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Ryan Reid

Crows Discuss the Mosaic-Tailed Rat

By | Caw Caw

If you haven’t heard about the ill-fated mosaic-tailed rat, also known as the Bramble Cay melomys, it has the dubious honour of being the first mammalian casualty of climate change. Good job, everybody!Crows Discuss the Mosaic-Tailed Rat

Communication Breakdown

By | Caw Caw

You could communicate with an alien race from across the known universe and still feel bored and alone. Go outside and meet people. People you can share ideas with. People who can help you build a machine to talk with an alien race from across the known universe.Comic story of a young girl inventor and her dog who create a machine to talk with aliens on the other side of the universe by Ryan Reid

Locked in a Beer Cooler

By | Real Life

Typically I find it’s a good idea to be prepared. But that’s a vast statement, I mean the world is a complex place. How can I prepare for all of the possible things that could happen to me in one day?

But I’m a creative guy, and those of you suffering from similar ailments understand that your mind sometimes just thinks about things, regardless of time or place. Many of these thoughts are fostered by Hollywood; fantastical “what if” scenarios that typically remind me just how “daily” the “drudgery” really is.

As I’ve said before, I’ve done my time on the kitchen line. I played the part of “mostly untalented hack”. I worked at a place called Cheers, believe it or not. It was as far away from Boston and Sam Malone as you could imagine. Although it had it’s share of characters. The food business at Cheers, by the time I started working there, was nearly non existent. So working in the kitchen I was usually by myself, and I was expected to do other jobs beside the cooking. Running liquor to the bar was one of those extra jobs.

One typically quiet Sunday, as I was calmly prepping some brushcetta mix, the bar manager (who was the only other employee there) burst into the kitchen, and announced she had all these thirsty patrons at the bar (like six or something). For that reason, I was requested to drop what I was doing, and run down stairs to the beer cooler and change the empty keg of Canadian. And no they weren’t ordering food.

Cheers was part of a large crappy hotel, and the building was old seemingly haphazard. The way to the beer cooler from the kitchen was either through the bar, or the dining room, to the front entrance, down a set of stairs into the basement, and near the far end of a long hallway. Once there, you were a good distance from the actual bar. On Saturday nights, when the bar did substantial business, the bar runner would have to drag a two-wheeled cart with 4 or 5 cases of beer at a time up the stairs, through the empty dining room (it knew no other state, I think) and into the kitchen. From there it would wait in the kitchen walk-in cooler, or travel out to the bar to be greedily consumed.

The basement hallway was littered with the typical promotional materials beer companies offload on unsuspecting bar owners to help peddle their fermented sugar water. It was a kaleidoscope of seasonal merchandise, a fantasy land were pirates and helium balloons enjoyed each others company. And in the center of it all, the oversized wooden door to the beer cooler.

The beer cooler door was heavy, but it needed to be pushed hard to close and lock. The cooler itself was a walk-in variety, stacks of 24’s on either side of the room, with the kegs in the far corner, and on-tap liquor in the other. I bee-lined for the kegs, and started lifting each of them until I located the empty one. The kegs are attached to hoses that run through the floor to the bar taps we love so much. Each hose is attached to the keg by a metal clamp like device, and with a lift of the device’s handle, and a quick twist of the clamp, the keg is untapped, and the clamp is ready for another full keg. Before I can complete the switch, the bar manager rushes in, changes a bottle of liquor on the wall, and rushes out again.

As she exits the cooler, she gives the door a shove, and it finds the momentum to both close, and lock behind her.

I waited for her to notice and let me out. She does neither.

Now growing up on the apple farm, the cold apple storage in the barn had a similar door as this beer cooler door. The major difference was that the apple storage door had a handle on the inside. The beer cooler did not. Design flaw or feature? Discuss amongst yourselves.

Now, during my time at Cheers I spent a lot of time in that beer cooler. Enough time in fact, that on more than one occasion my mind started thinking about other things, while the rest of me carried on with the usual tasks. Some of the things my mind thought about were “Pirates vs helium balloons: who would win?” and “What if I got locked in this beer cooler?” I felt the later was a more likely scenario, and gave it more concentration. Enough concentration, that when that door really did bolt shut, I already new what I had to do.

