I’ll admit it — I don’t spend all my working hours working. To be fair, the work I do isn’t particularly taxing, physically or mentally. For example, one recent project entailed chain-watching “Armageddon,” “Deep Impact,” “The Core,” “2012” and “The Day After Tomorrow.” This past fall, another client paid me to play Farmville. I once spent a whole week vetting digital recordings of various bodily functions.
Still, procrastinators procrastinate no matter what’s on the to-do list. For me, it’s less about the odiousness of the task at hand than it is the sheer act of time-wasting itself.
We all have our favorite methods: Sudden, uncontrollable fits of house cleaning, for instance. Or mindlessly shoving mallomars into your mouth. Or playing Angry Birds. By the way, that app’s been downloaded some 36 million times — that’s 36 million people who could definitely be doing something more worthwhile than flinging virtual birds at a castle.
Me? I dig Wikipedia. During the past few years, I’ve Wikipediaed everything, and I mean everything: From Czech cinema to regional variations on the hero/submarine/hoagie/grinder to rainfall distribution in Alaska by borough to the spelling of Natalie Portman’s name in Hebrew.
That’s to say nothing of Wikipedia Lists. So many lists: List of House Speakers; List of vegetable oils; List of “Weird Al” Yankovic songs about television; List of Star Wars starfighters (as opposed to Star Wars spacecraft, an entirely separate list). And each list ends with a list of other lists, each with its own ending list of lists. You can see how easy it is to get sucked into the vortex.
I also like to enter different dates — that’s always good for a laugh. I’ll show you. Did you know Ansel Adams was born today in 1902? He shares a birthday with Gloria Vanderbilt, Mitch McConnell, one of the Backstreet Boys and the dude who played Billy on Melrose Place. But wait, there’s more. Today in 1792, George Washington signed the Postal Service Act; 200 years to the day later, Ross Perot kicked off his presidential campaign on Larry King Live. Coincidence? Yeah, probably.
But what I love most about Wikipedia — at least until someone Wikis in an entry about me (ahem, ahem) — is the disambiguation page, which is how Wikipedia differentiates between various meanings of the same word. For example, the word “salmon” can mean a fish, a color, a class of U.S. Navy submarine or a town of 3,100 in Lemhi County, Idaho. Earth, the third planet from the Sun, may also refer to:
• Earth, one of the four Greek classical elements
• Earth, the original name of heavy metal band Black Sabbath
• Earth City, Mo.
• “Earth (The Book),” by Jon Stewart and other writers of The Daily Show (in which, incidentally, a joke of mine appears — uncredited — courtesy of my old writing partner, who used to be a Daily Show writer; we’re cool like that).
Unlike Facebook or Google, you can’t troll Wikipedia endlessly. Chances are, none of your friends have entries. Unless, they used to write for The Daily Show. Point is, you run out of terms to Wikipedia relatively quickly.
This is precisely how I found myself typing “Juneau” into the search field.
Not to spoil the experience for anyone — not that I ever really could; Wikipedia searches are like snowflakes, each one’s different — but “Juneau” redirects to the entry for CBJ. On it, you find the typical stuff: demographics, history, points of interest, politics (with cross-reference to List of mayors of Juneau, Alaska).
Where things start getting interesting is Juneau (disambiguation).
First off, Wikipedia clarifies that Juneau is not to be confused with Juno (disambiguation), which may refer to Juno, the Roman goddess of marriage; Juno, the 2007 teen pregnancy rom-com; Juno, the planned NASA mission to Jupiter; and/or Juno, the character from Beetlejuice.
Juneau may also refer to:
• Juneau, Wis., a city in Dodge County, Wis., not to be confused with Juneau County, Wis., although that’s got to be extremely confusing to have a city and a county in the same state but the city not located in that county? Mail must get all kinds of screwed-up.
• Joe Juneau, miner and prospector, who founded some town in the Alaskan Panhandle. Ketchikan, I think it was, but don’t quote me on that.
• Joż Juneau, professional hockey player (retired), who — no joke — coincidentally wore #49 for the Boston Bruins. As in the 49th state?
• Pierre Juneau, Canadian radio and television executive (I can’t believe some Canadian radio and television executive gets a Wikipedia entry and I don’t).
• Solomon Juneau, fur trader and founder of Milwaukee, Wis.; also Joe Juneau’s uncle, the prospector not the Bruin.
• USS Juneau (CL-52), a U.S. Navy cruiser sunk at the Battle of Guadalcanal killing 687 men, including the “Fighting” Sullivan Brothers. The ship was sponsored by the wife of Juneau, Alaska’s former mayor Harry I. Lucas (see the list).
• USS Juneau (CL-119), a U.S. Navy cruiser, scrapped in 1962.
• USS Juneau (LPD-10), a U.S. Navy amphibious transport dock, sponsored by the wife of Alaska’s then-governor, William A. Egan; interestingly enough, this USS Juneau served as command ship for the Exxon Valdez oil spill response.
• “Juneau,” a song by Welsh post-hardcore band Funeral for a Friend. Sounds like fun, uplifting stuff.
• Juneau Icefield, an icefield in the Alaskan Panhandle. Somewhere outside of Ketchikan, I think, but don’t quote me on that.
For some reason, Juneau (disambiguation) does not list Juneau, Penn., even though a Wikipedia entry for Juneau, Penn., does exist. Wikipedia calls it “a populated place.” Ouch. That’s gotta sting.
• Geoff Kirsch’s “Slack Tide” runs every other Sunday in Neighbors. Read his article about bicycle touring on Prince of Wales Island — with photos by Libby Sterling — in the March issue of Adventure Cyclist magazine. E-mail him at email@example.com.
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