Things You Need to Get Answers on Before You Leave The Interview

Bobs

I hate fluff articles with similar titles that give you worthless tips for interviews like, “Tell me why you like working here”?”  Bah! No one cares because the answer to that question ls likely to be pure BS anyway.

At the risk of being blunt, there’s some things you need to get out of an interview, but usually don’t ask because they can seem edgy.  Still, getting this information is important.  How you get it in your line of questioning, that I leave to you.  Also you need to focus on the 2-3 questions that are most important to you personally.

What’s next in this process, and when?  Usually an interviewer will inform you of this as their way of saying, “we’re done with this interview.” If they don’t, you need to know what the next steps are and what the timing is for those steps. Timing can be important, because it tells you how important this role is.  If they want to fill it fast, it is more likely mission critical.

Who’s the decision maker? Organizations often have rounds of interviews, one with a recruiter, one with the hiring manager, sometimes a technical interview, sometimes team interviews, and so on.  Their belief is this ensures they get the best candidate; when in reality it spreads out the blame for hiring bad candidates to a larger group of people.  As such, it can get confusing as to who is the individual that actually is making the judgement call as to your joining the company.  If you don’t know this, ask!

Why didn’t this position get filled from within?  This tells you how important promotion from within is, if they provide training, etc. I asked this recently and got, “Oh, we have several in-house candidates that we like, but we always like looking in the external market.”  In other words, they may just be wasting your time because of a stupid policy. Probing at this can tell you a great deal about how the organization views their people.

What would be my career progression if I were offered this job?  In other words, how long until I can promoted and to what role or position?  Will I have freedom to change career directions, or is this seen as a niche role with little room for growth?   What I always want to know with this question is, “How much flexibility will I have with my career path?” What you want to find out is simple – is this a company that has an up-or-out approach to careers, or one that sees you as a long term asset they want to nurture and grow?

What does your company do to retain talent? Does this company even care enough to try and keep its best performers? The companies that really do care have program in place.  This is also a good question to determine if the organization you are interviewing with is one that cherishes experience, or promotes more of an “up-and-out,” mentality towards its people.

Does your company have any outsourcing initiatives or efforts to move jobs overseas?  I know of someone who hired into a job, only to find out that the seat was vacated because his predecessor had already been told the role was being moved to India.  You need to know if you are entering an environment that is harvesting jobs for outside vendors or to send overseas.  While this is not a deal-breaker on its own (the role you are interviewing for may not be impacted) it can tell you a great deal about the morale and focus of the staff.

What is your employee review process like?  The response to this question tells you something about how the tentative organization evaluates its people’s performance.   How you will be evaluated often drives the type of work you do.  Best to learn that before you are offered the position.

How many hours are there in a typical work week in this position?  Are you going to have time to have a life?  Is this place a sweat shop?  Chances are they will tell you, “it varies,” but you should probe a little further.  “So what is the high end and the low end?”

What is your turnover rate in this role?  You can give a recruiter an aneurism with this question, so I saved it for last.  This is how many people leave this job.  It tells you about the culture and the kind of longevity you can expect in this position.  If people are staying for a long time (a low turnover rate) then it is probably a pretty good place to work.

Bear in mind, the recruiter or the hiring manager may lie through their teeth in response to these kinds of questions. If nothing else, it can give you something to bitch and whine about when you discover the truth, “When I interviewed they told me I could have a career here…those bastards…”

I have been told that some recruiters might react negatively to one or more of these questions.  I try and not live my life around what upsets recruiters.  Well, do you really want to work at a place that won’t share this information with you up-front?  If nothing else, shame on you for not getting this information in your interview.

Some author humor: You know you are a writer when you…

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I write in a lot of different genres, from true crime to sci-fi to military history.  Over the years I have accumulated a lot of experience in being an author.  This list covers a pretty wide variety of those genre’s.  It is intended for my author friends out there to give them a moment of self-indulgence.  As such, I present the following:

You know you are a writer when you…

…carry on conversations in your head (or out loud) with people that are either dead or who never existed.

…hate math but when you look at your Amazon author’s ratings you want to get into full algebra mode to try and figure out your book sales, ratings, etc.

…delete more words than ever appear in print.

…begrudgingly admit when an editor catches something you missed.

…wake up in the middle of the night with a brilliant idea…and in the morning you can only remember having the brilliant idea, not what it was.

…you look at an editor’s comment about a paragraph and say, “That’s cute, but there’s no fucking way I’m changing that!”

…have stacks of research and notes all around your PC and can find any single page in less than 20 seconds if called upon.

…experience dread when sitting at a lonely table at Barnes & Noble to autograph books.

…spend six hours reading to get three sentences of content and consider yourself productive.

…have referred to an editor as, “That Fuckity-fuck-fucking-fuck-faced-fucker.”

…don’t express emotion when a person in your life dies, but you weep when you kill one of your favorite characters.

…are writing stories in your sleep.

…critique other writer’s sources and footnotes.

…have told someone, “Yes, everyone has a novel in them.  That doesn’t mean they were meant to put it on paper.”

…think the character you are describing is George Clooney but the fans think it’s Jerry Lewis.

…are accused of having subtext in your work that doesn’t exist.

…devise new ways to procrastinate.

…get excited to learn a new feature of MS Word.

…have seen comments from an editor and said things out loud like, “How in the hell can you have a problem with the word ‘red’?”

…get into arguments with fans about continuity errors.

…get into arguments with characters that don’t really exist outside of your mind.

…can watch TV and know when a suspect is lying on a true crime show because you have studied how to spot it.

…name a character after some douchebag in your life, just so you can enjoy killing the character (slowly, without mercy.)

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…read your own words and physically cringe.

…see something on TV and you’re sure they lifted it from one of your works.

…hide Easter eggs in your manuscript just to see if readers find them.

…wince when someone sends you an unsolicited manuscript and expects you to read it and provide detailed input – by Wednesday – pro bono.

…have standing instructions to destroy your personal journals upon your death.

…consider caffeine the top of your food pyramid.

…have asked yourself, “What would my character do in this situation?”

…have boxes of research material you can’t toss because it was so hard to get in the first place.

…have been days when you have not seen sunlight because of your craft.

…lost your temper when someone has asked for a free copy of one of your books. “Can you shoot me a PDF of your latest book?”  “No.  Fuck no.”

…you own a hoodie that says, “Basically a Detective.”  (true story – thanks CrimeCon!)

…engage in debates with people about the range of lasers, particle projection cannons, and rail guns.

…have toys in your workspace to spark creativity.

…have spent 15 minutes rewriting a sentence only to delete it.

…know the archivists at the National Archives by name (or they know your birthday.)

…take notes of people’s personality and physical quirks to use later in your stories.

…own maps for planets that do not exist.

…have nightmares because of things you are writing.

…have books on your shelf that you wrote that you have not opened in years – and when you do, you critique your own work.

…secretly believe your characters are meeting and plotting against you.

…question other people’s/character’s sanity, but never your own.

…have debates with yourself over how a sentence can be interpreted…and lose the argument!

…appreciate why Hemmingway drank so much when he wrote.

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…have flipped-off the PC monitor after reading an idiotic review on Amazon.

…know the tunnel system under the Library of Congress as well as your own basement.

…go through Facebook for photos of people to use as characters in your novel.

…have to ask someone what day it is because you were so busy writing, you are no longer sure.

…never feel alone because of the voices in your head.

…get calls from your police friends asking, “Did you see that shit on TV?”

…can’t cook breakfast but have a solid understanding of forensics psychology and/or quantum mechanics.

…define a great day as, “having scored at the National Archives!” and It has nothing to do with sex.

…meet other authors and realize that there’s a reason you work in your home office alone.

…look forward to meeting your fans and dread it at the same time.

…repeat yourself often because you can no longer distinguish the conversations in your head and the ones you say out loud.  (true story)

…can’t remember the last time you ate, but can describe the last meal your character had in intimate detail.

…are actively considering taking up alcoholism because it might help hone your craft.

…you can’t change the oil on your car but you know when a fusion reactor doesn’t sound right on a BattleMech.
…have written up reviews of reviews you have received.  “Your review of my recent book demonstrates a third grade understanding of grammar, at best.  While I don’t use the words, ‘flatulating butthead,” often, they seem to apply in your case.” Or, the more popular, “Does your mommy know you are on the internet?”

…are caught by your spouse looking at pictures on your PC, and it isn’t porn, it’s autopsy photos.  (true story)

…read an interview where you are quoted, but you were never interviewed by the writer.

…cringe at questions about book production.  Example:  “When will this be available in Australia, as an audio book, in French?”  Rant Mode Engaged:  We are writers, not publishers.  We don’t know this shit.  We are the LAST to know this shit.

…are convinced that white van parked for three hours in front of your house is the FBI or Virginia State Police surveilling you. (true story)

…count comic books and movies as “research expenses.”

…watch a true crime show and mentally pick up on all of the procedural mistakes.

…have spoken in the voice of one of your characters, hopefully when alone and in private.

…like a book for things that no one else does.  “The plot structure was unorthodox and cool…I’m SO stealing it for my next project.”

…consider among your best friends, characters you created. Sidebar:  Do not use them for references on job applications.

…you get hang-up phone calls from burner phones and are convinced it is serial killers you have written about.  (true story)

…are unsure what day it is because you are so in-deep with a writing project.

…spend your whole life waiting to be recognized and asked for autographs, only to find each one to be an awkward and sometimes disturbing encounter.

…are recognized for something you wrote that you put little effort into; while the work you are most proud of is hardly read by fans.

…have missed one or more meals because of a sentence that is being a bitch and refusing to be written correctly.

…study things that most other people do not, just so you can be accurate.  Example:  Geographic profiling algorithms.

…have had an argument with a fan over a character you created, and killed.  “How could you have killed her that way?”  “You do realize that she’s not a real person, right? And I killed her because I created her!”

…have made someone uncomfortable at a dinner party when they ask you about your latest project.  “…and she was brutally stabbed repeatedly for a dozen times.  The splatter pattern was everywhere…”

…realize your search history on our PC ensures you are going to go to jail.  Examples:  Ligature strangulation.  Time to asphyxiate an adult.  Moving dead bodies.  Decomposition of human remains.  Unsolved serial killing sprees.  Murder kits. Note:  My wife is the safest person on the world.  If anything happens to her, I will go to jail on my search history alone.

….apply what you learned about police interrogations and spotting liars into your day-to-day interactions with other people.  “Oh, she’s lying, listen to how she responded by my question…”

…have no idea what kind or size of engine is in your car, but can rattle off the fusion reactors and manufacturers for every model of BattleMaster BattleMech ever produced.

…have maps of WWI battlefields (or similar locales) laying around your office because you never know when you might need them.

…experience both excitement and sheer terror when a new book is released.

…struggle telling people at your day job what you do at night.  “Technically, when I’m not here, I’m out fighting crime…”

…admire when another author gets it right!

Things to do to Annoy Your Dungeon Master (and other players) – D&D Humor

DM1

 

With Gen Con looming next week, I started pondering things that could be done to irritate dungeon masters and other players.  Now, I would never encourage anyone to try any of these.  They are written solely to give you a laugh.  Also, if you are a player at my table and try any of this – you are SO TOAST.

Enjoy and share!

