Friday, September 24, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
It was an average day; the sun was probably shining, but I don't like bright and cheerful things so I was at home with the blinds closed and shades drawn, performing the vitally important task of staring at whatever was displayed on my computer monitor. Supporting my heroic efforts in this titanic endeavor was my long-suffering office chair, purchased in March of this very year. I say long-suffering because the poor thing was designed to hold a maximum of two hundred fifty pounds or so and I don't exactly belong in that weight class, which brings me to the point. After months of faithful service, my trusty steed succumbed to the inevitable, and to the laws of physics, and began to sink slowly to the floor. The culprit was, of course, the over-taxed and thus thoroughly abused pneumatic lift cylinder, central to the height-adjustmentibility and overall general comfortabilityness of any office chair. Being not terribly surprised, I stood up, returned the chair to its full height, and sat down to continue my critical web-surfing duties. After barely a minute the poor old cylinder gave out again and, after putting my considerable analytical skills to work, I surmised that I had a problem.
Normally when this happens I simply wait until this particular model of chair is on sale at OfficeMax and just buy a new one, but this was no normal day. Average, but not normal. And the damn thing wasn't on sale that week. Or the next. Or even the next. And there's no way in hell I'm about to drive all the way down there (almost eight miles) only to have to pay full price. No way, sir. Not this bird. Nix, nein, hayell no! So, in a spirit of . . . well . . . I don't know what it was suffice to say that I started to surf the interwebs in search of a solution, and that's exactly what I found: a replacement pneumatic cylinder! Yay! And this one was designed for someone in my particular weight class, i.e. robust, Rubenesque, rotund, round, &c. So I placed my order via the wonderful folks at Amazon.com and barely four days later I held in my very own wings my brand new pneumatic lift cylinder, ready and waiting for installation. And this, dear reader, is where the fun really began.
Step One: Remove replacement cylinder from box, inspect contents to make sure all parts are present.
Step Two: Sit in chair and allow cylinder to retract fully.
Step Three: Invert chair so that the chair is resting on the top of the chair back and the forward edge of the seat. The chair base (the star-shaped thing with the wheels, genius) should now be pointing up at an acute angle.
Step Four: Locate retaining clip on bottom of cylinder.
Step Five: Ignore daily call from telemarketer/collection agency/IRS/parole officer/whoever.
Step Six: Using flat-blade screwdriver, pry retaining clip from bottom of cylinder.
Step Seven: Remove washer from bottom of cylinder.
Step Eight: Slowly remove base from cylinder piston; cylinder sleeve will remain lodged in base hub.
Step Nine: Place chair base upside down on a table or suitable workbench.
Step Ten: Apply some WD-40 or other suitable lubricant between cylinder sleeve and base hub, tapping gently on the sleeve to allow lubricant to seep in.
Step Eleven: Using hammer or rubber mallet, bang on the bottom of the cylinder sleeve as hard as you can until it comes loose and falls on the floor.
Step Twelve: Have drink; that sum'bitch was wedged in there pretty damn tight.
Step Thirteen: Repeat step ten, this time with chair post and the seat tilt mechanism.
Step Fourteen: Place pipe wrench on chair post as close as possible to junction with tilt mechanism.
Step Fifteen: Twist wrench back and forth to remove chair post, using hammer to assist when and if necessary.
Step Sixteen: Have another drink; that thing was tighter than the damn base.
Step Seventeen: Insert new cylinder into chair base.
Step Eighteen: Only now realize that new cylinder is tapered to fit a 45mm diameter hub, and yours is 50mm in diameter.
Step Nineteen: Curse.
Step Twenty: Have another drink.
Step Twenty-one: Reinsert new cylinder into base again, noticing how the cylinder is now proud of bottom of base by a good three inches or so. (see fig. 1)
Step Twenty-two: Leaving base seated loosely, reattach chair body to chair post.
