Thunder Volcano

Boundless enthusiasm for something stupid

Archive for March 2012

A Life Lesson I Learn All Too Often

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Life Lesson #5: It is inadvisable to pick your nose with a Q-Tip.

Written by Baron Volcano

03/30/2012 at 10:31 pm

This is how I Picture All Office Jobs

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I used to work as the IT department for a small company*.  The work itself was largely unremarkable, but my boss – the owner of the company, who I’ll call Joe – was a bit of a character: calling him weird is an understatement on par with calling the Pacific Ocean “damp.”  Joe was a talker, but seemed to have little or no understanding of how social interaction is supposed to work: I usually described him as having unipolar mania combined with Asperger’s, and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if I was right**.

An estimated twenty to thirty percent of an average workday consisted of Joe talking at me and/or my coworkers.  And it was always the same conversation which would run through in detail every aspect of company operations, often excepting the parts we might have been interested in (for instance: he would continually mention by name people we’d never heard of, but would never explain who they were or how they were relevant to business.  One such person was named General Boinkin).  Any attempt at talking to him about something else (for instance, anything productive) was quickly derailed into this same speech that he made six times every day to whoever he could ensnare in his conversational trap.  Oh, and I usually telecommuted, so much of this was done via surprise phone calls or scheduled, daily, hours-long conference calls with no purpose.

Stranger still, he had a vanishingly small grasp of the written language.  Emails sent to him were clearly not read or understood in any capacity, and most emails from him were indecipherable gibberish (luckily, he would inevitably call immediately after sending an email and repeat everything he’d written).  There are two examples that really bring this point home.  First, the entire text of an email I received from him:

Baron,

I noticed you called.

Joseph

That may be the most coherent email I ever received from him, but the fact remains that it’s mind-bogglingly pointless.

Secondly, there was a paper that we needed to submit for a grant proposal.  He took my clear and concise one-page tech section and turned it into fifteen pages of gibberish and plagiarism, little of which related to what I had written or, for that matter, the subject of the grant.  I stopped reading his revisions (which he showed to me only after a nontrivial amount of badgering) when I got to this sentence: “During this phase we will the developer with the artist will ensure to develop graphical treatments for the environments and elements in which role-playing will take placed based on the detailed storyboards.”  And yes, that excerpt is fairly representative of the rest of the paper.  I began wondering if he actually knew how to read and/or write in English.    I’m still not sure.

Anyway, during his regular two-hour-long rants, he tended to say a lot of things that were extremely awkward, unintentionally (homo)sexual***, and/or hilariously nonsensical.  I spent a pretty big chunk of that time writing the funny parts in the margins of my notebook, and I’ve finally gotten around to typing them out.  I present to you my complete list (or at least all I could find), unedited, with little/no distinction made between spoken and email.  As always, names have been changed to make them sillier.  Also, I’ve included dates just for giggles, but mostly to show that there was apparently an eighteen-month gap where I stopped listening to anything he said whatsoever.
Note: some of these seem like they might just sound weird because they’re removed from context.  Rest assured, very few of these have any context that makes them any more logical.  Often, context makes them less logical.  Mostly he would take a semicoherent train of thought and turn it into a rant about green beans and Eskimos.

We can buy it by the drink. [I think this was referring to software?]
-6/16/06

If we get so many hands in the pie, the pie isn’t gonna be very good.
-6/8/07

Your efforts currently are to be charged to marketing.  Feminize yourself with the site.
-6/19/07

He’s gonna sell it to the government like snowcones to Eskimos.
-5/29/07

We cannot wait indefinably for an application that was intended to be completed months ago.
-6/25/07

I was hunting the buffalo while they were out coding.
-5/25/06

We’re delivering the Kool Aid.
-5/26/06

You don’t want to give away the carrots just yet.
-5/26/06

We’re gonna have to eat our own dog food here.
-5/26/06

We’re really opening our kimono on this one.
-5/26/06

Operational efficiency leads to one thing, it doesn’t necessarily you’ll be able to kill more chickens and sell them.
-5/26/06

We’re not gonna try to jump through our butts just to get everything up and running.
-5/26/06

You don’t want to be comparing a can of beans to a can of beans on the shelf.
-5/26/06

If we can be a mouse in support, that’s our objective.
-5/30/06

Let’s peel the banana one side at a time.
-6/2/06

I’m like Gumby. [my notes specify that this was said “for no apparent reason”]
-6/2/06

I blew out the demo by playing with the skins.
-6/8/06

We’ve steelproofed this thing so that things are in sync.
-6/27/07

These guys are secret squirrel.
-6/27/07

The market is there.  It’s hot for us right now.
-6/27/07

The next week, everybody’s gonna be humping in different directions.
-7/16/07

Arnie West has a psychology PhD in psychology.
-7/17/07

The course building is irrespectible of the conversion.
-6/13/06

It’s gonna be a tough road to tow.
-6/13/06

These are the two pieces of the magic sauce that we need to understand.
-6/15/06

I used to be a sniper.  I learned a lot about women that way.  [this was said to the woman setting up our retirement accounts]
-7/7/06

