Something to Read When You're Bored


The Taming of the Storage Unit
September 22, 2008, 9:47 am
Filed under: Life, Random | Tags:

Talk about an anticlimactic comeback topic, but maybe my life is a tad anticlimactic right now.  After all, I spent Saturday cleaning out my storage unit.  I know this isn’t really the most riveting thing to read about, but I think the before and after photos are kind-of entertaining:

Okay, maybe they don’t look all that different, but you’ll notice that in the first picture there are boxes and junk and things jumbled on top of one another almost to the ceiling, making it impossible to even step into the storage space, and in the second one, everything is neatly stacked and organized and you can even walk inside to reach the shelves at the back – something I haven’t been able to do for at least the last year and a half.  So in some ways, this is pretty momentous

I also decided to get rid of an impressive amount of stuff, which you can see stuffed into my old car:

And, to give you an appreciation of how much stuff I had to sift through, here’s a shot of what the storage room looked like while I was in the midst of sorting everything out:

I found some odd stuff in there too:  potting soil, a pair of ski boots (I don’t ski), a table I didn’t think I owned anymore, a disco ball, a box full of random liquor, a Duff man costume, a sketch book from my high school art class, and snow tires for a car I don’t own anymore.  And of course lots of flotation devices and christmas decorations.  But all this will probably be nothing compared to when I finally tackle the spare room:

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Rejection Rejection
April 9, 2008, 10:17 am
Filed under: Random

Herbert A. Millington
Chair – Search Committee
412A Clarkson Hall
Whitson University
College Hill, MA 34109

Dear Professor Millington,

Thank you for your letter of March 16. After careful consideration, I regret to inform you that I am unable to accept your refusal to offer me an assistant professor position in your department.

This year I have been particularly fortunate in receiving an unusually large number of rejection letters. With such a varied and promising field of candidates it is impossible for me to accept all refusals.

Despite Whitson’s outstanding qualifications and previous experience in rejecting applicants, I find that your rejection does not meet my needs at this time. Therefore, I will assume the position of assistant professor in your department this August. I look forward to seeing you then.

Best of luck in rejecting future applicants.

Sincerely,

Chris L. Jensen



Spam Count
February 11, 2008, 10:55 pm
Filed under: Random | Tags: ,

I finally figured out a way to alleviate my annoyance at getting huge numbers of spam e-mails in my otherwise much-loved gmail account. For a long time I was an avid spam deleter, sending new spam into permanent oblivion moments and sometimes even seconds after it appeared in my automatically provided spam folder. It was bound to catch my attention eventually that right next to the ‘delete all spam messages now’ button there was a little note informing me that ‘messages that have been in Spam more than 30 days will be automatically deleted’. I used to look at that note and wonder how on earth anyone could stand to let that collection of insidious solicitations sit festering for such a long time (although they can be entertaining- right now subject lines in my spam folder include ‘Change your garden tool into a POWER DRILL’ and ‘Get your Giant Pilot into her C0ckpit’), but eventually it made me wonder just how many messages the spam folder would accrue if left alone for 30 days. Finally my curiosity overcame my spam aversion, and right around the first of the year I stopped deleting new spam.

It was with surprise and delight that I discovered this new approach completely changed my perspective on spam. I found myself looking forward to spam as the number of those inane and unstoppable e-mails began to grow. I even grew impatient for spam to arrive as the count approached more and more impressive figures. I stopped getting annoyed with stray spam messages that made it into my inbox; with a quick click of the ‘report spam’ button they became bonus points in the game of ‘how much spam can one person possibly recieve?’ The day it finally hit a thousand was an exciting milestsone (January 19th), and I could hardly wait to see how much more it would grow by the end of the 30 days.

After peaking at about 1750 messages on January 30th, the count dropped back down to just under 1700 and my spam baseline was officially established. Now every day instead of repeatedly cleaning out my spam folder and irately wishing the stupid thing would stay empty for 10 minutes, I just check out the count (1746 right now) to see whether it beats the current record. So far that’s been about 1850, but I think if I go feed my e-mail address to some sketchy-looking websites it might help boost my numbers. And if I get bored there’s always the possibility of sharing this liberating approach to spam with friends and then competing to see who can rack up more spam in the space of 30 days. Anyone up for a spam contest?



