austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

With candy canes and silver lanes aglow

If we're still looking for Christmas presents we are cutting things fairly close to the holidays, aren't we? But after looking all around the tree there's still choices left. For example, what could be better than getting the ham radio license you never use upgraded to a better class of ham radio license you never use?

Obviously, better would be transport back in time to warn yourself at age eight that the Clyde's Car Crusher so impressive in commercials is actually thoroughly disappointing and your parents are right that you shouldn't build your life's vision around acquiring one. Your eight-year-old self probably won't listen, especially if you didn't want the car crusher, in which case you were wise. Yet it would be just like time travel, whose only rule is irony, to make warning yourself off just the trigger that makes you want it in the first place. You're welcome, and sorry for the disappointment. Tell your eight-year-old self to get a roll of aluminum foil and practice cutting squares.

Or then consider services closer to this region of the spacetime continuum: everyone has experienced the case of being at a party, or being consulted at work, or being stopped by a police officer for driving with a suspicious number of penguins hanging out the windows, or looking at zoo frogs, and not having a witty comeback to the question currently on the floor until between three days and fourteen years have passed. Yet great wits seem to have the answer immediately. What's to be done short of gaining renown as a great wit by writing memoirs of the experience after between four days and fifteen years have passed? Why not in this wit-requiring instance give the clever line you thought of for last time?

The shortsighted will answer because the answer (not the one they're giving right now, but your potentially hypothetical answer) will make no sense. This misses the scheme's genius: by giving last time's responses often enough it stops being a weird stream of non sequiturs and becomes your personality. Then once your personality becomes known as someone who emits a weird stream of non sequiturs you can safely no longer be invited to parties, or work, or stops by traffic officers, and won't be late in thinking of things to say. Plus you'll have that last thing in reserve to say.

The only thing I'm not sure of is how you subscribe to something providing answers to questions you haven't heard yet, but there's probably some web service with a faintly whimsical yet faintly irritating two-syllable name which does that. If there isn't one, maybe the person you're thinking of giving a gift to means to start one up, in which case you can craft a set of suitable vaguely appropriate words, for example ``Tentious'', ``Glorknax'', ``Skidnurp'', or ``Querlsome'' or, for a high-class service that can afford more syllables, ``Glorknax'', which gives your first Frequently Asked Question Which Is Never In Fact Asked right away. No web thing is complete until it has Frequently Asked Questions that have never been asked even in the composing of the Questions list.

Perhaps you know someone who can't get a song out of his head. Do you know someone else who can't quite get the words to a song in his head? Help both by welding the songs together so that they both have songs they can easily get a song into either head. Note: do not weld the heads together as this results in hair impossible to perfectly comb. This is because of a flaw in topology which can most easily be fixed in a hyperdimensional universe, so check if your Secret Santa is getting you any hyperspatial portals.

Few things are more pleasant particularly in the cold weather than a huge, roaring fire pouring its flickering light and washing of heat to the inhabitants. So you might try giving, or getting, depending on how the pronouns here are supposed to run, one of those. Don't start a fire without having a fireplace first.

Still, the warning to yourself at age eight would have been the way to go.

Trivia: Vanilla was introduced to the United States by Thomas Jefferson, who brought some back with him from France in 1789. Source: Twinkie, Deconstructed, Steve Ettlinger. (I should note I'm skeptical of this exact claim; I can believe easily he brought vanilla beans back from France --- he snuck rice into the United States, after all --- but that no one had before? I want more footnotes)

Currently Reading: Reluctant Rebels: The Story Of The Continental Congress, 1774 - 1789, Lynn Montross.


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