Sunday, December 16, 2012

10 'Talents' that are pretty overrated

Everyone has talents, or something that they do better than anyone else, or at least better than a lot of people.  For some, it's athletics, for others, academe.  In this world of over 6 billion people, there's quite a few people that have some odd abilities.  Among all of the talents that are available, there are some that are simply overrated.  To wit:

10.  Holding your liquor - A staple of movies for ages, the ability to hold ones liquor appears to be a sought after talent.  It would seem that you would want the exact opposite.  To feel the effects of alcohol with as little intake as possible would seem to be a more cost effective way to get buzzed instead of having to drink your weight in the fruit of the grape.

9.  Knowing History - This one would get the most argument from the most people I believe.  Historical knowledge is valuable only when it comes to law and that's because law relies on precedent in order to determine a direction of action.  That's because we are trying to be consistent.  The problem of course is our society and our technology is far from consistent.  Things that made sense 50 years ago make no sense now. That's why we have stupid laws like you can't fish from horseback and birds have right of way on the highway (real laws I'm afraid).  Knowing history by and large is knowing things that are interesting.  It doesn't provide much value beyond that.  The events of human kind have even left the History Channel dry of material which is why they have the current line up they have.  Hardly Historical.

8.  Gambling Knowledge - Knowledge of the the games of chance available in a casino has been touted as worthwhile information in movies and tv.  Here is the only knowledge of gambling you need to know.  Over time the Casino will take your money.  I have this particular knowledge in spades.  I go to the casino twice a month and I win just a little less than I lose.  I'm just short of being an expert.  Knowledge of the games will only help you lose slower, not win.  It's still fun though.

7.  Remembering Trivia - Memory is a terrific talent, it's useful and beneficial.  Using that ability for remembering minutiae is unfortunate unless you are a writer for Jeopardy.  The ability to spout little known knowledge has long been a false indicator of intelligence.  Lately it has become that much more overrated thanks to the Internet.  There goes another talent down the tubes.

6.  Ability to tan well - It's not so much an ability as it is an attribute.  Yet I hear people commenting on it all the time as though sitting in the sun is something that is desired at all besides the obvious enjoyable sloth that it signifies.

5.  Old Computer languages - In programming there are languages that are much like regular languages.  the vocabulary set is much more limited and designed only to facilitate logic.  When you learn a computer language it is very much like learning a real language.  There are nuances to the code and each programmer will implement it differently.  Over time, these languages become obsolete.  Hopefully, the programmers don't become obsolete with them.  It is with an unfortunate amount of pride that programmers reminisce about old languages.  It's really the most pathetic aspect of being a programmer is telling people how easy they have it because they didn't have to program in FORTRAN or COBOL.  Yawn.  It's like telling you kids how easy they have it because they didn't have to live in the good old Greek (assuming you know Greek).  But more about that coming up next.

4.  Dead Languages - People that can speak Latin or Greek are pretty rare, even among the legal/medical set.  Sure they know a few of the roots, but honestly, Praising Latin for being the base of languages is much like praising flour because you are eating a tasty cake.  Sure it's important, but honestly, something else would have shown up in it's stead if Latin wasn't available.  The ability to speak a dead language is really important on the Masters edition of Trivial Pursuit.

3.  Average singing - For many people, going to church means having to endure a choir made up of local parishioners.  When these people sing it's really a crap shoot.  You sit on your chair and hope and pray that if you happen to be in the church that God thinks is the good one that he'll spare you and them any embarrassment by helping them to hit the notes or at least helping you to hear them as they were intended to be sung and not how it came out.  These people are then praised after a performance to the point that they actually might start believing that they can sing better than they are able and try out for some reality based singing show.  It only gets worse from there.

2.  Being Stupid - That's not a talent.  No?  Take a look at shows such as Jersey shore and the like and tell me that being stupid and proud of it is not a talent that is valued today.  Valued AND overrated.  Before I let go of this particular bone, let me say this.  Being entertained by ignorant people and the resulting train wreck of their lives is most certainly not a sign of any higher evolution than the people you are watching.

1.  Being OCD -  Obsessive Compulsive Disorder has been misdiagnosed by many as a talent.  It is no more a talent than being able to pass gas to the tune of Call Me Maybe.  Actually, far less.  The problem is, if an individual is obsessed with something that happens to be socially acceptable then it has transited quickly to the world of talents.  To those with genuine OCD, it's likely less talent than it is torture.

