A Call for Assistance

Hello there! If you’re reading this (and I know both of my readers are out there), then I’d like to request your assistance with an upcoming project of mine.

If you think I’m about to ask for money, well… Yeah, you’re right. The good news is that I’m not asking for myself, nor am I asking on behalf of any overseas princes, oil executives, or shady bank officials. (The bad news is that I’m also not offering you fabulous wealth in return for your assistance with sneaking money out of a foreign country.)

On June 2-3, I’ll be participating in the Southern Montgomery County Relay for Life – a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

Officially, everyone’s supposed to raise at least $100. Truthfully, I’d like to hit at least $1,000. Donations can be made online with a credit card. If you’d prefer to use a check or money order, drop me a line so we can coordinate things.

Pretty much everyone I know has at one time or another known someone with cancer. With your help, maybe we can brighten that picture.

Golf Cures Kidney Disease?

How bizarre. I just heard a commercial on WTOP that starts off with a claim that the Washington DC area leads the nation in the incidence of kidney disease. This isn’t something I was aware of, but having seen the impact kidney failure has on people’s lives, I’d prefer to keep my kidneys.

The commercial went on to say that there’s something you can do about it. I was prepared to hear a public service message about getting more exercise, eating healthier or even (shudder) cutting back on the caffeine intake.

Instead, the commercial started talking about playing in a golf tournament that includes various celebrity players as whichever air personality recorded the commercial and some politicians.

So apparently the claim is that if you live in the DC-area and prefer to avoid a future of relying on dialysis, instead of changing your life-style, you should play golf instead.

I’m just a little skeptical.

Wombat Ringtones

Acting on a whim, back in January I conducted a brief experiment to find out what Google would make of the phrase “Polygamous Wombats.” The answer seems to be, “Not too terribly much.”
I did wind up with an ad for a hostel in Austria called “Wombats” (which is somewhat humorous when you consider that wombats are native to Australia instead of Austria). Aside from that, about the only practical upshot is that Google and Yahoo list Dividing by Zero as their number one resource for Polygamous Wombats. (Sadly, this distinction doesn’t seem to be driving any extra traffic to the site.)
In the end, all this does is demonstrate that I need to add a new “Pointless Posts” category to the site. I suspect that will quickly surpass “Assorted Ramblings” as the largest grouping.

Hypothetically Speaking

I’m organizing my Jaycees chapter’s participation in a local High School’s After Prom party. Our role basically boils down to supplying snack food and beverages for approximately 3-400 students. We do this by soliciting donations of food and money from area businesses.

So suppose I’ve just finished printing 286 donation letters. Assuming I’ve done that, and afterwards I’m looking them over one more time.

Now suppose I then – purely hypothetically – somewhat belatedly discovered that I’d accidentally used the wrong version of my signature (I scanned it for use on letters) and I now have 286 donation letters where my signature was backwards.

Would that be “bad”?

Hi Donna!

Back in March of last year, Mom sent me a newspaper clipping about one of my High School classmates, Donna Rorabaugh. It turned out that somewhere along the line, Donna had taken on the hobby of building gingerbread houses and in December of 2005, she’d managed to win a nation-wide competition. Very cool.
A funny thing happened this past December. I was looking through the web site statistics for Dactyl Manor and recognized a name in the list of search terms that had brought people to my web site. Along with the usual list of people coming to my site looking for the convention list, a lot of people were coming in to look for Donna.
I did a few quick web searches. It turned out that Donna had won another competition. I also discovered that Dividing by Zero was one of the top ten resources Yahoo and Google were directing people to when they looked for her. (My guess is that her family members were looking for online newspaper clippings about the latest win and some of them looked at my site.)
It’s only March right now. I haven’t seen Donna in 16 years and it won’t be gingerbread season for another nine months. But I’ll bet she wins this year too.

Have You Seen Sarah Connor?

