Putting moneys in sock monkeys (i.e. a Craigslist story)

My wife recently listed a bedroom set on Craigslist, that beacon of light for all of humanity. Craigslist seems like YouTube comments with the added feature of filtering by geographical location and then sales categories. In other words, the best and the brightest can be found there. My wife was reminded of that as she attempted to sell a bedroom set on Craig’s fine establishment. The correspondence follows.

Tatiana Abel ([email protected]) wrote:

Is it available for sale?. let me know and email more photos.

My wife replied:

Yes it is for sale. It is a beautiful nice set. I hate to get rid of it as my mom, me and my daughter have all used it. But we don’t have room to store it. I did raise the price slightly as I was told I had listed it too low. I can send you further pictures if you tell me what you would like me to take pictures of. It is absolutely beautiful. Thanks.

D.M ([email protected]) wrote:

Thanks for the response. I am willing to pay your asking price. I will pay by Check as its the only way i can pay you at the moment. I will make arrangement for the pickup after payment have been received and cash by you. I don’t mind adding an extra $30 so you can keep it in my favor. I would have loved to come take a look at it but i am presently away for church convention. If you’re comfortable with my method of payment, reply with your full name, phone # and mailing address where payment will be sent please (No P.O Box Addresses ). I will appreciate it if you take the posting off CL today and consider it sold to me. As for the pick-up, it would be handled after you receive your payment.

Expecting to hear from you soon.
Warm Regards

My wife replied:

I took it off of CL. I am comfortable with the form or payment.

D.M ([email protected]) wrote:

I urgently have bring something to your notice. I just found out that my Assistant overpaid you.The payment meant for another transaction was made out in your name and sent to you. However I want to believe I wont have a problem with you on this. Once you receive the payment, Please proceed to the bank and cash the Check, after cashing you will deduct your required amount for the item with the extra $30 i promise to offer you for keeping the item in my favor then send back the balance to me. So I can proceed with arrangement for pick-up. Once more, I hope I can fully trust you with this?I will await your response on this so my mind can be at rest.

Boom! There we go. Now we’re cooking and I intercede on my wife’s behalf with the following reply:


I am husband of seller. I come from far away land. You likely understand. I have much money too. Maybe we can arrange to transfer some moneys into you account for tax security? My assistant get you full instructions. I am excited at possibilities of this good exchange. Or maybe we can put moneys into dresser drawers. You think that would be safe? I do not want my moneys going to the wrong peoples. I am sure you understand my meaning in all of this. I work hard and do not want to see so many moneys lose to taxes of governments officially. I trust you. I think we can deal very much good on this and future dealings. I have many more item to sell and would like to do this directly with you in future. Craig and his list cannot be trust I do not think. My peoples tells me he work for government. I have too many taxes and donot need more. You understand all these happenings. I know you do. We cannot be careful enough in urgent happenings. Moneys maybe put into sock monkeys. We stuff monkeys with moneys where stuffs would go. You think that be good idea? Sock monkeys then go in drawers. We puts lots of sock monkeys in drawers full of many moneys. You sliced the monkeys open where you live and puts moneys in safe account there. We could sells bedroom set again. You donot have to use sock monkeys. You use little ponys. Pull stuffings out of ponys and fill with moneys. I have many good investment to put ponys moneys in. This is good plan. Do you agree? My assistant will send all instructions soon.


I didn’t expect a reply but this guy is peristent. I’ll give him credit for that.

Thank you soo much for all the idea, i prefer you send the money via
western union money transfer as i stated

Finally, I do my best to convey this excellent idea I had for smuggling money in sock monkeys.

