Saturday, February 28, 2009

Stick a Fork in It

We just paid off the car loan. Hooray!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Foto Phriday - Weather Transitions

The transition from winter to spring always makes central Midwest State look dirty. When the greenery of spring finally appears, it's that much nicer, because it's clean.

Here's a picture of a pile of dirty snow in the parking lot of the building where I work.





Here's a picture of the design created on the sidewalk by a piece of salt that was put out to melt ice.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Now It Makes Sense

If you pronounce the * in Wal*Mart as de, their secret is revealed.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Crusader

Cranky Lit Prof has a rant about SofTest (maybe NSFW) over at her pad. In order to help her raise her search ranking, I'll link over to it. Hugs, CLP.

-=--=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
I'd say something about "raising the bar," but it's too soon.

The Office

We had an all-afternoon "town hall" meeting last week in a local rece center that had a theater with stadium-style seating. At the last minute, I was asked to spend five minutes recognizing the eight or so people who had achieved an academic milestone of one sort or another. At the last second, I was also asked to include the people who were part of the mentoring program in our local schools. Then, right before I went onstage, the emcee asked me to give people in the 150-person crowd a 30-second stretch break, but not to let people leave.

Because I knew that I needed to entertain the crowd, given that the first 100 minutes of the presentation were a Powerpoint on 2008 achievements, 2009 IT strategy, and some high-level information on what our new reorg might look like, I stopped at a big box store on the way to the theater so I could pick up some props. Yes, apparently, I am Corporate Carrot Top, without the scary buffness of recent years.

I have a broad-brimmed straw hat that I keep in my car in case I'm going to be outside. The sun and I don't get along really well, so I try to keep at least my face in the shade. So the hat wasn't on my shopping list. I bought some quilt batting and a roll of purple ribbon. When I got out into my car, I realized that I needed paper, but I did have a little notepad from the last time we were at a corporate off-site. I got to the theater, and I tore off bits of batting and put it in my hat. Then I rolled up pieces of paper and tied them with ribbon. My props were complete.

The meeting started, and zzzzzzzzzzz..... When it was my turn, the emcee announced, "Now GDad will do the recognition part." I got up and smuggled my props to the podium behind some papers. Then I took the microphone and went to the middle of the stage. The microphone wasn't on, so I did the testing thing.

"Testing. Testing. 1-2-3. Testing. Sibilance. Sibilance." The microphone didn't work. They gave me another one. "Testing. Testing. Testing 1. Testing 2."

The sound booth guy's voice came over the speakers. "Is the light on? Press the mute button until the light turns green." I pressed the button.

"HELLO. OK, then." There were a few chuckles. Keep in mind that this department is a combined department that has only recently begun to work together, and the theme today was "Get To Know the Management."

I decided that the 30-second stretch break would be led by a character who combined Dwight Schrute and the "I am above the law" guy from South Park. I put on my mean face and said in a sort of shrill, clipped voice, "Now is the time in the program where you will stand and stretch." There was a pause, and I heard some muttering.

I later found out that someone from the other half of the organization leaned over to one of my direct reports and asked, "Is this guy for real?"

She totally played along by rolling her eyes and replying, "Yes, unfortunately. And he's my manager!"

Nobody stood up, so I made the "stand up" gesture and yelled, "UP! NOW!" People jumped up, and the folks who came from my half of the department were snickering a little, whereas the people from the other half of the organization were uncertain whether to be amused or horrified. I continued with the shrill, clipped narration.

"Now that I have your attention, I will ask you a question, and you will respond by applause. Your question will be whether you want the basic or the deluxe version of the recognition presentation. Basic?"

There was a lot of applause. I think people interpreted this to mean "the shorter version so we can get out earlier."

"Deluxe?" Two people applauded.

"Very well. That is your loss. There was singing and dancing in the deluxe version."

My boss yelled, "Try again!"

