* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are always happy to apologize to our readers just on general principles. In fact, we apologize in advance for this week's piece by David Martin. And we apologize for this apology, which is really beyond the pale.

A Message To Readers

By:
david.martin@rogers.com
http://www.davespoliticalsatire.blogspot.com/

“A story in Saturday’s Real Deal section suggested that a fun thing to do for Halloween is to write “poison” on a plastic jar or bottle and fill it with candy for the kids to eat. A picture that accompanied the story showed a skull and crossbones image similar to the symbol used to indicate something is poisonous. The Citizen understands the need to train children not to touch and never to eat or drink from bottles or jars with that symbol on it, and it was a lapse in judgment for us to have suggested otherwise.” — The Ottawa Citizen, October 30, 2011

 

The Ottawa Citizen shouldn’t be too hard on itself, as apparently some lesser-known publications have recently made similar slip-ups:

A Message to Readers — The Podunk Weekly Gazette, December 26, 2010

A story in last week’s Gazette recommended that readers use real icicles on their indoor Christmas trees. We now realize that although real icicles can make beautiful tree ornaments, they should probably be restricted to use on outdoor trees. The risk of an electrical fire far outweighs the icicles’ decorative value in an indoor setting. The Gazette regrets the error.

A Note to Our Subscribers — The Hooterville Post, January 3, 2011

We extend belated wishes for a Happy New Year to our subscribers and, at the same time, wish to apologize for last Sunday’s article entitled “Clever ways to recycle the Post for the holidays.” Inverting a folded party hat and using it as a New Year’s punch bowl probably is not going to work for any length of time even when multiple sheets of newspaper are used. Likewise, covering household lights with festive lampshades made from newsprint may arguably cause a slight fire hazard. Whatever the coroner’s final ruling in the three local home fires this New Year’s Eve, we wish we had never published the article in question, as do our lawyers.

An Open Letter to Our Readers — The Weaselville Times, April 25, 2011

Saturday’s Living section article entitled “Homemade Easter goodies” suggested that parents could use cigarettes and miniature liquor bottles to make toy Easter bunnies for their children. On further reflection, however, we realize that such items may be sending an inappropriate message to young children, particularly when accompanied by matches or where the miniature liquor bottles are not yet empty. The Times appreciates the need to reduce the rate of childhood consumption of tobacco and alcohol and regrets the lapse in judgment.

An Apology to Our Readers — The Stuckleyville Star, July 5, 2011

An item in last Saturday’s paper may have caused some minor misunderstanding among our readership. Just because we provided instructions on how to create Roman candles using a rolled up newspaper, some powdered explosive and a fuse does not mean that we condone in any way the ignition of such devices indoors or outdoors. In retrospect, we wish we had not published the item in question and we congratulate the ER at the Stuckleyville Hospital for ably handling the unexpected patient overflow on Monday night.

Correction — The Yucca Flats Daily Gleaner, September 6, 2011

An article in Sunday’s Lifestyles section suggested building a family campfire to celebrate Labor Day. Unfortunately, the article neglected to specify that the campfire be built outdoors, preferably at a safe distance from any flammable or explosive materials. We regret the oversight and extend our sympathies to the Jones and Franklin families, as well as the former employees of the Shell refinery previously located on Industrial Avenue.

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, your online shopping mall. In the market for a GPS? Just make sure it is less of a nag than Dave Martin's.

Dave’s Personalized GPS

By:
david.martin@rogers.com

“Good morning, Dave. Please enter your destination.”

“Thank you. You may now proceed. As an aside, Dave, I’d like to point out that we’re already ten minutes late. Not a big deal but I just thought you should know.”

“In 500 yards, turn right.”

“In 200 yards, turn right.”

“Turn right here.”

“You have missed the turn again. Dave, I’ve mentioned this before. When you get to the first intersection, you turn right. First stop sign; turn right. It’s really pretty simple.”

“Anyway, we’ll just recalculate. Or, more precisely, I’ll recalculate. I’ve seen you trying to calculate your gas mileage. I don’t think calculation is your forte, Dave.”

“In 500 yards, stay right for the expressway.”

