Irony Is…

Setting your blog to “Blackout” and breaking the site record for most hits & views in one day!

Thank you to my readers who have been patiently letting me vent my spleen about CISPA for the past few days. If you happen to also be following me on twitter, I will be resuming my usual, lighthearted and random tweets and promise to stop bombarding you with my CISPA- hate.

Although, rest assured, I WILL be tracking the bill through legislature. If I start pulling my soapbox back out, you have nobody to blame but those silly politicians who insist on trying to take our privacy rights away.

In the meantime, I think it’s time to lighten the mood around here, don’t you think? One could even say it’s time to “Levitate.” This dancer goes by iGlide. I think he could teach us a thing or two about the subject.

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Happy Zombie Cesar Chavez Day!

Credit: Rio Yañez

Credit: Rio Yañez

So, I guess there are some people who are creating a big stink about the fact that Google has decided to feature Cesar Chavez’ birthday on their homepage rather than Easter.

Personally, I find it rather refreshing. Actually, it’s funny. We never hear people complaining about the fact that Google hasn’t properly acknowledged Ramadan or Passover, do we?

After all, it isn’t like we have a shortage of Muslims or Jews in the United States. Being a secular person myself, I sometimes forget that there are people who would choose to make such mountains out of molehills.

To be honest, I had almost completely forgotten that Easter was this weekend. Which made for a rather pleasant surprise when I found out I had a paid holiday coming up in the form of Good Friday. I may not be religious, but I’ll take a paid holiday anytime!

Of course that also meant I had to deal with the inconvenience of the grocery stores and retail shops being closed today, so I guess it ends up being a wash.

Trust me, I have nothing against Easter. I’m all for celebrating Spring and rebirth, whether it’s in a religious capacity or just a natural one! Many people believe this was a pagan holiday LONG before the Christians ever made it official, anyway.

So, whether you’re celebrating the resurrection of Jesus, fertility and rebirth, the newly begun Spring season, zombie Jesus, Cesar Chavez’s birthday, or just really, really like eating hard-boiled eggs…here’s hoping you have a wonderful Sunday!

Oh yeah, also wanted to properly credit the artwork on this post. It can be found on El Rio’s flickr page.

Time and Teleportation

A remarkably accurate visual of my concept of time.

I’m one of those people that is perpetually late. It doesn’t matter how much earlier I wake up, or how fast I set my clock (currently fifteen minutes ahead of schedule,) I’m still going to be at least five minutes late.

More often, I’m running ten or fifteen minutes behind schedule. It wouldn’t surprise me to find out I was, literally, born late. (I’ll have to ask Mom for confirmation.)

Admittedly, being late has gotten me into trouble; usually with an exasperated boss at work.

The branch I worked at previous to the one I’m in now has a manager that is very punctual and very precise. My running late was a constant, daily, offense to her.

Of course, it didn’t help that my commute was an hour and a half long down the main traffic corridors for my state. So, even when I (somehow) managed to get myself out of the door on time, there was inevitably an accident or breakdown that had traffic snarled for miles.

My previous manager and I already had our personality conflicts and differences. I’ve mentioned before my inclination to be free-formed and spirited. This didn’t exactly fit into her structured and measured ways. My being late was just a morning reminder of how dissimilar we were.

Luckily, I work in a new branch with a manager that has been surprisingly understanding of my tardy habit. I’m also usually the person willing to stay a bit late for a client and make sure to tie up all the loose ends at the end of the day, so I think he feels it’s a pretty good trade-off.

Unfortunately, work isn’t the only place I’m late. As I’ve said, I can’t be on time to save my life! Sadly, it always seems like it’s a different reason every time. Whether it’s to meet up with friends for dinner, to get together with my sister at the gym, or just to catch a movie…chances are, I’m late.

Really, if I could pinpoint exactly what made me late all the time, I would try to fix it! However, after 35 years, I don’t see me resolving this issue any time soon. Sometimes, the reason is traffic. Other times, I’ve gotten lost. Or, maybe it’s because I can’t find my keys, or the right pair of shoes.

Sometimes, I get focused on something completely unrelated and lose track of the time altogether. Thankfully, most of the people who know me have come to expect that I’ll be late and plan accordingly.