Step Twenty-three: Notice how chair leans backwards at an ominously dangerous angle. (see fig. 2)
Step Twenty-four: Seat base fully on cylinder, noticing how the cylinder prevents the wheels from touching the floor. (see fig. 3)
Step Twenty-five: Curse profusely.
Step Twenty-six: Resign yourself to the inevitable and sit in your new wobbly-ass chair.
Step Twenty-seven: Continue cursing and drinking until you think of a solution.
Step Twenty-eight: After an hour of so of drunken swearing and web-surfing, conceive of brilliant solution.
Step Twenty-nine: Order 4-inch diameter casters to solve ground-clearance problem. (see fig. 4)
Step Thirty: Sit carefully on wobbly chair for five days until new wheels arrive.
Step Thirty-one: Remove old, useless wheels.
Step Thirty-two: Install snazzy new wheels.
Step Thirty-three: Stop drinking and write blog.
And that, boys and girls, is how you do that. I do certainly hope y'all have learned something and will benefit from my considerable expertise and experience and, by all means, don't enjoy the rest of your day.
Friday, September 17, 2010
Friday, September 10, 2010
My stepfather, God bless his crusty old heart, loves to send me chain mail. You know, the kind of crap people find mildly humorous, somewhat witty and/or otherwise worthy of wasting their employer's money passing around the office. People have been doing this since the "office" as we know it today was first invented by engineers from IBM in 1885 shortly after the erection of the first skyscraper, Chicago's long-demolished Home Insurance Building, in 1884. This, along with the mimeograph machines and typewriters already in existence, gave ordinary people a vastly more efficient method of spreading their stupid jokes around. Now, thanks to email, this can happen at damn near the speed of light. And I'm tired of receiving this crap, the detritus of human thought at which people smile & nod and then send on to others with a thoughtless click of a "forward" button. Here's a small sample of what's out there, along with a few notes and/or observations I made while actually thinking about what I was reading.
- Why do drugstores make the sick walk all the way to the back of the store to get their prescriptions while healthy people can buy cigarettes at the front? This is largely due to government regulations. The drugs sold at the back are designated as controlled substances which must be sold from a highly secured location. Cigarettes, however, suffer from no such designation and may be sold from mere 'secured' locations. Those old enough ought to remember the days when cigarettes were a) promoted in advertisements by doctors as completely and totally harmless, and b) sold in purpose-built vending machines which could be found in nearly every lobby in America. Given current trends, they'll soon likely be sold in the back as well, and everyone in the store will give you dirty looks while twelve-year-olds buying condoms won't even merit a cursory glance.
- Why do banks leave both doors open and then chain the pens to the counters? Because banks are businesses. Businesses, by definition, need a steady flow of paying customers in order to turn a profit and thus stay in business. Locked doors tend to inhibit customer traffic. No, really: Just try walking through a locked door. Providing each and every customer with a brand new pen each and every time they visit, however, eventually costs a whole helluva lot of money, thus impacting bank's ability to turn a profit and stay in business. Besides, taking the pen is just petty theft, so why do you do it?
- Why do we leave cars worth thousands of dollars in the driveway and put our useless junk in the garage?
- If you think it's worthless why do you keep it around, numbnuts?
- Take all your junk outside, put your car in your garage and see how long your stuff lasts sitting outside exposed to the elements. And thieves. Your car is designed to be exposed to said elements and/or thieves; I'm willing to bet the rest of your stuff isn't.
- Why do we buy hot dogs in packages of ten and buns in packages of eight? Because that's how they're packaged and sold. If you had a brain, you would've asked, "Why are hot dogs sold in packages of ten and buns in packages of eight?" Then I would be able to tell you that this is because hot dogs are made out of meat, meat byproducts and/or animal matter of some kind. This means they (the hot dogs) were made by butchers, and butchers like to sell the stuff they make by the pound. Ten hot dogs equal one pound, which keeps the math pretty easy because, let's face it, if they were good at math they wouldn't be making a living by chopping living creatures into meal-sized portions.
Bakers, however, are evil bastards who hate multiples of ten.