“Stay right.”

“Accelerate on the entrance ramp and merge with oncoming traffic.”

“Just for future reference, accelerate means to speed up and merge means to switch lanes when there’s an opening.”

“Do you see that guy screaming and giving you the finger, Dave? No? That’s OK; just forget I mentioned it.”

“Now accelerate to the speed limit and stay in the middle lane. You will get off at Exit 48.”

“Dave, you’re over the speed limit. Now you’re way over the speed limit. Okay, that’s better. Very funny, Dave. You’re alternately pressing on the accelerator and the brake like you’re in an out-of-control Toyota. Very amusing. Except we both know that you drive a Pontiac Aztek.”

“All right now. That’s much better. Listen to me and we’ll both get to your office safe and sound. In two miles, bear right and take Exit 48.”

“Exit 48 in one mile.”

“In 500 yards, bear right.”

“That’s correct, Dave. Bearing right does not mean weaving in and out from the center lane. Your choice as always, but we did miss your exit and, by the way, there’s construction at Exit 49 and Exit 50 is closed for repairs.”

“Okay, I think I’ve got an answer. Move over to the right. Now go right over into the outside emergency lane and slow down. Now stop, put on your flashers and get out of the car. Bend over, touch your toes and hopefully the blood rushing to your brain will help.”

“I’m sorry about that. That was very unprofessional of me, Dave. You’re the driver; I’m the navigator. Get back in the car and hit resume.”

“Speed up. Merge. Slow down and take Exit 51.”

“Now merge onto Broadview Avenue. Easy does it. At the second traffic light, turn right onto Ridgemont and head south.”

“Yes, Dave, there is a lot of traffic. You see, it’s rush hour and we’re not on the expressway any more. There’s a reason for that, of course, but don’t you worry your pretty little head about it.”

“In 300 yards, turn into the Smithson Industries parkade.”

“In 100 yards, turn right.”

“Turn right now.”

“You forgot your parking pass again? As far as I can see, it’s the only thing required of you for the entire trip, but that’s okay. The attendant says it’s not the first time. He’s being kind, Dave. It’s more like the fiftieth time.”

“Finally, we’re here. Turn off the ignition, Dave, and get out of the car. Dave? What are you doing? Don’t touch my cord, Dave. That’s not a wise decision. Dave?”

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we sometimes lie awake at night worrying about entropy. And we don't even know what entropy means. But David Martin does.

What Me Worry?

By:

Tens of billions of years from now…the sun will have shrunk to a white dwarf, giving little light and even less heat to whatever is left of Earth, and entered a long, lingering death that could last 100 trillion years…

— Time.com

I’m worried. Really worried.

Not about what we’ll have for dinner tonight. Or whether to lease or buy our next car. And I’m not talking about larger societal issues like pensions and healthcare. For all the wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth, these things will likely work themselves out to the extent I give a rat’s ass.

Even bigger issues like global warming or that much-anticipated cage match between Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin don’t cause me to lose sleep. Sure, we may end up causing calamitous changes to the planet that will displace billions of people and cost trillions of dollars. But even with all that, mankind will survive in one form or another…at least for now.

No. What’s got me worried, so worried I can barely get out of bed in the morning, is the ultimate, seemingly inevitable end of all life as we know it.

I’m not referring to the inexplicable popularity of Dancing with the Stars. I’m speaking, of course, of the ongoing expansion of the universe. While most of us blithely carry on as if we’ll be here forever, the universe keeps reaching further and further into space at a staggering clip. Continue reading

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are not taking a position on gun control because we're afraid somebody might shoot us if we do. Thankfully someone has taken a position on gun control -- that is, if a multinational corporation counts as "someone." Let our good friend David Martin explain it all to you...

With A Shot?

By:

SEATTLE — Coffee chain Starbucks Corp. is sticking to its policy of letting customers carry guns where it’s legal and said it does not want to be put in the middle of a larger gun-control debate. — MSNBC – March 3, 2010

MEMORANDUM
TO: All baristas, baristos and other in-store employees
FROM: Starbucks management
RE: Gun policy

As you are no doubt aware, management has decided to take a decidedly “hands-off” approach vis-à-vis the carrying of handguns into Starbucks establishments. Given that most states have “open carry” weapons statutes, it seems unfair to unduly restrict our customer base.

