Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Melt

I must say that whenever I count my blessings, one of the blessings I often fold down a finger for is the fact that my current day job requires me to attend very few meetings. While meetings can sometimes be productive and even fun (certainly more fun than resolving an issue through scores of long, meandering and barely literate e-mails, for example), meetings can often be boring, depressing and, yes, even dangerous. Lethal, if you must know.

A recent article in a scholarly publication -- the New England Journal of Applied Brainiology, I think it was – described the study of hundreds of medical case files and the conclusion that, in cases where subjects were exposed to excessive numbers of long and boring meetings, there was a downright decent chance that a number of the subjects would suffer a medical condition known as cerebellus gellus, from the Latin phrase meaning “melted brain.”

The article describes four distinct stages of “brain melt” (cerebellus gellus). In Stage One, the brain is in its normal state prior to the beginning of the meeting. In Stage Two, usually occurring within the first 20 minutes of an especially boring meeting, the normally soft yet firm brain tissue devolves into a jellied substance. Like Thanksgiving Day cranberry sauce plopped out of its can, the brain can now jiggle up and down and from side to side when moved or shaken.

In Stage Three, which occurs usually after at least 40 minutes of meeting time, or after viewing five or six overly detailed and hard to read PowerPoint slides, the jellied brain tissue continues to disintegrate into a gelatinous goo, much like heated rubber cement or a warm cup of Jello Pudding.

Finally, if the subject stays in a boring meeting long enough, he or she can enter Stage Four, where actual liquefaction of the cerebral tissue takes place. In severe cases, if the viscosity is low enough, the brain broth will actually submit to gravity and escape through the nasal passages, resulting in a real mess for the custodians and a hefty dry cleaning bill to boot. The victim will by this point be of little use in further brainstorming sessions, since the brain in question has essentially left the building. Often, a Stage Four event results in hospitalization or death, or requires the subject’s transfer to a more suitable position, usually something in sales or government service.

But the reason I have introduced you to this shocking information is not to scare or depress you, but to bring you news of hope. I’m not sure I should be endorsing any products in this space, but in light of the seriousness of this condition, and due to the large number of readers who undoubtedly slog through meetings every week of their lives, I’m sure the blogging powers that be won’t mind if I tell you about one heroic company that has stepped up to the plate and made brain melt survivable.

The company, TeamPlayerz®, has introduced a line of products aimed at those people who find themselves trapped regularly in boring meetings. And at least two of these products are designed for employees whose brains have disappeared as a result of the terrible condition I described earlier.

The biggest problem that cerebellus gellus causes, besides death, is that the victim is left without a working brain. While solidification science has found a way to reassemble all of that liquid brain matter close to its original shape, size and texture, the trauma suffered during brain melt usually renders the information once stored there to be lost forever.

That’s where the TeamPlayerz® Back Up Brain™ system rides in to save the day. Much in the way a computer user pays for an offsite company to back up the material stored on their computer hard drive in case of a fire or other accident, Back Up Brain™ stores an employee’s brain information safely inside a supercomputer hard drive located deep in the bowels of a Kansas salt mine. After brain melt occurs, the old tissue can be solidified by qualified medical personnel, then a simple download of the subject’s former memory stored by Back Up Brain™ is accomplished with a few wires and clips, much like jumping a car battery. In no time at all, the subject is ready to re-enter the conference room and take up those scintillating discussions of employment guidelines, inventory management and online marketing strategies right where they left off.

Persons who have had close brushes with brain melt find that the TeamPlayerz® Brain Bib™ is a handy thing to have on hand during subsequent meetings. This form-fitting plastic sheeting is almost invisible, and when worn discreetly over clothing can prevent stains and other damage caused by a melted brain escaping through the nostrils. It comes in floral, musk and unscented fragrance options.

The bottom line is – you no longer must suffer from the after effects of brain melt! But, you might be asking, what if my meetings are boring, but not quite boring enough to cause such spectacular damage? Well, TeamPlayerz® has introduced an entire line of products aimed at you.

When faced with a boring meeting, the first impulse for many of us is to begin losing our attention span. Sometimes we become so distracted that we drift off into our own worlds, and in extreme cases we can fall asleep sitting up. This proves embarrassing when we emit a telltale rivulet of drool down the front of our shirt and are then jolted out of our peaceful reveries by a command to “Wake up!,” or a question directed at us about the inane yet crucial content we missed while dozing.

Enter the TeamPlayerz® Thought Tingler™ 5000, designed to fire up enough neurons to see a user through a 2-hour meeting of extreme dullness without a battery recharge. The ThoughtTingler, which consists of a small control unit about the size of a cell phone and two thin flesh-colored wires, is attached to the user’s back on a belt or bra clip and run up inside the clothes where it cannot be seen. Flesh-colored electrical contacts at the end of each wire are attached to the back of the neck. A slight electrical charge can then be sent as often as the user wishes, at intervals of five seconds or longer, to help them stay alert through even the most snore-inducing performances.

A deluxe model, the TeamPlayerz® Thought Tingler™ 5000XL, also includes a small microprocessor with voice recognition software that can send a boost of electrical power to the user when words or phrases selected by the user are detected, such as the user’s name and department, pertinent project areas and personnel, and exceptionally overused words and phrases such as “outside the box,” “taking it to the next level,” “going green” or “paradigm shift.”

What if someone’s problem isn’t staying awake during a meeting, but is instead coming up with some intelligent, or at least coherent, words to respond with when asked a question out of the blue? Sometimes, all that’s needed is a little extra brainpower in reserve. The solution is simple -- open up and eat a tasty TeamPlayerz® Bit-O-Brain™ bar before a meeting. Resembling the classic Bit-O-Honey candy bar you might have loved as a child, the Bit-O-Brain bar provides at least 10 new thoughts per hour to the average user – just the edge you might need during that think tank on the proposed company mission statement. For smaller needs, bite-size Noggin Nuggets™ provide at least three new thoughts apiece. They’re available in chocolate, vanilla and mocha flavors.

Finally, if all else fails and it becomes evident that a person doesn’t have what it takes to mentally survive a meeting through its bitter end, sometimes the only solution is escape by flight. To allow that to happen in a way that does not pin blame on its customers, TeamPlayerz® has introduced the Panic Pack™. This small electrical device, which can be concealed easily inside a coat pocket, pants pocket or purse, uses wireless sensors to learn the codes and frequencies of all electrically controlled devices within 50 yards of a conference room. With the push of a button, the Panic Pack can make lights go off, fire alarms blare, sprinkler systems activate and sound systems and PowerPoint projectors suffer instant blackouts. (Warning: this item is not recommended for customers wearing cardiac pacemakers).

So, fellow meeting veterans, please share this encouraging news with others at your workplace. Feel free to copy or e-mail this or, better yet – why not call a meeting to discuss its contents? Just make sure during the meeting that if your nose starts to run, or you smell the faint odor of cranberries, run!

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