Saturday, April 03, 2004

Report: Day 31 

Nauru is the world's smallest independent republic with a total area of 21 square kilometers which is about 0.1 times the area of the city of Washington D.C. Nauru is an island composed almost entirely of bird poop which meant that it was very rich in phosphates, however the phosphate mines have been almost entirely exhausted which is threatening to leave the island destitute. Additionally, it is entirely conceivable that in the very near future, Nauru will cease to exist as the area of the island is being consumed by sea, which is rising a few inches per year in response to the melting polar ice caps.

Now, my Benrick assignment is to write a postcard to the President of Nauru, who Benrick sites as "Bernard Dowiyogi." I am supposed to advise Dowiyogi that even though his nation is often overlooked, I am remembering Nauru today! However, my research indicates that Bernard Dowiyogi has never been president of Nauru, while a Bernard Dowiyogo, who looks suspiciously like the photograph in Benrick, was President intermittently from 1976 to 2003. Dowiyogo died in office in October 2003 and to give you an idea about how contentious politics are on Nauru, there have been three presidents since. It will do me no good to write to a former head of state who is dead, so I have altered the task slightly to account for current events.

I transcribe for you here a copy of the letter I posted this morning to the current President of Nauru, Rene Harris.

President Rene Harris
C/O Ministry of Works
Yaren District

April 2, 2004

Dear Mr. President,

Hello, and greetings from the United States of America! I am writing you today in an expression of friendship and support. I note from recent news items that Nauru is facing tough economic times and that's something I know a little bit about as I have been a victim of the Hateful Bush Economy TM in my own country. I hope you get everything straightened out without having to cede any administrative control to Australia. I am rooting for you and I am rooting for Nauru!

It was my hope to include in my letter a sentence or two in Nauruan. You know, out of respect for global diversity and all. But I have been unable to locate any aids in translation between English and Nauruan. I suspect, given the fact that Nauruan is a language distinct to the smallest independent republic in the world, that there is simply very little demand for translation services. Yet, here in America we have something called the World Wide Web which has a great number of resources like Babelfish which (admittedly gracelessly) translates small portions of text back and forth between various languages. You know, like between French and German, or English and Japanese, or Swedish and Italian. Like that.

Now, I knew I wouldn't be able to just walk down to the local community college and be all "doo doo doo. Please enroll me in Nauruan 101 and show me the way to the bookstore so I can get an English/Nauruan dictionary!" But still I thought it would be easier than it is. So, maybe, as president of Nauru you could sponsor some kind of "Get Nauruan on Babelfish!" campaign. You could raise money and awareness through bake sales and whatnot. Just something to think about if you have the world wide web in Nauru. I don't know how world wide it actually is.

In the mean time will you please tell me the Nauruan word for "midget?" I know you're busy trying to keep your country's economy afloat, so just when ever you get a chance. Or maybe you could have an aide do it. I wouldn't mind if it gets delegated. The best leaders know how to delegate, at least that's what they say. I've never led my own nation, though some day if I work very hard I might be able to. Keep your fingers crossed for my eventual rise to power.

Anyway, I'd better scoot. Write me back.

Thinking Happy Thoughts About Nauru,
Brian Blaho

Tonight I will attempt to control my dreams.

Friday, April 02, 2004

Report: Day 30 

Today is Nauru Awareness Day.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Report: Day 29 

Yesterday I was supposed to dial a phone number at random and read as much of a very long prepared script as possible in a deep southern accent. The script was about Jesus, but when I read it I couldn't help but notice that it didn't say anything about Jesus, it just sort of rambled about him. Here is a sample excerpt.

But sad to say, even though he had done so many miracles, Scripture says, yet when it came right down to is, they didn't believe in him. It's amazing that even his own disciples forsook him -- excpet Mary Magdalene. She stays with him to the end, didn't she? Last to leave The Cross, first to come to the sepulchre. Now, we need to sit here, and we need to ask the question, "how come the men of that generation didn't believe in Christ?"

I decided that I was unhappy with the random aspect of this task and I decided that I absolutely must dial The One True Love of my Life and Benrick with her. (Benrick is my new favorite verb.) So I waited until she was at her desk and relatively unencombered with official working tasks and I dialed her from across the room at the reference desk. "You know, without Christ-uh" I said, "Without Jesus-uh, we have no hope-uh." It was my best televangelist.

"Why?" I continued. "Well-uh, because we know that the standard of God's righteousness is Law, a law ofr th Ten-uh Commandments, a law of statutes-uh and judgement. And which God-uh gave unto Moses on Mount Sanai-uh, saying this is my righteousness, O Israel. But you know, God-uh also gave another law. A law revolving around a system of shedding a poor and innocent-uh lamb's blood-uh..."

Do you know she sat still and paid attention for the entire speach? I read the whole thing to her and fifteen minutes later when I was finally done, and an audience had formed around me at the reference desk, The One True Love of my Life said, "Brian, come over to here. I give you grape. I have the grape for you."

I think I really made a difference in her life.

I am ignoring today.

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Report: Day 28 

My last meal was a rousing success. I invited Bevin over to share it with me because let's be honest, my last meal would be a dinner party, death row or not. Bevin arrived dressed in orange to simulate the garb of fellow prisoners and enhance the prison theme of the evening. "I will be the prisoner you sometimes chat with on death row who you have never seen except through my reflection in the polished underside of your dented tin cup!" she explained. She was also wearing a button shaped like New Jersey with a little flashing light where Camden was located. "They have a prison there. In Camden," she explained. The flashing light certainly added a little glamour to the event.

