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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Have your people call my people

  My current co-workers are great in many ways. One of the best ways is that they are socially decisive when it comes to going out. A typical conversation goes like this:
Awesome coworker: I want to go out for a drink! Are you free Thursday?
Me: Yes!
AC: Let's go out to [Bar X]. I'll see you there at 7!

You know this impresses me. I am pretty good at facilitating outings, but I love it when other people facilitate, or when the people I'm working with make it easy. I LOVE how easy my co-workers make it. I'm also impressed by the decisiveness they use in picking a date and sticking to it. It means I get to go out often!

I've written in the past about how some of my other social groups propose social events, but actually scheduling them is like playing a one way version the game Battleship: they will tell you when they CANNOT go out if you propose a specific time, but they will not tell you when they CAN go out:
Gamma Squadron: I miss you gals! I have lots of news! We need to get together next week!
[Agreement from Alpha, Beta, and Delta Squadrons]
Me: How about Thursday?
GS: Miss.
Me: Wednesday?
BS: I have an exercise off the coast of Japan that night.
Me: Well, when are you free?
AS: I can't wait to see you all! You should know that I'll be busy Saturday evening with cooperative drills off the coast of Madagascar.
Me: With who? Madagascar doesn't have a navy, does it? What about Tuesday?
DS: Miss.
Despite this, we still get together quarterly, and have a GREAT time when we do.

This week's event challenge with a non-co-worker peer group involves something like a 'punch line.' It's when everyone is cooperating to move an event forward, and someone who ignored the discussion until the last minute suddenly jumps in to express disappointment on whatever has been agreed to. (This is similar to the "seagull manager:" an absentee superior who unexpectedly swoops in, poops all over everything, and then leaves.) I have declined invitations for other events to hang out with this group, but sometimes that just doesn't pay off, as the event doesn't come together. This week, It took FIVE CALENDAR DAYS to schedule a three person movie event, with one 'punch line' abstention. I will parody this here, for my amusement, if not for yours:
Day 1
Me: [message to five person social group] I want to see Vampire Robot Foreign Drama with Zombie Female Lead this week or weekend! Well, okay, let's just work with the weekend.

Cooperative1: Count me in! I'm free this weekend.

Day 2
Cooperative2: Count me in also! Both days this weekend work!

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5
Me: I guess that's everyone? Here is a list of possible times on Day6. I propose Time4 followed by dinner, with Time1 preceded by brunch as a backup.

Cooperative1: I endorse both of these plans, with Time4 taking precedence because you proposed it as the plan, and I am very cooperative.

Cooperative2: I also endorse Time4, though I wish to endorse the other plan if it draws in additional participants, such as PunchLine, who may not be available at some point over the 24 hour period that is Sunday. PunchLine?

Cooperative3: I will be away all weekend, but that's for thinking of me!

Me: [110 hours after sending the initial proposal] Great! I have another invitation for Time1, so Time4 it is!

PunchLine: [Half an hour later, about 111 hours after the proposal went out] Oh. I guess that doesn't work for me.
The lesson: decisive people are considerate people, cooperative people are considerate people, and everyone else can sit on the floor playing with tinker toys (<- cool) ALONE (<-less cool), because I'm done with them.

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posted by Arlene (Beth)10:20 AM

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I [heart] the Warning Label Generator

  godzilla warning labelThe Warning Label Generator at is my favorite thing on the web right now. Probably because I am a silly person. But the labels are EXCELLENT.

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posted by Arlene (Beth)9:30 PM

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Parody news source over the pond

  The Daily Mash ('It's News To Us') ( is one of the UK's answers to the Onion ( So, if you've been hoping for an Onion that makes fun of the royal family, or has articles with titles like "ONLY WAY TO SAVE BLACKPOOL TOURISM IS TO DESTROY REST OF UK, SAY EXPERTS," you should click on the link above.

My favorite item there recently: The Daily Mash - MICROSOFT OFFERS STUDENTS CUT-PRICE INFURIATING CRAP:
The company said the operating system will be ready to download from 22 October and after clicking through all the user agreements and restarting your system 85 times it should be ready to install unsuccessfully by Christmas.
Since I haven't linked to the Onion for at least a paragraph, let me also note the excellence of the following: Melting Ice Caps Expose Hundreds Of Secret Arctic Lairs (, 9/18/2009) and this awesome cover of the Onion Weekender (, 9/20/2009).

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posted by Arlene (Beth)10:00 PM

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Tempest in an overpriced organic tea pot

  I think I know what Whole Foods CEO John Mackey's actual, failed evil plan was for his recent, wacky editorial John Mackey: The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare - ( I'm surprised it didn't work, because it generally does.

If you are unaware, the CEO of Whole Foods has inspired boycotts and barrages of thoroughly entertaining counter-commentary by slamming not just Obama's health proposals, but the very idea than any living person should feel entitled to health care, food, or shelter in a classic conservative opinion piece that is even now, somewhere in this country, being used to deny orphans in some backwater child-warehouse a hot lunch.

He argues for some hilarious right-wing positions, such as that only charity should provide care for the uninsured (recently laid off executives and 40-years-of-service machinists, this means you!), and that what is covered by insurance should be based on what is profitable and popular. Popular likely is intended to mean profitable, as there is no mechanism for "popular choice" voting on your coverage when you are diabetic or have cancer.

