Posts Tagged ‘pets’

Rodent Take Over

Posted: March 12, 2011 in Fun, Humour
Tags: , , , ,

By Morgan MacLaren

This post is rated R_18 for humans and R_50 days for mice…

Dear Robyn,

I think you are in serious trouble. I laughed my arse off at your last post about the mice. I hear you still haven’t caught the two that were hiding in your bedroom. This doesn’t bode well because I did some research into mice and there are some alarming statistics for what “two” mice of opposite gender are capable of in their lifetimes… Did you realise:

.

  1. Mice are a bit like, ahem… rabbits… in that they like do house maintenance. (Particularly screwing in lightbulbs*)
  2. Mice have litters of 10 pups on average after a 20 day gestation period
  3. 25 days after the pups are born and have been weaned the females are ready for lightbulb duty again
  4. 50 days after pups are born they themselves are old enough to go to Uni and get up to no good with their own lightbulbs and the other student mice their own age.

This makes for rather an alarming possibility. A population explosion in your bedroom! If we presume that your two mice are a boy called Bertie and a girl called Beatrice and that all litters created are 50% split male and female, I imagine your mice population might unfold something like this over the coming year – remembering that with each generation of pups there is a growing number of partners available:

(And in case you are wondering – yes, I did actually do the math for this! I am not guessing. You can download my calculations and check them with this .xls mice breeding )

Day 0 (The day you lost your two mice)
Our darling little pair, Bertie and Beatrice notice the lights aren’t working in your bedroom and decide to screw in a lightbulb* for you. (Aww, such thoughful guests!)

Day 20
Bertie and Beatrice become the proud parents of 10 skirming “pinkies” called Boris, Benjamin, Bucko, Baldrick, Bartie, Britta, Bronhilda, Berta, Betsy and Brenna (aka “Team 2”)
Population: 12

Day 45
Whatdaya know? That bloody lightbulb blew again. Bertie and Beatrice to the rescue.

Day 65
Bertie and Beatrice become the parents of 10 more little darlings: Curtis, Calvin, Colin, Clayton, Clem, Carla, Crystal, Cybil, Cindy and Cloe (Team 3).
Population 22

Day 70
The 10 “B” named boys and girls from Team 2 reach University age and learn to screw in their own lightbulbs at their student flats (your sock drawers)… (that’s 5 girls and 5 boys with the potential to make 50 kids each litter)

Day 90
Bertie and Beatrice have a romantic evening “celebrating” after the birth of their first 50 new grand children from their “B” Team 2 children (aka Team 10**)
Population 72

Day 110
Bertie and Beatrice spawn Team 4 (Douglas, Dorris, D… oh b*gger the names! Who can keep track of 30 kids?)
Population 82

Day 115
Team 2 make repairs in the student flats again and teach their Team 3 siblings how to do this at the same time.

Day 135
Bertie and Beatrice have a ANOTHER romantic evening “celebrating” the birth of their next 100 grand children from both their “B” and “C” children (Teams 11 and 12).
Population 182

Day 140
Team 10 fix some lightbulbs

Day 155
Bertie and Beatrice create 10 more sproglets called Team 5
Population 192

Day 160
Teams 2-4 have a mass celebration to welcome Team 10’s litter of 250 pups (affectionately called Team 38)
Population 442

Day 180
Bertie and Beatrice go out partying, get pissed and make a boo boo after celebrating the birth of their 150 extra grand children to their kids from Teams 2-4
Population 592

Day 185
Teams 10-12 have a party

Day 200
Bertie and Beatrice obtain 10 new screaming pink things with stinky nappies (Team 6)….
Population 602

Day 205
Teams 2-5 have a great time in the sock drawer and Teams 10-12 relocate to bigger premises in the wardrobe to accomodate their 750 new pups born today (Teams 39-41)!
Population 1’352

Day 210
Team 38 screw in 125 lightbulbs and blow a fuse.

