Monday, August 27, 2007

Martial Arts Mondays: Part 1

I'm creating a new feature on my blog which may or may not be repeated. I saw something on YouTube that was so amazing that I would be remiss (whatever that means) if I didn't share it with you imaginary people on the internets. So I'm creating this feature just to share it with you.

Here is a video clip of the MMA Girls demonstrating one of my favorite moves (the side choke) from a full guard position.* They call it a head and arm choke, but I don't care what you call it. When two hot 22 year old, south african blondes with nice surgically unaltered breasts do it, I call it "awesome."

Anyway, I guess that Martial Arts Mondays should have some other stuff, so I will give out a free plug. For those of you who are into MMA, JuJitsu, or other types of grappling, the 2007 SAMBO Summit Training Camp is on Sept. 14 -16th in Staten Island NY. It's 3 days with 3 incredible SAMBO teachers for the bargain price of $400.

One of the guys teaching it is David Machin, who used to be my Sifu when I lived in NYC. He's the real deal. His Makiwara regimen is insane and his hands are like bricks.
This is a makiwara. The traditional way to use it is without the vinyl padding.

Anywho, for those of you who are unfamiliar with SAMBO,** it's the fighting system that the Soviets used to train their military and special forces. It's like Judo, except that instead of controlling your opponent without harming them, you control them by breaking their bones and choking them to death. It's very popular in UFC fights, and was the style used by UFC champion Oleg Taktarov.

If you have trouble imagining what I'm talking about, you can watch this video. Once again, to sum up, The 2007 SAMBO Summit Training Camp should not be missed. It will kick your training up to an 11.

*I usually don't discuss fighting on here, because it sounds like bragging, but I have used the side choke (from a standing position) in real fights and once choked somebody unconscious with it. But I've never seen it look as sexy as when these chicks do it.

**SAMBO is the abbreviation for the russian words whose translation are "Self defense without weapons."

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Great Moments In Stupidity: Mac Attack

Friday morning I did one of the dumbest things I have done in a long time. I spilled some soda on my laptop. For those of you who don't know me:
  1. Yes, sometimes I drink Coca Cola Classic in the morning--don't judge me, you're not the boss of me!
  2. I am not the most careful person with electronics that you will ever meet. If machines ever become sentient, like in The Terminator, Terminator 2 Judgement Day, or Terminator 3 Rise of the Lame Sequels, when the machines take over they will put me on trial for war crimes. They will bring out the corpses of numerous computers, DVD players, VCRs, TVs and Stereos as evidence of my crimes against machines;
  3. I was not looking at p0rn at the time it happened (this becomes important later in the story)
The screen turned blank--I panicked. I unplugged the computer, turned the laptop upside down to and ran to bathroom to grab the toilet paper roll off the wall holder and use it to dry off the keyboard.

When I got to the office, I looked on the internets for what to do when you spill something on a computer, and I found this amazing video. Wow. Unfortunately, according to the video, if you want your laptop to survive spilling liquids in it, you need to turn it off AND take the battery out. I had no way of knowing this since I couldn't check my internets from home. I figured my beloved Apple was dead, so I called the Apple place to find out what my options were. I figured since it was still under warranty, that I would be okay.

Ninja: Well, I accidentally, spilled a leeeeeetle tiny liquid on my MacBook, that's not bad is it?

Tech: Was it coffee? You might be in luck if it was coffee.

Ninja: was Coke Classic. A wholesome, healthy drink that's made without exploiting third world coffee farmers.

Tech: Coke? That's bad. It's all syrupy and stuff. If you didn't take the battery out, you're motherboard is probably fried. That costs about $750 t0 fix.

Christ on a stick! $750 dollars? You know how much beer and p0rn I can buy for that?!? I can buy a new Macbook for $1000. And I'd rather eat an olive than pay $750 just to get my computer back to the way that it should be working. Even if they fixed it, I just paid $750 to get a used computer if you think about it. There had to be a better way.

Ninja: $750! Wow. Luckilly I'm still under warranty. Hehehee

Tech: No, that's not covered. It's considered physical abuse, which your warranty won't pay for.

