Food for Thought

Ever eaten cereal after you’ve just found ants crawling in it? Mmm… Kellogg’s Basic 4 (a cereal I’ve never even heard of until I opened the kitchen cupboard this morning)… now Kellogg’s Basic 5 with essential vile (oops, we meant “live”) black ants! Hey, it’s just like the picture on the box! Oh wait, that’s just ants crawling on the box too. Alrighty… stooping to new lows, some would say. Desperate hunger, foolhardy indifference, or bitter frugality?

This goes right up there in my list of Meals To Remember with:

-the fried cockroach á la bibimbab (when I was in a hole-in-the-wall Korean restaurant. Okay, our six-legged friend had to be picked out before I could eat the rest of my meal);

-the tomato-spinach-chicken-smoothie (when I had my wisdom teeth pulled out but was determined to have a “power dinner” nonetheless);

-the Gerber “apples and wild cherries” (hey, pretty tasty) and “chicken and wild rice” (hey, pretty nasty) baby food taste test (served over rice);

-the fuzzy and moldy breads that are “still good” if you just tear off the green parts (hey, if it was good enough for the hostess, it was good enough for me);

-the hard-boiled egg in ketchup water (Leave the ketchup alone! I swear it was the egg that did me in, which I refused to inform my hostesses about until many moons later);

-the questionably clumpy or sour milk products (or do they then count as by-products?);

-the bowl of hardened cold rice with Sprite (TM), with some pepper and Mexican hot sauce of questionable age for flavoring.  (It was the Mexican hot sauce that did me in, I swear.)

-and the many oh-so-tasty fast-food and cafeteria hamburgers I’ve downed throughout the days of my youth. (Oh, c’mon, you know what’s in there. Or do you?)

Well, what doesn’t kill you can only make you stronger… or at least you hope it doesn’t kill you later, or stunt your growth, or slowly turn your brain into mush and make you fully dependent on the delicate symbiotic relationship between your body and the various alien critters residing within… (Be still, little alien critter, be still. Your time will come.)

Speaking of food (oh, is that what we’re talking about?), I ate a whole apple pie by myself yesterday. Yup, half after lunch and half after dinner. And it was even less than a week old! And no crunchy and tangy ants in it either. Can you say “comfort food”? Sweet.

The dreadful Clear Form button

Pet Peeve #132: Web forms that have the “Clear form” button right next to the “Submit form” button.

Pet Peeve #133: Web forms that have the “Clear form” button, period.

Where possible, save yourself the grief of accidentally erasing all of your work by typing your thoughts out in a Notepad or TextEdit window, and copying and pasting it into a webform to submit to a blog, etc. That way, even if your Internet connection dies midway or you click the dreaded Clear Form button, you don’t lose all of your work.

Google Toolbar

Wow, I’m really liking the Google Toolbar (  How did I never consider it before?  It’s like always having a Google page up, ready to go.  It’s packed with features like “Search Current Site”, “Search Images”, “Highlight/go to search terms”, and “Translate to English” functions — basically a little of everything that makes Google so awesome.  Yeah, I really can’t be too upset by how Google keeps enticing away my employees with their chefs and massage parlors and foosball tables and lava lamps (and probably all-you-can-drink ketchup and Snapples).  Truly, they are off to a better place when they run away to be with Google.  And now they even added a Popup blocker to the toolbar.  Woohoo!  =D  Gee, thanks, employees-that-ran-away-to-be-in-a-better-place!  However, it seems a bit aggressive even with popups that I actually wanted.  I think I’m going to have to recommend that they add this nifty toy to all of the lab computers at Stanford University.  =]

Oh great, something just got into my right eye, and it’s starting to water up as I keep blinking.  Ack.  C’mon… sigh, time to find a mirror!

…Hmm… didn’t find anything.  =I

Hmm… Google: “Contact lens horror stories”

Contact Lens Dream

Here was my dream this morning:

It’s my wedding day (uh….yeah).  The bride (unspecified as to whom in the dream) has not arrived yet, so I’m waiting around in the chapel (?) in my tux.  I check my face in the mirror, and suddenly I discover this bright, rounded patch of red creeping up my right eye from under the bottom eyelid.  From my brief inspection in the mirror, I can’t tell what it is or how to get it out, so I go to the bathroom to find a better mirror.  While looking at the bathroom mirror, I kind of lower my chin and allow my right eye to roll up so that I expose more of the red patch.  As my eye rolls up and the red patch reveals itself as a perfectly round circle, I am both excited and horrified to find that it is a contact lens.  Aha!  It’s the one I thought I lost in the pool that day when my goggles flipped up after a dive.  I promptly dig my finger in to extricate the contact lens, and then I flick it away, and the bloody contact lens lands on the corner of the sink counter.  I am ecstatic to have found the lost contact lens (which has apparently been stuck to the bottom of my eye for a very long time).  Suddenly, the contact lens on the counter kind of inverts and explodes (you had to be there to see it), and I notice that it is not one contact, but two contact lenses, previously stuck together.  Anyway, all this blood spurts out when the first contact lens explodes and some of the droplets land on my tux.  It is only then that I seem to notice that how dingy and old my white dress shirt is.  Hmm, what’s up with that?  Why do I have a dingy white shirt?  The last thing I remember before waking out of my dream is wondering how I’m supposed to get the blood off my shirt.  But above all, I’m just relieved to find the contact that I lost a while ago!  (No idea why there’s a second red contact lens involved.  Preparing for a sequel?)

