Welcome to whatever is on my mind!

Some people use the term "nonsense" but I prefer to use the phrase "uncommonly sensed" because it's more reflective of creative types.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Advice on Becoming a Writer

Despite all the nonsense I write on my blog, I get a lot of serious requests from people who want to get published seeking my advice.  I’ve gotten more than the usual number lately, so I thought I would do a blog post on it.  This will probably take several blog posts to write all of this down, so here’s the initial step:
The first thing you should do is ask yourself “Why do I want to be a writer?”
Writing is not something that you “fall back on” if you lost your job or need some cash.  I’ve been contacted by a lot of out of work people who think that getting published is the answer to their financial problems.  The truth is that it’s quite the opposite.   Several famous authors (Balzac and Sir Walter Scott, for example) have gone bankrupt publishing their own works.  Granted that the publishing industry has changed since those times, but the lack of or difficulty generating income is still there for most authors. 
Starting a writing career is like starting a small business.  You’re going to be doing many jobs (writing, marketing, developing your online presence, event planning, etc.) and working long hours to build yourself.  And, just like a small business, you should anticipate that it will take at least 3 years for you to get things moving.  Your planning approach for this career should be long term and you should not expect fast returns from your work.  It will take time to build yourself up and get your career moving, so make sure that what you really want is to be a writer.  If you’re writing because you enjoy the escape of going into your imaginary world, you may be better off reading books by other authors, going to the movies, or daydreaming.
Like most occupations in the arts, writing is not something you go into for the money.  Most writers don’t make the salaries of Dan Brown or J. K. Rowling (let’s face it, no one makes J. K. Rowling’s salary but J. K. Rowling!).  However, there appears to be a myth that getting a book published is like winning the lottery.  Here’s the reality: most books actually lose money.  By the time that you pay for editing, printing, and marketing you will be bankrupt unless you sell enough books to absorb those costs.  Even if you strictly publish eBooks to avoid the printing costs you still have considerable up front costs that you may never recover.  This is why publishers reject even well written books: because they know that if they can’t sell enough copies to cover their expenses that the book is going to cost them money.  Books that don't make money also don't pay royalties to the author.
So my first message to those who want to be a writer is to make sure that this is what you really want to do because this is a very difficult industry.  In fact, it’s probably easier to become a rock star.  After all, there are no reality TV shows called “American Author” where writers compete for a publishing contract.  But maybe there should be...


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Beet Chips

One of my favorite pastimes is making up band names.  See my previous posts here and here for more about this hobby.
However, the other day I was in the grocery store and saw a product called “Sweet Potato and Beet Chips” and I came up with another genius band name: The Beet Chips.
The Beet Chips is a group of five Guys names named “Chip” who sing songs about beets.  Their first album will be an EP with 5 cover tunes familiar to the average listener.  Only the most astute listeners will catch the nuance of the band singing about “beets” rather than “beats.” This is primarily because the difference in pronunciation will be difficult to detect because of the Chips’ accents (they’re going to be British).  The track listing on their EP will be something like this:
Beet It
Every Beet of My Heart
We Got the Beet
Rockin’ to the Beet
You Can’t Stop the Beat
Their second album, which is destined to fail miserably, will be a series of love songs to beets.  Songs will include such tracks as the ballad “I Wouldn’t Get My Iron Anywhere Else” or the pop tunes  “Purple Passion and Fiber” and “Borscht, Borscht, Baby.”
Critics and fans will, of course, disagree over the quality of the music with each party attempting to proclaim the album as more of a  miserable failure.  New words will be invented to describe the enormous level of suck and a media war will ensue as the album’s ratings continue to decline into negative numbers.
At this point two of the Chips will become severely depressed and question why the beet betrayed them.  One will turn to alcohol and make an appearance on Celebrity Rehab where Dr. Drew will attempt to get Chip to start eating beets again.  However, this treatment will later backfire as Chip eventually learns how to freebase beets from watching one of the other celebrities.
The most heartbreaking part of this fiasco is that 20 years later there will be 5 guys named Nick who repeat the entire cycle by forming a group called “The Beet Nicks.”  It just goes to show that you should always do your research.  But the Nicks won’t be that bright.  They will just look good in red turtlenecks and love songs about iron rich foods.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Why You Shouldn’t Make Siri Angry

Yesterday I had lunch with a friend, whom I’ll identify as Pamela in order to protect her identity. Pamela disclosed to me that she’s pretty sure that Siri (the new iPhone voice recognition technology) has it in for her.  There are some personalities that just don’t hit it off and when these personalities are forced together for a period of time bad things happen.  This is my friend Pamela and Siri.  She demonstrated repeated attempts to get Siri to text, email, or call someone. Pamela’s conversation went something like this:
Pamela: Call Amy.
Siri: Your music library is empty.
Pamela: Find coffee shops.
Siri: Dialing the IRS “Please Audit Me” department.
Pamela: @#$%&@#!!!
Siri: Calling your mother because I know you haven’t talked to her in a month since she told you that your thighs looked heavy in that skirt.
Pamela: Text Bob.
Siri: Locating all nearby porn retailers.
Then Pamela gave me her phone and I gave Siri a similar series of commands. Siri responded immediately and correctly to my requests.  I even told Siri to "find fun" and she came up with a list of 25 "fun" places nearby in less that 3 seconds and over half of them had a full service bar.
So what can we learn from this?  Be nice to Siri.  She has a lot of power.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

