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The Stereotype Categorisation Project

Being part of the super hero community, as I am, every now and then we receive directives or requests from top secret organisations around the world. These are usually sixteen-page forms (in small print) and are sent through regular post so they can’t be picked up by any spy satellites or CB hacker or other means of digital espionage. The envelopes are simple and brown, and have no return address on them. They are addressed, also simply, to ‘The Occupier’ so even the postman doesn’t know what he is delivering. And, if by chance the postman manages to mistakenly pop the letter through the wrong letterbox, and the person at this address mistakenly opens it (bearing in mind they will think that it is addressed to them, being the occupier, if they don’t read the address properly) it will look like junk mail from a double glazing company, a car insurance firm, or an invitation to participate in some money scam.

We super heroes know the difference between regular junk mail and these extremely classified and very regularly life changing directives. And we also have the necessary equipment to prise apart each of the sixteen pages without tearing or removing any of the print on them. The ‘false’ claim that I can buy two double glazed windows for the price of four, I’ll find cheaper car insurance elsewhere or if I send £2,000.00 I’ll receive the next part of the letter, dissolve away in this process, which also ‘re-hydrates’ the sixteen pages to their normal paper size and staples them together. The letter is also delivered without a stamp. Technology nowadays is a wonder!

I received the latest sixteen page document today from The Human League. That is The Human League International organisation, who have offices in all countries, with the head office being somewhere in South America, I think. Or France. I always get the two mixed up. Not the places, I hasten to add – I’m quite good at geography – no, I get The Human League mixed up with The League of Humanity, who are based in Portugal, or Cyprus or somewhere like that. No, they’re based in France… Oh, I give up! However, I do get this Human League mixed up with that old pop group of the same name on occasions, although I haven’t been in the situation that Stretchbob1247 found himself in, when he went to a Human League concert and ended up being sent on a top secret mission to Mars.

Today’s request is for information. Information about people. Everyday people. Not that I think for one moment that there are other types of people, like those who only appear on a Tuesday. Although, I think I worked with one of this type of person once, so I may be wrong. I digress. This request is looking to establish patterns of stereotypical behaviour in people around the world. I have been given an area in which to observe and gather information. I can’t say where, due to confidentiality, but I have to watch both male and female people, and then categorise them into the closest stereotype bracket on the form. I’m not allowed to let anyone know that I am observing them, so if you feel you are being watched and look around to see someone shiftily look away quickly, it may be me… I’m on a mission, so please don’t blow my cover, but I doubt you’ll notice me watching – I’m an expert people watcher. It’s one of my favourite pastimes in the summer.

The form isn’t interested in the ‘normal’ stereotypes that the word ‘stereotype’ brings to mind, these have already been recorded in the survey last month, which was phase one of the project, and everyone on the planet was documented, listed and grouped back then. (We know where all the vampires are!). This form is looking specifically for ten groups, or sub-stereotypes, for reasons that are known only to a select few, and I’m not one of them. I just do what I’m told. The sub-stereotypes are:

1. The Lost Wanderers
The form describes these as people who wander slowly and aimlessly in the middle of the road, without regard for their own safety or the fact that vehicles are waiting to drive passed them. Usually young males, show offs, or groups of young mums with prams fall into this category, but there may be others.

2. Librarians
I think this is a spelling error on the form, as it wants to document people who are balanced, loving, loyal, romantic, idealistic, charming, stubborn and indecisive, which sounds like a textbook description of a Libran. I don’t think I’ve met a librarian with all of these qualities.

3. Television Voice-Over People
This one is a tricky one to spot when people watching, but there are tell tale signs that indicate that someone either works in voice-overs, or wants to. Market traders and town criers may also fall into this category.

4. Road Rangers
Another spelling error, I think. I’ll have to clarify this with the Human League, but they may be referring to the Freds of this world. Unless they are referring to people who patrol the streets. These stereotypes are not that cut and dried.

5. Left-handed Strawberry Pickers
I have no idea why they want to know this information, or how I’m supposed to observe such people, living in a town and all, but I can only do what I can. I think there is a left-handed strawberry picker convention on in Birmingham later this month, so they may all be out of town anyway.

