Friday, October 10, 2014

68 - Answers

Q: Jacob - I see you watched The Room. How many times and have you read The Disaster Artist? Also how can I achieve monies like Tommy Wiseau?
A: I have only seen The Room once and let me assure those of you who haven't seen it that once is two times too many. It's not that it's just a bad movie, because it certainly is that. It's that it tries SOOOOOOO HAAAARRRD to be a real movie that you feel bad for it, but then you stop feeling bad for it because it's SOOOOOOO BAAAAAAAD. 

In 2013 Greg Sestero (who played Mark in the movie) and Tom Bissell released a book called The Disaster Artists: My Life Inside The Room describing Mark's experience making the movie and his friendship with Tommy Wiseau. The book has been optioned by James Franco's production company and is going to be made into a movie starring Franco as Tommy Wiseau. I have not read the book yet but just added it to my library's wish list. Once it comes in I'll be sure to read it.

The question about "monies" is one of the many mysteries surrounding Tommy Wiseau. "The Room" cost about $6,000,000 to make and people are not sure where he got the money for it. There are rumors of illegal activities, shady business partners, and even shadier foreign sources. So how can you get your very own secret, untapped vein of unlimited money to use for your own pet projects? 
- Legally: Earn the money, invest it wisely, and spend wisely until you have a pile big enough for your uses.
- Illegally: Start one or more of your own criminal enterprises (smuggle cigarettes, cook meth, run an offshore gambling site, etc.)
- More Illegally: Steal it. 
- Really Illegally: Print your own counterfeit money.

Best of luck in your new career generating monies!

Q: Barn - I've been feeling rather uninspired with writing lately. Should I take a break (it's already been like 6-7 weeks), or push through? Is it better to phone in writing for writings sake, or wait to feel inspired?
A: In my opinion you should push through. I've found that hurdles like that are best met with a full frontal assault. Just write. Lots. I've been told that if you want to be a writer then the first step is to write. The more you do it the better you're going to get at it. Like sex. 

Allow me to recommend my personal favorite writing experience as a way to break you out of your funk. National Novel Writing Month, as longtime readers of Ask Mitssob know, is a yearly writing competition that I've been participating in since 2004. The goal is to write 50,000 words of a novel (defined as original fiction) in the 30 days of November. The reason I think it will help you is that one of the driving principles of NaNoWriMo is quantity over quality. To meet the writing goals you are discouraged from editing, overthinking, etc. Just write until you hit your word count.

Hope you decide to join me in this, and if you do I hope it helps!

Q: Vanessa - A fun one to break up the questions: what is your favorite internet meme and why?
A: I've delayed answering this question to the end and ultimately haven't come to any good answer. There's just way too many to choose from, ranging from the good to the really good to the utterly stupid. But to choose a favorite would be like having to choose my favorite blade of grass. Or something. Sorry for the disappointing lack-of-answer here, if I have energy I'll take another look next week.

Q: Bill - Is ello good enough to eclipse the usership.of Facebook? Or will it just be Emohipsterbook and the rest of us will stay where we are?

(Insert non-answer here)

A: [Ed: Bill's got a point, you haven't been giving his questions very good answers lately. Well it's not my fault that he asks questions I don't feel like answering well!]

ello is an invitation-only social network that launched this summer and has been the subject of recent press hype. It was built with the promise that users' information will not be sold to or shared with third parties for use in advertising. Their mission statement can be found here and is printed below:

Your social network is owned by advertisers.

Every post you share, every friend you make, and every link you follow is tracked, recorded, and converted into data. Advertisers buy your data so they can show you more ads. You are the product that’s bought and sold.

We believe there is a better way. We believe in audacity. We believe in beauty, simplicity, and transparency. We believe that the people who make things and the people who use them should be in partnership.

We believe a social network can be a tool for empowerment. Not a tool to deceive, coerce, and manipulate — but a place to connect, create, and celebrate life.

You are not a product.

With that strong statement it seems that ello was born in response to growing user backlash against Facebook and Facebook's policies. Like many recent backlashes and controversies (coughWashingtonRedskinscough) I think that the voices of the few are being amplified beyond their actual influence and the caring of the public at large. Is Facebook selling/sharing users' information to make money? Of course! Do people care? The answer seems to be no, at least so far.

There are lots and lots and lots of social networks out there, not to mention other ways of oversharing yourself on the Internet. To answer the last part of your question, I think that people will gravitate to and stick with what works for them, which today means Facebook. 

As a postscript to this answer, in the time since you asked this question ello's 15 minutes of fame seem to have run out. Will they recover and gather a critical mass of users to do, well, whatever it is they're trying to do? I doubt it, but anything's possible.

Q: Gobe - What is the superior flavor, vanilla or french vanilla?
A: I have to go with French Vanilla for no other reason than the fact that creme brulee is one of my wife's favorite desserts.

