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2003feb02. Outside the San Francisco Public Library. A tour bus pulls up, many Japanese tourists get out. Two of them are carrying half-finished beverages. He, burdened with a soft-drink can, and she, carrying around a coffee cup. There is a trash can in front of the bus door. To the side, a book return bin. Lightening their load, the man snaps a picture of the woman posing in front of one of the library’s blank walls. The caption on the photo will read

THIS IS THE WALL IN AMERICA NEAR THE BOOK RETURN SLOT WHERE WE “RETURNED” OUR GARBAGE
Pitch in! Reading Coffee/Cola-Soaked Pages Is Fundamental!

2003feb02. The I Don’t Like Hard Things in Soft Things Manifesto Manifesto is now online, with additional jocularity provided by some 38% of this site’s 23 loyal, hang-dog readers.

2003feb03. How To Fly Without ID. Or rather, ID is not mandatory.

2003feb04. Mail.

To the odd person who doesn’t like nuts in their food:

Well, I’m right with ya, there, particularly about the almond slivers. You didn’t mention friggin’ almond slivers in the GREEN BEANS, which is about the stupidest tart-up attempt in common cuisine. My mother tried that about 800 times, always imagining, I suppose, that this time we’d not notice them, or suddenly like them, or something.

I like green beans. I don’t mind almonds. Just keep ’em the fuck away from each other.

While I completely understand where you’re coming from with the nut rant, I have to laugh because I have things much easier myself. I dislike HARD things in soft things. Emphasis on HARD. Ben&Jerries Chunky Monkey = Deliscious, EXCEPT for the damn chocolate slivers that you can almost break a tooth on. The nuts? No problem, they've softened up from being in the ice cream, for christ’s sake. Cake with nuts in is usually similiarly yummy, unless someone’s aunt made it using nuts that had been dehydrating in her cupboard for 10 years, fossilizing, then serves it to you fresh baked. That’s a trip to the dentist for sure. Ultimate hell is hard candies in anything. You don’t get much harder then pure sugar candy. All ice cream flavours that involve hard candies should be banned by international treaty. Once I got served a ‘savoury’ oriental entree that involved the usual assortment of bite-size ingredients PLUS hard candies. The people who ordered it lapped that crap up. I never ate with those freaks again.

yow! i can’t agree more with your essay on textural discontinuities in food. Dry hard knobbly bits in ice cream? What cruel person dreamed that one up?

2003feb06. Oh, the United States was protecting the Japanese-Americans when they were placed in concentration camps during World War 2. That’s why all the camps had machine gun turrets facing inward, and barbed wire facing inward. That’s why the Japanese-Americans were able to sell their properties, cars, furniture, for cents to the dollar, sometimes just abandoning them, because of the carefree times they would spend safely locked up by Uncle Sam. “Endangered Species.” Nice touch.

2003feb06. I love watching bugs on walls. The slow bugs, that take their time executing a turn, and sit in the same place for hours, in the middle of a blank wall. Perhaps they’re eating microscopic food. Perhaps they are engaged in deep thought. Perhaps they’re just dumb bugs.

2003feb07. Opposition to war from Congress itself goes uncovered. Not big enough news, what with the war and all. [via metafilter]

2003feb08. Mail.

Maybe the bugs are sleeping. Do bugs sleep?

Or maybe just resting.

- Leah

But this particular bug, for example, occasionally rotated. It would sit there for a few minutes, then out of the corner of my eye I would notice it was ON THE MOVE! That is to say, it was pivoting, at most, thirty degrees in one direction. I think it was functioning as a proximity guard bug. The only thing of value in the immediate area was my monitor and also some doofus staring into said monitor (I can be parted out). So perhaps I have a guardian bug? It’s gone, now. I feel vulnerable. Perhaps I should have given it a dot of water or some such thing. I think it was a potato bug [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] Bugs don’t sleep because when you’re asleep, that’s when they gitcha.

2003feb08. I went to a job interview today and at one point the guy asked me what my “ideal job” would be. And I thought back to a few nights ago, when I was shopping in a local supermarket. I sort of zoned out, like everyone else does, while in the check-out lane, staring very intently at a cubic foot of air approximately two feet in front of my knees – and I heard someone addressing me with a noun.

