Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloweiners

There are certain times of the year when a person's real and true inner self shines through for the world to see. Halloween is one of those times.

And no, I don't mean all the nerdboxes like me who go all out and also wear their costumes at least 3 times the week of. (If you're going to do it at all, do it right. Yes?)

I mean all those people who cop out. On halloween, we can see the inner lame-scape of some of our fellow humans.


Things that qualify as terrible costumes: (Which I've seen almost all of today)

  • Your old karate gi
  • Your nurse scrubs from work
  • Completely normal clothes with a hat that's supposed to count as something.
  • Trying to pretend that the normal clothes you are wearing have some sort of theme.
  • Pajamas
  • "This is my costume" signs. (Probably the most retarded of all).
  • Your exercise getup
  • Sports Fan
  • Trying to make a real costume for literally 4 seconds before quitting and going as is. (See picture. Lady Gaga?)
  • Deuschy puns
  • Being scantily clad doesn't automatically count as dressing up.
  • Oodles of fake blood for no reason
  • "myself". (Almost as bad as "this is my costume")
  • 80's girl (This was cool once, but has since become the ultimate cop out)
  • Anything where other people can't actually tell that you're in a costume.

A clue: No.

That is all. I just wrote this post because I feel so bad for people sometimes. They have no idea how pitiful they look.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Medieval Personality Test

"So tell me, who are you?"

"Uh, Mike. We met like four seconds ago."

"No, no. I mean your personality. Likes, dislikes... Do you have a girlfriend?"

"I really don't see why that's relevant, sir. I'm just here to choose a weapon before I enter the academy."

Master Jarek shook his head. "Oh, dear. Another one. Come with me, boy."

Mike glanced around skeptically, and then followed him through a narrow hallway. Master Jarek opened the door at the end and shuffled through. Mike could still see traces of the grace and strength that had once belonged to the city's greatest weapons master. Despite that, he didn't entirely trust that the old man was 100% "together".

Once through the door, Mike forgot his concerns. They had entered a round room that housed a magnificent museum. Weapons from every age of history were there. All sizes, types, qualities... it made the armory at the academy look like an old tool shed.

"Sir..." He whispered.
"Just call me Jarek, lad. Now, what you see here is the finest collection of history in the world."

"I can see that, sir... Jarek."

"No, you can't. Not yet. What do you see in these weapons? A bit of metal that you use on your enemies? Feats of smithery that chronicle our technological advances? As long as that is all you think of, you will never understand.

"Weapons are war tools, it is true. These displays show the steady march of time, and remind us of the battles that shaped today's world. But there is so much more.

"Every warrior has a favorite. Even those who are accomplished masters have one weapon that suits them the most. The one they use more than any other. Why do you suppose this is?"

"Uh... because all people are different?" Mike replied, unsure of the direction that the questions would take.

"Precisely. All people are different. Every person is completely unique, and not just physically. The tool that you prefer, the one that chooses you if you will, tells a great deal about you - the inner you - even if you don't know these things yourself."

"How do you mean, Master Jarek?"

"Just Jarek, thank you. What I mean is that each type of weapon lends itself to a different style. In other words, a different type of person.

"Axes:"

Jarek grabbed an ax from a display and started swinging it, coming straight for Mike. The boy looked around for some sort of protection, but there was nothing within his reach that could have halted Jarek's momentum.

"This type of blade offers very little in the way of defense. Parries and such are simply not what an ax is built for. The only way to be truly effective, therefore, is to keep the ax in motion. Swinging, slashing, beating back the defender by sheer aggression. Even if you had a sword in your hand, what could you do against me?"

Mike didn't answer, but his frantic backpedalling said enough. Jarek smiled and replaced the ax on the rack.

"The man who suits an ax-like weapon will have many of the same qualities. Aggressive, pro-active, impatient.

"Bow and Arrow:"

He pulled a long wooden staff from a display and strung it in two seconds.

