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August 31, 2006

The End is Near

They say blogging means you never run out of things to say.

I have shared a lot about X10 in these columns over the past few months.

You’ve met the “Big Guy,” who runs this place, a guy with a big heart and a softness for bandits. He is so proud of X10 technology that he want to give it all away. He hopes that ultimately everyone will be so happy with X10 products that each X10 product will serve as a world standard in its many product categories.

You’ve met the slightly shy marketing managers that throw “wacky weekend” parties whenever the Big Guy isn’t looking. Sometimes, they even let the Midnight bandit free again, just for the happiness of pursuit. Of course X10 products can sell themselves, and the Big Guy may be wondering if it might not be cheaper to put them all in vending machines and let the customers just drop nickels into the machine. Perhaps one day, home computers will actually be able to DELIVER products, instead of just setting up orders.

Meanwhile, we have pointed you to the next big thing. X10’s reticent Web pages tell you everything you ever wanted to know about a major surveillance camera unit or even a tiny remote. If that’s not enough, X10 has customer service people available 24 hours per day to answer your questions. There's even a Wiki to help spread your wisdom to other X10 users.

You might not have noticed, but there is a certain amount of marketing that goes on in this place.

This brings me to my own future.

I won’t be bringing you Xactly after today. X10 has called me to a new direction, in what promises to be an exciting opportunity to build unabashed words that will soon bolster the local landscape surrounding a great new product. My words will bolster a single product, rather than the varieties of creatures you’ve seen escape this blog space.

However, you’ll probably recognize my words when you see them on this Web site. Both of my readers know me quite well. (Hi Mom!)

I look forward to serving you in a different capacity in the weeks ahead.

August 30, 2006

It's SeaMaggot in a Photo Finish

It’s that time of the year. Time for “Snakes on a Plane” and “How to Eat Fried Worms.”

How about “SeaMaggot?

OK, it’s not the sport of Kings, but it seems to be catching on in London. Far from Churchill Downs, far from any equestrian tracks, sits a London pub that has launched a successful series of maggot races.

Your first question is likely to be where does the pub find maggot-sized jockeys to bring each creepy-crawly across the pencil-length track to the finish line?

This is where it gets creative. Fans who gather at the pub actually assign invisible jockeys on each contestant, marveling at the style of each competitor, its composition and each maggot’s ability to buzz to the finish line. The finish line is a stick that must be crossed by the winning maggot. The track can get diverse as well, sometimes including tiny waterfalls, parsley bunches and other obstructions.

Yes, it’s true that maggots have little horse sense, and sometimes they do not follow the beaten path. The excitement comes in the wagering for each entry, as each winning bug wins a collective cash prize for its assigned charity.

Sensing an infective sport, X10 has put its corporate mantra behind the competition, offering to televise each race internationally through the use of four of its Ninja robotic cameras. The cameras are capable of catching close-up of each insect as it makes its way through a forest of twigs and other obstructions along the path. “You can’t imagine the amusement we experience when a little maggot falls off its path and drops its imaginary jockey to the ground,” says Basil Catgut, who has been following the sport for nearly a decade.

SeaMaggot, meanwhile continues on his immortal combat in the Winner’s Circle, as he follows in the footsteps of his equine inspiration, SeaBiscuit. Considering that the life expectancy of an average maggot is less than nine months, SeaMaggot has led a full and productive life.

The entry of X10 into sponsorship will likely widen the interest in the sport across the world, said Rachel Smythe, a reporter for As the Maggots Crawl, the insect equivalent of the Racing Form. X10 is currently perfecting a version of its video sender to put the finished maggot race pictures in proper focus.

August 29, 2006

The Calm Before the Storm

As still another major hurricane threatens New Orleans, just one year after Katrina, the Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA say they are prepared for anything.

Government contractors say they have nearly completed the installation of a top-of-the-line X10 Sentinel camera on the New Orleans levee system. In addition to the camera, the corps will install as many as three motion sensors. “This way we won’t have to wait for the media to tell us if the levee breaks next time,” an engineer remarked. “We’ll be able to tell right away when it’s time to rev up the engines on our getaway plane.”

The Corps will install the cameras for a mere $150 million. That breaks down to $599 for the bandit-priced Sentinel camera, about $200 for the motion detectors and about $149, 000,000,391 (including sales tax) for the government contractor to install the system. The Corps doesn’t believe the installation costs are excessive. “How can you put a price on human life?” he said.

Among the human life to be saved are Corps and government contractor employees. It is not known if the corps will include a video sender within the system that will send the pictures of the levee breaking to an emergency communications center. “The people who were in harm’s way last August are probably still well out of the way,” one official said. “Those who have the means to leave town quickly are likely to take advantage of early warnings.”

There are some in the city who question the installation package. They believe that the $150 billion installation cost might have been used to build a far better levee system and perhaps save the city from future destruction. “These people obviously have never been a part of the entertainment industry,” a Corps of Engineers official said. “Think of the money that has been generated in the past year by Katrina – just in books, films and documentary television alone.”

Entertainment sources say New Orleans could stand to generate billions of dollars in film revenue should Hurricane Ernesto slam the city during this anniversary week. “This will create dozens of chick flicks for the Lifetime Channel alone!”

Not only would a new hurricane generate billions of dollars in film revenue, sources say it could make or break dozens of careers in broadcast journalism. Some may remember that it was Hurricane Carla slamming Galveston, Texas in 1961 that created a career for an obscure Houston reporter named Dan Rather. Last year, Katrina created another powerhouse, Anderson Cooper.

Entertainment industry officials say MSNBC broadcaster Rita Cosby was last seen in a Gore-Tex retailer purchasing numerous rain slicks and a strap-on wind hat.

August 28, 2006

Keeping Cool With Ernesto

Ernesto Chavez was overjoyed. His name would go up in lights on highway warning signs; it would headline the evening news and be the subject of lots of David Letterman jokes.

No longer would the world pay its respect to that angry lady, Katrina.

Right now, today, his very own hurricane was headed for his native home in Cuba. Ernesto would be looked upon as a powerful force, winds faster than an American government excuse, able to fell tall buildings in a single exhale, and fighting for truth, justice and a FEMA debit card. Ernesto knew his name would soon replace Katrina’s in the American lexicon.

All of his life, Ernesto had issues. He was extremely shy, keeping to himself. Only his pit bull and his German shepherd were given access to his compound where he had stocked up on disaster relief supplies. He had built a bunker underneath the Texas Medical Center in Houston, where he knew one day the waves of water would pour. Ernesto was just an entrepreneur who believed in the American Dream, like others in Texas. He had believed in the American dream since he had arrived in America on a row boat from Cuba with nothing but a couple of cigars and two over-the-hill singers from the Havana Playboy Club. At least the singers were able to navigate a boat – but Ernesto swore that he would jump the next time he heard “Michael Row Your Boat Ashore.”

