CSotD: Reading the Manual

Maria Scrivan — whom I will see in a day or two at CXC — offers a funny/not funny Half Full, the kind where first you laugh and then you sink into a reverie.

Oh, honey, nobody reads the terms and conditions.


Well, except for Robert Sikoryak, who found a way to make Apple’s I-Tunes terms and conditions readable, though I suspect purchasers of his book paid more attention to the artwork than the text.

Nobody ever actually plowed through all that bafflegab except Sikoryak himself and his poor editors. And I suppose the Apple lawyers who first extruded it.

Anyway, nobody reads the terms and conditions for life, either. They just click “accept” each year and blow out the candles again. Which, come to think of it, seems like a symbolic act.

Besides, if you knew what was coming, WTH difference would it make?


Glenn McCoy boils it all down to three panels in this Duplex, which reminds me of the advice Beavis and Butthead offered in this 1993 Rolling Stone interview:

 Like if you go to school and, like, study and stuff? And grow up and get a job at a company and, like, get promoted? You have to go there and do stuff that sucks for the rest of your life.

I remember that quote from Butthead because I had it tacked up on my cubicle wall.


Next to this panel from a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon.

Though it’s important to note that they were only up there for two or three months while I sent out resumes, networked like a mad man, and finally found an escape route, which means they served as motivation, not as a dismal substitute for getting a grip.

I have little patience for the “Please, sir, can I have another?” types who mope and complain and yet do nothing to change their situation.


Though you have to start somewhere, and that’s not getting any easier. As Jen Sorensen points out, the current crew is gonna start hitting walls well before they settle into that cubicle.

Which reminds me that, when I was in Boulder in 1971, parents were buying houses for their kids to live in for four years, after which they’d sell them and, given how Colorado was booming, they’d make money on the deal.

Those were simpler times. The median sales price on a house in Boulder today is just over $1 million.

But take heart: Colorado State’s easily as good at CU, and the median sales price on a house in Fort Collins is only $523,000.

“Only.” heh heh.


Don’t despair. As this pair from Pros & Cons (KFS) reminds us, you simply have to come up with a plan that fits your goals.

But don’t tell your shrink about it or he’ll go all wet-blanket on you.


Still, there’s no cause for despair. As Existential Comics reminds us, the world has seen massive progress through the centuries, leading up to this golden moment in this, the best of all possible worlds!


Fortunately, I don’t have to complain about everything, because, unlike First Dog on the Moon, I live in the Northern Hemisphere, where Daylight Saving began last March and we got all our complaining about it done then.

Of course, we’ll switch back to Good Old Regular Time on November 6 and then we’ll complain some more, and it’s nice to know other people in other lands are equally good at it. Not better, just equally good. Nobody’s better than we are!

I blame James Watt. No steam engines, no trains. No trains, no standardized time.

Good old James Watt. How I hate him.


And no complaints about Cynthia’s cunning plan in Barney and Clyde (WPWG), because it’s a lovely dream indeed, and reminded me of the Leave It to Beaver show in which Gilbert and Beaver were supposed to make faces for the class picture but only Beaver did.

A reminder that, while Larry Mondello was a true friend who screwed things up in all sincerity, Gilbert was kind of a dick. We invariably learn that sort of thing too late, and the hard way.


It’s also a reminder of a true-life adventure captured in 2000 by Keith Knight — whom I will also be seeing in a few days at CXC.


You can tell Crabgrass is set in an indeterminate past, because, if Kevin set off a fire alarm today, he’d not only be suspended but they’d probably call the cops and have him arrested. Which would doubly suck, given that he’s taking the rap for a friend.

Times change. When I was in sixth grade, my friend Jimmy set off the fire alarm — accidentally, but while doing something dumb — and they just yelled at him. A few years ago, some kids let a rooster loose in the same school overnight and they called in the state police to investigate the crime.

And at a high school I worked with, someone threw a pack of gum on the bus, so when they got to school, they marched all the kids into the auditorium and forced them to sit there missing classes until someone squealed. Which nobody did, but it certainly wasn’t the gum-chucker that they sat there resenting. (She eventually confessed to end the farce and was, of course, suspended.)

In his piece, Keef complained that we spend money on prisons instead of on schools, but I’m not sure the politicians and education departments have figured out a sensible way to keep the two distinct, and having authoritarian extremists infiltrate and intimidate local school boards isn’t helping.

For most kids, it’s funny, stupid memories years later about classmates who made faces or revealed Pepsi logos for the camera or set off fire alarms or let roosters loose.

But for kids already on the brink, there are potentially graver consequences, as Johnny Clegg reminded us:

Funny how some of us live it up
While others just survive
I know you do what you can
But all you ever do is time

4 thoughts on “CSotD: Reading the Manual

  1. The only time I saw police at my school in the 70s was when some guy who wasn’t quite as smart as he thought he was built a smoke bomb to set off. It blew the door off of his locker and started a fire. (it wasn’t me. I barely got a C in chemistry!)

  2. If language were logical, Good Old Regular Time would instead be Daylight Wasting Time.

  3. Today I learned the term “sook fodder” and look forward to using it. Might not wait until the clocks turn back, opportunities are thick on the ground.

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