Food, Beer & Buffoonery - Hops
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Cake Decorator Can’t Spell

So, last week I ordered a cake from a (normally) great local bakery for a work party. One of our co-workers was moving to Seattle and we were holding a little going away party on Friday. I called and placed the order with verbal instructions to write, “Mary, all the best in Seattle!!!” on the cake.

Well, they got close. For a $55 cake though, I expect spell checking.

Cake misspelling

All the best in Seatle?

Strange Recorded Call. Calls me. Hangs up.

Ok, so I’m used to the occasional obnoxious marketing call…in the past year, usually having something to due with a nameless company trying to sell you a warranty for your car or consolidate your debt. However, for the past 3 weeks or so, I’ve gotten 5 or 6 identical calls of a very odd nature.

Phone rings. I pick up. Short pause. Then a recorded male voice says, “Due to a technical problem we’re not able to speak with you personally. Thank You. Goodbye.”  And then it hangs up on me.

Is some companies phone system software going haywire? Is there something malicious hidden in the call? I can’t figure it out, and so far no one I’ve spoken to has gotten these calls. So here’s my question to you … if anyone has had this recording call them and hang up please post a comment. Any idea what these are?

I’m Very Concerned About the EOOUA

“What is the EOOUA?”, you ask.

My response: “You mean you can’t FOWTSF1?”

OK ok ok. So what is EOOUA? That’s an excellent question. Really.

I also hate the Excessive Overuse of Unnecessary Acronyms (EOOUA).

For example, at work the other day I received a two sentence email, where one sentence read:

“AGZ is embarking on another TLM “pilot” with WTG.”

I’ve slightly changed the acronyms so that I don’t disclose any corporate secrets, but that probably wasn’t even necessary, as the sentence was completely meaningless to me (and probably many other recipients). And the first sentence in the email did nothing to clue the reader in as to what it was that its author was talking about or why I was being copied on it. So, what did I do? I ignored it! Maybe not the best decision, but when you get several of these a week, you simply don’t have the time to chase down the meaning of every new acronym that finds its way to your inbox (and 30+ people were copied on this email; by instinct I knew it wasn’t directly related to me or my work – which played a large role in why I ignored it).

Like in my web design work, this is really a “usability” issue. If something doesn’t communicate effectively, people pass it over, get frustrated, move on.

I can’t figure out why people insist on creating a constant stream of new acronyms. Maybe it’s something to do with making the insiders feel elitist, and “in the know”. I think I run into two new ones a week at work. And sure, they save time for the author of the communication being sent, they use less computer memory and disk space (though that’s negligible), and if printed out they’ll use less ink than writing the entire phrase. But at what cost?

The excessive overuse of unnecessary acronyms impedes communication. For those (often few) who are “in the know”, they may serve a time saving purpose, but this completely ignores that fact that in most any organization or occupation, there is a constant influx of newcomers. All these acronyms slow down communication for these newcomers. And in situations like mine, where I’m not even a newcomer but am still bombarded with a constant stream of new acronyms anyway, they continually serve to impede communication and waste a lot of time.

I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve replied to, simply to ask the sender, “can you explain to me what you’re talking about?”  This is time wasted, not time saved. Next, there are times when I just don’t have the time to hunt down explanations for acronyms (as in the above case), so I just pass over them. And I’m sure other people do the same.  What results is the missing of potentially important information. This is certainly not in the interest of the person who is trying to communicate.

At my company, I would be very interested to know the time wasted, and thus money spent, simply on people trying to clear up vague messages or even miscommunications simply due to the overuse of acronyms. I bet it’d be substantial.

My recommendations. If you want to use acronyms, try to stick to ones that are nearly universally understood, like USA, or LOL, or these days even WMDs. If you feel you must use a new acronym (and please do this sparingly) make sure that in every single communication using this acronym you write out the complete phrase on its First Use (or FU, no pun intended). You can then use the acronym a couple times without writing the complete phrase. But if you’ve gone more than a couple paragraphs, you’d better write out the complete phrase again, lest you will lose your reader, who does not want to be scrolling up and down or flipping pages back and forth in a constant struggle to remember what you’re talking about.

Oh, and as an aside. (While I’m ranting.) Another annoying overuse — the word “leverage”. Its like you won’t be taken seriously in the corporate world unless this word is used as often as possible, usually at least once per communication. People have completely abandoned the word “use”. No one uses anything in the corporate world, they “leverage” things.