Ninja: Physical abuse!!! Are you effing kidding me? That's not physical abuse! I didn't beat it with a wire hanger because it brought home a bad report card, I just spilled a little soda on it. And I didn't even do it on purpose!
Anyway, after going back and forth for a while, I decided I would bring it in to get it looked at. I was worried because I had loaded TurboTax and Quicken on my hardrive and that has a lot of personal information like my social security number, bank account numbers etc. So I wanted to make sure that they wouldn't be snooping around my programs and stealing my money.

Tech: No, we won't look in your harddrive, we're just interested in your logic board, not your p0rnography.

Ninja: P0rnography? I wasn't looking at p0rn man! I'm a Catholic, dude, and we don't look at stuff like that (as far as you know) because the Pope tells us not to because it makes the baby Jebus cry. I'm just worried about my personal info on TurboTax. There's no p0rn on my Macbook. None, do you here me! And even if there is, I swear I have no idea how it got there. Or maybe it was on there when I bought the computer. You can't prove it wasn't, man!!

Well, after letting my compy dry for a day and a half I put the battery back in and so far so good. The Mac Chord sounded a little funny, but other than that no other bad symptoms. I'm actually typing on it now.

Thank the baby Jebus that my MacBook is okay. I don't think I could live without my laptop. I mean, how long can a human being go without being able to use his TurboTax?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Does Big Gay Al have a Little Gay Dog?

The other day I heard the screech of tires and a crash outside the ninja fortress. It was a car crash, and I automatically assumed that the drivers were women. I didn't assume that both drivers were women because women are bad drivers (even though it's true), but rather because both cars were "chick cars". One was a mini-cooper and the other was a Volkswagen Cabriolet. But I was wrong., wrong. NOT A TYPO!

There was actually a dude driving the Volkswagen. The guy was limping when he got out of the car, so I'm assuming he sprained his vagina in the accident, because no man with actual male genitalia would be caught dead driving a cabriolet unless he was driving his girlfriend to the gynecologist. There is a reason that I bring this up though. It turns out that women are not really as bad at navigating as was previously thought. I know that some of you are reading this and thinking "HomeImprovementNinja has said some foolish things in his life, but surely he's kidding about this". But I'm not. I didn't bother to read to the whole article, but the gist of it was that scientists something something blah blah blah, and women might be able to navigate as well as a man, even though if they were doing it for a living, they would only make 81% as much as a man who does it. So if I was wrong about women's navigation skillz, then maybe I was wrong about whether men can drive a Cabriolet and still be real men. And maybe a friend of mine was wrong about a man being able to own a small dog and not appear gay. Hmmmm. Maybe a poll is in order?

I was thinking very seriously about adopting a dog. I had thought seriously about a small dog because the ninja fortress doesn't have a yard, so it would be easier with a small dog that didn't need a lot of exercise because if I get one of those big dogs that needs to jog, then I'll just tie it to the bumper of my car when I run my errands and will probably get in trouble with the dog nazis.

I found a dog I liked on a dog rescue site. I figured that if I spared the dog from certain death, that it would pledge it's undying dog loyalty to me and serve me until one day (maybe in the heat of a great battle against a much larger and well equipped army) it saved my life and repaid the debt of honor. Then it would look at me knowingly and bow imperceptibly, then walk off into the sunset with it's sqweeky octopus toy in it's mouth. I mean, I know it's a little unrealistic because before a small dog like a Jack Russell Terrier could hold it's own in a combat situation I would have to give it extensive martial arts training. And how good can a little dog get since I can't even teach it some Northern Eagle Claw kung fu because it has no fingers. Anyway, while I debated whether or not to get the dog, someone (who's probably completely straight) adopted it. So I've been thinking about another dog and asking people their opinions. Since the answer to everything can be found on the internets, I will open it up for discussion, and probably disregard the results if I don't agree with it. Soooooo...imaginary people, what say you about small dogs?

Small Dogs, Gay or Hetero?
Are Small Dogs Gay?