  • Insist on looking up every spell, rule, etc., regardless of how trivial – then read them out loud, to the benefit and ire of everyone.
  • Take your time selecting the right die to roll, like five minutes.
  • Bring your phone to the game and spend an equal amount of gameplay sending texts – including to other players and the DM.
  • When you defeat an enemy, take their miniature, drop it to the floor, then stomp on it – hard.  “Take that!”
  • Insist on regular “pencil inspections.”
  • Accuse another person at the table of having loaded dice.  Demand a statistical test of 100 roles to prove it.
  • Insult the dungeon master in-character.  ‘Douchebag.”  “Did you just call me a douchebag?”  “No, that was my character talking to himself.”
  • When your dice fail, set fire to them – AT THE TABLE.
  • Quote rules accurately – from other game systems than the one you are playing.
  • Shake your dice for a minimum of 30 seconds before each roll.
  • Critique how other players or the dungeon master have painted their miniatures.  “I would have used a Strong Tone wash, but that’s just because I think appearance is important.  I guess you were going for more of a third grade result with that orc.”
  • Deliberately roll your die so it goes off the table – and then always say, “Critical Hit!” when you pick up.
  • Insist that other players keep their “cursed dice” away from yours.
  • Take a victory lap around the table every time you are victorious.  Insist the other players follow you.
  • Misuse pop culture references, preferably at the wrong time.
  • Only respond with questions.  “Are you using your long sword?”  “What makes you think that?”  “I need to know what weapon you are using.”  “What do you think I’m using?”
  • Go out of your way to jostle dice on the table after rolling in hopes of a better result.
  • Use a character creator app on your phone but don’t print out your sheet for the game.
  • Use an ink pen for your character sheet, and re-copy it after every encounter.  “Just a few more minutes guys…”
  • Bring your own dry-erase marker to alter the maps drawn by the dungeon master…during the battle.  “There’s no tree there!”  “There is now!”
  • Bring your own musical accompaniment on your phone and play it when it will be the most disruptive.
  • Break out playing cards and poker chips and use them during combat as if they have some sort of game impact but explain nothing.  Example:  When you take a hit, count out a number of chips and toss them down in front of the DM.
  • Demand the Dungeon Master, “show me that rule,” on every action in the game.
  • Paint your miniatures – during the game.
  • Come up with your own character classes.
  • Experiment with the amount of cologne you can wear just prior to the start of play.
  • Blatantly “borrow” (steal) dice from others at the table.
  • Eat two cans of beans three hours prior to the start of play.  (Remember Blazing Saddles?)  Corollary:  Ask other players to pull your finger – often.
  • (For US Players) Start using the metric system for all measurements.
  • Move your miniature, then move it back.  Then move it a different direction, then move it back.  Do this no less than eight times for every move you do – never taking your fingers off the mini.
  • Inform your other players what they did wrong in the previous turn.  Make a point to rub their nose in it.  “Only a real moron would have done what you did…”
  • Doze off.
  • Leave the game to go to the bathroom — and take the rules book with you.  Eeww…
  • Every time you roll a hit, say, “As foretold in the prophesy…”
  • Your first action in any city should be to plot burning it to the ground.
  • Three words – Lick Your Dice. Four words:  Lick the DM’s dice.
  • Cast magic spells that do not exist.  “But I have Orc Explosion in my spell slot…”
  • When in a city, insist on purchasing a 12 foot pole, “because 10 feet is never enough.”
  • Map your parties progress, on a four-by-four foot square piece of graph paper.
  • Doodle on the game map.  Use a Sharpee.
  • Refer to all of the other player’s characters as “Moron.”  “So If I understand what Moron is saying, we should search this room for traps.”
  • Deliberately pick the wrong dice to roll, then question it when someone catches you.  “Are you sure that’s not a D12?”
  • Have your character play dead every time there is an encounter.
  • When your character is in a local tavern, immediately poison the beer and wine even the drinks of the members of your party.
  • Switch chairs with anyone at the table that goes to the bathroom or leaves the room…act as if nothing odd has taken place.
  • Wear a hat the symbolizes your character.  If you don’t own a hat, make one at the table.
  • Play a bard and sing any of your responses to any questions you have – even if the songs don’t rhyme.
  • Bring the wrong rule book for the game but constantly be flipping through it as if you are looking for something in particular.
  • When you quote from the rules book, hold it upside down.
  • Don’t move on from a room in a dungeon until you have checked every crack and crevice at least five times.
  • Challenge the DM every time you defeat an enemy.  “Really?  That’s all you’ve got – some lame ogre?  Throw something at us that can actually do some damage.”
  • Look into the space and not respond until questioned.  When prodded, respond, “Sorry…this theater of the mind was boring, I was looking for a new channel…”
  • Tell the dungeon master to “grow a pair” when your character defeats a monster.
  • Whenever the dungeon master starts providing flavor text, IAIA  – Interrupt and immediately attack.
  • Bring coconuts shells to the game and clop them together every time your character mounts a horse to ride (ala Monty Python).
  • Point out the historical errors in armor and weapons in your game.  “You know the broadsword would not have been available in the same period as the cutlass…”
  • Refuse to be drawn in with all obvious plot hooks.  “Save the princess?  Screw her, she got herself into that tower, she can get her ass out on her own.  Why would I risk my life for her?”
  • When you get a bad die roll, use a Sharpee to change the number to a more favorable one.
  • Create colorful backstories for your characters that create nothing but problems for the other players and the DM/GM.  “Oh, my character screams any time he witnesses magic being used.”
  • Play inappropriate sound effects from your phone at critical points during the session.   (I leave the definition of “inappropriate” in your hands.)
  • Create your own character classes, skills, talents, etc., without the foreknowledge of anyone at the table.  “I’ve got this guys, my character is a Fifth Level Mime.”
  • Have your character speak in the voice of:
    • Scooby Doo (or Shaggy)
    • Gilbert Gottfried
    • Casey Kasem
    • Any of the cast of Family Guy (except Meg)
    • Harry Caray
    • Lurch
    • Ronald Reagan
    • Bozo the Clown
    • Adam West
  • Creature your own units of measurement and call out distances in those.  “I am 32 half-heads away, so I should be in range.”
  • Use finger-paints to record damage or treasure on your character sheet.  “I use red for hit points because it’s the color of blood…”
  • Incorporate visual effects such as fireworks, smoke bombs, etc, into your role playing.
  • For every hit point your character takes, do a shot of tequila.  When you are healed, make yourself throw up.
  • Call “Dibs” every time a creature is killed.  Proclaim it loudly!
  • Instead of miniatures, use live insects to represent monsters.
  • Create a new feat – pyromania – and use it.
  • Say, “That’s not how we do it in my gaming group,” when this is the ONLY gaming group you play in.
  • Claim you always have advantage.  When pressed, get creative.  “I have advantage because my character was dipped in awesome sauce as a child.”
  • Claim you want to rest up for a night’s sleep, every hour on the hour.
  • Twenty-minutes into play tell the DM, “Oh, I’m sorry, I can’t make it tonight to play.”  Remain seated.
  • Harvest pointless organs from your victims.  “Would you like to see my collection of orc sweat glands?”
  • Use a paintball gun with red paint to simulate damage to the party by shooting the other players…(PS.  They really hate this one.)
  • Wear a t-shirt that reads, “My Dungeon Master Sucks,” to the game session.
  • Proclaim “I loot the body!” before the battle begins – every time.
  • Initiate a belching contest at the game table mid-session.
  • Have your bard practice music during his watch at night to deprive the other players characters their rest.  “So the bagpipes are not soothing to sleep by?  Good to know…”  (Technically speaking, playing a bard is irritating enough.)

Office Humor – Things to never put on your resume’, CV, or cover letter

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Thinking these things is okay.  Putting them in writing…not so much.  Enjoy!

  • Meet with me and prepare to be dazzled.
  • If you have read my resume’ to this point, clearly you recognize the talent I can bring to you and your team.
  • I am loyal to a fault.  Please feel free to contact me at my current work email or phone number.
  • I am available for interviews after 10:30am.
  • While my availability could be interpreted as having been fired or laid off; I want to assure you, my departure was completely voluntary and even if it wasn’t, I was not the only one affected.
  • When I leave my current position I am sure productivity and morale will drop dramatically, but I am willing to take that risk to join your organization.
  • On Resume’:  Career Goals – Work for a company not as screwed up as the one I currently work for.
  • I am willing to relocate, but only if you pay for it.
  • My current company promised rapid advancement, but never delivered, despite my protests on the subject.
  • I am in high demand so you may want to extend an offer based on my resume’ alone.
  • I feel bad about looking for a new role since the place will fall apart without my leadership.
  • My attorney and I look forward to your offer letter.
  • You may reach out to my current manager as a reference.  She is the one that encouraged me to pursue other opportunities.
  • My reason for desiring a new position is that my current employer refuses to recognize the brilliance I bring to the table.
  • I am content in my current role, but they refuse to promote me, despite my acts of personal heroism in the office.
  • I don’t come cheap.
  • I take teamwork seriously, even after hours.  I have played a pivotal role (cleric) in a Dungeons and Dragons party for the last six years of our current campaign.  If that isn’t teamwork, I don’t know what is.
  • On Resume’:  Accomplishments:  Earned over 450,000 Marriott points in the last year alone.
  • My reason for leaving my current role is that my employer is asking me to work unreasonable hours, such as starting at 8am.
  • This is your lucky day because today you have discovered me!
  • While I may lack all of the skills and experience you are looking for, I make it up with a can-do attitude!
  • The following are sample comments from my last performance review…
  • I am not bragging, but I could probably do your job more effectively than you do.
  • I am pursuing other career options at the time because my current company undervalues my contributions and have restricted our expense policy.
  • You are so fortunate to be reading this resume’.  I am sure you will be promoted based on the offer you are about to tender me!
  • I am pursuing a new company because I was not promoted when others, who were clearly inferior, were.  (Note:  If this was a good excuse I would be changing jobs annually.)
  • I am the kind of person that is always growing.  Last year I took over 195 hours of learning alone!
  • According to Google, your company would be a perfect fit for my personality and work style.
  • The hours I work are not nearly as important as what I bring to the table…something my current employer simply doesn’t understand.
  • After reading my attached resume’, you will realize that I have made your decision to fill this role easy and quick.  When should I start?
  • I am willing to travel as part of this position, but I won’t go to the following countries…
  • Once your meet me face-to-face, I’m sure you will wonder, “How did we get along before she got here?”
  • On Resume’:  Career Goals:  Work for an organization that compensates me for the brilliance I bring to the team, rather than silly things like profitability, billable hours, or delivering tangible work product.
  • I feel sad in looking for another job because my current employer is bound to go out of business without me.
  • I look forward to your call.  I have several questions about your company’s mission statement.
  • If this position doesn’t pay at least (insert dollar amount) then you do not need to read further.
  • I assume your company is pet-friendly.
  • On Resume’:  Career Goals – A salary consummate with the lifestyle I so richly deserve.
  • My involvement on a recent engagement persuaded the client to add three more staff to our team, just to assist on my deliverable!  Imagine what I could do for your firm.
  • Because of the demand for me, I will need a written commitment in advance regarding promotion
  • Before we proceed with your inevitable offer, I need to know the details on your medical benefits.
  • I see my applying for this position as a chance for you to live up to your company’s value statement.
  • My division lost less money last year than the other divisions because of my leadership.
  • Please use this phone number, not the one on the resume’.  That line has been disconnected.
  • On Resume’:  Hobbies include political protests that are against key social issues, macramé, visiting serial killer murder locations.
  • I am moving on in my career because my mother feels my current employer undervalues my contributions.
  • The gaps in my resume’ are no reflection on my work performance, a lot of people were laid off during those periods.
  • My staff often referred to me as “The Head Honcho” which tells you how influential I am.
  • I am pursuing a position with your organization because my mentor suggested that I am a solid fit for your company.
  • One of my strengths is I won’t compromise my values, unless you pay me enough.
  • On a Resume’:  Words used to describe me – “Dynamic, Innovative, Challenges Authority, and Undervalued by Leadership.”
  • Your days of searching for a perfect candidate are over!
  • Just to clarify, any images you find of my on the internet were NOT put there with my expressed permission.  I am seeking legal action against those who posted those photos and please do not hold those images against me during the hiring process.
  • My mother asked me to ask you the following question…
  • On a Resume’:  My low GPA reflects instructors that were sub-par and unreasonably early class start times.
  • If you don’t hire me, I encourage you to contribute to my favorite charity _______________.
  • You don’t want to look back five years from now and say to yourself, “I had a chance to hire that guy and didn’t.”
  • I don’t want to say I walk on water, but I can cross a lake without getting wet.
  • I am excited to see what your signing bonuses are and how they compare to the rest of the industry.
  • Because of legal reasons I cannot travel out of state or be available on weekends…but other than that, I’m your new go-to-guy.
  • While my title seems rather ordinary, I have been called, “the glue that holds this place together.”  So consider that in your decision making.
  • If you were to Google me you would see the phrase, “Anti-Authoritative Risk Taker,” which just about sums up what I can bring to your company.
  • In search of perfection?  I’d say you’d found it with this attached resume’.
  • I suggest you keep this introduction letter, because my autograph is bound to be worth a lot in years to come.
  • I am unavailable on weekends for work due to court-required community service.
  • I can save your company a lot of money in terms of recruitment – simply hire me right now based on the attached resume’!
  • Before we get too far, what is your company’s expense and travel spending limits?
  • Frankly I should be much further in my career, but my manager leaves a great deal to be desired.
  • It should be noted that several of my references are leaders in our industry.
  • My anger management instructor said I am the most improved in her class, which should count for something.
  • I am seeking a new career trajectory because I was falsely accused of telling the truth about the incompetence of my manager to her supervisor.
  • My ratings have been a three for the last few years, but in fairness, a three at our company is a five at other companies (per what we have been told by our leadership.)  So I’m basically a five…
  • I feel it is time for a move, and your company was the least objectionable option.
  • Resume’ Personal Information:  Weight, 197lbs, Height, 6 ft.  Able to bench press 230lbs, highest ranking team member of the Red Cobras Squad on Call of Duty 4.
  • I am currently pursuing a degree, so I will need to know your tuition reimbursement plan in advance of accepting an offer with your company.
  • Think of it this way, you are hiring someone who is likely going to be your boss someday.
  • I hope you can be flexible with interviewing schedules, my father wants to take part in those discussions and he is quite busy.

