Saturday, November 14, 2009

56 - Answers

[Editor's Note: Tim has been working on these answers for the better part of a month now. Unfortunately it's NaNoWriMo season again so he's more pressed for time than usual. Honestly I don't know what that man does with his time. He could be running a meth lab out of his basement for all I know. What I do know is that he finally came through with the second-longest set of answers in Ask Mitssob history. It's not his best work, but it'll do.]

Q: Bill - Why do trees rot from the inside out?
A: Despite several minutes of research on the topic I have no idea why trees rot from the inside out. I learned a bit about tree rot in general. Heart Rot Tree Disease, for example, "is caused by fungi which have entered the tree through open wounds and bare exposed wood." I also found this site that explains how to evaluate trunk cavities. I would guess the answer is that the rot attacks the oldest wood first, and that wood is found at the center of the tree. I suggest tracking down an arborist if you want a more complete answer.

Q: vanessa - Why do people carve pumpkins for Halloween? (I've actually heard 'why' but I'd like to see what you dig up!)
A: From the site PumpkinCarving101:

On this magical night, glowing jack-o-lanterns, carved from turnips or gourds, were set on porches and in windows to welcome deceased loved ones, but also to act as protection against malevolent spirits. Burning lumps of coal were used inside as a source of light, later to be replaced by candles.

Today people carve pumpkins as a way to celebrate the holiday, to enjoy the feeling of pumpkin guts on their hands, and to provide targets for malicious youths wishing to rebel against society by smashing the hard work of others.

Q: Eric Democko - What is the temperature in Honolulu in October?
A: It is a lovely mid-80s at the time I am writing this. The palm trees are swaying in a gentle breeze and the ocean looks like something out of a postcard.

Q: Bill - What do I do to make facebook applications with all these flash/java animations run faster on my computer? Is it RAM? Video Card? Processor?
A: There are a few things to do that can make your computer run faster.

1. Eliminate background processes. Things like virus scanners, search-engine-toolbars, etc can slow your computer down if there are enough of them.
2. Defragment your hard drive.
3. Uninstall programs that you no longer need or use.
4. Clean out your registry. [Ed. - Isn't he already married? Not that kind of registry, you computer-illiterate nay-sayer.]

This last one is something that I've overlooked in past conversations with you about this subject. The Windows registry is where applications store information that they use while running. When you first do an install of Windows your registry is fairly small and clean, but over time the registry can get bloated with extra information from old applications that you've uninstalled, or outdated information from applications you no longer use. As the registry grows larger and more complex it takes longer for applications and Windows itself to scan it and find the information that they need to run. Thus you should clean it out from time to time to help your computer run faster.

On that topic, while I was researching this question I found a utility called CCleaner. I used it on my Dell D600 laptop as a test to see if it would help make it run faster, and I have to say that it seems to have done the job well so far. It got rid of about 500MB worth of temporary files, plus it cleaned out 232 registry entries that were no longer needed. My laptop boots noticeably faster now and seems to run smoother too. I suggest giving it a shot. If you'd like a house call then let me know and I'll swing by sometime.

Q: Brett - I might have already asked this, but it is a good question; Do you think Bob Seger ever made it to Kathmandu?
A: You did in fact ask me this question earlier this year. It was part of Episode 43 of Ask Mitssob. As I said then, I do think that he made it.

Q: Brett - If I already asked that, then never mind, but here is a new question also concerning Mr. Seger: If Bob Seger was from Detroit, why did he call his band the Silver Bullet band? Was Bob Seger a werewolf hunter? Or just a fan of Coors Light?
A: I do not have the faintest idea why Bob Seger named one of his bands the Silver Bullet Band. It's entirely possible that he was a werewolf and/or vampire hunter and used the name of his band as a sort of reverse camouflage to deflect attention away from him. The name could also be meant to inspire vampire/werewolf hunters around the greater Detroit area.

I find it hard to believe that a love of Coors Light was the reason for the name of his band. For one thing, one of his early singles with the Silver Bullet Band was called "Get Out of Denver." Why would he advocate getting out of a place that produced the beer he'd named his band for? To paraphrase the Chewbacca defense, that does not make sense.

I think that it's more likely that the name of the band is a reference to the common meaning of the term "silver bullet", which is a one-shot, simple solution to a complex problem. Am I right? I have no idea. You'll have to ask Mr. Seger that question to get the real story.

Q: Jesse - how much sex is too much?
A: I made the mistake of asking my coworkers this question one night in Hawaii as we walked to dinner.

Coworker 1: If you start needing blue pills.
Coworker 2: If your genitals get covered in puss.

And those were the only two responses that I can actually post here. The rest were just too graphic for a family site. I'm trying hard to forget them myself.

The glib answer to this question would be, "Too much sex? What, are you crazy? There's no such thing!" In fact I think that there are definitely cases where there can be too much sex. For example, I've heard that if you are trying to conceive then too much sex can lead to diminishing returns, that is your odds of conceiving actually go down. That's one case where there is such a thing as too much sex.

