Posts for Category General Silliness

Inscriptions from a yearbook

In which Bill reveals what people said about him in high school
Dec 022014
Bill's high school yearbook photo
Bill’s 17-year-old Head*

Shortly after writing a recent, wildly-popular post wherein I briefly discussed yearbooks, I came upon my yearbook from my senior year in high school whilst cleaning out a bookcase.

Reading through the messages written by long-ago friends and acquaintances I was struck first of all by some very sincere and touching inscriptions by people I have absolutely no recollection of. For example, this one from someone whose name might be Sean (I can’t decipher the signature) and whom I don’t remember but apparently had a positive influence on:

Thanx a lot for a helluva lot of inspiration.

This one, from someone possibly named Jimmy or Jerry, is baffling and a little alarming:

Thanks for teaching me to be a “real man.” And for the book on how to eat like a child.

What the hell is that about? Not what it sounds like, I assure you, because I would remember that.

While doing some research for this post (they’re all backed by research, you know!), I found an article titled “How to sign yearbooks with style” from Girls’ Life magazine. It has this tip:

Show off your super thoughtful self with a message that’s short, sure, but totally calls attention to your friendship. Even a quick “Couldn’t have it [sic] made it through U.S. history without ya!” will make your bud smile, and will help ya recall the school year decades from now.

That’s probably what my buds Sean and Jimmy or Jerry thought they were doing, sure, but it totally didn’t work. I would add these tips: write legibly and include your last name so that decades from now the recipient can find you in the index and figure out who you were.

My French teacher wrote something that is both in hard-to-read cursive handwriting and in French, so I have no idea what she said, which is a shame because I liked her. I can make out fromage, anyway, and plaisir, so that sounds positive.

Speaking of “what the hell is that about,” I have no idea who these “little people” are, but if I’m honest it sounds plausible:

A long-forgotten yearbook inscription

You’re so scary! But I love ya’ anyway! You’ve definitely made an impression on my [high school] life & I’m not really sure if that’s good or bad! I’ve never been the same since those little people living in your locker in the 7th grade! You are a great guy though! You’re super talented & I know you’ll go far! Set your goals high & you’ll reach ’em! Good luck & keep up the sense of humor!

You know what’s scary? All those exclamation points! Would you believe she was a cheerleader?! But a really nice one! Of course we know now that you’re much more likely to reach your goals if you set ’em low.

Here’s a sweet one from someone I don’t think I ever heard from again (though I have thought of her from time to time):

[Redacted: Short message that totally calls attention to our friendship, and also includes an inside joke.] Plus I will call you, & you better keep in touch! I am SO glad we are friends, let’s stay that way!

This one (from someone I can almost call to mind) is a little sad, and also makes me wonder if I missed out on an opportunity:

HEY LIFES Been great huh! Im glad I got the chance to know you. Im not going to college so if you come home give me a call. I’ll be lonely! [phone number]§

I could spend some time philosophizing about all this, but mostly it just makes me wonder: why isn’t there a Web site devoted to collecting this stuff? Someone gave it a try at Awkward Yearbook Signatures, but didn’t get very far. There should be a, so maybe I’ll start that.


When I called my mom to ask if my senior pictures were still in the drawer at my parents’ house where I thought I remembered seeing them, she said, “Why? Do you need to prove to someone that you once had hair?” Thanks, mom. And remember that I have access to lots of embarrassing photos of you, plus the means to publish them to the world.
Bonus surprise: the use of thanx way back in 1989, long before txtspeak, with which I associate that sort of thing. The OED’s first reference is in 1936, though, fom H. L. Mencken, no less.
I think maybe I was inspired by the book Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche at the time.
Don’t worry! She doesn’t need your retrospective pity! Based on what I think her last name was I asked Internet and she seems to have turned out great.

The cure for Bieber Fever

If you want an image of someone's head burned into your eyes, use Bill's Head, not Bieber's. Bonus: a picture of me totally making out with Justin Bieber!
Feb 252011

Perhaps while Bill’s Head has been quiet and you have been bored, you have seen some variation of the optical illusion involving Justin Bieber’s goofy head (see here, or other versions here). It’s an old trick: you stare at a silhouette of his head for 30 seconds, then look at a blank wall or sheet of paper and blink rapidly, and he magically appears. If you are an 8-year-old girl I guess you swoon and/or scream. If you are not, you shrug and think about science.

If you want to try the trick without having to have the image of Justin Bieber seared on your retinas, here’s a version of Bill’s Head that you can use. Go ahead: try it.


Are you swooning yet?

By the way, I don’t like to brag but I totally met Justin the other night. Here are some pictures of that encounter:

Bieber1 Bieber2

A Day in the Life: Lunch and Costco

I set out for Costco today to buy a three-pound bag of almonds. I didn't have any urgent need for almonds, or any need at all, really, but it was a good excuse to go to Five Guys for lunch.
Oct 252010

[Editor’s note: This will be mildly amusing to a few of you. The rest of you should just come back another time.]

I set out for Costco today to buy a three-pound bag of almonds. I didn’t have any urgent need for almonds, or any need at all, really: I had told a friend I would get her some the next time I was there.

