Author Archive: Christopher Waldrop

The Dating Scene

April 21, 2000

The other day I happened to look at a bottle of bottled water, on the off-chance that I might see something that would make me want to pay money for it, or even possibly drink it, and I noticed that it had an expiration date. Why does bottled water have an expiration date? After a certain time does it start to break down into hydrogen and oxygen? Do the minerals carried by the fresh mountain faucet that provides this water start to settle to the bottom and become toxic? Or is it simply that, because water falls, more or less, under the category of food and drugs, it has to be assigned an expiration date? Here are a few other things that you’d never expect to go bad that also get expiration dates:

Batteries. Why batteries need an expiration date is a mystery. They’re certainly not food (unless you happen to have a cadmium deficiency). Scientists have in fact conducted tests to find out what happens to batteries after their expiration date has passed, although their recording devices merely stop working. A couple of television networks are currently working on "When Good Batteries Go Bad" specials.

Beer. Beer has an expiration date but doesn’t need one because it never stays around long enough to expire. It’s not like wine which improves with age. The fresher beer is, the better it tastes. In fact, putting expiration dates on beer is simply encouraging people to drink.

Soda. Soda has the same food value as batteries. But unlike batteries, it never really goes bad. When future archaeologists are digging the remnants of our culture out of our own landfills, they’ll find vending machines and be able to enjoy the refreshing fizz and caffeine rush that is actually the only thing that gets 90% of the human race out of bed in the mornings.

Cigarettes. A lot of sweaty-faced CEOs have, while tugging their collars and stammering like defendants at the Nuremberg trials, stated that tobacco is not a drug. Despite this, cigarettes have an expiration date. Now this is a good idea. With the increasing number of non-smoking areas, the higher prices, the addition of strange and lethal chemicals to tobacco, and the generally bad press, smokers are getting pushed around a lot lately. I’m glad that something is being done to look out for them. That is, of course, unless those expiration dates actually refer to the smokers themselves.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


Gullibility Virus Spreading over the Internet!

WASHINGTON, D.C.-The Institute for the Investigation of irregular Internet Phenomena announced today that many Internet users are becoming infected by a new virus that causes them to believe without question every groundless story, legend, and dire warning that shows up in their Inbox or on their browser. The Gullibility Virus, as it is called, apparently makes people believe and forward copies of silly hoaxes relating to E-Mail viruses, get-rich-quick schemes, and conspiracy theories. "These are not just readers of tabloids or people who buy lottery tickets based on fortune cookie numbers," a spokesman said. "Most are otherwise normal people, who would laugh at the same stories if told to them by a stranger on a street corner." However, once these same people become infected with the Gullibility Virus, they believe anything they read on the Internet. "My immunity to tall tales and bizarre claims is all gone," reported one weeping victim. "I believe every warning message and sick child story my friends forward to me, even though most of the messages are anonymous." Internet users are urged to examine themselves for symptoms of the virus, which include the following:

  • the willingness to believe improbable stories without thinking
  • the urge to forward multiple copies of such stories to others
  • a lack of desire to take three minutes to check to see if a story is true

T.C. is an example of someone recently infected. He told one reporter, "I read on the Net that the major ingredient in almost all shampoos makes your hair fall out, so I’ve stopped using shampoo." When told about the Gullibility Virus, T.C. said he would stop reading e-mail, so that he would not become infected. President Clinton has been advised by the National Health Council. He has had an emergency session with former presidents Bush, Reagan, Carter, Ford, and Lincoln. All agreed he should not quarantine the country. This is not being reported in the major news media to avoid panic. Anyone with symptoms is urged to seek help immediately. Experts recommend that at the first feelings of gullibility, Internet users rush to their favorite search engine and look up the item tempting them to thoughtless credence. Most hoaxes, legends, and tall tales have been widely discussed and exposed by the Internet community (see, for example, the web site www.snopes.com, which dispels a lot of so-called urban legends). Many companies have internal support groups to help employees minimize the impact of this terrible virus.

*******************************************************

Forward this message to all your friends right away! Don’t think about it! This is not a chain letter! This story is true! Don’t check it out! This story is so timely, there is no date on it! This story is so important, we’re using lots of exclamation points!!! For every message you forward to some unsuspecting person, the Home for the Hopelessly Gullible will donate ten cents to itself. (If you wonder how the Home will know you are forwarding these messages all over creation, you’re obviously thinking too much, and believe Bill Gates, Disney, and President Djibouti of Farentonia will send you $5000 for helping them test their new e-mail system.)


Is the Horse really Dead?

Indian tribal wisdom says that when you discover you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount. However, in business we often try other strategies with dead horses. See if any of these look familiar:

  • Buy a stronger whip
  • Change riders
  • Appoint a committee to study the horse
  • Move the horse to a new location
  • Provide status reports daily on the dead horse
  • Rename the dead horse
  • Create a training session to increase our ability to ride
  • Add more managers/supervisors per dead horse
  • Hire a consultant to give their opinion on dead horses
  • Promote the dead horse to a supervisory position
  • Terminate all live horses to redefine productivity
  • Arrange to visit other sites to benchmark how THEY ride dead horses
  • Provide an incentive bonus for the jockey Schedule a meeting with the dead horse to discuss his productivity problems
  • Do a cost analysis study to see if contractors can ride it cheaper
  • Hire another consultant to refute the first consultant’s opinion that the horse is really dead
  • Bring in a motivational speaker to see if you can’t get the horse to rise from the dead
  • Form a team, positioned to shift the horse’s paradigm

Finally, if all else fails,

  • Prop the horse up, put ribbons in his mane & tail, and see if you can’t find a buyer!!

