Archive for the 'random crap' Category

The Sound of Opportunity

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

Over the weekend, we got a much-needed breath of fresh air as a cold front passed through the area. This means I can finally turn off my air conditioner and open the windows, as the outside temperature has finally dipped below the ninety-degree mark for the first time since about April, I think. While those of you in more moderate climates have four distinct seasons, we here in Texas have only two: “hot”, and “damn hot”. In any case, while the cooling breezes were blowing through the house, Mrs. Toast remarked that all we needed was the sound of crashing surf to feel like we were on our own private island. This comment naturally sent me off to scour that source of all things Good and Wonderful (i.e., The Internet) in search of “surf sounds”. After struggling through many links to tunes by the Beach Boys, sure enough, I came upon this site, which featured a vast selection of “ambient sound” CD’s perfect for relaxation and meditation, all at the bargain price of just $12.95 each. Wow! Check out some of these actual selections from the web site:

Yes, this is what exactly we’re looking for. Soothing relaxing ocean sounds, including crashing waves, and squawking sea gulls. Ahhhhhhhh. Close your eyes and you can almost smell the salt air. I wonder what else they have in this genre?
Oh, storms. That’s nice. Who can resist the soothing sound of tinkling rain and the rumble of a distant thunderstorm on a summer day? I can easily see how someone might want to pay $12.95 for an hour’s worth of relaxing ambient sounds like these. I mean, what a great deal!
And now we … huh? What’s this? “Soothing Air Conditioner”? Um, this is a little bit of a stretch as I just turned OFF the air conditioner. Hmmmm. Other titles in this series include “Soothing Shower Head”, “Peaceful Air Purifier”, “Calming Electric Fan”, and “Smooth Radio Static”. Who knew household appliances could be the source of calming, soothing, ambient sounds? And at the bargain price of only $12.95 each!
I’m amazed to learn that babies find the sound of vacuum cleaners to be soothing. Even though I can remember being awakened as a child by the sound of a vacuum cleaner, apparently nowadays major appliances are a source of great comfort to small children, as in addition to this disk, others in this series include “Baby’s Blow Dryer CD”, “Baby’s Dishwasher CD”, as well as Baby’s fans, washing machines, and clothes dryers. Did I mention each disk in this series is only $12.95?

OK, by now I am starting to realize that there is a vast untapped market here, and I am struck with an idea. If these guys at Pure White Noise® can get people to pay $12.95 by sticking a microphone up to a vacuum cleaner for an hour, there must be many other sounds they’ve overlooked that I can capitalize on. So, allow me to now present my own entries into the ambient sounds market:

CITY SOUNDS: Sure “nature” sounds are great if you find rustling leaves and chirping crickets to be relaxing. But quite a few people who live in big towns like New York City, San Francisco, and Fargo become quite accustomed to the background noise of the city, and go crazy when they get out into the deafening silence of the country. So for those poor deprived city-dwellers, my first CD in the series will feature sixty minutes of various city sounds such as honking horns, shouting, rumbling subways, the muffled thud of bass from the neighbor’s stereo system, domestic disturbances, sirens, gunshots, etc. Urbanites will feel relaxed and right at home.
TRAFFIC NOISE: In case general-purpose city sounds aren’t enough for you, here’s an entire CD of Traffic Sounds which I can record “live” in one afternoon on Houston’s Southwest Freeway. This one will specialize in typical Texas traffic noises, including busses, 18-wheel diesel trucks, lots of cursing, and the occasional crackle of small-arms fire. Nothing like a nice relaxing drive around Loop 610!
BARKING DOGS: Dog lovers will really go for this one. One hour of incessant yapping, relentless barking, and wretched howling. If you’re away from home and miss the sound of Fido in your back yard, be sure to bring along this CD.
BABY’S FIRST CD OF GARBAGE DISPOSAL SOUNDS: Air conditioners, fans, washers, dryers … how could this major household appliance have been overlooked? Crank this one up loud to “create an oasis of relaxation and calm, promote sleep, provide stress relief sounds, block annoying noise for a more restful sleep and improve concentration, and ease the symptoms of colic, tinnitus, ADD/ADHD and hyperacusis”. Includes sounds of grinding chicken bones, silverware and other items. Sure, you could just turn on your own disposer, but this CD is only $12.95! Wow!
CRYING BABY SOUNDS: I’ve saved the best one for last. Are you childless? Ever been out to a restaurant to hear a toddler screaming at the top of his lungs at the next table, and wish that you too could experience the joys of parenthood for yourself? Well then get this disk for all of the fun and none of the dirty diapers. This one’s also perfect for empty-nesters who miss the cries, the wails, the blood-curdling screams that only a hungry, wet, and colicky baby can make. Yes, at just $12.95, you’ll want to pick up several of these for everyone on your Christmas list. I guarantee they’ll never forget you and your thoughtful gift this coming Holiday Season!

