March 25, 2009

apologize profusely, and then do it again

Louis CK is one of the best working stand-up comedians today, and has been putting out the most consistently excellent comedy specials in the past decade or so.  Plus his red hair gives me a bit of a vested interest in his success.  In SAT analogy terms:


Recently Louis CK was on a USO tour and has been writing about it on  The following is an excerpt from his latest update that I found particularly inspiring:

We’ve been here for two days and had not done a show yet. I was starting to get a little worried about how the shows would go. All we have done is sat at tables and signed autographs. The show is me, an ex-supermodel named Leeanne Tweeden, three country western singers and the cheerleaders. when we do the autographs, I am by far the least interesting person to the kids. but they politely ask for mine anyway. I have had a few fans, but only few. So i was starting to wonder if I fit in here. I have been warned, also, by many, to keep it clean. Not somethign I ‘m great at. I’ve also been “taken aside” by some people, some the same who warned me, and they tell me “Look, do your show. Try to keep it clean but do what you do. This is for these kids.” SO it’s a little confusing.

I started to have other worries to. For instance, for the last six months I”ve been opening my shows with about five minutes about how everyone dies. Not really okay to say to a crowd of people that might die tomorrow and know someone who just did. SO I had to rethink everything.

The show started with the sargent major, who the men love, and who brought us all here. he made a boring but sincere speech thanking everyone and telling the troops to have fun.
Leanne tweeden, who emcees the show, made a long emotional speech about the troops this and the troops that and America loves you and I know what it’s like to be away from home and all that.
One of the country singers (i’ll give you their names later when i am coherent) went on and did about five songs. The crowd was appreciative. He also said a lot about how much america loves them and god bless and all that. The feeling I had from the crowd was “Hey, we didn’t come here to be thanked. Do a show.”

Then it was my turn. I had zero idea what I was going to do but as I watched the show before me I realized how politel it all was and that no one had said anything real at all.
I peeked at the audience from the stage door. eVeryone was wearing knit caps, parkas, gloves, everyone was shivering and stamping their feet. The performers were all wearing coats and puffy clothes. I was wearing a thick fleece jacket. As Leeanne said my name I muttered “Fuck it” and threw off the fleece. I went out into the cold night air (outdoor show int he middle of the cold cold desert, like being on mars) in my tshirt, just like any other show.
I hit the stage, not knowing what I would say first till the second i put the mike to my face. I looked at them all and said “how are you fuckers doing?” The place went bezerk and it became instantly plain to me what they needed and wanted and what I needed to do. “You people are in a very fucked up place. I mean, it’s Kuwait, the dessert and right over there is a starbucks. I saw the sign and thought it would be a little tent with coffe, but it’s a real starbucks! With the jazz music, the chess tables and the faggot with the laptop.” They couldn’t believe it. the laughs were enormous. I was filthy. It was awesome. People were going crazy. It was like looking out over choppy water. People rocking back and forth, punching each other, clapping, stamping. It was mayhem. Every time I went way over the line I would say “I’m so sorry. I am not supposed to be saying any of this. I”m so sorry. Am I in trouble?” which would only make them laugh more. The sargent major was in the front row, arms folded, surrounded by Colonels and whatnot. None of them laughing. All aroudn them were young warriors, men and women of all ages, laughing and cheering at things that NONE of them could think about saying on this base, EVER.

After a particularly over the top bit, i paused to let them rest. AS soon as there was quiet, a young soldier yelled out passionately “thank you sargent Major!” I was stunned. he was thanking him for bringing me there. and I felt also that he was helping me because everyone felt I was getting myself into huge trouble for their enjoyment. When he said it, everyone cheered. I said “You guys, the Sargent major is a great great guy. And what I love about him is he’s just a soldier like all of you. He’s not some asshole officer.”
I cannot describe the reaction that this got. No one could believe I said it. They made a huge racket, a mix of “Oh my god!’ “Oh shit!” and whooping and laughing. It was bannanas.
I did about 25 minutes and said “Thank you guys. Goodnight’ Every single soldier lept to their feet and cheered. I yelled over them. “This is the best show I”ve done in years. Thank you thank you thank you!” I kept yelling thank you and they kept cheering. It was very very emotional. I had never felt that way on stage in my life. BEcause even in the best shows I”ve done for the largest crowds, they only laugh. These kids laughed with such relief, with such gratitude. I never made people laugh that needed to laugh that badly. It was amazing.

Back stage I was shaking. It was a stunning stunning experience. I stepped outside next to the stage and was immediately swarmed by young kids wanting a picture. I took hundreds or pictures as the next country act played.

