Helping you help yourself, and your stationery cupboard.

There appears to be a correlation between the price or cost of a pen and a borrower’s desire to steal/failure to return (FTR) it. Although, through my study into the subject, I believe it to be not quite as simple as – what many an amateur analyst may presume – the cheaper the pen, the higher likelihood of theft/FTR. No, I think that there is something distinctly more premeditated and sinister to this tale of ballpoints and fountains.

Firstly, pencils don’t even become part of the equation, no one steals pencils. Yes, I can hear you: blah blah blah actually I have very expensive pencils blah blah someone stole my pencil that one time blah. Well I don’t care. No one steals pencils. You’re mistaken.

Now, to correctly consider this FTR concept, one has to, possibly unfairly, categorise our favourite of all writing implements into expense divisions, or bands. For myself, I consider three bands thusly: band one between 1p and 99p, band 2 from £1 to £3.99, and band 3 from £4 upwards. And I do know that some people, such as myself, may have invested on ink-ware that far exceeds this upper bracket, but for argument’s sake, the bandings lie as mentioned.

I believe that the prime band to pilfer from is the middle band. This range of pen is usually the slight premium pen. Not the dire “crack-n-shatter” affair you get when you order a box through the in-company stationery system, but also not the golden nibbed Onoto that you might have seen on that website that one time, when you were deciding whether to buy a new pen or put down a deposit on a three bedroomed bungalow in Kent. These are the pens that, when assessing the validity of your reasoning behind minor theft, cross quite nicely on the graphs of “I-can-probably-get-away-with-nicking-that” and “I-actually-want-to-use-that-pen-in-future-times”. The former and latter bands both fall away at both sides of this. So, this middle band has the highest rate of theft, but also the greatest trust improvement factor when one is returned.

You can put down the theft of a “Push Me Pull Me Chew Me Snap Me” biro to genuine absent-mindedness, as I have, on more than one occasion, walked off from another’s office with a similarly described pen betwixt my digits, and have either mistaken it for my own, or decided that the cost of the company time wasted by my turning around, strolling back to their office, apologising for taking and returning the pen before returning to my office is probably higher than the cost of the damn bin bag piercer. Expensive pens are inexplicable. But then, I don’t let my band three (B3) pens leave my sight.

But how can I be sure that the person who I’m lending a pen to will return it, I hear you cry. Well, worry not my little scribble-stick guardians, I’ve concocted a brief formula for you to quickly reference whenever a dubious pen-lending scenario presents itself. This has thwarted me for years, having to see my faithful line-making companion disappearing into the sunset, never to be seen again. But now, I can simply work out the likeliness of seeing the pen again (L) and I can be confident – or not – that it shall return to my desk.

It goes:

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Wherein, R is Reliability, T is general Trust, x is estimated pen value, and Z is the time/frequency reliability-trust factor.

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Wherein, a is number of pens returned in band one (B1), b is number of pens lent in B1, c is number of pens returned in B2, d is number of pens lent in B2, e is number of pens returned in B3, and f is the number of pens lent in B3.

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I do sincerely hope that this aids you in knowing who you can really trust in your office/workplace/educational environment/kitchen/pen store/designated pen-lending area.

You’re welcome.

Bang for your buck

So, in my job role, I’m responsible for classification and security of data, amongst other things. One particular document, I have to produce weekly when updates are made, and I’d noticed that a senior team leader had left one unattended, which shouldn’t be done with confidential information. I confided in my manager about insuring all senior staff are aware of looking after the documents. He told me to leave it to him. Afterwards, I learnt his solution was not mentioning it, but writing the first name of whoever it belonged to on the front page.
In pencil.

I can see why he earns more than me.

True Pedestrians

I’ve decided that pedestrians need to either take tests or have to study before they’re allowed to use certain crossings. They clearly necessitate an amount of training seeing as not all walk-aholics seem to know how to use the things. Similar to motorcycles, you should only be able to progress up the chain of crossings dependant on your experience or proven aptitude.

First, there’s the little refuge crossing-ey things; these are the micro-scooter of the crossing world. As these require next to no physical dexterity or mental skill to administer, I can allow these to be used by all novices and professionals alike. Though, when someone has been sat at the child’s table for ten Christmases in a row, and have now been allowed to sit next to fourteen year old “grown-up” cousin Thomas, and Aunt Sarah has let them sip some sherry (with retch-y results), they’re reluctant to admit to their immaturity and allow themselves to be relegated to the green plastic table once again – as is with these crossings. In fact, many a person would rather cross the entire road at once (I know, right?) a good twenty feet from the crossing, just to avoid association with it.

