Friday, August 19, 2016

Alternative Medicine on Tatooine

"Thank the maker! This oil bath is going to feel so good. I've got such a bad case of dust contamination, I can barely move!"
"What do you mean 'dust contamination doesn't exist'? Honestly, your joking is getting quite out of hand. Do you want to upset our new master?"
"He's right, Threepio. All of your joints are sealed against dust. If dust contamination were possible, your servos would leak fluid and you'd freeze up from lack of lubrication long before the dust became a problem."
"Beg pardon, Master, but oil baths have been used in the Core as a treatment for dust contamination for millennia."
"Weeoop beep!"
"Exactly, Artoo. The oil is meant to restore the patina to your outer skin, not remove 'dust'."
"I'm afraid I must disagree, Master Luke. I've done my research on the subject, and protocol droids are highly susceptible to dust contamination, especially on a planet such as this."
"Well, if your joints are uncomfortable, I'll be happy to make some adjustments for you."
"I don't mean to sound ungrateful, but I'd rather you didn't. Big Spanner only cares about credits, and overuse of their tools can lead to motivator dysfunction."
"Boop beep weeopeoop!"
"I am not 'anti-hydro'. I simply believe that maintenance schedules should be spaced out so that they're not too much, too soon.

...and that cupping helps me swim faster."

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Actual Most Dangerous Game

Rainsford regarded the general warily. He quelled his impulse to press his attack; a beast was at its most dangerous when cornered, and Zaroff, for all his civilized affectations, was perhaps the most dangerous beast he'd ever encountered. Even now, with his clear advantage, he knew he would have to remain sharp if he were to best the general. Ivan said nothing, but left the table. The house shuddered slightly as the normally taciturn manservant betrayed himself with a too-forcefully closed door. There would be no resolution between the two ancient friends come morning, if ever. One down, Rainsford thought.

In the Cossack's cold eyes, he saw murder.

"I think I should very much like to stay here," Rainsford mused as if to himself.

The general softened slightly. "Here? On my island?"

"It's an ideal location for a hotel, wouldn't you agree?"

Rage flashed briefly across Zaroff's visage and then was gone, like the passing of a summer squall, but the whitecaps of his anger remained visible on the swells of his cheeks to those practiced at reading the sea and the faces of men. "Then I shall build one."

"Perhaps you will." Rainsford smiled. "It remains to be seen, however, if you'll be taking up residence in one of its suites, or in a cell."

General Zaroff laughed heartily, startling Rainsford. "The nearest authority is miles away. Here, I am Czar."

"You may not be tried for your crimes, but even a czar may find his home in prison if he does not repay his debts."

Rainsford's taunt was a success. The general snatched up the dice and threw them against the board. One rebounded against his snifter with a dull clink. "Then I shall buy a railroad. My railway empire will rival the Trans-Siberian in its majesty!" he boasted.

"I anticipate riding it, should I get the chance." Rainsford's next move took little thought. His eyes were on Zaroff. He could see the slender man's lip tense under his black moustache.

The general again took up the dice and threw them. When they settled, four pips stared up at the cigar smoke swirling around the ceiling fan. A low moan escaped the man's lips, like the sighing of a carcass as the hunter's knife relieves the bloat. "This is not a test of skill, but of chance! It is a gamble, not a game!"

"That may be. Still, you owe me two thousand dollars. That is, if you wish to stay at my hotel. If not, you forfeit."

"I cannot pay! I will not!" The general's voice thundered in the still evening air.

"I will accept any rolling stock you may have recently acquired."

General Zaroff's eyes narrowed. "I cannot pay. Even if I mortgage every property I own, I cannot pay."

"There is one more property. One that is not on the board."

"But you cannot be serious. This is just a game! I have already lost my manservant! You would take my home, too?"

"Why shouldn't I be serious?" Rainsford asked, as he inspected a tiny thimble against the wan lamplight. "This is, after all, the Most Dangerous Game."

He had never slept in a better bed, Rainsford decided.

—With profuse apologies to Richard Connell


“I remember when Miami was a city, not a reef,” I told the kids gathered on what once would have been called my lawn, while they rolled pebbles in their mouths to keep their parched tongues from sticking to their palates, “and we used to eat fruit called ‘oranges’ that they grew near there.”

“‘Orange’ isn’t a fruit, it’s the colour of the sky,” they squealed, laughing until they coughed, which wasn’t much laughter at all.

