Sunday, September 27, 2009

55 - Answers (Part 1)

[Editor's Note: Tim asked me if he could divide up this week's answers into two parts. I thought he was just stalling again since he was already running late and running out of excuses. But then he told me that there were two questions posed about a very serious topic and he wanted the chance to answer them separately. I saw the questions and agreed with him. This time.]

Q: Michaele-Lynne - What are your predictions for my Maple Leafs this year? Will they make the cut for playoffs or be a complete disappointment as per usual?
A: I asked the only other Maple Leafs fan that I know (a coworker named Nick) this question and he just chuckled. He told me that it had been over 40 years since they'd won a Stanley Cup and that they'd missed the playoffs for the past five years, and it sounded like he didn't expect that trend to be broken this year.

I have not done any pre-season research on the NHL this year so I turned to ESPN to help me out. I read the NHL preview for the Maple Leafs (found here) which was pretty informative. It looks to me like their GM is making some smart moves but I'm not sure just how quickly these changes can help. For example, they've acquired star forward from the Bruins named Phil Kessel, but he's out with a shoulder injury until at least November.

In the end I'll go out on a limb here and say that yes, Toronto will make the playoffs this year. They'll get crushed in the first round but at least they'll make it to the dance. Best of luck this season!

Q: Bill - Who's the republican favorite for president in 2012? And if you say Sarah Palin I will burn your house down and possibly cut off what nuts you may or may not have.
A: As of this date (September 26, 2009) there is no clear favorite for the Republican candidate for President. The most recent polling information that I could find was a poll done of self-declared independent voters put out by the Clarus Research Group. A PDF of their survey can be found here. Among likely Republican candidates the poll shows that Mitt Romney is the current favorite with 30% of the vote. Mike Huckabee is second with 22% and Sarah Palin gets 18%.

A second indicator came during the annual Values Voters Conference that happened the weekend of September 18th in Washington, DC. Several of the likely Republican presidential candidates spoke there including Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty and Mike Pence. At the end of the event a straw poll was held among participants. The winner of the straw pole was Mike Huckabee with 29% of the vote. This surprises no one, me included. He was the clear favorite among the more religious conservatives in the 2008 race. He is also the reason that we ended up with John McCain as our nominee, but that's a topic for another time. Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty and Mike Pence all received about 12% of the votes, with the remaining votes going for other candidates like perennial nut Ron Paul and the up-and-coming-but-still-too-early Bobby Jindal.

My final answer is that there is no Republican favorite for President in 2012. At least not yet. Assuming I'm still doing this in 2012 you'll just have to ask me then.

Q: Jarsh - Why don't Canadian quarters work in US vending machines. To my naked eye they are the same size.
A: Below is a table comparing the two quarters:

Mass5.670 g4.4 g
Diameter24.26 mm23.81 mm
Thickness1.75 mm1.60 mm
Edge119 reedsmilled
Composition91.67% Cu, 8.33% Ni94% steel, 3.8% Cu, 2.2% Ni plating

The physical dimensions of the two quarters are nearly identical, so your naked eye isn't lying to you. The difference comes in the weight. There is a 1.27 gram difference between the weights of the two quarters, and that's enough for the vending machines to tell the difference between them. Personally I find it annoying that I can't use Canadian quarters in vending machines.

The metal in the two quarters is also different, which Adam commented on:
Adam: I watched a show about how coin sorters work last night, conveniently. Canadian quarters aren't made of the same metal that American quarters are. They don't displace the magnetic field (that distinguishes what type of metal the coin is made of) in the same way, so they aren't usable.

Very interesting stuff, guys. Thanks.

Q: Jesse - use washers?
A: Occasionally, yes. I've never tried to use them in vending machines as a substitute for real money, but I've used washers for other purposes.

Q: Rani - Speaking of washers, is mankind's greatest enemy water?
A: In my opinion water makes the list, but it is by no means mankind's greatest enemy. Water can either be the bringer of life or the bringer of destruction depending on the situation. Our bodies are roughly 70% water and we cannot survive for more than a couple of days without it. Then again water is a very powerful natural force. Over time water can carve spectacular landscapes. It can also destroy cities in the form of tidal waves, storm surges, or even just excessive rain. But water enables man to grow crops and feed himself. In the end I think that there are too many upsides to water for it to be our greatest enemy.

