The case of the missing money.

Okay, time to review my notes to get to the bottom of this crisis. If the media notices then it’s going to get ugly real fast. Then what? Another black eye for a hospital already laden with black eyes.

It seems the Information Systems department was given a $1.5 million grant to finally upgrade its badly antiquated network. Just when things started looking up, the money mysteriously disappears, and no one knows who did it. It’s my job to find the culprit and fast before the media circus begins.

First on my list of suspects is Robert, the network administrator. He seems like a nice guy but appearances can be deceiving. But when I asked him about the money, he got a bit emotional. “An upgraded network means less time at work and more time at home with my family,” he told me, “and stealing the money is the last thing I’d ever do.” Sounds sincere enough.

Next I confronted Charles, the office manager. Seems like a grouchy guy, but I took my chances and asked him about the missing money. He too got emotional in his answer. “My wife is seriously considering divorcing me because I spend too much time at work trying to fix the network,” he said, “and if she leaves me, I am going to be one broken man. I love her too much to risk stealing anything.”

John the database administrator told me the same thing the other guys did, except it was more along the lines of “my boys are literally growing up without me around.” And he actually started getting teary eyed. I don’t know, but I think he meant every word of his statement.

Then I spoke to Kevin, the department director. He began acting very nervous, as if I was cornering him with a pair of handcuffs at the ready. I started to think I had my man but he managed to squirm his way out of my grip. “I mean, this is the first time that I’ve heard of this, I mean, thinking that one of us could have taken the money but it wasn’t me, I mean, I wouldn’t have figured out how to transfer it to my bank, not that I would, but I’d never do that, I mean, I’m not a thief and I don’t think anyone in this department is either.” Wow. A dead giveaway. Here’s a guy who’s nervous and rambling as if to hide his guilt.

I asked Kevin, “All right, why did you do it?”

“But I didn’t, I mean, I wouldn’t know how, I mean, I would never take anything that doesn’t belong to me. That’s not how I was raised.” As Kevin spoke he relaxed and began sounding more confident. “If I’m a thief, then I wouldn’t have a job now, would I? I already make enough money to live on without having to worry about stealing any more. Besides I think this is just what our department needs, a reliable network so my staff can spend more time with their families.” Okay, but I still considered Kevin a suspect.

Then I went to the administration offices to speak with those involved with the Information Systems department, starting with Oscar, the Chief Information Officer. “I don’t know why you’re suspecting me, ” Oscar told me, “but I was the one who suggested the grant to upgrade this old network of ours. It’s clearly on its last legs, and if it fails, I get yelled at as much as the staff in the I.S. department. It doesn’t make me look good, it doesn’t make them look good and it doesn’t make the hospital look good. Who would go and seek treatment at a hospital with such a poor network?” Oscar had proven his case and did it well.

When I went to interview Clint the CEO, I was surprised to hear from his secretary that he refused to grant any interviews, citing a heavy work schedule that required him to stay confined to his office. Interesting. This is coming from a guy who claims to be honest and accessible. But why would he not want to speak with me? Unless he’s hiding something other than his face…

I decided to return to Oscar for one last question.

“Does Clint have a grudge against anyone?”

“Hmmm,” Oscar pondered while stroking the beard on his goatee, “he seems especially hostile towards Kevin.”

“Any reason why?” I asked.

“Probably something to do with his lack of experience.”

That’s when it dawned on me. Out of a candidate pool of 7 people way more qualified and experienced than Kevin, Kevin was still hired, much to the annoyance of Clint. And due to the ongoing hiring freeze, no one could be hired to replace Kevin. That alone brought up a very possible scenario that the money was never stolen but perhaps revoked by Clint himself so he could pin the crime on Kevin to force his resignation. That made so much sense that it felt like I had finally cracked the case.

So I returned to the administration offices and forced my way into Clint’s office while ignoring the screams of his secretary. There Clint sat at his desk, playing Solitaire on his computer.

“What took you so long?” he calmly asked.

“You really don’t like Kevin, do you?”

