Culture 31

“It is always nice to see you,”
Says the man behind the counter
To the woman who has come in
She is shaking her umbrella
And I look the other way
As they are kissing their hellos
And I’m pretending not to see them
And instead I pour the milk

— Suzanne Vega, “Tom’s Diner” (1987)

Diary Talk

Today, I became aware of an article in the Atlantic about diaries and their preservation. Not the diaries of famous people, but the diaries of the mundanes, the normal people, the nobodies. This is a topic of some interest to me, as I am a diarist myself. And a nobody. I mean, I got friends and family and shit, but I have little to no historical notoriety. I’ve been keeping a diary since October 2010; got about 3.5 million words. I’m absurdly proud of this fact. I try not to be insufferable about it. But how many people do you know who have written 3.5 million words in their entire lives? I did it in 12 years. And I’m still going.

Of course, I’m no Robert Shields. He’s the diarist who recorded 25 years of his life (1972-1997) in five-minute intervals. It’s estimated to be 37.5 million words. It takes me a few years to get a million. He was doing more than a million a year for 25 years. Unfortunately, his diary is evenly interspersed with somewhat revolting descriptions of peeing and pooping. ‘Cause he recorded everything. How do I know this? A few of the pages have become public. The rest of the diary is sealed until 50 years after Shields’s death. That’s 2057; I knew you’d be curious, so I looked it up.

He was married. His wife was named Grace. I’m wondering if he talked about sex the way he talked about peeing and pooping. Nothing like that in any of the pages I’ve seen. Maybe he didn’t have sex. Whatever. The man fascinates me. What would make a man wanna do that kinda thing? And he fucking committed to the bit for 25 years. Five-minute intervals. Now, obviously he didn’t sit down every five minutes and type out what was going on. He slept and stuff, and did stuff. He had a life. He had three kids. But he recorded his activities down to five-minute intervals.

Why did he stop? It wasn’t because he died, although he did die later. He had a stroke and couldn’t record the diary himself. So the plan was for his wife Grace to do the recording, and him to tell her what to record. This did not last, as Grace was like, “Fuck this.” Mind you, I don’t know how it went down. This is just my take based on what I’ve read online about the guy, which isn’t all that much.

Let’s bring it back around to me. I talk about mundane shit in my diary too. In a way, you could refer to me as “Shields Lite”. I record a lotta stuff, but I leave out the toilet trips, and it’s not every five minutes.

I consider my diary and related files to be extremely valuable. So the idea of sending it somewhere to be preserved is very appealing to me. And the article’s interesting too. It talks about the intrinsic value in these exceedingly personal objects. Although my diary isn’t in physical form, because fuck longhand. It’s all digital. That means it fits on a thumb drive, and is super easy to store. But maybe it lacks something that the handwritten stuff has to offer. I don’t know. Anyway, I hope they’ll take a thumb drive when the time comes to donate it. Whatever organization it ends up being. I had heard of the Great Diary Project, a UK organization mentioned in the article, and the article talks about Stateside institutions possibly being established.

Anyway, yeah. There’s some diary talk for you.

Pain Shower

Pain Shower
This is a small, colorful, jeweled doohickey. It will stick to most surfaces, and won’t come off until you pull it off again. Place the doohickey somewhere in your shower stall, and when you get under the water, it will wash physical pain away. Internal pain, external pain, all the same. Under the incredibly soothing waters of the pain shower, you will feel relief from all discomfort and pain. There are no side effects.

The water will make you clean, also, like any normal shower. When you get out of the shower, you will be pain-free for a while, and then the pain will slowly return over the course of a few hours. At any point, you may take another pain shower and enjoy the same relief.

About the Magic


This magical dishrag lends itself to the task at hand. When you grope for it in the sink, it is always there. Furthermore, when you find it, it is always in a good configuration and orientation for doing whatever it is you are about to do. Washing a plate? You’ll find it spread out and ready to spread over the plate’s surface. Washing a glass? You’ll find it wadded up in a perfect size and shape to fit into the glass to wash it. Those are just two examples out of basically unlimited possibilities. And you don’t have to think about it. Just wash the dishes and do your thing, and the dishrag will make your task go more smoothly.

Appearance-wise, any dishrag can be enchanted in this way, so, like their mundane counterparts, a magical dishrag can be any combination of materials and colors, patterns, etc. A magical dishrag will never become stained or moldy. It won’t wear out from regular use, but it can be deliberately destroyed.

