STEVEBLOG Home on the Range

9Jul/111

Crossword Puzzles: Child’s play or playing you like a child?

Crossword puzzles are a great way to pass time on a rainy day, keep your mind sharp, spend some quality time with your loved ones, or make your latte last longer while you hold the best seats in the coffee bar forcing others to separate from their friends or go wander the rainy streets for somewhere to sit. While they probably have an entirely different history, I would have checked but the Wikipedia article was really boring, they are a natural extension from a child’s word search. Both puzzles have the puzzler trying to find words in a grid, just the grownup version does not explicitly tell you what words you are trying to find. Like a child, word searches are imbued the spirit of exploration and innocence; the magical words are hidden in plain sight and just need the dullness of reality to be stripped away. Crossword puzzles have abandoned those values to instead become a dry exercise of general knowledge retention; words can only go in specific places and even though a clue might have multiple answers, only one is correct. Have you ever stopped to think what other adult characteristics snuck into crosswords? No? That’s probably because you have never stopped to think, but do not worry, there is always someone else to think for you and today that is me. Here are some more qualities that crossword puzzles share with the real world.

The world wants you to fail

I am sure there are some nice people in your life that take joy in your success but they are not the world. “The World” is everyone else that you don’t know and unless you know a bunch of crossword makers, then you are out of luck here. There is a very simple reason why shows like MXC became so popular and why we collectively follow celebrities hoping they embarrass themselves; other people getting hurt is funny and we feel less successful if others are more successful than us. Naturally, this extends to crossword puzzles. Crossword puzzles dangle the proverbial carrot waiting for you take take that intellectual lunge into a pile of failure. You may be able to hide your failure by disposing of those partially filled puzzles but if you are playing with others, you can bet your idiotic suggestion will not be left unmocked, especially if you had been leading the word charge.

embigot Embigot? Do you even know the effect of the prefix “em” on a word like “bigot”? Inbigot would have made more sense, caveman.
Also, seriously, sheep are opile? Hey, I didn’t realize this was make up words Friday.

“You will fail” is generally left out of the fables I read growing up but it is ever so present amongst adults. Take that, judgemental crossword!

They are out to get you

Crossword puzzles seem like the creation of a whimsical games maker or the calculated product of a computer algorithm. Either way, you would expect the puzzle maker is either on your side or is not aware of your existence. The truth is that they thrive on your anguish. The most popular crossword puzzle is the New York Time’s Sunday crossword, which is known for its extreme difficulty. The tricky balance is that these puzzle makers need to string their audience along just enough for them to feel they can complete the crossword before crushing them with clues so obscure or ambiguous that they give up in frustration. On the plus side, they have not yet figured out how to punish us if we somehow manage to complete the puzzle.

18119_f260
Congratulations, you solved the crossword!

Failure is final

Chances are that you have heard the saying “you’re only as good as your last mistake”. Well crosswords like to drive that point home. Grownups play with pens because pencils are unprofessional. The one strength of the pencil is for correcting mistakes, which would be incredibly helpful for crossword puzzles. The puzzle makers know you use a pen, so they make sure to leave you with tiny boxes that don’t even let you properly scratch out words you got wrong. Once you have committed to a word, your only options are a barely legible correction or an unsolvable puzzle. That’s right, all it takes is one wrong word and you cannot solve the puzzle. Well, maybe if you fill in some imaginary words like embigot or opile. A favourite trick is to provide a clue with multiple answers that seem right to people who don’t really know for sure.

uranus Ain’t no rings here, just a black hole.
Also, they seemed to have compromised with “centeen” for “in the middle”. I guess sometimes it takes some time…

How much do you want to bet the players gave up and decided to try a new puzzle? If you answered, “for sure!”, then congratulations on not actually answering the question. We would have accepted any object relevant to wagers, such as a large denomination of money or your child’s saxophone. They did give up though.

