Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Rafa says WHAT? Texting

A little more than ten years ago, text messaging was a fledgling operation that was just being tested and implemented in the new and compact mobile phones. Now-a-days, text messaging is the norm and there are people out there who text exponentially more than they talk. These people are known by many names and belong to many a class of society, but the texts unite them. The fact that people such as this refuse to attain a normal hobby and have probably been in a couple of car accidents requires looking into. The phenomena of texting is one that has grabbed hold of all…and I, being a helpless victim to the incessant buzzing of my phone, believe myself to be over qualified to write about the subject. Let me just answer this text and I’ll continue…


Alright, so, where to begin? I believe I will talk first about the phenomenon so as to familiarize all with the idea of texting. A text is a possibly short length and almost incoherent fragment of a thought sent to someone in an impersonal and “I am avoiding awkwardly talking to you” kind of way. I will explain that sentence now. I say short length because the idea of a text is to communicate a small bit of information. The word incoherent goes with the previously mentioned short length because in the attempt to make the information less and the time between the texts faster, people resort to abbreviations that frankly don’t even make sense. For example, in trying to shorten the phrase, “I need to go to the new movie that just came out! It looks great!” the text would look something like this: “I nd 2g 2 da new mov dat jst cm out! It lks gr8!” As one can see, it is markedly shorter, but now it’s almost unintelligible unless you are fully fluent in the texting language. Now, another word that I will talk about is “impersonal”. Simply put, texts do not transmit any kind of emotion. Ok, stop right there. The ardent text-y will say yes, but I say NAY! If a text possesses the ability to transmit emotion, then so does the Apple robotic voice that says the time (which it of course doesn’t). I will give you an example. Here is the same text with different emotions each time…lets see you pick them out:


Text 1:


Yea, sure


Text 2:


Yea, sure


Text 3:


Yea, sure


Can you figure out which is which? No? Didn’t think so. The correct answers were sarcastic, indifferent, and happy. Now re-read them with this newly acquired knowledge. Do you see? Neither do I. The texters have realized this and, to lend credence to their emotions, they have come up with multiple ways to place end punctuation and have invented something called “smileys”. But this is a topic for another blog. Lastly, I used the phrase “I am avoiding awkwardly talking to you” because it is exactly because of this that texting was invented. People needed a way to communicate with people they disliked without having to hear their incredibly displeasing voices.


Ok, now that we have all become properly acquainted with what a text is, I will now proceed to speak of the health and safety implications that texting brings with it. Firstly, texting is obviously a big health risk. Depending on the mobile device, the swiftness of the demise of health will change. Also, how one types affects as well (there are two types of typers: tip typers and full finger typers). It is a disease known as Carpal Tunnel. If I am allowed to translate medical terms to laymen’s terms, what the disease does is to basically make your thumbs suffer from excruciating bouts of pain. That alone should be a deterrent, but no. This alone will not quell the person that believes texting should be a day job. They will keep texting despite the pain, reminding themselves that one more text couldn’t hurt. Texting to them is like taking Vicodin in large quantities. The pain is worth it.


The next topic, safety, is at an enormous amount of risk from the so-called super texter. These people have been known to walk into certain objects/people because they were preoccupied with the little 2x3in glowing screen that occupies about 87% of their daily activities. In the car is when the worst manifestation takes place. Lets say that one day a super texter entered his car and placed his phone in the space behind the cup holders. He thinks, “Its ok…it’s within arm’s reach.” He did not count on the roads being so bumpy, though. The phone soon slides out of its spot and onto the floor of the passenger side, near the door. Now is when he realizes that there is a problem. He can't reach it and he is on an expressway doing 75 because he’s late. Then…“Z Zzzzzzzzzz” (this is my attempt at an onomatopoeia for a vibrating cellphone). A bead of sweat forms on his right eyebrow as he looks down. He swallows hard and feels his stomach sink when he sees the words that will spell his doom: “1 New Message”.


