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3.15.02 - Temp Chat!

Yep, it's that time again.  Time to reach out and touch someone.

Read Temp Chat 9 by clicking here!

And hey, have a great weekend!  Seeya Monday.


3.14.02 - Lemme Get This Straight

I'm what you'd call a skeptic.  A skeptical person.  Extremely skeptical.  I'd even go so far as to say I'm the most skeptical person on the planet, but frankly, I don't buy it.

Today, and possibly in future updates, I'd like to explore some beliefs, mysteries, misconceptions, pseudoscience, paranormal and supernatural phenomenon, and other types of bullshit I don't believe in.  (And, although it's probably obvious from the fact that I just used the word "bullshit" to describe these things, I'd like to clarify that when I said "explore" I didn't really mean it.  I'm just gonna scoff and dismiss based on my rudimentary knowledge of such matters.  It's just so much easier than doing research.)


So, we've got astrology.  Basically, the belief that the position of the planets and stars when you are born have huge effect on your life and personality, right?  The sky is divided into twelve sections, and each section has a constellation, and depending on what date you were born, the corresponding constellation totally owns your ass, and the sun and moon and planets pass in front of these constellations which does things to you somehow.

Now.  It's VERY important to know WHERE the planets where when you were born. Like, you should know where EVERYTHING WAS on the EXACT MOMENT of your birth.  For example, let's take a planet, say, Neptune.  Neptune is rising in Sagittarius the moment you are born.  This is SO DAMN important.  Why?  Because Neptune has been waiting for this.  Neptune has nothing better to do than wait for you to be born so it can influence your personality.  For some reason, it doesn't matter where Neptune was WHEN YOU WERE CONCEIVED.  Your NINE MONTHS or so in the womb DOESN'T MATTER.  Neptune doesn't GIVE A CRAP about that.  Neptune just needs to ZAP YOU with a HYPNO-RAY at the moment of your BIRTH so it can CONTROL YOUR LIFE.

Those octuplets who were born whenever that was?  They'll all be exactly the same type of person.  Neptune zapped them all.  And hey, if your labor was induced and you were born a few weeks or days or minutes or even seconds before you naturally would have been, NEPTUNE TOTALLY FALLS FOR THIS.  What a DUMBASS.

I mean, take Pluto, fer cryin' out loud.  It's basically a big hunk of ice out in space.  A hunk of ice!  It doesn't even really qualify as a planet anymore.  But it controls my life.  I have a big hunk of ice in my freezer, why doesn't that affect my personality?  There's an ice-cream parlor across the street, gotta be tons of ice in it, will that influence my love-life?  Oooh, wait, I'm getting a message from a bucket of Rum Raisin right now.  Here comes the message... hang on... here it comes...

HEY, DUMBASS.  You might have HEARD that the stars and constellations aren't even REALLY THERE ANY MORE.  When you see the stars, you're actually seeing A REALLY BIG BROADCAST DELAY.  Like, MILLIONS AND MILLIONS of YEARS.  They've MOVED or BURNED OUT.  A BLACK HOLE maybe ATE THEM or something.  The constellations DON'T EVEN LOOK ANYTHING LIKE THAT NOW.  In fact, they're not even made of GROUPINGS OF STARS, they just look that way FROM OUR PARTICULAR PERSPECTIVE.  Sheesh.

Bermuda Triangle

Here you've got a huge stretch of ocean, like half a million square miles worth of water.  And planes and boats have disappeared into it.  Well, CRIPES.  MUST BE SOMETHING INEXPLICABLE AND MYSTERIOUS WHOA NELLIE.

Hey, guess what!  Boats sink!  Planes fall into the ocean!  You know why they're never seen again?  BECAUSE IT'S THE OCEAN, DUMBASS.

