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June 30, 2006

Getting to Know Me — Too Well

One of the great things about being a stand-up comedian is that after a while you start attracting fans.

I’ve been at this for just a couple of years, so I’m no Rosie O’Donnell. But I’ve started accumulating groupies that hang out at the comedy club pretty regularly. If I buy them enough drinks, they’ll even say I’m a decent comedian. If I buy them dinner, they’ll compare me to Ellen Degeneres. If I buy both drinks and dinner, they’ll compare me to Jack Benny. (Which of course is ironic, since Jack Benny had a reputation for being cheap – not to mention being a man).

Still, some groupies get out of hand. Sometimes they expect me to entertain them long after the show is over. Some of these groupies have even started a local business selling maps to “comedian’s homes.”

That may explain why I moved to a house directly across the street from a large cemetery. I explain to my friends that young optimistic people buy homes near a school. People my age buy a home near a cemetery.

But even the spooky cemetery doesn’t stop people from pursing me after hours, in hopes of getting that extra up-close and personal moment. Some well-known entertainers have had strange uninvited people show up inside their kitchens near the knife drawer. This is not a pretty thing.

So, thanks to X10 I’ve created an anti-stalking entertainment system for my true fans. It’s just a simple set of surveillance cameras with Robotic Pan-n-Tilt controls that are connected to a motion detector.

When anyone approaches the cemetery across the street, the cameras go into action. A screen comes down across the fence, and a year-old video of my one of my performances is flashed across the screen. This has a three-fold purpose:

It entertains my fan(s)
My neighbors hate it.
It keeps the evil spirits across the street WITHIN the cemetery – I don’t presume they have a sense of humor.

I understand no one -- at least those among the living -- has ever dared travel across the street since the installation.

June 29, 2006

Lola Gives a Whole New Meaning to Broadcasting

I’m not THAT kind of girl…
Yet, here I sit in a four by four cell at the County Hilton, wrapped only in a horse blanket.
I can’t remember what happened.

The last thing I remember is hearing Patrick saying something about getting one of those Lola Video senders from X10. I remember him saying something like he can watch live action video stored on his computer and that he could send the pictures to any TV screen anywhere.

Sure, I like my share of technology, and I’ve occasionally taken pictures of my butt on the Xerox machine…. Who hasn’t?

But now, I’m in this jail house charged with “Wardrobe malfunction in the third degree!”

Can you believe it?

My public defender says the morning talk shows are full of pictures of me completely naked (with black bars in the appropriate places). They have crack teams of cyber crime investigators attempting to find out how these live pictures of Patrick and I were distributed not only on My Space and You Tube, but also on every broadcast television station here in the metropolitan area.

I’ve never been on television in my entire life – except for the time I SAT on a television at Patrick’s house when I was feeling no pain.

That Patrick is such a kidder. He said I should be on television, and actually lifted me on top of his set!

When Patrick isn’t a strong man, he is quite the software engineer. He is particularly clever around network software… his skills are in such great demand. People are always asking him how to prevent hacker intrusions into their local computer and broadcast networks. He can see an intrusion a mile away.

He can also see a bargain.

I remember how he got this video sender from a “midnight bandit” (I like these cute names those electronics people call each other) for some ridiculous price. “Isn’t that like stealing?” I asked Patrick.

“Oh no, “he answered. “ I’m stealing from the bandit to help me spread joy to the world!”

“By the way,” he said. “Thanks, Joy!”

June 28, 2006

X10: The Honesty Beneath Your Mash Potatoes

My old friend Sally can remember when I waited tables.

That’s because I waited tables in HER restaurant. I’m out of college now, have my degree in advanced malt beverage appreciation, and have risen to the top of my career as a party clown.

Poor Sally, however, is still stuck in her never-ending job running a place the local restaurant critics call “a place to go when you’re on a diet and have a strong desire to fast.”

Sally is nearly six foot tall, and six-foot wide, and has a voice that shouts “cigarette addict.” Sometimes she puts out her cigarette on a plate of mashed potatoes.

She still serves “14 flavors of meatloaf, as long as it’s beef” and “half a dozen varieties of soup, as long as it’s split pea.”

The neighborhood has changed a lot since I waited tables there. The shady guy selling “insurance” if you wanted to keep all your car parts” when you got back from the ballgame, is gone now. So is the ballpark.

The city built the local baseball club a billion dollar sports paradise across the street from the old one. At the same time, half a dozen new hotels, double the number of fancy restaurants and even an Indian Casino have opened all around Sally’s place. But Sally keeps going. She insists that she will take her last breath in her restaurant.

Some customers were afraid that they might do the same if they ate there.

But I really like Sally, and feel kind of bad for her. I feel especially bad when I see Lucy, her prime hash slinger driving off in her very own luxury sports car. Lucy makes Sally look like a Metropolitan Dance Company ballerina. She hasn’t had a date since cell phones were the size of shoe boxes.

