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Archive for November, 2010


Back when I had my own blog instead of this wild and crazy four-pronged one, I wrote a post about a prank I had played on a co-worker of mine named Scott.  The story ended with him promising some sort of payback, and I didn’t doubt his vow’s sincerity.  However, I was not dissuaded enough from trying to get him again less than a year after that glorious tomfoolery.  Why would I do that?  For two reasons: First, he still deserves to be pranked every once in a while and no one else was doing it.  Second, he probably didn’t think I’d have to balls to pull something else off before he’d had a chance to pay me back for the first trick.  Well, balls I have.

I went back to www.thinkgeek.com (where I found the first gizmo) and saw something much better than I ever could’ve imagined.  It was called the Phantom Keystroker V2, and I couldn’t purchase it fast enough.  Here’s part of the description:

The Keystroker emulates a keyboard and mouse and periodically makes random mouse movements, toggles caps-lock and types out odd garbage text and phrases. Switches on the side allow you to choose between keyboard garbage typing, caps lock-toggle, annoying mouse movements or all three. An adjustment dial sets the duration between “events”. We recommend you don’t set it too frequently so as to extend the agony.

I was all for extending the agony, so when I first put it on Scott’s computer, I had it only on the feature that moved the mouse cursor every 15 minutes.  Realizing that there was potential comedy gold with this prank, I kept a little log of my actions.  Oh yeah, this started in January.

Week of 1/18: I put it on the mouse setting only various times throughout the week before leaving it on permanently.

1/26: Scott just replaced the batteries in his mouse because it’s “acting funny” and “doing a squiggly thing up into the corner.”

3/5: The caps lock is really bothering him. I’ve been alternating the two, but this is the first complaint I’ve heard.  Rob (another co-worker) told him that if it persists, to whack the keyboard against his desk.

 3/9: “See?  There it goes again!  I’m not doing that,” he said as his cursor squiggled up and to the left.  I think a switch back to caps lock is in order.

3/24: The caps lock is driving him crazy again.  I took it out for a few days, but today it was “acting up again.”  “Didn’t you replace the batteries?” I asked.  He only did for the mouse, so he’ll have to do that for the keyboard too now.  Yeah, that should do it.

 At this point, I was thoroughly enjoying the intermittent madness I was creating.  I alternated between the mouse and caps lock, took occasional days off, and made him think several times that the problems had miraculously solved themselves.  At the end of March, I knew I’d be taking two weeks away from the office for the birth of our kick-ass twins, so I took the Phantom Keystroker out of the USB port in the back of his computer.  My mom asked me, “Won’t he be suspicious when he doesn’t have any problems with his computer until right when you come back to the office?”  I said I’d ease him back in gradually to avoid suspicion, and that’s exactly what I did.

5/19: The caps lock was on for a while, but I hadn’t heard anything.  So when he was complaining about his computer being slow, I said, “And it’s doing weird things, right?”  “Yeah, the caps lock keeps coming on and it’s really annoying.”  “That’s weird,” I said.  Then I changed it back to the mouse when he went to the bathroom.  I think it might be time for both of those soon.

That’s my last entry in that log, which you may notice was 6 months ago.  I kept up my shenanigans, but he was just resigned to the fact that it “acted up” every fifteen minutes or so.  Around October, Rob asked me what my eventual endgame was with this prank.  “That’s a good question,” I said.  “I guess I’ll eventually tell him, but I’ll need to really drive him crazy first for a better payoff.  I just need to find the right time to do it.” 

Well friends, I found that time.  Scott announced that he and some family and friends were going on vacation for two weeks an extended Thanksgiving holiday.  “This is it,” I thought, because what better than to do the big reveal before he has two weeks away from me to let his anger dissipate?  When last Friday came, the game was fucking on.  I started big, with both the caps lock coming on and the mouse cursor moving at the same time every ten seconds or so.  Here are the things I heard:

9:58 God damn it!

10:07 God DAMN IT!

10:08 My computer’s fucking freaking out.  The caps lock goes off every five seconds and the cursor’s going everywhere.

10:09 GOD DAMN IT!

10:22 I had to reboot my computer because it was FREAKING OUT.

10:23 It’s just fucking weird.  It used to happen a couple of times a day, and now it does it every 30 seconds.  I just can’t TAKE it anymore.

10:24 There it is again, the fucking caps lock.  I didn’t touch it.  (Rob suggested he really blow into the keyboard.  Hard.)

10:24 It’s…still…doing it.

10:28 (loud blowing sounds)


10:32 See?  Both at the same time.  They didn’t always happen at the same time.  My first step when I get back is to buy a new keyboard and mouse and hope it’s nothing to do with my computer.

10:33 I can’t get through one fucking sentence without the caps lock turning on.  (“Maybe you should type faster,” I suggested.)

10:37 (He went to the bathroom and I took the caps lock off but turned the random typing on.  I also extended the time between “events” a little.)