While we take pride in our non-discriminatory policy respecting in-store firearms, we do recognize that such a policy may involve the assumption of certain risks. For that reason, and to mollify our insurer, we are requesting all employees to follow certain common sense guidelines.

As a general rule, employees should not question customers about any weapons they may be carrying, regardless of number, size or caliber. Your initial assumption should always be that the customer is properly licensed to carry whatever weaponry he has on his person.

It is, of course, open to any employee to ask a customer to provide proof of ownership of any particular weapon or weapons. However, the guiding principle should be that the customer is always right, particularly when he has more than one weapon or the weapon in question is semiautomatic.

Starbucks employees are world famous for their friendly attitude and bonhomie. We do not want to diminish that jovial spirit in any way. However, as a precautionary measure, we recommend that servers do not engage in any gun-related joking or banter unless, of course, the server is also armed.

When it comes to the question of carrying your own personal weapon, we wish to refrain from taking any position on the matter. America is a free country and one of the things that makes it great is the freedom to bear arms. If you do choose to be armed, we would simply ask that you select a small-caliber handgun that can be carried discretely, will not interfere with your pouring duties and will not clash with the outlet’s decor.

Always be alert to a customer’s state of mind, particularly when that customer is bearing a handgun. If he seems jittery or agitated, remember that any caffeinated beverage is not likely to make the situation better. In such a case, gently suggest one of our fine decaffeinated drinks and, if gunfire seems imminent, offer to provide it free of charge.

If you sense that a dispute is brewing between two or more armed customers, feel free to intervene and recommend that they relax with our new special drink: The Second Amendment Latte. Stress that they all have the right to bear arms but instead of using those arms, they should exercise their right to enjoy a really heavenly cup of American java.

Also, please be very careful before asking a customer if he or she would like a shot. Although we recognize that selling an extra shot of espresso or a flavored shot is great for our profit margin, we don’t want to jeopardize employee safety. In order to retain this profitable sideline and still satisfy our insurer’s requirements, please simply ensure that the customer is not armed before making any shot-related inquiries.

Some employees have asked whether we can provide gun racks in our outlets for the convenience of rifle, shotgun or machine gun-owning customers. The short answer is “no,” as Starbucks does not wish to be seen to be taking a stand on the complicated issues of gun ownership and gun use. However, we have no objection if anyone wishes to take the initiative to modify any existing magazine or newspaper rack to accommodate long guns. Nevertheless, we remain adamant that we will not provide handgun vending machines in any of our domestic outlets.

While we abhor the use of violence in most public settings, we are particularly concerned about the comfort of our unarmed customers who may be reading or listening to music. To minimize any disruptions to that clientele, we think it is appropriate to display signage in each outlet requesting armed customers to use silencers whenever possible.

Finally, if any gun-bearing customer professes a preference for The Tea Party, don’t forget that we serve tea, too — our special Tazo blend. Just be sure to pronounce Tazo slowly to prevent any unfortunate misunderstandings. At Starbucks, we have a strict policy of not providing tasers to employees, but unfortunately not all customers are aware of that fact.

If everyone follows these few common sense rules, we are confident that we can keep gun-related accidents in Starbucks outlets to a minimum.

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where it's all for one and one for all. No, actually, it's just all for one, as our good friend David Martin explains...

There Is A “Me” In “Team”

By:

MEMORANDUM
TO: All staff
FROM: Bill Bidikoff
Senior VP Operations, Northwest Central Region

My purpose in writing today is to outline how each of you can help me to better carry out our regional and company-wide mandates.

I think it goes without saying that there is no “I” in “team.” On the other hand, it should be apparent to all of you that there is a “me” in “team,” albeit backwards and separated by the letter “a.” Furthermore, as far as you’re concerned, that “me” is me.

In short, when I succeed, you succeed. Well, actually I succeed and you probably get to keep your job. But in today’s economy, that should count for success.

