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Movies

Journal: Go see a movie...

Journal by Fortunato_NC

Go see Little Miss Sunshine. Just do it. I did, and now I'm giggling madly because I heard a little bit of "Super Freak". Damn iTunes shuffle feature.

Education

Journal: Fuqua CCMBA - Term 2 Residency, Day 2

Journal by Fortunato_NC

Today was our first day of classes in both Decision Models and Managerial Economics. This is the term I've looked forward to since first reading the program's curriculum.

We started the day with Managerial Economics. This class is going to be all about game theory, and there will be some higher level math used. This has me slightly worried, since I skipped the optional math class and it's been a long time since Calculus in high school, but hopefully it won't take me long to knock the rust off. Our prof is a nice guy, with a good, if slightly ham-fisted, sense of humor.

Decision Models was my favorite class in undergrad, so I'm hoping this will be as much fun as it was at UW - my wife speaks really highly of the professor here, and his first class did not disappoint. To illustrate expected value and the value of perfect information, we played betting games, which I've done in class before, but this time, the money was real. That made the exercise a lot more interesting.

After class, someone organized a trip to P.F. Chang's, which is where 30 or so of us went for dinner. After dinner, drinks and poker at Danny's Den. Then, to the room, update the ol' slashdot journal, and goodnight!

We'll do it all over again tomorrow.

Education

Journal: Fuqua CCMBA - Closing Thoughts on Term 1, Term 2 Pre-Reading

Journal by Fortunato_NC

Towards the end of last week, our grades finally trickled in, and despite a disappointing performance on my last managerial effectiveness assignment, I still eked out the pair of "SP" grades I was hoping for. So, for the next term, at least, I'll be able to say that I'm carrying a 4.0 average at Duke.

The end of the term also means the beginning of a new term, which means new textbooks and pre-reading. This term, we're tackling Microeconomics and Decision Models, both of which were among my favorite subjects in undergrad. I actually took UW's Microeconomics class for MBA students as an undergrad, so I'm pretty familiar with game theory. I don't expect this to be just a simple review, however, and the pre-reading seems to indicate that we'll be digging a lot deeper in this class than we did at UW. Decision Models, however, looks to cover mostly the same gound as UW's undergrad decision sciences courses.

In addition to coursework, there will be some interesting side activities at our upcoming residency. We're going to attend two Duke football games and do some tailgating. I'm pretty excited about that, even though Duke's football team is pretty bad, and is playing two of the ACC's upper tier teams in Georgia Tech and Florida State. We're also holding an informal meeting of our entrepreneurs board, during which we'll discuss a classmate's business idea, and how early-stage ventures attract customers. I've been tapped to lead the discussion, and hope that it leads to future meetings, and hopefully some future business success!

At the end of the weekend is Fest-of-F's, a "spouses weekend" event where the families of our class join us in attending a football game, downing a few beers, and generally enhancing the sense of community around the program. My wife will be coming up for this, and it should be interesting to see her in the spouse role, when she was the student last year!

Speaking of the wife, she is about to wrap up Term 6 in her program - only 2 terms left! Pretty soon, she'll be making the transition to her post-MBA career, and we'll see how this $85,000 investment pays off. When all is said and done, we'll have $100K+ of student loans in the family, and will be making roughly an extra mortgage payment per month, so we need to see a serious return on this investment.

User Journal

Journal: Fuqua CCMBA - Thoughts at the End of Term 1 2

Journal by Fortunato_NC
Barring any major collapse on my last two assignments, as of yesterday, I'm officially 1/8th of the way to an MBA from Duke University. We wrapped up Managerial Effectiveness with an individual paper and presentation, and capped Financial Accounting with a six-hour exam. As a natural procrastinator, this meant I had a very busy weekend. Still, I think I did well, and hope to earn a pair of SP grades this term. SP is Fuqua's rough equivalent of an A grade.

For those interested, Fuqua's grading scheme breaks down like this. "SP" stands for Superior Pass and is a 4.0 GPA. "HP" stands for "High Pass" and earns a 3.5 GPA. "P" is "Pass", 3.0 GPA. Any of these grades are acceptable. In fact, some people in the program have a saying: 16P = MBA. Below P, however, is where you can get yourself into trouble. To remain in the program, you have to maintain a 3.0 GPA or better."LP" stands for "Low Pass" and is a 2.5 GPA. "F" is "Fail", and represents a 0.0 GPA. Get one "F", and you are "held back" a year to repeat the course with the next cohort. Get two "F" grades, and you flunk out. Hopefully, it doesn't come to that for anyone in my group.