"A bow, on the other hand, is quite different. You could almost call it an intellectual weapon. Long range. Practically useless in close quarters, so you have to be smart about it. You have to see the enemy before they see you. You have to plan and think ahead. Use strategy and stealth. And not just mentally. Your movements have to be quick and strong, but extremely precise."

Jarek fired three arrows at an old target on the other side of the room. They hit within millimeters of each other.

"With a bow, moving your hand a mere inch can mean a miss of dozens to hundreds of yards. And the warrior who wields the bow has to appreciate this exactness and embody all of these traits, or he will never be a true master."

"War Hammer:"

Jarek picked up a beautifully crafted hammer that Mike was sure should have been far too heavy for him.

"Similar to the axe in most respects, but for one major qualification. The wielder must possess great strength, more than even an axe-man. The entire effectiveness of this weapon depends on the power behind each hit.

"By extension, the warrior who prefers the hammer must have a certain coldness. There are no blades to pierce or slash with. There will be no swift and merciful deaths. The hammer-man must be okay with bludgeoning his enemies to death. With beating them until they can no longer fight back, after which they are left to slowly die in a broken heap."

Mike shuddered and looked away from the hammer. He sincerely hoped that he would not become that sort of warrior. Jarek noted the expression and smiled.

The next weapon he picked up was long and thin, but somehow looked even more deadly than the hammer. Mike had never seen one before, and he was immediately intrigued.

"Katana:"

Jarek said the name with reverence, and Mike had the distinct impression that this was the master's true weapon.

"Once again, a near opposite of what we have just discussed. The katana is all about grace, poise, confidence, humility... Like the bow, it requires precision and a great deal of dedication to master. But unlike it, the katana is a close quarters weapon."

As he spoke, Jarek began taking the katana through a beginner's routine. Though the moves were simple, each sweeping stroke was perfect and deadly.

"Master Jarek, how can a warrior be confident and humble at the same time?"

"Excellent question," he replied, while still working through the sword form. "This is something that all warriors must know, but while an axe or a hammer will rarely use it, it is absolutely crucial to the more graceful battle styles. With a katana, one must be completely and impartially aware of his exact limitations. He must never underestimate himself. (Confidence.) But neither must he over-estimate. (Humility.)

"Thus, the man who prefers a katana must be balanced. Graceful, calm, collected, unafraid, yes. But balanced above all. At peace with himself. The katana is a weapon of harmony and peace, not of brutal war."

"Sir?" Mike asked, wondering how 'weapon' and 'peace' could go together.

"You will understand in time, my boy. But let us move on." He placed the katana back on the display stand, and took up another sword, this one much more familiar to Mike.

"The long sword (or broadsword):

"A highly sensible weapon. Well rounded. Easier to master than the Katana or other similar weapons. But more difficult than the axe or the hammer. The long sword is good for both offense and defense. It allows for a great deal of variety in style and form. One can slash, hack, stab, and bludgeon.

"It is easy to see why this weapon has become so widely used, and such a common favorite. Downsides: It really is very commonplace. As such, it is hard to judge the quality of your education, and thus, difficult to truly know your own abilities until it is far too late."

"Too late?" Mike asked.

"Your deathbed is a rather inconvenient place to learn that your swordmaster was a ninny." Jerek answered dryly. "I've seen it happen far too often. But that is not the fault of the weapon.

"A long sword is a responsible and flexible weapon. If you choose a long sword, my only caution is to keep your mind open to learning."

"Now the Dagger:"

He picked up an ornate, silver blade and spun it in his hands.

"There are two qualities to daggers and knives that make them especially preferable for some. The first is stealth. A dagger is easy to hide, easy to retrieve, and easy to maneuver in small spaces.

"A king may occasionally prefer a dagger to a sword because of the protection it gives him in unexpected situations. An assassin or kidnapper may be thwarted by the sudden appearance of a blade in his ribs.

"Or thieves. Most men who prefer daggers are not entirely honest. Not all, mind you, but stereotypes do exist for a reason, sometimes. The stealth, the quickness, the easy concealment, all marks of the thieve's trade.

