Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Quiznos... give me my six bucks!

I took a friend out to lunch because I had a great coupon for buy-one-get-one-free Subs at Quiznos. I arrive at said Quiznos at 1710 G Street NW... and THERE'S A SIGN THAT SAYS NO COUPONS ARE ACCEPTED HERE.
What kind of establishment can refuse coupons?
Is this a rogue Quiznos?
Are they trying to be an exclusive Quiznos, like, "Oh, we don't accept coupons from you riff-raff. Now tally-ho over to a Subway with the rest of the welfare-check recipients."
I asked them what the deal was and they shrugged. I also had another 8 coupons from the Sunday paper - all apparently worthless.
We were starving and short on time, so we grumbled and got lunch anyway.
Now I have the scanned evidence of the crime.
I want my six dollars!
(say it with me now) I want my six dollars!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Am I an asshole?

Here's a good one for you ethicists out there:

I'm there 1.5 hours early to a book-signing event. During that time someone puts down a fanny pack and an umbrella on two seats next to mine. Fast forward an hour, and it's 10 minutes till showtime and the owners of these items are nowhere to be seen. The room is now absolutely packed, and everyone is eying these seats.

An elderly woman and her very frail husband ask me if the seats are taken. I stand up and ask the crowd if anyone left their items there. No one answers. I tell them to sit down. A man in front of me gives me a look and says, "That's not how things are supposed to work." I ignore him. The couple sit down and thank me. Her husband is rail thin and unsteady on his feet, and needs help sitting down. He looks about 80 at least.

Well, just before the event is supposed to start, the people with the items come back... and they are also senior citizens, although they only look about 70 and in very good health. They tell us that those are their seats. I told them that they weren't here so I give them away to this needy couple. The late-comers say, "Sorry, but we arrived here an hour early to get these seats."
The older couple awkwardly shuffle out, and we all feel like assholes. Luckily, a person in a nearby row offers his seat to the elderly man (I tried to offer mine but he didn't hear me).

So: Which wins out - arriving early and staking out a seat vs. giving a seat to someone older than you are... even if you're 70.

My opinion: I probably should have shut up and respected the time-honored ritual of seat saving, but I also get points for trying.

What is acceptable subway conversation?

At lunch today we were discussing Metro conversation, and what constitutes acceptable chatter.

Ask about something the person is wearing (hopefully in flattery), asking for directions, comments about how someone just made it onto a train, or about faults in service (slow train, hot train, crowded train, etc.). If these conversations turn into greater ones, that's fine.

Not OK:
Just about anything else, especially comments about religion, work, kids, etc. that seemingly come out of nowhere. It's not cool to involve people in your personal life out of the blue.
Now, these rules are general. Me, I like talking with people and learning about what makes them tick. As long as you know when to shut up (like after 18 minutes of yammering) or when I'm done talking to you because I'm tired / in a bad mood, we're fine. Let's chat about your tattoo, or your child's addiction to video games, or the book you're reading. You have my full attention for the next two stops, because that's when I get off.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Jon recommends... Hanging out on Islands

This Yom Kippor I'm struggling with an ear infection, so I passed on temple and did some outdoorsiness instead with my friend Ilan.
We went to Theodore Roosevelt Island, a tiny mile or so island in the Potomac right near Georgetown. The place is a nature preserve dedicated to Roosevelt's environmentalism, which apparently was considerable.
And it was wonderful. There are forests, marshes, tranquil overlooks on the river, and even some deer. As "Jewish" an experience as synagogue is, it's also divorced from the environment, which is a pretty much a spiritual place 24-7. I know some people think that any High Holiday activity that doesn't involve 7 hours of synagogue is bullshit. Well, to Sheol with them.

D&D soda and catch up

  • If D&D can release a beverage, a la Halo 3, doe that make it cool? Or a desperate attempt to snag more quarters out of geeks?
  • If I let someone cut in front of me when I'm driving, why is it so crucially important that they give me the "thanks" wave? If the don't, I'm like furious and want a safe to fall on their car. is this normal?
  • Apparently, you can sometimes take expired prescription drugs, although they do lose their potency (like Z-PAC antibiotics). My pharmacy cuz said that the molecules of the meds do actually break down over time, but it's often better than nothing. Exposure to moisture will speed this the hell up (so don't keep important meds in the bathroom). Also, I had always wondered what the difference between prescription iduprofen and the over the counter stuff is. The answer: prescription stuff is just like 3 or 4 regular pills. Tada!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ethical seafood

Inspired by my friend Melissa's great food blog, and a superb Rosh Hashanah meal Dianna and I went to at Hudson, I wanted to share this guide that helps you pick out fish to eat, either at restaurants or at the supermarket, that:
  • are sustainable and spawn quickly
  • are low in PCBs
  • create minimal environmental impact
Here's a printable version as well.

