18 April 2007

Be the life of the party and save BIG...

...Unfortunately, you do have to be willing to dupe your friends. Luckily for you (and them), there is little chance they'll figure out your scheme. And if you don't get caught, everybody will carry on and have a grand ol' time!

The whole scheme is premised on the fact that most of your friends can't tell the difference between an expensive and a cheap liquor. Clearly, if you pour a shot out of an Aristocrat bottle and another out of a Grey Goose bottle, your friends' biases will favor the Grey Goose and they'll claim that it is much better. In a blind taste test it would be much easier to trick your friends.

Oh, but you have sophisticated friends, you say. Well let's do one better; let's put the cheap stuff in the expensive bottle! Even your more discerning friends will probably fall for this ol' switch-a-roo, especially if you only break out the bottle after they've all downed a couple already.

Of course with any scheme, preparation and presentation are crucial. First, ensure the substitute liquor has the same color as its top-shelf counterpart. I find, for example, that a Patrón -- Reposado can be cloned with 3 parts silver, 1 part gold of almost any cheaper tequila. A $50 dollar bottle of Patrón can be cloned for about $12. Then, of course, there is the presentation. Clearly its not a great idea to present a cloned liquor next to (geographically or temporally) the real deal itself or even the same liquor family. Ideally, a tequila would be presented against a vodka or rum as opposed to another tequila.

Also, to pull this off with the maximum effect, be sure to add a little hype when you initially introduce your beverage. Half the fun of drinking expensive liquors is the "aura" surrounding the various brands (think Hennessy and the such). So be sure to throw in a couple deep-voiced "Pah-trown"s like out of a rap song, perhaps preceded by an appropriate expletive for good measure. Have fun with it... it's a party after all.

Why it's so hard to be happy.

I just finished reading Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert. Despite the title, it isn't about how to be a happier person. Instead, Gilbert explores why so many things that we think will make us happy end up be rather disappointing. It is very well documented for a book intended for a popular audience (a la Blink by Malcom Gladwell).

When I read an author for the first time, I generally don't want to know anything about him or her. Nor do I want to read negative reviews about the book. If the author is some "nobody" or the negative reviews seem logical, I find it difficult to give the book an objective reading (I feel the same way about low budget movies and movie critics' reviews). I really enjoy being a few (or a few hundred) pages into the book and thinking, "Geez, this is really good, I wonder who wrote it!" and then looking at the about the author section. In fact, I enjoy this "fresh mind" so much that it is worth it to me to start reading a couple crummy books once in a while just to hold out for that refreshing "aaaaahhhhh" moment.

This book gave me one of those moments.

03 April 2007

Where's the scandal? It's a scandalous world

The US attorney "scandal" has really got me scratching my head? I agree with a lot of stuff said here. Here are a few reasons why this is NOT a scandal (or just part of a larger one):

- Clinton fired ALL the US attorney when he entered the Presidential office. Some say, well Bush's firings were discriminate based on politics, which is not how the office of US attorney's should be rated. Well, Clinton's firings were indiscriminate, meaning he discriminated against all the attorneys by not giving any a chance. Who is to say Clinton didn't bag them all as a cover to get rid of just one or two specific attorneys he disagreed with politically?
- Maybe we should be mad at Bush/Gonzalez for the firings. But, if that angers us, we sure as hell better be angered at Clinton's firings.
- Some say, "well, Gonzalez lied about his involvement." News Flash: The Bush administration lies all the time. I don't have the numbers, but I suspect it is once a week or more. The fact that Gonzalez lied doesn't mean this particular issue is scandalous. They lie about stuff that isn't that scandalous all the time. The whole administration is a scandal.

01 April 2007

Metro Etiquette

You're on the subway and it's really crowded. You take the only seat available -- next to a stranger -- who for the sake of argument is an overweight minority. You are comfortable enough in the seat, though the size of the stranger means you two are more snug than usual.

Eventually you get near the end of the line and the train car clears out. There is an empty bench right across the way. You're sitting on the outside, so it would be easy to slide over. Do you move?

Everybody enjoys some personal space and, let's face it, you'd both have way more if you moved to the empty row. But will the move be construed as disgust or bigotry.

What is the proper thing to do in this situation?

My first instinct is to stay in the chair. That way no one's feelings get hurt, even if it makes for an awkward situation. But is that just being over-sensitive?

Here's an urban etiquette primer, but I didn't find what I was looking for there.