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How to Communicate With Geeks

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A lot of “normal people” tend to have trouble understanding geeks. In companies around the world, IT departments are avoided, because the people there have such a different method of communication. Marketing and Sales departments, in particular, tend to see the geeks down in IT or Development departments as an alien race.

I will postulate that the problem isn’t that geeks are seen as alien. The problem is that they aren’t treated that way. The “normal people” think the best way to communicate is by following “normal people” rules. Instead, they should treat their interactions with geeks as they would first contact with an alien race. This alien race happens to be able to speak the same language, but underneath they draw from a completely different set of memories and experiences.

When approaching this alien race known as geeks, it is important that one not make wild, unpredictable movements or noises. This can cause hostility or wariness, and is not conducive to effective communication. When approaching, carefully observe the geek’s actions. If the geek is busy on a task, quietly move into peripheral vision, six to ten feet away if possible. This may not be possible in a common urban geek lair known as the cubicle. In this case, stand quietly on one side of the door and wait to be noticed.

If you are noticed, but not acknowledged, it is safe to say something at this point. Choose your words carefully. Safe things to say at this point include the following:

“When you have a moment…” There is no continuation to this incomplete sentence. This is interpreted as either the start or end of a sentence. Allow the geek to complete the sentence mentally if they wish, but do not complete it yourself. Anything you use to complete the sentence may cause this contact to go horribly wrong.

“I can wait.” This simply conveys that you value the geek’s time, and that you are willing to trade a bit of your own time unproductively waiting while the geek produces. Underlying this is an understanding that geeks, throughout history, are the ones who brought us the greatest improvements from the wheel to the Internet. Who knows what this geek will accomplish with the time you value?

“I have an emergency.” This says to the geek that something very horrible is going wrong, and that the specific geek skills needed to avert complete disaster are being requested. This can greatly reduce or eliminate the wait time while the geek finds a stopping point in their current activity. I should also note the importance that this only be used in real emergencies. Your reliability in judging what constitutes an emergency will be a major factor in whether you will eventually be accepted in heavily-populated geek communities.

Once you have been acknowledged by the geek, you may approach. Step closer, but no closer than three feet. A submissive posture is also important if you are in the geek’s home environment, so stooping to be closer to eye-level is a perfectly acceptable posture. In a cubicle-home, you may ask if you can sit in the second chair, if there is one.

Now it is time to present your gift. If this is your first interaction with this particular geek, you might use an opening line at this point before getting into the business you came for. An acceptable opening line is, “You’re exactly the person I need for this stuff.” This is a show of great respect. You are acknowledging the superior abilities of the geek in an as-yet-unnamed area. There is also a promise of a puzzle that needs to be solved. Perhaps, if the geek is very lucky, the puzzle will be a new one.

If this is not the first time meeting this particular geek, then your gift needs no wrapping. It is time to state your problem. State it clearly and concisely. Context is good, if relevant. If the explanation is complicated, then reduce it to simple bullet-points and give those first, fleshing them out with detail afterward. The geek needs a simple overall picture to be presented, followed by the details. Following your presentation comes the Q&A.

Expect questions. Don’t expect many questions, but do expect them to go into details that had never occurred to you. Answer honestly, even if you do not know. In some environments, the geek may be able to find your answers for you. If not, do not forget the questions. Write them down if you cannot immediately commit them to memory.

Some research time may be required. If there is quiet time during the research phase of this contact, then social small-talk is acceptable. Neutral subjects are best, though it may not always be possible to know what is neutral. Mentioning the weather may result in an analysis of the cumulonimbus cloud formations, and the likelihood of stormy weather further East in an hour. You want to avoid deeper subjects that might be distracting, sticking to subjects which require little thought. This allows the geek to keep the conversation within the automated portions of their mindspace. A non-automated response requires a shift in concentration. Like a car, concentration is much easier to stop than to get back up to speed.

