Friday, February 29, 2008

I scan at 32 items per minute

At the checkout, Innes is stuck in a line behind a chatty 20 year old male, Oliver.

Oliver: I’m staff. They sent me down here.

Innes: You can’t checkout through Rows 4 to 20?

Oliver: One item, methylated spirits. They sent me here.

Innes: What do you do here? You a management trainee?

Oliver: I’m checkout.

Innes: Checkout.

Oliver: I’m good at my job.

Innes: Good. How good? How is it measured?

Oliver: I can scan at 32 items per minute.

Innes: 32.

Oliver: Some scan as slow as 20 items a minute. And they still hold their jobs.

Innes: So if you work one and half times more efficiently than others your job is safe?

Oliver: And the manager is my uncle.


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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Writer's block

Hak, a writer, complains to Salvadore, a painter, of a glitch in production.


Hak: I have to put something my blog tonight.

Salvadore: Why you must do this?

Hak: Well, I just must. I have to follow a routine. I need to discipline. It’s my daily practice.

Salvadore: Sometimes writers can have a block for many days. Certainly we painters can.

Don’t you think you could try harder?

Hak: Like the teacher wrote? Could try harder? And the family start saying things like “What is this rubbish you are writing?”

Salvadore: Family are the harshest critics. And often the least qualified to comment. What was that advice to artists? Never talk to family about what you do and expect them to cheer to you on.

Hak: Why would that be?

Salvadore: I guess it’s because you can choose friends but you don’t get to choose family. That, and the little matter of jealousy and sibling rivalry.



Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Ford Anglia is annoyed again about slow New Zealand Internet speeds.


Ford: I’ll never be able to get off this planet with this pitiful data rate.

Zaphod: What are you trying to upload?

Ford: Well, er, I hadn’t actually decided what to write tonight.

Zaphod: So what’s the hurry?

Ford: Indeed. Perhaps I’ll just put a To Be Announced sign up and dream it up while I sleep.

Zaphod: Still, remember you’ve only got four hours until the Earth is destroyed.

Ford: I’ll set the alarm clock to be up early.



Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Looking at paintings

Paulo has drawn a picture of Madam Bovary but she is not impressed.


Madam Bovary: This is terrible. It’s not me.

Paulo: It’s how I see you.

Madam Bovary: What a load of rubbish.

Paulo: It may take a little getting used to.

Madam Bovary: I will not. I know what I like. And this is not what I like.


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Monday, February 25, 2008

Top down

It’s great weather.
Gray: Shall we put the top down?

Wayne: Why not! It's a perfect day.

Gray: Reminds me of a short story I once read. Forgotten the plot but recall the title was, "Jones' Beach" and it was early summer and a student was enjoying the morning air driving his car, top down, to the beach and he felt young alive.

Wayne: That's what we want to feel. Young and alive. Put the top down.

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Corrugated iron gumboot

Entering Taihape, Enid is struck by a gumboot.

Enid: Is that a...?
Nobby: A gumboot, yes. What else could it be?
Enid: It's made of ...?
Nobby: Corrugated iron.
Enid: It's a symbol!
Nobby: Dead right. It's Taihape's identity. Everything is made of corrugated iron and everyone gets around in gumboots.
Enid: Don't they, well, care?
Nobby: About how they look? The impression they make? They're proud of it. Rome has its Collosseum, Sydney has its opera house, and Taihape, well, Taihape has its corrugated iron gumboot.

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Saturday, February 23, 2008


Lear is about to set sail but Cordelia counsels caution.


Lear: Storm still.
Cordelia: Cancel, or at least hold fast the mooring until the tempest abates.
Lear: Here in port, waves crash, vessels pitch and collide. But out there, the motion is more even. All boats ride the swells in unison.
Cordelia: There's no stopping a sailor with the bit between his teeth.
Lear: A mainstay, not a bit.


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Friday, February 22, 2008

Gifts for the elderly

Rebecca discusses with the pharmacist about gifts for the elderly .

