January 15, 2010

The Ungulate Menace

Outwitting Deer: 101 Truly Ingenious Methods and Proven Techniques to Prevent Deer from Devouring Your Garden and Destroying Your Yard

This book was written by: Bill Adler, Jr., a scarred veteran of countless battles of wits. He has shared his experiences through this and other books, including Outwitting Fish and How to Negotiate like a Child.

What is in this book: This book is a strategy guide for people willing to admit that Ungulates, including deer, moose, and elk, are their intellectual superiors and outmatched only by the diabolical cunning of the Ford F150 truck. Although "deer are very, very big squirrels"(p.4), their intelligence is not to be underestimated. Deer "may not be rocket scientists, [but] they are very, very good at doing what deer are supposed to do—find food. [....] To do it well, they need to overcome all obstacles that we humans put in their path—that is to say, outwit our cleverest schemes to outwit them"(p.165, emphasis from the author). Worse yet, deer are just as much of an eyesore as tramps and vagrants—and like the homeless, "they've even been caught eating fish in a lake, sleeping by the interstate, jumping off bridges, feasting on ornamental gardens, and sleeping under decks"(p.34).Definitive proof from the book that deer are just big squirrels. Click to read.
What is not in this book: Tips for beating deer at Mah Jong or Canasta. The book's advice ranges from appeasement, suggesting that you "use plants such as alfalfa on the outskirts of your yard to keep deer full and happy"(p.60), to scorched earth, telling you to "empty your vacuum-cleaner bag on your flower bed"(p.170) or "ask your city or town to build a highway through your backyard"(p.171), but they are all deer management techniques for gardeners. There is no advice for hunters, although readers interested in gratuitous animal cruelty will want to check out tip 66, "Attract deer to electric fencing by stringing it with peanut butter-smeared aluminum foil flags—one zap and they won't return"(p.170).

Would you recommend this book to Richard Connell? Yes. "Deer, after all, are enemies—enemies of those of us who garden for the joy of it, for relaxation, for food, for something fulfilling to do while our significant other watches sports on television"(p.51). Connell might want to rethink the plotting of "The Most Dangerous Game" since the unending struggle of man vs. deer makes Zaroff vs. Rainsford look like two kittens tussling over a bit of string.

Would you recommend this book to someone with a scat fetish? Maybe, maybe not. I think they're already following tip 10, "experiment with products like predator urine"(p.167), tip 64, "purchase predator urine and feces and place strategically throughout your garden"(p.169), tip 76, "get a hold of bear droppings and sprinkle throughout garden,"(p.170) and maybe even tip 78, "buy or beg coyote and/or wolf urine and leave sponges around your yard that are soaked in the stuff"(p.170). Like my crazy ex-gym teacher, I bet they're already following tip 81, "Urinate around the perimeter of your garden"(p.170).

Photo of witty deer by JACK MARSCHALL/CITY OF PARMAWhat was interesting about this book? This book is part of a series on outwitting various subjects. Bill Adler, Jr., and his wife have formed an agency to develop other titles in the series to help readers with topics including Outwitting Constipation and Outwitting Cats (although some may question the patriotism of their proposed book on Outwitting the Immigration Process). They are also looking for authors willing to write some of these books, and according to their website, Mr. Adler and his wife are very interested in help with Outwitting Sexual Problems.

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January 1, 2010

Working with or without Mayonnaise

Bringing out the best at work without bringing out the Hellmans.
Bringing out the Best in Yourself at Work: How to Use the ENNEAGRAM System for Success

This book was written by: Ginger Lapid-Bogda, PhD, a therapist who had been practicing for 20 years before discovering the power of the Enneagram in the 1990s. She has since become an advocate of the Enneagram system, taking her consulting career in a new direction. “While the Enneagram may be used solely as a psychological tool, many prefer to use the system with the psychological and spiritual elements intertwined”(p.xix).

From page xviii, note that 3, 6, and 9 are stuck in their own separate triangle. Losers.What is in this book: A discussion of ways to apply the Enneagram system in a business environment. “No one knows the precise origins of the Enneagram, though its roots appear to lie in Asia and the Middle East and date from several thousand years ago”(p.xvii). This ancient technique was not widely publicized until two mystics and a psychiatrist started teaching it in the early twentieth century, but we can rely on their archaeological and anthropological credentials to give the Enneagram the same unimpeachable authenticity as Calgon and pearl cream.
The Enneagram system arranges people around a nine-pointed figure, assigning a number and a corresponding “style” to each point. It then makes use of geometry and mathematical relationships to show clear, intuitive linkages, like the way 1 leads to 4 but 8 leads to 5 while 4 leads to 2 and 7 leads to 1. It’s perfect for people who want something a little more decorative than a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator but think that the Zodiac is too fancy.

Page 90. More pinches than kindergarten.What is not in this book: A cookie-cutter approach that treats all personalities the same. People experience different “pinches” and “crunches” depending on their Enneagram style, and deal with them in a number of ways. For example, one Two notes that “’at family functions, I offer each person a foot rub. If the person refuses, I get quite upset and wonder why they don’t like me!’”(p.14) “Eights may amuse themselves by making comments to themselves about the events or by engaging in conversation about what they are observing, sometimes using profanity or body-based humor”(p.48), while “people often do not realize that Twos want to be explicitly thanked”(p.99). Readers can make use of this information to put others at ease, trading dick jokes with Eights and thanking Twos with the help of explicit lyricists like 2 Live Crew.

Would you recommend this book to The Prisoner? Yes. If Number 6 is concerned about being a free man, “the Enneagram provides a great step forward in helping people to develop their humanity at work”(p.xx). What better way to do that than to assign yourself a number?

Would you recommend this book to Tim Allen? Yes. If there’s one thing I learned from Home Improvement, it’s that he loves tools, and “The Enneagram is the single most useful, profound, insightful, and practical tool available to help us grasp the depth and complexity of the human personality”(p.xvii, emphasized by the author). Better yet, because “the Enneagram is the single most powerful tool available to help you develop your emotional intelligence”(p.xvi, emphasized by the author), it’s also a power tool.

Page 150 is the reason why I avoid sports.What was interesting about this book? The book’s section on teams will help a wide variety of people, no matter how they prefer to work together. “Some prefer low interdependence, akin to that of a golf team; some prefer medium interdependence, as on a baseball team; and others prefer high interdependence, as on a basketball team”(p.149), although people who prefer to avoid sports metaphors are shit out of luck. Understanding and applying the Enneagram is important because “gaining a true understanding of your personality frees you from being constricted by certain aspects of it, allowing you to use all facets of yourself to become more of who you really are”(p.260). However, this may not be a good idea if you really are a jerk.

Bringing out the Best in Yourself at Work: How to Use the ENNEAGRAM System for Success, by Ginger Lapid-Bogda, PhD (McGraw Hill, 2004, ISBN 0-07-143960-9)

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