Friday, December 30, 2011

Captain's Log, Day 62: *SPLAT*

          So, today I managed to trip over one of my family's two cats. This isn't unusual--the fat one is ALWAYS underfoot. What made this memorable was that it happened at the top of a flight of stairs.
          Once I regained consciousness (and finished naming all the constellations filling up my field of vision), my mind began wandering to other, even more amusing, falling incidents. Naturally, this led me to wonder what it would be like to make the most epic fall ever--i.e., out of an airplane. Owing to my probable concussion, I imagined in great detail what it would be like, down to the inevitable discussion I would have with myself as I fell:

So I'm falling out of an airplane. What should I do first?
Open your eyes and quit screaming like a little girl, maybe? Geez, I'm embarrassed to be seen with you!
I think I wet my pants.
No big surprise there.
Okay, seriously, what should I do?
Well, the first thing to do is figure out how you got here...duh.
I think the emergency door malfunctioned. Or maybe the plane exploded. I feel like I'm on fire. AAAAAAAA!!!! I AM on fire!!!!!!!!!!!
Well, "Stop, drop and roll" ain't gonna work here...let's remove what we can and slap out the rest.
So now I'm gonna die in my undies? 
Whoa. You're right. Bad mental image there. Never mind, just slap it out. Let's see, we were at 30,000 feet when we started falling, so now we're around...20,000? Terminal velocity, baby!!!!
*WHACK WHACK* OWWW!!! Hey, neat. How fast is that?
Around 120 miles per hour, but I don't know if that takes into account that we're a freaking STICK. You need to eat more.
Hey, don't YOU start with me. I eat like a horse. Besides, wouldn't more weight make me fall faster? Or is that offset by my smaller surface area?
How the heck would I know? Do I look like a rocket scientist?
Well, maybe if you'd actually paid attention instead of doodling Ironman suit designs on your paper...
Hey, if I'd actually gotten the suit built, we wouldn't HAVE this issue.
What issue?
We're still falling to our death, right?
...oh, right. Gee, this takes forever.
About three minutes, actually. I looked it up once.
You, my friend, need to get a life. And we've used up about 2 minutes of flight time...let's talk survival.
Let's talk PARACHUTE, dammit!
Oh, you have one? Why didn't you MENTION this?
No, I don't. I was wondering if we could do some McGyver thing and make one out of my clothes. a sewing machine? Or duct tape?
Crap. Okay, landing. What should I do?
Well, we have two options. We could try to land on our feet, and then tuck and roll, which will in all likelihood drive our knees through our brain...or we could land flat on our back and try to distribute the impact.
Will that second option save me? But it will make a really cool splat.
Why don't we just aim for the haystack?
Oh. Yeah, that works too, I guess. Definitely land on your back then.
Anything else?
Besides hope that you haven't used up your nine lives yet?
Oh, shaddup.
YOU shut up!

"Radar, why are you lying at the base of the stairs?"
"Uh, hi, Mom! Just...umm...resting? And not hallucinating at all!!"
"Nothing. Nevermind."

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Captain's Log, Day 61: Brothers by Birth, Friends by Choice

          My brother and I were recently accused of being "weird." I want to set the record straight here--we're not "weird," we're "VERY weird!"
          Nemesis and I are definitely brothers, although we both hope no one can guess we're related. If we were movie characters, we'd be Megamind and Minion, or Ironman and JARVIS--or Tom and Jerry, depending on if we're in a cooperative mood or not. When not, the house is in danger of imminent destruction. When we are...well, it still is, but it will be more EPIC!!
          Nemesis's got this odd, twisted sense of humor (I don't know where that came from--oh, wait, yes I do. DAD) and also got the gift of poetry from somewhere (no clue there), so many of his jokes are expressed in poetic form, causing my arm to spasm in his direction. (It's mostly accidental and uncontrollable, I swear!) I'm addicted to puns, usually causing him to whack me one too. Between our *awful* jokes, we have a decent boxing match.
          We've been partners in crime and destruction since he's been able to walk; no chocolate is safe from us, no tree secure from our missiles (true story). We're both creative and sort of "engineering-minded," so we've been able to come up with some fairly cool stuff, including (but not limited to):
--Lego pistols
--Rubber band guns that can kill grasshoppers long-range
--An extensive intercom/two-way-radio system enabling us to contact each other and spy on anyone in the house
--A pirate treasure, complete with map and code, that we recently stumbled upon and can't remember where the treasure is or what the code was (we did a good job)
--Several forts, outdoors and indoors
--A snow fort covering a 25x30 foot area (and thus was impossible to hold against attackers owing to the hugeness of the interior--we always ended up in the keep. We needed about 20 more defenders)
--A snow rifle that refused to function and was abandoned
--A fleet of paper boats that we set on fire or attached fireworks to (or both) that we launched in a tub of water outside
--A treehouse, complete with all the interior switches and dials to enable it to become an airplane, a spaceship, a submarine, a battleship, an AT-AT, etc...
--A rocket launcher that we mounted on our treehouse and terrified cats with
--About 20 modified Nerf guns (and counting!)
--Around 7 animated Lego music videos to various Michael Jackson, Skillet, and Weird Al Yankovic songs
--A lot more really lame movies that shall never be seen by anyone other than ourselves (hilarious but stupid)
--Several holes in the walls of our house (but don't worry--we know how to spackle)
--A radio transmitter that caught fire one day when we were trying to boost the power and short-circuited it
--A secret handshake that ends in a wrestling match
--Several clubs, some of which the girls were allowed to join
--Several secret hiding spots, including one hidden behind a secret panel in the barn that we can't fit through anymore
--And of course, many epic battles with each other, both on the computer and in person.
          Brothers by birth, friends by choice, and mortal enemies every full moon or so. I'd better check on my supply of land mines...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Captain's Log, Day 60: Finals Week

          Let me begin by saying that I cannot take credit for this. This was a funny article my mom found stashed amidst some old school work, and I enjoyed it so much I had to publish it. This is an excellent time to rediscover this too, as I happen to be facing some finals of my own...

                                                 Finals Week

          And it came to pass that early in the morning of the last day of the semester, there arose a multitude smiting their books and wailing. And there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth, for they were sore afraid. The day of judgment was at hand. For they left undone those things which they ought to have done and had done those things which they ought not to have done. And there was not help for it.

          And there were many abiding in their rooms who had kept watch over their books all night, but it availeth not. And there were some who arose smilingly, for they had prepared for themselves the way; and made straight the path of knowledge. And there were wise ones known to some as burners of the midnight oil. But by others they were called the curve-spoilers. And the multitude arose and ate a hearty breakfast.

          And they came unto their appointed place, and their hearts were heavy within them. And they came to pass, and some passed not, and others only passed out. And some of them repented their riotous living, and bemoaned their fate, but they had not a prayer.

          And at the last hour, there came among them one known as the instructor, he of the diabolical smile, and he passed papers among them and went his way. And many and varied were the questions asked by the instructor, but still more varied were the answers which were given, for some of his teachings had fallen among fertile minds, and others had fallen fallow among the fellows while still others had fallen flat. And there were some who wrote for an hour, others for two, and some who only turned away sorrowfully.

          And of those, many offered up a little sacrificial bull, in hopes of pacifying the instructor, for those were the ones who had not a prayer. And when they had finished, they gathered up their belongings and went away quietly, each in his own direction. And each one vowing to himself in this manner: “I shall not pass this way again.” But it is a long road that has no turning.