Also, and not to get overly graphic here, but I imagine that the physical limitation on sex in the, um, lubrication department depends on each individual. I won't add any more to that. In fact, let's just move on.

There is also a psychological angle to this question. Sex is as much about the mind as it is the body. If you have lots of sex with multiple partners, aside from the obvious physical hazards from STDs, there is the danger of depression and other psychological ailments.

Ultimately it's dependent on too many variables to give a single answer. Normally this is the part of my answer where I'd say to go ahead and find out the limit for yourself, but in this case I'll hold back that advice. I'll just say that you should have as much sex as you and your partner are comfortable with. Good luck out there, people.

Q: Anonymous - mitsob, I am an average guy trying to seduce better than average women. Recently I was propositioned by one young lady to "Talk nerdy to me." What should I say?
A: Frankly I'm afraid to touch this question. I am both an acknowledged nerd and a well-below-average ladies man. In other words, I can speak nerd but can't guarantee that anything I come up with will help you make inroads with the opposite sex. So rather than strain my brain I will turn this answer over to my close personal friend the Internet.

First, I came across this article at It's got some good advice, including a couple of pickup lines like "Hey, we can make beautiful .wav files together." And speaking of pickup lines, a collection of 50 nerdy pickup lines can be found here. I just read them and am speechless. Some of them might actually work for you, amazing as that sounds. I found another good pickup line on twitter: hey babe, wanna come over to myspace and twitter my yahoo 'til I google all over your facebook? Simple, direct, and clever. Finally, for more inspiration you might try reading the book "Talk Nerdy To Me" by Vicki Lewis Thompson.

By the way, if any of these lines work please let me know. I need all the help I can get.

Q: Jesse - what is a better way to wake up in the morning so I am not late to work?
A: Before I give my answer let me share a quick anecdote. I'm writing some of these answers from lovin' cup, a coffee/wine/beer bar and restaurant next to RIT's campus. It's a pleasant place to do a little writing, and I thought by coming here that I would be left alone. Well just as I started writing this answer a blonde haired young man with a scraggly beard and a Grateful Dead necklace moseyed over to me and asked what I was doing. I told him I was writing answers to questions, and that one was about how to wake up better. His suggestion was to "make sure some bitch is there to give you a fuckin' blowjob when you wake up." After giving that answer he drifted off, then came back asked me if I would like a Xanax to "help you mellow out." Judging from his demeanor I'd say he can't have many to spare.

Anyway, now that that's over with let me get on with the answer. I will divide up this answer into two categories: sleeping, and morning routine.

First, some suggestions on how to improve your sleeping routine:
- Go to bed earlier. An average adult requires at least 6 hours of sleep per night. If you're not getting that much then it can be harder to wake up.
- As Matt suggested: "Don't drink so much the night before." Alcohol can help you fall asleep faster but you won't sleep as deeply or as well, and thus will have a harder time waking up in the morning.
- Try reading for a while in bed before actually trying to sleep. It can help you relax and get you more ready for sleep.

Next, here are some ideas on how to change your routine so as to maximize the amount of time that you can stay in bed every morning.
- Shower the night before.
- Sleep in the clothes you plan on wearing to work the next day. That will save you at least a minute.
- If you bring your lunch with you to work, make it the night before.

Finally, it wouldn't be a true Ask Mitssob answer without some random silliness thrown in for good measure:
- Move closer to work.
- Sleep at your desk at night.
- Quit your job and work from home.

Q: Matt - What are your thoughts on Congress getting involved with sports? They had the giant steroids debacle, and now they're having hearings about NFL injuries. Should they be sticking to issues like fixing healthcare and the economy, or is this a legit topic for them?
A: I think that Congress should stay out of sports unless we allow those persons under investigation in sports the opportunity to meddle in the affairs of Congress. Seems fair to me.

On a more serious note I do not think that Congress should get involved in the issues surrounding injuries in the NFL. Professional sports in general are privately run and privately owned enterprises. Any issues that do not affect the public sphere should not be the business of Congress. Now, if an NFL team engages in criminal activity such as laundering money or murdering players who don't perform well then Congress would be right to investigate. But player health issues fall under the NFL's umbrella. If the NFL is not doing a good job of taking care of its players then that's an issue between the players and the NFL, not Congress.

More to the point, is it the role of Congress to look at these issues? The United States Constitution is pretty clear about the roles of the three branches of government. Nowhere is it mentioned that Congress should get involved in the recreational affairs of the citizens, nor in the legal business practices of private companies.

Q(A): Bill - NFL injuries? Really? I think they should mandate that quarterbacks not be treated like porcelain dolls. These roughing the quartback-contact to the head calls are getting ridiculous.
Q(B): Kristian - Aaron Rodgers got cracked in the helmet last night and nothing was called. I was shocked. And the reason they're treated like porcelain dolls is because of Brady.