Note: No actual babies were harmed during the making of this CD, although we came pretty damn close and had to restrain ourselves on a couple of occasions.

Library hijinks

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

Here in East Texas it’s exams week at the University where Mrs. Toast works as a Librarian, which is the time that students go absolutely bonkers. Everything they’ve worked for all year in large part boils down to how well they do this week, and the pressure is enormous. And what do college students do when they’re stressed? Apparently, they have parties in the library, take off their clothes, and urinate in the stairwells. The library is open 24-hours-a-day all this week, allegedly to give students a quiet place to study for exams, but the librarians who have been working the overnight shift (not Mrs. Toast, fortunately) have witnessed some strange goings-on in the halls of literature. One of them has been sending a daily e-mail to the rest of the library staff reporting on the nightly carnage, including the theft and vandalism of wall signs, water gun fights, students taking off their clothes to study in their underwear, and the most heinous crime of all (gasp!), loud talking!! Hey people, put a lid on it – this is a library here! But things seem to be improving: here is an excerpt from one of his daily reports:

The building has cleared out a lot. I see no sleeping or signs that those who are left are slowing down. I noticed that a lot more trash has been picked up and put in the garbage instead of being left out. I think I have begun to make some sort of bond with the natives. They appear more docile and cooperative. I brought my camera with me this time around the building. Some were shy and had to be coaxed out of their hiding places while other strutted and thumped their chests demanding that their primitive nobility be recorded for the ages. I quickly made new friends and passed the word about the vandals and damage, and recruited their help in watching for trouble. I don’t know if this will help but I suspect that it has. Word is spreading of the strange silent pale one who stalks the stacks at night.

In the course of discussing these disturbing incidents, several of the librarians got together and came up with a brilliant plan: build a deck on the roof, add some lights and a DJ, sell drinks, and the library would become the hippest spot between Dallas and Houston. They could even call it … are you ready? … “The Library”. Hit up the patrons for a cover charge to get in and the University could make a fortune. I don’t know why they’re not all over this idea.

Meanwhile, another faculty member mentioned that a library in his home town sponsored something called “librarian night” at the local strip club. All the girls at the club (not the librarians) dressed up as librarians (or at least started dressed that way) and then gave a portion of the proceeds to the library. Here’s another great idea the University needs to capitalize on; they could even do a poster session for ALA, plus “Librarian of the Month” calendars and desktop screen savers!

Never let it be said that librarians don’t work hard to further their careers.

Thankful

Thursday, November 23rd, 2006

Gadgetlust

Tuesday, November 14th, 2006

I have no rational reason for doing so, but I really want Santa to bring me this for Christmas. I’m not sure why, it’s not something I really need. Although sometimes I take pictures, I’m not a “photographer” by any stretch of the imagination. I hardly use the camera I already have, a Canon PowerShot A60. This would be like giving an F-16 to the pilot of a Piper Cub.

The Digital Rebel XT costs as much as some used cars, or, as Mrs. Toast will be quick to point out, a new washer and dryer (which we do, in fact, need). There are so many more sensible ways to spend the big-ticket bucks this thing costs.

You may notice that I am trying to talk myself out of this. It’s not working.

