Last month, David and I visited A's Snow White Drive-In in Lebanon, Tennessee on the way back from a camping trip. The review of the restaurant's vittles was less than enthusiastic. Aside from the myriad ice cream flavors and the disheveled-looking help behind the counter though, one thing caught my eye.

Outside the entrances, both front and back, were Ziploc bags filled with water and pennies, hanging from the rafters. We wondered if they were makeshift drip-catchers, crazy redneck humidifiers, or some sort of sadistic game designed to taunt poor children with both money and wasted drinking water.

We didn't bother to ask anyone inside. I think somehow we knew that the answer would be something ridiculous, embarrassing, or awkward for either our hosts, or ourselves, or more than likely, all parties involved.
So, I took a picture of the apparatus and posted it on Flickr with the title "What is the Point of This?" and I finally got a response, from someone I know, no less.

Apparently, the water-filled plastic baggie is supposed to repel house flies.
To which David queried, " Do pennies IN water IN a ziploc bag create anti-fly magic?"

And you know, I have looked all over the internet, and the answer is: Yes. Putting pennies in bags of water makes anti-fly magic. At least that's what people believe.

Some say it's the reflection that does it. Others postulate that it's some sort of chemical reaction to which flies have an aversion. But no one's really sure.
Hell, no one's even really sure whether or not it works. As with most research done on the internet, the only thing I seem to have confirmed is that people are mostly stupid.

Regardless of whether or not Ziploc baggies can be used as homemade fly repellents, one thing about them remains certain: they will still turn your tasty sandwich into a soggy, humid pile of mess.
Oh, and the placement of the pennies in the bag of water seems to have a legitimate explanation anyway, as I found in this comment on a "Thrifty Home Remedies" blog:

"... adding a penny in the bag acts as a bacteriacide to preserve the water longer. When Columbus came across the ocean he added a couple of silver coins to each barrel of drinking water to kill the bacteria, same principle..."

And here I was, thinking ole Chris was plastered on Beer & Wine the whole time.

IRL: Fail

This abstract for an upcoming dissertation defense came through the email today. I predict / hope that it fails. If it's really that easy to get a doctorate, then I should be the Surgeon General of English.

Everyone’s a Kool-Aid Man Today:
Pedagogical Implications of Teaching First-Year Composition in Second Life

Second Life (SL), a massively multi-user virtual environment (MMUVE), is being called the metaverse, a parallel universe, and a world not unlike our own. This makes SL the perfect environment for first-year composition students; pursuing a second life offers students “analogies and metaphors for real-world issues [and] can provide a way for students to discuss issues in a safe environment, where there are no real-world consequences” (Williams, Hendricks, and Winkler 11). This concept also supports Pratt’s theory of a contact zone where students can grapple with conflicting ideas; however, these contact zones are rarely “safe” environments because students’ preconceived ideas are challenged and emotions can explode in such circumstances. In SL students experience issues that we often ask them to write about, such as identity or otherness, but of which they have little knowledge.

This ethnographic research investigates the world of SL and its uses in first-year composition. It seeks to answer the questions:
• Will using SL change student writing?
• Will my students come to understand SL as a culture different from their own?
• Will they embrace this new medium and form an online identity?
• How will they react to such learning?

I investigated whether or not student experiences in SL would in any way change their writing. What I found was that SL can be an exciting and volatile experience for educators who choose to use it. Students became engaged with their writing and began making connections between their own lives and the topics we pursued. The theme for the class was otherness, which included issues of identity in both RL and SL. Students made connections as they experienced things in SL that were not possible in RL, such as becoming an oversized Kool-Aid man and then having to socialize with complete strangers as this other (Freire, Giroux, and hooks).

As students began to understand the connections between SL and RL, many commented that SL gave them thought-provoking topics about which to write. The students’ responses to SL, both negative and positive, were evident in their writings, including low-risk/pre-writing assignments such as blogs, journals, and quick writes (Bean, Fulwiler, and Murray) and more traditional essays. SL gives teachers a missing tool for helping student writing: experience.

The rampant Gliberal in me is having a field day.

I can't and won't get into all the reasons why McCain's choice of a running mate makes me exceedingly angry. I'm in the middle of a 3 o'clock stupor, and I'm just not willing to try that hard. And that post deserves proper attention and effort.

Instead, I give you The Sarah Palin Baby Name Generator courtesy of Polit tsk tsk tsk.
Now you too can sport a moniker as fittingly all American and easy to write on lattes as Track, Trig, or Bristol.

That's right. She named her fucking child Track

Thanks @christyfrink!

You Look Nice Today desktop.

thanks nevenmrgan!

For a few years now, I've been debating about whether or not to get a tattoo. The reasons holding me back were:

  1. I couldn't think of anything really meaningful to get tattooed on me; something that wouldn't make me feel like a turd for having arbitrarily chosen a "pretty" design.
  2. Everyone I know has a tattoo. Everyone. Well, at least 95%. So, in an ironic way, not having a tattoo makes me unique.
  3. I've seen some pretty horrible botched jobs and pitied the person who was stuck with that, forever on their body
  4. Anything that looks good now would probably make me feel trashy and weird when I'm 60.

But like a shipping container full of Vietnamese whores left to rot on the docks of a Baltimore shipyard, those objections have slowly been overcome, one by one.

I've finally thought of something both beautiful and personally meaningful that I would be proud to show off and wouldn't mind having on my body for the remainder of my shoulder-bearing, if not child-bearing, years.
I've gradually lost my disgust for fashion hegemony. Sorority girls always steal my fashion ideas anyway. Which, when you think about it, does not speak too highly of my fashion choices. So I shouldn't be too attached to those and shouldn't worry too much about trying to be the only human born after 1980 who does not have at least one tattoo.
Also, Nashville's tattooing community has really come up in quality in the last few years. I'm no longer frightened that I'll end up with a three year old's finger painting on my back.

