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Going Down?

October 23, 1998

Based on my observations of other people, I’ve managed to develop the following rules of elevator etiquette, which I’d like to share with you. Hopefully this will clear up any confusion and prevent any accidental outbreaks of courtesy:

  1. If you’re the only person waiting for the elevator, don’t bother pressing the "Up" or "Down" (whichever is appropriate) button. Simply stare at the elevator doors and send a mental signal.

  2. If there is someone already waiting for the elevator when you walk up, and the "Up" or "Down" button has already been pressed, be sure to lean over at at least a forty-five degree angle and tap the same button vigorously.

  3. If you’ve just stepped into the elevator and you see someone running to catch it before the doors close, reach over and tap the "Door close" button repeatedly. If the door actually closes in the face of the other person, you can make your coworkers laugh with an amusing impersonation of their final facial expression. This is even funnier if the person is someone you actually work with.

  4. If someone is holding the elevator for you, drag your feet until you actually reach the elevator door, then say, "I’m taking the stairs."

  5. If you’re the first person to get into the elevator, press the button for your floor then stand so close to the button panel that no one else can touch it. If anyone tries to say anything to you, stare intently at the ceiling.

  6. If you get into an elevator and there are other people behind you, make sure you stand in a place that will prevent as many of them as possible from entering.

  7. When the elevator is within eleven floors of where you want to get off, move in front of everyone and stand directly in front of the doors. This will ensure that you’ll be the first person off.

  8. If someone behind you has inconvenienced you by wanting to get off at a floor other than yours and indicate that they need to get around you to get out, move exactly one-eighth of an inch to the left or right. If they still can’t get around you, stare at the ceiling. This will teach them to not trouble you in the future. I hope all of you adopt these rules. Remember: you can make the difference between a world that is happy and pleasant and a world where, at least once a week, people like me have something to talk about.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


When Albert Einstein was making the rounds of the speaker’s circuit, he usually found himself eagerly longing to get back to his laboratory work. One night as they were driving to yet another rubber-chicken dinner, Einstein mentioned to his chauffeur (a man who somewhat resembled Einstein in looks & manner) that he was tired of speechmaking.

"I have an idea, boss," his chauffeur said. "I’ve heard you give this speech so many times. I’ll bet I could give it for you."

Einstein laughed loudly and said, "Why not? Let’s do it!"

When they arrived at the dinner, Einstein donned the chauffeur’s cap and jacket and sat in the back of the room. The chauffeur gave a beautiful rendition of Einstein’s speech and even answered a few questions expertly.

Then a supremely pompous professor asked an extremely esoteric question about anti-matter formation, digressing here and there to let everyone in the audience know that he was nobody’s fool.

Without missing a beat, the chauffeur fixed the professor with a steely stare and said, "Sir, the answer to that question is so simple that I will let my chauffeur, who is sitting in the back, answer it for me."


How To Handle A Jackass

As heard on The Phil Valentine Show

Unconfirmed but very funny – source unknown

If you occasionally have a really bad day, don’t take it out on someone you know. Take it out on someone you DON’T know. Now get this. I was sitting at my desk when I remembered a phone call I had to make. I found the number and dialed it. A man answered nicely. "Hello." I politely said, "This is Patrick Hannifin. Could I please speak to Robin Carter?" Suddenly, the phone was slammed down on me. I couldn’t believe anyone could be that rude. I tracked down Robin’s correct number and called her. She had transposed the last two digits. After I hung up with Robin, I spotted the wrong number still lying there on my desk. I decided to call it again. When the same person answered, I yelled, "You’re a jackass!" and hung up. Next to his phone number, I wrote the word "jackass" and put it in my desk drawer. Every couple of weeks, when I was paying bills or had a really bad day, I’d call him up. He’d answer and I’d yell, "You’re a jackass!" It would always cheer me up.

Later in the year, the phone company introduced caller ID. This was a real disappointment for me; I would have to stop calling the jackass. Then one day I had an idea. I dialed his number, then heard his voice. "Hello." "Hi. This is the sales office of the telephone company and I’m calling to see if you’re familiar with our caller ID program." He said, "No!" and slammed the phone down. I quickly called him back and said, "That’s because you’re a jackass!"

The reason I took the time to tell you this story is to show you how — if there’s ever anything really bothering you — you can do something about it.

(Keep reading, it gets better.)

The old lady at the mall really took her time pulling out of the parking space. I didn’t think she was ever going to leave. Finally, her car began to move and she started to slowly back out of the slot. I backed up a little more to give her plenty of room to pull out. Great, I thought, she’s finally leaving. All of a sudden, this black Camaro came flying up the parking aisle in the wrong direction and pulls into her space. I started honking my horn and yelling, "You can’t just do that, buddy. I was here first!" The guy climbed out of his Camaro, completely ignoring me. He walked toward the mall as if he didn’t even hear me. I thought to myself, this guy’s a jackass. (There sure a lot of jackasses in this world.) I noticed he had a "For Sale" sign in the back window of his car. I wrote down the number. Then, I hunted for another place to park. A couple of days later, I’m at home sitting at my desk. I had just gotten off the phone after calling jackass #1 and yelling, "You’re a jackass!" (It’s really easy to call him now since I have his number on speed dial.) I noticed the phone number of the guy with the black Camaro lying on my desk and thought I’d better call this guy, too.After a couple rings, someone answered the phone and said, "Hello."

I said, "Is this the man with the black Camaro for sale?"

"Yes, it is." "Can you tell me where I can see it?"

"Yes, I live at 1802 West 34th street. It’s a yellow house and the car’s parked right out front."

I said, "What’s your name?"

"My name is Don Hansen."

"When’s a good time to catch you, Don?"

"I’m home in the evenings."

"Listen, Don, can I tell you something?"

"Yes."

"You’re a jackass!" And I slammed the phone down. After I hung up, I added Don Hansen’s number to my speed dialer. For a while things seemed to be going better for me. Now when I had a problem, I had two jackasses to call. Then after several months of calling the jackasses and hanging up on them, it just wasn’t as enjoyable as it used to be. I gave the problem some serious thought and came up with a solution. First, I had my phone dial Jackass #1. A man answered and said (nicely), "Hello."

