By Mark E. Phair

Serious Pieces

The Dawn of Time

Listen and understand, my children. Ask no questions, for this is the truth and there are therefore no questions to be had. Know these words as you know the feel of your own skins and the taste of your own mouths - exist with them as eternal truths.

The world around us has a beginning and an end, as all things must. Before the world was nothing, and when the world's time has come to an end there will be nothing once again. This nothing is not like the nothing you know. This nothing cannot be named or even thought of, my sons and daughters, because it is the True Nothing. When you look in a bowl that is empty, what do you see? Yes, you see nothing. But you know that nothing is there, so it is not the True Nothing; if it were, you would not be able to see that it was there.

The Monk (rough)

A young monk was distraught.

"Why are you so upset, my son?" the master inquired.

"Because I have not yet reached enlightenment," was the reply.

"Do not fret. There are others who have it worse than you - there are those who have not even begun upon The Path."

The upset monk considered this, and was upset no more.

It so happened that there lived near the monestary a man who hated the monks; he thought that they wasted away their lives with a pointless quest. His rage finally drove him insane, and he decided to take revenge on the brothers. One night, he slipped into the compound and kidnapped a monk -- who happened to be the so recently distraught monk. The man stole him away and returned with him to his own home, where he bound him to a chair.

"Monk," he said, "I hate you because you have nothing, but are happy."

"I am happy because no matter how bad my life seems there are always those who are less fortunate than I, and I therefore have no right to sorrow," replied the monk.

The man considered this, and left. A few hours later, he returned. "I have killed your family. Every one of them died a slow and painful death," he told the monk triumphantly. "How happy are you now?"

"Their suffering has ended, and I still have the memory of them. I am still much better off than one orphaned at birth - for he never knew a family that loved him."

The man considered this, left the room, and returned with a large knife. He began to cut the monk, never deeply enough to cause permanent injury, but enough to leave a sharp, lingering pain. "You are in pain, now, monk. How happy are you now?"

"I am in pain, but I can still focus on my goal in life. I am better off than he who has no goal to cling to, so what right to sorrow do I have?"

The man burned with rage and cried, "Monk, I have no patience for this!" He began to raise his knife high into the air, ready to kill the object of his hatred, but then he paused saying, "Have you yet reached enlightenment, monk?"

The monk replied truthfully that he had not.

"Then now, I am going to take from you your only goal - I am going to kill you before you reach enlightenment. How happy are you now, monk?"

The monk for a moment looked distraught and considered what the man had said. Then, suddenly, a look of peace crossed his face. He said, "there are those worse off than I."

The man screamed at him, "I have taken from you your family, your health and your dreams, and, soon, I will take your life. Name the man that is worse off than you!"

The monk replied softly, "The man who is about to kill the only person who pities him."

Humorous Pieces

"Press Relases"

Cat Comes Upon Startling Realization

Anytown USA - A cat by the name of Mr. Fluffy (Jones) came to an amazing realization last Thursday while laying in the sun coming through an open window. Mr. Fluffy, a two-year old tabby, said that the thought struck while he was thinking about how little responsibility he had that day.

"I was just sitting there, licking my paws, when BAM! it hits."

The cat, who still has all nine of his lives left, says that he will live his life in an entirely different way after this intrapersonal experience. When asked to describe the realization, Mr. Fluffy had the following to say, "Well, I just came to the conclusion that this was the rest day of the first of my lives."

Canibal Strike Thwarted on Drandier

Drandier, South Pacific - On the remote island of Drandier in the south pacific, a canabalistic "giant" has been terrorizing the locals. The giant himself is just under eight feet tall, and apparently has quite a hankering for human flesh. Recently, in a botched bid for control of the small island nation of less than 10,000 people, the giant was thwarted by the local Gelusion tribe, many of whose members were killed in the giant's latest round of feastings. Said the chief of the tribe, "One or few people from other tribes here and there, that's alright. We all have to eat, right? But when he wanted more, we had to stop him - especially when he wanted to take over the island and leadership of this tribe. When a giant starts having Gelusions of Drandier, you've got to stop him."

Financial Reports from Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley - Mr. James Schmidt, a representative of the Semiconductor Manufacturers, an industry group, was comparing the relative financial situations of various subgroups of the industry. 100+ MOhm Resistor manufactures reported a huge drop, the short wire makers said that changes were negligable, and the op-amp makers reported amazing gains.

The Mudd Student and the Pitzer Student

A Pizter student and a Mudd student were out shopping at a swapmeet. The Pitzer student suggests that they purchase some pot for a party that evening. The Mudder, being a rather sheltered engineer, had never even thought that you could get pot at the swapmeet, and asks for advice. The Pizter student, much more experienced at this kind of thing, and gladly lends adivce.

"You see that guy over there? He looks like he might have some. Go up to him, and ask, 'you got any on you?' if he does, he will know what you mean. Above all else, try to be discreet about it."

The Mudder nods, and heads over to the guy. He then starts violently jumping up and down, throwing his hands in the air, and screaming "HEY, YOU GOT ANY ON YOU?!?!?!?!" The guy looks around, and then runs off.

The Pitzer student grabs the Mudder, and pulls him out of view. "What the hell were you thinking?" he asks. "I told you to be discreet!"

The Mudder replies, "Sorry... I must have sampled below the nyquist rate!"

Last updated: 03/07/2003. All content copyright Mark E. Phair, 2003.