“Noun?”
“Two-syllable noun?”
Finally I woke up.
“Cheesecake?”
“Cheesecake?”
It was some sort of in-house promotion. Someone got to wheel a cart around feeding people cheesecake. So of course I was all like “Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes” and she gave me a nice large piece of cheesecake on a plate, with a fork. That’s my ideal job. Giving people free cart cheesecake. So I told the guy it was either that, or starting up an underground parking resistance cell that produces a steady stream of people for meter maid jobs and they never collect the money and get fired on purpose and then the next person hired is another member of the cell which I call the Unmeter Maid Cell. I didn’t think that was enough, so I belatedly added “clown stabber,” which probably pays pretty good.

2003feb08. I’m trying to find the name of a particular non-standard poker game. We for some reason call it “Acey-Deucey,” but it is not (the book we got the game out of indicated it was popular with the Army back in WW2 – but that was a backgammon variant ... way to research that). This game is one card up, one card down to each person. First round allows you to replace an up card or a down card for five cents. Second round, ten cents. Etc, up to a dollar for a card. Then there’s one round of betting (for some reason I have a sneaking suspicion that every buying round should be followed by a betting round, so it actually hurts the people who want to stay in with bad cards). High hand takes it – A A is the best hand.

2003feb10. I got nothing today. Let’s take a fond look back at an early Achewood strip, shall we?

2003feb10. Mail.

your hard/soft manifesto speaks my heart and soul, i tell you. i definitely think your manifesto could use some official lashings for the bread makers out there too. their cavalier use of nuts has become most unbearable. no need for a nut in there. i’ve lived by these same rules ... all the while calling it a polytexural problem ... simply to say that the candy bar “chunky” is my worst nightmare. wb

ah, finally! someone has articulated my feelings toward nuts! i must say, i am not anti-nut, completely, but i STRONGLY agree with the isolated nut provision. Nuts should be solitary,(with the exception of case-by-case dish examinations) to be used at the eater’s discretion. ANY dish containing nuts, in ANY form or trace should be declared and demarked clearly, before the point of purchase or consumption. NO EXCEPTIONS. NO EXCUSES. NO NE NUTTE.

-co

Used to loathe walnuts ... good for nothing bitter things. Why would anyone willingly put one in their mouth? That is, until I discovered this (I challenge you to try it): walnuts and blackberries. Together. Blackberries must be ripe and room temperature. The ones that come frozen work well because those are usually harvested ripe. Just try it. You will retract everything you’ve ever said about walnuts. For some reason, the combination just goes, transforms the taste of the walnut, and makes you say “This is what Homo sapiens were meant to do.”

I’m with you on the nut manifesto. Unless they are completely pulverized to dust and integrated in such a way that makes texture changes imperceptable, no nuts in my bread, cake, brownies, ice cream, sauces, stuffing, pasta, cereal. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “Damn they ruined a perfectly good _____________”

LIla

I actually had to physically restrain myself from exclaiming AMEN! out loud when reading your “No Hard Things in Soft Things Manifesto.” You left out one area I find particularly impossible to deal with: Nuts in cookies. Why, why, why, does every recipe on the planet have to ruin Chocolate Chip cookies with the addition of walnuts. Why add something hard and crunchy to something that ideally should be chewy and soft. I cannot tell you the years of frustration I’ve had dealing with this.

--Shawn

Yeah, nuts in cookies, another damned nut mystery to me. If you want nuts in anything, bring a small bag along with you and sprinkle ’em on, to avoid the heartbreaking scene of seeing yet another anti-nut coalition force troop member carefully picking apart his chocolaty chip cookie in a brave and yet neverending attempt to rout nuts and nut clusters from their fortified hiding encampments. Seriously, put the cookie in the microwave, and then jam your stupid nuts in.

“Years of frustration” – I hear your pain, brother. Unless you’re a sister. “Shawn” could be a girl’s name. Really any name now, could be a boy’s name, or a girl’s name. Anything goes in this mixed-up world of ours. Let’s all just sit back, set an illegal “marijuana"-type cigarette alight, and think about that. Pray that there are no nuts in that. Which reminds me of a conversation I had two days ago with a young man on the streets of our fair city:

“Got some green bud with some big white rocks.”

“Nope.”

Everything soft has to have hard things in it.

2003feb11. Mail.

About the hard/soft rant ... What about that bubblegum ice cream with chunks of bubble gum in it? Isn’t that the WORST thing? The chunks are so goddamn hard and FROZEN, and it’s not like you can even chew the gum because it gets mixed in with the ice cream and gets a shitty taste and texture.

