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Lead me not into temptation, I can find it myself.

October 2, 1997

I work with a guy whose voice sounds like a cross between Gomer Pyle and Dudley Dooright (an old cartoon character for those of you who might not be familiar with him). Naturally, I tried impersonating this voice, and experts have assured me that I do it very successfully. (Even my boss has said that, when she hears the voice, she’s never sure whether it’s really him or whether it’s me making fun of him.) And being the kind of person I am, I tried it in front of him. He found it as funny as everyone else, but unfortunately it gave him ideas. He’s convinced that, if I talk to his wife on the phone, she’ll never know the difference. I’ve tried to convince him not to let me do this. I’ve explained that, if I talk to his wife on the phone, I won’t be able to resist the temptation to do something like this: "Hi honey, how are…<strange guttural noises followed by a dramatically deeper and rougher voice> I’M POSSESSED." His wife has no sense of humor. She’s also, well, more than a little religious. Although he doesn’t believe me, I’m convinced that, if I did this, I’d be reading his obituary in the paper the next morning. Then again, it would be really funny. Ah, what the heck? I think it’s worth it, and there’s the assurance that, after he’s gone, his voice will still live among us. Oh, by the way, have a good weekend everybody. I’m skipping out early.


CANBERRA, ACT – Peter Fyfe, Director, Residences at the University of Canberra and father of two, has announced plans to outsource his children to a private enterprise specializing in child rearing as part of his family’s cost saving effort. Fyfe said that his request for proposals will go out very soon, and that he hopes that a contractor will be in place by Christmas 1997.

Fyfe says that he anticipates saving 25% of his child rearing expenses by hiring a company which specializes in the field. He believes that between the things that his kids destroy, the wear and tear the kids put on the family residence and vehicles, and the other expenses such as school and activities, he should be able to pay a private firm about 75% of what he currently spends on his children.

Although his children have expressed concern that being raised by non-parents would be impersonal and would deprive them of some of their current privileges, Fyfe has worked to alleviate their fears. He held a family dinner meeting to announce the decision and told the kids that mere parents don’t really know how to raise kids until the kids are grown. This is obvious because every grandparent on the street has advice to give to any parent they meet. A professional child rearing service would already know how to raise children and not make the mistakes of a rookie parent.

The outsource proposal requires companies to provide the children with benefits at least the same overall level as they receive at home, with some benefits (TV hours for example) expanding, while others (parental attention) declining. The proposal mandates certain "core" benefits, such as food, clothing, and schooling; but, leaves the non-core (music, sport, television) at the discretion of the contractor.

The outsourcing would phase in over a six month period, with the children initially spending daytime hours at their outsource site and sleeping at their parent’s home; but, as space becomes available offsite, the children will begin spending all their time away from home except when they are desperately needed at home (for example, when the yard needs "patrolling").

The children originally expressed dismay at residing off-site, but Fyfe told them that they would have weekly visitation to the house to retrieve any personal belongings, get new books, ‘perform’ on their musical instruments or talk to, their parents. This would also allow the kids to visit their pet (one dog), at least until phase 2 of Fyfe’s cost cutting spree, which includes outsourcing the family pet. Fyfe would not say where he came up with the idea of outsourcing the children, other than to admit that he and his wife were having a discussion about family finances which illustrated the need to raise the family in a "better, faster, cheaper" mode.

Although his wife was initially reluctant to have the children raised offsite, Fyfe convinced her to accept the scheme because she too was eligible for "outsourcing."

Hello, Vincent Price?

September 26, 1997

Once in a while I stay up late and watch horror movies. This is a lousy idea–sometimes I end up afraid to walk through the dark house to the bedroom which is placed, conveniently, as far from the TV room as possible. However, in the event that a serial killer, werewolf, or flesh-eating zombie vampire alien from Hell ever come into my neighborhood, I’m completely prepared. Here are some things I will do: get out of town before dark. And all gas stations I stop at will be well-lit and in VERY public areas with a lot of other people around. If, for some reason, I can’t get out of the house, I’ll lock the door to the basement where the fuse box is. Aliens always go for the fuse box and the phone lines first. I suppose having a cellular phone wouldn’t be a bad idea, but at the first sign of anything suspicious (and there are ALWAYS warning signs) I’m going to have the police on speed dial. Of course, as I know from horror films, police don’t believe in serial killers or werewolves, and the department that handles flesh-eating zombie vampire aliens has been eliminated because of budget cuts. So I’ll tell them something they can believe: there are terrorists in my backyard, and they’ve got a large nuclear device. The cops will show up just because they’ve always wanted to see a nuclear device up close. Here are some things I won’t do: Take a shower. Aliens, werewolves, and serial killers never stick around for more than two hours. Take off all my clothes for any reason. Take off all my clothes for no reason. Assume that the knocking at the door is Jim, the next door neighbor. Open any door that plays eerie music when I approach it.

Enjoy this week’s offering–some REALLY scary stories.


The following are the first three winners of a Most Embarrassing Moment’s Contest in New Woman Magazine.

"It was Christmas Eve, and I was on my feet all day working behind the cosmetics counter. I decided I would find a place to sit for a moment. I spied a tall plastic trash can and plopped down, resting my feet on a cardboard box. I allowed my body to ease into the can.

About that time a few customers came to the register to check out, but I couldn’t get out of the trash can. I was stuck; I couldn’t believe it. The customers came around the counter to help me – some pulled my arms while others held the can.

Then my manager came to the counter, wanting to know what was going on. He said he was going to call the fire department, who blasted in with sirens and lights. My hips had created a vacuum, so they had to cut me out of the trash can with a giant pair of scissors."

-Linda Evans; Winter Park, Florida

 

"While in line at the bank one afternoon, my toddler decided to release some pent-up energy and ran amok. I was finally able to grab hold of her after receiving looks of disgust and annoyance from other patrons.

I told her that if she did not start behaving *right now*, she would be punished.

To my horror, she looked me in the eye and said in a voice just as threatening, ‘If you don’t let me go *right now*, I will tell Grandma that I saw you kissing Daddy’s pee-pee last night!’