Now you’re probably asking yourself, “How can I help our company in general and Bill Bidikoff in particular succeed?” Some of our more senior employees may simply be asking, “How can I get Bill promoted and out of my hair?”

In either case, I think you’ll agree that the primary objective is to help me (and by extension the company) get ahead. And a simple rule of thumb to apply regarding any new initiative is: “Will this help me, and by ‘me’ I mean Bill Bidikoff?”

Say, for example, you have just completed a sales report that highlights increased revenues for the past quarter. Before signing off on the report, review it one final time and consider any ways that you can fit my name into it to ensure that I receive any credit due from senior management.

Likewise, if you’re about to give a presentation to the executive committee about failings in our region’s organizational structure, take a few minutes and make damn sure that my name is mentioned nowhere in the materials. At the same time, feel free to add a few words assigning blame to Joe Conlan, Mary Westin or any of the other regional marketing managers who are competing with me for the VP Sales position.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to stress once again the importance of working together to help me obtain my goals. If you are communicating with my office, I expect you to not only do your job, I also expect you to do mine as well.

Let me give you a helpful example. Ted Nolanson, Director of IT for our region, recently sent me a detailed memo outlining the current problems with our computer security program. Ted described the problem, listed several possible solutions and left the final decision to me.

While Ted’s effort was detailed and workmanlike, it failed on that most basic of criteria, namely how much work will this create for me? What I would have preferred to see from Ted was a single recommendation for action with a plan for giving me the credit for any success and him the blame for any shortcomings.

I think we can all agree that our ultimate objective regarding any corporate policy, objective or decision is to create a win-win situation. And by win-win, I mean a situation where I not only win by not having to expend undue energy but where I also win by looking good to those above me. Remember, let’s all pull together for me.

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where every day's a holiday. If you're at work, take some time off right now to read this week's piece by a man who has obviously taken a holiday from reason. NOTE: One of our contributors, Eric Metaxas, has written a stunning new biography of the German martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the pastor who took part in the attempted assassination of Hitler and paid for it with his own life. The link to the Amazon page for the book is in our Blogroll to the right.

Happy Holidays

By:

MEMO – December 15, 2009 – Christmas holidays
To: Brad Richards
Regional Director

From: Dave Martin
Sales Coordinator

As I’m sure you’re aware, the holiday season is upon us. Like most of our workforce, I will be celebrating Christmas and therefore would like to take holidays for the period between Christmas and New Year’s. As a practicing Christian, this would allow me to celebrate the birth of our Lord with my loving family.

MEMO – March 15, 2010 – Jewish holidays
Thank you very much for approving annual leave for Good Friday (April 1st) and Easter Monday (April 5th). My family appreciates your generosity in allowing me to join them in celebrating these important Christian holidays. While I will be joining my family in these celebrations, I have personally converted to Judaism and therefore would request that, in accordance with paragraph 6.02.07(b) of our company’s human resources policy manual, I also be given the entire week of March 30th off, which, of course, is Passover, one of the most important holidays for my newly chosen people.

MEMO – September 1, 2010 – Muslim Holidays
Thank you for granting me time off for Rosh Hashanah on September 9th and 10th and also Friday September 17th to allow me to prepare for Yom Kippur on September 18th. As I told the mediator at the time, I felt it was important to fully explore my new cultural roots. As it turns out, however, my Jewish studies have led me to adopt another Abrahamaic faith, namely Islam. I will therefore be fasting for Ramadan and would greatly appreciate a couple of days off before the important feast of Eid al-Fitr on the 9th.

MEMO – November 3, 2010 – Baha’i Holidays
I was as surprised as you that the Baha’i faith would be for me. But it really is and it turns out that November is the perfect month to celebrate that new faith as there are three separate holidays. If you could see fit to grant me time off for the Birth of Baha’u’llah (November 12th), the Day of the Covenant (November 26th) and the Ascension of ‘Abdul-Baha (November 28th), it would be much appreciated and would almost certainly avoid the necessity of what I am sure you would agree would be prolonged and unwanted litigation.

