Sunday, August 20, 2006

Still Alive

Despite no updates in quite some time, I just want to let it be known that I'm still alive and this is still my blog. Stay tuned... I may decide to write something here sometime soon.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Red Swingline Stapler

I wrote the following essay for a 20th century artifact "show and tell" presentation in my English literature (104B at UCSB) discussion.

As just about everyone knows, a stapler beholds the sole purpose of binding together sheets of paper or other materials, simply by driving a thin metal staple through the sheets and folding over the ends to secure the paper. The most common places to find a stapler include offices and other places that process large amounts of paper on a daily basis. However, many college students also have one (but not all… many ask other students in class to borrow one).

While King Louis XIV of France supposedly developed the first stapler in the 1700s, the comedic film Office Space, released in 1999, drew new attention to the device. Milton Waddums, a fumbling and mumbling useless “employee” of Initech, made himself and the stapler famous for his true love of the red Swingline he flaunts on his desk. However, one casual day in the office, Milton’s Boss, Bill Lumbergh, confiscates the red Swingline, claiming Milton actually stole it from him at one point. Lumbergh’s action drives Milton to insanity, and Milton consequentially burns the building down. The stapler makes a final appearance at the end of the film when Peter Gibbons, the main character, recovers the slightly-burned artifact from the rubble that was once the Initech building.

Oddly enough, Swingline, a stapler and hole puncher manufacturer founded in 1925, did not offer a red version of its commodity at or by the time Office Space appeared in theaters. The popularity of the red stapler in the movie led Swingline to release a “limited edition series” red stapler in 2004. The Swingline website currently offers the “rio red Collectors’ Edition 747® business stapler” at the MSRP of $31.80.

Written and directed by Mike Judge, Office Space “pokes fun at work life in a typical software company during the late 1990s.” Judge based the film on his 1991 animated short films of the same name, which he created for Saturday Night Live. The feature-length film did not prove financially successful in theaters, and only broke even. However, the film proves itself a classic based on home video sales and rentals. Recently, Judge released a special edition DVD with additional content.

Source: Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia (“Stapler” and “Office Space” articles, available at

Monday, March 06, 2006

Flippin' Bitches

The other night, my housemates and I partook in a long-awaited trip to the local Jack in the Box to fulfill our desires for a scrumptious midnight snack. We had been planning this major event for the past few hours as we drooled over mental images of French toast sticks and greasy 99-cent tacos created by that round-headed man we all bow down to. Only one factor held us back from immediate relief—we had to await the return of the last member of our hungry bunch. Finally, after what felt like hours upon hours, he walked in the door, and immediately we turned him around to head back out. Finally! Jack, we’re coming for you!

The city of Goleta obviously did not plan the streets surrounding Jack’s fine establishment for heavy usage by hungry college students. The should-be-simple task of maneuvering through the gritty and painful K-Mart parking lot to the drive-thru and then out back to Isla Vista requires an unnecessary number of dangerous vehicular maneuvers, one being known as the infamous and dreaded “U-turn.”

Fortunately, to ease the pain, I drive a compact and “efficient” piece of metal, known to some as the faded-red 1996 Toyota Corolla with the huge dent in the door (welcome to parking in IV). The car really has treated me well… it just keeps going, and going, and going… man, I wish it would just DIE! Oh well—this tiny Japanese marvel of engineering excels in areas that other shiny new cars do not. It has the capability of making breathtaking U-turns that those gas-guzzling SUVs can only dream of. Oh yes, and it gets decent mileage, very useful for saving a few cents which I can later spend at Jack in the Box.

As I head out of the parking lot, turning left onto the street upon which I will have to demonstrate my U-turn-making skill, one of my housemates yells out “go flip-a-bitch ahead!” Having been born and raised in a typical suburb full of others my own age, I know the term “flip-a-bitch” particularly well. However, at the moment in time my roommate articulated the chosen expression, my analytical mind sprang to life, wondering, “Who the hell thought of such a meaningless expression?”

Think about it, just for a minute or two. “Flip a bitch.” It can mean, with the addition of “off,” give some girl you despise the finger. It also can mean, literally, flip a bitch. But, really, what DOES that mean? Take a female dog and flip it around? In the air? On a stick? Right… maybe a bit far fetched. And besides, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty for Animals (yes, it exists, I found it on Google) might hunt you down for that obscene behavior.

