The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." " is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32)

Friday, November 27, 2015

Science news you can use

Quantum mechanics are in the news these days and not at all for the usual reason.  They are not going on strike, an announcement that comes as a surprise to anyone who has watched the airline’s troubled labor history and as a relief to anyone planning an antipodean vacation this year.  Odd as it may seem, you will not find the news about quantum mechanics in any of the places you would usually expect to find such news. No indeed. Quantum mechanics, if you can believe it, have made the headlines on the science page of every newspaper that can still afford to have a science page not dedicated to fad diets and miraculous cures for cancer.  Scientists working for an organization whose name is eluding me at the moment have determined that a key proponent of quantum mechanics, that reality does not exist until an independent entity attempts to measure it, is, in fact, true. Now, I am not sure how this can be, to be honest with you. If there is nothing until something tries to measure it, how can the something doing the measuring exist without something else trying to measure it? There’s a bit of a paradox here that brings to mind a universe of frustrated tailors packed into a small room trying to measure each other for a nice three piece suit and an extra pair of pants thrown in for half price (shoes, socks, and belts not included. Order now and avoid the Christmas rush!)  But who am I to argue with scientists?  No one.  A man who still has trouble doing long division is not a man who can argue with quantum mechanics, although I can tell when they’re padding the bill whenever I bring in my water cycle for inspection. Despite what you may have heard from certain biased sources—yes, Mom, I mean you—I do know when those guys are gouging me.

Still, the fact that reality does not exist until someone tries to measure it is, I think, one of the great discoveries of the twenty-first century. For generations, dieters have fought the unwelcome tyranny of the weight scale, trying one new diet after another in a pathetic and usually futile attempt to halt and turn back the inexorable and every upward advance of the scale. And what has been the result of all of this effort?  Depression, self-loathing, and an ever shrinking sense of self-esteem. But now, modern science finally offers the overwhelmed dieter a way off the never-ending cycle of weight loss and then more weight gain entirely. If reality does not exist until one attempts to measure it, then what could be simple than not weighing yourself and telling everyone who asks that you’ve lost weight?  Reality, after all, does not exist until you step onto the weight scale. So don’t step on it. This will make you much happier than worrying about calorie counts and weekly weight checks will, and quantum mechanics is all about making you a happier person, isn’t it?

There will be a great deal of pushback against these findings, of course. The diet industry is a billion dollar business in this country and they will not surrender those profits without a fight. The American public can expect to see the full weight of the advertising and public relations industries brought to bear in order to deny the science. Before too many more months pass, we can expect to see the full page spreads in all the major newspapers and magazines, the tendentious public service advertisements running in prime time, and the phony “scientists” operating out of allegedly independent research institutes telling credulous journalists that quantum mechanics is not really settled science, that quantum mechanics don’t allow black people to join their union, and that Werner Heisenberg, the original quantum mechanic, was a not very nice person who did not support gay marriage and liked to kick cute little puppies out of second story windows when they weren’t looking.  The journalists, whose employers will not want to upset such important advertisers, will not bother to research the claims of these “scientists” and so the public will not find out until much later that the diet industry funds these “independent research institutes.”  The fear that the diet industry will use its economic clout to harm the media is nothing for anyone to sneer at.  It is important for the true believer in quantum mechanics to know that the dieting industry, like hell and tyranny, is not easily overcome; the fight against these science deniers will be long and hard. As I mentioned above, there’s simply too much money involved to think that the dieting industry will go gently into that good night willingly.  We must educate the public that they do have choices, that the dieting industry is trying to deny established science, and that the public does not have to live with the abuse heaped upon them by these corporate bloodsuckers.

But all will come right in the end.  The richly deserved economic oblivion that awaits the dieting industry will mean the end of fat shaming in our society and the attendant psychological bullying that goes with it.  Science will move us all forward into a bright new day and quantum mechanics will go back to doing what they do best: disassemble the transmission on your water cycle and tell you that it will cost you two thousand dollars to repair the thing. You’ve noticed, no doubt, that quantum mechanics will tell you that reality doesn’t exist until someone tries to measure it, but they get to charge you an arm and a leg just to do noting but look at your transmission.  Reality and unreality run into real money, folks, whether or not you own a weight scale or a tape measure, which I find vaguely surreal, but, as in all things mechanical, that could just be me.

