Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Sock Puppet, Bernie, And Me

From a comment to another post: 'The latest Tama Janowitz novel ("They Is Us") features a lonely old man whose only social contacts are the people who write him scam letters. He's always trying to offer them advice ("Maybe you shouldn't be so trusting of me? Maybe you should learn more about me before you offer me all this money? Let me tell you something about MY life...") It's very funny and very sad.'

I should try that. I'm getting older, and I don't have that many friends since my hamster died. Not that many. Not any, really.

Sure, after the freeze-drying he still looked pretty much the way he always did. Though of course he'd slowed down a lot. Death all by itself does that, let alone freeze-drying, but we still had a good relationship, and he was available all the time. Whenever I needed someone to confide in, he was there, since he no longer slept all day.

And hamsters are naturally quiet. You might not know that. You don't get a hamster if you want noise. They aren't noisy. They're for quiet conversations, for confiding in, for working through things. You want noise and a lot of action, then it's dogs. It would be a big change if your dog died, but for a hamster no. Not really so much. They don't change all that much.

So our relationship continued.

Everything was fine for a good long while. You know a cynic would say that it couldn't be the same because I'd have to grab his little dry corpse and move it around because, of course, it was a corpse, and didn't move on its own, but really, no, it isn't all that different after you get used to it. Hamsters are always snuffling around and digging into things, and kind of twitchy, but it's like they're listening to you all the same, and they aren't noisy, so it really wasn't all that different.

Well, everything really was pretty good for a while. I'm not that social. Just someone to talk to every now and then, that's about all I need. I'm not typical that way, but it works for me.

But then Bernie made a couple of unscheduled trips off the kitchen counter way down onto the tile floor and things got a bit strange. These incidents introduced some unfortunate changes, and our conversations just haven't been the same since.

For one thing something broke loose inside, I don't know what. You wouldn't expect this. You look at a live hamster (or a freeze-dried one in my case), and the first thing you think (if you even think about it at all) is "solid all the way through". No. No longer.

Now he rattles a little when I shake him. I don't do that much but I do it sometimes when we're having an argument. He never did that before, especially when he was alive, the rattling, though I suppose I've gotten somewhat rougher since his death. Gentleness is less important now.

Hamsters are sturdy but really quite delicate in some ways, and you can't simply throw them around, squeeze them, or give way to anger just because of a little disagreement. Not with live ones. At the very least they bite, and can be quite fierce, but are very much too easily injured, so you hold back. You control yourself for the good of the relationship.

Well, that rattling was one thing. Only one thing, sadly.

After a few months of this his fur was starting to look disorderly, exhibiting some disarray, and became a bit matted in spots. I didn't know what to do. Something.

I really should have known better, but I tried shampoo. I tried shampooing him.

What a disaster. Almost immediately he began to balloon up (freeze-dried, remember?) and then, eventually, got all mooshy inside. I believe it wasn't the shampoo as such, but the rinsing. Rinsing took a lot of water, more than I expected. I didn't know a hamster could soak up so much. I mean, sponges, yes, but you don't expect a freeze-dried hamster to hold so much.

I wasn't thinking.

But what else could I do? He was sort of like this little furry bag. Couldn't stand up anymore. I had him set in a cute upright position with his little front paws just ready to reach out for a treat. No more. It took about a week of dangling from a wire hanger by a clothespin before he firmed up again, at all, and then I noticed it - mold.

Talk about creepy.

Once mold gets a foothold the game is about over. Seriously. But he's still about all I've got for now.

Yeah, there are days when I think of taking him out for a drive in the car, and when we get out there, far enough from home, just making a quick flip and out he goes, through the window, over the side, down into the grassy ravine and that's the end of it, before he even knows it's happening.

But this isn't like the old days.

The household is down to only us two. If the sock puppet was still here, Bernie would be gone in a flash, but that isn't the way the game played out. Mr. Socky had some serious problems and had to go. Serious, serious problems. Really. Serious. Problems.

At first he seemed OK, and was a welcome addition to the family, and we all had some good times together, great times even, but his dark side surfaced all too soon.

I can't go into it right now but eventually things got very strange. Some nights Bernie and I even locked ourselves into the bedroom and stayed there until daylight, but even then our eyes kept returning nervously to that crack under the door. Sock puppets can squeak through some really narrow places, and the last thing we wanted to see was Mr. Socky sliding in for a visit. I still shudder to think of some of the things we had to go through.

Well, after too many unpleasant experiences and, let's be honest, close calls, Bernie and I just left one night. Just like that. Sneaked out. Changed apartments. Changed cities. Changed states even. Got a new phone number, a new mailing address, new job. The whole deal. Never heard from Mr. Socky again, though we kept our guard up for a long time. A long, long time.

