Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Airheads for Africa

As a "response" to male students at Norges Handelshøyskole (Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration) posing for shirtless pictures in a calendar in 2006, a selection of female NHH students opted to pose in the nude (or at least nude-esque) in a similar calendar, with the proceedings being donated to charity (Africa - schoolkids in Malawi or something similar). They call themselves the Business Bunnies, and they're enthusiastic about losing the clothes for a good cause. Charming, I'm sure.

Now; I know nothing about these students' academic achievements (both this batch of female students as well as the preceding bunch of male students who opted to name themselves the "NHH Hunx"). What I DO know, is that these are students at the Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration - the top economic institution in this country. They're being educated in how to run businesses, raise start-up capital, and administrating a business venture in such a way as to maximize profits without ending up in jail. The point of this calender was to raise money for charity. The best these NHH students could come up with was to take off their clothes and pose for pictures, hoping to get paid for the calenders. Worst of all, the calendea ain't exactly the best-selling item around, according to VG.

Heaven help us all if these are the best and the brightest in their class at NHH.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Spellemannpris inequality

...or Spellemannprisen, as the proper name for the Norwegian Music Award is, I guess. Watched some of the award show on Saturday, and it was more than a little bit awkward. First of all, if you check out the nominees and winners in the link above, you'll no doubt notice that there is a multitude of categories - 27 in fact - and on average four nominees per category. You'll also notice that several names appear as winners and/or nominees in several categories.

Did I mention that Spellemannprisen is an annual award?

Considering the size and depth of the pool of recording Norwegian artists, it appears that the Spellemannpris committee/jury uses the following inequality when determining the number of categories (three new ones this year):

N(categories) year X > [N(released records) year X / 4]

It's fairly obvious from the lack of correlation between getting Spellemannprisen and any kind of international success that the event should be held less frequently, like every five years or so. That way, the prize would perhaps have some meaning and credibility, rather than the "Everybody's a winner.....only not" mom-and-pop, soda shoppe feel it's presently got. It's ok for the Grammys to have a gazillion categories, because the number of released records vastly exceeds the sum of categories and nominees. In Norway, not so much.

Case in point; checketh out the winner for "Best Video" - Madcon's "Liar":

This is even among the best videos produced for Norwegian artists in 2008? We've got: 1) A high school setting. 2) Cheerleaders doing tired-ass routines in skimpy outfits. 3) Presumably the same skanks - pardon me; "glamour models" - playing volleyball and later being in their underwear or less in the girl's locker room and showers, where they are joined by Madcon, and towel-pulling pranks etc. ensue. Natch, the skanks are stereotypical music video fare, meaning that they're unemployed after the age of 25, and when they eventually kick the bucket, they have to be recycled in three different bins. The only factors missing from this being a rap-video-by-the-numbers was the absence of a jumping lowrider, Cristal and a black leather couch.

THIS is groundbreaking for Norwegian music videos in 2008/09? Mötley Crüe, Poison, W.A.S.P etc. really were ahead of their time, then.

Debate on fundamental research in Norway

..very interesting (Norwegian only): Excerpt from Schödingers Katt.

Also included: A discussion regarding the international ranking of Norwegian universities and whether it's realistic to be in the top 100.

Epic handwaving from the Secretary of Research

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Partial redemption

Last Spring/early summer, we bought Craig Whitson's book on proper American barbecuing - "Far Lukter Svidd". All signs were go; dude's a legit American, he's been to cook-offs and is Aftenposten's BBQ go-to guy. More importantly, the book was rockin' recipes for proper buffalo wings, blue cheese dressing, ribs and other delicacies you can't really get in Norway. TGI Friday's is the closest, but since we don't have that particular franchise in Trondheim and friggin' Egon can't make anything remotely resembling buffalo wings, I decided to get the job done by my very lonesome. If you want the job done properly, etc.