Q: Jacob - Why are less processed, natural foods so much more expensive... TELL ME THIS!
A: Wow, ok, well, then let me TELL YOU THIS post-haste! In short it's because crop yields are lower for "natural foods" than for more traditional methods of farming. The crops do not grow as well and more of the crop is lost due to disease, and a similar thing is true for farm animals being raised for food. The trade-off is that the food is better for you because of lower amounts of insecticides and other chemicals. I won't get into which one is better or whether that trade-off is worth it, but it is a subject I find interesting to think about.

Q: Mike Guethle - I just drank two bottles of kitty wine and am about to take an evening jaunt to pound town with a girl that is going to England/Italy for a month. We've come to an agreement that hey, we've been doing whatever for 4ish weeks and we're going to be apart 4ish weeks, let's do our own thing for that time and then maybe get back together after.

What are my chances of catching ebola from her vagina when she returns?
A: You've just given me a great plot (and possibly title) for this year's novel. Thanks!

Also yuck.

One thing before I get going: for the first time in Ask Mitssob history I'm going to hide some details of an answer behind a spoiler tag. If you're sensitive about gross things I suggest that you skip it. Trust me. You've been warned.

You've been "doing whatever" with this girl for 4ish weeks, so I'll assume that this involves more than just holding hands. As I started to answer your question I stuck with the "more than holding hands" angle for her contracting Ebola, but it occurs to me that you're not asking HOW she contracts Ebola but rather what the odds are that she'll transmit it to you via her vagina upon her return.

So let's talk about Ebola. Ebola is transmitted by prolonged exposure to the bodily fluids of someone with the disease. The most contagious are blood and digestive fluids (vomit, diarrhea), though the virus can be found in semen and urine. One interesting thing about Ebola that makes it different from the cold or flu is that you are not contagious until you become symptomatic. To my mind this reduces the chances of sex, but I'm getting ahead of myself. The other point to note is that the incubation period for the disease is between 6 and 21 days. 

With that introduction let's start with the odds of her contracting the disease in the first place. As of today (October 7, 2014) Ebola has only spread to two first-world countries: ours and Spain. Given air travel and lax screening, odds are good that someone with the disease will end up landing in England or Italy by the time of her trip. In fact, I'll go so far as to say it's 100% probable. With that assumption, what are the odds that she's going to encounter one (or more) people who have Ebola and are contagious at the time of the encounter? I'll give that a very low probability, but it's also not zero.

[SPOILER]
OK, time for the really gross stuff. I interpret your question to mean "what are the chances that I will contract Ebola sexually from this girl?" So assuming that she contracts the disease and is infectious by the time she encounters you, we need to add another layer to the probability equation: transmission. Below are some, well, rather disgusting methods of sexual transmission of Ebola that I've dreamed up:

Vaginal Intercourse (10%): I assume unprotected and that there are bleeding wounds on both ends of the transaction, which would make transmission much more likely.
Rear Entry Intercourse (25%): To me this is the riskiest proposition since it puts your manhood in close proximity to the most dangerous of the bodily fluids associated with the transmission of Ebola. Ditto unprotected and bleeding wounds.
Oral (25%): Again, open bleeding wounds would make this pretty likely regardless of direction. If you're on the receiving end and she vomits that's the worst-case scenario.
Golden Shower (5%): While not technically "her vagina" I think it's close enough to count. Again, this would require some disease-allowing point of entry on your body.
German Scheizer Video (15%): Same as above but with the added bonus of involving the most dangerous bodily fluid.

So to minimize your chances of getting Ebola from her vagina, I would not engage in any of the above activities given the above disclaimers.
[/SPOILER]

The final thing to note is the duration of her trip. If she contracts the disease on the last day of her visit then you have 21 days until she'd be symptomatic (and therefore contagious). So to reduce to zero your chances of "catching Ebola from her vagina" I would avoid any intimate physical contact for 21 days.

OK, that was horrible. I need to take a shower before moving on here. Blech!

Q: Oh wise Mitssob, what should I get Kallie for our first anniversary?
A: The first wedding anniversary (and congratulations again, by the way, not only for making it through a year of marriage but for finding someone kind and patient enough to agree to marry you in the first place) is the paper anniversary. While shopping for my own first anniversary I found some very interesting paper-themed gifts while looking at Etsy and Pinterest. Unfortunately nothing I found matched my wife's sense of style but maybe you'll have better luck than I did.

My original plan for a gift was for us to spend our first anniversary in a nice location with sandy beaches near the equator. Unfortunately due to a schedule mixup with my father's office the only time my parents were able to visit us over the summer was that weekend, so we're going to delay that trip until later this winter. We did take the whole week off and did the "staycation" thing, breaking it up with a romantic day/night in beautiful Niagara on the Lake. It's a charming little town with nice shops, a reputation for good theaters (we didn't take in a show but I've heard good things), and I recommend it if you're looking for a nice vacation spot close to home.

