Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween Prankster

I have a good friend who loves to play practical jokes. Sometimes he'll come up with ideas on the spur of the moment and act on them instantly. Take last Halloween for example.

He had stopped to check on his mail which is in one of those large cbu mailboxes that you find outside of apartment complexes. He had pulled up just as the mailman was filing the letters through the back side of that postal retainer. Not wanting to pass up an opportunity for a prank, my friend grabbed one of the props for his evening costume out of his car and quietly opened his mailbox. After a little preparation, he then gave a terrifying scream and thrust a fake bloody hand with severed fingers through the box and out the other side where the unsuspecting postman worked. My mischievous buddy said he then heard a responding cry of terror and the fluttering sound of letters being scattered in the air. When this prankster raced around to the back of the mailbox, he found the mailman sitting 10 feet back, clutching his chest with letters scattered around him. The startled letter carrier told my friend that it would probably be a good time for my friend to leave before the postal worker got to his shaky feet.

Of course, our actions aren't without consequences. Shortly after this little prank, my friend noticed a very nasty odor in his mailbox, usually coming from junk mail. I'd like to say that was the end of his practical jokes. But that would be wishful thinking.

SEMA 2007

Las Vegas hosts several trade shows throughout the year. One that is related to the automotive aftermarket arena is the SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) show. Even though I have worked as an engineer for an automotive company for over 15 years, I have yet to go to this annual event. At one time, my company was chock-full of enthusiasm, the spirit of innovation, the possibility of a rewarding future, and engineers. During those exciting times, upper management deemed it vital that members of engineering investigate upcoming technology. Research and Development was important to the powers-that-be for future revenue. When everyone returned from this important show, we came up with a lot of profitable products for the company. Of course, from the stories that I heard, not a lot of time was spent sleeping in those Vegas hotels in pursuit of R&D ... and other things.

Ah, good times. Here we are today where greedy owners who are closing in on retirement have stripped the company for immediate profits. The engineering staff is down to a tenth of what it once was. There is no R&D at our company anymore. Engineer has become as most positions in the plant have become -- a necessary evil. The only innovative work that I'm doing now is a redesign of all our production testers from their dying 386, DOS platforms to XP-based systems. This year, only the sales department and, naturally, upper management will be making the pilgrimage to SEMA to peddle our almost obsolete technology.

While moral is at an all time low, we still have a flicker of hope. We all dream that someone will buy the company soon and return us to our productive, happy selves once again. Maybe then, we can return to SEMA as a major factor in the industry.

Monday, October 29, 2007

My Halloween Costume?

This year, I being goaded into donning a Halloween costume. I'm being told that it needs to be outrageous and unforgettable. Hmmm. I have given thought about one costume in particular. Now that I'm getting older, the 'don't-care-what-others-think' mindset is getting strong so I'm not as shy as I used to be. So perhaps I could ... take all my clothes off, put on roller skates and going as pull-toy. Shocking? Outrageous? Could be. Could be. As they say in England, "Everyone needs a good Yank now and then!" Unfortunately, Halloween night is supposed to be in the upper 30s. Severe shrinkage may be a factor and my 'pull string' might turn into a man-gina. Unforgettable? Yeah, it would be...

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Posting Constipation

Here I sit,
full of snark.
Tried to blog
but only farked.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Alcohol And Math

I have a friend who is a mathematician. Yet for such a smart guy, he tends to drink quite a bit. Actually, he only drinks on two occasions -- when he is thirsty and when he isn't.

My computating friend does realize that he has a problem. But instead of checking into one of those alcohol rehabs, he decided to sign up with Alcoholics Anonymous. I'm not sure why. I can tell that he isn't enthusiastic about the group. Instead of going to the meetings, he just sends in his empty bottles.

I can say that he has taught me a few things. For example, I now know that alcohol and calculus do not mix. So please always remember that old saying: "never drink and derive."

What's The Appeal of Scottsdale?

