Friday, November 28, 2008

Calling Time of Death on this one.

Way back at the outset of this little venture, I mentioned that the continuation of this blog was predicated upon a certain level of anonymity.

That margin personal comfort has been lost.

It's been a hell of a run.

Cast Upon the Thorns
28.04.06 - 28.11.08

Thanks for reading.
~ Lanius

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Expecting better

Despite my insinuation that I would be sitting out on why various sources might be so keen to excise sex from the searchable internet, I can't resist dipping in an oar and adding to the turbidity. What's more traditional than fisting a massive dead fowl and you'd be hard pressed to find a "turkey" more deserving of the treatment.

Being able to speak on whatever subject I feel needs to be addressed, at whatever length I deem suitable, and in whatever tone as I desire is damned important to me. No one has to listen to me nor do they have to agree with me. At the same time, I do get a bit tetchy when those who might desire to consider what I have to say are prevented from doing so. I know I find it more than slightly vexing when I have to play detective games to access information I desire especially when that information is not some obscure, arcane bit of trivia.

Ah, but I have forgotten that sex is the Scourge of All Civilization™. Thousands of years ago, peasants in the British Isles shivered in their beds for fear of dragon-prowed ships appearing out of the mists to show erotic scrimshaws to their wee bairns and craft anal beads from monastic relics. I mean dear gods, would anyone believe the Roman empire would have expanded past a couple of meager cities if they hadn't kept their citizens free of the destructive influence of sex?!

There is no legitimate reason for anyone to investigate anything touching upon the sexual. Any claim that the arts, science, or medicine might touch upon such filth is naught but a shameless lie.

And now we have the internet which is now almost synonymous with pornography. Alas, "who will think of the children" they keen. We have to sanitize their world. We cannot allow the remotest chance their tender, innocent eyes will fall upon human genitalia. The risks are just too great.

Seriously, does the "safe" search function of Google do anything other than shuffle the sexually dimorphic information off to some virtual oubliette?

Obviously, there's a significant portion of the populace who feel my absurd tirade of sarcasm above is divinely inspired truth rather than the scathing reproach it actually is, otherwise Google and their minions would not have achieved such a complete exclusion of the sites. It has to be the sex that leaves a bad taste in their mouths since damn near every other form of human interaction can be accessed through the filter. Perhaps those people need to learn to swallow faster or enjoy the facial.

What's my personal take on this issue? Pay attention to your own damn affairs.

If you can't trust adults to do their jobs rather than on the internet scouring for porn, then you need better employees. No filter is going to prevent them from getting into some other form of mischief. Don't ask why the floor of the server room is sticky.

For those adults who just want to pretend it doesn't exist, grow up and deal with it. The rest of the world has no responsibility to rearrange itself to suit your preferred delusion. In fact, you make it worse for everyone by inspiring the porn spammers into ever more obscure methods of sneaking their product past the word filters.

Those of you with children, they're your damned responsibility. It is not my job to keep your little fuck trophy safe, whole, and/or happy. You chose the career or to become a parent, you made the commitment. I resent the bloody hell out of having the scope of my web searches curtailed because some self-important cow can't be bothered to not only keep a close eye on her free-range veal, but gets coddled in the expectation that the world can be made completely innocuous for the snot-soaked little darling.

So in conclusion, I strenuously object to the heavy-handed censorship adopted by Google's search filter. It's nothing more than an indelicate tool for placating lazy thinkers. Further, it encourages a polarized view of the world and incomplete synthesis of concepts.

Consider it a declaration of personal vendetta that I will continue to use with pride words from the "Unspeakable List." I may not be to everyone's taste, but I will be damned if I will cower in fear from vocabulary, regardless of context.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What did you expect?

It looks like the newest cause célèbre of the sex blogging community has to do with Google's "safe search" function. This isn't all the new since even if you tell the handy-dandy tube elves they don't need to exert themselves omitting anything from the hunt, the results will still show rather odd holes in the data presented. As it happens, it appears to be most notably those sites that someone somewhere apparently considers "sexual."

