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02/01 Direct Link
I don't like leaving messages on other people's answering machines which hint at things that are difficult to say. Neither should you. Neither should anyone.

When I press the button on my machine, I want to hear you identify yourself and give your message. Maybe a funny voice. Maybe a little song. Maybe, in this case, maybe a confession that you have been out all night drinking.

Don't tell me what you're having for breakfast and why it made you think of me, and don't tell me that you still sometimes wear my hat. I don't want to hear it.

02/02 Direct Link
As I write this, I am spreading spicy mango relish onto crackers as a before-bed snack. Eating something strange and spicy before bed is the best way to guarantee a dream with a good script.

Last night I had a movie-length dream about Brunhilde, a little brown hen who strapped a basket to her back and ran around the town delivering vegetables to people. She had adventures along the way, and it was better than anything currently on television.

Dreams can bring us wisdom and prescience, but they are also a top source of quality advertisement-free entertainment.

02/03 Direct Link
I took my idea to the network.

***

"Hmmmm... she's a chicken. A delivery chicken, is that what you're saying?"

"That's right."

"So what, is she hot or something?"

"She's... a chicken, sir."

"Yeah, I know, but we could draw her with hot lips and big eyelashes or something. We could make some jokes about chicken breasts and thighs, yeah..."

"No, no, nothing like that -- she makes deliveries for the villagers and she has little adventures along the way."

"A sexpot delivery chicken who kills zombies. Our young male demographic loves this crap. Mr. Dumpling, we'd like to make your show."

02/04 Direct Link
My stock has fallen in the office since I wasn't able to explain what it means to "beat the spread" to a young female co-worker. I had to call another guy over to explain it to both of us. It was humiliating.

The sad thing is, I have had "the spread" explained to me at least five times by different people, sometimes with diagrams. Also, just now I read the Wikipedia article about "spread betting" and I still don't understand it. My self-esteem has plummeted.

My failure to understand "the spread" has a negative impact on my life.

02/05 Direct Link
I bought a fifteen-pound weight at the sports store in the mall today. It says "FITNESS CLUB" in big white letters on the side.

I would have felt kind of dumb walking around with a weight in the mall, so I asked for a plastic bag to put it in. I think people could still guess what I was holding, though.

Maybe I'll lift it once in a while... you know, for fitness... and my arms will become less skinny. Somebody will call and ask if I want to get dinner somewhere, but I'll be too busy doing reps.

02/06 Direct Link
Publishers have realized that men like to sneak looks at their girlfriends' magazines. They've concluded men are hungry for information about grooming and relationship advice, but this is all wrong.

I can tell you that we are interested in these publications because we hope they will afford some special insight into the Secret World of Women, but the information is either baffling or unhelpful, and ranges from the catty (thin celebrity photographed eating an ice cream cone) to the domestic (you can scrub your bathtub with a grapefruit!) to the banal (men like it when you take off their pants).

02/07 Direct Link
I don't know if you've noticed, but when college-aged males go on car rides, they will compete for the passenger's seat by shouting out "shotgun!" The one who is judged to have said it first wins the spot.

Almost ten years after graduation, one of my friends still does this. We are embarrassed for him, slightly.

Worse, when Steve announced he was getting married, this same chum(p) of ours, in all seriousness, shouted out "best man!" He clearly felt cheated and began to sulk when, after a slight pause, Steve announced he had chosen Simon to play that role.

02/08 Direct Link
RECIPE CORNER:
Coconut muffins

You can shred coconut with a goddamn fork and put it into your muffins, I don't care. Would you like to put some flour in there? Would you? Yeah, you probably would.

Want to put some baking powder in? Why? "So they'll rise?" You make me puke. You might as well put a pinch of salt in there while you're making a mess of the kitchen. Don't look at me with that idiotic expression on your face, you worthless bag of pus, just do it.

No, you know what? I'm finished. I'm done with this recipe.

02/09 Direct Link
It's tempting to think that if we could turn off the chatter of our conscious minds for a few moments, it would open up some space for the subconscious to surface and reveal its dark secrets.

Imagine sitting at your keyboard, closing your eyes, and just typing whatever pops into your head. It's like automatic writing without the spiritual mumbo-jumbo.

In last night's entry you can see the result of such an experiment, in which it was revealed that I was

a) hungry for muffins, and
b) in one of my "moods."

[Also, c) My subconscious is a jerk.]

02/10 Direct Link
Further evidence of my subconscious food fixation came in a recent meeting in which my boss asked me to explain (in simple terms) what an XML file is.

"It's like a loaf of bread," I began, but quickly realized the two have absolutely nothing in common.

"Actually, it's more like a salad..."

