Archive for August, 2008


Microsoft buys to boost e-shopping search

Addendum: Regarding the first comment to this post, I fail at blogging and at life!! (Ha.) And also, I can’t submit links to Fark, so here’s another would-be headline: GeoEye is watchin ur Google.


A conversation I’ve had too many times:

Them: “You’ve been running a lot lately.”

Me: “Yeah, I’m training for the Seattle Marathon.”

Them: “Wow! A marathon! When is it?”

Me: “November 30th, my birthday.”

Them: “That’s great! How long is the race?”

Me: (sigh) “Eleventy billion miles.”

Them: “Good thing you’re training.”

I know running marathons isn’t common, but knowing what they are should be. These are educated people I’m talking to. They should have at least heard about the battle in their grade-school western civ class.

Unfortunately, this post finds me pleading ignorance on one facet of the marathon: Seattle’s hilly race course. I knew there would be some uphill running, but I talked to a coworker who is running the Sacramento marathon and she made it sound almost unreasonable.

Before I signed up for the race last month, I checked out the course elevation map and it looked manageable. I’m going to be running so slow, it shouldn’t matter. And while the coworker I spoke with is an experienced marathon runner, she is also twice my age.

I am currently healthy and have not yet begun to suffer from problems of the aged, such as osteoperosis, menopause, collecting garbage, driving too slow, and the everpopular diabeetus, so I’m hoping I’ll be okay.

Okay, seriously. What the hell is this?

Does this candy even have a name? Do we have any indication of its ingredients or origin? Are the unmarked wrappers hinting that this candy is so good, it doesn’t need a name, a shiny package, and a nod from a successful candy manufacturer with a popular line of delicious products?

You see this candy every Halloween. It usually comes from the poor family in the neighborhood or old people who forgot what good things taste like.

Does the large bag of this candy at the store even have a name? I wouldn’t know. I’m awesome and give out Snickers bars every year. However, if you come to my door with no costume, then you receive the candy pictured above. This is recycled candy from previous Halloweens.

Even when all the top tier candy is gone (Snickers bars, Milky Ways, and Jelly Bellies) and the second tier candy is rationed out in bag lunches (bite-sized Hersheys, individual Starbursts, and Charleston Chew), you never, ever eat the cheap candy (Tootsie Rolls, cinnamon candy, and whatever’s pictured above).

Smarties are also cheap candy, but they fall into a special category. You don’t eat Smarties, but they make great ammo. Simply construct a bow by cutting a rubberband and straightening a paperclip. Then watch your Halloween rubbish serve as sugary, colorful pellets to strike your classroom/cubefarm enemies. More mature vengeance-seekers may crush white Smarties into a fine powder and sell it as an illegal substance. I don’t recommend trying this with young children, coworkers, or anyone you plan to see again.

However, the candy I happened upon today has no use whatsoever, except to give to someone else when a small handout is proper etiquette. Although the intended message is “I am giving you something because I’m nice,” the underlying message is “Here, you deal with this crap.”

This candy predates Cadbury chocolates, the Mars company (founded in Tacoma!), and probably the Civil War. It appears to have (at least partially) become one with the wrapper that contains it. Should it ever be unwrapped on a particularly hot day, it will infect the culprit and his surroundings like ice-nine. No surface will be safe from its sickening pallid goo.

I’m especially disturbed by the pieces that consist of two colors. Am I to believe that two distinguishable flavors are packed into these sticky heaps of wax-wrapped gunk? What are they, anyway? Strawberry and banana? Cherry and chocolate?

Mmmm, cherry and chocolate…

Wait! No! These are disgusting. Even if that’s what they’re supposed to be, they will taste like their assigned flavor mixed with Elmer’s glue and sand. Do I want to eat Elmer’s glue and sand? Of course not. I’m not in first grade anymore. I have money and live in a city. I want to eat tiny orange fish eggs and slippery buttered snails! YUM!

So I will not be eating this candy. And for the record, I did not buy nor receive this candy. Let’s just say I “found” it and leave it at that.

BTW, I’ll be very busy dressing up and going out in late October, so you can look forward to a repost of this confectionery debacle on Halloween.

When I’m not eating, sleeping, or fucking (or attempting to do all three at once), I enjoy some more complex activities to celebrate and reaffirm my place at the top of the food chain. Besides work, exercise, and the usual life-administrative BS, I also play poker.

Just like almost every man age 15–45 who isn’t completely bitch-whipped by a nagging mother or succubus wife.

On the other hand, ladies who play cards seem to be the calico cats of the 20-something litter. Like Asian redheads, Dodge Vipers, and reasonably priced organic food, we’re nothing too special, but still a unique surprise.