The likes of Susie Bright and Tony Comstock can dig into parsing which words constitute the untouchable data caste and the connotations for why such a condition exists. I think they are welcome to it. They have the time and the inclination to flip rocks in search of the pallid, gelid grubs lurking below the surface as well as the skill to present their findings in a supremely cogent manner.

What baffles me is that anyone seems surprised and outraged that this filtering is occurring.

The internet is such an astoundingly vast and dynamic reservoir of data that it is quite literally impossible to navigate without assistance. As time goes by, the power and complexity required by a given search engine to prove even marginally viable as a resource for a user must increase by powers of magnitude.

Therefore, a company who can present an easy to use and robust search engine will have invested many thousands of man hours and stunning sums of money to get it to that point. They will also be required by circumstance to continually refine and upgrade their system to keep up with both the expansion of information hitting the pool and the user. This tends to bar the casual programmer from being able to "home brew" their own solution. They simply don't have the resources to keep up. In turn, this means that companies like Google, enjoy an almost godlike monopoly amongst internet users.

This brings up three vital concepts. First, there is a metric butt-ton of money flowing to and fro across the net. There is more commerce online globally than in any geographical location and it's all theoretically accessible to any vendor anywhere in the world.

Second, despite the amount of times people will brainlessly parrot the statement, knowledge is power. It has been demonstrated a hundredfold that whoever controls the flow of information to a group controls that group. The internet is damn near the repository of human knowledge anymore and it’s global. Ponder for a moment what that might imply.

Third, people are fundamentally lazy. Most will take the simplest route without thinking about it. It's a rare individual who will devote themselves to doing more than the minimum necessary to provide their desired results. It's the reason people automatically turn to search engines such as Google in the first place.

With me so far? Good. Because it's impossible for any entity like Google to escape bias regardless of motive and there are no compelling reasons for them to resist temptation.

Because a search engine must have a means of selecting relevant information, there must be a mechanism to filter the results. There is no way to functionally implement such heuristics without unintentionally excluding some potential data sets. The more one refines the search string, the narrower the parameters of what will be included. This means the program has to make guesses as to what is desired, what is irrelevant, and what is undesired. By definition, there is an unavoidable margin of error.

Now let's blend in the financial aspect. No company that markets a wide-spread search engine is doing this out of the goodness of their collective heart. They are in it to make money. To be more specific, they are out to divert a significant portion of the money gadding about the internet into their own coffers. Other companies looking to maintain a firm footing in the virtual marketplace will be willing to pay dearly to make sure their products are prominently near the top of any search that might possibly overlap what a user is looking for. Implicitly, venders who don't direct part of their budgets into the search engine company's pockets are not going to enjoy much emphasis on their pages. Why talk an affiliate into paying for a priority search importance if their rival is going to show up just underneath for free? Thus, another layer of programming has been added to skew results in a desired direction.

Finally, if a company has the ability to pick and choose what information a given person has access to without having to face any consequence, why wouldn't they exert that power simply because they can? With a few lines of code, searches about the US history can skew the results to underscore whatever agenda they may desire. Sounds like I'm sinking into some paranoid Orwellian conspiracy theory here, but the mechanics are sound. Groups other than corporations are willing to spend money to support their aims and since everyone assumes the internet is too vast to manipulate, how often do people really question the objectivity of the search results?

Even when, such as now, people notice discrepancies in the data returned there isn't much that can be done in recourse. Short of a significant portion of the user base moving to another service, they won't feel a loss of revenue. Indeed, with this current furor, they may even show a spike in revenue due to increased web traffic from curious members of the public.

So tell me again, why is anyone shocked to discover their web browsing is being directed both overtly and covertly?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

No shit, there it was

One of the more entertaining aspects of this job are when customers want to play "Once Upon a Time" with me. To put it in a less whimsical fashion, these would be the rather common occasions when someone, usually a patron I have never laid eyes on before, informs me of some mythical service, product, or staff member they encountered at the store at some nebulous point in the past.

