The Fallenposters Blog

Because the posters fell down, duh.

Posts Tagged ‘rants

“Maybe you could ask your legs for a ride.”

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What is with people?

Matt from Blacksburg drove up yesterday morning to attend a conference in DC. He crashed here last night and this morning, we all ventured into the city to do some touristy stuff.

We rode the Orange Line into Foggy Bottom and walked from the Metro station south to the Lincoln Memorial. It was a stunning sight. And the area was in no shortage of tourists. When we strolled over to the Korean War Memorial, we overheard a kid whining to his parents regarding walking from one end of the Mall to the other (make sure you read this with that high-pitched whiney-kid voice in your head):

“Can’t we just ask someone for a ride or something?”

I was floored. The distance from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument can’t be more than 5 or six blocks. Is that really an excruciating distance to have to hoof? Perhaps he had a recent hip-replacement surgery or has fallen arches. But I doubt it.

But I guess for a kid whose legs are much shorter than the average adult, there’s a lot more steps involved for any kind of distance walking. But if that kid was in some amusement park going ape trying to ride each and every roller coaster (at least twice), then I’m sure he wouldn’t be complaining at all. At least until he was dragged out the park by his exhausted parents.

But history and memorials and educational sites are “boring” to kids. I guess they just don’t cater enough to children’s ADD these days. Perhaps if Lincoln got out of his chair every hour to do a comical skit or if they installed an ultimate-super-fun-happy slide at the top of the Washington Monument, then maybe kids would be more interested in places like these (heck, I know I would!).

When I look back at it though, I guess I was probably just like that as a kid. Maybe that’s what irks me.

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Written by Eric Spiegel

August 12, 2006 at 10:18 pm

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Why Are Americans Afraid of Dragons?

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I recently finished reading Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes. This was probably one of the saddest novels I’ve read in a long time. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s the story of Charlie Gordon, a mentally retarded man in his thirties who gets a second chance at life with by participating in an experiment that manages to increase his intelligence to an amazing level. His progression from mental retardation to genius is a sad journey as he learns how much abuse he’s taken his entire life. The book was written in the early 1960s and its really depressing to see how mental retardation was handled back then.

I also find it interesting because Flowers For Algernon is a fairly popular book, but not very many people realize that it’s a Sci-Fi (SF) novel. It won the prestigious Nebula Award in 1966. But most people who would be willing to read this novel probably wouldn’t read other stereotypical SF or Fantasy (you know, the kind with dragons, aliens, and other fantastic elements). I just don’t understand why so many people who read literature are so against SF. There are so many good SF writers out there that fall under the radar because they are stigmatized in mainstream and academic culture.

I just wish people would stop being snobs and open themselves up to something different every now and then.

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Written by Eric Spiegel

August 9, 2006 at 6:20 pm

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Trash Compactor Blues

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I believe I witnessed one of the laziest acts of mankind.

At our apartment complex, instead of having multiple dumpsters situated strategically around the parking lot, we have one mammoth trash compactor at the entrance to our complex. But since there is only one of these in a complex that has approximately 20 (give or take) buildings, most people take their garbage out on their way out (you know, when they go boar hunting, salsa dancing, or whatever it is people around here do).

Personally, I usually just walk the garbage to the compactor from my building. I don’t like the idea of putting a bag of garbage in the trunk to bring out when I leave in the morning. Mainly because I’m afraid I’ll forget about it and then open the trunk a week later to discover that I invented the mobile compost heap.

But on our way back from dinner one evening. I noticed someone taking their garbage out to the compactor in an unusual manner. Instead of opening their trunk and driving the garbage to the compactor, they decided it would be quicker and easier to transport the waste on top of the trunk. Not inside. On top of the trunk.

How hard is it to open your trunk and place a bag of refuse inside it?

Maybe they had to protect their precious subwoofers or didn’t want to ruin the leather interior—of the trunk! Who is going to see the inside of your trunk? No one will ever notice the dirtiness of your trunk (unless you decide to kidnap someone; and if you make it to that point, does it even matter what your trunk is like?).

Obviously the person doing this lived in a building that was fairly close to the compactor. I deduce this because if you lived on the opposite side of the complex (like me), then you aren’t going to place garbage on top of your car without securing it. It could fall off the car during, scatter in the parking lot, and you have the embarrassing job of cleaning up your Tiger Beat magazines and boxes upon boxes of empty Little Debbie snack cakes.

If the person lived close enough to the compactor to manage transporting their garbage in these means, why didn’t they just walk it over in the first place? It would have saved on gas, saved time, and it would have saved them from being the subject of this post.

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Written by Eric Spiegel

August 6, 2006 at 10:04 am

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Product Review: Linens ‘n’ Things Chrome Plunger

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During a small toilet crisis in our new apartment, Cheri and I realized that we didn’t have a plunger. We had one at the old apartment, but we forgot to bring it with us. (I think it actually belonged to one of the maintenance workers at Price, but I can’t recall its exact origins.) Thus we needed to get new plunger—to fix our current crisis (read: a flooding bathroom) and avoid any new problems.