I yelled, "You’re a jackass!" but I didn’t hang up.

The jackass said, "Are you still there?"

I said, "Yeah."

He said, "Stop calling me."

I said, "No."

He said, "What’s your name, Pal?"

I said, "Don Hansen."

He said, "Where do you live?"

"1802 West 34th Street. It’s a yellow house and my black Camaro’s parked out front."

"I’m coming over right now, Don. You’d better start saying your prayers."

"Yeah, like I’m really scared, jackass!" and I hung up.

Then I called Jackass #2. "Hello."

I said, "Hello, Jackass!"

He said, "If I ever find out who you are…"

"You’ll what?"

"I’ll kick your butt."

"Well, here’s your chance. I’m coming over right now, jackass!" And I hung up. Then I picked up the phone and called the police. I told them I was at 1802 West 34th Street and that I was going to kill my lover as soon as he got home. Then I made a quick call to Channel 13 about the gang war going on down W. 34th Street. After that, I climbed into my car and headed over to 34th Street to watch the whole thing. Glorious! If you want to watch two jackasses kicking the crap out of each other in front of six squad cars and a police helicopter, I taped it off the evening news.

T-t-talkin’ Bout My Generation

October 16, 1998

A couple of weeks ago I ranted about things retro. This was, I admit, partly out of anger and a little fear. When I was a teenager, in the eighties, it was funny that the fifties and the sixties were making a comeback. When things from the seventies started showing up, it began to get annoying. When people started mining that vast cultural wasteland known as the eighties, when they started, in effect, talkin’ ’bout my generation, I got scared. I realized that my carefree youth, with its narrow leather ties, spiked hair, headbands, cut-up t-shirts, and completely synthetic music was behind me. And I was glad. When those things were brought back as part of the Better Living Through Nostalgia program, that was bad. But as as long as the eighties are coming back, why not bring back some of the more interesting inventions of that decade? I’m specifically thinking about paint guns, an invention which explains some of the fashions of the eighties.

I only had the joy of participating in one paint gun fight. Well, it wasn’t really a fight. A friend of mine had one paint gun. (It was a stroke of marketing genius to make paint guns too expensive for the average teenager to afford more than one. This created small arms races in suburban neighborhoods that took our mind off the big arms races going on at the time) From a distance of sixty feet, he aimed at my leg, and fired it at me. An object about the size and hardness of a marble knocked me to the ground. I was not, as I’d been led to believe would happen, splattered with a really cool shade of fluorescent green. Wow! Those really were the good old days.

Enjoy this week’s non-retro offering.


When I was in high school I used to be terrified of my girlfriend’s father, who I believe suspected me of wanting to place my hands on his daughter’s chest. He would open the door and immediately affect a good-naturedly murderous expression, holding out a handshake that, when gripped, felt like it could squeeze carbon into diamonds.

Now, years later, it is my turn to be the dad. Remembering how unfairly persecuted I felt when I would pick up my dates, I do my best to make my daughter’s suitors feel even worse. My motto: wilt them in the living room and they’ll stay wilted all night.

"So," I’ll call out jovially. "I see you have your nose pierced. Is that because you’re stupid, or did you merely want to APPEAR stupid?"

As a dad, I have some basic rules, which I have carved into two stone tablets that I have on display in my living room.

Rule One: If you pull into my driveway and honk you’d better be delivering a package, because you’re sure as heck not picking anything up.

Rule Two: You do not touch my daughter in front of me. You may glance at her, so long as you do not peer at anything below her neck. If you cannot keep your eyes or hands off of my daughter’s body, I will remove them.

Rule Three: I am aware that it is considered fashionable for boys of your age to wear their trousers so loosely that they appear to be falling off their hips. Please don’t take this as an insult, but you and all of your friends are complete idiots. Still, I want to be fair and open minded about this issue, so I propose this compromise: You may come to the door with your underwear showing and your pants ten sizes too big, and I will not object. However, In order to assure that your clothes do not, in fact, come off during the course of your date with my daughter, I will take my electric staple gun and fasten your trousers securely in place around your waist.

Rule Four: I’m sure you’ve been told that in today’s world, sex without utilizing a "barrier method" of some kind can kill you. Let me elaborate: when it comes to sex, I am the barrier, and I WILL kill you.

Rule Five: In order for us to get to know each other, we should talk about sports, politics, and other issues of the day. Please do not do this. The only information I require from you is an indication of when you expect to have my daughter safely back at my house, and the only word I need from you on this subject is "early."

Rule Six: I have no doubt you are a popular fellow, with many opportunities to date other girls. This is fine with me as long as it is okay with my daughter. Otherwise, once you have gone out with my little girl, you will continue to date no one but her until she is finished with you. If you make her cry, I will make YOU cry.

Rule Seven: As you stand in my front hallway, waiting for my daughter to appear, and more than an hour goes by, do not sigh and fidget. If you want to be on time for the movie, you should not be dating. My daughter is putting on her makeup, a process which can take longer than painting the Golden Gate Bridge. Instead of just standing there, why don’t you do something useful, like changing the oil in my car?

Rule Eight: The following places are not appropriate for a date with my daughter: Places where there are beds, sofas, or anything softer than a wooden stool. Places where there are no parents, policemen, or nuns within eyesight. Places where there is darkness. Places where there is dancing, holding hands, or happiness. Places where the ambient temperature is warm enough to induce my daughter to wear shorts, tank tops, midriff T-shirts, or anything other than overalls, a sweater, and a goose down parka zipped up to her throat. Movies with a strong romantic or sexual theme are to be avoided; movies which feature chainsaws are okay. Hockey games are okay.

My daughter claims it embarrasses her to come downstairs and find me attempting to get her date to recite these eight simple rules from memory. I’d be embarrassed too–there are only eight of them, for crying out loud! And, for the record, I did NOT suggest to one of these cretins that I’d have these rules tattooed on his arm if he couldn’t remember them. (I checked into it and the cost is prohibitive.) I merely told him that I thought writing the rules on his arm with a ball point might be inadequate–ink washes off–and that my wood burning set was probably a better alternative.