The most memorable part of our discussion on flipping a bitch came about when I conjured up an image (in my mind, of course) of those damned “No U-Turn” signs being replaced with plaques stating “No Bitches.” Now wouldn’t that make for some entertaining driving adventures? I’ll leave the graphical interpretation up to the artists, as the typical “U” crossed off with a red circular “No” sign would also need replacing. So, a sign with a dog (or your ex-girlfriend) in black, with a red circle-with-slash over it, above the text “No Bitches” would grace our beloved intersections. But, now, what happens to those unfortunate souls who have never heard the term? I’m sure they exist… just ask your grandparents or one of your older tenured professors.

According to a Q&A website I came upon while Googling “flip-a-bitch,” the creative word concoction is generally heard only in California and Boston. However, other variations do exist: “hang a Ulysses,” “hang a U-ie,” and “whip a U-ie,” just to name a few. Of course, we in California are always the best. But think of the possibilities: “hang a bitch.” Now wouldn’t that be something… what better way to release some anger than hanging a bitch? All we have to do now is lobby the state to convert the signs and teach some classes informing the uninformed of the changes. Any volunteers?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Multiple Midterms?

Before arriving to this sun-drenched intellectual oasis we refer to as the University of California, Santa Barbara, I served time—two whole years of it—at a community college three minutes away from the suburban dwelling of my parents. Some of us called it “Harvard on the Hill,” while others have memories of “MIT.” To clarify the relevancy of those titles, the college I refer to is Moorpark College, which just so happens to be located on a hillside.

I was new to this world of college. Fresh out of the land called high school, I had no clue what to expect. Sure, there were rumors that girls can wear skimpier clothing, the campus provides ashtrays for those chained down by the laws of cigarettes, and coffee is widely available for a minimal cost. But, as for the classes (oh, yeah, I almost forgot about those), I had heard stories of grueling, torturous, barbaric exams, and I had an older sister at UCLA to confirm the legends. Grades will no longer be composed of 10 to 20 exams, homework, extra credit, oral presentations, food brought into class, and attendance. Instead, most professors will choose the fate of their students’ lives by grading only two exams: one midterm and one final. Once in a while, there will be one or two more exams, and perhaps some quizzes. For the sake of the argument to be presented, let’s look deeper into the meaning of the word “midterm.”

Citing the New Oxford American Dictionary, 2nd Edition, a midterm is “the middle of a period of office, an academic term, or a pregnancy;” more specifically, “an exam in the middle of an academic term.” Now, to sound as though I’m writing an academic paper, allow me to point out the obvious use of the word “middle” in those definitions. “Middle” is a crucial part of the word “midterm,” as the first half of “midterm” is derived from “middle.” Whoa. Common Sense tells me (yes, he’s sitting on my shoulder right now) that any graduate of middle school can figure that one out. Perhaps, here at a prestigious university, I shouldn’t make such assumptions.

That tangent aside, here I am at UCSB, a top-ranked educational institution with an amazing reputation (yes, in more than one way, I know). We have numerous Nobel Prize-winning professors at this fine establishment. However, did a large handful of our acclaimed faculty miss out on basic English class in the seventh grade? I, along with many of you readers, I’m sure, have had one too many classes here with two, or, dare I say, even three midterms. Oh, okay, sure, give us three midterms in the middle of the term. But no! Instead, we have three evenly spaced out exams, and a final.

At my community college, where 60 percent of the students go on to, well, nothing, professors who likely do not even have PhDs and range in age from 22 to 104 can distinguish a “midterm” from an “exam.” A class generally has “Exam 1,” “Exam 2,” “Exam 3,” and a final. Sure, no problem. But UCSB professors have some strange notion in mind that we students cannot handle “exams.” As a result, we now have “Midterm 1,” “Midterm 2,” “Midterm 3,” and the final, still spaced an even two to three weeks apart for our test-taking and Scantron-purchasing convenience. Why, in the name of whomever you believe in, must our PhD-possessing faculty insist on using the utterance “midterm” for an exam that does not fall in the MIDDLE of the quarter?

Well, thankfully I have yet to take a class with multiple finals (but I hold no doubt that a professor somewhere—anywhere—offers a class with “Final 1” and “Final 2”).