6. Tree Gorillas
I’m presuming they are referring to tree guerrillas, but may be wrong. Luckily for me, I never got around to planting any trees otherwise I’d have to be watching myself now.

7. Lurkers
The form says this is a type of person who visits websites and forums but doesn’t comment or participate, and not those who wander the streets (who may be included in category A). Not an easy stereotype to spot.

8. Vampires and Speed Readers
Ulp. I’m NOT a vampire. Nor can I speed read. Although I have no idea what the connection is between these two… and we did vampires last month…

9. Think Dancers
This group are people who, in their minds, are dancing exceptionally better to the same piece of music as everyone else. In reality, they are shuffling their feet and pointing.

10. Survey Creators
Those outside of the Human League who create surveys to find people’s views on pot holes, black holes, watering holes, and other mysterious holes that appear from time to time. Other surveys are not included this time.

I’ve seen a few people already that fit into these categories, so I’m already off to a good start. It’s quite hard though, trying to fit someone into a stereotype without being judgmental. Still, it passes the time!

April Fool!

I haven’t fallen for that many April Fool’s Day pranks today. Either that, or I have, and I’m none the wiser. But, no. I know that I haven’t. I have been way too alert to fall for such things as…

  • Liverpool Football Club purchasing the Fiddlers Ferry Power Station, with the intention of flattening it and building their new super stadium on the site. Not being into football, I don’t know what the repercussions would be of Liverpool FC moving out of Liverpool, apart from them having to change their name, and possibly build a whole new team, and maybe design a new kit. Maybe also get a new management team, but apart from that they’d be exactly the same team.
  • A dinosaur being discovered alive, and living in the sewers and drains of the towns of Cheshire. I mean to say, how can anything live in that kind of environment and not be spotted until now?
  • The Bank Holiday for the forthcoming Royal Wedding being re-classified as a Public Holiday. Therefore banks have to operate as normal, and due to the financial burden imposed by an extra day off on many companies around the UK at present, many firms are cancelling the holiday completely, causing instant ill-feeling among royalists and people who don’t like working alike. I rolled my eyes at this one as I saw through it after the first ten minutes of reading the brief memo in work.
  • Google Mail providing a novel way of sending and replying to email, without the need to use a keyboard or a mouse. New technology recognises body actions through the webcam, and certain actions replace the clicks to send, reply and save emails. Having to make the shape of the letter may be difficult on typing the message, especially if there are Qs, Ws and Bs involved. Not that I thought for an instant about this, of course.
  • My WordPress stats for today appearing to have been multiplied ten-fold. I knew instantly that wasn’t true, because any large increase like that would actually be by the thousands… I did wonder what had gone on there though, but only for the briefest of seconds. I’m well ahead of the game, and wouldn’t really notice any increase in my stats under normal circumstances anyway. <sob>
  • Being sent to the post room in work for a long weight for the boardroom. I don’t actually know why they needed a long weight in the boardroom, as it wasn’t being used today anyway, and they didn’t have any when they eventually got back to me. Why they had to send me, I didn’t know… I was far too busy to hang about for forty minutes. I was told later in the day that it was an April Fool’s joke. I pretended to get it, so the joke was really on them. I don’t fall for anything, me.

I’m up way too early to be sucked in to these things.

On to other things, I have been really busy in work today. Non-stop in fact. The time has literally flown by, and before I knew it, it was home time once again. I only had a short break for lunch today, but in that time I managed to create my first animated banner for this blog. I’m very impressed with it — and the classical music that fits with the movements so perfectly. I couldn’t wait until tonight to publish it to my blog, so it’s there already. The music is quite quiet, so you may have to switch the volume up slightly. It does take a while for the animation to start though, and I’m sorry about that. I didn’t have time to work on the timing.

I like productive Fridays. They help me to feel good!

Running late

I live about a five minute drive away from work. That is five minutes at about 3 o’clock in the morning, when the roads are perfectly clear. I set off for work everyday, between five-to and five-past eight, and usually arrive in work at about 8.10 – 8.15am. I usually arrive at that time.

