1. @ Andréa – I wondered about the “intent” when I first saw that RwO on Monday, but looking at it now, I notice that it is entitled “The Stop“, so the “stationæry” pun was almost certainly not an accident.

  2. I agree that there is an intentional word-play of some sort on stationery<->stationary. But the main joke (and maybe some secondary jokes) seems to be in how the theme of stationery or office supplies keeps getting pulled in, including the “paper cut” in the throwaway panel. However they elevated the front, it is being held up not by a jack or a block, but by a stack of notebooks or binders, or maybe wrapped packs of paper. And the “rubber cement” that the guy in the back finds may make him think it could be useful in repairing the rubber tire.

    And indeed, in maybe 1963 when I biked to my Junior High, as part of bicycle self-maintenance I had an inner-tube puncture repair kit. (They may have already developed the ultra-thin high-pressure single layer hard tire whose interlock with the room makes the seal; but mostly we ordinary riders had wider tires with an outer cover layer of harder rubber but the pressure contained in a softer inner tube.)

    To patch the inner tube — after removing both layers from the rim and pulling the inner tube out — you would: clean the surface generally with something like naphtha; abrade the tube surface with a metal grater built into the cover of the kit; rag-brush it clean again; spread an adhesive over the area you will patch; LIGHT THE ADHESIVE AND LET IT BURN OFF THE VOLATILE COMPONENTS BEFORE BLOWING OUT THE FLAME; quickly peel off the backing from a soft rubber patch, and apply it to the sticky adhesive covered area; hold it firm a little while to solidify to the inner tube.

    That flammable adhesive had pretty much the appearance, smell, and consistency of office rubber cement. So the guy poking around in the back of the van is maybe not totally out in left field!

    (The step of setting the adhesive aflame may or may not have been part of the official instructions, or may have been a practical quicker-dry hack my father picked up in auto-repair shop contexts.)

  3. I don’t think that the artist is necessarily deliberately explaining the joke to reader in the first one, just correcting the child.

  4. Mark M, I have to disagree. There are so many other ways the parent could have been shown to be correcting the child. (And this way she didn’t even absorb that it was a correction — she persists in the misunderstanding.) So I think it must at some level be aimed at the reader. Which is not necessarily a bad thing.

  5. It would be nearly impossible to produce a bicycle tire that does not need an inner tube. Automobile wheels are formed with a continuous metal surface, which can easily hold the air pressure. Bicycle wheel rims are pierced with dozens of holes for the spokes. Even if they could be made airtight, every single one of them would be at risk of becoming a leak.

  6. They do make tubeless bicycle tires.


    In the case of the van, it’s unlikely that it has tube tires. Those haven’t been common for automobiles in quite some time. Taking an automobile tire off the rim is a chore without the right tools, so accessing the tube to repair it would be problematic even if there was one.

    Back in the 70s, my truck got some sort of small cut in the sidewall of a tire that was slowly leaking. I had a shop put a tube in the tire, as it was almost new. I don’t know how safe that was, but it was a rear tire. Anyway, I didn’t die.

    They do have DIY plug kits with a tube of rubber cement, but I think it’s thicker than the office stuff. Plus you would need a rubber plug and a way to inflate the tire. I actually have a plug kit because I thought the Venerable Bronco had a screw in a tire. It turned out to just be the head of a screw lodged in the tread.

  7. I’m not sure what the dispute here is over the One Big Happy strip. It seems like a pretty standard joke for that strip. Basically, Ruthie and her brother Joe are like the kids from The Family Circus, only with average intelligence for their age rather than below-average intelligence.

  8. Yeah, “Ruthie misunderstands what was said” is a standard of the strip. The one from the day before she mangled the lyrics to the Gilligan’s Island theme:

  9. @ Mitch – Yes, they still make the patch kits for bicycle tires, but the price of a new inner tube is low enough that a labor intensive patch may not be the most economical solution (especially if the location is not known and requires a water bath to find). I’ve never seen a kit that advised burning off the solvent, normally you just have to wait a few minutes for it to evaporate. One of our neighbors had to use a patch just a few weeks ago, but I can’t remember the last time I used one: the only leaks I’ve had since I’ve been in Germany have been caused by loose or faulty valves.

    P.S. Auto repair shops carry patch kits for automobile tires. On average, I’ve had about one nail puncture per decade of driving, and the procedure was always the same: they use a round file to smooth the edges of the hole, and then a short length of rubber cord is smeared with cement, and the middle of the cord is poked through the hole with a loophook, and then pulled back out and cut free. The result is four separate lengths of rubber cord through the same hole, very effectively sealing the leak. Driving causes the threads in the cords to unravel and tangle with each other, guaranteeing that the patch will be permanent. Only once (when the puncture was too close to the sidewall of the tire) was it necessary to perform an extra “vulcanization” step on the inside of the tire.

