July 17, 2005
Volume VI - Issue 256
Please don't forget to read the bulletin board. Enter +read from anywhere.
Centaur Con well attended
The Centaur Con hosted by Argon last week brought out a number of SpinDizzy's six limbed community. Andrew, Windwhistler, Rown and Argon, all human / equine or "classic centaurs" attended along with Jellicle cattaur Patch O'Black. Findra suprised the group by attending as a classic style centaur also.
A number of non centaurs stopped by and there was a friendly interchange of questions and discussion concerning diet, scratching itches, "horse" shoes, and the different experiences of those born with the form and those who had been transformed. In addition, the feeling that the male centaurs had, to that point, out numbered females by quite a bit was noted. However Findra's new form, and the recent arrival of one or two other female centaurs has diluted that concern.
With an enjoyable "Centaur Con" concluded the idea of another was encouraged. No plans have yet been made, but one will be scheduled in the future.
Centaur Wallaby race draws crowd
After the Centaur COn (See above article,) Findra, local (at press time) female centaur, had retained said form for a few days. Morticon, local wallaby and alledged leader of the Society of Evil Doers (SED), expressed his displeasure in Findra's choice of form. At the same time, Andrew, local centaur, mentioned measuring how fast he could gallop. This made Morticon claim that he could beat a centaur in a race, and he challanged Andrew. Andrew accepted the challange and the match was held Friday night in the Glade off Centaur Square.
A large crowd showed up to observe the contest. A number of the local centaurs, some folks who were just interested in the race, and of course, a few members of the SED. The contestants lined up on the path of about one mile around the Glade, and with a "On your makrk, get set, go!" they were off.
As expected, Andrew took off quickly but Morticon was right behind him. Also, as expected, Morticon wasted no time in attempting to even the odds. Charging ahead with a burst of speed, Morticon briefly took the lead and spreak oil in the path ahead of Andrew. Unable to keep up the pace, the wallaby quickly fell behind, and the centaur jumped over the oil patch and continued ahead.
Morticon then attempted to toss magnets in the path hoping they would attach to Andrew's horseshoes and slow him down. This plan was foiled by Andrews titanium horseshoes which are non magnetic. A dense fog surrounding the centaur's head and then a swarm of horseflies aggrivated Andrew enough to slow him down. This allowed Morticon to catch up and (although witness accounts vary,) at least match Andrew in a draw.
Mortion's victory dance was short lived as Argon, local centaur, suggested that the race be run again, with no cheating. The now tired wallaby eagerly accepted claiming that even a tired wallaby could beat a centaur in a race. The two lined up and off they hopped and galloped. Morticon was obviously exhausted by the first race as Andrew took off and kept a rapid pace throughout. Morticon fell so far behind that even by being carried by DaemonNuit, local black panther and SED member, Andrew handily won the race.
Andrew was congratulated by the centaurs and the rest of the crowd, except those members of the SED who slunk off to support their defeated leader.
Kern threatens falling `next week', finds Brassfang's and Violet's places in the universe
Kern, clockwork tern, announced to the Rose Garden crowd Saturday morning that the "falling", in which "the city falls away from the planet" that Spindizzy has been on for months, will happen sometime next week. "We just have to dot the isles and cross the teams and we'll be all set for it!"
PatchO'Black, the Jellicle Cat, insisted it was the planet doing the falling away from Spindizzy, a notion Kern rejected: "That's what the planet says but we worked hard!" Brassfang, steampunk serpent, thought the city falling was the more sensible, to which PatchO'Black asked, "Why do we have to be sensible?"
The exact nature of the falling has never been made clear, but most agree it seems to have something to do with launching Spindizzy back into the spaceways. This has been anticipated for a long while, and is expected to be a forthcoming event on the morning shift. Seat belts and other crash protection measures are recommended. Kern has in the past insisted it was gathering decibels to make a sufficiently strong humming, and this Saturday insisted it had reached this goal.
Kern also met Brassfang, apparently for both their first times. Brassfang, who faces some mysteries of its past, accepted calmly Kern's claims about the city and the serpent's role helping the birds in it, and asked, "You sseem to know a lot about me, Kern. I wass wondering ssomething- do you know who my creator wass, and what I wass created for?"