This is where it really got fun.  He called me and Rob in there and just threw his hands up in the air.  The random typing only worked when in a program that allows you to type, but since he was in his picture folder, it kept beeping at him.  He got new batteries and took the old ones out of his keyboard.  “See that?” he asked, and pointed to the words “Caps Lock On” on his monitor.  “Did you push that button?” I asked innocently.  “THERE ARE NO BATTERIES IN IT!” he exclaimed.  “Then that’s really weird,” I added helpfully.  He left to go to the bathroom again, and I knew he’d be leaving the office shortly and not returning, so it was go time.  I made all three options go off every five seconds and waited for him to come back and for the finale rack of the firecrackers to go off.

“Ok, now it’s really fucked,” I heard from my office.  I went in there and asked what it was doing.  He didn’t need to answer, because the incessant beeping, the almost perpetually-moving cursor, and the notification of the caps lock turning on would’ve been apparent to anyone who walked in there.  I could tell that he was seconds away from turning off his computer and forgetting all about it when Rob and I tried a few last ditch efforts to up the crazy.  “Write me an email about this so I can remember to try to fix it while you’re gone,” Rob said. 

The idea was a good one, since once Scott opened a new email, his computer automatically typed out some garbage sentence.  “What’s that?” we asked.  Before he could answer, the computer typed something else: “I remember the time you spilled water on me.”  “Holy shit,” I said, “I think someone’s hacking into your computer.”  “I think it’s just a virus,” Rob said.  I was in the middle of suggesting he email Rob so it could be scanned for viruses when Scott said he was just going to spend $50 and buy new software himself.  I didn’t want that (because I have a heart somewhere), so I quickly thought of how to end this charade.  “Have you checked all of the connections in the back?” I asked.  Without waiting for an answer, I got down on my hands and knees and reached over to the back of his computer.  “Hey, what’s this?” I asked.  “What’s what?” Scott replied, and I handed him a little black thing that had lived there so peacefully for 10+ months.  He put on his glasses and started to study the object when I said, “Ya know, it kinda looks like this.”  I pulled the Phantom Keystroker box out of my pocket and handed it to him.  One second passed.  Two seconds.  Then the glasses came off and I was met with a look of incredulity the likes of which had never been seen.  He probably called me a fucker or something similar, but it was hard to hear over the explosion of laughter.  Over the course of the next few minutes, I laughed, I taunted, I read the Keystroker’s features off the box, and I may have said the phrase “since January” two or three times.  He stayed pretty quiet, just staring me down and shaking his head in disbelief.  Every once in a while he’d let a smile slip out, probably recounting all of the times I innocently offered advice on how to fix his messed up computer.

I’m not gonna lie, it was wildly entertaining to drive Scott crazy.  Our boss commended me on a job well done.  Scott’s girlfriend texted me to say that she was proud of how well I got him a second time.  I’m sure he’ll forget all about this at some point during his vacation, but he’ll remember every second of my ruse once he gets back into the office and sits down at his computer.  He will get me back this time, and I fully deserve it.  My guard is up though, and I won’t allow a long con to get me like it got him (twice).  At the first sign of something suspicious, I’ll ask myself, “Could Scott be behind this?”  Knowing that he’s not one for subtlety, I think it’s more likely that I’ll go out to my car one day and either find it missing or there but filled with marshmallows.  I’ll keep you all posted.  Happy Thanksgiving.

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A new personal record

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As I write this, it is the evening of November 16th, and I have not yet heard a single Christmas carol. Not one! A few years ago, I heard one on the last day of August and nearly shat myself. But this year, my figurative pants are clean.

On one hand, I think it’s pretty impressive because I know they’re out there being heard by millions of people a day. On the other hand though, I think I have a pretty clear carol-free plan intact (albeit unintentionally). Check it out: in the mornings, I listen to my iPod or sports talk radio. I spend my day largely inside an office that doesn’t pipe in any music, and when I drive home, it’s more of my music and/or sports talk. If I were to go to a mall for lunch or stroll about outside plazas, I’d be opening myself up to the over-the-top carol blasting. The only semi-regular part of my life that leaves me susceptible to these tunes is when I go to the market. I just did that a couple of days ago, and somehow they weren’t playing any song involving snow, reindeer, or jollyhood.

I’m sure my streak will end soon, especially since I’m not purposely avoiding places in which I may hear seasonal music. Even if that day is tomorrow though, I consider fewer than 45 days of Christmas carols a win. Bah humbug?

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A one-sided story

“I thought of something strange today,” I said to my lovely wife last night. That should be enough for her to run and hide, but instead she sat and waited for the continuation. I doubt she expected to hear this: “The right side of my face doesn’t get seen nearly as often as my left.”
She was naturally interested in hearing more about this (as I hope you are), so I continued. “Think about it. When we’re sitting at the kitchen table, you’re to my left. Same with our usual seats on the couch. Same with where we are in bed. And at work, my desk is up against the right wall so if people come up to me, it’s to my left. About the only time my right side really gets any face-time (tee hee) is when I’m driving with you in the car.” “That’s very interesting,” she said, and I’m pretty sure she meant it.
People often talk about their “good sides” (at least in movies and on tv), and if I have one, I sure hope it’s my left. Otherwise I’m doing my overall attractiveness a big disservice.


Mis-airing of grievances

It’s pretty difficult to take an angry work email seriously when it starts with, “This is up-surd!”