Showing posts from 2008

The Only Thing In My Life That Isn't Hard Is My Abdomen

Life wasn't meant to be easy. It really wasn't. Well, not for most people. There are those people ( who don't really exist, because you don't know any and you don't know anyone who knows any ) who have charmed lives. The concept of a charmed life is just that, a concept. Like winning the lottery and paying off your mortgage are concepts. If one seems to have a charmed life, they should be living in fear of the inevitable difficulty or tragedy which will uncharm their charmed life. It happens all the time in books and movies, which are reflections of real life. The princess lives a happy, care-free existence in the glittering palace. The attendants take care of her every need. Even the elephants in the nearby forest seem to trumpet in tune with each other. Birds, butterflies, sunshine and all that. Then, while she is taking tea on the north balcony, the monster sneaks up behind her and devours her alive. It's going to happen. No surprises there. If its going we

Something From Nothing

I do not recall in which of the Superman movies it was, but one of the characters took a special pen, drew a butterfly on the floor and watched as it instantly came to life, took off and flew away. In Star trek one would simply instruct the computer to provide a cup of "Early Grey. Hot", and the beverage would instantly materialize for your drinking pleasure. I once saw an ingenious invention where the user would input a diagram or digital image of a mechanism into the machine and it would build a 3D representation of it using sand and glue. For example, you could feed the machine a diagram of a ball and socket. The machine would start whizzing away and build a working 3D model of it for you. Naturally, it took a really long time to produce such a thing, layer by layer. Also, the accuracy was not perfect and it was limited in its complexity. The 3D model was also not particularly sturdy, given the materials it was made from, but the idea that you can draw a two-dimensiona

Practical Jokes

There is nothing funnier than a good practical joke. I'm talking about a really well thought out, convincing set up. As long as you are not the victim, practical jokes are usually very funny. Take this oldie-but-goodie as an example ( Link to YouTube ): Now that is just a classic. I've played a few practical jokes in my time. Like when my colleagues went out to lunch and I replaced their computer monitors with cardboard boxes on which I had drawn a "screen" and a knob. One guy returned to his desk and sat there laughing for about five minutes. The other fellow didn't bat an eyelid. He sat down to work, typed a few letters and then called me on the phone to say, "Hey, Yossi, something's wrong with my computer". Problem with that joke was that I had to schlep the monitors back to the workstations from the meeting room where I had hidden them. But it was worth the trouble. Then there are other types of practical jokes, like those played on poor,

It's a Violent World and It's Your Fault!

I suppose that the majority of parents want their children to live full and happy lives, free of violence, murder, death, pain and suffering. According to this article about school violence : "The fact is, violence of one sort or another is part of many schools today. Fortunately, this usually involves a small group of people fighting amongst themselves...Since the 1992-3 school year, 270 violent deaths have occurred at schools across the nation." So, in other words, it's fine for kids to shoot each other, as long as they only do it among themselves. Sounds like a plan. The article goes on to report staggering statistics about how many schools across the United States reported violent crimes on school premises each year, stating that the rate of violence has decreased. They warn: "We must fight against this complacency without overreacting. We must fight to make our schools safe." Isn't that akin to "KILL ALL EXTREMISTS!" But it is our own

It's Good I'm Not A...

I'm scared of heights, so it's good I'm not a professional hang-glider. That knocks out one profession. Given that there are possibly hundreds and thousands of different professions, and variations thereof, I suppose it isn't really practical to decide your future career by process of elimination. There are other ways to choose the direction of your career. I like straight lines, so it's good I don't design modern office buildings. I guess the easiest way to decide what career you want to have is to create categories of professions and strike out the categories that don't suit your personality or abilities. This way you can eliminate entire blocks of careers. For example: outdoor jobs, indoor jobs, computer jobs, scientific jobs, jobs involving animals, community jobs, finance jobs and so on. I faint at the sight of blood, so it's good I'm not a professional hit-man. So once you have knocked out the categories of jobs you don't like, you can

Do We Eat Too Much?

I have been mulling over the question of whether or not we eat too much. Do we really need three meals a day, or will one or two suffice? Even if we eat healthily, are we being wasteful by eating too frequently? And is there too much emphasis on food in our lives? Do a quick Google search for "eat too much" and you will find all sorts of sites about eating too much meat, not eating enough meat, eating too much salt, and not eating enough salt. It seems like every few years something on the "do not eat" list becomes healthy and vice versa. So don't despair, in ten years scientists will announce that gorging oneself on salty, oily, sugary, snacks is good for you - only, gorge in moderation. A rather long article in Time magazine boils it all down to society and culture: " We eat together when we celebrate, and we eat together whe n we grie ve; we eat together when a loved one is preparing to leave, and we eat together when the loved one returns. We solve o

My Life Ambition

I have to confess that although I don’t mind working, the thought of going on a really, really long vacation is very appealing. I’m talking about taking at least a year off to travel the world and just enjoy life. Sounds idyllic? Read on. My dream is to buy a luxury bus, outfitted like a first-class hotel suite: plush carpets, mahogany trim, marble bathroom, leather seats, comfy couches and all that. Then I’d drive the bus around the world, never needing to worry about packing, unpacking, checking in or checking out. I’d go where I wanted and enjoy hot showers, home-cooked meals and top-rate comfort in the middle of the city, desert, rainforest or mountain peak. For that I’d need a bus license, a whole bunch of free time and a lazy $250,000 to purchase the vehicle. It is not a dream out of range, assuming I sold my house, quit my job, took a loan and sent my kids to live with an elderly wart-ridden aunt in a dilapidated mansion on the top of a dark, distant hill in a wooded forest. O

