People on the Highway

I’m trying out a new path home from work.  As a semi-professional liar storyteller person, the new route is amazing.  It is peak Colorado front range.  I see cattle pastures, oil derricks, corn fields, industrial concrete recycling, small town schools, manufacturing plants that smell funny (likely because they are next to giant giant mounds of fresh fertilizer, but that is beside the point).  I see a new story setting every five minutes.  I am very much enjoying the new path.  Another thing it has going for it; very few other people on the road.

Consisting mostly of side roads, I don’t have to deal with too many Honda sedans with a texting driver at the wheel.  The standard situation for Honda sedans in Colorado at least.

Today, I had company on the commute and this is her story.

Today’s tale: Sunny

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A Performance Review Compromise

“Robert, could you come in here please?” Frank said.

Robert pushed his chair away from his desk and his mind went wild with what a sudden discussion with his boss could mean.  “What’s up, Frank?” He asked, stepping into the office.

“Have a seat and shut the door if you would. Thanks.”  The two took their seats.  “Just a quick performance review.  Have to say, you’re doing great work.  I do want to discuss one little issue though.”

The two real estate developers stared at each other a moment.  Robert was pretty sure he knew what was coming.

“Your development name ideas during project proposals have some of our other developers concerned,” Frank said.

“Oh come on. They’re proposals,” Robert retorted.

“For example.  The golf course anchored development on 51st was pitched with Loch Luster.  During the pitch you kept insisting it would be called lackluster.”

Robert laughed.

“Or the gated community called HDOTU.  After hours of chit chat it was revealed that this meant Heat Death of the Universe.  You laughed and changed the name to Duckberg when you noticed people didn’t like that.” Frank said.

“And now Duckberg is a well loved community.  It worked out,” Robert said, stifling a laugh.

“I’ll just read some of these names here.  Zombie Proof Acres, Apocalypse Ranch, Totally Haunted Patio Homes at Dove Ridge, Acid Rain Ranch, Martian Landing Site Ranch, Cracked Concrete Ranch, really just a bunch of Ranch names for the next, uh,” Frank flipped through a stack of papers, “next seven pages.”

“That’s seven pages of project proposals though. Good year for the company!” Robert said.  Frank did not enjoy the sarcastic tone.

“You know what, let’s compromise here.  Could you name each proposal Duckberg 2, 3, 4 and so on.  Like a horror movie franchise.  I’ll even allow three ‘Duckberg 2 v Duckberg 3 in Space’ titles over the next 12 months.  We just need fewer end of times ranches and more marketing flyer friendly names, okay?” Frank pleaded.

“I will try my best.  But there is a pitch for High Noon Duel Community coming across your desk shortly.” Robert said.

“Last one, kid. Last one.”

Terrance Has IT

“What we need is a catchy slogan.  Maybe a hashtag campaign.  #FeelingIT  #IThasit  #ITistheSh- well, maybe we don’t go there.  Also, a brand book.  We need to pick our colors, a logo.  Designate a social media lead, get an intern to run the day to day.  Metrics measurement.  We need engagement records per post.  Click rates, click throughs.  RTS, likes, sub tweets.  Someone get me an SEO expert up in here.  If we aren’t first on Google search results, we’re last.  Everybody got it?” Terrance looked around the room for the exact length of one heartbeat, if the heart belonged to a hummingbird.

“Good,” Terrance continued, “this department needs to sizzle, we need to pop.  We need to attract all the talent.  We don’t want to steal people, we want them to beg to come to us.  Got it?” He began pointing to each person sitting around the large conference room table. “Got it? Got it? Got it? Good.  Make it happen.”

Terrance never sat down during the meeting.  One final finger point and he fled the room.

Those sitting around the conference table looked at each other, waiting for any one to react.  Finally, the company president sounded off, “I need maintenance to remove the espresso machine from the IT office space.  And if someone would decipher what Terrance said for me, I’ll follow up.  I have no idea how to follow that interruption, so let’s all get back to work.”

The Five Secrets of Harold Cape

Harold Cape was a simple man.  Described most often as honest, loyal and even tempered, he would have made a good mayor or barber.  He craved not the power of local government or the comradeship of a barber shop, though, and instead opted for a career as a craftsman putting together perfectly constructed fishing poles.

His poles were displayed in the dens of wealthy men and women who had never sat at a lake’s shore, but that did not bother him in the slightest.  He took their money and bought himself the boat of his dreams so he could catch a fish or two.  He was a simple man.

Even simple men can be complex at times.  For example, Harold Cape had never told anyone that he had memorized the words of Green Day’s American Idiot.  He was well outside of that album’s target demographic when it was released, but he knew good music when he heard it and now whistles the melody of St. Jimmy while sailing his dream boat and catching fish.

