Monday, January 31, 2011

A Series of Unfortunate Shredding (Number the one after the first)

Onychophagia, or nail biting is a common oral compulsive habit according to expert sources*. These expert sources are silent on the presumably much more rare habit of shredding one's nails, however.

Given the silence of the experts regarding this disorder, I feel it is my duty to step in and put forth a working theory. By this effort I hope to pave the way for preventative treatment and to spread awareness.

As we all know, awareness of a problem is always the greatest part of the battle... or at least 5% or so of the battle. The other 95% consisting of laying down your pipe, extricating yourself from your velvet armchair, and actually working towards a solution.

Since this warning is only to be seen on shredders, I am lead to believe the disorder primarily affects office workers with too much paperwork. It is my theory that doing too much paperwork and later being forced to shred said paperwork muddles the brain. Paperwork feels meaningless to begin with a large percentage of the time. How much more so when the end product of that paperwork is trash?

When meaning is removed from work, the mind and hand tend to wander. Repetitive meaningless work magnifies the effect approximately ten fold according to the numbers which I have just made up. Eventually some percentage of workers are bound to daydream about the shredder being a Stargate, doorway to Narnia, or other portal away from the land flowing with paper and tedium.

Bravo to the shredder company for predicting this problem and clearly labeling their shredders as not being usable as a Stargate. If only they had designed the shredder to produce confetti for celebratory flinging at the end of the work day, I would heartily recommend they be given a standing ovation.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Series of Unfortunate Shredding (Number the First)

It is difficult for one who has not studied the White-Collared Cubicle Dweller to understand just how excited they can become upon acquiring a new piece of office machinery.

If the machinery is communal, the Cubicle Dweller will gather with the flock to admire and test the machinery until the capricious office psyche is bored with the contraption.

Should the device fall under the sole proprietorship of a single Cubicle Dweller, one should steer clear of the giddiness, experimentation, and warning labels that are likely to ensue.

The picture above is one of the warning labels resulting from a Cubicle Dweller obtaining a paper shredder. Almost every shredder in the world has some form of this warning label emblazoned upon it. Why? For the simple reason that the first thing a disillusioned cubicle dweller will do with a shredder is attempt to transform any tie in the vicinity into something resembling confetti.

Dress codes tend to grate on the average Cubicle Dweller's nerves, and what better outlet could they find for their frustration than a tie, the very symbol of purposeless attire? Give them the ideal method of expressing said feelings toward said article, a paper shredder, and no one should be surprised at the results.

Fortunately for the Committee of Head Injury Avoidance, manufacturers have come up with this sort of label to call for a thoughtful pause to consider that perhaps the tie should be unfastened from it's current host before being sent to it's well deserved fate.

Personally I think they went a little overboard by portraying a tie only and not the unfortunate gentleman attached to it, thus implying that ties simply shouldn't be shredded and flung into the air during the Boss's Lunch Break Parade. But I suppose that would probably have gotten the shredder a PG-13 rating for scary images, and they really wanted to keep it more of a family friendly shredder.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

An Opportunity of Pure Iron Pyrite

Ahh, the holidays! With their dazzling decorative displays, exquisite edibles, and just a hint of harumphery in the air. They also happen to be a convenient excuse for my long absence from this venue. For surely naught but the holidays could keep me from writing for the amusement of my loyal readers (Some of you are loyal, aren't you?). Lack of inspiration is completely unknown to me. And if you believe that... have I got the opportunity for you!

The most observant, less charitable individuals might say avaricious, among you probably noticed something missing from my description of the holidays. That's right, presents! Specifically that most vital ingredient of the holiday season, the right presents. Take presents away from the holidays and what do you have really? Gathering with those unfortunates who share the same ancestry as you to celebrate your love of oddly prickly trees festooned with shiny baubles. At least that is the impression I got from several ads I received shortly after Christmas from various shops catering to those that didn't get what they wanted and needed to purchase it for themselves.

Luckily for all those who have ever silently suffered through yet another addition argyle addition to their wardrobe because it would be impolite to turn down the beneficence of a certain relation, I was inspired to action by those ads. It became clear to me right then and there that the outdated method of knowing the recipient well enough to choose a pleasing gift simply won't do. It's a terrible lot of work, and not even near 100% accurate. Clearly science needs to step in and assist with the only logical answer, the Giftometer!

The Giftometer is a theoretical device which would offer visual and possibly auditory cues as to the appropriateness of nearby items as gifts for a specific individual. Naturally it would first have to be calibrated for a particular individual, most likely via temporary attachment and draining of non-essential material for analysis. Traditionally science tends to favor bodily fluids or brainwaves, nothing anyone will miss, of course. Hopefully the device could be made highly portable, though the first generation apparatus will most likely be room sized, as per standard scientific operating procedure.

If you are puzzled why I would liken such an opportunity to iron pyrite, allow me to explain. Before I explain that, however, allow me to address the group that is confused about iron pyrite alone due to a lack of essential mineral knowledge. I would like to suggest a book on the subject of mineralogy for the perusal of those of you who fit into this category, however, when I searched for such a book on Amazon, the search engine helpfully crossed out "knowledge" and pointed me toward "Salted: A Manifesto on the World's Most Essential Mineral, with Recipes". One hopes that salt is not the essential ingredient in said recipes, but I digress.

Since it appears knowledge is not one of the commodities which Amazon provides, I will offer a much more limited insight into the fascinating world of mineralogy before moving on. Iron pyrite is commonly known as fool's gold and is often thought of as worthless, but in the right hands it is actually quite profitable. Those right hands can form it into $162 pyramids like this one:

The assisted gift selection industry is similar in obvious ways to iron pyrite, yet it's market is completely untapped. The only assistance services I know of are offered by your friends, and they may just be out to make you look bad and waste your money. I would like to take their place in this matter and waste utilize your money on funding my research*. Thus I will be adding new ways for you to hand over your cash contribute to my projects as I think of them. In return for your continued support, you will receive the privilege of being allowed to purchase Giftometer devices slightly sooner than everyone else**.

*Scientific breakthroughs are often achieved as a side effect of an unrelated endeavor, or sometimes through dreaming. Thus my research methods include plenty of time spent on seemingly random internet surfing, eating bagels, and sleeping.

**Everyone else is likely to get one of these devices approximately never. My calculator breaks when I try to calculate never + slightly sooner, but I'm sure that's just a bug and the true mathematical result would leave you very impressed with your chances.

***What are you reading this footnote for? There isn't even a *** marker anywhere in the text!