Things are not always what they seem

Ever since us adults learned about subtext and subliminal messaging, we seem to have taken it as our duty to abuse them. We always use those concepts as much as possible from sarcastic insult-compliments to pilfering lunch money from children through ads. Well guess what. Our “friends”, the crossword puzzle makers are continuing that tradition. They have several ways to send us messages, sometimes the words in the grid form phrases when read in a certain way, other times a puzzle contains similar themes to invoke a response. My favourite, however, is taunting you with the left over clues. This is a very tricky method, being that they aim to have the most difficult clues act as thinly veiled taunts. Just think, you are scratching your head trying to figure out what the last few words are when you see it: a big F you.

magiceye
At this point it seems less like a list of clues and more like a magic eye poster of a big middle finger.

There you have it, not only do they want us to fail, they are also there to spit in our faces when we realize it. The best part? We can’t get enough of it. Now if you can excuse me, I need to grab my safety blanket and cry myself to sleep.

Your pal,

Steve

7Jan/108

Let’s do dunch

When I’m not travelling the world visiting historically important locations, emerging victorious from extreme competitions, saving the world, and generally being an exceptionally awesome guy, I like to spend some time advancing the global intellect. Sometimes I teach children to read, sometimes I guest lecture at the local university, and occasionally, if I’m really bored, I’ll write a paper and win the Nobel Peace prize. Today is not one of those days. No, today I’m focusing on a more important issue; the horrible ignorance that my most of my readers show to the English language. Don’t worry, I’m talking about the other readers…

Everyone knows the term for the meal between breakfast and lunch is brunch, but when posed the question regarding the meal between lunch and dinner, responses were far from unanimous. You’ll hear many options; linner, lunner, lupper, dinch, the meal between lunch and dinner, etc.. So today I will explain to you why that word should be dunch and how you can do your part to spread this word to the world.

First, let’s examine the word brunch and how it comes about. Brunch is made from the combination of “br” from breakfast and “unch” from lunch. Shocking, n’est pas? Now this poses several questions: why does the breakfast part come first? why do we take two letters from breakfast? Right now you are probably thinking two things, be and cause. Right now I am holding my palm to my face thinking of you thinking that. Some of you might even go so far as to think the “br” comes first because breakfast comes first. That’s a nice thought, but you forgot one important point. That point is that English is needlessly complex when it does not need to be.

The reason breakfast gets the prefix is because the word breakfast contains more characters that lunch. Some linguists claim it’s because breakfast has more syllables, but they are a bunch of crazy radicals who are soon to be exiled from the community. Now to the second part, why we take “br” and remove the “l”. This one is slightly more complicated, which is just what Sir Edmund B. English hoped for when he invented the language. We are actually taking all consonants before the first vowel of the prefixing word and adding it to the suffix word after removing all consonants before the first vowel of the suffix word. This ensures we have a proper English sounding word and not some mangled mess that sounds like it was made up by a Star Trek nerd trying to speak “Klingon”.

Now that we have established the rules, let’s apply them to the meal between lunch and dinner. Dinner has more letters, so we grab “d”. Lunch gets cut to “unch” as with brunch. Now jam them together like square peg in a circular hole and we get dunch!

Now that we have established what the word should be, you are probably wondering how you can help bring the word into common usage. If you are aren’t, you should have been. Unforgivable!

  • Schedule pointless, yet mandatory, meetings at work from 11am to 2pm. After the meetings, suggest that everyone goes out for dunch.
  • Create the “Dunch” article on Wikipedia. Conveniently, you can even link to this post as a reference.
  • Write a dieting book that encourages people to convert to two meals a day; brunch and dunch.
  • Befriend an editor of the Oxford English Dictionary. Gradually gain their total trust over several years through activities such as (but not limited to) landscaping their yard, playing on a sports team together, helping them overcome a childhood fear, throwing them surprise parties, serving in their wedding party, marrying their sibling, etc. Then, when they least suspect it, slip the definition of Dunch into the dictionary, slash their tires, and leave feces on their bed! Vengeance is yours!

