Previous “Features” posts

The What Experts?

Certainly not the design experts.

Parodontax makes a mouthwash “designed for people with bleeding gums”. That’s quite the target market, one which instantly makes me think of this guy:

An ad including the text ‘Hello gumwash’ and “Gum Experts”, where the upper-case ‘G’s look an awful lot like ‘C’s.

That’s good old ”Bleeding Gums” Murphy, from “The Simpsons”, and if he were still alive and also a real person, this would be the product for him.

However, I learned of this product via a very bad online advertisement. Have a look:

An ad including the text ‘Hello gumwash’ and “Gum Experts”, where the upper-case ‘G’s look an awful lot like ‘C’s.

I can only say that a different typeface would really be wise, one where the uppercase ‘G’ has a horizontal bar, and thus does not look like the letter ‘C’.

Heck, they could use the one from their toothpaste box:

Parodontax toothpaste which includes the phrase ‘Active Gum Repair’, where the letter ‘G’ has a very clear horizontal bar, and does NOT look like a letter ‘C’.

There’s no confusion there.

Run, Don’t Run Your Mouth

Don’t be like this.

Current Miami mayor and future Republican presidential primary dropout Francis Suarez recently tweeted to boast about his time in a 5K race:

This is a very bad tweet. It’s bad on its face, because the speed with which someone runs is completely irrelevant to their ability to govern. To give just one extremely obvious example, Franklin Roosevelt led America through World War II despite being paralyzed from the waist down.

But this is also just such a weak flex, given Suarez’s time. I would ordinarily consider it poor form to critique someone’s race result, but given the vaingloriousness of the post, it simply must be said: Suarez’s time is nothing to brag about. It’s fine, and that’s about it.

To make it worse, Suarez isn’t even leading the pack in the utterly moronic category of “presidential candidate 5K times”. Instead, he is at best a distant 3rd, with two readily available answers to this tweet’s idiotic demand. Current candidate Vivek Ramaswamy putting up a 23:04 back in 2021 and 2020 candidate Beto O’Rourke dropping a 21:04 last year.

When it comes to running, unless you’re one of the elites, it’s best to focus on competing against yourself. There will always be someone faster than you, probably lots of people, and that’s OK. Just get out there, do your thing, and be satisfied. Because if you try to rub your mediocre time in the world’s face, you will be laughed at by the many, many people who know better. Humility is a far better path, not to mention a better indicator of a good leader than the ability to run 3.1 miles.

The rotten cherry on top of this garbage sundae of a tweet, however, is its statement that Suarez “placed 6th”. This is a lie by omission. In point of fact, Suarez placed 6th in his age group (Men 45-49), a group that featured just 16 entrants. He finished over 3 minutes behind the age group’s winner, Phil Decker, who he would apparently have to agree deserves to be president even more. 🇺🇸 Vote Decker 2024! 🇺🇸

No, far from a true 6th place finish, the results show that Suarez’s not-at-all elite time put him 87th of 460 finishers. Coincidentally, that’s about where he can expect to place in the Republican primaries too.

Jolien Boumkwo Kicks Ass

She went the extra ~1/16th of a mile.

When multiple teammates were taken down by injuries, Belgian shot putter Jolien Boumkwo stepped up (and over), running the 100m hurdles to keep her team alive in this past weekend’s European Championships.

6 world-class hurdlers, and one additional competitor, much farther back

Boumko competing in the event provided her team with one point instead of zero. It also allowed us to see the fruition of a beautiful dream:

A tweet which reads “Every Olympic event should include one average person
competing, for reference.”

On the 100-meter hurdles, 32.81 seconds is the new benchmark for the rest of us.


  1. I’ve archived the full video. You may notice they sped it up, because 32+ seconds is kind of a long time. That’s a little bit comical, but you should also be sure to notice Boumkwo’s competitors shaking her hand after the race is finished. ↩︎

Cause The Garage Door

Shoddy Identification; Really Irksome

Though Siri may have eventually learned the word “gazpacho”, it’s consistently finding new ways to vex me. Recently, I simply wanted to close my garage door from my Apple Watch, something I do frequently without issue:

An Apple Watch Screen reading: “Cause the Garage Door” and “Your garage doors can’t do that.”

