Posts tagged: Lifestyle

My Best Worst Website Ideas

By , August 24, 2011

All the talk of late has been speculation as to whether another tech bubble is in the works. If so, there are no doubt dozens of venture capitalists running amok, eager to throw money at anyone with an idea for a website. Since I’m not the techie type, I’ll never get my hands on any of that money, but here are some ideas I’ve had of late for terrible web pages. I hereby donate them to anyone who wants them– go ahead and get rich with ‘em if you can. It’s on me.

1. Bad Dating Site– Are you and your significant other constantly fighting? Beating one another? Cheating? This is the site for you! Monitor just how bad it is using our advanced in-site metrics. Share your lack of progress towards happiness with your friends using graphs and counters on your profile page. Proudly display “THIS RELATIONSHIP HAS GONE XXX DAYS WITHOUT AN INFIDELITY” and watch as the number grows each day, or resets to zero when you finally lose the will to resist your secretary’s advances.

2. Fiendbook– Are you embarrassed by your profile pic on the local law enforcement agency’s web page? Imagine Megan’s Law, but with social networking functionality! Interact with other criminals to boost your sphere of influence, and garner new partners-in-crime at the same time. Maybe you’re planning a bank heist and need a getaway driver. A simple search on our page is all you need. Or are you looking for the scoop on potential victims? Which local child is most prone to fall for the “lost puppy” scam, and which will eagerly hop into a windowless van if candy is promised? What area widow is poised to part with her former husband’s vast fortune? Does the owner of that corner market keep a gun behind the register, or can you waltz in with impunity and rob the joint? At last, a site that has the answers you seek.

3. Geolocation for Drug Dealers– If you sell illegal drugs, or merely use them, you will be interested in what we are offering. No longer will you have to stand for hours on the corner peddling heroin to junkies craving crack. Likewise, the days of being forced to smoke angel dust because you couldn’t locate the LSD you sought are over. Dealers can check in using our app on any GPS-enabled mobile phone and list what they have to offer. Users then know exactly where to go for what they need. It’s a win-win. As a built-in security feature, you have to answer the question “are you a police officer?” with a “no” before being allowed to log in.

4. Rate-A-Hooker– We borrowed some functionality from the above drug dealer app to enable prostitutes to check in at the street corner of their choice, but the real winner here is the John. Thanks to crowdsourcing, you no longer have to wonder “how much?” or “is she any good?” That’s right, once you’ve used her, you the user can rate and review her. Was she a five-star experience, or did her service seem lacking? What are her normal working hours? Does she have any diseases? No more guesswork for you, and no more disappointing “dates.” Special log-in section for pimps allows them to offer daily deals, group rates, or whatever specials they’re running, as well as track their hoes and make sure they’re out there earning that money.

5. Puppies2you.com– Everyone loves a puppy! But what’s the one problem with a puppy? That’s right, it grows up to be a dog. No one wants a dog! Puppies are so cute and funny and tiny and fluffy and omg they are just the best. Dogs are just kind of there. Worse, there are so many kinds of dogs, who wants to be stuck with just one breed for a decade or more? Fear not, for puppies2you.com is here to make everything better. Once a user signs up for our service, an adorable puppy is delivered to his or her door. A month later, we return with a new puppy of a different breed, selected by the user, to replace the old puppy. The returned puppy is taken out to our custom-built van, euthanized, and chopped into the new puppy’s first meal. That’s right, we recycle the old, unwanted puppy. We’re a green business! Everyone wins with puppies2you.com!

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Casablanca, Morocco – Overview

By , December 22, 2010

I’ll begin my description of my stay in Casablanca by describing my lodgings, as I think they are somewhat indicative of the state of the city itself. The hotel in which I stayed, Hotel Foucould, was clearly a nice place once. The elevator, long out of commission, was a beautiful wooden contraption, ensconced in a wrought iron cage. In the hotel’s heyday it must have been a sight to behold. My room must have been nice once, too. It had a 20-foot high ceiling, and ornate touches, but today it is in awful shape. There was a puddle of water on the floor that remained there for my entire stay. The bathroom looked to have been created by crudely erecting a cement wall on one side of the room and installing plumbing. There was a shower-head, but no shower structure, so the water (only cold water was available) just sprayed into the room. There was a sink, but no toilet. The walls had massive holes punched into them, and there was graffiti on one of them, and the bed was falling apart, but there were lovely French doors that opened out onto a balcony that offered fresh air and a view of the city.