Some random observations on CCMBA after one term:

  • This is less work than I thought. At least, it was in the first term. I'm not saying I'm not working hard, but I am spending considerably less time than I expected working on assignments. All said, I'm averaging 5-10 hours per week, while I was expecting 15-20 hours worth of work. I would imagine that having just recently finished an undergraduate degree in business gives me a level of familiarity with the material that helps a lot.
  • Centra is a great way to conduct classes If you're not familiar with Centra, it's a lot like WebEx, just customized to the classroom environment. Professors can lecture, while students virtually "raise their hands" and contribute to the class discussion. It's a lot more orderly than a conference bridge, and the added advantage is that the classroom sessions are recorded for later playback. Unfortunately, there is no Macintosh client. It works surprisingly well under Virtual PC, however.
  • There are two kinds of people in an Executive MBA program. By this, I mean that there are clear differences between people who choose to attend business school in the Executive MBA format. Some people are in the Executive MBA because they love their jobs, have a great career path ahead of them with their current employer, and just need an MBA to help them along the ladder. Then there are the people who probably should have signed up for a full-time program, but for one reason or another felt that they couldn't give up their full-time job for two years, even though they plan to change careers at the end of the program. The first category of folks (which I fall into) finds endless frustration with the second category, because they are exasperatingly single-minded. All discussions with program administration invariably turn to career services, and the discussions about career services invariably turn into arguments between the administration staff and the would-be career changers, who just don't understand why they're not entitled to the exact same career services as daytime students, regardless of the fact that the program's career services are clearly laid out before applying. Some of my best friends in the program are those looking to change careers, but every once in a while, I want to shake them violently and ask why they just didn't go to a full time program.
  • It's amazing how social people can be at a distance. As a long time BBS and USENET user, I shouldn't be surprised by this, but our program's message boards are incredibly lively. I'm learning a lot from the discussions on our entrepreneurial board, and the "student lounge" is a lot of fun. We've organized a 20-team fantasty football league, and we're generally having a great time, even though we rarely see each other in person. Of course, when we do get together in person, we have a great time! Speaking of which...
  • I'm ready for the next residency. As great as our distance education technology is, I'm ready to see my classmates face-to-face again. One of the most enjoyable parts of the program has been our class discussions during the residency portions. This term, we're doing Microeconomics and Decision Models, and I'm raring to go.

So far, I've been really happy with the Cross Continent program. I think that it's going to do a lot for my career long-term, and my boss commented the other day that he's already seeing positive changes in my way of thinking that he credits to my classes. It's a long way from flunking out of NC State to a Fuqua MBA, but the journey seems to be worth it so far, and I'm anxious to see how far I can go!

Education

Journal: CCMBA Update

Journal by Fortunato_NC

So, I haven't done the best job updating my journal lately - I've been busy!

We're going into week 5 of 6 of the distance portion of term 1, and things are super-busy. The team project for managerial effectiveness was due last week, and I felt our team's effort was outstanding. When the grade gets here, we'll know for sure.

Some thoughts on the first term:

Communication over distance is difficult to decipher. I've apparently been rude to one of my teammates, but I'm not sure what I said to offend. This is affecting the team dynamic, so I know I need to get it fixed, but I have no idea how.

Accounting is much easier the second time around. In undergrad, accounting was my least favorite class. In the CCMBA program, I have pleasantly surprised myself so far. Our second team project and final are coming up over the next two weeks, so we'll see if I can keep it up.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again - the CCMBA program is stocked with brilliant people. Our message board discussions are engaging and informative. Usually, I read message boards for the flamewars, but there is a lot of signal and very little noise on the Fuqua NNTP server.

Finally, I'm looking forward to the next residency. We're going to two Duke football games, and it should be a blast. We'll work hard, but we're also going to play hard, and this time around, I'll be at the Thomas Center, not the Washington Duke Inn! I can actually get drunk at Danny's Den, instead of worrying about driving back to the hotel! Sweet!

User Journal

Journal: Back to work!

