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Feb. 9th, 2009

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Why My Wife Is the Best Wife

My wife made me something amazing for my 29th birthday.

First, some context.

Please watch this advertisement for the Discovery Channel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=at_f98qOGY0

Now, please read this edition of XKCD (my all-time favorite web comic): http://xkcd.com/442/

Now, please click on the adjective below (which describes my wife):

Amazing!Collapse )

Feb. 2nd, 2009

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Groovy as a Groundhog

What a weekend!

Remounted some towel racks (and spackled and painted on that account).

Patched up the damage done to our basement wall when our pipes froze.

Also installed a door over the master water valves for easy access.

Fixed a clog in my kitchen sink using a sock and a plunger.

Oh, and I made bacon and chili, too. :)



Jan. 28th, 2009

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The Richest Duck in the World

So I came up with some on-the-fly theories about Scrooge McDuck's money bin in response to a question asked in reference to this Facebook meme:


I thought I would republish them here with some additions.

Question: How would it be like to swim in money?

Answer: Well, there were canononical instances of individuals other than Scrooge attempting to swim in the money bin. However, they would simply impact against the money as if it were a hard surface (which is likely what would happen in real life). This was both comical and illustrative of the fact that, for whatever reason, Scrooge was able to interact with money in ways beyond the capabilities of others. There were also episodes where individuals other than Scrooge WERE able to swim in the money bin, although this is likely a continuity error rather than a case of someone acquiring Scrooge's "powers."
It's worth noting that, assuming the money was predominantly standard issue coinage, it would have had a density of approximately 8.9 g/cm^3, or almost nine times that of water. It would be very uncomfortable if not outright injurious to be submerged in money.
Assuming based on color that the money in the bin was actually GOLD, the density would be more than twice that and almost assuredly deadly to be covered in.
However, it is estimated that all gold mined throughout history totals approximately 158,000 tons, which would result in a cube around 20m on each side, or roughly the same dimensions as the lower 3rd of the Washington Monument. The dimensions of the money bin are given as 39m x 37m. Based on the shape of the money bin, it is likely that the third dimension is on a similar scale. It is unclear whether these dimensions refer only to the vault portion of the money bin or to the building as a whole (which presumably house offices and support staff). It is clear that Scrooge would be in possession of most, all, or even more gold than has ever been mined in all history (even accounting for the fact in our visual estimation that it is unclear whether Scrooge is the size of a human or a real duck).
It is highly implausible that, even with his vast fortune, Scrooge could have acquired such a large amount of gold. The idea that perhaps only the top few feet of the money bin consist of gold can be rejected outright, as the apparent color of the currency was established to be constant all the way to the bottom (as revealed during several moderately successful Beagle Boy heists: with Gyro's transporter ray and with Gyro's time accelerating pocket watch - it's anyone's guess as to what federal loophole allows Gyro to get by with such substandard security when working with what are obviously weaponizable inventions).
With gold out, that leaves us with the conclusion that the money was, again, stand issue coinage. It is possible that Duckburg legal tender makes use of brass.
It is curious, however, that many units of real world currency are shown (i.e. the Number One Dime) that have the more silvery sheen commonly associated with this type of coinage rather than that of brass.
One can conclude, then, that the money's gold hue in Scrooge's bin derives from a dye applied by the McDuck Corporation itself. Whether this was done as an anti-counterfeiting measure or to indulge Scrooge's Croesusian whims is unclear.

Another possibility, one that would explain the swimming, is that the dye features a special form of electrostatic hyperlubrication that allows Scrooge to move through the money effortlessly as long as he too is coated in a substance with a like charge. This would explain the aforementioned continuity error - the idea being that, in episodes where other characters were shown swimming successfully, they had also applied this special "money repelling lotion."

The fact that Scrooge is able to deface such a large quantity of government-issued legal tender is an additional revelation about the lax federal oversite that exists in the Ducktales universe.
In any case, Scrooge's jokes about "liquid assets" aside, it remains unlikely that anyone in the real world would be able to swim in a giant bin of money without sustaining injury.

