In Which I Discover A Way To Make A Modest But Respectable Sum Of Money


Something I always get in December is the Peanuts page-a-day calendar. It’s an important piece of organizing my life. How can I confirm to myself all afternoon that I’ve completed the tasks I must do every day or else die or break a streak except by tearing off that day’s colorized reprint of a joke from 1966 that I memorized by the time I was seven? But somehow, through the machinations of fate and whatnot, I forgot to get one this December. And nobody was able to find one for me for Christmas. And the bookstore in town didn’t have any, either. So I had to resort to the thing that still feels weird and alien and exotic and maybe a little too much fuss for me, and buy the thing online.

So here’s what I faced looking at the Peanuts 2018 page-a-day calendar on Amazon. And by the way I trimmed out of this the estimated delivery date, which was that it usually strips “in one to two months”. That is transparent nonsense. What could take two months to get a calendar? I know the production rates of the vast calendar mines of Ecuador and I know how much containerized cargo is shipped from Guayaquil to Los Angeles daily. Even with the traffic difficulties caused by Panama Canal expansion. (The shipping goes through Rotterdam for efficiency’s sake.) The numbers don’t lie. Two months is just a fib. Anyway, don’t worry, the nonsense runs deeper.

Peanuts 2018 Day-to-Day Calendar, by Peanuts Worldwide LLC. 14 new from $7.49. 2 used from $39.59.
They include a full-color comic strip, but of the Monday-to-Saturday strips, which originally ran in black and white. The Sunday strips, which were originally run in color, aren’t included in any way at all.

Somehow — and I put this order in, like, the 3rd of January — someone is selling a used calendar for 2018 for $39.59. In fairness, they don’t say what it’s used for. If it’s used, for example, to scribble down the clues leading to the lost Schulz Treasure, then $39.59 seems pretty reasonable. (The Treasure is what’s left of this stock of ink pens that Schulz really liked, and that he bought the company’s entire stock of when they were discontinuing the model. This may not sound like a lot of treasure, but understand, if you have an art supply you can go up to any artist who draws — including writers or musicians who just doodle while avoiding writing or musicking — demand as much money as they have, and they’ll give it to you. They’ll sulk while they do it, yes, but don’t we all?) But what if it’s not? What if it was used for something more mundane, like, the thing wasn’t even taken out of its box and it was just used to keep a taller calendar from sliding down before someone could thumbtack it onto the wall?

Because if it turns out you can turn a ten-dollar calendar into a forty-dollar calendar just by using it then my entire financial situation has changed. And I’m going to have to have stern words with the version of myself that was asking serious questions about what I needed versus what I would merely like back in 2002 when I was getting out of grad school and preparing to move to Singapore. Because there’s, like, a dozen years of used official Star Trek Starships Of The Line calendars that I just tossed into the bin because they finally seemed to have no value. And don’t doubt that they were used. Every one of them had a little channel individually cut by thumbtack through the paper above the punched-out hole for hanging the things. Many of them also have little strips of manually-added scotch tape attempting to keep December from completely falling off the wall and onto the bare mattress sitting on the bedroom floor. You don’t get much more used than that.

I can’t promise to make every calendar so well used, of course. But I’m sure I could buy some calendars and give them some use. Maybe try to fold out the plastic leg on the back of them that’s supposed to make the calendar stand on its own and doesn’t. Maybe take a date and scribble an illegible note about an appointment nobody can quite make out. What is important to do at 4:45 on Tuesday with Nurl? I don’t know. But every appointment I ever write down is at 4:45 on Tuesday with Nurl. Do you want to miss it? Maybe write out for one of the activity puzzles at least four words you can make from the letters of “resolution”.

Lucy: 'I knew I was right! I knew it! There was a day just like today back in 1935! This isn't a new year at all ... this is a USED year! I'm going to write a strong letter of protest.' Linus: 'Who's in charge of years?'
Or maybe they’re just seeing who remembers the Peanuts from the 11th of January, 1966. Tough to say. It is the sort of needlessly obscure prank I’d play though.