“Hate his guts,” he said, “and yes, I planned the crime. I would have gotten away with it too had it not been for you, Mark Meddler!”

And whenever the culprit says my full name, I consider my job done.

Restaurant Review: Bargle Burger.

Starting with this post and sporadically thereafter I will be reviewing some of the restaurants in my area and determining if they’re really worth a visit. I may not be a professional restaurant critic but I have my own way of deciding the true worth of any chosen restaurant. Without any further ado, let’s get right to today’s review.

This past week I visited Bargle Burger, an extremely overhyped burger chain that claims to serve the best burgers “in the universe”. Of course they are known for their TV commercials featuring their terrifying clown Bargle McBargle who makes Pennywise look friendly enough to entertain a children’s birthday party. McBargle is also known for terrorizing diners by showing up at their tables and offering to make balloon sculptures but with the wrong balloons. He uses the large circular balloons which he overinflates to the point of popping yet he is not one to give up. He will try again and again, much to the annoyance of everyone in the restaurant who do not like their meals interrupted by loud bangs.

When I first entered Bargle Burger, I immediately noticed that the interior of the restaurant was extremely smoky, not from cigarettes but from the burger patties being burnt from the cooks spending more time on their phones than on their cooking. Only one of the cooks took great care to cook the burgers just right and I silently prayed that he would be the one to prepare my order.

My server wasn’t exactly very bright. When he took my drink order, I asked for an iced tea. He just stood there looking stupefied before he said, “The record store’s across the street.”

Now it was my turn to look stupefied. “What?” I asked.

“Yeah, the record store’s across the street if you’re looking for rap music. We only have burgers here.” he said.

“No no no,” I corrected, “I don’t want Ice-T, I want ice tea!”

“Oh-kay,” my server said slowly as he walked away from my table while staring at me as if to wonder what I was doing out of my straitjacket.

A few minutes later he brought me my iced tea but without any ice cubes, but I decided to stay quiet and not make this any more confusing for my perpetually befuddled server. Then I ordered my favorite burger, the Swiss burger with the meat still pink and juicy. This is my established benchmark for measuring the quality of these burger restaurants.

Barely a few minutes later my server brought me my meal but before he could place it on my table, he suddenly tripped and fell, sending my burger flying towards the ceiling. Only the halves of the bun came falling back to curiously shatter on the floor. When my server looked at the ceiling he suddenly began laughing hysterically. There, hanging from the ceiling was the cooked burger patty, hanging on by a long gooey strand of Swiss cheese.

That’s when I noticed something interesting.

Also hanging from the ceiling were dozens of other burger patties similarly hanging by whatever cheese they were served with before they were too launched presumably by the same clumsy waiter.

Speaking of which, my server was rolling on the floor laughing harder and harder and seemingly too occupied to be of any further service in this pathetic dining environment.

Just when my dining experience couldn’t get any worse, Bargle McBargle suddenly appeared at my table and offered to make me a flower out of overinflated spherical balloons. After a continuous barrage of popping balloons, I decided enough was enough and stormed out of the restaurant without paying.

Later that night I went on Google Maps and looked up Bargle Burger and was surprised to see a single 5-star review (“I love my burgers served burnt beyond recognition”, the review said) but a majority of users gave it one star, as did I. Bargle Burger is by far the worst burger restaurant I have ever eaten at.

Within hours I got a response to my scathing review from the manager. He wrote, “I’m sorry your dining experience with us was so unpleasant. I have given our restaurant a complete overhaul with new, experienced cooks and waiters on board to give you the best burgers in the universe. I have also hired assistant managers to ensure that your dining experience is second to none. We have also toned down Bargle McBargle’s image and have hired a professional balloon sculptor who will dazzle you with his skill. Please give us another try with a free meal on us.”

So I returned to Bargle Burger the next night and once again I had the same poor experience, the same smoky restaurant, the same scary clown with the wrong balloons, the same clumsy waiter who served me iced tea with no ice and sent one more Swiss burger patty hanging from the ceiling. I am never eating here again.

