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Your Guide to the Internet, Part 3

December 16, 2008 3 comments

Thanks for stopping by again to finish out this exhaustive Internet guide.  In case this is the first time you’ve been to see me since I began this guide, you can get up to speed with Parts 1 and 2 by clicking: here for Part 1, and here for Part 2.  I warn you now that since this is the final Part, it will be longer than the others.  It’s as if Part 1 and Part 2 are the setup, and this is the punchline.

Now on to Internet shorthand.  Let’s start with some easy ones, and work to more specific, obscure lingo.  You may be familiar, but pay attention.  You might just learn something:

LOL–“Laugh Out Loud” This usually follows something that is worth only grinning about.  However, in this world of fragile egos, people want you to know that you are stupid if you do not laugh along with them.  If you do not laugh, they, in turn, feel like the dumb one.

ROFL–“Rolling On the Floor Laughing” To someone who has written “lol”, you can come back with “rofl” to try and one-up him or her.  It’s on now.  Look for a response like:

LSHIBL–“Laughing So Hard I Barfed a Little” I use this one all the time to immediately quench any one-upmanship that there may have been.  The only way to top “barfing a little” is to “die laughing”, and that is entirely ludicrous, being that he or she is still typing.  Game.  Set.  Match.

JK–“Just Kidding” It forever rescinds whatever you just said without repercussions.  I am always writing, “Never, EVER talk to me again, you selfish wretch!  jk!”  They then realize my joke, and reply, “lol”.  Then I really get mad and jump straight to “lshibl” to shut that selfish wretch right up.  jk!

IDK–“I Don’t Know” As in, “idk how to spell complete words.”

BRB–“Be Right Back” Of all the Internet shorthand, this one makes the most sense.  It is for use when you must be suddenly taken away from your computer.  I’m always saying, “brb, gotta poop”.

TTYL–“Talk To You Later” Instead of typing “bye” (a complete word), ttyl implies a more friendly closure to the conversation.  It lets the reader know that the writer has every intention of continuing this conversation some time in the future, instead of leaving it to the fates with the ominous “bye”.

IMHO–“In My Humble Opinion” This almost always precedes an inflammatory remark that is intended to show the writer’s superiority.  For example, “IMHO, you are all idiots, and should send me all your money before you spend it all on penny whistles and rock candy.”

BFF–“Best Friend Forever” Assuming that you and your friend will live forever, and you know for certain that you will remain friends throughout that entire period, this is appropriate.  Sadly, this is often misused between high school friends who will never speak to one another following an incident where one “bff” dances with the other “bff”s “bf” (boyfriend) at “p” (prom).

TGMJHPOANAIY–“Thank God Michael Jackson Hasn’t Put Out Any New Albums In Years” Yep, the last few were some real stinkers.

No Internet Guide is complete without “Emoticons”!  Here’s a thorough, but by no means complete, listing:

:-)–“Smile” It lets the reader know that you were happy while writing your statement.  For example, “I hung out with my friends tonight :-)” means, “I am happy that my friends did not ditch me tonight like they did last week.”  Be careful not to send mixed messages.  Never say something like, “I can’t believe my mother still treats me like a child :-)”, as people might assume you want to be treated like a child.  They might reply, “Are you wearing a diaper right now?”

;-)–“Wink” This can have a meaning similar to “jk”, but can also signal a bit of flirtation or innuendo.  One possible use is, “You are soooo strong ;-)”.  Well, is it as a sultry “strong” or “you are strong, jk”?  I’ve had a bad experience saying just that, and I can’t begin to tell you how many weak, scrawny men thought I was flirting with them!  Stick with “jk” unless your j and k keys are broken.

:-O–“Shocked” When you see something someone has written that is unbelievable or outrageous, break this one out.  It will make the other person wonder if he or she offended you, thereby giving you the upper hand in the conversation.

:-O{{{{{–“I Was So Drrruuunnnkk That I Projectile Vomited”  Facebook has a very complicated algorithm that will routinely place this emoticon into comments containing minors with an alcoholic drink in their grasp.

<:’-(–“It’s My Party and I’ll Cry if I Want To”  Don’t worry, though.  Before long, it’ll be “Judy’s turn to cry”.

%-)–“I Feel Like Sloth from ‘The Goonies‘”  This should be used by anyone who still wears a Superman shirt anywhere.  I rest my case.

Lastly, Internet scams:

Probably all of us have received e-mail scams in one form or another.  A huge clue is broken English and misspellings.  Many of them look like this:

Hello,

My name is John, and I am from Nigeria.  A wealthy leader in my village die and leave many moneys in millions for me.  I cannot pay taxes because i am pour.  Pleas to send me moneys to pay tax on moneys?  I will pay 19 billion naira (author’s note: $25,000 US) to anyone who send me $5000 dollar to free up moneys.  Please to e-mail me back to address, and I will tell you where send moneys.

