Bad Dog!

Juno, do you know what this is?

This is an animal warning card the US Post Office uses.

Do you know what it says about you?


The mail carriers believe you are friendly. Mail carriers, Juno. Think about it. A dog’s mortal enemies. Friendly.

Bad dog!

A Week Without

Sarah Latimer is away camping in the White Mountains for a week.

She doesn’t think we can survive without her.

We aim to prove her wrong.

Day 1.

Grocery shopping has been made greatly easier. A week of this will be a trifle.

Day 2.

Our efficiency in daily tasks has improved dramatically:

  1. Reduction in dishes used by eating out of the same pots in which we cook. (Not that we are cooking; Pop Tarts rule!)
  2. Further reduction in dishes by drinking from containers, rather than wasting time and resources dirtying glasses.
  3. Juno (our dog) provides excellent dish-cleaning service, indistinguishable from dishwasher processing.
  4. Still more time saved by not showering or bathing.
  5. Who needs to put on clean clothes every day?

Wait, what is that? …

Day 2, Continued.

Holy, freaking crap! There is nothing left of the Pop Tarts but wrappers. Do you children have no discipline at all?!

(The boogers mumble something about apples and trees.)

We’re ruined! Doomed. Do you hear me!? We’re going to starve, or worse, have to eat something I cook! Do you remember fiasco of the pancakes? Ashish remembers the pancakes? (“You cooked steak? I thought you were going to make pancakes.”)

This could get interesting, in a “Define, ‘interesting,’” sort of way.

Day 3.

Someone in this house smells. It seems to be worse around the children. And the kitchen.

Maybe the philosophy of, “Why clean? It’ll just get dirty again,” needs some reevaluation.

At least Juno is happy, although this morning she walked over to me, looked me right in the face, sniffed once, and ran away.

And. We’re hungry. The children are sticking firmly to their commitment to starve before they eat anything I might cook.

What we thought was thunder turned out to be the combined output of stomachs rumbling.

How much longer?

Day 4.

It’s midnight now. The house is dark. I am not sure how this will turn out. The kids are all desperately sick, throwing up. I can hear my son and daughter retching in separate bathrooms. I went in to check on them a few minutes ago, to see what was coming up.

I think I’m okay, at least for the moment. But of course the odds aren’t good: most of the people involved in this business are already dead. And there are so many things I can’t know for sure.

I have a ringing in my ears, which is a bad sign. And I feel a vibrating in my chest and abdomen. The baby is spitting up, not really vomiting. I am feeling dizzy. I hope I don’t lose consciousness. The kids need me, especially the little one. They’re frightened. I don’t blame them.

I am, too.

(With apologies to Michael Crichton.)

Day 5.

We have, at last found something we can agree on eating. Thankfully, we have (had?) a real dog, rather than a Chihuahua or something tiny.

Morally Hazardous Technology

1897 Van Cleve Ad

Voices were raised in protest. Bicycles were proclaimed morally hazardous. Until now, children and youth were unable to stray very far from home on foot. Now, one magazine warned, fifteen minutes could put them miles away. Because of bicycles, it was said, young people were not spending the time they should with books, and—more seriously—that suburban and country tours on bicycles were “not infrequently accompanied by seductions.”

The Wright Brothers, David McCullough


Humans don’t change, do they?

When You Marry a Lawyer’s Daughter …


“Darling, you look radiant, today!”

(Woman beams appreciatively.)


“Darling, you look radiant, today!

(Woman waits. The Speaker continues.)

“The use of the word ‘today,’ should not by any means be interpreted as meaning that I (‘The Speaker’) do not believe you (‘The Addressee’) do not look radiant at every moment. Nor should you feel that subjective beauty is an expectation or requirement of gaining or maintaining the affection of The Speaker. The Speaker acknowledges the numerous beneficial and desirous qualities The Addressee possesses, which include, but are in no way limited to: supreme intelligence, unquestionable moral character, delightful humor, unparalleled business acumen, unassailable logic, perfect sexuality, and infallible parenting. The Addressee is the Speaker’s constant delight, his dearest companion, his partner in all ways. The Addressee is due The Speaker’s complete emotional involvement, financial remuneration, and temporal dedication. In the unlikely event of a disagreement, The Speaker preemptively cedes all possibility of correctness to The Addressee. The Speaker further acknowledges The Addressee is the solitary possessor of his undying affection and his eternal soul, world without end. Amen.”

(Woman nods in nonbinding acceptance.)

Sympathetic Lines of a Father to a Daughter in Bed with Mumps

Periodically, I do a search for this poem we memorized in high school. Today, at last, I found a slightly flawed version of it online, and was able to use that to get a corrected version via Google Books. The poem was published in Baxter’s Explore the Book, in a lesson on Ecclesiastes, although there is no author attribution, it is, indeed, delightfully sarcastically entitled …

Sympathetic Lines of a Father to a Daughter in Bed with Mumps

Thus generations come and go,
From youth to age they wiser grow;
Yet as they pass they all relate
They learn their lessons just too late.
Our junior wisecracks dodge the truth
That dense old parents once were youth,
That present youth must older grow,
Oft haunted by, “I told you so,”
And all their youthful bombast rue
When they as parents suffer too!

