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You call this a benefits package?

November 21, 1997

A lot of people say they’d like to be eighteen again. I used to think what they meant was that they wanted an eighteen-year old body and a forty-year old brain, bank account, career, etc. This is because, in my foolish youth, I thought that, whatever the responsibilities, worries, problems adults had to cope with, there were compensations. Now I’m a little older and a little wiser. Admittedly, life was rough as a teenager, but what I didn’t know at the time was that the problems wouldn’t go away, or even just be replaced by others. They’d mutate, and then other problems would be added on. Worries about pimples would become worries about thinning hair. Worries about money would…well, I should have seen that money wasn’t going to get any simpler than it was in those days. And school–the bane of teenage existence–was wonderful compared to work. At school, you were fed, you got free medical care, there were art classes, free time, and if you were like me, you got all the sleep you had missed the night before. There’s not an employer on the planet who offers a benefits package even close to that. Let’s face it: if anybody has compensations, it’s teenagers. Now I know that when adults used to say, "Life isn’t fair" to me, they weren’t doing it to be cruel. They were doing it because, as a teenager, I was a living example of how unfair life really is. Enjoy this week’s offerings that, hopefully, you’re old enough to understand.


I teach fourth grade at Westlake Elementary School in Ventura County, California. As a fun assignment, I gave the students the beginning of a list of famous sayings and asked them to provide original endings for each one. Here are some examples of what my students submitted.

The grass is always greener when you leave the sprinkler on.
A rolling stone plays the guitar.
The grass is always greener when you remember to water it.
A bird in the hand is a real mess.
No news is no newspaper.
It’s better to light one candle than to waste electricity.
It’s always darkest just before I open my eyes.
You have nothing to fear but homework.
If you can’t stand the heat, don’t start the fireplace.
If you can’t stand the heat, go swimming.
Never put off ’til tomorrow what you should have done yesterday.
A penny saved is nothing in the real world.
The squeaking wheel gets annoying.
We have nothing to fear but our principal.
To err is human. To eat a muskrat is not.
I think, therefore I get a headache.
Laugh and the world laughs with you. Cry, and someone yells, "Shut up!"
Better to light a candle than to light an explosive.
It’s always darkest before 9:30 p.m.
Early to bed and early to rise is first in the bathroom.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a blister.
There is nothing new under the bed.
The grass is always greener when you put manure on it.
Don’t count your chickens — it takes too long.

10 words that don’t exist, but should

  1. AQUADEXTROUS (ak wa deks’ trus) adj. Possessing the ability to turn the bathtub faucet on and off with your toes.

  2. CARPERPETUATION (kar’ pur pet u a shun) n. The act, when vacuuming, of running over a string or a piece of lint at least a dozen times, reaching over and picking it up, examining it, then putting it back down to give the vacuum one more chance.

  3. DISCONFECT (dis kon fekt’) v. To sterilize the piece of candy you dropped on the floor by blowing on it, assuming this will somehow `remove’ all the germs.

  4. ELBONICS (el bon’ iks) n. The actions of two people maneuvering for one armrest in a movie theater.

  5. FRUST (frust) n. The small line of debris that refuses to be swept onto the dust pan and keeps backing a person across the room until he finally decides to give up and sweep it under the rug.

  6. LACTOMANGULATION (lak’ to man gyu lay’ shun) n. Manhandling the "open here" spout on a milk container so badly that one has to resort to the `illegal’ side.

  7. PEPPIER (pehp ee ay’) n. The waiter at a fancy restaurant whose sole purpose seems to be walking around asking diners if they want ground pepper.

  8. PHONESIA (fo nee’ zhuh) n. The affliction of dialing a phone number and forgetting whom you were calling just as they answer.

  9. PUPKUS (pup’ kus) n. The moist residue left on a window after a dog presses its nose to it.

  10. TELECRASTINATION (tel e kras tin ay’ shun) n. The act of always letting the phone ring at least twice before you pick it up, even when you’re only six inches away.

How do you spell Nietzsche?’

November 14, 1997

Uncle Rupert turned 98 recently. Considering what I’ve told you about him, his longevity may come as something of a surprise. It’s even more surprising when you consider that he comes from a family that considers lard an indispensable ingredient, if not a food group in itself. But you only know half the story. Uncle Rupert may well be the bravest man I know because he’s out risking his life on a daily basis. Sure, we all know about his groundbreaking trip to Europe, his research on kudzu, and his award-winning air conditioning repair, but these pale in comparison with the many daring feats of bravery Uncle Rupert has performed over the years.

