Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Snarchives 3/19/2009: Does Not Compute

Catching up with the highly suspicious 'round the world

Occasionally, in between Intellectual Collegiate Activities such as organizing my books alphabetically by predominant stain, I find myself using a public computer. The Aarkvard campus features many public computers, the fruits of university President Ephram M. Cloaca’s much-lauded Public Computer Initiative (“Like Reaching Into Your Toilet, But With That Added Element of Mystery”).

Personally, I could be at peace with this, if not for the fact that every time I turn on one of these computers, I receive: the Threatening Message. The Threatening Message* informs me that, quote, “EXCEPTION HAS BEEN THROWN BY THE TARGET OF AN INVOCATION.” This has bothered me considerably, affording me countless seconds of reflection. The implications would seem to be as follows:

1. An exception has been thrown.
2. It has been thrown by the target of an invocation.
3. The computer clearly suspects ME of involvement.
4. Whereas, though I do not wish to name names, this is quite clearly your personal mother’s fault.

So I just always tell it, quote, “OK.” And with good reason: “OK” is the only button. Personally, my peace of mind would be much greater were there alternative buttons, such as the “Hwunhh?” button or the “I Spit On Your Exception, Punk; Now, Please Show Me The Naked People of My Choice At Once”** button. That would make me feel all better. But “OK” it is.

This would appear to be highly suspicious, but not nearly so highly suspicious as the militant toilet paper dispenser. You may know the one of which I speak.*** It wishes me to free Palestine. I can tell because it says, in bold Sharpie, FREE PALESTINE. Now I am as sympathetic as the next alleged exception-thrower with savage, yet strangely seductive eyes; but let us consider this more deeply for a moment. The person receiving the toilet-paper message may well be entirely inclined to free Palestine, but if he is in a position to be contemplating the toilet paper, chances are this is an inconvenient moment for him to do it.

I do not mean to pick bones**** here, but these are the sorts of things that make me feel I have no grip on the world. Am I supposed to FREE PALESTINE in the comfort of my restroom stall? Must I do it RIGHT this second? Should I wash my hands first? (These are the sorts of questions we must ask ourselves, as a nation and as humans, if we are ever to achieve our ultimate goal of avoiding our psychology homework.) And why, pray, do the public computers suspect me of throwing targets? Do I look like a target-thrower? ‘Cause I got news for them: there AREN’T EVEN ANY TARGETS HERE, except for the one across the river in Edgewater*****, and why would I throw it, unless I got, like, really bored and really strong and wanted to make a throwing-heavy-things noise like, “HUNH!!!”?******

Of course, I don’t mean to imply that the problem of making me feel grip-less is limited to just Palestine (or, as it is alternatively known, “Edgewater”). France is also involved. I have this French phrase calendar, daily helping me to strengthen my second language*******, which is pretty impressive when you consider I never totally got a handle on my first. This is all fine and dandy until you look at the pronunciation key underneath the phrase of the day. For example, March 12 (if that IS its name) avers that the phrase “On se voit au bar ce soir” is pronounced, quote, “on s-vwah oh bar se swahr,” whereas I guarantee you most French speakers will actually pronounce it “On se voit au bar ce soir.”********

This too would appear to be highly suspicious, but at least I’m not learning Chinese. That would do me in. The other day at the library, I watched with horror as the kid next to me, doing his Chinese homework online, looked up the word “sheng,” yielding a list something like the following:

SHENG (n.) – river
SHENG (n.) – stoat
SHENG (v.) – to need
SHENG (v.) – to follow
SHENG (v.) – to develop glaucoma
SHENG (v.) – to give a mouse a cookie
SHENG (p.) – buttercup seen on a Tuesday at 5:08 (Celsius)
SHENG (b.) – sodium benzoate (to preserve freshness)
SHENG (x.) – forgotten actor Jeff Conaway
SHENG (n.b.c.) – E-Z-Bake Oven
SHENG (b.y.o.b.) – junk mail, especially certain ads for carpet cleaners, but NOT other certain ads for carpet cleaners, and you should know which ones are which, ass-face
SHENG (a.a.r.p.) – A little to the left
SHENG (i.h.o.p.) – Ooh, that’s good

And that’s just a small sampling. I haven’t even gotten into urinary-tract connotations, sporting-event cheers, dog breeds, etc. So maybe I should count my blessings: my native language may implore me to free Palestine inside a restroom stall, but at least I have never had to stop and wonder if it is actually imploring me to develop glaucoma. At least … not until now.

With that, I retreat into the mists of Spring Break, until next we meet. For the record, I do not know Chinese, and I realize it’s entirely possible I’ve misrepresented particulars of the language here, despite devoting myself to upwards of 6 seconds of research before I switched to making things up and consuming multiple spice drops to replace upwards of 6 seconds’ worth of glucose. Some faux pas********* cannot be helped.

In the meantime, until we meet again: sheng. And I sincerely mean that.

*"Threaty" for short. We are on personal terms by now, you understand.
**Come to think of it, this should be a required button for every computer. Or, short of that, just mine. Just mine would be okay.
***That one. In that stall over there.
****Disclaimer: Ms. McEldowney is lying. She totally means to pick bones. She is a bone-picky, bone-picking bone-picker. Also, “bone” is funny. Hee! “Bone.”
*****I understand there is a kick-ass sale on sheets.
******Actually, this is kind of fun.
********Literally, “On se voit kick-ass sale on sheets.”
*********Pronunciation: “luh vwuh nuh bwuh OOH OOH baby gimme gimme.”

©2009, Nicola McEldowney
The Snark Ascending

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1 comment:

Antiquated Tory said...

God though I do hate information-free exception statements. Somewhere (I would guess at whatever URL you were trying to access, but maybe you weren't trying to access one) there's some commented-out line of code like "//TODO Handle custom exception code here" and someone couldn't be arsed to put in a print statement telling you what the exception is, so you get some stupid placeholder message.