- Why do they have drive-up ATM machines with Braille lettering? This, too, is due largely to government regulations. Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act, it is now a federal crime to discriminate against the "differently-abled" in any way, shape or form, including but not limited to making them feel discriminated against. This is why wherever you go all the good parking spaces are a) painted blue, and b) almost always empty, because there just aren't that many handicapped people around. This is also why drive-up ATMs have Braille keypads. Because they (ATMs) must be accessible to and by the blind, ATM manufacturers have two choices: 1) Make two different types of keypads for walk-up and drive-up machines, or 2) Make only one kind of keypad, which would be cheaper.
Alternatively, you could drive your blind friend to the bank and make use of the drive-through ATM. That is, of course, if you were kind enough to do such a thing. Instead, you spend your time thinking up things like this.
- Why does the sun lighten our hair, but darkens our skin? Your hair is dead, therefore it can't produce more pigment to replace the pigment bleached by sunlight. Your skin, however, is quite alive and the tanning process is a positive defensive reaction to keep your body from absorbing too much sunlight, which can give you cancer. And wicked sunburns.
- Why don't you ever see the headline 'Psychic Wins Lottery'?
- Because most psychics are frauds.
- Even if they weren't and could predict the winning numbers and told everybody, the lotteries would collapse; they don't actually have all that money just lying around to give to the winners, and if everybody had a winning ticket then everybody would have to share the jackpot with, well, everybody.
- If I was a psychic and knew the winning numbers, why would I want to tell anybody else?
- Why is 'abbreviated' such a long word? Here's another long word for you, genius: etymology. Find a dictionary. Look it up. If you can.
- Why is it that doctors call what they do 'practice'? See above. That means the answer to your previous brilliant question also applies to this one.
- Why is lemon juice made with artificial flavor and dishwashing liquid made with real lemons? Been drinking your Palmolive again, have you? That explains a lot.
- Why is the man who invests all your money called a broker? Again, see no. 8.
- Why is the time of day with the slowest traffic called rush hour? See above. If you can.
- Why isn't there mouse-flavored cat food? Once you're done with the Palmolive, go right ahead and start licking mice. I hope you enjoy hemorrhagic fevers.
- Why didn't Noah swat those two mosquitoes? Because he was saving life, not destroying it. Besides, we invented DDT, which is entirely harmless to humans. Now if only we could actually use the stuff . . .
- Why don't sheep shrink when it rains? Wool doesn't shrink, it felts. And sheep aren't made out of wool, they're made mostly out of meat. Wool just grows on them.
- Why are they called apartments when they are all stuck together? See no. 8 and blame the Italians. Or the French. Or anybody who speaks a Romance language.
- If con is the opposite of pro, is Congress the opposite of progress? Yes. And what progress Congress manages to make is usually in the wrong direction. This is why our Founding Fathers gave Congress specific and limited powers so that they wouldn't be able to muck everything up the way they do now. They can muck everything up now thanks to American Progressivism, a 19th century political movement which sought to do away with limited constitutional government and replace it with unlimited constitutional government. This has been the guiding philosophy of American politics and governance for pert-near a century now, and you can see how well that's worked out. Remember this the next time you meet someone who self-identifies as a "progressive."
- If flying is so safe, why do they call the airport the terminal? The airport is not the terminal; the building within the airport where you board and exit the plane is called the terminal. And the terminal is where your flight ends, brainiac, not your life. To find out why the term "terminal" is used, get a clue and see no. 8.
And Pappy, you're good at math, so stop sending me this shit.
P.S.: Send this to ten people and then there'll be ten more people in this world who have documented proof that you're an idiot.
Photograph by Christian Ziegler
Labia. I have to confess I had never heard the word before Mrs. Jones (or whatever the hell her name is) gave it to me, but she did a pretty good job with 'byzantine' so I thought I'd give it a go. Besides, it was better than her first choice, said choice being 'aromatherapy'. First of all, that really ought to be two words, but with the English language having inherited the Germanic's penchant for compound words it has apparently become one. Oh well. Second, the first and only thing(s) that came to mind was/were flatulence jokes, and you don't want to go down that particular road with me. Ever. I don't care how curious you are, I'm not doing it, so don't even ask.