That contradiction exists all throughout Casablanca. I have a sense that 50 to 75 years ago Casablanca was quite posh. There is evidence everywhere to that fact, but it is buried beneath a seeming ton of rubble. The word that repeatedly comes to mind when observing this city is dilapidated, for that is what Casablanca is. I have the constant feeling of having walked into a city the day after a long war has ended. Everywhere you turn you see massive buildings that have collapsed in on themselves, and faded facades of what were once lovely, art deco masterpieces, standing proudly next to a two-story-high pile of brick, wood, glass, and other building material.

There is considerable garbage to navigate whilst walking the streets, as well as potholes deep enough to be used in trench warfare, so caution is necessary lest one take a nasty fall. The streets are full of mopeds– this was a never-ending source of amusement to me. Dozens would ride by at once– impromptu moped gangs made up of strangers, breaking up and recruiting new members at every street corner.

The people of Casablanca are for the most part friendly, and helpful to this American who speaks no Arabic and precious little French. One in particular, Abdallah, assisted me in finding a good cup of Coffee Moroccan style. The coffee, espresso actually, is really good here. It is subtly different from the European version, perhaps a bit more bitter and not quite as viscous, and thoroughly enjoyable to me. Abdallah told me about his days working at a restaurant on a now-defunct U.S. Air Force base between 1958 and 1962. That is why he spoke English, he explained, for most Casablancans possess a rudimentary grasp of English, at best.

Casablanca is not a town for a tourist, but for someone who travels as I do, plopping down in a neighborhood and haunting a few local cafes and eateries and chatting with the local folks, it is a pretty ideal place to be. Couple that with the amazing affordability and you have a place in which I could spend quite some time. My four days here was enough to get a sense of the place, but nowhere near enough to tire of it.

Speaking of costs, here are the prices you can expect to pay for a few things in Casablanca, translated from the local currency, dirhams, into U.S. dollars:

12 oz. glass bottle of Coke 47¢
cup of coffee (espresso) 59¢
taxi ride around downtown $1.31
1 night at Hotel Foucould $11.81
best fish ever at Snack Amine $13.08
fried bread thing at a stand 20¢

Pretty cheap, huh? You can see why I like it so much! Up next… Egypt!

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An iPad in My Pad? Not Likely.

By , January 27, 2010

Although I moved last June, work and personal concerns delayed the process of turning my (ware)house into a home. Only recently have I accomplished such basic tasks as setting up the kitchen, and am still unpacking some boxes. One thing I finally got around to doing was subscribing to a newspaper. Today my subscription to the New York Times began. Coincidentally, Apple today introduced their latest device, the iPad, which is meant to replace, among other things, the daily printed newspaper.

As I was enjoying the tranquility of reading a home-delivered newspaper for the first time in years (I haven’t had such service since my pre-homeless days), my temporary roommate/ long-term couch resident Chris was watching online videos touting the iPad. At that moment, it struck me– the experience of reading a paper online, be it via laptop, mobile phone, or, now, iPad, will never, in my mind, come remotely close to that of reading a physical newspaper. I can only speak for myself in this regard, and perhaps today is the day I officially became “old,” but when I read news online, I spend perhaps three to five minutes skimming one or two articles, then stop. I don’t enjoy the experience very much, I don’t absorb very much information, and I don’t find the format at all conducive to fostering meaningful thought or deep interest in any of the reported topics.

Conversely, when I read a physical newspaper, I do so with undistracted focus. That 30 minutes to an hour, the amount of time I typically spend engrossed in a printed copy of the New York Times, culminates not only in edification, but in a desire on my part to learn further, or to take action regarding a matter that concerns me. As an added plus, after reading the paper, I solve the crossword puzzle. Depending upon the day of the week that can take anywhere from an additional five minutes (on Monday) to an hour (Saturday) to do, and is hands down the highlight of the newspaper experience for me. I have tried working online crossword puzzles, but don’t enjoy them. Unless I can put pen (yes, I’m on of those) to paper, I lose interest; also, I like to carry the folded puzzle around with me, especially a Saturday or Sunday puzzle, and solve it in bits and pieces throughout the day.

