Can you imagine what it was like before we had electric pepper grinders with built-in flashlights to light up where you’re grinding? I can’t. It seems like it was a different world back then.
I find it amazing how fast advanced technology gets normalized into our daily lives. If I make a salad, I don’t even consider grinding the pepper by hand. It’s just nowhere in my mindset. Yet, twenty or thirty years ago, my parents would have never dreamed that one day there would be an electric pepper grinder with a built-in flashlight.
My dad told me a story about grinding pepper when he was a little boy. They did it using a wooden contraption with gears and twisting. He said you couldn’t even see where you were grinding some of the time, because the grinder, itself, would block the light. So, not only would pepper miss the salad, but often the entire plate.
I was shocked. Here I was, so caught up in my own world of miraculous modern advances that I took for granted how difficult life must have been without them.
And the sound—the crunch crunch crunch of those archaic pepper grinding devices. Who would want to live like that? The gentle purr of my electric pepper grinder with built-in flashlight is almost comforting to me.
Some people talk about how the world is passing by too quickly—how we don’t appreciate using our hands anymore. But, I can’t imagine what a slog it must have been to manually grind pepper every day. Think of all the time wasted grinding by hand. With my electric pepper grinder, I have the opportunity to check the Times online or keep in touch with friends over email. None of that would be possible if I had to fill my evening manually grinding pepper.
I’m not judging people of the past. I’m sure there was some merit to straining to pepper a bowl of soup or plate of vegetables. I’m simply a man of my own era. The era of electric pepper grinding.
Yet even though I love my electric grinder, I can only look forward with eager wonder towards what new pepper grinding technologies might come along. We live in a remarkable time, on the cusp of the future. It’s beautiful.
As a service to my many four-year-old readers, I thought I give a helpful list of my favorite hiding places during Hide and Go Seek:
- In the space between the couch and the desk .
- Under the bed.
- Inside a mascot uniform.
- Behind a severely obese man.
- Giggling under a pile of dirty bath towels.
- In a kayak floating downstream.
- Above the fridge.
- Behind the fridge.
- Never inside the fridge!
- Inside a giant, hollowed-out foam boulder.
- In the walk-in humidor.
- In a crowded parade.
- Behind a life-size cardboard cutout of Jennifer Lopez.
- Under the hang glider in the garage.
- Inside the grandfather clock. Not the bottom part, that’s too obvious. Up where the gears are.
- In a public radio tote.
- Under the pool table, behind the old Nordic Track machine.
- Inside a friendly robot.
- Suction-cupped to the skylight.
- Inside your fort. (No one'll never guess.)
- Under the dog.
- In the time machine. Being careful not to hit the--
There are only two types of people in the world—cat people or dog people.
Cat people like cats for their independence and willingness to poop in a box. Dog people like dogs for their adoration and ability to clean up dropped food. That’s it. Those are the two types of people.
I guess there is a third type of person—the kind who likes both cats and dogs. Someone who enjoys a box full of poop in their closet and a living Roomba. So, then there are only three types of people in the world.
Wait, I just thought of something. There are probably some people out there who don’t like either cats or dogs. That makes sense, right? Logically? That would mean there are four types of people in the world—cat, dog, cat and dog, neither cat nor dog.
What about turtles, though? Somebody out there likes turtles instead of cats or dogs. Is that a sub-category of the neither-cat-nor-dog group? Oh man, this is getting complicated. Because, there’s probably someone who likes turtles and cats but not dogs. If that’s a sub-category of the cats-only group, then it’s weird that those two sub-categories are diverging. Both people, after all, enjoy turtles. Probably for their little turtle-like faces.
I need to get a pencil and paper. Give me a minute…
Alright, I’m back. I’ve done some preliminary calculations. It seems like there’s an infinite number of types of people in the world. I know that may sound shocking, but the math all works out.
That would mean there are an infinite number of people in the world, one for each type of person. How can all those people fit on one planet? I’ve come up with a theory. It’s that there are both people and anti-people, all existing across multiple dimensions within the same space.
