Monday, December 13, 1999
The Worst Christmas Gift Of All
First, that is NOT my house that appears in yesterday's entry. The
Internet gremlins have once again pulled a trick on me by substituting
a photo of THEIR choosing for the one I sent out into the ether.
Shame on you if you took a look and thought, "Yep - just the sort of place
I'd expect the author of a journal like this to have." To point out
just one of the many distortions these gremlins have made: My yard
Santas are licensed professionals who clearly display their photo IDs above
their clip-on name tags.
Second, someone from the U.S. Department of Unidentified Online Objects
(USDUOO) dropped me a note asking, "So, like, is your journal supposed
to be actual writing or something?"
Yes! Had you looked just a bit closer you would have seen that it's
made up of the standard nownz, reverbs, pretendicates, passed partisupials,
and gerundheits all writing should be. Guess you were just too busy
"shaking your packages" to notice, Herr Inspectator, eh?
Speaking of presents, I got Jester the "See 'N Spray" he's been standing
at the back door crying for. The big question remains, "What do I
get my wife since she already has two See 'N Sprays she doesn't use?"
Every year I'm stumped and this year is no exception - "this year" being
a subset of "every year."
Draw two circles - one inside the other - and see for yourself. Remember:
Never trust authority. Never.
Great. In the time it's taken you to do that, I've come up with
a gift idea for Amy. Click here if you want to see what it is and
you are not Amy.
Let me rephrase that. Draw two new circles. Label one Amy.
Label one whatever your name is. Are they the same circle?
Do not click on the above link!
The question becomes: Is $19.99 too much to spend? Consider:
It will actually cost me $21.29 after the sales tax is added.
Draw two newer new circles. Label one $19.99 and the other $21.29.
Which circle is bigger? Which circle is more nearly round?
Is answering these questions any help at all? Tell me how.
When I drew my circles and tried to answer these questions, I came to the
conclusion I was merely avoiding facing harsh reality yet again....
All of which reminds me of the absolute worst Christmas gift I have ever
received in my entire life. I've mercifully forgotten who gave it
to me but I can recall only too well what it was: A Button That Stops Time.
I know, I know - I used to think I really wanted one, too. I might
even have asked for it - I don't remember. All I can say for sure
is, "What a pain in the ass."
If you're tempted to draw circles to help you visualize that, make sure
you make the ass circle boyishly cute and the pain circle big, ugly, red,
What's wrong with my Button That Stops Time? I'm not sure.
I never got up the nerve to try it. I guess that's what's wrong with
it - the thing is simply too frightening to try!
Consider: If I stop Time, how is that different from ending everything
forever? I don't see any difference. Nothing can move.
I'd never be able to start time again, since that would require moving
at least a finger. Not even thoughts could be formed, since it's
pretty obvious these days that thoughts are nothing more than precise arrangements
of chemical and electrical charges in the brain. If those chemicals
and charges can't move, can't change - well, the brain might as well be
dead, right? So: A Button That Stops Time is actually a Cosmic
If there's a worse Christmas gift imaginable than that, I do want to know
Of course it's possible that it's really A Button That Stops Time For Everything
And Everyone But The Pusher Of The Button. Still no good. I'd
be stuck in the dark, since light requires Time to move and illuminate.
And despite what Nicholson Baker says in The Fermata about his main
character still being able to move after stopping Time, I'm skeptical.
I have enough trouble trying to navigate through normal air. I'm
not about to try my luck moving through air suddenly composed of non-rotating
electrons and non-vibrating quarks.
Consider as well that walking and friction go hand in hand, so to speak,
and friction creates heat, and heat relies on moving air to dissipate.
With no moving air, heat might build up very rapidly and I could be roasted
or my Button might be irreparably damaged.
And then there's the nightmare scenario: I push the Button, Time stops,
I can't move - but I CAN think. Unable to press the Button again,
prevented from aging or dying by the general Time freeze, I'm stuck in
place thinking forever about my immobility. Yikes! And you
thought Sartre's No Exit was the ultimate in existential hells!
But wait - that can't be. My heart would have to still be beating
to supply the brain with the glucose it needs to think, and beating hearts
create body heat. With no way to dissipate that heat, I'd cook from
the inside out.
Whew - what a relief! Guess there really is always a silver
lining if we look hard enough.
Of course it's possible that pressing the Button merely stops Time for
major processes and other people but allows the presser and "micro-nature"
to roll on as before.
Alas, this creates other problems.
For one thing, if the sun is allowed to still light things up but the earth
is frozen in its rotation and orbit, radiation from the sun will quickly
build up and roast whatever side of the planet is unlikely enough to be
And think of the poor people stuck outside in its rays - ouch!
And if we allow the sun to continue to emit its radiation, well, what about
cell phones? People unfortunate enough to be taking a call when I
push The Button might be exposed to hours, days, or even years of radiation
while no Time at all has actually passed. I start Time again, and
poof! Heads all over the world ignite, explode, melt. Talk
about your major yuck! And since it will seem as if these phones
suddenly let loose with an intense burst of radiation for no apparent reason
- well, so much for humanity's trust in technology....
Of course some say that pushing A Button That Stops Time not only stops
Time but solves all these and other problems just because companies wouldn't
be allowed to sell them if they didn't, but let's get real. I think
I have a fairly good imagination, but not even I can conceive of a world
in which companies only sold safe and effective products.
Bottom line: I got a gift I dare not even break out of its original package
for fear of messing up the entire universe forever. It's a bitch
and a bummer, and in the end the only thing I can say is this:
If Santa doesn't come through with a Tom Lehrer tape THIS year, I just
might have no choice but to push The Button anyway.
You hear me, Fatman?
Listen a little harder.
The sound you hear is of one finger practicing.