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Isn’t it romantic…

February 14, 1997

February is a weird month, especially since it’s the shortest month of the year. February has more special days packed into it than probably any other month. First there’s Groundhog Day–the second, and never in my life can I remember a time when the famous groundhog was not frightened by his shadow, signifying six more weeks of winter. You would think after millenia of this people would either shoot the groundhog or pick another animal, but snakes aren’t as cuddly and bears, like various movie stars, have been known to maim and kill photographers. Next there’s Mardi Gras. Not only is this the time when people get so drunk you’d think they were practicing for St. Patrick’s Day, it’s also the time when people do completely insane things they wouldn’t do at any other time of the year. These things almost always involve balloons, shaving cream, and donkeys. Because people–usually guys–do these idiotic things, it’s a good thing the next really special day is Valentine’s Day, when a barrage of cards, chocolates, and other goodies give the hung-over a chance to appease their significant others. In fact, very few people realize that Valentine is the patron saint of people who have done very stupid things and need otherworldly assistance when they go crawling back. So happy Valentine’s Day, everybody, and hope you don’t need the help–I understand Valentine is a little overworked this year. Enjoy the following list of statements by people who are beyond help, and how to answer them.

Pick-up lines heard around the world and possible responses

I know how to please a woman.
A-> Then please leave me alone.

I want to give myself to you.
A-> Sorry, I don’t accept cheap gifts.

May I see you pretty soon?
A-> Don’t you think I’m pretty now?

Your hair color is fabulous.
A-> Thank you. It’s on aisle three at the corner drug store.

You look like a dream.
A-> Go back to sleep.

I can tell that you want me.
A-> Yes, I want you to leave.

Hey, baby, what’s your sign?
A-> Do not enter. Or Stop.

I’d go through anything for you.
A-> Let’s start with your bank account.

May I have the last dance?
A-> You’ve just had it.

I would go to the end of the world for you.
A-> Yes, but would you stay there?

Your place or mine?
A-> Both. You go to your place, and I’ll go to mine.

Your body is like a temple.
A-> Sorry, there are no services today.

Is this seat empty?
A-> Yes, and this one will be too if you sit down.

What’s it like being the most beautiful girl in the bar?
A-> What’s it like being the biggest liar in the world?

Haven’t I seen you someplace before?
A-> Yeah, that’s why I don’t go there anymore.

If I could see you naked, I’d die happy.
A-> If I could see you naked, I’d die laughing.

Don’t ask me…

February 7, 1997

Every once in a while something makes me stop dead in my tracks and say, "Why is that?" Unfortunately most of these things aren’t enough to make a whole edition by themselves, but going through my notebook, I realized I had enough of these things to choke a horse. So, without further ado, I present my Why Is That? List: Most, if not all, of the people who use the expression "enough to choke a horse" have absolutely no idea exactly how much that is. Why is that? Hamburger buns and bagels always come pre-cut so that one half will fit perfectly into a regular toaster and the other half will not. Waiters who work the least expect the biggest tips. Fast food places can be run by trained chimpanzees–but instead they hire teenagers. Why is that? Whether I stop at the local gas station at noon or at midnight, or any time in between, the same guy is always there. Some of the video store’s New Releases were made before I was born. Video tapes can record up to six hours, but movies longer than two hours are put on two tapes. Why is that? A single beer in any bar costs as much as a six-pack does at the grocery. Trucks with those "How’s My Driving?" stickers are driven by courteous, cautious people. Trucks without them are driven by extras from "Mad Max". People in sitcoms have luxurious, multi-bedroom apartments, eat every meal in restaurants, and have no jobs. Why is that? Everybody lives in the city that has the world’s worst drivers. Vending machines will reject freshly minted bills at least three times before taking them. As soon as someone asks you to define a word you’ve used all your life, you realize you haven’t got a clue what it means… You and I probably both know why most, if not all, of these are true, but let’s face it: sometimes being able to ask why is more important than knowing the answer. If nothing else, it’s less stressful.

This is the transcript of a radio conversation between a U.S. naval ship and Canadian authorities off the coast of Newfoundland in October 1995. Released by the Chief of Naval Operations, 10.10.1995.

U.S.: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the North to avoid a collision.

Canada: Recommend you divert YOUR course 15 degrees to the South to avoid a collision.

