Author Archive

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Toasted Bread with Butter

April 1, 2012

I know this one is kind of a classic, but it’s so good, I figured it’s worth sharing anyway. Toasted Bread with Butter is great because it’s easy to make and yet very versatile. You can make it with any kind of bread, and — though I prefer regular old butter — you can use all sorts of different spreads: peanut butter, jam, cinnamon and sugar, you name it!

Most of us tend to associate Toasted Bread with Butter with breakfast, but let me tell you that it is always a welcome addition to any meal, regardless the time of day. And did I mention it’s easy to make? ūüėõ

Go make some right now — you won’t regret it!

Toasted Bread with Butter

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices of bread
  • 2 tsp room-temperature butter

Directions:

  1. Place bread slices in toaster oven (or in a conventional “slice” toaster).
  2. Turn toaster oven to “toast” setting and heat for 4 minutes. Flip the slices after 2 minutes to ensure even toasting on both sides. (If using a “slice” toaster, simply lower the lever and wait. A “slice” toaster should automatically toast both sides evenly.)
  3. After approximately 4 minutes, check the slices — both sides should be crispy but not charred. Toast longer if necessary.
  4. When both sides are evenly toasted, spread butter on one side of each slice.
  5. Enjoy!

‚Äď Reinman

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The Puzzling Ethics of Chutes and Ladders

February 21, 2012

Here’s how Chutes and Ladders works (just in case you’ve been living your entire life hidden away in some place where you have not had an opportunity to play the board game Chutes and Ladders): The objective is to make it to the last space on the board, and along the way, you’re hindered by slides (“chutes”) and aided by ladders (“ladders”).

But the real point of the game is to teach you lessons.

The “lessons” part makes a lot more sense if you play Snakes and Ladders (which I used to think was a third-party knock-off of Chutes and Ladders, but — according to leading scientists and Wikipedia — Snakes and Ladders was played in ancient India, a period that, in my opinion, predates 1943 America).

Snakes makes more sense than chutes because climbing a ladder will always be kind of a drag, but it’s a whole lot better than being gobbled up and pooped out by a giant, neon-blue python.

Chutes and Ladders, on the other hand, sends mixed messages. This is evident while playing with The Princess, who, like most four-year-olds, is a world-class cheater. She moves to whatever space she desires, regardless of what the spinner says.

This, I can handle. But the problem is, she “cheats” by landing on as many chutes as possible because going down slides is fun.

THE PRINCESS (spinning the spinner): Three!

She zig-zags her pawn two rows down and four spaces over so she can land on top of the longest slide on the board.

ME: No, no, you have to go up. Don’t you want to go up so you can win the game?

THE PRINCESS: Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

The problem is further complicated by the final space, which, in Chutes and Ladders, isn’t all that enticing. In the original, Indian version of Snakes and Ladders, the final space (“100”) represents Moksha — eternal union with God or the highest perfection of existence.

In Chutes and Ladders, the final space is a blue ribbon that says “winner.”

The next best thing to the highest perfection of existence

But, more than anything, it is the lessons themselves that makes the ethics of Chutes and Ladders so confusing.

In Snakes and Ladders, each ladder represents a different virtue (Faith, Generosity, Knowledge, etc.), and each snake represents a different vice (Theft, Lying, Murder, etc.). This leaves little room for ambiguity. (Murder is bad. Go back 30 spaces.)

There are no such labels, however, in Chutes and Ladders. Rather, the lessons are graphically depicted — each chute or ladder a two-act morality play. For instance, one chute begins with a boy who is reading a comic book instead of doing his homework. At the bottom of the slide is his punishment — he is forced to sit through a mind-numbingly boring birthday party.

Only a dunce would go to such a lame party

Not every chute or ladder, though, is this clear-cut. Indeed, in most cases, there seems to be no rhyme or reason regarding the degree of consequnces or even whether or act should be considered a virtue or a vice.

