THE REVEALING LETTERS

I gathered recently with some friends and siblings for what I thought would be some wholesome family fun.  Unfortunately, someone challenged us all to a strange word game, titled Bananagrams, wherein each contestant is given letters from which to try create a full crossword faster than their opponents.

Quickly, it was noticed by me that I was slower than my rivals (generally I was just finishing sorting the letters into alphabetical order when the others were completing the grueling task).  Thus, I suggested that I be given some sort of handicap to make things more fair.

“How about,” a creative participant suggested, “everyone but Seth has to get at least one dirty word in their crossword.”

This was accepted and the group set to the lewd chore.

Several moments into the noble endeavour, one of my sisters—for no apparent reason—announced, “I have sex!”

“Okay, then,” I replied, “thanks for letting us know, but for now, can we concentrate on the game?”

My sister tried to cover up her inappropriate announcement by explaining she’d found the word “sex” in her letters, but we knew she was just embarrassed, so—to make her feel better—we spent the rest of the evening sharing made-up sins of our own. Some announced that they read dirty magazines; others were voyeurs; and most of us liked S&M.

Artwork supplied by styrogirls.com.

THE PHONE OFF

While rush-jogging out of work the other day, I realized—just before I got to my bus stop—that I was without my phone, so I re-ran back my steps to see if I’d dropped it.  I arrived at my work intersection to see my phone in the crosswalk I’d just hurried across.  A monster of a car was galloping towards it.  In slow-motion I yelled, “Nooooooooo!”, but before my phone could realize what was happening to it, it was devoured by the wheels of the beast—and phone crumbs soared in all directions!

Okay, then.

Luckily, my 3-year phone contract with Bell was recently expired, so I was in a good position to get a good deal on a new phone.  Indeed, I was a free agent, so I set out to play Bell against Rogers in a battle for my customering.  First, Bell was rung, and after 2 hours of negotiation (okay 1.75 hours of that was with their hold music), I’d acquired an excellent offer.

Onto Rogers to see what they could do:

“So,” I said, “Bell offered me this—can you do any better?”

“Oh,” Roger Rogers said (approximately), “that is a very good deal—probably because you’ve been with them for so long—no way we can beat that.”

So I phoned Bell back and told them that they didn’t actually need to give me such a good rate, because their competition wasn’t close to stealing me away.

PASSING ON ADVICE

So a friend of mine sent out a group email requesting participants for a survey that a friend of hers was conducting. She concluded her call for assistance with the phrase, “Feel free to pass on.”

Wow! Reminding people of their right to die seems a bit harsh—especially when you’ve just asked them for a favour!

When I confronted the impertinent emailer, she explained that she just wanted to make sure people knew their options.

A SETHBLOGS EXPERIMENT: HOWE TO TRICK YOUR FRIENDS

If you’re not a hockey fan, but want to impress a friend or enemy who is, try this sentence on for sizable reaction:

YOU: Did you know that Gordie Howe had only one Gordie Howe hat trick in his 26 year NHL career?

(A Gordie Howe hat trick is not simply a hat trick—three goals in a game—by Gordie Howe (a.ka. “Mr. Hockey”). Instead, Gordie’s trick is a bundle of three specific hockey behaviours, but not all goals, and like the standard trick, it can be completed by anyone. However, it was named after Mr. Howe because he seemed the most likely to achieve it, which is why it should seem odd to a hockey fan such as your friend or rival that Mr. Hockey managed only one in his lengthy tenure.)

Now your friend should not only be surprised to learn that Howe had only one Howe-style hat trick in his career, but also that this intriguing stat came from you, someone we established earlier is not an aficiando of their favourite game.

So here comes the experimental part. Your Sethblogs predicts that—even if you still haven’t guessed exactly what a Gordie Howe hat trick is—you shouldn’t need the definition in your conversation with your hockey friend or foe because we think they’ll assume that anyone capable of the expression must know its meaning.

Instead, then, SethBlogs suggests that most fun will be had if you play expression roulette with the phrase, and try it out with your hockey friend or foe without looking it up in advance. If you do so, you’ll achieve your own hat trick:

(1) You’ll impress your friend;

(2) You’ll show courage against the possibility that—against Sethblogs’ prognostication—your friend does inquire as to what you think the expression means; and

(3) you’ll entertain SethBlogs when you report your findings back to us!

Thank you for your attention to this daring endeavour.


In the meantime, for a look at Mr. Hockey in action, consider this footage from a 1979 contest between Moscow Dynamo and the WHA all-stars, which included 50 year-old Gordie, his son Marty, and a 17 year-old apprentice to Gordie’s scoring records.

THE BUS STOP!

In the interest of full disclosure—and Seth-promotion—the spirt of this rant, and other works of Sethiquette, is now available in my book, How to Cure Yourself of Narcissism.


In opposition to my recent rants (SPACE ON BUS; SPACE ON BRAIN & MY FIRST LINEUP) regarding bus passenger selfishness, I challenge me to consider this incident:

After finishing work in the late evening on Sunday, I landed outside on the street with my usual walk-and-look-for-the-bus plan. The walk would be a simple 15 minute trek to the nearest Skytrain that would take me home, but if, on this walk, I happened to pass a bus stop at the same time as bus, I would happily hop aboard to save myself up to 10 minutes of commute.

When, then, I spotted a bus dropping off a passenger at a stop that was just 50 yards ahead of me, I decided to make a run for the oversized van (in case it was slowed down by more exiting passengers), but my sprint was not a desperate one since I was content with my leg-powered transporation.

