Total Perspective Vortex
What really happened to Trillian? Theories abound, but you can see what she's really been up to on this blog. If you're looking for white mice, depressed robots, or the occasional Pan Galactic Gargleblaster you might be better served here:

Otherwise, hello, and welcome.
Mail Trillian here<

Trillian McMillian
Trillian McMillian
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Women, The Internet and You: Tips for Men Who Use Online Dating Sites
Part I, Your Profile and Email

Part II, Selecting a Potential Date

Part III, Your First Date!

Part IV, After the First Date. Now What?

"50 First Dates"

Don't just sit there angry and ranting, do something constructive.
In the words of Patti Smith (all hail Sister Patti): People have the power.
Contact your elected officials.

Don't be passive = get involved = make a difference.
Find Federal Officials
Enter ZIP Code:

or Search by State

Find State Officials
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or Search by State

Contact The Media
Enter ZIP Code:

or Search by State

Words are cool.
The English language is complex, stupid, illogical, confounding, brilliant, beautiful, and fascinating.
Every now and then a word presents itself that typifies all the maddeningly gorgeousness of language. They're the words that give you pause for thought. "Who came up with that word? That's an interesting string of letters." Their beauty doesn't lie in their definition (although that can play a role). It's also not in their onomatopoeia, though that, too, can play a role. Their beauty is in the way their letters combine - the visual poetry of words - and/or the way they sound when spoken. We talk a lot about music we like to hear and art we like to see, so let's all hail the unsung heroes of communication, poetry and life: Words.
Here are some I like. (Not because of their definition.)



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11/17/13 12/1/13 - 12/8/13 12/15/13 - 12/22/13 12/29/13 - 1/5/14 6/29/14 - 7/6/14 9/14/14 - 9/21/14 9/21/14 - 9/28/14 10/12/14 - 10/19/14 11/23/14 - 11/30/14 12/7/14 - 12/14/14 12/28/14 - 1/4/15 1/25/15 - 2/1/15 2/8/15 - 2/15/15 2/22/15 - 3/1/15 3/8/15 - 3/15/15 3/15/15 - 3/22/15 3/22/15 - 3/29/15 4/12/15 - 4/19/15 4/19/15 - 4/26/15 5/3/15 - 5/10/15 5/17/15 - 5/24/15 5/24/15 - 5/31/15 6/14/15 - 6/21/15 6/28/15 - 7/5/15 7/5/15 - 7/12/15 7/19/15 - 7/26/15 8/16/15 - 8/23/15 11/6/16 - 11/13/16 6/24/18 - 7/1/18

Highlights from the Archives. Some favorite Trillian moments.

Void, Of Course: Eliminating Expectations and Emotions for a Better Way of Life

200i: iPodyssey

Macs Are from Venus, Windows is from Mars Can a relationship survive across platform barriers?
Jerking Off

Get A Job

Office Church Ladies: A Fieldguide

'Cause I'm a Blonde

True? Honestly? I think not.

A Good Day AND Funyuns?

The Easter Boy

Relationship in the Dumpster

Wedding Dress 4 Sale, Never Worn

Got Friends? Are You Sure? Take This Test

What About Class? Take This Test

A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Far Away, There Was a Really Bad Movie

May Your Alchemical Process be Complete. Rob Roy Recipe

Good Thing She's Not in a Good Mood Very Often (We Knew it Wouldn't Last)

What Do I Have to Do to Put You in this Car Today?

Of Mice and Me (Killer Cat Strikes in Local Woman's Apartment)

Trillian: The Musical (The Holiday Special)

LA Woman (I Love (Hate) LA)

It is my Cultureth
...and it would suit-eth me kindly to speak-eth in such mannered tongue


It's a Little Bit Me, It's a Little Bit You
Blogging a Legacy for Future Generations

Parents Visiting? Use Trillian's Mantra!

Ghosts of Christmas Past: Mod Hair Ken

Caught Blogging by Mom, Boss or Other

2003 Holiday Sho-Lo/Mullet Awards

Crullers, The Beer Store and Other Saintly Places

Come on Out of that Doghouse! It's a Sunshine Day!

"...I had no idea our CEO is actually Paula Abdul in disguise."

Lap Dance of the Cripple

Of Muppets and American Idols
"I said happier place, not crappier place!"

