2013.02 minutiae

  • Last month I wondered why servers at restaurants tend to disappear immediately after dropping off the check.  A reader pointed out that this isn't a problem for those who pay cash.  I'm reluctant to make a practice of that, though, for a couple of reasons.  First, it would require me to carry significant amounts of cash around.  Second and more importantly, I'm neurotic enough that I assume that if I leave a pile of cash on a table and walk out, someone will steal that cash and the servers will think I stiffed them.  Yes, consciously I know that the odds of this are extremely low (though I did once see a young boy start to swipe a tip off a table before being caught by his parents).  But unconsciously, yeah, I assume that any cash left on a restaurant table will go into a thief's pocket.

  • I haven't had a television for about eight years.  And my last set was one I picked up in 1993 and which picked up signals with those rabbit ears that the columnists I mentioned last month dismiss as skeuomorphic.  Yes, I know that most TVs are flat-screens now, and that signals switched from analog to digital a while back, but it never occurred to me that the experience of watching television could really change all that much.  Apparently I was wrong.  See, when I lived with Jennifer, her TV had cable, so I knew that there was a cable channel that displayed the current TV listings.  And Elizabeth had shown me that you could now actually select programs from that channel using a remote.  But I was stunned to learn that there are people, such as my 18-year-old pal Zoe the Squirrel, who have never channel-surfed.  Zoe has always pulled up shows through the TV listing screen.  She says that the idea of flipping to a channel not knowing what might be on it is bizarre to her, as if you were walking down a city street and the storefronts were all just blank walls with numbered doors, and you actually had to poke your head into each one in order to discover whether it was a toy store or a restaurant or what have you.  What a thing!  Next she's gonna tell me that she's never seen a station play "The Star-Spangled Banner" before signing off for the night.

  • What song do I get stuck in my head most often?  Could be this one.  I think I was probably around six when I first heard it, and I only heard it once or twice, but my brain has blasted it back at me on a regular basis over the course of the past thirty-odd years.  And I know all this already sob

  • The Baltimore Sun, in listing some of the day's top stories, provides a lesson in why semicolons are important: a look at potential Pope candidates, prepping for the Westminster dog show

  • The Girl Scout who came to my door this year had an interesting method of making change.  I had bought a box for four bucks and paid with a twenty, so I had sixteen dollars coming to me.  The Girl Scout grabbed a manila envelope out of the big box of cookies, opened it up, and pulled out a big wad of bills.  These she then flung onto my patio, sprinkling them around a bit so she could see the different denominations more clearly.  Then she threw herself down onto her hands and knees, snatched up three fives and a one and put them in her left hand, then gathered up the rest of the bills with her right hand and hopped back to her feet, smiling brightly as she handed over my money.  She then sprinted down my front walk with a couple hundred dollars balled up in her fist, stuffed that money back into the manila envelope, put the envelope in the box, and went on her way. TOTES ADORBS

  • A few years ago I found that sometimes in the shower I forgot whether I had washed my hair already.  This month I set a new standard: I started up the shower, got in, reached for the washcloth, and discovered that it was already wet.  It occurred to me that I might well have already taken a shower an hour earlier.  But I honestly couldn't remember whether or not I had.  Eep.

  • I dreamed that it was less than a year after the end of the Civil War, and I was eating in a restaurant either in or just outside D.C. — the atmosphere was tense, because Northerners and Southerners had been shooting at each other not long before, and now they had to relearn how to eat together.  From a nearby table, I heard someone ask a waitress, "Is the tuna dolphin-safe?"

  • Caroline Kim of Yahoo Finance writes about rich Americans renouncing their citizenship: Asia seems to be the popular country of choice

  • Lizzie got me a juicer for my birthday.  The cover of the instruction booklet says: For your safety and continued enjoyment of this product, always read the instruction booklet carefully before using.  I know that my memory isn't what it used to be, but do I really have to reread the instructions every time I use this thing?  Well, maybe they're expecting that I'll only use it once every couple of years or so — except, no, inside it says: Be sure to use your Waring Pro® Juice Extractor daily, or as often as you can manage.  As often as I can manage!  Well, I imagine I could manage a bit more if I didn't have to carefully read the instruction booklet every single time.

  • This month Chris Kyle, a sniper who went to Iraq and killed a couple hundred people, was shot dead by a fellow veteran, Eddie Routh.  Routh reportedly suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, and Kyle thought that a good remedy would be to take Routh to a shooting range, where Routh opened fire on him with a semi-automatic.  I bring this up not to make any point about our gun-crazy society, but to talk about comedy theory.  Here is an exchange I had on Twitter:

    icecreamjonsey 4 Feb
    Man, Chris Kyle was just two days younger than me. Well, he was. Now it's four, I believe.

    adamcadre 4 Feb
    @icecreamjonsey Two days younger than me: Steve Nash

    icecreamjonsey 4 Feb
    @adamcadre I heard he lost the all-time free throw lead tonight! I guess neither of these guys will be making many shots in 2013

    I was struck by how this line becomes brilliant due to the context.  I mean, my response was the most tangential of tangents.  I happened to know that Steve Nash was two days younger than I am — I believe he's the celebrity closest to me in age — and when I saw the "two days younger" bit in Robb's tweet I just dropped some irrelevant personal trivia (because, y'know, it's Twitter).  For Robb to take that utterly random second prompt and instantly find a hilarious connection to the initial prompt… I mean, that's funny in a way that scripted comedy really can't ever be.

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