2003 Notebook: Weak XXX
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23 July 2003
No. 8,058 (cartoon)
I’m surprised we don’t see each other more often.

I suppose it’s luck.

Good luck or bad luck?

24 July 2003
Penelope’s Prudence
Jeremy’s miserable, and I don’t blame him. For months, he’s been pursuing Penelope with amorous intent, and last night she told him that courtship was out of the question.

“That’s too bad,” I told Jeremy after I heard the news.

“Not much gets by you,” he muttered glumly.

“I hope she was diplomatic,” I remarked.

“Sounds like you’re fishing for tawdry details,” Jeremy replied. “I’m afraid there weren’t any. She was weird, that’s what she was.”

“Good weird or bad weird?” I inquired.

“When I put my arm around her in the park, she pulled away and told me, ‘You should not think of love when you have no work to do.’” Jeremy explained. “That’s how weird she was.”

“Easy come, easy go, easy come again,” I said mindlessly. I didn’t add that Penelope sounded perfectly prudent to me; I didn’t think Jeremy was ready to hear that.

25 July 2003
Try Your Luck Daily
I was feeling feeling ridiculouser than usual tonight, but Jeannie was having none of it.

“You’re pushing your luck, David,” she warned. “Take that crap out of my oven.”

“You should try your luck at least once a day,” I replied. “Otherwise you could be walking around lucky all day and not even know it.”

“Whose line is that?” Jeannie asked. “Sounds too clever for you.”

“Right you are,” I said. “I couldn’t find any citations for it, so I think I’ll take credit for it anyway.”

Jeannie made a sputtering sound to indicate the conversation was over.

26 July 2003
No Detectable Brain
I’ve always admired the sea sprite, an ocean critter that eats its own brain when it concludes that that particular organ is no longer required. John Lorber, a neurology professor at the University of Sheffield in England, has raised my hopes that I too may be getting by without a brain. Lorber discovered that an unnamed mathematics student at the university had only a millimeter or so of cerebral tissue covering the top of his spinal column, some forty-four fewer millimeters of brainy goo than would have been expected.

No one’s looked inside my head, except for perhaps my dentist and the doctor who cut my tonsils out. They don’t count; they wouldn’t have been examining the cavity where my brain’s supposed to be. I have ignored repeated admonitions from well-intentioned friends to have my head examined. Had I done so, I might have discovered that I, like the mathematics student, have been going through life virtually without a brain.

It’s not too hard for me to envision life without a brain. In fact, I’m sure it’s pretty much like the wonderful life in which I delight today.

27 July 2003
Barbequed Burrito
Fred asked me to list my three favorite meals, so I did:

1. Any free food,

2. Pasta and vegetables,

3. Rice and vegetables.

Fred wasn’t satisfied with my straightforward answer; that’s one of the many problems with honesty. Fred insisted that I tell him about some concoction I invented.

I was about to confess that almost all of my “creativity” involves theft when I remembered the Treat Street Barbecue. A few years ago, I was invited to this celebrated San Francisco event. I was about to enter the Treat Street Compound when I noticed that the invitation advised, “bring something to throw on the barbeque.”

I headed for a nearby taqueria, bought a huge, stonking burrito, and headed back to the party. I slathered the burrito with barbecue sauce, threw it on the grill, then loaded up my plate with a kilogram or so of fresh salmon.

Everyone complimented me on my fabulous concoction, so I can only assume that it was scrumptious. I’ll never know, I was so full of fish that I never sampled my only culinary invention.

I’ve never made another barbequed burrito since. Why would I attempt to repeat my only culinary achievement?

28 July 2003
Hope Is Dead
I was driving up to Mt. Rainier this morning when I heard the news on the radio: Hope is dead.

Bob Hope was over a hundred years old when he died. I have no idea why he checked out when he did, but it couldn’t have come at a worse time for me. I’d been anticipating his passing for some time; I was looking forward to walking around the city full of HOPE IS DEAD newspaper headlines.

Sulking teens walk past the hundred and forty-four point type, HOPE IS GONE. Somnambulistic parents haunt grocery stores beneath the newsagent’s ad, HOPE DIES. Doddering elders limp past clutching the Guardian and its macabre headline, HOPE: THE LAST ACT IS OVER.

Instead of witnessing this long-anticipated somber tableau, I’m walking around sunny Mt. Rainier without a newspaper in sight. What’s wrong with these cheerful hikers? Don’t they know that Hope is dead?

Feh! Bob Hope! Double feh!

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29 July 2003
Camp Hazard Warning
For reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with climbing, I found myself in the office of the ranger who issues climbing permits on Mt. Rainier. This is the text on the orange warning sign in the center of his cramped cabin:

—Attention Climbers—Due to warm weather, ice and rockfall potential is greatly increased on the upper mountain. All climbers should avoid camping at Camp Hazard.

Ice and rockfall? What about ravenous wild beasts, pestilence, famine, and glacier pirates? Shouldn’t one expect to find all these things and more at Camp Hazard?!

When I’m back at Rainier in a few years, I expect I’ll see an even sillier government alert. Backcountry warning: High levels of pollen have been detected at Camp Hazard. Those with asthma, allergies, or other medical conditions should avoid Camp Hazard and use Camp Sleepy-Safey instead.

I think people should expect the worst at Camp Hazard, and I think Camp Hazard should give it to them. And anyway, how can on operate a facility called Camp Hazard without ice and rockfall?

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©2003 David Glenn Rinehart