"The silence was deafening after this enlightening exchange. Even the tellers stopped what they were doing! I mustered up the last of my dignity and walked out of the bank with my daughter in tow.

The last thing I heard when the door closed behind me were screams of laughter" -Amy Richardson; Stafford,Virginia

 

"It was the day before my eighteenth birthday. I was living at home, but my parents had gone out for the evening, so I invited mygirlfriend over for a romantic night alone.

"As we lay in bed after making love, we heard the telephone ring downstairs. I suggested to my girlfriend that I give her a piggyback ride to the phone. Since we didn’t want to miss the call, we didn’t have time to get dressed.

When we got to the bottom of the stairs, the lights suddenly came on and a whole crowd of people yelled, ‘SURPRISE!’

My entire family – aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins – and all my friends were standing there! My girlfriend and I were frozen in a state of shock and embarrassment for what seemed like an eternity.

"Since then, no one in my family has planned a surprise party again." -Dave McCarthy; Fremont, California


ACTUAL SIGNS

At a Santa Fe gas station: "We will sell gasoline to anyone in a glass container."

In a New York restaurant: "Customers who consider our waitresses uncivil ought to see the manager."

On the wall of a Baltimore estate: "Trespassers will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.–Sisters of Mercy"

On a long-established New Mexico dry cleaners: "38 years on the same spot."

In a Los Angeles dance hall: "Good clean dancing every night but Sunday."

In a Florida maternity ward: "No children allowed."

In a New York drugstore: "We dispense with accuracy."

In the offices of a loan company: "Ask about our plans for owning your home."

In a New York medical building: "Mental Health Prevention Center"

On a New York convalescent home: "For the sick and tired of the Episcopal Church."

On a Maine shop: "Our motto is to give our customers the lowest possible prices and workmanship.."

At a number of military bases: "Restricted to unauthorized personnel."

On a display of "I love you only" Valentine cards: "Now available in multi-packs."

In the window of a Kentucky appliance store: "Don’t kill your wife. Let our washing machine do the dirty work."

In a funeral parlor: "Ask about our layaway plan."

In a clothing store: "Wonderful bargains for men with 16 and 17 necks." In a Tacoma, Washington men’s clothing store: "15 men’s wool suits, $10. They won’t last an hour!"

On a shopping mall marquee: "Archery Tournament — Ears pierced"

Outside a country shop: "We buy junk and sell antiques."

In the window of an Oregon store: "Why go elsewhere and be cheated when you can come here?"

In a Maine restaurant: "Open 7 days a week and weekends."

On a radiator repair garage: "Best place to take a leak."

In the vestry of a New England church: "Will the last person to leave please see that the perpetual light is extinguished."

In a Pennsylvania cemetery: "Persons are prohibited from picking flowers from any but their own graves."

On a roller coaster: "Watch your head."

On the grounds of a public school: "No trespassing without permission."

On a Tennessee highway: "When this sign is under water, this road is impassable."

Similarly, in front of a New Hampshire car wash: "If you can’t read this, it’s time to wash your car."

Turn it off…

September 19, 1997

Some time ago I was appointed Office Technical Support Liason. This was despite the fact that I have only a vague idea what goes on inside computers–or maybe it was because of that. A vague idea seems to be more than most people have. Basically this is what I do: someone has a problem, I tell them to turn their computer off and turn it back on, and if that doesn’t work, I call someone who actually knows what they’re doing. For some people, though, that wasn’t enough. They should add "And Therapist" to my title. Some people seem to feel that, when their machine has problems, it’s because it doesn’t like them. I’m not really sympathetic–a machine is just a machine, but telling them that doesn’t help. Sometimes your computer has a problem that you just have to work around–it’s part of the basic setup, and it can’t be changed. Some people are the same way. Sometimes you just have to feed their neuroses. So with those people, I say something like, "Wow, looks like your ROM inducer has been infected," and then, while moving cables around, covertly turn their computer off and turn it back on again. Now, if only those people had a switch of their own…


How to keep the office on it’s toes

  • Put a chair facing a printer, sit there all day and tell people you’re waiting for your document.

  • Arrive at a meeting late, say you’re sorry, but you didn’t have time for lunch, and you’re going to be nibbling during the meeting. During the meeting eat 5 entire raw potatoes.

  • Insist that your e-mail address be "Xena_warrior_princess@companyname.com" or "Hercules@companyname.com"

  • Every time someone asks you to do something, ask them to sign a waiver.

  • Every time someone asks you to do something, ask them if they want fries with that.

  • Find out where your boss shops and buy exactly the same outfits. Always wear them one day after your boss does. (This is especially effective if your boss is a different gender than you are.)

  • Make up nicknames for all your coworkers and refer to them only by these names. "That’s a good point Sparky." "No I’m sorry I’m going to have to disagree with you there, Chachi."

  • Put your garbage can on your desk. Label it "IN."

  • Plant a hedge around your cubicle.


The First Realizations That You’re Not In College Anymore

You’re waking up at 6 am instead of going to bed.

Beers at lunch get you reprimanded.

College sweatshirts are ‘casual’ instead of dress up.

Your parents charge rent.

The four food groups are no longer beer, pizza, ramen and cereal.

It’s ‘getting late’ when it’s 9:30 p.m.

Three words: School Loan Payments.

You make thousands of dollars a year – and still can’t afford that dream Porsche.

You start eyeing the Light Beer Section appreciatively.

Pickup football games mean that at least one person will be in the hospital by game’s end.

THEN, discussing with your friends: GPA’s, phone rates and tonsil hockey; NOW: IRA’s, Interest rates and their kid’s orthodontia.

Sleeping on the couch is a no-no.

Naps are no longer available between noon and 6 p.m.

Sneakers are now ‘weekend shoes’.

Dinner and a movie – The whole date instead of the beginning of one.

Your girlfriend being pregnant brings thought of tax deductions instead of coronaries.

Jack and Cokes become Dewars on the Rocks.

The only drugs you take are Tums and Tylenol.

