Episode 32: 9/11 (aka “the doom and gloom episode”)

September 28, 2009

9/11 is a bit of a problematic topic for Nerd Hurdles. For one, no matter what your feelings are on the hype and propaganda surrounding it, it’s just not something you can joke about. People dying isn’t funny. And two, what exactly is the hurdle? From some discussion on the [defunct] Simply Syndicated forums I’ve come to realize it’s primarily a semantic hurdle for me.

The root of most nerd hurdles is really when you have a sickening suspicion that fans of whatever fandom have lost touch with reality. Something about the way 9/11 is treated and spoken about feels entirely insincere. Perhaps that is a byproduct of overly-slick American infotainment news coverage regurgitating propagandistic messages instead of reporting balanced broadcast journalism.

But as much as I disagree with labeling the firefighters at “ground zero” (that term in itself is a hurdle for me) heroes because they were simply people doing their jobs, the height of absurdity has to be the conspiracy theorists. Charlie Sheen‘s recent YouTube appearance is a case in point. The complete breakdown of rational thought is a massive hurdle for me. As is the subtle misuse of language to sway public opinion away from Truth to Idealism is a hurdle for me. Are they “nerd hurdles” per se? Perhaps not. Perhaps I’m just a cynical curmudgeon. Perhaps “perhaps” should not have been in that last sentence.

Next week we return to more classically “nerdy” and, hopefully, less gloomy topics. But first,  let’s take a gander at some stats about casualties in the Iraq War.


Episode 031: Three Weddings and a Funeral School Drop-out (Special Edition)

September 18, 2009

Exactly one month away from our first anniversary as a couple, Mandi and I bring you an episode about weddings. In  Nerd Hurdles #31 we discuss the hurdles and pitfalls of what is perhapsthe third most universal of all life rituals (birth and death are, of course, the only two truly universal events shared by all people on Earth regardless of class, creed or sexual orientation).

Xtinas nerdy-ass zombie wedding.

Xtina’s nerdy-ass zombie wedding.

From cupcakes to diamonds to dog cremains, we cover it all. What’s wrong (or right) with Star Trek weddings? What’s right (or wrong) with dance weddings? Are flying monkeys considered “little people”? What did Hermione wear? You’re right (or wrong) to ask these questions, we don’t guarantee insightful answers.

Thanks to our unwitting research assistant, Camille, for scouring the interwebs for the material used in this episode.

Engagement rings are evil! Boycott diamonds!


Diamonds in the wine

September 10, 2009

When our Starbase 66 friends came to visit, Kennedy brought some Canadian tetra pak wine (20 Bees) for Karen and her Dearly Beloved which they “forgot” at Mandi’s place. Eventually it ended up at my place and then in our tummies.

Upon emptying the box we noticed it was rattling as if it were full of sand. Dumping this sand out, it appeared to be sand made out of glass. Not sharp, but hard and clear and seemingly non soluble in liquid. In fact we couldn’t see how it could be anything other than glass. Perhaps it had been in the grapes and had been ground down in the grape crushing process. Curious, Mandi sent the winery this letter:

Dear 20 Bees,
 
My partner and I were finishing off a tetra of your 2005 Grower’s red, and were a bit concerned to hear the empty carton rattling. After some inverted shaking we discovered a clear, hard, granular, glass-like substance coming out of the carton.
 
Is this normal, or do we have future careers as glass eaters at a circus?
 
Eagerly awaiting your reply, as the circus is leaving town soon, and we need to know if we should go with them.
 
Thanks, Mandi”

Their reply was interesting:

Thanks for you email….with regards to you question; what you found is not glass.  The crystal like substance that you have found is a known as Tartrate Crystals or Wine Diamonds.  The are caused by unstable tartaric acid and malic acid (natural acidity found in grapes and wines) that precipitate over time.  As this is a cosmetic issue, all wineries attempt to force the unstable precipitation of these acids in our tanks prior to bottling.  This process can take up to 3 to 5 weeks, and is done by chilling the wine down to – 4 C.  Once the precipitation is completed, we filter and then bottle or in this case, package the product.  Now over time, especially in med to full bodied reds, the precipitation of tannins during the aging of the wine will alter the pH and other parameters in the wine, which may cause further unstable precipitation of acids, and this is what you are experiencing.  According to wine writers such as Tony Aspler, wine diamonds are an indication of a good wine.

We will continue to strive to improve our quality control and hope that this has not deterred you from our products in the future.

20 Bees Winery Retail

Who knew? Probably a lot of wine connoisseurs. Myself, I was dubious about the vinters’ claim so I checked the internet and found wine diamonds are indeed a real thing and not a ridiculous cover up. They actually give Germans who go by Weinstien (wine stone) their name. Who knew? Probably the Germans.

Mandi replied:

20 Bees,
 
Thank you for your reply. That’s very interesting. Wine diamonds, fancy.  I am not deterred from future purchases of your product, but I am little disappointed to learn that I will not have a career with the circus.
 
Thanks again,  Mandi

I’m kind of sad we’re not joining the circus as well.


Good week for nerdery

September 2, 2009

This was a banner week for nerds. Most notably Disney bought Marvel Comics. The dorkosphere went nuts. Apparently there are fears (or should that read hopes?) we’ll see Mickey/Wolverine crossovers. I’m not sure what what people are worried about, if they are in fact worried and not just poking fun, since corporate take-overs are pretty common in the publishing world. Most likely it’ll be business as usual at Marvel and they just have a new line of credit from the Mouse to help the operations run smoothly. And maybe new owners will breathe new life into Marvel. What Marvel done lately other than  milk  the popularity of characters created 50 years ago. Who better than Disney to help break them of that habit?

IKEA had the opportunity to highlight a lesser-known subset of nerds this week. The font nerd. IKEA had been famous for using the font Futura in all their catalogs and adverts. The font was so synonymous with the furniture retailer that if you wanted to give your document a little of that “IKEA style”, you just changed the font to Futura and clicked “save”. This week IKEA changed their signature font to Verdana. The dorkosphere went nuts. I suspect a lot of the outrage was due to the fact designers have come to count on Futura being  associated with a certain look and lifestyle. Modern but not too serious, clean but not sterile. Now a little more thinking will have to be involved.

Snow Leopard was released as well. The dorkosphere went nuts. One thing Apple has always done well is make an OS upgrade into a spectacle of salivating anticipation. When Windows offers an OS upgrade, it’s seen as a hassle or a non-event. Especially when the OS has “no new visual improvements.”


Episode 030: Previously on… (Special Edition)

September 2, 2009

Every ten episodes we like to do something special. We read letters for 10 and for 20 we played clips from the “gag reel” plus some audio comments. This time around I wanted to do something really special. But I forgot to plan anything so we decided to recap the first 29 episodes, talking about all the points we’d wished me made in hindsight. None of which it turned out we could remember months after the fact. We’ve come to the conclusion these “specials” aren’t so special so this will be this last one until episode 50 (a reasonable milestone). This gives us some time to plan something spectacular.

A NOTE ON THE SPECIAL EDITIONS: Before we joined the Simply Syndicated network, the first 31 episodes of Nerd Hurdles were hosted on Podbean. Technically, they still are. But since letting our pro-account lapse there’s been a bandwidth problem were the files are only available for the first half of the month before they hit the Podbean ceiling. While SimSyn’s hosting was on Libsyn, we started releasing these episodes as “Special Editions” with newly recorded introductions. When SimSyn moved our hosting to Soundcloud, those files were again lost (and we’d only managed to upload the first 10 anyway). So, here they are once more; uploaded to a 3rd audio service and hopefully the last.


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