Month: July 2007

I would like to "axe" you a question…

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It’s probably going to reach somewhere near 90-92 degrees here in the Atlanta area today, and I’ve spent the last three weeks splitting firewood for our coming winter where we’ll be lucky to get more than 20 days of temps in the lower 30s or upper 20s.

But beyond just some need to get out and do something manly for a change (as opposed to watching the kids or sitting in a chair at work on the computer all day), there is something very cathartic about mindless physical exertion, and it is this which has drawn me time and again to one of the two stacks of wood in my backyard these past few weeks.
To be sure there is a satisfaction one can gain from parenting or from one’s chosen profession, but in my experience, few things are as satisfying as rounding a day off soaked in sweat (perspiration for my female audience) and having something as solid as a stack of split wood to show for your efforts; even if half of it will probably go to waste since it doesn’t get that cold here anyway.
Also, for me, I get some of my best contemplating in when I’m doing something singular like cutting firewood or mowing the lawn. It is during these times that I’m most introspective, because let’s face it, you don’t really need your brain when you’re working in the yard. I wonder if Einstein came up with some of his most pervasive postulates while working? Perhaps Da Vinci was planing off a new worktable when he came with the idea for the parachute. Who knows.
But, I finished one stack and based on how things are going at work, I luckily have a whole ‘nother stack to go. Skip the gym, cut some wood, keep my sanity. Not a bad deal all in all.

Blue / Pink / Indifferent?

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It’s amazing how quickly one can accept a situation and begin making plans for it, even if that situation goes against everything you’ve been planning up till that point in life.
My wife got up this morning and announced that she was terribly nauseous. Now, we’ve been pretty careful with the “relations” since our last son was born, but there might have been a time or two that our teenage years crept up on us and we excused off the hassle and just went with the moment.
With a “Do you think the drugstore is open yet?” she was out the door on a mission to get a pregnancy test. When she came home, she went straight upstairs and faster than I thought the test could return results, she comes back downstairs and says, “We’re not pregnant.”
Now, I know a lot of people think babies are Gods little gift and so on and so forth, but gift or no, I am not prepared for another baby. I was feeling pretty confident she might be pregnant though based both on today’s little episode and a week or two of her feeling a tad on the puny side. In my head, even as I was lamenting, “Oh my LORD what’re we gonna do?” I was also planning out how long it would take me to finish off a couple of rooms in my basement so we could still have a guest room if we had to turn our current upstairs guest room into a nursery.
Thank goodness no such plans will be necessary.
Apparently, she only has a tummy bug as she has slept literally all day and thus far neither myself nor the boys have any symptoms (which is suspect considering everyone I know who’s had this, has also passed it to their entire household in a matter of hours). I’ve been careful to keep the boys generally away from her all day so if we’re lucky, it’ll stop with her. Of course, with the exception of my recent fishing trip, I just don’t throw up. Stomach bugs don’t affect me for some reason, so I’m not a good gauge of a bug’s possibilities.

At any rate, today’s over and now I can relax for a bit before my week begins.
And I can guaran-darn-tee that the next time the moment feels right, I’ll be puttin’ on my hat.

Do you hear the words that are coming out of my mouth?

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Need I say more?

There’s a certain liberation that comes from knowing that since your company cares so little about you, you therefore, should not feel required to return any amount of loyalty to it.

And that, my friends, is how my day has gone.

I had my meeting and was told that my idea held no appeal and that therefore, I pretty much had no choice in the matter and “Welcome to the team.” At which point I said, “What do you expect me to say? I’m not happy with this.”

Carmine said one boy, here are two.” (The Freshman).

I felt like I should at least be honest with them after they had me bend over and take what amounts to a demotion.

The great thing about not giving a flip, is the fact that you feel empowered to say things that other people don’t expect to hear (like that) and in return, you often get little gems like this one that my new boss said, “Well, if you do decide to look outside the company for a new job, I’d really appreciate it if you told me so I can prepare.”

I’m not kidding people, these words actually came out of her mouth. And yes, she’s a Sr. Manager. Wow! Either she completely thinks I trust her (for what reason she might have earned this honor I can’t begin to imagine) or else she just really is an idiot. Could go both ways really.

And if anyone out there even thinks about saying in the comments anything even closely resembling any of the following:
– Hold tight! God has a plan
– At least you have a job

I will hunt you down and disfigure you like Michael Jackson’s plastic surgeon. (that’s not quite grammatically correct, but you get the point).

When you’re stuck with (another) day, that’s gray, and looonelly…

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Since yesterday’s blog, I learned a few things. Apparently, my boss, unbeknownst to me, has been in discussions with the Marketing Communications (Marcom) group to move me over there as a “writer.” Now, coincidentally, I was simultaneously developing a business case for basically the same thing, except (and this is a big “except”) under the auspices of being a “Team Lead”.

Why a “Team Lead” you ask and not a Manager? Well, the company I work for (it’s big, it’s blue, and its people are known to be heartless robots), has interesting definitions of what makes a “Manager” per-se. You have to have a certain number of people directly reporting to you in order for you to be considered a Manager. And even if I did move over to the Marcom group at the level I want, there aren’t the proper number of people to report to me to satisfy the requirement. So, at best, I can get a “Team Lead” position which basically means the same thing, but doesn’t come with the requisite pay raise. Oh well.