In summary, the best seafood products are:
Barramundi, U.S.-farmed
Clams, Mussels, and Oysters, farmed
Mahimahi, pole- and troll-caught
Salmon, Alaska wild
Tilapia, U.S.-farmed

Ones to avoid:
Atlantic Bluefin Tuna - a sushi favorite :(
Atlantic Cod
Atlantic Halibut
Caviar from wild-caught sturgeons
Chilean Sea Bass - it's really called the Toothfish!
Orange Roughy
Salmon, farmed
Shrimp, imported

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dave Madden = Idea thief?

I usually am composed and well-mannered on my blog, but not today. Today, my friend Carolyn alerted me that someone has stolen my clever blog title.

Whom, you ask?

Why a fucking member of the Partridge Family, that's who. OK, maybe not a member, but their manager in the TV show, Reuben Kincaid. His not-so-original headline for his new memoir is....

Reuben on Wry - The Memoirs of Dave Madden

How weak is that??? Dave, where'z my royalty check?

UPDATE: His first blog post was on Jan. 24, 2008. Mine was Jan. 23, 2008!! Suck it!!

DOUBLE UPDATE: Apparently, the book came out on Dec 31, 2007, so apparently he beat me to the punch by a month. But I still hate him.

Wikipedia list of unsual deaths

Who says learning isn't fun?
I enjoyed the one about the guy who somehow fell into an active volcano. (Link)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Bait and switch on student loans

Student loans are a crushing debt. I could literally be leasing a Lexus with my monthly payment.
So when someone passes legislation or there's a good deal roaming around I check into it.
I flipped my metaphorical wig when I heard that the Federal government had a special plan to "forgive student loan debt in exchange for public service." It's called the
2007 College Cost Reduction Act, and it sounds like the gold at the end of the rainbow.
Except for one thing:

Students who enter government or nonprofit jobs can have their student loans forgiven if they have not paid off the debt after 10 years."

And guess what the loan repayment schedule for just about ALL loans is?
120 monthly payments, or Ten Years.

Feh on that.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I killed the environment

I didn't mean to... I was just trying to overcome my Jewish handicap - a.k.a. having asthma.
So I went to get my inhaler prescription refilled, and instead of the regular $10 it was THIRTY FRICKIN DOLLARS. I naturally assumed the drug companies were shaking me down for some reason, like because I was alive or something.
I asked my cousin the pharmacist and he said:

Yes they replaced generic Albuterol with Proair, which is the same but does not have the ozone repellent in it so it is environmentally safe. You are correct it is more money until the generic comes out. Also, it should weigh less b/c that ozone propellant had weight to it.

OK, so maybe I have some apologies to make. Ever since I was in fourth grade I have been slinging inhalers around, and puffing like a magic dragon. Every time I did so, I get I was slowly thinning the ozone layer. I chose myself over Captain Planet. Sorry - put that global warming stuff on my tab.

Friday, September 18, 2009

You got Kanye'd!!

If you think your website is good enough for Kanye to diss the hell outta it, type in website address and he will pay you a very, very special visit.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Dog interlude

And cat

Who are these "special interest groups," anyway?

When I think of the dreaded "special interest groups" that are railed against by every politician ever, I usually think of traditionally conservative groups - business interests, corporate lobbying, military-industrial and prison-industrial complex stuff.
So I admit I was shocked when I saw this, a chart by the good folks at OpenSecrets showing that 8 out of 10 of the biggest special interest groups are heavily DEMOCRATIC!
Maybe I've been drinking the Kool Aid?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

We need cats to live

Anyone who knows me knows that I hate cats. I'm very allergic to them. They ruined most of my childhood by making sure my days and nights were laced with Albuterol inhalers and steroid medications.
And they seem to know I hate them, and give me extra attention out of spite.
But, it turns out I should be nicer to these felines. Because having cats around can help prevent nasty things, like... oh I don't know... The Black Plague.

