Looking Back at My Career; What I Would Tell My 21 Year-Old Self? Some Office Humor

Time Travel

I am early retiring in two months or so.  Stress “early.” As I prepare for this, I started to contemplate my “career.”  In doing so I started to wonder what lessons I have learned.  If I had Doc’s Delorean, what might I go back and tell my 21 year-old self about what I have come to grips with.  The following is my suggested list:

Question all corporate communications you receive.  When they say they are improving something, it is usually to the company’s advantage, not yours. Often times they hide their true intent in the last two paragraph.  Be suspicious and read between the lines.

  • Don’t work a single hour of overtime.  It doesn’t help your career.  A case can be made that it works against you if you refuse to do it – but screw that.  Companies you will work for will not reward you one time for putting in those extra hours.  No one gets promoted for working long hours. They don’t increase your annual raise because you worked longer than your peers.
  • Rebranding or renaming something is not the same as fixing something. People will try and blur these things together.  Don’t fall for that crap.
  • No one cares that you are bestselling author or have won many national writing awards. They ALL believe they can write better than you.  Some will have the ball-sack to tell you that. Smile at their ignorance rather than point it out.
  • Never sweat over budgets.  No one you know will ever be fired or even reprimanded for breaking their budget.
  • You cannot fix a manager that is an asshat.  Don’t waste your effort.  Likewise you cannot easily replace one that is a brilliant genius.
  • Any time a leader tells you, “This is not about a destination, it’s about the journey,” they are lying.  A journey without a destination is just aimless wandering.  None of the “journeys” you are forced upon is worth undertaking.  Remember playing Oregon Trail as a kid?  Yeah, that was a journey too.
  • Your trust will be betrayed many times and sometimes with evil intent.  Believe in your gut instincts about people. Ninety-five percent of the time, your gut is right.
  • Company sponsored competition is always designed to make you work harder, longer, or faster.  The reward is never worth the effort.  Don’t get caught up in the moment.
  • You will spend part of your career being reactive. It is far better to be proactive.  Learn the difference and put your effort into proactive activities.
  • Performance management systems generally don’t measure performance. Feel free to not sign any performance review you don’t agree with.  They can’t make you do it…and that will frustrate them to no end.
  • Job titles and rank have nothing to do with brains or common sense.
  • Always pack an emergency backup pair of underwear and socks for every business trip. You will thank me for this.
  • The sooner you learn what shit to put up with and what shit to ignore, the better your life will be.
  • You will be promoted inconsistently, bizarrely, and rarely.  You will learn that promotion is based on whose coattails you choose to ride rather than competency.
  • You will see a multitude of morons promoted and advanced over you.  Don’t worry.  Most of them are exposed for the frauds that they really are.  Be patient.
  • When you speak out against unethical or possibly illegal activities, don’t be naïve…there will be forms of retribution.  At one point, it will cost you your job – at another it will nearly cost you your sanity. Speak out anyway…because it is the right thing to do.
  • Focus on the big things that earn you the most money or have the most impact on your life. Screw the little shit.
  • The majority of the teams you will work on will let you down, leaving you to do a lot of grunt work. Apparently there are people who work very hard in their careers at not working.
  • Surround yourself with funny people. Most of the humorous people tend to be the smarter ones – so it is a win-win.
  • You will be called upon to lay people off many times. You will hate it.  You will save some people’s careers along the way and at least if you are involved, most of the painful discussions are being handled professionally.  It is small solace.
  • The people assigned to “Special projects” aren’t there because they are geniuses, they are there because of their abysmal failures.
  • People will do things that directly impact your career (without even talking to you) then have the balls to tell you that “You own your own career.”  Don’t try and point out the irony, they won’t listen and don’t care.
  • Your creativity will be constantly suppressed by people who hide behind policies, processes, and their own petty insecurities.
  • The airlines are always lying to you about the delays and re-bookings. ALWAYS.
  • When you point out problems, they often get assigned to you.  It sucks, but be prepared for it.
  • No one hired in from J P Morgan will ever dazzle you.  In fact, quite the opposite.
  • CIO’s come and go…usually every 4-5 years.  Mix up a stiff drink and sit back and watch their inevitable, often spectacular downfalls.
  • Not one bit of mandatory learning you will be forced to endure will change any aspect of your professional career.  Also, no person has ever been fired for not taking mandatory learning…so the threats are meaningless.
  • Avoid travel to Newark NJ between 1997-Present Day.  You will spend more time waiting for planes that will never take off/land or being forced to rent cars to drive home than you will spend in the meetings you went there for.  Don’t’ even get me started on the smell of that airport.
  • Never volunteer to take part in any technology pilot.  They will mess up your ability to work – for weeks.  Just say no. In fact, just don’t volunteer. I am hard-pressed to remember raising my hand for additional work where it didn’t bite me in the ass.
  • Some people you meet love fighting fires so much they are willing to set them.
  • People are not promoted to the level of their own incompetence.  Hell, incompetence is in abundance.  They are promoted to the level where they can inflict the most damage on the organization and its people.  I call this “The Pardoe Principle.”
  • Do not let someone else’s stupidity drive your actions or decisions.
  • People are laid off inconsistently, randomly, and far too often. Maintain connections to your friends, regardless of where they end up.
  • Keep your solutions simple . Almost every crisis you will face in your career can be solved with something simple.  Simple doesn’t mean easy.
  • If everyone around you is panicking, don’t join them.
  • You will encounter people that will take credit for your work.  Treat it as the utter and inevitable betrayal that it is. Feel free to confront the bastard/bitch that does it.  It won’t change anything but watching them squirm for a moment is the best you can hope for. None will ever own up to their crime.
  • Not a single performance management system you will work with will actually improve your career options. Knowing that, give them all of the attention they deserve.  It is, at best, a compliance exercise.
  • No matter how much they cut the budget, senior leaders will always have money to travel around the globe and criticize us for our spending habits. Oddly enough, some in your career will do both at the same time.
  • Don’t let some butt-munch tell you that humor has no place at work.  Humor eases pain, and work generates more mental anguish and agony than anything else in life.
  • People are listening to what you say, even when you wish they wouldn’t.
  • When you know someone is breaking the rules, tell them, then document the hell out of what she does.
  • Every promise you get for future promotion is a blatant lie…period. Getting it in writing will mean nothing.
  • No survey you are required to take at work will ever change anything.  When leaders get the results, they will find ways to question the validity of the data rather than rolling up their sleeves and actually making changes.
  • You will be the only person in your entire career that will show up for a meeting on-time.  Just cope with it.
  • Trust no one in a technology organization who cannot use technology.
  • Fear of litigation drives more decisions and costs more money than actual litigation.
  • The pay gap between the sexes is not as important as the gap between what morons are paid and what geniuses are.  That’s a REAL problem area. Morons make a lot more money.
  • You don’t have to make excuses for doing the right thing.
  • You will not realize the good years until you are in the bad years so make the most of whatever you are doing now.
  • Our competition is as screwed up as us, if not more.
  • Only attend company-sponsored events after work that you want to attend.  If you are going because you feel you have to be there; don’t go.
  • Meaningful change has to happen at the top level of the organization first and foremost.  Far too often you will be told you have to change, but in reality, the problem is way above you.
  • No matter what, you will survive and somehow end up better off.  It never seems like it at the time, but you do.

Wastes of Corporate Time and Money

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Over the holiday break, I started to think about work.  It happens to all of us.  I started to think about all of the things we do in the world of the Corporate Overlords that are wasteful – both in terms of time and money.  We do many of these, “because we always have.” We often don’t think about or even question the usefulness of the process.

So here is my list of things that are utter wastes of time and effort:

Year-End Department Reviews and Recaps.  Every company does this.  “What did we accomplish over the last year?” Hours are wasted putting together a reminder that management is claiming credit for all of the hard work that you do.  We all know what we accomplished and it is embarrassing that we have to document it for our leadership.  Way to motivate!

Defining What Services Your Team Delivers.  “We need to catalog all of the services we provide.”  If your team has to invest time detailing what services you deliver, then your team is not really needed.  Talk about an exercise in navel gazing.

Company Mandated Fun. Company picnics, happy hours, team bowling, etc.  It is bad enough that I have to go to work every day for 9-10+ hours, but for the company to expect me to show up after work…well, that is douchebaggery.

Regular Status Reports or Meetings.  Preparing status reports is useful if you need decisions to be made or if there are issues that need to be addressed.  Otherwise these are pointless cost wasting efforts. I include in this RAID meetings where the status of the risks never changes.

Annual Reviews Where the Manager/Counselor Cannot Influence Raises or Promotions.  Organizations love to keep salary information secret, because if we knew what people were getting paid it would cause rioting in the streets.  If you can’t tell me how I am compared against my peers and how that impacts my career and money; why do we need to talk?

Town Hall Meetings Just For the Sake of Having Them.  “We didn’t have a lot to tell you, but it’s been a while since we shoved PowerPoint slides down your throat.” Some managers mistake having these meetings as “leading.” Let me help you, it is not.

Rebranding (anything).  Rebranding rarely solves problems. Calling something by a new name does not fix any underlying problems that exist.  In fact, most things tagged with the word, “branding” are mislabeled and misunderstood. If anything, it adds to the confusion.

Communications Reviews. Nothing defines time-wasting like someone who sends around a message or email for review and input.  By the time you get eight people to contribute to anything, it is diluted and usually much longer than necessary.  No one has ever been fired because of a lack of proper sentence structure…just send the damn message.

Enforcing Company PowerPoint Standards. This screams “Hi, we’re here to stifle creativity!”  Companies like to box in innovation by saying, “Your PowerPoint decks have to adhere to our dull, boring, bland, and emotionless standards.  PowerPoint standards are pointless monotony in digital form. Yes, I understand that it is all about the company brand.  But you are also telling your customers that you don’t flex enough to demonstrate creativity.

Webcasts or Meetings With Live Audiences and Clearly Staged Questions.  We have all been there, when someone gets up and is clearly reading a prepared question. Save me some time – write that stuff down and email it to me.  Or better yet, don’t!

Timesheets for Internal Functions/Teams.  Timesheets are the bane of business.  I actually worked in one place that had a charge code for the time used to fill out timesheets.  Back office operations don’t need this.  We are not billable.  Our utilization is irrelevant for billing purposes. Having administrative activities fill out time sheets is an utter waste of time and effort.

Eighty-Percent of Live Meetings.  There are times, rarely, when a face-to-face meeting is needed.  Usually it is not.  More often than not these meetings are held so that people can rack up their frequent flyer/hotel points.

Creating Mission Statements.  I dedicated an entire blog post on this one.  Humorous Mission Statements ‘Nuff said.

Learning With Required Pass/Fail Tests. This does NOT prove that you understand the content.  It only proves that you have passed the test.  It doesn’t drive a bit of behavior.  And who was the moron that thought that 80% was a passing level?

