Posts Tagged ‘humor’
I note that there is a minor bidding war going on regarding the sale of the Ram Island Lighthouse in Casco Bay. Ummm … Can somebody explain to me why anybody would want to own this thing?
For those of you that missed it, here’s the backstory: The Coast Guard is selling the lighthouse in an auction with a $10,000 minimum bid. The winning bidder is required to perform upkeep on the lighthouse structure, but the Coast Guard itself will maintain the navigation aids. A handful of bids have already been submitted.
Just for the record, I’d like to point out that Ram Island isn’t really an island at all. It could be more accurately described as a pile of rocks whose tip is slightly exposed at low tide … usually. Similarly, the lighthouse itself appears to be strictly utilitarian. This is not some idyllic lighthouse out of a Norman Rockwell painting, with cozy little quarters for the salty old lighthouse keeper and his family: Based on the newspaper photos, Ram Island Light is a tiny stone structure, just large enough to contain the lighting apparatus and elevate it above rough seas. What’s more, it appears that Ram Island is so small and rugged that it isn’t even accessible for any practical purposes. In the story that got reported last week, a Coast Guard boat was unable to land on the island so that potential buyers could tour the property. I’m no sailor, but it seems to me that if the freakin’ Coast Guard can’t get you there, it doesn’t bode well for your weekend lighthouse getaway …
So … let’s review: You pony up 30 or 40 grand for the privilege of owning your own lighthouse. In return, you are legally required to maintain a 100 year old stone structure (in accordance with National Historic Landmark rules) on an island that can only be accessed via a Star Trek Transporter unit. Of course, if you don’t happen to have access to fictional travel systems, you won’t actually be able to visit your “island”. But you can take all the photographs you want to from a distance. Hey, wait a second, you can already do that now and it doesn’t cost you a dime …?
It seems that now there’s a rampant fear among the local lighthouse enthusiasts that Ram Island Light will be purchased by someone from out-of-state. Consequently, somebody in Portland has stepped up with a plan to raise money by selling “shares” in the lighthouse to finance a purchase. This gentleman has suggested in the press that he intends to make the lighthouse a web destination by installing remote video and audio feeds. Wow, YouTube better watch its back …
Never underestimate the power of anything connected with a lighthouse to make people piss away their money.
Attention: Steve Ballmer
1 Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052
Dear Mr. Balmer,
After much resistance on my part, the Director of I.T. at my workplace has finally forced me to adopt Office 2007. Consequently, I just wanted to drop a note to thank you forg making me much less efficient at my job. The fact that I just spent ten minutes searching for the Microsoft Excel Print command is going to make my boss really happy.
In reviewing your website for some insight into this dreadful new version of Office, I can’t help but notice that you seem to take a lot of pride in what you refer to as the “Office Fluent user interface”. To quote from your marketing materials …
“…the new Office Fluent user interface replaces menus, toolbars, and most of the task panes from earlier versions of Excel with a single mechanism that is simple and discoverable. The Office Fluent user interface is designed to help you be more productive in Excel, more easily find the right features for various tasks, discover new functionality, and be more efficient.”
I couldn’t disagree more. A better name for this nightmare might be the Office EFFLUENT user interface. My impression is that you took every one of the Commands and Functions in the well-established Microsoft Office menus, put them all in a giant hat, and then proceeded to implement your own sick version of 52-Pick-up as a huge practical joke on the millions of people who actually have to earn a living using your products.
There is one feature of the new Office that really stands out for its utter stupidity. Incredible as it seems, when your so-called software designers were finished wreaking their destruction on Office 2007, it appears that there were a handful of basic Commands left over ( Open, Save, Print, etc.) that couldn’t find a home within the train wreck of your new interface. Consequently, you decided to group these all together under the new Microsoft Office button. However, with its generic appearance and isolated location, the Office button doesn’t look like a button at all! To ordinary users it simply appears to be a product logo! Who would think to waggle their cursor over the product logo in order to figure out how to open a file?!? Good one!
Look, I appreciate that your whole business model is predicated upon making never-ending changes (note that I didn’t say “improvements”) to your software so that your customers will always be compelled to purchase the latest upgrade. But … sheesh? Can’t you be a little more subtle about it?
I get cold sores. My wife doesn’t. She loves to make fun of me when I get one …
If you’re not susceptible to cold sore, then you’re probably not aware that they are caused by a viral infection. Likewise, you don’t know that this infection has no cure: Once you get it, you’ll carry it around in your bloodstream for the rest of your life. It won’t make you perpetually sick, but you’ll be subject to periodic outbreaks of painful and annoying blisters on a part of your body where the tissues are especially sensitive – your lips. If this sounds a lot like herpes, it’s because the two viruses are virtually identical. This aspect of the disease adds greatly to the mirth that my wife experiences during my episodic bouts with cold sores. Like it’s not funny enough that I have an enormous, open sore in the middle of my face, there’s the added hilarity of comparing my condition to a venereal disease! Ha!
