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03/01 Direct Link
I have not as yet been granted control over the weather. You would know if I had. I would spell out hilarious cuss words with the clouds and I would melt your mountains of snow with gentle sunshine and I would set things up so that when you woke up tomorrow morning your front yard would be full of roses.

"I see he's been granted control of the weather, as predicted," you'd say, rubbing your eyes, and you'd go back to your coffee and pancakes. On the horizon four clouds spell out "BUTT" because I'm trying to make you laugh.

03/02 Direct Link
Mondays are rough, and I don't always handle them well. A co-worker called and said she'd be "down in two shakes," and I measured the time by imagining a tiny lamb shaking his tail twice.

*shake shake*

Look at him, happily shaking his tail! LOOK! Do you see the same little lamb in your mind's eye? Look how fluffy and soft! He could stand on my desk like so, and COME HERE YOU WOOLLY BASTARD, I want to muh-muh-muh-moooah-moooah.

I may have pretended to rub my face against an imaginary lamb at my desk this morning.

03/03 Direct Link
Remember when tartar control toothpaste had just come out? It came in a gold box. The kids at my school initially tried to use the presence of tartar on one's teeth as another thing about which to mercilessly tease one other, but since none of us really knew what it was (I'm still not entirely sure), that didn't work out.

Some kids brought it to school (in the box!) and I remember them being really shitty about it.

"Hey, guys, let's be serious, are you thinking about tartar? Brush daily and let's not see anything ruining those great smiles, okay?"

03/04 Direct Link
Mary is a special lady. Mary has a deep fryer.

Mary invited me over for curry tonight. While I was hanging out in her kitchen enjoying the smells, I noticed the little rectangular deep fryer between the toaster and the refrigerator.

"You have a... deep fryer," said, beginning to lovingly stroke the appliance.

"Yep," she said. "I don't use it too much, though."

"Mary," I said, casually putting my arm around her, "imagine the things we could fry together..."

And if there's a spill, it's not my apartment that will burn down.

I didn't say that last part out loud.

03/05 Direct Link
Every day on your way home from work you walk past a big lake, but your view of it is obscured by trees, so you've never seen the whole thing.

One day, the people who live on the lakefront get tired of seeing your longing glances and they invite you out in their boat. So, fine, you get into the boat, and you baloney around in the lake for a few hours.

You think maybe you've had enough, but the next day there you are again, trying to catch glimpses of the lake through the trees. Nothing has really changed.

03/06 Direct Link
STEAMED DUMPLING PRESENTS:
"FIVE MINUTE MYSTERIES"

What... what's this, now? Why is there something blue on my towel?

What is this? What do I have that is this shade of blue?

The stain looks like a country. One of those little ones in eastern Europe. Like... I don't know. One of the small ones.

Oh, God! It's not a mold, is it? (*scratch scratch*) It's not a mold. That's a relief, anyway.

Nothing in nature is this shade of blue. Nothing in my apartment -- nothing in anyone's apartment -- can have caused this.

---

What do you, the viewers at home, think?

03/07 Direct Link
Mary objected to the... "tone" of one of my questions.

-And what was the question?

The question was, (*ahem*) "Holy hell Mary, what is your major malfunction."

-"Major malfunction." Right. And what was this in reference to?

It's not important! It was because she... my rye crisps... It wasn't a big deal! I didn't expect to find myself embroiled in a big scandal over it.

-Listen, I'm going to read your statement back to you, and you tell me what it says about your communication skills. Because this committee thinks you exhibit, let's say, room for growth in this area.

03/08 Direct Link
I have to participate in an interview this week, and I am dreading it. I'm not a member of the department in question, and I don't know the qualifications needed to do the job or why we need to hire someone to do it.

"Oh, we just want your input!" they tell me. This place is run by crazy people.

I consider writing "RUN" on one eyelid and "AWAY" on the other, and then closing my eyes when the poor nervous applicant tries to make eye contact with me. Run away, poor nervous applicant, or you'll end up like us.

03/09 Direct Link
There's a moment in the morning, around 8:45 a.m., when I can feel the caffeine start to work. There is a quiet electric hum in the center of my brain and a pleasant sensation of power in my limbs.

I stretch myself up to my full height and say "Good Morning!" to people in the hallway, and I mean it. I make a mental note to invent a more efficient solar panel when I get home from work, and I actually intend to do it.

This effect lasts a full fifteen minutes, and within that interval nothing is impossible.

03/10 Direct Link
In college I developed a crush on this art major, just based on a smile she gave me once. On a walk around the lake one evening I wondered what I might talk to her about, and I started up a conversation with an imaginary version of her.

I don't mind telling you we really hit it off, and I had quite a few more imaginary walks with her that went equally well. While you can't have an ideal relationship with a real person, it's quite easy with an imaginary one, especially since you get to write all her lines.

