Tuesday, November 30, 2004

I Was A Star Wars Virgin!

I have now watched the first two Star Wars movies (Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back) which are now called the fourth and fifth Star Movies.

I remember "Star Wars" was released shortly after I moved to NYC in 1977. It is now called Episode 4: A New Hope (hmmm?). I remember seeing it in theatres; I just never got around to watching it. Many people where I work consider me a retrograde freak who has missed one of the peak highs of our lifetime.

I'll write a virgin's review after I view third, no--I mean the sixth movie.


Sunday, November 28, 2004

Poem: Gone Fishing

As the forests swamps and bones
Turn slowly to coal
The last pterodactyl
Soars overhead
Calling for a friend.

jack brummet

Saturday, November 27, 2004

My Jobs (List Number 9)

So far I've covered three jobs in my ongoing series My Worst Jobs, McGoo , the Salsa Fiasco, and The Brewwburger Story. Next up: The Fish. My four years at Carl Fischer, Inc. Or the two jobs I turned down the day I accepted the job at the Fish (worth an entry in themselves). Or maybe I should write about Night Orderly in the Dementia Ward. . .

Jobs (not in order)
Shoveling boxcars of sand (50 tons)
Paperboy (Kent Independent). 210 papers @ $.01 each per week
Night Orderly in Dementia Ward
Rainbow Vacuum Cleaner card distributor /lead generator
Harvesting /trimming/boxing rhubarb (cool: with a machete!)
Picking Strawberries/bunching onions
Westland Chicken Hatchery Helper
Youth Organizer
Crisis phone staffer
Seattle-King County Drug Commissioner
Administrative Assistant
Clerk II (Carl Fischer)
Ozalid Facsimile Machine Operator
Copyright and Royalty Clerk
Copyright Asst. Manager
Loan Form Analyst
Subscription and Advertising Salesman
Trade Journal Feature Writer
Hospital Supply Orderly
Working in a bank lockbox
Clerk for Dean of Students
Office Manager
Word Processor
Copy Editor
Head of Appraisal Production
Waiter (brewburger)
Software Jobs (Technical Support Engineer; Software Tester; Website Tester; Game Tester; Technical Support Manager; Testing Manager ; Writing and Publishing Manager; Director of Development; Director of Testing; Director of Development Services); Vice-President.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Will "Self" One Day Be A Spare Part? Chimeras & You

This excerpt is from a larger article in the Washington Post this week. It raises a lot of interesting ethical issues, of course. The most interesting of which is focused on growing spare human parts inside animals. These chimeras could produce a vast array of human giblets. . .livers, kidneys, hearts. Won't this lead to raising vast herds of animals/chimeras for transplantable organs? Is that so bad? Is it worse than raising vast herds of animals for hamburgers? If you keep creating these hybrids, and, say, making them more and more human, with several human parts inside, and what point do they become Humanzees, or Hu-hogs? Is there a Maginot Line between humans and animals that cannot, or should not, be crossed? Even if there is, should we be fiddling with this like Victor Frankenstein? The Maginot Line, after all, was thought of as impenetrable as the Titanic was unsinkable...

We've already cloned sheep. It didn't work out all that well, so far anyhow. Folks are trying to clone humans at this very moment. If we put human brains in the right animals, things could start to get really interesting. Gorilla infantrymen? A Giraffe as President of the United States? Doberman security guards? Chimpanzee strawberry pickers? Whales as one-man submarines??

Scientists debate creation of hybrids of animals, humans
By Rick Weiss, The Washington Post Nov. 2004

WASHINGTON - In Minnesota, pigs are being born with human blood in their veins. In Nevada, there are sheep whose livers and hearts are largely human.

In California, mice peer from their cages with human brain cells firing inside their skulls.

These are not outcasts from "The Island of Dr. Moreau," the 1896 novel by H.G. Wells in which a rogue doctor develops creatures that are part animal and part human. They are real creations of real scientists, stretching the boundaries of stem cell research.

Biologists call these hybrid animals chimeras, after the mythical Greek creature with a lion's head, a goat's body and a serpent's tail. They are the products of experiments in which human stem cells were added to developing animal fetuses.

Chimeras are allowing scientists to watch, for the first time, how nascent human cells and organs mature and interact - not in the cold isolation of laboratory dishes but inside the bodies of living creatures. Some are already revealing deep secrets of human biology and pointing the way toward new medical treatments.

But with no federal guidelines in place, an awkward question hovers above the work: How human must a chimera be before more stringent research rules should kick in?

The National Academy of Sciences, which advises the federal government, has been studying the issue and hopes to make recommendations by February. Yet the range of opinions it has received so far suggests reaching consensus may be difficult.

During one recent meeting, scientists disagreed on such basic issues as whether it would be unethical for a human embryo to begin its development in an animal's womb, and whether a mouse would be better or worse off with a brain made of human neurons.

"This is an area where we really need to come to a reasonable consensus," said James Battey, chairman of the National Institutes of Health's Stem Cell Task Force. "We need to establish some kind of guidelines as to what the scientific community ought to do and ought not to do."
How human?

Chimeras (ki-MER-ahs) - meaning mixtures of two or more individuals in a single body - are not inherently unnatural. Most twins carry at least a few cells from the sibling with whom they shared a womb, and most mothers carry in their blood at least a few cells from each child they have born.

Recipients of organ transplants are also chimeras, as are the many people whose defective heart valves have been replaced with those from pigs or cows. And scientists for years have added human genes to bacteria and even to farm animals - feats of genetic engineering that allow those critters to make human proteins such as insulin for use as medicines.

"Chimeras are not as strange and alien as at first blush they seem," said Henry Greely, a law professor and ethicist at Stanford University who has reviewed proposals to create human-mouse chimeras there.

But chimerism becomes a more sensitive topic when it involves growing entire human organs inside animals. And it becomes especially sensitive when it deals in brain cells, the building blocks of the organ credited with making humans human.

Greely and many other philosophers have been wrestling with the question of why so many people believe it is wrong to breach the species barrier. Many turn to the Bible's repeated invocation that animals should multiply "after their kind" as evidence that such experiments are wrong. Others, however, have concluded the core problem is not necessarily the creation of chimeras, but rather the way they are likely to be treated.

Imagine, said Robert Streiffer, a professor of philosophy and bioethics at the University of Wisconsin, a human-chimpanzee chimera endowed with speech and an enhanced potential to learn - what some have called a "humanzee."

"There's a knee-jerk reaction that enhancing the moral status of an animal is bad," Streiffer said. "But if you did it, and you gave it the protections it deserves, how could the animal complain?"

Another poem: Moving

Just being here, we're moving
Around and around and around and around,
In four directions at once:
Around earth's axis,
Around the sun,
Around the Milky Way,
And out out out into space,
Around and around and around and around.

Where do you land?
When you get tired,
Where do you stand?
Where is the ground's ground?
Around and around and around and around.
jack brummet

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Grope me!

Judging from articles appearing this week about passengers being aggressively frisked at airports, I can now look forward to to being man-handled by the TSA guys in blue jackets.

"The airlines are required to randomly select a certain number of passengers for closer inspection. Passengers who wear loose clothing are more apt to receive a pat down, as are travelers who set off metal detector alarms or exhibit suspicious behavior..."[from the Sun-Sentinel.com web site]

I am so screwed on this one. I wear loose clothing, I guess (or do they mean loose middle-eastern clothing like djellabas, etc?). Ever since I had an arthoplasty (hip replacement), my stainless steel hip seems to trigger the alarms. And suspicious behavior? Since I am scared s***less of flying, everything about me at an airport is suspicious, and to most eyes, I would surely appear non compos mentis, e.g., nutty as a fruitcake.

To make it even worse, "The TSA requires female screeners pat down women; male screeners check men." This whole thing would be a little more palatable if it wasn't some GUY giving me the once over. I'll let you know what happens the next time I fly. /jack

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Clemenza's Spaghetti Sauce from "The Godfather"

Here is my version of Caporegime Peter Clemenza's spaghetti sauce. Clemenza tells Michael this is a nice pot of gravy to make if you have a crew go "to the mattresses." I saw the movie in 1978, years after it first appeared. Kevin Curran and I saw it at the Waverly Theatre in Greenwich Village. I have probably watched it thirty times since. The pasta sauce I make is almost always some variant of the sauce Clemenza teaches Michael:

Hey, Mikey, why don't you tell that nice girl you love her?
(then, in an exaggerated Italian accent)
I love you with all-a my heart! If I don't see you again soon, I'm a-gonna die! [laughs]
Heh, come over here, kid, learn something. You never know, you might have to cook for twenty guys someday. You see, you start out with a little bit of oil. Then you fry some garlic. Then you throw in some tomatoes, tomato paste, you fry it; ya make sure it doesn't stick. You get it to a boil; you shove in all your sausage and your meatballs; heh?... And a little bit o' wine. An' a little bit o' sugar, and that's my trick.
SONNY (after entering the kitchen)
Why don't you cut out the crap. I got more important things for you to do.
How's Paulie?
Oh, Paulie? Won't see him no more...

Clemenza's Gravy
2 tablespoons olive oil (preferably Genco !)
4 cloves chopped garlic
2 cans whole Italian tomatoes
1 can tomato paste (and 2 cans of water)
2 teaspoons dried basil
a couple pinches of oregano
Three glugs of wine
Two teaspoons sugar
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
Sauteed sausages and meatballs

Sweat the garlic in the oil (do not brown it) in a large pot. After a minute, add the canned tomatoes and juice, the tomato paste, and a cup of water. Add three glugs of wine, the sugar, and the herbs. Bring to a slow simmer for ten minutes. Add a little salt and the pepper and the sausages and meatballs. Slowly simmer for 45 minutes or more...until the sauce is reduced and coats a spoon. Correct the seasoning. Cook spaghetti or linguini. Drain it. Now pink up your pasta. Put it in a bowl, add a couple of ladles of the sauce and toss with the pasta. Make sure it is nice and coated. Serve the rest of the sauce and the meats in a bowl for people to add to taste. Serve the pasta with freshly grated Parmesan, Romano or Pecorino, a simple green salad, crusty Italian bread and a bottle of Chianti Classico. . .

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

My Worst Jobs, Part 3 - Brewburger

I started to write this piece about the four+ years I worked in NYC at Carl Fischer /“The Fish” [episode 5 of My Worst Jobs]. Then I remembered that I had one other job that summer of 1977--the summer of Son of Sam and The Great Blackout.