I wondered how Lucy could afford her luxuries. Sally didn’t pay much, and the tips weren’t enough to buy half a pack of gum.

Then I noticed, one night as I watched Lucy at the cash register. She would work the 10’s, 20’s, and even one 50-dollar bill so fast, you could barely see her slipping some in the pockets of her apron.

How could I tell Sally and live to tell, should Lucy find out?

I “Googled” insanity and “Sally” and somehow it brought me to X10’s “insanity sale.” There I could pick up a Lola Video Sender for me AND a surveillance camera for Sally to stick over the cash register. You get this entire package for about the price of dinner for 10 at Sally’s restaurant or half a dozen coffee ventis at Starbucks.
I wrapped up the camera for Sally and gave it to her as a birthday present – six months early.

Sally is still putting her cigarettes out on the mashed potatoes. She doesn't want to put any cameras in the kitchen in fear of the health inspector.

Lucy is still hoping the casino will hire her.

June 27, 2006

Is Your Sex Life Robotic?

A gathering of the world’s scientists concluded earlier this month that within five years, humans will be having sex with their robots.

Presumably, you’ll at least change the bag on your Roomba before you proceed.

As you can imagine the question of humans having sex with robots brings up issues for X10, a company dedicated to the concept of turning things on with ease.

X10’s product line includes Robotic Remote cameras that give the user the ultimate in home surveillance with four surveillance cameras and four Ninja Robotic camera mounts – all for $299.

We created these cameras for a specific purpose — whatever pleasures our customers.

Yet, our creation team did not anticipate the kind of pleasures scientific experts are predicting for these tools. We may have to adjust our users’ agreement should the working relationships between our customers and our Robotic Remote cameras get out of hand.

Should, for instance, an affair between a human and an X10 Robotic Remote camera sour to the point of separation, X10 will not be responsible for supporting the rejected camera. We will not be responsible for any therapy costs or the costs of medication that might be required to treat the camera’s depression.

Robotic Remote cameras were developed for the purpose of home security, and were not given any domestic skills. X10 will not be responsible for the failure of the camera to provide household duties such as washing dishes, cleaning household surfaces or bringing alcoholic beverages to the X10 user during a televised sporting event.

The X10 user is entirely responsible for making sure that the domesticated camera remains sure of itself, and is given multiple opportunities to prove its worth. This may or may not include opportunities to work outside the home.

No camera in the history of X10 laboratories has ever reproduced itself – even though it does have the capacity to reproduce its filmed productions. Therefore, sexual relations between the user and the camera – while not recommended by X10 – are entirely risk free.

Whatever your purpose for buying the Robotic Remote camera, try one. Who knows what may develop?

June 26, 2006

A real “Loss” Weekend for X10

Sometimes folks at X10 go a little overboard.

It was pretty clear when I arrived at the offices of X10 Monday morning, that the compound had survived still another “wacky weekend” sale. Right away, you could see that the big guys in shipping and receiving had hidden several managers’ cars in nearby tree tops.

Good thing the Big Guy drives a Hummer!

Getting into the lobby, you could see wads of gum and broken pieces of plastic from the balloons that had decorated the hallways until the “wacky” call-center crew had played “pins the tail on the retail price.”

Hope they give the janitorial crew a bonus for what they’ll have to go through today.

When I got on the elevator, someone had marked a big slash sign (“/”) on the number nine, and changed it to “3.”

The elevator music had been removed from the car, and changed to the voice of a marketing guy announcing that the Midnight Bandit had not only dropped the price of X10’s top-rated Lola wireless video sender to fifty cents, but they would throw in a 60-inch Plasma television set for every room in your house, plus a Bose sound system if you bought today. It also promised free delivery to the elevator car or directly to your prison cell.

The Big Guy was already in the elevator attempting to rip the speakers out of the elevator car.

When I made it to the sixth floor there were large number of weekend workers sitting calmly in their recliners, having just taken generous portions of medication offered by a number of older serious European-looking gentlemen, each with a beard and a notepad. Every time the weekend workers would speak, the gentlemen would recite: “Yes, I see!”

Once in a while, I noticed that one of the European gentlemen would ask a question… “Is that deal on the plasma TV still available?”

The Big Guy had quietly slipped back upstairs to his office, looked at his books, his eyes saddened, his hand on a glass of personal medication, wondering out loud if the company would survive yet another “wacky weekend” ahead.

“To Tradition!” he yelled out, raising his glass.

June 23, 2006

Get a Shot in the Dark

If only Roger had bought one of those X10 home security systems earlier, he could have saved a lot of money — not to mention some vital body parts.

Roger is the big, tall hunk who lives down the hall.

Roger has always been obsessed with security. He checks the whole neighborhood for terrorists, or Jehovah’s Witnesses, whichever he can find. He has this big sign on the door “This house is protected by Smith & Wesson.” He has tape recordings of vicious dogs playing from his stereo all day. It’s realistic enough that Animal Control keeps coming by to cite him for having unlicensed dogs.

