Thursday, February 19, 2009

Not Even ONCE!

I like those meth commercials (okay, maybe they're anti-meth commercials) with the "not even once" punchline. I certainly hope they're successful, as I'm fairly certain that meth is a bad thing. On the other hand, maybe I'm really susceptible to advertising, and meth is a really good thing, but some advertising agency hired by the anti-meth lobbyists have done a great job at convincing me that it's bad!

I have GOT to stop second-guessing my beliefs.

As an aside, the first one I saw was the one with the teen girl in the shower, where she looks down and sees blood flowing into the drain. My first thought was "why, that's not Sissy Spacek!", and my second, after realizing how stupid my first thought was, was "Hmmm ... is this National Menarche Preparedness & Education Month? 'Cause I thought this was taken care of in gym class."

Anyway, the ads are pretty scary, and I really hope that they're effective. Because I know. I know how bad it can be. Oh god, I know. And I actually think I have something a little more real, a little more hard-hitting, than some footage of abstract possibilities of hanging in an alley with pock-marked hos laughing at you.

I tried meth for the first time last week.

Now I'm a person with a little self confidence. Not very much, not like the kind that would make me think that a girl would actually like me, but enough to think that a drug couldn't control me.


Within 10 minutes, I started tearing out the walls ...

ZOMG! .. it felt so good ... just raw anger and destruction .. that fucking wall had been holding me back my whole life ... I just wanted to rip it apart ...

But then I started thinking wierd things about being ... ummm, like a mole, or something, and the whole thing seemed liked a real-life game of Dig-Dug ...

Well, since I'd lost all my mad Dig-Dug skillz, due to time and the meth, I just tore out the whole fucking wall ...

I'm done. Never again. Even back in the PCP days, when they said "OMG you'll think you can fly and kill yourself!", it wasn't this bad, because I took it once and I really COULD fly. Granted, I took it in the airport on the way to Houston, and actually DID fly, but still. I didn't grab a crowbar and tear out any walls.

So kids! Don't do meth! Angel dust in an airport ... okay. Blogging drunk ... okay. Meth .. BAD!

Just to sort of get back to that bloody pock-marked approach of the TV ads ...

Yes, you will bleed out of places you're not supposed to bleed, and you will pick at them.


Friday, February 13, 2009

This Is Why I Don't Like Valentine's Day

The world of advertising is pretty fascinating. The way that particular markets and audiences are identified and targeted can be a work of genius, and often downright devious. I’m sure there’s a special spot in whatever punitive afterlife you happen to believe in for the folks who market tobacco products specifically to kids, for example. Or whoever came up with the Pillsbury Doughboy – man, I hate that little sonuvabitch. We’re all susceptible, of course, whether we believe it or not, and disirregardless of whether we acknowledge it or not on a conscious level. Denial isn’t just French for “of nial.” (That “river in Egypt” thing is SO last century.)

Modern technology has taken the targeting to previously unimaginable levels. Every click of that mouse on the internet means the advertising companies know a little bit more about you. They’re watching, trust me. I mean, I had no idea there even was a NAMPGLA, much less that they have a quarterly periodical. I just happen to think that pygmy goats are cute, that’s all, but one search on the google, and they’ve got their hooks in me. I do have to admire their tenacity in their efforts to sell me a subscription, if not their questionable attitudes toward interspecial interactions.

So as annoying as the micro-targeting might be, you have to be pretty impressed by the technology and information that the ad people have and how they use it to really focus in at the individual level. Of course, information in and of itself is neither good nor bad, and for every rationally defensible (if not admirable) use of it, someone will come up with something nefarious. For example, I must have really pissed someone off at the New England Confectionery Company (NECCO), and they obviously know who I am. Check this out - I bought some candy hearts the other day, it being the season and all. I mean, talk about micro-targeting:

I mean, that's just bullshit.

I Planned This Vacation Eight Years Ago, Damnit!

This guy has to be missing one of those self-preservation parts of the brain or something. You have to admire his sense of adventure, if not his complete lack of the far more valuable common sense.

"I was looking for cheap accommodation here in Falluja, but the authorities explained to me that it was impossible because there are not any hotels here. They suggested a short tour and then go back to Baghdad."

"I explained to him that it was not safe to move around," said Rinato Di Porcia, the deputy chief of mission at the Italian Embassy in Baghdad. "He is a little bit naïve."

Good stuff.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

She Blinded Me With Science

The Scientific Method is a pretty cool deal. You vary some aspect across groups of subjects, then make some measurement to see if that aspect makes a difference in some outcome measure of interest. If there's a difference, you can't really say that the thing you varied made exactly the difference you measured, because there's always variability anyway, but depending on the size of the outcome difference, you can say you're pretty sure that the thing you varied didn't NOT make the difference. Or something like that. So replication is important, in that it decreases the likelihood that the measured differences were due to chance.

Another big concept in scientific experiments is that of generalizability. If you do an experiment using only female subjects, for example, you can't necessarily generalize the results and conclusions to males. So experiments are often repeated using additional groups in order to be able to generalize further.

Okay, that's Research Methods 101.

