Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Cookie is my Master 

Image hosted by Photobucket.comA patron called and asked, "Would you please read me the definition of the word 'about?' How long does 'about' mean? Are we talking about today, or a few days, or maybe a month?"

My colleague read her the Merriam-Webster's definition.

"Well, my fortune cookie told me that something good was about to happen. I've been waiting for a whole month and nothing, and I mean nothing, good has happened to me."

"I'm not sure if I would put too much stock in fortune cookies. I believe those things are deliberately vague so they can mean whatever you want them to mean."

The woman sounded dubious. “Well, you’re entitled to your opinion. Thanks.”

I read a charming article in the New Yorker about Donald Lau, a Vice-President at Wonton Foods, a Chinese company that manufactures fortune cookies. Because of Lau's knowledge of English, he was tapped to refresh the fortunes contained in the cookies, which had not been updated in decades. One still used from the forties advised, “Find someone as gay as you are!” The sources he uses for inspiration? A Dictionary of American Proverbs, The I Ching, and The NY Post. Interestingly, Powerball lottery officials suspected a scam when 110 people, over 10 times the normal amount, presented tickets with a close enough sequence to claim a prize of almost $100,000 a piece. Foul play was eliminated when officials discovered that the winners had used the numbers on the back of one of Donald Lau’s fortunes that read, "All the preparation you've done will finally be paying off."

Here's the full text of the article.

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