Regional identity crisis

Monday, November 13th, 2006

A pine tree by any other name would be — what? Still a pine tree. And therein lies the absurdity of whatever marketing brain-trust has convinced area civic leaders and chambers of commerce of the need to “re-brand” the part of Texas I live in. For many years, our chunk of the state — roughly bounded by Houston and Beaumont to the south, Tyler to the northwest corner, and the Louisiana state line to the east (see the green shaded area of the map on the right) — has been simply known as “East Texas”, or “The Pineywoods”. But apparently that’s no longer good enough to lure tourists and new residents, so these geniuses are attempting to come up with a regional moniker that will somehow make more people want to visit and/or relocate to this area. Examples of successful regional names used by other parts of the country might include “The Texas Hill Country”, “The Rocky Mountains”, “The Golden Triangle”, “The North Country”, “The Gulf Coast”, and “Las Vegas”, just to name a few.

For years, “The Pineywoods” has seemed like an appropriate description of this area, because the main topographical feature of East Texas is trees, lots and lots of them. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I’ll take a peaceful forest, with secluded lakes and gentle rolling countryside, over a crowded, polluted city any day. (Except, of course, when shopping and dining is involved.) But according to an editorial in the local paper:

“The emphasis on trees might lead those who have never been here to imagine that we’re nothing but a giant tangle of trees, and only one kind of tree, at that. Certainly, there’s no mistaking that we abound with trees and forests, but we’ve got much more to offer. We’re a region rich in Texas history. Our area abounds with lakes and rivers, national and state parks. Most people who have never been to East Texas have no idea that there is a part of Texas — our part — that more resembles an English countryside than it does a Hollywood version of Texas.”

But what to call it? Here are a few ideas from a recent contest soliciting suggestions (somehow I suspect that some of these may be more tongue-in-cheek than others):

  • Abitibi’s Bitch (Abitibi is a big local lumber/paper company)
  • Baja Rivercrest
  • The land north of the Gulf of Mexico, East of Interstate 45, South of the Red River, and West of the Sabine, excluding Houston and Dallas
  • BeauTylerAna (Beaumont-Tyler-Texarkana)
  • Angelachia (from a prominent area river, the Angelina)
  • Hoo-Hooville
  • Greater Rivercrest

With the possible exception of “Hoo-Hooville”, I don’t really care for any of these either. Over at The Critical Poet, a Steve Morgan writes:

“As far as I can tell there are about three things in East Texas: mobile homes, Baptist churches, and catfish restaurants. Lord, the catfish restaurants. Crazy Catfish, Ken’s Catfish, Catfish Cabin, King Catfish. None of these features of East Texas lend themselves to a catchy moniker, though I suppose the local boosters could go with Catfish Country — requiring everyone to overlook the the fact that a catfish is a hideous looking, bottom dwelling scavenger.”

Hey, there we go: “Land Of The Hideous-Looking Bottom-Dwelling Scavengers”. Perfect.

Random stupid question

Saturday, November 4th, 2006

Questions, Mr. Toast gets questions:

Q: Of all the ball pythons kept as exotic pets in the USA, what percentage of them are named “Monty”?
A: I have no freaking idea.

However, in an attempt to research the answer to this burning issue, I am asking anyone who stumbles across this page to take the following educational yet statistically meaningless…

Great Python Survey

Yes, I have a pet python and his/her name is “Monty”
Yes, I have a pet python, but it has a different name.
No, I do not have a pet python.
No, I do not have a pet python and Mr. Toast is an idiot.

View Results
Make your own damn poll

Yes friends, NaBloPoMo continues here at Wind In The Wire. Don’t say I didn’t warn you about the dumbass posts. But by Grabthar’s hammer, I put something up today!!

Dead horses

Thursday, October 5th, 2006

dead_horse.jpgThe tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians, passed on from generation to generation, says that, “When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount and get a different horse.”

However, in the Bush administration, more advanced strategies (frequently also used in the corporate or academic world) are often employed:

1. Buy a stronger whip.

2. Change riders.

3. Appoint a committee to study the horse.

4. Arrange to visit other countries to see how other cultures ride dead horses.

5. Lower the standards so that dead horses can be included.

6. Reclassify the dead horse as “living impaired”.

7. Hire outside contractors to ride the dead horse.

8. Harness several dead horses together to increase speed.

9. Provide additional funding and/or training to increase the dead horse’s performance.

10. Do a productivity study to see if lighter riders would improve the dead horse’s performance.

11. Declare that as the dead horse does not have to be fed, it is less costly, carries lower overhead and therefore contributes substantially more to the bottom line than do other horses.