Sincerely,

John

What person in their right mind would respond to this?  Yet all over the world, the sick, old, and stupid send thousands of dollars to these hoaxes in spite of the warnings and pleas from family members.  Everyone must know that this is obviously a scam!  I have personally seen people sending money via Western Union to Nigeria.  Just to see if they are falling prey to a scam, I ask a polite question: “Do you have family in Nigeria?  That’s very far away.”  They respond, “No, a missionary needs some money to keep an orphanage open, so I am donating to help my brother in Christ.”  Bummer.  There’s no way to talk people out of it, either.  I have tried.  I make sure I only participate in real Internet contests.  In fact, just last week, I was able to enter myself in an amazing contest where I didn’t have to put in ANY money!  All I had to do was send my credit card numbers to the contest, and if one of them is lucky, I will win many dollars in millions of moneys!  It’s foolproof!

I came across this Internet site, www.419eater.com.  This link will take you to my favorite story.  Basically, the guy who hosts the website baits scammers into a scam, makes them do ridiculous things, then strings them along for a matter of months.  For anyone who has seen someone else taken by a scam, here is some retribution.

This ends our trip through the Internet, and all its intricacies.  I honestly hope you laughed a little with me.  Check back often, as apparently I have too much time on my hands.

Your Guide to the Internet, Part 2

December 15, 2008 1 comment

In case you missed Part 1, you can go back and catch up with the rest of the class by clicking here.

There, now doesn’t that feel better?

Now that we’re all familiar with the basics, let’s move on to specific terms:

Blog–Meaning “weblog”, it is a web page that the author uses to keep others updated about their personal life, business, and opinions.  Though there are many fine blogs out in cyberspace (https://kylebaxter.wordpress.com comes to mind), most blogs are sounding boards for people who don’t like President Bush.  On these “blogs”, you can leave “comments”, which relay information back to the author about your appreciation or displeasure about the content of the blog (now would be a great opportunity for you to practice by leaving lots of comments for me to peruse; I’m doing it for your learning benefit, after all).

Vlog–Meaning “video blog”, it serves the same function as a blog, except that the information is relayed primarily through video and sound.  A vlog is also commonly a misspelling of blog, being that the b and v keys are right next to one another.

Avatar–This is a user-created cartoonish representation of him or herself.  Typically, the avatar in real life would weigh approximately 92 pounds less than the user.  I have yet to see an obese avatar.  Even if they exist, I’m sure no one uses them.

Blavatar–An avatar that is used on a blog to represent the author.

Vlavatar–A 17th century Eastern European warlord.

RSS–Short for “Really Simple Subscription”, it is an Internet tool that sends an e-mail notification to the subscriber every time new content has been posted by the author of a website.  If you’ve never done this before, now is a great opportunity to become more Internet savvy.  Go to the right-hand side of the screen right now, find RSS, and click it.  Enter the appropriate information, and you will be able to receive updated information about your favorite blog.

Online Fantasy Football League–In this, you join a group of other team owners, and you draft a make-believe team of real NFL players.  Each week throughout the NFL season, your “team” plays another “team” from your league, and whoever’s team scores more points wins the game.  In order to not get lost in the massive world of fantasy football, you MUST create a team with an original and thoughtful name.  Since no one wants to give their team a name that makes it sound like it will lose every week, those names are very thoughtful and up for grabs.  I encourage you to use these kinds of team names.  Some names that have never been used  are “The Losers, “The Underdogs”, “The Throwbacks, or “The Chiefs”.

MMORPG–Also known as the mouthful of “Massively Multi-Player Online Role Playing Game”, this is where nerds go after they get off work.  It works basically like this: every person in the game has a character that he or she (everyone knows girls don’t like video games; they just like cooking and vacuuming) controls within an online world.  They all run about, battling orcs, collecting treasure, and asking one another “r u a girl? wanna im?”.  Of course, these are all pointless goals, as defeating orcs online will not yield any real prestige, collecting online treasure will produce no real bounty, and talking to a 40-year-old man pretending to be an 18-year-old girl will produce no opportunities at love.  Surely, this is an exercise in futility.

eBay–A website that allows users to buy and sell real goods or services to others around the world.  Many times, the items are purchased using an “online auction” system, which works just like a live auction.  In an online auction, as in a live auction, one bidder will place a base bid for an item, another bidder will bid above the first bidder, the first bidder will send a hateful e-mail to the second bidder, the second bidder will send a virus to the first bidder, thereby eliminating competition.  The item is won in two bids, every time.

