I could post my thoughts about the Iraq elections, but let’s face it, you all have better outlets for reading about that noise. I could also express the sick feeling I have in my gut whenever I realize that I’m actually looking forward to the final Star Wars movie in May. Instead, let me talk about the joy of running numbers with a calculator. I am in the habit of balancing my checkbook against the paper statements a large conglomerate mails me each month, an archaic exercise that precisely eight years and six days from now will be grounds for institutionalization. In order to thwart the evil bank which is certainly trying to steal from me, I keep meticulous records of moneys coming in and moneys going out; I do not rely on what the Internet banking center or the ATM machine is telling me because that is the best way to prove Ben Franklin’s maxim about fools and their money. (Okay, I have never personally been bilked by a bank through their erroneous arithmetic. But it’s just a matter of time before the pennies go missing — and I will be there when they do!) And so, I am updating my checkbook all the time, almost every day, and the anal-retentiveness in this department is to the extreme that I have missed trains while waiting for receipts to be printed by automated Metrocard vendors. I used to challenge and entertain myself by doing all of the adding and subtracting in my head, but my tolerance and ability to perform these simple feats of mental acuity has declined so sharply as to necessitate my recent purchase of a small calculator. (Unfortunately it isn’t a solar-powered one — and I say unfortunately only because I can’t sit and marvel, like I did in junior high, at how a tiny gadget could be so effortlessly powered by the sun. This, needless to say, was before I realized we were all being duped by the solar power people. What a load of lies they were shovelling our way, huh? TVs in every home — powered by the sun! Your own Cuisinart — powered by the sun! How embarrassingly 1970s of us to have considered it.) The crossword-solver’s glee I would get from balancing the checkbook using my own mathematical prowess has now been replaced by the dumb guy’s chuckle over how fun it is to press buttons. And isn’t that what a calculator is all about? Making it easier for you to be dumb? To allow us all to say, “Duh, I can’t add in my head what 6 + 7 is, but it says right here that it’s 13. Now I’m gonna go hump my collie and then go over to LeeAnn’s and have me a chicken party!” More than facilitating stupidity, calculators revel in it, and this is, ultimately, why I love them. There were the calculator “races” my friends and I would have during English class, where we’d first press the “1” button and then hit the “+” symbol repeatedly for exactly one minute. (Keith “Chowderhead” Conger holds the record in my circle of dorks with something like 358 hits.) More famously, this also the gadget that allows you to spell “hELL” upside down by punching in “7734.” The irony is, if you want to feel like the cleverest person in the world, be the one to show that stupid trick to a kid for the first time. You’ll be like Pascal, Houdini and Carrot Top all rolled into one.
WHY I’M ANGRY TODAY
While digging my car out of a snowbank last night, I got snow in my right New Balance shoe. I decided that I didn’t need no shovels — I’m gonna dig that guy out with my bare shoes. Well, big mistake. Proving yet again that I’m right-leg dominant, my right sock got completely soaked, while my left one stayed entirely dry. There are few things that make me more ornery than imbalanced sock wetness.