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I Think

Page 20


I'm pretty good at hide-and-seek, partly because I'm pretty good at coming up with creative ways to hide things. There are all sorts of ways to hide things. The best ways are hiding things in plain sight. Say you've got, I dunno, a piano, and you want to hide it from your crazy uncle, who figures he can play, but he can't, and it hurts to listen to him try. Well, before he comes over, take the hinges off the piano cover and lean that up against the garage wall with the miscellaneous boards of plywood all garages have. Pluck out all the black keys, and hang them from wind chimes. Take the white keys and caulk them into the veranda floor, so it looks like some kind of mosaic tiling. If you've got any leftover white keys, you can just cover them with ink and extend the wind chimes some more. Take the piano legs and pound one each into the ground next to young trees in the yard, then tie the strings around them, so it looks like you've just transplanted these nice young saplings and are keeping them upright until they're more firmly rooted. All the little hammers and dampers and stuff can be sorted by size and laid out on your workbench next to the size-sorted screwdrivers, drill bits, and wrench heads, like they belong there, and nobody will give them a second glance. At this point, all you should be left with is a pile of miscellaneous boards and blocking. Go out in the garden and bury it. I know it sounds like a lot of work, but at least you won't have to listen to Uncle George playing "Chopsticks" again.


Scholars of computer technology understand that monitors have something called a refresh rate, measured in Hertz, that indicates how bad of a headache you'll get. At 65 Hz, migraines will occur within an hour of using the monitor. At 70 Hz, it takes four hours. At 75 Hz, a day. The lower the refresh rate, the more flicker there is, because the pixels aren't being re-illuminated enough times per second. I think companies waste a lot of money trying to produce faster refreshing monitors at an affordable cost. My monitorary preference (200 Hz) can be achieved inexpensively with existing technology: first, get two 100 Hz monitors and two wall projection devices. Hook both monitors up to the same video card and project both displays onto the same area of the wall. Presto! 200 Hz! Plus, you can make your display 3D by adjusting the tint on one to red, the other to blue, and offsetting the projectors just a little bit.


I think -- no, I am sure -- that I have uncovered the hoax of the gumball machine. Anybody who has ever bought a gumball from a machine understands well this phenomenon: the machine is piled to the brim with red, blue, green, and purple gumballs. The pretty colors attract your attention, so you part with a quarter, and the machine rattles around, and out pops...white. Gumball machines only ever dispense white and yellow gumballs, scientifically the least flavorful of all colors. Clearly the gumball machine has, inside the outer container and hidden by the outer layer of primary color colored gumballs, an inner container with only white and yellow gumballs in it. The colorful gumballs stay where they are, which explains why the machines always appear to be full. When you plug a quarter into the thing, your purchase is dispensed from the inner container. It's just as well. The colored gumballs have been there since the sixties and probably don't taste very good anymore.


It's the age of computers, and all the LANs and WANs out there ensure that every electronic device can be simultaneously connected to every other electronic device. We've all got our own copies of the Library of Congress in our pockets. Therein lies the rub. Who wants to carry around gadgets in our pockets? Pockets are where we keep our car keys, and look how often we lose those. I suppose you think I think I've got a solution for this problem. Well of course. The solution is to turn into cyborgs. Instead of a gadget on a LAN connected to a WAN, you just turn your body into a PAN -- Personal Area Network. Embed a CPU in your brain, and use the preexisting biological transmission lines known as the central nervous system to transmit information between that and all the various device nodes implanted in other parts of your body. Instead of carrying around a cell phone, embed some buttons, a microphone, and a screen display right into your upper arm. Simply raise your arm, and you can talk into it. (This would make proper deodorant selection extra important.) Speak into the microphone, and the sound is transmitted up to the CPU in the brain, which routes it to the antennae grafted onto the tops of your ears. Record the conversation automatically simply by activating your MP3 player/recorder, installed behind your earlobes, where it can play music directly into your auditory canals. Instead of navel-gazing when you're bored, gaze instead on an upside-down LCD belly screen, which is constantly projecting audio-video materials captured by your BodyTivo. An internal pedometer wired directly to your legs transmits information to be projected on a supplementary visual display superimposed directly over your normal field of vision, which also displays a running net total of calories eaten and calories burned. Blood viscosity reports, artery throughput, and appendix cohesion monitors ensure health risks are detected early. Better keep up to date with the latest virus protection software, though, or imagine the havoc a hacker could wreak.


