Monday, March 26, 2007

#479 Solution

The other day I filed a dissolution petition. Interesting way to put it when you get a divorce, a dissolution petition. First because dissolution sounds so much like disillusion. It’s ironic that two differently spelled words in the English language would come to mean different aspects of the same thing and would sound so much alike. A semi-synonym and a homonym all rolled into one. And since synonym and cinnamon sound so much alike too, the semi-synonym homonym reminds me of some kind of divorce coffee drink. Yeah, I’d like that semi-synonym homonym please. Would you like whip with that? No thanks, I’ve had enough already. The other scary thing about a disillusion petition is it sounds like you have to get a lot of other people involved in the process. Like concerned voters or something. People you can interrupt on their way into the supermarket and have them sign the form attached to your divorce clipboard. Pardon me sir, are you a registered voter? Would you mind signing my disillusion petition? You can see I’m pretty emotionally beat up. Well, no, not whipped actually, more like anti-whipped, ready to strike out on my own. Yeah, see here, lots of people have signed already. Thank you sir. M’am, are you a registered voter?
It might not be a bad idea. Marriage is a way of making public your commitment. So why not have a public say in your dissolution? Make the petition process really that. You can only get a divorce if get enough signatures from people willing to sign up with you. You could get the whole community embroiled in a he said/she said dispute. It would be just like politics.
Speaking of which, it looks like I’m going to have to become a Republican. All of the Republican candidates currently running for president have had multiple marriages. All the demo candidates are still married to their first spouses. Guess it’s nice to know some Republicans understand the concept of an exit strategy.
America, ya gotta love it

Friday, March 23, 2007

#478 Squiggly

After yesterday’s essay, I received two replies, each using a word that partakes of the comic aspect I talked about with squat, squash, cramp and crampon. The two words were squiggly and noggin. I know they’re words because I scratch my noggin when I type them and a squiggly red line from my spellcheck doesn’t appear under them like it does when I type the word spellcheck. Interesting that the words spellcheck and cellphone get a squiggly line and the words noggin and squiggly don’t. Useful words that make sense have no official spelling and nonsense words that have simply survived generations of Websterization do. Because really, is squiggly and its root form squiggle anything more than some onomatopoeic representation of what it is? That curvy line? Let’s call it a squiggle. How many curve’s in a squiggle by the way? Its shorter counterpart, the much-maligned tilde, the punctuation, excuse me, diacritical mark you put over an “n” in Spanish, has only one curve on the bottom and one curve on the top. At what point does a tilde become a squiggle? Is a squiggle always made up of regular oscillations like the red and green squiggly lines in spellcheck and grammarcheck or can any random sort of repetitive, strung-together curves qualify? Do the curves have to be big or is it okay for them to be eentsy beentsy? And if they are eentsy beentsy, at what point do they become itsy bitsy? Was the spider in the notorious waterspout episode eentsy beentsy, itsy bitsy, or eentsy weentsy? Is there a difference in size or is it simply a regional variation? Can we determine a geographical dialect by ones use of itsy bitsy, eentsy weentsy, or eentsy beentsy? It makes one scratch one’s noggin. And in the scratch of the itch makes one wonder how it was that “noggin” made it into adult language circles. To me, noggin is always a word that conjures up lavender-scented grannies and terms like punkin-head. Oh look…His itsy bitsy noggin has a squiggly wittle cowlick. Does him want a yummy for his tummy?
America, ya gotta love it

Thursday, March 22, 2007

#477 Squat

I don’t know squat. And more importantly, she doesn’t know diddly squat. Diddly is this context is apparently an adjective, although it does sport the suffix L-Y- which usually denotes an adverb. Squat appears to be a noun in this context, although it usually is used as a verb. Perhaps that’s why diddly had the adverbial spelling. In either analysis, what the heck does it mean?
“I don’t know squat.” It appears to mean I don’t know anything. But why is “squat” a synonym for “anything?” Or perhaps “nothing” if this is the sentence construction that employs a double negative for emphasis. In either case “squat” doesn’t really seem to belong. “Squat” is what people do when they attempt to achieve a lower level to pick something up, or possibly deposit something. “Squat” is the type of exercise that sent us teenage boys into fits of giggles in junior high school when the P.E. coach told us to do twenty-five of them. “Okay boys, time to do squat thrusts.” To both squat and thrust always seemed like such a dilemma. But we were really laughing because, let’s face it, “squat” is one of those words that is just plain funny. Squats. Squat thrusts. He squatted. I lost it once when I was reading a book and the author had the friendly counselor type bend down to a girl who was crying on the quad because her boyfriend had broken up with her. The author said, “To make her feel more comfortable, Jim squatted down to her level.” Um, “crouched” would have been the word here. Squatted was way too distracting.
But so it is with some words. Cramped. Squatted. Squirt. My favorite is crampons. Who invented this word? What does it have to do with ice or getting around thereon? I understand the “on” part I guess, as in strap on. What I don’t get is the “cramp” thing. Wouldn’t “clamp” be a better choice? Cause you clamp it on and it helps to clamp your feet to the ice. But crampons? Ice walking, at least to me, is not a precursor to double-up in pain flatulence. Although when I strap on crampons, I usually have to squat.
America, ya gotta love it