Ernesto had survived several hurricanes himself in Cuba – not to mention the Cuban missile crisis, and peak Soviet oil. Crisis was his calling.

Then again, so was privacy.

For that, he had his X10 privacy kit – a number of Vanguard cameras, motion detectors and a means to control the video scene from his job as Assistant Manager at a Houston Taco Bell. He could limit access not only to his bunker, but the basement at the Memorial Drive home he shared with his Cuban singer friends.

Ernesto was disappointed last summer when Rita failed to hit Houston – and was even more disappointed when he found himself stuck in traffic as he and everyone else was evacuated from the city at the same hour.

This time, he would be ready. He would stand on the side of the clogged freeway selling his secret homage to X10 --a battery-controlled hurricane module that would remotely flush toilets and air condition everyone’s rear-end – without electricity. Instead of a handle, the toilet would have a crank that generated cool air. In a city where temperatures and humidity frequently approached three digits, keeping cool was the difference between life and death.

The American dream would soon be his, Ernesto believed. Someday, after the storm had blown over, Ernesto would be able to pick up a local newspaper and claim his 15 minutes of fame.

“They Called the Cool Wind, Ernesto!” the headline would read.

August 25, 2006

Jesus Braves Hurricane Season, Lens Cap

As the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s vicious assault on the Mississippi Gulf Coast approaches, a Bay St. Louis man has caught the figure of Jesus on his brand new X10 Sentinel Camera.

Clyde “Johnnyboy” Darimple lives just a block away from St. Rose de Lima Catholic Church in Bay St. Louis, which was spared from the worst of the killer storm that sent ante bellum homes, City Hall and even the local Wal-Mart into a pile of debris. A year later, there is still extensive damage everywhere you look – except of course in the lens of Darimple’s surveillance camera. “It’s clearly Jesus,” Darimple told a Florida-based tabloid.

The figure in the lens shows a dark-skinned man, larger than life reaching with his hand toward the sky. Theologians from around the world have braved still another hurricane season to observe the mysterious apparition glued seemingly permanently to the camera. The Sentinel offers round-the-clock surveillance, and is able to shoot pictures not only during bright daylight, but also by night. “Jesus was definitely a night visitor,” Darimple says.

Hundreds of people have suddenly revived the heavily taxed tourist industry in the seaside artist resort 50 miles from New Orleans. The few accommodations left in town had already been booked up by building contractors. Now, the penitent, the contrite, and the old-fashioned grifters have moved back into town, fashioning temporary shelter from boarded up, condemned buildings. Some have even shared the omnipresent, tiny FEMA trailers with local residents who welcome potential revenue generators to the devastated economy.

“I think it’s the ‘Sermon-on-the-Mount’ Jesus,” one California visitor said. “He is definitely looking well-fed – like he just had 500 loaves and fishes.”

“No, I think it’s kind of an older, more mature Jesus, one who just discovered his father’s plans for him,” a Minnesota Lutheran said. “It looks like he’s trying to bargain.”

“I hope this one’s better than the MRI Jesus in Pittsburgh,” a woman carrying rosary beads said, as she entered town on Highway 99. “Imagine people thinking Jesus’ crucifixion would be shown on an MRI!”

“It still beats the fried egg Jesus, and you forced me to follow you all the way to France for that one,” a man, appearing to be the woman’s husband, yelled out.

Meanwhile, Darimple’s neighbor came by his house later that evening. He apparently wasn’t aware of what the fuss was all about. “Hey, Johnnyboy, “ he said. “I hope you don’t mind, but I borrowed your Sentinel camera last night to film my kids at the St Rose de Lima pageant!”

August 24, 2006

Uncle Albert Should Have Stayed in Vegas Too

Uncle Albert always bragged about being a “lucky” guy. He trusted anyone and everyone; he was always talking to strangers and turning them into friends. He was always giving away his property, and getting new stuff. “Hey, there’s nothing attached to me except for my heart!”

Uncle Albert’s heart seemed to be nearly broken when I visited him the day after his annual vacation. “Everything I did in Las Vegas stayed in Las Vegas,” he said, trying to find some cheer. “Everything I left at home must be staying in Las Vegas too.”

In the living room, where a giant high-definition plasma television had been hanging on the wall, only a large hole in the wall remained. His entire DVD collection – including the entire Three Stooges collector’s edition – was nowhere to be seen. Even the easy chair, in which he sat night after night, was now just a stain on the carpet. It was as if someone had pulled a large moving van up to the house and helped themselves to everything in the house. “They didn’t even leave me a remote!” he said, as if the remote could magically make everything re-appear.

Everyday he would go into the neighbor’s yard and feed their guard dog some extra biscuits. Tonight, the biscuits were gone, and the dog was still expecting a reward for a “heckuva job.”

“Buy your own biscuits!” Albert growled at the dog.

“They didn’t even leave your grandmother’s picture!” Albert said sadly. “They even took the kids’ pictures – the ones I took when they were still babies.”

Uncle Albert continued his bragging rights, however. “Hey, I managed to win $500 while I was in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, that stayed in Vegas as well.”

“Uncle Albert, “I said. “Haven’t you ever heard of X10?”

“You mean the movie?” he said, with a puzzled look.

“No, that was X-MEN!” I explained. “X10 makes surveillance cameras, motion detectors and devices that let you watch everything that goes on in your house on your laptop while you’re in Las Vegas!”

“Well, at least I still have my laptop,” Uncle Albert said. “That didn’t stay in Vegas.”

“Before you refurbish the house, Uncle Albert,” I said, “you should go to X10.com, and get yourself some cameras, lamp and appliance modules, as well as a motion detector or two.”

“I can’t do that,” Uncle Albert said.

“Why not?” I asked.

“Because I no longer exist!”


“They stole my identity too!”

August 23, 2006

Furry Bandits Leave 'Em Screaming

They are an entirely new generation of terrorists, these young, fur-wearing bullies cruising down the back woods without a care in the world. They are committed omnivores, leaving no vegetable or animal untouched.

Their faces look much like the midnight bandit that has terrorized Kent, Washington in recent weeks. Yet these are no compassionate bandits, they have been known to leave even human blood in their wake. Just 50 miles from X10 headquarters, in the capitol of the state of Washington, women scream at night, it is no longer safe for them to walk with their pets.

One might think that this close to X10, someone might have set up motion sensors, surveillance cameras or at least a machine that goes “ping,” somewhere in the path of thse night stalkers. Yet, they continue to roam without interdiction, leaving only garbage cans and dead pets in their wake.


