4.25.2006

Read the Fine Print

Everyone gets them from time to time. They come in almost everyday looking either plain or interesting and usually they come in multiple groups. No, I’m not talking about rashes, I’m talking about credit card offers.
A standard credit card offer comes with a lot of paper. One could probably fuel a wood-burning stove well into the dead of winter with enough of these babies. They either come with additional offers, fake looking checks, some sort of gift idea that you really want to give anyone even yourself, or some promise of a reward point for being an idiot. In any case, what you have is a letter that means one thing and says another.
In every letter, they have text that tries to make you feel good like you did something right just because you exist. “And you deserve it!” Well, hey thanks! That’s awfully nice! There’s a lot of nice people in Wilmington, DE. Or is there?
Of course there is a lot of info about credit cards, how bad they are, how they suck you in and you can’t get out … blah blah blah. You don’t even really have to get into that. Just look at the letter. If you take out all the inserts and the additional pamphlet of words in a font the size of a grain of salt, you are left with a strange letter that seems ominous.
One letter stated that I should really get a new deck for my home to entertain people during the summer. Of course, they don’t really know me because it says plainly on the address that I live in an apartment. If I set out to build a deck on the second floor, it wouldn’t take long to see that the endeavor would be fraught with peril. Along with their suggestions of illegal modification to my apartment, they offer rates and dates and great other things all accompanied by strange little symbols. The symbols refer to footnotes at the end of the letter in the similar grain small font that negate everything promised in the letter. To illustrate, I will write a letter using similar tactics. Behold a letter to a long lost imaginary friend:

Hey Topo,

It’s been a long time and I just wanted to catch up.† I’ve been doing well at my job at the financial company. Yeah, I’m still there! It’s a good job.†† I’ve moved out of the apartment and am now a homeowner. Never thought it would happen!§ Last I heard you were still up doing some freelance with that ad agency. Still doing that?1 We should keep in touch more often. My email address is
onebadgopher@yahooey.com ‡ Don’t be a stranger!†

Later,

Bubba

† - I feel guilty about not keeping in touch, so I’m doing this out of purely selfish reasons
†† - My 500lb coworker constantly reeks of bad fish
§ - I’m in over my head
1 – You squeaked by in college and you make more than me doncha? Can you spare some?
‡ – I’m not giving you my main email address


As you can see, there’s a lot hidden in the fine print. Rather than a quick letter of an attempt to rekindle an old friendship, you have the pathetic cry of a broken man wondering how he can escape. Credit Card letters are the same except that the person sending it to you is the 500lb fish-eater with the interesting rash.

4.21.2006

My Special Talent

I’ve always believed that everyone has a special talent. We go through life and we may or may not ever discover it. The average bookkeeper may be really good at the banjo but never be near one.
To be talented at something doesn’t always mean it is something that you enjoy. Just because you can belch pi to the 34th decimal place doesn’t mean you should do it nor try to build a career out of it. If you did, someone would be able to belch out the golden ratio and you’d be looking for work at local church chili feeds.
All that I’m saying is that you should never give up looking for that one special thing. Sure, it might be disappointing, but at least you know the Truth.

Me? Well, I’m not too aware of my special talent, but something bizarre has been happening the past couple years. At the local Japanese Restaurant I’ve noticed that I can catch things in my mouth. Whenever the chef throws zucchini or shrimp bits, I seem to land them perfectly.

This is a surprise to me since I’m an very uncoordinated and bump into things a lot, but it is nonetheless interesting to me. The last thing I want to do is test it further for if I am really good at it, I’ll be harnessed by NASA to help with dangerous meteorites entering Earth or something. Rather than weave a special techno-space net, some guy name “Chad” will suggest: “Hey, I saw this guy on Leno last night that can catch things with his mouth, let’s use him!” And so they would shoot me off into orbit without a facemask and as I would careen with a meteor, the last words I hear over my headset would be “Okay, open wide!”

On second thought, keep your special talents to yourself. You might live longer.

4.13.2006

Hollow Chocolate Easter lesson

Easter is upon us. For those of you who don’t know, Easter is the holiday that is more theologically significant yet not as materialistically celebrated as Christmas. Nevertheless there are things to buy, though most of it has to deal with bunnies laying eggs or something like that. Whether your pagan, Jewish, Christian or a guy named Hubert, we call all agree on one thing. Chocolate Easter Bunnies should be solid.

I remember seeing my first chocolate Easter bunny. It was in its own box which meant that it was super secret special and not to be associated with the other festive candy such as pastel jelly beans, chocolate coins or those weird goopy yolk egg things.

My little 5-year-old brain proceeded to deduce that the box was there to protect the enormous quantity of chocolate hidden within its bunny structure. It smiled through the plastic film in a “boy, you can’t wait can you!” but I did. I waited until the last moment. It would be the grand finale of Easter munching.

Unlike Halloween, you are given a predetermined amount of candy in various sizes and forms. If one takes an accurate accounting of the spoil, the ratio of good candy to bad is directly proportional to the number of houses you visit. Halloween is quantity over quality essentially whereas Easter could possibly win out on quality, but there is one hindering factor to Easter candy.

3rd Party Chocolate Vendors

Who are these guys? They seem to show up around this time with the cheapest chocolate around. It’s as if the guys from Hershey and Mars said – “Hey, let the B squad go after this holiday” and sure enough you wind up with odd tasting chocolate from Mexico or Uganda wrapped in lead foil depicting a bunny in short pants carrying a basket of eggs from unknown origins. The outcry was enormous to the point that Big Chocolate re-entered the ring and are clawing their way back by changing their colors to a more pastel-y rendition.

That’s fine, but that doesn’t explain the chocolate bunny. As mentioned before, this was a preciously protected crescendo of chocolate. One removed from the container I went forcefully for the ears with a carefully calculated force to bite through a full inch of chocolate only to have my teeth meet together in head jarring smash as bits of exploded bunny ear shrapnel ricocheted off of my face, basket, TV and probably my brother’s head. The darn thing was hollow!

HOLLOW!

Just like the tomb on the third day, my bunny’s body was empty. Melted down, the chocolate bunny was no bigger than a heresy fun size bar so why the secrecy? Why the hype? Well, I took the lesson that cocoa commodities could not support a filled chocolate bunny at the desired size and still be affordable or nutritious for a kiddie.

And that’s probably for the better – just remember to brush afterward.

4.07.2006

Free! Unlimited non-inventory!

While traveling around town the other day, I spotted a sign at a gas station that made a bold claim:

"Red Bull. In stock or it's FREE!"

At first, I thought this was very bold and very generous offer. They seemed to be very confident in their Red Bull stock. Then it hit me - If they were out of stock, what would happen? I know that they said "It's Free!" but what would be free? I'm left to only conclude that they are meaning that I can stock my little car with as much as I can of great quantities of Red Bull that they do not have.

I would probably have to make several trips to carry the load of non-red bulls. Maybe I could finish off a couple thousand in the car to lighten the load.

So keep an eye on those Red Bull shelves. Be ready to pounce on the promise of unlimited non-red bulls - it's the best deal in town!