Archive for December, 2006

Hot Flashes

Some quick thoughts as I take a break from churning out a final paper for my English graduate class: 

I’m not trying to be Scott Adams, but in my life of working for various corporations, I have heard quite a bit about how those corporations wanted people to “think outside the box.”  It’s a term that was beaten nearly to death a number of years ago by roaming hoards of executives who couldn’t find any paradigms to break, but I think it deserves a bit of study. 

I remember when I first heard an executive tell me that he wanted people to think outside the box.  I also remember the first thing I thought when he told me that, but unfortunately that thought isn’t suitable for a family newspaper.  My second thought, however, was that I didn’t believe the executive one bit. 

My reasoning was that quite a bit of work gets done in the box.  If everyone spent all of their time thinking outside the box, then there would be a bunch of dazed executives roaming around corporate offices tripping over stuff, and no work would actually get done.  In fact, some scientists have blamed the tech bust of 2000 on “dazed roaming executive syndrome”* 

*Ok, there are no scientists who say this, but it sounds reasonable enough. 

Anyway, my point is that while the executives were busy blowing wads of cash on wild, outside the box ideas instead of proven solutions, the rest of us were down in the box, getting things done.  We didn’t have time to think outside the box, not if we wanted to keep our jobs.  In fact, I always thought it would be fun to put on my resume, “Proven to Effectively Think Inside the Box”, but I never had the guts. 

Thankfully that cliché has fallen out of favor with executives.  They would go back to it, but it’s not a “value add”, and besides, they are too busy “establishing beachheads” and putting enough “wood behind the arrow” to create “synergy.”… 

…I recently developed a sore on my tongue.  I have no facts about where these little white spots come from, but in my heart I feel that it is somehow related to the evil that is Brussels sprouts.  That might not be a a sensible statement, since I haven’t eaten a Brussels sprout since 1984, but it’s what I believe.  Not only that, it seems unfortunate that I have to capitalize the B in “Brussels” for something I hate so deeply. 

Anyway, back to the sore:  it hurt.  So, as a good American, when something hurts I go to the drug store to solve it.  Now, I have, at least 10 previous times, gone to the drug store and purchased an oral anesthetic in the hopes that it would solve some random mouth pain that would probably go away on its own soon enough, and in those 10 times, the product has never worked.  Generally the process goes like this: 

Step 1:  Apply product to painful spot on tongue.

Step 2:  Attempt to keep tongue sticking out of mouth for an uncomfortable amount of time in the hopes that the anesthetic will dry onto the painful spot.

Step 3:  Return tongue to mouth, only to find that the anesthetic is immediately smeared onto all other portions of the mouth, rendering THEM numb (and tasting pretty gross).  Meanwhile, the painful spot, free of any annoying anesthetic, continues to send “Ouch” signals to the brain. 

So, you might be asking yourself why, then, would I go to the store to blow my cash on yet another oral anesthetic with a catchy jingle?  The answer is that I’m a slave to advertising and the oral anesthetics have some very catchy jingles. 

Needless to say, my mouth is numb and my tongue still hurts… 

…I noticed that the Red Sox signed Doug Mirabelli for another season.  The reason I make note of this is that Doug Mirabelli is not exactly my mother-in-law’s favorite player.  Knowing how she feels about old Doug, I make sure to give her a call every time he does something good; when he hits a homerun, drives in a winning run, or throws out a baserunner. 

“Did you see what your boy Mirabelli just did?  HOMERUN!” 

Yes, the fact that I do this makes me a huge and royal pain in the hind quarters, but luckily for my mother-in-law there were very few calls last season (6 homers last season to go with his .193 batting average)… 

…Finally, during a holiday season when we have military men and women deployed overseas and away from their families, I would ask that everyone take the time to include these brave people in their thoughts and prayers.  While we’re worrying about presents and finals and traffic, they’re worrying about bombs and bullets. 

In particular, please throw a prayer or two to a Clinton native, 1st Lieutenant Matthew Hohl of the Marine Corps, who is currently deployed in Al Anbar Province. 

Merry Christmas.

The Day to Day Grind Tim 22 Dec 2006 No Comments

Hot Flashes

My car smells like fish.  I was driving the car one day with my friend Duke when he turned to me and said, “Your car smells pretty bad.”  I took a moment to sniff the air and discovered that, yes; my car did smell like rotting fish.  I have no idea how I hadn’t noticed the smell before on my own. 

When I got home that night, I began the investigation, but could not find any specific part of the car that smelled like the docks. 

I washed the seats and cleaned the interior of the car, and things seemed to be better; until I used the car the next day and the odor had returned.  Since that time, the smell has randomly come and gone, and I have been unable to pinpoint the source.  I was thinking that it is probably a “Grumpy Old Men” scenario, and that one of my lovely friends has left a dead cod somewhere in my car; maybe in one of the door panels. 

After a couple of days chasing down the source of the stink, I began to smell it everywhere.  An example:  I picked a clean shirt out of the laundry, and it smelled like my car.  Now I suspect that the smell was on my clothes and that the new shirt somehow came in contact with the clothing.  Yes, I’m slowly losing my mind and I say to whoever put the stink in my car:  Well played… 

…My wife and I recently attended the Rockettes show at the Wang Theater in Boston (I realize that the theater has some new corporate name, but I’m slow to adapt).  We both enjoyed the show very much, but I noticed something that was fairly odd:  I might be wrong, but I suspect that the tap noise from the tap-dancing scenes is pre-recorded. 

The singing and speaking seems to be all pre-recorded, as does the playful banter by people like Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus.  I don’t like watching people pretend to sing (I’m not an Ashlee Simpson fan), but I can accept it because I’m there to see the Rockettes dance.  I then noticed that the sound of the tap shoes hitting the stage didn’t seem to synchronize exactly with when the shoes actually hit the stage. 