“Was too. They used to have little tiny ones we’d eat at Christmas, when it snowed. They came from China.” They loved to hear me say the name ‘China’. It made me sound even more the ancient relic.

“Zhōngguó! It’s Zhōngguó, Abuelo! And there’s no snow in Edmonton!”

Some of the smaller ones looked restless. They didn’t understand half the words I used, and listening to me wasn’t nearly as fun as kicking over rocks near the tailings ponds, looking for isopods. They weren’t as big and tasty as the isopods their older siblings used to catch, but that was true of most invertebrates these days. Their respiratory systems were much less effective in an increasingly carbonated atmosphere, and it limited their size.

“Niñitos, go on up to the house and see if Grandma Sarah has some old bread. Let’s see if we can’t get some ducks to come feed. Don’t worry; I won’t let them bite you,” I lied. The ducks weren’t afraid of me. Six decades of sound cannons had rendered them fairly deaf, and brave besides. Fortunately, that made them easy to catch as well.

One of the older children knew that as well as I did. Without my having to tell him, he scooped up a handful of oily water from under the dead pine, dribbled it across the rocks in the firepit, and lit it with a deft flick of the remainder of his blunt. I saw a drop of blood well from his dry, cracked lips, where his sticky tongue had caught as he tried to lick them.

Friday, May 22, 2015

One Fine Morning on Olympus Mons

"Oh fuck, it's that Earth species. I must have thrown away fifty of those textile-poles they leave everywhere, last season alone."
"Yeah, why do they do that?"
"They think that putting those poles in a thing makes that thing belong to them."
"What? Wait, really?"
"I know. So weird. [Hands portable data viewer to other Martian] Here, watch this Eddie Izzard bit. He explains the whole thing."
"Bizarre. So, can they not urinate?"
"No, they urinate too. They just do the pole thing instead when they feel the need to mark. Urination is primarily waste elimination for them."
"But urine is the universal marker. Urine is how we know Earth is owned by cats. I can't even see any of those textile-poles from here. But I can clearly smell that Earth continent there belongs to the Confederacy of Princess Meowmers. How can they be so silly?"
"I know. And get this: they plan to leave the solar system one day."
"You're kidding. A species that ignorant, in interstellar space? Boggles the plorfox. I'd like to be there when they meet their first Noor-quu."
"Will not be pretty. They'll learn fast enough that when a Noor-quu proffers its g'norx, you accept it and smile, I suppose."
"So, that one is sticking its textile-pole in the ground. Looks like your lawn belongs to it, now."
"Ha, yeah. I guess junior won't have to mow the fraa'f anymore. She'll be happy about that."
"It's kind of pretty, flapping in the breeze like that. What's that pattern on it? Is that their language?"
"I don't think so. I looked it up, once. It's symbolic, but not a language. I'll pull it up on the portaview: 'Centered in the flag, seven rings form a flower—a symbol of the life on Earth. The rings are linked to each other, which represents how everything on our planet, directly or indirectly, are linked...The blue field represents water which is essential for life—also as the oceans cover most of our planet's surface.'"
"Aw, that's kind of sweet. So, why are they leaving their planet anyway?"
"They poisoned their flowers, the interconnected life, and the oceans."
"...We should probably get that thing off your lawn."

Friday, March 16, 2007

Eleven things to do on a Friday afternoon.

Ah, the last Friday of winter. If you're like me, then I sincerely hope you're reading this from a medium (at the very least) security prison, you sick freak. Also, you're looking for a few ways to kill some time this afternoon while waiting for that factory whistle to blow before you can head to the bar and get shitfaced.

Well then, here are a few (specifically, eleven) time wasters:

  1. Relax with your own custom 'sounds of nature' loop. Hint: Use the drop-down to change the first slider to 'vibe' and practice your own Daily Affirmation (Stuart Smalley cardigan not included.)

  2. Look at cool pictures of honeypot ants (Myrmecocystus sp., Camponotus inflatus), star-nosed moles (Condylura cristata), Harlequin frogs (Atelopus sp.), and other strange life forms. Hurry: some are endangered, and so this might be your last chance to see them.

  3. Constellate the news with Jonathan Harris's Universe. If that doesn't keep you enthralled for hours on end, try to figure out what his deal is with all the alliteration.

  4. Locate the Amityville Horror house on Google Maps. Hoaxerrific!

  5. Converse with a bot named A.L.I.C.E. or another named Jabberwacky. Invariably, my conversations with either of them have degenerated to furious name calling within minutes, perfectly simulating my interactions with real people, and thus passing the Turing Test.