U.S.: This is the Captain of a U.S. Navy ship. I say again, divert YOUR course.

Canada: No. I say again, you divert YOUR course.


Canada: We are a lighthouse. Your call.

Sometimes, it seems like some people are just plain *doomed*. If you don’t believe it, consider these weird deaths:

* A fierce gust of wind blew 45-year-old Vittorio Luise’s car into a river near Naples, Italy, in 1983. He managed to break a window, climb out and swim to shore — where a tree blew over and killed him.

* Mike Stewart, 31, of Dallas was filming a movie in 1983 on the dangers of low-level bridges when the truck he was standing on passed under a low-level bridge — killing him.

* Walter Hallas, a 26-year-old store clerk in Leeds, England, was so afraid of dentists that in 1979 he asked a fellow worker to try to cure his toothache by punching him in the jaw. The punch caused Hallas to fall down, hitting his head, and he died of a fractured skull.

* George Schwartz, owner of a factory in Providence, R.I., narrowly escaped death when a 1983 blast flattened his factory except for one wall. After treatment for minor injuries, he returned to the scene to search for files. The remaining wall then collapsed on him, killing him.

* Depressed since he could not find a job, 42-year-old Romolo Ribolla sat in his kitchen near Pisa, Italy, with a gun in his hand threatening to kill himself in 1981. His wife pleaded for him not to do it, and after about an hour he burst into tears and threw the gun to the floor. It went off and killed his wife.

* A man hit by a car in New York in 1977 got up uninjured, but lay back down in front of the car when a bystander told him to pretend he was hurt so he could collect insurance money. The car rolled forward and crushed him to death.

* Surprised while burgling a house in Antwerp, Belgium, a thief fled out the back door, clambered over a nine-foot wall, dropped down and found himself in the city prison.

* In 1976 a twenty-two-year-old Irishman, Bob Finnegan, was crossing the busy Falls Road in Belfast, when he was struck by a taxi and flung over its roof. The taxi drove away and, as Finnegan lay stunned in the road, another car ran into him, rolling him into the gutter. It too drove on. As a knot of gawkers gathered to examine the magnetic Irishman, a delivery van plowed through the crowd, leaving in its wake three injured bystanders and an even more battered Bob Finnegan. When a fourth vehicle came along, the crowd wisely scattered and only one person was hit — Bob Finnegan. In the space of two minutes Finnegan suffered a fractured skull, broken pelvis, broken leg, and other assorted injuries. Hospital officials said he would recover.

* While motorcycling through the Hungarian countryside, Cristo Falatti came up to a railway line just as the crossing gates were coming down. While he sat idling, he was joined by a farmer with a goat, which the farmer tethered to the crossing gate. A few moments later a horse and cart drew up behind Falatti, followed in short order by a man in a sportscar. When the train roared through the crossing, the horse startled and bit Falatti on the arm. Not a man to be trifled with, Falatti responded by punching the horse in the head. In consequence the horse’s owner jumped down from his cart and began scuffling with the motorcyclist. The horse, which was not up to this sort of excitement, backed away briskly, smashing the cart into the sportscar. At this, the sportscar driver leaped out of his car and joined the fray. The farmer came forward to try to pacify the three flailing men. As he did so, the crossing gates rose and his goat was strangled. At last report, the insurance companies were still trying to sort out the claims.

* Two West German motorists had an all-too-literal head-on collision in heavy fog near the small town of Guetersloh. Each was guiding his car at a snail’s pace near the center of the road. At the moment of impact their heads were both out of the windows when they smacked together. Both men were hospitalized with severe head injuries. Their cars weren’t scratched.

* In a classic case of one thing leading to another, seven men aged eighteen to twenty-nine received jail sentences of three to four years in Kingston-on-Thames, England, in 1979 after a fight that started when one of the men threw a french fry at another while they stood waiting for a train.

* Hitting on the novel idea that he could end his wife’s incessant nagging by giving her a good scare, Hungarian Jake Fen built an elaborate harness to make it look as if he had hanged himself. When his wife came home and saw him she fainted. Hearing a disturbance a neighbor came over and, finding what she thought were two corpses, seized the opportunity to loot the place. As she was leaving the room, her arms laden, the outraged and suspended Mr. Fen kicked her stoutly in the backside. This so surprised the lady that she dropped dead of a heart attack. Happily, Mr. Fen was acquitted of manslaughter and he and his wife were reconciled.