Dec. 29th, 2008

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I've put on 6 pounds since Thanksgiving.

That's 21,000 calories.

That's enough energy to drive my Prius 28.6 miles.

Of course, that's just chemical energy. If I converted all the weight (rather, mass) I gained into energy, it would yield the equivalent of nearly 116 megatons of TNT. That's twice as powerful as Tsar Bomba>, the most powerful weapon ever detonated by man.

Incidentally, that would be enough to drive my Prius 586,258,109,903 miles, or 1/42nd the distance to the nearest extrasolar star (Proxima Centauri).

It's also 2,063,628,546,858,560 Biblical Cubits.

Wait, what was I talking about?

Dec. 23rd, 2008

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What Christmas Is All About

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

-Luke 2:8-14

Dec. 17th, 2008

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Stage Fright

This post is dedicated to Austin Bragg.

I admit it. I get stage fright. But, so do a lot of people. The difference between me and a lot of people is that I tend to lend things way more thought than they warrant.

Stage Fright Part 1: In the Bathroom

It's very difficult for me to use a urinal if there's someone else standing nearby, or even just in the bathroom period. Even loud noises (like the jerkass who slams down the toilet seat) can make it nigh impossible for me to drain the lizard.

This is particularly troublesome at sporting events, where I have to be "that guy" who lets the drunken douchebag cut in front of me in line to use the perfectly serviceable urinal while I wait for an open stall. And they know what's up. They know there's no way I'm waiting just to take a dump. They know I'm not about to contact naked skin with a toilet seat that's covered in urea. They know that, for whatever reason, I am incapable of urinary-based male bonding.

It's not conscious. I'm not standing there thinking, "Ooooh, I can't pee! Someone's here! My urine might KILL THEM!" It just... doesn't come.

One thing I find that helps is thinking about impossible objects. Or pondering the many paradoxes of the Universe (like the fact that, although only 13 billion years old, the Universe is 93 billion light years in diameter - what's up with that?).

I guess I'll just have to content myself with using urinals only when I think no one else will be coming into the bathroom anytime soon.

Stage Fright Part 2: The Stage

I get stage fright before going on stage. It's not a fear of public speaking, or a fear of screwing up. It's more like a nervous excitement that makes me tense and high-strung.

It also makes me gassy.

I don't know why, but it makes me have to fart.

Luckily, if I'm on stage it's usually because I'm moderating an improv show. Unlike with urinary stage fright, I have a clear-cut, never-fail strategy for dealing with this problem. I save it up and then, when I'm out in the audience, I let 'er rip.

This presents several advantages:

1) If I time it right, the audience will be clapping or laughing loudly enough that I can just let it all go without worrying that they will hear a thing.

2) If it turns out to be a stinker, no one will ever be the wiser because I'm in a crowd of people. No one will know who did it!!!

So with these two gems up my sleeve, I have peace of mind knowing that this type of stage fright will never cause me any practical problems (unlike that time I got roped into entering that literal pissing contest in Guatamala. Julio was very upset that his horse didn't come in, so to speak).

Oct. 31st, 2008

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Happy Halloween!

This would have been a more effective jack-o-lantern if the little pumpkins were howling in terror rather than smiling gleefully.

Oct. 30th, 2008

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What I Did for Jordana for Halloween

This was made in 2004. It's a jack-o-lantern I made in the shape of Jordana's face.

Took a picture, applied the appropriate Photoshop filters, printed it out, and traced! Simple!

Is there anything scarier than Halloween with Dan?

Oct. 28th, 2008

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What I Did For Jordana's Birthday

Jordana freely admits that National Treasure is her favorite movie. God I love her.

Up until her 27th birthday, however, she did not own a copy of this particular cryptologic oeuvre. Not wanting to ever do anything that could even remotely be considered "ordinary," rather than just give her the DVD, I decided to send her on a treasure hunt for it.

