I loathe January in general, and I'm loathing this one even more.
On good days, I find working for V. entertaining, interesting even, and on bad days I pine for the bank, the long boozy lunches, the perks and the rest.
V. is is a self-professed witch who needs IT support and services, to support her online business, and expects me to believe, pretend to believe or try to believe in the world beyond the veil.
I find most this stuff either impossible or unlikely in the extreme, but can normally ignore it.
Today I was asked "what are the ten best ways to test whether someone has psychic ability?"
This is related to my first attempt on adding a page to one of her websites testing psychic ability. The one you see there is a less sophisticated version, but the basic idea is the same.
There is a lot of money to be made through psychic readings of various hues, whether that be through using the Tarot, crystal ball, or palmestry.
The industry, and that is what it is, is composed of numerous charlatans (I know I have met some), unbelievers (I don't charge anyone and just do the IT) and other psychics who either are or genuinely believe that they are psychic.
V. believes that she has psychic and other abilities. I'm not convinced, although she is scarily good at reading my mind (in the expressive rather than literal sense).
V. also wants to expand the online psychic business as quickly and painlessly as possible, which means that some muppet has to do the grunt work while she swans off to various coven events.
The grunt work in this case is recruiting psychics for the various internet related chat lines that we have on our servers. In other words, I need to look for people who in my opinion don't exist. The bank was more straight-forward, though perhaps less honest ...
V also considers herself to be my mentor, which means lectures and at times
"You know", mused V. "this work couldn't be done by any old muppet. It's such a good thing that you left the bank".
Me leaving the bank, is a euphemism for being violently shoved due to no fault of my own, a I almost missed the word muppet. Another
"Muppet," I repeated.
V. looked at me guilelessly.
"... who left the bank."
"OK, we could ask them to read our minds? That would prove ..."
"... nothing as a true psychic is using their gifts to read possible futures and possibilities. Secondly, it would take too long." V helpfully finished for me.
I sensed a long lecture about coming on, and wished that I'd made a fresh coffee to keep me alert and grounded.
I'm not going to bore you with the details, suffice to say, that V. suggested around a dozen methods of deciding whether someone is psychic, or just as important for our purposes has some latent psychic ability.
None of this really helped me with my current task, which is to try measure something that doesn't exist.
As I mused on the futility of the task in hand, and life in general, I noticed that V. was looking at me expectantly.
"Well. How can we test psychic abilities? What do you think of my ideas?"
The crux of being a good programmer is being able to break tasks into smaller and manageable pieces. A common example given is how to make a cup of tea.
A non programmer might start with: boil kettle, pour into a cup with milk and teabag. By the way, the milk should always be added after. I learnt that from a picky client in the bank, who rejected the first cup of tea I made because of this. I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.
A programmer would start with: walk over to kettle, open kettle, check water level ...
But I digress.
"Empathy and intuition?" I guessed at random.
V. beamed at me as if I was a stupid child who had managed to count a number of beans correctly.
"Well done. Now tell me how and why these are good psychic indicators?".
"Um because we can measure them ..." I stopped unsure of my ground.
"OK. How can we measure empathy and intuition?"
"Maybe we could use colours and pictures of cute puppies, kittens and children?"
"People who like pink, puppies, kittens and small children are more likely to be empathetic, and will bond with the punters" I continued and then stopped as V. wondered aloud whether "My C.V. was current."
"JOKE. I was joking. Kittens. Pah".
Luckily the bank had been big on personal development, and I'd been interested in psychology at the time, thinking it would help me at some poing. It seemed that point was now, so I suggested:
"We could use a variant of the Empathy quotient test to measure empathy ..."
The empathy quotient test is full of questions like, "Do you get on with other people?", in other words it isn't very subtle, but it would be easy to use a variation of this to discover whether our potential psychics were at the very least able to relate to the clients.
Obviously, I didn't say the relating to the clients bit to V., as she is looking for genuine psychics with genuine abilities, whereas I'm thinking that we should be able to employ people who look and act the part.
Never trust anyone, or anything that you read on the internet. I don't want to sound cynical, but that is just the way it is.
I mean what makes you think that your psychic is genuine?
"I think colours are important as well, and maybe things relating to us that only a genuine psychic would know."
The problem with testing psychic ability is that if you make the tests to hard no-one manages to pass. My first method for discovering latent psychic ability suffered from this problem. The more questions that you answer the less likely you are to have psychic powers.
This suggestion received the thumbs up from Vivienne and left to my own devices, I went to lunch.
I'm back home now - in case you wondered - all on my lonesome.
I couldn't sleep so I'm writing this instead watching the others playing at the end of the garden by the traintrack. It's pitch black and late. They don't know I can see them.
My life has taken a strange turn and these invisible webpages keep me grounded. I know a normal blog would be more usual, but as a geek I didn't' want to add another generic wordpress site.
So, dear diary, over the coming days, it looks like I will include a second method of testing psychic abilities on our oh so spooky servers.
I hope it is more successful than attempt numero uno.