I’m not saying this is going to make my fortune. There’s the up-front cost of ten or fifteen bucks per calendar. But at a per-calendar profit of $25 per this is at least as good an hourly rate as anything else I’m doing. Back in the day, my father made a modest but reliable profit buying, fixing, and selling houses. I’m not competent to do that, but why couldn’t I flip a couple days? It’s only fair.

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Statistics Saturday: Progress Report, 2018


So at least we have this going for us.

Sunday, 0. Monday-Saturday, 1 each.
This is the only day you can post this! And have it be true! Until 2024 anyway. And I knew it was going to be 2024 without doing the actual calculations or checking future calendars because I can’t help it. Calendars get to me that way. Send help.

Source: The Geometry of Physics: An Introduction, 3rd edition. Theodore Frankel.

Also, Twitter is plainly lying to me about this.

Trends for you, taken 6 January 2018. Happy New Year, #Illini, Isaiah Livers, #stablegenius.
There is so much I don’t believe anyone was talking about the afternoon of the 6th of January, and right at the top of my list: LLLini? Really?

Year In Review: Some Mostly Happy Things To See Out 2017


  • Happy Roo Year. A chance for everyone to have quite longer feet, a strong tail, and maybe a pouch.
  • Happy Two Year. Running 2018 simultaneously in two instances, with minor variations in some of the model assumptions, in the hopes that combining the results will allow for a more reliable prediction.
  • Happy Goo Year. In which everyone is a sort of gelatinous mass that nevertheless retains a strong sense of personal identity.
  • Happy New Gear. We all finally put it in second.
  • Happy Rude Year. Allowing the masses to take the opportunity to call for a gentler, more polite society.
  • Hippo New Year. Okay, so when they recorded “I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas” some Oklahoma City-area promoter got the idea to use the popular novelty song as a chance to fundraise for buying singer Gayla Peevey an actual hippopotamus for Christmas which she, not being daft, donated to the Oklahoma City Zoo where it lived for nearly a half-century.
  • Happy New Tier. We take the year up a notch!
  • Happy Ewe Year. In which we finally stop looking down on the sheeple!
  • Happy Two Year. Running 2018 simultaneously in two instances, with minor variations in some of the model assumptions, in order to reflect how this is an even-numbered year after all.
  • Happy Yew Near. Celebrating the proximity of us to various coniferous trees and shrubs.

On This Date: November 24, If You Will


2019. Highly disappointing opening of the canal between the fifth and the second floors of the West Mall in Bukit Batok, Singapore, with critics saying the whole system seems to be “just a slightly large elevator” and “not really better than riding a couple escalators would be”. The complaints are harsh but fair because riding escalators is a really grand thing. If there were some way to fix the problems of having to step onto or off of them then we’d really have something.

2020. The Internet has one of those weird spasms where everybody gets hung up on how the Dreamland amusement park in Margate, Kent, England, was renamed “Benbom Brothers Theme Park” in the 1980s just because that sounds like the name you’d create if you were in the 90s and doing a bad translation of a Japanese RPG. Within 14 hours, it passes, leaving no harm done.

2026. The “Inbox Zero” e-mail productivity fad gives way to the “Inbox Infinity” model as this turns out to be a great deal easier for everyone and their nerves needed it by this point.

2064. Last specific reprinting of Art Buchwald’s column about introducing Thanksgiving to the French, which is a shame since that bit about translating Miles Standish’s name as “Kilometres Deboutish”? That’s solid enough.

2065. Mutual occultation of Venus and Jupiter happens, two days late, following last-minute negotiations when the planets can’t agree about whether it should be the occultation of Venus by Jupiter or of Jupiter by Venus, and a furious debate on the Wikipedia talk page about “Crayons”, where the debate somehow settled in a process people were still trying to explain to their great-grandchildren.

2085. We fix the problem of having to step onto or off of escalators with the invention of shoes that can’t get caught in the teeth of those things but keep you pretty stable when you’re stepping into the belt.

2121. Bigfoot’s job hunt lands him a career as the mascot for the Jersey Devils. He lasts nearly eight years at the post before going on to greater fame as the official public greeter for Baltimore, Maryland (starting the 26th of July, 2129) and sees the Devils to two World Series appearances when their bus gets lost.

2200. The Universal Postal Union agrees that next year shall be 2200: The Gold Edition”, although it will be labelled as “2201” for the sake of not breaking anyone’s database software.