* An unidentified English woman, according to the London Sunday Express was climbing into the bathtub one afternoon when she remembered she had left some muffins in the oven. Naked, she dashed downstairs and was removing the muffins when she heard a noise at the door. Thinking it was the baker, and knowing he would come in and leave a loaf of bread on the kitchen table if she didn’t answer his knock, the woman darted into the broom cupboard. A few moments later she heard the back door open and, to her eternal mortification, the sound of footsteps coming toward the cupboard. It was the man from the gas company, come to read the meter. "Oh," stammered the woman, "I was expecting the baker." The gas man blinked, excused himself and departed.

It’s not the end of the world…

January 31, 1997

So I get home late and decide I’ll be chivalric and make dinner. There was a time when I used to consider myself something of a cook, and even now I like to imagine I’m one of those chefs with their own show that make a complete meal in half an hour–minus the three hours their assistants spend baking that twenty-pound roast, chopping all the ingredients, and pretty much preparing everything that can’t be done in thirty seconds or less. Spaghetti was on the menu–simple enough. A trained chimp can make spaghetti, and I should have gotten one rather than trying to do it myself. I was in such a hurry that I kept missing steps along the way, and for every step I missed, I had to add another pot to the stove. At one point, I had seven pots on the stove at once. Two not on burners, three on burners with various spaghetti parts in them, and one full of boiling water. The pot with boiling water had another pot in it with burned-on meat that I was trying to soften up before I went at it with the steel wool. A note to all you guys out there: cooking something on "High" will not make it cook faster. Even if you’re one of those guys who believes there are varying degrees of well-done, you have to admit that "charcoal" is not one of them. Finally, after narrowing my number of pots down to just two (one for sauce and one for what had been spaghetti before it over-boiled into mush) I managed to serve up a complete, tasty meal. The best part is I did it in less than half an hour–minus the three hours it took me to decide to order pizza.

When the end of the world arrives, how will the media report it?

USA Today:

The Wall Street Journal:

National Enquirer:


Microsoft Systems Journal:

Victoria’s Secret Catalog:

Sports Illustrated:


Rolling Stone:

Readers Digest:

Discover Magazine:

TV Guide:

Lady’s Home Journal:

America Online:

Inc. magazine:

Microsoft’s Web Site:


Party time…

January 24, 1997

The other day at an office party a fellow Freethinker happened to mention that we never have office parties of the kind you see in movies–the sort of parties where you REALLY get to know the people you work with. Well…maybe it’s better that things aren’t like the movies. After all, there are some pretty strange comments flying around even the current dull and boring office parties. Here are a few things I happened to overhear at the last one:

"How would you like to work on my large database?"
"Have you met —-‘s monkey?"
"I never get out of my office."
"Is this crap homemade?"
"No, this is storebought crap."

This kind of witty repartee is the exception to the rule, though. Mostly it’s a lot of shop talk, and if the punch were spiked, it would be teary, broken, confessional shop talk. People confessing a deep and profound love for their computer terminals, supply managers telling gruesome tales of paperclip and post-it-note misuse, administrators yelling out the REAL reason no one got raises last year…As funny as some of it would be, I can’t help thinking that maybe it’s better that no one spikes the punch. When you work side-by-side with someone for forty hours a week, there are some things you just shouldn’t know.

And now for the weather:

+50 / +10 (Fahrenheit / Celsius)
* New York tenants try to turn on the heat
* People from Ontario plant gardens

+40 / +4
* Californians shiver uncontrollably
* Albertans sunbathe

+35 / +2
* Italian cars don’t start

+32 / 0
* Distilled water freezes

+30 / -1
* You can see your breath
* You plan a vacation in Florida
* Politicians begin to worry about the homeless
* Manitobans eat ice cream

+25 / -4
* Lake Ontario water freezes
* Californians weep pitiably
* Cat insists on sleeping on your bed

+20 / -7
* New York water freezes
* San Franciscans start thinking favorably of L.A.
* Green Bay Packers fans put on T-shirts

+15 / -10
* You plan a vacation in Acapulco
* Cat insists on sleeping IN your bed with you
* B.C. residents go swimming

+10 / -12
* Politicians begin to talk about the homeless
* Too cold to snow
* You need jumper cables to get the car going

0 / -18
* New York landlords turn on the heat
* Newfoundlanders grill hot dogs on the patio, yum!

