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I’d Rather Be In Philadelphia

March 16, 2001

For years I thought it was a joke that you could have your head (or, if you’re wealthy enough, your entire body) frozen after death to be revived at some unknown point in the future. It turns out that there really is an institute where, for $35,000, you can be preserved until that future arrives–or until the power goes out, or the place is vaporized by aliens, or whatever else might happen. And you have to assume, of course, that they’ve not only found a way to revive people, but that they can fix cellular damage that’s the inevitable result of freezing, and presumably even reverse the effects of old age.

Of course I haven’t been able to find out whether such luminaries as Andy Warhol and Walt Disney really are among the ones taking up freezer space, but if that’s true, then it just confirms that all the interesting dead people, the ones you’d like to meet, are just dead, while the not-so-interesting ones are planning on a comeback.

Actually Uncle Walt continues to spread his particular brand of psychosis through the magic of video, and we’re confronted by the ghost of Warhol anytime we buy tomato soup–but I digress. Of course the concept is tempting. In addition to providing plot material for a really bad Star Trek episode (which featured three people so annoying they were promptly re-frozen) and a pretty good X-Files episode, having one’s body frozen after death does have its appeal. Someday you might be revived in a future world where no one needs cell phones anymore because they’ve all got flying cars, science has finally perfected fat-free cheese, and all the frozen people are being revived because the freezer-space is needed to build a mini-mall.

But one thing must give us pause: Anyone who wants to be revived in the future is saying, "What does the future have to offer me?" when they should be asking, "What do I have to offer the future?" Imagine it: three-hundred years from now, two big guys pull me out of the freezer, look at the nametag and say, "Chris…Waldrop…huh. Never heard of him." Next thing I know I’m a frozen entree for a group of giant annelids from the Pleiades. Personally I think I’d rather take my chances with just being dead.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


(Speaking of reviving things, this joke is being revived in honor of St.Patrick’s Day.–CW)

A man strolls into a pub on the West Coast of Ireland one night and orders three pints of Guinness then proceeds to drink all three sipping from each in turn until they’re gone. Then he orders three more pints.

The bartender tells him "Y’know, lad, the foam’ll stay better if you have me draw them one at a time."

"Bless you for your concern," the man replies, "but it’s a tradition. You see, m’ two brothers have moved to the New World… to Boston… and this is m’ way of remembering them. I pretend we’re all three here wearin’ down the events of the day and sharin’ our pints."

The bartender nods. He understands.

Over time the man becomes a ‘regular’ and all the other regulars grow to overlook his odd tradition. Then one fine Spring evening the man enters the pub and orders… two pints of Guinness. He sips the pints alternately until they’re gone, then orders two more.

As the bartender presents the second round he leans over and intones "Me an’ all the others here want to extend our deepest condolences on the loss of your dear brother."

Pat looks surprised and then realizes what the bartender is thinking.

"Thank you for your kindness," he tells him, "but m’ brothers are in the finest of health and prosperin’ in their new country. I, m’self, have given up drink for Lent."

All Our Representatives Are Currently Incompetent

March 9, 2001

I’ve been on hold for over a year. I don’t mean that literally. The average on-hold call, with music that ranges from classical to cloying, and the regular interruptions of a recorded voice that says, "Please continue to hold. Our customer service representatives have an office bet going to see how long you’ll wait for one of them to be of no help whatsoever" lasts about seven minutes. There are 525,600 minutes in a year. Considering the number of times I’ve been put on hold, I think it’s probably a conservative estimate to say that, totalling up all those minutes, I’ve spent at least a year with a phone pressed against my ear waiting to talk to someone who was flipping burgers yesterday and who, by the end of the week, will be stocking grocery store shelves.

You’d think that with that amount of time I could have accomplished a lot. It’s been said that a thousand monkeys in a room with a thousand typewriters will eventually produce the works of William Shakespeare. I’ve had a whole year, and access to a computer during that time, so I should at least have produced the works of John Webster. The shocking thing is I’ve accomplished nothing. No one can do anything while on hold because you’re always waiting for the music to stop and someone at the other end to pick up. And I’m not sure that a thousand monkeys with a thousand typewriters will really accomplish any more than I have. There’s a lab in northern England that has been testing this theory. I’ve called to find out what the results are so far, but they’ve got me on hold.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


NEWS RELEASE

A major research institution has discovered the heaviest element known to science. This startling discovery has been tentatively named Administratium {Ad}.

This new element has no protons or electrons, thus having an atomic number of 0. It does, however, have 1 neutron, 125 assistant neutrons, 75 vice neutrons and 111 assistant vice neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312.

These 312 particles are held together by a force called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.

Since it has no electrons, Administratium is inert and difficult to observe directly. However, it can be detected as it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. According to the scientists who discovered it, a very minute amount of Administratium causes one reaction to take over four days to complete when it would normally take less than a second.