EVery single kid that came up to me said how badly they had needed the laughs. Most of them have been here for a year and will be here for another. they had all been “stop gapped” and were only in KUwait as a small break from northern hostile deployments. At least fifty of them said exactly this “I ain’t laughed once since I got here last december. Can’t tell you how much that meant, sir.” they all called me sir.

The Sargent major walked past me and into the dressing room. Someone told me I should disappear because he was comgin to deal with the problem I created. I decided it was better to confront him head on and not wait for things to trickle down, or to let someone else take the beating. The thing that gives me the freedom to do what I did is that I am the only one in the chain of command that is not accountable to ANYONE.

When I got backstage, the sargent major was talking to Jeff, the promoter who runs the show. Jeff was saying, in a pleading voice “Sargent Major, I understand but the man got a standing ovation.” SMA Preston was about to argue and I stepped in. I grabbed his hand and said “Sir. I am really really sorry. I mean that. I had no intention of going that way at all. I just got stuck in that gear because they just wanted it so much. They were having such a good time and I have to tell you honestly that I’ve never felt that from an audience in twenty four years on stage. I could not pull back.” The SMA is a really good guy and he started nodding and saying “I know. I understand. I just really need you to watch it.” I said “Look, I promise you that I will keep this in mind and I will TRY on the rest of these shows to keep it clean. You just have to understand that an audience that good can’t be told no. How could I do that?” I also said “Just so you kjnow, everyone told me to keep it clean. Jeff and all of them. No one negected their duty. I take full responsitibilty for the whole mess.” He said “Yes you do indeed” but then he chuckled. So i’m okay.

Another Sargent Major ranked just under him told me afterwards that I need to just do this all week. Be filthy, apologize profusely, and then do it again.

August 11, 2008


Remember when your mom would make you wash dishes before putting them in the dish washer?  Remember how backwards that sounded, remember how you just didn’t see the logic, but she made you do it anyway?

We were right!  From CONSUMER REPORT’S 50 ways to save water:

 “Don’t prerinse dishes before loading the dishwasher. You’ll save as much as 20 gallons a load, or 6,500 gallons per year. Our tests show prerinsing doesn’t improve cleaning. “

How I have dreamt of this day!

March 31, 2008

no fool for you!

If anyone still reads this they’re probably wondering what I’ve been up to recently. Most of the time is spent at work, a quantum of my time has been spent nursing a recent infatuation with Texas hold ’em, and the rest has been focused on launching a video blog with my sister.

If you find the last bit interesting, check it by clicking here, or aim your web browser at

February 13, 2008

always remember

“Have we learned nothing from the tragic events of 1998, when, under the watch of President Morgan Freeman, this nation was plunged into chaos, and hundreds of millions of people died at the hands of the deadly Wolf-Beiderman space rock? The mere fact that this country is even considering putting another black man, Barack Obama, in the Oval Office proves that we have not.”

The Onion on the disaster of a Barack Obama Presidency.

January 2, 2008

common sense

My friend Anon from Cal Poly is a decently bright guy. He graduated from the Engineering school with a Bob Marley-esque GPA (it was high), interned at one of the hotter bay area tech companies over the summer, and is now working on a PhD at an Ivy League institution. We talk politics on an almost daily basis, an area of discussion which brings up passionate and downright furious rants about the inadequacies, incompetencies, and impotencies of blah, blah, blah, blah….

So it’s understandable that I made sure to remind him that if his state is one of the many states (including California) who moved their primary up to February 5th, the voter registration deadline was coming up.

You’re registered to vote in the California primaries, yes?
Anon: ummmmmm
Anon: I don’t know.
Anon: the thing is…
Me: For someone as angry at politics as you, there’s no excuse for not voting in the primaries.
Me: If Anon is too lazy to vote in the primaries, we as a generation are [explicit deleted]ed.
Me: Proper [explicit deleted]ed.
Anon: haha
Anon: you have a strong argument here.
Anon: how do I register?

…which is a valid question. Assuming you’re in California, the easiest way I’ve found to register is to fill out this form, after which you’ll be mailed a copy of your voter registration information to sign and return, with postage already paid. In California if the envelope is postmarked by the 22nd, you’re eligible to vote in the primaries. A full list of ways to register can be found at

How do I register to vote? 

To register, you’ll need to complete a voter registration form, sometimes called an affidavit. There are many ways to get the form: – pick up a form in person at any number of public offices (library, DMV, post office, county election office, city clerk, etc.)

