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Friday, August 22, 2008

Humans Win Most Advanced Species

At the Beijing Hypothetical Olympics, they had a type of decathlon event that was split up according to species. They put a group of ten from each species into a large arena to see which ones could survive the best. The cheetahs were banned by the Olympic committee for using performance enhancing drugs, and the lemmings protested outside the stadium about the dangers of cliffs.

Representing us was a marketing executive from Seattle, a housewife from Morocco, a college student from Botswana, an entrepreneur from Peru, a 2-year-old toddler from Melbourne, a retired farmer from Duluth, the singer Meat Loaf, a computer guru from Denmark, a Serengeti bushman, and MacGyver (OK, it was rigged a little bit). While the computer whiz wrote an algorithm to decipher the behavioral patterns of each competing species and Meat Loaf distracted them with his crooning or facsimile thereof, the bushman proceeded to build a fire and then MacGyver concocted a solution out of lemon juice, cayenne pepper and Altoids to make it explode and stave off all oncomers.

In the end, the humans were given the gold medal for their ingenuity, technology, and wealth, which helps for bribing purposes as well. The meerkats received good enough scores from the judges to take home the silver, due to their adeptness at reconnaissance as well as their surprising proclivity for building towering fortresses out of limestone, which devastated the favored coral reef squad, who went home disappointed without a medal. Behind the meerkats were the relentless mosquitos, who were able to buzz around while the rest of the animal kingdom was fighting it out. When the mosquitos were given their medals, they careened to the floor as the arena fell to a hushed silence. Then everyone broke into thunderous applause, realizing the mosquitos wouldn’t be posing for any more photo ops. And thus wrapped up the closing ceremonies to another fruitful and fun-filled Olympics. We’re still #1!

54-40 or Punt

A quick overview if you haven't seen the TV show Monk... If you’ve already seen it, skip ahead 18 words and resume from there. The main character on Monk is a delightfully eccentric, obsessive compulsive, fastidious type. He's very particular about things. OK, you can start reading here again. I can see a little of myself in Monk from time to time. I hadn't paid much attention to it before, but I appear to be real big on symmetry. And I like to straighten things out. I can’t sit still if I see something on the wall that isn’t straight. I have to go fix it, otherwise it will get under my skin and I won’t be able to concentrate.

Things that need to be properly aligned in order for the universe to be restored to its equilibrium:

I. For some reason, it nags me that Alaska doesn’t connect with the rest of the states. I can reason away Hawaii, because Hawaii’s got a very good excuse, handwritten by its mother and everything: “Please excuse Hawaii from joining the states, since she’s just a little group of islands and it’s too far for her to walk.” That’s fine. I can live with that. But Alaska, it has other land between it and the rest of the United States. To have a country separated by another country is weird, and it’s just plain wrong. To me, that means Alaska isn’t united. It’s the one un-united state. Canada is in between, and is messing up all the karma to freely flow through all the states. I figure this situation alone is causing me to lose about four minutes of sleep every night. The U.S. should purchase a strip of land from Canada along the Pacific coast about 50 miles wide, continuing the portion in which Juneau resides that already extends halfway down British Columbia. It would reduce the size of British Columbia by only about 10%. There aren’t any major cities along the coast besides Prince Rupert and Vancouver, and I think we could negotiate those areas. It would be a win-win situation. While they’re at it, the Canadians should rename B.C. so that it doesn’t maintain any British influence. Call it something like "Hate the British – Columbia".

II. Pennies just don’t belong. Nobody wants them, and I’m not going to be able to rest as long as they’re in circulation. It’s like a game of hot potato. Whenever you go to the drive-thru at a fast food place, it’s a competition to see if they can charge you an amount that you can’t pay using your pennies, so then they get to give you pennies back instead — probably the same ones you gave them last week. Don’t you just love those purchases that are something-99, like $1.99? You hand them two one-dollar bills, and they hand you back a penny. What are you supposed to do with it? Don’t you feel kind of silly having someone hand you a penny? It’s not even worth the few seconds it took to exchange it. If I see a penny on the floor, and there’s a garbage can close by, that’s where it goes. After all, if time is money, then even a few seconds is too much to devote to a penny. Sometimes I give the drive-thru about 17 pennies with my change. And have you noticed that they don’t count them (other than the clueless freshman who’s only been working there a week). They don’t count pennies because pennies are a hassle. If something costs $3.45, just give them about two hundred pennies and call it good. We can take a clue from the vending machines. They want nothing to do with pennies. They’re too good for pennies. They’ve risen above us piddly humans who are still using copper coinage, and they don’t deal in anything below a nickel. Besides, pennies are worthless to begin with. You can’t get anything for a penny any more. You can’t get anything for even four pennies. With inflation doubling consumer costs every 25 years or so, it has made the penny obsolete. So let’s obsoletize it.