One Ring to Rule them All

People who know me also know that I’m health conscious. I exercise 6 days a week and usually eat a low fat/ high fiber diet.  However, last weekend my husband and I decided to take a day off from our good behaviors.  This is when I suddenly discovered the magical powers of onion rings.
First of all, onion rings are naturally formed in the shape of a circle: the symbol of perfection.  It shows the past connecting with the future.  Like a wedding ring, the onion ring is a symbol of the eternal nature of things, such as cholesterol.
Secondly, onion rings are golden: the color of wealth and prosperity.  This further connotes the regal nature of the food and enhances the connection between eating onion rings and getting rich.  How do you think Burger King became king when he has no kingdom?  Hint: they sell onion rings there.  McDonald’s doesn’t sell them and Ronald is just a clown.  Coincidence?  Probably not.
Lastly, onions are a vegetable.  This makes them healthy.  Further, they are often eaten with ketchup, which is another vegetable.  Double healthy!  In fact, people who eat onion rings may live longer than people who think they’re too good to eat onion rings.  Plus, if you eat enough onion rings your breath will knock out potential attackers and kill just about any germ.  Added bonus. 
So from where I sit, there really is only one ring to rule them all.  And it is beer batter fried.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Things My Dog Hates

There are certain things my dog despises and, given my dog’s strong sensible nature and excellent judge of character, I must also question the things that she abhors. I’m not saying that she’s a genius.  She simply has a sixth sense that provides her with an uncanny ability to identify the sinister nature of specific matters.  Like my ex husband.  She barks viciously whenever he comes anywhere close to the house.  There are some things that dogs just know by instinct.
With this in mind, I’ve compiled a list of things she hates so that the rest of us may learn from her.  These may be things that the rest of us would do well to avoid.
1.) Crows.  I’m pretty sure my dog drops the F-bomb in doggie talk when she sees them.  Other birds seem to be fine, but crows make her rush forward, jump in the air and scream “get the @#$% outta here!!!”
2.) Dogs on television. They really have no business being there.  Sort of like the Kardashians.  
3.) Small portions.  When I feed her a tiny sample I always get the annoyed look that says “Do I look stupid? Because I know there’s at least a pound of brie on that counter, only two of us, and this little micron is not 50% of said quantity.”
4.) Flies.  A no brainer: flies are attracted to some of the most unsanitary places.  Like reality TV shows.  
5.) The vacuum cleaner.  She probably learned this one from me because I hate vacuuming.  I think her goal is to attack and break it so that I don’t ever have to vacuum again.  That’s loyalty. Genius!
This has been a public service message from my dog.  BTW she is over 70 lbs and has extremely strong jaws, so you might want to pay attention.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Patron Saint of Metal Music and Corporate Logic

Today is All Saint's Day.  Some of you already know that I have unofficially dubbed Megadeth founder and frontman Dave Mustaine as the patron saint of metal music and corporate logic.  Why?  Because to survive in the corporate world you really need a "metal" attitude.  Please see my previous post on Dave for more background on why I've given him these titles.

So in honor of our Patron Saint... here's today's Daily Dave post:

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Creepy Things

In honor of Halloween, I’ve compiled a list of things that I find creepy.  So read on and feel the chill run up and down your spine... and hope that the tingling on your scalp isn’t squirrels nesting in your hair.
1. Clowns.  This one is  a no brainer and I can’t explain it any better than the Simpson’s or Steven King, so I’ll just leave it at that.  Although John Connolly wrote one of the best horror short stories about this topic. Check it out if you like that sort of thing - it’s in his book “Nocturnes.” 
2. Doll heads, particularly the severed kind.  In fact, when I was a teenager I used to pop the head off a barbie and dangle it by the hair to watch my best friend freak out.  But I always kept the eyes facing away from me.  I’m not stupid.
3. Pencil mustaches.  Nothing says “child molester” quite like a pencil mustache.
4. Bradford pears.  Whores.  All of them.
5. Small children who won’t go to bed on time.  This is mostly because I hallucinate under the effects of sleep deprivation.  I’m convinced that my own children were miniature researchers doing sleep deprivation experiments on me.  I don’t know where they put all the data they collected, but I know it wasn’t in their diapers because I searched them thoroughly.  Upon reflection, that location probably would have been too obvious.  But I digress.
6. Bad vocalists.  Especially the kind who don’t know that they’re tone deaf and still insist on getting up in front of a crowd.  Great.  Now that I’ve thought about this I won’t sleep tonight because I’ll be afraid of having karaoke dreams.
7. The inside of the mind of anyone who would willingly run for political office. There should be public service announcements such as: “This is your brain.  This is your brain drunk on the thought of having power and not understanding the full and eternal consequences to the rest of your own life or that of your family members.  This is a bad walnut, shriveled and black and a little smelly.  No.  Switch the last two.”
Now think about what you find creepy and enjoy the scare.  Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bedtime Stories for Dogs and Cats

Just in time for the Southern Festival of Books this weekend... two NEW eBooks have been released!

A book of stories, poems, fables, and essays written by dogs for dogs.  Story topics range from mythology and magic to “tails” of misfortune, adventure, and joy.

A book of stories, fables, and essays written by cats for cats.  Story topics range from cat mythology to “tails” of adventure and magic.

Discover how much fun you can have reading to your pets!  The two books have some unique stories and some that are similar but told from a different perspective (either cat or dog).  The print version will be available in two weeks and will contain both books bound together. 
Please share this post with your friends.  A portion of the proceeds from the sale of these books will be donated to no-kill animal shelters.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Versatile Blogger Award

I’ve been given awards by two of my fellow bloggers, but I’ve been such a slacker that it took me over a week to acknowledge these. I suppose I should clarify that I’ve been busy recording with my band, getting ready to release two books this month, and preparing for the Southern Festival of Books this weekend.  So it’s been a little crazy for me lately.