For instance, one chute shows a girl eating a box of chocolates and becoming sick. So sweets are bad for you. It goes against everything this blog stands for, but fair enough — I can see where they’re coming from. But then, what’s the reward at the top of two separate ladders? A heaping vanilla/chocolate/strawberry ice cream sundae and an entire freaking cake. WTF, 1979 Milton Bradley Co. Version of Chutes and Ladders?

All for ME!

What follows is a breakdown of all the chutes in Chutes in Ladders (1979 ed.) from shortest to longest. One would think that the longer the chute, the more dastardly the deed, but as you’ll see, that’s far from the case.

Chutes

Act Consequence Spaces Lost
Stomping barefoot in a puddle A cold 3
Screwing around on a bike A broken arm 4
Reading comics instead of studying Wear an awesome, pointy hat 10
Coloring on a wall Wash the wall 20
Breaking a window while playing baseball Pay for the window 20
Grabbing a cat by the tail Get clawed on the arms and face 20
Skating on thin ice Death 21
Eating a box of chocolates A tummy ache 38
Putting away too many dishes at once Broken dishes 43
Sneaking into a cookie jar on a shelf Falling down and breaking the jar 63

So, according to Chutes and Ladders, breaking a cookie jar is three times worse than (literally) skating on thin ice and crashing through to a watery grave.

(What’s that — we don’t know for sure the kid drowned? Yeah, great point — you win. Okay, kids, next thaw, find the nearest lake and skate away! Strawman says it’s all right!)

I also find it curious that the two longest slides both revolve around broken dishes. Apparently, broken kitchenware is worse than a broken arm, pneumonia, and death.

I would analyze all the ladders next, but I already discussed a couple of the dubious rewards, and the rest are pretty boring (things like, if you plant flowers, then you will get flowers and if you eat food, then you will become at least as tall as a yard-stick).

It is worth commenting, though, on the longest ladder in the game (56 spaces). Those familiar with the game know that, in just about every version, the longest chute and longest ladder are positioned close together on the same rows, so that it’s possible to enter into an endless loop of climbing and falling, sometimes even in consecutive turns.

And in the 1979 version, they are linked thematically as well — namely, by when it is and isn’t okay to climb something. Compare.

Longest Chute

Spaces Lost: 63

Act: Climbing up on a four-foot shelf to sneak a cookie from a cookie jar

Consequence: Falling down and breaking the jar

Longest Ladder

Spaces Gained: 56

Act: Climbing up a thirty-foot tree to “rescue” a feral cat

Reward: Rabies

* * *

Okay, that’s all. Next up in Ranting About Specific Versions of Board Games: The castration of Gloopy and the occasionally ambiguous connection between Middle East and East Africa.

— Reinman

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New Banner

February 5, 2012

(Look up)

As loyal readers have likely noticed, the primary content of this blog has changed quite a bit over the past several months.

So, the Jilb and I figured it was about time to update the banner in order to accurately reflect what this blog is primarily about — namely, amateur Photoshopping and varying shades of blue rectangles.

— Reinman

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Look and Feel

January 12, 2012

Last week, I could feel a zit forming on my nose. I couldn’t yet see it, but I knew it was there because it hurt like a madman. (Like a madman who was punching me in the nose.)

So, I tried to nip the problem in the butt, as they say. I squeezed the crap out of that zit. Actually, I wish I had, in fact, squeezed the crap out of that zit. Instead, what happened is I squeezed and squeezed and nothing happened.

With the bridge of my nose still throbbing, I took drastic measures and began digging at that nasty, invisible little zit with my fingernails until I was certain that it had been excavated.

Also, if you don’t like reading about gross things, you should probably skip the preceding paragraphs.

Unearthing the zit, of course, left a sizable scab on my nose. It didn’t hurt, but for a few days, I looked like a rather well-known, red-nosed creature.

Anyway, the whole ordeal left me reflecting on the fact that I often will trade appearances for comfort. In other words, I was willing to walk around with a clown-nose for a few days (poor appearance) if it meant relief from the newly forming zit that hurt slightly if I poked at it in just the right place (comfort).