Happy Holidays.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

10 Pet Peeve's of people in Technology (programmers)

This blog has always been about what I think. But not really much about me. Small distinction I know, but still I don't provide a whole lot of details about my life here. Well by trade I am a Database Programmer. As such my name occupies a place in the roll of the TECHIE. A TECHIE is anyone that makes adept use of technology such that people around them recognize them as at least a semi-authority. Once you are deemed a TECHIE, there are several things that happen, most of which are at first flattering, but quickly annoying. I've found that there are likely several parallels in the fields of medicine, law, and auto repair.

10. Because you enjoy something, that should be payment enough - One of the problems with being a species based in mortality, we create a subclass of people that are thrifty (read CHEAP). These people believe that the value of anything done on their behalf is based on the need or discomfort of the individual providing the service and not the value of the service itself. They will often start a request for free labor with 'I've got a challenge for ya' The challenge of course is how long can you work on this persons problem before you realize that you will be doing it for free.

 9. Once you've agreed to help, the person being helped turns off their brain - This is not unique to technical support, but is also present in driving and happens in nearly the same way. When I don't have a GPS with me, I have a very good sense of direction. Once I have a GPS, I have no idea where I am, or what direction i'm going or how long it will take to get there. The same thing happens to most people when they get technical support.

8. People's field of vision is largely limited to a one inch circle around their mouse - It's really amazing. When you watch someone else driving around their computer, you quickly see that they are not only looking where their mouse is, but they only look where their mouse is. If they want to look at a title or something else on the page, they feel the need to move the pointer to the place they are looking. The reason this is annoying is because a LOT of information lies just outside of the radius around the mouse.

7. If you are technical AND you have touched my computer, you OWE me free support from that time forward - This happens from time to time where people will say something like "Right after YOU fixed my computer, it stopped working (in another way that is unrelated)....(silence with expectation)" Yes, you are expected to fix whatever other thing is wrong based on what you fixed before. It's yours now. you touched it, you OWN it.

6. You're technical, come look at this - 'Technical' is actually not a bullet point on a resume unless you are looking for management. Like medicine or law or nearly any other profession, the classification of that profession is usually MUCH larger than the specific area that you work in. A doctor that has specialized in Orthopedics doesn't really know much about Oncology. A lawyer that is in personal injury will be a fish out of water in a copyright infringement case. If you ask a PC pro to take a look at your printer, they may or may not have information that will help.

 5. Here, let me google that for you - Once you are found to be somewhat helpful . You are obligated to provide service because you have the know how.  Then people start getting lazy.  Instead of asking you for help when they need it after they have exhausted all options, they start asking you for things like you are their personal google.

4. You think you're SOOO smart - After dealing with computers you begin to see the same mistakes and gaffes by the general populous crop up.  You start making assumptions about human behavior and begin to generalize that behavior.  You know.  Like everyone else does to Techies.  We are mostly socially inept and have little contact with the outside world.  So many times, without hearing the entire problem, we make a general diagnosis and prescribe a treatment.  Often involving rebooting.  For some people, when our initial prognosis doesn't work there is some glee that crosses the face of some as though to say 'Well Mr. I-know-more-than-you, looks like you don't know EVERYTHING....HA!'  A word to the wise.  Like auto mechanics, GOOD tech people you can relate to are hard to come by and should not be mocked.

3.  This just isn't working - A followup to the above, when you are in technology, you have a problem in that if something doesn't work, and you are unable to fix it, you take it personally.  You mutter under your breath something about 'Nothing breaks unless I SAY IT BREAKS'.  Of course the problem is, technology decays over time and will fail eventually (yes, even Macs).  This means, that over time those that are technically inclined will be stuck in this infernal catch 22.

2.  Is this a good one? - The technologically inclined will usually spend quite a bit of time evaluating and finally purchasing technology.  Getting the best bang for the technological buck is somewhat of an internal competition among the TECHIE lot.  That's why it is particularly infuriating when a commoner just happens to buy some bit of hardware be it a Monitor or a Tablet computer, and it just happens to be the best or close to it and we the techie watch as you use maybe 20% of it's overall capacity.  Why don't you just hit us in the collective head with a tire iron.

1. TV could at least TRY to be accurate - The truth is, a lot of TV tries for technological accuracy by avoiding the subject.  Every so often the show will try to explain to those that are not in the know about some kind of technology that often ends up being patently wrong.  We love it, but we hate it.  We hate it at the time we watch the show, because it takes our mind out of the story.  We love it later because we can carp along like Comic Book Guy about the brazen inaccuracies and show off our tech cred.

