Sunday, May 30, 2004

Solemn Oath

I will never again let money be the driving force of any choices I make in life. If my family can eat, can get medical care, and has shelter, I have everything I need. I will not let money guide me.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Anonymity

One of the blogs I read is Letters of Marque. It is written by Heidi Bond (who coincidentally went to the same undergrad school as me at about the same time as me, but I don't think we ever ran into each other). She writes about anonymity and blog publishing several times. I am still undecided about doing this in the shadows or not. Those of you who know me, don't blow my cover until I out myself. I'm down with Ms. Bond when she says the worst thing is not getting credit. Hmmm... No one knows about my blog yet anyway, so maybe it will never matter.

Friday, May 28, 2004

The Trash Digging Man

I was reminded last night of a story about the man who my mother married. This is not my biological father, nor is this the man I consider my father. I consider Lt. Gov. Benson DuBois (played by actor Robert Guillaume) to be my father – or at least my father figure. Anyway, so this man my mother married (we’ll call him Madame Creepy. Yes, him – Madame) so, Mme. Creepy has this job working for CompanyX fixing cash registers. Cash registers these days are really just specialized computers and Mme Creepy has dedicated his life to the pursuit of cash-register-fixing-excellence and Dick Tracy trading card collecting (quite a bold and productive humanitarian). Mme. Creepy doesn’t work at an office, rather he is sent out on calls from his home to various businesses around town. One such client of CompanyX is a convenience store/gas station chain called 7-11. Turns out that Mme. Creepy is sent to a 7-11 one day around (oddly enough) 11am. He comes into the store to size up the problem (undoubtedly a plug out of the wall or a monitor simply turned off) and what does he see? Well, to his horror (and latter to his delight) he sees one of the 7-11 employees discarding several uneaten breakfast sandwiches. The employee is simply tossing all the sausage biscuits, egg biscuits, chicken biscuits, etc into a trash can. Mind you, this is a gas station. These are gas station breakfast sandwiches. Breakfast sandwiches a slight cut above doorstops. These are sandwiches where the alleged ‘egg’, ‘sausage’, ‘chicken’, and ‘biscuit’ exist in name only, are probably pressed from the same ‘processed food stuffs’ which makes up potted meat, pressed beef, wax lips, and engine lube. This is food hardly suitable for human consumption, and surely food that would be turned away at the local food bank or homeless shelter. Yet Mme. Creepy is filled with shock and awe upon seeing the dutiful 7-11 employee indiscriminately dump these environmental hazards into a trash receptacle. I would also like you to keep in mind that Mme. Creepy is an agent of his company. He is acting in a professional capacity as the face of CompanyX. CompanyX is a service company. Their employees should be, at all times, among other things, clean, courteous, knowledgeable, and, again, professional. I’m not sure if it happened the first time he saw the sandwiches in the trash, but I do know this: Mme. Creepy began to schedule visits to the various 7-11’s at 11am-ish nearly every day. Sometimes there was a problem with their cash registers, sometimes he purported to be “checking up on things”, but every time he concluded his visit by rifling through their trash and retrieving the breakfast sandwiches. Imagine the scene. You call CompanyX, with whom you have a contract for service. CompanyX is a big company, well known, highly touted in the industry. They send a professional service technician. You expect the technician to have some tools, discover the problem quickly, and take the necessary steps to rectify the issue. When the technician comes in, you imagine he might try a little small talk, but then get right down to work. After the problem is fixed, the technician leaves a receipt of service and off he goes. However, not this time. Instead of fixing the problem and heading out the door, this person proceeds directly to your trash cans. “Where are they? Where are they?” He is heard mumbling lowly as he flips through discarded lottery tickets, mustard packets, discarded gum, tissues, and phlegm. “Bingo!”, he declares. He retrieves two, maybe three, five hour old, crusty, putrid breakfast sandwiches and makes haste for the door. Truly a professional and a credit to CompanyX.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Can't sleep - Pelicans