Finally Off Crutches, Trillian is Emancipated

Payless? Trillian? Shoe Confessions

Reality Wednesday: Extremely Local Pub

Reality Wednesday: Backstage Staging Zone (The Sweater Blog)

The Night Secret Agent Man Shot My Dad

To Dream the Impossible Dream: The Office Karaoke Party

Trillian Flies Economy Class (Prisoner, Cell Block H)

Trillian Visits the Village of the Damned, Takes Drugs, Becomes Delusional and Blogs Her Brains Out

Trillian's Parents are Powerless

Striptease for Spiders: A PETA Charity Event (People for the Ethical Treatment of Arachnids)

What's Up with Trillian and the Richard Branson Worship?

"Screw the French and their politics, give me their cheese!"

Mail Trillian here

Trillian's Guide to the Galaxy gives 5 stars to these places in the Universe:
So much more than fun with fonts, this is a daily dose of visual poetry set against a backdrop of historical trivia. (C'mon, how can you not love a site that notes Wolfman Jack's birthday?!)


Alliance for the Great Lakes

Hot, so cool, so cool we're hot.

Ig Nobel Awards

And you think YOU have the worst bridesmaid dress?

Coolest Jewelry in the Universe here (trust Trillian, she knows)

Red Tango

If your boss is an idiot, click here.

Evil Cat Full of Loathing.

Wildlife Works

Detroit Cobras

The Beachwood Reporter is better than not all, but most sex.

Hey! Why not check out some great art and illustration while you're here? Please? It won't hurt and it's free.


Kii Arens

Tim Biskup

Jeff Soto


Get Fuzzy Now!
If you're not getting fuzzy, you should be. All hail Darby Conley. Yes, he's part of the Syndicate. But he's cool.

Who or what is HWNMNBS: (He Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken) Trillian's ex-fiancé. "Issues? What issues?"

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Smart Girls
(A Trillian de-composition, to the tune of Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys)

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

Smart girls ain’t easy to love and they’re above playing games
And they’d rather read a book than subvert themselves
Kafka, Beethoven and foreign movies
And each night alone with her cat
And they won’t understand her and she won’t die young
She’ll probably just wither away

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

A smart girl loves creaky old libraries and lively debates
Exploring the world and art and witty reparteé
Men who don’t know her won’t like her and those who do
Sometimes won’t know how to take her
She’s rarely wrong but in desperation will play dumb
Because men hate that she’s always right

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

Life(?) of Trillian

Friday, November 11, 2011  
I know, I know, every blogger and their mother is posting their Amps at 11 Playlist today. I know. But since I know a thing or two about music deserving (and undeserving) of loudest volume possible I decided it would be almost weird for me to not add my list to the millions of others.

Some are classic (predictable), others might prompt you to do a little auditory research. There are some notable absences. Choices had to be made. Difficult choices. Sophie's Choice type of choices.

To narrow down the selections I imposed a few rules. The song has to have withstood the test of time. So. Any song less than 11 years old will have to wait for the 11/11/2111 Amps at 11 Playlistalooza. That helped the selection process, but not as much as I thought. White Stripes, Arcade Fire, Arctic Monkeys, The Black Keys...sure, when they were out of the listening pool the water was a little more clear, but I was surprised to realize the 11 Years and Older Rule didn't eliminate more contenders. It was then I realized the '80s weren't as musically awful as I remember. Yes, there was a lot of really awful music, but, when it was good it was very, very good. Or at least very, very loud.

And that brought me to my next rule. Loud for the sake of loud doesn't make the list. Sorry Gwar, and Slayer, and Iron Maiden, and Queensryche, and have some qualifying merits, but overall you're kind of all blend into a malaise of loud. (Wanna take bets at how quickly I get h8 mail over that? I give it 23 seconds.) 

Which led to my third rule. Some bands are in a loud league of their own. Loud, but loud with intentions other than LOUDEST GUITAR AND ANGRY SCREAMING GUY IN THE HISTORY OF GUITARS AND ANGY SCREAMING GUYS!!! For instance, The Ramones and The Sex Pistols. No one will argue that they have a good body of qualifying Amps at 11 work. But. They're culturally loud, too. Their anthems aren't just songs you like to play loud, they're been rites of passage for teenagers. So much so that now 14 - 15 year-olds who don't play the Sex Pistols cause parental concern.
"Honey, I'm worried about Madison. She doesn't seem to be at all interested in the Sex Pistols."
"Now, now, darling, she's probably just a late bloomer."
"That's what I thought, too, but the other day I found Sarah Bareilles in our iTunes download list. And you found that Bruno Mars download a couple weeks ago. I think we need to face facts, we've been in denial about this ever since that whole Katy Perry situation last year. We chose to look the other way but now we need admit that Madison has a problem and we need to do something about it soon or she'll fall so far behind she'll never be able to catch up. I think we should reset her iPod."
"Whoa, whoa, wait a minute, don't you think that's going a bit too far? If we start looking at her iPod she's going to think we don't trust her and she'll resent us."
"Do have any better ideas? She's going to be 16 in four months. She should be listening to the Sex Pistols by now. Or at least Radiohead, for crying out loud! Is there one 'Explict' or 'PMRC Warning' in her music collection? I don't think so! Liz told me Max and Chloe started listening to the Sex Pistols in 8th grade."
"Hang on a minute, that seems a little young..."
"Kids are different now, they're savvier, they're into anarchy a lot earlier than when we were growing up."

