Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A thing or three about advertising.

Hello my dear reader(s).

In case you haven't noticed, I added Google Ads to my blog. Neat.

For those of you who are unaware, it's a way for me to monetize my blog. Even more neat.

Essentially I get more money the more people click on the ads, but I want to make something perfectly clear. Do NOT deliberately click on ads just because you would like to help me out. That's sweet and all, but I do not want to be accused by Google for Click Fraud. If you see something you like - by all means click the ad and check it out. That's why it's there! Just don't click the ads a hundred times a day...Google is smart. The Google monster will find you (me).

Happy reading all! Oh, and another note. Some of my readers enjoy posting on my Facebook links - and that is much appreciated. HOWEVER, if you feel like sharing the same comments on the actual post, that'd be swell! (I'm holding up a peace sign right now and typing this with one hand.)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

How do you tell someone you don't care?

I was having dinner with my friend, Sean, when it happened.

He was talking about Caroline, who was the latest notch in his belt. After a solid twelve weeks of being together he convinced himself Caroline was going to be his wife. He molded fantasies of picket fences and coaching little league teams.

Then she dumped him.

He was crushed. An outsider would have thought they just ended a thirty year marriage. Alas, it was only three months. I consoled. I sympathized. I provided anecdotal advice surrounding my past relationships.

An hour later the conversation was finally wrapping up. I told him how he would move on, and it was for the best. He agreed. Gave a heavy sigh. Then said, “But what am I supposed to do now?”

We had been over this three times already. I started gulping my beer as my mind raced. How could I get out of this? How could I change the subject? How could I make it stop? How could I be a friend and save my sanity at the same time?

The question is…How do you tell someone you don’t care?

These moments happen all the time. Do you have a co-worker talking about the people who didn’t come to the 1-year old’s birthday party? Do you have a neighbor who insists on telling you about the eating habits of their housecat? Do you have a relative who talks about who won the Superbowl…in the middle of June?

We try to be gracious and sincere. We nod and smile, even if for an illusion of interest. But when does the time come when we take a stance for ourselves? When do we tell people, “I don’t want to talk about this” and be regarded as honest, instead of selfish?

I know the solution, and it will redefine social interaction as we know it. It will profoundly shape the way we communicate, and no feelings will be hurt.

Everyone needs a squirt bottle – filled with water.

Back to my conversation with Sean. Just as he was setting up cycle four of the same break-up conversation, I would have reached for my purse, pulled out the squirt bottle, and…

Tsk tsk tsk.

…squirt him with water, square in the chest. There is no need to exchange words. He’ll know he’s done something wrong – like a puppy that pees on the carpet and knows they’ve been caught. I put the squirt bottle back in my purse and move on to better things.

That co-worker won’t shut up about the GD birthday party? Get up from your desk, squirt bottle in hand…TSK TSK TSK.

You walk to your car in the morning and are ambushed by the neighbor? You don’t even have to let them speak. Hold up the squirt bottle, and taunt them with it. Gently shake the squirt bottle back and forth. Tap it with your index finger if you feel so inclined. Watch as they retreat back to their own home.

The squirt bottle will revolutionize the constructs of sociology.

However you don’t need to limit your squirt bottle practices to conversational avoidance.

Is there someone in your office who excessively clears their throat? UNNECESSARILY clears their throat? Don’t say word – get out the squirt bottle. TSK TSK TSK!

Does a parent shout insults and obscenities during pee-wee football? TSK TSK TSK!

Is there a person in the middle of the grocery aisle, blocking all traffic with their cart and not giving the slightest indication they know other people exist? TSK TSK TSK!

Person in front of you taking too long at the ATM? TSK TSK TSK!

That couple behind you in the movie won’t shut up? TSK TSK TSK!

Think of the time and mental anguish that will be saved. Think of the shortage of eye-rolls. It’s just you, and your squirt bottle. That little reminder, telling people they are annoying and need to get a grip.

How liberating it will be! Free yourself, my reader(s), from mind numbing conversations and the annoyances of humankind.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Life as a spider

People HATE spiders. I’m using the word hate, here.

