Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Move to the city--please!

(A large city, somewhere on earth.  I don't see why they can't add a few floors to that tall building on the right.)

I want everyone, all of you and all your friends and relatives, to move to the city nearest you.  If you already live in a city, please stay there!

After all, isn't the city where all the excitement is, and the movies, and the restaurants, and the museums, and the libraries, and the schools.  You are more likely to have sex if you move to a metropolitan area where there are lots of other people.  In fact, most young people move to a city so they can increase their probability of getting laid.  I'm sure this wisdom applies to people of all ages.  Your churches are in the city, for the most part, so your god must spend more time there than in a sparsely populated rural area where there are few converts to service.  Drinking water and chlorine are in abundance there, so you won't go thirsty.  You won't be bothered by tobacco smoke either, because it is illegal to smoke everywhere.  There are many examples of interesting architecture in the city; there are no examples of cathedrals built in the Italian Renaissance design out here in the boonies.  Out here, we have great examples of "early-dilapidated".

In contrast, here in the country we have Lyme disease, which can cripple your children, lots of mosquitoes, coyotes that eat your babies, and letter carriers who have to drive a car to get to your mail box.  If their car broke down or they ran out of gas, you might have to wait an extra day to get that credit card offer you were expecting.  Out here, people let their dogs and cats run free, and they defecate and urinate everywhere.  The stench of domestic pet waste products, which is accented with the delightful droppings of deer, possum, and raccoon, permeates the air for miles around my home.  The pollen count out here is atrocious; there are times when my wife needs to help me open the door because of the density of pollen on the other side.  We have more deer mice inside the house than there are outside, so I just leave the door open so they can run out.  We have no Starbucks.  We have no high-speed internet.  If we want to order a pizza, we call on Monday so the delivery boy can get here in time for our dinner on Wednesday.

We have to deal with those drivers from the city who come out here on a Sunday afternoon just to see how the country folk live.  When I hear their Audi's coming, I don my straw hat and slap a twig in my mouth as I wave to them passing by.  And the chances of getting laid out here, well, let's not even go there.  Soon, hunting season begins, so there will be men and women walking the hills and fields and shooting at deer with lethal weapons.  Thank God you don't have to worry about that in the city.

In short, hundreds of millions of people live in cities around the world instead of in the country, and for good reason.  In fact, China is forcing millions of their people to move to one of their 160 cities that already contain over a million residents. The leaders of China are smart guys, so I'm sure they know what they are doing.  Life can be tough out there in the countryside.  Who wants to grow rice or wheat when you can just buy it at the corner store?  Everything you need is close at hand, convenient, economical, tidy.  I mean, Management and I have to drive almost 30 minutes to get to a mall to find a falafel or a gyro served in one of those fancy food courts.  As a result, we don't get to eat much of that Mexican food.

Live in highly dense aggregations of humans.  The denser, the better.  The more people there are, the denser it is, and the more fun you can have.  There are traffic jams so crowded now in places that you can text everyone you know two or three times before you get home at night.  Now that is efficiency.  Why just sit there when you can catch up on your correspondence?  Here in the country, we have no excuse while driving but to keep moving in our vehicles, so we get way behind on letter writing and the like.  We only see our neighbors a couple of times a year, so we forget their names.

I spent a few days in Chicago last week. There would seem to be plenty of room for more people there. There are streets there where the sun still reaches the ground, so there is vertical space for expansion. And those green areas or parks are a waste; they are just a depository for pigeon poop. Fill those up with habitable dwellings; there is no reason why Chicago could not house 4 million residents instead of 3.  There is even a river running through that city where you can go fishing and, I am told, those fish are almost safe to eat.

But let me be perfectly honest for a moment. The real reason I want you all to move to the city is because if you don't, you build new houses near me.  The footprint of each new house eliminates a little more natural habitat, and contributes to the ongoing sterilization of nature that is ubiquitous.  Every time a new house goes up within a mile of my place, I am sick to my stomach for a week. And it is just no fun sipping scotch with an upset stomach.  I realize that this is egocentric and selfish, but I don't care.  So order up that caramel macchiato, text a friend or two in this morning's rush hour traffic, and go to a nightclub this weekend where you can strut your stuff.  And enjoy!  After all, it is easier not to be depressed about the natural world when you live where there is nothing more to lose.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

DrTom gets an official warning from Facebook

(I thought the fine print on this warning would thank me for my contributions to Facebook, but no such luck.)

Today I opened my email to find the following warning from the administrators of Facebook:


You made one or more wall posts that violated our Terms of Use. Among other things, posts that are hateful, threatening, or obscene are not allowed. We also take down posts that attack an individual or group, or advertise a product or service. Continued misuse of Facebook's features could result in your account being disabled.