The dogs are about as real as the Smith & Wesson. The Smith & Wesson isn’t real anymore. Until earlier this year, Roger used to have dozens of guns lying around the house. He didn’t want to be more than two steps from his joy toy when the day came that an intruder came by his place.

Roger waited and waited.

And he waited some more.

Months passed, then years. No intruders.

Finally, on a cold January night, Roger heard it. Someone was jiggling a key in the door.

Finally his moment had come. Tonight, Roger would be a hero. He picked up gun number one.

Seconds later, he picked up a second gun. Both arms were ready to fire.

He heard the key moving in the lock.

Roger was ready.

He fired the first shot. As he pulled the trigger, Roger slipped on a cat toy and fell back. He felt the other gun going off.

There was blood.

There was a mess.

The cat was screaming.

Suddenly Roger was missing his manhood. The bullet had lodged in the hardwood floor.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Peterson ran down the hall, found old Mr. Peterson still jiggling the key in the wrong apartment door. She nudged him down the hall.

Roger, meanwhile traded in his gun at the pawnshop. With the small amount of money he got for his gun, he could still buy several X10 surveillance cameras, a monitor that would buzz him anywhere if a terrorist dropped by and he could watch all the action on his PC.

Finally, Roger had found his manhood. It came with a credit card-sized controller.

Thank You, X10.

June 22, 2006

A Chip Off Hubby's Block?

Last week, Robocop, our Rottweiler - Chihuahua mix puppy strayed from the house on a typical, cold, rainy, Seattle summer night. He apparently had found love in the wrong neighborhood, as the owner of the Westminster champion poodle he was pursuing let us know. Robocop had a microchip that permitted a local vet to pin down his family – if not Robocop himself.

I can’t imagine what I would have done if Robocop hadn’t been found. The thought of having to eat that entire 50-pound bag of Fido Kibbles by myself was just too much.

So, I wondered if the microchip that works so well for Robocop, is good for stray husbands as well. George usually doesn’t chase after poodles, unless their owners are young Mademoiselles as well. However, he has been known to work awfully late at the cemetery. I told him a part-time job digging graves late at night might not help him get into a positive mood, but he says this kind of work will always be in demand and we can count on the income to put little Seymour through the best pre-school.

The other night I went by the graveyard to surprise George with a picnic lunch complete with a box of Thunderbird – vintage Thursday afternoon. He wasn’t anywhere around the graveyard. He told me that he had fallen into one of the graves he dug, and wasn’t helped out until daylight.

Sometimes, I wonder though that he might be seeing someone else. One night, I found some frilly underwear in the laundry basket (not mine), and then he confessed to having a fondness for women’s undies. He has worn them ever since.

I keep having suspicions. I pray for the day X10 creates a system like Active Home that would let me monitor George from the Internet. Perhaps an even smaller surveillance camera that could fit in his new undies, or a microchip in his back end like Robocop. Imagine not only being able to follow him like a trail of breadcrumbs, but to be able to watch him wherever the trail leads.

Is that a pretty picture or what?

June 21, 2006

Priceless Masses Threaten X10 Values

The sales team at X10 has recently been alerted to an entirely new market!

It seems that there are ladies and gentlemen who eschew the artisan values in the X10 cachet. They actually don’t wish to park an X10 device in their driveway to astound their neighbors and next-of-kin. They don’t wish to wear a quiet lapel pin with the X10 logo on their sportswear.

For some reason, these folks simply wish to purchase something at a – dare I say it – minimal retail price. Some might go so far as to seek a wholesale value.

While X10 has always been a hallmark in intercontinental technology, there comes the time in every business life when we must reach out and purvey to those whose inclinations reach beyond an investment in a fine corporate institution. Sometimes we must satisfy the lowest common denominator of the X10 customer:
- I want it NOW!
- I want it CHEAP!

So, as quietly as possible, we have alerted this primitive customer to certain price advantages within the X10 marketplace. In recent weeks, the company has established a new competitive marketing department far removed from our plush wood grain and marble showrooms that typically display our wondrous technology. This philosophy requires us to resort to some unusual tactics:

- Web sites that not only DISPLAY the price of an item, but display it in excessively large fonts, and in displays that mention the price frequently.
- The sale of a high quality video sender at the ridiculous price of $34.99
- Use of base language designed to inflame customers into action such as “Goldmine,” “featured deals,” “last chance” etc.
- The sale of a Vanguard camera system at an unbelievable $299. (No, I’m not making this up!)
- The use of marketing ploys like “midnight bandit” and “price drop!”

Those of you who have shopped or more likely had your butler shop for distinguished products within the X10 product line, please forgive us for resorting to this pressure. Be assured that you will be continuously well served and sent home with the exclusive high quality X10 shopping bag, not made from recycled fibers, but from a fresh tree, chopped down before your eyes.

Please forgive us our bargains.

