Bad Timing

Dark and stormy nights don't care what time it is. It was a dark and stormy night. The fancy lamp timer programmed with sunrise and sunset times for the entire year provided a sense of invulnerability in the predawn world of carelessly placed objects, but there were no clouds in the morning.

Next time I'm at the hardware store, I think I'll get one of those old-school light sensors. I like clichés as much as the next guy, but breathing through my mouth gives me a sore throat.

How did they pack so much gauze in my nose? That's the real mystery.


Prefeeding Announcements

From plaintive beeping to catcalls. With its colorful language and an attitude to match, nothing says "feed me" like the parroted expressions of a poorly trained kitchen appliance. Using synthetic speech as an excuse, yesterday's plaintive beepings have been transformed into exactly the sort of ear-popping dialogue predicted by past futurists, most of whom were ignored until it was too late to do anything but roll our eyes at their alarmist tactics.

Unlike eating in reverse, feeding forward ensures a steady supply of verbal nutrients when the cupboard is bare, or in poor taste. While feedback in the drive thru only amplifies the botched orders and disorders of life in the fast lane, feedforward neatly neutralizes the howling vowels and glottal slop that even the most refined parrot may learn to ape. This leaves open a channel of communication between the lost and the lonely, and indeed any marginalized group with the desire to reach out and touch the add-to-cart button.

Tonight, when you can't sleep because your microwave is making suggestive comments to your parrot, who only responds with porn-film clichés, remember that your return privileges are every bit as valid at Amazon as they were at the brick-and-mortar outfit that sold you the loutish appliance, when it was weak, and needed a friend.


A Diminutive History

Too small to feel the sting of the cloying crowd. Recent discussions of fairytale livesand the characters who inhabit themare reason enough to question the real meaning of family, and how many dwarves can be comfortably accommodated in a foyer that was never zoned for the business at hand, namely, waiting for so-and-so to wake up and smell the coffee.

While it seems obvious that the fates of the seven outweigh the fate of the one, such a formulaic solution is of little value when applied to Watery, Coughy, and Dimple, the missing dwarves long thought to have emigrated to the coastal regions of Saskatchewan, but who had, instead, fallen in with a nomadic tribe of Philadelphian beekeepers, thus affording them a measure of immunity from the cloying crowd and their stinging remarks.

Further unscrewing the lid of historical fact, it seems the trio had been adopted by Punzle, a barista from the heel of France, whose maternal instincts were honed by the blended aromas issuing from her grandfather's beard, where the beans were kept. The three had spent their formative years hidden beneath Punzle's towering hairpiece, thus giving rise to lies and legends surrounding the true underpinnings of her beehive, while generating the sort of media buzz that only a stage mother could love to hear.

Though the meteoric rise of the trio's biological brothers is the stuff of legend, the legendary stuffing distributed by Watery Culinary Supply would go on to grace the turkeys of many, while Dimple ruffled their feathers with extraordinary renditions of cold cases, hot mustard, and their combined effect on the gastric stability of jurisprudence on the international stage.

As for Coughy, the trail goes cold somewhere in the backwoods of Kentucky, but not before he's rumored to have invented the Portabilly, a mechanical contrivance designed to quicken the pace of progress on the uphill sides of mountains too steep to climb without the aid of a local porter. Even the most clear-eyed Sherpa can't be expected to see the forest through a mule's bulky load of glamour shots, but that doesn't mean he should ignore the buzzing in his backpack.


The Cowardice of Disabling Java

Turing, Custer, and Java, together at last. It's possible that recent advisories regarding Java-based jitters overamplify our habituated dependence on oracles and similarly mystical overstimulation, but blaming the messenger for haphazard code is a bit like blaming cold-filtered coffee for our inability to sleep off the effects of an all-night hacking binge. Sure, it's tempting to simply disable the source of our insomnia, but one disability leads to another, until everyone is self-medicating at the local coffee shop instead of facing their symptoms head on, as Turing intended.

Unlike throwing the baby out with the bathwater, disposing of pre-owned coffee isn't grounds for prosecution, but that doesn't make it any less useful when the afternoon doldrums begin their incessant pounding. Clearly, a pound of used java is worth two in the unplugged coffeepot, which is where the whole idea of disabling it goes terribly wrong.

The proof of this lies in the region below and slightly east of the sternum, where the effects of such a brouhaha are most pronounced. Simply put, those who don't have the stomach for strong coffee and bricked computers shouldn't be allowed to vote.

I think that's what Custer was really trying to say.


The Track Less Travelled

Mining the train of thought. Blame loco motives for greasing the wheels that squeak, mouselike, above the caverns where coal blossoms grow. There, free from the pressures thrust upon their multifaceted kin, they live in monklike isolation, feeding on koans and comics with only the occasional canary to interrupt their scholarly pursuits.

When the mood is right, they shift to the left, swaying to the rhythm of the rails that run amok in their haste to make waste, for smog is seldom carbon-neutral in any botanical sense.

When the mood is in the seventh house, it's understood that harvest time has come. All that blossoms is not gold, but that's no reason to take chances during an identity crisis. Bags packed and passports at the ready, no 'niners are going to shovel their dreams away this time.

No sir.


Stairs in a Hurry

Pity the poor staircase. Where do the stairs go when they don't go anywhere at all? Downtrodden, the static staircase has little to be thankful for. Go ahead, walk all over me. That's what the staircase says. Upstairs? Downstairs? What does it matter? Direction is futile.

In its next life, the staircase wants to be an escalator. Pardon me if I stare, but those are some dynamic steps you have there. Stairs in motion. Stairs with a purpose. That's what people will say to the staircase in its next life.

I don't think elevators want to be reincarnated.


The Gumline of Sustainable Agriculture

Eh bwa. We ur stik peepul. We ar smrt. Brushing my tooth this morning, it dawned on me that, like gingivitis, the root of sustainable agriculture lies just below the gumline. This strikes casual inspection from the list of effective tools we might use to sniff out unwanted decay, or potatoes.

While an entrenching tool is certainly useful, no such certainty exists when the time comes to poke holes in the half-baked specimen turning in a field of microscopic waves. Here, tradition speaks louder than words, which is where the humble fork comes in to play a quick game of Fiddlesticks before turning to the task at hand, which is poking holes in a half-baked caricature of sustainable agriculture. But you already knew that.

What you may not have known is how potato-farming ties in with my tooth.