Monthly Archives: November 2007

The Height of Stupidity (or fairly close to it)

As a general rule, crooks aren’t very bright. If they were, they wouldn’t be crooks. But there are a few smart ones that manage to not get thrown in the slammer. They are called politicians.

But you would think even the most vapid-minded criminal couldn’t possibly be this stupid. Now, I’m a California native, but I really like southerners (except for the ones that wear those huge white dunce caps). You may remember how I defended the honor of Miss Teen South Carolina when the rest of the country was making fun of her.

But then some idiot has to ruin it for southerners everywhere. A not-too-bright Georgia man attempted to open a bank account with a $1 million bill. Yes, you heard me right. The same $1 million bill that the treasury has never, ever printed.

Million Dollar BillThe teller refused to accept the bill. Now a brighter-than-your-average-crook person would, at this point, say, “Ha ha! Just kidding. Yeah, I mean, a million dollar bill. What idiot would actually think this thing is real? Funny joke, huh?”

But this guy was not that bright. After having his fake bill refused, the man had the audacity (er… I mean stupidity) to throw a fit! Once realizing the guy was actually serious, the bank teller called the cops. The cops showed up and hauled him off on charges of forgery. Then he was charged for a second count of forgery for the stolen check he had just used to buy the most valuable thing he could think of – cigarettes.

Unfortunately for New Englanders, this southerner was simply copying the arguably more stupid act of a Pittsburgh man who tried to pay for groceries with a million dollar bill, then flew into a rage when the grocery store didn’t have enough change.

My inside sources tell me that a highly advanced race of space aliens chose today to land and reveal themselves to us, but changed their minds after reading this story. I guess the aliens decided us humans aren’t quite ready for them. Thanks a lot stupid criminals!

My Life Has Been Threatened Yet Again

Why you ask? Because somebody has been offended by my writing? Because I killed the dog that craps on my lawn and the owner wants vengeance? Because I killed somebody and now their son has sworn to avenge his father’s death?

Actually, it’s because I’ve been hit with the blog equivalent of a chain letter, thanks to Wendy of the Life with Buck blog. Now, you know I hate chain letters, but my life is on the line here. Apparently if I don’t do this, I’ll be cast into the pit of Carkoon, nesting place of the all-powerful Sarlacc; where, in his belly, I’ll find a new definition of pain and suffering as I am slowly digested over a thousand years – or I’ll meet some other unpleasurable demise.

In this case, I must write seven factoids about myself, then tag seven other bloggers with the same task. Hmm… this seems eerily reminiscent. Here we go:

