Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Tale of the Free Book

Come little children, gather round.  I will tell you a story of swashbuckling pirates, true love, giants, deception, and war.  Okay, not really.  If you want that story you should read The Princess Bride.

But, I am going to tell you a story about Goodreads and how I got a free book.  I know it doesn't sound as interesting, and that may be because it's not as interesting.  But it was a neat experience for me, so I hope you find it at least somewhat to your liking.

You see, about 2 years ago I decided that it would be cool to write a review on Goodreads, of every book that I read.  I really don't know how much value they give to others.  I mostly do it to help me remember what I liked and didn't like about each book as well as remembering quotes or themes that I was able to pull out of the book.

Since it's been a few years and I am an avid reader, I have built up quite a set of reviews.  I don't know exactly how many there are but I would guess it's around 80 or 90.

Well, apparently my reviews are not bad because I got an email from a blogger that I have followed for a long time.  He recently came out with a book and I had added it to my list of books to read but had not yet actually purchased or read it.  He desired in his heart for me to review his book.  This is what the email said:

Jeff, I noticed you've marked my book, "Uncommon Sense: A Common Citizen's Guide to Rebuilding America," as "to-read." I'll make you a deal: I'll send you a free copy if you promise to 1) read it as soon as possible, and 2) post your review on Goodreads and Amazon. What do you say? If you're up for it, I'd just need your mailing address. Thanks! Stephen Palmer
This would be an excellent cover for a book about uncommon sense.

Now, for someone who writes a review of every book I read, this seemed like a phenomenally good deal.  Especially since I have found Stephen Palmer's blog to be well written and insightful.  Naturally, I sent him my address with great haste.

When the book arrived, I opened it up and saw this.

I guess I didn't realize he would sign it.  It made me feel suddenly cool and in the know.  I had an author sign his book for me, and not because I stood in a line at a Wal-Mart where he was signing books, but because he actually wanted me to read it.  (Authors are not like real people to me.  They're like celebrities, only more intelligent.  They say smart stuff that people read.  I apologize if my geeking out about this is disgusting you.)

I hungrily devoured the book.  I found it to be filled with wisdom.  I found that the note he wrote in the front of the book was an excellent thesis for the entire book.  Change really does begin with you and me, and not in Washington.  The message really spoke to me and I learned a lot from the book.  (You can read my full review and list of awesome quotes from the book here.)

There are two morals to this story.  (I bring you so much wisdom and morality.)  The first is that you should read this book.  It's an easy read and you can buy it at amazon or borrow my copy that has been signed by the author.  (I like rubbing it in.)

The second is that if you write a book you should let me read it for free.  I promise to write a good review.  Unless your book is really bad, then I am willing to not write a review, which would be kinder than actually writing the review of how bad your book is.  But if you're planning to write a really bad book, my suggestion is don't do it.

It should be noted that my friend Chanel has written a book.  She graduated from normal person to smart person, who has written stuff that people pay to read.  She let me read her book for free as well.  It was an excellent read.  I even wrote a review.  So buy her book on amazon.

All the rest of you who have not sent me free books:  Let's get on that.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Foursquare Enforcer

I met the foursquare enforcer.  He's very real.  So you better not ever cheat on foursquare.

I know, most of you don't even know what foursquare is.  Now I'm going to have to explain it to you and simultaneously reveal my own high level of nerditude.

Foursquare is a mobile application where you can track where you are and share it with your friends.  It uses the GPS in your phone to see where you are, then you "check in" to nearby venues.  Your friends can see where you are checked in, you can comment and share pictures of the places.

When you check in to certain types of places you get special badges that appear on your profile letting people know that you have done such noteworthy things as gone bowling, eaten hot dogs, or checked in really late on a school night.  It's pretty high class stuff.  Also, the person who has checked in to a given location the most times in the past two months is deemed the mayor of that location.  Some businesses even give discounts for checking in or becoming the mayor of their establishment.

This is where the story gets somewhat embarrassing.  I wanted a certain badge on foursquare that you earn by checking in to an office a certain number of times.  Whoever added my work to foursquare did not categorize it as an office.  Therefore, I was checking in every day to a real estate office across the parking lot.

That's when the foursquare enforcer swooped in and commented on my checkin.
Wherever there are people checking in from several hundred yards away.  I'll be there!
He reprimanded me for my evil ways and exhorted me to never check in there again.  I explained to him the importance of me getting this badge and asked him why it was so important that I not check in.  This was his response:

Because other people who actually work here want the mayorship. If you want to cheat, just make up a new fake office.

I really wanted to mock him for feeling so strongly about a dumb phone application.  Every ounce of my soul really wanted to pour forth some mocking words.  But then I remembered that I was the one who was cheating in the dumb cell phone application.  All the mocking really should be directed at me.  I had to sheepishly tell him that I wouldn't check in there again and he was free to pursue the mayorship of his dreams.

I'll get you next time foursquare enforcer!  You haven't seen the last of me!
Thus ends the sad tale of how the foursquare cheater was defeated by the foursquare enforcer.  Isn't it funny how the foursquare cheater looks just like me except with more hair and an awkwardly photoshopped head? Totally crazy.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Toothpaste Miracle

Life is filled with small miracles.  Toothpaste tubes are one example.

You probably don't agree.  You probably think I'm crazy.  You're probably right.  But all I know is that I have witnessed the toothpaste miracle many times throughout my life.  You probably have too.  You just don't realize it.

Let me tell you my story and then you'll understand.

It all started when I laid down in my bed before brushing my teeth at night.  We all know how powerful the bed is when you're sleepy.  Once you're laying down it is nearly impossible to get up again.  But there is another force almost equally as powerful.  That force is the clean, satisfied feeling you get when you lay in bed after having brushed your teeth.  I think my dilemma is probably clear.  I didn't want to get out of bed, but I didn't want to go to sleep without brushing my teeth.

This is when I started using persuasive tactics to convince Robyn that she should brush my teeth.  I started explaining how I clearly couldn't do it myself.  I tried to help her understand that it would be such a terrible tragedy if I had to get out of bed.  To my surprise, she agreed to brush my teeth.  She grabbed my tube (We have separate toothpaste, for marital harmony.  Also because she uses a special toothpaste for sensitive teeth.  But mostly for marital harmony.  We can both squeeze it from wherever we like.) She exclaimed, "You don't have any toothpaste left."

This is what she was looking at:
You see, it looks like it's been squeezed to the max.  But the toothpaste miracle is that you can always squeeze out enough to brush your teeth just one more time.  It's looked like this for at least a month.  I'm pretty sure I can go a few more weeks before I throw it away.  Even when I throw it away I will know in my heart that I could have gone one more time, if I'd just squeezed it a little harder.

So I explained the miracle to Robyn.  She gave it a good squeeze and then proceeded to come at me with a loaded toothbrush.  At this point I had many regrets.  I regretted making the request that she brush my teeth.  I also regretted explaining the toothpaste miracle to her.  I expressed my regrets and told her I would brush my own teeth.  She said it was too late, I had sealed my fate.

What happened next was right out of an action movie.  You know how there's always the bad guy with a knife and the hero has to hold the villain's arm so that he doesn't get stabbed while he struggles to disarm his foe?  That's what happened, only the knife was a toothbrush, I was the hero and Robyn was the villain.  I successfully disarmed her (or debrushed her) and she went away grumbling something about how she was only trying to help.

Then, with great effort, I got out of bed and went to the sink to brush my teeth.  At least I didn't have to squeeze the toothpaste tube.  But, don't worry.  There will always be enough for one more time.
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