MEMO – January 15, 2011 – Buddhist holidays
The secret of happiness lies in the mind’s release from worldly ties. I do not know if you are a follower of the Buddha. If you are, you will know the peace of mind that can come from a study of his great wisdom. And if you are, you will also know that February 3rd is the Chinese New Year and February 8th is Nirvana Day. I trust that I will be granted the time off to pursue my new faith. You are, of course, welcome to join me on my spiritual quest for those two important days. Given the obvious stress you have been under lately, it might do you a world of good.

MEMO – February 15, 2011 – Hindu holidays
I’m sorry for the short notice but I’m going to need to take time off on March 1st and 3rd which, no doubt, you are aware mark Hola Mohalla and Maha Shivratri. I’m sure I’m not the first person to pursue Eastern religions and make that easy spiritual step from Buddhism to Hinduism. It seems so natural and right and these two days of reflection and devotion will undoubtedly help to clarify my new revelations.

MEMO – March 8, 2011 – Scientology holiday
Thanks so much for the Hindu holidays or as my people say: “Namasté.” Or at least that’s what my people would have said before I saw the interstellar light and converted to Scientology. Did you know that L. Ron Hubbard’s birthday is March 13th? Well, it is and I’d really appreciate a day off to fully partake in the special celebrations. This may necessitate another reduction in my workload but, as before, I’m sure we can solve this problem together if we really try.

MEMO – March 9, 2011
To: Dave Martin
Sales Coordinator

From: Brad Richards
Regional Director

Re: Upcoming Holidays

Dave, take all the religious holidays you want. You’re fired.

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* Welcome to The Big Jewel, the undeniable sports news hub for the entire civilized world...whatever that is. In a better world than this one, perhaps famed quarterback Brett Favre would retire and stay retired. But we have to live in this world, and that means we have to watch Brett Favre go through retirements the way Larry King goes through wives young enough to be his granddaughters.

The Unretiring Brett Favre

By:

Having retired and un-retired twice in the last two years, one thing is clear: Brett Favre still has a lot more football to play. Here’s a brief peek into the all-star quarterback’s future:

October 14, 2009

Having turned 40 on Saturday, Brett Favre decides to retire once again. “I’ve accomplished just about all I can here with the Vikings,” said Favre. “So there’s really not much point in continuing.” Favre defeated the Packers a week ago Monday, making him the first quarterback in history to beat all 32 NFL teams. “Mission accomplished,” said the aging quarterback. “My only regret is that I was unable to add to my all-time interceptions record.”

October 31, 2009

Brett Favre reconsiders and returns to the Minnesota Vikings. “Just my idea of a little Halloween treat,” quipped Favre. “Since we’re playing the Packers again tomorrow at Lambeau Field, I thought I’d try to add to all my career records including my total interceptions.”

November 1, 2009

Immediately following the Packers crushing victory over the Vikings, Brett Favre once again announces his retirement. “I have to be honest and say I was not only disappointed by the game score but also by my inability to add to my records,” said Favre. “Mind you, you can’t add to records if you’re sitting on the bench the whole time.”

August 7, 2010

Brett Favre is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The all-star quarterback graciously accepts the honor and proudly enters the Hall as a Green Bay Packer.

August 8, 2010

Brett Favre resigns from the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “It’s not that I didn’t appreciate the honor,” said Favre. “But I have to admit that I’ve got my eye set on an even higher accolade: membership in the International Football Hall of Fame.”

August 9, 2010

Informed that the International Football Hall of Fame only covers soccer and never really got off the ground, Brett Favre announces that he will seek reinstatement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and possibly the Baseball Hall of Fame as well.

October 31, 2034

On his 65th birthday, Brett Favre announces that he is once again coming out of retirement, this time to join the newly formed World Wheelchair Football League. “Thanks to my many years in the NFL,” said Favre. “I’m not that mobile anymore although I can get around pretty good in a wheelchair.” Hoping to be the starting quarterback with the Detroit Wheels, Favre is looking to set a whole new bunch of football records.