Like these?  Check out my book:  Business Rules: The Cynic’s Guidebook to the Corporate Overlords

What Everyone is Thinking (but not saying) About Your PowerPoint Presentation…

PowerPoint
And we all know how things turned out for Ned Stark…

I make no small qualms that I loathe PowerPoint almost as much as I hate attending mindless meetings.  PowerPoint has reprogrammed generations of people in business to think in poorly written, vague bullet points.  While some might argue that it makes us be concise, it reality it is a crutch for people that perform crappy presentations.  Some teams actually use PowerPoint decks as reading material…I guess Word was too complex for them.  Morons.  PowerPoint is to documentation what an abacus is to a computer.

I had a manager once, (She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named) who was so obsessed over PowerPoint, she was concerned about people reading them.  “What if this gets forwarded to the wrong person and they read it?”  So we had to create slide decks for this harpy-from-hell that could be understood if you knew nothing about the subject of the deck.  Seriously.  It wasn’t as if we had plans for making an atomic bomb in your basement in the decks we produced.  I have long suspected that she stupidly fretted over someone reading her material without her being in the room to bask in their praise over what she had produced.

I spend a lot of my corporate life in mind-numbing PowerPoint presentations under the guise of being productive meetings.  The majority of PowerPoint decks are mediocre at best, and at worst, they blow chucks.  I have actually started to shift to doing meetings without PowerPoint.  What I have found is that people are so conditioned to seeing the tool in a meeting that it confuses them when you don’t put up slides.  They get nervous and visibly uncomfortable – which I love.  “Aren’t you going to put your slides up?”  “Fu*k no.”  People have actually frowned at me when I tell them that I don’t want to use slides to make my point.  Presentation is an art form that has been corrupted by the evil programming elves at Microsoft.  This PowerPoint/mind-control is so sinister it could be a plot in a James Bond film.

Having vested much of my day-job in meetings under the dull glow of PowerPoint, it is time for me to impart some knowledge.  Let me share with you what people are likely to be thinking, but not saying, during your next sucky PowerPoint presentation:

  • Really?  Forty-six slides to make your point?   That many slides makes me wonder what you are really up to.   What are you hiding?  I’ll bet I can find it.  Game on!
  • Clearly what you define as important has no bearing in reality, as evidenced by your presentation.
  • You can stop reading me your slides.  If you were going to read them to me you should have just sent them to me in an email.  This may shock you but I learned to read years ago.
  • You said, “I’ll keep this short…”  and that was an hour ago. We all want to kill you and some are taking notes on how to do it.
  • We should make prisoners at GITMO sit through your presentation.
  • Pointing out that your slide is hard to read tells me you don’t care.
  • Based on your slides, you clearly worship Satan given that the devil is in the details — which is where you are taking us.
  • Your bullet points read like a drunken teenager’s text messages.  You seem to be a vowel or two short here.
  • A six-point font?  What is this, an eye exam?  Can’t you see we are all squinting?
  • If you are going to use clip art, at least don’t use 1992 quality clip art.
  • No, your graphic does NOT make your point clearer.  In fact, it achieves quite the opposite.
  • Making something bold and red insults me a little.  I know what is important.
  • When I read that slide I keep asking myself, “What is he/she trying to say?”  Even re-reading it leaves me confused.  A bit of my soul is dying inside me as a result.  I hate you.
  • I am not paying attention to what you are saying because your font choice is distracting me.
  • All of your arguments are invalid because of your spelling and grammatical mistakes on one slide.
  • Your use of graphics is making me cry on the inside.
  • Incorporating meaningless buzzwords and phrases does not help your presentation.  You’re not fooling anyone.
  • This all sounds peachy-keen – what does it cost?
  • Don’t blame the projector for your failure to organize your thoughts.
  • If I had wanted to read a book, I would have brought my Kindle.
  • It is hard to believe that we paid you to produce such a hideous slide deck.
  • This presentation is so dull, I am imagining innovative and creative excuses to leave the room.
  • I have done the math.  It is impossible to cover the number of slides you have left in the time we have allotted.
  • My four year old could have produced a better graph, and she’s limited to crayons.
  • Presentations like this is why I am on anti-depressants.
  • I wonder how much it cost us in your time and effort to put together this travesty of a slide deck?
  • Rarely has so much effort gone into presenting such a lie.  You should be congratulated – or shot.
  • I am waiting for the right moment to destroy your entire premise so that the audience will see me as the genius I believe myself to be.
  • It’s probably a bad time to let you know your fly is open.
  • If your graphic can’t fit on a slide, it’s not worth us looking at.
  • I love your material but your abuse of transitions between slides qualifies as a war crime.
  • We’re about due for someone to raise a meaningless point or analogy in an attempt to ruin the hard work you put in on this presentation.
  • If they had told me in business school that I would be doing this for a living (watching your PowerPoint) I would have pursued a liberal arts degree instead.
  • We are all silently curious…are you going to make a point sometime in the next hour or so?  Seriously, any point will do.  Just pick one…please!
  • Oh, I see you Bob – checking your watch.  We both want this to end.  Who in the hell still owns a watch? More importantly, what time is it?
  • If I could take a nap right now, I would. The fact that I am not asleep is worthy of a spot-bonus.
  • There are at least three people watching this presentation that will tear it apart just to be assholes.
  • Your illegal and unethical use of several copywrittten images only makes us hate you a little bit more.
  • Oh joy, you’re using an acronym that no one in the room knows.  You should know, it doesn’t make you any smarter.
  • Because you didn’t follow the company standard template for PowerPoint, I am ignoring everything you are presenting on.
  • It is only a matter of moments before someone questions the validity of your data.
  • My only concern with your presentation is that I wonder if I can muffle my fart – and if I do, can I muffle its smell?
  • Out of your 26 slides, there is only one that matters.  Why didn’t we just start there?
  • Do you realize that you have the wrong audience in the room (on the call) for the material you are presenting?  Do you care?
  • This presentation is all that is between me and a much-needed trip to the bathroom.  Please hurry…
  • As I watch you flip through these slides I cannot help but think that we need to improve our recruitment and hiring standards.
  • I should have had a friend send me a text so I had an excuse to leave this meeting.  Lesson learned…
  • This is an hour of my life I will never get back and will completely forget by the end of the day.
  • I can, and will, derail your entire presentation with a single question – just to prove I can.
  • My phone is vibrating in my pocket and that is much more exciting than this slide show.
  • It would be nice if you told us at some point what the purpose of this meeting is.
  • Please God, don’t let someone say that we need to have another meeting on this subject.
  • Nothing makes me more nauseous than someone saying, “I’ve run out of time, let me go through the last eight slides in two minutes.”
  • You didn’t build in time for questions?  You really thought your material would answer every stupid thing we could come up with?  Really?
  • Why are the boring presentations always scheduled for late in the day on a Friday?  Why are you always the one presenting them?
  • The colors you have chosen are making my eyes bleed on the inside.
  • It’s bad enough your slides are dull, but your droning makes me want to start cutting myself again.
  • The person you rehearsed this with lied to you…it sucks.
  • I am smiling at you only because it makes you think I care.
  • An appendix to your horrible presentation?  And it’s longer than the presentation?  This just became a homework assignment you douchebag.
  • If you’re going to deflect questions to the end – you’d better leave time to answer them.
  • Stop saying things like, “As you clearly can see…” or “This slide points out…”  Let me be the judge of what your slides say or don’t say.  Otherwise, why have me here in the first place?
  • Having our graphics team make a pretty graphic of your material is akin to polishing a turd.

 

Work De-Motivators – Things That Sap Morale in the Workplace

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I have learned over the years more about de-motivation than actual motivation.  Usually I obtain this knowledge while fulfilling the role of “whipping boy” for less-than-able managers (not at my current employer of course!)  What I have discovered is that when you look at what kills motivation you often can gain the important knowledge – what DOES help spur motivation.  Bear in mind I’m work in Information Technology, so my perspective can be slightly skewed – sometimes more than others.

So, in an effort to expand our knowledge, here are my big de-motivators list – in no particular order:

Seemingly random decisions by leadership.  The word “seemingly” is important here.  It’s actually pretty rare when a leader makes a totally random decision.  There’s almost always some reasoning behind it – some context for the decision.  Often times though, I’ve found, that the decision is communicated and not the reasoning or context of why the decision was made.  Without understanding “why” something is being done, the only conclusion I’m sometimes left with is that the decision was made by pulling it out of their collective asses.

Cutting back training. I worked in the auto industry – so I understand what tough economic times are.  Yes, you do have to cut expenses from time to time – and training is the proverbial victim of this.  Training is one area I am sensitive too.  Training is a pact between the organization and the individual. Training individuals says, “We see you being around here for a while and want to optimize you.”  When training is constricted to the point where it isn’t happening – the effects on many people is that they don’t believe that the organization cares about them as individuals.

Leap before you look leadership.  “Any jackass can burn down a barn,” or so the old saying goes.  Making a decision without all of the pertinent information can sap a team’s motivation.  I have seen current management buzzwords about “fail forward,” where people are willing to make mistakes to learn from them.  This kind of thinking creates the illusion of innovation, when in reality it is frustrating to the staff.

Analysis paralysis.  The opposite of leap before you look – this de-motivator is a lack of decisions making.  Sometimes the decisions are easy to make – but analysis paralysis is a major drain on the energy of an organization.  The quest for absolute perfect knowledge and buy-in is often the same as not taking a stand at all. Managers who constantly look for more data are often fearful of making the right decision.

Promotions that seem…well, crazy.  We’ve all been there when the promotion list comes out and we say, “What the hell?”  When promotions are given out to, well, morons of individuals whose only competency is killing senior leadership’s butt…it can be highly demotivating.