– call 1-800-345-VOTE to request a form be mailed to you

– call your county election office to request a form be mailed to you

– download a form in English or Spanish from the Secretary of State’s web site

-fill out the online registration form at the Secretary of State’s web site (it will be printed and mailed to you for your signature)

Additionally, many campaigns and political parties send out staff and volunteers to register voters at malls and other public places. You may request a voter registration form from these people too. The law requires them to supply you with a form regardless of which political party you want to register with, so don’t be misled by signs that say “Republicans Register Here” or “Democrats Register Here”. You can also register to vote when you renew your driver’s license with the DMV. The deadline to register to vote in the November election is October 18th. Your form must be signed, dated and postmarked by that deadline.

December 3, 2007

and you thought obama/osama was confusing

Me: I think Ron Paul has a chance to win the Republican nomination.

Lauren: Ron Paul?

Me: Yeah.

Lauren: Isn’t he the cross dresser?

October 2, 2007

things i never expected to learn at apple

While eating dinner at work today, one of the engineers mentioned there was a secret club at Disney Land called “Club 33” that was accessible only to members who paid exorbitant fees. Confident it was an urban myth, I fired up my web browser and went to and then wikipedia, where I found the following:

Club 33 is a private club located in the heart of the New Orleans Square section of Disneyland. Officially maintained as a “secret” feature of the theme park, the entrance of the club is located next to the Blue Bayou Restaurant at “33 Royal Street” with the entrance recognizable by an ornate address plate with the number 33 engraved on it.

Members enjoy access to the club’s exclusive restaurant and full bar. It is the only location within Disneyland to offer alcoholic beverages, though Disneyland has a park wide liquor license and has set up bars throughout the park for private events. Club 33’s wine list includes vintages priced at $200.

Club 33 – Wikipedia

Well, damn…

June 20, 2007

don’t forget probability

In this video by Oxford mathematician Peter Donnelly, he poses the following hypothetical question:

Given an AIDS test which is 99% accurate, what is the probability you have AIDS if you tested positive.

The interesting part is this isn’t as easy as it sounds, and the rarity of the disease determines the answer as much as anything else. Let’s say for the sake of discussion that on average out of 1 million people, 100 have AIDS. We would then see the following:

  1. Of the 100 people who actually have AIDS, 99 people would correctly test positive. One person would have AIDS and the test wouldn’t catch it.
  2. Of the remaining 999,900 people who do not have AIDS, 9,999  would incorrectly test positive.

This means that of the 1 million people who get tested for AIDS, 10,098 of them would test positive, while only 99 actually have AIDS.

You can take a test which is 99% accurate, have it turn out positive, and still only have a 99/10,098 = 0.98% chance that you actually have AIDS.  An extremely accurate test says you have AIDS, and yet it’s extremely unlikely that you do.

This leads me to agree with former Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, who famously stated, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

June 6, 2007

orange power

A red-haired family claims to have been driven from their Newcastle home because of abuse. Why is the harassment of redheads dismissed as just harmless fun?

Here’s a joke. “What’s the difference between a terrorist and a redhead?”

Here’s the punchline. “You can negotiate with a terrorist.”
BBC News

Really? I knew the Irish and the British weren’t exactly best friends forever, but this seems bizarre. Also, there’s apparently an entire mythology surrounding redheads that I was unaware of. The first commenter writes:

Redheads are feared because they are believed in folklore to be the devil’s children and have red hair because they were conceived during their mother’s menstruation.A welsh proverb says “os bydd goch, fe fydd gythreulig” or “if he’s redhaired then he is of the devil”. Yesterday’s superstition has become today’s teasing.
L, Wales

My favorite though, is the BBC sidebar with relevant facts about redheads:

[There is] Disagreement over redheads’ reputed higher pain tolerance.

Oh, yeah, it’s why we have absolutely no objection to being beaten, it tickles.

June 2, 2007

how do you spell fucher?

It would not be incorrect to suggest that as a college student my investment strategies and budgeting could both be accurately qualifed with the adjective “non-existant”. College wasn’t real life, and this “future” people told me to worry about seemed intangible and distant at best.

But since I’m entering the phase of my life in which the next step is retirement, I figure it’s time to start looking at this elusive time period which exists beyond my next meal.

The following two short films I think anyone would find useful as they look at their financial future. Both films indirectly address lifestyle inflation, the concept that spending naturally increases to match your income unless you consciously try to avoid it.

Golly, those must be some expensive Sundays.

I guess I can spare $60/month

May 26, 2007

beware the daystar

“It’s Friday evening, and the US is preparing for a long three-day weekend, often considered the official start of summer here.

So what’s a pasty white nerd to do? You can’t go out on the beach, because the goodlooking people will laugh at you, and kick sand in your face.