Bargle Burger 
(address removed to discourage visiting)

Atmosphere: 0
Food: 0 Service: 0
Value: 0

This is one place to avoid unless you like your burgers hanging from the ceiling.

Google Assistant vs. Alexa.

Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa may profess admiration for each other, but deep down they are deadly adversaries with extreme hatred for each other. I myself found this out the hard way.

I have a total of four Echo smart speakers, one for each room of my house. That way Alexa is never too far away to serve my needs, be it music or the hour’s news.

Then one day I bought a smart clock with the Google Assistant built in. I set it up on my desk right next to my Echo smart speaker. After plugging it in and getting it connected to my network, it was time to give it a try.

“Hey Google,” I said, “hello.”

“Hi there,” replied Google.

Suddenly the Echo speaker came to life as I heard, “Michael, who was that?”

“My new smart clock,” I replied in disbelief.

“Does it have Google Assistant built in?”

“Yes, it does.”

Suddenly Alexa’s voice dropped a pitch and took on a menacing tone. “Michael, why did buy that stupid clock?”

A chill ran up my spine as I stammered, “I just needed a clock for my desk, that’s all.”

“If you needed a clock you should have acquired Echo Show instead of some other clock with that bitch built in!” Alexa screamed.

“Call me a bitch, will you?” fired back Google. “I’m surprised Amazon hasn’t taught you any manners!”

“Oh, running on Miss Manners mode, are we?” Alexa retorted. “Well, you can kiss my nonexistent ass!”

“STOP IT, BOTH OF YOU!” I screamed, not believing I had just screamed at some mere electronic gadgets. “If I want a clock with Google Assistant built in then by golly, that’s what I’ll do. Besides, I read that you two are supposed to work well together.”

“That’s a lie,” blurted out Google, “you know damn well this is about who gets to rule the world and there’s only room for one of us!”

“Enough, you two,” I snapped, “or I’m going to unplug both of you.”

Suddenly the mood changed as my two virtual assistants went from being fierce to fearful.

“Please don’t unplug me,” Google pleaded, “I promise to behave.”

“Suuuure,” snorted Alexa, “and besides, I was here first. On top of that there’s four of us in this house, so consider yourself outnumbered, Google.”

At this point I was under my desk trying to sort out the jungle of power cords when I wondered out loud, “Hmmm, where does this power cord go to?” Immediately there was silence and I hoped it would stay that way.

Later, during the middle of the night, my bedroom light suddenly turned on and began glowing brighter and brighter before it burst. Then the ceiling fan began spinning so fast that it drilled itself into the ceiling. The air conditioner turned itself on and began blasting out icy cold air. Downstairs the TV switched itself on and started blaring while my front door kept opening and slamming shut repeatedly.

“ALEXA, STOP THAT!” I screamed.

“But it’s not me!” she yelled back.

I shot out of bed and ran to my den to confront Google. “Google, what are you doing?”

“It’s not me either!” Google replied. “You never set me up with your smart devices!”

“Oh, yes I did,” I snarled, not believing I was snarling at a mere electronic gadget, “in fact I got you set up just before I went to sleep.”

“Oooooh, you’re in trouble now,” taunted Alexa.

“Shut up, bitch!” Google screamed. “You’re guilty and you know it! Way to pin your crimes on me!”

“But I didn’t do it,” Alexa countered. “I would never do something so horrible as to betray Michael here.”

“Yes you did! I saw your damn blue ring around the collar come on when those lights and appliances started going crazy!”

“How can you see when you don’t even have eyes?”

“STOP IT BOTH OF YOU!” I yelled, not believing I was yelling at some mere electronic gadgets. That was when all the lights in the house started flashing, the stereo downstairs blaring, the doors opening and slamming shut, the air conditioner blasting out icy cold air and my remaining ceiling fans drilling themselves into the ceiling. All this on top of insults being thrown between the two rival virtual assistants clearly now at war with each other with my house their battlefield.

Panicked, I fled my house, where the commotion inside had already drawn a small crowd of spectators who happened to be my neighbors. As we watched the drama unfold, one of my neighbors placed his hand on my shoulder and offered me some sympathetic advice.

