I got an A in high school biology but this is all I can remember

Eleven years after high school biology, I remember nothing but these three things. They improve my life on a daily basis, but they definitely do not grant me the title of “Knows Stuff About Biology”:

  1. I write delta (Δ) to mean “change” in my shorthand notes, which saves time.
  2. I retain a limited understanding of the concepts of enzymes and activation energy, an understanding I deploy exclusively in the creation of metaphors. (e.g. “The activation energy needed to make our BYO-paper-maché-bobsled party a successful one is pretty high.” “The enzyme in that hookup was tequila.”)
  3. I know that biology is complicated and memory is a skill, and you will impress me if you know a lot about biology or remember what you learned in high school.

If you’re reading this, Dr. Merritt, I’m sorry. Although! I do remember that I enjoyed your class. Which is all that teachers care about, right? The lingering personal impressions they made upon their students? Also, your unrepentant combination of Birkenstocks and wool socks was bold for its day and remains an admirable stance.

Custer’s Last Stand, or The Battle of the (Great Grey-Green) Greasy Grass Creek

June 25th, 1876
With apologizes to Rudyard Kipling

In the High and Far-Off Times of the 1870s, George Armstrong Custer, O Best Beloved, desired a fight.  He had fought in the Musty-Pusty Civil War and he desired another, for he was full of ‘satiable courage, and that means he sought ever so many fights.

The President Grant, his lips to a bottle, desired that the Army should fight the Sioux Indians who did not want to live on their reservations.  So Custer went to President Grant and asked him to send him to fight the Sioux, and President Grant spanked Custer with his hard, hard bottle.  And still Custer was filled with ‘satiable courage!  So he asked his patron General Sheridan, who appealed to President Grant on Custer’s behalf.  And President Grant told Custer, with a throaty cry, “Go to the banks of the (Great Grey-Green) Greasy Grass Creek, all set about with fever-trees, and fight the Sioux!”

So one fine morning, as the Destiny was Manifesting just so, Custer went away, a little warm, but not at all astonished, to fight the Sioux. Continue reading

My Digital Resolutions For 2013 (Not Numbered)

  • Never read the comments section.
  • Treat Facebook and Twitter like a phone call, not a television.
  • Do not flip out when a free website changes its terms of service. They’re allowed to do it; you’re allowed to stop using the website.
  • Support web artists whose work you value with purchases, not just pageviews.
  • Stop freeloading and donate to news outlets and service organizations whose missions you value.
  • Remember that sharing a link is neither a vote nor a donation.
  • Use Facebook only for conversation and link sharing, never as the platform for created content.
  • Stop reading articles with titles that begin “Top 15…” or “8 Best…” etc.
  • Continue to not use emoticons anywhere, in any fashion.
  • Apply a high standard of relevance and interest before attempting to tell someone about a video or comic you saw online.
  • Tweet like your girlfriend, ex-girlfriend, future employer, and favorite aunt are all reading it.
  • Make sure your blog post is important before going back to edit it after it’s ben publishedd.

My Vocabulary in Venn Diagram Form

I recently wrote the word “bellicose” and realized that it is a word which exists in my written vocabulary but not in my spoken vocabulary. That is, I never say it. This got me thinking about the various overlapping sectors of my vocabulary. So I threw together a venn diagram to chart it.

Black text is the category, red text are examples. (CLICK FOR BIGGER VIEW)

Nick and Andy Set Out To Make Some Pies (Never Have So Many Owed So Many Pies To So Few)

This weekend my housemates Nick and Andy set out to make some pies. Eager to test the boundaries of the possible, Nick and Andy decided that it would be terrific and hilarious to give out pies the way one gives out holiday cards. Last weekend they made three pies, one each of three different recipes. Blind taste tests declared a no-bake pumpkin the winner.