One time, when my wife caught me having one of my daughter’s would-be suitors practice pulling into the driveway, get out of the car, and go up to knock on the front door (he had violated rule number one, so I figured he needed to run through the drill a few dozen times) she asked me why I was being so hard on the boy. "Don’t you remember being that age?" she challenged.

Of course I remember. Why do you think I came up with the eight simple rules?

Void Where Prohibited

October 9, 1998

I was at a gas station pumping gas (big surprise there) and I noticed a sign on the pump that said, "This gas is guaranteed!" Guaranteed to do what? Make the car go? Burst into flames if I throw a burning match onto it? Magically grant me the ability to rollerskate? Then, in very small print below that, was this: "Some restrictions apply." Oh, well, THAT cleared everything up. I’ll think twice about suing a big oil company if I happen to slip and break my ankle at the roller rink. On the gas pump itself was an advertisement for candy bars, and thank goodness that was there. All these years I’d thought gasoline fumes made me sick, but what it really was doing was giving me a craving for crispy chocolate and creamy peanut butter. And those advertisements go really well with the warnings about gasoline fumes causing cancer in laboratory rats. Boy, I’m getting really hungry just thinking about it. At least I assume that feeling in my stomach is hunger.

Before I share the offerings with you, here’s something completely unrelated to think about this weekend: Do national weather reporters have some kind of secret list of cute names for regions of the United States? And is there any way the rest of us can get access to this list? Or am I the only one baffled by statements like, "This storm front is going to cause trouble from the Beehive State to the Buckeyes"?

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


A magazine ran a Dilbert quotes contest. These are actual quotes from managers out there.

As of tomorrow, employees will only be able to access the building using individual security cards. Pictures will be taken next Wednesday and employees will receive their cards in two weeks. (This was the winning quote from Charles Hurst at Sun Microsystems)

What I need is a list of specific unknown problems we will encounter.

How long is this Beta guy going to keep testing our stuff?

E-mail is not to be used to pass on information or data. It should be used only for company business.

Turnover is good for the company, as it proves that we are doing a good job in training people.

This project is so important, we can’t let things that are more important interfere with it.

Doing it right is no excuse for not meeting the schedule.

No one will believe you solved this problem in one day! We’ve been working on it for months. Now, go act busy for a few weeks and I’ll let you know when it’s time to tell them.


  • Eagles may soar, but weasels aren’t sucked into jet engines.
  • If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.
  • A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.
  • Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.
  • For every action, there is an equal and opposite criticism.
  • He who hesitates is probably right.
  • Never do card tricks for the group you play poker with.
  • No one is listening until you make a mistake.
  • Success always occurs in private, and failure in full view.
  • The colder the X-ray table, the more of your body is required on it.
  • The hardness of the butter is proportional to the softness of the bread.
  • The severity of the itch is proportional to the reach.
  • To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research.
  • To succeed in politics, it is often necessary to rise above your principles.
  • Two wrongs are only the beginning.
  • You never really learn to swear until you learn to drive.
  • The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard.
  • Monday is an awful way to spend 1/7th of your life.
  • The sooner you fall behind, the more time you’ll have to catch up.
  • A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
  • If you must choose between two evils, pick the one you’ve never tried before.
  • Change is inevitable….except from vending machines.
  • Don’t sweat petty things….or pet sweaty things.
  • A fool and his money are soon partying.
  • Money can’t buy love. But it CAN rent a very close imitation.
  • Plan to be spontaneous tomorrow.
  • Always try to be modest. And be damn proud of it!
  • If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple of payments.
  • How many of you believe in telekinesis? Raise my hands….
  • Attempt to get a new car for your spouse–it’ll be a great trade!
  • Drugs may lead to nowhere, but at least it’s the scenic route.
  • I’d kill for a Nobel Peace Prize.
  • Everybody repeat after me….."We are all individuals."
  • Death to all fanatics!
  • Guests who kill talk show hosts–On the last Geraldo.
  • Chastity is curable, if detected early.
  • Love may be blind, but marriage is a real eye-opener.
  • Bills travel through the mail at twice the speed of checks.
  • Hard work pays off in the future. Laziness pays off now.
  • Borrow money from pessimists–they don’t expect it back.
  • Beware of geeks bearing gifs.
  • Half the people you know are below average.
  • 99 percent of lawyers give the rest a bad name.
  • 42.7 percent of all statistics are made up on the spot.
  • A conscience is what hurts when all your other parts feel so good.
  • And finally …
  • If at first you don’t succeed, then skydiving definitely isn’t for you.

Look Forward In Horror

October 2, 1998

That’s it! I’m officially calling for the United Nations, or, if they’re too busy, some other organization like the U.S. Postal Service or the Piano Tuners’ Association to officially declare all things "retro" a violation of human rights. Not only have the 70’s come back, but the 80’s as well–and they both came back at about the same time. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw someone wearing really baggy pants and a t-shirt that said, "1995 Lives Again!" Here’s the worst example of "retro" yet: the other day I saw a guy with a mohawk. (The mohawk hairstyle, for those of you who don’t remember, meant shaving the sides of your head and leaving a thin strip of hair down the middle. It was actually inspired not by a Native American tribe, but by middle-aged men in the 70’s who, in an effort to pretend they weren’t really bald, grew their hair long on one side of their heads and combed it over. One night some stoned teenagers playing with hair clippers decided to try to impersonate this look. The rest is, unfortunately, history.) Maybe I’m overreacting to the guy with the mohawk, though. It’s possible that he comes from a small town where such things are still shocking. In the large cities, though, very little is shocking anymore. Every conceivable body part has been pierced, and a new fad of having plastic implants surgically placed under the skin is popular even among people who don’t believe they’re really aliens from the "Star Trek" universe. I predict the next big bizarre fashion teenagers will go for will be be chopping off fingers and toes and sewing them onto their foreheads. With fashions like that, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that so many people want to throw things into reverse.

Enjoy this week’s retro-offering.