Rebecca: What’s good for an old chap on a visit?

Pharmacist: Aftershave?

Rebecca: Perhaps. How about foot balm? Everyone has cracked heels when they get old. I mean, don’t they?

Pharmacist: Not everyone.

Rebecca: Well I do and I’m 61. He’s 87 so genetically he must.

Pharmacist: Right. He may very well have dry feet. So foot balm could be good.

Rebecca: All right. Now for my mother. If he gets something and she doesn’t, she’ll be miffed.

Pharmacist: If it’s feet for him, how about hand cream for her. Some nice olive extract?

Rebecca: Choices. Shopping is hard.

Pharmacist: I don’t go shopping on my off-days.

Rebecca: Most people do. It’s the new religion. Malls are the new churches. Oh, you go to church?

Pharmacist: No, it’s OK. I don’t go to church on Sundays. But neither do I go shopping. I cook for my generally ungrateful family.



Rebecca is a baby-boomer. Old enough to have parents nudging 90. Gifts are a problem. Books? Have read the stories or the print is small. Electrical goods? Can never work out how to use them so they end up in a drawer. Clothes? All dressed up and nowhere to go.

That leaves: food, perhaps a plant, or maybe health care products. Discreetly chosen.

Rebecca is aware that her cynicism regarding shopping and consumerism being the new religion might offend the pharmacist treads carefully with her check, "Oh, you go to church?" being a thin cover for the direct question, "Are you religious?" or "Are you Christian?" Statistically, downunder, or the U.K., she is on safish ground, but in the U.S. she could be taking a greater risk.


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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Indicator bars for rating conversation

AlainP, a wine analyst, is telling DenisD, a conversation analyst, about a rating system for wine involving indicator bars.



AlainP: It’s a five point scale. Runs from light bodied through medium bodied to full bodied. It’s on the label at the back of the bottle.

Light bodied

Medium bodied

Full bodied

DenisD: I could use that idea. Couple the Likert scale to a rating system for conversation as art.

AlainP: And what would body equal?

DenisD: Body could be like information. Running from something already known through clarified facts to new and startling new insight.

Already known

Clarified facts

Startling new insight

But wine has other rating categories besides body?

AlainP: Of course. There is a scale for palatability, taste, ranging from sweet to dry.

DenisD: And I think for conversation I need other categories too. Perhaps attitude, running from attack to empathy, shall we say?

AlainP: And style, do not forget style.

DenisD: Yes, yes. We could go from wooden or formulaic through amusing to highly original and/or witty.


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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Great shot

Case calls from the computer room: “Come here.”


House: What is it? I’m watching ER.

Case: You’ll like it.

House: Who says I’ll like it? (nevertheless getting up from TV)

Case: Isn’t he cute? What do you think?

House: Hmph. My prognosis? If he doesn’t become vegetarian, he could get a parasite from all the fish fingers he’s being fed.

Case: Great snap don’t you think?

House: Admittedly a great shot. But at the risk of sounding curmedgeonly, I’d suggest if he’d been shot on 4 megapixels instead of 26 KB, he'd have stood up sharply at attention and his whiskers would been included, and this would have been a truly great shot. Timing is all, yes, or as Cartier-Bresson would have it, the decisive moment. Devil is in the details. Still, a great shot.


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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Winners don't always stay in control

George, who has a gold card and runs his mileage account tightly, recounts details of his flight last night to Vladimir who meets him at Sheremetyevo.


Vladimir: Good flight?

George: The usual jostle for seats.

Vladimir: Did you win?

George: Well I go on board, I’m looking for 33J – aisle – and there’s a big fat lady sitting there already. Anyway, she’s got it wrong and they move her to two seats on her own. For once I almost thought I wish I were so fat they’d give me two seats.

Vladimir: So then you have two seats to yourself?

George: No such luck. The flight was overbooked. The man in 33K is a German, huge, tattoos all over. This is one flight I did not get lucky.

Vladimir: I thought winners like you always stayed in control.

