Monthly Archives: April, 2010

Gerbil a go-go

All good things must come to an end. That is the way of things, even with gerbils.

On the surface things may seem to be unusually quiet here at G.R.I.P.E. HQ. After all, it has been some time since our last update. Outwardly all may appear to be proceeding swimmingly, but for those of us here living inside the eye of the storm I can now report that all is not well. There has been a spate of activity and sadly none of it has brought us any closer to finding a cure for FENS (False Empty Nest Syndrome).

A lot has happened since the last update and most of it, for now, must remain unreported. Perhaps the day will come when all can be told, but perhaps not.

The ending of which I speak is the major event that we refer to as the gerbil’s moving out day. All creatures big and small must make their own way in the universe and it is no different for the modern suburban gerbil. Eventually that day must come.

You might think that “moving out” would seriously alleviate the major symptoms of FENS and perhaps even go a long ways towards a permanent cure. Normally that would be a valid conclusion. But where gerbils are involved one must remain ever vigilant and remember to never underestimate the incredible range of gerbil behaviors.

Perhaps an anecdotal accounting will help illustrate:

After an escalating series of frustrating events involving the gerbil, most of which must remain unreported at this time, the gauntlet was finally thrown down.

The gerbil was kicked out of the nest and given a deadline one week in the future.

The week elapsed with no noticeable change in behavior. We could feel the week was building toward something but if the gerbil felt it too he gave no sign. As far as we could tell absolutely no preparations were made. No packing, no organizing, nothing at all even remotely visible to the naked eye.

Finally the big day arrived. I was overflowing with scientific curiosity. What was about to happen? How would events unfold? Myriads of possible scenarios went through my mind.

I have to admit what happened was unexpected and took me by surprise.

In a stark reversal of the normal pattern, the gerbil woke up early and cooked himself a meal. In another unusual move, the gerbil didn’t immediately leave the home. He simply lounged around the house all day. At lunch the meal cooking was repeated, then again at dinner. It was almost as if the gerbil was trying to pack away as much of our food as he could, perhaps as a going away present to himself, before hitting the road.

After dinner we kept waiting for some movement from the gerbil. We waited an hour. Then another. Then another still. Nothing ever happened. Finally we went to bed.

We didn’t know what the morning might bring. Would the gerbil persist? Would he skulk away under cover of darkness? An odd silence permeated our home as we tucked ourselves in and drifted off to sleep.

To be continued …

Feeling pooped out

Here’s today’s tip for maintaining your company’s image…

Do you work in a retail setting? Do you allow customers to use your toilet? If you can answer “yes” to both questions this post may be helpful to you.

Some places say “Restrooms for Customers Only.” Some places, like the place I work, say, “Poop ’em if you got ’em.”

My fellow employees and myself are a pretty elite crew. You might say we represent the best of the best. We’re like the “Top Gun” of shit. What I’m trying to say is, we know how to flush.

Most toilets I’ve ever seen have a handle or lever or other mechanism to activate flushing. This so-called “flushing” is a friend to most of us. It makes the bad stuff go “bye bye.”

Alas, not all customers are as worldly and savvy. True, they’ve pretty much learned no poopy in the pants, but that’s about as far as they have evolved. They are easily befuddled by mysterious objects and the unexplained, up to and including the handles on toilets. To be quite honest, I’m not quite sure how far this befuddlement extends. It may, in fact, go much, much further.

So my advice to those who care about their company’s image and allow customers to use the restroom is:

Get in there as soon as possible when the customer is done and make sure they … um … finished the job.

In the always changing world of “business” you want to make sure they took the process to its normal and logical conclusion. Yes, this means using the little handle. Oooh, swirlie!

You have to be proactive about this. You must double-check. Customers are involved so you can’t take anything for granted. Assuming that your customers are human may be a huge mistake on your part, and you don’t want other customers making the discovery and blaming your company. Maybe your customer was raised in the jungle like Mogli and likes to fling poop on the walls. If you fail to verify, your company’s image may take a hit.

