Categories
Short Subjects Silliness

Those Damned Kids on the Copy Side

In the waning days of the last century, I worked a copy shop called Kinko’s. It was right in the sweet spot of my “adult” youth, what is now referred to as “your twenties,” but back then we called it the “swahballa years.” (Look it up.) Anyway, not the point.

What I am thinking about tonight is the amount of pranks we used to pull on fellow computer services coworkers. Since I am a particularly cruel man, I enjoyed setting these up. One of the finest was, at first, subtle. We worked on a computer that made it very easy to customize system beeps, when the computer played a short noise to notify you of something. Yes, well, I recorded the sound of the phone ringing in our department. So when the computer wanted your attention, it would play that ring, and for a couple of days, it had almost everyone in the office laughing when they fell for it, hearing the computer ring, but no one was actually calling.

Yes, until, on an overnight shift, my pal and yours, John Dervin, was working on a customer’s QuarkXPress file. So what you don’t know about Quark is what the heck it is. It’s a computer program where one can create documents to print. These documents were often flyers or business cards or something else a customer wanted to print out using our printers and copiers at Kinko’s. What you also don’t know is, when you added artwork to Quark, it didn’t move the artwork into the document—it created links to the artwork. This meant if you had two dozen different pieces of artwork in your document, there would be two dozen links to the individual files. There was a reason for this, but it’s all obsolete now, so just know, when you brought your Quark file to Kinko’s, you also had to bring all your images and artwork as separate files along with you, but now they were on a differently-named removable medium, which meant that the Kinko’s employee had to update all these links. Know, too, that the computer would beep every single time you updated one of these links. In a file with two dozen links, the computer would beep two dozen times.

Remember, please, that I replaced the default computer beep with something that sounded like the office telephone ringing. So poor John Dervin, on his overnight shift, opening a customer’s Quark document with two dozen links, would hear the telephone ring two dozen times. John, and this is true, picked up the phone almost two dozen times. Of course, by the third time or so, he became suspicious, but not of the computer. Instead, he was livid at the thought of the kids working the overnight shift in the copy side of Kinko’s, pranking him by calling and hanging up. Sometimes, he let the “phone” ring twice before answering again, but, alas, no one was on the phone, because the phone was never actually ringing.

I am a cruel man, as I said earlier, so this story brings me nothing but delight. John cursed me out the next morning when he learned what was happening, but the ring stayed on as the system beep for some time afterwards, because we were all gluttons for punishment—I’d forget too—and it was funny when someone who knew better answered the non-ringing phone anyway. Is there a lesson here? Yes—do not trust me. Also, have fun before you cannot. And if you have fun early enough in life, time and memory make the good times even gooder. John Dervin, cheers, mate, where ever you are.

Categories
Rant Silliness

I answer questions

Facebook has a recently-added question area. Normally, I avoid answering the questions because many seem–well–they seem sketchy. Complete strangers asking each other about God’s existence and whether or not women who dress provocatively deserve harassment seems designed to just get on people’s nerves. But the pedagogue in me sometimes can’t resist. (And the feminist in me couldn’t resist answering the latter question with: Fuck men who think they can ever harass women.)

One question popped up which lead me to this little rant. I figure my long-suffering readers shouldn’t miss out on yet more of my brilliance, just because they’re not going to read my scintillating answers on Facebook. So, I’m republishing my answer here.

The question was: Why are unhealthy foods so tasty?

My answer follows: Because big companies spend lots of money on research to make it that way.

Which big companies? Well, your McDonalds and Kraft Foods, sure, but also companies like Archer Daniels Midland and Monsanto–companies that are supposed to be in the agriculture business, but instead spend tremendous amounts of money making sure that their main products (corn and soybeans) can be used to replace any other foodstuff.

Let’s face it. Most of the foods we eat don’t resemble anything that came from an animal or grew in the ground. To do that in an efficient, mass-production way, we need cheap, readily available ingredients. So maybe corn isn’t what you expect in ice cream, or maybe you thought you had to order a soy-burger to actually get soy in your burger. Well, it’s in the beef one, too.

They’ve taken corn and soy and seaweed and sometimes just plain chemicals and combined them, reduced them, steamed them, whatever, to approximate what is missing from mass-produced foods.

In doing so, they’ve distilled the flavors to the point where (and this is true) McDonalds adds a French-fry flavor to it’s French fries. McDonalds will say it is for consistency, but a side-benefit is that it makes food we all like to eat taste MORE like the foods we like to eat. Therefore, there is no incentive for food production companies to add better ingredients, just more flavorings of the food we like to cheaper and cheaper ingredients.

So here’s something for all of us. We can totally train our taste buds. We can eat things with less sugar and less salt and actually enjoy it. I’m not telling anyone to eat organic or stop using butter–if you saw me in person, you’d know I’m a person who enjoys more than my share of butter. What I am saying is that we can eat healthier as soon as we stop to taste things. Fat isn’t a problem; sugar isn’t a problem; salt isn’t a problem–in moderation. But companies selling us prepared foods don’t have time to hit us with subtleties. They fire fat-sugar-salt! all at once and hit all our pleasure centers.