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.

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.