You get the point. Some bands are more than loud music, they're more than music. And yes, I struggled to define that, too. Wouldn't that make the Clash, Nirvana and Iggy Pop ineligible? See? This is really, really difficult.

One more rule emerged. Loud often means feedback. Velvet Underground, Sonic Youth, Jesus and Mary Chain. I decided that's a subset of Amps at 11 playlisting. So, if the song owes it's loudness primarily to feedback it didn't make this cut. Perhaps on 12/12/12 I'll do a Larsen Effect Playlist. 

So. Rules in place, I did the best I could to come up with choices that embody at least a few loudness factors that invoke the urge to turn the amp to 11. I tried to make it a musically comprehensive list and weighed a lot of different merits before arriving at this list.

And yes, it goes to 11. (But if you're looking for a little hearing loss inspiration, there's a more comprehensive list of my "off the top of my head" choices here.)
  1. Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love, Van Halen Yes, Van Halen is so obvious and predictable it's embarrassing. We're all over the age of 8 and under the age of 65, here, I don't need to explain why it's an Amps at 11 song. Mr. Edward Van Halen. Mr. Diamond David Lee Roth. Both at their best. It's the penultimate Van Halen song, which makes it way too obvious to even mention. But. I have my reasons for including them. First, along with air guitaring, it also invokes air fist pumping. Have you ever, ever, listened to Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love at anything less than a 9 on the volume/amp meter? Yeah. Me either. No one has. When I was in high school there was a rumor about a kid who lived a couple towns over who tried to listen to it at a 3 or 4 setting. (the actual decibel level was different every time the story was told, and the lower the volume setting, the more sinister the story seemed) The story was that the kid kept getting in trouble with his parents for cranking the volume too loud. So he saved up his lawn mowing money to buy a Walkman and decent headphones. But then he got in trouble because his parents said they were a hazard to his health and they couldn't get his attention when he used them. But he still wanted to listen and air guitar to Van Halen, so he did the only thing he could: Listen to them at a volume lower than 7. 7 was the highest volume his parents would allow him to set. (In some versions of the story the dad went so far as to Super Glue a stop/block on the volume/amps sliders so the kid couldn't play anything louder than a 7 unless he broke off the home-made volume stop/block. In other versions of the story he blew the woofer and tweeter on the speakers and his parents wouldn't buy new speakers so even with the volume cranked he only got what little muffled sound the feeble mid-range could convey.) Anyway, the kid played Van Halen at a low volume setting and pretty soon he lost the desire to air guitar. Eventually he stopped punctuating the chorus with fist pumps. Then he stopped hanging out at the 7-11 after school. He started turning in his homework on time. And then someone saw him at the record store in the mall buying a, a, (gulp) Phil Collins tape. (That part of the story changed by teller, too. I heard versions where the music purchase was Elton John, Amy Grant, Will to Power, Little River Band, T'Pau...) Whoever the easy listening artist was, it was always said with that sinister horror story of voice and horrified gasps would ensue. And so, among all the other valid reasons to place them on this list, that horrific suburban legend solidifies Van Halen's place in my Amps at 11 heart and on my list. Plus, c'mon, admit it, you love this song. And you love it loud. It's universal. It's transcendent. Sure, Imagine reduces people the world over to tears. But Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love inspires people the world over to crank the volume/amps as high as they'll go, pick up air guitars and scream to no one in particular, "Ain't talkin' 'bout LOVE!!!" And I submit to you, which is the greater feat? Tears or air guitars? Thought so. Told you.
  2. My Generation, The Who Do I really need to explain this choice? I triple dog dare you to attempt to listen to this with volume/amps set below 9. (I heard about a guy who tried to listen to My Generation at a low volume and Keith Moon's ghost crashed through the front window, turned up the volume and ripped off the volume knob on the stereo then threw a lamp into the television and then puked afterlife goo all over the living room rug.)
  3. Beauty and the Beast, Bowie I took this song on and off my list several times before I settled on placing it at #3, primarily for Fripp's scratchy on-the-verge-of-mad-scientist guitar work, precursor of true mad-science-guitarmanship that followed on Scary Monsters (also an Amps at 11 song). Heroes is obviously an incredible body of work and many of the songs are best played loud. But. Bowie isn't generally an Amps at 11 guy. I love him, but, I don't "need" to crank him loud to be one with him his music. (I find I prefer Ziggy at a lower volume, it feels more story-tellerish at a lower volume. Ditto Heathen.) So this was a tough call for me. If this were an Amps at 20 list there would have been no question, he'd be on without hesitation. But, for sentimental reasons, deep affection, solid musicianship and vocal/guitar work, and gosh darn it, we just like him, I chose to add him. Once that decision was made, Heroes was the only real album choice. But the song choice was a tough call. Another Sophie's Choice. Beauty and the Beast only barely edged out Heroes. The chanthem choruses were ultimately the decision-maker. "Something in the night, something in the day, nothing is wrong but darling something's in the way...Nothing will corrupt us, nothing will compete, thank God Heaven left us tanding on our feet" and then the maniacal "My, my!" I dunno. And it's that inexplicable something that sealed the Amps at 11 deal for me. If you can't explain it, if it just "is," then it deserves a place on the list.
  4. She Sells Sanctuary, The Cult I'm gonna get a lotta guff for this one. But. Guff be damned, I like The Cult. And I like this song. And I like it loud. Real loud. Really, really, really loud. From the intro to the fade out, it's one big, brilliant, loud, amp fest. Like Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love, She Sells Sanctuary is an obvious and predictable choice (if not She Sells Sanctuary, then Love Removal Machine). But every year older this song gets, the better it sounds. And even though the songs are lyrically thin with inane titles (if you never understood all of what Ian Astbury is singing, trust me, you're not missing much, "Oh, the Texas sun, makes my back burn...and the world, the world turns around, and the world, the world drags me down." That's pretty much the lyrical gist of the entire song) they're so powerfully sung the content doesn't really matter. This dude sings so forcefully and intensely that apparently that Texas sun really made his back burn and he wants the entire galaxy to know about it. And Astbury is backed by not just loud, but loud and interesting guitarwork of Billy Duffy. Like My Generation, I triple dog dare you to try to not play this song loud. Real loud. Part of the reason it made the cut is that it's also guilty of earworming anyone who hears even just a few bars of it.
