...where do we go from here?
Damn me and my habit of not boarding hard on the weekends. I missed most of it.
I got TWO questions for the mailbag. Suck it, kkk. Here are the answers…
So why do you hate The Astros despite living in or near Houston your whole life?
It’s simple: I’ve been a Cubs fan for about 25 years and the Cubs and Astros have been division rivals for 15 of those years. And since I have to hear the daily Astros’ propaganda living here, well, it makes me root against them.
I should say that ‘hate’ is a probably strong word for it these days since I no longer have the energy—or time, thanks to the wife—to spend watching the majority of their games (MLB Extra Innings is useful here, too). Plus the Cubs are just better than the Astros these days so my days of jealously looking at the standings are—at least for now—over.
And I do love a couple of the Astros players. Berkman is a terrific, funny guy; one of my favorite guys in sports. And I would LOVE Roy O to get fed up enough with the Astros that, when his contract is up, he decides to pitch at Wrigley for a couple of years. (Of course, the Cubs being the Cubs, he’d probably blow his arm out during pregame warm-ups before his debut and disappear in disgrace like Mark Prior.)
But a hack like Brandon Backe being kept around and getting constant adoration because he’s a ‘hometown kid’ despite having never been a good pitcher (or even showing signs of it)? Get the fuck out of here.
Also, what do you think of their chances in The N.L. Central this year?
I break it down like this:
1. The Astros are definitely worse than the Cubs, which means they’re probably fighting for the wild card at best. I don’t see anything but a number of devastating injuries derailing the Cubs in their quest for a third straight N.L. Central title.
2. I don’t see how anyone can say the Astros are clearly better than either the Brewers or Cardinals.
3. Recent history says that they’re probably better than the Reds, but Cincy’s lineup is fairly solid and you never know what a couple of young, developing guys like Cueto and Volquez will do. If Arroyo continues his good work and Harang bounces back, watch out. The Reds could finish third, which means they’re probably ahead of the Astros, too. (Dusty manages this bunch though so a 66-win, 6th place finish is also possible,)
4. They’re definitely better than the Pirates so they will be no worse than fifth!
The fans here point to the Astros second-half charge to 86 wins last year as proof that this team is on the cusp, but the reality of it is despite that, they still finished 3.5 games behind TWO teams for the wild card. So they really didn’t come that close to making the playoffs.
They are some other problems:
- Oldest team in the National League, and they got a little older with the signing of Pudge
- Berkman/Lee is about as solid a 3/4 combination as you can get. But Tejada’s washed up, Pudge is 37 and wasn’t very good last year, third base is either Geoff Blum or rookie Chris Johnson, Kaz Matsui is hurt all the time, and Michael Bourn is a disaster in center. Pence is talented, but he must return to his rookie form if they’re going to have a chance and there is no guarantee that he will.
- They subtracted Randy Wolf and added Mike Hampton and Russ Ortiz, neither of whom has been effective in several years. Oswalt is scary good of course, but when you have Hampton, Ortiz, Wandy Rodriguez, and Brian f’n Moehler behind him, well, that’s not so good.
- LaTroy Hawkins is a key cog in their bullpen. LATROY HAWKINS.
- There is almost no help in the minor leagues and Drayton McLane claims the payroll is now maxed out so any injuries could really kill their season early because they probably won’t have any options to replace the injured players.
- The second half schedule isn’t conducive to a late run this year. One of the newspaper guys did a breakdown of it a couple of weeks back and concluded that it’s the toughest post-ASB schedule in the NL.
Add all of that up and it smells of 76-78 wins and a third or fourth place finish to me.
As one of the most anonymous posters at TSM with what is probably one of the least-read blogs, I'm sure this idea is doomed to failure. But I'm bored today so what the hell; I'll give it a shot anyway.
Ask me anything, whether it's about me personally, something you'd like to get my opinon on, or something really difficult that I'm sure to get wrong and end up looking stupid. Maybe you want to know my favorite color, how I met sfaJill, or why I've lived in or near Houston my entire life yet hate the Astros. Do I have a favorite actor? Movie? Do I like country music? Maybe you need my advice on something (though God help you if you follow it). You could even ask for my detailed thoughts on nuclear disarmament (note: I don't really have any detailed thoughts on this) or suggest topics you actually might want to read about on this blog. Whatever. Unlike an Obama press conference, this floor is open to tough questions and I will not screen any of them.