Kern concluded, "Well it must have been Ing, since I didn't build you and you're way bigger than the hummingbirds make, so you have to be made up for helping the birds serve the city and keep it in its most beautiful shape, all wound-up and fresh-polished and only just as frictional as it really has to be."
Brassfang wondered why, then, it was armored; Kern answered that Ing must have a good reason for it, and praised the perceptiveness of Brassfang.
Kern also explained to PatchO'Black that it refers to the cat as a "slinkytail" because he has the sort of tail that slinks about, rather than being poofy or ringy or springy.
Morticon, evil wallaby, revealed he had an Ing statue, a rock made to look like the imaginary clockwork raven. Violet, purple cartoon donkey, wondered about the plush toys of Spindizzy regulars, and speculated on her doll: "Sometimes it's a donkey but when ya pull the string it turns inta a goat and eats yer books..."
Kern said, "That's a very clever design, it's hard to make that work out that way without taking it all apart again ... One time we had to put the whole northern city together again after taking it all apart."
Violet asked, "Didn't folks get a little upset with takin apart their city?" Kern insisted they did it while "they" were unwound, and so were unaware that time was passing. "I hope ya put it back the same way ya found it... Nothing stranger than waking up on the ceiling in the morning."
To this, Kern said, "No, we put it back fixed. It gets all broken around when we don't take care of it all." It demonstrated by moving around the ears of Violet; Violet insisted she didn't need the polishing, cleaning, lubricating, and such that machines did, but Kern was insistent that was because of the birds' hard work.
Brassfang, one notes, understood all of this.
Gilead's Guide to Restaurant Ownership
Foreword: Otters eat up to a quarter of their weight in food every day, and digest meals from one end to the other in about an hour. So otters are always hungry, and otters eat a lot. A 90 lb. sea otter eats more than a 500 lb. lion. Of all mammals, only shrews, bats, and some smaller weasels eat more, and they tend to be more specialized in their diets than otters are. It's not just that otters eat a lot; they eat a lot of meals. They'll eat anything from sashimi to venison, to things humans give them. This means that quasi-civilized otters like Gilead make ideal restaurant experts, because they know more about food in general than anybody, and have eaten more meals than almost anyone else. They have seen restaurants, good and bad, come and go. Listen to an otter when it comes to food.
The Guide: A restaurant is, first and foremost, a business. A business that involves food. Lots of people can cook well, but few succeed at opening a restaurant. None succeed on cooking alone. If you want to open one, you must keep this foremost in your mind. I want you to succeed, because if there are lots of good restaurants, I have more places to eat.
Opening Your Restaurant: There are basically only two types of food a restaurant can serve: good food; and crap. Oddly, the success or failure of a restaurant is not really affected by which type you choose to serve. Just remember which type you chose to serve, and fit your service and prices to your food. If you doubt this conclusion, think on it a moment. The most successful restaurant in the history of the world got that way by keeping small, overcooked hamburgers under hotlamps for hours until a clown (or surly teenager) got around to serving them to you. Of the two most successful pizza parlors, one promised your pizza in 30 minutes or less (with no promise of quality), and the other simply says they're "where a kid can be a kid" (and where a rat can be your maitre'd). And honestly, had you ever heard of Wolfgang Puck before he stuck his name on a line of microwave pizzas?
So if the food you serve doesn't affect the success of your restaurant, what will? There are three basic rules that will control the early success or failure of your restaurant. In order of importance, they are: 1) The location of your restaurant; 2) Where your restaurant is located; and 3) the place you choose to open your restaurant. It costs money to get a successful location. If you think you're getting a bargain on a restaurant location, think again. If you're buying an existing restaurant site, why isn't the restaurant that's already there staying there? Whether or not there's a restaurant already there, why isn't someone else pouncing on your bargain and driving the price up?