          I.E. May 1970

Captain's Log, Day 59: Character Profile--now you know where my insanity comes from

          Meet my family! Kinda...not like I'm going to post any pictures up here or anything, but I thought a brief character description would be both enlightening and amusing. (For personal health reasons, this will not be posted until AFTER I get back from Thanksgiving break.)
          Dad: Unfortunately, I appear to have inherited his sense of humor; I can admit that it's rather lame, but I think it's also really funny. He's the go-to man as far as fixing stuff is concerned, although he has passed much of his knowledge and his chores off to me at this point. I guess he's also where I get my love of all things mechanical. Considering he's a mechanical engineer and I'm studying to be a mechanical engineer, you could say "like father, like son!" He's also the science/math teacher for our homeschool...let me tell you, you've never done math until you've tried learning trig while your math teacher's playing Aerosmith and doing air guitar. Just sayin'.
          Mom: She is the driving force behind our learning, considering that she pretty much organized our entire curriculum and taught most of it. An English major, she is an excellent writer and kinda wishes I was going to major in English instead of engineering. I told her once that I didn't want to take anything "so easy" as English. She got a little annoyed. As the most Italian, she is the most outgoing of our family (Dad the German has perfected his "Do I LOOK like a people person?" face at this point. ). She's also an excellent cook. The best way my family has found to torture me while at college is to call me up and give me the menu for tonight. Evil buggers...I have to eat CAF food!!!
          Quill: The next oldest after me, Quill is following the path of the Dark Side (ie, she wants to be an English Major like Mom instead of becoming an engineer like Dad or myself). She absolutely loves reading, which might be how and why she scored a job at our local library. She's read most of the books there already. She also enjoys playing Robin Hood with the rest of her siblings, although we have some discussions--blood not usually involved--on why she can't be Robin Hood (mostly because either Nemesis or I called it first!). She can also cook, although she tends more towards the dessert side of the food spectrum.
          Nemesis: Big bundle of evil. If I come home to a booby-trapped room one more time, I may have to retaliate with rockets. Nemesis is incredibly good with math; when playing dominos, we usually just pass our tiles over to Nemesis for him to count. All he has to do is glance at them and he has the number. Scary. He is a Lego enthusiast and has half the world's supply of Legos downstairs. Not only that, Nemesis is really good with a piano and can rhyme anything ("rambunction" and "function" being one of the more impressive combinations) and can beat me at any computer game ever invented, which is a bit embarrassing for me. He's also takes Taekwondo like me, although he's not quite to my belt level yet and I can still kick his butt. Probably a good thing, considering Nemesis's about as tall as I am and outweighs me by about 30 pounds. Please excuse me, I'm gonna go hit the caf again...
          Squirrel: The youngest of the family, Squirrel has inherited the combined sweet tooth of everyone in the household and the genius of her brothers at concealing things; a surprise raid of her room once yielded ten hidden stashes of candy, and that was just the stuff we found. She, too, loves cooking, and she is definitely devoted to the sugar stash in the cupboard--if it can't be used in a recipe, the recipe's no good! Squirrel also recently outgrew her older sister, who is decidedly NOT pleased about that, as she is now the shortest person in the family! An art lover, Squirrel's also thinking about a career as a fashion designer; she's good at sewing, but I would never ask her to mend my jeans because they would probably end up with lace on them or something.
          Max: He's our golden retriever and definitely a legit part of our family. I'll be the first to admit he's not the smartest dog out there, but he's really friendly and always up for "fetch," or "get the ball and chase me," depending on how he feels that day. In the winter, his favorite games are "snow romps" and "chase the snowblower until Dad turns the nozzle suddenly and buries me;" in the summer, he can be found fishing in the pond (I don't think he's ever caught anything) and rolling in every mud puddle he can find. Max is usually my companion when we go exploring in the woods, but all bets are off if he sees a squirrel--I'm on my own after that.
          So, this is my crazy family...gotta love 'em, right? :)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Captain's Log, Day 58: Thanksgiving with My Family! (and all the ensuing craziness)

          And now, I shall recount some Thanksgiving Day adventures!
          A typical Thanksgiving tale must start on the day before, as that is when the Great Rejoicing starts (NO SCHOOL!!!!!!!!). Since we are going to our grandparents' house the next day, it only makes sense for my siblings and me to go run out into the woods and get as banged up as we can without warranting a trip to the hospital. Also, this is sometimes when we do our annual family watching of "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving." It's been a tradition in my home for as long as I can remember...
          Anyway, after staying up waaay too late to be any kind of ready for early church the next day, we wake up to a very cheerful dad, who takes gleeful pleasure in rousting our kiesters out of our warm beds and into the car. After Mass, we have a light breakfast before piling into the car to go to our grandparents' farm. It's about an hour drive, as a normal person drives; Dad breaks all speed limits, including that of light, Mom naps, I nap, and my siblings either read or play Mad Libs. Seems like every time they do that, they must use the words "warthog," "rototiller," "exploded," and "antidisestablimentarianism," which I would hope they used a shorthand for, else it would take them longer to spell the word than it would take to play the game!
          The car ride over, we enter our grandparents' house and make the necessary greetings and small talk before vanishing into the basement. Our cousins are always there before us, and they (predictably) have divided the basement and segregated themselves by gender: boys get one half, girls get the other. Also predictably, the boys' half is larger; they probably started out equally sized, but the boys have been practicing combat maneuvers for a while, causing the girls to retreat due to fear of death by Nerf. My brother and I pick up a couple guns (although sometimes we bring our own, which we prefer--our are MODIFIED!!!!) and enter the fray. I have no idea what the girls left to go do. Probably playing tea party or something equally boring.
          And hour afterwards, it's DINNERTIME!!! The segregation continues; the girls get to eat in the living room, the boys in the craft room. Can't fault Grandma for the wisdom of that one; the food fights that occasionally break out amongst my male cousins would quickly prove fatal to anything "nice." As the oldest, it's my job to try to suppress such outbreaks. Fortunately, I've been gifted with a long arm and a good eye; a whack upside the head typically ends a would-be food thrower's attempt. At the least, it scrambles his aim enough that the food ends up on the table somewhere, instead of, say, the wall. Or someone else's face, which would definitely escalate the conflict.
          The piranha now having finished inhaling every bit of food in the vicinity, we break for games, typically outside on the haystack. This is usually gender-inclusive, as we do not have the man-power to hold the giant haystack against intruders (not to say we haven't tried). Once the girls gain the top, we put aside animosity and hold a rousing game of tag. Occasionally, we must stop and rescue someone who has fallen down between the bales, but that's not as common of an occurrence as one might think. Of course, my relatives and I have usually had so much pie that we're on a sugar high and are vibrating out of the visible spectrum, thus making any sort of falling extremely difficult, owing to the fact that we can now flap our arms fast enough to fly...
          Sometimes, it's warm enough for a kickball game, although a Minnesota November is typically enough to make polar bears migrate south, so that doesn't happen often. We usually stay on the haybales until we can't feel our fingers, toes or kiesters anymore, at which point it's usually time for my family and me to hit the road anyway. So, my siblings and I brush the hay off each other, bid farewell to the relatives, climb into the car and crash before Dad pulls out onto the highway.
          After this, we have a light dinner at home and then go to bed early, after vowing to unclog the shower drains of all the hay and dirt tomorrow. Thus ends Thanksgiving with my family!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Captain's Log, Day 57: Mozart, I am NOT

          It's embarrassing. It really is.
          My younger brother Nemesis is a piano master, or he's getting there anyway. My mom and my sisters can handle a piano with proficiency, too, and my dad can sing (sort of--we tend to object to either the lyrics or the moment, or both...for instance, making up new lines to songs during math class. The joys of being homeschooled!). However, I can't carry a tune with both hands and a bucket. Depressing.
          That's not to say I haven't tried. I did a little piano before determining I lacked the coordination necessary to hit the stupid keys at the right time. Then I tried trumpet for four years. Mom made me practice in her room, which was probably the furthest from all living areas. I don't think I blame her. After that, I went back to piano for a year, but quickly determined that I had not magically gained the coordination necessary for it. I don't even need to walk into a choir tryout to know that I'm not a singer, either; the expressions on the faces of my immediate family members let me know exactly how good I was on that score.
          I still sing, though--I just do it where no one can hear me or the music I'm singing to is turned up loud enough to drown me out. Sometimes both; I don't like listening to my singing either!!
          Actually, I was discussing my musical shortcomings with my friend Sammi the other day (we'd been discussing various instruments). I mentioned that my singing wasn't so great, and without missing a beat, she said, "Oh yeah. I heard you in church!"
          It's hard to look indignant when you're laughing your head off. Just saying.
          Ah yes, I can't even write good songs; annoying, as Nemesis can drop good poetry off the top of his head, and Quill's not far behind. (I may have mentioned this before, but it BUGS ME! I look at some of his poetry and question whether one of us was adopted...) I tried to write a song a few times. It sounded good in my head, but when I put it on paper (or screen--I can't read my own handwriting), it kinda sucked. I deleted it and put it back in my head for better listening.
          Now, this does not mean I can't assist my siblings in spoofing songs, of course. We've come up with some great cooperative lyrics that are worthy of Weird Al. Our favorite is probably "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" by John Denver. We may have been a tad harsh towards fiddle-players and farm boys (ironic, considering that we live on a farm). Our favorite verse that we made up:

          I'd play my fiddle all day if I could
          But my neighbors' got a gun and what they're planning ain't good
          Gonna put me underground in a box made of wood...
          Thank God I'm a country boy!