Administratium has a normal half-life of approximately three years. It does not decay as other elements in this reactive category do, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons, vice neutrons, and assistant vice neutrons exchange places.

In fact, an Administratium sample’s mass will actually increase over time, since with each reorganization, some of the morons inevitably become neutrons, forming new isotopes. This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to believe that Administratium is spontaneously formed whenever morons reach a certain quantity in concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as the "Critical Morass." You will know it when you see it…

Marching On

March 2, 2001

March is the month generally described as coming in like a lion and going out like a lamb, except in Madagascar where it comes in like a giant shrieking cockroach and goes out like a ring-tailed lemur. March is also Brain Awareness Month, which is why you might now hear some people saying, "March comes in like a dendrite and goes out like an axon." I have no idea who came up with this, or why we even need a Brain Awareness Month. Whoever came up with it is probably the same person who decided that January would be Hot Tea Month, June would be Iced Tea Month, November would be not only Peanut Butter Lovers Month but also Stamp Collecting Month, and that the third Wednesday of every September would be Hug A Molecule Day.

Why, for that matter, is Friday the 13th unlucky? It probably goes back to times when loan payments were due on the first of the month, and any month with a Friday the 13th always starts on a Sunday. People couldn’t get money to pay their loan payments because all the banks and businesses were closed on Sunday (this was before we became a 24-7 world), and since everyone rushed to get their money on Monday, a lot of people couldn’t make their payments until Tuesday. This meant they had to pay a couple of days’ extra interest.

Of course this would seem to make Sunday the 1st unlucky, but since Sunday is a day most people spend mowing their lawns, it seemed dangerous to make it unlucky. Monday is always unlucky because it’s the day people go back to work after suffering heat exhaustion while mowing their lawns on Sunday. Friday is the last day of the work week, so it was felt this would compensate for it being unlucky.

Also, some people have an unreasonable fear of the number 13 (this is true–it’s called triskaidekaphobia) so this particular date was singled out. Anyway, that doesn’t answer why we need a Brain Awareness Month, but there really isn’t an answer. If you’re aware of your brain, you’re aware of it all the time. If you’re not, not even a whole month will help you.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


Nike now lets you personalize your shoes by submitting a word or phrase which they will stitch onto your shoes, under the swoosh. So Jonah Peretti filled out the form and sent them $50 to stitch "SWEATSHOP" onto his shoes…


From: "Personalize, NIKE iD" 
To: "’Jonah H. Peretti’" 
Subject: RE: Your NIKE iD order o16468000

Your NIKE iD order was cancelled for one or more of the following reasons:

1) Your Personal iD contains another party’s trademark or other intellectual property
2) Your Personal iD contains the name of an athlete or team we do not have the legal right to use
3) Your Personal iD was left blank. Did you not want any personalization?
4) Your Personal iD contains profanity or inappropriate slang, and besides, your mother would slap us.

If you wish to reorder your NIKE iD product with a new  personalization please visit us again at www.nike.com

Thank you, NIKE iD


From: "Jonah H. Peretti" 
To: "Personalize, NIKE iD" 
Subject: RE: Your NIKE iD order o16468000

Greetings,

My order was canceled but my personal NIKE iD does not violate any of the criteria outlined in your message. The Personal iD on my custom ZOOM XC USA running shoes was the word "sweatshop."

Sweatshop is not:
1) another’s party’s trademark,
2) the name of an athlete,
3) blank, or
4) profanity.

I choose the iD because I wanted to remember the toil and labor of  the children that made my shoes. Could you please ship them to me immediately.

Thanks and Happy New Year, Jonah Peretti


From: "Personalize, NIKE iD" 
To: "’Jonah H. Peretti’" 
Subject: RE:  Your NIKE iD order o16468000

Dear NIKE iD Customer,

Your NIKE iD order was cancelled because the iD you have chosen contains, as stated in the previous e-mail correspondence, "inappropriate slang". If you wish to reorder your NIKE iD product  with a new personalization please visit us again at nike.com

Thank you, NIKE iD


From: "Jonah H. Peretti" 
To: "Personalize, NIKE iD" 
Subject: RE: Your NIKE iD order o16468000

Dear NIKE iD,

Thank you for your quick response to my inquiry about my custom ZOOM  XC USA running shoes. Although I commend you for your prompt customer service, I disagree with the claim that my personal iD was inappropriate slang. After consulting Webster’s Dictionary, I discovered that "sweatshop" is in fact part of standard English, and not slang.

The word means: "a shop or factory in which workers are employed for long hours at low wages and under unhealthy conditions" and its origin dates from 1892. So my personal iD does meet the criteria detailed  in your first email.

Your web site advertises that the NIKE iD program is "about freedom to choose and freedom to express who you are." I share Nike’s love of freedom and personal expression. The site also says that "If you want it done right… build it yourself." I was thrilled to be able to build my own shoes, and my personal iD was offered as a small token  of appreciation for the sweatshop workers poised to help me realize my vision. I hope that you will value my freedom of expression and reconsider your decision to reject my order.

