Thursday, January 28, 2010

Culture Lesson: Starbucks Sizes

Oh dear. On January 7, Larry King's Twitter account revealed that the news anchor doesn't understand the Starbucks sizing method. (King has said he doesn't enter the Tweet himself. This blogger assumes King has a lackey to take care of it.)

I'd like to take an opportunity to clarify the sizes at Starbucks.

A small is...a tall (12 ounces).
A medium is...a grande (16 ounces).
A large is...a venti (20 ounces hot); venti is Italian for twenty.
(Cold drinks are all slightly larger.)

There is also an eight ounce size, called a "short." (This is what you get when you ask for a children's size. Some stores—particularly rest stops or locations added to an existing business—will deny the sizes existence.) You should be able to order anything as a short, which Washington City Paper confirmed in September:
I went to my nearby Starbucks in Adams Morgan and asked the barista for the smallest cup of coffee I could get.

I was expecting one of those thimble-sized sample cups.

He wasn’t quite sure what I wanted, so he started showing me all the various cups available — the Tall, the Grande, the Venti, the Ubermassenhaft. (OK, I joke about the last one, but only because Starbucks deserves it for corrupting the language.) Among the cups he showed me was this petite white cone that holds a reasonable eight-ounce pour.

“That’s what I want,” I told the barista. “I’ve never seen those before.”

“We use them for espresso,” he said, noting that I could also use it for coffee.

“Why don’t you include those sizes on the menu?” I asked.

“They’re too small.”

(My sister has ordered shorts for years, but I thought you might want a better source than "my sister.")

The naming system has outraged consumers for years. This is just the company's way of being cute. (If you order a small, you'll get a tall, if you order a medium, you'll get a grande. So no matter what you say, you'll at least get your drink.)

I once made the mistake of saying "tall" at a coffee shop in my hometown and was berated by the local barista. (So don't do that yourself, dear Old Ones.)


Additional Resources:
Secret Fast-Food Menus: Truth or Myth?, Washington City Paper

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Technology Lesson: Using an iTunes Gift Card in the iTunes Store

Note: The following lesson uses screenshots from my Mac and uses the most recent version of iTunes.

iTunes is easy to use, so I was surprised when I overheard a co-worker say she thought using a gift card was "probably difficult." My mom knows how to use an iTunes gift card, so let the public know that this lesson provides no direct benefit for her.

Using an iTunes Gift Card in the iTunes Store

This is a giftcard:

You'll have to scratch the silver gunk on the back to reveal a purchase code. Try to use something that isn't sharp, or you might scratch out the code too! I suggest lightly rubbing the area with a nickel.

1. Turn on your computer.

2. Open iTunes.
3. Click iTUNES STORE. You'll see it beneath your library in the left column.

4. This is the store:
(It might not feature Kings of Leon. This lesson was written in advance.)

5. Click REDEEM. You'll see it in the right column of the store.
6. Enter the code on the back of your giftcard in the box under REDEEM CODE:
If you were worried about my code, it's all used up now:

You might have to log on. Do that.

7. Find what it is you wanna buy. I want to buy the new Muse album. Type your product in the search bar at the top right of the program. ITunes will fill in suggestions as it guesses what you seek.
Hit enter and search!

8. Here is Muse's iTunes store:
9. I want the new album, so I've clicked it:
10. And iTunes brings me to the album page:
11. Confirm you've found what you want. (Take your time if necessary.) Click BUY [FORM OF MEDIA]:
12. iTunes asked me to sign in again. iTunes will probably ask you to confirm that you want to buy your item.
I obliged.

13. iTunes will download the item. You can monitor the status of the download in iTunes:

Check your library for the download when it's done. It should only take a few minutes. Add the music to your iPod when you're done!

14. You should receive an e-mail a few days later. (I received the following receipt on Wednesday after buying the album on Saturday.)

Additional Resources:
Apple's iTunes page

Gift card tutorial

Friday, January 22, 2010

Bonus Lesson: Andy Richter on Jeopardy

If reports are true, today will mark the last episode of The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien. I've been looking for an excuse to show Old People clips from Andy Richter's stint on Jeopardy!, where he wiped the floor with his competitors. (Richter is/was Conan's sidekick and announcer.)

Richter appeared on Celebrity Jeopardy! on September 17, 2009 with Dana Delaney and Wolf Blitzer. Richter won, contributing $68,000 to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Blitzer, by comparison, did so poorly, that he was given money to compete in the final round. Richter's was so great in Jeopardy history that he would rank behind superstar Ken Jennings if celebrities were allowed for ranking (as it is, only "civilians" are applicable for superstar rankings).

