Sunday, December 04, 2005

Now let's get speleo serious: A How-to Guide for Instant Success in SpeleoPolitics

Speleo-politician wanna be: If you're reading this, then you are the lucky one. You are about to learn the secrets of how to become the big fish in a small pond. By using the guidelines below, you will learn how to completely dominate the politics of your local spelean turf, maybe even the national spelean turf.

But you have competition, of course. You're worried about that other guy who is also running for president of the local Grotto, aren't you? This is the one who is running for president of *your* Grotto. Yes, you know the one, he made that map last year that won a blue ribbon award at that U.S. national speleo club's yearly get together, didn't he? Yep, that guy. But don't worry, his penis isn't as long as you fear it is. And you can count on it that he isn't reading these special secrets, which means you'll have the upper hand when comes time to make your move.

OK, here's what you gotta do. In six bold steps, you will assume control of your local spelean community and your new underlings will serve only you.

Step 1: Go to the local grotto meeting and talk a lot about yourself. How else will anyone know how great you are? Tell the grotto members how many caves you've been in and how many projects you've managed. If necessary, use some embellishment to market yourself. Modern-day advertising firms (on TV and radio) lie all the time about the products they're promoting, so you won't be doing anything they're not already doing.

When you're talking about your exploits (made up or real), be sure to mention that you have been to the back (end, bottom, top, etc.) of [_____] Cave (insert name as appropriate) and also say how many times you've been there (the more the better). Also mention that no one else has been further than you in these caves. But be forewarned: it is inevitable that the pain-in-the-ass, know-it-all grotto member who is always crawling around in those damn caves will say that you actually left [_____] Cave early and that he went further than you. So when that happens, just say, loudly and matter-of-factly, that he must be mistaken and it just took him a long time to get out of the cave because he's a slow caver. Then quickly change the conversation to something else much more important, like you, for instance.

Step 2: Volunteer for cave projects, but only the ones that involve *data management*. Its much easier to look cool if you have lots of speleo data. However, never, never collect your own. It might be wrong and that would make you look bad. If you're managing others' data, then you look good when that data is good, but if its bad data, you still look good because you were the one who found out it was bad, which means you're an expert who can detect bad data in others' results. Along those lines, find lots of bad data.

Step 3: Go to the "after meeting" meeting. This is usually at the bar(s) that are within walking distance of the grotto meeting. Be sure to arrive a few minutes after you're supposed to be there. This is called being "fashionably late." Also, everyone who is there already, will get to see you make your entrance. Paste a big toothy smile on your face and make sure everyone sees it. When you get to the tables and booths where the grotto members are, sit down right next to your competion. This will be hard to do because when you get near them you'll really want to clench your jaw as you begin to have doubts about whether your penis is really longer than his. But just keep that smile pasted on (you may have to practice in front of the mirror before you go) and act like you've got the longest dick on planet Earth, which you do.

After you sit down, pull out some pictures that you recently printed off the web. This will attract the attention of everyone sitting around. Make sure you have enough pictures to keep everyone's attention on you. Then when you've passed out three or four pictures, pull out the cave data originally collected by your competition and that you've just edited (feign surprise that these data were in the picture envelope) and say, "Oh, I didn't know that was in there." Then turn to your competitor, who by this time is extremely uncomfortable by your presence (giving you the upper hand) and say, "Hey, you collected this data, didn't you? Well it isn't correct. You didn't know that there was a high concentration of iron in the layers above this limestone which has dissolved and trickled down into the cave, did you? Well, it is very obvious that this is the case and the azimuths you've reported in this data are completely off. Fortunately, I know this and we'll just need to get some volunteers to resurvey this cave." When your competitor protests (he will), just say, "That's OK, you didn't know, you were just ignorant of the facts." This last line will doom your competitor's hopes of ever holding office in the grotto and will place you squarely in line to be elected as the next "big fish in a small pond."

Step 4: Identify your allies and recruit them to your side. This, in fact, can be restated as, "Volunteer volunteers." The way to do this is to talk up someone's abilities, real or not, and say, from your observation and your experience that they're the best candidate to do that work. But be sure to volunteer people who are on your side. Never volunteer your competitor's people, if he even has any, which is unlikely because you're cool and he's a boob.

Step 5: As a rule, arrive at grotto meetings and after-meeting meetings so you are fashionably late (10 to 15 minutes). However, every third or fourth time, be very, very late and come in like you are in hurry. Carry with you some long rolled-up pieces of paper and some survey books that you just dropped into the mud puddle outside of the building where the grotto meeting is. If possible, place a survey book under the wheel of car and drive back-and-forth over it a few times before you go in. This will make the book look like it, and by association you, have been caving.

And that brings us to the last one. This is one of the most important ones and something that you're already good at. Step 6: Don't go caving. Caving is dirty, wet, cold, muddy, and it takes time away from plotting, scheming, and planning what you're going to say at the next grotto meeting to make yourself look good.

So there you have it. Six easy steps for becoming the dominant figure in your local speleo community. Stay tuned for future expressions of caving insight which will infinitely embolden your speleo abilities and improve you as the person you are.

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