It can be truly stunning the fabrications they will spin out given the least provocation. I have heard detailed accounts of staff that I have never once met. The people telling me of this chimera are adamant in their anecdote, despite the fact I was the first person hired on here by the owner and as such have been present through the entire span of staffing. In the cases where the customer is truly exerting themselves to prove to me that Paul Bunyan/Superman/Ghandi or Stalin/Baba Yagga/Mr. Sinister once graced the payroll here, I take decided glee in revealing some lurid reason why they are no longer here. To hear me tell it, to work here paints a giant bullseye upon you where you are certain to succumb to some ghastly freak accident or unmentionable crime. The look of shock on their face or assumption of greenish pallor is all the thanks I require for my efforts.

Most recently I have had to smile and nod through a complex description of a sexual novelty that I don't think modern science could model without quantum theory. And yet, this guy assures me he'd once bought one in the seventies for about ten bucks. In case readers may think I am being overly harsh, this miracle toy vibrated, sucked, licked, and felt on the inside "exactly like a mouth". It was more lifelike than cyberskin or related materials too. And off this was confined to a total size not much larger than a juice concentrate package. The final touch was his vow that he'd been in a week or so back and we'd had one.

I wish. We'd make a bloody mint.

We get some of the best phantom merchandise ever.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I was way too generous

The appointed hour of closing was at hand. The shelves were almost finished being set to right. Signs were being switched off. Lights were being methodically extinguished. Blessed escape was only minutes away.

Then They walked in.

Hi. I hate to rush you, but the store is currently closing down for the night. If you know exactly what you want I'd be happy to ring you up right now.
"Oh, OK. We're looking for massage oil."
Splendid. It's right here. I'll meet you at the register.

And I wait at the register as they poke through the various massage oils. I watch as they hold conferences about the various types. I do notice however they are no closer to the register than they were before and no decision seems to be forthcoming soon.

Is there a last second decision I can possibly help with?
"No, we're still just looking."
Yes, but it's past closing time and I'm waiting on you.
"Oh. Sorry."
They wander over to the lube.
"Which of these would be good for massage?"
I'm going to fucking kill you you lying sack of abscessed excrement. Actual massage or as a sexual lube?
Then the best stuff would have been right where you were just standing.

They go back to murmur over the bottles. I look at the clock and fume. I start to count down mentally.



3... My hand is poised to close the till for the night.


They lay a vibrating cock ring on the counter.

Yeah, that makes total sense. Bastards.

They seemed rather shocked when the second the cash drawer closed, the register turned off and I told them acerbically to enjoy their night somewhere else.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Uncouth and on a budget

It's a bit later than I usually like to churn something out, but what the hell, it's Friday. Can you honestly tell me there's a better day to say "Ah, fuck it" than Freya's day? I thought not.

In any case, there's been a marked influx of churls parading in here almost bursting at the seams until they can get within two feet of me before bellowing that they want to get fucked and/or fucked up and they have ten bucks.

When the blood hell did a ten dollar bill become the magic denomination to unlock all earthly pleasures? Depending on how you order, you can score a decent meal at some corner temple to the gods of burger flipping, but options are pretty limited here. One could watch a movie or two about an hour or take one home. I could set them up with some condoms and lube. I could sell them a magazine or two. That is about the extent of it. Ten bones are not going to unfurl the red carpet to a high roller weekend in Vegas.

And yet, they toss out that amount like they'd just hit the lottery. Incidentally, I've had a few of those. They tend to either grab whatever catches their eye or ask where the best stuff we have is and then produce a wad of large bills to cover the tab without so much as batting an eyelash at the total. I know they hit a jackpot that night because they always want to let me know they've done just that so they can draw out the moment that much longer.

Meanwhile, "Daddy Microbucks" is invariably looking stunned when I blandly inform them their budget is as anemic as a hemophiliac cutter.

Be that as it may, it still does not absolve them of their primary breach of intellect. Where, pray tell, does it say anywhere that it is within my purview to get anyone laid or high?

