Friday, June 23, 2006

A Reading from the Book of Manion

nd so it came to pass in the land of Penetrode, that a tester of QA created a program. The program compiled and it was good in the eyes of the tester. The program would forbid the tribe of QA from using the Microsoft Notepad. And the tester did send the program forth that she might confirm that Penetrode Enterprise was working in accordance with the strictures set forth by the tribe of Development.

The tester's faith was sorely tested when the program went forth, for the Notepad paid it no heed, and ran freely upon the land, taking notes and such. Much was the wailing of the tribe of developers when the tester cried "Bug!" and "Showstopper!"

Sorely vexed were the developers, for the program was small, and appeared correct. Many were the options they considered, yet denied were they all, for the Notepad ran unhindered.

After three hours and minutes thirty, the tester made a suggestion. "Shall we not seek the help of the most high Lance Manion? For did he not write the book from which we create our programs?"

And the developers waxed most wroth. "No," said they. "For this problem is beyond his ken. It is not given to the writer of words to know these secrets. The problem must be one of dlls. Or possibly kernel interaction. Service Packs maybe? Did you write this on a Japanese machine?"

But the tester had faith, and approached the Manion. "Manion most Lance-tastic, willst thou gaze upon the program and make known to us the flaw?"

And the Manion gazed upon the tester and was pleased by her faith. "Bring unto me the program that I may better understand it."

The tester did bring the program and an offering of Diet Coke. Manion was mightily pleased by the offering, and looked closely upon the program. Thirty seconds later he sent forth the tester to assemble all of the tribes of engineering, including development, QA, and professional services. When the tribes were assembled, Manion did lift the program on high. And Manion did point out that there is an 'a' in the second half of the word Notepad.

And the tester did correct her spelling, and the plague of Notepad was lifted from Penetrode. Cancelled was the bug, and much was the feasting that followed.

This is the word of the Manion.


Monday, June 19, 2006

Live Fire Manion

So for Father's Day I went trap shooting with my father. It's kind of like skeet shooting. You get a shotgun and machines in two little huts fling 3-inch wide orange clay frisbees out into space. You get two shots, one at each frisbee. It sounds hard. In reality, it's even harder. However, the experience taught me the following life lessons:

Loading your shotgun with five shells and emptying the magazine at a fleeing frisbee (and still missing) will get you chastised by the operators of the range.

Missing repeatedly, followed by charging out onto the range and smashing the still intact frisbee with the butt of your shotgun will get you threated with ejection.

Running up to the clay throwing hut, sticking the barrel of your shotgun in the little window and shooting the clay thrower repeatedly at point blank range while screaming "Dodge this you bastard!" will actually get you thrown out.

My shoulder is still bruised technicolor from the recoil, but it was fun.


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A Journey of Personal Discovery

So I went to the Mens room today. This in itself is not an unusual event. I go on a healthy and regular basis. But today as I was standing in front of the urinal, I noticed something. I was unable to locate the fly hole of my boxers. Without the fly hole, the magical pants weasel remains caged in the prison of my shorts. And I can't pee without causing what the commercials refer to as "personal wetness" At least I think that's what they're referring to.

Anyway, there was no cause for immediate alarm. Sometimes the flyhole shifts a little to the left or right. So I started searching. Nada. What about up? Okay, maybe down? Absolutely nothing.

Well, not nothing if you know what I mean, but this isn't a story about the size of my junk. Which is huge. Seriously. Porn-star like. A behemoth of schlong-osity. Just saying.

Anyway, while this is going one, a lawyer from the firm next door took up position at the urninal next to me. He stared fixedly ahead as I continued my search, as I brought both hands to bear, muttering things like "What the hell? It has to be here somewhere!" If you ever want to make a fellow rest room user uncomfortable, start talking to your crotch region when he's standing next to you. His gaze on the wall was so intense I expected the tile to crack. He left in a real hurry without washing his hands.

Still, my search came up empty. And things were beginning to reach critical mass. Finally I grabbed the waist band and pulled it down. And saw the label of my boxers. Yes, I had put my shorts on backwards this morning.

I'm not saying that I should get more sleep, but it's not what I'd call a good sign.