On a final note, I was discussing this with my colleague Jeff as we drove from the Kansas City airport to Junction City, Kansas and he informed me that "Humidity created the snowman but it was sunshine that destroyed him." True on both counts, though I'm not exactly sure what that has to do with this question.

Q: vanessa - yes, how many alumni will wanna come to my halloween party in Oswego? the over/under is set at 2.
A: I'll take the over and go with an official prediction of 4.

Q: Bill - When would said party be? Will there be adult beverages served?
A: I'll turn the microphone over to Vanessa to answer this question:
"halloween party = halloween night. beeeeerrr."

Q: Jarsh - Ask Mitssob has become Random Thread v2 apparently
A: I'm not sure I expected this development but I'm certainly happy about it. Having a community to help me answer questions is a big help. [Ed - And it helps cover up the fact that you don't have any idea what you're talking about. Now that's just plain mean.]

Q: Bill - Question: Now that breast implants are made with saline, do they act differently than the old silicon ones?
A:Breast implants (link is Wikipedia but still NSFW) are used primarily in breast augmentation surgeries. Other uses include breast reconstruction following a mastectomy or as part of a sex change procedure. The two most common types are saline enclosed in a silicone shell and all silicone. The all silicone varieties were banned in the United States in the late 90's and that ban was lifted in 2006.

I have never been with a woman with breast implants, so that makes me unqualified to evaluate the behavior of either type of implant. Now that I think about it I'm not sure that I know any women with breast implants. It has never occurred to me to ask the women I know whether or not their breasts are real. Seems kind of rude and overly personal now that I think about it, so it's probably best that I just keep on not asking.

Anyway, according to the above link the silicone variety provides a superior look and feel to the saline variety. This makes sense to me. Silicone is a more solid substance than saline and would probably blend better with the natural breast tissue. I would imagine that the saline variety might move in a more unnatural fashion. Again, I'm just not an expert on this subject. Sorry.

Q: Jesse - How big will the random thread get?
A: As of this writing the Random Thread consists of 1776 pages and 44383 entries. It has gone on for just over 5 years. How much longer can it go on? Technologically I don't have an exact answer. Eventually the hard drive on the server that host Jolinko could fill up and that would bring it to an end.

My guess is that the Random Thread will break through 100,000 entries sometime in the year 2013. Time will tell if I'm right.

Monday, September 7, 2009

54 - Answers

Q: Jeff - Any questions?
A: I do have some questions, but since this is "Ask Mitssob" and not "Mitssob Asks" I'll keep them to myself.

Q: vanessa - Do you think "thats what she said" is overused? Along with that, how about quotes from such popular comedies as Anchorman, SuperBad, The Hangover, etc...are those overused as well?
A: "That's what she said" is just one of many of overused humorous responses to otherwise innocent statements. For example, I could say something like, "I don't like being confined in tight spaces for long durations." A response of "That's what she said!" would probably elicit a laugh from anyone honored to hear it. But if that becomes your response to EVERY innocent statement then you have officially become annoying and must be shown the error of your ways.

Along those lines, I think that quotes from popular comedies can easily become overused, but in moderation they add spice to conversation. For example, many of the people in my group at work are big fans of the Mel Brooks movies Spaceballs and Blazing Saddles, and will occasionally use quotes from those movies to lighten the mood. But again, moderation is key. Use them only when the situation warrants it, and when the humor will be appreciated by those around you.

Those of you who know me know that I am guilty of this, and have been for most of my life. I tend to latch onto a quote or saying and ride it for a long time, often far too long. Therefore I can't judge people who do this. I can only offer the warning that overusing quotes can lead to annoyance and un-funny looks from those around you. And no one wants that.

Q: Brett - Does a rising tide raise all boats?
A: A fine esoteric question. In the literal sense of the words, if a tide is high enough then it will raise all boats, including those under construction on dry land. Of course that would have to be a flood of epic proportions.