03/11 Direct Link
But if you get to write the lines of your imaginary date, you at least get to interpret the lines of a real one, which you do when you think:

* She probably didn't mean it like that
* That's a compliment, when you look at it the right way
* She wasn't just being nice, I think she meant that
* She was probably yelling that at someone she saw out the window

So as long as there is never any sort of meta-communication (it's easy to avoid), you two can live in bliss for quite a while before the inevitable breakdown.
03/12 Direct Link
There has been a steady increase in the number of things that cause me stress. I don't know what to do with myself when I get that tight feeling around my throat and I can feel my heart rate and breathing start to go funny. Isn't there something we can do in this situation? I tried bouncing up and down in my chair and worrying about twelve things at once, but it didn't help.

Is it repression I'm thinking of? Just push it on down and deny the problem? Eat a huge bowl of noodles and call it a day?

03/13 Direct Link
Super-attractive co-worker and I were sitting at the table waiting for the meeting to start. It was just the two of us, and we were just staring straight ahead, listening to the clock. I didn't have anything to say, and apparently neither did she. For some reason there were ceramic vegetable figures in the center of the table.

(tick, tick, tick)

It was unbearable, so I picked up the carrot, and moved it in front of her.

"Hi there," said the carrot, "I'm a carrot. Roast me with olive oil and garnish me with parsley for an anytime treat."

03/14 Direct Link
Our Saturday chat was failing, so out of desperation I told Mary about yesterday's carrot incident.

"Her?" she said, "That super-attractive one?"

"Yeah, her."

I told it as a light-hearted work story. I didn't include the fact that super-attractive co-worker just barely allowed her pupils to move down to the carrot, then resumed looking straight ahead after saying "heh."

"What happened next?" Mary asked.

"Oh, nothing," I said.

I now realize that response covers a wide range of possibilities, including taking the ceramic figures, skipping the meeting, and holding an hour of vegetable theater and making out.

03/15 Direct Link
The restaurant was jumping, and we found Chub Baby in attendance. Chub Baby had just learned to screech, and his parents had carefully chosen the time and place for him to make his debut. Mother held him aloft for maximum effect, and sensing that his moment had come, Chub Baby gave his public an unforgettable ear-shredding screech.

"Good one!" said the waitress.

"Some pipes on that kid!" said the bartender.

Chub Baby graciously allowed these interruptions to his performance, and he carried on screeching while Mother slowly rotated him, and soon the entire building reverberated with his majestic voice.

03/16 Direct Link
The groundskeeper rejected my attempt at small talk this morning. He was salting the sidewalk outside his building, and I made a disparaging comment about the weather for this time of year. I normally wouldn't have said anything, but I wanted to let him know I was behind him, to prevent having salt thrown on me.

The groundskeeper said (correctly) that the weather was appropriate for the season, and by his tone made it clear my comment was baseless and unwelcome. I later realized he probably gets the same exact comment from every idiot who walks by him every morning.

03/17 Direct Link
* A man allergic to mustard seeks a woman with the same affliction. They meet at an office party, but are separated when the mustard-loving boss declares a mustard competition. The "third character," the city of Chicago, provides the backdrop for this romantic romp.

Tagline: The spicy, tangy film that won't stain your shirt.

* On a spaceship dedicated to the mission of being nice, one crew member realizes he can get more than his share by not being nice. What follows is an emotional exploration of good manners in space.

Tagline: In space, as elsewhere, you have to be nice.

03/18 Direct Link
* A computer hacker commits cyber crimes on the Internet. Thrill as this Web freak passwords into firewalls and makes some great friends along the way. He might even download romance onto his "heart drive" (which is not a thing).

Tagline: "Cyber times call for cyber crimes."

* Alligator Bill and Alligator Steve are croco-rivals in this hilarious slapstick. Who knows what these knuckleheads will get up to when they're both trying to win the heart of the aloof university herpetologist?

Tagline: "Laughter and love will bite your ass off."

---

Hollywood, you can have these for free; you definitely need them.

03/19 Direct Link
When I was in college, someone hacked into my computer.

I say "hacked into," but what really happened was I downloaded a program that promised me free money with no effort. "Well!" I said, "Yes, that sounds like just what I need, and I have no questions about how this works." College is not an antidote to a complete lack of common sense.

An hour later I watched, puzzled, as my cursor moved on its own, clicking around in my folders and opening my documents. I called my friends over and pretended I could control the computer with my mind.

03/20 Direct Link
Every Friday there is a meeting about our boss' daughter. She calls us together and tells us the funny things she said and did, and of course we are grateful to receive this information, because none of us have anything better to do.

Now, in these meetings you might want to say "That reminds of something my daughter said..." but this is not the forum for talking about your daughter, please focus and don't derail our meeting with your little stories.

(The above paragraphs are, wow, uncharacteristically bitter, but I'm too exhausted from our Friday Meeting to sweeten them up.)

