"What's with all the penguins this year?" Santa wondered aloud. The North Pole workshop was certainly full of the tuxedoed birds pushing around carts full of half-finished toys and nudging wrapped packages into his big sack. There were usually a few of them around the place, but nothing like this.
"Dude, didn't you get the memo?" said a young elf skidding to a stop in his Heelys at the jolly old fellow's desk. "They're the best temps we've ever had. They sing, they dance, everybody likes them. Besides, they work for fish."
"But where are the rest of the elves?" Santa asked.
"Out fishing," the elf said. "Hey, big dude, did you finish up that list of who gets what among the technodudes? We're coming close to deadline on that." "It gets harder every year," Santa grumbled. "What do you give someone like Bill Gates?"
"That old Microsoft dude?" asked the elf. "I read about him -- he's gonna spend the next two years having a retirement party. And isn't he the guy who said he really wanted a Mac?"
"No, that's Jim Allchin, the other Microsoft du-- er, executive who's retiring," Santa said.
"I know, give 'em both copies of that new Vista thing," the elf said. "That way they won't get shot while they're standing in line to buy it."
"You're some help," Santa sighed. "Maybe we can give them coupons. Scott McNealy retired as Sun's CEO this year too, but all he asked for is a case of beer for his amateur hockey team and Steve Ballmer's address. Let's see, who else? Larry Ellison almost bought Novell last year, and now he's going after Red Hat. He really seems to want Linux."
"Dude, get him one of those little green Linux laptops that MIT is making for poor kids," the elf said. "I heard the first 1000 finally arrived from the factory in Shanghai. And who's this Mark Hurd dude?"
"Last man standing in HP's spying scandal," Santa said, "mainly because he never read any of the memos so he didn't have a clue. Let's give him a book on effective management. No, wait, make it an audio book, or he'll never read it."
"You mean an MP3, big dude," the elf said, looking over Santa's shoulder at the list. "And I know these dudes: Larry Page and Sergey Brin are the Google dudes who just bought YouTube from these other dudes, Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim."
"Now I know what you'regetting -- a thesaurus," Santa said. "Give them all subscriptions to Napster. With so many people suing them for copyright infringement, they're about to replay that tune all over again. And speaking of tunes, poor Steve Jobs doesn't own his little animation studio Pixar anymore. Now he's just the biggest stockholder of Disney, to the tune of $US3.7 billion. Send him a Scrooge McDuck cartoon for his iPod.
"For the people who make laptop batteries at Sony, some really long extension cords," Santa continued. "A truckload of paper ballots for Diebold to add to its e-voting systems -- looks like the paperless voting booth isn't the future, it's history. And police whistles for 180,000 employees at Kaiser Permanente, to use every time their electronic medical records system freezes up.
"But I'll drop coal in the stockings of all those organisations that lost personal customer data to break-ins or stolen computers, such as the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Pentagon, FedEx, Honeywell, Ernst & Young, Fidelity Investments, TD Ameritrade, ETrade, the Denver election commission, Ohio University, UCLA, Boeing ... "
"Dude, that's a lot of coal!" the elf said.
"There's hundreds more," said Santa. "But for all the IT people who worked hard to do right by users andcustomers, send a better business climate -- and a raise. Which reminds me, I still don't understand why these penguins are willing to work just for fish."
"This workshop has central heating. Did you ever stand barefoot on an ice floe in the middle of winter?"
"Oh ho," Santa laughed. "Happy feet, indeed!"