Friday, August 31, 2007

Erasing the Past

Earlier this month, I was laid off from my job of 12 years.

As I make the transition from full-time magazine editor to unemployed magazine editor, one of my self-imposed tasks has been removing the company decal from my car, where it has been proudly emblazoned for as long as I've owned the car.

But how do you remove a decal stuck to your car window? To find the answer, I went to the experts at AFCA (, the newsgroup I often turn to for "the Straight Dope" on practically any subject. Using the resources they suggested (special thanks to Groo, Veronique, Bill and John), I made it my project for the evening. Here's how it went.

The tools: canvas work gloves ($2.59), razor blades ($3.79), Goo Gone spray ($4.99), potato salad reward snack ($0.99, not pictured). Total cost: $13ish.

Here's the "before" photo of the decal in all its taunting mockery:

Turns out I probably didn't need the work gloves, but I wore them anyway. After spraying the Goo Gone on the decal, I scraped off the letters, one by one:

The job was completed in under two minutes. Here's what was removed:

And, finally, the "after" photo:

These are, of course, merely baby steps in the transition to something bigger and better. Thanks again to those at AFCA who helped me.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Fun With Non-Restrictive Clauses

Heather Johnston, a bank robber known as the "Barbie Bandit," recently entered a guilty plea. In a tearful news conference, the 19-year-old hooligan gave this shout-out to her family and friends:

"If I've embarrassed you or hurt you, which I know I have, then I'm sorry."

Friday, August 03, 2007

Post Mortem

Recently an acquaintance of mine died—really a friend of a friend—and in the grieving process that followed among those who knew her, there was a sudden urgency to fulfill any desires the dead woman had during her life. Did she want to be cremated? Would she have wanted certain friends to attend the funeral? Indeed, would she have wanted a funeral at all? Inevitably, echoes of this game of retroactive wish-fullfillment cascaded back to me. What would I want to happen after I died? It was a curious question. Why should I care now what happens after I die? It won’t make a lick of difference to me one way or the other, for the elementary reason that I will cease to exist. Obviously, when I expire, it is to be hoped that those I loved in life will not have to grieve or suffer too greatly, and that those I resent or hate will spiral into a hopeless cycle of longing, shame and regret. Other than that, who really gives a baboon's bullwinkle?
But let's return to this idea of fulfilling the wishes of a dead person. Two things strike me. The first is that you don't technically have to do anything, because the dead person will never know. Bury him in a Glad bag! Throw a big party and invite all his enemies! There will be no repercussions, unless you're one of those unfortunate people who believe that ghosts can move things, such as a lit candle closer to the curtains.
The second observation is that this process has no real connection to the dead person anyway, but for the grieving survivors, who will somehow feel better knowing that “he would have wanted it that way.” The rush to revise things in life for a corpse must be one life’s most peculiar follies. If you love someone, the time to grant wishes and fulfill dreams for a loved one is in the present, when he exists in more than just your memories. So don't bury my favorite books with me in my grave—go order me stuff from my Amazon Wish List right now.