They Are Out of Business I Guess

My phone number at work is very similar to a phone number of some medical office. I used to get phone calls from patients all the time. But this morning I’ve got a message on my answering machine from a doctor, who inquired about a New York Times ad for medical office space (I don’t think he listened to my very professional answering machine message). My guess is that the med office with that phone number is either out of business or moving.

has a phone number at work that is similar to some bank’s. I egged him on to ask people calling him for their bank card passwords, but he is smarter than that. I do not indulge in phone pranks with people who misdialed numbers either. Although I could have offered that doctor to sublet a part of my cubicle. I have a big cubicle.

Frustrating Dream Recursion

Had an interesting recursive dream today. At the very beginning of the dream I realized that I was dreaming. Great, I thought, lets try to do some lucid dreaming. But as soon as I though that, I was kicked out of the dream state. I was desperately trying to fall asleep and get back into that dream, but failed miserably. That’s because the part about me trying to fall asleep – that was also a dream.

Hail to the Chief

Since I am talking about my bathroom, here’s another thing that I want to get to complete the picture. There’s this gimmicky “stolen” White House towel.

Well, you know, it’s a fact that Clinton’s staffers stole a bunch of crap from the Air Force One and White House (including many “w” keyboard keys). I was hoping that some real towels would show up on eBay, but it looks like White House bathrooms have paper towels (which makes sense, right?)


Item description:
“Last time being offered here. LOW RESERVE! Plain and simple. I was in the Oval Office, meeting the President, (President Reagan), I used the bathroom and these were in there. He’s getting on in years, 92 this year I believe. A fantastic Reagan piece of Presidential memorabilia. You’ll never get this anywhere, probably ever! They were used and thrown away. Now they are all gone. I kept mine. I take PAY PAL, check and money order. Check to clear before shipping. Winner to pay shipping. Own a very unique piece of American history from a President that is ill and almost 92. Thank you. “

Whatcha Gonna Do?

Today I had lunch with lj user tonomo at a really cool Cuban cafeteria called “Margon Restaurant“. That place rocks! On our way back asked — where would I go if were to become homeless. Knowing me, I don’t think he was much surprised by the fact that I already gave this question much though.

One thing for sure – I would not go to a shelter. You see, homeless people don’t go to shelters because those places are very dangerous. It’s very easy to get beaten, robbed and raped at the same time there.

I guess I would try to raise some “capital” first. said that it would probably be a good strategy to try and look really miserable. But my approach would probably be to drag around some humorous sign. Something classic, like “Tell Me Off for $2” or “Official Sperm Donner – Fill My Cup and I Will Fill Yours”. I would definitely not beg for money in two places – trains and near places where people eat. I would try to pick places where people go for a walk – near Central Park of ferry terminals.

Having enough money for a subway fare would allow me to ride around in subway cars. In winter it’s a sure way to keep warm at night. I would have to take a lot of cat naps, sleeping for long periods of time would be dangerous. I would try to switch to Uberman’s sleep schedule. I would also spend a lot of time sleeping and reading in libraries. Libraries also have bathrooms (as well as some of the better terminal subway stations).

Keeping my personal hygiene at a semi-decent level would be hard, especially in winter. I suspect that there are some churches that have showers, which let homeless in. Dunno. That’s a tough one.

Finding a place to stash my things would be tough.

There used to be times when homeless could rent a small cubicle in special “hotels” for very small sums of money. There’s an amazing book by my favorite photographer, Harvey Wang, about such places. It’s called “Flophouse: Life on the Bowery“. Well, those places are now gone with gentrification and all.

Another alternative would be to become one of the Mole People, but I am afraid that after that book came out, all the homeless were kicked out of the tunnels. My favorite chemistry professor, Dr. Hussey, told me once about homeless that lived in the tunnels under Brooklyn College. Those tunnels were secured as well, I believe.

There is a “Homelessness For Dummies” type book called “Homeless Survival Guide“. The price is a bit steep at $18 though. To the wish list it goes.

You know, “Clean Underwear from Amazon’s Target Store” is a good suggestion (as always). Not so “Ladybug Rain Boots” and “Helicopter Sleepwear Sets for Baby”.

In any case, what’s your homelessness strategy?

WML: the Arch-Importance of Buckets and Lightbulbs

Hello, and welcome to the first edition of WML: What Michael Learned!

Today’s topic: aquariums. I am not going to talk here about not listening to the guy in the pet shop, about “cycling” the aquarium before adding the fish, about not overstocking the aquarium and overfeeding the fish. Everybody knows that, right? Well, I hope so.

What I am going to talk about two common problems.

Problem number A: water changes are hard.

