In the altogether

I learned a valuable lesson today—never leave your house naked. It's an obvious lesson, I know, but I guess I'm just one of those people who can only learn by doing.

I have a good explanation for how I happened to be on my front deck, au naturelle. I was getting in the shower. Before I could get in, the toilet decided to overflow for no apparent reason. I have a theory about toilets—that they like to overflow because normally they don't get the chance to see your face. When they overflow, they get lots of attention and face time, which explains why they do this on a regular basis. At least that's how it seems to work in my world.

I was in a movie once where I said the line, "I'm good with plumbing, I once stopped up a toilet," and I was very convincing in my reading because the only acting that was required was in the word "once."

Anyway, the toilet was overflowing and the only thing I could find to keep the water from running throughout the house was my towel which I sacrificed for this worthy cause.

Now I had a wet towel to dispose of. I found a bucket (in the bath tub, which sometimes doubles as a storage space) and put the towel in it and carried it out to hang over the railing of the front deck where it would either be carried off by wet raccoons or I'd figure out what to do with it later.

I don't even like to look at my naked body in the mirror—I wouldn't consciously inflict it on others. And since I live in an area where no one can see our house from the street I wasn't flashing anyone.

So there I was outside, arranging a very wet towel over the deck railing, when I felt a gust of wind and heard the sickening thud of the front door closing—quiet, but profound. I didn't even try the door—I knew I hadn't unlocked it before I went out. I looked around and realized it was just me and the world with nothing in between.

Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with nakedness. If I had a body like Brad Pitt I would be naked as often as possible—even, as Rosie O'Donnell says, "In the frozen food aisle of the supermarket."

But I am more like something from the frozen food aisle, with a body not unlike the Pillsbury Dough Boy. It was at that moment I realized The Dough Boy's appeared naked for over 30 years, wearing nothing more than a hat and a bandana! If his mere nakedness was not enough, every time he appears he's seen with a different woman poking him in the abs as he giggles. What kind of message is this sending?

And who else could get away with this? Certainly not me. I'm a chubby white guy but if I appeared wearing only a hat and bandana I'd be arrested faster than you could shield your eyes to avoid seeing my crescent rolls.

I snapped out of it when I heard a car coming down the street, and wondered where I could hide if it was the UPS guy, or worse, the Fed Ex gal. I had to get inside. We had a key hidden somewhere—but it was hidden so well I didn't remember where. I recalled something about the back yard and a treasure map with "six paces north, 27 paces east," and something about a "sticky monkey flower bush" (that's its real name). But since I still can't recognize poison oak when I see it, I thought this might be an especially dangerous endeavor.

Just then, the wind picked up and the front door opened. All by itself. I guess it had never been locked in the first place! I lunged towards it before the wind could close it again, and kissed the carpet inside. One more important life lesson under my belt (if I had been wearing one).

Daniel Will-Harris

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Control Your Own View

http://www.iht.com—Here's a site that lets you not only easily choose type sizes, but also how many columns of text—with text that automatically flows from column to column even when you change type sizes). It also has a unique "clippings" feature that lets you bookmark stories within the site. The International Herald Tribune is also a good read for international news—presented in what is surely one of the most innovative and convenient interfaces you'll find on the web.

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New Fusion Component: TextSizer

Want a type sizer similar to iht's? Coolmaps has recently introduced a new component that lets you add the iht.com font-sizing trick. This component makes it easy for you to make it easy for your site visitors to choose their text size. Neat, huh? http://club.coolmaps.com/component_detail.cfm?nfx=98

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Web Browser Tips

KILL POP-UPS: I find pop-up windows extremely intrusive and annoying. And even when they might have some useful information, I close them without reading them. I just found even easier way to close them—no mousing around required. Next time a window pops up and you don't want it, press Control-W. Window closed.

If you want to avoid having pop-up or pop-under windows opening at all, there are many software programs that will do this. Here's one that has a free version, as well as a paid "pro" version with more features: http://www.panicware.com/product_dpps.html

Auto Dot Com: If the URL you want to visit is a www. and .com, in IE you don't have to type either. Just type the domain name, such as "schmoozeletter" then press CONTROL-ENTER and IE will add the www. and .com automatically. It saves a lot of time and keystroke when you get in the habit of using it. (There's no shortcut I know of for dot anything else).

Overcoming Bad Page Backgrounds: If you find a web page's text hard to read because of it's color or background, simply press Control-A . This highlights all the text, which means it reverses its color, hides the background and makes it easier to read. If all else fails, you can turn off the background and enlarge tiny type by using browser's "Accessibility" feature. In IE, choose Tools/Options—Internet Options—then click "Accessibility" and check Ignore Colors, Ignore Font Styles, and Ignore Font sizes. Pages can retain much of their formatting this way, but they can also be easier to read.

More IE Shortcuts: Control-I opens the Favorites window, Control-H opens the History list, Control-E the Search window, Control-F the Find box, and Control-N a new browser window.

If you want to open a new window when you click on a link, simply hold down the shift key when you click and you'll get a new browser window automatically. This can be especially useful when you're viewing long lists of items and don't want to wait for that page to load again when you go back to it—this way it doesn't close, so it doesn't need to reload.

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Fun Retro Fonts

If retro's your thing, you can't do better in the type department than the www.fontdiner.com . Their new Casino Buffet set offers 16 great fonts that cover the gamut of classic Las Vegas style from the 50's and 60's. There's the faux Roman, faux rustic ranch, faux exotic Sahara, twinkling stardust, kitsch 50's sign scripts, and sophisticated script faces. These are fun, unique faces with tons of personality and style from an era you don't see much of in fonts.

You get 16 fonts for $28, really cheap for so much typographic personality! What's more, the site's jukebox design is a perfect example of a site with character! http://www.fontdiner.com

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I'm putting together a book of SchmoozeLetter stories. If you're interested, go here.




Like the stories? Buy the book!

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The SchoomozeLetter is ©1998-2005, Daniel Will-Harris, all rights reserved. If you'd like to use any article on the web or in print, please ask for permission. If you're an agent or publisher looking to publish these pieces, just drop me a note.