Raccoons have changed a lot since they served as mascots for the Lake Placid Winter Olympics, and a starring role in a Disney movie. The glaring headlines say it all. A woman experiences a digital attack as the raccoons aim for her fingers while she attempts to free her cat – a poor feline preparing to become a raccoon’s evening meal.

In the state of Washington, animal control officials must pass thorough physical and psychological examinations to prove that they would not frown in the direction of a rabid housefly. This is a state that appreciates its wildlife. But even some of these seasoned officials are getting bewitched, bothered and bewildered as more and more reports come in of raccoons behaving badly. Now, the animal control officials are suggesting that starving the raccoons is the only way to control their behaviors.

“People shouldn’t leave human or pet food where the raccoons can get them,” one Olympia animal control officer warned.

There is, however, a more humane way to get to these furry terrorists. Find the raccoon’s route and put some X10 lamp modules and motion sensors along the way. When the lights go up, turn on the Vanguard cameras and let the raccoons show off their talents. Who knows, with a powerful microphone you might pick up some new Seattle music sound.

At the very least, we might find the midnight bandit in the bunch.

August 22, 2006

Enforcing Limited Privacy

Anyone who has been on an airplane lately can tell there are far more serious security problems on board than “Snakes on a Plane.”

Hollywood has missed out on the greatest possibility yet for drama, and insecurity building on a long, cross-country flight. Fortunately, a group of independent producers using X10 Vanguard cameras have proposed a new revenue-generating proposal in front of Transportation Safety Administration personnel that could totally redirect the way Americans tolerate long-distance flights.

With women now unable to use makeup or hand-lotion onboard, there is really not much need for bathroom trips during a flight, short of a call from nature. Suspicious characters who spend untold time in the cramped lavatory continue to rouse reservations if they take more than their allotted number of minutes. Modest individuals might even risk constipation if they fear that what happens on an airplane lavatory doesn’t stay in the lavatory.

The brilliant minds behind the American pornography industry have proposed that each on-board lavatory be equipped with a series of X10 surveillance cameras that are automatically triggered after the door has been locked for more than three minutes. “I believe three minutes is a judicious amount of time for everyone to accomplish their mission within an airplane lavatory,” says Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. “I think anything that happens after three minutes becomes the property of the public trust.”

The pornography industry expects to generate income by selling some of the public private moments to a variety of Internet sites. They say the revenue generated could be enough to finance all security measures created within the airline industry in recent years.

Chertoff says scientific trials have shown that both men and women can ordinarily spend the allotted 3-minute restroom session and perform a complete functional restroom trip before the cameras are tripped. Passengers who carry a certificate of discomfort signed by their doctors or health professional may be allotted a few more minutes, but an air marshal must be appointed to stand outside the lavatory door to unlock the door at the agreed-upon time.

Passengers who prolong their stays in the lavatory will be automatically panned by the six X10 security cameras that will pan their every move within the facility. The pictures will originally be transmitted by the Lola Video Senders to displays within the cabins, so fellow passengers can see if the lavatory visitor is considering any terrorist movement during their prolonged visit. Passengers who have extended their time more than two minutes past the allotted times will be subject of a full cabin intervention. “The best part is that there will not be any racial profiling for the intervention… no matter if it’s a terrorist, a celebrity or a businessman, they will be subject to full frontal assault by the passengers for overstaying their welcome.”

When news of the new security measures was announced, passengers were mixed in their reactions.

“Apparently, the terrorists have won,” one passenger said nervously, waiting for his three-minutes of privacy.

“I have absolutely nothing to hide,” another passenger said, unzipping his pants in expectation of a public display.

“What if we have to do number two?” A woman passenger with two small children asked with a puzzled. look.

August 21, 2006

An Olympic Challenge

The junior Olympian was ready to make her splash in the diving event. Cherie, in her pink one-piece suit carried the flag of Confederation Helvetia, sometimes known as Switzerland. The Swiss National Anthem was played in the background.

When the morning skies grow red,
and over us their radiance shed
Thou, O Lord, appeareth in their light
when the alps glow bright with splendor,
pray to God, to Him surrender
for you feel and understand
that He dwelleth in this land

The camera was closing in on Cherie as she took her first step up the ladder to the diving board. She kept her poise, as each step passed into history. She knew that eyes were watching her around the world, some more than others. She nervously stepped up to the diving board.

The sportscasters speculated on Cherie’s potential. “Well, Chuck, I think Cherie is almost prepped for her first 10-meter event. As she approaches the springboard, there are those who remember her aerial pyrotechnics in her earlier synchronized diving event….”

“Yes Frank,” the other sportscaster broke in. “Considering that Cherie has never stepped outside of the San Fernando Valley — and doesn’t know where Switzerland is — it’s quite something to see her at this level. I would compare her to China’s own Fu Mingxia – and I expect her to make her run right in Beijing…”

“There she goes Chuck… she’s off the board and making a sensational dive, a musical crescendo that could make a splash without the water...”

“Yes, she was perfect, Frank!”

“It will be interesting to see how the judges score.”

“The numbers are starting to come out, oh look at this near-perfect scores all around – except for one?”

“Yes, Frank, it seems her own mother scored her a 4.2?”

“Oh dear, this is going to cause some upset in the crowd….”

“Chuck, I just got word that Cherie’s mother scored her low because she was smiling at the cameras, in the direction of her dad…”

“Oh yes, I think her mother is extremely upset that her ex-husband forced his way into his daughter’s competition by supplying the new X10 Four-Camera surveillance kit, with software that lets him watch his daughter’s dive from his office through an Internet connection.”

“Oh yes, can you believe that X10 sells this complete kit for just $299?”

“But, hey, but that doesn’t include the cost of our play-by-play….”

“Hey are those security guards trying to drag us out of here?”

“Say good night, Chuck!”

August 18, 2006

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About X10 -- Wiki, Wiki

In the Wiki, Wiki, Wiki, Wiki Room, the definitions ring, and recent changes bloom…

Yes, those Hawaiian shirts being sported around Kent, Washington these days are no accident. (OK, the brown splotches on the blue background worn by the Big Guy IS an accident…) There’s a tropical paradise en route to X10 headquarters in the form of a Wiki. Chances are you’ll probably go there, Wiki, Wiki, as the Hawaiians say.

You may ask, how do I tell a Wiki from a Kihikihi:?

I would answer that the latter is a striped fish from a tropical reef, something you might run into at a seafood restaurant on the Big Island. The Wiki, is more byte-sized, and nourishes your mind and your passion for information. Imagine an entire “knowledge base” of everything you ever wanted to learn about X10 (except maybe Sara’s home telephone number) laid out within the X10 community for your inspection and approval.

