Ask Ceil – Briefly, Potatoes

Dear Ceil,

I don’t understand what all the fuss is about with Twitter. Why would one choose to restrict one’s expression so severely? One-hundred and forty characters isn’t enough to really say anything worth reading.

Frustrated in Florida

Dear Frustrated,

Some say that brevity is the soul of wit. Actually, Shakespeare said that, in the same play where his main character goes on for 34 lines about suicide. But I suppose he wasn’t trying to be witty at that point.

Baltasar Gracian said “Good things, when short, are twice as good.” I’m sure Danny DaVito agrees. Indeed, I—as a sub-five-and-a-half-footian—can concur.

And when it comes to Twitter, I think we can safely say that the rules are for the safety of those operating the machinery.

For instance, a topic that has been ongoing for a good chunk of today is #DescribeYourPenisWithAMovieTitle. (Sideways, Home Alone, Precious, National Treasure…you get the idea.)

I myself have participated in #cations (“Gettin’ my dog fixed. It’s a spaycation.”); #MoreInterestingBooks (“The Satanic Nurses”—not mine, “The Scarlet Pimp”—mine); #LessInterestingBooks (“And Then There Were Nuns”, “Ivan’s Hoe”, “Fahrenheit 45”); and #ImproveAllMoviesWithGrizzlyBears (“Leave the gun. And the grizzly bear. Take the cannoli”)

So you see, the fewer characters that the denizens of Twitter have available to them, the better for all involved. For I believe that the heart of the answer is contained in your question: “…anything worth reading”. I suppose, as evidenced by prolific drunk-tweeters everywhere, that beauty is indeed in the eye of the beer holder.

(Actually, while researching this article, I found that Gracian, a contemporary of Shakespeare’s, used a style that focused on using the minimum number of words to affect the most meaning. That style was called Conceptismo, and was referred to in Spanish as agudeza (wit). Was Shakespeare alluding to this style when he said that “brevity is the soul of wit”? I am super smart. Prize, please!)


Dear Ceil

How do I cook a potato?

Jack in Manhattan

So, you want to cook a potato? Luckily, you have chosen a vegetable that is heavy and has very little flavor. It is the Cleveland of the vegetable world. (Sorry, I’m from Pittsburgh. Go Bucs!) But that also means that it can both anchor and support the flavor of almost any dish, especially if “support” means, “do very little to contribute.”

You can bake it, boil it, broil it, fry it, microwave it. You can chop it, grate it, dice it, pierce it. If you slice it, you may even find a picture of Jesus in there. (I’m not kidding. Google “potato Jesus.” Do it now. It is apparently his side dish of choice.)

You can even use a potato as a battery. Theoretically, it can cook itself.

And if you’re short on time, you can very wisely spend your money on a Potato Bag, which will allow you to cook a potato in a microwave. Which is something you can do without a Potato Bag.

But be careful. God doesn’t like it when you put his son in the microwave. (Seriously, Google it now.)


In a life marked by crippling indecision, Ceil Kessler has worked too many types of jobs to count, and is finally in her own business, consulting on business intelligence software. Ceil also markets and publishes the magazine “Business Perks”. Like everyone else in the world, she is working on a couple of novels. She also runs the Laurel Highlands Vegetarian Society, plays pool in her increasingly rare free time, and is an appreciator of fine wines and single-malt scotches.

If you have questions for Ceil, please send them along questions@askceil.com, or you can use the Ask Ceil-o-matic form.

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2 thoughts on “Ask Ceil – Briefly, Potatoes

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  1. Hey Christophe, thank you very much for your tips. I’ve already slevod the problem with some other solution. Nevertheless there is one question left Is there any way to make the content of the div to slide down synchronously with the div? here is the way I’ve optimized the script for my needs: It’s certainly far away from being perfect I am very new to Javascript, but trying to do my best.function doSlide(id,id2,id3,id4,id5,id6){timeToSlide = 120; // in millisecondsobj = document.getElementById(id);obj2 = document.getElementById(id2);obj3 = document.getElementById(id3);obj4 = document.getElementById(id4);obj5 = document.getElementById(id5);obj6 = document.getElementById(id6);if(obj.style.display == block ){slideUp(obj,Math.ceil(obj.offsetHeight/timeToSlide),obj.offsetHeight);} else {obj2.style.display = none ;obj3.style.display = none ;obj4.style.display = none ;obj5.style.display = none ;obj6.style.display = none ;obj.style.display = block ;obj.style.visibility = visialbe ;height = obj.offsetHeight;obj.style.height= 0px ;pxPerLoop = height/timeToSlide;slideDown(obj,0,height,Math.ceil(height/timeToSlide));}}function slideDown(obj,offset,full,px){if(offset 0){obj.style.height = obj.offsetHeight-px+ px ;setTimeout((function(){slideUp(obj,px,full);}),1);} else {obj.style.height=full+ px ; // we reset the height if we were to slide it back downobj.style.display = none’;}}Big thanks in advance.Andrew

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