The Twenty-Seventh Best Email We Wrote This Past Weekend

The Twenty-Seventh Best Email We Wrote This Past Weekend

The Twenty-Seventh Best Email We Wrote This Past Weekend: THE HMM WEEKLY NEWS-LETTER

CONTINUED IMPORTANT REMINDER: Good morning! You are a valued supporter of HMM DAILY and we have promotional items to send to your physical address. Roughly two-thirds of you have replied, and we urge the remaining supporters to KIINDLY REPLY WITH COMPLETE INFORMATION to: Your address will not be used for any non–HMM DAILY purposes. Thank you!


Is there anything you want to write to us?
Send questions and suggestions to


Check Out This Bossy, Judgmental Speedometer

The rental car this week is a new Toyota Corolla, which gets good mileage, has a nice big trunk, and includes this incredibly annoying display that pops up by the speedometer.

From somewhere in the info-aether, as it moves along the highway, the Corolla picks up the posted legal speed limit and shows it on the dash, in a little image of a roadside speed-limit sign.

That itself is OK—it's easy to forget whether the last number that went by was 60 or 65 or whatever—but then, if you happen to be going faster than that posted speed, the border of the little speed-limit sign turns red.

Who asked for your contribution, Toyota Corolla? What is the message here, and for whom?

The actual speed of the car, after all, is already being displayed in large digits—larger than the whole speed-limit sign—right there in the same visual space. Is the driver not going to understand that 64 is greater than 60 if the car doesn't throw that red warning at them? Obviously not. The Corolla is being a nag.

Before my kids understood how highway driving worked, there was a brief, irritating phase where someone from the backseat would see the speedometer and anxiously ask what the speed limit was. I assumed by now I was done with that sort of thing. I certainly wasn't expecting to get it from the Toyota Motor Corporation, which has had more than 80 years of experience with how people drive.

Here is where helpfulness crosses over into antagonism. The car is supposed to be on your side. Instead, it's telling you that you're in the wrong. It's judging you—it's like having one of those police POSTED SPEED / YOUR SPEED radar boards in your face all the time, only with a robotic disregard for context. The Corolla makes no distinction between going 66 in a 65 zone or 50 in a 25. Either way, it's PARAMETERS EXCEEDED, and you get RED.

It's hard not to notice that red is the color not just of a warning, but a threat. If the technology can nag you, the next step is for the technology to snitch on you.



I'm Trying to Help the Butterflies, but What Do You Do with These Space-Pods

Last summer here in Baltimore our modest front lawn collection of Indigenous Plants—guaranteed to thrive no matter how bad we are at gardening—welcomed a new item, a spontaneous outburst of milkweed, which I remember from first grade and the movie I watched with the caterpillar, the chrysalis, and the resulting Monarch Butterfly. The caterpillars eat milkweed, so I was excited to see the tell-tale holes in the leaves and the caterpillars growing fat, but we never saw a cocoon or a butterfly.

The weeds came back this summer, twice as many, and I haven't seen a bug-hole yet, but I'm wondering about the Science Fiction pods on the plants, can I eat that, should I feed it to a caterpillar? Does somebody want some milkweed pods? Any ideas? Suggestions appreciated, send to:



We Hope You Like Cucumber

We present here for your continued delectation a selection of recipes for archaic but entirely executable sandwiches, found in The Up-To-Date Sandwich Book: 400 Ways to Make a Sandwich, published in 1909 and now in the public domain for all to enjoy, so please, enjoy, and if you have made any of these sandwiches, kindly send a picture to

Peel cucumbers and cut into the thinnest possible slices and sprinkle with salt and pepper and a few drops of lemon juice. Place between thin slices of lightly buttered bread.

Sprinkle thin slices of lightly buttered white bread with cayenne. Place thinly sliced cucumbers that have been mixed with a little French dressing between the slices.

Soak thin slices of cucumber for one hour in good white vinegar, season with salt and pepper. Place between thin slices of buttered brown bread. Cut in strips.

Chop cucumbers fine, add a pinch of salt and pepper and a dash of French dressing. Mix and place between thin slices of lightly buttered white bread, with a crisp lettuce leaf between.

On thin slices of lightly buttered white bread, place thin slices of cucumber, over which sprinkle chopped chives; cover with another slice of bread and cut in squares.

Slice cucumbers thin, let stand in salt water ten minutes, drain, and place slices on thinly buttered white bread. Sprinkle with grated American cheese, put slices together, and garnish with a radish.

Chop three medium sized cucumbers and one red pepper, add a little mayonnaise dressing, and place between thin slices of lightly buttered white bread.

Chop fine one large cucumber and a small white onion. Add a dash of pepper and salt and moisten with a little mayonnaise dressing. Place between thin slices of lightly buttered Boston Brown bread.


Here Is a Photograph of the Sky

While we mull over what to serialize next, here's yet another installment of Spam Filter Letters to the Awl, from the 80,000-word collection of dummy-text cover letters I wrote to make sure that when I emailed that site a photograph of the sky, the filters would allow it to go through.