The weak single you hit in the intramural softball game is now remembered as a Varsity dinger for the League Championship.

You get your news from sources other than USA Today, ESPN Sportscenter and MTV News.

Random hook-ups are no longer acceptable.

You wear more ties/skirts in a week than you even owned while taking classes.

You find yourself reminiscing fondly of 2-hour Calculus exams.

You empathize with the characters from ‘Friends".

METABOLISM SLOWDOWN

Football "season tickets" go FROM $75 for the season with dozens of friends TO $750 for the season with the three other guys who want to get away from the family.

Wine appreciation expands beyond Boone’s and Mad Dog.

You actually eat breakfast foods at breakfast time.

Grocery lists actually contain relatively healthy food.

When drinking, you say at least once per night, ‘I just can’t put it down the same as I used to’.

You are the only person over the age of 16 in your neighborhood with a Sega.

Hold the cream cheese.

September 12, 1997

Someone asked me earlier this week what the shelf life of a bagel is. I wasn’t quite sure, so I did a little research, and, as far as I could determine, the life of bagels is not measured in days of years but in geologic periods. Bagels will probably last longer than coelocanths and horseshoe crabs. This is because bagels are made by boiling and then baking the dough, which not only kills anything that could possibly be living inside them, but makes them impervious to just about anything. Bagels are the ultimate indestructible food, and held that position long before twinkies ever came into existence. And bagels are even better because if you drive over a twinkie, it flattens it. If there’s ever a shortage of rubber, we can use large bagels as tires. You’re probably wondering why bagels are made to withstand conditions that would even kill cockroaches. It’s simple: the tribes of Israel wandered through the desert for forty years. The bagel was invented in case they ever have to do it again.

Enjoy this week’s offering.


CROSS-EXAMINATION TECHNIQUES

… from the Massachusetts Bar Association Lawyers Journal. They are a set of questions asked of witnesses during trials and the author says they are true.

  1. "Now doctor, isn’t it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn’t know about it until the next morning?"

  2. "The youngest son, the twenty-year old, how old is he?"

  3. "Were you alone, or by yourself?"

  4. "Were you present when your picture was taken?"

  5. "Was it you or your younger brother who was killed in the war?"

  6. "Did he kill you?"

  7. "How far apart were the vehicles at the time of the collision?"

  8. "You were there until the time you left, is that true?"

  9. "How many times have you committed suicide?"

  10. Q: "So the date of conception(of the baby), was Aug.8?"
    A: "Yes."
    Q: "And what were you doing at that time?"

  11. Q: "She had three children, right?"
    A: "Yes."
    Q: "How many were boys?"
    A: "None."
    Q: "Were there any girls?"

  12. Q: "You say the stairs went down to the basement?"
    A: "Yes."
    Q: "And these stairs, did they go up also?"

  13. Q: "Mr. Slatery, you went on a rather elaborate honeymoon, didn’t you?"
    A: "I went to Europe, sir."
    Q: "And you took your new wife?"

  14. Q: "How was your first marriage terminated?"
    A: "By death."
    Q: "And by who’s death was it terminated?"

  15. Q: "Can you describe the individual?"
    A: "He was about medium height and had a beard."
    Q: "Was this a male, or a female?"

  16. Q: "Is your appearance here this morning pursuant to a deposition notice which I sent to your attorney?"
    A: "No, this is how I dress when I go to work."

  17. Q: "Doctor, how many autopsies have you performed on dead people?"
    A: "All my autopsies are performed on dead people."

  18. Q: "All your responses must be oral, OK? What school did you go to?"
    A: "Oral."

  19. Q: "Do you recall the time that you examined the body?"
    A: "The autopsy started around 8:30 p.m."
    Q: "And Mr. Dennington was dead at the time?"
    A: "No, he was sitting on the table wondering why I was doing an autopsy."

  20. Q: "You were not shot in the fracas?"
    A: "No, I was shot midway between the fracas and the navel."

  21. Q: "Are you qualified to give a urine sample?"
    A: "I have been since early childhood."


HOW TO ANNOY OTHER PEOPLE

  1. Leave the copy machine set to enlarge 200%, extra dark, 17×11 inch paper, 99 copies.

  2. In the memo field of all your checks, write "for sensual massage."

  3. Specify that your drive-through order is "to go."

  4. If you have a glass eye, tap on it occasionally with your pen while talking to others.

  5. Stomp on little plastic ketchup packets.

  6. Insist on keeping your car windshield wipers running in all weather conditions "to keep them tuned up."

  7. Reply to everything someone says with "that’s what YOU think."

  8. Practice making fax and modem noises.

  9. Highlight irrelevant information in scientific papers and "cc" them to your boss.

  10. Finish all your sentences with the words "in accordance with prophesy."

  11. Signal that a conversation is over by clamping your hands over your ears.

  12. Disassemble your pen and "accidentally" flip the ink cartridge across the room.

  13. Holler random numbers while someone is counting.

  14. Adjust the tint on your TV so that all the people are green, and insist to others that you "like it that way."

  15. Staple papers in the middle of the page.

  16. Publicly investigate just how slowly you can make a "croaking" noise.

  17. Honk and wave to strangers.

  18. Decline to be seated at a restaurant, and simply eat their complimentary mints by the cash register.

  19. TYPE ONLY IN UPPERCASE..

  20. type only in lowercase.

  21. dont use any punctuation either

  22. Buy a large quantity of orange traffic cones and reroute whole streets.

  23. Repeat the following conversation a dozen times: "Do you hear that?" "What?" "Never mind, it’s gone now."

  24. As much as possible, skip rather than walk.

  25. Try playing the William Tell Overture by tapping on the bottom of your chin. When nearly done, announce, "no, wait, I messed it up," and repeat.

  26. Ask people what gender they are.

  27. While making presentations, occasionally bob your head like a parakeet.

  28. Sit in your front yard pointing a hair dryer at passing cars to see if they slow down.

  29. Sing along at the opera.

  30. Go to a poetry recital and ask why each poem doesn’t rhyme.

  31. Ask your co-workers mysterious questions and then scribble their answers in a notebook. Mutter something about "psychological profiles."

