What You Say?!?

August 30, 2004 12:15 am

I'm already two weekends behind - it's been a busy month! But I finally organized pics from the Something Awful August NYC Goonmeet. This actually took place on Aug 21, and our theme was helping sick kids. Why such a noble cause from a group that prides itself on offensive humor? Well, partially in reaction to the mixed reviews of the previous NYC meet in June where we crashed a lesbian pride parade. To show that we truly aren't horrible people, we decided to raise money through the SA Forums to buy toys for the Ronald McDonald House. The project was termed "Goons With A Golden Heart" and we managed to raise $4,800 online, with almost $1,000 of that coming from just the active NYC goons. Not only did total strangers on the web contribute, but there were donations in Pounds, Euros, even Yen! Despite all the atrocity that SA is infamous for, in the end, I'm proud to be involved and thankful I can share time with some of their finest members.

The meet started at Grand Central Terminal, filling it with nerds and robots:

We had three robots this time! Scurvy Bot:

...Monocle Bot, AKA Gentleman Bot:

...and Fairy Bot:

Robots prancing on the streets of NYC!

After meeting at GCT, we made our way to the giant Toys R Us in Times Square:

All lined up at the Toys R Us:

The online donations were reincarnated as 48 separate $100 gift certificates to Toys R Us. As each goon entered the store, we were given one of these from the magical tin box:

The goon who organized the meet wrote a loving message on each individual gift certificate (as you can see, even at our best, we can't resist!):

The Toys R Us was extemely crowded, but I still had fun. Possessing a $100 gift certificate really liberates you when shopping! Prior to the meet, Ronald McDonald House sent a wish list which included lots of arts and crafts stuff. So I bought paints, crayons, play-doh, jewelry kits, and lincoln logs. I also threw in plastic animals and coloring books. It was pretty cool to see all the goons emerging from the store with massive bags in tow. While we weren't required to stick to the wish list, most goons split their items between requests and personal favorites. Many of them also went over $100 and supplemented their purchase with out-of-pocket money. Some highlights I saw people buy: Hulk Hands, Transformers, Star Wars figures, Legos, My Little Ponies, and Dr. Seuss books. After about an hour of shopping, we proceeded to the NYC Ronald McDonald House:

Making a pit stop at GCT. Check out all those goons with Toys R Us bags!

Finding out how many goons can be squeezed on a subway car:

The robots were a huge hit on the subway:

Finally, our destination!

The highlight of the meet for me was seeing what $5,000 worth of toys looked like. We piled all our bounty into the conference room, which overflowed with goons, robots, and TOYS!!!

As a token of appreciation, Sue from the Ronald McDonald House presented the coordinator of the meet with a plaque:

Close-up of the plaque. Note how we are fellow "dot com" members - we very wisely declined to give out the Something Awful URL. Can you just imagine the reaction if they discovered what we do with the rest of our free time?!

After a deed well done, 70 of us crammed into Dallas BBQ for celebratory food and drink. As you can see, we were a HUGE party and I was pretty impressed they seated us all. The entire space behind those balloons was ours, as well as two tables in front.

Post dinner, one of the goons hosted a party at his Brooklyn apartment. However, Vic and I ducked out in order to make it down to Philly for one last STWing house bash. That's a story for another time, though! All in all, the SA meet was quite grand. Not only did we prove we could raise money for charity and follow through on a good deed, but we proved we could do so with our own style and flair. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I [heart] nyc goons!

August 25, 2004 9:00 am

I'm preparing a big post regarding this past weekend's shenanigans. I just need to collect the right pictures from various scattered sources. In the meantime, a few things:

* I received a package from the Department of Homeland Security the other day. After my co-workers and I poked it for a few minutes and decided it wasn't a bomb, I discovered it contained two really cool publications. One was a guide to preventing identity theft, the second was a booklet on how to seize electronic evidence for investigative purposes. Anything that requires a "Computer Forensics Scientist" is a winner in my book. I think I'm going to scan the package so you can all see the return address, and perhaps scan a few pages of the electronic evidence booklet too. It's pretty interesting stuff.

* There is so much more vegetable variety in Asian supermarkets than American ones. The local Stop N'Shop always has the same 6-7 greens and a staple selection of fruit. Walk into an Asian supermarket, though, and you'll see about twice as many greens, a seasonal rotation of fruits, and several fresh herbs and roots. I bet the boring selection is part of the reason why American culture stigmatizes eating vegetables and fruits. If there were more choices in flavor, I bet they would become more interesting to eat. Plus, the preparation of most American vegetables leaves them with hardly any taste - stir-fry or curry beats boiling any day.

* A friend sent me this e-mail, which I found amusing:
A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.

He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was. So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open area between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous "yes."