  5. London Calling, Clash This is a tough call. Along with AC/DC and the Pixies, almost every song recorded by them is an Amps at 11 Song, so how does one choose just one? My top contenders were Straight to Hell (the intro is a top volume must), Clampdown, Career Opportunities, Radio Clash, and Should I Stay or Should I Go, but I'm going with London Calling because of the scream-along-with-Joe howling bits and the apocalyptic anger-ridden lyrics. And there are personal sentimental reasons. I spent most of my teenage years riding/driving around a very small town in my parent's or a friend's parent's car drinking Slurpees® and screaming along with this song cranked at top volume when we were allegedly at the library at SAT study group. The irony of dorky suburban girls in braces, sneakers and Timex watches blowing off studying for college entrance exams in order to listen to the Clash was not lost on us. Mercifully, in spite of this miscreant behavior, we all managed to earn college-entry-worthy scores on our SATs.
  6. The Passenger, Iggy Pop Iggy has a voice that was born for amps that go to 11. Like bagpipes, even when you listen to him at a low volume he's loud. I chose The Passenger because it's a brilliant piece of poetry and because of the post-Stooges, um, "maturity" of Iggy's voice throughout all of Lust for Life. I also chose it because of the fantastic guitar work on The Passenger. (Trivia moment: Bowie does backing vocals.) And I chose it because it's a quintessential road trip song, and something about road trips brings out the amps at 11 desire in me (and a lot of other people). Many a dark lonely roads in the middle of night have seen me slicing through the miles with me and Iggy singing, "I am the passenger, and I ride and I ride, la la la la la lala la laaaaah." Even when I start out listening at a lower volume when the last refrains are playing I notice the volume has somehow been turned up. Way up.
  7. Money Talks, AC/DC It was only a matter of how to choose just one AC/DC song. This is the ultimate Sophie's Choice of Amps at 11 playlisting. Their entire catalog is Amps at 11. So I went with the one that most often puts me at risk of a disturbing the peace citation. Which one best represents my Amps at 11ness? Long Way to the Top (if You Want to Rock and Roll) was tied for Money Talks. Bagpipes are loud. There's no possible way to play bagpipes quietly. Or listen to them quietly. Therefore, because Long Way to the Top contains bagpipe solos (plural) by default it should land a spot on any Amps at 11 list. And, like ?'s organ use, the unconventionality of the instrument in a hard rocking song could secure that position. See? I'm making a case for Long Way to the Top and not my final choice, Money Talks. This speaks to the Sophie's Choice nature of the choosing the right AC/DC song for this list. I'm going with Money Talks because the vocals are slightly stronger and the chorus begs to be yelled. "C'mon, c'mon, love me for the money, c'mon, c'mon, listen to the money talk!" Yeah, good times.
  8. Sex on Wheels, My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult Six words, screamsung at lungs at 11, "Hard body Motor City, LOVE LIFE!!!!" Then add the screeching tire intro, the blaring horn bridges and did I scream, "HARD BODY MOTOR CITY LOVE LIFE!!!" loud enough? This is another staple of my road trips. But it's more than that. It's banal and sexy and dirty and funny and loud, loud, loud, LOUD and I love it and I love it loud. 
  9. Creep, Radiohead Do I really need to explain or justify this one? The only surprise (to me) is that this song is (well) over 11 years old. Holy what the Hell am I doin' here, where did those years go? Creep passes all the Amps at 11 litmus tests and makes up a few of its own.
  10. Smells Like Teen Spirit, Nirvana I know, it's so obvious. And yes. There are "better" Nirvana songs, and louder Nirvana songs, and less obvious Nirvana songs. But. Nothing screams LOUD MUSIC like frustrated, sarcastic, disaffected teenagers and Smells Like Teen Spirit is the international anthem for disaffected sarcasm borne of frustration. And the "Hello, hello, hello, hello, hello, how low" line sounds best with every amp gauge as far up as it will go. And then there is that Most Brilliant 2 Chord Slide in rock guitarmanship. It should be illegal to play it with amps/volume set less than 10. Parents, neighbors, police be damned. 
  11. Planet of Sound, Pixies Of course. Duh. I'm still me. There's no way possible the Pixies wouldn't make the top, the loudest, the 11th spot on my Amps at 11 Playlist. This was another horrible Sophie's Choice choice. Debaser. Gigantic. Lions and Tigers. Velouria. Manta Ray. Gouge Away. Hey! Where is My Mind. Alec Eiffel. Is She Weird. Tame. Monkey Gone to Heaven. Levitate Me., it hurts me to just think about all the choices. And yes, yes, through the decision process I kept hearing Frank screaming "DEBAAAASSSSSER!!!!" and I swear there he said, "DUH, TRILL, DEBAAAASSSSSER!!!" But when it comes to the Pixies there's no obvious choice, no one right choice. I chose Planet of Sound because it's the loudest song I know. And I'm certain I have suffered severe permanent hearing loss from listening to this song through stereo speakers, car speakers, headphones and of course waaaay too close to the stage at many (many) live shows. Planet of Sound inched ahead of the other choices because, well, it's brilliant. My estimation of the most brilliant rock song ever. From the first hard hit note to the abrupt halt at the end, it's loud, it's melodic, there's frenzied guitar lunacy juxtaposed against Frank's oddly measured story-telling choruses that lapse into intense, jarring psychotic verses and then ease straight back into measured story-telling, then there's the wild cacophony of guitar, like three people playing three separate songs, fighting for volume to be heard, and then just when you think your ears and brain can't take anymore, when you're on the edge and on the verge of turning it down or turning it off, one guitar pulls ahead and produces one of the most melodic-but-loud guitar solos in the history of rock. (Yeah, I'm a little overenthusiastic, here, but such is the brilliance of Planet of Sound.) It messes with you, man. This band, these Pixies, they're not like other bands, they're not like other musicians. They do things, man. Weird things. Inexplicable things. Loud things. Good things. Things your parents and the people at American Idol don't want you to know about. Things that will blow your mind. Things that will blow your speakers. And that's why they are my Amps at 11 Champs. 