Most of the hoo-hah started in 1945 after five Naval aircraft on a training mission vanished.  What's THAT?  A TRAINING mission?  Maybe they vanished because they were TRAINEES.  As in NOT QUITE ALL THE WAY TRAINED.  Ya think?  Only the lead plane had navigational equipment, the other planes did not, so what do you think might have happened?  A mysterious force abducted them or a supernatural event occurred?  Yep, this mysterious force called GRAVITY and a supernatural event called ME RUN OUT OF GAS IN PLANE.

Look, if you've got a bunch of trainees at McDonalds, and the french fry machine breaks, do you think you're gonna GET YOUR FRIES?  Because YOU WON'T.  NO FRIES FOR YOU, DUMBASS.

Crop Circles

Okay.  Lemme get this straight.  We've got aliens coming to our planet from outer space, yeah?  We're talking about advanced beings, making a trip of thousands or even millions of light-years.  We're talking interstellar space travel, which signifies tremendous intellect and a technological advancement we can't even comprehend.  They have located our planet, and deemed it interesting enough to visit and study.  And when they reach us, across the vast empty blackness of space, what do they do?  They DRAW VAGUE PICTURES IN BARLEY.

Sure.  Sounds reasonable.  I know that eventually humans will master interstellar travel and visit other solar systems and planets.  Perhaps even planets with other life forms on them.  And when we get there, we will have a choice.  We will either observe them without interfering, or we will land somewhere, pop the hatch, and say howdy.  Oh, and I guess we could also SNEAK IN AT NIGHT and DOODLE IN WHEAT PATCHES and then SCAMPER AWAY, GIGGLING.  That's a wise option too.

I also recall speculation that crop circles might be navigational markers, so the visiting aliens know where to land.  Uh-huh.  They can find our planet amongst billions of stars in the inky reaches of space with their incredibly advanced spacecraft, but when they get here they need to use GIANT SYMBOLS MASHED INTO CORNFIELDS to find their way around.  "Y'know, Bleeblebloop, I like going to Earth, but I can never find a parking space.  Can we do something about that?"

Sure.  Right.



3.13.02 - Come Back Tomorrow

So, I have today off from work because the entire staff is going to be in Los Angeles for the day.  And my boss is still going to pay me for the day, he says.

I was so astounded by this event, unprecedented as it is in my temping career, that I just kind of came home and sat in a stupor and didn't write anything.  I'm stunned!

So!  Check back tomorrow, when there will be something here.


3.12.02 - Special Relativity Don't Upset Us

I was taking a little trip down memory lane today, and was a little surprised to find that the lane went about six feet and made a sharp right turn into a brick wall.

I was thinking about school, or trying to, at least.  I was five years old when I started going to school and 17 when I left school, so you'd think I'd have some sort of, you know... memory of it.

Not that I don't remember my friends, and the classes, and the teachers, and the schools themselves.  I remember all that stuff.  I just don't remember much of anything I was taught.  Obviously, I can read and write and speak.  I can name the continents and the planets and a couple major kings and wars.  I learned how to make scrambled eggs in Home Ec.  But shit.  That's about it.

How can this be?  I took French for five years.  FIVE YEARS.  I can't speak French.  I can't read it, write it, or understand it.  Math!  I was never good at math, but I studied it constantly, from probably first grade to twelfth.  I can remember the first grade stuff, adding and subtracting, but that's all.  I took Social Studies for years.  What the hell is a Social Study?  For the love of crap, I took Advanced Placement Physics and passed it (barely), but I can't conjure up one iota of information about it.

This is terribly wrong.  Somehow, I got cheated.  I got cheated out of an education.  So, I'm gonna SIT HERE and WORK until I REMEMBER something, and DAMMIT, YOU'RE ALL GONNA WATCH.

Okay!  I was thinking I should start with some sort of science.  I remember  my science teacher very well, Mr. Benzinger.  How do you forget a name like that?  I even remember the weird way he talked.  His upper lip never moved, but his lower lip did.  In fact, I can still do an impression of the way he talked, which means nothing to you, of course, but if you knew Mr. Benzinger and could see me doing my impression of him, you'd be all "Heh, yeah, that's Mr. Benzinger, all right."