It’s the same reason I never wear “skinny” jeans, and why “sweat” is my favorite variety of pant (provided sweatpants are even remotely socially acceptable, given the occasion — taking out the garbage, midnight runs to Walmart, my sister’s wedding, etc.).

It’s why I wear glasses instead of contacts. I’d rather look like a dork in glasses than have to regularly endure the uncomfortable sensation of touching my own eyeball.¬†Also, shut up — my mom says glasses are cool.

Some would say this is why I wore Velcro shoes during my freshman year of college. But I didn’t wear Velcro shoes because they were any more comfortable than shoes with laces — I wore them because they were so incredibly cool. Like glasses.

I blame this — my¬†preference¬†for comfort over appearance — for why I didn’t exactly kill it with the ladies in high school. (Also this, this, and this.)

One exception, though, does come to the top of my head — mostly, because I wear it on the top of my head. I put on a thin, silver and black stocking cap when I play football in the winter. I have other hats that are warmer and/or more comfortable, but I wear this particular hat because it matches my silver and black Randy Moss Oakland Raiders jersey (which, according to jersey-experts, is the fifth-most popular Moss jersey ever sold).

Why do I make this one exception? It’s because if there’s one thing I know about guys who play football, it’s that they would mercilessly ridicule me if my costume were not perfectly color-coordinated from head to toe.

Uniform. I meant to say uniform.

Or, my special playtime outfit.

— Reinman

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SOAP Trailer (or, How I Spent My Summer Vacation)

January 5, 2012

You’re probably already somewhat confused, so let me begin by clarifying one point: the snow you see in the SOAP trailer is fake — it doesn’t (often) snow in Hibbing, MN in the summer.

The trailer itself is not fake. It exists. You can watch it. See, I just posted it on this blog.

There is, however, no SOAP movie. That should be obvious after watching the trailer. If there were a SOAP movie, and if I were the director, and if I didn’t have any control over the trailer, and then I watched the trailer, I’d be kinda T.O.’d at the trailer.

I mean, the trailer gives away every single plot “twist” as well as the entire ending. A trailer for a real movie would never, ever do that. (It seemed as though “never, ever do that” should have linked to a trailer that does, in fact, do just that, but I was too lazy to look one up, so I just underlined the phrase instead to sort of make it look like a link — then I included this note to undermine my own efforts.)

Anyway, if there were a SOAP movie, the trailer would never, ever show that, at the end, Sam builds a fake friend out of construction material, only to realize that his true friends had been in front of him the entire time. Also, if you haven’t seen the trailer yet, SPOILER ALERT.

And, once again for the sake of clarity, I should point out one inaccuracy in the title of this post. The alternate title is “How I Spent My Summer Vacation,” which implies, incorrectly, that the SOAP trailer was created by me. It wasn’t. My contribution to the project was to gather some supplies and then drive back and forth¬†across¬†town after forgetting to bring the supplies.

A. Reini (a.k.a “the Hermit,” a.k.a. “BB2,” a.k.a. “Manny Ramir-Andrew Bank One Ball-Andrew,” a.k.a. “Doogie — no, not that¬†‘Doogie'”) shot and edited the video — seriously, I think he spent something like 10,000 hours just tweaking the color of “Cop #2’s”¬†moustache. (Also, if you see Dan Scally, don’t mention that he was “Cop #2.”)

So A. Reini gets the credit (blame?) for this. You can thank him by going to his funny and clever blog. As of now, 50 percent of his posts are about James Bond — which, as most blog-experts will tell you, is the perfect ratio.

— Reinman

SOAP is daily Bible reading program. This video was created to promote the program at First Assembly of God in Hibbing, MN.

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How to Make Custom Nerf Darts

December 19, 2011

Thirty-six Stefans

It’s a good time to be a Nerf enthusiast. The N-Strike series — with its interchangeable parts and array of clip-fed, semi-auto, and fully automatic blasters — has sparked something of a renaissance in the art of shooting one’s friends with little foam darts.

