Occasionally, I go off on a tangent and this is certainly one of those times. In an email, someone asked me for an anchor point and I remembered all these jokes and one-liners I have in my other website (www.SquareWheels.com) and going there reminded me of just how many of those things I posted years ago…
Here are a couple from that one page and note that there are 9 pages of jokes on the Square Wheels website.
This is a good one on communications in general. You might actually do this as an exercise in the classroom:
An English professor wrote the words, “a woman without her man is nothing” on the blackboard and directed the students to punctuate it correctly.
The men wrote: “A woman, without her man, is nothing.”
The women wrote: “A woman: without her, man is nothing.”
Perspective is everything!
On customer service:
A husband and wife are traveling by car from Atlanta to New York. After almost twenty-four hours on the road, they’re too tired to continue, and they decide to stop for a rest. They stop at a nice hotel and take a room, but they only plan to sleep for four hours and then get back on the road.
When they check out four hours later, the desk clerk hands them a bill for $350. The man explodes and demands to know why the charge is so high. He tells the clerk although it’s a nice hotel, the rooms certainly aren’t worth $350. When the clerk tells him $350 is the standard rate, the man insists on speaking to the manager.
The manager listens to the man and then explains the hotel has an Olympic-sized pool and a huge conference center that were available for the husband and wife to use. He also explains they could have taken in one of the shows for which the hotel is famous. “The best entertainers from New York, Hollywood and Las Vegas perform here,” explains the manager.
No matter what facility the manager mentions, the man replies, “But we didn’t use it!” The manager is unmoved and eventually the man gives up and agrees to pay. He writes a check and gives it to the manager. The manager is surprised when he looks at the check. “But sir,” he says, “this check is only made out for $100.”
“That’s right,” says the man. “I charged you $250 for sleeping with my wife.”
“But I didn’t!” exclaims the manager.
“Well,” the man replies, “she was here, and you could have.”
I LOVE MY JOB!
**Contributed by Bob Laurie, Juneau, Alaska, from the Lost Dr. Seuss Book**
I love my Job, I love the Pay!
I love it more and more each day.
I love my Boss; he’s the best!
I love his boss and all the rest.
I love my Office and its location –
I hate to have to go on vacation.
I love my furniture, drab and gray,
and the paper that piles up every day!
I love my chair in my padded Cell!
There’s nothing else I love so well.
I love to work among my Peers –
I love their leers and jeers and sneers.
I love my Computer and all its Software;
I hug it often though it doesn’t care…
I love each Program and every File,
I try to understand once in a while!!
I’m happy to be here, I am I am;
I’m the happiest Slave of my Uncle Sam.
I love this Work: I love these Chores.
I love the Meetings with deadly Bores.
I love my Job – I’ll say it again –
I even love these friendly Men –
These men who’ve come to visit today
In lovely white coats to take me away!!!
On Promotion and Marketing:
“If the circus is coming to town and you paint a sign saying “Circus Coming to the Fairground Saturday,” that’s advertising. If you put the sign on the back of an elephant and walk him into town, that’s promotion. If the elephant walks through the mayor’s flower bed, that’s publicity. If you can get the mayor to laugh about it, that’s public relations.
And if you planned the elephant’s walk, that’s marketing.”
Murphy’s Technology Laws –
Murphy’s Technology Law #1:
You can never tell which way the train went by looking at the track.
Murphy’s Technology Law #2:
Logic is a systematic method of coming to the wrong conclusion with confidence.
Murphy’s Technology Law #3:
Technology is dominated by those who manage what they do not understand.
Murphy’s Technology Law #4:
If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then the first woodpecker that came along would destroy civilization.
Murphy’s Technology Law #5:
An expert is one who knows more and more about less and less until he/she knows absolutely everything about nothing.
Murphy’s Technology Law #6:
Tell a man there are 300 billion stars in the universe, and he’ll believe you. Tell him a bench has wet paint on it, and he’ll have to touch to be sure.
Murphy’s Technology Law #7:
All great discoveries are made by mistake.
Murphy’s Technology Law #8:
Nothing ever gets built on schedule or within budget.
Murphy’s Technology Law #9:
All’s well that ends… period.
Murphy’s Technology Law #10:
A meeting is an event at which minutes are kept and hours are lost.
Murphy’s Technology Law #11:
The first myth of management is that it exists.
Murphy’s Technology Law #12:
A failure will not appear until a unit has passed final inspection.
Murphy’s Technology Law #13:
New systems generate new problems.
Murphy’s Technology Law #14:
To err is human, but to really foul things up requires a computer.
Murphy’s Technology Law #15:
We don’t know one-millionth of one percent about anything.
Murphy’s Technology Law #16:
Any given program, when running, is obsolete.
Murphy’s Technology Law #17:
A computer makes as many mistakes in two seconds as 20 men working 20 years make.