In any event, I would like to thank my buddies Jill Elizabeth and Stuart for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger award.  What this means is that I’ve successfully managed to channel my normal scatterbrained ramblings into a palatable stew of words.  I really appreciate that these two friends took the time to acknowledge me and I am continuing to spread the love. The rules associated with accepting this award are as follows. 
  • Thank and link the blogger who nominated you (please click on their names above to check out their blogs).
  • Share seven random facts about yourself.
  • Spread the love! Pass the award on to five other bloggers. Make sure to contact and congratulate them!
With that said, here are seven random facts about me:
  1. I do not have six toes on my left foot.  
  2. I once had a very nice friend named Jennifer with whom I worked. 
  3. I convinced most of the office that Jennifer did have six toes on her left foot.  Luckily Jennifer never wore sandals.
  4. Jennifer never calls me anymore.
  5. I once had a very nice friend named Shannon with whom I worked.
  6. I convinced most of the office that Shannon was having a secret love affair with Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine.  A lot of people still think it’s true.
  7. Shannon tries to avoid me but I know where she lives.  I also post on her Facebook page regularly.  My posts often reference her relationship with Dave.
Bonus fact: You probably don’t want to work closely with me.
I now pass this award on to five fun filled bloggers who I enjoy reading regularly.  Several are book related, but some are just for fun.  And some of these blogs are even useful, unlike most of my posts. Please check them out when you have a moment at work and your boss isn't looking.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Poetic Justice?

I recently posted the above photo on Facebook.  I admit that I stole it from someone else on Facebook (my buddy Nick) and don’t know the original author.  However, I thought it was the funniest thing I had ever seen and a work of genius.  People who love books seem to enjoy it, anyway.
Now here’s the funnier part: 
Shortly after I posted this photo and laughed my head off I received an email that MTV has licensed two of my band’s songs.  What this means is that MTV can use the songs in any of their TV shows, including Jersey Shore.  If this happens it would be an excellent example of poetic justice.  One, of course, that I would encourage as it involves royalty checks made out to yours truly.
For those of you unfamiliar with poetic justice, it’s a literary device that involves irony.  In my case, I poked fun at a TV show and then found out that I may now serve to gain financially from the show (or at the very least from the show’s network) making me something of a hypocrite.  Now that’s ironic. And funny.
By the way, I still think the photo is hilarious.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

10 Reasons Why Dogs Are Better Than People.

1.) They don’t give you bad financial advice.  In fact, my dog has never interfered with my finances or asked for any gift larger than a slice of pizza.
2.) They never ask if they can date your single friends or if you can set them up with someone.  So you never have to worry about how to handle the situation if you’re walking through the park one day and run into other dogs they’ve previously dated.
3.) They don’t brag about how much money they make or what kind of car they drive.
4.) They don’t try to push their belief system on you.  Can you imagine your dog scolding you for flushing your poop away instead of rolling in it?  I didn’t think so.  
5.) They know how to eat and never refuse food because they’re “on a diet.”  
6.) They don’t pretend to love work unless they really do love it.
7.) They always tell you that your food is great, no matter what your cooking skills.  And they believe it, too.
8.) They’re never too busy for you.  Whether you want to play with them or hold them while you cry.  Dogs know how to be there with you.
9.)  When they’re dying they don’t make demands, try to manipulate people, or make anyone feel guilty over relationships.  They don’t ask for memorials or worry about how you’ll remember them.  They only ask that you be there with them when they pass away.  That’s why I respect them and wish I could be more like them.  They know how to love.
10.) They know what’s important and that’s what they focus their lives upon: relationships.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Eight Ways to Procrastinate

Sure you could troll FaceBook, watch YouTube videos, or surf the Internet, but there are better ways to procrastinate.  Here are some of my favorite ways to procrastinate:
1.) Play with dolls.  DO NOT under any circumstances take them out of the package.  The employees in the toy store get really angry when you do that.  Sometimes they even make you buy the dolls.
2.) Make a list of all the restaurants that give you free drinks on your birthday.  Then schedule more birthdays for yourself.  Get these on your calendar and make sure that you don’t have two scheduled too closely together at the same restaurant.  I recommend at least 6 months apart.
3.) Prepare excuses in case you’re caught having two free birthday drinks at the same restaurant in less than a year.  For example, “Oh, you must be thinking about my twin brother.  He was here six months ago on his birthday.” or “Sorry, I was here with my sister when it was her birthday.  Perhaps you remember me from that time, but she was the one who got the free drink.”  And so forth.
4.) Set up a FaceBook account for your dog or cat.  Next, teach them their password because you’ll never remember it.
5.) Hack my dog’s Facebook account.  Once you get in, please send me the password because neither I nor my dog remember it.
6.) Build a new food pyramid out of legos and then write letters to the government on why they should adopt it.  The letters should all be done in PowerPoint.  No paragraphs or prose, but some poetry will be allowed if it is Haiku or Limerick in format.  Encourage the government to write back in the same format, as no other writing style will be considered a serious response to your efforts.
7.) Make a list of your skills and a separate list for your super powers.  Elaborate on why you have classified each as such.  For example, super human strength is really a skill.  Why?
8.) Write a blog about nonsense.  (Check that one off my list for today).