One Less Thing To Worry About

April 14, 2000

The other night I happened to turn on an interview between a prominent journalist whom I’d never heard of and an apiary. Actually the journalist probably wasn’t that prominent–if he was he wouldn’t have been interviewing an apiary. He’s probably wrecked his career because from now on he’ll be known as "that apiary-interviewing guy", except to his friends and family who will continue to call him "Loser". Anyway, the topic of discussion was the dangerous African killer bees that, in the 1950’s, came to South America to escape persecution in their homeland. Because they had no natural predators, the bees flourished and, being ambitious and always on the lookout for better jobs, have been moving progressively northward where, if you believe prominent journalists, they will eventually wipe out the human population of North America.

The killer bees live in hives, are extremely aggressive, and will attack with the slightest provocation. And ever since the 1970’s, they’ve been appearing in bad movies which convinced me and anyone else who didn’t already have enough to worry about that killer bees were, with global thermonuclear war, the greatest threat to human life on the planet. Then the Soviet Union collapsed and I’ve had nothing else to be afraid of but killer bees.

Unfortunately the apiary in his interview revealed that killer bees, being tropical, can’t survive harsh winters, and, due to interbreeding, will eventually pick up the characteristic docility of native bees. The prominent journalist, disappointed that all those people who made fun of him as a child will not die horribly from multiple bee stings, then turned to the camera and assured viewers that we can still worry about radon, cholesterol, nuclear waste, explosive landfills, political destabilization in the Baltic states, Africa, parts of the Middle East, parts of the Midwest, and southern Asia, giant asteroids on collision courses with the Earth, and the remote possibility that giant starfish may one day crawl out of the ocean and kill us all.

Personally I was a lot happier with the bees.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


If the World was a Village

Version #1 (shorter version)

If we could shrink the Earth’s population to a village of precisely 100 people with all existing ratios remaining the same, it would look like this:

  • There would be 57 Asians, 21 Europeans, 14 from the Western Hemisphere (North and South) and 8 Africans.
  • 51 would be female; 49 would be male.
  • 70 would be non-white; 30 white.
  • 70 would be non-Christian; 30 Christian.
  • 50% of the entire world’s wealth would be in the hands of only 6 people and all 6 would be citizens of the United States.
  • 80 would live in substandard housing.
  • 70 would be unable to read.
  • 50 would suffer from malnutrition.
  • 1 would be near death, 1 would be near birth.
  • Only 1 would have a college education.
  • No one would own a computer.

When one considers our world from such an incredibly compressed perspective, the need for both tolerance and understanding becomes glaringly apparent….

Version #2 (longer version)

If the world were a village of 1,000 people, it would include:

  • 584 Asians
  • 124 Africans
  • 95 East and West Europeans
  • 84 Latin Americans
  • 55 Soviets (including, for the moment, Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians, etc.)
  • 52 North Americans
  • 6 Australians and New Zealanders

The people of the village have considerable difficulty communicating:

  • 165 people speak Mandarin (Chinese)
  • 86 English
  • 83 Hindu/Urdu
  • 64 Spanish
  • 58 Russian
  • 37 Arabic

That list accounts for the mother tongues of only half the villagers. The other half speak (in descending order of frequency) Bengali, Portuguese, Indonesian, Japanese, German, French, and 200 other languages.

In this village of 1,000 there are:

  • 329 Christians (187 Catholics, 84 Protestants, 31 Orthodox)
  • 178 Moslems
  • 167 "non-religious"
  • 132 Hindus
  • 60 Buddhists
  • 45 atheists
  • 3 Jews
  • 86 all other religions

One-third (330) of the 1,000 people in the world village are children and only 60 are over the age of 65. Half the children are immunized against preventable infectious diseases such as measles and polio. Just under half of the married women in the village have access to and use modern contraceptives.

The first year, 28 babies are born, That year, 10 people die, 3 of them for lack of food, 1 from cancer; two of the deaths are of babies born within the year. One person of the 1,000 is infected with the HIV virus; that person most likely has not yet developed a full-blown case of AIDS.

With the 28 births and 10 deaths, the population of the village in the second year is 1,018.

In this 1,000-person community, 200 people receive 75% of the income; another 200 receive only 2% of the income.

Only 70 people of the 1,000 own an automobile (although some of the 70 own more than one automobile).

About one-third have access to clean, safe drinking water.

Of the 670 adults in the village, half are illiterate.

The village has six acres of land per person, 6000 acres in all, of which: 

  • 700 acres are cropland
  • 1,400 acres are pasture
  • 1,900 acres are woodland
  • 2,000 acres are desert, tundra, pavement (and other wasteland)

The woodland is declining rapidly; the wasteland is increasing. The other land categories are roughly stable.

