Princess Pricklepants and the Dinosaur Denouement


Previously: Princess Pricklepants, Startup Founder Extraordinaire

Dear reader,

We have a few points of note to present before beginning our tale that can’t be skipped for reasons involving word count.

First, we finally read Quentin’s email.  It was a link to a funny cat video.  Thank you Quentin.

Second, we got slightly better lighting set up, so the photos should be slightly better.

As a second try at a better second point, in an effort to be more dramatically friendly in case someone finds this out of context (not that context really helps much), and since we seem to have recurrent characters now, we’re including our dramatis personae:

Princess Pricklepants:  Princess Penelope Pricklepants, Grand Duchess of Tiggy-Winkle, Defender of Hufflepuff, Empress of Quillonia, and Dominions beyond the Seas.  Also, blogger, farmer, space traveler, occasional pirate, and hedgehog of mystery.

Jane the Cow: Accountant, Chief Financial Officer of Telstar Etiquettronics, their startup.

Christine the Cow: Cow safety officer.

Boris: Bear, Canadian, Masters in Comparative Mythology from University of Toronto.

Dinosaurs: Venture Capitalists at Yoyodynamic Capital.

Crocodiles: Former farm animals, now crocodiles, or maybe alligators.

Bessie: Generic Cow

That was pretty long so we’d better get to our first picture with words under it:

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Princess Penelope Pricklepants was distraught.  Someone had left her copy of Haley’s 2007 Compete Guide to Etiquette on the floor.  She’d been looking for this to reply to an automated etiquette request message for her new startup, Telstar Ettiquettronics.

Suddenly her computer made the bleepy sound indicating a Skype call was coming in.

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It was Jane, the CFO.

“So Princess, have you seen the news on TechCrunch?”  Now that they worked in tech., they started sentences with “so” to sound authentic. “The dinosaurs at Yoyodynamic Capital have taken over the board of Telstar Ettiquettronics.  They’ve installed a Tyrannosaurus as the new CEO, put a Deionychus in as the CFO, and rest of the board are Pterodactyls, or maybe Pteronadons. Hard to really tell. Some kind of Pterosaur. It’s tricky to get their taxonomies down, I think one isn’t a proper taxonomical category, maybe we should check wikipedia…  So the point is that we’ve lost control of the company.  Also, we’re almost out of money.”

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Princess Pricklepants was not in her best mood.  She’d only gotten 15 hours of sleep the night before.  Someone had left her etiquette guide on the floor.  And now this. (Since they’d started working in tech., they had also been practicing starting sentences with conjunctions.)  Her company that she’d worked for days to build was now stolen by dinosaur venture capitalists.

She called a council of the bear and cows.

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Boris had a degree in comparative mythology which seemed to Princess to be fairly close to a law degree. “Boris, what can we do to get our company…”

She was interrupted by a politeness advice request text. “I have a lovely 17-year-old step-daughter. Recently she’s developed a lot of anger issues and has loud, tantrum-like outbursts where she curses out her dad and says very hurtful things to him. What can I do to bring her in line?  – Frustrated Mom”

She began to type a response, “Dear Frustrating Mom, To get your daughter in line, take her to Disneyland, there are many, many lines there. Alternately you could…”

Jane interrupted, “Princess, this is not the time to be answering texts, we’re having a meeting.”

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Christine, the cow safety officer made a proposal, “So I suggest we ban all electronic distractions from meetings. And we should follow Robert’s Rules of Order, really.”

Boris stepped forth, “I wish I had my phone, sorry. I need to look up dramatic tropes during these things to stay in character. But to the point, I move that Christine never ask about Robert’s Rules of Order again. All those in favor?”

The ayes were over the nos.

Boris continued, “According to my friends on bearlawyercentral.com the contract is air tight, and we have no recourse. We are ruined. Sorry about that, eh.”

Princess got a text: “My husband and I are having a disagreement. He knows that our dog, trufflefluff, likes coffee, but he uses artificial sweeteners. I am sure these are dangerous for dogs. How do I tell him to only give our dog real sugar?  – Sweet Mom”

Princess started typing, “Dear Sugar Mama, while this is a common problem, this is not a…”  Boris put his paw over her phone.

“Sorry to interrupt, Princess, but by responding you are helping out the dinosaurs who have stolen our company.”

“But, it’s impolite not to respond to text messages…”

“Fine, we will let the Universe decide.” He took the phone and threw it in the crocodile pond. “The Universe clearly does not want you to respond any longer.”

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Christine, the cow safety officer, said, “Boris, that phone’s batteries contain risky materials that can leach into the pond posing a risk to the crocodiles (or are they alligators?).  Also, how is you throwing the phone in a pond the Universe deciding?”

“Am I not part of the Universe?”