Employee Satisfaction Surveys.  I am all in favor of doing surveys, if you intend to take the data and do something with it.  I took one for years where the results clearly pointed to issues with leadership. The actions that were taken were to educate us, the staff, because clearly we didn’t realize how awesome our leadership was.  The action that should have been taken was to fire some of those managers (or break their kneecaps, I’m pretty flexible here.) When they saw the results, most leaders spent their time either trying to track down who gave the negative feedback or to argue why the data was invalid.  “We were in the middle of reorganizing…so you can disregard the negative stuff.”  Morons.

Company Dress Codes.  I remember when the firm I work for allowed blue jeans on Fridays (only in the summer).  They called them dungarees.  Seriously.  Wow, talk about dating yourself!  Most offices, in a vain attempt to appear more hip to the millennials, have pretty much ignored dress codes…but for some reason keep them up to date.  It’s a pointless exercise at best – a wasteful one at worst.

Meaningless Compliance Exercises.  Annually you must read the code of conduct, then click on five buttons to acknowledge that you will follow it.  Nothing says trust like a forced reading assignment.  It also does not assure compliance, only that you acknowledged you read the material.  It’s akin to clicking on a software licensing agreement.  We all do it, but do any of us sit and read that stuff word-for-word?

Videos About Senior Leaders.  Look, if your ego is so big that you have to order videos created about how great you are, well, you’re a douchebag.

Providing Feedback For The Sake of Providing Feedback. Most feedback we get in the world of the Corporate Overlords is fluff…meaningless praise. People don’t want to give critical feedback because it upsets people and requires uncomfortable follow-up discussions and usually a dab of retribution.  Forced feedback accomplishes little.

Dashboards For The Sake of Having a Dashboard. If it doesn’t drive decisions, actions, or raise concerns…it is a waste of effort and time. The more graphic intensive it is, usually the more wasteful.  Can we only produce these monstrosities when there is a problem looming?

Meetings That Could Have Been Emails Instead. I traveled an hour and a half to attend a meeting that lasted 20 minutes.  That could have been covered in a two sentence email.  A lot of meetings are utter wastes of time.

Every Self-Help Diagnostic Tool or Bot Ever Written.  Memories of Microsoft’s talking paperback haunt my dreams.  Does this feel familar?  “Did this answer your question?”  “No”  “Why didn’t it? (Provide response in this box).  “Because it didn’t have the answer.”  “How would you rate this response?  “Do you have something below one star?”  I get it, robotics – automation.  It’s a cost cutting move. Write a bot, lay someone off.  I have yet to encounter a self-help tool that actually helped or provided a meaningful answer.

People Presenting Information in a Meeting by Reading to You The Slide They Are Showing.  “It may shock you Veronica, but I can actually read on my own.  I have been for years!”  If all you are doing is reading, you should not have been allowed to schedule a meeting.

Working Through Lunch. “I’ve ordered in food so we can work through lunch.”  “All that proves is that you are an asshat.  Oh, and how did you know what I wanted to eat?  Jackass.”  Most people can barely do one thing at a time well.  Eating and working – generally is non-productive. Why not let everyone step out for a half-an-hour to eat?  Is your productivity gain really worth that rubber-chicken-salad-sandwich-wrap’s cost? Also, I don’t want to watch other people eat – especially coworkers.

Any Trophy, Plaque, or Award and The Cost to Present/Ship Them.  The time for me to get awards was back in high school.  I have a box in my basement filled with hunks of plastic thanking and congratulating me on stuff that I have done or accomplished at work.  They mean so much to me I stuff them in a box. I swear, I will burn them one day.

Exit Interviews.  Seriously, has HR ever taken tangible action based on exit interviews?  These are designed for one thing – to ferret out possible lawsuits as an employee leaves – period.  Think about it, at that stage, it’s a bit late for action, isn’t it?

So what have I missed?  Please add in the comments.  Oh, and check out my funny book on work – Business Rules.

Office Humor – Corporate Training Classes That Should Exist

Training

I was recently looking for a learning course at work and was overwhelmed by all of the options.  As I scrolled through the titles, I realized that no one was writing courses designed for the real world.  Learning content seemed to me to be written for a perfect organization rather than the highly chaotic and disruptive places where many people work (not me of course, my company is perfect…wink wink.)

So I took at stab at putting together some titles that I think could and should be created for those of us slaving under the oppression of the Corporate Overlords.  Enjoy!

How to Not Be a Douchebag.  Includes techniques for not betraying the confidence of those working for you.  Purging your inherent douchebaggery is possible in three easy lessons.

Advanced Asskissing and Bootlicking.  Sure, everyone knows the basics.  This class will help you kick things up to the next level in terms of burying your nose in the ass-crack of upper leadership.

The Art of Stealing Credit For Others Work.  Work happens all around you.  How can you take advantage of that?  This class helps you tactfully imply that the successes others are doing are because of your divine influence.

Using Voodoo On Your Coworkers. There’s more to it than sticking pins in dolls, it is a lifestyle  choice.

Intermediate Stealing of Office Supplies. Anyone can take a stapler or a stack of sticky notes.  It takes real skill to dismantle an office chair and smuggle it out without anyone noticing.  Welcome to the world of Intermediate theft!

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Waffling for Mid-Level Managers.  Flip-flopping on decisions and direction is less of a managerial style and more of an artform.  This class will give you hands-on experience in not committing.

Teams – Crushing Them Isn’t Always The Answer.  Sure, stomping on the soul of your team seems like a source of entertainment – but it isn’t necessary.

Time Mismanagement.  Anyone can triple book their calendar, this class takes this to the next level.  Learn how to completely ignore the space time continuum in your managerial direction and decisions.

Meetings – You Too Can Start On Time! Starting a meeting on-time is respectful of those who show up and demonstrates good organizational skills.  In six easy lessons, you will learn how to read a clock, connect to a meeting (or just show up), start the meeting, read an agenda, and even end on time!

Reorganizations – You Can’t Be Reorganized if You Were Never Organized In the First Place.  When you reorganize, you are telling the team that the problems they faced were because of how they were restructured.  When you reorganize 5-12 times, you are telling them that the problem is you

Resisting the Urge to Micromanage…You Aren’t as Good as You Think You Are.  I get it, you have an urge to tell people how to do their jobs…but in reality, you should be telling them what you want them to do, not how to do it.

Micromanagement

Success! It DOES exist and you can measure it.   It may be hard to believe, but you CAN actually do things right.  I know, it surprised me too.  This course will help you know success when you see it, and track it.

Microsoft Outlook – How to Use the Scheduling Assistance Function.  As shocking as it seems, it is possible to schedule meetings that don’t conflict with others.  You will amaze other managers with this skill!

How to Not Use Reply All – Not Everyone Gives a Shit What You Think.  As shocking as it seems, using Reply All is not mandatory nor is anyone fooled into thinking that you are actually contributing when you click on it.

Using Your Town Hall Meeting To Hypnotize Your Teams.  You’re already droning on and on, this allows you to leverage this to get them to do more work, cluck like a chicken, whatever…

Doing What Your Commit To.  Saying it and doing it are, brace yourself, two different things.  This course exposes leaders to a new trend in business, actually delivering.  Learn how to avoid pointless and mind-numbing delays.

Creatively Abusing The Company’s Sick Time Policy.  Here’s 80 hours of time you should be taking full advantage of.  Learn that with Millennials in the workplace, you can claim “Mental Health Days” as sick time, and other tricks to buy yourself two weeks of rest.

Making Someone Else Accountable For Your Deliverables.  Why should you bear the burden of all that work?  This course will help you dump your workload onto others while still being able to claim credit for it.

How to Not Schedule Meetings During Employee Vacations of Outside of Normal Working Hours.  You do know we don’t work at 8pm at night, right?  This leadership-level course is designed to help managers understand what a typical working day is and how to tell if one of your invitees is on paid holiday!

Legally Threatening Your Staff.  Sometimes they just need a boot to the ass, don’t ya think? If you do that, you find yourself with HR.  There are a myriad of ways to threaten your staff that are legal though…let us teach you.

Believe it or Not It is Legal to  Present Without PowerPoint. You too can do a presentation without reading what you put on a slide.  This “innovative” approach to presentations focuses on the story you want to tell and the facts, rather than your insipid attempts at graphics.

Creating the Illusion of Busyness.  You don’t always have to be busy to look busy.  These simple techniques will make you look overloaded with minimal effort.

Shutting Off Your Phone – It’s Not Just For Vacations Anymore.  We get it, you want to create the illusion you are busy by coming to the meeting and being on your phone sending texts.  No one is buying it.  This class will show you where the off-switch is and how to use it.

Proving You Are Smarter Than Your Colleague.  It’s not enough to be smart, sometimes you need to rub their noses in it and prove it.  This class includes the effective, “Surround yourself with idiots,” or SYWI technique to ensure you can be the smartest one on the call or in the room.  These time-tested approaches will guarantee that no one will call you a dumb-ass – you’ll always be a smart one!

If you like these, check out my book, Business Rules, A Cynic’s Guidebook to the Corporate Overlords.

Office Humor – A Typical Day At Work

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I am always looking at ways to explore the culture of work and stretch my writing skills.  As such, I give you a typical day at work.  Now, this isn’t necessarily about me or the company I work for, but written to apply to anyone in any corp.  So plow on, share, and enjoy…

6:15am – Wake up and get ready for work.  Looking in the mirror, I ask, “Where did all of that gray hair come from?”  Oh, wait, that’s right…MY JOB!

6:45am – I work at home, so with no commute, I feel guilted into starting early.  People that work at home know exactly what I mean, that ever-present fear that someone will think you are goofing off if you are not online and available 9-10 hours a day.  I go downstairs to my desk and power up my PC.  It begins an update that I had not anticipated.  Sigh.

6:55am – Update finishes with a reboot.  Of course it does.  I go and get a life-affirming glass of Diet Mountain Dew (I don’t drink coffee)

6:59am – I fire up email.  Holy shitballs…where did all of these messages come from?  My favorite comes from a colleague in the UK.  The sent a message four hours earlier – now he is demanding for an update.  Apparently, ‘Well, I was asleep when you sent it, Dillweed…” is not the appropriate response.  Duly noted for future reference.

7:26am – Successfully finish deleting completely irrelevant emails that were sent to me by vendors who have the delusion that I make purchasing decisions in our company.  Silly vendors.

7:35am – Start reviewing and replying to those emails that are not part of some mind-numbing string of messages.

8:59am – Join first meeting of the day.  I notice I’m the only one on the call at the designated start time.  I check my calendar.  Where in the hell are the other 13 people? Has the call been cancelled? Immediately I think I’ve made a mistake.  Then I remember the people I work with.

9:12am – The meeting actually starts with eight people in attendance. The key decision maker is not on the call.  So why are we here?

9:13am – Bob pings me in Skype.  ‘I can’t join the call, can you pull me in?”  Suddenly I am tech support for this call.  Fucking Skype!  I suck Bob into the call.  Why am I being punished?

skype

9:18am – We pause the meeting to bring the key decision maker that just joined the call up to that point.  What an asshat.