I did, however, have a need to go to Five Guys for lunch. Not enough need, apparently, because I was having trouble talking myself into it. I wanted to go but I also didn’t want to go. It was that kind of day. I sure didn’t want to be at the office, working. Then I remembered the almonds. Almonds at Costco. Costco is in the same shopping center as Five Guys. “Since I need to go to Costco anyway,” I thought, ignoring the fact that I didn’t really need to go to Costco, “I might as well go to Five Guys for lunch first.”

Continue reading »

Nov 242008

Bestoffairfax We were quite excited at work today when we got an e-mail from the “U.S. Local Business Administration” informing us that the company “has been selected for the 2008 Best of Fairfax Award in the Local Business category by the U.S. Local Business Association (USLBA).”

Yippee! Finally someone has recognized the extent to which we “enhance the positive image of small business through service to [our] customers and community”!

The message gave us a link to a press release announcing our selection, and to a page where we could order an official plaque (starting price: $80) to hang in the lobby to impress our customers.

Alas, it’s all just a scam, as a cursory Web search or perusal of the organization’s Web site reveals. What does the U.S. Local Business Administration do, exactly? Mostly they give “awards” to every business they can get an e-mail address for, to scam people into buying their stupid plaques. Their “information-packed web site” has a few single-paragraph business tips lifted verbatim from the site of the U.S. Small Business Administration (a legitimate organization that does not sell plaques).

We weren’t fooled, of course, and wondered how anyone else could be. But if you do a search for “U.S. Local Business Administration” you will find, tucked in amongst numerous scam reports, many (more than we would have thought possible, actually) Web sites proudly listing the award. And actual press releases, released by actual companies and posted on actual PR news services, complete with quotes from actual CEOs, proudly announcing the receipt of the award.

For example, this one from Triton Pacific Capital Partners. Investment tip: don’t give any money to the folks at Triton Pacific Capital Partners. No telling what sort of make-believe things they will “invest” it in.

We now wonder how many of these companies actually shelled out money for the plaques, and we wonder whether we aren’t in the wrong line of work entirely. We’ve always said that making money by exploiting the stupid is much easier than writing software.

Jul 042006

SussyJust in time for independence day an online dating site delivered to me the following heartwarming, and, frankly, inspiring personal note from a modeller named Sussy George who was kind enough to say that I meet her criteria for what she is looking for in a man: “fora good and nice man whohas the mind of God fora date.” Sussy writes:

Goodday, in the course of human events, when opportunity presents itself that one meets someone whose qualities fits in with ones desired “dream mates”, the demand of history has it that one must fully utilize such opportunity because it may never re-occur again Such now is the coincidence that occurred while I was reading thru profiles on this site. it is a fortune for me that I came across ur profile. Reading thru it I found it interesting and suiting for my kind of person, it is once said; “The most beautiful things on earth cannot be seen, it can only be felt from the heart. He that looks into the heart sees clearer” I have developed a feeling and need to know you better and establish a closer relationship with you soonest if you desire. “The meeting of two personality is like the contact of two chemical substances ; if there is a reaction ,both lives are transformed” and testimonies are shared

This is sussy George, born by a nigeria father and an american mother.a modeller, network analyst, currently in nigeria taking care of my fathers property .born and raise in boring 8miles from hampstead in Maryland , USA.I am also single and i live alone,i hope u never mind the Simplicity ,appraisal, long introduction, it is a way of expressing my feelings toward your profile. Even the only book (1Corinthians 13:4–13) talk about it….Now however, there remain Faith, Hope and Love These three, but the Greatest of these is Love”. i might the love of you life you are looking for. Never mind the distance,race,culture and background. If you won’t mind reply me back through [email protected] to show your interest and we shall both takeit from there

i care


[sic, generally]

I am so touched by the fact that she cares that I am almost willing to overlook certain shortcomings (like the facts that she is incoherent, Christian, living in Nigeria, and the totally fictitious creation of people trying to get me to send money to them), obey the demand of history, and utilize my opportunity in case it never re-occurs again.

If you are bored sometime, dear reader, spend a few moments crafting a suitable reply to Sussy. Post it here or contact her yourself ([email protected]). This could be the start of something special.

Jun 252006

It’s true: I’m pretty sure that if George W. Bush had been President 15 years ago, I would have been arrested for being part of a terrorist conspiracy.

You see, in college, my friend M—— (I won’t use his real name, because he is now a happily-married father of one with another on the way, living in Seattle and working as an anesthesiologist and I wouldn’t want him to end up on any watch lists) and I conspired to have a revolution and kill all the people who annoyed us. We kept lists. I think these lists might have been written down at some point, but maybe they were just in our heads. Oh, and maybe we didn’t actually plot a revolution, but we certainly made our plans for who would be up against the wall when the revolution came.

Were we dangerous? Probably not. Does that matter? Maybe not. Because Attorney General Alberto Gonzales believes that

it’s dangerous for us to try to make an evaluation case by case
as we look at potential terrorist plots and making [sic] a decision, “Well,
this is a really dangerous group; this is not a dangerous group.”

