Beauty and the Geek is 10 years old

Officially, the first episode aired on June 1, 2005. However, today marks the 10th anniversary of the day the producers brought us through the front gates of the mansion and turned on the cameras.

My blog entry from January 6th that year was about getting the call that I’d be flying out to L.A. the following weekend, Jan. 13-16. Most people went home straight from the hotel on Sunday. Those of us who stayed got into a van the next morning and rode in many, many circles until we finally arrived at what would become our not-so-humble abode for the next two and a half weeks. Well, that long for the ones who made it to the final episode. The rest of us who lost in the elimination room left the house immediately (yes, immediately—I accidentally left my shaver in the bathroom and never saw it again), spent the night in a hotel, then flew home the next day.

One of my favorite memories from the first day was when they filmed us seven guys coming up the driveway in two Mini Coopers. They wanted me to drive the one in back, but I’ve never been any good with a stick shift, so they put Bill behind the wheel instead (he was the Vice-President of the Dukes of Hazzard Fan Club, so that seemed more appropriate anyway, if you ask me). I don’t recall which one of us was responsible—we were both sitting in front—but one of us totally screwed up one of the takes because we cranked up the radio as we headed up the driveway. The director did not approve.

Many, many fond memories… and some really shitty ones, too… but reflecting back on it after a decade, I’m still glad I was picked to be on the show. If nothing else, it taught me to look more carefully in the bathroom when I’m packing my stuff to go home.

Back to my nothing-even-vaguely-resembling-regular broadcasting schedule

It’s been several moons since I posted anything on here, but not for lack of ideas. It’s just something I wasn’t making time for, which is a terrible excuse, but it’s the only one I’ve got.

A small part of my brain thought I should make a New Year’s resolution to write in here more often. The rest of my brain knew that would be a terrible idea. For me, resolutions tend to have nasty consequences: screw up once and the entire system collapses, you spiral down into a deep, dark hole of shame and misery, then wake up three weeks later in a stranger’s house covered in cake frosting and soaking in a puddle of your own urine. But even if breaking resolutions have consequences a little less severe than that, I’d still feel shitty afterward. I feel kinda shitty now after not writing since… October, I think. That’s how long it’s been—I don’t remember how long it’s been.

It also occurred to me that the last time I wrote in here was just before my trip to Thailand back in October. I thought the idea of e-postcards was really cool and it might have been if not for two things.

1) The trip was more exhausting than I thought (probably because of the constant heat and humidity) and the sweet siren song of sleep was just too strong to resist at night.
2) It’s really awkward to talk to a webcam while your mother is sitting in the room with you. Just an FYI.

But because it’s been so long, as far as any faithful readers know, I might have been shanked by a Thai hooker for skimping on a 100 baht blowjob. Which would be really sad, given that the 30-1 baht-dollar ratio means it would have cost me a little over three bucks. But that should be expected when she’s only got three teeth and open sores on her… never mind. I didn’t get shanked, that’s all you need to know.

So I made it home safe and sound, the trip was fun and I may be able to motivate myself to post some pictures and stories on here. No promises because I don’t like wasting cake frosting. In the meantime, I hope you all have a wonderful time celebrating the beginning of 2015. I’m sure I’ll be writing to you again soon.

Introducing e-postcards!

I was thinking about making another video for YouTube today to explain this blog entry with audio-visual aids, but it’s a little too late for that now: I’ll be leaving for the airport in less than 12 hours and the webcam is packed away for the trip.

The biggest reason why I bought that webcam… well, the microphone on the laptop is complete shit. There’s a strong echo, it makes everything sound metallic and it really sucks a lot. (Oddly, Mom and I brought it back to Best Buy to find out what the problem was and it turns out that all of their ASUS laptops had that problem. Some worse than others, but still all of them. Just an FYI for anyone out there who might want a new computer this Christmas season for recording videos.)

Anyway! Aside from keeping the online journal, I’m planning to send “e-postcards” to people during our trip. If a hotel has internet access, I can send emails and attach a digital photo plus a short video. The “front” has a picture, the “back” has a message to the recipient, no postage fees… yay for technology! (If I’m feeling really crazy, I can send e-postcards to individuals. If I’m feeling really lazy, I can send them to a bunch of people at once and start the video with something generic like “Hey there!” Come to think of it, I might start the individual ones with “Hey there!” so that everyone can think I made any given e-postcard just for you.)

So that’s the current plan. I’m not sure how many people’s email addresses I have or how many people might want to get messages about the trip from time to time, but you can still follow my trip to Thailand for the next few weeks by checking out videos on my YouTube channel. Be forewarned: none of them will be made just for you, even if I start the video with “Hey there!”

