11.23.2005

Comments

Hi. uh... We just noticed that we had the comment thingy locked down real tight so no one could post anything unless they gave a DNA sample. So we had a guy click on something and maybe it did something. If it did something other than what we thought the something would do, we'll do something else.

Sillybear Inc. Tech Support Team Alpha J-2
Sillybear Inc.
A division of Nabisco

Happy Thanksgiving 2005

It's an early post for the Turkey Day Holiday so we can all get off the computer and spend some time with other humans.

For your holiday cheer, I want to share a Thanksgiving story that happened last week. A local ministry group was hosting a Thanksgiving meal for the International students at the University. This was going to be a great time to meet and welcome the students; a time to teach them about American Thanksgiving and learn about their culture to see if there was anything similar. (Who knows? You know? Because I can tell you I don't - at least not right now) Well anyway, that’s what was supposed to happen, but my experience turned out differently.

Once we got there, we saw a wonderful setup and there was food everywhere. This was going to be fun and yummy - no doubt. Upon the start someone grabbed my arm and said “we need help carving turkeys.” No problem. I enjoy helping out and look forward to doing it when I can. Leaving my wife at a table of Ukranian friends, I approach the scene and quickly assess the situation. The eating of turkey was about to commence and we had 12 turkeys, 6 people, and 4 knives already starting their surgery. I attempted to do some math in the sense of an equation.

If you have 200 people who each will eat 4 ounces of meat and you have 6 people carving at roughly 1 ounce every 3 minutes, and the average consumption rate at the buffet line is .25 ounces a minute, how long do you have before people start complaining?

Unfortunately, if I was going to sit down with pen and paper at this moment, the other volunteers would stare at me in disbelief not knowing that my calculations would be a boon to their task, but since I’m bad at math I dived into the turkeys.

Ah, the knife problem - or I should say, "problem of knife lackage." Yes. Upon inspection of the utensils available, we saw that carving knives were indeed lacking. There were plenty of serving spoons that could have been sharpened, but the lack of a stone grinder prohibited this line of thinking. I had been watching a lot of MacGyver lately and the brief thought of rigging a box fan to a screen door to produce a turkey-o-matic processor did pop into mind, but I chose a more rational line of thinking considering our impressionable guests. A journey to the buffet line produced two things: a sense of awe at the amount and variety of food and treats and a group of plastic forks and knives. Equipping myself with plenty of supplies for myself and my fellow knifeless carvers, I journey back and plunge with new resolve and hope into my first turkey. If my plasticware could talk, they probably would have said “Dude, what are you doing? Are you high? We’re plastic!” To which I would have said “I know boys, but these people depend on us, I’m with you in this to the end.” To which they would have said "You are high! You're talking to plasticware." And then I would deny it repeatedly and the organizer would then ask me to sit down at a table away from everyone. But the knife and fork didn't say a word - which is probably for the best for all three of us.

The interesting thing about turkey is that within a short period of a few minutes, you can go from craving it with mouth a-waterin’ and then be entirely repulsed by it as if it were camel spit in a matter of minutes. Luckily, my inability to eat the turkey due to duty staved off this effect. My new friends volunteering were an inexperienced lot and I wasn’t much better, but speed was essential and “careful cuts along the grain” was long abandoned to “meat-off-bone-now!” We all came to the realization that turkeys are made out of a lot of turkey. Just when you think you carved enough out of it, there was a whole section untouched, mocking you. We were convinced we were carving demon turkeys that were respawning in their own juices, rebuilding their tasty morsels to ungodly strengths to eventually take control of us all. Either that or we were just not as diligent as we thought we were. It was around my second turkey that my equation from before broke down since I did not consider the “dark meat” factor. People started coming to our carving table for fresh warm dark meat. This was fine, because they were going to get turkey anyway sooner or later – why not here? It was learned quite quickly that turkey was being consumed at a much larger rate that previously estimated. My equation, if applied, would have generated a turkey deficit that future generations would still be paying off, not to mention a “dark meat” quotient that would send energy prices soaring.

Sorry grandkids, Papa only had a plastic knife.

But at the end of all things, we had (when combined) 3 turkeys left over and nothing else. I retreated with some dark meat that was no longer appealing (through no fault of its own) and bits of corn left from the demolished buffet line and partook in some great fun with our Ukrainian friends. Even though the festivities were almost over I was able to reflect on what I was thankful for. I was thankful to help and thankful to be around some great people. Most of all, I was thankful for the existence of ham.