The car instantly picks up the sun as a hitchhiker and its temperature skyrockets. The super texter begins to perspire profusely and pulls at his shirt collar. “Its getting hot in here…” he thinks as he turns the air up to the maximum. This is to no avail as all that he feels in his face is his own heartbeat. Somehow, as by magic, his heart has exchanged places with his brain. The throbbing becomes more intense as his nails dig into the steering wheel and he slowly increases the speed of his vehicle. 80…82…87…he keeps looking at the glowing screen. It’s taunting him, feeding off of his energy. It keeps saying the same thing…“1 New Message”. He lets out a blood-curdling scream as he pulls his hair with one hand and dodges passing cars with the other. He feels faint…his vision is blurry…there isn’t enough air left in the car. With his last bit of strength, he finally arrives to his work and manages to park. He rips the seatbelt and slides onto the floor, knocking the passenger door open as he grabs his phone. He falls to the floor. A couple of seconds pass by…then there is a twitch of a finger. It’s his thumb…it clicks “Open Message” on the phone. The texter smiles. He has survived.


The man in the example was a major threat to himself and to his surroundings. I estimate that thousands or maybe millions of people suffer from texting anxiety every day. Whether it be from a situation such as the one above or because the phone is on the other side of the room at the time that a text arrives and the super-tuned ears of a texter pick it up. At any given moment, people, inanimate objects, and animals in the path between the texter and his phone are in severe danger as bodily damage could occur.


Now that we know what texts are and are acquainted with the health and safety hazards, only one thing remains to be discussed: text rehabilitation. If you have experienced any of the symptoms listed before, you need to get help now. Call—DON’T TEXT—your doctor today to see what a wonderful new medicine approved FDA called Life can do for you. It is a mixture of essentials that are missing from your existence. Things such as hobbies, nature, sun, real friends, and family are all just a prescription away. But remember, the first step is to admit that you are addicted to the occurrence known as…texting.


Texts work to the advantage of people, but the harm they cause far outweighs the good. Many things are left out of a person’s life and many things become unachievable through texting. You can't hear a friend’s emotion; you can't enjoy a moment of silence because there was never any sound; you can't hear stuff in the background and ask what it is, thus learning more about that person’s life; and, most importantly, phone sex doesn’t work over text. You receive a text, read it, get aroused for about five seconds, then have to write something back. It’s an incredibly inefficient system…maybe one day they will fix it. The fact of the matter is that texting is an evil scourge upon the earth. Sadly, though, I am one that has been stained by its putrid grasp and, I must say, it doesn’t feel at all that bad.

A little wax and some spots

As you might have noticed, my last blog was about dogs. I will now take a short break from “Rafa says WHAT?” to write a little something about my dogs. If you had a keen eye, it might have dawned upon you that the only dog breed that I mentioned a couple of times was the Chihuahua…and that is because I own two. Here is a small anecdote starring my two cute friends:


When we first got the first one around 13 years ago, I decided to name her “Cera”. The name represented the culmination of my love for the amazing children’s series The Land Before Time, where the character “Cera” was a grumpy little triceratops. Coincidentally, though, the word cera also means “wax” in Spanish. Despite this, her appearance was the farthest thing from wax—she was black and white like a cow.


Now, six years ago, Cera gave birth to three puppies. Two were male and one female. We decided to keep the latter and we called her “Manchita”. This is a diminutive of the word “spot” in Spanish. In essence, her name means “little/small spot”. Her name arose from the fact that when she was a puppy, she had one spot on her back and we foolishly believed that it would remain there forever. Lo and behold, as soon as she turned one, the spot was almost completely gone, effectively voiding her name.


Here comes the irony. After having my dogs many a year, I have come to realize the incongruities of their names. Cera, rather than looking like wax, has many black blotches on her and Manchita, rather than having spots, has achieved a mixture of cream and brown color that makes her look like wax. So, in essence, their names have become permanently stuck on the dog that they do not belong.


