Wednesday, August 31, 2011

DIY and Save Thousands

Okay, so far all I've written here is dry, introductory stuff. Now it's time for something fun and very practical...

Do-it-yourself auto body tips, illustrated with pictures I took outside my friend's apartment this morning.

To fix a damaged bumper, all you need is some duct tape and spray paint.

- Be sure to apply enough layers of tape to restore the structural integrity, and try to smooth out any big wrinkles.

- After taping, apply a coat of Krylon or Rust-Oleum approximately the same color as the original paint. (If the original paint is severely oxidized, you have some flexibility.)

That's all there is to it! From half a mile away, nobody can tell it was ever wrecked. (Although you should probably show the car to potential buyers only at night.) You can use a similar process on torn headliners, broken tail lights, and possibly even flat tires. For repairs under the hood (like a ruptured radiator hose or fuel line), use premium quality, high-temp duct tape, because any job worth doing is worth doing right.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I Had to Call it Something, and "Google" Was Taken

“Why does Brian call this thing Unintimidated by Convention?” In case you’re obsessed with that question, I’ll explain…

Before starting my blog I thought very long and hard about what to name it, devoting at least two hours to the matter. I looked to one of my recent writer’s notebooks for inspiration and found some things I’d jotted down about Homer and Langley, the latest novel from E. L. Doctorow. In this re-imagining of the lives of Harlem recluses Homer and Langley Collyer, Doctorow crafts many passages of pure genius.

My favorite short phrase from the book is “cats on patrol,” which refers to exactly what you’d think. The only trouble is this would make no sense as a blog title.

I was captivated and amused by a page-long passage on the paradox that can result from tying one’s happiness to that of another person. But my blog isn’t about relationships, and a page-long title might be a bit much. (I mean, this isn’t a Fiona Apple album.)

Then it hit me. “Unintimidated by convention” is a phrase Doctorow uses to describe the Collyer brothers, stubborn, fiercely independent, and thrifty-to-a-fault pathological hoarders. I do not wish to live anything like they did (no reasonable person would). But there was something about their attitudes as portrayed by Doctorow that I strongly identify with. I’d found my title.

In a future post, I’ll probably list some reasons I consider myself unintimidated by convention.


With the problem of naming my blog out of the way, all I lack is a subtitle for it—you know, a little tag line that gives a nutshell description of me or suggests the blog’s focus. I brainstormed some good possibilities, but someone has beaten me to each of them. Here’s a list of subtitles I could have used if they weren’t already taken:

- Huge in Europe

- Two people shy of a ménage a trois

- Winner of the Pulitzer Prize

New Zealand’s fourth most popular folk-parody duo

- From the office of the President of the United States of America

- Now with 50% less saturated fat

That’s about all I’ve come up with so far. If anyone has an original idea, I’d love to hear it. Please comment below.

~ Edit: There's now a subtitle, which you can see if you scroll to the top of the page. I have a standing invitation for Stale Thinking to meet me by the flagpole at noon, and I'm gonna work that sucker over! (21 September 2011) ~

Me 2.0

I’m taking this college course on computer technologies for professional and technical writing. (Yeah, and they have courses on stuff like history of rock and roll. Who's the sucker?) Our first assignment is to browse some books on Web 2.0, just to gain basic familiarity. I say to myself, “Self, I wasn’t even aware they came out with a new update. We should definitely install it on our laptop, because the original web was pretty nifty, so version two should be dynamite!” Allow me to go back and explain a little of my history…

For about three seconds in the early 1980’s I was up to speed on computers. I hung out with some tech-savvy kids. I could hold my own in a conversation on the latest hardware and software, and I could actually use both to nearly their full potential. Over the next decade my computer skills stagnated as the technology rushed forward like a bullet train. I was left standing at the station, and by the time Al Gore became Vice President, I was clueless. I could no more sit in front of a computer and make it do what I wanted than fly to the moon by flapping my arms. I’ve spent the time since then trying to catch up, but I’ve always been two steps behind and about as capable as an average 5th grader. (On some things, more like a below-average one who has to stay after class to get extra help.) I mean, I’ve figured out how to work Word and Excel, how to find what I need on the web (version 1.0) and how to use email. I’m not stupid, just stunted.

