Monthly Archives: February 2011

It’s not magic, but it’s close enough

A long, long time ago, I cared about making sense.  My arguments were well supported, rhetoric never off.  I held my points with reason and my logic was understood by my intellectual peers.  These were glorious times.  Then I went outside.  And now, I will be unable to make another useful or thought-provoking point until I say the following:

I.  Hate.  Wind.

No, seriously, that’s what this is about.  I bloody hate the wind. 

One, where the hell does it come from?  I already know what you’re thinking:  “Tom, why even write this?  God invented Wikipedia for a reason.”  No.  Just no.  I shouldn’t have to research the cause of wind and discover that it falls somewhere between heat differentials and the Earth’s rotation.  I understood the rain cycle in third grade.  I knew how the sun worked in middle school.  I understand particle physics more than this singular aspect of meteorology. 

It comes down to this scene:  I’m standing outside.  The sky is clear and the world is peaceful.  Then it strikes.  The trees begin to sway.  My sense of direction is lost.  Dirt and debris is blasted into the air and it fills my eyes.  I am left dazed and confused, entrapped in a swirling vortex of nefarious forces. 

Which brings me to my second point, it makes everything worse.  It makes cold days colder.  It makes hot days drier.  It made Al Gore think he had a good idea.  I’m just kidding, it would take a few posts for me to adequately destroy wind-farming, so I’ll just leave it there. 

Still, I’m walking from the library to my dorm.  The weather is pleasant, likely somewhere in the low-forties.  And then it strikes.  A gust whips my coat back and I’m suddenly freezing.  My eyes are dry and my face feels whipped.  My hair looks awesome, but the rest of me is fairly miserable. 

My third and final point is that the wind is vindictive.  And this is the point where you go, “Okay, Tom’s lost it.  This was interesting while it lasted.”  But if you dwell on it, you’ll begin to realize my point.  The wind naturally kills you when the situation doesn’t call for it.  However, when the situation does call for wind, it either does not work, or it works against you. 

Think about wind farms.  Whenever I drive east through California, I drive past huge wind farms and always notice that a good portion of them aren’t moving.  I know that there’s wind because of the dust tornadoes outside, but the windmills are still. 

Or perhaps you want to think about kites.  I don’t know about you in particular, (Yes, I’m talking about you.  No, not you, the one with the- yes.) but every time I’ve tried to fly a kite, it had ended in a Charlie Brown-esque disaster.  It usually begins with me being unable to achieve lift for a good fifteen minutes.  Then, once my little aircraft has taken to the skies, I gleefully run around for about five minutes before the wind shifts direction, driving my kite out of the sky and into a group of picnickers with the force of an intercontinental ballistic missile. 

Altogether, wind is evil.  It’s invisible, lacking a creator, and working to make my life miserable.  It may not be dark magic, but it’s close enough to warrant a hate paralleled only by the people of Salem, Massachusetts with regards to Wiccans.


Starbucks: The Confession

After ripping on a cup and, to some degree, the company, I’ve decided that I should come out of the closet.  I am… a Starbucks addict.  Yes, though it pains me to say it, I don’t think I could function without my morning Sugar-Free Hazelnut Venti Americano.  If memory serves, and I’ve not had one today, it’s three shots of espresso with a couple pumps of sugar-free syrup, and the remainder of the cup is filled with hot water.  Altogether, it’s about the same strength of the drip coffee, but Starbucks drip coffee is kind of miserable. 

I purchase one of these drinks every morning from Monday to Thursday from the Starbucks under Gelman Library.  This Starbucks has one person to take your drink order, either one or two people on the registers, and three people serving drinks.  Now, being at the centre of a university, it’s fairly busy in the morning…and the afternoon…and the evening.  While I can often walk in and only three or four people will be in line ahead of me, there are mornings where the queue will be fifteen to twenty deep.  It’s not abnormal for me to stand in line for fifteen minutes before waiting five minutes for my drink to be made.  And for that reason, there have been several instances in which I’ve skipped my history lecture to get my coffee because I’m a zombie in java due to the inability of my school shuttle to travel five miles in twenty minutes. 

The worst part of being an addict of the most-bashed coffee corporation in history, and shopping in the bipolar Starbucks-of-doom, and missing classes to support a physiological need for caffeine, is that I don’t actually mind it.  I enjoy popping in to the Starbucks, smelling brewed coffee (which I refuse to order unless I’m going to drink more than six cups), and occasionally purchasing a muffin.  It’s pleasant and detracts from my usual routine of running between buildings and eating only because I know I won’t have another chance to eat for anywhere between five and seven hours. 

And for those who despise Starbucks like fundamentalist Christians despise Charles Darwin, these aren’t excuses.  I enjoy the feel of the a coffee shop.  I enjoy the smells and the sounds and not interacting with the people.  I applaud Starbucks for creating the most ubiquitous coffee shop on the planet.  And while I was disappointed that the Trenta is only available for cold drinks (I’d love four shots of espresso instead of three), I’ll continue to purchase my order until somebody legalizes the intravenous drip.