Unfortunately, beyond the mere exchange of fact, there isn’t much to discuss unless you’re making plans to actually play the game. Talking about poker these days is like talking about anything people regularly do (see first paragraph), so most conversations feel a lot like this:

Mutual Friend: “Kat, this is Male Friend. Hey Male Friend, you still breathe air, right? Kat breathes air too!”

Male Friend: (nonchalantly) “Oh? You breathe air? That’s cool…”

Me: “Yep.”

Male Friend: “I love breathing air. I’ve been breathing air since I was kid. Way before it got popular. How long have you been breathing air?”

Me: “I breathed air for fun a little bit when I was a kid, but I started breathing air more often when I got older and had money and other people to do it with.”

Male Friend: “Right on, right on. Where do you breathe air now?”

Me: “I usually breathe air at work and a few places in the neighborhood.” (Vague on purpose. I don’t like talking about where I work or the private card rooms I frequent.)

Male Friend: “Yeah, I breathe air at some friends’ houses sometimes. Do you breathe air online?”

Me: “Yeah, sometimes.”

Male Friend: “I breathe air on Poker Stars, Hollywood Poker, Full Tilt, etc.”

Me: “I breathe air on Full Tilt sometimes.”

Male Friend: “Right on. Are you doing well on Full Tilt?”

Me: “Yeah, it’s going alright.” (I don’t like to talk about money with people either. I’ve withdrawn my initial deposit and then some. That’s all that matters.)

Male Friend: “Cool, same here.”

Me: “Good.”


To me, poker is one of those shit-or-get-off-the-pot topics. I like to play, so I make plans to do it and talk about it there. I don’t enjoy discussing strategy with someone I hardly know (where to even begin?) or taking turns fellating each other about how cool we are because we play cards. The idea that you can win a lot of money by sitting in a chair making the right plays is attractive to most people. Now that it’s more accessible than it’s ever been, everyone’s doing it.

As with most sports, I could memorize the stats of some selected pros and rattle them off to make conversation, but that’s part of the reason I’m turned off by regular sports in the first place. I don’t want to spend a lot of time fawning all over someone else’s skills, I just want to play and improve my own. And then when it’s over, I want to do other things (see first paragraph).

He: “Lesbian porn is fake.”

Me: “What? Next you’re gonna tell me Johnny Depp isn’t really a pirate.”

There’s a girl here who is fresh of the boat Indian who needs to use a paper towel to handle every single thing she touches. The doors, the sink, everything.

She moved here from a country where women shit by the side of the road and wipe their asses using their own hands. I doubt paper towels were available for mass consumption there, so why waste them here where it’s actually clean?

There’s another girl here who is fat as hell and also can’t open a door without a piece of paper towel in her hand.

If she’s really that concerned about her health and well-being, why doesn’t she try not eating garbage all the time? Does she really think the grease-faced 16-year-old preparing her McDonalds triple-cheeseburger with extra mayo washes his hands every time he takes his 15-minute break in the bathroom with a Victoria’s Secret catalog?

I was hanging out in my cubicle around 6pm, waiting for a poker game at 6:30, when a fellow cube-farmer from a different group approached me. Because I’m a decent human being, I obeyed the Heirarchy of Attentiveness: people physically in front of you come first, the phone is second, chat is third, VM/emails to be returned are fourth, and work to be done goes after that by order of importance, which you should have determined when it landed on your plate.

“Hey Kat, does [your boss] have a policy on cell phone usage?”

I look up from gchat, surprised and slightly put-off by such an inane question.

“I don’t know why she would. She sits in another building.”

Semi-annoyed that I told him something he already knew, he replied, “Right, but what does she say about using them?”

“I’m not really sure why you’re asking me this question,” I said.

This went on for a few minutes. I was bored and he had trouble getting to the point, which is typical of most of my conversations here.

“I hear cell phones ringing a lot in this area and I was wondering if those people know that they’re bothering everyone else,” he told me.

“Well, I like to silence my phone and take personal calls outside, and I’ve encouraged people to do the same,” I said. (This is an understatement; I am a cell phone nazi.)

“But not everyone does that,” he said.

“True, but if someone’s phone is bothering me, I ask them to put it on vibrate and that usually takes care of it,” I replied.

“Yeah, I’ve talked to a few of the validators, but maybe there should be some sort of rule,” he said.

“If a specific rule is going to be made about that, why don’t we also make rules about when people eat lunch or go to the bathroom? I think people should monitor themselves…”

He interrupted me with over-compensating laughter and agreed that we don’t want to go down that road. We spent a few more minutes talking about unnamed coworkers who weren’t present and habits of theirs that we can’t change, another typical aspect of conversations here.

“Yeah, I guess I stopped expecting people to have common knowledge about these things when I started working in the tech industry,” I said, as it is generally accepted that technically oriented people are socially incompetent. I think techies improperly use this generalization as an excuse for poor personal conduct, but I had better things to do than open that can of worms with this guy.

“I never expect common knowledge to exist anywhere,” he said.

