Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Step Away from the Vehicle

I think the car alarm's time has come and gone. There was a time, I think, when it was a useful device. You'd be walking across the parking lot, hear a horrific cacophony, and immediately think "Trouble! Where's my utility belt and cape?!" You KNEW something was not right in the world of automobile possession.

Now, whenever you hear a car alarm doing its ear-rupturing sound cycle, you think "Will someone turn that damn thing off?" Car thieves have no reason to be afraid when that thing starts going off. Everyone is just sitting in their apartments turning up the TV or muttering under their pillows. Or if you are outside and hear the alarm, you just shake your head and feel proud that you trust your own car to look after itself.

So in that split-second when the car alarm was actually useful--you know, when people thought it was different and groovy, like "peace" in the 60s or "war" in the 2000s--the car alarm had a place in the dangerous criminal underworld as a protector of all that was steel, wheels, and yours. I lament the passing of the Car Alarm Era and shed some kind of metaphorical tear as we toss it into the Irrelevant Bin. Requiescat In Pace. Dona nobis pacem. Other Latin phrases of varying relevance, as well.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

You know who I hate?


So, what are your plans?

Every recent college graduate faces this inevitable, annoying yet well-intentioned question. It's even more annoying when your plans aren't exactly figured out in any concrete way. Usually, people will ask me, "Did you like Notre Dame?" to which I reply, "Yes." The next question is the one that lends itself to the title of this post. My answer: "Well, I hope to work for a year or two before possibly heading to grad school." Seems like a safe, non-revealing answer to me. It's also what everyone else is planning on doing, I think.

I wish, just once, that one of these conversations would go something like this:
"Did you like Notre Dame?"

"Nope. Definitely wasted four years of my life. Oh sure, I learned a lot and had fun, but what a dump! I saw a dry patch of grass once. And have you seen our football team in big games recently?"

"Right...sorry to hear that, SO! What are your plans?"

"(I choke on my champagne) Um, yes, well, uh, planning limits one's options. I'll be finding myself in the big wide world. Which means pshaw to jobs. That's for the establishment. I intend to bum around the house vigorously until chance places a golden opportunity in my lap!"

"Oh...I see." (Thinks: Idiot, should have majored in business)

Close, But No Cigar

Cigar Aficionado has this to say to the U.S. Treasury Department regarding fans of Cubans (cigars, that is):

"Stop wasting our time and money chasing cigar smokers"

Now, I can see the interest Cigar Aficionado might have in Cuban cigars. Without them, there's no gold standard for smokable finery. It would be like banning French wine (which some hissy-fitters have tried to do since the whole War on Terror thing) or Russian vodka or American Snickers bars. As an occasional cigar-smoker, I'd love to try a Cuban before I die, so long as occasional doesn't turn into "chain" and I get puffed out in a cloud of irony-flavored smoke.

Could Cigar Aficionado really come out and say, "Hell yes on the embargo with Cuba! We're fine smoking every other cigar in the world, even if it means ignoring the avowed and acclaimed center of what we love! To hell with cigars, up with politics!" I submit that they could not.

In other related news, I stumbled upon the origin of the phrase, "Close, but no cigar." whilst perusing a Dictionary of English Idioms that I just happened to check out at the library by accident.* There is some dispute. Some claim that the phrase originated in the practice of gentleman buying a cigar for good luck on a bet with the intention of smoking it after the bet was won. A lost bet would be close, but no cigar. Others, however, claim that the phrase comes from early 20th century fairground stalls which would award the stogies as prizes. Also, tobacco isn't good for you.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Laws of Our Universe

Amara's Law
We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.

Benford's Law of Controversy
Passion is inversely proportional to the amount of real information available.

Clark's Law
Sufficiently advanced cluelessness is indistinguishable from malice.

Finagle's Law of Dynamic Negatives (corollary to Murphy's Law)
Anything that can go wrong, will--at the worst possible moment.

Godwin's Law
As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.

Hofstadter's Law
It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's Law.

Hutber's Law
Improvement means deterioration.

Martin's Law
The higher up the management ladder you go, the more disconnected from reality you are.

Meyer's Law
It is a simple task to make things complex, but a complex task to make them simple. For instance, observe this explanation I am adding. It's meaningless, purposeless, and while being about twice as long as the adage itself, it leads back to it.

Murphy's Law
Anything that can go wrong, will.

Parkinson's Law
Work expands so as to fill the time for its completion.

Segal's Law
A man with a watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never sure.

Got any others?