III. I’m from the school of thought that Saturday and Sunday ought to appear side by side on a monthly calendar. This one bugs me big time. Almost all calendars show Sunday over on the left, and then Saturday way over on the right. Is there some psychological need to feel like our week is enclosed like a sandwich? OK, so maybe my request is a psychological need as well... but mine’s more important, dang it! Mine serves the purpose of keeping the weekend days in one section by themselves, and the weekdays in another section. They need to be kept apart, nice and neat. Having some of the days scattered about is very sloppy time management. How can I rightly plan out my weekend when half of it is on one side of the calendar and half is on the other? I can’t deal with that kind of incongruity.

IV. I’m sorry, but February just needs to have 30 days, so that the months can be more even. I lose about seven minutes of sleep a night on this one. Borrow a day each from December and August, which have 31 apiece. And then on leap years, December can have 31 again. What would be even more helpful is if all the months had the same number of days. I’ve gone through that rhyme a thousand times in my life just to try to keep track, and I still don’t have them memorized... “Thirty days hath September, April, June and November. All the rest have 31, except February, who is really weird and a non-conformist.” I know it needs to add up to 365 somehow. If we had 13 months, each one could be exactly 28 days (or four weeks, whichever comes first), making 364 total. The extra day could be a special holiday apart from all the months, kind of like the District of Columbia. If each month had 28 days, they could always start on the same day — Monday, thank you very much. The 1st would always be a Monday, the 18th would always be a Thursday. It would make our calendars so much cleaner. Right now they’re very messy. How am I supposed to function in such an environment?

V. I have a need to take literally people who are making claims, so when advertisers use weasel words, it just doesn’t sit right. How can I be expected to process all the various nonsense words they use like "hearty," "wholesome," "goodness," "fresh," "crisp," "Mesopotamian," or "fungible"?

VI. I never understood as a kid why when you get to 60 seconds, you start over. What a rip-off. I was all psyched up to try to get to a hundred, and then they start over. OK, so I do it again, and as soon as I hit 60 again, sure enough they want me to start over. This is a little infuriating. We’re working on a base-10 numbering system, and we’re wasting those last 40 seconds. Minutes should be 100 seconds long to keep things tidy, and hours should be 100 minutes long. As it is, each day is a clunky 86,400 seconds. No wonder we can’t organize our schedules — our day isn’t symmetrical. If each minute were 100 seconds, and each hour were 100 minutes, then we could have 10 hours in a day, and just tick the seconds off a little bit quicker. Instead of saying "one thousand one, one thousand two..." to count, you’d say something like "eight hundred one, eight hundred two..." We’d get used to it. I don’t know why we’re making it so hard on ourselves. Nobody can rightly calculate time spans, with the wonky multiples of 12 and 60, and having two sets of 12’s each day. Having a 7:00 a.m. and a 7:00 p.m. makes about as much sense as having a 3rd Ave. and a 3rd St. in the same city. And saying 12:00 p.m. or 12:00 a.m. confuses everyone, so we have to revert to the old standbys of “noon” and “midnight”. That should send up a red flag right there.

VII. If they made the length of one foot to be a more reasonable 10 inches, then I’d be 7 foot 3. And everyone who’s 5-feet-something would be at least 6-feet-something. It would make everybody happier, and we’d have more basketball players.

A few others:
• Phone number area codes and prefixes that aren’t in order according to location. They’re too random, and they need to be systematic.
• I have to wear the left headphone in my left ear, and the right one in my right ear. I don’t know what might happen if I didn’t. I might experience the world backwards or something.
• I can’t miss any part of a movie if I’m paying for it. Somehow if it’s free, I’m OK with being lost when I come back.
• I always check to see if the stove’s on before I go to bed.
• If I’m going to be somewhere for more than an hour or two, I like to back into the parking spot. That way, I'll have the advantage later.
• I don’t want to eat sweets in the morning. No on cake, brownies, pie or candy. But curiously, pastries are fine. The Danes have indoctrinated me.

Watch Monk and you might recognize some more things about yourself. You can even find some online episodes at the usanetwork web site.

* * * * * * * * *

I get a kick out of those revved-up Ovaltine commercials. The kids in them are on pep pills or something. They don’t talk like real people, but instead act like they’ve just gotten some sort of buzz. "It’s rich... It’s chocolaty... And it’s addictive... More Ovaltine, please!"


Anonymous said...

Well, my friend, I have a project for you: Petition the US to join the rest of the brainy world and USE THE METRIC SYSTEM. 10 centimetres=1 decimetre. 10 decimeters=1 metre. 10 metres=1 decametre. I'm assuming that 100 decametres=1 kilometre but kilo means 1000, right? I've never paid much attention after that.

Jude would say PLEASE, let's trade Ontario for Maine. Take Toronto!!

You could also move to New Zealand because I know for a fact that they don't have pennies there. Everything just has to end with 10 cents. I think they don't have nickles either.

I miss MacGyver. Also, I learned from my productive Alias-watching session yesterday that Iodine and something else in my first aid kit-- ispropyl alcohol??-- makes an unstable compound. Or, was it ammonia? Crap. Now I'll never be able to foil kidnappers from the comfort of my bathroom.

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