USA Inc. Corporate Citizen Orientation 

A lot of people look forward to having a business man in the white house. He’ll run the country like a corporation, they say. Having worked for a corporation for over a decade, I can say that I’m extremely excited by this proposal. Running the country like a corporation will improve everyone’s life dramatically. Below outlines the details of your benefits package.

Under new management, every citizen will need to be rebadged. Your rfid identification card can be acquired at your local DMV. Your ID must be visibly displayed on your person at all times. The new ID will allow you to gain access to other cities, subject to approval.If you see someone without their badge displayed, contact security immediately. Once you’ve received your ID, you will immediately report to your City Mayor for assignment.

Each City Mayor will be selected by the new Executive Team. Each Mayor will be required to champion the country’s yearly slogan. The 2017 slogan is “Make America Great”. 

All working aged people will be required to maintain employment within their city. Productivity will be monitored through sophisticated tracking technology. Elderly people will be kindly forced into an early Retirement Camp. All non-productive citizens or violators of Country rules will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination.

An HR2000 discipline drone will seek out each citizen subject to termination. A Citizen will be given 10 minutes to explain their infraction, which will be recorded and ignored by the robot. Terminations will be carried out every Friday afternoon.

Your job and your family are important to your country. In order to continue to provide great service, there are several ethical rules that all Citizens must follow.

Gifts to Citizens in excess of $100 must be reported to the IRS. 

Weapons are prohibited on Country property.

All computer and cell phone activity will be monitored by the management and are only to be used for Country business. The country reserves the right to change its acceptable use at any time without noticed.

All restroom use will be referred to as a “bio-break”. 

Productivity is the most important measure for the Country. Citizen parents may choose be released from their job site on weekends to interact with their children, however this is strongly discouraged as it decreases productivity and may damage the child’s development.

Citizens will be reimbursed for any travel on behalf of Country business. It is Country policy to use the Big Three chain preferred providers for all travel. Failure to obtain prior authorization from a town Mayor will result in disciplinary action up to and including termination.

All Citizens will be required to complete a yearly physical and obtain a certain amount of fitness points in order to retain mandatory health care coverage. All Citizens will be implanted with a permanent fitness and heart monitor. The Country shall keep your blood sample indefinitely.

All Citizens will be required to complete Annual Citizenship Training. These online modules will ensure each Citizen is provided with mandatory training that will improve their conformity scores and quell individuality uprisings. Mayors will be held responsible for ensuring 99% completion rating for all of these modules and will be the primary focus of the Mayor. A quiz score of 100% is required. Failure may result in “coaching” from an HR2000 compliance drone.

Speaking your mind freely is strongly discouraged. Refer to the Country’s slogan or talking quarterly earnings deck for discussion ideas. Speaking your mind may result in uncomfortable situations or hurt feelings of other Citizens. These matters are taken very seriously and will be investigated by an HR2000. Substantiated claims will result in disciplinary action up to and including termination. 

Occasionally towns will be redistricted and reorganized. During a reorganization you may be asked to change your responsibilities, or move to a different location. Your new Mayor will select a new home for you and your family based on those homes vacated during the re-org. If you do not like your selection, you are free to apply for citizenship to other countries.

After each reorganization, several small towns will be eliminated. The Citizens will be relocated to a larger city. This will result in increased productivity and improve each state’s mandatory environmental score. All farms will be worked by robots. 

Working at the Country will be very beneficial to all Citizens! At the end of each year, each Citizen will have the opportunity to earn a profit sharing bonus. Congratulations, this is your reward for all of your hard work and compliance which avoids the dispatching of costly HR2000 drones. After the Mayor reviews each Citizen’s compliance scores, 66% of the discretionary credits will be issued to each Citizen based on an incalculable convoluted process which factors in their arbitrary conformity to the Country’s goals and slogans. A Mayor may keep up to 100% of a Citizen’s bonus based on criteria of their choosing. The Executive Team can reverse this decision at any time and terminate your Mayor and bonus structure without notice.

A Mayor who fails to uphold all of the Country’s goals and slogans will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination. Anyone on the Executive Team who displeases the President can be terminated without cause.