  32. Send e-mail jokes relentlessly to friends until they regret the day that they ever bought a PC and told you their email address!

 

I’ll tell you what’s in a name…

September 5, 1997

I got a package the other day addressed to "Chris Wedlrip". It didn’t come as much of a suprise. It was only the latest in a long series of mutations of my name by various agents of public service. The problem, I think, is not that I have a weird name, but that it just borders on normal. If my name were "Yezmulkveschtein" it would prompt the immediate question, "How do you spell that?" No, my name just makes people try to guess. "Waldron? Waldrot? Waldrip?" I don’t follow car racing, but I know there’s a driver named Daryl Waltrip because people have asked me if I’m related to him since I was four years old. It’s gotten so that I dread having to give my name. At restaurants, pizza delivery places–anywhere I have to give my name, I always consider saying "Jones" so I won’t have to go throyugh the ordeal of hearing, "Waldrep? Waldorp? Are you related to that race car driver?" Occasionally someone asks how to spell my name. Even rarer, although it has been known to happen, someone actually gets it right. But usually when that happens they write down "Kris". Enjoy this week’s offering. My apologies to all blondes out there, but I just couldn’t resist. I followed it up with some really obscure facts you can use to dazzle people.


Once there was a blonde who got DARNED sick and tired of those jokes mocking blondes for a low I.Q.

She therefore resolved to prove that blonds could be as smart as anyone else. She spent several weeks studiously peering at a map…

The next time some one attempted to tell a Blonde Joke, she riposted "Well, I’m a blonde and I’m NOT stupid! I’ll have you know I’ve memorized the Capitals of every state in the union!"

"So what’s the capital of Vermont?" inquired a sceptic.

The blonde replied, "’V!"


A blonde woman is driving along a country road, out in rolling hills of the Midwest, when she sees some movement off in the distance. As she gets closer, she realizes that it is another blonde woman in a rowboat in the middle of a field rowing the boat like crazy.

She stops her car at the side of the road and gets out. She yells out to the blonde in the rowboat, "What the &$%# are you doing?" The blonde in the boat, obviously flustered, yells back, "I have got to hurry up and get home in time for dinner or I will be in real trouble!"

The blonde at the side of the road is aggravated. "I can’t believe this! You are out in the middle of a field in a row boat! It’s blondes like you that give blondes like me a bad name! In fact, if I could swim, I would swim out there and kick your butt!"


This blonde goes to the Western Union office and says, "I just have to get an urgent message to my mother in Europe." The clerk says it will be $100, and she replies "But I don’t have any money…. and I *must* get a message to her, it’s urgent!… I’ll do anything to get a message to her." The clerk replies "Anything?" "Yes…. ANYTHING!" replies the blonde. He leads her back to his office and closes the door. He tells her to kneel in front of him. "Unzip me…" She does. "Take it out….. go ahead." She does this as well. She looks up at him, his member in her hands and he says "Well… go ahead.. do it.." She brings her lips close to it and shouts "Hello?…. Mom?"


There was this blonde who bought a coach ticket to go to Chicago. She boards the plane and sits in the first class area. The stewardess comes over and says "ma’am your ticket says coach you must move to the coach area". The blonde says "I’m blonde beautiful and going to Chicago". The stewardess says "you must move to the coach area". The blonde says "I’m blonde beautiful and going to Chicago". The stewardess goes over and gets the head stewardess. The head stewardess comes over and says "ma’am you must move to coach." The blonde says "I’m blonde beautiful and going to Chicago". The stewardesses look at each other and decide to go get the captain. The captain comes over and says" ma’am your ticket says coach you must move to the coach area". The blonde says "I’m blonde beautiful and going to Chicago". The captain shakes his head and bends down and whispers in her ear. All of a sudden she jumps up grabs her luggage and goes over to the coach area. The stewardesses look at each other and ask the captain "What did you say to her?" The captain says " I told her first class wasn’t going to Chicago."


Five blondes go into a bar and one of them says to the bartender, "A round of drinks for me and my friends." They get their drinks and the raise their glasses to a toast of, "To 51 days!" and they drink. The "head blonde" asks the bartender to set them up again. Again, the blondes toast "To 51 days!" and they drink. After they order a third round, the bartender says that he has to ask what the toast means. The head blonde says, "We just finished a jigsaw puzzle. On the box it said, "two to four years" and we finished it in 51 days".


A duck’s quack doesn’t echo, and no one knows why.

In the 1940s, the FCC assigned television’s Channel 1 to mobile services (two-way radios in taxicabs, for instance) but did not re-number the other channel assignments. That is why your TV set has channels 2 and up, but no channel 1.

A group of geese on the ground is a gaggle, a group of geese in the air is a skein.

The underside of a horse’s hoof is called a frog. The frog peels off several times a year with new growth.

The San Francisco Cable cars are the only mobile National Monuments

The "save" icon on Microsoft Word shows a floppy disk, with the shutter on backwards.

The combination "ough" can be pronounced in nine different ways. The following sentence contains them all: "A rough-coated, dough-faced, thoughtful ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough; after falling into a slough, he coughed and hiccoughed."

The verb "cleave" is the only English word with two synonyms which are antonyms of each other: adhere and separate.

The only 15 letter word that can be spelled without repeating a letter is uncopyrightable.

Facetious and abstemious contain all the vowels in the correct order, as does arsenious, meaning "containing arsenic."

The shape of plant collenchyma cells and the shape of the bubbles in beer foam are the same – they are orthotetrachidecahedrons.

The word ‘pound’ is abbreviated ‘lb.’ after the constellation ‘libra’ because it means ‘pound’ in Latin, and also ‘scales’. The abbreviation for the British Pound Sterling comes from the same source: it is an ‘L’ for Libra/Lb. with a stroke through it to indicate abbreviation. Same goes for the Italian lira which uses the same abbreviation (‘lira’ coming from ‘libra’). So British currency (before it went metric) was always quoted as "pounds/shillings/pence", abbreviated "L/s/d" (libra/solidus/denarius).