A guy named Jason came down the aisle to leave, presumably for the restroom. I shrieked, "DO NOT LEAVE!" He stopped in his tracks. His face looked like his mom had just caught him with his hand in the cookie jar. He went back to his seat, and most people started to get it. They chuckled some more.

"Very well. We will try this again, per request. Basic?" Cricket sounds. "Deluxe?" Great applause. "Excellent."

I walked back to the podium, donned my hat, took a deep breath, let my mien change from shrill martinet to avuncular and folksy, and began singing.

Oh, I could tell you why
The ocean's near the shore.
I could think of things
I never thunk before.
And then I'd sit [cross leg over other leg]
And think some more!

I would not be just a nothin',
My head all full of stuffin', [pull batting from out of my hat and toss on floor]
My heart all full of pain.
I would dance and be merry; [do a stupid "Snoopy dance" thing]
Life would be a ding-a-derry,
If I only had a brain!

There was a standing ovation. I went back to the podium, doffed my hat, and read from my notes.

"Why, anybody can have a brain. That's a very mediocre commodity. Every pusillanimous creature that crawls on the Earth or slinks through slimy seas has a brain. Back where I come from, we have universities, seats of great learning, where men go to become great thinkers. And when they come out, they think deep thoughts and with no more brains than you have. But they have one thing you haven't got: a diploma.

"Several people in our organization have achieved a diploma in 2008... [read names and hand out the prop diplomas] And several other people have contributed to the next generation of people who will earn diplomas by contributing their time to the Project Mentor program. They are [read names]."

After the people accepted their applause, I made my closing remarks. "In closing, I'd like to remind people that the line is 'Life would be a ding-a-derry,' not 'Life would be a dingleberry,' because that would be entirely different. Back to you, Glinda."

Even if they didn't remember anything else, they'll remember the recognition part of the presentation. And, I'm sure I'm on some kind of watch list somewhere, but I don't know whether it's the good kind or the bad kind. Maybe next time, I'll arrange to be lowered from the ceiling on a wire.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Megarachnid

Here's a picture of a huge spider that was at my mom's house. Enjoy.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Hilarity

GPop and I found a new show - RuPaul's Drag Race. It's really quite funny, but I imagine the audience is fairly narrow.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Definition of the Day

As a favor to someone...

slander

A type of defamation. Slander is an untruthful oral (spoken) statement about a person that harms the person's reputation or standing in the community. Because slander is a tort (a civil wrong), the injured person can bring a lawsuit against the person who made the false statement. If the statement is made via broadcast media -- for example, over the radio or on TV -- it is considered libel, rather than slander, because the statement has the potential to reach a very wide audience.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Unknown

This is in our bathroom.


video

Friday, February 20, 2009

Foto Phriday - Travel Edition

I was in a bookstore last week, and I saw this section. Notice that the face-out books on the top shelf are for those who want to travel to China and France. The face-out on the second shelf is for those who want to travel to Arrakis.

The Board Would Like to Announce...

We just learned that our CEO and board have made a mutual decision to send the (former) CEO merrily on his way. The board has uplifted one of the super-senior on-deck guys to be the new-and-improved BMOC.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Secrets of Corporate Success

I have developed three skills that have served me very well in my career here at Mega Corporation One.

  1. The ability to read documents when they are across a desk and the text is upside down to me.
  2. The ability to yawn silently without opening my mouth.
  3. The ability to laugh silently without opening my mouth.
I highly recommend learning how to do these things.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Agony and the Ecstacy, but in the Opposite Order

We have a monthly department manager meeting that lasts from 12:30 to 5:00. In theory. Really, it gets canceled about one out of three times, and it usually runs later than that. Yesterday was the day.

At around 10:30, we received a notice that the meeting was canceled. I actually saw several managers do a happy dance, myself included in that number.

Then we received a notice that we were to have a 1:00 to 5:00 meeting. With the same people. In the same room. Covering similar topics.