12. Rewrite the expected performance requirements for all horses.

13. Promote the dead horse to a supervisory position.

Live from New York, er, Hampshire…it’s Mr Toast!

Wednesday, July 26th, 2006

Yes, that really is me standing next to Jimmy Fallon aboard the Lake Winnipesaukee cruise ship Mt. Washington earlier today. Much to my surprise, I met the former Saturday Night Live star and Weekend Update co-anchor while he was in New Hampshire enjoying some R&R time away from his hectic schedule in New York. Jimmy was quite gracious and welcomed me to visit with him for about 10-15 minutes or so before he went down to dinner with his girlfriend and her family, who live in the area. When I asked him somewhat incredulously, “what the hell are you doing on the Mt. Washington?”, his deadpan response was “Rehab.” We talked about everything from Tina Fey and Rachel Dratch’s new NBC pilot 30 Rock, his own departure from SNL and his next movie, to my pulmonary fibrosis (which we referred to as “Jerry Lewis Disease“). He seemed quite interested in the fact that I had been a disk jockey in the past, and when I told him that my last gig was as an engineer for an NBC-network television station, he put his arm around me and told me I was “one of the family”.

Funny guy, and a delightful cap to a fantastic day on the lake. This has been a great vacation so far, and it’s not over yet!

The post about not posting

Monday, July 10th, 2006

Hello y’all, just wanted to let any readers I might have left know that as of yet I have not fallen off the face of the earth. That will happen on Saturday. Rather, this week I have been preparing to leave the planet, or at least that’s what it feels like. We’ve been getting all our ducks in a row for roughly 4,000 miles of driving … making hotel reservations, contacting people we’ll be visiting, etc. Fortunately, we have friends staying at the house while we’re gone who will look after the place and take care of the cats, so that’s one less thing to worry about. I apologize for the lack of updates here, but I promise all sorts of great stuff (complete with photos) once I get organized!

Progress (?), Part II

Sunday, July 2nd, 2006

News stories can be classified according to their scope: international, national, state, regional, citywide, local, and really local. This particular item is one of the latter, as it’s newsworthy only to a handful of households on my street. But for those few people, this event has greater impact than any headline out of Washington.

I wrote here Monday about a local developer who has recently clear-cut a wooded area on my block in order to build a shopping center, and I was somewhat surprised to see that this was a front-page story in our local Sunday paper today. Under the headline “The grass isn’t so green on the other side of the strip center”, the story quotes several local residents who were taken by surprise when all the trees were plowed down by construction crews.


“We came home and they had cut down everything,” said one. “It’s just gone. Basically, we thought they would leave a thin line of trees behind the buildings, but they didn’t. Now everyone can see our house from Wal-Mart.”

Our street has always been a fairly secluded and peaceful neighborhood, where folks walked their dogs and could sunbathe on their front lawns. It’s close to shopping, but was also hidden from view. That’s not the case anymore, and for some, they’ve decided it’s time to move.

“We just don’t want to be here anymore,” said a homeowner who lives directly across from what up until two weeks ago had been a greenbelt. “And they are going to put in some kind of drainage area in the back right across from our house – that’s not going to help property values. And instead of trees, we’re going to be looking at the back of a shopping center, so no one is exactly happy about it.”

Others are worried about the noisy hum of bulldozers which wake them up early in the morning, as well as wildlife that have suddenly found their habitat gone. Even though we are at the other end of the street, we have noticed a huge increase in the number of gray squirrels that are showing up in our backyard to eat the sunflower seeds we put out in our bird feeders. We used to see them only occasionally, but are now getting them every day … sometimes four or five at a time. There’s no doubt in my mind they’ve been displaced from their homes by the construction.