Day 225
Bertie and Beatrice who’ve decided they definitely don’t want any more kids ditch that idea when they see their newest and cutest 200 grand children to Teams 2-5 and decide to make one more litter…
Population 1’552

Day 230
Party at the student flats with lotsa socks flying for Teams 10-15 and 1’250 sprogs are born to Team 38.
Population 2’802

Day 245
Bertie and Beatrice deliver their Team 7 set of 10 sprogs.
Population 2’812

Day 250
Teams 2-6 launch Squeak-Fest in the linen cupboard to mark the opening of a great new nightclub and visit the hospital (the bathroom medicine cabinet) afterwards to visit Teams 10 – 15 and see their 1’500 little ones (Teams 42-47)
Population 4’312

Day 255
Teams 38-41 hold Squeak-A-Thon party at Club Linen

Day 270
Bertie and Beatrice accidentally screw in a lightbulb and Teams 2-6 produce 250 more grand kids (Teams 20-24)
Population 4’562

Day 275
Teams 10-19 find 250 accidental lightbults also but are not put off using them even when greeted with 5’000 new screaming arrivals from Teams 38-41
Population 9’562

Day 290
Bertie and Beatrice decide with the arrival of Team 8 that 80 offspring is more than enough and they’re never doing round the clock feeds and nappies again.
Population 9’572

Day 295
Teams 2-7 are happy to have more sprogs though and hold another party at Linen while 2’500 new sproglets are delivered in the BIG new hospital (the bathroom vanity cupboards) to Teams 10 – 19
Population 12’072

Day 300
Teams 38-47 find the mirror ball in the walk in closet and start a new night club called “Ball” which requires the installation of 1’250 lights, while Team 73 introduce 6’250 future club goer to the world.
Population 18’322

Day 315
Bertie and Beatrice attempt changing a lightbulb with “protection” (the plastic lunch wrap from the kitchen Pharmacy up the hall), Teams 2-7 spawn 300 new members to create Teams 25-30
Population: 18’622

Day 320
750 party-goers boogy at Ball for Teams 10-24 while the hospital in the vanity unit has a catastrophy trying to deliver 12’500 pups for Teams 38-47 all on the same night.
Population 31’122

Day 325
Teams 73-77 mate for the first time. All 6’250 of them. Seriously? Don’t they know what a hassle they are making for the hospital in the future?

Day 335
Bertie and Beatrice get the fright of their lives when they discover the plastic wrap didn’t work and they now have a Team 9!
Population 31’132

Day 340
Teams 2-7 shout Team 8 free drinks at Ball and Teams 10 – 24 spit out 3’750 new pinkies.
Population 34’882

Day 345
All hell breaks loose as Team 38-57 do a bad thing at a club crawl of Linen, Ball and the new Attic Club. Mondo sized Teams 73-77 overload the newly created “Bathtub Hospital” with 31’250 pups making Teams 109-113
Population 66’132

Day 360
A quiet one. Teams 2-8 create 350 new kiddies
Population 66’482

Day 365
Mondo Mayhem. 25’000 pups born to Teams 38-57 making the total population 91’482!!!

So there you have it. If you don’t manage to catch those mice by the end of the year you will have 91’482 little stinky inhabitants in your room!

Of course there is something else to consider here. Generally speaking critters from the same close family don’t mate otherwise you get inbreeding (well, except in some countries….). So either this means a good thing – you won’t have 91,000+ mice in your room, or a bad one – you will and they all have 2 heads, five arms and seven tails!

I wish you and the cat A LOT OF GOOD LUCK!

Morgan 🙂

*
Q: How many mice does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A: Two. But I don’t know how you get them in there!

**
I named the teams in generations:

Team  1              = Bertie and Beatrice
Teams 2-9        = Their own children (litters of 10)
Teams 10-37   = Their grand children (litters of 50)
Teams 38-72   = Their great-grand children (litters of 250)
And so on…. up to Team 113 (litter of 6’250)

Some teams did not produce offspring as they were born less than 70 before the end of the year.

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Dear Morgan,

Thanks for your email asking me 20 questions.   Did you imbibe a bit too much brandy over Christmas?  The reason I’m asking you this as you actually sent me 21 questions, not 20.  I’m worried that something somehow affected your ability to count.  Or did you grow another finger or toe?  It happens you know – some people actually have 6 toes on their feet, or on one foot.  I’m pretty sure you’re like me and count on your fingers and toes!

Anyway – I’ve answered your 21 questions and the answers to them are below.  I look forward to seeing the answers to mine!