Thank you, Jonah Peretti


From: "Personalize, NIKE iD" 
To: "’Jonah H. Peretti’" 
Subject: RE: Your NIKE iD order o16468000

Dear NIKE iD Customer,

Regarding the rules for personalization it also states on the NIKE iD web site that "Nike reserves the right to cancel any personal iD up to 24 hours after it has been submitted". In addition, it further explains:

"While we honor most personal iDs, we cannot honor every one. Some may be (or contain) other’s trademarks, or the names of certain professional sports teams, athletes or celebrities that Nike does not have the right to use. Others may contain material that we consider inappropriate or simply do not want to place on our products. Unfortunately, at times this obliges us to decline personal iDs that may otherwise seem unobjectionable. In any event, we will let you know if we decline your personal iD, and we will offer you the chance to submit another."

With these rules in mind, we cannot accept your order as submitted. If you wish to reorder your NIKE iD product with a new personalization please visit us again at www.nike.com

Thank you, NIKE iD


From: "Jonah H. Peretti" 
To: "Personalize, NIKE iD" 
Subject: RE: Your NIKE iD order o16468000

Dear NIKE iD,

Thank you for the time and energy you have spent on my request. I have decided to order the shoes with a different iD, but I would like to make one small request. Could you please send me a color snapshot of the ten-year-old Vietnamese girl who makes my shoes?

Thanks,
Jonah Peretti

Intellectual Disgrace

February 23, 2001

This is true: An anonymous group in Australia calling itself "Young People Against Poetry" is waging a war against, among other things, having to read 300-year old books. Presumably they’re including books like Newton’s "Principia", which has mathematical models still used by the space program, but, hey, if we’re going to toss out some old stuff, why not throw it all out, right?

Among other "actions" staged by the group, one of the most interesting was an airplane flying a banner over Brisbane with the slogan, "Poetry wrecks lives!" Poetry wrecks lives? Well, in 1955 when poets Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti were arrested on obscenity charges, the trial generated enough publicity to make them rich and famous. And we all know how much being rich and famous can ruin a person’s life. (On an interesting historical side note, Ginsberg and Ferlinghetti were only able to escape prosecution by invoking an obscure legal technicality called "The First Amendment", which has some sort of freedom of speech clause. Their case was also moved along speedily because Ginsberg insisted on coming to court naked.)

In fact, a lot of poets have trouble with being rich and famous. More specifically, their trouble is not being rich and famous. So why poetry? In the United States the number of crack cocaine users is probably higher than the number of people who regularly read poetry, which raises serious questions about the efficacy of both National Poetry Month and "Just say no to drugs" programs. (Drugs and poetry, by the way, do have a long history together. Very recently a police sting operation in a private home in England was extremely successful, despite the fact that the home’s resident, Samuel Coleridge, has been dead for 167 years.)

In Australia, where crocodile wrestling is a national pasttime and airplane banners serve to distract people from surfers being eaten by sharks, the number of poetry readers is probably much lower. I have a feeling it’s part of a conspiracy to get people to read poetry. Some poets talk about poetry as though it could solve world hunger, bring peace, save the rainforests, and prevent Mad Cow Disease. Despite this, very few people, especially young people, seem inclined to read it. Meanwhile, drugs, which we’re told repeatedly are bad for us, continue to be popular. When’s the last time you heard about kids being busted at a rave club for passing around copies of "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"? How often does someone get admitted to the hospital having overdosed on dactyls after a heavy night of Emily Dickinson? These Young People Against Poetry probably want this to happen, figuring that if they make poetry sound bad enough, people will throw away their syringes and head for the streets to score a few quatrains or some tercets. Either they’re very clever, or they’re all on drugs.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


(Poetry is bad for you? Get a load of this–apparently water is good for you. Who would have guessed it? –CW)

We all know that water is important but I’ve never seen it written down like this before.

75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. (Likely applies to half world pop.)

In 37% of Americans, the thirst mechanism is so weak that it is often mistaken for hunger.

Even MILD dehydration will slow down one’s metabolism as much as 3%.

One glass of water shut down midnight hunger pangs for almost 100% of the dieters studied in a U-Washington study.

Lack of water, the #1 trigger of daytime fatigue. (Work follows closely behind.)

Preliminary research indicates that 8-10 glasses of water a day could significantly ease back and joint pain for up to 80% of sufferers.

A mere 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math, and difficulty focusing on the computer screen or on a printed page.

Drinking 5 glasses of water daily decreases the risk of colon cancer by 45%, plus it can slash the risk of breast cancer by 79%, and one is 50% less likely to develop bladder cancer.

Are you drinking the amount of water you should every day?


COKE

No wonder Coke tastes soooo good:

  1. In many states (in the USA) the highway patrol carries two gallons of Coke in the truck to remove blood from the highway after a car accident.