"But more than anything else, the thing about daggers that appeals to some types of warriors is the risk. A dagger is very "devil-may-care". You must be fast, quick thinking, and agile. But even if you have learned all there is to know about dagger or knife fighting, there is still the element of chance. Fighting with a dagger is always to gamble with your life, even when the odds are in your favor.

"Some enjoy the everyday thrill. For others it is a momentary mood - a time when he has nothing left to lose, or feels the need to do something incredibly stupid. Desperation can make a man do many a strange thing. Either way, the man who chooses the dagger will tend to be impulsive, cocky, and headstrong."

As he spoke, Jarek had been wandering a bit aimlessly. Mike paid it no attention. He thought about the master's words, and understood them completely. There had been times in his life where he craved danger. A gamble. "Something incredibly stupid." He was about to say so when he realized exactly why Jarek had been wandering.

"What the...?"

He tried to duck away from the dagger that Jarek had been casually holding at his throat only to find that another was pressed to his back.

"I could kill you in at least 12 different ways from this position, and you didn't even see it coming."

Mike tried to stay relaxed. He knew the old master wouldn't really kill him. Or at least he was almost sure he wouldn't.

"I think I understand now, sir. Er... Jarek. I mean about the personalities thing."

"Indeed?"

"Yes. You're trying to say that we don't just learn about the technology or the wars from all this. We learn about the people. Who they were, how they lived and fought, stuff like that."

"Success!. Yes, my boy. That is exactly what I am saying. Take these axes, for example. They are all from the same ancient northern tribe. From the shape of the blade and the wear on the shaft, we can tell what sort of men belonged to this tribe."

"Right." Mike said. "So it really is the best history collection. Not just history of war."

"Indeed."

"And the best way to see what I'd be suited for is to see what my personality will lend itself to."

"You'll make a fine addition to the academy, Mike. Now, tell me a bit about yourself."

"I do have a girlfriend, actually." Mike grinned.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

You Can't Salvage What You Don't Have

I've only had 26 years to work on this, which isn't very much when it comes to learning lessons through life experience, but there is one thing that I've figured out already.

When it comes to taking risks, you have a lot more dignity when you go for something and completely bomb than you do if you chicken out and don't even try.

That might seem a little counter-intuitive. Most people's reasoning behind not taking risks is the exact opposite. In order to salvage dignity, they quit before they can get hurt.

I am sorry to inform you, but that's not going to work out very well.

You see, in order to salvage your character, you've got to have some in the first place. And there's only one way you get it.

You guessed it. By working. Trying stuff. Building it through trials.

It's sort of like muscles. You don't get strong by sitting on the couch all day. Yes, it's easier to be a couch potato, but it doesn't get anything done. You have to use your muscles.

And not just use them. Use them against resistance.

When astronauts go into outer space, they can do all the arm curls they want while they're in the space station. But when they come back to earth, their muscles will be in just as bad a shape as if they did nothing at all.

The key here is resistance. Working against gravity is what builds muscles.

Working against hard things is what builds character. Doing only easy things is a complete waste of your life.

(Obviously there's a difference between taking risks and being a moron. But we won't go into that just now.)

Would the Beatles have become the most famous rock band in the world if they had avoided the risk of performing in front of someone for the first time?

For those who are wondering, the random dude in this pic is Pete Best, who drummed for them before Ringo.

Would J. K. Rowling be a world renown (millionaire) author if she hadn't taken the risk of turning her manuscript into publishing companies?

Would Barbra Streisand have won literally every kind of academy award there is to win if she had avoided the risk of auditioning for the first time?

And the thing about these people is that they all got No's before they got Yes's.

The point is that when you risk yourself by turning in a project, or trying out for a sports team, or applying for a job, you learn and grow, even if they say No.

And what's the worst that could happen? They could say no. And then where are you?

Answer: Back where you started. Except smarter and stronger.

In other words, whether they say yes or no, you're better off than before.

So you have a choice: Sit around being a spineless worm, or go out and build yourself enough character to be worth hiring in the first place.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Freedom of Religion

To base your presidential vote entirely on the religion of the candidate is incontrovertibly un-american.