My Superbowl Dream
February 3, 2008, 10:44 am
Filed under: Life, Random | Tags: ,

It’s Superbowl Sunday and I just woke up from the most bizarre sports dream I’ve ever had. I think I was in France and I was watching a very strange sort of soccer game. Typical rules of play did not apply, and the highlights I remember were these:

First, that both teams were decked out in brightly colored costumes and there was an important ritual facilitated by the referee where both teams participated in a choreographed ‘wave’ move that went from one end of the field to the other, and every team member did a large wave of the arms paired with a full body bend over to the side. I thought it looked pretty neat.

At other points in the game, all the team members were dressed up as odd objects. The team on the left side of the field consisted of players masquerading as large office supplies, of which I most vividly remember there being two staplers. All the costumes coordinated though and were characterized by glittery pastel colors and clean, sharp-cornered lines. The other team seemed to be mostly dressed up as large pieces of furniture (one of which was an enormous multi-columned file cabinet, where the square drawers were sometimes used against the other team), although at another point in the game I remember at least half of those team members having keyboards, which it became apparent were a critical game-playing tool. The goalie on that team got pretty upset when his keyboard was trashed by some flying object launched by the other team. It might’ve been the ball, but I don’t think it was. Come to think of it, I don’t remember ever seeing a ball.

Later in the game the team on the left scored some extra style points when they threw in a lift during the whole ‘wave’ sequence. They got a lot of points because they quite fluidly assembled a very impressive pyramid of players, which included an elaborately decorated horse on the second tier. The dismount was less graceful though, as one of the players returned to the ground quite clumsily (losing some points), but the lowering of the horse went off without a hitch and I was impressed.

The last thing I remember before I woke up was trying to figure out a new development in the game where players all took off one red shoe and threw it at a large pegboard decked out with many random objects. As the shoes hit certain numbers that were mixed in with the objects, crowd members yelled out the number and the other team got pretty upset, I think it meant that they had to do some sort of challenge that got more difficult the more numbers that were hit.

Oddly the entire time I was quite certain I was watching a soccer game. I’ll be very impressed if the superbowl today turns out to be anywhere near as interesting.



Yoga and Cats Don’t Mix
January 28, 2008, 11:40 pm
Filed under: Athletic, Random | Tags: ,

So I just tried out the new yoga DVD I bought, Yoga for Stress Relief and it was just the thing I was looking for, with lots of relaxing poses that stretch out and open up tense parts of your body. By the time I finished the lower back chapters I felt like a happy puddle on my living room floor. The only hitch was my cat Mango, who was infuriated as I ignored her ingenious attempts to make me pet her while I was opening up my chest to let the radiance of my heart do something-or-other (the DVD did have some over-the-top verbage, I probably would have been snickering a lot if there had been anyone else watching it with me). Anyhow, Mango progressed from simple head-butting against my shoulder to laying on the floor with her head resting in my hand and staring up at me plaintively, and then finally she stooped to dragging her entire body across my hand just in case I had forgotten how the whole cat/hand contact thing worked. She finally gave up when I got to the legs up the wall pose and my hand wound up inconveniently under an armchair. She’s still looking a little disappointed in me, but I think I made it up to her at least partly when I discarded the over-stretched rubber band from my hair onto the floor and she got to enjoy a thrilling 5 minutes of stalking and attacking it.



Intro
January 28, 2008, 7:28 pm
Filed under: Athletic, Dancing, Design, Entertainment, Food, Music, Neat Stuff, Random, Travel

So I’m starting up a blog and I think it’s going to be about a lot of very random stuff. So just to get things started, I’m throwing together a quick sampler of the types of entries you might encounter as my blog continues….