A: I agree with both up to a point. Yes, quarterbacks are being overprotected in today's NFL, and yes, part of the reason that they're treated like "porcelain dolls" is because of the injury that Brady sustained last year. But why are quarterbacks being treated that way? The logic behind protecting quarterbacks is that they are generally the most visible and high-profile football players on any particular team. They often make the most money and thus represent the biggest investment a team makes as far as players go. So when a team's quarterback gets injured the team as a whole suffers greatly. Thus there is an interest on the part of the teams to lobby for greater protection of the quarterbacks.

Now, has the pendulum swung too far in the direction of quarterback protection? I think so, yes. Personally I'd like to see the line come down as follows:
1. A quarterback should be subject to the same "dirty hits" rules as every other player. Late hits, facemasks, spearing, etc. should be called the same regardless of what position you play.
2. Eliminate "roughing the passer" and "roughing the kicker" penalties altogether. Yes, they are in "helpless" positions from time to time. My answer: if you don't want to get hit then go be a golfer. Otherwise accept the fact that you play a rough sport.

Q: Kristian - Going along with the sports topic, why does Bud Selig not have a spine?
A: I am not exactly sure what you are referring to. If you wouldn't mind, could you give me some specific instance of his lacking a spine? I'm not trying to duck the question, but I don't want to answer until I know what you're asking about. Sorry. See you next time.

Q: Eric - instant replay in baseball: will it ever happen for more than just reviews of home runs? also, why do the umps in the world series suck so bad?
A: Instant replay in baseball will expand to other aspects of the game sooner rather than later. It might come as soon as next year but I would guess that it'll be more like three years before the next change in instant replay happens. The next area of the game to get attention will be calls on the bases, particularly close calls at first base and during steals, and also fair and foul balls.

As to why the umps in the world series suck so bad, I think it's a combination of factors. Despite the fact that we all want them to be perfect Umpires are human. They make mistakes. Did this world series contain more mistakes than normal? I know that it seemed that way judging from the quantity and voracity of reactions from fans of both teams. Another factor could be the crowds themselves. I think that umpires are more susceptible to pressure from a vocal crowd than they admit. And that's a very human reaction to their job. They want to make everyone happy, and I suspect that that failing contributes to some bad calls.

Finally, people of a more conspiratorial mindset than me will say that the umps are fudging calls in the game so as to give one team an advantage over another as part of a larger plan (such as making sure the series goes longer). I personally do not believe this, but I also know that there's a wide range of people who do. Maybe I'm looking at the sports world in general with rose colored glasses, but I believe that it's more likely that umpires either make mistakes or are influenced by a home crowd than in some grand conspiracy.

Q: Matt - The Sprint Cup series race at Talladega on the weekend was complete horseshit. A lot of people including myself blame the lack of exciting racing on the implementation of the restrictor plates designed to make the top speed slower and hence accidents that are less harsh. On the flipside, the cars are bunched up so close that now it's almost impossible to have a race without having one or more big big crashes. The Truck Series race was also held at the same track on the same weekend with much better racing and much fewer wrecks as well. So I ask, are the plates really doing that much good?
A: A disclaimer: I am not a racing fan. I know very little about the sport, and care about it even less. Normally I use "Ask Mitssob" as a way to expand my knowledge about a particular subject and come to some kind of educated and informed opinion about things I don't know much about. I confess that my desire to be educated on this subject is pretty low, so I'll be relying on common knowledge, intuition, and guesses for this answer.

As far a I can tell the rules in NASCAR are set up for two reasons. The first is safety. By limiting the top speed that a race car can be driven that means that the top speed that it can strike an object is limited and the risk of injury to the driver is reduced. The second reason to make the cars as equal as possible so that the race comes down to the driver. That's a very noble goal, but teams are going to try and bend those rules as much as possible to gain some kind of mechanical edge. The smarter the crew chief, the more likely that they will find some way to eek out an edge within the rules.

In my opinion when the rules of sports are rewritten to make things more "fair" then the sport itself tends to suffer. In the case of NASCAR the rules put in place to level the playing field are in fact creating more dangerous and less competitive conditions. Is that good? No, I don't think so.

Let me turn the question around and ask what the purpose of the restrictor plate really is. As you point out the cars have a lower top speed, but cars are more bunched up as a result. When cars are more bunched up there is a bigger danger of large and spectacular wrecks. Big crashes are one of the reasons that people tune in to watch racing. So it begs the question: could it be that the actual purpose is to cause more dangerous racing conditions? I know that sounds conspiratorial, but it's something to consider.

Q: Sarah LaBombard - Are you moving to Hawaii?
A: No. I enjoyed my three weeks in Hawaii very much. Ultimately, though, it reminded me that I am a cold weather creature. I have said before that I would have trouble living in a place that didn't have four seasons and three weeks in Hawaii did not change that. Don't get me wrong, I had a blast and I will certainly go back in the future, but as for a permanent relocation I will pass.