Spam on LinkedIn

It should come as no surprise that our modern day ability to communicate involves some communications that we might find disruptive. Spam is a reality. Generally, it’s not a big deal. It’s easy to spot and easy to ignore. Sometimes there’s enough of it that you want to do something about it.

Yesterday there was enough of it that I felt something had to be done.

Among my other completely normal LinkedIn messages I had 3-4 spam messages inviting me to pay for training that would lead to professional certifications. The messages are usually pretty formulaic. Here’s an example:

Hello How are you?

welcome to my LinkedIn Family 😊

would you like to go for PMP, Six Sigma, Scrum Master, CAPM, ACP ITIL Certifications? or any other Training and Certification?

I do try to treat spammers as though they’re real people. I want to take up their time (so they don’t go after those less gullible) but if I ever met the person on the street I don’t want them to have feelings of wanting to beat me up.

Most problems in a workplace are caused by miscommunication, so I’ve found it fun to intentionally miscommunicate with spammers. The other thing you have to do is help make it easy for them to spot that something isn’t right–like asking for a larger amount of money than normal. In the case above they were inviting me to attend training. I responded as if they were inviting me to teach training. I also claimed I would need more money than they probably budgeted for a guest speaker.

I’d be happy to assist with any of your classes (if it’ll work into my schedule).  I’d like to be up front.  I expect 2x the government per-diem rate in addition to my normal hourly fee. Please let me know locations, dates, and times you’d like me to assist and I’m sure we can try to work something out.

If they write back I can’t wait to tell them about my hourly fee and travel expectations. Normally I fly coach, but for these people I expect to fly first class.

What’s your best story of dealing with spam?

About Time

This is a sleeping teenager tired from 2-a-day practices of wrestling and football as he prepares to enter high school. At the end of the practices he’s tired and crashed. The dog politely joined him.

The mother took a photo. Football/wrestling morning practice is wearing him out. She said.

Grandpa responded: About time someone got their food money out of him.

Well played, grandpa. Well played.

preparing for our robot overlords

One of the jokes that often emerges in technical circles is that we humans are the biological boot loader for some superior robotic race that will come after us. Usually the joke is followed by an awkward chuckle.

Recently I got an iWatch and now I’m beginning to think that the whole thing might be a legitimate concern. This is the first device I’ve had that told me to breathe.

Awkward chuckle.

I turned off the app.

Take that future robot overlords.

Apocalypse averted. You’re welcome. Feel free to send me bitcoin.

Best Patent Ever

I have at times found myself reading patents for various reasons. In the last 24 hours I’ve come across the best patent ever. I’m so glad I blog so I can share this with you guys.

US Patent 5443036A is a remarkably brilliant bit of documentation. It’s short and easy for a layman to read (a requirement for a good patent in my mind). What’s even more interesting is that you’ve probably violated this patent, but the patent holders never bothered to sue. Hence, another requirement of a good patent is the lack of destructive enforcement. The owners clearly aren’t patent trolls.

The title of the patent is officially “Method of exercising a cat.” Many of us have had experiences where it felt like we were herding cats, but this one deals with the proper method of exercising the feline breeds.

The abstract reads:

A method for inducing cats to exercise consists of directing a beam of invisible light produced by a hand-held laser apparatus onto the floor or wall or other opaque surface in the vicinity of the cat, then moving the laser so as to cause the bright pattern of light to move in an irregular way fascinating to cats, and to any other animal with a chase instinct.

While the patent was originally filed in 1991 there seems to be some issue at the moment with its licensing fee. So I don’t believe it’s wise to create your own devices to do this yet as it may still be in violation of the law.

Variations on this idea include a Pet Entertainment Device which was awarded a patent in 2006, and a Light Projecting Pet Toy awarded a patent in 2009. These later devices are significantly more complex. Sometimes it’s nice to just keep it simple like original Method of Exercising a Cat.

Is Anyone Reading This?

One of the things I do is take notes for meetings at work. Thanks to learning how to type when I was a young age (love you mom!) I’m reasonably good at this part of the job. After the meeting I’ll send the notes out to the team.

We’ve been so busy recently I wondered if people were actually getting to the end of my notes and reading them. So, yesterday I included the following:

I had Wheaties this morning.  It’s the breakfast of champions and this project deserves champion level effort.  

Within just a few minutes, one of the team members wrote me back to let me know that she appreciates my dedication to the project as expressed by adjusting my eating habits.

What a simple thing to a say, and what wonderful emotions came from reading it!