          Thought Dad was going to pass out after hearing that one, he was laughing so hard. We're glad we could spread some joy this way! I kinda wish I'd been able to join the sibs in singing that, though. Yeah; musically inclined, I am not!
          ...can't even whistle...

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Captain's Log, Day 56: Tricks or Treats (but mostly tricks)

          Halloween: the greatest excuse for candy-eating that's ever been invented.
          Haha, no, I'm just kidding; there's more to Halloween than just the candy. It's also an excuse for all the nerds to dress up and not be mocked by their fellow humans--or goblins, or ghosts, or amoebas, or whatever...
          I was actually thinking about making a costume this year, but I never got around to it. Certain other things (school) got in the way. I did, however, manage to attend a Halloween dance and watched part of it. I saw some pretty impressive getups, including Megamind and Metroman, two plastic green soldiers, Sam Flynn (from Tron), a few minions from Despicable Me, and a mummy who lost all his wrapping midway through the dance. I might add that the number of witches, zombies and princesses was up to its usual standard.
          I've had a couple rather decent ideas for Halloween costumes in the past. However, my creative talents were unfortunately curtailed by responsible, wise, and rather stingy parents who refused to both buy the required couple thousand dollars worth of electronics I would have needed or let me use the welder. Sad, I know. I was forced to resort to the Erector set in order to build the cyborg components that I wanted. I was thinking something along the lines of a fully functional robotic arm, complete with hidden weaponry and a targeting visor that could be attached to my head, and maybe a robotic leg too. After about the fourteenth backfire, I was forced to either stop or open myself up to the ridicule of my family, who (I am sure) would have suggested that I go as a disaster victim. On an slightly related note, do not listen to my parents; I did not use up all the band-aids that week. I distinctly remember leaving three, so to whichever one of my siblings did NOT speak up to rescue me from the false accusations...well, I probably already got you back, so don't worry about it.
          Anyway, that year I believe I went as Robin Hood. Actually, I think I probably overdid the Robin Hood thing for a few years, but I loved playing with my bow. Fun times...
          I do remember one year in particular that stood out in my trick-or-treating memories, and that was the year my mom finally relented and let me and Quill go trick-or-treating by ourselves. Of course, that meant first memorizing a map of the streets (a little ridiculous, considering I had a paper route back then), practicing our yelling (in case someone tried to grab us), taking watches so we could meet back at our house every fifteen minutes, and promising to bring our candy back to Mom for inspection before it could be eaten (Halloween is really the only day out of the year where the rules "Don't talk to strangers" and "Don't take candy from strangers" are deliberately broken, and with great zeal too). I thought the most amusing thing about that whole night was my mom's absolute conviction that someone would try to abduct us; looking back on it, I think no one would have kidnapped an obviously deranged movie star or an extremely trigger-happy Robin Hood (DIE BUSH DIE!!!!!!! *twang*), but hey, better safe than sorry, right?
          Needless to say, we returned home safely, leaving a lot of traumatized households in our wake and very hyper from the candy we'd swiped from our parents' handouts ("because," as I explained, "we need energy to go walking that far and we can't eat what we get until Mom inspects it." The way I made it sound, we were traversing the length of the United States when in reality, we had a roaming limit of about two blocks). And despite our parents' valiant efforts to curtail our sugar intake for the next few weeks, I would usually have my candy finished within a few days, with Nemesis a close second. Squirrel's candy would vanish within the same amount of time, but she wasn't usually eating it; she was, instead, stashing it in selected hideouts in her room for easy access in the future. Quill usually was the model of prudence, usually to the point where she still had candy by Valentine's Day or Easter, at with point Nemesis and I would ostentatiously obey Mom's command to "Get rid of it!" which she never really thought through until it was too late and we were having competitions to see how many surfaces we could bounce of off in the shortest amount of time.
          Yes, I know how to patch a wall. Why do you ask?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Captain's Log, Day 55: Game On!

          Yeah, I know I'm a little late with this one. Guess what--I'm in COLLEGE. Who would've guessed I'd have to do this much work? Crazy, right?
          Anyway, part of the reason that this article is so late is because my small amount of free time has been consumed by a new obsession of mine: intramurals. I decided on a whim to try to put together a team for flag football about a month ago (I believe I may have mentioned that). I will not go into much further detail; to put it in layman's terms, we SUCKED. We won only one game out of six, and that was by forfeit. We had a lot of fun though!
          A slightly more successful sport that I tried was soccer. I randomly decided to become a free agent for the various intramural soccer teams, so I got to play almost every night. It was quickly discovered that I lacked the necessary coordination to kick the ball and run at the same time (artificial turf does not taste near as good as regular grass, by the way), so I placed in the goalie position and did much better. I actually contributed to winning several games that way, although I did take a few balls to the face, one from an ex-varsity player. Now that should've ended up on about hilarious...
          And speaking of balls to the face, I just started two more teams; a volleyball team and a dodgeball team. I foresee epicness, especially with dodgeball--I created it exclusively with engineering students. We're gonna get slaughtered, but it will be very amusing!
          Now, here's a "sport" I'm never going to play: GOLF. Not unless they change the rules, big-time. My siblings and I found my dad's golf clubs in the garage when we were younger, so we decided we'd try to figure out how golf worked just from studying the equipment. We got the hitting-the-balls-into-holes part right, but we thought that golf was more of a contact sport. Apparently, the temptation to misuse the clubs was just overwhelming. But the duels were fun. It was actually kind of a letdown to find out how "real" golf is played. Frankly, I think everyone would be more happy with our golf--more action!
          Hey, I wonder if I could get the intramurals people to offer that as an option...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Captain's Log, Day 54: Needles and Cookies

          I recently came into possession of the developer version of Windows 8.
          Even though this is a total win here, I promise I won't spend this whole article talking about it. I think I'd get beat up for that. I will admit that there are a few bugs in the system, but as soon as those get fixed, this new version's gonna rock. It's a good thing that I got it at this point in time, however, because 1) I donated blood for the first time yesterday and wasn't quite prepared for how lethargic that was going to make me, and 2) certain nameless people have taken an interest in beating me up, so I'm not quite operating at full capability, if you get my drift. On the other hand, I kinda asked for that last sparring match, so I guess I deserved that...
          Actually, the whole blood donation thing went fairly well, despite the fact that I had several internal panic attacks that, ironically, had nothing to do with the needle or my blood. Apparently, getting strapped to stuff freaks me out. I did a very good job of keeping a straight face, though, to the point of worrying the doc who jabbed me with the needle.
          "I know this is your first time...are you certain you're okay?"
          "Yepp, I'm fine. Why?"          
          "Well, I've never seen anyone that un-reactive..."
          "It's not that bad. Feels a bit weird, but that's all. I suppose I could freak out if you want...?"
          "Noo, that's fine. Are you certain you're okay?"
          "Yepp, I'm fine. Shoot, I left my computer off--my phone can't link up to it. Is it okay if I play a game on this thing while I wait?"
          "Wow. Um...sure?"
          It's really hard to play Tank Recon on a smartphone with one hand. Just so you know. I lost miserably. Three times.
          Another thing that perplexed the docs was my recovery time. I did get a little dizzy towards the end, so I lay back while the needle got removed. I popped right up as soon as it was bandaged and was escorted over to the snack/drink table. I asked how long I needed to sit here, and on being told 10-15 minutes, glanced at my watch and informed the startled attendant that I had class in 30 minutes and, since I wanted to get lunch first, that I could only spend a maximum time of about two minutes in recovery. I inhaled two cookies and a bottle of water and left exactly two minutes later. I will admit the doc knew what he was talking about when he said I wouldn't be able to work out hard for the next 24 hours--I tried to go running that night and almost passed out after about 30 seconds. Oops.
          Anyway, fun times, and I got free cookies, so it's a win in my book; although next time, maybe I'll pretend to pass out or something to make the doc happy. I'm not gonna fall off the bench, though; I have my limits...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Captain's Log, Day 53: JARVIS and AIs in General