Yes, approval.

The key to a Wiki in the non-Hawaiian sense, is the courage to collaborate. Perhaps you have gathered enough wisdom over the years to be able to understand that when you install an X10 lamp module BOTH prongs must fit into the wall outlet. This wisdom could be very valuable to someone who is electrically challenged. Consequently, you might want to compose your own successful wall outlet experiences for others to enjoy. There may be others within this community who have more advanced skills that benefit those who can’t tell the difference between Lola and IParty.

Wikis are very useful, as you may have guessed if you’ve ever gone to a site like Wikipedia. There are some who say Wikipedia’s primary contribution to the world is that has pretty much eliminated the need for door-to-door encyclopedia sales people. Then, there are those of us who rely on Wikipedia to determine the precise definition of apple and other pies.

Of course, the negative aspect of allowing mass editing of a public document is that sometimes spurious information can be entered willfully at the touch of a keyboard. If, for instance, you read something like:

Xactly was a widely read blog that eventually brought the world to peace, understanding – not to mention compassion for Midnight Bandits...
You might want to check on the information with at least two other reliable sources.

But if you do, I’ll never give you Sara’s home phone number.


August 17, 2006

Taking Charity to the Next Level

It was just a couple of months before Election Day, and the party boss couldn’t believe what he was seeing. The distinguished Congressman Hans Im Deeppocket, a good Christian soldier with all the obligatory values – honesty, charity and follow the leader – had been caught stealing cash on an X10 surveillance camera at the Orphans for Freedom headquarters.

The organization helps collect the orphans of Middle East wars, bring them to America for a day at Disneyworld and thereby keep them from becoming suicide bombers after they returned to their homelands at the end of the 48-hour whirlwind tour. They are presented with a DVD of the latest Superman movie, the lyrics of the Star Spangled Banner and a certificate of their participation from the President. “What more could possibly do?” The President said upon adding his signature.

What the Congressman didn’t know, was that the musty old headquarters building on the wrong side of town had been subject to numerous burglaries in recent months. A key contributor to the nonprofit had been kind enough to install several X10 Vanguard cameras throughout the building, including the kitchen area where the Congressman apparently helped himself to some petty cash. “I hope that my actions are not misinterpreted, “the Congressman told the Party Boss. “I was not really stealing.”

“Then what exactly WHERE you doing?” the party boss asked?

“This organization was too poor to put on the usual spread I get in my visits,” the Congressman began. “I thought they were doing the best they could for me – you know – there were a couple of vending machines in the corner, so I thought they were offering this to me in lieu of a banquet table.”

“Uhm, you took about $39 – that’s a lot of Coke.”

“Well, yes, but I thought they would feel insulted if I took less.” The Congressman replied.

“Insulted?” the Party Boss was sinking lower and lower in his chair.

“You know, some hosts are insulted if you don’t take everything they offer…” the Congressman said.

“They offered?” the Party Boss replied, with hope in his voice.”

“Well, not exactly. “ The Congressman said. “I thought it was just like when I have lunch with some lobbyists… you know, they’ll not only pick up the tab, but they give me a tip for the honor of having lunch.”

“A tip?” the Party Boss was sweating.

“I still remember that pharmaceutical lobbyist… he was a real cheap skate. I put in legislation that made his company a gazillion billion dollars, and all he gave me for a stinking tip was $500,000. That’s less than one verstunken percent!”

“Calm down, Hans,” The Party Boss was collecting his thoughts, and put his hand gently on top of the Congressman. “We’ve got to figure out a way to explain this to your constituents when the film goes on the air. It’s a good thing your opponent has a prison record and an admitted child molester”

“Admitted?” A smile came to the Congressman’s face.

“After our people go and work him over, he will be…” the Party Boss said.

August 16, 2006

We Are F-A-M-I-L-Y!

Michael Mallari, X10’s Community Director, is doing everything possible to build a genuine X10 community on these pages, and he’s asked for suggestions on how to bring us all together on the same page. Since I come from a small community in Northern New England, I go back to the good old days when communities formed underneath a town bandstand – complete with brass bands and three-month-old Girl Scout cookies.

Of course, I understand that X10 is kind of like Slash/Dot on steroids – everyone here was born with a “Start” button on their left hand and their first baby words were “abort, retry, or ignore?” Let’s face it, we’re all a bunch of nerds who would rather run wires into the basement on a beautiful summer day than perform in a swimming, running, rock-climbing triathlon. (OK, maybe that’s just me?)

Of course we’re not above chewing on some chips while we run diagnostics on our circuit boards. Perhaps we will check out the picture of the blue sky on our X10 Lola Video Sender. We might even cue in camera three on the Vanguard system and check out the neighbors’ in-laws rocking in their RV in the driveway.

Still, one of these days, I’m sure there will be a reunion of all who have pined for answers in the X10 Forums, all who have sent emails to the Buzz Bisbee asking if he got into trouble for his bargain sales while the boss was away, and all who have ever dreamed about going to Kent, Washington one day.

I can already picture a massive weenie roast, as the hot coals inside our recently recalled Sony batteries from our Dell laptops reach a boiling point. There will of course be the 1-2-3 punch for the party, perhaps sweetened by an adult beverage. The Big Guy will give an informed talk about X10s daring future strategy in which it will attempt to dance limbos under its competitors. After his speech, the Big Guy will bring tears to everyone’s eyes, as he passes the hat around in an effort to convince his lawyers that the company has not become a non-profit.

Late in the evening, as the weenies continue to roast, the marshmallows are readied with chocolate and graham crackers, the games will begin in earnest. Someday, everyone will be able to play “Pin the Tail on the Midnight Bandit,” but for now, it will be just our select group. Someday, everyone will be able to play “Point the Vanguard at the Smith’s kitchen sink,” but for now, only we can take schadenfreude in watching Mr. Smith’s mistress see his kitchen when the Mrs. is away. That closeup view of the old pizza boxes, the beer bottles and the Chinese takeout from a restaurant that was shut down three years ago, will bring a special chuckle to the gathering.

It will be an evening to remember, if it is not forgotten.

What do you think? How should the X10 community come together? Go ahead, make my day. Comment below.

August 15, 2006

Dreams of a Super-Detective

Billy Bob Jensen adjusted the aluminum foil on his protective cap. He never expected that he would see what he was seeing. His lifelong challenge to be a first-class detective was about to win him a spot in the history books. It was hard enough to dim his enthusiasm as he watched the action next door on his X10 video sender.

This would make up for all the times the boys teased him in junior high. This would make up for the time that his girlfriend, Gertrude left him for a “much cuddlier” Shar-Pei. This would make up for his failing to get into Police Academy. After all, the movie had been R-rated, and he was not yet 17.