  2. You can put a T-bone steak in a bowl of Coke and it will be gone in two days.

  3. To clean a toilet: Pour a can of Coca-Cola into the toilet bowl and …….Let the "real thing" sit for one hour, then flush clean. The citric acid in Coke removes stains from vitreous china.

  4. To remove rust spots from chrome car bumpers: Rub the bumper with a crumpled-up piece of aluminum foil dipped in Coca-Cola.

  5. To clean corrosion from car battery terminals: Pour a can of Coca-Cola over the terminals to bubble away the corrosion.

  6. To loosen a rusted bolt: Applying a cloth soaked in Coca-Cola to the rusted bolt for several minutes.

  7. To bake a moist ham: Empty a can of Coca-Cola into the baking pan, wrap the ham in aluminum foil, and bake. Thirty minutes before the ham is finished, Remove the foil, allowing the drippings to mix with the Coke for a sumptuous brown gravy. (You can then use the foil to clean the chrome on your car.)

  8. To remove grease from clothes: Empty a can of coke into a load of greasy clothes, add detergent, And run through a regular cycle. The Coca-Cola will help loosen grease stains. It will also clean road haze from your windshield.

FYI:

  1. The active ingredient in Coke is phosphoric acid. Its Ph is 2.8. It will dissolve a nail in about 4 days.

  2. To carry Coca-Cola syrup (the concentrate) the commercial truck must use the Hazardous material place cards reserved for Highly corrosive materials.

  3. The distributors of Coke have been using it to clean the engines of their trucks for about 20 years!

Still Want To Drink Up?

Love Is In The Air

February 16, 2001

I recently became reacquainted with cough syrup. This was not voluntary, but I’ve caught a painful, hacking cough this winter, and since it’s been several years since I last took cough syrup, I’ve forgotten how completely ineffective it was. The last time I took cough syrup, I might as well have swallowed some recycled transmission fluid. That’s what it tasted like, and it was about as good at stopping a cough. But when you’re coughing, can’t sleep, and have had all the hot tea you can stand, you’ll take just about anything. (Technically it’s not true that last night I couldn’t sleep. I just couldn’t sleep for more than fifteen minutes before I’d wake up coughing. This was just long enough for me to start dreaming. It was that same dream about being back in high school taking a chemistry exam, only this time I knew all the answers, and I was the only one who wasn’t naked.)

The cough syrups I used to take were all made from a mix of grain alcohol, morphine, purple food coloring, and maple syrup. This didn’t stop you from coughing, but at least for two to four hours you believed it wasn’t you coughing, but rather that giant banana that had mysteriously appeared in the corner of the room. It’s been so long since my last interaction with cough syrup that I thought some advancement might have been made. Medical science has, after all, made some progress in the past few years. They’ve almost but not quite sort of mapped the human genome, cloned a sheep, and developed a new strain of corn that is absolutely lethal to butterflies. There are even several new cough syrups that taste like bubble gum, grape soda, and broiled grouper.

Now that I have a "persistent cough" which theoretically will be cured by cough syrup, I find that only childrens’ cough syrups come in nice flavors. This is one of the FDA’s cruel tricks: they withheld all the good tasting medicines until I became old enough to not take them anymore. Actually they instituted rigorous new standards which state that cough medicine can’t contain anything remotely effective for stopping coughs. This was mainly done for the benefit of the cough syrup industry, which can now charge astronomical prices for tiny bottles of grape soda and liquefied bubble gum for children with gullible parents, and tiny bottles of recycled transmission fluid to even more gullible adults.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


[I know Valentine’s Day has passed, but it’s probably just as well. I can’t think of anything less romantic than cough syrup. Anyway, here are some perennial thoughts on the subject of love.–CW]

A group of professional people posed this question to a group of four-through eight-year-olds, "What does love mean?" The answers they got were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined. See what you think:

Love is that first feeling you feel before all the bad stuff gets in the way.

When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.

When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You know that your name is safe in their mouth.

Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.

Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your french fries without making them give you any of theirs.

Love is when someone hurts you. And you get so mad but you don’t yell at them because you know it would hurt their feelings.

Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.

Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.

Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My mommy and daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss.

Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.

If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate.

Love is hugging. Love is kissing. Love is saying no

When you tell someone something bad about yourself and you’re scared they won’t love you anymore. But then you get surprised because not only do they still love you, they love you even more

Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday.

Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.

During my piano recital, I was on a stage and scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn’t scared anymore.

My mommy loves me more than anybody. You don’t see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night.

Love is when mommy gives daddy the best piece of chicken.

Love is when mommy sees daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford.

Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.

I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones.

I let my big sister pick on me because my Mom says she only picks on me because she loves me. So I pick on my baby sister because I love her.

Love cards like Valentine’s cards say stuff on them that we’d like to say ourselves, but we wouldn’t be caught dead saying.

When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.

You really shouldn’t say I love you unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.

