Captain Quirk

30 01 2008

Let it be known that I in NO way believe in or participate in chain letters, dumb email forwards that tell you you’ll make millions if you forward it to just 4,000 of your friends, or signing petitions to try to get Carson Daly off the air. I’m too much of a loner for those types of things. I certainly hate playing phone tag. However, when your own captivating wife tags you, what are you to do but play along?

The rules are:
* link to the person who tagged you
* post the rules on your blog
* share six non-important things/ habits/ quirks about yourself
* tag at least 3 people at the end of the post and link to their blogs
* let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog

1. I am very, very good at remembering things that I need to take with me to work, or to someone’s house, etc. I do this by stopping and going over mental notes about what I might need at my destination. The kicker is that I don’t ever remember to do this until I’m already out the door or in my car. This results in FREQUENT trips back into the house (or office, or wherever I’m leaving). It annoys those around me and myself.

2. I still really like the rock band, Dokken (still around but most popular in the 80s). When a song of theirs comes on my MP3 player, I mention to my daughter that George Lynch is the best guitarist ever. She (being 2) sounds very cute trying to say George Lynch. I’m guessing she’s the only 2-year-old in the world (not related to George Lynch) who says this.

3. I love overnight talk radio if having a bout of insomnia. I keep the radio and headphones very near my side of the bed.

4. I think a good portion of social work/counseling ideas are crap and not realistic. This wouldn’t be so quirky if I wasn’t a mental health counselor myself.

5. I worry about tsunamis when I go on vacation anywhere near the ocean.

6. I worry about really big tsunamis even when not anywhere near the ocean.

I tag the following (I will NOT be removing any of you from my blogroll if you don’t do this blog):

Molly Mac

Romi

Paper Spoons

There are others I like just as much, and if this tag thing ever happens again, you’re next! (Yes, you. Don’t look behind you…I’m talking to you. You, with the keyboard.)





When Women and Men Collide in the Workplace

15 01 2008

(Disclaimer: This blog is not as serious as it sounds in the first couple of paragraphs; read on at your own risk).

Raging debate about women’s equality and their desire to work full time was a significant part of the early to mid 70s. I am (barely) old enough to remember this time, and it seemed, from a kid’s perspective, that people were in an uproar. For example, the television show, One Day at a Time, about a divorced mother of two who was struggling to balance family and career, was widely watched and considered controversial. I liked the show, as did my mom and dad, though my dad seemed uneasy about some of the subjects it tackled. It was representative of the time in which we were living.

I was probably about eight years old and, therefore, had very little say in the matter. Nonetheless, I did not understand what was so radical about these ideas. It seemed simple to me; women should be able to work the same kind of jobs as men (despite the fact that I had the greatest stay-at-home mom in the world).

I still recall mustering up all my kid wisdom and saying to one of my older sisters, “I believe men and women should be equal. Women can go to work if they want.” Her response was something like, “Yes, but women also still want men to take care of them.” This 1970-something statement served as my initiation into the conundrum that is the role of modern man. Ladies, this making sure we treat you as equals but still taking charge when you want us to is a tricky task. It is a lot like juggling with jars of sulfuric acid. Sure, we look like studs when we do it correctly, but when we mess up, we get severely burned. Balancing masculine/feminine duties is daunting. One can get a bit confused trying to talk about the big game with a guy at a store while holding the wife’s purse, a diaper bag and a pink sippy cup, but I digress.

Decades passed, and women are now all over the workplace. I want to say up front that I love and admire women, and it goes without saying that they are excellent workers and have made major contributions. This blog, however, is not so much about the serious debates, contributions, and rights of women as it is the daily life changes to the culture of the workplace since women became so integrated into it.

Some of these feminine changes at the office have been positive. For example, farting contests at work have been decreased dramatically. The workplace smells much better. I venture to guess there were no “Vanilla Nutmeg Forest” candles in offices in the 1950s.

Also, we don’t have to listen to as many “weekend conquest” stories from guys who are habitual liars. With women actually living and breathing at work, it becomes easily apparent which guys are NOT “lady killers.” This keeps the poor saps from even trying to lie anymore.

On the other hand, some changes to the office culture are a little more disturbing. Below are work scenarios and the most likely male and female responses to them.

Scenario 1: There is some sort of weird, low buzzing sound on one side of the office, possibly coming from a computer server or some sort of light. The buzzing is especially close to one particular cubicle.

Male Response: The guy thinks, “Hmm, that’s weird.” Then, he gets used to it in about 45 seconds and never really notices it again. Every once in awhile, a coworker delivers a memo and says, “what’s that buzzing?” The guy says, “What buzzing?”

