Football Conversations

As a non-football watcher, I’ve spent many a conversation pretending to have watched something I didn’t, or to care about something I don’t, and to use grammatically unsound complex sentences of negation.

At first, I would maintain the charade as football fans, when discussing football, are complete conversational narcissists, and would never notice that I wasn’t adding anything meaningful to the conversation.  These one-sided discussions would invariably crescendo to an emotionally-charged climax, upon which I would just agree with whatever was said last and laugh, which in turn led to some mutual conclusion that escaped me because I don’t watch football.

Now, I just don’t care enough about garnering favor with random people at the coffee station, so I don’t humor the smalltalk anymore, or so was my intent.  Unfortunately, a surprising majority of people take the dismissive comment to be a joke (for what kind of American doesn’t watch football?), and interpret it as encouragement–thus putting me into the conversation anyway.

So I decided that, as it’s been said: If you can’t beat ’em–kill everyone.  Or rather, inwardly sigh sadly and pretend to follow along.  But I need assistance.  I need information…obtained through any other means than reading, watching TV, or conversing with my fell Man.

I needed an aggregator and summarizer.  I needed the absolute bare minimum content required to form a cohesive thought.  I needed the equivalent of a Twitter feed of sports commentary, but without the racism/sexism/homophobia (the entire social aspect, basically).  I needed a means by which to trawl football articles and identify the most-used words, negating general sentence structure such as definite articles and conjunctions.

Fortunately I found this site: wordcounter.net.  Probably not its intended use–I began pasting the top football news articles into its form and analyzing their content.  I checked 5 such posts, and compiled their keywords:

The first two articles didn’t have enough meaningful content for a full 10 words

Okay, I could work with this.  This Bryant fellow seems to be a highlight.  I’m sure I could muddle through the rest.

I decided to test my theory on Liz, and texted her the following message:

“I heard that in Bryant’s week one, he scored enough points that it’ll be his big season.  He’ll make a good five-star Fantasy Football pick.  Despite the initial loss, Arkansas will recover with enough victories to stay in the running.”

Liz responded:

“What are you reading?”

She was intrigued!  Had I pulled it off?!  I replied, ambiguously:

“Just the highlights.”

She validated my success by sending me an unrelated photo of a dog that was up for adoption.

…Okay, maybe my method needs a little refinement.  Maybe I can pull a larger sampling of articles and write a formula to analyze the character strings.

Or maybe, just maybe…when I tell you I don’t watch football you could stop talking to me about football and I wouldn’t have to design a logic-based analysis of textual media to formulate responses to your banal and pointless rambling.  Now quit hogging the coffee machine.

–Simon

Halloween Costumes

“Hey, who’s Doc Holliday?”  He gestured in my direction as he spoke with my boss.  A colleague, he was in town to meet the rest of the team that worked at this location.  And as what so often happens when meeting people who are normally only a voice, I failed to place the face with a name.  Apparently, he suffered from the same problem, and chose to associate an actor’s particular character with my own.

I’ll note that no one ever sees me and says: “Hey!  He looks like George Clooney!  So devilishly handsome!”.  No, instead I was being compared to Val Kilmer’s character–the emaciated borderline psychopath on the cusp of death from Consumption.  That was me.  And it wasn’t the last time that I would hear that observation.

In truth, I had never seen the entirety of Tombstone.  As far as Wyatt Earp movies went, I found it to be a forced rendition with unnecessary drama.  The story itself is one of violence and drama, so I felt it odd that they pushed it so.  Plus, it didn’t really address Holliday’s backstory.  Instead, he just kind of shows up as a stylish badass with an uncanny ability to attract the ladies, despite his debilitating and infectious disease.  I guess if I was going to be compared to someone, it was a lot better than Elijah Wood’s Frodo.  I could live with it: a dying wealthy gunslinger with sexy ladies.  Fine.

So when the office held a costume contest for Halloween, I decided to see just how convincing the emulation could be.  I bought a cheap black cowboy hat and red vest.  The rest of the outfit I conveniently already possessed, down to the silver pocketwatch.  I even shaved (though I required mascara to darken the mustache that was increasingly turning white).

After much consideration, I left the shotgun at home

It’s not every day that I can make the security guard burst out laughing.

In the end, I lost the contest to Mary Poppins (bitch).  But more importantly were the costume assessments I received.  Notably, from multiple people, that my costume wasn’t all that different from the way I normally dress, and were it not for the hat, they might not have even noticed it was a costume at all.

I guess, in the end, the comparison had been accurate all along.  For better or worse, I’m now permanently associated with the persona.

I’m your Huckleberry.

–Simon

Counter-Stalker

I’m sure at some point I’ve complained about internet tracking.  There’s no way I haven’t, but I can’t find the right article to link to at the moment.  So instead, I’ll ramble on for a bit about the over-discussed and tired topic.

I did find this topic, wherein I discussed my router upgrade.  Recently, the manufacturer pushed an update to it, and in this update I found some more robust traffic management and firewall tools.  Naturally, I poked around, and discovered that I could control domain blocking with more refinement.  On a whim–well, more than a whim really–I blocked Facebook and some other well-known web analytic and tracking domains in a custom rule that I then assigned to all my personal devices.

The result was even worse than I had suspected.  There were all manner of things that were linking to Facebook.  Even if I chose to ignore all Facebook prompts, applications and pages were still running their scripts in the background.  Why?!  The question, of course, is rhetorical.

One more incremental step in fighting for internet privacy.

–Simon

Elusive Photogenics

A couple weeks back, I bought a new aquarium.  This reminded me that my main aquarium really needed a pruning, especially so as it was starkly contrasted to the Amano-style tank in the basement.  And a pruning is really not an arduous undertaking, so I finally forced myself to do it.  Behold:

I’ve always struggled to get a good close-up photo of that tank.  I think digital consumer camera technology finally advanced enough to make it possible.  Oooo, purdy.

–Simon