Monday, November 12, 2012
What Championship you ask? It's November, so that means I've conquered another Peanut Festival.
Longtime Slicers will no doubt remember my bottle lifting Championship last year, and if not, you can read the recap here: One Angry Bird
In preparation for this years Peanut Festival, I dusted off the ole bottle, broke out the fishing pole, and regained Championship form. Here's a pic:
Opening night Christena and I headed out to the Fairgrounds, she in search of corndogs, me looking to torture some carnys. To my dismay, they no longer offer the bottle lifting event. Perhaps, they wisely chose to avoid another nasty scene, and took it out of the Dothan, Alabama rotation. Whatever the reason, I was disgusted and as we left, I muttered something about never coming back to the Peanut Festival.
Luckily, when I got home, I had time to simmer down, reevaluate things, and devise a new plan to conquer the fair, win extra large stuffed animals, and heap large portions of glory upon myself.
"Christena" I said, "I am going to build a Reverse Steering Crazy Bike." Without missing a beat, she responds, "I can't believe you are going to waste that much time building, and then learning to ride, a bicycle that steers backwards." And then I said, "Christena, what event in our 6+ years together leads you to believe that I'm not going to build, and then learn to ride, a Reverse Steering Bike?" I couldn't make out the words she mumbled as she sauntered away, but I imagine it was some combination of encouragement and thankfulness that she was fortunate enough to marry a guy like me.
Long story short, my friend Brad Tucker (who deserves credit for not judging me) tracked down the gears, my brother-in-law Stevie (read about him here) donated a bike, and a welder (who asked to remain un-named, for fear of being associated with such nonsense) pieced it all together. Within 72 hours I had a Reverse Steering Bike. Now to learn to ride it...
Stevie and I agreed to be training partners, which involved sharing tips, discussing strategy, and picking each other up off my driveway. He came over Thursday night and we started working. Progress was slow at first but by Friday night we'd developed a little bit of consistency. He was better than I was, but with a little luck, we just might pull it off. One word of caution, Stevie was still in backwards steering mode when he left my house Thursday night. My sister and their children were terrified when he zigged when he should have zagged, and nearly drove their car into a ditch.
We met up at the Fair on Saturday night, fueled up on funnel cakes, and then set out for the midway. The Crazy Bike, if you aren't familiar, is a more of a spectator sport than any other event they offer. Hundreds of people gather around and watch an endless line of losers pay $10 for the privilege of bouncing off the pavement three times. We decided that I would go 1st, since I was our weakest link, and if I failed, I could at least tell Steve how our bike was different from the regulation bike, and give him some last minute advice before his attempt.
Here's the footage:
We've got a Winner! Another Carnival game defeated! Another extra-large trophy!
Stevie is up next: (Sorry this video is sideways, my blogging skills are rusty)
The Dynamic Duo does it again! When I watch these videos with an unbiased eye, it seems obvious to me that my ride was better than Steve's and my victory celebration was more enthusiastic. I'll have to work with him on that before the Fair next year.
We let his daughters pick the prizes:
So that's pretty much everything you missed while the Razor was retired. Oh yeah, I got married too.
Thursday, March 8, 2012
One other housekeeping item. There was a news item circulating around last week regarding former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville and his association with an apparently fraudulent investment outfit run by David Stroud. I received numerous inquiries from concerned Slicers curious to know if David Stroud was the same person as The Strowd, who I have written about so many times on the Razor.
Thankfully, they are not the same person. In fact, they don't even spell Stroud (Strowd) in the same way. Further, The Strowd's real name is Michael.
I decided to call him "The Strowd" because I didn't feel a generic name like Michael adequately illustrated what a unique individual he is. When I was first getting to know The Strowd, and was trying to come up with a more representative name for him, I mis-remembered that his blog URL was www.thestrowdblog.com. So I decided to call him "The Strowd". As it turns out, his blog URL was actually just www.strowdblog.com without the "the". This was an error on my part, but I think "The Strowd" still does a reasonably adequate job of denoting that he is an enigma and not an average character. (You will notice the link to his blog no longer works. The Internet was not big enough for the both of us, he conceded that I am the superior blogger, and took his offline.)
