From Yorkshire To Virginia

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Looking for a job?

This job listing was forwarded to me by a friend who is currently on the market for a new position...

Office Jester

The Motley Fool seeks an outgoing, multi-talented Fool to be our full-time Office Jester. That's right; we work hard and have fun too. We couldn’t be the Motley Fool without our own Jester, after all. The ideal individual will embrace our core value of Joyful Optimism, bringing humor, entertainment, and amusement to all employees and visitors of Fool Global HQ. This is not a new position but it offers great flexibility in execution.
Primary Responsibilities/Objectives:

* Roam office entertaining employees
* Plan and execute parties and happy hours
* Participate in all company meetings and gatherings as an interstitial speaker
* Identify struggling or overworked Fools or Teams and brighten their day
* Function as office DJ, managing/programming the office sound system. Manage musical requests efficiently, while keeping the office bumping.
* Order pizza for Pizza Day
* Repair damaged jester caps
* Construct complex balloon animals
* Care and feeding of the office monkey, Dr. Zaius
* Ride in Foolmobile as body double decoy for Gardner brothers
* Piggyback carry the winner of The Motley Fool Stock Picking Contest in St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Core Competencies:

* Current on all reality TV
* Pop Culture expert, able to postulate about Season 3 of Lost
* Always at the ready with a quip or comeback.
* Equally comfortable in a jester cap and bear suit
* MS Excel
* Proven game room skills as a formidable adversary in Halo, Ms. Pacman and Bubble Hockey; ability to convincingly let management win on occasion.
* Juggle chainsaws, bowling balls, and one item of your choosing
* Have >50 answers to knock-knock jokes, at least half of which must be funny
* Must have authored at least one viral video of moderate fame.
* Can tap a keg on the first try
* Extra napkins and utensils at the ready for Fools eating at their desks
* Can chug beer, shotgun beer, guzzle beer, snort beer, play beer pong, flip cup, 3 man, do beer bongs, beer cheers, keg stands, and bluegills with the best of them

Preferred Qualities:

* Friends would tell you that you are “seriously funny!” but they are laughing so hard they can’t breathe
* Tall or short but we prefer that you not be of average height, as it’s not as funny
* Crazy hair
* Annoying and easily recognizable laugh
* Friends with at least one B list celebrity. (No reality contestants)
* Experience in three of the following: Stand up, Street mime, rally racing, horticulture, pottery, rapping, paragliding, cattle ranching, roller skiing, ballet, actual break dancing/popping, ice fishing, chess
* Blood type AB (or equivalent)
* Ability to type 90 words a minute, replacing all vowels with various forms of smileys


* Clown college, Improv school, School of the Americas, Brown, or equivalent experience
For an internship position they've really gone in for a lot of detail, which means that the position is very well defined. There should be no ambiguity on the topic of roles and responsibilities. I wonder how many people have been turned off by the Excel requirement though? ;)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Bjork - WTF?

Ok Bjork, I thought that you took a lot of undeserved flack over the whole swan dress, and laying an egg on the red carpet at the oscars, but your new album cover just takes it to a whole new level of strange...

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Tooth and Knee

Friday night, on the drive home, one of my teeth started to ache. Later on that evening it started to hurt. By 10.30 I was in a lot of pain, so I called the dentist. By 11.30pm I was in his surgery, and he began drilling. An hour later I was on my way home, nice and tired and numb.

Yesterday I went to my soccer game and played for pretty much the entire match (I was subbed out for about 10 minutes), and the great thing is that my knee held up. We won 5-1 and I actually set up the second goal with a nice pass into the middle. I'll be back out there next Saturday.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Balderdash practice

Have you ever played the game Balderdash? You're split into teams, given a dictionary word, and have to make up a definition. The person in the middle reads each fake definition, and the real one, and you have to vote on which one you believe to be the real definition. Should you get it right, you get a point. Should others vote for your definition, that's a point for each team that picked it. Advanced versions of Balderdash have you writing what happened on a date in history, or to describe why a particular person is 'famous'.

The game I prefer, however, is the abbreviation game. You're given an abbreviation and each team has to come up with a believable group, society, or association that uses those initials. How can you get easy practice at this? Easy! The next time you're stuck in traffic, look at the license plate of the car in front... no, not that one with the personalized plates, the one next to it... take those 3 letters and try to come up with a group that could use those initials. For instance, today I was behind a car with a license plate starting with GLA. What organization could use those initials? "Guy Lombardi Appreciators"? "Gay, Lesbian Alliance"? "Gladioli Lovers Association"? "Greatest Living Americans"?. The possibilities are endless (well as long as you're not behind a license plate starting with ZQX), and the next time your friends come over for a friendly game of Balderdash, you'll be ready for them...