Through a friend's connection, I became a waiter at BrewBurger at 44th and Broadway, in the heart of Times Square. In the 2.5 hellish days I held that job, I never mastered timing, the menu, or efficiency. I was continually scrambling between the kitchen and my tables to patch up mistakes. I was incapable of balancing more than two plates or bringing out courses in their correct order. As desert would appear, I would also be bringing the forgotten salad. I never actually had one happy table. In retrospect, waiting was a job for which I was constitutionally unfit.

BrewBurger appeared to be some sort of Outfit money laundering front. The real estate was expensive and the food was inordinately cheap and plentiful. BrewBurger was extremely popular with tourists and the bridge and tunnel crowd.

Nothing was more popular than the $4.95 Burger, Fries, and Bottomless Beer combo. On my very first day, I had a table of six beefy college boys from the Midwest drop in for the special. The bottomless beer was a waiter’s nightmare. To prevent pitchers of beer going to waste, the beer was served in schooner glasses. Two or three glasses were always in need of refills. In between shuttling lukewarm orders of the wrong food to my luckless customers, I ferried fresh glasses of beer to the bulletheads. They generated more trips to the kitchen than the rest of my neglected tables put together. After a couple hours of this, they staggered away from the table, leaving me a buck tip for their food and sixty beers.

No matter who came in, they expected attentive service and instant refills. This was fine dining, Manhattan style.

The restaurant would shut down briefly around three or four o’clock, to restock the kitchen and prep dinner, hose out the vomit filled urinals, vacuum, and tidy up the table’s condiment trays.

Each table contained three jars, in addition to the standard Heinz Ketchup and French’s mustard. One jar contained a pickle relish. Another held corn relish. And the third was filled with sliced bread and butter pickles. After washing the banquettes and table, your next duty was to restock condiments. Sounds simple enough, eh? These condiments had been sitting on the table through four, five or six seatings. Any sane person would have buried them, or at the very least emptied them and run them through the dishwasher. BrewBurger, however, had a policy of how, when and why the condiment jars should be cleaned and refilled.

No matter how suspect the contents, I never saw a condiment jar that crossed the line at which BrewBurger considered it unfit for human consumption. Someone stubbed a cigarette butt out in the corn relish? You gingerly spooned out the cigarette, along with the tainted relish most proximate to the butt. To return the jar to its pristine state, you merely topped the jar off with fresh relish from the five gallon plastic bucket. A quick stir with a spoon, and everything was good as new. Foreign matter in the pickle jar? You emptied the juice out, rinsed the pickles with fresh brine, and topped it off with fresh pickles and brine.

If this was happening in the front of the restaurant, who knows what outrages were going down in the kitchen? Uneaten fries were dumped into one of those ubiquitous five gallon condiment buckets, presumably to be refried and served later. “Hey,” as one of the waiter said, “no worry. They go back in the 350 degree grease again. That’ll kill off anything too weird.”

Midway through Day Three's frenzied lunch, I had been woofed at by an increasingly angry and menacing manager five times. I had four tables worth of food waiting under the heat lamps, and three table’s lunch orders I need to get to the kitchen. One table was ready for refills. I jammed the orders in my pocket, tossed my apron in the corner, and walked out the front door into the blazing sunlight in Times Square.

Monday, November 22, 2004

French Mood Swings

"The practice of aromatherapy makes the claim that smelling certain essential oils can help you overcome anxiety, depression, and stress. The theory that exposure to pleasant fragrances helps create a happy mood goes a long way towards explaining why the French are so f***ing cranky all the time." - Dennis Miller


"Space isn't remote at all. It's only an hour's drive away if your car could go straight upwards."

- Fred Hoyle

McCain Not Ruling Out Run for President

Good. It would be a pleasure to cross swords with The Senator. Although my Republican friends are skeptical, I think he'd be a great and formidable candidate. Of all the GOP possibles, I find him the most attractive. He's even someone I'd consider voting for. . .if I wasn't a Yellow Dog Democrat.

So, the potential G.O.P. lineup seems to be (at the moment) Gov. Mitt Romney, possibly Rudy Giuliani (although I think his personal conduct may be a little hard to swallow, especially for the new republican core), and Sen. McCain. But then, Sen. Frist--who still feels a little obscure to the general public--may be a possibility too. And what about Mark Racicot? I thought he'd make a strong candidate too. I don't know what his next gig is after the election. He would go into the game without a political office--which has its upside too: he could begin campaigning very early.

The Dems? What do we have: apparent front-runner Sen. Clinton. There's Sen. Kerry (unlikely, I think. Have we given anyone a second crack at it since Adlai Stevenson?). Senator Edwards. . .who I thought didn't measure up to his primary performance in the election. Ex Veep Al Gore (also unlikely). I suspect at least one more Governor and one more Senator may emerge. . .no, I don't suspect, I hope!

Sun Nov 21,11:46 PM ET

By WILLIAM C. MANN, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - Sen. John McCain (news, bio, voting record), R-Ariz., said Sunday he is not ruling out a run for the 2008 presidential nomination, but that he is not a candidate now. A decision to run, if one should come, would not be made for at least two years, said McCain, speaking only a few weeks after the 2004 campaign ended with President Bush (news - web sites) winning a second term.
AP Photo

"Look, I'm not running for president," McCain told NBC's "Meet the Press," and added: "I do not foreclose the option."
McCain, a senator since 1986, made a strong run for the Republican nomination in 2000 but lost to Bush in a bitter campaign.
Still, McCain added his popularity to Bush's re-election campaign this year after rejecting overtures from Sen. John Kerry (news - web sites) to join the Democratic ticket as the vice presidential candidate.
"There will be plenty of time to consider whether to run for president again, but certainly I don't think it's in any way appropriate for me to speculate on that at this time," McCain said on NBC.
He was asked when that time might come.
"I would think at least not for a couple of years," McCain said.
"You know, the president hasn't even been inaugurated yet. Isn't it a little unseemly for any of us to start on that path again?"
At least one prominent Republican, Sen. Chuck Hagel (news, bio, voting record) of Nebraska, already has said he is considering a 2008 run for the White House.
If McCain were to run, he would turn 72 on Aug. 29, 2008, at the height of the campaign. Only President Reagan was older at his inauguration — 73 at the start of his second term.
Asked whether age might be a factor in his decision whether to run, McCain said: "Yes, I think that would have to be a consideration," he replied. However, he said, "I have a wonderful mother who is 92. Maybe I could use her as an example."

Sunday, November 21, 2004

What The Movies Teach Us (List Number 8)

This is a concatenation of two different "internet" files, with a few of my own lines thrown in. Authorship of the originals is totally unknown. I found several people claiming authorship of parts of it...so who really knows? /jack

During all police investigations it is necessary to visit a strip club at least once.
Dogs can survive natural and man-made disasters that wipe out entire human populations.
If being chased through town, you can usually take cover in a passing Chinese New Year parade -- at any time of the year.

All beds have special L-shaped cover sheets which reach up to the armpit level on a woman but only to waist level on the man lying beside her.

All grocery shopping bags contain at least one stick of French Bread (and celery!)

It's easy for anyone to land a plane providing there is someone in the control tower to talk you down.

Once applied, lipstick will never rub off -- even while scuba diving.

The ventilation system of any building is the perfect hiding place. Nobody will ever think of looking for you in there and you can travel to any other part ofthe building you want without difficulty.

If you need to reload your gun, more ammo will always appear...even if you haven't been carrying any before now.

You're very likely to survive any battle in any war unless you make the mistake of showing someone a picture of your sweetheart back home.

Should you wish to pass yourself off as a German officer, it is not necessary to speak the language. A German accent will do.

If your town is threatened by an imminent natural disaster or killer beast, the mayor's first concern will be the tourist trade.

The Eiffel Tower can be seen from any window in Paris.

A man will show no pain while taking the most ferocious beating but will wince when a woman tries to clean his wounds.

If a large pane of glass is visible, someone will be thrown through it before long.

The Chief of Police is always black.

When paying for a taxi, don't look at your wallet as you take out a bill -- just grab one at random and hand it over. It will always be the exact fare.

Interbreeding is genetically possible with any creature from elsewhere in the universe.

Kitchens don't have light switches at night -- when entering a kitchen at night, you should open the refrigerator door and use that light instead.

If staying in a haunted house, women should investigate any strange noises in their most revealing underwear.

Mothers routinely cook eggs, bacon and waffles for their family every morning.
Cars that crash will almost always burst into flames.

A single match will be sufficient to light up a room the size of a stadium.

Medieval peasants had perfect teeth.

Although in the 20th century it is possible to fire weapons at an object out of our visual range, people of the 23rd century will have lost this technology.

Any person waking from a nightmare will sit bolt upright and pant.

It is not necessary to say hello or goodbye when beginning or ending phone conversations.
Even when driving down a perfectly straight road it is necessary to turn the steering wheel vigorously from left to right every few moments.

All bombs are fitted with electronic timing devices with large red readouts so you know exactly when they're going to go off.

It is always possible to park directly outside the building you are visiting, especially in New York and L.A.

A detective can only solve a case once he has been suspended from duty.

If you decide to start dancing in the street, everyone around you will know all the steps.

Most laptop computers are powerful enough to override the communication systems of any invading alien civilization.

It does not matter if you are heavily outnumbered in a fight involving martial arts -- your enemies will wait patiently to attack you one-by-one by dancing around in a threatening manner until you have knocked out their predecessors.

When a person is knocked unconscious by a blow to the head, they will never suffer a concussion or brain damage.

Nobody involved in a car chase, hijacking, explosion, volcanic eruption or alien invasion will ever go into shock -- if they do, they will die within five minutes.

Police Departments give their officers personality tests to make sure they are deliberately assigned a partner who is their total opposite.

When they are alone, all foreigners prefer to speak English to each other.

You can always find a chainsaw when you need one.

Any lock can be picked by a credit card or a paper clip in seconds unless it's the door to a burning building with a child trapped inside.

Television news bulletins usually contain a story that affects you personally at that precise moment.

Give Yourself More Space In The Elevator (List Number 7)

Make race car noises when anyone gets on or off.

When arriving at your floor, grunt and strain to yank the doors open, then act embarrassed when they open by themselves.

Stare, grinning, at another passenger for a while, and then announce: "I've got new socks on!"

If anyone brushes against you, recoil and holler "Bad touch!

"Give religious tracts (preferably Jack Chick) to each passenger.

Greet everyone getting on the elevator with a warm handshake and ask them to call you Admiral.

