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New location, same lame blog

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Notes From Office 224?

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.

sfaJack

sfaJack

 

Box office murder for hire

Soaring gas prices, rising grocery bills, and the mortgage crisis (equally fueled by shady lenders and stupid borrowers). These are things that people often cite when bitching about the DAMN BUSH ECONOMY.   But at least it's comforting to know that the murder-for-hire market hasn't been hit with soaring prices yet...   You know, there's probably someone out there that wouldn't mind if I got bumped off. God knows there are some days when sfaJill's bitching makes me think it wouldn't be so bad. But I think I'd be insulted if someone thought it was only worth $150 to have me killed.   ---------------------------   So while wasting some time browsing TSM yesterday, I clicked on mole's not-very-successful summer box office prediction thread. Being a semi-frequent movie-goer (though 75% of the movies we go to are not my choice), I thought I'd go down the list and see if there are any that I'm likely to see.   MAY IronMan - Haven't seen it, but will probably Netflix it at some point. I'm not now and have never been a comic book guy so I rarely have much interest in these movies. It's supposed to be good though.   Speed Racer - Haven't seen it, probably won't. I couldn't stand the cartoon when I was young; why would I watch the movie, especially when it sucks like this one apparently does.   What Happens in Vegas - It's got Kyle Korver and Cameron Diaz in it and a stupid premise. No thank you.   The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian - This one might be a Netflix rental one day, but I never read the book and, while I liked TLW&W ok, Narnia stuff isn't exactly on my list of "must see."   Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - Saw it (90% because sfaJill begged me whined until I agreed to go, 10% morbid curiosity). While the original movies are some of my favorites from my childhood, I'm not an Indy geek or anything. They're just good, fun movies that I've watched probably 25 times in the years since.   That said, this is easily the worst Indy movie and I really wish I hadn't spent $9.25 on it.   Sex and the City - I'll never see this one. And sfaJill isn't the slightest bit interested in it so I'm in the clear there.   JUNE Kung Fu Panda - I'm never interested in stupid crap like this, but there are rumors that my in-laws want to take the 4-year-old nephew to see this. I'm already rifling through my rolodex of excuses to get out of that one because I know that sfaJill will want to latch onto that little family outing.   You Don't Mess With The Zohan - You know what's funny? We saw a trailer for this months ago in the theater and sfaJill said it looked "funny" and stated she wanted to see it when it comes out. A couple of weeks ago, a trailer ran on TV and, after it was over, sfaJill asked "Who would go see that piece of shit?"   I laughed. "You said you wanted to see it!"   "When?"   "We saw a preview at the movies a while back and you said it looked funny."   "I did?!"   "Yes."   "Are you sure?"   "Yes!"   "Wow. I can't imagine what I was thinking."   The Incredible Hulk - Didn't they just do a Hulk movie last year or something? Either way, I don't care much (that whole "not a comic guy" thing again) and probably won't watch it.   The Happening - Pass. It's M. Night Shyamalan. I thought Sixth Sense was good and Unbreakable was pretty good. After that...not so much.   Get Smart - I'm really, really looking forward to this one. I loved Get Smart as a kid, Steve Carell makes me laugh, and Anne Hathaway is one fine piece of ass. Plus, I've seen the trailer(s) several times and laugh each time. Can't wait.   The Love Guru - WTF is this, an Indian version of Austin Powers? This is not gonna end well...   Wanted - I haven't even heard of this one and know nothing about it. Thus, I am unlikely to see it.   Wall-E - I'm sure I'll be watching this one at some point because sfaJill is VERY excited about it. I'm not so much but if it's half as much of an animated Short Circuit as it appears to be, it might be tolerable.   JULY Hancock - Yeah, I'll see it. sfaJill loves Will Smith and keeps asking me when this is coming out, so...yeah.   Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D - Saw a trailer for this one before Indy 4 and my only thought was "This is stupid." So, no, I won't be watching. And didn't the whole concept of "3D" movies die back in the 1950's or so?   Hell Boy II: The Golden Army - Nah. Didn't watch the first Hellboy and probably won't see this one either. A trailer for this one ran before Indy 4 as well and I wasn't impressed.   The Dark Knight - Yeah, I'll see this one. Batman is the one "comic" that I'll watch any movie of. If nothing else, my one friend (who is a HUGE Batman freak) will drag me to it at least once.   Mamma Mia! - Had to look on IMDB for this one. Does it really use ABBA songs to tell the story? Dear God help us all...   X-Files: I Want to Believe - Nope. I never watched X-Files. Besides, hasn't it been like 10 years since it was on? Why make a movie about it now?   Step Brothers - I'll see this one. I think Will Ferrell is hilarious, though I'm a little apprehensive becasue Blades of Glory and Semi-Pro sucked real bad. John C. Reilly and Ferrell were great in that Nascar movie though; hopefully, that will carry over to this one.   AUGUST The Rocker - Dwight Shrute gets a leading role in a film? I'll watch, but it'll probably be via Netflix.   The Mummy: The Tomb of the Dragon Emperor - A Netflix rental all the way. The first couple of Mummy films were ok enough so I'll watch, but I'm not paying for it.   Pineapple Express - I've seen three of the "Apatow" movies? Knocked Up (average), Superbad (funny, but overrated), and Forgetting Sarah Marshall (best of the three). This one looks like it could be good, but I think I'll wait for the DVD.   The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 - Why the fuck did this one need a sequel? No thanks.   Tropic Thunder - I'll probably see this one eventually. The team of Stiller, Black, and Downey Jr. should make for at least a semi-enjoyable movie.   Star Wars: The Clone Wars - Eh. I'm kind of sick of the whole Star Wars thing, personally.   House Bunny - After looking this one up on IMDB, I've determined that, while it sounds stupid as hell, I might see it on cable or something one day simply because Anna Faris and Katharine McPhee are in it.   Vicky Cristina Barcelona - Never heard of it. A check of IMDB shows that it is something I will probably never see unless Scarlett Johansson gets nekkid or something.

sfaJack

sfaJack

 