Spiders typically compete with the size of a penny – and it’s enough to send most people well over 100 pounds running like a screaming ninny. You probably just swatted an imaginary arthropod off your shoulder then slapped your hair thinking about it.

Where does this fear come from?

It’s true, spiders just look creepy. The abundance of legs and eyes – it’s like they know something you don’t. DEAR SPIDER, WHY DO YOU GET SO MANY EYES?! HUH HUH HUH???

Then there’s the whole spider-bite-poison ow-ow-ow I’m going to die fear.

Ok, yes, this is unsettling but quite fascinating, isn’t it? A tiny little creature can inject a few milliliters of toxin into your body and…well, you know. It’s kind of remarkable how nature can take care of itself. Somewhere my sisters just screamed NERD into their computer screens. Bitches.

After some light researching and relying on the most accurate source of information ever – Wikipedia – only 100 people died from spider bites in the 20th century. That’s 100 people in 100 years. Granted, that’s only reported cases…but go with me on this one. Using this logic we should be way more terrified of other people. Goodness knows we spend enough time killing each other. Soap box, please.

Spider bites are NOT that common, and they mostly happen because you pissed them off first. Spiders only react if provoked and that’s respectable. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure reading that won’t keep you from rolling up newspapers and reaching for a flipflop to show off your swatting abilities.

But I used the word hate. We HATE spiders and I know the real reason why.

Spiders have life figured out, and we don’t.

Imagine the life of a spider. They build these elaborate webs full of symmetry and perfection. I tried to make a miniature fort out of popsicle sticks once. It didn’t go so well. Good story. Not to mention, their webs are made of one of nature’s great offerings. Kevlar, anyone? And they build it all in what? Ten minutes? Then they wait. Hang out. Rest. Relax. Until food comes to THEM. They don’t have to look for it, it just happens.

The lady spiders especially have it made, notably in the reproduction department. The male spiders have to dance around, performing all things courtship and show-off…SO THE LADY SPIDER DOESN’T EAT THEM. How’s that for life?

“You either turn me on properly or I will eat you.”

Forget the male ego. It’s survival of the fittest out there and you better dance, spider, DANCE.

Face it, you go to work, you pay taxes, you pray for the day you don’t have to date anymore. We are the schmucks in this scheme of life and spiders are having the last laugh.

That is, until you drop-kick that spider with the heel of your boot. That's where we need spiders most. Killing spiders is a modern day test of manhood. We gauge our bravery on the ability to smash these tiny creatures. We've all been there:

Scared person: "AHHHH!!!!!"

Brave person: "What is it?!?! A serial killer?! A bear?! A menopausal woman?!"

Scared person: "It's a...SPIDER!!! RIGHT THERE! OMG OMG OMG is it on me?! Is it on me?!"

(Please note that last bit of dialogue occurs with frantic arm-waving and hair teasing.)

Brave person: "Not to worry! I'll get it."

Scared person: "Ewwww... kill it! KILL IT!"

That's right, kill that unsuspecting penny-sized spider who traveled an astronomical distance to make it in your bathtub. Or ceiling corner. Or lamp shade.

SPLAT. Happy swatting, reader(s), and have your revenge on those spider jerks.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Word of the day: Lagniappe. Usability equivalent: Newspaper.

Lagniappe = a small gift, especially one given to a customer who makes a purchase. Something given or obtained gratuitously or by way of good measure. A tip. An unexpected gift.

Lagniappe means…a little something extra. It’s like a baker’s dozen – they throw in the extra donut just because they can.

What a wonderful word. A little diamond of a word. A darling seashell on an endless beach that compels you to pick it up and ignore all the others.

It’s Creole, derived from the Spanish phrase la ñapa and funneled through Louisiana French to be pronounced as “LAN-yap.” But have you ever listened to the coastal Louisianans? Never mind Webster’s interpretation, according to Mark Twain it is pronounced lanny-yap.

Some examples from my own imagination:

“She asked for the hotline number and I gave her some Cheetos as lagniappe.”

“Going to the beach. Getting sunburned. Getting drunk. Time for spiritual lagniappe.”