Yes, the gang violence problem of the five blocks surrounding your prospective site will keep customers away. Yes, the fact that it's an hour drive from any recognizable population center will hurt the bottom line. Yes, the smell from the rendering plant across the street will affect sales. If the reason the site you've selected isn't being turned into a McDonalds is because there's already a McDonalds next door, you may want to consider that your next door neighbor has served umpteen billion, and will continue to do so, while you will need to convince every potential customer to come to your place, instead of a place that's already served them billions of hamburgers. A gorgeous view of an unspoiled mountain wilderness won't do you any good if your customers need to hire a tribe of sherpas to get there.
Pick a site that has a good mix of traffic, and passable neighborhood quality, matched to the kind of food you will be serving. Nothing will drive you out of business faster than not having customers. A good location is an investment, like advertising. Every customer who stops in because he passes by and thinks your place looks nice is one customer you don't have to pay for other advertising to obtain. Every customer who you need to advertise to obtain is an extra cost that could have gone to a good location. You'll notice that I have barely mentioned food or service. That's because if you don't get customers to enter your establishment in the first place, Nothing Else Matters.
No matter how good your location, some degree of advertising is needed. Even putting up a sign is advertising. Advertising costs money. A picture is worth a thousand words. And probably a thousand bucks in your local newspaper. The fourth rule of restaurant ownership is: 4) You will not make money your first year or two in business. You need the investment capital, and tightness of your own belt, to weather at least a year, and probably two, of making no money. Between paying for a good location before the customers come in, and paying for ads before the customers come in, and paying your staff when there are still very few customers coming in, a restaurant will lose money for a good while. That is why 80% of all restaurants go out of business in their first year, and 90% in the first two years. Raise a year's operating expenses, and better yet, two, before you think about opening a restaurant.
Food and service: It is only once you have customers that food and service matter. But at that point, they DO matter. Once you have customers, you want to keep them. With all the money it took you to get that customer, you don't want to waste it. And you don't want to have to spend it again to replace a lost customer. The cost of replacing a customer is ten times what it costs to keep a satisfied customer. And then there's the unspoken correlary of advertising. A picture may be worth a thousand ordinary words, but a good word of mouth is worth your picture in ten thousand copies of your local newspaper. And the reverse holds too, that bad word of mouth will cost you a fortune in advertising to make up for it. Every person who hears that your restaurant is awful is one person whose copy of the paper is a total waste to you. Keep the customers happy. The third most common reason for restaurants to fail, after bad location, and insufficient financing to weather the startup, is failure to keep customers once they come in.
It still doesn't matter if you serve Good Food, or Crap, just that you know what you are serving and fit your service and prices to what you are serving. Good Food requires Good Service. Crap also requires Good Service. But how Good Service is defined differs based on what is being served. And remember, even among Crap, there are degrees of quality. McDonalds didn't get successful by having frequently recognizable rodent parts in the burgers. Good Service basically means, "The customer is always right." For Good Food, that means the customer must get lots of perks and comforts. This will cost you more in hiring skilled wait staff, and paying them well enough to keep them happy (not to mention keep them, period; your competitors want skilled staff too, and they're in short supply). For Crap, that means the food must be there fast, and it must be cheap. In neither case does it mean surly service is ever acceptable. It's important to realize that someone is not a customer if you will always lose money on them, but they may still be worth the loss in advertising. Think of the big picture. One guy who disproportionately depletes your buffet, but gushes constantly at his office about how he's looking forward to your place for dinner, may be giving you back ten times what he costs you, in good word of mouth.
Fit your service to your food, and your food to your service. Fit them both to your customers. I've watched a whole series of restaurants fail in a gorgeous building with an unspoiled view of a river. And that with a near-captive customer base of people who had boats in the marina where the restaurant was located. Some failed because they insisted on serving Good Food, with "good" service based on their own opinions. The customer is always right. Your opinion is nothing in comparison. Otters getting back to the dock after a long day of sliding and swimming around their boats don't want to be told that the wait will be an hour, or that "Good food takes time, and all our dishes are made to order." They want to be told that there is a table ready, and their appetizers will be there before they unfold their napkins. That is good service. Telling a hungry otter to wait is bad service. It's also dangerous if you like having fingers. Some of these restaurants failed to consider that business would decrease in the winter, when all the species with lesser quality fur would be avoiding the water, and decided to attract a singles crowd to make up for the seasonal loss of money. No. No no no no no.