Yesterday, I arrived in work at 8.50am. Today I arrived in work at 8.33, and pretended not to notice. I don’t know why, but the traffic of late has been far heavier than usual. The reason for my being late yesterday was due to a road being closed in another part of the town due to a serious road traffic accident, and everyone in the town were having to find an alternative route, but this doesn’t explain the other days.

Unfortunately, this accident yesterday, caused a few motorists’ tempers to flare. Being stuck in a traffic jam, when you are against the clock, could be described as ‘stressful’ by quite a few people. I’m not over-keen on it myself, but you can only move along when the car in front can move. Everyone is in the same boat, so the easiest way to handle the situation is to sit back and breath. Relax. Allow things to move in their own time. You’re going to be late anyway, so what is the point in stressing about it? This will only make things worse, and you’ll feel as though the day is ruined by the time you arrive at your destination. Let it go. Be late. It’s fine.

I mentioned in my previous paragraph that you can only move when the car in front can move. The car I was behind yesterday had other ideas. Well, the driver did, anyway, cars don’t think. He (the driver – I’ll call him Fred) was stressed out. Fred was shaking his fists inside the car – I thought at first that he was car-dancing (like I do occasionally to Shakespeare’s Sister), but I soon realised that he meant business. I was trying to send some relaxing vibes to him, to try and calm him down, but this didn’t work. He’d made his mind up to be stressed, and everyone else on the road was going to know about it. He had a captive audience as the traffic was moving at a snail’s pace. To make things worse, the car was a hire vehicle, the sticker was on the back bumper, so he wouldn’t have treated it as though it was his own. Fred didn’t respect other people’s property.

The vehicle in front of Fred had moved forward about three or four car lengths, but Fred was sitting where he was. I don’t think he was watching the road, as he was shaking his fists. Fred suddenly realised that he could move, and screeched his way forward at such a speed smoke appeared from the tyres. I tootled forward slowly, and pulled up behind him a second later. Fred’s head was in his hands one minute and banging his steering wheel the next.

We had now approached a junction on a roundabout, and it was obvious that we weren’t going anywhere fast. Fred tried to squeeze into another lane on the roundabout, realised that he couldn’t so manoeuvred back to his original place in the queue. His frustration had now boiled over, and he honked his horn.

Horn honking in traffic jams to me doesn’t really help any situation. Horn honking to me is a way of letting other people know that we are there. We all knew that Fred was there – we could smell his burning rubber. And horn honking didn’t relieve Fred of his frustration. He slammed his car into gear, and sped off onto a road on the left that looked as though it was clear, but this road arced around and re-joined the road we are currently on further along – at the next roundabout, so the traffic would be backing up there too. I felt sorry for the next people who would be subject to Fred’s tantrum.

I know I’m making light of what was possibly a very volatile situation, I don’t know where Fred was going, what was on his mind or anything about him, but he was lucky that he didn’t cause another accident himself by the way he was acting. If he’d just sat back and breathed, he’d have realised that all of his actions were futile. The traffic was moving slowly, so he would have reached his destination eventually. I did, although it was twenty minutes later than I should have.

This morning, I didn’t see Fred in the traffic jam. Either he had set off earlier, or was stuck further back. As long as he wasn’t around me, I was fine.

Unfortunately, there had been another road traffic accident on a different road this afternoon, and this road was closed too. This meant that the roads were congested on my journey home from work today. Before I had heard about this accident, I had made a decision to go a different way home. I managed to sneak through the traffic at yet another roundabout, and every road I took on this route was clear. I was home within ten minutes. I had to travel a little further, but sometimes the most direct route is not the quickest. Staying calm in the heavy traffic allowed me to have the foresight to plan my alternative journey.

I’m going to remember this lesson in future. I usually feel flustered at red traffic lights. They have been a bane to my existence ever since I learned to drive back in 1180. If I simply sit back and watch the world wait with me, I’ll be moving again in no time. If I sit and honk and wave and shout, I’ll find more time to do that, and won’t move anywhere fast.

That’s how the Universe works. We get what we are paying attention to the most. The pleasant journey… or the frustrating one? I know which one I want to be on.


