Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Gone Fishin'...I Wish

I didn't realize that it's been more than a week since my last post, so I figured I'd put up this sign. Been up to my eyeballs with work...will be back in a few days.

Badaboom Badabing...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

They Can't Take That Away From Me...

Our world has become so technical and complex that we often forget to give proper focus on simple everyday things that touch us, and we are sometimes unaware of how so-called advances are robbing us of our most basic freedoms.

Take, for example, the common bowel movement. Don't say "yuck"…or "disgusting"…or anything like that. This post is both factual and educational, so just keep quiet and read, and…to borrow a phrase from comedian Dom DeLouise…"hold it till the end." I shall do my best to keep the tone of this posting dignified, informative, and most of all…business-like, and to share with you the lesson that there is money in the mundane...sometimes at the expense of our most basic freedoms.

Now, back to the bowel movement, a common excretory event that most people experience on a generally daily basis…except for those poor souls who are, let me use a politically correct expression here, constipatedly challenged (okay, okay, so I made that up.) Those of us not afflicted with said malady enjoy endure experience this event in the privacy of our homes, in the workplace, in public restrooms, and even while traveling at 30,000 feet. For those who engage in said event in the workplace or in public restrooms...be forewarned...your bowel movement experience is about to be changed...forever.

You see, big brotherKimberly-Clark has invented an automatic toilet paper dispenser that will limit the issue of tissues. Put in non-technical jargon, this new device will dispense exactly five...count 'em...that's five...squares of toilet paper...exactly twenty inches of paper. You wave your hand and out they come.

The company conducted years of research and concluded that five standard squares of toilet tissue is optimal. I wonder what it was like to work in their test department...betcha they got their hands on all the data they could. Now, whenever I see the word optimal, I get suspicious. How did they define optimal? I'll bet they'll never tell...but, they can't fool ole Badabing with their corporate mumbo jumbo...so I'm giving you the straight poop spilling the beans here and now.

It all boils down to money, averages, and psychology...so pay attention.

Let's start with the money aspect. The bean counters at Kimberly-Clark hope that this new device will help them capture more of the $1 billion away-from-home toilet paper market. That's a lot of beans. How will it help them increase sales? That's a no brainer. They sell them to businesses, and the businesses can cut down on their toilet paper costs. As an example, let's assume a company spends $150 on toilet paper for its employee rest rooms each year. Actually, that figure is a drop in the bucket but it will illustrate the point. The new machines will dispense 20% less paper than the average arm pull, so the company's paper cost will be reduced by $30 per year. Since a basic machine costs $30 (the souped-up chrome-plated model sells for $55 and would probably be used in executive washrooms only), the company breaks even the first year and the future savings are even greater since replacing the batteries is the only maintenance required. Couple that with the ability to adjust the machine to dispense a mere four squares of tissue...a mere 16 inches...and you can see how the savings add up. Of course, the possible downside to this from the employees standpoint are grumblings about the "Toilet Police," but who the hell cares about employees anyway.

Oh yeah, and I'll be the people who sell the new gizmo throw in some motivational gimmicks as well. You know, like little placards that could be attached above the dispenser with motivating phrases like:

"Strive for Five," "Dump Poop...Not Paper," "Save More With Four," "Help Wipe Out High Costs," "Dump Once...Wave Once."

Ooh, and here's a neat little branding idea...right above the little window where you wave your hand they can put a label that says "Gimme Five." Hell, might introduce a whole new slang expression into corporate America just like Xerox did with the copier. You know, "I'm going to make a xerox of this." So maybe people will start to say, "Excuse me while I get five," instead of "Excuse me while I take a dump." Hey...it could happen.

Okay, let's move on to the averages. Their research has shown that the average American uses an arm's length pull of toilet paper for his or her average excretory experience. Now, my own calculations estimate that, at least for the average adult American male, an arm's length pull results in several feet of said tissue...on average. That's a lot of toilet paper...twice as much, in fact, as the average European uses (just thought I'd throw in that little factoid...and no, this doesn't mean that American arms are twice the length of European arms.) The marketing folks will try to sell these new devices based upon averages...and that normally works well from a marketing standpoint. But, you see, there's a problem designing to averages.