Let's take the first prong that forked assumption. I work in an adult store, sometimes incorrectly referred to as a "sex shop". I don't sell sex. In fact, the vast majority of items here are more attractive to people who aren't getting any. Ultimately, I don't give a greased shit what state a customer's sex life is in. People come in, I sell them sexually related items, and they leave. They can take it home to burn to heat their house for all I know. Point is, if no one wants any contact with your genitals when you come in the door, there is nothing on my shelves that is going to make you any more desirable. At the end of the day, you're still going to be masturbating in the corner sobbing brokenly in a fugue of cheap booze and denial. I shudder to think of what horror would exchange carnal favors for ten bucks. I guarantee, it won't be anywhere on this property.

Alright that leaves us with the ever so suave "get fucked up" desire. Of course the first thing that springs from my brain when I hear that is, "Sure, I'll kick the living shit out of you for ten bucks. Let me retrieve my favorite tire iron." Honestly, you just can't dangle such a tempting proposition to a frustrated misanthrope. Sadly, I know too well that they're not inquiring into free-lance direct suicide facilitation which neatly kills the plausibility of my defense to a grand jury. Oh well.

Therefore, they're asking, with the subtlety of a bullhorn, for something to get them high. Does that ever have good results? I don't peddle drugs. Any customer stupid enough to indicate they might want to make a deal is going to get booted if not permanently trespassed. In fact I'm disinclined to sell anything to them from that statement forward.

Why won't they let us spray for these pests?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Pausing for breath

Bloody hell. I have things to write, but time has been in short supply.

Hey, at least this implies that business is good and a life outside the keyboard.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Who needs an undisturbed sleep cycle?

It would be vastly appreciated if friends and relations would refrain from unexpectedly expiring.

Really, it just does a number on the whole week.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have extremely vintage porn to release to the floor.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Out of sequence

So the day ended with a distressingly vivid flashback to the 80's. Bleached out jeans, polo shirt with the collar standing straight up, spiky hair with bleached tips standing up with the help of synthetic spooge "product".

It was painful.

Not only was I beset with sartorial horrors of yesteryear best buried deep after a stake through the heart, decapitation, and a generous stuffing of holy wafers and garlic, but I had to restrain myself from pointing and laughing at the ridiculous twerp swaggering through my store. At least three times I had to stop myself from asking if Cory Haim knew he was raiding his closet.

A bit later I was treated to a glorious exchange with a preview customer. After establishing that yes indeed we had that capability, he set about rooting through our movie racks with all the delicacy and subtlety of a bear pursuing grubs in a fallen log.

Inevitably, he approaches the counter with several movies when only one will actually reach it. He pauses five feet short to put the discards onto the shelf.

Decide against those? I'd be happy to put them back for you. Which is a damned lie, I resent with undying rage that you're too stupid/self-involved to take those last few steps instead of just dropping them where you bloody well know they do not fucking belong.

He picks them up again and starts heading in the general direction he'd come from. Sure buddy, as if I can trust you to put them back anywhere near where they belong.

Seriously, I'll put them back.

So he walks back to his previous dump site and plants them right back on that shelf.

Sins of Shiva! Why do I even bother?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Such a joy to behold

I watched a guy try to duck around the corner into the arcade whilst I was helping a pair of customers. He was even taking an extra helping of furtive in his body language.

You going to pay for those items first?

"What items?"

How about the ones you have jammed into your waistband for starters? I gave him a level, unamused stare.

He held his ground, valiantly attempting to call my non-existent bluff.

We can do this right now or when the cops show up. Last chance. The phone comes out, finger on the speed-dial.

"Fine." He handed me a small stack of items. "That's all of it."

Don't come back.

He sounded offended. "Don't worry, I'm never coming back here again."

Was he trying to sink a barb at the implication of losing a customer? When he's the lowest form of vermin known to society; a thief? How cute. I wish I could have shattered his knee-caps for him as a lovely parting gift.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Clothes can make the situation

I found myself feeling contented and lucky the other day being able to attire myself for work without much regard beyond comfort on a chill, rainy day. I reflected on how much of a bother it has been in the past when I had to conform to uniform guidelines. Granted, there were some very good reasons for the staff to abide by a certain appearance. On the other hand, you'd also get stuck having to show up in clothes that were ill-suited for the current weather quite often as well.