Scottsdale, Arizona must be quite a place. I have made friends with people who move from Scottsdale to North Carolina. After a year or two, they felt that they just had to move back. I've had other friends who went for a visit to Scottsdale. They love the area so much, they scouted the Scottsdale real estate, quickly located a home and a job, and never returned. I don't know what the appeal is ... but I'd like to find out!

I've Been Hacked?

Last week when I signed onto Yahoo to check my mail, I had a couple of instant messages from people I didn't know. The message would say something like, "Hey, remember me? It's been a long time. Check at my pictures here." I've been working with computers and security long enough to know not to click on any suspicious links. How they got my name, I don't know. But I thought those stupid IM were the extent of the hacking.

Yesterday morning, a friend of mine asked me about an IM that I sent her about a lnk to Geocities. I didn't send any IM. Last night, my girlfriend asked me about a similar instant message that she received from me. Again, I never sent any message. Great! Someone is using my name and sending bogus messages.

I've since scanned my work and home computers but they were clean. I've also changed my password to my yahoo account and will be probably do so daily for the next few days. Has anyone else received a falsified IM claiming to be from me? It's times like these that I hate the Internet...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Better Fund Raiser Ideas?

How effective are fund raisers? They might raise money but they definitely raise the blood pressure of everyone involved with tickets, merchandise and whatnot. The entire event always seems to take the 'fun' out of 'fund raiser'.

To lessen the painful process this year, my friend's daughter and members of her marching band brainstormed ideas to earn money in a more pleasant fashion. I can't reveal too many details about the winning idea because I'm sworn to secrecy until they launch their attack ... um, I mean, until they start their fund raiser. I can say that they have a unique ticket design which involves weaving the wicks from candles into small mats. With the onset of Halloween, they call these mats their 'Wicked tickets'. The prize? I can't tell you. The method? Again, I can't say until after this begins. But if all goes well, I know one marching band who will earn lots of money without raising any bad feelings.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Great Must-Have Video

Attention! Act in the next fifteen minutes and we will send you this action packed video of the greatest Rock and Roll bloopers of all times. Watch Aerosmith do the same song five times in a row without any one noticing. See that famous moment in television history when Keith Richards accepts his posthumous award ... in person! See Mick Jagger trip on his lip and break a hip. Watch Eddie Van Halen get his fingers wrapped arpeggio style in his guitar strings. All this and much, much more.

That's right, folks, this is the ultimate in rock-n-roll bloopers! When you see these rock tumblers and bunglers, you will roll with laughter. So call now, operators are standing by (because we don't have chair for them).

Friday, October 19, 2007

Can Sony Help Its Video Market Share?

The good news: Sony has dropped the price of its 80 gigabyte Playstation 3 by a hundred dollars to $499.

The maybe-bad/maybe-good news: Sony is discontinuing its PSP3 model that had a 60-gigabyte hard drive and also sold for $499.

The good news: In November, Sony will be introducing a new PSP3 model with a 40-gigabyte drive for $399.

The bad news: This new low end model won't play any of the Playstation 2 games as the costlier model does. Would you spend an extra $100 to double your drive space and have backwards compatibility with older games? I know a lot of gamers who say yes.

More bad news: Playstation is still the most expensive game system on the market!

For comparison, we have Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360 at $350 and Nintendo's Wii at $250. Is it any wonder that the Wii has sold over 9 million system while PSP3 has only sold 5 million?

I have a idea for Sony. It's all about the marketing. Look at Nintendo. One reason for the Wii's popularity are the games that involve physical exertion. All Sony needs to do is jump on the health fitness craze and throw in some exercise equipment. Either physical games or just have the PSP work only if the equipment is being used.

The good news: You get more for your money AND get into top Sony-fied shape.

The bad news: That's all the good news that I have for today....

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Park And Cover

When King Solomon wrote that there is a time and place for everything under the sun, he apparently never tried to park a car. Even if you have the good fortune to find a parking space, you have to contend with either lawless thieves breaking into your car or lawful thieves removing your ride because you didn't pay enough extortion at the parking meter.