The phrase was used by John F. Kennedy in a speech defending the federal funding of the Greers Ferry Dam in Arkansas. The full text of the speech can be found here, and the relevant passage is quoted below:

"These projects produce wealth, they bring industry, they bring jobs, and the wealth they bring brings wealth to other sections of the United States. This State had about 200,000 cars in 1929. It has a million cars now. They weren't built in this State. They were built in Detroit. As this State's income rises, so does the income of Michigan. As the income of Michigan rises, so does the income of the United States. A rising tide lifts all the boats and as Arkansas becomes more prosperous so does the United States and as this section declines so does the United States. So I regard this as an investment by the people of the United States in the United States."

More recently the phrase "A rising tide raises all ships" has been used by advocates of conservative economic policies. The basic idea is that if you encourage economic growth (the "rising tide") then that growth will benefit all Americans ("ships"). I think that this makes sense. If you grow the economy then more jobs are created which means more people can be self-reliant and pursue happiness in their lives.

Q: Nate - Why did we all blow on NES cartridges thinking that would make them work?
A: I know that I blew on the NES cartridges in an effort to get dust out of them. This probably wasn't the real reason why this particular fix worked. My guess is that the moisture in your breath gets onto the metal contacts in the cartridge and makes a connection more likely. I'll also attribute some of this blowing to the placebo effect. We blew on these cartridges, hit the units, powered them off and on, etc., all in an effort to get them to work. When they did finally start working we probably just attributed it to one of these fixes, regardless of whether or not the fix worked.

A random thought concerning this question: If you were to ask a current college student this question would they know what you were talking about? My guess is no. Blowing on an NES cartridge is probably just as anachronistic to a college student today as making mix tapes is.

Q: Kristian - Who is worse, Red Sox fans or Yankee fans? This is assuming you are not a fan of either team.
A: Your assumption is invalid. I am a lifelong fan of the Boston Red Sox. Still, I'll try to be objective in my answer.

Oh who am I kidding? I can't be objective about this. Sorry. I will provide an answer, and at least now you know where I'm coming from when I give it.

Yankee fans are worse (I know, shocking, right?). The biggest problem that I have with Yankee fans is their sense of entitlement. Every season must inevitably lead to another World Championship. Yes, I know that all teams feel this way, but the difference is that most other fans don't expect it as a birthright. As a fan of the Red Sox, I want them to win the World Series. Yankee fans think that they should win the World Series. In fact, the playoffs are just a formality to them. Just crown them champions and let everyone get on with their lives.

Am I painting an accurate picture of Yankee fans? As a biased Red Sox fan I don't know. This is just how I see things. I'm sure that if you ask a Yankee fan they would disagree with my statement. But I don't know of fans of any other team that feel this way. Cubs fans? Royals fans? Angels fans? They all seem to want their team to win, but not expect it. And that's the difference between Yankee fans and other fans.

Are Red Sox fans perfect? Of course not! Red Sox fans are still nursing the bitterness of the fact that the Yankees have many many times more championships than the Red Sox. Despite the two World Series this century they still hold onto a sense of fatality and despair when their team isn't doing well. "The sky is falling" mentality dies hard. This makes us annoying. I know it, I embrace it, and I'm not going to change.

A note about the fans of both teams in general. Any successful franchise is going to attract a certain number of bandwagon jumpers (see also Boston Celtics, Detroit Red Wings, and LA Lakers). In the mid to late 90's the Yankees won a string of championships that brought a huge number of fans to their doorstep. People love to root for a winner, and when your team continues winning then that just makes it better. Then in the early 2000's an interesting thing happened: people started rooting for the "underdog" Red Sox. This culminated in the playoffs of the 2003 and 2004 seasons, and the Red Sox finally winning the World Series in 2004. This, in turn, led to a huge number of recent converts to the Red Sox. "Red Sox Nation" became a rallying cry to beleaguered fans everywhere. I welcome converts, but I also know that they are a fickle bunch who will probably jump right off the bandwagon if another lovable loser comes along.

