A forum for the indifferent, malcontent, misfit, and lutraphobic

Disclaimer - This blog contains opinions basted with one or more of the following: logic, satire, irony, bitter thoughts, self-deprecation, and purely by accident, humor - and no, it's not in Latin.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Filthy Dirt Sucker

A couple weeks back, I got a phone call that changed my outlook on life forever.  You see, I was a real skeptic before this call.  When offered anything of value with no perceived commitment or required purchase, I'd assume it was a scam and blow the person off.

This archaic, unenlightened approach to life was blown away with this one short phone call.  With this divine telephonic outreach, I realized that there truly is good in the world and when someone says you've been selected to win a $500 shopping spree and a 3-day/2-night vacation at one of many destinations around the globe, just for inviting someone in your house for an easy product demo and survey, you'd be a chump to not take advantage of this naive person.

Apparently I'd answered a few "survey" questions a few weeks prior and had been entered into a completely legit "drawing" and won these fantastic prizes.  What were the survey questions about you ask?  They were hard-hitting and extremely valuable ones relating to my age, sex, and marital status.  And something about my preference regarding "Boxers vs. Briefs."

Because of my esteemed cooperation, I'd won.  I was a winner.  I hadn't won something this major since dominating a game of musical chairs and winning a lemon meringue pie back in '85 (Beth, if you're out there somewhere, I'd just like to apologize one more time for totally accidentally clothes-lining you in the neck with my boney arm, stepping on your femur (twice), and using your crumpling body as a prop to keep me from falling as I blew past you to the last remaining chair.  I sincerely hope everything has healed properly).

Still, being a skeptic, I had to do my diligence to make sure this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity was completely legitimate.  So, I turned the tables and played the role of market researcher.  Behold me unveil the facts like a seasoned CIA interrogator.

Me:  "I don't have to buy anything?"
Very Pleasant But Suspiciously Vague Woman:  "No. All you need to do to claim your prize is participate in a product demo and answer some survey questions at the end."
Me:  "Well, that sounds good.  What's the product?"
VPBSVW:  "It's a new high-end vacuum."
Me: "Interesting.  Are you guys going to try to sell me a vacuum?"
VPBSVW:  "Getting you to answer the survey questions about the product is my guy's primary concern."
Me:  "Are you sure you're not going to try to sell me a vacuum?"
VPBSVW:  "The product will be available for purchase, if you like it."
Me:  "This is market research though right?"
VPBSVW:  "Mm hmm."
Me:  "And this is not a sales call?"
VPBSVW:  "Yes."  
Me:  "Wait, yes it's not a sales call or yes it is a sales call?"
VPBSVW:  "Yes."  
Me:  "Can you be more specific."  
VPBSVW:  "No.  My legal team will not let me."  
Me:  "But I still win a $500 shopping spree without buying anything right?
VPBSVW:  "Right."  
Me:  "$500 U.S., right?"

VPBSVW:  "Yes! And don't forget the 3 day/2 night trip also!"

It's clear to me at this point that I better act fast before this idiot company goes bankrupt.  I confirm a 45 minute in-home product demo for later that afternoon and hang up the phone.  
Me:  "Heh, suckers!"

A gentleman named Mike showed up that afternoon and, after buttering us up with small talk that would embarrass a politician, launched right into his demo.   He pulled out what can best be described as a fat, blue robot.  "This," said Mike "is the Blue Thunder!"  That's obviously not the real name of the product.  No one would name their product something that silly.  I changed the name for this article to protect myself and the Blue Max vacuum company from any liability.

Mike, if that's his real name, went on to dazzle us on all 734 uses of the Blue Thunder (air freshener, leaf blower, day laborer, infant babysitter, etc.) - none of which entailed actual dirt removal.  If that wasn't enough to elicit fresh drool, he started vacuuming our rug.  This is where Mike blew his cover.

Apparently the purpose of Mike's visit wasn't to do a product demonstration.  The real reason it seems was on behalf of the National Clean As A Hospital Home Public Safety Administration (NCAAHHPSA) to deliver the message that my house was filthier than a public handrail and that it was a miracle that my wife and I had not yet died from some dirt-borne illness.  He demonstrated this through the use of vacuum filters, which he courteously laid out on our coffee table for us to look at in horror.  It took the Blue Thunder a dozen filters to make our rug look brand new again.  It took my wife a dozen martinis to keep from going into shock.        

To our defense, the Blue Thunder is a modern marvel and cleaned well beyond surface dirt.  It found particles of dirt which I'm pretty sure weren't left by us.  It appeared that the last few filters held old ancient Anasazi toe jam left at the site of my house some time shortly before Hugh Hefner was born.  This is the raw power of this little blue drum of steel.