Twilight: My mind wanders further

I’ve had a very quiet day today. Busy in work as usual, but no meetings to attend, and no office buildings exploding in any unexplained fashion, which is always a good thing. In fact, I haven’t had time to daydream about anything today, which is saying something. Still, the working day is over, and I am now resting. Resting, writing, and thinking!

I’m still thinking about that ‘Twilight’ incense I thought I saw the other day (well, more so the vampires and werewolves behind it, rather than the incense itself). I think it would be good if any of these companies that produce these various methods to create aromas in our homes could create something like this, if only to stimulate our imaginations. My imagination, more to the point (although, there are times when my imagination is stimulated just enough!) And then the personal grooming companies could join in too, and create body sprays and hair styling products that had a similar smell. I wouldn’t suggest it to the toothpaste manufacturers though, as I don’t think Breath of Vampire or Werewolf’s Smile would be particularly good sellers. They may sound good on the cover of a book, but don’t have the same effect on a tube of toothpaste.

I can see it now. I get in after a very long day at the office, and decide to have a shave to freshen up a little. In my bathroom cabinet (it’s more like a little room in one of the hidden wings of Aquatom Mansion, but I’ll use the word cabinet to keep things simple) I reach for my Twilight: Stealth Shaving Gel. The label reads: ‘Luxuriously smooth, Stealth lathers with the slightest drop of water, so is environmentally friendly, and equally covers the required area in seconds, so is time effective – ideal if one is in a hurry. With it’s invigorating mix of musky, spicy and rainforest extracts each shave is a unique sensation in itself. Best to be used with a sharp razor, as blunt ones tend to nullify the time element, the experience is not one to be sniffed at. The top secret blend of ingredients has a skin tightening element too, that makes any jawline appear chiselled and defined, and the long-lasting fresh smell after the shave serves as a reminder as to just how good an experience the shave was. For those who want to smell more musky, or more spicy, or more like a rainforest, use our additional Twilight: Howl aftershave balm to enhance the particular element of your choice. Or use all three, if you really want to over-power everyone else. That is the flexibility of Twilight.’ I find it amazing as to what can fit on labels nowadays. I shave and cut my neck with my blunt blade. I should have paid more attention to the label.

I stop the bleeding, but the cut on my neck looks kind of cool where it is, so I leave it for  a while, although I place a small piece of toilet tissue over it in case the bleeding starts again. My hair is looking a little dishevelled after being in the office all day, so I go back to my ‘cabinet’ and retrieve my Twilight: Moonglow styling gum. I can’t resist these labels: ‘For the look that holds wherever you go, hold your head up high with Moonglow!” This gum is in a little round tub with a screw top lid. I remove the lid, and scoop a small amount of this luminous green gunk into the palm of my hand. I gently rub my palms together, which warms the gum and releases the fresh smell of ‘aquatic essence’. There is another fragrance called ‘midnight zest’ but this latter smell clashes with the spicy smell of the shaving gel. I massage the gum into my hair, and in a second my hair is set in place. Like cement. There is no way that will move tonight!

Not that I’m actually going anywhere, but sometimes I just like to try new products. I throw my shirt back on, and make myself a cup of hot green tea with vanilla, and the head to the lounge to chill for the evening. I light a couple of Twilight: Essence scented candles, and three Twilight: Infusion incense sticks. The smell of me and these scents quickly fill the lounge.

I’m feeling very refreshed and relaxed. But also energised and raring to go. Only it is a work night, and I need to go to bed soon, so I can get up early for work in the morning. It’s all well and good getting and using these products, but I won’t smell this good in the morning. And there is absolutely no point going to work smelling like that. I mean to say, I have an image to project.

A message I needed to hear…

I witnessed an event in a parallel universe today. One so shocking, and so vivid, I couldn’t believe that I was actually seeing it unfold in front of my eyes. I was in a meeting in work, when suddenly, the building across the car park exploded in a huge fireball. The building opposite that one, to the right of where I was looking, then exploded a couple of seconds later. And then smaller explosions occurred on the car parks themselves. And then, the windows of the meeting room I was in shook, then cracked, and then splintered, and then I saw the building around me start to explode as well.