Solution:
Get a good big bucket. A 5-gallon bucket is perfect. First of all, you will know how many gallons there are in it. Unlike that tiny bucket you got in a drugstore, you will know it’s volume, so it will help you dose salt, chlorine remover, bacteria culture and medicine. Also you will make fewer trips to pour out and bring in new water.

Where to get a good bucket like that? I’ve got mine at my tackle shop, Bernie’s. It cost me $3. You can probably get it for free if you ask a manager in your local supermarket, but make sure that it held nothing toxic before.

Problem number B: Aquarium plants die.

If it’s not the fishes that do the dirty deed, it’s probably your lighting fixture. The one that came with your aquarium hood is crap. Go out and buy a new lamp, but leave the hood itself. What you need is a full spectrum, natural light fixture. I use Coralife Marine Aquarium 50/50 Daylight Bulb and it works like a charm, even though my aquarium is freshwater.

Subway Bench

Notice how the space for sitting is quantized. The ridges don’t really prevent homeless from sleeping there, but they make the whole experience unpleasant for them. Overall it’s a very well designed bench.

Sex, Lies and Higher Education

On Sunday I finished reading an awesome book about college pranks, “If at all Possible, Involve a Cow”. Even though it was published in 1992, it’s currently out of print and somewhat hard to find. At abebooks.com prices range from $26.50 to $42.50 and there are only 5 books listed. Luckily, I was able to find a copy for $7 thanks to abebooks wishlist service.

I think that the rarity of the books is due to some influence of embarrassed college brass. The book tells stories about students making fun of narrow mindedness and idiocy of administrators and professors in some very prestigious colleges and universities.

Here is an example. If you’ve been to Harvard, you probably have seen the statue of John Harvard. You were also probably told a touching story about students, who rub his boot for luck on the exams (they really don’t, the boot is shined by hordes of visitors). Well, what the guide probably didn’t tell you, is that the statue is commonly known as “Statue of Three Lies”. Why? Because there is an inscription on the pedestal that says:

John Harvard

Founder

1638

Lie #1 : John Harvard was a financial contributor, not the founder.
Lie #2 : Foundation date was 1636, not 1638
Lie #3 : Depicted is not John Harvard, of whom no pictures exist, but a friend of the sculptor. To add insult to injury, both the sculptor and his friend graduated from .. You guessed it – MIT!

This makes one of the pranks in the book especially ironic: MIT students created a huge bronze copy of MIT class ring and epoxied it to John Harvard statue’s finger!

Other notable pranks: Harvard Lampoon’s editors hoisting Soviet flag on a flagpole in front of the Supreme Court during McCarthy era, Caltech Rose Bowl hack.

Untitled


Beanie Babies® are freaky. Unlike normal plush toys, they are not filled with stuffing completely, leaving them limp. Some people call them “roadkill” because of that. They are “born”, like the Cabbage Patch® dolls (which are also freaky) , but then they are “retired”. They brought their founder, H. Ty Warner billions of dollars. Really, billions. He bought fricking Four Seasons Hotel for 275 million. I bet, right now, like Howard Hughes, he is sitting in a penthouse there, his toenails 20 centimeters long, with minions swabbing everything with disinfectant. Ok, I don’t know if he is germophobic like Hughes, but he is definitely just as reclusive. And how in hell did he make so much money with those damn dolls? I know, I know – manipulating supply and demand. But billions??

Best Online Comics Part II

Dreams are fascinating. Yet it is very hard to listen to or read other people’s dream narratives. Irrational, disjointed nature of dreams requires a special skill to translate them into words. Also, dream narratives are often bogged down with unnecessary details. Of course dreams helped Mendeleyev and Kekulé, Joseph, Dali and other notables, but it is still very hard to listen to somebody rambling about a weird dream he or she had that morning. “And you were there, and the cat was there .. and we all were running .. oh but wait, you weren’t there. Oh it wasn’t the cat. You were the cat. Hmm, can’t remember.”

Of course, some people have very interesting dreams and can even put them into interesting stories. But the master of the genre is Jesse Reclaw, an online cartoonist. His motto is “Your dreams I will draw”. He takes dream narrative submissions, chooses the most interesting ones, edits them and makes a four panel cartoon out of each. You can read a fresh one every week at his website, http://www.slowwave.com/. Here are some of my favorites.You can find a full archive here.

I strongly recommend paper version of his comics, Concave Up, his book Dreamtoons (if you order from Jesse directly, he’ll autograph and draw a little picture on the title page.) and an absolutely hilarious little xeroxed pamphlet Applicant. It would not hurt if you wrote to the editor of your favorite paper, and ask for Slow Wave to be in it.