Leah

Well, yeah. I don’t eat standard ice cream anymore, I am a big fan of soy-based ice cream. Which, three years ago, tasted like frozen ass, but now they've pretty much perfected the illusion. I mean, some brands have. Others still taste completely not like ice cream. So if you want to avoid the dairy, look for a brand called “Soy Delicious” brought to you by a company named “Turtle Mountain.” ???? That’s like the restaurant in Kalamazoo called “Chicken Port” or the donut shop in the bay area called “Donut Field.” Unless, of course, turtles hang out on mountains. Then I take that all back. Anyway, they don’t have a bubble gum variety yet.

2003feb11. Great “personals” story on This American Life last week (ya! this is Real Audio! You can get what seems to be less-intrusive earlier versions of RA here).

2003feb13. Mail.

helo i do'nt understaind but plz hwlp all of them now we get the opertunities so eill be that roules and regulation provied managment forward in Karachi.

Karachi. The crossroads of somethingsomethingsomething.

2003feb15. Say, do you need a free car? One that is totally free? One that is covered with the Whipped Cream & Other Delights album? You can read all about the problem with the distributor shaft pin here.

2003feb16. Learn more about me! Fact #298:

I have recently appeared in public wearing a shirt sporting a sticker that reads “XL XL XL XL XL XL XL.”

2003feb16. For this entire week I will be presenting telegraphic codes from “Greig’s Cipher Code: Commercial Oriental Products” which was published in 1920. Code books were used to reduce the length (and thus, cost) of business-related messages sent over the telegraph. An example of how these codes were used follows.

Message: BABEC ESHAN RORIW CELEN ADHOP RIKES ADCID HETIZ JAFUW

BABEC Telegraph firm offer subject to prompt acceptance.
ESHAN 500 cases.
RORIW Dry cracked Walnut Meats, halves 30%, quarters and pieces 70%.
CELEN January/February/March shipment from the Orient.
ADHOP Referring to your offer.
RIKES Singapore Black Pepper.
ADCID We counter-offer for immediate reply by telegraph.
HETIZ 18 3/8c.
JAFUW f.o.b. cars Pacific Coast, duty paid.

2003feb17. Good band names, part XVII. RRB

2003feb17. Mail.

halloo
hoe is het als nog een happy valentine

[closest I can get on this: “like it is as if still a happy valentine"] zeg ziedaar ... mijn wijzerplaat zit opgepropt van pudding, zit welk welke u waren asking?

[hey there ... my face is crammed with pudding, is that what you were asking?]

2003feb17. “Listen!!! It’s Bin Laden!!! He’s talking about Saddam! See? They’re linked, linked I tell you! Now we can go to war! Warwarwarwarwarwarwarwar ... wait ... what?

2003feb17. I just got a call from Karen of Vacation Travel Services. She said that I have won a vacation to a certain theme park located in Florida. I think I’ve won over a hundred of these so far – I must be a very lucky person, with all this winning. While listening to her recorded message, I came up with a good idea for a movie plot. I think a movie about a serial killer who waits for telemarketing calls and then “goes into action” would be big, big box office.

2003feb18. Ayyyys! Ayyyys! Youse boys want some cotton candy? Ahhhh, here yas go ... waitasecond, where’s me cigar? Ahhhhhhh ... smokey flavor, boys!

2003feb18. Greig’s Cipher Codes. A random selection.

ADLEF Buyer's ideas are
ADLIG Seller's ideas are
ADLOH Our ideas are
ADLUK Buyer would not state his ideas
ADMAM Seller would not state his ideas
FACOV Your inspection not satisfactory
FANUS Expect you to protect our investments
GELOH Germination over 90%
GENUB Guaranteed crack 90% or better sound sweet meats light shells
GETIK Dry shaved
GETEH Arsenic cured and shade dried
STAY TUNED FOR MORE EXCITING GREIG'S CODES!!!!! ADLOH #1!!!

2003feb18. Cockeyed: Terror Thingie! A very serious consideration of action options vis-a-vis color-coded terror levels per the insane grabby warlords of our current administration.

2003feb20. In 1963, director Michael Apted interviewed a group of British seven year olds for a documentary entitled 7 Up. Every seven years he’s been returning to the same people, interviewing them, and kicking out a new documentary (14 Up, etc). I just saw 35 Up, and now I’m on patrol for

42 Up. I’ve seen a few movie reviewers suggest that you go back as far as possible and view each in succession. There’s also a 42 Up book, and other film spin-offs like “14 Up in America,” “7/14 Up in Russia,” “7 Up in South Africa.”