But the downside is, well, the family is pretty well down to just me now. Bernie won't be around that much longer. Not the way that mold is going. I really don't know if I should try having a talk with him or simply end it with a one way car ride, but then where will I be?

I don't even have anyone writing me scam letters. No one at all. It's just me here.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Feeling Dead Today?



 Undead Anonymous:   NecroBufrin, the Undead's Antidepressant

Necrobufrin can't make you alive again but it sure can make you feel that way. Go

Posted via email from Dave's posterous

Monday, April 26, 2010

2010 Procession of the Species



 The Olympian:  Procession of the Species: World of Wonder

Celebration: Fanciful frolic highlights connection to Earth. This year, National Geographic awarded it a geotourism designation. Go
More: dreamsjung's photostream

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

I Propose To Eat Your Brain

Excellent Letter From Mr William Patricks For the benefit of our both Family.

From Mr Williams Patricks,

Director Incharge of Dept Recovery Department In Bank Of Africa (b.o.a) Ouagadougou Burkina Faso.

West Africa.

Dear Partner,

This is an Excellent Letter from Mr Williams Patricks the chief auditor incharge of debt recovery department section in bank of africa (B.O.A). ouagadougou burkina faso west africa.

My dear partner in advance,I presumed that all is well with you and your family,

Please let this do not be a surprise proposal to you because i got your contact information from the international directory in few weeks ago before i decided to contact you on this magnitude and lucrative transaction for our future survival in life.Moreover, I have laid all the solemn trust in you before i decided to disclose this successful & confidential Project to you.

I am Mr Williams Patricks the chief auditor incharge of debt recovery department section in foreign remittance department in our bank and i have had the intent to contact you over this financial project worth the sum of thirty one million, united states dollars ($31,000,000.00 ) for our success.

This is an abandoned sum that belongs to one of our bank foreign customers who died along with his entire family through plane crash disaster since few years ago.Meanwhile i was very fortune to came across the deceased file when i was arranging the old and abandoned customers files in other to sign and submit to the entire bank management for an official re-documentations after the audit meeting 2009.

Please be informed clearly that it was stated in our banking rules and regulations which was signed lawfully that if such fund remains unclaimed till the period of 8 years started from the date when the beneficiary died, the money will be transferred into the treasury as an unclaimed fund.

As an honour and advantage bestowed to our foreign customers base on the rules guideing our bank, it was stated obviously that if you are not a burkina faso citizen, You have the absolute authority to claim the fund hence you are a foreigner despite your differences from the country of origin of the deceased.So the request of you as a foreigner is necessary to apply for the claim and transfer of the fund smoothly into your reliable bank account as the next of kin or extended relative to the deceased.

On the transfer of this fund into your account, { 35% } will be your share in respect of the account provision and your assistance rendered during the transfer of the fund into your bank account and 45% will be my share being the codinator of the Project. and10%will be for the expencies that will occure during the Project.while 10 % will be shared to the respectable organisations centers such as charity organisation, motherless babies homes, and helpless disabled people in the world.

If you are really sure of your trustworthy, accountability and confidentiality on this Project, contact me and agree that you will not change your mind to cheat or disappoint me when the fund have getting into your account.

Besides you should not entertain any fear because i am sure of the success as an insider in the bank ok.Please reply through my private Email adress below williamspatricks@[redacted].com with the assurance, include your private telephone and fax numbers necessary to facilitate an easy communications in this transaction as soon as you reply so that i will let you know the next step to follow in order to finalize this Project immediately.I expect your urgent communications.

Yours sincerely MR WILLIAMS.

[Maybe you got one of these too. If not, enjoy mine.]

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Friday, April 23, 2010

Where Do Boogers Go When They Die?



 Life in the Cubicle Examiner:   Workplace tips and tricks: 8 ways to get rid of boogers in your cubicle

Out of sight, out of mind...you know what I mean? Go

Posted via email from Dave's posterous

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Discovery

Are you worth it?

I see this reiterated time and again: a business plan is not a plan for the business. It isn't a roadmap. It isn't a guide. It will not ensure success. It is not useful.

Except for a couple of things. Well, one, really. A business plan is useful for impressing business persons. Other business persons. Like bankers, investors, and other sometimes necessary representatives of evil.

But that's it.

There was one study I saw referenced, about young, go-gettem entrepreneurs, and how, despite the odds, they made it big. Or kind of big. Or how they made it, even if you wouldn't call it big. They made it anyway.

And those people said this and that and the other, and were proud, and tired, and a bit scarred. But they had made it.

And then one other thing, too.

They all said that almost immediately after going into business, each had to change plans. Radically. Some within almost the first few hours, some a little later on. But soon, and radically, and more than once, most of them. It was the kind of thing you've heard before: "If I'd known then what I know now I wouldn't even have tried."

