Friday, December 30, 2011

Weird Dream of Weirdness

I had a dream this morning.

I remember nothing from it, except that it involved a dwarf who was the reincarnation of the immortal sentient plant Corcox.

I think there's a short story in there somewhere.

That is all.


Monday, December 19, 2011

The Christmas Beard: A Heartwarming Story of Love and Facial Hair

A long time ago, there was a lonely, homeless beard. To protect his privacy, we'll call him Rupert.

Once, Rupert had been a large, flowing white beard full of life, joy, and little pieces of yesterday's roast beef and potatoes. His master loved him like a son.

Well, not quite. But still, he loved him very much.

Then came the fateful day when, due to harsh economic circumstances, his master had to give up his dream of being a famous novelist and go to work for a local fast food restaurant, McGrubbies.

The Manager of McGrubbies hired him on one condition.

"You've got to get rid of that beard!" said the Manager. "It's better off on its own. If the Health Department sees it, we'll get in trouble, and they're throw it into Beard Jail."

The Master was briefly torn between his need for money and his love for his beard. But money won out in the end, as it so often does.

"I'm sorry," he said, and a tear rolled down his cheek as the scissors went snick! snick! snick! Rupert fell to the floor with a flump, and slowly inched his way out the door.

Now, cut loose from his home chin, Rupert was nothing more than a dirty collection of tangled hairs. He fondly remembered how his master used to stroke him and cuddle with him, and how it used to keep him warm in the winter. If Rupert could have cried hairy tears, he would have.

Rupert crawled miserably along the sidewalk, pausing dramatically now and then to feel sorry for himself. Suddenly, the wind picked up, and a gust lifted the beard into the air. Several strands of hair floated away and were seized by passing birds, who incorporated them into their nests.

Presently, he smacked into something with a thwop! It was a face. Rupert thrrrped with joy. A face! Finally, a new chin on which to rest!

The face said, "Ew, a possum!" and grabbed at the beard. The person to whom the face belonged held Rupert up and examined him.

"Oh," the person said. "It's just a dirty old beard. Yuck!" The person threw Rupert to the ground, leaving him more dejected and morose than ever.

No one will ever love me again... thought Rupert.

It wasn't long before the wind caught him again. He bumbled along like a tumbleweed, wafting through the suburbs and into the city, where he smacked into something else with a thwop! A big black nose sniffed at him. The nose belonged to a big brown dog of indeterminate breed.

The dog said "Arf!" In his depressed state, Rupert assumed this meant that the dog hated him too. Unfortunately for Rupert, this was rather far from the truth. Really, in dog language, this meant, "Ooh! A possum!"

The big brown dog of indeterminate breed picked Rupert up in his mouth and tossed its head back and forth. scattering more hairs to the wind.

Ow! thought Rupert. This dog loves me a little too much...

This went on for quite a while. Eventually the big brown dog of indeterminate breed figured out that Rupert was in fact a beard, not a possum. "Arf!" the dog said.

Rupert was now dirtier and slobberier than ever. The wind picked him up again, dragging him along through the muck. Eventually, the wind dropped him in front of a house in the middle of the city, and there he sat, feeling as though the entire world had unceremoniously taken a poo directly upon him.

The house belonged to Cornelius P. Widdleston, of the Mid-City Santa Brigade. The children called him Mr. Widdles for short, so that's what we'll call him from now on.

Mr. Widdles was a jolly, good little man who, along with other members of the Mid-City Santa Brigade, dressed up as Santa, visited the homes of children who did not have very much money, and gave them Christmas presents.

Mr. Widdles was in a very bad mood.

"Where is my Santa beard?!" he shouted, storming around the house. "I can't be Santa without my beard!"

It wasn't in the bathroom. It wasn't in the fridge. It wasn't in the microwave. It certainly wasn't in the living room.

Mr. Widdles flopped down on the couch in a huff. "This is ridiculous," he said. "I just used it yesterday!"

He looked at his watch and gasped. "It's almost time for me to leave!" He shrugged and sighed. "Oh well. At least I can still give them the presents."

Wearing the rest of his Santa suit, Mr. Widdles stumped out the door.

"What's that, a possum?" said Mr. Widdles.

There was Rupert, lying in a beardy pile on the doorstep.

Mr. Widdles picked him up. "Wait a minute...that's a beard!" he said. "Hmm. It's pretty dirty."

Then, Mr. Widdles had a stupendous idea. Taking Rupert inside, he shampooed him up and put him under some hot, hot water, scrubbing him until all the dirt and grime came out.