Here, I’ve drawn a diagram … No, not that. That’s a turtle wearing a hat.
Who should I call about this breakthrough finding? Harvard? The Air Force? The world needs to know about these turtle-loving anti-people before it’s too late.
THE WORLD NEEDS TO KNOW!
Influenza season will soon be here. I can tell, because pharmacy ads have turned sinister. How can you avoid becoming a vomiting snot-zombie this winter? By following these helpful tips:
- Wash your hands often with soap. Chinchilla-style dust baths don't count.
- Drink plenty of water or water-like branded sports drinks.
- Avoid shaking hands. Instead, try Eskimo kisses.
- Wear a medical face mask or, if you can afford it, a full Hazmat suit at all times.
- Ask yourself, "What Would Howard Hughes Do?"
- Stay away from crowded places, like your mom's bedroom. BURN!
- Maybe taste isn't the best way to identify mystery liquids on the subway.
- If you see someone who looks sick, hold your breath and cross your fingers as you pass by.
- Boil your nose every night before bed.
- Avoid little germ-incubating toddlers. Including your own.
- Make a voodoo doll of yourself and submerge it in orange juice.
- Get eight to eighteen hours of sleep per night.
- Use antibiotic cleaners. They won't do anything about the flu, but they will create a super resistant strain of staphylococcus, which will help curb overpopulation.
- If you see a suspicious germ, alert a police officer or call 311.
- Have you ever tried a neti pot? Oh my god, it's like an orgasm in your nose.
- Speaking of which, there's this crazy Internet video I'll show you next time you come over to my apartment.
- Laughter is the best fake medicine. Even better than chiropracty.
- Stop being such a pussy, and just get the vaccination shot already.
The following is an excerpt from my memoir, which covers the three years I spent as a Las Vegas mathemagician’s assistant. It’s called A Boy Cut in Equal Halves. Enjoy:
The Great Nerdkin called me into his dressing room to help him with his pocket protector. The pocket protector is what is known in the backstage world of mathemagic as a “tap.” A tiny radio receiver in the device picks up equation results and “taps” lightly against the mathemagician’s chest, giving him the answer. Nerdkin’s tap had gotten jostled and was stuck in base 12.
The entire grand finale depended on that tap. Without it, The Great Nerdkin was just another street hustling math shark, pulling cube roots out of the air for quarters. The finale is what got him out of the dank Bar Mitzvahs and into the big money. Tech conference money.
We worked on fixing the tap for what seemed like hours, but turned out to be only 1/18th of an hour. Curtain was fast approaching, and no mathemagician is ever late for a show. It implies that you’re bad with numbers.
The Great Nerdkin flung the pocket protector against the mirror and said, “We’re switching over to Bertrand’s Postulate.”
It was a risky move. We’d never successfully pulled off Betrand’s Postulate. It was an untested math trick that applied Chebysev’s proof of Joseph Betrand’s conjecture that there is at least one prime between n and 2n − 2 for every n > 3. If it went wrong, someone could get hurt. Probably me.
“We’ll need a plant in the audience to throw out a Ramanujan prime,” I said, nervously.
“Get Rummy,” roared Nerdkin.
Rummy was former Applied Number Theory professor who’d turned to alcohol when one of his finite fields turned out to be infinite. He’d hang out at the stage door hoping to sell mathemagicians his elliptic curve cryptosystem tricks. He had his moments of lucidity, but only between drinks eight and eleven.
I was already wearing my sequined leotard for the Floating Variable trick. I’d have change into my civilian clothes to reach Rummy before the end of the first act, and then I’d have to get back in time to apply my fake moustache.
Could I make it? Would we be able to pull of the Postulate? I calculated my odds within four decimal points, and they didn’t look good…
My favorite movie from the 80’s has to be Miracle Bikini Factory (1985). I used to stay up all night in hopes USA Network would show it. I wonder if it still holds up.
