Sunday, December 31, 2006

Survived another... can I say Christmas on the internet?

It's funny how everyone was just dancing around saying "Merry Christmas" this year. I signed many of my year-end-greeting-cards "Have a very merry" before I realized it had become a hip saying this year. That personally offended me as the kinda person who really hates trendy sayings. Next year I'm writing Merry Christmas. As if anyone would REALLY be offended, Jew, Hindu, Agnostic or Cthulhu Dude by your wishing them a happy 359th day of the year, no matter what it's called. Here's what I say: Call it Federal December Holiday! You see, "Christmas" is defined by our government as the 25th day of December and labeled an official national holiday meaning there is no mail & all government offices happen to be closed. It's the only one we get in December & they tried pretty hard to give us one day off per month back when they started handing out holidays. So it's a technical term to say "Happy Federal December Holiday!" Just like "Obese" is just a technical way to say Fatty and NOBODY gets upset by that word. Think old Kris Kringle, ole Donder Thighs himself would take umbrage? Nuh-uh! So I waggle my mouse as I type out a blight wishing a Joyous FeDecHol to y'all & to all a good night!

Monday, October 30, 2006

What time is it?

So I woke up this morning having set (most of) the clocks back an hour for the switch back to Daylight Standard Time (IE, the time the rest of the world has been using since the first person noticed that the sun comes and goes on a kind of a pattern). The first thing I noticed was that the two alarm clocks in the bedroom (His/Hers) read 7:10 & 6:10 respectively. These two clocks claim to be Atomic Clock Radio Signal Receiving Clocks that never need setting as they glean the magic of time from radio signals and set themselves. That's great except (as we learned last year) hers, when resetting to DST also resets the timezone to the default central time zone, so it was actually 7:10 not 6:10 and she was an hour late. To complicate matters, Verizon Wireless in it's infinite wisdom, hadn't yet changed back so they said 8:10 making her an hour early. Heather acknowledges that I've taken over the clock setting/maintaining job in the household. I pride myself on be punctual. This is an unrealistic self-image though as I'm only actually punctual about half the time even though I have a clock (or two or three) in every room to make certain I know what time it is. At one time I even made a study of how far people set their clocks ahead. It was called The Dalton Difference. So you can guess that it's extremely frustrating that I DON'T KNOW WHAT TIME IT IS! Adding to the fun, there is the "Energy Policy Act of 2005" that extends Daylight Saving Time by two weeks. OMG! Does that go into effect this year? Was the news lady on the radio wrong and only Verizon correct? To set matters straight I did what any red blooded American would do. I hit the internet and checked both CNN & FoxNews. If THEY agree then it must be true. I learned that we did "Fall Back" an hour at 2 AM this morning and it is indeed 7:10. Besides Heather being late for her class (yeah, on a Sunday. That's continuing education for ya.) it was crucial that I knew just what time it was because if I turned on the TV this afternoon and found out that I missed an hour of Football, I'd have to be quite upset. Now, to go and finish setting all of the clocks:

Kitchen Clock - Atomic. Sets itself (and is used as the reference point for all other clocks in the household)
Rice Cooker clock - for setting the timer.
Microwave clock - for knowing how long your forgotten quiche has been sitting in there.
Stereo clock - It has a display so they felt the need to add a clock.
VCR clock - For timed recordings. It doesn't even display, but it's in there!
DVD player clock - Again for timed recordings, but this one does display.
Luxury Bathroom clock - So Heather knows how early she is in the morning.
Utility Bathroom clock - So Eric knows how late he is in the morning.
Nightstand 1 clock - Heather's with the broken time zone.
Nightstand 2 clock - Eric's with the "atomic" featured turned off so to be correctly in sync with other atomic clocks.
Wrist watch clock - *NIU, needs batteries.
Four PC clocks - Set themselves back an hour automatically based on this being the last Sunday in October. What will happen NEXT year?
Den clock - Tells me it's friggin' late and I need to get off of the computer and go to bed.
Lock Haven University Mantle clock - Sits in the den under my diploma and chimes on the hour.
Poptarts Gag Alarm clock - Don't send in your box tops for this clock. The hour hand doesn't spin so I really don't know what time it is!
Aquarium Timer - Turns the fishlight on/off at appropriate times.
My Car clock - Which I have to look up in the owners manual to figure out how to change twice a year. So sad.
Heather's Car clock - Which will be correct again if we just wait until March.
Embedded clocks - these are the more annoying ones because you might not remember to get them all until months go by and you're really tempted to just wait until the next switch when they'll be right again. These include, but are not limited to: My MP3 Player, iPod, Digital Camera, Heather's Not -digital Camera, Video Camera, Cable Modem, Router, Printer, Portable-Stereo, Portable-CD Player, Walkman, Stop Watch, Handheld Games, Calculator, Organizer, Spell-checker and both Pedometers.

