Corporate Survival Guide: Dollars and Nonsense

In these times of economic hardship, what do you think your boss wants the most? Right: a foot massage and tickets to the game this weekend. But close behind those is their desire for a solution to the company's dire situation.

Face it: the economy's in the tank, nobody is buying anything, and companies have to start eating their young just to survive.

But it's times like these in which the battle-ready corporate Warrior can not only survive, but thrive.

What you should do now is to spend about a minute thinking about how the company can cut costs, and then spend weeks slaving over charts, slides and meetings, and schmoozing the management chain until they know you better than they know the local barista.

The important thing here is that it is irrelevant what solutions you come up with, or even if they will work; the executives are all so confused that they'll try any sorry plan that comes along. And if that sorry plan came from you, all the better for your career.

Here are some quick ideas to get you started: you should be able to turn any one of these into a full-blown Plan for Economic Corporate Knowledge Recovery (PECKR):
  • Pay cuts for executives: Let this one sit there in silence for a couple of seconds, and then crack up. The execs in the room will love this joke, and they will know that you are one of them. Then get onto the real suggestions.
  • Pay toilets: Every employee uses the facilities in the company several times a day. Think what it could mean to the bottom line if per-use fees went toward corporate revenues. But consider your audience: make sure that you propose that the executive washroom is still free.
    This one is in the can.
  • Waterless urinalsThis one hits two hot buttons at once: cost and eco-friendly green-managed enviro-ware business. You've probably seen the waterless toilets in different public or corporate environments. It's a great idea, saving water that can then be spent washing your hands more after dealing with urinals that had no water. But it still costs money for the fancy urinals and the mechanisms inside. Let's take this a step further, and go back to our societal roots: what about simply a hole that went down through the building and into the ground? Now we're saving money on water and on the fixtures.I call it "The in-house outhouse". It's going to be huge.
  • Car wash: The company could hold a local car wash to raise money, with the employees of the company donating their weekend time to make it happen. To raise awareness of the event, all executive cars would be washed (for free) to start it off. It works for the cheerleading squad at the local high school; surely it can save the company, too.
  • Cube compression: It's easy to come up with spreadsheets that show savings when you start dealing with real estate, because nobody really knows how much the company is spending on any of that. Come up with a plan to cut cube sizes in half, thus reducing overall worker square footage and the amount of real estate required by the company. Of course, the company won't be able to actually lease or sell that extra space in this down market, which is why you'll propose that until it's sold, that extra space will go into larger executive suites, including a bowling alley.
The observant reader will probably notice that many of these ideas draw money from the hard-working employees of the company itself. This is intentional, because the executives would love to figure out how to get some of that money back. If they can do that while also making money for the company, you're plan is safe. Or at least your plan will be attempted long enough to get you onto the fast track, and nobody will ever remember the complete mess that your plan made later on.

Remember: It's not about saving the company; it's about advancing your career.


Little Jokes for Tuesday

When bulimics die, do they go to purgeatory?

Q: Why did the poet stop rhyming?
A: Because his advisor told him to di-versify.


When I am King: Ad diction

When I am King...

Ads will say more about less. More or less.

Last week, I received some email spam from my telephone provider about their new universal cable/phone/internet services. Normally, I would ignore ads, but this piece was a gem.

At the top, as an incentive for reading the rest of the details, it offered "10 tips on finding a job!". Then it went on to talk about how I could get more and better TV channels for just $100/month plus installation.

I don't know which part excited me more: the fact that the phone company has our back and is going to help us find jobs in a tough economy, or the fact that they think that people with no income should be spending $100/month on cable TV. After all, watching TV could be what job seekers are going to be doing more than anything else in the next few months. And what else are they going to do with all that money - eat?

I can picture what happened at the company. Someone in Corporate Marketing had a sudden realization, "Wait! We can't go out with this new ad campaign in a bad job market! What about all of those people out of work that have no money for food and rent, much less entertainment? Shouldn't we wait until more prosperous times, when people have extra money and time to blow on TV?" Then his boss fired him and replaced him with the first person that could spin it into a positive message.

When I am King, I'd like to see a whole new era of ads, where negative situations are encompassed openly and honestly in an overall message about the product. Why should we let tragic situations halt the progress of American advertising and consumer spending? For example:
  • Joe's Peanut Butter: "Go nuts - Now, with 10 tips for treating peanut allergies with limited fatality!"
  • Joe's Jewelers: "The Second Time's the Charm - Buy one engagement ring and get another for 10% off!"
  • Joe's Donuts: Now, with donut holes that have 0% fat and no sugar!
or how about:
  • When I am King...: With several blank pages for those that don't appreciate the humor!