Remember, we are all in this together until you get into trouble and I run off screaming “you’re on your own!”

Your pal,

Steve

Filed under: Intellemectual 8 Comments
5Jan/102

Welcome Twenty Ten

When I’m not travelling the world visiting historically important locations, emerging victorious from extreme competitions, saving the world, and generally being an exceptionally awesome guy, I like to spend some time advancing the global intellect. Sometimes I teach children to read, sometimes I guest lecture at the local university, and occasionally, if I’m really bored, I’ll write a paper and win the Nobel Peace prize. Today is not one of those days. No, today I’m focusing on a more important issue; the horrible ignorance that my most of my readers show to the English language. Don’t worry, I’m talking about the other readers…

Everyone knows the term for the meal between breakfast and lunch is brunch, but when posed the question regarding the meal between lunch and dinner, responses were far from unanimous. You’ll hear many options; linner, lunner, lupper, dinch, the meal between lunch and dinner, etc.. So today I will explain to you why that word should be dunch and how you can do your part to spread this word to the world.

First, let’s examine the word brunch and how it comes about. Brunch is made from the combination of “br” from breakfast and “unch” from lunch. Shocking, n’est pas? Now this poses several questions: why does the breakfast part come first? why do we take two letters from breakfast? Right now you are probably thinking two things, be and cause. Right now I am holding my palm to my face thinking of you thinking that. Some of you might even go so far as to think the “br” comes first because breakfast comes first. That’s a nice thought, but you forgot one important point. That point is that English is needlessly complex when it does not need to be.

The reason breakfast gets the prefix is because the word breakfast contains more characters that lunch. Some linguists claim it’s because breakfast has more syllables, but they are a bunch of crazy radicals who are soon to be exiled from the community. Now to the second part, why we take “br” and remove the “l”. This one is slightly more complicated, which is just what Sir Edmund B. English hoped for when he invented the language. We are actually taking all consonants before the first vowel of the prefixing word and adding it to the suffix word after removing all consonants before the first vowel of the suffix word. This ensures we have a proper English sounding word and not some mangled mess that sounds like it was made up by a Star Trek nerd trying to speak “Klingon”.

Now that we have established the rules, let’s apply them to the meal between lunch and dinner. Dinner has more letters, so we grab “d”. Lunch gets cut to “unch” as with brunch. Now jam them together like square peg in a circular hole and we get dunch!

Now that we have established what the word should be, you are probably wondering how you can help bring the word into common usage. If you are aren’t, you should have been. Unforgivable!

  • Schedule pointless, yet mandatory, meetings at work from 11am to 2pm. After the meetings, suggest that everyone goes out for dunch.
  • Create the “Dunch” article on Wikipedia. Conveniently, you can even link to this post as a reference.
  • Write a dieting book that encourages people to convert to two meals a day; brunch and dunch.
  • Befriend an editor of the Oxford English Dictionary. Gradually gain their total trust over several years through activities such as (but not limited to) landscaping their yard, playing on a sports team together, helping them overcome a childhood fear, throwing them surprise parties, serving in their wedding party, marrying their sibling, etc. Then, when they least suspect it, slip the definition of Dunch into the dictionary, slash their tires, and leave feces on their bed! Vengeance is yours!

Remember, we are all in this together until you get into trouble and I run off screaming “you’re on your own!”

Your pal,

Steve

I’m a few days late with my New Year’s post and I’m sorry. Not because I made my readers wait a bit longer than Johnny Come Update Frequently Lately’s blog. Seriously guys, how about a little less spamming the airways and a little more love. No, I’m sorry because without Steveblog updates my readers were forced to do something other than sit in their dark room constantly clicking refresh. Friends Family Random people on the street, please accept my sincere apologies for any troubles that were brought upon you by my socially inept readers. With that mushyness out of the way, let’s get to my New Year’s thoughts.