Or maybe I’m all wrong and just need to start leveraging the EOOUA too. Perhaps there’s even a raise in there somewhere.

1 FOWTSF – Figure Out What This Stands For

Some Buffoonery is a Good Thing: Morristown UFOs

Earlier this year, there were several UFO sightings in Morristown, NJ. Several red lights were seen in the sky. Then again, some days later, another set of red lights were seen. These sightings were reported by media outlets nationwide: Fox News, the History Channel (highlighted on their UFO Hunters show), Local News outlets and more.

From the get go hoax theories abounded. One astute police officer in the area even picked up some binoculars and reported that what he saw were flares tied some balloons. Was this account given much attention? Of course not. Eyewitnesses, UFO experts and Photo Analysis alike discounted the possibility of flares…

Fast forward to today. April 1st, 2009. A great day to announce a hoax!

Today, Chris Russo & Joe Rud, two New Jersey locals and avid readers of Skeptic magazine published a written and video account, via the eSkeptic Newsletter, of what shall now be known as the Morristown UFO Hoax. In the eSkeptic article they state,

“We brainstormed the idea of producing a spaceship hoax to fool people, bring the charlatans out of the woodwork to drum up controversy, and then expose it as nothing more than a prank to show everyone how unreliable eyewitness accounts are, along with investigators of UFOs.”

I’d say they suceeded.

Read their full account in eSkeptic.

And watch Chris and Joe’s videos documenting their entire hoax:
Part 1 – The Setup
Part 2 – The Launches
Part 3 – The Reactions

Of course, being April fools, there’s always the possibility that these hoaxters are hoaxing about their hoax…..  😉

Fred Phelps’ Incredible Buffoonery

We already know Westboro Baptist Church pastor Fred Phelps is a buffoon, but can things get any more absurd? He now wants to put an anti-Santa Claus sign up at our nation’s capitol…  Actually if you check the blog link below, the sign is kinda funny.  😉

“Santa Claus will take you to hell”

That has got a ring to it, doesn’t it? And his suit is red.

In the Blogs.

In the News.

Voting Buffoonery

So, I just got back from doing my civic duty … I voted. After signing in (I still don’t understand why you don’t need to show an ID), I went over to the table to grab my ballot.

“Do you want to vote on paper or electronically?”, I was asked. Not liking to waste paper, I opted to vote electronically. Though there was one, if only slight, problem. They only had one electronic voting machine.  So I could wait in line to use that or vote now on paper. I was in a little bit of a hurry, so I opted to go paper. (I know, what a hypocrite).

Diebold AccuVote

Now what’s the point of paper voting?  A better paper trail?  Easing fears of mistakes when voting electronically? Ok, I suppose.  So, I vote on my paper ballot, and what do I do after that?  I feed it into an electronic scanner (something similar to the one pictured here) to record my votes. Low and behold, I just voted electronically anyway!

Seriously, what is the difference?  If you have an electronic voting machine that retains a paper receipt of every voters choices, printed in view of the voter, how is this any different from making your marks on a paper then feeding it into a ballot scanner? Well, one uses more paper.

It has me wondering. Was there only one electronic voting machine there because the city/county could not afford more, or are people in my area afraid of electronic voting? If the later is true, someone really needs to inform these people that they are voting electronically anyway…

So, in fact, there were two electronic voting machines in the room.  One that lets you enter your votes straight into the computer via a screen and one that scans votes marked on paper. One of these options uses less paper – and in the long run would probably save money, and a few trees.

Three cheers fr REAL electronic voting!!!

Reason, Law, and Beer

I just read this article on Reason.com and thought I’d just plug it, since it made some really great points about reason, law and beer:

How Your Beer Bought John McCain’s $500 Loafers
Uncovering the government subsidies behind Cindy McCain’s family fortune

The article discusses the history of alcohol distribution and the “poor” economics of the forced three-tiered system in place in most states.