As of this writing the Yankees have a 7.5 game lead over the Red Sox in the American League East. I am very unhappy about this as a devoted Red Sox fan. However, there's one thing about this development that I find heartening: the return of the "Yankee Fan Swagger". I never thought I'd miss the cocky, arrogant, smug and entitled Yankee fan, but they've been sadly missing for most of this season. Now that they're back I find myself amused at their return because watching their dreams get crushed in the agony of defeat is one of the best things in the world.

Q: Kristian - Why do douchebags pop their collars?
A: This is something I've been wondering for a long time. Generally speaking the following rule applies: Not all douchebags pop their collars, but everyone who pops their collars is a douchebag. Because of this rule I tend to think of the collar popping as a signal to the rest of humanity for purposes of socializing and mating. For example, if a girl were looking to pick up a douchebag in a bar then the popped collar would certainly help her find said douchebag. In fact, she'd probably have her choice of douchebags.

So how did this start? I have no idea, and the Internets aren't particularly helpful. It could be that one douchebag (let's call him Douchebag Alpha) forgot to fix his collar after ironing his shirt. Another douchebag noticed this (Douchebag Beta), said, "Hey, man, that's fly!" and popped his collar to match. Soon it had spread throughout the land of douchebags and became common practice.

Finally, I'll use your question as an excuse to post a link to one of my favorite websites: Hot Chicks With Douchebags.

Q: Jesse - what would happen if I walked up to a girl at the bar and said "you, me, the backseat of my car, now"?
A: I actually thought about trying this out while on my last trip for work. I decided not to, mostly because I am a very shy person, but also because that's just not the kind of guy I am. I do not have any experience picking up girls in bars, and I didn't want my first attempt to be so nakedly direct.

Since I don't know you I can't judge how your proposal would play to the girl in question. Are you normally a smooth guy (ie. Nate D)? Do you have much experience picking up girls in bars? Have you tried other methods in the past?

The type of bar also comes into play. If you were in a sports bar watching a big game, and you and the girl shared an interest in the same team, and that team won, then she might be more willing to take the plunge. On the other hand if the bar were a strip bar and you tried that line on a stripper, you might get lucky, or you might get your ass kicked by Vinny the Bouncer.

In the end there's only one way to find out the answer to this question: you're going to have to try it. Good luck and let me know how it turns out for you.

Q: Jesse - what's the difference between peanut butter and jam?
A: Peanut butter is a food spread made from mashed up peanuts mixed with a little salt and sugar. Jam is a spread that is made from fruit juice, bits of fruit, and a gelatin mix. Jelly, by contrast, does not contain bits of fruit in it, only the flavor of the fruit.

Q: Brett - You guys are bad at this.
A: Oh I don't know about that.

Q: Bill - Not just bad...terrible
A: Come on, Bill. Give them a little time.

Q: Matt - Terribad. But on a serious note, I do have a question. Why is it that for most sports, the clock counts DOWN from a certain time (say, 20:00 for hockey) whereas for soccer the clock counts UP to 90:00?
A: Imprecise time management of is one of many things about soccer that bugs me, but it's this imprecision that leads us to the answer to the question. The reason that the clock counts up is that the clock is not stopped for interruptions in the game such as goals, injuries or streakers (the link is safe for work, I assure you). The refs decide how much time is needed to account for those things and simply tacks that time onto the end. For example, if they decide that the game needs to go on for an additional three minutes, then the total time will be 93 minutes rather than -3 minutes.

Also, as Jon Otter correctly pointed out: "The clock counts up to 20:00 in international hockey. You should watch the Olympics more often." I agree on both counts, though I admit that I'd forgotten that tidbit about international hockey.

Q: Matt - Coke or Pepsi?
A: When I still drank sugared sodas on a regular basis I always preferred Pepsi to Coke. I don't know why exactly, but I just liked it better. Pepsi also makes my favorite caffeinated beverage: Mountain Dew. All throughout college it was my energy drink of choice. Before most hockey games I would purchase a large Mt. Dew to fuel my hyperactive drumming in the pep band. Senior year found me spending lots of time in the computer engineering lab, and to sustain myself I would snack on peach rings, KitKat bars and Mt. Dew.