Geeks have compartmentalized brains, you see. There are three major portions that matter. There is the main processing center, where active thought occurs. There is the background processing center, where great ideas go to work while the main processing center is in “play” mode. Third is the automation center. The automation center of the brain handles everything that doesn’t require much thought. Most “normal people” use quite a bit of the automation center’s capacity for social interactions. Social interactions a highly-complex application, and true success requires that most of it be automated. A geek uses the automation center of the brain for other things, and processes more advanced social behavior in the main processing center. It’s a trade-off, but a geek never loses his keys.

At the end of the research time comes the conclusion of the contact. You will receive your answer. The answer may be complete. It may be a set of options, each with its own tests that you can perform to determine which is true. It may be a request for more information.

If you need to get more information, then you should be able to prove that you understand what information you are gathering. Say, “I need to get for you,:” followed by a concise list of the questions you need to answer. The geek may clarify. Take notes. This is a test.

Similarly, if you are given a range of options, you should be prepared to repeat those options along with the test that accompanies each option. I hope you wrote all this down.

Got your answer? Great! Now for the closer. You must close with yet another acknowledgment of the geek’s superiority. “I don’t know where I’d be without you,” in this context is considered to be high praise. Do not be offended if the response seems derisive, but we all know the geek is correct in saying, “You’d be screwed.”

Given the proper preparation and understanding of geek society, it is possible for “normal people” to navigate. I hope that this lesson has been helpful.

You Probably Should Avoid the Thong

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I know you say they’re comfortable, though I can’t understand how that can be true. I just can’t support your choice to wear a thong. It’s not that you don’t have a nice butt. It’s just that thongs only really work on about 5% of butts out there, and yours isn’t one of them. Yes, I know you think you look great in a thong. You don’t. That girl in the magazine looks GREAT in a thong, but not you. That girl in the magazine is one of a tiny minority whose butt looks so great in a thong that she makes a living looking good in a thong. You aren’t.

I realize that these may seem like harsh words. Lots of people could have told you this, but it was left to me. I hope, now that I’ve broken the ice, that more of your friends will tell you how your thong-wearing has negatively affected their lives. Perhaps now, they will be able to face their own great white whail-tail.

Oh, that reminds me. The whale-tail issue only really comes up because you’re wearing hip-hugger jeans and a shirt that shows your belly. You really should avoid both of those. They work together with the thong to create an illusion of a car’s dipstick, and nobody wants to check those levels.

Okay, that may have been too harsh. Maybe someone WOULD want to… I mean… it’s not that you…wait. Let’s arbitrarily assign a value to your appearance. Let’s say you’re a 5. The top shows what should hide. The bottom shows enough that I can determine sanitation habits with a flashlight. The thong doesn’t so much cover at all as much as it makes one wonder if there’s a flashlight on the end of that string. You’re losing points left and right. If you aren’t at least a 9 already, you end up a two so fast your head will spin.

Then there’s the belly piercing. Really? You thought that would look good? Again, this look works for some people. Most of them spend their days on “movie sets” and to be honest, any little piece of jewelry they can use… anyway, they’re not you. You’re not them. You don’t need the pornstar belly-ring, or for that matter the tongue-ring.

There’s pretty much only reason to get a tongue-piercing. It’s for the sexual gratification of someone else. If that’s what you want, that’s your choice. I’m not going to judge your lifestyle choice. They don’t look good, they make you talk funny, they can cause tooth damage, and… ick. I don’t mind judging whether I have negative physical reactions to the clickety-clack sounds when you speak. I still don’t really know who Ktkeetm Tktartdashtshtiant is.

Ick on that nose-piercing, by the way. It’s small, and tasteful, and rather well done considering some of your other choices. I’ve seen worse. Still, though, every time you’re near and I need to sneeze, my brain starts conjuring elaborate fountain effects in a most interesting shade of green.

The tattoo is tasteful as well. This one, not the one we saw when my friend had a flashlight in his pocket. I hope you’ll make the right decision about the stripper-tat you are considering.

In fact, I think you can save money on the stripper-tat if you’ll just make the right decision. The one decision that can truly improve your life. You’ll have better friends. You’ll have an improved love life. Opportunities previously closed to you will open. You will be better. Just make that one, key decision.