Seeking Sarah Connor

This wasn’t exactly a planned purchase; but I was in the midst of a wardrobe overhaul/update and decided to try on a new jacket or two. I really liked the way this one fits and in the end decided to buy it. (Thank goodness for some pretty huge post-season discounts at the outlet stores!)
The photo’s a bit washed out, but that perhaps makes it a bit more dramatic.
I wonder what Linda Hamilton is up to these days…

It's Tough Being a Guy

Take last week at work for example. At 9:30 Friday morning A., our contract administrator, came into my office and scolded me because even with the email reminder she’d sent the day before, I’d still managed to forget about submitting my timesheet on the last day of the month. I’d remembered to fill it out and everything else, but the actual submitting part had completely slipped my mind.
To make matters worse, just moments before A. walked in, my officemate Y. had solemnly pronounced that “Guys don’t remember anything.”
She was right of course. We don’t! And it’s not just birthdays and anniversaries either. We can only remember so many things, and then something’s going to be forgotten, not because we think it was unimportant, but because we ran out of room for it.
One of the items on my TODO items for Monday was to make a phone call to someone out in Michigan. The timing was such that I thought I might end up talking to a machine, so I was ready. The machine picked up and after the tone I started talking, “Hi A.G., this is Blair and I’m calling to follow up on a conversation we had a little while back. Sorry I missed you, but my phone number is 240-6… Oh God, I’ve forgotten my own phone number!”
The truth of the matter is that I didn’t forget the number, I knew all the digits. But for the life of me, I couldn’t remember what order they belonged in! And since this was a cell phone, there wasn’t even a helpful little sticker for me to look at. But after pausing to collect my thoughts, I managed to explain why I was calling, left my number and hung up.
When A.G. checks her answering machine, she’s in for a good laugh. And I’m certain the one after that will only set her off again. “Hi A.G., it’s Blair again. That number I left you was wrong…” I’m sure she’ll find it entertaining.
Of course, AG, Y, and A. are all women, so they can’t understand what’s going on from the guy perspective. Forgetting things is completely necessary in order for guys to survive. The truth of the matter is, if we remembered even half the stupid things we’ve done, we’d die of embarrassment. And where would that leave the women? They’d be left with a world full of absent-minded males who not only don’t remember, but aren’t even bright enough to realize that they should be embarrassed about it.
This has of course already happened.
Fortunately, I’m a guy. A couple days from now, I’ll have forgotten all about this.

Pulling a Clark Kent

The interviews were one of the most difficult parts of my recent job search. Not just the process of being interviewed, but actually getting away from the old job without raising suspicions that I was out looking.
The dress code at the old job was “business casual”, but as I’ve discovered over time, the definition of “business casual” tends to be rather variable. In the case of my former employer, it included jeans. As nice as it was to dress that way, in the event I ever decided to leave, it would have raised suspicions if I’d suddenly started showing up in interview clothes.
Part of the solution was camouflage. A few years ago, long before I began actively searching for a new position, I started showing up in “spiffy clothes” on occasion. Predictably, everyone reacted by asking me if I had an interview and I alternated between explaining it was laundry day or that I had a date that evening. (Through careful planning on my part, these answers had the advantage of being true. And when circumstances were reversed and other people showed up in dress clothes, I asked them the same question.) Before long, my co-workers became accustomed to seeing me dressed up on occasion.
But dress slacks and nice shirts only go so far as camouflage. Interviews call for a dress shirt, jacket, and the dreaded necktie. Wearing any of those to the office would have been a dead giveaway. So I pulled a Clark Kent.
There was a little park down the road from my old office. I hardly ever saw anyone there, so on my way to interviews, I’d pull in there to change into my interview clothes. I’d pull in, grab my shirt, tie, and jacket out of the trunk and quick as Clark Kent changing into Superman, I’d transform into Man-going-to-an-Interview.
Obviously the superhero routine worked because I only had to do the quick change a few times. After that, I took on a new role: Man-with-a-new-Job