As I ran, the passenger that was just jettisoned from the vehicle spotted my approach, and so pointed at the bus to ask if I was aiming for it. I nodded, and so, with no thought of why she should care about a stranger’s goals, she knocked on the outside of the bus to indicate a passenger was coming. To honour her effort, I sped up my pace, but the bus pressed forward just as I arrived.

I was not wounded by the loss since (A) I didn’t feel the driver was obligated to the knocking-instructions of a former passenger and (B) I was still content walking. But I was touched by the efforts and concern of the stranger, who, in turn, shook her head with disgust at the departing bus.

I assured her I was content walking, but I thanked her for her kindness – not many would look out for a stranger like that. This did not cheer her up, but it did me.

MY FIRST LINEUP

In the interest of full disclosure—and Seth-promotion—the spirt of this rant, and other works of Sethiquette, is now available in my book, How to Cure Yourself of Narcissism.



Given my previous rant (see SPACE ON BUS: SPACE ON BRAIN) about the need for a bus passenger training school, it seems only fair that I give a sample of what our consideration-challenged friends could learn there.

I suggest we start the training with a lecture on how to correctly enter a transit vehicle: students of Bus School will discover that, before boarding any such bus or train, one lets the exiting passengers go first. (“It’s like they have a green light, while yours is red.”) This, bussing professors will explain, allows us to avoid a passenger clog of people going in two directions. To facilitate this complicated maneuver, learners will be taught to line up slightly to the side of the entry doors until their opposites have completed their exodus.

Special emphasis will then be impressed upon the students that:

“When you see passengers waiting efficiently by the side of the doorway in this manner, they are not meaning to move out of your way so that you can jump the queue and board the bus first for the best seat. (When you do that, it angers and destroys your fellow travelers’ faith in the system, and reduces their own compliance with passenger protocol.)”

If such training stops just one one anarchist transit-user from queue-jumping to collect the last good seat on the bus, it will easily pay for itself in gaskets not blown by the rest of us.

SPACE ON BUS: SPACE ON BRAIN

In the interest of full disclosure—and Seth-promotion—the spirt of this rant, and other works of Sethiquette, is now available in my book, How to Cure Yourself of Narcissism.


This is a classic rant that probably needs no repetition, but I can’t help myself. On the bus once again last night, when a large crowd began to fill it, patrons at the front of the entering group did not go all the way to the back. The result was the standard passenger-dam at the front and middle of the vehicle.

I can appreciate, in such circumstances, that the back of the bus will naturally be less packed than the front. Passengers fill the back first, after all, and so it feels awkward to get up close and cozy with strangers for an as-of-yet only theoretical need for room. Instead standard stranger-spacing etiquette feels like it should apply.

But when the crowd begins to run out of room at the front of the corridor, there is an understanding between new friends there that near-hugging is allowed because otherwise one of you would not fit on the coach.

And, as I surveyed from the well-packed middle section of the vehicular hallway, I noticed as ever that the back of the bus was not simply spaced reasonably according to stranger-convention; instead, there was a walk-in closet’s worth of room—and even an empty seat!

You see, somewhere along the aisle to the back, a traveller or two simply stopped (like a pair of escalator-standers) and blocked the following masse. This was no simple etiquette of spacing: it was emptiness of awareness. The travelers preferred the centre of the carriage (perhaps because it was closer to the exit doors), which is all swell and good (if, that is, you don’t enjoy the bus’s hind quarters, then feel free to seek refuge in the middle), but, for passengers’ sake!, make room in the aisle for those who would move into the glorious space behind you.

And yet, on every crowded bus, there are always those who are profoundly unobservant of (or simply unconcerned with) the needs of their fellow bus-goers. It is time they be taught a lesson: I propose remedial transit-traveller finishing school for these breachers of consideration. They must be taught that with great transit comes comes great responsibility.

Perfect. Problem solved. I feel better.


While we wait, see MY FIRST LINEUP for a proposed first lesson at Bus Passenger Training School.

GIVING 73% ON THIS POST

As the new hockey season (and so the post-game interview season) arrives, it is important to refresh our understanding of hockey players’ special metaphorical math in regard to percentages. In standard, boring old mathematics, that is, “percentage” is up to a maximum of 100, but hockey players (as well as other athletes) use an alternate system known as “emphasis percentage.”

You see, in reality, it’s actually quite difficult to always give 100% effort (that’s a sure way to burn one’s self out), but nor is it very safe to admit to the picky journalists that one gave, say, 80% on a given night. Thus, a special alternate system of percentage was invented just for athletes and motivational speakers. Emphasis percentage works exactly like regular percentage, except that, instead of counting the number of points within a 100, E% has a maximum total of 150.

Thus, after a game, an athlete can happily, and honestly, state that they put in “120%,” which looks great for emphasizing that they tried really hard, but doesn’t provoke nit-picky questions from reporters about why they didn’t give their maximum.

If you’re curious, however, to know what an athlete actually put forth, just remember the exchange rate from E% to regular % is .67. If in doubt, here’s a handy chart:

Regular % Emphasis %
             73% →  110 E%
             80% →  120 E%
          100% →  150 E%

Note: 110 is the E% minimum.

If, however, you ever hear someone claim that they gave 200%, don’t believe them: it’s impossible.


P.S. Of course, not everyone agrees with my assessment of hockey percentages:

P.P.S. Also, to further prepare you for the hockey cliche season, consider this:

COMMENTARY DELIGHTS

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