Ow ow ow! thought Rupert. He's a maniac! Surely this'll be the end of me.

After carefully wringing Rupert out, Mr. Widdles took a hair dryer and blew hot air on him - vree! vree! - until he was dry and poofy.

"There! Good as new!" said Mr. Widdles. "It's even better than my other beard. Who would give up a beard like this?"

I'm...I'm clean! thought Rupert. And I think he likes me! Maybe things aren't going to be as bad as I thought they were.

Mr. Widdles glued a rubber band to Rupert so he could wear him on his face. Rupert wasn't so sure about this part, but it felt good to be resting on a chin again.

Then, with Rupert on his face and a jaunty Christmas tune stuck in his head, Mr. Widdles stepped out the door to bring joy to all the Mid-City children.

And so, the beard that had been cast off and forgotten found a home, and became The Christmas Beard.

Merry Christmas from the Institute.


Monday, December 12, 2011

The Content Percent

Sometimes I wonder how much of the Occupy movement has to do with simple envy and feelings of entitlement. I may just be projecting, since I recognize those feelings in myself.

Sure, it's good to stand against injustice, but I think most people are just frustrated and looking for someone to blame.

Instead of clamoring for what we think life owes us, why not learn to be content with the things we have?

Instead of blaming others for our problems, why not help one another out of them?

I'm not trying to discredit the Occupy movement. I just think it's healthy for people to question their motives.

Hoping to be part of the content percent,


Friday, December 9, 2011

The Game

So, after reading my good friend Evan's giant comment, and seeing Cameron's interest, here are a few things I've been thinking of.

Making a small blogsite to keep track of the standings is a great idea. I shall do this forthwith.

Graduated XP amounts are also a great idea.

Here is the Graduated XP Scale:

Level 1: 10 XP
Level 2: 15 XP
Level 3: 20 XP

I think you understand the pattern.

Here's how all of this will work. At the beginning of your day, whenever that is, write down a list of things you would like to accomplish during that day. For every thing on that list that you accomplish, you'll earn an XP. If you complete all the things on your list, you'll gain 2 bonus XP.

First person to reach Level 10 gets a $10 gift card for something of his or her choice. Since it's just me and Cam right now, the loser will buy the gift card. If we get more people involved, the losers will each contribute an equal amount of money for the card.

I'm going to call this the Life Game. So far, Cam and I are the only players. If anyone's interested in joining us, hit me up!

Because it would be unfair to Cam and any other players, I'm voiding the XP I gained on my own. The game starts for real on Monday.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Poker Night is for Losers

I make lists of things to do on little desktop sticky notes. It helps my fragile little brain remember that playing Spore for five hours is probably not the best way to get ahead in life.


Anyway, I've decided to tie my experience points to the things on my lists. As in, "Oh joy and gladness! I did something on my list today, which means I get an experience point! Hurrah!

I've decided that 10 XP (experience points, not xylophone points like you were probably thinking) will be equal to 1 Life Point (LP), and that 10 LP will allow me to ascend to the next level of existence and become a Level 2 Human Bean.

Although this ascension would indeed give me great personal satisfaction, I'm beginning to realize that this whole point thing only works if I get new stuff with every level, or if I'm competing with someone.

Interesting. I'll have to think on this a little and get back to you all.

XP Count: 3
1 for doing dishes
1 for finding someone to take my shift on Saturday
1 for working on my RPG

Monday, December 5, 2011


My wife and I recently started using Sparkpeople as a part of our diet plan. It's a site that helps people monitor the amount of calories they consume each day.

The most useful feature of the site is, however, a motivational one. Sparkpeople rewards users with "sparkpoints" when they login to the site, record the food they've eaten, exercise, read health-related articles, and many other things. If you accumulate enough points, you can move to the next level. The levels are mostly symbolic, but reaching the next level is ironically addictive.

I thought the reason was because I'm a gamer. Some part of me hopes that the next level will allow me to use better gear and give me the ability to blow crap up with my mind.

Actually, however, my wife has been more insane about sparkpoints than I have, and though she's been around gamers all her life, she has not yet imbibed the kool-aid.

I think the reason these points work so well is that people are eager to see immediate successful results, even if they're fake. It's one thing to have a far-out goal that you want to reach some day; it's another thing entirely to feel like you're steadily reaching that goal, piece by piece, day by day, point by point.

With this in mind, I'm going to do an experiment. I'm going to apply the Point Principle to every aspect of my life for a week, or as many as I can think of, and see what happens. Come back next Monday to find out how it went.

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The Institute for Circular Reasoning by Peter Semple is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.