Well, this will be the penultimate original entry for by blog this year.  The only reason I say so, is because there are so few occasions to actually use the word.  Get your Holiday shopping done and enjoy the season!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Top 10 Things I'll do with my Lottery Winnings!

Lottery.  Chances of winning a lottery are in fact to be found on any number of websites.   175 million to one.  Wow, that doesn't sound TOO bad right?  hmmm...The chances of being dealt a Royal Flush (10, J, Q, K, A in the same suit) with no draws in 5 cards is roughly 1 million to 1.  This means that you will be dealt 175 royal flushes before you will win the lottery once.  Or if you are a pessimist, the odds of being struck by lightening are right around 1 Million to 1.  So you'll be struck 175 times before you will win the lottery.  Great.  I'm a lottery player,  Not often and not for a lot, I'm not one of those people that mortgages the house to buy every lotto ticket I can.  I get just enough that I can dream about what I would do if I would win a lottery.  The following list is variable based on the amount of money I win in the lottery.

1. New House - Of course.  Most people have a place to live.  They seem to like it just fine.  It suits them.  It starts out empty and over time it starts to really reflect the people that live in it.  Once you win the lottery, I suspect it won't actually change you, but you will have more money and be the same you.  So you will get a bigger house in a better neighborhood and proceed to make THAT house a bigger more expensive version of the house you are in.

2. New Car - Well if you won the lottery, that car you are driving will NEVER be good enough.  it's time to get something you can really drive!  Luxury, speed, style.  It's all there in the car.  You may never get to that new house of yours because you'll be living so large in that new car you got.  When you don't have money.  A car is like your horse in the old west.  it's there to get you from place to place and you maintain it and keep it well and it gets you where you need to go.  A lottery car is like a fancy french poodle someone clipped to look like a balloon animal.  Yes, it's still a car and does all the things a car does, but now it's Oh So cool.  And some people will roll their eyes as you go by.  Just like if you had a fancy poodle.

3. Expensive jokes - I'm just hanging around with money and nothing to do.  Do I try to help my fellow man?  Maybe, what's in it for me?  Social engineering you say? Ok, I'm up for that.  Here would be one of my plans.  Get stacks of money, say 2000k a stack and then I give letters to people in a neighbor hood and tell them if they want to grow rich, they need to dress like a chicken and go to a convenience store and cluck like a chicken.  at that point. anyone that does it for the convenience store will get an envelope with 2000$ from the clerk. The clerk has been given 2000k to just hand out envelopes to anyone in chicken outfits. After that I imagine if anyone mails people in that neighborhood a letter to walk around in a bear suit they would do it.  That would be funny ;)  This is the primary reason I know I won't win anything.  Karma won't let me anywhere near that kind of activity.

4. Winter home - Well one nice house is great, but two nice houses would be even better.  Imagine not having to put up with hotels in your favorite location?  A winter home in a place with a nice climate.  That would be great.  Of course all of the same problems will plague that house that plague your other house, and now you have the added problem of worrying about the other house.  But hey, you're a lotto winner.  You can afford it.

5. Start a simple business - Now that you're rich, you'll have no more working for the man.  yeah, you're a free spirit.  sweet.  Now you're bored.  Life's struggle is no longer a struggle and you really just don't know what to do with yourself.  Start a small business!  That's the ticket.  A daily task but now YOU are the man. I would start my own candy store.  I love candy.  I think it would be fun.   Then I would hire a few people to help me run it.  and then I wouldn't really care if it MADE money.  If it broke even that would be good enough.

6. Take care of family members - Sure fortune has smiled down upon you.  But what about the people you are related to?  I have a feeling winning the lottery would change the nature of a lot of relationships so I would be reluctant to let anyone know.  I would probably anonymously send money to my family members just so I knew I'd helped them.  but I don't want a crumb trail coming back to me.

7.  Donate to a charity I like - This is a tough one.  I would like to donate to a charity, but I wanna make sure it's a good one.  Something that doesn't have a lot of money, but a good structure that would really benefit from my gift.  Of course that could be a tall order.  On the other hand, I'd have time to study it out.  The big charities are ok, but it seems like they suffer from their own bureaucratic weight.  This option would take the most leg work to execute.  Once again, I would donate the money anonymously.

8. Take up Tournament Poker - I never really get to play poker much.  It's a fun game.  I like gambling in general, but poker seems to be less of a gamble and the rest of the games.  It would be really cool to win a poker tournament.  I realize my luck was probably already tapped by winning the lottery, but I'm not doing this for money, It's for fun.  I'll donate the winnings to some compulsive gambling half way house.