HOW TO BUILD AN ATOM BOMB

The following paper is taken from The Journal of Irreproducible Results, Volume 25/Number 4/1979. P.O. Box 234 Chicago Heights, Illinois 60411

1.INTRODUCTION

Worldwide controversy has been generated recently from several court decisions in the United States which have restricted popular magazines from printing articles which describe how to make an atomic bomb. The reason usually given by the courts is that national security would be compromised if such information were generally available. But, since it is commonly known that all of the information is publicly available in most major metropolitan libraries, obviously the court’s officially stated position is covering up a more important factor; namely, that such atomic devices would prove too difficult for the average citizen to construct. The United States courts cannot afford to insult the vast majorities by insinuating that they do not have the intelligence of a cabbage, and thus the "official" press releases claim national security as a blanket restriction.

The rumors that have unfortunately occurred as a result of widespread misinformation can (and must) be cleared up now, for the construction project this month is the construction of a thermonuclear device, which will hopefully clear up any misconceptions you might have about such a project. We will see how easy it is to make a device of your very own in ten easy steps, to have and hold as you see fit, without annoying interference from the government or the courts.

The project will cost between $5,000 and $30,000, depending on how fancy you want the final product to be. Since last week’s column, "Let’s Make a Time Machine", was received so well in the new step-by-step format, this month’s column will follow the same format.

2.CONSTRUCTION METHOD

1.First, obtain about 50 pounds (110 kg) of weapons grade Plutonium at your local supplier (see NOTE 1). A nuclear power plant is not recommended, as large quantities of missing Plutonium tends to make plant engineers unhappy. We suggest that you contact your local terrorist organization, or perhaps the Junior Achievement in your neighborhood.

2.Please remember that Plutonium, especially pure, refined Plutonium, is somewhat dangerous. Wash your hands with soap and warm water after handling the material, and don’t allow your children or pets to play in it or eat it. Any left over Plutonium dust is excellent as an insect repellant. You may wish to keep the substance in a lead box if you can find one in your local junk yard, but an old coffee can will do nicely.

3.Fashion together a metal enclosure to house the device. Most common varieties of sheet metal can be bent to disguise this enclosure as, for example, a briefcase, a lunch pail, or a Buick. Do not use tinfoil.

4.Arrange the Plutonium into two hemispheral shapes, separated by about 4 cm. Use rubber cement to hold the Plutonium dust together.

5.Now get about 100 pounds (220 kg) of trinitrotoluene (TNT). Gelignite is much better, but messier to work with. Your helpful hardware man will be happy to provide you with this item.

6.Pack the TNT around the hemisphere arrangement constructed in step 4. If you cannot find Gelignite, fell free to use TNT packed in with Playdo or any modeling clay. Colored clay is acceptable, but there is no need to get fancy at this point.

7.Enclose the structure from step 6 into the enclosure made in step 3. Use a strong glue such as "Crazy Glue" to bind the hemisphere arrangement against the enclosure to prevent accidental detonation which might result from vibration or mishandling.

8.To detonate the device, obtain a radio controlled (RC) servo mechanism, as found in RC model airplanes and cars. With a modicum of effort, a remote plunger can be made that will strike a detonator cap to effect a small explosion. These detonator caps can be found in the electrical supply section of your local supermarket. We recommend the "Blast-O-Mactic" brand because they are no deposit-no return.

9.Now hide the completed device from the neighbors and children. The garage is not recommended because of high humidity and the extreme range of temperatures experienced there. Nuclear devices have been known to spontaneously detonate in these unstable conditions. The hall closet or under the kitchen sink will be perfectly suitable.

10.Now you are the proud owner of a working thermonuclear device! It is a great ice-breaker at parties, and in a pinch, can be used for national defense.

3. THEORY OF OPERATION

The device basically works when the detonated TNT compresses the Plutonium into a critical mass. The critical mass then produces a nuclear chain recation similar to the domino chain reaction (discussed in this column, "Dominos on the March", March, 1968). The chain reaction then promptly produces a big thermonuclear reaction. And there you have it, a 10 megaton explosion!

4.NEXT MONTH’S COLUMN

In next month’s column, we will learn how to clone your neighbor’s wife in six easy steps. This project promises to be an exciting weekend full of fun and profit. Common kitchen utensils will be all you need. See you next month!

5.NOTES

1. Plutonium (PU), atomic number 94, is a radioactive metallic element formed by the decay of Neptunium and is similar in chemical structure to Uranium, Saturium, Jupiternium, and Marisum.

6.PREVIOUS MONTH’S COLUMNS

1.Let’s Make Test Tube Babies! May, 1979
2.Let’s Make a Solar System! June, 1979
3.Let’s Make an Economic Recession! July, 1979
4.Let’s Make an Anti-Gravity Machine! August, 1979
5.Let’s Make Contact with an Alien Race! September, 1979

In the News…

September 25, 1998

In the news this week, it’s campaign season again. Like Christmas it comes earlier every year, and most people promise themselves, as soon as it’s over, that they’re going to be prepared and still end up making a lot of bad decisions at the last minute. Like bad Christmas gifts, lousy politicians are expensive and cannot be returned to the place they came from because, frankly, no one really wants them. And like the inevitable Christmas fruitcake, they seem really good when you read about them, and they’re full of things that, separately, sound really good but have been ruined by the process that turned them into fruitcakes. I’m sure all of you are more than capable of coming up with more resemblances between politicians and fruitcakes, so here’s are some reasons politicians aren’t like fruitcakes: it’s easy to throw away a fruitcake, fruitcakes will eventually decompose, fruitcakes will not accept bribes, preside over witch hunts, accuse other fruitcakes of being fruitcakes while claiming they themselves are twenty-two grain wheatbread, or with a straight face tell you they have your best interests at heart then give you stomach ulcers. Finally, fruitcakes will never come up with inane campaign slogans like this one I saw today: "Vote for Nate! He’s first rate! He’ll delegate, regulate, and be just great!" Really? He just made me want to regurgitate.


SO WHAT ARE YOU SMUGGLING?

Juan comes up to the Mexican border on his bicycle. He has two large bags over his shoulders. The guard stops him and says, "What’s in the bags?"

"Sand," answered Juan.

The guard says, "We’ll just see about that. Get off the bike."

The guard takes the bags and rips them apart; he empties them out and finds nothing in them but sand. He detains Juan overnight and has the sand analyzed, only to discover that there is nothing but pure sand in the bags The guard releases Juan, puts the sand into new bags, hefts them onto the man’s shoulders, and lets him cross the border.

