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The Dog Ate It

Header Photo: Russell Lee [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Today’s post comes from perennial sophomore Bubby Spamden, perpetually in residence at Wendell Wilkie High School.

Hey Mr. C.,

Back-to-school time keeps getting closer and none of my ideas to skip out on this entire year have worked, so I’m trying to get in the mood to be a Sophomore again.

It’s not that easy, because I struggle with homework. I understand it just fine, but the thought of getting it done and handing just makes me feel kinda like a chump. I don’t get why teachers get to tell us what to do with our time when we’re not in school. Once I’m out of the building I feel free and I kinda forget everything that happened in there.

But my dad says you have to submit to authority if you’re going to get along in the world.

In the evening he likes to have a little drink and that’s when he gets really chatty about work. He says his job at the bank “is like 10th grade on steroids.” “Facing up to your homework,” he said, “is a job audition.”

I told him homework is boring, especially since I’ve been a Sophomore forever and there’s not a 10th grade assignment I haven’t seen.

“Think about your resume’,” he said. “When you apply for that first miserable, soul-sucking job, potential employers will want to know that you can stomach the B.S.. Having your spirit crushed and finishing your stupid assignments is what getting your payday is all about.”

I had my doubts, so I Googled “getting your payday,” and I saw this article about how New York State has more than 13 billion dollars in unclaimed funds just lying around. The money belongs to people who didn’t get paid for one reason or another.

The companies that hold the money (a lot of them are banks!) have an assignment. They’re supposed to try to find the owners. If they can’t, they turn it over to the state instead. And it looks like they’ve turned a lot over.

Some of the people the banks admit they own money to but have not been able to find have names like Barack Obama, Madonna, Tom Wolfe, Jerry Seinfeld and the Dalai Lama.

I don’t know who they have on their staff with the job of finding people, but it sounds to me like they don’t take their assignments very seriously.

Seriously!

Which is good news for me, because I don’t take my assignments seriously, either! So I’m wondering if my track record of not doing my homework is something I should move to the top of my resume?

It could help me land that first job, especially if I get looked at by a bank!

Your pal,
Bubby

I told Bubby he should never put it on his resume that he doesn’t take his homework seriously, because these documents may never go away completely, and an uncomplimentary paper trail is a terrible thing to have to drag through life. If a particular unsavory quality is an unwritten requirement for the job, letting a prospective employer know that you meet it should be unwritten as well – a knowing wink or a conspiratorial nudge ought to be enough.

How good are you at getting your assignments done?

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Zorie Story

Today’s guest post comes from Sherrilee.

My father’s sister, Joan, spent a couple of years in Japan, teaching English. I was four when she came home, bearing exotic gifts. One of these treasures was a small black enamel chest of drawers; since it wasn’t to my parents’ taste, I lucked out. For reasons that I’ll never understand, it was always referred to as “the Chinese chest”. I still have it; it lives in my dining room and now I’ve raised another generation to name it incorrectly.

The most enduring gift, however, were the zories; she brought 2 pairs for me and 2 pairs for my sister. I had never had anything like them and nobody else I knew had them either – not the older, traditional Japanese style with tatami soles on wooden platforms, but plastic zories. White. If my mom had let me, I would have worn them everywhere.

My parents were ecstatic because they discovered a perfect gift for me for any occasion. Zories weren’t popular foot ware when I was growing up, but they did manage to find zories in places like Ben Franklin and Woolworth’s. I didn’t know anyone else who wore zories; in fact, I was in college before I knew that everyone else in America called them flip flops!

The last 15 years have been zorie-heaven for me. These days you can get zories in any color, any design and they are CHEAP. I have an Old Navy account so that every year I am eligible for their $1 flip flop sale. I have white zories, blue zories, purple, yellow, coral. I have fourth of July zories, Halloween zories, Christmas zories, flowers, stripes. Four years ago my company started a super-casual summer program – the dress code is pretty much thrown out. This means I can wear my zories to work every day in the summer.

As the Old Navy sale was approaching this year, I thought I would do an inventory of my zories to see what colors I could add to my collection. I pulled them all out of the closet, paired them all up and laid them all out, beginning with the white and finishing up with the black.

Then I made my fatal error; I counted them. THIRTY-EIGHT!!! I own 38 pairs of zories. 38! I didn’t go to the sale this year.

I may not go next year either.

What do you have too many of?

We are ALL Dr. Babooner

Ask Dr. Babooner – Is It My Face?

We are ALL Dr. Babooner.

Dear Dr. Babooner,

I’m having a problem related to the shape of my skull and from your picture (lovely!) it seems to me that you are the one advice columnist out there who might be able to understand my predicament and advise me properly.

I have always had a very hairy and prominent brow ridge, so when I meet people they instantly assume I’m some kind of cave man. Many of them appear genuinely surprised when I open my mouth and use language to communicate.

And now comes a new study that claims, after an examination of more than 1,400 ancient and modern skulls, human society advanced socially and technologically when skull shapes morphed away from heavy brows and towards more rounded, softer, feminine features.

“… people started being nicer to each other, which entails having a little less testosterone in action” says a press release.

I suppose humans will always instantly judge other humans based on their appearance and I don’t want to get into an argument with anthropologists, but this kind of research only makes my life more difficult.

People tend to like and respect me after we get to know each other, but only after we go through a process.

First, they make some kind of Flintstones joke or give me a pretend compliment about how my eyes are naturally shielded from the rain and the sun. Once it’s “out there” about my Neanderthal brow, I can speak openly (but not aggressively) about skull shapeism and gradually convince them that I’m nice, and I am not going to pick up a club and throttle them.

Although between you and me, I sometimes do want to pick up a club and throttle them.

Dr. Babooner, I can’t change my face and wouldn’t want to, but I do get tired of how long it takes to win people over. In some cases, soft-faced folk are so timid it takes months for them to say the kind of insensitive thing that makes it possible for me to address the real issue.

Should I continue to wait for their misstep, or should I bring it up myself?

Conflictedly,
Fred (yes, that’s my real name)

I told Fred he is exceptionally kind hearted and optimistic to wait for others to mention the proverbial “cave man in the room”, but there are probably subtle ways he can use humor to move the process along so the necessary reckoning can happen sooner. For instance, uttering an occasional “yabba dabba doo” might help, though he should be careful to say it softly and sweetly.

But that’s just one opinion. What do you think, Dr. Babooner?

Nametag_3

Names For Success!

Today’s post comes from Congressman Loomis Beechly, representing all the water surface area in the state of Minnesota.

Greetings, Constituents!

I’m ramping up my re-election campaign, doing everything I can to build on the momentum created my audacious and highly comment-able plan to design, build, launch and set fire to a coal-powered American Sun that will finally challenge the existing and highly suspect terrorist-sympathizing star at the center of our solar system that insists on shooting deadly rays at us!

Everyone else seems to think we are stuck orbiting it forever, but I say nonsense! America is all about competition. So let’s get our own dog into this fight may the best sun win!

And since America is all about winning, I want our children to be able to out-compete everyone – even each other – by having every possible advantage. That’s why I was shocked to read that many of our youth are already suffering from an economic malaise that comes with being given less-than-prosperous names.

According to the article, upon hearing someone’s name for the first time, we instantly set in motion a rapid sequence of biased judgments that profoundly influence how we feel about that person. Thus the cultural cues embedded in your name can determine your educational, romantic and job prospects for a lifetime.

This is a travesty!

That’s why I’ve introduced the Prosperous Names Act of 2014, although in keeping with the theory behind the Prosperous Names Act, I actually call it The Civil Rights Act of 2014. That’s because The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was an incredibly successful piece of legislation that is still being celebrated today!

The Prosperous Names Act requires Americans to learn the lessons of the past. Since no child should be saddled with a name that inhibits their advancement, the PNA requires that by age 5 they assume a nom de guerre modeled after Americans who have already demonstrated an aptitude for success.

For example, let’s take two names that are not proven “winners” in the marketplace of identities.

“Loomis” and “Beechly” come to mind immediately.

There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with my names, though I have had to fight against the odd weight of them my entire life. Has it made me stronger? Perhaps. But if, at age 4, I had taken on a more obviously successful three name combination that spoke of wealth and achievement to people of my generation – something like “Mark Twain Rockefeller”, I would probably be a Senator now rather than a mere shadow Congressman.

Think about today’s children.

What if they showed up for that first day of school with name tags that read “Oprah Musk Buffett”, “Walton Koch Murdoch” or “Barack Beyonce Bezos” – names that speak of accomplishment in the arts, industry, science, and politics. But mostly, in accumulating money. Wouldn’t their roads be easier?

I think so, and I should know! Or my name isn’t Denzel Gates Zuckerberg!

Your Congressman,
(see above)

What would you choose for your “nom de guerre”?

Rover_portrait

Work Clothes

Today’s post comes from Curiosity’s Mars Rover.
(photo via JPL / NASA)

Yes, it’s my birthday.

That’s the modern Facebook age for you – everybody knows it’s your birthday even though nobody knows you personally. Not too many, anyway. Especially in my case, since I was built in a dust-free assembly building by people inside isolation suits – put in there to keep me from being contaminated by their hair or flaky skin cells or spittle.

I guess I should be grateful that I didn’t have to touch anything gross, but I feel the lack of human contact here and it’s not going to get better anytime soon. They’re sending another robotic mission in the year 2020, and there’s an outside chance I’ll still be functioning well enough to welcome it to the Red Planet, understanding that I’m a machine and they’re sending machines and nobody has feelings or particularly needs to be welcomed.

Anyway, I won’t hold my breath. You know why.

The birthday is meaningless, especially since I’m now tracking years on two planetary timetables. I just celebrated one year on Mars, yet here I am two Earth years old. What does that mean?

Nothing, really, unless there are presents.

What sort of present would I like? That’s easy. It’s something most automated landing devices don’t get, and yet it’s so closely tied to the outer space dreams of Earthlings I really feel cheated that I didn’t get one.

I want a spacesuit.

When you think about it, they sent me up here naked. Would you do that, even to your worst enemy? Banished to Mars, naked?

I’m here to work, so I at least deserve the dignity of a decent set of work clothes. Those guys who landed on the Moon had the coolest spacesuits ever, and there’s a book (soon to be a movie) about how those suits came to be made. They were crafted, not by nerdy teckno-geeks, but by warm-hearted seamstresses from Platex – the same people who made brassieres and girdles.

I just find that comforting. The thought of having some protective fabric nestled against my outer surface would help me feel embraced, so if it’s not too much to ask, how about a Kickstarter campaign to fashion me a wardrobe.

If work clothes are too complicated, how about a bathrobe or something cozy that the next mission can drop off as it goes into orbit?

I’m only 2 right now, but I have to look ahead. A care package with a bathrobe in it, or even just a throw, would ease the harsh prospect facing me – a power supply that runs down to nothing, followed by a virtually endless parade of twilight years.

And there’s a boatload of twilight up here, I can tell you that.

Over and Out,
Curiosity Rover

What’s in your “comfort” wardrobe?

Google-mystery-barge

Barge Traffic

Last fall we were enthralled by the news that Google had floated two mysterious barges on the east and west coasts of the United States, for what purpose the fevered minds of conspiracy theorists everywhere could only guess.

And there were many guesses. The least exciting ones had to do with the barges being mobile showrooms for Google’s “Glass” product – basically a head-mounted computer that projects a screen image on the lens of a pair of glasses. It is a device so extremely powerful, it can make anyone, even some of the world’s most gorgeous models, look like a complete dork.

But Google being Google, it has incredible resources at its disposal and no shortage of imagination, therefore there is no limit to what secret purpose the barges might be hiding.

One of my favorite guesses came from tim during a discussion of this issue on Trail Baboon’s companion blog, The Baboondocks.

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To this I say “Yes”. Clearly tim had already been in the transporter and his head had been turned (possibly all the way around) by the mind-scrambling potential of this secret, barge-borne technology.

And it makes sense that the labs would be floating in San Francisco Bay and off the coast of Maine – this was Google’s way to create safe, mobile and discreet places to work on a device that teleports items (and someday, people) from coast to coast, or planet to planet.

They are safe because barges are islands that can be detached from shore to discourage intruders and curious, snoopy competitors. Mobile so the technology can be moved to a better location if reception is weak. And discreet so the horrible disfiguring, non-survivable teleporter accidents that are bound to occur can be quietly dumped into the sea.

It all makes a weird kind of Google-ish sense.

But now we will have to re-imagine what Google is up to, because the company has started to sell off its mysterious barges.

Or at least the barge in Maine has been sold. But to whom? And how did the buyer know it was for sale since no one understands what the barges are for to begin with? Is there a mystery structure realty firm that cuts secret deals for enigmatic properties?

And why sell now? Is the experiment complete? And if so, was it a complete success, or an utter failure? So many questions!

What does this mean?

T-Rex

Tyrannasaurus Hex

A new scientific study suggests there was a parting of ways quite long ago dividing dinosaurs that were able to change quickly from those that were set in their ways.

The difference is this – the prehistoric behemoths who started shrinking rapidly eventually morphed into birds.

When a meteor struck Earth and changed the climate, the “bigs” were thrown off balance and began starving while those creatures who were smaller and lighter had a better chance at survival. Those that didn’t adapt or did so too slowly, were fated to perish.

I’ve struggled to imagine the dinosaurs-to-birds transition. In my mind’s eye I can put feathers on T. Rex, but I can’t picture him being chased away from the feeder by a squirrel.

So I asked Trail Baboon Poet Laureate Schuyler Tyler Wyler to pen a few lines to put this research in context. He deflected the compliment (as usual) and said the very gradual process of natural word selection that would lead to developing original verse on such a scientific topic could take years to complete.

But he could do it in ten minutes if he was allowed to steal a poem from someone else.

That wasn’t what I had in mind, but since the topic here is speedy adaptation to rapidly changing circumstances and time is short, I relented.

Forgive us, Edgar Allen Poe.

Back in the Cretaceous era, dinosaurs still roamed the Terra,
Many of them kept on doing what they’d always done before.
On they plodded, often napping. On occasion they heard flapping.
Lightly feathered flutters slapping, clapping many times and more.
Sounding nothing like the locomotion of a dinosaur.
They knew not what was in store.

One contingent started shrinking naturally and without thinking;
All the rest kept eating, eating, eating, eating, eating more;
Gorging on the food abundant, massive creatures turned redundant.
Every day another plate awash with calories galore.
Plumping up at every pore.

When the skies began to darken, many of the beasts did harken
Seeing that their kind was doomed some moped about, à la Eeyore.
Others, bent to problem solving, rather late, began evolving.
Well behind the group already changing – changing at their core.
Sprouting wings and hollow bones is rather an exhausting chore.
Transformation made them sore.

Dinosaurs becoming birds left some observers lost for words.
While others questioned feathers as an element of what they wore.
Why, they asked, would scaly creatures not retain their scaly features?
Turning into fish that swim instead of avians that soar?
Quoth the Raven: Albacore!

What was your most dramatic transition?

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