October 21, 2002

You might have seen yesterday's User Friendly, which suggests one way to get rid of AOL CDs. It stems, no doubt, from the newsmakers heralded in this CNN article who are planning to collect a million AOL CDs, render them unplayable, and send them back to AOL. I mean, we ALL get these discs from time to time, and folks like you and I have put forth hundreds of creative ways to dispose of them. (I'm partial to microwaving them on 'high' for three seconds, super-gluing them back-to-back, and making a shiny wind-chime out of them. Mostly this is because I like shiny things.)

This time, however, I've opted not only to KEEP the AOL disc I got, but to actually USE it. Those nefarious uber-capitalists over at AOL have finally convinced me. And I'm sure they're using my wife's idea.

Several months ago we were throwing away an AOL DVD, but keeping the box. Sandra said "It sure would be nice if there were a MOVIE on this disc. Still, I'm happy to have the box."

Well, Friday she went out to buy some Lucky Charms (the top-rated cereal among mormon missionaries-in-training, as well as among BYU students in the dorms), and what should she find fastened to the inside of the box? A DVD for "The Great Muppet Caper." Granted, it's not movie fare we would have paid money for, but affixed to cereal we're buying anyway it's free, right?

TANSTAAFL. That's acronymic for "There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch," and the quote and acronym, rightly attributed here to Robert Heinlein, apply nicely to my "free" DVD. It's got AOL subscription software on it, as well as an AOL commercial preceding the feature. Still, the cost to me is low enough that I'm keeping the DVD and calling it good. My kids like the movie, and they don't have credit cards (much to the chagrin of the robber barons at AOL).

The irony is that THIS disc came without a box, and I can't find the AOL DVD box we were intent on saving last time. Fate is cruel, even though I'm sure she means well.