Enthusiastically, I bought like five kilos of chicken wings and whatever else was necessary, followed the recipes for buffalo wings and blue cheese dressing religiously, and ended up with a product that made Egon's wings and dressing taste like freakin' Ruby Tuesday's products. Barbeque fail. After some research on the good ol' interweb I tracked down a recipe for buffalo wings which is absolutely workable, but my faith in Craig Whitson was seriously shaken.

This Christmas, we got his first book as a present - "Far Heter Daddy" - which touts lots of classic American recipes, including a quite different one for wings. While I haven't tried that one yet, we have tried his recipe for chili con carne, and damn is it ever good. After some modifications, it's hands down the best damn chili I've ever tasted. Partial redemption for Craig Whitson, and inspiration enough to try some more of his recipes.

I know, I know - it's not like Craig Whitson and his fat Okie ass is gonna give a damn whether he gets my approval. All I know is that I've got a kick-ass recipe for chili con carne.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Olympics Tae-Kwon Do debacle

You've probably all heard about the TKD debacle wherein a Cuban TKD bronze finalist Angel Matos snapped and kicked the referee following a completely legitimate decision not in his favor. If not, the video of said incident can be found here. Two days ago, there was another piece about this incident in VG, wherein Angel Matos pretty much states that the referee deserved it.

Now; I watched this and many of the other fights, and this Cuban dude was milking what was obviously completely ficticious injuries in his ankle, knee and hip in several of his other fights as well. The scenario invariably followed something like this: Dude took some time-out for alleged injuries, got to rest a little bit, and then magically sprung into action like there were no injuries at all, despite having put on a full-on Broadway/Italian soccer/Gone with the wind fainting-from-pain scene seconds earlier. A little coolant spray doesn't change the situation from "woe is me; my knee is dislocated" to first round of a Jerome LeBanner ca. 2001 fight. Perhaps if he was mainlining speed, but we'd have seen that. So; having failed to get back into shape within the 1 minute period allowed following an alleged ankle injury, and his second having failed to ask for more injury time, the other guy gets the victory. Immediately, the Cuban Scarlett O'Hara - unable to stand up a minute earlier - leaps up and starts to go aggro on the ref. He gets no love, and so he full-on kicks the referee in the head. There are no signs of him holding anything back - hips are completely rotated, and it's a stationary target. Result; banned for life.

This was extremely unsportsmanlike of this cigar-smoking pseudo-mexican, and all of that has been covered well in the press. What I feel is lacking is the following: Here we have a world-class TKD performer. Black belt with matching shoes and bow-tie - good enough to reach the bronze finals in the olympics. He full-on kicks a completely unprepared person in the head. Said person, who had no way of knowing he was gonna get kicked and was shorter and smaller than the assailant, absorbs the full impact of the kick, resulting in a bleeding lip.

That's it? He didn't even go down for the count - just absorbed the blow and got a bleeding lip.

Now granted, even if Kyokushin and Muay Thai had been olympic sports, I wouldn't have been good enough to enter the olympics, much less reach the bronze finals. I can tell you this though; if someone at my level in Kyokushin or Muay-Thai connects with a full force kick to the head of a person - in this case even a much shorter person, who was completely unprepared - the person is gonna go down, and remain in a prone position for quite some time to come. And that's not me trying to come off as a cage-fighting Ninja internet badass - just physics.

Am I the only one who wondered about this? Marius?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Results GQ5: Jumping the Shark - Rounds 5+6