Now, it’s possible that due to the bending of light and to my advancing age, I do not see or hear as quickly as I used to, but this looked fishy to me.  It could also be that I am an incredible cynic, but I suspect that I’m just more observant than they would like their fans to be… 

…I have noticed recently that some of the fashionable women I know have taken to wearing calf-length black pants that fall just over the top of a pair of tall black boots.  It’s possible that the pants might flare out at the bottom of the leg just a little bit. 

One of my friends was wearing this outfit to a party recently and I took it upon myself to point at her and say, “Star Trek pants!” 

She looked to be highly offended and a bit confused, so I tried to explain that the way that her pants fell over her boots looked like the fashion that the characters on the original “Star Trek” series wore.  She didn’t start to smile, so I continued to explain that the characters on that show wore black pants and boots that seem to resemble her outfit and that it was funny how styles came back around.  I tried to imply in my explanation that she was wearing a style that had come back, not that she was, in fact, a “Star Trek” geek. 

I don’t think she bought it.  I know for a fact she didn’t smile.  It would not surprise me in the least if she went straight home and burned her calf-length pants. 

My wife will tell you that I’m quite a bit of fun at parties… 

…I work in customer service, so I don’t have much patience with poor customer service experiences, but I don’t blow up at the people providing me with the poor service, I simply try not to do business with their companies again. 

As an example of this, I recently called a major cruise line company – let’s call it “Festival” – and attempted to buy a gift certificate for a friend.  My friend and her husband are taking a Festival cruise, and I wanted them to receive the gift certificate when they got to their cabin.  Festival would get my money, my friends would get some free booze, and I would feel good about the whole thing; everybody wins, right? 

I knew the passengers’ names, and the name of the cruise line, and the date that their boat was sailing.  This was apparently not enough information. 

First of all, the Festival employee responded to every one of my questions with a deep sigh, and it was fairly clear that I was interrupting an important game of FreeCell.  The employee told me that without a booking number, it would be impossible to have the gift certificate in my friends’ room. 

I explained that to ask for a booking number would be to ruin the surprise and asked if they might have some way of searching for my friend by her name? 

Sigh, no.  

Perhaps by the date of the cruise? 

Sigh, no, that’s not possible (the “please just hang up” was implied). 

I then decided that, rather than argue with this person, I would simply have the certificates mailed to me directly.  This resulted in more sighing and typing, but when I gave the employee my last name, she was able to pull up all of my information.  You see, I had previously taken a Festival cruise. 

Again, perhaps there is a reasonable explanation, and perhaps I’m just an incredible cynic, but I would think that if they could pull up my information just with my last name, then they could pull up my friends’ information.  I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t just that the person on the phone just didn’t WANT to help me, but it sure sounded that way.  Sigh.

The Day to Day Grind Tim 15 Dec 2006 No Comments

Hot Flashes

This past November, radio stations in the area changed their format and began playing nothing but Christmas music.  Almost every retail store took down their Halloween decorations and replaced them with Christmas decorations.  This entire “eat your figgy pudding in November” movement has rendered Thanksgiving as just a speed bump on the way to Christmas. 

In protest of this, I have decided to begin celebrating Halloween on September 4th.  Beginning that day, I will wear a different costume every day, and whenever I see someone on the street I will be sure to wish them a happy Halloween.  I will decorate my house with witches, ghosts, and goblins, and I will continually play the same Halloween songs over and over again.  Whenever a child walks past my house, I will be sure to rush out and give them candy. 

If I were to follow through with this plan, I would likely be locked up and divorced by the time Halloween actually arrived… 

…I recently started a new job.  At my old job, where I was for 6.5 years, I had an office, and before the office, I had a window cube that was nice and private.  Now, as the “new guy”, I have a cube that is front and center and anyone at all can see what is on my gigantic computer screen simply by looking up.  It’s unsettling. 

It’s not that I’m going to be going to adult websites or anything, but I’m just not used to people knowing when I take 5 minutes to check my fantasy football team or watch a video on YouTube.  The result of my new seat assignment is likely to be that I will spend less time on those sites and more time actually working.  I’m sure that my new company will be happy about that development, but it sure isn’t going to help me win any games in fantasy football… 

…I would like to go on the record and say that I will be upset if the Red Sox get rid of future Hall of Famer Manny Ramirez, just as I was upset when they got rid of Future Hall of Famers Roger Clemens, Wade Boggs, and Pedro Martinez. 

Sure, perhaps the Sox will get some future star in return for Manny, but history tells us that this rarely happens.  What is more likely is that the Red Sox will deal him for some prospect(s) who will not pan out while some other team gets to deal with the “headaches” that Manny brings to the table (see:  .300 average, 30-40 HR, 120+ RBI). 

The Red Sox seem to be planning for JD Drew to replace Manny in the lineup.  If history serves, this will mean that instead of watching Manny jog to first base after clubbing line drives into the gap, we will get to see some backup player hit while Mr. Drew languishes on the disabled list. 

To sum up:  Keep Manny.  As long as they do that, I would be happy to see JD Drew in a Red Sox uniform… 

…I have a complaint for television executives everywhere:  If you tell me to stay tuned for more of the show I’m watching, when I stay tuned I expect to see more of the show I’m watching.  Not credits.  Not the production company’s logo – even if it is a takeoff of a scene from Jaws.  Not some essay that requires a pause of the DVR to read.  If you promise me more of the show, give me more of the show; even if it’s just Earl and Randy lying in bed, postulating on why people start celebrating Christmas in November.

The Day to Day Grind Tim 08 Dec 2006 No Comments