The village allocates 83% of its fertilizer to 40% of its cropland — that owned by the richest and best-fed 270 people. Excess fertilizer running off this land causes pollution in lakes and wells. The remaining 60 % of the land, with its 17% of the fertilizer, produces 28% of the food grains and feeds for 73% of the people. The average grain yield on that land is one-third the harvest achieved by the richer villagers.

In the village of 1,000 people, there are:

  • 5 soldiers
  • 7 teachers
  • 1 doctor
  • 3 refugees driven from home by war or drought.

The village has a total budget each year, public and private, of over $3 million — $3,000 per person if it were distributed evenly. Of the total $3 million:

  • $181,000 goes to weapons and warfare
  • $159,000 for education
  • $132,000 for health care

The village has buried beneath it enough explosive power in nuclear weapons to blow itself to smithereens many times over. These weapons are under the control of just 100 of the people. The other 900 are watching them with deep anxiety, wondering whether they can learn to get along together; and, if they do, whether they might set off the weapons anyway through inattention to technical bungling. And if they ever decide to dismantle the weapons, where in the world village would they dispose of the radioactive materials of which the weapons are made?

Taken from "If the World Were a Village" by Donella H. Meadows. The Millennium Whole Earth Catalog.

For this information and more, see the World Village Website.

Natural Selection: The Show!

April 7, 2000

Right now the two most popular things on television are game shows and wrestling. (No, I’m not kidding. I’m not even exaggerating.) In my latest hare-brained scheme to escape my workaday librarian’s life, I’ve come up with a new show that actually combines both. The principle of the show will be based on natural selection. In fact, it’ll be called Natural Selection.

Here’s how it works: ten contestants will work with each other to complete a round of "general knowledge" questions. (This means they’ll be asked questions about movies, sports, television, and maybe once in a while something vaguely scientific, such as, "What gas do we breathe to stay alive?") At the end of the round the ten contestants will then compete for the pool of money by making threatening speeches at each other. The six contestants who can’t roll their eyes menacingly and say things like, "I’m gonna crush my opponent like an overripe grape!" and squeeze their hands together without laughing will be eliminated. This means that Natural Selection will follow modern game shows which, unlike the classic ones that pit individuals against great odds, instead force people to cooperate then immediately turn around and humiliate each other and themselves. (The fact that "reality based" shows are only slightly less popular than wrestling and game shows proves that most people basically want to see human beings demolish each other, either emotionally or physically. But then this has always been considered entertainment from the Roman amphitheatre to the Salem witch trials.)

The remaining four can then use the money they’ve won to buy outrageous costumes, two-by-fours, folding chairs, and tazer guns. (Hey, we’ve gotta step these things up a notch, right?) They’ll be divided up into tag teams and sent into the ring. Here’s the best part: the winners will be married in a formal ceremony and a camera crew will follow them on their honeymoon. The loser will be the first person to file for divorce, but, as compensation, will be granted a free restraining order.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


You Know You’re Born and Raised in Small-Town Idaho When. . .

  • During a storm you check the cattle before you check the kids.
  • You are related to more than half the town.
  • You can tell the difference between a horse and a cow from a distance.
  • Your car breaks down outside of town and news of it gets back to town before you do.
  • Without thinking, you wave to all oncoming traffic.
  • You don’t buy all your vegetables at the grocery store.
  • You don’t put too much effort into hairstyles due to wind and weather.
  • There’s a tornado warning and the whole town is outside watching for it.
  • The local gas station sells live bait.
  • You go to the State Fair for your family vacation.
  • You get up at 5:30 am and go down to the coffee shop.
  • You’re on a first name basis with the county sheriff.
  • When little smokies are something you serve on special occasions.
  • You have the number of the Co-op on speed dial.
  • All your radio-preset buttons are country.
  • You try to find the cheapest room rates when going out of town.
  • Using the elevator involves a grain truck.
  • Your mayor is also your garbage hauler, barber, and insurance salesman.
  • You know you should listen to the weather forecast before picking out an outfit.
  • You call the wrong number and talk to the person for an hour anyway.
  • Your excuse for getting out of school is that the cows got out.
  • You know cow pies aren’t made of beef.
  • You wake up when it’s dark and go to bed when it’s still light.
  • You listen to "Paul Harvey" every day at noon.
  • You can tell it’s a farmer working late in his field and not a UFO.
  • Your nearest neighbor is in the next area code.
  • You know the difference between field corn and sweet corn when they are still on the stalk.
  • You know the code names for everyone on the CB.
  • You can eat an ear of corn with no utensils in under 20 seconds.
  • You wear your boots to church.
  • It takes 30 seconds to reach your destination and it’s clear across town.
  • You can tell the smell of a skunk and the smell of feedlot apart.
  • The meaning of true love is that you’ll ride in the tractor with him.
  • You go to Wal-Mart for your Saturday shopping.
  • Your main drag in town is two blocks long.
  • You defend the beauty of being able to see the next town which is 20 miles away.