Submit them in the comments here or via PM if you want to be all secretive. I'll take questions through this Sunday night and post an entry with the answer(s) next Monday. If this actually works, maybe I'll do it again every so often. If I don't get any questions, well, fuck everybody.
I don't normally blog too much about office happenings because that can be dangerous in these days of employers using the interwebs to keep track of their employees when they’re not being unproductive at the office.
However, this is a big day, for today's post is the first from my new digs as I have moved out of my cubicle home(s) of 7+ years and into a real office with four walls, a couple windows, and...a locking door!
Does this mean that I have crawled through the river of shit that is the DAMN HUSSEIN ECONOMY and come out smelling of roses with a promotion that comes with bigger pay, a fancy title, and the tiniest shred of power via a single thin line on some company organizational chart?
Uh, not exactly.
So what happened? Get comfortable; this could be a long entry if I put in all the details. The events are real, the names may or may not be changed.
A brief bit of background to our story: I spent the first six years of my time here working in the general accounting department, mostly doing account reconciliation and audit response. In 2005, my manager was forced to take this one lady, Doe, into our group because Doe’s previous position in the payroll department was eliminated and she needed to find a new home. Why wasn’t she ‘let go’ like most other people whose jobs are eliminated? Because Doe’s mother is a senior accounting manager here. Eh, whatever. I know that’s the way things go sometimes. I accept this…in most cases.
The problem here? Doe is a completely worthless employee.
Arrive late most days? Check.
Leave early often? Check.
Unexplained absences? Check.
Loud socializing/phone calls in the office? Check.
Poor attitude about work? Check.
Subpar work? Check.
Doesn’t know shit about accounting? Check.
Overly inflated sense of self-worth/importance? CHECK CHECK CHECK.
Bringing personal drama into the office? BIG GIANT FUCKING CHECK.
Within two months of starting work in our group, we all despised her because the rest of us—the ones that actually showed up to do our jobs each day—were constantly having to put up with her enormous amount of drama and bullshit AND cover her substandard work. This was made even worse for me early in ’06 when I was put in charge of reviewing/approving her work each month but was not given any supervisor/managerial authority to deal with her.
My manager, Sandy, responded to Doe’s poor work by refusing to give her any promotion or any raise beyond the company mandated ‘minimum living adjustment’ (usually 1-2%), which you get only unless you’re about to be fired or something. Things continued this way until the end of ’07 when management did a little shuffling of the deck chairs, resulting in Sandy going to manage another finance group and me getting shifted over to the project accounting group.
I was free! I still had to see her every day (the ones she’s actually here anyway), overhear her inane conversations, and deal with the constant noise—but at least her poor work no longer directly affected my ability to do my job. I even got to move to a different cubicle around the corner from where her and her pals all gathered for their daily social club meetings, eliminating some of the distraction. It was almost as good an office situation as one could hope for…
…and then Michaela, who did the tax work for the general accounting group—and whose office was directly across the hall from my new cube—recently left to go work for the corporate tax group. Who was anointed to take over her work? You guessed it!
So Doe started sitting across the hall from me on the days she was doing the tax work. She asked John, the new boss of the general group—apparently a competent accountant but completely inexperienced in dealing with Doe—if she could move into the office full time and was told ‘no’ because she is classified as an associate accountant—the lowest accounting rank we have—and that it was not necessary for her to sit there all the time. Doe was PISSED because she isn’t used to not getting her way.
So she rebelled by sitting in there a couple of extra days. And then a couple more. And then, before John knew (although those of us who know her know what she was doing), she had established a nice squatter’s existence in the office.
The problem? The noise was even worse than before because now she was armed with a speakerphone…which she used—at max volume—for every single goddamn call she placed or received. And I mean EVERY DAMN CALL.
This prompted myself and the two other old school guys—who are also not in John’s group—that sat in the same hallway as Doe to complain to John about the noise. We strategically spaced out our complaints over the course of two weeks so it didn’t look like we were all dumping on her at once. I was the last one to complain and was told by John that he had asked her to move back to her assigned space but that she had refused to do it but that he was going to act soon.
So here’s a quick multiple choice of John’s possible actions regarding this situation:
A) Reprimand her via formal written notice to HR
B) Choice ‘A’, along with getting our real estate services department to clean the stuff she had moved into the office out, return it to her assigned cube, lock the office, and leave instructions for security that that office was not to be unlocked without their consent
C) Fire her for insubordination and terrible job performance—my personal preference
D) Burn the whole building down so there’s no more noise for anyone
E) Allow Doe to keep the office, shuffle a couple of your own general accounting people around, and offer the complaining employees—who are all members of the project accounting group—the chance to move into the resulting empty offices on the next hall…where the rest of your general accounting group sits.
