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April 30, 2007


I like riding my bicycle to work. By the time I arrive at the office, my body is flooded with my three favorite substances: adrenaline, endorphins, and self-righteousness.

Tricks of the Trade

For those of you wondering why Tricks of the Trade was AWOL for much of last year, here's the story in a nutshell.

When the original Tricks of the Trade article ran in August of 2004, I was immediately contacted by an editor from a well-known publisher, wanting to know if I had enough tricks to fill a book. Not even close, I told him. My original call for tricks had netted about 100 responses, from which had culled the 30 best. That left me with only 70 more, most of which were too specific, not specific enough, redundant, or otherwise unusable.

"Well," he said, "do you think you could get more? Because I think this would make a great book." I said I would try.

So the following week I started tradetricks.org. By my reckoning, doling out tricks on a regular basis would slowly build up a following, while making it easy to submit tricks would increase my accumulated store of tips.

Both of these prediction proved to be more-or-less true. By spring of 2005, I had amassed a couple hundred tricks--not nearly enough for a book, and sufficient to serve as proof of concept. I spent a week or two writing a book proposal and sent it to the editor. His response, while more subdued that his original zeal, was still positive and enthusiastic. He said that they were having a planning meeting later that week, and he would see about getting the book onto the 2007 slate.

Anyway, long story short. We corresponded for a few weeks thereafter, and at no point did I receive any indication that he was losing interest in the project. Then, one day, and every day thereafter, all my emails to him apparently disappeared into the ether. No responses from the guy whatsoever. No bounces, either, so presumably he hadn't been 86'ed or anything.

I keep the site going because ... well, because why not? It's pretty easy to maintain and people like it.

A year later I get another email from another editor at another fairly large publishing house. I tell her the above story, and she says, what hey? No one is currently looking at your proposal? Send it over! I do so, warning her that it's the first proposal I have ever written and therefore probably subpar; she replies with "no, this is perfect, and I totally want to take this to the next level." (Most of this is paraphrase, but she honestly said "take it to the next level." In 2006.)

So this goes on for a few weeks, and eventually she and I wind up on the phone together. And I say, "well, all this sounds great, but, you know, I'm kind of wary. Because the last editor just stopped returning my emails."

To which she chuckles knowingly and says, "well, I can assure you that's not going to happen here!"

So: any guesses as to what subsequently "happened here"?

Maybe this is just how editors at big publishing houses routinely end communications of all kinds: one minute you are chatting amicably with them around a water cooler, the next they dash off in mid-sentence and hide in a broom closet so you can no longer speak to them. At any rate, the experience(s) soured me on the whole Tricks of the Trade thing, as well as publishers, editors, books, words, and literacy.

Why, then, did I restart the site last month? Mostly because I got a surprising amount of email from people saying it was missed. Also, the tricks continue to flow in even while the site was inactive, and I had to do something with 'em.

A few notes. The old tricks have been removed, but will presumably resurface in this chimeric "book," assuming that ever happens. Some people asked for a full XML feed; I implemented that suggestion this morning. And the submit form is currently off-line--I hope to give this place a modest facelift in the coming weeks, and will re-add it then. (In the meantime, you can send tricks to submit@tradetricks.org if you are so inclined.)

And I still have this book proposal, sitting on the thumb drive in front of me. If you interested in it, and have an attention span of four weeks or greater, feel free to drop me a line.

April 25, 2007


Fun Fact: both have roughly the same chance of getting elected president.

[ link | Humor]

Seattle Follies

Last Friday I got email from my friend Phyllis Fletcher:

To: Matthew
From: Phyllis
Subject: Help--need jokes!!

I will represent KUOW at Town Hall's Seattle Follies, Thu April 26, 7:30PM. Send me some jokes!


* * *

To: Phyllis
From: Matthew
Subject: Re: Help--need jokes!!

How many Seattlites does it take to replace a light bulb?

One to propose replacing it with a traditional light bulb, one to propose replacing it with a energy-efficient fluorescent bulb, one to propose replacing it with a single candle in protest of the Iraq war, and 100,000 to vote on a non-binding referendum.


* * *

To: Matthew
From: Phyllis
Subject: Re: Help--need jokes!!

Hahaha. But I will be delivering a fake newscast, so what I really need are jokey/satirical news items.


* * *

To: Phyllis
From: Matthew
Subject: Re: Help--need jokes!!

The Seattle City Council voted unanimously today to reappropriate the $4 billion currently earmarked for the 520 floating bridge replacement project. The funds will now be given to the research department of Blue Origin, to be used for the development of jetpacks and hoverboards. Richard Conlin, chairman of the council's state Route 520 committee, defended the decision, pointing out that the creation of such alternative commuter technology for crossing Lake Washington would likely require less time and prove more feasible than finding a 520 plan everyone can agree on.