#476 Squash

Writing about Newt Gingrich yesterday reminded me of something about comedy that I’ve known for sometime. Some words just sound funny. I once did a filmed stand-up bit outside an old shack. The set-up was that this company was looking for a new facility and I was supposed to be helping them find it. We filmed bits in front of all kinds of buildings and made funny remarks about their suitability or lack thereof. So I stood in front of this tiny rundown structure and said “this could work, but it might be a little cramped.” I said it with kind of a squinchy look on my face. My producer said he didn’t like the word “cramped” and wanted me to change it to “crowded.” I maintained that cramped was a funnier word than crowded. He expostulated that words in and of themselves can’t be funny. I flexed my muscles as executive producer and my word prevailed. Needless to say our relations were a little strained afterwards. Like squash. I don’t eat squash. I make it a personal policy not to eat any food that can be used as a verb. Food-o-verbioses is a rare phobia and it’s steered me away from all manner of dangerous delicacies. Like I can’t eat Captain Crunch. Not least because the notion of Crunchberries reminds me of a bicycle accident I once had. Or artichokes. This food even looks like it could be the source of violence, all prickly and spiny and hand grenade green. Number one food-o-verbioses maxim: foods that contain the word choke can’t be safe. To aspirate is to puff air when you speak and puffs of air are a byproduct of asparagus. Aspira-guts is more like it. Carrots are barely okay. Cause they kind of sound like a cord you could use to strangle someone. Eggplant passes. Although for some reason, I’m reminded of a fertility clinic. And butternut squash sounds like either a massage parlor accident of painful proportions or some bizarre fraternity ritual. Finally, don’t even try to serve me peas. Especially in their strange and exotic variations—Cowpeas and chickpeas. I’ll stick to beans thank you. Even if they do give me cramps...
America, ya gotta love it

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

#475 Spy Ware

I wrote something in my blog that included a passing mention of Newt Gingrich. Newt’s running for president you know. You don’t? Well trust me on this one. Lately the Newtser’s been positioning himself as a centrist a la McCain, and he’s hoping that his combination of intellect, alternative thinking and internet/computer savvy is going to get him the buzz in the blogosphere that will catapult him over the top of all the contenders. He’s even now engaged in fertilizing the virtual grassroots to bring that about. How do I know? I got on his mailing list. Or I should say his emailing list. I feel like a new age witch. I got Spam of Newt. And I got it because I once wrote about Newt in a blog. I didn’t say much. And I only did it so I would have the opportunity on the air to say Newt Gingrich. It’s so fun. It sounds like some sort of rash that Scottish people get. “Oh, I got the Newt Gingrich again.”
“Newt Gingrich? Was ya waring your kilts too tight?”
“May be, cause I kilts some skin cells and I got an angry boil.”
“Is it a carbuncle then?”
“Nah it’s a Newt Gingrich.”
Or maybe it’s some exotic meat dish made out of parts of the animal no one else wants. “What’s for dinner laddie, haggus?”
“Nothing so good. We just got a cold hunk of Newt Gingrich. I can give ya some head cheese with it.”
“Yum, I love Newt Gingrich, da ya have some cod liver oil I can chase it with?”
So anyhow, as a result of my one brief aside about Newt, his electronic spy minions, apparently ever searching the blogosphere for references to the self-appointed petty potentate of the metaverse, have added me to the Newtspam network. You know, his name could be useful. We got all sorts of disease names related to computers. Hackers and viruses and Trojans and spam. Newt’s would work just fine. Blog been splogged to ineffectiveness? You can say, Oh no, my blog has been Newtered. Computer running slow? It must be full of Gingrich…
America, ya gotta love it