Scientists aren’t exactly certain why cold sore outbreaks occur, but there are several well-known factors that can serve as triggers, such as acidic foods, or prolonged exposure to the sun. One of the most well-documented of these triggers is stress, and most sufferers can personally attest that cold sores are prone to occur when dramatic events are unfolding in their lives; in other words – at the most inopportune times. If there were a way to document such a thing, I’m sure it would be demonstrated that far more cold sore bearing people have been forced to attend their own weddings or important job interviews than can be explained by random chance.
Like I said before: If you suffer from cold sores, then nothing in this essay will come as news to you. However, if you’ve never experienced the pain, discomfort, and overall “oogy” feeling of having a giant blister on your lip (on your LIP for crying out loud!), then you just can’t imagine the length that victims will go to to obtain relief. The thing about any kind of skin blister is that the area is sensitive, and so you want to avoid touching it. And yet, when you have a blister on the sensitive tissue of your lip, there is a constant, unconscious compulsion to probe it with the tip of your tongue.
A couple of years ago, a pharmaceutical company came out with a topical medication that will decrease the duration of a cold sore outbreak, if not prevent it entirely. The caveat for use of this product is that you have to apply it at the first indication that a cold sore is imminent. If you wait until the blister actually begins to appear – usually only an hour or two after the first, telltale tingling sensation – then it will essentially be too late for the salve to have any effect. This means that you must carry the medicine on or near you at all times; or else you must be prepared to drop everything at a moment’s notice – your Annual Performance Review, for example – in order to rush down to the Rite-Aid and purchase some Miracle Cold Sore Cure.
And speaking of buying this stuff: Be sure to take along your credit card, because it costs approximately as much as antimatter. To compensate for the high price of the medication, its manufacturers have attempted to package the substance in “single-use” apportionments. That is – one container of salve presumably contains enough medication to treat one cold sore outbreak. Although the salve comes packaged in a tube by necessity, the amount of material that the tube contains would be more appropriately handled in one of those microchip laboratories where all the products are manipulated in sealed chambers under electron microscopes. Consequently, there’s a very real possibility of vaporizing your entire dosage by applying slightly too much pressure to the pea-sized tube.
Getting back to the subject of my wife: What explains the transformation of this normally compassionate woman into a malicious fourth grader whenever I get a cold sore? I’ve given this some thought, and I believe that this is her version of “whistling past the graveyard”. The idea of having a festering wound on her lip is so abhorrent that she must utterly reject the mere possibility of such a thing. She accomplishes this in her own mind by ridiculing the object of her fear … me. In her defense, I would note that I’ve observed a similar reaction in many other women in response to another common, feminine fear:
Male pattern baldness.
I’m writing with a suggestion for one of your columns in the PPH/MST. As long-time reader of those publications, I know that you are constantly on the lookout for stories about people who have seemingly been shafted by “the system”.
As you may be aware, last year President Obama and members of Congress enacted the Stimulus Bill, aimed at averting a fiscal crisis in the US banking system, and jump-starting the stalled economy. One provision of that bill was an $8000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers.
Although this tax credit didn’t exactly reinvigorate the housing market, it still proved to be enormously popular among real estate professionals and the lobbyists who serve them. Consequently, this law was expanded in November to include an additional $6500 tax credit for persons selling a home where they had resided during the previous five years.
Hearing this, you might ask yourself, “What kind of tax credit is available for long-time homeowners who bought a new house during the window between the initial bill and the November extension?”.
Answer: Nothing. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada.
As somebody who closed on a new construction home in May of this year, I was quite excited when I first heard about this extended tax credit. I naturally assumed that Congress would make this law retroactive so that people who bought a home during one of the most unstable financial periods in US history would be able to reap the benefit. Unfortunately, I was wrong.
If it sounds like I’m complaining just because this affects me personally – well – I am. The fact is, we had committed to the construction of this home before the bottom dropped out of the world economy. We are certainly not “well off” by any means: Right now – like a lot of Americans – our household income is down about 15% on the year, and we could really use this tax credit.
By the way, it’s worth noting that all four members of our congressional delegation voted in favor of this tax break. I sent a letter to each of them back in mid November requesting some clarification on their position: So far, none of them have bothered to reply. This response – or lack thereof – is especially surprising coming from the office of our newest House Member, Chellie Pingree. I distinctly recall a recent PPH letter from her Communications Director, former Maine radio host Willie Rich, in which he stated that Ms. Pingree’s staff responds to most communications within two weeks. As a freshman member of Congress, I’d think Chellie Pingree would be more concerned about the impression she’s leaving with her new constituents. Is it really that tough to crank out a form letter?
The next time Congress has some stimulus money to distribute, maybe they should just hold a lottery. The results would probably be more equitable.
My mother has been having a bad week. No – it’s not that her rheumatoid arthritis has been acting up; nor is it related to the fact that my niece (her granddaughter) has decided to join the Marines. What’s really got my Mom upset is … Tiger Woods.
Even though she’d never admit it, the fact is, my Mom was just about the biggest Tiger Woods fans in the world prior to his recent fall from grace.