9:50am – I ask “So what have we decided?  What are our action items?”  Someone in the meeting suggests we have another meeting to discuss these.  A tiny bit of my soul dies.  Sadly, three others on the call agree.

9:59am – I join my second meeting of the day.

9:10am – The meeting starts because a handful of people apparently can’t tell time. You see the trend here, right?

9:14am – Someone’s dog is barking in the background on the call.  So far the dog makes the most brilliant contribution to the call thus far.

9:18am – The PowerPoint being presented in the meeting is unreadable and confusing.  I secretly wonder if the presenter has gone off their medication. Her choice of graphics causes questions like, “Why is that box blue?”  Soon we are no longer talking about the subject, but how it is presented.  We are all dumber for having viewed her slides.  I mentally note that she is a candidate for promotion.

10:58am – Impromptu call from someone who cannot cut to the chase as to what they want.  Facepalm.  “For God’s sake get the point please…” My Diet Mountain Dew, which I desperately need, is just out of my reach.

11:15am – The moron finally gets to the point.  “I hate to tell you Bob, that isn’t my team’s responsibility.”  Bob hears my recommendation as to who to call, but tells me he is opting to ignore it.  It is akin to someone saying, “I’m going to ignore gravity today.”  “Bob – you gotta be you.”  That is 16 minutes of my life that I will never get back.

11:32am – My bladder is about to explode when someone pings me and calls.  They missed the call at 9am and want me to repeat everything we didn’t accomplish on the call.

11:44am – I have three minutes in the bathroom.  I need five minutes, but we all know by now that isn’t going to happen.  My computer is beeping in the other room. I try to ignore it, I really do.

12:08pm – I throw together “lunch” (a Pop-Tart and an apple) and sit at my PC, responding to emails that are trickling in.

12:22pm – My manager calls.  She has an “opportunity” for me.  It is work assigned to her that she feels should be assigned to me.  Oh, it was due two days ago.  “Is that a problem?”  Apparently that was a rhetorical question, she really didn’t want my response (which was both snarky and biting.)

12:39pm – I check Amazon – they do not sell time machines or fulfilling careers. Sigh.

12:40pm – I check a news website and there has been a workplace shooting in Ohio. I silently wonder if that is a viable option to the hell I find myself in.

12:44pm – I get an email response from a co-worker which confirms that he cannot read.  It takes a lot of restraint to not write back:  “I appreciate your response and answer – but I would prefer that you actually answer the question I asked you (below).”  I don’t type it because, well, we already established he can’t read.

12:59pm – I join my meeting.  After a late start – again, we spend five minutes trying to remember why we set this meeting up in the first place.  We eventually make something up.  Oddly enough, this is fulfilling.

1:20pm – Skype fails and we are all bounced from the call just as we are about to arrive at a solution. Fuck Skype.

1:28pm – We manage to rejoin the call in time to end it.

1:38pm – A friend rings me and we commiserate about our career choices.  Three new rumors!  At least two of these are pure bullshit.  The third one would have been frightening to me five years ago…now I am just numb.

1:40pm – A message about a reorganization in our department.  This is reorg number 387. “We might be able to get some work done if they didn’t keep changing who was responsible for it.” I read it carefully, looking for subtext, giving my leadership far more credit than they deserve.  Then I delete the last org chart, which I had already presumed was out of date when they published it.  They consistently believe that the problem is not their leadership, but how we are structured.  I guess number 387 is “the charm.”

1:43pm – My manager calls.  “That thing you have been working on…management has had a slight change of direction.”  All of the work I have done up to this point is worthless because of the ballless.  My manager attempts to convince me that this is a good thing.  I tear my stress ball in half, then calm myself with the knowledge that I get paid the same whether I’m doing something brilliant or idiotic.  Apparently they chose to pay me to waste my time.  Cool.

2:12pm – My second Diet Mountain Dew of the day. That ice cold can is my binky at this stage of the day.  It gives me hope, strength, and just enough motivation to stay logged on.  God bless the Pepsi Corporation!

2:18pm – Call from my manager.  “Have you started that project yet?  Well don’t.  We’ve had a strategic change of direction…”  I note her misuse of the word “strategic.”

2:20pm – I check Linkedin to see if there is someone hiring.  I find jobs but convince myself that those companies are as screwed up as ours is.  That, and I’m over 50 years old, and we know that companies don’t want to hire older employees.  Age discrimination is totally real, trust me.  I start thinking about a whole new career where I produce something tangible, something physical, rather than PowerPoint decks. It would be so nice to do something with my hands, if I had any skill other than writing (which, as you know by now, is questionable at best.)  Thinking about it makes me feel good for five whole minutes.

2:25pm – I actually start working on, well, work. The Europeans are heading home so the email slows to a minor torrent.  For we Americans, this is OUR time.

2:39pm – Notice from Information Security. They warn me to not open emails from sources I don’t trust. That should make work easy to do since I technically don’t trust anyone at the company – especially Information Security. Their very email causes a rift in the space time continuum.

3:00pm – A company webcast that is mandatory.  I have no idea why I am on the call.  I hot-key over and respond to emails that I received that were “Reply All” I’m so bitter at this point, I do the same. It is evil of me, and I embrace that.

4:00pm – Webcast ends. I receive a message from a friend, “Did I miss anything on that session?”  “No.  Honestly, it was more like a podcast for me – noise in the background.”

4:26pm – The torrent of emails subsides enough for me to go to the bathroom again.

4:40pm – Final sweep of the inbox occurs.  The two emails I didn’t respond to – they resolved themselves.  Winning!

4:48pm – I receive an invitation to a meeting at 5:00pm on Friday. “I’m sorry but it looks like it’s the only time open on everyone’s calendar.”  Duh.  There’s a reason for that, because we all want to go home. That “Winning!” feeling lasted exactly eight minutes.  Being a dick, I click “Tentative.”  Let her wonder if I’m going to show up or not.

Meeting

5:00pm – I check my schedule for tomorrow.  It eerily looks like todays.  I have a lot of emails to respond to and I think about working for an extra half hour or so to get through them.  Then I remember last year’s raise that I received and say, “Fuck it.” I’ve already had a ten hour day – there’s no way that another half hour is going to change things.

5:02pm – I go upstairs and see my wife.  “How was your day?”  “Same as yesterday.”  She hugs me and says, ‘I’m sorry.”

 

Did I miss anything?

The ilClan Sourcebook Outline (April Fool’s 2019 Part II

BTech GOT

All of this talk about the ilClan.  You know, we might just be messing with you. The damn thing has been promised for years after all.  Wouldn’t it be pisser if we just didn’t do it?

Anyway, as usual, I wanted to do something for April Fool’s Day again.  Last year I did BattleTech Products that never reached the market.  Before that I did Operation Freakin’ Awesomeness. Before all of this, I explored storylines we didn’t purse.

Operation Total Freaking Awesomeness

BattleTech Products That Never Came to Market

Rejected BattleTech Storylines

And this year I also released a bonus “musical” April Fool’s bit… Blood on the Canopy

I figured, why not release the proposed outline for the ilClan Sourcebook?  My first draft was whacked, but it was Ray that said, “You haven’t gone far enough.”  As it turns out, you really shouldn’t give me a loaded gun like that.

 

ILCLAN SOURCEBOOK OUTLINE (HELFERS LEVEL SECURITY REQUIRED)

TABLE OF CONTENTS – the key concept here is to spread the blame around as much as possible. Name dead people if that is what it takes. Include some fake names, especially as playtesters for the new ‘Mechs.  We really haven’t had time to “validate” the stats or continuity.

INTRO FICTION (6k words)

Devlin Stone’s initial plan (Operation LANCE BOIL) for dealing with the ilClan is to use some long-captured Word of Blake tech that will blow up Terra.  His thinking here is, “If there is no Terra for the Clans to set foot on, no one can be named as the ilClan.”  The idea has a lot of merit, except for the loss of the cradle of mankind and billions of lost lives. Stone abandons this plan, after much debate, for dubious reasons, “I keep all of my stuff on Terra.  Blowing it up would take out my miniature collection.” Note: This is totally plausible with our fan base, but not their spouses.  This forces him to seek out new allies in order to stop the horrific and long-overdue Clan onslaught.  (Operation WE ARE SO FU*KING SCREWED)

Devlin Stone’s secret mission to Clan Wolverine (Periphery world location – see Pardoe’s document on the fate of the Wolverines – section on “The Resurgent”)  The risks of Clans Wolf or Jade Falcon taking Terra are too great for Stone.  He proposes an evil alliance (cue the music when the Legion of Doom used to appear on Super Friends).  The Wolverines come to Terra, joining the Fidelis/Smoke Jaguars there, and can proclaim themselves the ilClan(s).  When the Wolves or Jade Falcons arrive, the combined RAF/Fidelis/Wolverine force will wipe them out, or so Stone hopes.  The Wolverines want Clan blood in revenge and quickly agree.  The stage is set for something cool or at the very least, utterly confusing.

The General of the Armies that Stone has tucked away is a clone of Victor Steiner-Davion.  Victor 2.0, named Hannibal, is like Victor Steiner-Davion, but brutal, vicious, a tad kinky, suffering from male pattern baldness, erectile dysfunction, and incontinence.  There may be a hint of the Master’s DNA in him – because we all know the fan base loves the Jihad. We won’t be doing the big reveal as to his identity just yet.  He is still short though, which will be the hint for the readers.  Hannibal is looking forward to crushing the Clans and getting himself a studded dog collar.

Stone has also cloned his sister, Katherine, as Stone’s personal consort.  Think Princess Leia in the slave outfit, but Katherine Steiner Davion – so most fans will loathe her. Her name is Katie and is utterly devoted to Stone, but willing to sleep with Hannibal behind Stone’s back!  Ohh, intrigue! Ohh, incest.  Ew… Outside of House Liao, we have never really played much with incest.  Given the popularity of Game of Thrones, the powers that be think incest is a winner (per John Helfers).

SECTION – THE STORM BREAKS (3.5k words)

Operation BUTT-SCRATCHER opens with Jade Falcon operatives on Terra taking down Fortress Republic.  As it turns out, there is a big switch in Geneva marked (On/Off) and all you have to do is toss it.  Stone considers this “hidden in plain sight.”

The Jade Falcons engage in a massive naval battle in the Sol system and commence landing after a batchall with Stone.  Imagine Malvina’s face when she learns that the Wolverines are back!  Talk about getting your thong twisted!  This section ends when the first Wolverine and Republic units hand the Jade Falcons a stunning defeat at the Battle of Berlin. (Artist Notes: Use image of Russian’s raising flag over the Reichstag with the flag of Republic of the Sphere.)

Sidebars:  Wolverine’s Bioregenerative Armor, GenWeps, Quantum Disruptors, Mjolnir Gauss Hammer Projectors, Sonic Shredders, and Ultra-Elementals, and Wave Motion Guns and Cannons, Thor and Odin orbital spikes.

wave motion
Concept Art for Firing the Wave Motion Gun…

SECTION – THE BATTLE FOR NORTH AFRICA (2.8k words

Clan Jade Falcon is bogged down in North Africa, staggered by the revelation that the Republic is allied with Clan Wolverine and arguments about what colors to use to paint their BattleMechs that will camouflage them best in the desert. This allows us to explore the exciting world of camouflaging three story fast running war machines all over again. I personally think the fans embrace this.