His career as a risk-taker began with a bang, literally, when he designed what many still consider to be the most effective car-theft deterrent using only some gum, a coat hangar, and a shotgun. The fact that he installed it in his brother’s police car, and the ensuing publicity, made him something of a celebrity, and the similar device he installed in his home and then forgot about started him on a long and auspicious career as a combination daredevil and inventor, as well as giving him that distinctive hairstyle. All through the years, though, he’s never lost touch with the simple things: gasoline, fertilizer, small firearms, lawnmowers, live chickens… If Uncle Rupert were familiar with Nietzsche, his motto might be, "That which does not kill me makes me stronger." However, as a true individual, he invented a motto that fits him perfectly: "Huh. I wonder what this’ll do." Enjoy this week’s life-enhancing offering.

When I visit the cinema, I like to have some popcorn to munch. (I get the child-size container, because the small one is nearly the size of the large one, but that’s a topic for another day.) The popcorn is especially tasty with a topping of imitation butter-flavored lipids (usually just called "butter"). The trouble is, I never seem to get the correct amount of butter. No matter how carefully I choose my words, I get a different amount than I wish. Here are some examples from recent weeks.

Me: I’d like a child-sized popcorn with more than a little butter.
(Result: I get a lot of butter.)

Me: Could I get a child-sized popcorn?
Clerk: Would you like butter on that?
Me: Yes, I’d like a little butter. Thanks.
(Result: I get three drops of butter.)

Me: I’d also like a child-sized popcorn. And I need to get more than a little butter, but not a lot.
Clerk: Let me check with the manager.

Me: I’d like a child-sized popcorn with twelve milliliters of butter, please.
Clerk: Huh?

Me: Could I get a child-sized popcorn? And when you put butter on it, imagine the most butter anyone has ever wanted, and give me 60% of that.
Clerk: You want butter up to _here_? (Pointing three-quarters of the way up the side of the popcorn cup.)
Me: No, just a little butter will be fine.

Me: I need just some butter on that. Not like a lot, you understand, but just a few squirts.
Clerk: No problem.
(Result: Texaco wants drilling rights in the cup.)

Me: I’d like a child-sized popcorn with five squirts of butter, please.
Clerk: How much is a squirt?
Me: You know, one press of the plunger on the butter machine.
Clerk: What’s a plunger?
Me: That knob on top of the butter machine.
Clerk: That doesn’t come off.
Me: I don’t want the plunger. I want you to push it five times.
Clerk: I have to charge extra for that much butter.
Me: How much butter can I get without paying extra?
Clerk: A lot. An awful lot.
Me: Well, I don’t want that much. Just five squirts.
Clerk: I don’t think we have that much butter.
Me: Can I have it just a medium amount of butter, then?
Clerk: Okay.
(Result: I get seven squirts of butter. But the clerk forgot to charge me for my drink, so that’s a plus.)

Me: Could you fill the cup about one-third full, then put half a squirt of butter into it? Then do the next third the same way, then the top third.
Clerk: I can’t put butter onto only part of the cup. It gets onto all the rest of the popcorn. I can sell you two cups, though, and only put butter into one of them.
Me: How about if you make two cups that are half full. Put a lot of butter into one cup, and no butter in the other. Then mix the two together into one cup and give it to me.
Clerk: I’ll have to charge you extra for two cups.

Me: How about if I come back there and show you exactly how much butter I want?
Clerk: Sorry, sir, but it’s dangerous back here.

Me: On a scale of one to ten, the amount of butter I want is a six.
Clerk: Gotcha.
(Result: I get more butter than I’ve ever seen in my life.)

Me: Just this much butter. [Holding my thumb and forefinger one centimeter apart.]
(Result: At the bottom of the cup is a one-centimeter layer of butter.)

Me: Is there some kind of scale I can use to specify how much butter I want? You know, like the Beaufort scale or the Richter scale?
Clerk: I don’t think so.
Me: Dang. Well, just give me a light hailstorm of butter with no crop damage.
Clerk: Huh?

Me: I don’t want to get too much butter, but I want a lot. How about if I tell you when to stop?
Clerk: Okay. Tell me when it’s enough. [Fills a cup about one-third full of popcorn, starts pumping butter.]
Me: Stop! That’s enough!
Clerk: Don’t you want more popcorn than that?

