12/30/2010

Corporate Survival Guide: The Holiday Party

On the battlefield, the importance of entertaining the troops is paramount; always keep the guys with the guns happy. Without this goal and the USO, how else could we have kept Bob Hope overseas and off of our television shows for as long as we did?

The corporate battlefield is no different; the soldiers of bureaucracy must occasionally be entertained by the company, to keep their spirits high, their attitude productive, and their guns at home.

Thus comes the annual holiday party at work. This affair can range widely in the particulars. At the low end, it might be a stilted and awkward gathering in a break room to have a carefully-rationed glass of the cheapest box wine available. On the high end, it can be a lavish, stilted and awkward orgy of booze and food that makes you wonder if you're in the right place. Either way works; as long as there's alcohol to help you forget your pathetic existence in the cube farms for an evening, it's better than crying yourself to sleep on the floor of your mother's kitchen. Again.

But the real question for the corporate warrior is: how can you use the situation to your advantage? The savvy soldier always looks for the opportunity to strike the killing blow, and having all of your peers and managers in festive spirits is the perfect time. Here are some strategic party tips:

Helpful Holiday Hints

1) Drink Far Too Much
First of all, realize that they are giving this food away, and a good solider always packs in the free stuff.

But more importantly for your career, it's critical that your management see you diving head-first into the walls of opportunity that they provide for their employees.
You could say, "Oh, I don't drink," which would appear socially responsible. But it would also come off as aloof and, frankly, tedious. Unless they asked you here to drive everyone else home, do you really think they want to hear about your abstention habit?

You could also simply have one drink to appear social. But that's not much better; they didn't provide all of this free booze just to see it politely consumed. They might as well have offered candy bars or breath mints; where's the fun in seeing everyone sip quietly?

No, the alcohol is provided for one purpose and one purpose only. Okay, two. One of the reasons is that they want to give the outward appearance of having provided something nice to the staff, so that you'll remember the $4 bottles of wine the next time they ask you to stay late off the clock. But the main reason is that they want a party. Alcohol, like jello, is a social lubricator, designed to loosen lips and break down stuffy barriers. If they'd wanted a polite conversation, they'd have offered crackers. No, they want an all-out rave. So give them one that everyone will remember, even if you don't.

So help them out; get completely schnockered.

2) Booze schmooze
Networking with your co-workers is best done when you're drunk. For one thing, they will see you as companionable, fun, and harmless, which is exactly how you want them to feel as you undermine their careers to further your own interests. Also, you probably won't remember these conversations the next day, so you don't have to clutter your mind or memory with them and can focus on the important things going forward: managing your career and curing that splitting headache.

3) Suck it up
As always, the most important thing for you to do is to find the nearest executive and suck up to them. Being drunk helps with this critical task, because it breaks down inhibitions and enables you to say things that you otherwise might not, like "Thank you [wipe tear away] for being such a great leader this year!", and "What a great Christmas sweater!," and possible "Sorry for throwing up on your great Christmas sweater!"

If the opportunity arises, don't be afraid to get into a fight to defend the honor of an executive. Pretend that a co-worker says something offensive about the company and take a swing at the detractor before they know what's happening. Your managers will be impressed at your willingness to defend the corporation, even to the point of getting completely beaten up, as will surely happen in your drunken state.
It is important, as you suck up in your inebriated state, to remember to do this with the Right People. Don't waste your compliments on mere co-workers. Likewise for the hat stand, mistaken for your boss in the dim office lighting.

4) Pass out
Your management will know that you completely enjoyed and appreciated the party when you pass out in the guacamole dip. It will be clear that you not only had a great time, but that you prefer the socially acceptable result of sleeping it off at work instead of driving home drunk. Besides, you will get credit for sleeping at the office and pulling an all-nighter (be sure to submit the overtime request to Payroll).
Put this strategy to use as you navigate the treacherous waters of this year's holiday parties. I think you'll be amazed at what will happen to your career. At the very least, you can be happy that you maximized the free booze benefit. And if you did make a complete fool of yourself, at least the alcohol guarantees that you won't have to suffer memories of the debacle.

12/26/2010

Little Joke for Sunday

Do married women gain weight in their thighs, or are those just old wives’ tails?

12/18/2010

Holiday Spirit

Christmas is such a great time of year, not least of which because of the fantastic music you hear on every radio station, and in every store, and during every on-hold phone experience. I just wish they would start playing these charming ditties sooner, like in May instead of June.

Here's one of my favorites, faithfully transcribed for you from one of the most memorable California musicals:

Wet Christmas

I'm dreaming of a wet Christmas,
Just like the one we had last year.
With the rain not stopping, the children sopping,
And more in the forecast, we hear.

I'm dreaming of a wet Christmas,
With every sniffle wiped away.
May your days be dismal and gray
And may rain drops fall on every day.

12/13/2010

When I am King: Holiday Treedition

When I am King...

All Christmas trees will be fake.

It's such a wonderful time of year, Christmas. Or Hanukkah, if you prefer. Or as some might call it, December.

In any case, it's a great month: a time full of family tradition. One of the best traditions must certainly be the decorating of the tree. You head out with the brood to the nearest old-growth forest, choose the best tree you can find that fits onto the roof of your Prius, and play the Merry Woodcutter to chop that baby down. You drive home, singing Christmas Carols (or Hanukkah Hymns, if you prefer). Once home, you bustle that tree into the corner, where it radiates with a fresh pine smell reminding everyone of the forest it called home until you killed it. Then you make hot chocolate, spiced cider, and mulled wine, get the boxes of ornaments down, and spend the evening in happy harmony, decorating, being together, and spending happy moments that will live in unviewed digital photographs on a hard drive for millennia to come.

Or:

You drive to one of the tree vendors in town, park in the overcrowded lot, wind your way through mobs of other shoppers around bundles of tree corpses that are trussed-up and toe-tagged with prices, and choose the tree that looks like the best combination of (1) fits under the ceiling, (2) not too many gaping holes and dead branches, (3) not too obviously desiccated, and (4) painfully expensive but not as much as some. You tie the tree on top of the car where it proceeds to scratch the paint in its death-throes, cart it home, drag it into the house (laying a carpet of dead needles along the way), muscle it into a tree stand, and prop it up in the corner where it begins to fall into disrepair immediately. Then begins the decorating, which starts with untangling the strings of lights and realizing that none of them light up due to dead bulbs. Meanwhile, the only smell from the tree remotely like pine is pee from your dog, who decided that an inside tree is still a tree.

The glorious tradition of felling a Christmas tree in nature, if it ever really existed, is gone like so many other past-times of yore, such as the hoop-and-stick game, or sitting by the wireless listening to the Billy and Edith Hour, Brought to You by Acme Soap.

And so we bought a fake tree.