Lose the thong.

Why I dislike roadside deer

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My wife and I were on the way home from a delightful anniversary trip to Charlotte. I can’t tell you exactly which anniversary it was, because I’m male. I’m sure my wife could tell you exactly which anniversary it was, because she’s the wife and women seem to have a genetic predisposition to remembering anniversaries. I’m just glad to have a calendar app on my iPhone to tell me when it’s my anniversary so I can say it first.

Here I am telling you about why I didn’t remember which anniversary it was, when you’re asking a completely different question. Charlotte? You took an anniversary trip to Charlotte? Why? The simple reason we chose Charlotte as our anniversary destination was because it allowed us inexpensively spend our anniversary “not here.” Ah, the joys of an easily-entertained couple.

There were two routes we could take to get home from Charlotte. One was to take the interstate at high speed, then turn South on US-1 which provided a nice, wide path. The other option was to take a more direct route down mostly two-lane roads and smaller highways. The actual difference in time to drive the distance was about the same, but we would be driving at night so I chose the route least-likely to be lined with dozens upon dozens of suicidal deer. From stories I had heard from others, hitting a deer with your car can be a less-than-satisfying ordeal.

Most of the trip was uneventful. There was the occasional break at a gas station. It seems that both the wife and I have bladders of small children when on a trip, requiring regular trips lest she whine annoyingly every time the car hits a bump. I mean lest WE whine annoyingly every time the car hits a bump. Of course I do.

We stopped off for a late dinner at the Ryan’s Steak House in Cary, NC. Some of you may know this particular location from the great “Ryan’s Steak House Incident” story posted to USENET a few years back.

After dinner we continued South on US-1, with our bellies full of buffet deliciousness. It being dark already, I was not looking forward to the tendency toward sleepiness that sets in on long nighttime drives. My wife, let’s call her Shannon to protect the innocent, talked to me along the way to keep me alert. Those of you who know Shannon will know how hard this was for her, as she will sometimes go entire minutes without speaking.

Somewhere in the long, straight stretches of divided four-lane that is Chatham County US-1 I heard a noise from my wife that was a little odd, followed by words that I can only suppose were “What the Hell is THAT?” Simultaneously I saw, far in the distance, a grey form that was just entering the range of my high-beams. Since I was in a 65 mph zone, I thought it might be a good idea to slow down from my 75 mph speed for safety’s sake, and hit the brakes HARD.

As the grey form came closer both Shannon and I realized that it was a deer, and a nice-sized one at that. I had hit the brakes hard enough to stop quickly, but not so hard that we would lose traction and turn a potentially bad situation into a horrible one. My brain made some quick calculations while Shannon yelled something about the grey form being a deer and to not hit it. Since the deer was in the left-lane and I was in the right my brain thought it likely that we could avoid impact regardless of the fact that the car was going to stop approximately 10 feet beyond the deer.

The deer performed some calculations in its own brain. Knowing that a stationary car is much less likely to help it in its suicidal urges, the dumb sack of tasty meat took a flying leap at the last moment in front of the car.

When I say “in front of” I actually mean across the front of. We were in a 1991 Saturn, which had a rather low front end. Even standing still the deer would probably have gone over the hood, but jumping helped a bit. Shannon is still traumatized a bit by the sight of deer belly fur before the impact. Even at the relatively low-speed of an almost-stopped car, it wasn’t enjoyable.

The deer, not being all that bright, was unable to properly measure the jump for maximum suicidal efficiency and hit the front end of the car with its hindquarters. It’s body wrapped around the passenger side of the car, cracking a large chunk out of the plastic fender and slamming its head into the passenger-side front door creating a large hole there.

When I think of what was going through Shannon’s mind when a heavy, loud impact slammed into the door mere inches from her I try not to laugh, no matter how hard that is.

Having managed to create a traffic jam of one car, the deer scampered away quickly. Upon inspection of the car we found a large piece of car body plastic and a matching piece of deerskin in the fender-hole. This bothered me somewhat as the skin is what keeps the tasty meat in place on the deer. It also made me consider that the deer may have been less scampering away than running quickly yelling, “Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!”