I have not been sleeping well at all. I have so many things buzzing around in my head: school, work, wife, friends, family, money, health. Usually I will toss and turn for hours on end because my mind won’t take a damn nap. Of course, it isn’t that I’m getting anything resolved. However, last night was the worse night yet. I don’t know how or why, but all I could think of in the wee hours of the morning was if pelicans drank salt water or not. Not if they simply ingested it on occasion, but if this was their main means of hydration. And what of other sea birds? Penguins and osprey and whatnot. I was quite concerned with the pelicans. I never see any near fresh water, but can birds drink salty water? It seems like it would kill them. A pelican takes quite a bit of water into its mouth (beak?), but I think it pushes it out, right? It just eats the fish. All night I tossed and turned thinking, consciously some, unconsciously other, about these damn pelicans. And what of the penguins?

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Science Museums Generally Suck

Wow! I went to MOSH (Museum of Science and History) in Jacksonville this weekend. What a crock of crap! $7 bucks to get into this dank, carpet covered walls, hell hole. This place is a freakin' racket. There were about 5 rooms in total (including the planetarium). The biggest (as in the most extravagant) display was a life size sculpture of a right whale. When you pushed some buttons a light would shine on the whale in various spots to show you where its brain, heart, spine, and lungs were. Man, it sucked. They had a model of some sort of dinosaur as well. When you pressed its button, a speaker hidden among the fake plants would let out a roar. Did the fossil remains of these great creatures leave records of what their voices sounded like. Maybe they just clicked or sounded like car horns. They claim to have members of this place? "Are you a member, sir?" Horseshit! A few weeks back I went to Atlanta's Fernbank Museum of Natural History. This place wasn't nearly as dank, but it had many glaring errors in its displays (displays which can be best described as having come from the little toy machines at the front of grocery stores - crappy plastic crap). One such error was in their pathetic display of the creatures of the Cambrian Period. They showed the Hallucigenia Sparsa upside down. It was walking on its spiked back with its little millipede like legs dangling from its upside down stomach. Kids look at this stuff (when not pressing buttons), and should be told the truth. Same goes for grown-ups too, I guess. But hey, if you don't know which way is up on a Hallucigenia Sparsa - well, you may be too far gone already. They also had a display of the "Cycle of the Swamp". A sign said : Wait 4 minutes in this room to experience the complete cycle. The lights in the room would get lighter, then darker, then lighter again. That was it! That was the cycle! A bunch of stuffed animals getting lighter and darker. Wow. What a bunch of crap. I refuse to go to anymore science museums. They are for morons.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Rowing to Sri Lanka

Poor V-Diddy. I work in the telecom industry, and it is very volatile right now. I decided about a year ago to go to law school, so it isn't the current state of things which made me take the plunge, but had I not a plan, I would be seriously considering alternatives right now. One of the guys I work with is an H1B. This means he has permission to work in the U.S. and can stay here as long as he is employed. This guy is more American than many people I know. It isn't that he is patriotic or anything, it is just that he has that American Dream: Money, Merchandise, and Models. He would die if the company laid him off and he really did have to go back home - Sri Lanka. We care about him, but have been having a great deal of fun at his expense. Another co-worker in our little crew of wandering souls, 'J', does the best impression of V-Diddy rowing himself back to Sri-Lanka. He sits in a lab chair with wheels (we work in a testing lab with static floors - smooth) and pushes himself backwards while making the motion of a guy holding two oars and rowing. He has a sad look in his eyes as he watches America fade away. Cruel? Yes. Funny? Hell yes! This got us on an hour long tangent about rowing across the Atlantic. J claimed that some one had swam transatlantic. I called J the dumbest person on Earth, because that was ridiculous. He then found the guy on the web. Turns out he swam the distance, for sure, but got onto a boat every night to eat and sleep. I think that is cheating. Rowing, however, has been done by many people. It seems to take anywhere from 60 to 80 days if you are rowing solo. There is a competition every year. However, these guys aren't going to Sri Lanka. We looked at the ocean currents and decided that through the Panama Canal - then above Australia - then Sri Lanka was his best bet. They probably don't allow passage of little, one man, rowboats through the Panama Canal, so V-Diddy is going to have to sit out in front of the canal until a ship he can use for cover needs passage. He can just row up along the side of the boat where no officials will be looking (the left side I think). Then home sweet home. Although we all pretty much agree that he will be shot to death once getting to Sri Lanka by some Tamil separatists. Good luck, Buddy. Don't forget to charge up your i-pod real good.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

