Saturday, March 27, 2010

Mushy-Brained Kooks

This week, I decided to write an advice column, so here is my advice for the week:

Settlers of Catan: you should play it.

Pursuit of Happyness: you might want to watch it.

Princess Bride: if you don’t like it, you are a communist and not right in the head.

Chipotle: you should eat it, or rather the food made there.

Drug ads in magazines: you should read them. They are a hoot.

I saw a list of possible side effects for an insomnia drug the other day. One of them was drowsiness. Is it just me, or does it seem a bit worrisome that we now have to warn people things might actually do what they were designed to do? Has it become so common for people to use things for things for which they (the things) were not designed and then sue the makers of said things for not telling them (the people) not to do such things (ridiculously irrational acts of complete and utter incompetence)?

Product labels are another source of great fun. My shampoo bottle this morning greeted me with “hey good-looking.” Ah, how nice it is be complimented by my shampoo. Without that, I might go through the entire day thinking I was horribly unattractive. Although I should think better marketing for a shampoo bottle might be something like “hey nappy bed head, you need a good shampooing, and I am just the shampoo you need.” If the shampoo already thinks I am good-looking, what motivation do I have to wash my hair, thereby risking my pre-existing good looks? In fact, I might see that bottle and decide I don’t even need to take a shower. Of course, all of this supposes I depend on shampoo bottles to determine my self worth, in which case I would be certifiably insane.

There are really only two logical conclusions to these observations:

1) Consumers are mushy-brained kooks.
2) Product labels are written by mushy-brained kooks.

I am leaning toward number 2.

Well, I’d love to stay and chat more about it, but I am off to try melting down my watch in the microwave. Timex never said I shouldn’t do that.

Episode 5 (Uninvention Update/Creamer Tops)

UPDATE – More support for my campaign for the univention of cars:
I am convinced designers and engineers only study so they can use their knowledge of building and arranging things to push people ever closer to the crumbling edge of sanity. It took me half an hour to figure out how to make my rather average-sized hand fit into the space required to gain admittance to the burned out headlight on my car. Now I am no expert, but it seems to me it might make sense to design a car in such a way as to allow an adult human being, typically the type of being one might find using a car, to change the headlights of said car without introducing his toddlers to a whole new category of language absent from Baby Einstein videos or giving his wife the distinct impression the car has begun jumping up and down on him in a violent attempt to stop him from ever attempting such foolishness again. – END OF UPDATE.

I am normally a harsh critic of most anything that has or has not been invented, discovered, or conceived, but I have come across something in which I can find no fault.

As I readied myself for the inevitable splatter of half and half that always results from trying to pull the little pull tab freshness seal contraption off a new carton of creamer for my morning coffee, I encountered a surprise. The seal was broken already. Only after cursing the store for selling an already-opened carton of creamy goodness, did I realize what had actually happened.

When I read the label, which I seldom do, in the knowledge such things are usually covered in half-truths and outright lies about the product, I saw the cap had been designed to open the seal as the cap was turned to remove it (the cap).

What an absolutely marvelous idea! My coffee tasted better, the sun shone brighter, my kids were happier, and the world lost its usual dimness, at least until I got in my car and remembered all those greedy little twits (whoever they are) flying their private jets to remote tropical islands to play golf, smoke Cuban cigars, and try to devise ways to convince us they need to raise the price of gas again and it is unrealistic to expect automakers to come up with a car that can get better than 3.2 miles per gallon by the year 3024.

Ah well, in those brief moments of bliss made possible by the geniuses at the creamery I realized there are people out there using that grey matter between their ears for useful things…like making morning coffee more enjoyable. The only downside is you have to wait for a new carton to experience the joy again. Now I just have to figure out how to explain to my wife why there are 47 open cartons of creamer in our fridge.

Episode 3 (Things that Should be Uninvented)

Cars – I am adding cars to my list of things that should be outlawed or uninvented (I may have already added it, but since I keep the list only in my head, I am never really sure what is on it).

I should probably start by explaining the list. It is a list of things that should be outlawed or uninvented. From what I can recall today, the current list includes phones and computers.

In any case, last night in the garage, we discovered a little puddle of what appeared to be coolant…both cars have now had extensive work done on the cooling systems and I am not sure what else is left to go wrong in there, but apparently there is something.

The real problem is my car expertise does not extend much past the programmable driver settings dealybobber. If cars can’t be outlawed, they should all be required to have that feature so you can return the seats, mirrors, and steering wheel to their proper settings after the dealership folks mess them all up just to drive the car into the shop. Those settings take days to get just right. Where was I? Ah yes, the result of the “real problem” is I have this unshakeable feeling I am getting snookered every time I take my car in, and I have no way of knowing. The mechanics tell what is wrong using words I have never heard before and I am too manly to ask what they mean, so I just nod and hand over the money...the money for vacation, the money for a motorcycle, the money for the kids’ education, the lunch money, the spare change…until the mechanics tire of making up words.

It’s the same thing at the doctor’s office, but the words sound much scarier.

Episode 1

This is the first episode (that’s right, episode) of this little experiment, so I think it would be appropriate to lay out a vision. After all, we must have a purpose, a goal, something measureable by which to track our success. (We won’t worry about failing because failure is for people who are unable to redefine success).

Well, they don’t give me enough time on this to come up with a good vision statement, so we are going to have to settle for an attainable, but challenging, goal.

Here it is: I will turn this thing in on time each week, if I can. There, I should be able to keep that in sight at all times.

Your goal, yes you need to have one too if this is going to be fair, is to read it each week. That’s not so hard is it?

Now we can all feel good about accomplishing something every week. Moreover, if you don’t read it, you may miss important and exciting information, like if you email me I will send you a free Bugatti Veyron. That is not actually true, but it could have been, so keep that in mind as you plan your weekly reading schedule.

Come back next week to hear about current events, child rearing, balloon-riding skydivers, ridiculous warning labels, potty-training mishaps, bad inventions, good music, Nim Chimpsky...

What? I only have a few words left? But you said I could say whatever I wanted in here. How can I give something useful to everyone if I don’t have the space I need? Right, well, you might have told me that earlier, before I wasted all that time with useless banter…
Anyway, we will discuss all sorts of timely and relevant topics. However, the most important thing we will do is m

[My apologies for having to cut this week’s column short, but we must stick to the rules about word count in this world of limited resources. – The Editor]