The plot was pretty standard:
Tad Gunther plays Kip Hartman, a lovable beach bum with great hair and cool shades. The film starts with Kip getting caught in the stock room with his boss’s topless wife. (It’s all a comical misunderstanding, but I don’t want to ruin how she ends up topless.) So, Kip gets fired.
He goes to stay with his equally lovable beach bum friends, who just got evicted when their homemade robot went haywire. Its beer dispenser was set to the wrong level. Now where are they gonna stay?
The answer comes in the form of a stiff, English butler carrying an envelope on a silver platter. It’s the last will and testament of Kip’s great-aunt Gertrude. She’s left Kip a bikini factory, located right on the boardwalk.
Unfortunately, when Kip and his friends get there, the factory is in complete disrepair. Some of the chairs are turned over and the walls are scattered with neon-colored graffiti. It seems like there’s no way they can get it working … until Kip finds a magic lamp under a pile of bikinis.
That’s when Jeanie the Genie shows up. She’s been stuck in the lamp, because she flunked out of genie school. Maybe she’s just what the guys need to keep the bikini factory from foreclosure at the hands of Mr. Snively, Kip’s ex-fiancé’s father.
There’s an extended montage, where the guys convince models on the beach to help them clean up the factory.
They throw a huge party, and Jeanie magically makes a heavy metal band’s tour bus break down right outside. Everybody’s there, including Kip’s ex- fiancé, whom Jeanie gets jealous of. But, Jeanie doesn’t get a chance to profess her love to Kip, because Mr. Snively has the police come and confiscate all the money from the party.
Their only hope is the annual Beach Obstacle Course Competition, where the winner gets $10,000. (At this point I should mention that Jeanie can’t make money appear, because her powers don’t work when she’s in love.) The models stay up all night making team uniforms, which are bikinis with neon-colored spray paint.
The obstacle course scene is shot in slow-motion.
They end up getting disqualified, because it’s against the rules to have a beer-dispensing robot for a mascot. All seems lost until an Arabian sheik pulls up in a limousine and loves the team uniforms so much that he orders enough to save the factory.
Jeanie tells Kip that she loves him, which breaks a spell and turns her into a normal girl. Kip’s beach bum friends marry the models. And, it turns out that the butler, the sheik, and Mr. Snively were all Jeanie’s father is magical disguise. He’s the King of Genies, and he just wanted his daughter to find love and marry a loveable beach bum with great hair and cool shades.
You know, pretty standard plot. Good movie, though, if I remember it right. There may have been snowboarding involved somewhere in there.
Excuse me, are you Mike? The sign outside said Mike's Garage. Can I ask you a question about my car?
It's been making a funny noise for a while now. Maybe two weeks? At first, it was kind of a "whrrr whrrr krickk," but lately it's making a sound like "chrck chrck chrck kkkkillllll thhhhemmm. Kkilllllll thhhhemmm alllllll." Do you know what that might be?
At first, I thought it was the fan belt, but I don't really know anything about cars. I wouldn't recognize the fan belt if I saw it. Maybe the alternator?
Here, I'll do it again. The noise is coming from the right towards the front, and it sounds a bit like "chrck chrck chrck kkilllll thhhhemmm. Waaaattch thhhemm bleeeed."
Do you think it's the alignment? I just had it realigned last spring. I hope this is an easy fix, because it's starting to keep me up at night. Even when the car's not running, I still hear this low "crrck crrck kkilllll" in my dreams.
I had this same, exact problem with my previous car. That was back in Omaha, before I moved and changed my name. Back then, though, it was because I still had fingerprints. That can't be the problem now.
Mike, are you backing away slowly? Oh, Mike, don't do that. You don't want to make the car angry, do you?
I had a thought that it might be something rattling against the drive shaft. Like possibly some unclean souls? But, like I said, I don't know much about cars.
Here, I've got AAA. Sorry if the card's a little sticky.
Do you take Visa?