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The Hanes–Heinz problem

Caught up on May 2, 2021.

I wonder why Firefox is beginning to taste like baked pepperoni.

Near as I could remember—and I can remember near everything—I hadn’t jammed any pepperoni into my computer lately—certainly not this month. All the fan vents, ports, and even the floppy drives were still the gaping holes in the oversized beige case they were supposed to be. The A: drive was a bit crooked, but that was neither here nor there, and the B: drive was not there anymore, but that was also neither here nor there. The C: drive was firmly nestled in its internal bay, quite safe from any pepperonial incursions. And the D: drive was taped shut, ever since that unshoeing accident in 2005.

I clicked around and around my desktop with my clickety device (reputed to be called a “mouse” by some), but alas I could find no pepperoni—anywhere. I checked all my folders and all my partitions. I examined all my pencil holders, cup holders, pencil cups, and holder holders. I then looked in all my drawers and cubby holes, along my arm rests, under my numerous lamps, and even inside all of their lightbulbs. Nothing explained the spicy, meaty aroma emanating from my browser.

Brow furrowed and mystery unsolved, I put it out of my mind. Out of my mind is a good place to put things, and being out of my mind is a place I often find myself being. And I now had other matters to attend to.

[“To which to attend,” you nincompoop. —Ed.]

Shut up, Ed. I furrowed my brow more deeply. I still haven’t learned what set my 275 gallons of lard ablaze last week, and that’s what’s on my mind now. Was it an electrical short caused by rats in the walls, chewing on the wires running to the barrels? Or did one of the rats drop a lit cigarette into a barrel? Was it ball lightning? Was it buttocks lightning? Or was it their revenge because, back in February, I had accidentally firebombed the town propane-filling station after I misread their sign as “propane-flinging station”?

Needless to say, I learned a valuable lesson from last week’s fire: Hanes® makes underwear and Heinz® makes catsup.

This week, I also learned the most effective way to potty-train a goose, but that’s beside the point.

During Tropical Storm Norbert in 2014, while preparing a very large bowl of Chef Boyardee ravioli for my Pnårpy self and singing “Mini Beef Ravioli” by Three Fat Fish as I did so, I had also learned that the old adage “what goes up must come down”—when mini beef ravioli are involved—is only 70–80% true. The remainder enjoy sufficient adhesivity, when a textured plaster ceiling is the counter-party, to not come down at all.

I had therefore learned to conduct future cooking and pan-flipping with less gusto and glee—an especially invaluable lesson when these curiously miniaturized macaroni are being cooked via microwave rather than stovetop.

Fortunately Tropical Storm Norbert blew my roof off, taking the ceiling and every single mini beef raviolo with it.

Back in the present (Friday I think), I pondered writing an angry letter to the owners of the Heinz-Watties factory in Wagga Wagga, Australia. I would propound the idea that they rename their company to something less confusable with the #1 underwear manufacturer in America. I would expound on the many problems the similarity in nomenclature had caused yours truly. Finally I would pound my fist on the table at appropriate points in the litany of words falling upon the page, in order to drive the point home. I wasn’t sure how I would transcribe that last part in written form. Slather fingerpaint on my fist and pound the paper? Video myself committing the act and staple a thumb drive or SD card to the page? Neither option seemed it would properly capture the emphasis in all its obdurate insistency.

But fortunately, the Hanes–Heinz problem solved itself before I even went in search of a blank sheet of paper (or some other paper- or bark-like substance). Or maybe it didn’t solve itself. Another possibility reared its ugly, mealy head: My oatmeal cookies, always one step ahead of me, wrote the letter on my behalf and sent it already. I wasn’t sure what happened, to be frank, since I was too busy scraping dried catsup off my chair and calling the poison control center to find out how badly I would die from eating cotton and Spandex all week. But I knew those perfidious oatmeal cookies had some hand in it.

Furthermore—again, to be frank, since my readers deserve nothing less—now I wanted some Frank’s RedHot sauce instead of catsup.

I spent most of Saturday winnowing my Windows down to a single EXE. That morning, a bout of winly tittering over the silly name of the Heinz-Watties factory in Wagga Wagga, Australia led me to fall from my computering chair (now stripped of all its upholstery, duck tape, and most of its nuts and bolts) and land on the hard hardwood floor below like a Hefty bag full of suet. This comical turn of events led to more comical turns of events, each turn more comical than the last, culminating in a tragicomedy of Shakespearean proportions. When I finally emerged from the crater in my basement to re-seat my beetle-like self in front of my computer—in order to write the overwrought, overripe blog entry you now hold in your hands, dear reader—I realized that there was a multitude of unnecessary EXEs loitering about my PC’s hard disk and its many folders.

So I decided to do something about it.

“Mini beef ra-vi-o-li!” I began, recalling the lyrics with some difficulty. “Mini beef ra-vi-o-li… mini beef ra-vi-o-lii…! Uhh… mini, mini, mini beeeef!!

Then I decided to do something better about it.

I grasped my clickety device firmly and went to work. One thing led to another. Many things led to many other things: Tendrils racing through time, connecting events in the past to events in the future like the surging, sucker-ridden tentacles of a hentai beast in search of discalceated, delicious loli. EXEs were exiled, folders were forced out, and DLLs were dispensed with. (Don’t even start now, Ed.) SYS files, starting with the evil and vile PNARP.SYS, were rounded up and recycled en masse. A moldy folder holding old JPEGs from the 1980s met its maker, along with every GIF, every PIF, every BAT, and every DAT. Nothing was spared save the logorrheic assemblage of XML files that make up this docile & perfunctory blog—and one tiny, compact EXE for me to edit them with. (I mean it, Ed.)

I chuckled and tittered with grim satisfaction as I watched Windows empty its recycle bin. The soft, subtle sounds of directories being pruned and files being obliterated filled the air. Images danced through my mind: Bloated, wasteful files and folders crushed down into little cubes like scrapped automobiles, their bits ready to be reused in service of newer, better data. Vast, clear expanses opened up on my hard disk. Tangles of bramble-like files mowed down by the combine harvester of my relentless drag-and-dropping. The Winnowing of Windows continued and I continued my winsome grinning.

I turned and glared at what remained of my traitorous oatmeal cookies. “Your next,” I intoned balefully.

And now I wonder why my computer tastes like burnt coltan today.

[Feetnote: Phillip Norbert Årp apologizes profusely for his blog being tardy this week. Having fired his editor and having further decided to blog by the seat of his pants, this entry was loosed upon the world without the benefit of copy-editing. Mr. Årp spent the day catatonic and babbling in a hole in the ground upon realizing that “Your next” in the penultimate paragraph should have been “You’re next.” This experience I trust will teach Mr. Årp the value of professional editing in the future. —Ed.]