-5 / -21
* You can HEAR your breath
* You plan a vacation in Hawaii

-10 / -23
* American cars don’t start
* Too cold to skate

-15 / -26
* You can cut your breath and use it to build an igloo
* People from Miami cease to exist
* Canadians lick flagpoles

-20 / -29
* Politicians actually do something about the homeless
* People in NWT and Yukon think about taking down screens

-25 / -32
* Too cold to kiss
* You need jumper cables to get the driver going
* Japanese cars don’t start
* Ottawa Rough Riders head for spring training

-30 / -34
* You plan a two-week hot bath
* Pilsener freezes
* Bock beer production begins
* NWT residents shovel snow off roof

-38 / -39
* Mercury freezes
* Too cold to think
* Canadians do up their top button

-40 / -40
* Californians disappear
* Your CAR insists on sleeping in your bed with you
* Quebecers put on sweaters

-50 / -46
* Congressional hot air freezes
* Alaskans close the bathroom window
* Green Bay Packers practice indoors

-60 / -51
* Walruses abandon Aleutians
* Sign on Mount St. Helens: "Closed for the Season"
* Ontarians put gloves away, take out mittens
* Boy Scouts in Saskatchewan start Klondike Derby

-70 / -57
* Glaciers in Central Park
* Hudson residents replace diving boards with hockey nets
* Green Bay snowmobilers organize trans-lake race to Sault Ste. Marie

-80 / -62
* Polar bears abandon Baffin Island
* Girl Scouts in Saskatchewan start Klondike Derby

-90 / -68
* Edge of Antarctica reaches Rio de Janeiro
* Lawyers chase ambulances for no more than 10 miles
* Ontarians migrate to New York thinking it MUST be warmer south of
the border

-100 / -73
* Santa Claus abandons North Pole
* Canadians pull down earflaps

-173 / -114
* Ethyl alcohol freezes

-297 / -183
* Oxygen precipitates out of atmosphere
* Microbial life survives only on dairy products

-445 / -265
* Superconductivity

-452 / -269
* Helium becomes a liquid

-454 / -270
* Hell freezes over

-456 /-271
* Quebec drivers drop below 150 KPH on 400 series highways

-458 / -272
* Jean Cretien renounces a campaign contribution

-460 / -273 (Absolute Zero)
* All atomic motion ceases
* Canadians start saying how it’s a tad nippy outside


January 17, 1997

Winter has finally arrived in Nashville, so lately I’ve spent a lot of time watching the Weather Channel, and listening to weather reports on the news, just so I know what’s not going to happen during the course of the day. I think all this is starting to really affect me, though–I’m actually starting to find these weather reports interesting. I had to slap myself awake the other night because I was mesmerized by those little H’s and L’s buzzing across the screen. As my last defense against completely losing my mind in a cold front, I started thinking of ways to make the weather more interesting. With all those graphics they have, the weather isn’t far off from being more than a giant video game. People by the millions would tune in to hear updates about Ralph the intern and Lisa the anchor blasting each other with hurricanes, gale force winds, and tornadoes. It would be a lot more interesting than what’s really going on. The problem is it would upset too many people. There would be bets on where the next tornado would touch down, there would be under-the-table payments for rain to wash out baseball games, and schoolkids would flood the office with mail begging for snow. Maybe it’s better just to leave it alone. Besides, there’s something reassuring about the weather report. It does my ego a little bit of good to know that, even if I can’t predict the weather, neither can anyone else.

Enjoy this week’s offering.

From a newspaper contest where entrants were asked to imitate "Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey."


My young son asked me what happens after we die. I told him we get buried under a bunch of dirt and worms eat our bodies. I guess I should have told him the truth–that most of us go to Hell and burn eternally–but I didn’t want to upset him.

It sure would be nice if we got a day off for the president’s birthday, like they do for the queen. Of course, then we would have a lot of people voting for a candidate born on July 3 or December 26, just for the long weekends.

Democracy is a beautiful thing, except for that part about letting just any old yokel vote.

Home is where the house is.

Often, when I am reading a good book, I stop and thank my teacher. That is, I used to, until she got an unlisted number.

