Friday, October 20, 2006

Oh yeah, *your* head is Orthogonal too!

I noticed that several words become trendy in the office lexicon and catch fire. Everyone from Junior Woodchuck Billy the Intern to VP of Life-or-Death start using these words in their watercooler conversations and presentations. This month's Hot Words: Orthogonal and Gestalt.

Most of the word fashion leaders use the words correctly, but as time goes on, office barbarians start picking up the words and proceed to butcher them.

"Hey you clumsy oaf! The damn chassis is orthogonal now -- we'll have to sell it as a refurb!"
"Oh, I sit directly orthogonal to where Bill's office is"
"Those marketing people are so dang tight fisted; they're like the Money Gestalt."
"I'm feeling a bit gestalt from the chicken; mind if I take the afternoon off?"
(Achoo!) "Gestalt! Now wipe off your monitor"

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Back When I was Your Age...

Yesterday I went to get Biometrics (aka fingerprints) as part of a form I filled out for the Immigration folks. I haven't been at the US Immigration office in years, so I was surprised at how different it was. Way back when, a vist to the House that Bureacracy Built would entail a 6-8 hour wait. Worse yet, becase it was first-come, first-served with a daily cap of how many people can enter its hallowed halls, people would line up at 4am (4 hours before the doors opened at 8am) and secure a spot early enuf in the line that they fall within the daily limit. The lights were off, there were no restrooms, and it was miserable.

But no more! I was all prepared with three novels, a thermous full of coffee, snacks, a blanket, and an empty bottle emptying things, but I didn't need any of it! I just waltzed in at my appointed time, filled out some forms, got fingerprinted, then I was on my way. Total time elapsed: 12 minutes. And the fingerprinting machine was just plain grand. No more sticking your fingers in that inky sponge and tasting ink on your french fries for the next 48 hrs. Today, it was a purpose-built finger scanner that took a digitized photo and immediately loaded it in my profile. Instantly, this was merged in the backend to the Mother of All Databases and crossindexed with my finacial info, police records, and education history. Amazing stuff. Even more amazing, as I finished scanning my left index finger, the printer attached to the scanner churned out a coupon of Dannon's yogurt (what I had for breakfast), and printed out "2nd floor, 3pm. " which was the time of my next meeting. Truely Amazing.

Monday, October 02, 2006


We have this teleconferencing app that announces when someone dials into or out of a meeting. "Hideo has just joined the meeting" the automated robo-voice soothingly declares. It is a bit disruptive though, as the announcement cuts off all conversation in the interim. This is especially so when attendants arrive late or leave early. I usually don't miss a beat when these interruptions occur, but today was different.

I work frequently with a marketer called Hope. When she dropped off of the line to attend another meeting, she had a different effect. "Hope has just left the meeting." Even the robo-voice sounded like it was at the end of its rope. Are things truely Hope-less? Are things so bleak? And must you, auto-attendant, remind me that all we are is Dust in the Wind? I paused mid-sentence and found myself a bit despondent. But then, a colleague IMed me a YouTube video featuring a Indian toddler doing 80's dance moves (think: Breakin' 2; Electric Bugaloo ." Synopsis: A developer tries to bulldoze a community recreation center. The local breakdancers try to stop it). I put the phone on mute, enjoyed a chuckle, and life moved on; despite the fact that all hope had left the meeting.

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