Friday, December 19, 2008

I Suppose it Was Inevitable...

To: All Staff
From: The Board of Directors
Date: December 19
Subject: New "Twelve Days of Christmas" Policy

The recent announcement that Donner and Blitzen have elected to take the early reindeer retirement package has triggered a good deal of concern about whether they will be replaced, and about other restructuring decisions at the North Pole. Streamlining is due to the North Pole's loss of dominance in the season's gift distribution business. Home Shopping TV channels and mail order catalogues have diminished Santa's market share. He and the Board could not sit idly by and permit further erosion of the profit picture.

The reindeer downsizing was made possible through purchase of a late model Japanese sled for the CEO's annual trip. Improved productivity from Dasher and Dancer, who summered at the Harvard Business School, is anticipated. Reduction in the reindeer will also lessen airborne environmental emissions for which the North Pole has received unfavourable press (gas and solid waste). We're pleased to inform you that Rudolph's role will not be disturbed. Tradition still counts for something at the North Pole!

Management denies, in the strongest possible language, the earlier leak that Rudolph's nose get red, not from the cold, but from substance abuse. Calling Rudolph "a lush who was into the sauce and never did pull his share of the load" was an unfortunate comment, made by one of Santa's helpers and taken out of context at a time of the year when they are known to be under 'executive stress'.

As for further restructuring, today's global challenges require the North Pole to continue to look for better, more competitive steps. Effective immediately, the following economy measures are to take place in the "Twelve Days of Christmas" music subsidiary:

1) The partridge will be retained, but the pear tree, which never produced the cash crop forecast, will be replaced by a plastic hanging plant, providing considerable savings in maintenance;

2) Two turtle doves represent a redundancy that is simply not cost effective. In addition, their romance during working hours could not be condoned. The positions are, therefore, eliminated;

3) The three French hens will remain intact. After all, everyone loves the French;

4) The four calling birds will be replaced by an automated voice mail system, with a call waiting option. An analysis is underway to determine who the birds have been calling, how often and how long they talked;

5) The five golden rings have been put on hold by the Board of Directors. Maintaining a portfolio based on one commodity could have negative implications for institutional investors. Diversification into other precious metals, as well as a mix of T-Bills and high technology stocks, appear to be in order;

6) The six geese-a-laying constitutes a luxury which can no longer be afforded. It has long been felt that the production rate of one egg per goose per day was an example of the general decline in productivity. Three geese will be let go, and an upgrading in the selection procedure by personnel will assure management that, from now on, every goose it gets will be a good one;

7) The seven swans-a-swimming is obviously a number chosen in better times. The function is primarily decorative. Mechanical swans are on order. The current swans will be retrained to learn some new strokes, thereby enhancing their outplacement;

8) As you know, the eight maids-a-milking concept has been under heavy scrutiny by the EEOC. A male/female balance in the workforce is being sought. The more militant maids consider this a dead-end job with no upward mobility. Automation of the process may permit the maids to try a-mending, a-mentoring or a-mulching;

9) Nine ladies dancing has always been an odd number. This function will be phased out as these individuals grow older and can no longer do the steps;

10) Ten Lords-a-leaping is overkill. The high cost of Lords, plus the expense of international air travel, prompted the Compensation Committee to suggest replacing this group with ten out-of-work congressmen. While leaping ability may be somewhat sacrificed, the savings are significant as we expect an oversupply of unemployed congressmen this year;

11) Eleven pipers piping and twelve drummers drumming is a simple case of the band getting too big. A substitution with a string quartet, a cutback on new music, and no uniforms, will produce savings which will drop right to the bottom line;

Overall we can expect a substantial reduction in assorted people, fowl, animals and related expenses. Though incomplete, studies indicate that stretching deliveries over twelve days is inefficient. If we can drop ship in one day, service levels will be improved. Regarding the lawsuit filed by the attorneys' association seeking expansion to include the legal profession ("thirteen lawyers-a-suing"), a decision is pending. Deeper cuts may be necessary in the future to remain competitive.

Should this happen, the Board will request management to scrutinise the Snow White Division to determine if seven dwarfs is the right number.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Wonderful 2009.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Not Home on the Range-

2008 will be marked forever as the year the Book Elves went green. No, not "green" the way they "went green" last St. Patrick's Day with that vat of permanent industrial dye, "green" as in ecologically-minded (as in using 300 feet of extension cord to tap into the neighbor's solar panels). For Thanksgiving they decided to go with a "free-range" turkey this year, a decision you would not normally expect to be a recipe for trouble, broken crockery, and numerous minor injuries...

Unfortunately the Book Elves neglected to fully grasp the huge difference between "free-range" and "feral", and proceeded to round up a flock of 20 wild turkeys and herded them onto the screen porch. Wild turkeys, unlike the domesticated variety, can fly, like to kick, have a bad attitude, and (rather like wolves) will attack, in packs, when they are angry.

But before a hungry pack of 20 wild turkeys ravaged the dining room, ate all the cranberry sauce, and locked the Book Elves in the pantry, and just before the fine folks from the Massachusetts Department of Fish & Wildlife showed up with a packet of summonses, the Book Elves finished our latest catalog-

"Catalog #315: 'To Furnish a Fine House' -Books on Furniture, Cabinetmakers, Metalwares, Textiles, and other Americana"

You can browse the catalog on our website , and we have free printed copies available, just send us your mailing address.

Monday, December 01, 2008

The Simple Life-

As we enter the month of December, Christmas Shopping Season, Holiday Party Season and all the other hoopla that go with the Holidays, sometimes it's good to take a step back and try to simplify.

In that spirit, I offer the following Amazingly Simple Home Remedies to Simplify Your Life which I stole from somewhere or other-

-Avoid cutting yourself when slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop.

-Avoid arguments with the Mrs. about lifting the toilet seat by using the sink.

-For high blood pressure sufferers: simply cut yourself and bleed for a few minutes, thus reducing the pressure in your veins. Remember to use a timer.

-A mouse trap, placed on top of your alarm clock, will prevent you from rolling over and going back to sleep after you hit the snooze button.

-If you have a bad cough, take a large dose of laxatives; then you'll be afraid to cough.

-You only need two tools in life - WD-40 and Duct Tape. If it doesn't move and should, use the WD-40. If it shouldn't move and does, use the duct tape.

-Remember: Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.

-If you can't fix it with a hammer, you've got an electrical problem.

- -