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Lies my mother never got to hear

Me and Jack Benny

Some of my readers may never have had the pleasure of hearing Jack Benny on the radio, or having seen him on television. For such, let me only say that he was a comedian whom some, myself included, found funny. He had a number of running gags. One of these was his legendary cheapness. He was a master at expressing the exquisite pain of parting with money.

I am, ahem, cheap.

Another of his running gags was his insistence, past all reason, that his next birthday (much like his last) would be his thirty-ninth. There is some sense to this. Society places a premium on youth. Many people feel that to be forty or more is to become one of the walking dead – your real life is over, but you’re still moving about and occupying space. Personally, I don’t feel that one is a real, functioning adult until one is at least forty, but mine is a minority view.

When the years accumulate we, most of us anyway, cheat a bit, pretending in little ways that time has not affected us, that we are still the self that we used to be. Thus we have the moisturizing creams, mud packs, botox, face lifts, et cetera, to remove wrinkles and to attempt to recreate the appearance of youthful skin. These efforts, when successful, often are not entirely satisfactory. That is, the smoothness produced is not that of youth but rather a recognizably artificial smoothness.

Similarly, for men, there is the hair on one’s head, or, more precisely, the lack of hair on the top of one’s head. Some men, having sold their souls to the devil, carry a full head of hair into their senior years. The rest of us have to make do. For those who wish to concede no skin to an advancing forehead there are various choices. There are hair pieces; given what they often look like, hare pieces might be a better term. There is rogaine for those who want to look like a chia pet. We probably shouldn’t talk about hair transplants – who wants to advertise where the hair on the top of their head came from. Speaking for those of us who elected to go bald gracefully, there is something peculiarly handsome about the semi-nude skull. Hair on the top of your head is so declasse.

Then there is the little matter of graying hair. With rare exceptions we all turn gray given sufficient years. That is, of course, our hair becomes gray – if we have any. Some gray early, even in their twenties. Others, more fortunate, wait until their fifties, sixties, or even seventies before gray becomes the hair color du jour. Still, early or late, there comes a time when one looks in the mirror and admits to one’s self what everyone else has noticed all along.

To a person of character this is a nothing – a person of character accepts one appointed place in time and in life, and, with that acceptance, accepts the evidences of the passage of time. Fortunately I am not a person of character.

The glory of the capitalist system is that whenever there is a desire or a need there is someone who endeavours to satisfy that desire or need. Chemists who might otherwise be finding a cure for cancer or the common cold are employed (quite gainfully, I might add) to devise dyes that transform gray hair into colored hair that looks almost natural in color. Indeed, given the number of people who dye their hair, it is undyed hair that looks unnatural.

What are you saying here, Richard?

What I am saying here is that I have joined the ranks of those who dye their hair. I have no shame in this matter. I have been brown and I have been gray. Believe me, brown is better.

As my readers may have guessed, the story does not end there. Speaking only for myself, I don’t care what age the calendar says I am. However milady is strongly of the view that she would prefer it if I had a few less calendar years. My mother is not available for rescheduling the date of my birth. Even if she were available I doubt that she would be reasonable upon the subject, so I will just have to do with makeshift devices.

I hereby notify the world that my next birthday will be my 59th, as will the one after that, and the one after that, and so on, until further notice. Move over, Jack Benny.

Trash from the past

Recently I have been digging through the google archives of usenet for articles that I have written in the past that I might recycle as web site material. Since this site is, among other things, an archive of my immortal thoughts, it is only right that said articles should migrate from the dusty back room of google’s archives to a glorious presence in Richard Harter’s world. Snicker. You have been warned.


It seems that this site has become overly popular. Earthlink, the current owner of the tiac.net name, is generous with the amount of web site space that one gets (80 mb, split up into 8 ten meg pieces.) Likewise they are generous with the amount of traffic they will support per piece, namely one gigabyte per calendar month. You might think that that would be more than enough. You would be wrong. I thought so, and I was wrong.

In the month of April through the 28th, my site (cri) had 32,840 visitors, 91,721 page views, 149,904 hits, and 1.05 gigabytes transferred. That is about 1100 visitors a day, and about 5000 hits a day. While it is all very flattering (and rather startling) that so many people visit my site I have to take steps to reduce the number of megabytes transferred. What am doing is moving some of the larger, high traffic pages over to another site, which I call Annex A. The old links still work but they direct you to a new location. If there are any problems, let me know.

This page was last updated May 1, 2003.
It was reformatted and moved May 15, 2006.

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