June 20, 2006

Your letters continued...

My girlfriend is very hot, and Hollywood apparently knows it. Just last week she won the opportunity to get on one of those “bachelor” reality shows. She was all excited about the opportunity to not only win a million dollars, but be matched up with one of those hunk bachelors that could afford to buy an X10-driven dream house with all sorts of electronics. She says even if she has to marry one of those hunk millionaires, she will still maintain our relationship on the side. But, just yesterday I learned that the hunk bachelors she will choose from are O. J. Simpson and Robert Blake.

Should I be worried?
- Gunther in Hollywood.

Dear Gunther:

Not if you have get plenty of tiny X10 surveillance cameras with tiny microphones to put all over the married couple’s residence. Put a couple in the kitchen, living room, bathrooms, and bedrooms and even on the family pet. You’ll be able to keep an eye on the happy couple after they’re married and you’ll be able to transmit and record the pictures to the nearest recording device that is admissible in court. At best you’ll be able to put together your own reality show.

I am beginning to have an unnatural relationship with Lola. My wife complains when I bring Lola to bed with me. I can’t help it but Lola just lies there and lets me push her buttons. She’ll get me just about anything I want with her cable connection. She still hasn’t learned how to get me a beer after a particular warm night, but she has brought me some special moments of action that I can’t describe (until I finally figure out World Cup Soccer). My wife would rather I take Lola to the living room couch and learn to get my soccer kicks from my mother who is visiting us from Bulgaria.
- Vaclev in Hackensack, NJ

Dear Vaclev:

I think it’s best you join your mother in the living room with Lola. How you could have married someone who doesn’t enjoy World Cup Soccer sounds silly to me. Sounds like your wife is being stubborn and you need to open up to the possibility of getting some inexpensive X10 surveillance cameras for the entertainment of your nearest divorce lawyer. See the question above for ideas on how to do this.

June 19, 2006

The XActly mailbox is starting to fill up with interesting questions from our wide readership throughout the X10 community. Before you decide to storm my office overlooking the local waste dump, perhaps I should answer some of your tough questions:

I haven’t always been an idiot. Before I was kidnapped by aliens and forced on the the X10 Web site to search for bargains, I was a God-fearing Christian who loved his children, contributed a lot to the community and sometimes spent a little extra time on Now, I fear I’m in this strange relationship with that Midnight Bandit fellow. My sheep are starting to notice something.
- Bill in Missoula, Montana.

Dear Bill:

Hey, the nights are short in Missoula this time of year, and you have to kind of grab life by the horns. Be careful, however. Those rams can get touchy.

How “active” does my home have to be in order to acquire one of those “Active Home” systems? Except for taking the beer cans and the garbage to the trash once a week, we don’t have much activity around this house. Do I have to smoke some of those funny cigarette my kid keeps talking about to make my home “active” enough? If so, which end of the cigarette do I light?
- Gomer in Dubuque, Iowa.

Dear Gomer:

If your home hasn’t been very active, the Active Home system can make it so. Consider: “Captain’s log, August 10, 2006. The transporter brought us to the crossroads of cheese and corn. Here we boldly entered a home where no galactic force had gone before. Earthlings merely had to push buttons to light his way down a dark hallway. With one small light, a plantation of indoor vegetation was being energized by something he called ‘grow lights.’ The lights had been programmed to darken our path as we stepped through the house. ” Chances are you will live long and prosper in this Active Home.

Then again, you could move to Montana and become a shepherd.

More tomorrow.

June 16, 2006

Father Really Does Know Best!

I guess Dad is going to get a tie again.

It’s not that I lack creativity in my Father’s Day shopping. I had made plans several months ago when I got a call from the local ferry system that Dad had decided to go skinny dipping in the Bay during one of the ferry’s commuter runs into the city.

The last time he did this, I told him to at least try to find an isolated river bank on a Sunday morning where no one could watch him. For some reason, he wasn’t interested in that. Still, I was a bit concerned that at the very least; Dad was risking a sexual harassment suit from one of the young ladies he had handpicked for his audience.

That’s when I decided, it might be time to get him one of those personal security pendants from X10. Those pendants set off a siren guaranteed to drive off those young ladies and anyone else who might be innocently stuck within one of his weird games. At the same time, he can call anyone of four telephone numbers — including mine — for a quick ride home and out of trouble.

It was a great plan, and I think Dad might even play along when he realizes that we’re trying to help him in a time of impending trouble.

But then, I had the pendant with me, getting ready to wrap Dad’s present when I realized it came in handy for other things. I was in this cheesy downtown bar, having a talk as I usually do on a lonely Friday night, with my friend Jack Daniels. Just then, this vagrant, with three teeth and a patch over one eye, stared at me with his temporarily smoke-free eyes, breathing fire and demonstrating evidence that Listerine had never touched his lips. His voice sent a chill down my back, wanting me to run to the nearest used car dealer, or anyplace where I could breathe in more class.