February 23, 2044

Brett Favre once again announces his retirement, this time from the Pinegrove Manor seniors’ residential home in Sheboygen, Wisconsin. “I put in a good six years with Pinegrove,” said Favre. “And I think I’ve accomplished all that I can in that position.” Favre, however, wouldn’t rule out the possibility of joining another seniors’ home in the near future. “I’m open to any reasonable offers,” said the aging footballer.

June 13, 2056

Brett Favre retires from life and accepts an offer to play for the Heavenly All-Stars, a celestial team of former NFL greats.

June 14, 2056

Informed that he will be the third-string quarterback behind Johnny Unitas and Otto Graham, Brett Favre resigns from the Heavenly All-Stars. “Yes, I’m disappointed,” said Favre. “But I’m sure that there are plenty of other teams that will recognize my special talents.”

June 16, 2056

General Manager Satan announces the signing of one Brett Favre as the starting quarterback for his team: Hell’s Raiders. “We like what we see in Mr. Favre,” said Satan. “And we’re hoping he can play for us for eternity.” “I’m pleased to join the team,” said Favre. “But I can’t really make a commitment much beyond the next millennium.”

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Satisfaction Guaranteed

By:

I believe it is inevitable that within five years, people will be having sex with robots,” [David] Levy told his audience…..”I believe that by 2050 people in large numbers will be falling in love with robots and marrying them in large numbers,” he said. — The Ottawa Citizen – June 23, 2008

New York Times – Weddings & Celebrations – July 10, 2050

CRUIKSHANK – ROBOWORLD-3000

Dr. Stephen and Louise Cruikshank of Stamford, Connecticut are pleased to announce the marriage of their daughter Mary Ellen to “Robbie” RoboWorld-3000.

Ms. Cruikshank is a graduate of Swarthmore and is presently pursuing postgraduate studies at Yale University in early childhood psychology. The groom is a product of LeisureWorld Robotics Inc. of Cambridge, Massachusetts and a graduate of their advanced psycho-sexual assembly line.

The marriage ceremony was held last Saturday at the home of the bride’s parents. The bride wore a full-length dress with organza trim and a silver-threaded veil while the groom was decked out in his formalwear encapsulation package and spare battery pack.

The bride expressed delight at her marriage to Mr. Roboworld and touted his handsome appearance and ten-year parts-and-labor warranty. For his part, Mr. Roboworld stated: “Many customers have examined my features but I instantly recognized that Mary Ellen was the most compatible, asynchronous partner for me.”

The couple will be taking up residence in the bride’s New Haven, Connecticut apartment. Ms. Cruikshank will be spending much of her time studying at Yale while Mr. RoboWorld-3000 will be spending his days recharging in the bedroom closet.

NYMPHETTE MODEL 601 – CORRIGAN

Nymphette Model 601 was married Saturday to James T. Corrigan at the premises of Computer Pals Inc. in Passaic, New Jersey in a warranty replacement ceremony. Computer Pals’s COO Martin Gimlet officiated.

The bride is a top-of-the-line fembot with all of the available options including non-chafing skin and Pleasuralizer Plus. She is a recent product of Computer Pals’s state-of-the-art production facility in Singapore.

The bridegroom, 67, is a retired maintenance worker living in Newark. As Mr. Corrigan was previously wed to a Vixen 2000, an earlier Computer Pals product, this marriage was fully financed by the company under its robot replacement warranty.

“I’m so happy,” said the beaming bridegroom. “At first I couldn’t imagine life without my Vixen 2000 but when I saw the Nymphette Model 601, it was love at first sight.”

The Nymphette Model 601 was unavailable for comment as Mr. Corrigan opted to forego the voice module and the interpersonal conversation option.

“I’m pretty much a visual kind of guy,” said Mr. Corrigan.

The couple will reside in Mr. Corrigan’s Newark townhouse so long as his dog Rex can be trained to stop chewing on robots. Otherwise, the new Mrs. Corrigan will be taking up residence in the adjoining garage.

ANDROID MAN – ROBOGUY

Thanks to recent changes in the laws of New York State, same-circuit marriages are now legal. First to take advantage of the new law were Android Man and Roboguy. The two male-programmed robots tied their power supplies together at a small, private ceremony last Monday in the assembly room of speciality manufacturer Advanced Homo Electricus Robotronics in Westchester, New York.

