Month: February 2009

Picture Phone Phriday!

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The guy who sits in the cube behind me is a nice guy. In fact, we share a lot in common. He works out a lot (he’s bigger than me); he’s good looking, he enjoys conspiratory gossip about people with whom we’re forced to work, and he eats protein shakes like there’s no tomorrow.

I like the guy. He’s nice.

He’s also gay.

While he wasn’t at his desk the other day, I took this picture of his desktop. It’s blurry, but hey, I was in a hurry:

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I’m pretty sure these aren’t his brothers, and I’m also pretty sure that if I, as a heterosexual male, were to flagrantly use a desktop picture depicting several women trying to look cool and sexy, that I would get taken to HR.

Kinda like the pre-op transsexual who cleans our bathrooms at work, without concern that he/she is creeping out the occupants, I just sometimes wonder, “Where’s the fairness?”

When will the gay segment of our society start enjoying the same restrictions and punishments that we hetero’s enjoy?

I’m just sayin’…

There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern.

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Read this slowly, using the voice of “Agent Smith” from “The Matrix.” Also, it helps if you have a sneer on your face as you read it.
If you’ve never seen the movie, well hell…just move along please. Nothin to see here…

image They are all around you. They walk through life self-absorbed to the point of narcosis, not knowing the frustration they bring to others. Not knowing that around them, the world continues to move, except for those unlucky few souls forced to move within their sphere of influence. You, who I speak of, probably don’t even know that you affect the planet such as you do. Happily wrapped up in your moment, you cost others untold amounts of life while waiting on you to become aware. You are:

  • The person talking on the cell phone in the grocery store blocking the entire aisle with your cart
  • Sitting in your car, digging through your purse, or reading a book at a stop light that has already turned green
  • The parent who parks their car under the covered breezeway at the daycare office and then disappears inside for 25 minutes while others pull in behind you and subsequently get blocked in until your eventual return
  • The person at the gym who has left his towel on a bench as he wanders off to use yet another machine, only returning a few minutes later annoyed that, in his absence, someone else dared move his towel and use the machine or bench
  • The person ordering eight different items from the deli counter when there is only one person working
  • NOT starting to fill out your check at the checkout, rather waiting until you receive the total to even put the date on the check or sign your name
  • Sitting in your car at a busy gas station. You finished filling your vehicle five minutes ago, but you’re too busy doing other things to bother moving your car
  • Forcing others to sit through meetings listening to a speech they’ve already heard, just so it looks like you had a good showing
  • The person on the escalator standing in the very middle so that those behind you, who don’t like to stand still, can’t get past
  • At the ATM machine, checking the balance on your five different accounts while also talking to your sister, who is also in the car. Meanwhile, the ATM is flashing, “DO YOU WANT YOUR CARD BACK” waiting on your action, which of course, you don’t notice
  • Stoned and so dimwittedly slow that you are basically of no use to anyone around you
  • Clueless to the point of not picking up on the fact that the person on the other end of your chat client, is responding to you in one or two word responses in an attempt at signifying that they are too busy to care about what happened to your neighbor’s cat
  • Driving the speed limit on a lonely road as fifteen cars pile up behind you

The rest of the world would like to ask you to WAKE UP! You are not the only person on the road, at the grocery store, trying to fix your cable bill or any number of other time-consuming tasks each of us face on a daily basis. If you can’t do this, stay home. Do your shopping from Amazon and The Home Shopping Network and generally just stay out of the way.

The rest of us thank you!

Who are you and what have you done with my child?

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image I led a secret life as a child, and still do. When I was little, I was two different people:

  • One person was the person I was around my friends. This person ran, he laughed, he played. He also spit, cursed, got in fights, fed his dog live lizards, shot innocent birds with his Red Ryder bee-bee gun (only once or twice), had a MASSIVE crush on a certain blonde girl in high school, drank too much beer on innumerable occasions, and did a multitude of other things he didn’t do at home.
  • The other person was the person who lived at home. This person was quiet. He spent hours by himself in his room listening to Jerry Clower records, mostly to provide background noise since it was otherwise unearthly quiet. Often, he listened with dread for the footfalls above him and he could tell when the person attached to the footsteps was heading for the stairs leading to the bottom floor where his room was. Generally, there were only two reasons for an adult to be heading down the stairs: 1) To go into the garage or 2) To come to either his room, or his brother’s; neither of which usually portended good things. Later, this person also attended church far more than any child, who isn’t enrolled in a brainwashing program, should have, which only further amplified his duality.

I’m all growns up now and overall, the two personalities from my childhood have gelled into one. I don’t really spit anymore, unless I’m out doing man things by myself in my boots and dirty jeans. I still curse on occasion and I laugh around others without fear of retribution.