So I was saying to myself the other day, "You know, Dead Acorn, you have kind of a sciencey background - maybe you could do some kind of experiment at home and use this blog to present the results!" And so, without further ado:

Most of us have seen the pictures (click to enlarge photos) of the spider webs spun on different types of drugs (Witt, 1948, I think, or maybe 1965, but this is a stupid blog, not Nature, so screw your citation):

Above: web of a normal spider.

Above: web of a spider given THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

The web of the spider on THC (arachnidis Spiccolius) clearly shows some deficiencies. Different effects were seen for different types of drugs. However, from our discussion on generalizability above, we know that we can't say that such drugs also have a detrimental effect on humans.

Enter the Dead Acorn.

In an effort to extend these findings to humans, I performed an experiment in the controlled laboratory-esque environment of my house, and observed the effect of alcohol on a subject's ability to drywall a ceiling by himself (drywalling being the human analogue of a spider spinning a web). In the experimental condition, the subject drank a copious amount of beer (unfortunately, lab notes were found to be incomplete after the trial, so the exact number of beers is unknown). In the control condition, the subject only had a few, as the control condition was run before noon. Purists may argue that a true control condition would be with no beer whatsoever, but c'mon, it's fucking drywalling.

The results are as follows:

Control condition: the sheets are close together, few screws were overdrilled, and the sheets butted the framing quite nicely.

Above: relatively sober drywalling.

Experimental condition (exhibit 1): the subject apparently felt that a single 2x4 was sufficient to hold up the sheet while screws were being fixed. It wasn't. Further, note the missing corner, where the subject attempted to "finesse" the sheet in without using the proper tool to cut a sliver off the edge. Lastly, note the 3" spacing of screws, resulting from the subject's conclusion that "shit, I guess I'd better make sure the rest of this is really REALLY secure."

Above: experimental drywalling.

Experimental condition (exhibit 2): the alcohol clearly affected the visual acuity of the subject, resulting in a marked inability to see straight, as evidenced by the dispersion of missed screws. Further, the subject showed no interest in using the square and a pencil to draw a line indicating the joist location, though both were easily within reach.

Above: more experimental drywalling.


1. Alcohol messes up people just like the wacky-tobacky messes up a spider.

2. People can save drywall jobs with some imagination, mesh cloth, and a 5-gallon tub o' mud. Spiders could conceivably use tree sap or something like that, but to date, this has not been observed. Further research is warranted.

3. I really need a master carpenter.

Some helpful Canadians have provided video documenting the effects of various drugs on the wood spider. It's hilarious very enlightening and educational.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Ladies And Gentlemen, Your Attention Please ... In The Center Ring ...

Some of you have felt the joy that comes with the birth of a child. It's truly indescribable. All of the hopes, the dreams, the possibilities - the infinite number of futures overwhelms you, and you're literally left breathless from fear, from excitement, from hope.

What path will she take? Ivy League school and professional career? A life of public service truly caring for the well-being of others? Professional athlete? And while you acknowledge that there are certainly bad choices that she can, and will, make, you'll do everything in your power to provide her with the guidance and wisdom to learn from her mistakes, and to teach her that anything is possible, that all goals are reachable, with perseverance, hard work, and a dream.

This is why I'm so proud of the Live Acorn. She knows that the things sought after in life do not just arrive one day at the door of those who wait. Happiness, wealth, fame, even a quiet comfortable life at the end of a cul-de-sac - whatever you seek, it's yours to get, but get you must.

I find it remarkable that one so young could have such foresight. But she does, and when that day comes, as the elephants pull up the last of the stakes, as the trucks carrying the disassembled skeletons of the midway prepare for long drive, as the big top comes wafting down to be loaded for the next town, she'll be well prepared as the newest runaway to join the circus.

Above: grace and elegance found only in the center ring.

Above: first female president successful quintuple somersault performer.

Free lifetime passes, bitchez. The perks of parenthood.

Friday, February 6, 2009

But I Threw This Out YEARS Ago!

Where does all this crap come from? I'm doing some pre-spring spring cleaning, and I don't think I've ever thrown anything out. Ever. There's stuff here from previous lifetimes. Why the hell would I keep Haynes repair manuals for an '84 Suburu and an '89 Nissan, neither of which I've had for at least 7 years? "Well, gee, Dead Acorn," I must have said to myself, "you can't rule out the possibility of owning another exact year and model of one of those! Think how silly you'll feel having to buy another manual!" Yesterday I threw out a 4-prong 220 volt cable for a dryer hookup. I think it was from the days when the country was still deciding on AC or DC as a national standard. Whisky. Tango. Foxtrot.

Sometimes it pays off, as when the Live Acorn asked the other day if I had any plaid flannel shirts. "Well, duh!" I said, congratulating myself on my perserverence in hauling those early 80s fashion staples around for well-nigh a quarter century.

But mostly I just keep crap. Good thing I make up for it by throwing really important stuff away first chance I get.

I saw a Haynes manual for bikes the other day. I think they make one to fix almost anything.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

You've Got Cramps? Coolo! Put 'Em On!

R.I.P. Lux Interior, front man for The Cramps.

The Cramps - Live At Napa State Mental Hospital

The Cramps - Bikini Girls With Machine Guns

I wonder if Poison Ivy is going to have one of those year-long grieving periods, or if it's cool to call her now?