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purple questions

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what's up with that?

ok, that's not really a question. or at least not without any context. i just couldn't decide what real question deserved to go first in this FAQ. so i figured none of them. maybe i'll remove this non-question once i have a few non-non-questions. or maybe i won't.

no, seriously. what's up with that?

huh? what are you talking about? who's writing these questions anyway?

ok, fine, i'll ask a real question now. but really, i mean, what is the deal with it?

ack! get ye gone, thou frothy toad-spotted foot-licker!

pardon me. now on to some actual, non-non-questions. or something.

so what's up with all the purple? is purple your favorite color?

alright, so the thing is, i wear a lot of purple. these days, my hair is purple. most of the time i wear either a purple t-shirt or a purple outer shirt, or one of each. i often wear one or more (well, rarely more than two...) purple shoes. generally you'll see me wearing one of my various purple hats (though i have also been spotted wearing non-purple hats). plus my car is purple, my juggling clubs are purple, and of course, as you can (probably) see, my website is purple.

so it would seem that there is overwhelming evidence that yes, purple is in fact my favorite color.

ok, but why do you like purple so much?

you know, that's a good question. well, maybe it's not that good a question. but in any case, i honestly don't really know.

well, have you always been such a big fan of purple?

ah, i'm glad you asked that. no, in fact i haven't.

it started when i was about 15 or 16. i guess i already liked purple some at that point, because i had a couple purple shirts, but i wasn't really specifically into purple. but then in 11th grade, i started going to speech and debate tournaments, math competitions, and science olympiad. and somehow, i came to decide that purple was my lucky color, so i started deliberately wearing purple to these competitions.

then i started buying more purple shirts, and other purple things, and pretty soon, i was known for it. so then i had a reputation to uphold, and felt obligated to wear purple every day. occasionally, i would rebel against the powers that be by not wearing any purple one day. and when questioned about it (and i was questioned about it), i would say "i'm going incognito today." i guess over time, i've come to accept my role in society as a purple-provider, and i don't feel a need to go incognito so much anymore.

is that your real hair, or is it part of the hat?

you'd be surprised how often people actually ask me this. well, i dunno, maybe you wouldn't be surprised. i was surprised the first few times... i suppose it's less surprising that they're especially likely to ask this when my hair and my hat match in color really well.

anyway, yes, it is my real hair.

how often do you dye it? do you have to bleach it first? what kind of dye do you use?

i generally dye it about once every three or four weeks. i bleach it about once every six months. i should really bleach it a little more often than that, because by six months i have really long dark brown roots. i've been having the bleaching of my roots professionally done, at sanctuary salon, but between bleachings, i dye it by myself.

i've tried a lot of different brands of dye, and the two that i like best are "special effects" (deep purple) and "punky colors" (ultra violet). most of the other brands i've tried (manic panic, fudge, n-rage, ...) fade much too quickly. pretty much all of the dyes seem to have the property that the blue component of the dye fades faster than the red, which has the effect that they fade towards pink. special effects and punky colors start off really dark, so as they fade, they go through the ideal purple, and then onto a lighter shade and towards pink. "the ideal purple" being the color i'd want if i could actually grow naturally purple hair... mmm, someday, someday!

the other brands i've tried tend to start off either close to the ideal purple or else already too light. so those only last about two weeks before i have to re-dye. the ones that start off darker than the ideal are of course the ones that really last. those two brands (and others) are available by mail-order from funkyshop.com. i've ordered from them several times, and while they don't seem to be real good about shipping my orders right away (it generally takes them a week or two before they ship anything), they do seem to get to it eventually. i just recently ordered from bwild.com, which has less selection, but did ship my order pretty quickly. and really, i don't need a wide selection, i just need them to have the kind i want, which they did.

did your shoes come like that (one purple and one green)?

this always strikes me as a really silly question. ah well, what can you do.