Interpretation(s), anyone?

Settlers of Catan

So, I got introduced to this game called Settlers of Catan during a after-work hangout about 3 years ago, and it didn’t seem all that interesting until maybe 2 weeks ago. Suddenly, I discover that EVERYONE plays it — coworkers, random strangers, trusted friends, great spiritual leaders… Something clicked in my head — “You know, I should become a better Settler of Catan.”

And for all those of you who haven’t yet played Settlers of Catan, don’t have a clue what it is, and are about to start skimming through the rest of this rant to see if there’s any non-Settlers-related thoughts, I must ask– what are you waiting for? You can start with the $39.99 classic boxed set (in German or English), and the $19.99 expansion set, or at least the $24.99 travel set. All this and more, at ( There’s even a Java version of it out on the web, but it’s no way nearly as fun. ( And I doubt Mayfair Games is particularly pleased with this unauthorized release of their flagship product.

Anyway, I was quite pleased with myself for having gotten back into this curious game, and the pace at which I was beginning to understand its intricacies. Then I got nosy and started digging around on the web. And there it struck me, quite unexpectedly — *GASP!!* Not everyone played it the way I had learned it! I began to panic.

I didn’t even realize until I checked the University of Catan FAQ ( that I’ve been very very bad, and have been unashamedly breaking the official rules of Settlers of Catan without even knowing it. Sure, I’m tempted to say that I’ve only played the game like 3 times (okay, okay, 4 times) and I didn’t know any better and that other people inadvertenly led me astray with their “house rules,” but really I am without excuse. The rules are written in English, and it isn’t even like a bad German translation or something — it’s actually written for people who primarily speak English, so the fact that I didn’t bother to read through all of it fearfully and with great care is the only explanation for my blatant negligence of the time-tested, time-honored rules that make Settlers of Catan such a great game.

So, for the purposes of my own public confession, and for the added benefit of all who have not bothered to read the Settlers of Catan Almanac carefully, or whom I have personally led astray or oppressed in my unorthodox teaching through example of the game, I now list a dozen rules of which I have broken or have been tempted to break in the course of discovery, settlement, and trade. In each case, I will state the actual rule or nuance, followed by my own diversion from the rule in brackets:

1. Trades may be initiated by anyone, but they all must be made with the person whose turn it is, and the person whose turn it is makes the final decision to trade. [We only allow someone to initiate a trade when it’s his turn.]

2. Trades are only legal when some number of resource cards are exchanged. You may not make “trades” where a player gives but does not receive any resource card in return. [We often allow people to give gifts and bribes to the person moving the robber around the board.]

3. Trades can only be done for resource cards. [We’ve traded development cards, promises of goodwill, and first-born children before.]

4. The number of cards you are holding is public information. [No hiding your cards or lying about what you have.]

5. The only development cards that have any effect on the game are those that are “played” or used. [Victory points and soldiers are not considered until you play them during your turn. Oops.]

6. The Longest Road is awarded to the person with the longest “unbroken” road. A settlement or city between two sections of road breaks it. [We always count the Longest Road regardless of the settlements and cities between the segements.]

7. If the bank doesn’t have enough resources to give everyone what they are due during the production stage, nobody gets anything. [Never had to deal with this, though I would’ve suggested that people have to fight for it or something.]

8. If the development card pile runs out, nobody can buy any more development cards. [Never had to deal with this, though I would’ve suggested that people put used cards back in the bottom of the pile.]

9. Each player must roll the dice first during his turn, except to play a development card. [No trading or building and trying to get rid of extra cards before you roll a 7.]

10. Victory point cards may be played on the same turn that they are drawn. [Never had to deal with this, but if somebody else was winning, I would’ve told him he can’t play that card until the next turn (meanwhile hoping desperately that I miraculously get to 10 points first).]

11. You may only play one development card per turn, with the exception of any number of victory point cards. [Never had to deal with someone trying to play a soldier and a monopoly and a year of plenty and a road building card during the same turn, and boy I would’ve used them all at once.]

12. All trading must be done before building, except in the 5-6 player expansion, where this rule is dropped. [Nobody seemed to care otherwise, and I was foolish enough to think that this was okay.]

Ahh, I feel much better now. =]

Currently watching: Drumline (2002)
Currently reading: The Blood of Strangers: Stories from Emergency Medicine, by Frank Huyler