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Why Deadlines Suck

I'm behind on a deadline for my book(s), which got me to thinking about how much deadlines suck.  To be fair, I think that aligning tasks in a timeline is a good thing.  But no one likes deadlines.  They're the red headed step child of project management.  So it got me thinking about why deadlines suck and what we can do about it.
First of all, nothing with the word “dead” in the title is good.  Right off the start the word has a negative connotation.  If you want someone to think positively about a deadline then it needs to be rebranded with a more acceptable term other than “dead.”  Secondly, deadlines are like ghosts floating in the air trying to frighten people who don’t believe they exist.  They’re more annoying than scary.
So here are a few alternative suggestions:
It means the same thing as deadline, but it puts a positive spin on task completion because when you achieve it you’ll really feel “alive!”
Happy Moment
When the task is complete you’re in your “happy moment.”  Or maybe the boss is in her happy moment.  Either way it sounds positive and uplifting, like a good bra.
Because zombies are “undead” and zombie movies are fun.  Let’s transfer these concepts to goal attainment terminology.
Punishment Avoidance Date
This one is self explanatory.  However, it still has a slight negative connotation.  I give it points for honesty, but it’s not my favorite option. It’s like saying “slightly soiled intestinal tubes” instead of “sausage casing.”  See the difference?
Fleeting Moment of Accomplishment
This term evokes honesty and realism.  When your boss checks in she can say “Have you reached your fleeting moment of accomplishment yet?”  Because as soon as you say yes you know you’ll be getting more work.  The moment really is fleeting.
Successful Posterior View
Meaning that when you look back you feel successful if you have reached your goal.  Plus this sounds like you’ve been in the gym and have a great butt.  Who wouldn’t want that?
Don’t kid yourself.  Whatever you call it we’ll all know that you’re lying and trying to sell us sewage scented perfume.  Deadlines stink no matter what you call them.  But we’ll have a great time laughing at you for using these absurd terms. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Writing Style

People sometimes ask me about my writing style and I hate to describe myself because I really do write some very diverse material. However, while cruising through some of the other blogs I follow regularly, I came across a website called “I Write Like.”

On this site you can submit a sample of your writing and the site compares your writing to samples from thousands of famous writers in their database. There is some sort of algorithm that looks at your word choice and sentence structure to determine which famous author your writing most resembles. I decided to test this out for fun and got different results for different writing samples. In total, I submitted 5 samples and below is a list of my results. The words in parentheses list where my writing samples came from in order to get the text for comparison.

1.) Vladimir Nabokov (Bedtime Stories for Cats - My latest book that will be out soon.)
2.) Mark Twain (Parson’s Song - Short Story)
3.) James Joyce (Peripheral Witches - Short Story)
4.) Vladimir Nabokov (Conversations with the Moon)
5.) Kurt Vonnegut (My blog post on A Clockwork Orange)

I can’t say whether or not this is valid, but it sure is a lot of fun. I recommend that you use at least a page of your writing. Since two of my book samples were classified as writing like Vladimir Nabokov, I’ll happily accept the comparison. I only started reading his work a few years ago but he’s an excellent writer and I’m flattered to be classified with him.

I write like
Vladimir Nabokov
I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

I also love Kurt Vonnegut and have since I was in the third grade when I read Breakfast of Champions (the book was a gift from my Dad, btw). I’m honored to be listed with Kurt. I really like and respect his work, so I’ll keep this result whether or not it’s true. It doesn’t matter. Sometimes the dream is more important than reality because the dream is what keeps us going so that we can eventually make it a reality.

I write like
Kurt Vonnegut
I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Imaginary Numbers

People who know me well also know that I love making up words. 
For example:
Buttmunchery n. Asinine and pointless behavior designed to annoy others. 
Used in a  sentence:
“Flagrant buttmunchery will not be tolerated in a corporate setting.  All buttmunchery must be, at the very least, thinly disguised to look like a form of colleague development.”

Part of this tendency to make up words comes from my psychological training (psychologists make up words all the time because they got bored stealing from Greek).  Anyhow, since I also have a love of numbers and measurement I thought I’d make up a few numbers.  Maybe in a few years these will make it into the dictionary just like the term “Gazillion” actually did!

My numbers are:

Oodleplex: infinitely larger than a googolplex. e.g., the number of years it will take congress to agree on how to balance the budget.

Sinfinity: So much freakin’ money that it’s sinful.

Maximillion: The maximum number of millions you can earn before you’re taxed to Sinfinity.

Oopszillion: An enormous amount lost on the stock market.  At least the loss will be a tax write-off. But it's still an "oops."

Gatsbyllion: A large sum of money spent trying to woo a lover who never returns your affections. Particularly appropriate if the person of your affection is named after a flower.

Imaginarium: The huge amount that you erroneously believe you will be paid as an honorarium.

Balloonoplex: The difference between the large sum you expected to receive as an honorarium and the actual sum, which is somewhere between Planck’s constant and zero.

Alpha: The amount the top dog makes.

Diggity: A really cool looking number of any amount.  It just has to look good and maybe have a groove that makes people want to dance.

Giggleplex: A huge amount received by a lottery winner. Every time these people think about how much money they’ve won it makes them giggle.   If they’re lucky it will be greater than oopszillion and somewhere in the vicinity of maximillion. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Clockwork Orange: An Ingenious Allegory of the Corporate World

I just finished reading A Clockwork Orange. I know that a lot of people find this book confusing because it contains made up words, a ton of violence, and deviant minds. Sound familiar? Yes, it’s a lot like the corporate world. If you look at the book through this lens it quickly makes a lot of sense. Think of the main character Alex as a CEO and his droogies as fellow executives. Follow my logic here:

1.) Alex is very good at establishing alibis through buying his way into the hearts of poor old fools by convincing them that he’s really a nice guy. The poor old fools in this case represent Congress (or other governing officials, for those outside of the US).

2.) He drinks milk which has the appearance of wholesomeness. However, the drink is laced with some pretty hefty narcotics and our friend Alex is anything but wholesome. Executives are big on appearance and often appear to be in a mind altering state that keeps them from properly viewing reality.

3.) He speaks using made up words. Executives do this all the time. Take for example words such as synergy, re-purpose, monetize, actionable, etc. You get the picture. The business world is full of just as many nonsense words as I found in this book, if not more. In fact, business terminology is slang of the worst sort: devoid of any true meaning.

4.) Note that once Alex has established trust with the poor old fools who will vouch for him, he sets off looking for victims to rape and rob. This is a classic business cliche, but as with most cliches this one contains some truth. Also note that the goofs in the bar continue to vouch for Alex regardless of what Alex has actually done because Alex has bought their loyalty. Sound familiar?

