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Coming at the world from an unexpected angle, far too fast to stop.

Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You

Web bites Posted on 2010-11-08 17:15:55

See what it says up there on the right?

Don’t let me near a guitar when in company. Especially when there’s drinkies involved.

Now there’s proof of this. I’m the bloke with the guitar. The song’s in Swedish, but the tune we’re murdering is an old Kinks song (brought to you by way of the 4th best band from Lund).

And don’t believe the audience – they’re drunk enough to applaud a cat strolling down a keyboard.


Web bites Posted on 2010-05-20 11:45:46

When I was a student, the Department of Physics had exchange programs with the Uni of Sussex and the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. I went to Brighton, but I visited the people in Amsterdam. (This was when I was first introduced to Indonesian food. This has no bearing on today’s post, I just happen to remember the sensation on the taste buds.)

Only the week before, they had been visited by last year’s exchange students. They decided to go down to the local pub, and when Anders showed his face in the door – having first spent six months in A’dam as an exchange student, and then having returned home some nine months before this particular visit – the bartender immediately commented “You’ve been away”.

I’ve been away from this blog. Sorry. Life intervened.

In the meanwhile, I’ve managed to find what is possibly the most useless activity on the planet. I presume that my readers are familiar with the phenomenon of people dedicated to re-enacting various historical moments, usually having to do with warfare – the U.S. Civil War is very popular, as is, apparently, the Battle of Pearl Harbor. I’ve always considered this to be a pastime quite on a level with the ones I lauded in my post on useless things.

And now, there exists such a thing as the Cold War Re-enactment Society. If it gets more irrational than that, I’ve never heard about it.

Squeak, squeak

Web bites Posted on 2009-12-05 00:22:26

In the comment field of the current issue of the excellent Behler Blog (recommended, no, compulsory reading for anyone interested in creative writing), there is an interesting discussion going on: one side says “You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar,” while the other maintains that “The fly might prefer honey, but the squeaky wheel gets the grease”.

I’ve commented there, but I actually thought it deserved an entire blog post.

My Dad taught me to do business. The teaching consisted of telling me, in some detail and with pertinent examples, a handful of rules at various points in my life. And since this is what brought it up, I’ll start with

Dad’s Rule # 1: If you want things done for you, be nice.

One recent anecdote I have on the topic is about a co-worker of mine who lives no further from me than that he has the same recycling people. Only he has some sort of blood feud going on with them; last I heard anything he was on the phone yelling at them because they hadn’t picked up his garbage. Again. The very same people will, in case I have forgotten to put my bin out on the street as per regulations, wander into my yard, drag it out, empty it and put it back. This behaviour is practically banned by their trade union.

Reason? Well, I never yell at them, for one thing. Also, I started our relationship by leaving a box of chocolates out for them, and have turned this into a Christmas tradition. They’re being nice back.

Of course, being squeaky can have its advantages. Something I occasionally have to do at work is to send emails, very polite and pleasant ones, asking if the task I ordered has been finished yet. Eventually, the person on the other end will want me to stop, simply to reduce the number of emails that have to be read. But I absolutely don’t want my suppliers to associate me with anything unpleasant. If they do, they might simply say they’re too busy next time I ask.

(Oh, I could go somewhere else. To someone who is so desperate that they’ll take on the unpleasant clients. The reason they’re desperate, of course, is that they’re no good.)

Consider this the next time you have a complaint, for whatever reason. Many people spend their entire careers dreading phone calls, because they have a nasty tendency to be from annoyed people. Some people do very little all day except handle people who are angry with them for something they weren’t even involved in. (The staff at HMRC comes to mind – the IRS, in case you’re American. Whenever you feel the urge to yell at them, remember: they did not set the tax rates. They might even have voted for someone who wanted them lowered.)

If you instead start by praising their product or service, and then say that there was this one small thing you would like to have adjusted, chances are they’ll bend over backwards to help you.

The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Provided the driver lacked the foresight to bring a spare wheel.