Journal Entry: Blog User Profiles

Journal entry, 10/29/13. Many of you out there have probably had the experience of developing a new product meant for consumption by some portion of the public, such as a website, a magazine or other periodical, a new piece of software, perhaps even a radio or television program. In such situations, Justice Minotaur and Mr. Cornwall have learned, it is not uncommon to go through a process of creating sample user profiles. The idea here is to identify some characteristics of fictional members of the primary audience so that clients, developers, designers, and others can focus on the needs of these key targets. Justice Minotaur and Mr. Cornwall have recently completed the process of creating profiles for fictional target users of this blog under the direction of the intrepid Katty Proone, a product manager for Hannibal’s Crossing LLC, a web design firm based out of a two-story Ford van. Final versions of the three user profiles are presented below.

Lad Tanahara
Age: Seventeen
Handedness: Left

Lad Tanahara is a brooding Japanese teenager. That he is Japanese is hard to believe, but in these politically sensitive times we must take his word for it. He is six foot four with red hair and fair skin and was raised in a family of cordwainers in St. Paul. He participates in what he calls postmodern pentathlon, which is the same as the modern pentathlon except that the competition is held in a coffee shop and the participants deny the existence of God. That he can describe with great precision the events of every day of the Ford administration, including the names of those with whom the American president swam, calls into question his age as well. It should be said that he appears to be more than seventy years of age and suffering of vitamin E deficiency. He visits the blog based on a misunderstanding that it is literally run by a creature with the head of a bull and the body of a man.

Madge Dockers
Age: “Forty something”
Handedness: Unknown

To say that Madge Dockers is cautious is as much of an understatement as saying that Bruce Lee was capable of doing “a little bit of damage” with his fists. Against some kind of unspecified threat, Dockers wears two layers of clothing at all times, including two layers of socks and undergarments. This gives her a bulky look but appears to impart to her an enviable degree of self-confidence. She follows the French Republican Calendar, which situates this blog post squarely in the month of Brumaire in the 222nd year of the Republic. Most of her meals are consumed out of souvenir bowls of various kinds. Her web browser has been tuned to this blog for twenty-two days straight, but that is because she accidentally fell into an abandoned antimony mine while walking to a store to buy emergency supplies. Her present location puts her approximately ten kilometers from her desktop computer, assuming a direct route were possible. Her chances of survival are listed as “grim.”

Bain
Age: Twenty-five
Handedness: Ambidextrous

Bain is a former high school American football punter with three weeks left on a prison sentence he received for deceiving a fletcher out of his arrows using a Svengali deck. To his credit Bain apparently intended to use the arrows–his mother described him in the court proceedings as “an archer even greater than Orion.” In less troubled times, he often went to Subway restaurants and asked workers to remove their hygienic gloves before preparing his sandwich. His prison sentence was handed down by Justice Minotaur after a trial before a three-person jury; his interest in the blog is probably based on a strong personal interest in Minotaur’s habits and whereabouts.

Advertisements

Journal Entry: Candy Disclaimer

Journal entry, 10/28/13. Justice Minotaur announced that the following disclaimer would be affixed with powerful glue to candy distributed this year from the compound to trick-or-treating children: “To our little ghosts and goblins! Justice Korbin Minotaur and Eric of Cornwall salute you with a holy kiss, &c. Please note that we are merely passive distributors of any candy passed along to you, and should the candy harm you, your sole remedy lies against the manufacturer of said candy.”

(Mr. Cornwall’s note to American readers: In New Salem, the holiday called “Halloween” in the United States is celebrated as Guy Fawkes Night. While the date of the celebration and many of the traditions are similar, it is noteworthy that in New Salem the law requires that every costume include a pumpkin head, meaning that the wearer of any costume must literally wear a hollowed-out pumpkin upside down on her or his head (generally with eye holes and a breathing hole also carved into the gourd), or face up to three years of heavy labor. There is a lucana in the legislative record at the time the law was passed, so the reasons for the mandate are not clear, but some scholars suspect the legislation was pushed through by a combination of the Pumpkin Growers’ Lobby and the Let Freedom Ring Tonsorial Guild.)