As you make your way through this hectic world of ours, set aside a few minutes each day. At the end of the year, you’ll have a couple of days saved up.

It would be terrible if the Red Cross Bloodmobile got into an accident. No, wait. That would be good because if anyone needed it, the blood would be right there.

Give me the strength to change the things I can, the grace to accept the things I cannot, and a great big bag of money.

The people who think Tiny Tim is strange are the same ones who think it odd that I drive without pants.

For centuries, people thought the moon was made of green cheese. Then the astronauts found that the moon is really a big hard rock. That’s what happens to cheese when you leave it out.

Think of the biggest number you can. Now add five. Then, imagine if you had that many Twinkies. Wow, that’s five more than the biggest number you could come up with!

I bet living in a nudist colony takes all the fun out of Halloween.

The only stupid question is the one that is never asked, except maybe "Don’t you think it is about time you audited my return?" or "Isn’t is morally wrong to give me a warning when, in fact, I was speeding?"

Once, I wept for I had no shoes. Then I came upon a man who had no feet. So I took his shoes. I mean, it’s not like he really needed them, right?

When I go to heaven, I want to see my grandpa again. But he better have lost the nose hair and the old-man smell.

I believe you should live each day as if it is your last, which is why I don’t have any clean laundry because, come on, who wants to wash clothes on the last day of their life?

I often wonder how come John Tesh isn’t as popular a singer as some people think he should be. Then, I remember it’s because he sucks.

Whenever I start getting sad about where I am in my life, I think about the last words of my favorite uncle: "A truck!"

If you really want to impress people with your computer literacy, add the words "dot com" to the end of everything you say, dot com.

I like to go down to the dog pound and pretend that I’ve found my dog. Then I tell them to kill it anyway because I already gave away all of his stuff. Dog people sure don’t have a sense of humor.


I don’t know about you, but I enjoy watching paint dry. I imagine that the wet paint is a big freshwater lake that is the only source of water for some tiny cities by the lake. As the lake gets drier, the population gets more desperate, and sometimes there are water riots. Once there was a big fire and everyone died.


I once heard the voice of God. It said "Vrrrrmmmmm." Unless it was just a lawn mower.


I gaze at the brilliant full moon. The same one, I think to myself, at which Socrates, Aristotle, and Plato gazed. Suddenly, I imagine they appear beside me. I tell Socrates about the national debate over one’s right to die and wonder at the constancy of the human condition. I tell Plato that I live in the country that has come the closest to Utopia, and I show him a copy of the Constitution. I tell Aristotle that we have found many more than four basic elements and I show him a periodic table. I get a box of kitchen matches and strike one. They gasp with wonder. We spend the rest of the night lighting farts.


If we could just get everyone to close their eyes and visualize world peace for an hour, imagine how serene and quiet it would be until the looting started.

Shooting my mouth off…

January 10, 1997

I have big lips. I know that sounds like a weird thing to say, but it’s something that so troubled me during my childhood that I would sometimes press my mouth closed to make me look thin-lipped. My parents overlooked the incredible advantage they gained by this (it shut me up for a while) and instead reassured me, as parents will do, that I would eventually grow into my lips. When I was in college, actresses with oversized lips became very popular and friends informed me that women were spending huge amounts of money to have lips like mine. I had to remind them that, despite the insistence of store clerks, waiters, and my Aunt Molly, I’m not a woman. Besides, none of Hollywood’s leading men have ever felt the need to spend a few thousand dollars on shooting their faces full of collagen. Over the years, it’s simply something I’ve come to live with, and once I got used to buying Chapstick by the crate, I even discovered advantages to oversized lips. I can do great impersonations of famous rock stars. Lip-readers can understand me from a couple of miles away. And these facial protuberances have actually kept me out of quite a few fights. They scare bullies off because, let’s face it, one good punch and these things could explode.

Enjoy this week’s offering.

The British Military writes EPRs which are officer fitness reports. The form used for Royal Navy and Marines fitness reports is the S206. The following are actual excerpts taken from people’s "206s"….

His men would follow him anywhere, but only out of curiosity.

This Officer is really not so much of a has-been, but more of a definitely won’t-be.

When she opens her mouth, it seems that this is only to change whichever foot was previously in there.

He has carried out each and every one of his duties to his entire satisfaction.

