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02/01 Direct Link
Next week I'll have been in this apartment for two months.

Some of the boxes are right where the movers left them, and others are serving as coffee table, nightstand, and bookshelf. Over here is styrofoam piece corner, that is the (dirty/clean?) clothes zone, and this is the big empty carpeted area.

"Make yourself at home" means "Feel free to lie down in the big empty carpeted area and sprawl there for as long as you like. Please resist the urge to compare my new apartment to those drug dens you see in police raids on the local news."

02/02 Direct Link
I went to a one-time SAT math preparation class at a different high school. Nobody in the class seemed to notice that I was there except for Colangelo, who didn't like the look of me.

I sat at the front of a row of desks and Colangelo sat at the back. Using her feet, she slowly pushed all of the desks in front of her forwards. Confused students sitting in the desks between hers and mine said, "Colangelo, what gives?" and she said she had to push me all the way to the chalkboard, which she succeeded in doing.

02/03 Direct Link
I think Jackson's plan is to wait thirty years before contacting me to see how I've "turned out," because that's the kind of guy he is. I probably owe him money, but he won't want it back. He just sees himself as a mentor who takes a benevolent but distant interest in my career, and he'll want to know in what ways I was influenced by him. Some part of me wants to become a homeless toothless glue sniffer just to spite him, but then I think about the look of pity he'd give me and I change my mind.

02/04 Direct Link
Maybe you were thinking about going on a date, and all I'm saying is, there are other things to do. You could lie down in the driveway and get your friend to drop bricks on your head, for example.

But I'm not telling you what to do -- sure, you can have a bad and awkward conversation with a stranger and buy her coffee, and then she'll go home and make fun of you on her blog. Just, the next time after that you think about going on a date, try the brick thing and tell me which you like more.

02/05 Direct Link
The Senate committee has ordered us to dismantle the ion cannon.

For its design we were hailed as geniuses. Then the politicians got involved. "It's too dangerous," they said, "you'll destroy half the solar system if you ever used it," they said.

But who are we, we elite few, we men of vision, but the true authors of this world's fate? When our readers see a huge ion cannon constructed, they are sophisticated enough to expect to see it go off in the final act. The Senate has its responsibilities and I have mine -- I've given the order to fire.

02/06 Direct Link
I probably gained fifteen pounds between the day I started packing and the day I arrived. All of my pans were in boxes so I ate out a lot, and I didn't have time to exercise. Would you like to carry a FIFTEEN-POUND BAG OF HUMAN FAT everywhere you go? People who've seen me say "You look fiiiiiine," but saying 'fine' like that is an indication of a white lie.

As part of the weight loss process, I pad around the place pretending to be Sidney Greenstreet, saying "By Gad, sir, you are a character!" to nobody in particular.

02/07 Direct Link
Men don't like going to the doctor because we don't like being told what to do.

What if instead of saying "I'm putting you on Dorkinol, 5 mg," the doctor brought in a big drug index and said, "Here, let's look at some drugs together."

I'd flip through, not understanding a word of it, and the doctor would say "I hear Dorkinol is very good, very nice, but of course it's your choice."

I'd be in the "R" section, pretending to study one paragraph carefully, then I'd say, "Dorkinol, hm, yes, I agree, that would be best in this case."

02/08 Direct Link
An Irish guy I used to know (notice I don't say "friend") was desperate to get a U.S. visa for his Ukrainian girlfriend. I think he had the idea that Americans are given a little consular kit with stamps and an ink pad at birth. He said, "If this is the only thing you do in your life, it will have been worth it." He really said that.

I said "I'll do whatever I can," knowing full well there was really nothing I could do. He cried and thanked me, and to my relief they broke up a month later.

02/09 Direct Link
In my new job I get to work with a lot of young people, and I notice that in my interactions with them, they do not regard me as a peer. Is it possible that they think of me the same way I thought of people who were my age when I was their age? If so: ouch.

While working with them I try to joke around in a pleasant manner, like you would with anyone, but I secretly worry they are thinking "why is this overweight older gentleman trying to hang out with us? AS IF HE IS COOL."

02/10 Direct Link
If you have a small but important task to do, one that will maybe take you five or ten minutes to complete, you should focus on how unpleasant it will be. Worry about the consequences of not doing it while you try to focus on other things. When you want to relax, think about how much you're dreading it. Next, clean inside your silverware drawer and organize your paper clips.

At the absolute last minute, when you have no other choice, finish the task and note that you should have done it earlier. Repeat for the rest of your life.