1. What was your biggest blonde moment in 2010?
Getting up at 6am thinking I hadn’t turned the water off on the garden.  When I got to the tap, everything was soaked and I was kicking myself for leaving it on for so long, to find that the tap was already off.  It took me another minute to realise it was pouring with rain, and that was the reason why it was so wet.  Then I realised, standing in my PJs at the garden tap, when it was barely light, that I also was being heavily rained upon!  I was too wet to go back to bed!!!

2. Your photography is stunning. What would you advice be to beginners as to how to know when they have a great shot?
Look at the shot carefully, if it can be improved – improve it.  If it can’t be improved, then it’s probably a great shot!  Seriously though, a great shot is often quite flukey.  When all the elements are right, everything is lined up for you, and you happen to get the right angle and perspective.  Other times, when you work at it, you won’t be able to achieve the same result.  It’s a mystery to me!

3. What reaction do you get from people when you tell them you are an atheist?
The biggest reaction at the moment is that I should say ‘non-believer’ because the word ‘atheist’ sounds so horrible.  No matter how I explain that the word ‘atheist’ means ‘non believer’ it makes no difference.  Obviously ‘atheist’ conjures up visions of devil worship and witches in some people’s imaginations.  Most likely because that is what they’ve been told (a case of a christian upbringing or brainwashing) .  The other comment that is made is that I won’t always be an Atheist, and that eventually I’ll  ‘go back into the fold’.  In other words, they believe that somehow I will suddenly start believing in ‘miracles’ rather than ‘coincidences’, or that I’m sitting on the fence and if something happens, I’ll immediately re-convert.  Not a chance!

4. What is something the world would be better off without?
War.  Greed.  Jealousy.   Oil Barons (see 2nd word).  Mobile phones! Anal probing aliens!

5. If you could be a famous person for a day who would it be and why?
Kate Middleton.  Cos I’d like to shag a prince ! lol  Oops – that was ‘snag’.  Honest!

6. How many books did you read last year and which ones do you recommend?
I didn’t indicate ‘year’ in my list, but since March 2009, I’ve read 126 books.  I’ve actually read a few more than that but forgot to update the list!  Still – that’s an average of 2 per week so not actually a bad result.  The book I most recommend is ‘Tears of the Desert’ by Halima Bashir.  Absolutely brilliant.  The reason it’s so good is that I can’t stop thinking about it.  When a book affects you in that way, then you know the writer has achieved something rare and good.  I’d recommend it to anyone.

7. What do you feel are the most amusing aspects of my personality and of yours?
The ability to laugh at ourselves and our quirky personalities.  My most amusing is my competitiveness.  My ability to turn reading into an olympic sport!!  I can’t even help myself.  A friend of mine won’t even play Scrabble with me anymore!!!  Sigh!

Yours is the amusing way your imagination can go wild with marshmallows and elephants.  Whatever you are on, I’d like some !

8. How do you think we (humans) got here (on earth)
Sigh!  Didn’t you know?  You have to ask?  Well, it started with Planet Oxeon (or planet Ox for short).  The inhabitants there were once called shemanhunians.  They lived in utter peace and contentment.  They were only 4 feet tall, and all weighed 300 pounds.  All their food was on trees.  Even a cake tree.  When they mixed the leaves of any tree with water from their lakes, they could change the taste of that water to anything they wanted, depending on the leaf.

One day there was a terrible storm. It raged for two weeks, and when it finally abated, the leaves of all the trees had been stripped bare.  Gradually all the trees started to die.  Terrible food shortages were experienced, and the weakest began to die.

They sent SOS messages in bottles that they threw into the air.  These travelled in tiny worm holes to the outer regions of space.   A kind Minocthican from Planet MXcoen came across the bottle with a message, and sent out a party to Planet Oxeon to see what they could do to help.  The situation was so dire, that in the end it was decided that their planet had to be abandoned.  So Planet Oxeon was evacuated.  Airships were sent down and one by one filled up with Shemanhunians and taken to Planet MXcoen.  Each airship was filled with 400 Shemanhunians.  There were 396 airships altogether.  (MXcoen was a wealthy planet).  Many Shemanhunians chose to stay on their planet choosing death over life somewhere else.