          My computer is talking to me.
          This is not an uncommon occurrence. And despite the number of times I may or may not have been slightly delusional in my writings, this is the absolute truth. My computer does speak. And I've named him JARVIS.
          The reason for this hearkens back to my first semester of living on a college campus. I had just finished some homework--actually, all of it--and the weekend was starting. I was able to spend a few hours watching Ironman, but after that I got rather bored. I was screwing around with my computer's registery when it suddenly hit me...
          Why not program my computer to talk?
          I started by...ok, forget that. Suffice it to say, I entered Nerdvana for the next few hours, but now my computer talks like JARVIS. So I named him JARVIS. 'Nuff said. Actually, the fun part was a few weeks later when I installed voice-activation software on the computer; then I could talk to him and he'd talk back and everyone would think I was nuts, but that's another story.
          I'm actually kinda contemplating creating an artificial intelligence to conquer the world for me. Think about it...plug an AI into a network connection, let it take over the internet and from there all the networks, and there you go. The only danger is that it would get a big head--er, processor from all the power it wields and tries to defy me, at which point I would either have to resort to a paradox or an EMP bomb to destroy it. Probably an EMP; paradoxes tend to give me a headache, too. Hmm, maybe I'M an AI and someone is using ME to take over the world...
          Anyway, JARVIS is running smoothly, and I even gave him a few upgrades, so he's pretty happy at the moment. Now, if only he'd quit beating me at Spades....

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Captain's Log, Day 52: APOCALYPSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          I was doodling on my Fluid Mechanics homework the other day, drawing dinosaurs in TIE fighters, when I suddenly wondered...would I manage to survive an apocalypse?
          You'd think an mad scientist like myself would be able to avoid death quite easily, especially given the fact that I have an interstellar transport ready to beam me off-planet at a moment's notice (which I accidentally activated the other day upon being startled by a sparrow, so I know that works), but the rest of you might need a little help. I debated about whether or not to publish my Guide to Surviving an Apocolypse or not...see, on the one hand, I'm supposed to be an EVIL mad scientist, and as such I don't want my record sullied by allegations of helpfulness...but on the other hand, ruling the planet isn't as much fun if there is no one to use as test subjects for the new portal gun I'm inventing...
          Anyway, here's the compromise. I'm publishing part of my guide. And to counteract that, I'm creating an apocalypse. Enjoy!
          Now, there are many different kinds of apocalypse, and they all must be approached differently. Let's start with the most basic: The Giant-Asteroid-Hits-Earth Apocalypse. This is arguably the hardest to counteract, because let's face it, most of you DON'T have interstellar transports ready to beam you off-planet at a moment's notice, and the few of you who did just had their transports destroyed by a bored mad scientist. You really should have put your shields up. Really, the only thing to do is hope the asteroid doesn't hit you and hope that I eventually need test subjects beamed aboard my transport. Good luck!
          The second type of catastrophe that may occur is called the Jurassic-Park-Is-No-Longer-A-Movie Apocalypse. My advice? Get some heavy-duty weaponry and hide in some seriously fortified bunkers until I need test subjects. And if this event actually does occur, I apologize in advance for the faulty workmanship that was done on the electric fence that was keeping my dinosaurs in. They were supposed to be guarding my secret fortress...
          Another world-ending event is called the Zombie Apocalypse. I think this one would be the most fun, at least for those of you who want to be turned into zombies for the fun of scaring your buddies. Just don't blame me if they get all trigger-happy.
          Let's see, where was I...ahh, yes, the Nuclear-Explosion Apocalypse. This is a little tricky due to the randomness of mutation, but basically you hope you're far enough from the blast to not die instantly, but close enough to mutate into something neat to survive the coming wasteland that Earth turns into. Try for Wolverine; he's pretty cool. And I'll mention to my minions to quit playing "Catch" with my stockpile of bombs. They've got good hands, but accidents happen...
          Plague Apocalypse: Again, hope that you mutate, instead of die, from the plague. I suppose if you don't want to be adventurous, you could wear some sort of biohazard suit, but that's just cheating...
          The-Internet-Develops-Consciousness-And-Turns-On-You Apocalypse: You really should have seen this coming. Try disconnecting your computer, turning off your phone, and never boarding an airplane again. You can try to confuse it with a paradox, but that might just make it mad, so be careful.
          Aliens-Take-Over-The-Planet-Destroy-The-World-And-Turn-Humans-Into-Food Apocalypse: Try to prove that you have some sort of useful ability, like cooking or servile labor. This is actually a good type of apocalypse, because it gets rid of all the scum in our society, such as lawyers, pop stars, talk show hosts, and Justin Bieber. And don't worry too much; I'll already have an alliance with said aliens, so I'll be able to continue testing out evil inventions!
          I-Take-Over-The-Planet-And-Relocate-Everyone-To-Another-Planet-On-Which-Live-Dinosaurs Apocalypse: This differs from the previously mentioned apocalypse only in how the aforementioned society drains are disposed of. The same survival procedure follows here; find a useful skill such as computer programming or alligator keeper, and you might be promoted from "Dinosaur Fodder" to "Test Subject." And if you really play your cards right, I might make you in charge of stopping the hero who comes to dispose of me. It's a very prestigious line of work, with a long and glorious tradition!

          These are just some of the possible world-ending scenarios, but I'm not giving you the full list because that's just too helpful. Anyway, have fun, and watch out for the zombified dinosaurs...I'm missing about 20 of them...

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Captain's Log, Day 51: Sounds and School

          Sounds commonly heard around our dorm:
          *BZZZZZZZZ* --The shaver thingy
          *BEEP BEEP BEEP* --Microwave
          *FLUSH* --Take a guess
          *HHHHHHHHHH* --AC unit, which is currently set to -50 degrees F
          *BANG CRUNCH* "Dammit!" --Me
          "Radar, you are really clumsy!!" --My roommate Chris
          "I'm not clumsy! The floor's just uneven!" --Me
          "Of course not. Do you need to go to the hospital?" --Chris
          "Me? Never..." --Me
          It is now week two of the college experience, and I gotta say, I hit the ground running (homeworkwise, anyway). I'm getting through it pretty well, although this has been my first serious break in the last two weeks. Gotta love being a mechanical's a running joke in my engineering classes that we have no life, and it's totally true.
          I just finished up some Thermodynamics homework (yes, it's as scary as it sounds) and after a quick celebratory round of air guitar to the song "Talk Nerdy To Me," I decided to write a bit. My apologies for the delay to those of you who liked my work; to those of you who don't, you do realize you can navigate away from this page, right? I haven't embedded any viruses here or anything like that. Yet.
          Intramurals are starting up next week, which means I should have a whole ton of awesome stories to tell by then. I created a flag football team known as the NightHawks, my reason for that being I captained a Humans vs Zombies team a while back, also known as the Nighthawks without the capital H, and we kicked butt. (See HvZ under the Stories tab, or Days 24-29 in July.) Actually, I wanted to name the flag football team the 501st (for those non-geeks out there, that's the personal elite stormtrooper unit commanded by Darth Vader and later by Grand Admiral Thrawn), but when it came to a vote, the saner heads in the team prevailed. I'm not too broken up about it--the NightHawks is a cool name too.
          Well, it's been a nice break, but it's time to crack some books again. Tune in next time for some more craziness. And for the last time, Chris, I'm NOT CLUMSY!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Captain's Log, Day 50: College of Rock