Plus an extra Amps at 11 in-home experiment.
96 Tears, ? and the Mysterians I know, I know. This seems like an unlikely Amps at 11 song. It may seem like I'm trying too hard or even picking a fight. But. Hear me out (if you can hear me at all). Organs and pop/rock do not usually make good bedfellows. Some people use The Doors as an pro-Wurlitzer in rock argument. That's a thin argument to my ears. I think the organ distracts from Morrison's vocal timbre. And increased volume only further proves the organ does not belong there. Others will hold up a few tracks from Pet Sounds as arguments for the organ, and yes, I agree, Hold On to Your Ego is masterfully arranged and the organ works perfectly and helps make it my favorite Beach Boys song, even, especially, cranked to 11. But. One song does not make a winning argument. Enter ? who brilliantly works some sort of magic with the Wurlitzer on many of his tracks and successfully takes the Wurlitzer out of the super clubs and onto the turntable. Somehow, someway, it just works for ?. His vocal style works perfectly with an organ, neither competes against the other, there's an auditory symbiosis. The "problem" with this is that it's still an organ and it can sound kinda cheesy, even with ?'s gifted vocals and snarly lyrics. (You do know 96 Tears is a song about vindication and revenge, right?) Solution: Amps at 11. If you haven't listened to 96 Tears (or any other ? + Mysterians song) with amps at 11 (or even 10), try it sometime and I think you'll be surprised to hear how hard this song really rocks. Caution, though, because once you do this you will find it difficult to listen to 96 Tears at a low volume.