All airships except one made it to MXcoen.  Airship 281 was accidentally sucked into a giant wormhole and deposited in our solar system, where they eventually found Planet Aerth (now spelt Earth because of poor education and mobile phone texting).  The Shemanhunians gradually adapted to life on Earth, grew taller because of better food.  They spread out and populated all the world.  In some countries they have maintained their weight, and in others became healthier and slimmer.  They became known as Humans.

And that is how Humans got to earth!

9.  …and what do you think the purpose of life is?
Purpose of life is to keep improving our lot generation after generation, and to have fun while doing so.  Not sure if this is what happens though!

10. Do you think there are aliens in outer space and if so what might they be like?
See question 8!

11. How would you describe the best way to spend a day?
Exploring new places with a camera, especially where very little people are. As in very few, not little little people!

12. What qualities in people really really really frustrate the hell out of you?
When I see bullying, meanness, oneupmanship, dishonesty, exaggeration, braggarts.

13. What is the most oddball thing (that isn’t true) you have believed in and how did you find out it wasn’t true?
A friend of my brothers came for dinner and told us that the little beetle that eats the hole in macaroni had some sort of virus, and was dying out.  This was affecting the crops and soon there would be a terrible shortage of Macaroni.  I believed him.  In my mind I pictured fields of macaroni with no holes blowing in the wind and little beetles getting fat by eating the out holes inside.

The next day I told my friend about this, while in a elevator full of people.  She laughed (as well as all the other people in the elevator) at my seriousness and earnestness and my emphasis that it was true!  She told me I had been ‘had’. but I didn’t believe her!!!

The problem is that I was about 22yo!!!  I am (still) so gullible!

14. If you could wave a magic wand and make the world perfect, what would it be like?
Everything would be free.  People would help each other because they want to, not for money.  Cars would run on air with no pollution.  Humans would love animals, revere them always.  There would not be a need for religion, people would be good and kind always.  There would be no hatred.  No one would be hurt or disabled, deaf or blind.  If they were, it would only be temporary as there would always be a ‘cure’ on hand.  Water would be clean everywhere.  Everyone would be vegetarian.  The sun would not be dangerous.  You could go freely around the world wherever you wanted.  There would be no borders.  There would be no war.  Without war, wealth could be spent where it was needed, in research development, space exploration, and humanity.

And the most important… everyone would have a burmese cat or 3.

15. What’s something you’ve done you’re really proud of?
I built my own vegetable garden with nails and hammer.  (and wood).  I’ve managed to grow vegetables!  Today I picked ONE brean,two tiny tomatoes, and ONE courgette.  I have ONE carrot left.  Gee – I’m not sure I’ll survive a disaster yet!

16. How important do you think science and reason should be to society?
Incredibly important.  In fact, it stand to reason that this is the one thing that people should base their education and facts on all the time.

17. What scares you (apart from sharks in swimming pools)?
Horror movies.  I won’t watch them.  Gremlins see… My other blogpost

18.  If Kass the cat could suddenly talk what do you think she’d be saying to us?
At the moment, she would be scolding me for going away so often.  She would also probably be telling me how she hunts, and decapitates her baby rabbits, and the reason she does it.  She would tell us about the three nasty magpies that keep dive-bombing her.  Right now she would be telling me that the wind is cold.  She would tell us what time we should go to bed, what food she wants and doesn’t want.  Moan about how bored she is when it rains.  She’s quite an intelligent cat, so she would probably give us her theory of relativity and discuss aliens.  She would probably tell us that Mika was abducted by aliens, and she was too, but after the anal probe how she got away! (Just had to get that in there somehow)!

19. How do you manage to get so many things done in one day (and am always amazed by this)?
By only putting my head in the clouds after they are done!  Lists.  I write lists.  I have them in my computer.  On the bench.  In my head.  I get great satisfaction of crossing things out once they are done.  I also imaginarily pay myself.  I imagine myself getting a salary for the jobs I do around the house.  If I don’t do the vacuuming, I won’t get imaginarily paid.  Works a charm.  Always have had a great imagination.  If I’m too tired, I try and imagine all those things getting done.  The only problem is imagination lets you down time and time again!  I’d like a genie.  Or fairy godmother.  Or George Clooney in a French Maids outfit, complete with fishnet stockings.  He’ll look into my eyes with those gorgeous eyes of his, and say.  “Where do I plug the vacuum cleaner into?”  Sigh!