          Firstly, apologies. I have been a wee bit lax in my writing of late, but I have a good excuse--I've been moving back to college!
          Now, remember when I said I was moving back on Saturday? Well, there was a bit of a mixup with the school seems FRESHMAN were moving in Saturday. Now, socially or academically, I don't qualify. So after a day of frantic phone calls, I arranged to move down on Monday and dug through my suitcases to find some clean clothes that I hadn't packed.
          And then I got up at 4:57am on Monday morning. Just so you know, if God had MEANT for us to get up that early, he would have made the sun rise THEN.
          Anyway, I got to college around noon and moved into my apartment. I'm living with three other guys, and I get my own room. Like, my very own personal room. There's no one else living in it. For someone who's been living with his brother all summer in a room the size of a standard broom closet, this was a pretty big deal for me. Still is. Also, we have a kitchen with a pantry. I'm pretty excited.
          So, as I'm running up and down the stairs with all my crap (a LOT of crap) and trying to unpack, I suddenly realized that I was missing a basic necessity: bed sheets. You'd think I would have packed them, but nooo....oh well, I needed to go to Walmart anyway.
          That was, again, on Monday. On Tuesday, I found out that the distance class I needed to take I was, in fact, not registered for. Took me all day to clean up that mess...never assume that no email from a college is a good thing. You should be getting spammed like it's going out of style, otherwise there's a problem. The problem in this case was that two of my transcripts got misplaced, a mistake that is not easily cleaned up...but I am all registered now. Whew.
          And today, classes started! I'm pretty psyched, even though I got an insane amount of homework for my first day of class. Actually, I think it's an insane amount for any day of class, but I got most of it done, which is why I'm taking a break now. And doing air guitar to "Footloose." Good thing I have my own room.
          I should enroll in the College of Rock. If there is one.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Captain's Log, Day 49: Randomness and Inanimate Objects

          I've gotta be more careful with what I watch before bedtime.
          Let me explain...once, I watched Star Wars Return of the Jedi and dreamed that I was in a lightsaber duel with Darth Vader all night. Then, it was Pirates of the Caribbean. That was kinda cool--I captained the Black Pearl, although I wasn't Jack Sparrow...not sure why he let me take his ship for a spin, but hey, I wasn't going to argue. Half a year ago, I discovered The Matrix. This time I had Mr Smith beating up on me all night. I scored a few hits, but my alarm clock woke me up before I figured out who won. Some nice college friends invited me to check out Inception with them. I am not making this up: I had to wake up three times the next morning. And tonight...I watched The Adjustment Bureau. Ooh boy...
          I know for a fact I've been cursed with an over-active imagination. Re-reading some of the stories I've written over the years, I can definitely see that I'm...well, lacking in writing talent and any kind of style whatsoever...but also that I came up with some pretty interesting stuff. I especially love my faster-than-light travel idea; I thought it was pretty clever, if I do say so myself.
          I know there's a lot of stuff I could just kick myself for not having thought up first. Again, just about everything by Timothy Zahn comes to mind; he's my favorite science fiction writer. I wish I could write like he does--if I could, I would change my major, but that's not going to happen.
          My current major is Mechanical Engineering, mostly because I like building and creating stuff and I'm pretty good with the physics involved. I just like creating in general, which I guess is why I write. I know my parents are very happy with my building abilities; they have a new fix-it or create-it project for me every couple hours. I don't know if I like the fixing projects; see, if I can't get it right away, I get more and more invested in the project until I'm willing to buy the parts myself just so the inanimate object doesn't beat me. ("RADAR!! Let's just call the plumber!!" "Not yet! I almost got this..." *SNAP* "Dang. Be right back, gotta run to the store.") It's worse with computers; I would sell my house to fix a computer that's been through everything and should be sent to the dumpster. Probably why I don't own a house...I really don't like losing to inanimate objects. And yes, calling Tech Support is considered defeat. Actually, while on the phone with Tech Support the one time I called them, they didn't know what to do and I fixed it while on the line for three hours, so I told them how to do it and then hung up, so it wasn't a total defeat...but still...ugh.
          And now to conclude this, may I mention how random I am? Look, I started with movies and dreams and ended up talking about computers. Wow. I'm also a geek. My apologies.
          Well, I'm going to log off this thing before my computer decides to afre rif dksjf iifdnh dsf CURSE YOU, INANIMATE OBJECT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

**Captain's Note: I'm prepping to move back to college, so I probably won't have any more posts up until Saturday or Sunday. Hopefully by then I'll have some fresh material and a couple good moving stories--I mean stories about moving, not like emotionally moving....

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Captain's Log, Day 48: The Difficult Truth

          I was playing with my blog the other day and I came across this tab that says "Stats."
          Okay, I'll be honest; that wasn't the first thing I came across. I ran into a link that said "Edit HTML," and I'd just like to say (for all you bloggers out there), don't mess with that unless you know what you're doing. Curse my OCD. After I finished with the damage control, I clicked on the Stats tab.
          Here's an interesting bit of trivia for you; this thing can keep track of how many people visited my blog, what operating system and browser they used, and what the most-read blog posts were. (I'm happy to note that the most-used operating system is Windows. Keep being awesome!) What shocked me is how many hits I've had on my blog. As of this moment, I have had 702 hits in the past two-three months. 702!!! I didn't think I was that interesting. Still don't. Maybe it's like watching a car wreck--you can't look away!
          Or maybe what I suggested a while back is true: doctors prescribe this to insomniacs.
          Whatever the reason for this burst of readership, I'm determined to not let it go to my head. (My siblings will probably help with that.) I suppose I could turn this somehow into my goal of world conquest, but I'm too tired tonight. And actually, for once I kind of have an excuse; I've been moving furniture around.
          The reason for that is simple; certain parties believe that buying more furniture (dressers, cabinets, etc) will help reduce clutter in their house, and it's my job to move the furniture they want. I don't mind the chance for exercise, but what annoys me is the mindset of the people doing the buying. Apparently, more possessions will magically make clutter disappear.
          Let me illustrate this point. I share a room with my brother Nemesis. It's a pretty small room, and we're both pretty big guys. Also, we have a lot of junk, so our room is perpetually messy. We could go through our room and throw out half our junk, and it would still be messy. We could line the walls with shelves and cabinets and it would still look like a tornado hit it. Twice. The problem isn't with the room. It's with the occupants.
          I know we can keep it clean. The week after we moved in, the room was spotless. That was before we got lazy, of course. I know that it's not the fault of our surroundings, but sometimes it's just easier to blame the room we're in, instead of ourselves. I personally don't want the responsibility!
          There's the problem, though; and here's the thought I'm going to leave with today. Nothing will change until I change. That's really how it works; whether it be in America or in my messy little room. No  new bookcases or stimulus packages are going to fix our mess or hide the fact that we're a lazy race. Why is our debt so bad? Because we buy more than we earn. Why no earning? It's because we don't want to work!!!
          And there's my little rant for the night. Next time, I promise, I'll put up a more amusing story, assuming (of course) that I'm not too tired from cleaning my room.
          Or maybe I'll put the room-cleaning off. I pack for college in a few days anyway... ;)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Captain's Log, Day 47: Wonder Why We Didn't Fall Off?