A member of the City Planning Board said the future retail space indeed looks much different today than it did a couple of months ago, but one of the biggest requests the city gets every year is that local residents want to see more progress – more shops, more restaurants and more choices. This sentiment was echoed in a letter to the editor which coincidentally also appeared in today’s paper:

“The Chamber of Commerce needs to think about what [residents] would like besides hunting and fishing. We formerly lived in a smaller city that had a Cracker Barrel, TGIF, Texas Roadhouse, Carrabas, Joe’s Crab Shack, and many other well-known restaurants, as well as locally-owned restaurants. While there are many restaurants here, there are not enough. We also need a decent mall…the only place to shop is Wal-Mart. Will we ever have decent shopping? It really doesn’t sound like it… Most newcomers here eventually hear the “rumor” that long-time residents do not want growth, do not want new stores and restaurants, and want the area to remain quiet. We can understand that wish, but if the city planned its growth properly, it could have both the amenities that people need and a quiet town.”

This conflict between economic growth and quality of life is a common theme in small-to-medium size towns like the one I live in, and it’s a legitimate debate. Most people here have to make a minimum 60-mile round trip to the nearest city that offers decent shopping and dining, and some of us find it necessary to make the 300-mile round trip to Houston on a semi-regular basis. With the price of gas rising to astronomical levels, the cost of such a drive can be significant.

Before the construction on my street began, there was supposedly a meeting between the city and residents to let them know what to expect and to get their input and feedback, but it was not publicized well and most people had little idea of the magnitude of the development that has now taken place.

On a more positive note, the developers say they will comply with city landscaping and screening ordinances by putting a natural “green space” barrier between our street and the strip center. Bradford pears, live oaks, Shumard oaks and crape myrtles will help add some aesthetics back to the neighborhood, and may soften the urban sprawl. We have not been told what stores will be located in the new center, although the newspaper article revealed that plans include at least one free-standing restaurant and up to 21 stores.

I suppose progress is inevitable … but at what price?

Progress (?)

Monday, June 26th, 2006

My neighbors down the block are furious, and I don’t blame them one little bit. A week ago, this was the view from their front door across our street:

This is their view today:


A beautiful naturally-wooded area has been clear-cut to make room for another freaking strip mall. Seeing this, a song by Joni Mitchell immediately comes to my mind:

They took all the trees and put em in a tree museum
And charged the people a dollar and a half just to see em
Don’t it always seem to go, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone
They paved paradise and put up a parking lot

Fortunately for me, this is at the other far end of my street, so I won’t have to look at this eyesore. Here’s the view across the street taken from my front porch:


Unless they decide to drain the lake and pave it over, I feel pretty safe. But I’m not taking any bets.

Happy CatBlogging Friday

Friday, June 23rd, 2006

It is all going to be OK.

I want to be in perfect harmony with my surroundings, like this peaceful B. Kliban cat. It’s not that easy for a lot of us. We tend to sweat the small stuff, letting things bother us that shouldn’t. We get stuck in situations we have very little control over. Sometimes we put our foot in our mouth, and say things that hurt another when that’s the absolute last thing we mean to do. We try so hard to make sense of the world around us, yet often come up empty-handed. We feel that if our lives are supposed to have some profound meaning and purpose, those secrets haven’t yet been revealed to us; instead, frustration greets us at every turn.

Yet, we go on searching. Some find comfort in religion or meditation, others turn to the old standbys: “sex, drugs, and rock’n roll”. Some of us are destined for greatness, others may play parts behind the scenes that are less visible but no less important. In the final analysis, it all comes down to a single word: love. If you have loved someone, or someone has loved you, you’ve experienced the most precious thing this life has to offer us. When the Beatles sang that memorable final line from Abbey Road — “and in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make” — they were not the first nor the last ones to realize this simple Karmic truth. Love is, quite simply, the reason why we’re here on this planet.

And like someone said, it’s all gonna be okay.

We just have to believe it.

Call your Mother

Sunday, May 14th, 2006

Here’s wishing a happy day and week ahead to all the Moms (& Moms-to-be) out there. Y’all are the greatest!

Calvin sez…

Friday, May 12th, 2006

The meaning of life

Monday, May 8th, 2006

First off let me apologize for the pomposity of this post title: “The meaning of life”, indeed. Hah! Like I could possibly figure out something philosophers, scholars, stargazers, and ordinary folk have pondered for millenia. It’s all relative anyway: what’s meaningful to one person may be absurd to someone else, depending on the culture of their homeland, their family, religion, or personal values, to name just a few factors.

