Authors Posts by Brainy Smurf

Brainy Smurf

I'm three apples high and nearsighted. I like yellow-haired smurfs, robot invasions, sarcasm, and anything where the secret ingredient is love.

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Kickin’ it retro style.
Flying Toasters
Over the weekend, while grooving to bad 80’s tunes in the car by myself, I was blinded by, well, a blinding flash of brilliance! You know, one of those moments of true clarity every brilliant one has from time to time.

Suddenly, it hit me — I had a vision of toasters with wings. Less than a second later, I thought, “Hey, wait a minute, that’s totally been done.” But while pondering it over the next few minutes (okay, I’ll be honest, I thought about it for well over an hour), I couldn’t help thinking about what happened to the once popular flying toasters.

It took me a bit, but I eventually found the brain cell that had been holding the name “After Dark” for all of these years just for this very moment.

After Dark was the company in the very early 1990’s that somehow managed to convince computer users to shell out $30+ clams for a silly screensaver. They probably made a fortune — of that, yep, I’m jealous.

I think of stuff like flying toasters all the time… I just don’t have the type of mindset to market them effectively. I mean, really, I’d like to shake the hand of the guy who came up with the idea of a flying toaster and then thought, “Hey, this should be a screen saver. We’ll make millions!” I hope it was the same guy that came up with both ideas. Genious.

Anyway, hats off to the Flying Toaster of the early 90’s. I miss the days when the screensaver you had made you more, I dunno, sexy?

Can geeks be sexy?

You betcha. In 1992, if you had some toasters flying across the screen, you were the talk of the town. Or library… Computer lab? Sigh…

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I like to drive. A lot.

In my travels, I’ve hit the lower 48, along with 9 provinces. I like to think I have a pretty good idea of the driving habits on those in North America.

Okay, that may by over stating it just a bit, but I do know that some states have left more of an impression than others.

The most aggressive drivers, (other than anyone in a pimped out Mitsubishi), hail from the state of Rhode Island and the province of Quebec.

These folks will ride your bumper like no one else.

A merge or, heaven forbid, a yield sign mean nothing to these drivers.

The quirkiest part is that although they are generally very agressive, they don’t go into a rage status. I have yet to witness any hand gestures or facial expressions. The just refuse to give you space with a blank look on their face.

The worst drivers though, by far, are those from Virginia. I honestly think that state has so many variations of their license plate design (seriously, over 180 of them!?) so as to fool other drivers into thinking, “Oh, that idiot’s not from Virginia.” Fact is, most of the time, they are.

Virginia Plate
What makes them the worst? Well, for starters, let’s pretend we’re taking the drive from New York City down to Miami.

 I-95 the whole way.

Major highway, three lanes — slow, travel, and passing — for nearly the entire stretch.

Generally, you can maintain a speed of around 70mph for the entire trek once you’re clear of the New Jersey tolls.  In theory, you should be able to hang in the travel lane.

But this is where the Virginia driver comes into play.

See, apparently in Virginia, and Virginia only, there is no such thing as a slow, travel, and passing lane. You’re just expected to pick the lane on your choice and the speed, or lack there of, of your choice.

So, it’s about 3:00am and there are just a few trucks on the road, and the diehard drivers like myself making our way through North Carolina.

Thinking we’ve *finally* cleared all of the NJ stoppages, DC traffic, and Virginia is in our rear view, not to mention that it’s the middle of the night, it should be smooth sailing all the way to sunny Florida.

What’s this?

I’m passing a car on the right… and they’re going… 55mph?!

A Virginia plate.

 Imagine that?

Up ahead, I see truckers moving into the travel lane.

Virginia plate in the slow lane — but now the trucker is moving into the passing lane — ooooh!  He’s even flashing his lights at the slow poke in front of him.

Virginia plate.

Okay, my turn. I go all ‘Rhode Island’ on this one. I could have easily moved into the passing lane and pass this guy, but that’s not the point.

It’s pre-dawn, there’s a fair amount of traffic on the road considering the time, and this guy is going 15 miles under the speed limit?! The slow lane is empty.

I flash my lights.


I flash them again.

Still doesn’t seem to get it. One of those double trailer trucks eventually flies by on his right hand side.

I flash again. Nothing.

Dude, you just got passed with authority by one of the slowest trucks on the road.