The Holes In By Big Fat Mouth

So I got my wisdom teeth removed last week. I had all four taken out. It seems all but one of the little fellas was out and about. The other guy was impacted. Before the operation, I asked the nurse (?) if she would save the teeth for me. She recoiled in horror. “It’s biohazard, you know?” She asked, still crinkling up her nose. “Okay, well, that’s fine since it’s only my own biohazard.” I replied. “Just put them in a napkin and slip them to me. I promise not to use them as a weapon or anything.” I sat there and thought about her reaction. Was this such a strange and grotesque request? I thought this was standard fair in the dental world. Was this some long since dead tradition she knew nothing of? They are teeth. People save teeth. Right? I wasn’t asking for my gangrene lower leg. I didn’t want to bring home my brain tumor, or my bum heart in a jar. “Oh my god...” I thought to myself. “This woman is repulsed by me now. As soon as I pass out, she’s going to probably snap my picture and send it off to the county sheriff or FBI. What am I going to do with them anyway? I don’t need them. Maybe I can save this!” So, what would you say to save yourself? ‘Just joking’ perhaps? ‘Save my teeth? Did I say that? Must be the nitrous oxide speaking!’ maybe? Or how about what I said: “Yeah. My mom really wants them!” WHAT???? My mom really wants them! What the hell was I thinking? Now I’m some sicko mama’s boy. She probably thinks I live at home with Mommy and still believe in the Tooth Fairy. My mom wants them! What the hell for? Mercifully, a few seconds latter, it was lights out. After the operation she handed me a novelty molar case. About a 5 inch high little container shaped like a molar. The sole purpose of this container is for people who request their teeth. So what the heck was her problem? Why did she make such a big issue out of it if they have special containers for these things. What a whacko! The procedure (I hate calling it surgery or an operation – I know I did above – but really, they just pulled a few big honkin' molars from my face – and sliced open the gums to get the shy one) – anyway, the procedure left me with four fleshy craters in my mouth. These bled for 48 hours straight, but filled with no noticeable clot. Now I spend the bulk of my day digging in these gummy caverns. It feels like I can fit an entire head of cabbage into each hole. All day long bits of food from two day old meals drop down onto my tongue. It is vile. Tomorrow I go back for my follow up appointment where they give me a pointy syringe to shoot the food out. I can’t freaking wait!

Monday, May 17, 2004

Waning While Waxing

This first paragraph is a bunch of bunk, but read on for work stories: With only 10 weeks left it looks like I am really leaving this place. Sweet. It is one thing to say your are going to change the direction of your life, another thing to really want to change the direction of your life, yet another thing to plan to change the direction of your life, yet another thing to enact the plan to change the direction of your life... you understand what I'm saying, right? I'm saying 10 weeks before I see if I am really, really, really, going through with this (sure I've sold my house, paid my tuition deposit, sent the wife down already as a scout), but I'm always thinking I might back out. Work Stories: Man we waste a lot of time here, and we are paid good money too. It has become commonplace to see people chatting in the same location for several hours. We have dates to get our work done that are ridiculously long. And which always slip out even further. This works to everyone's advantage. I'll let you figure out how: * Managers know there is only a finite amount of work to be done, but they like to have a good deal of people underneath them. * Testing can work up until a point, then the ball is in development's court. * Development has to wait for testing to tell them what isn't working. * All the people above like reading email and surfing the web. It has gotten really bad as of late. Morale is low, stock is lower. Last week a co-worker and I spent a good part of the morning taking apart a lab chair and reassembling it upside down. The headrest and the armrests are now under the seat. It is quite a work of art and I think it helped to boost the lab's morale for a few moments. I think people who sit it feel happier as well. I know I grin when I see it.