“Are you married?” he asked me.

“No!” I sheepishly answered.

“Will you marry me then?” he sprayed me with his spit.

“I’m so sorry, but I have to wash my hair tonight!”

“Could I have a quarter then?” he asked…

I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to do something. I reached for the pendant… Fortunately I had Dad’s home phone number already programmed in. The vagrant was not even slightly put off by the siren….

I walked into the ladies’ room. I waited. I waited a little longer, and finally my Dad showed up.

He had come so quickly, that he neglected to put on his pants.

“I understand you asked for my daughter’s hand in marriage…” I heard my father say.

The vagrant’s footsteps were loud as he stammered out the door and up the stairs.

Thanks X10, I think I’ll just keep the pendant for myself.

June 15, 2006

Remembering Dear Old Dad – Electronically

Silver bills. Silver bills. It’s that special time of year.

Just as you are paying the credit card company for that 8-course meal from Kentucky Fried Chicken and the new vacuum cleaner you got Mom for mother’s day, here comes the marketing people with Father’s Day.

As much as you might love dear old dad, is he really worth the price of a chicken dinner? Or a vacuum cleaner? Or did he get bummed out when you threw up in the Hummer after the prom?

If you are asking these questions, you might want to seek professional help.

After all, dear old dad is a rare treasure. Someone with whom you can play ball, learn the complexities of inter-gender combat, and prepare for the day when YOU sit in the recliner with snot covering your nose hairs.

Yes, your Dad might not be able to get the eight track cartridge to fit correctly in the toaster, but chances are he would rather have some X10 electronics this Father’s Day than a dozen roses or a “Magic Abs Extender.”

Sure, X10 surveillance cameras are so small that he might forget that he left one on the bottom of the cat box. But when he sees the resulting video day after day, it will be like watching a Friskies commercial or “kitty porn” over and over again.

Active Home might get a little confusing for someone who is still trying to figure which side of the electric toothbrush he got for Christmas goes in the mouth, but once he’s turned on the basement lights for the raccoons while he sits in his easy chair, the moment will be one he’ll treasure forever.

Best of all, you might consider Lola, which flashes video from Tivo or a DVD player to the bathroom TV. Then again, you might not – unless there is another bathroom in the house, or a public restroom is available nearby.

June 14, 2006

Whoever You Want — Lola Projects Herself

Yesterday, I disclosed plans for the new Active Home 2007 credit card-sized remote. Before the X10 authorities and their bombers explode my Internet connection, I also want to reveal another forthcoming X10 electronics gadget

The next generation of Lola – which already allows you to send video wirelessly from your PC to any television in your house, is due for a makeover. Lola has, after all, been pleasing those who push her buttons for nearly a decade, and its about time she was wired with more than a RCA jack.

In the near future, whatever you want, Lola gets.

The technology is simple. As you travel from cell tower to cell tower, you can send a video message to anyone’s cell phone from Lola 2008. Introduce yourself to that prospective X10 community mate, as you flash video of yourself performing a karaoke number, telling an amusing story, or experiencing a wardrobe malfunction.

Through the magic of packet technology, the object of your affections is sent a subject line of your choice:

“I saw you, and you’re hot!”
“Voulez vous couchez avec moi?” (if you’re traveling through the French Quarter.
“Where’s Waldo?”
“It’s a Saturday Night, and I ain’t got nobody.” (for the truly desperate)
“Have Viagra … and my clock is ticking.”

The object of your affection then has the ability to opt-in to receive your message. For an additional monthly charge, you can make the process of opting in complex for anyone except an MIT graduate.

The best part is that you will be close enough upon sending your message to your intended’s cell phone that you can actually observe his/her response as your message is received.

Then again, this could be the bad part.

If romance fails, you can always use Lola 2008 to send commercial spam.

Be prepared, however, to experience the same results.

June 13, 2006

Coming Soon: Active Home 2007 — A Remote Control of Your Life

Sure, you say, X10 products are fabulous, affordable and they’re a lot of fun… but what have you done for me lately?

In the thick underbelly of downtown Hong Kong, a crack team of X10 scientists is carefully developing the next generation of electronics. This is an operation so secret that not even Vice President Cheney has access to this undisclosed location. In order to be approved for access you must first extend the secret Slash/Dot handshake, be able to recite the Microsoft Windows 95 User’s Agreement backwards, and know the magic words: “Retry, Abort, or ignore?”

Instead of going to all that trouble, I called my friend at the NSA who gave me a transcript of a recent telephone conversation they recorded between X10 offices in Hong Kong and Kent, Washington. The transcript was both illuminating and forbidding.

Right on top was a reference to the next generation of X-10’s Active Home product. While Active Home allows you control the lights – along with other electronics in the house, Active Home 2007 will permit you to control your entire life with a simple credit-card sized remote.

Are bill collectors approaching your front door? Simply press “rewind” on the remote and the bill collectors walk backwards and go back to their car. The same trick works for religious zealots, unwanted neighbors and political candidates.