So perhaps it is M—— and I who would have found ourselves up against the wall.

My evidence?

I don’t mean to downplay the threat of terrorism, or to imply that naive, incompetent bumblers can’t be a real threat. But The Washington Post notes “the murkiness that has been common to many of the government’s terrorism-related prosecutions since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, cases that often hinge on ill-formed plots or debatable connections to terrorism.”

This was in an article about the arrest on Thursday of seven men alleged to be “homegrown terrorists,” who were charged with

conspiring to support the Al Qaida terrorist organization by planning attacks on numerous targets, including bombing the Sears Tower in Chicago, the FBI building in North Miami Beach, Florida, and other government buildings in Miami-Dade County.

On Friday, Gonzales held a news conference to discuss the arrest, which he described as “an important step forward in the war on terrorism here in the United States.” He went on to say that

The convergence of globalization and technology has created a new brand of terrorism. Today, terrorist threats may come from smaller, more loosely defined cells who are not affiliated with Al Qaida, but who are inspired by a violent jihadist message. And left unchecked, these homegrown terrorists may prove to be as dangerous as groups like Al Qaida….They sought funding, support, materials and weapons for their mission. They initiated a plot to blow up targets, including the Sears
Tower, as you’ve heard, and five government buildings, including the FBI office in Miami.

They conducted surveillance. They conspired to murder countless Americans through attacks that would be, in their words, quote, “just as good or greater than 9/11,” as the attorney general has mentioned. But we preempted their plot.

This investigation reminds us that while we have made tremendous progress in combating terrorism, the struggle is far from over. We cannot afford to become complacent as the threat is real and the stakes are high.

But the group’s only contact with “Al Qaeda” was with a government informant pretending to be a member of Al Qaeda, who also supplied them with the video camera they used for their surveillance operation. More from the press conference:

QUESTION: Did any of the men have any actual contact with any members of Al Qaida that you know of?GONZALES: Any?PISTOLE: No.

GONZALES: The answer to that is no.

QUESTION: Did they have any means to carry out this plot? I mean, did you find any explosives, weapons?

GONZALES: No, and you raise a good point.

You know, our philosophy here is that we try to identify plots in the earliest stages possible, because we don’t know what we don’t know
about a terrorism plot. And that once we have sufficient information to move forward with a prosecution, that’s what we do. And that is what
has occurred here.

And so what we have is a situation where individuals here in America made plans to hurt Americans. They did take some overt acts. They did request materials. They did request equipment. They did request funding. They swore allegiance to Al Qaida.

We clearly believe there’s sufficient information, sufficient facts, to support this prosecution. And, therefore, we took action when we did because we believe we have an obligation to prevent America from another attack here.

QUESTION: From reading the indictment, it appears that about a month ago, their plans, sort of, fell apart, which raises a couple questions.

QUESTION: One: It appears they had real criminal intent, but did they have the capability? That is, were they just naive and incompetent? In other words, were you ever afraid that they could really pull off this plot?

GONZALES: I think it’s dangerous for us to try to make an evaluation case by case as we look at potential terrorist plots and making a decision, “Well, this is a really dangerous group; this is not a dangerous group.”

We look at the facts in every particular case. And we felt that the combination of the planning and the overt acts taken were sufficient to support this prosecution. And that’s why we took this action. [emphasis added]

Read the transcript. There is much more that is funny, in a 1984 kind of way. Especially the part where they’re being charged with supporting a terrorist organization, even though there wasn’t a real terrorist organization. So, M——, if you still have those lists, shred them now.

Remember, whatever the Bush administration says, the real threat isn’t from generic “terrorists;” it’s from loony, fundamentalist Muslims who want to kill the infidels and subjugate everyone who’s left to their primitive worldview. What motivated these guys? Good question:

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) logical follow-up to that, then, is why would a group of men of seemingly different ethnic backgrounds … get together? What do they have against the United States? Why would they pledge allegiance to Al Qaida?PISTOLE: They shared a common ideology, which I think you have heard some about, or you will later, in the Miami press conference. So there was a common ideology. They had other similarities which will be —more information will be provided on that later.QUESTION: Well, I’m just trying —what they had against the United States?

PISTOLE: They did not believe that the government of the United States had legal authority over them. They were separatists in the sense of not
believing that the U.S. government had the legal authority to enforce certain laws against them. And so it was from that ideology that some of this stems.

We don’t have the full story on this case, but that’s not going to stop me from speculating. Homegrown nutcases? Absolutely? Dangerous? Maybe, but probably just to the local liquor store. Part of a vast, evil terrorist conspiracy? Seems unlikely. “An important step forward in the war on terrorism”? How could anyone say that with a straight face? It seems like most of the administration’s “progress” consists of tangential news like this, while progress in the real “war” consists mainly in violating the civil liberties of Americans who pose no threat, while stirring up Islamic fundamentalist ire with the war in Iraq. And making me take off my shoes every time I walk through an airport.

For more discussion, see Andrew Cohen’s Bench Conference, and especially the comments thereto.