20. Describe the perfect man and where you get one.
There is no such thing as a perfect man.  Only perfect women!  So you can’t get a perfect man anywhere.  You can try at www.yourperfectman.com What did it tell you?

Server not found?

I rest my case!

Yet www.yourperfectwoman.com will lead you to website where they will be found!

21. What are your aspirations for 2011?

  1. To get Morgan to visit me
  2. To get my foot fixed
  3. To pay off more of my mortgage
  4. To somehow save and get to see my daughter who is living in europe.
  5. To look at selling my car and buying a 4×4 to explore the back and beyond
  6. To keep trying new things photography wise,  and improving my photography.

Cheers
Robyn

Dear Robyn,

Those inventions you came up with in your last blog post are great. The “hand-held machine that would ‘hear’ any conversation then ‘instantly caption’ speech” is an awesome idea. Imagine that, being able to walk into any movie theatre or watch any TV programme without having to worry about whether captions are provided or not. Or see what someone is saying if you can’t quite hear or lipread them. That would solve some really annoying problems if translators were readily available. I am surprised they aren’t already though because as far as I can tell the technology is more or less available now to do this. However, it doesn’t seem to be designed especially for translating entire conversations on portable devices for anyone who wants to have a complete conversation or, if it could also instantly translate one language to another – travellers wanting to chat with people who speak a different language. That said, I don’t see why it couldn’t because the following technology does exist at present:

  • Dragonspeak for iPhone which can be used to convert spoken words into text for sending text messages. Unfortunately looks like it is designed mostly for short messages, not conversations, but the regular PC installation is used for creating entire Word documents.
  • Voice recognition software in cellphones used mainly for controlling functions like “voice dial”.
  • Filtering software such as is already used in your implant to reduce annoying background noise in busy situations. Something you’d probably want the device to do if it is to translate a single conversation in a noisy environment like a cafe.
  • To have a built in mic, a clear screen and portability. All of these things are extremely common on iPhones and other types of cellphones and portable devices.

So really what you are after mainly requires the integration of the above but with the software having a focus on translating long conversations. And to go a step further there are already rough language translators, for example  Google Translate which doesn’t do a bad job. I use it often when I am reading the German newspaper. It’s always close enough to understand the translation even though it is not perfect. It would be enough for travellers to speak to locals without any knowledge of their language and be understood.

I had a look around on the net expecting some complete technology like this to leap out at me that already does what you want but couldn’t find anything easily. But it looks like all the technology to create a more purpose built solution is there so maybe all that is needed is for someone to integrate it all and make a downloadable app for popular phones and devices.

Your animal interpreter machine is a neat idea too. I would love to know exactly what my pets are saying to me also.  Granted, it’s fairly easy for us humans to work out the basics of what Fluffy and Fido are saying already without extra help. We do share basic psychological similarities with animals after all. Fluffy running up to you when you walk in the door, smooching your leg and purring loudly means “hello”. Fido growling loudly while chewing a bone is almost certain to mean “back off buster, this is all mine! Don’t make me add your leg to my collection”. Different animals seem to have little trouble understanding basics either. The cat would understand Fido’s growling also and leave well alone. Mind you, having said we share similarities with animals, if you come running up to me and smooch my leg at the airport or growl at the dinner table I am NOT going to come to Blenheim to visit you!

But not all animal sounds are that easy to interpret unless you are an animal psychologist. My parrot Gibson makes some sounds that I can recognize what they are easily. Squawking grumpily at me when I cover his cage at night means “hey! I haven’t finished watching the tele yet!” and Dave and Harry (my canaries) singing pretty tunes means “hey girls, we’re over here!” But sometimes if I am talking to Gibson he’ll come right up close to my face and purr loudly like a cat (I kid you not). We don’t have a cat and he has never heard one so this must be legitimate bird language. I have no idea what he is saying and I’d love to know! He could be telling me anything, “hey man check this out, I can do cat impersonations” or “hmmm yes, I agree with you totally, Turing Machines would work better with five heads” or “hey honey, want to come back to my place?” (which is a bit disturbing since he says this to Phil also….) But it would be cool if I could find out in a few seconds what he is really saying or tell him something in bird speak. “Gibson, please clean up your cage” would be a good start…

Another thing I’ve actually seriously considered inventing myself before is a portable device you can put on your table in noisy cafes or places that will filter out background noise so you can hear the people you are talking to easily. I personally find it really annoying trying to chat with my friends in cafes when there is loud background music blaring and everyone shouts over it to be heard. Seems to be a really common complaint so I thought of these two solutions.