So now that I have prefaced this with the realization that I probably have less than half a clue as to what I’m talking about, let me tell you what I think “life” means to me: being in the right place, at the right time.

We don’t live on this planet in a vacuum; there are millions of other souls on the same journey with us. And what makes the experience meaningful, in my opinion, are the relationships we form with others, how we affect them, and vice-versa. I believe that at some point in our lives — at least once, and likely more often — we will be in the right place at the right time for someone else, and that will give our own lives meaning.

Let me give you an example from a true story I read recently involving a man driving over a lonely mountain pass in southwestern Colorado. It was late at night, weather conditions were poor, and there was virtually no one else on the road. As he rounded a corner, for an instant he glimpsed a flash of something out of the corner of his eye that did not seem right, and it bothered him enough to stop and go back to see what it was. It turned out to be another vehicle that had slid off the road and down an embankment into some large rocks and trees. The man stopped and ran to the car to find a severely injured young woman trapped inside the wreckage. She was only partly conscious, and told the man she had been there for at least an hour or more. Only one other car had passed by in that time, and they didn’t stop because they simply did not see her vehicle off the road in the darkness.

There was not much the man could do for her; he had no medical training, and his cell phone did not work out in the wilderness for many miles in all directions. He offered to go get help, but they both knew it could be hours before any emergency personnel could get there; with the extent of her injuries, she would not last that long. So instead, she asked him to stay with her so she would not be alone. She told him of her family; she was Native American, and had been on her way to see her parents in New Mexico. She asked the man if he would deliver a message to her mother and father: she wanted them to know that she loved them, and that she was at peace and not afraid to die. She also gave the man other specific messages to pass on to her family. Not long after this, she succumbed to her injuries.

Even though it was some 400 miles out of his way, in the opposite direction from which he had been travelling, the man didn’t hesitate for a moment. He drove straight to her parent’s house and delivered the messages the dying woman had given him. Despite their grief, her parents took great comfort in knowing their daughter’s final thoughts, and were very grateful to the man for what he had done for a total stranger.

In short, he was at the right place at the right time — and I think this is what it’s all about. At some point in our lives, something similar will happen to us all. It may not be nearly as dramatic as the above story, but it will be life-altering in some way for you or someone else. It may still yet await you, or it may have already happened. By some extraordinary coincidence, perhaps you have met the person who has changed your life, and it has resulted in children who would not have existed had it not been for whatever bizarre quirk of fate or series of events put this person in your path. Indeed, it may happen a hundred times; someone will need you, and you will be there for them, or some circumstance will change just by the fact of you being there that will profoundly affect another’s life. We often take this seeming randomness for granted, but I think it goes to the fundamental nature of what makes us sentient beings, and hints at why we were put on this earth.

If that’s not “the meaning of life”, I think it’s at least a clue.

Who will be in the right place at the right time for you?

Letters, we get letters

Friday, April 28th, 2006

Actual, un-retouched message from my e-mail program’s Spam Blocker:

Message subject “ALL PRODUCTS FOR YOU HEALTH” from sender “asshole1@eatshit.com” may be spam.

Gee, you think?

Note to spammer: at least I’ll give you credit for being honest, you asshole.

National Library Week

Thursday, April 6th, 2006

As I am married to a librarian, I would be remiss (not to mention foolhardy) not to point out that this — April 2nd through the 8th — is National Library Week. Search engines have become so sophisticated nowadays that it’s easy to think that the Web has all the answers, and libraries aren’t relevant anymore. But think again. Libraries have always been places for education, self-help and lifelong learning. Today, they’re at the forefront of the information age, providing computers, Internet access, databases and more. At your library, you have access to nearly everything in print and online. You also get something that bookstore down the street doesn’t have: the knowledge and expertise of a librarian to help you find what you’re looking for. Your local librarian is the ultimate search engine.