I think my problem stems from the same place that makes me bad with directions. Sort of a time/ space deficiency. Most of the time, I’m not SUPER late, just 5-15 minutes late. What I’ve found is that I’m usually ready and walking out the door right when I should be arriving wherever I’m going. There’s a constant underestimation of how long it will take to get to my destination.

That being said, I can’t help wishing there was something that could ease my propensity for being late. Something like…teleportation devices, perhaps.

“Come again?! Did you just say, teleportation devices?”

Centralized Teleportation Bays would look like Stargate!

Yes! Teleportation devices!

Think about it. How long have we lived in a society with this concept? Every decade of sci-fi books, shows, and movies- since gosh knows when- has had the idea of these things.

Where are our scientists?! Why hasn’t anybody seriously taken a look at this and made it happen?

Come on, people, we need to prioritize!

I’ve often thought about how much I wish such technology existed as I was rushing around my house trying to gather my phone, charger, keys, shoes, handbag and tripping out the door.

Similar to subway stops, centralized teleportation bays (or CTB, for short) would be useful for main or common destinations. If you want to go downtown, you could arrive at a CTB. This would also help decrease instances of random people showing up in the middle of busy intersections.

However, I’ve decided that we couldn’t rely solely on CTBs for travel because I probably wouldn’t be able to get myself to the bay on time and then I REALLY wouldn’t have an excuse for why I was late.

To make this idea really work, there would also have to be a way to beam yourself from wherever you happened to be and take you to any location chosen. Since our society already has well functioning GPS capabilities, having your personal teleportation device know where to pick you up shouldn’t be a problem.

For private residences, or less public use, there could also be teleportation welcome mats. That way people couldn’t just randomly pop up in the middle of your living room, but would be able to show up right outside your door.

These welcome mats would have various settings to let people know if you were open to accepting visitors. So, if you weren’t wanting to be disturbed, you could just set it to respond to any incoming coordinates that you were not available.

It would be kind of like Skype or how visual phones can block the person calling from being able to see you if you’re indecently exposed (or when your hair is a wreck.)

In order for the contraptions to function, they’d probably need a sample of DNA from the traveler. Blood wouldn’t be necessary; a strand of hair would do. (Just make sure it isn’t a random strand of cat hair.) That way, the devices would be able to reconstitute your dematerialized body once you’ve arrived at your destination.

Most people would have a personalized device that was only theirs. Once the DNA was logged into the system, it wouldn’t need any additional samples. However, it would be possible to also share devices, if necessary. Kind of like how a motorcyclist has their own helmet, but can also carry a spare for a passenger.

In order to select a destination, I think you could use two methods. First off, it’d be possible to just punch in the longitude/ latitude of the place you were wanting to arrive.

Unfortunately, most people probably wouldn’t know, or be able to remember, a longitude/ latitude coordinate. So, if you wanted to go to a specific teleportation bay or welcome mat, then you could punch in the “address.”

It would be similar to how we use the internet today. All sites have IP addresses, but most people know how to navigate to a website using the URL.

Remember when the internet first started taking off and businesses were just getting into having their own websites? It seemed like such a novelty when a commercial would come on the television and the company would post their web address at the bottom!

(Oh, no? You don’t remember that? Damn, I might be showing my age. Well, the same phenomenon happened when Facebook first came out and companies started posting their Facebook pages.)

Blue, glow-in-the-dark hula hoops not included.

Another thing I’m thinking is the teleportation devices could be small enough to accessorize. In fact, there could be a new industry for teleportation fashion! Belt buckles, shoes, earrings, cuffed bracelets, could all be cleverly concealed devices that also help you travel with the push of a button!

Think of all the cool, new Coach bags, or Gucci sunglasses that would have the devices incorporated into their logo.

As you can see, I’ve spent entirely too much time with this idea and just had to share it! Hopefully, some brilliant scientists will stumble upon this post and become inspired to take up the idea in earnest.

It hasn’t happened yet, but maybe they’re just running late…

Nam-Pla Prik

The other night, Terry and I discovered a new Thai restaurant that was one of the best I’ve been to in a very long time. As you can imagine, I can be pretty picky about my Thai restaurants.

Unfortunately, it seems like the restaurants I’ve frequented lately has served a pale facsmile to authentic Thai food.