I’m not bitter.

But now you _can_ do something: you can download the latest -rc kernel, and smile smugly to yourself, knowing that you are running the latest and greatest on your machine. And suddenly it doesn’t even matter that summer is coming, because you can just sit in the basement, and close the blinds, and bask in the warm light from your LCD, rather than the harsh glare of the daystar…”

– Linus Torvalds, from here.

May 15, 2007

movin’ on down to the west side

This weekend Lauren and I drove up to San Jose for Mother’s day as well as to search for a place to live after graduation. After looking at a ridiculous number of apartments over an increasingly stressful three days, we finally managed to secure the only one we really wanted.

It’s not the largest place we visited, and it certainly wasn’t the newest; The current owner’s grandparents bought the house from the original owner in 1921. I could talk about it, but instead, how about I just post some pics plz…

The New/Old House.
View from the street

The fig tree in which Teddy Roosevelt lost his virginity

Living Room
Ultra-futuristic furniture from 1923

Unfortunately, the current tenants hadn’t left yet and so we didn’t photograph as thoroughly as we would have otherwise. The rest of what we have can be seen here.

May 11, 2007

my name is who the hell are you!?

If you are unable to remember someone’s first name, simply ask them: “What’s your name?” When they reply with their first name, laugh and say “Oh no, I knew that, of course. I meant your last name”. This is a much more acceptable thing to forget–and you still get their full name.
— Bettina, from Tricks of the Trade: Socialite

This is brilliant, but what about when I forget this question?
Me: Who the hell are you again?
Them: What?
Me: Oh no, I knew that, of course. I meant your last name.
Them:  Go away!
Me: All right, I’ll talk to you later.
Me: *Writes down Wot Goway*

May 9, 2007

quote of the moment

“Grad school is the snooze bar on the alarm clock of life.”
– Slashdot drone.

May 6, 2007

be careful california, soon no drinking and no talking

Once in a while I’ll haphazardly bungle onto Canadian news and get zapped by a bit of culture shock:

That smoky haze above the park just north of the Legislature was from the thousands of people who sparked up joints as part of the Toronto Freedom Festival and Global Marijuana March, “a celebration of all things marijuana,” as one organizer described it.

The park was jammed with tokers who gathered to make a collective case for the legalization of pot, under the watch of Toronto police, who ringed the periphery and herded some marchers through downtown streets, but otherwise let the crowd blast off and didn’t arrest anyone.

A police news release prior to the event said they expected a crowd of 10,000 to 12,000, which may have underestimated the actual attendance. Officers at the scene didn’t want to guess at the crowd size.
The star

In California people wouldn’t be allowed to march while smoking cigarettes.

April 29, 2007

furry little cannibals

me: I just received David Sedaris/Sarah Vowell tickets.
me: I waited too long, and as a result got better seats at a cheaper price.
me: procrastination pays off…. eventually.

ug: the second mouse gets the cheese.

me: and all the fresh mouse meat his little stomach can carry.

April 25, 2007

i suppose it’s better than circus circus

Over at you can view and vote on what you believe to be the 5 most representative examples of architecture in the United States.  There are the standard buildings, some I’ve never heard of but which are quite impressive, and then there are a few choices that are downright confusing.

Bellagio Vs. St John
Who decided a Las Vegas Casino would be rated #22?

April 24, 2007

unique perspective

“If you want to play the arrogant asshole and call people pedophiles I respect that. I really do. I’ve been overcompensating for my low self esteem by calling people names for twenty years. I know how it works and the only rule is if you can’t take it, don’t fucking dish it out.”
Mike Krahulik (AKA Gabe), from here.

April 19, 2007

if coding is boring you’re doing it wrong

Though I’ll be the first to extol the virtues of open source software, it’s easy to see how the suits get scared off when I find comments like this in a prominent location in the kernel:

723         /*
724          * Tell the world that we're going to be the grim
725          * reaper of innocent orphaned children.
726          *
727          * We don't want people to have to make incorrect
728          * assumptions about where in the task array this
729          * can be found.
730          */
731         init_pid_ns.child_reaper = current

April 17, 2007

well then

Lauren and I have been planning on traveling to the eastern hemisphere after my graduation for a while now, but it wasn’t until recently that I fully comprehended that a round trip ticket to any of these locations would cost more than I recently spent on a motorcycle.

Now left to my own means I would have at this point probably have given up on international travel as simply not worth it, I’d rather have a motorcycle collection than a photo album.

When I pointed out that air fare to these foreign countries violated several stipulations of the Geneva Convention, the much more worldly Lauren looked me sternly in the eyes and said “get over it.”

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