Fish Story

February 9, 2001

Norway, which has done more than its fair share in depleting the world’s fish and whale populations, recently became the location for an extraordinary act of aquatic generosity. I’m talking about a blind cod that fishermen had caught forty times. The fishermen thought it was extraordinary that this fish could be caught so regularly, while the cod just wished the fishermen would stop dropping their nets in exactly the same spot. Each time the fishermen threw him back, but the poor cod’s dark glasses, red-tipped cane, and little tin cup finally melted their hard, Scandinavian hearts, and they decided they would eat him. No, actually, they took a break from gutting and decapitating his family, and had him transported in a special tank to an aquarium where he could live the rest of his life in comfort with a halibut named–I’m not making this up–Big Mama. I don’t want to know what they’re doing for Valentine’s Day.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


Just Turned 50

A man has reached middle age when he is cautioned to slow down by his doctor instead of by the police.

Don’t worry about avoiding temptation. As you grow older, it will avoid you.

Statistics show that at the age of seventy, there are five women to every man. Isn’t that the darnedest time for a guy to get those odds?

You’re getting old when you wake up with that morning-after feeling, and you didn’t do anything the night before.

At my age, "getting a little action" means I don’t need to take a laxative.

It’s hard to be nostalgic when you can’t remember anything.

Middle age is when you have stopped growing at both ends, and have begun to grow in the middle.

The aging process could be slowed down if it had to work its way through Congress.

You’re getting old when getting lucky means you find your car in the parking lot.

You’re getting old when you’re sitting in a rocker and you can’t get it started.

By the time a man is wise enough to watch his step, he’s too old to go anywhere.

Maybe it’s true that life begins at fifty. But everything else starts to wear out, fall out, or spread out.

The cardiologist’s diet: if it tastes good, spit it out.

You know you’re into middle age when you realize that caution is the only thing you care to exercise.

You’re getting old when your wife gives up sex for Lent, and you don’t know till the 4th of July.

Doctor to patient: I have good news and bad news: the good news is that you are not a hypochondriac.

There are three signs of old age. The first is your loss of memory, the other two I forget….

Which Way To Bismarck?

February 2, 2001

Some people have asked me what I have against North Dakota.

Apparently they’re referring to certain remarks I’ve made about that state. For example, I compared North Dakota to the moon, saying they’re both cold, dark, and have nothing to do. I confess this is a little bit unfair of me, since I’ve never actually been to North Dakota, but when you think about it, how many people actually have?

I’ve known three people from North Dakota–I think that represents about 10% of the population, and they’ve all told me the same thing: People move to North Dakota to get away from other people. In North Dakota, I’ve been told, neighbors are people who live less than twenty-five miles away. If someone moves to within five miles of you, they’re squatting in your backyard. If you can see another house, those people are uncomfortably close.

Can you name one national landmark in North Dakota? Can you even name the capitol of North Dakota? (If you recognized it in this message, score yourself five bonus points.) If it weren’t for the movie "Fargo", would you even know there’s a city in North Dakota called Fargo? You probably don’t even know that North Dakota leads the nation in the production of flaxseed. I haven’t been able to find out what North Dakota’s state flower is, but I think it’s granite. But don’t take any of this as a reason to go to North Dakota, or even like the place. Part of the reason nothing’s there is that the people who live there now like it that way. North Dakota may be the greatest place in the universe, but it’s a well-kept secret for a reason. So even if you really want to get away from it all, you’d better find some place else.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


Airplane Rules

  1. Every takeoff is optional. Every landing is mandatory.

  2. If you push the stick forward, the houses get bigger. If you pull the stick back, they get smaller. That is, unless you keep pulling the stick all the way back, then they get bigger again.

  3. Flying isn’t dangerous. Crashing is what’s dangerous.

  4. It’s always better to be down here wishing you were up there than up there wishing you were down here.

  5. The ONLY time you have too much fuel is when you’re on fire.

  6. The propeller is just a big fan in front of the plane used to keep the pilot cool. When it stops, you can actually watch the pilot start sweating.

  7. When in doubt, hold on to your altitude. No-one has ever collided with the sky.

  8. A ‘good’ landing is one from which you can walk away. A ‘great’ landing is one after which they can use the plane again.

  9. Learn from the mistakes of others. You won’t live long enough to make all of them yourself.

  10. You know you’ve landed with the wheels up if it takes full power to taxi to the ramp.

  11. The probability of survival is inversely proportional to the angle of arrival. Large angle of arrival, small probability of survival and vice versa.

  12. Never let an aircraft take you somewhere your brain didn’t get to five minutes earlier.

  13. Stay out of clouds. The silver lining everyone keeps talking about might be another airplane going in the opposite direction. Reliable sources also report that mountains have been known to hide out in clouds.

  14. Always try to keep the number of landings you make equal the number of take offs you’ve made.

  15. There are three simple rules for making a smooth landing. Unfortunately no one knows what they are.

  16. You start with a bag full of luck and an empty bag of experience. The trick is to fill the bag of experience before you empty the bag of luck.