Resist the urge to cater to the singles bar crowd, for they are noisy, cheap, and usually obnoxious drunks, which is why they are looking for love in bars. They will drive away more lucrative customers. Plus, they have no loyalty to your food. Those who find a date will soon leave to take their date somewhere nice, far from the other noisy jackasses you've attracted to ruin your restaurant's atmosphere. Those whose personal flaws prevent them from finding Mr., Mrs., or Mir. Right will eventually consider your place a bad hunting ground, and move on to the next hot spot. You will make good money for a few months. Then you will be left with your regular customers eating elsewhere, and none of your new customers.
Many restaurants try to weather hard stretches by decreasing service, portions, or food quality. Don't even consider it. No! No!! Do not consider it. Stop considering it, now. Bad! No restaurant has any chance of recovering from that mistake. If you are losing money, that is the WORST possible time to suddenly lose all your regular customers, and have to suffer the added costs of needing to replace them. Sell your house, eat customers' leftovers, and secretly live in the back of the kitchen, but do not upset the customers. You will be living in a box and eating out of the garbage soon enough anyway, if you try it.
Which brings us to deals on existing restaurants. They are rarely a good idea. If they are being sold because they are having trouble, you have all that negative feeling among the former customers to overcome. Or they are in a bad location, and don't have any customers to begin with. Either way, whatever you save on startup costs, you will eat three times over in making up for the previous restaurant's problems. An "Under New Management" sign won't do it. If the old management was well-liked by the customers, do you really want to draw attention to the fact that you're not them? And if they stank, potential customers will distrust even your assertion that the management really IS new! Even if the old management was neutral, thanks to years of dishonest business practices, people will see "Under New Management" and think, "Mustafa's Oriental Rug Gallery--Going Out of Business In the Same Location For Over Fifty Years!" That does not help you. You can fall for dishonest practices yourself. It's quite common for a failing restaurant to cook the books more than the food. Many will ask the butcher for a better sale price on meat, in exchange for lucrative, off-the-books kickbacks to the butcher. It looks like they're getting a good price on meat, and you'll easily make money. Your price will rapidly go up to equal or exceed the cost of the official price plus the kickback together.
Summary: Successful restaurants are successful businesses. Food is just your widget, like cars are Toyota's widget, or computers are Dell's widget. Just as there are Alienware computers and eMachines computers, you can make a success out of food from good to cheap. What matters is that you run the business as a business. Know what your costs should be, and finance them adequately to survive your startup. A bargain location is no bargain. Never, never ever, no matter how much your wallet pleads, no matter how much it begs, never think that feeding your customers less than they've come to expect is a good idea. And please succeed quickly, because I'm already hungry again.
Limerick on Limericks
Limerick on Limericks
I guess I will not understand
For I am gal from Harrad
Perhaps they are not what they seem
Fuzzy Yarns back in business
After many years of being quiet, the Gaelic Ruin is once more abuzz with activity. Tuesday nights the grand Fuzzy Yarns Story Circle hosted by the otter that everone loves to hate, Tarka,the Doom Otter, has resumed. This event will happen every Tuesday, rain or shine, night or day, and is welcome to all who wish to write, draw for the story or just sit around and be entertained with the artists.
So what is Fuzzy Yarns? It is a live inprov event where people write a cooperative story, each writing a small part of the story and then passing it on to the next artist. A circle can be anywhere from three people to 10. Though it has been found that a circle of 5 or 6 people works the best. People get a chance to write and it really brings a lot of peoples' talents to the fore.
So where did Fuzzy Yarns come from? Originally Tarka was part of a Story Circle that took place on Brazillian Dreams II muck back in the mid nineties. (BDII distroyed itself back in 1996 from a political meltdown.) After that he drifted around and ended up a couple of years later on Toons Fur and Fluff where he started his own event since he dearly missed the old stories he took part in many years ago. The name Fuzzy Yarns was coined by Tarka many years ago to give his brand of circle its own identity.