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    6:01 PM

    Tuesday, November 08, 2011  
    I was going over my resumés for the bazillionth time a few days ago, finessing, fine toothing, all that. In the process I naturally thought not just about the jobs I've held, but also the people with whom I've worked.

    It occurred to me that I have worked with a lot of people. If you count all of my jobs since I started working at age 16 and include colleagues at outside vendors and external resources, my professional associate tally is in the thousands. If all of them were on Linked-in and I connected to all of them it would make for a pretty darned impressive Linked-in home page. I have the potential to be the Ashton Kucher of Linked-in. But because many of those associates and coworkers are from years ago and I don't remember their last names and they certainly wouldn't remember me it would be difficult to contact-request them. And some of them are dead. In fact as I thought about it and took a serious tally, I know that 18 of them are dead. (I should mention that my undergraduate summer job for three summers was at a large corporation that, at the time, had an aging employee base and many of them retired during the course of my three summers there. So, you know, that former coworker death toll is somewhat skewed by that job and the older managerial staff at the summer job.)

    I had a good laugh thinking about the reaction many of those long-ago associates would have when they received my contact request via Linked-in. Some of them might be happy to hear from me. A few of them might be annoyed. Many of them might have to take a moment to think about who I am and how they know me. But all of them would be surprised.

    It would be a modern career version of High Fidelity. Instead of looking up former flames and visiting them in person, I'd contact former coworkers and colleagues on Linked-in. My how times have changed. In 1995 (when the book High Fidelity was written) that sort of thing (stalking) had to be carried out in person or on the phone. Back then, email/Facebook/Twitter et al were just glints in a frisky Al Gore's eye. Now we're all modern and efficient and computery and stalking people you barely know or haven't seen or heard from in years is de regueur. (Thanks, Al Gore, for the internet and all that it's done to advance society.)

    For a while, Linked-in and other professional career based sites were polite, professional online outposts. People kept their behavior in check more so than on Facebook. The no-holds-barred free-for-all behaviors of Facebook and Twitter were not as prevalent on Linked-in. And then the recession got worse. And the job market got even more worse. And a lot of people got really desperate. And even though Linked-in is still "better" than other networking sites, it's not unusual to get contact-requests from people you've never met and have no reason to meet.

    Because I've picked up sporadic freelance/consulting work and odd jobs (very odd jobs) over the past two years I have received some equally sporadic and odd contact requests on Linked-in. So far, I've kept my Linked-in outreach in check. I have to know the person in real life, or at least know the person who suggests the contact, to accept the contact request. I don't post status updates or photos or comments other than referrals, nor do I mention anything that I wouldn't want a hiring manager or CEO to see.

    Basic professional behavior, right? I thought so, too. Until a couple years ago when things started getting really bad in the work-world and really weird on Linked-in. I've seen and read some things on Linked-in that are beyond cringe-worthy. For some people, Facebook seems to have blurred the line between personal and professional life and the appropriate boundaries of both.

    Or maybe I'm just an old, uptight, relic of bygone professional behavior days, a curmudgeon. Maybe these days it's perfectly appropriate and acceptable to post your feelings about people whose political/social/religious/sexual views differ from yours, or what you had to eat last night and which wine you paired with it, or, more staggeringly weird in my eyes, your negative opinions of your former manager or coworkers, for all the world - especially your professional associate world - to read.

