2009 Notebook: Weak XIV
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3 April 2009
No. 7,468 (cartoon)
Chance is a fool’s name for fate.

Fate is a fool’s name for chance.


4 April 2009
Not Being Our Parents
Karen cooked a superlative dinner tonight. She thought the Japanese pumpkin was overcooked; I did not. But that’s neither here nor there.

Some of the evening’s activities involved computers: listening to music, reading recent work, watching thirty-second films, that sort of thing. Given the role modern technology plays in so many things we do, I wondered aloud what our lives would be like if we’d been born thirty years earlier.

“We’d be our parents,” Karen replied without hesitation.

5 April 2009
Learning the Easy Way
As I stood in a long line at the grocery store this afternoon, I noticed that the cashier was wearing an oddly-colored cheap wig. It was so obvious as to be unworthy of comment.

While I stood in a long line at the grocery store this afternoon, I noticed that a current events magazine featured a photograph of the U.S. president with the headline, “Learning the hard way.”

That led me to wonder if there was another way of learning. And that led me to recall Kurt Heckscher’s advice, “Learn from the mistakes of others; you can never live long enough to make them all yourself!”

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6 April 2009
Perforated Ball, Tall Reed
I was walking along the shore of Decker Island when I spotted a perforated plastic ball impaled on a tall reed.

I wasn’t surprised to find plastic trash; the Sacramento River has dumped thousands upon thousands of pieces of plastic debris on the shore of the island. What struck me about this particular piece of detritus was its location. Since Decker Island is uninhabited and accessible only by boat, helicopter, swimming, or skydiving, I assume the ball ended up high in the reeds through an improbable combination of flooding and tides.

I left the ball exactly where I found it; it wouldn’t be remarkable anywhere else.

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7 April 2009
Grease Supreme
I saw an incredible sight cycling through Oakland. Someone tipped a fifty-liter container of grease off a curb with the intention of letting the contents run into a storm drain. The simple plan didn’t work for a simple reason: viscosity. The cooking oil was so thick and congealed that it clogged the container’s wide aperture.

I wonder about the coagulated oil’s provenance. I’m almost certain it’s been used to fry delicious food since the previous millennium. I wish I could have savored the potatoes that fried in the molten fat as recently as last week; I’m sure they had a taste spectrum unmatched and unrivaled by any restaurant.

My palate will probably never revel in such a delight. Since restaurants hire grease collectors, the oil I discovered almost certainly came from a private home. I doubt the surreptitious grease dumper will ever read this paean, but, if s/he does, I’m available for lunch or dinner most days.

8 April 2009
Attractive Authors and Beautiful Musicians
“If you have an attractive looking author, there’s a better chance that your book will be reviewed.”

That’s the advice an editor of a popular magazine (circulation: 3,734,531) gave at a recent meeting of the Publishers Publicity Association. I’m not surprised; who would be?

Talent alone is no longer enough to get popular recognition, if it ever was. A decade ago I wrote about the Eroica Trio, a “classical” music ensemble that, at the time, seemed like a marketing ploy to use three attractive young women in revealing clothing to sell unremarkable recordings. Since then, at least one of the women has been replaced by ...

... wait for it! ...

... another attractive young woman who looks good in revealing clothing!

I’m sure she’s a competent craftsperson; good mechanics aren’t hard to find. I wonder, though, if any more talented fiddlers—who may also have been old and/or a bit overweight and/or homely—were allowed to audition. That seems improbable; music is peripheral to marketing concerns.

The Glenn Miller Orchestra’s still in business seventy-five years after the bandleader vanished over the English Channel; I wouldn’t be surprised if the Eroica Trio’s still selling recordings in 2084. If it is, I bet the group will comprise of three attractive young women in revealing clothing.

A corollary: in the not too distant future, all popular authors will be handsome and/or beautiful. And so, I shall remain free in my comfortable anonymity.

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©2009 David Glenn Rinehart