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Monday, November 23, 2015

Letting it all hang out, sideways sort of

We live today in a tell—all—let—everything—hang—out society, a society that believes that keeping certain things to oneself is psychologically unsound for the individual and for society as well, and therefore the best thing to do when confronted with personal matters you would rather not discuss with anyone is, counterintuitively enough, to discuss then with damn near everyone you can think of. I should blame Sigmund Freud for this, but I don’t, not really. He merely theorized that discussing your innermost thoughts and emotions with a medical professional would help his patients understand why they were so miserable; he never promised anyone that spilling their guts to him would make them permanently happy—it would only relieve the misery of existence for a short time, in much the same way as a priest granting absolution after a sinner’s confession understands that the sinner will need to come back and get relief for the sins he will commit during the following week. It may not make you happy, but you will know why you’re not happy. 

No, I blame Phil Donahue and his principal acolyte, Oprah Winfrey, for the current obsession with knowing more about people that we really care to know, and, of course, I blame Philo Farnsworth for inventing television in the first place, which gave Donahue and Winfrey the platform they needed to display their emotional basket cases to an unsuspecting world. I suppose, given the popularity of the format that Donahue and Winfrey pioneered, that I am in a minority about this, but I would just as soon not know who is copulating with whom or to discuss reproductive biology, my own or someone else’s, with complete strangers. I do not inflict unwanted confidences on other people and I should like some reciprocation from them, but I know better than to expect it. I realize that this reluctance is an anachronism in this day and age, a cultural artifact of an Irish Catholic childhood that has no place in the modern world, but there’s nothing I can do about it at this point. I am what I am, said Popeye the Sailor Man, and if it’s good enough for Popeye, it’s good enough for me.

I wonder when we here in this our Great Republic began treating the most intimate aspects of our private lives as fodder for mass entertainment and the stuff of everyday conversation. You may not credit this, but once upon a time here in this our Great Republic the only people who would talk about such things in public were the mentally ill. But the mentally ill have a reason for their tell-all mania: they are, in fact, maniacal. They are nuts, clinically, psychologically, one hundred percent by a doctor who went to medical school and everything certified bonkers. The rest of us, however, don’t have that excuse. So why do we keep displaying our psychic quirks in public?  The question remains a Rosicrucian mystery to me and all the evidence points to the question staying that way. I suppose people keep doing this sort of thing because emotional caterwauling makes them happy and it makes other people happy to watch them roll around in their psychic traumas. There is something more than a little gruesome about all of this, I think, but as I appear to be the only one who thinks so, I must endure what I cannot stop. It all seems horribly unfair to me, but I don’t think anyone cares what I think of all this one way or the other. Ah well, what can you do?

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Saturday, November 14, 2015

The End is Near, and other things you don't care to read about.

I suppose this should not bother me—I’m a big boy now, after all, and on a scale of one to ten of life’s little annoyances this should not even register as a blip—but I am not sure when Christian eschatology became an appropriate subject for men’s room graffiti. I am a firm advocate of the First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of speech and religion, but I also believe that there is a time and a place for everything, and reading that ‘THE END IS NEAR’ while I am standing in front of a urinal relieving myself is, to my mind, neither the time nor the place for such a message. At such a time, I do not want to think deep thoughts about the Day of Judgment nor do I wish to pass the time it takes to pass water contemplating my sins; I simply want to finish the business at hand and get out of the men’s room, especially the men’s room that is the star of this particular screed, which is unnecessarily noisome, even by the very low standards that most people judge rest rooms by.  If I didn’t absolutely positively no—two—ways—about—it did not need to use this rest room, I wouldn’t, but nature has its own purposes, as it is wont to do, and while I am attending to those purposes I do not wish to think about eschatology or the soteriological train of thought that inevitably arises from it.

