*Campers* like to say ‘hello’ when they *smell* the Orz. We have learned this. It is *no function* but Orz want to make *campers* happy everyday. Okay… Hello!! Now you are happy I am sure.
Sorry, I was looking at the Orz dialogue from Star Control II recently and I was wowed all over again. The goofiness quotient of the “lingual best‐fits” is sometimes a bit high for my taste, but other than that, the phrasings are just brilliantly off‐kilter. “Too many fun is not enough!! Do you agree? I think you *smell* like you do.” The Orz have an appropriate quote for every occasion. A stroke of good fortune? “Jumping *peppers*!! This is *smiley* time!” Overcome with futile anger? “Again I am *squeezing* the *juice*. Nnnggaaaahhh!! It does not even helping.” Offering encouragement to someone who is hesitant about something? “If you want to, then you do. It is best, I know it.” A student who came in late asks you to repeat the entire hour that she missed? “I am already telling the everything story. It is too much.” Trying to figure out what’s wrong with Trump? “Too much crazy perhaps.”
Anyway, there haven’t been too many of these minutiae articles lately. Some of the reason has just been a lack of time, but some of it has been that weeks have gone by and nothing has happened that I thought important enough to include. But recently it occurred to me: they’re called “minutiae” for a reason. Originally, lack of importance was the primary criterion for inclusion. So this month I decided to be less picky and throw in all kinds of crap. Let’s see how it goes!
some time ago—maybe as far back as when I lived in
Massachusetts!—I got the messenger bag over on the right
It was great!
Not only did I like the looks of it, but it had all sorts of different
pockets: big and small, padded and unpadded, easily accessible and
It even had a pocket expressly designed for my type of
flip‐phone—good luck finding a bag with that feature
I would have kept that bag forever, but after a decade‐plus the
plastic piping around the outside of the front flap had broken and was
sticking out in various directions, which didn’t look super
I went to a bunch of stores looking for a replacement but couldn’t
find anything acceptable.
So I poked around online and read a bunch of reviews and eventually
ordered this bag here:
Now, as I have mentioned a few times over the years, I have a mild case of obsessive‐compulsive disorder, which kicked into overdrive as soon as this bag arrived. The bag was wrong. Handles in the wrong place, pockets in the wrong place, velcro and zippers I didn’t want… I probably should have just returned it, but I, uh, didn’t do that. I took it apart, ripping through stitches with an X‐Acto knife, and sewed it back together in a configuration more to my liking. What made this a particularly dubious move is that there was a lot of precise decorative stitching that I had to redo when I put the bag back together. But I actually found that getting all those stitches exactly right was very absorbing and satisfied my OCD impulses nicely.
- I also found myself having this mental conversation:
“I know that a needle has to be narrow to get through the fabric, but the eye end is almost as sharp as the pointy end! Pressing on it with the nearest piece of plastic generally does the job, but there should be some sort of device specifically for pressing on sewing needles without hurting your fingers! That would be really handy! I should look into this!”
“…A thimble. The thing you’re describing is a thimble.”
- Unfortunately, my OCD does not extend to keeping my apartment
I do give the kitchen and bathroom a regular scrubbing, but books and
papers and boxes and things do tend to pile up until actually
getting to the kitchen or bathroom becomes a bit of an
I also keep it pretty dark so I trip over things a lot.
Earlier this month I was returning from the bathroom when I felt that
I was about to bang my foot into a barbell I hadn’t put away, so
instinctively I did a weird little half‐skip sort of maneuver and
managed to get away without any bruises.
A couple of minutes later I was congratulating myself on my catlike
agility when glanced down and discovered that my toe was just gushing
- The clutter in my apartment extends to my computer equipment,
especially now that I have a 34‐inch
ultra‐wide monitor to juggle with the rest of the stuff.
I thought that getting one of those telescoping arms might be the way
to free up some space, so I looked into them.
It turns out they come in two varieties: one for monitors
18 pounds and under, and another for
monitors 20 pounds and up.
Naturally, my monitor weighs 19 pounds.
- Unsurprisingly, I have been using my new monitor to watch the new
season of Masterchef
It’s weird to reach the end of an episode and not be able to fire
up the next one.
In a pinch, I’ve watched a few episodes of the new season of
Masterchef Canada, but it’s so much worse: the
production values are cheesy, the contestants are orders of magnitude
less genuine, and the cooking is of a much lower standard.
C’mon, Canada, step it up.
(Maybe just put Mary in charge.
Mary is best, I know it.)
- The season nine Masterchef Australia contestant whose
food looked most to my taste, starting with an extremely appetizing bowl
of gnocchi, seemed to be named “Peer”, which struck me as
odd—like Peer Gynt? or Peer from Permutation City?—and it
wasn’t until a later episode, when I finally saw her name printed
on the screen, that I realized that I had been unconsciously overcorrecting
for the Australian accent.
The name “heh‐thuh” may actually be Heather, and
“pee‐duh” may actually be Peter, but
“pee‐uh” turns out to be Pia.
- A lot of the contestants of Italian ancestry on Masterchef
Australia have these very narrow, horsey mouths with protruding
But I’ve never noticed any such trait being common among
Italian‐Americans or actual Italians.
Do half of Italian‐Australians trace their ancestry back to one
particular village or something?