          I went out on the roof tonight with my siblings.
          This is usually an epically hilarious event, and tonight was no exception. Let me explain, first, why we would even do such a old room, which I used to share with Nemesis and is now Squirrel's room (which she painted PINK--she'll tell you it's "salmon" or "coral" or some such nonsense, but don't listen to her; it's freaking pink) has a gable, the windows of which open out over the porch roof. Back when we built the house, Mom and Dad made the horrible mistake of putting removable screens on all the windows. They then spent the next eight years trying to make us exit the house through the doors. In my opinion, the windows are more fun.
          Back to my story...we kids found out soon enough that if we were careful, we could open the window, remove the screen, step out onto the roof, put the screen back, and spend the next hour or so snickering as we listened to the parental unit fruitlessly trying to find us. It kinda sucks, being older; now the parents don't care as much now that we're considered older and somewhat mature. It's like taking snacks from the pantry; now that it's legal, it's not as fun. Lame.
          So tonight, we popped the screen and headed out onto the roof. Nemesis and I immediately scurried over to the pipe that rose out of the kitchen roof (it vented from the line that ran to the sewer) and began yodeling down it. When no screams arose from kitchen, Nemesis went down to see if Mom was in there. He came back to report that no, she wasn't and yes, my voice was indeed emanating from the kitchen sink.
          My two sisters then decided to perform the YMCA on the peak of the roof. I joined them, my brother content to just watch. Quill slipped at one point and ended up doing the splits on the peak. She wasn't hurt, but laughed so hard she almost rolled off the roof. I managed to sit down before I cracked up.
          We wanted to do some stargazing, but the sun wasn't quite down yet, so I scurried down the roof to wreak havoc with the TV satellite dish. Dad, fortunately or unfortunately, was not watching anything at the time, but Nemesis went inside and reported that I did, indeed, make the TV lose the signal but it was unable to pick it up fast enough for me to complete the SOS I was trying to signal out.
          After one last yodel down the kitchen sewer pipe, we were ordered inside by Mom and our night on the roof came to a close. I was sad--I never got to have the rematch spitting contest with Nemesis!!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Captain's Log, Day 46: In Which I Get Shot

          I got to visit with some of my friends from South Dakota today!
          After making a local burger joint millionaires (man, they had some good bacon cheeseburgers...), we decided to head to a lazer tag area for a showdown for the title of Most Deadly With Non-Lethal Weaponry. Jordan was very confident in his abilities. Jake was confident that Jordan was going to lose. I was ready to beat both of them.
          After the smack talk (which, for guys, is almost as much a part of sporting events as playing the National Anthem--which we forgot to do, by the way), we got our lazer gear and began trying to figure out how this was going to work. We were not the only people entering the arena; we'd met up with two other friends of mine (Maggie and Mariah) and three families were gearing up as well. They chose the teams Green, Blue and Yellow. The girls, Jake and I decided to play on one team, Team Red, with Jake and myself competing for number of kills. Jordan decided to join the Blue Team and compete for both the team championship and number of kills. I wished him good luck and then tried to shoot him. Unfortunately, the guns weren't activated yet.
          We filed into the arena, which was pretty much a two-story maze. I immediately headed for the second floor, figuring that I could shoot down at the first floor and that most people didn't notice what was going on above them 99 percent of the time anyway. Considering that I wasn't even tagged until I went downstairs midway through the game, I thought my strategy was highly effective.
          One of the girls, Mariah, and I teamed up for a few moments right away, but then she vanished. I turned around to check where she was and found someone backing down the corridor at me. I shot him in the back and dashed over to one of the side ramps, annihilating people as I went. I tried to shoot Jake when he popped out of nowhere, but since we were on the same team, nothing happened. Whew.
          Jordan was down on the first floor under the ramp, taking out innocent little kids, so I leaned over and alternated shooting him with shooting the "innocent little kids" who decided to take a few potshots at their savior. They missed. Jordan eventually figured out that I was the one shooting him, so he vanished into the depths of the first floor maze. I decided to pursue and walked right into Team Yellow, who were having a little family confab about strategy.
          Sixteen shots and a big ego boost later, I continued on my way with my no-hit record intact. I spotted Jordan charging down the hall at me and ducked around a wall into a corner. Also into Team Green, who were also having a family conference but were infinitely more ready and trigger-happy than Team Yellow. I decided discretion was the better part of valor and fled, but not fast enough to prevent them from shooting me. Several times. A brush with a vengeful Team Yellow later (knocked out all but one of their squad, who managed to shoot me), and I reverted to my earlier strategy of hiding on the second story. Unfortunately, Team Blue decided to hide up here as well. Maggie, Mariah and I made a few bad decisions that wound up with us getting pinned down in a room with only one exit, surrounded by the building wall on one side and two seven-foot-tall walls on the other two sides. I tried to sneak out. I ducked back in, vest buzzing like a beehive and a hail of lazer fire taking personal effect. Kind of annoyed now, I jumped, grabbed the edge of a wall with one hand, pulled myself up and raked Team Blue from above. We beat a hasty retreat as Jordan shot me in the back from wherever the heck he was hiding. Later in the game, Jordan and I teamed up to knock out two teams' worth of fighters hiding on one side of the arena. We each took our share, and then I returned the favor and shot him before I vanished.
          Anyway, Jordan did very well. He took second in both the team championship and kill score. I don't know what his official kill scores were, unfortunately. The Red Team (Mariah, Maggie, Jake and I) took first, Jake and the girls came in fairly respectably in the kill score, and I took first. To be fair, Jordan had a better accuracy rating than me. My standings were (I happen to have the sheet with me):

          Shots Fired: 724
          Accuracy: 21.82%
          Tagged Players: 158
          Tagged By Players: 17
          1st Place: Team Red - 37450
          2nd Place: Team Blue - 28750
          3rd Place: Team Yellow - 23300

          Apparently, I had an itchy trigger finger. Anyone want to challenge me? Maybe my brother?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Captain's Log, Day 45: A Few *More* Comics...

          As I was working on a new post last night, I started reading some of Benjamin Sonnek's comics and found a few more that I really liked. So, I decided to put them up here, along with a new one he expressly made for this at my threat--*ahem* request ;) Actually, the new one reminds me of what we were--are--like...LET'S HEAR IT FOR MAD SCIENCE!!!!

Blueberry Picking 

Reentry (Mad Scientists) 


Mad Scientists (the new one) 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Captain's Log, Day 44: Your Source for Funnies...

          I was browsing my computer today when I found some more of Benjamin Sonnek's comics. These are a bit older (like from way back in 2006) but I can see why I saved them. Any issues with quality are my fault--I had just learned to use a scanner back then and had yet to realize that I wasn't supposed to move the paper...
                                                                      Ice Skating




Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Captain's Log, Day 43: Fun at the Doc's

          My sister Quill is getting her wisdom teeth out today.
          I would suggest that those are the teeth she needs to leave in, but I'm guessing she would punch me, so no wisdom jokes today. It's sooo tempting, though....
          I remember when I got mine out. Believe it or not, I actually had a lot of fun with that whole procedure. And cracked up my doc. Let me explain...I was bored out of my mind after the twenty-minute wait (for some reason, we had to get to the doctor's office really super early), so by the time I got up to go to the surgery room or whatever it's called, I'd lost all of my initial apprehensiveness and was now really curious about the whole thing.
          The first thing that happened was getting me hooked up to the heart monitor. That was rather interesting, and helped stave off the boredom for the next ten minutes as I kept trying (and for the most part, succeeding) to mess with the monitor by changing my heart rate. After I decided that I'd made the nurses nervous enough, I looked around the room for the surgical instruments, but there weren't any drills in evidence. I was a little disappointed. I went back to playing with the heart monitor.
          Then the doc came in--so far, he's probably been my favorite. He checked out all the equipment, then came over to get the IV thing ready. I have these really huge veins down the inside of my arms, so I assumed (correctly) that he would stick the needle in there. The doc got my arm ready, but paused before he stuck the needle in. Very calmly and reassuringly, he said, "Okay, you're going to feel a little prick, but it should go away after a moment. Just relax."
          I looked him straight in the eye, gestured at the vein and replied, "If you miss that, I'm going to start laughing."
          He stared at me for a moment before he began laughing himself. "Well, you're not nervous at all, are you?"
          I grinned. "Nope. Go ahead and stick me with that thing."
          He did so, still chuckling. For the record, he lied--I didn't feel a thing. Then he started turned to the machine that I guessed (again correctly) would knock me out. "This might feel a little cold, but if you could just count backwards from thirty for me, we'll see how far you get before you go under, how does that sound?"
          I chuckled. "Doc, I can't count backwards from thirty even when I'm not being sedated. How about if I count forwards instead?"
          Doc started laughing again. I began counting. Right about when I hit ten, I forgot which number I was on, so I asked him. He chuckled. "It doesn't matter now. That means you're about to pass out, so we're about ready to start."
          Next thing I remember, I was on the couch at home, halfway through Batman Begins. That was painless enough...
          One other highlight of this whole episode, at home before the surgery:
          Mom: "...okay, now the only thing we have to decide is how we want to anesthetize Radar, local or general..."
          Dad: "How about for three weeks?"
          Yeah, very funny Dad.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Captain's Log, Day 42: A Few Comics