11.18.2005

New Horizons in Food (for me anyway)

I had my first pork rind this week. While waiting in checkout lines, I like looking at the displays nearby, with all the tabloids and candy and soap opera digests and then there's the beef jerky and the pork rinds. I'm always curious about beef jerky and pork rinds, but I don't want to go "down a notch" by actually buying them in front of my wife when we go shopping. So I bought them at work.
Not knowing what I was getting myself into, I paid 60 cents for a small package of Crispy Porkies® Fried Pork Rinds. The mascot was the head of a very excited cartoon pig in a chef's hat with a "Come on! It's fun!" expression on his/her face. Since the ingredients said only "Pork Skins and Salt" I figured I was getting a real deal. No artificialness at all. Maybe in this case it wouldn’t have been a bad idea. After holding one in my fingers, you do get a sense of "don't do it" because it doesn't really resemble anything one would commonly consume. Maybe a deformed cheese puff that hasn't been "cheesed" yet, but that's it.
After eating one, I got the feeling that I've been had. Mostly that it has the volume of a polystyrene packing peanut - hardly any substance to justify a markup to 60 cents. And then the flavor ... well, not what you'd expect. I'll admit that I didn't know what to expect, but whatever I did expect wasn't what I actually experienced. I ate half the bag to try to figure out if I liked it or not. Too actually go through such a process would indicate that I didn't like them. And now my stomach is agreeing to that logic. I have thrown the rest away giving up on wondering how to regain 30 cents of my investment.

Someday I'll try the beef jerky...

11.11.2005

James Bond - Worst. Spy. Ever.

It's November and it's usually around this time that a new James Bond film comes out every other year. There isn't one this year so you can safely say that I don't give into hype that much. Or you could just say "Why are you talking about it now?" I really don't know, it was just on my mind.

Some would consider James Bond to be the greatest spy character of all time, but this is clearly and undeniably wrong. The mere fact that we know his name excludes him from this category. Generally, a spy is someone who assumes an alias, infiltrates the enemy “sector,” gathers intelligence and then leave without a trace to report his findings to his (or her) superiors in cold, drab executively gray offices. James Bond accomplishes none of this. First, he doesn’t assume an alias. In fact, he makes it a point that you fully understand his identity. “My name is Bond, James Bond. That is my name is James Bond. First name James, last name Bond B-O-N-D. I will be your spy this evening.”

Secondly, his infiltrating is mostly done on women rather than the enemy headquarters. Sure, he could say that he needs her to get close to the enemy, but … James, really – every mission? When Jimmy finally gets around to the enemy compound, he is usually captured, bound and led to the head boss-evil-guy. Now, this could be his intention, but routine is always risky – especially in his line of work. One would think word would get around on Henchmen websites or Diabolical Leader Forums to inform others that if a guy introduces himself as “Bond, James Bond” just pull out your gun and get it over with and not to play verbal chess with a dude who has a laser in his watch. Nevertheless, Jimbo bites and claws his way out only to realize that there are roughly 23,000 fiercely loyal security guards after him. He should not be surprised by this. Nor is he. In fact, he shows no concern for his mission or his surroundings. The number one goal now is for him to stay alive – no matter the cost. During his routine “escapes” he tends to rack up 14 to 28 million bucks in damages – not to mentions the billions of “missed” bullets from both parties hitting innocents off screen as they chase each other on impossibly durable snowmobiles in downtwon Paris in mid-June. Think of the savings he could have had if he had employed the most basic of spy techniques that my wife uses daily.

1. Be cute – This is in and of itself an alias. Who could not trust those sweet pretty eyes, button nose and sunshiny smile?
2. Listen to your surroundings. My wife can hear me chew from the other room. Granted, it’s not that hard to hear me eat, but it’s important to pay attention to who’s around you.
3. Don’t get caught. Do you see my wife being chased by enemy agents? No, James, you don’t. Maybe if you held your cards a little closer to your chest, your insurance deductible wouldn’t be so high.

My confusion with all this is that the English government keeps using James Bond for the most sensitive assignments. How they try to justify his wanton abandonment of stealth and secrecy is beyond me. My only consolation is that when he is helicoptering his skis off a cliff in a bright yellow snowsuit, he is more of a target than my wife who would have already found the “Scoripo Missile Codes” on a Google internet search.