That's it. I'm going back to bed and not setting an alarm because I don't think the clock knows what time it is either.

Obligatory Links:
Explanation from the US Government concerning Daylight Saving Time
Ok, so what time is it?
A less US-Centric What-time-is-it link
And finally, the current time: Clock

Sunday, October 01, 2006

How I coped with getting married...

When some grooms would be running around getting doing last minute stuff or being social butterflies to cover the stomach butterflies I spent much of my free time the week before the big pig-roast wedding reception sitting in front of my computer pouring through my music catalogues, downloading & editing stuff I didn't have & compiling playlists. The end result was three full CDs split up into Music for to Mingle, Slow Beats for Eats, and Dance Dance Reception. There was also a fourth CD with special songs that we could whip out on request like the Electric Slide or Hokey-Pokey. I threw on a few extra dance songs in case the party ran over (I not so secretly hoped it would). I timed the songs to coincide with when we wanted to have our ceremony, when the food would be served etc & nearly everything cue went off without a hitch. Beauty!

Some back story on our wedding song: Several months ago when Heather & I decided to get married we knew we would need a song & when nothing immediately sprang to mind I queued up all of the songs in my musical collection, hit the Random button and let it play. With over 14 Thousand tracks to choose from the computer, in its infinite wisdom chose... "Stairway to Heaven". We wouldn't be the first to use it in a wedding, but... no thanks. We ended up choosing"Road to Nowhere" by the Talking Heads not so much for the lyrics (see below), but for the bouncy fun of it all. This road that we are on is going nowhere, but we're on the road and we are going t enjoy the scenery, the ups, the downs & most off all, the bumperstickers along the way. I'm feelin' Ok this morning & you know, we're on a road to paradise, here we go... here we go.

To be honest , my favorite part of the editing process was going through all of the songs that didn't make the cut, were really inappropriate for a wedding or are just to cheesy to actually use... and splicing them into one long montage of musical mayhem. Just for fun, I added extra cow-bell to several of the songs and overlaid the famous "Mawidge!" audio from the Princess Bride. Wanna guess what song I chose to mix with the movie audio? Why, Stairway to Heaven of course! Take a listen... without fear of lawsuit, I now brazenly post several seconds of a dozen or so songs mixed together with fun sound bytes. Enjoy!

Click to listen to or download Eric & Heather's Rejected Wedding Songs Medley!

"Road to Nowhere" - Talking Heads - From their 1987 Album "Little Creatures" (We used the version from their greatest hits album "Sand in the Vasoline")

WELL WE KNOW WHERE WE'RE GOIN' BUT WE DON'T KNOW WHERE WE'VE BEEN AND WE KNOW WHAT WE'RE KNOWIN' BUT WE CAN'T SAY WHAT WE'VE SEEN AND WE'RE NOT LITTLE CHILDREN AND WE KNOW WHAT WE WANT AND THE FUTURE IS CERTAIN GIVE US TIME TO WORK IT OUT We're on a road to nowhere Come on inside Takin' that ride to nowhere We'll take that ride I'm feelin' okay this mornin' And you know, We're on the road to paradise Here we go, here we go. We're on a ride to nowhere Come on inside. Takin' that ride to nowhere We'll take that ride. Maybe you wonder where you are I don't care Here is where time is on our side Take you there...take you there. We're on a road to nowhere (Heh! Ha!) We're on a road to nowhere (Ha! Ha!) We're on a road to nowhere (Ha! Hah! Wooo!) There's a city in my mind Come along and take that ride and it's all right, baby, it's all right. And it's very far away But it's growing day by day And it's all right, baby, it's all right.

Would you like to come along To help me sing this song And it's all right, baby, it's all right. They can tell you what to do

But they'll make a fool of you And it's all right, baby, it's all right. [repeat last 4 stanzas, with feeling] We're on a road to nowhere (Hey!) We're on a road to nowhere (Heeeaaaah!) We're on a road to nowhere (HAAAAH! HAAAAAAH!)

