I Couldn’t Help Noticing

Posted on November 15, 2012


Have you seen this ad? The intended impression is that the man in the picture has come up with some revolutionary method for learning a foreign language quickly. As a result, we’re supposed to imagine that linguistics teachers are losing their jobs left and right, forced to sit idly by while the streets suddenly teem with people speaking fluent Lithuanian and Zulu. But, no. The truth is, he’s just an obnoxious guy, and everyone hates him – even his wife and kids. I see his face about four hundred times a day, so that although I’ve never met the man, I now hate him too, which is the true magic of the Internet.

Speaking of languages, I hope you’re aware that the country of Bulgaria doesn’t really exist. There are millions of lost souls wandering around Europe and using some peculiar language they believe is Bulgarian. These poor, deranged individuals appear to be under some sort of spell, like mass hypnosis. Their diet consists entirely of shashlik and shopska and other foods filled with far too many consonants, and this may help to explain why their speech is mostly gibberish.

Toothpaste has an expiration date. Did you know that? Check the tube, down at the very bottom edge. We’re tempted to stock up when the price is right, but that may not be such a good idea. I’m not sure what happens after that date, but maybe fluoride eventually turns into sugar. I’ve always suspected that candy canes were made from old toothpaste. Shampoo also expires, although that information is even harder to find. But if you’ve been wondering why your teeth and hair are falling out, now you know.

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Unlike any other product I can think of, gas prices are precise down to one-tenth of a penny. You might pull up to a pump today and see that regular unleaded is $3.70 and 9/10. There may be a rational explanation for the fraction, but I can’t fathom what it could be. All I know is, if you try to buy one gallon of gas with a five-dollar bill, you will not receive the correct change. And trust me, there’s no sense arguing with the guy at the register, because he’ll just look at you as though you’re the one with issues.

Cryonics is the practice of cooling a deceased body and storing it in a steel canister until science has figured out how to both cure what killed the person and revive them from death. To date, fewer than three hundred people have been cryonically preserved. This low number is due to several factors, including cost; the current price for whole-body preservation is $200,000. Keep in mind, however, that if you go over a cliff while skiing down a glacier and come in already frozen, you’re eligible for a significant discount. A less expensive option is to have only your head put into cold storage, a technique based on the premise that someday we’ll be able to use DNA to regenerate a body. And I know what you’re thinking, but no, if you die at Dairy Queen from complications following brain freeze, there’s no real savings — just fewer forms to fill out. Actually, I’ve considered cryonics as a personal choice, but at the moment am still leaning toward creamation.

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If you call a company and ask to speak to the Head Honcho, you won’t get past the receptionist, because that title is completely fictitious. You can determine this for yourself, as I have. Just look around and try to find some regular or even mid-level honchos. You’ll soon realize that there aren’t any. It stands to reason that in order for someone to be the Head Anything, there must be at least one underling, but in the case of honchos, there are none to be found.

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Daylight Saving Time is another scam. Having to remember to set all of your timepieces back an hour every six months, then ahead an hour six months later, is a waste of valuable energy. It also causes a lot of unnecessary stress, because there’s always one strange clock in the house that defies any kind of manipulation: it has no visible dials, and just a single button that, when pressed, causes different digits to flash. When pressed again, the time stops flashing but goes right back to where it was when you started fidgeting with the thing. My solution is simple yet elegant, and has saved me a great deal of frustration. In the first year of the decade, I set my clocks back ten hours. Then, in the first year of the following decade, I set the clocks ahead ten hours. That way I only have to worry about changing the time once every ten years. There are a few minor drawbacks to this method, of course. For one, I usually eat lunch in the dark. For another, my dentist never seems to be available. But all in all, I’m pretty satisfied with the system.

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You hear a lot of claims that “there are two kinds of people in the world.” This usually turns out to be an amusing joke that reflects the speaker’s lack of math skills, or reveals some clever play on words. But I’ve worked past the humor and have done some serious research. Along the way, I’ve discovered that there are actually 467 kinds of people in the world. But space is limited, so that’s all I can tell you.

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It isn’t your imagination: Dr. Oz really is everywhere. Last week I spotted him at the car wash, and this morning I found him hiding in my coat closet.

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Recent studies have shown that animals can read. And not just apes and chimpanzees – all mammals demonstrate a deep appreciation for the written word. Cows and sheep seem to like keeping up with current events, bears show an especially keen aptitude for literature, and cats and dogs love murder mysteries. This explains why our pets insist on bothering us the minute we sit down with a book. It’s why animals grazing in the field are out before the sun comes up – they’re waiting for the morning newspaper. And if you’re camping in the woods and attempt to read a cheap romance novel to a wild bear, he’ll probably eat you.

By the way, if you’re one of those annoying people who finds great enjoyment in spotting a typo – sorry, but I meant creamation. After death, I’m going to be immersed in a large container of heavy cream, to be revived only after medicine has solved the cholesterol problem, and decided once and for all whether dairy products are bad for us. With any luck, I’ll die at Dairy Queen, and there will be a discount.

Posted in: In Over My Head