Emus and kangaroos cannot walk backwards, and are on the Australian coat of arms for that reason.

Cats have over one hundred vocal sounds, while dogs only have about ten.

The word "Checkmate" in chess comes from the Persian phrase "Shakh Mat," which means "the king is dead".

Pinocchio is Italian for "pine head."

Camel’s milk does not curdle.

In every episode of Seinfeld there is a Superman somewhere.

An animal epidemic is called an epizootic.

Murphy’s Oil Soap is the chemical most commonly used to clean elephants.

The United States has never lost a war in which mules were used.

Blueberry Jelly Bellies were created especially for Ronald Reagan.

All porcupines float in water.

Hang On Sloopy is the official rock song of Ohio.

There are coffee flavored PEZ.

The world’s largest wine cask is in Heidelberg, Germany.

Lorne Greene had one of his nipples bitten off by an alligator while he was host of "Lorne Greene’s Wild Kingdom."

Cat’s urine glows under a blacklight.

If you bring a raccoon’s head to the Henniker, New Hampshire town hall, you are entitled to receive $.10 from the town.

St. Stephen is the patron saint of bricklayers.

The first song played on Armed Forces Radio during operation Desert Shield was "Rock the Casba" by the Clash.

The reason firehouses have circular stairways is from the days of yore when the engines were pulled by horses. The horses were stabled on the ground floor and figured out how to walk up straight staircases.

Non-dairy creamer is flammable.

The airplane Buddy Holly died in was the "American Pie." (Thus the name of the Don McLean song.)

Texas is also the only state that is allowed to fly its state flag at the same height as the U.S. flag.

The only nation who’s name begins with an "A", but doesn’t end in an " A" is Afghanastan.

The names of the three wise monkeys are: Mizaru: See no evil, Mikazaru: Hear no evil, and Mazaru: Speak no evil.

When opossums are playing ‘possum, they are not "playing." They actually pass out from sheer terror.

The Main Library at Indiana University sinks over an inch every year because when it was built, engineers failed to take into account the weight of all the books that would occupy the building.

Each king in a deck of playing cards represents a great king from history. Spades – King David, Clubs – Alexander the Great, Hearts – Charlemagne, and Diamonds – Julius Caesar.

 

Just because you’re paranoid…

August 28, 1997

I’m not a technophobe. I think machines are like their makers. Some are good, some are bad, and some are really out to get me. Take, for instance, the snack machine down the hall that supposedly takes dollar bills. The other day I had a bill that was perfect. I’ve dabbled in numismatics, so I know what I was talking about when I say that it was in almost uncirculated condition. I put it in correctly, and the machine spit it out. I rubbed it along the wall to eliminate that verrry slight wallet crease, and tried again. Still it spit it back. I don’t understand why these machines will take ratty, old, disintegrating bills, but refuse new ones. I tenderized the bill some more, and tried again. It refused it. The machine also teases me. It starts to take the bill, then suddenly decides it doesn’t want it. This went on for some time. I tried turning the bill around and putting it in. That almost worked until the machine realized who it was dealing with. Finally I tried another bill. It took it–acceptance at last! Suddenly the machine started beeping, and the "Coins only" light came on.

In case you’re wondering why this is early, it’s because I won’t be here tomorrow. Monday is also a holiday for some of us, so remember this simple holiday rule: Everything taken to excess is bad for you, and that includes moderation.


GENERATION X AND THEIR OFFICE LINGO

Blamestorming – sitting around in a group discussing why a deadline was missed or a project failed and who was responsible

Body Nazis – hard-core exercise and weight-lifting fanatics who look down on anyone who doesn’t work out obsessively

Chainsaw consultant – an outside expert brought in to reduce the employee headcount, leaving the top brass with clean hands

Cube farm – an office filled with cubicles

Ego surfing – scanning the Net, databases, print media, and so on, looking for references to one’s own name

Elvis year – the peak year of something’s popularity — Barney the dinosaur’s Elvis year was 1993.

404 – someone who is clueless, from the World Wide Web error message "404 Not Found", meaning the requested document couldn’t be located – "Don’t bother asking him, he’s 404."

Idea hamsters – people who always seem to have their idea generators running

Mouse potato – the on-line generation’s answer to the couch potato

Ohnosecond – that minuscule fraction of time in which you realize you’ve just made a big mistake

Prairie dogging – something loud happens in a cube farm, and people’s heads pop up over the walls to see what’s going on

SITCOM – stands for Single Income, Two Children, Oppressive Mortgage

Stress puppy – a person who thrives on being stressed-out and whiny

Tourists – those who take training classes just to take a vacation from their jobs — "We had three serious students in the class; the rest were tourists."

De-installed – euphemism for being fired

Xerox subsidy – euphemism for swiping free photocopies from a workplace

Why not?

August 22, 1997

My mother called me the other day. I’m an adult, I’ve not lived with my parents for many years, and still I get flashbacks from the days when my mother took me shopping for clothes. When I was young and didn’t care so much, she made me clothes. Somewhere in my parents’ attic is a pair of short overalls made from polyester with a pattern of red, white, and blue stars. I only wore it once to a large family gathering, and, in retrospect, it was probably intended to draw attention away from my father’s sideburns. As I got older, my mother stopped making clothes, but her fascination with polyester continued. For her, there were only two kinds of clothing: polyester for the summer, and wool for the winter. It’s a wonder I didn’t grow up with some kind of skin condition. Shopping was the worst, though. It’s a fact of childhood that your friends’ parents will always handle difficult things like shopping in a sane, reasonable, and relatively quiet manner while your parents try to humiliate you as loudly and publicly as possible. All your parents probably did this. What you don’t know is that they took twice-weekly classes from my mother in how to most effectively do it. My mother trained parents of children six through sixteen in how to build character through the use of awful clothing. My mother was a grand-master. She added a whole new dimension to the game. She would pull out a shirt that would embarass Liberace and say, "Why don’t you like this?" There’s a popular belief that men are genetically unable to dress themselves. The fact is, any fashion sense is trained out of them by mothers holding up orange, yellow, and violet plaid and saying, "This would look good on you." My face would turn a slightly more appealing shade of green and I’d ask her to put the shirt back. "Why? You like plaid!" No matter what it was, I liked it. Finally, she would buy the shirt, saying, "Well, you might learn to like it." Three months later she would say, "Why don’t you ever wear that shirt that you liked so much in the store?"