Female Response: The woman gets very perturbed about the sound and complains about it to coworkers during most lunches and breaks. She asks that a subcommittee be formed to look into the sound, which is “like a freight train.” After nothing is done for a full month, she comes to the conclusion that her cubicle is the one closest to the buzzing because so-and-so colluded with the boss to place her there. She pictures so-and-so and the boss having a good laugh about it behind the closed door of the boss’ office. Henceforth, she no longer includes so-and-so when she forwards emails of various cute babies making cute faces.

Scenario 2: Someone in the office has a birthday.

Male Response: If a man accidentally becomes aware that it is a coworker’s birthday, his response will likely be concise. After slapping the birthday boy on the back, he will say, “45 years old, huh? Get a prescription for Viagra yet?” Then, they go about their day.

Female Response: Once someone (female) is appointed to run the birthday festivities, that person goes around the office asking everyone to chip in a few bucks to pay for the birthday worker’s lunch. Everyone is instructed to meet at Applebee’s (the birthday person’s favorite restaurant) at precisely 11:20 so as to beat the crowd and obtain a large table or booth with ease. Also, a few women huddle in a cubicle to work out who should drive and who should ride with whom. This is very complicated and delicate because Worker B is still angry at Worker F because Worker F did not order any candy bars when Worker B’s kid was selling them for a cheerleader fundraiser. This is especially troubling to Worker B because Worker B bought two tubs of “Extreme Mint Mountain” cookie dough when Worker F’s kid was having a soccer fundraiser. Charts are literally designed to ensure that everyone is comfortable with the riding-to-Applebee’s situation.

Scenario 3: Worker A discovers that his/her paramour used to date one of Worker A’s coworkers.

Male Response: There will likely be cursing and quite possibly a punch or two. Approximately 24 hours later, the two guys become friends and grab a beer at a nearby sports bar.

Female Response: After she severely scolds her boyfriend by phone for ever even thinking about that “fat skank” in a romantic way, she begins an all-out silent treatment against the “skanky” coworker who once went out with her boyfriend. The treatment lasts at least two months and is interrupted only by an occasional email, such as, “Trish, I would appreciate it if you would stop taking all the multi-colored post-its from the supply closet. I am stuck with the yellow ones, and they hurt my eyes. Thanks in advance, Caroline.” This goes on as long as the relationship with the boyfriend lasts. Once that ends, Trish and Caroline become fast allies and spend breaks talking about the various ways in which the boyfriend is inadequate.

Scenario 4: A client calls and tells off Worker A before proclaiming that he is taking his business elsewhere.

Male Response: He throws a paperweight across the room while stating that he is sorry the client “feels this way.” He then gives the “finger” to the phone receiver before hanging up. After a couple of audible “F” bombs, he regroups and decides to try harder with his remaining clients.

Female Response: She acts as though it does not bother her…for awhile. At the ten-minute mark, however, she breaks down in tears by the coffee maker. The other women in the office gather in the break room for support (no doubt after urgent “meet us by the coffee maker/something’s wrong with Trish” emails make the rounds). They remind Trish what a great worker she is. At some point, Trish sobs through her tissue something unrelated to work, such as, “I can’t believe I ate four Oreos last night. I’m supposed to be dieting!” There is agreement all around that Oreos are devilishly irresistible.

The workplace has certainly changed over the years. Despite some of the weirdness, the change was needed. After all, if women have to put up with discrimination and living in a society that has a need for battered women’s shelters, then we still have a long way to go. Plus, they have to wear pantyhose at least some of the time. I suppose guys having to put up with some strange female work culture is not that much of a hardship. You go, girl, and here’s $3 for the next birthday lunch.





How Well-Rounded Are You?

6 01 2008

Don’t misunderstand the title. This is not a ploy disguised as a blog to get women to post their measurements (if you feel you must, I guess I won’t stop you. No guy measurements, please, though my wife might enjoy). Instead, this is a survey. How many of the following 40 things have you done? I’d like to see the answers of others, and feel free to copy this survey.

Have you:

1. Been to a play: Yes, many. This is one of my favorite things to do. I enjoy professional plays, but I also enjoy seeing a high school play once or twice per year at my wife’s alma mater.

2. Bungee jumped or something similar: Only if climbing up on a garage roof is “something similar.” I’m more of mental thrill seeker than a physical one. Sports is probably the closest I ever got to “danger.”

3. Been a mentor/big brother/big sister: Sort of. I do this in my work, but I don’t think I ever did this on a volunteer basis. It’s an awesome thing, though.