It happened four years ago, and it's happening again. Mitt Romney is running his presidential campaign, and the anti-mormon hate is on the rise. Not a complete surprise. There has been anti-mormon hate for 180 years. But now it's political.

So, why un-American?

Let's talk about the freedom of religion - one of the first things that was amended into the constitution.

After the American Revolution, the colonies realized "Oh, hey. We won the war. Now what?"

They needed to create a government. Preferably one that resolved all of the issues that had led them to revolution in the first place. And they needed it right away. So quickly they made up the Articles of Confederation. But even while they wrote them, they knew the articles weren't going to be good enough, and they really weren't.

So they followed those articles for a little while until they could structure something better. Something that would be really solid, last the test of time, and give the people the rights and protections that they deserved. That something was the Constitution.

The bill of rights is a list of specific rights and freedoms that the majority of the people wanted in the constitution before they would be happy with it. The first on this list reads thus:
Amendment I: Freedom of Speech, Press, Religion and Petition

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

'Or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.' In colloquial English: The government isn't allowed to force you to belong to a certain religion. And they're not allowed to force you to not belong to the religion of your choice.

While I have skimmed over many of the smaller details, this review of history shows that the first amendment is not just a law that the government made, but was created and ratified by those same men who wrote the Declaration of Independence.

It was these same men who put their lives on the line in fighting a hopeless war for freedom. They are the very founders of the United States of America. The reason this country still exists after all these years is because of the Constitution.

In other words, the constitution IS the essence of America. And any breach of it is profoundly un-American.

But sadly, the freedom of religion has transformed into more of an "I can do whatever I want, but you need to do what I say" mentality. Starkly opposite to the words written by our founding fathers.

As evidenced by the hate surrounding this election campaign.

This selection was taken from a ksl article about a pastor from Dallas, Robert Jeffress, talking about his past stances and how he's at it again.
"Mitt Romney is a Mormon, and don't let anybody tell you otherwise. Even though he talks about Jesus as his lord and savior, he is not a Christian," Jeffress said in a 2007 sermon. "Mormonism is not Christianity. Mormonism is a cult. And just because somebody talks about Jesus does not make them a believer."

In that sermon, Jeffress said he was frustrated that some religious leaders had backed Romney anyway. "What really distresses me is some of my ministerial friends, and even leaders in our convention, say, `Well, he talks about Jesus, we talk about Jesus, what's the big deal?' It is a big deal."

Let us break this down.

A) Mr. Jeffress is implying that Mitt Romney should not be voted for because he belongs to a "cult."

Does Mitt Romney belong to a cult? Answer: who cares?

Dictionary.com says:

cult [kuhlt] noun
1. a particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies.
2. an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, especially as manifested by a body of admirers: the physical fitness cult.
3. the object of such devotion.
4. a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.
5. Sociology. a group having a sacred ideology and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols.

By these definitions, every religion in the world is a cult.

And didn't we just establish that it is a fundamental aspect of being American that we can worship how and what we choose?

B) Mr. Jeffress says that even though Mitt Romney says that he believes in Jesus Christ, he doesn't really.

Person 1: I really like chocolate ice cream.
Person 2: No you don't.
1: Um, yes, I do. I eat it all the time.
2: You think you like chocolate ice cream, but you really don't.
1: But I've had it many times. I like to eat it.
2: You don't like it like I do. So you must not really like it.

Ridiculous, yes? If I like chocolate ice cream, why are you sitting there trying to convince me that I don't? If I believe in Jesus Christ as the savior of the world, why are you spending all of your time and effort trying to tell me that I don't? What purpose does this serve?

C) Mr. Jeffress is mad that other pastors from his club are planning to vote for Mitt Romney, but not because he is disappointed in their political choices. He is disappointed because they belong to christian churches, and he thinks that they should only be allowed to vote for candidates who also belong to christian churches (which, to his mind, excludes Mitt Romney.)