Me: Could I get just a medium amount of butter?
Clerk: You mean, on some popcorn?
Me: Yes. I want a child-sized cup, please.
Clerk: We don’t have butter.
Me: You don’t?
Clerk: It’s this artificially butter-flavored coconut oil.
Me: That’s what I want.
Clerk: It’s not good for you, you know.
Me: Butter’s not very good for you, either.
Clerk: But we don’t have butter.
Me: Okay, I’ll have just a little of whatever you call it, then.
Clerk: But it’s not really butter.

Me: Box of Junior Mints, please.
Clerk: That’ll be $3.75. Do you want butter?

How about virtual bosses?

November 7, 1997

Personally I think virtual pets are a good idea. They allow parents to teach their children about responsibility without giving them any real responsibility, they give children the opportunity to learn about pets without breaking anything, forcing any life adjustment, or stinking up the house, and they teach children that death or fatal illness is a tragic thing, but that it can be fixed with a new battery. Doesn’t it make you wonder, though, what will happen when these children grow up and go into jobs? Inevitably some of them will be managers and supervisors, and just what kind of managers will they be? I think that question’s already been answered by a recent phenomenon in the work world: temps. Don’t get me wrong. I like temps. Some of my best friends are temps. At one time I was a temp myself. I spent a week shipping magazines in a warehouse and was awarded the title "Biggun" on my second day. But the same mindset that created virtual pets created temporary worker agencies first–maybe it was even the same people. Temps are like virtual employees. They’re cheap, easy to maintain, and are easily replaced. And because technology is always advancing, they, like pets, may soon be replaced by battery-operated counterparts. Keeping that in mind, maybe toy designers need to design electronic cardboard box environments complete with computer-generated welfare checks so children can learn about virtual unemployment.

Enjoy the following virtually funny offerings.

"Anytime you feel dumb, don’t worry. Check out the following excerpts from a Wall Street Journal article by Jim Carlton, and you’ll realize there are lots of people in the world far, far more idiotic than you could possibly be…"

  1. Compaq is considering changing the command "Press Any Key" to "Press Return Key" because of the flood of calls asking where the "Any" key is.

  2. AST technical support had a caller complaining that her mouse was hard to control with the dust cover on. The cover turned out to be the plastic bag the mouse was packaged in.

  3. Another Compaq technician received a call from a man complaining that the system wouldn’t read word processing files from his old floppy diskettes. After troubleshooting for magnets and heat failed to diagnose the problem, it was found that the customer labeled the diskettes then rolled them into the typewriter to type the labels.

  4. Another AST customer was asked to send a copy of her defective diskettes. A few days later a letter arrived from the customer along with Xeroxed copies of the floppies.

  5. A Dell technician advised his customer to put his troubled floppy back in the drive and close the door. The customer asked the tech to hold on, and was heard putting the phone down, getting up and crossing the room to close the door to his room.

  6. Another Dell customer called to say he couldn’t get his computer to fax anything. After 40 minutes of troubleshooting, the technician discovered the man was trying to fax a piece of paper by holding it in front of the monitor screen and hitting the "send" key.

  7. Another Dell customer needed help setting up a new program, so a Dell tech suggested he go to the local Egghead. "Yeah, I got me a couple of friends" the customer replied. When told Egghead was a software store, the man said, "Oh, I thought you meant for me to find a couple of geeks."

  8. Yet another Dell customer called to complain that his keyboard no longer worked. He had cleaned it by filling up his tub with soap and water and soaking the keyboard for a day, then removing all the keys and washing them individually.

  9. A Dell technician received a call from a customer who was enraged because his computer had told him he was "bad and an invalid". The tech explained that the computer’s "bad command" and "invalid" responses shouldn’t be taken personally.

  10. An exasperated caller to Dell Computer Tech Support couldn’t get her new Dell Computer to turn on. After ensuring the computer was plugged in, the technician asked her what happened when she pushed the power button. Her response, "I pushed and pushed on this foot pedal and nothing happens." The "foot pedal" turned out to be the computer’s mouse.

  11. Another customer called Compaq tech support to say her brand new computer wouldn’t work. She said she unpacked the unit, plugged it in, and sat there for 20 minutes waiting for something to happen. When asked what happened when she pressed the power switch, she asked "What power switch?"