Yes, small dogs are gay, and you are gay for even wanting one.
No, small dogs are not gay, you're friend is crazy
Only certain small dogs are gay, but other small dogs aren't
Only cats are gay, dogs of any size are hetero
Gay looking depends on the guy walking the dog, not the dog
You know what's gay? Internet polls, that's what's gay. That and gay porn.
I don't understand how electronic polls work. How do I vote for Al Gore?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Tap Out

After having spent a few days with visiting relatives, I am mentally, emotionally, and spiritually depleted. I will probably post more about the wackadoos in my family in a few days, but for now, I only want a nap. I feel like I just fought in some type of Ultimate Fighting Championship cage match, except that the pain doesn't stop when you tap out. It continues and escalates until it's time for their flight to leave.

When I visit family in Florida, I am probably less stressed out because I can imagine a happy place (like the ninja fortress) and retreat in my mind to my own fortress of solitude until Christmas Dinner is over and I'm on a plane home. When they are here, though, in my happy place, there is really no place to hide. I can't envision the ninja fortress and go into a deep meditation because even in my mind they are there trying to drive me crazy with banal, idiotic questions like "does your coffee maker work?" or "where can we take the kids today?".

I try to look at life as a series of learning experiences, and after coming close to being banned from a couple of DC eateries, I have learned that if you have you children, the first thing you should teach them when they are out of diapers is the difference between their inside voice and their outside voice. It should be the very first thing.

Before this past weekend I always assumed that I would want to have kids eventually, but now I will probably make declarative statements like "if I have kids, then..." instead of "when I have kids".

I've also come to the conclusion that Michael Jackson is a degenerate. After this weekend I can't understand why anyone would want to be around children unless they were legally required to do so. I used to hear stories about those women who say their husband went out for a pack of cigarettes and never came back. And now I know why. It wasn't because of the wife, he was trying to escape the kids and their horrible, shrill screaming.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Adventures in Law Part 3: A Footnote for Eternity

I’ve already mentioned that I don’t think much of most academics. While most of them suck, some of them are really cool and interesting though. Professor X was one of them. He was a visiting professor at my law school (which I won’t name because then you might figure out who I am and I would have to kill you) and I got a job as his research assistant for $8 an hour (which is minimum wage today, but was considered beer money 7 years ago). I took the job to add another line to my resume and because I figured that working for a nationally known expert in a high-paying field of law might come in handy because he probably knows a few people in big firms that would be willing to pay me more than I was worth for doing less than work than I should.

The money wasn’t great, but it was a cool gig. I got to pick my own hours and I could work between 10-20 hours a week depending on how few hangovers I had that week. I also had 24 hour access to the law library and the right to take out any book I wanted (even rare books and reference materials that other students weren’t allowed to touch). I took full advantage of that when I was writing my graduate thesis. I even had them recall a book that a student had checked out because I needed it for my paper. I guess I could’ve waited ‘till the student brought it back on his own, but what good is power if you can’t abuse it and be an asshole?

Most people know that I’m a big economics geek. What I found the most interesting about Professor X, was that he had attended the University of Chicago (the Jedi Temple of Economics) and had taken classes with Nobel Laureates like Coase, Becker, Stigler and notables such as the legendary Judge Posner. And I would ask him questions about what they were like. (it turns out that even among economists, most academics are assholes, but a few are really cool and down to earth. I won't say which of the people above fall into which categories, because I don't want to get sued for calling a Nobel prize winner an asshole).

The good parts about the job were that I could work whenever I wanted for as long as I wanted. If I had insomnia and wanted to work for two hours on a Wednesday, that was fine. If I wanted to skip a week, then work 30 hours the next week, that was fine too. I also got to learn about the obscure areas of the law that he was writing about. For instance, there are probably less than 20 lawyers in the entire world who know more about Islamic finance than me (since I don't even practice in that area of the law, that makes it even more impressive).

The bad part was the money. I don’t think you can live on a research assistant’s salary unless you live in a free dorm on campus and eat in the school cafeteria and date the freshman chicks (which are probably the only kind of chicks (except the drunk ones) who would find a 28 year old research assistant hot). I don't want to end up an overeducated, underemployed guy living in his parents basement--that would reaaaallly be pathetic.

