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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The curious incident of the Mat6t in the evening-time

Last week I felt like my brain was being melted. Now it feels like the small puddle of brains in my head that didn't leak out my ears and nose is drying out and forming a flaky crust around the inside of my skull.

Giving surveys isn't so bad. It's just how people react so quickly to my voice that bothers me.

Phone picks up.

I jolt awake. "Wha!? Oh. Hello, I'm Matt Karlsven of Harris Interactive, a national research firm. (click) Today we're conducting a survey on marriarge. May I speak with _______?......Hello?"

That's the response that seems to happen most frequently. Then there are the people who never learned how to communicate with other human beings, but have chosen to keep trying, no matter how much failure ensues.

Phone picks up.

"Hello, I'm Matt Karlsven of Harris Interact..."

They interrupt, "Harris who? Who is this?"

"This is Matt. Today we're conducting surveys on marriage."

"Marriage? Well, sir, I'm divorced, and never going to get married again."

"Okay would you like to take this survey?"

"Now I live with three women, and it's great." (He didn't really refer to them as "women," but this is a family blog.)

I start the survey, "What is your age?"

"63."

Click.

That one was actually me hanging up. 63 and living with three "women"? Ewwwww.

Or this one time:

Phone picks up.

"Hello, I'm Matt Karlsven of Harris Interactive, a national survey research firm..."

"Hey, Matt, I'm a telemarketer and I know that you can't call me. I'm on a do-not-call list," She says this last part with pride.

"Well, actually we don't sell anything. We just conduct surveys so we were not included in the law congress passed or the national do-not-call list. However, we do have an internal do-not-call list. Would you like your number put on it?"

"I could report you, you know!"

"You wouldn't do that, would you?" I ask sincerely.

"I could! I could put you guys out of business!"

"No, please, I need this job! This is all I have!"

"Well, that's too bad."

"This is my life! What am I going to do? How am I going to eat?"

"Look, it's okay, just don't call me again, okay."

"PLEASE!!! Where am I going to live!?! Please don't do this! You don't need to..."

Click.

Oh yeah, here's one that happened today:

Phone picks up.

"Hello, I'm Matt Karlsven from Harris Interactive, and we're conducting surveys on..."

"Matt?"

"Yeah?"

"You can take your funking survey and stick it up your funking ace." (Family blog, remember).

"Okay, we will do that, sir."

I hear fading laughter before the click. It feels good to know that I've brightened someone's day, even if it does cost me the well-being of my ace.

I admire this next one for creativity:

Phone picks up.

"Hello, I'm Matt Karlsven from Harris Interactive, a national research firm. Today we're conducting surveys on marriage. What is your current marital status?"

"Hmmmm. What's YOUR current marital status?"

"Uhhh, I'm single."

"Then I'm single."

"Ummm. Okay. Is there anyone in your household who has been married in the past year?"

"Is there anyone in YOUR household who's been married in the past year?"

Wise to their scheme, I respond, "Uhhh....YES!"

"Then yes."

"Could I speak with them?"

"Could I speak with them?"

Crap. I've trapped myself. "Ummm, no."

"Then no."

Click.

Well played, I have to admit. Well played, indeed.

There have been so many calls of the same nature as these. They don't usually end well. But I can say this: If ever you get a call from a telephone surveyor or a telemarketer, you don't have to do what they want, but at least jerk around with them a little. It sucks just having people hang up on you.

C'mon, say something clever, make funny noises, yell an obscenity. It doesn't matter. It'll make their day more interesting. Or possibly be the call that pushes them over the edge and convinces them that their only option is to go down in a hail of gunfire. Either way, it'll make their day more interesting.

Harris, I'm gonna miss you.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

I'd like to integrate THAT!

So, yeah, I'm going for sterling scholar for the Math/Dance category. I have some pretty tough competition, so I decided to employ the help of the blogging community. Here's the essay I wrote for it. I'd appreciate any input anyone has to offer. Remember this was only supposed to be a page long, double-spaced, so don't bother critisizing my not incorporating the LEMUR or Descartes rules.

Why I Should Be Chosen as a Sterling Scholar

A Mathematical Approach

By Matt Karlsven

Why should I be chosen as a sterling scholar? That is a very forthright question to ask, and I must admit that it did catch me a little off guard. However, candor is one quality that I admire, so I will try my best to answer this question in this very concise yet thorough essay.

Through a very meticulous process, I have obtained the actual formula used to select sterling scholars. We will use the symbol SS to represent this formula. Therefore, an equation to represent this on a regular Euclidian coordinate plane would be f(X)=SS. X being the particular sterling scholar candidate. Note that although X does not appear in the SS formula, the extended notation of SS includes X. In other words, the method used to select a sterling scholar is largely dependent on the candidates considered for the award (at least I hope that’s the way it works).