4. Read at least one of the classics (War and Peace, The Great Gatsby, The Red Badge of Courage, Beowulf, Crime and Punishment, etc): Yes. Off the top of my head: Beowulf, Wuthering Heights, Gulliver’s Travels, and Macbeth.

5. Stood up for someone publicly: Yes. I remember coming to the aid of a kid who was being bullied a couple of times.

6. Been on a major roller coaster: No thank you.

7. Been to a drive-in movie: Yes, quite a few times. This is one of the best things to do on a nice summer night. They are really dying out so if you have one near it, give it some business.

8. Done something at a drive-in movie other than watch the movie: Sadly, I don’t think so. I guess I like movies too much!

9. Done volunteer work: Yes, but I am ashamed to say that I haven’t really done that much. A few things for church and once delivered Thanksgiving meals to those in need.

10. Given at toast a wedding, a eulogy at a funeral, or some similar, meaningful speech: Yes on the toast, and I think a yes on the eulogy. It wasn’t officially the eulogy, but that’s basically what it was.

11. Been to a major sports playoff game: Yes. St. Louis Cardinals game 1 of NLCS against the Mets (in 2000, I believe.) My Cardinals lost that game and the series :( Also some time in the early 90s, I think, I was at the sweet sixteen regional in St. Louis. I believe the teams involved were Kansas, Indiana, California (Jason Kidd), and Louisville.

12. Thrown a costume or theme party: Yes, my wife and I had a blast hosting several couples for a murder mystery party that had a 50s theme. I recommend this!

13. Been on or near the set of a major motion picture: Nope. I missed my chance in the 80s. A good portion of A League of Their Own was filmed where I grew up. Tom Hanks, etc were there for quite awhile. I never got in on being an extra, though.

14. Taken a compliment well: I think so at some point. This is difficult though, isn’t it?

15. Planted a tree: Yes, about a year ago (a river birch).

16. Been stung by a jellyfish or something similar in/near the ocean: Yes. Jellyfish got me several times on vacation last year. There was a major explosion of them where we were!

17. Quit a crappy job: Yes. I’m not the type to do this without some big-time planning and another job lined up, but I did in the 90s when I just could not stand to set foot in the place anymore. I’ll just generally describe it as an advertising sort of place. The morale and environment sucked there. I stayed way too long (several years). At some point later on, I got myself into grad school to try to avoid this same type of situation again.

18. Been on a blind date: Yes. Mine wasn’t great (probably mostly due to my own shyness), but it wasn’t a nightmare or anything like that.

19. Done something kind and unexpected for a stranger: My wife and I left a greeting card saying something like, “Have a great day” on a parked car one time. Hopefully whoever it was got a smile out of it. (Nowadays, it probably just freaked them out and made them look over their shoulder for the next week.)

20. Had a major surgery: Yep, kidney transplant. I plan to blog about this at some point.

21. Taken a car/truck road trip that covered at least 6 states: Yes. As a child my family drove to the Grand Canyon, which covered at least 6 (may have been 7). My wife and I just missed last year (and will again this year) when we were in 5 states on our way to Hilton Head.

22. Been in 4 or more countries: Nope, just the U.S. for me.

23. Spent New Year’s Eve somewhere special: Well, it’s obviously “special” to be anywhere with someone you love on New Year’s Eve. However, to answer what I think is the spirit of this question, I don’t think I ever have.

24. Visited an ancient landmark: If the Grand Canyon counts. I think it does.

25. Been face to face with a celebrity by chance: Yes. In St. Louis in church, we realized were were a few feet away from Steve Garvey. (For those of you under 35 or not at all into sports, he was a very famous L.A. Dodger who was charismatic and appeared on tv shows, etc). He was friendly and nodded, etc on his way out. It was a few hours before a Cardinals/Dodgers game. Come to think of it, we were in a famous, very old church at the time so maybe this sort of applies to the previous question as well.

26. Given to charity in the past two years: I’m sure we don’t give like we should, but, yes to the Humane Society and to a children’s hospital. (Let’s just say it was NOT an amount that would get anything named after us.)

27. Helped a stray animal: Yes! We possibly saved a cute stray dog and ended up finding the grateful owner a day later. Actually, it was the relative of the owner; the owner was gone on vacation, and the little guy had accidentally gotten out. We found him running down a major street.

28. Dated someone you met online: Yes, once. It didn’t end up being THE relationship, but it wasn’t a bad experience overall.

29. Won money on a long shot: I’ve done the horse races a few times, but I don’t think I ever won on a big long shot.

30. Won your office/family/friends NCAA tournament pool: Yes! That was fun.

31. Won an award/medal (even if something “small”): I received recognition for a short story I wrote in college (it was accepted to a national conference), and I won “Best Sports Writing” award at my small college paper once!