When did Fuzzy Yarns used to run? Now lets turn on the wayback system and look. Fuzzy Yarns started to run in 1998 on Toons Fur and Fluff and after that muck crashed and Spindizzy came to be it was the first event to be done there as well. (Actually... a bit of the side history here, the first Fuzzy Yarns on Spindizzy was done before the muck was officially open.) Tarka, being the doomy fellow he is, managed to bribe his way in a week early. It ran on into the Spindizzy time but ended in mid 1999 due to the fact that Tarka's RL life took a bit of a turn for the worse.
After that there have been a few others circles that ran for a shorter time period... Fuzzy Yarns ran for a short time in 2002... about 8 stories... and then Adara ran a story circle in the ruin for a few rounds in 2003.
Now, the time has come for regular sessions to begin again, so the circle will run again at the classic Tusday time regularly for the foreseeable future.
To look over the past stories meander over to www.siliconotter.com/story/story.html and take a look. Most of the stories that happened with Fuzzy Yarns are there. (There are three lost stories. The server crashed and they were never saved.) Take a look and read some.
In step with: Gina Doberman
This week we sit down with Gina Doberman, local Doberman Pinscher and rock star to be!
Gina_Doberman has arrived.
Ba'ar smiles "Welcome Gina and thanks for consenting to this interview."
Gina_Doberman says, "You're welcome!"
Ba'ar growls, "Okay let's start. Our readers know about you and some have even met you 'in the pelt' as it were. For one thing, how long have you been here in Spindizzy?"
Gina_Doberman says, "I was created here about maybe 2 years ago!"
Ba'ar growls, "What brought you to Spindizzy? "
Gina_Doberman says, "I was on a couple other mucks (Furtoonia and Furrymuck), but activity on Furtoonia started dying and Furrymuck was too crowded. Conversations there were too cluttered and way too silly!"
Gina_Doberman says, "Found Spindizzy to be just right!"
Ba'ar giggles "Oh sure....and they're WAY TOO SERIOUS here, right?"
Gina_Doberman says, "What I mean is it was hard to talk there. Too many conversations going on at once. Was hard to follow, and hard to get a word in!"
Ba'ar nods and grins "Tried to be a wise guy but it blew up in my face. Now then."
Ba'ar growls, "I understand you're a singer. What's the name of your band? "
Gina_Doberman says, "I named my band 'Dreamstate'. We're a rock band, though not hard rock like many!"
Ba'ar growls, "What bands are your influences?"
Gina_Doberman says, "Mainly Fleetwood Mac and a few folk music bands!"
Ba'ar growls, "What songs do you sing? Are they original compositions or covers?"
Gina_Doberman says, "Mainly covers. I'm a good singer and guitar player, but Lyrics dont come to me very well. The newest member of my band, Amanda Rivers seems to have a knack for writing, so she's working on a few new tunes!"
Ba'ar growls, "Amanda Rivers? If I'm not mistaken she's your sister."
Gina_Doberman says, "Ummm.... No. She's an Otter. I have an older sister named Maria who is also the bands agent. She makes all the arrangements for our concerts!"
Ba'ar growls, "Sorry about that Gina. I knew you had a sister...but I guess I had my females mixed up... now then."
Ba'ar growls, "Do you have plans to make your singing a career or is it just something you do on the side? "
Gina_Doberman says, "Right now, we prefer performing in smaller venues. Nightclubs, festivals, and we've also played county fairs!"
Ba'ar growls, "What do you like to do when you're not singing?"
Gina_Doberman says, "Oh, fishing, hanging out at the beach, watching old cheesy Sci-Fi movies, and web surfing!"
Ba'ar growls, "Are there any men in your life right now? "
Gina_Doberman says, "Err... *coughs*. Well.... I'm not attached to anyone at the moment, but I have been kind of noticing this new guy that joined our road crew not long ago!"
Ba'ar smiles "We'll leave well enough alone as I'm no Geraldo Rivera...Now then."