Meanwhile, the Seattle chapter of NORML unveiled another 520 replacement proposal last Friday at the Hempfest benefit concert: the 420 floating bridge. The six-lane "high-way" would have a speed limit of 7 miles an hour and just kind of meander around aimlessly, without any real direction.


In a recent memo to employees, CEO Howard Schultz said that Starbucks had "lost its soul". Schultz last remembers having the soul while visiting one of the Seattle-area coffeeshops, but is unable to recall which one; Starbucks personnel are currently searching the 850,000 downtown Starbucks outlets, an operation they expect to conclude by 2019. In the meantime, Starbucks patrons are asked to be on the lookout for nutty and aromatic soul with overtones of cocoa and a pleasingly complex aftertaste.


After weeks of searching, The Bush Administration has finally found a candidate for the newly created position of War Czar. General Alexander Mullen accepted the offer earlier this morning, and immediately performed his one and only duty: accepted full responsibility for the bungled efforts in Iraq and offered his resignation. To the surprise of Rove, Cheney, and the others who had engineered the plan, Bush unexpectedly rejected Mullen's resignation, and vowed to resist all calls to let the General go. "The Mullman has been doing a heck of a job in his three hours of Czaring," the president said at an early afternoon press conference, "he's a good American, and I stand by him." Mullen--who was hastily given a cubicle, desk, and computer--is expected to play minesweeper until the troop pullout begins in January of 2009.


Update: I just sent this as well:
Scott McClellan announced yesterday that he is writing a memoir, to be published next spring. In the book--which covers the former press secretary's childhood, entry into politics, and prominent position in the Bush Administration--McClellan will insist that he already addressed these topics in earlier statements, refuse to answer hypotheticals, and reiterate his longstanding policy of not commenting on his life while it is currently in progress.
Can't really take credit for that one, pretty much wrote itself.

April 23, 2007

In The Weeds

Totally swamped this week; don't expect many posts.

[ link | dy]

April 19, 2007


The Queen: Do you want to watch America's Next Top Model with me.

Me: Ah, no. I did that once in my lifetime, so I'm good, thanks.

The Queen: Oh, come on.

Me: Sorry, but I just don't understand the appeal of a bunch of stupid people prancing around like idiots and blurting out whatever damned-fool thing flitters through their heads.

The Queen: ... says the guy who reads political blogs.

April 18, 2007

The Adventure of the Missing Stocking

The writers of the hit TV series LOST (with my, um, help) take time out their busy schedule to write a a new Sherlock Holmes mystery.

April 17, 2007

U.S. Capitols Cities, Had All States Followed North Dakota's Example and Named Them After Types of Donuts

Cruller, Alabama
Jelly-Filled, Alaska
Bavarian, Arizona
Apple Fritter, Arkansas
Brown Bobby, California
Sugar, Colorado
Nut Top, Connecticut
Old Fashioned, Delaware
Cheese Danish, Florida
Hush Puppy, Georgia
Malasada, Hawaii
Eclair, Idaho
Frosted, Illinois
Timbits, Indiana
Golden Puff, Iowa
Koeksuster, Kansas
Yum-Yum, Kentucky
Beignet, Louisiana
Buttermilk, Maine
Krafne, Maryland
Boston Cream, Massachusetts
Lassie Loop, Michigan
Cinnamon Twist, Minnesota
Crumb, Mississippi
Maple Bar, Missouri
Bear Claw, Montana
Beaver Tail, Nebraska
Cake, Nevada
Blueberry Crisp, New Hampshire
Berliner, New Jersey
Churro, New Mexico
Devils Food, New York
Zeppole, North Carolina
Raised, Ohio
Elephant Ear, Oklahoma
Pretzel-Shaped, Oregon
Fastnacht, Pennsylvania
Chocolate Log, Rhode Island
Custard, South Carolina
Powdered, South Dakota
Creme Horn, Tennessee
Texan-Style, Texas
Olicook, Utah
Rainbow Sprinkle, Vermont
Paczki, Virginia
Frying Saucers, Washington
Glazed, West Virginia
Pershing, Wisconsin
Hole, Wyoming

April 16, 2007


My Aunt V., creator of the word "Rovenge," has come up with another neologism:

e-social: A subset of asocial, where someone is so distracted by electronic devices that he ignores the people around him.

Inspired by watching a high-end SUV pass us one night with both flip down DVD players on for the back seat. I felt sorry for the kids, who will grow up never knowing how to fight with a siblings in the back seat.