The Republic forces suffer a staggering loss in Tunisia.  The Fidelis wipe out the Falcon’s Green Arrow ™ Galaxy in Palestine.  Malvina unleashed tactical nukes ‘cause she can.

Sidebars:  Africa Burns – Summary of Falcon’s nuke strikes, losses, etc. Here we paint Malvina is a positive light – after all, it’s the freaking Wolverines she is slaughtering!

SECTION – LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD – WOLVES AT THE DOOR  (3.341 words)

Alaric discovers that Fortress Republic has fallen and arrives in Terra to find the Jade Falcons Turkey Baster Galaxy trapped in Africa fighting the greatest foe of the Clans, the Wolverines.  saKhan Garner Kerensky sets off for the Ghost Bears Dominion while Alaric lands to relieve Malvina (Operation BLIND SQUIRREL).  Yes, the Wolves are saving the Jade Falcons. The fans will never see this coming! Hannibal plows into the Wolves with Stone’s Gallstones, wrecking havoc and making them run like a bunch of little wussies.

Malvina
Malvina Hazen – circa 3148 – Phil Lee’s Personal Collection

Anastasia goes to find the Wolves Dragoons to bring them in to help defeat the Republic.

Sidebars:  Alaric’s Big Gamble – Choosing Your Friends Carefully.  Intel report, new Battlearmor spotting in the field and why that is bad for you!

SECTION – BREAKOUT (3.5k words)

The combined Wolf/Falcon forces drive into Europe and Malvina nukes Geneva.  The Northwind Highlanders arrive in defense of the Republic, forcing Alaric to retreat into Russia.  Tara Campbell faces Malvina in battle and kills her.  Note:  We get a great scene of Tara playing the bagpipes with one foot on the blasted and bloated corpse of Malvina Hazen. Yes, it will piss off the Jade Falcon fans, but Malvina was never as warm and cuddly as we made her out in the fiction.

Khan Randi Franklin of the Wolverines is mortally wounded, turning leadership of the Wolverines to saKhan Ralf Hallis.

Sidebars:  Profile of Randi Franklin.  Per Ray’s notes, Randi is to have a heart for the dot over the letter i, it is some sort of cute trademark of hers.  Make sure layout is aware of this.  Also, we need a large fictional piece on the death of Malvina Hazen.  There will be a hint that her BattleMech has been sabotaged in some way prior to the fight.  It is a lot like Clue ™ in terms of who may have wanted to kill her.  “I have Trillian Steiner, with the candlestick, in the bunker…”

bunny2
That is KHAN Ralphi to you! 

SECTION – THE DRAGOON BETRAYAL  (Reference Pardoe’s Wolves Dragoons novella for details) (4k words)

Anastasia’s attempts to lure in Wolf’s Dragoons take a bit of a twisted turn.  She barely escapes alive as the Dragoons jump into the Wolf Empire, already secretly under contract with the Republic.  Alaric’s empire is being consumed while he is on Terra.

Sidebars:  New Dragoons General reveal…Jamie Wolf’s Clone – fused with his memories which the Dragoons have preserved.  A resurgent House Marik forces link up with the Dragoons in the former Wolf Empire. The Marik’s have secured their position of power through a series of killings that make the Godfather Part II seem like a documentary on how pencils are made. They whip out 24 new ‘Mechs and vehicles, conveniently just enough to fill a new TRO.  It’s so cool when stuff like that works out, isn’t it?

Sidebars:  House Marik’s Sudden Rise to Prominence.  Finding that cache of long lost Wobbie-tech sure paid off.  See Randall’s notes on The Hidden Enemy – The WOB and What The Fuck They Are Up To Now.

SECTION – ULTIMATE BETRAYAL (2k words)

The Fidelis turn on everyone…payback on the Clans and the Republic and anyone else that screwed them over in the past (which is, well everyone).  It isn’t their brightest moment as they are wiped out, mostly at the hands of the Republic Armed Forces and the Jade Falcons who oddly find themselves, for a moment, fighting the same enemy.  Imagine their surprise?

The Fidelis survivors mount an exodus off of Terra with promises to return in a century and give everyone in the Inner Sphere an atomic wedgie, aka a Trial of Crack-Thrustus.

Sidebars:  Where is the Fidelis Custos, Paul Moon?  He disappeared just before the end of his people.  Rumors include Word of Blake smuggling him off of Terra.  Malvina’s Ghost – a MechWarrior sees her hovering over the battlefield, then survives an assault that should have killed a dozen men.  The legend of Malvina’s Ghost spreads and will be a cult in a new era.  Warriors that see her visage are granted survival against all odds. Oddly enough, a lot of ex-Blakists line up for this cult (those whack-jobs would follow any stupid vision.)

SECTION – THE CONFLAGRATION (2.9k words)

In Asia, the Republic releases its Super-Heavy Tanks, code-named Dinos.  These are the size of city blocks, slow moving, but massively armored and armed.  They are surrounded by new drones, ED-209’s.  The Clans counter these with their new Wave Motion mounted weapons and hack the ED-209’s, turning them on each other and the Dinos.

Ogre (2)
Concept Art – The Dino

 

The Republic’s new transmorphable Land-Air-and-Sea ‘Mechs lead a seaborne assault on the Philippines, despite the fact that it is defended by only a rouge cluster of Solhama, each oddly wearing a right eye patch (Unit:  Wolf’s Mange Cluster).  They achieve an early victory as the Clan commanders laugh uncontrollably at the sight of these new war machines and are gunned down while doubled over in hilarity.  Once they rally the Republic forces convert into Prius’s and conceal themselves in a used car lot in Manila, opting to wage a largely unsuccessful by humorous guerilla war from there.

Speaking of gorillas, Hannibal unleashes squads of up-armored gorilla troops with mind-control helmets on the Clan Elemental forces.  These “Grodds” proved to be effectively hilarious once the Jade Falcons learned how to jam their command signals and they began firing at any indiscriminate targets.  This battle takes place in Vatican City because it is one of the few places we have never fought a battle and Brent believes that the Vatican Map Set is going to be a big seller with the kids.

Packers

Alaric is killed in Asia by an UltraElemental Star painted as the Green Bay Packers, but not enough for us to get sued – if you catch my drift.  The Wolves are leaderless!   Anastasia arrives just in time to save them from a complete rout.  The Jade Falcons wipe out a lot of Republic troops and land in North America under their new Khan Bob Hazen.   Sidebars:  See the novel, XXX XX XXX XXXX XXXXXX Chapter 18 for death of Alaric.  Do the fiction/Sidebars from the UltraElemental’s perspective, after-action report.  Remember, these are essentially giants, so let’s get into stuff like their eating and hygene habits – the fans will love it! Separate Sidebars:  Did Alaric really die?  No body is been found.  Reports are he may yet live…  One account has him dressing in drag to get off-world on a transport heading to the Periphery. Other major Sidebars:  Bob Hazen Profile from the Wolf Watch (make sure we mention his struggles with IBS – that figures in a novel coming next year – Bowels of Honor!)

SECTION – ROARING BEARS – FLAMING JUNGLES (4k words)

The Ghost Bears jump into the Sol System (Operation TWIST AND SHOUT) and immediately the Fortress Republic (now weaponized) technology is turned on their ships as they materialize in-system.  Warships go boom!   Only a handful of Ghost Bears survive as their dropships are popped like balloons – revenge by the Wolverines who have a bit of a hard-on for the Ghost Bears after all of these centuries.  Garner Kerensky lands with the Ghost Bears and is in fighting in Brazil.  He is seen with no shirt, Putin-Style, going all medieval on the Wolverine’s collective asses.

A Galaxy of Ghost Bears (The Care Bear ™ Legionnaires) land in South America and face a surprise by Stone – ComGuard units!  These ComStar units were preserved by the Republic and are fresh against the Ghost Bear survivors.  These units employ new Inner Sphere technology that rip into the hides of the Ghost Bears and devastate their ranks.  saKhan Wanker Bekker is killed by multiple death from above attacks by the ComGuards quasi elite ATT Customer Service Division.  (Yes, we have new rules to cover this situation.)  The Care Bears get in one devastating assault, taking out the ComGuard General Xander Davion-Kell (Julian Davion’s long lost love child with Calamity Kell) sending the Guards falling back.  There may yet be hope for da’ Bears…

care bear
A Care Bear Legionnaire Elemental Warrior (mock up) 

Sidebars:  Using the Republic Technology as Weapons.  What happened to Garner Kerensky Part II?  Hiding ComStar in Plain Sight.

SECTION – FALL OF THE REPUBLIC (4.5k words)

The last Republic forces are crushed by the Jade Falcons.  Stone’s Leghumper Legion slam into them, filled with rage and fury at the loss of Republic that has protected them for so long, taking down the last of Clan Jade Falcon.  Clan Wolf retreats to India, devastated and pursued by the Clan Wolverine forces. Using Terra’s massive call center complexes for cover, the Wolves seem to be getting away.

The Northwind Highlanders (Your wife’s lipstick battalion) join ComStar in South America, further savaging the Ghost Bears uber-elite Snuggles Brigade just because we want to see kilted BattleMechs take on the Ghost Bears.  Note from Brent:  Iron Wind is producing eight different tiny tartan kilts for sale this year so that players can put them on their favorite ‘Mechs…sure to be hot item.

Jamie Wolf v3.0 rules the Wolf Empire, establishing a chain of burger franchises, Dragoon Fries and Shakes.  He also makes a killing selling Dragoon action figures.  He emerges as one of the more sane leaders in the Inner Sphere in this new era.

Meanwhile in the Federated Suns (Phil to write.  Summary:  The Combine and Confederation forces pinch House Davion down to a dozen worlds.  Julian Davion is rumored to have gone insane from the losses.  The Federated Suns is no longer considered a viable House.  The worlds are clogged with FedSun refugees.  The Cappies and Dracs can each claim a complete victory.  They don’t conquer the survivors because there is nothing left to fight and no one wants to deal with the refugee issue.

Stone’s newly formed Knights of the Republic Sentinel Defenders of the Realm (rolls off the tongue don’t you think?) is made up of all of the Knights and Paladins, led by Levin and Redburn, surge into battle against the Clan Wolf forces but are pummeled badly (since most of them are antiques) giving Clan Wolf one moment in the sun with a victory.

Debauchery Kell (Calamity’s illegitimate twin brother) attacks the Green Lantern Corps Galaxy of the Jade Falcons.  When pressed in battle he uses his Phantom Kell skill to summon the ghost of Morgan Kell.  Morgan’s ghost destroys the attacking ‘Mech, saving Debauchery’s life, then goes off for years to meditate.

