April 14, 2004

"Because It's Not There"

BACK WHEN WE were in school some -- Gad, seven or eight years ago -- we stumbled across a Web page which had what we considered a very intriguing idea.

Now, in the halcyon period of 1996-97, the Internet was still in its infancy in terms of both content and usability. Consider: blogs didn't really get off the ground until four years later. Consider: PINE was a major e-mail client. Consider: people who did have Web pages generally had to hand-code them. Also, folks thought it a great idea to have things called "hot lists," which were like link lists, except they weren't nearly as cool.

A while after we made our first feeble Web page, we came across the page of one Stephen Turner, a Cambridge academic who did not have a hot list. No. He had a cold list -- sites that no one wanted to visit. Naturally, we thought it was a great idea and made one ourself (giving proper credit to Dr Turner, of course).

Both Dr Turner's original site and our own are lost to the mists of time. But, fast forward a few years, and we find Sheila O'Malley has updated the idea with her "To DON'T" list -- that is, a list of things which she never has a need to do in this life. And we thought, "Gee. That's a great idea. We should do this too -- giving proper credit to Ms O'Malley, of course."

Hence, without further ado, we present our "To DON'T List:"

Go Mountain Climbing. Yep. Don't need to do that. Now, we know there are plenty of people who enjoy doing this -- it's good exercise and what not. Of course, they are also putting themselves at risk of great physical injury to climb a mountain. A key reason oft given for doing so is "because it's there." We do not understand this.

You see, our idea of fun most certainly does NOT involve the possibility of contracting sunstroke, getting crushed in an avalanche, falling off a sheer cliff, or otherwise exposing ourself to traumatizing injury. Indeed, we do not even like being near mountain areas, as the air is dry and thin, and we get winded far too easily. Hence, we are going to stick to our preferred areas: deserts, beaches, deserts, forests, deserts, and deserts. Yeah. Maybe when we are close to retirement, we'll go live at Scotty's Castle or something.

Take Up Golf. Yep. Don't need to do that, either. We realize, of course, that the game is immensely popular with a lot of people, and we can see why people find it fun. It's a challenge, for one thing! But as we never grew up in a golfing family -- Mr Kepple was most certainly not a golfer -- we never got the hang of it nor had the inclination to do so. And if we are ever forced to take up a non-contact sport for our health, we'll play racquetball. Now that was fun.

Go to Europe. Yep. Don't need to do that one. Of course, we realize that we probably ought do so for a variety of reasons; we'd like to make a pilgrimage to the Vatican, and pay a visit to the Old Country; and all that. Also, as a student of history, we realize there is so much that we would really enjoy seeing.

But as an American, we also feel we need to spend more time exploring our own country. We have never been to the Pacific Northwest -- and we have never been to the South either. This greatly troubles us, and so we place a personal priority on this. Besides -- we have been informed that everything in Europe costs as much as in America, except that one gets less in all respects. Also, many people there don't seem to like Americans much. So we'll save ourselves some aggravation and go the Caribbean instead.

Buy a Mobile Telephone. Hooo -- yeah -- don't have ANY desire to do that. Christ. It's as if people want to have others call them at all hours of the day or night, without so much as a by-your-leave. No. We are sorry, but we have no desire to join this particular crowd.

Of course, our objections to joining would be significantly reduced if we found a company capable of making a phone that did what we wanted, and no more. By this, we mean that all we would want our mobile to do is: A) give us the capability to make and receive telephone calls, and B) give us access to the stock tickers. We do not need nor want a telephone with foofy games, annoying ring tones, a miniature camera, or a tiny keyboard which requires a set of tweezers to type out an e-mail. We'll say it again. Make calls; receive calls; indexes at close. And that's it.

That said, the makers of such a phone would have to fit into our price point (let's say about $40) were we to buy such a device. Since we would hardly use it, we would furthermore need an economical calling plan. We envision such a plan costing us $5 per month, plus say a nickel per minute for talk time. And then would come the real challenge.

For we have been informed that the nationwide networks are not in fact nationwide, and people can never get signals when their car breaks down out in the desert, and if one happens to live anywhere except on the coasts one is often hit with "roaming charges." This, we submit, sucks. Hence, we want nothing to do with such foolery, and will only get a mobile phone if the nationwide plan is nationwide. Or something. To be honest we are not fully in the loop about all this, but we don't care.

Start Watching Reality TV Shows. Now, we fully admit that this item could easily move to our "to do" list -- IF the industry happens to put out a show we would be willing to watch. Sadly, it has yet to do so.

Indeed, the few minor clips we have seen of reality TV shows have all seemed the same in our eyes. They all seem to feature an alarming number of oversexed morons as contestants; folks notable for A) taking bread out of the mouths of professional actors, and B) being unable to go five minutes without engaging in various petty faults -- such as backbiting, strenuously arguing over minor things, and drinking to excess at some trendy nightspot. (We are hopeful that people can prove us wrong on this, and fearful that no one can).

But for us, perhaps it doesn't matter. For we think the only way we would really become fans of the genre is if true loss was a potential outcome in addition to true gain. Really. Now that would be interesting.

("Uh oh! Jack's closed down-limit on pork bellies again! Let's listen in on his margin call ... and say! Jack doesn't know it now, but fifteen stories below, the bank is repossessing his Mercedes. Let's see what happens when he goes to the garage.")

Sadly, though, we realize that a reality show about commodities traders would have an audience of just one; and even if we are in the coveted 18-34 male demographic, this would just not do. However, we understand that one show featuring a successful real-estate developer has proven quite popular, and we may give its second season a whirl. If only to have something to talk about come the next morning at work.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at April 14, 2004 12:09 AM | TrackBack

Ben, hilarious. I agree with you on most counts, however, as your friend, I must say you have the cell phone thing all wrong.

Think of it as a money saver. I don't know what you pay on your land line in NH to call friends, family, and such, but if it's anymore than 50 a month, its too much.

I pay 39.99 for calls from anywhere to anywhere; in short, I don't HAVE a land line. Unlimited calling (well, not technically, but I have NEVER run over my limit) for 40 bucks, local and long distance.

Screw the ring tones. I agree.

Posted by: simon from jersey at April 14, 2004 09:31 AM

Hi Simon --

Actually, all combined, I generally pay about $65 per month for local and long-distance service. Thanks to the Internet, I make very few long-distance calls; so few that sometimes the telephone company bills me on a quarterly basis.

That is a bit more than the $40 you mention. Hoewver, the land-line is a useful thing to have in the event of a power outage or low-battery on a mobile phone. Also, the costs inherent in getting set up on a mobile -- the phone itself and the payment plans and what not -- might erase any cost-savings that I would otherwise realize from switching.

Speaking of long-distance calls, though, I am going to give you a call in the next few days. Vacation later in the year and all that.

Posted by: Benjamin Kepple at April 15, 2004 10:58 PM