Answers to Questions of the Week

In response to the questions of the week:

jtg asks: Where did the name "Caught on the Bound" come from?

My great-grandfather, Edward P. Curran owned and edited a small-town Nebraska newspaper, which he then sold to my grandfather who continued in the same capacity. During this time, my great-grandfather penned a popular weekly column entitled "Caught on the Bound." I used, with approval from some older family members, the title of the column for my blog to continue the spirit and tradition of the original.

I try to make this blog an entertaining/informative site rather than a strict record of my personal life.

Mike asks: Is that the Riddler?

In the previous post for question of the week, yes. I was intrigued by the way he apparently walks around with these giant question marks in his hands. How does he get the dot part to float?

minus the sunshine band asks: What's your problem?

Internet access for the most part, with a little bit of free time.

Send in your questions! Use the comments below to ask one!

Of Mites and Men

So that's a dust mite. According to my friend Heather:

So the Peter Saarsgard lookalike at Sit and Sleep today was telling me about dust mites...but he mentioned that they live in feather pillows and in the span of one month the weight of a pillow can double because of the dust mites living off of the dead skin cells in the imagine this being said in Peter's voice yet I still bought a mattress from him

Um, sleep tight.

How do people figure this stuff out?

From the This Will Have Zero Impact on Your Life Department:


backwards is


You just read the first one backwards to confirm it didn't you? Why can't you just trust me for once? Sure, I blog about Captain Planet and Coke II and all kinds of wonderfully irrelevant things, but come on, trust me just this once. I'm going to get a cup of coffee and I'm going to drink that coffee. Not enough for you?


Reverse it.

You knew that one, right?

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Happy 90th Birthday Fr. Hesburgh

You crazy go-getter you!

1995 Nebraska

Worst. Buy. Ever.

Shady dealing at Best Buy.
Which is weird because they claim to be the best buy but, well, maybe they're not?

Question of the Week

Caught on the Bound's inaugural Question of the Week comes from my Mom:

You have a website?

Yes. Thank you, Mom. Now that I think about it, she could have just been making a statement with a raised voice at the end.

Have a question? Submit it to Caught on the Bound! Just use the comments for this post to submit.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Wikipedia and the New Truth Generation

The scourge of academia. The truth. The open contribution. The over-generalization.

Wikipedia has become the go-to source for all matters from the trivial tidbit to the dissertation footnote-worthy. Facebook has a group entitled "If Wikipedia Says, It Must Be True..." and it just might be, whatever "it" is.

A lot of academics (professors frustrated that students can become well-versed overnight in what took them years to study) say that Wikipedia is unreliable, unsourced, and a leading cause of cancer. To some degree, I believe this is true. The real substance in Wikipedia, however, isn't in the details, but the ability to get a gist of some complex ideas and be able to converse about them almost instantaneously. It's as if some research team compiled a briefing on every topic of interest in the universe for you.

For example, if someone brings up the poetry of Rudyard Kipling in a conversation with me, I'll remember the Wikipedia page I read last month on his poem, "If--" and how some consider it to be a mere list of aphorisms strung together, rather than any expression of inspirational sentiment. Also, that someone would rip the pocket-protector out of my Poindexter-brand shirt and smash my face apart for being such a smartass.

Wikipedia is a good way to become familiar with a subject and a lot of the views people have held or hold about it. In fact, Wikipedia might just be the Truth. Here at the CotB office, we tell our employees to only use Wikipedia. We've already tossed out the Funk & Wagnalls, Rand McNallys, Farmer's Almanacs, ___ for Dummies guides, Chicken Soup for the ____'s Soul books, and Encyclopedia Britannicas that adorned our plastic Target-brand bookshelves.

Our Truth is not the one our grandparents knew, which was accurate, but limited. Ours is expansive and riddled with glaring contradictions, yet somehow, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

HaloScan Comments

Easier commenting. Have at it. I encourage frequent and unceasing comments on any post you like. I want discussion! Controversey! Heresey! Other words ending in "sey" as well! Go on, be a sport! Take a chance! Columbus did and look what he found!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Panera Bread (awww)

Panera Bread bakery/cafe/restaurants dot this fine land of ours, but part of it baffles me. Before I begin, I am contractually obligated by a few friends from St. Louis to mention that Panera Bread began as St. Louis Bread Co. before the Panera name was introduced when the chain was franchised nationwide.