Monday, March 19, 2007

#474 Shopping Maul

Someone suggested we sell tickets for this fundraiser at the new shopping center that’s opened up at the eastern gateway to Lacey. I went out there and agreed that they do have a lot of traffic, which theoretically should be exploitable. Unfortunately, getting something out of the traffic was about as frustrating as trying to swallow food with your armpit. Because this is one of the newest aberrations in urban planning, the inverted mall, and it has no central focal point. You know the ones. Anchored by big box stores on the perimeter of a huge parking lot. A small strip mall with national small box chains that butts up against the street. And by butts, I mean butts, because the backside of every store, um, faces the street while the front of the store faces the forty acres of parking lot. The city has obviously bought into the notion that people are going to park once like they do at a regular mall and hoof it from store to store. Hope is a marvelous thing. And usually an exercise in self-abuse. I suggest the urban planners actually spend a day in the giant shared parking lot to disabuse themselves of this notion. The fact is, Joe Blow, Mrs. Blow and their squalling kids first pull up and park in the neighborhood of Costco, elbowing aside Mr. and Mrs. Elderly for a cart on the way in. Then, after they’ve loaded up on frozen mini pizzas in the sample aisle, they come out, hop in their Minivan and drive across the parking lot to the ice cream place. In the process cutting off Mr. Redneck in his big truck, who’s racing across the parking lot from Home Depot on his way to the sale on bullets and camis at the big box sporting goods store. After awhile they all converge at and fight over the one parking slot left out in front of the Chinese buffet. This new inverted mall urban planning strategy sure is saving a lot of gas and cutting back on that whole global warming thing isn’t it? Somebody ought to invent a place where people could park once and stroll from store to store in an enclosed and weatherproof area. Nah, too farfetched. And really, we don’t have any weather here…
America, ya gotta love it

Sunday, March 18, 2007

#473 Spirit Mail

Somehow I got on some weird mailing list. You know how you try to trace back why it is you start getting solicitations from certain junk mailers? I know the political ones are there because I contributed to a political party, what I don’t understand is why I also started receiving requests from the opposite party. And the mortgage-related ones starting increasing the level of my recycle bin like rising interesting rates right after I refied. Refied. Sounds like some sort of Mexican bean or the glassy expression stoners get in their eyes after smoking reefer. The new mailing list I appear to have got on seems to be a spiritual mailing list. First I got a letter from the Lakota Sioux reservation and it included a dream catcher. I wonder if they have to tune the strands in a dream catcher just right so it doesn’t catch nightmares too. Maybe that’s a dream harness. The one I just got the other day is from Saint Matthew’s Churches and they sent me not only information on God’s eternal grace and redemption, but a free prize. I had to read some of the literature to figure out that I was being given something and then I determined that the object in question was supposed to be a handkerchief. They made me read it. Real clever too, because they printed a rather detailed message on the outside of the envelope. Tricky these spiritual people, you get junkmailed without even opening the envelope. I finally found it. My prize. It was piece of paper printed with the pattern of a linen handkerchief. And according to the printed stitching on the printed edge, a printed hand-rolled linen handkerchief too. Not to worry that’s it’s so cheesy. Looks have nothing to do with it. It works summoning God’s miracles because they only loaned me the handkerchief. When I’m done receiving God’s eternal bounty, or healing my boils, I’m supposed to keep the grace chain letter alive by lending it to a friend to bless him or her too. Truth is, it kind of makes sense. About the only time I bless someone is after they sneeze, so what better way to do it than hand them a handkerchief. Although I’m not sure a paper cut on the nostril would be a blessing…
America, ya gotta love it

Thursday, March 15, 2007

#472 Sioux me

I was going through my blue coupon envelope the other day, wondering why anyone would think their ads would be effective nestled in among the ranks of pizza parlors, auto tune-up and direct TV distributors, and I chanced upon a national coupon for address labels. Those are the other two mainstays of the blue envelope many households refer to as “instant recycling,” address labels and privately printed checks. So I had to ask myself, why would anyone want to buy address labels when they come for free. There is not a year goes by without at least three charity organizations sending me address labels—completely unasked for. Now first, let me say I am a charitable person. I give a lot to various groups throughout the year, from international organizations to local carwashes. I also volunteer heaps of hands-on human hours to the common pool of need. But I’m not a big fan of extortion, even mild extortion, especially when it’s tied to a heartfelt and emotionally blackmailing message. And particularly when they give you something out of the supposed goodness of their heart with one hand, and then stick out the other hand in expectation of a payback. So when the Lakota Indian reservation sends me not only address labels, but a dream catcher that actually looks pretty nice, with real feathers and leather and all, and then wants a contribution back, my defenses go up. Not because I think it’s an ironic spin on that whole Indian giver myth—after all, when it comes to land stealing, treaty breaking and land stealing back, “Euro-giver” is more like it. It’s because I’m pretty sure that to send out a mass mailing of these dream catcher things they must be made by the Lakota Sioux’s distant cousins in China. And bought and paid for from same. I hope they catch their dream. And soon. According to the letter, their kids are starving. Call me cynical but if I were them, instead of sending out address labels and toy dream catchers to complete strangers, I’d save the mass manufacture and mailing money and either spend it directly on the kids, or plant some wheat.
America, ya gotta love it