  17. Helicopters can’t fly; they’re just so ugly the earth repels them.

  18. If all you can see out of the window is ground that’s going round and round and all you can hear is commotion coming from the passenger compartment, things are not at all as they should be.

  19. In the ongoing battle between objects made of aluminum going hundreds of miles per hour and the ground going zero miles per hour, the ground has yet to lose.

  20. Good judgment comes from experience. Unfortunately, the experience usually comes from bad judgment.

  21. It’s always a good idea to keep the pointy end going forward as much as possible.

  22. Keep looking around. There’s always something you’ve missed.

  23. Remember, gravity is not just a good idea. It’s the law. And It’s not subject to repeal.

  24. The three most useless things to a pilot are the altitude above you, runway behind you and a tenth of a second ago.

  25. There are old pilots and there are bold pilots. There are, however, no old bold pilots.

No Exit

January 26, 2001

"Why, this is Hell, nor have I left it."–Christopher Marlowe
"Hell is other people."–Jean Paul Sartre
"I may be going to Hell in a bucket, babe, but at least I’m enjoying the ride."–The Grateful Dead

I’m going to Hell. Over the course of my life I’ve been told that approximately 43 times by various individuals, and even though that’s hardly a majority opinion, I figure my chances may not be good. So in the interests of preparing myself for the place, I’ve been taking the criteria most frequently applied and determining what interesting people are already there. It’s an impressive list. Here are a few names:

Aristotle: Born 384BC, Aristotle lived and died centuries before the presumed birth of Jesus. I’m not sure where exactly in Hell this leaves him, although Dante did suggest that there was a section called "Limbo" that was reserved for "virtuous pagans". Limbo is big, empty, and there’s nothing to do. The only thing that distinguishes it from North Dakota is that it’s very crowded. It must contain people from the first 33,000 years or so between the time that the first modern humans appeared and the presumed date of Jesus’s crucifixion.

Dante Aligheri: The medieval poet and scholar who proposed the existence of Limbo was a Catholic. I had, and still have, Catholic friends, which may be why some of the people who told me I was going to Hell also told me Catholics were going to Hell. I have no idea why.

Galileo: The cantankerous old scientist who revolutionized astronomy was dragged before the Inquisition for saying the Earth revolved around the sun. That he could be accused by so noble and holy an institution as the Inquisition means he probably went to Hell. Three hundred years later, in 1992, Pope John Paul II became the first pope to admit that Galileo was right. I’m not sure whether this changed his location. Hell may be a one-way ticket.

Charles Darwin: Darwin’s theory of evolution suggested, among other things, that human beings are animals. Also, based on scientific evidence he suggested that the Earth might be more than 6,000 years old. Of course other people, including Jean Baptiste Pierre Lamarck, Eugune DuBois, and Darwin’s own grandfather Erasmus Darwin suggested similar things, but Charles Darwin seems to have become a particular target for bashing by proponents of mythology and pseudscience. Interestingly, Darwin is buried in Westminster Abbey, even though during his lifetime he was attacked by priests in its pulpit. I guess whoever decided to let him in must be in Hell too.

Pablo Picasso: One of the great artists of the Twentieth Century, Picasso was an atheist. He also served as godfather to one of his close friends. As far as I know, Picasso was never condemned to Hell by his friend for his lack of religion, but what kind of friend would do that?

Albert Einstein: Like Darwin and Galileo, Einstein revolutionized science. Unlike Darwin and Galileo, Einstein’s scientific discoveries weren’t considered reason enough to send him to Hell. That he was Jewish, however, is. I also had a lot of Jewish friends, and have no idea why any of them deserved to go to Hell. Historically it seems the Jews have had a hard enough time of it as it is. However, in Einstein’s case he might have also gotten in trouble because he believed the Earth revolved around the sun.

Mohandas K. Gandhi: Called "Mahatma", or "Great Soul" by many of the people who were inspired by his message of non-violence, Gandhi also spoke of all religions and different paths to the same destination. According to those who claim to know, such tolerance leads to Hell. With his patient and calm demeanor, I’m sure he’s making the best of it, and probably helping everybody else do the same.

With such auspicious figures, as well as many others, I have to say I’m looking forward to Hell. Of course I won’t get to meet any of the people who got to go to Heaven, such as Grand Inquisitor Torquemada, the people of Salem who burned their neighbors as witches, or even Hitler, but I think I’ll fit in just fine. Heck, I may even run into a few of the people who sent me there.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


In large companies, it’s obviously important that memoranda contain lots of important buzzwords. What the memos actually say isn’t particularly important; if it were really important, someone would discuss it in person or by email.

In writing these memoranda, please remember the importance of these buzzwords.