And that concludes my musing of the day. It sort of came as an epiphany when I was looking at them and I decided to expand upon it. Following is a picture of my Chihuahuas…I'm pretty sure you can figure out which is which…


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Rafa says WHAT? Dogs

For centuries, dogs have sat on man’s lap and claimed the title of “Man’s Best Friend”. You wonder of course, what goes into making the perfect dog…some fur, floppy ears maybe, a slobbery tongue, and a whole lot of unconditional love. It is precisely all of these strangely dog-like qualities which make these compatriots a particularly enjoyable topic.

Let’s pretend that we’re an expert on dogs attempting to sell one to a customer. Firstly, we need to present qualities: size, shape, jumping capacity, slobbering capabilities, and tail-wagging (or even just tail for that matter, considering that for some breeds it’s a removable option) are excellent examples. For size we have to find out if the customer wants a lap dog, house dog, or a Godzilla dog that must be given its own house outside and eats twice its weight in food every day. For shape, we must discover the tastes of the customer. Does he/she like scrunchy, pudgy, puff ball, elongated, so on and so forth.

Now, there are two kinds of people: normal people and business people/rednecks (yes I did just group two seemingly different classes into one category). Normal people are those who prefer small to medium sized dogs that have evolved to be able to survive in or out of the house. These dogs are multienvironmental (don’t look it up…I have taken the liberty of creating my own vocabulary). Typically, they can be found lying on a bed or sofa, going from the house to the yard for a stroll, or just simply on the owners lap being stroked as they fall happily into a comatose state that will take hours to retrieve them from.

I will now attempt to explain to the reader why the grouping of two odd groups occurred (business people and rednecks). I have placed them together because these are the kinds of people that prefer big dogs. I will elaborate. By business people I mean anything from car garage/auto parts owner to successful CEO that cannot afford to compromise his involvement in the drug trade with a shipment of piranhas from the Amazon for protection. When one simply observes any of these people, an odd sight will be seen that is too familiar—“Beware of Dog”. The sign obviously indicates that either the owner possesses a vicious and/or scary-looking dog, or has a sense of humor and owns a puffy Chihuahua with a pink bow on its head. We will assume the former. So…right now, you might be asking yourself, “Why rednecks?” The answer is simple: Old Yeller. Typically with these people, one sees big dogs such as Golden Retrievers, Great Danes, and St. Bernard’s (not much after Cujo, but it is still a valid option because of their capacity to carry a small beer keg).

So, after we discover which kind of person the customer is, we can make him/her a suitable offer by narrowing down the choices. Later on, questions such as male vs female, hair length, training, “is a Chihuahua manly enough?”, and “don’t you think you’d rather get a fish?” might be asked. Once all is said and done, the customer walks out with his own slobbery best friend with whom he/she will share many long years.

The beauty of dogs is the fact that they love the owner no matter what. It seems that the only thought that flows through their mind is the words “I love you”. One can hit or castigate them and yet what they are thinking is, “He’s yelling at me and I'm sorry because I love him! I’ll never do it again until later.” Now, that bond that one shares with his/her dog is unique, special, and eternal…at least until a cat, lizard, snake, bird, smaller dog, or interesting object passes in their field of view and they are obliged to chase after it while the owner screams the dog’s name to no avail. Yep…good times.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Rafa says WHAT? Laws

Laws are a great part of any thriving civilization. From doctrines and canons to codes of conduct and legislation, they regulate what we do and attempt to determine, from an objective point of view, what is good and bad…what is correct and what is corrupt. Sometimes, in the course of the legislative process, these ends are not met and we have upon us a new set of laws that do not reflect the original intentions of the writer…or do they? This is part of what we will examine here today, one law at a time. The laws that are so wrong they might just be right. The laws that are so mistaken they sound like philosophy. The laws that make one wonder if, at the time of its creation, the writer was on some sort of hallucinogenic and mind altering drug. Either that, or he/she is about as mentally responsive as a goldfish. Welcome to the world of stupid laws (or loony laws if you want to censor it in accordance to some other law).


We shall commence our travels into the wondrous world of dumb laws with one particularly interesting regulation:


Nevada Legislation

It is illegal to drive a camel on the highway.