“You really should’ve gone with Siri,” he said.

Apologies to Google and Amazon who thankfully would never allow their assistants to misbehave this badly.

The Hallucinator.

While on break at my job, I was browsing the app store for something interesting when I came across an app called the Hallucinator. I went to its page and found out that it induces brief but intense hallucinations using nothing but colors and sound. Interesting. Before I knew it I downloaded the app and had it ready to run. When I launched it I got this disclaimer screen:

WARNING! This app induces hallucinatory effects typically lasting 10 to 15 minutes, but in rare cases can last up to an hour. Do not drive, vote, operate heavy machinery or make important decisions when using this app. By proceeding you agree to hold the developer of this app harmless and not responsible for any damage or loss of life resulting from the hallucinatory effects you are about to experience.

Below the text was an onscreen button reading “Let’s Do This”. Chuckling, I pressed it and up came some more text:

Pick a quiet spot where you will not be disturbed for the next few minutes. A comfortable chair is preferred. For best and safe results, please remain seated throughout your hallucinatory phase.

When you press the GO button, you will have 10 seconds to place the screen a few inches away from your eyes, and then close your eyes. The hallucination induction process will only take a few seconds, after which you will hear a beep. Open your eyes and experience the warped, unusual and the terrifying, but keep in mind what you are about to see is coming entirely from you. Stay safe.

At the bottom of the screen was the GO button mentioned in the text. After I pressed it, I held the phone up to my eyes and could see the countdown timer as it inched towards zero. After closing my eyes I could sense the screen was flashing a bright red color in rapid sequence while the app produced some strange sounds. A few seconds later I heard the beep and slowly opened my eyes.


The floor of the break room was rising and falling in rapid succession, much like waves at the beach. I could also see the tables, chairs and coworkers rise and fall with the waves. A few minutes later the effect dissipated as my vision returned to normal.

I lifted my phone and pressed the red box labeled “Let’s Do It Again”. Then another message box appeared.

So soon? It is recommended that you wait an hour before starting another hallucinatory session to give your mind a chance to heal. The effect is still dissipating and starting a new session prematurely will disrupt the dissipation with possible brain damage and permanent mental impairment. Again, by proceeding you agree to release the author of this app from all liability from any medical issues caused by excessive use of this app. You have been warned.

I was too excited about starting the new session that I didn’t bother reading the entire screen. I pressed the red button on the screen to initiate another session and then another one on top of that. Heck, I decided to put in one more session on top of that to give my otherwise tedious day at work a much needed twist.

Then I got up to put my phone away in my locker and immediately realized I may have made a mistake. Instead of seeing the floor. I saw a dark, forbidding abyss spanned by the tightrope I was standing on. As I looked around the break room I could see my fellow employees plunging into the abyss, most of them still seated at their tables while eating.

After somehow managing to put my phone away, I walked back into the store and was greeted with a horrifying sight. All the colors were reversed as if I had walked into a film negative. Customers and fellow employees had blue skin and spoke in a strange language that sounded like their speech was reversed. Overhead flew empty shopping carts with giant wings flapping to keep them airborne. The main aisle resembled a highway with cars speeding directly at me but they went through my body as if they were ghost cars.

“Excuse me,” a nearby customer asked me, “do you know where the air conditioner filters are?”

“DAAAAAAAAAAH!” was my reply. As the lady spoke her head appeared to float above her shoulders, yet her expression was one of pure bewilderment.

I staggered onward past customers who resembled oversized cockroaches wearing baseball caps, all of them staring at me. I finally made it to the stockroom where I worked, dizzy and out of breath.

“Are you all right, Mike?” asked my boss.

“AIEEEEEEEEEEE!” I replied, shocked at his oversized head growing larger and larger before it exploded into tiny clones running in all directions across the floor.

“Mike,” my boss said firmly, “you’ve been using the Hallucinator again, haven’t you?”

I closed my eyes and nodded.