Bet the other passengers you can fit a quarter in your nose.

Ask each new passenger if you can push the button for them.

Draw a square on the floor with chalk and announce to the other passengers that this is your "personal space."

Make explosion noises when anyone presses a button.

Cop Call Codes II (List Number 6)

10-0 Exercise great caution.
10-1 Reception is poor.
10-2 Reception is good.
10-3 Stop transmitting.
10-4 Message received.
10-5 Relay message.
10-6 Change channel.
10-7 Out of service/unavailable for assignment.
10-7A Out of service at home.
10-7B Out of service - personal.
10-7od Out of service - off duty
10-8 In service/available for assignment.
10-9 Repeat last transmission.
10-10 Off duty.
10-10A Off duty at home.
10-11 Identify this frequency.
10-12 Visitors are present (be discrete).
10-13 Advise weather and road conditions.
10-14 Citizen holding suspect.
10-15 Prisoner in custody.
10-16 Pick up prisoner.
10-17 Request for gasoline.
10-18 Equipment exchange.
10-19 Return/returning to the station.
10-20 Location?
10-21 Telephone:______
10-21a Advise home that I will return at ______.
10-21b Phone your home
10-21r Phone radio dispatch
10-22 Disregard the last assignment.
10-22c Leave area if all secure.
10-23 Standby.
10-24 Request car-to-car transmission.
10-25 Do you have contact with _______?
10-26 Clear.
10-27 Driver's license check.
10-28 Vehicle registration request.
10-29 Check wants/warrants.[vehicle] (PIN,SVS)
10-29a Check wants/warrants [subject] (PIN)
10-29c Check complete [subject]
10-29f The subject is wanted for a felony.
10-29h Caution - severe hazard potential.
10-29r Check wants/record [subject (PIN,CJIC)
10-29m The subject is wanted for a misdemeanor.
10-29v The vehicle is wanted in connection with a crime.
10-30 Does not conform to regulations.
10-32 Drowning.
10-33 Alarm sounding.
10-34 Assist at office.
10-35 Time check.
10-36 Confidential information.
10-37 Identify the operator.
10-39 Can ______ come to the radio?
10-40 Is ______ available for a telephone call?
10-42 Check on the welfare of/at ______.
10-43 Call a doctor.
10-45 What is the condition of the patient?
10-45A Condition of patient is good.
10-45B Condition of patient is serious.
10-45C Condition of patient is critical.
10-45D Patient is deceased.
10-46 Sick person [ambulance enroute]
10-48 Ambulance transfer call
10-49 Proceed to/Enroute to ______.
10-50 Subject under the influence of narcotics/Take a report.
10-51 Subject is drunk.
10-52 Resuscitator is needed.
10-53 Person down.
10-54 Possible dead body.
10-55 Coroner's case.
10-56 Suicide.
10-56A Suicide attempt.
10-57 Firearm discharged.
10-58 Garbage complaint
10-59 Security check./Malicious mischief
10-60 Lock out.
10-61 Miscellaneous public service.
10-62 Meet a citizen.
10-62A Take a report from a citizen.
10-62B Civil standby.
10-63 Prepare to copy.
10-64 Found property.
10-65 Missing person
10-66 Suspicious person.
10-67 Person calling for help.
10-68 Call for police made via telephone.
10-70 Prowler.
10-71 Shooting.
10-72 Knifing.
10-73 How do you receive?
10-79 Bomb threat.
10-80 Explosion.
10-86 Any traffic?
10-87 Meet the officer at ______.
10-88 Fill with the officer/Assume your post.
10-91 Animal.
10-91a Stray.
10-91b Noisy animal.
10-91c Injured animal.
10-91d Dead animal.
10-91e Animal bite.
10-91g Animal pickup.
10-91h Stray horse
10-91j Pickup/collect ______.
10-91L Leash law violation.
10-91V Vicious animal.
10-95 Out of vehicle-pedestrian/ Requesting an I.D./Tech unit.
10-96 Out of vehicle-ped. send backup
10-97 Arrived at the scene.
10-98 Available for assignment.
10-99 Open police garage door.
10-100 Civil disturbance - Mutual aid standby.
10-101 Civil disturbance - Mutual aid request.

Poem: The M.D.s

Trying to put forever
On hold
Just a little while longer
In return
For a cut of the profits
In the interim.
jack brummet

Katamari Damacy

This new game for PS/2 is in the great tradition of wacky Japanese videogames. It's way outside. It has possibly flimsiest overarching story of any game I have ever played. And yet even that is compelling. The King of All Cosmos wakes up one morning to discover he had apparently partied a bit too long, and somehow lost all of the stars in the sky. The translation of the King's dialog is wonderfully idiomatic and on target. He is completely insane, and spends a lot of his time flinging insults, at you, his son as you are deployed on missions to help recover the missing stars.

The game controls, like all my favorite Japanese games, are extremely simple. In this game there are no combo controls...all you do is use both of the analog joysticks. You roll up a ball of weird objects, all of which affect how the ball rolls. You pick up food, tacks, candy, white-out, legos--all sorts of stuff. And you roll and grow this ball. It sounds pathetic. But it is completely compelling. The game has huge replay value. The mechanics are simple and fun enough that anyone can enjoy the game...not just gamers.

Namco is selling the game for $19.95--an amazing price point for a new game. Games at this price are usually either duds, or have been out for years. Did I mention that the music, too, is oddly compelling? The backgrounds and art are pretty basic...but it totally works!

Believe it or not the publisher's (Namco) website actually did a good job of summarizing the game:

"Play is controlled with the analog sticks only. No buttons to press. No combos to cause distress. Featuring ball-rolling and object-collecting gameplay mechanics of mesmerizing fluidity, reduced to Pac-Man simplicity, through pure absurdity.

Dimensions change drastically as your clump grows from a fraction of an inch to a monstrous freak of nature. Go from rolling along a tabletop to ravaging through city streets, picking up momentum and skyscrapers along the way.

Two-player battle mode lets you compete in a race to grow the biggest ball of stuff. Even the competition can be picked up, if your opponent is unfortunate enough to get in your way.

Enjoy quirky, infectious humor throughout—from the insanely cosmic animations, to the wacky and wonderful musical stylings, to the royally contagious storyline that's undoubtedly like no other. "

Saturday, November 20, 2004

The Phonetic Cop Alphabet.(List Number 5)

A Adam
B Boy
C Charles
D David
E Edward
F Frank
G George
H Henry
I Ida
J John
K King
L Lincoln
M Mary
N Nora
O Ocean
P Paul
Q Queen
R Robert
S Sam
T Tom
U Union
V Victor
W William
X X-ray
Y Yellow
Z Zebra

Another Poem: Charlie Parker

As buzzards, kites and hawks
darkened the skies
a songbird flew among us -
a waxwork Daedalus
who couldn't face up to The Sun.

An actual bird with real wings,
he soared on fire,
beating his drumsticks
until the feathers were gone.

Bird carved himself
and the ornithologists wept.

Jack Brummet

A Poem - Acrylic

Stuck under the static sky,
The figure you brushed in
Wants off canvas.
He will not be your Man With Blue Banjo anymore.
He wants to be what he will be,
Not sailing a scumbled sea
Under impasto thunderheads.
He is tired of the dark sun
And wants to lie down and rest.

No news comes from a far country.
The real estate around him--
A confabulation of blue and red stone--
Chills in a rare-harbored ocean.

The black sun was pushed, fell or jumped
To shine back upon itself.
He knows the sun will never go down.
He cannot open his mouth to scream.
The oars will never move.
The island of color
Will always be eight inches away
And the boat
Will always be sinking.
The tattered sails hang in the wind.
The next day refuses to begin.
He clutches that blue banjo
As his ship tilts toward heaven.

Jack Brummet

[published in the magazine Electrum]

Friday, November 19, 2004

My Worst Jobs, Part 1 - McGoo

In 1983, I let an old college friend--McGoo--talk me into coming to work for him. I didn't last long. It was one of the most painful and hilarious experiences of my life. We were a magazine for construction professionals with a plan center (where they could view blueprints and create bids for various open-bid projects). Our job: to sell subscriptions and advertising in the magazine.

Jagetafuckinorderyet? McGoo tried for a short period to not allow anyone to leave the boiler room until they had "an order." You were not allowed to take a whiz until you got an order. "For the good of the order" was our watchword. I never quite knew if that meant for us, the brother- and sister-hood of salespeople, or just for the order itself.

Of the five salespeople under McGoo, I was the only one whose salary/draw was not garnished.

In sales, it's all about the leads (as you know from seeing or reading Glenngarry Glen Ross). Of course, McGoo got the cream of the crop, and only so many would come in per week; the rest were continually recycled.

When you called the marks, you wrote down on the cards how they responded. McGoo would erase what you wrote, and nothing would happen. Then the card would be handed back out on two weeks later on Monday as one of your 20 "free" leads for the week. I would call someone at a construction company and their wife would answer and tell me that her husband had died last week. I would apologize and write on the card—remove from lead pool, customer died. And then the card would be handed out again that week as part of out precious leads (after that you were on your own, which basically meant calling everyone you knew in construction (for me that was approximately no one). Or, you hit the yellow pages which were even more fruitless than the worthless leads Mcgoo handed out. After he cherry-picked any choice ones that happened to fall in there.

Someone would call the poor widow every Monday morning. One guy told me that if we ever called him again he would come down and break our faces. I wrote that on the card. And I called him a couple weeks later.

The cards came back again and again. Finally, one really brain damaged guy came down with steam coming out of his ears and McGoo had to do some mighty fast dancing (natch', blaming it all on "those fuckin' morons in the boilerroom"). When you wrote TD on a lead, it meant you had been seriously turned down. In theory, the lead would lay fallow for a couple of months. But not under the McGoo system. A turndown was merely a moment of temporary insanity on the part of a recalcitrant customer, coupled with gross salesman incompetence. So you would end up calling the same guy every Monday and he'd tell you "nothing has changed. I still don't want the magazine, creep. Now don't call me again."

Your twenty precious leads would almost always dwindle down to maybe three real. if remote, possibilities. By this time, with a stack of turndowns, you were so desperate to get McGoo off your ass, you didn't try to sell them the real ripoff. . .you sold them the lowball subscription ($100). A lot of the guys were so desperate to salve Mcgoo that they would write up a fake sale. That took the heat off. But a couple weeks later when the cancelled subscription meant there was hell to pay. . .McGoo got his commissions early, so a cancellation meant they would actually dock him too.