Friends argue that online you can get news immediately. I counter with, who cares? I’m not insensitive to the plight of the people of Haiti, to take a current news story, but I don’t really care enough to need a constant stream of information regarding the aftermath of the earthquake there. If I had friends or family there, sure I’d care deeply– and I could follow that particular story closely via radio news or the internet. For the most part, I’m content to read the news each morning, and don’t care that it is not up-to-the-minute current. When Al-Qaeda blows up Mount Rushmore, sure, I’ll be glued to my computer screen like everyone else, but until then I’m content to wait a day to learn what is happening around the world.

I am of the opinion that age is a mere number, virtually meaningless in describing a person. I’ve known 20 year-olds who looked and acted as if they were in their late 30s, and 40 year-olds who were as active and vibrant as teens. Perhaps my lack of interest in the iPad, and conviction that a “real” newspaper is irreplaceable by any digital counterpart, is a sign that I have, at least in some regard, leapt from my mental 20s directly into my mental 60s. It is not the first time in my life I have eschewed some technological advancement, and instead preferred a medium deemed archaic (records v. CDs, for example), but it’s definitely the first time I’ve found the modern incarnation to be of utterly no use to me. I may not be at curmudgeon status yet, but I am starting to feel I’m a hair’s breadth and a cocktail away from becoming a latter day W.C. Fields. I acknowledge that the day is coming when a printed newspaper will be no more, and have already seen signs in the degradation of the quality of information contained therein, but until that day comes, I’ll start each day in my kitchen, with a cup of coffee and a black and white newsprint hardcopy of the New York Times.

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Tweetin’

By , October 7, 2009

So I have a Twitter. I update it rarely, but there it is. The point of this blog, however, is not to advertise my Twitter. Instead it is to express wonder at someone else’s Twitter. Looks kinda’ familiar, doesn’t it?

What the hell?

That’s my name, photograph, and city. But it isn’t me! Worse, that person is far better at updating, or “tweeting,” than I am. Look at all the interesting things he (she?) has to share! Note also that this peasprout has way more followers than me.

It is with some chagrin that I must admit– my impostor is doing a better job of being me than I am.

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Not a Narcissist

By , March 29, 2009

I just took Dr. Drew’s Narcissistic Personality Inventory, but only scored an 8. The average person scores 15.3. While on one hand this is something of a silly, throw-away quiz, I must admit that it is fairly indicative of my personality. I do think I lack a certain sort of self-confidence. Which is not to say I hate myself. It’s more that I seldom make a fuss about myself, or stand up for myself. Conversely, I’ve always been very good at standing up for other people, even strangers; just not myself.

I wonder if fixing this is as simple as doing the opposite of what I said I’d do in the quiz?

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What is This? MySpace?

By , January 6, 2006

Since MySpace is all the rage these days, here is the latest ridiculous “survey” that I’ve filled out there, saved here for posterity. And for future embarrassment.

9 lasts.
last cigarette: I don’t smoke, but I had my last pretend cigarette whilst getting air outside at the Chinese Hospital casino bash
last beverage: coffee at Fenton’s
last kiss: friendly? Chloe, unless I kissed Josh tonight. I think I only bundled him up. romantic? Tzuen.
last cd played: actual CD? Brian Jonestown Massacre. Last song, Joy Division is playing now.
last bubble bath: at the Madonna Inn in October of ’04 with She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named
last time you cried: this morning :/
last time you laughed: Moments ago whilst foos-balling with a super-stoned Josh

8 have you evers.
have you ever dated one of your best friends: no
have you ever skinny dipped: no. wait, yes. forevs ago
have you ever kissed somebody and regretted it: boy howdy have I ever
have you ever fallen in love: yes
have you ever lost someone you loved: yes
have you ever been depressed: consult previous blogs…
have you ever been drunk and threw up: *nod*
have you ever ran away: no. but ask me again in a couple weeks.

