Monday, June 29, 2009

MPS #3: Elliott Erwitt

Last week was the processed stuff so I guess today is the organic stuff. And not the Industrialized Organic either (why yes, I am reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, why do you ask?). This week is going to Elliott Erwitt.
Born in Paris in 1928 and raised in California and New York, Elliot started his photography career in photojournalism and advertising in 1950. He got good. Really good. His portrait portfolio includes shots of people like Marilyn Monroe, JFK, and Che Guevara.
Apart from spectacular darkroom B&W photography (that is to say, pre-Photoshop) his work oftentimes caries with it a strong since of irony. This shines out especially in one pic that features a studio full of nude painters painting a clothed woman (which won't make it on here, as it has several boobs in it).

And turns out he loves dogs too.

Not to be left in the dust, now a days he does a lot of color photography as well. But the "old" stuff is definitely what stands out. If you have the strong desire to make some of these photos your own, signed prints of all these shots are available starting at $4,000 (um...yeah...I'll take two?). Additionally, he has several books for sale, including Snaps, Personal Exposures, and several others.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Hmm, who knew?

I finished Freakonomics last week and keep forgetting to write about it. I guess the time has finally come.

Firstly, I think the title is a bit misleading. It's more like "The hidden side of the few weird things that the authors thought were interesting...leading to a very random book". That and the use of (and the romanticism put into) the word "Rogue" made me think "Maverick". Also, it should be noted that Steven Levitt is the economist, and Stephen Dubner is the New York Times writer that helped him write a whole book.

But gripes aside, it is very interesting. Using statistical analysis and (in some cases rather liberal use of) econometrics, Levitt asks and answers some pretty weird questions. What caused the drop in crime in the 90's when it looked like it would only get worse? Legalized Abortion. Instead of having babies, the woman in situtations that would put their children at high-risk for crime had abortions instead. Why are most drug dealers poor? Because the standard crack scene is really a giant multi-level marketing scheme, so all the normal, grunt dealers have a common supplier and have to cough up a ton of overhead (and therefore still live with their mothers).

The book ends with two studies on parenting. The first being about parental techniques that help children "to succeed" and the second on the effects of what parents name their children. In the first study they concluded that "techniques" (like reading to your children daily) didn't really matter. What mattered most was what kind of people the parents were. If they were honest, educated, and successful themselves, their children would most likely follow suit. Things like reading to your children, going to museums, or whether or not you spank your children didn't seem to matter.

I took the slightest bit of issue with that conclusion. The study was on techniques that seemed to help children get good standardized test scores. That means very little to me. While the integrity and traits of a parent do matter a great deal, I think the time/activities children spend/do with their parents matters as well. Wholesome activities as a family could help a child be successful economically and socially after their formal education ends. It could be on a trip to the museum that a child discovers something that they eventually turn into a career. Or time spent reading or hiking or doing some other healthy habit as a family could continue throughout a child's life that never would otherwise. So this is a section of a the book where I think they were a little misleading. Good elementary school test scores do not equal success in life.

The section after that was pretty neat though. They broke down the top California baby names into several Top 10 lists by race, gender, income and decade to look for trends. There was some cool stuff in there too. Higher income families were more likely to have the traditional spelling for names while low-income families were more likely to spell a name differently (or just wrong). Furthermore, what were high-income names one year would become the new low-income names 20 years later. Crazy stuff.

What a bunch of Rogues [Mavericks].

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The time I was really tired at work...

Warning, this is a gross post.

If there's a word above all others that grosses me out more than any other, this word is "placenta". Sick. Just saying it is nasty. And then when you see one in all its nasty veiny nastiness there's just no redeeming qualities. It's like that Dave Barry essay about his son's birth:

Nonetheless, the baby came out all right, or at least all right
for newborn babies, which is actually pretty awful unless
you're a big fan of slime. I thought I had held up well for
the whole thing when the doctor, who up to then had behaved
like a perfectly rational person, said, "Would you like to see
the placenta?". Now, let's face it. That's like asking, "Would
you like me to pour hot tar into your nostrils?". Nobody would
like to see a placenta. If anything, it would be a form of

Jury: We find the defendant guilty of stealing from
the old and crippled.
Judge: I sentence the defendant to look at three pla-

But without waiting for an answer, the doctor held up the
placenta, not unlike the way you might hold up a bowling
Yes. So the Miracle of Life and cute babies and all that aside. It's a pretty gross affair.

But, if there's anything I like as much as I dislike that word, it's teasing my co-worker. From here out we'll call her Lars (I know that's a guy's name, but just go with me on this one).