The Sad Fact of the Matter...

I now have roughly 10 weeks left at my current job. It has been a great 3 plus years here. I have met a good group of people which, I'm sure, I'll keep in contact with at least one if not as many as two of them. Actually, of any of this I can not be sure. Every stage of my life I seem to meet a 'really great group of people', but rarely do these contacts persist in a weekly or even monthly basis when that stage comes to an end. I still keep in touch with people from each of these stages, but sometimes with years separating communications. I smile when I think about these people and the time we shared, and I know they do too, but without the here and now, there isn't too much to say. More than that, I regret the people I didn't spend any time with outside of work. There are a few people that I really enjoyed interacting with at work, but never tried to do anything outside the walls of this building. I guess the good part of that is: less people to feel bad about keeping in touch with.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

No Place to Study! Damn Old Man!

Since I'm living in prison, I need to find a place to study. Yeah, study without even having started school. I have picked up some primers for the first year's courses so I'll have a decent understanding of the subject matter before starting. Some people think this is overkill, but it makes me sleep better. So where can I go to study? Starbucks, of course. $3.50 is a great price to pay for a relatively quiet, clean, and climate controlled environment. I have had much success at good old 'Bucks... until today. I usually pick the table most out of the way. The corner table, right up against a window. It's both good for me and good for Starbucks (the studious person is something I think they strive for). This leaves copious amounts of seating choices between myself and the other people who come in to chat or read or whatnot. I usually have quite a buffer zone before me. However, this safety zone is all based on an unwritten rule of social law. The same law that requires men not to stand next to each other in bathrooms if other urinals are available - the same rule that requires the last shared potato-skin to go uneaten when dining with acquaintances - the same rule that requires you to wipe the mouth of a bottle before passing it along to some one for a sip, to save the person the embarrassment of having to wipe it themselves, insinuating that you may be, somehow, impure (what, never heard of this one? Hmm, strange). Well, fine, we all know these rules (for the most part) save for one class of people who are slowly (I mean slowly quite literally here) finding their way into Starbucks. The over 70 crowd (crowd may not be so literal here, since at that age they seem to congregate in groups less and less). Today, although nearly all the seats in my Starbucks were available, old Joe Blow Octogenarian decides that he has to park it right next to me. I'm sure the thought crossed his mind to, perhaps, even share the same table (stemming from the depression and war era, no doubt - waste not want not). The mere act of sitting next to me when there were plenty of other choices isn't so bad. I can live with that. And the sinus clearing odor of Aspercreme wasn't the problem (it was muted by the coffee scents in the air)... rather it was the constant snorting and coughing that my age accelerated friend felt the need to do which bothered me. Every 2 seconds an immense snort would start deep in his chest and find its way out through his large nose several seconds thereafter. This, pleasantly, was always followed by a raspy, wet, hack. How wonderful! Thank you Grandfather Phlegm. I wonder at what age I will decide that ‘bathroom things’ are no longer necessarily for me to do in the privacy of the washroom, but should now be done in public so that all might enjoy. I understand that this gentleman doesn’t need to impress anyone, but to be so brazenly inconsiderate of those around him; those clearly immersed in study – I think perhaps he was trying to pick a fight with me. I can see the headline: Former Future Law Student Beats Kindly Old Man to Death With Half Drunk Cup of Chai Tea Latte. Studying is over for now.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Work, and the jerk-asses who try to steal credit...