After determining that the deer had only caused cosmetic damage, and that the car was still perfectly driveable, we continued our way down the highway, wondering if that cold air coming through Shannon’s door panels would ever stop.

Now, at this point I should explain what it is like to have just run into a deer in a head-on collision. It’s weird. No, that’s not right. Weird isn’t the correct word for the feeling one has in this situation. It’s freaking TERRIFYING! Almost all talk in the car had stopped. I drove along at about 58 mph, still in the 65mph zone, hunched over the steering wheel like a 4 foot tall old lady, clenching the wheel in white-knuckled hands. My eyes darted from side to side, examining every speck of not-dark at the sides of the road. My heart was beating a mile a minute, which is an entirely mismatched play on words. I’m sure you get the idea.

Fifteen minutes later we were in our home county, and I realized the exact nature of my stress. Somehow, having been driving for many years and only hitting my first deer, I was convinced that another was waiting to get me. I was actually afraid that another deer was out there, just waiting for my car to come along so it could jump out and get hit.

“Shannon,” I said, “I’m actually afraid that another deer is out there, just waiting for my car to come along so it can jump out and get hit.”

My wife, brilliant thinker that she is, responded, “Oh no. The chances against that are astronomical.”

Coming into town at around 10pm, still no other car in sight, I finally started to relax a bit and stop worrying about HOLY CRAP A DEER JUST RAN INTO THE CAR!

A deer had run out of the woods on the left side of the road, and in an amazing feat of geometric analysis and execution, slammed into the driver’s side of the car damaging two more body panels and breaking off the rear-view mirror.

I was, as you may expect, a little stressed by this latest occurrence.

The next bit was a bit of a blur, but it involved a stopped car in the middle of the lane on an empty two-lane road near town. The passenger seat contained a shivering, scared figure that had once been my wife. The driver’s door stood open and some strange man that may have been me was running in circles screaming expletives at the top of his lungs, asking every deer within the 20 mile radius that his voice could be heard if they all planned on hitting his car that night.

It was a bit surreal.

That night I told my father the story. His first question was, “Where’s the deer now?”

Tragedy is no excuse for passing up on tasty meat.

One Reason I Love Fox News “Red Eye” at 3am

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This is making the rounds because “Attack of the Show” featured it. I’ve been wanting exactly this clip, plus the “Homeless soccer fat chicks” comment for some time. I’ll have to settle for just the one, for now.