But now, he knew that the world would look to him in a far different way. He would be on all the TV talk shows, his picture would be plastered from the covers of Newsweek and People. Larry King would shoot big-time questions at him.

Tonight, Billy Bob had seemingly brought an end to the war on terror.

Tonight, Billy Bob had caught the biggest cog in the spinning wheel of the nattering nabobs of negativism.

All it took, for Billy Bob, was a six-camera pack of X10 Vanguard cameras trained exclusively on the home of his neighbor, Matilda K. Greensprings, a veteran reporter for the local liberal rag. She called herself a “newspaper reporter,” but Billy Bob knew that – like all terrorists” – Matilda hated our freedoms.

Matilda had openly questioned one of Billy Bob’s freedoms. She had discovered that Billy Bob maintained an armory of weapons that filled up three rooms in the house – including what used to be the baby’s nursery, before Mrs. Billy Bob moved out in fear.

Billy Bob’s painstaking surveillance had discovered Matilda had accumulated an un-natural cauldron of assorted hotel-sized bottles of shampoo, conditioner and lotions in her garage. Billy Bob’s cameras had observed Matilda mixing the hotel-sized containers into larger bottles that seemed big enough to explode an aircraft carrier.

Each night, Billy Bob had watched as Matilda came home and mixed the suspicious bottles in her garage. Patiently, she would take bottle after tiny bottle and pour them into a larger container. Her eyes seemed focused; her smile grew wicked as each larger container was filled to the brim.

To Billy Bob, Matilda threatened the future of everything he held dear. He had even asked her at one time, “are you with us or the terrorist?” Matilda had simply laughed hysterically.

Now, he was ready to bring his evidence to the local police. He alerted the local television and talk radio stations to let them know he was about to make history. He drove hurriedly to the police station – so hurriedly he didn’t have to drive all the way there. A policeman quickly pulled him over and asked him if he knew what he was doing.

“Of course I know, officer,” he said. “I have proof here that Matilda Greensprings is truly a terrorist!”

“Matilda?” the officer said. “You mean, the same reporter person who had a story in this morning’s paper about her efforts to recycle all the shampoo bottles being confiscated at the airport for use in homeless shelters? What about her?

August 14, 2006

X10 Feels for the Naked Traveller

I’m beginning to look back fondly at the good old days when I got on an airplane and simply feared, “we’re all going to die.”

Now, when you get on a plane, you can’t help but think of the latest headlines designed to super-size your fear: “We’re all going to get blown to bits by a bottle of Channel Number Five.”

Travel is getting tough, as the battle between law enforcement and those that have run out of their last Prozac continues to deepen. It won’t be long before we will all be forced to travel naked. Instead of the “smoking or no-smoking” sections of the past,” there will be the men’s, women’s and Mile-high Club sections. This may make some long-distance routes quite popular for the young and the restless. For others, like me, it will bring us back to the Greyhound bus.

X10 researchers have been gathering at a secret underground research facility near their Kent, Washington headquarters in recent days, as they brainstormed ways that the company could score some extra income from this worldwide air rage, and perhaps get a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize.

X10 has a history of creating devices that sense terror, spy on bad omens and let you watch it all in the comfort of your easy chair. X10 has dozens of spy cameras, pendants that signal for help and control your entire house with a remote control. There must be some way that the company could come up with something that would identify terrorists, bring them to their knees and disengage their brain cells one stem at a time.

Of course it also wouldn’t hurt if X10 could make a profit. Perhaps whatever product resulted could be sold to a more exclusive customer base – maybe Halliburton? “It could be like selling printers – we can sell the product for $19.99 and charge $10 million for the batteries,” one X10 marketing manager said.

As the brainstorming session crawled slowly into the wacky weekend celebration at headquarters, the local winery grape harvest had come into full distillation. As the evenings fermented, thoughts were being itemized on the flip chart, one crackpot idea at a time.

“How about we make a brain wave sensor that can tell airline officials when they’re boarding a passenger who is severely depressed?” was the first suggestion.

“Sure, you’re asking someone to come into this tiny tube, sit in a sardine can and listen to crying babies for six hours and not be miserable?” Another manager responded.

“How about we just pipe in everyone’s thoughts as they board an airplane?” Another researcher asked.

“How many times do you want to hear “this food sucks?” a manager responded.

“Well then, how about if we create a spy camera that has a high enough resolution to read the laundry instructions on a passenger’s underwear? Imagine you’re one of these whack jobs that doesn’t care about killing himself and everyone else on a plane – but if he knows that the condition of his underwear is going to be shown on the Internet – where his mother can see it – he might think again!”

“I think you’ve got something there,” a marketing manager responded with a bright smile.

August 11, 2006

Opportunity Knocks.

Leave it to X10 to ring your chimes! Wirelessly!

If you’re like me, sometimes opportunity knocks at the wrong time. It has been very tough for me to answer the door, ever since I had to fire the butler – when he insisted that he only worked for money, not the prestige of working for me…

Imagine taking a calm, leisurely bubble bath, preparing for a stressful evening of prime time TV, and the doorbell rings. Down the stairs – between your naked body and the opportunity to buy a case of Girl Scout cookies – stands thousands of square feet of empty space. The sound of raw skin striking a wooden surface has a hard time traveling that difference. Especially if there are other sounds like bursting bubbles and flushing toilets coming directly from the bathroom.

Imagine, if you will, the night air ringing your chimes – right next to the bath tub. Immediately you can be alerted to the sound of opportunity.

But you say to yourself, I have the engineering skills of a demented fruit fly. I couldn’t possibly install the advanced X10 technology right here in my bathroom, never mind the dangers imposed by the act of installing an appliance at my front door.

How could I ever string the wire from the front door to the bathroom without my cats getting themselves entangled into a scene right out of a “kitty porn” movie?

Once again, X10 has the answer.

You can get a brand new, three-piece wireless doorbell lit for less than a bag of gourmet kitty food. You can install it in seconds without even a screw driver! The front-door button simply sticks on the front door frame, as does the chime that you install anywhere in your house. The wireless transceiver that sends signals across your living space from the front door even has an outlet to plug in a light or appliance.

What a gift for relatives with hearing problem that may not even hear the chimes. By plugging in a light, your loved one can SEE when someone is ringing the front door bell.

Enjoy that bubble bath. Let freedom ring.

From now on, just let the world stop by and ring your chimes.

August 10, 2006

A Hole in X10's Doughnut of Protection

It was great news for X10’s Big Guy, after a stressful week. A reporter had passed through a little town well beyond nowhere, in between far, far away and “you don’t want to go there.”