Dearest Sir,

I donnot prefer western union. The west is no good and I am not such fond of the union too. Are you? Maybe you need to see my ideas in pictures not just typing. I insert picture making clear your cloudy picture in your mind. This monkey I stuffed full of moneys. So many moneys it comes out. I am working on moneys coming out. I tries to stuff monkeys fullest. I want my moneys safe from pirates and governments officially. You know what I mean. You are fine gentleman at church convention where such matters handled with great care. I think sock monkeys not get taken like moneys floating through the air like western union. You cannot trust western people. I not going to even comment on the union. They most horrible. I know you know that I know that you know what I means. Maybe you try stuff sock monkeys with moneys and see if you get moneys stuffed better. Then send me steps to follow so I gets my monkeys full of moneys I needs to sends to you. When moneys are stored in sock monkeys moneys are safe. I think you agree once you study picture. If you not like sock monkeys then you can try little ponys with moneys. Pirates not care about ponys and governments wants horses not ponys. No one looks for moneys in ponys. Childrens might look for moneys in ponys. I not think governments or pirates have childrens in work for them. Do you know the age of governments peoples? Do you know the age of pirates? Pirates hates ponys I thinks because pirates might ride horses not ponys. OK. I think this works.

Kindest regardings.

Moneys in sock monkey

If you install a new garbage disposal and then find your dishwasher filled with water…

Buy the Waste King Legend 8000 on Amazon like I didMake sure the drain plug on the garbage disposal is removed. That’s the short answer. The longer story follows.

I’m an idiot and didn’t think there would be a plug there. Guess what happened the first time the dishwasher ran after the new garbage disposal was in place? The dishwasher was full of water after it ran. I scratched my head, puzzled. I knew it had something to do with my [1] handy work. After doing a quick web search I was reminded that the garbage disposal has a plug where the dishwasher drain hose connects. I thought there would be a simple plug there you could pull out or unscrew. I was wrong. Turns out on the model I purchased (a Waste King 8000 Legend, sounds impressive, no?) I have to punch the plug, which means it goes inside the disposal and is impossible to reach without dismounting the garbage disposal from the sink. Ugh. I have to clear out underneath the sink again, unplug from the outlet, unhook the drain pipe, and dismount the garbage disposal? Maybe not. Straight from the owner’s guide:

When knockout plug falls into disposer, you may remove it or simply grind it up when the disposer is used.

Jackpot. Or not. As later in the same guide it provides these pearls of wisdom:

Your disposer is ruggedly built to give you many years of trouble free service. It will handle all normal food wastes, but it will NOT grind or dispose of such items as plastic, tin cans, bottle caps, glass, china, leather, cloth, rubber, string, clam and oyster shells, aluminum foil or feathers.

I rationalized there is only one way to see if this beast lives up to its brand name. I knocked the plug into the garbage disposal and ground it up. I then turned the dishwasher back on and the water disappeared within a minute. Problem solved.

[1] I can’t take all the credit. Many thanks to a man known as The Jackal for helping me make magic happen – almost.

Let’s get this thing done – Only the Young

Only the Young posterAt the True/False film festival this year I saw some great documentaries. There are two that I tell everyone about. One of those is Only the Young, a film about a few ordinary teenagers in Southern California living their lives and growing up right before the camera. It doesn’t sound like an amazing premise and that’s largely what makes this film such an incredible feat. The cinematography is gorgeous, the soundtrack is unexpectedly great, and the editing is crisp. Add to all that some amazing kids and the results are magic on the screen. No lie. Magic.

Only the Young is making its debut at the Hot Docs festival in Toronto this May. Great! But the bad news is the film makers still need some help finishing the film. I mentioned the soundtrack stood out as being particularly excellent. Well, that soul music filled soundtrack costs quite a bit to license. There is also some technical work that needs to be done to make the film look and sound its best. All this adds up. Fortunately, the film makers have connections and are getting good rates on the technical work that needs to be done which lowers the costs. But they still need around $15,570 to pay for everything.