  1. A directional white or pink noise generator that masks out some of the background noise at a certain radius away from you. Preferably installed in your cellphone so you can take it anywhere, the idea being you just stick it on the corner of the table and it creates a private space for you – like taking your own walls everywhere. This sort of thing is used already in a bigger sizes – namely the fountains that are installed in the middle of shopping centres and food courts are there to cover up competing conversations. When I asked my Dad (an experienced electronics whiz) about this idea he revealed that in the 1970s his company was involved in inventing something like this for office blocks so whole buildings could generate white noise and make areas people could hear each other better in. The idea didn’t catch on at the time unfortunately, but then, new clever ideas often don’t catch on the first time even though they do years later.There might be some problems with this though. Firstly any unit would have to produce a signal of good enough quality to work. Bit of a challenge on a cellphone. And as my Dad points out, our local shopping centre probably got rid of the fountain because it made people run off to the toilet more often and the Centre’s cleaning costs went up! Perhaps that was the reason the technology his company were developing never took off either. Who wants their employees spending the whole day in the bathroom instead of working!
  2. The second idea is reverse phasing. The unit samples background noise a certain distance away from you, reverse phases it and emits the reversed (inside out) signal again. The effect of this is to cancel out sounds altogether so they become silent. Although that sounds like science fiction this is a simple trick we used to use in the recording studio for removing undesirable sounds from recordings (like record crackle, generator sounds from live gigs or to remove the lead vocal from a recording so someone else could sing over the remaining instrumental tracks). Some people have been playing around with this already with the intent of making say, vehicles that are silent. But realistically, who the hell wants to be run over because they didn’t hear the Mac truck coming down the road? People would get used to this and learn to look more carefully, but I’m sure animals would be completely confused. It would also be inconvenient for blind people who navigate by sound. An odd side effect of that could be that if you didn’t produce the reverse phased signal 100% in sync with the original you could get flanging – a sort of strange, out of this world swooshing sound that musicians use deliberately in recordings to make psychodelic effects (e.g. guitars sounding like they are flying past on jet engines.) So, considering live sound might always have a slight delay between sampling and reproduction, this might produce an effect that is either slightly annoying at one extreme or makes people feel like they’ve been teleported back to flower power days and have been smoking something illegal at worst! And even more disconcerting would be that if some of the sampled sound happened to be in the exact same frequency you were talking in it would seem as if your own voice is cutting out! Now that would be freaky!
  3. The third idea is the best of all and comes from my Dad. Obtain some cotton wool, some string and two empty tin cans. Poke two holes in the bottom of the cans and attach string. Then stuff cotton wool in one ear. Now you have the perfect solution. Just hold a can up to the ear without wool, pull string tight and you and your companion can have a private conversation no problem! Damn! I knew the best solutions were the simplest!

Somehow I don’t know that this invention is very far away. The ideas I’ve put there use standard audio physics that is very commonly understood by sound engineers. But there are also inventions with hypersonic sound (or rather, producing sound using ultrasound). In the video at the end of my post, Woody Norris shows off his invention which places sound wherever you want it and can be used for applications like directional advertising in supermarkets (you hear an ad only when you are standing directly in front of it), or, as he notes, the military could use it to create the sound of fake troop movements in places there are no troops! He also has inventions for cancelling out sound like I’ve just mentioned and came up with an application I never thought off – cancelling out the sound of your partner snoring! Now that is something I could do with!

Morgan 🙂

Video of Woody Norris talking at TED about Hypersonic Sound

Image by Per Hardestam

Dear Robyn,

Unless you are like me and have the memory of a goldfish (ooh! never been here before, ooh! never been here before…) you’ll remember a short tad ago I wrote a post on The #1 Purpose of a Website in which I bleated on about Narnia and mothballs and inspiration. Afterwards Blair Stevenson (who has his own cool blog on leadership) pasted up this comment:

“While inspiration is good, as is creating something people truly believe in, I’m not sure that they are necessary to make a sale. I’m not sure that manufacturers of toilet tissue or socks, or providers of legal services or petrol ever truly inspired anyone but they seem to make a reasonable living. It seems better to actually fulfill/address a need your target audience actually has.”

