2007 Notebook: Weak XLVII
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20 November 2007
No. 863 (cartoon)
You make me feel like I’ve never felt before.


I want to torture you.

21 November 2007
Sonja’s Potatoes Exposed
“Come closer,” Marcus whispered, “there’s something you should know.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

Marcus looked around nervously to make sure no one else could hear him.

“Sonja puts beets in her mashed potatoes!” he whispered excitedly.

“Why are you telling me this?” I replied.

“I’m telling everyone!” Marcus announced triumphantly.

“Beets!” he added for good measure.

22 November 2007
Selena’s Carbonized Thanksgiving
Selena invited me to Thanksgiving dinner, and I gladly accepted. Selena’s not the greatest cook, but then I don’t have a very sophisticated palate. We get along well; the culinary arts are not my favorite medium.

Still, none of Selena’s previous meals prepared me for what I saw this afternoon.

“Ta-dah!” she announced when she opened the oven, “my first turkey!”

It appeared that she’d found the shriveled remnants of the fowl in the wreckage of a jet, after the plane had burned.

“How long did you cook it for?” I asked.

“A couple of days, just like my mother said,” she replied.

“Your mother really told you to cook it for a couple of days?” I repeated skeptically.

“Sure,” Selena continued. “She said to cook it about an hour for every kilogram, and I weigh about fifty kilograms. Do the math.”

Since I’ve never cooked a turkey, I thought it would be churlish to criticize her. And so, we enjoyed an unusual holiday repast in the spirit of the day, for we both had much for which to be thankful.

23 November 2007
Scientific Calgary Mating Strategies
New Scientist Magazine reports that a research team at the University of Calgary concluded that female mice who sniffed the pheromones of male mice had larger brains than their counterparts who did not.

I’m suspicious. I generally trust the editors of New Scientist Magazine, but I suspect they’re unfamiliar with Calgary’s demographic topography: oil workers, cowboys, farmers, and very few women. I wouldn’t be surprised if the University of Calgary researchers concocted the dubious experiment as part of a misguided attempt at scientific courtship.

I can imagine the scene. It’s Saturday night at Joe’s Heifer A Go Go Saloon in downtown Calgary. A balding guy with thick glasses approaches one of the three women sandwiched inside a glob of drunken rednecks, flashes a copy of Pheromone-Related Brain Growth in Family Muridae, then uses his carefully-rehearsed pickup line.

“May I take you to my laboratory and give you a whiff of manliness and a bigger brain at the same time?”

I realize this approach to courtship wouldn’t appear to be efficacious. On the other hand, the other gentlemen in the room are using some variation on, “Let’s go out to my pickup and see what rhymes with truck.” I suppose the erstwhile University of Calgary scientists have at least reached some sort of awkward parity with their callous and callused counterparts.

24 November 2007
World Toilet Confusion
There’s nothing funny about toilets; poor sanitation kills almost two million people every year; that’s more than any other thing that kills fewer people annually.

And so, one can appreciate the enthusiasm with which members of the World Toilet Association launched their first conference. The gala event, in Seoul, Korea, featured musicians drumming on toilets, delegates from around the world, and even a house shaped like a toilet.

“The restroom revolution will provide hope and happiness to mankind,” Sim Jae-duck—Korea’s “Mr. Toilet”—told cheering delegates.

Despite the optimism, I was troubled by a sentence I read in a news report: “The group is not associated with the World Toilet Organization.”

There’s both a World Toilet Association and a World Toilet Organization?! Checking my notes, I see that I wrote about World Toilet Day last November, and the World Toilet Summit almost exactly three years ago. I’m concerned about the redundancy and confusion in the toilet reform movement; why can’t they all march to the same toilet drummer? And why do all the toilet-related events take place in November?

25 November 2007
The Rise and Fall and Rise and Fall of Absinthe
For reasons I’ll explain later, I’m upset to learn that United States government bureaucrats have legalized the sale of absinthe for the first time since 1912. But first, some background.

Pierre Ordinaire, a French doctor based in Couvet, Switzerland, concocted absinthe in 1792 to cure drinking problems. Oops! The potent potion, known colloquially as “La Fée Verte” (The Green Fairy), disappointed Dr. Ordinaire and delighted drinkers over the centuries. Lots of writers and artists sang its praises, and that was enough to sell it to some segments of society and terrify everyone else.

Hysteria usually triumphs over logic, and that was certainly the case with absinthe. The drink has been illegal in most parts of the world for nearly a century, but that’s changing rapidly. And that’s too bad.

I’ve certainly enjoyed the odd absinthe party, and the odder ones as well. Like so many other recreational pursuits, a large part of absinth’s attraction was that it was illegal. Now that absinthe is readily available, I think I’ll go for a bottle of Bunnahabhain when it’s time for an expensive drink.

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©2007 David Glenn Rinehart