As an aside, I actually do know David Stroud. I went to college with him, we interned with the same firm, and I think I still have the sweatshirt he gave me for Christmas in 1998. I have no idea if he is guilty of what he is being charged with. I haven't seen him or talked to him in years. If my memory is correct, I ran into him in St. Louis in 2003, and I haven't talked to him since.
I have no idea how anyone could misconstrue the previous paragraph as investment advice, but just to be clear, IT IS NOT. I only mentioned it, because I thought it was funny that when people asked me if David Stroud was The Strowd, I would say no, The Strowd works in the IT field, but coincidentally I used to be pretty good friends with David...
I'm sure most of you have seen the people linking the Kony2012 video that details the crimes of Joseph Kony and shines a spotlight on the atrocities he's commited against the children of sub-saharan Africa. After watching the video, viewers are encouraged to donate money to Invisible Children, so they can continue to support the children of Africa and raise global awareness of their plight. Just hours after the video went viral, detractors began posting links questioning the motives and efficiency of Invisible Children.
If you watched the video and want to help out, but don't want to do it through the Invisible Children organization, I would encourage you to consider http://causelife.org/.
I had the opportunity to spend a weekend with a Ugandan orphan last year and I'm thrilled that awareness has skyrocketed due to the efforts of Invisible Children. With that said, they don't seem to be particularly efficient with the way they allocate donations and they certainly aren't the only organization that you can donate to...
Thursday, March 1, 2012
Was I the only one caught completely off-guard by one of the customs of Leap Day? Of course, I was aware that they added an extra day to the month of February every 4 years to keep the calendar in sync with Earths' position relative to the Sun. What I didn't realize, is that the 29th of February is the one day when ladies are permitted to propose marriage. The Ladies Privilege, as I've since learned, dates back centuries and gives a lady a once-every-four-years opportunity to ambush an unsuspecting bachelor with promises of matrimonial bliss.
So I was just strolling around yesterday, enjoying the extra day in February, when out of nowhere, BAM! My lady hits me with the proposal!
Let me rephrase, because that's not entirely true.
Due to the prolonged courtship period that she and I have endured (this is actually the 2nd time we've celebrated Leap Day together), she's learned that I'm too wily to fall for a direct attack. Rather, she led me down a slippery slope, and before I realized exactly what had happened, we were engaged!
I'm a big believer that forewarned is forearmed, so in that spirit, I would like to educate other bachelors so this doesn't happen to you. Here are some of the "advanced techniques" she employed against me:
1. She didn't attempt to propose on the 1st Leap Year of our relationship.
If your lady-friend is exceedingly patient, she may very well opt to skip her 1st opportunity, correctly deciding that you wouldn't view the 2nd Leap Year as a risky situation, and have your guard down.
2. She didn't come right out and say, "Will you marry me?".
Any bachelor with my years of experience would've seen that coming from a mile away. Nope, she tricked me with the ole, "Well, my lease runs out on 3/31/2012, how long do you think I should renew for?"
3. She was more than prepared for all of my standard responses.
I'd gotten lazy and uncreative, and she took the opportunity to really stick it to me. When I trotted out my standard response ("6 month lease should be about right") that had positioned her into so many 6 month leases previously, she skillfully deflected it and stuck to her guns. Still not sensing the danger or her level of preparation, I jumped straight to standard response #2, "Well, you wouldn't want to move out to my place and have Taylor (her son) change schools." This objection was overcome before the final words were even out of my mouth.
4. Sensing that she had me on the run, and it was time to go for the kill, she calmly said, "It looks like you need to start ring-shopping."