If I thought the same way, I would only be allowed to vote for people who belong to my church. Jews would only be allowed to vote for Jewish candidates. Atheists would only be allowed to vote for atheists.

And why stop there? All black people are only allowed to vote for black candidates. All asian people can only vote for asian candidates. And people who immigrated here can't vote at all, because the president can't be a naturalized citizen.

Doesn't this defeat the entire purpose of the election process? A process which has been an integral part of our country since it was founded? A process that upholds, and allows us to participate in some of the rights and freedoms that are the essence of being American?

D) Mr. Jeffress believes that no one who is not a christian can be considered an acceptable presidential candidate.

In so saying, it is implied that no one in the world can be a good leader unless they are christian also.

What about Ghandi? Or Confucius? Or Galileo? Or Socrates?

And what about some who were 'christian'? like Hitler. Napoleon. Vlad the Impaler.

The point is that, yes, this country is predominantly christian. And yes, it was founded by christian men, on christian principles. But in so doing, they instituted one of the fundamentals of christianity itself. Namely, the freedom to choose. The right to believe what we decide to believe.

Even if Mitt Romney did belong to some cult, so what? He could pray to a funny shaped rock, or worship the old Greek gods like Zeus and Athena, and it would be totally irrelevant to his candidacy, because this is America.

None of this is to be confused with blind stupidity of course. If a man belongs to a religion that happens to practice the ritual sacrificing of children when they turn 6 years old, that could be a problem. Not because his religion is different than ours, but because someone who believes in something so extreme will probably have political stances that are also extreme.

I can easily understand that this is a concern for some people who don't know much about Mitt's church.

However, this will usually show itself in the political platform. So pay attention. Use your brains. (That's what they're there for. Surprising, I know.) Read the book instead of just looking at the cover.

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Crash Course on the Dewey Decimal System


As a library employee, I (far too frequently) hear the complaint, "I just don't understand the Dewey Decimal thing".

Most of the time, this is just an excuse to avoid something that looks too intimidating. But the Dewey system is actually very simple, and very logical. I've been using it easily ever since I got my first library card.

This post will explain briefly, and hopefully simply, exactly who, what, why, and how.

WHO

Melvil Dewey was a librarian in the late 1800's. Back then, there wasn't a real system for organizing non-fiction. People just shelved it however the heck they felt like it.

In 1876, Dewey invented the decimal system so that libraries could all be on the same page. (Pun intended.)


WHAT

In the simplest terms, the Dewey decimal system puts all the books about the same topic into the same section. Each number represents a particular topic.


WHY

With fiction, it's easy. People browse fiction by genre and author. So that is how you organize it. But that is not so easily done with non-fiction. If you need a book about fungus, how the heck are you supposed to know which different authors might have written the kind of book you need? It has to be done by topic. But before 1876, topic was an entirely subjective thing.

Imagine going to a grocery store that you've never been in before. You want some broccoli. You think it might be next to other vegetables, since that is how it works at home, but you can't find it anywhere. Next you check in the refrigerated stuff because maybe they're trying to keep it fresher. Not there.

You could try the soup, since lots of soups have broccoli in them. No luck again. Or maybe with the dairy, since cheese goes so well with it. Still nothing. At last, you round a corner after searching every row, and there it is with lawn chairs, plastic cups, wheat thins, and some on sale St. Patrick's day cookies.

What did all those things have in common? They were all green.

All of these are organized methods to arrange merchandise. Some make more sense than others, but it all depends on the mind of the person who arranged it.

Can you imagine how very long it would take to do your shopping if every single store had its own way of shelving their food? Luckily, it isn't like that. Vegetables are always with other vegetables. Dairy is with other dairy. Meat is with meat.

This is what the dewey system does for libraries. It puts the meat with the other meat. No matter what library you go into, you will be able to know which types of books will be in which sections.

HOW

This is the big question. And the one that the majority of you probably feel is the truly hard part.

But the thing about the Dewey system is that you don't need to remember which numbers belong to which subjects. You don't need to know how they decided the system, or when the decimals change, or anything like that.