So, when the time is right, they can take the zebra test. The zebra crossing requires a degree of material skill to employ. If there is no traffic, time is insignificant, and one can meander the stripy road at ease. However, if traffic approacheth, one must remain valiant and stride out with purpose. Hesitance on the part of the crosser results in Car Operator Frustration (COF) from seeing a crosser choosing not to cross, then crossing when the car operator has been forced, by common morality, to halt, when the crosser had ample time previously. This leads to many an unfairly impenitent curser, and general roadeaus infuriate. Once this crossing has been mastered and one’s COF footprint reduced to neutral, a pedestrian can take the Pelican Aptitude Readiness Paper (PARP).

Passing the PARP allows the walkee to fully utilise the pelican crossings, which grants users to God-like powers of traffic control. Councils up and down the land employ and pay handsomely traffic engineers to design and implement traffic control systems to make their parishes and cities run at optimum efficiency, and, currently, we’re allowing the same control to the average sidewalker. This power should not come lightly. True coalescence with The Pelican is not about knowing when to use the power given to you, but when not to. When, The Pelican presents itself, and you know it is not needed, and you can cross with no BEEPBEEP at all, then, you are at one with the traffic control system. Then, I will look at you, will bow my head, and acknowledge you as a true path-walker.

Hitting things REALLY hard

I went to the cinema last night to see the Thor/Avengers Assemble/Thor: The Dark World feature, and after Avengers, I turned to my partner and asked her what her favourite Avenger was.

She looked away, thought for a minute, and said that she thinks it was Bruce Banner/The Hulk. It was how he’s an interpretation of man’s ever present but ordinarily buried raw animalism, a modern day Jekyll and Hyde affair where an everyday person transforms into this uncontrollable beast that’s reverted to its basic instincts, but still manages to uphold some of the humanity that it’s other persona holds dear and manages to with withhold from absolute anarchistic tendencies. She said how it’s interesting watching him perform with the rest of the team, where he’s clearly struggling to rely on the support of others and refraining from attacking them, digging deep to realise the trust that Banner holds in his fellow man.

I said mine was Thor because he hits things really hard with a hammer.

Socially Unacceptable Fruit

When I nipped out for my lunch, I saw someone eating an orange.

Not a tangerine, satsuma, or any other small orangey-type fruit, but a full on, fist sized orange. And it didn’t look right. You know when you see something or someone, and you think “I know there’s something wrong with what I’m looking at, but I’m not entirely sure what it is.”That.This made me suddenly aware that some fruits are not socially acceptable.

The orange is quite the unwieldy fruit; very thick military grade skin, the odd bit of bitter, shoelace-like pith that needs removing from the oral cavity, and the common trend of cramming the slice in, removing the flesh with an array of gnawing and sucking motions before depositing the empty peel shell with a rather unappealing “thwwwck” all make it an awkward eat. Whereas, the kindly apple is a more, pick up and go snack; sweet and easy to penetrate outer layer, simple, consistent texture inside and a very clear danger zone where the pips live, unlike it’s more vibrant friend.

So what other fruits do fall into this acclaimed pariah category? Well I’m not too sure. Maybe kiwifruits, no one eats the skin of them (I can hear you saying “I do”, but you’re lying), so you have to approach them with the boiled egg avec spoon approach, which although is a clean and thorough, is slightly, well, wrong. It just seems so wrong, that I don’t think it’s something you’d ever do in public. I mean, just imagine for a moment that you’re tucking into your snack named after you’re favourite flightless bird with a spoon, and someone stands, points at you and shouts “Look! Look at that person! He’s eating his fruit with a spoon! He appears to be quite the fool…”

Now, I rarely give much thought to what other people’s opinion of me are, but I would heartily like to avoid the aforementioned situation the best I can. The same as I would avoid a grapefruit, except they have their own utensil for consumption, but I think that that would gather a similar amount of unwanted interest.

This scuppers my first thought, which was size. Such as a mango, whilst is perfectly commonplace dissected in a bowl, lacks the ease of being ‘tuck-in-able’ on a bench. Perhaps if it is larger than something you can quickly consume if you have to avoid danger as per animal instinct, and this is why they look so out of place. But kiwifruits dissipate this thinking.

Maybe we could just all agree, as a group, to ignore the kiwifruit.

In conclusion, any fruit that you can’t very rapidly eat when a predator attacks, thereby saving the foodstuffs you’ve managed to gather and activating your flight-or-flight instinct to save your life, should be avoided within social environments, or until you’ve retreated to your nest.

The what-fruit?

That’s a bird, not a fruit.

Idiot.