Viral Video–A term reserved for videos that make their way quickly across the Internet and into the homes of unsuspecting families.  A great example of this is the “Leave Britney Alone” video that made its way across YouTube (I do not recommend its viewing, as the very sight of it will cause your eyes to boil in your head and leak out your ears).  Another, less popular, viral video is the “Daft Hands” video.  I encourage you to watch this.  It totally makes the song better.  Viral videos are rampant in the sports world, and as many times as I would like to see any assorted high school running back hurdle over a defender, I’m just not impressed any more.

Make sure to check back, because next post, we’ll be discussing Internet shorthand, emoticons, and Internet scams.  It’ll be the brightest spot in your day!  You won’t want to miss it!

Your Guide to the Internet, Part 1

December 12, 2008 4 comments

(Before we begin, let me fill you in on a few changes in the Kyle Baxter Project.  Because I received some feedback that my posts might be a bit too long for single-sitting consumption, I will be keeping them more brief for easier reading.  Therefore, you will be seeing more posts with an added “Part 1”, “Part 2”, etc.  I will do my best to remember to post links so you can more easily find past Parts at the beginning of subsequent Parts.  Enjoy these in their easy reading!)

As the world becomes increasingly technological, I’ve taken it upon myself to help guide you through all the common Internet terminology and jargon.  I want to start with the basics, of course, so we can all be on the same page when we get to the more confusing aspects of the Internet (like fantasy football and why people still use AOL for anything).

I’m going to be working with a lot with definitions, so try to keep pace.

Computer–A very advanced machine that can connect to other networks of computers and waits until you have typed a very long school paper without saving to crash.

Internet–A computer-based tool created by Al Gore for the distribution of information between YouTube and the rest of the world.

World-Wide Web–Another phrase similar to “Internet”, but this term fell out of usage several years back.  The only people to still use this term are Internet purists and my grandparents.

Website–This is where authors of Internet content make information available to people browsing the Web.  An overwhelming majority of websites are devoted exclusively to Facts about Chuck Norris.

Web Page–Though a website can consist of only one page (similar to a pamphlet or postcard), a website can also contain several or many distinct “pages” (like a book or several postcards stapled together).

Web Address–A unique Internet designation given to every website, similar to a street address.  For instance, if your business is located at “1501 Main Street”, you can rest assured that there is only one 1501 Main Street in the entire world.  Even France.

YouTube–A global Internet phenomenon wherein people can post videos of themselves, others, or infringe on copyrights of their favorite television shows at an astounding level.

MySpace–A social website where every member gets their own page, posts inappropriate pictures, and gets fired from their job for criticizing their employer.  This is also a great networking tool for local musicians who will remain in obscurity forever (it was so hard to find a band without 2 or 3 Matts in it).

Facebook–Similar to MySpace, Facebook is a more family-friendly social networking website devoted to keeping inappropriate pictures to a minimum.  Instead, Facebook opts to mostly feature pictures of high school and college-age children with an alcoholic beverage in their underage clutches.  Though it is yet unproven, it is my personal theory that Facebook automatically places comments from its users that say things like “I was so drrruuunnnkk!” or “omg i can’t believe i was so drrruuunnnkk!” to discourage alcoholism.  I just can’t imagine that people would choose to write something so inane.  That’s the heart of my theory.

Search Engine–Google.com and yahoo.com are obvious examples of search engines.  You simply go to the search engine’s website, type in something you’re wanting to find out more about, and click “search”!  It’s that simple!  Popular searches include “Barack Obama“, “Britney Spears weight gain“, and “MacGyver Theme Song“.

Instant Messaging–Also known as “IM”, Instant Messaging connects two Internet users together, allowing them to send messages to each other from across town or across the world.  The conversation usually goes something like this:

Sk8rdood: wat up

Creed4everfan: nm, u?

Sk8rdood: same

Creed4everfam: coo

Sk8rdood: ur sis is hot

Creed4everfan: i hate you

**Creed4everfan is offline**

**Creed4everfan is online**

Creed4everfan: wanna hang out

Sk8rdood: def

Creed4everfan: coo

And it goes on like this for six hours until it’s too late for either of these clods to actually go out, because they have school in the morning.

Virus–A malicious program created to disrupt the normal function of affected computers.  The disruption can be as harmless as causing the computer to shut down once, or as harmful as stealing personal information and transmitting it to a diabolical overlord known as “Creed4everfan”, who will use your credit card number to order pizza.  When you visit a website from any country other than the USA, your computer WILL get a virus.  It’s a known fact.  It’s just like visiting other countries in real life, only there is no shot to protect your computer from diarrhea (where all your credit card numbers leak out).

Next time, we’ll dig right in with more specific Internet terms.  See you there!