The crazy part is that when you do pass them, they look over at you like, “I wonder why his headlights were flashing? I’d bet that truck blew his horn to let him know his headlights weren’t properly aimed…” Unreal.

On top of the fact that they don’t have *any* highway etiquette (only state in the union — seriously!), they’ve also ‘caught’ the “what’s a signal for” but that’s plagueing the entire continent.

More about that in the future…

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A “Lance-less” School Bus.You know what really fires me up? 
School buses. 

Yep, that’s right.  And I’m not just talking about the short buses for the “special” students.

A few years ago I bought a house in the same town that I work in. 

We’re talking maybe a 2 mile commute.

Now, every morning on my way to work, as luck would have it, I get behind a bus that stops at a student’s house and the bus puts on his red lights and the stop sign comes out (and whats up with the new lance contraption on the front bumper these days?  Do buses joust after hours?), and waits for him to come out of the house. 

When he does eventually come out, he takes his sweet time, and he’s usually still getting dressed — and often stops to go back into the house to grab his back pack (or kiss his Mom as I like to think).

But anyway, the kid, let’s call him Harold, eventually gets on the bus — and the bus sits there until he sits down.  Apparently he thinks he’s one of the cool kids cause I can only assume it takes so long for him to sit down because he’s making his way to the back. 

In my day, once the doors closed behind you, you might have had 10 seconds before the bus started moving again.  Can you imagine if trains ran the way school buses do now?   They’d never move.

So, while you might think that things are moving now; no, two houses later, yes, two.  We’re talking 120 feet — maybe 4 bus lengths (not including the lance) and the lights go back on, the sign comes out, and we repeat the whole process. 

The saddest part is that these are HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS?!  And because of that, being the car immediately behind the bus, I’m subjected to numerous finger gestures from the aforementioned “cool” kids.  Or is it “kewl” these days.  Whatever.  Harry is a loser as far as I’m concerned.

Now, I’m not an impatient person, but when I was in school (and that’s not that long ago), I rode the “loser cruiser” every single day.  I’m not going to say I had to walk a mile, uphill, each day through the snow, I won’t go that route, it was usually maybe 200-300 meters from my front door where a bunch of us from the neighborhood would stand and wait — maybe 5 minutes, sometimes in the rain even, but that’s not the point. And if you weren’t there, the bus DID NOT wait.

Some of my fondest memories are of my next door neighbor chasing the bus and on the rare occasion that the bus did stop again, the walk of shame they were forced to make as they found a seat.

Fat chance of that happening these days.  The school bus is now more like a personal chauffer service.  Sort of explains the “entitlement” attitude of the current generation.  And the fact that they don’t need to walk farther than their front door anymore might help explain all the fat kids out there. 

That’s right, I called them fat, cause let’s face it, they’re not chunky and that ain’t baby fat.  And obesity isn’t a disease.  They’re fat.  But I digress…

You might wonder what I’d say if these weren’t high school kids or if my feelings would change…  Well, I’ll tell you.

See, I come home for lunch each day too, which means I catch the kindergarten bus.  Now don’t get me wrong, they’re really cute with their “Dora the Explorer” lunch boxes and stuff and it’s neat cause they actually wait out by the road — definitely a step up from the lazy teenagers. 

These kids are excited to get on the bus and go to school, which is great. 

 It’s too bad that wears off so quickly with the state of public school these days.  (I’ll rant about the luggage bags with wheels they all use later…  Some of them are so damn lazy, they’ve even got wheels in their sneakers… which are velco closure of course.  The height of laziness.)

Anyway, the bus comes, lights go on, stop sign goes out, lance swings out, and traffic stops.  Watching a little 5 year old make that enormous first step onto the bus is one of those things you can’t help but smile at.  But then the mother comes out the front door, still in her robe and slippers, hops into the bus, and has a freaking conversation with the bus driver — a lengthy one too.  Um, hello?  What’s up with that?  Then, one house later, we repeat…

Now, I can understand why a mother might not want her 5 year old to be crossing the street and such.  That’s easy to comprehend.  At the same time, just 15 years ago, 5 year olds *were* crossing the street.  Were our mothers bad mothers; putting us in harms’ way? They taught us to look both ways, then go. Atleast that’s what I was taught.

