Mock death note

As promised here, this is what I would say in a letter to my cat, Cecilia.


Dear Cecilia, Cece, Miu Miu, kitton,

Oh my darling crook face, I’m sorry I’ve gone away now. Do you believe in duality? If it comforts you, I hope you do. If my mind is floating in the Ether, somewhere in heaven or hell or stuck forever in between, know that regardless, I am thinking about you and your crazed blue eyes. How you made me laugh every day with your scampering, your hunting meow, that unbelievably fluffy tail and the way you would nose your bowl halfway across the apartment in your enthusiasm for dry kibbles.

It’s morning now, and you would be curled on the back of your chair — the only place with a few beams of sunlight. Don’t miss me though, don’t think about me at all. I can’t stand the thought that my absence will affect you badly. I’ll leave instructions to have P come every day to hold you until you’re bored of purring. I’ll make sure there are fun bits of trash strewn about for you to bat. I’ll tell them to leave shipping boxes and their packing entrails around for at least a week. And, best of all? I’ll order a fake sink on legs so you can sleep in that and never again have to move because silly humans need the sink for unimportant things.

How were you so soft? I would carry you around, all day, forever if I could. If you’d let me. From the tiny kitten confused about her own bell collar to this daredevil, scaling the kitchen heights — I wish I could be there to see the rest of your story. Will you learn to be coy and sit in the same room but pretend not to notice people? Will you become a lap cat, seeking out the person most allergic to you? Whoever you become, I know that you will enchant everyone you meet with your naive and rather derpy sweetness. Maybe someday you will be ambassador of family felidae. I wish I could hold you one last time, and blink-blink-blink until we both fall asleep. I may be gone but never fear, someone will try to love you as much as I do. Let them, love them, dream in your sunbeam.

A million and a half kisses,


dear non-math people,

please stop using the word “real” — you don’t know what it means. The Real World? i filter potential friends based on their usage of this word. it’s merely a matter of convenience and more of a courtesy to them than snobbery on my part. i wouldn’t be able to keep myself from making fun of someone who routinely uses the word “real” to describe other people or themselves. i have a problem with commonly used words which are content-free, and this is a prime example.

whenever someone says something like “it’s beginning to feel so real,” i’m forcefully reminded of lensless glasses labeled “see the world in 3D.”

commonly used by:

people who think they’re “gangsta”
women who can’t leave the house without makeup
men seeking women who don’t mind that they’re broke
men seeking women who will have casual sex with them
people with poor imaginations*

there are probably more, but i don’t care enough to list them. imaginary things are clearly superior. unless you need to have physical contact with them, like food or oxygen or warm beds. i guess i disagree with descartes. my imaginary friends couldn’t be improved by becoming real.

next time you think about using the word “real” to describe something which isn’t a number, try explaining your sentiment with a phrase instead. who knows, you might even find it fun to be more exact!

* seriously, if you have a decent imagination, reality can never compare.

Stephen Fry on Political Correctness

Dear Mr. Fry,

In case that was a serious question, I have a response. You wonder why some people find it important to prevent the spies in that BBC show from texting while driving or not using seat belts. First, let me say that I agree that “compliance” sounds ridiculous and that a reasonable society with reasonably smart people wouldn’t need rules preventing the depiction of the aforementioned “naughty” things on TV. You reject any notion of “setting a bad example” by bringing up other things that go on in the show like “shooting people in the face” or “betraying your country.”

You see, I’m afraid that most people don’t have those options. That is, even if 15-year-old Timmy wanted to betray his country or shoot someone in the face, he probably has neither state secrets nor access to a gun. He’s much more likely to be in a car at some point. If he desperately wants to emulate the ever so cool spies in his favorite show in any way he can, he might find that texting-whilst-driving (or leaving his seatbelt off) is his only way of doing so!

I remember being an impressionable child. The Land Before Time was my favorite movie. I wanted to be the brontosaurus. I didn’t have many options, though. There was no chance of me being allowed to run around in the wilderness with my little friends — and none of them had any interest in pretending to be dinosaurs, either. So I did what I could do. I cut bunch of nori (dried seaweed) into leaf-shapes and ate it using only my mouth. My mother probably thought I was crazy. If the youth of your country are anywhere near as impressionable as I was, it may be a good thing that those spies aren’t allowed to do unsafe but very commonplace things on TV.

Thanks for making me laugh,

iPod Nano

Dear iPod Nano,

Yes, it’s very nice that you display the album art and the name of the song I’m listening to. But what I really want to know is what time it is. Maybe if I swipe back one page. Nope, that just gets me to album art… without the navigation and song title. That’s… useful. One more? Still no luck, it’s just the playlist. Just one more and… there it is. The time is finally at the top of the display. But at least I eventually found a setting to change that.

I had to go to Settings > General > Date & Time and toggle “Time on Wake” to “on.” Why? Why would you think I would more urgently need to know know the name of the song rather than what time it is? Even better, couldn’t you just show me both?