Homeschooling, Part 2 (Or, Thoughts are Just Your Brain Talking)

December 9, 2008 5 comments

What is it about snow storms, tornado warnings, and flash flood warnings that make people say to themselves, “I should really go to the grocery store right now, before all the food in the world disappears in the next 18 hours”?  As many of you know, I am a member of upper-lower-middle management at a local grocery store.  Seasons in and seasons out, I see the lengths to which society will go to make sure they have soy sauce and the latest issue of People Magazine.  What goes through a person’s head before they decide to risk their life for pre-packaged foodstuff?  Perhaps:

“Man, it sure is cold and dangerous out there.  Glad I don’t have to be out in that.  Let me just check the fridge to make sure I have enough food to survive the night.  Bread?  Check.  Hot dogs?  Check.  Chex?  Check.  Diet Coke?  Check.  Soy sauce?  Wait.  Something’s wrong here.  Soy sauce???  OH NO!  I have to have it now, now, now.  Where are my keys?  What about the weather?  Forget the weather!  I NEED BROWN SALTY LIQUID!  But I might die on the road.  I’d rather die than live without flavoring for my rice!  But you have plenty of food right here to last until the plows have had time to clean the streets.  I can feel my sodium levels dropping!  I demand satiety!”

Is it temporary insanity?  Is it the rebellion that sits inside of every American that tells them to do exactly the opposite of what they are supposed to do (i.e., “Stay inside your home or risk decapitation on the icy roads”)?  Is it some over-arcing government conspiracy, similar to the cover-up wherein the government (at the highest levels) is suppressing knowledge about alien activity (the aliens visited earth just long enough to release light-years worth of waste and garbage, which we now know as Scientology)?  All signs point to maybe!

Don’t simply laugh and dismiss this!  You, too, are guilty!  You know how tempting it is to defy fate by taking a short trip to Wal-Mart to get a pack of your favorite gum as the tornado sirens are blowing.  Is it that the gum tastes just a little mintier when seasoned with danger?

Sorry I went off on that little tangent.  I had to release a few roaming thoughts before they started a street gang and painted the inside of my ears with profanity-laced graffiti.

What was I going to say?  Oh, yes.  Homeschoolers!  What an odd lot they are.  It’s really a vicious circle.  Crazy homeschool moms raise weird homeschool children as the passive homeschool dads sit by and let the kids turn out more odd than a prime number.  See what homeschooling has done to me???  Math jokes.  I hope you’re happy, Mom.  I suppose I should tackle homeschoolers one group at a time.

Homeschool Moms: They are the most well-intentioned group of nuts I have ever met.  I think people would probably take these women more seriously if they did not wear sweatshirts with iron-on cats all over them or the dreaded “Mom Jeans” (this is SO worth the wait).  I know that without their constant harping, we would not have the options in this country for home education that we have.

Maybe someone else who homeschooled can back me up on this.  When a bunch of homeschooled kids are hanging out at some church-sanctioned function (like a formal brunch or separate proms for guys and girls), any homeschool mom will treat any child as if he or she is her own.  Especially with the scoldings.  I have been lectured by many a random homeschool mom, about everything from bad behavior to personal hygiene.  Anytime one of these ladies gets a chance to henpeck, henpeck they shall!

Were it not for their fear of the outside world, we would not have the freedoms we now enjoy, like home-based Christian education and the ability to count a visit to your grandparents’ house as a “history field trip”.  There’s nothing like your mother making you read your Bible every night for reading credit to make you dislike both reading and the Bible.  (I have since renewed my interest in the Bible, so put your stones down.)

In fact, when you are homeschooled, everything you do is for credit.  A truly devoted homeschool mom will be able to suck all the fun out of and inject learning into anything.  Even if she doesn’t change anything you do, just knowing you’re doing anything for school credit kills the joy of it.

–Going to the park: Science, because you will see animals, plants, minerals, etc.

–Grocery shopping: Math, because my mom will make me carry around a calculator and add up what she’s buying.

–Cleaning the litter box: Home Economics, because cleaning up after another living creature is an important life skill.

–Brushing your teeth: P.E. and/or Reading, because of the calories burned during the “brushing” motion (make sure to check your pulse before and after), and because while putting toothpaste on my toothbrush, I may or may not have read “Aquafresh” on the bottle.

Probably the craziest thing a homeschool mom ever dreamed up was a homeschool “prom”.  Of course, no one was allowed to bring a date.  Everyone just showed up separately and hung out in an effort to discourage “pairing off”.  For this one night every year, homeschool moms actually let their daughters wear makeup.  There may have been some soft Michael W. Smith music playing in the background, but of course, everyone was forbidden to dance.  From what I gather, everyone stands around like a goon with a glass of punch in their hand, swaying side to side uncomfortably.  Just imagine it; it’s like a middle school social for teenagers.