I thought about going into a stall, uh, reversing polarity, but decided against it. I kind of like the extra snugness up front.

Just thought I'd share.


Monday, June 12, 2006

Quelle Surprise!

So one of the many visitors to Mercenary Words, one Tor Kristensen, has shared with me that there is in fact a thriving French gangsta rap scene. So I went out and downloaded "Eclater un type des assedics" by Akhenaton. It's interesting. I'd have expected French gangsta rap to make frequent reference to the Bordeaux market. Sort of a "Latour be frontin, stone cold oakin,' the grapes be chillin' but he be chokin'" something to that effect.

In fact, the example that I found was primarily about putting a beatdown on the welfare office.

Here's a sample lyric -
You do not have a blue left leg
You are not entitled to welfare
And your right testicle is heavier than the left

Nary a brie reference out there! That testicle thing is kind of disturbing, though. Not sure what that's about.

Unfortunately, now I have a mental image of a public service announcement in France - I see images of guys falling over because the "boys" have gotten out of whack. "Don't let testical imbalance happen to you. Get checked today!"

All I know is the first thing I do when I get home is teabagging the scale. I don't want to fall victim to "Testicle imbalance - the silent killer"


Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Nuh Uh!

And so you're all like, "What happened to Lance?" and I'm all like "Hey, I'm right here," and then you're like "But you haven't written anything in like a month, and I'm all, "Well you haven't written anything either," so you start with the "Why should I be writing something for your blog? So I'm like "Yeah, well, you're not the boss of me" and then you go all "Hey, don't go all gettin in my grill," and then I'm "Why don't you make me" and you're "I don't make garbage, I burn it", and then I'm all "Oooh, snap, bitch"

And it goes down hill from there. What I'm saying is, I'll try to resume posting on a regular schedule. Anyone know where I can buy amphetamines?


Friday, May 05, 2006

Lance Manion Shares His Personal Space

As I mentioned yesterday, Penetrode has a very international employee base. It's normally not much of an issue except for weird smells in the microwave. But last week it hit close to home.

We periodically have company-wide meetings in our largest conference room. We've passed the point where there are enough chairs, so we latecomers end up standing in the back of the room.

This is what happened to me. I found a good space in a corner for optimal leaning, and got ready to wait out the meeting. And more people came in after me. Most of these newcomers were Penetrode's Chinese contingent. I've worked with all of them. On a personal level I like them.

Unfortunately, their idea of personal space is anything that isn't actively occupying my body cavities. It was difficult. I like my space. And they were touching me. Touching me! The worst part was that there was lots of space elsewhere else.

I started to sweat. It would be rude (and a little immature) to start shouting "Stop touching me! Get away! " But at the same time, I needed to do something. I tried moving further into my corner, but they kept close. It was like were huddling for warmth or something.

So I faked a seizure. Sure, it was a little embarrasing to tell the EMT's to "never mind", but still it was worth it. They were touching me!


Monday, April 24, 2006

Snack Pack, Bitches!

I was just in the kitchen here at Penetrode. Someone had purchased a box of "Snack Pack Big Cups". But because it was on its side, I briefly thought it read, "Snack Pack, Bitches!"

And when I double checked, I was deeply disappointed. I think it would be great if there were a product called Snack Pack, Bitches! It would be just a small part of the whole "...,Bitches" line. It could be like Newman's Own, but more ghetto. Instead of Newman's Own Popcorn, we'd have Popcorn, Bitches! But it is not to be. The world isn't ready for Food, Bitches! I am disappointed again.

This incident reminded me of another great disappointment. Pull up a chair and prepare to hear about Jim's tremendous Aliens disappointment.

I was walking through the touristy district between Leicester Square and Picadilly Circus with my roomies, Amandarama and Fightguy. And standing in front of a building were two men dressed as Colonial Marines. Being big fans of the movie Aliens, we walked over to see what was up.

"What's this?" we asked.

"It's a new attraction called Alien War," one of the marines explained. "It uses some of the sets from Aliens and Alien 3. You get to go through and experience the movie first hand."

"Do we get pulse rifles?" I asked, half joking.

"We don't have the permits yet for rifles, but we do have handguns," he replied.