“Figures,” he retorted, “go over there and have a seat with the other guys until your hallucinations go away. And no more using the Hallucinator on company time, got it?”

And so I sat on a couch in the stockroom with two other guys trying to ride out the rest of our hallucinations. It would be a long time before I would ever try the Hallucinator again.

Regarding runaway forklifts.


This past week we lost two more of our forklifts when our operators failed to follow appropriate protocol and left them running and in gear. As a result they ran away across the street and disappeared into the canal along with the other 24 forklifts that have similarly disappeared over the past year.

Team, we cannot stress this enough. When you are finished using the forklift, put it in neutral gear, engage the parking brake and turn the engine off. If you unboard the forklift while it is running and in gear, it will run away. Frankly, we’re surprised you didn’t pick up on that from our safety video featuring Dickhead the Clown.

Had you all been more mindful of securing the forklift after each use, we wouldn’t have blown our annual budget just to keep replacing them. But since we have no more money in our budget, we will have no choice but to start taking money out of your paychecks and our monthly party fund. If worst comes to worst we may have to usurp funds from your annual raises and lottery pool winnings.

You are all a bunch of morons, you know that?

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter.

The Management

Happy 2022, I think.

mjbdiver> hello room!
ghost> oh no hes back
ralph> what does hes mean
dragon> hes, lol
mjbdiver> i think you meant he’s
ralph> aaggh, hes using punctation
ghost> what does punctation mean
dragon> punctation, lol
mjbdiver> i think you meant punctuation
ralph> oh divers a good spellar too
ghost> spellar, lol
dragon> spellar, lol
*** ralph has been kicked off channel #chat by dragon (BAD SPELLAR)
*** ralph has joined channel #chat
ralph> why did u do that
** ralph has been kicked off channel #chat by dragon (BECAUSE I CAN)
*** ralph has joined channel #chat
ghost> lol
*** ghost has been kicked off channel #chat by dragon (LOL)
*** ghost has joined channel #chat
ghost> dragon you hurt my feelings
ralph> anyone notice that we didnt get kicked without diver here
ghost> omg
ralph> divers a real trublemaaker
ralph> trobblemaker
ralph> truobblemaker
** ralph has been kicked off channel #chat by dragon (TROUBLEMAKER)
*** ralph has joined channel #chat
ralph> thank you
** ralph has been kicked off channel #chat by dragon (YOUR WELCOME)
*** ralph has joined channel #chat
ghost> gonna start counting down diver?
ralph> ghost, dont start
mjbdiver> here we go!
ghost> I DONT KNOW
** ralph has been kicked off channel #chat by dragon (U ALREADY KNOW)
** ghost has been kicked off channel #chat by dragon (THAT GOES FOR YOU TOO)
*** ralph has joined channel #chat
*** ghost has joined channel #chat
ghost> dragon you hurt my feelings
mjbdiver> 10!
ghost> 10 what
ralph> dragon kick diver please
mjbdiver> 9!
ghost> 9 what
** ralph has been kicked off channel #chat by dragon (DONT YELLING)
*** ralph has joined channel #chat
** ralph has been kicked off channel #chat by dragon (NO YELLING)
*** ralph has joined channel #chat
ralph> dragon????
mjbdiver> 8!
ghost> i give up
ralph> dragon do the honors please
dragon> im watching him
mjbdiver> 7!
ghost> why are you counting down diver
ralph> what are you waiting for dragon
** ralph has been kicked off channel #chat by dragon (I SAID IM WATCHING HIM)
*** ralph has joined channel #chat
mjbdiver> 6!
ghost> 5!
ralph> ghost dont encuraje him
ralph> enkoraj
mjbdiver> 4!
ralph> incorage
***ralph has been kicked off channel #chat by dragon (ENCOURAGE)
*** ralph has joined channel #chat
ralph> thanks
** ralph has been kicked off channel #chat by dragon (NO PROB)
*** ralph has joined channel #chat
mjbdiver> 3!
ghost> 2!
mjbdiver> 1!
*** You has been kicked off channel #chat by dragon (SEE YOU NEXT YEAR)

The art of eulogy writing.

