Puttin' Out the Bone

Being Wired Yields Net Improvement

I was slightly slow embracing the workplace computer, maybe one step behind some other teachers I saw cranking out tests with word processing programs or keeping grades on rudimentary databases. But sometime in the early 1980s I bought a Kapro II and dragged that portable-sewing-machine-sized desktop from home to school and back daily. It took a few more months to switch from writing on paper to composing at the keyboard. Once done, the world changed.

Today I don't seem to go for 15 minutes without writing something on my laptop or looking something up in WiFi locations. But only God knows if I've evolved as a person or slipped to a state She will punish when I'm "up there" without Google.

Look, last week when former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay did his perp walk and got printed, I saw that mug shot on television where he's wearing that crap-eating grin. I wanted to get a lingering look, to enjoy the moment when DeLay's obvious strategy — to avoid a sullen pose that would appear in commercials against his party — backfired. I knew in a second that the photo would be mocked coast to coast for days.

But what scared me is what I did next.

I actually sat at my laptop and theorized that there must be a Web site called something like www.mugshots.com. I popped it in and — damn! There it was. Better, it showed DeLay with more traditional punks, but they all wore the usual "screw-you" looks. But seeing his toothy smile next to the others made me wonder what his first day of jail would be like.

"Hi, I'm Tom DeLay. Would you please pass the soap?"

"Yeah, sure. Bend over."

The fact is the Internet is stunningly intuitive and utilitarian for humankind's every need. Check out www.firsttwins.com. Some guy who doesn't seem to know or care much about politics collects and posts photos of Jenna and Barb Bush. They're hilarious, with the best being one on the campaign trail last fall where it looks to me like Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is sucking face with Jenna at a rally. There's no tongue in the frame, but you're left wondering.

Or if you're now eating organic, as my first wife, Bonnie, is making me do, you need to start your day at www.organicfoods.co.uk to get the logic of eating things not coated in six layers of chemicals. I like their "10 Reasons to Eat Organic," in which common sense is stressed. Like common sense tells me that two cheeseburgers a day isn't friendly to my colon.

No, wait a minute. Maybe you need to start with www.realclearpolitics.com each morning. They pull together the day's best articles, columns and magazine pieces that summarize the facts and drama of political battle. If you hope to win an argument with some smart people before dinner, you'd better hit this site.

Maybe I'm not so sure. If you worship at the altar of what's-happening-now, you'd better be blogging. If you're blogging liberal like you should, then get your ass onto www.dailykos.com. Markos Zuniga has the most visited liberal political blog, and he'll actually give you your daily talking points.

But keep your political mind as diverse as your stock portfolio. Go regularly to the Republican National Committee's site. It's www.rnc.org. Click the "Action Center" button. They'll give you the exact wording for an e-mail box. You paste in their verbiage and join the official Republican Noise Machine by sending their letters to CityBeat. They have another button that takes you to arguments and phone numbers for national radio talk shows. In minutes you can become an official Republican tool.

Maybe it's just me, but I have trouble seeing the sun go down without worrying about some conspiracy dooming us. So I go to www.turnleft.com every day and fill in the boxes they provide to create and print out my own conspiracy theory. You type in things like country, historical event, type of violence and some names and you get proof that you can show your friends. I now get listened to.

I learned on the Internet that, if I had a diesel car, I could convert it to run on used cooking oil for about $800. Go to the www.greasecar.com and get some gear that makes your weekly trip to McDonald's sound like this, "Welcome to McDonald's. May I have your order please?"

"Yes, this is Jene Galvin. I'd like a Big Mac, small fries, a small orange, a chocolate sundae and my usual vat of used cooking oil."

"That's a Mac, fries, sundae, orange, and do you have your large plastic garbage can with you, Mr. Galvin?

"Yes, I do."

"Great. Your total is on the screen. Pull up to the next window for your food, and bring your can in the side door."

You also need to visit the Democrats daily. I like www.housedemocrats.gov. They have a game there called "Crony or Phony." You read resumes of Bush appointees and guess which is incompetent because he or she lucked up to a job or suck at it all by themselves.

Make sure there's nothing new happening on the rapture front that you don't know about. I use www.raptureready.com to stay current. I hate Fox News, but I feel the need to be able to tell people why. So I'm a regular visitor to www.newshounds.us, where they watch Fox constantly and tell how biased they are. That always puts me in the mood for www.cafepress.com for some anti-Bush gear. I'm getting the T-shirt that says, "Four Moron Years."

Then my morning is tight and I can get ready for the rest of my day: eight hours straight on www.myspace.com. My profile says my favorite television shows are Saved By the Bell: The New Class, Next and Laguna Beach. (I'm on Team Kristen.) I'm not crazy about the pic I'm using, so I'm taking my laptop the next time Tracey Bender cuts my hair to show her www.mullet.com. She'll help me get a new look.

Dude, c'mon. The surf's up.

PUTTIN' OUT THE BONE appears monthly.

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