  1. I have a strange habit of half-heartedly trying to locate people from my past. For example, I’ve been trying to find one of my drill instructors for years. Not because I want to call or write him (after turning thousands of boys into Marines, there’s no way he’d ever remember me), but just because I’m curious to know how he’s faired in life. He was one of the meanest drill instructors I ever ran across, but was also the one I respected the most. He is hard core, and I can just imagine his chest being covered in medals. On the other hand, I also tried for years to locate an old friend who was starting a business that I had a high level of interest in. I lost his phone number and couldn’t find him for years. After hearing that he moved back to California, I nearly gave up trying to find him. Then I bought a house and, after attending church in my new ward (sort of like an LDS parish), I ran into the guy. Turns out his daughter lives in my ward and he has a house in North Orem. He called me that day and I wasn’t smart enough to save his phone number. Doh!
  2. What the heck is a Bothan?I know more about Star Wars than most people, save for the true Star Wars geeks that dress up like Ewoks and get beat up by less geeky people. Star Wars fans will often listen to me tell the untold history of Star Wars (like who Mon Mothma is and what her tie is to Bail Organa and the formation of the Rebel Alliance) and other tales (such as why Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn got his butt kicked by Darth Maul’s superior fighting skills, yet some snotty Padawan (Obi-Wan Kenobi) was able to defeat him). These people then take what I’ve told them, and retell others as if they are some kind of Star Wars geek know-it-all. Then they usually get beat up for knowing way too much about Star Wars. Sadly, my knowledge is not nearly as impressive today, what with the advent of Wikipedia and the Star Wars Databank.
  3. I am descended of a Filipino Datu. A Datu is a native chief, considered royalty in a sense. However, my ancestral Datu made the mistake of falling in love and marrying one of the peasant women. He was thereafter disowned by his family and joined the normal population.
  4. not at the head of his classDespite being half Filipino, I look white enough to infiltrate the KKK, something I sometimes think of doing just so I can work my way up to Grand Numbskull (or whatever they call him), obtain full allegiance from the majority, then announcing my non-white background. Bwah hahaha!!! They would probably kill me at that point, but it might be worth it just to see the looks on their faces.
  5. I started my first blog (though without any commenting capabilities) in 1999. You can catch a glimpse of it on the Way Back Machine. A couple years later, some self-proclaimed Internet marketing guru sent me a newsletter saying that blogs would be the next big breakout marketing tool. I remember very clearly thinking, “That’s a load of crap! I had one of those blog thingers back in ’99 and it didn’t do squat for me!” I have also said that eBay Stores would fail when it was first introduced, that Google’s stock price would go down on the first day, and that the iMac would die a painful death while dragging Apple to the grave. On the other hand, I wrote a fictional story about the “Mid-East War” about a year before Desert Storm.
  6. I’m a card counter even though I’m not very good with numbers. I visit Vegas about once a year and usually come out way ahead thanks to my card counting skills at the blackjack table. However, when I went earlier this year, I somehow got counting backwards (uh, yeah. I’m really not very good with numbers.) This resulted in my betting large when the count was bad (and therefore losing) and betting small when the count was good (thereby winning, but only small amounts). I don’t think I’ve ever been more confused in my life!
  7. If the Marine Corps knocked on my door tomorrow morning, handed me a rifle that could be used with one arm, and asked me to ship out to the front for the next two years, I would pack my bags right then and there and go. In fact, there’s a good chance I’d do the same for any of the branches of the military. My wife knows this and has accepted it, probably because she knows it would never happen. Along the same lines, if NASA knocked on my door and asked me to be part of a two-year mission to Mars, I would do the same. If I had to choose between the two, my desire to fly into space and set foot on another planet would probably win out over my sense of duty and I would take the mission to Mars.

So there you have it! Oh wait, I just found out there are no death threats attached with this. Dang it all to heck!!! Uh, I guess my life isn’t in danger after all. That somehow takes the adrenalin rush away from it, doesn’t it?

I hereby tag the following. Remember, there are no death threats attached, so there is no reason to be a hater! Some of you were previously tagged, but if you didn’t respond to my previous tagging, you are getting hit again!

Clark (who is long overdue for a blog post)
Mikal (who had trouble accessing my blog the first time around)
Ryan (who threatened to kill me the first time around)

Umm… as for the other four, how about if you feel the desire to be tagged, you go ahead and tag yourself on my behalf. Now, if a piano falls on my head or I get thrown into the pit of Carkoon, it’s your fault!

Nutritionist Finally Agree with Stu: Peanut M&M’s are the Perfect Food

Orbs of LifeI eat a lot of peanut M&M’s. I love them. I’ve loved them for as long as I can remember. It was about 15 years ago I started referring to them as the Orbs of Life.

I began writing short stories that involved the Orbs of Life as a great and powerful device to accomplish great things. I have long believed that peanut M&M’s were the perfect food.

Well, I recently read this article on MSN about seven healthy foods that we should all be partaking of. The two that caught my eye were chocolate and nuts.

M&M’s… the perfect food. Let the world know that I was right. I WAS RIGHT TO LOVE THE ORBS OF LIFE!

How to Win Lunch from Your More Popular Friends

So my blog gets somewhere on the order of about 20 page views per day on average. That probably translates to 5 or so actual visitors. My best day ever was 90 page views.

Then one day, I agreed to host a post on behalf of my friend Mikal. You may recall the Four for Friday from a few weeks ago. I told him, “Great! Maybe I’ll actually break my old record of getting 90 page views!”

Mikal’s reply? “I doubt it.”

Then this fiasco happened:

Stu's WordPress blog stats

Yeah. His blog is just a tad more popular than mine. Thanks to him, my record was blown out of the water! So I told him about the 205 page views the next day. He apologized for sending me more traffic than I’ve ever received before and told me he owed me lunch. That’ll teach him to mess with my blog stats!!! Why, I oughta send him tons of traffic in retaliation, see how he likes it! Sheesh!