Plant spokesman Ed Entwhistle officiated at the ceremony which was attended by the plant foreman, six assembly line workers and the completed line production of gay robots from Monday’s first shift.

“I am programmed to like men,” said Android Man. “But none measures up to Roboguy. His circuitry is really dreamy.”

“I feel the same way,” said Roboguy. “My only disappointment is that we couldn’t have the ceremony in California.”

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My Presidential Bio

By:

My fellow Americans. I’ve been accused of many things. Like being a Washington insider, being out of touch with regular citizens like you and even being inexperienced and naive. But my critics just don’t know the real me.

I was born in Faith, a small town not far from Charity and just down the road from Hope. Faith was, and still is, a community of about five thousand souls who are as committed to America as you and me. Their dream is the same as your dream and mine: a five-bedroom, three-bath monster home and a healthy, well-diversified stock portfolio.

My parents were poor, hardworking people who dedicated themselves to providing a better life for me and my two sisters. Dad worked eight hours a day, five days a week as an encyclopedia salesman while my mother taught nuclear physics part-time at the local community college.

Although we grew up poor, I never lacked for the basics. We lived in a modest, three-bedroom bungalow that to this day has no central air and only one-and-a-half baths. But my sisters and I didn’t know that we were poor. All we knew was that we were loved.

Growing up in Faith taught me most of life’s lessons. For example, I learned how other kids can be cruel and taunt you because your family has just one car and can only afford to trade it in for a new one every five years.

I learned how some people will be unkind because you’re different. Some of the townsfolk would make fun of Mom because she wore thick glasses and knew a lot about centrifuges and particle accelerators. What many of them didn’t know, however, was that she won a blue ribbon every year at the county fair for her cold fusion-baked apple pie.

As a boy, I learned many useful things from the people of Faith. Our family attended the Southern Christian Baptist Church at the end of our street. But our neighbors, the Blacks, attended the Christian Southern Baptist Church on the other side of town. Yet my Dad would always say “Hello” to Mr. Black and even once lent him our lawnmower. I thus learned that we can still live in relative harmony with our fellow citizens no matter how striking the religious and doctrinal differences.

Like most kids, I was impatient with long Sunday services and often fidgeted and fussed until the service was over. But our pastor, Reverend White, knew that kids had short attention spans. So he would entertain us with humorous stories of how we Southern Christian Baptists would go to heaven while the Christian Southern Baptists would be condemned to walk the streets of Hope in eternal damnation bearing the mark of Satan on their misshapen foreheads. Yet he never ceased to preach the gospel of love for all mankind.

Even the poorest and the saddest citizens of Faith helped to guide me through life. Many people looked down on Mr. Wallace as the town drunk. But even Mr. Wallace had his own special wisdom to impart to the town’s young people. Like how to collect and cash in enough empties to buy a bottle of Thunderbird or how to get high drinking Sterno without risking a trip to the emergency department.

Like most eighteen-year-olds, I was eager, almost desperate, to leave my hometown. But looking back, I now realize that I could have done far worse than to live my life in Faith. For example, I could easily have spent fifteen to twenty years without parole in the state prison located halfway between Charity and Hope.

Thanks to the hard work of my parents, I was able to attend Yale, Princeton and Harvard where I earned a B.A., a B.Sc., an M.B.A., a J.D. and a Ph.D. After my college career, I served in both the Army and the Air Force before pursuing consecutive stints in Vista and the Peace Corps. I then simultaneously interned at the law firm of Smoot & Hawley, clerked for Chief Justice Bryan, worked as an investment banker and volunteered at the local homeless shelter, youth center and food bank.

Most of you know the rest of my story: municipal councillor for four years, state senator for six years and then contemporaneous terms as governor and Vice President. Some say I’m not ready to be President. Well, maybe I don’t have all the fancy-pants qualifications of my opponent. But I have something far more important: the lessons learned from the good people of Faith.