  12. True story from a Novell NetWire SysOp: Caller: "Hello, is this Tech Support?" Tech: "Yes, it is. How may I help you?" Caller: "The cup holder on my PC is broken and I am within my warranty period. How do I go about getting that fixed?" Tech: "I’m sorry, but did you say a cup holder?" Caller: "Yes, it’s attached to the front of my computer." Tech: "Please excuse me if I seem a bit stumped, It’s because I am. Did you receive this as part of a promotional, at a trade show? How did you get this cup holder? Does it have any trademark on it?" Caller: "It came with my computer, I don’t know anything about a promotional. It just has ‘4X’ on it."

    At this point the Tech Rep had to mute the caller, because he couldn’t stand it. The caller had been using the load drawer of the CD-ROM drive as a cup holder, and snapped it off the drive!

It’s a conspiracy!

October 31, 1997

So I was walking across campus and saw this poster: "During the last three major earthquakes in North America, the space shuttle has been in orbit. Could the government be testing a dangerous new weapon? And I know more." Yeah, right. So I walked on, and saw this: "The rate of suicide among high-ranking CIA officials is 33.4 times that of the rest of the population. And I know more." My reaction? I think this guy NEEDS to know Prozac. Then this: "A certain brand of hard candy leaves a semi-metallic residue in your teeth that government agents can use to track your movements anywhere. And I know more." That’s it. I can only take so much before I have to say something. I’m an open-minded skeptic–I won’t dismiss the possibilities, but I like to have a little proof behind my conspiracy theories. Why? Because if I went on as little proof as Mr. "I Know More" probably does, I’d go completely insane. Consider this: All over the city, wrecking crews are tearing down historic buildings, restaurants, offices, and parking lots to build more parking lots. Soon there will be parking everywhere and nowhere to go. Hmm… And what about all those unanswered questions like: Who shot JFK? Does the government have proof of intelligent life in Cleveland? Why have I stopped mentioning Sri Lanka? Where have all my post-it notes gone? And is all this paranoia really part of a major conspiracy? Ah–there’s something to make you stop and think. Do I know more? Well…that’s for me to know and you to find out.

This is a list of actual (reportedly) English subtitles used in films made in Hong Kong:

  1. I am damn unsatisfied to be killed in this way.

  2. Fatty, you with your thick face have hurt my instep.

  3. Gun wounds again?

  4. Same old rules: no eyes, no groin.

  5. A normal person wouldn’t steal pituitaries.

  6. Damn, I’ll burn you into a BBQ chicken!

  7. Take my advice, or I’ll spank you without pants.

  8. Who gave you the nerve to get killed here?

  9. Quiet or I’ll blow your throat up.

  10. You always use violence. I should’ve ordered glutinous rice chicken.

  11. I’ll fire aimlessly if you don’t come out!

  12. You daring lousy guy.

  13. Beat him out of recognizable shape!

  14. I got knife scars more than the number of your leg’s hair!

  15. Beware! Your bones are going to be disconnected.

  16. The bullets inside are very hot. Why do I feel so cold?

  17. How can you use my intestines as a gift?

  18. This will be of fine service for you, you bag of the scum. I am sure you will not mind that I remove your manhoods and leave them out on the floor.


October 24, 1997

Not too long ago a scientific probe was fired at Saturn. While on the one hand, I think it’ll send back some amazing pictures and information, I also hope that, someday, we’ll be sending humans out that far, and they’re not exactly going to be happy when 72 pounds of Plutonium crashes into the hull. Hopefully the scientists on Earth will remember to tell the astronauts that the probe is there. I also hope the scientists who design the ship and plan the mission will review their science fiction movies because, as we’ve learned from Mir, life sometimes does imitate art. In case they don’t, here are a few suggestions:

  • DON’T design a ship with dark, twisting passageways. Aliens can hide in them too easily.

  • DON’T put anybody in hibernation, suspended animation, or anything else. Have you ever had that experience where the power goes off in your sleep and you wake up late for work? Well imagine if that happened two million miles away from Earth. You’d be pretty upset.

  • DON’T send a computer that’s smarter than the crew. If someone happens to beat it in chess, or if somebody’s floating soft drink shorts out a vital section, or if it just blows its civilized behavior fuse–the most sensitive, delicate, and least protected part–it’ll go crazy and kill everyone–starting with the people in hibernation.