This was not always the case, of course. In the history of Christianity, there are any number of great theologians who have thought their greatest thoughts while attending to the necessary. The great fourth century heresiarch Arius, unless he was the great fifth century heresiarch Arius—I’m not sure if I’ve got the right dates here—first thought that Jesus was not consubstantial with the Father while sitting in the men’s room, and no, I don’t have any idea what Arius was talking about, either. Understanding the details of his theology was apparently not a requirement, as Arianism became wildly popular without anyone really knowing what Arius was going on about. Arius was sort of like the Stephen Hawking of the fourth (or fifth) century; everyone bought his books but no one really read them. But fashion rules all, as someone much smarter than me once said, and back in the day everyone who was anyone wanted to be an Arian, and so Arius started spending a lot of time in the men’s room trying to think of the next big theological thing.  This was unfortunate, because one day while Arius sat doing his business and thinking deep thoughts about the nature of the Trinity, some non-Arian Christian—I have not ascertained whether this person was Orthodox, Catholic, miaphysite, or Nestorian in his theological orientation—ventilated Arius’ guts from below with a sword. Besides being an extremely painful and more than a little embarrassing way to die, one cannot help but wonder how the assassin knew which of the rumps above his head belonged to Arius. All human faces are different, but everyone’s backside looks pretty much the same. There are differences in size and shape, of course, but the basics don’t really vary that much. Butts are butts.

Martin Luther was another habitué of the theological outhouse, a man who suffered from such severe chronic constipation that he tore Western Christendom apart trying to relieve the gastrointestinal pressure on his body and soul.  Why Luther suffered from such chronic constipation is lost now to medical science: as an Augustinian friar he may have suffered from the poor monastic diet—bread, water, and wine do not a balanced diet make, no matter how positively biblical this trinity might otherwise appear—and so it is not difficult to imagine that Luther’s guts revolted when confronted with the occasional bratwurst.  Indeed, given the vehemence of Luther’s denunciations, it is not difficult to imagine that Luther found Johann Tetzel’s selling papal get out of purgatory bubble gum cards less objectionable than Tetzel’s lack of laxatives in his peddler’s sack. Getting out of purgatory is all well and good, but it is sometimes difficult to contemplate the mysteries of the divine when your guts are in a knot. Something had to give, and in 1517, something finally did; Luther posted the 95 Theses, beginning the Protestant Reformation. Whether the Reformation did anything for Luther’s need to relieve himself is unknown.

Still, the most interesting of the plumbing theologians was, to my mind, St. Edwin of Nobbish, an English saint who wanted to be a desert hermit like Simeon Stylites, an Egyptian saint who lived on top of a pillar for forty years. This posed a bit of a problem for St. Edwin, given the lack of suitable pillars, posts, and deserts in his native England, but not one to give up easily, Edwin compensated by standing on top of a chamber pot on one foot while he contemplated the nature of free will.  St. Edwin, an otherwise orthodox Catholic theologian, held the view that God must exist simultaneously at all levels of possibility, in what happened and what did not happen, reconciling, he thought, the question of free will with the omniscience of God. The Church found his theory more than vaguely heretical, but could not come out and say so without denying the omnipotence of God, which is not vaguely heretical at all; it’s the real thing. People who know about such things tell me that while St. Edwin of Nobbish’s theory may not be entirely orthodox theology, it is fairly good string theory, and that the story that he died because he turned an ankle and fell off the chamber pot he’d stood on for fifty-two years and cracked his skull is exactly that, a story. St. Edwin died in the late 1340's, yet another victim of the Black Death that killed nearly half of the population of Europe.

It also occurs to me that the graffito ‘The End is Near’—remember ‘The End is Near’, it’s what I was complaining about before I wandered off into the tangles of Christian theological history, for which digression, I must beg your pardon; I know I shouldn’t go off-topic but sometimes I can’t help myself—that this might mean that the user’s end is near the urinal, in which case they are standing in the wrong stall. They should be sitting on the commode in the stall next to the urinal. This, though, sounds as farfetched as St. Edwin of Nobbish’s theory of simultaneous ubiquity. Why would someone who knows what a urinal is for attempt to use it while facing away from it? Even a woman compelled by necessity to use the men’s room would know better than to use a urinal in this fashion. So, whose end is near and why is this end in this particular urinal? I don’t know. What I do know is that there is a reason why tradition limits the subjects on men’s room walls to scatology, obscenity, profanity, slander, and sports, and this is it. No one wants to think about ultimate things while they are attending to the necessary. We just want to go.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Used cars for sale here; will accept any offer!