32. Driven a foreign sports car: No. The closest to that for me is riding in (not driving) my brother-in-law’s classic Corvette.

33. Been in the front row for a concert: I think I was for Joan Jett when she played at my college.

34. Attended a symphony orchestra performance: Yes. I enjoy that even though it isn’t the type of music you’d generally find in my cd player.

35. Caught a criminal in the act and did something about it (reported it, smacked them in the head, etc): Other than traffic violations, I don’t think I’ve witnessed anything like this.

36. Sung solo on a stage: Nope. Just school plays as a kid, but I wasn’t solo (thank goodness!)

37. Witnessed something supernatural: I don’t think so. I have a brother who saw a UFO or something weird like it one time a long time ago.

38. Covered for someone (who deserved it) at work: Yes, a great co-worker (and a hard worker) who needed a little nap one time on a third shift job.

39. Overcome a major fear: Sure. See my last blog about the spider.

40. Mailed a surprise care package to a loved one: Yep, my wife has gotten a candy care package in the mail at work a time or two. She has returned the favor as well.

Anyone else care to post answers? I’m curious!

Regarding question 33:





So You Think You’re a Locksmith…

7 12 2007

(No toddlers were harmed in the making of this blog, but we were worried for awhile!)

Since it seems that many among us would watch any form of reality television, it is feasible that we will see a show called, So You Think You’re a Locksmith on the WB in the next season or two. If that does indeed happen, I have a nomination for the show. My nomination would be for an alleged locksmith who would provide comic relief (briefly) and would be kicked off Locksmith Island the first episode. I had the misfortune of dealing with this locksmith recently.

Backstory: My wife and I had a very unnerving toddler experience with our daughter recently. I was doing yard work (if you do not know me, picture a tank-top clad man ripped with abundant muscles; if you do know me, then you know better). My wife, who was suffering hunger pangs, came outside for about thirty seconds to check on my status so that we could soon proceed with our dinner carry-out plans. During said thirty seconds, our toddler, who was inside, turned the deadbolt on the door that my wife had exited. Much to our consternation, we quickly realized that we were locked out, and our toddler and all of our keys were locked in. (Okay, before you even have time to say it…yes, we should have had a spare key on the premises or with our neighbors and have now rectified that situation, but at the time we had instead given our overhead garage door code to our neighbors and usually did not lock the regular door from the garage to the house except when going to bed at night. That was the very door that our toddler locked. Additionally, my sister who lives a few miles away did have an extra key but was not reachable. We found out later that she was in a meeting with a customer and had therefore turned off her cell phone).

Back to the main point: After a short while of fruitless efforts with our neighbors, who are awesome, to either open one of our locked windows or coerce our child to turn the deadbolt the other way, we knew it was time to call a locksmith. We were pretty sure at this point that we sucked as parents and would have our parenting license revoked by social services. It was after regular business hours, of course, but we knew most locksmiths, if not all, would make emergency calls. Through the bad luck of the draw, we chose one from our neighbors’ yellow pages that was located pretty close by. I do not want to sound too petty so I will not even include the smaller details that made it obvious to us that we had called the worst locksmith in North America (I originally planned to say worst locksmith in the world but my attorney advised me that might be an overstatement. Apparently there is a much worse locksmith named Ned in Europe). I will only point out the highlights and leave it to the reader to decide if I am just a small, bitter man.

  1. He was unable to follow my directions to find the correct house in the neighborhood but did locate us after driving past each and every other house in the subdivision. I was the one standing at the corner waving him in.
  2. He was unable to budge any of the three (fairly standard) door locks on our house.
  3. He stated the locks were too dry and asked if we had WD-40. Apparently his official locksmith van did not carry this rare substance. I did have it and gave it quickly to him. He never tried it, and in fact, seconds after I handed it to him said he was going to just drill through our lock and that we would have to replace it. (We agreed immediately as we just wanted to get to our toddler as quickly as possible).
  4. He required cash only payment, and one of our aforementioned neighbors kindly made a run to the ATM. However, the locksmith, for lack of a more fitting title, did not have change, and our neighbor again quickly ran to the nearby convenience store and bought a drink in order to get change while my wife and I enjoyed our reunion with our child, who was unharmed.
  5. He gave us advice about what to do in case of being locked out of our house by a completely different type of lock, which we DO NOT HAVE on our doors.

I joke about these things now, but I really do not want to sound too petty. Bottom line is that we had to get in the house, and we did. At the time, we ONLY cared about getting to our kid. It was after that we started thinking about the locksmithing events. I am sure that some doors are more difficult to open than others, but still, come on, man…

   







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