Toastmasters Table Topics

So tonight is another meeting of the Manassas Community Toastmasters, where we'll be trying something a little different. Usually we have the speakers go up and do their 5-7 minute presentations, then we have the table topics (where audience members are picked at random to give on the spot 1-2 minute speeches about any topic - such as "If you won $30 million, what would you do in the first week?", and "Who is the Greatest Living American?"). After a break, we then have the speech evaluators come up and give 2-3 minute talks on each of the earlier speeches. Everything is timed, and the whole group votes on the best speaker, the best table topics speaker, and the best speech evaluator for the evening.

Tonight we're doing a backwards meeting, which means that we're going to have the evaluators present before they hear the speakers... yeah, and this would be the first time that I've been picked to be an evaluator. How can you evaluate something that you've not heard I hear you cry? Easy, you make it up. Anyone that knows me, knows that I'm going to have fun with that. :) (Of course, the official evaluations will be done post-speech, and recorded in the manuals).

Monday, April 16, 2007

Virginia Tech Tragedy

As a graduate of Virginia Tech (2003 - Masters) my thoughts go out to those impacted by the horrific events of today.

From an email I received today from the Alumni Association
Many have asked how they may send financial memorials… any memorial gifts, payable to the “Virginia Tech Foundation,” designated specifically for the “Virginia Tech Family Fund,” should be mailed to University Development, 902 Prices Fork Road (0336), Blacksburg, VA 24061.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Customer service differences between the US & UK

I had a couple of good customer service experiences tonight that I thought I'd blog on. The first was at the local Pizza Hut. I'm not a frequent visitor there, but Gwyneth won a free pizza at school today for her reading, so I took her. We ordered 2 personal pan pizzas, a cup of tea and a glass of milk, which after the free pizza came to ~$6. Despite the fact that he wasn't going to get a really high tip based on the ticket, our server kept bringing out hot water, milk and teabags for my tea, when I was close to finishing (fairly normal you may think, but he was overdoing it a little, by the end of the meal I had 4 unused teabags sitting in front of me). He talked to Gwyneth and listened to her responses, brought her out a balloon, crayons, and coloring menu, and just generally had a great attitude.

Then when I got home I had a phone call on the answering machine from the Washington Capitals ticket office. I'd been to one game all season, and inquired about tickets for another, but they had called me to say that it was the end of the season, and they wanted my feedback on how I'd enjoyed the game that I'd attended, and to thank me for supporting the caps.

Then tonight I read this article in the Guardian about how the HSBC bank in Canford Cliffs, Dorset, England has a rule that

Only customers with £50,000 or more in savings, a hefty mortgage or a salary of at least £75,000 are being allowed to talk to staff. Everyone else has to make do with the cash withdrawal and automated paying-in machines.
What a difference...

My Marketing Pilgrim Contest Entry

I've written an article on the Ways to improve the Conversion Rate for your Website, this is my entry for the Marketing Pilgrim Scholarship Contest. The article talks about using Dynamic Keyword Insertion, Geotargeting, and making sure that you send people to the Right Landing Page. Take a look, and feel free to leave comments there.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Football schedule

...assuming my knee holds up...

April 2007
Sat Apr 14 4:45 pm Team 2 - Dobbins vs Team 4 - Key
Sat Apr 21 4:45 pm Team 4 - Key vs Team 5 -
Sat Apr 28 4:45 pm Team 4 - Key vs Team 3
May 2007
Sat May 5 3:00 pm Team 4 - Key vs Team 5 -
Sat May 19 4:45 pm Team 4 - Key vs Team 3
Sun May 20 3:00 pm Team 4 - Key vs Team 2 - Dobbins
June 2007
Sat Jun 2 3:00 pm Team 4 - Key vs Team 5 -

Sunday, April 01, 2007

A busted knee, a forearm to the head and a missed open goal

Today I attended the Fairfax county pick up soccer game, organized through It was the first one that I'd attended, and was held at a school ~30 minutes from home. The game started off ok, but as it went on my knee started to hurt, and after I was in a tackle where my ankle went in a different way to the rest of my leg it got worse. I stayed on the pitch, collecting a forearm smash to the head from my goalie when we both went up for the ball along the way. Eventually the other team figured out that they didn't need to mark the gimp, so the left me alone, which meant that at one point I was all alone in the penalty box, when the Carlos Valderama lookalike crossed in beautifully for me at the far post, naturally I shanked it wide. Ah well, there's always next time, although maybe my doctor will say that there isn't for a while after he takes a look at my knee...