The biggest drawback to being trapped in a beer cooler, besides the door that won’t open from the inside, is that no one will hear you scream. (Regardless of the male fantasy of being locked in a room full of beer, you really do need to get out. Eventually.) The walls are thick and insulated really good, because, dammit, people like cold brew. Also, this cooler was, as I pointed out, a remarkable distance from the actual bar, where the only other employee and patrons were located.

So then, how does a beer cooler communicate with the bar?

Starting with the keg I just changed, I began to untap all the beer kegs. I suggest, when in this situation, starting with the most popular brand, then work your way to the hard liquor. Just like a Saturday night. And then you wait. Within minutes of cutting off the supply of beer and liquor to the bar, my prison door was opened, and in ran the bar manager.

“What are you doing in here?” She inquired.

“You locked me in,” I explained.

“Oh. You’ve got food orders waiting.”

Locked in a Room

By | Real Life

After reading John August’s blog entry regarding ee overuse of air ducts as an escape mechanism in movie and television screenplays, I got to thinking about the times I have been trapped in locked rooms without air ducts. It’s happened more times than you think.

One time, I was in a busy banquet hall.

I was working the kitchen, preparing food for the buffet, and the dinner service had recently completed. In fact, all of the service staff had gone home, except for the bartender who remained to serve drinks for the rest of the night while the patrons danced to the deejay. I didn’t feel like going home just yet, so to kill some time, I decided to check out the main floor of the building.

The banquet hall had two floors, the recently renovated upstairs were the current function was taking place, and the main floor, which was empty of people, locked, and time lapsed in that 70’s-painted-cinder-block-Labbatt-50-clock-on-the-wall-Legion-Hall decor. So I travelled down the back kitchen stairs, through the only unlocked door into the main floor banquet space. The room contained the usual suspects: a small bar, rows of banquet tables and chairs, nicotine stains on the ceiling. At the far end of the room was a door leading into what looked like a lounge, with more comfy chairs and a low coffee table. From the lounge another door lead into a smaller mostly empty room. It wasn’t until I entered the smaller room, decided there was nothing there to see and no where to go from there, that I realized the door had locked behind me.

Crap.

I thought, “I could yell! I’ve got good pipes!” but I could hear the deejay music from upstairs through the ceiling, so surely nobody would hear me. So then I thought, “I’ll just wait it out, someone will some looking for me!” But everyone else had gone home except the bartender, who reasonably, I assumed, would have thought I went home as well. It was clear that I was on my own.

I looked around the room. My only friend was a lonely chair, who appeared anxious for me to solve this whole dilemma so he could join his friends in the banquet room. There were certainly no air ducts, and no scrap metal pipes to pry open a locked door. But, thanks to the lousy 70’s chic, there were gaudy ceiling tiles. I grabbed the chair, and slid it close to the door. Standing on the chair, I pushed aside one of the tiles, and stuck my head up into the darkness.

My eyes took a moment to acclimate themselves to the shadow. It was musty and dusty up there. I probably ingested something toxic that will surely hasten me into my declining years. The space above the tiles was black, and small. There was very little room between the tiles and the real ceiling, or the floor of the second level, and what space there was I found filled with wires and pipes, and concrete. But to my good fortune, the wall that contained the locked door ended just above the ceiling tiles, and I could see the backs of the tiles from the adjoining room!

I used the door knob as an impromptu ladder rung, and pushed and pulled myself up into the blackness. I arranged my feet on the most secure surfaces I could find, a pipe and the wall-top, and began removing a tile from the other adjoining ceiling. With tile removed, I squeezed through the hole, and landed safely on the ground in the otherwise unlocked lounge.

So you’re asking yourself, “What’s the moral here?” Well clearly it’s “Don’t hang around after your shift is over!” Er, maybe it’s “Always look out for number one!” No, that’s dumb. Maybe it’s “Always wear clean underwear?” I think there are as many morals to this story as there are air ducts, which was none, had you paid attention. So, stick that in yer pipe and blow bubbles.