Enjoy this week’s offering.


Cracking an international market is a goal of most growing corporations. It shouldn’t be that hard, yet even the big multi-nationals run into trouble because of language and cultural differences. For example…

Scandinavian vacuum manufacturer Electrolux used the following in an American ad campaign: "Nothing sucks like an Electrolux."

The name Coca-Cola in China was first rendered as Ke-kou-ke-la. Unfortunately, the Coke company did not discover until after thousands of signs had been printed that the phrase means "bite the wax tadpole" or "female horse stuffed with wax" depending on the dialect. Coke then researched 40,000 Chinese characters and found a close phonetic equivalent, "ko-kou-ko-le," which can be loosely translated as "happiness in the mouth."

In Taiwan, the translation of the Pepsi slogan "Come alive with the Pepsi Generation" came out as "Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead."

Also in Chinese, the Kentucky Fried Chicken slogan "finger-lickin’ good" came out as "eat your fingers off."

The American slogan for Salem cigarettes, "Salem – Feeling Free," got translated in the Japanese market into "When smoking Salem, you feel so refreshed that your mind seems to be free and empty."

When General Motors introduced the Chevy Nova in South America, it was apparently unaware that "no va" means "it won’t go." After the company figured out why it wasn’t selling any cars, it renamed the car in its Spanish markets to the Caribe.

Ford had a similar problem in Brazil when the Pinto flopped. The company found out that Pinto was Brazilian slang for "tiny male genitals". Ford pried all the nameplates off and substituted Corcel, which means horse.

When Parker Pen marketed a ballpoint pen in Mexico, its ads were supposed to say "It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you." However, the company’s mistakenly thought the Spanish word "embarazar" meant embarrass. Instead the ads said that "It wont leak in your pocket and make you pregnant."

An American T-shirt maker in Miami printed shirts for the Spanish market which promoted the Pope’s visit. Instead of the desired "I Saw the Pope" in Spanish, the shirts proclaimed "I Saw the Potato."

Chicken-man Frank Perdue’s slogan, "It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken," got terribly mangled in another Spanish translation. A photo of Perdue with one of his birds appeared on billboards all over Mexico with a caption that explained "It takes a hard man to make a chicken aroused."

Hunt-Wesson introduced its Big John products in French Canada as Gros Jos before finding out that the phrase, in slang, means "big breasts." In this case, however, the name problem did not have a noticeable effect on sales.

Colgate introduced a toothpaste in France called Cue, the name of a notorious porno mag.

In Italy, a campaign for Schweppes Tonic Water translated the name into Schweppes Toilet Water.

Japan’s second-largest tourist agency was mystified when it entered English-speaking markets and began receiving requests for unusual sex tours. Upon finding out why, the owners of Kinki Nippon Tourist company changed its name.


THE FACTS OF LIFE

The 2 most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity.

If at first you don’t succeed, skydiving is not for you.

Money can’t buy happiness…But it sure makes misery easier to live with..

Deja Moo: The feeling that you’ve heard this bull before.

Psychiatrists say that 1 of 4 people are mentally ill. Check 3 friends. If they’re OK, you’re it.

Nothing in the known universe travels faster than a bad check.

A truly wise man never plays leapfrog with a unicorn.

It has recently been discovered that research causes cancer in rats.

Always remember to pillage BEFORE you burn.

If you are given an open-book exam, you will forget your book.

The trouble with doing something right the first time is that nobody appreciates how difficult it was.

It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.

Paul’s Law: You can’t fall off the floor.

The average woman would rather have beauty than brains, because the average man can see better than he can think.

Paranoids are people, too; they have their own problems. It’s easy to criticize, but if everybody hated you, you’d be paranoid, too.

A diplomat is someone who can tell you to go to hell and make you feel happy to be on your way.

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.

Vital papers will demonstrate their vitality by moving from where you left them to where you can’t find them.

Law of Probability Dispersal: Whatever it is that hits the fan will not be evenly distributed.

Uh huh…

August 15, 1997

In the beginning there was the telephone. And it was good. People who were separated by long distances could keep in touch in ways other than the postal service. Then came answering machines. They were good too. When you weren’t home, or when you were afraid someone you didn’t want to talk to was going to call, the answering machine took the calls for you. That way, you never missed a message when you were out, and you never had to spend an hour on the phone listening to Aunt Bessie describe the cute thing her eleventh oldest cat just did. Then came Caller ID. Now you knew who was calling in advance, and you could switch your answering machine off before Aunt Bessie took up the entire tape. So what’s next? I think the next step will be a machine that will not only answer the phone for you, but will talk to the person on the other end as well. Sure, answering machines do that, but it’s incredibly impersonal. Sometimes Aunt Bessie likes to believe she’s talking to a person. This is a true story: the mother of a friend of mine would call him up and talk to him for three hour stretches. All he had to do was say, "Uh huh" every few minutes. His brother made an art of it. His brother would pick up the phone, let her get started, and go mow the lawn. Every fifteen minutes he would stop, go to the phone, and say, "Uh huh." A machine could do this a lot more efficiently, and with less trouble. Eventually, I think, machines will be able to screen calls and, using the latest information available on the internet, give advice, console, talk about the big game last night, or just say, "Uh huh." Family disputes will never start, and at holidays people can bring along their machines to talk for them. Ah, can’t you just feel the warmth?


A guide to safe FAX

Q. DO I HAVE TO BE MARRIED TO HAVE SAFE FAX ?
A. Although married people FAX quite often, there are many single people who FAX complete strangers every day, with no adverse effects.

