2002 Notebook: Weak XXVII
gratuitous image
2 July 2002
No. 3,181 (cartoon)
I wonder where my ideas went.

Back from where they came?

3 July 2002
Fortune Cookies in Bed
After dinner tonight with some friends in a Chinese restaurant, the waiter brought the obligatory fortune cookies. And I launched into my predictable, tedious whine: fortune cookies no longer contain fortunes.

“Try adding the suffix, ‘in bed,’” Mothy advised.

“What?” I asked.

“If it’s worth doing,” Mothy said, reading his fortune aloud, “ it’s worth overdoing ... in bed.”

Adding “in bed” seemed like a stupid, adolescent joke; I quite liked it. The silly trick worked with the other six “fortunes” as well.

    It always takes longer to get there than to get back.

    He who has imagination without learning has wings but no feet.

    It is better to understand a little than to misunderstand a lot.

    Diligence is the mother of good fortune.

    You are faithful in the execution of any public trust.

    No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.

Nevertheless, fortune cookies are still disappointing in bed.

4 July 2002
An Unfamiliar Tooth
I found what appears to be a human tooth in my toothbrush. It’s certainly not one of mine. I put it under my pillow, just in case.

5 July 2002
Percussive Maintenance
I read a story from the Appleton, Wisconsin Post-Crescent about a man who used old technology to fix newer—and much less reliable— technology.

Gary Wilke spent over two and a half thousand dollars on a computer that never worked. After repeated—and apparently incompetent—repairs, Wilke took back the machine back to the store for the last time. There, he smashed it with a “large sledgehammer.”

Et voilà! No more computer problems.

Wilke had the right idea; he just took it a bit too far. Had he given the computer a whap and a whack whenever it misbehaved, it would probably be running fine by now. Engineers call this practice, percussive maintenance.

It works.

6 July 2002
After Heisenberg
Larry and I were talking about some sort of nonsense when he asked, apropos of not much at all, if I was familiar the uncertainly principle.

“Heisenberg’s? I looked into it,” I said. Larry didn’t get the joke.

Larry told me about Ronald Mallett, a professor at the University of Connecticut, who is working on an experiment that may lead to actual time travel, albeit only for a neutron or two. Mallet’s been thinking about going back in time for almost half a century in order to warn his father about the dangers of smoking.

I ended my conversation with Larry by remarking that everything’s always traveling in time.

I suppose Mallett’s success will depend on generations of his descendants. If each succeeding generation travels back in time to give some advice their parents and grandparents, I should be traveling in time in no time.

7 July 2002
Why Things
Things always happen never the way I thought they wouldn’t. I never understood why until I read Jan L.A. van de Snepscheut’s observation, “In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is.”

8 July 2002
Rhymes with Semiotics
I showed Judith my recent portrait of Elizabeth, and told her how pleased I was that I finally got around to combining words and photographs. I told her that I like the way words can tell more than a photograph can.

Judith told me that she sometimes prefers images that ask questions instead of provide answers. I appreciated Judith’s comment. For some reason, I completely forgot about the questions and answers thing.

In practice, I’m not very good with theory. It’s a wonder I didn’t pass out at the bar last week as I listened to two learned Philosophiæ Doctors talk semiotics. As Barthes said, “It is noteworthy, and certainly no accident, that bollocks rhymes with semiotics.” (I suppose that made more sense in the original French.)

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©2002 David Glenn Rinehart