2243. 186th anniversary of the 24th of November, 2057, passes without turmoil but with many people asking “Huh?” and “Why?” and “This is a thing because of why?”

2371. Deep in a star system nearly 75,000 light-years from Earth the locals begin producing a program known as Star Trek: Voyager. It’s purely coincidence, though, as the vastness of the universe and the enormity of the number of peopled worlds and the relatively small number of sounds that are likely to be made into words cause a program that happens to have that name without actually being a remake or continuation of the United Paramount Network classic program. It is in fact a shot-for-shot remake of Star Trek: The Original Series except in this one Lieutenant Uhura gets along great with Elaan, the Dohlman of Elas, and critics say this one little change drastically improves the whole body of work.

2618. After years, maybe a decade, of cruel taunting about what work it does exactly that ‘S’ and ‘K’ don’t do just as well the letter ‘C’ declares it’s had enough and leaves the alphabet. While people are able to carry on mostly fine, what with having both ‘S’ and ‘K’ there, it does leave words such as “church” pretty well stuck. The letter ‘J’ steps up to remind everyone that it could totally do the hard ‘ch’ sound, and is told to sit down because it’s done “so much already” and is really appreciated “right where it is” by letters that are rolling their eyes.

4211. No end of discussion about the way the dates of the year line up, if you’re in the United States, and a lot of arguing that the United States way of listing the dates is just stupid and dumb and wrong. By the time it’s over very few people are still talking to each other. It’s a good way to figure out who you need to stop interacting with, though. Consider it.

Statistics Saturday: Least-Likely Dates For (US) Thanksgiving


  1. November 17th
  2. November 31st
  3. Kevin’s Birthday (Kevin was born in February)
  4. November 9th
  5. Maundy Thursday
  6. The Feast of St Ailbe
  7. The New Jersey Big Sea Day (second Saturday in August, Manasquan, New Jersey)
  8. November 0x2AAth
  9. Black Friday
  10. Other Kevin’s Birthday (Other Kevin was born in December)
  11. It’s not tomorrow is it? We can’t go to the farmer’s market today, it’s going to be madness!
  12. September 4, 476 AD

On This Date: November 17, If You Like


765. Date of the historical incident believed to have inspired, in distorted form, the fable of Jack the Giant-Killer, when seven flies were indeed killed in one blow by a giant rampaging through a middle-Uressexshire hamlet. Less famously the incident is also credited with creating the village of Flattstone-Under-Stompenhedge. It’s a little baffling how the story ended up like we know it today. Most historians of legend suspect “political satire around the time of the Commonwealth or Restoration”. But we’ll admit that’s their answer to everything.

797. Kanmu, Emperor of Japan, changes his residence from Nara to Kyoto but the student loan people find him anyway.

1602. Birth of Agnes of Jesus, who’d go on to become a nun in what seems like typecasting but there you go. Sometimes you just know what your course is in life.

1777. The Colonial Congress sends the Articles of Confederation to the British Parliament for ratification in a deliberately-arranged “accident” that both sides fail to use as a chance to apologize and try to come to some reasonable settlement of the whole matter. It ends up making everybody feel eight percent more awkward.

1810. Sweden declares war on the United Kingdom in order to start the Anglo-Swedish War, since it seems like a shame to have such a snappy name for a war and nobody declaring it or anything. The war ends two years later when they notice everyone’s been so happy with the stylish name and the idea of Sweden and the United Kingdom being at war that nobody ever bothered to fight the other side, and that isn’t even my joke.

1858. Day zero of the Modified Julian Day scheme so that’s why your friend who does all this database stuff with dates is staring wistfully out the window and wondering why we have to have a February even today. We do not; we have a February in-between January and March.

1869. The Suez Canal successfully links the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea. Backers fail to reach their stretch goal of connecting the Mediterranean with either the Pacific Ocean, the Baltic Sea at Brunsbüttel, or Albany, New York. But they’re happy with what they did achieve and give out some commemorative coasters.

1933. The United States recognizes the Soviet Union.

1935. The United States recognizes the Soviet Union a second time when Guatemala explains how the two of them used to stand at the window outside the League of Nations building in Geneva staring inside and sometimes putting pickles from the burger stand down the way onto the window to see if they’d freeze in place there.

