Some say life is the thing, but I prefer reading.

--Ruth Rendell


Saturday, December 18, 1999
Lucy and Rick's Survey

Okay, boys and girls... in lieu of a real entry on my part, I'm taking the easy way out and doing another survey. This should be the last one I do until, umm, the next time I come across one. Although I plan to write my own survey as part of my first-anniversary celebration next month, so you may wish to start running for the hills right now. But, anyway, here goes:

What follows is a survey to determine the moral character and ethical fortitude of yourself and your friends. Simply copy the questions into an e-mail, answer them and send them off to your friends, making sure to send a copy to me. [That is, Lucy.] Or, of course, you can put your answers on your own web page and direct my attention there. This survey was concocted by Ms. Lucy Huntzinger of Palo Alto, CA, and Mr. Rick McGinnis of Toronto, ON, through the miracle of e-mail technology.

IS VOTING MANDATORY IN YOUR COUNTRY? IF IT'S NOT, SHOULD IT BE?

No, and no.

I'm open to counter-arguments, but I'd want to know just how one would go about enforcing mandatory voting, what would happen to those who didn't want to vote, and just what the requirement would accomplish.

Forcing people to vote is no solution for voter apathy; it's treating the symptoms instead of the disease.

WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT INVENTION OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY?

Hmmm. The airplane seems like a good choice, and the Thermos bottle would be in character, I suppose, but I think I'm going to go with soft ice cream.

WHAT BOOK INFLUENCED YOU MOST AS AN ADOLESCENT?

This is a tough call. One of the strongest contenders is a book I didn't even like very much, and can't remember the title of... but it stressed the theme of "to thine own self be true," which I clung to at the time (in my teens) with all the tenacity and desperation of a drowning person to a wooden plank.

Oh, and there's the Talmud, of course, but I somehow never quite think of that or other religious texts as being books, per se.

WHAT RELATIONSHIP IN YOUR LIFE DO YOU MOST REGRET, AND WHY?

Hmmm. Well, y'know, even the negative ones have been learning experiences...

YOU HAVE A GUN, ONE BULLET, AND COMPLETE IMMUNITY -- WHO DO YOU KILL?

Nobody. "Complete immunity" doesn't make murder any less wrong. And, barring cases of self-defense, I don't think killing somebody else is ever justified.

Hmmm. Actually, that should be "self-defense, or defending others." With the caveat that, in both instances, I'd confine this to cases where the target is in clear and immediate danger, and that no other life-saving alternative is open. And, even so, I'm not at all certain I'd be able to do it, if faced with such a situation.

In any event, the way I read this question, it doesn't refer to that sort of situation, so my answer remains "nobody."

DOES THE END EVER JUSTIFY THE MEANS?

No, if the means are wrong, then the end doesn't justify them... but it's worth noting that the moral value of most means is ambiguous in the first place.

HENRY KISSINGER OR CHOU EN-LAI?

Ummm... you're talking to an American child of the '80s here. I had to look the latter up, and still don't really have a clue.

MARILYN MONROE OR AUDREY HEPBURN?

Ummm... you're talking to an American child of the '80s here. I don't think I've ever seen a film with either of them.

SINCLAIR OR SHERIDAN?

Who?

Is this a Babylon 5 reference? 'Cause I've never seen it, if so. And if not, I haven't the foggiest idea of what this is about.

NAME YOUR FAVORITE WEBSITE.

Last time I answered this question, I went with Mary Anne's home page, but it's been eleven months, and I suppose a new answer is in order. So I'm gonna go with the Sesame Street Lyrics Archive.

WOULD YOU APPEAR ON THE JERRY SPRINGER SHOW IF YOU WERE INVITED TO?

Would I get paid for doing so? If so, how much? Given a really good financial inducement, yes. Otherwise, not a chance.

WHO WOULD MAKE THE IDEAL MC FOR 'WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE'?

Actually, I think Regis does a pretty good job. Which is not to say that I like the show, but my problem isn't with the host. It's with the overly easy questions.

WHAT WAS THE FIRST RECORD, CASSETTE, OR CD YOU BOUGHT?

Oh, gosh. I can't remember.

My first record purchase was almost certainly made at a thrift shop, or perhaps a garage sale. Or maybe even my high school's annual bazaar, in which case it was a 10-record set of classical music, but I'm pretty sure I'd made other purchases before that. Possibly a Bill Cosby album, or a Broadway cast recording. Perhaps Annie, which I liked to play at 45 RPM.

My first cassette purchases were of Jewish music; again, I don't know which album was the earliest.

My first popular music purchase consisted of my inaugural four selections from BMG Music Service, which were:

  • Bugs Bunny on Broadway
  • Debbie Gibson: Anything is Possible
  • Motown: 16 #1 Hits from the Late '60s
  • Yanni: Reflections of Passion

My first CD purchase was either Electric Youth or Body Mind Soul, by Debbie Gibson. I rescued both from the cutout bin before actually buying a CD player, partly in order to spur me on towards doing so.

MOVIE/TELEVISION CHARACTER YOU FEEL MOST EMPATHY FOR:

Harriet the Spy, in the movie of the same name.