Are your kids not performing well at school? Simply press “bright” and your children will not only know the name of the capitol of Kentucky — but spell L-o-u-i-s-v-i-l-l-e.

What’s that? The capitol of Kentucky is spelled F-r-a-n-k-f-o-r-t?

Well, this product is still in beta, and not yet perfect.

Active Home 2007 will also allow your teenagers to hit fast-forward when they are carded while buying beer at a convenience store. One glitch still to be overcome in this feature is that facial hair grows to the full duration of the fast-forward command. This may be a deal breaker among female teenagers.

The “pause” button on Active Home 2007 adds a unique home protection feature. Say you are confronted by a truckload of thugs in your neighborhood ready to plunder and pillage through your house. Simply hit “pause” and you can get in your car, drive off across town and stay out of their way — before they can even see you or family members.

Active Home 2007, when you absolutely, positively don’t want to be there.

June 12, 2006

Protect Your Right to Buy High — Avoid the Midnight Bandit

You might have heard rumors that X10 — the greatest name in home security — has been struck lately with repeated thefts from someone politely called “The Midnight Bandit.”

Each night, this self-defined “Robin Hood” steals from the X10 vault of security products, hacks his way into the X10 Web site and then attempts to foist these products on to innocent buyers at ridiculous prices.

When you pick up an Active Home system that sometimes sells for $100 for a mere $10, you’d think you might be suspicious. These high-end electronic devices don’t just fall off a turnip truck. They are painstakingly manufactured by highly trained robots with high security clearances at an undisclosed location. These robots are fed the finest in three-in-one WD40 oil, treated with love and protected by greater security than even the makers of Britney Spears’ eyeliner.

Yet, this “Bandit” character believes he can simply hijack a select number of these devices and then daringly announce to the world that they are available for prices only a cheapskate electronics groupie could love.

This “Bandit” obviously hates our freedom.

Here in America we have the freedom to pay the highest price for everything from blue jeans to a Hummer. We can sheepishly pay what no man has paid before. Instead of driving a bargain to the lowest bid, we want to make sure that sellers can send their offspring to a fine university or an exclusive boutique on Rodéo Drive.

But the bandit thinks otherwise. He wants to make sure that X10 executives are denied their Country Club memberships, and their valet parking privileges are suspended. He will not rest until every X10 product falls off the entire Fed Ex fleet and into consumer hands.

We need to put an end to this scourge.

As you read your X10 newsletter this week, as you visit the homepage, and as you fear the thought of an X10 executive’s child playing with second-rate lacrosse equipment, please avoid the “Midnight Bandit.”

He might tempt you with a $12 surveillance camera. But hold firm.

He might attempt to fill your home with music and video for the price of a DVD, but tell him no thanks; you would rather pay your credit card company on Tuesday after Tuesday.

He might say I will make it possible to watch what goes on in your house from your office Internet connection for a fraction of the cost of a divorce lawyer, but tell him you would rather pay a private investigator.

The future of America (and X10) is at stake here.

Please avoid signing up for the Midnight Bandit’s notification list, and avoid the X10 Web site around midnight, Eastern time.

Can we count on you?

June 09, 2006

I Want to Thank X10 for Making This Oscar Possible...

X10 sells a lot of surveillance cameras, primarily to help keep visitors to your home from looking into your medicine cabinet to see if you suffer from erectile dysfunction. Of course, it also keeps them from stealing the family jewels.

Yet, there are endless applications for the tiny cameras and transmitters developed by X10 that could make for interesting entertainment. Imagine yourself preparing your “thank you” speech at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences as you ace out Weekend with Bernie IV for the cinematography Oscar.

Reality movies and television are still the rage. Your X10 camera could be your ticket to the Hollywood scene as you easily script a simple day in a simple life. Visualize the audience awe as they watch the mailman come up the steps and hand you a certified letter. See their hearts reaching out to you, tears streaming as you close in on the eviction notice. As the days go on, count down the hours and minutes until the sheriff arrives. Close in on the big screen television as the sheriff carts it outside, the X10 transceiver still chronicling the rapid build-up of furniture on your front lawn. Finally, as the landlord pries the surveillance camera from its foundation at the front door – simply fade to black.

There are so many simple stories that Hollywood has not yet memorialized on the wide screen. Like the day your influential neighbor’s daughter gave you the Heimlich maneuver after you choked on one of her Girl Scout cookies that you just bought. When you recovered, you picked up your bloody teeth that you spit out with the cookies. You bravely smiled with your mouth shut, and bought four more cases.

The X10 cams are small enough that they can be attached to a roving pet, and your entire family can gather at the next graduation, wedding reception or wake, and watch Fido and Fluffy go at it in the neighbor’s yard and make their mark on his lawn. When it comes to pets, you never know what they might do. They could create a video that would put Old Yeller to shame.