He would be out of his depth in a car park puddle.

This young lady has delusions of adequacy.

When he joined my ship, this Officer was something of a granny; since then he has aged considerably.

This Medical Officer has used my ship to carry his genitals from port to port, and my officers to carry him from bar to bar.

Since my last report he has reached rock bottom, and has started to dig.

She sets low personal standards and then consistently fails to achieve them.

He has the wisdom of youth, and the energy of old age.

This Officer should go far – and the sooner he starts, the better.

This man is depriving a village somewhere of an idiot.

Works well when under constant supervision and cornered like a rat in a trap.


I’m baaaack….

January 3, 1997

Well, it’s good to be back, on the first Friday of the new year. During my vacation I had a dream that was so real, so vivid, that during it I thought I was awake, which is what happens when I gulp half a pepperoni pizza, two tacos, some garlic bread, and a couple of beers right before bedtime. That is, if I remember correctly, the same combination that inspired Coleridge to write "Kubla Khan." In the dream, I walked past two billboards. One was encouraging me to join one of those underground Nazi militia groups. The other was encouraging me to join the Jimi Hendrix fan club. About the only thing these two have in common is that I’ve never been a big fan of either one. Such is the nature of the subconscious, though, that I started considering how joining either of these organizations would affect my job. Private militias have been pretty badly put down, but as far as employers go, they’re really a big plus. You learn to think fast, you’ll always be the most alert employee in the office, and you’ll also be the most motivated person your boss knows. Other benefits include having a fully loaded file cabinet in case the building is suddenly surrounded by hostile forces from another company, and frequent opportunities to promote the company’s product to the FBI. On the other hand, if your boss asks what you’re doing and you answer, "Accountin’ in the purple haze with a flyin’ hippo"…well, it just doesn’t sound as good.

It’s been a hard week. Cheer up!

HEY !!! Cheer up…

  • The parachute company says you’ll get a full refund.

  • They say the house didn’t float very far at all.

  • We’re all amazed that you go on living each day.

  • Well, at least the operation was a partial success.

  • The "National Enquirer" just loved those nude shots of you.

  • The insects hardly touched your other eyebrow.

  • With the lights dimmed, it looks almost normal.

  • The District Attorney sez he only has a few more questions.

  • At least the passenger side air bag inflated.

  • Jenny Jones wants you for this "secret admirer show".

  • The reward for your capture has reached fifty thousand dollars.

  • At least we never thought you were guilty like that Jury did.

  • The insurance pays the full book value ($ 312) for your 1956 T Bird.

  • The thieves left the push lawn mower and hedge trimmers.

  • Those Grand Juries always over-react. Don’t worry about it.

  • Lots of guys face multiple paternity suits.

  • The boss said while you’re sick, he’d do all your work personally.

  • MicroSoft’s Tech Support said those errors just aren’t possible.

Ho ho ho!

December 19, 1996

You didn’t think you’d get away that easily, did you? Well, I thought you’d get away that easily, but then I remembered one last gift–I hope you don’t mind that it isn’t wrapped.

December 23rd, the day REAL MEN start shopping

Real Men don’t start shopping until December 23rd. Real Men do this because Real Men don’t trudge like wool-swaddled lemmings from store to store. Real Men see it and they buy, full price. None of that sissy sale stuff.

Real Men also enjoy the challenge of rack-to-rack combat. Real Men will compete for parking spaces with the feistiest of blue-haired women in the biggest of cars. Real Men will not hesitate to remind retail elves with the vacant eyes of stone-cold killers that the customer is always right.

How can you tell Real Men from all those testosterone-deficient John Wayne wannabes out to just pick up a few last things? Listen and listen tight pilgrim.