Deal of the Century

March 31, 2000

I’m going crazy. I know, you’re sitting there thinking, He’s coming to this conclusion a little late, isn’t he? Besides, we’re all a little kooky, even though eccentrics insist on having their own private club. But I’ve seen a sign that I’m dangerously close to cracking up: I almost bought something I saw in an infomercial. All the signs were there: it was a TV show preceded by a message from the network that said, "This is a paid advertisement. We don’t endorse this product, and you probably shouldn’t either." The name of the show was "Wondrous Inventions of Science" and was hosted by a guy with bad teeth and badly permed hair. (Never, ever buy anything from anyone whose hair looks like overcooked rotini.) He also had a sidekick with an English accent who interrupted everything to rush in and tell the host what a great deal he had. The deal was then booed by the audience who, strangely enough, kept looking up, as though there were instructions being held up over their heads. (Obviously the instructions weren’t the only things over their heads.) The sidekick made the deal better, and the audience, looking slightly confused and not so certain, booed again. This went on about fourteen times. Finally the deal was so great the audience gave it a standing ovation.

I have no idea what the product itself was, but what I believe put the deal over the edge was when the English guy included a free thumbtack. Anyway, I might not be around the next couple of weeks because I’m checking myself into a hospital for observation. But wait ’til you hear about the deal I got on medication!

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


THE 15 CARDINAL RULES OF DRIVING IN NASHVILLE

  1. A right lane construction closure is just a game to see how many people can cut in line by passing you on the right as you sit in the left lane waiting for the same idiots to squeeze their way back in before hitting construction barrels. Bonus points are awarded for getting out of your car and moving the barrels.
  2. Turn signals provide clues as to your next move in the road battle, so never use them.
  3. Under no circumstances should you leave a safe distance between you and the car in front of you, no matter how fast you’re going. If you do, the space will be filled in by somebody else, putting you in an even more dangerous situation.
  4. The faster you drive through a red light, the less likely your chance of getting hit.
  5. The car with the most extensive body work automatically has the right of way.
  6. Braking is to be done as hard and late as possible, to insure that your antilock braking system kicks in. This will give you a nice, relaxing foot massage as the brake pedal pulsates.
  7. Construction signs are carefully positioned to tell you about road closures immediately after you pass the last opportunity to exit, but just before the traffic begins to back up.
  8. Never pass on the left when you can pass on the right. It’s a good way to scare people entering the highway. Passing on the shoulder is encouraged – that’s why they’re paved.
  9. Speed limits are arbitrary figures to make Tennessee look as if it conforms with other state policies. They are intended only as suggestions and are, in fact, unenforceable.
  10. Just because you’re in the left lane and have no room to speed up or move over doesn’t mean that a driver flashing his high beams behind you doesn’t think he can go faster in your spot.
  11. Always slow down and rubberneck when you see an accident or even a person changing a tire. If you’re lucky, you may see the unlucky breakdown victim get mugged.
  12. Learn to swerve abruptly. Nashville is the home of very high-speed slalom driving, thanks to the Tennessee Department of Transportation, which puts potholes in key locations to test drivers’ reflexes and keep them on their toes. Parts of truck tires are left on new highways where potholes haven’t yet been established for the same purpose. The orange barrels are for special slalom events as they are reserved only for the most highly skilled in slalom driving when competitions are held at night.
  13. Seeking eye contact with another driver automatically revokes your right of way.
  14. Giving on obscene gesture may invite armed retaliation. Be sure that your rifle is on the gun rack in the rear window (and therefore visible), rather than lying on the seat, and in range to pick up easily.
  15. When in doubt, remember that all unmarked exits lead to Old Hickory Blvd. FOR THOSE OF YOU NON-NASHVILLIANS, "OLD HICKORY BLVD." WAS TO HAVE CIRCLED THE CITY AT ONE TIME, BUT IT’S CUSTOMARY FOR NASHVILLE ROAD ENGINEERS TO DRINK WHILE THEY WORK. REGARDLESS OF WHAT SIDE OF TOWN YOU LIVE YOU HAVE AN OLD HICKORY BLVD.

Bleep!

March 24, 2000

When criticized for the use of vulgar language in his standup act, the comedian Buddy Hackett explained that, if you drop an anvil on your foot, you’re not going to say, "Spring is here!" You’re probably going to say something that, on most television stations, would get bleeped. (At least in the United States. Other countries are more interested in editing out exploding heads than expletives, but everybody’s heard this. In fact, you can turn on MTV and hear rock stars saying, "Man, in [bleep]in’ other countries you can say [bleep] on TV and they don’t give a [bleep]. Now [bleep]in’ violence they won’t show." This sort of statement is usually part of the rock star’s explanation that his new video, featuring numerous exploding heads, is "not really about violence.")

Now, I’m not in favor of censorship, but there is a disturbing trend in television these days: the excessive use of the bleep. I hear people being bleeped in sitcoms, cartoons, and even commercials. (I won’t mention talk shows. If your friend, lover, sibling, cousin, or even a complete stranger wants to be on a talk show with you, you’re going to say, "Spring is here!" before the security guards haul you off.) And we all know what they’re saying. These are words I’ve been using since I was ten. Before that I didn’t use them because, having seen what happened to people on TV when they said [bleep], I was afraid a giant cartoon hand would slap a "Censored" sticker on my face. By the time I was sixteen I’d learned it was much funnier, after dropping an anvil on my foot, to say, "Aw, shhhaving cream." By the time I was eighteen, I already knew what Kurt Vonnegut would later put in one of his books: swearing doesn’t make you sound important. It doesn’t even offend people. It just gives them a reason not to listen to you.