Here be the songs:
  • Song 246: Olivia Newton-John/John Travolta - Summer Nights. The staying power of the Grease songs is quite astonishing.
  • Song 247: Michael Jackson - Thriller. Not exactly an unknown tune...
  • Song 248: Mika - Relax, Take It Easy. At last we'll know whether supplementing with large quantities of helium is harmful to humans
  • Song 249: Billy Ocean - Loverboy. Not as famous as his two big hits, but huge nonetheless.
  • Song 250: Michael Jackson - Smooth Criminal. Another memorable bass line.
  • Song 251: Joan Osborne - What If God Was One Of Us. Truly one of the most annoying songs of the 90's. At least the Macarena was upbeat, whereas this sucks, bores AND brings you down. Great.
  • Song 252: Fugees - Killing Me Softly. Specifically, the vocal breakdown section of one Lauryn Hill, a.k.a the talent of Fugees. And then there was that "One time, one time" guy.
  • Song 253: Spinal Tap - Bitch School. Nobody recognized this classic song from the most famous fictional metal band of all time. I'm shocked. Shocked, I say.
  • Song 254: ZZ Top - Tush. Cool song. I'm actually quite happy with the guitar sound on this one.
  • Song 255: Queen ft. David Bowie - Under Pressure. Alternatively; Vanilla Ice - Ice Ice Baby. If you've got a problem, yo; I'll solve it.
Consequently, the Score for rounds 5+6 looks like:
  1. Anders (16 points)
  2. Torbjørn (15 points)
  3. Cathy (12 points)
  4. Marius/Sondre (tied at 11 points)
Congrats to Anders!

It's a good day

Today is the inauguration day for President Obama. Which means we won't be seeing Vice Presidential limos like the ones Gov. Palin no doubt would've put in orders for.'s like 'Cube says

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Pimp Fail

It's like they say; pimpin' ain't easy:

Wonderful douchebag + loser + comeuppance combo

Monday, January 12, 2009

Damn New Years Resolutioners

They're clogging up the gym in their brand new (or at least never worn beyond the realms of the couch) workout attires and box fresh Otomix sneakers. Hapless disciples of personal trainers who promise training programs "tailor made for each individual", yet for some reason all the new trainees end up doing the same number of reps and sets with the same exercises in the same sequence. Quite the coincidence. Hordes of gawking individuals drawn to the perceived know-how of the PT's like Japanese charter tourists to orange flags. Protein powder and magic mineral potions move off the gym shelves like Battlestar Galactica T-shirts at a loser convention.

And despite the new workout-gear, the "personalized" training programs, some PT with a weekend's worth of education chanting slogans of encouragement and continued purchase of their services, six months worth of sports supplements, a full-year gym subscription and all the good intentions only the December to January transition can bring forth, come March there will be few if any left.

Predictable like the changing of the seasons.

Not to crap all over people's desire to get in shape, but most of the people who start in January and quit in March are going to repeat this process ad nauseum. What makes them think that "THIS TIME, it'll work"? "Sure; last year I worked out six days a week until January 15th, and tore five different muscles, but THIS YEAR, I'm going to stay at it."

Is it the "new training program, backed by HARD SCIENCE"? Is it the fact that the gym they just joined is staffed by the most gosh-darned positive and experienced staff? I'm really curious.

One thing remains constant though; the stereotypes regarding gymgoers. Today when we rolled into the gym, it was absolutely crowded with noobs doing every conceivable exercise not requiring any actual effort as well as the usual suspects. The room was packed. With one exception - the squat rack. Since we joined this gym, I've seen two individuals besides myself do an actual leg workout - a couple in what appears to be their late thirties. The gym warriors stick with leg extensions and leg curls. Sure; they do 47 sets for biceps and 64 sets for chest, but they've probably got some knee problems or sumthin' which precludes actual leg exercise. The more stereotypical the male gym badass, the more likely it is that he's wearing a tank top, sportin' barb-wire or tribal tattoos, rockin' a necklace and some type of bracelet, and really baggy pants disguising a pair of legs the mass and density of which most closely resemble something last seen sticking out from a nest.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Tao of Grad School part 7

Part 7: Managing Creativity
As a Ph.D. student you're expected to come up with original research ideas. Sure; your advisor is there to help you along and you've got the project description and milestone descriptions to aid you in the search for ideas, but it's also very much up to you. At the end of the rainbow you're supposed to be an independent researcher, and so the ability to come up with ideas is one of your most valuable assets. In other words you need to be and stay creative if scientific research is for you.