There are many rules associated with poker, some of them official and others not so much, and one of the oldest and most important of the not so much official rules is this: first, in every game there is a sucker, a not very good player with a lot of money and an undeservedly high opinion of his skill as a poker player. The point of this clod’s participation in the game, a participation that the other players encourage enthusiastically, is to lose and lose badly, thereby enriching all the other players.  Second, if you have been playing for more than fifteen minutes and you can’t figure out which of the other players is the sucker, then you’re it. This is a very simple rule, very simple indeed, and yet it is truly amazing just how often it is broken. You would think that people would catch on; after all, everyone knows the old saw about a fool and his money; but some people cannot admit, not even for a moment, that they are the fool in this situation.  We’ve all seen or heard of such people-the blustering bully who finally gets his comeuppance, the miser whose greed finally gets the better of his better judgement and invests in a scheme to factory farm the goose that laid the golden egg, and my favorite, the guy who never got over being the smartest kid in class who does something incredibly stupid and then can’t bring himself to admit that he just did something incredibly stupid.  Like a pretty girl caught in flagrante delicto with only a small towel to cover her delicto, the smartest kid in class has to keep changing his story to cover the glaring evidence of his dumbness.

Take, for example, a couple named Harry and Mickey, who are new arrivals here in our happy little burg.  They’re a nice couple—I see them every so often at work—he has some kind of government job and she is a nutritionist down at the middle school. Well, they moved up here to our happy little burg from the great metropolis to the south and if you know anything about the metropolis then you know that the one thing you really don’t need down there is an automobile. Why would you need one? There are buses and subways and taxis, and now there is the Uber car service for those people who don’t like any of their other transportation options.  And all of these options would be more than enough, if they still lived in the metropolis, but they don’t; they live here now, and I believe that I have mentioned here that in this neck of the woods mass transit is the car that brings a Roman Catholic family to St. Thomas the Apostle’s Church on Sunday. There are no other transportation options in this area.  Given the circumstances, therefore, Barry and Mickey needed a car. They wanted a new car, but due to the poor economy these days, they had to settle for a used one instead.  So, Harry went down to Ali Hakim’s Hook’em & Rook’em Used Car and Auto Carpet Shop down at the junction of County Road 93 and the interstate to get himself a brand new used car.  And here Harry ran into some trouble.

It’s not as if a lot of people didn’t try to warn him about Ali Hakim. The last man to get the better of Ali Hakim in a business deal was Mr. Cummings, who suspected that Ali was trifling with his daughter Gertie and so suggested that Ali could enhance his chances of living a long and productive life by marrying Gertie. People have told me that Ali was not entirely enthusiastic about the idea of matrimony, but that Mr. Cummings’ good friend, the Reverend Oscar F. Mossberg, a most learned and pious man of God much given to ending his sermons with the exhortation, Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition[i], convinced Ali that he had nothing to lose by marrying Gertie and maybe there’d be something in it for him. I suspect that Ali Hakim got over his initial reluctance to the idea of matrimony, if his six kids are anything to go by, but no one’s gotten the better of him since then and so most people don’t even try.  Most people, however, didn’t include Harry, which is something he liked to tell people every time the opportunity arose. 

Harry was not the smartest kid in his class—he just looked like he was—and for most of his life that was enough.  He was a tall, good-looking fellow who smiled easily and had a good line of gab, and I’ve heard more than one person say that Harry should try being a salesman or go into politics, that he’d be great at it.  I suspect that they’re right; Harry would be great at both jobs. Talking came naturally to him and he could talk people into seeing things his way by convincing them that what he was saying made a great deal of sense, even if, after you’d thought about what he’d said for a little while, it didn’t.  I suspect that’s why I never really got used to Harry—there was just something a little bit slippery about him that I never liked. Harry was one of those guys who had glided through life on luck and charm for so long that he couldn’t imagine a situation where he wouldn’t be successful, and to me, there’s something more than a little off-putting about a man who thinks he can walk in front of a fan just as the cow flop hits the blades and come out of the encounter with clean, freshly creased trousers.  Maybe it’s just me.

Now, in the interests of full disclosure, I did not witness the following myself. I was not there and therefore I must rely on the testimony of Ali Hakim’s secretary, Rachel Jackson, whom, in the further interests of full disclosure, I have known since we were both kids in St. Thomas the Apostle School, and yes, that was quite a while ago, and no, the further interests of full disclosure do not require me to tell you how long quite a while ago was.  I trust Rachel and I hope you will trust her as well. The day at Ali’s Used Cars started quietly enough: Rachel answered the phone, the mechanics in the service department prepared to separate the arms and legs of customers unwary enough to come in without a valid warranty, and Mr. Hakim read the newspaper and drank a cup of an incredibly thick black sludge that he called coffee and his staff suspected was motor oil.  Harry came in at around ten o’clock in the morning and asked to see Mr. Hakim right away.  He was busy, he explained to Rachel, and he knew what he wanted and he wanted to get on with it right away.  With that, Harry did his best impression of a busy man of affairs who has better things to do with his time than stand around all day dickering with some greasy foreigner over the price of a used car. So, Rachel Jackson called Mr. Ali Hakim out of his office and away from his cup of ungodly thick coffee to meet with Harry, the cleverest fellow in all the world.

