README: A 60-second summary of all this…

Hey everyone,

My name is Neil Pasricha and here’s a quick summary of this blog 1000 Awesome Things and my life since then:

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#892 Taking your shoes and socks off after a really long day

Get the TV set to Barney

Cold, wet, and clammy.

That pretty much sums up the state my feet are in after walking around in thin, sweaty socks and tight shoes all day. They’re aching and sore and full of flattened toe hair, crispy corns, and dry, flaky skin. Yeah, it’s a real horror show in the hallway every night when I get home from a really long day.

But how does it feel when you do finally let those feet out, air them out, stretch them out, and just throw them up on the couch and flick on the TV?

Wait, don’t tell me.


Photo from: here

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#893 Orange slices at half-time

Urkel could pull it off -- me, not really

When I was six years old my math skills suddenly took a steep tumble, so my parents whisked me off to the eye doctor who twiddled a bunch of knobs and eventually concluded that this L’il Squinter couldn’t see the blackboard. Unfortunately, instead of asking me to drink a glass of carrot juice every morning or just sit closer to the front of the class, he wrote me a prescription for some thick Coke-bottle glasses and sent me on my way.

Being the only kid in first grade who wore glasses was no fun. I was Four Eyes, Dr. Spectacles, and Blindy, all in one recess.

To make matters worse, they didn’t make too many glasses frames for kids in those days. Maybe it’s different now, but at the time the store only had one pair that fit me — a thick, red plastic set that had to be held around my head with a black elastic band. Yeah, it’s true: not only was I cursed with Blurry Eyes but I had a side case of Pin Head, too. It was embarrassing arriving to school looking like Steve Urkel, only without the spunk or sassiness.

Anyway, it didn’t take long for those glasses to become the bane of my existence.

I broke them about once a week.

I fell off someone’s back in the schoolyard, crashed into my sister running around the basement, and got pegged with snowballs on the way home from school. I ran into a fire pole on the playground, stepped on them getting out of bed, and left them sitting on couches and chairs around the house. Once I even broke them two days in a row. And it was the same story every time: I sheepishly appeared at dinner with my busted glasses on my face, thick wads of masking tape holding them together, and I sat through dinner until my parents very patiently took me back to the same glasses store later at night, to buy the same set of red, plastic frames, again and again and again.

Call it what you want. It hurts when you take one to the face.Now, my most painful memory of busting up my specs came during a house league football / soccer game. Almost everyone I knew played football / soccer as a kid — getting some exercise by joining historical local franchises such as Shisko’s Produce and A&R Auto Body, Est 1956.

It was in my first and only season, in the middle of a big playoff game, when I unceremoniously took a well-booted ball right in the middle of my face. My glasses cracked into two pieces, I fell to the ground and started crying, and as the play raced on without a whistle, I slowly got my drippy self together and blindly made it off the field. I held half of my glasses in each hand and wore a big, red circle on my face from the ball, like someone had set a frying pan down on me, accidentally mistaking my round, childlike features for a tightly-coiled stove burner.

What my face felt like

Well, I got to the sidelines and was met with bad news. Basically, the coach wouldn’t let me off the field. See, the problem was that our team was already short players and if I went off we’d be disqualified. Remember — this was the playoffs here. A free pizza party and a round of root beer floats was on the line. Nobody wanted the game to end.

So — completely blind, tears in my eyes, my bright red, well-smacked face on display for all to see, I stood in the corner of the field for the rest of the game, somehow helping our team avoid disqualification as well as victory.

Got me through my last game before retirement

It was tough.

I remember the only thing that got me through that terrible ordeal was my mom coming over and setting up a lawn chair beside me, popping open an old, Tupperware container, and giving me all the orange slices I wanted from the halftime stash.

And let me tell you, I loved me some half-time orange slices. They were like sweet, liquid energy, filling me with sugar and pep and turbo-charging me for the second half.

Now, my showing that day was pathetic and humiliating, I don’t deny that. And I’m sad to report that it finally forced me to hang up the cleats for good, retiring forever from the game I knew mildly.

But I still remember those orange slices, and my mom generously thiefing the entire container so I could make it through the game. So thanks, mom. And thanks, half-time orange slices. Because both of you are fully and completely


Many orange slices eaten while wearing them

Photos from: here, here, here, here, and here

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#894 When the only other person going up in the elevator is going to the same floor as you

lets-all-go-to-tenYou know how it is: you walk into the elevator, you press your button, and just as the door is about to fully close, a hand appears out of nowhere and pulls it back open. Then a stranger walks in and presses the same button you already pressed, going to the same floor you were already going. Now that’s luck, because after that brief ‘Are they following me?’ vibe passes, you get to zoom up the shaft at breakneck speed on a no-nonsense express ride to the top.