If you said, ‘E’, you are correct. Unfortunately, there is no prize.
So here I sit, out of cubicle hell in office #224. It’s great because I don’t have to see or hear Doe if I don’t want to but, more importantly, it’s a quiet, professional atmosphere.
At least I can read TSM in peace now. I just hope that no one can hear me continually laughing at the sheer absurdity of moving 6 different people around—and having THREE people who have nothing to do with your group sit with your group—just so you don’t have to deal with one headcase. God bless middle managers.
U.S. Department of the Treasury 1, Jack Household 0
Wow. What an asskicking this year.
30 feels no different than 29. Big surprise. I'm still marching slowly towards the end. The good news at least is that I'm one year closer to 'Senior Citizen' status and all the various discounts and freebies that entitles one to.
I stopped caring about my birthday 12 years ago. I figured once I turned 18 and became able to die for my country and blow all my money on lottery tickets, it was all downhill from there anyway, so why give a shit?
sfaJill, on the other hand, loves birthdays. So at some point today, I will have to pick a restaurant so she can go buy me dinner, I'll have to pick a "fun activity" to do, and I'll have to open at least one present from her. In fact, we had this exchange last night:
"Honey, I'm sorry. I think I gave you most of your birthday presents at Christmas."
"Well, you're probably only going to have one to open tomorrow."
"There's a 1% chance I'll give a shit."
"I know, I know."
(moment of silence)
"Maybe I'll take you to Best Buy or somewhere like that and let you pick out something you want."
"Yeah...maybe. I guess."
So why am I queerin' up TSM this morning? Because my in-laws have this insane tradition of calling their children (and now children-in-law) at 5:30 in the morning on their birthday and (terribly) singing Happy Birthday over the phone and now I can't get back to sleep. It's gonna be a great day.
Neither of us were amused by this tradition this year, particularly since it was nearly 3 AM before we went to sleep. sfaJill even lectured her dad saying, "You're calling at 5:30 on a SATURDAY morning; of course I'm going to assume something is wrong."
It's the exact opposite with my dad. For YEARS he always got my brother's and my birthdays mixed up--he always thought mine was January 28 and my bro's was December 24 when if fact mine is January 24 and my bro's is December 28. Well, he called about 20 minutes ago and we had this conversation. It's funny to me; YMMV.
Dad: "I was just calling because it's your birthday. Wait...it is the 24th right?"
Dad: "Well, alright."
Me: "You didn't get us mixed up this year. What happened?"
Dad: "I don't know. It's probably because Nicole (my sister-in-law) said something about it earlier this week."
You know you’ve wasted too much time here over the years when you’re driving on the Westpark Tollway, pass a business named ‘Kinetic Furniture’ on your right, and immediately think of TSM.
So my Dad and I attended the final
Well, that, uh, didn’t turn out so well.
A couple of notes:
We thought it was weird that the final game was against the Ravens. How can the league NOT have the Cowboys play one of their long-time NFC East opponents in the final game at Texas Stadium? It’s crazy.
Then it came out late Saturday night/early Sunday morning that Jerry Jones petitioned the NFL before the schedule was finalized last spring to have the Ravens be the opponent in the final game because he thought they were an easy win.
Memo to Jerry: stop hand-picking opponents. You’re embarrassing yourself. First of all, if you’re going to pick a homecoming opponent this season, how in the hell did you not pick the Bengals? Or the 49ers. At least you have some history with them. Secondly, do you not remember the last time you picked your opponent?
Also, Texas Stadium is a neat place in that the Cowboys have played there for 38 years and won their first of five Super Bowls in the year it opened, 1971.
But let’s not kid ourselves. Other than the hole in the roof—so God can watch his favorite team play—and it being the first stadium built with public financing (the bonds sold for $6 apiece), there’s really nothing special about it. We’re not talking about closing down Lambeau or Soldier Field here. It’s not the most photogenic place and it just kind of sits there in the middle of a huge, ugly parking lot. The concourse is crowded, it can get really hot in there, I don’t think they’ve put a coat of paint on it since 1994, and if you sit in parts of the upper deck without binoculars you should have just saved your money and stayed home. So there’s no reason to get overly emotional about its demise.
(Note: the ticket prices at the new stadium they’re building in Arlington though? THAT is something to cry about.)