Hey, She Looks Familiar…

Like many of you, I was not familiar with Alaska’s governor, Sarah Palin, until McCain’s nominating her for his running mate. She does look familiar. But the similarities seem to go way beyond the visual.

peggy_hill

Peggy Hill

Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin

Peggy Hill

  • Politics: Republican
  • Age: 43
  • Born in Montana
  • Married
  • Husband sells propane & propane accessories
  • Mother
  • Intelligent
  • Has run for local school board
  • Substitute Teacher
Sarah Palin

  • Politics: Republican
  • Age: 44
  • Born in Idaho
  • Married
  • Husband works in oil industry
     
  • Mother
  • Believes in Intelligent Design
  • Vice presidential candidate
  • Mom was a school teacher

Any more similarities? Let me know. I’ll add them to the list.

Fun With Gas

Paying a lot for gas these days?  So am I, or so I thought.  My last fill up was $4.16 per gallon.  Seems expensive, right?  Well, take a look at what they’re paying in several European countries:

For the week of 19 May 2008
Belgium: $8.84
France: $8.48
Germany: $8.75
Italy: $8.65
Netherlands: $9.54
UK: $8.31
USA: $4.02
Source: US Department of Energy

And we’re complaining about that measly $4.02 per gallon. Just be glad you aren’t making that 64 mile commute to work in the Netherlands!

Recently, many politicians, Democrats in particular, have been promoting ways of trying to lower the gas prices.  At the same time they’re the ones wanting big increases in fuel efficiency for cars (which would be great) and promoting alternative fuels.

The thing is, high gas prices are just what’s needed to push the market in that direction.  Trying to lower gas prices by using temporary tax cuts, etc, is just hindering their long term goal of getting more efficient cars on the road and increasing mass transit ridership.  What are they thinking?

Just Buffooneristic “food for thought”.

Cookin’ with a Beer — and its Can?

So, I subscribe to a cooking magazine, and was just sent an email with a link to this video recipe posted on AmericasTestKitchen.com:  Beer Can Chicken!

Just the sound of that piqued my curiosity, but not necessarily in a positive way.  For starters, the “beer in the can” part brought about visions of bad tasting, cheap American mega-brew.  And well, if you watch the video (or take a look at the screen shot below), you’ll see that it doesn’t disappoint.  But the second thing that got me wondering was the mention of the can.  You can make all sorts of brines, gravies, sauces, and what have you, with the actual beer, but why mention the can?  Well, I was in for a big treat!

The video starts with the chef’s co-host reading aloud a letter that a viewer had sent in — something to the effect of: “My son is a truck driver and can’t have any alcohol in his system if he gets pulled over.  Can I make ‘Beer Can Chicken’ with a can of soda instead?”  Ummm…  Alcohol has a boiling point that’s even lower that that of water’s.  Hint:  there won’t be any alcohol in your chicken!  However, the host passes over this most obvious of responses, and simply answers the question…

Yes, we are assured, you can make beer can chicken with a can of soda.  Mmmm, soda can chicken.  And you can even do it with Lemonade, she adds.  (That comes in a can?)  Her cinematically naive co-host then ever so purposely chimes in with the question, “What about the wine and cheese folks?”  ….”There’s no wine in this one”, she replies.   No kidding?

Then, shortly after, the chef picks up a can of beer and announces that you can’t use a full can or it’ll boil over.  (I wasn’t let down, she was using a can of Budweiser!)  So, she proceeds to pour some out into a glass for her co-host, takes a sip out of the can herself and with a split-second look of forced ecstasy exclaims, “Mmmm, that’s good”, and conveniently sets the beer can down with the Bud label in perfect alignment with the camera.  Now that’s product placement!

Beer Can ChickenThe climax of all this culinary buffoonery is when the chef and co-host are outdoors, and after prepping the BBQ, walk over to the table showcasing the chicken and the beer.  The chef grabs the chicken, and prepares to lower it, end first, onto the beer can — and I don’t think it would be completely out of line to say she was preparing to “molest the chicken”. At this point, her co-host boyishly exclaims, “I’ve been waiting for this part.  This is the fun part of this recipe.”  And then, as if he hadn’t made himself clear, the host asks, “Are you excited?”.  “Yes I am”, he replies.

As the chicken comes to rest on top of the can (depicted in all it’s glory in the accompanying screenshot), a proud host exclaims, “Voila”, to which the co-host replies, “That was easy!”   And he was expecting?

Cooking just doesn’t get any better than this…

Watch the video for yourself

(I just love a post that covers Food, Beer and Buffoonery!)

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