Meanwhile, of course, McGoo's stack of leads were from people who sent in the fallout cards saying "Yes, I am interested in subscribing. Please contact me." So by the time we rolled in Monday morning (McGoo having arrived early to shuffle and cherrypick the fresh leads), McGoo would have four or five orders on the boards, and we would be in the hole. I forget what term he used for someone who didn't yet have an order, but it was something like shithead.

A conversation
"Jack get a godamned order on the books. Be a man."
"Christ, I'm trying, Jim."
"That's the difference between me and the rest of you shitheads. You're trying. You're dyin'. I'm doing. While you’re flogging the old salami, I’m soaking my hose in prime Grade A cooch."

Another Conversation "I'm going to lunch, Jim."
"J'get a fucking order yet Jack?"
"No, but I'm hungry."
"Get back on the phone. Hungry salesmen make the best salesmen. No one cares whether shitheads eat or not. Get a fawkin' order and I'll buy you a fuckin' T-bone!"

Bill Ryan
A second generation Irishman, who drove about a 1966 Cadillac convertible. Didn’t go to college. Black sheep of his family. About a week after I started at Construction Data, his salary was garnisheed by some credit card company. One thing Bill needed was that monthly cash infusion to keep things juggled. . .he worked his debtors in some sort of bizarre pyramid scheme. He had a volcanic temper and was endlessly tailed by bill collectors, repo men, and rumpled private detectives. He thought Keelin was way too hot for a non-Irishman.

Pat Sherwin
He made Willy Loman look like a superhuman dynamo. “I had some fucking scores, I tell you Jack. I was salesman of the year twice, got a new Buick once and a trip to Hawaii another time. And here I sit with a sick wife, a fuckin' basket of picked over leads and a fuckin' punk kid tellin' me what to do and insulting me. Life is the green-apple shits, Jack."

My First Day On The Job
I rolled into the office at 8:30. McGoo, was, of course, glad to see me, chatting me up, introducing me around and he was truly happy to have some sort of lit brother working with him. After maybe an hour, he tossed me a pile of stuff to read. I read it in ten minutes.

“OK John, you’re ready to go.”

He handed me a freshly printed stack of lead cards.

“Well, it’s about time to get you on the books today. I want you to close one of these before lunch.”

“Jim, I’d really like to listen to some of the other guys do this for a while. I don’t know what to say to these people.”

“John, you can do it. You’re selling something they want that will make them money, and in return they give you theirs. You can listen to the rest of us all fawking night and it ain’t going to help you a bit. You’ve got to start working those taps and coming up with a magic script. It’s not really all that different from sex. You get them interested, you talk to them, you woo them. And then when things have heated up, you close. An’ you know what? Every time you close it feels every bit as good as when you finally get to stick the old salami in the jellyroll.”

My First Telephone Call
“I’ve told every one of you sonofabitches that I didn’t want your goddamned magazine. EVER! I’ve told you never to call me. AND YOU CALL EVERY FUCKING WEEK.”

“I’m, sorry, Sir, but I was working with some information that said you might be interested in knowing more about Construction Data. Possibly I could send you a free copy of our magazine. Maybe you would like to come down here and tour our plan center facility.”

“I’m going to come down there and tour your heads if I hear from you assholes again.”

“Sorry you feel that way. If you ever do decide. . ." [CLICK].

I started to write notes on the card—saying don’t call this guy back. McGoo grabbed the card from my hand.

“What the fuck are you doing?”

“Making notes. “

“You don’t need to write anything on that card, John. Just a note. This was a soft turndown, so you write STD on the card, date it, and put it on the bottom of your stack. We send the leads back in to the main office every Friday night.”

Under the McGoo system, a turndown was merely a moment of temporary insanity. You had to call back fairly soon. . .in McGoo’s theory, if you called back often enough, eventually the mark might think “Hey, these guys are persistent. They must have something good going here.”

McGoo plunged on with my indoctrination.

“So he says no Johnnie. Simply mark it STD. We’ll turn that piece of dog shit sooner or later. He’ll bare his sphincter and beg us to give him a poke. He will crumble and eventually beg for a solid rodgering at top dollar!”

“If he doesn’t come down and cave our heads in first. . .”

“Ah, you missed it. These guys are more hot air than salesmen. And that’s why we eventually triumph. These guys are construction people, we’re pros. Ok. You’ve plunged in. Now, you gotta start with the lingo."

"They say you called them last month, ok, fine. You tell them you are calling back because they did seem interested and you are in a position this week to offer them significant price breaks on Construction Data, if they are able to act quickly.”

“I can’t say that. . .you know. . .it just doesn’t fall off the tongue. Significant price breaks sound phony.”

“Johnnie, me boy. There is no shame in making money. One thing you’ve got to get over is feeling self-conscious or embarrassed. Feel embarrassed at being a goddamned shithead!"

“But I feel like I’m running some scam on them. It’s hard to do…”

“The only people in this room who should be embarrassed are the people who don’t get an order. Now, I want you to get started again. Would a drink help? I’ve got five bucks. Let’s go across the street, I’ll have a club soda and you can have. . .what do you like to drink?”

So we went for a drink, McGoo, recently hooked up with AA, telling me all the while that I would make the breakthrough.

Some Advice from Mcgoo
“Once you get that first order. . .Johnnie me boy. . . you will become an inhuman selling dynamo.”

“I’m not quite there yet.”

“Johnnie, me boy, you don’t even need to sell this thing. . .it sells its fucking self. You are barely even a salesman! All you have to do is punch in a few numbers and start writing orders. You are going to get on the books big time.”

Back at the office, I glumly stare at my pathetic short stack of leads. OK. Number two.

“Like I said the last time, my husband died last year. I’m 75. Why would I need a five hundred dollar construction magazine?”

So I wrote STD on the card and put it at the bottom of the deck.

“John, my boy, you aren’t taking them all the way. You get their pants down around their ankles, and you don't stick it in! If you need a little hand on these, I’ll be your closer.”

The Business Cards, or, How I became Jack Brummet
The next day, McGoo handed me business cards.

“Jack Brummet. Circulation marketing and feature article writer?”

“I like that, yeah, Jack. John is a pussy name. Jack’s the name of a man's man. These are constuction guys. ”

I became Jack. And I still am.

My First Order
Later that day I closed my first order. I sold one year at the “full boat” price. I was “on the books” and flying high. 1 year= $549. 6 mos= $299. 6 mos=$100.

I was on the books and on top of the boilerroom board, until McGoo closed three in a row to remove me from my perch. I was on my second day. McGoo put the heavy pressure on Bill Ryan.

“Jaysus, Bill, Jack, a total frigging rookie comes in here and closed on a full boat. What have you done for me today?”

Within two hours, Bill had closed two big orders, put his name at the top of the board for the day, and departed work. The two orders were utterly bogus. Bill just signed up a couple of his leads for subscriptions.

"We'd Like To Put An Article About You In Our Publication"
As a fellow lit-brother to McGoo, I was ahead of the other salespeople in one regard. One regard I was never much able to capitalize on: we would write articles for our magazine, if we could get the contractors or suppliers to buy a large subscription or ad schedule. I would write absurd puff pieces on these various dimwits that they could pass around to their friends and family. Alas, my heart was in that even less than in selling overpriced subscriptions and advertisements.

Cancellations and deadbeats
Every two weeks, in came an accounting from the main office of people you sold to who had cancelled. Or who were deadbeats. Your commission was then deducted from your account, and you were in the hole. The Deadbeats, you called yourself.

It was always agony and explosions of anger on cancellation day. And whenever you lost a commission, McGoo lost his sales manager cut too. By the time half these cancellations rolled in, people had forgotten they had faked them in the first place. Bill Ryan specialized in writing up phony orders for corporations. The companies would actually pay the subscription about half the time. It was always a dark on cancellation day--especially for those of us who never made the nut, and were always underwater on our commissions.

Pat Sherwin, probably about 65 or so, was the hardest hit. He had an invalid wife and was just barely holding it all together. When he got cancelled, he was utterly gripped with panic and fear. And McGoo felt that those twin emotions were the best sales motivational tool ever developed. Pat would nearly be crying, having just lost $500 in commissions. McGoo would always offer to buy you a drink and tell you his solution to the problem. The solution was invariably "sell more!"

“Ain’t nothing going to happen here boys, ain’t nothing going to happen until I hear those phones dialing Dialing DIALING!!! I’ve walked in here about five times this morning and no one is on the motherfucking phone. NO ONE IS ON THE PHONE!!! What the fuck do you think? You think the fuckin’ customers are just going to call in and throw money at you? I’ll listen to you The Fuckin' Sales Force complain just as soon as I see they are actually working. I got three orders this morning while you were shaking off your goddamned hangovers!"

"I want every phone nigger in this room to book at least $250 by lunch. The orders are out there. The only question is are you men enough to close them? Or are you going to stand here all day blubbering about a bunch of goddamned cancellations? You could be halfway out of the hole if you just got on the phones. Dial for dollars, boys, starting now.

Archive.org rocks!

"The Internet Archive is building a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. Like a paper library, we provide free access to researchers, historians, scholars, and the general public."

What a truly amazing site. Public domain movies (great industrials and propaganda). A massive live music archive. You have a band? You can put your live shows there. The archive, to give one example, is a great source of live Grateful Dead shows from 1966-1995. For The Grateful Dead alone, they have 2,774 shows online, or roughly 6,000+ hours of live Dead music. You can download a two-three hour show in seven minutes. There are shows by Little Feat, Cracker, Bela Fleck and many other people and bands.

Want to hear the Kennedy-Nixon debates? They're all there. Hear Lindbergh, and FDR, and the secret tapes of LBJ and Robert McNamara discussing the war in SE Asia.

The archive also includes the entire Prelinger Archives (by Rick Prelinger in NYC). From 1983 to 2003, it grew to a collection of over 48,000 "ephemeral" (advertising, educational, industrial, and amateur) films. It includes a lot of wonderful instructional films about dating, weird industrials, duck and cover movies, and on and on. Check out the movies Breakfast Pals, Are You Popular, Your Name Here, or The Shy Guy, starring the fellow who played Samantha's husband on Bewitched...