So what can we learn from this book?

~ Bad executives can be very dangerous to society.
~ I think the point above pretty much sums it all up.
~ However, I’m going to put an extra bullet here to make my point appear more substantial

Without giving away the plot (for those of you who haven’t yet read the book), the moral of the tale can be summarized in the words of the prison chaplain: “Goodness is something chosen.” Ergo, expecting or even legislating moral behavior in executives is likely to be an exercise in futility. The best we can do is to lock them away to protect society until they grow up and learn to behave like responsible people.

You could say that I’m reading too much into this book. But at least I read it.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Best Job Interview Questions and Assessments

I’ve interviewed a lot of people for both regular full time, part time, and freelance jobs. I like to ask interesting and creative questions during the process to see how the applicants respond. This often tells me more about the person than the standard “tell me about your employment history” types of questions. So today I’m sharing some of my favorite interview questions and assessment tests.

As a brief disclaimer to make my attorney happy: In no way am I saying these assessments are legal, should be asked under any circumstances, or admitting that I’ve actually asked any of them. Now, with that out of the way, let’s mess with a few imaginary job applicants and ask them the following:

1.) “Do you believe that women have souls?”
I got this question from the book “Cold Comfort Farm” and thought it was so good that I added it to my list of interview questions. I like to examine the applicant’s reaction. The best answer I received was from a psychologist. He replied, “I know they do because my wife tells me so.”

2.) “Please bend this spoon with your mind.”
That’s all you say. Then set a plastic spoon down in front of the person. Next, pick up a stopwatch, click the start button, and then stare at the person patiently. Keep glancing back at the watch and pretend to make notes.

3.) “Each of my personalities refuses to believe that the others exist. How would you handle the situation if two of them gave you conflicting assignments with the same deadline?”
This is really a good situational test to see how an individual would handle stress on the job. In addition, anyone who dismisses the question as absurd is demonstrating a lack of creativity and should be eliminated from consideration for the job.

4.) “How many fairies does it take to change a lightbulb?”
The correct answer: none. They use their wands to light the room so lightbulbs are irrelevant. I know it seems too obvious, but I’m amazed at how many people get this one wrong. Really good applicants will ask “What color light?” before giving an answer.

5.) “Do you see dead people?”
Some people get freaked out by this question, but this skill could be extremely useful in the workplace. Dead people often have information and insight that the living don’t have. Rare information is also often valuable to living people with credit cards.

I have a lot more "alleged" questions and assessments, but this is probably enough to get you all started on making up your own. Soon you’ll see how much fun it is to interview job candidates and you’ll want to hire someone every week. Think of this blog post as my contribution to the economy.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

All I Want From Modern Science

Scientists are busy researching all kinds of things. Some of these studies I really wonder about, such as whether or not people sleep more when they’re depressed (seriously - someone had to do a study to know this was true?). I won’t even get into all the completely absurd government funded studies out there. Instead, I’m going to discuss the things I want Science to validate or prove within my lifetime. These are things that would make life better for almost everyone, so they’re worth the time and funding it will take to prove them.

So here’s my list of scientific facts that I would like proven to be true:

1. Coffee is a miracle food. In fact, it’s so good for you that you can’t get enough of it. I’m not really sure what it does, it’s just so awesome that doctors will stop recommending that people drink water and will start recommending coffee.

2. Drinking tequila reverses gray hair back to it’s youthful color. Maybe it removes wrinkles, too.

3. Bacon makes you smarter. After this finding is published people will then have a choice: Do you want to be skinny or smart? That’s free will.

4. Beer saves marriages. Especially dark beer. The more beer you drink the happier your marriage will be. If you don’t like beer then wine is an acceptable substitute. I put this one in here for my husband since he loves beer. Do you see how happy it makes him to be married to me because I put this on this list? Science, I’m giving you data here. This is a freebie. You can thank me later. However, I can’t do everything for you -- so get moving!

5. Cinnamon rolls with icing cure cancer. They just should. Cancer is horrible so the cure should be wonderful.

6. Dogs hold the keys to the ultimate truths of the universe. I really like this one because I trust dogs. They’re very reliable. However, scientists will never be able to uncover this truth because they don’t know how to roll on the floor or scratch behind the ears correctly. Dogs don’t tell their secrets to just anyone, you know - especially the secrets of the Universe.

7. Cheese cleanses the soul. In fact, the stinkier the cheese the better it works. No one can harbor hatred or feel ill will when they’re tasting a great cheese. It’s impossible. And if you share that stinky cheese with friends the effect is even stronger. Especially if that friend is me. So stop worrying abut your arteries and start worrying about your soul.

8. Lingerie models are really robots. That’s the real secret that Victoria is hiding. Nothing human could possibly be that thin and pouty all the time.

9. You are more likely to get promoted or get a salary increase on your current job if you eat chocolate every day. It’s like a vitamin for your wallet. Don’t go broke. Grab a bon-bon for the sake of financial security.

10. Fajita Nachos and Margaritas are the cure for the common cold.

I think that should keep science busy for awhile. I’m not asking for much. I’m just asking for science to tell me what I want to hear. After all, corporations do it all the time and manage to get funding for it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Summer NAMM 2011

Last week I attended the Summer NAMM (The National Association of Music Merchants) show here in Nashville. This is the show where a ton of music vendors come and whore their wares to music stores, artists, and other unsuspecting buyers of musical merchandise. I leaned a lot while I was there. For example, guitarists need special lotion and if they don’t use it their hands will not channel their soulfulness into their music accordingly. The irony is that I thought I was a terrible guitarist. Turns out I was just using the wrong hand lotion.

In addition, I had no idea how much musical kitsch was out there. I’m not talking about bags, shirts, and other stuff with logos on it. I’m talking about really tacky useless things like pick holders shaped like a pewter dragon and playing cards with sharps and flats on them.

