A Merry Christmas Competition

Last week our company essentially took recess on Friday morning in honor of the 1st Annual Christmas Decorating Contest. UX became it’s own department separate from (but embedded in) the Tech team  this past summer, so the friendly rivalry was running strong between us leading up to this.

After some discussion over what we might choose to do for our area, we chose to focus on fun and food. Part of this was obvious – cookies, Mexican hot cocoa, gift bags with more cookies and some wonderfully tasty homemade whipped cream.

the UX department all done up

But  this is a decorating contest, right? How do you incorporate food into holiday decor? Food themed snowflakes and cinnamon ornaments, of course.

another view of the UX department decor

a close up of a storage cabinet with snowflakes and ornaments

sign saying 'Merry Christmas'

The ornaments did cause a bit of confusion. You might think the beads would be enough to get that they weren’t cookies, but we decided to take the safe side of things.

cinnamon ornaments in star shapes

Caitlin made up a Christmas tree design for us while I turned a hand at snowflake cutting.

Christmas tree image

Our tree was a bit different than the ones found just across the cubicle in the Tech department. One of their was made of post-it notes (they chose a theme of office supplies).

Christmas tree made of post it notes

Their crowning glory, though ,was the Mountain Dew/ginger ale tree.

'tree' made of Mountian Dew cans with a 'binary' tree in the background

It was pretty amusing and very definitely a reflection of them.

We in UX could not just leave it at food and decor, though. We’re interactive people – the User Experience department. So Caitlin took it a step further with some Christmas trivia for the judges followed by a bit of Christmas Mad Libs.

Image of this text - Rudolph the gargantuan-nosed mamot had a very runny nose and if you ever wiped it, you would even say it flows. All of the other marmots used to belch and call him snot-nose. They never let silly Rudolph running in any incredible games.

A marmot, for those who may be unfamiliar, is a large rodent like a groundhog or squirrel. We have one for a mascot – Ce Marmot. New Business kidnapped him for the judging.

Ce Marmot, our stuffed animal marmot, in a Santa hat

We closed out our time with the judges with an impromptu rendition of ‘Rudolph the Gargantuan-Nosed Reindeer’ at the request of our president.

So, how did we fare?

We didn’t win the overall prize – that went to the Jedis over Customer Service (they did a lovely job) BUT we won ‘Most Fun’.

The devs? They got ‘Most Original’, which worked out well for all. Here are a couple of other photos from their area.

Christmas lights augmented with post-it notes

a sign saying 'Christmas: There's an app for that."

To my personal amusement, they also retained and decorated our gift to them back when we helped decorate their work area.

pink flowers with some green festiveness

The fun wasn’t limited to our side of the building, though. I personally enjoyed the Star Wars theme over at Marketing (which is otherwise known as the Dark Side). I’ve been admiring their stockings for several weeks. If you can’t read it – the skeleton is Uncle Owen.

Uncle Owen, Luke and Obi-Wan in stockings

Lord Santa even made an appearance.

Darth Vader Santa

There was also a smaller Vader feeling the Christmas spirit along with a slightly different star atop their tree.

Christmas Vader bobblehead

Christmas w/ Death Star & sign saying the world beyond i Hoth

Curiously, this morning it was pointed out to me that Rudolph was no longer a gargantuan-nosed marmot, but instead a… well, I’ll just write it out in it’s entirety.

“Rudolph the bloody-nosed Vampire Spork had a very evil nose and if you ever stubbed it, you would even say it invigorates.
All of the other penguins used to arm-wrestle and call him Edward. They never let deadly Rudolph feast in any violent games…”

The vampire spork was a dead giveaway of the culprit. If it hadn’t been then the addition of the penguin would have been more than enough.

@Firstcrusader didn’t even try to deny it when I mention it to her. I may just start calling her FirstcruVader after this pic, though.

Firstcrusader with the Vader helmet and a lightsaber

PS Our blogger also sent an excellent holiday greeting out to us this week. I hope you enjoy it.

holiday card

Wedding Bells & Skeletons

First comes love, then comes marriage, then come office shenanigans while you’re on your honeymoon…

full room view of this particular shenanigan

So, one of our managers (not mine, though we’ve been friends since before I started working with my current employer) recently got married and, of course, in his absence shenanigans ensued.

We initially were just going to do cheesy wedding decorations, which we fulfilled with dollar store wedding bells and doves.

folding paper bell garland

Bell garland wrapped around the phone handle

The great thing about shopping at the dollar store (aside from inexpensive shenanigans) is that you never know what you’ll find. The doves, for instance were not in our original discussions, but were a lovely addition.

wedding favor doves scattered across the computer keyboard

wedding favor doves scattered amidst stormtroopers

We couldn’t just leave it at that though. I mean, this is the guy who is the actual owner of the Zombie Survival Guide cards that live in Marketing, and Halloween isn’t far off. It started with a large skull tempting my partner in shenaniganizing, but we opted for the smaller bag or skulls due to their potential diversity.

plastic skull between two rhinos

The glittery spider was another addition, with added appeal in that Twilight’s sparkling glampires had been a topic of conversation that day. (We found out one of the guys in the office is totally Team Edward after I stumbled across the shirtless Jacob Barbie.)

glittery spider and the doves face off on the desktop

Then we saw the garland of skeletons. What better to complement wedding bells?

mixed garlands of skeletons & wedding bells

I actually bought this garland last year for a Scouting event and can say from personal experience that they don’t survive impact very well. These fellows should be pretty safe in their current position.