When they as parents suffer too,
As with strange certainty they do,
They marvel at the self-sure ways
The next relay of youth displays.
They hear the same old arguments
Arrayed in fresh accoutrements—
“The times are different, so are we,
Just let us have our way, and see.”
For artful Nature oft repays
Her rebels in ironic ways.

Thus generations, as they go,
Perpetuate the tale of woe.
They will not learn from yesterday,
But choose to learn the harder way—
Experience shall be teacher, please;
And well he teaches—but what fees!
What fees he charges those he schools
Before he makes wise men of fools!
How oft his scholars have confessed,
“Ah yes, poor Dad and Mum knew best!”

Each generation soon is past,
So sure at first, so sad at last.
As ranks of youth successive rise,
Each thinks, “We are supremely wise.”
They each a lot more knowledge know,
And yet a bit less wisdom show.
O sanguine youth, God’s word revere—
Honor your parents while they’re here;
And you will find in later days
What handsome dividends it pays!

Santa’s Dirty Secret: An Analysis of How Santa Really Supports His Operation


Theories abound about how he finances and operates his North Pole operation.

A number of people believe Santa is a Communist. Others believe that Santa’s elves are slave laborers being exploited by the big red taskmaster.

Neither of these theories stands up to examination. The suggestion of Communism is just silly. We know from certain documentaries that Santa’s operation runs all year; that the elves who manufacture the toys are unionized and follow an apprenticeship-to-mastery program. It seems that the elves are humanoid enough to expect reasonable compensation for their work. Further, even if the elves were enslaved, vast quantities of materials and significant manufacturing infrastructure would need to be paid for. It is estimated that the retail value of Santa’s products is over $23 billion in the U.S. alone.

So how does Santa finance this massive operation?

Let’s take a look at two things we know about Santa’s abilities: (1) He can travel virtually instantaneously (650 miles per second) anywhere in the world; (2) he can enter any building, no matter how secure, with complete impunity.

Given these abilities, isn’t it more reasonable to conclude that Santa is, indeed, using them all year? He needs a vast quantity of cash to pay the elves, purchase raw materials, cover utilities, finance his public relations and legal departments, and upgrade manufacturing capabilities each year. Bearer bonds, gold bullion, gems, and good old Greenbacks and Euros are easily gathered by one with his abilities.

In a vicious cycle, our dear Santa “Sticky Fingers” Claus spends the year financing his operation via ill-gotten gains. Psychologically, this has to take its toll—Santa is certainly not a psychopathic personality, but he each December 25 he can assuage his guilt by delivering free toys and materialistic joy the world over.

Tangential factors further support this theory. We note that these toy deliveries appear to be unequally distributed throughout the planet, with the children of First World countries receiving far more than their fair share. Would it not be reasonable for Santa to compensate the children in wealthier countries more than elsewhere in regard to the unequal drain he would have had on their particular, more wealthy, economies?

And think about the infamous “naughty list.” Is there any evidence for anyone, no matter how naughty, ever being denied a gift from Santa? Bill Clinton, Martha Stewart, Kenneth Lay, Michael Jackson, Kim Jong Il, or the children for whom the “Parents, there is no candy in this aisle,” supermarket program was developed … Santa never delivers the threatened coal.

Like most people given super powers, Santa could not resist the temptation to use them for doing wrong. In time, the need to compensate for that wrongdoing led to the gift distribution system we enjoy today. And, the day after Christmas, the cycle begins again.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus … and he’s a thief.

How Our Government Works

Once upon a time the government had a scrap yard in the middle of a desert. Congress said, “Someone may steal it at night.” So they created a night watchman position and hired a person at $18,000 a year for the job.

Then Congress said, “How does the watchman do his job without instruction?” So they created a planning department and hired two people—one person to write the instructions for $22,000 and one person to do time studies for an additional $22,000 per year.

Then congress said, “How will we know the night watchman is doing the tasks correctly?” So they created a quality control department and hired two people. One to do the studies for $31,000 and one to write the reports for an additional $31,000 per year.

Then Congress said, “How are these people going to get paid?” So they created the following positions: a timekeeper for a $35,000 annual salary and a payroll officer for an additional $35,000. Then they created an administrative section and hired three more people—an Administrative Officer at $155,000 per year, an Assistant Administrative Officer at $125,000 and a Legal Secretary at $100,000 per year.

Then Congress said, “We have had this operating for one year with a budget cost of $574,000 and we are $18,000 over budget. We must cut back costs.”

So they laid off the night watchman.

(Contributed by Paul Anderson, via e-mail.)