The entire village of 30 homes and businesses was protected by X10 Home Automation. In a town where the most severe crime is usually toilet paper wrapped around a house, this little place still felt the need to protect itself.

Yes, there was a major highway coming through town, 100 miles from the nearest big city. There was a gas station, there was a convenience store, and a coffee shop. This wasn’t one of those national chains where you have to speak a foreign language (“Skinny, decaf,short latte’, no whipped) but an old-fashioned mom and pop establishment where coffee sold for a nickel, not long ago. The booths were covered in faded green vinyl, with occasional splashes of duct tape. If you looked closely, there was duct tape on the wait person’s apron as well.

It was a place where you went when you had enough heartburn pills. As the Big Guy entered town, he knew it wasn’t for him. It was time to check out the one place that was left unprotected – and perhaps sell them the newly reduced Pro2000 system.

Of course, there was the donut shop…It was the donut shop that had absolutely no X10 automation devices. “Hey, this is a donut shop, the sheriff is here most of the day,” the shop’s owner told the Big Guy, who had to sample the local merchandise. “Are you in law enforcement too?”

“We’re in law enforcement prevention,” the Big Guy said, chomping down on a Boston Crème. “By putting up a home automation system, you don’t have to deal with the garbage that goes along with a crime. Imagine, no police reports, no calling the insurance company, no dusting for fingerprints, no chalk marks on the floor…”

“Hah, all we have in this town is “driving while intoxicated,” the donut shop owner told the Big Guy. “Fortunately, we haven’t had to wipe anyone off the road for some time.”

“What does the sheriff do, when he’s not in the shop – I don’t see him here?” the Big Guy asked.

“He could be filling out paper work, he could be having a fling with the local floozie….”

“Aha!” the big guy saw an opportunity.

“So, what would you say if I said “stick ‘em up, right now?”

“Well, we’ve got just one honey bun left,” the donut shop owner said. “Is that sticky enough?”

“Wise guy, eh?” the Big Guy said. “Well – stick ‘em up!”

“Uhm, I’ve never been held up at the wrong end of a car alarm remote control before!” the donut shop owner said, chuckling to himself.”

“Dang,” the Big Guy said… “I can’t get anything right…. Give me another Boston Crème.”

August 09, 2006

No Rapture Before Pizza

“Duck and Cover!” the call went out.

Bruce had read all about the End Days. He was convinced that Armageddon was in sight. The time had come to collect all he had gathered – including his family.

After all, there was a never-ending war (or three), there was crime on the streets, and his beloved baseball team had lost a dozen games in a row.

There would be no need to step outside again. No need to go back to work at the left-handed belly-button brush plant. His kids didn’t need to learn anything except how to stay strong for the end.

The Credit Card had been maxed out with survival gear. There wasn’t any need for credit cards anymore. After all, in God we trust, he always said, “all others pay cash.”

There hadn’t been a time like this since the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962. The Cold War had been a shoe-slapping second away from becoming very hot.

This time, Bruce was sure that this would be it.

Just in case things got tense, there were automatic machine guns in every corner of the bunker, one for each child, and one for himself and the wife.

Bruce was proudest, however, of his X10 Global Surveillance System. What a blessing that just before the world ends, X10 had developed a system where Bruce could watch the end of the world from anywhere. He would be the first to know when the Express basket to hell was launched.

Installation was a snap for someone who had engineered a left-handed belly button brush without trouble. The enemy would never detect the wireless source!

The moment of truth had arrived. It wasn’t quite what he expected. There was no sleigh, or tiny reindeer. There were no angels earning wings. There wasn’t even a tank.

Instead it was a tiny compact pulling into the driveway, the driver was carrying a box that looked like a weapon. As the compact approached, the alarms began to ring. The siren, the flashing lights went off as expected. Bruce got his machine gun ready.

“Pizza,” the enemy called out.

The spoils of war must wait. There must be time for pizza.

August 08, 2006

Attacks from the Wild Side

These are frightening times, both in the real world and in the world that’s directly under your roof.

There are people out there who would steal your socks out of your sock drawer.

There are people who would steal your identity right out of your wallet.

There are people who would steal your old clunker right out of the garage.

Some of you have purchased and installed X10 surveillance cameras, motion sensors and an Action Home video sensor to protect yourself from the weird and crazy.

Some others don’t bother putting up any protection, hoping that someone will steal your miserable identity, steal the holy socks from your sock drawer and put that old clunker right out of its misery.

Even YOU are a possible victim of dangerous times.

Imagine an alligator swimming in your toilet, a bat flying through your house, or a brown bear walking casually through your living room. You might want to be aware of unusual guests coming to visit. These guests tend to have bad manners, tend to be hungry, and more likely than not are carnivores with an anger management problem.

Just in the last week, a bear has casually walked into a Lake Tahoe casino, and a bat has taken refuge in a New York newsroom. Ordinary people who one minute were stressing about losing all their money at a blackjack table, or stressing about being the first with a scoop, suddenly were stressing about being lunch for some unlikely guests.

Imagine sitting in your easy chair one slow summer Sunday afternoon, and seeing a large grizzly bear on the picture-within- a-picture surveillance scene during the big game. You might first want to wait to see if the batter hits a grand-slam home run, and then see if your front door is open or closed. Should it be open, you probably have enough time to proceed to the fruit cellar and collect some alternative lunch ingredients for your unexpected guests.

Remember that some wild beasts are very camera shy and they might also get angry if they suspect that you’ve recorded their image without a permission slip. This also goes for any guard dogs you might have scoping the place. A guard dog recently became so infuriated that it was being photographed that it ripped apart the contents of a teddy bear museum in London. Among the damage, a teddy bear once owned by Elvis Presley was chewed to bits.

If you still haven’t acquired any surveillance equipment from X10, I would suggest that you get busy and acquire some cameras. Remember that right now that the cameras are available at special “bandit” prices. Imagine a top-of-the-line “Vanguard” outfit for a mere $299.

Remember, being able to identify unexpected visitors can help prevent young carnivores from being led down a path of crime.

Do you want to be responsible for turning Smokey the Bear into a killer?

August 07, 2006

Wise Men Say, Only Fools Are Poor

Everyone at the office was getting concerned.

The Big Guy had not been seen for days. This was very unusual for his work ethic.

It took him decades to take a vacation. Now, he had been away for a couple of weeks, returned and apparently went away again.

The worst part was that he seemed a bit down.

OK, the guys around the office were somewhat responsible. After all, they had taken advantage of the Big Guy’s absence to party all day and all night… and more importantly, they were giving everything away practically free. Envision a black and white spy cam for $29.99! Imagine a Vanguard Camera cheaper than a Tivo! Even a kit with four cameras for just $299!

