I think my life is a bit too enjoyable at the moment, which leaves me in a bit of a quandary. Usually I like to have a good whinge about something. But right now, there’s not much to whinge about, and I’m sitting here on Monday night, wanting to send at least a token diary entry to the mailing list, but unable to think of anything witty, intelligent or whiny to say.

Ah! Got it! Thanks to the wide-reaching tentacles of the Internet, stupid people are always available to whinge about, or at least poke fun at. So here’s the dumbest mail I got last week:

From: Jenny <surname and e-mail address deleted to protect the stupid from the wrath of the intelligent>

03 October 2000 08:36
Subject: shower gel


My name is Jenny <surname deleted>. I am doing a project for my Chemistry class on shower gel. I was wondering if you could possibly send me any information on your shower gel products. Here are the things I need:

-The history of the shower gel (how it was discovered and who discovered it)
-Properties (chemical and physical)
-Production (process involved in developing the product, substances needed, where it is made, chemical
-Uses and Economics (How much does it cost to produce, final retail) and

Pleases send my any information that you can. It would be extremely appreciated,  Thank you. Jenny <surname and full street address in New Hampshire, USA deleted>

It’s a beauty, isn’t it? How does one even begin to answer a mail like that? Is she going to fail her chemistry class or what?!

Well, she will if she uses any of the stuff I put in my reply. I’m so helpful, aren’t I!

From: Daniel Bowen [mailto:dbowen @]
Sent: 09 October 2000 22:58
To: Jenny <surname and e-mail address deleted – gee, I’m just spoiling everybody’s fun, aren’t I>
Subject: RE: shower gel

Dear Jenny,

Thank you for your enquiry about shower gel.

Shower gel was discovered in the mid 1700s by Spanish explorers making their way through the dense Amazon forest in South America. After several weeks without being able to wash, they found a waterfall and bathed in it. Concerned that they not damage their already dry skin by washing with the rudimentary soap they had with them, they found a tree nearby from which a sticky sap was obtained. With this sap they successfully kept their skin soft, smooth and moist, and were able to finish their expedition successfully, and brought some of the sap back with them to civilisation.

The chemical properties of shower gel are a closely guarded secret, not normally revealed by manufacturers. Obviously its sticky, glue-like qualities are what makes it so useful.

Although some artificial gel products are on the market, the best selling products are still entirely natural. Vast forests of sap producing trees are maintained on gel farms, for producing the large amounts of shower gel sold worldwide. Sap extracting robots have been developed to speed production. Retail prices vary widely, but the industry is considered to be quite profitable.

As far as safety goes, the product has had virtually no problems since gaining widespread popularity worldwide at the start of the 20th century. The only incident worth recalling was the case in 1937 of the woman in New Hampshire, USA, who placed a large amount of gel over her closed eyes, and left it there after finishing her shower. She left it on for 30 minutes, and it set, leaving her temporarily blinded until it could be removed using cutting equipment.

I trust this information proves useful, and thanks again for allowing me to write to you concerning a subject about which I know nothing at all.



Daniel Bowen, Melbourne, Australia dbowen @
Waste your time here: 

Just goes to show, you can’t believe everything you read on the Net.

I await her reply with interest.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.