    P.P.S. While Brian’s link does confirm that tubeless bicycle tires are possible, the effort described there makes it clear that they are not a rational option for anyone except professional racers. The only real advantage is reducing weight, but the minor difference in the weight of two tubes would not even be measurable for a hobby cyclist. On the other hand, the reduction in rotational inertia would definitely be valuable for a professional, and they can afford to spend the hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars necessary to engineer airtight wheel rims. Riders in the Tour de France don’t need to carry spares or patch tires, they have cars that follow the peloton carrying spare wheels and even replacement bicycles.

  10. I had a very very slow car tyre puncture about five years ago – it would take weeks, even a couple of months, even after a several-hundred-mile round trip, for it to be noticeably out of whack with the other tyres. When I finally took it to the tyreiste he showed me what had caused it: a screw with quite a deep thread that had effectively almost-completely-but-not-quite sealed the hole. With a bit of cement it might have done it.

    My other puncture story is on the M1, a major motorway going North from London, about 10-15 years ago. There were roadworks around, and there must have been some crap on the road from them as when I joined it from the M25 (the London Orbital) I immediately saw some expensive car like a Porsche suffer a blowout, something I had never seen before. Poor sod, I thought.

    My puncture came a few miles later, in a section where a lane of traffic and the hard shoulder were coned off for the roadworks. It wasn’t a big bang but still a pretty sudden decompression, and with no hard shoulder immediately available it was a bit tricky to get out of the way, which I soon did by weaving between two cones. The truck immediately behind me hooted at me – turned out it was a pickup truck, employed by the Highways Agency to monitor traffic and rescue – for free – any broken down vehicles, so as to keep the flow going.

    Turned out he was returning to base after going down the South carriageway and picking up some other car, which he had loaded on board. He was able to immediately pull in front of me, hitch my car up for a tow, put me in the cab with the other car driver, and take me north to his base. I was probably stopped for about a minute or two max. The driver, who even gave me a hand taking off my tyre, which was a bit jammed, said he had noticed my car was in some difficulty even before I tried to pull off the road. I was only about a quarter of an hour late to where I was going.

  11. Actually, tubeless bicycle tires are quite common now. You need a different rim, and you have sealant in the tire which seals small punctures.

    But the idea of rubber cement in the cartoon isn’t quite crazy. I use standard rubber cement to patch my bicycle tubes.

  12. Back when I was 8 or 9 years old, my bike got a flat, and the neighbor’s kid offered to fix it (he was probably all of 14 or 16). He pulled the inner tube, and used a patch kit that had a rubbery material inside a metal frame about the size of a half dollar. He clamped the thing to the inner tube and lit it with a match. It smoked and fizzled for about 5 minutes, and when it cooled he removed the frame, leaving a rubber patch on the tube. I’ve never seen a patch kit like that, since.

  13. Kilby: Tubeless bike tires aren’t clinchers (that is, the rim isn’t part of the pressure vessel) — the tire is itself a tube, and it’s stuck on the outside of the wheel with glue. (Yes, you need different rims on the wheels.) Which gives rise to the other fun part of tubeless tires: they sometimes come off in corners…

  14. Dave in Boston describes tubular tires (also called “sew-ups”). Tubeless tires, as described in Brian’s REI link, are indeed clinchers. Professional racers, as far as I know, still use tubulars, which are lighter than tubeless.

  15. For pro racers, the weight reduction isn’t actually “saved“, it is simply “redistributed”. There are strict minimum weight requirements for professional racing bikes, both for engineering safety and for fairness (this keeps manufacturers from trying to shave off every last gram). However, the energy required to accelerate the mass in the wheels is a significant factor, so reducing tire weight is a very productive optimization, even if it has no effect on the overall (required) weight of the bike.

  16. Huh, I never heard of tubeless clinchers for bikes. Seems like a loser compared to real sew-ups; I suppose they don’t come off in corners, but that has always been more of a theoretical problem than a pressing issue.

    Serves me right for assuming I knew what we were talking about and not opening the link.

  17. Okay – now I will be awake all night (and beyond) trying to remember confusion as a child over some word which I mistake to mean something else as arson is in the first strip.

    Possibly this will be bouncing around in my head for days now as I have started forgetting things that I knew or which happened to me (how does someone forget about the one one surgery they had in their life) Drives one crazy to know this especially when the best information one can get from husband/ sister & BIL is it was “something female” and general year it happened.