But I must admit, I still can’t let go around some of my parents. My dad…not so much. My dad is but a shell of the cold, stern man that he was as I grew up. Now, he is a warm, giving person and I feel sad that, for so many years, he lived under the yoke of whatever it was that caused him to be that way.

My mothers though, that’s a different story. I was responding to an e-mail one of them sent me the other day and I was just typing along and wrote out the word “balls” but then I immediately backspaced and replaced it with “cajones.”

Who can’t say “balls” around their mom? Especially as a 35-year old man!

It’s kinda ridiculous when you think about it. Here I am, a (arguably) successful person. I have a family and responsibilities. I have held within my grubby little paws, some of the Top Secrets my country holds. I have two kids of my own, and somehow, despite all of this,  I can’t say the word “Balls” in front of my mom!

Is it just me? I mean, at what point, if ever, do you reach a point where you say, “Hey, you tried. Overall, you did a fine job, but here I am. A product of my environment AND my upbringing. If you don’t like it, then don’t come for Thanksgiving!”

I’ve been around other people while also around their parents and I’ve seen it go both ways. I’ve seen the ones who, like me, pretend that they never had sex before marriage and then I’ve seen those who could pour themselves a scotch from their dad’s liquor cabinet while sitting around with everyone watching Wheel of Fortune.

It’s just weird I tell ya. It’s even worse for spouses I think. I know that when my mom visits, CareerMom is so concerned over what my mom will think of her. And the funny thing is, I’m like, “Eh, don’t worry about it. You just be you and you’ll be fine. Don’t worry what she thinks.”

How’s that for screwed up?

So, come on. Fess up! Are you YOU around your folks?

Picture Phone Phriday – HR Hilarity!

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CareerMom works for a health-focused company. It is full of intelligent and supposedly responsible people. Each year, usually twice a year, these intelligent and responsible people gather in various locales to discuss managerial things and whatnot. Their days and evenings are spent crowded together brainstorming strategies and initiatives for the coming months.

As you can imagine, like monkeys in the zoo, when they are free to do as they please, it gets a little crazy sometimes.

In the last few years, at least three fairly high-placed managers have been fired over HR issues resulting from something that happened at one of these meetings. To quell such instances, the company has tried different approaches:

  • conference calls
  • ethics training
  • A “How to conduct yourself in a business setting” seminar
  • and more

Recently however, CareerMom received the following mailer at home from her company. If you’re like me, you’ll find this more amusing than informative.
Why, there are all kinds of situations where I could apply this advice and “technically” still be within the limits of acceptability according to HR. I also find its simplicity just hilarious. As if, it’s THIS SIMPLE, even when you’re drunk, to realize that you shouldn’t hit on your bosses’ wife.

Lastly, what do you do if you get to “I don’t know”? Well, you’re supposed to go ask your boss.

Love it! Enjoy!

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“I can’t stand it…I know ya planned it…”

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image Every egocentrist feels that the cosmos are out to get him or her. There’s always some grand plan by “The Gods” to screw up whatever it is that person has going on. And while I don’t believe myself to be terribly egocentric, nor do I feel that my plans have been thwarted at every turn, the older I get, the more I realize how unfair the world really is.

Of course I’ll explain.

I have a temper. Most people don’t see it, but when I was 14, I put my fist through a door in our house and told my dad I fell down the stairs. I’m not sure he bought it…in fact, knowing how wise I am now about kids, I KNOW he didn’t buy it. But all my life I’ve struggled with letting things go. I’m very competitive and I think the fact that for many years I struggled to make a name for myself in the corporate world, without a college degree, caused me to square off against other people’s stupidity–especially when I felt they were supposedly “smarter” than me.

I was penalized for that, a lot.

My last two months of the military, while working swing shift one evening, I told my duty officer that I was NOT going to do something to the network that he told me to do. It was a ridiculous order, born out of his lack of understanding of the system, and also, he didn’t know a T1 from his ass. I, on the other hand, had taught myself the ins and outs of this new technology and knew that doing what he was ordering me to do, would shut down a major comm line between the Pentagon and one of our satellite broadcasting stations. I argued with him in front of everyone else.
I lost. My commanding officer called me into his office and said (I have a very good memory for conversations): “Chris, I know you did what you felt was right, but regardless of whether it was right or wrong, you can’t just piss on the chain of command. It’s there for a reason.”
He was a cool dude and after hinting that he too thought my duty office was an idiot, sent me on home. I think it helped that I only had two months of service left, but still. There were several such instances while I was in the military, but I never had anything permanent on my record and I still received a Meritorious Service Medal when I separated (nyah, nyah, nyah nyah nyah!)