Journal by Fortunato_NC

Yesterday was my first day in the office in two weeks. To say work's piled up for me would be an understatement. Still, I'm looking forward to digging in and applying some of what I learned in my first residency at Duke in a "real world" environment.

First, though, I have to return all those voice mails!

User Journal

Journal: They want me to take tests, too?

Journal by Fortunato_NC

Although we have agenda items that go through tomorrow, today is effectively the last day of residency for the first term of the CCMBA program. Basically, this means we're halfway through the first term at this point, having compressed six weeks worth of assignments and reading into two weeks. Basically, one class in residency is the equivalent of a week in the distance portion, but this term, they staggered the classes across two weeks to give us a more "gentle" introduction and work in some non-graded team building training.

Being halfway through the term means one thing, if you can think all the way back to those hazy college days, and that's MIDTERMS. For Managerial Effectiveness, our midterm was an individual case writeup on BMW - three pages and a Powerpoint, not bad at all. But today is the event that's struck fear in the hearts of the entire program ever since we saw it looming on the agenda way back on July 23rd. Today is the day for the Financial Accounting midterm, a grueling three-hour exam that is our first real test in the program. For many of us, it will be the first test we've taken since the GMAT, and the first in-class exam we've taken in five years or more. Having completed my undergrad degree only recently, I'm a little better off than many of my classmates, because I've been exposed to a lot of this stuff within the past two years.

Still, I've felt the pressure as the exam has approached, and like my peers, I've spent a lot of time in our teamrooms working on statements of cash flow, scanning balance sheets and income statements, and basically getting myself worked up over what is ultimately only the first of many tests I'll take in this program. Someone once said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. The CCMBA class of 2007 finishes its first step this morning. Only 999.99 more miles to go!

User Journal

Journal: More on the Fuqua CCMBA

Journal by Fortunato_NC

Today, we completed our first team assignment to submit tomorrow. I was amazed at how smoothly my team worked together. Of course, where the rubber meets the road is when we are in distance. If we still work well during the distance education portion of the course, then we're golden.

I'm also surprised at the hours we're keeping in residency. I think I need to start working out just to avoid the "afternoon fade" where I want to fall asleep towards the end of the afternoon session.

I'm also really ready to get back to the office and start seeing how to apply some of this learning. Bet my boss is going to be really tired of my suggestions by the time this program ends!

User Journal

Journal: CCMBA - Day 5

Journal by Fortunato_NC

Seems like it's been a lifetime since my last journal entry.

We spent Tuesday offsite at Triangle Training Center, doing teambuilding exercises in 101 degree heat. I flirted with heat exhaustion, and think I took away a lot less from the experience than I wanted to because of it. My teammates were very supportive, which I really appreciate from people I am just starting to get to know.

Classwork has started in earnest. We're working on a team charter, a list of the commitments that the team makes to one another for the learning process. Our team charter emphasizes achievement and respect for ideas, I'd characterize our team as being more agressive overall than I am individually. I'm looking to this team to help me develop good habits that will carry me through the program and out into my post-MBA life.

Tomorrow (actually, today, since it's after midnight as I write this), we work more on the team charter, begin writing our first team assignment, and I hope to get some spare time to work on accounting, which I need to catch up on.

More from Duke later!

User Journal

Journal: First Impressions of the Duke University CCMBA Program

Journal by Fortunato_NC
Today is the second day of my first residency at Fuqua, and after 30 hours or so as a graduate student, here's what I'm thinking now.

This is going to be a lot of work.

Literally every minute is scheduled for us between 8:00AM and 8:00PM every day for the next two weeks. We're going to cram in roughly half a semester's worth of class meetings, assignments, and yes, even exams, for two classes into two weeks. I'm skipping part of dinner to write this journal entry. Of course, we've got it easy this term. Next term we have to do it all in one week.

The people here are really talented.

The mix of people that makes up our class is absolutely astounding. We have CPAs, logistics and distribution experts, professors, marketers, more engineers than you can shake a stick at, and of course, a ton of IT types like myself.

I can't shut my mouth.

My family and co-workers probably could have told you that, but the Myers-Brigg tests we took helped explain some of that. I'm an ENFP, and apparently one thing that people find frustrating about dealing with ENFPs is that we talk way more than we listen. Of course, speaking quickly has its rewards sometimes. I won an autographed picture of Coach K by answering a trivia question during orientation.

