2000 Notebook: Transition XXXIX
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19 November 2000
Nothing to Say
Someone took the time to hang a blank sign in a shop window on Ninth Street. Since all the other store windows were covered in advertisements for shoddy goods or questionable services, the white rectangle provided welcome visual relief.

It’s like John Cage said, “I have nothing to say, I am saying it, and that is poetry.”

20 November 2000
A Curious Choice of Films
After the kindly flight attendants demonstrated the use of inflatable life vests “in the unlikely event of a water landing,” our jet set off for a long trip from San Francisco to Amsterdam. The projectionist aboard Kinky Love Motions (KLM) Flight 606 selected two unlikely films for tonight’s flight. As we cruised ten thousand meters above the North Atlantic, we were treated to two epics, both of which involved many, many deaths by drowning in that frigid ocean.

I like flying on an airline with a morbid sense of humor.

21 November 2000
Mimosa Experiments
It’s always difficult flying from San Francisco to Amsterdam. Just when I’m settling into sedately sipping whisky and enjoying the North Atlantic darkness, the jet flies into an unnaturally instant sunrise. A minute or two later, unnaturally perky flight attendants pass out bananas to all the primates quivering in the premature dawn.

Whisky to bananas: that’s just not natural!

Once in Amsterdam, I retreated to the Rich Bastards Club at Schiphol Airport to try and achieve a harmonious balance between alcoholic beverages and my friends in the fruit family. Although wine represents perhaps the ultimate blissful union between alcohol and fruit, I would have been doing a disservice to careful vintners by treating their fine products as a mere breakfast drinks. And so it was that I chose to concentrate this morning’s experimentation on assessing a variety of mimosa formulae.

In reviewing my notes from the experiments, I see that I actually tried only two different approaches to the classic drink. First, I added half a glass of champagne to half a glass of orange juice. I then added half a glass of orange juice to half a glass of champagne. I repeated the cycle a few more times in order to establish enough data points to provide a scientific basis for my findings.

I discovered that it really does make a difference if you add champagne to orange juice or vice versa. The former seems to be somewhat preferable in that the champagne bubbles swim on the surface without being prematurely drowned by the juice of the orange.

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22 November 2000
Healthy Boy Brand Siracha Chili Sauce
I bought a seven-hundred milliliter bottle of Healthy Boy Brand Siracha Chili Sauce, then put perhaps a hundred milliliters of the peppery concoction over a bowl of rice and vegetables.

The meal was both tasty and efficacious. I feel like a healthy boy, even if I may not be one. That’s the undeniable beauty of the fiery food group.

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23 November 2000
Liberty and Mushrooms for All
I took a walk around Neil’s estate and stumbled on a monument the map identified as “Column of Liberty.” Upon closer examination, I noticed the character atop the huge column was holding a huge, brass liberty cap mushroom.

When I returned to the house, I asked Neil why someone had built a monument to a liberty cap mushroom.

“That’s the aristocracy, I suppose,” Neil replied. “They can get away with pretty much anything they want.”

24 November 2000
Buy Nothing Much Day
Anne left a message on my telephone answering device requesting that I call her, so I did.

“I hope you were out having big fun,” she said.

“Not really,” I said, “I just popped out to the store.”

“Didn’t you know that today is Buy Nothing Day?” she asked.

“Yeah, but I was out of pesto and wine,” I explained. “I’m afraid that it’s the usual case of pragmatism prevailing over principles.”

Anne silently shrugged over the phone. (I don’t know anyone else who can do that.)

25 November 2000
The Way Things Don’t Work
I ran across a copy of David Macaulay’s book, The Way Things Work, in a friend’s library. Although the volume appeared to be well-written and illustrated, I couldn’t understand a lot of it. My inability to comprehend simple concepts didn’t bother me, though; who needs to know how things work, anyway?

I wish someone would write a book, The Way Things Don’t Work; that would be a useful volume. I’d love to know why the toaster’s not toasting crumpets, why the old tape deck eats tapes instead of playing them, why I can’t remove the “childproof” cap from my bottle of anti-malaria pills, et cetera. I’m putting my idea for such a profitable book in the public domain in the hopes that someone will do what needs to be done.

26 November 2000
Repetitiously Redundant
I have many problems writing these notebook entries, not the least of which is avoiding repetition. I can never quite believe Quintus Horace Flaccus when he says, “Haec decies repetita placebit.” (Things which are repeated are pleasing.) I can never quite believe Quintus Horace Flaccus when he says, “Haec decies repetita placebit.”

I employ brilliant information technologies experts at my secret laboratory. They can, and do, provide prompt and accurate answers to any data query. And so, when I asked whether I’d ever cited a certain Jean Cocteau quote, I received the following terse (I don’t pay for puffy, flowery prose) reply.

From: IT
Date: 24 November 2000
Re: Cocteau quote

In response to v042208010009879eb442@[]:

Yes, twice:
o 24 September 1997
o 19 September 1998

I’m reticent to repeat myself, but I’ll do it anyway. After hearing more and more bizarre details from the American presidential nonelection, I am again reminded of Jean Cocteau’s relevant observation. “Stupidity is always amazing, no matter how used to it you become.”

27 November 2000
Master Classes in Lethargy
There’s no praise quite as rewarding as praise from friends. I rarely receive such praise, but when I do it’s usually in admiration of my slothful—yet somewhat productive—life.

In one of my innocuous little lies, I tell them it’s not as easy as it looks. Since I’m generous with my time, I offer my harried friends master classes in the finer points of creative lethargy.

Although I’ve received serious interest in such seminars, not one of my friends has taken me up on my offer. Ironically, they’re all too busy.

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©2000 David Glenn Rinehart