Word Your Survey Well

I was just minding my own business on the web, checking my credit card statement, when along popped a survey plea. Normally I just decline offers to participate in surveys, but tonight I felt generous.

Okay, maybe not generous. There is a glaring omission to the website that I wish they would fix, so I volunteered for the survey in the hopes that there would be a question about said glaring omission.

And I was not disappointed.

But there were lots of other questions too. I answered them to the best of my abilities. Those of you who know me know that one of my better abilities is the ability to take things literally. It comes in handy in the engineering profession, but it tends to annoy ordinary civilians.

I did not want to skew their survey results, but I am obligated, nay compelled, to answer the question as written. It’s a two part question, so be sure to read 19.2 and then 19.2.1 and then go back and read 19.2 before reading my answer to 19.2.1 (you can ignore 20).

picture of part of an online survey for credit card website satisfaction

(click on the image for the full-size version, which is only slightly larger)

As usual, the credit card company name has been obscured in order to protect the innocent.

The question asked if I would recommend viewing my statement online to other people. But I don’t want other people to see my statement, so of course I wouldn’t recommend it.

I think they meant to ask “How likely are you to recommend [credit card company]‘s online statement feature to a friend or colleague?” or “How likely are you to recommend the online viewing of statements at [credit card company] to a friend or colleague?”

In case you are wondering: yes, I did leave that text there and submit the form. What you see is how I actually answered the survey. I don’t know if the survey people will appreciate it, but I had fun typing it.

Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults.

Psalm 19:12

I Can Has Time Back?

One night during the Easter break, I spent about 2 hours on the Cheezburger Network, just flipping through the various sites and discovering interesting things and reading captioned photos.

And reading captioned photos.

And reading captioned photos.

They kind of blend together after a while, but I couldn’t stop clicking on the “Next” button.

After a couple of hours, I snapped out of it. Where had the time gone? What had I done with my life tonight? What else could I have accomplished with those two hours? I could have cleaned off the tops of my dresser and nightstand. I could have finally attached the trim around the closet in the bathroom. I could have done a number of useful things.

The Cheezburger Network is not useful.

I want a refund.

Srsly, can I get those two hours back?

I suppose it was no worse than a bad movie, so I’ll just consider it that. Yeah, like a choose-your-own-adventure movie because I was clicking on links to determine the plot content.

No, wait…that makes it worse. I am complaining about a bad movie that I directed. At least it was free.

Oh well, I suppose that’s what the internet is for.

And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day long?’

Matthew 20:6

American Idol, Season 9, Top 9

Poor Ryan Seacrest. He looked a little lost up there without Didi. Last week during Didi’s interview he never let go of her hand. This week he barely touched the contestants. Apparently he’s not looking for a rebound contestant to take her place.

Now on to the singing for Lennon-McCartney week…

Aaron Kelly: “The Long and Winding Road”

Sings nicely, but predictable. Do ballads sell well these days?

Katie Stevens: “Let It Be”

The song was fine, that’s all. Good job.

Andrew Garcia: “Can’t Buy Me Love”

I was glad to see he did not wear a tan jacket this week. That just makes him look like Kim Jong Il, if you squint a bit while watching. I have no idea what Kim Jong Il sounds like, especially while singing.

Michael Lynch: “Eleanor Rigby”

Not bad, but he has to do better than this if he wants to make it to the final.

Crystal Bowersox: “Come Together”

If this were Survivor or Biggest Loser, Crystal would be the one who won immunity every week. Not that she needs it, since she’s good every week.

Crystal, learn a lesson from Tara Costa – you can win every week’s contest but still not win the grand prize. I don’t know what that means or how that is supposed to help you, but I felt like writing it.

Tim Urban: “All My Loving”

This isn’t a smiling competition – it’s a singing competition. Tim can certainly sing, but not as well or as memorably as the other contestants.

Casey James: “Jealous Guy”

Katie Stevens did a pretty good imitation of Casey’s laugh during the pre-game interview.

Siobhan did not.

I’m sure he’ll go through to next week, even though most of the 30 million people watching had never heard that song before. I know I wouldn’t recognize that song if I heard it again, unless I heard the words “jealous guy” in it.

Siobhan Magnus: “Across the Universe”

It’s like having a new contestant every week! Who is that new girl on AI? The one who looks nothing Siobhan did last week? Oh wait, it’s Siobhan again. But she still sounds good.

If I had to create a Transformers name, I would use “Siobhan Magnus”.

Lee Dewyze: “Hey Jude”

This song gets old quickly, but Lee did his best to move it along and not let it get too boring. But having the audience sing? Singing the song is your job, Lee.

What did the bagpipes have to do with that performance? I’ll tell you what: it was distracting, but it will make people remember Lee’s song.

Who’s going home? Probably either Aaron or Andrew.

Who, besides those two, will make it into the bottom three? Probably either Katie or Tim.

Want a better review of American Idol? Go read Boomama.

It is better to listen to the rebuke of a wise man Than for one to listen to the song of fools.

Ecclesiastes 7:5

Easter Breakfast 2010

As I was getting Alpha’s breakfast on Easter Sunday, I asked him what he wanted. He glanced at the piles of chocolate that had been left on the table after the Easter egg hunt the day before, and then he told me he wanted to eat a Hershey bar for breakfast.