Anyways, I'm sure most of us have had a conversation like this at some point in our hunger-driven lives:

Guy: I'm hungry, where should we eat?
Girl: I don't really care, you decide. (Thinks: He's the guy, why the hell should I decide? Although, I would like to...nah, I'll let him deal with it)
Guy: Well, there's McDonald's, uh, KFC, um....I think that's a grease factory...oh, no, it's a Denny's...
Girl: I really don't care. (Thinks: I care.)
Guy: Hmmm, there's Panera...
Girl: Awwww....Panera!

Every girl I've ever encountered has invariably done some sort of coo, aww, sigh, or affectionate moan at the mention of Panera. Does Panera have some effect on uteri or chest curviness that I don't know about? Are soup and paninis really that life-changing? Any field research on this matter would be greatly appreciated. Caught on the Bound will launch its own investigative investigation.

One keen observer has suggested that girls are attracted to Panera's food AND the fact that they put it on actual plates. For a while, I thought this was a worthy consideration. I have since dismissed that notion as wholly stupid. Someone help me out here. I don't get why Panera elicits that female response.


Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Elements of Style

My first read of the summer, if you can call it that with school still technically in session, was a delightfully slim volume, The Elements of Style. Originally written by English professor William Strunk Jr in the 1930s, the book has seen constant updates and edits over the years, most notably by one of Strunk's pupils, E.B. White, who we know as the author of Stuart Little and Charlotte's Web. White had a thing for writing about talking things that creep and crawl, apparently. I'm sure he finally threw down The Elements of Style one day during an edit and said, "F--- it. I'm making a spider talk."

The Elements of Style is the witty tale of a language and its hunt for a functional yet engaging means of writing. Our protagonist, Grammar, sets out with a few Elementary Rules of Usage as Strunk and White eagerly, even sarcastically, hurl obstacles in its path. With A Few Matters of Form and some Misused Words and Expressions sprinkled in, the plot climaxes with a thrilling Approach to Style, in which our heroes face the deepest and darkest recesses of the English language.

Although the story felt underdeveloped at some junctures, the endearing and memorable characters buttress this little book with a lofty goal, and give the reader some divine revelations about the written word. It's a tale sure to bring out the nonrestrictive modifier in all of us.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Hamlet: A Happening

Ben Franklin once said, "Originality is the art of concealing your sources."

By the way, I, uh, just plucked that from the top of my head and definitely didn't steal it from the quote of the week in my planner. Ben would be proud of me, I'm sure.

Whenever I sit down to write a paper, I always have to sort out all of the ideas in my head; or, convince myself that I have ideas about a subject when I really, in actuality, do not. Once I do finally sit down to write, however, I sometimes wonder just how original my thoughts are. Did I just summarize something my professor said? Didn't some other scholar think of this before me? Did I just take an established theory and change one small detail to make it sound hip and groovy? The thought of it all can be paralyzing.

I think I'm going to start writing papers like this:

"Hamlet: A Happening

Hamlet was a wild play! The story begins with the sighting of a ghost. Naturally, this leads the characters to engage in page after page of dialogue (a hallmark of Shakespeare's work; characters that is). Hamlet does a lot of wild shit primarily to mess with people out of sheer boredom. Alternative theories suggest he did it to avenge his father's death, but what is this, 'The Lion King?' In conclusion, no one really needed to die, but they all did anyway. Denmark was confused, but glad the play was over."

I only hope I concealed my sources well enough.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Eddie Izzard - St. Paul's Letters

Off the Top

My trips to the barber are always a fine mix of inevitable desperation and forlorn dread. For some reason, my barber can never take off just the right amount of hair. I don't doubt that he knows what that right amount is, because every time I get a haircut from him, he takes off exactly 3/4 inch more than that amount. Without fail.

"How would you like it cut, today?"
"About this much, I really don't want it too short, don't want anyone to know I was here," I'd often say, trying to strike the right tone between normal conversation and the demanding decree a customer is entitled to.

"Alright, so just a haircut," he'd say.

"Well, yeah, but not too short."

"I know what you mean," he'd wink, "a haircut."

This was not some secret Masonic communication indicating that I in fact wanted my head shaved bald. I wanted a reasonable haircut--one that people would look at and say "Oh, looks nice!" rather than "Oh! You got a haircut!"

This exchange has been going on for almost four years, from the time I first arrived at college. Now, with graduation in two weeks, I face the task of once again visiting the barber. We'll likely reminisce about the few hours we spent together in that little barbershop. We'll talk of all the weather patterns we observed, the elections we saw determined, and the incremental price increase he "was sorry" to impose upon his regular customers as the last few years went by. I'll enjoy all of this, I'm sure; I just hope I don't have to, well, get a haircut.