          Benjamin Sonnek makes some really funny comics.
          These are excerpts from his shelf load of Silly Snake and Turtle comic strips. It's about a snake (named Snake) and a turtle (named Turtle--for all his genius, Benjamin is an "unimaginative lot when it comes to naming things"). Their "owner" (named Joe, but it's kind of debatable whether he owns them or they own him) is subjected to all their pranks. These are some of my personal favorites.

Mad Science


Cell Phone Apps

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Captain's Log, Day 41: Battles, Scrabble, and a History of Weaponry

          I just got beat at Scrabble.
          It was awful. You'd think I'd have more sense than to play two budding English majors. I can claim a moral victory, though, because they bent the rules a few times. (They still would have beat me had they not, however.)
          Spelling has never been my strong point--for instance, I misspelled "spelling" just now. Thank goodness for spell check. I know you might be wondering why in the world I would even play Scrabble, but it's because I tend to have a bit of a competitive streak in me...I've accepted some of the weirdest challenges ever.
          Anyway, that's my digression on Scrabble. What I meant to write about today was the upcoming battle of good verses evil!! Much more exciting than Scrabble, right?
          Actually, this kinds falls into the line of weird challenges, except this time, I will be making it. My arch-nemesis, Dr. Lego (also known in some circles as my brother Nemesis) will face me in the ultimate battle of our century. Our weapons? Well, this is the funny part. Part of this challenge is about creativity, so we have to build them. Out of Legos. Kinda sucks, because I wanted to use my eggplant launcher, but it still has an annoying tendency to backfire, so this might be a good thing. Besides, Legos can be very destructive. I mean, look at the numerous dents on our walls...
          Actually, Nemesis and I have built numerous weapons of minimal destruction in the past. Our first construction project (if you don't count the mass of wood and nails that, with some imagination, could be construed as an airplane) was a rubber band gun. I gave the prototype to my brother and kept upgrading mine. Grasshoppers lived in fear of us--we could drill them from five feet away with ease. Eventually, I changed my medium from rubber bands to pencils. My first and only gun shot a pencil into sheet-rock and got some serious penetration. Dad was very displeased.
          The next foray was into cannons; I started with air guns, powered by my dad's air compressor. The charges were cans, rescued from the recycling bins. It worked so well, I decided to put a bunch of explosive inside and see if that would work. I was caught with the match inches from the fuse. Parents are no fun.
          Next, rockets were discovered. My treehouse saw some action that summer. Enough said.
          Now, my medium has changed once again; I modify Nerf guns. Much fun. The Army could probably use mine to stun people.
          So, how will the battle of good versus evil turn out? Well, Dr. Lego has the building skill, but I have a more...destructive...mindset, so it's kind of a toss-up as to who will win.
          Oh, and just to set the record straight, Dr. Lego is the good side. I'm the evil genius, remember?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Captain's Log, Day 40: Is Sarcasm a Superpower?

          I got to see Captain America today!
          For those of you who haven't seen it yet, I highly advise you do, so I'll try not to spoil the movie for you. To sum it up, it's awesome. I would totally build a shield and try some of the moves C.A. pulled off, if all my metal resources weren't being used on my Ironman suit.
          I think I'd make a pretty good superhero. I've got no problem with dangerous situations (as evidenced), have decent reflexes (ask my brother!), and am completely hopeless with girls (so I'd never have to deal with messy relationship issues when I should be concentrating on tracking down criminals or evil overlords).
          The only thing I can't decide is what my trademark weapon should be. Ironman has the suit, Captain America has the shield, Thor has the hammer, Chuck Norris has The Roundkick...seems like all the good weapons are taken. I would probably go with dual katanas as my trademark, but I'm definitely carrying some handguns for longer-range work. My ideal arsenal would be eight guns, two katanas, and two knives. And maybe some kind of metal forearm/hand protector, so I don't hurt myself when I try to do something stupid, like block a knife with my hand.
          Believe it or not, I actually have a suit design made up in my mind. Unfortunately, I can't draw, so you can't see it. I would hire my sister, but I'm not that dedicated to being mocked. It's very ninja-like, though.
          I do have a weakness, though (besides my sarcasm, although I might argue that it might actually be a superpower)--I can't work in groups very well. I prefer to fight solo, on the rational that if something stupid happens, the only person I can blame is myself. Also, I don't want to accidentally take out teammates. That's typically frowned upon in superhero society. On the other hand, this is a better weakness than, say, kryptonite. Let me illustrate...

          Superman: "Surrender!"
          Evil guy: "Look, kryptonite!"
          Superman: "AAAAAAaaaakkk...."
          Me: "Surrender!"
          Evil guy: "Look! Here's a group you need to work with!"
          Me: "Whatever, I'll just blame them if you escape. Come on, hands up..."
          Evil guy: "Why can't you be allergic to kryptonite or cats or something?"
          Me: "I could fake a sneeze if it would make you feel better."
          Evil guy: "Could you let me escape, too?"

          Hmm, I appear to be a little overqualified, but that's a good thing, right? So where the heck is my letter from S.H.I.E.L.D.?????

Friday, August 5, 2011

Captain's Log, Day 39: Help, There's a Hog in My Kitchen!

          Foreign languages are my weakness.
          My adviser at college recently informed me that I am required to have two semesters of some foreign language. I asked him if he thought I should master ENGLISH before I moved on to other languages. Thank the Lord for spelling and grammar check.
          Perhaps you've heard me say this before...but forget the pyramids. The greatest achievements of mankind are spell check, Google, and WolframAlpha. If you don't know what WolframAlpha is, look it up. It's the best math/science program/website out there. It saved my butt during Calc 3, so you know it's gotta be good.
          Anyway, back to the subject of foreign languages. I am no stranger to other tongues, as it were; I just suck at them. I've taken Spanish, Italian, Latin, and possibly one other, but I can't remember squat from any of them. I also tried inventing my own language with the help of my siblings. We were most practical--we could insult each other in dozens of different ways, but unfortunately we never got some of the basic words down (such as pass, the, and salt). Interestingly enough, this was also around the same time we invented these really weird imaginary kingdoms. To this day, I am eternally grateful that we lived out in the middle of nowhere--if anyone had stumbled across us back then, say during one of our many battles with imaginary foes, he would have seen us swinging sticks at nothing and screaming unintelligible things. We probably looked like we were having some kind of insane fit. It still cracks me up, thinking about it.
          My brother Nemesis is pretty good with both Latin and Italian. He can read Latin fairly well, anyway, and he got the furthest of any of us in our Italian program. Mom thinks she can understand animals ("Look! The ducks are happy today!" "How do you know?" "They're smiling!" "MOM, their beaks are fixed in that shape!"), but it's anyone's guess as to what extent. My dad claims he knows dozens of languages, but when we question him, he usually evades us on a technicality. "Yeah, sure, I know Italian!" "Oh yeah? Prove it." "Okay...LASAGNA. SPAGHETTI. Wanna hear some Japanese? TOYOTA." (Also, when I was telling him about Taekwondo and how it was different from Karate, he told me "Hey, I know Karate. And Judo. And Kung Fu. And a whole lot of other Japanese words!" Thanks, Dad.)
          Actually, my favorite foreign language incident happened in Rome, Italy. We were at a resteraunt, and we'd just ordered our food outside. There was some loud talking from inside, and I asked my brother to translate. He shrugged. Dad listened for a second before announcing, "Hey, I know what he's saying!"
          Wary of a trap, we exchanged glances before giving in. "Okay, what?"
          "Help, there's a hog in my kitchen!"