My first job out of the military was with a medium-sized global telecom company. I was the youngest guy on the team, made up primarily of guys who were perfectly happy working graveyard shift into their retirement. They were also lazy, which pissed me off. I remember another meeting with my boss:
“Chris, you have got to learn to control your temper. You’d be managing a shift already if you didn’t piss off your teammates so badly.”

The word “piss” seems to come up frequently in my life.

I say all this to illustrate that I have been penalized time and again for being outspoken. Sure, I’m not the most politically correct guy on the block. I know this. Despite being a professional wordsmith, when it comes time to suck up in an e-mail, I just can’t find the words. Recognizing my shortcoming in this area, nowadays I’ll just take the crap thrown at me, rather than poke back at the a-hole who threw it in the first place. So I’ve learned. I’ve learned that I’m either not good looking enough, or rich enough or whatever enough to get away with being a smartass. And so I put my head down, and I do what I’m supposed to do and I try not to rock the boat (too much).

But there are other people who seem to be rewarded for such behavior. For instance, if you’re…oh..say…a woman, then it’s OK to be as rude as you want to other people. “Oh, it’s just their personality.”

B.S!

If I have to play nice, they should too.

I still have a temper…oh yes I do. But I’ve learned to refocus that anger (usually) in other directions (the Internet has helped). That doesn’t stop me from soliloquizing in my head these long drawn out scenarios where I excoriate the other person in front of their peers. It helps though, that I have a family.

I think rudeness and anger are the purview of those who don’t have others relying on them.

But can someone explain to me why doctors say that stress, which raises your blood pressure, is so bad for you; yet, exercise, which also raises your blood pressure, is said to prolong your life? Aren’t they the same function really?

Go ahead, take away my Man Card

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image Men have codes. We have a LOT of codes. And the funny thing is, for a gender that has, historically at least, been maligned as little more than sex-starved warmongers, most of our codes involve things like chivalry and bravery and good stuff like that.

But, if I’m being honest, we do have codes about sex and war, so there is some fact at the bottom of all that history.

At night, I have a routine. Once the kids are in bed, I get myself cleaned up, check my e-mail and then I usually retire to bed with CareerMom where we lie in bed and watch TV (unless we have other things on our minds). Most of the time, CareerMom is good about letting me watch what I want to watch because, unless we’re engaged in witty banter, she’s usually asleep within 30 minutes anyway. So the few times that she does actually want to watch something, I give in.

And that’s how I started watching “The Bachelor” this season.

Yeah, I know, I know. Don’t start with me guys!

To be honest, there are things about this show that redeem themselves, such as the 25 beautiful women walking around all dolled up for the first few episodes. But, as time goes on, and the Bachelor sends them home one by one, the eye candy dwindles and you’re left watching some young stud try and woo these women using all of his charms.

Now one of the codes we men have revolves around how we married guys rally behind our single brethren. At the risk of sounding like a pig, it’s a bit of a “living vicariously through another” thing. Sure, I may be happily married, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate watching a master at work. Heck, I bet even Bob Ross would have appreciated watching, oh I don’t know…what’s that “Painter of Light” guy’s name?

Anyway, I’ve been mentally giving this year’s Bachelor a “You go BOY!” as he cut the list of ladies down to these last three; but last night, I must say I lost all respect for the guy. Even followers of “The Code” have a line and that line involves marriage. When you get down to the nitty gritty and you start talking marriage, then I think you have to stop and re-evaluate your actions and perhaps adopt the “other code” that we married men follow.

The Married Man’s Code:

My wife is my best friend. Her trust I shall not betray. Daily, I am tempted, but my promise is stronger than any temptation. I can look, discreetly, but I shall not touch. I respect my wife and I will not disrespect either her, or her memory, in the presence of others.

There’s more to it, but we sort of make it up as we go.

But this Bachelor guy, he’s a piece of work. Now granted, so much of this show is manufactured that it’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s not. But what IS obvious, is that this guy is a couple of dates away from asking a girl to marry him, and he’s spending the night, in the same room, with three different women. Even I can’t get behind that.

But I think what clinched it for me last night was when the second woman asked him the question: “Your house is on fire. What one thing would you grab as you ran out the door.”

I’ll pause here and ask you this question. What would you grab? Well, I’ll tell you that the first thing that came to my mind was, “my son.”

What did our Bachelor say? “My Air Jordan tennis shoes” or something like that.