This story below has been a favorite storyline of mine for a long time. But read my added comments at the end:
How Standards are set
The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet 8.5 inches. That’s an exceedingly odd number. Why was that gauge used? Because that’s the way they built them in England, and English expatriates built the US railroads.
Why did the English build them like that? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that’s the gauge they used.
Why did ‘they’ use that gauge then? Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing.
Okay! Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing? Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads in England, because that’s the spacing of the wheel ruts.
So who built those old rutted roads? The first long distance roads in Europe (and England) were built by Imperial Rome for their legions. The roads have been used ever since. And the ruts? Roman war chariots first made the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels and wagons. Since the chariots were made for, or by Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.
Thus, we have the answer to the original question. The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches derives from the original specification for an Imperial Roman war chariot.
Specifications and bureaucracies live forever. So, the next time you are handed a specification and wonder which horse’s rear came up with it, you may be exactly right. Because the Imperial Roman war chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back ends of two war-horses.
And now, the twist to the story…
There’s an interesting extension to the story about railroad gauges and horses’ behinds. When we see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. Thiokol makes the SRBs at their factory at Utah. The engineers who designed the SRBs might have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory had to run through a tunnel in the mountains. The SRBs had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track is about as wide as two horses behinds.
So, the major design feature of what is arguably the world’s most advanced transportation system was determined by the width of a Horse’s [rear]!
A check of the above on Snopes finds the storyline to not be true. (See http://www.snopes.com/history/american/gauge.asp) – in part, it says:
The eventual standardization of railroad gauge in the U.S. was due far less to a slavish devotion to a gauge inherited from England than to the simple fact that the North won the Civil War and, in the process, rebuilt much of the Southern railway system to match its own:
Still, the above does make for a great story!
On the value of good help!
A salesman is lost in a rural area and stops at a farm to get directions. As he is talking to the farmer he notices a pig with a wooden leg. “How did the pig get a wooden leg?”, he asks the farmer.
“Well”, says the farmer, “that is a very special pig. One night not too long ago we had a fire start in the barn. Well, sir, that pig set up a great squealing that woke everyone, and by the time we got there he had herded all the other animals out of the barn and saved everyone of them.”
“And that was when he hurt his leg?” asked the salesman. “Oh no” says the farmer. “He was fine after that. Though a while later I was in the woods out back and a bear attacked me. Well, sir, that pig was near by and he came running and set on that bear and chased him off. Saved me for sure.” “So the bear injured his leg then.” says the salesman.
“Oh no. He came away without a scratch from that. Though a few days later my tractor turned over in a ditch and I was knocked unconscious. Well, that pig dove into the ditch and pulled me out before I drown.” “So he hurt his leg then?” asks the salesman. “Oh no,” says the farmer. “So how did he get the wooden leg?” the salesman asks.
“Well”, the farmer tells him, “A pig like that, you don’t want to eat all at once.”
If They Wrote Computer Error Messages in Haiku
Some computer messages, done poetically in Haiku
First snow, then silence.
This thousand dollar screen dies
With searching comes loss
and the presence of absence:
“My Novel” not found.
The Tao that is seen
is not the true Tao, until
you bring fresh toner.
Chaos reigns within.
Reflect, repent, and reboot.
Order shall return.
Three things are certain:
death, taxes, and lost data.
Guess which has occurred.
A file that big?
It might be very useful,
but now it is gone.
Errors have occurred.
We won’t tell you where or why.
Seeing my great fault
through darkening blue windows,
I begin again
The code was willing.
It considered your request,
but the chips were weak.
Printer not ready.
Could be a fatal error.
Have a camera?
Server’s poor response
not quick enough for browser.
Timed out, plum blossom.
Only perfect spellers may
enter this system.
This site has 404’d.
We’d tell you where, but then we’d
have to delete you.
Wind catches lily
scatt’ring petals to the wind.
Close all that you have.
You ask much too much.
The Web site you seek
cannot be located so
find endless others.
Stay the patient course.
Of little worth is your ire.
Find your network down.
A crash reduces
your expensive computer
to a paperweight.
A chasm exists
of carbon and silicon
the software can’t bridge.
To have no errors
would be life without meaning.
No struggle, no joy.
You step in the stream,
but the water has moved on.
This page is not here.
Having been erased,
the document you’re seeking
must now be retyped.
Rather than a beep
or a rude error message,
simply: “File not found.”
All shortcuts have disappeared.
Screen. Mind. Both are blank.
On Thoughts and Thinking
Despite my vast (nay, encyclopedic) knowledge and understanding of all aspects of the Internet, one thing puzzles me. That is how I can send a message to a group and have it appear literally within seconds, and then send another which will take more than 24 hours to appear.