I, personally, am convinced that Mr. Mackey thought no one would actually absorb the details of his position, that it would be impossible for anyone to take a stand against his positions, because he put in some information that is guaranteed to wipe the minds of all American readers. I'm going to quote him here, at risk of having you find yourself wandering aimlessly beside a freeway, unsure of how you arrived there. Here are his words:
Unfortunately many of our health-care problems are self-inflicted: two-thirds of Americans are now overweight and one-third are obese. Most of the diseases that kill us and account for about 70% of all health-care spending—heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and obesity—are mostly preventable through proper diet, exercise, not smoking, minimal alcohol consumption and other healthy lifestyle choices.

Recent scientific and medical evidence shows that a diet consisting of foods that are plant-based, nutrient dense and low-fat will help prevent and often reverse most degenerative diseases that kill us and are expensive to treat. We should be able to live largely disease-free lives until we are well into our 90s and even past 100 years of age.
We all know it: Americans ignore science-based diet and health advice of all kinds with amazing mental skill. You can literally watch people's eyes roll back into their heads as they experience a terrible, brief struggle to justify the chicken-fried steak with French fries in front of them, knowing that every major scientific institution has repeatedly announced that, moderation be damned, that crap will kill you. As a culture, Americans block this kind of data out so eagerly, so quickly, that they are temporarily disoriented and lose their place in conversation before realizing where they are, erasing all information recently absorbed, and dipping the next bite of fried batter into melted butter.

I believe this: Mr. Mackey was so convinced that our minds would be wiped clear by our panic to justify our alarming way of eating that the rest of his editorial would seem nearly sane. It failed, which shocks me: this may be a first in this country. A variety of incredibly powerful forces had to work in concert for this brain-wiping not to work. I'm currently crediting several things: the dissatisfaction of the lucky insured with their coverage (if this is the best we have to offer, we should reboot and try again); the masses of the newly uninsured who realize that they still have physical bodies, despite not having jobs; Obama's popularity; and the fact that Mackey didn't drop the mind-wipe-bomb until people were already feeling outraged.


The best part of the timing of this editorial: it is during the Obama Administration. If this we were still under the previous Administration, Mr. Mackey would be assigned to be the first responder to all flu pandemics, anthrax scares, and other health menaces. He would be the first to say that if the free market hadn't already developed a cure for pig/deer/cow/hamster flu, we aren't rich enough to deserve to survive it anyway. That would be awesome.


P.S. To Mackey: it's not "other people's money" we're going to spend on health care, it is MINE. I want my taxes spent on health care (among other things), like millions of other people. That's called popular choice, and you mention it often enough that you might know what it means.

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posted by Arlene (Beth)7:00 AM

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

This is where you place an order. Please place an order. Please.

  I get some entertaining rants from a friend of mine, who has difficulty dealing with people who fail to emulate the urban model we identify with, which could be summed up in a word: decisive. We (like to think that we) walk in straight lines to specific destinations, rather than slaloming the sidewalk with our mouths hanging open; we exit through exits, rather than block them; we step completely off the escalator, rather than marvel that the ground is no longer moving; we know how to order coffee and other foods in venues that serve same, pay, and then step aside. We know these are skills. We value and respect these skills.

Not everyone does. Hence, fun rants, sometimes complete with phone photos of the offending parties.

Here is a sample, stripped of the photographic evidence:
The same two [expletive] people have been at the register for the past 5 minutes. I don't think they know what the [gentle expletive] they want and are asking the cashier to repeat the menu and then asking for substitutions. The [breakfast all day] menu is pretty simple. Not a [fancy pants European] restaurant serving small plates.

I am a control for the staff. My transaction takes about 80 seconds.
No, we should not switch to decaf. We are not addicts - we can stop anytime we wa...

But I digress. I also fail to understand people who go into restaurants - especially, but not limited to, CHAIN restaurants with limited and set menus - and want some dish that isn't really on the menu, but it is what they are in the mood for. I always assume these people were raised in places where they had to flat-bottom-boat their way to school, or where bears might have eaten their homework, and they simply don't know why restaurants have menus. Or perhaps their smart-ass cousin told them that there are 'wonderful restaurants where they serve anything you could want' in big cities, by which she meant that you can choose a restaurant that happens to serve what you want, not that ANY restaurant will serve ANYTHING you want, and that nuance was lost upon these folks when they left their caves.

I say these things for humor, but I know these people are not from caves, or swamps, or bear-country: they are from our own suburbs and even some of our own neighborhoods - they look the same as everyone else, they have our local accents, they have the same silly haircuts, they are only rarely dressed as lumberjacks. However, I still suspect this may be why cities used to be built surrounded by high walls: so people just outside the densest districts wouldn't be allowed in to waste everyone else's time while ordering food.

I've been in line behind people who had difficulty ordering a BAGEL. And I don't mean once they ask if you want it sliced or toasted, I mean they struggle to get to that phase.

I've heard people cite studies about how there are optimal LOW numbers of choices, after which people become vexed by having too many options. Because people are SILLY. But I didn't catch the details, because I had ordered my food quickly and efficiently, and was already enjoying my appetizer and beverage.

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posted by Arlene (Beth)10:00 PM

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