I’m not saying that the meeting was boring or anything (OK, yes, I am saying that…), but I could not remember one word of what any of the attendees had said. I was concerned as to what was going on outside, but nobody else in the meeting room was bothered; obviously because they couldn’t see what I could.

I had to bring myself back into this universe, and into this meeting. The quarterly planning meeting to decide what projects needed to be carried forward into the next quarter, and what essentials needed to be brought forward into this one. I’m only invited to these meetings for information only, so that I know what is going on, and so that I am ready for when they pass all of the work over to me to try to break. I think I’m expected to contribute something, but I’m the only non-manager level person in the meeting, and the others are paid to thrash things out. I’m only paid to do what they tell me to do, so do my best at doing that.

This vision I saw un-nerved me. I felt the explosion around me. I heard the glass breaking. I saw the flames and the brightness, yet strangely felt very calm. I couldn’t move, but also didn’t want to move.

Did I see one of my doppelgängers in a parallel universe at the moment that life ended? I don’t know. Possibly. But I couldn’t help thinking that, out of every possible way to leave this life, being caught up in an almighty explosion in the middle of one of the most tedious meetings in the history of mankind would not have been the first thought to come to mind. I also felt quite sad after the experience, but couldn’t dwell on it as I had to pick up the threads of the meeting.

My mind does have a tendency to wander, especially in work. I usually imagine myself on a beach with waves gently lapping up to the shore, the rustle of the trees nearby, the seagulls cawing overhead, and the warm sun shining down upon me. Or, I’m in my Place of Peace and Tranquility, and really enjoying the freshness. Occasionally, I’m imagining fantastic places to explore that are just beyond the trees on the horizon, or hidden roads that lead to magical lands behind the factory that occupies the land next to the office. I’m very often miles away from where I am, and I’m very often very happy there. All of these places feel good. They are very comfortable and leave me with a very warm feeling inside when I come back into myself.

The vision today was something new. Frightening. Frighteningly real. And frighteningly surreal how everyone around me were not the slightest bit bothered. They were just doing what they had to do, and everything around them was exploding apart. I’d like to hope that, in the extremely unlikely event of this ever happening in this universe, they would be bothered. I’d also like to hope that I would be able to move myself.

Have I received a Message from the Universe? Have I been told that these people around me are only interested in themselves? I hope not. I hope that the people I work with are not like that. I don’t really know the people I work with very well, and although I have a very cool reaction (and that is cool as in unfriendly, not cool as in hip!) from the majority of them whenever I am around them, I’m hoping this is only due to the fact that we don’t know each other very well. Although when I have seen some of the people outside of work they have deliberately walked the other way to avoid me, or completely ignored me when I have been stood right next to them. I suppose in some cases I should make the first effort and say something, but when someone looks me in the eye and then turns away, that tells me they do not want to speak. It may be me. It may be Bernard (my nagging inner voice). But I don’t think so.

In writing this, I think I have worked out what the Universe has told me. I must move. I have to act, otherwise people will just do their own thing around me. I have to be the one to make the first effort. Nobody will do that for me. If they don’t like me, they still won’t like me, so it doesn’t matter. They may want to ignore me, but I don’t need to ignore them as well. I should say a quick “Hi!” and then walk off so they don’t feel pressured to say anything back.

Janet Street-PorterJanet Street-Porter once said something along the lines of ‘It doesn’t really matter what anybody thinks. A third of the people will like you regardless of what you do, say or become. A third of the people may be uncertain about you, but may change their way to like you eventually. And a third of the people will never like you”. So, thinking that way, I’m going to say “Hi!” to a lot more people and have fun doing it. And if they don’t like me for doing that, tough! I’ll say it again the next time I see them anyway! I’ll give it a month and see what happens. I quite like listening to Janet Street-Porter, and even though I haven’t met her, I like her. I think we’d be good friends if we ever did meet.

Janet also said “Blogs are for anoraks who couldn’t get published any other way.” She may be onto something with the third of the people thing…