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Kurt Vonnegut: 1922 – 2007

Excerpt from Breakfast of Champions, 1973:

Trout accepted the invitation after all. Two days before the Festival was to begin, he delivered Bill into the care of his landlady upstairs, and he hitchhiked to New York City—with five hundred dollars pinned to the inside of his underpants. The rest of the money he had put in a bank. He went to New York first—because he hoped to find some of his books in pornography stores there. He had no copies at home. He despised them, but now he wanted to read out loud from them in Midland City—as a demonstration of a tragedy which was ludicrous as well. He planned to tell people out there what he hoped to have in the way of a tombstone. This was it: SOMEBODY (Sometime to Sometime) He Tried More excerpts and memorials: Jonathan Schwartz at This Modern World Tom Tomorrow at This Modern World Atrios at Eschaton John Gruber at Daring Fireball Skatje at Lacrimae Rerum PZ Myers at Pharyngula poputonian at Hullaballo

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So I thought about getting my hair cut…

Jonathan on Saturday March 10, 2007 after just getting his hair cut. It was long overdue. And from working in the vegetarian kitchen, where much of my day is spent standing over a huge pot of steaming onions, my hair stinks. Now that 4/5th of it is gone, I hope to have shampoo-smelling hair in a day or two.

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Hershey's Heath Cookies

Last night, I tried Hershey’s “Heath Milk Chocolate Layered Cookies.” These are square-shaped sandwich cookies, with a toffee flavored filling. And they’re not good. The first thing that I noticed was the strong buttery scent upon opening the package. It was so strong that it reminded me of margarine, which smells like a parody of butter. But when I tasted it, the scent and flavor mingled into butter cream, super sweet butter cream. Now, I like toffee. It’s not necessarily on my list of favorite flavors, but I do like it. When it is done right it has a butterscotch subtlety–a long, mellow flavor that lingers after it’s consumed. The cookie, on the other hand, tasted like a wedding cake dipped in granulated sugar. It was too sweet. I had just finished a Starbucks Mocha Frappachino, too, so my palate was already desensitized to sweetness. Nothing should be that sugary, with the exception of eating a quarter-cup of plain sugar crystals. The filling has a crunchiness to it, which I assume is meant to imply little toffee flakes, but, instead, it just reinforces the sugariness, as if the cream is so filled with sugar, some it didn’t dissolve. The selling point behind these cookies is that they are made with real milk chocolate; a counterpoint, one presumes, against Nabisco Oreos and their dark chocolate wafers, which apparently the American consumer has been loathing for over 100 years. The problem with Hershey’s solution, though, is that I couldn’t taste the cookie. My taste buds were burnt out from the super sweetness, so that the wafer could have tasted like dry cardboard, and I could not appreciate the fine quality of the milk chocolate that they bake into every cookie. There were two other flavors of these cookies on the shelves. One was a vanilla cream filling, and the other was peanut butter. I doubt I will be trying either one of them.

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Hole in my head

Once, several years ago, I punched a hole in my head while working on my piece-of-crap car. I don’t remember if it was the car that leaked transmission fluid, or the one that leaked oil from the faulty head gasket, or if it was the one that needed daily transfusions of coolant. In fact, that may have been a single piece-of-crap car. Time, and a good smack to my head, have mushed many memories together.

In any case, while working on this particular car, I punched a hole into my forehead on the latch that hung down about two inches from the roof of the hood. It hurt like hell. For a second, I didn’t even realize what I did. I went to look at something in the engine block, ducking my head under the hood, thinking I had inches of clearance. I mean, I wailed my head into this thing. It dazed me.

I was out in front of my friends house, and I remember staggering in the doorway. His family was gathered around the kitchen table, and they all looked at me as I held my hand to my head and giggled weakly. I laughed as soon as I realized what I did, looking at the hook that gouged me in my car. I couldn’t believe that I hit it; I just didn’t expect there. So I was still laughing when I walked into my friends kitchen, all ashen and dizzy. The hook left a perfect tiny circle in my forehead, right below the hairline, perfectly in the center of my head. The wound lasted for days.

Good times.

I often laugh when I smack my head into something. It’s funny, after all. If someone saw me do it, hearing the clunk of my big fat head cracking into a corner or hanging lamp, he’d laugh, too. Just because I don’t get to observe it doesn’t mean it’s not funny.