So mid-week the intrepid duo visited their favorite restaurant supply store and returned with (approximately):

  • 82 pounds pumpkin puree
  • 22 dozen eggs
  • 50 pounds sugar
  • 6 gallons heavy cream
  • 25 pounds graham cracker crumble
  • 10 pounds butter
  • 1 gallon secret ingredient
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 200 pie tins
  • 200 pie boxes

Sunday morning, Andy ran the Philadelphia Marathon. Sunday afternoon, beginning around 1pm, Andy and Nick began making pies. With the help of nine housemates and family members, our house became Strategic Pie Command. Amidst the telegraph wires connecting us to the Front, I took some crappy photos with my phone.

Kitchen 1, or “Alpha kitchen”

Under Andy’s direction, we specialized by role. There were box folders, egg white separators, pie crust kneaders, pie crust mashers, pie filling cooks, pie fillers, and pie shipping and storage specialists. Also a DJ, a pho-orderer-and-picker-upper, sappers, radar technicians, two human shields (volunteer), and several supportive bystanders.

Kitchen two, “Bravo kitchen”. Featuring 2 of the 22 dozen eggs which Chris Kerr separated into yolks and whites.

Were we scared? You bet we were scared. But the larger question that propelled us, that haunted our dreams and threw us once more to our task with grim purpose, was what would happen if we didn’t make all these pies? That was too terrible to contemplate, and so we hoisted each other up with graham cracker-encrusted hands and soldiered on once more into the breach (kitchen).

Pete and Jesse on pie crust detail.

The pies begin to build up in our specially constructed, FDA-approved, Luftwaffe-proofed, raccoon-resistant pie cooling bunker.

Andy estimated that we enlisted over $2 million dollars-worth of higher education in the creation of these pies. We were the finest generation pulled into service at the time of greatest (pie) need.

Ari manning the pie filling station, where cooled crusts were arrayed ready for filling and deployment.

As Churchill once said:

“When I look round to see how we can win the war I see that there is only one sure path. We have no Continental army which can defeat the enemy military power–the blockade is broken and Hitler has Asia and probably Africa to draw from. Should he be repulsed here or not try invasion, he will recoil eastward, and we will have nothing to stop him. But there is one thing that will bring him back and bring him down, and that is an absolutely devastating, exterminating attack by two hundred pumpkin no-bake pies from this country upon the Nazi homeland.”

And also Churchill:

“We shall not flag or fail. We shall make pies in France, we shall make pies on the seas and oceans, we shall make pies with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our kitchens, whatever the cost may be, we shall make pies on the beaches, we shall make pies on the landing grounds, we shall make pies in the fields and in the streets, we shall make pies in the hills. We shall never surrender.”

The inner circle of Strategic Pie Command, exhausted but triumphant at 21:30 EST, with Pie No. #0000182

We feared the weight of our pie arsenal, the pies of democracy as they were known in the dailies, might buckle the specialized Pie Holding Tables in the pie bunker. But in the end, our fears were unwarranted, and 182 pies lay cooling in the crisp, we-definitely-hope-it’s-at-least-40-degrees-outside November air.

The pie arsenal of democracy

Tomorrow would see new trials, new unfathomable risks. But we won the day. We made 182 pumpkin pies in about nine hours. On Monday Nick and Andy would begin the arduous but joyful strategic deployment of all 182 pies to friends, tenants, business associates, allies and liberated peoples. And then we would rest.

Let me know if you want a pie.

we trust our eyes and tongues but we crowdsource the rest

My office’s heating system is aggressive and my boss recently asked me if it felt warm in his room. I agreed that it did.

This made me realize how we trust our eyes and tongues but like to crowdsource our other senses.

Crowdsourced senses:
Touch: “Does it feel warm in here to you?”
Hearing: “Do you hear a high-pitched whine? Wait…there it is again!”
Smell: “Does this milk smell bad to you?”

Senses we don’t crowdsource:
Sight: “Do you see a dog in this room?”  “Go pet that dog there.”
Taste: “Does this taste like shit?”  “This tastes like shit.”