You can watch the episode on YouTube. It is split in to two videos. It's worth watching the whole thing to see the staggering lack of knowledge on Blitzer's behalf.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Long List of [Famous] Scientologists

My sister had a rule in her house that she wouldn't watch a movie if it starred a Scientologist. This was the summer Tom Cruise seemed to lose his mind, and effectively shut her out of War of the Worlds and Be Cool. I adopted her policy recently, knowing it could, at the very least, get me out of discussing movies of television I didn't like, and thus avoid friendship-ending conversations. I know it's not right to show prejudice against specific groups of people, but do Scientologists really count? There's certainly evidence that the organization is scary and dangerous.

Whether or not you embark on this boycott, it's hard to remember who's a Scientologist, because the organization is so deeply entrenched in Hollywood. Because I love making lists, and because I often forget (only to repeat a meeting with crushing disappointment) myself, here's a list of confirmed Scientologists.

Confirmed Members of Scientology (List Alphabetically By First Name):
  • Bijou Philips (model; Bully, Havoc)
  • Catherine Bell (JAG, Army Wives, Hallmark Barf Fest The Good Witch)
  • Chaka Khan
  • Christopher Masterson (Malcolm in the Middle)
  • Danny Masterson (That '70s Show)
  • Dough E. Fresh (hip-hop superstar)
  • Erika Christensen (Swimfan, Traffic)
  • Elisabeth Moss (Mad MenSOURCE)
  • Ethan Suplee (My Name is Earl, The Butterfly Effect, American History X)
  • Giovanni Ribsi (Avatar, Lost in Translation, Saving Private Ryan)
  • Jada Pinkett Smith (Menace II Society, The Nutty Professor)
  • Gottfried Helnwein (artist)
  • Greta Van Susteren (Fox News)
  • Jason Lee (Dogma, Clerks II, My Name is Earl)
  • Jenna Elfman (Dharma and Greg, Accidentally On Purpose)
  • Jim Meskimen (Whose Line Is It Anyway?, The Boondocks)
  • John Travolta
  • Jude Norton Taylor (The Waltons)
  • Juliette Lewis (Natural Born Killers, What's Eating Gilbert Grape, Whip It)
  • Isaac Hayes (Shaft, South Park; deceased)
  • Katie Holmes (Dawson's Creek, Pieces of April)
  • Kelly Preston
  • Kirstie Alley
  • Laura Prepon (That '70s Show)
  • Leah Remini (King of Queens)
  • Lisa Marie Presley (Elvis' daughter)
  • Lynsey Bartilson (Grounded For Life)
  • Nancy Cartwright (The Simpsonsdon't worry, Lisa is voiced by Yeardley Smith)
  • Marcus Coloma (Make It or Break ItSOURCE)
  • Michael Peña (Shooter, Observe and Report, Crash)
  • Peaches Geldof (celebutante/Bob Geldof's daughter)
  • Priscilla Presley (Ex-wife of Elvis)
  • Sky Daton (EarthLink founder)
  • Sofia Milos (CSI: Miami)
  • Sonny Bono
  • Tom Cruise
  • Will Smith
In the interest of transparency, I make an exception for Beck and Menace II Society. And Whip It. And The Simpsons. I loved Whip It. Please don't take them away from me. (I also make an exception for Modest Mouse in my Not Supporting Rapists boycott. I feel guilty about both.) Hey! I do a fairly consistent job in boycotting Nike.

Additional Resources:
Scientology at What's the Harm?
Scientologists: You Can Never Escape Them
, Gawker
List of Scientologists, Wikipedia

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Vocabulary Lesson: W00t!

W00! is an Internet-based slang word used to express joy and excitement. It is synonymous with "hooray" or "yippee!"

It may be expressed as woot, woot!, w00t, woo7, woo+, or with multiple os (woooooot). The word is most frequently used with zeros for os, and may date back to the 1990s. At some point the word was transformed to its current incarnation by way of the l33t language (pronounced "leet", rhymes with "meet"), an Internet-based form of speaking, where letters are sometimes replaced by numbers.

Additional Resources:
W00t, Wikipedia
W00t, Urban Dictionary
Leet, Wikipedia

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Culture Lesson: Pants On the Ground

The newest season of American Idol started last week, beginning its endless weeks of inane entertainment with auditions. The audition round usually produces its own stars, from William Hung to 62-year-old Larry Platt, the man featured above.