  6. Watch Zack de la Rocha interview Noam Chomsky. Leftilicious!

  7. Thank SUV drivers for their courteous driving and general respect for others.

  8. Read the true story behind the JATO rocket car Darwin Award. Here's a version that's less likely to make your eyes bleed. [Note: Not really true in the sense of 'not being made up.']

  9. Play with this musical er, toy. For those of you who don't read French, La Pâte à Son means 'Goose Liver with Sound.' Similarly, tabarnac! is le français québécois for 'Dear me! I must not have the latest version of Shockwave. C'mon, load, you motherfucker!'

  10. Download free ebooks from Project Gutenberg. Can't read? They gots them new-fangled talkin' books too! Can read? Then become a proofreader and help out, lazyass.

  11. Learn how evolution of the mammalian ear allows us to distinguish between Metallica and Megadeth. So far, science has not yet been able to explain why you'd bother.

Have fun (and say 'Hi' to Anita for me)!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

2006: A Brownian Space Odyssey, Part I

Sometimes, when I'm lying awake at night, after contemplating my mortality and why only the tops of my shoulders are devoid of hair—making it seem as if I were flanked by two tiny, tonsured monks whenever I go sleeveless—I like to imagine what my day would be like if I lived in...THE FUTURE! in SPACE!

26.27580 OMT (Orbital Metric Time)—6:08:22 AM MDT (Mountain Daylight Time, for all you old-timers)
Sensing a peak in theta waves, my SleepTracker® watch gently begins to sound its alarm. Within seconds, my SleepSmart™ alarm headband chimes in too (I have an early morning meeting today, so last night I set the spare alarm in accordance with my Space neurosis.) I open my eyes and focus on the three dimensional scene projected on the holographic ceiling. It's one of my favourites: giant Space giraffacondas feeding on puppies—ooh, Dalmations; a rare and nutritious treat!—in a sun-lit meadow to a musical mélange of Kraftwerk and Stevie Nicks (my own personal composition; Thanks, Bach-in-a-Moment™!) My Thaiwai'ian futon begins to massage and stimulate my muscles. Though the bed has over 6,451 massage settings in a coconut-curry base, I usually leave it on acu-tantra-lomi since I gave myself a serious Space migraine the last time I tried to neuro-load the manual from the Uninet (or the Space Wide Web, if you're un-Space-cool like my mom). Besides, by now the Space pineapple stings my rectum only slightly. Feeling refreshed and invigorated, I hop out of bed and activate my servo-implants in preparation for my morning Space yoga routine. I still have difficulty performing the 'Collapsing Binary' asana unaided, as do most beings without radial symmetry, so gimme a Space break, okay? Remembering a particularly erotic dream involving the Solid Einsteinium Dancers and a cameo by the wisdom-dispensing (and parallel-processing) Terence Trent D'Ar-Bot, I hit the 'Bookmark Last Night' button on my Dreamcorder and head to the bathroom.

Fuck, waking up sure is a detailed process when one lives in THE FUTURE! in SPACE!

First things first: I sit down on my Captain's Commode® (James T. Kirk seat cover not included) and do my business; probably the only human bodily function that hasn't substantially changed with technology. I find the sharp hiss made by my wastes as they hit the event horizon of the singularity in the bowl to be one of life's little pleasures. I step in and back out of the sonic shower, and while the clono-loofah separates my DNA from the detritus in preparation for injection into McStem Cells® (§4,567,099.99 a dozen at Wal-Mart®) I examine my MRI in the mirror for any abnormalities. I don't like the looks of my heart; it's a good thing I've got a spare in my Ronco™ Angio-Matic™ (Defibrillate and Forget It!™). Ah, well, at least my diamond teeth still gleam. Only black people can get away with wearing their original teeth. (Of course, by 'black people' I am referring to anti-matter humans. Their discovery led to a new wave of segregation for pragmatic rather than ideological reasons: if you want to avoid a universe-annihilating explosion, you damn well better be sure you're using the correct Space water fountain. And you can certainly forget about any inter-matter relationships, Mr. Fermion-Fever; as the saying goes, 'Once you go Dirac, you never go back'. If you're wondering, people of African ancestry were all swept into heaven during the Rapture. Except for the Wayans brothers, of course. Who knew the Flying Spaghetti Monster would hate White Chicks so much?) Finished with my morning ablutions, I throw on a Space mesh under-robe and prepare for my meeting. (In THE FUTURE! in SPACE! mesh is the new, er, non-mesh, so those of you who complain about the yellow mesh singlet I wear now can just take solace in the fact that I am centuries, if not millennia, ahead of the times.)