From Wikipedia: The persecution of cats in Europe is often overlooked as a contributing factor in the spread of plague. In years prior to the outbreak, cats had been vilified and slain in mass, due to their growing popular association with Satan and witches. Pope Gregory IX declared cats' association with the devil in the early 1200s. The mass slaughter of cats preceding the arrival of infected rats greatly reduced a potential predator of the rat, allowing rat populations to flourish unnaturally.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The spy in your web browser

Most of us are content with our web surfing experience.... until this comes around.
Apparently, if you don't occasionally delete your cookies and delete your web history, you are building an easily traceable file about what you check out online.
This site quick tallies up just about everything you've been looking at online, and scrupulous others can assemble this data on you as well (in theory, anyway).
So periodically delete 'em, especially if you're famous or have enemies.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Heil, heil... the gangs all here?

I wouldn't have believed this if I hadn't seen it first - Americans, for a short period of time, were encouraged to salute the flag in a sorta Nazish sorta of way.
Observe at right.
Very strange... and stranger that most of my posts seem to be about Nazis nowadays...
(Hat tip to the blog where I got the photo).

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Harvard Crimson prints Holocaust Denier ad

The Harvard Crimson is, supposedly, run by undergraduates (although I've heard that they have paid adult staffers who make the real decisions).

In any case, it looks like they ran an ad for a Holocaust denier.

Now, newspapers from time to time get ads from crackpots that are either grossly unprofessional or borderline offensive / racist. Some people have money and axes to grind.

So the decision to run this ad makes me think of a few things:

1. Perhaps the students really do run the day-to-day operations, because no adult professional would run this ad - it's horrible publicity for the paper, encourages intellectually dishonest conversation, would piss off Jewish donors / readers, and this isn't worth the few hundred dollars in ad money. The apology then, came from an adult - the folks with the real power.

2. It doesn't surprise me that students would choose to run it - most college folk see things in moral absolutes, and Israel / Judaism is no longer the cause celebre it once was. Maybe they thought they were doing a favor to an underdog / upholding free speech. The decision by a paper to run / not run ads, however, has little to do with free speech in my opinion.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Mulletsgalore.... is no more

As a senior in college back in the late 90's, some cool fellow turned me on to this new trend called "Laughing at people with mullets." There was only one site of any reputation to document this greasy phenomenon -
Sadly, I just learned today this great site, which coined the terms "femullet" (women with mullets) amongst many others, has shut down.
Please bow your rat's nests for a moment of silence.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Jews shooting skeet...

...with shotguns, naturally.
Observations from a skeet firing range:

1. Gun people are nice to newbies. They asked if we had shot before and when we said no they gave us a demo. Our gun buddy also did not support the "gun nut" stereotype - he's a physics major and was studying linear algebra while we were shooting.

2. Gun people are really, really good shots. Like, 100 for 100 good shots. And they bring their own gear. They also kind of look like fly fisherman.

3. Guns are cheap to rent. A 12 gauge shotgun and 100 shells for 4 people is $15 a person.

4. Shotgun shells are heavier than you think. They are like rolls of quarters. They also "kick" at different levels of force depending on how much gunpowder is in them. We used "1 1/8 ounce" shells. My shoulder only started feeling sore after shell #30 or so.

5. Guns are less scary than you think. At first, the instruction they gave us seemed laughable. I handed over my driver's license, they handed me a shotgun and ammo. Our guide showed us how to load, where to stand and how to aim.
He taught us basic gun safety - don't load the gun anywhere but the shooting range, keep it barrel down at all times except when you are about to shoot. When shooting, lean forward, and if you're not shooting, hug a wall.
Without 30 seconds we were shooting. We felt like we had no business being anywhere near a gun, but in the end, we realized gun safety really is mostly common sense. We were perfectly safe, and the gun quickly became a tool (albeit still a very dangerous one).
I still don't believe in personal handgun ownership, but I feel less frightened by the thought of "gun nuts." At least the ones I saw.

6. Guns are hard to use. I went zero for 50. My friends said they would most likely not choose me on their team to fight the zombie apocalypse. Can't blame 'em....

Thursday, September 3, 2009

It might be uncool to bash Wal-Mart patrons this way...

There's something sorta unsavory about the new Wal-Mart gawking site - People of Wal-Mart.
But it doesn't hit you right away. For a while it's fun - look at these crazy critters!
But then when you look at the Facebook page, you see what the site truly is - a place to mock poor people. Poor, and generally fairly unattractive people who probably don't want to be documented and mocked by 20-somethings when they buy groceries.
There are some mentally unstable people too.
So, yes, it's tough not to browse the site, but I feel really guilty anyway.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Fun sand zen - DRAW HERE

Thanks Ira for the tip here. Love it!!! Draw some walls and the elegance will reveal itself.