Platt's original song "Pants on the Ground" is one of this year's hits. Platt's song features a popular Old People theme: Pull Up Your Pants! I thought sharing this new meme would be a good idea. The lyrics are provided below:
Pants on the ground
Pants on the ground
Lookin' like a fool with your pants on the ground

With the gold in your mouth
Hat turned sideways
Pants hit the ground
Call yourself a cool cat
Looking like a fool
Walking downtown with your pants on the ground
Get it up
Hey, get your pants off the ground
Looking like a fool
Walkin', talkin', with your pants on the ground
Get it up

Hey, get your pants off the ground
Looking like a fool with your pants on the ground
Gold in your mouth
Hat turned sideways
Pants hit the ground
Call yourself a cool cat
Looking like a fool
Walkin', talkin', with your pants on the ground
Boom, Uno, Dos, Tres
Looking like a fool with your pants on the ground
With the gold in your mouth
Hat turned sideways
Pants hit the ground
Call yourself a cool cat

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Culture Lesson: Movies with 28 in the Title

Say, Old People, do you have a younger, nerdier relative you'd like to annoy? You're in luck! I know how to go about doing that, because people do this to me all the time. (Often it's Old People in youthful bodies, so take even less offense than usual, dear readers.)

And what is it that you can do to confuse your friends and family? Confuse 28 Days Later with 28 Days. In fact, to add insult to injury to this admittedly easy mistake, when someone discusses the 2002 horror movie say, with disgust, "Ew. Are you talking about the Sandra Bullock movie?" Gets them every time!

Here are details regarding these similarly tittled movies (and more!):

28 Days
2000 drama starring Sandra Bullock. Bullock stars as a drunk forced to choose between jailtime or 28 days in rehab. She takes rehab, where she briefly takes up with a sex addict (Viggo Mortensen!), faces her addition, and befriends an abhorrent representation of a gay stereotype, unfortunately played by the otherwise awesome Alyn Tudek (I'll watch just about anything if he's in it).

The title refers to the amount of time in rehab.

28 Days Later
2002 horror/thriller film directed by Danny Bolye (Old People may remember him as the director of Slumdog Millionaire and Trainspotting) about a zombie-like pandemic. It's scary, and fun, but good too. And it's gory, bloody, and full of people getting bashed in the head with blunt objects, which is significantly different than rehab. The title refers to a passage of time as the protagonist wakes from a coma 28 days after the outbreak to face a bleak world.

28 Weeks Later
2006 sequel, sans Boyle. Now it's 28 weeks after the outbreak, and the world is a scary, scary place. It's good too! But still not about rehab or quirky Sandra Bullock.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Technology Lesson: Removing a Facebook App

Earlier today we examined how to install a Facebook app. Now I'll show you how to remove, or uninstall, an unwanted application.

1. Log in to your Facebook.

2. Find the big blue bar at the top of the screen. Next to your name it will say SETTINGS.

When you hover your mouse over SETTINGS, a drop down menu will appear. CLICK APPLICATION SETTINGS.

3. Facebook will list your applications. This is also where you would adjust the settings to applications. The default setting is by the applications that have been used recently. Look for the application you want to remove. Click the "X" is the far right column.

4. Facebook will ask you to confirm the removal. Click REMOVE.

5. After a moment Facebook will confirm the removal. Click OK.

Hooray, you're done! Good job, Old Person.

Additional Resources:
Delete All Facebook Apps You're Not Using, Consumerist

Technology Lesson: Installing a Facebook App

Facebook includes more in its service than status updates and finding old friends. You can share your Flickr uploads, play games, and share your Tweets, too! Facebook (and most social networking sites) include applications (or "apps") that enhances its service. Today I'll show you how to add one.

1. Log in to Facebook.

2. I typed "Twitter" in the search bar at the top right of the screen. These were my results:

3. I clicked APPLICATIONS at the top right of the screen to narrow the results because I want an application that will update both Twitter and Facebook at the same time. These were my results:
3. I picked Social Tweet as the application to use. You may use any application you choose! Here is Social Tweet's Facebook page:

After I decided to use this application I clicked GO TO APPLICATION at the top of the screen on the left. This is the application page:
I entered my Twitter log in and password and clicked START TWEETING to launch the application.

4. The installation is done. This is what it looks like:

If I wanted to send a Tweet, I could type it under WHAT ARE YOU DOING? and click UPDATE.