And so it was that our heroes were sad, especially Princess, who didn’t have a phone, but wanted to check what the hedgehogs on hedgehogentrepeneurcentral.com might advise, and also to see if there were any new hedgehog videos on Youtube, and also to look up crocodiles and alligators on wikipedia to sort out something she’d been puzzling over.

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Boris said, “I feel we must dwell on this disconcerting news for a while to make the middle of the story longer. This will add dramatic tension and improve our narrative. Still there is not much character development either, not sure what we should do ’bout that, though, eh.”

Bessie, the generic cow, said, “Boris, I believe we’ve explained this before. You are not a fictional character.”

“No, sorry, but seriously, listen. I am a Canadian bear who went to the University of Toronto and got a Masters in Comparative Mythology. Somehow I seem to also be Russian sometimes. I can’t explain it, but I wound up working on a farm, but then the hedgehog princess left in her spaceship and we had a war with a cat, and so now I’m at a startup that was taken over by dinosaur venture capitalists. I can’t remember anything but that, the rest is void. There are no humans in our world, just a hedgehog, some crocodiles, some cows, and the occasional robot, baboon, cat, and other animals, but we do human-like things. How does that make any sense? I must be fictional. And these stories I am in, they drive me up a tree – no character development, no proper beginnings, middles or ends, terrible narrative structure, ridiculous diction.”

“Have you been reading Kafka again? Besides if you were actually fictional, you’d see character development, and all that other whatever it was you said.”

“I fear it is worse. Not only am I fictional, but I am a fiction of a truly terrible author.”

Jane said, “You are no more fictional than I am, and no fictional cow would choose to be an accountant. By the way, we’re doomed. Just got the text – the dinosaurs fired all of us.”

Princess felt sad, and went to her quiet place to go play with some old toys that the family had passed down through the centuries. Jane followed her.

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“Princess, what’s that you’re playing with?”

“Oh, old play money. It’s just made of old gold and silver, not like real nickel, zinc, or copper coins, or that really pretty paper. Still, it’s nice to play with sometimes.”

Jane investigated, “Where did you get this?”

“Oh, it’s been in the family for generations. Apparently it used to be real money a long time ago, but now it’s so old you can’t buy things with it. I tried using some at a store once and the clerk said it wasn’t real money.”

Jane put her numismatic skills to work and determined that the coins were mostly English Guineas from the late 1600s, along with assorted Louis the fourteenth Double Louis d’or, and other gold currency. According to Jane’s careful estimate they were worth a ludicrous amount of money. She began a spreadsheet.

Within a short while they’d managed to get enough rare gold coins sold at auction at Christie’s for enough money that they could skip plots involving hedgehog careers for a long time.

Finally, Princess could pursue her true passion, living life as independently wealthy hedgehog royalty.

In our next episode, will we begin the Chronicles of Princess Pricklepants?  Will we finally get to Princess Pricklepants and the Live Action Role Playing Game?  Will we just ramble?  Tune in eventually when we finally get to publishing the next episode.

Next: Princess Pricklepants and the Perils of Pirate Plunder: Part I – The Great Beginning

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Princess Pricklepants, Startup Founder Extraordinaire


Previously: Princess Pricklepants, Entrepreneur

Dear reader, for our preamble we’d like to say a number of fascinating, witty, clever, and delightful things, but we can’t think of any.  Sorry.

A reader contacted us indirectly with a really brilliant idea that we can’t tell you about.  Also, sorry.

Quentin emailed in to say something, but we haven’t read that email yet.  We’ll do that really soon, though.

Our awesome and brilliant reader Mike sent in this superb graphic, which you should all admire, and which we plan to develop into a theme once Princess runs for President, which now must happen.

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On a separate note, we found someone reached our blog via a search for “when adventure trip on a ship. how can we do good manner.”  Cool!

And so, we begin our story with a picture with some words under it.

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Princess Pricklepants gathered the council of cows et al. to pitch her latest idea in the living room.  Startups were supposed to be in garages, but she didn’t have a garage, so the living room would have to do.  “Princess Pricklepants-pedia – an online encyclopedia of all things related to me.”  Jane, the cow accountant and general downer, explained that this sounded like a really fun idea, but had the problem that there was no way to possibly ever make money.

“Well, what about a blog?”

“You’ve got a blog, and so far you’ve lost money.  Your blog is free so you don’t even get anything from the ads other people see.  It’s just a vanity project.”

“Mugs and Tee-shirts?”

“No”

Princess turned to google “polite web startup ideas,” but the first result was an article titled, “Polite, Purposeful People Create Startups That Fail.”  Clearly google was confused.

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Christine, the cow safety officer, had a warning, “Since we’re starting a business we should use Robert’s Rules of Order and keep minutes so that we have accountability.”

Boris made a motion, “I propose that we never ever use Robert’s Rules of Order.  All those in favor?”

The ayes had it.

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Boris stepped forth with a daring plan, “We start a comparative mythology as a service company.  We create a platform for employees on their mythic and heroic quests.”