For the record, I was not talking with my mouth full.

Timers vs. Alarms

That is very much not what I want.

Today in stupid Siri bugs, let’s have a look at failed timers. When last I wrote about timers, it was to grouse that the iPhone is incapable of running two timers at once. The Apple Watch, however, is a precision timekeeping device. It’s more capable, and has mastered the science of running two (or more) timers at once. Wow!

Unfortunately, if Siri fails to hear the full command for a timer, things go rather wrong. Recently, I wanted to set a timer for three minutes. I said exactly that to my Apple Watch: “Set a timer for three minutes”. However, it seems Siri missed the last word. This was the result:

A two part message. Part 1: “Set a timer for
three”; Part 2: “Timers can't be set for a time of day, so I set your alarm for 3 AM.”

This is a truly terrible automatic behavior. Because it didn’t hear my full command, the system created an undesired alarm and defaulted it to on. If I’d failed to notice this error, I would both not have been alerted when three minutes had passed, and been woken up rudely in the middle of the night. That’s not great.

Rather than assuming I don’t understand the difference between timers and alarms, it would clearly be better for Siri to ask a clarifying question.

The USA Has Gone [Too Few] Days Without a Mass Shooting

“Infinity” is the ideal answer, but I’d settle for just moving that number higher than single digits.

Following Tuesday’s post about gun violence in America, I made a donation to Everytown for Gun Safety. If you’re in favor of sanity when it comes to guns, you can donate too.

If you contribute, you’ll likely be taken to the same donor survey I was:

Text message, quoted below

This portion of the text really struck me:

[W]e’ve always said that the work to end gun violence is a marathon and not a sprint…with the horrific mass shootings that we’ve seen this year, it’s clear we still have a long way to go.

After reading it, I found myself wondering sadly if they change that copy when the new year strikes. If so, how quickly do they change it back? It looks like this year, the answer would’ve been “within a few hours”.

We need to do better.

Everyone’s Favorite Marine Biologist

You can look directly into the eye of the great fish. Or mammal. Whatever!

On Saturday, August 19, the Brooklyn Cyclones will be giving away an incredible bobblehead, based on a classic Seinfeld episode called “The Marine Biologist”. Gaze upon it and weep at its majesty:

[Photo credit: Brooklyn Cyclones]

Like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli, I’m angry today, my friends. I’m angry that I can’t attend the team’s 2023 Seinfeld Night to receive one of these glorious giveaways. But at least I can console myself with a well-edited video of the reference in question.1

Previously in marine biologist-related nonsense: Phil Really Missed His Time to Shine


  1. The video is archived here. ↩︎

Something’s Just Got to Give

The worst case scenario is approximately our current reality.

Today, a brutal one-two punch combination, via the Washington Post. First, we have a surreal ban on backpacks, which will do nothing to address the actual problem of unrelenting gun violence in America.

Meanwhile, a second article on cell phones in school featured this utterly devastating quote:

“I’m afraid that if something happens, I won’t be able to contact anyone … to tell people I’m okay or I’m not,” the eighth grader said. “Worst case scenario: You can at least say goodbye.”

A 14-year-old is thinking about this, with good reason. That is just not OK.

We Need the Seeds

So many other buns are just bad.

Trader Joe’s is a different kind of grocery store. They stock only a tenth of the items a larger grocery store offers, and carry almost exclusively their own branded products. As a result, the company frequently discontinues products, providing the shelf space to new items. If you shop at Trader Joe’s long enough, the company will eventually break your heart.

I first experienced this with the company’s “Reduced Guilt Wheat Crisps”. The name of those crackers always made me laugh, because they imply that you should still have some guilt. But less! I frequently snacked on these Wheat Thin-esque crackers with cheese, and I was greatly disappointed when they were discontinued.

As I wrote back in February, they recently reformulated their hamburger buns in an unfortunate way, by stripping the sesame seeds. Since then, I’ve sought out a decent replacement at other stores, but it’s been rough sledding. There aren’t a lot of options, and what’s out there is often too small or just otherwise not great.