@|6: The Fail

The best way to begin this is by explaining the title of this post.  The three characters in the beginning are @ (read: at), | (called “pipe”, but it’s known to the company as “break”), and 6 (if you don’t know what this is, we’ll enrol you in kindergarten).  Pronounced At-Break-Six, it’s the name of our organization.  So now you must be asking yourself, “what does this mean?”  “how did it come to be?”  “in what way is this relevant to their products?”.  Well, it doesn’t really mean anything.  Ergo, it’s not relevant to the products.  Truthfully, the name was invented when Tom was discussing the time he’d purchased AIG stock with Ed.  Eventually, Ed began laughing at Tom over AIM and began writing in l33t.  So the two began an impromptu competition on who could make the most leet AIG title.  The best it got was @|6.  Then Tom read it aloud.  And it was good.

So that’s how @|6 came to be.  The second part “The Fail” denotes the events that just occurred.  All the posts prior to this one were hosted by WordPress under the address  But @|6 is my organization and I decided that I wanted to host our musings there.  So I tried to create a new blog with that name and address.  You cannot imagine my horror when I discovered that somebody else had already claimed this domain.  How could this possibly be?  @|6 doesn’t mean anything!  In any other use, this name is absolutely stupid!  So I decided to visit the existing  (if you just clicked on that, I applaud your mind-numbing obedience to hyperlinks)  There was nothing there.  Somebody was squatting on the domain.  I couldn’t believe that people would actually do that on WordPress.  What the hell?  I began drafting a message I would send to the owner about it, so I scrolled up to the top of the page looking for the link to the author.  And I found him.  And he was me. 

Damn it.


(The feel-good message on a disposable Starbucks cup:)

Everything we do, you do.  You stop by for a coffee.  And just by doing that, you let Starbucks buy more coffee from farmers who are good to their workers, community and planet.  By buying your daily grande-half-caff-Tasmanian-soy-chai-fair-trade-I’ve-singlehandedly-funded-a-third-world-country latte, you allow us to continue making up words that make us look European.  You allow us to convince the public that a caffeinated milk shake is an acceptable form of coffee.  You allow us to establish a cannibalistic location, approximately forty feet from the last one.  (Yes, you are making it possible to buy a latte, walk out the door, take four sips, throw it away, and immediately purchase the same latte from a different Starbucks.)  You let us charge you five dollars for a drink that allows us to continue our cannibalistic business model.  You let us put a Starbucks in the Forbidden City.  (Our coffee is so good, it got through the Great Wall of cultural isolationism.)  By buying our coffee, you made Seattle the mecca of coffee.  So toss this coffee cup over your shoulder, pat yourself on the back, and walk into another Starbucks.

You’re truly an American hero.

(…slightly reworded)

America: Love it or Leave it!

I love that phrase.  And not for the right reasons.  While I like to think that I’m a patriot, or at least not a domestic terrorist, the line is simply ridiculous.  As fate loves to put me in creative situations (read: random happenstances in which my creativity is invoked during periods when I obviously have something to do), I received a sheet of paper from a TA with a list of logical fallacies.  It’s a fairly standard list containing the same fallacies I was taught in high school, but it had examples that were fun to giggle at.  And, to my glee, it included the line above.  According to the sheet, this is an example of false dilemma, notably the limiting of an issue to two solutions when more exist.  But you know what?  I believe in transparency.  And, as an American, I enjoy options.  So, I present the following to be read in this form: (issue:solution)

Issue: America


  • Love it.
  • Leave it.
  • Ignore it.
  • Have mild qualms about it.
  • Think about it constantly.
  • Think about it inconsistently.
  • Have mixed feelings about it.
  • Feel the need to force your opinion of it onto others.
  • Paint a picture of it.
  • Hate it.
  • Drive across it.
  • Eat on it.
  • Fly to it.
  • Eat in it.
  • Eat away from it.
  • Dirty it.
  • Fly away from it.
  • Clean it.
  • Confuse it.
  • Lie to it.
  • Fly over it.
  • Swim to it.
  • Die in it.
  • Kill for it.
  • Practice medicine in it.
  • Suffer a malpractice suit in it because you’re not actually a surgeon.
  • Wear a suit in it.
  • Lose your coat in it.
  • Export a stolen car from it.
  • Go to jail for ten years after being convicted of GTA in it.
  • Experience it’s prison system.
  • Launder money though it.
  • Make billions and pay taxes in it.
  • Forget that you live in it until the IRS audits you.
  • Attempt to live off-the-grid and realize it’s impossible within it.
  • Invent a weapon that you can mass-market to its citizens.
  • Take pride in knowing that, despite the global opinion of being an evil glutton, everybody wants to be like you.
  • Take a history course on it.
  • Realize that during WWII, it also had internment camps.
  • Remember that it once segregated people by the amount of melanin their body produced.
  • Accept that it has done grotesque things to the English language.
  • Wonder why it measures things by the pound, foot, and liquid ounce.
  • Read a book in it.
  • Fly its flag.
  • Burn its flag.
  • Fly its burning flag.
  • Pretend it’s Canada.
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