(Signed)Puzzled Los Gatos Sociologist
Ah. I’m happy to report that you have come to the right place for the answer to this deep question.
Before I reveal the cause of the common phenomenon you’re wondering about, though, I’d like to point out some other quirky behaviors that you may have noticed.
.. Some days your car starts on the first turn of the starter. Some days it doesn’t start at all.
.. Some recent nights have been brilliantly lighted by the full moon. Tonight I’ve waited and waited, but all I got was wet.
These have nothing to do with why one message is transmitted immediately while another takes 24 hours.
The reason is complex, and we technologists don’t often expect even to hear such sophisticated questions from those outside the inner circle, and many of us are loathe to reveal the hidden cause.
But you seem trustworthy, so…
Look at your keyboard. Notice how the keys are all out of order? You’d think they’d be in alphabetical order, wouldn’t you? But no, they are arranged in an odd pattern called QWERTY, originally devised by a typewriter manufacturer to slow typists down to the point where his machines wouldn’t jam. Imagine, now, when you send a message down the wires, how differently the many routers and interfaces that the message goes through are affected by different juxtapositions of letters in your message. Just as a modest change in the original position of a chess problem has a dramatic effect on the time required to solve it, the tiniest change in the arrangement of letters in your message – often not even noticeable to any but the expert eye, and even then only with complex measurement equipment – can wreak havoc with every interface the message must pass through.
Imagine you had a car wider than the normal freeway lane. Going through interchanges would be a particular trial; how quickly you could pass through would depend on the amount of other traffic, the number of odd-shaped oncoming cars, and many other factors — much too complex to summarize quickly. But I’m sure you get the idea. And just as if you drove through many interchanges in your odd-shaped car you could be delayed dramatically, changes in the letter composition of your message slow it down every time it goes through a router, the internet’s interchange.
The letters W and M are particularly noxious in this way. If they happen to fall within the same word, as in women, or if multiples of them fall within a word, as in mammal, or wow, their retardant effect is in fact squared; this was first proved by Von Neumann in 1944, although certain notes of Ada Lovelace in 1861 indicate that she, too, had the basic idea.
The vowels, on the other hand, particularly I and O, are quite slippery and can speed up the trip of your message through a router; in fact, an I almost cancels an M, and words with many Is and Os, such as oil, lion, noise, and onion, can have a remarkable accelerating effect.
These are only the extreme cases. Each letter, and in fact each key, has its own lexical friction coefficient (LFC), which often depends on the relationship of the letter to other letters in the word and to other words in the message. LFC tables were originally compiled by Hollerith in 1901, for use in his famous Census-tabulating work, but were not made available to the general public until IBM brought out the 407 tabulating machine in the mid-thirties, and published a full set of lexical friction data in the documentation that was issued with the machine. Later, in 1962, when IBM first produced the Selectric typewriter, new LFC tables had to be constructed; these were made available in technical libraries.
Depending on the net lexical friction of a message, the transit time of a message through a router can differ by as much as a factor of fifty. This in itself is hardly sufficient to explain the difference between instant delivery and 24-hour delivery, however. The biggest part of the effect is a second-order result of high-LFC messages passing through routers. Just as when a stream slows down it deposits much more silt and other sediment on its bed, a high-lfc message, traveling slowly through a router, leaves what amounts to arterial plaque in the routers optical fiber connections. Optical fiber builds up LFC-related plaque anyway, but normally so slowly that fibers don’t have to be cleaned or changed for years. However, a chance confluence of many high-LFC message can deposit so much LFC plaque in the fiber connections of a router that the router can be totally disabled. Even if the router is not put completely out of service by fiber plaque, it can transmit messages so slowly that many recipient protocol managers conclude correctly that their correspondents have failed, and request retransmission. Thus high-LFC messages not only move more slowly through the internet, but actually raise the internet’s traffic load while they do so.
This issue has been studied in great detail by my erstwhile employer, whose interest in fiber plaque, LFC aggregation, and the resulting internet congestion is so high that it has formed a special task force to study the matter and recommend solutions within a year. I fully expect, however, that since the matter is dependent on keyboard design originally, these studies will probably result in little improvement, and once again we will be left anxiously awaiting the next-faster generation of optics, routers, and computers, meanwhile helplessly floundering in a stew of such technical complexity that only the few can comprehend it.
I would suggest that to improve your transmission times you should begin by tabulating the letter counts in your messages, and correlate them with message delivery delays. This technique is crude, but should give you a rough idea of what to expect. If your needs go beyond manual counting, you can find any number of lexical friction coefficient analysis programs in the commercial world, replete with graphic interfaces and LCF-optimization capabilities.
I’m glad to have been of service in this matter, and will make myself available for further questions as they occur to you.
Received from Teresa’s Jokers
For the FUN of It!
Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.
Square Wheels are a trademark of Performance Management Company
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