Thinking about labia
So . . . there I was with the word 'labia'. As I stated above, I'd never heard the word before, not once in my life. Never. Not ever. And I dare you to prove otherwise. I therefore set my crackerjack staff of research professionals to work on the problem, ordered up a glass of scotch from my personal assistants Amber, Summer & Stormy, and sat back to collect some of my initial impressions. "Labia," I said to myself, trying the word on for size. "'Lay-bee-uh'. Or is it 'lab-ee-uh'?" Lacking an official report form my researchers, I was unsure as to the word's exact pronunciation, so I was relying on my well-honed sense of english-language word pronunciation, gleaned from many happy childhood hours watching Sesame Street, immediately after which Mr. Rogers would show me how to use them in sentences. Words, not my assistants. And I didn't want to preempt my research staff, much like a certain president didn't want to do with his Treasury secretary in his (the president's) first drone-athon 'press conference', and then the very next day Mr. He's-so-smart-it-doesn't-matter-if-he-can't-figure-out-how-to-fill-out-his-tax-return-we-need-him-to-fix-the-economy Secretary of the Treasury held his own press conference to announce that he'd announce his plan to save the economy -- the plan the president just said he'd already designed -- just as soon as he thought of one. Moron. Three hundred million people and he's the best we've got? Just then my scotch arrived, so it wasn't like I was gonna do any of my own research at that point because, let's face it, my liver ain't gonna pickle itself.
So I was back to thinking about 'labia'. At first blush I thought that since a Canadian gave it to me then maybe it was a Canadian word, so God only knows how to pronounce the damn thing. I mean, they (Canadians) can't pronounce 'about' correctly, and they end just aboot every sentence with the word 'eh', the syntactical equivalent of attaching a caboose to a freight train. Which no serious railroad does anymore. And they have approximately 684,392 words for snow. Canadians, not the railroads. But they're (Canadians) surrounded by the stuff (snow, not railroads; they only have one) thirteen months out of the year, so that's at least somewhat understandable; what do you expect from people who put maple syrup on moose meat, anyway?
With that in mind, I was thinking that maybe it was pronounced 'lab-ee-uh', which brought to mind a couple of possibilities. First, I though of 'lab', shorthand for 'laboratory'. The 'ia' at the end is often used in Latin to signify a plural, so maybe it was the plural for 'lab'. Then I remembered that in English we just slap an 's' on the end, making the plural 'labs' and the point 'moot'. Then I remembered that the 'ia' is also used in Latin to signify the diminutive, so maybe 'labia' is the diminutive form of 'laboratory', as in a lab full of broads. I knew a priori that 'laboratory' is of definite Latin heritage, and as Mrs. Jones claims to be a broad I was beginning to think that I was on to something. Alas, I then remembered that it's a well known fact that everyone knows that woman just aren't capable of the kind of critical thinking and reasoning necessary for scientific experimentation; the slimy stuff in the petri dish just doesn't care if it matches with your purse. Sure, there is the occasional nerd-type human female, but there's always an exception or two to every rule; just look at male figure skaters. And they're (nerdy chicks) always portrayed on TV and in movies as totally hot chicks with glasses and lab coats, but in real life . . . eh, not so much. So 'laboratory' was pretty much eliminated.
My second thought was again 'lab', this time as popular shorthand for Labrador retrievers. Thanks to the English 's'-slapping thing, a plural was out right off the bat. And as far as I know, the ancient Romans didn't breed Labrador retrievers, so strike two. Strike three came about a whole second later when I made the connection that, Labrador retrievers being dogs and Mrs. Jones being a woman, it's been my experience that women tend to get a bit cranky when you go in that direction. My third thought was 'Labrador' itself, which if memory serves is located somewhere in Canada. My second scotch arrived around this time, and with my first sip I remembered that Canada only has one Labrador, which would obviate the necessity of pluralizing the word. Furthermore, there being no Latin connection and no obvious way to insult women I therefore put the Canadian connection to bed and turned my attention elsewhere.