Swearing effectively requires a special context. I once heard a comedian say, "If you get in the highway fast lane, you’d better move your ass." The audience found this funny. It wasn’t. When a friend of mine at the zoo saw a donkey and said, "Hey, nice ass!"–that was funny. The fact that a nun with a group of children overheard him made it even funnier.

Then there was my friend Mike, the cautious one, who, when he got angry would let loose with the following stream of invective: "GOSH! I SWEAR, THIS REALLY TICKS ME OFF, YOU BIG DUMMIES! SHOOT!" This was proof to me that you don’t need to be vulgar to be funny. (In fact my other friends and I would taunt Mike until his face would turn red, and we’d all back off and say, "Uh oh, I think he’s about to swear!" There was nothing funnier than ticking off Mike.)

To sum up, my mother used to tell me, "If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all." Let’s amend that slightly: if you can’t offend someone, don’t bother trying. Anybody who won’t automatically shut you out as soon as you say [bleep] isn’t going to be offended, and anybody who will isn’t worth talking to.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


MONDAY – My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while I am forced to eat dry cereal. The only thing that keeps me going is the hope of escape, and the satisfaction from ruining the occasional piece of furniture. Tomorrow I may eat another houseplant.

TUESDAY – Today my attempt to kill my captors by weaving around their feet while they were walking almost succeeded, must try this at the top of the stairs. In an attempt to disgust and repulse these vile oppressors, I once again induced myself to throw up on their favorite chair…….must try this on their bed.

WEDNESDAY – Slept all day so that I could annoy my captors with sleep depriving, incessant pleas for food at ungodly hours of the night.

THURSDAY – Decapitated a mouse and brought them the headless body in an attempt to make them aware of what I am capable of, and to try to strike fear into their hearts. They only cooed and condescended about what a good little cat I was. Hmmm….not working according to plan…..

FRIDAY – I am finally aware of how sadistic they are. For no good reason I was chosen for the water torture. This time however, it included a burning foamy chemical called "shampoo". What sick minds could invent such a liquid?! My only consolation is the piece of thumb still stuck between my teeth.

SATURDAY – There was some sort of gathering of their accomplices. I was placed in solitary throughout the event. However, I overheard that my confinement was due to MY power of "allergies". Must learn what this is and how to use it to my advantage.

SUNDAY – I am convinced the other captives are flunkies and maybe snitches. The dog is routinely released and seems more than happy to return. He is obviously a half-wit. The Bird on the other hand has got to be an informant. He has mastered their frightful tongue (something akin to molespeak) and speaks with them regularly. I am certain he reports my every move. Due to his current placement in the metal room, his safety is assured. But I can wait, it is only a matter of time………

Been there, done that, left trash

March 18, 2000

In 1953 Sir Edmund Hillary became the first person to ascend to the peak of Mount Everest. When asked why he climbed it, so it’s said, he replied, "Because it’s there." Since then, many climbers have followed in his path, and all have left proof of their courage, their austerity, and their slovenliness. Yes, just about everybody who’s climbed Mount Everest in the past fifty years or so has left behind garbage. Everything from oxygen cannisters to foil tents to carbo-bar wrappers now dots the once pristine slopes of the world’s highest peak. In fact, the problem has gotten so bad that since 1992 several expeditions have set out with the purpose of bringing down some of that garbage. To which I ask, Why? It’s there. Why not leave it there?

Don’t we have enough garbage down here without bringing more off of some stupid mountain? I say more expeditions need to be made to take more garbage up there, but Mount Everest, or just about any mountain for that matter, is a lousy place for garbage. Mountains, to paraphrase Graham Chapman, climb steeply upward for a long way, then suddenly slope downward. These are not good places for garbage. The chances that anything left up there will be blown off and land on somebody are just too great. If you’ve ever seen anyone get hit by a falling oxygen cannister, you know what I mean. Nature, fortunately, has provided us with several wonderful potential dumping grounds. Here are a few:

  • The Grand Canyon: If you haven’t seen it by now, go buy a postcard. The Grand Canyon has been empty space for millions of years now. It’s about time we turn it into the world’s biggest landfill.
  • The Marianas Trench: Only two people have been to the bottom of this deepest point in the ocean. Two scientists made the descent of 35,800 feet (that’s deeper than Mt. Everest is tall) in 1960 and saw an 18-inch sea cucumber. Some have pointed to the presence of a giant echinoderm as evidence of a strange, fragile ecosystem far at the bottom of the ocean. I say it’s proof that the ocean is already using this chasm as a dumping ground, and it’s about time we landlubbers follow suit.
  • Antarctica: Since there’s already a hole in the ozone layer down there, a few million cubic tons of solid waste wouldn’t hurt. Sorting out the recyclable stuff would give the penguins something to do while they’re avoiding ultraviolet radiation.
  • The Moon: It’s cold, it’s dark, and there’s nothing to do. It’s just like North Dakota. The best part about the Moon is it’s a great jumping-off point for outer space itself, which is so incredibly big it’ll take us years to fill it up with garbage. We can start with columns like this one.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


Here are some of the "All Time Dumbest Questions Asked by Banff Park Tourists," as heard at the information kiosks manned by Parks Canada staff.