New Year’s is the perfect time to look back at the ending year and forward to the coming year. Most people do this by writing lists about the year’s highlights and talk about their resolutions. Those people would be better served by making their resolution “don’t be lame”. If anyone needs to know the important events from the past year, check my archive. Or better yet, read all about my accomplishments from the only news site worthy of my attention. I think we are all better served by taking a different look forward. Instead of making flimsy self promises, why don’t we look at what will happen in 2010. No, kiddo, scientists aren’t going to make it possible to grow wings on their heads to fly over morning rush hour… we’ll need to wait until 2016 for that.

Beware, brave reader, 2010 spoilers follow…

22Sep/090

What your do says about you

My doughnut psycho-analysis post was such a hit, that I figured it was time I spewed out some more life changing observations about you and the people you “love”. I use the term love very loosely because hiding in the bush across the street staring up to your object of affection’s window isn’t really love regardless of how often you carve it into your arm with a sharpened popsicle stick. Today’s topic is one that you’ll especially like since your reaction will be “hey, I have that! What is he going to reveal about me?!”. That’s right, I’m talking about hair (sorry Stu, you’ll just have to go back to looking in the mirror and crying).

Yes, hairdos have quite a bit to say about you but not always what you might think. For instance, blond medium length hair on a guy says that he’s a laid back fun loving guy, who probably spends Wednesday nights getting high and watching Wipeout.

owenwilson161 

Hey, did you know the sand is actually millions of tiny rocks?  

Take the slicked back brunette. There’s your classic anti-establishmentarian with a heart of gold and a jacket of leather.

galjamesdean1

  I live my life, not the life that those suit wearing, shirt tuckers want me to live.

Now what do you get when you combine the slick back coolness and fun loving blonde? Douchebag.

draco22

Hey guys, does this robe make my butt look big?

So now that we’ve established that your perception of hair is wrong we can start examining what hairstyles actually say. You better believe that if I have enough material to write a psychology textbook about doughnuts that I could write an encyclopedias worth of information about hair. Obviously I’m not going to write it all out at once because your stunted attention span could never handle it. Seriously, if you could read for more than 5 minutes you would probably be reading a book instead of this. So instead consider this the forward to my Haircyclopedia Steve-ica, a randomly recurring series on my favourite blog, and yours, Steveblog.

Your pal,

Steve

17Jul/098

One in a Fillion

Do you ever stop to think about why we use certain words? That’s rhetorical, I know you don’t stop to think because that implies you can think. I, on the other hand, have the cognitive capacity for intellectual musings, so I have been known to ponder oddities in the English language (or as I pronounce it, the engish langij). The words that I found particularly interesting today are million, billion, trillion, and zillion. The relative values of these numbers are quite well known, but I’ve drawn a chart to help the slower people out there.

relativenumbers

The commonly accepted relative sizes of made up numbers

People commonly treat billion and trillion as “doubles” of the previous amount, probably because we can easily imagine double over thousand. Million has its root of “milli”, which explains why it is the smallest of the big numbers. Billion comes from “bigger than million” and bigillion was too tough to say. Trillion is for “third biggest”. The real question is why the most insanely big number is zillion. The letter “Z” is the be all and end all of letters, however when tied to numbers it usually goes with zero and zilch. I’m guessing the same type of person who coined zillion also coined Coke Zero. Sure it’s somewhat descriptive of the product but zero is a loser number.

xyz

Oh, sad face emoticon.

If there’s one thing I hope you take out of this, it’s that Z sucks. If there’s two things you take out of this, it should be that a Fillion is bigger than a zillion.

captain-hammer

I am really, really, really, really, really, … really, really big mash-e-matic machine!