No apparent roadmap of where we are going.  I am most effective when I know what I am working towards.  I don’t need all of the details, but I like knowing a little bit of the end-state vision.  When I understand how my work gets us all further towards a goal – I get a sense of satisfaction.  Pretty simple really.  When I have no idea what the goal is I have no idea whether I am part of the problem or part of the solution.  Managers who say it is not about the destination, but the journey, are just deflecting that they don’t know where they are going.  Have you ever taken a family driving vacation, with the kids, in the summer, with no destination in mind?  In fact, a lack of vision can lead people to not take any steps at all out of fear they might be doing the wrong thing.

The Teflon Factor with leaders.  When presented with an issue or problem, a good leader will take an active role in resolving it.  A de-motivating leader will look to his or her team and say, “You people all have a problem.”  Accountability is a critical element of motivation of teams.   People look to managers/leaders to be in the same boat they are.  Managers that deflect issues down to their team erodes motivation of those teams.

Rewards and recognition applied unequally.  A messed up rewards and recognition system has the exact opposite of its intended purpose.

Conflict avoidance.  Some managers harbor the illusion that all conflict is bad.  That’s not true at all.  Conflict can often be protective.  Yes, it’s uncomfortable, but sometimes it forces people to deal with organizational or people issues that have to be resolved for the team(s) to grow.  Dodging conflict, ignoring conflict – these things drain organizational energy.

An attitude of, “You should be thankful you have a job…”  That’s odd, I thought I had a career?  When under pressure, some managers resort to the attitude of, “you’re lucky we keep you around.”  First off, let me tell you if I feel lucky.  Secondly, nine-times-out-of-ten when someone has told me I’m lucky I have a job – I feel quite the opposite.

Micromanagement.  There are times we all need a little direction…well, all of you…frankly I’m good.  Seriously though, some “leaders” think that leading means telling everyone how to do their job.  Most employees don’t need that.  They need a manager to run interference for them, remove obstacles, not tell them what color to make a Times Roman font in PowerPoint so that it stands out.

My purpose was not the come across negative…snarky, yes, negative, no.  If you look at this list you can see some gems on what provide motivation – the exact opposite of these:

  • Provide teams with concrete decisions and why they were made.
  • Invest in your people (train them).
  • Make informed decisions.
  • Make timely decisions to respond to the business.
  • Lay out a convincing and compelling vision of where the organization is going
  • Leaders need to hold themselves accountable to their teams.
  • Apply rewards and recognition fairly and proportionally to the value of the work being rewarded.
  • Employ constructive conflict techniques to resolve issues.
  • Let employees tell you (and the rest of the organization) that they are glad to be part of the team.
  • Tell your people the results you want and let them amaze you as to how they do it.

Thoughts?  Rebuttals?  Recriminations? Did you like this?  Go read my book, Business Rules, The Cynic’s Guidebook to the Corporate Overlords.  (Catchy title eh?)

Annual BattleTech April Fool’s Humor – BattleTech Products That Never Came to Market

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MechWarrior Mullet Wash?  

Every year on April Fools’ Day, I try to remember to drop a little bit of humor for the fan base.  Last year, it was a tribute to BattleTech Fan Fiction:  https://blainepardoe.wordpress.com/2017/04/01/battletech-april-fools-day-operation-total-freakin-awesomeness/  I managed to offend, at my last count, 214 fan factions in the BattleTech universe with that gem.  So I figured I would go for the gold this year.

This year’s April Fools’ gift; a glimpse into the catalog of BattleTech products that never quite made the cut.  Back in the heyday of FASA, a lot of this kind of stuff might very well have been on the table.  Remember when FASA would put products in the catalog and never deliver them?  Me too.  So, pretend for a moment that I dug these gems out of my ‘archives.’ These are products that got shelved for one reason or another – usually good taste prevailing or because of outright legal issues or protests by various segments of the fan community.

Succession Wars – The Operational/Tactical Board Game.  In the end- there can only be one.  That’s right, the big one you’ve been asking for.  Fly your company to any world, land, and slug it out using Total Warfare BattleTech rules.  The map covers the entire Inner Sphere including the planets, on a tactical level!  Exciting?  Yes.  Map size, roughly 22 square miles (not including the Periphery booster pack to be released this fall).  Succession Wars ships will all miniatures of every single ‘Mech, jumpship, dropship, and tank used in the four wars; roughly five overseas standard shipping container’s worth.  The painting set alone consists of ten 50 gallon drums of everything from Steiner Blue to Kurita blood red.  Two collector’s dice and a 5,128 page hard cover rules book is included, complete with painting instructions for every ‘Mech, in every unit, in every war.  Playing time after an exhaustive set up – roughly 4.7 years (the Third Succession Wars Introductory Scenario).  The box art alone is billboard sized, perfect for your man (or Clan) cave.  Pre-Orders get a custom Hanse Davion miniature.  (Note: Some assembly required).

BattleTech Formal Dinnerware.  Every fan has wanted the dining plate service from the Hanse Davion/Melissa Steiner wedding, now they are available.  Relive that moment when Maximillian Liao grabbed those plates because they had the worlds of the Confederation on them.  Gotta collect them all!

Clan Home Tattoo Kit.  Ever want that Jade Falcon on your chest, of those patterned neural implants on your face?  Of course you have.  Now you can.  With the Clan Home Tattoo Kit you can get your own battery powered tattoo needle and all of the colors of the Clans – Jade Falcon Green, Wolf Red…all of the popular one.  With official BattleTech clan templates, you can be the most stylish player in your group.  Forget painting miniatures, you have a whole body that can be marked up.

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Comes in glow in the dark ink! 

Joanna Brand Prozac. ™ Anyone can take mood altering drugs, but you’re a BattleTech fan – you demand more.  With Joanna Brand Prozac, with a special slow-release fury inhibitor, you can be calm some of the time and still have those outrageous outbursts you can’t get with off-the-shelf Prozac. Control your inner rage and fury with Joanna Brand Prozac.

Clan Coupling Lotion.  For Him and Her. Most Clan Warriors like it rough and this coupling lotion is designed just to create that intimacy.  The men’s tube is a special mix of ghost pepper juice to make you howl in agony while the women’s tube contains a micro-sand grit to add to your mutual pleasure.  Nothing says loving like Clan coupling! (Note this product does not prevent freebirths.  Use with birth control or sterilization drugs.)

The Word of Blake’s Greatest Hits CD.  Sung by the Hilton Head Choral Society, these musical chants are designed to help you relax as you do the Blessed Blake’s work.  A must for lovers of Gregorian chants accompanied by bagpipes, whale-song with a touch of disco and gansta rap.  Includes the hits, “I Wanna Watch the Whole Universe Burn,” “That’s Not Our Jihad,” “I’ve Got that Andurien Feeling,” “Doesn’t Everyone Give Warships For Christmas?” and, “I’ve got the Blessed Blake On My Mind.” Perfect for those moments when you are contemplating killing all of your coworkers in a fit of hysteria and rage and setting the building on fire, just for grins.  Forget karma – spread a little chaos with some wonderful and relaxing dance and meditation tunes.

Super Abs with Vlad Ward Workout DVD’s.  Building off of the highly successful, “Nicolai Malthus Zumba” DVD series, the Super Abs with Vlad Ward focuses on his unique brand of exercise and hatred of freebirths to create rock-hard stomach muscles.

Supplement:  The Lower Castes of the Clans.  Ever want to role-play a factory worker, or perhaps a delivery boy in the Clan occupation zone?  The mysterious lower castes are finally revealed!  Anyone can pilot an OmniMech, but it takes a scientist to come up with a cure for a warrior’s insomnia or preparing a meal for your NPC family!  The grocery shopping tables offer a great view into the diet needs of the lower castes.  This is your opportunity to explore this fascinating and often gripping parts of Clan society.

BattleTech ‘Mech-Scale Airbrush.  Ever get frustrated using your standard model airbrush with your tiny BattleTech mini?  We have heard your cries and are releasing a new micro-airbrush, specifically for painting your never-ending collection of ‘Mechs.  This airbrush releases an almost invisible stream of paint, so small you can get that cockpit window to sparkle! Comes with a micro-sized air compressor and an eyedropper for putting in the paint!

ComStar – The Card Game of Building Trust and Betraying Mankind.  (Marketing Department Note:  Kudos on the catchy name!)  In this exciting fast-paced card game you try and maintain your HPG network while secretly raising an army to destroy your fellow players.  Avoid the Deliberate Blackout or Sudden But Inevitable Betrayal cards!

The Republic of the Sphere Domino Set.  In this set of 300 dominos, one in every 12 falls over on its own, making setting up the pieces a real challenge.

Kai Allard Liao Hair Gel. Ever wanted to get that slick-backed greasy-boy look for your hair.  Now you too can look like the champion of the Solaris arenas.  Kai Allard Liao Hair Gel comes in three flavors (including Minty PPC Blast) and four colors (including the very popular Yen-Lo-Wang florescent orange!).  Want to impress the ladies, slick up with Kai Allard Liao hair gel.  (Marketing Department Note:  Tests on lab animals shows this causes a rash in less than 30% of people who use the product – make sure we put a tiny warning label on it.)

Game Scale Game Map Set.  Let’s face it, you’ve always wished the BattleTech miniatures were built to scale with the hexes.  We could shrink the minis, or we can make the hexes larger.  In this option, the game scale map set, each hex measures six inches, making our maps roughly 9 by 8.5 feet in size.  If you’re gonna play, play big! Finally your minis will look to scale!  With foam backing each map weighs less than 90 lbs!

Beta Strike.  Alpha Strike made for quick play.  Beta Strike goes the other direction.  With eight pages of damage tracking, you will be able to track damage to each myomer bundle, every PPC capacitor, every laser optic unit.  With over 2000 pages of rules, Beta Strike takes roughly three hours to play 30 seconds of battle time.  Beta Strike uses real world physics too!  Machineguns have real world ranges, as do missiles.  So detailed, so realistic, you can smell your granddaddy’s sweat inside your neurohelmet!

Tiaret Nevversan Bikini Wax Kit.  Nobody does body waxes like Elementals.  Tiaret Nevversan Bikini Wax can be used to remove unsightly hair from those intimate places, can strip rust off of iron or steel, and can even be used to strip paint off your car!  FDA approval pending.

ComStar Smart Phones.  Modeled after a 1980’s Motorola Cellular Phone.  Three out of every ten will secretly record your calls and share your messages with your enemies.

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ComStar – We Put the W in Quwality! 

Attack of the Sentient Chickens Sourcebook.  You thought that Far Country was a one-off fluke?  No way.  The chickens are back and this time they come piloting BattleMechs!  Complete stats on the Chick Filet and Colonel Sander’s Battalions, and the new Fricassee, Hot Wing, Honey BBQ, and Clucker Class BattleMechs.  New weapons include the extended range Kenny Rogers’ Roaster-Flamer.   The chickens are back and this time it is war.  Saddle up, it’s a finger-licking fight to the finish!

BattleTech Tee-Shirts.  This is your chance to make a true fashion statement.