(That's the beauty of library catalogs.)

There is only one thing you have to learn in order to be able to use the system: You have to be able to count.

I bet at least one of you doesn't believe me that it's this simple, so I will give you an example. Say that the book you looked up is under 796.

When you walk into the shelves, you find that you are in the 100 section. Is 796 higher or lower?

Clearly higher. Move along.

You pass many shelves before looking again at where you are. 811. Is 796 higher or lower?

It is lower. You've gone too far. You have to go back a little bit.

Now you are in a row with books that say 780. Is 796 higher or lower?

Higher. You're almost there.

791. 792. 793. 794. 795. 796. You've reached your goal. You may now browse the sports section to your heart's content.

A Little More Practice

If you still feel unsure, here are some practice exercises you can do. Answers are below.

1) Put these numbers in order:
139.3
256.79
940.6
811.54
001.113

2) Put these numbers in order:
711.2
711.3
711.9
711.34
711.902
711.22

3) Put these numbers in order
796.323
796.332
796.334
796.233
796.32
796.303

4) You are looking for Dragonology. The catalog gave you this number: 398.245
These books are on the shelf:
128.4
292.211
398.2
401.6
629.41

Where would Dragonology be found?

5) You are looking for Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. The catalog gave you this number: 646.78
These books are on the shelf:
641.5874
643.98
646.781
647.2
650.235

Where would Mars and Venus be found?

ANSWERS:

1) 001.113
139.3
256.79
811.54
940.6


2) 711.2
711.22
711.3
711.34
711.9
711.902


3) 796.233
796.303
796.32
796.323
796.332
796.334

4) It would be between 398.2 and 401.6

5) It would be between 643.98 and 646.781

And that, friends, is the Dewey decimal system. Not nearly as tricky as it is made out to be by some people. Now you can locate your books in peace and harmony with the world.

IN CASE YOU CARE

Just in case you really are interested in the further workings of the dewey decimal system, here is a basic list of which topics are in which sections.

000 – Computer science, information and general works - Computers are in this section because they weren't invented yet when Dewey created his system. So they had to stick them up in the front. Also in this section are things like aliens and cryptozoology (the study of stuff like bigfoot, loch ness monster, and other "real" but not real things.)

100 – Philosophy and psychology - Chicken soup for the soul, serial killer profiles, all sorts of stuff.

200 – Religion - practiced religions as well as mythologies from ancient ones. If you want to know about Zeus, or Thor, or Amun-Ra, or Islam, or Buddhism, or Christianity, go here.

300 – Social sciences - Loads of stuff here. Military books, spyology, manners books, going to school, informational holiday books, fairy tales, and basically anything that has to do with social culture.

400 – Language - Grammar as well as signing or foreign languages. Any whatever-to-English dictionaries will be here.

500 – Science (including mathematics) - Basically, facts on what we know about the world. How volcanoes work, simple machines, rainforest life, animal books, dinosaurs, bugs, tornadoes, etc.

600 – Technology and applied Science - Books that talk about how we use science in our lives. So an animal book would be in the 500's but a book about how to raise an animal on a farm or for a pet would be in 600. Outer space, cars, robots, the human body. Also cook books, relationship books, business practice, and lots of organizational stuff and how-to things.

700 – Arts and recreation - Huge section. Art history, architecture, how to make art, cartooning, wood work, calligraphy, crafts, knitting, crocheting, photography, music history, music how to, movies, games, sports, hunting, extreme sports...

800 – Literature - Meaning things like poetry, plays, and the most classic of the classics. (Dante's inferno or shakespeare.) Books about other fiction books. Cliff notes. How to write.

900 – History, geography, and biography - Also, a lot here. Anything about history, and that takes up quite a lot of subject matter. (WWII, ancient Greece, 9-11...) Travel books. Sections for every country in the world. Stuff like Corrie Ten Boom's the Hiding Place.

In our library the biography section is so huge, that we just turned it into its own thing at the end. I think a lot of libraries do that.