Sometimes, getting the short end of the stick turns out better than you expected.

My team got "bumped" from the Thomas Center, the main facility here at Fuqua due to a lack of space. However, we were bumped to the Washington Duke Inn, a four-star resort hotel on the edge of Duke's campus. Not a bad place to spend 13 nights, if you can't be at the Thomas Center with everyone else.

I'll write more on the CCMBA program and my experiences as the week progresses. Needless to say, I'm working hard, but I'm having a blast at the same time.

Education

Journal: MBA Saga Update 1

Journal by Fortunato_NC
Earlier, I alluded to some developments that may have changed my MBA plans dramatically. Those developments did in fact come to pass, and as a result, I won't be pursuing an MBA full-time.

Instead, I'm going to be attending Duke University's Fuqua School of Business Cross Continent Executive MBA program. This program, you might remember, is the same one my wife attends (and will graduate from next March). I'll be staying at ONLINE in my current position, which hopefully will give me the benefit of being able to apply what I learn immediately.

I'm sad to be giving up the opportunity for full-time study, but from a financial standpoint and considering the relative standing of the Fuqua MBA, I think I'm coming out ahead here. Of course, I'll be writing journal entries on the whole experience, once the program begins in July, so watch this space!

Media

Journal: NPR and PBS Under Fire - Call Your Congresscritter! 3

Journal by Fortunato_NC
[An aside: Yeah, I know this is a cut and paste job and a crappy excuse for a journal posting. But this is important, damn it. Don't let public broadcasting die. Read on!]

You know that email petition that keeps circulating about how Congress is slashing funding for NPR and PBS? Well, now it's actually true. (Really. Check at the bottom if you don't believe me.)

Sign the petition telling Congress to save NPR and PBS:

http://www.moveon.org/publicbroadcasting/

A House panel has voted to eliminate all public funding for NPR and PBS, starting with "Sesame Street," "Reading Rainbow," and other commercial-free children's shows. If approved, this would be the most severe cut in the history of public broadcasting, threatening to pull the plug on Big Bird, Cookie Monster, and Oscar the Grouch.

The cuts would slash 25% of the federal funding this year--$100 million--and end funding altogether within two years. The loss could kill beloved children's shows like "Clifford the Big Red Dog," "Arthur," and "Postcards from Buster." Rural stations and those serving low-income communities might not survive. Other stations would have to increase corporate sponsorships.

Already, 300,000 people have signed the petition. Can you help us reach 400,000 signatures today?

http://www.moveon.org/publicbroadcasting/

Thanks!

P.S. Read the Washington Post report on the threat to NPR and PBS at:

http://www.moveon.org/r?r=745

User Journal

Journal: This Is Why The Internet Is Wonderful

Journal by Fortunato_NC
Tonight, for some strange reason, I began wondering if the fence that separates the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay from the rest of Cuba had any breaks in it for gates or crossings, or if it was a single contiguous fence.

A few years ago, I wouldn't have been able to scratch this particular itch without heading to the library and scouring lots of books. And even then, I may not have gotten a definite answer. Today, on the other hand, I simply went to Google and typed "guantanamo gate" in the search box.

The result? (Of course, you might have already clicked the link above to see for yourself.) What I found was fairly interesting. The fence between GTMO and Cuba is 17.4 miles long, and it has only a single crossing point, known as the North East Gate. It is actually used every day by elderly Cuban employees who have worked on the base since before the Cuban revolution! It is also used by base officials and Cuban officials who meet regularly to discuss certain issues regarding the base and its Cuban neighbors.

In addition to self-important blogs, web sites pushing the latest in mass consumption, and an ever more varying array of pornography, the Internet provides us with the answers to just about any trivia question we can think of. We just have to know how to phrase the question to Google!

It's funny.  Laugh.

Journal: Scooby-Doo Meets George W. Bush

Journal by Fortunato_NC

The writing bug hit me this evening, so I pounded out some subpar political satire. Enjoy!

Scooby-Doo, starring in: SCOOBY-DOO and The Case of The Missing Recruits

Featuring Special Guest Stars: President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and the Harlem Globetrotters!

SCENE ONE

EXTERIOR - DAY

The MYSTERY MACHINE rolls to a halt along a dusty road in front of the SPOOKY ARMED FORCES RECRUITING OFFICE. FRED and DAPHNE get out to investigate.