He was no fan of puns.  He once punched a stranger in a bar for making a crude play of words involving the free peanuts.  When his wife picked him up at the police station following a brief holding period, he told her there was an unpaid parking ticket under with his name attached that caused the trouble.  No one, not even fishing buddies, would believe that he once punched a man for something so trivial.

He hated lying about that.  He hated lying in general.  Harold Cape feared lies.  He felt he was too dumb to keep track of the truths he said, how in the world could he keep up with the lies?  This fear made him an incredibly honest person, but he likes to make others believe he is capable of lies.  Usually this amounts to little more than ending a statement with “or is it?” Followed soon with a dramatic ‘bum bum bum.”

His fondness for cake once cost him a winning lottery ticket.  He told the story once to his oldest son and made him promise to never tell his mother.  As he told the story, he was standing in line a gas station when he saw a flash of light from the corner of his eye.  He over reacted initially, thinking the light was sourced at an incoming squirrel or other threat, but when he looked quickly to his right he saw a display of cake and other sugary treats.  His stomach roared and his brained pleaded for the dopamine rush of a sugar binge.  He left the line and went to stare at the desserts for a solid fifteen minutes.

The store sold a winning lottery ticket that weekend at 3:58 pm, exactly one minute after Harold had left the line.  The man behind him had taken home 3.5 million dollars lump sum.  Harold was furious.

It was in his anger that Harold did something he promised himself he would keep secret beyond the grave.  The Monday after he discovered what happened with the lottery ticket, he donned a mask and grabbed a bat.  He ran, he was younger then and still believed running was a thing people should do, to the gas station and robbed the store.  He took a stack of scratch tickets, five Slim-Jims, a pack of M&Ms and a cigar he did not intend on smoking.  Then he ran off to the night.  He was upset with how good he felt after the robbery.

When he was far enough from the scene, he began scratching off the lottery tickets to see what he had won.  He never claimed the seven dollars that showed up over the 200 tickets.

Harold Cape makes fishing poles.  He’s honest, loyal and even tempered.  He put a lot of effort in making sure this is what people think of him.  If his secrets got out, well, by golly that would be devastating.

Tina and Tony Have a New House

Tina and Tony loved their new house.  The kitchen was perfect, the bedrooms were perfect, the bathrooms (yes, plural) were perfect, the yard was perfect, the grains on the hardwood floors were perfect.  Their neighbors to the south were absolutely ideal.  Even the mortgage was no source of complaint.

There was just one, tiny, tiny issue that was proving difficult to work through.

“AHHHHHHH!”

Tina shook her head and tried to ignore the sound. Again.

Tony, on the other hand, had not yet adapted.  A plate he was attempting to wash dropped onto the kitchen floor and shattered.

“I can’t take this anymore!” Tony said.

“AHHHHHH!”

“The realtor said we would get used to it after a few months.” Tina tried to calm her husband.

“AHHHHHH!”

“Why do the saws at Clancy’s Saw Mill have to scream when they are in use? Why? It makes no sense! No sense! Someone had to do a lot of math to make that exact pitch exist when those pine boards are sliced in half.  Someone very, very smart figured out where to place a blade, how high it has to sit, how the boards have to move around the blade.  They were paid to do this.  They missed time with their families, friends and hobbies for the sole purpose of making that building next door scream like a teenager in a Nightmare on Elm Street movie.” Tony ranted.

“AHHHHH!”

“And why is it a 24 hour facility? There’s no reason to it.  The mortgage is more expensive than money. I’m so tired. So tired.” Tony cried.

“You’re not getting out of dish duty,” Tina said.

“Ah!” Tony replied.

Bots for a Better Life

Automation of simple tasks is the wave of the future.  I’ve been working with metrics at work a lot recently and wanted to spruce up some charts and found a whole industry dedicated to making charts quick and easy to make.  I plugged a 4000 line database into a free tool and had an interactive HTML5 ready chart in a flash! It was amazing.  Of course, a few clicks in Excel and the same chart exists, but not in HTML5!

So now I’m wondering of other ways the world can be made faster, better, stronger, by bots and automated tools

Hmmm….. Continue reading

Lyrics from My Upcoming Album

The first road trip of the summer has come to a close.   One thing that must happen on a road trip is sampling local radio stations.  Through one leg of our trip through very sparsely populated regions of the upper mid-west, we found 16 radio stations that came in without static.  Of those, nine were country stations.  Four were religious stations, two were public radio and one pop station filled the airwaves.  This is a lot of country music to take in.  I’m not really a country music listener, but after spending a weekend with the car radio’s ‘scan’ feature picking up thirty second bits of country songs, I am excited to soon drop my own country record.

Here now, the lyrics of track one, tentatively titled “Friday Night”.

(verse 1

Sitting on the back porch

It’s Friday night

Only sittin’ ’round till the feelings right

Then we kick it off. Yeah we kick this off.

(Boom. chorus time) Continue reading