March 2007 minutiae

  • Clinton brings out not-so-secret weapon. He used to whip it out, but he's getting old.

  • The father of an Ohio college baseball player who died Friday in a Georgia bus crash said Sunday his son "died doing what he loved." Hurtling into asphalt?

  • Message on an automated phone system: "To end this call, please hang up."

  • I think I win the Dilbon award for this month: I cut my hand on bread. Not "I cut my hand while slicing bread," but "I gashed my hand open on the side of a baguette." The baguette was resting against the passenger seat of my car, I shifted into fifth, my hand rubbed against the bread, I felt pain, I looked down, and I saw that I was bleeding.

  • I saw a picture of Ernest Lawrence, winner of the 1939 Nobel Prize in physics. His glasses had no rims! I thought that was a recent invention!

  • It's kind of alarming when you look in the sink and discover that the day before you had spilled a piece of pasta and it has since soaked up so much water that it has swelled to ten times its original size. It's like something out of a 1950s monster movie, only made out of durum semolina.

  • On the radio I heard a basketball announcer marvel at a team's rebounding prowess: "They're just explosive on the misses!" It took me a minute to process that correctly, as my brain wanted to render it as "explosive on the Mrs." (Which is a good way to get Michael Corleone really steamed.)

  • Every year on the MUD there is an NCAA Tournament contest. It's not a pool, since there's no money involved, and since I don't gamble, I wouldn't participate if there were. But since there isn't, every year I enter and submit a bracket; my formula for picking winners is to select the teams I least want to win. This serves two purposes. One is to try to win the contest: as a pessimist, I actually do expect that all my favorites will lose early. The other is to flatten out any rooting interest I might have in each game by giving me an incentive to be pleased with either outcome.

    On the opposite end of the spectrum from flatteners are amplifiers, people who select (or even bet real money on) the teams they actually favor. I have heard some of these people say it "adds juice" to a game when seeing your team win also earns you money. I can't imagine that the pleasure of winning (plus "juice") is worth risking the pain of losing (plus "juice"), but I can accept that there are people out there like this. What boggles my mind is that there aren't just a few people like this — it's not even 50/50 — everyone other than me seems to be like this! Picking teams from their home state, picking schools their friends went to, etc. I've never seen anyone besides myself claim to fill out the bracket as a sort of insurance policy, or make an insurance bet on any game, even though to me my approach is obviously best. I feel as though I'm at a restaurant where everyone else is ordering the caribou and I'm the only one ordering cake.

  • I went to the Naan N Curry on Telegraph and placed my order, then tried to find a place to sit. There were no tables available! At one point it looked like some people were getting up, so I waited patiently nearby for them to go... and then just as I was about to settle in, some dude who had just walked in tossed his backpack down to claim the table. I finally got a different table across the way. Then an androgynous stranger sat across from me. I didn't think it was very polite to just plunk oneself down without asking permission, but whatever. My meal arrived and I started eating. Then the waiter returned with the stranger's meal. "Naan?" he asked. The stranger nodded, but when the waiter put down the enormous round of bread, s/he looked absolutely appalled. S/he very tentatively tore off a tiny piece, then pushed the naan away and asked whether I wanted it. I was already full, so I declined. But it looked perfectly tasty to me!

  • On the way to work a couple of people going to the same meeting saw me as we pulled into the Dumbarton toll booth. They waved at me. I waved back. Then they plowed into the truck in front of them.

  • I had a dream that Matthew Amster-Burton and I were in a band with Peter Buck and Dave Grohl. However, our skills had not improved commensurate with those of our bandmates, and mine had in fact regressed (if such a thing is even possible). At one point we were rehearsing and Peter Buck said, "Okay, let's do 'Ministral,'" which was apparently one of our songs. I did the drums on that one, so I grabbed my drumsticks and sat down. "1 2 3 4," Peter Buck said, and we all started in — except the other three started playing "So. Central Rain" for some reason. I stopped and pointed out that they were playing the wrong song. Peter Buck replied, "Yeah, but at least we're not drumming on a piano." (I had been hoping they wouldn't notice that.)

  • AP: The post office governing board agreed Monday to accept the new 41-cent rate for first class mail recommended in February by the independent Postal Regulatory Commission. 41? So after 3½ years at 37 cents, and a little under 1½ years at 39 cents, they go to 41? Would it have killed them to just go to 40 cents five years ago and kept it there for the rest of the decade?

  • Also, AP: The board also agreed to the proposal for a forever stamp, that will always be valid for mailing a letter no matter how much rates increase. In a word, bullshit. They must be joking if they expect me to believe that in a few years they won't turn around and declare that, "Oh, in addition to this latest rate hike, 'forever' stamps printed before 2013 will no longer be valid as of January 1st."

  • Vanished teen died in high-voltage room. This is terrible, but I can't but think that that sounds like something out of an old AGT game.

    Oh no! You walked into a high-voltage room! You died!

  • Ethanol 'the answer,' auto execs tell Bush. Though from what I read in the tabloids, Bush already decided that ethanol was the answer a couple of years ago.

  • Note to all basketball announcers: never say "take a blow" ever again.

  • It appears that the 365 Organic fresh-pressed grape juice I recommended a while back has been discontinued, just like the After the Fall Special Harvest before it. WHY WHY WHY

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