In the end, I didn't like this application. In twelve hours, we'll examine how to remove an application.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Lesson In Your Social Networking Freedom and Privacy

My mom won't blog—even though my friend's mom does—because she doesn't want her personal business all over the Internet for every Tom, Dick, and Harry to read. (It's a shame she refuses to accept that some of my favorite blogs are not about personal lives.) She's provided similar reasons regarding her reluctance to join Facebook, which is disheartening if only because her generation has adopted and welcomed social networking with such great fervency. Now that my mother has joined Facebook, I thought short list of tips and reminders might be in order.
  • You don't have to share anything you don't want to. That includes your birthday, year of birth, last name, middle name, full name, marital status, hometown, or favorite color.
  • You can even provide an alias! This is great for blogging, or any Internet-based expression. Keep in mind that if you want to share your work in your social networking profile, to maintain the identity in each site.
  • If you're serious about your alias, be sure to use it consistently. I would recommend that if you blog anonymously, to have an e-mail for that site and identity, and to use ONLY that name in anything you associate with your blog. This includes e-mail, blog, comments, etc.
  • Read the terms of service (TOS) when you sign up for a service. Every time. You should do this every time. Some services force you to agree to relinquishing your rights to your property, which includes your photographs, blogs, and in some cases, identity. MySpace used to state that it could reactivate your profile for its use at any time, and Facebook's accounts are never permanently deleted. (Surprise!) If you see something you don't like, you don't have to sign up, but by agreeing to the terms of service, you are relinquishing your rights to contest or relinquish permission. Weigh the pros and cons, and keep the TOS in mind when you edit your profile and contribute to the site.
  • Don't add anyone you don't want to. That includes strangers, frenemies, and people you like. Do acknowledge that there are consequences, as people (specifically people you like, spouses, friends, children, and frenemies) tend to take rejection personally, and may demand a reason. In theory, Old People won't suffer the fall out of friend rejection.
  • Don't participate in anything you don't want to. This includes apps, games, events, and more. You're an adult, and you don't have to be forced into anything!
  • Have fun. Why bother if you refuse to enjoy the benefits? Keep in touch with your friends and family, reconnect with friends from the past, and enjoy the adventure and experience. (And don't be a downer! Or someone will de-friend you.)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A List of Famous Spikes

As I fueled the hype for the new Where the Wild Things Are last year, there was some confusion regarding the film's director, Spike Jonze, and director Spike Lee. D'oh! It turns out there are a lot of famous Spikes, so I thought I'd provide a Spike glossary for the confused.

Just Spike: Hoo, boy, there are a lot of fictional characters named Spike. There's the raperiffic Buffy the Vampire Slayer* character, Snoopy's brother, and some bros in Marvel comics. But wait, there's more! There's the heroine from Degrassi, Fonzie's cousin, and the character from the world's greatest soap opera, Passions.

Spike Gray: Born Jonathan Gray, a musician best known as the frontman of The Quireboys.

Spike Jones: A famous musician and bandleader.

Spike Jonze, right, with author Maurice Sendak and Sendak's German Shepherd Herman.
Lifted from We Love You So.

Spike Jonze: (pronouced "Jones") Born Adam Spiegel, a film director known and lauded as the director of Adaptation, Being John Malkovich, and Where the Wild Things Are. Also credited as co-creator of Jackass. Jonze got his start as a skateboard video director, which led to a career in music videos. He famously worked with the Beastie Boys ("Sabotage", "Sure Shot"), Weezer ("Buddy Holly", "Island in the Sun", "Undone (The Sweater Song)"), Sonic Youth, the Breeders, Dinosaur Jr., and Fat Boy Slim ("Weapon of Choice", "Rockafeller Skank").

Spike Lee: Born Shelton Jackson Lee, Lee is the director, writer, and producer of of the following films: School Daze, Do The Right Thing, Jungle Fever, Malcolm X, Crooklyn, He Got Game, Summer of Sam, Bamboozled, and She Hate Me. He recently directed and produced Miracle at St. Anna.

Spike Mendelsohn: Born Evangelos Mendelsohn, this Spike is best known as a Top Chef contestant during season four (Top Chef: Chicago). He currently owns Good Stuff Eatery in Washington, DC.