ALICIA SILVERSTONE GETS NAKED

One of my top fantasy babes from my younger days, Alicia Silverstone, wants us to go vegetarian. This article claims that Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth were chosen for the rollout of PETA’s latest campaign because we are perennially near the top of those fattest city surveys. Whatever.   I’ve never taken much of what PETA does seriously because they’re so over the top with how they choose to get their message out, but if Alicia Silverstone is getting naked for this particular cause, I’m willing to listen.   I tried accessing the video of the commercial from work and got a message saying it was blocked by our firewall. Apparently peta.org has been classified as "Advocacy Groups, Tasteless/Gross". I chuckled.   ------------------------------   This morning, on the door inside the men’s room on our floor, some joker posted a copy of an article that claims that 33% of men do not wash their hands after going to the bathroom (only 12% of women do not). This figure was obtained after “extensive observation of over 6,000 people in four major cities” over the past couple of months. Doctors everywhere are outraged at this news though I’m not sure why. I’ve seen tons of guys not wash their hands afterwards over the years that frankly I’m shocked it’s only at 33%.   Other “do not wash” findings (for both sexes) from the article: 44% after petting a cat or dog 39% after coughing/sneezing 56% after handling money 22% after changing diapers 9% before handling food   I’ll admit that I’m often guilty on the petting cat/dog and handling money charges and even sometimes on the coughing/sneezing, but I rarely touch food with unclean hands. The diaper changing thing doesn’t apply to me since I have and will continue to do anything necessary to avoid that chore, but who are the nasty bastards that make up that 22%?   ------------------------------   Finally, a big “CONGRATULATIONS” is due my company’s management. It took some hard work, but they found another little perk to yank away from us when we were least expecting it.   Last week, it was announced that our on-site fitness center is closing at the end of the year. The company-sponsored discount membership program we have had with the YMCA is also being canned. The reason given is “cost considerations.”   Apparently, management is contending that the member base isn’t big enough to support the ongoing costs of the fitness center. One well-placed source told me that our real estate group claims to have “many studies” that show each member would have to pay out an extra $5,000 a year in order for the center to break even. If that’s true, then I need to polish the ol’ resume because this company is going to be led into bankruptcy by a bunch of idiots that clearly have no idea how to manage money. The fitness center is small in size and has a grand total of four company employees (as opposed to expensive outside contractors) on staff and is housed in a building on a campus this company has owned outright for over 30 years. There is simply no way the it is that expensive to operate.   One of the members started a “save the fitness center” petition and posted it at the check-in desk there. Management found out and ordered that the petition be scrapped immediately or there could be consequences for creating disharmony in the work environment. Hmmm. Would that be the same sort of disharmony they created when they suddenly decided to close the fitness center for questionable reasons?

sfaJack

sfaJack

 

Let's retire retiring numbers

So around 11:30 Sunday morning, I'm sitting at the house just fucking around with the rosters on Madden football when our neighbor from across the street knocks on the front door, two tickets for the 1:05 Astros/Diamondbacks game in his hand. He says he and his wife didn't feel like going and he thought we might be interested. Never one to turn down free baseball tickets, I said hell yes.   As it happened, yesterday was also the retirement of Craig Biggio's #7 jersey. By the time we made it downtown, parked, and made it inside of Minute Maid Park, it was two minutes before scheduled first pitch (not bad, considering it's a 20-25 minute drive and sfaJill had to get showered and dressed before we could leave) and the ceremony was just finishing up.   Ah, gee, we missed it. Oh well. To me, retiring numbers is one of the most stupid things in sports. I know fans eat it up and teams sell a few extra tickets and make a few extra bucks selling commemorative t-shirts so more power to them, but, to me, it takes the 'hero worship' of pro athletes just a little too far.   Don't get me wrong--I'm all for honoring a team's great players. Lord knows as a fan that I appreciate the great ones when they help my teams do well. But do we really need to make sure that no other player ever wears a certain number again, as if that number is magical and had anything to do with his success??   If you absolutely MUST retire a number or honor a player or whatever at least have the decency to follow the Dallas Cowboys' Ring of Honor model--that way, the player is honored forever (with their number) and the number is continued to be circulated. This also allows for Bob Hayes and Emmitt Smith to make #22 great, just as Drew Pearson and Michael Irvin made #88 great.   As for the game: well, Roy Oswalt had his best start in probably three years--8 IP, 1 H, 10 K, 2 BB. He got the last 15 batters he faced out. Randy Johnson really only made one mistake all day--a 3-run HR to Ty Wigginton in the 1st--but it was more than enough to lose it for him. I've never seen a pitcher dealing like Oswalt was dealing yesteday in person. Just ridiculous.       On a side note, Biggio's is the EIGHTH number retired by the Astros (nine if you count Jackie Robinson's #42). This makes no sense. You're talking about a franchise that's been around for only 47 seasons, has won only one pennant, and zero Hall of Famers (for now, anyway). Are there really eight Astros worthy of number retirement??   Houston Astros who have previously had their number retired:   5 - Jeff Bagwell 24 - Jimmy Wynn 25 - Jose Cruz 32 - Jim Umbricht 33 - Mike Scott 34 - Nolan Ryan 40 - Don Wilson 49 - Larry Dierker    

sfaJack

sfaJack

 

So it's been like a month since I've blogged...