How do the elk know they’re supposed to cross at the "Elk Crossing" signs?

At what elevation does an elk become a moose?

Tourist: "How do you pronounce ‘Elk’?" Park Information Staff: " ‘Elk’ " Tourist: "Oh"

Are the bears with collars tame?

Is there anywhere I can see the bears pose?

Is it okay to keep an open bag of bacon on the picnic table, or should I store it in my tent?

Where can I find Alpine Flamingos?

I saw an animal on the way to Banff today – could you tell me what it was?

Are there birds in Canada?

Did I miss the turnoff for Canada?

Where does Alberta end and Canada begin?

Do you have a map of the State of Jasper?

Is this the part of Canada that speaks French, or is that Saskatchewan?

If I go to B.C., do I have to go through Ontario?

Which is the way to the Columbia Ricefields?

How far is Banff from Canada?

What’s the best way to see Canada in a day?

Do they search you at the B.C. border?

When we enter B.C. do we have to convert our money to British pounds?

Where can I buy a racoon hat? ALL Canadians own one don’t they?

Are there phones in Banff?

So it’s eight kilometres away… is that in miles? We’re on the decibel system you know.

Where can I get my husband really, REALLY, lost??

Is that 2 kilometres by foot or by car?

Don’t you Canadians know anything?

What Other Use?

March 10, 2000

"Not to be used for the other use." – instructions on a Korean kitchen knife

It’s recently been brought to my attention that duct tape (or, as it’s more appropriately called by some people, "duck tape") is good for just about anything but sealing ducts (for a complete article please see the Home Energy Article on Duct Tape).

Duct tape is defined as "any fabric-based tape with rubber adhesive", which apparently doesn’t include that mysterious black tape that bends light around it and cannot be cut with anything but very sharp industrial-strength scissors. Try to cut it with anything else, and it will simply expand, then take on a mysterious life of its own. Uncle Rupert once attempted to cut some of this tape with a rusty pocket knife. (He was building a bookshelf, although why he needed a bookshelf in the first place remains a mystery.) Within less than twenty minutes he was so hopelessly entangled that it took three local policemen to free him. The policemen declared that "duck tape" was almost as dangerous as Uncle Rupert himself. The bad news is that 90% of the homes in most first world nations are merely composites of "duck tape", drywall, and that sticky white stuff you use for filling in holes in drywall. Homes in less developed nations have to use less reliable materials such as wood and concrete. The good news is that no one has ever actually seen "duck tape" being used on ducts of any type. It’s more often used to hold up supporting walls, fire extinguishers, and to keep small children quiet. And, as Uncle Rupert and his buddies on the police force will tell you, its name is well-earned: it’s as useful for catching ducks as bright spotlights are for catching deer.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


After Quasimodo’s death, the bishop of the cathedral of Notre Dame sent word through the streets of Paris that a new bellringer was needed. The bishop decided that he would conduct the interviews personally and went up into the belfry to begin the screening process. After observing several applicants demonstrate their skills, he decided to call it a day when a lone, armless man approached him and announced that he was there to apply for the bellringer’s job.

The bishop was incredulous."You have no arms!"

"No matter," said the man, "Observe!" He then began striking the bells with his face, producing a beautiful melody on the carillon. The bishop listened in astonishment, convinced that he had finally found a suitable replacement for Quasimodo. Suddenly, rushing forward to strike a bell, the armless man tripped, and plunged headlong out of the belfry window to his death in the street below.

The stunned bishop rushed to his side. When he reached the street, a crowd had gathered around the fallen figure, drawn by the beautiful music they had heard only moments before.

As they silently parted to let the bishop through, one of them asked, "Bishop, who was this man?”

"I don’t know his name," the bishop sadly replied, "but his face rings a bell."

(but wait, there’s more…)

The following day, despite the sadness that weighed heavily on his heart due to the unfortunate death of the armless campanologist (now there’s a trivia question), the bishop continued his interviews for the bellringer of Notre Dame. The first man to approach him said, "Your excellency, I am the brother of the poor, armless wretch that fell to his death from this very belfry yesterday. I pray that you honor his life by allowing me to replace him in this duty."

The bishop agreed to give the man an audition, and as the armless man’s brother stooped to pick up a mallet to strike the first bell, he groaned, clutched at his chest and died on the spot.

Two monks, hearing the bishop’s cries of grief at this second tragedy, rushed up the stairs to his side.

"What has happened?", the first breathlessly asked, "Who is this man?"

(Wait for it…)

"I don’t know his name," sighed the distraught bishop, "but he’s a dead ringer for his brother."