This is an amazing web site. You could waste a lot of time here. /jack

Elvis Presley's Shopping List (List Number 4)

The following are the items Elvis Presley required to be on hand at Graceland at all times. I wonder if they used the same list to stock his green rooms too?

fresh, lean, unfrozen ground meat
one case regular Pepsi
one case orange drinks
rolls (hot rolls - Brown 'n' Serve)
cans of biscuits (at least six)
hamburger buns
potatoes and onions
assorted fresh fruits
cans of sauerkraut
at least three bottles of milk and 1/2 & 1/2 cream
thin, lean bacon
peanut butter
fresh, hand-squeezed cold orange juice
banana pudding (to be made each night)
ingredients for meat loaf and sauce
brownies (to be made each night)
ice cream - vanilla and chocolate
shredded coconut
fudge cookies
gum (Spearmint, Doublemint, Juicy Fruit - three each)
cigars (El Producto Diamond Tips; El Producto Altas)
Super Anahist
Sucrets (antibiotic red box)
Feenamint gum
matches (four to five books)

Thursday, November 18, 2004

The 300 Most Common Words (List Number 3)

As you can probably tell, I like lists and enumerations. I have had this one kicking around for years. It actually tells a lot about us. For better or worse.

the of and a to in is you that it he for was on are as with his they at be this from I have or by one had not but what all were when we there can an your which their said if do will each about how up out them then she many some so these would other into has more her two like him see time could no make than first been its who now people my made over did down only way find use may water long little very after words called just where most know get through back much before go good new write our used me man too any day same right look think also around another came come work three word must because does part even place well such here take why things help put years different away again off went old number great tell men say small every found still between name should Mr home big give air line set own under read last never us left end along while might next sound below saw something thought both few those always looked show large often together asked house don't world going want school important until one form food keep children feet land side without boy once animals life enough took sometimes four head above kind began almost live page got earth need far hand high year mother light parts country father let night following two picture being study second eyes soon times story boys since white days ever paper hard near sentence better best across during today others however sure means knew it's try told young miles sun ways thing whole hear example heard several change answer room sea against top turned three learn point city play toward five using himself usually

Source: The American Heritage Word Frequency Book by John B. Carroll, Peter Davies, and Barry Richman (Houghton Mifflin, 1971, ISBN 0-395-13570-2).

poem: The Marriage

Two tattered mannequins
Prop each other up
In the Salvation Army Store window

Civil Unions v. Marriage

We know now from our last election, that whatever people tell the pollsters, they will vote against allowing marriages between gay and lesbian couples. They even got John Kerry to say he was against it. I have to admit, it baffles me why this is such a controversial topic. Especially since most of the people (at least the political ones) like The President, say they are for "civil unions." This seems like splitting hairs.

Since it now appears gay/lesbian marriage will never be approved either through a referendum or through legislation, we need to take it to the next branch, I guess. We need some lawsuits. that will end up having marriage declared unconsitutional because it is discriminatory.

This would hit some of the most rabid anti-gay/lesbian marriage folks right in the breadbasket. Among that population, marriage is required before you can--how can I put this delicately?--f***. If we cut off that avenue, then perhaps we could all come to agreement on this pointless fight.

Some stock characters (Jack List Number 2)

The hooker with a heart of gold.
The fire-and-brimstone evangelist who's really a profligate whoremonger.
The girl who takes off her glasses and is beautiful.
The brave cancer boy who teaches his elders a thing or two about love.
The valiant-yet-flawed public defender. Probably drinks heavily.
The simpering, liberal public defender.
The rich kid who needs to be taken down a peg.
The wistful and guilt-ridden ex-convict.
The vengeful and seemingly omnipotent ex-convict.
The hanging judge.
The crazy judge.
The wisecracking judge.
The tired, bitter judge.
The wacky genius.
The insane genius.
The evil, hateful terrorist.
The "complicated," vaguely regretful terrorist.
The mean old lady who really just needs a friend.

I've Always Loved This Poem by Bob Hershon


Everyone's first name means
Beloved of the Lord
or Bearer of Glad Tidings
or Valiant in Battle

except Ichabod
which means The Glory
has Departed

and must be considered
the name for the future
along with The Liar is Thriving
Unbearable Cruelty and
The Shitheads are Running the Show
- Robert Hershon

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

My Worst Jobs, Part 3 - SALSA

Jack’s running log on how a $100 million a year software company spent $30-50 million on a software application that never really worked, and appeared two years late. We were to create a new database program, based on the theories of Dr. K_______. The database uses semantic object modeling to enable users who know their business to create complex databases without understanding database theory--things like data normalization, many to many relations, entity-relationship models and diagrams. In short, anyone can create a database. It was a nice theory.

Dr. K______ utilized a lot of the current theory of learning to create the semantic object model. By the time I started the burn rate for the project had to be around $2 million a month. I was spending over $1.5 million a year for testers, and more for writers and testing contractors. By the time it was all over I had run tech support, testing, a four person group of writers, a two person IT department, a testing tools group, a gaggle of testing contractors that varied between 2 and 15 people, and probably some other things I don't even remember. I didn't have any trouble managing anything but the testing.

The challenges of testing were the worst--because the application really never fully worked until shortly before it shipped. Frequently, QA/Testing became the scapegoats. We were forced to test things that wouldn't even work for a year. I was the nay-sayer. Eventually, the President of the company offered to put the team on a paid furlough to prevent us from piling up even greater numbers. There were times when we had 3,000 open bugs. If the app. had actually worked, we might have had 10,000 open. Although the database should have been able to handle the most complex data scenarios, we spent a large time just testing a database that held twenty city and state names. We couldn't even get to the the really crazy stuff.

Testing databases is extremely complex and requires a lot of automation and endless permutations of managing the data. By the time the app. shipped, we had only touched the possibilities. We started keeping a log of the various steps management took to get the project back on the rails. By the time I started work, they were already about one year down the wrong road, and were massively re-engineering the very guts of the system. I didn't spend much time editing what follows. In some ways it was just too painful. . .