For the past three years, our family tradition has consisted of finding the box, removing the tree from it, putting it together, and plugging it in. Done. A few minutes after that, the ornaments are on and there's actually time to have a glass of mulled wine or five.

When I am King, life will be more real by being more fake. Christmas trees are just the first step: Why stop there? If we replace the trees in our yards with replicas, we won't need to worry about leaves in the gutter. Fake plants in the garden will go a long way toward eliminating weeding. And artificial turf in place of our lawns will provide year-round green without all of that fuss. And all of these measures will ensure a more natural looking outdoors as global warming slowly kills off the real foliage.

Tradition will live on, of course. For example, we will watch the same Christmas shows every year. Just turn on the tube, and there they are. Next to the plugged-in tree. Instant tradition.

12/03/2010

When I am King: DesigNation

When I am King...

We will all have designated victims for the activities of our lives.

I was at a dinner recently with a group of friends, none of whom drink. The waitress set the bottle of wine down on the far end of the table, where it sat lonely and untouched until I got up and fetched it.

It turns out that I was the designated drinker for the evening. There were 6 people, out for a raucous night on the town, but they needed was someone to do the partying vicariously for them. I was happy to oblige.

In the olden days (a phrase which means a time before I can remember which, for me, means more than three weeks ago), princes of the realm would have their own whipping boy. When the prince was naughty, the punishment would fall on the whipping boy instead of the prince himself. Pretty sweet deal, at least for the prince.

Then there's the designated driver concept, where a group of friends want to be irresponsibly drunk without actually dying, so they choose a lesser friend to be the chauffeur for the evening. Note that this approach to partying is not quite as successful as my designated drinker strategy because the drink must be shared amongst the whole group.

When I am King, we will embrace and extend these means of delegation. For example, why reserve the whipping boy concept for princes (or Kings)? We should allow everyone to designate scapegoats for their failures.

We could use a similar approach for the information overload that we all experience. Think how wonderful it would be if we could designate others to receive our mail, read our email, pay our bills, and have meaningful dialogs with our partners about communication in our relationship. Meanwhile, we could be doing our part toward this effort, playing someone's designated drinker, or at least practicing for the role.

11/11/2010

When I am King: Bringing Up Upbringing

When I am King...

There will be no more parenting.

Today, I wanted to talk about the most important job of adults. No, not emailing YouTube links at work. I'm talking, of course, about parenting.

In our real jobs, the ones we get paid to do, we provide products or services or additional layers of unhelpful bureaucracy to our clients. But in parenting, we are imparting the rules of life itself not only to our children, but, indirectly, to everyone that they will interact with and every generation that they parent. So, in effect, as a parent you have a significant impact on the entire future of our planet.

At the same time, parenting is the job that we are the most unqualified to do.

For the job that pays the bills and provides the stress and adrenaline that keeps us going until retirement, when we'll simply expire from exhaustion and relief, we spend years getting ready and our entire working life perfecting the necessary skills. First there are the 12-ish years of primary education where we learn such important skills as hiding from bullies and sucking up to the teacher. Following that, we optionally head off to college, where we learn to drink heavily without dying. And we may even continue on in graduate studies, focusing in on particular areas of study, such as learning how to live below the poverty level for indefinite periods of time.

After this decade or two of education, we're finally ready to enter the job market. But we don't start out delivering finished products to users. Instead we train and act as part of a team, honing our skills over the years before we actually take on any semblance of responsibility or ownership in our field. So it can be many years more before we are trusted in our capabilities enough to unleash our output onto our users.

And in some fields, such as software, there is a high tolerance for failure. After all, if the 1.0 version is awful, there is always 2.0 next year, or 3.0 the year after that. Upgrades are a way of life.

But the job of parenting is given to us for the simple reason that we happen to be the oldest person in the group. That's like having the pilot of the airplane be the person seated closest to the cockpit. Or the designated driver be the one that's the least passed-out on the floor of the bar. Or the elected official be the one with the most money. No, scratch that last one; that is the way politics works.

I think the theory is that we're trained to be parents because we grew up. That's like saying that I'm a good fighter because I've been beaten up.

In parenting, the very tools that train you are themselves the products of your ineptness. You're not just screwing up a prototype; it's the product itself that suffers. That child holds every nuance of your failures in their very being, learning from your mistakes to grow up and make them all over again with their children, passing along the mistakes of their ancestors for generations to come.

If you have more than one child, you could think of the first one as the flawed first version, and the second child as a better 2.0 product, except that you aren't allowed to pull the 1.0 version off of the shelves. The second one isn't an upgrade from the first; they're both out in the market for life. Besides, are you really that confident of what you've learned with the first child that you think you'll nail it better with the second one? All you've learned is how you can make some things easier for yourself the second time around, like how long you can let that diaper go without causing too much of a rash or public health hazard. It's not clear that any of the mistakes you made the first time have taught you how to not make them next time around. In fact, you probably won't really understand the mistakes until the project is finished and you see the resulting adult that you helped create.

And we wonder why teenagers lack respect for their parents? That's just the age at which they realize the awful truth.

When I am King, we'll leave parenting up to the experts: nobody. There will be no more children, no more parenting, and, eventually, no more human race. Sure, it's an extreme solution, but think of the larger benefits: more free time and money to try fill that hollow emptiness in our lives, and the eventual recovery of the planet from our incessant existence.

11/02/2010

Electile Dysfunction

In honor of, or despite, election day here in the US:

It's no coincidence that Halloween is so close to election day. They're almost the same:
  • Both are about the candy-dates
  • Both cause complete strangers to knock on your door and ask you for things
  • Both feature creepy monsters
  • Everyone's glad when they're over
On the whole, I find Halloween much easier to take. At least we only have to live with the mistakes of that night for the next day, until our digestion recovers. But election results are with us for years.

10/25/2010

Putting the Fun back in Funeral

Just in time for Halloween...


Bob's Mortuary:
Putting the 'fun' back in funeral


10/19/2010

Things I Believe

That which does not kill us makes us whiny.

Better safe than sorry. Which is exactly what the safecracker told the judge.

All things must pass. Except that chicken bone, which you really shouldn't have swallowed in the first place.

Actions speak louder than words, unless you use a PA system.

Absynthe makes the hearth grow flounder.

A watched pot never boils, but a watched boil is gross.

10/14/2010

Geek Jokes 0000 1010: Be of Good Cheer

I figure the whole reason that geeks have avoided sports all these years is because we didn't have the right motivation.

That and we kept getting beat up.

I'm hoping that this rousing set of cheers will help, at least with the motivation part.

Two bits four bits, six bits, a byte.
C'mon team, let's write, write, write code!

1 byte, 2 bytes, 3 bytes, a word.
C'mon crowd, let's make ourselves extremely audible!

Megabyte, gigabyte, terabyte of RAM
As much memory as we can cram
into our servers.