Ok, so let’s examine this through various aspects…it’s honestly too hard to understand it by just reading it. We shall look at three words in specific: camel, drive, and highway. The interaction between these is what is causing a great legislative calamity to occur.


First, let’s talk about camels…in Nevada. Of course, the only way they would have gotten there is by means of a zoo or some type of travelling circus. I have not seen travelling circuses in a long time and they prefer elephants so I will eliminate that one. This leaves us with a zoo. So now, assuming there is a zoo and there are camels there, we need one to get out. Enter burglar. He shall break into the zoo solely to steal the camel. Now we have the first aspect of our law. The camel is free and roaming Nevada.


Second is the word drive. I believe the only things one can drive include a motor of some sort. Cars, airplanes, motorbikes, and remote controlled toys are excellent examples of things one can drive. I bid you now to re-read the above list and think of other categories that might include things one “drives”. Was “camel” on that list? I didn’t think so. With the aid of our imaginations, though, we can make this work. Let reality be altered for a second and allow for the creation of a prototype of a camel robot (super real looking because otherwise it wouldn’t work). The freights that were being mailed to Nevada, which contained the real camel, were switched with the freights that contained the robot and now it is headed to the zoo. Now we have a super-advanced, drivable robot that was freed from the zoo by a camel burglar and is roaming Nevada. Good.


The last bit is the highway. So, assuming we have a super-advanced, drivable robot camel that was freed by a camel burglar from a zoo in Nevada, now all we are missing is for it to head for a highway. It cannot under any circumstances go into any dirt road, city street, town boulevard, neighborhood road, or overgrown path because that would then make it completely legal. Dave, our camel (his description was god-awfully long), knowing this and being the bad freed camel that he is, enlists the help of the burglar who has forgotten a getaway car. All the pieces seem to be lining up. He climbs atop our camel, Dave, and heads for the Nevada hills through the highway.

As one can see, this law isn’t quite as loony as one might expect. It is actually possible assuming there is a freight delivering a super-advanced and futuristic camel robot that gets switched with that of a real camel and heads to a zoo in Nevada, where it is subsequently set free by a camel burglar who has forgotten his getaway vehicle and has opted for his motored companion, whom he mounts and drives out of state through a highway.


Next we will be delving into this law:


Kansas Legislation

If two trains meet on the same track, neither shall proceed until the other has passed.


This law, in my opinion, should be preceded by the words “Confucius say,” and forced to be read by Mr. Miyagi from Karate Kid. The classic “no stoplight in the intersection” scenario is what can most closely be compared to the setting of this law. My dear reader can relate to this: Two cars drive up to an intersection without stoplights. They both arrive at relatively the same time and both, being courteous, stop the car to allow the other to pass. After what seems like an eternity of hand-waving to each other, both cars accelerate at the same time, notice what the each other is doing, and break suddenly. The cycle is repeated a couple of more times until one driver accepts his superiority and floors it.


Now, trains are incredibly bulky machines and take some time to begin moving forward and a great distance to break. Knowing this, it makes sense that the two drivers would be hesitant to proceed, considering if they try and move, they will likely hit the train opposite them and cause a mass cataclysm. I say this because in my scenario, one is carrying nuclear waste and runs on a powerful fission reactor and the other is moving the world’s most brilliant minds to a convention where they will possibly stop global warming and, at the same time, cure cancer, TB, and HIV/AIDS. Yep, a disaster. Because of this, they will definitely prefer to wave their hands at each other for eternity than attempt to pass.


The problem with my whole amazingly concocted setting is the fact that the two trains are on the same track. This is where it gets tricky. These two trains are stalled on the same track because it is physically impossible for one to proceed, considering the other is blocking the way. One way for one of the trains to pass would be if one would go straight through the other, but this too is highly impractical. Another is if one of them was going fast enough beforehand to derail and overtake the other train, quickly jumping back on the rails after the aforementioned had passed. I won’t even comment on the second alternative, I will simply eliminate it. It was dumb of me to even mention it.