    I dunno. It's still unprofessional to me and I'm sticking with my apparently outdated professional code of conduct.

    So I won't be contacting all those long-ago former colleagues, coworkers and associates. But it still makes for a funny "what if" scenario. And that's what had me in fits of giggles.

    "Hi, Marcus! Remember me? We met when you were the photographer at that photoshoot with that band who was supposed to be the next Rolling Stones but then the lead guitarist got a day job and the band broke up when the CDs were being produced and so they were never released? Shame, that, because your photos were great. You really captured the whole intergalactic sensitive singing cowboy from the future concept. Anyhooo, I know it's been a while and it would be great to catch up! - Trill"

    Okay, that's not so out-of-the-realm of professionalism. But. Let's say he does remember me or just chooses to accept my contact request for other reasons. Then what? Now I have someone I haven't seen, spoken with or worked with in 15 years as a professional contact. A little weird and potentially fraught with issues. Like, what if Marcus is on parole, recently released from jail for a little felonious scuffle involving meth, male prostitution and a gun? Sure, I up his professional credibility but what about mine?

    I thought about what these erstwhile contacts would or could mean to me. What do I stand to gain by having them in my contacts?

    Upon reading that, the die-hard believers in Linked-in are screaming "Viva networking! You stand to gain a job!"


    But I notice a lot of people on Linked-in are unemployed or underemployed or clearly miserable at their current jobs and desperately clinging to hope that networking on Linked-in will lead to a ticket out of that miserable job. In all of those cases there's not really a lot of employment or even viable employment contacting to be gained.

    Yes, yes, it's still important and I'm on there and I know people, mostly HR managers, have viewed my profile. Linked-in does add a level of legitimacy to who you are professionally. No one's hired me via Linked-in, but every interview I've had was precipitated by a view of my Linked-in profile from someone in HR at the interviewing company. So yes, it's important, maybe even crucial, to be on Linked-in.

    Back to my former colleague musings.

    As I thought about some of those former workplaces and colleagues I thought about things that happened at those jobs. One common thread emerged: Get-togethers. From after work cocktail gatherings to holiday parties to potlucks in the break room, there have been a lot of social situations that resulted from work. And these social situations were typically borne of some unwritten rule in the universal company handbook which states that personal life events shall be recognized and celebrated at work. Birthdays. Engagements. Weddings. Babies. New homes. Job promotions. Retirements. All of these events are celebrated, usually forcibly, in the office. They become professional obligations. Trust me, I know what happens when you abstain from even just one of these celebrations. Woe to those who dare to decline. You are immediately ostracized from the office community.

    And everyone knows who the decliners are because there's always a list. An envelope where contributions are deposited and the names of contributors are added. Or worse, a pre-listed envelope with everyone's name on it and a check box next to the names. As contributions are made, boxes are checked. The day of the party it's clear who contributed and who did not because there's a list. A list of everyone in the office's name and a check box that's either checked...or not. Everyone knows. Even when there's a designated gift contribution fund manager, and the contributions are kept locked in a desk drawer, that envelope is retrieved and the list is pulled out as contributions are made. The office gossipers know this game well. They either volunteer to be the designated gift contribution fund manager, or, more usually, they wait until the last possible minute to make their contributions so when the list is pulled out they can see who is on the list of contributors or who doesn't have a check-mark next to their name.

    Typically before the party even commences the gossipers have spread their eye-witness account of the contribution list. 

    I once refused to attend an office potluck/engagement party for a guy who worked in a different department - someone I knew only because he once expedited the tax form process for one of my consultants - and I also declined to contribute to the "gift." The suggested donation for the engagement "gift" was $20. I kid you not. $20 per person plus a dish for the potluck for an engagement party. At work. There were at least 50 people on the eVite. That's a $1,000 engagement present (they wanted to get him a home store gift card), oh, and, the potluck had a theme, and the food for the potluck was to fall under the premise of the theme. A themed engagement potluck for a guy at work, a guy I barely knew and, all these years later, couldn't pick out of a line-up.