There's a little design secret I learned in engineering school...designs shouldn't be based soley around averages but around the variations that exist around averages...otherwise, things won't work when you have an unexpected (un-average) deviation from the average. For example, you don't design spacecraft using averages. Sound a bit theoretical? Okay, let me give you a "hands-on" toilet paper example. I don't know about you, but sometimes one pull just ain't enough for me...it really depends on...well, you get the point. In my own case, I'm probably a two-pull guy every time, and sometimes even go for a third and (heaven forbid I had some spicy chili) occasionally a fourth yank. This makes their device problematic for me, because my average pull would be four feet (not factoring in the variances), which is a huge deviation from a mere 20 inches...and my arms aren't even that long. Okay, okay, I'll stop with the math already...before I get into Beta distributions, bell-shaped curves, confidence intervals, and standard deviations around the norm. Suffice it to say that I have a "length" issue with their device. (Hmmm...ya' think there might be a pill for that?)

So much for averages, now let's talk about psychology, because this is the key to making the contraption feasible. You may be thinking "what's the big deal...someone could just wave their hand as many times as they want...and get as much paper as they want." See, I knew you were thinking that...and if you weren't you were either still reeling from the mathematics discussion or you haven't had your coffee yet this morning. Well guess what? Kimberly-Clark did research on that too. Rather than telling you, in my own words, what they found, let me share with you a quote from the guy who was in charge of the project.

Richard Thorne, who directs the company's washroom business explained "Most people will take the amount given." Then he went on to add "People generally in life will take what you give them."

How does that make you feel?

Well, I for one won't stand for it...I'm gonna' wave my friggin' hand until I get five feet of paper each time...that includes my normal average plus the average variation around the average. Ha! Take that you mercenary-minded corporate maggots. No sir, I want my toilet paper...they can't take that away from me.

I wonder what kind of bonus that executive guy is going to get?

Never satisfied to rest on his laurels, he admits the company won't truly achieve a "touchless" bathroom until it develops a toilet that does the dirty work for you.

"And that," he says, "is going to be interesting."

Yeah, I bet it'll make great dinner table conversation.

See...I told you this post was going to be informative. In case you'd like to read more about how there is money in the mundane, you might want to check out these ideas...which have been patented:

  • US Patent #6401264: A toilet seat comfort device for preventing the heat transfer from a person sitting on a toilet seat to the toilet seat
  • US Patent #5884345: A sanitary device for washing private parts of a person sitting on a toilet bowl

Just remember...the job's not over until the paperwork is done!!

Badaboom Badabing...

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Beauty And The Beer

Everyone's heard the phrase "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."

But...it's also directly proportional to the amount of beer one consumes.

Believe me...I can personally vouch for this :-)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Taste Like Chicken?

Well, my travels over the last few weeks have been rather uneventful...this little tidbit is about the most exciting thing that happened.

Two weeks ago I was in a suburb of Chicago. When I'm in this particular area I like to go to a restaurant called Tuscany where they serve one of my very favorite dishes...grilled octopus.

Now...stop before you start...no noises or making faces allowed...fuggedaboud' it...just pay attention.

As usual I sat at the bar. It was fairly empty, only about five people were there in total. I ordered a glass of wine, and when the bartender served it I ordered my dish...in Italian. In case you're wondering, polpo is the Italian word for octopus. It's pronounced pretty much the way it looks, but the 'pol' part sounds more like 'pole.'

The two women sitting to my right looked at me a little strangely. One of them asked me, in a very raspy voice, "What's that? It sounds really weird."

I was tempted to tell her "poo poo" but, with great discipline, managed to resist. Instead, I just said "polpo" in my best Italian accent.

"What's that?" the other one asked.

"It's very delicious. Very hard to find in many restaurants," was my answer.

"But, what is it?" the first one rasped again.

"I'm going to make you guess...after you see it," I replied with a smile.

Now, at this restaurant they give you the option of having the octopus served whole or cut up. I usually have them cut it up for me...so...as the bartender approached, dish in hand, I made a cutting motion with my air knife. He nodded, looked for a knife, and began cutting my octopus into bitesized pieces.

That particular octopus was particularly tough, because it looked like the bartender was sawing wood. This caught the attention of the two women who again asked what the dish was. I repeated that they would have to guess, then, watching the bartender still working away, added "If he breaks into a sweat or takes out a chain saw, I'm going to send it back and have them cook another one."

