2006 Notebook: Weak XXI
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21 May 2006
No. 3,792 (cartoon)
Shut up!

I would if you’d stop interrupting.

22 May 2006
The End of a Thirty-Year Twenty-One Year Old Reign?
I listened to a good interview with Leonard Cohen; he made a number of interesting observations. I appreciated an approach he later abandoned, “My life was very rigorous, designed to overthrow a twenty-one year old.” Cohen concluded that his rigor didn’t serve his well, so he took a five-year break at a monastery to reëxamine his life.

I’m considering reëxamining my life as well, although it certainly won’t involve living in a monastery and getting up before dawn. Instead, I’m thinking of adopting Cohen’s rigorous approach and ending my twenty-one year old’s decades-long free reign. What a curious idea.

23 May 2006
Multimedia World Cup
The World Cup football matches begin in Germany next month. Most Americans are unfamiliar with the largest sporting event in the world. (These are the same people who follow a baseball tournament between North American teams called the World [sic] Series.)

And so it is that Everett was confounded by news reports that ten seats at each of the sixty-four games were reserved for blind fans. He summed up his argument thusly, “How can they be spectators if they can’t use specs?”

I know the answer to his rhetorical question, even though I’ve never been to a football game. I have, however, enjoyed living in England, where I occasionally walked within half a kilometer of a football stadium during a match. Even at that distance, the sound of tens of thousands of inebriated fans chanting, cheering, and booing in unison was a guttural, primitive experience that any blind person could appreciate.

Having said that, the sounds themselves aren’t all that inspiring. One Italian football club’s supporters have adopted the dark chorus from a popular Detroit musical duo’s song. And as for the words, my favorite football chant remains,

    All my life a Magpie Ranger,
    Only live for sex and danger.

Haway the lads!

24 May 2006
Great Apes, Not Great Wine
I read that the staff who guard the primates in the Budapest Zoo give their prisoners cheap table wine. That makes perfect sense to me; I like to drink when I’m in captivity, too.

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25 May 2006
Earthquake Soap
Yet another tiny earthquake tickled San Francisco today. The minor tremor was too small to be noticed by humans, but was duly noted by seismic monitoring devices such as my earthquake soap.

I put a half-used bar of Markate soap on a damp sponge on the patio tiles. (Markate’s manufacturers use just the right combination of lard and sodium hydroxide to make the molecular structure particularly sensitive to the frequency of earthquake vibrations.) And so, when I awoke this morning and spotted a small fissure in the bar of soap, I realized we’d had a tiny earthquake.

Perhaps some day I’ll attach a timer to the soap. Perhaps some day I won’t.

26 May 2006
Golden Gate Euthanasia Booths
Yesterday, I walked across the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time. I’ve traveled across the landmark many times on my bicycle, but yesterday was my first time crossing the span on foot. As always, I was surprised to see the myriad facets of a place that are all but invisible when cycling. While I’m on my bike, the only things I’m looking for are the countless hazards that make cycling so interesting.

And so it was that I was surprised to see small booths offering “free euthanasia counseling” at either end of the bridge. Byron, a cheerful volunteer staffing the north kiosk, asked me if I’d like a free euthanasia coupon. He seemed a little disappointed when I told him I wasn’t interested at the moment; I suspect he had a quota to fill.

Since business was slow, Byron was kind enough to explain that the San Francisco Visitors and Convention Bureau sponsored the euthanasia booths. Apparently, the hundreds of people jumping to their deaths off the bridge haven’t been good for business, hence the free euthanasia program.

I thanked Byron for his tedious economic arguments, then turned to leave. That’s when he asked me how long it took to hit the water after jumping.

“Four seconds,” Byron announced without waiting for a response. “And you know what kills ’em?”

“Let me guess,” I replied. “Does it have something to do with water?”

I don’t think Byron heard my answer. Without a pause, he explained that a human body hitting the water at well over a hundred kilometers an hour stopped almost immediately. Said body’s internal organs, however, continued traveling at great speed. Byron said his friends in the Coast Guard, charged with recovering the jumpers’ bodies, reported more than one “floater” with intestines hanging from the mouth.

I enjoyed talking with Byron; it’s not often that I run into someone who really enjoys their work.

27 May 2006
The Bad Tooth Fairy
Cecelia’s six-year old son Cedric told me that he was about to come into some serious money.

“The tooth fairy’s coming tonight,” Cedric beamed with a gap-toothed smile.

“The good tooth fairy or the bad tooth fairy?” I asked.

My question baffled Cedric, who gave me a blank look.

“The good tooth fairy will come and give you money for your tooth if you’ve been a good boy,” I explained, “but if you’ve been naughty then I’m afraid the bad tooth fairy will show up.”

“The bad tooth fairy?” Cedric said nervously.

“The bad tooth fairy is very bad,” I described. “Not only doesn’t he leave any money, he pulls out one of your good teeth, and when you wake up in the morning your mouth hurts and your face and pillow are covered with blood.”

Upon hearing that, Cedric ran into the house to spread the news.

Two minutes later, Cecelia ran out of the house and demanded, “What have you been telling my son?”

“Nothing, really,” I replied, “just a cautionary tale to instill high moral values encourage good behavior.”

“Well if you don’t want to wake up with a bloody pillow and missing one of your teeth,” Cecelia warned, “let’s just say that I encourage your good behavior.

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©2006 David Glenn Rinehart