  1. Real Men never work from lists. They go on instinct.

  2. Real Men don’t get all anal about stuff like style, color and size.

  3. Real Men don’t hesitate to ask strange women what size they are.

  4. Real Men have great difficulty deciding between the appliance and the necklace.

  5. Real Men find nothing wrong with merchandise that has been handled more than Madonna.

  6. Real Men see no reason for removing price tags or saving receipts.

  7. Real Men can locate a neat gift while the attendant is filling the tank.

  8. Real Men sincerely believe the frilly number from Victoria’s Secret is a present for their wives, and not for them.

  9. Real Men wrap their gifts with duct tape.

  10. Real Men have no problem giving loved ones cash.

Happy holidays to you/Until we meet again…

December 19, 1996

Just a quick step up on the soapbox: there should be a rule against people going out and buying stuff for themselves after Thanksgiving. Especially stuff that other people know they would like. And this especially applies to people who are hard to buy for. I suppose they’re trying to force the rest of us to be more creative, which wouldn’t be a bad thing since some years I’ve felt that the most creative aspect of the presents I’ve given has been the wrapping. Honestly–I envy those of you with the manual dexterity to wrap a package perfectly without having to resort to taping large squares of completely different paper over the sides or other odd wrapping tricks which, so far, I haven’t had to resort to. Speaking of wrapping, I guess that about wraps things up, so have a wonderful holiday everybody, and to my operatives in Sri Lanka, take a well-earned break.

Here is a word problem: If Santa leaves the North Pole headed south at the speed of 8 tiny reindeer with a payload of one gift per child (see, here you get to use x’s and y’s), and delivers every gift during a relative 24 hour period (that’s the trick part of the question), why can’t I ever get my Christmas cards in the mail on time?



  1. No known species of reindeer can fly. But there ARE 300,000 species of living organisms yet to be classified, and while most of these are insects and germs, this does not completely rule out flying reindeer.

  2. There are 2 billion children (under 18) in the world. But since Santa doesn’t appear to handle Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Jewish children, that reduces the workload to 15% of the total — 378 million or so. At an average rate of 3.5 children per household, that’s 91.8 million homes. One presumes there’s at least one good child in each.

  3. Santa has 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming he travels east to west. This works out to 822.6 visits per second. This is to say that for each Christian household with good children, Santa has 1/1000th of a second to park, hop out of the sleigh, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the remaining gifts under the tree, eat the snacks, get back up the chimney, get back in the sleigh, and move on to the next house. Assuming that each of these 91.8 million homes are distributed evenly (which we know to be false but for the sake of these calculations we will accept) we are now talking about .78 miles per household, a total trip of 75 1/2 million miles, not counting bathroom stops. This means that Santa’s sleigh is traveling at 650 miles per second, 3000 times the speed of sound. For comparison, the fastest man made vehicle, the Ulysses space probe moves at a pokey 27.4 MPS; the average reindeer runs at 15 MPH.

  4. The sleighs payload adds another interesting element. Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium sized Lego set (2 pounds), the sleigh is carrying 321,300 tons not counting Santa, who is invariably described as overweight. On land, conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds. Even granting that "flying reindeer" (see point one) could pull TEN TIMES the usual amount, we can not do the job with 8 or even 9. We would need 214,000 reindeer. This increases the weight, not even counting the sleigh, to 353,430 tons. Again, for comparison this is 4 times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth 2.

  5. 353,000 tons traveling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air resistance. This will heat the reindeer in the same manner as a spacecraft re-entering the earth’s atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeer will absorb 14.3 QUINTILLION joules of energy. Per second. Each. In short, they will burst into flame almost instantaneously, exposing the next pair of reindeer, and creating deafening sonic booms in their wake. The entire team will be vaporized within 4.26 thousands of a second. Santa, meanwhile, will be subjected to centrifugal forces 17,500.06 times the force of gravity. A 300 pound Santa would be pinned to the back of his sleigh by 4,315,015 pounds of force.

  6. Conclusion: There was a Santa, but he’s dead now.

I’m dreaming of a heat wave…

December 18, 1996

It never ceases to amaze me that, for Nashville, snow is an excuse to panic. Let me rephrase that: in Nashville, the threat of snow, the very mention of the words "light flurries" are an excuse to panic and run to the grocery store to stock up on eggs, milk, bread, and toilet paper. A woman I work with was complaining this morning that she’d been up half the night studying with her daughter because the teacher, so convinced by the words "no accumulation" that we were going to get seventeen feet of snow, decided to reschedule all of next weeks’ tests for today. I guess I can understand her point. Our weather service has been known to report "clear skies" during blizzards, but everyone around here seems to forget when they hear the word "snow" that Nashville is not north of the arctic circle. While it’s chilly this week, temperatures around here fluctuate so wildly that we’ll probably be back to short sleeves by the time Christmas gets here.

Enjoy this verbose Christmas piece.