Q. IF I FAX SOMETHING TO MYSELF, WILL I GO BLIND ?
A. Certainly not, as far as we can see.

Q. MY PARENTS SAY THEY NEVER HAD FAX WHEN THEY WERE YOUNG, AND HAD TO WRITE MEMOS TO EACH OTHER UNTIL THEY WERE OLDER. HOW OLD DO YOU THINK PEOPLE SHOULD BE BEFORE THEY FAX ?
A. A reasonably responsible person can safely become an active FAX participant at almost any age, provided the correct peocedures are used.

Q. THERE IS A PLACE ON OUR STREET WHERE YOU CAN GO AND PAY TO FAX. IS THIS LEGAL ?
A. Yes. Many people have no other outlet for their FAX requirements, and are obliged to pay a "Professional" when their need to FAX cannot be satisfied in any other way.

Q. WHEN I FAX SOMEONE IS IT NECESSARY TO USE A COVER ?
A. Unless you are really sure of the person you are FAXing, a cover should always be used to insure safe FAX.

Q. I GET EMBARRASSED WHEN I PERFORM THE PROCEDURE INCORRECTLY, AND HAVE A PREMATURE TRANSMISSION. WHAT SHOULD I DO ?
A. Don’t panic. People often transmit prematurely, especially when they haven’t FAX in a long time. Just start over (Most people don’t mind if you try again.)

Q. I FAX BOTH PERSONNALY AND IN BUSINESS. COULD THIS EVENTUALLY POSE PROBLEMS FOR ME ?
A. Being Bi-Faxual can be confusing, and sometimes make your FAX life uncertain, but as long as you use a cover each time you FAX, you won’t transmit anything you’re not supposed to.

From the WEEKLY WORLD NEWS, May 24, 1994

MOSCOW —

Doctors are blaming a rare electrical imbalance in the brain for the bizarre death of a chess player whose head literally exploded in the middle of a championship game!

No one else was hurt in the fatal explosion but four players and three officials at the Moscow Candidate Masters’ Chess Championships were sprayed with blood and brain matter when Nikolai Titov’s head suddenly blew apart. Experts say he suffered from a condition called Hyper-Cerebral Electrosis or HCE.

"He was deep in concentration with his eyes focused on the board," says Titov’s opponent, Vladimir Dobrynin. "All of a sudden his hands flew to his temples and he screamed in pain. Everyone looked up from their games, startled by the noise. Then, as if someone had put a bomb in his cranium, his head popped like a firecracker."

Incredibly, Titiov’s is not the first case in which a person’s head has spontaneously exploded. Five people are known to have died of HCE in the last 25 years. The most recent death occurred just three years ago in 1991, when European psychic Barbara Nicole’s skull burst. Miss Nicole’s story was reported by newspapers worldwide, including WWN. "HCE is an extremely rare physical imbalance," said Dr. Anatoly Martinenko, famed neurologist and expert on the human brain who did the autopsy on the brilliant chess expert. "It is a condition in which the circuits of the brain become overloaded by the body’s own electricity. The explosions happen during periods of intense mental activity when lots of current is surging through the brain. Victims are highly intelligent people with great powers of concentration. Both Miss Nicole and Mr. Titov were intense people who tended to keep those cerebral circuits overloaded. In a way it could be said they were literally too smart for their own good."

Although Dr. Martinenko says there are probably many undiagnosed cases, he hastens to add that very few people will die from HCE. "Most people who have it will never know. At this point, medical science still doesn’t know much about HCE. And since fatalities are so rare it will probably be years before research money becomes available."

In the meantime, the doctor urges people to take it easy and not think too hard for long periods of time. "Take frequent relaxation breaks when you’re doing things that take lots of mental focus," he recommends.

(As a public service, WWN added a sidebar titled HOW TO TELL IF YOUR HEAD’S ABOUT TO BLOW UP:)

Although HCE is very rare, it can kill. Dr. Martinenko says knowing you have the condition can greatly improve your odds of surviving it. A "yes" answer to any three of the following seven questions could mean that you have HCE:

1. Does your head sometimes ache when you think too hard? (Head pain can indicate overloaded brain circuits.)

2. Do you ever hear a faint ringing or humming sound in your ears? (It could be the sound of electricity in the skull cavity.)

3. Do you sometimes find yourself unable to get a thought out of your head? (This is a possible sign of too much electrical activity in the cerebral cortex.)

4. Do you spend more than five hours a day reading, balancing your checkbook, or other thoughtful activity? (A common symptom of HCE is a tendency to over-use the brain.)

5. When you get angry or frustrated do you feel pressure in your temples? (Friends of people who died of HCE say the victims often complained of head pressure in times of strong emotion.)

6. Do you ever overeat on ice cream, doughnuts and other sweets? (A craving for sugar is typical of people with too much electrical pressure in the cranium.)

7. Do you tend to analyze yourself too much? (HCE sufferers are often introspective, "over-thinking" their lives.)

(Side note: This article is worthless because anyone who takes the Weekly World News seriously is in no danger whatsoever of excessive brain use.–CW)

The real story on Kurt Vonnegut’s MIT Address

"Words of Wisdom from Mary Schmich"

 

On August 8, Freethinkers published the MIT commencement address given by famous author Kurt Vonnegut. The only problem is that Kurt Vonnegut has never given a commencement address at MIT. Read on:


Vonnegut? Schmich? Who can tell in cyberspace?

by Mary Schmich, Chicago Tribune

I am Kurt Vonnegut.

Oh, Kurt Vonnegut may appear to be a brilliant, revered male novelist. I may appear to be a mediocre and virtually unknown female newspaper columnist. We may appear to have nothing in common but unruly hair.

But out in the lawless swamp of cyberspace, Mr. Vonnegut and I are one. Out there, where any snake can masquerade as king, both of us are the author of a graduation speech that began with the immortal words, "Wear sunscreen."

I was alerted to my bond with Mr. Vonnegut Friday morning by several callers and e-mail correspondents who reported that the sunscreen speech was rocketing through the cyberswamp, from L.A. to New York to Scotland, in a vast e-mail chain letter.

Friends had e-mailed it to friends, who e-mailed it to more friends, all of whom were told it was the commencement address given to the graduating class at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The speaker was allegedly Kurt Vonnegut.