We're on a road to nowhere....

Monday, June 05, 2006

At Home on The Internet (Aka @Home.Net)

A metaphore gone berserk - Unabridged & Fully Annotated! 

Imagine that your computer is your home. Never mind for a moment that not even the waifiest supermodel could fit into a laptop or that living in Mac City would look like a scene from THX-1138 (1)

Ok, so your PC is your home and it's the 1980s. There is no internet to speak of.

Your home is very isolated, but very safe. You have no need for curtains in your windows. Not only do you not have to lock your front door - you don't even have a lock on the door! You have to go out if you need anything or want to talk to people.
We jump forward a few years and the Internet in it's infancy is still spelled with a capital I.  It's still mostly a closed system with only a few select groups on any kind of "web". The biggest problem is good natured pranks so the User Name & Password system is used - the first security method is still the most frequently used. E-mail, FTP & Gopher (the precursor to the world wide web) are invented.
Neighbors move in, but they're pretty scarce. They are mute, toothless creatures that are basically harmless. Occasionally they stop by unexpectedly. Sometimes they hunker on your porch and, although they don't steal it, they read your newspaper without asking.
We jump forward a few more years and the internet has begun taking it's first steps. Hackers are still a thing of the future. Most of the "security breaches" are just kids doing what kids do and exploring where they are forbidden. Tools are commonly available to snoop out other people's systems but "attacks" are rarely malicious. System administrators are born to erect the first restrictions on what goes in/out of the system. This is mostly to prevent unsolicited Finger, RUser, Telnet, Ftp & SMTP requests. The Computer Virus at large is born.
You now have lots of neighbors and they just drop by whenever they feel like it and are able to spy on you through your completely translucent glass windows. This prompts you to put up curtains & blinds to keep out spying eyes. The neighbors have evolved into sentient beings. If you catch them drinking your milk, it's best to toss it out or risk a nasty virus.
A year or two later the internet matures to a full blown child. The World Wide Web has become something worth using. Usenet Newsgroups are a great place to waste hours & download pictures & people gather on IRC to chat. Email has become faster and easier to use as more people adopt it. All this activity creates a need for System Administrators as attacks are now big problems that can cause big damage to companies & schools relying on email & internal networks. Viruses are still mostly spread through shared diskettes, but sending of small executables through email has become a problem. Anti-Virus companies start springing up.
You're neighborhood is now a community and people are everywhere. Coffee houses and art galleries have sprung up for socialization. All of this society does come at a price however as you have to put up a picket fence and a dead-bolt on your door to keep out the Riff-Raff. Virus infestations are like termites - they can eat your home to nothing. You're forced to pony up for exterminator service if you find a problem. The WWW opens a franchise in town, though it's pretty much just a standard library at this point and only the book club meets there.
Before you know it, the internet has hit those troublesome teen years. AOL has emerged as the dial-up leader making the web available to the lay-person. The internet has exploded into a force to be reckoned with setting up the Internet Bubble as companies throw stupid amounts of money at it. Modems are as fast as they'll ever be but lots of folks have high-speed connections at their office/school. Good thing too as the internet now has Multi-Media and email has HTML - and Spam - and most new viruses spread this way. Instant Messaging has begun to take off. Hackers trade in their black hats for black ties as they're offered jobs working for security firms.
You wake up one day and you're living in a small city.  Life is good, but you really have to be careful now-a-days. The city is full of creatures called newbies and trolls now (in fact they've just about ruined the coffee houses(2)). The criminal element consists of sophisticated scam artists and high-tech spys. You've had to put up a cyclone fence around your property and a chain and peephole on your door because you can't just open up to all of the people that come knocking! Random door to door salesmen have started showing up trying to sell you things you don't want and decreasing your productivity. You now have to pay the exterminator a subscription rate to keep the bugs out. Even so, a "love letter" shows up one day from "Melissa" so you open it. Long story short, she destroys all of your pictures and steals all of your music(3). Fortunately, some nappy cat in the alley is sharing all of his CDs(4). Lots of people meet at the library now and they've added periodicals as well a thriving adult section!