This reminded me of something funny that happened to me recently. I needed to go to the supermarket to buy *bog rolls and a toothbrush. Uninspiring items. Now, this is a bit of a mission for me because I am one of those people who is a disappointment to Market Researchers:

“Are you the main household shopper?”

Nope! Not a chance. I hate supermarket shopping with a vengence. It bores me rigid. The faster I can go into a Foodtown and come out the other side with only the things I planned to buy (ahem!) the better. Preferably at midnight also when there are no mass queues of people or trolley jams to negotiate. There’s something strangely megalomaniacal about having a whole supermarket to yourself too, as if they especially cleared out the whole place just for you.

Anyway, I don’t really like supermarkets and don’t spend much time in them so I also unsurprisingly have no idea what is in them either. The other day I decided I wanted to get a new toothbrush. So I went to what I thought was the appropriate isle and wandered up and down looking for them.

Razors… soap… shampoo… face wash… Christmas decorations (wtf? it’s a bit early for Xmas isn’t it?)… cotton wool…

That’s weird. No toothbrushes. Bit strange in the bathroom isle. So I looked again.

Razors… soap… shampoo… face wash… Christmas decorations… cotton wool…

Definitely not there. Hmmm. So I asked someone to point them out. OK so those aren’t decorations! Clearly I had been looking for the wrong thing. A toothbrush by my definition is a plastic stick with some bristles bunged unceremoniously in one end. It does a pretty good job of keeping your teeth clean despite it’s uninspired mundanity and once it’s retired from duty it does a not bad job of cleaning soap scum off the basin taps.

Well, how uneducated I am! That’s not what a toothbrush is anymore. No. A toothbrush, apparently is a vehicle into the 11th dimension, and it has the flashing spaceship lights to prove it.  No wonder I thought Christmas had come early. Toothbrushes are sparkling things designed by aliens. You get an infinite array to pick from –  ones with 390 degree revolving heads that have handles that bend like a slinky,  battery powered vibrating ones with bristles pointing everywhere at mathematically impossible angles, every possible combination of psychodelic fluorescent colours combined in swirly patterns and embedded with more glitter and bling than Lady Gaga has costume changes. Some come with alarm clocks. Others with backing lights. You can even get toothbrushes for toddlers that come with training wheels or scary talking monster heads. And they don’t appear to be made from plastic anymore but some sort of space age coagulated extraterrestrial ectoplasm. The best thing of all – they come with a write up on the packaging that promises that if you buy one it will solve all your life problems for you. Don’t believe me? Well go stand in front of the toothbrush stand and see for yourself – just don’t forget your sunglasses.

And that is not all. After being blinded by the toothbrushes I had to go get some bog rolls. Now surely these would truly be boring and uninspired. Wrong again. All I wanted was a classic roll of toilet tissue. How hard can that be? But they don’t seem to exist anymore.

First off you have to identify the packaging. You know, on nappy packets they put a picture of a cutesy baby. On bogs rolls they put pictures of cutesy puppies. Eh? You could be well forgiven for thinking they are a product designed especially for dealing with puppy poop! Once you figure out it is actually toilet paper and not a pet product you have the same mind bending variety to decide on. What do you want to do today?  Visit a perfumery in France? Take a trip to the beach with the blue starfishies and dolphins? Teach your kid to count out bits of bog roll with doggy footprints? Play Sudoku? Read your starsign? Admire the new softness of the latest breathable, micro-weave, quilted paper? Your bog roll will deliver. What will come out next? Bog rolls for the old and senile with instructions for use on every single sheet or the days of the week? (“Today is Monday, perforation, Today is Tuesday, perforation, Today is Wed… oh for Pete’s sake just pick one, they’re all the same these days anyway!”)

So getting back to Blair’s original comment, it is true that many manufacturers never inspire anyone and still make a profit. But it’s kind of cool when they do otherwise life would be pretty bland and it’s far to short not to have fun. Inspiration isn’t necessary to make a sale – but someone sure as hell forgot to tell the toothbrush and bog roll people that!