Homeschool Dads: Every last one of these men should receive a Purple Heart.  I’ve never seen such a group of passive, henpecked men.  They dutifully serve the daily purpose of providing for the family while staying the heck out of the way of homeschool moms.  They might as well wear a shirt that says “yes, dear” around the house (and to all the graduation meetings, for sure).

In the rare occasion that the homeschool dad has an integral part in his sons’ lives, it is usually a negative net impact.  He will typically pass along his love of Star Trek and dragon figurines.  The result is a pock-marked young man with a greasy ponytail and over-sized wire-rimmed glasses.  Go ahead.  Try to tell me I’m wrong.  If you weren’t one, you knew one.

Homeschool Sons: These poor young men have absolutely no positive role models in their lives.  There are a few who take up homeschool sports to try and make a name for themselves.  Unfortunately for them, being the best at homeschool basketball is about as prestigious as being better than your friends at Guitar Hero.  Sure, you may be the greatest, but what did you really accomplish?

The rest of them aspire to even less glamorous things, like chess, juggling, or being obese.  It took me this long to fit in the word “obese”.  I can’t believe it took me this long to find the perfect spot for it.  Sorry, but I have to bask in my humor for one second.  Ahhhhhh, there we go.

I can’t tell you exactly what else they were into, because I refused at an early age to ever associate myself with homeschoolers.  Most of that is because they smell funny, though.

As a homeschooled son, I am actually thankful for my lack of training in the social arts.  It gave me many, many, MANY years to develop a healthy personality.  Apparently, it has also fueled my craving for validation through the opinions of others as I desperately solicit people to read every last word I have typed into my lonely, sheltered computer.  But enough about me; let’s move on to homeschool daughters.

Homeschool Daughters: There is a reason why makeup exists.  Sadly, every homeschool daughter realizes this, yet gives up when confronted by her overbearing mother.  Until she reaches college age, almost every homeschool daughter will look like an Amish schoolgirl, except with a bolder floral pattern on her bonnet.

I don’t know if this has been a trend all along, but at my “graduation”, about half of the graduating gals were planning on going to school to be massage therapists.  I only WISH that was a joke.  Since I never hung out with them either, I wonder if any of them reached their lofty goal of massage therapy.  I would imagine that even if the massage school had accepted a homeschool “diploma” (already discredited as folklore), the experience was less like this, and more often like this.  Because of this poor career decision, I imagine these women will give up, settle for marrying a weak pushover man (a “homeschool dad”), have several babies, and decide to homeschool them.  This completes the vicious cycle.  Rinse and repeat.

THE END

This concludes our journey through homeschooling.  Please exit to the inside of your row, and throw your trash in the designated receptacles on your way out.

Homeschooling, Part 1 (Or, The Best Way to Get a Mother and Child to Hate Each Other)

December 8, 2008 7 comments

I want to start off by revealing my greatest fear to you, my humble audience.  I don’t want to be seen as some pontificating demagogue.  It takes all my courage to say this, and I’m checking all my pride at the door:

Every time I blow my nose, I am afraid a booger will land on my collar.

Am I the only person who goes through this every year during the 4 grueling months of cold season?  I’ve BARELY caught myself before walking out of a restroom displaying a piece of nose candy on my tie.  The only reason this is prefacing the post you’ve all been waiting for is that I had a panic attack while blowing my nose at work.  “What if it lands on my collar, and I fail to notice?” I thought to myself.  “What if it’s red?”  “What if someone walks up and tries and flick the offending crust off my collar, thinking it’s a meandering bacon bit?”  “What if I blow so hard that I pass out, hit my head on the corner of the sink and die with a booger on my collar?”  I could imagine the paramedics’ banter.

Paramedic 1: Say, Henry, it looks like he suffered from a cranial contusion caused by subcutaneous nasal ejection.

Paramedic 2: Looks like you’re right.  And from the looks of this bacon bit . . . that’s not a bacon bit!  Oh god, I touched it!

P1: Nasty!  Don’t put it on me!  Flick it into the toilet!

P2: It’s crunchy and sticky!  Get it off, get it off, GET IT OFF!

Man in stall: You guys wanna keep it down out there?!  My colon needs absolute silence!

Or something to that effect.  You can imagine how embarrassing that would be, right?

Now, here’s the real reason you showed up today: homeschooling!  Let me start off by saying I have the highest respect for homeschoolers and parents who choose to homeschool.  That being said, I would like to add that all homeschool moms are insane.  Except my mom, of course.  Glad I caught that in time.  I love you, Mom!