At first I thought I'd just give you the clues in this blog and let you figure them out for yourself, but I figured I'm lucky if you've even read this far. Instead, I'll just give the explanation.

She opened the DVD case for the movie, but instead of a DVD was the folded up map on the right side of the image.

The set up was that someone had snatched the DVD out of the case and taken it back in time. The map references the "Northwest Turnpike," which was the old Civil War-era name for Route 50.

This lead to a search of our basement, which turned up the scroll pictured on the left, wrapped up inside the belt.

The word "scytale" that was hastily drawn on the map (obviously by someone at a later date to the map's original publication) lead Jordana to figure out what a scytale cipher was. Basically, only by wrapping the belt around a cylinder of appropriate size could the encrypted message be deciphered (no, the "cylinder" in question was not my penis - although I'll tuck that idea away for later).

The stylized "S" in the word "scytale" on the map matched the stylized "S" on the belt. This lead to the Heroes sword that Jordana had recently purchased. Wrapping the belt around the sword revealed the words "FIRE LEAVES."

That clue lead to the word autumn, which was the keyword necessary to decode the Playfair cipher on the original map (just like in the second National Treasure movie!).

The decoded message ended up being a poem which directed us to a specific inscription at the Jefferson Memorial, specifically the one from the Declaration of Independence.

The poem also directed us to proceed due west from the Memorial, which gave the DVD's final latitude.

Back to the scroll that was hidden with the belt: the red letters and the numbers (which formed the shape of the numbers when removed from the text) spelled the word "HEAT."

When heat was applied, it revealed an Ottendorf cipher written in invisible ink (just like in the movie!!). When applied to the inscription at the Jefferson, this provided a simple substitution cipher that revealed the DVD's final longitude.

With the latitude and longitude in hand, we proceeded to a point (coincidentally only a few hundred feet from our house) where the DVD was hidden along with gold coins and jewels.


And you know what? She enjoyed it.

I think it's cool that the Jefferson Memorial, where I proposed to her and where we had one of our first kisses, is almost exactly due east of the house we bought together!

Sorry ladies, I'm taken!

Oct. 20th, 2008

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Pirate Flim-Flam

So Jordana came up with the idea of having a "How well do you know Jordana?" game show at her birthday party.

Then I came up with the idea of making it elaborate, pirate-themed, and awesome.

I hope you all enjoyed playing Pirate Flim-Flam. In case you were curious, this is the game guide I wrote up for myself. Obviously I changed stuff during the game to address various pacing, consistency, and fairness issues:


Hello hello and welcome to Pirate Flim Flam, the game where you compete to master the birthday boy or girl for fabulous prizes! I’m your host, Awesome-Beard!


Welcome Jordana

You all know how the game is played, but first, let’s meet our birthday wench. Originally a down and out Atlantic City “stripper” and now a resident of Fairfax, Virgina, let’s give it up for Jordana!


Choosing Captains and Deck of Destiny

And now, to choose our three ship captains, it’s time to go to the Deck of Destiny! Just don’t pick the Sweaty Fat Kid card!


Destiny Cards

3x captain cards

1x Sweaty Fat Kid

Xx Crew


Crew Selection

And now, Captains, time to pick your crew! Sorry Sweaty Fat Kid, you get picked last!


Who Goes First

To see which team will go first, how old was Jordana when she had her first kiss? (The answer is ten). Whichever team is closest wins! The team that guessed first can flip the Coin of Chance for a shot at an automatic win.


Each team starts with ten gold.



At the start of the turn, a player spins the Wheel of Whimsy.  The team then flips the Coin of Chance to see how much gold they win – calling it right gets them two, wrong gets them one (unless the turn is lost). If they get the question right, they win their gold. If they’re wrong, another team may opt to steal, in which case bonuses are ignored and the team gets only the base gold rolled for.