“In some environments, you just can’t,” I agreed, hoping to close the conversation so I could return to my multiple flashing chat windows.

“In any environment,” he corrected me, “…in life.”

“Get out of my cube.”

When the US media reported the Russian attacks on Georgia, I wonder how many hicks from the Atlanta suburbs called up their kin to make sure everything was alright.

Five years had passed since I’d set foot in the place. It was a smorgasboard of horrible from the very beginning. Immediately realizing my foolish mistake, I vowed never to return.

Then came the dilemma of last night. After finishing the blissfully awful movie, Tideland, a too-short episode of the “The Simpsons”, and a rerun of “Family Guy”, my fellow Texpat and I were famished from all the energy we had expended.

“I’m hungry. Let’s go to Chipotle,” he said.

I slapped him and called him a heretic. (Not really.) I asked him how he could be from Austin and eat at such a place. It’s not just a chain, it’s a chain that strips away every beautiful quality inherent of delicious Tex-Mex food, leaving a trail of disasterous fail in its wake. How could he even suggest this blasphemous excursion to the depths of culinary hell?

He replied that it really wasn’t that bad. We were, in fact, in Seattle, and this is the best they can do here. I didn’t want to believe it, but maybe he was right. And maybe Chipotle had changed since its disconnection from McDonalds in 2006. Donning my usual Sunday uniform (clothes from the night before), I decided to give it a try.

(If you’re a Texan, you understand what my monster is, and why it is a privilege to unwrap it.)

So here’s the breakdown:

    • Line: The architecture of Chipotle’s line-bordering walls is exactly the same as Freebirds. It’s like someone went to Freebirds and, I don’t know, took some notes maybe? And, oh, I don’t know, spent six years raising capital to open a similar business with shares they would eventually sell mostly to McDonalds, the mecca of terrible food and marketing values because they needed some capital? But then maybe officially spin off once people realized it was the spoiled trust fund baby of chain fast food restaurants? Hmmm? Maybe? But I digress.


    • Staff: At Freebirds, your order is taken by a friendly tattooed kid with colored hair and/or piercings. At Chipotle, your order is taken by a squat woman who can’t speak English. Attitude might also be included free of charge.


    • Clientele: At Freebirds, you eat alongside college students, techies on their lunch break, and other cool people. At Chipotle, high school kids and suburban twat-rockets.


    • Tortillas: Freebirds has a choice of four flavors (spinach, cayenne, whole wheat, and regular) in different sizes. Chipotle has one flavor in one size and it’s like eating a rubbery circle of garbage.


    • Rice: Freebirds has Spanish rice. Nom. Chipotle has white rice with lemon and cilantro in it. Meh.


    • Beans: Chipotle doesn’t have refried beans. WTF WTF WTF.


    • Meat-stuffs: Chipotle has more choices (including pork), but Freebirds offers white OR dark chicken. I got beef barbacoa at Chipotle, but it wasn’t shredded enough to be burrito filling. So instead of an even allocation of ingredients, the meat portion of my burrito was consumed in three giant bites.


    • Cheese: Freebirds has three kinds, Chipotle has one. But most cheese tastes the same when it’s melted with seven other things, so I guess it’s a tie.


    • Sauces: If you count corn as a sauce, then Chipotle has something Freebirds doesn’t, but the selection is still limited. Freebirds has Death Sauce. That’s right, when you eat at Freebirds, you gamble with your LIFE. That makes it a win in my book.


    • Sour Cream: Chipotle’s is soupy, but they don’t charge for it.


    • Guacamole: Both places charge extra. And it’s all delicious. Tie.


    • Foil: If you’re a fan of eating like I am, your burrito is going to be big when you get to the end. At Chipotle, they wrap your burrito in one piece of foil. One tiny piece of foil! Freebirds people will wrap your delicious masterpiece until it has the proper stability, and there’s extra foil by the napkin and salsa station. Bringing me to my next point…


    • Salsa Station: THIS is where I get more tomatillo sauce to enjoy with every bite of my Freebirds burrito. Where’s the salsa station at Chipotle? Oh wait, there ISN’T one. You get Tabasco sauce, comrade. That’s it.


    • Napkins: Chipotle’s napkins have directions on how to unwrap your burrito. People who need directions should go back to Taco Bell until they’re ready to eat real Americanized Mexican food. And then they should go to Freebirds.


  • Website: I can’t eat a website, but let it be known that Chipotle uses gratuitous flash and sounds whether you want it or not. Freebirds lets you choose between html and flash, and you can easily turn the music on and off. Obvious winner.

Yes, I still ate every bite, interspersing chews with short but frequent complaints. My southern partner in migration and homesickness seemed humored by my explicit weakness and told me he expected nothing less. It’s human nature to compare things, and last night left me completely unable to overcome it.

See also: Two Days of Boo-fays