If you thought taking a Ph.D. was a great idea, then you've got some indication that you're a creative individual. Assuming this fits, here are some (hopefully) helpful hints to rnhance and preserve your creativity:

See the whole board.
This goes back to the fact that you have to know your topic well, and that you need to be conscious of the big picture and detail-oriented science involved. Consider the overall goal of the project, and observe how the data you've already collected fits into this scheme. What's the next logical step? Same thing goes for the smaller milestones - compare the collected data to the goal and extrapolate based on the methods you've got available. A hyooge part of being a scientist is the ability to identify trends. This is simply putting this ability into a system which extends beyond the singular study where it's usually applied.

Keep up with literature.
No kiddin'; pick the most relevant journals and follow every issue for articles of interest. Don't slow down the reading after you're up to speed following your acceptance into the Ph.D. program. Your reference library is supposed to be growing steadily.

Keep a journal of research ideas.
Every now and then - or hopefully frequently - you come up with really cool ideas for research. It could be ideas which are possible to implement immediately, or ideas you plan to pursue one sunny day. These ideas don't necessarily come to you exclusively when you are ready to put them into some context, and so you should store them somewhere they can be retrieved when they're needed. Sometimes these ideas come to you while you read a paper which complements your work. Other times these ideas emerge when you work up the data for a publication, when you're in a meeting or whenever. Write that stuff down. Some of those ideas might in retrospect be awful, poorly thought-out and downright moronic, but it doesn't matter. That journal is for your eyes only, so write that stuff down if it was important enough to make you stop and think about it for a while.

Creativity isn't first-order linear with respect to time.
Don't get me wrong; as a Ph.D. student you're supposed to work more than the national average. Still; if you're writing a manuscript late in the afternoon and you've been staring into the screen for two hours without a single sentence being commited to file - what exactly do you think you're gonna accomplish by sitting in that same position for another two hours? Creativity isn't like unloading boxes from a truck - there isn't necessarily a direct correlation between the hours you put in and the creative output. Keep that in mind.

Also, don't equate hours spent at the lab with work getting done. Sure; there are aspects of the Ph.D. study where time continuously spent correlates very well with desired output - like many forms of labwork - but don't think this is a universal law. You also have to consider the efficiency of your hours spent. Nobody cares whether you've spent fifteen hours in the lab every day of last week if you also had two-hour lunch breaks, five coffee breaks and you spent three hours surfing your favorite websites. Moreover, you could have taken some of that time and deposited it towards an actual life where you could recharge your batteries. Try to work efficiently, don't just clock the hours.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Friday nonsense 2: Chuck Norris

When Chuck Norris looks in the mirror nothing appears. There can never be a second Chuck Norris.

When there's a fire, you stop, drop, and roll. When there's a Chuck Norris, you stop, drop, and die.

We don't know if Chuck Norris enjoys a good fight. He's never had one.

Chuck Norris bites the hand that feeds him?and eats their entrails.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away. A Chuck Norris a day kills.

Chuck Norris can unscramble an egg.

When Chuck Norris wants popcorn, he breathes on Nebraska.

Chuck Norris has a vacation home on the sun.

Chuck Norris uses red hot lava to moisturize his skin.

Chuck Norris invented the apple.

Chuck Norris Buillt Mount Everest with a bucket and spade.

Chuck Norris does not age. Every birthday, it's just another year added to his existence, which sucks for you.

Chuck Norris does not have chest hair, he has millions of highly venomous nematocysts. You have virtually no chance of surviving the venomous sting, unless treated immediately. The pain is so excruciating and overwhelming that you would most likely go into shock and collapse a split second before getting hit in the face with a roundhouse kick.

Chuck Norris can chug a gallon of milk and not throw up.

Chuck Norris beat the Sun in a staring contest.