At least you’re not as bad as that ancestor of yours, the first generation iPod nano. Anytime that old thing noticed me touching it, the time in the top bar would immediately be replaced by the words “Now Playing.” Surely that was because a reasonable person expects her iPod to show her a random song other than the one currently playing. And it would stay that way — that inane statement — for a few seconds before showing me the time again. I’d like to meet the engineer who made that decision and shake my fist at him*.  If you know the guy, send him my way.


p.s. — Other than that minor detail, you’re the best thing since hottubs. Really. Love you lots.

* Gender assumption based on the probability of a randomly selected software engineer being male.

Dear Rush Limbaugh

I recently read your comments on the birth control debate. I was especially delighted with this gem about college girls:

“They’re admitting before congressional committee that they’re having so much sex they can’t afford the birth control pills!”

I just wanted you to know, dear Mr. Limbaugh, that unlike some unfortunate, balding, rotund, older gentlemen, these college girls don’t have to pay for sex.

I find it very interesting that you repeatedly denounce birth control coverage under the new health care mandate as being equivalent to paying for women to have sex. There are two main problems with this opinion. First, you don’t actually object to paying for people to enjoy sex. After all, I have never heard you speak out against Viagra being covered under the very same health care mandate. In case you were unaware, Viagra is purely a sex aid which serves society in no other way — unlike the much maligned birth control pills you’re arguing about. Secondly, you misunderstand the purpose of birth control. My dear little man, it is to prevent unwanted pregnancies, not to help people have sex.  You know, so we can minimize abortion rates, the number of unwanted babies born to mothers who may not be prepared for it, and of course, the number of people on welfare! Those are all things you want, I presume.

With or without birth control, (as we’ve proven over the years with abstinence-only sex education) people will be having sex. The question is, then, whether you want to be the one paying to take care of their unwanted offspring. If the problem you have is with potential taxpayer financing, I guarantee that contraception, as most forms of preventative care, is much cheaper than the alternative.

No love for you,

How NOT to write a love letter

Unlike my other post on how to write a love letter, this one is from personal experience.

In college, I took a fencing class which was open to the public. I still don’t see how this man managed to see past the awkward doughboy-cross-antique-deep-sea-diver fencing outfits to develop such feelings for me, but somehow he did. Within two weeks, he handed me a letter and told me to read it later.

I cannot describe to you the depths of revulsion I felt when reading it. To be fair, I also found it shocking and hilarious. In retrospect, I see that I should have kept it, if only to amuse you, dear reader, with quotes. What did it say? Well, I seem to recall detailed sexual fantasies wrapped up in a poor attempt at graceful prose. I’m afraid I was much more nude than I’m comfortable being in the thoughts of a tubby, bearded 40-year-old. There was an appalling repetition of the word “cup” — used as a verb. I leave the rest to your imagination.

The other end of the spectrum, where there’s no soft-core porn (thank goodness) can be equally horrifying. Here, I do have an example:

Evan William Hartington*,

 I love you with all my heart, my soul, my being.  To put it simply,
you complete me.  I love you dearly, and miss you terribly.  I hope you
can forgive my silly jealously[sic].  You are the one I think about each
night.  I try not to let my mind wander, because for some reason, it
finds it’s[sic] way to you.  Looking at all the photos on my wall makes me
think of each wonderful thing we’ve experienced together and I know that
I want to build on that and keep experiencing life with you.  I know you
are asleep my dearest, and I hope you are sleeping well.  god, how I
wish that I could propose to you.  I’d do it now.  I love you that much
and wish to devote myself to you, but I think you already suspected it.
Once more I lay my soul bare to you.  Know it is yours my love.  Do what
you will with it, but treat it with care.  I said I’d tell you when I
felt I could fully open myself up to you again, and that time is now.

   Sincerely, with love, hope and joy,
                    Reagan* (your Reagan, my love)

In short:

  • Do not make grammatical or spelling errors. Unless the object of your affection finds stupidity endearing.
  • Do not make illogical statements or contradict yourself.
  • Do not mention souls or marriage unless you’d like to sound crazy or desperate.
  • Do not use trite phrases, especially ones about your heart, your soul, and completeness unrelated to fields.
  • Do not make it sound like a form letter written to anyone with breasts. In fact, try not to mention their breasts or other private parts at all. I beg of you. Please don’t.
  • Do not assume the person likes you romantically, or even at all.
  • Do not assume the person wants to be touched by you. Ever.

If you observe carefully, most people betray themselves. If they’re the least bit vulnerable to you (and they should be, or else this exercise is hopeless), you’ll see just what they want.

Do not talk about what you want. Just give them what they want.**

* Names changed to allow the guilty her anonymity, and to safeguard what dignity the addressee may still have.
** I have devised an ingenious algorithm for determining what a person wants, but it is too long to fit in the margin here.