2007 Notebook: Weak XXXIII
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13 August 2007
No. 2,160 (cartoon)
You don’t believe me, do you?

I wouldn’t believe you even if you were telling the truth.

14 August 2007
Arbeit Macht Frei at Last
One can learn a lot from nature. Big fish eat little fish, smart animals eat stupid animals, that sort of thing. And now there’s news in Science about the Apidae family.

Queen bees release a smell that inhibits workers from acquiring knowledge; her pheromones prevent the worker bees from learning from negative experiences.

Imagine that: workers who suffer, don’t associate cause and effect, then go on to cheerfully suffer some more. I didn’t understand all the references to “aversive learning,” but I’d bet my left index finger that a human variation on the queen bee’s stupidity pheromone will be in the water supply of every industrialized country sooner than later.

Arbeit macht frei at last.

15 August 2007
Fourth Annual Wake

Today is my fourth annual wake, but I’ve once again failed to publicize it, let alone organize any festivities. My annual wake is a most atypical experiment: it’s not good enough to survive, and yet it’s not bad enough to fail.

I fear the missing element is the most obvious omission: my death.

For some reason, I find this evident oversight reassuring. Eventually, I shall effortlessly and involuntarily do what needs to be done to make my wake a success. I may get around to organizing a wake for myself before I die, but I doubt it. After all, there aren’t many things I can successfully postpone until I’m dead.

16 August 2007
Cheeseburgers and Pills
Elvis Presley died thirty years ago today. Some say good riddance, others agree. As for me, I’ve taken advantage of the anniversary of the corpulent musician’s demise to finally finish my tribute song to the legendary drug addict. And so, here are the lyrics for my song, Cheeseburgers and Pills.

Cheeseburgers and pills,
Cheeseburgers and pills,
That’s how I get my thrills,
Cheeseburgers and pills!

Cheeseburgers and pills,
Cheeseburgers and pills,
I’ve got the arterial chills,
Cheeseburgers and pills!

Cheeseburgers and pills,
Cheeseburgers and pills,
I’m drugged up to my gills,
Cheeseburgers and pills

Cheeseburgers and pills,
Cheeseburgers and pills,
The only treat that fulfills,
Cheeseburgers and pills!

Cheeseburgers and pills,
Cheeseburgers and pills,
Get me my fucking refills,
Cheeseburgers and pills!

Cheeseburgers and pills,
Cheeseburgers and pills,
I just can’t get my fill,
Cheeseburgers and pills!

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17 August 2007
Ninety-Kilogram Cyst Recalled
Recent history may be divided between this millennium and those that preceded it. For example, the Internet provides little information about some of the most horrific battles of the Crimean War, yet documents almost every playground injury sustained in the last few years.

I was reminded of this when I discovered a yellow, decades-old newspaper clipping with the headline, “200-pound cyst removed from 600-pound woman.” I wonder how generations yet unborn will know about Helen Hollenbaugh’s ninety-kilogram ovarian cyst? That’s not my problem; I’ve stored an image of the article in my computer for the edification and enlightenment of generations yet unborn. A cyst with seventy-nine liters—that’s one hundred and sixty-six pints!—of fluid; imagine that.

18 August 2007
Second Place, Only Place
I recently read a wonderful, cautionary tale about a Victoria sponge cake. Jenny Brown baked the confection in question for a village fete in Wimblington, Cambridgeshire.

The English grandmother’s entry in a competition won second place, even though she had the only cake in her chosen category. The judges declined to award her first prize because her concoction was marred by her oven’s rack marks.

Julie Dent, one of the competition’s organizers, wasn’t sympathetic.

“About eleven years ago I entered a show with some fruit scones,” Ms. Dent reported. “I was the only entrant, but I came third.”

Why people choose to compete when it comes to creative endeavors, this I do not know.

19 August 2007
A Referendum on My Loneliness?
“Watching television for me is a referendum on my loneliness.”

David Rakoff’s comment in a monologue I just heard makes me wonder: why don’t I watch television?

I suppose there’s the obvious reason: some burglars stole my television and beer—but not my Leicas!—in 1979. I’ve purchased oceans of malt beverages since then, but have never been tempted to buy another television.

I’m a little embarrassed about not owning a television; it makes me sound like a pseudo-intellectual, and I’m neither. Also, I waste as much time roaming around the digital wasteland that is the Internet as anyone addicted to the slightly less interactive medium of television.

Is the amount of time I spend on the Internet a referendum on my loneliness? That’s a question I don’t want to think about, let alone answer.

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©2007 David Glenn Rinehart