Tuesday, September 07, 2004

magic 8-ball

I'm not sure where in my personal aether-theology that my magic 8-ball fits, but I'm going to have to work it out, because I believe in my magic 8-ball. Deeply.

Not only that, but it gets me jobs. Granted, I've just recently blogged about how some of these jobs I've gotten cause me great deals of anxiety and perhaps aren't the best basis for belief, but it's still gotten me jobs. In different ways.

My two most recent jobs both required me to submit writing samples. The first, HCFH (Horrible Company From Hell), required me to create an ad including copy for a product of my choosing. I looked around my office, eyed the black magic orb, and decided to write an ad for that. They loved it. I was so clever.

The job I'm at now required a sample of my technical writing skills, so I had to write a process for using a product, again of my choosing. So, I recycled my inspiration. The following is what I submitted, and I submit it to you as an explanation of my deep belief in the magic 8-ball...


The Magic 8-Ball® is a complex piece of decision-making equipment. Using the Magic 8-Ball® takes coordination and intense concentration, while interpreting the results takes experience and manipulative optimism. We will guide you through the learning process step by step, and in no time you will be making executive level decisions effortlessly.

For those not familiar with the design of the Magic 8-Ball®, we introduce its components.

  • Spherical outer shell with representation of the portentous 8-ball from the game of pool
  • Internal icosahedron with mystical answers on each of its 20 sides (complete list documented below)
  • Blue liquid inside the ball, creating a free-floating environment for outside forces to impose their will on the icosahedron
Using the Magic 8-Ball®
In order to get the best results from the Magic 8-Ball® decision-making tool, you should carefully read and follow the steps below.

1. Grasp the Magic 8-Ball® firmly in your hand with the window facing up, as shown below.

2. In a smooth motion, turn the Magic 8-Ball® upside down. By turning it completely upside down, you position the icosahedron in the maximum depth of the surrounding liquid, allowing the greatest freedom of movement.

Note: Shaking the Magic 8-Ball® is not needed, and in fact is detrimental to maximal performance. Shaking the ball often results in bubbles that obscure the answer.

3. Formulate your query as a “yes” or “no” question.

Example: “Will we make our scheduled release date for our latest piece of software?

4. Speak aloud or think your question to the Magic 8-Ball®. Concentration is very important.

5. Again, in a smooth motion, turn the Magic 8-Ball® right side up so that the window is showing again.

6. Wait until the icosahedron settles, and read your answer.

Interpreting Your Results
While the manipulation of the Magic 8-Ball® takes skill and concentration, interpreting your results takes more experience, and a little creativity.

Results listing
The table below lists the 20 possible results returned by the Magic 8-Ball®. You can see that fully 50% of the answers are positive, while 30% are negative, and 20% are undecided.


  • Without a doubt
  • Yes
  • It is decidedly so
  • Yes definitely
  • As I see it yes
  • You may rely on it
  • It is certain
  • Outlook good
  • Signs point to yes
  • Most likely

  • Very doubtful
  • Outlook not so good
  • No
  • My sources say no
  • My reply is no
  • Don’t count on it

  • Ask again later
  • Cannot predict now
  • Concentrate and ask again
  • Better not tell you now
If you’re hoping for a positive response, you can take any undecided response and ask again. Your chance of getting a negative response is only 3 in 10. Additionally, many negative results are open to interpretation. After a “Very doubtful,” for instance, you can follow up with “But could you be wrong?” or, “But it’s possible, right?” Another turn of the Magic 8-Ball® gives you another 70% chance of getting the answer you want.

Note: When you rephrase your question, keep in mind that a positive result is more likely.

Good luck with your new purchase. Enjoy the thrill of positive decision-making.


You can see why I believe in it.

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