1946. Last use of a Murphy bed except in a black-and-white sitcom.

1952. Soap magnate Dr Emanual Theodore Bronner, serving his jury duty obligation for the civil court, is asked whether he is familiar with the law regarding trees and shrubs which overhang the property line. Both sides’ attorneys excuse him 36 seconds later. He finishes the first of many extremely considered sentences about the matter in December, and his whole thought about fallen branches by 1954 (estimated).

1961. The United States recognizes the Soviet Union again, but pretends to stumble and have to fiddle with its shoelaces a couple minutes while they pass on the sidewalk.

1973. One of the most successful weight-loss plans of the 70s gets started when Eater’s Digest publishes this compelling bit of reasoning. The reasoning: you can burn off more calories simply by going about your business while wearing weights. But what is fat except excess weight? And, better, weight that you can’t take off even if you want? Therefore simply by walking or standing or breathing or sleeping on your chest you’re burning off excess calories, thereby causing yourself to lose weight on the whole deal. And therefore being fatter is the quickest way to being thinner and, therefore, being overweight doesn’t exist and within two years everybody is.

2015. ‘Bob and Bert’ create the only podcast advertisement ever recorded that makes listening to the podcast sound appealing or desirable or even something other than just a bit of sadness. After the successful advertisement their Wheeler-and-Woolseycast releases one more episode, then misses four months for an unannounced hiatus, returns with a 15 minutes apology and explanation that it’ll be two months before they get back to their twice-a-month-schedule, and then never be heard from again.

Statistics Saturday: What The Days This Week Have Felt Like


Day Felt Like
Sunday Sunday
Monday Monday
Tuesday Weeping
Wednesday Thursday
Thursday Friday
Friday A Pillow Full Of Bunny Kisses
Saturday Take-Out From The Chinese Place With The Fake Vegetarian Chicken So Good You Kind Of Don’t Want To Check If It’s Real Chicken And They’re Just Lying

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index rose another sixteen points as investors decided that the week has just gone that well, what with having the gridiron thing explained and how the water bill turned out to be just exactly what everyone figured so they don’t have to worry about it being too high or suspiciously low.

291

In Which I Apologize For Messing Up All of Time


Yeah, so, it’s my fault. I’m sorry. That thing where we all went around all day Wednesday thinking it was Thursday? And a whole bunch of Thursday thinking it was Friday? That was me. I messed up somehow and took two days off my Peanuts page-a-day calendar. I don’t know how. I’m usually good about this, taking one day off per day lived. I haven’t got any excuse and I apologize for having everyone’s sense of what day it is messed up. I’d like to make it up to everyone by leaving it on Saturday/Sunday for an extra couple days but I know deep down that would just make everything worse. Best I can do is spread the word, let people know why all this is going on, and we’ll get back to normal as we can manage. I mean normal for us.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

So one of the traders asked why football fields don’t draw the cross lines, the way they used to in really, really old photographs, back when you could understand why they called it a “gridiron”. And I said it because of wartime paint rationing the cross lines were dropped, and everyone liked that so well they stuck with it even when peace returned and anybody could get as much white paint as they wanted. And that’s satisfied everybody so much that the index rose thirteen points and the trading floor is in a great mood. And now I’m worried about, like, what if I was right and that’s why they don’t draw the grid lines in anymore?

275

Statistics Saturday: The Ides Of April, This Century


Times I Have Been Ready To Inform Someone In Casual Conversation That The 15th Is Not The Ides Of April, The 13th Is 17
Times The Conversation Has Ever Come Remotely Near This Topic 0
Times A Comic Strip I Read Has Used This As The Base For A Joke 2
Times I Noticed In Time To Comment On This In A Timely Fashion 0

Plus is the 15th even the Income Tax Filing Deadline in the United States anymore? It seems like it’s always bumped to like the 18th of April or the 44th of May or the 216th of Freaking October anymore. I don’t know. And yeah, the ides are the 13th day of a 30-day month, plus February, and anyway the Romans listed days as counting down to the next big calendar event day, so that the 15th of April would be “17 Kalend May”, which everyone understood to be part of April, not May, and also they sometimes slipped an extra month in between the 24th and the 25th of February. This is why the Emperor Vespasian was never able to get his programmers’ database software to handle dates correctly. Neither can we.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index rose another point while wait, that thing in the Chocolate Swamp is named Gloppy? Also there’s a Chocolate Swamp in Candy-Land? We thought it was the Molasses Swamp? Or are there multiple swamps? Did it change? What is this? What are things? What is changing? Why?

