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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

Last Weak  |  Index  |  Next Weak

Weak XXXVI

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3 September 2014

gratuitous image

No. 217 (cartoon)

What do you see in me?

I like a good joke.

4 September 2014

The World’s Least Competent Person

There’s nothing funny about suicide, nothing funny at all. Bad writing, however, is a constant source of amusement and mirth. I was reminded of that when I read this sentence in today’s edition of The Guardian.

One person in the world dies by suicide every forty seconds, according to the first ever comprehensive report on the issue from the World Health Organization.

I would have thought that one person would have been dead dead dead long ago after committing suicide every forty seconds. S/he must be in the running for the title of the world’s least competent person.

5 September 2014

Stewart’s Not the Alligator

Stewart is having problems at work; he’s caught in a sticky web of office politics.

“My boss is whining about unfounded allegations,” he reported, “but that’s obviously not true because someone found them.”

“Who cares?” I asked, without adding, “I certainly don’t.”

“Here’s the problem,” he continued, “he suspects me of being the alligator who’s making the allegations.”

“Do you know the source of the rumors?”

“I have no idea,” he replied. “No one stays in the office overnight, so, technically speaking, we can’t really have any roomers.”

He paused and added that, now that he thought about it, someone was stealing food from the communal refrigerator.

I agreed that he was in a delicate political situation, and suggested that he keep a low profile until this inconsequential crisis was overshadowed by a petty one.

6 September 2014

Jus’ Onions!

When it comes to all-you-can-eat buffets, I sometimes can’t resist the false economy. If I eat enough food, I can get the cost per kilogram down to seventy-five cents or so. Disgusting but true. That‘s why I was perversely excited when I read about a new restaurant that featured a buffet onion dinner for only five dollars.

I stumbled upon Jus’ Onions! toward the end of a long bike ride, so I decided to belly up to the trough, er, dine at the buffet. I was impressed by the selection: baked onions, blanched onions, braised onions, boiled onions, diced onions, fried onions, grilled onions, ground onions, pickled onions, poached onions, puréed onions, roast onions, sautéed onions, seared onions, sliced onions, smoked onions, steamed onions, stewed onions, and more. Curiously, most of the dishes in the review I read were absent.

“Excuse me,” I asked one of the staff, “where are the onion rings, barbecued onions, and the onions au gratin?”

“You’re thinking of Onions’n’Such!,” he replied with mild irritation. “This is Jus’ Onions!; we only serve unions, just onions.”

I left after eating less than a kilogram of onions, yet I’m still hungry. I can’t recommend dining at Jus’ Onions!, but I think it’s a great business model for a profitable restaurant.

7 September 2014

A Modest Proposal

Ebola used to be one of those weird medical phenomena that would kill a handful of people in a grotesquely horrific way, then vanish like a mass murderer on holiday. These days, though, the Ebola virus is back and working overtime. The highly contagious disease is killing the medical professionals trying to eradicate it, so there’s no apparent way to contain the epidemic that’s spreading exponentially.

Meanwhile, every day I receive hundreds of email offers from various scoundrels, swindlers, charlatans, impostors (how many Nigerian princes can there be?), hoaxers, et cetera. These loathsome criminals are colloquially known as scammers and spammers, and, although I generally abhor violence, I might take sick pleasure in seeing a few of them beheaded. A lesson for the rest, and all that.

The preceding two paragraphs appear to be unrelated, but they’re not. I propose that the World Health Organization crimps kidnap scammers and spammers and press them into service fighting Ebola in Africa. Any who survived would be redeemed, even in my book. And those that didn’t survive? Tobias Smollett might have been envisioning scammers and spammers when he wrote, “a good riddance of bad rubbish.”

8 September 2014

The Song Remains the Same

In this week’s edition of The New Yorker magazine, Alex Ross waxes nostalgic about his collection of compact disk recordings. He pooh-poohs—with good reason—recordings disseminated over the Internet. He admits that they’re not without merit, then adds, “Yet I’m wedded to the wall of plastic.”

I read essentially this same essay thirty years ago, when someone was lamenting that the introduction of inferior plastic disks threatened to replace tons of exquisite vinyl recordings. I suppose it’s always been thus.

The first issue of The New Yorker was published in 1925. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s an article in an early edition praising the qualities of wax cylinder recordings that new technologies simply cannot—and never will—equal.

Perhaps I should start writing a piece about the wonders of having over eighty thousand recordings on a hard disk the size of a pack of cigarettes. Given the speed at which I don’t write, it should be ready for publication in twenty years. I probably won’t bother, since hard disks will be another nostalgic memory in a decade or sooner.

9 September 2014

gratuitous image

Whiteout!

When I convert my laptop computer to a desktop computer by taking it off my lap and putting it on my desk, I need to connect six different cords for monitors, speakers, storage, keyboards, et cetera. I usually beat the fifty-fifty odds and try to insert each plug upside down on the first attempt. It’s a minor annoyance, but an annoyance nevertheless.

I could easily solve the problem with a few drops of white paint, but my local hardware store only sells paint in one liter containers or larger. After a frustrating morning when I needed two attempts to connect every plug, it belatedly occurred to me that the Internet Archive’s office manager could probably solve my problem.

“Excuse me, Veronica,” I began, “do you have any whiteout?”

Veronica, who was conceived after typewriters were all but extinct, stared at me blankly as if I’d asked for redover, brownin, pinkunder, et cetera. I had to explain that in the days when the mighty Selectric ruled the office landscape, every desk had at least one tiny bottle of whiteout, a fast-drying opaque white fluid for painting over typing mistakes.

Veronica was at first skeptical that such a substance ever existed, then incredulous when she discovered a dusty bottle at the back of the office supplies cabinet. As a result, all of my cables are coded, and Veronica knows that I’m much older than she ever imagined possible.

Typewriters, imagine that!

Stare.

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©2014 David Glenn Rinehart

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