#471 Score-Osc

I watched the Oscars recently. Every now and then it’s important to take part in a big overly-hyped television event. If there is one thing that’s led to the demise of civility it’s that we don’t do enough together and therefore don’t share common reference points. It’s especially important for a humorist, who depends on his audience getting key facts before he swoops in with a Hawaiian punch line. Back when there were only three channels on TV and we all watched the same vanilla Wonderbread family sitcoms, it was easy to make jokes that everyone got. And Ellen Degeneres showed that perfectly in the Oscars. When she said that the since the Oscars was now a “green” show she would do her part and recycle old jokes, then proceeded to throw out some Gilligan’s Island observations, the whole audience cracked up. Jokes about Babel would have come off as if they were in a foreign language. In any event, a couple of things I noticed about the Oscars. First, don’t give an Oscar for musical scoring to an Italian who only speaks Italian. You’d be surprised how verbose a musician can be. And verbosity in a foreign language with a musical scorer who apparently doesn’t understand a music cue—to get off the freakin stage—was incredibly painful to watch. And speaking of scoring. Is it Martin Score-say-see- or Martin Score-seh-see? They called him both ways. Notice they didn’t dare call him Martin Score-sissy. But it was confusing. His name had more pronunciations than al queda. Oops, shouldn’t have said al queda in something that will end up on my blog. Those guys in the black van will be parking outside my house again. So really, isn’t old Marty looking more and more like a lost Marx brother everyday? With those horn rims and his black eyebrows, he should win the Oscar for the Eugene Levy look-alike contest. Another cool thing about the Oscars is you see the same commercials you saw last at the Super Bowl. Except they’ve been edited to exclude anything that caused any consumer uproar. The Suicidal Robot commercial I talked about a week ago had the crucial “robot about to jump over the bridge” scene cut out and the robot gazing fearfully at a metal compactor instead. Yeah. Cool idea. Have a despondent entity about to be trash-compacted instead of about to jump off a bridge. I don’t know about you, but execution seems so much more fun than suicide. Also like the Super Bowl, the Oscars had play by play announcers and color commentators. This year with some guy backstage keeping a running tally for those of us at home. The only thing they were missing was the obligatory women reporter on the field. And finally, Oscar folks, let’s shorten up the walks the celebrities have to take on the way to the podium. If time’s so short you’re going to cut off acceptance speeches, then we don’t need saucy saunters, struts, and swaggers stretching salaciously across the stage. Alliterally. America, ya gotta love it

#470 Sense Her

So I’m in a public restroom. And being the hygiene conscientious fellow that I am, I wash my hands. This restroom happened to be in Canada so I had to turn on both faucet handles. I’ve yet to see a single lever faucet handle in Canada. I suppose they would say “leever.” But that sounds too much like the role I usually play in a relationship so I like to avoid that pronunciation. The problem with double faucet handles is since you’re hands are most likely contaminated when you turn the faucet on, washing does no good if you then go back to the faucet with clean hands to turn the now dirty handles off. The only solution, again if you’re hygiene conscientious, is to grab a paper towel from the dispenser and use it to turn the faucets off. As a brief aside, if I may, I think it paradoxical that hygiene conscientious people are sometimes referred to as Anal. Anti-anal would be more like it. In any event, I’ve had this quandary before and it is a measure of the conflictedness of an establishment, or the lack of thorough planning, that leaves a person such as myself frustrated and with dripping hands. For inevitably, an institution with double faucets has hot air dispensing hand dryers, and no amount of positioning of the output nozzle on the air dryer will turn off a faucet. It’s funny. Sometimes you go to a restroom and the faucet turns on by itself. It has one of those sensor things that you run your hands under and the water starts automatically. Great if you’re not into adjusting temperature. Unfortunately, those are the places that have either a balky paper towel dispenser that you have to use a crank to get a towel out off, thereby running another risk of infection from those who chose to towel and not wash, or one of those rolling cloth towel dispensers like the pub I went to in Victoria. Very antique, very authentic, very cute, and very loaded with germs. Sometimes the place will have one of those toilet or urinal sensors, so you can avoid soiling your hands on icky toilet handles. But those sensors seem to only work when you turn away, so I’m never really sure if someone in the other room isn’t watching through the supposed little sensor window and flushing after I’ve zipped just to make it seem innocent. None of the places I’ve been to has automatic everything—towel, sink and toilet. Never. The fecal germ spreaders have won. Hide the green onions and the spinach. But what really frustrates me the most is the towel dispensers that have an automatic sensor that you can’t make work. You stand there with dripping hands, trying every contortion in St Vitus’ dance, shaking your hands like you’re developing a Polaroid picture, and nothing. Finally, in frustration, you turn away and out comes a towel. Ah, I get it. Turn away. Someone installed the urinal sensor by mistake. Or that guy in the other room got finished laughing.
America, ya gotta love it