7 states you’ve been to.
1. Alaska
2. New York
3. Michigan
4. Arkansas
6. Hawaii
7. Texas

6 things you’ve done today.
1. got drunk
2. ate cheeseburgers, plural
3. listened to music
4. read comics
5. wilded in the streets with Teddie, Bronson, Kevin, Josh, and Nick
6. sent a fax

5 favorite things in no order.
1. my friends
2. being massaged
3. cooking
4. her, but not the her you think I mean
5. film noir

4 people you can tell [almost] anything to.
1. Teddie
2. Kathryn
3. Chloe
4. Diane

3 wishes.
1. to be happy again
2. to trust again
3. to love again

2 things you want to do before you die.
1. spend time in at least 50 countries
2. find out why

1 thing you regret.
1. trusting her, the bad her

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I Want My Groove Back

By , May 21, 2005

I live in Berkeley, California, which is pretty much ground zero for liberal philosophy, socialist ideology, and progressive thought in general. Yet, I see so many Berkeley residents living lavish, decadent lives while putting up what seems like little more than a front of caring for the less fortunate. Perhaps they occasionally volunteer somewhere, or dash off a check to a charity now and then, but by and large they live selfishly. I remember the patrons (and managers) at Fizzy’s former workplace who saw nothing wrong with spending $100 on a thermos or $80 on a dustpan. In fact, they seemed to revel in doing so, almost as if they needed to flaunt their wealth and supposed good taste as some misguided way of publicly defining their self-worth. And all the while they espoused the politically correct, “goodwill to fellow man” rhetoric that every self-respecting Berkeley liberal knows by heart. It seemed to be no better than lip service, but no one ever called them out on it.

I don’t pretend for a moment that I am any better. Of course, I don’t have the income of the people I am chastising, but if I did, I wonder how I would behave. Knowing my frugal and bashful nature, I doubt I’d spend money on conspicuous consumption, but doesn’t mean I would rival Mother Teresa were I suddenly to strike it rich. As it stands now, I don’t do much more than the occasional good deed. I volunteered for a time at the San Francisco Food Bank, but that was years ago. Pretty much the extent of my charitable efforts and contributions is whatever money I give to beggars, which can’t amount to more than a few dollars per week on average. Even without a massive bank account, I know I could still do better. In short, I’m no better than the folks I chastise for hypocrisy.

What you ask, prompted me to consider all this stuff? Well, as it happens, the closest residential parking to my apartment is adjacent to the infamous tract of land known as People’s Park. Because of this, I have come to know quite a few of the homeless people who spend their time hanging out at the park. One in particular, Lisa, has taken quite a liking to me. I once bought her a hot dog at Top Dog, and ever since she chats with me. Usually it’s just idle chit chat, but she has asked me a few times now to bring her some fried chicken. Yesterday I was on my way home, and knew I’d be parking by the park, so I made a quick detour to Colonel Sanders’ and bought a 20-piece bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Sure enough, Lisa was at the park when I arrived.

I wasn’t prepared for the reaction. I knew they’d be happy to get it– who wouldn’t be happy? It’s fried chicken! but the outpouring of love and gratitude shocked me. Several people hugged me. I was just glad to feed them, but they seemed to see it as more than just that, which is was what set my mind to thinking on this topic.

I realized something yesterday. Happiness is not something I can find within myself. No amount of logic or rational thought is going to provide me with the key to personal satisfaction. Since youth I have been of the opinion that the key to my happiness is centered around finding my place in this universe, and understanding how I can make the lives of those around me better. It’s about interaction, not solitude. For most of my life, I’ve been able (by circumstance or effort I can’t say with certainty) to stay happy. I’ve seldom even thought about the matter– I’ve just been content with life, and felt I was on a path towards satisfaction and success. Lately, I don’t feel that way at all. Instead, I feel more than a little bit lost. I can’t seem to figure out what I’m supposed to do now, or next, and I don’t quite understand my role in life anymore. I think that is the key right there– when I again feel I have a purpose or goal for which to strive, I think I’ll fall back into my naturally happy rhythm.

I’ve been moping and soul-searching for a couple months now. Along the way I’ve improved myself. I’ve identified and corrected many personal character flaws heretofore unbeknownst to me, and I’m working on fixing others. I still have a long way to go; I’m far from “better,” but I’m doing my best to change that. This seems like the time for it– what better time to focus on self-enrichment and personal growth than while I feel sidelined by life? Hopefully before long I’ll get back into a nice groove, and be a better person than I was before. And hopefully I won’t post anymore rambling, introspective blogs like this! Apologies!

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Some Stuff I Did

By , May 14, 2005

I am in Washington, DC.

__________

Today I withdrew $50 from a Bank of America ATM. I’d never been confronted with such a choice before. I stepped up to the machine intending to withdraw $60, but opted to forego the additional ten dollars simply to see $50 come out of the machine. I briefly wondered if the device would produce a fifty dollar bill, but almost immediately received a ten and two twenties.