I'm sure at least one person has missed the high-quality posts I churn out here, right? Right?   ...   Hello?   Anybody?   Shit.     Oh well. So what has happened in that month? sfaJill and I went to Kansas City over Christmas for her cousin's wedding (DRAMA~! ensued), I returned to work on Dec. 27 only to go home after three hours because of a NASTY illness that prompted me to wish for death a bit later that same day, 2007 went away (thank God), and the Jack household acquired a new puppy. There was also more work drama that caused me some grief, but that's so par for the course these days that I've stopped caring about it too much.   Here's the highlights:   As I stated, sfaJill and I flew to Kansas City to attend her cousin's wedding on Dec. 22. I was actually excited about the trip because, as a guy who has lived in southeast Texas my whole life and whose family is all in Texas, I've never seen real snow. So when I heard that the KC area was supposed to get a heavy snowfall after we arrived, well, I got excited. Sure enough, about four hours before the wedding, the white stuff started falling, slowly at first and eventually turning into a blizzard heavy enough to prevent a few local family members from attending the wedding. I was delighted. SNOWii   (Side note: I was ecstatic about the snow until I realized I was going to have to drive in the shit.   I wasn't aware of it, but, apparently, as the husband of a bridesmaid, I was eligible to be volunteered for random jobs related to the wedding. It was determined the day of the wedding that I was to chauffer the bride and her accompanying bridesmaids to the spa where they were getting their hair and nails and shit done, sit around and wait until they were finished, and then drive them all to the church (thank God said spa was in the middle of a shopping center that had both a Borders and a GameStop within it). By the time they were ready to go, a solid sheet of white had covered the ground, meaning my first snow driving experience would be with the added pressure of having a nervous bride on her way to her wedding in the car. Nothing bad happened--so it's all good--but when you have zero experience with snow and that black ice shit all over the road, well, it is a little unnerving.)   The drama of the weekend came later that night, after the wedding. As we would learn the next morning, upon arriving at her room for the night, the bride discovered that the nearly $300 in cash she had had in her purse earlier that day was missing. She conferred with her sister and discovered that $60 was missing from her purse and one of the bridesmaids noticed that her purse was cleaned out as well. It was determined that someone had stolen it during the ceremony from their purses, which were left unattended down in the bridal room.   The problem? sfaJill, her sister, and the groom's sister (yet another bridesmaid) didn't have any money stolen from their purses.   This led to sfaJill's brother being accused of the crime. The theory was that he had the opportunity (someone said they heard him say he was "going to the bathroom"--just down the hall from the bridal room--just before the ceremony started) and a motive (needed money to buy more weed, which he does smoke from time to time); the fact that he was arrested last year for having beer in the trunk of his car when he was only 20 years old is further proof of his being a ruthless criminal. Also, there is supposedly a tape that shows he was the last one to come back up the stairs, but no one but the bride and her parents have seen that tape so who knows.   Well, once THAT little accusation came out, all hell broke loose. sfaJill was livid (if there is one thing you don't do in her presence, it's talk shit about her family). Her parents were livid. Lots of ugly words were exchanged from all sides, and the entire rest of the trip was just an ugly, drama-filled mess that has cooled off only slightly since. What fun. God bless family.     On a happier note, we got a new puppy. sfaJill's one aunt is a breeder and gave us one that she won't be able to sell because of a double-jointed front leg. He's a Siberian Husky that we've decided to name Wrigley. sfaJill's cat is less than happy about the dog's arrival.  

sfaJack

sfaJack

 

Office stuff

- Surprise, surprise. Barely one month after announcing that they were moving up our annual salary adjustment to January 1 (instead of the usual April 1), our managment has issued an e-mail stating that it has now been delayed "until after the first quarter of 2009" due to the DAMN BUSH ECONOMY.   Sigh.   And they honestly wonder why we're so cynical around here.   ------------------------   - Also in that e-mail was the announcement that they are delaying the construction of our new west Houston campus. This news was devastating to sfaJill as her company suddenly moved their offices to the southwest side of town last year. Since we live in the northeast side, she and I have decided that we will be moving closer to that area if/when construction of our new campus gets underway or we are able to get a decent price for the house. But, for now, she will continue making the 80-mile (roundtrip) commute that she hates.   Somewhere, I'm sure EricMM is weeping...   ------------------------   - The official company holiday party is December 5. I RSVP'd that we will not be attending, without even telling sfaJill that this party exists. sfaJill, however, has RSVP'd that we WILL be attending her company's party on the 13th.   ------------------------   - The official Thanksgiving meal for our floor is next Wednesday. Normally, this would involve them collecting $5-10 from each of us to pay for the catered main dish and people would bring a pot luck side dish/dessert if they chose. Well, this year, according to the email: "As this is a busy time of year with both work and home life we will not be taking up any money for a collection for this luncheon."   DAMN BUSH ECONOMY! Has it gotten so bad that people can't even spare $5 for cold, overcooked Thanksgiving turkey??? Dear God Osama, help us! We need you NOW!!!!   I declined this party as well, for the record. There's no way I'm spending any time making a dish to bring and that apparently is the price of admission.   ------------------------   - I'm so glad I'm not a Houston Texans fan. I don't know if it's poor coaching or that their (apparent) talent isn't that talented or some wicked combination of both, but they might be worse than the Oilers ever were.

sfaJack

sfaJack

 

Tired of wet backs

During these long, hot Texas summers, what better way to beat the heat than to buy a vehicle with air conditioned seats?   ----------------------------   There isn't one single goddamn radio station in this town that is carrying the MLB playoffs. I mean, seriously--what the FUCK is up with that? We have FOUR sports radio stations in this town (including an ESPN radio affiliate) and not one of them can pick up even the shitty Westwood One network calls of the games? Christ. I knew I should have taken the rest of this afternoon off.   ----------------------------   So I just got this invitation through the mail here at work from something called the "Houston Energy & Finance Forum." I've never heard of it, but apparently they know who I am ( ) because I've been invited to attend some luncheon/seminar they're hosting next Wednesday at the Hyatt downtown. The topic? Building a career and a life, which apparently means they're going to speak about integrating my professional, personal, and spiritual life into one big harmonious pile of crap. I'm not sure I want to know who thought this up or what the purpose is.   What I would like to know is how they got my name because, after discussing this with a co-worker and asking a few individuals around the floor, it looks like I might be the only one invited to this thing. Nobody else seems to know anything about it. There hasn't even been some lame company-wide e-mail sent out informing us of this prestigious event.   Oh, wait, what's this? Does it say here that the CEO of my company is part of the host committee? The same CEO that I've never met and whom probably wouldn't know who I was if I walked up and punched him in the face right now? Or...wait. Does he actually know who I am and is fully expecting me to attend this thing? Have I been put on some sort of "rising star" list around here (just as one co-worker/partial supervisor has been saying for months) that requires me to go to things like this? Should I ignore it completely? Should I call them to say I'm not coming? Should I go and indulge in a free lunch?   I have no clue. And I have no idea what to do.    

sfaJack

sfaJack

 