Moving south to warmer intellectual climes, with my third glass of scotch -- these assistants of mine are highly trained, top-notch professionals -- I began to look deeper into 'labia', to plumb its depths, if you will. This, of course, led to Latin, the language named after the empire its speakers founded: Rome. The casual thinker may very well have read the word "latin" and immediately thought of 'latino', but said thinker would be completely wrong. 'Latino' means, literally, 'little latin', and while many of them are rather short -- living in Florida I can attest to this -- 'labia' bears little resemblance to any of the more popular 'Latino' words in use today: taco, enchilada, tortilla, Eric Estrada, el gringo es estúpido, &c. Rudolph Valentino, however, was the original 'Latin lover', and he was known worldwide as a well-known Italian, so my path was clear. All roads, as they say, lead to Rome. Except for I-95, apparently: I've driven its entire length and never saw a single sign pointing to an exit for Rome. So 'they' are obviously full of shit.
My entomological road, however, did lead to Rome and to that long-dead progenitor of many a word, the Latin language. 'Labia' sounded to be of vaguely Latin origin, and my keen analytical mind soon returned to pert near where I'd started. I knew 'laboratory' to be descended from the latin 'laboratorium', which translates literally as "a place of/for labor". And while I'd eliminated 'laboratory' a few scotches ago, the similarity between 'labia' and 'labor' caught my mind's eye. Then Amber caught my eye as she served my next drink, bending over with an endearing giggle to retrieve the napkin she'd dropped on the way in, amazing me with her ability to do so without skipping a beat or using her hands. Making a mental note to consider revising the employee dress code, I then set about exploring further the connection between 'labia' and 'labor'. They sure sounded similar, and as I let them mull in my cranium for a bit things started to fall into place. 'Labor' comes to us straight from Latin, pretty much unmolested. "'Labia' could be the plural of 'labor'," I wondered to myself, but the slap-s rule came to mind, so at this point I just put the labia-as-plural idea to bed; it seemed to be a perpetual dead-end. I then groped around in the cognitive dark for a minute or two with the labia-as-diminutive tack. I'd had five or eight or thirty-two or so drinks at this point -- my assistants are very efficient in this regard -- but the answer just wasn't coming to me. And then all of a sudden the pieces all started to fall into place, if by 'all of a sudden' you mean 'slower'n molasses in February' or 'at a glacial pace'. 'Labia' sounds like 'labor'. 'Labia' sounds Latin-ish. 'Labor' is Latin. 'Labor' is Latin for 'work'. 'Labia' could be the diminutive form of 'labor'. The diminutive form of a word is the 'feminine' form. And a 'woman' gave me 'labia' as a topic. It was so obvious, I shouted out "Eureka!", which is German for 'duh'.
Women's work! Cooking, cleaning, bearing children, raising children, breast feeding children, serving drinks, figure skating, and certain things a wife does for her husband on special occasions or every Wednesday, depending on her level of enthusiasm; a whole flood of tasks specially suited for the fairer sex came to mind. Sure, utter the phrase 'women's work' and they'll likely huff, and puff, and stomp their feet, and refuse to tell you what's for dinner, but that's only because they think they do all the hard work in life. Any fool can see, however, that women's work is easy work. If cooking is so hard, then why are all the best chefs in the world men? Women moan and complain about cleaning, yet not-a-one of 'em ever thought to invent the vacuum cleaner or Windex, much less the spray bottle. Put men in charge of child-rearing and those ungrateful little brats would be put to work, not lolly-gagging around the house all day breaking your stuff. It was once said of Ginger Rogers that she did everything Fred Astaire did backwards and in high heels, yet if she'd had any sense at all she would've walked forwards like everybody else and worn sensible shoes. Bearing children, however, is the biggest scam of all. In a bit of groundbreaking, Pulitzer-prize-worthy reporting last year, I revealed that many women are taking the time to have their hair and nails done while in labor. For nine months you can't go get your own pickles and ice cream but you can find the time for a mani-pedi? And don't even try to tell me that labor pains are so bad that you need a powerful anesthetic injected straight into your spinal column right after your bikini waxing; I'm just not buyin' it.
"Finally!", I thought to myself, I had deduced the meaning of the word 'labia'. At long last I had touched the soul of 'labia'. At great length I had penetrated the shroud of mystery surrounding 'labia'. I had put my finger on its very quintessence. I'd thrust deep into the heart of the matter and, feeling triumphant in my conquest I began to think about what to write when, lo and behold , Summer appeared with a serving tray. On the tray I was delighted to find a) another bottle of scotch, and b) the much-anticipated research report, ready for my annotations and/or corrections before final publication. Leaning back in my chair, I took the report in hand and perused my staff's findings, positively giddy with anticipation to compare their findings with my own.
And what do mine eyes behold?
Holy hell, Batman! I was horrified, to say the least. After all that lovely
drinking thinking I'd done on the subject, after all that intricate reasoning and deduction . . . I could hardly believe my eyes. Here I was in possession of a three-inch thick stack of paper printed with things I just can't repeat in a family-friendly publication such as this. However, my research staff is composed entirely of interns, so as college students they were probably just drunk and immature enough think they could pull a fast one over on the old bird and get a chuckle or two out of the whole affair. I therefore set about a) firing the snot-nosed bastards, b) shredding the hideous piece of filth they'd produced, and c) doing my own damn research. What I found on Google wasn't any better. In fact, I had to hide my virgin eyes in shame. When I recovered from my initial shock I tried visiting some of the links and found little which bears repeating. Labia majora, labia minora, distortion, elongation, reduction surgery, some young woman named Britney Spears, &c.; it was all there, out in the open for anyone with a computer to see. Why are there no laws to protect me from this?
After pounding back a double scotch I decided to check with old Mr. Webster and see what he had to say about the matter. I soon found out that one of my initial impressions had been correct: 'Labia' is the plural form of 'labium'. Two further clicks informed me that the labia majora & minora are the folds of the vulva bounding the vestibule, which means I'll never be able to enter a vestibule again. At least not without some trepidation, anyway. And then that damn video came to mind. You know the one I'm talking about, that godawful "Miracle of Life" birthing video. It's just horrendous, all the yelling and screaming and damning and cursing, and then out pops . . . this thing, all covered in goo . . . It's about the worst thing you can do to a kid, and the real miracle is that anyone can watch it and ever again be interested in engaging in sex. Then it occurred to me that, while not directly related, 'labia' and 'labor' are tangentially connected, which gives whole new meanings to the following phrases:
- labia force
- labia camp
- labia pains
- Labia Day
- labia union
- labia of love
- Labia omnia vincit (Labia conquer all things)
In conclusion, I would like to note that if 'labia' was a Canadian's first choice of word, Canada must be one big, frozen island full of perverts.
Welcome to Wordplay. With apologies to whomever dreamed this up, I've renamed the game and modified the rules just a bit. The official rules are as follows:
- Choose a one-word topic about which to write (hereafter referred to as a challenge), and send it to me in a PM titled 'Wordplay'.
- Nonsensical challenges are both allowed and encouraged.
- Upon my acceptance of your challenge I will post a challenge of my own.
- By posting a challenge you are hereby agreeing to accept the recipient's challenge.
- Short pieces are encouraged, i.e. at or about 250 words, but not required.
- Participants have one calendar week to post their compositions; challenged first, challenger second.
- The title must be in the following format: Wordplay: [word]
- The official rules must be included at the end of your composition.
- This is not a tag.
- Taggers will, when identified, be hanged summarily.
- I will not accept 'aromatherapy'; we've already discussed this.
- I will not accept 'misogyny' because, frankly, I think I've pretty much covered that.
- This post serves as fair warning as to what you can expect in challenging me.