A couple of weeks ago, I cracked my head into the top of a doorway, walking down a low set of stairs into somebody’s basement. Actually, I thought I had cleared that, too, but there was a staple halfway stapled into the lintel. Maybe it was sticking out about 2 millimeters. I thought I just wailed my head into the doorway and that was that, until about 15 minutes later, my friend says, “Your head is bleeding!”

I got a good chuckle out of that one, too, along with a scab that my fiancée thought was a pimple, but instead was another hole in my head.

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Dialogs

Previously, my favorite dialog box warning was a blank box with a single button saying “OK.” But then I read about an even better one:

Word cannot edit the Unknown.

This is pure bliss for me. I’ve written it down and recite it as a mantra while I ponder the universe. Even the powerful Microsoft Word cannot edit the Unknown. Who among us can edit the Unknown? Verily, I say no mortal can. It is humbling and empowering all at once.

And just a little funny.

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Speling Errers

I am SO much better at spelling than I used to be. When I was in high school, my spelling was atrocious. Word processing, contrary to common wisdom, actually helped my spelling, because I got tired of the spell check flagging the same words over and over again. But homonyms still get me. Especially when I’m typing quickly. Break and brake are constant thorns in my side. I use brake quite a bit, because I typeset quite a few labels for automotive accessories. But almost instinctually, I’ll type the word break, instead. I did the opposite in a poem once, though, spelling it braking when I meant breaking. It colored the poem in an entirely different way. I’m especially bad with it’s and its and your and you’re. Most people would assume that I default to its and your, but most people would be wrong. I like apostrophes, so I tend to always use it’s and you’re when it makes no sense at all to use the contraction. Again, it’s typing quickly that gets me. Plus, I have a sincere aversion to double-checking my writing until AFTER I publish it or send in that proof. I’m not sure why. But spell checkers, and also the half-assed grammar checkers, can’t beat double- and triple-checking my typing. I almost always see the mistake a day later, when I re-read it. I’ve gotten to the point where spell checkers don’t really give me any assistance. I hardly use them anymore, because the mistakes I make are beyond their programming. However, it still pays to run a spell check once in a while. Today, I found out that I’ve been spelling squeak incorrectly, for years. Squeek! It just seems right to me with the two Es. Who decided that an onomatopoetic word should conform to some loose rule of English vowel coupling? I know ea can sound like “eeeeeeeeee!” in words like leak and creak, but ee works just as well in leek and creek. Damned homophones. Squeek apparently is very unacceptable, even though it appears in roughly half-a-million web pages. Still, Google helpfully wonders if I meant to search for squeak. How nice.

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Palms down

I was going to go on a tear about International Delight coffee creamers, because they have palm oil in them. Comparing this to Nestlés Coffee-Mate creamers, which have soybean and cottonseed oil, I thought it was clear which one to buy. Of course, non-dairy creamers are bad shit to begin with, but if you’re going to use them anyway, you might as well use the one that will kill you the slowest. So the one with palm oil was surely the worst of the worst. Because I know how bad palm oil is. Doesn’t everybody? Hmmm… let me check up on that before I post how bad it is. Huh. It’s not that bad. In fact, it’s better than partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, because all partially hydrogenated oils have trans fats. Those are the things that make butter healthier than margarine. Can you imagine that? Butter better for you than anything else? So, palm oil, because it is so high in saturated fats (sounds bad) doesn’t need to be hydrogenated (really bad) to stay oily in food products. And palm oil, if it isn’t handled too much, may decrease cholesterol (get outta here!) and is rich in anti-oxidents. Damn. Now, palm kernel oil… that’s still bad.

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ITMFA

Impeach the MFer, Already. Sounds like a good plan to me.

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Best Spam Ever

Verbatim:

Subject: Former President Bill Klinton uses Voagra!

Everybody knows the great sexual scandal known as “Klinton-Levinsky”. After the relations like this Klintons popularity raised a lot! It is a natural phenomenon, because Bill as a real man in order not to shame himself when he was with Monica regularly used Voagra. What happened you see. His political figure became more bright and more attractive. It is very important for a man to be respected as a man!

Categories
Short Subjects Sneaks and Scammers

Monster Target

I posted a resume on Monster.com about a year ago and never got any job offers. I’m not surprised or bitter about this. It’s just a statement of facts. My resume reflects my general knowledge of all aspects of graphic design, and, as such, is targeted towards nothing in particular.