2003feb21. No ... .NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [via molly]

2003feb21. Greig’s Cipher Codes! Part Three!

LECAG Have you received our letter of
LEFAH Why is contract not signed
MEFUW Telegraph in plain language
MEGAB Your telegraph is mutilated, please repeat
MEGEC Get us on the telephone
MEGID Trying to get you on the telephone
MEGOF This telegram combination of Greig's and Armsby's codes
MEGUG This telegram combination of Greig's and A.B.C 5th
MEHAK This telegram combination of Greig's and A.B.C revised
MEHEL This telegram combination of Greig's and Bentley's
MEHIM This telegram combination of Greig's and Keegan's
MEHON This telegram combination of Greig's and Liebers
MEHUP This telegram combination of Greig's and Scott's
MEKAS This telegram combination of Greig's and Western Union
MEKET This telegram combination of Greig's and Yopp's
MEKIV This telegram combination of Greig's and private
MIBIZ Insure against war risk
Tomorrow on Greig’s Codes: BEANS!

2003feb21. Everyone enjoys Greig’s Cipher Codes.

PADOS Apricot kernels, sweet
PADUT Apricot kernels, bitter
PAFAW Beans, Japanese Kotenashi
PAFEX Beans, Korean Kotenashi (small whites)
PFAIZ Beans, Manchurian Kotenashi 
PAFUC Beans, Chutenashi (medium whites)
PAGEH Beans, Nagauzura (long cranberries)
PAHAP Beans, Kijimano (speckled pinks)
PAHER Beans, Muroengin (medium butters)
PAKEK Beans, Aneko (piebalds)
PACAF Albumen, crystal hen
PIFUV Camphor, crude Kwangsai, Foochow or Fulien, seller's option
PIRAT Copra, Singapore sundried
PODER Flour, Sago equal to Sarawac
POGUW Dogskins, raw cargo - in press packed bales
POHOF Goat skins, Chowshing
PONUR Kolinsky weasels, Yu Ping Fu - with tails
POREF Squirrel skins, raw without tails
Tomorrow: A distinct lack of animal skin codes!

2003feb22. And now, we close the week with another exciting peek at the world of Greig’s Cipher Codes.

PYSOK Kapoc, Toeban
PYSAF Kapoc, Japara
RACOZ Menthol Crystals, Kobayashi brand
RECUL Sesamum Seed Oil, Chinese
REGAG Wood Oil, Pale Hankow China
REMOF Aniseed Oil, China Star congealing at 15 degrees or over
RENON Cassia Oil, 70% to 75% Cinnamic Aldehyde
RIHEK Peanut Oil cake
RUDAP Wax, China yellow bees
ROWAV Walnut Meats, wet cracked halves 20%, quarters 80%
RODUM Tapioca, Singapore large pearl
ROHAR Tapioca flour, Lontjeng
ROKID Tumeric, fair average quality
Cardhouse: Putting you on the “fifty-yard line” of international trading 1920-style.

2003feb22. City on Fire ... Reservoir Dogs ... Kaante!!!!!!! Sing it.

2003feb25. Noise Pop: Such a great graphic. I would give it an A+++ if only it had the backward “dut-dut-dut” of the tape reels. Also, if you have tickets for the Calexico show, there was a problem – those are actually my tickets. I have yours here [hastily scribbles on back of paper plate] see?

2003feb26. US goes for UK Passenger Name Record privacy grab. Oddly enough, our beloved Doc used to have access to PNRs while working at the airport. His report follows.

PNRs can contain all sorts of info, including such things as, “THIS PUMPKINHEAD IS AN ASSHOLE OF BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS” – that’s one I remember seeing when I worked reservations. Sometimes some moron would say they were going to take up a dead issue with the gate people, so I would warn the gate people (“ALREADY READ THE RIOT ACT TO THIS MORON. SMILE AND IGNORE HIM.”). Surprisingly, I never got ratted out for anything like that, nor did I hear of it happening to anyone.

I think it’s time for everyone to start predicting wild, off-the-cuff security and civil rights abuses, just to see how many days go by until something far worse takes place.

2003feb26. Cockeyed will be on “All Things Considered” tonight at the end of the first hour. Watch for it ... with your ears!

2003feb26. Mail.

Mariana,

É vc. mesmo ?

Desculpe minha ignorância, mas não conseguí entender o site. Me explica, por favor ?

[Poor translation: “Mariana, Is vc. same? Excuse me my ignorance, but affords not to understand the site. It explains me, please?"]