I think working as a research assistant honed my legal research skillz, which is something that has helped me other jobs. Professor X also cited me in a footnote to an article that he had published in the Harvard Law Review. That's right, bitchez, HARVARD!!! And you know that whenever someone reads a prestigious legal journal like the Harvard Law Review, the first place they look is in the footnotes. And having your name in print is exactly the kind of exposure that creates positive experiences in life. When I meet people in the legal profession, sometimes I resent how they pretend that they've never seen the footnote. Jealousy is a terrible, terrible thing. Don't hate the playa, bitchez, hate the game. (I'm not really sure what that means, but I think my 'street cred' just went up almost as much as if I'd "busted a cap" in a snitch.)

Anyway, it wasn't the perfect job, but it helped me get closer to figuring out what kind of job I did want. I would have one more job in law school (on Capitol Hill), before ending up at the law firm that would shape (warp?) my mind for the rest of my legal career. time: Mr. Ninja goes to Washington.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

It's gettin' hot in here...

I have been thinking about what it would’ve been like if I lived in DC before there was air conditioning. It sucks that I don’t have central air conditioning (yet) but at least I have window A/Cs.* It’s bad enough walking from the metro to my (badly) air conditioned ninja fortress, but if I lived before there was such a thing as A/C, I don’t know how I would’ve handled it. It's a hundred degrees and really humid. If I had been a lawyer a couple of hundred years ago, things probably would’ve reaalllly sucked, when you think about what people dressed like back then.

Tis' it hot in here, or tis' it just me?

It's no secret that DC was built on a swamp. Even if you didn't know that, if you spent some time here in the summer you would figure it out pretty quickly. If I worked at some office with stuffy lawyers a few hundred years ago, my whiny ass wouldn't be very happy.

Ninja: Tis' soooo freakin' hot today. I wish I t'weren't required to wear these colonial outfits with the powdered wig. I am sweating like a frenchman. There tis a trail of sweat down my chest and it's formed a pool of water 'neath me bollocks!

Barrister: Yes, bollocks sweat is quite unpleasant, I daresay.

Ninja: I wish someone would invent a device that used air to cool oneself off.

Barrister: There is such a device. Tis called a hand fan, but the only men who use such a thing are those kind of men.

Ninja: What kind?

Barrister: I forget what they call are called, but you know, those men who are overly effeminate and are sexually attracted to other men.

Ninja: You mean the British?


The sad part of living back then is that making that little joke would brand me a as a traitor because freedom of speech hadn't been invented yet. Therefore, after making that joke, the Barrister and I would have to quit our jobs and join George Washington in order to fight for the right of free speech so that a few hundred years in the future, the rights that I fought for would be illegally usurped by corrupt politicians. Anyway, it's lucky that I wasn't fighting in the revolutionary war because I don't like people shooting at me, so I doubt that history would've remembered me for my valor under fire.

George Washington: The British are coming!

Ninja: RUN!

George Washington: NO! Hold your ground. Wait 'till you see the whites of their eyes!

Ninja: Then can I run?

George Washington: NO! No running!

Ninja: What about surrender? They look like they would take prisoners alive. I think I still have the white flag from last time.
Yes, if I had been there, things would be really different. The history books would be talking about the short-lived American rebellion, and if the English had won the war, then we'd all be speaking English instead of, well....nevermind.

*In my defense, the ninja fortress is a military installation and it's meant to repel invaders and provide a forward base for elite reconnaissance units, not to be some cozy bed and breakfast with frilly niceties like central air conditioning and TiVo.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Adventures in Law Part 2: A Job Offer from the Grave?

Most law professors, like regular professors (and cops) are pompous jackasses. I don't know what that thing is called, which academics have, that makes them jackasses, but whatever it is, Joe Griffin had the antidote. If anyone had a right to be pompous, it was Joe Griffin who, literally, wrote the book on international antitrust law. But luckily, Joe was as down to earth as he was smart. His brilliance in law was only matched by his hatred for Bill Clinton. If anyone brought up Clinton he would reflexively interrupt ("I reaaaaalllly hate that guy...sorry, what where you saying?"). I had the good fortune to take a class in White Collar Crime from him. It came in handy since 4 people on this list would end up as my clients when I worked at a law firm. They are all in federal prison, which you should keep in mind if you decide to ask me for free legal advice (or pay me for it, like they did). My friend Matt also represented them, but I'm sure his brilliance was counterbalanced by my mediocrity--and the fact that they were guilty of some pretty blatant crimes.