Ah, vacation

The TSM Blogosphere has been busy lately with talk of vacations and all the "problems" that go along with them. This got me thinking about some of the trips we took as a family (myself, Mom, Dad, and little brother)...and some of the problems that came with them (though none of them involve my dad getting the cops called on him).   Mount Rushmore/South Dakota I think this was around 1990 or so. I remember this was the trip that my mother tried an experiment to get the two of us to behave in the car during the long ass drive: bribery. She got two rolls of quarters out of the bank and gave one to each of us. Each time we "acted up" or otherwise got into some trouble along the way, we had to pay her a quarter; any quarters left at the end of the trip could be used at the video arcade and if we made it through the whole trip without losing any quarters, we would get another roll each to use at the arcade upon getting home. This was a big incentive to us...until we were fined a quarter each for horsing around at the motel pool in Oklahoma City after the first day's drive. Then we suddenly didn't care much anymore.   The real disaster of this trip came out in the Badlands when the family car got a flat tire literally out in the middle of nowhere. The tire was so flat and our car so weighted down with luggage and whatnot that my dad couldn't even get the jack underneath it to change it out. Three hours of sitting in the hot sun, just waiting for some help. And me, being the little ultra-worrywart I was at the time FREAKED OUT at the prospect of dying out there. Eventually, a state po po came out and called a wrecker for us, but there were some tense moments as I was losing my mind and my dad was pissed off that he had a problem he couldn't solve alone. Then later, when my dad was forced to pay what he considered to be highway robbery for a new tire; well, that was good times at then end of that particular day.   Washington D.C. Thanksgiving 1986. My mom, brother, and I had flown to D.C. (my first flight ever, and the only time we EVER flew anywhere as a family) to visit my dad while he was at his FBI Academy training in Quantico, VA. This trip was fine...until the flight home. That's when I, having neglected to tell my mother about the stomach ache I'd had all day, couldn't take anymore and threw up all over the guy sitting in the seat in front of me.   My mother was mortified.   The comedy highlight of the trip came later when we were close to landing in Houston when I reached into the seat back pocket in front of me pulled out the airsick bag, turned to my mom and asked, "What's this lunch sack for?"   New Braunfels, TX I don't remember exactly when this was, but I was probably 8 or 9 or so. We went to stay at grandmother's house one weekend in New Branfels for a couple days of tubing down the river and playing at Schlitterbahn. Unfortunately, on Day Damn One we went tubing. My brother and I were sharing a tube and, when we went over one of the sets of rapids, the tube dumped over, spilling both of us. To make a long story shorter, I got caught in the current and couldn't make it to shore alone; this guy that was standing on the bank ran out into the water and pulled me out.   As a result, I had no desire to go anywhere near the water the whole rest of the weekend which kind of threw a wrench into the whole 'weekend water fun' plan. My dad was frustrated by this, even going so far as to say, "You didn't drown! What is there to be afraid of?"   Yeah, so anyway, there we were, heading back home less than 36 hours later, me terrified of the water, my dad pissed off at me because we had driven all the way out there for nothing.   San Antonio Summer 1995. The brakes on the family vehicle give out on the way back to our hotel from Fiesta Texas. By 'give out' I mean the brakes would stop the car...but only if you were going 15 mph or less and had extra room to stop. Instead of calling (and paying for) a tow truck, my dad decides to drive the 20 miles back into town at approximately 10 mph, earning us probably 100 dirty looks from all the angry motorists behind us as they passed us.   I'm still amazed to this day the we a) didn't rear-end somebody and b) get pulled over for going 10 f'n miles per hour.     Quick highlights from some other trips:   - My dad bought my brother and I new fishing rods before one of our many trips to the lake. One the first morning of this trip, we'd been out there for about an hour when I reached back to cast my line...and somehow let go of the rod as I flung it forward. SPLASH! My brand new fishing rod is damned forever to the depths of Lake Somerville. Dad is pissed when he realizes what happened.   - My brother leaves his winter coat at a Long John Silver's on our way back home from a family gathering in central Texas. He realizes this within five minutes of us leaving the restaurant, but fails to tell my mom out of fear of getting in trouble. Instead, he chooses to wait until we are over halfway home to say anything; that doesn't go over well with the parents.   - And I won't even mention the time we were in Arlington and decided to stay at Six Flags Over Texas an extra couple of hours instead of walking over to the Ballpark in Arlington and purchasing tickets to that night's Angels/Rangers game as we had talked about earlier in the day.  

sfaJack

sfaJack

 

No pizza on Sweetest Day

So sfaJill and I were in Target last night walking up towards the registers when I noticed a display of 'funny' Halloween cards featuring our Presidential candidates. There was one with the Obamessiah on it that read something to the effect of "this man might be our next President--and you thought Halloween was scary" (cue laugh track).   I briefly thought about buying it and sending it to my dad, but decided against it because he'd probably 1) think I've turned gay because I sent him a card in the mail and/or 2) lecture me about "wasting 43 cents to tell me something I already know."   Then I noticed a display for greeting cards for "Happy Sweetest Day!" This conversation occurred. Guess who is who:   "What the fuck is 'Sweetest Day?'"   "I don't know. What are you talking about?"   *picks up a 'Sweetest Day' card* "This. What is this for?"   *looks at card and then display* "I guess it's kind of another Valentine's Day!"   "Great! Another day to waste $80 on flowers that will be dead in 72 hours!"     After some checking of the world's leading information source, it appears Sweetest Day is some midwest Yankee tradition that started innocently enough but has since evolved into another Hallmark holiday that's now starting to spread overpriced candy and unfunny cards to our neck of the woods down here. When will this crap ever stop?   Though I must admit I'm shocked that it took this long for it to reach Texas. I guess George W. must have spent some of his time laying off some people in the Hallmark marketing department and they're just now catching up on the workload.   I told sfaJill not to expect anything for Sweetest Day. She seemed fine with that.   ----------------------------------------------   The party's over for kids who pass Texas's high school standardized test.   I remember taking this test, then called 'TAAS', in 10th grade. I also remember all of us getting to go to Pizza Hut to celebrate passing this very basic test of academic skill (you know it's basic skill level when my dumb ass misses only 4 of the multiple choice answers ON THE ENTIRE TEST). I do not remember not seeing the kids who failed the test not being at this wonderful celebration but I didn't think anything of it. Of course, it was nearly 15 years ago now.   This is my favorite part of the article though:   Note to Robert Scott: it is also pretty easy to identify which students failed this test when, on state-mandated "Re-test Day", they are 'absent' from class because they are in the library retaking said test. No, that's not obvious at all. Nope. No way.   So if I decide to NOT meet the basic requirements of my job, my boss should not give raises to everyone else so that I don't feel too bad about myself?

sfaJack

sfaJack

 