George: Not when it comes to seat allocation on flights. That’s out of your hands altogether.



Monday, February 18, 2008

Storytelling by mobile phone?

As he was going up the Damascus elevator, Benoit has a revelation.

Benoit (talking to himself, looking up at the advertisement): Nokia N82: Storytelling rediscovered. Well, well.
Man wearing Dubai hat: Excuse me.
Benoit: Sorry.
Man wearing Dubai hat: Shukran.
Benoit (continuing to voiceover himself): Story telling was an oral tradition once. People told stories. Then we had drama, then we had movies, now we have telephones telling a story. Who do they tell the story to? Other telephones? Will humans soon be out of the loop?

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Peddlars' songs

Joel records the songs and chants street peddlars perform.

Christine: Why do you do this? They are hardly high art.
Joel: Oh, but some of them come close. They've evolved over hundreds of years many of them. There's the steamed sweet potato chant I particuarly like. [sings] Imo. Mushi yaki imo.
Christine. Nice. Almost like a lament.
Joel: Everyone knows it. OK, that's a Japanese one but the Chinese have a lot too.
Christine: You only record their sounds? You don't videotape them?
Joel: Next step. Find the performers, get permission, set up a location, performance.
Christine: And pay them?

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

VW Valentine

Frederich receives a VW microbus on Valentine’s Day


Frederich: Fantastic. A microbus. Older than the one we drove from England to Saudi in 86. A classic.

Ziortsa: Thought you’d like it.

Frederich: A very hippie vehicle. Not fast.

Ziortsa: Not fast?

Frederich: So slow in fact a headwind would stop it.

Ziortsa: Stop it?

Frederich: Well alm ost. Aerodynamics of a paper cup. But hey, who cares when you’re in no hurry!

Ziortsa: Look, if you pull this one back to wind it up, it’ll shoot across the table fast. Well, quite fast.


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Friday, February 15, 2008

Chris Pirillo chat

Chris Pirillo tries out some new speakers on his webcammed show.


Chris: I'm back, speakers are working now

nick: who let the dogs out!!

fred: chair looks good, hey chris, wot UR chair?

boohoo: battlestar galactica opening scene

Chris: It’s a Grahl Synchron 8.

Vee12: U type fast

Nick: play who let the dogs out!!!!!

Chris: Tempur foam available at an upcharge. I type fast.

burmese29: does anyone know to change a nickname?

Nick: good sub test: play who let the dogs out!!!!!

GoblinAce: You may change your nick by typing /nick followed by the nickname you want, and hitting enter. Example: /nick newnickgoeshere



Will exchanges like these change the way rules of F2F spoken conversation? I have to say Chris Pirillo is a master multitasker.


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Thursday, February 14, 2008


The author meets the editor to pick up advance copies.


Editor: Here. They do look good. Black cover and all.

Author: Yes.

Editor: You gave us an idea. We could put the conversations up on the Internet as podcasts.

Author: That’s way it’s going. The book is just becoming a gateway. An entry ticket.

"The future has already arrived. It’s just not evenly distributed."

Editor: Who said that?

Author: William Gibson. It's in the book.


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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Publication day

The author takes a call from the editor.


Editor: It’s here. It’s arrived. The book’s back from the printers.

Author: Great. Thank you.

Editor: Thank you.

Author: So I can pick up some copies?

Editor: Of course. Today?

Author: Tomorrow. I had to put off early departure plans. Tomorrow morning is OK?

Editor: Tomorrow morning. About 11?

Author: 11’s fine.

Editor: It looks good, you know.

Author: This is exciting. See you tomorrow, 11.



This is an upbeat telephone conversation. All the news, on both sides, is positive and helpful. The editor leads off in a three part “good news” presentation: “…here…” “arrived…” and “back from…”

The exchange of “thank you” mutually acknowledges the role each party had in the project.

The only negotiation involves a slight rescheduling, from “today” to “tomorrow”.

The editor is plainly pleased with the result, “looks good”, to which the author responds with “excitement”.