But a couple of weeks ago, I got a call from Primerica. Lo and behold, someone there got my resume from Monster.com and I was a perfect match for their company! That was amazing to me because my sales experience can be summed up by the four months I worked in Sears selling hammers. But the message was funny, because the nice, well-spoken, eager young lad on the phone never once said how I’d be a perfect fit for Primerica. Did they need a new ad campaign or something? Were they entering the printing market and needed a decent paste-up artist?

I knew of Primerica long before this phone call. Before Citigroup purchased them, and gave them a needed veneer of legitimacy, the Primerica guys would come to Kinko’s to get their business cards printed, and they would chat up all of us in the Computer Services department. Just like the Amway guys. And much like the Amway guys, they’d ask us if we’d like to make x-amount of dollars per year, but the Primerica guys always made that figure 10 times greater than the Amway folks.

And the Primerica guys were always slicker, with their suits and nicely shined shoes. And they were always in that 25 to 35 year-old range. And they were always male.

But, unlike the Amway folks who pretended to sell products, the Primerica guys were terrifically vague with what Primerica actually sold. Oh, sure, Primerica was the fast way to financial independence. It was for go-getters like me (and the rest of the wage-slaves working at Kinko’s). It’s based on proven business techniques. Sure it was hard work, but the rewards were multitudinous. It was certainly not illegal or a scam. …oh, multi-level marketers. When will you ever learn?

Anyway, these well-pressed clones all sang the same song, and on my voice-mail the other week, I heard that familiar tune. But this one bothered me a bit more than the slick-suits who were so hard up for contacts that they bothered the slackers working in a copy shop. I mean, this guy was pretending to offer me a job. All he really wanted was for me to return his phone call, so he could sell me on Primerica. Did I mention that Primerica was a subsidiary of the Citigroup? Because he did. Twice.

On that same level of cheese, I get this email today with the subject, "Your Resume" (emphasis mine):

Your resume reflects the type of experience needed to be successful at American Income Life Insurance Company. That’s why I was excited when I received your resume but was disappointed when you did not reply to my e-mail. We currently have an immediate opening in your area and I believe you are the perfect candidate for this position.

Our unique marketing niche enables us to supply our sales force with leads of union members who have indicated an interest in reviewing our products. With American Income, there is virtually no prospecting for leads.

Many new representatives are shocked by how quickly their earnings escalate. Selling insurance is not hard. There are no education degrees necessary, only minimal licensing requirements. You don’t need prior sales experience, just a desire to succeed. In fact, we offer an in-field training program, flexible hours and full support.

Your earning potential is unlimited. Many new representatives earn from $60,000 to $90,000 or more their first year. There’s no more depending on someone else for a raise. You are in control of increasing your earnings.

Please CLICK HERE [link removed] to learn more about this important opportunity. We are eager to speak with you as soon as possible.

Sincerely,

Roger Smith

President And Chief Executive Officer

American Income Life Insurance Company

1200 Wooded Acres Drive

Waco, TX 76710

P.S. You received this E-mail because you responded to our ad or placed your resume on one of the internet job boards. To unsubscribe from future E-mails follow the link below.

We would like to keep you updated on exciting job opportunities at American Income; we will continue to alert you when we have openings at our local offices.

Click here [link removed] to unsubscribe from further communication regarding job opportunities at American Income.

Please allow two to three business days for the removal process of your E-mail address to be complete.

American Income Life Insurance Company

1200 Wooded Acres

Waco TX 76710

This message contains information which is privileged and confidential and is solely for the use of the intended recipient. If you are not the intended recipient, be aware that any review, disclosure, copying, distribution, or use of the contents of this message is strictly prohibited. If you have received this in error, please destroy it immediately and notify us at PrivacyAct@torchmarkcorp.com.

A couple things to note: My name is nowhere on this email, and it has nothing to do with the jobs that I’m interested in–they just harvested the email address I left on Monster.com. But Roger tells me that he was excited to receive my resume, and so was upset when I didn’t email him back, an amusingly blatant lie. Why would I trust a company like this when they can’t even be honest with why they’re contacting me? This supposed insurance company is an MLM, too, because they want to sell me the privilege of selling the company to others. The no-repost notice at the end is a fine bit of irony, too.

I also find it humorous that they tell me that I received their email either because I spoke to them in the past or posted my resume on a job board, a job board where I specified not to be contacted by third-parties, I might add. I don’t blame Monster for this, but it does serve as a lesson to job searchers out there. There are sharks searching for you, too.