Obligatory pet post

Weird. I wrote this post at least a month ago, but apparently forgot to actually publish it.   -----------------------------------   Posting about pets is the latest craze to sweep the TSM blogosphere so I thought I'd blatantly steal the idea and post about our pets.       Sassy   I'm not really a cat person. I don't mind them, but, if given a choice, I would opt for a dog. That said, this is Sassy. Sassy is about 8 years old. sfaJill got her after seeing a posting on a campus bulletin board back in 2000, which means she's had Sassy about a year longer than she's had me.   Sassy is a very 'talkative' cat and used to be pretty tolerant of other kitties/animals--until she became an 'only cat' after sfaJill and her sister stopped living together a few years back. I know this because when we were keeping her sister's cat a year and a half ago during their move, Sassy would spend all of her time keeping Cocoa (who isn't very well adjusted and thus terrified of just about everything) "trapped" in a particular corner of the kitchen. It was so bad that we ended up having to put another litter box in that corner because Cocoa--too afraid to leave the safety of her corner perch and risk getting attacked by Sassy--would just do her business on the kitchen floor. Stupid cat.   Where was I? Oh yeah...   Sassy's had a pretty charmed life: all the food she could want, constant attention from sfaJill, sleeping on the bed with us, etc. She's even managed to make some strides in getting my general household rule of "no animals on the furniture"--a rule that held firm for about 5 days after sfaJill moved in back in December 2006--relaxed by constantly testing my patience with it to the point where it's not worth the effort to fight it anymore.   Sassy probably felt like she was the queen of the world. So imagine her dismay this past New Year's Eve when we brought home...       Wrigley   Yes, he is named after Wrigley Field. We got Wrigley when he was 8 weeks old from sfaJill's aunt, who breeds Huskies, Akitas, and Bernese Mountain Dogs. Wrigley was free to us because he supposedly has some joint defect in his leg and was thus unable to be sold (note: thus far, there is no sign of that defect). sfaJill, who has never had a dog before Wrigley, had been pushing to get a dog for a while (supposedly because I 'needed' a dog); I was against the idea because, as someone who's had dogs most of my life, I know how much work it can be to take care of one--especially a puppy--and our lifestyle (gone 12-13 hours a day for work) might not be a great fit for a dog. Certainly not one that requires a lot of attention like huskies do anyway.   But because she was so insistent and I would have had to put up with an unprecedented level of whining if we passed on a 'free' dog, I went against my better judgment and agreed to get the dog. The results? Mixed, at best.   Good: - He is fun to play with.   - He is always thrilled to see anybody and is usually happy to just be in the same room with you.   - Gives me an excuse to go to the dog park and semi-flirt with the MILFs that bring their dogs there. (I'm kidding. Sort of. I just like looking at the MILFs.)   Bad: - The dog has seperation issues. We actually had to start leaving him outside during the day because he was either destroying the kitchen or climbing over the gate into the living room and destroying stuff there, in addition to pissing and shitting on the carpet. He's been better since he's been staying outside, but still...way too anxious about being by himself.   - Nothing in life is free. What I mean is that, within three months of our getting him, he had to go in for surgery because he ate a piece of bark mulch out of the flower bed and it got lodged in his intestine, making him unable to digest anything and/or poop. Total cost? $2600. At least we were able to get him neutered at the same time.   Since then, the 'tab' has kept on growing. For instance, just yesterday, sfaJill told me that after I had left work and while she was in the shower, he ate $4 worth of winning scratch-off lottery tickets.   - He has dug a few holes in the back yard and absolutely destroyed the back door with his constant jumping and scratching at it. This has not made me very happy, for obvious reasons.   - There are other things to list here, but I doubt anyone gives a shit and I'm going to have to get back to work here. Suffice it to say, I'm not totally impressed with the dog.

sfaJack

sfaJack

 

Has ANYTHING happened this week?

sfaJill is not very political and seems to only watch the news when there's something about a tragedy affecting young children so she can have a good cry. She's a registered voter, but I can probably count on one hand the number of times I recall her watching/listening to anything to do with the recent apocolypse election.   She told me a few weeks ago that she didn't plan on voting at all because she didn't feel it would be right since she didn't know much of anything about either candidate, as if I'd divorce her because she didn't vote (though I did tell her I WOULD divorce her if she voted for the messiah--but that's neither here nor there). To paraphrase her:   "All I know is that Obama is black, Palin's a woman, and you don't want Obama to win."   Well, this past Saturday after the messiah's latest "redistribute the wealth" gaffe came out (in the form of that "I didn't realize selfishness is now a virtue" quote), I was bitching about it to her when she stopped me.   "Wait, he wants to do what?"   "Redistribute the wealth. Apparently we're selfish for not wanting to just give it away."   "So he wants to take our money and give it away?"   "Yes. Mostly to poor (black people)."   "FUCK HIM. I work my ass off for my money. Those people don't do shit and he wants to give them MY money?? FUCK HIM! I want to vote for McCain."   No comment as to whether I was suddenly turned on or not...   ------------------------   Drawmuh~! at the in-laws: I was somewhat surprised to learn that my mother-in-law absolutely hates McCain and has apparently been loudly and proudly telling people she voted for Obama.   My father-in-law, on the other hand, was quoted by sfaJill as saying, "I'd prefer if McCain wins."   ------------------------   My dad--who HATES Jimmy Carter and has been saying Obama=Carter since before he vanquished Hitlery--had this to say when I called him Wednesday to talk about something totally unrelated:   "Did you see what Russia already did today? I told you!"   ------------------------   On Wednesday, sfaJill and a few of her current and former coworkers got together for lunch. I was invited because, well...I don't know why. I went though because an excuse to get out of the office for lunch without coworkers is fine with me.   Upon arriving and shaking hands with one of her coworkers he, noticing the black polo shirt I had on, leaned in and said, "Ah, man, I forgot to wear my black shirt to mark the death of the United States of America." Then we laughed.   And, no, there was no motivation behind my choice shirt. It was just next up in the rotation. A great bit of political commentary in hindsight though.   ------------------------   One of my coworkers says she voted for Obama. Not because she's enarmored with Obama but because, "I want the Republicans out. They have caused all of our problems."   I told her I'm blaming her for everything that goes wrong in the next four years and I expect to hear no bitching about any of it from her because, hey, the Republicans cause all of our problems.

sfaJack

sfaJack

 

Bed bugs and birthdays

So I was rudely awakened a little past 4:30 this morning by my wife (who NEVER wakes up before me) suddenly turning on the overhead light in our bedroom and yanking most of the covers off of the bed. Her reason? She thought she felt a bug crawl across her leg, freaked out, and felt the need to find and destroy said bug.   After a couple of moments of frantic searching for the bug and a few incoherent ‘what the FUCK are you doing??’ grumblings from me, she gave up, turned off the light, and went to take her shower telling me, “Just go back to sleep, honey.”   What the fuck ever. There was no way I was getting back to sleep after that.   My alarm goes off at 5 a.m. anyway so it’s not like I lost a lot of sleeping time...but still. She’s got to be kidding.   I blame my being (according to a coworker) “more grumpy than usual” today on this incident.   --------------------------------   Speaking of my wife, her birthday was yesterday. I got her a sappy card, one of those chocolate chip cookie cakes, and a couple of necklaces. She was thrilled with all of it, which was good. Despite her being relatively easy to please with gifts, I'm always nervous whenever I give her anything. That's probably because I never EVER want to relive the time I prepaid three months worth of a gym membership as a "bonus" gift for a birthday of hers a few years back. Even though she'd been mentioning a couple months prior that she wanted to start working out again that was a HUGE mistake that I paid a hefty price for.   Still have horrible memories of that fight to this very day...