Walking around the enormous Linens ‘n’ Things in Fair Oaks, I only had one thought in my head: “Why can’t they make this store more user friendly?” There are no signs indicating what items are in what sections. There aren’t even aisles—just large rooms with similar items. But I couldn’t figure out if the plungers would be in the section with the toothbrush holders, or the section with the shower curtains. They’re both bathroom items, but neither uniquely belong in the toilet like a plunger.

After my first attempt to find plungers I only found toilet brushes. Begrudgingly leaving the store, I called up Cheri and she explained to me that the plungers would probably be disguised as toilet brushes. She informed me that people who buy plungers at stores like this want them to be decorative and not look like a plunger. I think this is meant to keep guests thinking that the homeowners are perfect wipers and always use the correct amount of paper.

Re-entering the store, I go directly to the toilet brush section and indeed find plungers disguised as toilet brushes in canisters. Unfortunately this causes the plunger price to well exceed its actual value—but we needed one, and we needed one now.

Arriving in its new home, our Linens ‘n’ Things Chrome Plunger immediately went to work. Its plunger head felt a little small compared to the orifice in the toilet bowl; but after a little cajoling, it performed its function to its fullest capabilities. Now Cheri and I no longer have to worry about an overflowing toilet. Plus its fine etched detail makes the toilet area look posh and sophisticated. But is that what we really need from our toilets? I think that may be asking too much, especially what we use them for. Eww.

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Written by Eric Spiegel

August 3, 2006 at 10:26 am

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Happy, or should it be, Merry 4th of July!

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What determines whether or not we say “Happy” or “Merry” in front of the name of a holiday or occasion? We say, Happy New Year’s, Happy Birthday, Happy Father’s and Mother’s Day. But why do we say Merry Christmas. Is that the only time we tend to use “Merry” in conjunction with a holiday or occasion?

I almost never hear anyone say “Merry New Year” or “Happy Christmas” (even though I’ll say it myself just to convince myself that I’m witty). But then there are occasions and holidays that you almost never hear anyone say “Happy” or “Merry” anything. Such as Labor Day, Columbus Day, President’s Day, Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, etc.

Why do these holiday’s get snuffed? Most of us get the day off from work for these anyway. But you don’t hear anyone going around yelling “Happy Labor Day! You can wear white now!”

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Written by Eric Spiegel

July 4, 2006 at 9:58 am

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Physics vs. Forensic Science

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As an undergraduate at Virginia Tech, I earned my degree in Physics. Many scoffed, others were in awe, some were just dumbfounded. But now that I’m going to begin getting a degree in Forensic Science from GWU starting this Fall, I get nothing but ooohs and ahhhs.

Could this be attributed to the CSI effect?

Think about it, before that show, next to no one knew what Forensic Science was (despite the fact that that show, and many others, exaggerate what is actually done in the field). Everyone who watches, or is even familiar with the show, think everything they do is “neat.”

No one thinks what physicists do is “neat.” All most people attribute to physics is the pain that they had to go through in some class they’ve taken. “I hated my physics class,” is what most people tell me when I mention that I have a degree in physics. “Man, I love that show CSI,” is what most people tell me when I tell them that I’m going to get a Master’s degree in Forensic Science.

I don’t go around telling people that “I hate (insert your field here).” That’s because I am kind and courteous. If someone tells me that they have a freakin’ degree in tie-dying, then I try to be respectful and ask them more about it. I don’t say “don’t tell me about that stuff! That crap’s for hippies!”

Don’t get me wrong, I love physics. It is probably one of the most amazing theoretical fields out there. I just learned that after five years of it, that it wasn’t really for me. That’s why I’m changing fields. I still love and admire physics and those that do it for a living.

Maybe we need a cool, fast-paced TV show glorifying physics. That would be awesome. Stephen Hawking could make guest appearances and everything. Coming this Fall: Hard Science, the fascinating world of theoretical and applied physicists; their lives, their loves, and their calculators.

“Must See TV” indeed.

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Written by Eric Spiegel

June 29, 2006 at 7:51 pm

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Wikipedia standards?

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I was just browsing the Wikipedia recently and I was curious as to what level of popularity is needed for a person, place, or thing to be added to the Wikipedia? This curiosity stemmed from a comment I made on my last post about Sasha and Zamani. I couldn’t find them in the Wikipedia, but a former colleague of mine is in the Wikipedia for being a political leader in the Yukon. Is it more of a popularity contest? Or is it based on how motivated someone is to add an article about a particular subject. I guess not many people are interested in African beliefs in the afterlife, but there must be some interest in the political history of Yukon.

Just to test the randomness of the Wikipedia’s entries, I clicked on the Random Article link on their main page five times and found these entries:

Montane monkey-faced bat: a critically endangered bat who calls the Solomon Islands home.

ISS Avenger: an obscure starship from the Star Trek universe.

Legal Practice Course: the vocational stage for becoming a solicitor in England and Wales.

Yuri Denisyuk: a Russian physicist known for contributions to holography.

Pedreira: the names of parishes in Portugal.

Would these entries ever make it into the Encyclopedia Britannica or the Funk and Wagnalls? I doubt it. But I guess that is what makes the Wikipedia so appealing. It gives those with obscure knowledge a chance to show it off in a (somewhat) widely accepted forum.

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Written by Eric Spiegel

June 23, 2006 at 8:57 pm

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