Yes you've heard it.

You may even have said it.

But the real point is, well two real points - one is that they succeeded and the other is that they were intelligently flexible, which is what you are not if you spend months and possibly thousands coming up with a business plan, and ride it all the way down.

Because, you know, it's The Plan. And all. Crash. Burn.

Another interesting thing I read recently was how it isn't the business plan that's important but the business model: what kind of thing you want to do and how you want to go about doing it. Like who are you and what are you going to do with what you have?

A plan does not go with this territory. A plan is like wearing only a hankie to a funeral. Not adequate. (Not even!) And certainly not appropriate.

A plan is a plan. Plan on it, a little, but don't bet on it.

Look, if you could see the future, well in the first place life would suck pretty badly. But OK, boring, we know that.

The point is if you could see the future, you'd know. You'd come up with some kind of plan and every single step would snick into place at exactly the right time in the right way and to the right amount and all the rest. You really would not even have to write it down, because you'd just know.

That ever happen?

Naw.

That is exactly why people like sports so much.

Every team or individual competitor, whichever it is, goes in with a plan. A plan not just spelled out or photocopied and put into three-ring binders, but a plan that includes years of training and discipline, of studying the sport and the competition, and the venue and every possible variable. And as often as not the wildly unexpected happens.

In fact the unexpected always happens. Many unanticipated twists and turns appear every second. Every now and then you squeak your way to the desired outcome, but you can't count on it. That's why they call it squeaking out a victory. That's why people go nuts for sports. Because they never know for sure. Until the very end.

That's why business plans are odd curiosities, mildly amusing, but almost pointless.

Unless you must have one to impress someone who thinks that they are a pretty nifty idea. And most of those people are not really that bright. They just can't think of anything else to do. So they ask to see your business plan. So they can act like they know something.

Well, plans are one thing, but another is luck.

You can't blindly rely on your business plan, and you can't blindly rely on luck. If you've ever heard of the Horatio Alger stories you got the wrong idea. They aren't about an enterprising young lad making his way in the world by sheer pluck. Nope.

They all involve an enterprising young lad making his way in the world, exhibiting mass quantities of pluck, who then is discovered by a generous rich man who decides to reward said young man with a wad of cash or a fat job, or all of the above plus his daughter's hand in marriage and so on, but it is not hard work or talent or persistence that win the day. The kid always (Always!) gets a hugely lucky break.

It is discovery, being discovered.

Waiting to be discovered is the worst business plan of all. That is like waiting around on the street corner to sell your soul for bus fare so you can get to the blood bank and sell plasma for food. Not a smart way to make a living, either as a business plan or as a business model.

If you wait to be discovered, or you plan on having your business discovered, and figure you'll see everything work out wonderfully after that happens, uh-uh. Forget it.

You will only have sold yourself to possibly the only bidder who thought they could suck a bit of blood from you, and who has much more money and power than you do, and is willing to take away all you can produce, and drop you like a dead rat if you don't pay off.

So, business plans are not so good, and relying on luck is not so good, and building up your business to the point that it looks to someone like they can make a killing at your expense is not so good, so what? What then?

Here's where we get back to that business model idea.

If you are in business, and have a reason to be in business, and want to do something businesslike in a certain way, then you have a chance.

But you have to do it yourself. It takes time and intelligence and faith and hard work. And you might fail. That could happen.

But at least you'll have a chance that way. At least you'll have a chance.

So believe in yourself. If you don't, no one else will do it for you, even if they say they will.

From buznutt.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Rails Tutorial News


 Rails Tutorial News:   A new Chapter 2 for Ruby on Rails Tutorial

This new chapter presents a high-level overview of Rails, including a discussion of MVC, REST, and the Rails class hierarchies. Go

Posted via email from Dave's posterous

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Stalin in the Tea Party



 AlterNet:   The Roots of Stalin in the Tea Party Movement

The Tea Party movement's secret is that its backers owe their fortune to the granddaddy of all their hatred: Stalin. Go

Posted via email from Dave's posterous

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

How To Rise Fast At Work



 Forbes:   How To Rise Fast At Work: A True Story

This is a true story about two acquaintances of mine. One knew instinctively exactly how to get ahead in the workplace. The other thought he knew--and was dead wrong. Go

Posted via email from Dave's posterous

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

ghee happy



 ghee happy:   The Little Book of Hindu Deities

Find out why Ganesha has an elephant's head (his father cut it off!), why Kali, the Goddess of Time, is known as "The Black One" (she's a bit goth), and what Hare Krishna really means. Go