As you can see, since that time my page views have gone back to normal, and all is well. Okay, I’ve been out from under my rock for entirely too long now. The light is making me tremble. Back I go.

Sweeping the Mines… Just a Little Bit Faster

Longtime readers will remember my Minesweeper post wherein I posted an image of my Minesweeper records. As you may recall, it was a slow week.

Well, in case you haven’t noticed, there hasn’t exactly been a fury of posts recently. So, yep. It’s a slow week, which means another Minesweeper post.

After months of trying (man, I’m embarrassed to admit I STILL play this game), I beat my old record of clearing the expert board in 137 seconds with a score of 133 seconds.

Well, I held on to that time for what seemed like forever, but I finally beat that record with a time of 131 seconds. Then, a few days later, I beat that with a time of 122, just barely over the two minute mark. A couple days later I did it again, but this time slaughtering my old score with this great time (well, great for me):

Minesweeper records

 Even though these days I now regularly beat my old longtime record time of 133 seconds, I’m not expecting to break the 111 mark… EVER.

Which means, sadly (or happily… do I really want being a Minesweeper  geek to be my legacy?) I’ll never come close to beating the world record holder.

Hypermiling Not Always the Answer – Consider the Alternatives

ABC’s Nightline recently ran a story on hypermiling in which they interviewed one Wayne Mitchell, engineer for the City of Chicago and consummate hypermiler. Thanks to my friend Mikal for the head’s up on the story.

Wayne drives a Toyota Prius hybrid. He drives a hybrid and hypermiles not for the money savings (like I do), but for the saving of oil. Says Wayne, “Oil is a finite resource.” He wants oil to still be around when his kids grow up.

Wayne has an 18 mile commute. It takes him nearly an hour to get to work. Hearing this, it made me quite grateful for my situation.

My recent move cut my commute of six miles and 15 minutes to two miles and five minutes. While I spend way less time on the road, a couple of things have occurred that reduce my overall mileage. First and foremost is the colder weather. Block heaters might fix that, but I’m just not crazy enough (i.e. committed) at this point to go through the bother. Second is the shorter distance. I have less opportunity to practice hypermiling techniques.

Both the Nightline story and my own experience in having my mileage reduced because I’m now closer to work got me thinking about what my goals are in regard to hypermiling. Is it so I can brag about my incredibly high mileage and make myself feel better by looking down on gas guzzlers, or is it to use less gas thereby costing me less money?

BegleymobileThe truth is, it has always been the latter. If it were the prior, I’d get rid of my V6 Sonata and get an Ed-Begleymobile. Or I’d move to Nephi so I can travel the 40 miles to work each day and get double the mileage I’m getting travelling just two miles. On the other hand, if I were truly committed to saving gas money, I’d probably get a bicycle and take that to work instead. Doh!

And honestly, if I had the money I’d be guzzling gas myself driving around in a Corvette for the road and a Hummer for off (the big and uncomfortable, but incredibly capable H1, not those wussy H3’s).

Anyway, back to the original point of my post. If you’re practicing hypermiling techniques to save money like me, start looking at the many other methods that are non-hypermiling related that can save you gas money:

  • Move closer to work, or take a job closer to home
  • Start riding your bicycle
  • Take mass transit, like the bus or train
  • Avoid driving unless absolutely necessary (no more leisure Sunday drives)

Finally, and it really pains me to say this, but a scooter (which you can often nab for sub $2,000 brand new) practicing hypermiling would likely slaughter the mileage ratings of any very expensive hybrid vehicle (a new Prius goes for the price of 15 scooters). Personally, I recommend getting a motorcycle. Your mileage will be half that of a scooter, but at least you won’t be, you know, on a scooter.

As for me, I do things only if they’re convenient. The hypermiling techniques I employ are easily done by anybody. I don’t take it further because, frankly, I’m too busy trying to enjoy my life to make it more inconvenient for me (which is why, unlike Wayne, I wouldn’t wake up an hour early, drive in a manner that frustrates everybody around me, or take the back roads and extend my commute just to maximize my mileage and save gas). Life is short, and I really don’t want it to suck any more than it already does.