A week later, the same thing happens. The guard asks, "What have you got?"

"Sand," says Juan.

The guard does his thorough examination and discovers that the bags contain nothing but sand. He gives the sand back to Juan, and Juan crosses the border on his bicycle.

This sequence of events if repeated every day for three years. Finally, Juan doesn’t show up one day and the guard meets him in a Cantina in Mexico.

"Hey, Buddy," says the guard, "I know you are smuggling something. It’s driving me crazy. It’s all I think about….. I can’t sleep. Just between you and me, what are you smuggling?"

Juan sips his beer and says, "Bicycles."


You might be a teacher if…

You believe the staff room should have a Valium salt lick.

You find humor is other people’s stupidity.

You want to slap the next person who says, "Must be nice to have all your holidays and summers free.

You can tell it’s a full moon without ever looking outside.

You believe "shallow gene pool" should have it’s own box on the report card.

You believe that unspeakable evil will befall you if anyone says, "Boy, the kids are sure mellow today."

When out in public, you feel the urge to talk to strange children and correct their behavior.

Marking all A’s on the report card would make your life SOOO much simpler.

When you mention "vegetables" and you’re not talking about a food group.

You think people should be required to get a government permit before being allowed to reproduce.

You wonder how some parents ever MANAGED to reproduce.

You believe in aerial spraying of Prozac.

You really encourage an obnoxious parent to check into home schooling.

You’ve never had your profession slammed by someone who would NEVER DREAM of doing your job.

You can’t have children of your own, because there is NO name you could give a child that wouldn’t bring on high blood pressure the moment you heard it.

Meeting a child’s parents INSTANTLY answers the question, "Why is this kid like this?"

Yes, I have lost my mind.

September 18, 1998

Because shopping requires so little brainpower, I’m always on the lookout for strange and innovative products in the grocery store. This week’s winner is: sauerkraut juice. I’m not kidding. The same people who make sauerkraut in a jar, sauerkraut in a can, and sauerkraut that already comes with a written list of comments your kids can make when you put sauerkraut in front of them (including such appetizing remarks as, "What monkey threw this up?") apparently took a complete holiday from reality and decided to try to carve a wedge out of the juice market. So, in my local grocery store, and probably in yours too, in the same aisle where you find beet juice, clam juice, and tomato-orange-mutton juice cocktail, you can now find aluminum cans of sauerkraut juice sold in six-packs for convenience.

Why would anyone want or need sauerkraut juice? Well, let’s say you’re throwing an elegant dinner party for the ambassador from Austria and you realize that you don’t have any sauerkraut to serve alongside the lobster thermidor. How embarrassing! And, as so often happens, all the grocery stores in town are out of sauerkraut, but one does happen to have just one sixpack of sauerkraut juice left. So you buy half a dozen cabbages, chop them into a pot, and pour sauerkraut juice over the whole thing and cook it. This is, believe it or not, how regular sauerkraut is made. It’s a little known fact that most store-bought varieties of sauerkraut are made with juice stock that is decades old and has been recycled countless times. There are huge refineries that capture sauerkraut juice from kitchen sinks and landfills everywhere.

Recently, though, successful experiments with sauerkraut cloning have threatened to make these factories obsolete, which would cost millions of workers their jobs and cripple sauerkraut-based economies all over the world. In response, the sauerkraut industry has boldly moved into the juice market. And just think of the possibilities! You can put it in your childrens’ lunches. You can replace your friend’s soda for a prank. And what drab punch wouldn’t be livened up with a shot or two of sauerkraut juice? So support the workers and be the life of the party–buy some sauerkraut juice today!


FOOD SPOILAGE TABLE

THE GAG TEST
Anything that makes you gag is spoiled (except for leftovers from what you cooked for yourself last night).

EGGS
When something starts pecking its way out of the shell, the egg is probably past its prime.

DAIRY PRODUCTS
Milk is spoiled when it starts to look like yogurt. Yogurt is spoiled when it starts to look like cottage cheese. Cottage cheese is spoiled when it starts to look like regular cheese. Regular cheese is nothing but spoiled milk anyway and can’t get any more spoiled than it is already.

MAYONNAISE
If it makes you violently ill after you eat it, then the mayonnaise is spoiled.

FROZEN FOODS
Frozen foods that have become an integral part of the defrosting problem in your freezer compartment will probably be spoiled – (or wrecked anyway) by the time you pry them out with a kitchen knife.

MEAT
If opening the refrigerator door causes stray animals from a three-block radius to congregate outside your house, the meat is spoiled.

LETTUCE
Bib lettuce is spoiled when you can’t get it off the bottom of the vegetable crisper without Comet.

CANNED GOODS
Any canned goods that have become the size or shape of a basketball should be disposed of. Carefully.

CARROTS
A carrot that you can tie a clove hitch in is not fresh.

WINE
It should not taste like salad dressing.

POTATOES
Fresh potatoes do not have roots, branches, or dense, leafy undergrowth.

CHIP DIP
If you can take it out of its container and bounce it on the floor, it has gone bad.

GENERAL RULE OF THUMB:
Most food cannot be kept longer than the average life span of a hamster. Keep a hamster in your refrigerator to gauge this.


  • Whose cruel idea was it for the word "lisp" to have an "s" in it?

  • Light travels faster than sound – isn’t that why some people appear bright until you hear them speak?

  • How come abbreviated is such a long word?

  • If it’s zero degrees outside today and it’s supposed to be twice as cold tomorrow, how cold is it going to be?

  • Why do you press harder on a remote-control when you know the battery is dead?

  • Since Americans throw rice at weddings, do people in Asia throw hamburgers?

  • Why are they called buildings, when they’re already finished? Shouldn’t they be called builts?

  • Why are they called apartments when they’re all stuck together?

  • Why do people without a watch look at their wrist when you ask them what time it is?

  • Why do you ask someone without a watch what time it is?

  • Why does sour cream have an expiration date?

  • Who is general failure and why is he reading my disk?

  • The light went out, but where to?

  • Why do banks charge you a non-sufficient funds fee on money they already know you don’t have?

  • Does the reverse side also have a reverse side?

  • Why is the alphabet in that order?