Gimme an O!
Gimme an X!
Gimme an F!
Gimme another F!
What's that spell?
255!


For the other factor, getting beat up, I suggest curling up in a fetal position. It doesn't stop the beating, but it does help protect your laptop.

10/04/2010

Halloweenies

Squash is the only food which I was forced to eat in my childhood which I still cannot enjoy. Unless you count eggplant. And dirt.

So the fact that we spend a month of the year, leading up to Halloween, celebrating it makes me overjoyed, of course. The fact that it's actually a celebration of the effectively inedible, and generally uneaten, pumpkin variety makes it perfect. What better way to eradicate squash from our diet than by picking as many varieties as we can find and letting them sit around on our porches until they wither and die a horrible, moldy death? Or, more likely, until they get kicked in or thrown in the street on Halloween night (probably by kids who share my feelings toward them).

So it's a mystery how I found myself in a pumpkin farm this weekend. I'm pretty sure it has something to do with this fundamental fact of parenthood: what you enjoy has nothing to do with it.

Regardless, I thought I'd document some of the things I saw for posterity:


Teenager



Feeling out of place



Inverse pumpkin


Gourdgeous


No caption: I just like the picture


Haycorn squash


Hemorrhoids


Bone marrows


Humpkins


Pumpkin kin


Another corny caption

Finally, I couldn't help bringing this one back from several years ago in Russia, posted on a blog far, far away:


Waterfelons

10/01/2010

Minor Jokes for Friday

Every year in California, elementary school children study an important element in our history. In other places, students might study the history of their country or important elements of world history and how it relates to their lives. But here in California, our kids study the gold rush. That's right: money, greed, and the founding of a state by the hapless individuals who fell for that marketing trap.

And we wonder at the superficiality of Los Angeles?

In tribute to this annual reflection on our greedy past, I offer these minor miner jokes:


Q: What’s are the three rules of finding gold?
A: Mine, mine, mine.

Q: Why did the miner take a balloon ride in a thunderstorm?
A: He heard that every cloud has a silver lining.

Q: Why did the miner stay in California instead of moving north?
A: Because he didn’t like the sound of a place called “Ore-gone”

Q: Why are so many gold-diggers children?
A: Because it’s the only profession open to minors.

Q: What do you call the diggers with no clothes on?
A: Strip miners.

Q: Why does everyone love gold?
A: You can’t help but dig it.

Q: Why did the student pan for gold all night long?
A: His mother told him, “You’d better finish your homework, ore else!”

Q; Why was silver more popular than gold?
A: Everyone dug the silver, but panned the gold.

Q: Why couldn’t the miner ever find gold?
A: He looked and looked, but searched in vein.

Q: What did they call the miner that threw himself down his mine shaft?
A: A claim jumper.

9/27/2010

When I am King: Thank You for Reading!

When I am King...

Appreciation will be more automated.

I filled up my car at the gas station recently. When I finished the transaction at the pump, the machine asked me whether I wanted a receipt. When I hit the 'No' button, it told me to 'Please wait', and then a few seconds later it said 'Thank you!'

So not only did the machine feel grateful to me, but it wanted me to hang around waiting for it to get up the courage to say so. Why it took several seconds to get around to it, I don't know. Maybe it was shy, or spent time in some complicated algorithm to determine the appropriate parting sentence. Or maybe it considered cursing me instead, then felt better of it and left it at 'Thanks' instead.

In any case, it's clear that the machine appreciated my business with heartfelt digital joy.

Similarly, when I use the ATM, the computer is always happy to see me, using such statements as "How can I help you today?" and always signing off with "Thanks - we appreciate your business!"

I'm sure that we all enjoy this sort of camaraderie with computers and love hearing how they feel, especially when they feel good about us. How many of the humans that we interact with during the day say such pleasing and obsequious things?

Unfortunately, people are far more complicated and, frankly, depressing. A simple and rhetorical "How are you?" greeting may at any time end up in a discussion of that person's problems instead of just the simple "Hello" that you were hoping for. A transaction in a store could end up in a tedious conversation about the weather. And I don't know the last time I had the pleasure of an ATM transaction with a person; I challenge you to take money from someone and have them respond, "Thank you!" You'll be lucky if they don't call the cops.

When I am King, we will have more of these automated suck-up conversations, starting with the rest of the machines in our lives. Our cars, now equipped with useless information in the dashboard like average MPH, engine RPMs, and the fuel gauge, will instead display perky messages about how happy they are to take us places and how awesome we are in general. Traffic lights will display messages, like "Thank you for stopping!", "Thank you for going!", and, in the yellow light, "Thank you for speeding up!". ATMs will be joined by toilets in thanking us for making a deposit. And automated jail cells will thank us for staying there, wishing us a pleasant stay after another unsuccessful attempt to get some appreciation from a person by taking their wallet.

9/20/2010

Words to Live By

It's a Sunday afternoon. You're sitting around at home, wondering what to do. Should you scold the children for setting fire to their clothes hamper, or should you finally fix the leak in the bathroom that's causing septic seepage down the hallway?

Or should you, instead, fret about the state of the world? The world doesn't seem to be doing very well on its own, so it could probably stand to have some commiseration and ineffective pondering on the part of all people.

Floods, gas pipe explosions, incompetent politicians, celebrities with a blood-alcohol level higher than their IQ; these are the critical topics that occupy our thoughts until we finally turn on the TV to once again numb our mind into submission.

It's at times like this that the immortal words of Elton John come back to me:
And Jesus, he wants to go to Venus,
Leaving Levon far behind.
Take a balloon and go sailing,
While Levon, Levon slowly dies.
May we all find our own balloon. And go to Venus. Without Levon.

9/17/2010

Little Jokes for Friday

I wonder:
Does a vampire poet go from bat to verse?
Should a mortuary for couples be called "His and Hearse"?
Does getting hit with a handbag result in lips that are pursed?
Is the last of these rhymes much weaker than the first?

9/11/2010

Speaking of the book...

(This is a repost from my geek blog. Content from that other site doesn't normally show up here; it's far too hilarious for this serious forum. But I thought this one was worth cross-posting).

I ran across my new book, Flex 4 Fun, in the wild this weekend and managed to get some photographs. I thought that it might help you to understand how you might benefit from the book. Here are some ways that others have found it useful.

First of all, the book makes a lovely objet d'art, and was being displayed alongside other great works of art when I encountered it here:



It also makes a nice decoration for some household areas, such as this aquarium:



This person apparently found the code recipes useful in the kitchen:



At 280+ pages, the book is a perfect size for some household tasks, such as leveling this piece of furniture:



A good graphics algorithm is always music to the ears:



This family apparently found the book more interesting to watch on a Friday night than television or a movie:



And of course the book looks great on a bookshelf, where it fits naturally with both the great works of literature:



and the less great works of children's literature:



But the book won't stay on that kids' shelf for long:




Even the family pet may enjoy the book - everyone wants to be an RIA developer:



And finally, this Flex developer was so excited by the book's arrival that he bought two:



As you can see, there are plenty of uses for the book. What will you do with yours?

