Often, the answers to life's great mysteries lie right under our noses, and we don't even realize it. Consider the innumerable problems I've been able to solve simply by trolling the EE Times Crosstalk e-mail folder, which has become a magnet for a host of sages willing to share their wisdom-but not necessarily in letters to the editor.
"You should read this," FromM insisted the other day. So I did. M's newsletter "will be back soon" (I hadn't realized it had left) to inform me that "too many companies that offer opportunities are: too inexperienced; too broke; favor only the heavy hitter at the expense of the 'little guy'; just plain illegal." (Gasp!)
Deeper down in the inbox, I was urged, "Don't sit at home by yourself tonight." (Would that I could; I need a little peace and quiet.) The e-mailer was offering a book that promised to teach me how to stop being "socially inept." The theme: "why me and Brian are together." (This was intriguing. I was interested to know [a] why my wife was writing about us and [b] why her usually authoritative command of the English language had suddenly failed her.) "One night he made this drunken confession to me about having been socially inept his whole life," the missive continued. (I've made more than a few drunken confessions, but I don't recall that one.) Dating Secrets urged me to give a copy of the book to my "little brother," and I'm sure he (who is taller than I) will be grateful when he unwraps his Christmas gift.
That problem solved, I moved onward. "We have drugs and painkillers to improve the quality of life! Bondage Metamorphose." Well, I hadn't heard from Bondage Metamorphose since she and I dated in college, so I was happy to hear she was gainfully employed and thinking about my mother. But Mom already has enough drugs and painkillers to stock a small pharmacy, so I declined Bondage's gracious offer.
As I moved down the list, I got a lump in my throat realizing how many people out there are just dying to make my life easier, happier, with less drain on my wallet. I was invited to watch hot girls, select my meds-no doctor needed!-get low-priced software, buy Pimpwear, get in on the ground floor of a smallcap promo mover, wager whether Scott Peterson will get the death penalty.
But the best advice I got came at the bottom of the list: "Letter to the editor: Don't let these idiots tear our world apart."