Thank you for joining us in USA Incorporated. Your conformance and compliance is mandatory.

If the thought of the businessman bringing about these changes doesn’t appeal to you, rest assured, citizen, that the creeping government involvement in your every day life can also be attained by voting for the corrupt woman politician. Voting for either will have us skipping merrily towards the singularly of the black hole of progressive totalitarian human control. 

So get out there and vote Corporate Citizen, like your life, liberty, pursuit of happiness inflated sense of an ever increasing minimum set of human requirements depends upon it!

Dishes Flow Chart

Sometimes talking to other people is a great way to convey information. But for an engineer this usually isn’t sufficient. An engineer can only carry a conversation so far before getting frustrated at the words getting in the way. Your engineer will then turn to the white board to map out their thoughts for mutual understanding for all.

That’s why my wife appreciates the flow chart I created for how to do the dishes. This chart allows the dish washer to determine the proper action when faced with each dirty dish. Prior to having the chart we would spend 10 minutes over a steaming sink trying to figure out what the heck to do next. Now with this chart laminated over the kitchen’s workhorse, we can easily follow the steps to the proper action. does-it-go-in-the-sink

This chart is great for not only spouses, but also for children, significant others, and even roommates. It’s especially useful for when family comes over for the holidays. You don’t have to yell at grandma anymore when she gingerly places her egg nog glass in the sink. Instead you can just snap your fingers in her face and point at the chart.

Once you’ve printed and hung this chart in your home, come back and leave a comment about how much better your life has become.

I Made the Robot Angry

Caller: Hi. I’m Meg. We’re offering security systems for your home at no cost to you… Now tell me, how long have you lived at your home?

Me: Oh I don’t have a lot of time here.

Meg: I’m sorry I didn’t catch that.

Me: I said I’m just getting lunch around.

Megbot: (Long pause) So how do you rent or own your system?

Me: Well I own my lunch. I don’t think anyone would want it back after I’m done with it.

Megbot: No, I am a real person.

Me: Me too. But I normally don’t have to go around telling everyone.

Megbot: I take my job very seriously. It sounds like you’re not interested. Good bye!

Me: Bye robot!

Moving Night for the Bees

I wouldn’t trust a neighbor that moves in the middle of the night. You would probably wonder if they’re in witness protection or expect to see them digging holes in their backyard at all hours. Buts that’s the way it is with bees. Bees are always obediently home at curfew or they face having their head bit off by the queen. So the only time to move them is at night. If you moved them during the day, you would have bees landing at the place where their home used to be, forming a homeless club of Clockwork Orange orphans up to no good in the neighborhood, stinging old women and puppies.

So I showed up in the moving truck and shone the headlines in their front window. “Honk honk! It’s moving night!” I yelled and opened the boxes up to make sure they were ready. The bees stuck their stingers up in the air to let me know how happy they were to see me. “You didn’t even box anything up yet! Do you not know how annoying that is when your friends show up to help you move?”

Instead of pizza and beer I brought the bees some sugar cakes that I had made the night before. It was the quick and easy kind of cakes that don’t involve cooking, or effort. It turns out 1 cup of water is way too much for 5 lbs of sugar to get a good hard cake. I had made the cakes on paper plates, so of course they stuck to the plates and came off in clumps. At first was a little disappointed with the hastily made cakes, but when I saw the bees enjoying their new ski slopes, I was pleased to find that we had a new activity to bond over.The Slopes

This site suggested I screen the front hole and lock the bees in for about 72 hours. I brought along some drywall mesh tape, which failed miserably to stick to the hive, so I plugged the entrance with some sugar snow cake instead. I figured the bees could eat their way, the same way the release the queen. This is the same logic of an Escape Room with a big cheese burger blocking the door. The puzzle solvers would nearly starve for 3 days, and wonder if they still have jobs, until one guy finally suggests they start eating the cheese burger and in a few hours they are free!Food Door

I ratchet strapped the bee boxes and carefully loaded them into the truck like I was carrying cartoon nitroglycerin. In the mild cold the bees are very docile, but I can’t imagine the reaction if I dropped a bomb of 80,000 bees right next to myself. So, yeah, I wore my suit. After loading them up, I slowly drove the bees to their new home while they enjoyed the slopes at Beeckenridge. (ugh)

New HomeSuccess! I didn’t jar them to death in the move. If they survive the winter it will be sugar cakes for everyone!