Travel – I figure most trips I take will be worthy of at least a little blip in my blog, but I’ll try to keep things light, focusing mainly on the highlights. For instance, if I were to recap the visits to Iowa that I took last October, it might look something like this:

Had to go to Iowa for work over and over again. The first trip was slightly novel, but even that wore off pretty quickly. I have decided that I hate Northwest Airlines (cranky personnel, evil seating system that makes you sit in the back of the plane unless you join their little club, and no entertainment whatsoever on board. Grrr, I hate them). Almost no food in Iowa is really worth mentioning, but our hotel somehow managed to have this amazing chocolate cake with a molten center that comes with Haagen-Dazs ice cream, a big pile of whipped cream, and a small tureen of hot fudge. That cake may have been the highlight of the entire series of trips. The business stuff was okay, although it got a little repetitive by the fourth trip, and the real climax was on trip number three when Northwest sent my luggage to the wrong airport under someone else’s name. By the end of that week I was so frazzled that I almost burst into tears when I went to my local wireless store and found out that they no longer carry chargers for my cell phone (which was needed to replace the one still lost in my luggage, of course). And for some reason being in Iowa made me want to drink Coke all the time, which I almost never drink at home. It was a bizarre time…

Athletic Stuff – I tend to be always working toward some type of athletic something-or-other, so odds are it will come up from time to time. As for specific events you might hear about this year, I’m hoping to run the Vancouver Half Marathon in early may, I’m signed up for the Ragnar Northwest Passage Relay in July, and also for Cascade Bicycle Club’s RSVP in August. And I really hope I manage to squeeze in a triathlon this summer too.

Dancing – I don’t know how often this will come up, but I am in a swing dance performance troupe, so there’s bound to be an announcement or something whenever we have performances (expect to see us at Folklife in May!). Plus I might occasionally be inclined to rave about a particularly excellent night out dancing, like two weeks ago when a friend from the troupe persuaded me to go dancing at the Highliner, a gritty little dive bar at the fisherman’s terminal. I got to dance with super great dancers (including of course Mike, the troupe guy, who is a blast to dance with), and I had this one amazing dance with a random guy I had never danced with before named Steve, who I think may have been my dancing soul mate. It was awesome.

(if you’re curious about my troupe, it’s the Savoy Swing Club Performance Troupe)

Neat Stuff – One of the hazards of being a designer is finding really cool stuff that you really really want to have and then discovering how ridiculously expensive it is. A good example of this is the Selk Bag. It’s a sleeping bag with arms and legs and a big hood, so you can get up and frolic in the middle of the night without giving up the happy cozy warmth of your bedding, plus you get to look like a giant teddy bear. While recognizing that the practicality of this item is nearly nonexistent, I seriously want one. I actually think the cost may have come down since I first discovered this brilliant product, so don’t be shocked if you see a giant teddy bear-ish figure frolicking in the middle of the night.

selk3.jpg

(the designer’s website)

Music – Every once in a while I get pretty excited about some new song I’ve discovered or an awesome playlist I’ve just put together. I expect this enthusiasm will eventually spill over onto my blog.

Entertainment – Sometimes there are just entertaining things in the world which simply must be shared. For instance, I found this video on the blog of a boy I like and it made me like him even more:

(there might be a lot of copying fun things from other people in this category)

Food – I get pretty excited about really good food (or drinks), especially ice cream. In this category you might see raves about super delicious things I’ve discovered lately (like Margaret’s homeade apricot pistachio ice cream last night, where the apricot flavor permeated the ice cream in a truly amazing way) or rants about food gone wrong, like how it seems nearly every restaurant makes chocolate milkshakes with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup and it’s just wrong. Vanilla has no place in a chocolate milkshake and in my opinion the only way to properly make a chocolate milkshake is from chocolate ice cream (I personally choose Ultra Chocolate, made by Double Rainbow and sold at Trader Joes)

Random – I’m sure other nonsense will find its way into my blog as well, like updates on my exciting effort to knit a scarf and testing out the ‘world’s best paper airplane’ according to the dangerous book for boys.

Stay tuned!