Monday, March 12, 2007

#469 Do Up

A not very tactful person asked me recently how I dealt with having failed so many relationships. I didn’t fail, I replied, I differently succeeded. Political correctness aside, you have to do that in life. Turn what from the outside looks like failure into a feeling of success. That’s part of my philosophy in life: Things get better, rather than things get worse. Waking up in the morning gets so much easier if your baseline attitude is “things are going to get better.” If your foundation everyday is “things are getting worse” then you might as well just check out now. And what is the reason for feeling things will get better? No reason at all. It’s just the capacity of the human brain for faith. A head trip. Maybe that’s why, as a friend of mine pointed out, America spends most of its life on its head. Literally and financially. It’s not unusual for a woman to spend 90 dollars on a haircut at least once of month. That’s not all of course. For special occasions they’ll go in and fork over a hundred bucks or more for an updo. May I just go on record for the jillionth time to my friends of the feminine persuasion. Here’s the deal, most guys hate female foreheads. And only a few females can carry it off. If your forehead is exposed in everyday life and it attracts lots of positive attention then by all means expose your forehead for a special event. But if you attracted your guy in the first place with a little coquettish toss of your bangs, or a flirty peek through a tousled forelock, then that’s the way you want to look if your goal at the next special occasion, say a prom or a public ball or yes, say it, a wedding, is to impress the man of your dreams. Because five miles of exposed forehead is going to make you the girl of his nightmare. Nothing throws a guy more than shelling out a hundred bucks for a tuxedo, 30 bucks for a corsage, showing up at the door expecting to see the girl he fell in love with, and being greeted by the bride of Frankenstein in a curly multi-toned updo. But like I say. We all spend a lot of money on our heads compared to the rest of our body. My friend put it rather succinctly. A person could have a really ugly mole on their thigh and ignore it completely. Put that same mole on the face and call the surgeons. I guess I kind of understand that. Other people aren’t always looking at your thigh. But it is interesting that human beings have pockets of hair other than their heads and those never seem to enjoy the benefits of either attention or hair products. Where’s the Bedhead for the armpit? The Nexus for the nether regions? Where are the mousses and the gels and the hair-repair formulas for the regions of procreation that are the gateways to the survival of our species? Nope, just plain soap. We have differently succeeded in that area. Let me revise my philosophy. Some things will get better. But some things never change.
America, ya gotta love it