Imagine Mr. Vonnegut’s surprise. He was not, and never has been, MIT’s commencement speaker. Imagine my surprise. I recall composing that little speech one Friday afternoon while high on coffee and M&M’s. It appeared in this space on June 1. It included such deep thoughts as "Sing," "Floss," and "Don’t mess too much with your hair." It was not art.

But out in the cyberswamp, truth is whatever you say it is, and my simple thoughts on floss and sunscreen were being passed around as Kurt Vonnegut’s eternal wisdom.

Poor man. He didn’t deserve to have his reputation sullied in this way.

So I called a Los Angles book reviewer, with whom I’d never spoken, hoping he could help me find Mr. Vonnegut.

"You mean that thing about sunscreen?" he said when I explained the situation. "I got that. It was brilliant. He didn’t write that?"

He didn’t know how to find Mr. Vonnegut. I tried MIT.

"You wrote that?" said Lisa Damtoft in the news office. She said MIT had received many calls and e-mails on this year’s "sunscreen" commencement speech. But not everyone was sure: Who had been the speaker?

The speaker on June 6 was Kofi Annan, secretary general of the United Nations, who did not, as Mr. Vonnegut and I did in our speech, urge his graduates to "dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room." He didn’t mention sunscreen.

As I continued my quest for Mr. Vonnegut — his publisher had taken the afternoon off, his agent didn’t answer — reports of his "sunscreen" speech kept pouring in.

A friend called from Michigan. He’d read my column several weeks ago. Friday morning he received it again — in an e-mail from his boss. This time it was not an ordinary column by an ordinary columnist. Now it was literature by Kurt Vonnegut.

Fortunately, not everyone who read the speech believed it was Mr. Vonnegut’s.

"The voice wasn’t quite his," sniffed one doubting contributor to a Vonnegut chat group on the Internet. "It was slightly off — a little too jokey, a little too cute . . . a little too `Seinfeld.’ "

Hoping to find the source of this prank, I traced one e-mail backward from its last recipient, Hank De Zutter, a professor at Malcolm X College in Chicago. He received it from a relative in New York, who received it from a film producer in New York, who received it from a TV producer in Denver, who received it from his sister, who received it. . . .

I realized the pursuit of culprit zero would be endless. I gave up.

I did, however, finally track down Mr. Vonnegut. He picked up his own phone. He’d heard about the sunscreen speech from his lawyer, from friends, from a women’s magazine that wanted to reprint it until he denied he wrote it.

"It was very witty, but it wasn’t my wittiness," he generously said.

Reams could be written on the lessons in this episode. Space confines me to two.

One: I should put Kurt Vonnegut’s name on my column. It would be like sticking a Calvin Klein label on a pair of K-Mart jeans.

Two: Cyberspace, in Mr. Vonnegut’s word, is "spooky."

E-mail Mary Schmich at mschmich@tribune.com

Mary Schmich’s articles can be read online at: http://www.chicago.tribune.com/news/current/schmich.htm


My Response

Of course, I had to track down Ms. Schmich. Our email correspondance follows:

To: Mary Schmich mschmich@tribune.com
Subject: Completely unrelated to Kurt Vonnegut.

Ms. Schmich,

I have confession to make. I lied. I will refer to Kurt Vonnegut in
this message, but only in passing.

I was not the originator of the prank, and, frankly, I don’t think
I’d like to meet the person who was. Like most people, however, I was
completely taken in by it. In fact, I even sent it out to a
semi-private distribution list, and it is now installed on a web
page. I’ve asked the web page’s author to add an addendum to that
particular part with a link to the REAL story of what happened.

When you say that putting Vonnegut’s name on your article is
like putting a Calvin Klein label on a pair of K-Mart Jeans, you’re
being much too hard on yourself. When people buy Calvin Klein jeans,
they’re paying for the label. A pair from K-Mart would probably be
just as good. The same is not necessarily true of Vonnegut. People
may buy his books because his name is on the cover, but they get a
quality book that costs about the same as most other paperbacks.

What I’m driving at is this: the woman who said "dance, even if you
have nowhere to do it but in your living room" should not turn around
and say she doesn’t deserve to be compared to Kurt Vonnegut. It
sounds hypocritical. If your name had been left on the piece, it
probably would have made it at least as far around the world as it
did with Vonnegut’s name on it. It was a wise, witty, brilliant piece
of work, and you should be happy that, while the association with
Vonnegut has made the work infamous, its simple, quiet wisdom has
made it famous. For years to come people will probably comfort their
friends by saying, "Wear sunscreen", and when they do, they’ll think
of you.

I thank you very much if you have read this far, and I apologize once
again for lying to you. Please believe me when I say I was sincere in
every other way.


From: Mary Schmich mschmich@tribune.com
Subject: Re: Completely unrelated to Kurt Vonnegut.

The lie worked. Thanks for the kind message. MS

That’s why they’re called ‘Convenience Stores’

August 8, 1997

I was in the drugstore the other day buying some soy sauce, and wandered through the toy section. There were some really neat looking dinosaurs from a recent movie, and one of them had a label on it that said, "With real dinosaur sounds!" That is truly amazing. Most toy makers would simply record their cat hacking up a hairball and run it through a synthesizer to simulate dinosaur sounds, but not these people. With all the practical applications of time travel, they decided to use it for something completely useless. It made me very proud to be part of this country. As if things couldn’t get any better, I drove by a gas station with a sign that said, "Prizes for sale inside." Wow! Can you beat that? It’s truly a wonderful time when I can walk into a gas station and say, "Yes, I’d like ten dollars’ worth of gas, this bag of Cheetos, and, um, that Pulitzer over there on the right." All these years I’ve been thinking I would have to WORK to earn one of those. Enjoy this week’s offering–a special treat from a Freethinker who needs no introduction.

Just In: See the special addendum to this week’s article!


Kurt Vonnegut’s commencement address at MIT

Ladies and gentlemen of the class of ’97:

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proven by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 pm on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.

Sing.

Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.

Floss.

Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.

Stretch.

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They’re your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.

Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.

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