sfaJack

sfaJack

 

The customer is always right

mole started a thread about some con artist that tried to get their hands on a free GPS thingy that seems to have turned into yet another “retail horror stories” thread. Reading it made me reminisce about my days working in a grocery store deli/bakery back in college—the one and only job I’ve ever worked where interacting with dumbass customers is/was an integral part of the job—and, since I only bring interesting, hard-hitting content to this blog, here are a few of my fondest memories of that job, presented in no particular order, in a countdown format.   The year was 1999…   #3 The store was understaffed on an unusually busy day, so the courtesy booth clerk and assistant manager were forced into checker/bagging duty, making it our job in the bakery/deli to answer the store’s phone. I was the lucky one to answer this call:   “Good afternoon, thanks for calling Brookshire Bros. How can I help you today?”   “Uh, yeah…I’ve got a question for you.”   “Ok.”   “Are ya’ll still gonna sell gas after Y2K? ‘Cuz, uh, you know, I hear there won’t be gas and stuff like that.”   “Yes, sir, I imagine we will.”   “Oh. Well, ok. That’s good.”   *click*     #2 One week, there was an unadvertised sale of 8-piece fried chicken dinners for $2.99 (insert joke here). Or at least it was supposed to be unadvertised—when the weekly circular ad ran in the paper that Sunday, the 8-piece deal was listed. Problem was that, since it was supposed to be unadvertised, our manager had only ordered a bit more than our usual amount of raw chicken for the first part of the week.   I’m sure you can guess what happened. By early Tuesday afternoon, we ran out of chicken. This was bad news for me since I worked the evening shift.   So this one bluehair comes in around 5:00 or so and, of course, asks for the special. I launched into the same “I’m sorry; we don’t have any more chicken” speech I’d already given 35 times in the past 3 hours. This was incomprehensible to her.   “But your ad says you have chicken meals for $3.”   “I know, ma’am. But we are completely out of fried chicken.”   “So if you don’t sell chicken, why do have chicken on sale in the paper?”   “No, ma’am. We do sell fried chicken. We just don’t have any in stock at the moment.”   …   (points to the rotisserie chickens) “But isn’t that a chicken right there?”   “Yes ma’am, but that is a rotisserie chicken. It’s not on sale.”   “So which chicken is on sale then?”   “The fried chicken.”   “But I can’t buy any?”   “No, because we don’t have any in the store.”   …   “I don’t understand why I can’t buy that chicken right there.”   “You can buy it. But it’s not on sale.”   “I can’t buy that chicken for $3?”   “No.”   “Well, I just don’t think that’s right.”   And just like that she was gone.     #1 It was a normal Saturday afternoon. I had been mostly working the meat slicer that afternoon, but thanks to my coworker’s impeccable timing, he went on break just minutes before a big, angry guy came into storming over to our counter, carrying a bag of our fried chicken. He put the bag on the counter and said, “I need a refund.”   “Ok, sir. What’s the problem?”   “This chicken ain’t cooked, man. It’s all raw.”   “Alright, well, I apologize for that. I can definitely help you out. Would you just like another bag of chicken instead?”   “Nah…I just want my money back.”   “Ok. Give me just one moment.” I took the bag and looked inside to see if the chicken was actually raw. What did I find inside?   A pile of chicken bones, stripped almost completely clean.   After a double-take, I spoke up. “Sir, did you eat this chicken?”   “Well, yeah, man. How the hell do you think I know it ain’t cooked?”   “So…wait a minute. You ate this chicken, even though it was raw?”   “Uh, yeah.”   “I can’t give you a refund.”   “Why not?”   “Because you ate the chicken!”   He protested again and asked that I call for the manager, which I was more than happy to do. The manager, who wasn’t all that sympathetic to customers’ problems to begin with, listened to my recap of the story, took one look in the bag and told the guy that not only would he not be receiving a refund but that he was not to order chicken or anything else from our bakery/deli or bother any of his store’s staff with anything else ever again. After bowing up and trying to look intimidating, the big guy declared this to be “shitty customer service” before leaving rather quietly.

sfaJack

sfaJack

 

First entry

So this is it—the first entry of what is sure to be one of the least-read blogs on TSM.   I’ve had a couple of web adventures like this before.   In college, shortly after I quit writing for the student newspaper, my then-roommate and I collaborated on a little website (hosted on Angelfire) that focused primarily on the sports news around our campus. It was a mild success; we had a small group of dedicated readers and even gained a tiny bit of infamy when my roommate wrote an editorial listing 23 reasons why the football coach shouldn’t have been fired (reason #12: “His wife is hot and we don’t have enough hot women around here”).   That lasted about nine months before we had to shut it down because 1) I had to get another job because I needed cash and we were not earning a dime from the website and 2) it was taking a little too much time to maintain properly.   Fast forward about four years and I opened up my own personal blog. I think all three of my friends read it…once. After a year or so, I lost interest and erased the blog from existence. It wasn’t that good anyway.   So now, I’m giving this whole blogging thing another go. I won’t promise to update on a daily basis, but I do promise to try and make a few posts a week while also making said posts interesting. Given that most of my blogging will be written while I’m “working,” there’s a decent shot of at least the former happening.   If it ends up being neither, well, bite me. It’s not like anyone’s paying me to be entertaining.

sfaJack

sfaJack

 