The Big Guy always had a head for numbers, and now the numbers were exploding in his head. He was like the Dutch boy with a finger in the dyke, trying to stop all the financial bleeding caused by weeks of bandit give-a ways, wacky weekends, and his vacation. He had done all he could to raise extra money that wasn’t coming from sales. He had even spilled his own blood.

A middle manager was assigned to watch for the Big Guy at freeway entrances where he had been known to stand with a cardboard sign reading “Will install home automation for food!” But by now, it seemed, the Big Guy was on to something else.

There were stories that the Big Guy had gone crazy with financial worries. Reports were that he had traded in his Hummer for a mountain bike. It wasn’t that he had suddenly learned the benefits of environmentalism, or that he had just seen Al Gore’s movie. “The bicycle doesn’t burn any gas except for my own,” the Big reportedly told Mrs. Big Guy.

There was another story that the Big Guy had run off to a local Indian casino, using every Blackjack and poker skill he had ever learned to recreate the wealth that had slipped away from X10 in these times of unexpected generosity. Finally, it is said, he gave up at the poker table and went straight to the slot machines. He put in a quarter and up came two cherries. “WOW! I’m 50 cents richer,” the Big Guy was heard to exclaim.

Then, suddenly, his next quarter netted him a real fortune. In seconds, dozens of quarters spilled out of the machine. His spirit came back as his face turned back to its jolly composure that showed through when he was counting X10’s fortunes long ago. Moments later, he did it again.

Before the evening was out, he had managed to accumulate more than $10,000, according to casino authorities.

Still, even after his reported good fortune, he was not anywhere to be seen.

Finally, the call came in. The Big Guy had pushed the button on his alert medallion.

Minutes later, we contacted the Big Guy at a Tibetan phone booth.

“I’m in the Himalayas,” the Big Guy said. “I am meeting with a Tibetan wise man at this moment.”

“Uhm, that’s great, Big Guy,” I said. “So, what did he have to say?”

“He spoke directly from the Big Book,” the Big Guy said. “He said it was written by the great American Philosopher Samuel Clemens…”

“You mean Mark Twain?” I said.

“Yes, that’s the one!” the Big Guy Answered.

“What did he say?”

“Get money. Get it quickly. Get it in abundance. Get it in prodigious abundance. Get it dishonestly if you can, honestly, if you must.” The Big Guy’s voice was brimming with confidence. “That’s It! I can go back to work now!

That’s wonderful!

“I’m going to get that bandit,” the Big Guy said, more confidently than ever before.

“That’s great news, sir.” I said. “We look forward to your return!”

August 04, 2006

Big Guy Goes for Broke

It was good to see the Big Guy back in his office, after he had taken his first relaxing vacation. I had hoped to be invited to his usual post-vacation dinner (which takes place every other decade whether the big guy goes on vacation or not). I was looking forward to seeing the interesting photographs the Big Guy always took. You just haven’t lived until you’ve seen concrete sidewalks and pavements all over the world given the Big Guy treatment.

Of course the Big Guy would always say that he had fascination with sidewalks and pavement, but we all knew that he had trouble focusing his camera on real objects. Still, we played along.

Today, however, the Big Guy seemed alarmed, as he removed all of the sofa cushions and chair cushions all over the office. He would stick his hands into the edges, feeling everywhere for whatever he could find. So far he had accumulated about 15 cents, a ball of string and a pair of women’s underwear. “Darn!” he said. “I’ve got to find a $1.25…. I need a soda from the vending machine!”

Just then, the Big Guy fainted, directly on the carpet…

“Don’t worry about me,” he said, as he came to. “It’s really nothing, just lost a lot of blood this afternoon….”

“Blood?” I gasped.

“Yeah,” I had to stop at a blood bank on the way to work. I needed $30 bucks for UPS,” the Big Guy said. “You know, we really need to stop offering free shipping for anything.”

“Can’t the guys in shipping take care of that?” I said.

“Uhm, no, there are no more guys in shipping… “the Big Guy answered. “Had to let them go… Is it 4:30 yet?”

“No, it’s only 2 pm,” I said.

“I’ve got to get down to the freeway entrance by 4:30, when the traffic starts getting heavy,” Big Guy said. “If I stay out there every day for the next month, we might be able to pay the electric bill!”

“What’s going on here, Big Guy?” I asked, beginning to worry about the future.

First, the bandit came in here and started giving away stuff like mad…” the Big Guy said. “Then Buzz Bisbee starts getting ideas like this is a non-profit!”

The Big Guy had big tears falling down his cheeks. “Now, we’re not only a non-profit, we’re a cashless society!”

“Gee,” I said. “I didn’t think it was all THAT bad!

“Well, after I went on vacation, our people were giving away stuff. Imagine a black and white spy cam for $29.99! Imagine a 17-piece surveillance kit that includes four cameras for just $299! His eyes were tearing up. “How long do you think we can stay in business this way?”

I guess it doesn’t help that the guys held all those parties while you were on vacation,” I said. “Hope the liquor bill wasn’t too high….”

“THERE’s a LIQUOR bill coming too?” the Big Guy yelled out, as he started beating his head against the wall.

“Don’t worry, Big Guy, we can make it through this,” I said. “There’s thousands of people who want to buy our Showtime unit, it gives folks an entertainment experience like no other.”

“What do you mean, Showtime?” The Big Guy said. “We can’t afford cable anymore!”

“You don’t need cable, our Showtime product lets you view all your digital pictures and movies on a big screen TV… that way you don’t have to be limited to showing them just on your laptop.”

“Hey, that sounds like an interesting product,” the Big Guy said. “Think the bandit can get me a discount?”

August 03, 2006

No Wonder the Boss Never Takes A Vacation!

If you think X10 rocks when the Big Guy is off for a “wacky weekend,” you should see it when the number one guy takes off on a vacation.

I could tell something was different when I arrived at the headquarters building. The parking lot was more occupied than I had ever seen it before. The Big Guy must have hired a lot more young helpers before he left – many of them quite attractive women. While there has never been a dress code at X10 in my memory, I think these women might be stretching state law in the limited amount of clothing they were wearing. This wasn’t even a very warm summer day.

They also seemed more aggressive than most of the women who work at X10. “I’m going to hit the bandit,” one of them said, as she headed for the front door.

I assumed she was referring to a possible assault on the still at large Midnight Bandit, but as I walked in the door, the lobby was filled with slot machines, roulette tables and scantily clad Keno runners.