What will tomorrow bring when the author actually sees the book?


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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Memorizing phone numbers

Hiro is chatting with an attractive girl on the platform. She asks for his telephone number but he can’t recall it.


Mimi: What’s your phone number?

Hiro: My phone number? Aw heck, I can never remember my phone number.

Mimi: Never mind.

Hiro: Hey, wait.

Mimi: Too late. The train’s going.


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Monday, February 11, 2008

Time flies

Cecil and Seamus share knowledge of a certain era, now vanished. They sit and chat most days on the steps. Cecil does woodwork.


Cecil: I hung it today.

Seamus: You hung it. What did you hang?

Cecil: I told yesterday. The Buddhist shelf.

Seamus: You’ll have to confess.

Cecil: I already spoke to Brother Peter. I have a thing or two on him, as you and I know, and so he said go ahead and hang it.

Seamus: And what are you putting on this Buddhist shelf, can I ask?

Cecil: Time. A sand timer. To remind me. Time doesn’t stand still, it’s running out.

Seamus: Might I remind you, Cecil, time flies faster as you get older.

Cecil: And do I look like I need reminding of that now, Seamus? We kill time on these steps but time will have his revenge.


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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Where are you going?

Driving, with her friend Casey, Rachel suddenly sees a very old bent lady walking along the footpath. She stops and pushes the old lady into the car.


Rachel: Where are you going?

Old lady: [points towards the shops]

Rachel: I’ll drop you at the supermarket. OK?

Old lady: Thank you, thank you.


Casey: That was a beautiful thing to do.

Rachel: It’s not difficult. She was walking up the road, we were driving up the road, so you stop and put her in the car and take her where she’s going.

Casey: Not everyone would stop.

Rachel: Keep your eyes open. There’s a lot going on we are usually too busy to think about.



Saturday, February 9, 2008

Hand-marked exams

Janet is not a fan of hand-marked exams.


Janet: Three thousand scripts. 100% hand-marking.

Gladys: But you only had one question to mark. What was it? Paraphrase “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence?”

Janet: Yes, but the possible paraphrases are endless. Even though the answer was cued, by “People tend to…” I still had to wade through reasonable efforts like “People tend to want something that others have,” to “People tend to regard something that they have as being better than what they have.”

Gladys: There must dozens of correct possible answers.

Janet: And they have to be teased out from the half correct ones. Like “People tend to think that some have an object of worth more than mine” or “People tend to envy others parmanents.” Think they meant “possessions.”

Gladys: Any off the wall?

Janet: Sure. “People tend to grow when they lose.” “People tend to break the glass when gather for ballgame.” But the best was, simply, “People tend to like green.”


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Friday, February 8, 2008

Global warming story

An acquaintance of Boris and Leonid has been killed in a bear attack. In January.


Boris: He was just taking a two-day holiday.

Leonid: We know that. And he was killed by bear. What we don’t know is how he came to be walking where he was and what a bear was doing out of hibernation in January.

Boris: We’re piecing it together. He goes skiing the first day. Then he goes back in the evening and says, “I’m getting too old for all this downhill speed. And these skifields are not very ecologically friendly. They cut down the trees and run those lifts. Isn’t there a gentler winter sport?” And the lodge-owner says, “I’m sixty, like you. Let me suggest an eco-friendly activity. Snowshoeing.”

Leonid: And that’s what he was doing when the bear jumped him?

Boris: Right. So he sets off snowshoeing through the forest on the second day. The winter is warmer than usual and a bear comes out of hibernation in January. Never been seen before. The bear is hungry and jumps him.

Leonid: Bears run fast, even through snow. And he can’t run away on snowshoes.

Boris: Double punch. He's trying to do his bit to reduce levels of CO2 and gets caught by one of the results of global warming.


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Thursday, February 7, 2008

Company names

Aminata and Mariam continue their discussion about what to call Aminata’s company.


Mariam: So what’s it going to be?

Aminata: Well, since I’m going to sell telephones so I thought of The Telephone Company.