Because Joe was a big shot at one of the biggest law firms in the world*, I tried to make a good impression, which was difficult since many of the Keg on the Quad events at the law school occurred right before his class. I figured it was bad form to try to hit him up for a job before the semester was up, but I thought I would pay him a visit when the class was over. Now, keep in mind that just because I called the guy and asked him for help, didn't mean that he had to help me. In fact, my friend Batman was offered a job with the SEC before graduation and he called one of his professors, who was also a bigshot at another big firm and said "Professor X, I realize you're busy, but I was offered a job at the SEC in the division where you used to work and if you could call me back, I'd like to talk to you for about 5 minutes to get your opinion." That was in 2000. Batman is still waiting for that phone call.**

Now, I should mention that back then, the biggest partners at the biggest firms were said to belong to "The 700 Club", which meant that their billable rate was over $700 per hour. We met in his office at The Firm. If I had any doubts that Joe Griffin was a kind of a big deal, it was quickly dismissed. He had many leather-bound books and his huge corner office smelled of rich mahogany. Joe Griffin, called me right back, and told me to come to his office and he would meet with me. He gave me the best advice on finding a job in law that I've ever received. His insight was particularly useful since he used to be on the hiring committee. He also gave me really great advice on life, in general, and told me once more about how much he hated Bill Clinton. *** He spent nearly 3 hours with me (which was over $2000 worth of his time). Then as I was leaving he said:

Joe: Look, we have a [type of law I wanted to practice] practice group here, but they have a very high turnover, so I don't know if you'd like it there. I'm not on the hiring committee anymore, but I know some people who are. Since you're a bright kid, and not socially retarded, why don't you send me your resume and I'll forward it to a few people. I can't promise anything, but I'll see what I can do.

Wow. This was like having Don Corleone say he's going to try to get you into the mafia. I knew that I was getting closer to becoming one of those people who's so rich that he wipes his ass with $100 bills and buy's a new car and trophy wife every 3 years. Svetlana, here I come!

Well after about a month I did not hearing back from Joe, and I was puzzled, then I ran into someone from class and we were talking and he said

Student: "it's too bad about what happened to Professor Griffin."

Ninja: Huh?

Student: Didn't you hear? He died last month...He was on a business trip in L.A., had a stroke in his room and died. He was alone when it happened, so they didn't find him until the next day. When he didn't show up for a business meeting they called the hotel and the maids found his body.

In the end, this guy, who was so full of life and surrounded himself with friends, had died alone. This guy who went out of his way to help me, had died with no one to help him.

I felt really bad about it and, since I'm not an asshole, I called his law firm and left a message with his secretary to call me and let me know where I can send condolences to his family.
Since the secretary was too lazy to return my call, I found a partner in the firm that I knew he knew and called him, asking where to send condolences to the family. I was surprised that he recognized my name. He said that he had gone through Joe's schedule to re-assign his workload and that he saw Joe had made a notation to call me, but didn't write down what it was concerning.

Partner: Do you know why he was calling you?

The Moment of Truth..what would I say? I thought about what I should say. I'm not one to disregard omens, and I thought that this was a not-so-subtle sign that I was not meant to work there. I said "well, I asked him for some career help, but I'm sure that he was calling back to say he couldn't do anything for me. I just wanted to send condolences, that's all."

If I was an asshole, I would've said "Well, he was calling me back because he wanted to offer me a job. You see, it was Professor Griffin's dying wish that you hire me at your law firm. He even said that I wasn't socially retarded...let's be honest, you need a guy a like that at your firm, I've seen your softball team." When you have a bunch of student loans and no job, and the prospect of a job that pays $125 thousand dollars a year (plus bonus)**** to start is really tempting. But I really liked Professor Griffin and I don't think I could live with myself if I exploited his tragedy to get it. Plus, once you start acting like an asshole, it's hard to go back being a non-asshole. It's like how Darth Vader started down the dark side and then never managed to turn back. Eventually, I would end up being a bigger and bigger asshole, then the next thing you know I'd be driving to my house in Bethesda in a BMW with a Bush/Cheney bumper sticker on my car. Wow. That's scary just to imagine it.