Have you ever seen the car commercial where a guy has his new, expensive vehicle hidden in a car cover that looks like a junked automobile? I have yet to find anyone that makes those type of car covers. I had thought about a camouflage cover that makes your car blend into the road. But I realized that would lead to double parking -- when someone parks their car on top of yours. Oh well! As Shakespeare once said, "Farewell! Farewell! Parking is such sweet sorrow."

Children Never Grow up, Do They?

Even though my daughter recently turned a sophisticated 24 years old, deep down inside she's still a kid at heart. In the store the other day, we happened to be walking by kids bedding when she spied a set in the Transformers motif. I hadn't noticed anything until she squealed in delight at the discovery. I have no doubt that she will go back to the store and buy it. Fortunately, her fiancé is understanding and will probably have no problem sleeping in the company of Optimist Prime.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

My Game Can Beat Up Your Game

When video games made their entertaining presence known in the early 80s, I was there -- repairing, configuring, upgrading, collecting tons of quarters from these noisy boxes of fun. Then the games began their home invasion with Atari and Activision. Soon I had children (not because of the games) and bought Nintendo's offerings. But somewhere, somehow, the video games kept advancing while I lost the free time to keep up with them. Now I look at kids at stores playing playstation 3, and wii and xbox 360. They have the same excitement that we did way back then. Remember trying to move vertical strips to 'hit' a moving white square? I wonder if our parents felt the same way when they played with sticks and rocks.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Accident Lawyers

I caught a commercial by an attorney of a Raleigh accident lawyers group. He spoke about being upset by recent portrayals as an overpriced ambulance chaser. He talked about the joys he finds in helping people get whats due them and in getting paid a justifiable fee in the process.

Now who doesn't want justice to be served? Who can fault anyone for being paid a reasonable fee for their work? My qualm is with rewarding people for accidents caused by stupidity. Remember the restaurant who had to reward a woman when she spilled hot coffee on her lap? Or the furniture store forced into retribution to a woman who tripped over her misbehaving son and broke her ankle? Where is the justice in winning jury settlements for these potential candidates of the Darwin Awards?

I can understand the attorney's concern. Still, it's not like silly lawsuits are rare events. So if you'll excuse me, I'm going to pour ice water on my lap and sue myself for hypothermia. I'm sure I'll be able to find a lawyer who will help ...

Monday, October 15, 2007

skeptical children

Have you noticed how skeptical children can be, especially if it involves something that they don't want to do. My friend has twin boys who believe that sleep isn't a necessary function of health but rather an oppressive ritual imposed by their parents. They believe that night is for games and television. My wise friend knows otherwise. To disprove his offspring's erroneous beliefs, he has bought a pair of special beds known as debunk beds. For now, his children use beds more for creating bunk than dispelling it.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Kitchen Sinks

He was a greedy man with a very small house. But having limited living quarters didn't stop him from trying to accumulate as much as he could. Eventually his tiny bedroom, his bitty bathroom, his little living room were completely filled from floor to ceiling. No problem. He planned to eat and sleep in his undersized kitchen. That worked until that fateful day when he opened the kitchen door to find that there was only enough room for his hat. But like that fateful straw that broke the camel's back, his hat caused the entire kitchen to collapse into a sink hole that opened up from the weight of his worldly goods. So now he has everything ... including the kitchen sinks.

Vanilla Cow Patties

Once a year, Harvard University gives out awards, known as the Ig Nobel Awards, for obscure and often bizarre research and inventions. One winner turned out to be the recent discovery that Viagra helps hamsters overcome jet lag. Also winning top honors is a Japanese researcher who found a way to extract vanilla favoring from cow dung. I can't wait to see how the market research will go for this product. Will it have to be a blindfold test or can they do a straight survey? "So, Mrs. Johnson, what do you think about this new vanilla extract?" "I'm not sure. I think it tastes like sh.."....ould anyone doubt that there is a market for cow patty vanilla flavoring, think about that last time you drove past a recently fertilized field. Now, wouldn't you prefer the aroma of vanilla? You know this would be much better than having Baskin Robins add "Heifer Hunk Surprise" to their list of flavors.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Two More Days...