But not all is happy in Nerfville. Years ago, Nerf stopped producing Mega Darts — the most common ammunition used in first- and second-generation blasters. This, of course, is frustrating for owners of old Nerf weapons — like, say, the beloved Nerf Crossbow (“the most sought after Nerf gun out there“).

Nerf Crossbow (with just a couple, minor modifications)

To make matters worse, Mega Darts are getting increasingly difficult to find in secondary markets. (I conducted a quick search this morning and came up empty on both Amazon and eBay.) And, even if you are lucky enough to find a website that sells them, a six-pack of Mega Darts typically sells for around $20, and no one could possibly be that desperate.

All Nerf fans, therefore, should know how to make their own darts. Custom darts not only keep your blasters from becoming obsolete, but they also tend to fly straighter and farther than stock Nerf darts.

Here, then, is a step-by-step process for making your own custom darts.

(Note: Custom Nerf darts are commonly referred to as “Stefans.” I can only assume this is in reference to Urkel’s smooth-talking clone on Family Matters.)

Materials:

  • Foam backer rod
  • Ruler
  • Razor blade
  • Pillowcase
  • Clothespins
  • Nail
  • BBs
  • Hot glue gun

Directions:

1. Obtain foam backer rod. Backer rod is typically either 1/2” or 5/8” in diameter. Try to find 5/8” rod, if possible, because the original Mega Darts were 5/8”. If you are only able to find 1/2” rod, you can wrap the tip of your dart in a layer or two of electrical tape until it “fits” correctly in your blaster (sometimes I’ve even had to do this with 5/8″ rod).

Foam backer rod

2. Use a razor blade to cut the foam into 12″ sections.

Curvy

3. Place the sections in a pillowcase, shut it with clothespins, and dry the pillowcase in a dryer (on high) for 20 minutes.

Spider-Man and Star Wars pillowcases are also acceptable

4. Remove the sections from the pillowcase. They will likely still have a slight bend to them. Straighten them out by hand.

Straight(ish)

5. Cut each section into six separate 2″ darts. (The length of the dart, of course, can vary. Some people, for instance, swear by 1.5″ darts — but those people are morons.)

Proper, two-inch darts

6. Use a nail to poke a hole in the front of your dart.

Hammer optional

7. Place a BB in the hole. (Even though I’m about to glue it in, I still try try to bury the BB somewhat deep in the dart because I don’t want the BB accidentally coming loose and flying out during a game. After all, my friends and I aren’t savages. This isn’t Airsoft.)

Update: Two BBs may work even better, provided your Nerf blaster shoots with enough force. The key, of course, is finding the right balance — you want enough weight so that your dart flies straight, but not so much weight that it starts losing distance. The best approach is to experiment with a few different weights and see what works best for you.

The BB (not yet safely buried)

8. Hot glue the BB inside the dart. I recommend keeping the hot glue gun on the “low” setting to avoid melting the foam. Also, add some extra glue to the top of the dart in a “dome” shape — this will make your dart a little more aerodynamic.

Glorious

9. Keep your darts upright and let the glue dry overnight.

Congratulations — you’ve just made your own custom Nerf darts! Now all that remains is to go shoot the rest of your man-child friends in the face.

Next up: “How to Explain to Your Wife Why It’s Acceptable for a Grown Man and Father of Four to Still Be Horsing Around with Nerf Guns”

— Reinman

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That Other Blog

November 8, 2011

For the past few months, I’ve been maintaining another blog for an online class I’m taking.

I haven’t mentioned it until now because that other blog is dumb and boring.

But, in the off-chance that you’re at all interested in the history of blogging, I recently posted a long and boring article on the subject. (Sneak preview: this post is the closest Reini Days has come to matching the original purpose of weblogs.)

There are also some other posts over there. The best is probably Cheeky Behaviour. It’s mostly about cheeky behaviour.

— Reinman