(these are converse all-star high-tops we're discussing here, by the way.)

so the deal with my shoes is this. no, as far as i know, converse has never sold as a pair a purple shoe and a green shoe. i bought two pairs, a green pair and a purple pair.

see, one of the great features of shoes -- a feature which has probably been included with nearly every single pair of shoes ever sold, including the ones you already own -- is that the two shoes are not connected to each other. yes, that's right! you can wear a shoe on your left foot which you did not purchase as a matched set with the shoe you wear on your right foot! yes, even you have that power, i'm pretty sure. you'll probably want to be careful that the shoe you put on your left foot was in fact manufactured with the intention of being worn on someone's left foot, and similarly for the shoe you put on your right foot. but it turns out that that's actually pretty easy to do (you don't even need to contact the manufacturer), and in any case, is something you'll want to watch out for even when wearing two shoes that came together as a matched set, so you might even already know how to do it.

(i guess i just answered my own question, the one about "what can you do"... turns out that what you can do is to be really sarcastic.)

anyway, so yes, i wear a green shoe from one pair with a purple shoe from another pair. now, what you may not realize is that although anyone can do that, there are some important issues to watch out for. specifically, if you ever want to wear matching shoes, it's important to ensure that the matching shoes get worn equally often, so that they wear out at the same rate. in other words, since i sometimes wear (for example) purple on the left foot with green on the right, and i also sometimes wear purple on the left foot with purple on the right, it's important that i wear all four shoes (the two greens and the two purples) equally often, in order to be sure that they age evenly.

now, my method for ensuring that works as follows. suppose one day i wear green-and-purple. then the next day i must wear purple-and-green. then the following day i get to decide again. if i decide to wear purple-and-purple, then the next day i must wear green-and-green.

now, of course, the amount of wear to a shoe is not actually the same every single day, but i figure over time, it averages out. on rare occasions when one day my two shoes get an extraordinary amount of wear, i might wear the other shoes two days in a row, to compensate. so in theory, we can assume that this system is sufficient to ensure that the shoes wear evenly.

but in practice, it's a little more complicated. see, as much as possible, i prefer to avoid wearing any given shoe two days in a row. this is partly because i sometimes get athlete's foot from that, and also partly just an aesthetic choice.

but if i never wear a given shoe two days in a row, i could never go from wearing non-matching shoes one day to matching shoes the next, since i'd have to wear one of the same shoes. fortunately, i have a solution to that problem (phew!). see, i also have a pair of black shoes (also converse high-tops -- the "black monochrome" ones, which even have black rubber and laces and everything). so this means that i can wear green-and-purple, then purple-and-green, then black, then purple-and-purple, then green-and-green, and then black again, and then back to purple-and-green, followed by green-and-purple, and so on.

so that's pretty much my system. i highly recommend it.

how many purple hats do you own? how many non-purple hats?

i haven't counted lately, but i think it's around 25-30 purple, and 25-30 non-purple. give or take. but there are only a few that i wear regularly, plus a few more that i wear only occasionally. most of my hat collection i almost never wear.

did your car come like that? or did you have it painted?

i had it painted. pretty cheap too -- only $300 or so, at maaco. or is it aamco... i can never keep those two straight. one paints cars, the other fixes cars. it's kind of weird that they have such similar names, when they're both such strange names. maybe they're both acronyms. that would explain a lot. but i digress.

anyway, my car was originally light blue (it's an '89 toyota camry stationwagon, by the way). i was in an accident a while back, and i only had liability insurance for it, meaning that if i get in an accident, the other car is covered, but mine is not. so i had to pay for repairs. and a huge part of the cost of the repairs was going to be to have the new hood painted to match the rest of the car. so i didn't have that done. so i was driving around for over a year with a bi-color car (light blue with a black hood). then after about a year, i went to get an estimate on what it would cost to have the whole car painted purple. and then i asked my parents to give me that for hanukkah which was coming up at that time...

oh, and when i went to get the estimate, the guy showed me the binder of little paint swatches to choose from. i looked through them, and couldn't quite find anything i liked. there was purplish blue, and purplish red, but nothing really the purple i was looking for. i said to the guy, "all these colors, you'd look at and say, 'is that a blue car or a purple car?' i want it to be really clearly a purple car!" he said, "oh, well, in that case," and he took out a different binder of paint swatches, and looked through it for a particular one, "in that case, how about this one?" and it was exactly the color i was looking for. he said it was from some model of chevy truck. i guess they made a purple truck for about one model-year, and then discontinued it... not surprising really, that a purple truck wouldn't sell so well.