WARNING TO SINGLE-LADIES, THE NEXT TECHNIQUE I'M GOING TO REVEAL IS HIGHLY DANGEROUS, ONLY THE MOST DESPERATE OF FEMALES SHOULD EVEN CONSIDER EMPLOYING IT.
5. She attempted to get evicted from her house, leaving no alternative but to move into mine.
The day before Leap Day, as we were returning from dinner, she drove her Chevy Tahoe into the side of her house, causing significant damage to both. Unfortunately for her, the plan failed, as her auto-insurance company is going to pay for the damages and her property-manager is exceedingly lenient.---
To reward her for her dedication, and to stop this madness before someone gets hurt or killed, I am going to spend the rest of my life with her. Do not feel sorry for me, she is beautiful, pleasant, and a joy to be around. If any sympathy is due, send it in her direction. As H.L. Mencken (one of my literary heroes) said, "Be careful what you wish for, because you might just get it good and hard."
Thursday, February 9, 2012
[ x ] Backpack
[ x ] Sunglasses
[ x ] Luggage
[ x ] White wristband
[ x ] Shirt (it's now too small...)
It's nice to know that the bird is aging gracefully too...
As you can probably surmise from the above item, I went back to Belize. The Strowd and I led a group of adventurous hangers-on into the jungle for New Years, and had quite a good time.
As I'm sure you can imagine from my previous writings, The Strowd made quite an impact on the local populace. Specifically, he and Montezuma got into a battle, but as of this writing, it is unclear who was revenging who. The Strowd, I'm told, left his mark (excrement) all over the jungles, caves, and painfully inadequate plumbing systems of Central America. The locals took to calling him the Gentle Giant, which may be a reasonable description of his personality, if not his gastro-intestinal tract...
I'm told Federal Law prohibits the writing of travel-blog posts without pictures, so here is a nice one of the 2 of us atop a Mayan ruin in Guatemala:
In mid-December, the Thomas Clan gathers in Chattanooga, TN for a little Christmas party. For entertainment this year, my Mom and Dad enlisted my brother's rock band to play. As soon as they started playing, I heard whispers among the older crowd that they were TOO LOUD. Subconsciously, I wondered what they'd expected when they hired a group of 17 year old kids to play electric guitars and drums.
My Grandmother saved the day by requesting, of all things, Michael Jackson. Thankfully, footage exists:
My brother can be seen on the far left playing bass guitar. The dancer is my cousin. I think it's safe to assume he got his rhythm from his father's side of the family.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
A couple years ago I took a mini-vacation to Belize all by myself. I flew down there, rented a little cabana in the Jungle, and chilled out. It was quiet, it was beautiful, and it was very relaxing. One day I went repelling over a cliff, but beyond that I just laid around and read Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. It was very nearly a spiritual experience. The book clocks in at over 1000 pages and is sort of a Libertarian manifesto. I loved it.
When I reminisce about that trip, I recall how good the food was, how much I liked the country, how much fun I had repelling, but more than anything I enjoyed laying in a hammock outside by cabana and reading that book. At night I retreated into by cabana, lit the kerosene lamp and read until I fell asleep. Surrounded by the sounds of the jungle, no cellphone service, no schedule, it was the height of relaxation. In my mind, it was the perfect environment to read about the dangers of Government intervention in the economy and the problems caused by the mentality of "fairness".
Reading that book, in that setting, cemented my belief that each man is responsible for his own success or failure. I should depend only on myself for food, shelter, and happiness, and if I depend upon some outside entity to provide for me, I risk losing everything if they fail. I'm not being cynical with those thoughts (I hope!). I depend upon my friends and family for love and companionship. I depend upon other people for various things, but ultimately I depend only on myself to ensure that I am happy and have a good life.
And if I was dependent on the government to provide for my well-being, I would be working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to become self sufficient. The government will always over promise and under deliver. It will never exceed expectations. Generally, the Government's inpact on my life is either neutral or adversarial, but very rarely positive. I do not fault those dependent on Government, but I also do not envy them.