Not racist.

Sometime people get really offended by the fact that the spanish sections of the library annoy me more than any other. Some of these people often vehemently protest, trying to defend the spanish section. Most of these people are either married to, or are going out with someone who speaks spanish natively.

First of all, it is not because I hate Mexicans. It is not because I hate the spanish language. It isn't because I am a zealot for the whole "you're in an english speaking country so freaking learn english" thing.

So no, I am not racist.

It all comes down to this: Without even the tiniest doubt, the spanish sections (both kids and adult) are the most horribly disorganized in the entire library. I hate putting books away there because it is so out of order that it's almost impossible to do it right. And not doing it right rubs hydrochloric acid into the open wound of my slight ocd-ness.

As I said, many people get mad at me for feeling this way. But their arguments are completely empty. I shall here address many of the frequently argued excuses about the spanish speaking patrons and their section.

Myth #1: English isn't their native language. Even if they speak it well, it will never been quite the same. So they can't be expected to keep up with all the native english speakers.

#1 Debunked: Yeah, that would be a valid point... IF the section were in english. The section is, in fact, the spanish section. The titles are in Spanish. The alphabetizing is in spanish. The genre labels are in spanish. In fact, these spanish speaking patrons ought to be able to understand this section better than we do.

Myth #2: It's a different language. We probably alphabetize it like it's english, not knowing any better since we don't know any spanish.

#2 Debunked: Out of all the languages in the world, the spanish alphabet is one of the closest to the english one. Excepting a few letters, they are identical. Therefore, alphabetizing works in exactly the same way.

Myth #3: Maybe library systems work different in those other countries. They don't understand how ours functions because they didn't grow up with it.

#3 Debunked: So you're saying that the way their home libraries work is that it's okay to just shove unwanted books back into any section, regardless of number or author?
(See above on alphabetizing.)

And anyway, the sections are so small, and the return shelves are so clearly marked with bright red tape, that it would take a TRULY oblivious person to not notice them and figure it all out.

Myth #4: I don't even understand the Dewey Decimal system myself. And I'm not sure if any other countries even use it. It's not fair to ask them to suddenly understand it too.

#4 Debunked: That is absolutely irrelevant. Because the dewey decimal system uses arabic numerals. Arabic numbers are used in every single country in the ENTIRE world. It's one of the few things that is common to the entire human race. No one counts with Roman numerals, or hieroglyphs or anything else anymore. Just plain old 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,0.

You don't have to know what the numbers mean. You aren't expected to memorize the organization. You don't even have to understand why we use the dewey system. All you need to know is how to count.

In conclusion:

After considering all possibilities, I am left with only two valid reasons that the spanish section ends up being as annoying as it is.

A, people don't realize that it's organized at all. And so, when returning books, figure that everything just goes together anyway.

Or B, they don't care. They are too lazy/selfish/inconsiderate to bother thinking about others who come later, and just put stuff wherever it is convenient to them.

Neither of these are good options. And neither are in any way excusable. And that inexcusableness is why I am so impatient about it all.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

See, the thing about asking me for recipes is...

That I don't actually use them.

Well, yeah, I do when I'm attempting to bake something, but that happens pretty rarely. And has never resulted in anyone wanting to know how I made whatever-it-turns-out-to-be.

But when I cook, I find they're more like guidelines than actual rules.


There are three things in particular for which people always ask me for the recipe. I always tell them "I just put these things in it." Then they say, "ok, cool. Can you send it to me in an email?" (Or on facebook, or on the blog, or whatever.) As if I haven't just told them everything I can.

But for the sake of trying to help you replicate these foods, I will tell you as much as I can, complete with a few tips about things that probably cause the difficulties with most people.

#1: Pork Roast & Rice

Probably the food I make with the biggest deliciousness to easiness ratio. Here's what I do.

- First, buy a couple of these:

(Offbrand works just as well. How many just depends on how much juice you need/how big your pork roast is.)

- Put some water into a crock pot. Dump the gravy mix in. Stir till dissolved.