If you haven’t been in a library lately, it’s not what you remember — it’s even better. Want to research your thesis? Find the latest child care information? Write a resume? Surf the Web? Get homework help? Or maybe you just want to curl up with your favorite book and enjoy some peace and quiet. It’s all at your local library, and National Library Week is a great time to come in and see what’s new. Many libraries are holding special promotions this week to celebrate, including guest author appearances, pajama parties, children’s stories, poetry readings, create-your-own-book demonstrations, coffee-donuts-n-books, games, and a host of other programs. Check with your local library for details.

(This public service message brought to you by Mr. & Mrs. Toast!)

In case you missed it

Wednesday, April 5th, 2006

If you happened to be awake this morning at two minutes and three seconds after 1 AM, you experienced a unique moment in history. For it was exactly:

01:02:03 04/05/06

This particular sequence won’t happen again in our lifetimes — at least for another 100 years — so I hope you enjoyed it! However, if you’re a numerologist who gets their jollies on this sort of thing, you still have the following dates to look forward to:

02:03:04 05/06/07
03:04:05 06/07/08
etc., until
09:10:11 12/13/14


(Hat tip to Boris Oglebskii)

Going down

Saturday, March 25th, 2006

I can now add another “first” to my list of life experiences: I got stuck in an elevator yesterday. I had been visiting a sick friend at the local hospital, and stepped into the elevator for what should have been a short trip from the second to the ground floor. After pressing the “1″ button, the doors closed and …. nothing happened. No perceptible movement. I pressed a few other buttons, still nothing. I waited a few minutes, thinking maybe the mechanism was just being slow to respond, but soon came to the conclusion that it was time to summon assistance … so I pressed the “emergency call” button, expecting a reassuring voice on the speaker to ask what the problem is.

Nada. Zip.

Well this is just great, they’re going to find my shriveled corpse in here years from now when someone finally realizes “hey, this elevator hasn’t moved since 2006″.

Seriously, I wasn’t too worried. I’m not claustrophobic, and if I had to choose a location to be stuck in an elevator, a 3-story hospital building would be the second on the list (#1 would be a cookie factory; they could drop cookies through the hole in the ceiling to keep me from starving to death).

Having exhausted the other options, I hit the “alarm” button which at last resulted in a satisfyingly loud bell ringing above my head. A few minutes later, I heard someone outside say “hello?”, who then offered to call the maintenance department after I yelled through the door that I was stuck. Ten more minutes elapsed before the doors were pried open to reveal the elevator suspended halfway between the first and second floors. For a brief moment I recalled the opening scene in “Speed” where Keanu Reeves and Jeff Daniels extract frantic passengers from an elevator trapped between floors just before the car crashes to the ground. (Again, I suppose a hospital is as good a place as any for this to happen.) Fortunately, no such drama ensued. The maintenance guy closed the door and went to the second floor, where he was able to step onto the roof of the elevator and “take manual control”, as he put it, to lower the elevator slowly to the ground.

Stepping into daylight again after my 20-minute adventure none the worse for the wear, I still had a sense of humor about the whole thing. When they asked me if everything was OK, I got all mock-serious and replied, “I only have one complaint.” Pause. Maintenance guys look worried, like I’m about to tell them I want to file a lawsuit or something.

“Why couldn’t you arrange for a beautiful blonde nurse to be stuck in there with me?” Looking relieved, the maintenance men laugh and say, “Maybe next time.”

And don’t forget the cookies either, dammit.

Hug a librarian today

Thursday, March 23rd, 2006

Why would anyone want to be a librarian? Forget the old stereotypes; librarians are all-knowing and all-seeing. They bring order to chaos, and bring wisdom and culture to the masses. They preserve every aspect of human knowledge. They are action heros. Librarians rule, and they will kick the crap out of anyone who says otherwise.

Yes, it takes a special person to be a librarian, and not everyone can measure up. Do you have what it takes? Take the quiz; here’s my results:

Bookstore Employee
You scored 27% on knowledge of librarianship.
You know more than most about library stuff, maybe a lot more, and maybe there’s a library job in your future… You might look the part of a librarian, but you’re not one. Consider joining your local “Friends of the Library” group.
(Link: The Are You a Librarian Test on OK Cupid)

Conan the Librarian