A few years later we have a Young Adult internet to deal with. Most folks are finally surfing with a broadband connection making the internet more fun and more dangerous as Java & Active-x exploits abound. A firewall has become standard for even the home user. The WWW has absorbed most of the other protocols. Chat rooms have succumbed to the Instant Message client while newsgroups are now Internet Forums. "Brick & Mortar" stores open internet only outlets and crash and burn left and right as fortunes are made and lost overnight. Spammers & Anti-virus companies make a mint however. Google pulls ahead in the search engine wars & the first spy-ware is introduced.
Your little city has grown to a giant metropolis. The worst of the criminals are now Super Intelligent Ninjas who are nearly impossible to keep out of your home. Your curtains & shutters over your windows have been replaced with steel bars and you've been forced to install flame throwers creating a wall of fire surrounding the place. The door-to-door salesmen now outnumber the wanted guests 10-1 and you're forced to hire a bouncer. Unfortunately, some important folks get bounced by mistake. The library has put the coffee houses and art galleries out of business and contains a shopping mall and auction house too!  Unfortunately, all of the stores with free stuff close almost immediately... even the ones with the cute sock puppet mascots(5). While at the arcade in the library/mall a vendor gives you a gator-skin wallet for free but you learn later that it secretly spys on your shopping habits and sends you tons of junk mail(6).
By the year 2006 we have a fully matured internet. Every mom & pop shop has a website and the internet has continued to envelope other mediums. It has begun to replace the telephone and full movies, television programs and most music is available at the touch of a button. Spam is controlled by criminal syndicates, search is controlled by Google, and viruses don't bother doing damage anymore - they just take over your PC by remote control. Instant messages are pervasive and filter backwards through to older technologies like the telephone. 98% of all email is Spam.
Everyone is truly part of a worldwide community, but there are many drawbacks. Although instant translation of foreign languages is now common, you can't understand a word that kids are saying in any language as they no longer use vowels, articles or punctuation. "Security" is impossible. No matter how well you guard the property, nothing can keep the seemingly magical bionic aliens out of your house as they can always come right through the Windows - no matter how many patches you put on the screens. You would consider moving except that you hear all new homes come with security systems pre-installed that expire after 60 days leaving you vulnerable and unable to install other security. Door-to-door salesmen outnumber invited guests 100-1 and boggle even the smartest Bayesian bouncer you can hire(7). One day you look at a picture and suddenly there's a Trojan Horse in your living room and the Russian mob owns your house and are using it as a base to attack the neighbors(8). Whenever you call to get anything fixed you always get "Joe" from New Delhi. The library/mall is by far the most popular place to hang out and every kid seems to have their picture, address & turn-ons up for public display in the Social Networking wing. A small company that originally only made the "you are here" directories now runs the post office, coffee houses, cartographer's guild, ad agencies & 8% of the world's wealth.
So what happens as the internet gets older? I would hope it gets wiser and safer, but I doubt it. Here are my predictions in order from "probable" to "geez, I hope not": The internet finishes what it started by assimilating movies and all television. The internet will lose it's tethers when global wireless goes live. A site called "" will simultaneously be the biggest social networking site for teenagers and the biggest porn shop on the web. The demi-god alien overlords that rule cyberspace will begin setting up a real life Matrix where our laptops are plugged into us for energy. All Email communications will cease when spammers knock each others servers offline with the amount of junk they send. Paragraphs will be a thing of the past as attention spans will only be capable of handling one instant message at a time. Larger computer manufacturers will cut out the middle man by pre-installing spyware and trojans. Assuming the "global wireless internet" doesn't SkyNet(9) us into oblivion, everything else will be just like Tron.