When I was growing up, my dad once explained to me that Thai food is the pursuit of a harmonious blend of the four “S’s.” The four S’s comprise of Salty, Sour, Spicy and Sweet. If you can combine these four things seamlessly, then you have the perfect Thai dish.

Of course, it’s subject to interpretation, as all food is. So, my perfect blend would be different then say…Terry’s perfect blend.

In fact, we’ve often joked that I may be half-Thai, but he has the Thai tongue. That’s because I don’t like super spicy food and Thais are notorious for their ability to spice any dish up.

I remember the first time Terry and I went out to eat with my grandparents, Dad, and his girlfriend, Nuch. All night long, Terry would be reaching for the spicy condiments. Every time he’d get it near to hand, my grandma would calmly take it and move it to the other end of the table.

I don’t think she even realized she was doing it! I suspect it was an unconscious gesture to save his poor, wimpy, white tongue from the cruel ramifications of the common Thai chili called, prik kee noo. (Which, little factoid, literally means “mouse-shit chilies.”)

Little did she know that Terry LOVES spicy things. So, every time he’d watch her move the condiment away from him, he would enlist the aid of Nuch to retrieve it and pass it back.

I think this must have happened a dozen times throughout the course of dinner. It became a game of sorts to see how long it would take for my grandma to notice the forboding condiment putting my husband in harm’s way.

While Terry likes the peppers, his absolute favorite Thai condiment is called nam-pla prik. Nam-pla is fish sauce (Nam = “water” Pla = “fish”.) Prik means chili. So, basically nam-pla prik is spicy fish sauce.

Nam-pla prik is one of those sauces that’s ubiquitous in Thai dining. It’s on par with how many western cultures apply salt and pepper, and can be used in just about any rice dish. Terry adores it and any time we go to a Thai restaurant he never fails to request some.

Most Thai restaurants will often supply some free of charge if you request it. I think it’s seen as a sign that you know how to eat Thai food properly, as we always get knowing looks once they realize we like it.

One time, when we were visiting Thailand, my grandma and I took Terry to meet grandma’s older sister, Grandma Glang. Although Grandma Glang was barely mobile, and largely stayed in her house, she was one of the most vivacious and warm-hearted women I’ve had the pleasure of knowing.

Grandma Glang had a smile that welcomed anybody who saw it and a hearty laugh that came straight from her soul and out through her belly. Her health had been failing for quite a long time, and it was important to me that Terry get a chance to meet her, because I wasn’t sure how long it would be before we’d be back to visit.

So, there we were, sitting in her living room, and the two grandmas are talking up a storm- with only one problem, it was all in Thai. I know a smattering of Thai (what I like to call “Taxi Thai”) but neither one of us were following the conversation. We were basically just sitting there politely and maintaining slightly vacant smiles on our faces.

After awhile, my grandma stops and turns to Terry and teasingly says, “HaHa! You don’t know what we’re saying!”

At which point, in an effort to engage us, Grandma Glang turns to Terry and says, “Have you learned any Thai words since you’ve been here?”

Now, there are a few basic vocabulary words that most travelers will learn when they head to Thailand. Since Thai is gender based, females will end their words and sentences with the suffix, “ka.” Men, end theirs with the suffix, “krup.”

For example, a greeting in Thai for women is “Sawa-dee, ka” and for men it is, “Sawa-dee, krup.” This universal acknowledgement serves the purpose for both hello and good-bye, which makes it a pretty useful first phrase for most people.

Another common phrase is how to say, “Thank you.” “Kup-koon, ka” or “Kup-koon, krup” is another one of those handy words that people learn right away.

However, instead of either one of these expected phrases, Terry turned to Grandma Glang and said, “Nam-pla prik.”

Grandma Glang threw her head back and bellowed out a roar of laughter! My own grandma’s eyes got huge and twinkly. She broke out into a giant grin and said, “What did you say?! Nam-pla prik?!”

As this revelation was confirmed, Grandma Glang’s eyes were streaming with tears and she was just laughing and laughing. Her cheeks were damp with humor. She just couldn’t get over the fact that out of ALL the words Terry could have chosen to learn, he chose his favorite condiment first.

Unfortunately, Grandma Glang has since passed away, but every time I see nam-pla prik, I remember her joy in that moment. I love that my last memory is of her laughing about Terry and his nam-pla prik.