Exercise Vague Spartacus

As noted, those annotations I've been adding to the hateful surveillance signs haven't had a long life expectancy. Anyway, the day before I was leaving town for a couple weeks, I got this email:

I'm a resident of [YOUR ADDRESS] and I've been greatly enjoying your signs. Please don't stop.

I replied:

Thank you!

Someone has been tearing them down like three times a day lately.

Unfortunately I'm going out of town for a while, so there's going to be a pause. I think this is a good excuse for you to get a label maker. We are all Spartacus.

I don't think anyone stepped up in my absence, and that's sad.


It's this old dude with a little rat-dog and I've never, ever seen him smile. I assume the dog is incontinent because he walks it like five times a day, which explains why he's noticing them so quickly.

Maybe I should superglue them now. Or I could just tear down the fucking signs once and for all, but that's probably going to leave glue-gunk on the glass, and that would be lame.

I'm torn.

Update: This story concludes in Exercise Vague Joy.


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26 Responses:

  1. Theodore says:

    Someone already suggested it in the previous post about this subject: I'm definitely for printing two signs identical to those there, except for the banter subtitle underneath, and attaching them onto the original ones.
    Will be fun to see the old man shouting at clouds trying to peel a printed message, or sad. Bitter-sweet also, like a Walther Matthau movie.

    • jwz says:

      See, the problem with this suggestion is that it sounds like a lot of work.

      • Theodore says:

        It is, compared to printing labels stubbornly. On the other hand, coercing the rat dog possessor in doing useful tasks instead of unpeeling your labels would be an infinitely more tiring countermeasure.

      • Big says:

        Also in "sounds like more work than it's worth" ideas:

        An eInk display, a RaspberryPi, OpenCV running "old dude face detection" (or rat-dog object detection), with messages auto-updating between things like "Notice: defacement of this sign is an offence, HOA article 17.b.iii subsection 7." and "Cameras monitored 24x7 by trained rat-dogs." depending on who/what's currently in the lobby.

        (Bonus points for fishing out the CCTV feed instead of needing to install your own camera.)

        • Randy_S says:

          Do this, but when you get the signs printed make sure to include a printed border so that it looks like there's actually a label still stuck there. Dollars to donuts you'll see a _bunch_ of fingernail scratchings all around the "label" border.

          • Randy_S says:

            Well crap I hit reply to the wrong comment. Do the thing Theodore suggests.

  2. Or maybe just replace the sign, vaguely embettered: This building was monitored by closed-circuit cameras.

  3. John says:

    "This building is monitored by a bitter man walking a dog. Exercise vague caution."

  4. Dave says:

    This building is monitored by closed-circuit cameras.
    Tampering with sign prosecuted to full extent of the law.
    I'm talking to you, rat-dog owner. You are circling the drain.

  5. cyeh says:

    Or just make it slightly harder to pull off the labels. How long do you think it takes him to pull off the labels now?

    Another idea is to completely flip the narrative. Instead of making a joke caption, make it look like it's official -- that it's part of the sign. Make the same one for a while. 'DEFACING THIS SIGN IS PROHIBITED' or something.

    Then when he does it again add a twist. "DEFACING THIS SIGN WHILE WALKING YOUR DOG IS PROHIBITED".

  6. Asm says:

    Print two labels. One being vaguely offensive to his delicate sensibilities, the other blatantly so ("You're such a cunt, old man."). Superglue the offensive label, making sure it's a total bitch to get off, then stick the less offensive variety on top.

    Watch angry old man peel the top label, then hurriedly fail to re-stick the mess once he realizes he can't get the bottom label off.

    • jwz says:

      Thanks for that!

      I got the Dymo D1 labels, and while they definitely stick better, I am sad to report that they do not stick enough better to prevent them from being peeled off 3x/day. They just leave residue now.

  7. nwf says:

    I hear that a little gorilla glue around the edges of stickers makes them very difficult to remove. Apply after placing the sticker; smear over edge.

  8. Just rub ghost pepper on the labels first.

    Produce is your friend.


  10. Gerry Mander says:


  11. gryazi says:

    DOGS PROHIBITED 5:30 AM - 9:59 PM

  12. M.E. says:

    You know, from reading your blog, I never took you for the type of guy who would give people shit for not smiling.

    • Lox Myth says:

      It's like the saying goes...
      You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become mildly disappointing some of the time to a subset of the people who read your blog.

      It happened to Napoleon. It happened to Trotsky. And now it has happened to jwz.

      P.S: If anyone would be willing to "find" screenshots of Trotsky's first mildly disappointing blog post, that would be much appreciated.

  13. How about stick up the label then cover the whole sign with clear contact?

    Non zero change that removing the clear contact with damage the whole sign. See the dilemma break old man's soul.

  14. nooj says:

    Which of you will break first?

  15. Tear off the sign and replace it with one of these.

  16. apm74 says:


  17. isabella v says:

    This Building
    is Monitored by
    Closed-Circuit Cameras
    Added: Label Removers Will be Prosecuted
    Added Underneath First Label: And Your Little Dog Too

  18. ssl-3 says:


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