Journal Entry: Broken Alarm Clock

Journal entry, 10/27/13: Justice Minotaur and Mr. Cornwall entertained a lunch guest today, Noachian Hopes, the sheriff of Chestertownboroughville (the original white European settlers of the area must not have realized that the four primary segments of that word all mean, more or less, “city” or “place of”—or else they were playing a joke on posterity). Justice Minotaur asked the sheriff if there was any news from his “precinct.” The sheriff said murders have gone up considerably but embezzlements have gone down. So there was reason for optimism. Minotaur wondered aloud whether with more people being murdered there were simply not as many people left to be doing the embezzling. The sheriff said he was “no stats major” and did not know the answer, but he had not come across any “stone cold” evidence that the murder victims had been planning to embezzle.

Reciprocally, the sheriff asked the justice if the latter had any news. Minotaur said with some feeling that he had discarded his digital alarm clock earlier in the day. It had “repeatedly borne false witness: the read-out was jumping all over the place, like a horse if you shoot it between the eyes with a flaming arrow.”

“For example,” Minotaur said to the sheriff, “give me a time of day.”

“Oh, I don’t know—what time am I supposed to say?”

“Honestly,” Minotaur said, “just say any time—just anything random.”

“Okay,” the sheriff complied, “how about one twenty-three.”

“Very interesting—a sequence of one-two-three. You are not the world’s deepest thinker. Would that be antemeridian or postmeridian?”

“Errr, I don’t know what you are getting at,” the sheriff stammered.

“Like before the noon or after the noon. Like do you mean at one twenty-three of the so-called ‘a.m.,’ the time of day when you might encounter a bloodthirsty vampire or maybe a guy dropping off bundles of newspapers at a gas station for to be sold much later that day? Or was your sheriffy mind fixated on one twenty-three in the afternoon, that time of the day when we would expect that roasting celestial orb, she who presides over all of animal and plant life, to be crossing the skies as on a swift chariot?”

“Let’s say a.m.; one twenty-three a.m.,” the sheriff clarified.

“Very nice, very nice,” Minotaur said. “All right, now you would expect the clock would have said that same time. But instead it will jump forward or back for no reason. So, for example, let’s say you had said the time was three forty.”

The sheriff interjected, “You mean one twenty-three.”

Minotaur replied, “Right, you said one twenty-three, but just for argument’s sake, let’s say you had said three forty.”

“Okay, a.m. or p.m.?” the sheriff queried with a smile on his face.

“Right,” Minotaur said. “I have been exploded by my own bomb. Let’s say you had said three forty postmeridian. That’s not what you said, of course, but just for argument’s sake. Go with me here. Let me run with this. Give me some slack, if you will, my gun-toting and badge-wearing friend. You said one twenty-three of the antemeridian, but let’s just say you had said three forty of the postmeridian. Again, you didn’t say that, you said something as different from that as night is from day, but let’s just postulate it, scientific-wise.”

“Okay,” the sheriff offered, eager to see where this was going.

“All right, so it’s supposed to be three forty of the postmeridian, and the clock–this broken clock fit only for a trash heap, this whited sepulcher, this fallen angel–might have said four forty of the postmeridian or maybe two forty of the antemeridian or maybe eight forty of the postmeridian or any other thing. Do you see what I am getting at here?”

“Yes, I think so,” the sheriff said. “Let me see if I follow you. The clock seems to be jumping about by the hour hand like the wounded steed you mentioned earlier but the minute hand is as pacific as a bear in hibernation.”

“Exactly,” Minotaur said. “You have described the situation with admirable precision–a precision that we can only wish this false chronometer would have exhibited. And theoretically, the clock could even have said, by lucky coincidence, that it was in fact three forty of the postmeridian.

“Wait a second,” the sheriff responded. “How’s that? I thought you said the clock was broken, so how could it possibly say the right time?”

Minotaur spoke slowly. “Well, it seems to be jumping around at random by the hour, forward and back. So with total dumb luck it could land on the right time—in this case, three forty of the postmeridian. Or, going with your original example, which doesn’t work quite as well, one twenty-three of the antemeridian. You have heard that the blind squirrel will sometimes collect a nut, or a million monkeys typing on a million typewriters for a million years will ultimately type one of Shakespeare’s plays. [Mr. Cornwall’s note: see an interesting Wikipedia article for more information on the infinite monkey theorem.] The same is true here. This blind clock will sometimes land on the right time, but a sometimes-accurate clock is worse than one that is never right, because it could encourage false reliance, kind of like when my ex-wife used to say she would be home before dawn to make me breakfast.”