So I open a book called Fundamentals of Web 2.0 (an electronic, online edition), and the first thing I learn is that there was no big revision to the internet. The 2.0 is a term someone coined for social networking, which, until recently, I thought was only used by high school kids looking for new ways to spread gossip and consulting firms trying to make a buck with their expertise in... ah, social networking. Apparently, there’s more to it than that, and if I don’t get on board I’ll soon be left even farther behind.

Hence, this thing you’re reading right now. That is, if you didn’t fall asleep two paragraphs ago. If you’re still with me, I’m sure you’ll enjoy future posts on how I’ve learned to Tweet about getting my Facebook LinkedIn to my blog.

Copyright 2011 by W.W. Norton & Company


From Charlotte Temple
by Susanna Rowson. 

This is NOT what they mean by "Social Networking," but it's about as close as I ever came until recently.

Monday, August 29, 2011

A Blogger is Born!

Hello, friends, followers, and insomniacs who’ve nearly reached the end of the internet. With this post I am officially a blogger! My name is Brian R. Christensen, but you may call me B.C., Brian the Kwyjibo, or That guy with the incredibly brilliant blog. You may also call me with offers for nice, high-paying technical writing jobs.*(see footnote)

If you are reading this, you’re probably one of the following:

1)     A fellow student in Mali Subbiah’s ENGL 4100 class, and required to follow me as part of our blogging assignment.

2)     Someone who needs a little help with Google and was searching for information about Hans Christian Andersen or that kid who played Anakin Skywalker. Or maybe a brine recipe for your Christmas turkey?

3)     My wife. (Thanks for reading my blog, Cupcake. If you could do it about twelve million more times, my stats will be phenomenal!)

I see this blog as a way for me to join the worldwide online conversation as an active contributor, regardless of whether I have anything substantial to add—in other words, it’s my virtual “Big Gulps, huh?” I also hope it will help me get a decent grade in my class at Weber State University. And ideally, I’d like to use it to touch the heart of some lonely kindred spirit. But mainly, that thing about getting a good grade.

Here is what’s in store for you if you return regularly:

1)     Witty observations about stuff I find on the internet, in the real world, and often, just inside my head. (That last one is a place that’s pretty fun but kind of silly and usually overcrowded.)

2)     Unbiased reviews of books, movies, music, consumer products, places I visit, and maybe the occasional hairstyle. Scratch that—it will be decidedly biased. Expect opinionated, unbalanced, and probably unfair remarks. This is my little corner of the blogosphere, so why shouldn’t I make the rules?

3)     Cool pictures I shoot. You know, stuff like neat looking animals, my kids, wildflowers, etc. I am secure enough in my manhood to admit I love wildflowers. Since a picture is worth 1,000 words, when I don’t feel like typing I’ll just put up a couple paragraphs worth of digital images.

4)     Something that one of my favorite bloggers, Jenny Lawson, calls “blogging about blogging.” I mean, people like to write about what’s new in their lives, right? Well, this is what’s new for me. [pointing at the screen as I create the site you’re reading right now]

5)     Occasionally, some really corny jokes. The kind that involve cannibals and clowns, or an embarrassed tomato. I know… you can hardly wait for those!

6)     Whatever else spews forth from the wellspring of awesomeness that is my brain.

I bet you're thinking This is so original! Like no one else has ever written about this stuff, eh? Just give it a chance, whydontcha?

Please comment, pass a link along to your friends (or your enemies, depending on your opinion of what I’ve done here), and return often.

Alright... Well, see ya later!

A Ten-Lined June Beetle (Polyphylla decemlineata)

My Girls, Easter 2011

Pretty, huh?

* High-paying technical writing jobs. Obviously, this blog is meant to be rather tongue-in-cheek.**(see footnote to this footnote) But seriously, I possess almost super-human writing skills, and hiring me would be perhaps the wisest move you’ve ever made.

** This is what we technical writers type instead of LOL or a semicolon and right parentheses.