PATRICK MCVAY

WRITER

My Musings

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Chants Encounter

In the early part of this century, it was not uncommon for the workplace to contain devices that allowed one to apply dry heat to food in order to lightly char the surface. The idea was that this gentle scorching would impart a nutty scent and flavor to one’s meal. Bread, in particular, was considered to undergo a marked enhancement in smell and taste quality when subjected to dry heat.

Then, seemingly out of nowhere, fire officials teamed up with the generally paranoid to make the devices in question, called “toasters” or “toaster ovens,” illegal in the workplace. The idea was that if employees wanted to heat their food, they should make use of the microwave oven (no matter that microwaves apply heat to the inside of food instead of just the outside and probably cause cancer!). In any event, from then on the only toasting allowed in the workplace had to happen in a professionally-managed kitchen.

Recently, a couple of young, hotshot social scientists I happen to know at a prestigious university in Cambridge, Massachusetts (not MIT), conducted a study in which toasters were reintroduced into offices in highly controlled settings with fire extinguishers at the ready. These two fine young scholars have been able to demonstrate that the emotional wellbeing of employees across a broad spectrum of industries improves if they are able to eat toast at work. By this I mean they are able to eat toast whenever they wish, whether it be at traditional hours for toast, like 8 in the morning, or later in the day when a person might be famished and dinner is still a few hours away.

But that’s not all. These future Nobel laureates, whom I have agreed not to name because they don’t want anyone to know that they know me, have been encouraging me (or, frankly, goading me) into demanding a reintroduction of toast into the workplace, via public chant.

With this in mind, I'm planning to lead a chant of "We want toast!  We want toast!" each Monday at noon.  Ideally, people across the globe will put aside their petty differences and/or sleep for a minute to join me in this critically important endeavor.

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Idea for book: "The French Lieutenant's Librarian"

 

One of my kids takes French at the French Library and Cultural Center in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. There are at least two librarians who work there, as far as I can tell, and I was thinking of writing something completely fictional in which these French librarians act as my central characters. Of course, I would also have to invent the character of the French Lieutenant, who lives in the Back Bay and uses the library (Question: Why is a French Lieutenant living in the Back Bay? Is the French army stationed nearby? If so, wouldn’t the US Army feel a little funny about that?)

Now, one of these librarians is put through the paces by the French Lieutenant, who’s constantly demanding that the French Library in Boston get these obscure French books that no one has ever heard of; meanwhile, the second librarian has a dark secret that s/he is keeping from the first, either about obscure French books (example?) or something totally unrelated, like deviant pseudo-sexual behavior. Oh, and one of them is dating the French Lieutenant.

As I think about this, it occurs to me that one of the librarians is male and one female; this means either the female librarian is dating the French Lieutenant, or else the French Lieutenant is, at minimum, bi. Let’s go ahead and say he’s gay; should I go back and reveal, in painful detail, his difficult teen years? (If yes, were his teen years spent in France or in the Back Bay?)

Need to put more work into this proposal before submission.

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Take Back Friction, America!

I believe in the future of friction. People say it’s past its prime, that the future will be friction-free. Sorry, but I doubt that very seriously. I was recently informed by an extremely smart person I encountered in a bus depot that friction isn’t going anywhere, at least not anytime soon. In particular, reports of the demise of rolling friction are way overblown. True, with the advent of personal aircraft, wheels may one day comprise a smaller share of the market than they currently do, but my associates confirmed what this guy was telling me: the vehicle of the future ultimately will be able to move on air, sea, and even land, resulting in continued rolling friction across a wide swathe of the country.

Let’s take advantage now America! Let’s take rolling friction back from the Chinese and do something with it before the Brazilians discover it!  

What about sliding friction?  That has a very bright future!  Sliding friction is expected to increase dramatically in the coming years, especially in northern climes, as the earth heats up and more people find themselves skiing on grass.

 

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A Battle Pitting the Halves v. the Have-Knots

I don’t usually like to talk politics during your breakfast, which, I assume, is when you’re reading this, but I feel like it’s time I weigh in on one of the critical political contests going on. I recently learned of the heated presidential race pitting – let’s see if I’ve got this right – Hussein Osama, the apparent incumbent (sorry I’ve been out of loop in recent years – when the hell did George "Dubya" Herbert Walker Bush leave?!), against former National League baseball great and governor of both Massachusetts and Detoit, George “Mitt” Romney. As usual, the campaigns have been hijacked by political strategists and operatives who are either threatening to “put America to work” (What is this, North Korea? Do your own damned work!), or are out to divide the country into two groups, with extremely short people on one side, and those who know how to tie a half hitch, at minimum, on the other (sorry bows don’t qualify).

And they wonder why people are sick of politics!

 

 

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