I took us through the soup, the main course, and the dessert ("an XML file is like a chocolate layer cake...") before I yielded the floor to Lin, who pointed out that it is sometimes helpful to think of an XML file as a list with two columns.

02/11 Direct Link
Liz is all glittered up today.

By that I mean she has actually glued glitter to her face. I didn't know you were allowed to do that.

It must be that she is planning to attract someone with her feminine wiles. She must have her eye on someone -- otherwise, I wonder, why all the glitter? It can't be comfortable or convenient. I should have asked when I saw her this morning, but I was literally dazzled by the sunlight on her face.

Valentine's Day is coming soon. We all have our mate acquisition tactics, and I'm guessing hers involves glitter.

02/12 Direct Link
I sat at her desk and grasped her hand gently. It was very soft and it fit neatly into mine, and I began to realize I hadn't held a girl's hand for a long time.

I pulled the sliver out and she began to tell me about the time she almost fainted when she pulled a sliver out of her own hand, and after a few moments she began to frown at me and pull her hand away. Looking down, I realized I was still holding it.

"OH!" I said, practically throwing her hand back to her, "oh! I'm sorry!"

02/13 Direct Link
I bumped into Cindy in the elevator while heading out for a well-deserved coffee break.

"Hey!" she said, "I hear you're pretty busy these days!"

"Yeah, I really am..."

"Isn't it so dry in our office?" she continued. "My legs are like lizard skin. I mean, seriously, it's like touching an actual lizard!!!"

Under the rules of conversational reciprocity, I was now under pressure to reveal something disgusting and horrible about myself.

"Yeah," I said, "my hands are pretty dry, too."

Cindy realized I wasn't playing her game, and wouldn't talk to me for the rest of the day.

02/14 Direct Link
My roommate walked in with his new girlfriend. I was sitting at the kitchen table eating dried apricots.

"Wait right here," he told her. "I just have to grab something from my desk."

He quickly introduced her to me as he ran into his room.

When she saw me sitting there, she instantly thrust her hands into her pockets and looked at the floor. I stared straight ahead, chewing.

My roommate rummaged through drawers in his room, unaware that his introduction had been unnecessary; she and I already knew each other quite well.

I did not offer her an apricot.

02/15 Direct Link
I went to a party (briefly!) last night. There were lots of snacks there, but Ian particularly enjoyed one -- little fried things in a sugary syrup. He asked Dave what they were.

"They're gob-jommin! You've had them before, haven't you?" said Dave.

"Oh, gob-JOMMIN! Of course, right..."

Ian was too embarrassed to say that he still didn't know what they were. He scooped almost all of them onto his plate and covered them with a napkin.

"I think they're called gob-jommin," he said to me, "and I think I love them. Let's get out of here before Dave catches me."

02/16 Direct Link
Ian and I snuck out of Dave's party and walked down the dark street towards his car.

"Man, Dave throws a good party," he said, still eating. "It's a pity we had to leave early because I took ninety percent of his gob-jommin."

On the way, I told him about my encounter with the unusually glittery Liz.

"It's awfully sexist of you to assume she glittered herself up just for a guy's sake," he said. "Maybe she was just feeling glittery that morning, you know?"

"You're looking quite glittery yourself, friend" I said, "covered as you are with gob-jommin syrup."

02/17 Direct Link
Ian asked me to drive so that he could continue eating without getting his car too sticky.

"Look," I said, "if a girl goes to great lengths to improve her appearance..."

Ian interrupted.

"Or, let's say, attempt to improve it, since taking a glue stick and a jar of glitter to your face doesn't necessarily, um..."

At this point he paused to fish around for a gob-jommin that had fallen under his seat.

"Well, yes, good point, but it isn't sexist to assume she's trying... God, look at you!"

"Whatever," said Ian, "you're a very superficial person, you know that?"

02/18 Direct Link
A few days later I saw Liz, and her face was glittery again.

"Liz!" I said, "you're so shiny today!"

She laughed.

"Yeah, thank you!"

"Doesn't it hurt," I asked, "when the glue dries?"

"Glue???" she laughed. She tilted her head and looked at my face to see if I was joking. "It's just a lotion I buy at the drugstore."

"Lotion... of course..." I said. "So... do you save it for special occasions, orrr..."

"That's none of your business," she laughed. "Take care!"

Later that day I called Ian.

"We have no idea, we have no idea..." I said.

02/19 Direct Link
I guess upon finishing that little story the first thing the attentive reader will say is

STOP SAYING GOB-JOMMIN

but I can't because it makes me laugh and I don't know its real name.