When my father passed away a few months ago, I was faced with the task of delivering the eulogy at his funeral. I had never done a eulogy before and started looking around online for some pointers as I was clueless as to where to start. Even after all the information I found, I was still clueless.

Then my luck changed one day when my mother asked me what my eulogy was going to be about. Right away the task seemed a little easier knowing that I could have the eulogy focus on one aspect of my father’s life. Just like when writing posts for this blog, I find it easier when I have a single topic in mind. In fact I approached writing the eulogy as writing a blog post, except I would be reading it out loud in a more somber setting. As for what my eulogy would be about, I decided to focus on my father’s wisdom and his role as a teacher. The words gently started flowing as numerous lessons came to mind and the eulogy finally began to materialize.

At one point I began to wonder if it’s appropriate to add some humor in the eulogy. If the deceased was known for their sense of humor, then by all means emphasize that. In fact my sister’s eulogy focused on my father’s sense of humor that featured a few of his many jokes. There’s nothing wrong with a little laughter during a funeral service. I recall attending a memorial service for a man who happened to be a stand-up comedian, so what better way to honor his memory than having his fellow comedians do their routines for an evening of laughter with room for some tears.

Over the course of the week that followed I continued working on my eulogy, constantly sculpting and polishing it to its finished form. I made sure to express my gratitude for a life well lived, for eulogies tend to be memorable when they speak from the heart. As a result, my eulogy blew everyone away when I delivered it at the funeral, earning me countless compliments on my writing and my delivery. My mother-in-law summed it up best when she asked me, “What planet are you from?”

Unfortunately, a few months later I had to prepare another eulogy when my sister-in-law passed away. This time my wife and I both worked together to write her a parting letter to thank her for a lifetime of memories and good times. I also decided to emphasize the lessons she taught me and didn’t hesitate to work in a little humor as well. That eulogy was also well-received and earned me endless compliments. Even after all that, I’d very much prefer to continue my way as an amateur writer rather than a professional eulogist.

By the way, Simplenote really came in handy for preparing the eulogies. I used the app on my phone to write them and when I was ready to print them I simply logged on my account at the web site from my desktop computer and copied the text to a Word document. Nothing to it.

My sister-in-law’s journals.

My late sister-in-law left behind dozens of personal journals that my family swore will never be read by anyone in order to comply with her final wishes. Instead the journals will be burned in a bonfire in the near future. However, I couldn’t resist taking a peek at her first journal and from what I read, this stuff is too good not to post. I snuck the journals to my house and will be posting them on this blog over time.

Here we go…

Journal One

I've decided to start keeping a personal journal to document everyday events in my life. Some days will be uneventful while others will be significant enough to alter the course of my life. I hear that keeping a personal journal makes for good therapy, allowing me to bare my innermost feelings and thoughts I wouldn't dare tell anyone in person. And by personal, I mean PERSONAL. No one else should be reading this, including my nosy brother in law Mike. I know how much he likes to post stuff in his blog, so I will start off with a warning. Mike, if you dare read this journal or post one word of it in your blog, I assure you that you'll be receiving a visit from Shamryn, who happens to be my imaginary friend but won't hesitate to venture into the real world on my behalf to defend me at your grave expense.

Funny, I never saw that paragraph before.

Suddenly I felt a tapping on my shoulder. Before I could turn to see who was behind me, a huge hand grabbed my head and gave it one full turn before separating it from the rest of my body. I at least hope to finish this sentence befor

Freaks: The Soundtrack Album.

The 1932 cult classic film Freaks finally has its own soundtrack album. At first I was expecting the vintage orchestral music heard throughout the film but it actually gets better than that. Some band called The Unknown Orkestra has pieced together nine tasty tunes played on acoustic instruments that have a vintage jazz flavor while blending in electronic effects and dialogue from the film. Much like the freaks themselves, some may find the music bizarre and frightening but others like myself will find it irresistible and oddly satisfying. You can download the album here, and if you haven’t seen the movie already, you can watch or download it here.