2003 Notebook: Weak IX
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26 February 2003
No. 8,260 (cartoon)
What do you see in me?


27 February 2003
A Brief Visit to the Doctor
Did You Know That There Are Twelve Different Sexually-Transmitted Diseases?

That’s the question posed by a large poster in Dr. Gray’s waiting room. I did not know that there are twelve different sexually-transmitted diseases. I resisted the temptation to learn the names of the dirty dozen, although such knowledge could make for interesting small talk at a party. I’ve been smart enough and/or lucky enough to avoid such maladies, and I already have enough useless, arcane, and abstract knowledge to provide several lifetimes of party chatter.

After a brief wait, I enjoyed a perfunctory, professional, and pleasant exchange with Dr. Gray. On the way out the door, I saw an advertisement for a nearby fish and chips shop. That cheered me immensely; I know no one who signed the Hippocratic oath would allow bad advice into his or her practice, so I headed out for a healthy, albeit somewhat greasy, dinner.

28 February 2003
I Like Maggie Hambling
Maggie Hambling is one of the world’s great artists I’ve never heard of. Until tonight.

I listened to a radio interview with Hambling, who recently declined an award from her alma mater because school officials decided to carpet the students’ art studios. Hambling, who boasted that the floor of her studio was London’s biggest ash tray, didn’t want to be associated with such institutional niceties such as tidy studios.

In tonight’s interview, Hambling talked about her Special Brew paintings, in which she depicted cans of her favorite adult beverage and occasional muse.

“Clare, what’s Special Brew?” I asked.

“Special Brew is England’s answer to Rainier Ale,” she said, then added, “or possibly vice-versa.”

I like Maggie Hambling.

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1 March 2003
A Pie for a Computer
I traded my old computer for a large fish pie today.

I bought my Apple 8500 seven years ago. For the first few years, it served as my main computer. Later, it metamorphosed into an Internet server, working twenty-four hours a day for years on end in a dark, refrigerated server room. Despite impeccable service, I retired it when a friend gave me a new, faster server.

Meanwhile, Marjorie has been toiling away on an ancient computer that was obsolete before it was conceived. I proposed trading my 8500 for one of her inimitable fish pies, and she agreed.

What a great deal! All Marjorie got was a seven-year old computer that can’t use a lot of contemporary software. I, on the other hand, got a splendiferous fish pie, an unequaled culinary delight.

Marjorie got a 233 megahertz 604e with a 160 megabytes of random access memory and a one-gigabyte hard disk. In contrast, I received a mammoth fish pie full of juicy pieces of salmon, cod, haddock, shrimp, and lots of other oceanic goodness.

As we walked away with our new prizes, Marjorie and I agreed that both the 8500 and the fish pie weighed between twelve and thirteen kilograms.

2 March 2003
Sloppy Thinking Explains a Lot
One way or another, sloppy thinking really does explain a lot.

3 March 2003
Fah-la-la-la-lah, Oh-oh-ohh ...
Betty came over for a drink, so I decided to celebrate by playing a recording of the song Betty Wrong off David Bowie’s Tin Machine II album.

“Being in the chorus has to be the best job in the world,” I opined. “All you have to do is sing ‘Fah-la-la-la-lah, Oh-oh-ohh ...’ over and over again. Even Linda McCartney could do it.”

“I think there’s more to this song than meets the eye,” Betty said. “The chorus boys have to wear naff outfits, do cheesy dance steps, and smile like an idiot, the kind of idiot who would repeat ‘Fah-la-la-la-lah, Oh-oh-ohh ...’ over and over again. And no matter how good they are or how hard they work, they never ever get invited to any of the parties where the good stuff is.”

I didn’t ask Betty what she meant by “the good stuff” because she’d already won the argument. We played Betty Wrong a few more times, drank cocktails, and sang “Fah-la-la-la-lah, Oh-oh-ohh ...” over and over again like the idiots we were and are.

4 March 2003
I just received a note from Travis [surname withheld] who posed a disturbing question or two.

    anyhow, i find myself wondering—didn’t i subscribe to [your] notebook? sure enough, there’s a confirmation email, somewhere buried in my inbox. but nothing further. i guess i’m not asking for tech support here, but does this feature really work?

“Brianna,” I asked a junior intern, “tell me what’s going on with the notebook subscriptions.”

“What do you mean?” she replied in a suspiciously innocent voice.

“It seems we have a problem,” I said as I paused for effect, raised one eyebrow, then added solemnly, “with our subscription service. Perhaps you can explain what’s going on.”

Brianna looked scared, but didn’t say anything.

“Well,” I continued, “then perhaps you should explain what’s going on.”

And that’s when the sad, young intern confessed to everything, just like in the cheap detective novels. For months, she’s been spending the epostage money allocated for the notebook email on edrugs. Brianna admitted that she simply threw all the notebook email in the etrash.

“I guess you must think you’re pretty clever,” I said mockingly. “I hope you’re quite pleased with yourself.”

“I’m sorry,” she sniffled, “I don’t know what I was thinking. I’m so embarrassed, especially since the edrugs were complete rubbish.”

“Look at it this way,” I advised as I took her keys and walked her to the main laboratory exit, “the world’s full of opportunities for incompetent people; I’m sure you’ll be just fine.”

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©2003 David Glenn Rinehart