The sheriff seemed satisfied with the explanation, and Minotaur seemed satisfied that the sheriff understood.

The sheriff looked at his wristwatch and appeared to realize he needed to get back to work. “Well, what are you two going as for Guy Fawkes Night?” the sheriff asked as he stood up from the table and and moved toward the door.

Minotaur answered, “I think we will wear the same clothes as now, but we will just get them soaking wet in the sheep trough. And hey–let me ride into town with you. I need to go by the tonsorial parlor. Cornwall, clean up this dump.”

Exeunt the sheriff followed by a Minotaur.

Dream: Horseback Printing

Justice Minotaur reported the following dream, which occurred either last night or on Bastille Day 1974: “In the dream I am printing a sextodecimo pamphlet while riding horseback. I am using a sans serif font created in the 17th century by a left-handed itinerant grocer. In addition to the Latin alphabet, the numerals 0 through 9, and the basic punctuation marks, the font set also includes an ampersand designed to convey that the author is bored and a glyph of a moistened pacifier.”

Affidavit of Priam Minotaur

Mr. Cornwall’s note: Justice Minotaur owns three pairs of vintage KangaROOS brand footwear from the early 1980s. While cleaning one pair of these shoes after a two-corpse funeral last Thursday, Mr. Cornwall found a leaf of paper neatly folded up in the zipper pouch of the right shoe. The document measures 14 inches high by 3 inches wide; it has a large gash torn out of it about two-thirds of the way down and is also torn at the bottom edge. The handwriting is presumably that of Priam Minotaur, a half brother of the justice. Priam Minotaur disappeared on a peace mission to Antarctica in summer 1982 while he was a reeve plenipotentiary for New Salem. The verso of the document has a recipe for peanut butter and banana sandwiches that was inscribed in purple graphite in ornate handwriting.

Affidavit

For many years, I have routinely “tested” myself by undertaking various self-chosen challenges designed to stretch me, to toughen me, to reveal or prove my character. Some challenges have tested my physical strength and agility. Others have called upon hidden emotional reserves or probed the depths of my intellect. Above all else, every test has required courage. And, I should add, a lack of discretion.

Carrying a thousand strawberries to and from a wrestling meet in a humongous paper hat without a single one being lost; abstaining from interaction with my infant son for a fortnight; riding through a car wash nude, strapped to the top of a Renault; wearing a saucepan backward on my head while administering last rites: I have undertaken these tests and hundreds of others. Success has rarely eluded me. One noteworthy failure came when I tried to get a bank loan under the false name Lady Massengill. The bank already had a customer by that name who had taken out a home equity loan to finance a scale replica of the Taj Mahal made out of goat cheddar.

By far my most ambitious quest is the one I most recently commenced. The date was July 14, 1979. The place: a Boy Scout court of honor for a nephew. As young Hector of Lockslee (nicknamed “the Lozenge” for his frequent bouts of sickness) was crowned with laurels, I felt first regret then disgust, and not just because I had eaten a bell pepper stuffed with mint toothpaste for lunch. Thought I: I have never earned my Eagle award. The fact is certain and undeniable. Let it stand stark and tall, like the obelisk for Washington in the American capital city. I will never meet the measure of a man.

On the other hand, reasoned I: Through my tests, I have demonstrated, a million times over, the valor, ingenuity, and persistence supposedly required of an Eagle. Hector’s accomplishments are rote, academic—and aided by the swift, don’t-ask-questions pen of his father cum merit badge counselor. Hector would wither in the presence of Baden-Powell (would he even recognize his master?) while I would be exalted. Moreover, Hector can sometimes be a real nimrod.

It was under these circumstances that I conceived a plan to earn a de facto Eagle. But I would not call it an Eagle, for that would dilute my accomplishment by comparison. I would call it the Griffin of Excalibur.

[page torn]

Further affiant saith not.

/s/ Priam Minotaur

Sworn before me, Korbin Minotaur, a justice of the peace
New Salem

[not signed]
[page torn]