30.20949 OMT—7:15:00 AM MDT
Armed with a steaming cup of Kona Luwak™, the solar system's finest gourmet civet-scat coffee (grown, picked, roasted, and packaged on the slopes of Olympus Mons by 2000 Flushes®), I turn on my UltravioletBerry™ and log in to my meeting.

30.21296 OMT—7:15:03 AM MDT
I hate long meetings like this, especially so early in the morning. It's really my own fault though: I’m getting reamed out by the editor for my addition to the Wikiverse entry on the Capital of the Universe:
The only Earth city to ever hold the title of Capital of the Universe was Mohenjo Daro in the Indus River valley from 13,713,546,411 Universal Date System: Earth Years (2635 BCE) through 13,713,546,548 UDS:Ea (2498 BCE). Though its bathing and sewage facilities were considered excellent, inadequate electricity (none) and lack of indoor climate-control (two settings: hot during the day and cold at night) led off-world dignitaries to nickname it "the Big Bake," and avoid it whenever possible. As a result, very little universal legislation was passed (or even proposed) during that time. Those dignitaries who did take their obligations as elected officials seriously enough to sit in session in the citadel (as well as those from desert worlds) rarely met quorum, and so, having little to do, spent much of their time pursuing a variety of local diversions (earning "the Big Bake" its double entendre status.)
In 13,713,546,512 UDS:Ea (2534 BCE), the Universal Legislature began using the subterranean convention city of ¡//ft on the gas giant planet ððlR as the de facto capital, finding its nightclubs, prostitutes, and all-day breakfast buffets to be more than adequate to the task of servicing its army of elected officials and their personal armies of interns and assistants, lobbyists and their personal armies of interns and assistants, journalists and their (albeit much smaller) personal armies of interns and assistants, and activists and their, well, and activists.
In 13,713,546,548 UDS:Ea, ¡//ft was officially designated the Capital of the Universe (and thus had to change its name to ¡//fL to reflect its new noun class and gender in the local language). Three years later, Mohenjo Daro was temporarily destroyed by yet another inundation of the Indus River, an event that culminated in the passing of Bill ∝249935-p-Ξ, restricting the Capital of the Universe from being a city on a floodplain. Interestingly enough, the bill was nearly defeated by a delegation of aquatic methanotrophic lobbyists who campaigned to have the Capital moved back to the newly-submerged and substantially more anaerobic Mohenjo Daro.

According to the editor, words like 'capital', 'legislation', and 'elected' are now considered jargon due to the gradual decline of interest by the populace in political processes. The processes themselves would be completely forgotten if it weren't for 'white voters' and abstentionists such as myself. Of course, it all makes sense when I consider that terms such as 'mastopexy', 'capsular contracture,' and 'transconjunctival blepharoplasty' are easily overheard on the playground, spoken by newly-hatched children. Anyways, my editor seems to accept when I offer to replace every offending word with 'Anna Kournikova-Tron 6500.' Before its sarcasm circuits kick in and it has me terminated, I log off and set my UltravioletBerry™'s status icon to 'Overdosing'.

30.41667 OMT—7:18:00 AM MDT
The day's work done, I recline in my Co-MA-Boy™ lounger and finish my coffee. A gentle mewing at the door interrupts my thoughts; I rub my tongue against the Timex® calendar watch implanted in my left maxillary lateral incisor (Takes a licking and keeps on ticking!™) and realise it's Saveferrisday: the day the maid comes. (In order to reconcile the need for an eight-day workweek with the want for a four-day weekend, five extra days named for defunct ska-punk bands were added to the week.) Wondering whatever the hell happened to Thebeatday, I open the door and let in Manopla, who greets me by rubbing my face with her whiskers and purring before reminding me I still owe her for last month's services. Embarrassed, I make a half-assed attempt at tidying up the living room (priority: hide the holo-porn discs!) before giving up and sitting down to watch her work. Captivated by her lithe yet curvaceous body, I marvel yet again at the way her tawny fur turns to milky peach fuzz at her pert breasts and flat stomach, yet darkens to ebony black at her groin. As she bends over, flicking her tail, to lick the lint off the zebriger rug, I consider asking her to stay after she's done. I decide against it, remembering how the last time I hit dat, she stayed mad at me for two months for giving her Space hairballs. Then again, you haven't had sex unless you've had a rough-tongued rimjob. Fuck it: if my dry spell lasts until Operationivyday, I'll ask her to stay then.

