A note to hikers: I hear there's a gallon of water in every almond, which makes them the most efficient source of hydration you can carry. Here's another great way to conserve water and reduce your carbon footprint. It can take 2,000 gallons of water to grow enough cotton for one pair of jeans. Then factor in the petroleum used to power the planting and harvesting, the transport and manufacture of each bale. What if there was some way to more directly convert crude oil into wearable raiment? What if a polyester doubleknit leisure suit is your greenest garment option?
Monday, April 13, 2015
Most Mondays, I fritter away my 100 words on some ephemeral minutiae or other, stirring up my simmering mental soup to keep the bottom of the brain pan from scorching. Not this week. This week I am a man on a mission. Listen. There is such a thing as the American Pencil Collectors Society. It was founded in Sterling, Kansas, in 1958, and it is open to citizens of all nations. They ask only that you “have a genuine interest in pencil collecting of any kind,” and hand over ten bucks. Ten bucks. I think you know what to do.
Monday, April 6, 2015
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Monday, March 30, 2015
Gene-splicing scientists are working to resurrect the extinct woolly mammoth. Also the thylacine, a sort of marsupial wolf that looked like a stripy skinny dog. Of course, it's not even kind of a dog. All marsupials are more closely related to each other than to any of the mammals to which they bear superficial morphological similarities. They're like us; what ends up shaping you is the niche you occupy. Which, getting back to the mammoth, is why I don't think it's a good idea. Can you imagine anything lonelier than being born 40 centuries after your last relative had died?
Monday, March 23, 2015
Remember the droll signs that used to get tacked up in storefront businesses and diners? They said things like, “Our credit manager is Helen Waite. If you want credit, go to Helen Waite.” Or “You don't have to be crazy to work here, but it helps.” Side-splitting. But there is such a thing as job-specific madness. Military commanders can sit around chatting over beer and pretzels while people are getting maimed and killed on their say-so. Comics feel compelled to expose their social anxiety defenses to drunk strangers. And pedal steel players? They deserve their own chapter in the DSM.
Monday, March 16, 2015
The first president with facial hair was Abraham Lincoln, the last was William Howard Taft. In between, just two were clean-shaven. From 1861 to 1913, only 8 years went by with a whiskerless White House. I assume this reflects the prevailing fashion all over the country during those years. And beards are the thing right now, especially among very young men. Not that little Van Dyke that allows an actor to portray his own evil twin; big Old Testament prophet whiskers on these shiny open unformed faces. Walking into a hipster bar is like stumbling into a bearded lady convention.
Monday, March 9, 2015
Our word amateur comes to us through the French from the Latin amator, from the root amare, to love. So an amateur is somebody who does something for love rather than money. A lot of times we use the word to imply a lack of skill. Certainly, I would hesitate to avail myself of the services of an amateur or “shade tree” dentist. But amateur poems and amateur cooking compare favorably with the output of any credentialed professional. And I gotta tell you, I'd sooner hop in the sack with an amateur than a seasoned pro. Sometimes, enthusiasm trumps expertise.