If you get roundhouse kicked in the face by Chuck Norris in your dream, you DIE!

Chuck Norris can have his cake AND eat it too.

Chuck Norris was born in a log cabin that he built with his bare hands.

Some people get lucky and kill two birds with one stone. Chuck Norris once killed four birds with half a stone. What's that? You say there's no such thing as half a stone? The four dead birds didn't think so either.

Chuck Norris CAN lick his elbow.

P is for Chuck Norris, as is every other letter of the alphabet.

Chuck Norris puts the FUN in Funeral.

Chuck Norris' paradise is war.

Chuck Norris is capable of photosynthesis.

Chuck Norris has never had a surprise birthday party. He can NEVER be surprised. EVER.

Chuck Norris does not love Raymond.

Chuck Norris can lick his own elbows. At the same time.

Chuck Norris can kick start a car.

Chuck Norris doesn't breathe, he holds air hostage.

Chuck Norris wrote an was just a list of everyone he has killed.

Einstein's original Theory of Relativity was; if Chuck Norris kicks you, your relatives will feel it.

Bigfoot takes pictures of Chuck Norris.

As seen in Sidekicks, Chuck Norris can climb a rope with one hand, and one hand only.

Chuck Norris does not dance. He roundhouse kicks to the beat.

Chuck Norris can MAKE water run uphill.

Chuck Norris can hold Puff Daddy down.

The moon is actually a comet that was once on course to hit earth... then Chuck Norris roundhouse kicked it into orbit.

Chuck Norris can strike a match on a bar of soap.

Chuck Norris once played Russian roulette with a fully load gun and won.

The only reason the color pink still exists is because Chuck Norris is color blind.

Chuck Norris is allowed to talk about Fight Club.

Chuck Norris isn't afraid of Urban Legends, he is an Urban Legend.

Chuck Norris once played 18 holes of golf using a 12 inch strip of rebar and a sun dried tomato. He shot a 54.

On the Asian market, Chuck Norris' urine is worth $400 per fluid ounce.

See spot. See spot run. See spot get round house kicked in the face by Chuck Norris.

Niagra Falls is the result of one of Chuck's legendary cannon balls.

Chuck Norris sneezes electricity.

Chuck Norris performs colonoscopies on himself.

If you were killed by Chuck Norris, your tombstone would read RIP, ripped into pieces.

Chuck Norris' smile once brought a puppy back to life.

You know he jumped off the Empire State Building this one time and he only sprained his ankle.

Chuck Norris lost both his legs in a car accident....and still managed to walk it off.

Contrary to popular belief the Lottery numbers are not random. They are just the number of people Chuck Norris killed that given day.

Chuck norris invented the corndog.

The agent of Chuck Norris asked Chuck if he wanted to be in Brokeback Mountain. Chuck Norris' agent has been missing for almost 2 years now. Never ask Chuck Norris to be in a gay cowboy movie.


Chuck Norris understands the ending of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Chuck Norris belives the hype.

Chuck Norris CAN in fact stop the beat.

When Chuck Norris crosses the street, the cars have to look both ways.

When Chuck Norris picks his nose, he REALLY does find Gold.

Chuck Norris speaks in all caps.

Chuck Norris delivers more male with one thrust of his pelvis than the U.S. Postal Service and the Pony Express have combined for the last 146 years.

Chuck Norris wasn't born with feet, just boots.

Chuck Norris won a pissing contest against a Russian race horse.

When Chuck Norris throws a boomerang, the boomerang does not return because it is scared to come back.

Chuck Norris floats like a butterfly and stings like a tomahawk missile. At mach 3. In the face.

Chuck Norris can dribble a football.

Chuck Norris’ IQ can be expressed simply as a sideways eight

Chuck Norris is a stunt double for Optimus Prime.

Chuck Norris was once asked to repeat himself. The last thing that person ever heard was the wooshing sound of a roundhouse kick.

Chuck Norris can clap with one hand.