Be proactive and don’t let the one who discovers what happened in there be anyone but you.

By the way, can you tell I’m not exactly the CEO around here? 🙂

Can you imagine working at a company where you have to worry about shit like this? Our customers are truly the best.

Having the best customers to service

Don’t you eyeball me, boy!

Who says you can’t have it all?

When you love what you do and you have the best customers in the whole world, that’s the proverbial “win-win.”

Oh yes, I’m one of the lucky ones. Because I’m the exact opposite of all that bullshit. I’m a 180 degrees kind of guy.

We’ve been open less than 20 minutes today and already I’m punching myself in the face for not owning an Uzi.

Outside on the wall by our front door is a 20′ sign that says the name of our business. Again, the little apostrophe indicates feet. As in: The sign is 20-fucking-feet big!

One minute after opening a customer walks in. This guy is ugly, dressed like an idiot, and based on appearance and smell, does not count Mr. Shower and Mrs. Soap amongst his friends.

Then he opened his mouth and demonstrated the power of his brain:

“Am I in the right place?”

Ah. That is the quintessential question we all ask ourselves, right? Why am I here? What is the meaning of life? Is this all there is?

No, his question was just a skosh simpler than that.

So many possible responses run through my head. One of the biggest, of course, is: “How the hell should I know? What in the name of fuck of all that’s holy are you looking for?” Let me consult my crystal ball that will allow me to look inside your head and see what you are thinking. Oops, it doesn’t work on things that small. Sorry.

His next question was even brighter:

“Is this Acme Corp?”

The bile was literally spilling out of my mouth by then. It had risen too high to remain contained. Gee whiz, asshole, what do you think? Did that fucking 20′ sign with our name on it give you any ideas? Why did you even pull into our parking lot, and by the way, how are you able to operate a motor vehicle? If this is an example of what the DMV issues licenses to we are all fucking doomed. Doomed I say! 2012 is apparently a euphemism for now.

I couldn’t help myself so I replied:

  • Dog grooming is down the street.
  • We don’t sell body odor.
  • If we converted your brain to gasoline it wouldn’t be enough to power a miniature motorcycle around the inside of a Cheerio.
  • Yeah, I hate dentists, too.

The worst part was, of course, that I had to stop dealing with my previous obliviot customer to help this guy. I had been right in the middle of processing ecommerce orders from our web site where customers do genius things like place multiple orders to the same shipping address.

Yes, sometimes customers want to buy more than one thing, so they do something like this:

  • Add first item to shopping cart
  • Click checkout
  • Enter billing, shipping, and payment information
  • Confirm shipping charge
  • Click submit order
  • Add second item to shopping cart
  • Click checkout
  • Enter billing, shipping, and payment information
  • Confirm shipping charge
  • Click submit order
  • Send angry email demanding to know why they were charged for shipping twice!

If you love shit, drop me a note sometime. Daily tours of the shithole I call “work” are available. Come see for yourself what the inside of an asshole looks like and personally shake my hand. (Don’t forget your disinfecting anti-bacterial wipes.)

Pulling a computer training

An Itty Bitty Machines (IBM) computer processing some Social Security data in the 1950s.
Image source: Social Security Online.

We here at AFAIK (the Abyss Facility for Advanced Information Knowledge) have decided to publish “online” to the interwebs some of the courses offered in our Information Technology with Specialization in Input Devices doctoral program. Enroll today and take advantage of offerings from our syllabus including:

  • Left mouse button and right mouse button – What’s the difference?
  • Single-click and double-click – Understanding situational context
  • Upgrading  – Why things no worky after five years of refusing to install software updates
  • Task switching – An introduction to the concept that applications don’t have to be completely shut down in order to do something else
  • Lateral Hand Movement Minimization – A focus on keyboard shortcuts to prevent “tennis elbow” caused by an excess of user hand movements between the keyboard and mouse
  • Folders and Directories – An overview of file saving techniques with an emphasis on locations other than the Desktop
  • ALT and CTRL – Extending their power with the knowledge that they do different things
  • Webcam 101 – With new online services such as Chatroulette gaining in popularity, this class covers essentials like plugging in the webcam, starting the browser, entering the web address, and targeting the camera at the crotch area (men only)
  • One-Handed Typing Proficiency – This class provides real-world skills that are essential in a myriad of real-world situations with a specific focus on those wishing to move on to government agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)

AFAIK graduates are highly sought after in all walks of life. Major accomplishments by our alumni are documented in IT and scientific journals and include feats such as calculating a sum from a column of numbers, drawing a happy face in Microsoft Paint, typing up to 10 different and hilarious “emoticons” and successfully locating a picture of a grandchild that was saved to disk more than seven days in the past.

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Survivor: Amanda sunk JT

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Yeah, this is about last week’s episode of Suvrivor. If you don’t like it, feel free to vote me out of the tribe.

The key moment that put the noose around JT’s neck, at least in my humble opinion and based on the editing of the episode, was the conversation between Amanda and Parvati.

Amanda knelt down and submitted to the Alpha Dog. Parvati was playing the game of Survivor. Amanda was doing something else, I’m not quite sure what. Maybe she was hoping to get some. Why not, everyone else seems to think Parvati is all that and a bag of chips. Personally when it comes to beauty I think Amanda leaves Parvati in the dust.

But in the game of Survivor, it was game on for Parvati and lost puppy dog eyes for Amanda. Parvati pressed hard and got exactly what she needed from Amanda. The truth. Parvati was able to know with certainty that she was safe. Amanda gave away the store in that conversation and as far as I can tell got nothing in return. No doubt she will be tossed aside when she is no longer useful.

Oh, JT, poor JT. Whatever made you think you could trust Russell? Why did you assume so much about a tribe where you literally had no information? I think it was a combination of wishful thinking and pure greed that let poor ole JT down the wrong path.

His plan may have actually had a snowball’s chance in hell if not for that conference between Parvati and Amanda. Unfortunately it will probably turn out to be one of the biggest blunders in Survivor history and JT will no doubt take the brunt of blame.

The key moment, though, remains Amanda’s manipulations at the hands of her Master. Amanda appears to be severely outclassed as far as the game is concerned and pretty much has cost herself any chance of winning. JT was just another causality of her mistake.

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Star Trek and Star Wars with a bit of poo poo

Today we have two readings, one from the book of Star Trek and one from the book of Star Wars.

Note: Those are two different things. Anyone who mixes up one with the other will incur my wrath. You have been warned.

First up, Star Wars …

The other day my wife had a Starbucks gift card so we did the Barnes and Noble thing. (The stores are literally joined at the hip.)

First I checked out some books on blogging. There wasn’t much there, but I did pick up some ideas. Then I just sort of wandered. Eventually a book by Carrie Fisher caught my eye. For the uninitiated she played Princess Leia Organa in Star Wars. The book is loosely a “memoir” but is actually just damn funny and cleverly entitled “Wishful Drinking.” Oh yeah.

This isn’t exactly breaking news. The book has been out since 2008. But this story was new to me and hopefully will be the same for you.

So I’m standing there in the bookstore flipping through pages as fast as possible. My goal is the first mention of Star Wars in the book. Yeah, I’m a geek. I found it and read a couple passages that really cracked me up. One was about George Lucas (the creator of Star Wars) being expressionless during filming of the original Star Wars movie. Fisher quipped something along the lines of THX being invented to provide Lucas with a new facial expression and also providing a cool sound effect. 🙂

The part that literally made me laugh out loud in the store, however, was something she wrote about the famous trash compactor scene. Anyone who has seen the original movie knows that after Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Chewbacca rescue Princess Leia from the cell block, Leia ends up blasting a hole and they all dive into what turns out to be a trash compactor full of icky space garbage.