Getting on to the point of this post, whenever I think of Belize and that trip, I think of Ayn Rand's book and her philosophy. So I was quite amused when I read this quote:
"I would give the greatest sunset in the world for one sight of
New York's skyline. Particularly when one can't see the details.
Just the shapes. The shapes and the thought that made them.
The sky over New York and the will of man made visible. What
other religion do we need? And then people tell me about
pilgrimages to some dank pesthole in a jungle where they go to
do homage to a crumbling temple, to a leering stone monster
with a pot belly, created by some leprous savage. Is it beauty
and genius they want to see? Do they seek a sense of the
sublime? Let them come to New York, stand on the shore of the
Hudson, look and kneel. When I see the city from my window -
no, I don't feel how small I am - but I feel that if a war came to
threaten this, I would throw myself into space, over the city, and
protect these buildings with my body." Ayn Rand
Ironic? Her idea was that the ultimate achievement of mankind is embodied in our ability to progress, to innovate, and to always move civilization forward and that the ultimate illustration of our advancement is shown in the skyline of modern cities. I'm not so sure I disagree with her on that point, but I find it funny that I had to "take a pilgrimage to some dank pesthole in a jungle where they go to do homage to a crumbling temple, to a leering stone monster with a pot belly, created by some leprous savage" to finally have time to read her book.
Thanks you for your time. I appreciate that this post might be interesting only to me, but it has been eating at my soul for months now and I feel a great burden has been lifted as I finally put the matter to bed. Tune in next time when I resume telling you how I embarrassed myself in a unique way or handled a situation quite poorly.
Thursday, December 1, 2011
2011 National Peanut Festival
For those of you not from the Wiregrass Area, the Peanut Festival is much like any other County Fair, except it is harder to tell the attendees from the carnys...
On opening night of this years Festival, I was hanging out on the midway watching kids ride rides and hapless morons burn through money playing various carnival games. My attention was drawn to a game where you must stand up a bottle with a ring attached to the end of a fishing pole. I watched the game for 30 minutes and no customers were able to do it, but the carny never failed.
I figured if he could do it, so could I. Further, that particular game gathers a lot of spectators so I decided that if I could conquer it, people would admire my advanced skills. So I developed a rigorous training schedule designed to bring glory to myself and extra-large stuffed animals to my special lady.
Here is the setup I used at home:
Perhaps you've seen the game. Slanted board, bottle, string, stick, and ring...
While still at the fair, I noticed that the red ring at the end of the string was exactly like the red rings that they get you to throw at upright bottles, attempting to land one around the neck, thus winning a prize. So I bought a bucket of rings, and while various kids were throwing the rings at the bottles, I jammed a couple of them in my pocket. As if to prove there is no such thing as karma in carnival games, after I'd stolen a few of the rings, I joined the kids in throwing them at bottles. Sure enough, I won.
Over the next week, I spent about 2 to 3 hours per day, practicing and watching youtube videos on how to stand the bottle up. The first night I couldn't do it at all, by Wednesday I could do it every now and then, and by Saturday I had my technique dialed in. My only concern was that the combined distraction of flashing lights and crowd noise might add a level of difficulty that I couldn't adequately prepare for at home. To simulate Fair-like conditions as best I could, I turned my surround system up to about 125 decibels and decorated my library with Christmas lights. The inside of my house pretty much already smells like a carnival so no adjustments were required in that department.
As an aside, please do not judge me for putting so much time and effort into such a trivial pursuit. I have designed my life to have inordinate amounts of free time, which I use however I please.
So on the final night of the fair, Christena and I headed out to see if my hours of preparation had paid off. As we walked from the parking lot down to the midway I was really trying to get my mind focused. By the time we arrived at the game stall, I could barely even remember that I was a human. Rather, I was a bottle lifting machine whose sole purpose was to carry garbage bags full of stuffed animals out to my vehicle. Perhaps my mental state helps explain what happened next.