    But. The afternoon after the themed engagement potluck luncheon went down, without me, I was office enemy #1. It took three months and a sleazy office romance between two other coworkers to knock me into the #2 most gossiped about at work position. I'm not saying it's why left that job, but when I was offered a position at another company I didn't hesitate to accept it. There was no "but gee, I'll miss the gang at work..." hesitation. And yes, there was a going away party for me but it was perfunctory and not very well attended. And there was no gift requiring a gift contribution fund, not even a $25 TGI Fridays giftcard regift. And no potluck. No theme. I got a card signed by the few people felt obligated to attend and copy of one of my projects hastily pressed into one of those cheap plastic frames from Walgreen's. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

    But, prior to that engagement party I attended most (probably all, if memory serves correctly) office "parties" celebrating personal events. I brought in food for the potluck or paid my portion of the tab at the restaurant or bar. I contributed cash for gifts.

    A lot of gifts. A lot of gifts to a lot of people I can barely recall.

    Thousands of dollars to various gift contributions.

    And then it hit me. Linked-in.

    If I want to go out in a big way, really pound in the final nail of my career coffin, I now know exactly how to do it.

    1) Make a list of everyone I've ever known in any professional capacity.
    2) Cross off the ones who didn't get married, have a baby, get a promotion or retire during my professional association with them.
    3) Contact all of the not-crossed-off people on the list via Linked-in.
    4) Lull them into a false sense of professional security by remaining professional and non-invasive on Linked-in. No status updates, no reading suggestions, not even any "way to go" comments for professional achievements. Just very low-profile, professional behavior. 
    5) Once all (or most) contacts have been accepted, post this message:
    "I worked with all of you at some point in my career. During our association you got married, had babies, bought new homes, got promotions or retired. These happy occasions were marked in the office with celebrations. Cakes, lunches at fancy restaurants, drinks after work, potlucks and gifts were bestowed upon you. I contributed my fair share to those gifts. Often much more than my fair share to the unpopular people whose gift contribution fund needed padding, you know who you are, Annie, Peggy, Ed, Opal, Jeanne-Marie and Jean-Luc, Darius, Lizette...I could go on but I won't. You get my point. I ponied up a lot of cash for these celebrations. Because I didn't get married, have a baby, buy a home, get a promotion or retire while we worked together, or because you left the company before I did, you got out of contributing to a gift(s) for me.

    I'm now seeking to rectify this injustice, balance the books. Pay up. I have a PayPal account where the gift contributions will be accepted. Once you complete your transaction a check mark will be placed next to your name on the contribution check-list.

    Minimum contribution amounts will be pre-set, based on how many events I contributed to you. If I contributed to multiple gifts during our work association your minimum contribution will be proportionally higher. For instance, Melinda and James, I pitched in for multiple gifts for you, two weddings and three baby shower gifts for each of you, plus going away parties/presents. So you each owe me for two wedding gifts and three baby shower gifts as well as going away gifts. And Melinda, I made the cake for your second office baby shower, which we all know is going the extra pot-luck mile, and it also meant that I had to take a taxi to work that day in order to get your cake safely to the office, so, you can pitch in cab fare, too."

    I know, I know. It's a brilliant plan. I'd be a modern-day folk hero. I'm sure I'd have a lot of supporters. People who've been in my situation. The situation of constantly opening their wallets for gift contributions for office celebrations while never being on the receiving end of those contributions.


    Curse those darned professional ethics of mine. Curse my desire to maintain integrity and valor. Curse my lack of balls.

    I won't do it. I can't do it. And really, funny musing as it is, I don't even want to do it.

    Office celebrations and ensuing gift contributions are just professional obligations. You wanna work in an office, you gotta pony up for the office party gift contributions. And don't look back. If you go down the reciprocation road you'll end up harboring a lot of envy and resentment. Useless and ultimately very unhealthy mindsets at work. Just contribute the money, attend the party, take the dish to pass or pitch in to the tab, and then forget about it.

    But you know what would be great? If these people, these former gift-receiving colleagues, had a moment of realization and self-awareness and took it upon themselves to seek me out and acknowledge they came out ahead in the office gift gambit.

    "Hi Trill! Long time no hear! I hope things are good with you. You know what? I was thinking about you the other day and I realized that when we worked together you contributed to wedding and baby shower gifts for me. And you organized the going away party when I quit. And I never got the chance to reciprocate. Here's $50 for the wedding and baby shower presents plus an extra $10 for organizing my 'I quit' party."

    That's the movement I'd like to start. It's not about the money. Just some acknowledgement that they realize the balance is off, that they unwittingly came out ahead in the celebrations at work department. Just a few words of gratitude and recognition of this fact would be hugely appreciated by all the people who gave up a night at the movies in order to contribute to an office gift and never received a gift for their special personal occasion in return.

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    12:30 PM

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