Photo from: here

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#895 Getting something with actual handwriting on it in the mail

How good would it feel to see this in your mailbox?

Checking the mail can be a bit depressing.

Sometimes there isn’t anything in there. Nope, nothing at all. Just one big, empty mailbox telling the world that everybody forgot about you today.

Then again, the alternative is typically a fistful of bills and flyers. Someone’s selling air conditioners, your car payment’s due, and the pizza place down the street has a new crust. All nice to know, of course. Just kind of boring … kind of bland … kind of blah.

But that’s what makes it so great when something with actual handwriting on it turns up in the mail. Those little endangered parcels have something very special about them. For instance:

  • Feel that ink. If you’re lucky enough to score a full-on letter, you know how good it feels to hold that pen-scratched masterpiece. Both sides of the paper are all carved up, and it sort of crisps and crinkles in your hand. It’s got a certain texture to it that feels very real and honest — like the person who wrote it put a bit of themselves in that envelope and sent it over. If I was a tree, I like to think I’d be proud if my slaughtered, pulpy remains were used for a letter like that. Seriously, it would bring a tear to my leaf.
  • It smells. Sure, sometimes it may not smell too strong, but then there’s the occasional letter that has a whiff of hand cream or perfume on it. And really, anything’s better than the smell of mass-ironed printer ink, especially if the ink’s real cheap and powdery and flakes off in the paper folds. Then you get it on your pants and under your fingernails, and for what? So American Express could tell you about their new interest rate?
  • The Complete Package. When you get a handwritten letter in the mail, it’s got a whole different look and feel to it. It’s a complete package. It’s a wedding thank-you card in the small red envelope, with the perfectly placed stamp, and the translucent tissue paper. Or it’s the letter from your kid at camp, with the smeared pencil and mud stains on it. It’s licked shut real tight, there’s a spelling mistake in your address, and the letter is folded thick, causing the envelope to puff out at the seams.
  • There’s nothing like it. Because no two handwritten letters are really the same. You know whoever wrote it spent a lot more time scratching it out than you did reading it. And they wrote it just for you, in their personal handwriting, with their pen and paper, and they paid to mail it to you. I don’t care how small and cold your heart may be — you have to admit that’s pretty cool.

Of course, the biggest reason why getting something handwritten is great is because it’s just so darned rare. I mean, for most people, you’re more likely to see Halley’s Comet crash into Big Foot while he’s riding the Loch Ness Monster than to actually get a full-blown note from a friend.

So I say treasure those handwritten notes, when you get ’em, if you get ’em. And if you don’t, there’s a pretty easy way to start receiving them.

Man, just send a couple.


You have to read it right away

Photos from: here, here, and here

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#897 A pack of matches on the back of the toilet

Not gonna work

Air fresheners don’t work.

They just make the bathroom smell like someone cracked a bottle of Chanel 5 open like an egg and poured it on top of a hot and steamy garbage dump. Air fresheners don’t so much solve bathroom pollution as they do call attention to it.

And ceiling fans have another issue — basically, they work really, really slowly. You drop a plop in two minutes, they slowly and calmly breeze it away in twenty-five. I mean, if you’ve ever heard anyone ask “Is it safe to go in there yet?”, then there’s your proof.

Finally, don’t even get me started on opening a window. First off, depending on the weather outside, windows really freeze up or heat up the joint. Not great for the environment if your A/C has to kick into overdrive. Plus, somebody has to go around later and close that window back up. Too much maintenance, really.

Instant stink removal

Yes, there’s really only one failsafe way to get rid of the stink in a bathroom. Only one powerful weapon against the onslaught of toilet odor. Only one time-tested method to destinkify the can. And friends, that powerful weapon is … the simple match.

That’s right: a match is cheap, convenient, and effective. Light it up, blow it out, flush it away, and you’re laughing. And isn’t it comforting when you see one on your friend’s toilet when you need to slip away from the dinner party to ‘go wash your hands’?

That’s right. You’ve been there before, you’ve played the game. You’ve waged the wars, you’ve tamed the flame. And you realize that a pack of matches on the back of the toilet is just so simply


Now just blow it up and flush away the evidence

Photos from: here, here and here

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#898 Playing old-school video games

If channel 3 doesn't work, try channel 4

[digg=] If you’ve ever enjoyed some lazy afternoons just sitting on the rug, passing greasy controllers around, and occasionally blowing into the business end of a Nintendo cartridge, then you know what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about the best old-school video games of all time. Here goes nothing:

13. Super Mario Bros 2. There are two kinds of people in this world: those who loved Mario 2 and those who hated it. If you hated it, you just couldn’t get past all the turnip-digging and carrot-tossing. If you loved it, you picked Princess, flew through all the levels, defeated all the egg-spitting ostrich bosses, dusted your palms together, and you called it a day. Of course, there was always that massive sense of disappointment when the end credits revealed that the entire game was just a dream Mario had one night. What a bummer.