About the Magic


I wish interaction could be reduced to an exchange of lozenges. Everybody has a small orifice on their forehead, out of which lozenges are dispensed. Give someone a lozenge you’ve dispensed, and if they eat it, they’ll totally get who you are, where you’re coming from, and where you’re going. Or at least, a snapshot of that from when you generated the lozenge.

The popular thing has always been for two people to exchange lozenges and then have sex, but lozenge exchange is nonsexual almost as often. It’s easy to see how useful lozenge exchange could be in a nonsexual context.

A trick is to dispense a lozenge when you’re really fucking happy, and then save it, and later in life you can eat the lozenge and enjoy the circumstances and happiness anew. You find lozenge jars at gift shops in tourist spots.

People getting married will sometimes both dispense lozenges at the culmination of the ceremony, and then they share the lozenges on their first anniversary. So of course there’s nuptial lozenge storage jars, and they get all dolled up, as you can no doubt imagine. I mean, they’re often tasteful, too.

In the lozenge section of the grocery or drug store, they’ll have more practical storage solutions, ones that enable you to label and sort your lozenges. They usually resemble pill cases. Not to imply that you can buy lozenges at a store, a crass notion. But you know how the grocery store will have like a stationary section, office supplies? It’s that kinda thing with the lozenge merchandise. And then at the drugstore, you’ll have the same merchandise, but a few more options, and maybe a couple nice options.

How many lozenges you make is a matter of circumstances and personal choice. Some people make several a day, and some people never make one. Your lozenge dispenser needs time to recharge after dispensing a lozenge. Say about three hours? But when it’s ready again, you won’t feel like you “need to go” or whatever. You can make another lozenge at your leisure. Lozenge generation is purely voluntary. Nothing bad will happen to you if you never dispense a lozenge in your life.

Lozenge generation is instinctual and kicks in sometime during puberty. You don’t need to learn how to dispense a lozenge; you just do it. Everyone’s lozenge shapes are slightly different to everyone else’s, but always the same from the same person. So if somebody knows your lozenge shape, they could pick your lozenge out of a collection.

If you eat more than one lozenge at a time, they all taste like shit and have no effects. One at a time, people.

Lozenges vary in color. There are exceptions, but usually a blue lozenge is generally positive, and on orange lozenge is generally negative, but that’s just a rule of thumb. There are positive-feeling orange lozenges, and negative-feeling blue lozenges, and sometimes you get weird colors from left field. They could be literally anything. Legend tells of someone who dispensed a candy-striped lozenge once. They saved it for years, and then finally one night they had it before bed and died in their sleep. Don’t eat the candy-striped lozenge! Not unless you’re ready.


Sometimes when you’re typing, your wires get crossed up and you make a mistake, and then all of a sudden you’re thinking about where your fingers go. Slows you right down, it does. But then muscle memory does its job, and you’re back. Those slow moments are so interesting, though, because normally when you’re typing, you don’t think about where your fingers are going. You just hit the right letter at the right time. It’s almost like it’s a blur. But at those slow times when you’re uncertain, it can feel downright weird to type those keys. And you have to concentrate to do it. And then after a second or three of that, muscle memory kicks in, and away you go. I don’t know. I just thought it was interesting. And I’m not wrong.

That all refers to touch typing, incidentally. I learned to touch type in 1998, and it is the single most useful skill I have ever learned in my entire life. There’s no competition.

One time, in a professional setting, a guy asked me how I learned to type. And I told him, Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing. And he was like, “I didn’t know people actually used that.” I thought it was kinda funny. I don’t remember how he said he learned to type. Back in those days, recall, they used to give you a buncha software when you bought a PC. Most people threw most of it away. There was usually like maybe one “big” product, that you might actually use, but the rest tended to be garbage. Mavis Beacon was almost always in those packages. So it’s no wonder the guy thought it was garbage. To be perfectly honest, it was a little bit garbage. But it was an effective way for me to learn to type, which is the whole point, really.

I tried a version of Mavis when I was helping Marnie learn to type, and they didn’t do so well with it. They didn’t like the games. ‘Cause there were games. Games in which you typed things. And if you hit the wrong letter, the mouse falls off the block. Or whatever the fuck it is. The frog falls off the lily pad. Shit like that. Sometimes you had to type things quickly, and Marnie really didn’t like those ones. So we switched to a different program, I think it was web-based and free, and Marnie did a lot better with that. Did it work? I can’t remember when I had Marnie learn typing, but several years afterwards, I asked them if they still used touch typing, and the answer was basically, “Sort of.” They organically developed their own thing, which combines elements of touch typing with elements of hunt-and-peck. I think that’s probably how most people type. It’s an approach that works. Marnie said they were glad to have had the typing training, that it was helpful to them. So that’s generally positive.