I was homeschooled from 2nd-12th grade.  I graduated with a 4.0 (bear in mind, my mom decided my grades), and went on to a successful college experience, graduating from a public institution with a 3.62 GPA (I’m still not sure up to this time if my mother influenced any of my teachers to give me better grades).

Okay, that was boring.  Now listen to this!  The upsides of homeschooling:

–Waking up at 10 to start school work

–Completing said school work while wearing pajamas

–Wearing said pajamas in bed while doing said school work

–Being able to finish said school work in said bed wearing said pajamas and getting done at 1 PM

–Being able to fall asleep at said 1 PM after finishing said school work in said bed wearing said pajamas after waking up at said 10

–Being able to count a dream about going to the zoo as a “field trip”

–Getting to watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for school credit as long as I promise to “think about math” the whole time

Homeschooling is a big decision for a family to make.  It puts a strain on the parent-child relationship and doesn’t give the child much opportunity for strong social bonds.  Parents usually homeschool for one of two reasons:

1. They are religious and do not wish to subject their children to the worldly behaviors found in the public school system, such as dating, drugs, and Hannah Montana.

2. The parents refuse to accept that their child is an idiot, as labeled by the public school system, and wish to try their hand at it.  Bewildered, they will soon realize the true level of little Melville’s intelligence, and encourage him to reach the pinnacle of his life as a Wal-Mart greeter.

I think my parents were in category 1, though saying hi to all those people all day sure does seem tempting.  The hardest part of posting about homeschooling is that I have so much to say, and no idea of how to order it for maximum effect.  So I’m just going to let the thoughts leak out of my ears and nose onto the keyboard until I either finish, or die from exhaustion.

Probably the biggest disadvantage to homeschooling is the lack of a “real” high school diploma.  You may not know this, but every year, there are homeschool graduations all across the country.  It’s true!  Every year, a few dozen “homeschool moms” (more on them later) gather in assorted church gymnasiums for 6 months and argue about whether or not the graduation gowns are modest enough, as the hemline is all the way up to the ankle.  No one wants their daughter to show up at graduation showing bare ankles like some harlot.

Every homeschool graduation I have been to (or in) has lasted at least 3 hours.  That’s just for 70 graduates.  It’s painful at best.  Somewhere in the middle, there is a “talent” portion, where assorted homeschool seniors absolutely mangle a Stephen Curtis Chapman song, or worse yet, clog dance.  I’ve seen it all.  Near the end, the class’s “valedictorian” gives a short (20 minute) speech.  I’m not really sure how they decide who the valedictorian is.  It’s probably whoever’s mom is the biggest ogre during the planning meetings.

At the end of the graduation, each senior walks across the stage to receive his or her “diploma” from the parents.  I think it’s meant to be funny, because everyone knows it’s as much of a diploma as a piece of notebook paper with “DEPLOMUH” written across the top in red crayon.  Why don’t you just print out this post and give it as a diploma to a local homeschool senior?  The state will recognize it every bit as much as a homeschool diploma.  In fact, because my mother realized this, she had me get my GED, just in case a college or employer would not accept my homeschool diploma.  That’s right, folks.  I have a GED.

I was not without my fair share of standardized testing, though.  In high school, I took the ACT at a local public high school.  I scored a 32, thank you very much.  Before that, however, my mother subjected us to something called the CAT (California Aptitude Test) every few years to make sure we were keeping pace with the national averages.  How hard is that, though?  So long as you can spell your own name without any errors and count to at least 7 without pausing, you have most high school graduates beat.  I know, because I went to college with those kind of people.

Well, I’ve opened up the discussion, and have so much more to say.  I don’t have time to say it tonight.  Stay tuned for Part 2, coming sometime in the near future!  I pretty well covered the basics of homeschooling, and next time, I will delve deeper into homeschoolers as a (non) functional part of society.

The Dental Artistry of Artful Dentistry

December 3, 2008 1 comment

(This little gem comes in at 1355 words, about twice the length of a usual post.  Please be patient, and I promise the read will be worth it.  You’d have to be comatose not to laugh at this.  I even kept the hyperlinks to a minimum.)

First off, I want to say that waiting 5 years between dental cleanings is not a good idea.  You don’t have to go try it for yourself now.  I’ve taken all the guesswork out of it by doing such a foolish thing.  I forgot what it was like to run my tongue across the front of my gums and actually feel distinct teeth.  It felt like I was wearing a mouth guard.  I’m sure I could’ve eaten glass, gravel, or even Pizza Hut.

Everyone knows the ritual before going to the dentist.