(Half the point of these is just to work the same as bouillon. Except I've never seen pork bouillon cubes. The other half is that it has some good-on-pork spices. One of my goals in life is to figure out what these spices are so I can make it without store bought stuff. But the package just says "Spices". Helpful, right?)

- Then, dump a bunch** of salt and onion powder into the water. Stir till dissolved.

**When I say a bunch, obviously I mean within reason. We won't be using an entire bag of salt or anything. But the problem that most people have with cooking food like this is that they have no concept of putting in enough spice for a large amount of food. They sprinkle some salt onto the water like they're just seasoning their plate at dinner. That just don't work with a five pound roast. You literally have to dump some in and stir it around. If I had to guess at an amount for a big roast, I'd say 2 tablespoons of each at the very least. Probably more. But like I said, I've never actually measured it.
- Finally, put the roast into the water and let it cook. It can be done in a few hours, but it tastes the best if you let the spices really cook into the meat, so overnight is preferable. Just make sure to check it has enough water before you go to sleep. Don't want it to burn.

- If you let it cook long enough, it will disintegrate into pulled pork all on its own, and you can make it into a hawaiian haystack gravy topping.
(Which is LEAGUES beyond cream of chicken soup. I got no problem with cream of chicken. I use it in things all the time. But all by itself, it really doesn't taste like anything. At all. And makes a very disappointing gravy.)

- I just use instant rice. Follow the box directions (which are almost always 1 cup of rice to 1 cup of water). But instead of using just water, substitute some of it for meat juice from the crock pot.


#2 Spaghetti Sauce

Sure, it's easy enough to pop open a can of prego and microwave it. But that's on the same level as using plain cream of chicken for your hawaiian haystacks. Sufficient, but generally disappointing.

- First, fill a crock pot with some water. (Not too much right at first.)

- Dump in salt, onion powder, Italian seasonings, and some garlic (but not as much of it as the onion powder and salt. It has a stronger flavor.)

- Mix in some cans of tomato paste.

Two of the 4 inch tall cans for a normal sized crock pot. Three for a large one.
- Add more water until it's to your preference for runniness vs. thickness.

- Add a stick of butter. (Yes, a whole one. A little more if you're making a giant three can batch.)

- While that starts to simmer, cook up some hamburger meat. How much just depends on what you like in your sauce, but generally a lot makes the sauce taste better than just a little. Use onion powder liberally on it as it cooks.

-When it's browned, put it in the sauce.

- Let simmer overnight when possible, but at least a few hours before eating. Maximum simmer awesomeness happens when you cook it overnight, but not quite a full day.



#3 REAL Chicken Noodle Soup

None of that brothy nonsense.

- Cook some chicken in a pan with plenty of butter and onion powder.

- Chop chicken into small pieces.

- Using the same pan, (In order to get the broth-making flavors) boil some water. Not too much, or it will be runny.

- Make some noodles in the boiled water. (Egg noodles or regular both work, depending on what flavor you want.)


- DON'T DRAIN THE WATER
The reason this soup works is because of the chicken flavors that get cooked into the noodles and broth.
- As they cook, add liberal amounts of onion powder, salt, and butter. And bouillon if you want.

- Once the noodles are cooked, add 2 large cans of cream of chicken soup and the chopped chicken pieces.

- Let simmer for a few minutes, until the cream of chicken is fully mixed with the broth.

This will make you a good, thick, delicious soup. None of that gross looking brothy crap. Which some people try to improve by adding vegetables and stuff to it. Doesn't work.

Also, the best part about this soup is that it is better as leftovers. It holds over in the fridge really well.

Well, that's all I've got for today. Lata.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Mark Salling is officially my Favorite

He sings amazingly. He is super attractive. He's a tremendously talented actor.

And he's a sweet guy too:



That last Glee episode... it set up so much conflict for the future. And so much good stuff. Puck the bad boy is stricken with adoration for baby Beth, and is willing to change his entire existence just to be able to be a dad to her. Holy. Cute. And Mark Salling did it SO well.