When I am King: Filet Minions

When I am King...

Pet fish must die.

As a kid, I owned fish as pets. We had the tank with the filter with cotton and charcoal in it, and rocks and decorations, and lots of different fish. Dead fish. Dying all the time fish. That's all I remember about them: fish died. You get them, they swim around, then you find them belly-up in the tank one morning, transfer them to the toilet, and give them a watery grave.

So now, as an adult, or as someone pretending to be an adult so that my kids don't notice how unqualified I am for the position, I pushed back on having fish in the house. "Fish die," I told the kids, thinking that they'd see the wisdom of my sage advice. But why would they start now?

They kept at it, wanting fish, talking about getting fish, getting an aquarium, getting the whole thing and finally, in a momentary lapse of reason combined with a birthday for which we had no other present in mind, we got them some fish. It's basically the same setup I had as a kid, although the filter is now nicely packaged in disposable pouches that you can handily pay more for every month.

There was considerable grumbling as I got things ready to go: getting the tank located, getting the equipment situated and plugged in, getting the water stabilized, but we finally got everything working, got some fish and - tada! - we were fish owners.

And I have to admit, they had me going. After a few weeks of owning the tiny filets, I was thinking it wasn't too bad. In fact, they're a lot easier as pets than dogs, for one very good reason: they poop where they live and I don't have to worry about it. It's like raising a dog in a plastic bag that I never have to throw away.

But then they started dying. One day I walk by and one is floating at the top on its side like a, well, like a dead fish. The kids are wondering if he's practicing his sidestroke and I'm getting down the net of death for a toilet-bowl funeral.

Then the following week we lose another two, and all my memories of morgue tanks come floating back to me. The aquarium becomes a killing grounds. I can't walk by without feeling like the Grim Reaper. I start calling out, "Bring out your dead!" as I near the tank. They used to come up to the surface when I was around, assuming that it was feeding time. But now they swim lower down, thinking that it's the ones that hang out on the surface that never come back.

Clearly, we have water problems. So we study up on the problem and start cleaning the tank (apparently you can't let them swim in their poop for too long before it has an effect - I wonder how they handle this in lakes?), and changing filters, and vacuuming the gravel, and still they're dying by the pound.

Apparently, one of the problems is that the kids have been overfeeding them. Funny - the fish never complained.

Now, the whole tank has something called Ich, pronounced "Ick." Which I find hilarious. Imagine going to the doctor and having him tell you, "Mr. Haase, you appear to have a case of what we in the medical field call Yucky."

The disease is brought on by, among other things, stress. So the fish are working too hard in there, swimming from one side to the other and looking for food? Or is it just that they're stressed out wondering when they're going to die of some mystery tank problem?

We'll work through this latest problem, probably losing most or all of the fish in the process, cleaning the tank again, and populating it with new doomed creatures.

When I am King, fish will not be pets. They are simply too much work and tragedy. Instead, people will be encouraged to put orange and lemon peels into the tank; they look and act about the same, and have the added benefit of already being dead so that you don't have to suffer at the bedside of the terminally ill patients as they slip away.

Other solutions to the pet problem will be encouraged, especially those pets that live much longer. Like rocks. Fish as pets simply don't scale.


Geek Jokes 0110

Q: What dance does a compiler programmer find most frustrating?
A: The JITerbug

Q: A subway travels from point A to point B. A bus travels from point B to point C. Light rail goes from point C to point D. How do we know that Mr. Smith can take these modes of transportation all the way from point A to point D?
A: The mass-transitive property


When I am King: Resolution Resolution

When I am King...

New Year's Resolutions will be achievable.

I've written about this before, but have completely forgotten what I said, so it is worth sounding off on the topic again.

New Year's Resolutions stink. They give us hope that we're actually better people than we truly are. They make us work trying to achieve goals that are way beyond our capabilities. And perhaps most importantly, they make us feel worse in the long run because we will eventually fail to meet these goals. We won't get in shape, we won't lose that weight, and we won't keep hitting the gym: we'll just keep being the mediocre person we are because, well, that's who we are.

I think that we all have enough things to feel bad about in our society, between global warming, general international animosity, and the popularity of the Jerry Springer show. Do we really need to add to it with manufactured guilt trips stemming from not achieving inherently unachievable goals?

When I am King, I'll mandate resolutions that are reachable. Citizens will have the choice between not picking a resolution at all and choosing a resolution that they not only can, but will meet. This way, there will never be any fallout from not meeting lofty and artificial goals.