Ten and Two

When I was learning to drive, they always told us to put our hands on the wheel at 10 and 2. Like, if the steering wheel is a clock, you put your left hand where the 10 is, and your right hand where the 2 is. This is the way I drive most often; I find it extremely comfortable.

But the other day I learned that this standard rule is no longer supported by driving organizations. Reason being, it can be problematic placement of your hands if the airbag deploys. Basically, the airbag deploys, and pushes your hands violently at your face. Most authorities suggest 9 and 3 as an alternative, safer placement. Then your hands will just fly out to the sides, which would presumably be less hazardous.

So what’s the deal with teaching me 10 and 2? Well, airbags weren’t in most cars when I learned to drive. They didn’t become mandatory on all vehicles until 1998. I learned to drive in 1991. 9 and 3 was offered as an alternative, and they’d let you do that. But I always gravitated to 10 and 2. I just find it so amazingly comfortable.

But yeah, now I’m training myself not to do it, since my steering column obviously has an airbag. 9 and 3’s alright. But I feel a bit wistful. 10 and 2 and I were so good together.

Source Article


It is discovered that lice (head, genital, etc.) are actually self-aware, sentient, sapient beings, and as such, killing them is illegal because duh, that’s like totally murder and shit. So now when you get lice, you have to just leave it in there, unless you can find a volunteer’s body to transfer them to. This becomes a service that some people provide. The transfer process is time consuming and labor-intensive, and therefore inconvenient and expensive. ‘Cause you gotta get each nit onto a new hair safely, and that takes delicacy and precision. And time. And lice techs are paid by the hour.

Terrariums are created that can support ongoing, population-stable lice communities, and can also facilitate communication and cultural exchange between humans and lice. It turns out, lice are unbelievably cool and groovy people. The lice-human communication tech becomes portable, and not long after, the in thing to do is to harbor a lice colony, providing yourself as a living area and using the tech to communicate with your parasites. Who, as I said, are just really great fucking people. They are wise well beyond their humble status as vermin. And they have culture out the butt. It becomes unusual _not_ to harbor a lice colony familiar. Those who don’t are those who are allergic, or who aren’t good at carrying lice for whatever reason.

With the help of the communication tech, an agreement has been reached where lice will obtain consent prior to infesting a new host. So those who can’t support lice (or choose not to) won’t get infested without their consent. Lice become non-contagious. Or I mean, it can spread, they just have to obtain the consent of the new host. Which is impossible in most circumstances. So the lice just don’t spread like they used to in the old days. Like I said, they’re really cool people.

Hosting a lice colony can be less physically comfortable than not doing so, but it will enrich your life in all sorts of ways, and, assuming you take care of it, it will be a loyal, lifelong companion. So what do you say? Will you host a colony? I’ve got several available to choose from, all with ancestry and genetics and stuff. You won’t be getting mongrel herds from my showroom. And we’ll throw in the installation as part of the purchase price. I assure you, sir or madam, you won’t find a better deal anywhere else in town.

Corrected Vision

Corrected Vision
Cast this spell on yourself or another target with eyes. Magical fields take their place in front of the eyes of the target, and will correct the target’s vision to 20/20 vision. These fields magically bend the light to achieve their end. They cannot be touched or seen or felt on the eyes, and they don’t interfere with any activity around the eyes. If you put in eyedrops, for example, the vision correction will not block their progress onto your cornea. The corrective fields move perfectly with your eyes, regardless of where and at what rate of speed you are moving.

You can have only one set of Corrected Vision going at a time. It goes away when the target dies, or you can dismiss the current one whenever you want, and it disappears without so much as a poof. If you try to cast it again while the first one hasn’t been dismissed, the spell fizzles. Dismiss the original and try again. You don’t have to be anywhere near the instance of Corrected Vision in order to dismiss it. (This only really applies when you cast the Corrected Vision on someone other than yourself.) If you are the one who cast it, you’ll be able to feel its signature in the waves of magic that move through the universe, and dismiss it no matter where the target is.

Optionally, you can have an illusion of eyeglasses on your face while the spell is in effect, but that’s purely cosmetic. Like the corrective fields themselves, these “eyeglasses” can’t be touched, adjusted, or removed, and they don’t offer any protection or shielding for your eyes whatsoever. The eyeglasses will appear how you want them to. So you can do the Elton John thing if you feel like it, or whatever.

About the Magic