02/11 Direct Link
The cereal for people who play sports is in this section, then it's broken down alphabetically by sport. We have to walk all the way to the end of the aisle, past the Volleyball Crunch (volleyball players need extra potassium and calcium) and finally we get to my cereal, DESK FLAKES. Desk flakes have absolutely no fiber, which means you don't need as many bathroom breaks, and they're iron-free to keep your energy levels and ambition low.

(You should be grateful for what you got! In the original, darker version, DESK FLAKES was just a box of rat poison.)

02/12 Direct Link
Ian and Shelley came to visit last week. Shelley looked disapprovingly at the big empty carpeted area. The topic turned to furniture.

"What's your style?" she asked.

I was led to understand that at some point in your adult life, you are supposed to choose from among a number of pre-determined "styles" which will be a semi-public indication of your inner life and character. How many such styles must there be? A hundred? A thousand?

"Mmmm, about six."

I want to find a way to (stylishly) rebel against this whole system. I want to make cardboard cool again.

02/13 Direct Link
In my down time at work I'm studying JavaScript, because why not, it's useful and fairly interesting.

In a computer program you can do anything and create anything you want out of thin air. It's a little bit like doing real magic. I can see how it can become addictive.

The problem is that I sometimes get confused about boundaries, and I start to wonder whether I can write a function that will make it stop snowing, or create a variable called "snack" to appear on my desk. Maybe the ones we call "wizards" are just really good at JavaScript.

02/14 Direct Link
Violeta is very concerned about the aging process. Sometimes while we're chatting, she'll just interrupt and point to a spot on her face where she perceives an imperfection.

"Here!" she'll shout, digging a fingernail into a spot on her face. "Look at that! A wrinkle!"

I pull her finger out of the way and move in closer to have a look. I don't see anything, and I tell her so.

"No, it's here, see?" I have to spend the next five minutes convincing her there's nothing there and that she's still vibrant and beautiful and that everyone still loves her.

02/15 Direct Link
THE HEART

The heart is a smooth muscle located in the upper chest region. Most doctors know the heart as "the pump of the body." The heart makes blood go around, which is needed for life. When a person is in love, the heart will beat faster, and when not in love, it will beat in a slower fashion. Eating too much salt will also make the heart beat fast, but not because of love. In February people give pictures of hearts, but the pictures do not look like real hearts. I hope you enjoyed my essay about the heart.

02/16 Direct Link
I had just been singing to her that

I (was) the man
Who (would) fight
For (her) honor

At the same time, I was pulling the inner shower curtain towards me. For some reason, I didn't expect the large green outer shower curtain to come along with it. It billowed menacingly; I flinched and batted at it with an open hand. She wouldn't stop laughing.

---

The Steamed Dumpling channel is your online source for scenes just like the above. There's no confusing plot, no troublesome context to keep track of, no real "characters," just a meaningless string of unconnected vignettes.

02/17 Direct Link
"So then my former boss said, 'Well you shouldn't have eaten so much oatmeal,' and..."

"Are we good enough friends yet that I can put you on speakerphone and eat this clementine while you talk?"

"I think friendship still requires adherence to basic manners. No two people are good enough friends for what you're proposing."

"Yeah, but come on, if I did you wouldn't hang up on me."

"So what you're really saying is that you're ready to start taking my friendship for granted."

"No, what I'm really saying is that I really want to eat this clementine right now."

02/18 Direct Link
I'm playing cards tonight with some people who are pretty serious about it. One of them didn't want to let me join them because he says playing with someone you don't already know is too hard. Doesn't that seem backwards?

For him, it's a game of psychology more than anything else. The brown-haired one likes to bluff. The tall guy is going to fold unless he really has something good.

Me, I just find it all amusing. You can't "read" me because no matter what, when I turn over my cards I'm going to look them over and smiiiiile.

02/19 Direct Link
I went ahead down to the courthouse this afternoon and officially changed my name to 'Thirteen-Bean Soup'.

I resented being bound by decisions and naming conventions that were made before I was born. We are responsible for shaping ourselves into the people we become, and your only true name is the one you choose for yourself.

Now I have to come up with something like, "the black bean represents mystery, the green pea represents individuality..." and then after lunch I'll find some other things to reject.

I, a-cooking and a-baking,
In a world of my own making.


02/20 Direct Link
Steamed Dumpling here, reminding you about the many benefits of FRUIT.