Sidebars:  The Kell Hounds and Wolves in Exile eliminate the Jade Falcon Occupation Zone.  (Phil to provide map)  The Lyran Commonwealth is saved (Brent made us do it.)  This should be a double-sized Sidebars given its importance. Phantom Kell Skill stats for the RPG (see Phil’s notes, it was his idea)

SECTION – ROAR OF DOOM (4.001k words)

The Wolves are surrounded and only a handful of them, led by Anastasia Kerensky, manage to escape alive.  The Ghost Bears are wiped out as well, but the cost was every last one of the ComStar troops. No one sheds a bloody damn tear.  Hannibal emerges from the fight with the bodies of his victims chained to his BattleMech, their blood streaking his paint.  Like I said, he’s a tad vicious.

Sidebars:  Where are the Wolf survivors?  Hell’s Horses attack the Ghost Bear Dominion, finding it mostly abandoned – as does the Combine. Note:  What emerges is that the most powerful forces in the Inner Sphere is the Draconis Combine and the Capellan Confederation. Anastasia Kerensky – Some People Just Fucking Refuse to Die.

SECTION – ilClan!! (3.3k words)

While Devlin Stone is prepared to declare victory, he is betrayed by Clan Wolverine, who proclaims itself the ilClan.  Stone refuses to acknowledge this claiming the victory as one for the Republic.  He faces saKhan Ralf Hallis in a Circle of Equals only to be defeated by the Wolverines.  (Brent says we have artwork for this already.)  Stone does live and will go on to lead the Republic (well, what is left of it.)  Note:  It is during the fiction tied to this that we learn that Stone has an entire cybernetic body, courtesy of recovered Word of Blake technology.  This means he can potentially live forever (because the fans absolutely love his character and the depth we have provided as to his backstory.)

Clan Wolverine REALLY wants the ilClanship.  This is critical because no one has seen this coming (except that bastard blogger MechLivesMatter who posted his predictions a year ago, I hate that guy.)  The Republic still stands – but not on Terra, but what is left of Prefecture X, led by bionic Stone (who we will have slowly go insane.)  The Wolverines begin to rebuild to take the war to remaining Inner Sphere Clans in the new era – The Wars of Horrific Retribution and Gloom (first sourcebook due fall of 2019).

Sidebars:  Profile of Ralf (Ralfy to his friends) Hallis – ilKhan. (Recommend using artwork that mirrors Ralphy from A Christmas Story) Devlin Stone – Bionic Warrior-god.  Rumor:  Arthur Davion – is he still a thing or are we over that?

IMPORTANT NOTES TO SOURCEBOOK WRITERS – FUTURE DIRECTION: 

Alaric will resurface in the Lyran Commonwealth where he will become Archon and marry Anastasia Kerensky.  Their love children will be important characters in the next era.

Hannibal will reemerge with an eye patch over his right eye two years from now leading a rag tag fleet of survivors in the last BattleStar into the Periphery.  (Reminder:  Brent is going to have 2000 eye patches made up for GenCon 2020 – Dubbed “The Year of the Eye-Patch!”

House Marik will surprise everyone by being the most stable government in the Inner Sphere. We know this is a bit predictable, but they are equipped with a WOB-tech droid army which basically is autonomous BattleMechs.  We did this because only good positive things come from self-aware androids in science fiction.

We know fans will be upset by the demise of the Federated Suns.  Hannibal’s fleet of refugees will forge a new empire and come back for revenge, and as the means to sell six more Tech Readouts.  It will take 300 years but will be worth it.

In 2022 we will have the BattleTech home world Clans find their way back for some fighting – The Wars of Reaming (sequel to The Wars of Reaving)

We have ignored the Sea Foxes and Snow Ravens.  We thought it might complicate the sourcebook, but we will leak to the fan base that we have “special plans for these clans.”  They always fall for that shit.  In reality, the plans call for them to attack Terra for the epic GenCon 2021 event – tentatively titled – Screw the Wolverines Again!

 

SECTION – NEW UNITS FIGHTING FOR THE BATTLE OF TERRA

(See Phil’s list plus the following.  Artists needed for the new Stone’s unit patches)

1st ComStar Division (Ghosts of Focht.  All ‘Mechs have an eyepatch painted on them like their namesake)

2nd ComStar Division (ATT Customer Service)

ComStar ATT CALL CENTER
Peace of Blake Be With You…Please Hold…

3rd ComStar Division (Testicles of Tukayyid) With the Buddy the Elf Extermination Brigade

2nd Century, Fidelis (Jaguars of Doom)

The Dumfries Demolishers (Elite Northwind Highlander Company)

The Kell Hounds (rebuilt)

Stone’s Leghumper Legion

Stone’s Hangovers

Stone’s Toenail Fungus (All ‘Mechs painted a dull flat yellow)

Stone’s Migraine Brigade

Stone’s Restless Leg Syndrome Battalion

Stone’s Arthritis

Stone’s Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Stone’s Hangnail Legion

Stone’s Diaper Rash  (This is a youth-brigade of young volunteers)

Stone’s Gallstones (personal troops for Hannibal/Victor 2.0)

Stone’s Melanoma

Stone’s Depends ™

Stone’s Liver Spots (great cameo pattern with this unit!)

Toejam of Stone – staffed with dwarves – these are known as Stone’s Munchkins and the Lollipop Guide Fire Brigade

Lollipop
“Prepare to eat sugar you freeborn trash!” 

The Fox News Irregulars (Merc Unit)

Fee Fi Fo Fum…Uber UltraElemental Unit – Remember, these guys are basically genetically bred giants.

Clan Jade Falcon Green Arrow ™ Galaxy

Clan Jade Falcon Green Goblin ™ Galaxy

Clan Jade Falcon Emerald City Galaxy

Clan Wolf – The Wolf’s Mange Cluster

Clan Ghost Bear – Lambda Lambda Mu Galaxy – The Care Bear ™ Legionnaires

Clan Ghost Bear – Yogi Irregulars

Clan Ghost Bear – The Snuggles Brigade

Clan Wolf – The Angry Little Bitches Cluster

Clan Wolf – The Rabid Rottweilers Galaxy

Clan Wolf – Michael Vick’s Vengeance Cluster (again, too soon?)

Clan Wolf – Smells Like Wet Dogs In Here Assault Cluster

The Northwind Highlanders (Your wife’s lipstick battalion)  Answers the age-old question of “What do you wear under your kilt?”

 

SECTION – NEW WEAPONS AND EQUIPMENT:  (Brent has had the powers-that-be bless the stats and can provide)

Slaver Systems

GenWeps (Brent has final refinements to the mutation tables)

Mutations
You want to roll low on those mutation tables – FYI 

Quantum Disruptors

Sonic Shredders

Sonic Funnels

Quantum Whip (we can stick the word “quantum” in front of any weapon and it sounds cool and deadly)

Enemanator (works similar to the Colonsocopy Anti-Infantry Ray but is more of a weapon that targets the MechWarrior in the cockpit)

Kloaking Device ™ Comes in light blue color

Remote Cockpit Systems

Class 7 Disco-Ball Scatter Laser

Molecular Acid Blasters (should look a lot like a super soaker)

Photon Destabilizer Weapons

Akira Laser Flashers

Thundar Disruption Hammer

Wildstar Wave Motion Guns and Cannons (what are the chances of us being sued twice for borrowing IP from Japan?)

Bioregenerative Armor

Colonoscopy Anti-Infantry Ray – AKA Brown Ray Weapons – You can guess the effects on the targets, right? Infantry hit with this weapon need to be repainted with brown paints immediately.

Tachyon Vortex Cannon – nickname – Atomic Wedgie

Thor and Odin Orbital Spikes

Red Ryder Gauss Pellet Launcher

Mjolnir Gauss Hammer Projector

Pryor Class Enhanced Flamers – the older fans will get this

McClane Machinegun Array “Ho ho ho, now I have a machinegun…”

The Valhalla Organic Cohesion Eliminator (VOCX)

Twinkie Hypersonic Needler “That’s one hell of a Twinkie…”

UltraElementals – see notes, they are half the size of a BattleMech in full armor per Ray’s and Brent’s specification

Grodd Gorillas

 

SECTION – NEW BATTLEMECHS

Ball-Buster (186.5 ton Super-Dooper Heavy BattleMech)

Testicle-Twister (Clan Wolverine ‘Mech)

Kardashian Class Assault Tank (Clan Jade Falcon)

Jethro Bodine (with Slaver) (Clan Jade Falcon BattleMech)

Kanye (Light, fast, with no real firepower, Class Wolf BattleMech)

Crusty Toenail Class Tank (Clan Hell’s Horse – and they are even in this fight…oh, some sort of hint of things to come or just us being douchebags?)

Moonshiner Class Tank (Republic of the Sphere) (Note to artists – this should look like a still with a turret, with XXX painted on the hull somewhere.)

IM000019.JPG
Think this – with tank treads and a big ass cannon. 

Immortal Class BattleMech (oddly named given its remarkable lack of armor – BP)

Bynes Class Hover Tank

Poison Ivy Class BattleMech

Lohan Class Battlearmor

Thunderbuns Class BattleMech (Jade Falcon)

Bad Hair Day VTOL

MCCGA Class Scout Mech  (Make the Capellan Confederation Great Again) Note:  ‘Mech only comes in red.

Smollett Class Battle Suits (too soon?)

FITW (Fart in the Wind) Class Artillery – essentially a big Tachyon Vortex Cannon-thing.

Ski-Doo Class Land-Air-and-Sea Transmorphable (not Transformer ™ because that would be bad)

Pimple-Popper 2000 Class Medium Mech (Republic of the Sphere)

Honey-Boo-Boo Class Assault ‘Mech

ED-209 Drone (Republic of the Sphere)

Ed209
You have ten seconds to comply…

Jerry Springer Class Drone with Optional Chair Launcher

Blood Upon the Canopy (April Fool’s 2019 Part 1)

Eject

Blood Upon the Risers is an American WWII paratrooper song about a paratrooper whose chute does not open.  It appears several times in the HBO series, Band of Brothers.  Band Of Brothers Blood On The Risers

I always thought that song was great.  Then it hit me, we don’t have a good BattleTech song – one that captures big stompy ‘Mechs and particle projection cannons, trueborns, and stuff.  So, this year, as part of my annual April Fool’s Day offering, I present to you – Blood Upon the Canopy – sung to the same tune:

 

He was a green MechWarrior who trembled with fright

He made sure his restraining straps were put on good, secure and tight

Outside of the cockpit he heard the artillery rumble and roar

He ain’t punching out no more

 

Chorus

Glory, glory what a hell of a way to die

Glory, glory what a hell of a way to die

Glory, glory what a hell of a way to die

He aint’ punching out no more

 

The incoming LRMs tore his right torso to shreds

The laser beam hit his cockpit turning everything bright red

Warning lights flickered on filling his heart with dread

He ain’t punching out no more

 

Chorus

 

His autocannon barrage was poorly aimed and went wild

The Clanner on the other side simply broke into a smile

He knew the Clansman would leave his battered body defiled.

He ain’t punching out no more

 

Chorus

 

He unleashed his Alpha Strike making his cockpit a burning hell

The Clanner shrugged off the damage but he never even fell.