FRED:

        It looks like we're out of gas, guys!

SHAGGY:

        Zoinks! And there's nothing around for miles except for that old armed forces recruiting office!

DAPHNE:

        I think I see a light on inside. Maybe someone there can help us!

SCOOBY-DOO:

        Ruh-uh! Rot Rat Rary Rold Race!

FRED:

        Daphne's right. I mean, where else are we going to go?

PAN RIGHT to LARGE, WELL LIT GAS STATION. PAN LEFT to MYSTERY MACHINE. THE GANG walks away from the MYSTERY MACHINE towards the SPOOKY ARMED FORCES RECRUITING OFFICE.

FADE TO BLACK.

SCENE TWO

INTERIOR - SPOOKY ARMED FORCES RECRUITING OFFICE - DAY

As they enter the SPOOKY ARMED FORCES RECRUITING OFFICE we see a poster on the wall, the familiar "I want you!" poster. Only on our poster, we see that Uncle Sam's eyes don't just seem to follow you as you move about the room, they actually do. As we move to the next room, enter SGT. SMITH.

SHAGGY:

        Like, hey man, who are you?

SGT. SMITH:

        Son, are you on pot? Not that there's anything wrong with that. In fact, Uncle Sam is willing to overlook a few transgressions in your past if you can convince me you're ready to be an army of one and help keep the world safe for democracy! And believe me, I'm easy to convince! Especially when it's the 25th of the month, and I haven't met my recruiting goals.

FRED:

        I'm sorry, sir! We're not here to sign up for the military, we just ran out of gas back there on the road.

SGT. SMITH:

        I'm talking about giving you the chance to make sure we never run out of gas, son! You ever been to South Carolina? It's beautiful there, especially around Parris Island, I mean Hilton Head.

FRED:

        No sir, I'm sorry, I've stayed out of South Carolina because of the NAACP started that boycott because of the Confederate flag on the statehouse grounds.

VELMA:

        And actually, sir, many scientists believe we will run out of oil in between one hundred and four hundred years.

SGT. SMITH:

        Why do you smarty pants keep calling me sir? I work for a living! My name's Sgt. Smith!

SHAGGY:

        Nice to meet you sir, I mean, sergeant.

SCOOBY-DOO:

        Reh-roh, rar-rent rith!

SGT. SMITH:

        Anyway, I ain't got no gas. I haven't been able to afford gas since the ghosts started appearing and gas prices shot up to two and a half dollars a gallon.

VELMA:

        Jinkies!

SHAGGY:

        Zoinks!

SCOOBY DOO:

        A ruh-ruh-ruh roast?

SGT. SMITH:

        Yep. What with the ghosts and the high gas prices, no one's come around my recruiting office for weeks now!

DAPHNE:

        Uh, don't you think the fact that we're at war might keep people away from the recruiting office? I mean, the military is a great deal when it gets you out of the ghetto and into a good college, but if you leave the ghetto and end up in Falluja, some people might not see that as much of a change! You were probably better off in South Central, seeing as the police there don't discard their uniforms and run off at the first sign of trouble.

SGT. SMITH:

        No, I'm pretty sure it's the ghosts...

FRED:

        Well, gee, Sgt. Smith, me and the gang here are pretty good at solving mysteries. Perhaps we can help you with your mystery!

SGT SMITH:

        That would be mighty nice of you kids! The president and Dick Cheney will be here tomorrow, and I don't want that ghost causing any trouble.

As THE GANG walks back out of the SPOOKY ARMED FORCES RECRUITING OFFICE, we again see the poster of Uncle Sam, and again, the eyes follow THE GANG across the room.

FADE TO BLACK.

SCENE THREE

INTERIOR - SODA SHOP - EVENING

As we zoom in on the window of the SODA SHOP, THE HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS walk by silently. We see THE GANG inside, sharing a table. SCOOBY-DOO and SHAGGY are sharing a large milkshake with mountains of whipped cream, and a cherry on top.

DAPHNE:

        I don't know - a ghost in a recruiter's office? That sounds super-duper fishy to me!

SHAGGY:

        Like, I don't care, man - you couldn't get me back in there with a three by five draft card!

FRED:

        Don't you mean a ten foot pole?

SHAGGY:

        I don't care if it's a ten foot thai stick, I'm not going back!