It's like that Steven Wright joke: "Last night somebody broke into my apartment and replaced everything with exact duplicates... When I pointed it out to my roommate, he said, 'Do I know you?"

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Steel Coils

The seasons pass; the years will roll.

It seems like not too long ago that I remarked on the crocuses coming up in our flower beds. They're coming again.

This time, as a question. They're coming again?

This time, with panic. THEY'RE COMING AGAIN!

This time, as a slightly veiled insult. They're coming again.

This time, with an almost overwhelming sense of ennui. They're coming. Again.

And here they are.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Slip of the Tongue

We drove Son's Older Brother back to Smaller City on Saturday to visit his GF for Valentine's Day. On the way, we noticed ten (I counted on the way back.) dead skunks on the road in a 40-mile drive.

After the first few, I postulated that it must be skunk mating season, and that the frisky skunks were more active and less careful. Son's Older Brother made a remark about Pepe Le Pew.

Then he said that Foda was a big outdoorsman. "I'll ask Foda if it is skank mating season."

I replied, "Always."

"What?"

"Nothing."

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Taking Care of Business

Thursday, I got a message from our adoption contact, Jon, at the Children Services office. He told me that Son's Older Brother's foster dad (Foda) was in the hospital and that the other child in Foda's house, Jimmy, had no place to live while Foda was out. Jon asked if there was any way we could take care of Jimmy for a few days while they figured something out.

I thought this was odd. First, Son's Older Brother would also need a place to stay for a while, and it would make more sense for him to stay with us than for Jimmy to stay with us, but you act where the need is greatest. I called GPop, and we discussed for a few minutes.

Son's Older Brother has told us in the past that Jimmy is huge and has some issues with his temper that can make him kind of scary at times. However, reports are that is he is also profoundly lazy, so hosting him for a few days wouldn't be a burden if we could find a comfy chair in front of the teevee with a DVD player.

I called Jon back and left a message that we may be able to assist, but that we had some concerns about getting him to and from school (45 minutes each way, and in the opposite direction from where GPop and I work), whether he needs 24x7 supervision, and if there are any medications or special needs that we weren't aware of.

About fifteen minutes later, the social worker for Son's Older Brother called us and told us that Jon had been confused. They actually wanted us to watch Son's Older Brother. I called Son's Older Brother to let him know that I would be on my way in about an hour. He sounded a bit put out, so I told him to call the social worker for details.

A few minutes later, Son's Older Brother called back. He was very irritated that he was going to come to our house and would be unable to spend Valentine's Day with his girlfriend. The social worker had given him an earful about priorities, and he wasn't too happy to have been reminded that Foda in the hospital outweighs dinner with girlfriend.

Everyone calmed down, and I went to get him. Foda should be out of the hospital by tonight.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

People at work have been working very hard for a long time. In order to lighten the mood a little, I decided to recreate those little Valentine's bags many of us remember from elementary school. I made them for all of my direct reports and for all my peers in the department.

When I gave one to my grandboss' administrative assistant, I think I made her cry.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Foto Phriday - Phinances Edition

My new kitchen cabinets...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Said in the Office

Every time [he] tries to do something, it's like throwing a cinder block into a koi pond.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Weather Prediction

Son's school district has to make up some of the days they missed when civilization collapsed a couple of weeks ago.  One of the designated make-up days is next Monday, which they would have had off as President's Day.

Recent political nonsense has broken my irony meter, so I can only guess as to the level of irony this would be, but my prediction is that an unforeseen winter storm will cause a snow day on Monday, thereby moving the make-up day into the summer.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Celebrate

GPop and I are celebrating 16 years together this week.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Not Quite That, but Close

What's the vernal equivalent of Indian summer? This would be where the snow all melts in February, but you know that there will be yet another cold period coming soon.

Because that's what we have.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

And the Ugly

I used LinkedIn to reconnect with some old friends. One of them is from high school. I found out some years ago that he was going through some cancer treatments. Then I lost track of him. After reconnecting, I find that his doctor has pronounced him cancer-free. I hope I get a chance to see him in the near future. He's in sunny MN.