135

Statistics Saturday: February 2017 In Review


1: 11. 2: 10. 3: 1. 4: 1. 5: 1. 6: 1. 7: 1. 8: 1. 9: 1.
You don’t want to know how many times I counted this over in my head while working this out in the shower. OK, it’s a number starting with ‘3’.

Source: Time’s Pendulum: The Quest to Capture Time — From Sundials to Atomic Clocks, Jo Ellen Barnett.

1: 3. 2: 3. 3: 3. 4: 3. 5: 3. 6: 3. 7: 3. 8: 3. 9: 2. 0: 2.
You don’t want to know how many times I counted this over in my head while working this out in the shower. OK, it’s a number ending with ‘3’. Don’t think I didn’t keep going back and forth about whether to put ‘0’ at the start or the end.

Source: Advertising and the Transformation of American Society, 1865 – 1920, James D Norris.

Sunday: 4. Monday: 4. Tuesday: 4. Wednesday: 4. Thursday: 4. Friday: 4. Saturday: 4.
You don’t want to know how many times I counted this over in my head while working this out in the shower. OK, it was ‘1’. But I’m still thinking whether I should have redone this to put a border around the plot like I did above and don’t think that isn’t going to bother you from here on in.

Source: Labor and Capital In 19th Century Baseball, Robert P Gelzheiser.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

Two more points up and we’re still attributing this to the new pens even though we lost one somehow between setting it down on the table and then getting out a pad of paper and sitting at the table and how does that even make sense? Well, still. New pens. And we have them.

107

Statistics Saturday: Friday the 13ths, 2017


Also you have no idea how compelling I found it as a kid that January and October started the same day of the week, as did February and November, unless it was a Leap Year in which case January started the same day as July and February the same day as August. Once more, in retrospect, I understand why everyone in middle school treated me that way.

Source: The Bill James Baseball Abstract, 1986 Edition.

Based on current projections.

Not valid on the Julian calendar.

Does not account for “Mercedonius”, the occasional 22-day month the Romans would sometime stick in the middle of February because they really did not have a clear handle on how to design a good calendar. I mean, they managed to screw up the rule of “leap year every four years” and it took more than a decade before anyone realized, and that isn’t even my joke.

Not counted: all appearances of King Friday The 13th during the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood marathon as I could not find when that’s scheduled.

For 2017: January 1, February 0, March 0, April 0, May 0, June 0, July 0, August 0, September 0, October 1, November 0, December 0.
You suppose we’ll ever get a month that’s nothing but Fridays the 13th? It seems like there’s a lot of room for expansion there. I mean other than November 2016.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index dropped a point today and everyone is hailing it as proof that a sensible diet and regular exercise work.

95

How My Week Is Starting


Well, I wrote down the day of the week and it came out “Thursday”. I wrote down the day of the month and it came out “22nd”. I wrote down the month and it came out “September”. And the year? That turned out to be “2016” because remember that? Yeah. So in that big flaming pile of fantastic wrongness I just have to ask: wait, was the 22nd of September a Thursday last year? … It was. How the heck did I get that right?

I did not get stuff wrong on my mathematics blog where I talked about comic strips, which is a different thing from when I talk about comic strips here on my humor blog, somehow. I think.

And how is your late-September working out?

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The Another Blog, Meanwhile index dropped … no, wait it didn’t. I’m sorry. The index rose … oh, no, wait, it didn’t do that either. Well, it did a little of both, but it did just as much of both, so it ended up where it began, is what I’m saying. I think? Maybe everybody took off to commemorate Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. They should have. But they should’ve said something about that, too. Nobody tells me enough anymore. It’s all mysterious, that’s what I’m saying.