It was nice to see that they did put some effort into making the last game a big deal though. The Cowboys must have installed some new video boards in the offseason and replaced a few light bulbs because the place just looked a little brighter than usual and you could actually read all of the text displayed on the video boards without squinting. And it was nice to see them trot out a bunch of legendary Cowboy players during timeouts and whatnot, though to be honest, none of them said anything remotely interesting. I don’t think half of the crowd even knew who guys like Don Perkins and Lee Roy Jordan are.
As for the game itself, well, what needs to be said? It was truly historic because no team in NFL history had ever had two touchdown runs of 75 yards or more in the same quarter until the Ravens did it to ice the game late.
The Cowboys’ offense was terrible the entire game. We knew that was going to be the case because Tony Romo looked terrible in pregame warm-ups, missing most of his throws high. And the defense, after a hot first half, turned in a dog shit effort in the second, particularly in the fourth quarter. The two long runs made for an unfathomable way to lose a game and easily surpassed any other loss in the four seasons we had tickets, in terms of sheer lunacy. (The playoff loss last year to the Giants still ranks #1 on the “disappointing loss” list.)
It was so ridiculous and aggravating that we didn’t even stick around for the “closing ceremonies” after the game. Apparently at least half of the crowd felt the same way. Watching local TV news the next morning, we found out that it probably wouldn’t have been worth staying for anyway. The newscasters were puzzled that so few decided to stay for that ceremony but, really, would you expect otherwise after the “effort” the Cowboys put forward?
The worst part might be that, on the way home, Dad and I made our peace with the Cowboys’ 2008 season. The combination of injuries, talent regression, and often-poor coaching just added up to a “Not Their Year”. Losing to the Ravens was really damaging to their playoff chances, as it meant they couldn’t get in without a lot of help from other teams.
And then Tampa lost to San Diego.
And Philly lost to Washington.
And, suddenly, the Cowboys are back in control of their own destiny. Win at Philly on Sunday, and all is forgiven.
Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in…
I just wish I knew which Cowboys team is going to show up in Philly.
That's right, bitches.
More than one inch.
Does THAT sound like global warming to you??
To the surprise of few, the Houston Comets are done. Maybe they could ask for a bailout.
Falling Comets shut down by WNBA
The former league dynasty had struggled to attract fans
By JENNY DIAL
Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle
The Houston Comets, an original member of the WNBA and winner of its first four championships, are being shut down by the league.
WNBA president Donna Orender said Monday that the team could no longer stay afloat. The Comets, who have been on a roller-coaster ride the last two seasons, will suspend operations early next week.
I think Bill Simmons had a line in of his columns years ago that said something like, "If you had the choice of getting $5 in cash or having your city's WNBA team win a title, which would you pick?" I know which one I would pick. Apparently my fellow Houstonians took their $5 and then chose not to purchase a Comets ticket with it.
I personally never attended (or watched in entirety) a single game, but my favorite Comets memory is a coworker of mine relating the tale of how she used to go to a few each year when they first started in 1997 but stopped doing so because she was "tired of being hit on by bull dykes and ugly women."
I didn't get picked for jury duty yesterday. I got downtown around 7:30 and then sat there playing my DS for 4 hours while watching several other panels of
While standing in line to get my work release form to prove to my boss that I wasn't just trying to scam a free day off, I asked the bailiff in charge what happened. He informed me that, based on my juror number (3555), I was 'definitely assigned to a court' but that there was 'probably a settlement reached in the case and a trial was no longer needed.' Score. I spent the rest of the day doing some Christmas shopping.
I also filled out some form to give my $6 pay to the Texas Childrens Welfare Fund. I'm considering it my one good deed for the holiday season. Plus I don't want to have to go to the bank just to cash a check for $6.
A recap of Thanksgiving With the In-Laws:
Wednesday Night: they arrive at our house around 10:30 p.m. No joking: my mother-in-law brought 12 various bags and suitcases with her. For a four day weekend.
Thursday afternoon: Lunch is at our house with the official feast scheduled for tomorrow at my sfaJill's sister's house. With the house full of additional in-laws, I retreat to my study and watch the Cowboys thrash the Seahawks. When I emerge around 6:30, I discover that sfaJill, her sister, and mother have all left to go wait outside of Michaels until it opened at 6 to buy some Christmas tree that is supposed to be 50% off. sfaJill's sister MUST have this tree for the entryway at their house.
Thursday evening: They return with no tree. Apparently Michaels only had 7.5' trees and none of the 12' ones she wanted. Wal-Mart was also a bust. Sister-in-law is pissed and responds by pakcing up her crew and going home. Woo!