You Have 2 New Woofs

March 3, 2000

I know I’ve said in the past that I hate telephones, that I think they’re an instrument of evil, that Alexander Graham Bell was a technological Tamerlane, but lately I’ve had a change of heart. (Partly because I thought disliking telephones would make me "eccentric", but really it just made me "out of touch".) Admittedly, talking on the telephone for an extended period for some strange reason makes my ear sweat, and when the sweat hits the cold plastic it drops to a temperature just above freezing, and talking to someone’s disembodied voice coming out of a speakerphone is almost as creepy as talking to someone’s disembodied voice coming out of a little piece of molded plastic. But telephones are a nice way to actually hear the voices of friends I don’t get to see very often, and, in the normal workday, telephones can transport me to new and magical worlds. Anyone who’s had to call any organization knows the joy of being put on hold and listening to a message that says, "Please stay on the line. You’re call isn’t that important to us, but we have an office poll going to see just how many morons we can get on hold at one time." And then there are the actual human beings who are always delightful and interesting. Take for instance the following conversation I had just the other day:

(The phone rings. Unidentified Person picks up.)
UP: Ughl?
Me: Good afternoon. Is this the headquarters for the International Society of Little Tiny Metallic Objects Engineering?
UP: Ughl. Hugh?
Me: I’m trying to reach the headquarters for the International Society of Little Tiny Metallic Objects Engineering.
UP: Ughl. No.
(Click. Dial tone.)

Then there was what I saw outside the building where I work: a dog had been tied to the bicycle stand by the entrance, but his kind and thoughtful owner had left a cellular phone clipped to his collar. Maybe the owner thought that if the dog got in trouble, he could call for help. Or maybe he, the dog, was just planning to check his voice mail.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


MARTHA STEWART’S TIPS FOR REDNECKS

GENERAL

  1. Never take a beer to a job interview.
  2. Always identify people in your yard before shooting at them.
  3. It’s considered tacky to take a cooler to church.
  4. If you have to vacuum the bed, it is time to change the sheets.
  5. Even if you’re certain that you are included in the will, it is still considered tacky to drive a U-Haul to the funeral home.

DINING OUT

  1. When decanting wine, make sure that you tilt the paper cup, and pour slowly so as not to "bruise" the fruit of the vine.
  2. If drinking directly from the bottle, always hold it with your fingers covering the label.

ENTERTAINING IN YOUR HOME

  1. A centerpiece for the table should never be anything prepared by a taxidermist.
  2. Do not allow the dog to eat at the table…no matter how good his manners are.

PERSONAL HYGIENE

  1. While ears need to be cleaned regularly, this is a job that should be done in private using one’s OWN truck keys.
  2. Proper use of toiletries can forestall bathing for several days. However, if you live alone, deodorant is a waste of good money.
    (Doesn’t Martha Stewart herself live alone?-CW)
  3. Dirt and grease under the fingernails is a social no-no, as they tend to detract from a woman’s jewelry and alter the taste of finger foods.

DATING (Outside the Family)

  1. Always offer to bait your date’s hook, especially on the first date.
  2. Be aggressive. Let her know you’re interested: "I’ve been wanting to go out with you since I read that stuff on the bathroom wall two years ago."
  3. Establish with her parents what time she is expected back. Some will say 10:00 PM; others might say "Monday." If the latter is the answer, it is the man’s responsibility to get her to school on time.
    (This is of course assuming she is under 16 and hasn’t dropped out of school for a lucrative stripping career.-CW)

THEATER ETIQUETTE

  1. Crying babies should be taken to the lobby and picked up immediately after the movie has ended.
    (I would say leave a cellular phone with them, but then this is rednecks we’re talking about.-CW)
  2. Refrain from talking to characters on the screen. Tests have proven they can’t hear you.
    (Interestingly rednecks have a similar problem: they can’t hear anything they don’t want to.-CW)

WEDDINGS

  1. Livestock, usually, is a poor choice for a wedding gift.
  2. Kissing the bride for more than 5 seconds may get you shot.
    (Especially if she’s you’re sister.-CW)
  3. For the groom, at least, rent a tux. A leisure suit with a cummerbund and a clean bowling shirt can create a tacky appearance.
  4. Though uncomfortable, say "yes" to socks and shoes for this special occasion.

DRIVING ETIQUETTE

  1. Dim your headlights for approaching vehicles; even if the gun is loaded, and the deer is in sight.
  2. When approaching a four-way stop, the vehicle with the largest tires always has the right of way.
  3. Never tow another car using panty hose and duct tape.
  4. When sending your wife down the road with a gas can, it is impolite to ask her to bring back beer.
  5. Do not lay rubber while traveling in a funeral procession.

It’s All In How You Look

February 25, 2000

Occasionally I find a gray hair on my head, but it never happens often enough. I know you’re probably thinking, Who really wants gray hair? Who wants hair that’ll make them look older than they really are? Well, considering that I’m nearly thirty and still get asked to show my ID whenever I buy an alcoholic beverage, I’d like to at least look my age. But the fact is I want to look old, dignified, and…eccentric. You may not realize this, but there’s a whole organization of eccentrics. They’re called Eccentrics International, and I’ve been trying to get in for years. I’m being discriminated against because of my age–in every other respect I’m a shoe-in. Here’s the latest rejection letter:

Dear Mr. Waldrop,

Thank you for you interest in Eccentrics International. At first you seemed like an excellent candidate. Members had actually spotted you skipping on your way to work, and, as interviews with friends and coworkers have revealed, many people consider you eccentric. Your opinions on religion are unusual, but too widely held to be a factor. However, your unreasonable prejudices against elks, chimney sweeps, and people from North Dakota were more than enough to compensate. Your off-color jokes (including, "My sister was a nun until she found out what ‘nun’ meant") interspersed with references to subjects ranging from quantum physics to Abbott and Costello, make you exactly the sort of individual our club looks for. We were especially interested in the fact that you dismiss horoscopes as nonsense, yet read them religiously. Unfortunately, your age precludes you from joining us, Mr. Waldrop. When someone over the age of sixty behaves as you do, he is eccentric. When someone your age behaves in a similar manner, he’s, well, a jerk. Thank you for your application. Look us up in thirty years.