1. I start at Wall on January 2, 1994 (jack). The project is already late. It looks about five times larger than anyone is admitting. I only discover on my first day at work that everyone except the testers are completely delusional about the state of the project. And even the testers are looking on the sunny side. I am stunned and amazed. On my first day, Dr. K______ asked me to weasel in and find out "what is going on in the PQA group."
2. Dr. K____________ is deposed in favor of E.G., a wall top Sales type who is now VP of the SALSA business unit. March 1994. By this date, I could already see the wheels coming off. Eileen is truly scary because she doesn't have a clue about software. Not even a hunt of a clue.
3. People are desperate for news of progress. Or even rumors of progress. Therefore, a Feature Complete projection was announced by by E.G. on 7/6/94: The Big Date-- Aug. 22, 1994. After she met with the Dev. Director for six hours, she came up with that date. We are feature complete, but we haven’t spec’d out or written large parts of the software yet. . . There is no way anyone can even grasp how much there is to do, how many dead ends and bottlenecks we have yet to face. . .
3a. I discover that they really didn't hire me to run technical support. They hired me to take over the testing department from the two competent people already running it. Competent, but not wise politically. They had lost credibility and needed a new leader to regain their lost ground.
4. So...eight months later, we weren't even close. If people realized they would be in crunch mode for the next 16 months, there would have surely been a mass exodus. But, alas, this was a cass of mass delusion.
4a. E.G. email of August 23, 1994: “Well, we didn't make our feature complete date and I didn't want it to go by without some acknowlegement. Well, so, we didn't make it. Ho hum. It would have been nice - and no one is off the hook - but we are absolutely moving forward. Do you realize that as little as 2 months ago we were in a week for week slip on identified tasks AND new tasks were somehow creeping into the schedule??? It was NOT a pretty picture. Can you appreciate the FABULOUS turnaround that the Dev. Director and his people have executed?? That we will likely deliver feature complete within spitting distance of our original target date? This is a @$%#@!!! miracle. HATS OFF TO THE DEV DIRECTOR AND HIS TEAM. KEEP ON KEEPING ON!!! Let's go for Feature Complete before Labor Day Weekend!!!” [more delusion!!]
5. UI Committee formed. To mediate and decide all UI issues. The U.I. is a complete mess. And why wouldn't it be the way the app. was being changes constantly.
6. "Comprehensive" Build Notes established 8/20/94 to assuage heavy QA complaints about code thrown over the wall with no notice or instruction. There was never a day on which at least one major part of the app. was not broken--scripting, generating databases, the U.I.--you name it.
7. The Fezes: help developers remember they are for end users. Cheap fezes given to all developers. Every time they see the fez, they were to remember they were doing this app. for "the people."
8. Retargeted product from app developers to power users. Major shift! Originally this was intended for serious databases. VP and Marketing manager decided power users for our marketing target were anyone who could use Word or Excel.
9. Company meetings every morning at 9:30
10. Cute names: for development groups and modules: Snoopy, Lucy, The Pez Dispenser, The Sous-chef, Cooking, Frogs, Runts
11. Development Leads, and more. Longest employed Developers become leads.
12. Morning company meetings peter out this week (Oct. 94).
13. Crunch Bars handed out to cement crunch mode. Can't eat them until crunch is over.
14. Boxes of Captain Crunch cereal handed out to memorialize crunch mode. Jan. 25 1995 [the app will finally ship March 1996] . They expect it will be out the door in three months.
15. [The Month of the Long Knives]: LH, DH, and SM all "leave for other pursuits" or something quite like it!
16. Quiet Time I 2-4 daily February 2, 1995. Let the developers focus!
17. Hand out four day vacation certificates to selected developers (2 days of which were weekends) note: they couldn't actually take the vacations until one year later.
18. A new batch of ca-ca will hit the fan tommorrow. Feb. 5, 1995: Email warmup: "WHICH PART OF MY MESSAGE WAS NOT CLEAR??. . . .we are going to have to pull some kind of god-@#$%!!! miracle to get the BETA out the door this month. . .what the hell is going on here? . . . .THIS IS SERIOUS. IS ANYONE CONFUSED??? I'll see you all at 9:30 tomorrow morning to figure out IF we can avoid losing the patient on the operating table..."
18a. quiet time abandoned.
19. The Sixteen Minute Olympic Motivational Address, Delivered by E.G., 9:30 AM, February 6, 1995, Seattle, Washington “WHERE IN THE FUCKING HELL WAS PQA AND THE OTHER FIFTEEN FUCKING DEVELOPERS?" ". . .I will NEVER NEVER ever let that happen to me again!" "I refuse to lose again!" “When I lost the Olympic Time Trials, I was one tenth of second from being in the Olympics. I vowed at that moment I would never lose again. "If anyone, anyone in this room, gets in the way of me succeeding this time, I will rip your fucking throats out..."
20. The Bridge: A group of people in a room, a war room so to speak, to "To tie up the loose ends." as if that's all that is left. Loose ends!!! This is a room with five of us “making decisions to tie up the product with a bow, “ as Dr. K_________ says.
21. RGB SALSA Golf Shirts passed out by The Marketing Director. She also talks a lot about green crystals. . .and the detergent that didn’t sell until they put in these magic green crystals that did nothing. Is this app such a total fraud that we need the crystals??? All the marketing focus is on green crystals. Eventually they roll out a web site that cost $1 million. For all the green crystals, you can't even tell what our product was actually supposed to do. They hired a famous cartoonist to create weekly panels around some gibberish about a chili, a monkey, and some other riddles.
22. Massage give away contest for best 2 developers/ 2 PQA for the week.
23. Marketing Hairy Legs, Underarms, ???, and Face contest. Marketing won't shave until we ship! Armpits and legs shown. (this gimmick lasted maybe two weeks).
24. Marketing Pie Throwing Event. As a reward some of the individual contributors get to throw cream pies at the marketing people. Glen does his Cagney thing with a pie. Finally gets to work out on someone in marketing for all their haranguing MIS. He has to be pulled off mashing their faces into the pie.
25. THE SCOOP: issues 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. Neato features like interviews with developers talking about their star wars collections etc.
26. The Enhancement Committee. Bottleneck in the making. Decide all feature requests and changes. Later dropped in favor of another committee that did the same thing, but with a different name and more middle managers on it, which was later dropped for another committee, and on and on.
27. "Feature Complete" March 7 1995. Nyuk nyuk. A complete and utter fraud. Nothing is complete or even close.
28. Feature Complete T Shirts handed out. Most of the testers give theirs to street people outside our door in Pioneer Square. Once in a while, over the next year, you'd see a bum on the street wearing a SALSA feature complete t-shirt.
29. Dr. K_______ e-mail, “I Still Don’t Have Two Tires” In short, the app doesn’t work well enough to track a pair of tires in a tire shop. On one hand, David says we’re almost done, and then he says we can’t even keep track of two tires! He finally believes us. It doesn't work. I think Dr. K. could finally track two tires six months later.
30. Marketing is no longer allowed to do anything "Fun" until we ship per E.G. Feb 23 95.
31. Work 80 hours a week, a few weeks culminating in BETA ONE ….. beta one cannot hold 100 records in two unlinked tables. Who're we fooling?
32. Champagne Party as we ship beta one. Massive drunk. People are totally burned out.
33. PQA/PD/Tech Pubs get three days "off." Two of the days are Saturday and Sunday.
34. The Friends of SALSA Program instituted (five users who provide feedback, only one did) as an attempt at usability testing. We also did a $50,000 usability test in Texas that yielded bupkus. Our 50K did yield a couple of suggestions.
35. Friends of SALSA tee-shirts are distributed. To kick off the program (which of course petered out after a week).
36. The Dancing SSSs. February 1995. "add some marketing sizzle to the product" by introducing an animated splash screen that caused the app to crash for weeks, slowed down loading by 70%
37. The Color Wars: incentives for fixing failures. Split dev teams into colors. Development teams earn prizes! [this is the first in a disastrous set of giveaways to developers for doing their jobs].
38. Pass out embroidered hats for the Color Wars Teams
39. Eileen purchases a $250 Gong, to be bonged when we ship, which she thinks is very soon.
40. PQA Cool Developer of the week award—whoever did something cool, or screwed up the least or fixed the most irritating bug.
41. The Scoop publishes bogus interview with Jack Brummet.
42. PQA Cool PQA guy of the week award. Whoever in QA pulled off something outrageous gets a CD.
43. March 13, 1995 - pend everything in sight - for beta 2:::hide the bugs. Pend 500 bugs.
44. Job switch: "Promote" CW from Tech Pubs Mgr. to Usability Manager
45. Job Switch: Put John Brummet in pro tem charge of Tech Pubs and QA and Tech support.
46. Job Switch: Put The Marketing Director as pro tem in charge of Technical Support so Jack can run tech pubs.
47. Job switch: Dr. K_______ becomes a tester. "Now I understand why you guys are so cynical. Nothing that they say works, does."
48. Death of THE SCOOP. We'll really miss those developer profiles and their favorite foods.
49. Someone brought in a Cupid today—a guy in a costume, running around throwing candy and dumping his cigar ashes in JH's trash can, saying, “If it don’t hurt, it ain’t love.” JH threatened to brain him.
50. The Learning Tools. Some usability attempt (cue cards etc). A whole suite of stuff to help people learn. More feature creep. And yeah--we were supposed to not need these tools because the app. was so intuitive.
51. Quiet Time II. Oh yeah, the first one fizzled out, we forgot to document its death.
52. Weekly award presentation to a developer: “SALSA Superstar Award,” along with cash or dinner
53. The Failed Verfication War - heavy QA/PD tension. QA tracks fixes that dont' work.
54. The software isn't ready to beta again until all help links work - according to the Business Unit Head and the CEO/Chairman. What about actually work? The help will work, but the app will not.
55. Serial Testing Cycles. QA is ordered by VP Mall to test the whole product every week! As if we could. "Top to bottom in a week." But it still crashes in the middle. Dozens of open bugs on just using city-state records.
56. Job Switch (or, her third demotion): "Move" CW from Usability to be in charge of Learning Tools
57. Job Switch: Put Jim Mothershead in charge of Usability
58. EG/The Business Unit Head: "We don't believe in face time." But we bring in breakfast now too. We just don't publicly believe in face time.
59. Mardi Gras/Beta 2 Party. Depressing.
60. Six hour meeting to decide Beta "2.1" date. Jack. The Dev. Director and Business Unit Head hold a tension-filled meeting. Jack’s last statement: “we're not even ready to do a Beta 1, we haven’t even done beta 2. . .why focus on beta 2.1?? the app doesn’t work and there are things in here that may be technically impossible. We are wasting time, money and credibility. Let’s fix it. We're technically not even at alpha yet"
60a. The Vice President: “It’s not let’s fix it, Jack, it’s let’s ship it.” Jack's suggestion we are not at alpa even is shouted down.
61. End of Serial Testing Cycles (product too unstable to use for a week, or ten minutes at a time). Management finally agrees with QA again. The serial testing pass has yielded two thousand bugs in 9 days, the opposite of what they hoped would happen.
62. The Chairman/CEO visits The Bridge and has CW do a demo. He freaks out. Lambeth is trapped in there. Writes concurrently in email to PQA. "It's so f****g tense in here. The Chairman grilling CW...oh man."
63. Jim L. Emails a few minutes later "I figured out how to get through this. I just look over and picture them naked."
64. Beta Two nightmare. Jack halts shipment when the app stumbles on a simple problem. (CW shrieking "Works on MY Machine!" and "LET'S GO TO THE AIRPORT") Jack has a vision of taking the Louisville Slugger to her head. And the room exploded in a crimson fusillade.
65. SALSA Sweepstakes for new terminology (Lambeth won 2 sets of dinner for two for a load of terms that were all eventually abandoned in favor of newer terms purchased by marketing wizards)
66. Shipped Beta 2 with completely untested new QuadBase database at the last minute. Jack had a little note at the end of the read me, warning people not to save anything important in their database, because surely it will disappear if they actually succeed in creating one in the first place due to “transient anomalies.”
67. Ship Beta 2.1 because The Business Unit Head thought it was too long between betas. Nothing works better and some things are much worse. Bon appetit customers!
68. The Insulter Application--> a SALSA app that runs. Mostly.
69. End of Development Leads. They were ineffective.
71. Movie/dinner/Pike Place Market Spa gift certificates to various parties.
72. The Dev. Director and Jack hold a two hour meeting with The President on process.
73. Beta Three. App starting to work.
74. Drinks and chips at Irish bar, awards handed out, tee-shirts (SALSA: too sexy) handed out, pinatas broken, and some cash awards are disributed.
75. Regular re-supply of Doritos for CO and Mints for MW.
76. The Bonus Pool/Stock Options. "Oh boy we're gonna be rich." If the app sells $10 million, we get two mill to split up amongst 24 of us.
77. End of The Bridge. The Dir. of Development, Danny, Jim L, and CW return to their former offices.
78. The Chairman and CEO stops by Jack and Don's office for a chat on the product. Comments bewilderedly on Jack's artwork. He is angry and worried. Befuddled about how a project could be so far off course.
79. Drinks for everyone at Iguana's to celebrate the beta we shipped today. Jack note: no one installed the last beta, except The CEO/CHairman.
80. The Runtime Re-architecture and Code Review. A complete rewrite of one of the most critical app elements.
81. Beta Four. A lot of help stuff.
82. Quiet Time III. Because II fizzled out.
83. Dedicated Runtime Test Development: linkmany, xtable suites. Unit testing two years too late. I have two testers focused on this, plus a comprehensive automated test suite.
84. The Ed Report. QA member tells what actually works and doesn't. Like it or not. It is extremely depressing because mostly what works is installing it. After that, you're in deep ca-ca.
85. Script/formulas/PERPS Specification and Design Review. They are about to reengineer one of the core pieces of out technology. These pieces have a waterfall affect on almost everything else in the program.
86. Development Leads II. They bring back the leads. New Ones. So now we have the doomed new leads leading the old resentful leads.
87. Lobster Dinner for the developers (but they didn't get any wine!). What is that about? Lobster and coke?
88. Hiring sales crew. Why??????????? It’s a year early, I think. SO now we have all these sales people demanding that we just ship it.
89. The business Unit Head plans to hire 2 or more new development managers (will solve all our problems).
90. Developers writing code in their underwear (not official gimmick, but duly noted with much humor) . One guy acttually.
91. A.R. and his next gen dev. group roll out plan to ship 32 bit version with 60 days of SALSA FCS (note: it had not shipped 9 months later).