To determine where I myself would fall in this formula, I decided to insert myself

into the equation. I’ll represent myself with the symbol M. Calculating the actual value of

f(M) would serve little purpose, seeing as this would prove nothing as to why I would be a

better choice than my opposition, and furthermore, it would be, as we say in the math world,

“pushing the limits of the metaphor.” This is why I decided to find the derivative of the

equation at X=M. This derivative turned out to be zero, or f ’(M)=0. This proves that I am

of either maximum or a minimum value when it comes to sterling scholar aptitude.

I can assure you that I am not of minimum value, but since most people, when told of this fact, insist that I prove it to them, I feel I must prove it to you too. This is done by using the second derivative test. I then found f ”(M) to be of negative value. If that’s not proof enough of why I should be sterling scholar, I don’t know what is. But if I had to state another reason, I’d say it would be my extreme devotion to the study and activity of mathematics, as well as the gaining of knowledge altogether.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Invisible Munsters

I'm headed to my new job. This is my third day. The people are nice, the work is easy, and they even gave me my own key. Life couldn't get any better. I'm about ten minutes late when I walk in. I get friendly greetings from everyone there. I'm probably the most aloof of all the employees. However, this doesn't seem to bother anyone, so things are cool.

I get started taking pictures of jackets from a big pile Kim got out for me. One by one I put the jackets on a male manikin and shoot them. Full shot, close up front, shoulder, back, inner lining, tag, and damage to the jacket if any. The manikin has no head, but I still feel uncomfortable putting my arms around it to tighten up the material on the inner lining shot. I know it's just a manikin that doesn't even have legs, but it's still weird. They won't even let me get near the female manikins. After I finish my pile of jackets, I contemplate the vast similarities between these manikins and real people as I reach in this manikin's hollow neck and grab it's metal spine to move it out of the way.

I go out and ask Kim what I should do next.

"In about a half hour we'll have a model here, and you need to shoot her wearing these jackets," he says, gesturing to a pile of thirty or so jackets.

Model?

This got me pretty nervous. I've never taken pictures of a model. Well, not with them knowing about it at least. Will I need to direct her? How can I tell her to do anything without sounding like I don't know what I'm talking about? Will I have to make chit-chat with her? And most importantly, how am I going to relate this experience to anyone without sounding like a pervert?

The model finally shows up. And no, it wasn't a guy. I realize now that it would've been really funny if it were a guy, but no where near worth it just for a laugh. Besides, modeling is no laughing matter. This blog is serious, guys.

Kim introduces us.

"Bambie, (I forget her real name, but I'm pretty sure it was from a Disney movie) this is your photographer," he says.

I look around in bewilderment, for it is just us three in the room. I look down and see a camera in my hands. Oh, he means me, I think. I give my usual greeting, which vaguely resembles one shooing away a fly near my shoulder as quick as I can. Or so I hear.

Bambie and I go into the picture-taking room. We get started. She puts on the first jacket. Full shot, close up front, shoulder, back, inner lining, and tag. After about 5 jackets finished in silence, I feel I need to be a bit more involved.

"Could you give me some anger on this one?" I ask.

Her face remains the same as it was before.

"Perfect," I say honestly.

She puts on the next jacket.

"Now, I think we need some jubilant indifference in this one," I say.

"Perfect."

Next jacket.

"Now, some repressed absolutism would work with this one."

"You're a natural."

Next jacket.

"Let's see. I think we need a little bit of sarcastic innnocence."

And it went on like this.

She put on the next jacket and I saw it. I had hoped this wouldn't happen. The shoot was going fine and then something like this had to show up and put the whole thing at risk.

The stain.

Well, it wasn't so much the stain itself, but the location of the stain. There was probably no worse place for a stain.

"Um, do you think you could brush that off?" I ask her, while vaguely pointing at the jacket, eyes never leaving the camera.

She tries brushing it off, but it's in there pretty good. She tries scratching it out, but that just lightens the material around the stain, thus making it only more evident.
This is going nowhere, and we need to get rid of that stain. It's time for me to be a man, to step up and solve the problem myself without any more of this immaturity.

I hand her a rag.

Eventually she got the stain cleaned off. The stain actually turned out to be a good thing after all. While she was cleaning it off, I was able to do a lot of the tinkering with the camera while looking really embarrased and uncomfortable that I had been wanting to do for so long.

I got done taking pictures of her after about 45 minutes. I don't know who got completely fed up with the situation first, me or her, but the overall feeling that it needed to end was mutual.

I load the pictures onto the computer thinking that things didn't go so bad after all. I mean, I got to take pictures of a real-life model. This could be a good blog, I think.

The pictures from the camera start to show up on the computer screen. I maximize the first picture. The second. The third.

Hmmm, I don't remember asking for confused, annoyed, OR terrified.