Also, the tone of despair at the ending is slightly misleading. Ian tells me that on his way home, completely covered with syrup, he ran into Shelley, his ex-girlfriend. He tells me about the aphrodisiac qualities of gob-jommin. I hear Shelley's voice in the background.

"Shelley says hello," he says.

If you know anything about gob-jommin or glitter or women, please do consider writing in.

02/20 Direct Link
Sandra is telling me about self-defeating behaviors. She says she exhibits them in the winter months due to the lack of sunlight.

Sandra, I say, you seem tense. Let me make you a waffle. They are round and yellow, and will remind you of the sun. We will leave this coffee shop and go back to my place, and I will make you some waffles. They will get you started properly for 2011.

Now Sandra is angry at me for suggesting food as a mood enhancer, thereby enabling her self-defeating behaviors. She says I am not being helpful.

02/21 Direct Link
steamed dumpling's guide to emotional eating

Waffles, pancakes, and other round foods are best for filling gaps left by an absence of romance in your life. They also, as we learned yesterday, cure seasonal affective disorder.

If you are frustrated by a lack of advancement in your career, you should choose crispy foods like crackers or popcorn, to satisfy a craving to crunch the bones of those who stand in your way.

A YHWH-shaped hole (should you experience one) is best filled by three-sided foods such as pizza slices or tortilla chips, due to that deity's triune nature.

02/22 Direct Link
Yesterday morning as I was walking to work I came across two tough guys shouting and getting ready to fight each other.

"Hey!" said one of them. "You know what? I'm gonna rock you to sleep. That's it!"

Of course, this is an offer that is usually accompanied by a favorite stuffed animal and a soothing melody. It didn't sound very tough.

I was almost more amused by the wording of his threat than convinced of his intention to carry it out, but for self-preservation's sake I decided not to run over and make fun of him for it.

02/23 Direct Link
Oh, Susan... I don't think I'll ever understand "the Web."

Don't worry, Bob -- in this video we're going to explain Internet so that even you can get it. Ha ha ha!

Let's begin, then!

Web data, like my Twitter here, goes through on port 80, Bob. See how I've configured my iptables to allow in- and out-bound traffic?

Slow down there, Susan! "Twitter"? What's that?

Imagine if a "blog" and an "e-mail" had a baby! Also, it sometimes makes social upheaval happen.


(Look up videos from the early 90s explaining computers to old people, they are the best.)

02/24 Direct Link
BASED ON NOTHING!

The major networks have donated thirty seconds for our little PSA about not breaking up for ridiculous reasons. It's a major drain on the economy when people can't come in to work because they were dumped over something stupid.

You don't like the way he folds socks? You don't like the way she fills the bathroom with scented candles? You don't think you'll still be in love when you're seventy? Of course you won't, you'll just be grateful to be alive and have someone to talk to.

Our campaign is called "Stay Together: You're No Prize Yourself."

02/25 Direct Link
I was kind of an asshole to a friend of mine the other day. I've been feeling bad about it, so this morning I sent an honest apology.

My friend wrote back pretty quickly and said it was fine, and we all have our moments, right? Right.

I felt really good after that. It would have been fine if I hadn't said anything about it, but having my apology officially accepted felt much better.

To maintain this feeling of lightness on my conscience, I am issuing a blanket apology for everything I have ever done, ever. Everyone, I am sorry.

02/26 Direct Link
More than a decade after hitting puberty, it is refreshing to know the left side of my nose can still put on a hell of a show.

The enormous red pimple that has erupted there is a marvel, and the fact that it appeared overnight is a testament to the technical skill of the production team.

Everything an audience looks for in a pimple -- bright red color, firmness, size -- is there. People will be talking about this one for months. Not to be missed.

Enormous Pimple
Left side of my nose
No reservations required
Rating: five stars out of five
*****/*****
02/27 Direct Link
ALL MY FEBRUARIES

February 2009 was a bad month. I know because I just read about it. Well... I remember it, too.

One of the benefits of having written here for a while is that it's possible to look at a certain month through different years and search for patterns or trends. When I look at All My Februaries, I see progress. That's what I choose to see, anyway.

Instead of a story about Apartment Ape, I spent most of this month writing about food, but that's OK. I am fending off cynicism. I am doing the best I can.

02/28 Direct Link
Sometimes it is necessary for us to make decisions. If we don't decide, if we take no action, there will be consequences.

Oh, but sometimes it is too much for me. Now we blunder forwards because it is the only option. It is not a decision, it is following the flow of inevitability, and the consequences will meet us at the end. It doesn't really matter how you choose to do it.

But, you say, you are falling prey to cynicism there, and I know, but I am getting so so so tired and it is easier this way.