The other option is that they throw mud at the wall, then we tell them it’s the wrong color mud, then they throw some more up on the wall.
-7/23/07

We’ve got to hand jam it.
-6/25/06

I’m gonna put the monkey on them to put the pieces together.
-12/14/06

We gotta get him off the dime and on this thing.
-2/6/07

I’ll stand in a box if I have to… I’ll stand in a trash can if I have to, to get him to approve the courses.
-2/6/07

We’re gonna have to do some penetration analysis.
-2/6/07

We’re starting to flush things out.
-2/8/07

I’ve been on multiple contracts where it’s sand against sand every step of the way [grinds fists together]
-8/21/07

The can of green beans is the same on every shelf.
-8/30/07

You’d better get that back end running, ‘cuz hey – guys are asking for it.
-3/12/09

I shared the benefits with this recruiting company who recruits, and he really liked our package.
-3/24/09

We’re gonna have to start whippin’ it out.
-4/7/09

I think they’re good secret sauce people… we may not be secret sauce guys, but hey – we can deliver.
-4/21/09

I think the key is to get it up.
-4/21/09

I’m gonna ping him really hard.
-4/21/09

Tyrone’s probably been telling you I’ve been dumping a lot of load on him.
-11/19/09

CompuTex as a future tool has no future.
-1/22/10

We have to take what is in our heads and have produces that can be replicated and maintained.
-1/22/10

Epilogue: in reading through the list, I’m realizing there are a few things that didn’t get written down for one reason or another, often because I heard them so regularly I became desensitized.  For instance, sending out an email to multiple people was always referred to as “blastin’ it out.”  Contacting somebody was “pinging” them, but in at least one case, he had to “pound Doug” about something.  It’s a fine line when a pinging turns into a pounding, but he seemed to know it well.  And, though it is in my list once, it’s worth mentioning that the expression “hand jamming” was used with abundance (a lot of these were pretty common, actually, but hand jamming has to be my favorite).

*No, that’s not a typo.  For a period of time, I was the entire IT department.
**Years later, my brother Duke was talking about his med-school rotation on the psych ward and described a guy with mania.  If I hadn’t known better, I would swear he was talking about Joe.  Duke also made a point of adding “you can’t fake mania.”  Turns out I wasn’t all that far off.
***Not unlike Tobias from Arrested Development.  It was suggested a few times that he may have done some of this on purpose, but he showed less than zero knowledge of this thing we call “humor.”  It’s possible he’d heard of it, but even that is uncertain.

Extensively Researched Life Lessons

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Life Lesson #4: Any time you say “I’ve had eight beers and I’m not even drunk,” you’re at most half right.

Written by Baron Volcano

03/09/2012 at 9:43 pm

Long Story (5th Edition)

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So there’s a girl I’d been sort of seeing for a short while (i.e. about a week), and after the first time I slept with her she asks “did that make you like me more?”  I say “after” as in “almost immediately after.”
I was half asleep and more than half drunk, but I still managed to say what I feel is the only logical thing: “…What!?”
“I was just hoping that would make you like me more.”
So not only was she serious, she really wanted this to be true (I still can’t figure out which answer would be more depressing).  I tried to avoid the question, partly because I wanted to avoid the “you’re just saying yes because I want you to” trap, and partly because that’s insane.
“Oh my god, that didn’t make you like me less did it?”
Well, that tactic didn’t work.  At some point she also said that “this was a mistake.  We’re never doing this again.”  Well, I’ve heard that from girls before.  Luckily, I’ve had a lot of practice in the art of Mumbling and Then Falling Asleep, so I eventually made it through the night.

The next morning, she treated me to a rather lengthy list of my faults (none were sex-related, for what that’s worth).  Some highlights include:
-I’m stupid for getting tattoos based on liking what they look like.  Her tattoos have meaning.  One is based on a Modest Mouse song, another on a song by TV on the Radio.  These tattoos say something about her.  She did not appreciate my suggestion that what they say is “I like this song.”
-I don’t like ketchup.  This was honestly the biggest sticking point, and one that’s apparently insurmountable.
-“When I met you I thought you were so cool, but you’re really not cool.”  This one I agreed with.
-My driver’s license says my eyes are brown, when they are clearly hazel.
-It’s pathetic that I can’t get up before 2:30 PM without an alarm.
-I never smile (not true) which means that it’s (apparently) impossible for anybody (i.e. stupid people) to tell when I’m joking.
-My whole life is meaningless.