9/09/2010

When I am King: Dry, Dry Again

When I am King...

Drying hands in the bathroom will return to traditional methods.

There's a growing trend in society, and in American bathrooms in particular, to stop using tried and proven mechanical devices when there are electronic ones available instead. In the home, this results in magnificent effort-savers like battery-operated pepper grinders (which are nothing to sneeze at). In the workplace bathroom, the result is sensor-driven devices for the toilet, the sink, and the paper towels.

I've written previously about these ridiculous devices, but today I want to come down harshly on the towel dispenser. I'll use, for my case study, an office bathroom with which I'm intimately familiar, having frequented it often in the past few months. Originally, there were two manual towel dispensers. These were complicated mechanisms that involved reaching under the dispenser and grabbing the dangling paper towel. When one didn't do it, you'd grab a second.

One of these machines was replaced recently by an electronic version of the same thing. This machine is roughly twice the size and has a little red light on it like a Cylon device (I'm never sure whether it's going to dry my hands or exterminate my species). Again, the towel hangs below the machine and you rip it off to get a second one delivered. From the user's point of view, there's no effort savings; on both you have to grab the towel. In fact, the electronic device requires more effort because you have that extra rip to perform, which can be difficult for your average technology worker. Also, you have to wait for the second towel because the machine has to think about it for a few seconds first, scanning you with its Cylon eye to deem your worthiness and consider its extermination options.

But here's the catch: the electronic one is often out of order. Either it runs out of power (it turns out that batteries don't last as long as, say, no batteries), or it runs out of towels, or it runs out of patience. I don't know. I just know that about half the time I go to get a towel, it refuses to spew one forth and I'm relegated to getting one from the older dispenser, which just keeps chugging along.

So here's this machine that obviously cost more to purchase and install, costs more to maintain as it runs through a Prius-load of batteries every month, takes up more space, and takes more time to get towels (when it's working) and to not get towels (when it's broken). And half the time it doesn't even work.

I understand technological advances. Why, if it weren't for my battery-powered pepper grinder, I'd probably have to go without that spice or eat the cloves whole rather than suffer that extreme wrist-twisting exercise. But I don't see why we're replacing perfectly workable devices for electronic versions which cost more and work less.

When I am King, we'll go back to traditional means of drying our hands. On our jeans.

9/03/2010

Happy Thoughts for Friday

Life is a journey, ending in death. Enjoy the trip itself, because the destination sucks.

Success is what's left after all possibilities of failure have been exhausted.

Winners are just losers on a good day.

8/27/2010

Happy Thoughts for Friday

The glass isn't half-empty; it's half-full. Of cyanide.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then pictures by children are worth a thousand little words. Words like, "Is this your abstract phase? What's that supposed to be? I've seen modern art better than this. Are you color blind, or just missing some crayons from the box? Did you get any color on the inside of the lines? Was the light off in the art room? Maybe you should take up a different hobby, like paper shredding."

I'm not bothered by the hours spent sitting in traffic. I like to think of it as time for myself, breathing in carbon monoxide.


8/25/2010

Little Jokes for Wednesday

I wonder:
Is a fish prostitute called a hooker?

Does she have a tough roe to ho?

8/23/2010

When I am King: Shop Till You Drop Dead

When I am King...

Zombie movies will be easier to make.

There's a recurring theme of zombies in pop culture. There are movies every year about them, songs about their zany flesh-eating antics, and a firm idea in the collective consciousness about these endearing flesh-eating creatures. The story is always roughly the same; some disease ravaged our society and somehow produced creatures that have a hankering for human flesh. They're basically like us, but with less of a hangup about cannibalism and slightly worse personal hygiene.

I believe that popular entertainment is a reflection of our fantasies and fears. We fantasize about wielding chainsaws and massacring hordes of people, while we fear another high school musical sequel.

So what is it about zombies that captures the public imagination? Is it their listless look as they stumble through life like a teenager in math class? Is it the shy and retiring way that they feast on brains? Or is it just that they provide more interesting target practice than cans and the neighbor's cat?

I would argue that zombies are real, and that these movies are actually documenting an important social phenomenon that we are all trying to understand.

I see zombies every time I go shopping in Costco.

I was shopping last weekend, noticing that everyone around me was slowly shuffling along, pushing their cart. They looked slowly around the shelves with dull, confused eyes. They grabbed flats of cookies and gallon jugs of mayonnaise. And they kept moving forward in their ambling gate, lurching from one foot to the other in an effort to just keep shopping. They didn't notice me or any of the other undead in the store. Carts bumped, feet were rolled over, and nobody noticed. They all just kept moving along on their zombie shopping excursion.

The only thing missing from the scene was blood-smeared bodies and the smacks of zombie feasting. Then I passed the food court of the store and got that too; faces covered in ketchup and fudge sauce completed the experience.

When I am King, zombie movies won't use actors and far-fetched stories to explain the undead. Instead, filmmakers will just take their cameras to these stores and roll film. A few screams to enhance the soundtrack and they'll be done. This will free up the movie industry to put more effort into other fictional masterpieces, like more high school musical sequels.

8/14/2010

When I am King: Kindleness of Strangers

When I am King...

E-Books will be cheaper.

Or at least my e-books will be.

Okay, so this is just a cheap ad. But heck, it's a cheap book.

I just knocked nearly a buck off the selling price of the Kindle version of When I Am King..., taking it down to the low, low price of $2.99.

But wait, there's more...
No, scratch that. That's all I had to say. Same book, cheaper price == more laughs per dollar.

So hurry up and order yours before they run out of bytes.

8/13/2010

Geek Jokes 0000 1000

Do church servers have mass storage?

Q: Why is religion like a programming language?
A: It's all about the sin tax.

8/09/2010

When I am King: Be All You Can't Be

When I am King...

We will all be imposters.

I've had this nagging feeling through many years of university and every job I've had since. I feel that I have landed where I am not through merit, accomplishment, or actual intelligence, but rather through some magical coincidence and general mistaken belief by others that I am someone entirely different and better than the person I know myself to be. I am, essentially, an impostor.

On one hand, it seems like something that's not so horrible; lucky me if I can achieve at a level impossibly above my potential. On the other hand, it's followed by a feeling of guilt and fear. Guilt that I'm occupying the spot that should be rightfully held by someone far cleverer than I. And fear that one day I will be found out and will soon make my living dispensing carts at Walmart. And still, I'd have a feeling that I was unqualified for the work. (Am I saying "Have a nice day!" too forcefully? Does my blue polyester vest ill-fit me appropriately?)