They were running a special where each attempt (every time the bottle falls completely off the board, that counts as 1 attempt) cost the participant $1. I went ahead and gave the carny a $5 bill and selected my pole. I had a little trouble getting the ring around the bottle at first but I was eventually able to get the bottle lifted to about a 30 degree angle. Then it rolled left. An amateur would've panicked, but I'd run into this problem a few thousand times before. I quickly returned the bottle to its resting position and tried it again. Once again, as soon as I lifted the bottle it tried to roll to the side. I casually replaced it and took a deep breath. Finally I got the bottle to 45 degrees and it was still steady. With a final flourish I snatched it to an upright position. BOOM!
1 attempt, 1 extra large stuffed animal, but I'm still in the zone.
While Christena is selecting her stuffed animal, I'm trying to remain calm. Was I jacked up that I defeated that game in 1 try? Big time. But could I let anything distract me from my ultimate goal? Heck no.
Next, an attractive girl approaches me and says, "You made that look easy. Do you have any tips for me?" It was as if she didn't even exist. I said, "Yeah, keep watching me because I'm gonna do it 4 more times!" Incidentally, this is an excellent thing to say to women if you want them to think you are a jerk.
So Christena has her stuffed animal and I prepare for my 2nd attempt. Out of no where the carny says, "You can't play anymore, you're only allowed to win 1 prize."
Umm, I didn't spend 25 hours practicing this game to win 1 stuffed animal. Further, I'd already paid for 4 more attempts. Compound my frustration with the fact that I was so zoned in on the game that I was exhibiting anti-social behaviour and perhaps you'll forgive me for what happened next.
First, I insisted that since they'd accepted my $5, they were obligated to allow me to play out my 5 attempts. The carny, just as emphatically, insisted that their policy was that no one could win more than once. In an attempt to be reasonable, I allowed that I would be willing to not play anymore, and required only the refund of my $4 unused dollars. Being unreasonable, the carny said they didn't give refunds.
With a combination of rage and frustration coursing through my veins, the conversation took a dramatic turn for the worse. I screamed at the dude, "Either let me play or give me back my money!". He reaffirmed that they don't give refunds but I was welcome to let my girlfriend use my next 4 attempts.
There were 2 reasons that this option wasn't going to work. First of all, Christena hadn't practiced the game at all and had a 0.0% chance of winning. Second, and more importantly, she was no where to be found. I'd had visions of how proud she would be carrying huge stuffed animals around that I'd won for her. I thought of how envious the other women at the fair would be. Sadly, Christena, like most women, doesn't want to be associated with a psychotic person who screams at carnival workers. So she had casually eased away from me and was doing a good job of pretending that she didn't know me.
It was at this point that I realized that, while I had lost the respect of the crowd, I was holding most of the cards. I knew he wasn't going to let me play anymore, but having a dissatisfied customer yelling at you is bad for business. So I just kept yelling "I want my money!" over and over. In a final desperate attempt to retain my $4, the carny accused me of running a con! Apparently, playing a game you know how to win is considered a con at the fair. I was a little shocked that somehow I was being portrayed as the villain and the guy who stole my money was pretending to be the victim so I decided to drop any remainder of civility and went for the knock out punch:
SIR, BEING CALLED A CON-ARTIST BY A CARNIVAL WORKER MIGHT VERY WELL BE ROCK BOTTOM FOR ME!
That was all it took. In a fit of rage the carny gave me back my $4. As the crowd dissipated and the dust settled, Christena finally wandered back over to me and took this photo:
So what should have been a fun event was marred by an ugly scene. In hindsight, I wish I'd just had fun with it. In the scheme of things the $4 was insignificant, but as the time I didn't feel like I should let them keep my money if they weren't going to let me play.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Please accept my apology for not providing you with any content over the past 6 weeks. Subscribers to Adam's Razor Platinum® continued to receive lots of premium content. Sadly, scheduling issues, combined with apathy, prohibited me from producing any articles for Adam's Razor Basic. Considering that scheduling remains tight, you might consider upgrading you subscription (it also makes an excellent Christmas gift).
