Oops. While doing my annual sock washing marathon, I think I used too much bleach. And I can smell bleach all over the place right now. ugh.
Back in fifth grade science class we experimented with ammonia. My stupid friends and I discovered that if you inhale it even slightly, you can feel it going down your throat, and it burns. It was a funny trick to play on people -- "hey, smell this!" while sticking a cup of ammonia under their nose.
It's all fun and games until someone gets permanent dain bramage.
What's up with referrer spam these days? This server has been getting tons of useless hits from spammers with forged referrer strings. For their page-rank-increasing tactic to work, I'd have to have some page that either listed frequent referrers (with links), or a prominently located page that had log stats listing the most common referrers. I used to have webalizer results available, but they haven't been updated and aren't linked anywhere on the server. So, all that traffic that the spammers generate goes to waste. It's a waste of bandwidth and server resources. And there isn't a fool-proof way to easily block them.
Spammers, please die. Thank you.
(I don't mean literally.)
Why are all "romantic comedies" alike? I can't say that I watch many, but they seem so formulaic. The other day I saw Next Stop Wonderland, which isn't awful. But why do such movies always try to say that most of the people (usually guys) in the world are jerks, except for the one person you're "destined" to be with? If everything is in Fate's hands, why does anybody bother dating? Afterall, that's pointless. You'll meet your soulmate when you accidentally run him/her over with your car, or fall out of a window and land on that person, or during some other freak accident. Just wait for it!
If these movies are "chick flicks", that must mean chicks eat this stuff up. But how many can say that they were destined to be with the one they're sitting next to?
At least with science fiction you know that you're supposed to suspend disbelief. I think a lot of girls believe that real life can be as simple as the movies. It's just bad luck that they haven't found their match yet. hmm.
I just realized that usually in these movies there's a nay-sayer like me who denies Destiny, until the very end when they bump into their soulmate on the blue line (just like Next Stop Wonderland). Maybe I should go hang out underground, waiting for the inevitable encounter with true love.
Maybe that's what all the bums on the T are doing....
I really like About Schmidt. I had nothing to do one night, so I watched it on on-demand cable and transcribed Warren Schmidt's letters to Ndugu. I didn't realize how good they were until I spent a lot of time pausing, rewinding, and writing them down. Obsessive? Maybe. Here they are:
My name is Warren R. Schmidt, and I am your new foster father. I live in
Omaha, Nebraska. My older brother, Harry, lives in Roanoke, Virginia with his
wife Estelle. Harry lost a leg two years ago to diabetes. I am 66 years old and
recently retired as Assistant Vice President and actuary at Woodman of the World
Insurance Company...and God dammit if they didn't replace me with some kid who,
alright so maybe he's got a little theory under his belt and can plug a few
numbers into a computer, but I could tell right off that he doesn't know a damn
thing about genuine real world risk assessment or managing a department, for
that matter. Cocky bastard...
Anyway, 66 must sound pretty old to a young fella like yourself. Truth is,
it sounds pretty old to me, too. Because when I look in the mirrors and see
the wrinkles around my eyes and the sagging skin on my neck, and the hair in my
ears, and the veins on my ankles, I can't believe it's really me. When I was
a kid I used to think that maybe I was special -- that somehow destiny had tapped
me to be a great man. Not like Henry Ford or Walt Disney or somebody like that,
but somebody, you know, semi-important.
I got a degree in business and statistics and was planning to start my own
business someday, build it up into a big corporation, maybe make the Fortune 500.
I was gonna be one of those guys you read about. But somehow it didn't work out
that way. You gotta remember I had a top notch job at Woodman and a family to
support. I couldn't exactly put their security at risk. Helen, my wife, she
wouldn't have allowed it.
But what about my family, you might ask. What about my wife and daughter?
Don't they give me all the pride and satisfaction I could want? Helen and I
have been married 42 years. Lately, every night I find myself asking the same
question. Who is this old woman who lives in my house?
Why is it that every little thing she does irritates me? Like the way she
gets the keys out of her purse long before we reach the car. And how she throws our
money away on her ridiculous little collections. And tossing out perfectly
good food just because the expiration date has passed. And her obsession, her
obsession with trying new restaurants. And the way she cuts me off when I try
to speak. And I hate the way she sits and the way she smells. For years now
she has insisted that I sit when I urinate. My promise to lift the seat and wipe
the rim and put the seat back down wasn't good enough for her.
But then there's Jeanie. She's our only. I'll bet she'd like you. She gets a
big kick out of different languages and cultures and so forth. She used to get
by pretty good in German. She'll always be my little girl.
She lives out in Denver, so we don't get to see her much anymore. Sure, we stay
in touch by phone every couple weeks, and she comes out for the holidays sometimes,
but not as often as we'd like. She has a position of some responsibility with
a high tech computer outfit, so it's very hard for her to break away. Recently she
got engaged, so I suppose we'll be seeing even less of her.
The fellow's name is Randall Hertzel. He's got a sales job of some sort. Maybe
Jeanie's a little passed her prime, but I still think she could've done a heck
of a lot better. I mean, this guy's not up to snuff, if you ask me. Not for my
I'll close now and get this in the mail. Here I am rambling on and on,
and you probably want to hurry on down and cash this check and get yourself something
to eat. So take it easy, and best of luck with all your endeavors.
Yours Very Truly,
I hope you're sitting down because I'm afraid I've got some bad news.