WHOSE CELEBRITY DO YOU FIND MOST BAFFLING?

Nobody comes to mind. I'm not baffled that easily, I fear. Or perhaps I'm just blissfully ignorant of the more baffling celebrities out there.

DO YOU THINK UNUSUAL NAMES ARE COOL AND CREATIVE, OR A SIGN OF DERANGED PARENTS?

It would depend on the name, but, generally, the former.

NAME THE PLACE THAT MOST FASCINATES YOU, IN OR OUT OF THIS WORLD, THAT YOU'LL PROBABLY NEVER VISIT FOR FEAR IT'LL DISAPPOINT YOU:

Disney World.
IF YOU COULD HIRE SOMEBODY TO DO SOMETHING FOR YOU, SOMETHING YOU HATE DOING BUT HAVE TO DO, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Could I hire somebody to take showers for me? I hate showers.

Baths are another story, but, alas, my apartment doesn't have a bathtub.

COMPLETE THIS SENTENCE: "YOU COULD NOT PAY ME ENOUGH TO ..."

...finish this sentence.

(Oops.)

IF YOU HAD TO CHANGE YOUR NAME, WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE IT TO?

Steven. Hey, it worked for Shmuel Spielberg... I'd probably shorten it to Steve, though.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT YOURSELF, PHYSICAL OR OTHERWISE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

I suppose I'd like the ability to be patient with idiots. Where "idiots" is defined as anybody less intelligent than myself. Which, unfortunately, encompasses most of the human race, so it would be nice to manage this.

WHERE/HOW DO YOU WANT TO DIE?

See my ideal ending for this journal.

WHAT VEHICLE -- CAR, PLANE, BOAT, ETC. -- WOULD YOU LIKE TO DRIVE REGULARLY?

Drive myself? Bicycle.

If I can be driven by somebody else, then a train.

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU WERE SO DRUNK YOU GOT SICK?

It's never happened. See, there are advantages to not drinking...

WHICH IS MORE THRILLING, SPEED OR HEIGHT?

Speed. Although I'm not terribly fond of either.

IF YOU COULD MORPH BACK AND FORTH INTO AN ANIMAL FORM, WHAT ANIMAL WOULD YOU BE?

A cat, of course.

IF YOU COULD WALK INTO ANY PAINTING AND EMERGE IN THE WORLD IT PORTRAYS, WHICH PAINTING WOULD YOU CHOOSE?

None. I don't much like travelling.

A TIME MACHINE WILL TAKE YOU ANYWHERE YOU WANT TO GO FOR ONE DAY. WHERE DO YOU GO?

This is the point where I'm supposed to say I'd go back and spend one more day with my maternal grandparents, probably on one of the Sunday visits of my childhood.

But it wouldn't really be true, I fear. If nothing else, we'd only have to part again anyway, and I'd have to spend the whole time explaining how I got to be older than I was at that point in time, and I probably wouldn't be able to get them to believe it, and, even if they did, it would be too freaky. ("Hi, I know I look a year older, but I got this time machine, and you guys are dead at my point in time, so I thought I'd visit so I could get some closure." Uh huh.) So, practically speaking, if I were to interact with anybody else in the past, it'd have to be with somebody who didn't already know me.

Not that interaction would be likely to be a good idea anyway. I confess to being tempted by the possibility of paying a call on Elisha ben Avuyah, AKA Acher (AH-cher, with the "ch" being a gutteral sound), but my Aramaic is nowhere near good enough to sustain a conversation, and English didn't exist in his time.

I suppose I'd have to go with a practical answer, then. I'd go to January 1st, find out the winning numbers in New York Lottery's "Millennium Millions" contest, then come back, win the lottery, and buy all the CDs I want and do everything else alluded to in that "ideal ending" linked to above.

...although I suppose that would be cheating, wouldn't it. Hmmmph. Okay, I guess I couldn't do that, either.

Ultimately, then, I guess about the only viable choice remaining would be to go back to 1992 or so, and buy myself a large supply of KiTov Creme Filled Brownies, a product that has, alas, been discontinued since then.

YOU CAN ONLY WEAR ONE SET OF CLOTHES, WHICH WILL BE MIRACULOUSLY CLEANED AND REPAIRED EVERY MORNING WHEN YOU WAKE UP -- WHAT WILL THEY BE?

Hmmm. Given my druthers, I'd go with blue jeans, a dark blue T-shirt, and white sneakers, but from a practical standpoint, it wouldn't be a good idea, that not being appropriate in a synagogue and all. So... <sigh> I guess I'd have to go with the navy blue suit, white dress shirt, black loafers, and the blue tie I wore for over a decade before it finally fell apart. Boring and confining, but appropriate just about anywhere...

WHAT IS THE PERFECT MEAL?

Pizza. It's the reason food was invented.

SAY ONE NICE THING ABOUT THE PERSON WHO SENT THIS TO YOU:

Well, I swiped it from a Web site, rather than having it sent... but, okay, Lucy Huntzinger is a neat person, and I'm glad I got to meet her a couple of months ago.

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