I heard, recently, that this is a common feeling, called the Impostor Syndrome. Apparently, others have this same feeling about themselves. Which means that if you feel like you don't belong, then you should feel right at home.

The fact that psychologists have named and documented this syndrome should make me feel better. If others feel this way, then maybe I'm not so far out of whack, after all. But instead, I find myself wondering whether I should feel more out of place than I do. Am I as good an impostor as I can be? Perhaps these other impostors impost better than my amateurish imposting. Perhaps there's someone out there that would fit in better because they would feel more out of place than I do.

Meanwhile, the workforce of our society malingers in this cesspool of self-doubt, unable to achieve to its full potential because of the emotional energy being spent on sheer adequateness. The productivity lost to internal feelings of ineptitude is staggering.

When I am King, everyone will be an impostor. No longer will we wonder whether we are good enough in our roles, because we will be placed in jobs for which we are wholly unqualified to begin with. Engineering students will become social workers, forced to work with people and issues that they've spent their entire lives trying to avoid. Beauticians will be employed as butchers, accountants as performance artists, and mimes as talk show hosts. Politicians can stay politicians, because they are already perfectly unsuited for what they are elected to do.

No longer will we have these nagging self-doubts about whether we're doing the right thing in life and whether our peers wonder how we got there. Instead, it will be clear to us and to everyone else that we are exactly the wrong person for the job. And so are they. We can finally get past the doubt and insecurity and get down to the business of confidently screwing up our work.

Note that I will keep my position as King, for which I am imminently unqualified. Although I do sometimes wonder whether I'm really unqualified enough...

8/03/2010

When I am King: Age-Old Logic

When I am King...

There will be no more aging.

Obviously I am not proposing stopping people from growing old. We’ll always have older people around, driving slowly in the left lane with the blinker on, saying completely inappropriate things in loud voices, and telling the rest of us that we don’t call home often enough.

But what I can and will change is our age.

Time marches on, minute by minute, day by day, and year by year. Even when it seems like time is standing still, like when you’re in line at the DMV or you’re sitting next to someone on the subway that’s talking on a mobile phone in tedious detail about every one of her children. Even then, time is racing by, pushing us further toward the cliff of our existence into the chasm of our not.

And as the years roll by, they add to our age, one by one. Another birthday cake eaten, another year gone.

Some try to cheat the system by simply telling people the wrong number for their age. But everyone knows. And it's rather sad.

But there’s a better way. Why change the number when we can change the number system?

For millennia, humans have used the decimal system, in base 10. I suppose this came from our having ten fingers available, but that makes it a cruel joke that we’re taught not to count on our fingers in school.

But haven’t we lived with that system long enough? Don’t you think we’ve gotten smarter in the last couple thousand years? Did Plato have reality TV? No, he just had reality. Did Copernicus have the internet? Of course not; he just had the galaxy. Did Benjamin Franklin have glasses? Well, yes, but they probably looked a lot dumber than today’s designer glasses and certainly cost far less. And he certainly didn’t have contact lenses that he could lose, tear, and have to replace every few days.

So isn’t it time that we had a shiny new number system, too? In fact, we should have several to represent the fact that our society is complex, diverse, and horribly bad at math.

When I am King, our age will be kept artificially low by increasing the base that we count in. For example, if you are about to enter your 40th year, then you might tell people, truthfully, that you are 37 (in base 11). Or if you are feeling particularly spritely, you can tell them that you’re having your 28th birthday (in base 16).

Or if you’re feeling young and completely nerdy, you can say that you’re 2A (in base 15).

The system also works in reverse. If you’re only 14 and you feel you really really need that six-pack of beer, then you can tell the clerk at the 7-11 that you’re 22 (in base 6).

No longer will people have to construct elaborate and pathetic lies about their age; they can simply tell the truth while using the power of Math.

Remember: It’s not how old you are, but how old you feel... like telling everyone you are.

7/28/2010

Little Joke for Wednesday


Should an arsonist burn for his crime?
Or should he get a lighter sentence?

7/26/2010

When I am King: A Time for Reflection

When I am King...

Everyone will smile for the camera. Everywhere.

I was leaving an office building the other day and was amused to see a woman approach the building and stop to fix her hair as she stared into the reflection that the mirrored door presented. The door opened into a building housing hundreds of people, any number of which might have been behind the glass at that time. But to her, it was just a mirror. And a chance to fix her hair.

We all do this: any time we see a mirror, we see just how awful things have gotten and we make some feeble attempt to patch something that nature irrevocably screwed up. We push the hair down that pops back up immediately. We scratch off the scabs from hitherto unknown shaving cuts, allowing them to bleed all over again. We scrape off the bit of chocolate cake that apparently missed our mouth the first time and then enjoy dessert a second time around. Or we do a quick zipper check (unzipped trousers is something else I’d like to see fixed. But that’s another topic entirely).

But that mirror doesn’t have to be a bathroom mirror - we’ll take any reflection anywhere. Give us a look at ourselves and we can’t help trying to fix the wreckage. This could be a car mirror, a reflective gum wrapper, or, most often, some mirrored glass in a random building.

It’s this last bit that I love; someone will go up to a public piece of glass and treat it like their own private boudoir. Meanwhile, there could be dozens of slovenly people on the other side of that dressing-room mirror, looking out at the person plucking that errant nose-hair. It encourages a dynamic of voyeurism that’s not otherwise available outside of seedy strip clubs. Reality TV tries to satisfy this need, but it’s too scripted and over-acted; we can’t really capture the moment unless the poor saps don’t know they’re on camera.

When I am King, webcams will be mounted behind all mirrored glass. No more will these episodes be reserved for those lucky few that happen to be on the other side when the person stops to spit-wash the lunch off their face. Instead, the precious scenes will be captured and broadcast live for everyone to enjoy. Isn't this the true purpose of the web?

If we, as a people, can’t learn to discriminate between private and public places, then we owe it to the rest of us to make our public indiscretions as public as possible.

7/16/2010

When I am King: Can Do Attitude

When I am King...

Airplane bathrooms will always be clean.

There are two irrefutable facts in life: everyone prefers a clean bathroom and is generally tidy when they perform their ablutions, and the bathroom on an airplane looks like the remains of a frat party the morning after "free grain alcohol and beef jerky night" at the local liquor store.

Since everyone is a model of toilet fastidiousness, how does that tiny room become such a hellhole after a few business travelers have gone in there to take care of business?

If you're the first person, you're set. FAA regulations may be somewhat lax on things like de-icing wings and avoiding rivet-shaking turbulence (which the pilots apparently think is more fun than riding a rollercoaster, though the sick hordes in coach beg to differ). But they're absolutely rock-solid on two things: the bathrooms should be tidy on takeoff, and nobody should have a container of toothpaste in their carry-on that holds more than the amount needed to cover a single bristle.