Vaccines vs. “chicken pox parties”

I found a page on Imgur that’s “An Open Letter to Non-Vaxxers”. The short version is that the author has a son with cancer. Chemotherapy damages the immune system, so even though the son had been vaccinated, he still had to rely on herd immunity to prevent those diseases. Thus, parents who think it’s a good idea not to vaccinate their children make Dad pretty upset. They’re not just putting their own kids in harm’s way; they’re putting his kid in harm’s way, too.

I should know better than to read the comments sections on the Internet (aside the ones on here, given that they’re usually spam that I have to delete), but I went scrolling down and found that the responses were almost universal: anti-vaxxers are stupid and selfish.

However, one comment intrigued me: “She I was young my mom took me to a chicken pox party that way I wouldn’t need the vaccine, cause once you’ve had it you won’t get it again”

Strange, but it kinda makes sense. It might keep half the kids in your class out of school for a week while they all have chicken pox at the same time, but now they only have to worry about shingles as they get older.

But that’s not the first thought that popped into my head. The first thought was “If this is meant to justify not getting vaccinated, try throwing a polio party and tell me how that turns out.”

Travel vlog

That’s probably what my YouTube channel will be, at least for the immediate future. My first video is posted at the bottom of this entry, but it’s a simple intro and explains that the primary reason for my current decision to start making videos is because I’m too elaborate and long-winded when I write. (Yes, I used those terms to describe my writing. It’s not like I can run from the truth.)

So I’m in the fledgling stages of learning how to make videos quickly: come up with a few ideas to convey, then turn on the webcam and start talking. At this point, changing video formats and posting the video online has taken a lot longer than recording the video itself, but that’s why I’m trying to learn this stuff now while I’m still here in the States.

On October 23rd, my mom and I will be flying to Thailand for a couple weeks. I thought it might be cool to report on some of the goings-on over there, but for those of you who have followed my travel blog posts before, you’ll know that I tend to be elaborate and long-winded and I just stop writing after the first couple posts. I run out of time and motivation. If I can find a way to prevent myself from spending two hours writing about what happened that afternoon (something I’m very capable of doing), yay for me. Thus, vlog entries.

Up to this point, I’ve never talked for two hours straight. That doesn’t mean I’m not capable of doing so, but even if I wanted to, YouTube will only let me post videos that are 15 minutes or less. I’m hoping I can keep videos down to just a couple minutes a day, but we’ll see what happens. Seriously, though, I wouldn’t want to go too far beyond a couple minutes a day because I’m pretty sure there’ll be plenty to do while I’m there.

So that’s the scoop of the hour. I’ll probably post another couple videos within the next two weeks to get used to the process, then head overseas and… we’ll see what happens. Beyond that, enjoy the little monologue below and I’ll talk at you later.

YouTube Preview Image

Page 157 of #BeyondFlour

The official title of Marie Porter’s cookbook is “Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking & Baking”, but that’s way too long to use as the header for a blog post and the hashtagged version of the title (#BeyondFlour) means you’ll be able to find this post and said cookbook through Twitter. If you want to find it via the Interwebs, you can use this link instead.

I’m slightly regretful that I didn’t write something about this sooner because you can buy the cookbook through the Celebration Generation website for $24.99, but the pre-order discount price is $19.99 until October 1st. Not to rush you into making a purchase or anything.

The book’s funding involved a Kickstarter campaign, so by donating a certain amount of money, I got an autographed cookbook that arrived in the mail on Friday. It took me a few days to finally make something, in part because I needed to go shopping for ingredients like coconut flour and sorghum flour. Go figure.

Tonight, I finally decided to get out a mixing bowl, turn on the oven and try making something from the cookbook. This was kind of a big deal for me because I don’t cook. Sure, I can whip up a mean box of Kraft mac ‘n’ cheese, but when it comes to combining separate ingredients like flour and eggs and butter without anything prepared ahead of time, I’m pretty sure this was a first. Gluten-free? Unheard of until now.

Thus, I was very deliberate. I set out the ingredients, the different measuring cups and spoons I’d need, the pan and bowl… time to make the recipe on Page 157: Double Chocolate Brownies.

I won’t bore you with the whole process, but even after some bits of advice from my mother before I got started, I learned one thing the hard way: “A watched pot never boils” may also apply to butter. I say “may” because I wasn’t watching it melting in the microwave, but I’m pretty sure it did boil because there was a pool of butter next to the measuring cup when it was done. Oops.

Aside from that, things went pretty smoothly. I mixed the ingredients together, spread it out in a pan, put the pan in the oven for just over 30 minutes, then sat around and waited until it cooled enough for the first taste.

The result? The brownies don’t suck. (Yay!) They actually turned out pretty good. (Double yay!) Which means that Beyond Flour has some really yummy recipes in it. (Triple yay!) Excuse me for a moment while I pat myself on the back for this first successful venture into gluten-free cooking.

Oh, and as a final note, I recommend making a batch late at night or in the wee hours of the morning. There’s a much greater likelihood that you won’t eat the entire pan of brownies right away if you need to go to bed soon.