Mariam: Bit ordinary, trifle generic. How about 1-2 CALL?

Aminata: Another company already got that. Naming is not easy. You know a lot are just named after their founder, like Ford.

Mariam: Lots are acronyms like IBM.

Aminata: And many are just plain misleading. Boots don’t make shoes, Apple doesn’t sell fruit, Caterpillar doesn’t run butterfly shops.


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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Iceman goes on holiday

Iceman 1 says he’s going.


Iceman 2: Where?

Iceman 1: Somewhere colder. This is altogether too warm.

Iceman 2: And you’ll be back?

Iceman 1: When it all freezes over again. Tomorrow night probably.



Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Don't shoot

The snowman screams, silently.


Snowman: I'm not giving you permission.

Sato: Why?

Snowman: You know if you take my picture you take away part of me.

Sato: Your soul?

Snowman: You shoot that flash and see what the heat does.

Sato: It's all in your mind.

Snowman: Come back tomorrow. I won't be here.

Sato: That's why I take your picture. Something to remember you by.

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Monday, February 4, 2008

An Apple a day keeps work away

Ziortza is recounting to Bernice her problems with yet another American Designed Device (as in Attention Deficit Disorder).


Bernice: Problems?

Ziortza: Multiples. It’d got to the stage where I was using this brand new computer to sit on my desk and just display the time.

Bernice: A computer with a 2.4 Ghz processor, 3 gigabytes of memory and a 320 gigabyte hard drive and a 20 inch screen being used as a CLOCK?

Ziortza That’s all it could do. Installed the latest system called Leopard, ha that was a joke. It couldn’t even scare any applications into starting after installing it three times.

Bernice: Except the clock.

Ziortza: It could do the clock.

Bernice: So what did you do?

Ziortza: I called up the helpdesk. Spent four hours on there. Actually THAT bit was quite pleasant, chatting with these slightly robotic businesslike vocal avatars. Techie, intelligent, polite.

Bernice: What more could you wish for?

Ziortza: Er, a working computer? An Apple man is coming to pick it up on Thursday. That’s why they advise you to sign up for AppleCare. It’s not “if it can go wrong, it will go wrong”. More like “when it goes wrong on the first day out of warranty…”


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Sunday, February 3, 2008

Snow fights

Aranxia and Rhett are indoors all of a Sunday and Rhett is getting a little itchy.


Aranxia: Well, what you expect Rhett, we only just got started on February, April's a long way off.

Rhett: Wish it were spring already.

Aranxia: Don’t you be in no hurry, now. Plenty of time for running later. Slow down and enjoy the snowfights.

Rhett: Snowfights? Where?

Aranxia: Look. Out there. Don’t that boy just seem so tough! Only a T-shirt. He’ll catch his death o’ cold.


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Saturday, February 2, 2008

Naming a cat

Annabelle advises Gretchen on naming her new resident.


Gretchen: No idea what to call him.

Annabelle: The naming of cats is… how did it go?

Gretchen: A difficult matter.

Annabelle: He looks like Hodge.

Gretchen: Who?

Annabelle: Samuel Johnson’s cat. Hodge.

Gretchen: Hodge. Hmm. He looks like a Hodge.


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Friday, February 1, 2008

Apple and OS bugs

Monty is annoyed…...

Monty: I started using it to edit the videos I'd shot. I upgraded to Final Cut Express. And to Leopard version 10.4.1 same time. Then this loud buzzing noise started and nothing worked.

Taffy: Eeerh.

Monty: They said download the upgrade to Leopard 10.5.1. I did but the buzzing and nothing working coninued.

Taffy: Bit poor for a system that prides itself on its usability.

Monty: It's still within the 90 day warranty. Probably a software issue that I'm too dumb to figure out but I'll return it as a hardware issue and maybe they'll take a look at it.

Taffy: It'll be 90 days until you get it back.

Monty: That doesn't worry me. The Windows machines I built myself are all still working. Ha. So much for design!

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