But if you're the second or later person to use the bathroom, good luck. You're better off holding it until you land, rent a car, and drive to the nearest gas station with a rest room that hasn't been cleaned since the Eisenhower administration (now there was a presidency that believed in bathroom cleanliness). If you can't wait that long, then you just tiptoe carefully into the airplane bathroom, close your eyes, and let fly. Which, come to think of it, probably explains the mess.

When I am King, there will be accountability for airplane bathroom mess. There will be a Toilet Monitor official on the plane (I nominate the Air Marshall, who hopefully has nothing better to do for the duration of the flight). After each person leaves that little closet of personal space, they must wait while the bathroom is inspected and approved for further usage. If the bathroom fails inspection, the former occupant is responsible for cleaning up the mess they made. Think of it like cleaning up after your dog when he goes on the pavement. Only this time it's you, and there's no plastic bag available.

Only through such means can we expect everyone to do their part when they part with their doo.

7/13/2010

When I am King: The Plane Truth

When I am King...



There will be no more flight safety instructions before the plane takes off.

I'm fine listening to the repetitive drivel that precedes the 15 minutes pre-takeoff joy ride around every runway in the airport. I'm even okay with the lesson about buckling and unbuckling the seatbelt, if only because I have kids that still have trouble getting their belts fastened in the car on the first try, and the folks on the airplane certainly have more patience explaining this instinctive behavior than I do.

But I draw the line at the fake Hollywood-wannabe approach of airlines in the last few years. All airplanes have television screens, many of them in every seat back so you can't fail to watch TV no matter where you look on the plane. It's like being in a sports bar with assigned seating. The airlines have figured out that they can use these TVs to avoid to pay people to deliver the speech live. Or maybe it was the flight attendants' union, fed up with years of saying the same damn thing on every single flight to every single passenger that had already heard it several times that year, and probably one or more times that very day on previous legs of their tiresome journey. "Enough," they said in the polite but firm tones that they learn in flight attendant school, "is Enough!" And so the airlines hired cut-rate crews of actors and film producers to produce the world's most boring movies (with the possible exception of most of Kevin Costner's films).

First, you have the "pilot" turning around in his pilot seat to face the camera, as if the film crew just popped into the cockpit unannounced, Candid Camera-like, and Pilot Jim thought he'd give them a quick explanation of the flight procedure. The best part is that he spoke into his radio microphone, as if the camera crew forgot their audio equipment. Meanwhile, the pilot-actor was comprehensible, which meant two things: he couldn't be a real pilot and his voice obviously wasn't being recorded through a real cockpit microphone. If either of these were the case, it would have sounded just like it does every time the pilot comes on during the flight to update everyone on the fascinating bits of your progress between Atlanta and Omaha: "Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, this is Jim Carbenherm, your pilot today. We've now reached our cruising altitude of 35,000 feet en route to rrrmmm mhem grrrgreem ehrhehhre. Off to your left, hrmmmth fffrmmrmrmrm greb foogub, just ahead on the right. Now sit back, relax, and feegstl crab. Flight attendants, bring me another scotch."

After the pilot/actor finishes his bit, it's time for Scene 2. A flight attendant/actor appears and gives the typical speech about the seat belts (Oh, *that's* where the clip goes!), the bit about saving yourself before your screaming whelps, and some helpful information about the seatbelt light (which provides a nice callback to the seatbelt fastening discussion). All of this is fine - we've heard it millions of times. I'm pretty sure we could all get up and do it if we had to. There's probably a performance-art troupe somewhere that does just this, each person getting up one after another and repeating the same shtick verbatim, each with their own personal interpretation of the words. They get zip for an audience, but it's an important statement in the arts scene of Bakersfield.

But the twist with this Meryl Streep understudy is that she's obviously received direction ("What's my motivation?") to smile every chance she gets. Apparently, people listen when you smile. Or take you seriously. Or something. And it's true - a smile, even one that doesn't go further than the lips it's pasted on, certainly makes us feel better than someone drooling or dripping blood from gnashing teeth. But a smile interjected before, during, and after every word spoken, is more than annoying - it's stupid. It's the smile of someone who's just puked their evening's consumption of rum and coke down your front, smiling because they don't know what else to say, and are doing anything they can to ward off probable physical response.

It's as if she's excited - Really! Excited! - that we all get to sit down, put the belt on, and sit in our amazingly cramped seats for 5 hours. And! we! should! be! just! as! excited! as! she! is! And maybe we would be, too, if we got the same medication that she's on.

Consider how much time and energy it takes from all of us to hear this over and over in our lives, even if most of us pretend to not listen and focus instead on the important task of leafing through the Sky Mall magazine to see what kind of crap people actually buy when bored out of their minds on long trips. I figure the speech takes about 2 minutes. If you assume about 250 people on the flight, that's just over 8 hours of life that they've sucked down the tubes on that single flight. Multiply that times the number of flights happening all over the world every day of the year and it's plain to see that this little airline speech accounts for millions of lifetimes per year. This is the biggest travesty and waste of life since Reality TV and the waiting line at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

When I am King, there will be a much simpler system installed for plane flights. No more mindless tedium of the speeches,either live and rehearsed or recorded and pathetic. Instead of the speech, there will be a written contract on the TV screen on the seat back in front of us. In order to get to the entertainment channels, we'll have to click through the contract and agree that we read and understood it in order to proceed. It'll be just like every software or website agreement we've ever dealt with - we just zip to the bottom, click on the "Agree" button, and continue on. No time or brain cells wasted - we can do this operation with muscle-memory. Having saved all of that time and energy, we can hurry onto worthwhile pursuits instead, like watching some Reality TV while leafing through the Sky Mall magazine.

7/11/2010

Little Sports Jokes

I wonder:
Do speed-walkers pace themselves?

Do joggers ever get the runs?

Are soccer players goal-oriented?

Is scoring in basketball a net positive?
Do hockey players stick together in a fight?

7/03/2010

When I am King: Yes We Cancer

When I am King...


All parents will take up smoking.

When I was a kid, I'd bring home "gifts" from art class; projects that I had made in class with limited materials, constrained time, and no talent. But the thought was there; the thought that I had better get something for my parents for their birthday, Fathers Day, Mothers Day, or an apology for the baseball through the living room window.

These objets d'art were always ashtrays made from clay and baked in a kiln until hardened into its irreversibly misshapen form. There were white ashtrays, gray ashtrays, lumpy ashtrays, and lumpier ashtrays. These blobs of primordial earth littered the house, protecting our furniture from ash as they protected our interior aesthetic from taste and refinement.