Inside his neurohelmet the sweat of fate he could only smell.

He ain’t punching out no more

 

Chorus

 

He juked hard to the right, his arm was blown clean off

He was tossed about the cockpit hard and jostled pretty rough

The Clanner called to him asking, “You are toast quaiff?”

He ain’t punching out no more

 

Chorus

 

His SRM missile rack was pounded into useless scrap,

His PPC sparked, a round had turned into nothing but crap.

Only then did he realize his lance had been led into a trap.

He ain’t punching out no more

 

Chorus

 

His jumpjets flared and he rose up atop a brilliant blue flame

He came down hard, his left leg twisted and now it is just maimed

The evil Clanner taunted him, “They will never remember your name!”

He ain’t punching out no more

 

Chorus

 

His missile ammo cooked off with a rumble through his CASE

His heat sinks burst and coolant sprayed all over the battlespace.

One salvo cratered his reactor housing, leaving not a trace.

He ain’t punching out no more

 

Chorus

 

He grabbed the ejection ring and pulled it back with all his might

The cockpit canopy blew and shot him straight up out of sight.

The Clanner locked onto him with his PPC, purely out of spite

He ain’t punching out no more

 

Chorus

 

He felt the blast shoot over him and into the bright blue sky

He saw the parachute disintegrate and he let out a cry.

The Clanner called out to him, “Freebirth prepare to die!”

He ain’t punching out no more

 

Chorus

 

His BattleMech erupted in a massive ball of flame

He plummeted to the earth with no one left to blame

He hit the ground and his body was curmbled and left maimed

He ain’t punching out no more

 

Chorus

 

He hit the ground, the sound was “SPLAT”, his blood went spurting high;

His comrades, they were heard to say “A HELL OF A WAY TO DIE!”

He lay there, rolling ’round in the welter of his gore

He ain’t punching out no more

 

Chorus

 

As he lay there with his busted knees thrust over the top of his head

Then came the moment every Mechwarrior comes to fear and dread

“Tell my mother I didn’t fail House Davion, and I wish I wasn’t dead!”

He ain’t punching out no more

 

Chorus

 

We buried what was left on a  hillside not far from our post

We knew that MechWarrior well and were sorry he was toast.

He’ll never fight the heat or have to fear that he will in his cockpit roast

He ain’t punching out no more

 

Chorus

 

Wayne Waco, Jamie Wolf and Archer Christofori

Horse, Aiden Pryde and even Natasha Kerensky

In Valhalla they await his coming with stein of Timbriqui

He ain’t punching out no more

 

Chorus

 

(slowly, solemnly; about half the speed of the other verses)

There was blood upon the ejection seat and remains of his chute,

Intestines were a-dangling from his MechWarrior jumpsuit,

He was a mess, they picked him up, and poured him from his boots,

He ain’t punching out no more

 

Personally, I would love to hear this sung at GenCon this year, either at Masters and Minions or at the Catalyst Update Presentation. Print out copies – bring ‘em, sing ‘em.

From The Archives: BattleTech Storylines That Didn’t Make the Cut (April Fool’s)

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For April Fool’s this year, my list of BattleTech plotlines and story ideas and plotlines that were never fully considered.  Having been part of this universe for a long time, my sense of humor has been twisted rather tightly.  Most of these concepts and story ideas were discarded for damn good reasons, though in all honesty, I think that the powers that be missed some golden opportunities with some of the ideas I’ve toyed with over the years.  So, for a chuckle – here you go!  

Kerensky’s Coup:  When Stefan Amaris offers Kerensky the chance to serve under him – he accepts.  While the Usurper secretly plots Kerensky’s assassination, the old man kills the First Lord first and assumes control of the Star League.  The Rim Worlds Republic is shattered quickly as the SLDF units don’t have to fight their way into the Hegemony.  The Star League never dies. 

The last scene of Endgame is Katrina and Victor sleeping with each other.  (Oh come on, you’ve all suspected that she secretly loved him…)

Kai Allard-Liao slips into an Elemental suit to prepare to do battle, but can’t use it because it’s too damn big (LIKE IT WAS SUPPOSED TO WORK?).  He climbs out and is squashed like a bug under the footpad of a Clan Vulture. 

Nicholas Kerensky proposes the idea of the Clans and is then sedated and locked up.  “Single combat when I have a fully company of ‘Mechs at my disposal, what in the hell is he thinking?  Give up sex to reproduce using iron wombs?  And what is up with all that babbling about Smoke Jaguars?  What’s he been smoking?”

The Inner Sphere is invaded by giant intelligent chicken creatures.  They are not only wiped out, but served as dinner to victors.  (Courtesy of Colonel Wayne Waco Rogers Roasters) 

The “What if I had a Jihad and no one showed up?” scenario.  At the outbreak of the Jihad Outreach is reduced to radioactive slag.  Only problem, Wolf’s Dragoons isn’t there.  Uh oh.  They got intel on the strike and moved against Terra.  Double uh oh.  The Dragoons shatter the Word of Blake there and declare themselves at the ilClan.  

The “Liao isn’t as dumb as he looks,” scenario.  Mad Max Liao, suspicious of the wedding of Melissa Steiner and Hanse Davion – orders his military to invade the Federated Suns at the time of the wedding reception.  They catch the Davion forces on their staging worlds, unprepared, and inflict massive casualties.  The Federated Suns crumbles, ill-equipped for a defense.   

Jerome Blake IS The Master.  Using lost Star League tech, Blake’s brain is put in a cybernetic body and never steps down as the head of ComStar.  None of the religious mumbo jumbo ever becomes part of the ComStar culture.  ComStar essentially becomes a very big powerful corporation with its own army.  When the Jihad happens, its is ComStar putting an end to the Succession Wars.  

When Victor-Steiner Davion denies Trent a chance to command, Trent kills him.  “Any last words Mighty Mouse?”  

Kahn Ward is attacked by a marauding band of giant intelligent chicken creature which peck him to death.  

Primus Waterly named the First Lord of a new Star League.  Her plan to cripple communications works (Operation Scorpion,) bringing the Federated Commonwealth to its knees, then the rest of the Inner Sphere follows.  She kills Focht and establishes herself as the First Lord of a new Star League.  

House Liao’s ultimate betrayal.  During the Clan invasion, House Liao strikes at House Marik and Davion, taking out manufacturing centers.  Without arms coming in, the Clans crush the other houses and Sun-Tzu Liao has backed a winner, earning him a place of honor in the court of the Star League.  

The Outbound Light doesn’t find the Clans, they find the Wolverines.  Talk about oops! The Wolverines tip off the Inner Sphere about what happened to Kerensky’s children.  The Inner Sphere unites out of fear and armed with the intel given by the Wolverines – leads as preemptive strike into Clan space.  

Vlad kills Phelan Kell.  There should be more to this but just nurse it for a moment.  Ahh…

Devlin Stone is the son of Frederick Steiner (Focht) and Myndo Waterly.  She wasn’t killed, but has been the true force behind ComStar all along.  I know – scary…

Snord’s Irregulars launch a surprise attack on Terra at the end of the Third Succession War and seize the planet.  Cranston Snord becomes the new First Lord of a new Star League.  It’s like Pawn Stars, but with ‘Mechs. 

Jerome Blake doesn’t seize Terra – instead House Kurita does in a surprise assault.  With control over ComStar and Terra, it is a battle royale between the rest of the Inner Sphere and the Draconis Combine.  

Wolverines Triumphant.  Nicholas Kerensky is killed while fighting the Wolverines.  The Clans morph into a more benevolent society as Kerensky’s extreme weirdness is stripped away.  The caste system is dissolved.  The Clans become a unified peoples, still militaristic, but not so Klingon-ish. When they do invade the Inner Sphere, there’s no bargaining…it’s all out war.  

What if the scientist caste was on top in the Clan heirarchy?  Rather than the Warriors, the scientists rule the Clans.  Technology leaps ahead centuries by the time of the invasion.  Bio-BattleMechs and stuff.  Nastier weapons.  Uber-Tech.  

The Smoke Jaguars win against the Star League.  Victor’s head is held in Osis’s hands before the Clans.  The Nova Cats get VERY nervous as a result of their betrayal.  

The Nova Cats have a vision about giant Chicken aliens invading the Inner Sphere.  Everyone laughs at them.  

House Marik wipes out Wolf’s Dragoons as Joshua Marik takes the throne of the Free Worlds League.  He picks apart the loot from the Dragoons and uses it to rebuild the League into THE major force in the Inner Sphere.   He also figures out where the Dragoons came from and prepared his nation, but not the others, for the eventual invasion.  

Katrina takes X as a mate.  X = Kahn Ward, Thomas Marik, Lincoln Osis, Archer Christifori, or Sun-Tzu Liao. 

The Knights of the Inner Sphere put on the play Spamalot II.  I actually toyed with this script.

What if we never changed the universe?  So a company of patchwork ‘Mech defend an entire planet.  No factories, no regiments, and big merc units numbered twelve dudes and skimpily clad dudettes with ‘Mechs.  Ice ships, pirates, and salvage means staying in the fight.  

One word:  Cylons. 

ComStar’s network becomes self-aware and renames itself “Skynet.”  Short android copies of Victor Steiner Davion are sent out to kill the leaders of the Inner Sphere.  (I have to admit, I’m still fleshing this idea out, but you get the idea.) 

Kahn Ward loses his arm in battle and Clan scientists replace it with a chainsaw appendage.  

All MechWarriors in the universe have the “Ghost ‘Mech” capability that Morgan Kell demonstrated, and they use it a lot.  

The Word of Blake comes across a planet inhabited by giant intelligent chickens.  They use cybernetic implants on these creatures creating the Manei Cluckini, an army of killer chickens.  

“Everybody on Exodus…be back in one hour.”  Kerensky wasn’t the only one to go on the Exodus.  All of the major houses send out forces into the Periphery to create empires they might need someday.  Each of these mini-Exodus’s cuts ties to their home governments during the Succession Wars and all come back as unique distinct cultures to invade the Inner Sphere.  

Richard Cameron sees right through Amaris and pops him with his laser before the coup unfolds.  The coup never happens and Rim Worlds League is laid waste as a result of Kerensky learning of their deception.  

Rather than fight a bloody Civil War, Victor has Katherine assassinated.  The Federated Commonwealth remains intact going through the Dark Ages.  

What if Kerensky came home sooner?  Rather than the civil war that led to the Clans, the SLDF remained intact and prospered.  In Kerensky’s lifetime they came back to the Inner Sphere on a war to reestablish the Star League.  But instead of arriving in 3050, they come a century or two earlier.  

‘Mechs invade Endor.  While not a viable idea, I like the idea of crushing Ewoks. 

Three words:  Battlefield Nuclear Weapons.  Not as optional – as standard equipment. Range of six hexes, they destroy everything within 20 from ground zero.  

The Succession Wars don’t happen.  Hell, Terra was pretty trashed anyway.  Why fight for control of the Hegemony worlds?  When the Clans arrive they find house governments with massive militaries that had not been battered by three centuries of warfare.  Surprise!