If you have any questions or concerns, you can visit our FAQ page at

The Facebook Team

I admit that I have been pushing the envelope on FB lately.  I found over 200 Fan Pages that I thought were relevant to items I am trying to sell on this site, so I placed blurbs about my stuff on those sites incessantly for the past few weeks: airline pages, travel pages, sites about dogs and hotels and cruise lines, etc.  I couldn't resist the tens of thousands of eyeballs on those pages (to get the number of people, divide by two).  I joined Fan Pages like "I Love Hugs", "Life With Dogs", " i love you. you love me. then why can't we be together?", and "Once you live in NEW DELHI u cannot live anywhere else in the world !!".  I  spammed the Fan Pages of Ellen deGeneres, The Mentalist, The Colbert Report, and other tv shows.  I placed "ads" on the Walls of The Ohio State University, Oregon State University, and Cornell.  I invaded various food channels and the Walls of many cities and countries found around the world.  In short, I was an aggressive advertiser, ambitious, assertive, and confident in my product.

Alas, I can report that all of that effort on my part has resulted in a big fat nothing.  Zilch.  No sales.  Nada.  No profits.  I accomplished very little with all that spamming, except the receipt of a warning from FB that they might disable my account.  I guess that was a blessing, because now I will have more time for direct contact with all my FB friends---to convince them to buy flowers (see cheery ad below) or designer cookies for your mother or wife.  But what does an aspiring capitalist have to do to make a buck in this world?

I realize fully that I was not trained to make money in this life.  I was educated as a scientist, a biologist, an ecologist, a conservationist.  Those people don't make money; they give of their life to try to understand and save the world and to teach others about all that.  But no one really listens to that message, because they are all out there making money.  In fact, the public thinks that conservationists don't need money because they know how to live off the land--to find wild edibles for food, to erect primitive shelters from hemlock boughs to get out of the rain and snow, to kill and skin wild animals to make clothing.  So you see, when we want to buy a new toaster oven or pay our electric bill, all we have are some beaver pelts or deer livers or hallucinogenic shrooms for those products or services.  Most of us have only seen a $100 bill when we visited the money collection at the Smithsonian Institution .  When we renegotiate our university contracts, we end up settling for an extra pound of acorns per month instead of a real salary increase.  We are so naive.

Given my friendly notice from the management at FB, I spent the past couple of hours hitting the "Unlike" button on about 150 Fan Pages where I was pumping my wares.  After all, what could I possibly have to say on the "Memphis" page if I weren't trying to get readers there to buy Cafe Britt coffee (see tiny micro bar ad above) or cigars from my site?  "Hey, anyone here seen Elvis lately?"  What could I contribute on the "Copenhagen" site other than wanting those Danes to come to my blog?  "Hvordan har De det?"  And what do I have in common with readers of the "Princess Cruises" site, unless I can get them to book their cruise on DrTom's Travel Shoppe?  (To be honest, I am really prone to motion sickness, so the thought of taking a cruise (see simple blue and orange ad below) with 5,000 strangers wearing plaid shorts makes me vomit for a couple of reasons. But I would gladly sell a cruise to anyone else.)

So, I am left with using my own Profile page on FB to entice potential customers to this site.  Just watch over the next month how clever I can be in getting my FB friends here.  Expect to see the following messages on my Wall soon.  "Would you like to be admitted to Cornell University and receive reduced tuition?  Then come to Life at DrTom's."  "Are you lonely and in need of a free companion dog?  .......DrTom's."  "Like to get rich quick?  Come to DrTom's for a list of FB Fan Pages that you can spam.  Results guaranteed!"  I am only limited by my own imagination.  And because people really do want to get rich quick, or they need a dog, they will be like putty in my hands.  Yea, that's the ticket.  I will just lie outright and promise the moon.  Then, after I make a big pile of money, maybe I'll take a cruise.  BLECK!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

DrTom goes shopping for wedding clothes

(This is where I spent yesterday.  It sounds French, but it must be an American store because they readily take your dollars.)

This week Management dragged me to the mall to buy clothes--for me. You have to understand that I HATE shopping of any kind: for cars, for houses, for food, for gifts, for tools or music or whatever.  But shopping for clothes is absolutely the worst of them all.  I suppose that is why I haven't been clothes' shopping for 7-8 years.  I usually get a shirt or two and a pair of slacks as a gift from some female in my family at Xmas or on my birthday, and that pretty much does it.  I never need to go.

My closet contains shirts and sports coats that I bought 20 years ago.  I'm comfortable with how they look and how they feel, and they are happy to be worn once in a while.  When I adorn myself with that old gray button-down, long-sleeve Gant, it is like taking a buddy out for a beer.  We have grown old together and when my wife makes me turn a shirt over to the Salvation Army receiving center, it is like the death of an old friend.  I mourn for a couple of days and then stand in front of my closet trying to explain to the clothes gang I have in there how badly I feel, and that they are not going to be next if I have anything to say about it.  I tell them, "Just remain inconspicuous in here and she will never notice you.  But when I decide to wear you, you need to look fresh and new, or else." 