  • DON’T send any trigger-happy psychopaths. Here’s an important note for the screening process: if the applicant wears a cowboy hat or screams "Yeeeehaaa!" at any time, scratch his name from the list.

  • DO send a ship with an escape pod that can hold more than one person. Why is it that whenever a crew of eight or nine on a ship the size of a small city gets attacked by a vicious, blood-hungry, eleven-foot tall indestructible alien, they discover that the escape pod can only hold one person?

  • DO eliminate anybody who says, "Hey, what’s this?" and grabs an object he doesn’t recognize. Natural selection will take care of him eventually, but not before he brings that eleven-foot tall alien on board. And finally,

  • DO let the Russians design it. Say what you like about Mir, but that thing’s been up there for eleven years. The average American car doesn’t last that long.

Enjoy this slightly more down-to-earth trivia.

Courtesy of Pete’s Wicked Ale

It was the accepted practice in Babylonia 4,000 years ago that for a month after the wedding, the bride’s father would supply his son-in-law with all the mead he could drink. Mead is a honey beer, and because their calendar was lunar based, this period was called the "honey month" – or what we know today as the "honeymoon".

Before thermometers were invented, brewers would dip a thumb or finger into the mix to find the right temperature for adding yeast. Too cold, and the yeast wouldn’t grow. Too hot, and the yeast would die. This thumb in the beer is where we get the phrase "rule of thumb".

In English pubs, ale is ordered by pints and quarts. so in old England, when customers got unruly, the bartender would yell at them to mind their own pints and quarts and settle down. It’s where we get the phrase "mind your P’s and Q’s".

Beer was the reason the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. It’s clear from the Mayflower’s log that the crew didn’t want to waste beer looking for a better site. The log goes on to state that the passengers "were hasted ashore and made to drink water that the seamen might have the more beer".

After consuming a bucket or two of vibrant brew they called aul, or ale, the Vikings would head fearlessly into battle often without armor or even shirts. In fact, the term "berserk" means "bare shirt" in Norse, and eventually took on the meaning of their wild battles.

In 1740 Admiral Vernon of the British fleet decided to water down the navy’s rum. Needless to say, the sailors weren’t too pleased and called Admiral Vernon, Old Grog, after the stiff wool grogram coats he wore. The term "grog" soon began to mean the watered down drink itself. When you were drunk on this grog, you were "groggy", a word still in use today.

Many years ago in England, pub frequenters had a whistle baked into the rim or handle of their ceramic cups. when they needed a refill, they used the whistle to get some service. "Wet your whistle", is the phrase inspired by this practice.

In the middle ages, "nunchion" was the word for liquid lunches. It was a combination of the words "noon scheken", or noon drinking. In those days, a large chunk of bread was called lunch. So if you ate bread with your nunchion, you had what we still today call a luncheon.

One night, a Delta twin-engine puddle jumper was flying somewhere above New Jersey. There were five people on board: the pilot, Michael Jordan, Bill Gates, the Dalai Lama and a hippie.

Suddenly, an illegal oxygen generator exploded loudly in the luggage compartment and the passenger cabin began to fill with smoke. The cockpit door opened and the pilot burst into the compartment. "Gentlemen," he began, "I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that we’re about to crash in New Jersey. The good news is that there are four parachutes, and I have one of them" With that, the pilot threw open the door and jumped from the plane.

Michael Jordan was on his feet in a flash. "Gentlemen," he said, "I am the world’s greatest athlete. The world needs great athletes. I think the world’s greatest athlete should have a parachute" With these words, he grabbed one of the remaining parachutes, hurtled through the door and into the night.

Bill Gates rose and said, "Gentlemen, I am the world’s smartest man. The world needs smart men. I think the world’s smartest man should have a parachute, too." He grabbed one, and out he jumped.

The Dalai Lama and the hippie looked at one another. Finally, the Dalai Lama spoke. "My son, "he said, "I have lived a satisfying life and have known the bliss of True Enlightenment. You have your life ahead of you; you take a parachute, and I will go down with the plane." The hippie smiled slowly and said, "Hey, don’t worry, pops. The World’s Smartest Man just jumped out wearing my backpack."