That's where things grow a little hazy.  I remember bunsen burners, which were used to melt Bic pens, and I vaguely remember cutting open a dead frog and attaching a battery to its muscles to watch them twitch, though that may have been during recess.  Either way, I... I just can't remember a damn scientific fact I learned in science class.

Biology... Chemistry... Physics...  Well, hey!  I guess I know this:

Yeah, that's Einstein's, uh... dealie.  Of course, everyone can just say "E=mc²" and pretend they know what it means, but I must have been taught what it meant at some point.  I must have.  And that information has to be in my huge brain somewhere.

I know that E stands for energy, m stands for mass, and c stands for the speed of light.  Energy equals mass times the square of the speed of light.  So... that's... what that's all about.  Glad we got it settled.

But again, what does it really mean?  Welp, I'd better take a crack at solving it or it's gonna be a long night.

Okay.  E=mc² is an equation.  What do I know about equations?  Here we have to go into math, I guess.  The equals sign is important... and... wait, it's coming... I can do whatever I want to one side of the equation, provided I do it to the other side of the equation as well!  Yeah!  I can times it by five, I can bake it for an hour at 250 degrees, I can divide it by Sidney Poitier.  So long as I do it on both sides of the "=", it's legal.  I'm certain that's right, and I'm also certain they wouldn't have taught me that if it didn't help me to solve equations.

So, now we have energy divided by Sidney Poitier equals mass times the square of the speed of light divided by Sidney Poitier.  We're getting somewhere!  Somewhere sciencey!

But what is energy, really?  It's like... it's this stuff... can't create or destroy it... comes from the sun... and maybe other places... like food... and batteries... well, I don't know what energy is.  But!  If we solve the other side of the equation, we'll know what energy equals, which is kinda like knowing what energy is, so that's something.  Something sciencey!

Mass.  Mass is... how much there is of something.  It's sorta like weight, only not, because your weight changes if you're on the moon, but your mass doesn't.  Also, mass increases with velocity, I think.  And, it's proportionate to weight, or vice-versa, or neither.  Well, shit, let's just say mass is the same thing as weight, just to keep it simple.  How much can it really (incoming pun) matter?  Weight, mass, same diff.

I don't have a scale, so let me use something that I know the weight of, like a Quarter-Pounder.  It weighs a quarter of a pound, right?

Okay, things are looking good!  (Although I'd rather use a Whopper, because they're tastier, I'm sticking with the Quarter-Pounder in the interests of science.  Einstein would be proud.)

Now, the speed of light.  Man.  I know light goes really, really fast.  Someone proved it once.  Some smug jerk.  And then I have to square it?  Man, then it'd be going really super fast!  What was Einstein's deal, anyway, light wasn't fast enough for him, he had to go and square it?  What a psycho!  Well, let's just say light goes a kajillion miles per hour, and if you square it, that probably adds, like, a billion or so more miles.  Per hour.

Okay.  We've got our equation ready and put into terms an idiot could understand, so let's solve it!

Light goes a kajillion billion miles per hour if you square it, and then you times it by the burger there, add fries, divide it by a highly respected Oscar-winning Bahamian, and that equals energy, which we also divide by the star of such films as "The Defiant Ones" and "To Sir, With Love."

And that's energy!  Sciencey energy!

Okay, I feel better.  I've got my education back.  Time for a burger.


3.11.02 - Sanitary Conditions

A few site notes:  I added a little box on the left-hand sidebar for Temp Chat, since it's more or less a feature at this point.  Also, I'm only going to run one link a day under Outsourcing on the right-hand sidebar, just to save space.  I'll try to remember to change it every day, though.  And, the interviews from last week are now permanently linked on the Staff page.