NOTE: The above time line is skewed to match my own perceptions of events as they happened. For example, I mention the newbies and trolls along with AOL's rise in the mid to late 90s, though the actuall month that AOLers were unleashed on the internet was Sept. 1993. Coincidentally, that was the year that I started school. =]


(1)THX-1138The Movie
(2) "Eternal September" - When AOLers hit the newsgroups
(3) History of the "Love Letter" Virus
(4) Napster's all to brief history
(5) The spectacular failure
(6) Gator's "E-Wallet" software turns out to be crapware? You get what you paid for.
(7) Definition of "Bayesian" spam filters
(8) Clipart Holes lead to Trojan Horse pc attacks
(9) Terminator movies - SkyNet & the end of the world!

Friday, May 05, 2006

April Fools (Part 2)

This part of the April Fools collection chronicles my Masterpiece. My Pièce de résistance if you will (or wont). I pulled out all of the stops, and my wallet in 2005 and outdid myself. This collection of pranks got executives out of bed early on a Sunday, redirected traffic, required the creation of a shell corporation and received a write up in the local newspaper. It was accomplished in 4 parts, two of which were just distractions and misdirections. All of the fun was sprung during my trip to Pacifica because I had been challenged the year prior by my Mom to no longer pull off any pranks that make people feel bad... or good... or worried... etc. She systematically eliminated most emotions but left me with "Surprise" & "Curiosity". I'll take that challenge, thanks. =]

Part 1 - The Giant Smiling Face of Adlai Stevenson
Setup: In a story by Jay O'Callahanset in 1952, the Author plays a joke on his neighbor, a huge (in all ways) supporter of Eisenhower, by placing huge campaign poster of Adlai Stevenson at the foot of her bed while she slept.
Props: This picture of Stevenson, a sharp pair of scissors & lots of Scotch Tape.
The Hook: The eve of April Fools' Day: the picture, which had been printed to be 3 foot by 4 foot had been disassembled for transit, was quietly reassembled. It was then - oh so quietly - taped to my Mom's bedroom door so she, like the antagonist of in the story, would wake to the Giant Smiling Face of Adlai Stevenson.
The Result: Success! No restricted emotions, a fun surprise & best of all - she thought she was off the hook for any other pranking on April 1st.

Part 2 - W.T.P.
To further throw everyone off the scent of further pranking, a roll of specially printed toilet paper featuring the smiling face & quotes of everyone's favorite current president was installed in the bathroom. This qualifies more as a Gag than a prank, but it's all good on 4/1.

Part 3 - IOCor & MilagraThe logo I made up for IOCor
One of Mom's favorite jogging routes was up on the Milagra Ridge which was a small parcel of semi-protected land surrounded by the standard suburban sprawl typical to the coastal towns south of San Francisco. It'd be a shame if the owners finally sold out to contractors!
Props: A website for our fake Venture Capital group IOCor, some Windows hacking skilz, 3 large sheets of plywood, several cans of spray paint, one heavy hammer, one large nail, two boxes of stencils, a pack of plastic zip-ties and, of course, a half dozen wooden stakes.
Prop Creation: I created the IOCor website (Cached), basing it on a real-life venture capital website. Later I changed the HOST file on my Mom's computer so the URL wouldn't look suspicious. This one required a lots of help from my accomplice Heather. We took a vacation within a vacation to travel up the coast to Mendocino which started off with a trip a trip to the local Home Depot to pick up supplies. The next night, as it was getting dark we found a secluded cul-de-sac & spray painted the plywood white & the tops of the wooden stakes neon-orange. On our way home we finished the task by using the stencils to spray paint the plywood into 3 large signs. We also punched holes in the corners so we could eventually use the zip-ties to hang the signs. Once back in Pacifica Heather & I made a trip to the Ridge in the wee hours of the morning and worked our magic.
The Mark: Several times during our visit I had hinted that I wanted to try to tackle the large hill on top of the Milagra Ridge by jogging it. As the days of our trip started to run out I "decided" that Friday would be our day to tackle the hill. Friday just happened to be April First. That morning we headed up to the Ridge. There's a fence along the road that runs by the Ridge and someone had put up signs all over the fence! They read things like "IOCor on the Rise!", "Progress for Perfection!" & most importantly, "Visit IOCOR.COM!" There were also wooden stakes with orange paint marking out a presumed "boundary" of IOCor's activity. During the jog, I wondered aloud what this IOCor stuff might be and what kind of project they have in mind for the beloved Milagra Ridge? Not quite an hour later as we descended the hill after the jog/hike we saw a fancy car that reeked of excessive money. The signs had been cut down and were nowhere to be seen. Standing next to the ritzy car was a woman talking animatedly on her cell phone. She seemed confused and out of her element. I really don't know what she was doing there, but I remarked at the time that she must be an exec of IOCor! Upon reflection, she might have been the property owner trying to figure out what the heck IOCor was. Because of my HOST file shenanigans, the web address that written on the signs would only work on a computer that had been thusly modified. We were untraceable!
The Reveal: Upon returning to the homestead I used some excuse to get everyone around the computer and typed in the web address, motioned for my Mom to have a seat and stepped back to watch over 2 months of planning, preparation & trespassing come to fruition. I nearly burst a gut trying NOT to laugh as she read the following words:

IOCor's Milagra Ridge
IOCor is proud to be part of the Milagra Ridge Development Conservation & Expansion Project. We plan on changing the face of the ridge, Pacifica and of human nature itself! This shall all be achieved without harming one endangered butterfly or snake for which the ridge provides shelter. There are other ways to make a buck and improve the landscape. Envision an underground observation deck and an aquarium suspended 200 foot above the rich fragrant soils. A landscaper's nightmare will become California's newest "Dream Park". Plans include jogging trails, dog walking areas & of course, non-alcoholic vegetarian cuisine.