9. A Big Cruise - This I know I would do.  One of those really long around the world cruises.  I love cruising.  it's really the best way to see things.  I'd have the cabin that the other passengers go to visit to see THAT cabin.  What I would NOT do is go on a boat that makes you dress up just to be on the boat.  It's supposed to be a VACATION.  The other thing about being on the cruise is the shore excursions.  I would buy them from the boat.  Sure it's more expensive that way, but I won the lottery!

10. Save it - The sensible thing of course is to save the money.  Try to live off of the interest.  Keep yourself from blowing it on stupid things that don't matter. These days interest is so small that you really wouldn't make much just saving it, but if you invested it in different ways it would serve you for your lifetime.

Start your Christmas shopping now.  If you happen to have just won the lottery, please don't blow it.
Thanks for reading!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Ten Deals with the Devil

Deal with the devil.  The Faustian bargain.  The proverbial selling of ones soul for a time of unlimited magic and knowledge.  Well if your deal involves something less than unlimited magic and power, then the payment will end up being something less than your soul.  Of course, ultimately it's still the same.  you want a shortcut to something you want and you will pay later, possibly more than you want.

1 - Credit cards - So you're saying that I can have this money NOW.  I just have to pay a portion of what I owe over time plus a small fee?  Many people only hear the part where they can get that big screen TV now.  That's it.  The whole part about payments and interest and whatnot are just little Jiminy Cricket's whispering annoyingly in our ears.  Mmmmm...HD TV.  Then you get your credit card statement.  True to the bargain, you are paying a piece as you agreed.  If you calculate that piece out, you are paying for that TV nearly 3 times over by the time you are done with your payments.  That's if you just buy the TV.  Next month you want a few other things to go along with the TV.  So you defecit spend yourself into the next many years getting the things you want now and paying for them for a long time to come.  Bad Deal.

2 - Pets - They are so CUTE!  I love little puppies and kitties and every little animal!  There is the rub.  Animals are at best a responsibility, at worst, you have this cat or dog that has grown up and is no longer cute and is kind of annoying.  Layer that on to the fact that every time you want to go on vacation, you wonder if the pet is doing ok at the Kennel or with friends visiting them.  If you are getting a pet because of the cute beginnings, you will find that they outgrow that pretty quickly.

3 - Tattoo - One hazy night worth of chemically altered vision and you get a big chunk of ink plastered who knows where.  Of course you'll claim that it's exactly what you want and something that you really love.  But only you know if it's any good or what you really wanted.  When you first saw it, you decided you wanted to live with that design forever.  Years later...who knows?

4 - New Car - They are so expensive and much like credit cards, you can drive them right away with only a manageable payment made per month.  Everyone will tell you that a car is not an investment, it's a tool.  But it's a tool that will wear out relatively quickly compared to something like a hammer. You hope the car you get will be able to last as long as the payments and even if it will, your love of the car will not.

5 - Not Brushing Your teeth - each night a child goes to bed a vigilant parent checks and pushes them back into the bathroom to actually brush their teeth.  Children do not realized the amount of trouble that can be avoided by just maintaining a good tooth brushing regimen.  Adults often bemoan the lack of wisdom of their youth and are doomed to repeat the warnings they heard as kids.  This deal with the devil gives you an extra 3 minutes of sleep nearly every night in exchange for excruciating pain on a few days of your life and eventually implants or dentures.  Ick.

6 - Book/Record of the month club - In my day, this was the first exposure that a kid had to the world of contracts.  The come on was simple.  Pick any 10 records for 1 penny.  1 sliver of copper would give you more music than you could listen to in an entire night!  Amazing!  All you have to do is agree to buy a certain amount of records over time, and to make it easy, they will send you a record a month unless you tell them you don't want it.  Pretty soon, you are getting records that are kind of expensive when you add in shipping and that little imp of mail sales HANDLING.  Like a credit card, if you work it correctly, you actually could buy records on average for a slightly better rate than retail.  Get done with your obligation, quit the club and rejoin.  This deal was made better if you rejoined through a friend and took one of the 2 free records he would get for signing you up.  This was all a clever scam if you paid enough attention to run it.  Like credit, most don't run it right.  Boom the record devil gets your soul.