Of course, I think the best part was this morning, when this tweet appeared on my computer on the opposite side of the building:

twitter quote 'You put a skull in my coffee cup?"

Yes. Yes, we did.

Don’t Let the Zombies Get You Down

As with any office, there are several things that are recurring themes of jokes. Papyrus, of course, is one of those, but another is zombies. I’m not sure who started it. It predates my arrival at the office and they have been rather popular in pop culture of late, but they pop up on a fairly regular basis.

Well, last Friday we had a bit of an occurrence, perhaps better termed an outbreak or even an attack. We made it through mostly unscathed.

The majority of the office has been cleaned up so you’d never know such a  thing occurred, but I’m afraid that one co-worker’s desk got it bad. So much so we had to tape it off.

It was sheer coincidence that it was the one co-worker who has been on vacation these past two weeks. Really. It could definitely be worse. His mug did survive the onslaught.

He really worries about that mug, too. (I can’t imagine why…) There were still a few ankle-biter zombies being chased out.

But the reinforcements had been called in and were taking care of the issue.

At least he has now been notified of the situation so that he’s prepared for any future outbreaks.

Along with one other co-worker. Strangely enough, it is the one who owns the Zombie Survival Guide cards.

One good thing did come out of all of this though – some nice brain Tiramisu style :)

Pretty in Pink

Three weeks later...

As some of you may have caught reading previous posts, we at our office have a fondness for pranks. Several of them have been posted to this blog in the past including one entry entitled ‘6 Steps to Awesome Office Decor’ which details how we decorated the developers side of the cubicle in response to a typographical prank they pulled on our content editor. The devs were all on vacation at the time and we expected that they would probably remove the decor, especially since we chose such a girly color.

This has not been the case.

In fact, three weeks have passed since the prank was initially pulled and the majority of the room is just as we decorated it for them. They’ve even cleaned the white board underneath the beads without taking it down. Not only that, but I felt the need to share with you the care they have taken with putting away the things that they have removed from their desks. Lest you disbelieve me, I have taken pictures to back me up.

Apparently they were collecting dust. Note the careful stacking that was done to place them inside the votive holder.

The rest of the petals I found on our storage shelf along with the neatly lined up votive holders. The stray bouquet was originally placed in the paper towel roll and only this week ended up on the storage unit when the white board was cleaned. The names tags (unpictured) have all found home near their work areas, though no longer on their chairs.

In the meantime, the Papyrus pranking continues. I am sure that this is just one chapter in a story that is not yet complete.

6 Steps to Awesome Office Decor

1) Find something that inspires you.

In the example I’ll be using the inspiration came from a little prank performed by the developers which involved turning the alpha of our new website entirely into Papyrus font from Helvetica. They were being very naive if they didn’t expect retribution.

2) Working off of your inspiration, select a specific thematic element you wish to focus on.

In this case we chose flowers. After all, as their note said, by expression their deep affection for Papyrus they were already half way to being 5 year old girls. We just thought we’d help them in this endeavor.

3) Shop around a bit to find the best price on your decor.

In a great moment of serendipity, we discovered that another co-worker was having a yard sale the day we were shopping for our cubicle face lift which included some gorgeous hot pink flowers from their wedding. Not only did they have the flower bundles, but they also had rose petals, bead strands and tealight holders to match. It was glorious.

4) Check your calendar for the best, least disruptive time to institute your decor changes.

It just so happened that entire development team was on vacation for two consecutive days leaving their side of the cubicle completely open to our decorating choices. They may never do such a thing again.

5) Decorate, tweaking to get the absolute best effect.

We chose a Friday, post 5 pm to enact our choices. Strangely, there were a number of folks still in the office at that time, but they were all supportive of the updated decor. We also found that the bouquets of flowers had lovely yellow ribbon on them that we were able to re-purpose in our efforts. Here are some images of the finished product:

An overall look at the finished product

It just makes the picture, doesn't it?

Need a vase, try a paper towel roll (they won't even realize what it is).

Each dev got their own name tag - in Papyrus

See the lovely bead draping

6) Wow your friends and colleagues.

Being the non-morning person that I am, I missed the first two gents initial reactions, but the third was quite entertaining as he came to a complete stop upon entering. Interestingly, he noticed the name tags before even realizing that the profusion of hot pink. They did admit, at least in hushed whispers to each other, that they had been owned.

Two days later

As for the decor, if has stood the test thus far remaining up for the past four days. We are not entirely certain if they don’t mind the pink or are just unwilling to spend the energy required to remove it all. Time will tell.

