I had an unpleasant surprise today when I was testing a new site I’m setting up using 1&1 web hosting… I mistyped the URL, and lo and behold, instead of showing any kind of useful error page for the 404, the server neatly redirected my browser to a completely different URL, “domparking.php” at the “sedoparking.com” domain. [I’m carefully not linking, and don’t visit the page; I’m sure they get advertising revenue from it.]
I’ve seen default 404 pages where the host sneaks in a few of their own ads, and that’s kind of annoying. But there’s still a message in there somewhere that tells the person they hit a bad link.
I was googling the word “intractable”, just to make sure I wasn’t misusing it too egregiously in the post I just put up… and right there, the fifth result on the very first page, was a hiccup cure.
Doesn’t everyone who’s ever had the hiccups want to know a cure? And this is not just “my grandma always said breathing into a paper bag would do it, and it seemed to work sometimes”, but an abstract of a paper on the NIH.gov website.
Take one simple conversation with a neighbor, add a few late night walks in the dark, and it develops into a complete utopian/dystopian vision of the not-so-distant future.
First, the conversation: we were talking about everyday marital strife, and she mentioned how her husband wants to redo the roof himself — it’s a relatively straightforward project, he’s retired and has the time, and they’d save a lot of money. Her response is that his life cannot possibly be worth the money saved. Result: intractable argument. How can either side prevail? She spoke about couples taking turns “winning” arguments as a way out.
My thought is that it’s actually a question of data. What’s the actual risk that he’d injure or kill himself? If he takes the proper precautions (like a safety line, ladder spotter, etc.), can he make working on the roof safer than driving the car to the store? If yes, her argument goes away. If not — particularly if amateur roof work is dangerous even if the homeowner believes they’re taking precautions — then she wins.
I remember finding the Internet Anagram Server, some years ago, and (of course) plugging in my own name to check all the possibilities. It’s a good one for anagrams:
- He no brawl
- Labor hewn
- Bean whorl
- No herb law!
- Blah owner
- Whole bran
- Blew a horn
- Her own lab
- Ban Howler
- Brawn hole (whoa, there)
- Hare blown
- Nab her owl!
- La Web Horn
- He, lawn orb
- Horn be law
But I was soon to realize that not everyone’s name has so many interesting and (mostly) pleasant possibilities.
You might expect a political post here, but I’m staying away from all that for now.
Instead, I’d like to share a sort of torture technique (I know, this sounds like I’m discussing US politics again, but bear with me) that I thought up for the benefit of my little sister, long ago.
Here’s how it works:
- You give the aforementioned little sister a phrase, asking her to repeat it over and over again.
- She considers the phrase; it is innocuous and probably nonsensical.
- She plays along and repeats the phrase, hopefully for the benefit of other siblings or possibly parents.
- Although SHE is primed to hear only the random words you gave her, everyone ELSE hears something entirely different.
This will make more sense with an example.
Once, long ago, in a land far, far away from where I live today, I waited with one or more of my siblings in the family sedan while one or more of our parents ran into one or more of the nearby shops to enact one or more unknown transactions.
The memory is a bit fuzzy.
But nearby, there was a GNC store — one of those odd places selling bottle after bottle plastered with statements which have not been evaluated by the FDA, containing vitamin supplements, herbal remedies, essential minerals and other products not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, but nonetheless startlingly expensive.
And for some reason, we started trying to come up with what the letters “G.N.C.” might represent, and somehow one of us dug into our Catholic upbringing and came up with “Jesus, Mary & Joseph”. Doesn’t work, you say? Well, try it “Geezus, Nary & Chofus”. Stir in a thick Irish brogue, rasp the voice up a bit, and belt it out with unflappable authority and a strong note of outrage, and you’ve got a truly magnificent exclamation.
Which day in review? Could be just about any day, I guess.
Welcome to my work area. Someday I will upgrade to an actual desk, instead of a pile of cardboard boxes and flooring basically held together by the cables winding through it.
The setup actually has improved slightly since this photo was taken –I finished installing the lock on the door, and could remove the microphone stand which at the time was the only thing holding it closed. There isn’t much crime around here, but when you live in a former post office which still has “Postes Telegraphes Telephone” engraved on the front (and “Caisse Nationale d’Epargne” for good measure… that’s a savings bank) it’s best to have doors that can’t just be pushed open.
So this is one project on my list, though it’s not high on the list… it works, right?
So, she has a bed, and it’s absolutely large enough for her, but sometimes she doesn’t seem clear on how to use it.
This is Bella.
We imagine her full name to be Mrs. Bella Bang, principally because she sometimes has the air of a lady “of a certain age” as they say here, who carries a somewhat behind-the-fashion but very sturdy handbag which she is not afraid to swing with great force when some young rapscallion is raising a ruckus and needs some manners knocked into him.
Gave him a thwack on the earhole and sent him to bed without any dinner, eh Mrs. Bang?
That’s exactly right.
To set the scene: it is just barely December 25th, around 1:30 in the morning. I’m out with Mrs. Bella Bang for that last walk before bed. We walk out past the sheltering yellow streetlights, into a narrow lane leading out into farmland. It’s dark and quiet. We don’t bother with the flashlight because we know the way, and the moonlight is just enough for us to avoid the ditch. There’s a field on our left which is generally empty during the day, though sometimes we see cows in it at a distance — brown ones, with horns (but still of the lady variety, yes). Tonight, though, they are here by the road.
We don’t even realize it at first, because they are almost silent. Mrs. Bang and I both freeze and stare into the darkness when the sighing night wind becomes a deep, breathy sigh from an animal obviously much larger than we are, very close by.