Wonderday, Jesterary 2,  40 A.B.

    It's after 11 p.m. as the crow flies and my thermometer reads 59 degrees.
    A year ago today, 5.5 inches of snow fell and it was in the 20s.
    If anyone hears a strange noise, it's just my head cracking open from the freeze-thaw cycle.

    Yesterday I found a dandelion in my yard.  A blooming dandelion.
    You'd think that this is exactly the sort of event the people who answer 911 calls live for, but no.
    Ha!  Won't they feel foolish when Steven Spielberg buys my script based on the event.
    I just hope he's able to get Dustin Hoffman for the title role.

    Cahokia was an Indian village near present-day St. Louis.  Roughly 1000 years ago, it had 40,000 residents - about as many as London.
    I read that in my newspaper Friday.
    I've not been able to forget it since.
    If my head does crack open and knowledge spills out all over the place, I kinda hope this is the last thing to go.
    The fact that "Cahokia" translate as "wild geese" has nothing to do with it.

    As I was going through the ad flyers that came with today's newspaper, I got the sudden urge to take the coupon insert sheets and send them to the Queen.  Parliament cut her funds in the last few years, you know.  And all the royals have been trying to act more like real people ever since Diana's death.  I thought it might be seen as a nice jesture.
    I mean gesture.
    Then it occurred to me that She might send agents from Scotland Yard to come and whip my ass for my impudence instead.
    Until She personally assures me that won't happen, I'm afraid She's just gonna have to pay full price for her Pop Tarts....

    Tonight I got the sudden urge to give someone Christmas gifts until they demand that I stop.  This urge came to me as I reflected back on my own Christmas Day and the way my wife and I gave her parents what came to seem like an endless stream of gifts.  An endless stream that followed their giving us one small gift each and a $50 bill.  In past years it's often been just the reverse, so I was by no means made sour by the imbalance that developed.  But their discomfort grew steadily and tonight I started wondering, "At what point would they have simply refused to accept another thing?"
    I want to know.  I want a government grant to conduct a series of sociological experiments to find out the answer to the question "How many gifts does it take to prompt the average person to refuse more?"  Thirteen gifts didn't quite do it for my in-laws, but I think it came close.  Would they have refused #20?  #50?  #134?  Exactly what is the magic number?
    And how might the value of the gifts shift that number?  Certainly a bunch of cheap gifts are easier to accept without embarrassment than an endless string of jewels, bonds, and car keys.  If the gift is too cheap, however - e.g., a single stick of gum - it will probably be taken as an insult.  (Exactly where and how wide is the boundary between insult and embarrassment, anyway?)  Does it make a difference if the gifts steadily increase in value?  If they're all approximately the same value?  If expensive gifts are randomly interspersed with cheap ones?  If they're personal or hand-made vs. generic or store bought?
    And what might the resulting chart look like if we plot time of refusal against value of total gifts accepted and the receiver's perception of what the giver can afford to give?
    I smell years of research in the offing if only the government will agree to fund me....

    Plan B: If funding is not forthcoming, I want to go into a restaurant with my wife, order a meal, and have her feed it to me.  I'll simply refuse to move my hands.  At the end of my meal, I'll do one of two things.
    Thing One: Grab the check and pay the waitress.  "I expect a lot out of a relationship," I'll explain if she gives any indication at all that she noticed something strange going on.
    Thing Two: Stand and yell, "Oh my God!  I haven't had the use of my hands for 15 years and now I suddenly have regained COMPLETE control of both!  The food here is MIRACULOUS!!!  WHY DIDN'T YOU SAY SO ON YOUR MENU!?!?"
    I can't wait to see which is quantifiably more fun.

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(©Now by Dan Birtcher prior to burning down his mind with a thought experiment gone awry)