  18. Meryl, of course a (minor) issue with the comic, for some readers, would be that it relies on the word “our” being pronounced the same as the word “are” (or equivalently the first syllable of “arson”). Personally I stretch “our” a bit, with an extra mora; but it doesn’t for me interfere with appreciating the pun joke.

  19. @ Mitch – I think Meryl’s first sentence needs to be read as if there were a comma directly after “something else”; her concern has nothing to with the “arson” in this comic, but some similar incidents in her own life as a kid.

    P.S. @ Meryl – I don’t think you necessarily need to worry about forgetting about that surgery. The brain has a natural facility (in some cases inclination) to repress unpleasant memories.

  20. Sorry – Robert was rushing me last week as it was time for us to go to bed – and I was still reading cidu.

    1 – For some reason – seeing the word “arson” in the context it used in the comic brought back extremely vague memories of some word I used to confuse with “arson” when I was young – but I don’t know what word it was or why I confused the two.

    2 – Kilby – Robert and I were having a discussion at dinner one night over problems with my sister over when we had recently taken my mom to a doctor for a medical procedure and that sister was upset that I handled the situation correctly. (She and all her family members work full time – Robert and I “have nothing to do” so we should take mom as sister does not want to use her time off as everyone in her family is always sick.) In the discussion at dinner I commented to Robert that perhaps the problem is other than his cataract surgeries and my teeth problems we have not had to deal with surgical procedures as my sister and her family have had to do a number of times for themselves. His reply “and that gynecology surgery you had” . This was in early August.

    This knocked for a major loop as I have NO memory of anything even like that. I remember breaking my collar bone when I was 3, I remember a virus in my leg when I was in 3rd grade, and I remember tearing something in my ankle when I was in high school. I remember all of these in great deal as well as the treatment for same. Robert “sometimes” remembers things incorrectly lately – but he did come with a location where one of my gynecologists was located as to where he remembered me taking me, so I wrote an email to my sister. She remembers it, as does her husband, but none of the 3 remembers any details. Robert put it in 1985, related to a movie which I am pretty sure we did not see in a movie theater, while my sister puts in 1988 or 89 as she says it was about my niece was born. Financial records/appointment books back then were not kept on computer and are long gone.

    Understand completely the idea of repressed memories (Robert’s profession was in psychology). If I could not remember the procedure itself I would understand that my mind is protecting me – in this case I can’t remember having anything done – ever – other than the items mentioned. In this case I really need the memory that I had “something” done to come back as it probably not as bad as what is currently going in my head – nights of crying, waking up screaming and so on.

    Robert had said it was a D and C, then changed it to “no it something less”. My sister said she remembered something and her husband remembered it was a D and C – but then said no it was something less, which makes me paranoid that they are hiding something much bigger from me as they both said exactly the same thing in the same words.

    Various pieces of other thoughts come back and change what was going on at the time with me (and Robert) which change the thought of what it could have been. Including – I have another sister who in my mind was too young for me to have told her anything, but the time frame being associated with when my niece was born means it was when baby sister got married – so she was not as young. I keep thinking about asking her what she remembers.

    Since this I have started to forget the most simple things and and I am terribly upset all the time. (Sorry to throw this all in,-especially since related to “female things” – but that it why it bothers me so much that I don’t remember – sometimes remembering something horrible, is better than not remembering it as I wonder now about things and thoughts that bother me over the years and if it is all related.

  21. @ Meryl – I fully understand your need to share your concerns with understanding friends. The CIDU community is the most decent, civilized group of people that I have ever met online. Even if you don’t always get a large number of responses, more people than you could possibly imagine do read your comments and stories. Nevertheless, it must be said that an open Internet forum isn’t really the best place to get competent medical advice. Therefore, if you have concerns about memory gaps, the time to look for local professional help is now, so that you can describe the effects and get appropriate treatment. As for the “forgotten” surgery, the only advice I can offer is that you might consider consulting with your current Ob/Gyn to see whether there are any indications of after-effects.

  22. Hi, Meryl. I recently changed my primary care clinic and doctor, to a “Senior Center” – which is actually a branch of the large medical center with all my records etc, so it wasn’t too complicated transferring records and prescriptions etc. My new primary care physician has “Gerontology” listed as her specialty. She just does normal primary care stuff, but is good at mobility issues and I’m sure will be quietly in the lookout for cognitive problems.

    All that is to suggest you can, if you have selected that sort of doctor (calm, watchful, and fairly nondirective) , go ask about the memory gaps without making it a big deal or putting you through testing and treatments you don’t want imposed.

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