Ba'ar growls, "Who do you admire the most? "
Ba'ar growls, "In or out of the music industry."
Gina_Doberman says, "Lets see. In the music industry, I've always liked Frank Zappa. Love his twisted brand of music. Unfortunate that he passed away some years ago. Outside the industry, I'm a big fan of special effects artist Ray Harryhausen. Always been amased by his work!"
Ba'ar growls, "I've heard of Harryhausen. Protege of Willis O'Brien (who did Mighty Joe Young with him). One of the grand masters of the industry. "
Ba'ar growls, "Who do you admire the least (okay...because you're a musician I'd have to say..other than the RIAA) ;-D"
Gina_Doberman says, "Any and all industrial and punk rockers. Their stuff often sounds like little more than noise!"
Ba'ar nods "Do you have any plans for the future?
Gina_Doberman says, "Not certain really. Continue on with the band, maybe raise a family someday once I get too old for this. Would like to buy a house in the moutains!"
Ba'ar nods "What secret fact or desire about you would surprise our readers?"
Gina_Doberman says, "Hmmm. Dont know if it would surprise anyone, but it would be nice if the band were to win a music award someday. Of course, we would have to move up into the big time before that happens!"
Ba'ar growls, "One more question before we go Gina...In closing, do you have any words of wisdom for our readers?"
Gina_Doberman says, "Dont let anybody discourage you from realising your dreams!"
Ba'ar growls, "Good advice. That concludes our interview. Once again Gina, thanks for doing it."
Gina_Doberman says, "Thank you for having me!"
Gilead's Pouch O' Puns
Q: What marsupial reproduces with the aid of bees?
Q: Why did Mrs. Opossum blush while shopping for a piano?
Q: What kind of marsupial helps Australian computers run?
Q: Why did the inner-city Thylacine turn to a life of crime?
Q: What child star marsupial was in "Gimme a Break" and "Blossom?"
Q: How is a wallaby like a gopher?
Q: What is the basis of every marsupial chef's cookery?
Q: What is a kangaroo's least favorite dessert?
Q: What do wallabies keep in their pouches for musical entertainment?
Q: Why did the koala joey get detention?
Q: Why couldn't the marsupial talk after his dental appointment?
Q: Why shouldn't a flyer with a joey imbibe hard spirits?
Zach's Quoted Quote Question
|Can you guess where the quote was said and who said
it. See the bottom of the paper for the answer...
"Sasha's hanging by mere _______ again, oh dear."
This week in history
Back issues from a year and more ago. Remember when...?
Newspaper Circulation Report
@Action News, SpinDizzy's weekly paper, apparently has a fairly healthy circulation, so we figured we'd show just how healthy it is.
Each week, as long as there's room. I'll show the 'hit graph' for the @Action News website.
Just as a note, this makes a full year @Action News has been showing our circulation numbers. Yay!
Welcome to the latest edition of Bearing up, the advice column where Ba'ar (That's me!) has answers to your most challenging questions.
Dear Bearing Up:
Dear D. Otter:
Dear Bearing Up:
Dear Dr. Scholls:
Dear Bearing Up:
Dear Bearing Up:
Dear B. Bumstead:
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Dear K. Python:
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Dear F. Doctor:
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Dear Phill D. Teeth:
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Dear M. Mouth:
Remember possums (to steal a term from Dame Edna ;-D), if you have any questions,please page mail me (Ba'ar) online or send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks.
This week Argon asked, This week Argon is asking, I'm doing a survey for @Action News. The question this week is, 'What Souvenir do you wish had been sold at the Centaur Con?"
Zach's Quoted Quote Answer
The marsupials of magic are falling apart, as an elaborate web of deceit is created by the archvillain Vole d' Mort, Will Sharony Groundhog, Donald Weasel and Hairy Otter find the Half Breed Pangolin in time? Now in bookstores everywhere they need to be.
Today's quote come from, yes indeed the Rose Garden by our very own Roofus Roo. While the missing word is threads!
Congratulation to all of you that guessed right!
The Doze Garden
The polar bear cubs' entrepreneurial spirit wasn't dampened by early set backs.
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