The great part about the show is that a lot of the instrument vendors set up drum sets and cymbals and they shove sticks into your hands as you walk by them. You can try the latest models of drums and percussion instruments from just about every brand out there. This is how I learned one of the most important lessons at the NAMM show: sitting behind the wrong drum set can make you look fat. So here are a few tips to help my fellow drummers look good on stage:

1. Choose the right color of drums. Dark drums are slimming. Avoid spiral designs or anything with stripes, regardless of whether the stripes are vertical or horizontal.

2. You need a pretty low BMI to pull off white drums. Avoid them unless you’re already exceptionally thin.

3. The larger the drums, the thinner you look sitting behind them. If you’re a portly drummer, you may also want to consider adding extra toms because you will look smaller when dwarfed by the volume around you.

If you are particularly self conscious of your weight, add a gong behind you. Large gongs will distract the audience from your waistline. The shimmer can also be hypnotic to viewers.

Cymbals represent who you are. These are the accessories that no drummer can live without. Large glossy symbols are the most slimming, but take into account the color and finish of your drums so that the cymbals don’t clash.

Finally, once you’ve narrowed down your choice of drums based on these criteria, you can then listen to how they sound.

Enough of this fun. What I really learned at NAMM is that there are much better sounding cymbals out there than the ones I’m currently using. I now suffer from cymbal envy. However, therapy for this condition can be quite expensive. In fact, I’m pretty sure that it’s cheaper just to buy some really nice cymbals. Problem solved.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

More Band Names

I’ve been pretty busy with my band Lucky Munk, so I’ve fallen behind on a few things. By the way, a clean house is a luxury and not a necessity. Also, deadlines on things like book manuscripts really should be flexible if the author is in a band.

So, since I’ve been busy with my band I thought that this week I would share a few more of the band names I’ve developed that have yet to be adopted by the up and coming in the music scene. So here they are.

The Deadbeats
This is a group of unemployed drummers. Their slogan: “We may be lifeless, but we've got rhythm.”

This was my first choice for my own band before I was told that it was “too difficult to spell.” But think about introducing the band during gigs: “Thank you, Ladies and Gentleman. We are Preposterous!” I still think it would make a great name.

The Hollow Bodies
A group of zombie jazz guitarists. Sort of a Kiss thing, but with a jazzier sound and maybe less spandex. Or more spandex. Let me think about that one.

The Eclectrics
A techno-pop group that plays a wide variety of tunes and genres. They are eclectic and electric. I find that when you don’t know what else to do just smash two similar words together and everything seems to work itself out. Sort of like puberty.

Rat Sass
This group probably has to be a metal band because the word “rat” doesn’t work as well in other genres. However, this has the best marketing potential of all the names I’ve come up with so far. Slogan: “Show people you care about them and give them a Rat Sass CD.” Say it out loud. You’ll get it sooner or later. Rat Sass could probably tour with The Pancake Maggots.

For those of you who missed it, my first post on band names is here.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Return of the Daily Dave

A few years ago I had a mailing list called The Daily Dave. Here’s how it worked:
First I searched the Internet for quotes from Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine. Luckily, Dave has done a lot of interviews so there’s plenty of material out there. Next, I took the quote out of context and applied it to a business situation. In other words, I would quote Dave’s words precisely but way out of context.

Why did I do this? First of all, the results were pretty hilarious. Secondly, Metal music and the business world have far more in common that one would initially think. See my last post for more on this topic. In fact, I would love to get with Dave and write a book on the subject. So without further ado and in response to the fans of the Daily Dave who are reading this blog, this week I’m posting this just for you.

A short disclaimer to loyal fans of the Daily Dave who really want it back: The Daily Dave is not permanently returning. But it may periodically visit this blog. After all, the Daily Dave and I spent several years together. We’ve bonded. So without further ado... see below and witness the magic and wisdom of the Daily Dave:

And maybe just one more for fun:

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What Spinal Tap Has to Teach Us About Business

There are a lot of business books out there with self-proclaimed experts telling us what we should or shouldn’t do in the corporate world. However, in my 20 years of experience I’ve discovered that the best business advice comes from the school of Metal and the movie Spinal Tap serves as an excellent example of these principles.

What Spinal Tap has to teach us about business:

1. Don’t jump into bed with the first company that asks for a merger. You could wind up with herpes. Sure some companies and their profit margins look enticing. But what other diseases will they bring into your culture or financial statements?

2. You may lose your drummer repeatedly, but the show will go on (as much as I hate to admit it). Some people may appear to be instrumental to your success (pun intended). However, in business everyone is replaceable. In fact, I’ve discovered that the people who appear irreplaceable are more skilled in promoting their value than in actually providing value to the organization. Thus, the people who appear to be essential to your success may be the least valuable of all your employees. Perceived value and actual value are two different things. A well structured and healthy organization is not dependent upon a few key people. If you think that your organization is going to crumble if you lose specific people, then it’s very likely to crumble even if those people stay.

3. You can detail all your plans and track progress, but a simple thing like one little typo can have a dramatic effect and leave you with a tiny, toy Stonehendge instead of the dramatic prop you intended. No one should be too proud to have their work checked. It’s easy to overlook small details that can make a big difference. In fact, I appreciate my editors for helping me with these things because I know they make me look better (FYI - I am a notoriously poor typist and make horrendous typing mistakes all the time). So build this into your project timelines and don’t just concern yourself with getting a product to market quickly. Speed is not an acceptable alternative to accuracy.

4. Someone is going to get trapped in the pod eventually. Insert “boiler room” or “creative accounting error” in place of “pod.” All the same. Sooner or later we all wind up in a situation that we didn’t create. Remember this when you decide to play the blame game. It’s always better to simply solve the problem and move on than to worry about finding someone to pay the price for a mistake. You could just as easily wind up in a pod that you didn’t build and be blamed for not emerging on stage on cue.