–Brush

–Rinse

–Mouthwash

–Crest White Strips

–Floss

–Brush

–Floss

–Chew 2 pieces of gum until you get to the parking lot of your dentist

Your teeth pretty much look the best they have since the last time you were at the dentist, when you promised, swore, signed a deposition, and took a blood oath that you would floss (yes, YOU).  And yet, you know it will never be good enough.  It never is.  Why don’t you just eat a bag of popcorn, a pound of jerky, and sleeve of Oreos before going in?  They’ll still tell you to floss more, because they know deep down inside that no one flosses.  No one.  Not even dentists.  The floss company stays in business just by selling those tiny trial size flosses to dentist offices.  It’s like a running joke for them.  Probably a drinking game.  The more they guilt you about flossing, the more gin everyone else has to drink.  That’s why I go to the dentist early, before everyone’s lit up like the 4th of July.

You know it’s been too long since you last went if you can’t answer all of the questions on the paperwork you have to fill out as a first-time patient.  My answers went something like this:

Date of last visit– Approx. 5 years ago

Name of Dentist– Heck if I know

Phone Number– Good Question

Address– Man, I wouldn’t even know how to get there if you put me in my car a block away

The hygienist was very nice, though I knew my chompers would set her schedule back about an hour.  The first thing she did was look in my mouth.  Then she said, “How about we take some x-rays?”  That’s hygienist code for “I hate you and want to put a pieces of film so far back in your mouth that you want to throw up all over the chair (which is covered in plastic; no accident, I’m sure).  And you’re paying me to do it!”  Knowing this would probably be the least amount of pain I would endure in this visit, I obliged.

Of course, the first thing she did was put the lead vest on me.  I can only assume it’s to keep the rays from mangling my reproductive functions (I really couldn’t think of a nicer way to say it; if there is a nicer way, let me know, and I will change it), causing a tumor, or stealing my wallet.  If she had really known my feelings about having kids, she would have forgone the vest.  This, however, is beside the point.

The second step in this lovely process is for the hygienist to shove very sharp and very large pieces of plastic film into my gums and cheek.  She bypassed my teeth entirely to make sure it lodged halfway down my throat.  I don’t know, maybe she thought I might have a few ingrown teeth in my esophagus?  The worst ones were when she clamped “the stick” on it so she could set the film directly in my small intestine.  After about 20 of these, she must have decided I have paid my penance for 5 years of missed x-rays.

Since I had forgotten to floss, I was feeling especially guilty.  Before even cleaning my teeth, she called the dentist in.  He seemed nice enough.  He never looked me in the eye, though.  Do you ever get the feeling that someone is staring at you right between your teeth to see if you’ve flossed in the last 5 years?  I got that feeling right then.  He looked at my x-rays, and even brought them up on a TV to show them how out of allignment my teeth are.  Let me space out the conversation like I always do:

Him: “You haven’t had braces, I take it.”

Right then, I broke out in a guilty cold-sweat and blurted out,

Me: “Yes, I did.  But I wasn’t too faithful with my retainer.  That’s why those spaces are closing up.”

Him, calm: “I’m not talking about the spaces.  I’m talking about *insert shaming dental condition here*.  Who was your orthodontist?”

Me: “I don’t remember.  He worked with Dr. Hiroshimi.”  (Names changed to protect myself)

Him: “Dr. Loggins?”

Me: “That’s it!”

Him: “He was more like a general dentist disguised as an orthodontist.”

At that moment, a small part of my brain exploded.  My orthodontist was in disguise?  What else did he do on the side?  Ed Loggins, Attorney at Law?  Ed Loggins, CPA and Dry Cleaners?  Ed Loggins, Cher impersonator (That’s probably what he’d look like, too)?  Maybe it’s like that episode of Oprah where that guy pretends to be a doctor and gets away with it for like 20 years.  I’m lucky I didn’t end up with a British smile or a tummy tuck.  So now I’m really sitting easy now that I know the dentist I went to for 10 years was under-qualified and probably dangerous, if you can imagine.

So he finally says, “Everything looks good, and you don’t have any cavities” and just walks out.  Just leaves after dropping a bomb like that on me.  Not to worry!  I quickly forgot about that as soon as the hygienist grabbed her pick and started scraping the enamel off my teeth with prejudice.

Oh, the funny things hygienists say when they’re incensed at you.  “Your gums normally wouldn’t bleed this much, but it’s because of the bacteria build-up from 5 years without a cleaning.”  She couldn’t let it go, I see.  Digging, prodding, and otherwise murdering my gumline (it still hurts in some spots), she spent about 20 minutes alone hurting me.

Then came my favorite part: the polish!  That little rubber-tipped thing just cracks my butt up!  Does it tickle anyone else’s lips?  I want to die laughing the whole time, and always have.  With this dentist, however, I have a new favorite part: the freebies!