Believe it or not though, the supernatural cleaning power of the Blue Thunder was not the real shocker.  Mike spent the next 15 minutes preparing us for the retail value of his product.  You know the drill, he began quoting prices of comparable products such as Gulf Stream IV's and mega-yachts (Blue Thunder is both capable of flying and cruising the high seas).  Mike finally revealed the price silently via paper.  This vacuum was roughly the cost of a new home.  Okay, I'm exaggerating a bit.  It was roughly the cost of a used home.  In the distance I could hear my bank account shriek before closing shop faster than a sphincter at the proctologist.

Although this was technically still a product demonstration for the purpose of market research, Mike spent the next 45 minutes trying to get us to buy one.  He even went as far as to cut the price in half after we employed the hardball negotiation tactic of, "we don't have that kind of money."  Even after the "discount" my wife and I would have rather taken on ownership of the national debt than commit financial suicide by making this purchase.

As for the prizes, Mike was seemingly legally obligated to hand us the certificates on his way out.  Upon scrutiny, the $500 shopping spree was for esteemed products (such as an inflatable patio table) worth no more than $0.47 and a buyer-covered shipping cost per item of on average $10.  So essentially, in order to claim $500 worth of products, I'd have to spend $750 in shipping for items that were worth in aggregate $20.  The trip prize was okay.  It boiled down to two free nights at a hotel - we're still unsure whether that requires our presence at a timeshare meeting.

With the price of the Blue Thunder, one sold vacuum alone could cover roughly (let's see, move the decimal over, carry the one, forget the remainder) . . . 347 trips and a number too large to actually fit within this post of shopping sprees of "quality" products.  So continuing the mathematical problem solving above, with four sales at retail price, the Blue Thunder vacuum company would make the gross earnings of the entire Fortune 100 combined look like those of an 8 year-old's lemonade stand in the middle of winter.

The moral of the story, besides me having the marketing savvy of a macaroon?  Don't do market research, it will just end up crushing your false sense of cleanliness and dig up ghosts of your past - literally.  Besides, my wife is pressuring me to buy this amazing product and once we do, I won't have enough money to cover the shipping on the amazing ultra-utility Flashlight/Compass/Water Pick/HD Sunglasses product.  At least I'll have someone to throw the Frisbee for my dog while I'm at work.  Let's see if I can get a Blue Max for less than the GDP of the Dominican Republic.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Jet Blue-Balled

Steven Slater sure knows how to make an exit.  The 38 year-old (ex)flight attendant stuck it to the man in a fashion suitable for the big-screen.  Slater quit his job in a sequence of events that would make a Judd Apatow screenplay turn tricks for a typewriter just to get this scene down on paper.  

What did he do?  If you haven't heard this popular news story already, you either spent the last 72 hours in the "hole" at the local "Super Max," or you're like me and have the short-term memory of rock salt.    

On a Jet Blue flight from Pittsburgh to New York on Monday, Slater got into a little tiff with a female passenger who apparently told him to go pleasure himself in so many words.  In return, our bashful flight attendant went to the PA system and publicly returned the favor.  He proceeded to grab a couple beers from the beverage cart - well that kills the insanity argument, he's obviously thinking clearly - and then deployed the airplane's emergency slide for a quick getaway.  Passengers could hear a fading "Yippee Ki-Yay M***** F***ers!" as Slater slid into the sunset.   

This guy emits more drama than Broadway.  He's going to need it too if he's to beat the rap in court.  Needless to say, he's been "Blue-Balled" by Jet Blue - their term, not mine . . . maybe.   

Quite frankly, I'm surprised a complete meltdown from a flight attendant hasn't happened sooner.  They should be given medals for surviving a certain amount of time with Joe Public - say every 5 minutes.  This isn't just normal public either; it's the dreaded "Traveling Public."  You know, the folks who wouldn't think twice about "shanking" a fellow traveler if they thought it would get them to their gate 5 seconds earlier.  

I can't even make it 3 minutes at the grocery store without feeling like I need to stick my head into the deli section's chicken rotisserie (roast until golden-brown), let alone deal with Satan incarnate - aka "Travelers."  For the good of society, and my non-roasted melon, I should really just stay at home.   

If I ran an airliner, my employee recognition program for flight attendants and crew would be similar to that to Alcoholics Anonymous.  The annual awards banquet might go something like this:

President of Airline (me, of course):  "Ladies and male flight attendants of Wingless Air ("We Fly In Straight Lines"), we've given out our prestigious tokens to those of you that have hit the one-minute, ten-minute, and thirty-minute periods of maintaining a fake smile.  Congratulations to the four of you.  And now it's time to give out the most coveted prize of the year.  The benchmark and goal of our customer service mission statement . . . the ROUND TRIPPER Token!"

[Mass applause and rambunctious cheers from 401K invested employees and spouses or significant others in attendance]

PoA:  "We actually have a winner this year!"