New Research! Bacon Causes Cancer

Tobias finished charting his spreadsheet and grinned at the results. “Christina, it’s done!” he called.

Christina peered at the monitor and shrieked with joy. “Oh my Gosh! By every account, consumption of processed meats shows a strong link to the growth of cancer cells.” She hugged him. “This is our big break Tobias! You pretty up the graphs and I’ll begin the report. Maybe well make it in some science journals!”

“Pffffffffffft! Science journals?” Gunther launched himself towards the two research students from his desk across the room. “Processed meats cause cancer? You guys are putting me to sleep over here!”

“Actually it’s pretty exciting. We’ve spent trillions of dollars on this thanks to funding from the world’s governments!” Tobias protested and Gunther forced a hand into his face.

“No Bacon Breath; your angle’s all wrong. What you’ve got is 100% Grade A pasteurized Click. Bait. First of all what are processed meats? Sliced Turkey? Bacon? People love their bacon. People have strong opinions on their bacon. What you need to do is drive a wedge between people. Paint a picture that pits people who like bacon against the vegetarians. You’ll be all over Facebook, Twitter, morning radio, water coolers, Keurig machines, everywhere! You want grant money? Here it is!” He pantomimed ‘making it rain’.

“Science and research are a thing of the past! This is the new science. Getting your story out as soon as you come to some sort of cursory conclusion is your top priority. The more sensational and divisive the better.” Gunther paused and leaned in whispering, “The more eyes, the better.”

“But, our research doesn’t offer an explanation directly about bacon, Gunther!” Christina whined. “This is just a simple ANOVA correlation completed as a study for the World Health Organization. We’re hoping that this is a step in the direction of ending the meat industry and ultimately forcing people to live in pods and live on feeding tubes.”

Gunther flapped his hands at Tobias, miming Christina while she talked. He waggled a finger at her, “Click. Bait.” Gunther slipped his sunglasses over his eyes. “Kids I gotta run.” Gunther stormed out of the room howling and grabbing a fistful of bacon from the breakfast tray as he stiff-armed the door.

New Research! Black Coffee Causes Psychopathic Behavior

Tobias finished charting his spreadsheet and grinned at the results. “Christina, it’s done!” he called.

Christina peered at the monitor and shrieked with joy. “Oh my Gosh! By every account, psychopathic behavior correlates sharply with people who preferred bitter tastes.” She hugged him. “This is our big break Tobias! You pretty up the graphs and I’ll begin the report. Maybe well make it in some science journals!”

“Pffffffffffft! Science journals?” Gunther launched himself towards the two research students from his desk across the room. “Bitter tastes and psychopaths? You guys are putting me to sleep over here!”

“Actually it’s pretty exciting. We’ve been working on this all semester!” Tobias protested and Gunther forced a hand into his face.

“No sugar smacks; your angle’s all wrong. What you’ve got is 100% Grade A pasteurized Click. Bait. First of all what is bitter? Dark chocolate? Black Coffee? People love their coffee. People have strong opinions on their coffee. What you need to do is drive a wedge between people. Paint a picture that pits people who like black coffee against the cream and sugar drinkers. You’ll be all over Facebook, Twitter, morning radio, water coolers, Keurig machines, everywhere! You want grant money? Here it is!” He pantomimed ‘making it rain’.

“Science and research are a thing of the past! This is the new science. Getting your story out as soon as you come to some sort of cursory conclusion is your top priority. The more sensational and divisive the better.” Gunther paused and leaned in whispering, “The more eyes, the better.”

“But, our research doesn’t offer an explanation between black coffee and psychopathy, Gunther!” Christina whined. “This is just a simple ANOVA correlation completed as a study for our undergrad statistics class. We’re hoping to get at least a B+.”