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Captain's Log, Day 38: More From My Archives

          Two more things that I found buried on the hard drive of my computer: one, a poem by my brother, and two, an old book report from way back (in the fifth grade, I think?) that is so hilarious I'm surprised I got away with it. Maybe my teacher didn't like the book either...

                                               The Battle of Spelling

          The battle of spelling is always absurd,
          You give me a noun, I attack with a verb;
          Suddenly a notebook page is laid waste,
          From a war to spell “cheese” and “gourmet” and “taste,”
          And then—oh no—a horrible cry!
          A pull at the nose and a poke in the eye!
          A jab and a gouge and a—
          WILL YOU STOP THAT???????

                       Summary and Analysis of Antigone
                                                                                                By Radar Midway
The Greek story Antigone is a tragedy. A tragedy is a story where the main character, through a lapse of judgment, does something that normally is not a big deal but has tragic results because something turns up. In this case, a girl named Antigone decides to go bury her brother, who turned against his country and tried to raid her town. Her other brother fought him and they both died. The second brother was buried with honors, but they left the other guy to rot on the plain. They didn’t even give him burial rights. Anyway, the leader of this town, Creon, decrees that anyone who gives the guy the burial rights prescribed by the gods would die. Go figure, Antigone decides to bury him anyway. She’s caught of course, and to make things more interesting, she’s Creon’s son’s wife-to-be. Creon and his son have a discussion (in the interest of accuracy, it’s more like an argument) about what to do, in which this stupid chorus keeps popping up to agree with what everybody says. (Yes, the man should be left to rot and the girl killed. No, he and she shouldn’t. Your father’s right, he’s got more sense and experience. Your son’s right, he’s got more wisdom and sense, etc.) In the end, Creon decides not to kill the girl, but seal her up in a cave because he didn’t want the people to think that a girl triumphed over him. He’s still going to let the guy rot. (Chorus agrees.) He seals the girl up, posts a guard over the guy (P.U! I wonder what poor sucker got that assignment?) and goes back to the city. Of course, right when everything is solved to Creon’s and the chorus’ satisfaction (it’s not hard to satisfy the choruses), a prophet arrives and delivers a message, the usual “Doom, death and destruction” except without the destruction, about what is going to happen if the girl isn’t set free and the guy buried. (Chorus agrees.) Creon insults the prophet and says something to the effect of, “He’s wicked, so I shouldn’t give him the burial rights the gods said I should give.” (Chorus agrees.) The prophet said that death will strike his family, or something to that effect, and that he should listen to the gods. (Chorus agrees.) Creon reluctantly says OK, then sets out with a helper to bury the guy first. Big mistake. As he is digging the grave, he hears a cry from the direction of the cave. He dropped his tools and limped to the cave (he should have watched where he threw down that pickax). Upon arriving, he sees that Antigone has hung herself and that his son is there, very sad and angry.  When he spots Creon, he yanks out a sword. Creon jumps out of the way, but the son has no intention of killing him and instead kills himself. Creon sadly makes his way back to the city, where he finds that word of this has gotten back already (bad news was the only thing back then that traveled faster than the speed of sound) and that his wife has killed herself as well. When he hears this, Creon cries out and asks why he should still be living and if anyone will kill him too. (He abruptly changes his mind when the choruses agree and reach for some pickaxes. The choruses thought that extremely funny. Some of them laughed so hard they had to leave the scene to use the restrooms1.) That is about where everything stand when the story ends. Antigone is the main character (she’s the one with the judgment lapse, even though Creon is the one who insulted a prophet—that’s usually a bad idea) and Creon was the one who changed the most; unfortunately, a member and a member-to-be of his family died before he obeyed the gods and buried  his most hated enemy.

1.       This part actually isn’t in the book. It’s artistic license.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Captain's Log, Day 37: Here There Be Pirates...

          Here's the "Pirate Code" that my siblings and I drew up a few years back, when we were positive that our life's destiny was to be pirates. We were...odd...children. Still are, in fact.
                                  Pirate Code
1.    No shooting other crewmembers. (That privilege is reserved for the Captain,  the First and Second Mate only. Just kidding…………maybe.)
2.    Anyone who is caught shirking in battle will be punished.
3.    Keelhauling is an acceptable punishment.
4.    Okay, seriously, the punishment for an offender will be being tied upside-down to the mast while having ice cold water poured down his pants.
5.    Happy hour is from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm.
6.    Define happy hour, please. (So this one isn't a rule, it's kind of a question. Do you have a problem with that??!!)
7.    Sharing is prohibited, if prohibited means highly encouraged.
8.    If, while doing target practice, you get shot by a person with lousy aim, it is perfectly acceptable to kill that person with (A) a stick or (B) by using the 16-inch guns so as to avoid a burial at sea (or on land, for that matter).
9.    Pillow fights are only allowed on Saturday nights. (Do not hit anyone holding a firearm or you will regret it.)
10.  Personal spaces must be kept tidy, or your possessions are at risk. (It's not stealin', it's salvaging!")
11.  If a subordinate or a person of equal rank asks you to swab the deck, it is highly encouraged for you to do it. Please bear in mind that this rule does not state what—or who—you have to use for this task. The Captain doesn't care.
12.  Do not—I repeat, do NOT—pull a plug out of anything other than the bathtub if you do not know what it leads to. (You're on a ship!! Duh!!)
13.  Attention and respect for your senior officers is required at all times.
14.  Foul language is NOT encouraged at any time. But, calling someone a hippopotamic land mass is okay. So is "pointy-haired buffoon."
15. Do not operate the guns unless you get specific permission from your senior officers. (It's just not a good idea. Trust me.) Same thing with all special equipment.
16.  Take what you can and give nothing back.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Captain's Log, Day 36: Back from Steubenville North!

          I'm back from the Steubenville North retreat!
          It was incredibly fun--got to see a lot of old friends and make a few new ones! I thought I'd share a few of my favorite speakers and conversations from the weekend....
          Over lunch...
          Sarah looks at my plate. "You got the chicken?"
          I poke it. "This is chicken? It looks like...I dunno...salmon."
          Sarah shakes her head as I try some. "Nope, I asked my friend, and she said the sign said chicken."
          I wince. "So it looks like salmon, is actually chicken and tastes like shoe leather?"
          Sarah looks at me. "How do you know?"
          I pointed at my plate. "I tried some!"
          Sarah frowns. "No, I meant how do you know what shoe leather tastes like?"
          I snicker. "Ohh, I brother threw a shoe at me once. It hit me in the mouth."

          One of the speakers, elaborating on eternity...
          "...and on the other hand, you might end up in HELL!!! Forever separated from God! And you'll be forced to listen to Justin Bieber songs for all eternity."
          Everyone laughs, except for the die-hard Bieber fans. The speaker thinks for a second.
          "I would have said Taylor Swift, but she's for Purgatory."
          All the girls yell at him. All the guys die laughing.

          One of the speakers, the woman from Franciscan University, admitted that she liked Justin Bieber (and actually sang part of "Never Say Never" as a joke). She was teased relentlessly by the other speakers. For instance, right after she gave her last speech:
          Jim: "Hold on a second, please. I'd like to inform everyone that a new scholarship has been established at Franciscan University--it's the Justin Bieber scholarship."
          John takes the microphone. "Thanks, Jim. And actually, it's the Justin Bieber scholarship for the Musically Impaired."
          Everyone laughs. John snickers. "It's just too easy sometimes. I have a daughter at home who also likes Justin Bieber. She's also 12."
          Half of the audience falls out of their chairs, laughing. John glances over at the Fran-U speaker. "Sorry. No, wait, I'm not."

          Sorry to all the Bieber fans who read this...kinda...