Friday, March 09, 2007

#468 Duller, Eh

So I noticed a couple of other things while I was in Canada. Well, okay, Victoria. Certainly no reason to assume all of Canada is like one small region. I mean, I don’t always assume an entire carton of white milk is white. Can you say homogenous? I was at a meeting, and I almost missed what I was supposed to do because the announcer was Canadian and he was telling us that on this form we were supposed to shed-yule our proe-gress on the proe-ject. Then he said something about having a-boat an hour and getting oat afterwards. I was all for that, I mean, I’d ridden a boat over to Canada and I got oat nuggets for breakfast. Fiber is just as important in Canadia as it is here. I changed my currency at a professional currency changing place. The American dollar is now equivalent to a dollar and eight cents in Canadian money. Unfortunately, the current sea of debt from the don’t-tax-and-spend-anyhow fiscal policy of the last few years has driven the American dollar under the waves of foreign current seas. The clerk at the exchange desk wasn’t above having a little fun though. Talk about a boring and unfulfilling job. Making change all day without selling anything. When I told him I wanted Canadian dollars he said are you sure, I have a special on Yen today. I said that’s good I have a hankering for yen and then in chorus we both said “or a yen for hankering…” When I got back after my trip I realized I had a pocketful of loonies and two-nies. They have one-dollar coins like brassy-looking oversized quarters with a pictures of loons on them. They have a two dollar coin too which is slightly bigger. And has one colored disc of metal set into another colored disc. In fact, a two dollar Canadian coin looks an awful lot like a denomination of a Mexican peso. It’s pretty scary when you can mint a coin and have it cost less than printing a paper slip. But today’s paper money is so loaded with security devices, implanted data, holograms, and chips, I’m surprised it doesn’t spend itself. Still, currency is only as good as the people who take it. On the way over, the Black Ball ferry clerk at the coffee shop waved away my Canadian quarters contemptuously. Which was a little odd, as the flag of the country of registry the Black Ball ferry flies is Canada. I looked at my Canadian 20 dollar bill for the first time carefully after I got back to the states. Cool! It has a picture on it of that lady who won the Oscars. Helen Mirren. Must be a Canadian actress of high repute. She’s made a lot of proe-gress. Finally humor is universal. I was a little worried. I wasn’t sure if my humor would convert to metric. We were at a specialty tea parlor and they had a variety called Library tea. I asked the clerk if it was easier to use Library tea to read fortunes. She groaned exactly as much as an American.
America, ya gotta love it

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

#467 Duh!

So I’m up in Canada recently. Actually just Victoria B.C. Your view of Victoria as you come in on the ferry from Port Angeles is a wonderful thing—antique buildings soaring seven stories up to the skyline, beautiful winter flowers and cabbages lining the harbor, the mountains of Vancouver Island rising majestic in the background, and rushing into the Strait of Juan de Fuca to greet you like some forgotten British imperial emissary of world domination, wide swaths of floating raw sewage. As the fetid nuggets of the commonwealth bob out to lap the sides of the ferry, you know you’ve arrived on the shores of a conflicted nation. On the one hand, leading the way in attempts to minimize global warming and in setting aside large areas of wonderful natural resources, and on the other hand active participants in industrial clear-cutting, over-fishing, salmon-poaching, and raw sewage dumping. When I checked into my room, there was one of those newfangled cards tucked into a fold of the turned-back sheet/duvet combination. Good idea: Cover your duvet on both sides with clean white sheets and then do some fancy folding to hold the whole darn thing in place. That way you know you’re not sitting on some bed coverlet that has never ever been washed like in so many hotels. And they should wash them too. If only because women set their purses on them, and as one great hygiene survey pointed out, the bottoms of women’s purses contain more fecal matter than the aquifers of cities like Lacey. And never get chlorinated. They have the fecal matter because women take their purses into public toilet areas and set them on the floor while they’d tending to other business. In any event, tucked into the duvet is a card that says the hotel is on a green water conservation program and as a result will only change bed linens every three days. As I’ve said before, I hope I didn’t check in on the third day. The cool thing about the card was that you knew you were in Canada because it was printed in English and French rather than English and Spanish. The card also said I could help, if I wanted to reuse my towel just hang it on the shower curtain bar. Um no. That’s what I do in Motel 6, not the Empress. If only because the really thick towels at the Empress would take too long to dry. But here’s what really got me about dear Canada. I’m in a public restroom at a coffee shop. When I’m washing my hands afterwards, there’s a sign above the sink. It says, “Please be kind to other patrons and wipe the counter afterwards.” Excuse me. I’m paying for your expensive coffee and you want me to do your janitorial service too? What’s next, a little toilet brush next to the can? Should I swim out into the strait with a feces net too? Please be kind to other patrons of the Puget Sound. Catch a clue. Made me think they should get a new slogan like our Say Wa. It could be Can-a-DUH!
America, ya gotta love it