When my sister developed Type 1 diabetes my family started buying diet sodas. She prefers diet Coke to diet Pepsi and so do I. Later on in my life I decided to stop drinking sugared sodas to reduce the amount of calories in my diet and have switched over to diet Coke and diet Mountain Dew.

I don't drink energy drinks on a regular basis since they tend to make my heart skip, but when I do I prefer the Monster Lo-Carb, which is owned and managed by Coca-Cola.

Q: Sam - will you be my friend?
A: The word "friend" has different connotations today than it did even 5 years ago. Thanks to the advent of social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and Jolinko, the word "friend" has come to include casual online acquaintances as well as genuine friends. I know of people who have hundreds of "friends", though I sincerely doubt that they consider all of them friends in the traditional sense of the word. So if you would like to be my "friend" on Jolinko (or Facebook or Twitter) then sure, why not? Maybe if we get to know each other in the online realm then we can create a genuine actual friendship from it. It could happen.

Q: Jesse - why doesn't google maps give me directions from NYC to London anymore, when it used to tell me to swim across the Atlantic?
A: I didn't know that GoogleMaps did that, but I'm not surprised. Google has been a fairly fun-loving bunch over the years. But I guess they wanted to be a little more professional so that little bit of humor had to go. Bummer. I wish I'd seen it.

Q: Bill - I'm sure Otter will have an answer for this one too...The "progressive" setting on my DVD player doesn't seem to change the picture on my tv. From what I recall, analog tv was 240 lines of resolution, DVD was 480, and HD is 1080. So is the DVD player automatically sending 480 through the component cables? Would progressive take it to 960?
A: I don't know exactly what type of DVD player you have, but I suspect that the "progressive" feature of your DVD player will simply switch from interlaced (normal) to progressive scan. A good article explaining this can be found here, but here's a quick version: A DVD player displays at 480 lines of resolution, either interlaced (every other line, switching at a given frequency) or progressive (all lines at once). Your television is an HD set, however, which means a resolution of 720 or 1080 depending on the quality of the set. By default the DVD player won't take up the full screen. If your DVD player is an upconverting one (as I suspect it is) then you have to find the setting that lets you change the resolution to either 720p, 1080i, or 1080p. That will make the DVD take up the full screen and improve the quality of the image for you.

If I've misread your question then please tell me and I'll do my best to answer it next time. Good luck!

Q: Jarsh - I can answer the progressive question too...
A: Perhaps "Ask Jarsh" would be a logical progression for this feature. Or maybe "Ask Jolinko" (or in keeping with the backwardsness, "Ask Okniloj").

Q: Robert - I am looking for a good eye-opener recipe for use on the early leg of certain trips. I'm looking to add Kahlua, and Baileys Irish Cream to Coffee. What proportions should I use?
A: I've never tried adding alcohol to coffee before. I would trust the opinions of fellow Ask Mitssob aficionados with their suggestions. Below are the comments that followed this question:

Eric (Carney): I usually use a shot of each plus a shot of Irish Whiskey.
Sam: i usually go kahlua OR bailey's, and always heavier on the whiskey
Robert: I've had Kalhua and Bailey's in 1:1 proportion by themselves... It was delicious. I just figure it'd be good with coffee too.
Eric (Democko): Carney- that is your coffee recipe for weekdays. what would you add on the weekends?
Eric (Carney): hookers.
Jake: Now THAT is coffee I would drink.
Rani: I thought it's supposed to help get the taste of hookers out of your mouth though on weekends

I must say that I'm proud at how quickly this commentary degenerated into hookers. Where else but Jolinko is such a thing possible? It makes me wish I'd listened to my editor and put this feature out in public sooner. [Ed: I told you, Tim. Why don't you ever listen to me? Because you, like the other voices in my head, are not generally to be trusted.]

The only random thought I might add would be to make a White Russian and pour coffee into it. Of course this might anger the Lebowski Gods, but I'd be willing to risk that for the sake of this answer.

Q: Bill Jeffers - Basement is cold, bedroom is warm. Grok no like.
A: Based on both your statement and the logic of Goldilocks and The Three Bears the first floor of your house must be just right so you should live there until this season passes.