Since I last wrote to you, my wife helen, your foster mother, passed away very
suddenly from a blood clot in her brain. The services were lovely and very well
attended. Jeanie came in from Denver with her friend, and folks drove up from
as far away as Des Moines and Wichita. It was a very moving tribute any way you
look at it. I wish you could've been there. But now that all the excitement is
over and the smoke is clear, it's just me and my thoughts, knocking around this
big old house.
I believe I mentioned in my previous letter that I was an actuary at
Woodman of The World Insurance Co. If I am given a man's age, race, profession,
place of residence, marital status, and medical history, I can calculate with great
probability how long that man will live. In my own case, now that my wife has died
there is a 73% chance that I will die within 9 years, provided that I do not remarry.
All I know is I've got to make the best of whatever time I have left. Life is short,
Ndugu, and I can't afford to waste another minute.
Now, I don't want to kid you. Adjusting to life without Helen has been quite
a challenge, but I think you'd be proud of me. Yup, this house is under new
management, but you'd never know the difference. Oh sure, sometimes I can be a
tad forgetful and miss a meal or two, but I guess that's hardly worth mentioning
to someone in your situation. Helen wouldn't want me sitting around wallowing
in self pity, no siree Bob. Why, she'd tell me to shape up or ship out. So I
try to get out as much as I can. Try to stay active, stick to my routine.
That's very important in the face of big changes in life. Oh sure, I'm not quite
the cook Helen was, but I remember a trick or two from my bachelor days.
It's a lot of work keeping a household together, and I suppose eventually I'll
sell the place and move to a little condo. You know, less upkeep and so forth.
But for now I'm getting by just fine.
It occurred to me that in my last letter I might've misspoken and used some
negative language in reference to my late wife. But you have to understand I
was under a lot of pressure following my retirement. I'm not going to lie to you,
Ndugu, it's been a rough few weeks, and I've been pretty broken up from time
to time. I miss her. I miss my Helen. I guess I just didn't know how lucky
I was to have a wife like Helen until she was gone. Remember that, young man.
You've got to appreciate what you have, while you still have it.
How are you? I'm fine. A week or so ago, I decided to take a little road trip
on my way to Jeanie's wedding out in Denver. Jeanie begged me to come out early
and help her with arrangements, but I told her I needed some time to myself.
I decided to visit some places I haven't been to in a long time. So much has
happened in my life that I can't seem to remember. Whole sections in my life
that are just gone. So you might say that I've been trying to clear a few
cobwebs from my memory.
My first stop was none other than Holdridge, Nebraska. I thought it would be
enlightening to visit the house where I was born 67 years next April. We
moved away from Holdridge when I was not much older than you, and I often
wondered what our old house would be like today. Funny, I never forgot the address,
12 Locust Avenue. Yes, sir. 12 Locust Avenue.
An awful lot had changed since my day, but it was still good to be home again.
Very good indeed. Next stop, Lawrence, Kansas, where I paid a visit to my old
Alma Mater, KU. I hadn't been there in years and years, and now seemed like
the perfect time to stop by. I even managed to hook with some kids in my old
fraternity, Beta Sigma Epsilon.
Well, Ndugu, I highly recommend that you pledge a fraternity when you go to college.
After that little walk down memory lane, it was tourist time for yours truly.
I made my way back to Nebraska and stopped in at the Custard County Historical
Museum in Broken Bow to see their fine collection of arrowheads. Later that same
day I happened to meet a real Indian, or Native American, as they like to be
called nowadays. We had a nice chat about the history of the area, and he
really opened my eyes. Those people got a raw deal. Just a raw deal.
Next stop, Buffalo Bill Cody's house in North Platte. What a remarkable man.
You can read about him in the enclosed pamphlet.
I pull the adventure over whenever I feel like stretching my legs, taking
in a local site, or browsing for antiques. The other day, for example, at an
antique store in Cozad I came across a fine collection of rare Hummels. I
guess I never really appreciated how exquisitely crafted they are. And each
one comes with its own certificate of authenticity. Helen loved Hummels.
And so, Ndugu, I must say it's been a very rewarding trip. And this morning
I awoke from my night in the wilderness completely transformed. I'm like a new man.
For the first time in years, I feel clear. I know what I want. I know what I've
got to do, and nothing's going to stop me ever again.
Meanwhile, along with the usual check, I'm enclosing a little something
extra to spend as you please.
Yours Very Truly,
You'll be glad to know that Jeanie's wedding came off without a hitch. Right now
she and Randall are on their way to sunny Orlando. On my nickel of course. As for me,
I'm on headed back to Omaha. I'm driving straight through this time, and I made only
one stop -- the impressive new arch over the interstate in Carney, Nebraska -- an
arch that commemorates the courage and determination of the pioneers that crossed
the state on their way West. You've really got to see it to believe it. And it
kind of got me thinking. Looking at all that history and reflecting on the achievements
of people long ago kind of put things in perspective. My trip to denver, for instance,
is so insignificant compared to the journeys that others have taken. The bravery
that they've shown, the hardships they've endured. I know we're all pretty small in
the big scheme of things, and I suppose the most you can hope for is to make some
kind of difference. But what kind of difference have I made? What in the world is
better because of me? When I was out in denver, I tried to do the right thing, tried
to convince Jeanie she was making a big mistake. But I failed. Now she's married
to that nincompoop, and there's nothing I can do about it. I am weak. And I am a
failure. There's just no getting around it. Relatively soon, I will die. Maybe
in 20 years. Maybe tomorrow. It doesn't matter. Once I am dead, and everyone who
knew me dies too, it will be as though I never existed. What difference has my
life made to anyone? None, that I can think of. None, at all.
Hope things are fine with you.