The professor then produced two cans of beer from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand as it soaked up the liquid. The students laughed. "Now," said the professor as the laughter subsided, "I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things: your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions; things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

"The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, your car. The sand is everything else, the small stuff.

"If you put the sand into the jar first," he continued, "there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life.

"If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out to dinner. Play another 18 holes. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal.

"Take care of the golf balls first, the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand."

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the beer represented.

The professor smiled. "I'm glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of beers."
* And last, but not least, my company is hiring! Here are the positions, as posted on Monster: The first two are probably out of the league of anyone who reads this. The third position, however, can serve as entry level. If you want to go anywhere near real estate, finance, or management, it's a great opportunity. While work experience is useful, we're very good about hiring on skill and ability. Even if you've never touched any of this stuff before, as long as you demonstrate you're smart, quick to learn, and willing, you have a fair shot.

August 19, 2004 9:30 am

It's been said before, but I'll say it again: Stikfas rock! Vic and I have built up quite a collection. We now have the following sets: It's hard to describe exactly how awesome these things are - you just need to play with them to get a true sense of the fun and spirit. For anyone who has ever been fascinated by Legos or model-building, this stuff is addictive. A few pictures:

The Dragon is waaaaay cool:


This is what happens when you attach dragon wings to a horse:

I was floored when the Phantom kit came with a pumpkin. I just couldn't resist building this:

Another shot of the Headless Horseman build:

A mighty battle between Villian and Hero!

Ah, yes, who needs a wizard when you've got a giant gun:

Another showdown!

The Villian and Hero kits each had enough spare parts to create a whole other figure. The first one Vic made is this badass dude:

Followed by the Mexican wrestler! Grrrrrrrr!

Knight attacks dragon...

...Knight is crunchy...

...dragon wins!

And this concludes a small gallery of evidence that Vic and I are total nerds who dump our disposable income and free time into questionable activities ;) Actually, it's really good to know we both haven't grown out of our toy habits. I feel incredibly lucky to be with someone who understands the joy of assembling various plastic parts together into whimsical flights of fancy.

August 17, 2004 10:15 am

I have decided the olympic male swimmer is the epitome of human physical form. They have all the right muscles in all the right places, with good tone across the entire body and they move with a wonderful fluid grace. They're not overdeveloped like weight lifters, willowy like track runners, or stocky like gymnasts. It's all about lines and planes, and they quite simply have the most beautiful combination of form and function I've ever seen in this species.

August 12, 2004 6:16 pm

Watching Bill Clinton on the Daily Show the other night reminded me again why I liked him so much as a speaker and politican back when he was president. Had I been legal, he most definitely would have won my vote. Not only were his responses on the Daily Show eloquently well crafted, but he showed a moderation that I really miss in politics these days. He walks that fine line down the middle, seeking the eye of the storm so he can better plan for dealing with the surrounding chaos. I like how he acknowledges the validity of his opponent's viewpoints, yet still acts passionately for his own causes. He has a pragmatic view of American society and demonstrates an understanding of our history and human nature. Though I disagree with some of his policy decisions in the past, he has always been able to provide logical justifications for those decisions, as opposed to relying on party rhetoric, generalizations, or subjective ideals such as morals, ethics, or religion. I was really glad the Daily Show was able to host such a prestigious guest and I think Jon Stewart did an admirable job, as always.

On another political front - poor McGreevey. Amid all the other scandals plaguing his administration, now he's admitted to cheating on his wife and he has a sexual harassment suit breathing down his neck. Not that the lawsuit will happen; he'll settle for sure. But still, people will give him more grief than he deserves. Cheating on your wife is horrible, but I bet his admission of being gay will attract the most attention. The American public isn't fond of affairs...but gay affairs probably top the list of intolerable acts. I personally think he's a democratic sacrificial lamb, and the sudden guilty speech as well as the timing of the resignation, are all part of the political machine. The dems know they aren't going to lose New Jersey anytime soon and this was an easy way to get an unpopular man out of office without dirtying anyone's hands but his own.

August 10, 2004 11:20 pm

I went TWO WHOLE DAYS without internet on my computer at home. It was terrifying.

In other news, my boss proved once again that he totally kicks ass. As a token of his appreciation, he treated the ladies of IT to a spa last week. Each of us received an hour facial and an hour European massage. I'm not sure what was so "European" about it - I guess the term makes it seem less sketchy.

At the spa, I realized that I'm not really into facials. I have a simple skin routine: bar soap + water. So to have 50 layers of various beautifying goo repeatedly rubbed on and off my face was a little agitating. I did like the steam soak, though - it smelled absolutely heavenly, like eucalyptus and sandalwood. And they used a scrubbing brush that felt really good against my skin. But overall I don't think facials are worth the price. While they may use nice masks and cleansers, you're really paying for labor and there's not that much skill in a facial. Not that I didn't enjoy it; I just wouldn't do it on a regular basis.