Quick blurbs before I head home for the day

- So the Giants won the Super Bowl. Whatever. I didn't even turn the game on until halfway through the 3rd quarter, but I guess I saw the most important parts of the game. What a spectacular 4th quarter. If you'd offered me a $1,000 bet that ELI MANNING of all people would lead his team 83 yards in just over 2 minutes to win the Super Bowl, well, you'd have $1,000 of my money because I'd have taken that bet.   As for the result of the game, well, it sucks...and yet it doesn't. As a Cowboys fan, I fucking hate the Giants. Plus, I wanted to see the Patriots go 19-0 just because 19-0 is really fucking impressive and will probably never happen again in my lifetime, if ever. On the other hand, neither Randy Moss nor Junior Seau will be getting Super Bowl rings. So I'm torn.   Pitchers and catchers report in a couple of weeks. That's all that matters at this point.     - Tax cuts my ass. After doing a quick estimate of our income taxes this past year, it appears that getting married did nothing for me except reduce the amount of my refund by a little more than half. Of course, total income reported is more than double what it was last year, but still?     - sfaJill is pissed off. We turned in our wedding album to the photographer in September and still have not received the final copy of it despite it being promised to us "no later than January 10." She just called to say that she is on her way over there right now to (presumably) beat the hell out of someone. I told her I'll stop by the bank on my way home to pick up her bail money. She laughed.     - After FOUR MONTHS of discussion, my company's latest "reorganization" has finally been completed. I've been here just over six years and this is the SIXTH official "reorganization" during that time. It's mindboggling.   Anyway, this one has actually affected me because I am being pulled out of my little corporate accounting black hole and switched over to our projects group, which is a total change in job responsibilities--and exactly what I needed.   What's ironic is that the day this was announced was the very same day that I spent some of my time in the early morning browsing the job listings in the paper for the first time in three years.     - sfaJill and I signed up with 24 Hour Fitness over the weekend. I don't want to pay $50 a month for this, but since our gym here at work closed and we have no room in the house for workout equipment it is the best option (especially since I hate jogging and will do damn near anything to avoid it). Our first workout is tonight. Should be fun.

sfaJack

sfaJack

 

Friday bullet points

- Not paying too much attention to the Olympics, but then again I never really do. I'll probably watch a little more once the track and field stuff gets going but until them, eh. Whatever. All I know is that Phelps is fast in the pool and the Chinese are apparently cheating at gymnastics.   - FUCK AUDITORS (sorry, Smues). Seriously, I've spent the last five weeks basically leading our company's response to 993 seperate questions raised in a client audit about all of our 2007 invoices for this one job we have. Don't get me wrong--it's important work, especially since it's this company's second-most profitable job. But when I have to waste my time trying to track down what an $11.62 charge at a little bodega in London on some dude's expense report from March 24 of last year was for, well, let's just say that it's not exactly a great use of my time.   - Story of the week in Houston has been Victoria Osteen vs. a Continental flight attendant. At least the jury came back with a sane decision. The only way it could have been better would have been to award Ms. Brown $1.   - Cubs in first place, 4 1/2 up on Milwaukee. Times are good.   - We've hired a contractor to paint the inside of our house over Labor Day weekend. Normally I would be opposed to doing so, but 1) I hate painting and 2) we've been talking about painting it ourselves for 4 months now. Clearly, hiring someone is the only way it is actually going to get done.

sfaJack

sfaJack

 

One more confirmed Romo-sexual

The Cowboys looked damn good in crushing the Bears last night. Tony Romo looked like a top 3 quarterback once again in shredding the vaunted Chicago defense. With his performance last night, I have to finally admit that my crush on Romo and his awesome playmaking ability has turned into full blown man love. Romo can flat out play and anyone who was convinced that the botched snap in Seattle last year would ruin him has been proven wrong. Watch him any time he makes a mistake--he just shakes it off and goes out and does something to make up for it.   A few Cowboy thoughts:   - The defense is still shaky without Terence Newman fully healthy, but at least they finally had something resembling a pass rush last night. Maybe they're coming around.   - Patrick Crayton shouldn't be playing if his broken finger is going to prevent him from catching easy touchdowns, but with Sam Hurd showing some skill, his absence might not be as noticeable.   - Marion Barber is a beast. If only he had a little more speed.   - Ken Hamlin is a big upgrade over Keith Davis.   - The Leonard Davis signing isn't the "worst move of the offseason" as some pundits were saying. Yeah, he's overpaid but he's so much better than Marco Rivera's corpse was that it's worth the $$$.   - I still don't like T.O. and all the baggage he brings to a team, but at least he's catching the ball and making plays this year.   - Jason Witten is no longer the best kept secret in the NFL. Jeremy Shockey and Antonio Gates are good, but they ain't Jason Whitten.   - Terry Glenn isn't even playing yet. Once he gets back, look out.   - There's a decent chance the Cowboys and Patriots will be 5-0 when they meet Oct. 14 in Dallas. In the four years we've had Cowboys season tickets, I don't think I've ever been more excited about attending a particular game.   One thing: if my 23 years of experience rooting for the Cubs have taught me nothing else, I have learnved to never get too excited until the season plays itself out. But if you wanted me to make an argument that the Cowboys are not the class of the NFC at this point in time, I'd have a hard time doing so.     One note on the referees, Ron White and his crew from last night should be, if not outright fired, suspended for a couple of weeks. At the very least they should not collect their paychecks for this week. What a horribly officiated game. For all the blustering and cracking down that Roger Goodell is doing on everything else around the league, why are the referees allowed to continue to be this shitty without some real measure of discipline? Get on it, Commish.  

sfaJack

sfaJack

 

Liberal college bias, furniture shopping, and sfaJill gets embarrassed

For anyone who thinks that college professors are not liberally biased, I present this evidence to the contrary:     Am I surprised? No. Do I really care about this? No. There is liberal bias in the press every day; what does it matter if there are liberal professors in college classrooms, right?   Speaking from personal experience though, I graduated from a Texas college and I don't recall a great deal of liberal bias in any of my classes. Then again, I was an accounting major and wasn't required to take very many courses that could be politcally slanted. Although the prof of my graduate-level international management course had a crazy, almost personal obsession with Augusto Pinochet.   The most political prof I ever ran across was in, strangely enough, political science. That guy made it clear from day one that he was liberal and never made any bones about touting such views. You'd think that could make lots of folks unhappy, but, surprisingly, the women in the class were the ones most appalled by him. The most entertaining day of the entire semester was when he pissed them all off by saying that women should lose their right to vote because we elected great guys like Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln before they could vote and guys like Nixon, Reagan, and Bush 41 since they got the right to vote. Highest of high comedy that day...   ----------------------------   So where has "Notes From Cubicle 211-A" been the past two and a half months? Busy. Thanks to our company reorg, I've been reassigned to our Project Accounting division and my new duties have left me with precious little time for TSM, the no-longer-green board (WTF happened there??), and porno. It's a real bummer. Hopefully though, all this real world shit has finally eased up and I can get back to my normal daily routine of pretending to work.   Ah, wedded bliss:   We did some furniture shopping over the weekend. sfaJill's been having some trouble sleeping and has decided that it's my fault because my tendency to toss and turn several times during the night disrupts her. And of course, to her, the obvious, not-expensive-at-all solution is to buy a new, king sized bed. After most of Saturday shopping, we found exactly one that we she liked. The price for the just the king bed though is $2,200 so it's back to the drawing board.     Also while we were out, we stopped into JC Penney so I could pick up some new slacks for the office. While sfaJill was waiting outside the dressing room for me, this little boy (who couldn't have been more than 2) who was waiting nearby with his mother, started talking to her. sfaJill loves kids so of course she was eating this up. So when I come out to model the new slacks for sfaJill, the little boy moves behind me and is now standing between me and the dressing room door. I turn to walk back in, and this exchange happens:   Boy's Mom: "Jared, please come here and get out of his way."   Me: "Oh, he's fine. I've got a dog at home that is always in the way, too."   I didn't think much of it. In the truck a bit later though, sfaJill, who had been sitting in silence most of the way, suddenly said, "You know, you really embarrassed me back there."   "What are you talking about?"   "With that little boy. You compared him to a dog right in front of his mom."   "What? You're embarrased by THAT? It was a harmless comment."   "You called him a dog in front of his mom. I don't think she liked that."   "Did she say anything about it?"   "No."   "Then how do you know it offended her?"   "Well, it embarrassed ME, so I would think it bothered her, too."   "Oh. Um...I'm sorry? I guess my 'filter' broke again."   "You should really get that thing fixed or replaced or something."   I thought about sarcastically asking her to put it on the honey-do list, but decided it was best not to risk pissing her off and ruining the rest of the furniture shopping fun.