This past weekend, while commiserating about lousy substitutes with my pal Amy, I stumbled upon the Trader Joe’s “Discontinued Product Feedback” form. I took a few minutes to express my hope for the return of sesame seeds:

Hi folks,

Recently, you removed the sesame seeds from your excellent hamburger buns. I believe I understand why, as sesame is now included among the top allergens. It’s commendable to have altered the product to accommodate allergic customers.

But these new, naked buns? They’re charmless! They’re simply not as good. We need the seeds!

Is there any chance we could see a return of sesame seeds? Perhaps you could have both seeded and seedless varieties.

The form makes it clear one shouldn’t get their hopes up on anything returning to the shelves, with the top text including the phrase “We make no guarantees”. Further, after submitting, that message is reinforced:

A note reading: “We do not enter into the decision to discontinue a product lightly. We understand that it can be disappointing - we are Trader Joe's customers too, after all. However, we want you to know that we take customer requests into account when we develop new products or revisit old favorites. We appreciate you taking the time to share this valuable feedback with us.”

Still, perhaps with enough people submitting feedback, a change might come. If you like a solid sesame seed bun for your home burger needs, you too can submit feedback to Trader Joe’s. Just tell them “We need the seeds!”.

I Was a Victim of Bird Strike

But seriously, what the fuck, goose?

Yesterday morning, I was hit by a goose. A mile and a half in to a seven mile run, a goose flew directly into me. Physically, I’m mostly fine, if a bit sore. I don’t appear to have any beak bruises, at least. But mentally? Man, I don’t know!

The banks of the river Charles where I do much of my running are infested with Canada geese, munching on grass and honking the day away. They’re generally just benign poop factories, though they might be a bit too tame:

A goose directly below the photographer
So I’m just sitting on a bench and eventually I gotta say “Ay, goose, ever heard of the concept of personal space?”.
[Photo courtesy of P. Kafasis]

And when they have goslings, they’ll hiss up a storm at you:

A goose directly below the photographer
[Photo courtesy of P. Kafasis]

That’s usually as far as it goes though. So when I spotted two of these pests flying low at my 2 o’clock, I didn’t think much of it. As I kept running, it seemed they were going to be landing pretty close to me, but that’s fine. At the last moment, however, I realized one of these hefty bastards was going to collide with me. In a split second, I turned my body away, it slammed me square in the back, and I yelled out “Jesus!”. The goose, I would like it noted for the record, never made a single sound.

After I got hit, I slowed down and looked around, but there was absolutely no one in sight. Nary a soul had witnessed this honest-to-goodness bird strike (not engine suck). I swiveled my head to look back at the winged pair, who were now standing around, goosing it up like nothing had happened. In disbelief, I yelled out “What the FUCK?!”.

I had broken stride when the collision occurred, but thinking it wise to get some distance from my assailant, I hadn’t stopped completely. As I continued on, I again scanned the area for people. I wanted someone to reassure me that they had seen what happened, and that they would commiserate as a fellow human against these out-of-control waterfowl. Alas, I again came up empty. I picked my pace back up and sped away from the site of my bird-based embarrassment.

Frankly, I should’ve turned around and gone home. I don’t think anyone could have blamed me for just giving up at that point, on the run, and even on the whole day. But instead, I ran another five and a half miles wondering what the fresh hell had just happened to me.

It was suggested to me that the goose himself might be having similar confusion. But no! He had a friend there. At the very least, they can talk it over together. “Pete, why was that guy on our landing strip?” “Oh, Gary, I don’t know, he came out of nowhere!”. Or maybe it was intentional, and they’re actually out there laughing at me. “I really whacked that non-flying schmuck! Running – pfft. Get some wings!”.

I’ll never know the truth of the situation. I sure do wish I could see a replay, but there’s no video, no witnesses, no evidence at all. In an effort to restore my own sense of self, I’m chalking the whole thing up to pure avian incompetence, coupled with the law of averages. I’ve decided to simply accept that running thousands of miles along the river meant that sooner or later, I was bound to get nailed by a clumsy goose.