Another friend, with whom I worked in the mall in collge, just found out last week that he has terminal brain cancer. I hope I get to see him soon.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Solution

I just had an inspiration. If we genetically engineer Canada geese to survive exclusively on a diet of cigarette butts, we could solve a number of problems. Two, to be precise.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Foto Phriday

Here's a shot after a recent ice storm. This is the fruit of a neighbor's tree that hangs slightly over our fence.

The Madoff Scandal

Yes, Bernie Madoff with everyone's money. Tee hee.

Wouldn't it be great, though, if all criminals were easily identifiable by their names?

Rhonda Redlight
Rob D. Likkerstor
A. D. Mahlsenour
Peter File

I just submitted these to CarTalk.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Still a Mystery

This is where the mystery SUV was parked yesterday. As you can see, somebody painted it with invisible ink.

VRU Death

When I drive home from work, I usually get off the highway at a small road that takes me the back way home. I have to go this way, because the regional planning commission is trying to upgrade the country highway to a freeway, so they closed off the left turn onto my road a couple of years ago. It adds about mile to my commute, but it's all in the name of progress, I suppose.

Each night this week, I've noticed a dark SUV sitting in the little gravel patch that many people use as a turnaround. On Monday, I figured that someone had parked there to do some work on a fence or something, so I paid it no mind. On Tuesday, I thought that it was odd that the vehicle was there for a second day. On Wednesday, I worked much later than usual, so I was on the road well after sunset, and the vehicle was still sitting in the same spot.

I got home and decided to call our local sheriff substation so they could take a look at it if they wanted. Small Town straddles the border or two counties, and our law enforcement is handled by the Sheriff of the county with the smaller population. I called the substation, and a pleasant deputy or dispatcher answered on the second ring. I introduced myself and explained the situation. He listened, then advised me that the intersection in question was just a little bit into Capital City's jurisdiction, but he'd be happy to transfer me there.

"[crackle] You have reached Capital City Police Department. If this is an emergency, please hang up and dial 9-1-1. If you know your party's extension, please press 1. To reach a specific department, please press 2. To find out about jobs in our department, please press 3. To leave a message for the public outreach director, please press 4."

2.

"To speak to the auto impound department, please press 1. To speak to a detective about an ongoing investigation, please press 2. To speak to internal affairs, please press 3. To have an officer dispatched to your location, please press 4. To repeat this menu, please press 5."

?.

"I'm sorry. I didn't hear your response."

GPop called from the other room, "Dinner's ready!"

[click]

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

TAL Tales

I was listening to an old broadcast of This American Life the other day. It was episode #88, Numbers. In one of the acts, the host interviewed some people who created music based on the results of a poll to see what consumers liked.

When the musicians combined the musical elements that were the most popular in the poll, they got a standard pop song with not too much personality. When they combined the elements that were least popular, they ended up with an opera singer rapping about cowboys with accompaniment by tuba, accordion, bagpipe, and an organ. The song also features children singing about holidays, including Labor Day.

What fun!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Reasoning

Mega Corporation One prides itself in its community involvement both as a corporate donor and as a vehicle to exhort employees to volunteer for causes close to them. This year, I opted to mentor a child in a local school during lunch one day each week. We were told that we could Make A Difference, and that it would be Fun.

My mentee was a bit of a mystery, though. He is a tall, athletic eighth grader. He's a first generation immigrant, so he has a bit of an accent, but that's not a reason to want or need a mentor. He's in the gifted program. His family seems to be stable. The kid even has some money making things going on on the side, like selling magazines or whatever to earn prizes.

Finally, I asked him why he joined the program. He told me, "Because kids in the mentoring program get to go first in the lunch line on mentoring day."

I like this kid.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Happy Groundhog Day

Happy Groundhog Day, everyone!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Four Word Movie Review - Inkheart

Not what I expected.