How is it possible that such a philosophical conundrum be passed as legislation? One example might be that the writer had somehow tripped (accidentally of course) and landed on a hypodermic needle containing a mix of LSD and “shrooms”, causing him to see the world in a distorted fashion. This probably permanent trip (considering the drugs involved…I wouldn’t try this) acted as a gateway into a new world. Off in the distance he saw what appeared to be a lighthouse. It was shaped like a phallic organ. I won’t go into that though, seeing as it is awkward and irrelevant. It was the penile glow of ultimate enlightenment. Confucius then manifested himself. To be quite honest, he smelled a bit (having been dead for centuries), but the future drafter of the legislation managed to ask him for a word of advice. Confucius whispered the future legislation and raised his hands as he closed his eyes, imparting these words of wisdom. The future writer then passed out because of the horrible stench, returning from his seemingly “permanent” trip.


Thus, he wrote it down. The bill passed. Without an explanation, it became a conundrum. Among the ranks of dumb things that people read, shrug, and soon forget because they have better things to do. First came the egg, then came the sound of the tree in the forest, soon the water filled half of the cup, the immovable object and the unstoppable force called a truce and admitted (with inherent existentialism) that neither can logically exist together, and then the two trains remained stalled for eternity…good job Confucius.


And lastly, from the great south cometh this legislation:


Texas Legislation

Criminals must give their victims 24 hours notice, oral or written, outlining the crime to be committed.


Some might say, “Bah, Humbug!” but I say yes! This is an excellent crime deterrent. It will make the would-be bad guys confess their future plots of destruction to the very victims. One has to acknowledge, though, that many things would come to light because of this. Firstly, it will probably come as a shock to the victim. Here is a great example in script form (hint hint Steven Spielberg):


Would-be thief

[knocks on door and a man answers] Hey Albert.


Albert

Hey, man! What brings you over?


Would-be thief

Well…you know how we’ve been friends and neighbors for as long as I can remember?


Albert

Yeah.


Would-be thief

Well…I just wanted to put out there that…um…your wife. She’s very hot. And I've also heard how she has a lot of jewelry and you keep your safe in your living room behind the big painting. So…in about 24 hours I’ll be breaking in, stealing everything, raping your wife, and eliminating all the witnesses. Yes, I do watch a lot of Law & Order. Just thought you should know.


The look on hypothetical Albert’s face must have been priceless. His long-time neighbor and supposed friend turned on him. You know what they say…most victims know their assailants (thanks crime TV!). What would be even more surprising is if the victim would allow it…as follows:



Albert

Well, quite frankly, I must admit I didn’t see this coming. But…as you are officially not committing an unlawful act, would you like to come in for some beers?


Would-be thief

Sure!


What I believe this law is for, though, is to make the criminals face their crimes before they commit them. By listing their actions, the awful act that they are hours away from committing will dawn upon them. Maybe, when the would-be thief uttered the last phrase of his outline, he realized what he was doing. Like many people without a job in this time of crisis, he decided that he needed a change. This revelation allowed him to opt to return to college. After four years and many scholarships, he became a doctor. His criminal thoughts abandoned him as he substituted breaking into houses with inoculating people, stealing with removing harmful stage 2 cancerous tissue, raping with aiding in the birth process, and killing with helping to care for people in a vegetative state, giving hope to the families. Thanks to this law, the would-be thief became a man of prowess in his field that could help humanity. His next goal—finding a universal vaccine that will rid the world of disease. Marvelous.


As it has been demonstrated, it is possible to drive a camel in the highway, be stuck eternally in a train, or commit crime legally if one tries hard enough. The laws presented are not hoaxes. They are actual regulations. Now, whether or not they are actually followed is a different story altogether. The only thing that is for certain is that these laws are prevalent in all parts of the world and allow for laughter in all. I'm pretty sure that is what they were intended to do. So, next time you spot a pregnant woman urinating in a police officer’s hat in the UK, let your mind wonder—is this legal? You might just be in the presence of a loony law.