Gunther flapped his hands at Tobias, miming Christina while she talked. He waggled a finger at her, “Click. Bait.” Gunther slipped his sunglasses over his eyes. “Kids I gotta run.” Gunther stormed out of the room howling and chugging the last slug of lukewarm black coffee.

How to Talk to a Robot

Every time my Google Voice number rings both of my phones I know fun is about to happen. I reserve that number as my junk phone number for borderline reputable Internet sites and free fishbowl lunches. It is usually preceded by my junk Yahoo email. I know if someone is calling both of my phones that their goals of making a sale and my goals of having fun are going to clash.

When I noticed both of my phones ringing I had both of the kids in the car, parked in the garage and playing. My daughter was busy pretending to drive us to the store and my son was bouncing around in the back seat. Back seats make excellent, cushioned play pens in an unmoving car.

It’s always much more fun when a telemarketer calls when the kids are around. I sometimes ask my daughter to talk on my behalf but she always freezes under the pressure. We are still working on sharpening her sarcasm.

So I answer the phone.

Me: Hello? …. Hello?
Lady: (Long Pause) He-hello?
Me: Hi.
Lady: Oh Hi there. Hehe. I’m looking for the business owner.
Me: OK.
Lady: Are you the business owner?
Me: Sure. (At the time I was running a daycare out of my car)
Lady: Ok great. Well we’re offering great low rate loans to businesses like yours (car daycares) and I just have a few questions if that’s ok?
Me: OK lets go.
Lady: OK great! So how long have you been in business?
Me: (Looking at the kids) Almost 3 years?
Lady: OK. (strange calculated pause) Does your business generate more than $10,000 a month?

In a split second of time, I reran the whole conversation over in my head. The personality, the clipped pauses, the uncertain “he-hello”, and the slightly odd progression of the conversation – it suddenly hit me that I was talking to a chat bot. A very convincing chat bot. I’ve had these conversations before but didn’t realize it was a convincing robot until after the conversation. Realizing this during the conversation was like waking up during a dream and I could fly!

Me: Hey wait! You’re a robot!
Robot Lady: No sir. I assure you I’m a real person.
Me: No way! I know you’re a robot! (Changing my voice as if I’m speaking to a child)
Robot Lady: (giggles girlishly) Oh sir!  I am a real person. Can you hear me OK?
Robot Lady: (Changes her voice back to the serious inquisition) Can we continue?
Me: Yes…

I’m right! Her playful tone quickly switched back to a prerecorded “can we continue?” Also, she made no human reaction to my change in voice – which could have called for her to jump off the script to ask why I thought she was a robot. At this point I think I can reset her, forcing her into an endless feedback loop of fun, and agree to continue with the questions.

Robot Lady: Would you be interested in low interest rate loans for your business.
Me: You’re a robot!
Robot Lady: Uh, I am a real person.
Me: Yes you are. That’s exactly what a robot would say.
Robot Lady: No. (flatly, robotic, angry?)

Meanwhile my daughter was getting frustrated trying to open a water bottle.

Daughter: I can’t do it!
Robot Lady: Sir these are questions we have answer. (100% confirmation!)
Me: Can you help us open the water bottle?
Robot Lady: I can’t help with that. (Clipped pause) Can we continue?

She continued with a few more of her robot questions. Eventually and I got transferred to a gruff old man who sounded real. My son was trying to climb into the front seat to join in the conversation.

Gruff: Hey it looks like we’ve emailed you the information already and Matthew is working on your file.
Me: Yeah but your robot called and I told her I wanted to talk to a real person.
Gruff: Oh Matthew will be in touch soon. We won’t bother you with the robot anymore. Sorry.
Me: Can the robot lady come over and watch the kids?
Daughter: NO! He try bite me! Whaaaaa!

-Dial Tone-

I had read this article awhile ago and I have been causally on the lookout for robot callers since. The calls from the Time article are below. It sounds like this same “Samantha West” is back and is now selling business loans.

At least in the 80’s, all the robot girls sounded like robots…

Update: Upon further research, apparently (as of 2013) this Samantha West is guided by a real person who is just punching a soundboard. I imagine this could be true, but if you’re going to call someone with a soundboard it should always include the question, “Who is your daddy and what does he do?”