Never too late to change bad traditions

7 04 2008

NewsI don’t go to grocery stores regularly, so it was somewhat surprising when I approached the checkout line and saw television screens at every lane for people to watch. The only thing that surprised me more was that the lady in front of me was carrying totes to put her groceries in instead of disposable bags. It’s like the most obvious way to save resources that the U.S. hasn’t promoted for decades.

plastic bag

Finally, things are about to change. Countries across the world are banning or taxing the use of plastic bags, including Italy, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, South Africa, and China beginning in June. Why customers have become so attached to their wasteful plastic bags, I’ll never know. Personally, I feel pretty bad any time I stuff a pile of them into a trash can. I think to myself, there has to be a way this could have been avoided. Finally, someone’s getting something right.

Putin meets with NATO leaders and algaculture

4 04 2008

ArticlesI personally have nothing against the University of Cincinnati’s newspaper, The News Record, but seriously…

On the front page of the April 3, 2008 issue, there is a headline above a picture reading Solar-power alternative. The picture depicts a field in front of one of the college buildings covered with pinwheels. Then beneath that is the caption for the photograph, which reads, “Pinwheels in the ground on McMicken Commons represented the 1,000 people that die from some form of terminal cancer every day.”


I am now absolutely lost on the intended meaning of the photo.

Perhaps the headline is implying that, because solar-power is not a worthwhile endeavor, we should offer our resources to some alternative cause, such as curing cancer. The irony, of course, would be that the pinwheels imitate sources of wind power, which is an alternative to solar-power. But what then does wind power have to do with terminal cancer? I would really like to know.

Or perhaps the the headline implies that a good alternative to solar power is wasting resources. Solar power is usually tagged when speaking of alternative forms of energy and environmental causes, but here there is none of that at all. All I see is a magnificent waste of plastic, in the form of pinwheels, promoting ideas completely contrary to those usually related to solar power. What else are we to believe other than that the university does not support environmental causes?

That last possibility is that someone wished to tag a photograph with a completely irrelevant headline to make it appear as if the University has some sort of relationship with alternative energy research that is most easily disseminated subliminally. If this is the case, I recommend insert random keywords like green, conservation, and algaculture into headlines whenever possible. Nothing sends subliminal messages like “Ethnic Unrest Continues in China and Algaculture.”

Danny Noriega the real dark horse?

26 02 2008

NewsMany people have labeled the smiling and embarassingly humble David Archuleta as American Idol 7’s dark horse to win. What these people don’t seem to realize is that he is the front runner. Front runners can’t be dark horses. Furthermore, David Archuleta and the word “dark” can hardly be used in the same sentence without a negation somewhere.


Danny Noriega, on the other hand, plays perfectly as a dark horse, perhaps not to go all the way to the end, but to last much longer than people expect him to. has already started encouraging votes for Danny, labeling him as this season’s Sanjaya Malakar. We all know how well Sanjaya did after bombing performances week after week.

However, I think that Danny has the upper hand against Sanjaya. Though “Jailhouse Rock” didn’t show off his vocal skills, his previous auditions proved he has a voice with way more potential than Sanjaya ever had. He also has the bonus of being memorable for reasons other than just his hair. His remarks to the judges felt much more like amused banter than the result of spitfire attitude that some have labeled to him. In that way he’s oddly likable, albeit in a completely different way than David.

Personalities aside, David and Danny are alarmingly similar. Their names have similar rings to them and the same distributions of syllables: David Archuleta, Danny Noriega. They both auditioned in San Diego. They both have green eyes, dark brown hair, thin body frames, and somewhat childish faces. They are only a year apart in age.

It should be fairly obvious by now what I’m driving at. They are clearly the same person, separated into two halves: the light and the dark. David Archuleta has the smooth voice, the ever-smiling face, the innocent reactions to praise, and the vote of probably every pre-teen girl across the country. Danny, the “evil” twin, has the solid voice, the witty remarks, the audacity to retort to Simon, and probably the most femininity of the ten guys left.

I suppose this all makes David the “light horse” to win the competition, and perhaps rightfully so. It’s interesting to wonder what would have happened had someone with the un-separated personalities of Danny and David auditioned for American Idol, some Davy Archiega. It’s possible he would have been rejected for being far too normal. Year after year, we’ve seen the judges go for the polar opposites, the ones who stand out among the rest, not just with their voices, but with their personalities as well. Against all the odds, we managed to get two polar opposites of the same person in the same season, and both of them will go far.

Pug eyes for world peace

10 02 2008

ObservationsI have seen some guilt-inducing advertisements before, but this one is just cruel:


What makes this ad even more sad is the fact that there is no false advertising or misleading commentary. I have absolutely no doubt that there are multiple pugs named Otis waiting to be adopted in animal shelters. I know this, but I like to keep it at the back of my mind, because thinking about all the dogs waiting for families is just too depressing. Adding another level of cruelty, the pug’s name is Otis, playing with my childhood memories of the movie, Milo and Otis:


In it, Milo the cat and Otis the pug go on adventures trying to survive in the wild. How can I not be emotionally affected by those sad eyes? Look into those eyes and you know you have to get a dog.