P.S. For those of you who were looking for a Daily Dave in this post... this is merely a prelude. For those of you who don’t know about the Daily Dave, please check back next week for an explanation and example.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My Birthday Wish List

My birthday just passed and several people asked me what I wanted as a gift (I don’t judge my friends by timeliness). I’m putting together a list list because even if you don’t know me you may know someone like me and this could be a great resource for gift ideas. For those of you who already bought me a gift, bookmark this for next year.

So here’s my list:

1. Cicadas to be gone for good. They didn’t listen to my advice in my previous blog, so quite frankly I’m getting a little tired of the bad house guests. Plus their grubs are ugly.
2. A cold front, preferably with snow. Yes, I know it’s June and that’s what makes this such a great gift. If I asked for this in December it wouldn’t mean as much. The bottom line: How much do you love me?
3. Move Boston closer to Nashville. I like visiting that city but don’t get there very often because it’s so far away. If someone moved it closer I could visit more often.
4. Write a song with Paul McCartney. And maybe have lunch.
5. I want my dog to be in charge of customer service everywhere I shop. She knows how to put things in order and she has a strong desire to see me happy. This makes her my ideal salesperson. Plus she might bite other customers I find annoying. That’s a bonus.

Well, this list should get you started. You have an entire year to make the appropriate arrangements, so I won’t be accepting excuses. And while I’m on the subject of arrangements, I’d just like to add that I will be turning 21 again next year so my husband will be taking me out drinking to celebrate this milestone (as he does every year, God bless him!). Since my daughter will not be old enough to be our designated driver for another year we’ll be looking for a volunteer for this position. A valid driver’s license is required.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My First Vocal Recording Session

I spent last Saturday in the studio with my band Lucky Munk assisting the engineer and producer with vocal tracks for our first recording. I wasn’t singing (so you can all relax), but as the drummer in the group I was allowed into the session to provide creative input. So I made my input as creative as I could.

First of all, I gave good tips on tonal quality to the vocalist such as “You sounded a little like Kermit the Frog on that take” and “I’m still hearing Kermittone in your voice” or “I need a little more Fozzy here.” The Muppets are universal, by the way, so they provide an excellent reference for making a point. I also gave good advice such as “How about if you sing the lyrics on the sheet in front of you?” And I made sure to be supportive and told the vocalist how hot his butt looks when he’s singing because you’ve got to keep building the vocalist’s confidence no matter how much he asks, “but how did I sound?”

One of the coolest things about being in the studio is that on the computer you can see the sound waves as they’re being created on every take. As a visual person, I loved this. These were like little Rorschach ribbons endlessly spooling. We voted on which take was the best and while other people would say “number 4” or “number 7” I kept in mind that I was there for creative input and said, “I like the one that looks like two birds kissing” or “the one that looks like an evil sandwich.”

While we were recording, I also took the opportunity to ask a lot of questions of the Producer, such as, “Why do you take another aspirin after every time I speak?” (The answer, by the way, was “You have a natural ability to remind me that I need to reduce my stress level.). And, “Are those really aspirin? Because I don’t think you should be taking so many of them.” He just smiled politely, so I’m not sure how well he speaks English. He didn’t have an accent, but you can never tell.

Another tip in case you’re ever in the control room during a recording session. The producer likes it when you agree with him. He kept mentioning (and at odd times, like when things were very intense) that it would be nice if we had someone who could run to Starbucks and get coffee such as someone who was not producing or engineering. I always agreed and said, “Yes, it’s too bad we don’t have someone like that who also isn’t providing creative input.” Then the producer and engineer would smile at each other and that’s how I knew that I was doing the right thing by agreeing with him.

I was not in the control room on Sunday when guitar parts were recorded. Apparently, they had all the creative input they could handle for one weekend.

Here’s the link to the song we finished. WARNING: The contents of this MP3 may contain elements of Jazz and/or Blues. Listeners sensitive to these harmonies should proceed with caution. If you or someone in the room with you is adversely affected by the sound of a hollow body guitar, you may want to turn down the volume before clicking the link.

You can also go to our FaceBook page and leave comments on what you liked or didn’t like about the song. We really do want some feedback. And if you like what we’re doing or feel that the drums sound awesome, please also “like” our Facebook page. We appreciate it.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Some People Call It an “Accident” I Call It “Genetics.”

Last night I was taking my daughter to a political roundtable discussion (you know how teenagers love those things). As we were walking into the building we were in a crosswalk with a crowd of other people when a hotel van suddenly lurched into reverse and slammed into my left shoulder knocking me over. I immediately recalled that a ery similar event happened to me almost exactly 20 years ago when I was crossing the street in downtown Nashville and a city bus swerved into the crosswalk hitting me in the left shoulder.

In both of these instances I was in a crowd where no one else was hit but me and I was in the area designated for pedestrians crossing with traffic. I also recalled that my grandfather was killed when he was walking on the side of a country road where the only car within miles swerved off the road to knock him 25 feet into a corn field.

So this started me thinking. It must be genetic. In both cases where I was hit no one else in the crowd was touched, but my left shoulder was irresistible to the vehicle in question. The car that killed my grandfather had to leave the road to hit him. Magnetic attraction. So, like my grandfather, moving vehicles are drawn to something in my blood that makes them want to touch me hard enough that I notice them. Quite frankly, I’m flattered. However, that doesn’t mean that I will be less cautious. They may be affectionate, but they're still dangerous.