The park has the blessing of the National Park Service, The Department of the Interior, The Golden Gate National Recreation Area & Senator Palpatine himself. This stunning plan has spent over month in research & development and will cost roughly $10 - mostly spent on stencils & lumber. Production is slated to begin today, April 1st 2005. Local Pacifica Resident Kathryn Dalton has only recently been made aware of this plan and is most probably very curious to learn more. Unfortunately, she's also been the victim of a horrible hoax perpetrated by her Son & his sweetheart. God, I love this holiday. And with this, my coup de grace, I bow out of the game and officially retire from the prankster business. It's been fun, but I need to quit while I have a head. Good night everybody!

The Fallout: She NEVER suspected me to go this far with a prank, especially since I had already "got her" that morning. The incredible luck of having the "Executive" at the bottom of the hill as we returned was just too priceless although nearly a disaster because if we had arrived at the Ridge just a half hour later the signs would have been gone and the entire prank would have fallen apart. As it was I got cursed out and actually spanked for my efforts. She would have found something heavier to hit me with if she only knew that I wasn't done for the day. . .

Part 4 - Wrapping, but not by Christo
That Christo guy made "Art" by wrapping up some famous buildings in plastic. Bah. *I* Could do that.
Props: 1000 feet of plastic shrink wrap from UHaul.
The Mark: While my Mom was out running errands, Heather and I started wrapping the house with the plastic wrap. It didn't go as far as we would have hoped, but since we had to buy it before traveling across the country and there really wasn't room enough for two of these in our suitcase (Just one had already caused a problem when checking our bags) we did the best we could and partially wrapped the house, but completely wrapped the car.
The Reveal: I had the camcorder rolling when my Mom rolled back up to the house. It had gotten nearly dark by the time she returned and the effect was surreal - the green wrap was the same color as the night. We all had a good laugh. My final prank was a success!
The Fallout: There was a lot of extra traffic on her street the next day as people drove past to see the wrapped house. The local paper published the story & a B&W picture a week later as well! I may one day do this one again as the roll of plastic was only $22 and I'm just DYING to wrap a house while someone is still IN it.

That's all folks! Here's the photo gallery.

The Giant Smiling Face of Adlai Stevenson

IOCor signs and orange wooden stakes

Yeah, the house is pink

April Fools!

April 1st 2005 was my crowning achievement in April First foolery. I've pulled off a few excellent pranks, but last year I out did myself to the point that I was forced into retirement this year. Well, not entirely. Read on for Eric's Prankish History - my favorite April Fools' Day practical jokes & April Fools info, aka the 4/1 uh, 1.

The joker within me was awakened one day in the late 1980s when out of the blue, my father, in full view of his young and impressionable son, dialed up his long term girlfriend and spoke in the driest tones I've ever heard. He told her he had something he needed to say to her. He told her that he was getting back together with his ex-wife. Next he said that this conversation was an April Fools gag and hung up and just looked at me while I was thinking "OMG! Did he just really do that?!". Happy ending: They're still together and Karen went on to become my step mom. I've been thinking about this and I'm not sure Karen was actually on the other end of the line. Oh well, the joke would then be on me and it's still funny!

Paybacks were a bitch for my Father! Here's my first tip for would-be practical jokers: The Written Word is Magic.