Suddenly, I had an erection like never before. Finally, I would have my dream of locking, loading, and handing out xenomorph ass on a personal basis. In my mind I was already warming up my favorite lines, "Let's rock!" "Yeah you want some of this? Yeah? You too?" and "They mostly come out at night. Mostly."

And yet, before I whipped anything out (wallet or otherwise) I knew I had to make sure. Somehow it seemed too good to be true. And also likely to result in the deaths of hundreds of customers.

"So," I asked, hoping against hope, "If we buy tickets, you'll give each of us a handgun with live ammunition and let us blast away at Aliens?"

"Oh, no!" Said the marine, "We use blanks..."

Blanks, I thought. Well, that's probably a lot safer. It might still be worth doing...

And then the other marine chimed in, "...and only the actors get to handle the guns. Participants play the role of colonists."

I was crushed. Colonists? Colonist makes the role of red shirt look like a good career decision. I didn't want to be a colonist! I wanted scream epithets while blindly firing a machine gun and practicing appalling gun safety.

So we left. Sadder but wiser. What kind of world is this where tourist attractions don't involve live ammunition and handguns? Answer - a pretty damn depressing place. And I can't even drown my sorrows in Beer, Bitches!


Sunday, April 16, 2006

Spawn of Manion

4/14/06, Quinn Mackenna Manion was born. She's 7 lbs 4 oz, 20 inches long, and as deadly as she is beautiful.


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Altitude Sickness, or "I'm pretty sure that squid's not real"

Once upon a time I went out to visit Mrs. Manion's family in Colorado. They live near Castle Rock, in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. I'm more of a sea level kind of guy myself.
The trip started poorly. My flight left at 6 AM. Being an idiot, I decided, "You know, if I'm going to have to get up at 3 AM to get to the airport, I'm just going to push through and have an all nighter."

So I was already pretty zonked when the plane touched down in Denver. I compensated by chugging lots of Diet Coke. Unfortunately, the caffeine in Diet Coke, while a stimulant (all hail caffeine), is also a diuretic, so it dries you out.

So what do we have so far?
  • dehydration
  • fatigue
  • reduced O2
So I'm in Colorado, and Mrs. Manion and I decide to visit Seven Falls, pushing us up around 8,000 feet. I'm not feeling real well, but I hate to disappoint, so I press on.

At this point, I'm feeling a woozy, but I'm okay. I think. I start having a conversation with Mrs. Manion, who then says, "Who are you talking to?"

"You," I answer.

"But I didn't say anything," she says.

Then I know that not all is well at Lance Manion HQ. But I don't want to alarm her. So we keep driving around. And out the passenger side window I see a squid with a taco stand. And I think, "I've never been to Colorado. It's entirely possible that they have giant squids that own and operate taco stands." And then I think, "It's also possible that I'm severely fucked up."

So we get to Seven Falls. It's very nice. A network of waterfalls in among the mountains. There are some pictures of us there. I look like like my name should be Smokey McPot. We hang there for a while and get ready to drive home.

Did I mention that I'm the one driving? Well, yeah. It's my rental car. I'm not letting some hallucinations get in my way.

So we drive home. The challenge is figuring what's real and what's not. So I evaluate everything I hear against whether or not it sounds like something that might really happen. I did pretty well. Sure there were some non sequitors, and I ran a few red lights that turned out to be real after all, but that tends to happen with me.

We made it home okay, and I passed out for a while. I still regret not trying the squid tacos though.


Tuesday, April 11, 2006


I'm kind of stoked today. Mercenary Words got a hit from someone in San Dimas, California. That's right! San Dimas, home of Ted "Theodore" Logan and Bill S. Preston, Esquire.

These two fine gentlemen were founding members of one of the all time great rock bands (Wyld Stallyns) and heroes of one of the best 80's comedies, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. Why was it excellent? Not only because it rocked, but because it also featured my favorite Go-Go, Jane Wiedlin. Plus I once scored while playing the Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure soundtrack on my CD player.

So why does a hard-rockin' ass-kickin' guy like Lance Manion (the kind of guy who has what it takes to refer to himself in the third person) enjoy the Go-Go's? Because they partied harder and did more coke by 9 AM than I will by... um... well... anyway, the Go-Go's partied hard and rocked out. And Jane (the one with the green hair on the right) was the cutest of the lot. I was crushed when I saw her on Rock and Roll Jeopardy and it turned out that she was not the sharpest tool in the shed. But still pretty damn perky.