Well, push came to shove this month.  Next week, there is a big family wedding in Chicago.  The daughter of my wife's sister is getting married into a large Irish Chicago family.  We have a small family.  So there will be about 400 of them and about 13 of us, so the ratio of their eyes on us to our eyes on them is overwhelming.  My sister-in-law has been shopping for dresses for months, and the social pressure of this wedding has been transmitted to my wife and, in turn, to me.  "You will look sharp at this wedding!"  (Realize there is not enough ink in this computer to put all the exclamation points inherent in my wife's voice at the end of that last sentence.)  So yesterday, we went to the Bon-Ton.

As we entered the largish department store with the French-sounding name, my knees got a little weak as I uttered a French-sounding phrase (SACRE BLEU!) under my breath.  I'm sure there is a more appropriate exclamation in French, but I don't carry a cell phone with that kind of app.  The Bon-Ton tries to be helpful in that it was constructed with a set of marble stones embedded in the floor as you enter that you can follow, like the yellow brick road in the Wizard of Oz.  I even found myself whistling that tune from the movie as I stepped onto the path and skipped past the perfume section.  After that, the path winds around through women's shoes, women's dresses, and finally (my whistling stopped abruptly), at the men's clothing department.  The path even forks a couple of times along the way, taking you to other delightful departments with kitchen appliances and children's toys.  But we were having none of that fun this day.  We headed straight for the clothing area, a direction with which my wife seemed all too familiar.  "Hi Evelyn, hello Beverly", she spoke to various clerks as we strode past their various stations.   She was on a first-name basis with those who take those plastic cards and swipe them through those dangerous devices they have behind their counter.  I swear, I felt the wallet in my back pocket almost jump out of my pants when I realized how comfortable Management was in this foreign land.

We immediately looked for new jeans for me.  Mine are pretty worn, or don't fit my butt right, or are considered out of style, or whatever, according to HER.  What size, she asks.  I usually take 34x32, but in some styles I can wear a 33x32, but if they come short I need 34 or 33 x 33.  I'll show her just how technical shopping for men's clothes can be.  She'll never want to bring me here again, I thought.  So I lugged four pair to the changing room, modeled them all, and bought three.  Fifteen minutes tops, and I knocked off three items.  Then we examined the shirt racks.  I need a shirt for a sports coat I have in my closet (one of the old friends), I need a new shirt to go with my suit, and I need a couple to wear during the four days we will be out and about in Chicago.  What size, she asks?  Now I can really lay it on her.  Well, last time I bought one of these my neck was 15 1/2 and sleeve length was 33.  So I tried one of those, after removing a dozen pins, a piece of plastic wrap, and a cardboard stave around the neck of the garment.  Oops.  My neck is larger now and the sleeves seem short.  So I need to try a 16 neck with a 34 sleeve, but she can't find the same color in that size.  But I try that size in the wrong color and realize I need a 16 1/2 neck anyway.  So we really need a 16 1/2 neck with a 33-34 sleeve, but you need to try every shirt on because different brands fit differently.  Geesh I hate this.  Stick a pin in my eye please.  More pins to remove, more staves to discard, plastic and cardboard everywhere.  Who cleans up this mess?  I find three shirts eventually, some black socks, a new belt, two new ties, and a partridge in a pear tree.  Completely done in under an hour.

And matching the colors of shirts, with ties, and with sports coats or suits is totally beyond this color-blind guy.  It is like playing a game without rules.  Here is how it goes:

Wife: "I think the green stripe in this shirt goes well with that tie."
Me: "OK."
Wife: "But maybe there is too much blue in that tie for your sports coat."
Me: "OK."
Wife: "I really like the way this shirt picks up the brown tint in the coat and matches the tie."
Me: "OK."
At this point, I am no longer even listening.
Wife: "Are you paying attention to my suggestions?"
Me: "OK."

When it came time to pay the bill, I saw a little red sign by the cash register that said "20% OFF ON NEARLY EVERYTHING".  Wow!  That will take some of the pain out of this uninspiring hour.  But when I read the fine print on that placard, it said you get 20% off if you apply for a Bon-Ton credit card today.  Damn!  We already have a Bon-Ton card.  So you don't get 20% off after they have already sucked you in; they only give you 20% off during the sucking-in process.  And by the way, the "20% OFF" must have been in 36 font, while the "if you apply today" must have been in 4 font.  At this point, I have invested significant time out of my retirement trying on these clothes, and we are standing there with a pile of garments that Management is sure will make me look sharp, and I know that the moment we get home she will call her sister to enumerate the items that will contribute to my potential sharpness.  In other words, there is no turning back now, even if the placard had read we will charge you 20% MORE because you hate shopping and you look like a senior citizen.  If I backed out now, the pressure from the female side of my family would have crushed me like a cheap glass under a leather shoe at a Jewish wedding.

So I'm ready.  I have the clothes, a great-looking wife, and by next week I'll have an attitude appropriate for the big city event.  There may be 800 eyeballs looking us up and down next week, but let them look.  And when they ask me how it is I look so nice, I will say in my best Al Capone voice, "The Bon-Ton.  Evelyn sent me."