Well, maybe Groucho Marx was on to something when he said, "I would never belong to any club that would have me as a member."

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


So this guy who works at an aquarium gets called in by his boss. She says, "The dolphins are behaving like they’re in a porno flick, and we’ve got a busload of kindergartners and the head of Citizens For Animal Decency on their way here. The only thing that will turn off those dolphins is baby seagulls, so I want you to run down to the beach and get some. But be careful. A lion escaped a few minutes ago, and though they hit it with a tranquilizer, it still got out." So the guy runs down the beach, gets some baby seagulls, and starts to head back. But on the way he sees the lion right in the middle of his path. It seems to be sound asleep, so he steps over it. Just then, a policeman arrests him. "Sir," the policeman says, "you can’t transport young gulls across a sedate lion for immoral porpoises!"

What’s Next–Soybeans?

February 18, 2000

The other morning on the radio I heard that scientists are currently working on a peanut vaccine. At first I thought maybe this was for a new strain of the plague that caused the lymph nodes to swell into a peanut shape, or that maybe it had something to do with the philosophical comic-strip "Peanuts" which ceased on the same day its author, Charles Schultz, passed away after nearly half a century of cartooning. (Although it should say something that in Europe existential questions were posed in the plays of Pirandello and the novels of Camus while in America they were found on the comics page of the newspaper, I still find more existential depth in two pages of "A Flying Ace Needs a Lot of Root Beer" than in all of "Being and Nothingness".) As it turned out, scientists really are working on the noble venture of vaccinating people against peanuts–the legumes. Technically they’re really working to provide a vaccine for people who are allergic to peanuts. In addition to having severe reactions to peanut oil and other peanut-derived products, people with peanut allergy also cannot fly on planes because flight attendants routinely pry passengers’ mouths open and force-feed them honey-roasted goodness. Although it’s led to many tragic accidents, this practice is necessary because only flight attendants have the high-power lasers that are the only instrument capable of opening those little bags of peanuts they give out on flights. I’m just glad that, with all the life-threatening diseases, undiscovered species lost to habitat destruction, and seemingly limitless applications of aspirin, there are scientists who can dedicate themselves to making sure a fraction of the population can safely enjoy peanut butter.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


George Carlin Quotes

  1. One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor.
  2. Atheism is a non-prophet organization.
  3. If man evolved from monkeys and apes, why do we still have monkeys and apes?
  4. I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, "Where’s the self-help section?" She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.
  5. Could it be that all those trick-or-treaters wearing sheets aren’t going as ghosts but as mattresses?
  6. If a deaf/signing person swears, does his mother wash his hands with soap?
  7. If a man is standing in the middle of the forest speaking and there is no woman around to hear him is he still wrong?
  8. If someone with multiple personalities threatens to kill himself, is it considered a hostage situation?
  9. Is there another word for synonym?
  10. Isn’t it a bit unnerving that doctors call what they do "practice?"
  11. Where do forest rangers go to "get away from it all?"
  12. What do you do when you see an endangered animal eating an endangered plant?
  13. If a parsley farmer is sued, can they garnish his wages?
  14. Would a fly without wings be called a walk?
  15. Why do they lock gas station bathrooms? Are they afraid someone will clean them?
  16. If a turtle doesn’t have a shell, is he homeless or naked?
  17. Why don’t sheep shrink when it rains?
  18. Can vegetarians eat animal crackers?
  19. If the police arrest a mime, do they tell him he has the right to remain silent?
  20. Why do they put Braille on the drive-through bank machines?
  21. Why is it called tourist season if we can’t shoot at them?
  22. How do they get the deer to cross at that yellow road sign?
  23. Is it true that cannibals don’t eat clowns because they taste funny?
  24. What was the best thing before sliced bread?
  25. One nice thing about egotists: they don’t talk about other people.
  26. To be intoxicated is to feel sophisticated, but not be able to say it.
  27. Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.
  28. The older you get, the better you realize you were.
  29. Age is a very high price to pay for maturity.
  30. Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday.
  31. Women like silent men, they think they’re listening.
  32. Men are from earth, women are from earth. Deal with it.
  33. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.
  34. Do pediatricians play miniature golf on Wednesdays?
  35. Before they invented drawing boards, what did they go back to?
  36. If all the world is a stage, where is the audience sitting?
  37. If one synchronized swimmer drowns, do the rest have to drown?
  38. If the #2 pencil is the most popular, why is it still #2?
  39. If work is so terrific, how come they have to pay you to do it?
  40. If you ate pasta and antipasta, would you still be hungry?
  41. If you try to fail, and succeed, which have you done?