Next week: The time I was locked in a commercial beer cooler! Every man’s dream becomes one man’s nightmare!

A Shower of Thoughts

By | Esoterica

Maybe it’s the soothing sounds of falling bath water, or the perky scents of aroma-therapy bath products, but a lot of people do their best thinking in the shower. This in spite of the fact that it is generally early in the morning, and the prospects for the day include going to work for 8 hours. Two events that usually obfuscate a great deal of creative thought.

So, here are, in no particular order, my most recent shower cogitations.

  1. Why are the shower condiment bottles (shampoo, conditioner, body wash, etc.) smooth plastic? Showers are often wet and  soapy, making things that are smooth and plastic difficult to handle. Shower condiment bottles need textured areas for gripping, especially on the lid, which is where I tend to grab and lift the bottles from.
  2. 100% of prescription eye glass wearers don’t wear their glasses in the shower. I wouldn’t mind  some readable print on the condiment bottles, guys. Since we have an over abundance of bottles in our shower, they tend to get grouped into the four corners of the tub, so I only need to remember which corner has the conditioner, which corner has the shampoo, etc. But when I’m in some one else’s shower, it’s a nightmare. To add to this tragedy, shampoo and conditioner bottles from the same product line tend to look identical. This leads to longer shower times, and increased water bills. And increased water bills really boil my kettle, if you know what I mean.
  3. Liquid “body wash” soap, I’m convinced, is just another corporate level manipulation to get us poor consumers to buy more product than we really need. What’s so great about body wash soap, anyway? It’s liquid, which means you’ll inevitably pour too much, it requires an additional device to scrub your body with (the sponge that isn’t) plus it’s another bottle to keep track of when you aren’t wearing your glasses in the shower. Bar soap was a great invention. No extra application devices required, it’s a unique self contained object easily identified by the spectacle sporters among us, and it lasted forever since by it’s very design you couldn’t use to much. So now that we’ve all been convinced to buy more soap more often, I’m left to wonder: where does it all go when it’s washed away down the drain?
  4. When you go to Wendy’s for a spicy chicken combo meal, you can “biggie size” your order for .59¢. This is common at all of the major fast food style “restaurants”. So I’m wondering, if I can “biggie size” for an additional .59¢, why can’t I “smallie size” for .59¢ less? Maybe I can’t drink the normal amount of pop, and I don’t want the normal amount of fries. Maybe I want a smaller portion. Maybe I’m cheap.
  5. How often do we really need to shower, anyway? I don’t do anything physical all day, I sit in a chair and absorb gamma rays from my monitor. And that’s the job of three quarters of the population. So, who told us we need to shower everyday? Probably the same people who market the body wash. And I totally made up that employment statistic.

No real insights into solving the world’s problems or anything. Maybe the water’s too hot.

Elevators and Iconography

By | Illustration & Design

I ride the elevator at work twice a day: once to get into the gulag, and the second time to escape it. And every time I’m in it, I inevitably start staring at the buttons. Mostly I’m trying to avoid social interaction, but secondarily I’m wondering: who designed the open and close door icons?

Elevator Buttons Photo

This is a picture of the open and close door icons in the elevator at my work. They both have little arrow like things showing the doors either opening and closing, or, wait…is that closing and that opening? I can’t tell the difference. Either icon could just as easily be used as the other, which makes for an awkward moment when you are trying to open the door for someone, but it just keeps on closing (or vice versa, heh).

The first problem is the vertical line in the center of each icon. The assumption here is that the line represents the seam of the two elevator doors when they are shut (your guess is as good as mine). Your elevator may not have two doors, in which case these icons would make even less sense to you. So then if this line represents the seam of two closed elevator doors, why is it on both icons? At least one of these icons requires a visual element that represents two open doors so that we can start to understand that these icons are opposites.