12. Wolfenstein 3D. Wolfenstein really blew open the whole world of first-person shooters back in 1992. It was just you, a bunch of Nazis, and a maze of neverending hallways. Sounds scary, but you’d be fine as long as you ate enough turkey drumsticks before battling Robot Hitler. Mein leben!


11. Street Fighter 2. This game really evened the odds between the older brother, with the thick glasses and the calloused thumbs, and the kid sister, with the overalls and toothy aw-shucks grin. Because that kid sister, that Nintendo novice, that rookie who never played video games, well she could just go on a hot streak of straightup neverending E. Honda hundred-hand-slaps and there really wasn’t anything the older brother could do about it. Except possibly pull her hair until she started crying. Sorry, Nina.


10. Duck hunt. The great-great-grandfather of the Nintendo Wii would have to be Duck Hunt, where you used the plastic plugged-in gun to learn how to hunt. Now, who else walked right up the TV in frustration and killed every duck from two inches away? You practically had to when that invincible dog started laughing at you. There was no choice. Plus, how else could you train for clay shooting?


9. Bubble Bobble. An afternoon falling through the Bubble Bobble levels was like acid tripping for a six-year old. The music got wilder and wilder as you and a pal continuously slaughtered robots by suffocating them in your dangerous dinosaur-spewed bubbles and then eating their dead corpses which, after you popped them, magically turned into shiny pieces of fruit. Somehow this all made sense, too. We must’ve been high on Pixy Stix.


8. Pong. Distributed exclusively by Sears for $100 a pop during the 1975 Christmas season, Pong eventually burned its way into hearts and television screens across the world.


7. Mike Tyson’s Punch Out. Before rape, prison, and facial tattoos, Mike Tyson starred in an animated game for children. You played as Little Mac and worked your way up the circuit by pummeling boxers like Glass Joe, Bald Bull, Mr. Sandman, and eventually Mike Tyson himself. The characters were great and Mario even moonlighted as the referee here, once again showing his tremendous versatility and athleticism.


6. Sonic The Hedgehog. Sonic was a great game to play when you went over to your friend’s house and they had Sega instead of Nintendo. Why did they have Sega instead of Nintendo? Well, it was either for the sports games or the blood in Mortal Kombat, one of the two.


5. Tetris. If you were lucky, you could get away with telling your parents that Tetris was educational. It certainly looked like it was too, with all that falling geometry and the Kremlin backdrops. Though no one could really prove it, there sure was something suspiciously mathy about it. Of course, the greatest thing about Tetris was that you could just blame the game when you died. Those random shapes turned us all into hollow-eyed fatalists, left staring blankly into the television, shaking our heads and saying “I was just waiting for a line” over and over again.


4. Solitaire in Windows 3.0. Solitaire was that classic boring card game that you played by yourself when the boss wasn’t looking. It’s funny because almost everyone who finds it strangely addictive admits that it is in fact a completely terrible game. But it sure was a good way to teach your grandpa how to use a mouse.


3. Contra. Everyone talks about the famous Contra code that you entered during the startup screen to begin with 30 men but few people talk about how impossible this game was without the code. You had people shooting at you from all directions, you died after one bullet, and you started the game with only three lives. Even with the spray gun you probably only ran for about twenty seconds before getting shot and calling it quits. So basically, Contra taught us that bullets are really dangerous and that’s why cheating is important.


2. Super Mario Bros. There are so many memories from this instant classic, like the creepy music in World 1-2, the warp zone, the hammer brothers, the flying fish, and the first time you ever heard the phrase: “Thank you Mario! But our princess is in another castle!”


1. Super Mario Bros 3. Fred Savage helped Mario 3 launch to fame with the ninety-minute commercial known as The Wizard. Remember his catatonic little bro who just said ‘Cali-forn-yah’ the whole movie but eventually showed the world how to find the whistle? Yes, Mario 3 completely blew everything else away by introducing us to flying raccoons, angry suns, Tanooki and Frog suits, and that impossible Tube World. It was a larger than life video game that provided years of fun at birthday parties and sleepovers everywhere. For this last game, how about the original commercial instead of a clip? I believe it accurately captures how the world felt about this game.


Yes, playing old school video games was always a sure way to get sore thumbs, strained eyes, and a dry mouth. But would you trade anything for all those hours in front of the TV set exploring strange and exotic worlds with your friends? Yes, the sun would dip down, the lights would go off upstairs, the bowls of Doritos and cans of Pepsi would empty, but that bright, flickering light from the TV didn’t stop casting kaleidoscope shadows on the wide-eyed faces sitting three feet in front of them well into the night.