This was not well accepted.

Princess pitched another idea, “MaPaaS, Manners and Politeness as a Service, we architect a dynamic cloud platform for delivering the infrastructure of manners, refinement, sophistication, and politeness to the enterprise.  We’ll target mobile advice.  Also, synergy.”

Nobody could think of an objection, or if they had one they couldn’t find a polite way to say it (since the software didn’t exist yet), so they started their plan.

Their plan had three parts.

1) Develop dynamic MaPaaS cloud platform.

2) …

3) Profit.

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Boris said, “Oh, we also need to name the business, this is an important part of the heroic  journey.”

Jane suggested, “Politetronic Logistics”

“No”

“Manner Cloud”

“No”

“Telstar Etiquettronics”

“Yes!”

They googled it to make sure nobody had already taken the name.  Clear.  They still needed to register telstaretiquettronics.com, but would get to that soon.

Boris said, “Princess, there’s an important point I think I need to make.  If we look at this situation in terms of a literary structure, there’s no antagonist, nor are we following a traditional comic form of three separate minor conflicts that intertwine until they are resolved in a denouement.”

Princess explained, “Boris, we aren’t in some fictional universe, we’re real hedgehogs and cows and bears doing work things.  Real life isn’t like fiction, there aren’t usually antagonists or neat little situations that get wrapped up nicely.  It’s just you and your friends and family and coworkers doing your things as best you can, and trying to not waste all your time watching amazing hedgehog videos on YouTube or reading wikipedia articles when you should be getting important things done.”

She then checked wikipedia to make sure this was correct and wound up reading about grizzly bears for a while, then salmon, then the Yukon river.  Then she watched an amazing hedgehog video.  Then she visited boingboing.net.

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Eventually they got to working on part 1 of their plan.

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Part 1 was the fun and annoying part, since it meant they’d need to make a program.  They turned to Bessie, the generic cow, who was also a robotics programmer.  “Bessie, can you write the software tonight?”

“Um, well, you see, I, uh, write C for embedded systems, and for web things it’s all completely different.  We need to hire someone or learn these things.”

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Princess hit the books.  It was so boring, though.  All those letters and words that didn’t quite mean the right thing, and the jargon, that odd almost, but not quite English jargon.  Even with a montage this would be unbearable.  So they decided to find a programmer.

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While Mufiki, King of the Planet of the Baboons, might not have seemed like an immediately obvious choice, he had previous experience as a software engineer for a web company in the dot com days.  He was interested and would take low pay in exchange for equity.  Soon he had something running.  We’ll spare you the boring details of a code monkey.  He also wrote a module to measure how polite or impolite something was that was named polite-o-tron2000 that applied machine learning with vectorized Bayesean analysis on natural language processing, text analysis, and computational linguistics on the works of Emily Post on a Hadoop cluster (this obviously was a Big Data problem) to assign a score from 1 to 10, where 1 is something we couldn’t possibly say, and 10 is something really, really polite and appropriate.  Sorry, had to throw in boring details.

The software would send text messages to Princess’s iPhone where she would respond with helpful advice.  They ran their first test, sending an etiquette request:

“when adventure trip on a ship. how can we do good manner.”

Princess texted her reply, “When taking an adventure trip on a ship, always be sure to share treasure maps with any cows that want to go on the adventure with you.”  It went through the internet tubes and showed up in their software thing where it was supposed to.  polite-o-tron2000 ranked it a 10.  They were cooking with gas!

Many other things happened, but they were dull business things that nobody in their right mind would ever want to read about, let alone suffer through in real life, so we’ll skip to the interesting part – getting funding from venture capitalists.

They showed up at Yoyodynamic Capital to pitch their business. They did a great presentation on how Telstar Ettiquettronics was the premiere MaPaaS business in the industry, with exponential potential for growth, and presented their highly relevant buzzword catch-phrase – immersive big data and well-mannered disruption of advice columns through the mobile cloud, and also social media.  Negotiations were tense, but they were ultimately funded with a lot of money to start a business in ways that were complicated to explain, but which Jane, the cow chief financial officer thought were workable.

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Yoyodynamic Capital even forgave Princess for climbing on the table.

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Thus they were probable tech millionaires.  Maybe.  All they had to do was make an actual company with customers, a long term manageable strategy, and a way to make a profit – easy.

Next episode: Will they buy a foosball table, fancy espresso machines, and nerf guns with their startup capital?  Will the Yoyodynamic dinosaurs betray the company?  Will the platform do the right platform-related things?  Will Princess become a tech millionaire?  Will this whole episode be explained away a few sentences in the next preamble?  Will they ever get a decent lighting setup so the color temperature and shadows aren’t all over the map?  These questions and others may or may not be answered in our next installment:

Princess Pricklepants and the Dinosaur Denouement