There is a Kickstarter project and everyone can help make this happen. I supported the film and will get a DVD for that contribution. This is a film I’ve been wanting to get my hands on ever since I saw it at True/False so the chance to support it early and get a DVD later is a good deal. I don’t normally go around peddling for projects like this so I hope that shows just how much I enjoyed this film and think you will too. If you want to support a great film and get a copy of it (and possibly more, depending on how much you contribute) in the not so distant future, now is the time to act:

Support Only the Young on Kickstarter

The lost Hoover Christmas newsletter of 2010

I forgot I put together this quick one page Christmas newsletter last year. My wife has been writing them and is doing it again this year. I actually don’t like these types of newsletters. They often do too much bragging or are just plain boring. Plus, with today’s world of over sharing everything online, chances are I know more about your past year than you do. But, every so often inspiration strikes and the end of 2010 was one of those moments. My wife was struggling to write so I sat down right at that moment and wrote the following newsletter in no time flat. It took me longer to find just the right images. We never sent it out, as my wife didn’t find it all that humorous at the time. It made her laugh tonight. Here it is:

Download a PDF or view the embedded doc below:

The Hoover Christmas Newsletter 2010

Sticks or straw?

That is the question every wolf asks just before it’s game over for me and you. And now it’s available in a stylish t-shirt that my son insisted I design for him. Good timing, as I’m sure these will be popular gifts for the 2011 holiday season. I can definitely picture millions around the United States on black Friday flooding the Zazzle web site with requests for sticks or straw gear. Enjoy.

Sticks or straw t-shirt frontSticks or straw t-shirt back

A few people I’m said to look like

For whatever reason I have a face that reminds people of either someone they know personally or of a celebrity. I’ve gotten this since I was in grade school, back when I was considered a minority and many kids thought I looked like Christopher Reeves from the Superman movies. I often took this to mean that all white people look alike. 😉

Christopher Reeve - Superman

Then, in high school, numerous people pointed out that I looked like Smashing Pumpkins’ lead singer, Billy Corgan. It was around this time that I too had my head shaved. And, yes, I also looked like a younger version of Uncle Fester.

Billy Corgan

In the last ten years or so, it seems that I remind people of Matt Damon, which is funny because my wife is a fan of his. It must be because Matt reminds her of me, right?

Matt Damon

And finally, this is me now that I’ve worked from home in my basement for two years.


Throw some shades on and I’m one step closer to writing epic manifestos and living off the land, huh?

Update (May 14, 2012):

This past weekend I was told that I reminded two friends and former co-workers of Colin Morgan who played Merlin in the BBC series simply titled Merlin.

Colin Morgan


How I Lost 35 Pounds in 5 Months

Acai berriesIt’s January. It’s time to set goals. Many will have “Lose X lbs.” on their list so I thought I’d share how I lost quite a bit of weight recently. The secret of my success (yes, like Michael J. Fox) is – drumroll please – eating a solid diet of acai berries! Just kidding. I don’t know what acai berries are other than they appeared in banner ads all across the web in 2009. Acai berries might be magical but my weight loss tips are not. My weight loss came mostly as a result of discipline, which meant stopping bad habits and replacing them with good ones. The following list contains some of the practices, tools, and guidelines I followed while dropping a little over 16% of my body weight over the past five months.

1. Change eating habits before exercise habits

Many will join the local gym and exercise like crazy as they try to achieve their weight loss goal. If this is your plan, stop right now. Get your diet in order before you dive heavy into exercise. If you start with exercise, you’ll likely be hungrier, which means eating too many calories and too many of the wrong calories. Form good eating habits first, lose some pounds in the process, and then move on to exercise (see #6).

2. Aim for a realistic, healthy and sustainable goal

You may think you want to lose 50 pounds in two months, but I can say it won’t be realistic, healthy or sustainable. Simple online tools to help you determine the weight range you should be in and how many calories you should eat each day include:

These tools don’t take into account all the variables. They also don’t take into account things like body fat targets, waist size reduction, and overall fitness. Use the outputs as guidelines and a place to start rather than the answer to questions of your ideal weight and calorie needs. The idea is to set healthy goals that you can achieve and keep up over the long run.