This restaurant serves the octopus as a salad, drizzled with a little balsamic vinegar and olive oil, some field greens and a fresh lemon on the side. When it's cut up into little pieces it's hard to tell what's really in the dish...unless you know in advance.

The bartender ultimately served me and the two women peered over at my dish. With dramatic flair I took a forkful and made a satisfying "Hmmmm...good" sound as I looked towards the women.

"What is it?" one of them inquired once again.

"Can you guess?"

"No idea," the raspy one said.

"I know it's not chicken," the other one astutely observed.

"Okay, I'll let you off the hook. It's octopus," I replied.

They went from curious to horrified in a heartbeat.

"Would you like a taste?" I offered.

"Ewwwwwww," they said in unison, looking like they were about to upchuck their last meal.

For a brief moment I considered betting them a round of drinks if I could guess their next question, which I thought would be "What does it taste like?"

However, as I took a second mouthful and made more yum yum sounds, the expressions on their faces were saying "How on earth can you eat that stuff?" so I decided against the wager.

Instead, I just replied "And, no...it doesn't taste like chicken."

"Ewwwwwww, that's gross," they echoed in unison.

Oh yeah...they left shortly after I took my third bite?

Now, just in case you're wondering what octopus looks like when it's cooked, here ya' go...

octopus...yum, yum, yum

Looks kinda' like a starfish...don't ya' think.

Badaboom Badabing....

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Naked Cowboy

The Sheriff in a small town walks out in the street and sees a blonde cowboy coming down the walk with nothing on but his cowboy hat, gun and his boots, so he arrests him for indecent exposure. As he is locking him up, he asks "Why in the world are you dressed like this?"

The cowboy says "Well it's like this Sheriff... I was in the bar down the road and this pretty little red head asks me to go out to her motor home with her... so I did."

"Then what?" asked the sheriff.

"Well, we go inside and she pulls off her top and asks me to pull off my shirt... so I did."

"Then what?" the sheriff asks again.

"Then she pulls off her skirt and asks me to pull off my pants... so I did."

"And then what?" the sheriff asks a third time.

"Then she pulls off her panties and asks me to pull off my shorts... so I did."

"And?" the sheriff urges him to continue.

"And then she gets on the bed and looks at me kind of sexy and says, 'Now go to town cowboy'... And here I am."

Monday, August 06, 2007

Finally...an answer!!

A chicken and an egg are lying in bed. The chicken is leaning against a pillow, smoking a cigarette, with a satisfied smile on his face.

The chicken takes a puff of his cigarette and asks the egg, "Was that good for you, baby?"

The egg, looking a bit pissed off, rolls over, and says, "Well, I guess we finally answered THAT question."

Friday, August 03, 2007

A Thoughtful Gift

It's Friday afternoon and I'm burned out from working so hard this week. I thought a little humor might be in order...

Four brothers left home for college. They became successful doctors and lawyers and prospered. Some years later, they chatted after having dinner together. They discussed the holiday gifts that they were able to give to their elderly mother who lived far away in another city.

The first said, "I had a big house built for Mama."

The second said, "I had a hundred thousand dollar theater built in the house."

The third said, "I had my Mercedes dealer deliver her an SL600."

The fourth said, "Listen to this. You know how Mama loved reading the Bible and you know she can't read it anymore because she can't see very well. I met this priest who told me about a parrot that can recite the entire Bible. It took twenty priests 12 years to teach him. I had to pledge to contribute $100,000 a year for twenty years to the church, but it was worth it. Mama just has to name the chapter and verse and the parrot will recite it."

The other brothers were impressed.

After the holidays Mom sent out her Thank You notes.

She wrote: "Milton, the house you built is so huge. I live in only one room,
but I have to clean the whole house. Thanks anyway."

"Marvin, I am too old to travel. I stay home, I have my groceries delivered, so I never use the Mercedes. The thought was good. Thanks."

"Michael, you give me an expensive theater with Dolby sound, it could hold 50 people, but all my friends are dead, I've lost my hearing and I'm nearly blind. I'll never use it. Thank you for the gesture just the same."

"Dearest Melvin, you were the only son to have the good sense to give a little thought to your gift. The chicken was delicious. Thank you."