03/21 Direct Link
I don't have as many fun work stories as I did in the past because these days I sit alone in my little box and work instead of interacting with coworkers. My old job wasn't always fun, but I got to talk to people, and I now realize, as introverted as I am, that is important.

My old job also left me with more energy to pursue hobbies that weren't naps, and, not that Albany is some kind of jumping hot-spot, but on weekdays it bustled and it gave me energy, while this place seems to take it away.

03/22 Direct Link
What I hope happened is that she has decided that I am, if not dead, dead to her. I have been nothing but cooperative in helping to create this impression, since I have no online presence to speak of, we have no mutual friends who might give her any reports of my activities, and we no longer live in the same city.

I am trying my best to be a good partner in this protracted transition by generally behaving myself and staying out of the news, and I finally, I hope she is taking it much better than I am.

03/23 Direct Link
When you buy an avocado, you are living on the avocado's time, and the avocado has some degree of control over your activities. I have declined to go out of town to visit friends because I had an avocado that was on the verge of ripeness and I didn't want to miss my window of opportunity.

For some people, this loss of control is unbearable. They lack the vitamins and healthy oils in avocados that could get their lives back on track.

Avocado tagline: "Have the courage to accept your helplessness as you are buffeted by the winds of fate."

03/24 Direct Link
I was invited to join in a webinar this afternoon, and I jumped at the chance to switch up the drudgery. It was going to be about new technology and led by an expert in the field, and I started to get pretty excited about it.

What happened was, she showed us a bunch of YouTube videos (with the ads!) about things that were new in the early 90s. Then she had the gall to give us "homework," and I immediately decided I wasn't going to do it.

"Send it to me by Friday," she said, but I was free.

03/25 Direct Link
I was amazed at my classmates in 6th grade who flatly refused to do their homework.

"Where's your homework?" the teacher would ask, holding her hand out, and the miscreant would reply cooly that he hadn't done it.

How? There are consequences! It's not something you can just refuse to do!

I have refused to do my webinar homework, and I now see the thrill. I sit in my little box and put my hands behind my head. What, will the webinar leader refuse to give me continuing education credit?

Oh, geez, she might... I'd better just do it, then...

03/26 Direct Link
She was showing me the genome of the common chimpanzee. TTTATGTAGCTTA and so on.

"Okay," I said, "I see. Now does all this tell me what makes that monkey so ornery?"

"That's kind of a common misconception," she said, "that individual genes control specific behaviors or characteristics."

She was amazing.

"Do you want to, um... look at my genome?" I asked. "I would let you see it. Maybe find out what makes me tick? We could compare our results and see what we have in common..."

She said my genome had limited research value and I was not her type.

03/27 Direct Link
I have not bought any new clothes for several years, and I'm afraid it is starting to show. When I wear the blue shirt with white stripes these days I get comments like, "You must really like that shirt, huh?"

I can't explain how much I hate shopping for clothes. Buying them in a store is unbearable, but even buying them online is something I avoid until I am actually wearing tattered rags.

Can't we just move into future times already, where everybody wears the same indestructible monochrome jumpsuit every day? Future times, please come soon, I want my jumpsuit.

03/28 Direct Link
A friend had spent most of the past year convinced I was angry at her. Something in my tone of voice convinced her. Last week she had finally had enough. She wanted to know what she had done.

I said "wha?" and she said no, stop it, I had to tell her and get it out in the open. Now she is angry at me for not telling her the thing I'm not angry at her about. I'm thinking about making something up in order to smooth things over. Why did you take my French fry that one time, etc...

03/29 Direct Link
Mitchell stopped by my desk and asked if I wanted to get some lunch.

Mitchell, I said, I'm busy and don't have time.

Mitchell said it was noon and he often saw me eating a sandwich at 10:45, but I did not eat a sandwich today.

Mitchell, I said, please do not spy on my sandwich activity, and if you must know, I only need lunch if I bring lunch; somehow proximity to a sandwich makes me hungry, but today I did not bring a sandwich so today I do not require food, is that okay with you Mitchell.

03/30 Direct Link
At work today we had a communications lesson -- the introverts had to stand in one corner and the extroverts in another, and we had to talk about strategies for communicating with the people in the other corner. Then the thinkers and the feelers had to group up and do the same.

We didn't really learn much except that there was a lot of resentment on both sides, and members of each group thought the others were idiots who didn't know how to communicate. This meeting created more bad blood than a month of pizza parties, which is quite a feat.

03/31 Direct Link
I think the stress reduction method I was looking for the other day was bourbon. This is not the healthy method, but I'll be damned if it doesn't work. After several of them I am feeling neither pain nor stress nor worry, and several hours ago I was experiencing all three at once.

I still haven't fully figured out how to live in the world, but I guess I still have time. Rarely, in moments of exhaustion or desperation, people around me will drop the act they've rehearsed and reveal they haven't figured it out either, which gives me hope.