The Volunteer Conspiracy

Recently at a restaurant I overheard a group of people talking about their ages. They were all about 18 years old. That's when it hit me that I am a full 15 years older than them. When I was 18, they were 3. That means that when I got my driver's license, they were still wetting their beds. When I was at university, they couldn't even spell university. It was a revelation because on some level I still identify with them, sort of. In my mind I am still 18. Would I want to be 18 again and go through all of the stuff that 18 year olds go through? Hell, yeah! 18 year olds have the most fun. Most of them live at home with their parents (for some this is bad, for me it was bliss); most are studying; and socializing responsibilities come before all else. What more could you want out of life? Ah, but I am wrong - fulfillment doesn't come out of "living it up", at least not in 2006. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics , " In 2006, 5,227,000 people

Getting Domestic

Here I am, getting into the whole "keeping house" thing while my wife is away. Enjoy. Also available on Google Video here:

The Modern Dwarf

Imagine if your entire life you were someone else’s curiosity, a pet, a zoo animal, an object over which people “ooh” and “ahh”. I can’t imagine that it would be a pleasant experience. Think midget, circa 1600 CE. Now imagine that your entire life you were someone else’s curiosity, as before, but this time you are paid millions to be gawked at. The more people who point their fingers, the more prestige, fame and fortune come your way. You are invited to meet the President of the United States, your wedding to a fellow little person is front-page news and your name lives on in history. Think Tom Thumb, late 19th Century. The modern dwarf can thank people like Tom Thumb. The modern dwarf can now exploit his diminutive stature by acting in diverse roles such as Snow White or Star Wars. Alternatively, he can carry a copy of the equal opportunity act and sue the large-size pants off anyone who can even spell the word “discrimination”. The modern dwarf has career opportunities open to him

The Perfect Business

One of the oldest and well-tested truisms of business is to be the first in the market. If you are first on the scene with a new product or service not offered by anyone else, you are more likely to succeed. I was trying to think of a business I could start that would fit this requirement. Then, out of the blue, it came to me during a conversation with one of my colleagues. He said that if he was to start a terrorist organization, he wouldn’t call it something boring (think Al Jihad), he would name it something exciting, like a sports team (think Tamil Tigers). He is right. Your name means everything – how people perceive your organization is vital to your success. Do you think your terrorist organization would be respected if you called it “Belligerent Bunny Rabbits”? We live in a world of terrorism, where, like McDonalds, there’s a new group in the industry springing up on every street corner (see the US State Department’s list of terror organizations ). Now is the opportune tim

Low-Risk Strategies for Buying a Used Car

Someone challenged me to write about how to buy a used car. The simple answer to that is to find a car you are interested in, approach the seller, give him money and drive the car home. But that would be cheating my challenger. The topic should really be “low-risk strategies for buying a used car”. Although that title sounds more like a management text-book than it does a blog post, I think it more accurately describes the essence of my challenger’s challenge. So what are the low-risk strategies you can use when buying a used car? The answer is that there aren’t any. You just have to take your best shot. Sometimes you will be lucky and find a good car, and other times you will end up buying a vacuum cleaner that sucks your money right out of your pocket. But there are things that you can do to minimize the risk of buying a four-wheeled-dud. The first thing to do is to really ask yourself if you want to buy a used car or not. The high risk of wasting thousands on a lemon might be eno

The Ultimate Vacation

Where did you go for your last vacation? Disneyland? Hawaii? Europe? Colin went to Mongolia. He wrote about it in his most fascinating blog, creatively titled " Colin's Mongolian Adventure ". Let's not knock Colin. He went to a different destination - to a place where he could see something new and exciting, to challenge himself and come back with engaging stories and lasting memories. I hope Colin doesn't mind if I reproduce a small section of his blog: To summarize, everything in Mongolia can accurately be explained by merely adding the words "Crazy Mongolian" at the beginning of the name. (E.g. Crazy Mongolian bus drivers; Crazy Mongolian jungle birds; Crazy Mongolian construction workers; and Crazy Mongolian liver diseases.) This is truly the best I can explain the country. After all the planning, effort and expense he put into his adventure-trip to Mongolia, the best way he can summarize the place is to call the people "crazy"? Whatev

How to Open a Coconut

I was surfing the web and came across a very informative site called . It shouldn't surprise me that such a site exists, but I found it amusing that there is an entire website dedicated to showing you how to open a coconut. The way this website advises you to open the coconut is by delicately tapping holes in the end of the coconut and then draining the liquid (coconut water). Once the coconut water has been extracted, gently wrap the coconut in a towel and then sledge the thing with a hammer until pulverized. You may wish to bare your teeth, yell and think of something that makes you angry. I call that a bonus. The funny thing about this method is that at the top of the website are the following words, " but we humans can't just sit around and let monkeys show us up, right?" - yeah, right. Monkeys can crack open a coconut with their bare hands, a banana peel and a pebble, but we use rusty nails and hammers. Sure, we are much smarter than t

Who's fault is it, anyway?

According to this article in USA Today, the Dolphins' Cam Cameron, was fired from his position as coach. Why? The team finished with one win and fifteen losses. They fired the coach? Don't you think they should have fired the players? Let's see, was it the coach who zigged when he should have zagged? Was it the coach who dropped the ball? Was it the coach who tripped over his shoelaces at a critical moment? Certainly, the coach has overall responsibility for the players. He directs them where to run and what plays to make. He is the decider. He tells you when to play and when to sit on the bench. He sure does have a measure of responsibility. But if the players stink, they will lose the game matter how good the coach is. Think of sports as a war. You have the General sitting safely in a tent on friendly territory (the coach). A superior officer (the team captain) directs his men (the players) to carry out the General's orders. If the on-field officer doesn't do a