SCOOBY-DOO (looks up from a nearly empty milkshake, with foam on his mouth):

        Ruh-ruh! Ree Reither!

VELMA:

        Look, Shaggy, it obviously isn't a ghost. And the president is coming tomorrow, with Dick Cheney! Do you want the sergeant to get into trouble?

SHAGGY:

        Well, if we're going back, I'd better finish my milkshake and get started reading the recruiting brochures - hey! Scooby, you drank the whole milkshake!

SCOOBY-DOO:

        Ree-hee-hee!

SHAGGY:

        That's it, Scooby! No more Alice B. Toklas brownies for you!

SCOOBY-DOO:

        Ree-hee-hee! Rye ron't rare!

FADE TO BLACK.

SCENE FOUR

INTERIOR - SPOOKY ARMED FORCES RECRUITING OFFICE - DAY

The next day, THE GANG returns to the SPOOKY ARMED FORCES RECRUITING OFFICE to meet SGT. SMITH, PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH, and VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY. We notice that the eyes from the poster are absent. We also see that VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY is carrying several books.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH:

        And as I was telling Dick here just yesterday, freedom is on the march, thanks to the bravery of men and women just like you recruits here.

FRED:

        But Mr. President, we're not here to join the military, we're here to solve a mystery!

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH:

        What kind of mystery, son?

FRED:

        Well, there is a ghost that's haunting this recruiting office and scaring all the potential recruits away! Sgt. Smith thinks it might be responsible for the high gas prices, too.

As FRED is talking, we see SCOOBY-DOO looking at VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY'S load of books. We can see the title "SECRET ENERGY TASK FORCE MEETING MINUTES" on the top of the stack. VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY looks at SCOOBY-DOO and slides the books behind his back. SCOOBY-DOO looks confused.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH:

        A ghost! Well, I hope you kids can get to the bottom of this. Sgt. Smith is running short on his goal this month, and if he doesn't make it, Donald Rumsfeld is going to put this place on the BRAC list!

Exit PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH and VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY.

SHAGGY:

        Zoinks!

SGT. SMITH:

        That's right, kids. If they close this old place, I don't know what I'm going to do.

DAPHNE:

        Don't you worry, Sgt. Smith. We're not going to let that happen. We'll get to the bottom of this, right, Fred?

FRED:

        Right! Let's split up. I'll go with Daphne, and ---

SHAGGY:

        Scooby and I will go off with the dumpy bitch with the glasses. We know, we know. Jesus.

VELMA:

        Watch yourself, you burned-out neo-hippie freak! I swear to God I will cut you and that stupid mutt if you so much as put one toe out of line. I'll enjoy it, too.

FRED (aside, to DAPHNE):

        Damn, Velma should really consider cutting back on the cocaine!

FRED (to all):

        Okay, Daphne and I will search the blogosphere using Sgt. Smith's laptop. Shaggy, you guys will search the Middle East using a Humvee with hillbilly armor. We'll meet back here in a week!

SHAGGY:

        Zoinks! Like, we're gonna die, Scoob!

SCOOBY-DOO:

        Roll, row! Rhis ris rucking rulrhit!

VELMA:

        Now, President Bush says that the freedom is on the march and that most of the freedom-loving Iraqi people welcome us as liberators. What could be so bad?

FADE TO BLACK.

SCENE FIVE

EXTERIOR - 250 YARDS FROM THE BAGHDAD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT - DAY

The next day. The camera follows SCOOBY-DOO, SHAGGY, and VELMA riding in the HUMVEE, which is armored with parts scavenged from the MYSTERY MACHINE. Ten seconds into this scene, an IMPROVISED EXPLOSIVE DEVICE detonates, and the HUMVEE flips over.

SHAGGY:

        Like, medic!

FADE TO BLACK.

SCENE SIX

INTERIOR - WALTER REED ARMY MEDICAL CENTER - DAY

Ten days later. SHAGGY, now missing his left leg below the knee sits beside the bed of SCOOBY-DOO, who is hooked to a ventilator and has a feeding tube. We hear the steady beep, beep, beep of a heart monitor. FRED and DAPHNE are entering the door, but VELMA is conspicuously absent.

SHAGGY:

        He's my best friend. Like, I can't turn off the ventilator.

FRED:

        The doctors say his brain is injured beyond the point of recovery. Shaggy, he's just not there any more.