The meeting did not go well. Long story short, Harry went into his smartest in the class aren’t I the cleverest fellow you’ve ever met mode that had served him so well his entire life, and Mr. Ali Hakim went into his Persian bazaari mode, which really isn’t a mode at all—it’s who he is.  Ali Hakim would sell ice cream makers to Eskimos if he thought he could turn a profit at it. He asked Harry to come into his office so they could discuss what Harry wanted in a fine pre-owned automobile. Harry tried to beg off, citing time concerns and that he already knew what he wanted, he just wanted to know if Mr. Hakim could give him a good deal on the car he had in mind, but Mr. Hakim would not dream of doing business without offering his customers a nice cup of coffee, a few minutes of polite conversation, and a hot cinnamon roll—Mr. Hakim is partial to hot cinnamon rolls in particular and carbohydrates in general, especially carbohydrates topped with sugar.  So, Harry went into Mr. Hakim’s office, still convinced of his innate superiority to this immigrant carmonger, if that’s even a word, and ninety minutes later, still convinced of his innate superiority to this immigrant carmonger, which I suspect isn’t really a word at all, Harry left Mr. Hakim’s office, the proud owner of a yellow 1972 Plymouth Barracuda with black stripes.  I damn near busted a gut when I heard about it.

I am deeply acquainted with this particular yellow 1972 Plymouth Barracuda with black racing stripes; my brother owned it thirty years ago. Before he enlisted in the Navy, my brother sold it to Tommy Zaleski, who sold it to someone else a few years after that. That car has bounced from one end of our happy little burg to the other and the idea that anyone in their right mind would actually want to buy that pile of movable junk is too fantastic to believe, or it would be, if Harry hadn’t actually bought the thing.  In his defense, I should point out that the car looks pretty good for a 1972 Plymouth Barracuda sold in the second decade of the 21st century—Mr. Hakim clearly put some money into bodywork.  Whether he put even more money into fixing the engine, I don’t know. I do know that when my brother owned the car, the engine had a nice coating of rust in a couple of spots.  I am sure that Mr. Hakim has addressed the matter. 
In any case, no sooner had Harry bought the car than people began telling him that he had made a mistake.  Everyone who’d ever dealt with Ali Hakim told Harry that the man could not be trusted at all; my brother and Tommy Zaleski told him that the car was old as the beard of Moses and not worth the two thousand dollars Harry had paid for it. Given the number of people who tried to help him, you might think that Harry would check with the Better Business Bureau to see if Mr. Hakim had any complaints (he does, veritable squadrons of complaints) or that he might have another mechanic check the car to make sure someone—I’m not going to name any names here—hadn’t been fooling around with the odometer.  You might think that, but you would be wrong.  The Barracuda was a great car and he had gotten a great deal on it. I know that, because Harry told me so himself.

I have to admit that it took a great deal of strength not to laugh in the man’s face. I really didn’t want to hurt his feelings; Harry is a nice guy, all in all, but for the smartest guy in the room, he’s remarkably thin-skinned.  He doesn’t like people contradicting him and when someone does, he tries to talk over them. It must work for him, I suppose—he’s gotten this far in life without anyone punching him in the nose—but it’s left him sort of brittle, if you know what I mean.  He’s talked such a good game all his life that he can’t process the idea that someone could get the better of him and when someone does, he just denies it.  Professional poker players love guys like Harry: a not very experienced player whose ego won’t let them admit that they are playing at a level way over their head.  Guys like Harry will stay in the game until they’ve lost every penny in their stake. It’s horribly unfair to take advantage of the suckers like that, but I guess professional poker players have to eat too, you know.

[i] The Reverend Mossberg was a veteran of both Korea and Vietnam, and therefore convinced that church services were something he had to get through as quickly as possible in order to avoid incoming enemy mortar fire. Some experiences are more profound than others, as I am sure you will agree, and so Reverend Mossberg was still praising the Lord and passing the ammunition long after the congregation’s need for ammunition had passed. 