I don’t disagree with all of these, but it’s kind of a low blow when a 22 year old advertising major calls your life meaningless.  I thought about trying to steer that one towards existentialism but big words tend to make her head hurt (she once described herself as a “very punctual typist” and called me an asshole when I suggested that “punctual” may not have been the right word) and she was severely starting to wear on my reserves of tolerance for stupid people as it was.  Plus she uses the same argument tactic my roommate does when he’s drunk – forcefully repeat the same one or two stupid arguments until the other person stops caring.  She actually takes it a step further by continuing to make stupid arguments at somebody who has given up and doesn’t care.  This conversation also involved her telling me several times that she never wanted to see me again.  Every time she mentioned that, I just said “ok” and resumed wondering if she’d stop talking (answer: no).  (It’s worth mentioning here that I dealt with this the way I did because a) I was too sleepy and hungover to feel too strongly about anything, and 2) she’s pretty damn hot and if I told her to shut the fuck up she might have put her clothes back on.)

Now, a short backstory: I’d known this girl for like two weeks, tops.  I was introduced to her through a friend and she and I played an online Scrabble game that somehow ended with her inviting herself to my apartment to drink beer in my bedroom (follwed by some sort of “Was that sexual? Tee Hee.” comment).  The bedroom beer drinking was postponed in order to go drink at a terrible bar (which I had to drive to, so I didn’t have my normal defense mechanism of getting hammered and being an asshole).  At some point during the night she told me that I’m (and I paraphrase) “tolerable, but mostly because you have great hair.”  The next day she told me I’d get more compliments if I told people to touch me.  Note: this does not work.  Even if you specify that it’s your hair, you get weird looks.  I did get told that I have really soft hair, but I was told this by a dude so we’ll count that one as more unsettling than anything else.
Other notable events during that one week (in no particular order):
-She started a text-message conversation with “I miss your face.”  Comments of the “I miss you” variety were quite common, to the extent that I once got an “I miss you” text message while I was still in the elevator at her apartment building.
-She repeatedly grabbed me by the belt to make out with me in the toy department at Target.
-I was told “I want to hurt you.”  She was gnawing on my cheekbone at the time and sounded serious.
-She asked me several times “Isn’t it sad that our time together is so limited?” and/or “Will you miss me when I’m gone?”  These are both in reference to the fact that she’s leaving town after her (expected) graduation in May.  Considering that it’s February, that would make our “limited time together” roughly seven times as long as we’ve known each other.
-She got drunk and started sending me pictures of herself.  Not sexy ones, unless you are turned on by pictures of girls drinking (and I am).  On the plus side, she has a penchant for see-thru shirts.
-She started calling me by pet names (well, we had known each other for almost a week).
-The first time I saw her in person after being introduced to her, she showed up at my bar shitfaced then stared at me wide-eyed and speechless when I said hello and asked how her night went.
-On at least one occasion, she repeatedly told me I looked like a hobo.  This was, I believe, because I was wearing a plaid shirt – hobos being known for having very specific fashion sense and a strong affinity towards certain fabric patterns.  Though now that I think about it, it may be because I was wearing a hat.  Every time she saw me wearing a hat, she’d get genuinely confused and ask why I was wearing a hat.

Anyway, a day and a half after she claimed to never want to see me again, I received the following series of texts, which I didn’t find on my phone until I was at iHop at four AM (and in suitable mental condition to be eating late-nite shitty pancakes).  For context, it’s worth mentioning that these were sent at 1:30 AM on February 15th:
“2nd times a charm. Speaking of charm, you have none. Thanks for the happy v-day txt! Just kiddinggg because you never sent me one!”
[A picture message of several pills on somebody’s palm]
“Drugs on drugs on drugs.  Maybe it’ll work this time?”
[A picture of baby food]
“I even got you a v-day present.  I bet you feel like the absolute worst now, huh?”
“Or you can ignore me.  That also works.”

Needless to say, I was a tad confused.  There was slight context for a little of that, but not enough for me to be able to wrap my head around any of it.  But I’d resolved to see this out until it stopped being entertaining, so I had a responsibility.  This came into play when she invited herself to my apartment again later that week.  I showed up at her place circa 2 AM, as is my custom, and she asked “why are you here?  Did I call you?”  Just like Fight Club!  Except instead of the night ending in hours of weird sex, she kept telling me the same uninteresting story over and over and over and over and I think there was pizza.  Oh, also this is when she gave me my Valentine’s Day baby food.  She seemed really upset that I hadn’t eaten it by the time I left for work the next day so I told her I’d eat it at work (which, to my credit, I did do).

On the bright side, I get to see her again since she left her credit card and ID in my car somehow.  Well, I don’t know that her ID was left in my car since I found it under one of my windshield wipers a week later, but the credit card was definitely in there.

Written by Baron Volcano

03/03/2012 at 1:46 am