  • Information is ammunition!
  • Don’t mind me, I’m following the Exodus Road.
  • Task Force Serpent:  I went all the way to Huntress but all I got was this stupid t-shirt.
  • Terra or Bust! (with your choice of invading clan logo).
  • The only good Wolverine is a dead Wolverine.
  • Schizophrenic?  The Free World’s League Wants You!
  • I’ve got your triple-strength myomer right here (arrow pointing down towards to waistline).
  • I Conquered the FRR and All I Got Was This T-Shirt.
  • Word of Blake – Putting the Fun in Jihad’s For the Last 12 Years.
  • House Liao – Beating off Davion Aggression for Centuries (Marketing Department Note:  Make “Beating Off Davion” highlighted in red…snicker)
  • Cuddle-up with a Clanner.
  • I’m with ComStar so you can trust me (wink)
  • I was cool long before I became Unseen.
  • Once you go Bounty Hunter you never go back.
  • Tupac killed Natasha Kerensky.
  • At least my mother was not a trueborn!
  • Smoke Jaguar = Party Animal!
  • There’s no league like a Star League.
  • Wilson’s Hussars – You miss us, don’t you?
  • You mess with me, you mess with my entire Clan (Available with All Clan Logos in the background)
  • First one to Terra wins!
  • Need an Exterminator? Contact Malvina Hazen at ComStar Account 2003157A
  • (Image of four Atlas’s)  Steiner Recon Lance Reporting for Duty!
  • (House Marik purple shirt) I’m with Stupid (with arrow pointing up.)
  • Once you go Fidelis, you never go back.
  • Remember Outreach! (with glow in the dark mushroom cloud)
  • Elementals – Genetically Engineered in the All The Right Places
  • Waco’s Rangers – “Curse your sudden and inevitable betrayal.”
  • Clan Widowmaker – When you absolutely positively need to stab your comrades in the back…
  • Tanks are nothing but roller sakes for BattleMechs.
  • I’m old school, I pilot Locusts and Chargers.
  • Once you go Clicky-Tech, you never go back.
  • Somedays you roll boxcars on every hit location.
  • Trueborn on the streets, Freebirth between the sheets.
  • ComStar – When it absolutely, positively has to be there in a week or two.
  • Focht off!
  • Some days you’re a Sea Fox, some days you’re a Diamond Shark.
  • Mechwarrior:  “What do you Highlanders wear under your kilt?”  Northwind Highlander:  “Yer girlfriend’s lipstick laddie!”
  • I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve taken a PPC shot to the head.
  • BattleMechs – Laying waste to mankind…just because.
  • Clan Tin Sloth – Because we all take this game to damned seriously
  • Fortress Republic Security Systems.  Keeping mankind safe for 15 years-ish
  • I’m so hot I’ve got a +3 to hit
  • Old School BattleTech.  I remember defending a world with a Company of ‘Mechs and when ice ships, salvage, and periphery pirates were problems.
  • Real ‘Mechs Don’t Click
  • There is no honor in artillery bombardments
  • Nicholas Kerensky – Making House Liao Look Sane for Centuries
  • “I challenge you to a hexagon of equals!”
  • I’m about to go surat on your sorry ass!
  • You can take my needler rifle when you can peel my cold dead fingers from around it.
  • BattleMechs – Stomping Infantry into a gooey red paste for over three centuries.
  • Savannah Masters – Death From Below.
  • Don’t mess with me, I got my start on Solaris VII.
  • When the going gets tough, the tough go on Exodus.

Devlin Stone Whiskey.  Like the Republic, it is so smooth that it is almost tasteless.  You have to put it on ice for 20 years in order to drink it, and when you do, it kind of sucks.  But the bottle is a collector’s item, so we know you’ll buy it.  Best served with RoS Saltine Crackers (catalog number 3025)

Solaris VII Sunglasses. Ray Bans are for wannabe hipsters.  The really cool look are Solaris VII Sunglasses.  Perfect for those sporting events where someone may be killed.  Solaris Sunglasses are made of shatter resistant ferroplastic so that if you are hit with a piece of stray shrapnel, your broken sunglasses won’t be a concern.

Victor Steiner-Davion Plush Toy.  From the folks at Build a Bear; a soft plush Victor-Steiner Davion.  He’s incredibly small, warm, and cuddly for those night when you wonder if assassins are going to creep in your windows.  Comes with a ComStar, Republic of the Sphere, Federated Suns, Lyran Commonweath, Star League, and Federated Commonwealth uniforms.

Land-Sea ‘Mechs Sourcebook – Building off the stunning universal love and success of Land Air ‘Mechs; this supplement details the naval aspect of convertible ‘Mechs.  The Tigershark, for example, appears as both a recon ‘Mech and a small houseboat, depending on its configuration.  Why limit your gameplay to the continents when there’s a whole ocean worth fight for?  It’s time to take to the high seas with your ‘Mechs.  This contains all 38 different Land Sea ‘Mechs, special rule of play (including eight different classes of torpedoes, all with ranges that don’t even match today’s weapons!)

Rock ’em Sock ’em ™ BattleMechs.  The classic kid’s toy comes back, this time featuring an Atlas and a BattleMaster as the toy punching robots.  This new version features sound effects from battle, including a voice that yells, “Punch out!” when your ‘Mech’s head is knocked off.

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You got a critical head hit!

Melissa Steiner Mycosia Pseudoflora Flower Bulbs. Now you can have flowers all over your yard and gardens to remind you of Melissa Steiner-Davion.  These genetically engineered flower bulbs are perfect for even the feeblest gardener.  (Marketing Staff Note:  Too soon?)

Horse Brand Boxer Briefs.  Your favorite freebirth now can be cozy with your junk all day long.  Horse Boxer Briefs provide little relief on hot days, because Horse would have wanted it that way.  They come in one color, green.  With a thick waistband for extra support, this brand of men’s underwear shows you are endowed in the same way as their namesake.  “If you are going to let your junk swing, swing it like a Horse.”

Focht Formalwear Eyepatches Line.  Missing an eye and looking for a high quality eye patch or just wanting to look stylish for that next formal event – Focht Eyepatches are the way to stand out.  Made of durable material that conforms to your face, these patches say, “I’m full of intrigue while still looking awesome.”  Make sure you check out our Bluetooth enabled patches!

BattleTech 12 inch Action Figures – Complete with ‘Mechs!  Anyone can make a three inch action figure.  We decided to go old-school G I Joe and do 1:6 scale action figures.  Comes in a five foot crate to hold the ‘Mech, these figures are fun for kids and adults alike. With Kung Fu Grip, your MechWarrior can climb up and sit in his or her cockpit and lay waste to your living room.  ‘Mechs have chopping and kicking action and PPC and laser sound effects.  The cockpit even lights up red for those nasty headshots.  The initial set includes Morgan Kell (and a transparent ghost ‘Mech), Natasha Kerensky, and Jamie Wolf.

House Liao Brand Fortune Cookies.  Having Chinese food tonight?  How about serving House Liao Fortune Cookies as part of your desert?  You won’t regret it.  These BattleTech-House Liao themed fortunes are perfect to add to your menu.  Here’s a sampling of fortunes you might find…

  • Today you will join a cult of ancient assassins. Good for you!
  • In the house of the insane, the sanest person is the one that recognizes the craziness in others.
  • Don’t trust the people you are eating with, they are conspiring against you.
  • Your sister is evil and plotting to kill you.
  • Someone at this table poisoned your food.  You know what you have to do.
    Cherish your children, but do not trust them.
  • Today is a good day to attack your neighbors – they would never expect it.
  • It might be best to kill your brothers and sisters, they are up to no good.
  • Don’t kid yourself, you are the smartest person at this table.
  • Those voices in your head, listen to them.
  • A knife in the back is policy rather than crime.
  • ‘It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again.”
  • The only enemies that matter are those you have not killed yet.
  • Crazy people always have more room because no one wants to sit next to them.
  • Do you really know who prepared your meal?
  • The loudest voice in your head is probably the one to listen to.
  • Your neighbors are up to something.  Best to kill them now.
  • This is a good time to plot against the most threatening member of your family…or your sister…whichever is easier
  • The person on the left is planning on your demise.  He who strikes first, wins.
  • Follow your destiny.  If you don’t have one, take someone else’s and follow it.
  • Face the day knowing that everyone is out to kill you and you will never be disappointed.
  • The Warrior is not as feared as the Mad Man.  Be the Mad Man.
  • Betrayal is honorable if done for the right reasons.
  • Redrum Redrum.
  • That isn’t your normal mailman.  Best to kill him now.
  • Remember – Melissa Steiner stopped to smell the flowers once and it didn’t work out well for her.
  • Your imaginary friends cannot be fully trusted.  Nor can your real friends…or your family for that matter.
  • Tomorrow will bring you joy, happiness, and the death of someone close to you.  Embrace the day!
  • He who is most paranoid, wins.
  • You do not have to kill your enemies.  Simply put them in situations where there is a high probability that they will be killed.  Eventually the math works to your advantage.
  • Batshit crazy is not a state of mind, it is the mind of State.

Word of Blake Camouflage Miniatures Paint Set.  You get ivory, stark white, off-white, light gray, eggshell white, semi-gloss white, white-white, holy-blinding white, reflective white, and gloss white.  Everything you need to paint that lance of Wobbies so they will be camouflaged and blend in.  Perfect for that WoB fan out there (all three of you.)

IWM Scale MechWarrior Miniatures.  Sure you have an impressive collection of Iron Wind miniatures, but do you have the minis of the pilots that go with them?  No?  Well now you can. These MechWarriors are scaled to your existing ‘ Mechs so you can use them in play.  Each comes with a small Iron Wind collectable magnifying glass to assist in painting.

Neuro-Motorcycle Helmet. Show your colors by wearing the only officially licensed BattleTech helmet.  Sure it has a limited field of vision and can appear a bit bulky, but it tells everyone that you are a true road warrior – a MechWarrior!  Comes in Dragoon’s Blue, Highlander Black, and Federated Suns Gold.  (Marketing Department Note: We need a sticker that says, “Warning – you cannot use brain impulses to balance your motorcycle.”)

“Widow-Wear” Natasha Kerensky Line of Lingerie.  Based on the original cover for Tales of the Black Widow, no one dresses as seductively/scantily/skankily than the Black Widow, and now you (or that special someone in your life) can wear her exclusive line lingerie.  Widow-wear features black leather thongs, a line of distressed t-shirt tops, and plastic-ferro bras.  Ohh, sexy…

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Admit it, you’ve had fantasies about her – in the 80’s.  

Republic of the Sphere Snuggie.  Nothing makes you feel warm and safe like a Republic of the Sphere Snuggie.  This one-size-fits-all snuggie is perfect for those chilly nights and is stylish – emblazoned with the RoS logo on a bright yellow background (read into that all you want).  Show your true colors and keep warm while you do it.  You’ll want to beat your swords in the plowshares after a few minutes in this puppy.

Taurian Concordat Nipple and Nose Rings.  I would say more, but you are digging out your credit card and wanting to make sure there is no limit on how many you can order.  Am I right?  We would offer body piercings for other parts of the body but the head of the marketing team is a bit squeamish when it comes to testing new products.

Nova Cat Tarot Cards.  If you want to see the future, do it with Nova Cat Tarot Cards.  Each card features a famous Nova Cat warrior or Clan ‘vineer.  Perfect for those dinner parties or business luncheons when you want to get a quick read on how your next career move will go.

Play Doh ™ Hesperus BattleMech Factory Fun Set.  Remember Play Doh? Now you can use these specially created molds to create scale-size Play Doh BattleMechs.  Comes with a can of Steiner Blue and a mix of grays, greens and browns.  Make your own camouflage patterns, then press and wha-la – you have a Play Doh ‘Mech all ready to put on the map and it is fully posable.  Fun to squash when they are taken down too.

Word of Blake Android Tablets.  The most secure and connected Android tablet on the market.  They connect to any WiFi, even if they don’t know the password and they pass on all of your personal information to a bunker in Hilton Head…for security reasons.  If you type in anything bad about the tablet or The Word of Blake, their battery explodes.  (Note from Marketing:  TSA will not allow these on aircraft.)

Hanse Davion Cologne.  Going out on the town?  Splash on some of The Fox!  Let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to smell like Hanse Davion?  A loser or Capellan sympathizer, that’s who!  The sweet smell of success is perfect for those nights of power-hungry marriage and intimacy.

House Liao Bath Mat.  Brilliant green and yellow with a map of the Capellan Confederation, this bath mat is a soft plush 80% cotton, 20% ferro-polyester blend.  Feel powerful as you stomp your feet on the Confederation after ever shower or bath. Perfect for that House Davion fan.

Sword of Light Night Light.  I would describe this, but it really isn’t necessary.  Who wouldn’t want their kid to sleep under the war red glow of a bloody sword shaped night light?  Father of the year – right?