I am a helpful guy. And, quite frankly, I know a lot about what I do. If people call me and ask for help, I'll do my damnedest to give it. However, when people start to take credit for my work, then I start to become stingy. This makes the person very angry - they say I'm uncooperative - but they can't get too out of hand because they need me. If they try to pry info from me via my 'manager', I just use the wonderful little phrase: "I don't remember." or "Hmmm, sounds familiar - I'll go check my email to see if something rings a bell." Of course, for these greedy jerks, I can never fully recall the issue at hand. "Sorry" A word of advice to you insecure jerk-ass people who steal credit for other's time and efforts: Go out of your way to credit others when they help you (I know this sounds crazy, but please read on). This will serve your desires for your own praise and recognition on three fronts. First, the people who help you will be more inclined to continue to help (and sometimes to a larger degree) because they know the work they do will be appreciated and recognized. Second, you look like a swell guy to those around and above you. A real team player, modest, gracious. The people around and above you will feel less threatened by you, and will be less inclined to want to see you fail. Third, you get the information you need to finish whatever the project is at hand. This shows people that you can leverage all the resources available to you and get the job done in a timely and efficient manner. Not many people remember who gave the important bit of info that cracked the case, they remember the guy who lead the effort - they remember you. Those above you, responsible for your raises/promotions don't want to be babysitters. They look good when the people below them are doing well. I have never had this blow up in my face. Only good has come to me when I have given proper credit where credit is due. It really works. Give it a try. Jerk-ass.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Money, money, money...

Yesterday my bosses bosses boss called me. He asked me to stay on in a new position for more money. I thought this might happen, and was kind of sad it hadn't happened yet. When it finally did happen I didn't feel happy at all. I felt conflicted. I wanted to make more money, I wanted to have an office... I am good at my job and I wanted to be recognized. But, in the end, I want mostly to be true to myself. Staying here is not what would be best for me in the long-run. But another trip to Europe sure would have been nice.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Prison!

So we closed on our house just about two weeks ago, but I have 3 months left at work. Where am I going to live? Milton's. Milton is an Asian guy who I met in college, and who ended up living with me (and the wife) in my house. He is a little miniature replica of a man... more of a man-child. He weighs in at about 125lbs, has a waist of maybe 27 or 28 inches and a chest span of about the same. Think of a really thin tube of toothpaste. He bought his last suit in the children's department of some department store. (Update: He did purchase a suit a few weeks ago from a 'Men's Store' but they had to dig up some outfit they rented to a movie producer. The producer was making a film called: Brother P.I. It was about a middle-class family who adopt a chimp, which in turn becomes a private investigator. The P in P.I. stands for primate and the suit was his costume. They still had to take in the jacket a few inches to fit Milton properly). Anyway... So I decide to change my life. I decide to leave this nice, cushy, world of the engineer (a term so loosely related to anything concrete that anyone with a degree can one way or another call themselves an engineer - I have a computer science degree) and become a poor college student again. I have a good job, and I have done well for myself in the short amount of time I've been here (just under 3 and 1/2 years), but I never dreamed of doing this, I never desired to be what I've become, and damn it, I want more for myself and my family (family = me + Wife). Back to Milton. So Milton was living with us for a year and a half. He had a sweet set-up. A bedroom of his own and a room downstairs to watch TV, play on the computer, read a book (I've never actually seen him read though, but the option was there). He had his own bathroom too. All for CHEAP $$$$... So we break the news to him, that we will be placing the house on the market, and that he needs to start looking for a place - AND - it may be that I will have to live with him for a few months should the house sell in a timely manner. Okay? Okay. Can you guess what Milton does for the next 3 months? Absolutely nothing! He just mopes around the house as usual, sleeping all day long, and never looks for a place to live. So, the weekend before we are moving, he finally goes out to find a place. THE SMALLEST FREAKING APARTMENT WHICH CAN LEGALLY BE CALLED AN APARTMENT AND NOT A STORAGE SPACE!!!!!!!!!!! And then he has the nerve to get all pissy when I remark how small it is that, "It was the best I could do in the time I had." Really? I guess some how the time he had shrunk from 3 months to 3 hours. That's fine. I've learned long ago not to much faith in anyone but myself. So now I sit in prison. A little spec of an apartment in which I throw down a mattress each night which takes up 86% of the livable floorspace in the livingroom (the only room besides his own bedroom, which he doesn't retire to until about 12:30 each night). I hope he enjoyed the two bedroom one bath setup we provided for him over the last year and a half. No kind deed goes unpunished.