Anyway, I found out my bosses’ plans in a meeting with him yesterday and feeling that it was especially lucky that I did find out ahead of time (since everyone talks about me, but not to me) I also took the opportunity to tell him that if I didn’t get a “Team Lead” position there, I would not be staying with the company.

Gutsy move I might regret later, but here’s why:

  1. This is the second consecutive job that I have been promised a Team Lead position in and this is the second one that has renegged on their word
  2. If I move over as a “Writer” I will be in effect, putting my career back 3-4 years, since I have held the following titles in the last 4 years: Sr. Technical Writer and Marketing Manager. To go back to “Writer” would be career stupidity

The interesting thing is, that even people here at work that I talk to regularly seem to know more about my bosses’ career plans for me than even I do. I find the whole charade fascinating and revolting at the same time.

The funny thing is, in my meeting yesterday my boss said, “Well first, you should never tell your boss you quit unless you’re willing to follow through with it.”

You know what I did, I chuckled, and then I said, “I wasn’t kidding. You’re my fourth boss in six months. That’s six months that I’ve been scratching and clawing my way by myself, with absolutely no support behind me whatsoever and I’m done fighting. There are other companies out there who would welcome me and give me the support I need to get my job done.”

There wasn’t much he could say after that. So, I have a meeting mid-morning today to discuss my “move” and I suspect I’ll have a pretty good feeling after that meeting as to my future at my current company. Interestingly, while I don’t relish the idea of moving yet again, I really don’t care. I honestly don’t care whether I stay or go. I suspect that’s what has emboldened me to make the demands I’ve made.

When you’ve got nothing to lose, why not?

When you’re stuck with a day, that’s gray, and loooneely….

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For today’s blog entry, I had grand plans of discussing how we might finally be able to resolve the redneck issue here in the U.S. See, the Thames River has overflowed in the UK, forcing massive evacuations. I was hoping to find an interview by the BBC with some toothless Euro-Redneck and then make wild sweeping claims about how people need to get off the South’s back concerning our population of river dwellers.

And then, I came into work and got into an argument with one of my protege’s (actually, I guess he’s a step above me) over his having one of his recent hires, do my job. It finally ended up with me stomping over to my new bosses’ office and saying, “F**K it. I’m done.” Yes, I used those words.

A little history here: I used to work where I work now a couple of years ago and I left because they wouldn’t offer me a permanent position–just wanted to keep me on contract. The boss I was working for at the time contacted me late last year about coming back and after protracted discussions, I finally came back in Feb. of this year. Here was the deal I was supposed to get:

  • the pay I asked for
  • the benefits I asked for
  • my own small writing team, and thus “manager” experience I’ve been wanting to get

Well, several re-organizations (and 4 managers) later, here’s what I have:

  • the pay I asked for
  • the benefits I asked for
  • I’m still working by myself, with no “team” in sight

There are many reasons for why I’m frustrated, but it basically comes down to having to constantly justify what I do. I’ve worked at companies who just fell over themselves giving me work to do, but here I often have to go out and beg for work. When I do, I usually get inundated, but the point is that I have to keep reminding people that I’m here. There is plenty of work for myself and a small team of writers if only we could get the project managers to send us the work rather than sending it to an outside agency. The funny thing is, half the time they come back to me later and say, “Yeah, I sent this to the agency and it’s really not what I’m looking for. Can you fix?”

So, I have enough work to justify at least one more writer if the process I’ve put in place were followed (and I had some kind of manager behind me enforcing it), but the longer I go on by myself having to delay projects, or flat out turn them down because I can’t finish them on time, the less of a chance I have of getting my own team because the projects just get shipped off to some outside agency who really just don’t have a clue. And since I end up “fixing” them when they do come back from the agency, the manager in charge of the particular project is happy and doesn’t care that they just bypassed me to get the project done.

I just want to grab them by the shirt collar and scream, “But it’s my job a**hole! Don’t you get it? When you give it to someone else, you are basically saying you don’t need me anymore.”

So I’ve calmed down a bit since this morn’s explosion, but I’m still resolved to either get this fixed in the next month, or find another job. Trust me folks, some of the biggest names in corporate America really don’t have a clue when it comes down to people and processes. I guess there are enough young grads lined up (we have kids earning their Master’s degree working as Interns) to bother caring about the people already on staff.

On top of that, my company issued a memo early this year indicating that they were starting a “minority hiring” initiative, meaning they are purposefully hiring/promoting women and minorities, which means if you’re a white male, best of luck to ya! So, I don’t think my future here is too rosey. But we’ll see. I have one more ace up my sleeve which I’ll try and play either late this week or early next and if it doesn’t work, I walk. I’ll keep you updated.

Survival of the fittest!

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My kids’ daycare has camera monitoring in all the classes, but the resolution is pretty bad so it’s difficult to tell who is whom. I’m pretty sure this is Aiden based solely on his socks.