Marik Brand DNA Test Kits.  We all want to know our linage and when it comes to the need for DNA testing, House Marik knows best!  Ever wonder if your brother was swapped out by an evil organization and replaced with a doppleganger?  Don’t we all?  Now you can verify with a simple DNA swab.  Results tell you what percentage of House or Clans your DNA is made up from.  How cool is that?

Combination Drone and Game-Scale Overlord Dropship.  Anybody can build a scale model of a dropship.  Let’s face it, we all have.  This is a different.  Using state of the art drone technology, your dropship not only is to scale, but can fly in over your game board and land!  Complete with running lights, this dropship is a must-have for any true player.

ComStar Bath Robes.  Rich white thick robes emblazoned with the ComStar logo, these are perfect for those slow days around the house while you hum the songs of technical manuals.  Stay toasty warm while you plan on stabbing the back of humanity.  Note:  This replaces Product Number 3025-A. the reversible black/white ComStar/Word of Blake robes.

Lego ™ Mad Cat.  This three foot tall Lego kit has over 5200 parts and includes a hardcover building manual that is over 120 pages long!  Long tedious hours of fun are guaranteed as you build this queen of the battlefield.  Complete with a fully twistable torso and PPC’s.  Delivered in a simulated (and collectable) SRM ammo crate.

BattleTech Faction Dice Polishing Towels.  These microfiber towels are printed with your favorite House or Clan and are designed to clean your dice of the nasty oils and dust that can screw up your rolls.  Based on the same technology as glasses cleaner towels, these polishers ensure the best possible rolls of your die.  Do you want to risk that PPC shot will hit your head?  I think not!

BattleMech Jewelry.  From the team at Iron Wind Metals, necklaces of your favorite ‘Mechs.  This heavy metal bling is both hip and jump!  Love your UrbanMech, then show it when you wear it around your neck.  IWM is also making a line of Pandora bracelet tokens from cast-offs arms, legs, or torsos.  The ladies love this stuff – we swear!

Kurita Brand Bath Salts.  Have a stressful day fending off the Clans, killing Davions, or treating your mercenaries like garbage?  Don’t we all?  Well, settle down in a nice safe warm tub of water and pour on some Kurita Brand Bath Salts to ease your tensions and give your skin that sweaty glow.

BattleMech Mud Flaps.  BattleMech mud-flaps make a statement as you cruise down the road.  They come as an Atlas, and Awesome, and one blank (for whatever unseen ‘Mech your heart desires.)   Impress your neighbors and fellow commuters.

UrbanMech Home Trash Cans.  Need I say more?  Let’s face it, we’ve all thought this at one point or another.  Simply step on their feet for the top to open.  Far more useful than the real UrbanMechs in the game.

Magistracy of Canopus Belly Dancer Outfit.  Embrace your hedonistic ways with some erotic dancing.  This authentic Canopian outfit is enough to seduce even the most celibate Blakist.  Comes in sizes from small to XXXL because we know our target market.

Build-A-Ghost-Bear.  Working with the wonderful folks at the Build-A-Bear Workshop ™, we have come up with a Ghost Bear version of their popular line of children’s playthings.  Each one of these custom-builds comes with an authentic Ghost Bear voice box that simulates the roar of an actual Ghost Bear!  Don’t worry about it frightening your kids, they will eventually get used to it and sleep like little cubs.  The optional four inch razor claws remind your youngster to be respectful of pets – so it is a animal-friendly as well!

Go-Bots Cross-Licensed ‘Mechs.  Sure, you’ve heard of the Unseen, but what about the Re-Seen?  Working shit out with Harmony Gold is too hard – so we opted for another partner.  Our marketing team have secured the rights to the Go-Bots cartoon series and we are going to release their unique form of ‘Mechs into the BattleTech universe.  We know you will be excited to see Bolt and Beemer in action on Tukayyid!

Uncle Chandy Sweatpants.  These Kurita maroon sweatpants are made from special fibers infused with melted Wizkids MechWarrior ™products to give them a wick-away of perspiration.  They come with two hidden pockets, because we all have something to hide, and an optional holster or katana sling.  Extra inner thigh chaffing padding sewn in.  Available only in extra-large sizes.

The Star League Ultimate Sourcebook.  Details the name of every person, ‘Mech, ship, etc., that left on the Kerensky Exodus, what happened to them, and tracing where their ‘Mechs ended up as well as their genetic legacy.  This book clocks in at 2,956 pages, so you know the fans will eat it up.  There are even tables provided for salvage of ‘Mechs and where each component ended up.  If you wanted to know the nuts and bolts of the SLDF, this is your book

Scale Model Black Lion Battlecruiser.  It takes a Clan to raze a village – or so they say.  Let’s face it, orbital bombardment is the way to go.  Why settle for small miniatures when you can get the scale model of the real-deal?  This model is six and a half feet long with a special four foot plastic stand so you can poise it above your battlefield.  The shadow of this beast over your map boards alone will scare your enemies.  With over 417 molded plastic parts, it is a Level 5 skill build – not for amateurs.  Purchase the optional lighting kit and you can really dominate the game.

BattleTech Food Products.  Nothing says good eating like BattleTech Brand foods!  We aren’t so much concerned about the nutritional value as we are in getting our brand out in the public.  Look for these exciting products.

  • ‘Mech-O’s Pasta.  Shaped like your favorite 3025 ‘Mechs and served in an orange goo that is supposed to be a tomato sauce, these little clumps of misshaped carbs are just what you need for dinner tonight. Offering no nutritional value and a heavily salted taste, you’ll want more!
  • Tukkayid Tarts.  Sure these are merely rebranded PopTarts ™ but the kids love them.  Covered in white ComStar frosting, these toaster pastries come with a collectable foil card of a famous ‘Mech or pilot in every box.
  • Cup O’Liao Soup.  It’s mostly water that you provide with more than its fair share of crazy noodles and a lone mushroom.
  • Ghost Knights Hot Sauce.  Made up from the tears of the fans of the Republic of the Sphere (all eight of you), mixed in with our special harvest of Ghost (Knights) Chili Peppers, this sauce is guaranteed to sear your lips, throat, and lower intestinal tract.
  • BattleMech Peeps.  Gluten free!  Comes in UrbanMech, Trebuchet, Exterminator, and Flashman shapes.  Soft pure sugar heaven.
  • Red Corsair Frozen Pizzas.  Okay, we admit it, we are taken Red Baron ™ pizza’s and slapping on a new logo.  You caught us on this one.
  • Kurita Crunch Breakfast Cereal.  Packed with so much fiber you will have to run the bathroom half-way through your bowl.  Kurita Crunch includes tiny sushi marshmallows to create the illusion that you are eating something fun.  Kurita Crunch packs in more than eight times the daily requirements for three vitamins.  Don’t rush out to conquer the Inner Sphere or crush the Davion hoards without a hearty bowl of Kurita Crunch.
  • Hell’s Horse’s BBQ Sauce.  A deep bourbon flavor with a kick (get it – horses, kick?)  Burns going down, burns coming out – so you know it is authentic.

Barrel of Goliath Scorpions.  A rebranding of a Barrel of Monkeys ™ game, this one using plastic scorpions.  What could be more fun than stringing up a chain of dangerous plastic scorpions?

Malvina Hazen Brand Dog Collars.  Usable on humans as well; these thick studded leather collars are just what you need to keep your dog, or captive young girl, in tow.  (Marketing Department Note:  We really need to vet this idea with our legal department, especially the human bondage aspect.  This opens the door for a whole line of Malvina-based S&M gear if they approve.  The R&D guys seem really excited to test this stuff, go figure.)

Rasalhague Door Mat. Emblazoned with the FRR’s dragon logo and the word “Welcome!” It is perfect for you to wipe your feet on – especially if you support Clan Ghost Bear.  It’s less washable than it is disposable – just like the FRR!

Calamity Kell Western-Style Boots.  With a name like “Calamity” you know they have to be tough.  Emblazoned with the Kell Hound logo, these women’s leather boots are the envy of every MechWarrior out there.  Great for line dancing or kicking some Clan-ass!

Freebirth-Control Foam.  Coupling is wonderful but not everyone wants to bring a bouncing ball of freebirth into the world.  If you want to prevent those unwanted pregnancies that lead to warriors that upset the balance of power in your Clan, try this contraceptive foam.  Comes in Jade-Love and Wet-Wolf scents to add to your pleasure.

Republic of the Sphere Jenga ™.  Each game piece is woodburned with the Republic of Sphere’s logo and the name of a world from that government.  Let’s face it, we all want to see it collapse, so why not do it Jenga-style?   You’ll have fun deliberately knocking it down.

Skye Scotch.  Nobody is contentious and cantankerous as our fine distilling staff at the BattleTech Distillery (actually it is six perpetually drunken Canadian CGL Demo Team Members.)  Skye Scotch has that flavor that, after a few shots, will have you wanting to rebel even from your own family.  Aged nearly eight weeks in Brent Evan’s garden shed, each bottle is sealed with a half-melted Age of Destruction Clicky-Mech (all Atlas’s of course).

Helmar Valasek’s Weight-Loss Shakes.  Who cares about Oprah?  I want to know what will take the pounds off of the big guys.  Well, here’s your answer – Helmar Valasek’s Weight Loss Shakes.  Guaranteed to take off five pounds in the first week!  They come in black licorice, spring onion, Lyran mint, and ComStar vanilla.  (Marketing Department Note:  Per the Legal Department, we need a warning label that these products may/will cause anal leakage.  We suggest using a 4 pt. font)

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Your waist and neck should not be the same size.

Team Banzai Sourcebook.  By popular demand, the ultimate sourcebook for Team Banzai and the Hong Kong Cavaliers – starting with the Gray Death Memory Core through the Fourth Succession War.  After Harmony Gold, we figured, “What the hell, let’s piss off Peter Weller and Jeff Goldblum!”  Comes with a fold-out centerfold map of the NAIS academy and a copy of our Cease and Desist Order from Sherwood Productions…as good as any certificate of authenticity.

The BattleTech Staff Sexy Poses Calendar – 2019.  We know you have been waiting on this one.  It was hard to get Randall to strap on that thong, and Brent to put on the body glitter.  It took three of us to hold down Loren for the bearskin rug photo shoot – but it was all worth it.  Many shots mirror early BattleTech covers such as Brent posing as the Black Widow and Mike Stackpole replicating the cover from Sorenson’s Sabres (it was hard getting him into a pair of jorts.)  This year features a centerfold group shot of all of the fiction authors.  Authentic BattleTech Barf Bag included! (and required).

BattleTech – The Collectable Pog Game.  Hey, Pokemon came back into vogue, we are just ahead of the curve.  With roughly 2000 pogs to be released, you’ll be collecting these for years to come.  Sure the game is simplistic, but we can repurpose the artwork from the BattleTech collectable card game for much of it.

Office Humor – The Business Trip – A True Story

Travel

In those wonderful days before 9-11, before United bought Continental, before full body scans – back when it took guts to travel.  This is a true story of a business trip gone bad. 

My flight to Washington Dulles (from luxurious Newark, New Jersey) was scheduled for 5:00pm so dutifully I got to the airport at 3:00pm. I had no idea why.  In the history of airports, no flight between Newark and Dulles, on a Friday afternoon, has ever flown within three hours of its designated time.  Showing up two hours early was simply a display of anal stupidity on my part.  Still, as a traveler, you harbor the hope that this might be the exception to the rule.  I heard there were weather delays due to fog, so I figured I might be able to catch the 3:00pm flight.  Experience has told me that all it takes is a car backfiring in a three state area to grind air traffic to a halt.  There’s a subtle art to navigating delay situations at Newark; one which I thought I’d mastered, but my experiences this particular Friday taught me I hadn’t.

