My December 2015 Scraps File


I have a longer-than-usual file of scraps for December 2015. I blame the season. Most times of year there’s nothing to do but write stuff, find that it doesn’t work, and then get rid of it. But the Christmas season puts all kinds of extra demands on one’s time. You have to go shopping for loved ones, for example, and the lines to get a loved one at even a discount department store turn something fierce.

Oh, you can order a loved one online, but that almost never turns out well. Many’s the family that thought they were getting a beloved great-aunt shipped by way of Amazon or Etsy. And then they find, when unwrapped, that it turned out to be a great-ant. It would be hundreds of feet tall and would rampage through picnics dozens of times the size of humans. Except, of course, that due to the square-cube law the colossal land animal can’t support its own weight. It flops over helpless, unless it’s right next to a large body of water.

But wait, you cry, immersion in water would not help an ant hundreds of feet tall. The respiratory system of the ant couldn’t draw in enough air through the surface tension of the water. Ah, I say, you’re forgetting this is a giant ant, while the water is normal-sized. Surface tension at this scale is irrelevant to the ant’s needs. But wouldn’t that just as well disrupt the capillary action that’s relevant to ant respiration?

Also, what are we doing talking about ant respiration? When we said the words “ant respiration” and maybe “capillary action” we exhausted our knowledge of the subject. We would be better off talking about something either of us knows. I could offer stuff I’ve learned from reading two popular histories of containerized cargo vessels. You could offer whatever it is you’re doing with yourself these days. And this is exactly the sort of thing that would go in the scrap file, waiting to be put to a productive use, by someone else because I sound completely daft.

I hate to think who it’d be useful for. I suppose someone setting up an online service matching people to their perfect rampaging giant monsters. It’s a great potential service. Most of us go about our lives never knowing what would be the giant rampaging monster best-fitted to our lifestyles. Not everybody needs giant ants. Some folks go for your classic Japanese rubber-suited monsters, sure. But there must be people whose lives would be complete if they were stomped on by an enormous blue-tongued skink. I don’t mean “complete” as in “over”, because you could say that about anyone. I mean how do you know what you would do if rampaged upon by a gigantic skink?

I would waste all my time trying to take a photograph of its tongue. I know because I was at the zoo recently and they had a non-giant blue-tongued skink which was not rampaging. And what do you know but its tongue is blue? So I tried to take a picture of it because, hey, blue tongue. Except that my camera’s slow, and I’m slow. And between the time when the skink started sticking out its tongue, and my noticing, and my hitting the button, and the camera focusing, and taking a picture, the skink would finish sticking out its tongue and go off to get a hot cocoa (it was chilly out) or to check its Twitter account or to see if there’s a village of regular ants it could rampage for.

So I feel confident saying what I’d do if confronted by a rampaging giant blue-tongued skink. I would waste the experience remembering that there’s a “burst” mode on my camera. And something that takes several pictures a second would you’d think but be wrong get its tongue in view, if I could figure out how to get it into that mode. There’s even a high-speed burst mode that takes even more pictures per second. But I took my camera out of burst mode when a guy at the Cedar Point amusement park offered to take a picture of my love and I in front of the Midway Carousel. He held his finger down on the button.

The result is an estimated 642 pictures of us standing with increasingly nervous grins on our face in front of the carousel. The sequence ends with my reaching towards the camera lens with my most common facial expression. That’s the look of “my interacting with people has caused things to go wrong but I have no way to fix that without interacting even more with people”. So I took the camera out of burst mode and have it seems forgotten how to use it since. I’d be spending the whole giant rampaging blue-tongued skink attack (remember that?) trying to find where that mode even is. I needed about ten minutes at the zoo and by that time the skink was all tongue-flickered out.

Looking back on this, I guess I was too busy to actually list any of my scraps from December 2015. And what was I busy doing? Tuning in to the satellite TV’s various Christmas music stations at midnight and 3 am (Eastern) to see which ones were going off the air which days. I’m sorry for all the bother. Well, if you can use anything here, do. Enjoy.

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Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there.

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