92. Coverage Analysis for The Business Unit Head: somehow prove the product is ready to go! When I gave it to her, it showed we were able to cover 12% of the app. We were blocked from the other 88% because it either didn't exist, or we were blocked from accessing it by bugs.
93. They take us to the Ziggy Marley show::::copious drinks, surreptitious bong hits, reggae.
94. Recruit J. Mothershead from PQA to write Import. An extremely important piece they left 'til very late. And they had no one to do it, do they used our testing tools developer.
95. Getting serious about tech pubs dept. /Hiring Kieran Mahoney (whew!) Jack is liberated from running Tech Pubs.
96. The Dev. Director and Jack hold a four hour meeting with VP of Dev. on process, what to cut, how to get code into testing faster.
97. Drive toward a new ship date. This is our 12th new ship date.
98. Providing Starbucks coffee only to SALSA group; rest of Wall Data gets Seattle’s Best.
99. The Business Unit Head takes Polaroid pictures of everyone day of Beta One ship, then buying black scrapbooks to make album, in which folks made numerous questionable sex and drug references in captions.
100. Writing a script specification in September, 1995. Too late. Oops the code is done. Oops. We have to rewrite the entire scripting module.
101. PD/PQA/Tech Pubs move to the Seventh floor
102. Pick-your-own-Ikea-lamp
103. You get to pick your own plants.
104. SALSA Story CD ROM
105. shifting around officemates. "Seeing if we can stir up synergy."
106. SALSA watches passed out. Jack's falls apart on Day Two.
107. 2nd hard drives for PD a year too late.
108. Picking your own plants cancelled. Too expensive.
109. The Marketing Director recently offered a bottle of “REALLY good” red wine for something. For naming some part of the app.
110. PD/PQA at Analysts’ Conference; purple polos and new pants/shoes for Danny and Ed
111. Cookies once a week. An incentive to show up?
112. Meatloaf and noodle surprise: free food three nights, and one Saturday a week. All the bad food you want.
113. If we get the product out by Thanksgiving, we get thanksgiving, Friday, and the weekend "off."
114. Cookies every other week now.
115. one month bug fix challenge:$2,500 potential incentive per developer
116. Death of the Ed Report. Too depressing.
117. Problem Finalization Board. This gimmick ran until the end.
118. Dr. K_______ becomes a tester again. To prove PQA is slacking, and being diffficult. And, naturally, he totally freaks out.
119. We lose the database shootout: We get second place--the steak knives!
120. CW deposed (demotion four) "temporarily" as head of Learning Tools Group
121. Kroenke runs the learning tools group
122. Ending the wine club. Two developers had been having a glass of wine with dinner. The Business Unit Head did not like that.
123. Starter Kits: The latest gimmick. Prebuilt applications for people to use. We can build them around the limitations of our database.
124. Do verifications faster, you lazy PQA animals. Verifications are screwing everything up. "We don't know where we are unless things are verified."
125. Bad Models--> The Business Unit Head "we must save our users from ever making one, and prevent SALSA from incorrectly allowing or using one."
126. Bad Models--> Dr. K_________: "there are bad models." Looks like a fight over bad models. Allowing bad models means we are not a user-friendly app.
127. Visual Freeze 11/3/95
128. New gimmick. The Doctor leaves the ivory tower. He had a sweet office sweet/think tank right on the pier, above Pier 56. email: "Dr. K_________ On The Move" (moves back to 1011 Western) Oct. 1, 1995
129. All failures that prevent testing must be marked as BLOCKING in Database. They must be emailed daily. They must be written on the whiteboard. We have now marked over 350 bugs as blocking.
129a. Developers and leads are now massively marking bugs as "cannot reproduce." Hundreds. Why? Because the app. crashes now before you can get to those bugs. Therefore, NO REPRO!!! Jack massively kicks back four hundred of these one night, igniting another anti-testing firestorm.
130. The Punch List (checklist of everything yet to do). Because they are in denial about the bugs....the focus is on what we need, not what's wrong.
131. the SALSA launch kickoff meeting/cocktail hour for mgrs/leads. Weird meeting weird vibes, Kroenke tears in eyes about his dream.
132. Death of the Dancing SSS's. Killed by The VP of Dev. Yeah!
133. Beta 4.1. Includes Import. Sort of.
134. The Business Unit Head forces Jack to send out letter to beta sites apologizing for the arcane import instructions he included because no one else wrote documentation.
135. The Business Unit Head hands out black SALSA ballpoint Parker pens to celebrate Beta 4.1. I think we're about at alpha now...almost feature complete.
136. just ship it stickers/if it ain't broke don't fix it. - Tech Pubs Gimmick
137. Tying specific areas up with a bow: "ready to ship." The VP of Dev.
138. Find Goodness. The VP of Dev. Our new watchword.
139. "NO MORE BETAS" Says the Chairman/CEO: "You have embarrassed us!" to the Business Unit Head !" WALL DATA DOES NOT SEND OUT F*****G BETAS THAT DO NOT WORK!!!!!! A**HOLES."
140. Dr. K__________ Curbside Service. . .new gimmick to help developers. The guru will go to their desk to help them figure things out.
141. The VP of Dev steps in & takes some control. Not quite a takeover, but he clears everything now. In a lot of ways, he does help save us from ourselves. He takes decision making away from our business unit head. Obviously the new Dev Dir. and the Business Unit Head are on their way out the door. Sooner or Later.
142. Bad Models per Dr. K__________: "If they make bad models, they have to suffer the consequences." Jack said “But I thought we were supposed to help them NOT make bad semantic object models.”
143. PQA Contractor October/November/December Test Pass. Jack has 23 testers on the app. now.
144. The VP of Dev. reiterates in a feature meeting: JUST SAY NO TO NEW FEATURES!!!
145. PQA Coverage & Closure Matrix
146. Feature Complete 2.0 (11/3/95) but masks, grids, queries, medium sized apps, larger data sets, scripted views, don't yet work at all, or close to correctly. So we're not really even at alpha, but are alleged to be at
147. PQA "Ten Most Wanted" white board ordered by the VP of Dev, and Business Unit Head. Every day we propose the worst ten bugs.
148. The Dev. Director proposes $5 bug fix bounty.
149. Bug Bounty 11/26-- each GPF and assert a developer fixes is worth $10.
150. Spin control: Dr. K______ spin control. "John - Ever hear of the sandwich technique? -- give them a complement (slice of bread) , then the criticism (the meat), then another complement (more bread). It's supposed to begin and end on a good note, while getting your message across. It might be worth a try!" So QA is now supposed to say something nice in every bug report. . .before they slip in the meat!!
151. Taking pictures of all employees and posting in kitchen, then abandoned that idea, leaving blue posterboard with about 1/3 of the pictures ripped off b/c people quit or were fired and it looked so damn depressing.
152. Scapegoating "they [pqa] don't work nearly as much as PD" "they've been putting in a lot of fluff and bullshit bugs" "they haven't covered undo/redo at all" Note: QA is 2,000 bugs “ahead.” 153. Elaine (New salesperson) sending Power Bars for all. She shows Jack and Sam her nipple rings after a meeting.
154. Problem Assignment Board swells from two to four, and sometimes six. Different from Product Finalization Board.
155. Sales Team hosting cocktails at Cajun Corner (much "just ship it warts and all" talk)
156. The VP of Dev. is matching the bug bounty now. It's up to $20.
157. New plan by the VP of Dev. and the Dev. Director. Fix the worst 500 bugs and, then ship. Wait didn’t we do this 26 times before, and we’re up to 13,000 fixed? (really). They did not understand goodness or how it emerges, but said “If the 500 worst are gone, most others will be too and that us goodness.” Jack says fixing the worst 500 bugs will take six months, and may not get us to goodness at all. In fact, fixing 500 bugs will most likely expose 500 more. Or more.
158. PQA don't cover the whole app. You test too much. --just make a final pass using starter kits. "Quit finding bugs"--says The President, "You have to cut it off sometime or you'll find bugs forever." The President: “You manage the problem by managing the testers. You’ll never ship if you just keep testing full throttle. Look for the goodness now.”
159. Announcements of first units sold by Sales Team. We can barely run these apps with SALSA right now.
160. Dev. Director and Jack now report to VP of Dev. In a lot of ways that is a relief. I can actually reason with him. But it is hard to reason with people watching $2 million a month go up in smoke with no visible progress.
161. Product stability at all costs. Again, VP of Dev. mantra, “QA: look for disasters and focus on goodness. Be positive. We only want to know about disasters. Find the goodness!!"
162. Hard code freeze begun week of 12/18. All check ins must be signed off by a code review and a PQA unit test.
163. Shipment of Press beta + to other sites + to jim simpson
164. Eileen: Pay PQA $20 for every GPF/data loss found (announced by Business Unit Head at Co. meeting) . PQA immediately enter over 100 data loss bugs.
165. VP of Dev. quashes above payment program as foolish and insane after coughing up the two grand.
166. VP of Dev. incents pqa to reduce verifications (there are 500 bugs we can’t check because so much else is broken) and complete test coverage matrix ($500 each for tester non-managers) .
167. Fix the bugs at hand, then make a call. Report verif. failures and regressions only. (12/22) .
168. Fix Top 50 failures per day
169. Roll out FOURTEEN DAYS: a plan for testing and fixing leading to shipment 12/16. I think not. Maybe march.
170. Assign all new failures to Dev. Director. Only Fix failures from "Dev. Director's Bucket." We are now resorting bugs a new new way. Because?
171. Bizarre email from Business Unit Head. "Time to Shine" - Include up to 10 names and addresses of friends and family for inclusion in our direct marketing campaign. These people will receive the SALSA Story CD-ROM plus follow-up postcards, mailers,etc . YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS WILL FINALLY KNOW WHAT YOU DO! I am too ashamed to put any names in.
172. FOURTEEN DAYS plan for testing and fixing is abandoned 12/22. Fourteen days will not do it. Maybe fourteen weeks.
173. Begin testing again, but focus on bugs generated through using starter kits.
174. Unit testing and verifications in lieu of product testing. Only verify don’t test!!! Yeah, right. We keep testing and I keep getting heat.
175. Only failures Marked as STARTER KIT will be eligible for entry into the failure.database. Enormous testing impact. Now it takes hours to find bugs formerly found in minutes because we have to use the starter kits, which take up to an hour to generate in our molasses slow system. This helps slow down the bugs all right.
176. New failure prioritization scheme matrix: Priority/severity only fix up to P2 high. P2 medium close.
177. All non-verification testing must be related to starter kits.
178. Filming SALSA internal rollout video.
179. PD/PQA get Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve night "off." Xmas Eve was a Sunday.
180. Announcement of "Death March" to shipment to begin Dec. 31, 1995. 24 hour round-the-clock shifts, everyone "gets" to sleep 8 hours per day (VP of Dev.).
181. Announcement of the "Death March" to the rank and file will be postponed to at least 1/4/1996.
182. Death March again postponed, but no announcement made 1/4/1996.
183. "Dev. Director's Bucket" Abandoned, one week later 1/5/96. It was patently absurd.
184. NEW incentive program begun 1/5/96. One weekend.
185. Breakfast to “get together and enjoy ourselves.” DEev. Director and Jack hammered on in turn by Sales Head and Dir. of Marketing. Nasty personal attacks. Bad vibes all around.
186. New plan for finding failures 1/8/95: We start to test again, because Dr. K_________ finally listened and found the app wheezing. Now we can test for::: 1) gpfs, asserts, 2) data loss, 3) discretionary tests ---the testers know this app inside and out.
187. Dr. K_________ proposes a product enhancement, which he claims to the PFB (product finalization board) will increase the sales of SALSA by 30%. He dances around the issue that he has previously said the product must be nailed to the wall with no more changes.
188. Eileen reiterates once again "we don't believe in face time."
189. Weekend ending Jan. 14 -- another fix-it incentive program. Handing out more dough to developers. Where is The Goodness?
190. SALSA announced to the public Jan. 15.
191. Wall Data "internal rollout" of SALSA 1/16/-17. SALSA T-shirts and CDs.
192. PQA redouble its efforts to help PD finish (better reporting, less dupes, simpler cases, more and more cooperation) so they get off and PQA becomes the critical path.
193. Final complete coverage pass through the product using Jim Mothershead's beloved ECCO coverage matrix.
194. Ship Date announced internally to SALSA: February 8, 1996.
195. Problem assignment Team is no longer Danny and Ed, but Don and John.
196. The Saleswoman with the Nipple Rings brought in our FIRST SALSA ORDER from General Motors today (December 9, 1995). The Chairman/CEO sent an email: "Congratulations........We're on the way.........LET"S GO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
197. The Freeze Committee is born (Jim M, Chris O, Alan R, Dev. Director) .
198. First Release Candidate is scheduled for February 2, 1996.
199. PD sponsored cookies now once a week again.
200. Everyone is measured for their SALSA letterman's jacket. A $200 leather sleeved thing.
201. PD/PQA /Tech Pubs get the weekend of Jan. 20, 21, 1996 "off."
202. Return of the gong.
203. Announcement of a "free" week "off."
204. Announcement of $1,000 net "vacation money" to be distributed ship night.
205. AM Freeze Committee meetings. We ,meet at 2AM every day. 4 am builds announced by Marvin
206. First attempt to produce Release Candidate: one solid week of chaos. Not one RC emerges.
207. Ship party scheduled for the week during which we ship, when we will all be on vacation.
208. February 7 THIS list was unveiled to Marvin Mall at a midnight chat..
209. Existence of another Top Secret PQA gimmick, the CYA log disclosed to VP of Dev. QA answers with charts and statistics every charge made against them in this finger pointing debacle.
210. Dr. K_________ re-arranges his office in order to pay undetected games of Doom while waiting for the next Release Candidate.
211. February 9, 1996. SALSA Ships. Almost two years in crunch mode for a lot of people. Given away: Champagne. New Dev. dir. hosts a party at a nearby sports bar. $1,000 cash each. One week + off. A leather trimmed SALSA letterman's jacket. Relief. We are spooked (QA).,
212. New Dev Dir. announces at champagne toast that he is in control now. VP of Dev. is done and he is in command.
213. We go home and off to Mexico, Arizona, Tukwilla, et cetera.
214. Big Ship Party 2/23/96 at 2118 1st Ave. Inebriation, fornication. A girl takes her top off. People are blind drunk. Jack and Ed kill a couple of bottles of $120 burgundy. People swill $80 bottle scotch etc.
215. Announcement that the bonus pool has been killed. No further rewards except being here. Alas, QA had 8% of two million bucks. Of course you’d have to be on heroin to think we’ll sell more than 100 copies…
216. Return to work. We all feel like skinned animals.
217. Free copy of SALSA to all employees. Playing of the SALSA rollout video, free t-shirt, and complimentary laminated SALSA Fact Sheet.
218. Post Feb. 9, 1996: Announcment by of SALSA 1.01. Announcment of SALSA 1.02. Announcment of SALSA 1.02a. Announcment of SALSA Zappa (2.0) ==about two months after 1.0. Announcment of SALSA 2.2. Announcment if Joplin. Salsa 2. something. Announcment of Morrison. Salsa 2. something. Announcment of Lennon and Lennon II. Salsa 2. something.
219. Jack leaves Wall Data. Salsa.
227. Salsa would work fairly well within a year or so. But it stiffed in the marketplace.