Here are some sample resolutions that I considered for myself this year, to illustrate the kinds of resolutions that I find most helpful:

  • I resolve not to trip the Pope
  • I resolve to not double my weight
  • I resolve to not stuff chocolate up my nose
  • I resolve to not take a swing at a Pararazzi
  • I resolve to not do ski jumps off my roof into a dumpster full of broken glass
  • I resolve to not have the kids falsely convicted and sent to a juvenile delinquency home just to avoid the cost of daycare
  • I resolve to not skip rope with razor wire
  • I resolve to not play laser tag with a death ray
  • I resolve to not frost birthday cakes with fresh dog poop

Those are all pretty good resolutions: they are understandable, worth satisfying, and within my limited power to achieve. I may use them in future years. For 2009, here is the resolution that I chose:

I resolve to not make any New Year's Resolution.


Happy 2009: Better Luck Next Year

As one year is ushered out to the firing squad and is pulled kicking and screaming into place, it is time to reflect on some of the momentous events around the world in 2008. It is said that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it it it. It. Also, what better way to start the new year than by wallowing in times that are past and cannot now be changed? Finally, hindsight is usually more fun than foresight, depending of course on whose hind you're sighting.

While these ten items are not everything that happened this past year, as that full list would exceed the word limit for my blog post, they are surely the most important ones, or at least the ones that I could recall.
  1. The Treaty of Westphalia completely disintegrated this year, leaving only the Duchy of Lichtenstein and the Kingdom of Iceland to hold the peace in all of Western Europe. But hold that peace they did, and through a common currency system (except for the British, who know better) and a shared cologne and antipathy for each other, the entire EU celebrated its first year of complete harmony this year, marred only by a slight war in Greece and a disagreement over the official language in Disneyland Paris. The world looks forward to another few centuries of European empire-building before everything crumbles apart and Africa falls into a bitter and constant squabble.
  2. There was apparently an election in the U.S. this year, but it happened so quickly and quietly that nobody can recall the experience nor the outcome. It is of no matter; previous administrations have proven that it doesn't matter whom is elected, as the President has so little effect on America's effective domestic and international policies. It only matters that the country elects someone, to keep the ballot machines in working order.
  3. Billy Keeble, the kid down the street with two left hands and a penchant for writing "fart" on his lawn with weed killer, won the Nobel Peace Prize this year for choosing not to beat up his sister when she stomped on his favorite Hot Wheel car (the gold one with the flames on the sides and the wide back tires). Way to go, Billy!
  4. Wall Street crashed and the global financial system came to a halt, eliminating jobs, homes, and life savings world-wide. This gave all of us more opportunity to focus on the important things in life, like spending quality time with our families and wondering where our next meal was coming from.
  5. The sun continued to rise in the east every single day this past year, confirming suspicions of many prominent scientists that its trajectory is not merely random. Work has begun on funding a project to find the track that the sun rides upon.
  6. Orville Squenchgroot of Cablespleen, Missouri, discovered a new species of slug inhabiting the bog in his back yard. Environmentalists hailed the discovery as proof that eliminating species such as owls, eagles, and wolves may be okay after all, since there are just so darned many other ones around. And such cute ones, too: this new slug species, named "Ickus Slimatode", sports a tell-tale ring of warts just below what would be the neck if the blob had a head.
  7. The U.S. produced more manure in 2008 than ever before, setting a new record for the Gross National Product.
  8. On the technology front, 2008 saw the invention of not only the laser-based digital meat-cleaver, but also fast-healing sutures to deal with the ensuing carnage in home kitchens everywhere.
  9. In March, Len Skrappentz, of Scranton, PA, discovered the solutions to both world peace and world hunger. Unfortunately, he misplaced his notes while searching his files for his taxes last year and has been unable to locate them since. He recalled that both solutions had something to do with eating more Cap'n Crunch, but the details continue to elude him.
  10. Except for minor skirmishes in Auckland and southern North Dakota, the world enjoyed relative calm and peace throughout the year, and there is reason to hope that this happy coexistence between all peoples will continue unabated in the coming year. Anyone disagreeing with this will get the crap kicked out of them.

The year that's done,
Two Thousand Eight,
We must admit
Was really great.

The year to come,
Two Thousand Nine,
The experts feel
Will be quite fine.

Each year that ends
Reminds us all
That Winter, Summer,
Spring and Fall

Pass quicker always -
How time flies! -
Bringing us soon
To our own demise.

Happy new year!