3. Cut carbs drastically at the start

This one is likely to irritate some folks but I’ve found it helps kick start weight loss. Follow the first 2-week phase of the Atkins or South Beach diet. You’ll ween your body off carbs and most processed foods. Think of it as a smoker quitting smoking cold turkey. You’ll likely feel sugar withdrawals and swear that you’re dying but after about a week you’ll condition your body to be satisfied with more nutritious food. After the two weeks, start to add healthy carbs back into your diet, but limit starchy foods like regular pasta, white rice, and white breads. Whole grains are the suggested replacement. Just be careful not to fall for the marketing use of the term “whole grain” prominently featured on many food labels these days. You’ll need to checkout the ingredients to be sure it’s the real deal and not chock full of garbage in addition to whole grains.

4. Track what you eat religiously

I used DailyBurn to track my meals each day. Doing this made me conscience of what I was eating on a daily basis. DailyBurn.com It showed how many calories, carbs, fat, protein, etc. I was taking in. Make what you eat in your face even after you’ve stuffed your face. You’ll find it changes your eating habits almost immediately.

5. Drink at least 64 oz. of water per day

This is good to do in general but especially important when you’re trying to lose weight. Our bodies need H2O. Drinking lots of water can also help control your appetite.

6. Develop a sustainable exercise routine slowly

Bella and Bloo

My secret weapons to sustaining an exercise routine. Sled dogs.

Being overly ambitious at the start of a big goal or project is common. When it comes to losing weight this (too often) means a killer exercise routine that inevitably burns out quick with zero positive results. Once you’ve established better eating habits (see #1) then start to establish a sustainable exercise routine. This means finding what works best for you. Can you only afford 30 minutes a day a few days a week? Find exercises that allow you to get a good workout in that amount of time. Only join a gym if you are going to go on a regular basis. Most people will not go to a gym if it’s an inconvenience. My wife goes to the gym regularly and I think it works for her because going to the gym is an enjoyable break away from the kids. I don’t care for the gym. It’s a hassle and exercise machines are boring to me. So I go on long brisk walks instead. That works for me. Find something that works for you, start slowly and ramp it up gradually.

7. Tell others about your goal

If you tell people your goal then you’re more likely to stick to it. I was encouraged and teased relentlessly for announcing my goal and progress on various social networks once a week. I would remind myself of the goal and give an update on my latest weigh in. I found my friends’ and family’s feedback helped me to stay disciplined.

None of the points above are ground breaking. There is no silver bullet. It’s hard work but does get easier as time goes by and new good habits replace the old bad ones. I hope it helps someone out as they strive to drop some pounds and develop a healthier lifestyle. If nothing else, I’ve now got this post for friends to shove in my face if I ever gain back the pounds I lost. That’s what I call motivation! 😉

So Long Chad The Developer

I had the honor of working with Chad The Developer for nearly two years. Yes, Chad THE Developer. His legend will live on as his last day working at the Joplin office is today. Memorable moments of Chad include:

Chad does not copy and paste code. He will re-type code in because he has been bitten by copy and paste so many times. I’ll never forget the day I was sitting next to Chad and watching him meticulously type, character for character, a method into his class that was displaying on his second monitor. I said, “Dude, what are you doing?!” Everyone around us started laughing. They knew exactly what Chad was doing.

Wireless power. Chad was evangelizing an incredible new invention he just heard about to everyone at the office. No one believed him. I’ve been told (since I didn’t work there at the time this happened) that Chad said you would be able to get wireless extension cords at Radio Shack in the not so distant future. I don’t know about wireless extension cords, but it appears Chad has the last laugh as wireless power is definitely real, no matter how funny it sounds.

“My integration tests won’t run.” This is a legend to me. I wasn’t there to experience this one, but there are a number of people who witnessed this one a few times. Why wouldn’t Chad’s integration tests run? Good question. Apparently, it helps to have WebLogic started when your integration tests depend on WebLogic in order to run.

