Saturday, March 15, 2014

Urine Atlanta!

Actually, I just flew out of Atlanta, and you very probably aren’t there. (I’m guessing you are in Albany, Ouray, or Graz, beloved reader.) I had a great time visiting old and new friends at the GT BrainLab and FIDO team. A special shout-out to Sky the border collie, one of the coolest dogs ever. Sky is the beginning of a new generation of assistance dogs for disabled people, more helpful and flexible than ever before.

 But I’ll write aplenty about the work related stuff elsewhere (already have, in fact) and so my blog allows an escape to silliness. Here we have an ad for a culinary school that was on the MARTA car. Now, I’m not a culinary expert. I’ve never been to cooking school. My little brother is a far better cook than I ever could be. But, I do have a lot of experience eating. And I’m not sure I’d be dazzled by a gourmet feast centered on potatoes, topped with potato chips, with some sauce. Oh! I see! The potatoes have little green things. And the potato chips are nicely placed on top, with classy-looking squirts of sauce and even a sleeve with a white coat. Wait! Is that a wedge of some yellow fruit, and some twin green veggie blobs? Wow!!! That pittance wouldn’t stuff an anorexic midget baby gnat with a stapled stomach.

American kids sometimes tell each other about a chemical placed in pools that changes color when you pee. Good trick to get them to behave, except that it’s very easy to disprove and then the kid gets the wild notion that adults sometimes lie. Atlanta has taken this to a new level. For the first time in my life, I saw a sign on warning of urine detection devices, or UDDs:

These signs were in and around the N3 MARTA elevator in Midtown Atlanta. Upon entering the elevator, two of my five senses immediately informed me that the UDD system was not discouraging elevator peeers at all. Hoo-wee! Either the sensors don’t work, or (more likely) do not lead to any arrests. How could they? There’s a camera in there. Great; you get a guy’s back and then he leaves. Unless he *really* had to go bad, the cops have maybe 20 seconds to respond before the doors open and the peeer (but not his golden gift) is long gone. So, just like the threat that the pool will turn red if you pee in it, this is meaningless. What we need is not just a UDD, but a system that takes action accordingly. 
I propose the Public Indecency Sensor and System for Offenders (PISSOFF). PISSOFF does rank somewhere on my list of clever inventions that I have freely given to an unresponsive and ungrateful society through this blog, like the Urban Hop Maneuver, my extended German grammar, Sound of Music lyrics for hunters, and cat helicopter. Wait, the cat helicopter is private. Anyway.
I hereby offer these novel suggestions to the Atlanta City Council. Politicians should recognize that there probably will not be many voters who enthusiastically defend peeers, or encourage peeers to rally with their peeing peers. It’s a safe way to be tough on crime without offending anyone important. Even the ACLU wouldn’t take this case. Editorials that begin with “I peed in a public elevator, and was mistreated” wouldn’t elicit much sympathy. I doubt meetings for a new group called “Mothers Of Public peeERS” would ever run out of chairs. If they tried a civil disobedience campaign, getting peacefully arrested for violating an unjust law, most Atlantans would *not* think them on par with Martin Luther King. The Facebook group “Peeers in Elevators and Escalators” would not have escalating membership. So crack down on 'em!
If the UDD detects urine….

  1. Automatic door locks: Lock the doors until cops arrive.
  2. Automatic community service: Also drop wet towels from an overhead bin. The violator may not leave until thoroughly cleaning the elevator.
  3. Camsharing: The peeer’s face is immediately displayed on video screens all over town, including monitors all over the M3 midtown MARTA station. Buy billboard space too. Add text reading: “This man is now urinating in the M3 Midtown MARTA elevator!!” Expert’s tip: if you put the system in other elevators, then adapt the text so it’s easier to catch them. 
  4. Shock grid: The UDD electrifies the bottom of the elevator. For my non-engineer readers, electricity will travel along a stream of salty water far better than shoes, socks, plastic elevator walls, etc. This means that any innocent people in the elevator would be safe, and probably terribly amused. For my non-male readers, you probably guessed that shocking the source of urine would really hurt. Yes. I’m wincing at the thought. Actually, at very low voltage, fence-tinkling leads to a pleasant tingling sensation. I think the statute of limitations is over so I can talk about this now, although I’m still banned from Fred’s Low-Voltage Electric Fence shop.
  5. Urine recycling: The UDD activates a small pump leading to an overhead cistern, which sprays the violator with the preceding violator’s urine. Cruel or unusual? Not much different from what he’s doing to hundreds of future elevator riders. Just a difference in height.     
  6. Yellow badge of shame: The elevator also sprays the violator with a fluorescent yellow stinky sulfur compound that lingers for weeks. If the cops don’t bust him, his crack dealer will.
  7. Flies: release the urinal flies that have been collected from German airports. (See prior posts.) I have scientifically proven that these flies can cling to the insides of urinals despite great pressure, almost like they’re painted there. So they’d just stick on the violator forever. I’ll be in a German airport soon, so I’ll keep an eye (and something else) out for them sticky urinal flies.