Morgan 🙂

PS: Oh, and am I inspired by my new toothbrush? Well, yes I am actually. It’s pretty superduper and  I like it so much I’m considering buying a whole box of them now before they go out of fashion in a week’s time to make room for the next model – a multi-dimensional space wonder with warp speed hyperdrive, 16GB hard drive and beam me up Scotty functionality.

*bog rolls = rolls of toilet paper

Image by Andrej Troha

Dear Morgan,

I read your last letter with interest about the purpose of the websites, and I agree with you that a website’s sole purpose shouldn’t be just to collect emails. I also think it’s the experience of the website that is the most important thing.

So, as a market researcher in another life, I decided to troll the internet to further give examples as why email addresses would not be the most important thing for a website, and this is what I found…

1). Rune’s Barf Bag Experience.

So let’s ask the most basic question here. What would be the point in collecting email addresses for this website? It’s a barfbag collection! Why anyone would want to collect these things I don’t know. I only hope that he manages to collect clean unused ones, and they haven’t been ‘recycled’ in any way. Gawd – there’s a shop so you can buy them, AND there’s even a swap page. I can see it now – hey – I have 3 barf bags from United Airlines – I’m willing to swap them for one from Singapore Airlines! Honestly, it’s enough to make you.. well Barf!

In my opinion then. Importance of collecting emails? zero
Overall website experience? Stumped and confused.

2). The oo
Lets go to the question here again. What would be the point in collecting emails for this website. Actually, the question for this website should be.. What is the POINT of this website? It’s all about oo, whatever that may be. People are even invited to go in and write their own ‘oo’ What’s even more scary is that people actually do. Should these people even be allowed to procreate? I further googled ‘oo’ in Wikipaedia and I got a list of things that oo actually meant. Sadly, just as I thought, the oo website had nothing to do with any of them.

Importance of collecting emails? Zero
Overall website experience? Ummmmmmmm

3). Elevator Rules
Well what can I say? Rules for Elevators? I’ve used lots of elevators in my life, but never knew there were ‘rules’. It gives rules such as.. ‘Never, under any circumstances urinate or defecate in an elevator. It is not, and never will be considered funny by anyone.’
Do people actually do this? Defecate I mean? In an Elevator? Did they mistake it for a toilet? Do we even need to know about this? Do we need to collect email addresses for it? Gawd – you can even buy this book of rules. And stickers too. To place on the jacket of the people that defecate so they too learn the rules. But what’s scary about this is there’s a whole website for this. So now you know!

Importance of collecting emails? Zero
Overall website Experience? ‘0.0’ Unbelievable. What about ‘Common Sense’?

4). Urinals – The best urinals in the world, gathered here in one website
Okaaaaaaaaay. Do people actually go into that website and decide to travel based on the urinals? Does the website owner have errrrrrm, a fixation with mens toilets? Do we need to collect email addresses for this? What would be the purpose, to email everyone when he finds another ‘urinal’? Imagine… ‘Dear everyone, I was in Mexico City, in the main street, and found a really neat urinal in Joey’s Bar – you should all go and piss in this one for the best experience ever’. Hmmmmmm I don’t think so!

Importance of collecting emails? Zero
Overall Website Experience? Didn’t do anything for me – but would love a man’s take on this – anyone up for the job?

5). Pets in Uniforms

Okay – this is just plain nuts. I know that women sometimes have a fetish for men in uniform. I mean – that’s just plain sexy. Especially Policemen. And Fireman. And Air Pilots. Okay okay – Too much information – if you value your life don’t turn up at my door dressed like a policeman! Or Fireman. Or pilot!! But PETS? PETS? That’s taking the fetish a bit far. I could image it if it were a sheep and you invited farmers far and wide in Australia. But cats? Sigh. Why would it be important to collect emails for this site? By the way – right now there is a holiday special on and you can get your pet made up in full regalia for only $19.99. I think Morgan should send in a photo of her budgie and see what they do to it! They should dress it up like Tiger Woods as it’s a very amorous one! Just think, she could then watch Tiger Woods in action 10 times a day. I’m not talking about his golf!

Importance of collecting emails: Five , but only because they’ll send something back to you, and you might want to know of the specials so you can dress up your cats, dogs, horses, sheep, goats, and maybe your husband.
Overall Website Experience? Chortle!

Okay – I think you get the gist now – I could go on – there’s so many weird sites out there. I hope I’ve made my point.

Cheers
Robyn