No, I really do read the articles

October 17, 1997

There are basically two kinds of fear, and I once experienced both on a Boy Scout camping trip. The first kind, private fear, is that fear only you have, and you have it when you’re either alone or everyone around you is asleep. I woke up in the middle of the night and, half asleep, thought I was in my room at home. I tried to turn on the light, and couldn’t move my arm. Panic. I tried to move my entire body and couldn’t–I was trapped, as though some enormous weight were pressing down on me. I broke into a cold sweat. I remembered that I was on a camping trip, that I was in a tent, but that still didn’t explain the paralysis. If he hadn’t snored, I never would have realized that one of my tentmates had, in his sleep, rolled over on top of me. By doing a sort of body-wave you’ve probably seen professional wrestlers perform, I was able to escape.

Earlier that evening, I’d experienced public fear–the collective fear of a large group, usually brought on by one very convincing idiot. We were supposed to be asleep, but we were hungry and rumaging through the leftovers. Then we heard the growl. "Oh man," said the idiot. "I read in this month’s Playboy that bears can’t find enough food and they’re eating people." Too scared even to ask another teenager where he was getting recent issues of Playboy, yet strangely impressed that someone really did read the articles, we all went into a panic. There was no safe place to hide from what sounded like a very large bear. After being thrown out of the scoutmaster’s van, we huddled together and waited for collective death. Growl. Growl. It was then that we noticed that this bear’s growls were amazingly regular. Slowly our group-hysteria became group humor as we realized that these growls were from one of the adults who had been sent to sleep outside the camp because he kept his tentmates awake…with his snoring! After exhausting ourselves laughing, we were hit with another fear: One day we would be old, and one day we might make the same noises ourselves.

Enjoy this week’s offering, which is almost as frightening.

DURHAM, N.C. (Reuters) – A North Carolina drivers’ education teacher has resigned after he was alleged to have told a student to chase down another driver, whom he then allegedly punched in the nose, a spokeswoman for the Durham Public Schools says.

Police in Chapel Hill said David Cline, 36, a teacher in neighboring Durham, was out teaching two students to drive on a local highway on Sept. 19 when he thought another driver, Jon Macklin, cut them off.

Police said Cline allegedly told the student driver to catch Macklin’s car and when both cars stopped at a red light, Cline got out of the car and approached Macklin. The two exchanged words and, according to Macklin, Cline punched him, police said.

Police learned of the incident shortly afterward when Cline’s car was pulled over for possible speeding. As the officer talked to the people in Cline’s car, Macklin pulled up and said he had been assaulted.

Cline was arrested, charged with assault and released on $400 bond.

Cline resigned from his job on Wednesday, the schools spokeswoman said. He had taught in the school system since 1986. REUTERS

Signs You May Be Drinking Too Much

  • You lose arguments with inanimate objects.

  • You have to hold onto the lawn to keep from falling off the earth.

  • Job is interfering with your drinking.

  • Your doctor finds traces of blood in your alcohol stream.

  • Career won’t progress beyond Senator from Massachusetts.

  • The back of your head keeps getting hit by the toilet seat.

  • Sincerely believe alcohol to be the elusive 5th food group.

  • 24 hours in a day, 24 beers in a case – coincidence?? – I think not!

  • "Two hands and just one mouth… – now THAT’S a drinking problem!"

  • You can focus better with one eye closed.

  • The parking lot seems to have moved while you were in the bar.

  • You fall off the floor…

  • Your twin sons are named Barley and Hops.

  • "Hey, 5 beers has just as many calories as a burger, screw dinner!"

  • Mosquitoes catch a buzz after attacking you

  • At AA meetings you begin: "Hi, my name is… uh…"

  • Your idea of cutting back is less salt.

  • You wake up in the bedroom, your underwear is in the bathroom, you fell asleep clothed. – hmm.

  • The whole bar says ‘Hi’ when you come in…

  • You think the Four Basic Food Groups are Caffeine, Nicotine, Alcohol, and [Women or Men].

  • Every night you’re beginning to find your roommate’s cat more and more attractive.

  • Roseanne looks good.

  • Don’t recognize wife unless seen through bottom of glass.

  • That damned pink elephant followed me home again.

  • Senators Kennedy and Packwood shake their heads when they walk past you.

  • "I’m as jober as a sudge."

  • The shrubbery’s drunk from too frequent watering.

  • You wake up screaming "TORA TORA TORA!" in the middle of the night.

A little dab’ll do ya.