What?!” I responded, “You can’t have chocolate for breakfast. How about some cereal? Here, have some, umm, Cocoa Krispies.

Inspired by that transaction, I grabbed the camera and the glass bowl that held most of the chocolate, and I setup a photo shoot.

Here, without further introduction, is my Easter breakfast:

Easter breakfast of a bowl of chocolate with milk

And here is a close-up shot of the contents:

Easter breakfast of a bowl of chocolate with milk

Ideally, the chocolates would be unwrapped. And if I had time I was going to add some milk in the bowl (virtually, using Photo-Paint) as that would make the visual even better (yes, I said Photo-Paint and not Photoshop).

But I didn’t. So you’ll just have to imagine it.

They gathered it morning by morning, every man as much as he should eat; but when the sun grew hot, it would melt.

Exodus 16:21

Preparing for Easter

Easter is like the Superbowl® of chocolate.  Christmas is good and all, but there are too many other things (cheese and sausage, eggnog, candy canes, etc.) that dilute the role that chocolate plays.

Easter, on the other hand, is just chocolate. Sure, some chocolate makers might fill the chocolate eggs with things such as peanut butter, Butterfingers, or cream (creme? crème?), but it’s all centered around chocolate.

Or worse than that – they fill the chocolate with air. “Hollow” is just a marketing term. Because really, who would buy air-filled chocolate? It makes it sound like a tire.

All that chocolate at Easter would be overwhelming if you’re not prepared for it. My wife has been buying chocolate so that we’ll be well-stocked when the big day arrives. I have been using the Stash O’ Chocolate to train.

Oh yes, you need to train for that day. Just diving into all that chocolate cold turkey could cause problems. Your body isn’t ready for it. Hmm…maybe “cold turkey” wasn’t the best phrase to pair with “chocolate”.

I have been gearing up. The training starts back in October and peaks on January 1st. Then it’s mostly maintenance through February and March. Now we’re on the home stretch so I’ve been increasing my chocolate intake each day. Saturday will be just a few bits of chocolate – a stretch and warm-up if you will.

I think I’m ready.

On an unrelated note: spring break is next week and I think I’ll start my spring/summer running program then. Run for half the year, eat chocolate for half the year. I think it’s a good balance.

On a related note: yes, I took the headline from Stuff Christians Like.

And he said to them, “Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him.

Mark 16:6

Consultant Consultant

There are various ways for a stay-at-home mom or stay-at-home dad to earn extra income, or at least try to. One of the more popular ways is the Independent Consultant.

The independent consultant sells a company’s goods via home shows – get someone to host a party and the IC demonstrates the products and takes orders.

It started with Tupperware, at least in my recollection.

Then along came Pampered Chef.

Then Creative Memories.

Then the snowball started getting out of control – Usborne Books, Lia Sophia, Close to My Heart, Southern Living at Home, Uppercase Living, and various other candle, lotion, perfume, and home goods companies.

The array of choices is so overwhelming that I think it needs some organizing. What if someone is interested in becoming an independent consultant but doesn’t know where to begin or what companies or products there are?

I propose a new home-show-based business: Meta Consultants.

The Meta Consultant (or Consultant Consultant) would be an independent consultant whose job would be to advise people about being an independent consultant. She would go into someone’s house for a home show and describe to the attendees the various companies and products there are to sell.

I’m sure there would be food and games involved too.

The Meta Consultant would not sell any products herself – she would get a commission based on how many people sign up to be consultants (or book new home shows).

I don’t have the details of where the company would get money to pay commissions, since no one is selling any products. But we’re in a service-based economy now, right? And we’re selling services instead of products now, right? So the money will come from somewhere, somehow.

And that’s why I’m typing this as a blog post and not as a business plan.

And they said, “We will call the girl and consult her wishes.”

Genesis 24:57

Better Than Avatar

This post is split into two parts. Read one or both or none, depending on which blogging platform(s) you use.

Blogger.com Users

Hey all you Blogger/Blogspot users: are you tired of people on WordPress who don’t show your profile picture next to the comment you left? Do you want that profile picture instead of the default or randomly-generated icon?

The reason your picture doesn’t appear is that you are using only Blogger.com and not Gravatar.com. Now Gravatar is supposed to be a Globally-Recognized Avatar (where “Avatar” is an icon or small picture, not the movie with extra special effects to distract you from the lack of a good plot). But it requires people to sign up for the service and a bunch of people, mainly blogger.com users, have not done so.

You have two options:

1. Sign up for Gravatar.com

2. Tell the person who uses WordPress instead of Blogger.com to install Grab Avatar. Send them to the Grab Avatar page for details.

I recommend step #2 because if everyone does step #1 then I’m out of business.

WordPress Users

Hey all you WordPress users: are you tired of people on Blogger.com who leave comments but don’t have a Gravatar so you can’t display their profile picture? Now you can please everyone. Grab Avatar finds a person’s avatar whether it is on Gravatar.com or Blogger.com.

It is a simple process and doesn’t require any code editing. Just install the plug-in and it magically starts working. Visit the Grab Avatar page for details.

Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.

1 Corinthians 15:49