Anyway, the most exotic hit I got before this was some guy from Luxembourg. Luxembourg is the country with the motto "Mir wëlle bleiwe wat mir sinn" - translation - "We ripped our flag off from France." On the plus side, friends of mine tell me that Luxembourg makes some kick-ass beer, so I suppose it balances out.

I'd have given a shout out to my Luxembourgian visitor, but then residents of all the other independent grand duchies in the world would want shout outs, and frankly I don't have that kind of time.

So in conclusion, "San Dimas high school football rules!"


Monday, April 10, 2006

Mental Note

Yes, today it's a Mercenary Words twofer!

Anyway, I listen to music on my headphones a lot at work. The headphones plug directly into my laptop. When I go to a meeting, I put the laptop in sleep mode, unplug the 'phones, and bring it to the meeting.

Anyway, note to self - Remember to shut down the mp3 player before unplugging the 'phones and waking up the computer. Forgetting to do this results in the executive committee hearing the tail end of Travis Tritt's "Here's a Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares)" at maximum volume.

FYI, the executive committee is more of an adult contemporary crowd. If only I had some Sarah Maclachlan. Sad.


Lance in Translation

So today I've been working the translation of my books. It sounds all glamorous. "Hey, Lance, we'd like to translate your books in Japanese!"

If anyone ever gives you the choice between translation and being repeatedly punched in the nut sack (female readers will have to use their imaginations here), take the nut punching.

Seriously. There are few things more painful that going through over 1000 pages of documentation sorting out the little changes (ooh! I added a / on page 26) from the stuff that doesn't matter (like page numbers changing). There are some tools that can automate things, but it's painful no matter how you cut it.

All I know is now I've at least got justification for drinking heavily.


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Stench

Okay, so I was at a meeting today. I attend a lot of meetings. It's a good way to look busy without actually doing anything.

Anyway, this was a pretty crowded meeting, so we were packed pretty closely. So far so good. And halfway through the meeting, something starts to tickle my nostrils. Then something starts assaulting them.

Yes, someone in the meeting was passing gas. Ripping off a few silent but deadlies. And it was horrible. I'm not sure what goes on in this person's colon, but I doubt it can be explained by normal biochemical processes. It was nasty beyond all possible description. And it didn't stop.

At first I hoped that the air would just clear on its own. But it didn't. My eyes were beginning to tear. I looked around, trying to figure out who had inflicted this stench upon me. No one looked guilty. And the smell just kept getting worse.

I expected some undead creature to emerge from beneath the table or something. It would have explained the green tint in the air. And hideous evisceration was starting to look pretty good.

Eventually the meeting drew to a close. The host asked if there were any questions.

I stood and asked, "Which of you bastards has been blasting farts from the deepest pits of Hell?"

Well, I didn't really. But I wanted to. I really did. I mean come on, how low is that? Farting repeatedly in a crowded room? That's pretty evil even by my standards.


Monday, March 27, 2006

Traduzca el Manion

My musical tastes, as I'm sure you know, are pretty broad. For example, today I'm listening to Mexican gangsta rap. Specifically, Si Senor, by Control Machete, off their album Solo Para Fanaticos.

Unfortunately, I took French in high school and college. (Who here wants to discuss proto-feminism in the works of Marguerite Duras? You know you do!) On the plus side, I can inquire as to the location of your aunt's pen in flawless French (It's on your uncle's bureau). On the down side, there's almost no French gangsta rap. Interessant, n'est-ce pas?

So when I'm filled with the overwhelming urge to know what I'm rapping along to, I have to track down the lyrics and feed them into Babelfish. And this is what I get.

"It tells me that one feels,
Tell me that one feels
Tell me that the sweat in the forehead feels
Tell me that it feels,
Tell me if you have a feeling
Tell me that the sweat in the forehead feels"

It's interesting, because I understand all of the individual words, and yet the final product might as well still be in Spanish. Sometimes that's the way it shakes down here at Mercenary Words.

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