Friday, April 07, 2006

Pun, with fruit

Have you had enough?!? Can't take it anymore?!? Well I for one am right behind these guys ... The Grapes of Wrath

Check out more photos. These guys can be found under the Challenges: Literary Adventure category.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Check out the art

Hey Amelia! This guy works in DC. You ever see his outdoor art in your big city wanderings? Check out his site for more cool photos from around Virginia and Baltimore, as well as DC. I particularly like the one below—which is made from packing tape—and the walker locked to the street sign like a bike. That's hilarious!

If this is a joke, where's the punchline?

It is rare that fiction becomes real. For instance, please enjoy the following joke and then compare it to the bit of reality it aligns with:

A man standing in line at a check out counter of a grocery store was very surprised when a very attractive woman behind him said, "Hello!" Her face was beaming. He gave her that "who are you look," and couldn't remember ever having seen her before. Then, noticing his look, she figured she had made a mistake and apologized. "Look," she said, "I'm really sorry but when I first saw you, I thought you were the father of one of my children," and walked out of the store.

The guy was dumbfounded and thought to himself, "What the hell is the world coming to? Here is an attractive woman who can't keep track of who fathers her children!"

Then he got a little panicky. "I don't remember her," he thought but, maybe ... during one of the wild parties in college, perhaps he did father her child!

He ran from the store and caught her in the parking lot and asked, "Are you the girl I met at a party in college and we got really drunk and had wild crazy sex on the pool table in front of everyone?"

"No," she said with a horrified look on her face. "I'm your son's second grade teacher."

And now for a dose of reality. While reading a recent edition of the paper, I was skimming the pages to see if the stories might actually be interesting even though the headlines were not. Near the end of one story, a paragraph began with:
"The fathers of a lot of my children are in Iraq," she said. "So it's especially nice to have Mister Rogers."
I just about bust a gut and then I read the paragraph above that quote: " ... and C____ , a first-grade teacher at Fort L_____ , watches [Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood] with her students."

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

A tale of two service automotons

What follows is true, only the names have been changed to protect the identities of the victims and their families, even though we laughed with them long after the events occurred and the frustration dissipated.

In this age of circuitous touch-tone phone options all designed to keep consumers from talking to a real live carbon-unit and humanoid-type automotons trained to keep you talking in circles until you surrender your dignity and hang up the phone, we bring you these stories of success!! Not tall tales of Davids slaying Goliaths but real accounts of John and Jane Does going toe-to-toe with The Man and emerging victorious. For those of you just looking to avoid corporate phone mazes, check out the Gethuman Database.

Account One: Keep asking the question

While planning a trip to Europe for two adults and their two children, our heroine whom we'll call Heroine, bought the airline tickets online. The price included a $50 discount per child. However, when the bill arrived, the discount was not there. A phone call to the airline ensued. Because ticket prices change more often than some people's socks, the airline drone was unable to find the online deal that matched the discounted price. A battle of wills ensued. Heroine was not going away until the $50 x 2 was refunded and the drone had entered the default programming loop that would normally wear down the ripped-off customer until he or she hangs up.

Heroine handed the phone off to Mr. Heroine who had a very simple and affective strategy: ask one question over and over.
Mr. H: I would like to speak to your supervisor.
Drone: That's not possible.
Mr. H: Oh, are you the CEO?

As Mr. Heroine slowly navigated his way up the food chain, Heroine went online and found the Board of Directors for the airline. She then whipped off an email to one of the board members explaining very calmly and completely the situation and still-ongoing lack of resolution. Before the electrons from the message had even cooled, Heroine's cell phone rang. The board member on the other end of the line said she would take care of the problem and the discounted prices would be honored.

Take that, customer service drone!

Account Two: Dial 'S' for Someone Important

Our heroine, whom we'll call College Mom, purchased a small fridge for her college-bound offspring's dorm room. It was a well-known name brand and included the feature that the door could be hinged on either side to open from either left-to-right or right-to-left. This design hinges on, no pun intended, a small plastic piece that was missing from the box or broken (the author apologizes for blurry facts). A call to the fridge manufacturer ensued, as you knew it would.

Pseudo-resolution: "We'll take care of that right away," said the drone. After sending in copies of the receipt, the UPC from the box, the serial number of the fridge, and
tidal charts from the day it was purchased, a replacement part was sent—for a different model! When College Mom called the company again, she was told a part could not be sent out because a part was already sent once before.

Because a fridge to match the part was not forthcoming, College Mom decided to talk to someone who actually had some power: the president of the company. Now, his number was not out there for just any joe-schmoe to call but she realized it had to be in the company phone maze somewhere, right? So, she called the company back and when the computer suggested that she could type in the letters of the name of whom she wanted to reach, she started spelling out common names. After a few tries of Jones and White and Smith, a very helpful voice responded...

Helpful Voice: Yes, this is _________ .
College Mom: Oh, I'm sorry. I was trying to reach the president.
HV: Oh, just a moment. I'll put you right through.
President: This is Bob. (not really named Bob)
CM: Are you really the president?
Bob: Yes, ma'am.

She then told her whole story and concluded with something along the lines of: The part must only cost like 25-cents.
Bob: Actually, it only costs 2-cents.

Needless to say, she got her part.

It should not have to be so hard.

Two categories

All the objects in the entire world can be divided into two distinct categories. You doubt me? I'm not talking about people and will therefore avoid political (liberal vs conservative), racial (white versus everybody else) and social (men vs women, rich vs poor) discussions. No, my division is practical. Let me begin again...

The entire world can be divided into two categories:
1) Things that CAN contain the used kitty litter for transport to the curb, and
2) Things that definitely can NOT

Used milk cartons: Can
Shoeboxes: Can, but not without the accompanying guilt over not recycling the cardboard
The ubiquitous plastic grocery bag: Can
Weekly postcard of pizza coupons: Not
Dirty laundry: Can, but do you ever want to wear the clothes again? If so, Not
Newspaper: Can, with or without creative origamical folding
Dirty dishes: Not, not, not, not, not
Cereal boxes: see shoeboxes above

You may be wondering how this question even came to be asked. Well, as you can imagine, when you have four indoor feline furballs who spend most of their time converting food into used food, the question is bound to come up sooner or later. Not long ago, the house was awash in plastic grocery bags, the default collection device. They were everywhere: in the cupboards, in the pantry, under the furniture, on top of the fridge, in the closets, on the bookshelves (behind both the comic books and the graduate school math texts), and—last but not least—spilling out of their special cloth holding tube hanging on the wall above Used Food Depository #1.

As it happens, time passes. During said time, my shopping habits changed. I began to buy less at the grocery and more at the farmer's market and organic/health food store. Neither of these places readily hands out plastic bags, they use paper instead. These bags leave the house as fast as they come in, albeit stuffed to bursting with newspapers. Since the food conversion habits of the furballs did not change, the plastic bag population slowly decreased until they were completely eradicated. I was finally forced to ask the question and get creative. Disaster was averted with some clever topological solutions. That is, I found containers where none were seen before and I got through until the supply of bags could be replenished.