There actually is a greater lesson in this!

Photo by bruce mars on

One way to set up a collaborative conversation (one where both parties feel they walked away better than when they started) is to think of each opportunity to speak as a vessel that needs to be filled with the other’s thoughts.

While done humorously in my situation, that’s essentially what I was doing for this brief conversation at the end of my notes.

Recently I posted about the need for collaboration not confrontation, but knowing a few snippets on how to set up a collaborative conversation can be helpful. It’s not about you hitting the home run comment. It’s about you setting up the other person to contribute.

Oh, and I got the answer I was looking for. Someone was reading!

Unicorn Meat

Still have some Christmas money laying around?  Or, now that the IRS has been ordered to get back to work you’re looking forward to a refund.  Either way, you’r probably going to have a few bucks to burn.  Why not buy Unicorn Meat?

No foolin’ – unicorn meat is real! Excellent source of sparkles! Unicorns, as we all know, frolic all over the world, pooping rainbows and marshmallows wherever they go. What you don’t know is that when unicorns reach the end of their lifespan, they are drawn to County Meath, Ireland. The Sisters at Radiant Farms have dedicated their lives to nursing these elegant creatures through their final days. Taking a cue from the Kobe beef industry, they massage each unicorn’s coat with Guinness daily and fatten them on a diet comprised entirely of candy corn. As the unicorn ages, its meat becomes fatty and marbled and the living bone in the horn loses density in a process much like osteoporosis. The horn’s outer layer of keratin begins to develop a flavor very similar to candied almonds. Blending the crushed unicorn horn into the meat adds delightful, crispy flavor notes in each bite. We are confident you will find a world of bewilderment in every mouthful of scrumptious unicorn meat. Unfortunately, due to restrictions on the importation of mythical processed meatstuff, we are unable to bring you Canned Unicorn Meat in the way the Sisters of Radiant Farms intended. When you open your can, you will find one tiny unicorn which has been appropriately sliced into its main cuts of meat. Simply use your Growth Ray to re-embiggen the unicorn before skinning it and processing its flesh. Or if you’re lazy, just bring it to your local Mad Scientist-Butcher. He’ll know what to do.

What’s interesting is that when you look at the posting on Amazon, the site changes to recommend other toys including STEM toys and age appropriate toys. Shouldn’t they have their grocery suggestions instead?

I think products like this are tremendously important to the economy. They add significant value to the market. One way they do this is by encouraging wonderful comments and reviews. Here’s a doosey by Star Trek’s George Takei.

When my shipment of unicorn meat from RADIANT FARMS finally arrived, I prepared the fragrant pate as a maki roll, wrapped in seaweed and spread over some sushi rice, with a little unagi sauce on top. This had been a staple during WWII when spam was standard issue in Hawaii, and it was how my cousins used to prepare it. Ah, the memories. I even had a half carafe of cold, unfiltered sake to pair with it.

Unfortunately, I found this unicorn meat brand to be quite similar to spam, both in texture and blandness. I’d been hoping for that zestier kick that comes from the rump cuts of other mythical and fantastical creatures, such as griffins or centaurs (for the latter, serve only the back half of the creature with guests, or it gets awkward).

Apparently, as Dateline recently reported, “farmed” unicorns are force-fed mostly genetically modified grains, rather than their natural diet of skittles and ecstasy pills. California in fact is ready to ban the practice and sale of such meat by referendum. Moreover, certain European countries were caught mixing in regular horse meat (yes, disgusting) so you never really know how pure the unicorn is.

I say stick with fresh. I highly recommend TOM RIDDLE brand unicorn steaks, which arrive still oozing restorative blood. Ground into patties, they make a great burger.

I know one friend who bought this but haven’t been able to tell if her life is any more magical than it already was—that would have been a pretty tall order.

Imagine if Voldemort had just used Amazon? How would the Harry Potter books have been different?

I think I’ll leave you with this review:

Turns out this is a toy in pieces and you put it together. I thought i could eat it but, no dice… gets stuck in your throat because it is dry fabric and not really meat at all! I thought it was dehydrated as Unicorns haven’t been around for like at least 30 years i think but, it was still dry. Kind of a bummer cos I love eating wild and exotic game meats like panda, lightly clubbed baby seal, tuna free bottle nose dolphin meat, blue whale, monkey, manatee, baby polar bear, and of course condor. Twas really hoping to add unicorn to the list but, oh well. I ordered a sack of Loch Ness neck fat to my cart and hope it ships soon to make up for this.