Set up: It's my senior year in High School. I'm looking to be college bound, but obviously nervous. What's the worst thing that nerves could do to a kid at that age just weeks before graduation?
Props: Official Reading High School Watermarked Letterhead paper & envelopes (Generously donated by the Guidance Center), The typewriter in my typing class.
The Hook: I typed up an official looking document on official paper, placed it in the official envelope and left it with the mail on April 1st.
The Mark: My envelope was already sitting in between the screen and front doors when the mailman dropped that day's mail through the slot in the screen door. Karen picked up the mail minutes later and leafed through. She walked to the kitchen where I was innocently sipping a drink I had just poured myself. She "filed" the junk mail then saw an official looking envelope addressed to the parent or guardian of Eric Dalton. She cracked it open without telling me what she was reading. To her credit the look on her face never faltered while she read the letter stating that as is my right in the state of Pennsylvania since I am 18 years old I could drop out of school and, in fact, I had done just that and this was my official letter to let the parents know as a courtesy of the schools Guidance Department. The letter went on to state that if the Parent or Guardian had any questions they could call Mr. Manelli at the school, oh and by the way APRIL FOOLS! Gotcha! I remember that Karen took the lords name in vain when she read the last line and I remember that I damn near pissed myself with the suspense while she was reading. The best part was that I never intended her to read it first so this was a happy accident. Karen put the letter onto my Dad's "Rat Pack" of mail to go through. When he came home from work later on I once again took up my trusty spot in the kitchen while Karen told my poor unsuspecting father that there was a letter he should read. Still in his work jacket and hat, the look of "glad to be home" just dropped like a ton of rocks as he read the letter. He actually breathed an audible "Sigh of Relief"© when he read the last line.
The Fallout: His first words to me were "You're lucky!" I saved the letter for many years but it vanished when we moved. Such a shame. Of course now with the internet and everything it's much easier to forge letterheads, but there's no substitute for the real thing - watermark and all!

The next tip I have for my fellow jokersters is this: A Picture is Worth 1000 Words.

Shannon has her hand on my chest!Set up: I have season tickets to the XFL games and I'm sitting in the first row right where the cheerleaders dance on their raised platform. Wouldn't it be sweet if I could sweet-talk one?
Props: My digital photograph editing skills, one late-night email, and some phone book searching for bars in the vicinity of the Meadowlands.
The Hook: I baited my entire family for a few weeks that I intended to hook up with one of the cheerleaders as one had taken a shine to me.
The Mark: Upon returning from the final home game of the NY/NJ Hitmen I wrote out a long email saying how I just had the greatest night of my life. Seems that since it was the last game, my favorite cheerleader Shannon had told a few of us where they hang out after the games. I had done my research and picked a real bar in the area. Of course we went to the bar and of course the whole team was there and of course it was great how I was accepted as one of the guys and even got friendly with Shannon. I even got her phone number! Icing on the cake - someone had a digital camera and took this picture which I attached to the email. I sent the email to everyone I knew.
The Reveal: Later that day I sent another email telling everyone that it was an April Fools prank but several had already written back saying how happy they were for me and how they had forwarded the email to their friends and co-workers . "Check out my son/nephew with the cheerleaders!"
The Fallout: A few laughs and a few angry family members. My aunt Susie was sore at me for quite some time. My Mom too. The moral of the story is that you don't have to make them think something horrible has happened - something good works just as well! The bigger problem was that when I actually started dating a girl named Shannon later in the year nobody believed me. Check my official XFL Page for more shots of Shannon the flexible. By the way - the eventually became a broadway actress.

This brings me to the third law of jokery: People trust anything that looks official.
I've played with this one a lot in my head and I always get into serious trouble in my imagination... but lets just say that someone who happens to have something that looks like a 'security' vest complete with reflective stripes could make things interesting at a wedding reception or parking garage or airport. Of course, you don't have to dress the part, you just have to dress up your props! As the phishing scoundrels could tell you, it's easy to mock up an email that looks just like one that you're used to seeing!
Set up: Every week the volleyball league sends out an email newsletter with some news and this week's schedule.
Props: A hotmail address that's identical to the AOL address that is used to send out the newsletter.
The Hook: April Fools just happened to fall on the day of the week that the newsletter always came out.
The Marks: I knew a half dozen people who were on the newsletter distribution list so I could see firsthand how folks would react. I typed up an email that was for all intents and purposes IDENTICAL to one of the newsletters that we would receive each week. I used the same greeting and closing, the same sentence structure, the same lack of (or excessive!!!) punctuation. I added a recap of the previous week and the correct schedule for this week. I also told everyone that, henceforth, clothing is, in fact, completely optional. It was even discouraged! Moments after I sent it (making sure the person who usually sent it out was in the distribution list) I heard a laugh from across the office and knew my plan had been a success! No reveal was necessary as about 3 hours later, the original newsletter guy sent out his official letter debunking mine.
The Fallout: Apparently, he had been getting phone calls. Excellent!!! There was no nudity that week at the volleyball game. Oh well... maybe I'll try again during Beach Volleyball season.

That's all for this entry. This post is continued in the continuation, aka the part 2, aka 4/1 uh, 2. (Read on)
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