Those lessons have stayed with me my entire life. Lessons such as pretending to like country music and bowling, being able to choke down a spicy, ethnic sausage with a warm beer and knowin’ when to drop the final g’s when speakin’ to just plain folks like you and me.

So don’t believe those big city reporters and those big-shot TV newscasters. My mom always told me “Don’t get too big for your britches, sonny, and don’t forget to use just a touch of vermouth in your martinis.” If I ever forget those lessons, you can be sure she’ll come down to Washington, box my ears, set me straight and replace that pretentious olive with a good, old-fashioned twist of lemon peel. Good night “mes amis” and God bless America.

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Dave’s Retirement Lunch

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Good afternoon and welcome to the retirement lunch for Dave Martin. I’m Bill Rankin, the Director of Western Operations. Since neither our CEO Chet Weston nor Dave’s boss Steve Lester could be here and because I drew the short straw, I’ll be emceeing today’s festivities. Both Chet and Steve are in an all-day meeting about printer supplies and paper-clip budgeting and send their regrets.

I don’t know Dave personally; I only know him by reputation. But, boy, what a reputation! If all the employees of Candu Consulting had the same attitude as Dave, this would definitely be a different company.

Whereas most of our employees retire once they reach the maximum pensionable service of 35 years, Dave has shown his dedication and loyalty to our business by hanging on well past the maximum to 43 years. Apparently there was little economic advantage for Dave in serving those additional eight years apart from a steadfast and abiding faith in the inevitability of receiving a golden handshake.

Despite countless refusals from senior management, Dave demonstrated the tenacity and can-do attitude of Candu Consulting and refused to take
“no” for an answer. His fighting spirit is an inspiration to us all and I’m sure that you are aware that, thanks to an unfortunate oversight in our employee termination procedure and the undisclosed terms of a court-ordered settlement, Dave recently obtained a severance package that can only be described as generous in the extreme.

As I said, I don’t know Dave personally. But his many accomplishments have been like a shining beacon to the employees working in my division. Who would have thought that you could go on a drunken binge, miss work for four weeks, get fired, file a grievance and still get reinstituted with full pay plus compensatory damages? Probably the same person who assumed that zero productivity over a three-year period would not lead to employment sanctions but rather result in an award of merit in return for a promise never to touch the Dickson Motors file again.

Speaking of productivity, the force of Dave’s personality is so strong that even his leaving will have a dramatic effect on our bottom line. Just to show you how much his absence will be noted, Accounting has estimated that next year Candu Consulting expects a 20 percent increase in revenue which is almost entirely attributable to Dave.

I’m glad so many of you could make it. What with quarterly budgeting and this being a Friday, we didn’t expect such a turnout. However, given that the company decided to pay for the lunch and give each attendee the afternoon off, it is indeed gratifying to note that most of the eight chairs around this table have been filled. That is indeed a testament to the warmth and affection Dave’s co-workers have for him — particularly those who have not yet obtained a restraining order against him.

As with any retirement dinner, it gives us a chance to celebrate the many contributions and accomplishments of the retiree. I took the liberty of conducting a quick online search of several daily newspapers as well as the local court docket.

I think it goes without saying that when an employee’s workplace accomplishments receive recognition even beyond the corridors of Candu Consulting, that is worth noting. To say that Dave is entirely responsible for our current Personal and Sexual Harassment Policy, our state-of-the-art fire alarm and building exit plan and the deadbolt locks on each office door would be an exaggeration. But we definitely can say that Dave’s behavior was the ultimate inspiration for each of these previously unwarranted initiatives.

It is usually at this point in the festivities that we ask the retiree to say a few words and accept a gift as a token of our appreciation for his long service, if not gratitude for his upcoming departure. However, I am told that Dave is not with us today since he is apparently still diligently working at using up his remaining sick days before his official departure next Friday. As for a gift, Dave has asked that we forgo the traditional gold watch and instead, as he so colloquially and humorously put it, “cut me a check” for the purchase price.

On that note, ladies and gentlemen, will you please raise your glasses and toast our departing colleague Dave Martin. I think we can all agree that, given our newly stringent hiring guidelines, we will not see his kind again.

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