The haunted fountain revisited

7 02 2008

ObservationsYesterday I witnessed something strange: a water fountain on a path outside turning on and off for no apparent reason as I walked by. One could make the case that this was just a strange coincidence, that there is clearly something about the situation I don’t understand. However, just like yesterday when I reasoned that perceiving something with two senses implies that it actually occurred, witnessing the same coincidence twice means that there is no coincidence at all. And yes, it happened again.

It happened with similarity that nearly mirrored the first incident. I wasn’t paying attention when suddenly my ears are filled with the sound of trickling water. I look over and the same fountain is running again. I swear I would have stopped and checked it out, but I was in a hurry and kept walking. Just like last time, I took one final glance backward, and it was off. Creepy.

The next time I passed, I decided it was time to understand the workings of the fountain. I approached it and, as expected, nothing out of the ordinary happened. I pushed down the button. Moments later a spring of water shot out. I let go of the button. The water stopped. It’s amazing how a fountain doing something so ordinary can seem so odd.

Finally, I realized what I was supposed to do all along. The next time I passed the fountain, I drank from it. It was a quick drink, and the water tasted fairly normal, but it was a drink nonetheless. I have passed the drinking fountain multiple times since and nothing peculiar has happened. Hopefully this means I put the spirit attached to the fountain to rest, and it will no longer be there to haunt the passers-by. At the time, I was hoping for a “walking in to the light” moment like the ones on TV shows like “Ghost Whisperer,” but I suppose that was expecting too much. Perhaps I’ll simply never know what really happened.

Springing in the rain

6 02 2008

ObservationsI was walking across my university’s campus today beneath cloudy skies and a slight drizzle. Suddenly I heard a trickling of water that definitely was not natural. The source was a drinking fountain, found unnaturally just off the path in the middle of the green area of campus. I always wondered why they put it there, but it never really bothered me. This time, however, it was running, causing a full spout of water to be flowing out. The button was not pushed at all. I thought about thinking that it was an awful waste of water, but remembered first that the university probably wastes thousands of times that amount of water constantly elsewhere on campus.


I knew I wasn’t imagining it due to perceiving it with two senses. When simply hearing, smelling, or feeling something, it can be difficult to discern whether or not the event actually occurred. When both hearing and seeing, as I did, one can be fairly confident it actually happened. And, of course, that is also the best time for yet another curveball to be thrown. Glancing back just for a moment because I had witnessed something unnatural, I saw that, lo and behold, the drinking fountain was not running anymore.

I have concluded that the drinking fountain, for whatever reason, wanted me to drink from it. It clearly had no motion detection device but found a way to turn on and off while I was near. If not the drinking fountain itself, then the spirit of the drinking fountain, a guardian ghost of the fountain wanted me to drink from it. Unfortunately, people tend not to drink from water fountains when it’s raining, maybe because it’s simply ironic to pull water up from the ground to drink when it is dumping in bucketloads on your head. Regardless, I will reflect on this event and decide whether or not I should venture near the possessed drinking fountain again.

When normal is disturbing

22 01 2008

ObservationsSome time ago while visiting an amusement park, I noticed a girl carrying three big monkey stuffed animals in a jumble. Why anyone would need three big monkey stuffed animals is beyond me, almost as beyond me as why amusement parks insist on giving prizes so big they can’t even be carried. Regardless, this girl was waiting in line for a roller coaster near me and I didn’t think too much of it at the time. Then we boarded.

As I sat patiently, the girl, who by now had realized she couldn’t take all of her prizes on the ride with, walked to the edge of station where many bags had been unceremoniously thrown by boarding guests. The girl proceed to slowly pull each giant stuffed animal out of the pile she carried and carefully them down side by side against the wall as if they were small children. This should have bothered me only because the girl took so long, but it bothered me on many other levels.

I could think of five possibilities to explain what had just happened:

1. The girl preferred order over chaos, even in one of the most chaotic atmospheres possible. She simply wanted everything to look like she was used to them looking.

2. The girl thought people might think badly of her for throwing her prized monkeys as if she didn’t care for them. People might make assumptions that she isn’t a prissy princess.

3. The girl didn’t want the stuffed monkeys to get dirty, except where they would probably (I mean definitely) sitting once at home.

4. The girl didn’t even notice that she was making a decision at all; everything was guided by her subconscious.

5. The girl thought the monkeys wouldn’t like laying upside down or contorted and wished to accommodate whatever needs they might have.

To my wonderment, I could not decide which of those five choices corresponded best to the situation. While the fifth option was certainly the most amusing – I can only imagine what a tea party with three brightly colored monkeys is like – I think all of the choices suggest that she really wasn’t thinking at all. She was a fish out of water, a girl who acted the only way she knew how – with order – though she was in an environment that didn’t demand it. As a result, I think we all need to take some time and reflect on the bizarre motives behind choices we make and whether or not our free will is being used effectively.

After returning home, I felt a horrible need to turn all my stuffed animals upside down.


If this pictures bothers you, it’s because you’re normal.