Little-known facts about the flounder

  • flounderxFlounder are a flexible fish, not limiting themselves to a single species. In the Western Atlantic you have your summer flounder (Paralichtys dentatus), your southern flounder (Paralichtys lethostigma) and the winter flounder (Pseudopleuronectes americanus). In addition, there is the European Platichthys flesus, and the Paralichtys olivaceus off Japan.
  • In addition, the flounder is sometimes also called a fluke.
  • But if you say “It was only a fluke,” a flounder will kill your ass.
  • Which is not to say flounders are without a sense of humor. Most flounder jokes start with the phrase, “Peter Falk and Sammy Davis Jr. walk into a bar…”
  • The eye thing: this is called metamorphosis. Like most people, the flounder grows up, changes its habits and spends its adulthood with one cheek to the seabed looking out for stuff. The eye on the seabed side migrates to the other side somehow.
  • They are looking for predators, and prey, and that actress who plays Sookie Stackhouse on True Blood.
  • The flounder is crazy about its offspring. Not even a grizzly would go between a flounder and its young, this is in fact one reason grizzlies are rarely found on the sea bed at any depth, from shallow coastal waters to the Marianas Trench, unlike flounder.
  • The flounder likes its young in a vast variety of ways, and is deeply hurt when its young treat it like a cash dispenser because to be reduced from such a huge variety of affection to a single aspect is painful to the fish, but it recovers quickly and forgets all about it, pretty much.
  • The flounder has, although it still considers basic social dancing competency an important skill, come to the conclusion that it would rather be whipped than take dance lessons. With sort of a medium whip, nothing too wild.
  • Flounder look friendly and harmless, which benefits them because they ambush their prey. Also they blend into their environment, because they can never remember how to spell “camouflague” “camouflage”.
  • Flounder stocks overfishing blah blah blah.


Gamma wants to write an awesome book for kids. It should contain things that are useful and entertaining. One idea we have is “how to win an argument”, which I suppose will contain tips on dismantling the fallacies in an opponent’s argument but also on fighting dirty.

I have already posed this question on my Twitter thing in a Tweet, but wanted to ask again here, since more useful ideas for useful and entertaining things for kids to put in the book would be helpful:

  • what did you learn as a kid (not in school) that was extremely helpful to you?
  • What did you learn later that would ahve been extremely helpful had you learned it as a kid?
  • What have you still not learned that you wish you had?
  • What misconception that you had as a kid was it really helpful to have cleared up?

Helpful in any sense of the word.

Posting answers here constitutes permission to use them as inspiration for said theoretical book.

Never look in the mirror

I looked in the mirror and saw a red spot on my belly. Shaped like a sanitary napkin about 10 inches long. A few days later it was redder, and bigger, so I went to the dermatologist. She found a small ulcer in my eye and prescribed antibiotics for the belly spot, which was then over a foot long and due to Lyme disease, she diagnosed. Now I have an appointment with my eye doctor and am taking antibiotics with all the side effects such as funny looks from the person at the pharmacy (dermatologists in Austria do skin and STDs, is it like that in other countries?) dizziness (discovered while balancing on the top rung of a 14′ ladder with a shopping bag with 10lbs of prunes in my left hand (as I was telling David Lynch), myopia and wacky driving (discovered on the freeway last Sunday, in the rain), increase sensitivity to the sun (got a rainburn at a wedding on the same Sunday), and I don’t know what else. Never look in the mirror, it causes rainburn, and you might fall off a ladder. The spot seems to be fading, which is good. Very happy about that.


Dear guys looking for actual nymphomania, sorry, wrong website.

I went to the dermatologist last night.

You’re not eating, right?

I went to the dermatologist for three things. My masseuse mentioned a…

I went to the dermatologist last night.

What’s this? I said.

What do you think it is? she asked.

I don’t know, that’s why I came to a dermatologist, I said.

What would you guess? she asked.

I would guess… (How do you say ringworm in German?) I would guess a fungus.

She shook her head. Lyme Disease, she said.

Gah, I said.

She prescribed antibiotics. We discussed another rash (on my face). She said the antibiotics might help that too. She said another thing was nothing to worry about.

I googled Lyme disease when I got home. When I told my doctor that I couldn’t remember getting bit by a tick, at least at that spot (later on I remembered a tick somewhere else) my doctor mentioned that tic nymphs are very small and hard to see and just bite you long enough to infect you and drop off.