And those were some seriously good times, my friend.

Some seriously good times.


Ah, memories

Photos from: here and here

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#899 The smell of frying onions

Get past the tears and sniff it in

According to our egghead pals over at Wikipedia, the onion has a long and glorious past. For instance, get this:

•Ancient Egyptians used to worship onions. That’s right — they believed their spherical shape and concentric rings symbolized eternal life. They also used to bury their dead with onions, figuring that the strong smell would eventually bring them back to life.

• In Ancient Greece, the athletes used to munch on onions because they thought it would lighten the weight of their blood. Remember: this was before Atkins.

Roman gladiators were rubbed down with onions to firm up their muscles. Probably also helped them slip out of tough bear hugs and sleeper-holds, too.

• Okay, last one: in the Middle Ages, onions were more valuable than a new jousting sword or a decent moat subcontractor. People paid rent with them and gave them as presents. Doctors even prescribed them to move bowels, stifle coughs, lift erections, and kill headaches. Seriously, imagine a big bag of onions wedged between the eye drops and skin cream at the drug store. That’s what it was like back then.

Anyway, given that illustrious past of the almighty onion, I sort of feel like they don’t get enough credit these days. We don’t worship them like we used to, but maybe we should. After all, they’re still cheap, healthy, and easy to store. And they really do have a lot of healthy properties. Plus, and here’s the best part, they smell delicious when they’re frying in a sizzling glob of butter.

Yes, when you walk into a house and smell those onions frying, it’s a beautiful moment. Partly because they smell delicious, partly because it means someone’s cooking dinner, and partly because now you have to solve the mystery of what’s cooking. It could be anything, really: perogies, sausages, curry, maybe a stir fry? The point is that the house smells great and you can’t help but start salivating.

So next time you’re frying up a pan full of onions and sniffing up that delicious aroma, just remember to stop for a second and think about its proud and noble heritage. Because they’ve come a long way to be part of your dinner tonight. And they’re happy to be here.


worship-the-onionPhotos from: here and here

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#900 Multitasking while brushing your teeth

When you gotta go, grab a toothbrush and maximize your time

Hey, there’s a lot to get done around here.

Oh what, you thought those magazines on top of the toilet were just going to organize themselves? Yeah, right. And I suppose the shower curtain would magically get pulled out and straightened by the same invisible bathroom butler too, right?

No, but seriously though: isn’t it all about maximizing time while you’re scraping away at your pearly yellows? I mean, you get the basic motions down after the first few hundred practices, and then it’s like hey, hey, couple minutes of free time every night during the big brush. If this sounds at all like you, then congratulations: You may be a Toothpaste Stroller.

Toothpaste Strollers don’t worry because they know their molars aren’t going anywhere, so they check email, set the alarm clock, or put on pajama bottoms while brushing away. I mean, just look at that picture of a baby brushing her teeth while getting toilet trained at the same time. Folks, it’s like I always say: We can learn much from the baby.

Now, if you’re like me, then whatever you do while brushing your teeth ends up taking much longer than normal and is incredibly awkward. But that’s part of the fun. I mean, say you’re taking off your socks with one hand while brushing with the other — well, that’s like two minutes of awkward hopping and peeling while your actual brushing loses focus and maybe even slips out of your mouth a few times. You end up grabbing the counter before you slip, a half-peeled sock on your foot, a few foamy streaks across your lips, and you just have to laugh.

Because you’ll get it eventually.

And when you do you’ll become an official member of the Toothpaste Stroller Club. Fellow members, you know what I’m talking about. You know that multitasking while brushing your teeth scratches a small Type A part of your brain just the right way. Yes, because instead of examining your zits or flaring your nostrils in the mirror, you can feel satisfied that as you spit that puddle of foamy Colgate into the sink, that dog-eared pile of Time magazines on top of the toilet is just as organized and ready for bed as you are.


These feet were made for walking.

Photo from: here

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#901 Flipping through the entire bank of posters at the mall when you need to kill time

Have you ever needed to just kill some time at the mall?

Say your girlfriend’s doing rounds at La Senza, your parent’s called and said they’d be late picking you up, or the friend you’re waiting for is mopping floors at the food court to finish up their shift.

Well, that’s when flipping through the entire bank of posters at the back of the music store comes in handy.

Because seriously, there’s about fifty posters there, too. If you take your time and do it right, you can eat up ten or fifteen minutes reading the entire Periodic Table of Mixed Drinks or the 13 Different Types of Bowel Movements.


Stare intensely into Mel's eyes

Photo from: here

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