Your pal,

Steve

Filed under: Intellemectual 8 Comments
11May/090

The pen is mightier than the pencil

I’m anti-pencil. It’s a an odd thing to be against, being that it is mainly just a personal choice and quite inconsequential overall, but it’s something that I truly believe in. My stance is especially strange being that I pretty much refused to write with a pen until high school, and even then only for classes that forced us to hand in work in pen.

At the time, I suppose that I was won over by my fancy side click mechanical pencil, which wrote clearly than my smudgy cheap pens, and the handy eraser. You know what? That eraser is a crutch. It’s the literary equivalent of only writing the perfect sentence; the artistic equivalent of only drawing a Mona Lisa; the hockey equivalent of only playing if you score a hat trick; The Ghostbusters cartoon equivalent of only having fans because it had the same name as a popular movie. Wait, I’m not sure if the last one supports or disports my point. Also strange is that my spell checker said disports is a word; probably not what I mean but it’s a word. Even more strange is that I use a spell checker.

The point is that the eraser holds people back from success. It is too easy to become focused on the aesthetics or quality of small segments of the overall project. By focusing too much on the little details you can easily destroy the creative thought process. With a pen, you forget about mistakes quickly and learn to scratch out things you don’t want. That seemingly unimportant content is never completely lost with pens, unless you use that creative toxin, whiteout. Erasable ink is pretty stupid too. Let’s all get permanently temporary tattoos!

We as a people need to learn to accept mistakes and focus on continuing instead of continually backtracking. I know I accept your mistakes. Well, sometimes I accept them… occasionally. Ok, so I never accept your mistakes, but that’s just because I’m so unfamiliar with mistakes, never having made any myself. For you tree hugging hippie folks out there, pens contain less carbon and murdered tress. So put down those pencils, pick up a pen, and join the revolution frivolous campaign against the evil pencil industry!

Your pal,

Steve

26Mar/090

The speed of beer

In honour of the upcoming baseball season, I think it's time to explain "The Speed of Beer". This term is pretty much the key to enjoying the classic summer past time. Really, most people cannot stand to watch baseball because it is painfully slow. I'm pretty sure you could apply three coats of paint to your house waiting for the pitcher to stop scratching his nuts and throw the ball. Boredom is the number two killer of entertainment (Carrot Top being number one), and an entertainment free night is never a good night.

This is where relativity comes into play. Science has fancy schmancy explanations about how speed can be interpreted differently depending on the observer. The secret to enjoying baseball is changing your frame of reference. Baseball moves at the speed of beer; which is defined as the speed of events that can be absorbed whilst under the influence of alcohol. Slowing yourself down not only makes baseball tolerable, it actually makes it fun to watch because you can actually follow everything that is happening.

Relativespeeds

Relative speeds of stuff

Now, if you happen to be an elderly dog with leprosy, then you'll need to speed yourself up. I recommend rat poison for that.

Your pal,
Steve

23Mar/090

You are what you eat

 

It’s amazing the insight you can get into people from mundane, every day objects. Whether you subscribe to Hinduism, are crazy awesome, are tripping on LSD, or are just really, really creepy (sorry, but you are), chances are you’ve felt some sort of connection to seemingly random objects. It could be a cherished childhood blanket, a favourite t-shirt, a prized nose booger (as opposed to prized booger from elsewhere, sicko), or even a pet rock. These simple connections are not always easy to explain; sure that blanket has memories attached, but so does that soiled pair of underwear you keep around but you don’t show that off do you?

Anyway, there’s a particular food that is very telling on a person’s character; doughnuts (donuts from now on because I don’t feel like typing the whole thing out). Why donuts? Donuts encompass a wide range of tastes, textures, and shapes, with each of these attributes shedding valuable insight into your soul. Before I can get into some specifics on donut to personality discussion, let’s look a little more in depth at donuts themselves. For starters, donuts come in all different shapes and sizes.