BUZZWORDS FOR MANAGERS

COLUMN I COLUMN II COLUMN III
0. integrated
1. heuristic
2. systematized
3. parallel
4. functional
5. responsive
6. optional
7. synchronized
8. compatible
9. futuristic
0. management
1. organizational
2. monitored
3. reciprocal
4. digital
5. logistical
6. transitional
7. incremental
8. third-generation
9. policy
0. options
1. flexibility
2. capability
3. mobility
4. programming
5. scenarios
6. time-phase
7. projection
8. hardware
9. contingency

The procedure is simple. Think of any three-digit number, and then select the corresponding buzzword from each column.

For instance, number 257 produces "systematized logistical projection," a phrase that can be dropped into virtually any report with a sincere ring of decisive, knowledgeable authority. No one will have the remotest idea of what you’re talking about, but the important thing is that THEY ARE NOT ABOUT TO ADMIT IT!

Idiot Alert!

January 19, 2001

A house alarm is a nice thing to have. You can call the police, the fire department, an ambulance all by pressing a button. Of course it’s not so great if you accidentally set it off. You probably know the story, or you’ve even lived it: guy gets up in the middle of the night to take the dog out, guy stubs toe on chair, guy slaps hand over mouth to keep from screaming and waking up wife, guy then opens the door without shutting off the alarm first.

A few days after I celebrated the new year by eating popcorn and watching "The Twilight Zone", I got a little pamphlet in the mail from the security company. The pamphlet instructed me not to "celebrate New Year’s Eve by purposely setting off the alarm." Naturally the first thought that comes to mind is, What kind of bonehead would do that? Celebrating the new year by purposely setting off your own house alarm is like celebrating your birthday by driving drunk. It’s stupid, it’s irresponsible, and it puts other people in danger. The amazing thing is that this is apparently a big enough problem that the security company spent time and money trying to prevent it. It’s too bad that their pamphlet didn’t arrive until January 7th, but then anyone dumb enough to set off their own alarm would ignore the request, while anyone smart enough not to do it doesn’t need to be asked.

The sad thing is that purposely setting off an alarm to "celebrate" anything really is a call for assistance. It’s a way of saying, "I can’t be satisfied with more socially acceptable ways of celebrating like drinking until I throw up all over my friend’s Persian rug or firing off guns in my backyard." Unfortunately the police, the fire department, and even doctors can’t do anything for such people; they’re beyond help.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


What we all are sometimes on the computer?

I’d like to share a little anecdote that happened in the office the other day. Young Kristin, the editor of our trivia publication, was having trouble with her computer.

So she called Wes, the computer guy, over to her desk. Wes clicked a couple of buttons and solved the problem. As he was walking away Kristin called after him, "So, what was wrong?"

And he replied, "It was an ID ten T error."

A puzzled expression ran riot over Kristin’s face. "An ID ten T error?" What’s that in case I need to fix it again?"

He gave her a grin. "Haven’t you ever seen an ID ten T error before?"

"No."

"Write it down," he said, "and I think you’ll figure it out."

So she wrote it down and got: ID10T


As you celebrate the new Millennium, might consider this:

"100 Years Ago"

The average life expectancy in the United States was forty-seven.

Only 14 percent of the homes in the United States had a bathtub.

Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone. A three minute call from Denver to New York City cost eleven dollars.

There were only 8,000 cars in the US and only 144 miles of paved roads.

The maximum speed limit in most cities was ten mph.

Alabama, Mississippi, Iowa, and Tennessee were each more heavily populated than California. With a mere 1.4 million residents, California was only the twenty-first most populous state in the Union.

The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower.

The average wage in the U.S. was twenty-two cents an hour. The average U.S. worker made between $200 and $400 per year.

A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year, a dentist $2500 per year, a veterinarian between $1500 and $4000 per year, and a mechanical engineer about $5000 per year.

More than 95 percent of all births in the United States took place at home.

Ninety percent of all U.S. physicians had no college education. Instead, they attended medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press and by the government as "substandard."

Sugar cost four cents a pound. Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen. Coffee cost fifteen cents a pound.

Most women only washed their hair once a month and used borax or egg yolks for shampoo.

Canada passed a law prohibiting poor people from entering the country for any reason, either as travelers or immigrants.

The five leading causes of death in the U.S. were: 

  1. Pneumonia and influenza

  2. Tuberculosis

  3. Diarrhea

  4. Heart disease

  5. Stroke

The American flag had 45 stars. Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Hawaii and Alaska hadn’t been admitted to the Union yet.

Drive-by-shootings — in which teenage boys galloped down the street on horses and started randomly shooting at houses, carriages, or anything else that caught their fancy — were an ongoing problem in Denver and other cities in the West.

The population of Las Vegas, Nevada was thirty. The remote desert community was inhabited by only a handful of ranchers and their families.

Plutonium, insulin, and antibiotics hadn’t been discovered yet. Scotch tape, crossword puzzles, canned beer, and iced tea hadn’t been invented.

There was no Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.

One in ten U.S. adults couldn’t read or write. Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school.