Just when I was wondering who was managing the place in the Big Guy’s absence, a few members of middle management were adjusting one of the electronic slots with video that had been captured with a Vanguard Camera in the executive washroom. The Big Guy would never want to hit a jackpot on this machine – as one of the poorly dressed young ladies had just done. The Jackpot showed a video of the Big Guy in his shorts at his knees, badly humming a Grateful Dead tune. Along with the video came a jackpot consisting of coupons for dozens of brand new Sentinel Cameras and a Lola Video Sender, “Wheeeeeeeeeee! The winner was excited. “This is even better than the bandit price!

I couldn’t figure out why they were having a “Las Vegas Night” in the middle of the work day. I could imagine that the Big Guy was probably on his cell phone attempting to reach someone in his office at this very minute.

Up the stairs, it was easy to tell that if anyone was calling, no one could hear the ringtones. Instead, there were was a conga line of employees attempting to shatter the world record for Conga’s dancing to heavy metal music. It had taken the dancers the bulk of the morning to research the statistics. It was clear that they were ready for a break.

In the back of the Conga line, in the Big Guy’s office, a team was adjusting X10’s Web Page and dropping prices to ridiculous levels. “Are we making any money from this?” one concerned paper warrior asked.

“Are you kidding?” Who needs money when we are about to be the happiest company on Earth!”

As the day wore on, and the liquor supplies were pretty much drained for the day, one manager wondered out loud. “You know, we’ve got to get the Big Guy, a special coming home present…”

“I’ve got it,” said another.

After more research, they found the perfect present. At first, when the Big Guy came across the mess throughout the building, he wasn’t quite aware of the true definition of the night visitor that was chewing on the quarterly reports. What appeared to his unbelieving eyes was part horse, part ox.

It’s a “summer equine ox,” the middle manager explained.

“Have we talked about your vacation? “ the Big Guy asked the manager.

“Uhm, I just got back from mine a few weeks ago,” the manager answered.

“I think it’s time for you to have another vacation – this one will be a LOT longer… take my equine-ox, you’ll have all the time in the world!”

August 02, 2006

Out of This Place — At Warp Speed

Star Date, August 2, 2006.

Armageddon is approaching, and I fear that not even my X10 Home Security System will protect me from the trial of fire about to overcome Earth. Since my naughty ways have not qualified me for a role in the rapture, I feel my only wise move is to enter the starship at Quantum speed to go where no middle-aged female has gone before.

First I must prepare for the vacuum of space as I have never prepared for vacuuming before. I must remember this: there is no one out there who can hear you scream when the vacuum comes across a massive buildup of kitty hair.

Inside the Starship, the captain’s chair is positioned in front of a wide-screen monitor sensing atmospheric conditions at the launch pad. Fortunately my X10 Active Home system allows me to control all systems from the captain’s chair. “Prepare for launch, Scotty,” I yell out rhetorically, as Scotty is nowhere in sight.

After decades of recording the Sci Fi Channel and archiving my entire Star Trek DVD collection, Captain Kirk and Spock can direct my every pre-launch activity. Strangely, there is no interest in the launch from any mainstream media outlet. I take out my journal and my voice recorder to insure that history will document this historic day. Meanwhile, my X10 video sender keeps me current on the latest episode of “As the Stomach Turns.”

My nine-year-old nephew has integrated the command center with the sender and I can duplicate Captain Kirk’s messages even beyond the earth’s atmosphere. Throughout the Federation I will be scrutinized as a unique figure, a person of great knowledge, great wisdom and a great bladder that is ready to explode.

The X10 Vanguard surveillance cameras are a neat touch. Children and their grandchildren will forever witness this scene as the History Channel residuals flow in for my heirs.

The starship pantry is packed full with taste sensations that make you look forward to squeezing a tube. How do they fit that huge pot roast in that little tube? Who cares! It’s delicious!

In my final launch procedure, I straighten my hair, adjust the last bits of makeup and insert four quarters in the massage feature of the captain’s chair. It is a moment to remember…

The countdown proceeds on time.

Slowly, I hear the count:

7- and suddenly the engines stall.

“Honey, what are we having for dinner?

Lunchtime is here. Launch must wait. Armageddon must wait.

There is nothing worse than history interrupted. Perhaps we will have to await another generation?

August 01, 2006

It's Beginning to Look Quite Naughty

August is here, and we all know what THAT means.

It’s less than 150 days until Christmas!

Yes, retailers everywhere are proofing the last commas, making a list and checking it twice, to find out who gets the naughty catalog and who gets the nice.

Even here at X10, the elves are getting ready for an unforgettable Christmas – especially after some X10 surveillance cameras are placed in strategic positions around homes, businesses and intimate areas. Yes, there are ways to send Playstation signals anywhere in the house, there are ways to protect your home from strangers, and there are ways to make sure parents know when their young hackers are messing around with the V-Chips.

But, with the world quickly approaching Armageddon, there will be more and more incentive to protect your own homeland security.

X10 has holiday gifts for everyone. But surveillance cameras will definitely be the “Tickle-me Elmo” of the early twenty-first century. We have learned that The White House already has plans to incorporate X10 surveillance cameras into a national contest to “turn in your neighbor.”

Is Grandma Ruth connecting with terrorists at her “stitch and bitch” circle? Are the kids cooperating with a youth brigade designed to turn them into tree huggers? Is that friendly donut shop operator putting sugar-coated serum into those Boston Creams?

Uncle Sam needs you and your Vanguard camera.

Patriotic Americans of course need to have an incentive before they will spy on their terrorist neighbors. Naturally, this contest will have a long list of prizes.

-Grand Prize: an autographed copy of “My Pet Goat,” from the President.
- An exclusive “You Tube” video link to pictures of Laura and Jenna Bush after their latest drinking adventure at a Crawford, Texas wet t-shirt contest.
- A complete list of all your neighbors telephone conversations for last five years.
- Exclusive footage of Dubya on his bicycle tackling the steep, mountain ranges surrounding Camp David on his bicycle.

Aren’t you excited already? What’s the matter aren’t you a patriotic American? Maybe YOU are the terrorist?

Keep in mind that this is a government contest, and naturally there has to be lots of rules. Each applicant will of course be required to submit to an FBI background check to measure your purity. In addition, the following rules for the contest have been established:

1. You must be old enough to get a hunting license. (for those choosing an alternative prize – a hunting trip with the Vice President)
2. You must be a certified Republican
3. You must have contributed at least $50,000 to the GOP.
4. You must be at least able to remove the lens cap from a camera.
5. If you have contributed more than $100,000 the previous requirement does not apply.
6. Bonus points should your neighbors be caught on cameras with an Arabic accent.

The decision of White House judges is final. Votes will be tabulated by voting machines in Franklin County, Ohio. The first 50,000 terrorists identified within the first 25,000 entries will be accepted. No photocopies of birth certificates, passports, or library cards will be accepted.

All terrorists will win a one-way ticket to Guantanomo, Cuba.