98

I Got Nothing


I confess: I’m doing a terrible job Christmas-shopping this year. Oh, the big item was easy enough. Just go down to the Christmas store and pick out one December 25th and arrange to have it delivered. I got the Sunday model this year. As a kid I was always torn between whether Sunday or Monday Christmases were the best. A Monday Christmas had the great fun of Advent being as short as it could be, plus, going right from the 4th Sunday of Advent services Sunday morning straight to Christmas Eve mass in the evening. But with a Sunday Christmas you get to burn the Advent candles for the whole fourth week. In hindsight I understand why everyone treated me that way in middle school.

But past arranging to have a Christmas it’s been a rough time thinking what to get people. I blame myself. I went through a stretch last decade where I gave everybody calendars all the time because, hey, who doesn’t need large pieces of paper with a grid of numbers on them? Sure, we all do. Page-a-day calendars are great because my father could get all way to January 17th before forgetting to look at the Far Side of the day. Month-by-month calendars are great because they don’t make any sense.

I mean, you maybe don’t remember what day it is, but put up a sheet of paper with up to 31 plausible candidates for the month and suddenly you’re able to keep it straight. If that doesn’t keep you up nights wondering how that screwed-up bit of psychology works maybe it will now. I’m assuming you aren’t one of those people that crosses off a date once it’s been used and if you are don’t tell me. It’ll force me to lead a rescue expedition for your calendars and I might grab your paperback books just to make sure you don’t crack their spines and I already have enough paperback books in the basement that it’s sunk two feet from where it started.

Despite calendars’ unquestionable properties as useful things that can be given I sensed I’d reached my lifetime limit for giving them. I got to hearing sharp jokes about them, and by jokes I mean sticks, and by hearing I mean “being jabbed in the belly”, and by “about them” I mean “from family members who are not going to start reading Rob Harrell’s Big Top no matter how much I’m sure they would like the January 22nd one”. Put that sentence back together and see if it doesn’t make sense. I’ll wait.

I can tell you what I want to give people. I just don’t know that it exists. But we saw the TV broadcast of the Silver Bells parade from last month. It was mostly like what being at the event was, except we weren’t being rained on while watching the rebroadcast. As the program went on you could see and hear more and more rain pouring down. The rain got to drowning out the news anchors trying to tell us which high school marching bad was doing Jingle Bell Rock [*]. I mean the sound of the rain, but then the rain got even more drown-y and they had everyone flee the parade. Thing is the last minutes of the broadcast —

Someone running through the rain-soaked street that would otherwise be a parade.
Silver Bells 2016: I’m still getting water out of my boots. I maybe need new boots. They’re not draining through the holes fast enough anymore.

Well. They left the camera running, but didn’t have any audio. They switched to playing something that wasn’t quite any identifiable Christmas carol. It was what you probably get when Santa puts you on hold. And through all this they showed people running desperately across the streets trying not to drown in the rain. After a couple minutes of that they gave up entirely and put a text crawl on-screen explaining that unfortunately severe weather forced the abandonment of the parade, but it was still a fantastic experience. The text crawl, the not-quite-music, the images come together to look like the tag scene where the war movie tells you how many of the battalion ever saw home again. And they’re looking forward to next year!

Anyway if they sell this on DVD I’m giving that to everybody I know, possibly every year for the rest of my life. I can do that now. Most of my family now lives in other states, well outside of stick range.

[*] Fewer than we expected but the parade did get cut short.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The Another Blog, Meanwhile index did not lose eight points over the course of the day. Instead it distributed eight points to some lucky readers. Could it be you? Check under your seat — not now, wait for it — and see if you have a point there. OK, now look!

108

Why Grand Strategy Games Take Seven Freaking Years To Learn How To Play


From about the second tutorial screen to Europa Universalis: Rome, a grand strategy game variant I bought when it was on sale and only just got around to now that I got the mothership game done one time. And depending on how wide a screen you’re looking at this on it might be hard to see what I’m pointing to, so you might want to click on the image until it’s big enough you can read the text easily.