There was no thought given to encouraging our parents in a deadly habit, or promoting second-hand smoke that we would all breathe in every day (anyone remember the smell of stale smoke in a hot car on a road trip?). Instead, there was just the guarantee that you could throw some clay on the table, mash it into a roughly concave shape, paint it, bake it, and you'd have another heartwarming present to give to the folks.

Nowadays, of course, that just isn't done. It would be wrong of schools and teachers to encourage kids to make colorful accessories of death. It would be like decorating a syringe for their drug habit, or giving candy to prolong their obesity: it's just not done (except for the candy bit. What else do you give someone that obviously loves it so much?).

So kids today are left completely at a loss for gift ideas. Birthdays and holidays come and go, and the kids are always scrambling for what to give to demonstrate their undying desire for more gifts on their own birthdays. Should they draw something? Paint something? Buy a tie that won't be worn?

All of this worrying is causing unnecessary stress for our children. How can we have our nine year olds fuss about such things when we need them to lose sleep over future SAT scores and music recitals?

When I am King, all parents will take up smoking. By so doing, we will create a demand for ashtrays in our houses and thus resolve the art-gift dilemma for the next generation.

Pregnant women will, of course, be an exception. But once that kid's out of the oven, get yourself a pack and start puffing; that child will be making ugly clay objects before you know it.

6/21/2010

When I am King: Apparent Failure

When I am King...

There will be no Father's Day.

I used to think that Father's Day was about feeling guilty as a son. It was the one day each year when you got to reflect on everything that your father did for you, like letting you be born in the first place and then not managing to kill you out of neglect and incompetence. It was also a chance to reflect on what a worthless son you were, because how could you ever compensate for such awesome contributions to your own life? Out of unsalvageable situation came a card and a gift:
Dear Dad: Thanks for life. Here's a tie.
I thought, as I grew up, that the only way to ever pay back the favor was to become a father to your own children, passing along the gift through the generations.

What a load of crap.

Now that I'm a father, I realize that it's a far more complicated occasion. Not only do I still feel inadequate as a son, but I also feel like a complete disappointment to my own children.

This day is not about celebrating those in your life that are special, or paying back in some small way the love and sacrifice that these people have squandered on you. It's about making you feel guilty about everything you're not: you are not the perfect son, and you are not the perfect father. You're just the person that happened to be there at the time. You're like the stunt double for the real actor, who's over in the canteen having a mocha while you climb through the burning wreckage of your life.

When I am King, there will be no Father's Day. We just can't handle this annual guilt. Besides, I don't wear ties.

I'm not sure about Mother's Day, because I can't speak for them. From what I've seen, Mothers are a lot better at their job than we Fathers are, so they may not need the break.

6/16/2010

Happy Birthday Ditties

Every year, his birthday made him older.
But he still felt young, or so he told her.
"I only feel pain from the neck up,
I don't need a medical check up."
Though he was completely numb below his shoulder.


Every time he got out of the bed
He was one rising closer to dead.
So one morning he tried
To turn the tide
And stayed in bed forever instead.


So many candles on top of the cake,
Nearly more than the pastry could take.
He hated this reminder of aging,
The physical war time was waging,
Though a birthday's better than a wake.

6/04/2010

Happy Thoughts for Friday

I wonder...

Is multiplication a sign of the times?
Does one hand clapping sound like screaming from mimes?
Are all of these questions just cheap shots at rhymes?
Or are they all deep thoughts to think?

Is mother the root of the word smother?
Is ugh that of daughter or some other?
Is it odd that broth starts the word brother?
Or do I just need more to drink?

5/29/2010

When I am King: The Seat of Power

When I am King...

Toilet seats will be much cooler.

Recently, I've run across warm toilet seats. Okay, maybe "run across" is the wrong phrase; let's say I've come in contact with them. And I'm not happy about it.

These high-tech seats are engineered to stay at some pre-warmed temperature. I think the idea is to create a pleasing experience, warm and comforting like the womb or a cup of hot cocoa.

But they don't please me. For one thing, I'm not looking for a comfortable experience in a public bathroom stall. It's not a place I want to hang out and spend a lot of time, so comfort is not a top priority. Toilet seats should be second in comfort only to airline seats; at least toilets have more leg room and the option of getting up, opening the door, and leaving without falling down 30,000 feet to your death.

But more importantly, there's an awkward association we have with warm toilet seats. A warm toilet seat means that someone else was occupying that spot right before you got there. And that's not something I like to think about while I'm spending quality time on the seat. So the idea that these automatic seats try to recreate that experience of sitting down right after someone else is just plain wrong.

The only thing worse than sitting down on a warm toilet seat is sitting down on a wet one. Perhaps these bright potty engineers are working on new toilet seat technology to pre-spray the seats as well, to give that complete lived-on feel.

When I am King, toilet seats will go back to being cold, hard, unpleasant places to sit. In fact, to improve upon the experience, the seats will be pre-cooled. It will never feel like someone else sat there before you, even when they're still there. The seats will be so cold that any liquid on the seat will turn to ice and you may leave behind a layer of skin when you stand up. It'll be like using an outhouse in northern Minnesota in the dead of winter. It will help you focus on the task and develop quick bathroom habits.

More research is needed in other bathroom possibilities, but for now the work is stalled.

5/23/2010

Corporate Survival Guide: All Hands on Deck

In war, or at least in war movies, there is always a dramatic scene in which the troops come together to hear a rousing speech from the General, which inspires them to march happily off to certain death. The General moves down the line of bleak, scared faces and offers words of inspiration that, despite being outgunned, outwitted, and out-and-out doomed, they will prevail. All they have to do is this one little thing of marching straight into the line of fire while the General observes from far in the rear.

This same epic battle scene also takes place on today’s corporate battlefields: it’s called the “All Hands” meeting. This is a regular meeting of everyone in the department or the entire company in which executives address the troops, inspiring them with predictions of victory and regaling them with presentations about fiscal responsibility, budgets, and layoffs.

But the All Hands meeting is not just a time for reflection and dozing; it is a prime opportunity for the Corporate Warrior to shine. Think about it: what other forum is there where so many of your co-workers and your management hierarchy are present?

Here are some ways that you can use the meeting to your advantage:

Sit in front

Educators say that sitting in the front row is the best way to learn the material. Your proximity to the teacher forces you to pay more attention, and the lack of distractions in front of you help you focus. But sitting up front in an All Hands meeting has nothing to do with learning (hey, nobody’s listening anyway). Instead, it’s all about access and visibility.

First of all, make sure to reserve a chair front and center before the meeting starts. You could put your notebook or your laptop on the seat, but I’ve found that spilling coffee or, better yet, cooked oatmeal on the chair is more effective at keeping people away.

Next, wait in the back until the meeting starts. The first speaker is usually the highest-ranking executive talking that day. That first slot is a sign of honor and respect for this highest-ranking executive, and this person is also usually the one that has nothing in particular to talk about, so they just do the fluffy intro. Wait until the audience has stopped talking about their kids’ soccer games and the executive starts to speak to a hushed and awestruck crowd. This is your time to move.