#466 Driving Taxes

This whole welfare thing has to stop. People need to be self-sufficient. Giving them a handout is robbing them of their will to succeed. If you bail people out all the time, they’ll just start to take advantage. All of a sudden their demands will get excessive. They’ll be depending on you for everything. They’ll want you to do something really extravagant like—build them a new sports arena. Ha ha. Had you going. For a second there you were going, Oh my gosh, what happened to libertarian Funny Guy? He was starting to sound like Rush. And it wasn’t no Tom Sawyer. Well that’s the point, what applies to one, applies to the other. Now I think I understand that big corporations create jobs and those jobs pay people and the pay from those people gets spent on stuff like household notions and the taxes from the sale of that stuff fill the coffers of government full. And that those coffers are then emptied putting up roads and parks and the all important infrastructure. So I can kind of, sort of, almost, see Boeing coming to the government and saying: Hey, back off the sales tax on 747s, we do a lot to fuel the tax engine already. But what I don’t understand is, oh, say, Nascar coming into Washington and bringing all their big gun drivers before the legislature to cadge a few million to help them build a race track. At what point did South Sound Speedway and Grays Harbor Raceway get a big chunk of state dollars to put up their tracks? Is it because they’re smaller organizations and don’t promise to employ enough people? Is it, after all, another case of size matters? Is it not that the smaller raceways didn’t need the money but that they didn’t dream big enough? It seems to come down to arrogance. The baseball teams and the football teams and now the basketball teams are all looking for a handout. You kind of wonder why anyone would want to get into the sports franchise business. I mean, it must not be all that profitable if you always have to be going to the government to bail you out. Oh right. You skim off the profits before you go broke. Open up a nearby convention center, keep your revenues from concessions separate—little profit diverting tricks that make the construction costs seem too onerous to bear by one civic-minded sports franchise just trying to give their fair city and state a title of some sort. It’s really too bad. The small business is the backbone of American commerce. The small businessperson takes the biggest risks and has the most to lose. And cares the most about his clients. Cause they’re his neighbors too. The giant megacorps with their Enron sensibility and bottom line fancy bookkeeping suck the government corporate welfare trough dry. Then turn around and support political candidates who wring their holier-than-thou hands about all the deadbeats on welfare. Hey, maybe if you gave them a free Nascar ticket, they’d get a job...
America, ya gotta love it

Monday, March 05, 2007

#465 Dots Okay

So English is a funny language. No really. Take my wife. Please. The reason jokes like that can work is it only takes a hint of an inflection or a shift of perception to change meaning and intent. The other day I was driving by some low-income apartments. There was a sign out front that apparently Comcast was behind putting up. You know, like electricians, carpenters and plumbers put up their signs when they’re on a construction site. This sign was meant to tell all and sundry that Comcast was on the job providing high-speed cable services to this rundown apartment complex. Now first off let me clarify that low income does not necessarily mean run down, nor does it necessarily mean drug problem. But with the nature of this particular place both of those were fair assumptions. So given the prevalence of Thurston County meth labs in similar locales it seemed like a marketing blunder for Comcast to have a sign out front that said “this complex wired for speed by Comcast.” I mean, what with “wired” and “speed” being associated with that whole meth thing. Just an observation. I saw another sign in the same area. It was at a gas station. You know, where everyone goes for gourmet food. This sign was advertising a triple cheese burger. Sounded good. I was tempted to pull in, top off my tank, get gas on my knuckles, then go in and pile on the condiments. Somehow the combined fragrance of microwaved burger, American cheese, onions, relish, and fresh gasoline just send me to connoisseur heaven. What stopped me though was that I couldn’t figure out from the picture whether it was a triple cheese burger or a triple burger cheese. I mean, were there three slices of cheese, making it a triple cheese burger? Or three patties of burger, making it, more accurately, a triple burger cheese? I figured I didn’t need a huff of gasoline to further my confusion. But that’s just me. I sometimes dyslexify an entire sentence or phrase. Like that old song, “she wore an itsy bitsy, teeny weenie, yellow polka dot bikini. I follow it as far as the first two adjectives. Itsy bitsy and teeny weenie. It’s kind of cool talking baby talk every now and then and “itsy bitsy” and “teeny weenie” are a lot more fun than “small.” But I have never been able to figure out if the polka dots were yellow or the bikini was yellow. If the polka dots were yellow then there’s a fair case that they were also itsy bitsy and teeny weenie and that all the adjectives piled up in the early part of the sentence were modifying polka dots and not bikinis. So the girl in the song could have been quite prim and wearing something very modest and we’ve got the whole skimpy-clad beach bunny slutty image wrong all these years. Poor girl. And another thing. Polka dots. Why? What distinguishes a regular dot from a polka dot? And what do these particular types of dots have to do with polish dances?
America, ya gotta love it