Posted via email from Dave's posterous

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Steampunk workstation



 Gizmo Watch:   Steampunk All-in-one workstation

The Victorian Organ Command Desk has an iPhone doc, horn speakers on either side, USB and card media readers, a scanner under the keyboard, a clock face flanked in 6 LCD digital picture frame displays and a pair of coach lamps with neon flicker bulbs. Go

Posted via email from Dave's posterous

Monday, April 05, 2010

This Book Has One Great Cover

Living And Investing In The New Nicaragua, by Tim Rogers

This book has an incredibly lovely cover. The front side has a picture of a parrot, a volcano, and a slender woman standing on a beach in front of a golden sky. How can you beat that? And if that wasn't enough, there is a stylized image of the Nicaraguan flag in all its blue and white glory. But, hey, there's even more. Bullet points. About what is in the book.

Of course the front cover is only the beginning, though many will stop there. For the truly adventurous, just turn to the back cover. There you will find, to your relief (I know this was true for me), that the very same color scheme continues. How great is that? There is a thumbnail map of the country and a small but colorful photo of some of those funky, Central American type buildings. I don't know what they are, but they are definitely not from around here!

Then, there are more bullet points.

The spine of the book echoes the title, with the word "Nicaragua" in large type, and all caps to boot. Imagine my amazement! Plus, the author's last name.

With a cover like this you hardly want to go any farther, but if you do you'll find out all kinds of interesting things. Take page 122, for example. Did you know that "1 acre=.43,560 square feet"? I don't know about you, but I had thought that acres were bigger than square feet, and what's with that comma? This is a whole new numerical system I guess, one that wasn't even mentioned while I was earning that physics degree, so I guess college isn't everything. Glad I read this book though, or I never would have known.

So say that I do go to Nicaragua and while I'm sort of living, I decide to have some fun. What to do?

Well, on page 198 it says that I could go "balooning". What ever that is. I can't hardly guess, but it could be an adventure! Or something. Maybe it's a place to eat.

And if I get tired of that, and actually decide to stay anyway and want to start a business, for example. Well, Mr. Rogers goes into that, explaining a bit about the whole biz environment and all, and then spends three pages virtually leaping up and down about "Forming A Panamanian (Offshore) Corporation".

More news for me, folks. I had no idea that Panama was part of Nicaragua. Or whatever. But I guess I was wrong there too!

So after I do that Panamanian (Offshore) Corporation thing, and want to hire someone for my business? Shucks. Just see pages 50 through 57, where this book actually lists, line by line, a whole chunk of Nicaragua's labor code. But if that dizzies me but I nevertheless keep moving, and my thumb starts to get sore from skipping so many of the following pages, well on page 161 I will stop, because it gets even more interesting.

Why? Why is that, Sir? Because starting there is printed, verbatim as far as I can tell, "RESIDENT PENSIONERS OR INDIVIDUALS LIVING ON INVESTMENTS ACT DECREE NO. 628 NATIONALCONSTITUTIONAL ASSEMBLY OF THE REPUBLIC OF NICARAGUA". All in caps. And it goes on for six pages. I am SO impressed!

Like I didn't know this at all: "Article 13. Probative documents that must be submitted, in accordance with this Act, must be issued in compliance with the legal requirements, provided for in the respective legislation, and written in the Spanish language." Now let me tell you, there are not many books that would tell you that. In fact, not even one that I could conceive of, except this one. And at no extra charge.

Banking? More fun facts. For example, were you aware that time flows backward in Nicaragua? It does. "...during the government of Arnoldo Aleman (1996-200), during which time..." Man, that dude was president a LONG TIME, and he did it BACKWARDS too. No wonder Reagan was so itchy to bomb them. No telling how dangerous they could have been if left unattended. Backwards!

And yet, there is so much more.

Page 125, a facsimile of an entire page of classified ads from La Prensa (where else would you see that?).

Pages 143-151, a confidential report on something that seems to be related to business or something that mentions (I understood this part) how cool it is to see Pizza Hut, TGI Fridays, Blockbuster Video, Hertz, Avis. "You name it, and Nicaragua now has it." That's my kind of foreign adventure, folks. I just love places where I can go TGI-crazy.

All of the above, plus many more sidebars, all carefully printed in black text on a dark gray background. To cut the glare I think, or make it hard to read, in case someone is spying on you.

And ads for doctors and dentists and lawyers and real estate agents, which definitely set this book apart, not to mention the two page ad for other books by the same publisher, which I actually paid for by buying this book, so that I could have my very own copy of their ads, always, in my book.

Oh, man, if this book didn't have such a professional-looking cover, I would be tempted to send away for a huge pile of brochures and scrape all kinds of random internet sites and just throw together my own book, but I could never afford to have such a nice cover made, so I guess I'm stuck with this one.

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