Today, during a discussion of black widow spiders in bags of grapes at Costco, someone mentioned finding weevils in a banana. Lars then insists that "weevil" is the grossest word in the language. I disagree, and continued to reason why The P-Word is more gross. Especially when you consider that some people eat them.

Which got me to thinking. How do people go about eating them? I'm sure they can't taste like much on their own. Just like skin [read: lips] or something, so they would have to do something to spice things up. We brainstormed for a bit (Larz was eating some diced pears at the time and took her leave) and I then went into the Wilds of the Internets to see what I could find. And find I did.

Recipes that can use The P-Word as the main source of protein:
  1. Stew
  2. Sausage Pizza
  3. Cocktails (with V-8 juice, double sick)
  4. Lasagna
  5. Roast
  6. Meaty Spaghetti Sauce
None of these sound appealing to me in the slightest. In fact, I don't think I want to eat any of those things, P-Word or not, for quite some time. I'm just glad it's a short list. I figure you can only try out one recipe per pregnancy, leaving precious little time for culinary experimentation.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Also, Wow

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

MPS #2: Marcus Sauer

Yes, the second edition of the Monday Photography Special goes to Marcus Sauer (and no, that isn't him).

Apparently based in Germany, he's traveled all over the world taking pictures of things and places. He's had a lot of stuff in advertisements (particularly cars), all of which is pretty dazzling (which means heavily processed). But a lot of post work isn't necessarily a bad thing. Most of his cool stuff is on his website and can't be copied w/out permission, so everything here is linked through an online stock photography company ( and most of those are just landscapes. But they're still very neat.

Those are some crazy-cool skies.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Working on a new look

I'm trying to decide on a look for this bliggity-blag. The Google templates are all kind of weak, so I'll be exploring some others for a few days I think. Please excuse any eyesores that might pop up.

In which REI knows me way, way too well

Earlier this week, the peeps at REI had a meeting:

President and CEO Sally Jewell: Okay, so Coolboy's been into the cycling thing for a few weeks now. He's been out several times, had a minor accident, hit 30mph...

Vice President of Merchandising Angela Owens: He's such a stud!

Sally: ...and is going to for his first 20-mile ride tomorrow, weather permitting. He'll be in the market for some more gear about now. Maybe another pair of shorts and a couple more jerseys. What do we got?

Vice President of E-Commerce and Web Strategy Brad Brown: He always goes for sales though, that doesn't do us any good. He usually stops around $40. We want a good $50 out of him this time.

Sally: Hmm... what could be throw at him?

Then the skinny guy intern in the back is all like: What about this little number?

Hoe. Lee. Crap.

I'm still trying to come up with a good excuse to justify the money, as it was a bit pricey. No shipping charge? First day with no bandages since the accident? It'll help the guys in my apartment accept my new habit of spandex shorts? My Quarter Birthday? I'm open to suggestions.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

You cannot trust a southerner

I realize that might seem a little out of date, but apparently they just want to steal your money.

It all began with a friend telling me that on, you can buy that awesome medical tape that only sticks to itself really cheap (and upon my own investigation, lots of colors). I was pretty excited about this. I've been using ton of the stuff since my accident and it's very expensive. I recently got a great deal on some at my university Student Health Center, so I didn't need any more. But it was a great thing to know (Plus shipping was like $5).

I then made an alarming discovery:

Not even kidding. They carry wonders such as these:
Doesn't that little tie just make you want to vomit? It just seems to strange to have formal wear for your domesticated rodent. I don't get it.

Anyway, back to the point. I decided to at least give a shot. As with all my online purchases, I searched deep into the Wilds of the Internets (come back to this link when you get a chance) for coupon codes that thoughtful people have posted online for the use of all. If I could score free shipping, I'd go for another roll or two of tape in crazy colors. And I did! However... you had to sign up and stuff at before you could apply the coupon to your basket (REI does this too, it's annoying). I've been around the coupons-on-the-internet block before, so I knew that it probably wouldn't work anyway but I still wanted to give it a shot.

So I did the only right thing to do this situation: put in all jibberish for the information. It looked like this:
5616 jiosdfioo
provo, UT 84606

That's right: my address is 5616 jiosdfioo. Maybe I should have put some letters in the phone number for good measure, but whatever. Then it wanted a CC number. A little exasperated, I got my card out and typed the number in, and clicked OK, expecting page to review my order (and finally see if that coupon worked). What I got was this:

Thank You for ordering from! This message is an automated response to confirm we have received your order in our system.