I don't know when I'll get around to the next episode of Adventures in Law, but there are a few more, and some of them are pretty good. We'll do my Capitol Hill internship, then my job working for a law professor, and finally my job at a law firm (we won't talk about my current job, for obvious reasons). There will be crooked politicians, eccentric professors and a partner who berated me for using commas correctly (yes, this really happened). You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll find out why you should always be nice to the secretaries. One day, one of them might keep you from getting fired (wow, that's some really subtle foreshadowing, right?).

*I won't mention the name of the firm since I don't want it coming up in Google searches.
**Batman took the job at the SEC and said he was waiting for the day that Professor X calls and needs something so that he can ignore her phone calls.
***I'm not kidding, he said "that Slick Willy is so fucking smug..." He said fucking! Who is a cooler professor than him?
****That firm now pays $140k plus bonus to start. For 7th year associates, which I would've been by this time, it would be over $200k per year.

Friday, August 03, 2007

C'mon Gentrification

Well, DC's first Target store continues to tease me like a stripper between the first and second song of her set. The outside looks like it's done, so I don't know when it will be finished, but I am avoiding trips to the Virginia Target on principle (and also because I'm lazy and Alexandria, VA might as well be Cincinatti Ohio, as far as I'm concerned. Do they even have indoor plumbing in Alexandria? I don't know, but I'm not eager to find out since Target is coming to me soon, so why bother).

There is also a Washington Sports Club being built there. I'm currently a member of Gold's Gym, but when the WSC is built, I'll probably join so that I can have a gym that's closer to home which I won't go to.

I can't help but notice how bland and gentrified they plan on making my neighborhood...I love it. I hope it ends up looking like Bethesda because my fortress would be worth a meelyun bucks in Bethesda. Then I would sell it and move to Fiji, buy an island, and have the natives carve my face into the active volcano. They would worship me as a god because my cigarette lighter would convince them that I am the reincarnation of the Volcano God. It's gonna be friggin' sweet!

In other news, I was on the train today reading THIS book, when I got to the part about Bernoulli's St. Petersburg Paradox, which has baffled mathematicians for over 200 years. I got on the metro at Columbia Heights and by the time I got off at Dupont Circle, 20 minutes later, I had solved the problem (in my head). I called a friend of mine who is a Quant and told him I had solved it and he said "really?!?" in a tone of disbelief that is usually reserved for when someone gives you their permission to nail their hot sister. I explained the solution and he said I was wrong and proceeded to explain why using math geek-speak. I learned a valuable lesson today. Just because someone has a Ph.D. in math, doesn't mean they know what the hell they are talking about.


  1. When I eventually go into business for myself, I'm going to have this article framed and hanging in the employee cafeteria. Some guy got upset that two of his workers were demanding a raise, so he killed them. Yep, he killed them raise, dammit!!! All I can say is that is one tough negotiator.
  2. Today is Bush's lucky day. With all the sheep reporting on a bridge collapsing in the middle of nowhere, no one is paying attention to his incompetent handling of the war, his Attorney General's perjury, or his top aide's refusal to obey a legal subpoena. I bet he popped open a big bottle of champaign when he heard about all those dead folks.
  3. In other news, it turns out that Mikhail Gorbachev is a cross dresser. Would you buy a purse from him? If not, it's probably because you're a bigot. Why do you assume that old, fat, bald russian men have no fashion sense? I know why...cuz you're a bigot!
  4. In still other news, someone in a country that speaks a language I don't understand, linked to and translated one of my posts. I am now, officially, a published author who's works have been translated into other languages. Some place in europe there are people right now talking about Die Hauptverbesserung Ninja. I wish I could hear what they are saying, but it wouldn't make a difference since I wouldn't understand a word they are saying. Does anyone know what language that is?
Sorry for the disjointed post folks, but you get what you pay for. For next week, absent objections, I'm gonna post some more Adventures in Law. In the next episode: A job offer from a dead guy (no, really!).