August 2007 minutiae

  • Bars of soap should have a sponge core so that you're never left with those useless slivers.

  • On a BART train heading from Bay Fair to Richmond:

    Some guy: Hey, do you know the system?
    Me: Sure.
    Him: Where do I transfer to get to Concord?
    Me: Either at 12th or at Macarthur. Get on a Pittsburg/Bay Point train.
    Him: Where do I transfer again?
    Me: 12th or Macarthur.
    Him: Which one?
    Me: Either. [wanting him to get off sooner] Try 12th.
    Him: Okay.
    [long pause]
    Him: Are you sure that's where I transfer to get to Concord?
    Me: I'm sure.
    Him: Okay.
    [long pause]
    Him: I think I'm going to ask someone else.

    At this point he gets up and wanders to the other end of the car. When next I see him, he is exiting the train at Lake Merritt. There is no train from Lake Merritt to Concord.

  • John C. Dvorak: For the dot-com bubble, it was e-commerce — it really should have been called the e-commerce bubble. Everything was focused on how the Internet was going to destroy all existing brick-and-mortar operations. [...] Every article in every newspaper in the country parroted the litany as to how you'd be out of business in a year or two if you were not present on the Web in a big way. Of course, this was all crap. It was? And here I was just about to write a blurb about how both Cody's on Telegraph and Barnes & Noble on Shattuck had closed down due to competition from Amazon, and about how I very seldom go to restaurants anymore if they don't have their menus up on a web site for me to carefully peruse in advance, and about how the modern world is a wonderful place because all the things that used to be so hard to find, like those enormous triangular Fender guitar picks and black vegan sneakers in size 10½EE, are now mine with the push of a button. But I guess I don't have to write that blurb now because John C. Dvorak has declared it to be all crap.

  • Molesting coach told to 'rot in hell'. "Molesting coach"? Brings a whole new meaning to the phrase "running laps."

  • I hate phones, but I recently bought a tiny omnidirectional microphone to use with Skype. It's powerful enough that I can just talk normally standing anywhere in my apartment and whoever I'm talking to can hear me fine. I find that for some reason this makes me much less reluctant to make calls! Maybe there's something about holding and/or speaking directly into a device that triggers my phone aversion.

  • It's interesting how wired the human brain is for edge recognition. Recently I was looking up at my popcorn ceiling and it looked like it was crisscrossed with lines, even though really all I was seeing was the chaotic static of tiny shadows.

  • It's also interesting how the brain edits out things it doesn't care about. Like, I usually don't find myself thinking, "Wow, our cities are dominated by mattress stores!", but a couple of years ago when I was shopping for a mattress, I discovered that there seemed to be one in every shopping center. Similarly, I just registered the fact that there is a McDonald's a block from my apartment. I've passed it almost every day for the past two years but I just didn't notice it was there.

  • I kept the Ratmobile around even after I got my new car last year because I figured it couldn't hurt to have backup transportation. However, I never needed it, the battery died, and it just took up space at the front of the driveway. So finally I donated it to the Animal Rescue Foundation. It was very weird to start parking the new car all the way up at the front of the driveway.

    The day after I donated the Ratmobile, my big basil plant fell off my balcony and crashed to the ground in the exact spot where I used to park the new car! So donating the car probably saved me $1000 for a new windshield.

  • At the laundromat I was startled to hear a song by the Dollyrots on the TV — the annoying one that I didn't rip to my hard drive after I bought the new album. It was on a commercial for Kohl's, which appears to be some sort of department store. This is not the first time that the music I listen to, so obscure that it doesn't get played on the radio, has nonetheless popped up in an ad. Now, this is understandable: when someone says "I'll give you a check for $25,000 if you let this song play for a few seconds as we put up our logo," it's going to be hard for a band that tours in a twenty-year-old van to resist. But in this commercial, the Dollyrots are integral to the plot! Some rich suburban kids are watching a Dollyrots video on TV, form a Dollyrots cover band, immediately start playing large venues, and there in the audience is Dollyrots singer Kelly Ogden going into ecstasies over the sight of some models playing a cover version of her worst song while wearing outfits from the 90s ABC Friday night sitcom lineup. Wow. I mean, every band has to sell out to a certain degree, but this is taking it to Krusty the Klown levels.

  • I went to the Tactile Dome at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. I had imagined a large dark dome where you wandered around touching things and trying to identify them. Instead you crawl on your belly through narrow, twisting passageways in utter blackness, often unsure how to proceed and unable to stand up or turn around. It should have been called the Birth Trauma Re-Enactment Dome.

  • I went to Tacubaya and saw that the menu had a new vegetarian item on it: quesadillas de verdolagas. I ordered it. It was pretty good. Then I went home and looked up what "verdolagas" translates to in English. Answer: PIGWEED.

  • When you check into the Claremont Resort & Spa, you receive a pamphlet to welcome you. It begins: In the 19th century, it was but a fantasy in a young prospector's mind. Later, it became a castle for he and his wife. I must say, the way this grammatical error has been spreading lately is a great frustration to I. I would write a letter to the people who wrote this, but I do not know how to reach they.

  • I had a conversation with a ten-year-old recently. I knew he was ten, but I was still startled when I mentioned 1997 and he chimed in, "I was born in 1997!"

  • Seen on In addition, there is a creek behind the building with running water that may not be particularly safe for children. Our manager, Les, has been there for many years. I'm sure you can write your own joke here.

  • I find it interesting that after posting page three of the Evil Creatures prologue I received a number of comments from Americans and Canadians saying, "Ha! I love the digital projector effect!" and a number of comments from Britons saying, "Hey, I think you posted that panel without realizing that Claire has a map on her face."

  • I have encountered a new species of hell. A lecture class with 220 people in it... and one guy who makes the professor explain all his jokes.

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