Your order will be sent to the warehouse soon so you still have time to edit your order. You will receive an email confirmation letting you know that your order has been sent to processing and is completed.

Until then you can edit your order by clicking here: [there was a link provided here]

You can expect to receive your order of in-stock items by Economy Shipping in 7-10 business days*.
* - (not including Saturday or Sunday)

Um. Not good. And the free shipping did NOT work. Double suck. That's okay though, right? I can just cancel it. I clicked the link and changed my shopping cart to empty. I then saw the "cancel order" button, which I clicked as well, receiving a confirmation that it was canceled. And just for good measure, I changed all my billing and shipping information in my profile to hyphens.

About 5 minutes later, I got this email:

Greetings from
Your order has been sent to the warehouse today, 6/17/2009 5:16:23 PM to be shipped.
These are the items that we are now packing to be shipped:...

Excuse me? It was time to work the White Male in me and get things done. I responded to the email informing them that I had canceled that order and would appreciate it if they didn't ship anything, especially since the address was gibberish. I then called the number
provided and was informed by a woman with a deep southern twang (that's right: The Confederates, or the KKK at the very least did this to me) that they didn't have my order anywhere in the system (good sign), but I should called back later.

This morning, I awoke to find this message in my inbox:

Dear Michael,
Unfortunately, the order has shipped this morning. You must have canceled the order after it had came through to our website. Once the package returns, the credit card will be refunded. Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.
[Customer Service Agent]

What!? Really? Who did they send it TO? hyphen street?
5616 jiosdfioo? That doesn't even make sense! Nor does it resemble my CC's billing address in any way. However, I do currently have a charge on my account for it (thanks for nothing Wells Fargo, as usual). Did anyone ever look at the address? Or is "Jiosdfioo" just one of those things The Mormons talk about over there in Utah while the men sacrifice the babies and the women hide their horns under those poofy hair styles. A perfectly normal Utah address, thank you very much.

Play with fire; you get burned. That's what I learned from this experience. My emails with them are ongoing, but don't need mention here. SOMEONE really needs to work on the efficiency of their website. And someone else needs to stop playing with things that don't belong to him i.e. internet coupons.

P.S. The the case of someone getting offended that I immediately drew the connection of a southern accent to the Confederacy and the KKK, I was joking. While it is possible that she's a racist and supports slavery and segregation, it isn't likely and I know that. You do not need to explain how wrong I am or how offended you are to me. My entire family is from the south, it's entirely my privilege to make fun of them if I like. Count to 10 slowly and
then comment.

P.P.S. As for the poofy Utah hair comment, I'm not retracting it. I'm totally right. Why else would women have hair like that? It isn't attractive and it looks like a pain to do. Must be utility that keeps it in vogue.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Something Bad Happened...

...and I'm still not over it.

I love this guy:

Problem though, is that he's also Dr. Cockroach PhD

Jasper on 101 Dalmatians
Whiney Mr. Palmer
And whoever the crap this guy is supposed to be

You might ask, "So wait, an actor has played more than one character? And you're complaining?". Yes, yes I am. Because whenever I see my boy House in any other role, I get really confused. And that right there is my problem in the first place. He isn't Hugh Laurie, he's Gregory House, so any time I see him with his normal accent or in another role I think "Woah woah wait, who the heck is that guy?" But nothing could have ever prepared me for what I saw this weekend:

And then I suffered a case of sudden-onset epilepsy and slithered off my couch in tremors.

A comb over. No, not that. Anything but that! Fine! Put him in a family movie. Make him all cheery and helpful and fatherly. Heck, you can even put Geena Davis in there too if you like. But then you go and make him all smiley and sweater vesty and give him a comb over. Do you hate me tv? Do you? Seems like it (But I must add, Geena Davis' red hair is pretty hot). How am I supposed to enjoy one of my favorite shows if every time I watch it I think about Mr. Fredrick Little? It just isn't fair. Fox really should get some kind of insurance against this kind of thing. Maybe some more marketing to help me forget about it. But, the damage is done. Does anyone have the number of a good therapist?

P.S. After two weeks I was finally able to make a fist with my right hand again, which was celebrated with a 13-mile bike ride. No one even got hurt.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Monday Photography Special #1: Nick Brandt

I'm torn between having an actual "weekly photographer" feature or just posting up cool stuff whenever I find it. The former would be nice because it would keep me on a regiment. So I'd wouldn't ever go on a photography binge on here. But if things ever get slow, I will have to spend time looking for a good one. I like the sound of that. But then again, why get into a commitment without needing to?