Chad The Developer moonlighting on the set of Miami Vice.It takes a very confident man to wear white Don Johnson, Miami Vice style pants to the office. Chad did this not that long ago after returning from his vacation in Mexico. Apparently, he hadn’t left the spirit of the beach behind. I remember seeing Chad walk past my desk in his ever so stylish white pants. Out of shock and instinct I called out, “Hey, Panama Jack.” The best part is that Chad turned around immediately. It was as if my words brought him back to reality. He was no longer strolling the beach with a Corona. He was back at work. He proudly told me that he wore those pants all the time while vacationing in Mexico. I don’t believe he’s worn them to work ever since.

Hot Pockets. When I first started working at the Joplin office I could’ve swore Chad was on a Hot Pocket diet. I thought maybe he was some sort of Hot Pocket version of Jared, the Subway guy. I haven’t seen Chad tear into a Hot Pocket in quite some time. I think it has something to do with my virally spreading the video clip of Jim Gaffigan’s stand up routine on Hot Pockets. I had everyone watching that video clip, where Gaffigan makes fun of Hot Pockets and makes us all laugh in the process. One day, after seeing that video for probably the 20th time, Chad turned around to all of us in the room and vigorously defended his beloved Hot Pockets. Chad couldn’t understand what Jim Gaffigan could possibly have against such a tasty treat.

Hot Pockets!

Chad is a good guy. He’s a good developer too. I wouldn’t give him such a hard time in this post if I didn’t think very highly of him. I wish him the best of luck at his next job.


I was originally going to write a post on enterprise software. The gist of it was going to be: Why does enterprise software tend to suck in general? It’s not a new observation, nor a particularly interesting one, so I thought about what really bothered me with enterprise software. I think what really bothers me is mediocrity.

Mediocrity: It takes a lot less time and most people won't notice the difference until it's too late.It is easy to remove oneself from the discussion of mediocrity and place the focus on everyone else, but I can’t let myself off the hook that easy. I’ve certainly created more than my fair share of mediocre (or worse!) software. I’ve only put in mediocre effort into any number of tasks over the years. I can probably come up with many arguments to justify my mediocre efforts. I won’t do it. The point is not to justify the behavior but to examine why it happens and take action.

This week at work seemed to be one invite after another to perform mediocre work. Tasks needed to get done but it was difficult to get excited about them. Situations like these often get my checklist approach. Don’t get me wrong, checklists are not bad. But, when I get into “checklist mode”, it typically means I’m trying to make myself feel as though I’m accomplishing something even when I’m not particularly proud of the work. Sometimes there are things you just have to do. You can only change so much at one time and the changes that have to wait their turn often result in falling into that category of things that have to get done but whose quality, creativity, and inspiration will suffer as a result.

The work week ended with learning about my official responsibilities as a career counselor. I have seven people assigned to me that I’m responsible for serving as their career counselor. I’m there to listen, provide coaching, and do my part to help further each individual’s career within the company. I’d like to think that’s the approach I take regardless of whether I’m an official career counselor or simply doing my job. That last statement is one that leads me to justify mediocrity when it comes my duties as a career counselor. Telling myself that I already do the job let’s me off the hook in my own mind. I can scoff at the apparent corporate bureaucracy surrounding the career counseling program and get into my “checklist mode”. After all, I already do the job so these new activities are nothing more than overhead, right?

I decided on the way home from work on Friday that I wasn’t going to settle for mediocrity. I wanted to make the career counseling activities meaningful and fun for everyone involved. I decided right then that I wasn’t going to fill in the blanks on the career counselor intro email template that was provided. There is nothing inherently wrong with the template, but for me to simply fill in the blanks and send out the emails would certainly not meet my goals of making the career counselor activities meaningful and fun for everyone involved. So I brainstormed a bit and came up with a quick video that I’m sending out to all those I’m a career counselor for. The video isn’t the second coming of Citizen Kane, but it is completely different than the email template and (I hope) sends the message that I’m not just going through the motions; rather I’m committed to the role and the people I’m serving as their career counselor. Plus, I think the video conveys that we can all have some fun along the way. We don’t have to begrudgingly go through this process. We don’t have to settle for mediocrity, even when it can feel justifiable to do so.