And finally, as for the whole "This shit will look stupid when I'm ninety" argument, I realized today that I'm probably not going to make it past 30.

So come share in my neuroses as I tally off the top 10 reasons why I'm pretty sure I might be dying.

  1. I'm no longer capable of sleeping through the night without getting up to pee at least once, sometimes twice. And I cheer for good bowel movements.

  2. I think everyone's pants are too tight and young people these days don't have enough respect for their elders.

  3. When I lean on my left elbow, my thumb goes numb.

  4. I ENJOY cabbage, both pickled and stewed.

  5. I have a weird bump on the inside of my elbow. It's pink and inflated with a little dot in the middle like a tiny elfin nipple. I never worried about it too much, but now it seems to have spawned a partner tiny elfin nipple.

  6. Sometimes I forget how old I am and have to do the math.

  7. Elastic waistbands sound like a good idea.

  8. When I sit still for a long time with my legs crossed, the force of my pulse rocks me back and forth. When I was in Japan, I sometimes mistakenly thought we were having an earthquake when really, it was just my high blood pressure.

  9. Hot tamales give me horrible gas. Not the Mexican food, the cinnamon movie theater candy.

Ergot: I should go on and get a tattoo because I'm dying. But it goes the other way too. There are some people who, in a just and righteous world, should probably die based on the tattoos they've gotten.

I've swapped over to Netvibes. I just couldn't handle the new iGoogle anymore. Google is "rolling out" a new version of their ridiculously popular iGoogle homepage. Those of us who received the gift of this freshly laid turd had no choice in the matter. It was foisted upon is with no warning. I simply woke up one morning to find I was allergic to sex, Celine Dione is presdient, and iGoogle was no longer functional. In short, the world was a much shittier place.

Aside from my dream of one day wallowing naked in the cool whip on top of a giant cake and fruit parfait, it is my greatest hope that Google will abort this new version in it's infancy and none of the rest of you will ever have to coddle it, spank it, or ignore its plaintive cries for attention as you move on to more attractive playthings.

In the world to come, the Gmail module is fucked up (links are unclickable, no reply button) and the layout is hackneyed (old folder-tree ish heirarchy, no tabs). Click on the screen cap above to view the new layout in all its decrepitude.
But perhaps the most galling thing of all is that you can no longer drag widgets to different tabs to organize them. If a module gets added to the wrong tab, it just STAYS THERE. There's no way to change it-- not by dragging it, not under the settings for each module-- nothing, nowhere nada.
The only way to add a module to the right place is to go into that particular section ON YOUR GOOGLE HOMEPAGE, click add content, and then put in the rss feed manually or search for it from there. You can't just click "subscribe to rss" if you are reading a website and decide you want to keep up with it because god knows what section (or whatever they're calling it) the feed will be placed in on your homepage.

And all of this Malfunctionality just so they can put rounded corners on the widgets and automatically fill users' tabs with suggested content? As many the owner of a Ford Taurus can tell you, a rounded corner does not a good design maketh.

It pains me to think that just yesterday I learned from NPR, on the anniversary of Google's incorporation, that Google's motto is "Don't be evil."

On the brighter side, thanks to the suggestions of Lifehacker and @Yearginsim, I'm taking a look at Netvibes, and they seem to have some pretty interesting functionality. The site looks a little bit... clunky. But I haven't yet really taken the time to play around with the aesthetics. I'm sure I can shock it up with my notorious penchant for bright colors and nauseating patterns. In the mean time, their widgets seem to be much more customizable and easy to manipulate.

AND they automatically titled my new homepage "Eat the Flag! EAT it!".
David Cross reference for the win. It seems like me and Netvibes were meant to be.

Finally, today's "What the fuck is this bullshit?" technology-related ranting is not consigned to the new iGoogle homepage alone. Did anyone catch those odd odd ODD Microsoft commercials last night? I saw one during the last quarter of the Vandy game on ESPN, but I imagine they were rolled out for the RNC, not Bobby Johnson and the 'Dores (as much as we'd like to imagine that a Vandy football game could garner enough attention to warrant unveiling a new multi-million dollar Microsoft advertising campaign). I kind of hate to even mention it. Because that's what's known as "Creating a buzz" in the advertising business. Or at least that's what my depression era knowledge of advertising lingo leads me to believe. But it must be discussed or I will get rhetorically constipated.

The commerical had Jerry Seinfield in it, eating churros and trying on savagely unstylish mens' shoes with Bill Gates in a circus-themed shoe store. I kept waiting for the punchline, or the reveal. I really thought that when Bill went to pay for his shoes he was going to whip out a Visa and, surprise! You'd been watching some kind of wacky Visa commercial all along.
But no. No reveal, no punchline, no point ever came. It wasn't even particularly clever in that "Oddvertisement" sort of way that companies think is the bees kness, the cats pajamas, if you will, kid. Whadda ya know, Joe?

It only left me wondering why Microsoft isn't allotting me forty large every day to bury, poop on, burn, give to hippies, or otherwise waste on completely futile endeavors. If they have the money to throw away on this shit, why not give it to me to do with as I please? At least the video of my escapades would be far more entertaining, and would only leave viewers bewildered in that "What is wrong with all of humanity" existential sort of way, not the Assberger-ish confusion of implying that future computers will be edible and made out of delicious cake.
I did not make that up. That was actually in the commercial.