
  • When getting off the freeway, slow down to about half the speed limit about five miles before your exit, just to make sure your brakes are working. To use the airplane metaphor again, do airplane pilots land their plane on the runway every time? Noooooo. What fun is that? Landing miles before the runway is exciting for the passengers and challenging for you. The same principle applies when getting off the freeway: slowing down gives the drivers behind you a chance to make sure their brakes work and makes sure they’re awake. Plus, you have plenty of time to send your obligatory “I’m getting off the highway” text message to each of your 300 cell phone contacts individually. Which leads me to my next point:
  • OMG txt as much as possible!! ;-) No one likes driving alone. Even when you have passengers in the car, it’s not really a party unless you’re in constant social contact with at least 15 friends. Watching the road is for newbie drivers, not seasoned veterans like you.
  • Know your Art of War:
    Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.

    Headlights, turning signals, and following the rules of the road lets your enemies know where you are. It’s important to not use any of these “training wheels” designed for drivers less skilled than you. It’s pretty much guaranteed that anyone who’s behind you is a spy working for enemy intelligence services: don’t give them any help.

  • Finally, your political beliefs are important. Make sure you have enough bumper stickers so that everyone knows where you stand. Conclude that everyone who does not share your political belief is an enemy, so you should use one of the previous tactics to aggravate them as much as possible.

Follow these steps and you’re sure to make your journey a little longer, sure, but significantly more entertaining.

(P.S. I’m kidding. Don’t do any of this. Please.)

Lighten up while you still can

A few days ago Facebook rolled out their new home page, as well as some complimentary features to the Friends page and some unpublished bug fixes. I do use this blog to complain about Facebook occasionally, mostly because I’m jealous of Mark Zuckerberg, but today I’ll be defending it.

Let’s get one thing straight, first: the new homepage is a vast improvement over the old one. The old one was more cluttered and let’s be honest: who used anything other than the “Top Stories” and “Live Feed” tab anyway? The new homepage incorporates both of those features (with some improvements) and adds filters that are customizable, meaning people will actually use them.

You can imagine my shock (read: actually, I completely expected this) when the home page changes began to roll out and like a viral outbreak people started complaining as the changes hit them. “John Smith hates the new Facebook.” “Jane Sanders is back from vacation, but found a bad new Facebook. Sad face.” “Bobby Jones is not really sure what the heck Facebook thinks they’re doing, messing with my homepage.” As expected, these people all congregate into a group creatively titled “100,000 against the new Facebook homepage” (notice that capping your group name at 100,000 doesn’t leave you much room to expand. Facebook has you covered here, too: you can now rename your groups so you can scale to 1,000,000, 1e7, 1e8, etc.), and for a few days haughtily expect Facebook to do something, because they can’t figure out how to use this service which they love so much.

Here’s the thing: Facebook is the property of one company: Facebook. The only reason you should get to complain AT ALL is if you were a shareholder. Microsoft is the only company that’s thrown any money into Facebook so far, according to Bill Gates’ Facebook page, he’s “vacationing in Hawaii,” and not at all displeased with Facebook. (Actually I’m kidding: Bill Gates might have a Facebook page, but I don’t think I friended him yet.) Since you’re not (presumably) Bill Gates (and if you are, hi Bill!), the only way of protesting change to Facebook is to not use it. I know that’s a shocking concept for you, but no one is stopping you from firing up your favorite text editor and creating your own scalable, secure social networking platform.

Another point: Facebook even warned you that these changes were coming, via the Facebook Blog (which, if you’re so concerned with what’s new at Facebook, maybe you should read occasionally) and even a little information box that directed you to said blog. You were invited to give your feedback before these changes were rolled out. Would I be wrong in saying that none of you that are complaining so much didn’t write feedback before the changes?

Ultimately, you’ll get used to the new Facebook. In fact, you’ll grow to love it, so much so that when Facebook changes the homepage again, you’ll hate the new page with every fiber of your being. Here’s my question: aren’t you guys dizzy yet, from going in so many circles?

The lights are out in Cleveland

Those of us who live in northeast Ohio today experienced the first taste of winter: a sub-40 degree day, complete with a rain/snow/hail mix. I happened to be out on the roads during the worst of it (and truthfully, it wasn’t that bad. Visibility was a tad low sometimes, but the roads weren’t slippery). It was on the roads today that I once again observed a problem with Cleveland traffic.

Of all the cars driving today, maybe 10% were driving without their headlights on, during a visibility-impairing hailstorm. Let me repeat that. 10% of the people driving today were not using their best safeguard against low visibility.

Why would you not turn your headlights on in a hailstorm? Let’s run through some possibilities.

  • Maybe you don’t know where the headlights are. This is something that, if you’ve owned your car for more than fifteen seconds, is probably not a good excuse. I mean, how would you drive at night? And honestly, they don’t make headlights that hard to find these days. (Normally it’s a little switch on the left of the steering column or a knob on the steering column. Just in case.)
  • Maybe you think it’s suddenly not cool to have headlights on. Look, I appreciate being a ninja as much as the next person. But to be fair, most ninjas don’t drive silver mini-vans. In fact, wouldn’t a ninja drive a black car? A black car with no headlights would stand out far more than a silver car with no headlights.
  • Maybe your alternator is so old and inefficient that you doubt its ability to power your headlights. I can excuse this one if you were on the way to an AutoZone. Otherwise, seriously, get a new alternator. Or a bigger battery.
  • Finally, a bit of a compromise: never one to stick out in a crowd, but not wanting to blend in, you put your parking lights on. Good one.