I’m sorry, did you just say that you’d grab your shoes over your child? And this is after making a huge deal about family and how important they are. And while I’m bustin’ on this guy, here’s my other complaints:

  • Do you own anything other than a dark sweater and jeans? These ladies are dressed to the hilt for you and you have on your Levis.
  • OK, so you have a BA in Psychology. Still, quit staring at the girls like they are bugs. It makes them nervous and then they just start gabbing and saying stupid stuff, which you should know.

I can only imagine how the parents of these girls feel as they watch this guy, who their daughter is in love with, close the blinds on his love-nest with another women. Sheesh.

There is another code I’ve yet to mention and it goes something like this:

“R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Find out what it means to me….”

A simple sample of trickle-down-economics

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image I don’t post many political blogs. This is mainly because I know that many of my readers don’t adhere to the same political views that I do, and I don’t want to piss off the few readers I do have. But with tax time hitting and everyone trying to decide whether to do something fun with their refund, or whether to just save it, I thought I’d give a little lesson on Reaganomics–specifically “Trickle Down Economics,” which the Democrats have poo-pooed to death with this stimulus plan.

Reaganomics, in this instance anyway, is the idea that tax cuts that benefit everyone the same, actually benefit the middle class and poor the most. Now true, if you make a million dollars a year, and you save 2% on your taxes, then you’re actually getting back a heckuva lot more than someone who makes $50K per year. But let me use my own example to show how it’s not this cut and dried.

CareerMom and I do pretty well; as my family (not you “TT” or “BP”) is always quick to point out in a passive aggressive sort of way (“Wow, if I made the money you do…”). It drives me nuts because most of them also live in Timbuktu, by choice. So, while they don’t make much money, their cost of living is very low as well, so it doesn’t cost them as much. But while we do well, we still have a lot of bills, and thus, our spending cash is probably nearly the same as a family living on half what we do.

Sound odd? Let me explain.

When you make a certain amount of money, there are only a few ways in which you can keep it out of the government’s hands:

  1. Contribute the crap outta your salary into a 401K plan. The downside is, that’s cash out of your pocket every paycheck, that you won’t see for 40 years.
  2. Buy a nice house and pay the crap outta a mortgage. The downside is that, while you get to write off all that interest, it’s again, money out of your pocket every month. Plus, the utilities are HUGE!
  3. Donating to charity. The downside, again, more money out of your pocket. Sure, you get a nice “feel good” but that doesn’t pay the grocery bill!
  4. Have lots of kids. The downside is…really? I think we all know what these are.

If you’re obscenely well off, there are more ways, but these are the basic ways most people you know can save money.

I mention all of this to point out that when CareerMom and I do get a little chunk of cash back, while we’re not having to use the money to pay off the credit card that we had to use for vehicle repairs, we’re also not so flush with cash that we can just run right off to Hawaii (in fact, the only “Island” vacations we’ve been on, were to St. Thomas because CareerMom won it along with a bunch of work people, and once to the Bahamas at a very inexpensive all-inclusive–something I would NOT do again OR recommend).

With the economy where it is, it’s making even those of us with a little extra cash laying around, reconsider what to do with it. For example, with MLS (My Little Surprise) on its way, we’ll be losing our guest room. Now, we have a very large, unfinished basement, but even to convert one room and a bathroom down there will cost about 15K. Using some creative financing and with me doing a LOT of the work, we could do it, but we’re not sure we want to spend the money right now because that would completely sap us dry. So, that’s 15K NOT going into the economy.

On a much smaller scale: I was working outside the other day and a guy, who was apparently doing some pressure washing on the neighbor’s house, came over and tried to pitch me on having mine done. He was insistent that he could do it “extremely” cheaply, but I still couldn’t let myself spend that coupla hundred dollars on something that we didn’t really NEED.

So, even the small jobs aren’t getting done, and the guys who could really use the money, aren’t getting it. Having illustrated this, I’d love for the guys in Washington to show me how giving the “middle class” an extra $500-$1000 is the same as cutting everyone a tax break, which would then potentially loosen the wallets of people like us and in turn provide even more cash into the economy.

Building roads isn’t going to make me feel better about spending money. Getting GM back to work building more cars with even more gov’t requirements and standards isn’t going to make me spend any more money. And building the CDC a new, “Green” office building here in Atlanta isn’t doing a darn thing for my psyche.

No sir, there’s only one thing that will make me feel better about spending–having more to spend. Also, from me to you…a Tax Tip: If you do your taxes via TurboTax or TaxCut, don’t let them deduct the e-filing fee from your refund. On top of the regular charge, they also tack on an additional “Handling” charge. For TurboTax, it’s another $29.95 for doing nothing more than transferring money from one account to another. No, just pay for it up front with a check, or your debit card and save yourself some green!