Either way, today's post features one Nike Brant (Also, none of the photos link to his website. It's his own fault).

Is website features two portfolios, both of which were shot in Africa. All his work is black and white with vivid contrast. Furthermore, they all convey a sense of majesty and age. He was made famous by his book On This Earth published in 2005, with another coming out this September.

For a nifty little collage, many of his photos are featured in the music video for Sufjan Steven's "Come Thou Fount of every Blessing". Check it:

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Ease his Pain...

Last weekend I made two discoveries.

First: Kroger brand triple antibacterial ointment burns uncomfortably. So if you were to put liberal amounts on it all over your fingers and arm (which have previously had their skin removed) under your bandages to try and head of the forming infections, you would find yourself in some serious discomfort. This could be more noiticible if you were to do so right before going to sleep so you don't have anything to distract you. In fact, at this point you could find yourself in some serious pain. Then in your desperation you might take the last of your Loratab, with the sad knowledge that it takes a good 90 minutes to kick in. Now you need something to do for the next two hours.

Second discovery: Steve Martin's The Pleasure of my Company of your iPod will prove the perfect distraction.
Again read by Martin himself (so neat), TPomC is a narrative from the point of view of Daniel Pecan Cambridge, a young bachelor who's OCD has inhibited him from most of life's norms. His great obsession is "symmetry", with which he has limited himself to crossing the street where two scooped-out driveways are perfectly across from one another (no curbs...ever) and his clothing must never have a single wrinkle. Granted, he is a mathematical genius, but staying within his self-inflicted limitations are much more important than having a job.

His pitiful attempts at romance, daily trips to the local Rite-Aid, being a murder suspect, submissions to the "Most Average American" essay contest, and road trip to Texas are all hilarious and feel very real. However, at no point did I ever feel like at I was laughing at Daniel. By the end I was cheering him on, willing him accept the reality that he wasn't as independent and self-sufficient as he supposed and that he does need other people. As the book came to a close I felt a strong connection to Daniel. I loved the ending. It was happy and (more importantly for my taste) made sense.

It's a short read, with few characters and one of the least consequential plots of any novel I've ever read. But that's all it needs. Nothing is extraneous. Also interesting is Daniel's nonexistent relationship with his Father, which is mirrored in Martin's relationship with his own father. He even places a memorable instance of abuse from his own childhood as the one memory of that Daniel shares with about his Father.

Anyway, it was a good read. CoolBoy recommends it.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Turns out Steve Martin is Awesome

I know everyone already knows that. But I'm referring to his literary offerings and not the things he has done on stage or screen.

I've listened to two of his audio books in the past month and while I liked one a bit more than the other I must mention a certain little thing first. He reads them HIMSELF! How cool is that? What can give a book on cd more legitimacy than when the author does it? Especially since one of them is a memoir. It gives the books a very personal touch, as if Steve's taking the time to sit down in the next chair over and read his book to you himself. So neat.

The first book in question is Born Standing Up, a memoir from his time in standup comedy until he made the conversion to movies. He recounts his relationship with his family (which was always very distant for his first few decades), when he got his first taste of standup working at Disneyland at age 6, and when he first got on stage himself a few years later at Knott’s Berry Farm. He also goes into trying to survive on an act that, when he started, was not even close to being in style and that in the end he was glad to give it up because it was too stressful and, being that he was one-man show on tour for over a decade, very lonely. Once he finally started getting popular, he was terrified at the premiere of the then-new Saturday Night Live, as he thought it would ruin his act and make him mainstream, but it was there that he met people (and continued to meet people) with which he formed strong bonds. I especially liked his description of the 50's and 60's from an entertainment industry standpoint- at one point he was dating the daughter of a suspected communist film director during The Red Scare.

Another little gift is that on the audio book, each chapter has a frantic little banjo solo that Martin wrote and played himself. What more could you need? He even released a banjo album this past month. I haven't heard it yet but I'm sure it will be, at the very least, interesting.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Oh yeah, I went to Colorado once

I went on a small adventure to Colorado this past weekend. Much more of an adventure that I thought it was going to be too. The purpose was to see this band:

And you know what? We did!