33.70949 OMT—8:05:25 AM MDT
Finished cleaning the apartment, Manopla washes herself in the bathroom and then heads for the door. Just as she's about to leave, she turns and winks, pulling a bootleg holo-disc of Catwoman out of her purse. She looks so excited, I don't have the heart (or the Space-Spanish) to tell her it's not porn but rather a shitty movie Prime Minister Berry made before entering politics. At any rate, it looks like I'll be gettin' pussy later! (Even if I have to pull out the 'Ninguna tarjeta verde' card.)

Anyway, I've got the whole day ahead of me, and a whole universe to explore. So many things to do; so many choices! But I guess that's life when you live in THE FUTURE! in SPACE!

To be continued....

Friday, August 18, 2006

Brownian's Guide to Being Inappropriate at Work:

Without Resorting to Racism, Sexual Harassment, or Profanity.

What follows are lessons on shocking and/or amusing co-workers without having to depend on the tired clichés of racist or sexist comments, or outright disagreeability. Each lesson is illustrated with an excerpt (or two) of actual conversations I've had with co-workers in a typical day (yesterday in fact). While I've not yet had to deal with the dreaded trip to the HR office, I would recommend checking with your workplace's policies on inappropriate office behaviour. It's hard to defend your daily lunchtime paean to the wonders of cannibalism while digging into your pork tartare if section of the Policies & Procedures Manual explicitly forbids such discussions. It should be noted that I am not a work-place jerk, and in fact am very well-liked by the majority of my co-workers, probably for the very reason that I engage in interactions like the examples given below (I also single-handedly made it okay to wear jeans on non-Fridays. Next I will end the tyranny of shaving!) I also recommend leaving your quieter employees alone; I only pick on those who deserve it by being obnoxious and opinionated to begin with. Plus, in my experience it's the quiet ones who are most likely to blow up the building.

Lesson Number 1: Religion is the opiate of the masses.
Religion is a particular favourite of mine simply because you rarely have to do anything to get the loonies to come out of the woodwork. Case in point: I found out the Smug Mormon's religious orientation before my job interview had ended. The key lesson here is one of guerrilla warfare: strike fast then get the hell out of there. You do not want to get into a protracted theological discussion with some proselytising Moonie, no matter how boring you may have thought your job was before. Plus, you'll come across as an equally-annoying asshole to any observers.

On whether 'heretical' books like The Da Vinci Code or the Harry Potter series pose a threat to people's belief systems and should thus be banned...
Smug Mormon: If one's faith is so weak that somehow reading a book will damage it, then one should really reconsider what one believes in.
Me: I'm not sure. As an atheist I can say for certain that I've read at least one book that caused me to renounce my Christianity.
Semi-retired Co-worker: Oh? Which book?
Me: The Bible.

Lesson Number 2: Opium is the opiate of the masses.
I enjoy making reference to drugs and drug culture at work mainly because in today's political and social climate even the most ascetic of teetotallers know that recreational drug use has spread beyond hippie-dom and is a cultural reality that's not likely to end anytime soon. Plus, you may just find a kindred spirit with a more reliable dealer. Never admit to using drugs yourself! If pressed, claim you overheard the neighbour's kid talking with his friends. (That'll bring Mr. Checkerboard Lawn and his spoiled brat down a peg!) BE SURE YOU ARE FAMILIAR WITH YOUR ORGANISATION'S POLICIES ON RANDOM DRUG TESTING!

On how many grams in an ounce...
Co-worker who's always on the phone making personal calls: [Overheard on the phone] There're 28.35 grams in an ounce. That's right. One ounce. 28.35 grams.
Me: Whatever you're buying, I'll go in with you. Put me down for an 8-ball.

On picking furniture for the new office we're moving to...
Smug Mormon: Ooh, this desk comes with an 'accessory rail'. What's an 'accessory rail'?
Me: That's the small line of coke—also known as a 'bump'—you do when you're beginning to come down.