Daleks invade the Free Worlds League!  A little Dalek-on-‘Mech action would be fun.  Question:  How many points does a toilet plunger ray gun do?  Answer:  5 but the range sucks.  

The arrival of Wolf’s Dragoons results in their immediate attack and destruction.  The Inner Sphere learns of the Clans from their databases and sets off to attack the Clans first (or better yet, feeds them misinformation about the Inner Sphere prior to their own invasion.)  

House Ward is part of Clan Wolverine.  Phelan Kell tells the Wolves that capture him that he carries the Ward bloodline in his veins…and they kill him.  

Return to suggested Clan Names That Didn’t Make It Past The First Cut:  Turkey Baster, Iron Scrotum, Killer Sloth, Pregnant Hamster, Viper-Poodle, Pap-Smear, Smoked Stoner, Jade Prostate, Mammoth Shrimp, Amorous Armadillo, Snow-Weasel, Emerald Ball-Crusher, Pink Flamingo, Black Hemorrhoid, Fire Frogs, Azure Zit, and Rabid Monkey. 

Instead of building NAIS, House Davion builds a ‘Death Star.’  (Imagine me doing the quotes in the air like Dr. Evil and it’s funnier…)

And finally…Adam Steiner from the TV Series becomes Archon!  What?  What do you mean we did that?  WTF?  Huh?  It was mentioned in one of my books?  Aw crudstunk…

Gaming Humor – D&D Fortune Cookies

friend-in-trouble

As I prep for our upcoming game session, I started thinking that someone out there should produce Dungeons and Dragons fortune cookies.  They would be a blast to have during a game session.  I’m sure someone will steal this idea for a Kickstarter.  With that in mind, here’s a list of suggested fortunes:

  • Today is a good day to reevaluate your alignment.
  • Fresh dice bring you new thrills.
  • You will confront Chaotic Stupid today.
  • Just because you don’t detect a trap, doesn’t mean there isn’t one there.
  • Never stand in front of a thief.
  • The one with the most treasure is the greater target.
  • Be cautious of the smiling NPC.
  • Your dice are conspiring against you.
  • The next dagger you experience will be in your back.
  • Beware NPC’s that seem too friendly.
  • Remember your character’s life may change with the next door you open.
  • Hit points do not replace common sense.  Proceed with caution.
  • “Rush him!” is not a tactical battle plan.
  • A virtuous damsel in distress may be neither.
  • Treasure without risk is no treasure.
  • Idle hands are usually in your pockets.
  • You are ten feet of rope short of what you will need.
  • Never trust the bar wench. The more beautiful, the more dangerous.
  • May all your hits be crits!
  • Your lucky number is 20.  Of course, that’s everyone’s lucky number.
  • Your DM is planning douchebaggery!
  • Your nagging feeling is taking the form of a saving throw.
  • Trust no bard.
  • Beware goblins bearing gifts.
  • By the time the dragon’s mouth opens – it is too late.
  • Liches Lie!
  • “Kill everyone!” is not a necessarily a strategy.
  • One of your dice are about to betray you.
  • Your hired help may have more than one employer.
  • It could always be a mimic.
  • To the undead, you are merely a recruitment opportunity.
  • Your plan makes as much sense as charging a gelatinous cube
  • Trust no thief that spends time away from the party.
  • Just because you own a flask of oil doesn’t mean you should burn the tavern down.
  • Always leave yourself a way out.
  • Carry only the treasure of real value.  A copper ingot is unworthy as treasure.
  • The loudest voice in the party is not always the one that is right.
  • The more virtuous the paladin, the more irritating the paladin.
  • There are no cuddly Drow.
  • True wizards never have to read up on the spell they are casting.
  • Water depth is important and needs to be inversely proportional to the weight of your armor.
  • Do not tempt fate by purchasing a new mini for your character.
  • When the DM checks for encumbrance, you are doomed.
  • What appears safe and innocent is the opposite.  Use caution!
  • Beware long flavor text!
  • Sometimes it is better to kill the horse than try and target the rider.
  • Burning the village is not often required, but is quite often fun.
  • Specially painted miniatures mean death stalks the party!
  • The true heroic character is defined by those he vanquishes.
  • Spectacular heroics invite spectacular (often lethal) responses.
  • There’s never a healer around when you need one.
  • Leave no body un-looted.
  • Insulting a dwarf rarely ends well.
  • There’s never a ranger around when you need one.
  • Just because you didn’t hear anything on the other side of the door does not mean it is safe.
  • It’s formation, formation, formation…
  • Your last thought will be, “I am going to melt that die!”
  • You cannot disbelieve yourself to safety.
  • Not everyone is worthy of raising from the dead.
  • Friendly halflings usually aren’t.
  • Everyone whines about needing healing – take care of yourself first.
  • You are out of spell components – pray that the DM doesn’t notice.
  • Summoning a demon rarely solves a problem but can create two new ones.
  • If it looks like a cult, and kills like a cult, it is a cult.
  • Did it ever occur to you that map you bought may be inaccurate?
  • If your fate is dependent on a nearly impossible die roll, then don’t do it.
  • There’s a difference between immunity and resistant.
  • Left is right, right is wrong, when choosing a path in a dungeon.
  • A dragon’s value is the sum of its harvested organs.
  • Never fight a vampire in the dark.
  • Listen to your dice – you are not that lucky.
  • If you could see behind the DM’s shield, you would not sleep at night.
  • The DM’s smile does not bode well for you.
  • Runes explode.  Write it down.
  • Not all pits are created equal.
  • Make sure there are no survivors.
  • Caution is slow and often in the difference between life and death.
  • Unleashing a fireball from the rear of the party is one way of thinning your party.
  • Beware bards who play bagpipes – always.
  • Dungeons are built for a reason.
  • If it appears soft, cuddly, cute and harmless – kill it quickly.
  • Not all princesses are worth rescuing.
  • While you are sure you have one more charge in that wand, the fates are not.
  • Remember – cursed items also are magical.
  • Death awaits you around the next corner.
  • The more complicated the plan, the hungrier the dragon.
  • Every now and then you need to inventory what is in your possession.
  • Distractions are the number three cause of death in any encounter.
  • A member of your party is planning something stupid.  You know who…
  • Your gut says charge but the math says retreat.
  • Loaded dice are a thing.
  • Be thankful there are not food spoilage charts.  That stuff in your haversack reeks.
  • The more complicated the puzzle, the more deadly the results.
  • The idea may sound clever, but check his Wisdom to be sure.
  • Just because the label says “healing” doesn’t mean you should trust it.
  • Death stalks those about the level up.
  • Rust monsters were created so the DM could strip you of armor class…no other reason.
  • If you didn’t fight for it, it has no real value.
  • Arson, looting, pillaging, serial killing, wanton destruction…yet you call yourself heroes.
  • There are always secret rooms in a temple.
  • The DM knows you fudged your Intelligence roll.
  • Be the hero you always wanted to be…not what the idiot sitting next to you wants.
  • Your DM is using loaded dice.
  • Rule #5  Never let the dumbest person in your party plan the battle.
  • The loyalty of hirelings is subject to the dangers you make them face.
  • You are one die roll away from a critical miss.
  • Your excitement says “Yes, yes, yes!” but the math says, “Run the fuck away!”
  • If you think the monsters are bad, you should know what your fellow players have in store for you.
  • Everything wandering is out to kill you.  Strike fast and true.
  • There are no experience points in real life.  That’s why we play the game.

Workplace Humor – Things we send in email and what they really mean

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My buddy Kevin (Dude) sent me three of these last week.  I decided to harvest my own inbox and expand the list.  Note:  These interpretations are my own and in now way reflect my employer, co-workers, etc.  If any of my colleagues recognize the use of these phrases, well, that’s on you.    

  •  “I have attached this slide deck to assist you in understanding…”  You are so stupid, I prepared supplemental material with pretty pictures to make it easier for you. 
  • “Per my previous email…”  You clearly didn’t read or understand what I wrote you before, so now I will repeat it. 
  • “Per our agreement…”  You violated something you agreed to, now I must explain to you what it is. 
  • “I suggest a face-to-face meeting…”  We need to stop firing these idiotic emails back and forth.  Let’s sit down so I can call you ‘asshole’ to your face. 
  • “I am copying in (Name) for his perspective.”  We’ve already met and agreed you are an asshat.  I’m copying him as written proof of that diagnosis.
  • “It is imperative that we…”  This is important and it is embarrassing to all of us that I have to explain that to you. 
  • “I’m circling back to you on…”  You didn’t respond to this last time, so now I have to nag your sorry-ass about it again. 
  • “I’m curious as to your thoughts on this…”  Make a decision – ANY decision.  Just take a stand for Pete’s sake. 
  • “To reiterate…” I am repeating this…again – because apparently you are slow. 
  • “Moving forward…”  Don’t ever bother me with this shit again.
  • “Respectfully submitted,”  The exact opposite.  “Hatefully submitted.”
  • “This was helpful.”  I wish you had sent this to me weeks ago when I asked for it. 
  • “Sorry to bother you again on this subject.”  I’m sorry you chose to blatantly ignore me. 
  • “Thank you for your explanation.”  Receipt of your lame excuse is acknowledged. 
  • “I’m not sure my last message was received…”  Oh, it was received…you just didn’t respond.  I’m not going away dickhead.
  • “I apologize for the misunderstanding…”  I am deeply and sincerely sorry that you are an asshole.
  • “It is difficult to find a time that works for both of us…”  It’s not my fault you can’t manage your calendar. 
  • “As I understand it…”  This is reality as I know it.  God only knows what you think.
  • “I look forward to our meeting.” There goes an hour or more of my life flushed down the toilet.
  • “Thank you in advance…”  You have a to-do item – just fucking do it.
  • “I hope you don’t mind…”  I don’t care if you mind – do your job.
  • “I realize that you are busy, but…”  I don’t appreciate you ignoring me in the last four attempts to get you to respond.
  • “Your comment on _____ is fair…”  Okay, you made your point – I made a mistake.  Thanks for bringing it up again just to make me feel bad. 
  • “Just a friendly reminder…”  I presume you have the onset of early dementia, it makes it easier for me to cope with you not doing what you need to. 
  • “Let’s action this…”  Stop replying to the email string and do some actual work!
  • “You may not be aware of the history…”  Your decision was stupid, now I have to explain to you why; complete with historical context. 
  • “It might help you to know the background…”  You are about to do something stupid, so let me explain why you shouldn’t.
  • “No action required.”  I am sending you this to cover my ass.  Just play along and now one will get hurt.
  • “I understand your role…”  I LOVE you mansplaining to me what you do. 
  • “I included you on this email string to make sure you were in the loop…”  This is part of your job – so stop whining about me emailing you about it.  And the only loop I want to see you in is a noose. 
  • “Brilliant!”  You actually responded correctly and on-time.  You get a star. 
  • “With all due respect…”  Prepare yourself for my explanation as to why you are tragically wrong. 
  • “FYI” I am covering my ass here. 
  • “Please advise…”  There’s a button on the email called, “Reply.”  Give it a try. 
  • “According to the system…”  I hear what you are saying, but the data says something entirely different.
  • “Just to clarify…”  I will use smaller words this time since the big ones clearly overwhelmed you.
  • “Any updates on this?”  I’m not going to let this slide, douchebag. 
  • “I’m sure you are already aware of this…”  I’m sure you are completely blindsided by this…so allow me to be the bearer of bad news. 
  • “I’d like to point out…”  Let me explain just how wrong you are. 
  • “Don’t hesitate to reach out to me on this…”  I am pretending that I will give you the time of day to re-read this email to you.
  • “Per our operating model…”  We put together a mysterious and complex process, didn’t involve you, didn’t communicate it, but expect you to follow it. 
  • “We need to give this the appropriate level of due diligence…”  You might actually have to read this. 
  • “Great!”  You finally understand…it sure took long enough. 
  • “I want to make sure we avoid this in the future…”  I know that you are prone to repeating the same mistake that led to this email, as such don’t make me kill again.
  • “This is a high priority…”  This is a high priority for the next hour or two, then I will be distracted by the next thing that is a high priority. 
  • “Apologies for me not…”  You caught me!  I’m impressed enough to admit it. 
  • “It has been a pleasure…”  Clearly I am into S&M because this has been torture.
  • “Thank you for your valuable input…”  You’ve made your point, please shut up
  • “I want to make sure we are on the same page…”  Frankly, I’m not sure you’re reading from the same book. 
  • “I was hoping we could collaborate on…”  I need someone to do the work so I can claim credit for it. 
  • “I don’t want you to feel like you’re being excluded…”  But you are. 
  • “I thought you might want to see this…”  Someone is screwing you over and I’m willing to bet they haven’t told you. 
  • “Would (insert day) be convenient?”  You need to get this done before that day or I swear, I will come after you.
  • “Many thanks!”  Fuck off.
  • “Best regards!”  Don’t ever contact me again. 