On the menu at my final meal was a wilted spinach salad with goat cheese and mango topped with chicken scampi. Ordinarily it would have been shrimp scampi, but I had a guest who was alergic to shell fish so adjustments were made. To accompany, mineral water and a Domaine Carneros Le Reve Sparkling Wine, vintage 2001, was served. Dessert was a creme brulee made with Splenda as Bevin is currently on a low carb plan. Mine was topped the traditional way with carmalized sugar creating a delightful crunch, hers was topped with a bit of melted low carb chocolate which she agreed made a suitable substitute, though we did do an experiment in which we attempted to carmalize Splenda. In case you are wondering, Splenda does not carmalize, but it does catch fire and turn to ash.

Today I'm supposed to save a stranger's soul from eternal damnation Benrick style.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Report: Day 27 

This was more difficult than I imagined. I decided to keep score, so I carried a tick sheet. Every time I instinctively tried to use the words yes or no I made note of the exchange. Some samples are below. Tallies reported represent the score at the time of the exchange indicated.

Them: Do you know anything about Lexis?
Me: (Long pause) I have some experience with Lexis.

Tally: 7-4 in favor of Sooner.

Them: How was your weekend?
Me: Just fine thank you.
Them: You look happy and pleasant this morning.
Me: Yes, I'm in a great mood. Shit.

Tally: 10-10

Me: So anyway, tomorrow I have to prepare my last meal as if I were on death row and eat it.
Them: Brian, are you inviting me to share your last meal?
Me: Yes. Damn.

Tally: 12-18 in favor of Them.

Them: Did you see Alias last night?
Me: Oui!

Tally: 19-21. Closing the gap.

Them: You've been doing this for a while now, huh? This Benrick book?
Me: (nodding) This is day 27.
Them: Is Benrick specific about how many hours you have to spend doing this?
Me: (long pause) That information is not included in the book.
Them: So, technically you could set a time frame for this, like Day 27 I won't use yes or no between the hours of 8 and 2.
Me: Y--, uh, technically I suppose that's true.
Them: Is this your tick sheet?
Me: (short pause) It is.
Them: Am I reading this right? Are you behind right now?
Me: (exhale) They are winning. You are correct.
Them: Are you tired of me asking you yes and no questions?
Me: Yes. I earned that one.

Tally: 25-31

Final Tally: 31-43 in favor of Them. As the day wore on, I got less and less diligent and soon the gap was just too great. This, of course, means that today I failed. Have I doomed myself? Will I be able to make a complete transformation radical style? I suppose only time will tell.

Today I am supposed to determine my last meal as if I were on death row and prepare it for dinner.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Report: Day 26 

The following is a transcription of a letter I sent to His Holiness the Dalai Lama this morning.

March 28, 2004

His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Lhassa, Tibet

Dear Holiness:

My name is Brian Blaho and you may not remember this, but I saw you this past summer when you gave a talk in Central Park. I was the one in the blue T-shirt off to your right. I was sitting on a green hand towel which I wanted to return after the talk, but I couldn't find the return receptacle so I wound up with it in my possession. I still have it, and it has been laundered. If you need it back let me know.

Anyway, I'm on a quest via Benrick to change my life "radical style" and as I'm sure you're aware by now given the world wide Benrick craze, Day 26 of my life changing journey requires me to contemplate exactly how I'd like to be reincarnated and to formally request as much from you, the world's most famous reincarnation.

I have been taking this entire project very seriously, Holiness, and today's task is no exception. I have spent a great deal of time weighing the pros and cons of living life as various creatures and I have been thinking a great deal about what kind of being I might be reincarnated as, given the way I've lived my current life to date. I have to say that I'm probably not supermodel worthy. It is difficult to admit, but I do not believe I have lived a life with enough kindness, charity, or humility to warrant being reborn "hot" or "sexy" if you will. It's simply the truth.

So, I will not waste your time or mine making ridiculous requests like "please, Holiness, may I be reborn a Baldwin?" or anything like that. I think we both know that's completely outside the realm of possibilities. But on the other hand, it's not like I've been a totally crappy person either. I mean, Holiness, come on. I recycle, ok? So I certainly don't deserve to be reborn as some kind of Pauly Shore.

Therefore I think you will agree that my proposal for reincarnation is not only utterly reasonable but within my Karmic credit.

Of course, all of this is so much prologue, Holiness. That is to say that really the heart of my plea is that I would very much like to be reborn as some kind of BMX superstar. Just think, Holiness! If you can pull this off for me I'd totally give you a ride 'round the half-pipe on my handlebars so I think you'll agree that you are not entirely without incentive. We could even go on tour together. I would have the acrobatics and you would have the wisdom, piety, and let's face it the "cred" to totally get my BMX career off the ground. We could pack the grandstands every night.

And this doesn't say anything about the chicks, Holiness. I don't know what kind of groupies international religious leaders get, but the babes that hang out at the x-games are wicked hot! I'm not even kidding.

Well, anyway, that's what I'd like. I have included a five dollar (US) note that you may use in any way you see fit as long as it greases the wheels on this BMX thing. Let me know what you think because if I'm not going to get to be a BMX star then I'm gonna quit recycling because it's really a pain in the neck, Holiness. I mean you have to put the plastic over here and the glass over there. And just forget about the newspapers.

Chanting only for you,
Brian Blaho
Hasbrouck Heights, NJ, USA

P.S. If I can't be a BMX star my second choice is to be reborn as some kind of angry stinging insect. Just keep it in mind.

Today I am not permitted to use either of these words.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Report: Day 25 

Yesterday I struggled with the fact that I will never walk on the moon. Never. No matter what I do I will never walk on the moon. Benrick had a list of more than 500 things that I will probably never do. That's just too depressing for words.

Today I am to choose from a provided list exactly what I want to be reincarnated as.

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