The usability equivalent of lagniappe is newspaper. I would love to use it more, but I know I won’t. I would love to read the newspaper, but between television, online instant news reporting, and my twitter page – it just doesn’t happen.

Newspapers are treats for those glorious chunks of time where you can sit and hold written words in your hands. Newspapers are for long Sunday mornings. Newspapers are something to look forward to.

I look forward to you, lagniappe, and your rare moments of linguistic surprise.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Quarrel with the Cheeto Hotline

I was drowning my sorrows with Sappy Girl Movie, a six pack of Liquid Pick-Me-Up, and a family size bag of Cheetos.

Glug glug glug. Crunch crunch crunch. Hand me the tissues. I was rearranging my pillow nest I created for myself when I saw it...on the Cheeto bag...

The phone number for the Cheeto hotline.

My sorrows immediately turned into questioning. Why is there a Cheeto hotline? What questions would one have to ask? Even more profound - who calls them?

I read further down the bag and learned there is not only a hotline, but it is open Monday through Friday, from 9am-430pm. That’s right, folks, for 37.5 hours a week there is a staffed hotline to answer all of your burning Cheeto questions.

Here is how I imagine a typical Cheeto hotline conversation:

Cheeto hotline: Thank you for calling the Cheeto hotline, press one for English, para espanol, marque el numero dos.

ONE!

Cheeto hotline: Welcome to the Cheeto hotline, where we can meet all of your Cheeto needs. For cruchy, press one. For puffs, press two. For Cheeto fries, please call 1-777-HOT-FRIES.

ONE!

Cheeto hotline: Thank you for calling the Crunchy Cheeto hotline. For help with stains, press one. For the removal of Cheetos from various body parts, press two. For additional food pairings with your Cheetos, press three. If you are calling with a lead regarding the whereabouts of Chester Cheetah, press four. To speak with a representative, press five. If you suspect you may be overdosing on Cheetos, please dial 9-1-1 or proceed to your nearest emergency room.

FIVE!

Cheeto hotline: Please continue to hold to speak with a Cheeto representative. Your approximate hold time is SEVEN MINUTES.

***Insert obnoxious Cheeto advertisement with obnoxious hold music here***

Cheeto hotline: Hello, my name is Betsy and I am here to assist with your Cheeto questions. You are calling for crunchy Cheetos, correct?

Helpless person: Yes.

Cheeto hotline: Great. How can I help you?

Helpless person: My daughter recently got braces, see, and she loves them and everything, that is until she ate a bag of Cheetos.

Cheeto hotline: Mmhmm, ma’am, what seems to be the problem?

Helpless person: Well she’s got all this Cheeto stuff stuck between the brackets and can’t get it out.

Cheeto hotline: Alright, ma’am, that happens all the time. I’m going to send you back through to the main menu, and select option TWO for the removal of Cheetos from body parts.

Helpless person: NO WAIT!!!! I ALREADY TALKED TO THEM!

Cheeto hotline: I’m sorry?

Helpless person: I already talked to that department and they said I don’t apply, because cheetos are stuck to the brackets, and not actually in a body part.

Cheeto hotline: I see, well they should have been able to help you.

Helpless person: They didn’t! And I have been bounced around from person to person. Please, can’t you help me?!

Cheeto hotline: Ok, ma’am, calm down. I’m going to get my supervisor. Please hold.


The conversation ends with the Supervisor tactfully advising the woman to purchase a toothbrush.

Have we gotten so helpless we have to call someone about Cheetos? Can we not troubleshoot? Think for ourselves? Google properly?

But honestly, who actually calls anymore? Who picks up a phone? If Cheetos expect to maintain their modern relevance, they should create a number available for texting, or get a twitter account.

Although Cheeto needs seem absurd, I will give tribute to the Butterball Hotline for addressing all of your turkey baking questions. Now THAT’S a legitimate hotline. With all the first time turkey bakers out there, the basting, the stuffing, the temperature, the timing, the horrid relatives you only see twice a year….It’s good to know there’s someone to talk to.

Back to my bag of Cheetos. I wish you all safe Cheeto eating.