I got my ticket for the 5:00pm flight and noticed that I was now on the 7:45pm flight.  That’s generally not a good sign…cancelling a flight and rescheduling me on another flight hours in advance.  I hoofed it down to C85 – at the extreme end of one of the three wings that make up concourse C.  I was determined to catch that 3:00pm Dulles flight(this was back in the days when you could simply switch flights before an upgrade fee.)  I had commitments, as did my wife, that required my physical body back home.

I saw the plane was there, jetway attached, jetway door opened.  The monitors showed it wasn’t even loading yet – in fact it wasn’t taking off for ten minutes.  Yes!  I asked the gate attendant, we’ll call her Jody for the sake of this story, if I can get on the flight.

“No sir, that flight already boarded,” this far-too-peppy Jody replied.

“I don’t want to burst your bubble, but it’s right there,” I pointed. I swear, the plane was there, door open, jetway still attached.  I could see the co-pilot chatting with the flight attendant.

“Sorry, we’ve closed out the flight.  It’s gone.  You can always catch the 5:00pm flight,” Jody replied.  Apparently the plane I saw wasn’t really there, some sort of new stealth technology that Continental was testing for the government.  Continental’s theory is that if you say it enough, it becomes reality…laws of physics be damned.

“No, I can’t.”

“Yes you can.”

“The 5:00pm flight is cancelled.  Listen I don’t want to argue or anything,” a lie, “but the plane door is still open.  You can key me in and I can get home.”

“Sorry sir, I can’t help you.”  Another lie.  It was her turn in the game we were playing. 

Lying was a competency that Continental displayed a lot this particular evening.  Yes, I had a fantasy moment of strangling Jody right then and there, but I let it pass.

So, my new flight was at C130 – the other far end of the extreme wing of the C concourse.  I slothed down there and had dinner.  Important tip here – never eat a burrito from a place advertising Hawaiian cuisine. I had time to kill, even if that was spent in a bathroom.  You know you are a pessimist when risk stomach cramping simply to kill time.  Thankfully I was spared the ordeal of time in the restroom.  I powered up my PC, did some work, read a book, worked on writing my new novel, killed time…I had a lot to kill.  Remember, don’t leave the gate area because information may change at any time.

At around 7:00pm, while at the gate, I noticed our 7:45pm flight was starting to move, not physically, but through time/space continuum..  Now it was 9:00pm flight – then five minutes later, it became a 9:33pm flight.  I cracked up.  Here’s an airline that can’t get you pinned down to what hour you’re leaving, somehow know you’re departing 33 minutes after the hour.  It was so precise it implied an intelligence I knew didn’t exist.  At that point I was still able to chuckle.  Anyway, it morphed into a 9:45pm flight a few minutes later.  Wow, that 12 minutes difference changed everything (read with extreme sarcasm)

At this point I was ready to switch to Washington National and fly there, catch a cab, and get to Dulles.  The board told me that the National flights were also being delayed due to a fog that frankly, didn’t look too bad outside.  Best to ride this one out. In the end this judgment call turned out to be the best choice.

At 10:20pm (for the record, our “on-time departure,” was still showing as 9:45pm), we got the word that we would be leaving at 11:00pm.  Now we were in the danger zone.  I went to the abandoned (at that time) Continental service desk and did some research.  The 9:00am flight to Dulles in the morning was already booked.  That meant if I flew on Saturday I was getting home sometime in the evening at this point. Options were dwindling.

At 11:12pm the word came down from Gary, a short red-sport-coated man of authority (that’s what the red coats mean, right?)  Our flight was cancelled.  “No problem.  We’re putting you on a flight to Reagan National airport.”  Swamped and alone, the other ticket agent working with Gary, seeing the angry mob, grabbed her purse and went home for the night.  Another agent working the gate, seeing his plight, abandoned him as well.  God bless the American work and customer satisfaction ethics.

I felt bad for Gary until I saw he couldn’t deal with the pressure, snapping at people, making up stuff as he went.  I began to see that the red jackets really didn’t mean much.  I think he stole his.

Okay, Gary couldn’t process everything at once.  Frankly he couldn’t process one thing at a time very well.  He finally cooked up a story that Continental would pay for the Washington Flyer bus service to take us to Dulles.  As a point of order, the Washington Flyer bus doesn’t run from National to Dulles – and hadn’t for months.  I pointed out this lie to him and told him that the luggage agent at National could issue us vouchers for cabs.  Suddenly, I became the “Gate Leader and Spokesperson for the Irritated Flyers,” a role I relished.  I think I deserve a red jacket, really. I wonder where Gary stole his from? Could I have one?

Gary struggled for 20 minutes processing one person for the next flight.  I staged a coup, rounded up all of the people, and we rush to the gate at the other end of the airport, leaving Gary dazed, confused, but happy we were leaving.  According to the monitors the National Flight was boarding at, yes, you guessed it, C-85 – the other end of the EWR universe and was going to board any minute.  I made a mental note; “next time steal a Cushman cart to help get there faster.”  This becomes important later on…

We got there en masse – sweaty- breathing hard, but still clinging to the hope we might actually fly.  Substantiating that hope we were all assigned seats.  There was a teeming and aromatic group already there.  I asked status and was told, by someone I’ll call, “Becky,” that, “the aircraft is here and we just finished fueling it.  We’re waiting on your crew and they’ll be here at 11:45pm.”

I point out to her that after midnight, jets cannot fly into Washington Reagan airport due to noise abatement restrictions. Yes, I’ve done this hop before, I know the rules. “Are we really going there tonight?”  I kept mentally telling myself that I didn’t want to go to that airport anyway.  “Most assuredly sir.” Her lie was cloaked in my belief that she didn’t know what noise abatement was.

At midnight, with no updates, I went to the counter along with a suite of bodyguards/other victims, ready to demand answers.  Now things started getting interesting. “We thought we had your plane but when we went down there, there wasn’t any aircraft there.  So now we’re waiting on your crew and an airplane.”

Blaine’s comment:  “So what were you putting fuel in a half an hour ago?”

Becky, “Huh?” She was a real Mensa Society member – this one.

“Never mind.”  Pardoe’s Law Number 227:  “Never get into a logic debate with an idiot.  It only gives you headaches.”

Five minutes passed and I think she realized that she was caught up in a lie because she seemed to want to get us out of there.  Suddenly Becky makes a furious phone call and announces, “Washington National passengers, your flight has been moved to Gate 103 (in the yet unexplored part of C-Concourse during this trip).  It departs in 15 minutes.  She’s a genius Becky.  This was a great way to get us out of there…another lie. I have no doubt she will go far in Continental.

We started to run, then I spotted it – our ride.  I commandeered a Cushman cart (those idiots should not have left it charging with the keys in it), and sped our way down to Gate 103 in caravan, (yes, I went with women and children first on the Cushman,) to find a ground crew sitting there eating their dinner, staring at us with confused expressions – confused because we (okay I) had obviously stolen the cart from somewhere in the terminal.  (My thoughts were simpler:  “I wouldn’t be eating with those fingers.”) Yes, there’s a plane here, I could see it out the window.  But no one has any idea why we’re there.  Heaven forbid that the staff there go off and get help.  As the duly elected spokesperson for the group, I take off and find, 20 minutes later, a red-coated man from Continental who taps the keyboard, then leaves without saying a word.  Ahh, this is the kind of service I would expect in, shall we say, a prison?  Or a Carnival Cruise ship?

Now at this point, we’re all tired, sweaty, cranky, and one woman has begun to paint her face with makeup as if she were stranded in the jungle.  I’m reminded of Lord of the Flies and realize by the time the next shift arrives, we’ll be in loincloths.  Two gentlemen (they owned suits) show up from Continental to assure us that there is indeed an aircraft outside (thank God it wasn’t a mirage), and that our crew is at Dulles, on the ground there.  They will be taking off in an hour or so and if they land, they’ll transfer to this aircraft, prep it, and we’ll take off for National – an airport you can’t fly into with a jet in the middle of the night.

Needless to say, this story wasn’t adding up.  They updated the departure to 1:45am, which was physically impossible given the flight time from Dulles to Newark (our current time was 1:10am).  I pointed this out to, we’ll call him, “Sparky,” who assured me that I didn’t understand the laws of physics as Continental airlines did.  I confirmed with Sparky at that point in time that the flight at Dulles was sitting on the ground, due to fog now at their end of the travel spectrum.  Our “on-time” departure was moved, by Sparky, to 2:00am.  I guess that was supposed to satisfy me. Oddly enough it didn’t.

After my carefully crafted lecture on the space time continuum from a kid that was younger than the pair of loafers I was wearing – I contacted our travel agency, the good old boys at American Express.  They wanted my emergency code, which I told them I was not going to dig out of my bag.  I couldn’t.  The guy next to me was dismantling his seat to make a spear.  Things were getting ugly.  In 10 seconds our Amex guy had my profile up.  “Options?”

“Not a lot.”  Train tomorrow, then a $100 cab ride to your car.  Estimated time home, 3:00pm.  Fly home at the whim of the idiot-brigade at Continental and I could be at my car at Dulles, at around 3:30pm.  I had family commitments, so I was feeling, well, screwed.

Solution – a rental car.  I told the guy at travel this, verbatim, “Dude, you have to get me home.  Get me a car that can do that.”

“I’m on it dude.”  I swear.  We called each other dude.  It was a very straight bonding moment in a night when nothing had gone right.

I took the monorail, which was down twenty-minutes for maintenance, to the Hertz rental car place. That trip normally would have frustrated me, but in reality, it was the smoothest part of my night since we were moving, albeit slowly.  I dashed into Hertz and standing there was, “Little Korean Hertz Guy”, keys in hand, paperwork ready, and sent me on my way, “You in spot 80 Mista Pardoe…you go now!”

The car – a brilliant orange, brand new Mustang, fully loaded – only missing a gun for signaling lane changes on the NJ portion of the turnpike.  A perfect completely non-discreet car when cruising at warp factor seven down the turnpike in the middle of the morning.  I’m sure no police will pay attention to me.  I would have been only slightly more conspicuous if I had a keg of beer and a stripper pole strapped to the roof.

You see a lot of strange things at rest stops on the turnpike system at 3:00am in the morning.  Who would have thought that a Maryland Rest Area was the kind of place to spawn amorous activity?  I have enough material for my next novel or two, tentatively titled, “Rest Area Romp.”  You know you’re in a Maryland rest area when you stop, get out, and a pair of naked butt cheeks slap up into the steamed up window a foot away from you. I can only wish that I was making this up.  That image is burned in my mind to this day.  Add in the rain, the damned fog, and countless police officers looking for suspicious vehicles – which an orange Mustang qualifies as, and you have the makings of a bad 1980’s movie.

To answer all of the obvious questions, I got to home at 6:30am Saturday, scaring the hell out of my wife who had almost given me up for dead.  Logistically, one tank of gas will do it; it takes three 20 ounce Diet Mountain Dews, a candy bar (Hersey’s) and a bag of Utz extra salty potato chips to travel at that hour with no sleep.  The cost was still significantly less than if I had gotten a hotel room at the airport Marriott.

I have long hoped over the years that when United and Continental merged that the characters at Newark Airport lost their jobs.  In reality, they probably were promoted.  While none of this could happen today with all of the airport security, I will always relish the thought of stealing and driving a Cushman cart of angry passengers around Newark.

Some Humor – Things I Want Said or Done at My Funeral

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He he he.  

When you hit my age (55 ish) you start to realize a little bit about your own mortality.  I even wrote a book about my life’s knowledge for my grandson (The Life Book: A Grandfather’s Gift) Yes, I wrote a whole long list of funny stuff just as a means to plug a book.  So kill me…oh…

I don’t fear death at all, it is wasted effort.  I view my funeral as my last chance to make people smile – if only for a moment.  If not smile, then feel a bit uncomfortable.  I like thinking that only I could put the fun in funeral.  So here’s my list of things I want said or done at my funeral.  Feel free to pick any three after I’m gone:

One of the people in this room is responsible for Blaine’s death…you know who you are…

Blaine wanted all of you to know that he’s not funding a buffet dinner afterwards.  You get a show, not a meal.