Email2

Stages of Your Alleged Career – Entering The Triangle of Apathy

Career
That triangle above Disillusionment – that’s the Triangle of Apathy (trademark pending) 

Anyone who has read my book, Business Rules – a Cynic’s Guidebook to the Corporate Overlords, knows I am not a fan of the use of the word “career.”  While it applies in some specialty fields, in others it is a self-perpetuating myth.  People have jobs.  They desperately try and string jobs together to tell a story, but often it is a hot mess more than something that is cohesive.  Many people want careers, but in the real world, they have a job.

I have not mapped years to this because it varies for people.  Some people might burn through all of the stages in a matter of five years – some twenty.  Your results may vary.

So what are the stages of this mythical beast called a career?  Here’s my summary, for your reading entertainment.

Idealistic Stage.  You are young(er) with a twinkle in your eye and a bounce in your step. You believe that your long hours of hard work will be recognized and rewarded.  You go above and beyond to kick ass and takes names later.  Initially, it seems to work, encouraging more of this behavior.  Your first promotion or two creates the illusion that you are doing the right things to get ahead.  You confuse management with leadership at this stage.  Hell, it doesn’t matter, you are just happy to do your job.  There are a few older bitter employees, and you mock them openly because you see yourself smarter and more energetic than them.  Your “career” is not just about the paycheck, it’s about the challenge and the thrill you get as your learn new things.  The money is just as way for you to measure how well you are doing, like a ranking in a video game.

You find a specialty at work that intrigues you, and you become an expert in it.  It excites you to become the master of something.

When you go on business travel, it’s a party paid for by the company.  Your interests outside of work are limited because work seems awesome.  In fact, the things that make you happy and the relationships that seem to matter are all tied to your job and you don’t care. You identify mentors who you respect and they give you useful advice.  It is hard to imagine working anywhere else because the values of your organization seem to align with yours personally.

You are building your network in the organization…meaning you engage with many peers and form relationships that may help you in the future.  It is easy to do since many of you are just starting out.

Life is good because you can manage it.  Work and life get blurred, but that’s okay. You have a lifetime to sort that out.

Questioning State.  As you move higher in the organization, you notice that the behaviors that got you rewarded are taken for granted.  Upper management simply expects you to work long hours, they expect it from everyone.  You notice that some people that are promoted don’t share your work ethics or values.  Some advance because they are talented brown-nosers who kiss ass more than work.  You see people who advance based on technical skill rather than leadership capabilities.  Adding to this, the pace of promotions begins to slow down.

The company makes changes to your benefits and compensation and for the first time you question those changes. You notice that some people you respect either move on to other companies, or lose their jobs in one of the many reorganizations you start to experience/feel.  You see entire teams gutted, seemingly for no reason.  Still, you want to believe that the organization you work for cares about you – so you overlook most of these indiscretions, but a nagging voice in your head makes you wonder if you are a valuable member of a team, or merely a commodity.  You begin to ponder what your value is from the company’s perspective.

That thing you became an expert in…you realize you need more.  So you reinvent yourself, becoming an expert in another field.  For a short time that fulfills your joy, but it seems to fade fairly quickly.

The corporate rules becomes blurry and confusing as to what is expected of you as ambiguity becomes a competency.  You are confused by what you see, but cannot fully articulate what is happening.  You begin to question how the organization is run and who is leading it.

Money means a lot more at this stage of your career because you are more settled, have more responsibilities, and want/need more stuff.  You begin to notice that some people are treated better financially those others with bonuses and other incentives, and it bothers you because they are not distributed equitably.  It was probably always this way, but now you start to notice it more and ask, “Why?”  It’s not an overriding concern…yet.

You get to go to training, but much less often than earlier in your career.  It’s not for lack of desire, but there are always budget and timing questions that seem to block you.  You are hit with counters to your request like, “If you think you can afford to take three days to go to training in the middle of this critical stage of the project, go ahead.”  You become the bad person for even suggesting to take time off.

You still are working just as hard as you did, cranking up the long hours, but you are beginning to question if it is worth it.  Work-life balance starts to creep in as an issue.  You still travel without questioning whether it is needed or not.  You begin to question the bureaucracy and rules that you ignored earlier in your career.  Your pool of friends at work is starting to drain and it is harder to bring new people into that dwindling circle.

Disillusionment Stage. You feel as if you are a marked man or woman.  Your manager cannot tell you how to advance or grow in the organization because they are fighting to save their own phony-baloney jobs.  You see long-time friends and colleagues lose their jobs to downsizing, rightsizing, outsourcing, etc. When the promotion list comes out, it is something that infuriates and frustrates you.  “How could that imbecile get promoted and I can’t?”  There doesn’t seem to be any rules to follow or path to walk that can get you promoted.

You want to change jobs but the tentacles of your life and organization hold you tightly.  You have debt in life, you need to keep your medical plan, you don’t want to sacrifice your retirement plan by starting over at a new company, or you are so much older that other organizations won’t bother to interview you. (If anyone out there believes that age discrimination isn’t real, you’re a fool.)  Where you used to be comfortable with work and life blending together, now you want them separated.  You hate going on business trips at this stage of your corporate life because you have started to develop a life outside of work as a means of mental escape from the depressing grind that work has morphed into.

Training you want to take is expensive and the company refuses to send you…after all, why train someone who may only use those skills for the few years remaining in your careers?  At the same time, they ding you for not having the right skills.

The publication of the annual promotions list is a source of frustration and anger.  “How could they promote her?  He couldn’t find his ass with a flashlight and both hands!” are typical comments.  You are no longer sure what to do to progress or grow in your role because the rules are constantly in flux.  Despite this, people come to you to ask career advice and you do your best to help them.

Money plays a role here at this stage too.  You begin to compare notes with others and can see how you are not earning what you feel you deserve.  It makes you angry, but leadership brushes it off when you raise it with them.  “I can’t talk to you about what another person is making.” At this stage, money has become less of a necessity (you make enough) but more of a way to gauge yourself against others.

That network you built back when you were idealistic…it is dwindling.  RIF’s, layoffs, and outsourcing have cost some of your work-friends their jobs.  Some make sense, others seem random, almost arbitrary.  This has you wondering what leadership in your organization is thinking, if anything.

Your days are filled with PowerPoint slide decks and meetings to plan other meetings.  You think and speak in bullet points, even at home.  Vacation and holidays are often rushed, squeezed in between work deliverables, but deeply cherished.  You still check email while off, doing it in secret from your significant other.

In this stage you start to question business travel.  “Do I really have to be there live for two hours of meetings?”  You have a ton of points for hotels and airlines, but don’t seem to have the time to use them.  Your personal life seems suddenly to be more important than, “working for the man.” The things that make you happy are outside the office.

You are in an emotional prison, unable to move up in the organization, living in fear of layoffs, watching incompetent and unskilled people pass you by.  Your last mentor is contemplating suicide and blaming the company in the farewell note. As your company plays with your benefits, you feel powerless and impotent.  You won’t work an hour of overtime at this point; why bother?  Distrust in the organization is your default setting, and with good reason.

Your use of Linkedin supersedes your use of other social media.

Office 3

Survival Mode or “Shawshank Redemption” Stage. Less-than-subtle comments to you like: “We could hire three kids of out college for what we pay you,” or “I can move your job to India for a quarter of the cost,” are your “inspiration” at this stage.  You feel as if you have given the organization so much that you merely want to see this ride through to the bitter end.  That and you still cling to some of the values you had when you first started there.  You want to be back at the early stages of your career when you understood the rules of the game and it was fun to play.  You keep hoping that the leaders will go back to those ideals you cling to.

It helps to know where the skeletons are buried, mostly because you dug a lot of the holes over the years.

Your decisions are always weighed against, “Can they use this as an excuse to let me go?”  You have become that older prick you used to joke about in the organization.  Everything becomes clinging to the thing you have grown to hate, simply because it is a paycheck.  Your moments of inspiration and glimmers of hope are quickly squashed by others in leadership.

Vacations and holidays are seen as sacred time where you completely disconnect from work.  Money means less at this stage of your “career.”  This is more about survival.  You have been complaining of your pay for so long your expectations are appropriately low.

The publication of the promotions list has you seeing people there that you have never heard of.  Your personal network can be counted on one hand.  Many show signs of PTSD, having barely survived countless layoffs and reorganizations.  They are, for the most part, institutionalized – apparently trapped in their roles.

Your mentors have been all laid off, fired, or escaped.  Your circle of friends at work has shriveled to a handful. You actively work to avoid business travel because you have come to hate airports, hotels and people.  Work is a prison where parole consists of reductions in force. Each time the axe is swung you secretly hope you are on the list.  You know the layoff packages in your organization as well as your pension plan.

When there’s a workplace shooting on TV and people say, “I don’t know how that could happen,” you find you possess the answers.

If you look at the chart above, mapping your disengagement increase, your engagement at work decrease, and your salary, you can see that the optimum period comes during the disillusionment period in the small triangle you see on the chart.  I name this little spot the Triangle of Apathy…where you still care about work, but realize the futility of that caring.