I'm planning on starting a new section called Paper Jam this week.  This is going to be sort of a log of my efforts to get myself published somewhere.  I'd like to start seriously submitting articles and essays to a few places, as well as putting together some sort of manuscript for a book.  I mean, Christ, Carol Feltman has a book.  Carol Feltman!  If she can have a book, I can damn well have one.  Anyway, this new section will more of an attempt to motivate myself than to provide interesting content.  I'm just better at getting things done if I know people can look and see how little I'm getting done.

I've also had a hankering to write fiction lately.  I'm not really a short-story guy, so I'm talking about novels, basically.  I have a ton of ideas for novels, but of course I also have the attention span of a housefly with a mild concussion (see above left) and the follow-through of Stephen Hawking in a tennis match (see below right).  So, I'm thinking about a starting a section called Chapter One where I will write the first chapter of a book, then abandon it and write the first chapter of another book.  And so on.  This will be largely pointless.  But fun!

Anyway!  On to the update.

Saturday night, I went over to the little coffee place across the street and read the newspaper.

And before you think I'm some big party-animal socialite or something, I only did that because my DSL went out for a few hours and there didn't seem to be anything to do in my apartment.  Except maybe cleaning HA HA HA yeah so coffee and newspaper it was.

This one article caught my eye.  I mean, with a hook like this:

"An East Palo Alto Sanitary District member's threat to hire a crack dealer to kill a fellow director was simply people "joking after a tense meeting," one official said yesterday."

...who couldn't be intrigued?  Or jealous?  Check this out:

"The hit-man remark by then-board President Belinda Rosales about board rival Samuel Rasheed and another official's quip about getting "a pregnant crack head girl to go beat (Rasheed) up" was captured -- along with belly laughs -- when the official tape recorder was accidentally left running at the end of the Feb. 7 board meeting."

Cripes, the meetings I've been attending recently often center around pregnant crack-heads, but rarely, only rarely, are they suggested as potential assassins.

Rasheed himself, it seems, had in January "flipped off" the mayor during a city council meeting.  And further down in the article we find my favorite quote, (delivered by the same woman who had suggested hiring the junkie hit-man) in response to the mayor-flip-offing antics of Rasheed:

"This isn't the kind of behavior that we want (from a) public official, especially (one) representing the sanitary district," Rosales said during the Feb. 7 meeting. She noted that the board recently stressed the goal of behaving with "a certain degree of professionalism . . . because to some degree we are role models."

Role models.  Ah, yes.  I remember when I was a kid, young and impressionable, gazing with starry-eyed wonder at the sanitary district officials.  They were like gods to me!  I had all their Topps trading cards, even the Edgar F. Rubenstein '76 rookie card!  I recall begging my parents to buy me starched shirts and polyester slacks and clip-on ties, and I would walk around the house with a clipboard, peering into toilets, shaking my head, and mumbling pretend-sanitation terms I had made up.  In my room, I had built a cramped cubicle loaded with paperwork and and file folders and used Styrofoam "coffee" cups.  (I pretended my chocolate milk was coffee!  What a scamp I was!)  I'd stay up long past my bedtime, reading the Department of Public Works' Annual Report under my covers with a flashlight... ah, memories.

Man, I so wanted to be a sanitary district member!  So bad!  The countless city council meetings... the Sewage Treatment Advisory Board conference calls... the glamour.  Oh, the glamour.

Shame on you, Rosales and Rasheed.  Thank God I am an adult now, wise and cynical, and not the naive child who once worshipped you and others like you.  It surely would have crushed me.  Crushed me like so many cubic feet of compacted garbage.


Last Week on Not My Desk!

Alas, Alack, Alarm
Bag Reel
A Hyena ate my Dingo Baby!
Missed Connections

My Desk Archives

Smurf Rescue
Donkey Kong
Space Panic

More VotF

Mary Jo Pehl Interview
Kids Page
The Temp Test


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All material 2000 - 2002 by Christopher Livingston, except for this statement.