Spaced Out

October 20, 2000

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, reality-based programming is a relatively new idea in television that takes people who would be attractive enough to be sitcom stars if they were younger and/or could afford extensive surgery and puts them in situations that are about as realistic as the average sitcom. For example, a group was stranded on a desert island with an annoying host who pushed them into doing things like eating rats. This is unrealistic because, if these people were really stranded on a desert island, they would have left the rats alone and eaten the host. In another show, a group of strangers was locked in a house and followed by hidden cameras while their will to live was slowly and systematically drained away. In each case the "contestants" (which is short for "subjects in a Nazi medical experiment") were gradually eliminated. The last remaining "contestant" was given enough money to pay for badly needed therapy.

Now reality based programming, which has already boldly taken us where no sane person has gone before, is preparing for the ultimate trip: a group of people selected based on their attractiveness, diversity, and willingness to slap other people will be put through the rigors of spaceflight training. The "losers" will once again be eliminated. The "winner" will get–I’m not kidding–a month on the ailing space station Mir. The benefit to Mir, and the Russian space program, is that it will once again be the subject of late night talk show jokes which have supplied the space station with life-sustaining hot air. The benefit to the winner is that he or she will learn that in space no one can hear you scream…because they’re too busy laughing at you for being such an idiot.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


How to Please Your I.T. Department

  1. When you call us to have your computer moved, be sure to leave it buried under half a ton of postcards, baby pictures, stuffed animals, dried flowers, bowling trophies and children’s art. We don’t have a life, and we find it deeply moving to catch a fleeting glimpse of yours.

  2. Don’t write anything down. Ever. We can play back the error messages from here.

  3. When an I.T. person says he’s coming right over, go for coffee. That way you won’t be there when we need your password. It’s nothing for us to remember 700 screen saver passwords.

  4. When you call the help desk, state what you want, not what’s keeping you from getting it. We don’t need to know that you can’t get into your mail because your computer won’t power on at all.

  5. When I.T. support sends you an E-Mail with high importance, delete it at once. We’re just testing.

  6. When an I.T. person is eating lunch at his desk, walk right in and spill your guts right out. We exist only to serve.

  7. Send urgent email all in uppercase. The mail server picks it up and flags it as a rush delivery.

  8. When the photocopier doesn’t work, call computer support. There’s electronics in it.

  9. When something’s wrong with your home PC, dump it on an I.T. person’s chair with no name, no phone number and no description of the problem. We love a puzzle.

  10. When an I.T. person tells you that computer screens don’t have cartridges in them, argue. We love a good argument.

  11. When an I.T. person tells you that he’ll be there shortly, reply in a scathing tone of voice: "And just how many weeks do you mean by shortly?" That motivates us.

  12. When the printer won’t print, re-send the job at least 20 times. Print jobs frequently get sucked into black holes.

  13. When the printer still won’t print after 20 tries, send the job to all 68 printers in the company. One of them is bound to work.

  14. Don’t learn the proper term for anything technical. We know exactly what you mean by "My thingy blew up".

  15. Don’t use on-line help. On-line help is for wimps.


SLEEPING WITH DOGS

Whoever said ‘LET SLEEPING DOGS LIE" didn’t sleep with dogs. The first thing you discover when you bring a dog onto your bed is the striking difference in weight between an alert, awake dog and a dog at rest.

Rule Number One: The deeper the sleep the heavier the dog. Most people who sleep with dogs develop spinal deformities rather than rent the heavy equipment necessary to move their snoring canines to a more appropriate part of the bed. Cunning canines steal precious space in tiny increments until they have achieved the center position on the bed – with all covers carefully tucked under them for safekeeping. The stretch and roll method is very effective in gaining territory. Less subtle tactics are sometimes preferred. A jealous dog can worm his way between a sleeping couple and, with the proper spring action from all four legs, shove a sleeping human to the floor.

Rule Number Two: Dogs possess superhuman strength while on a bed. As you cling to the edge of the bed, wishing you had covers, your sweet pup begins to snore at a volume you would not have thought possible. Once that quiets down, the dog dreams begin. Yipping, growling, running, kicking. Your bed becomes a battlefield and playground of canine fantasy. It starts out with a bit of "sleep running", lots of eye movement and then, suddenly, a shrieking howl blasted through the night like a banshee wail. The horror of this wake-up call haunts you for years. It’s particularly devastating when your pup insists on sleeping curled around your head like a demented Daniel Boon cap.

Rule Number Three: The deeper the sleep, the louder the dog. The night creeps on and you fall asleep in the 3 inches of bed not claimed by a dog. The dog dreams quiet slightly and the heap of dogflesh sleeps – breathing heavily and passing wind. Then, too soon, it’s dawn and the heap stirs. Each dog has a distinctive and unpleasant method of waking the pack. One may position itself centimeters from a face and stare until you wake. The clever dog obtains excellent results by simply sneezing on your face, or they could romp all over your sleeping bodies – or the ever-loving insertion of a tongue in an unsuspecting ear.

Rule Number Four: When the dog wakes – you wake. Unless you want to step in a puddle when you get out of bed.

So, why do we put up with this? There’s no sane reason. Perhaps it’s just that we’re a pack and a pack heaps together at night – safe, contented, heavy and loud.

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