So what did you miss?
Khadaffi is dead (footage here). You may recall that I predicted, not once but twice, that he was very close to taking a deal to live out the remainder of his days in exile. While I don't like being wrong, I'm glad that he didn't, but I bet he wishes he would've. I was proud to see that the gentleman who executed him was wearing a NY Yankees hat. Further, I was relieved that it wasn't ARod tasked with making the fatal shot, as it is well documented how he performs (chokes) in October.
I was also glad to see that he spent his last moments on Earth begging for his life. I take a sadistic joy in thinking about the terror he must've felt. Finally, while his body might be room temperature his soul is almost certainly quite hotter, his clothes are rent, and his teeth are gnashed. And well they should be...
Much has been written about the Occupy protesters that have set up camp at Zuccotti Park in New York City. So much in fact, that I have little to add.
However, I thought it might be useful to compare and contrast the present protests with a similar situation that occurred in NY in 1873. The United States was going through a mini-depression and there were a great many unemployed people who were restless and decided to demonstrate at Tomkins Square Park in NYC. (About 4 miles from Zuccotti, if you were wondering).
These unreasonable scoundrels were not demanding charity, nor were they demanding that the wealth of the rich be redistributed to the poor. Their demands were quite simple. They wanted the Government to fund public works projects to provide them employment opportunities. They didn't want to take something that wasn't theirs. They didn't want something for free. They wanted the Government to hire them to do various public works jobs. Sadly, there was nothing shovel-ready...
Are you interested to know how the situation resolved itself? From Wikipedia: As unemployed workers demonstrated in New York City's Tompkins Square Park, a detachment of mounted police charged into the crowd, beating men, women and children indiscriminately with billy clubs and leaving hundreds of casualties in their wake.
In the aftermath, the NYC Police Commissioner said, "It was the most glorious sight I ever saw..."
We've come along way baby!
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
I found a song that tells the story of America. Not the historical details or any sort of nitty-gritty. Just the Theme of America. If you know nothing else of our Country, nothing at all, know this: If you were to graph the lifestyle of our citizenry over the past 225 years, the chart would begin in the bottom left corner and proceed to the upper right. Not in a straight line and not without setbacks, but the general trend can't be denied. Imagine that our "lifestyle" was a yo-yo and the person playing the yo-yo was climbing a really long set of stairs. Yeah, when the yo-yo is at the bottom of the string it doesn't feel that good, but we're 50 steps higher than we were 25 years ago and thousands of steps higher than we were when we started. Our "poor" have a higher standard of living then the poor of any other country and a higher standard of living than the rich of 100 years ago.
That's all you really need to know. Democracy and Capitalism have set us on an upward trajectory in lifestyle, created trillions of dollars in wealth, &c. It ain't perfect and it isn't always fun, but it's the best there's ever been. Without droning on too long, I'll just let you hear the song. It's catchy, and funny, and poignant, and dang near perfect. Here ya go:
Told ya! If you want to watch it a few more times, go ahead!
Lucky for you guys I found another video that might very well change your life. Warning! While it is not political, it is like a gateway video to all other Dubstep videos. If you watch this video it's just a matter of time before you'll find yourself sitting in front of your computer watching someone vacuum their carpet to the beat of Dubstep. If you don't know what Dubstep is, you're old. Let's just say that it is the most God-forsaken genre of music that has ever been created. The kids of today seem to like it, so it's probably only a matter of time before you're exposed to it. So, you might as well go ahead and watch this video, which is amazing. The best part of this video is from 0:00 - 5:27, but the part you really need to see begins at 1:27:
Sick huh? If your curious about the Dubstep Vacuuming, it is here: link
I had a little more, but I'm out of time. See ya soon.