Subject: One person's filler
To: Awl notes

is another person's shoreline, underneath a new condominium tower, obstructing the view of the water previously enjoyed by someone else. Fill! Whatever it takes. Accumulate the necessary bulk, eliminate the void where the tide can come in, drive some pilings through it to ensure that the tide does not assert its previous rights to the space in question. On such efforts are our greatest metropolises constructed, at least until the seas assert their expanded rights, after the ice caps have melted away. Speaking of remorseless indifference, that should be enough to satisfy the picky filters, I hope. The draft is in the system and the sky photo is attached.

Subject: Here it is
To: Awl notes

the thing, the usual thing, and here is the usual pile of words arranged into some ostensibly non-usual but in fact incredibly repetitive form, a run-on sentence's worth of filler. Or maybe this time it will be multiple sentences. The point is as always to feign novelty, to get around the filters, to find a way to compose an unnecessary message to get to the necessary message, which will be exactly what the recipient expects it to be, which is that the draft review has been filed and there's a sky photo attached to this.

If the goddamn attachment button is working, that is.

Subject: Padding, inflating,
To: Awl notes

expanding, bloating, filling the space with words again. Words for the filters, words for the algorithms. An argument without sense: the proof that I am human is that I am willing and able to compose something meaningless, with varied enough content to symbolize novelty as it says the same thing one more time, beating ceaselessly onward against the automated censors to say yet again, here is the photo, there is the draft, I hope this is enough.

Subject: This, again.
To: Awl notes

Not the "THIS" of temporary trend-lexical fame, the "I agree with this!"-this, the "Here is where I locate meaning and/or desire"-this--just the mundane ordinary referential this, referring to a known or identified thing, an expected thing. Or here, two things: a routine message, and the routine effort of creating a meta-message to go with it, the word-padding to beat the filters and allow the imaginary referring pointer finger to indicate the jpeg of the sky attached to this email, and the draft of a weather review saved in the editor.

Subject: If I'm going to repeat myself
To: Awl notes

rather than filibustering the filter today I'm just going to reiterate that there is no such damn thing as a crab boil, and that it grieves me to no end to see people complaining that crab meat is watery and sloppy, because it means that this terrible act of imposture has had real consequences, in both the destruction of perfectly good crabs and the defaming of said crabs to novice crab eaters. Steamed bread would also be watery and sloppy if, instead of steaming it, one wantonly drowned it in boiling water.

At any rate, here is a photograph of the sky and notice that the review is in the system.


Each week, Joe will present an item he saw at the supermarket, and he might even eat it. Not to suggest that you buy it, or eat it, or anything like that, it's just to show you an item of interest available at the supermarket. Price check please!

This week's item: BLUEBERRY CHEERIOS™
FREE at my local supermarket. MILK NOT INCLUDED

Who asked for Blueberry Cheerios? Not me! I am generally unhappy with any mutant Cheerios, the same way I am never thrilled with a new version of Cheez-It snack cracker. Sure, it might be a temporary thrill to try a whole wheat or hot sauce Cheez-It, but I always go back to the Original. It's the same way with the Cheerios. I've tried the honey, and the multigrain, but they are Cheerios in shape only.

However! The local supermarket was giving away entire 10.9 oz. boxes of Blueberry Cheerios™ as part of their ongoing PLEASE GET ADDICTED TO THIS FOOD ITEM promotion, so I gave it a shot. I really scored because they ran out of boxes, so I got a raincheck, and that somehow magically entitled me to FIVE boxes. Free!

Also however! I stopped at one! I gave the raincheck to a friend with children to feed, because it's taking me forever just to get through this one box.

Everybody knows breakfast cereals are loaded with Nutrition Facts on account of all the ground-up vitamin dust they dump in to justify feeding it to the wee ones. The Nutrition is different when you add cow’s milk, and you could add soy “milk” or almond “milk” but just don't eat it dry, OK? And don't eat it dry out of the box, blindly reaching into the box while you’re watching TV, rustling through the Cheerios, with your HAND, aaugh! Sorry. Eat whatever you want however you want, this is still America, for now.

Also, 2g of soluble fiber is pathetic, don't eat this crap, there are many other candy-type cereals out there with some decent fiber numbers, you have to get something out of this stuff.

Not good! Weird! They smell funny! Taste vaguely metallic! Also, they aren't even BLUE, c'mon. These were FREE and I coulda re-upped FOUR times, NOT RECOMMENDED. Thanks and see you at the magazine rack, the big one, way back near the cleaning products.

Don't eat the brown Blueberry Cheerios

Hmm Daily is, until July 18, 2019, a website in the Civil Network, offering commentary and news and other things. This email newsletter is written by Tom Scocca, the editor of Hmm Daily, and Joe MacLeod, the creative director.

Also, if you enjoy this newsletter, please know that it will continue, in a larger, enhanced form, so let a friend know about it, and if you're reading this because someone forwarded this to you, you can sign up for a copy of your own at the bottom of our home page here.


HMM WEEKLY is delivered every Tuesday
to HMM DAILY supporters, members, and patrons