- Sadly, Pia was eliminated quickly, so no more rustic Italian dishes
for me to ogle.
I didn’t really have any particular favorites in the early episodes,
but as time has gone on, I’ve found that whom I pull for tends to be
influenced more by who I feel merits the win rather than whom I merely
Michelle was one of my early favorites because her audition dessert (the
golden ball) looked awesome, but after her incompetence with savory food
torpedoed the blue team in the relay challenge, I’m ready for her
to go home early.
Right now I’d like to see Eloise or Tamara win, partly because
they’re personally appealing but mainly because they seem the most
deserving at the moment.
The one exception: Nicole doesn’t seem like one of the stronger
remaining cooks, but I’d like to see her stick around just because
her hair gets more glorious with each passing episode.
- Diana was the first contestant I heard get tagged with the
-zz- nickname: they called her “Dizzy”!
For one episode.
After that it became “Diazzy”, which sounds worse.
I guess she objected to the implications of the original.
- It seems like when grasping for a name to represent the most important
person in the world, someone it would be the greatest honor to cook for,
these Australian contestants keep coming up with Barack Obama.
I seem to recall that in season three Ellie said that he was the only one
she could think of who would outrank the Dalai Lama, and in this season
Sam said of a chef who had cooked for Obama that “it doesn’t
get any bigger than that”.
Somehow I doubt they will be saying the same about cooking for Donald
(For one thing, they’d have to make well‐done steaks with
- When I first compiled a list of Australian desserts to try making
I was apprehensive about the pavlova—they looked
complicated!—but with strawberries in season I figured
that it was time to give it a go.
I have never been able to get egg whites to form stiff peaks, so I
thought I was due for a disaster, but my pavlova turned out much better
than I expected:
…but I still didn’t like it. I generally don’t like meringue. Pavlovas contain two textures of meringue, and while I did like the marshmallowy inner meringue, the more rice‐cakey variety on the outside was not to my taste. Making a meringue‐based dessert in the first place may seem in retrospect to have been kind of silly, but c’mon—after watching all those pavlovas on the show I had to try one.
- Last month I made a bunch of apple pies, and if “as Australian
as apple pie” seems to lack a certain ring to it, rest assured that
I did make them with 100% Australian
- Kitchen mistake of the month: refilling my pepper grinder with lentils
- While I’ve been cooking, it’s been nice to have something
on in the background, especially now that I have a monitor big enough to
watch from the kitchen.
Lately I’ve been watching Late Night with David
Letterman, which I first caught a few episodes of in
1987 or ’88 but
didn’t start watching regularly until the
A lot of his early stuff was therefore new to me.
For instance, I’d never heard of the “Little Susie”
sketches, which are not necessarily the funniest things in the world,
but I have to applaud the concept.
I don’t want to spoil it, so if you have a few minutes, check out
- I’ve also been watching Better Call Saul.
Here’s part of a still from a recent episode:
See the guy on the right? I have that shirt! I picked it up on Ebay last summer.
- It can be hard to tell a vintage shirt from one that is merely retro
just by looking at a picture, but it’s obvious when a shirt is
actually from the ’70s as soon as I get a
chance to feel the fabric.
It’s interesting how different decades not only have different
color palettes and soundtracks but tactile sensations as well.
- This month in memory deterioration: I needed to buy some new clothes
hangers and some laundry detergent, so a trip to Target seemed to be in
I didn’t make a shopping list because I thought I could remember
Turns out, not so much!
I got to the store and found myself racking my brain: so I need detergent
and… what else was it?
I swear, I know there were two things and I’m not leaving the store
until I think of the second one.
Then, blessed relief: I remember now!
So I bought my detergent and my light bulbs and came home, and after
installing the light bulbs, I went to do a load of laundry with my newly
purchased detergent when I remembered—argh, I can’t do
this after all because I don’t have enough hangers!
I was really kicking myself, but then I realized—if I
hadn’t forgotten the hangers, then I wouldn’t have scoured
my memory trying to come up with that second item, and therefore
wouldn’t have bought the light bulbs.
And I actually needed the light bulbs more!
- As it turned out, Target didn’t have the hangers I
The last time I had bought hangers, years earlier, I discovered that in
addition to the regular kind there was a new variety with notches along
the top sides, to catch your shirt if it started to slide off.
I got a pack of those, but it turned out that I hated them: I could no
longer just pull shirts off the hangers because they’d get snagged
on those notches.
It’s not like shirts were constantly falling off the regular
hangers—the notches created a real problem while
“solving” a non‐existent one.
So this time around I deliberately set out to get regular
hangers… only to discover that apparently they are no longer sold
Every single store I tried only had (a) notched hangers and
(b) even newer varieties with “non‐slip strips”
along the top sides.
I had to go online and special order a
60‐pack to get the regular
20¢ plastic hangers I wanted.
- But when it comes to doing away with perfectly functional stuff, it’s hard to beat Google. First they made Stochastic Planet harder to update by removing the “see where the nearest pictures are” layer from Google Maps, and this month they disabled the ability to create opening menus on Youtube videos, so you can no longer click to the segment you want on Radio K starting with episode #9. Between this sort of thing and the atavism of “flat design”, it’s hard to escape the feeling that a typical staff meeting in the tech industry these days looks like this: