Thursday, July 31, 2014

Tiny Bits of Nonsense: July 2014

Here is the July 2014 edition of "Tiny Bits of Nonsense," featuring 10 of my tweets from the past 31 days:

Other bits of nonsense:
June 2014
May 2014

April 2014
March 2014

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Remarkable Achievement In Candy Technology

Mars, Incorporated has completely revolutionized the way we celebrate birthdays. You may not realize it yet. I hadn't until earlier today.

I was waiting in line at my local drugstore, patiently waiting to purchase 24 rolls of generic-brand toilet paper, when I scanned the candy selection by the cash register. My eyes were immediately drawn to the M&M's -- specifically, a sky-blue bag of M&M's, which I'd never seen before. It contained Birthday Cake M&M's.

That's right: Birthday Cake M&M's. I had to take a deep breath, exhale and compose myself. I was truly in awe. The brilliant scientists at Mars, Incorporated isolated the essence of a birthday cake -- the frosting, the filling, the lettering -- and crammed it into a piece of candy the size of a dime. I never thought I'd live to see the day.

It is eerily similar to the scene in Back to the Future Part II in which the 2015 version of Lorraine McFly hydrates a miniature Pizza Hut pizza into a full-sized pie, only in reverse.

I have not encountered a more remarkable breakthrough in junk food since 7-Eleven introduced the sugar-free Slurpee.

I can only assume that in a few years birthday cakes will become a relic of the past, because we now have a much cheaper, smaller alternative. Carvel, Friendly's, Baskin-Robbins, Cold Stone Creamery...I'm not sure how they can survive this. Why would I spend $20, $30, $40 on a normal-sized birthday cake when I can plunk down 79 cents on a bag filled with M&M's that taste exactly the same?

Furthermore, a bag of M&M's is easier to transport, a fact that should not be discounted. Have you ever had to carry a box containing a birthday cake from a store to a party? It is such a hassle that it almost makes the party not even worth it. Carrying a cake is like carrying a rare and fragile statue. You have to cradle it with both of your arms, treating it with extra-special care to ensure you don't drop it. If the cake should happen to slip from your grasp and fall to the ground, it's ruined. The birthday is ruined.

Conversely, a bag of Birthday Cake M&M's slides neatly into your pocket. All you have to do is pull it out during the birthday party, when the time is right. You could toss the bag of M&M's onto the table after everyone sings "Happy Birthday." You could even insert a candle into the bag, if you like.

"Dig in, birthday boy! You can have the first M&M, since it's your special day."

"What's this?"

"Birthday cake!"

"These are M&M's. I wanted cake."

"That is cake. Just give it a try."

"I don't believe you. How can you be so cheap on my birthday? I...wait a second. This is good. This is really good. This tastes exactly like...birthday cake. How did they do that?"

"I knew you'd enjoy it. C'mon everybody, I brought enough bags for everyone!"

Realistically, Birthday Cake M&M's may not be enough to feed all of the guests at a big birthday party. I admit that. However, there is another enticing option: Kellogg's Birthday Cake and Confetti Cupcake Pop-Tarts. If you buy enough boxes, you can easily serve 80 to 100 people.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Flying Without Direction

I have observed houseflies for many, many years. I have watched them soar onto my arm. I have seen them land inside my mug of water. I've had to wipe my glasses -- on more than one occasion -- after a housefly absent-mindedly sailed right into one of the lenses, leaving unpleasant fly residue behind.

So, based on my experiences with houseflies, I can only come to one conclusion: They have no idea what they're doing.

The typical housefly is gifted with the amazing ability of flight, and its life span is only a few weeks. If that were my lot in life, I would make the most of my time on this Earth. I'd leave the nest at the age of 5 or 6 (days), travel the country, fall in love, marry, start a family, have 500 or 600 kids, raise them to adulthood, and then finally go on that second honeymoon with my wife that we'd been talking about for so long.

This is not at all how the typical housefly chooses to live its life, though. The typical housefly drifts aimlessly, from one trash can to the next, from one dirty plate to the next, from one human's face to the next. It is without direction.

Literally, the housefly is without direction. You've seen the housefly in action. It simply refuses to fly in a straight line. Instead, it zags, then zags, and then zigs and zags and zigs and zags and zigs and zags and...I'm not sure it ever ends. Its travel itinerary is basically one very long and confusing connect-the-dot puzzle.

I would love to be a fly on the wall when one fly asks another for directions. "I hear there's fresh dog poop on Main and Thompson. Do you know how to get there?" "Oh, it's less than a block away. Let me look this up on my GPS for you....OK, head south on Henry. After three feet, turn left. After six feet, turn right. After two inches, turn left, then stay in the right lane. Fly straight for a good 23 feet. Then, turn right onto Main. After two inches, turn left, then turn right. Land on the ground and stumble around for a bit. Resume flying west toward Thompson. After two feet, you'll have reached your destination."

Had they researched this on Google Maps and printed out the instructions, it would have taken three pages, at least. That's a lot of pages for a fly to carry around.

If only I could sit down with the housefly and explain to it how fortunate it is to have a talent that not many other organisms have. I would tell it, "What you have is rare and special. Don't waste it by hovering over garbage, or by smacking into my glasses. Spread your wings and fly. Fly anywhere you'd like. The sky's the limit.

"I should warn you, though, that if you happen to land in a bowl of soup and drown, humans will crack jokes at your expense. So be careful out there." 

I'll leave you with this thought: Did we really need two photos of houseflies mating on the Wikipedia page for the housefly?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Laying Down Some Rules For My Mouseguests

Welcome back, my little mouse friends! It's been far too long since you've visited my home. I was worried about you. I was afraid that you were roaming the streets with nowhere to go.

Did you have any problems finding the apartment? This building's pipe system can be very confusing, but since this isn't your first time here, I should know better than to doubt your climbing skills and your sense of direction, shouldn't I? But for the record, you do realize this building has an elevator, right?

Anyway, I want you to have a pleasant stay at my home. If there's anything you need, anything at all, please don't hesitate to squeak. As Speedy Gonzales would say, "Mi casa es su casa." 

Having said that, I do want to lay down some ground rules, if that's alright with you:

1. Please notify me in advance when you will be in the kitchen area, so I can stay out of your way. I really would like to stay out of your way. I'll be honest: I'm intimidated by you, even though I'm approximately five feet and six inches taller than you. I'm so scared of mice that I secretly wish that I could find a female exterminator to fall in love with so she can protect me from creatures like you for the rest of my life.

2. No running in the house. I know you like to run, but that's not allowed here. Mostly because I'm really scared of you, and it sends shivers down my spine when I see you dart from one corner to the next.

3. In fact, pick a corner and try to stay there as often as possible. Because...well, you know why by now.

4. You may help yourself to the food in my cabinets. However, if there's an open box of cereal, eat only from that box. Please do not tear open the other five boxes of cereal. They all contain Cheerios, I promise you. And I already removed the prizes.

5. I actually left some peanut butter for you to eat later. You'll find it on those rectangular wooden plates spread out near the walls. It's chunky, your favorite!

6. If you have to go to the bathroom, go back in the hole from where you came and take care of your business in there. Don't leave droppings all over my floor. I'd expect that kind of behavior from a dog, not from you.

I think that's it. I have to head out for a while. I trust that you will be OK on your own. Have fun! I'll make sure to leave the lights off for you.

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Joy Of Spilling Drinks On Your Pants

I was searching through my closet, in need of a nice pair of pants to wear to a wedding, when I discovered khakis that I'd never noticed before. They rested on a hanger, 18 inches away from the nearest item on the rack. They were hemmed and neatly pressed.

"Where did these khakis come from?" I asked myself. "No time for questions now," I replied. I was in a hurry. I removed them from the hanger and tried them on. They were a relaxed fit. They were clean. And they matched my dress shirt. I immediately ended my search for wedding pants. I had a winner.

I left my home and settled into my car for the 45-minute drive to the wedding. As I navigated the roads, I again wondered how I came into possession of the comfortable khakis I was wearing. Were they a hand-me-down? Not likely. They appeared to be new. Maybe I'd purchased them, stored them and neglected them until they'd fallen out of memory? Hmmm...not impossible, but there were no tags on the inside. "Maybe these are magical pants," I laughed to myself.

The pants had the last laugh, though. They were magical.

The pants were magical in the sense that they contained a power I could not explain -- a power that revealed itself to me at the wedding reception, as I was exchanging pleasantries with a fellow guest at my table. As he explained to me how he knew the bride and groom, I spilled a little bit of water from my glass on my khakis. "Dang it!" I muttered. I assumed the water had left a spot on my pants.

Only, it hadn't. I looked down and noticed a small pool of water simply hovering on top of my khakis. My tablemate continued the conversation -- I don't think he saw the spill -- but I stopped paying attention to him. I just stared at the water on my pants for another 30 seconds. I then swatted it away, as if it were an annoying insect. It landed on the floor and dissipated, without ever having left a mark on my pants.

Perhaps it was a fluke. As my new friend chattered on, I slowly lifted my glass and "accidentally" leaked some more water on my pants. Same result. "Amazing," I thought.

"Excuse me for just one moment," I said to my tablemate. I walked toward the bartender. I had to run additional tests on my pants. "Can I have a Pepsi, please?"

I returned to my table with cola in hand. My conversation partner had wandered off, which is just as well, because I'd found a new way to keep myself occupied. I splashed some of the Pepsi on my pants. It streamed down my leg, like a river of soda. Remarkable.

Following another trip to the bartender, I poured ginger ale. No stains on the pants. Dr. Pepper. Still clean. The purple stuff. Spotless.

Off in the distance, a woman clinked her glass. It was the maid of honor; she had a toast to make. Immediately, I raised my glass of apple cider (I don't drink alcohol). I did not hear a word she said. My mind was fixated solely on dousing my pants with cider. As soon as she ended her spiel, I overturned the glass. Discreetly, of course. My pants were still dry!

The night was truly one to remember.

Several of my friends have informed me that when I eventually have my own wedding, I won't have time to eat food or drink soda or cider because I will be too busy entertaining my guests. But I vow to make sure that doesn't happen. I will eat, drink and be merry. Check that: I will eat, spill drinks and be merry.