Chuck Norris had his tonsels removed with a chainsaw.

Chuck Norris digs graves with a shoe horn.

Friday nonsense 1: McDonalds

Seems like Ronald McDonald ain't exactly how the commercials make him out to be:

Puts Ronnie Mac's slogan of "I'm lovin' it" in a whole new perspective, doesn't it?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

If at first you don't succeed... we just got informed that the deadline for submitting a revised version of a manuscript to a good journal is fast approaching, and that the Editor welcomed our submission provided we answered all the reviewers' comments and met all their demands.

This would've sounded real good if it wasn't for said demands requiring ALL of the experiments to be redone in order to perhaps gain some complementary information which would only be fit to include if it supported the already existing data. In case it didn't support the existing data, the additional technique in question would not be powerful enough to debunk existing data. If we re-work the data completely and remove 1/3 of the data set and scope, it STILL means way more work than what is sensible to put into a study which has proven to be highly reproducible both with respect to trends and absolute values.

So we're finding another journal. In a way, we're taking a page outta' the business philosophy of Scott Adams. Specifically, we've taken to heart a Sunday strip titled "Bob the dinosaur gives wedgies to corporate people who deserve it", where a "marketing genious" talking about market segmentation being key gets a wedgie and the message "Don't improve the product - find dumber customers."

GQ5: Jumping the Shark - Rounds 5 and 6

First round(s) of the new year.

Submit your answers to mfactorquiz (at) by the end of Sunday 011809. Each song holds the potential of two points - one point for artist and one point for the song. Answers will be posted on Monday 011909.

Song number 246:

Song number 247:

Song number 248:

Song number 249:

Song number 250:

Song number 251:

Song number 252:

Song number 253:

Song number 254:

Song number 255:

Monday, January 5, 2009

Vacation is DEFINITELY over

It's always quite the adjustment to return to work after a break, but this is taking it a bit too far. Since I returned I've (i) written a report on various pedagogic activities which was due at noon today and came with a four-hour deadline, (ii) been summoned to a meeting later this afternoon, (iii) got a "Dear John" letter from a journal regarding a manuscript we submitted in freakin' September, and (iv) being forced to deal with the central administration about the extremely deficient lecture hall I've been allocated for my main course this semester.

If this was a Running Wild tune, it'd be titled "Riding The $hitstorm".

What can be so deficient about a lecture hall, you may ask. Well; for one thing, it can be too small for the projected class size, and it can lack features such as a projector and a decent blackboard. The lecture hall I've been allocated lacks both these things. I had the exact same problem last year, despite having provided the central administration with all the numbers and stuff they needed well within the timeline they specified. As to why I'm left holding the bag yet again, I'm at a loss.

Oh; and one more unfavorable factoid about the lecture hall; it's scheduled to be completely renovated and sanitized for asbestos starting March 1st, and so from that date it will not be accessible. Slightly inconveniencing when taking into account that the course lasts the entire semester. So in summary, the room is too damn small, it's got Jack and $hit in the way of amenities (and Jack just left town), AND it's not accessible after March 1st due to renovation.

Outstanding. It's a good thing lecture hall allocation is done via a centralized database managed by competent staffers, or us subject teachers would be screwed with our oants on by scheduling conflicts and insufficient conditions.

Since I need new facilities, I can't even announce a timetable for lectures. Excellent.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Max Manus

Peeped out the high-budget Norwegian movie about WW2 legend and resistance fighter Max Manus today. Didn't really know what to expect, because a) it's a Norwegian movie, and b) it's a WW2 movie, which often tend to be overly simplified and clear-cut.

Turned out it was perhaps the best (more recent) Norwegian movie I've ever seen. Including the Varg Veum movies, simply because it's a series, so at the end of the day you know there's gonna be another one, etc. Of course, the Max Manus movie had the benefit of an awesome story and the additional benefit of having eyewitness accounts to base the scenes on. They also had the enormous advantage of a Pia Tjelta-free cast. Fact is, I thought the entire cast performed admirably, and the movie didn't overstay it's welcome. It even portrayed Max Manus and (most of) his crew as human beings with emotions and frailties more than Chuck Norris-like entities, which in my opinion greatly added to the qualities of the movie.