but anyway, i've been really happy with it. i wasn't sure if for so cheap i'd be getting a really bad paint job, but it seems to be okay so far. it hasn't peeled or anything yet. the warranty was good for two years. i finally had it done in april of 1999 (which was the first time i went out of town after my parents said they'd pay for it as a hanukkah present the previous december). so it's past the warranty period, and it still seems to be holding up just fine.

when i'm passing clubs with you, your purple clubs always blend in with your purple shirt, so i can't see them!

hopefully this shouldn't be a problem anymore, now that i have my newer clubs. they're purple-and-white, so the white contrasts well against my purple clothing (and really against most things, for that matter).

what do you eat?

ok, so the thing is, i'm kind of a picky eater. ok, more than kind of. i'm a really picky eater. there are a lot of foods i won't eat. or, looked at another way, there are relatively few foods i will eat. so, for your convenience, here are some of the foods that i eat fairly often. bear in mind that this is not a complete list!

a lot of the time for dinner i have some variation on the theme of "chicken with sauce on rice". i can get that at indian, chinese, japanese, thai, and various other kinds of restaurants... (for example, i'm frequently seen eating chicken tikka masala, lemon chicken, teriyaki chicken, or chicken satay.)

another food i like a lot is pasta. i'd be perfectly happy to eat pasta every day. actually, in college that's exactly what i did -- i ate a big plate of pasta for dinner just about every day. my senior year i finally started putting tomato sauce on it. before that i just ate it plain or with some salt or maybe parmesan cheese.

i'm also a big fan of bread. especially when it's warm. mmm, bread. i don't really eat butter much, but i do like to dip french bread in olive oil with some salt.

these days i generally only eat about one bowl of cereal a day, but in college, there were periods when i was eating about seven bowls a day -- four for lunch, three for dinner with my plate of pasta (of course i rarely got up in time for breakfast). and then i'd probably generally have some sort of snack later, which might have been a personal-size pizza, for example.

oh, pizza. that's another of my staples. i eat a pretty good amount of pizza. for the most part i only eat pepperoni pizza, though if i'm really hungry i can deal with just cheese pizza. oh, but note that pepperoni on pizza is pretty much the only exception to my "no red meat" rule. well, ok, it's not really a rule, i just mostly don't eat red meat, with the one exception of pepperoni on pizza.

what else. ah yes, of course, i almost forgot one of my favorite meals. my infamous diner special. it's a combination that i really enjoy a lot -- french toast and french fries. i'll eat that at any time of day. mmm, what a great combination those two foods make. you've got the sweetness of the syrup, and the saltiness of the fries... and, provided that it's good french toast and good fries -- where "good" mostly means that they're each the proper texture -- the textures fit well with each other.

see, texture is very important to me. probably even more important than flavor. i think that the majority of foods i don't like, it's the texture i don't like, not so much the flavor. there are exceptions to that of course -- certainly there exist bad flavors. but in general, i'm more worried about texture.

in any case, in spite of how picky i am, i can find something to eat at just about any restaurant. i might have to modify a menu item a bit (i.e. "can i get the ___ without the ___?"), but there's almost always something i'll eat. the one major exception to that is mexican food. there's really nothing i'll eat at a mexican restaurant. because most mexican foods consist of taking a whole bunch of stuff and wrapping it all up in a tortilla. not that there's anything wrong with tortillas -- the issue is mixing all this stuff up together. again, this pretty much comes down to texture; you mix all these things up together and wind up with an awful mushy mess. (yes, i know there exist mexican foods that don't exactly fit that description, but that's most of it.)

anyway, so there you go.

wait, don't go away, i have more questions!

ok, more to come... including the ever-popular, "what's up with your name? is it neil or fred? why can't you just pick one like everyone else?"

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