The second problem is the shape of the arrows. The choice to use only arrowheads in these icons without the stems (for lack of a better term) ultimately confuses the action taking place in each icon. The vertical flat edge of the arrows and the virtual rectangular space they occupy makes the arrowheads feel like elevator doors. In the open icon, the two arrowheads are facing away from the center line, evidently indicating that the elevator doors are opening. But with the straight vertical edges of the arrowheads tight against the center line of the icon, the doors look closed and the style of arrow isn’t strong enough to counter this visual with the intended action. The opposite occurs in the close icon, where the seemingly large distance between the center line of the icon and the two straight vertical edges of the arrows make the doors appear open.

The combination of the above items makes the language of these two icons very confusing. The two icons currently read like this:

  •  Open door icon: the doors are closed, open them
  •  Close door icon: the doors are open, close them

Or:

  • Open door icon: fucked if I know
  • Close door icon: who cares?

Instead the icons should read like this:

  • Open door icon: open the doors
  • Close door icon: close the doors

The difference is a matter of information. The current icons have too much of it, and it’s causing visual confusion. Mainly the current icons are displaying both the current and future states of the doors, and we don’t need to know all of that in these icons. All we really need is the future states, the end result of pressing these buttons: “open” and “closed”. We already know the current state of the doors (they are after all causing us to choose one of these icons),  and we need them to be the opposite of that.

Good information icons focus on that one important bit of information, and visually relay that to the user as a representative of all the other information. These elevator icons are visually pleasing, but ultimately fail to communicate effectively due to an over abundance of information, and poorly executed design.

Ultimately, I can’t close the doors fast enough.

Summer Vacation Is Over

By | Esoterica

Any “clear headed” rationalizations merely obfuscated the real issue: summer vacation was over, and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it. Not to say I didn’t try.

First I tested hiding as a method in which to relieve myself from the end of summer. This highly scientific process led me to three discoveries:

  1. My physical location had little effect on the fast approach of “the end”
  2. The real culprit was time, rather than my actual location in space (eureka!)
  3. Cramped quarters and full bladders are not good friends

Realizing the true problem now, I decided to abstain from time. You know, just for a little while. But apparently, this is easier said than done. At first, you might think, you could just ignore time. Pretend it’s not there, and perhaps it will go away. But time is a persistent bugger, and it tends to hang around whether you pay it any attention or not. It’s rather unwelcome, as a matter of fact.

Fine then, I thought, I’ll opt out. I’ll opt out of time by way of some metaphysical do not call list. I’ll divorce time, we’ll each go our separate ways, but I get dog custody, of course. And so you’d think with time always hanging around, it’d be easy to contact. But no,  it’s never there when you want it. So with no real means of making contact with the time customer service line, I needed another plan. Technology, I decided, would be the cure.

Never let anyone ever tell you you never learned anything from watching television. I learned you can build a time machine out of almost anything: a police box, a phone booth, a Delorean, a bunch of old watch parts. I also learned that cathode ray tubes hold a potentially lethal electrical charge, even when unplugged, and the doctors assured me that I’ll be able to feel my hands again in a matter of weeks. “Give it time,” they said. Don’t get me started.

A few other things I learned through my experiments with time:

  1. You can’t actually kill time. There might be a time for killing, but just not time itself, and that’s a really creepy phrase
  2. “Time waits for no man”, which is kind of rude. I mean, if I promised somebody a ride, I’d give them a few extra minutes to get ready. Time should expect us all to be late, and schedule accordingly.
  3. “Time heals all wounds”. Bullshit, it was the stinky ointment.
  4. “Time is relative”. Well, maybe the one you don’t talk about because they’ve done questionable things to livestock.
  5. “Out of time”. I tried, you can’t. It appears to be endless.
  6. “Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in.” Ahem. Thoreau can suck it.

So anyway, summer vacation was over, and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it. So, here I am, back at work. New blog, new web host, new domain name, new stories and entries each week. Even original comics now and again, because sometimes reading is hard, and you just want to look at the pretty pictures and chuckle.

Welcome to ryanreid.com.