No such problem here. And I was feeling pretty damned smug about that until reality reasserted itself and I recalled that my choices of dress are not entirely free of constraint. I work with the public. Sure, I can show up to work in extremely casual clothes if I so chose. However, not many people are going to want to buy products to get naked and friendly with if I look like I just crawled out of the residue of a keg party.

Oh wow. How insightful. Who would have thought that hygiene would serve any purpose besides allowing the fascist state to keep the common man down. Put down the raised fists there, skippy. Savor the sarcasm a little.

Fortunately, everyone here on the payroll side has enough mental kindling and/or pride to know better than to show up looking like utter shit. Ninety-nine percent of the time, that's where the examination ends.

There's another caveat that MUST be taken into account here though. Call it an unspoken current of self awareness if you will. Various articles may have connotations. For example, a female clerk showed up here once with her hair in pigtails, in a white blouse, pleated plaid skirt, knee-high stockings, and mary jane type shoes. Despite how cute and fun her ensemble was for her outside the walls of the building, there are going to be very predictable results for an appearance that's a flat-out popular fetish. Although her shift passed without incident, she did spend as much of it as she could outside of customer sight. She told me later that it never entered her mind it could have been a problem.

There are a few perils lurking in my gender's direction too. Care must be exercised with the use of bandanas or any other small quantity of fabric. A hastily pocketed rag can lead to a shockingly specific offer by a customer on the floor. Motorcycle leathers could also spark some crossed signals.

If nothing else it can lead to some great stories around the water cooler.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Reach out and annoy someone

*Ring ring*

Hello. Thank you for calling Lanius' Licentious Library.
"Hello. Um, what are your hours of operation?"
We are open from [relatively early] to [damn late].
"Alright, and what time do you open?"
*Sigh* Perhaps, sir, you shouldn't be cleaning out your ears with a meat thermometer. [relatively early]
"And you close at what time?"
But if you insist on that thermometer, you really should keep pushing until you feel that second bit of resistance give way, then give it a really good swirl. [damn late]
"Alright, and where are you located?"
Gods have mercy upon my poor, broken brain. Speaking even slower and with careful diction, I recited the address.
"What road is that off of?"
Then again. Oh please oh please would it be too much to ask for him to suffer an acute stroke or MI while he's on the phone with me? I've been a "good" boy.
"Your cross street would be what? And you're off what street?"
I'm almost positive the grinding of my teeth is entirely an artifact of my imagination. However, I do think I could hit the back wall with my impression of an annoyed horned toad. And once more unto the breach before it stuck.

I have no idea if this joker refused to turn his damned hearing aid on, couldn't be bothered to simply state he wasn't understanding the question or was as dumb as a sodium dive belt, but asking the same bloody question over and over again when the only possible answer is a discrete date set just makes me dread having you EVER set foot on the premises.

Oh who am I kidding, he'll be three states over and an hour late if he ever attempted to shop here.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

I can always use more customers like this

The other day I had a pair of young women happen into the store. At first, they just seemed to be slowing taking the place in, which is not so unusual for female shoppers. If a place has a certain ambiance or "energy" to it, women prefer not to linger for very long if at all.

Fairly quickly, they relaxed and settled in to do some shopping. It wasn't very long before they were at my counter asking me about lubricants. They wanted something condom compatible, silicone based, and very good.

Let me tell ya, nothing is more delightful than informed shoppers. They make my job so much more rewarding. So I brought out the various varieties of silicone lubes we carry and laid out their various strengths and weaknesses before indicating one that I thought would suit their needs best based upon the information they'd presented me. I then stepped back and let them read labels and consider price amongst themselves in peace.

My recommendation won out and they had me hold on to it for them while they investigated the novelties. Perhaps ten minutes later they were back with toys in hand. I verified they were in working order, rang them up, and the ladies were on their way.

As they left, they both turned to thank me for my assistance and promised they'd shop here again.

I was smiling pleasantly for the next hour at least.