During the scene Mark Hamill is attacked by a monster that the script referred to as a “dianaga,” a term which was never actually used in the movie. (Lucas often names characters like this, including names like Salacious Crumb.) Anyway, this dianaga creature lurks around a bit and then wraps around Luke Skywalker who disappears underwater while being strangled. What crazy fun!

Here’s what Fisher writes in her book about the filming of the scene:

“… in between takes of Mark simulating the strangulation, he would pick up a little piece of rubber trash and start singing (to the tune of ‘Chattanooga Choo-Choo’), ‘Pardon me, George, could this be Dianoga poo-poo?’ (Okay, I guess you had to be there.)

LOLOLOLOL! That one really got me. 🙂

Next up, Star Trek …

The power of technology to improve our daily lives never ceases to amaze me. Thank God at last we can tweet in Klingon.

Today is a good day to die, indeed!

And, if you want you can Tweet in Klingon, too!

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Se7en blog awards

I’m sure a question like this will sound extremely familiar to a lot of people who have been around the block a time or two.

If you were offered $1 million dollars or a penny doubled every day for a month (30 days), which would you choose?

The $1 million might sound like the best deal, but it’s not.

On day 1 you’d have a penny. On day 2 you’d have two pennies. Day 3 would be a whopping four cents. And it turns out that by day ten you’d have $5.12.

After that, however, things quickly begin to change.

Day 15 would be $163.84.

Day 20 would be $5,242.88.

On Day 28 something extremely interesting happens. You’d have $1,342,177.28, which is $340 thousand more than $1 million dollars.

On Day 30 you’d finally be done and you’d have over $5 million dollars. $5,368,709.12 to be exact. If you chose the sneaky penny doubling deal you’d end up approx. 5 times as happy. 🙂

Now all you have to do is sit around and wait for someone to offer you that deal.

I think a lot of us have probably heard some variation of this sort of thing before. The point is not subtle: Things that grow exponentially can get big very quickly.

I recently won a blog award and that got me thinking about this sort of thing. You see, the blog award has a rule that as a recipient of the award, you are asked to pass the award along to seven more bloggers.

See where I’m going yet? This is the exact same math problem, only instead of doubling per day it grows by seven times per interval.

Some assumptions we’ll make: The award will be passed on weekly to seven people. The following week each recipient will then pass the award on to seven more people. And so on and so on and so on. To keep things simple we’ll also make a rule that no one can receive the award more than once.

Week One starts with you and your award. Let’s assume you’re the first. Perhaps you invented the award and this silly little “chain letter” ruling in the first place! 🙂

Week Two you give the award to seven awesome peeps you know.

Week Three those seven people pass along the award to seven more people. That is 7 x 7 which means 49 people now have the award.

On Week Four those 49 people each give out 7 more awards. That is 49 x 7 or 343 people.

By Week Nine it would be about 9 million blogs.

Week 11 would be about 282 million blogs. It is interesting to note that as of Feb. 2010 WordPress estimated there were about 22 million blogs using WordPress software. That includes those hosted on and stand-alone software installations on other web servers.

Week 12 would be about 2 billion blogs. Week 13 approaches 14 billion blogs, which almost twice the people on planet earth. Week 14 is about 97 billion blogs. By Week 16 there would be about 5 trillion blogs to receive the award.

Going any further is just too darn silly, but I can tell you that by Week 30 the exact number of blog award winners under this scenario would be:


That’s a number so big I don’t even know how to describe it. My best guess would be 22,539 trillion trillion. Another way might be to say 22.5 septillion blogs. (A septillion is a 1 followed by 24 zeros.) For comparison it is estimated that the Death Star would have cost about $15.6 septillion. That’s about 1.4 trillion times the U.S. national debt. Meh.

I can say this much, though, with 100 percent certainty. Some people have clearly not been fulfilling their obligations to forward these “pass it on” type awards like they are supposed to! 🙂

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