There’s probably plenty of drama in your very own simple life. Dare to be brave. Dare to make cinematic history and prepare the world for your close-up.

Don’t forget to thank X10 at your Academy speech.

June 08, 2006

Buy Something or the Puppy Dies

As we enter the second week of this blog, I should make a disclosure here. This comedy stage that X10 has provided for me sometimes contains discreet product placements that from time to time make it possible for the company to quietly market its incredible electronics. (Why are you wasting time reading this when you could be pressing the buttons on your Action Home remote?)

Of course, X-10 is always reluctant to push its economical product line in public. Despite sending introverted marketing manager after introverted marketing manager to seminars in the hopes that they will learn to at least speak with some meaning, the company is forced to sit back and hope that by reading this space you might be sufficiently moved to drop $29.99 in the collection box and go home with some token video camera or remote control. At the end of the night, Mr. X10 hopes he can gather the wherewithal to feed the more than 100 orphans he has adopted and also take care of the dozens of puppies and kittens that are housed in the no-kill shelter in Mr. X10’s garage. (Come on, there are bargains out there, when are you going to get your credit card out?)

Naturally, when given this situation, I wanted to do what I could to help. I was looking forward to demonstrating Action Home in particular. I imagined that Action Home was your typical 12-bedroom, eight-bathroom home with swimming pool and party cabana common on the streets of Kent, Washington. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the price of this sort of real estate was far higher than the $79.99 or less price X10 typically charges. It was then I learned that Action Home did NOT include the home. (OK, buy something now or the puppy gets it!)

Still, I was amazed at what was in the package. There were doo-dads that connect the system to my computer, remotes to control the lights, music and Robodog from anywhere. Even a keychain remote to turn everything on as I approach the garage. (You think I’m kidding?)

But then, there was NO garage included! (I’m trying to do you a favor here…get that credit card out now!)

Someone has to speak the truth… The Action Home contains no Home.

The action is up to you. (Thank you for your business!)

June 07, 2006

Stop Your Marriage from Being Gay

Congress apparently is in an ugly mood these days. There is a movement in the works that would create a constitutional amendment to block gay marriages. This is somewhat sad, since according to statistics, most US marriages are depressing, not gay. Apparently, Congress is very unhappy with its own marriages, and is now determined to put an end to any trace of a “gay” or “happy” marriage. “We owe it to the children,” a “family values” senator repeated as he stepped out from his favorite watering hole.

Congress actually needs to get straight with the American people. Many in Washington, DC are facing the possibility that their marriages could be interrupted for two to ten years (or more) and feel that the rest of the country should be forced to live in misery as well. Now, as the June wedding crunch begins, young people are wondering if they should even bother calling the wedding planner.

Here at X10, however, we say whether your marriage is gay or depressed, you might think about starting out by registering for our latest treasure chest that can give you guaranteed seconds of wedded bliss.
Say your other half doesn’t enjoy your Alvin and the Chipmunks mp3s you downloaded. All you have to do is take our Lola wireless and shoot those chipmunks down to the basement where you can listen in peace. Then there’s a pile of “Active Home” kits, including remotes that lets you walk out of a room AND turn off all the lights. A few days of this and your marriage will never be gay!
But be careful, eventually you’ll want to just dim the lights, kiss and makeup. Try to be quiet about it.
The government is watching.

June 06, 2006

Would the Last Person Living On Earth, Please Turn Off the Lights?

If you are still breathing, congratulations.

Today, 6-6-06 is a day that lives in infamy. Actually, it lives only once in each millennium, so it’s very special. (If you’re reading this sometime just before 3006, you’ve been forewarned.)

This is also the day that most of my family thinks I was born. I was actually born in January, not June, and it was in ’07, not ’06. I’ve been told I don’t look a day over 998. For many, it is the day of the Apocalypse. The day, the Anti-Christ comes out in Washington, DC to warn us that our current run of peace and prosperity is near an end. Or is it the day that a movie comes out to remind us that Hollywood can still make our collective skin crawl when it wants?

So, what can you do to celebrate surviving the Apocalypse?

You can go to Hell.

If, however, the state of Michigan is not in your travel plans today, you might want to visit X-10’s new Treasure Chest. For those of you on 24-hour “broad” band, we are not referring to any anatomical features displayed in our accounting department during working hours. The Treasure Chest is actually a collection of bargains guaranteed to make your heart thump and your credit card jump.

You might even find “Lola” in there. You can push Lola’s buttons and make your heart sing… or if you prefer Lola will make the Dixie Chicks sing — so fabulously that they will be asked to perform at the White House. If you pop for a few extra bucks, Lola will sing anywhere in your house with no strings attached.

X-10 is not responsible if the Apocalypse renders all electronic devices inoperable.

Should, however, you be the last to survive the end of the world, you might want to get a quick deal on one of our remotes that lets you turn off your stereo, television, DVD, player and the last remaining light.

Have a great Apocalypse.