A panel tries to explain the menu bar items. There's four items in a vertical list, and they're connected to the horizontally-arranged items by thin white lines, most of which intersect each other. And the lines don't end at the correct points on the menu bar. Three of them point to *other* menu bar items not matching what's described in text.
I’m sure the interface won’t be any harder to understand than the ancient Roman calendar, in which you might specify that today was, say, the 22nd of June by declaring it was the “tenth day to the kalends of July”, or how you’d say that the 12th was the “first day to the ides of June”, because the ides are the 13th in most months and the 15th in a couple of months. And sometimes they’d just throw in an extra month between the 24th and 25th of February because what the heck, why not, and I’m not even making that up.

And I am just awestruck by the multiple levels of failure involved with this screen. I would like to know how they overlooked a few ways to make this even better, such as:

  • Make the text dark grey on a slightly less dark grey background, possibly one with a lot of very dark grey cross-hatching.
  • When you pause or unpause the game, have it shriek.
  • Make the images less directly representative, like, instead of a pile of coins for the treasury and money use a pile of salt, represented by a bottle of soy sauce, which can be quite high in salt; or perhaps represent research with a plain footlong hot dog.
  • Set the screen to occasionally strobe, and in the midst of the strobing effect, have the computer grab some manner of blunt instrument and poke you in the ribs with it, then punch you.

So in summary, I would like to note that when one of the trilithons making up Stonehenge fell in 1797, a report in the Kentish Gazette placed blame for the fall on the burrowing of rabbits undermining the wonder. (Pages 39-40). Thank you.

Statistics Saturday: When In The Month I Change The Monthly Calendar


Month Day I Remember To Change The Calendar
January 1
February 2
March 5
April 12
May 16
June 3
July 19
August September 1
September 6
October 2
November 13
December 11

From The April 2016 Scraps File


Bits from my scrap file that I couldn’t use in April 2016. Free to good home. No pedigree available on metaphors. Papers available upon request but don’t ask me to whom.

When I say it makes my hair look “good”, I mean it looks good enough for me. By “enough” I mean there’s room for obvious improvement. By “improvement” I mean a general bettering-ness of things. By “me” I mean the same old person I meant last time, only a little older. — Cut because I could swear it’s a Robert Benchley thing and while I would get away with it, I would know. And by “know” I mean “know”. By “I” I mean “me”, but in a different case.

seeming like it might be — Man, again I have this cropping up everywhere. I’m not even trying to write it, it just appears.

And then the label on the pumpkin can says “Good to connect! Visit us at LibbysPumpkin.com”. — Cut from the pumpkin can label because E M Forster rose from his grave to warn me that this was not even in the slightest what he meant. “It’s a can of pumpkin innards,” he said, “What could you possibly have to talk to anyone about that? There is no elaboration possible! Pumpkin innards are a complete explanation of themselves!” On hearing this, the ghosts of René Magritte and Alfred Korzybski got a heated quarrel going about whether a pumpkin was a sufficient representation of a pumpkin. They’ve been going at this since last Saturday and I would say I’m sorry to have got the whole thing started. Except that as a side effect Forster and the ghost of Marshall McLuhan have been watching my Arrested Development DVDs. You wouldn’t think that’s the kind of show someone could riff on, Mystery Science Theater 3000-style. They don’t, not exactly. But their commenting’s got pretty sharp stuff anyway. Also the ghost of Korzybski has been in the dining room giving those “I’ve got my eyes on you” fingers to our picture of Immanuel Kant.

Nutmeg was supposedly so powerful it could bring things back to life, which makes it weird they’d use it to cover the taste of rotted meat. Would you want a slab of rotten mutton or whatever they ate in the 16th century coming back to life? But I understand scholars don’t believe Europeans were covering the taste of rotted meat anymore anyway. That makes more sense to me. Spices needed years to get from the East Indies to, say, Sheffield. Animals were right there. It’s much more plausible if Europeans used fresh meat to cover up the taste of rotted spices. — Cut from that time-in-New-Jersey essay because I’m not sure where I got that bit about nutmeg curing death. I’m pretty sure I read it in Giles Milton’s Nathaniel’s Nutmeg: Something Something Or Other Something Spice That I Just Bet You Changed The World but I don’t know where my copy is. And maybe Giles was having a little giggle with us all. If anyone knows him please ask and let’s find out. Also I really thought that time-in-New-Jersey post would get more interest from the standards-enthusiast community here. Go figure.