Some medical authorities warned that professional seamstresses were apt to become sexually aroused by the steady rhythm, hour after hour, of the sewing machine’s foot pedals. They recommended slipping bromide — which was thought to diminish sexual desire — into the women’s drinking water.

Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at corner drugstores. According to one pharmacist, "Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach and the bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health."

Coca-Cola contained cocaine instead of caffeine.

Punch card data processing had recently been developed, and early predecessors of the modern computer were used for the first time by the government to help compile the 1900 census.

Eighteen percent of households in the United States had at least one full-time servant or domestic.

There were about 230 reported murders in the U.S. annually.

Hold the Tomatoes

January 12, 2001

I don’t like tomatoes. This is something I feel compelled to apologize for because most of the planet seems to like tomatoes. And what’s even worse is that I like tomato soup, sun dried tomatoes, tomato sauce on my pizza and spaghetti and whatever else you put cooked tomatoes on. It’s just big, drippy, mushy, seedy raw tomatoes that I don’t like. (I realize many of you are probably salivating right now and wishing that it was tomato season. One of the advantages of not liking tomatoes is that I never have to wait for tomato season, and I never have to worry about grocery store tomatoes tasting like styrofoam. I apologize if you’re now desperately craving tomatoes, but I couldn’t come up with anything else this week.)

Though I’m a minority now, there was a time when people like me were the majority. In the early 16th Century when tomatoes were first introduced to Europe, people thought they were poisonous. They called them "wolf apples", and grew them as ornamental plants. (I have no idea what Italians put on spaghetti and pizza during this period. Considering that the Romans ate flamingo tongues, mice, and lizard hearts, I don’t want to think about it, but it may have been the cuisine that caused the fall of Rome.)

Then one day a man sat down on the steps of London’s Westminster Abbey and ate an entire bushel of tomatoes while a crowd watched in horror. Since he didn’t die, people started yanking down their ornamental tomatoes and eating as many as they could get. I have no idea who the man was or what gave him the idea to eat a tomato in the first place, but I have a feeling that his mother told him to do it.

Mothers are always telling their children, "Just try one bite." Children are very astute–I know, since I used to be one–and they generally have a pretty good idea what they like and don’t like, but my mother would always make me try at least one bite of everything. (Thanks to my mother, I know without a doubt that I don’t like tomatoes, brussels sprouts, and liver. My mother’s other favorite line, the one she used when she served some kind of casserole, was, "You like everything that’s in this." And I’d say, "Yeah, I like oysters and I like fudge, but that doesn’t mean I want them together.") I used to think my mother would eat anything (she ate brussels sprouts voluntarily!), but then one day when I was a teenager I went with my mother to an international festival. While she watched in horror, I ordered and consumed a Japanese delicacy – raw tuna on a pillow of rice. Unlike the Tomatoes of Westminster incident, my mother still won’t touch raw fish. I thought about suggesting that she take at least one bite, but I realized that food is just like everything else: however different they are, everybody’s gotta have standards…unless of course you’re a Roman.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


It is well documented that for every mile that you jog, you add one minute to your life. This enables you at 85 years old to spend an additional 5 months in a nursing home at $5000 per month. Ten more important facts about jogging and exercise…

  1. My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was 60. She’s 97 now and we don’t know where the hell she is.

  2. The only reason I would take up jogging is so that I could hear heavy breathing again.

  3. I joined a health club last year, spent about 400 bucks.

  4. I have to exercise early in the morning before my brain figures out what I’m doing.

  5. I don’t exercise at all. If God meant us to touch our toes, he would have put them further up on our body.

  6. I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me.

  7. I have flabby thighs, but fortunately my stomach covers them.

  8. The advantage of exercising every day is that you die healthier.

  9. If you are going to try cross-country skiing, start with a small country.

  10. I don’t jog; it makes the ice jump right out of my glass.


INSTRUCTIONS ON REPLACING MOUSE BALLS

I don’t know how they wrote this with a straight face. This apparently was a real memo sent at a computer company to its employees in all seriousness…

This memo is from an unnamed computer company. It went to all field engineers about a peripheral problem. The author of this memo was quite serious. The engineers rolled on the floor! (Especially note last sentence)

 

Mouse balls are now available as FRU (Field Replacement Unit). Therefore if a mouse fails to operate or should it perform erratically, it may need ball replacement. Because of the delicate nature of this procedure, replacement of mouse balls should only be attempted by properly trained personnel.

Before proceeding, determine the type of mouse balls by examining the underside of the mouse. Domestic balls will be larger and harder than foreign balls. Ball removal procedures differ depending upon the manufacture of the mouse. Foreign balls can be replaced using the pop-off method. Domestic balls are replaced by using the twist-off method.

Mouse balls are not usually static-sensitive. However, excessive handling can result in sudden discharge.

Upon completion of ball replacement, the mouse may be used immediately.

It is recommended that each replacer have a pair of spare balls for maintaining optimum customer satisfaction. Any customer missing his balls should contact the local personnel in charge of removing and replacing these necessary items.

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