  • If the universe is everything, and scientists say that the universe is expanding, what is it expanding into?

  • Why is a carrot more orange than an orange?

  • When two airplanes almost collide why do they call it a near miss? Shouldn’t it be called a near hit?

  • Do fish get cramps after eating?

  • Why are there 5 syllables in the word "monosyllabic"?

  • Why do they call it the Department of the Interior when they are in charge of everything outdoors?

  • Why do scientists call it research when looking for something new?

  • When I erase a word with a pencil, where does it go?

  • Why is it, when a door is open it’s ajar, but when a jar is open, it’s not a door?

  • How come Superman could stop bullets with his chest, but always ducked when someone threw a gun at him?

  • If "con" is the opposite of "pro", then what is the opposite of progress? (go on – go there)

  • Why is lemon juice mostly artificial ingredients but dishwashing liquid contains real lemons?

  • How much deeper would the ocean be if sponges didn’t grow in it?

  • Why buy a product that it takes 2000 flushes to get rid of?

  • Why do we wash bath towels? Aren’t we clean when we use them?

  • Why do we put suits in a garment bag and put garments in a suitcase?

  • Why doesn’t glue stick to the inside of the bottle?

  • Do Roman paramedics refer to IV’s as "4’s"?

  • Why doesn’t Tarzan have a beard?

  • If man evolved from monkeys and apes, why do we still have monkeys and apes? Neanderthals are extinct.

  • Should you trust a stockbroker who’s married to a travel agent?

  • Is boneless chicken considered an invertebrate?

  • Do married people live longer than single people or does it just SEEM longer?

  • I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, "Where’s the self-help section?" She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.

  • If all those psychics know the winning lottery numbers, why are they all still working?

Horror-scopes

September 11, 1998

A local weekly newspaper has a creative and amusing horoscope writer who sounds, even to an open-minded skeptic like myself, almost believable. (For those of you who are wondering what an open-minded skeptic is, here’s an example: I firmly believe there are intelligent creatures on other planets, but it’s going to take more than the Weekly World News and three-dozen abductees from trailer parks to convince me that they’re actually visiting us.) The predictions are also never bad–at least until yesterday. "If I could, Sagittarius, I’d send you a tape with nothing but Credence Clearwater Revival’s Bad Moon Risin’ on it. Listening to it repeatedly might help you sidestep what’s coming, but I doubt it." Skeptic though I may be, I’m open-minded enough to be completely terrorized by such a prediction. So I went for a second opinion. Every horoscope I could find told me the same thing: dark and mysterious forces were moving my way.

I once read a horoscope that said, "Today, try to avoid being run over by a delivery truck." Now I had the feeling that I could be buried in a bunker in the desert, and that not only would the delivery truck still find me, but that being run over was unavaoidable. The stress gave me a headache, so, while digging in my desk for some aspirin that I hoped would not be laced with arsenic, I found a fortune cookie. I’m sure it was a sign. Forces I don’t believe in but am still inclined to treat with respect were operating in strange ways. I opened the cookie and read: "Always get a second opinion." Well THAT helped a lot! If you don’t hear from me next week, here’s a bit of advice: don’t believe everything you read.

Enjoy this week’s offerings you can really believe in.


Bumper sticker messages

Wanted: Meaningful overnight relationship.

I used to have a handle on life, but it broke.

Don’t take life too seriously: You’re not getting out alive, anyway.

I got a gun for my wife. Best trade I ever made.

Jesus may love you, but he won’t respect you in the morning.

Anyone can give up smoking, but it takes a REAL man to face cancer.

I need someone really bad… Are you really bad?

To all you virgins… thanks for nothing.

I’m not a complete idiot. Some parts are missing.

My kid had sex with your honor student.

If something goes without saying, LET IT!

Help wanted — telepathy: you know where to apply.

Jesus paid for our sins… Now, lets get our money’s worth!

I don’t have to be dead to donate my organ. Want it?

WARNING! Driver only carries $20.00 in ammunition.

I want to die in my sleep like my grandfather… not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car.

God loves stupid people. That’s why he made so many.

I said "NO" to drugs… but they just WOULDN’T listen.

I didn’t fight my way to the top of the food chain to be a vegetarian.

When you do a good deed, get a receipt in case heaven is like the IRS.

Rainy days and automatic weapons always get me down.

When there’s a Will, I want to be in it!

Warning: Dates on calendar are closer than they appear.

Give me ambiguity or give me something else.

Don’t drink and drive. You might hit a bump, and spill your drink.

Elvis is dead, and I’m not feeling so marvelous myself.

Always remember you’re unique, just like everyone else.

Very funny, Scotty… Now beam down my clothes!

Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be happy.

Be nice to your kids. They’ll choose your nursing home.


It has come to our attention recently that many of you have been turning in time sheets that specify large amounts of Miscellaneous Unproductive Time (code 5309). To our department, unproductive time is not a problem. What is a problem, however, is not knowing exactly what you are doing with your unproductive time. The newly installed Activity Based Costing Financial System requires additional information to achieve its goals. Attached below is a sheet specifying a tentative extended job code list based on our observations of employee activities. The list will allow you to specify with better precision what you are doing during your unproductive time. Please begin using this job code list immediately and let us know about any difficulties you may encounter.

Task Code Explanation:

5000 Surfing the Net
5001 Reading/Writing Social Email
5002 Sharing Social E-Mail (see codes #5003, #5004)
5003 Collecting Jokes and Other Humorous Material via E-Mail
5004 Forwarding Jokes and Other Humorous Material via E-Mail
5005 Faxing Jokes and Other Humorous Material to Friends not on E-Mail
5316 Meeting
5317 Obstructing Communications at Meeting
5318 Trying to sound knowledgeable while in Meeting
5319 Waiting for Break
5320 Waiting for Lunch
5321 Waiting for End of Day
5322 Vicious Verbal Attacks Directed at Coworker
5323 Vicious Verbal Attacks Directed at Coworker while Coworker Is Not Present
5393 Covering for Incompetence of Coworker Friend
5400 Trying to Explain Concept to Coworker Who Is Not Interested in Learning
5401 Trying to Explain Concept to Coworker Who is Stupid
5402 Trying to Explain Concept to Coworker Who Hates Me
5481 Buying Snack
5482 Eating Snack
5500 Filling Out Time Sheet
5501 Inventing Time Sheet Entries
5502 Waiting for Something to Happen
5503 Scratching Myself
5504 Sleeping
5510 Feeling Bored
5600 Bitching about Lousy Job (see code #5610)
5601 Bitching about Low Pay (see code #5610)
5602 Bitching about Long Hours (see code #5610)
5603 Bitching about Coworker (see codes #5322, #5323)
5604 Bitching about Boss (see code #5610)
5605 Bitching about Personal Problems
5610 Searching for a New Job
5640 Miscellaneous Unproductive Bitching
5701 Not Actually Present at Job
5702 Suffering from Eight-Hour Flu
6102 Ordering Out
6103 Waiting for Food Delivery to Arrive
6104 Taking it Easy while Digesting Food
6200 Using Company Resources for Personal Profit
6201 Stealing Company Goods
6202 Making Excuses after Accidentally Destroying Company Goods
6203 Using Company Phone to Make Long-Distance Personal Calls
6206 Gossiping
6207 Planning a Social Event
6210 Feeling Sorry for Myself
6221 Pretending to Work While Boss is Watching
6222 Pretending to Enjoy My Job
6223 Pretending I Like My Coworkers
6224 Pretending I Like Important People When in Reality They Are Jerks
6238 Miscellaneous Unproductive Fantasizing
6601 Running my Own Business on Company Time (see code #6603)
6602 Complaining
6603 Writing a Book on Company Time
6604 Planning a Vacation on Company Time
6611 Staring Into Space
6612 Staring at Computer Screen
6615 Transcendental Meditation
7281 Extended Trip to the Bathroom (at least 10 min.)
7400 Talking with Divorce Lawyer on Phone
7401 Talking with Plumber on Phone
7402 Talking with Dentist on Phone
7403 Talking with Doctor on Phone
7404 Talking with Masseuse on Phone
7405 Talking with House Painter on Phone
7406 Talking with Personal Therapist on Phone
7419 Talking with Miscellaneous Paid Professional on Phone
7425 Talking with Mistress/Boy Toy on Phone (also see code #7400)
7931 Asking Coworker to Aid Me in an Illicit Activity

Put This In Your Funk & Wagnalls!

September 4, 1998

I’m always working to improve my vocabulary. I have a daily calendar with useful words, I subscribe to a few different listservs that give me interesting words, their definitions and origins, and occasionally when writing something, I resort to the dictionary or thesaurus in order to avoid cliches and to find something that will really catch people off guard and grab their attention. Here are just a few of the best words I’ve added to my vocabulary:

boustrophedon (adj)–of or relating to the writing of alternate lines in opposite directions

This comes up in conversations a lot, especially when I say things like, "Does anyone know what ‘boustrophedon’ means?"

farctate (n)–the condition of feeling bloated after a full meal I used this one several times in restaurants where I’m now banned.

ploughbote (n)–from Anglo-Saxon times, this was the legal right of tenant farmers to acquire from their master’s estate the lumber necessary for farming tools. Now it applies to anything that comes out of an office supply closet.

cooperage (n)–the art of making barrels

This one’s incredibly handy at farewell parties, especially ones where you don’t know the person leaving but you’re just there for the food. Go up to the person leaving and say, "So, I hear you’re making the transition from sales to cooperage." Enjoy this week’s offerings.


POINTS TO PONDER

A study in the Washington Post says that women have better verbal skills than men. I just want to say to the authors of that study: "Duh."
– Conan O’Brien

In elementary school, in case of fire you have to line up in a single file line from smallest to tallest. What is the logic? Do tall people burn slower?
– Warren Hutcherson

The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four Americans is suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of your three best friends. If they are okay, then it’s you.
– Rita Mae Brown

If your parents never had children, chances are you won’t either.
– Dick Cavett

I was a vegetarian until I started leaning towards sunlight.
– Rita Rudner

The Swiss have an interesting army. Five hundred years without a war. Pretty impressive. Also pretty lucky for them. Ever see that little Swiss Army knife they have to fight with? Corkscrews. Bottle openers. "Come on, buddy, let’s go! You get past me, the guy in back of me, has got a spoon. Back off! I’ve got toenail clippers right here!"
– Jerry Seinfeld

Why does Sea World have a seafood restaurant? I’m halfway through my fishburger and I realize, "Oh my GOSH….I could be eating a slow learner."
– Lynda Montgomery

What do people mean when they say the computer went down on me?
– Marilyn Pittman

Sometimes I think war is God’s way of teaching us geography.
– Paul Rodriguez

I don’t do drugs anymore ’cause I find I get the same effect just by standing up really fast.
– Johnathan Katz

When you look at Prince Charles, don’t you think that someone in the Royal Family KNEW someone in the Royal Family?
– Robin Williams


How to know where drivers are from:

  • One hand on wheel, one hand on horn: Chicago
  • One hand on wheel, one finger out window: New York
  • One hand on wheel, one hand on newspaper, foot solidly on accelerator: Boston
  • One hand on wheel, cradling cell phone,brick on accelerator: California. With gun in lap: L.A.
  • Both hands on wheel, eyes shut, both feet on brake, quivering in terror: Ohio, but driving in California.
  • Both hands in air, gesturing, both feet on accelerator, head turned to talk to someone in back seat: Italy
  • One hand on latte, one knee on wheel, cradling cell phone, foot on brake, mind on game: Seattle
  • One hand on wheel, one hand on hunting rifle, alternating between both feet being on the accelerator and both on the brake, throwing a McDonalds bag out the window: Texas city male
  • One hand on wheel, one hand hanging out the window, keeping speed steadily at 70mph, driving down the center of the road unless coming around a blind curve, in which case they are on the left side of the road: Texas country male
  • One hand constantly refocusing the rear-view mirror to show different angles of the BIG hair, one hand going between mousse, brush, and rat-tail to keep the helmet hair going, both feet on the accelerator, poodle steering the car, chrome .38 revolver with mother of pearl inlaid handle in the glove compartment: Texas female
  • Both hands on steering wheel in a relaxed posture, eyes constantly checking the rear-view mirror to watch for visible emissions from their own or another’s car: Colorado
  • One hand on steering wheel, yelling obscenities, the other hand waving gun out the window and firing repeatedly, keeping a careful eye out for landmarks along the way so as to be able to come back and pick up any bullets that didn’t hit other motorists so as not to litter: Colorado resident on spotting a car with Texas plate.
  • Four wheel drive pickup truck, shotgun mounted in rear window, beer cans on floor, squirrel tails attached to antenna: West Virginia male.
  • Junker, driven by someone who previously had a nice car and who is now wearing a barrel: Las Vegas
  • Two hands gripping wheel, blue hair barely visible above window level, driving 35 on the interstate in the left lane with the left blinker on: Florida "seasoned citizen" driver, also known as "no-see-um" (or could it be Marge Simpson?)
  • Two hands on the wheel, driving forty-five in a seventy mph zone in the left lane, with the left turn signal on, and making a right turn: New Mexico resident (as anyone who has ever driven through this lovely state can attest)