I’ll leave it to you to make the call. Next time: turn your lights on.


This is an article I’ve wanted to post for a while, but driving home from Giant Eagle last night has pushed me over the edge. It’s a fact of life that there are people who are good at things, and there are people who are bad at things. I think this applies to all skills: there are people who are good at baseball, there are people who are bad at baseball; there are people who can cook, there are people who can’t; there are people who can use a computer effectively, there are people who can’t.

Generally, if you can’t do a certain skill, or you aren’t very good at it, you tend to avoid it (yes, Mom, for cooking, that means you). The one skill this does not apply to is driving.

I’ve heard that there are bad drivers everywhere. Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Boston traffic is usually what is among the worst. After driving in New York this summer, it occurred to me that in New York, Chicago, LA and Boston, there are just too many cars. You could put professional drivers in those streets, and there would still be traffic jams.

It’s places like Little Italy, in Cleveland, OH, that drivers are just bad. Here are some examples of people who should really just take a break from driving:

  • The way-too-courteous guy. I have no problem with courteous driving, in fact I encourage it. But don’t be too courteous. Don’t be one of those guys who stops in the middle of the road on a two-lane street to let the guy coming from the other direction turn left. There are two things wrong with this: 1) it slows down everyone else who is behind you, causing them to curse and question humanity’s existence, and 2) the other guy doesn’t expect you to. The second point is the most important here, because when the other guy doesn’t expect you to let him turn, he won’t turn for a while, until there’s that awkward hand waving exchange and he finally gets it. The other guy expects you to follow the rules of traffic, which is that the only vehicle with more right-of-way than a vehicle going straight down a street with no traffic lights or stop signs is an ambulance or fire truck.
  • The merging ninja. Look, I don’t really care if you’re going to merge in front of me. (I do have a problem with it if there’s no real reason for it, or if you should have done it a while ago, but generally, it’s how traffic moves and I’m okay with it.) If you’re going to merge in front of me, use your turn signal. There are few things that get under my skin faster than someone merging in front of me without a signal, because there’s absolutely no excuse for it. It doesn’t conserve gas to not use your signal for 2 seconds, it increases the risk that I’m going to hit you, and it’s against the law that the rest of us follow. I often wonder why people do it: do they think I won’t see them? Are they thinking, “well, I’m about to cut this guy off, but maybe if I don’t use my signal he’ll think ‘Hmm, there’s another car in front of me, how’d that get there? Oh well.'”
  • The guy who plays too much Risk. When you’re sitting at a traffic light, this is the guy who pulls into the intersection from the adjacent street and gets stuck there, either because he’s too afraid to make his left or he feels that the road is territory to be claimed and he wants the prime real estate right in the middle of the intersection. It’s for reasons like this that the state of Ohio will not allow me to carry grenades in my car, because if I was allowed to do that, I’d just roll a grenade under any car that got stuck in the intersection and prevented me from moving on a green light.
  • The mobile businessman. GET OFF YOUR CELL PHONE. You should have to take an extra license test if you want to be legally allowed to drive while talking on the phone (or eating, or smacking your kids, operating your iPod, etc.) while driving. I take pride in my ability to drive safely while on my phone (via Bluetooth, if possible) and operate my iPod (normally just simple “skip track” operations), but I think this should be a privilege, not a throw-in with the rest of your license.
  • The indecisive guy. This is the guy who likes both lanes on a four-lane street so much that he drives in both lanes at once. What’s worse, he’s normally driving 5 MPH under the speed limit and it’s impossible to get around him because he’s blocking both lanes. Normally, he’s trying to avoid parked cars in the right lane. Here’s a thought: get in other lane, like the rest of us.

By the way, I realize that we’re on the same road together (in some cases, for hours). But I don’t need to hear about your political beliefs via bumper sticker. Incidentally, the worst offenders of the people described above tend to have “Kerry/Edwards ’04” or “Endless this war” or “Legalize marijuana” stickers. If you want to discuss your beliefs with me, pull over to the side of the road, get yourself a fair trade organic soy milk latte, and we’ll talk about it once I get off the road and less angry about the traffic I just went through.

Don’t wait up.

The fiery pulpit

So I went to church this morning, and the weirdest thing happened: Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama weren’t mentioned in the sermon at all. Not even ONCE!

I believe I’ve posted here before about how it seems like most of Obama’s problems aren’t with something Obama has said or done, but rather someone who is associated with Obama. The main perpetrator, until this week, was Reverend Jeremiah Wright. You remember him – he’s the guy who is actually of the opinion that AIDS was invented by the government. Our government can’t even run a legitimate election, and this guy expects us to maniuplate complicated genetic structures. Riiight.

This week, the bar was raised by Reverend Michael Pfleger. It’s really too bad this guy chose preaching as a profession, because it was hysterical to listen to, even though completely inappropriate. (I can totally see a future Chris Rock routine that looks a little like that.) Of course, the media is playing it up again.

In all seriousness, though, what if I wrote here on my blog that I supported Obama, and then wrote something completely insane, offensive or treasonous? Say someone from the New York Times picks it up and whatever I wrote was so offensive that the New York Times runs a story (NYT Editor: “Free controversy? Sign me up!”). All of that would lead to one, very disturbing fact: My blog would be famous! I’d have so many hits I wouldn’t know what to do with myself!

So now, I need something that would be so offensive or scandalous that this blog would make it. And folks, here it is: Barack Obama…wait for it…plays World of Warcraft!

*Collective Gasp* Anti-nerds everywhere: unite and do not let this man into office!