Genesis, Chapter 1 from the LOLCat Bible

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From the LOLCat Bible Translation Project
What’s an LOLCat? See I Can Has Cheezburger.
1 Oh hai. In teh beginnin Ceiling Cat maded teh skiez An da Urfs, but he did not eated dem.
2 Da Urfs no had shapez An haded dark face, An Ceiling Cat rode invisible bike over teh waterz.
3 At start, no has lyte. An Ceiling Cat sayz, i can haz lite? An lite wuz.4 An Ceiling Cat sawed teh lite, to seez stuffs, An splitted teh lite from dark but taht wuz ok cuz kittehs can see in teh dark An not tripz over nethin.5 An Ceiling Cat sayed light Day An dark no Day. It were FURST!!!1
6 An Ceiling Cat sayed, im in ur waterz makin a ceiling. But he no yet make a ur. An he maded a hole in teh Ceiling.7 An Ceiling Cat doed teh skiez with waterz down An waterz up. It happen.8 An Ceiling Cat sayed, i can has teh firmmint wich iz funny bibel naim 4 ceiling, so wuz teh twoth day.
9 An Ceiling Cat gotted all teh waterz in ur base, An Ceiling Cat hadz dry placez cuz kittehs DO NOT WANT get wet.10 An Ceiling Cat called no waterz urth and waters oshun. Iz good.
11 An Ceiling Cat sayed, DO WANT grass! so tehr wuz seedz An stufs, An fruitzors An vegbatels. An a Corm. It happen.12 An Ceiling Cat sawed that weedz ish good, so, letz there be weedz.13 An so teh threeth day jazzhands.
14 An Ceiling Cat sayed, i can has lightz in the skiez for splittin day An no day.15 It happen, lights everwear, like christmass, srsly.16 An Ceiling Cat doeth two grate lightz, teh most big for day, teh other for no day.17 An Ceiling Cat screw tehm on skiez, with big nails An stuff, to lite teh Urfs.18 An tehy rulez day An night. Ceiling Cat sawed. Iz good.19 An so teh furth day w00t.
20 An Ceiling Cat sayed, waterz bring me phishes, An burds, so kittehs can eat dem. But Ceiling Cat no eated dem.21 An Ceiling Cat maed big fishies An see monstrs, which wuz like big cows, except they no mood, An other stuffs dat mooves, An Ceiling Cat sawed iz good.22 An Ceiling Cat sed O hai, make bebehs kthx. An dont worry i wont watch u secksy, i not that kynd uf kitteh.23 An so teh…fith day. Ceiling Cat taek a wile 2 cawnt.
24 An Ceiling Cat sayed, i can has MOAR living stuff, mooes, An creepie tings, An otehr aminals. It happen so tehre.25 An Ceiling Cat doed moar living stuff, mooes, An creepies, An otehr animuls, An did not eated tehm.
26 An Ceiling Cat sayed, letz us do peeps like uz, becuz we ish teh qte, An let min p0wnz0r becuz tehy has can openers.
27 So Ceiling Cat createded teh peeps taht waz like him, can has can openers he maed tehm, min An womin wuz maeded, but he did not eated tehm.
28 An Ceiling Cat sed them O hai maek bebehs kthx, An p0wn teh waterz, no waterz An teh firmmint, An evry stufs.
29 An Ceiling Cat sayed, Beholdt, the Urfs, I has it, An I has not eated it.30 For evry createded stufs tehre are the fuudz, to the burdies, teh creepiez, An teh mooes, so tehre. It happen. Iz good.
31 An Ceiling Cat sayed, Beholdt, teh good enouf for releaze as version 0.8a. kthxbai.

Reality Follows the Dave Chappelle Show

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Meet Ron Stallworth, the black klansman.

“About 25 years ago, Ron Stallworth was asked to lead the Ku Klux Klan chapter in Colorado Springs.
Brian Nicholson, Deseret Morning NewsRon Stallworth carries his KKK membership card as a memento. Problem was, the outgoing Klan leader didn’t know that Stallworth is black.”

Note that this is not this black klansman, or this black klansman or this potential black klansman.

Lose the Beer Belly

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It was one of those funny commercial shows. You know the ones. The network decides to make an easy buck by making a whole hour-long show that is nothing but funny commercials. One commercial stuck in the minds of my wife and I for a few years, now, and I just located the video. Thanks, Google Video.

Blonde Joke

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It’s been a while since I’ve heard a blonde joke this good.

Letters Home from Terrorist Youth Camp

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Want a laugh? Read these letters home from kids at Terrorist Camp.

(The Other) Ogre Fisks Code Pink

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As some of you may know, I’m not the only Ogre in the blogosphere. You might say we have our own Ogresphere. Of course, I’m the ogre with a name. He’s just Ogre.
Anyway, Ogre had a bit of fun fisking Code Pink’s anti-war-toy flyer. It’s a hoot.
Yeah, I’m semi-anti-toy-gun myself. Instead of buy a kid a toy gun, why not buy them a REAL gun instead? After all, it’s hard to teach a kid to never point a gun at anyone unless you plan on killing them dead, while you hand them a harmless piece of plastic or wood. Give them a real gun, and they’ll understand WHY you never point it at anyone. At the same time, you get to teach them personal responsibility, firearm safety, personal safety, and self-control (not gun control).
I’d suggest a nice bolt-action .22 rifle as a starter weapon starting somewhere between age 8 and 12. At 13 you can move them up into the semi-automatic or a .420 shotgun. They’ll want to have some experience before they get their 12ga at 16 and their very own Glock 9mm at 18 or 21.

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