11.04.2005

An Audience of One


At no other time in history has an invention made people more rude and invasive into the privacy of one’s own world than the telephone. Well, maybe the leaf blower, but much has been said about that already by others. The word “telephone” comes from the Sanskrit root words “tele” which means “bringer” and “phone” which means “of evil and terrible things that will take away everything you hold dear.”
Yes, the telephone revolutionized the world, but it also revolutionized rudeness. This rudeness is subtle, because it happens all the time and it is hoped by the by the rude-ers that it will be accepted by the rude-ees. This rude behavior is displayed when a person representing someone (or something!) dials random numbers to talk to people they don’t know to get them to do something they most likely don’t want to do. Ah yes! You guessed it! I am talking about telemarketing, BUT I am not going to rant about how evil the practice is as much as how to deal with it.

“ONLY SAY HELLO ONCE”

The first path to take is not to get involved. You may pick up a ringing phone and say “hello” once and then if someone doesn’t answer right away – HANG UP QUICKLY! I have warned my friends and family that they should constantly scream my name after they dial my number just so my swift reflexes don’t cut them off. Those that constantly stay on the phone and say “hello” just deserve to get money sucked out of them, because this is what happens:

(Computer dials phone number)
(Phone rings)
Honest Hard Working American: Hello?
(Computer picks up signal that someone answered)
HHWA: Hello?
(Computer relays call to National Telemarketing Firm of Evil)
HHWA: Hello? Is anyone there?
(NTFofE gets notice of call and relays notice to one of their thousands upon thousands of underlings)
HHWA: Hellooooooooo?
(An underling gets the notice and screeches of joy from surrounding underlings of “We got one!” are loud and devilish until the underling of choice quiets them down.)
Underling: Yessss. Iz Mizter Smith available? gollum
HHWA: This is he.
Underling: (suppressing joy) Mizter Smith, I am authorized to offer you a credit card with a
50% APR, a $25 annual fee, with a credit line of up to $4. Now, I need to confirm your information that you live at . . .

The conversation goes into the Underling telling Mr. Smith everything about himself, like some sort of freelance psychic forcing his craft on you. This is largely passed up as normal and very legal. What one should do is say phrases like:

“How did you get this number??” and “How did you know that? Who do you work for?!!!!!”
It is important to sound as paranoid as possible. If they continue to talk to you, try shouting away from the phone saying:

“Riley! Johnson! We gotta move! We’ve been located! GO!” and then hang up OR add the following Hollywood-sounding vendetta:

"So, you found us, huh Jackson? Well, we’ll see who will be laughing when the Alatarzycophlox is activated! Tell your partner I hope he enjoyed his CHEESEBALL! Bwaa Ha Ha Haaaaaaa!!!!”


“DO NOT USE CREDIBLE THREATS”

Do not mention actual existing weapons such as bombs, mines or guns. Also, only say something that is pretty vague that could be taken several different ways. There is no need to have your phone number flagged by the NSA and a government kill-truck on route to your door. It’s just not worth it.

Now, if you have time and you are ready (which most of us don’t and aren’t) you can entertain the person of the other side with your keen wit and charm to annoy them to no end. Telemarketers are trained to talk fast and to keep you from saying as much as possible, so whenever they *have* to let you answer, begin this way: (Country accent optional) “Well, gee, this is a coincidence, because I was just talking to Marge and she said that she got a call like this about two weeks ago. At first I didn’t believe her that someone would just randomly call her and offer her a credit card, because after the Ackersons moved out of her duplex, she got into a lot of money problems, but the compensation checks from the Workman’s Comp agency did really well to help keep her on her feet after the accident that tore her rotator cuff and …”
It is extremely important to try to keep this up in a constant stream of banter because any sudden stop will invite them to interrupt. Now it is possible to interrupt them back by saying “I wasn’t finished!” but they will most likely ignore you can give you a 1-800 number to call if you are interested in what they have.

“REPEAT THE NUMBER INCORRECTLY”

After getting it right after the third time, say (sans country accent) “Hey wait! That spells out 1-800-HOT-CHIK, just what kind of thing are you trying to pull, I lead a Sunday school class for crying out loud! You aught to be AH-SHAAAAMED of yourself, MIS-TER Onion Picklesworth!” At this point, you don’t have to hang up, but I recommend it. Sometimes, if you’re strong enough, you can try to go for their reaction as your reward, but you will most likely be disconnected when you start tittering. It’s a much better end if the freak (you) leave first in the whole cannon of the conversation.

You can then hope that your confrontation with the underling will discourage them from such a line of work and maybe take up a more dignified profession such as Professional Wrestling or wearing costumes in front of Auto Dealerships.