DAPHNE:

        I know it's hard, Shaggy, but you should let him go. Scooby would have wanted it that way.

SHAGGY:

        Yeah, but, like, Pat Robertson and James Dobson say that if I take him off life support, I'm, like, a murderer. Like, I don't know what to believe!

FRED:

        You're not a murderer, Shag! You're just a guy trying to do what his dog would have wanted.

SHAGGY:

        Like, he was a dog that could talk. Now, his brain is slowly shrinking and, like, being replaced with cerebrospinal fluid. Kind of like Tom Delay's after he was made majority whip. I know what I have to do.

FADE TO BLACK. The sound of the heart monitor continues after the fade, then quickens, then goes to the familiar drone of a flatline.

SCENE SEVEN

INTERIOR - SPOOKY ARMED FORCES RECRUITING OFFICE - DAY

The next day. THE GANG, sans VELMA and SCOOBY-DOO is at the SPOOKY ARMED FORCES RECRUITING OFFICE, along with SGT. SMITH, PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH, and VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY. The SHERIFF is there as well.

FRED:

        Well, Sgt. Smith, we've solved the mystery! And we didn't even have to cook up an elaborate scheme to trap the ghost. Which is good, seeing as we're short two now.

SGT. SMITH:

        Well, if you didn't capture the ghost, how did you solve the mystery?

FRED:

        Well, it seems that people aren't being scared away from the recruiting station by a ghost, Sergeant. They're just not convinced that they should sign up to fight a war that, best they can figure, was started for no other reasons that to settle old scores and enrich Halliburton!

SGT. SMITH:

        What kind of monster would do that?!?!

SHAGGY:

        Like, these monsters right here!

SHAGGY points at PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH and VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY. SGT. SMITH and the SHERIFF gasp.

SHERIFF:

        So, I suppose this is where you unmask the real villains, right?

DAPHNE tugs at VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY's face. However, it quickly becomes obvious that he isn't wearing a mask.

VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY:

        Ouch! That hurts! Stop!

DAPHNE:

        No, Sheriff. These men aren't wearing masks. But they are your criminals!

SHAGGY:

        Like, the president wanted to get back at Saddam Hussein for trying to kill his daddy, even before 9/11. But, like, he knew the public's desire for revenge and the general atmosphere of fear wouldn't be a foolproof pretext for war!

FRED:

        So he and Dick Cheney pushed around the CIA and the State Department until everyone "agreed" that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction that could be ready to drop on Butte, Montana in 30 minutes or less!

DAPHNE:

        And as the former CEO of Halliburton, the vice president had every reason to go along with the idea. He was due millions in deferred compensation, and Halliburton was facing bankruptcy due to liabilities from a former asbestos maker that he had decided to acquire! But if Halliburton were to secure contracts to serve soldiers in a war zone and rebuild Iraq's oilfields, his pension would be safe! Not safe in the "about to be dumped on the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation" sense, like the pensions of millions of Americans, but in the "fully funded and flush with cash" sense.

SHERIFF:

        You mean, nearly 15,000 Americans have been killed or wounded to line the vice president's pockets and help the president settle a pissing match with a marginalized middle eastern dictator?

SGT. SMITH:

        That's even crazier than believing it was ghosts scaring the recruits away!

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH:

        We'd have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn't for you meddling kids.

VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY:

        Mr. President, we'll still get away with it if you label these little bastards as enemy combatants and ship em' off to Guantanamo.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH:

        That's right!

SHAGGY:

        Like, zoinks!

FADE TO BLACK.

SCENE EIGHT

EXTERIOR - CAMP DELTA, GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA - DAY

We see the remnants of THE GANG in chain link outdoor "cells". SHAGGY has his hands bound behind him and is lying on the ground with pages from THE HOLY QURAN stuffed in his mouth. We pan right, away from the gang, and see that the next cell contains the SHERIFF and SGT. SMITH. We continue our pan, and in the next cell we see THE HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS.

MEADOWLARK LEMON:

        This sucks.

CURLY NEAL:

        This REALLY sucks. I wish I hadn't let my preacher talk me into voting Republican.

FADE TO BLACK.

FIN.

"I've seen the forgeries I've sent out." -- John F. Haugh II (jfh@rpp386.Dallas.TX.US), about forging net news articles

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