__________

I saw a woman walking with what I presumed to be her two children, two daughters no less, neither of whom looked older than six. The woman’s shirt read “It Ain’t Gonna’ Lick Itself.” What mother dresses this way? Why does anyone dress this way? When did this become acceptable?

_________

For the first time in my life I saw an actual Good Humor truck. I’ve seen a few ice cream trucks in my day, but never the famous Good Humor truck. I purchased a popsicle.

__________

There is an impressive thunder and lightning filled storm pounding the house. Good stuff.

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Cemetery

By , May 11, 2005

I grew up about a mile and a half from a cemetery. About the time I started high school, I got into the habit of walking there and wandering about amongst the monuments and trees whenever I had any deep thinking to do. If something in my life was uncertain or upsetting, I’d usually find myself able to sort through it while meandering through the cemetery. Even throughout college, anytime I was visiting my parents and had some school issue, career question, or girl problem, I’d hike out to Pleasant Hill and contemplate that which was on my mind.

Cemeteries are possessed of a serenity that is lacking from most other places in this world, and seemingly one of the last places people treat with any sort of dignity or respect. That is, when you even meet another person there, as a cemetery is also a wonderful place for solitude.

Nowadays, the nearest one to me is Oakland’s Mountain View Cemetery. The higher up the hills you go, the grander the markers and mausoleums become, and the more familiar the names become, too. Merritt, Wheeler, Peralta– it’s a veritable who’s who, or rather who was once who, of Oakland history. I sometimes sneak in after closing time and roam about under the moonlight. I’ve spent many nights perched atop various mausoleums, a living gargoyle, motionless except for the occasional movement required to sip from a flask. The Black Dahlia is buried in that cemetery; her grave makes me feel profoundly sad, as though I’ve already outlived my allotted lifespan.

Maybe you are like most of the friends to whom I’ve mentioned this, and you find it creepy or morbid that I like to walk through a burial ground when I need to think, but it’s just something I’ve done for so long that it’s a part of me. To this day, whenever I pass a cemetery, almost as a reflex I momentarily reflect on my life and the events that have shaped me into the person I am today.

In recent years I’ve had a long run of good luck, and I haven’t had much confusion or sorrow to assimilate, but all the recent turmoil in my life has left me with a lot of unsorted thoughts. Yesterday I spent the better part of the afternoon drifting though the vast expanses of Arlington Cemetery.

Seeing row after row of headstones, endless lists of names and dates, and all the loving memories etched into stone, I am reminded that some day I too will be laid to rest in such a place. It helps me put my own problems in perspective, and reinforces the idea that life is ephemeral, and meant to be enjoyed. Whatever task, deadline, girl, loss, or woe looms over me somehow becomes less frightening when taken in that big picture context.

I’ve never been one to dwell on the past, and I tend to look to the unknown of the future with gusto. I’ve been a bit reluctant to do so of late, but I know I have no other choice. As Seneca wrote (though I can’t swear I remember this verbatim) “Fates lead the willing, and drags along the reluctant.” Or something like that. Perhaps more fitting, shown in the picture below, are the words I found etched into a statue outside the National Archives– What is Past is Prologue.

what is past is prologue

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Hardwood Linoleum

By , February 10, 2005

I am currently remodeling the room in my apartment which I use for an office. One of the upgrades I have planned is to replace the carpeted floor with a hardwood floor. The first step in the process was to remove the carpet. Upon doing so, I discovered that beneath the carpet, some prior tenant had laid down faux hardwood linoleum tiles. I found that to be amusing, and began to chuckle at his feeble attempt to have hardwood, but I was stopped in mid-chuckle when I peeled away the linoleum.

Lo and behold, beneath the faux wood tile was a hardwood floor! In a positively Baudrillardian substitution, someone chose to cover an actual hardwood floor with a pretend hardwood floor. My feeling of superiority over the prior tenant rapidly shifted to one of inadequacy. He actually had hardwood, and purposely chose to hide it beneath a layer of faux hardwood linoleum. That takes confidence, and a steadfast commitment to one’s ideals and decorating philosophies. It is the interior decorating equivalent to sewing a Lacoste alligator onto a Prada shirt. Truly, this former tenant was a stalwart hero in the decorating realm.

Or maybe he was just a lunatic.

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