You want a box for that?

Somebody in China wants to sell me a box – specifically a wooden packing box.

I’m not exactly sure why.

I’m not even sure if I’m the right person for the box.

I mean, I’m pretty sure who I’m supposed to be most of the time, but I’m not sure I’m the guy to whom somebody in China wants to export one wooden packing box.

Perhaps I should explain.

(Sure, why not?)

Trouble started last week when the newspaper’s librarian scuttled out of her shadowy lair and dropped an e-mail message on my desk.

“This doesn’t make any sense – it must be for you,” she muttered darkly before spinning on her heel and returning to her dim, cobweb enshrouded alcove.

Since there was no one else in the newsroom upon whom I could foist the mysterious missive, I nodded confidently, adjusted my bifocals and took command of the situation – for about five seconds.

I suppose the message could have been for me. Then again, it could have been for Ozzy Osbourne or Dick Cheney.

“It’s our utmost pleasure to know on the Web that you are inclined to import packing box. So we are glad to introduce ourselves as a manufacturer of wooden packing box in Guangdong, China. And we would like to build up business relations with you in this line.”


“Our product is available for export at present. This product has been widely sold to various markets abroad and we believe that there is also a demand for your end…”

(This is getting a little dicey. I never imagined there was an international demand for my end. Worse, I’m not sure to which end the writer is referring – are we talking about my demise or my, er, posterior? Curiousier and curiousier…)

“We look forward to your early reply. We believe that our business with you will develop as time goes on.”

Well, that’s a fairly reasonable assumption. We could, perhaps, start off with one introductory wooden packing box now and then maybe a couple in the fall for realistic Halloween coffin decorations. Then a half-dozen wooden packing boxes filled with fruitcakes and mistletoe for king-sized Christmas gifts, a tasteful Chinese packing box for my ex-wife’s birthday in January and two for my kids’ birthdays in February.

I can almost hear their joyous cries of childlike delight and wonder: “Wow, Dad, thanks – imported wooden packing boxes from Guangdong! Just what we’ve always wanted. You’re the greatest Dad ever!”

Yes, I had to agree that there were myriad possibilities for Chinese wooden packing boxes. On the other hand, I had to be realistic. You can only deliver so many gaily wrapped wooden packing boxes to weddings and baby showers before people begin to think you’re a few boxes short of a warehouse.

Fortunately, the folks in Guangdong gave me an easy out:

“I sincerely apologize if this message annoyed you, but I’ll be very grateful if you’ll recommend it to your friends!”

OK, friends, here’s where to find out more about some of the most packable packing boxes in China:


Go for it, amigos, and tell ’em I sent you…

Originally published July 15, 2001

Yeah, like this is gonna work in S’lano County …

Ever since the phenomenon of road rage became prevalent on America’s frantic freeways, experts have been trying to mitigate the potentially deadly disorder.

We’ve all heard the simple solutions: Count to 10. Imagine yourself in a pleasant spring meadow. Always make sure to have plenty of ammunition within reach and easily visible to fellow motorists (otherwise known as beady-eyed, pig-headed idiots).

One of the latest remedies comes from the Massachusetts-based TheraSound group.

According to a recent press release foolishly sent to California media outlets for no apparent reason, TheraSound has developed a sound that soothes the savage breast and makes motorists mellow again.

“The one-hour compact disc, titled ‘Road Rage Relief: Music to Survive the Drive’ contains an uninterrupted flow of specially designed music that helps drivers stay calm and alert during periods of maximum highway stress,” TheraSound reports.

The soothing CD works by creating “a clearly discernible rising and falling harmonic pattern which encourages drivers to breathe slowly and deeply.”

Well, isn’t that all warm and cuddly?

Sorry – this might work in Cambridge while you’re flitting about in your maroon Miata, but it’ll never play here in S’lano County, where men are men and women use Jack Daniels for hair conditioner.

The only way to keep road rage at bay here is to let the other guy know that you’re the baddest cat in the No. 1 lane.

And yes, this can be accomplished with the right kind of music, but it has nothing to do with harmonic breathing patterns.

Want to keep potential troublemakers at least three car lengths away as you rocket down Interstate 80? No problem, amigos. Just choose your music wisely, then play it loud and proud.

Any CD by Ozzy Osbourne or Rob Zombie is a good way to keep white line-fevered idiots from starting trouble. Think about it – one of these guys is named Zombie and the other guy dances with ’em (“Hey, hey, do the Zombie Stomp!”). Is anybody going to risk tailgating you when “Demonoid Phenomenon” is thundering out of your speakers somewhere between Dixon and Danville? I don’t think so.

Also useful for casting a menacing pall over your auto are The Murder City Devils. I rather favor their “Empty Bottles, Broken Hearts” album.

Or arm yourself with “Harley-Davidson Road Songs.” The hard-riding album’s name says it all. Nobody messes with a Harley and nobody messes with a someone who’s playing “Bad Company” or “Born to Be Wild” at about 70,000 decibels.

The two-CD compilation also includes Sammy Hagar’s classic “I Can’t Drive 55” (“Go on and write me up for 125, post my face wanted dead or alive, take my license, all that jive, I can’t driiiive 55!”).

For those who favor a decidedly twisted blast from the past, Warren Zevon’s 1978 “Excitable Boy” album is indispensable for deflecting potential highway crazies.

Not only does this album contain Zevon’s well known “Werewolves of London” but his dark, desperate “Lawyers, Guns and Money.”

The sharpest cut, however, is undoubtedly “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner,” a martial ballad about a, er, headless Thompson gunner named Roland …

Nobody gets in your face when Roland’s ridin’ shotgun …

Originally published January 28, 2001