...and my two oldest children will be visiting with me for a week. I am excited about them being here and about the possibility that they might move here permanently in a few months. Still, because I haven't been able to fully recover from the divorce, I am embarrassed about the state of this house. Hopefully they will be comfortable despite the fact that I have very little home furniture. My daughter's response to my concern was "Don't worry. We're coming to be with you, not the house." That sentiment helps. As long as they have a good time while they are here, that's all that matter, yes?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Women At My Work are Sitting On a Gold Mine

The New York Knicks management didn't score on this one. I just read that a former executive won her sexual harassment lawsuit against the Knicks. Hopefully, the women at my place of work will take notice. Why? Because it is simply amazing what a couple of our upper managers get away with around here!

A few months ago, one overpaid sleeze bag was overheard asking one of the women on the production line, "Will you wear a crotchless panty if I bring it in?" She reacted as these women have been over these past several years -- by faking a laugh and quickly changing the subject. A few weeks ago, she suggested to the manager that she was getting tired of the harassment. Shortly after that, she was fired for being three minutes late to work.

I've told a few of the women that they are sitting on a gold mine. With a good lawyer, they could retire from this place and put a few of the good ol' boys out of business. But they say that they don't want to start any trouble.

My fired friend says that she can prove that she was wrongfully fired as well as sexually harassed. But her preacher husband has told to her forgive and forget and move to something better. Maybe this recently victory against the management of the Knicks will have my friends rethinking their passive roles.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Two Minutes of Free Advertising On TV

I understand how exciting places like Las Vegas and Miami get TV shows written about them -- all the drama, the mystery and fantasies that go on in the humdrum minds of viewers can make for a captive viewing audience. No doubt, the tourist bureau of such places doesn't have to worry about television advertising. So how does a place like Branson Missouri make it onto the boob tube? Somehow, somewhere, someone knew just the right people because I just watched a two minute scene featuring Branson on ... well, I better not say the name of the show. But it's one of the top adult-type cartoons that have been on the air for all of this century. Since I have done a couple of paid posts on Branson, it was surprising to see their local attractions featured as part of a storyline. I wonder if Branson paid for this or if someone in their tourist bureau just happened to have some compromising pictures. With Missouri being the "Show Me" state, I'll go with the compromising photos. After all, what happens in Branson, stays ... readily available for show.

Monday, October 01, 2007

My Meal On Wheels

If you visited my other blog at "Whats All This Then" then you've probably read how I turned my sports car into a camper. Since then, I have been thinking about how to expand its capabilities. During that last trip, my car was just a comfortable bed on wheels. The next step would be to add an outdoor kitchen to it. Maybe I could hook up one of those coolers to my cigerette lighter and chill a bottle of wine as I tour the roadways for several hours, letting dinner slowly cook on the engine block. This assumes that the cooler doesn't overload my car's puny electrical system. And yes, I know grease is bad for the health. Hopefully, oily food isn't as bad.

Doctors and Apples

If blood is so life-giving, why is it giving me so much trouble lately? For now let's just say that I'm learning how well technology has made medical devices extremely accurate and affordable for the average citizen. For example, with a pulse oximeter, you can indirectly measure the amount of oxygen and changes in blood volume in your skin. Before this little medical miracle of a device, the doctor had to shove a large needle into your arm to extract enough blood that would make even Dracula queasy. After that, there was that anxiety-building wait for the lab results. Today, you can get the same results within minutes. Not only that but you can get them as often as you like. Just imagine the fun you can have by annoying your friends with your latest findings until they secretly wish that you would die. Ain't technology grand! Well, hopefully it will help me now. If I had taken care of this issue a few years ago, things would probably be better. It wasn't the Apple-a-Day that kept the doctor away. It was the cost of my medical insurance. Thanks goodness the medical devices are cheaper now.