October 10, 1997

I heard on the radio this morning that a local nuclear power plant may be recycling some potentially radioactive material. This means that there may be things like radioactive cans, pots, and pans on the market soon. A lot of people are upset about this, but I have trouble seeing why. According to all the Saturday Afternoon Monster Movies I used to watch, the real effects of radiation, if there are any effects, are pretty positive, and in the fifties, when people were exposed to a lot more radiation than they are now they seemed to have a much better understanding of and appreciation for radiation than they do now. Hey, without radiation, would Godzilla have been able to save us from that giant three-headed space dragon? I think not. As for real-life effects of radiation, my Uncle Rupert got himself X-rayed over a hundred times in less than a year once, and look what happened to him. The most common effect of radiation, according to the movies anyway, is to be that it makes things bigger. Ants, earthworms, even people who get exposed to high doses of radiation turn into giants. The doses people get from the recycled metal will probably be much lower, but we can still put them to good use. For example, this could literally add a whole new dimension to the WonderBra, and as far as guys are concerned, those radioactive zippers could be REALLY popular. I hope this week’s offering makes you more serene.

LHASA, TIBET–Employing the brash style that first brought him to prominence, Sri Dhananjai Bikram won the fifth annual International Yogi Competition yesterday with a world-record point total of 873.6.

"I am the serenest!" Bikram shouted to the estimated crowd of 20,000 yoga fans, vigorously pumping his fists. "No one is serener than Sri Dhananjai Bikram–I am the greatest monk of all time!"

Bikram averaged 1.89 breaths a minute during the two-hour competition, nearly .3 fewer than his nearest competitor, second-place finisher and two-time champion Sri Salil "The Hammer" Gupta.

The heavily favored Gupta was upset after the loss.

"I should be able to beat that guy with one lung tied," Gupta said. "I’m beside myself right now, and I don’t mean trans-bodily."

Bikram got off to a fast start at the Lhasa meet, which like most major competitions, is a six-event affair. In the first event, he attained total consciousness (TC) in just 2 minutes, 34 seconds, and set the tone for the rest of the meet by repeatedly shouting, "I’m blissful! You blissful?! I’m blissful!" to the other yogis.

Bikram, 33, burst onto the international yoga scene with a gold-mandala performance at the 1994 Bhutan Invitational. At that competition he premiered his aggressive style, at one point in the flexibility event sticking his middle toes out at the other yogis. While no prohibition exists against such behavior, according to Yoga League Commissioner Swami Prabhupada, such behavior is generally considered "un-Buddhalike."

"I don’t care what the critics say," Bikram said. "Sri Bikram is just gonna go out there and do Sri Bikram’s own yoga thing."

Before the Bhutan meet, Bikram had never placed better than fourth. Many said he had forsaken rigorous training for the celebrity status accorded by his Bhutan win, endorsing Nike’s new line of prayer mats and supposedly dating the Hindu goddess Shakti. But his performance this week will regain for him the number one computer ranking and earn him new respect, as well as for his coach Mahananda Vasti, the controversial guru some have called Bikram’s "guru."

"My special training diet for Bikram of one super-charged, carbo-loaded grain of rice per day was essential to his win," Vasti said.

The defeated Gupta denied that Bikram’s taunting was a factor in his inability to attain TC.

"I just wasn’t myself today," Gupta commented. "I wasn’t any self today. I was an egoless particle of the universal no-soul."

In the second event, flexibility, Bikram maintained the lead by supporting himself on his index fingers for the entire 15 minutes while touching the back of his skull to his lower spine. The feat was matched by Gupta, who first used the position at the 1990 Tokyo Zen-Off.

"That’s my meditative position of spiritual ecstasy, not his," remarked Gupta. "He stole my thunder."

Bikram denied the charge, saying, "Gupta’s been talking like that ever since he was a 3rd century Egyptian slave-owner."

Nevertheless, a strong showing by Gupta in the third event, the shotput, placed him within a lotus petal of the lead at the competition’s halfway point.

But event number four, the contemplation of unanswerable riddles known as koans, proved the key to victory for Bikram. The koan had long been thought the weak point of his spiritual arsenal, but his response to today’s riddle–"Show me the face you had before you were born"–was reportedly "extremely illuminative," according to Commissioner Prabhupada.

While koan answers are kept secret from the public for fear of exposing the uninitiated multitudes to the terror of universal truth, insiders claim his answer had Prabhupada and the two other judges "highly enlightened."

With the event victory, Bikram built himself a nearly insurmountable lead, one he sustained through the yak-milk churn and breathing events to come away with the upset victory.

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


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 "" or ""

  • 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".


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.