This preoccupation she has with Tiger has long been a source of amusement to me. You see, Mom’s not exactly a “jock”. In fact, her general sports knowledge could be summed up by a recent conversation we had in which she asked me whether “Big Papelbon” was still “making a lot of touchdowns”.
There are several reasons for my Mom’s uncharacteristic interest in golf, not least of which is that my Dad – prior to his death several years ago – was an avid golfer. When Dad wasn’t actually playing golf, he was apt to be watching professional golf on TV. When Dad was alive, this was a source of irritation to my Mom: But now that the old duffer has gone to that big clubhouse in the sky, Mom seems to take some comfort in keeping the TV tuned to The Golf Channel. As a result, she has absorbed a great deal of knowledge about the mechanics and stratagems of this subtle sport.
What is it that Mom finds so appealing about the game of golf? Although she’s never specified her reasons, I feel like I know her well enough to speculate about her motivations …
- My Mom is a senior citizen. In my experience, the vast majority of senior citizens prefer warm weather over cold weather. Not coincidentally, professional golf is played in warm temperatures on sunny days approximately 95% of the time. That’s because they don’t generally build championship golf courses in places where there’s a potential for crappy weather. Ergo … golf makes you feel warm.
- Golf is arguably the only sport in which it’s possible to be a better player at age 40 than at age 20. Not only that, but many players still earn considerable prize money at age 60. Did I mention that my Mom is a senior citizen …?
- Golf is the only sport you can play without getting your clothes dirty.
To sum up: My mother liked Tiger Woods because she regarded him as the “classiest” player in an inherently classy sport.
Nice job, Tiger. As if it weren’t bad enough that you’re a serial philanderer, you’re also guilty of snuffing the joy out of the lives of a nation of lonely old golf widows.
My wife and I have been having an ongoing argument …
A little background: I’m all for being “green” (although I think that most green practices are 10% reality and 90% marketing), but I’ve always struggled with the concept of reusable shopping bags. In my experience, there are two problems with these bags:
- They’re too floppy. That is – they won’t stand up like a paper bag. This always makes me feel like I’m making the bagger’s job even crappier, if such a thing is possible.
- After a half-century of disposable grocery bag conditioning, I just can’t remember to use the ##$%&**# disposable bags. Even though I keep ‘em right in the car, I generally don’t think about them until I’m actually inside the store. At that point, I can either make a trip back outside, or I can just say “screw it” and promise to be a better human being in the future.
Recently, though, Hannaford Stores have started stocking reusable bags that are made of some peculiar hybrid of paper and plastic. These bags can be folded flat like a traditional grocery sack (or “poke” as my dear departed grandmother would say), yet they are rigid enough to maintain their shape when empty. In addition to these qualities, the bags are virtually indestructible, and can easily hold 30 pounds of groceries without producing the “tear anxiety” that is engendered by the aforementioned disposable paper bag. This final feature is what really sold me on the reusable bags: Since I do all the grocery shopping in my household, this effectively reduces my bag load from 7 to 4 for a typical, two-week shopping trip.
As I mentioned before, I’m the grocery shopper at our house. However, my wife demanded to accompany me on a recent trip, as she felt that I was displaying a certain indifference when selecting from among the approximately 2000 available flavors of single serving yogurt. During this trip, we got into a casual conversation about reusable shopping bags, and I innocently mentioned that Hannaford WANTED people to steal the bags, even though they are ostensibly marked with a nominal price of $1.99 each.
My wife was shocked at this statement and insisted upon knowing my rationale.
If you’ve been in Hannaford, you’ve seen racks of these bags placed at various strategic locations throughout the store. The pricing for the bags is designated by a bar code on a paper tag that is attached to the sturdy fabric handle of the bag by a thin plastic cord. It would have been just as easy for the manufacturer of the bag to screen print the bar code directly on the bag itself, but this is not the case. As such, it is virtually the only item among the tens of thousands of products available at Hannaford that does not have its price permanently printed or glued to its surface. All that’s necessary to make an unpurchased bag look exactly like a purchased bag is to discretely pluck off the paper tag – an action that requires about the same amount of time and effort as glancing at your watch.
Is it dishonest to steal a two-dollar disposable bag from Hannaford? Probably. Is it an accident that Hannaford has made it so easy to steal such a bag? Not a chance …
Here’s how I see it: Hannaford must know that they will save money in the long run on disposable paper bags. You can’t fault them for trying to make a couple of bucks off each bag – after all, they’re not getting them for free. That said, the deliberately insecure pricing makes it clear that it’s to their benefit to give the bags away, if that’s what it takes to get people to use them.
Needless to say, my wife does not ascribe to this elegant theory of shopping bag economics. In fact, she regarded me as if I had suggested we take up professional bank robbery.
For the record, I DID NOT steal any bags (Well, maybe one. It was kind of an accident.). But I’m sure that lots of the bags have been pilfered by folks that are less scrupulous than me. My question is … are these people fundamentally dishonest, or are they behaving in exactly the way that most economists (and grocery store managers) would predict?