 

donuts

Figure 1: Donuts in different shapes and sizes

As my amazing diagram illustrates, donuts can be round with a hole, round with filling, round with a hole and sauce, a hole, round with a hole and sprinkles, and a giant turd, and so on. I could write an entire book on donuts, but I’m lazy and definitely don’t want to give that away for free, so my expert psycho-analysis will be limited to these 6 donuts.

Donut 1: Old fashioned plain

Contrary to popular belief, those who eat these are not dull, boring people. They live such rich and exciting lives that they don’t need their food to be exciting. They are, however, soulless ghouls lacking a true center.

Donut 2: Boston cream

Yeah, I know the filling isn’t supposed to be red… These people are the dull, boring people. Eating chocolate laced donut with creamy wholesome filling is way to safe in the donut realm. Heck, even apple fritter freaks have more pistachio than these folks.

Donut 3: Chocolate dip

You’d think these people would be like Boston creamers, only lamer but you’d be wrong. Thankfully, I’m here to set you straight. Chocolate dippers are the naughty schoolgirls of donuts. A safe exterior with a soulless streak of kinky. Buyer beware!

Donut 4: Shiny Timbit thing

You may have noticed the linking of donut centers to souls (although you probably didn’t because you are not all that swift). Timbit eaters are really just grown up children. They are still youthful and enthusiastic, full of idealistic dreams. That really shouldn’t be warming your heart, perv.

Donut 5: Sparkles

OH MY GOD!!!! SPARKLESS!!!!!11!!!

Donut 6: Turdling

It’s a piece of poo. Really. Anyone who eats these are desperate and will settle for anything. In other words, “Dear Diary: Jackpot!”

I hope this has been enlightening to you all (especially you dirty turd eaters). You’re probably curious what my favourite donut is, and you know what? I’m actually going to tell you. My favourite donut is the thing I get 99% of the time I go to donut shops; black coffee. Take that Freud.

Your pal,

Steve

10Feb/090

Science Rules!

As you may or may not know, I am a classically trained scientist. Being a scientist has taught me many things, one of which being that I am better than the average person. Tonight, I decided to put into practice another of my teachings (although I’m still better than you). This evening I conducted possibly the greatest experiment of my young life; the mixed boot! So without further delay, here is my report!

The Mixed Boot: A study on flavour saturation

Background

From the beginning of time, science has not only attempted to solve the mysteries of the universe, but to also confirm what we already know. Trying to quantify the experiences of human senses falls under both categories, as every is able to experience senses however the methods and processes of them are rather difficult to explain. The sense of taste is a particularly difficult one to deal with, as it is highly subjective. Combining various distinct flavours can result in one particularly awesome flavour, such as Dr. Pepper [1], or a several distinct flavour layers, such as a root beer float.

Hypothesis

I predict that combining 3 distinct beverages in one container will produce multiple flavour layers.

Apparatus

1 Boot (approx. 1 fluid litre)

1 Rickard’s Red (approx 341 mL)

1 Rickard’s White (approx 341 mL)

1 Rickard’s Honey Brown (approx 341 mL)

Procedure

1. Pour the entire contents of the Honey Brown into the boot. Wait for any head to settle.

2. Carefully pour the entire contents of the Red into the boot, trying to minimize mixing.

3. Carefully pour the entire contents of the White into the boot, trying to minimize mixing.

4. Drink.

Results

As expected, the wonderful taste of each beverage can be uniquely identified. In addition to the three excellent flavours, two additional hybrid flavours were created at the boundary layers; a bold yet light flavour at the White/Red junction and a sweet and robust flavour at the Red/Brown layer.

Conclusion

Combining beverages can not only preserve their original flavours, but also introduce interesting new flavours into the equation. While the results of this report are quite favourable, further study is necessary to determine ideal flavour combinations.

References

[1] Dr. Juan Pepper, “Creating the ultimate cola with 23 distinct flavours”, Mexican Beverages Quarterly, 1918.

 

On a personal note, I would like to thank Beer for its assistance in such an important scientific process.

Your pal,

Steve