7 - Votes for a Politician - In this deal, you actually don't get much of anything at all.  Politics are more like rooting for a team than voting for an individual.  It's impossible for you to know the individual unless you already knew him/her from a prior meeting.  So you are voting for the best portrayal of a politician.  On top of that, everything a politician promises are not at all binding by law and the circumstances of being president appear to circumvent any walking up to the promises you make.  So you cast your vote for one devil or another, but the deal is the same.

8 - Education - In this version, you decide to avoid college alltogether and venture out into the world looking for a job on just your good looks.  With the right attitude you get employment, you get reccomendations and connections and eventually you end up in what you would call your career.  The entire time, you wonder if your life would have been better if you would have actually gone to college and gotten X.  X is the degree you DIDN'T get.  Because unless you got a doctorate, you will see people that ventured to get degrees beyond the one you achieve and wonder if their life is better.  So short term time and experience but it's paid for with a lifetime of doubt.

9 - Education - In this version, you get as much education as you can afford through student loans and mom and dad and wherever else you can scrape together money.  You finish your education and you continually wonder if the career you get is worth the money you paid for the education you think you needed to get it.  Often you get a career in a vocation that has nothing to do with your educational field.  The student loans seem to stay with you a lot longer than the actual accumulated knowledge.  Short term you got the education you thought would guarantee you success.  Long term you wonder if you needed to burn that much money to get what you got as well as continually tell yourself that you were glad you got the education no matter what it lead to because it broadened your horizons.

10 - First Home Loan - This one FEELS the most like a deal with a devil.  The first home you get a loan for, you see the piles of papers and the signatures and initials that are required and then the sum total of the loan you are getting and you KNOW this is serious.  Up to now, you've been paying monthly rent and there was nothing much more to it.  They raise your rent a few bucks every other month, and you agree to pay.  NOW, you are on the hook for 15-45 years.  You feel like an indentured servant.  Thank goodness, you get used to that payment in 3-6 months.

Well, it's time to vote again.  I would suggest that you vote for someone you know something about if you approve of them.  Those of you that just stopped by and especially those of you that read all the know who you are.  Thanks!  I really appreciate it!

Monday, October 15, 2012

10 Paranormal things.

It's Halloween time again.  Time for all things creepy to take center stage and hog all the spotlights.  There is a word for all the things we like to think about around Halloween.  it's called the PARANORMAL.  Para from the french parachute and normal from the American abnormal.  Literally means 'I think you pulled that story out of your backside'.  Some people are unaware of all of the OTHER things that are also classified as paranormal and might like to broaden their Halloween horizons.

to wit and not in any particular order...

10. Ghosts - For me, this is what Halloween is all about.  I love a good ghost story.  It's the apex of mans innate fear of his own mortality.  The desperate hope for some existence albeit tortured, beyond this one.  Do I believe in an afterlife?  Yes, I suppose I do.  The only thing I know about it, is that it's completely different than anything anyone has ever thought of in our current mortal state.  I have written several blogs covering ghosts.  I hope you'll re-read them.   In short.  I don't believe in them, and yet I really do enjoy the idea of ghosts.  At this point I'm more inclined to believe that they are images from parallel realities that somehow overlap into our own.  Yeah, far fetched I know.

9. Psychic Phenomenon - I've had my hand at being psychic.  I'm pretty good at it. There are a lot of elements to psychic phenomenon though, clairvoyance is just one among many.  There is the medium that can contact the ghosts mentioned above.  there are those called 'sensitive' that can sense influences from an unseen world.  Distance viewing, the ability to project ones consciousness across vast distances, was even experimented with by military organizations in several countries.  They all involve our brain.  The problem is, the results are not clinically reproducible   This doesn't mean they can't happen, it just means it can't happen on any kind of measurable scale on demand.  As a result it also opens up the field to all kinds of fraudulent fortune tellers and mentalists.

8. UFO's - Unidentified Flying Objects.  In case you were living under a rock, or on board a spaceship that would like a better, more informed view into human societal relationships.  As a race, we humans are more and more intrigued with the idea that intelligent life from outer space is not only interested in us, but is interested in helping us.  I've discussed the elements and characteristics of Aliens in a separate blog.  Anything that is flying that you can't identify is technically a UFO.  Don't forget the UFO's little sister the USO.  Unidentified Sea Object.  these are ostensibly not aliens, but a race we don't run into much because they are from the bottom of the ocean.  They create craft that can interact with us, but they find us to be both violent and stupid and would rather not have anything to do with us.  Men in Black also fall under this heading.  Like the movie, these ill dressed aliens go around erasing peoples memories about extra terrestrials but not with nifty technology (as far as we know), but with vague threats and sinister intent.  Most sighting of UFO's will include some kind of resume about the viewer having been around a lot of airplanes and that was not like any airplane THEY'VE ever seen.  Of course we later come to find that 99% of all UFO sightings end up being military experimental stuff.  Is it because they are working in conjunction with aliens?!  maybe.  They aren't telling.