There are four spaces between each Plunder Zone. Getting an answer correctly moves your team forward one space. Teams may pay five gold or use a Motorboat card to move an extra space. Stolen questions count only for gold, they do not move you forward.


Plunder Zones

Play does not continue until all teams reach the next Plunder Zone. For every turn a team does not reach the Plunder Zone, teams already in the Plunder Zone receive one extra gold. Teams not in the Plunder Zone can bribe the Jade Monkey with a Golden Banana to summon them to the Rum Runner’s Tournament.


Rum Runner’s Tournament

Once all teams reach the Plunder Zone, the Jade Monkey challenges them to the Rum Runner’s Tournament.


The first team into the Plunder Zone goes first. Jordana chooses one member from each team to serve as the challenger.


Challenges are judged by either Awesome-Beard or Jordana.


Zones and Challenges

Island of Slumber – Do your best impression of Jordana in the morning.

The Chocolate Temple – Do your best performance of a Jewel song

Whiny Caverns – Do your best impression of Jordana’s mother

The Slutty Hut – Do your best impression of Jordana


Winning the Tournament gives you a Golden Banana, ten gold, and you get to move an extra space.



After the Slutty Hut, the top two teams in terms of gold move into the Lightning Round. Whoever gets the most out of ten questions correct in one minute wins.


Wheel of Whimsy

-Whirlpool Bonus - Double prize money. Spin around with head on bat ten times, then answer the question.

-High Maintenance - Use a Wrench to fix your ship or pay five gold to take the wench to a fancy restaurant. Lose a turn.

-Scurvy Card – Draw a Scurvy card

-Backwards Bonus – Answer the next question backwards or receive no money.

-1, 2, and 3 Gold – Instant win for gold.

-As an alternative to any bonus, you can play Shiver Me Timbers, where you see who can hold their hand in a bowl of ice water longer than a member of the other team in an effort to steal five gold from that team.


Scurvy Cards

5x Wrench – Prevents high maintenance. Play at any time.

3x Plank – The Captain selects a player to play against. Flip the Coin of Chance. If the Captain calls it, then a player is dumped overboard. That player must give Jordana a five second backrub. Move ahead two spaces. If the player wins, then it’s a Mutiny and that player becomes the Captain. Collect ten gold. The former captain must give Jordana a five second backrub. If the Sweaty Fat Kid is dumped overboard, move to the next Plunder Zone, collect ten gold, and draw another card. Played immediately when drawn.

5x Mermaid Rescue – Take a second turn. Play at any time during your turn.

3x Siren’s Call – Three challengers of Jordana’s choosing must serenade Jordana. Whoever she picks as the winner gets ten gold. Play when drawn.

3x Motorboat Sent Backwards Through Time to Pirate Era – Move ahead one space. Cannot be used to move into a Plunder Zone. Play at any time during your turn.

3x Cannon – Send another team back one space. Cannot move team back to previous Plunder Zone. Play at any time.

1x Touch Jordana’s Boob – Touch Jordana’s boob. If you dare. If a team does this, they give half their gold to the referee. They can keep half of the pimp money if they give the referee a backrub.

1x Give the Sweaty Fat Kid a Wedgie – The Sweaty Fat Kid is switched to another team as chosen by the Coin of Choosing. Play immediately when drawn.

7x Golden Banana – Use to bribe the Jade Monkey. Play when another player is in the Plunder Zone to move to the next Plunder Zone.


Special Question Cards

Flim-Flam – Another team gets automatically gets the gold. Players can opt to “Drink Up Me Hearties” and drink a cup of Grog (prune juice) to keep it.

Slap the Wench – Beat Jordana at a general knowledge question. You either agree or disagree with her answer. Get a bonus for a correct response.

Bet the Farm – Wager the other team for 1-5 gold on a “who has the best answer” question.



Destiny Cards

Wheel of Whimsy

Gold Coins

Coin of Chance

Scurvy Cards

Extra Golden Banana cards

Prune Juice

Paper, Pens/Pencils

The game board

Team pieces 

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