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16 July 1997
Deceptive Bulletproof Shields Designed to Confuse Enemy Snipers, Assassins, and Scoundrels
This is strange, I've never been interested in fashion or the military but have nevertheless been possessed to design optically confusing shields. They could be popular in the Balkans.

Deceptive Bulletproof Shields Designed to Confuse Enemy Snipers, Assassins, and Scoundrels is available in the PDF format.

17 July 1997
An Excellent Education
My poor niece Rosie failed a test because she gave the wrong answer to the question "What makes humans different from animals?" She wrote "For every one you put in the ground, two grow back."

I told Rosie I thought she came up with a clever answer. (I didn't point out that it was technically incorrect; the two to one ratio was close enough for an eleven year old.)

Rosie's teacher thought the answer was "offensive," which didn't seem like fair academic criticism to me. (Or to Rosie, either.) I told my niece she was getting an excellent education: the sooner she found out the world was managed by stupid people who acted unfairly the better off she'd be.

Rosie said she already knew that.

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18 July 1997
Doughnuts and Wine!
I've been to dozens of gallery openings, hundreds of gallery openings, thousands of gallery openings. I've had every possible combination of red wine, cheese, white wine, bread, rosé wine, vegetables, wine of uncertain provenance, fruit, et cetera.

Tonight's opening was different, though: they served doughnuts and wine! Doughnuts!!! I skipped the doughnuts and drank too much wine (as usual), but it's the thought that counts.

Doughnuts!!!!!

19 July 1997
Humoring Colors
I met a guy who was offered a job in a prestigious Los Angeles Gallery. The job consisted of painting different rooms in the gallery different colors on different days to suit the gallery's rich clientele. It worked like this: Mr. Bonswell's living room was painted in a vermilion and violet colors, so Mr. Bonswell had to see the paintings in a room of similar hues before he'd buy one. Ms. Eustice Ronston's rooms were done in shades of lavender and lilac, so she also had to have a color-coördinated presentation room.

He turned down the job, but I'm sure the prosperous gallery owners found someone else to indulge their affluent consumers. Moneyed people always get humored.

20 July 1997
Glass Pistol
I always pack a pistol when I fly on commercial airliners. It's no ordinary pistol; I had it specially designed to avoid detection by the airport police. The barrel, stock and handle are crafted from graphite-epoxy composites, compressed rayon derivatives and reinforced polystrand fiberglass. The bullets are made from hardened ceramic casings with zirconium silicate projectiles. There's not a speck of metal in the whole machine.

That's how I carry my pistol on planes, but why? The answer is safety. Pistols on planes are very dangerous, that's why there's almost never one on a commercial flight. Since there are huge odds against having a single gun on a big jet, the odds against having two of them on the same plane are astronomical.

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21 July 1997
Soccerness
I found a scrap of cardboard with an illustration of a man's legs on it. I think it's probably the best visual representation of soccer that I'll ever see.

22 July 1997
Severed Toe Glass
I found a toe in a corner of a large parking lot. Even though it had turned purple and blue and green, it appeared to be a human toe. I didn't touch it or tell anyone, it's the sort of circumstance that could only lead to unpleasant complications.

Years ago I read a story about a toe in a saloon in the Arctic; I think it was in the Yukon. The toe had been severed in some sort of mining accident and ended up preserved in a shot glass full of strong whiskey on a shelf behind the bar. Anyone who was brave enough, stupid enough, or, most often, drunk enough could have free whiskey if s/he drank it out of the glass with the severed toe in it.

The situation couldn't last forever and didn't. One night a drunk geologist accidentally swallowed both the whiskey and the toe.

Oops!

That would have been the end of the story, except that the incident was reported in a wire service news bulletin. Within weeks saloon owner received twenty packages from across North America; each contained a preserved human toe.

Skoal!

A toe is no big thing.

23 July 1997
Where Ideas Come From
Where do ideas come from? I've heard a lot of esoteric and convoluted explanations, but my favorite is William Wegman's admonition: "Don't overlook the obvious."

I augment Wegman's general strategy with a simple tactile approach. First, I smooth out my skin--especially my scalp--until it's evenly taut. Then I look for bumps, some of which always turn out to be ideas. After that I gently move the bumps under my skin toward my head. When the bumps reach my brain, I have some new ideas.

24 July 1997
Am I Not French?
I went to an opening of a what I'd been warned would be a terrible exhibit with excellent food. The advance reviews were accurate, mostly. The work was dreadful, but I found the food had been hidden in an adjacent room that hadn't been opened to the public.

A waiter caught me nibbling on the salmon asked me what I was doing.

"I am contemplating the hors d'oeuvres; am I not French?"

"No, you are not."

"If you cut me, do I not bleed cheap red wine?"

"You should but you probably do not."

"Am I not the customer, and is not the customer always right?"

He didn't have an answer for that one, so I left with a belly full of fish.

25 July 1997
Copyrighted Mediocrity
I received a mailing from my old school asking me to send money. It was the same school where I learned to be a slothful artist, thus I have no money for philanthropic pursuits. (I am, however, very generous with my time.) The fundraising appeal included a banal photograph by someone who attended the same school but apparently ended up an a vendor of photographic illustrations. He let the school reprint his tedious photograph only on the condition that it was accompanied by the following lengthy credit in mangled English:

    Rights granted to Interlochen Center for the Arts, with the following mandatory adjacent photo credit; ©1997 R. E. Potter III, are nonexclusive, international english [sic] language print media and world wide web, for PR, record, exposition, and promotional use of the photographs, except that they may not be used in any media space purchased for advertising or advertorial without the express written permission of [the] photographer. Robert E. Potter III.

There must be a scientific explanation of why people go to such lengths to protect "intellectual property" with almost no intellectual content. Perhaps there's some sort of corollary to Hilton Kramer's observation "The more minimal the art, the more maximum the explanation."

26 July 1997
Wide Awake
I had a lucid dream that an old friend of mine died. I woke up a three and the morning and couldn't go back to sleep; the ticking of a clock three rooms away kept me awake.

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27 July 1997
Before and After
A friend presented me with a grape and a raisin.

"Look," she said, "before and after!"

I told her it couldn't be a case of before and after since I could see the grape and the raisin were two different things.

"Au contraire," she replied. "They're both the same object, you're just seeing it at two points in time simultaneously."

That sounded improbable at best, but before I could debate her she ate the grape and the raisin.

"You ate them!" I protested. "That's a crap way to end an argument."

"No," she responded, "I ate it."

28 July 1997
Sholem Asch Was Right
Sholem Asch said, "Writing comes more easily if you have something to say."

Sholem Asch was right.

29 July 1997
Skinny Food
Ray won't eat peas, which I guess is not that unusual for a someone who's eight. When I asked him why he wouldn't eat peas, he came up with a much more complex rationale than the usual "because" or the ever-popular "just because."

Ray explained that peas have thin skins, "and when you cut 'em gushy gross stuff comes out." I never thought of peas as little skinned organism with innards, but I can't argue with Ray.

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©1997 David Glenn Rinehart