Friday: Thanksgiving meal at sister-in-laws is supposed to be at 2:00. The in-laws rise early and head over before 8 a.m. to help get everything ready. sfaJill sleeps in until nearly 11. Ah, yes...a few hours of peace and quiet. That peace and quite would be shattered shortly after noon when sfaJill and her sister get pissed at each other because, apparently, the two of us were also supposed to arrive early to help set up and sfaJill was now in trouble because we are 'late.'
"Fuck her. My sister's a bitch." are the only words spoken for a couple of minutes on our drive over after she angrily hangs up the cell phone.
For the record, I do not recall being asked to come over early in the day to help. Also, I lost the bet with myself that the first fight between sfaJill and her sis would occur Friday. I bet on Thursday.
At least the meal itself passes quickly and without incident. The hours of family board game time afterwards do not, however. Also, sfaJill's little brother arrived to join the group around 5:00. Without his white-trash girlfriend, who is a constant source of angst.
Saturday afternoon: Father-in-law heads over to sister-in-law's house again. Mother-in-law and sfaJill, who reluctantly agreed to hit all the craft stores with her mom, head out for 4 1/2 hours of craft store fun. Finally...a break!
Saturday evening: Back to sister-in-law's house for Friday leftovers. Neither sfaJill nor I want to go but since mother-in-law does and doesn't have any other ride over there, we have little choice. We leave after little more than an hour on the grounds that our hosts were doing a poor job of hosting (i.e. sfaJill is still kinda po'ed about Friday and doesn't like that her sister has said barely three words to her since we got there). Fine with me. I've had about enough 'family time' anyway.
Sunday: More in-law fun--lunch with everyone at Saltgrass Steak House and then MORE board game fun at our house. Of course, this means that they don't actually leave town until nearly 6:00, making for nearly 4 days of family fun. sfaJill and I went to see Transporter 3 after they left. It's not horrible, but is definitely the worst Transporter movie. Even she admitted that it was time for them to go.
This is probably the most boring day of work I've had since March or April. I basically have nothing to do as my latest project is at a point where I can do nothing further until I receive it back from the accounting manager assigned to it and either rework whatever needs rework or proceed to the next phase.
So what am I left to do? Surf the Internet, of course. And post another
Much like kkk yesterday though, I don't really have much to talk about. And my post won't even have the awesomeness that is the whale picture so you, dear reader, are screwed.
A few minor news items, I guess:
1. I got a jury summons in the mail the other day for December 1. This is the second time I've been summoned for jury duty but the first time I will actually have to go. While I'm kind of excited about doing my civic duty to convict someone, I'm hoping like hell I'll get downtown and be dismissed rather quickly so I can go back home and play video games all day. My company pays us if we're out for jury duty so there is NO WAY I'm going to the office even if my jury day is over at 9 a.m.
Of course, my luck will be not only will I get picked, but it'll be a case that lasts for three weeks.
2. sfaJill's been bitching lately about wanting a new cell phone because hers hasn't been working too well lately. Or something. I don't know. Since our cell phone contract was about to expire anyway, we went down to the T-Mobile store last Friday to renew it. I took advantage of the massive discount offered (with a 2-year extension of course) and snagged their new G1 phone.
I've never got the appeal of the iPhone or any of that junk...
...until I played with this thing. I have no idea if it's 'better' than an iPhone or not but I don't care. I love this phone. I'm hooked. Call me a sheep; I do not care!
Now all I need is friends to call or (preferably) text...
3. I just returned from a lunch with sfaJill and one of her friends at Yao Ming's bistro/bar here in town. I'd never been there before and my unrefined tastes in food probably can't tell good Chinese food from vomit-inducing, undercooked crap...but this was good Chinese food. Lunch menu prices, too so it's a double bonus. Plus, Yao's uncle came around to greet our table. Dude is like 6' 7". It was kind of strange to see an Asian dude that tall and he's not on a basketball court.
Let's see...what else. The list of the world's most dangerous toys is out.
It's official: we should just wrap all the little bastards in bubble wrap each morning before we send them out into the world.
Remember potato guns?
Trampolines (without the net around it)?
Sleeping in an actual treehouse you built yourself?
Doing any of that shit would get your parents arrested these days.
Smues on Mailbag...?
sfaJack on Mailbag...?
kkktookmybabyaway on Mailbag...?
sfaJack on Notes From Office 224?
kkktookmybabyaway on Notes From Office 224?
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