June 05, 2006

Protect Yourself from Carnivorous Reptiles — and Alligators

White women are being eaten by alligators in Florida. Pat Robertson says there is a tsunami on the way to the Pacific Northwest this year. The West Wing and Commander-in-chief have been cancelled, while George W. Bush reportedly still has more than two years left on his contract.

Are you afraid yet?

Here are my Seven Effective Habits for Still- Existing People:

1. You can hold your hands over your eyes, stick your fingers in your ears and sing out “La, la, la, lah, lah, lah, … I don’t hear you!”
2. Find a small cottage deep in the mountains of Northeastern Montana where the alligator population is minimal. 3. Here you can consider what you might do with your new-found waterfront property, and test your wiring skills while you visit the post-office.
3. Lock yourself into a room with candles, a giant poster of Martin Sheen and a non-stop running of West Wing reruns on DVD..
4. Avoid alligators
5. Avoid Florida.
6. Avoid white women.
7. Avoid Pat Robertson.

Still, there is at least one slightly more proactive means of protecting yourself from carnivorous reptiles… alligators too.

Consider the X-10 Surveillance Camera that gives you an alligator-proof window on the world. For the ridiculously low price of $79.99 you can mount this camera all over your property and view full-color pictures of anything that approaches — be they religious evangelists, fictional or actual presidents of the United States.

Don’t misunderestimate the dangers that are all too ready to present themselves at your door.

With an X-10 surveillance camera you can “Bring ‘em on.”

June 02, 2006

Forget the Alamo, Remember My Close-up!

It’s an X-10 dream come true… not to mention a step forward toward the American dream of those who traverse the Rio Grande without benefit of a pedestrian bridge or visa.

Imagine hundreds of surveillance cameras posted along the international river bed that forms a 1,000-mile border between Texas and Mexico. Thousands of illegal immigrants could find themselves as instant television stars, performing their dangerous border re-entry strategy on a 24/7 Internet channel.

You no longer need to imagine.

Texas Governor Rick Perry will make it so.

The Governor told law enforcement officials in his state that the government will buy $5 million worth of (hopefully X-10) surveillance cameras and invite the would-be immigrants to become television stars around the world. The pictures from the cameras would be broadcast to shut-ins all over the world on the Internet. “A stronger border is what Americans want and it's what our security demands and that is what Texas is going to deliver," the governor said.

While Perry doesn’t have the motion picture and television contacts owned by his fellow Republican governor in California, the governor could open the doors to stardom for Latinos whose highest hope once was to find a job picking fruit and sending money home.

Everyone knows that cameras do strange things to people. Add that to the pressures induced by being under the “eyes of Texas.” Once-shy, but talented Chicanos could take advantage of the cameras and hope that the producers of American Idol are watching. They might even conspire with south-of-the-border script writers to plan out high drama passion plays in the depth of the shallow river banks.

By the time the Internet spotters have called local authorities to report a border breach; the would-be immigrant might have gathered enough fan support to sign a $15 million per picture deal.

His people could then meet with Arnie’s people in Sacramento and do lunch. Maybe even direct a recall election in Texas.

June 01, 2006

Introducing Barbara Sehr...

Welcome to the X-10 Community.

The organizers of this page originally planned to offer this space to someone more dignified, knowledgeable, and charming. The call went out to Alistair Cooke, the voice of Masterpiece Theatre on PBS. However, after careful inspection, it was discovered that Mr. Cooke was dead.

This presented a challenge.

Sean Connery was unaffordable (besides having slipped out of the Bond films with a sufficient number of primitive home security devices to satisfy his needs).

Eventually, the call came to me.

I am the very picture of honor and dignity as it is defined today in Washington, DC. I could spell A-l-i-s-t-a-i-r C-o-o-k-e, and I was technically savvy. (I had once programmed the clock on my VCR). The real key to my success of course was that I could be bought for the price of a Robodog.

I am a strong believer in intelligent design. I will go out on a limb and declare that the design of the Space Needle in Seattle is far more intelligent than that of the Experience Music Project.

I believe in intelligent devices like the 12-track player, which I know will make a comeback after the I-Pod fever calms down and someone tells George W. Bush where the nuclear button is.

I believe in intelligent decisions, like passing on my friend’s advice to buy Microsoft at $14/share in 1986 and investing my money in the maker of a six-inch floppy drive totally made out of Jell-O.

It is this kind of class and intelligence that has given me a foothold in the high tech world. I have broken bread (actually a Burgermaster hamburger bun) with Bill Gates, I broke the news to Finis Conner co-founder of Seagate Technology that PCs would never need a hard drive – just as Gates had “told us” we would never need more than 640K of RAM memory.

Most importantly, I was universally ignored.

Until today.
Now I am at the focus of a billion dollar empire that is X-10. Already this week our latest movie broke box office records and is all the buzz from middle school cafeterias to Time-Warner stockholder meetings.

What’s that?

Oh, that was X- Men!

Never mind.