I googled Lyme disease when I got home. Geeze. Spirochetes!!! Joint damage. Heart damage. Central nervous system. I have a fat prescription for antibiotics, but still.

Lyme disease, man.

Nymphs, man.

Nymphs, schmymphs.

Dear postal workers

You in America: Austria and Australia are two different countries. They’re on different continents, in different hemispheres. Okay? Remember that next time someone tries to send me a package.

You in Austria: At least the Americans didn’t lose my parcels. They may have sent them to the wrong country, but at least they eventually arrived in Austria. They did not vanish until they got here.


So I just finished sanding and repainting the part of our fence along the sidewalk. When I got home last night my wife informed me that all our neighbors are redoing their fences now.


The joke’s on them: next spring we’re painting our house.

Something on the radio this morning about an event to commemorate a picnic on the Austrian/Hungarian border 20 years ago. This is what happened: 20 years ago, they had a picnic. They. A peace thing. And they temporarily took down the fence. And as soon as they did, a zillion East Germans vacationing in Hungary shot across the border into Austria.

One thing led to another, and there I was, in a living room outside Tokyo, holding a baby in my arms and crying as I watched news footage of the Berlin wall coming down. In the memory I am drinking champagne, but I suspect only the people on TV were, and I was wishing I could share it with them.

Maybe I’ll drink some this weekend with the baby, when she and her little sister get back from their trip to the States.

One thing led to another, and there I stood at a urinal in the Moscow airport, and Boris Yeltsin walked in and we took a leak together, a couple urinals apart. Not the linty, grey, puffy, gobsmacked-looking Yeltsin, either, but the tall, silver-haired, handsome, charismatic Yeltsin, on his way to a book-signing or something.

One thing led to another, and there I stood last night at a diplomatic reception, watching gate-crashers getting de-crashed. Potential gate-crashers please listen: they are looking for you. They will throw your ass out if they catch you.

Gate-crashing tips:

  1. Don’t bother. Just get yourself invited.
  2. If you are going to try anyway, render yourself invisible to the anti-gate-crasher people, as follows.
  3. Appearance: Look like everyone else. Don’t overdress, don’t underdress. For a diplomatic reception/garden party, a nice suit with matching shoes and tie is okay. Also haircut and facial hair should not look too feral. Women: nice dress. Not too long, not too short either. One woman was wearing trousers last night. She had an invitation. Note: if you have a genuine invitation, wear whatever you want.
  4. Arrival time: don’t come too early or too late, when the AGC people have lots of time for you. Come a few minutes after the party is scheduled to start, during the crush.
  5. Story: This is key. Both tossees last night messed this part up. Actually, they messed everything up, which is where I got this list. Don’t change your story. Don’t claim to be from an obviously non-existent organization. Don’t claim to be from somewhere famous, either, where the AGC people know all the invitees. Claim to be from somewhere obscure, but known, where there is a good chance of someone inviting someone at the last minute or something.
  6. If you can’t make your own realistic-looking invitation to present at the door, make at least a realistic-looking business card from your “organization” to lend credence to your story. And have genuine ID matching the name on the business card, which will therefore be your own name. In case they ask for it.
  7. Don’t insist on getting in. This just draws attention to you. Be all apologetic for forgetting your invitation, while sort of implying that there will be hell to pay but, sure, fine, you understand their position, but they’ll hear about it, later, maybe, sure, you’re going if that’s what they want. And then leave.
  8. Because if you sneak in anyway, law enforcement officers will escort you out and that’s embarrassing, even if they are discrete about it.
  9. This is all theoretical, based on mistakes I saw made last night. I haven’t tried crashing a party like this yet. I imagine it’s basically impossible where they have an actual guest list and you’re not on it.

About fish

What are you listening to?

This piece I’m composing.

What kind of piece?

String quartet.

Can I listen?

Sure, here.

(the piece is 2.45 long currently. the guy starts getting antsy around 2.00, gives up at 2.30) Okay. What’s the, um, theme?


Fish? It didn’t sound like fish.

It’s about fish. Grunion.


They’re special fish. Once a year during the same full moon each year they swim onto the same beach and mate and… (sees the guy has lost interest) … and so on.




They’re special fish.

Okay. You ever post compositions to MySpace or something so people can comment about them?


Useful feedback.

Grunion. Remember that.