He is gone to that place where all lost socks disappear to – the great beyond.

His final last words were, ‘The treasure is buried under the–”

The family insists he’s not really dead.  He is simply playing possum.

He asked that you all donate money in his name to the Society of Writer’s Faking Their Deaths.

The deceased has asked that the remainder of the eulogy be done in Klingon.

He wanted you all to know that his wife is cremating him to hide the evidence.

This is an awkward time to bring this up, but Blaine insisted that anyone attending pay a cover charge.

The irony is he is wearing a suit he never really liked.

His last words were, “I set the bomb to go off at–”

His final words were, “I intend to haunt one of you…you know who you are.”

He has asked that on his tombstone they carve, “I honestly expected this carved on a pyramid…”

He wanted me to say, “If you are thinking of dating my wife, I will come back you bastard!”

Mrs. Pardoe has asked that you not poke him to make sure this isn’t a practical joke. She has already checked.

His last wish was for a smoking hot body – and it looks like he’s going to get that.  Cremation is at noon tomorrow.

He wanted everyone to know that a life of avoiding manual labor actually paid off.

His last wish was that his ashes be shared with everyone attending today.  Your ziplock baggies of Blaine will be arriving in the next two weeks or so.

Blaine said that he came into this room with a ring on his left hand and he damn well better leave this room with it, or you’re all going to get frisked.

Mr. Pardoe laid out the agenda for this funeral prior to his death.  There will be a break in 10 minutes while the stripper poles are installed…

On his grave marker, he asked that the following be inscribed, “I thought there would be cookies…”

Blaine will be frozen in Carbonite and hanging on his wife’s wall after this ceremony, should any of you wish to come and visit him.

Mr. Pardoe has asked that his tombstone have the line, “The wireless service down here sucks,” added to it.

He has asked that none of you cry.  He passed on his katra to a good friend and will be returned to Mt. Selaya on Vulcan after this ceremony.

If you check under your seats, one of you will find an envelope with the name of Blaine’s killer in it.

Mr. Pardoe had just surfaced new information for a book on the Kennedy assassination, and now he is dead.  Make of that what you will.

The use of flash photography, holy water, and video footage has been expressly banned at the request of the deceased.

Mr. Pardoe wanted me to say that you should all take out your phones and unfriend him on Facebook and stop following him on Twitter.  He tweetith no more.

Blaine has asked to quote from The Lord of the Rings:  “”I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”

(Have the funeral director look at my body).  Did anyone else see his arm move?

Blaine wanted all of you to know that this is all a grave mistake.

He has asked that his tombstone be inscribed with the words, “This is what happens when you finally win an argument with your wife.”

Today’s eulogy will be followed with a viewing of Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan, Director’s Cut, with Commentary – Blaine’s parting gift to you all. “You’re welcome!”

He asked that his leadership team from his office in New Jersey act as pall bearers so that they could let him down one more time.

Blaine asked for one more joke.  (Close the coffin lid)  It begins, “Knock Knock…”

I would continue on with this eulogy, but he indicated that by now, most of you would be bored and wondering if there was an open bar afterwards, so let me wrap this up.

Blaine has asked that the following be inscribed on his tombstone, “It is a lot darker and hotter down here than I expected.”

(Put a cell phone in my pocket on speaker and call it during the prayer).  Someone leave a message, “Hi Blaine – oh, there you are!  I was just leaving you a message…” then hang up.

Blaine would like to say that drinks afterwards are half-price for the ladies.

Blaine asked that those of you who borrowed his tools over the years, please return them to his wife.

The family wants everyone here to know that this final request, a 21 gun salute, cannot be fulfilled because he asked that it be done with tanks, live ammunition, and that the US Capitol be downrange.

Mrs. Pardoe wants everyone to know that Blaine will be buried with an air compressor, the worst Christmas gift he ever gave her.

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Blaine’s last words were, “Hold this beer and watch this…”

I was just informed prior to this eulogy that it has already received at 97% on Rotten Tomatoes and is already up for a Golden Globe Award.

The music you hear playing in the background was chosen specifically by Blaine.  His co-workers will recognize it as the waiting music for conference calls.  It is his last bit of revenge for all of those times you showed up late for calls and he had to listen to this muzac.

He wanted all of you to know his final confession, it was not the dog that was farting all of those years.  Sorry Maya.
Blaine’s life was cut far too short by a Highlander driving a sword through him…there can only be one.

Mr. Pardoe never was a believer in organized religion, but just in case, we will be replaying his funeral as a Jewish and Muslim ceremonies at 3 and 5 respectively this afternoon – just to hedge his bets.

He has asked that the following be carved on his grave marker: “A Life Well Lived – Unfortunately There Will Be No Sequel.”

The family wants you to know that he has asked to be buried wearing flame retardant underwear.  Read into that whatever you will about his final resting place.

Blaine asked that he be buried in a Starfleet uniform but, as you can clearly see, his wife got in the last word on that…though she has assured me it too will be burned in a separate ceremony later this afternoon at their house.

His only regret is the Steve still hasn’t finished work on the patio in the back yard.

He has asked that on his grave marker, the words, “You’re standing on my crotch.”

Blaine asked that a set of his red gaming dice be buried with him, “Because those bastards never failed to let me down.”

He would like to point out that even with him being dead, this eulogy is better than The Last Jedi.

Blaine wanted me to tell you all the following:  This is merely the next phase of his evil plan unfolding exactly as he planned.  You’ve been warned.  Mwah hah ha ha.

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I want the following songs played as background music, just to make everyone uncomfortable or make them smile:

  • Celebration – Kool and the Gang
  • Wake me up before you go-go – Wham
  • Stayin’ Alive – Bee Gees
  • Another one bites the dust – Queen
  • Highway to Hell – AC/DC

While you all may have a good time at this show, Mr. Pardoe wants to remind you, “You may be next!”

Blaine wanted me to say this to all of you.  “I’ve written about a lot of true crime cold cases.  This may look accidental, but I insist you do an autopsy to be sure.”

Just to upset the visitors, I want a replica Viking longboat parked out in front of the funeral home, along with a row of archers.

I want one of my friends to lean over my open coffin and say, “Hey, he came in here with a watch!”  Then look over the visitors with a slow accusatory glare.

Please have the entire back row of eulogy filled with people wearing clowns.  Don’t say anything as to why they are there.  I just want to freak people out.

A line of Irish folk dancers that appear (complete with Riverdance music) mid-eulogy and tap dance across the front of the room unannounced would confuse and daze those in attendance.  Please arrange.

Put seven or eight shovels along the wall.  If anyone asks, “Well, to save money, Blaine is going to ask for volunteers to dig his grave.  Say, you look like you’re in good shape…”

To any BattleTech fans, Blaine wanted me to say the following, “It’s all true – the Star League, the Clans, everything!”

Why Employees Stay With an Organization – A Question of Loyalty

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Over the years I’ve read a lot of articles about why people leave companies. These often lack perspective.  They don’t explain at all why people remain at companies – which is an equally important way to gauge how well a company attends to its people.  You might think that the exact opposite of what forces employees to leave might be what compels others to stay.  In some cases that is right, but in others, it isn’t.

The easy answer as to why people remain in a company is loyalty. Where does loyalty come from?  Companies have been trying to crack that nut for some time.  Most never will because why they bemoan that they want/expect loyalty; they are, at the same time, sending jobs overseas or simply laying people off.  Welcome to the dichotomy of corporate culture!

Consider, if you will; having a job is the same as a personal relationship.  Over time, there is a give and take, a sense of trust, an understanding of each other’s strengths and weaknesses.  Some people have put in so much time and effort in their careers they feel they owe their organization something back.  That sense of obligation is loyalty – and it is often a powerful motivator for people to stay where they are at.

So where does loyalty come from.  Here are my suggested reasons that most employees stay at their organizations and what are the root causes of an employees’ concept of loyalty:

They believe their work makes a difference.  This is different than job satisfaction.  This is knowing that their contribution to the organization has impact.  It’s not about being happy with your work – It is about knowing you are moving the proverbial needle.

The rewards/recognition match the work contribution.  People tend to remain with companies where they are recognized for the work they do in proportion to the value of that work.  Recognition can come in a lot of different forms.  Nothing demoralizes people more when the rewards go to the wrong people or are disproportional to the contribution. Sometimes the rewards are a good salary, one that might make it difficult for you to consider moving to a new organization.

They have friends at work. The truth be told, if you have good dependable work friends, you are less likely to leave.  As much as I bitch about work, I have the distinction of working with some of the best people in the industry and that makes it far more tolerable.

They are comfortable with the work they do.  In this scenario, you know your job well and do it well.  Starting somewhere else will potentially change that.

Employees are recognized as experts in their field. Being at the top of your game in one organization does not necessarily transfer to another company should you move.  To your new colleagues, you are “the new person,” and you have to expend considerable time and effort to reestablish yourself.  It can be a daunting task that forces you to the easy choice – remain where you are.

Their manager doesn’t suck.  One of the top reasons people leave organizations is their manager is a dick/dickette.  You don’t need a stellar manager, just one that isn’t a micromanaging asshat.  There are those rare instances though where you get a manager who is solid, good, understands what motivates you and does those things, etc.  Going to another organization and you may be spinning the managerial roulette wheel and risking getting a complete and utter moron.

They can’t leave because of age, benefits, or life situation.  Anyone that believes there is no age discrimination in business is delusional.  Once you cross the threshold of 50 years of age, you are caught in a vice.  On one side, is the fact that companies won’t hire you because of your age.  On the other side is the concern that you might impact your pension, or change benefits that would be negative to your lifestyle.  What if you have workplace flexibility and can work for home X number of days a week?  Perhaps your new employer won’t support that – which necessitates a lifestyle change.  Employees are pinched to the point where you resist thoughts of changing jobs as a result of these factors.

They believe the organization does what it says it does. Companies claim they act and behave one way and often do quite the opposite.  That division between the public view and reality is often a contributing factor for employees the leave.  Counter to that, if your organization behaves in a manner consistent with what it says it is in business for, you tend to want to continue to be a part of that company.

Fear of not fitting in at a new company.  I liken this to “the devil you know vs. the one you don’t.”  I saw a job posting on Linkedin the other day and it immediately told me I would not fit in at their organization.  The images the company had on their ad and web site showed only people in their mid-20’s, dressed very casual, and a wide diversity – to the point where an older white male would significantly stand out in their company.  If those images realistically represented that company, I would never apply there because I know I won’t fit in. That sentiment is not that rare with people.  Every organization is like a country – it has its own culture, traditions, language, etc.  The fear of not being able to adapt to these is often enough to compel an employee to stay.

They harbor the illusion of advancement.  The classic carrot that management dangles before us at one point or another, “We are looking at you in terms of a possible promotion.”  This ever-elusive enticement is often just enough to compel people to remain in their job.  “If I can put in one more year, maybe this year I will get that job.”

Immunity to the hypocrisy/chaos.  There is a lot of bullshit that goes on in offices – reorgs, layoffs, outsourcing, etc.  If you get caught up in that chaos, it helps motivate you to look for employment elsewhere.  Likewise if you can tune out all of these threatening distractions and focus on what you love about your job, you are often more willing to remain.

Management leaves them alone. Sometimes flying under the radar makes your life easier.  If you are not motivated by advancement, just keeping your head down is an option.  Other times management just does the right thing, and lets people do their jobs with minimal interference. This behavior can foster a sense of loyalty. For many people, the fact that their management is not interfering permits them a chance to shine.

Obviously, if you like more of my mindless ramblings, you can check out my book, Business Rules: A Cynic’s Guide to the Corporate Overlords…or my other blog posts under business.

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