[More of the same from audience unable to contain their excitement]

PoA:  "For resisting the urge to perform unnecessary tracheostomies on passengers with a plastic spork, for an entire round trip flight between Houston and Austin, our winner this year is . . . (. . . . . drumroll . . . . . ) . . . Sandy B. Hines!  Come on up Sandy and tell us how you did it."

[In their elevated height of excitement, the crowd begins throwing chairs and removing various articles of clothing in their frenzied scramble to get closer to the stage]

Sandy B. Hines:  "Well, oh my gosh, I'm so excited.  I can't believe I really actually won.  How did I do it?  Well, my secret is to take one minute and one passenger at a time.  That, and totally legal prescription medications.  Lots of them . . . together . . . and all throughout the day."

Now, let's slowly back away from my little fantasy and recap this post (aka "Two minutes you'll never get back").  Steven Slater may be out of a job, but the good news is he's gotten his 15 minutes of fame and is almost guaranteed a book deal and/or reality show.  Also, for those of you looking for a job that offers career advancement via slide, I hear Jet Blue has an opening.

If you need me, I'll be in the basement watching Judd Apatow movies.  There seems to be less Public down there.  

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Coronal Mass Ejection

I don't want to alarm any of you out there, but according to this story, a massive solar flare - dubbed "cosmic tsunami" - which may or may not have marked the end of times last night and/or in the next five minutes, is heading directly towards Earth, if not already here.

The Sun's surface erupted early Sunday morning, shooting a wall of ionized atoms directly at Earth, scientists say.  "This eruption is directed right at us and is expected to get here early in the day on Aug. 4," said Leon Golub of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

The article continues to describe these eruptions as "coronal mass ejections," which sounds suspiciously like what happens after a long night of drinking cervezas at Senor Frogs - also known as a good time.  So what does this mean for us exactly?

When a coronal mass ejection reaches Earth, solar particles stream down our planet's magnetic field lines toward the poles. In the process, the particles collide with atoms of nitrogen and oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere, which then glow, creating an effect similar to miniature neon signs.

Numerous reports have been received that solar particles have already affected liquor stores and "man-caves" across the country.

As for the solar eruption's arrival, if the Sun's transportation industry is anything like ours, the flares should arrive several hours late, hungry (their ticket price did not include a meal), and with a full bladder.  Citizens are urged to avoid airport bars and public restrooms - this PSA has absolutely nothing to do with the solar flares.

Speaking of airlines, pilots and passengers may be at the most risk for exposure to radiation, described in this report as "levels akin to getting an X-ray."  So, if you are fortunate enough to be flying today, it is highly recommended that you call your dentist immediately upon arrival and schedule a regular appointment, so that he/she can examine your glowing roots from the convenience of their office while you're still in the parking lot - and you can avoid the expense of losing your lunch due to gag reflex when the dental assistant jams those lunchbox-sized film holders into the back of your mouth, roughly 3 inches from your large intestine.  Getting X-rayed at the dentist is about as much fun as trying to fit Shaq's fist in your mouth, but with a little more discomfort.

Dental Assistant:  "Okay, just a few more pictures of your molars now.  I'm just going to use this ski pole to push the film back in place.  [prod][poke][jam]  There.  How's that?"

You:  "Aglglgllglagll." [drool]

Dental Assistant:  Good.  Don't move . . .
NASA scientists are also concerned about the negative effects of these electric pulses on our country's electricity grids.  They fear our electricity infrastructure could be crippled for years.  Upon hearing this warning, the House of Representatives, in a rare show of bipartisanship, leapt into action and passed a 750 trillion dollar "emergency" bill to cover our power stations in microwaveable plastic wrap.  The 50,000 page bill has been named the "Tsunamic-sized And Robust Pillaging" program or "TARP III" aka "Return of the TARP," which has many returning actors from the first two installments.  

No reports of outages have been received yet from cities across the nation, but Detroit seems to be especially quiet on the matter, which is believed to be due to the absence of - for lack of a better term - infrastructure.  Also, the cordless bulldozers leveling the city are assumed to be a modified version of the battery-operated Chevy Volt, whose 40-mile range has been deemed "more than enough" and "of no concern" by union officials if such a power failure is to occur.  Although cheaper to produce than a Chevy Volt, traditional bulldozers were scrapped last month because of their rumored "efficiency" in moving things.  This problem is not anticipated with the $41,000 Volt.    
Authorities are asking anyone who experiences power outages, radiation poisoning, or a tan - quote "darker than George Hamilton" - to report it immediately to Congress so that they can cast you in TARP IV - Jason Vs. Freddy.  

On a final note, if you need me I'll be at the bar and/or the polls for some much needed coronal mass ejection.