Make your way to the front confidently and noticeably. A mobile phone is a good prop for this entrance, as you can make your position clear in a fake conversation. The trick is to appear busy, important, and yet respectful of the All Hands and the presenters. A quote like this might help: “I don’t care how, just make it happen! Now start thinking for yourself – I’m in an important meeting with very important people!”

Now that you’re at your chair, make sure that the executive at the microphone knows you’re there by saying something subtle, like, “A spill? No problem – I’ll clean it up just like our company is cleaning up in the market!” Then wipe up your seat-reserving spill and sit down.

If you played your part successfully, you interrupted the speaker. That person is now staring at you, trying to get back the lost train of thought. This is an excellent time to help, saying something loudly to them like, “You tell them, Pat!” This serves two purposes: it brings you to the attention of the executive, and it shows everyone in the audience that you’re on a first name basis with them. The best part is that you don’t have to know the person at all; you just have to know their name. With the entire company spread in front of them, they’re not going to have the time and presence of mind to stop and ask who you are and would you mind shutting up, please. Instead, you’ll get your salutation out there and they will continue reading from their index cards, and the audience will think that you helped them do it.


Ask questions

Usually, there is time for Q&A at the end of an All Hands meeting. This is the time for employees to ask serious questions about how the company is doing, or how the budget cuts affect their department, or how they’re going to tell their spouses that they have to sell the children to make ends meet. This is all irrelevant, of course; Q&A is your time to get attention.

Ask pointed questions of the executives, calling them by name and making them notice who you are, and what you stand for. Don’t bother asking real questions about hard problems – these people have enough to worry about getting their golf scores down without people pestering them about personal gripes like "jobs" and "salary cuts." Instead, focus on questions that make both them and you look good, because that’s what it’s all about.

Sample questions might include:


“How is it that the economy is so bad, but your financial management of our company is so good?”

“I don’t know about anyone else here, but this is the most wonderful company I’ve ever worked for. My question: was it always this amazing, or was it through your leadership that it got to be so great?”
Feel free to throw in the occasional not-a-question as well, as long as you have a strong point to make:


“I just want to be the first to congratulate you on a fantastic job. Everybody, let’s hear it for Mary!”
Remember the first rule of the Corporate Warrior: never stop sucking up.


Lead the troops

Shell-shocked soldiers and battle-weary veterans need constant motivation to keep on fighting. They need leaders who inspire them to ridiculous feats. You can be that leader.

In this kind of meeting, the speakers are lucky if the audience stays awake, much less pays attention during the entire event. That’s why they need you to drive the applause that lets everyone know not just when to applaud, but, more importantly, who the applause leader is.

Every time a speaker pauses and looks out at the crowd, it’s clear that a note on their index card or teleprompter reads: “[Applause]”. Be the first one to jump up and lead a round. It doesn’t matter what they just said – you won’t be able to follow any of it since you’ll be too busy watching for cues. It’s more important that you let the speaker know that the audience appreciates what they said … when you told them to.

Watch for other cues as well. When an executive smiles, laugh out loud and throw out a, “Good one!” and then jab the person next to you and gesture that you thought that was a really funny point. When a speaker makes a dramatic point, talk back to them: “No! What did you do then?”

This constant salvo from you, their main indicator for audience appreciation, will give them the feedback they need to continue in their speeches, in their jobs, and ideally in recognizing you as someone they can trust.


Eat

If you’re lucky and this is one of those All Hands meetings with food, take as much as you can. Stuff your face with Danishes, put extra donuts in your pockets, and make off with as much as you can carry. For one thing, you know that the executives won’t be anywhere near, so they won't be watching you make a pig of yourself. But also, a soldier never knows where his next meal is coming from. And heck, it’s free.

5/18/2010

Things I Believe

If there's anything in life you can count on, it's your fingers.

Everyone's days are numbered; it's just a matter of how many digits there are.

5/07/2010

Corporate Survival Guide: Retreatise

Success on the battlefield doesn’t just depend on how you win, but also how well you lose. The strategy of retreat is exceptionally important not just for how you save your arm and your skin, but also how fast you can make it back to the town to get your story told first.

Besides, as the abbreviated saying goes, “He who fights and runs away lives.”

Similarly, today's Corporate Warrior must know when to charge and when to high-tail it out of there. Sometimes the enemy is too powerful and you must cede the field. And sometimes the other side has compromising pictures of you from the holiday party.

It’s at these times that you have to know how to quit.

One of the most crucial elements of quitting is the goodbye email. This final communication to the team must strike the right note of camaraderie, professionalism, and awesomeness that will leave your co-workers and management with a feeling of warmth and envy for the opportunities that you are pursuing. Even if you’re quitting to flip burgers or pursue the life of homelessness that beckons every time you step over the vagrants on your way into the office, you want to leave your peers with the feeling that your life will surely be better than theirs. This usually entails bold lies, but since you'll never see them again, who's to know?

But it’s tricky composing this email. Many corporate warriors have spent their entire career composing their magnum opus, but still failed to deliver a compelling case. You can do better.

And you will do better by using this handy template I've created, which is suitable for most corporate situations you will encounter. I've borrowed the template from another blog, so I should give credit here, but I feel my additions more than make up for this flagrant theft of copyrighted material.

[To Whom it May Concern, Dear Coworkers, Fellow Drones, Life-Sucking Parasites],

After [make up a number here; nobody will know or care] [years, memos, cups of coffee, harassment complaints], the time has come for me to move on. Although it was a difficult decision made over a series of [weeks, months, beers], I feel it is something I must do because I:

A. ______ want to spend more time with my [family, dog, self]

B. ______ am taking advantage of a new, exciting opportunity

C. ______ am bored out of my mind

D. ______ have been fired for gross and disgusting insubordination

E. ______ need to get my inbox down to zero messages

F. ______ none of the above

G. ______ all of the above except F

H. ______ some combination of ABCDE: __________

I. ______ other reason (please explain in 1 word or less): __________


Good luck to everyone here. It's been my pleasure and honor to work with each and every one of you [optional: list every person in the organization][optional: except [list people you hated]]. Know that I'll be rooting for the team regardless of what I may be doing at your direct competitor. It's a small [industry, valley, city, world, galaxy]; I'm sure we'll have the chance to work together again.

Should anyone feel like contacting me in the future, you can always reach me at [you should give a fake email address here, since nobody will bother. Your are dead to them now].

[Good luck!, Go team!, Love and kisses!, So Long Suckers!]
[Your name here]
So go ahead, use the template. Send out the email and then get the Hell out of the building before Facilities wonders what happened to all of the office supplies on the second floor.