For all hypermiling tips that I’ve tried over the past year, take a look at my hypermiling category.

Finally, Worthwhile Scientific Study Proves Sleep Is Good

With all the recent talk of pointless scientific studies on these pages, I’ve actually stumbled across one that seems to have been money well spent. So what grand knowledge have we gained from this most recent study? Very simply: sleep is good!

Those of you who are like me and have always insisted on getting a good 9+ hours of sleep each night now have something to back us up. The study pointed out, among many other things, that not everybody’s circadian rhythm (responsible for telling us when to sleep and when to not sleep) is the same. In fact, some of us have rhythms that are completely screwed up. Most prominent among them are night owls, who often have lengthened rhythms (they found in mice some with a circadian rhythm of up to 27 hours instead of 24) requiring that they stay up later and sleep longer.

Personally, I think the “mutation” that causes a lengthened circadian rhythm is in actuality the result of space aliens integrating with us Earthlings and cross breeding amongst us. The mutation is really just the result of a person inheriting the circadian rhythm of an alien from a world with longer days. What I’m saying, essentially, is that I am part alien. And no, I’m not referring to the fact that my mother is Filipino… I’m talking SPACE alien!
Aliens walking among us
This gives me special powers, like super strong teeth (as a teen, I brushed once a week and never got cavities), a super strong mind (you can punch my brain all day long, and it has no effect), and access to special alien technology that gives me super vision (a special alien lens known as “Accuvue” gives me better than 20/20 – so-called “perfect” – vision).

Unfortunately, my ancestors weren’t from a world with a shortened day, thereby giving me the mutation that allows me to get by on virtually no sleep. Fortunately, I haven’t inherited any really weird stuff, which I believe to be a conflict between human and alien genes, fighting in a never-ending internal struggle for control of the brain.

So what other benefits does my alien sleep rhythm provide me with? Take a look at Psychology Today’s article, Sleep: Strange Bedfellows.

Belicove’s Four For Friday

Due to the Beli-Blog being in the midst of updates that will make it more powerful than Superman (literally, being that Superman is not real… sorry to break it to you), Mikal has asked that I, Stu, host today’s Four For Friday, an honor for which I am more than happy to oblige to.

And now, the venerable FFF!

Q1 – Big Oil, Big Spill: The U.S. Supreme Court agreed earlier this week to decide whether Exxon Mobil Corp. should pay $2.5 billion in punitive damages to fishermen and other victims in connection with the huge Exxon Valdez oil spill that ruined more than 1,200 miles of Alaskan coastline in 1989. Exxon’s position on the matter is that a ship’s owner should not be “vicariously” liable for the reckless behavior of a captain, and that punitive damages greater than $25 million are not justified because the spill resulted from an accident. Attorneys for the fishermen and other victims contend that Exxon bore responsibility for the accident because the company knowingly put a drunk in charge of an oil tanker. What do you think? Based on what you just read or know from the longstanding case, should Exxon Mobil be made to pay the $2.5 billion in punitive damages?

Q2 – Racism: Do you think you could be friends with a racist?

Q3 – Criminal Background Checks: Most cities and towns have their fair share of controversy, but Eagle Mountain, Utah, seems to be a magnet for suspicious characters. Back in the late 1990′s, voters learned that a candidate for Mayor had previously been convicted of tax fraud and served time in a minimum-security prison.
In 2003, the town’s Mayor told his police and his wife that he had been forced to drive to California at gunpoint. After learning he lied about the incident, police charged the then Mayor with filing a false report to police. Last year, Eagle Mountain’s Mayor was charged with seven felony counts of misuse of public funds. Now, someone whose Real Estate license was recently pulled by the State of Utah over allegations of Real Estate Fraud is running for Mayor, and a sitting councilwoman was recently charged with a second-degree felony for apparently accepting a $10,000 gift without reporting it to the city. Do you think candidates for public office should be compelled to submit to criminal background checks, with the results of such checks made publicly available; or is a candidate’s previous criminal prosecutions and adjudications no one else’s business?

Q4 – Food: Can you eat something with a texture that is visually unappealing. What about food that smells bad but taste good?