Ok; there were a couple of instances where they really screwed up the credibility, including at least two scenes where Max Manus pulls off some shooting while totally in the open and facing armed Germans which reminded me of Arnold in "Commando", Stallone in Rambo III where he takes on the entire Soviet army with a bow and arrow, and any Steven Seagal movie. Apart from this, two thumbs up from me.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Driving home for New Year's

Damn is it ever snowing up in heah'! Twice today we've had to shovel our driveway, and I'm not exaggerating a bit if I estimate that more than 50 cm have fallen since last night. Move to the East Side of Trondheim, they said. Milder climate, way less snow, they said.

Motherfu*ker; as I type this, having just come in from the shovelling, the fu*kin' snow plow just pimp-cruised by, leaving a gigantic heap of dense, packed snow all across the entrance to our driveway. Our tax dollars hard at work.


Oh well. It's been snowing hardcore since New Year's anyway. We spent New Year's at my dad's, about an hour and a half away north-east of here. Usually, we really dread driving there this time of year owing to the roads up there being icy, narrow and rarely plowed, but with our new spiked snow tires, this was gonna be a relaxing drive for once. And going there, it really was - our tires did their work, and the ride to was peachy.

However, when we arrived, my dad commented that one of our head lights was out. At the time, I didn't think about it much. As we were fixin' to leave for home, I still didn't think too much about it, owing to the fact that I nearly went offroad backing our car out of my dad's driveway. Pure amateur hour, but it went well in the end. As we started to drive for real and came out past the street lights, it became pretty damn obvious that the other headlight had decided to call it a day as well, leaving us with two options as far as lighting on our journey back home: highbeams or parking lights. Seeing as how there was a blizzard goin' on at the time and it was in the middle of the night, neither choice provided us with nything even close to optimal driving conditions. For obvious reasons, the parking light option was no go; a firefly would've provided us with more light and visibility. And with high-speed oncoming traffic - including heavy trucks - visibility ranks near the very top of the list of priorities. Which left us with the option of having to drive home with the high-beams blaring. That didn't really do anything for our popularity among the oncoming traffic though, resulting in many angry high-beam flashes. Including from the heavy trucks previously mentioned, and lemme' tell you; them suckers are decked out with some intense wattage. Occasionally I'd switch to parking lights when other traffic approached - if the lighting conditions were decent. Sadly, that prompted the oncoming motherfu*kers to flash their high-beams at us in an attempt to warn us that our light were out. You're damned if you do, and you're mos def damned if you don't. We were quite pleased to have made it home, lemme' assure y'all of that.

Rather optimistically, we figured that changing the light bulbs wouldn't be such a big deal - how difficult can it be, right? After consulting the owner's manual, our optimism grew. There was even a section on how to change the liht bulbs in three easy steps in case of a roadside emergency. As we moved on from theory to practice and actually popped the hood open, it became rather obvious that the steps depicted in the owner's manual - in this case technically the ownee's manual - were only applicable to one of the headlights. Consequently, we rode out to the friendly neighborhood garage as soon as we'd shoveled our driveway AND daylight had come today. Quite frankly, there was some shame associated with having to go to the garage in order to have such a thing taken care of, but this feeling subsided the moment the mechanic started working on the situation. It took a trained mechanic one hour to change the light bulbs, of which 55 minutes or so were spent working with the left side of the car. The grill had to come out. The headlight casing had to be loosened, and the battery cradle had to be moved in order to change that one freakin' bulb. Not to mention an array of tools we sure enough never carry in the car on either long or short trips. Three simple steps to be used in case of a roadside emergency my ass.

Happy New Year, y'all