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Words of Wisdom

What I said during an AIM conversation I had tonight (as an explanation for the previous post):
"i couldn't think of much to write, but i wanted to include the robot baby picture"

"i hate blogs that say 'today i did this and broke up with my girlfriend and ate at taco bell'"

"and 'my life sucks... i'm using the internet to generate pity and sympathy from those i do not know'"

Edit: I later discovered this on a friend's Facebook profile:
"my life sucks... i'm using the internet to generate pity and sympathy from those i do not know"~David completely out of context, which makes it better.

Robot Babies

Before proceeding to read this post, please be informed (yes, this is my disclaimer) that the following entry does not, after this paragraph, mention or have anything at all to do with robot babies. And yes, that is a robot baby to the left (a very sad, troubled one, not the cute kind).

Today was the second day of the new Winter quarter of 2006 here at UCSB. Also, today was very well the most nonstop day of my life. Between the times of 9 AM and 6:15 PM, I had a whole of ten minutes of a break from work, then class, then work, and then class again. Yes, I am glad the day is over, and I am also ecstatic that my five hour shift at the UCSB Bookstore has come to an end.

As of the new year, my dwelling of seven male UCSB students has gained a new and welcome member: TiVo. That's right; we no longer have to fight over watching The O.C., The Apprentice, or that awful new Fox show Reunion, which will hopefully be cancelled soon anyways. Instead, we now schedule what the TiVo character labels as "season passes" for our favorite shows. Now the only problem we have is conflicting shows to record... come on TiVo, can't you solve all of our TV woes?

With the TiVo and my now free nights and weekends (due to me no longer working at an off-campus establishment such as Borders or Starbucks), I can choose to read my many books at night for class, or... TiVo! Yes, I can watch numerous recorded episodes of Seinfeld, The Family Guy, or any other shows I choose. Oh yeah... my roommate also received the first season of Arrested Development on DVD, which I can truthfully describe as "witty, eclectic, and original." I consider all of this television watching entertaining, but also a decline in my life, as last year I did not even have a television in my dorm. Why do people claim television is so bad anyways?

Update 1/11/06: I have heard some good news: The show mentioned earlier in this post, Reunion, has actually been cancelled. A wish come true!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Round Two of the Stinky Housemate

I'll say it quickly... my housemate now works at Woodstock's. Excellent! He brings home pizza!

Well, he chose to put mushrooms on that pizza. (Note: see previous post about mushrooms and housemate.)

The End of the World

So, if you have not yet heard, unusually large and powerful waves are invading the usually-peaceful coastline of Southern California. From San Diego County, through Los Angeles and Ventura, and up to Santa Barbara County, the beaches are being flooded with waves reaching over ten feet, a height previously unknown to the surfers and sun tanners of SoCal. Following unusually large and destructive hurricanes (such as Katrina), and massive earthquakes in the Middle East, could this be the end of the world?

Well, probably not.

However, I hope George W. Bush receives this all in a different light. Despite not really helping much at all, our infamous President claims to be a "good Christian." So obviously he believes in God....

We all know that Bush murders and tortures innocent people, perhaps indirectly. Now he must face not only his own results, but nature's fury against him as well. In his own eyes, is God punishing him? Does he have enough of a conscious to even think of that possibility? If not, then he is not a good Christian. (Of course, either way, he is just not a good person, let alone a good Christian.)

Our President aside, this weather does have me wondering. I unfortunately sat through the film The Day After Tomorrow whenever it was it came out into theaters, but luckily I did not pay a cent for it. The film is science fiction for the most part, with a little bit of political commentary. What happens in the movie can never actually happen, right? Well, that is what they said in the film....

What is happening this year seems closer to that movie than anything the United States or Planet Earth has ever faced. Louisiana has never been flooded to the extent Katrina caused, and the Middle East does not deal with earthquakes as frequently as California. Furthermore, these waves we're dealing with on the SoCal coast... the news says they will only be getting bigger. Bye bye, PCH!

I admit, I have not researched into this, but I can only assume these natural disasters are the results of global warming. Or maybe it's the El Niño!

Oh, wait, that's only on the west coast.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Status by Numbers

Upon signing on to MySpace today (can one day go by without it?), my "profile views" counter displayed the beautiful number "1,200." Sadly, that almost makes me feel good in a way. My internet presence and reputation has jumped up to an even number higher than 1,000. What does that really mean? Unforunately, nothing.

If only Facebook had a counter....