So to sum up, tradition says paper, Mitssob says vacation. Congratulations again and hope you and Kallie enjoy many more anniversaries together!

Q: What is the furthest North I can drive to in the eastern half of Canada?
A: I fired up Google Earth and spent a few minutes tracing roads in northern Quebec and Newfoundland provinces. As far as my tracings go the northernmost town you can get to by road in the eastern half of Canada is Cartwright, Newfoundland. I'm sure that there are unmarked roads and trails that you can drive on further north than that but I wouldn't venture much farther north without a good vehicle, a guide, and proper equipment.

Q: Jacob - Where can I find inexpensive barrels to ferment food in?
A: Depending on what you're trying to ferment I would suggest getting in touch with local wineries. They have many barrels used during the wine making process and might be willing to give you some old ones. They have the benefit of being watertight so they would probably work for your fermenting.

The word "barrels" implies that you're looking to find something large. If you need something big but not THAT big then you might want to try large plastic buckets with lids. 

Q: Sheamus - What's a pederast, Mitssob?
A: Shut the fuck up, Sheamus.

Sorry, again with the rudeness. However, in this case I think the jury will agree that you asked for it given the pop culture reference that you were making. Your honor? [Ed: Guilty as charged. Thank you, your honor.]

To answer your question, the dictionary definition of pederast is a man who desires or engages in sexual activity with boys.

Q: Jacob - Why does the term gastropub exist and why should we use it over other terms for a restaurant?
A: I blame hipsters. And racism. And global warming. Climate change. Whatever.

Anyway, a gastropub is a bar that serves better food than you would normally find in a bar. These places are often featured on one of my favorite shows, Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. The name itself came about during the 1990s in places like California, New York, and Pennsylvania. The article doesn't go into why the term exists, but my guess is that it's marketing. If you want to distinguish your restaurant you need a clever, simple term to describe it. "A non-sketchy hipster bar that hired a good chef" doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, but "gastropub" does. It gets the point across and is catchy and memorable, which is perfect for marketing. 

Q: Jesse_Burton - Why do I like the smell of my own farts?
A: I guess I asked for this, didn't I? [Ed: I tried to warn you but did you listen? No, no one ever listens to me. Lesson learned, buddy.] Totally random guess based on nothing in particular is that the smell of your own farts reminds you (in some way) of the food you most recently ate, and if you liked that food then you like the smell of your own farts. 

That might be the biggest reach in the history of Ask Mitssob but I'll stick with it. 

Q: AndrewSmith - How much money do I need to open my own brewery?
A: What you need is an amount of money big enough to:
1. Buy the equipment/location/materials necessary to open said brewery.
2. Hire employees (if needed)
3. Pay taxes, fees, etc. related to starting this business.
4. Fund operations until you achieve profit.

The exact dollar figure depends on decisions that you'll have to make for yourself. Are you going to try to compete with Genesee Beer or are you going for a smaller market? Do you plan to live off of this or is it just a hobby? I can't answer those questions but hopefully my above list helps you get at an answer.

Q: Jacob - Related question, How do you get approval to sell food stuffs at craft fairs and the like?
A: I'll use the Brighton Farmer's Market as my example here. The link is to their vendor applications, which is how you get approval to sell goods and/or services at their location. The application is simple enough but it's the rules that provide a more complete answer to your question. In short they place an emphasis on locally produced foods and goods (local defined as within 100 miles of Brighton), and want to make sure that you're not selling crap (literal or figurative).

Q: Mike Guethe - How much money do I need to never work again?
A: The literal answer to your question is $0 because you could stop working at any time and choose to live without needing money. That is a difficult proposition but it can be done. If you choose to go down that road I wish you the best of luck!

Let me also answer the question in the spirit in which it was asked. I don't know how old you are so I'll put your age down as 25. Assuming that you live until 80 you'll need 55 years worth of living expenses, so take your current monthly living expenses, multiply it by 12 and then again by 55. Of course, that's just to live. If you want more to life than just the necessities then there will be additional costs such as vacations, medical expenses, taxes, enjoyment costs, and bail money.

Here's a parting thought for you: if you choose to devote your life to something akin to the priesthood then the answer is $0. I know that this involves "work" but it's different enough from the "work" you're talking about that I thought I'd throw it in.

Q: Vanessa - When will Guethle first appear on an episode of North Woods Law on Animal Planet?
A: My knowledge of pop culture has more than doubled since I got married, however it was so low to begin with that the increase isn't that much. Hence I had not heard of this show prior to your question. After visiting the website and watching the "Coming this season" promotional video I can say that I won't be watching it, but I can understand the appeal. It features the Maine Warden Service operating in rural Maine and the hilarity than ensues.

I would say that Guethle will first appear on an episode once one or more of the following occur:
- Guethle befriends one of the Maine Warden Service officers on the show.
- Guethle engages in behavior that attracts the attention of the Maine Warden Service. 
- Guethle sleeps with one (or more) of the producers in exchange for camera time.