The Great Penguin Obliteration

I would say that Lisa and I shouldn’t be left alone on Fridays to plot, but things like the coffee cup shenanigans and today’s penguin obliteration have both come with encouragement from other co-workers who are present at the time. So, up until today if you had walked through the development side of our building on just about every whiteboard you might have noticed a small caped penguin. I am told he is Tux the Linux penguin and that he is waging a war against the marmots. Marmot’s for those of you who may not be familiar with them, are a type of rodent and include animals such as squirrels and groundhogs. Our company mascot is Ce Marmot and we even celebrate Marmot Day.

The Penguins vs. Marmots battle predates my time here, but there seems to be some intensity to it. Today the battle increased in depth with the introduction of the caped vampire spork.

The War Room Vampire Spork

I inquired if he had a name and this is the response I got:

From @firstcrusader

@AlainaRachelle The spork is a creature of such awesome power that one ought never say its name aloud. You know, like Voldemort.

During lunch today he began to wage a war against the penguin population.

There was once a penguin here

He takes his cape off to avoid the mess

At first the penguin’s master seemed not to have noticed but then these began to show up. Apparently the penguins are kicking up their defenses.

Why is he looking for the rum? Hmmm...

One even showed up in Marketing, where Lisa lives.

Doesn't he look stern?

But this is far from over. The Spork still keeps watch over the War Room and has even sent an emissary to keep watch over marketing as well, cleverly disguised as a part of the newsletter template.

Emissary of the Spork

Today is almost over, but the great Spork vs. Penguin war has only just begun…

Coffee Cup Shenanigans

Yesterday was in many ways the epitome of a Friday.As such, it really should be no surprise that mischief worked it’s way into our work flow.

It started fairly innocently. Lisa (@firstcrusader) had traversed the building to join me for lunch in the communal cubicle my development team refers to as the ‘war room’.  We were discussing how it was so odd not having my manager around the last few days and the various semi-plottings that had been discussed if he didn’t return soon.

Ambitious as one can be on a Friday, we chose not to move his entire desk, but instead took the most important component in the absence of his macbook – his coffee cup. We even got executive approval from our VP. I know there are many, many jokes and cartoons about software developers and their caffeine needs. We fulfill the majority of them without shame. Anyway, on to the caper as it unfolded…

Subject: Oh No!

Over lunch today Lisa and I made a discovery we felt we should appraise you of. Your mug appears to have been kidnapped in your absence. Since you’re not in we’re going to investigate and will keep you appraised of the situation.


Oh No!

Subject: The Ransom Note

It’s confirmed. We’ve found an image of the mug with a ransom note.

The Ransom Note

Subject: On the Trail

We started in the obvious place to hide a coffee cup and just missed the perpetrator, but he left an image behind.
On the Trail

Subject: Silence of the Ducks

Heading around the corner it appears the kidnapper stopped in new biz, but the duck’s bills were sealed.
Silence of the Ducks

Subject: The Dark Side

Have we found the kidnapper?!? Darth Tater was obviously in on the scheme, but could not give us any further leads on the mug’s location.
The Dark Side

Subject: A Rescue Attempt

It appears that Trevor stumbled upon your mug, but the perpetrator got away before he realized that a crime was in progress.
A Rescue Attempt

Subject: An Empty Line

Heading back to the other side of the building in search of clues, we noticed a coaster on the table with this underneath it.
An Empty Line

Subject: Snack Attack

Perhaps Ron saw something while he was working on the vending machines?
Snack Attack

Subject: Sweet Disguise

Since we weren’t having any luck on the east side of the building we headed into the warehouse and found this.
Sweet Disguise

Subject: A Strange New Place

Cherubs? What?!? We didn’t know either.

A Strange New Place

Subject: Filing a Report

We were going to report this theft to Thor, but he was at lunch. While in scoring we found the kidnapper had been there as well.
Filing a Report

Subject: Lobbying

It’s too bad Jackie C. in on vacation. She may have caught the kidnapper otherwise.

Subject: Another Kidnapping?!?!?

When we stopped to ask Donald if he’d seen anything we found evidence of another kidnapping! Being so involved in our investigation we turned it over to Donald, but perhaps the two incidents are tied together…
Another Kidnapping ?!?!?

Subject: A Clue!

Could this be a clue to the kidnapper’s identity?
A Clue!

Subject: A Little Relaxation

Due to good behavior it appears they allowed the mug to bask in the afternoon humidity.
A Little Relaxation

Subject: Foiled!

There was an escape attempt but it couldn’t reach the pedals.


Subject: Camouflage

It tried to hide but…

Subject: Intimidation

In order to keep it in line they’ve moved on to intimidation efforts

Subject: Hiding the Evidence

It appears they tried to get rid of the evidence, but when we looked closer it was just another picture (and a blurry one at that).
Hiding the Evidence

Subject: Captured!

We finally caught them! It turns out these people weren’t just mug thieves, they were identity thieves as well! How dare they impersonate us, the good detectives!

Subject: Back at Work

Back safely in it’s home environment.
Back at Work

Subject: Have a Great Weekend!

We hope you’ve enjoyed this little trip. We miss you, so have a great weekend and feel better soon!

And we hope that you have enjoyed the Coffee Cup Caper as well! Have a great day :)