The freebies included, but were not limited to:

–Mini toothpaste.  The good stuff, too.  Colgate Extra Whitening, instead of “Grandma Loggins’ Dental Spackle”

–Floss.  She even added extra floss when I promised again and again that I would really take up flossing this time.  So I now have 5 little containers of floss in my bathroom.  Anything I can do to keep the floss companies afloat in this recession.  Again Colgate and not “Uncle Ed’s Mint-flavored Twine and Ham Glaze”

–Sugar-free gum.  Trident original, my favorite.  Much better than the “Butterfat Chewing Logs” (Get it, logs?  Loggins?) that I used to get at the “dentist”.

–Toothbrush.  This office must have a Malaysian Colgate sweatshop in the back, because this was Colgate, too.  A real toothbrush, and not the “Dr. Ed’s Human Hair-bristle Scraping Brush”.

–Chapstick.  I have no idea why they gave me chapstick, but it’s really, really good.  Cherry flavored, but without a brand.  It just has the dentist’s office address and phone #.  At least one-and-a-half times better than “Aunt Cher’s Margarine and Lip Goo”

Well worth the trip.  I think I could make more money selling my freebies than I paid to get the whole thing done.  Thanks for hanging in there so long.  I know it was quite a read.  Thanks to any devoted fans I may have out there!  Keep reading, keep commenting, keep showing the love!

I’ve got to get out of here right now to be on time for my appointment at Loggins Brake and Lube.

The Clothes Make the Man (And More Fun Facts)

December 2, 2008 3 comments

In my countless hours of reading fashion magazines, I have found that they all come to a common conclusion: your clothes say a lot about who you are.  I, therefore, went through my clothing to see what was being said about me.  I’d hate to think my clothes were talking about me behind my back.  We’re pretty close, or so I thought.  Maybe I’ll just get some new clothes if the ones I have now won’t be honest with me.  Maybe I’ll just go naked.  I don’t need any back-stabbing, conniving, self-righteous pants in my life.  I survived without them before, and I can do it again.

I digress.  Yesterday, I decided to test this theory to see if my clothes are telling who I am.  The tag in my newest pairs of jeans reads “Slim Straight”.  Well, that’s right on the money!  I am both slim and straight!  My bathroom scale can attest to the slim part, and my wife can attest to . . . you get the idea.  As I was feeling a bit flu-ish yesterday, I was relieved to see a shirt in my wardrobe that says “Hurley” right on the front.  I said to myself, “Self, I am feeling a little Hurley!”  Then I rushed to the bathroom to drive the big white bus.

So far, this has been really accurate.  Since I wear my work shirts five days a week, I wanted to know what I was saying to the world when I was all dressed up.  They all had a few things in common, which must be the message to the world.  My work shirts and I are all:

–White

–Classy

–Clean

–Great-looking with a tie

–Lightly starched

–Cotton-poly blend

So, the theory holds true, as far as I can tell.  Just for giggles, here are a few more fun facts:

–Every 12 seconds, a Beluga whale is ridiculed for its outlandish name.

–Britney Spears exists only because you believe she exists.  Perhaps if we ignore her, she will go away.

Nerf guns account for 170,000 deaths a year in the U.S., and the average household couch has 2.3 pounds of Nerf ammo behind it.

–Though cellular telephones emit a very small amount of radiation, this radiation will not give you telepathy, telekinesis, or the answers while watching Jeopardy.

–Speaking of Jeopardy, Alex Trebek’s attractiveness to women is inversely proportional to his mustache size.

–“Twilight” readers are 53% more likely to be found with bite marks on their necks.

–On a related note, “Twilight” readers are also 53% more likely to be illiterate, and only having the book in hand because of the “pretty picture on the cover“.

–MTV now contains 8% music and 92% people trying to get on TV.

–Cats LOVE sour cream.

–When an ugly man marries an attractive woman, it is achieved through the scientific principle known as “Money”.

–Chinese people, when given the choice, prefer Mexican food.

–“America’s Funniest Home Videos” has gotten significantly less funny in the past few years.

–If you kill Pat Sajak, he comes back to life stronger and younger than before.

–Babies are the most stupid people on Earth.  They don’t know anything, so don’t believe what they tell you.

–Though Darth Vader really is Luke Skywalker’s father, he owes 2.9 million credits in back child support.

–If you eat right and excercise, your corpse will appear much prettier in your casket.

–In peewee football, you are awarded 6 points for a touchdown.  Conversely, you are only awarded 2 points for catching a pass, then stopping to wave at your parents.

–If you have a blog, and run out of things to say, you can include a list of things you made up, and people will still read it.

Next time you hear from me, I will fill you in on my harrowing experience at the dentist’s office!