The only other explanation I can think of is that my left shoulder has an uncontrollable addiction to moving vehicles. Possible. But unlikely. I’m going with genetics on this one.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Advice for Cicadas

I have a little neighborly advice for the Cicadas who have recently moved into my neighborhood. I know that some people are really upset with the little guys, so I thought I might be of some assistance in helping them to acclimate to the world that has changed since their last visit 13 years ago. With a little effort, I think we can all get along here.

One of the key issues stems from a lack of understanding concerning politeness. Behaviors that are perfectly acceptable in entomological society may not be appropriate around humans and vice versa. So when you weigh the appropriateness of my advice, please remember that we are in the South and that manners matter here. It can make a huge impact on how well you’re accepted. Bear this in mind as you read on.

First of all, swarming is not considered attractive in polite society. It shows a complete disregard for personal space. Unless you’re a hot looking groupie (subjective, I know) falling all over a rock star, swarming is generally not a desirable trait. Keep a little space and try to avoid accidentally flying into the orifices of strangers (unless the stranger is a rock star who likes that sort of thing).

Next, try to keep the noise down. I don’t speak your language or know what you’re saying, but everyone clicking at once creates more tension and confusion. So try not to talk all at once because you sound like a giant, drunk rattlesnake when you do this. In fact, your conversations often sound like a frat party with maracas.

Eating decorative plants, dropping your larvae in public places, molting where people may be eating, and dying en masse on someone’s front porch are all behaviors which are generally frowned upon. In addition, simply showing up every thirteen years is not the same as calling ahead for a reservation.

I know that this can be overwhelming all at once, so to help you keep track of appropriate and inappropriate behavior I have constructed a simple list below:

Dive bombing cars by hurling yourself at them on the interstate: Not polite.
Eating decorative wreaths: Not polite
Flying down a shirt without an invitation: Not polite.
Dying in large groups on your neighbors porch: Not polite.

Calling ahead for a reservation to swarm trees: Polite.
Dressing up for dinner: Polite
Playing “Quiet Mouse” for your entire six week visit: Polite
Wearing mascara to tone down your ghoulishly orange eyeballs: Polite
Keeping your pincers to yourself at all times: Polite

In summary, Cicadas, if you want to be welcomed on your next visit, try some traditional courtesy. The results can be lifechanging. For example, instead of thinking of you as a nuisance, some people might even think you were cool.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

When Rebranding Doesn't Work

I recently came across a company where the IT Helpdesk had been internally rebranded and the name changed several times over the past 6 or 8 years.  The department first decided to eliminate the term “helpdesk” from their name because the internal customers had started referring to them as the “no-helpdesk.”  They later again changed the department name to “Internal Services for Information Technology” because they wanted to emphasize the service aspect of their role in the organization.  It wasn’t long before employees began referring to the department as “i-Shit” by adding an H into the acronym.  Does anyone else see the real issue here?
The problem was never with the department name.  The real issues were the processes and actions that created the negative connotations.  These were never fully addressed in the rebranding efforts.  Sure there was customer services training and service metrics were implemented.  But the department employees reverted back to their old behavior and found ways to push their service numbers because they were quantity driven and not quality ratings.  The attitude and culture of the department stayed the same, so they maintained the same level of customer service (or lack of it) they always had in the past.
So, long story short: we can change our terms and educate our employees or customers, but if we don’t change the processes then we’re wasting time and money in order to rebrand something that will sooner or later carry the connotation of the old brand again.  Because it’s the same thing.  And people are smart enough to figure that out.
Good rebranding does’t try to convince people that something isn’t what it really is.  Or that it is what it isn’t.  People can see through semantic games.  Certain cable and phone companies may want to save this post and re-read it from time to time.  I’m not mentioning any names because they will probably change them in their next rebranding effort, anyway.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Story Behind the Stories

For those of you who don't know, I just released a collection of three short stories called "Leftover Shorts."

Leftover Shorts was named that way because it really is a collection of leftovers: these are three stories I wrote because I liked the concepts behind them.  None of these stories fits neatly into the two collections I’m currently working on, so they’re “Leftovers.”  That doesn’t mean that I love these children any less but, like all strange relatives, they may need a little explaining.  So here’s how I came about the idea for these three oddballs...
The Marshmallow War
Too often I see experienced workers and their body of institutional knowledge being ignored within organizations.  So I had to make fun of it.  I set the story in a Marshmallow company where the inexperienced new manager thinks that if a little of something is good (fluffiness) then a lot must be even better.  This story is about how the mature workers resolve their situation through some not so mature (yet creative) means.  When I re-read this story I feel like it has a slight Kurt Vonnegut feel to it, so I may have been reading some of his work when I was writing it.  Let me know if you agree with the influence or if I’m imagining it.
Peripheral Witches
I was definitely in a Tim Burton mood when I put this together.  The premise is that we see all kinds of evil in something that we don’t fully examine - in other words, when we don’t look at it head on.  The woman in the story sees witches in her peripheral vision.  The images vanish whenever she looks directly at them and she begins to think that she’s going crazy.  It doesn’t occur to her until the end that maybe she’s projecting her own bitterness onto these things.  The story is set during Prom time (which it currently is right now!) because Proms have a very fairy tale nature about them.  I thought it would be fun to weave this theme together with the fairy tale of the witches that the main character is creating in her mind.
Parson’s Song
There is an old folk tune called “MacPherson’s Lament.”  The legend states that the criminal MacPerson composed his own lament (song of mourning) on the gallows right before he was to be hanged.  I’ve updated the setting from old Scotland and put it in the more recent South.  The main character, Billy Parson, is fodder for small town gossip and superstition based local beliefs surrounding when he was born. Billy, himself doesn't know how to interpret or whether to believe the superstition, but it still impacts the choices he makes in life.
So that’s the story behind the stories.  Now please go purchase them for the low, low price of 99 cents.  If you like them, recommend them to a friend.  If you dislike them, recommend them to an enemy.  Either way I’d appreciate a referral.  Thank you!