But then a fantastic arrogance has always been your truest métier. — Cut from that letter I’m still working on to that estranged friend because I am getting to wonder what exactly I ever got out of that friendship.

Ghostbusters became a thoroughly enjoyed icon of pop culture despite the warning that it was a years-in-development labor of love by Dan Aykroyd. — Snipped when I remembered there are already plenty of opinions about Ghostbusters on the Internet and that doesn’t mean I have to have one too.

Cartoon Characters That Have Been Caught In Giant Snowballs Rolling Down Mountains. — Cut from a potential Statistics Saturday post when I realized I couldn’t name all that many. There’s ThunderCat Lion-O, of course. Also Betty Boop. But after that? I would guess it’s happened to Bugs Bunny. And probably on Hanna-Barbera’s 1960s series Character Who’s Got One Catchphrase And A Bow Tie And That Will Have To Do For 17 Episodes. I guess Breezly and Sneezly. But that’s not a list. That’s a partially baked idea and there’s no sign that the Magritte-Korzybski quarrel will heat it well enough to finish.

Another Mystery From The Back Side Of The Peanuts Page-A-Day Calendar


So among the bonus content that’s put on the back of my Peanuts Page-A-Day calendar, instead of the Sunday strips and pages for Sunday as a day on the calendar that I would think was the main content, was this:

Groaners: World’s Best Bad Jokes And Puns

A man walking with his friend says, “I’m a walking economy.”

His friend replies, “How so?”

“My hairline is in recession, my stomach is a victim of inflation, and both of these together are putting me into a deep depression.”

And I’m stuck wondering: who’s the joke supposed to appeal to? Never mind why it’s supposed to make me feel better about the price of the calendar and it not having Sundays. I get a kid finding it funny that older men might lose their hair and get fat, since that really is no end of merriment. But then the language throws you off. To a teen? Isn’t the hoary old joke structure too old-fashioned to amuse someone of that age? To a young adult? Why would they be buying a comic strip page-a-day calendar? To a middling adult like me? The time that joke would’ve amused me is long since passed, and the joke structure would need someone at least as skilled at delivery as a minor Muppet to work at all. To an actual adult like my parents? They’ve never gotten in a page-a-day calendar past the 12th of January. Why are they going to the effort to put a joke like that on the back of the calendar page? They could be putting trivia about the day that nobody will see until they next day when they tear today’s page off the calendar, instead.

Where Things Stand At The Start Of The Month (March)


First, we got a lot of snow in on Thursday. Over the weekend, under temperatures of as much as 125 degrees (avoirdupois) it melted. Every bit of it, except for those mounds of neutron snow in the parking lots and right where the garbage bin goes for collection. But those are special cases, because those mounds of snow are fortified and will last through to August anyway. If we limit ourselves to the normal snow made of the melting kind of snow, it all melted by yesterday. Today, it snowed. I feel like we’re not getting anywhere. I took one of those giant coffee mugs, the kind you get at slightly hipster coffee shops, and filled it with miso soup and set it out for the ice phoenix, since it’s been frolicking up something fierce for a storm like this to happen.

Not only did nobody recklessly speak of the “ides of February” as though they might be the 15th of the month, but nobody even brought up the question about whether Leap Day is actually the 29th of February. So I couldn’t go on a big tear about how it might technically be the 25th of February unless you’re from certain countries formerly ruled by the United Kingdom in which case it’s totally the 29th. What’s the fun in that?

I have still not read about the history of socks.

I need a shovel.

Leapt Day


Ah, the 29th of February. Without it February can totally fit into exactly four neat little rows of the calendar. Not often. It did in 1981, exciting the young me. Otherwise it takes five rows of the calendar without quite filling them, the way most months do most of the time. And isn’t that boring? But then sometimes it’s a leap day and that extra day means February can’t fit in four weeks no matter what. Like in 1976 or, if you want to start the week on Monday, 1988. That extra day spoils this wonderful compact four-row thing that February could have going for it. And doesn’t February need more things going for it? Yes, certainly it does.

What I’m saying is that in middle school I couldn’t get the Dungeon and Dragons clique to play with me. Or even acknowledge my existence. It’s possible there wasn’t even one, just so they could be sure I wouldn’t show up and bring stuff like this to them. Ay me.