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Monday, October 19, 2015

Just my opinion, and no, this is not one of the pieces I've been working on

Doctors like modern architecture. Well, most of them do, anyway, if medical buildings here in our happy little burg are anything to go by.  I do not know why this should be, unless the doctors inside the very modern medical building want to convey a sense of being on the cutting edge of modern medicine. This would not be the first nor will it be the last time that someone used a building as a sort of freestanding advertisement for his or her own self-image.  I should point out that I have nothing against this sort of thing—if you have this kind of money and you want to make this sort of architectural statement, then have at it and more power to you, I say. There are worse ways to waste money.  What is interesting to me in all of this, however, is that while doctors are willing to spend all this money putting up fancy medical buildings, they almost inevitably try to save money on the parking lot. Actually, I should not say that I find this economizing interesting, because it is not; it is annoying as hell.

I would guess that most people have had this experience: you have an eleven o’clock appointment to see your doctor at his (or her) fancy medical building and while you have arrived at the doctor’s office on time, you have to spend the first fifteen minutes out in the parking lot circling like a damn vulture over the rotting corpse of a wildebeest because there isn’t enough parking to go around.  Now, I will grant you that missing the first fifteen minutes of a doctor’s appointment is no great loss for anyone. Everyone knows that time slows down in doctors’ offices and so your eleven o’clock appointment is more apt to be an 11:45 appointment in real time, but it is the principle of the thing that counts: you want to be on time, even if the doctor is not (and probably never will be).  I do not know why this is so—after all, no one goes to the movies at the show time listed in the newspaper; that way you can skip the trailers for movies that you have no intention of seeing and the stern warnings about turning off your cell phones that you have no intention of obeying—but hope springs eternal in the human heart, I suppose. 

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Friday, September 25, 2015

Just a short message from our sponsor

Just a brief update to my promise to have the pieces that I’ve been working on posted in a few days: I’m going to have to back out of that promise for a least a few extra days, at the very least. Even as I write this, there is a crew of illegal Mexicans cutting down a huge pine tree in my front yard. I realize that I shouldn’t patronize businesses that hire illegals, but the tree has to come down before it falls over of its own accord and completely demolishes my garage. That is the bad side; the worst side is that I’ve had to listen to chainsaws since 8:30 this morning and there doesn’t seem to be any end to the noise in sight or within earshot, which seems to make more sense to me than saying in sight; I don’t care what the chainsaws looks like, I just don’t want to listen to them.  As you might imagine, one of the unfortunate side effects of prolonged exposure to the sound of illegal immigrants hacking up a tree with a chainsaw is a prolonged inability to concentrate on the task at hand, and therefore I am putting off the completion of these two pieces until peace and quiet once again reign here in our happy little burg. But I will get them out eventually, I promise you that. Again, my apologies for the delay.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015


I would like to apologize for the singular lack of new material here at The Passing Parade. For reasons I am not certain I fully comprehend myself, I volunteered, or at least people tell me I volunteered—frankly, the idea that I knowingly volunteered for anything doesn’t really sound like me, but you can’t go around calling people liars; they tend to object to that sort of thing, you know—to serve on the search committee to find a new chief executive for the egregious mold pit wherein I labor for my daily bread.  I am sure none of you cares in the least about the labyrinthine pit of civil service hell I have been sliding greasily through for the past several months, but let us say for the moment—I cannot go into the details before the official announcement by them that runs this place—that the long delay is over and that I can go back to the two pieces that have been hanging fire ever since I volunteered, if I actually did volunteer—I’m not kidding, I have no memory of telling the big shots here that I wanted to serve of their damn committee, but there I was, anyway—and finish them just as soon as I can.  Just when they will up, I cannot say, but I anticipate them being here sometime in the next few days, unless something else comes up that requires my immediate attention. I can’t think of anything that might actually meet that criterion, but I’ve noticed that things that meet that criterion have a bad habit of showing up when you least want them to, in much the same way as your Uncle Harry and Aunt Nancy show up on a weekend when you’ve got other plans and you just want them to go away and stay away, or better yet, not show up at all. We can’t have everything, however, and sometimes we just have to put up with what we cannot get rid of, especially now that the antifreeze companies have put some agent in the antifreeze that makes the stuff taste bitter and therefore poisoning Aunt Nancy and Uncle Harry is no longer a viable way to protect one’s weekend plans. Ah well, what can we do?

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