Well, I made it through last night. The boys were good and we actually managed to get a decent meal in. I put Aiden down around 8:15 and Ethan about 8:40, leaving me to do all sorts of fun things, like clean up and brush my teeth and such. Of course, just as I was lying down to go to sleep (10:15’ish) Aiden woke up. So, fed him and crawled back in bed til about 2 a.m. when he woke up again.

If you read yesterday’s blog, you know I was gonna try some tough love and let him cry it out. Well, after 45 minutes, I gave up. At some point, you just have to say, “OK, he’s miserable, I’m miserable, how about some milky?” So, did that and crawled back in bed around 3:15 a.m.

Slept till 6:45 (wow!) Got out of bed and found Ethan sitting by his bedroom door and when he saw me, he ran up and said, “You slept a long time.” I only wish!

Anyway, got the boys off and now it’s worky time. Hooray!

Gripe Session

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(after writing this, I figured I’d better preface it with: I’m tired; work sucks for a variety of reasons and I still don’t feel especially well)

Nothing of particular note happened this weekend. Ethan had a little girl/friend over to play and they had a lot of fun. The mom came over and was pretty much a brick. Just kinda hung out even though my wife told her to feel free (PULEASE!) to leave her daughter there and go catch up on some errands or something.

The ridiculous thing was that we told her to bring bathing suits as we would take the kids to the pool if the weather was nice. So, she brings her daughter a bathing suit, but not one for herself. Since the kids are only three, my wife correctly felt that SOMEONE ought to be in the pool with the kids (even though we have a lifeguard). So this meant that there were two adult females at the pool watching two 3-year olds and that also meant that I was at home watching the baby.

Does anyone else see the lunacy here? Three adults to watch three children??? Now, had the other mother brought her suit, then my wife could have watched our baby, leaving me free to do any number of things that need doing around the house. But noooooo.

I’m going to bust on the women here for a second, so my female readers will just have to bear with me. When did women in society today become so helpless when it comes to kids? I mean, we only have two kids and my wife is at her whits end by the end of the day if I’m not there to help. Same goes for a lot of women I know…especially the single moms.

Now, believe me, I know kids are tough. I sure as heck wouldn’t want to be a stay-at-home dad, but one would argue that nature has not properly equipped men and therefore we biologically lack a lot of what it takes. For instance, I lack hips, so holding my son becomes a test of bicep strength. My wife on the other hand, can prop him on her hip and hold him all day.

Interestingly, we are only one generation away from moms who had 5 or more children and women today can’t seem to handle the one or two they have. And yes, a lot of moms work these days, but haven’t women argued all along that working at home is just as hard (nay, harder) than working at the office? If that’s so, then why all the complaints about having to come home and care for the kids? Why is working at the office, and then coming home and watching the kids, any different from watching them all day? If I read it right, when dads came home just 15-20 years ago, they didn’t take over watching the kids. No sir…they did what they needed to around the house, or else they just sat around. Amazingly, dinner still got served, the house still got cleaned, and most remarkably, the children didn’t die from lack of neglect. I don’t get it.

Maybe part of the problem is that working mothers carry so much guilt over not being home with their kids that when they are with their kids, they give it 200%. For example, I was briefly chatting with this mom at the house this weekend. I was standing there soaked in sweat from working in the yard, getting a glass of water before cleaning up so I could watch the baby while they went to the pool, and she says to me, “I tell you, I don’t know how people have more than one or two children anymore. I just wish someone would come over and just take my daughter for a while so I could get something done.”

In response, I said, “Yeah, it’s tough,” but in my head I’m saying, “Well, what ya do is you tell your child to go play by herself for a while and then you clean the house, pay the bills, cook the meal, whatever you need to do. Ya do know that you don’t have to play with them 24×7 right? See, you tell your child what to do, not the other way around.”

Perhaps I was so ready with this response because I want to say it in my own home so often, usually after a long day of work, when I have to come home and mow the grass or work on something and then cook dinner and or/ bathe the kids; which is pretty much every day.

I often wonder if we’re not doing our children a disservice by being their only source of entertainment at home. It’ll probably be better at our house when our boys are old enough to play with each other, but for now, my wife and I are both breadwinners, parents and playfriends and it’s two very full time jobs.

I don’t know…I just don’t think that this whole dual income parenting this is fairly equitable anymore. Just as men are accused of not respecting how difficult being a stay-at-home mom is, I feel women don’t respect that in addition to our office work, we men/fathers also have a bevy of things to do at home; especially if you own your own home and have any kind of yard. So while women get help with the kids, how many men get help with the house or the yard (note: I didn’t raise my hand)?

Yeah, I’m a little frustrated. My wife has another “offsite” meeting tonight where she gets to spend the night at a local hotel and get a full night’s sleep while I, yet again, get to stay home with the boys and answer the nighttime feeding request at 11 p.m. and then probably again at 2:30 a.m. and/or maybe at 4 a.m. Perhaps tonight I’ll let him just cry through the 11p.m. feeding since my wife won’t be there to coddle him. Heck, I know people with 2 month olds that sleep through the night, so maybe I’ll let him cry through his 2:30 feeding too. We’ll see. I need a REAL vacation I think.