I’m also intrigued by the sensor engineering. The UDD is probably not urine specific, just a cheap system to detect liquids. So you might get false positives from hemophiliacs, snails, wet surfers, janitors, or NFL head coaches dripping Gatorade after winning a Superbowl. Or people who vomit, spill drinks, spit, melt, have ebola, drop a full fishtank, enjoy walking in the rain, happen to be moving a leaky waterbed or broken air conditioner, are sweating profusely on a hot and humid Atlanta day, or are crying really really a lot. Or have pets who urinate. Hm. The last one kills it. I don’t think public urination is illegal for dogs, because they have great lawyers. Damn. It would have been a good idea otherwise. I’ll move on.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Hobbbbbbit

In a hole in a ground there is Professor Jonathan Ronald Reuel Tolkein. 'Tis a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell: it is a grave-hole, and that means comfort is of little concern.

In the dawn of the third millenium of the Second Age of Only Men, many wizened scholars decried the differences between the movie adaptation of "The Hobbit" and Tolkein's original vision. Amidst other extensions, some sages noted that the role of the Necromancer seems expanded well beyond the original tomes. Indeed, a letter in Tolkein's own hand explained that the Necromancer was "hardly more than to provide a reason for Gandalf going away and leaving Bilbo and the dwarves to fend for themselves, which was necessary for the tale" (source: J.R.R. Tolkien. The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien and Humphrey Carpenter. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1981, pg. 346).

Why have no Men seen fit to simply ask Professor Tolkein what he intended, or his views of the movie adaptations? Well, I'm a Professor and a professional researcher, just like he was. And, just like his kid, Chris Tolkein, I devoted my life to studying my father's writings. Since Dad was the Necromancer, I dug up some of his musty old books, learned a few basic necromancer spells, and got ol' Johnny Ronnie talking again. In this interview, he fleshed out his decaying vision with great rigour.

"Professor, what did you think of the films based on your work?"
Edith? Edith, is that you? How I miss you, my love-

"No, this is Morgul Winyamo, son of Morgul Tinuviel, son of Bob."

"So you remember my dad?"
Regrettably. Terribly pompous man, an amateur writer lacking discretion, taste, or audience. He was most petulant in his insistence that his skill was comparable to mine, much like CS Lewis. 

"Was it true that you intended the Necromancer to play quite a minor role?"
Indeed not. My original vision actually featured an entire trilogy with him and Radagast, with more rabbit sleighs and bird droppings. You see, the Hobbit was intended as a tale for my children, and hence adaptations alluring to that age group are most fitting. Thorin's rejection of Bilbo, leading to the subsequent reconciliation and hug, was deemed trite and highly uncharacteristic of dwarf and hobbit alike, but only by viewers over twelve. 

"This leads to another common criticism. How did you feel about the use of CGI in The Hobbit?"
Most regrettably, my access to IMAX theaters is decidedly limited down here. Indeed, might you be so kind as to help me find my way out of here?

"If you answer more questions."
Very well. I must say the CGI is splendid, very close to what I had hoped. When I wrote my books, my primary concern was that the pixellation technology at the time would render any adaptation rather weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable. 

"Ah, you're quoting the great bard!"
No, that was Hamlet. Bard was a grim and ineloquent man. Anyway, I particularly enjoyed the CGI in the end of the second Hobbit film. Most prescient of Peter Jackson to recognize that, although the half-hour of special effects was not quite so thoroughly detailed in my book, it is indeed what I hoped would ensue. 