Friends, do you know that most Americans today don't eat enough fruit?

Vitamin C, fiber, potassium, and other healthy things are in some of your favorite fruits. Why not eat fruit every day?

Make party time FRUIT time: cut up some fruit, put it on a big plate, and pass it around with toothpicks to make new friends, or to turn the hearts of your enemies.

Fresh, frozen, or canned, FRUIT: it's got what you need.

For more information about FRUIT, contact your local farmers' association or cooperative extension.

02/21 Direct Link
Last night's "up with fruit" attitude led to an entry in which the word 'fruit' was repeated several times.

Fruit

Fruit

Fruit

Fruit

By the end, I looked at the word and couldn't figure out what it was. F-R-U-I-T was just a jumble of letters.

I mean, I still knew the definition of 'fruit', it's just that the written-out word had lost its meaning.

No, 'fruit' was definitely not a word.

It turns out this is called "semantic satiation." Having a name for the phenomenon made me feel less crazy. Still crazy, but less crazy.

02/22 Direct Link
In my head I compose answers to questions which no one is liable to ask me. I choose the words carefully and move paragraphs around for maximum effect, so that if you ask me what kind of hand dryer I like best or why toast is so nice, you will receive a detailed and well-organized response.

Ask me anything else, and I dare you to make any sense of whatever crazy thing I stammer out. I need lots of time to form coherent thoughts.

(The hand dryer lecture is now about two hours long, not counting time for questions.)

02/23 Direct Link
"If you'll come over here with me, Bob, I'll show you where it's all put together."

"Great!"

"Here's the Maillard Reactor, we put the substrate in here for a few minutes."

"So it's turning brown..."

"Exactly. After it comes out, we put it here in the staging area. Then Jimmy comes over with that flat metal rod... watch out, Jimmy..."

"Whoa, careful..."

"And he uses that to apply an aggregate made of salt and pulverized peanuts."

"That looks extra chunky."

"Good eye, Bob, it is, exactly. That's enough, Jimmy."

"Wow..."

"Jimmy, seriously, that's enough, behave yourself while Bob is here..."

02/24 Direct Link
I am pretty much back down to my fighting weight. If you've been thinking about "letting yourself go" for whatever reason, let me advise against it. If you need them, here are my actual

WORKPLACE WEIGHT LOSS TIPS

* Any time you have to go from point A to point B, run. (Making the "vroom!" noise is mandatory.)

* Go up and down the stairs during your lunch break. If anyone asks why you're eating a sandwich while going up and down, say "Do some reps, take the steps."

* Shadow boxing in the break room. (Bonus: get the break room to yourself.)

02/25 Direct Link
I went to the post office to send a small box to my brother in San Francisco. The woman behind the desk took a good long look at my return address.

"Huh!" she said. "Huh! That seems like a real quiet place you've got there."

"Yeah," I said, "It's pretty nice."

"Seems real quiet," she said. "I never notice people coming out or going into that place. You know?"

I didn't know how to respond, so I just said "Oh, no?"

"Nope," she said, stamping my box. "I figure a person could go into that place and nobody would know."

02/26 Direct Link
Some people are shaking their heads, saying "Where has February gone?"

Not me, though. I've been here for just over a month and it feels like I've always lived here. Novelty lengthens your perception of time, and everything here is new. If you wanted to make your life feel longer, you'd pack up your things and move to a new place every few years.

We can go weeks without seeing the sun here, which makes people move and think slowly. Doing 100 words makes the month seem longer too for some reason. I've never known time to crawl like this.

02/27 Direct Link
In my dream last night I held a very important ticket in my hand. I don't know what kind of ticket it was or what was written on it, but it was important.

I knew I was dreaming, and I was desperate to find a way to make sure I'd still have it when I woke up. I thought about swallowing it or putting it in an envelope and mailing it to myself. In the end I ran out of ideas and gave up. I put the ticket on a table and opened my eyes, and the ticket disappeared forever.

02/28 Direct Link
In the commercial, the mother chooses Brand B peanut butter because it's cheaper. Then her mother comes over for lunch and when she discovers the betrayal, she confronts her daughter. The daughter calls her a cold judgmental bitch and throws a vase at her, while little Jimmy falls into a swoon due to the inferior quality of Brand B. His glassy eyes stare up at the ceiling while the two women hash out decades of repressed emotions.

The father is upstairs surrounded by sports posters, enjoying a huge glass of whiskey. The commercial says "Aaaah... this is a Whiskey Moment."