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
(Written by the Government)

‘Twas the nocturnal segment of the diurnal period preceding the annual Yuletide celebration, and throughout the place of residence, kinetic activity was not in evidence among the possessors of this potential, including that species of domestic rodent known as Mus musculus (mouse). Hosiery was meticulously suspended from the forward edge of the wood burning caloric apparatus, pursuant to our anticipatory pleasure regarding an imminent visitation from an eccentric philanthropist among whose folkloric appellations is the honorific title of St. Nicholas.

The prepubescent siblings, comfortably ensconced in their respective accommodations of repose, were experiencing subconscious visual hallucinations of variegated fruit confections moving rhythmically through their cerebrums. My conjugal partner and I, attired in our nocturnal head coverings, were about to take slumberous advantage of the hibernal darkness when upon the avenaceous exterior portion of the grounds there ascended such a cacophony of dissonance that I felt compelled to arise with alacrity from my place of repose for the purpose of ascertaining the precise source thereof.

Hastening to the casement, I forthwith opened the barriers sealing this fenestration, noting thereupon that the lunar brilliance without, reflected as it was on the surface of a recent crystalline precipitation, might be said to rival that of the solar meridian itself – thus permitting my incredulous optical sensory organs to behold a miniature airborne runnered conveyance drawn by eight diminutive specimens of the genus Rangifer, piloted by a minuscule, aged chauffeur so ebullient and nimble that it became instantly apparent to me that he was indeed our anticipated caller. With his ungulate motive power traveling at what may possibly have been more vertiginous velocity than patriotic alar predators, he vociferated loudly, expelled breath musically through contracted labia, and addressed each of the octet by his or her respective cognomen – "Now Dasher, now Dancer…" et al. – guiding them to the uppermost exterior level of our abode, through which structure I could readily distinguish the concatenations of each of the 32 cloven pedal extremities.

As I retracted my cranium from its erstwhile location, and was performing a 180-degree pivot, our distinguished visitant achieved – with utmost celerity and via a downward leap – entry by way of the smoke passage. He was clad entirely in animal pelts soiled by the ebony residue from oxidations of carboniferous fuels which had accumulated on the walls thereof. His resemblance to a street vendor I attributed largely to the plethora of assorted playthings which he bore dorsally in a commodious cloth receptacle.

His orbs were scintillant with reflected luminosity, while his submaxillary dermal indentations gave every evidence of engaging amiability. The capillaries of his malar regions and nasal appurtenance were engorged with blood which suffused the subcutaneous layers, the former approximating the coloration of Albion’s floral emblem, the latter that of the Prunus avium, or sweet cherry. His amusing sub- and supralabials resembled nothing so much as a common loop knot, and their ambient hirsute facial adornment appeared like small, tabular and columnar crystals of frozen water.

Clenched firmly between his incisors was a smoking piece whose grey fumes, forming a tenuous ellipse about his occiput, were suggestive of a decorative seasonal circlet of holly. His visage was wider than it was high, and when he waxed audibly mirthful, his corpulent abdominal region undulated in the manner of impectinated fruit syrup in a hemispherical container. He was, in short, neither more nor less than an obese, jocund, multigenarian gnome, the optical perception of whom rendered me visibly frolicsome despite every effort to refrain from so being. By rapidly lowering and then elevating one eyelid and rotating his head slightly to one side, he indicated that trepidation on my part was groundless.

Without utterance and with dispatch, he commenced filling the aforementioned appended hosiery with various of the aforementioned articles of merchandise extracted from his aforementioned previously dorsally transported cloth receptacle. Upon completion of this task, he executed an abrupt about-face, placed a single manual digit in lateral juxtaposition to his olfactory organ, inclined his cranium forward in a gesture of leave-taking, and forthwith effected his egress by renegotiating (in reverse) the smoke passage. He then propelled himself in a short vector onto his conveyance, directed a musical expulsion of air through his contracted oral sphincter to the antlered quadrupeds of burden, and proceeded to soar aloft in a movement hitherto observable chiefly among the seed-bearing portions of a common weed. But I overheard his parting exclamation, audible immediately prior to his vehiculation beyond the limits of visibility: "Ecstatic Yuletide to the planetary constituency, and to that self same assemblage, my sincerest wishes for a salubriously beneficial and gratifyingly pleasurable period between sunset and dawn."

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