"And the adaptation of the party meeting Beorn?"
Well, the original scene in my book, like so many others that were modified, was meant largely to develop characters and background. As mentioned, I always considered these ends far less important than visual effects, extended action scenes, and dialogue that children would consider original. And hence I shall again praise this adaptation. Say, my good man, would you at least send down some pipe-weed?

"Sorry, but since you're breathing again, you only have so much oxygen."
Then, mayhaps, you could ask the eagles to rescue me? They provided a fine escape in my books.

"They're endangered now."
Might you contact the cemetery owner, then? I should have ample funds after the films.

"You didn't get any money from them."
Bloody hell. Those greedy chaps are worse than the Sackville-Bagginses. Might we enter into a literary collaboration? A new Tolkein book might fill both our coffers.

"That would be plagiarism. You don't control your own work any more." 
Perhaps I might ghostwrite, if you'd pardon the pun? I could finish my unfinished tales and extend the Silllllllmarillllllllllion with more CGI. Were Disney to purchase my new works, we would most surely have wondrously profitable films, blending my genre with Star Wars. Imagine the visual effects of a lightsaber battle between Luke and Azog, or Smaug vs. X-Wings. Might you speculate as to whether George Lucas would be willing to claim that added CGI constitutes a meaningful retelling of his original vision?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Ring in the New Year

Recent years have seen a dramatic rise in sales of "promise rings," also called "pre-engagement rings". These rings, based loosely on the Irish Claddagh ring, reflect a couple's commitment to become engaged at some point. Engagement still means that the couple intends to get married.

Backtracking, how would couples convey their interest in a possible future promise ring? Hence, Zales has recently introduced the "pre-promise ring". This ring reflects that couples are considering committing to a promise ring, but are not yet ready for the big step of saying that they commit to later commit to later get married.

Extensive research has indicated various romantic stages that may build up to the pre-promise ring. Howard Jewelers and Hallmark have introduced the "Hoo-woo-oo-oo" ring, based on Eddie Murphy's observation that a critical relationship development is eliciting that sound from your woman.

Kay Jewelers, capitalizing on their "Every Kiss begins with Kay" slogan, has introduced the "First Kiss" ring. This ring shall be expected by any respectable lady before she first kisses any gentleman. This provides a preliminary indicator of his value and willingness to sacrifice for her. As usual, the two months' salary guide is recommended when pondering the ring's value.

Jared Diamond has countered with their new slogan, "Every Job begins with J". This conveys a successful hand or blow job. This ring would presumably occur after the K ring, at least in dignified couples. Particularly hopeful gentlemen may wish to consider bringing a K ring and J ring on the first date; however, the J ring should be kept hidden at first.

Tiffany has introduced the "Tiff ring". This ring conveys that the burgeoning couple has survived their first tiff. The timing of this ring, relative to the three preceding rings, says everything.

What of the well-established "Purity ring", reflecting that a woman commits to remain pure until marriage? This is still required, and should be placed on a baby at birth. New rings must be purchased as needed as the child grows. All such rings include a thin membrane that is designed to be savagely punctured by the Hoo-woo-oo-oo ring.

New genetic engineering research has inspired titllating adumbrations of the "F-ring". Contrary to vulgar assumptions, this refers to the "Finger ring". Contrary to vulgar assumptions, this has nothing to do with the verb form of "finger", but reflects a man's commitment to pay for his wife to get additional fingers to host more rings.

Sales have been poor for the "Divorce promise ring". This ring is meant to convey that the couple commits to get divorced sometime. The poor Zales have been blamed on legal ramifications, and the husband's unwillingness to spend two months' salary on such a ring.

Sales have been even worse for the Mosaica Masturbation ring. This ring, often confused with the Purity ring, conveys the owner's decision to remain solo for an unspecified time. Market analysts have concluded that, like the Divorce promise ring, a critical concern is buyers' low motivation. Emerging efforts have focused on encouraging people to buy these rings for themselves, reflecting eagerness to get an alternate ring, with sales much higher among women.

An unfortunate number of people continue to rely on the notorious "I-ring", or Invisible Ring. This ring generates no revenue and reflects that a couple is sufficiently comfortable with their communication and commitment that extensive rings or other baubles are unnecessary. Strong efforts to vilify such ringbearers by the diamond and card industries have been largely successful, but have not caught on with certain demographics, such as amputees, low-maintenance women, prisoners, the homeless, and the hopeless. Further market research will hopefully identify opportunities to eliminate such subversive elements and their possible threat to capitalist society.