If the e-social person is focusing exclusively on his phone, I would also suggest the term "cell-centered."

Purgegate Primer: Supplimental Reading

Alberto Gonzales testifies before Congress tomorrow. Oh my goodness, I'm giddy as a schoolgirl. That crescendo of rumbling you hear is a train wreck a-comin'.

If you'd like to get up to speed before the spectacle, I would refer you to my The Purgegate Primer.

The latest twist in the tale, revealed after I wrote my cheatsheet, is that the Justice Department has been stacked with graduates from the "tier-four" (i.e., "pisspoor") legal school founded by religious-right zealot Pat Robertson. Read all about it here, or have it explained to you by Bill Maher there (video). Expect Gonzales to field a few questions about that.

Also, a group of longtime conservatives called for his resignation earlier today. (That is, they made their request earlier today--they are not requesting that he travel back in time and resign four hours ago.)

Spider-Man 3 will hafta be pretty goddamned good to beat this.

April 13, 2007


Of course, the best thing about getting a scanner:

Atheist President


[ link | Humor]

April 12, 2007

I Got A Scanner!

Further cementing my reputation as a "tardy-adopter," today I bought a scanner, only a single decade after they became mandatory for any self-respecting geek.

First picture scanned:

Dad and I

My father and I, October, 1971.

Not only is Pa Baldwin an all-around great guy, but he's also a regular reader of this site. Hi dad!

Update: "Don't you have a similar picture of you and the Squiggle? I think a side-by-side comparison would be nice here."


Extrapolations: every generation of Baldwin will have shorter hair, a higher BMI, and more ridiculous headgear.

April 11, 2007

Egged On

The vending machine at my work contains Hershey's Ultimate Soft-Baked Cookies.

From a marketing standpoint, I guess the name "Soft-Baked Cookies" is catchier than "Undercooked Pastries." Though not as clever as "Salmo-Nilla Wafers."


Apparently defective yeti was name-checked in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer today.

My Seattle-related posts are available here. This is a good one. I like this one too.

[ link | dy]

April 09, 2007

Job Titles You Could Put in the "Occupation" Field of Your Tax Return to Exact Some Small Measure of Revenge on a Random IRS Employee by Getting an Irritating Song Stuck in His or Her Head

Paperback Writer
Cradle of Love Rocker
Country Boy (thank god!)
Business Caretaker
Smooth Operator
Smooth Criminal
Move Buster
Mr. Tally Man
Pack Leader
Careless Whisperer
Boy of Summer
Tiny Dancer
Tambourine Man
Yellow Submariner
Banjo Dueler
Right To Party Advocate
Lover (part-time)
Kung Fu Fighter
Guy who wrote the jingle for the "Kit-Kat" commericals
Dancing Queen
Port Commissioner of Funkytown
Sexual Healer
Eggman / Walrus

[ link | Lists]

April 06, 2007

Lowest Form of Humor

Q: What does a copy editor do when she's not feeling well?

A: Calls inn [sic].

[ link | Humor]

April 05, 2007

Encounter at the Intersection of Maudlin and Geek

Squiggle and I are strolling through a park, and I am singing Daisy Bell to him. As I near the end of the song, we approach a middle-aged woman, who is walking briskly in the opposite direction. She suddenly stops dead in her tracks and stares, dumbfounded, as I belt out the last few words.

Woman: Were ... were you just singing "Bicycle Built For Two?"

Me: Yes.

Woman: Oh my God. My name is Daisy. My great-grandmother used to sing that song to me when I was a little girl, and I don't think I've heard anyone else sing it in, like, forty years! How do you know the words? Did someone sing it to you when you were a child?

Me: Ahhhh, no. It's the song HAL 9000 sings as he dies.

April 04, 2007

A Modest Proposal

Internet Access Captchas

Note: If the proposal is accepted, this will likely be my last post.


Jon of Ransom Note Typography conducted a rather lengthy interview with me. It is available here.

My friend The Other Matthew also talked to me for a class project. That interview can be found here. I did not actually verify that the perl code would compile before I sent it; if you discover that it does not, I don't want to hear about it.

April 03, 2007

Passé Pix


Received: Mon, 2 Apr 2007 03:55:41 +0100
To: matthew@defectiveyeti.com
From: sexspfr@mst-nets.ch
Subject: Britney spears pussy pix!!
Man, I kind of feel sorry for this guy. It must be like trying to sell rotary phones.

[ link | Spam]

April 02, 2007

The Purgegate Primer

The Purgegate Primer, providing a synopsis of the U.S. Attorney scandal, is online at The Morning News. Thanks to everyone who provided questions.