Additional Resources:
Spike, Wikipedia entry (list)
Top Chef Web site

*I started watching BTVS pretty late in its series run, and promptly joined Team Spike. In my defense, I was young and unfamiliar with any other men suffering from cocaine-related gauntness, and that was before he forced himself on Buffy. Angel was out of the series by then too, and having started from the beginning, I relinquish my sandwich boards for Team Spike, and join my sister on Team Angel.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Don't Forget to Back Up Your Work with Your Own Devices

In an article titled 10 Things Not to Buy in 2010, AnnaMaria Andriotis of SmartMoney advocates saving your money over purchasing a phone line in your home, DVDs, digital cameras, or newspapers.

External hard drives

Consumers who keep their computers for years and upload thousands of songs, videos, movies and photos will need to get more space at some point.

External hard drives are one option, but an up-and-coming alternative might be simpler and save you another transition down the road. Online backup services, like or, allow users to back up data over the Internet.

These services are more expensive than purchasing an external hard drive, which typically starts at around $70. At, a one-year subscription starts at $54.95, and at monthly subscription costs total $54.45 for a year.

Andriotis has lost her mind. A thrifty and savvy shopper can purchase an external hard drive for less than $70. I bought my mom her external hard drive this summer at Target for less than $50. However a hard drive at $100 is still less than a $50 yearly fee. A drive should last more than two years. I consider a drive a long-term investment. You want your drive to store and protect your beloved files: your music, your digital photographs and archived negatives, your e-mail, articles, blog posts, and more.

But more importantly, there's no guarantee that Carbonite or Mozy will be around tomorrow. You control the longevity of your files. If you store your files on a drive, and keep it in a fire proof safe, you can protect your files from harm. But can your protect the servers, database, and offices of Carbonite and Mozy? How will you guarantee that the companies will not go under? Or lose your files as JournalSpace did when it overwrote its servers?

Feel free to store your files in a cloud or off site database if you want to, but make sure you back up your own files, too. It would be shortsighted and gullible to trust anyone without doing so.

This is how I believe in backing up files: 1. Never throw away photographs and never ever ever ever throw away negatives. Store negatives in a temperate safe place. (I keep all of my negatives in a disaster-proof safe. It's also where I keep some of my cameras and my important documents. Best birthday gift ever!) 2. Regularly back up your hard drive on an external hard drive. Keep that hard drive in a safe place. Like your safe. 3. Keep a second copy of that external hard drive and store it somewhere else. My professor lost his entire career in a fire. I store everything important in at least two places, and when I work on a freelance project, I save the file in multiple places. A deadline will come and go regardless of a crashed hard drive, dead off site paid server, or natural disaster. Losing money and valuable documents is not a chance I'm willing to take. And you shouldn't either.

While I still have your attention: Andriotis argues that the already suffering newspaper industry should die a cold, cruel death at your hands. While it's true that you can read many newspapers on the Amazon Kindle, a Kindle subscription will not sustain a newspaper. In fact, newspapers lose money providing a Kindle version of their product. If you want news to survive the next decade, hold on to your subscription. Also keep in mind that not every paper is on the Kindle either. My local paper, for example, is not available. And though it has a Web site, it doesn't provide everything online. So I know that the people in my town are missing out on a lot of news by following the asinine advice in this moronic article.

Finally, Androitis is wrong when she writes, "When was the last time you bought a CD or even walked into a record store?" The music industry is failing, but it's failing because of its own archaic practices and the major labels' inability to handle its product or its consumers.

Let the record show the following facts: I have purchased a grand total of three albums and zero individual songs from iTunes. threeOne album was for an upcoming lesson on this blog and I'll probably buy a vinyl version when I can afford it. In the last two months I have purchased seven records and one CD. For Christmas I received one record and one CD. And when I looked for a CD my grandfather wanted, the Target I went to was sold out (so was Wal-Mart, according to the Target clerk, who looked on his Blackberry, and two nearby Targets). The music section had been ransacked and was mostly empty. It was Christmas and people bought CDs.

Thank you for your time, Old People. Again: off site storage is OK, but make sure to have a second (and third) back up. Invest in external hardware!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Get $75,000 teaching Old Rich People to use Facebook

Happy New Year!

I meant to post this earlier but forgot. The Tuesday/Thursday posting schedule will continue through January (and maybe forever, it seems to be working well). See you Tuesday!

There may a lucrative career for me yet, if I'm lucky and well connected. Look at this lead from Jezebel:
Meet Adam Connor. He's created a career teaching Congresspeople to use Facebook. While the Washington Post says Connor brings home a cool $75,000 a year, the interviews make it clear he is working for every penny.
Life is so unfair. I teach Old People for free, and this guy gets more than twice my previous salary to teach Facebook (only one facet covered on this blog!) to Old People on Capitol Hill. Boo.