Continuing on the thought of a PAN (Personal Area Network), how would a reliable biological information transmission network implanted into your body work? I suggested overloading the central nervous system, which already exists in the body and is capable of transmitting small electrical signals from one part of the body to another, but I wonder if this is actually wise. Let's say you are using your laptop. Your laptop, of course, is not a separate, standalone item but a device consisting of two separate components, one surgically embedded into each of your thighs. Jacks on the inside of your legs are positioned so they plug into each other when you put your legs together. Voila, an ergonomic split keyboard and a dual-panel display are at your disposal. Anyway, what happens when you are using your laptop, and you want to download a song to your iBody? The download request is transmitted via small electric pulses through the central nervous system up to your brain, which forwards the signals to the antennae fused into your ears, which connect to the Internet via satellites. That's great and all, but that still leaves the matter of the brain interpreting the central nervous system signals as normal sensory inputs. Sure, you can surf the web on your lap, but what if downloading the home page of your favorite web site just happens to send electrical signals through the central nervous system that closely resemble those that are transmitted by your body's natural sense of touch when it is immersed into a vat of scorpions and slime? What if you are talking with your best friend on the cell phone implanted in your arm, and he or she has a voice with the kind of overtones that cause you to smell a mug of hot chocolate that has been left out on the counter for three years? What if emailing your cousin some pictures from last year's DisneyWorld vacation feels like someone lit your lumbar region on fire? No, I think it is best to leave the central nervous system alone after all. Instead, perhaps some kind of surface area network can be installed that would make skin the physical medium for the transfer of information. Ok, so you get a paper cut, and suddenly you're dialing 911 by accident. Better toss that idea, too.


I just developed the most optimal data compression algorithm in existence. It can compress any amount of data down to a single 0 or 1. But it turns out this is somewhat lossy. One time I compressed my web site with it, and it became a 1. Then I uncompressed it, and I got the entire CIA intelligence database. Turns out, that compressed down to a 1 also. I was really mad. I lost lots of work and had to restore my site from an old backup. On the upside, I think I now know where my ex-neighbor is hiding from me.


Human greeting rituals aren't quite weird enough. I think when two people meet on the street, it should go more like this: one guy initiates the greeting by making a reflexively circular inquiry. Because the question has no sensible answer, this extends the courtesy of allowing the other person to answer anything without being wrong. Then one of the people flings a fleshy bit of bio-matter at the other, and the other guy grapples at it with his own, and in this manner the two people demonstrate that they aren't grossed out by each other. Doesn't that sound like a polite and succinct way for people to introduce themselves to each other? Oh wait, I just described saying "How do you do?" and shaking hands.


They say that carbonation drains the calcium from your body, so you shouldn't drink a lot of soda. Why not just put calcium in soda to replenish what the carbonation drains? All you have to do is make the soda with unfiltered ground water from the right place, and there will be enough natural calcium in there to form calcite deposits on the inside of your esophagus. If the FDA doesn't like that, ok, keep using clean water, but do what they do with paint cans: but rather than throwing a metal ball in there, throw a white rock in instead. It will dissolve as it sits on the shelf. Still too unnatural? I think you're right. Let's pass up those ideas and see if carbonated milk will catch on.


A dictionary entry for the word "porpentine" reads: "n. Porcupine. [Obs.] --Shak." I don't want to make any rash generalizations here, but I think it's safe to say you've made it as a writer when dictionaries hundreds of years after your death credit you because you once used a word and do so by only including part of your last name.


I would like to take a moment to respond to this guy "Michael" who made fun of me. Listen up, bucko boy, I am way better than you! My betterness is so stultifyingly dazzling it lights up the sky, whereas you are a gasbagical buffoon. You're just jealous because I have so many great thoughts and you have, like, none. Why, even now, as I upbraid you for your silly little tantrum, I am expounding on my two hundredth thought. How many thoughts have you had, dingwit? What's that, you say? So little, you can't keep count? Yeah, I thought so. That's why I have the "I Think" column, and you have the nothing at all column. But I could just imagine what a column about your thoughts would be like. There would be so few, they'd have to be numbered with negative numbers, probably. Thought number -4: "Duh, uh, uh, uh, I think...toast." Ooooh, that's a good one! People will be enlightened for generations to come over the wisdom of this thought! And let's not forget my favorite, thought number -7: "Duh, uh, uh, uh, I think...dork." Oh, however will I adequately shield my eyes from the brilliant light of number -7!? I should just quit thinking now! The competition is just too great! I'm gonna have to take a severe helping of How Would You Like Me To Shut Your Big Fat Mouth For You? just to cope! Oh wait! I forgot I don't live in the Land of Let's Pretend You're Not a Dundergoob! Ha! Boy do I feel foolish now! For a moment there, I was almost convinced you weren't a total stupid bag! Whoa! Oh wait! Actually, I wasn't nearly almost convinced at all! Because you stinko, finko!! BURN!!!!