Friday, March 02, 2007

#464 Dust to Dust

The other day I was wondering. I do that a lot. It starts with little stuff, which leads me to other stuff, which gets me even further into what I call obsessive wondering. O. W. for the uninitiated. O.W. is like other obsessive-compulsive disorders except it seems to infect geeks, philosophers, daydreamers, and home inventors. It’s better than O.C. though, cause you can pronounce O.W. OW. As in, my brain hurts from all this wondering. So one of the things I was wondering was: What is the scratch stuff made up of that you scratch off a lottery ticket? As I’m sure you know, every lottery scratch ticket is a multi-colored extravaganza of graphic indulgence. Bright reds, brilliant blues, passionate purples. Lottery tickets are definitely not for kids. And every scratch ticket is actually two layers, the painted on scratch layer and the backing, on which is printed the prize. The paint layer also has two regions. The place where the paint can be scratched off and the place where the paint is permanent. It’s hard to tell which is which till you start scratching. And once you start scratching, here comes the scratch dust. The little flakes of paint that peel off and go who knows where. I first noticed them when I was experimenting with a scratch ticket in my home and I chanced to scratch it on a lighter surface. The little flakes of paint and dye piled up in the area where I was scratching with toxic abandon. When I tried to brush them off afterwards, some of them went easily but others stuck to my table, only to be removed when I wiped them away with a damp cloth. Which promptly got stained with multicolored blobs of scratch paint. So I’m asking the question. Has anyone done a study on the environmental impact of lottery scratch dust? The toxic things that are killing us are in the little stuff we take for granted—lead glaze in Mexican pottery, small-parted toys that children choke on, toothpaste tubes made of lead, Poprocks. Is lottery scratch dust made of lead? It feels and smears like it’s lead-based. Is it acrylic or oil based? The landfills are filled with old oil based paint cans in partial states of deadly decomposition. I mean, I’m not that worried about me. I’m worried about the poor clerks in the convenience stores who have to scratch off all the secret codes on every lottery ticket they take in for redemption. They’re probably sucking in more toxic particles than a dentist drilling out an old mercury filling. All that paint and dye has to go somewhere when you stir it up with vigorous scratching. If nothing else, it’s killing off the friendly dust mites that normally consume our skin flakes and dandruff. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, and all that, but black lung and asbestosis happened from stuff we once thought was relatively safe to inhale. What next, scratch ‘em-physema? Lotto lung? Give a whole new meaning to coughing up for some lottery tickets.
America, ya gotta love it

Thursday, March 01, 2007

#463 Despair of Tickets

The other day, for no apparent reason, I was checking the Washington State lottery website. Okay, I had a reason, I had found an old lottery scratch ticket and was wondering if it had expired. That got me wondering if there were expiration dates ever on lottery scratch tickets. Well lo and be hold em, the Washington State lottery website has a page completely committed to old lottery scratch tickets. It has pictures of all the different promotions, and next to the picture of each one is a breakdown of which prizes are still outstanding. The promotions are arranged alphabetically so even if, say, “Amazing Eights” is older than “League Night” then it’s still above it on the list. Whoever designed the system spent a lot of time and money making it very slick and user-friendly. I mean, when you get right down to it, if you’re going to spend a dollar for a scratch ticket you want to be sure the latest winning information is up to date and arranged in a graphically attractive spreadsheet on the world wide web. In case you’d like to know, there are 67 different scratch games with prizes still outstanding—ranging in amounts from 50 to 500,000 dollars. That doesn’t even count all the outstanding one and two dollar winners. There’s enough uncommitted money out there to build a really flashy and graphically-intensive website and pay people a ton of money to keep it up. Of course, if it were me I’d give that money to education. You know, proceeds from lottery sales go to support construction projects for K through 12 or something like that. Or maybe they ought to bring students in directly, to intern at the lotto office in skills needed to fleece the poor. There’s a reason part of the website is devoted to telling people about addictive and problem gambling. Be a smart player, they say, know your limits. If they were smart, they wouldn’t play at all. It’s not about smartness. It’s because the people who can least afford to play are the people who play the most. The poor and the desperate and the behind-on-their-debts who are hoping to score big with that one huge lottery win—which never happens. I found it kind of ironic what they named one of the lottery scratch games. They all have catchy names that high paid marketing people have thought up. Like Money Tree and American idol and Cash Crusader. The one I thought was really ironic was called Big Bills. As in I’m gonna win large denomination currency? Or I’m so desperate because I have big bills to pay? And really Washington State Lottery, is it a good idea to name one of your games of chance Money Tree? First of all, it encourages the addictive gamblers fantasy that money grows on trees and secondly, it’s the name of one of the biggest chains of payday cash advance companies in the state. Any way we can divert more of those education dollars into an, um, irony control department?
America, ya gotta love it