It seems they don’t teach that any more and I think that’s where the problem began.  Kids don’t know that cars hurt.  And that’s because they’ve never had to cross the street, so their parents haven’t had the need to teach them that, well, cars hurt.  They really hurt.  They can even, gasp, KILL YOU!

The whole “bus stop” in my front yard thing has become the status quo it seems — these lazy morons in high school have never had it any different, so even they don’t know to look both ways, because they’ve never had to.  Scary, because they can drive…  Even scarier, some of them are even parents now too…  Their kids haven’t got a chance… Afterall, cars are everywhere…

So I guess that’s just one of the things that snarks my fries these days.  I look back fondly on my time spent at the bus stop each morning with Bryan, Megan, Alicia, David, Tammy, Seth, Steve, and Nick.  Okay, maybe not Tammy, I never really liked her.  And yeah, sure, when we got to school and filed off of the bus, we all went our seperate ways and were assimilated into our individual cliques, but for those 5 minutes standing on the corner, we were kinda like a big family at the dinner table. And yes, we kissed our mothers as we left the house, on time, to catch the bus.

Did I mention we were all thin, happy, and sociable too?  You know, the way kids *should* be.

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Andre AgassiLike Andre Agassi once pitched for Canon Rebel cameras, image truly is everything. 

Image is an asset.  Your best asset.  And one you can totally control.

People do not love you for who you are. Bosses do not give promotions based on your work performance. Banks do not give you money based on your ability to repay. Doctors are not licensed based on their competency.

People love you for who they think you are. Bosses give promotions based on their perceived value of you. Banks give you money based on your perceived ability to repay. Doctors are licensed based on their perceived competency.

No matter how bright, talented, and skilled you will go nowhere if no one recognizes it. No matter how deficient you are, the world is yours to take if no one notices your failings. Learn to master your image and you have found the levers that motivate people to help you.

It blows my mind how many folks out there don’t understand this. Poke around for some familiar faces on or facebook, or for that matter, any ‘local’ band website — you’ll quickly lose respect for some of your friends and acquaintances.

In my opinion, it’s messed up on it’s own to let someone take pictures of you when you’re not at your best, you know, sloppy drunk or whatever, but to post those pictures — I mean, actually sitting down and saying, “yeah, that one is a good representation of me” and then hitting submit is just shocking.  It’s like slandering yourself.  “Don’t I look ‘kewl’ here where I’ve got my face pressed against a drag queen’s tight abs?”  I mean really?

One fellow I know has a shot of him holding up some random bimbo doing a keg stand, while just above it in their profile it states that they’re 32 years old.  Um, hello?

Are people that stupid?  Apparently.

Oh, and don’t hold your breath for any less than flattering shots of yours truly…  I’ve always been aware of my image.

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April 2007 Financial Specs

Nearly three years into this, I’m starting to actually see the light at the end of the tunnel of debt I managed to find myself in. It’s funny, once you change your whole outlook on money and finances and the ball gets rolling — and you keep track of the progress — it starts to become, well, almost exciting and fun at the same time. Maybe it’s just me…

One million dollars is actually a very easy, not to mention realistic, amount to reach for nearly anyone. Income doesn’t really matter so much, and I’m aware that I won’t be able to retire early on it or anything, but for now, it’s a goal. A reachable goal. One I don’t think I’ll get bored with and abandon in a couple of years. When I hit it, I’ll raise the bar.

While I’m still tanking on the Assets side of things, over the past month I managed to put a pretty large ding in the debt I’ve been carrying. Being that this is the first mention of my finances, it’s basically been like this for the better part of three years — so when it’s coming down in $6k increments and there’s only around $21k total in non-Mortgage debt, well, it’s almost time to celebrate the first leg of the climb and prepare for the next climb to $1,000,000.

For explanation sake, since this is my first financial update, I don’t include the house as an Asset. Mostly because it’s too much of a pain to figure out what it’s actually worth on a month by month basis, and even if I were comparing it to local real estate sales, it’s really a hit or miss guesstimate. The actual mortgage, however, is something that’s easy to track, so I include it as a liability.

For the total Net Worth though, I omit the mortgage from the calculation, as technically the Asset of the house should theoretically cancel out the mortgage and then some. Make sense? I hope so.

Hopefully, a few more months from now I won’t be so cash poor.

Can You Dig It?