Looking for a new Internet time-waster? Go to http://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/ and type the name of a person you know in the box "Find someone's list".
Search by name works best with unusual names. My name is hopeless. There's a lot of us. I'll save you some time and tell you that I never made an Amazon wish list. Maybe you think that's just what I'm saying. Then I can't help you.
A few of my namesakes have listed their birthdays, which is nice for gift giving. It's a common security question for resetting passwords, too. I'll take a risk and say that none of the birthdays the few people have listed is mine. That narrows the field by a few dates.
Name 1. Only one hit, and only one book. The book seems... unlikely. Or has he for all these years been hiding his interest in foods like Crispy Pig Tails and Rolled Pig's Spleen and Pig's Trotter Stuffed with Potato? You never know. I had to look up what part of a hog the Trotter is, and though it sounds like a euphemism, it really is just a foot.
Name 2. Only one hit. The two books about her favorite hobby tell me that this is the person I know. But there's also a CD from a 1960s group I am not familiar with, which is saying something. And she'll need the CD because Amazon does not offer mp3 downloads of the songs on it. I checked the samples. It's a thumping garage band with an enthusiastic singer, and it sounds like it was recorded over the telephone. Why does she want this? It came out when we were teens. There is an untold story here. She ran away from home to see them, and was married to the bass player for a week until the drugs ran out and they noticed she was sixteen. I can't confirm any of this.
After a good start it was downhill from there. Most of the names I tried are not found, or they just list boring stuff. If you make one of these wish lists you should list one crazy thing, to entertain people. Get them talking.
Someone I haven't seen since the 1980s wants three of the five volumes of Dante's Divine Comedy. I wonder why she's into that. There's also a small picture of her. Hey you, what's with the white hair? Are we old or something?
I see that back in the year 2000, someone I know at work wished for some technical books about computer system administration. They have got to be a little dated at this point. Do these lists ever expire, Amazon? Eleven years isn't long enough? The revealing thing is that her ex-husband's surname is appended to the name she uses now.
Is this getting creepy? It's the trouble with the Internet. It's too easy.
I had the idea once of forming a club of people who have the same seven-digit phone number in different area codes. To call each other you'd only need to remember three digits because the rest would just be your own phone number. I never followed through.
Now I can just Google my home phone number and find out who some of the club members would be. You can waste time doing this too. You get mostly business web sites but it's a start.
I get a McDonald's in Chicago, a psychologist in St Louis, a printer in the Bronx, a public relations firm in Tennessee. Then there's a mysterious business in Seattle, name redacted to [name], that has this to say:
[name] USA Inc. manages the supply chain of raw materials from North America to [name]'s global production and distribution facilities. [name] USA Inc. is staffed with industrial professionals with profound international marketing background.I'll just say that [name] are in the export business and let it go. Onward. A marina and conference center (two in one) in Wisconsin, a computer repair guy in Orlando, a hair salon in Greensboro. All connected by the thread of a phone number. Our fates might be tied together. It makes as much sense as astrology.
After those I started hitting sites in Britain. There's another mysterious business in London that offers "access consultancy research and design", and a young people's music venue in Sheffield that says:
Security: Tight but polite, full co-operation with South Yorkshire policeI've taken a note, in case I ever stay in Sheffield.
Please Bring Photo ID if you are lucky enough to look under 18
Dress: Sleek and Sexy, No Hats or Hoods, Guys put in an effort for the girls
The whole concept of the phone number club was based on the need to remember phone numbers. It's becoming weird to think that you'd have to store seven-digit sequences in your brain in order to call somebody.
I still remember my home phone number from when I was a kid. It started with two letters, and we didn't have area codes yet when I memorized it. It was in the SWarthmore-7 exchange. I converted the letters to numbers and prepended the area code for Fair Lawn, and looked it up. It's a cell phone now. I mean the entire exchange is cell phones. I wonder how they managed the cutover. Because I work on things like that sometimes.
Those are my ideas for this week. Come on, it's summer.