We saw them from the second row of this place:

And it was AMAZING! Turns out there's a magical place in the Rockies will mountains and trees and streams with crazy huge red rocks sticking up out of the ground all over the place. And it also turns out that they do a lot of rock concerts there. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Red Rocks Amphitheater. My roommate B---- is a hardcore fan of the band (he's from the same town as them) so he was willing to 1) not only make the drive, but 2) sit in line for 4 hours so we could go get lunch and still get great seats. Props to you good buddy! It was a really good concert, I even enjoyed the songs I didn't know. The venue was beautiful, the town was beautiful, and I'm sure the 6,000 white chicks that were there would have been beautiful too if they hadn't been wasted (or at least pretending to be) and spilling their $7 cups of beer into each others hair and cleavage.

So that was day #1.

On day two I woke up in Colorado Springs, in the home of a family I had never before met (Friends of B---- from his LDS mission there). Turns out they were really nice and even made us breakfast! Of course, we didn't eat it until about 1 P.M., but it was still very good. We then spent the rest of the day visiting the Olympic Training Center, going to small town called Manitu where we found treasures such as the one shown at right (No, that is not my arm). The whole place reminded me a lot of Seward, AK but without the ocean. From Hippie Towne went went over to a park called The Garden of the Gods and hopped around a bit on the rocks there.

There was a small bit of debate over what to do next, but more importantly than that: this is when my cell phone decided to break. Precious little thing. It's doing okay now, but if anyone stumbles across a free iPhone or Blackberry, I'm your man.

Day #3 wasn't that great for me. My arm had been giving some trouble and I didn't sleep well. Also, the wonderful family that let us stay for two nights has a cat. A cat that I pet until it purred like a chainsaw and then I itched my eye. Did I mention I'm allergic to cats? Nice one. So church was sort of a non-event for me. We then went by the USAF Academy and checked out the chapel there. Turns out they have rooms for 4 denominations: Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, and even Buddhist! The Buddhist one was the coolest. I'd have gone in and hung out if I could.

That was the end of the vacation, we then spent 7 hours in the car or something. It was great...ish.

This is what my apartment should look like

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

In which the CoolBoy did something uncool

For my first real post, I think I'll put something down about my recent bike indecent which occurred on June 1st.

Firstly, my bike (I'm still working on a name, but Black Beauty has potential) looks like this:

(Thanks to for the pic)

Isn't she hot? She's also a fixed-gear, meaning that the pedals and the rear wheel always move together. No coasting. I've installed a rear brake (which is sort of against the "track bike rules", but whatever) for safety reasons, but I mostly just push/pull against the pedals backwards to slow down and stop.

Anyway, I was at about mile 3 on a ride down the P-Towne River Trail going about 20mph around a bend, when a young girl of about 10 came out from behind the trees on my side of the path. Most unfortunately, her 2 sisters, brother, and parents were all on the left side of the path behind her presenting me with the following choice:

1) Hit little girl with bike - This would probably kill her (not to mention untold damage to Black Beauty).
2) Go off the trail to the right, into the very narrow space along the concrete barrier that separated us from the road - In a word, this would probably suck.

So I did the chivalrous thing and chose #2. After several feet of rubbing my arm and leg on the wall, it became apparent to me the BB was about to go over. Being that I would fall onto a row of those lovely, processed, garden-type rocks with the gleaming razor-edges I decided to grab onto the wall instead, leaving BB to flip over on her own. I then announced I was alright (her Dad sounded very worried and apologetic), surveyed the damage (scrapes and minimal blood), and jumped back on for another 8 miles.

I then got home and took an actual look at the situation. It wasn't good. Long story short, my good friend R--- had to come over and clean me up because it hurt too much to do it myself. Not to mention we don't even have band-aids in my apartment. And I was tired of going to the doctor after the whole Mono+Strep episode of April '09.

Add Video
End result

And a couple days of staying home and playing video games later (I consider injury and illness a good enough reasons to play video games) I got another couple shots of it.


Things are actually going pretty well now though. My arm's almost healed up and the burn on my leg hasn't ever really been a problem. The my ring finger suffered a setback with an infection that had to be removed, but other than that everything's okay. That and bandages are really expensive. So lame. But I'm finally going back to work, so that's also a plus.

The First Post

Good Morning family and friends!

As you know, this is my 2nd attempt that blogging. However, I think this one/'s going to go over much better than did the first. I intend to use this mostly for keeping people up to date, discussing about books and movies and tv, and generally posting things I think are interesting without having to do massive email forwards (which are The Devil). Plus, it's about time CoolBoy went blue when commenting on other blogs. Black just has a feeling of illegitimacy. Like how Rochester was putting the moves on Jane although he still totally had a crazy wife locked in the attic. Negative props to him.

But mostly, it's just the library worker (Liberrian) thing to do.

Enjoy (or dont).
- CoolBoy