Hurricane Bubba

August 28, 1998

It’s hurricane season again. Hurricanes are large Atlantic storms that, for some reason, are given the names of relatives like "Bonnie" and "Andrew". This is because people respond to hurricanes exactly the way they respond to surprise visits from their relatives: they board up their houses and go somewhere far away until the danger passes. Where I am, of course, I never have to worry about hurricanes. Instead I have to worry about tornadoes and, my favorite part, the news coverage of the aftermath of tornadoes. The news coverage is always the best part because, given a group of well-dressed professionals, reporters will home in on the toothless guy wearing overalls and a baseball cap that says, "Guns don’t kill people–I DO!" as the best representative of the community. You may recall that my area had a tornado scare a few months ago. At a crucial moment, a weather report was interrupted by a DJ’s interview with a "local man" who had had a tornado go right through his yard. It went something like this:

Local Man: "It just went right through mah yard and picked up my daughter’s tramp’line, threw it against a tree, and bent it all to hail."

DJ: "How big was it?"

Local Man: "It was twelve feet by eight feet. But it’s all bent to hail. I don’t think it can be fixed."

DJ: "Well, at least your family’s safe."

Local Man: "Yeah, I guess, but I ain’t lookin’ forward to tellin’ my daughter what happened to her tramp’line." Someone I talked to this morning said, "I’d rather go through a hurricane than a tornado." Some people just don’t understand the value of good entertainment.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


I can please only one person per day. Today is not your day. And tomorrow isn’t looking good either.

Someday we’ll look back on all this and plow into a parked car.

I don’t have an attitude problem. You have a perception problem.

Everyone has a right to be stupid. Some just abuse the privilege.

Last night I lay in bed looking up at the stars in the sky and I thought to myself, "Where the hell is the ceiling?!"

Indecision is the key to flexibility.

Having an out of body experience. Back in five.

I have not yet begun to procrastinate.

I don’t suffer from stress. I’m a carrier.


A married couple went to the hospital together to have their baby delivered. Upon their arrival, the doctor said he had invented a new machine that would transfer a portion of the mother’s labor pain to the father. He asked if they were willing to try it out. They were both very much in favor of it.

The doctor set the knob to 10 percent for starters, explaining that even 10 percent was probably more pain than the father had ever experienced before.

But as the labor progressed, the husband felt fine, so he asked the doctor to go ahead and bump it up a notch. The doctor then adjusted the machine to 20 percent pain transfer.

The husband was still feeling fine. The doctor checked the husband’s blood pressure and pulse and was amazed at how well he was doing. At this, they decided to try for 50 percent.

The husband continued to feel quite well. Since it was obviously helping out his wife considerably, he encouraged the doctor to transfer ALL the pain to him. The wife delivered a healthy baby with virtually no pain. She and her husband were ecstatic, as well as the doctor, because his new invention was a success.

When they got home, the milkman was dead on their porch.

Thanks a Lot!

August 21, 1998

I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank the people who don’t receive the direct weekly mailings, but who drop in to read the page and occasionally make comments. All three of you have really made me feel that taking ten minutes out of my week is worth it. Thanks especially to the guy who said, "Man, that was hilarious! That thing after the ‘Forwarded Message Follows’ was just great! Oh yeah, about that crap at the beginning–something about your uncle or telephones or something. What’s up with that?" Those sort of sparkling comments really help to brighten up already bright days. I would, however, really like to thank the reader out there who gave me some real information about the candiru, the Amazonian fish that…well, you know. It seems that the fish really does exist, and, although I overlooked this at the time, the warning is against urinating in the Amazon WHILE SWIMMING. I was confused because, around several rivers, including the Amazon, there are local legends about fish that can swim up a trail of urine while a man is standing on the bank of the river demonstrating his abilities as a fireman. As you can imagine, these stories are always told by people who live downstream. For more information about the candiru, as well as a bibliography, see the following:

http://www.urbanlegends.com/animals/candiru_urethra.html

And enjoy this week’s offerings. Man, are they hilarious!


A man is flying in a hot air balloon and realizes he is lost. He reduces height and spots a man down below. He lowers the balloon further and shouts:

"Excuse me, can you tell me where I am?"

The man below says: "Yes you’re in a hot air balloon, hovering 30 feet above this field."

"You must be an engineer" says the balloonist.

"I am" replies the man. "How did you know?"

"Well" says the balloonist, "everything you have told me is technically correct, but it’s no use to anyone."

The man below says "You must be in upper management."

"I am" replies the balloonist, "but how did you know?"

"Well," says the man, "you don’t know where you are, or where you’re going, but you expect me to be able to help. You’re in the same position you were before we met, but now it’s my fault."


Only in America…can a pizza get to your house faster than an ambulance…

Only in America…are there handicap parking places in front of a skating rink…

Only in America…do people order double cheese burgers, a large fry, and a diet coke…

Only in America…do banks leave both doors open and then chain the pens to the counters…

Only in America…do we leave cars worth thousands of dollars in the driveway and leave useless things and junk in boxes in the garage…

Only in America…do we use answering machines to screen calls and then have call waiting so we won’t miss a call from someone we didn’t want to talk to in the first place…

Only in America…do we buy hot dogs in packages of ten and buns in packages of eight…

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