7. Exo-Biology - This covers Big Foot, the Yeti, the Loch Ness Monster, Chupacabra, Gorilla's and Orangutans.  What's that you say?  We've verified the existence of the last 2?  Yeah, I guess we have.  So to say that the others aren't possible is really kind of ignorant of the fact that we simply haven't discovered ALL of the animals on our little blue ball yet.  Any kind of strange animal that has more fancy and folklore about it than fact falls under this category.  Normally, if we can't identify it or capture or kill it, we don't believe it exists.  I presume pet ghosts also fall under this category, though I'm not really sure.  I think there are explanations for all of these creatures (the living ones anyway).

6. Religion - Hey now Mark, you are treading on thin ice here.  Yes I probably am.  But ultimately Religion often asks believers to assume certain fantastic events to be fact without evidence as we know it, but simply through faith.  As an exercise, take a good hard look at the deep religious philosophy of a religion that is not your own.  It seems strange doesn't it?  There are paranormal events that claim to occur in the name of religion all the time.  One of the more fantastic ones involve the liquification of a mass of solid holy blood during a ceremony.  For Christians, the bible itself contains many tales of paranormal events that can only be explained by the 'Hand of God'.  Even within Christianity, if you've ever attended a service of a church that is not your particular denomination, it all seems kind of strange, doesn't it?

5. Zombies. - These come in a separate place because They are kind of in vogue these days.  The idea that somehow the person that you once were now is a flesh/brain eating being that only knows to continually search for food. The idea that this could happen at all is ludicrous.  A zombie of of course is a human body that has been taken over by either a magic or parasite rendering the individual personality of the person inside that body to be dead.  The body now only hunts for brains/human flesh.  The old version of zombie just meant someone that was under the control of someone else.    On the other hand, there are some strange practices that involve a near trans like state of the individual (which usually involves some kind of mind altering drug) that makes them very suggestible.  Granted this is not the brain slurping zombie we all know and love, but some definitions change over time.

4. De Ja Vu - This is in a separate category because we've all experienced this.  The idea that you have already experienced an event and you already know what is going to happen next.  The feeling is so vivid that you could swear you know what will happen.  I don't have a problem with this.  I'm just not sure what to make of it.  My dad used to say that when you experience it, it means you are on the right track.  I'm really not sure what THAT means either.  I think that your brain optimizes similar experiences and sometimes gets it wrong.  some neurons fire that shouldn't and bingo, instant memory of something that hasn't happened yet.

3. Spontaneous Human Combustion - When I was a wee lad of tender years, this one really freaked me out. The idea the people could just burst into flame and turn to ash without disturbing their surroundings spooked me.  People would be found as a 1/2 burned pile of ash but with a leg or arm still intact. How does that work?! Weird.  It doesn't seem to happen as much anymore.  Probably because people are used to calling for help when they find themselves on fire now.  Maybe it was rude to ask for assistance back then.

2. Vampires - This doesn't fall under exobiology, nor does it fall under Psychic phenomenon.  If anything, it falls under religion and yet it's not a good fit there either.  Vampires like zombies are created through contact with other Vampires, but the Idea behind this fictional species is that you are either food or eventually enslaved by the Vampire that has bitten you.  You essentially become a part of their down line in a blood related multilevel marketing scheme.  They have lots of powers and in some cases will actually sparkle, much to their chagrin.  They bite their victims and suck/eat their blood.  If they feel so inclined, they will turn you into a vampire, otherwise, they just kill you.  There ARE some real life counterparts to this that aren't nearly as fantastic.  They mostly seem to be overly dramatic people that really want to stand out with the other people that stand out like them.

1. Politics - This has elements of nearly everything above.  The Candidates appear to be both alien and born and raised here.  They haunt your TV with ads like only the most annoying poltergeist would dare.  You believe you've seen them all before saying the same things, because you have De Ja yuck.  They appear to be under the slavish control of their respective parties like zombies.  Like religion, they would like the faithful in their party to ignore the problems and focus on the good parts of the candidate.  After you've seen enough of their commercials, you would rather spontaneously combust than see another one.

As always, thanks for reading!