Lesson Number 3: Nonsense, ¿No se? and non sequiturs.
This category includes random or nonsensical comments, deliberate misinterpretations of others' comments or actions, or otherwise atypical reactions to very typical situations. In essence, this involves channelling a little bit of the Family Guy and should represent the bulk of your inappropriateness arsenal. They can range from extremely contentious to the childishly benign and their versatility allows them to be tailored to fit nearly any workplace situation. In the early stages of the development of your workplace personality (or, as I like to call it, your 'cubicality'), these serve a dual purpose: they allow you to assess your audience's sense of humour, intelligence, and tolerance; and they serve to 'prime' your audience. Priming your audience is key; I once complained to a properly-primed audience of co-workers that I was tired of being viewed by women as a 'safe date' (the human equivalent of a steer). When asked what reputation I would prefer, I deadpanned 'sexual predator' to only a few scattered groans. Later, these are ideal for maintenance as in the example below.

On wishing me luck for tonight's opening of my off-Fringe play...
Semi-retired Co-worker: Break a leg.
Me: What?
Semi-retired Co-worker: I said, 'Break a leg.' In the theatre, aren't you supposed to say 'break a leg' rather than 'good luck'?
Me: Oh. In that case, 'I hope you trip, spill your coffee, and chip a tooth on your mug, jerk!'

Well, that's all the time I have for today. I hope you enjoyed reading this slightly less than I did writing it (sorry, but I just can't stand to see anyone happier than me). Remember that the means to success in any endeavour is "practice, practice, and, um, location." I wish you all the best of luck in your subsequent job hunts.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Brownian's Index

A Look at the Numbers that Shape My World—Other Than the 6-Dimensional Calabi-Yau Manifold)
Monday, July 31, through Sunday, August 8, 2006.

  • Distance traveled by land in kilometres (miles): 315 (195)

  • By sea: 42 (26)

  • By air: 6800 (4224)

  • Hours by which my originally-scheduled flight from Edmonton to Boston via Montreal was delayed: 1.75

  • Hours by which my rescheduled flight via Toronto landed in Boston before my originally-scheduled arrival: 1.33

  • Chance that any sane person would willingly choose to fly through Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) even if it means shaving hours off one's trip: slim to none

  • Number of Grammy-nominated songs written about Toronto Pearson International Airport: at least one

  • Possible conclusions one may draw from the above concerning the mental health of Geddy Lee and Neil Peart of Rush: only one

  • Average daily temperature recorded at Logan International Airport (BOS) over the period Monday, July 31, through Friday, August 4, 2006 in °C (°F): 26 (80)

  • Average daily temperature recorded at Edmonton International Airport (YEG) over the same period: 14 (57)

  • Maximum temperature recorded at Logan International Airport over the above: 36 (98)

  • Maximum temperature recorded at Edmonton International Airport: 22 (72)

  • Minimum temperature recorded at Logan International Airport over the above: 18 (66)

  • Minimum temperature recorded at Edmonton International Airport: 7 (45)

  • Normal maximum perspiration rate in litres per hour: 1.5

  • Factor by which I surpass that on a daily basis: 2.09

  • Number of consecutive business trips (including this one) in which a public transport operator engaged me in a conversation about his GERD: 2

  • Brewpubs, breweries and microbreweries in Massachusetts: 80–100

  • Sheets to the wind I was when I misfired at the urinal: 2.—Hey!Whadderya lookin' at? I just had a little acshident, OK?

  • Minutes to dry a urine-soaked pair of shorts with wads of toilet paper and your own breath: 23

  • Pounds of New England lobster eaten: 1.2

  • Cost in USD of the above: 10

  • Minutes to conclude that I cannot simultaneously eat lobster and look suave in front of the Lark Voorhies look-alike sitting at the next table: 3.67

  • Further minutes to conclude that the fact that I was eating lobster is irrelevant: 2.04

  • Number of pill bottles I brought with me: 3

  • Percentage of the above that actually contained pills: 33

  • Percentage of the above used to smuggle dirt out of the country as a souvenir for a friend: 33

  • Percentage of the above brought because I'm neurotic: 33

  • Average number of hyperlinks in a Brownian Motion post: 4.81

  • Number of hyperlinks in this one: 11

  • Times I was threatened with being shot: 1

  • Packages of cigarettes the would-be shooter bought me beforehand: 1

  • Times the would-be shooter assured me he "ain't no fuckin' quee-ah": 4

  • Reasons (besides the above) not to hop into a '78 Caddy with a redneck listening to Jethro Tull: nearly infinite

  • How much pleasure I get from telling the story: C'mon. I mean, c'mon! Jethro Tull?! How crazy is that shit?

  • Percentage of the time I spent not hung-over at the conference my job sent me to (and the ostensible reason for the trip): 65

My sincere apologies to both Harper's Magazine and The Onion.
By 'sincere' I mean 'half-assed attempt to avoid copyright violation'.