The Rules of Engagement

I don't know where this file comes from. . .

1. If the enemy is in range, so are you.
2. Incoming fire has the right of way.
3. Don't look conspicuous; it draws fire.
4. The easy way is always mined.
5. Try to look unimportant; they may be low on ammo.
6. The enemy invariably attacks on one of two occasions.
7. Teamwork is essential; it gives the enemy someone else to shoot at.
8. If your attack is going well, you have walked into an ambush.
9. The only thing more accurate than incoming enemy fire is incoming friendly fire.
10. If it's stupid but works, it isn't stupid.
11. When in doubt, empty the magazine.
12. Never share a foxhole with anyone braver than you.
13. Make it too tough for the enemy to get in and you can't get out.
14. Mines are equal opportunity weapons.
15. A Purple Heart just proves that you were smart enough to think of a plan, stupid enough to try it, and lucky enough to survive.
16. Don't ever be the first; don't ever be the last; and don't ever volunteer to do anything.
17. The quartermaster has only two sizes: too large and too small.
18. Five second fuses only last three seconds.19. It is generally inadvisable to eject directly over the area you just bombed.

Gimmick List, Pt. 2 - SALSA Revisited

SALSA! Six months after I left SALSA and Wall Data (1996), I went back to their web site and wrote this email to Jim Mothershead and Mark Ferkingstad. After a long absence, I went (where?) hint:::::::::::a monkey, a murder, a chili:::::::::to the SALSA web site!!!!!!!!

Some subtle but interesting changes have taken place there. No, they didn't spray a three inch banner across the top that said WE ARE UNDER CONSTRUCTION AS WE TRY TO GET A CLUE AFTER BLOWING--what??--FIFTY MILLION DOLLARS

1) They jacked the price up to $350. Other people have done this successfully. But they had something really great. What can you say about the sheer brilliance of that? This has two great benefits: A) nice way to RATCHET up those gross margins! and B) They have proved for once and all that they are not in competition with Access. Increasing the price of marijuana 3000% didn't hurt sales!

2) They don't do much bragging anymore on the web site. I couldn't put my finger on it, but the volume has been turned way down and the arrogance has all but disappeared.

3) You now almost get the idea from the web site that they are trying to sell you something. Nice work marketing! But they still have the comic, and the whole a murder a chili a monkey thing going.

4) There used to be a page that went into great detail about the developer's accomplishments, many of which occurred at least A DECADE EARLIER, in Unix or COBOL before that fancy-pants operating system Windows took over. This page in particular always had me fighting to keep my lunch down. We had a bunch of hapless developers that couldn't even have qualified to run the Tilt-A-Whirl in a traveling carnival. They were directed by a snarling pack of management weasels that would f*** up a two-car funeral. See next item.

5) There are no longer any names or biographies associated with the product. For a while there (you know, like about that two week period where it looked like we'd all get rich), every person in Wall Data tried to associate themselves with SALSA, or horn in on the action. It used to be that every exec., manager and director were fighting to get their Bios and Headshots on that page. They've been disappeared! Like people sent to the gulag in the USSR.

Perhaps the most intelligence we have seen thus far is all the people in suits tripping over each other as they run for cover. Then there's the CEO, his pants bunched down around his ankles trying to escape the frenzied shareholders, running for the expressway clutching golden parachute and leaving the rest of Wall Data holding the bag. This company has more Vice Presidents than AT & T (well, 18 VPs in a company of not 600 folk), and we no longer see one of their names.

6) Dr. K's name, of course, is still splashed everywhere, but he is like the doomed Fugu chef who snarfs up the rest of the blowfish when a patron keels over. . .or the captain of the Titanic who might as well go down with the boat, since he'll never be let out on the open sea again in anything larger than a dinghy. He had the social skills of that kid on the porch in Deliverance, and the warmth of Joseph Goebbels. He is now treated a little less seriously than the folks who claim to have been abducted by The Greys.

PART II: The NEW SALSA Well, I keep hearing about The New NEW SALSA(tm). . .rumors, floated trial balloons, etc., Yeah, they keep going on hammer and tong about some sort of Internet breakthrough, and some 32 bit gibberish. As far as I'm concerned 32 bits is just 16 additional bits for for them to screw up. The Technologist of the Year, Fishhead, The Reverend, and the rest of those hapless goobs and misfits sit around in high-tech circle-jerks, dreaming about such absurdities as Linux web servers on their desktops, Perl-scripted test automation, and even SALSA derived Operating Systems. And the biggest dream:::::the world is apparently once again demanding--more vehemently than ever--The SALSA(tm) Solution.

GET A CLUE! They didn't want it when it came in a box. They didn't want to waste their precious minutes on this earth downloading the demo. They didn't want to read the book about it, see the video about its resident genuis, or visit its lovely but murky and arcane web site. They didn't buy the slogans and they didn't buy the software. They're not going to want it served piping hot over the internet either.

The high-concept packaging and web site didn't help sell it, the special introductory offer didn't sell it, free apps didn't sell it; Sam couldn't sell it, even when he primed the marks with free dinners, all the scotch they could slam, and threw in a free trip to Lady Madeline's Sporting House--he still got stiffed! Even with the help of a full time system engineer--whose head was so far up his ass that he had "ring around the collar." So, what's the deal? They figure if they lay low for a while and come out with a new version that people will forget the bug-riddled dogshit they cynically tried to foist off just a year or so before? Well, perhaps.

With the right kind of marketing, a little luck (and some watches and vibrating pillows), anything can happen. Remember The New Nixon? He was elected. But the New Coke and the Arche DeLuxe did not fare so well. A whole new generation of software buyers is out there. Eventually, maybe the bad taste will leave people's mouths, and they will give SALSA another shot.

It's a relief dealing with Access and SQL. I have out it all behind me. I am no longer angry. I learned more there about WHAT NOT TO DO than I could have ever learned in ten years. My experience with other databases post-SALSA is like Sven's Dog, a joke they tell around Snoose Junction in Seattle (that is, Ballard):

Torval and Sven were sitting in a tavern.
Tor asks:
"Sven? Why is your dog licking his ass? Does He have worms or something?"
Sven turns to him and says:
"No. . .he's fine. He just ate some lutefisk and he's trying to get the taste out of his mouth."