The massage, though, was something I'm sorely tempted to repeat. It was full body: head, shoulders, back, arms, legs, feet, and hands. I'd never had a professional massage before and I must say, it felt fucking great. Three amazing things I learned:

(1) Working on a computer all day apparently stresses more than just my neck and back. When she started massaging my palms and wrists, I pretty much melted. I never knew that chronic "Ctrl-C/X/V" could cause such strain!

(2) She somehow avoided that really painful nerve near the bottom of the foot arch that causes cramping. Maybe I'm the only one that is ultra-sensitive to this nerve, but I was really worried she would rub it the wrong way. Yet it happened not once. Oh, yeah, and foot massages rock.

(3) It doesn't feel as sexual as everyone assumes. While there was liberal use of oil and I was naked, the ultimate result was a dreamlike state of relaxation. I was drifting off (the dim lights and soothing bird chirping helped in this regard) and sex or even sensuality was the farthest thing from my mind. I think the "sexy" part of a massage comes from attraction to your partner, not from the act itself. This woman was putting me into blissful sleep - I'm sure if it had been someone I was romantically interested in, it would have felt much different.

I did feel wonderful the next day. It's made me more aware of my posture and I can tell how tense some of my muscles were. Basically, this whole spa experience confirmed my opinion that a good massage every now and then is worth it. On one hand, it seems like a total decadant splurge, but for the sake of my health, both mental and physical, it's looking like a pretty good investment. $80~$100 every 3-4 months doesn't sound all too bad, considering the cost of health care these days.

August 4, 2004 9:15 am

The United Nations Development Programme released its annual Human Development Report a few weeks ago. It's a very interesting read, and I highly recommend looking through the other reports on that website. While the UNDP does have a biased agenda, it's one I can deal with.

August 2, 2004 4:42 pm

At first, I called it a "big round wicker chair thingie where kittens curl up" but after some research, I now know it's called a Papa-San chair:

August 1, 2004 12:40 am

It seems everything there is to say about Sept 11 has pretty much been said. Some people have developed a sense of backlash on the subject, as if to say, "Enough already. Yes, it was tragic and horrible, but we have to stop rehashing and overreacting, and start moving on."

I am one of these people. I'm sick of the repetitive dramatization of the event, and especially sick of people using its emotional force as a platform for personal agendas. In every business outing I've attended, the subject of "where were you and what were you doing when the towers fell?" seems to be mandatory conversation. And I hate how people brag about knowing someone who died, or almost died, or saw the planes hit. They keep trying to one-up each other, and it's just so disrespectful to tell these stories over a martini, or trot them out in hopes of impressing someone, or to make yourself appear more important, credible, or deserving because you were intimately effected in some way. If you want to discuss its impact and implications, fine, but don't turn it into another sob story. I'm not interested in what you were doing and how a friend of a friend ran down the street when the first tower came crashing down.

What brings on this sudden outburst, is that I recently had a meeting in NYC that required I take the PATH train from Jersey City to the new WTC station. As you enter the site, the track winds around the underground construction, giving you a mini-tour of the foundation. I will admit to being profoundly moved as we slowly circled the ditch that was once two of the most recognizable skyscrapers in the world. The entire train was quiet, and I suspect even the daily commuters still treat that entry with a moment of silence.

The renovated station is gorgeous and filled with inspirational images and quotes. There is a sidewalk around it, and also an elevated walkway from which you can look down on the site. The meeting location required that we cross to the other side of the station, so we took the walkway. We went pretty slowly since two of my co-workers had never seen the site before and were clearly awestruck by the devastation. At one point, we paused to look at a remaining piece of the original building - a crumbling wall that belonged in some post-WWII european countryside landscape, not a major metropolitan city. As we stood there, I couldn't help thinking about all those innocent people and I felt a deeply moving sadness passing through me and the two people who were seeing it for the first time. If business protocol had allowed, I think the three of us would have reached out to hold hands.

And then another co-worker started, "Yeah, my wife was working right over there when the first plane hit. It was awful, she was coming in from..."

I wanted to punch him. Like I needed his words to remind me of what happened, while I was standing there right in front of the fucking place. It ruined the sacred and reflective moment, turning our emotional states into an opportunity for entertainment and some heartstring tugging, not even considering if we wanted to hear about it or not.

I was too polite to punch him, or tell him to shut up, but I tuned him out. Because in the end, there are hundreds of stories like his, all variations on a theme. And that theme, while significant and powerful, should be left for each individual to contemplate and reflect on their own terms, without the braggarts and worms trying to abuse and violate the sorrow of others.

See archived entries for July 2004.
See archived entries for June 2004.
See archived entries for May 2004.

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