sfaJack

sfaJack

 

Home Makeover: Jack Edition

Another reason for me to be upset about the Cubs' getting bounced from the playoffs this past Saturday night:   I (stupidly) had promised sfaJill that, after the Cubs had completed their World Series run, we would begin work on painting and re-doing our guest bathroom (sans the bubble towels we she registered for but didn't get as a wedding gift) before moving on to the rest of the house. Barely three hours after the Cubs lost on Saturday, she turns to me and says, "We should go buy some paint tomorrow."   Oh, goody.   A little backstory:   I bought/built the house four years ago because I'd grown weary of both apartment life and renting and basically haven't done anything to it in regards to decoration since then (i.e. all the walls inside are white and there isn't much of anyting hanging on them to liven the place up a little bit). I'm fine with it. Every room is furnished with nice stuff and there isn't much clutter clogging things up. I also kept the place pretty neat and tidy, as is my nature.   sfaJill, however, is not fine with it. And that is where the conflict lies. She HATES the plain white walls and the nice, neat way I had things organized. Apparently, the house doesn't look "lived in" enough and is "boring." Whatever.   I've been successfully delaying this whole remodeling thing since she moved in last December, but now I'm out of excuses that she will accept.   So, yesterday, we spent two hours of prime football watching time wandering around Lowes. We picked out shades of blue, green, brown, and "sand" color paints. We looked at new light fixtures, towel rods, shower heads, etc. She tried to start picking out stuff for our bathroom (which we are going to pay someone to overhaul), our bedroom, and the kitchen, but I was able to put the kibosh on that by convincing her that we should probably just start with the guest bath and see what happens from there.   $300 later, we returned home with paint, a new light fixture, shower head, two towel rods, a paper holder, and a whole list of other crap she wants for other rooms.   Now...do I know anything about electrical wiring and/or hanging a light fixture? No.   Do I know how to take apart a toilet so we can paint behind it? No.   I should be able to change out the shower head, but is it likely to take me less than hour's worth of cursing and breaking shit before I get it right? No.   I have painted before and do a pretty good job at it, but it's a tedious chore I'd rather just skip. Plus, I just know that if there is the slightest hint of a streak in any area I paint, I will be asked to do it again.   This should be fun!  

sfaJack

sfaJack

 

Farewell Texas Stadium

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 tragedy game at Texas Stadium this past Saturday night. I think I've written before about how we held season tickets to the Cowboys for the last four years but declined to renew this season for a variety of reasons. Going forward, we figured that we would just pick a game or two each season and acquire tickets from the Internet, possibly even throwing in a road game every now and then (if I can ever convince my dad to get on an airplane). For this season, we figured why not go to the final game ever at Texas Stadium?   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.

sfaJack

sfaJack

 

Mailbag...?

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.

sfaJack

sfaJack

 

Vick, wedding album blues, and the in-laws are coming to visit

Everything that can be said about the Michael Vick/dog-fighting thing has been said, so I’m not going to throw in my two cents. I’ll just note that since everyone is saying he’s unlikely to be suspended (at this point in time anyway), I’m really hoping that the Falcons make the Super Bowl so that the league will have that over their heads during the biggest moment of the season. At the very least, it would give everyone an actual topic to beat into the ground during the excruciating two week layoff, instead of the same old “5 reasons why ‘Team A’ can’t win” crap.   Plus, it’ll be fun watching the boys at ESPN try and spin it to protect their second-favorite black quarterback.     My wedding was a little more than three months ago and it’s still giving me grief. A couple of nights ago, the missus declared that it was time we started going through all of the pictures taken by our photographer (who sucked) and pick the ones we want for our official wedding album. I’ve been successful in delaying her on this for a month, but suddenly she’s gotten it in her head that this must be done NOW. Whatever.   Anybody who has been through the process of doing this knows how much of a pain it is: you go through the thousand pictures that were taken, make note of the ones you like and then try and pick what sizes and layouts you want for the various pages in your album.   In our case, there were 976 pictures to sort through to get a 20-page album. FOUR AND HALF HOURS after we started going through all the pictures, we emerged, cross-eyed, with a list. Now, even if we were to pick only the layout templates that can fit four 4 X 6 pictures onto each page, we’d have a maximum of 80 pictures for the album. How many did we have on our list of “pictures wife would like in the album” after our 4 ½ hours of fun?   159.   Oh, Christ.     And speaking of wedding bliss, my in-laws are coming into town this weekend. This means that I can look forward to hours upon hours of my mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and wife watching HGTV (at max volume) while my father-in-law sleeps on the floor and the 3-year-old nephew runs around destroying shit because his mother is too engrossed in HGTV to give a shit. And this is after we have gone to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at fucking McDonald’s because that’s the only place that has a playground. Oh boy.   My only possible saving grace is that my wife’s birthday is next Wednesday and one of her friends wants to go out and celebrate on Saturday night. She’s hesitating to agree because her parents are going to be in town and she “doesn’t feel right” about not spending every waking moment with them. I said fuck that and am strongly encouraging her to go. Her going out would give me a whole evening to myself as the in-laws won’t want to hang out with me without wife around. So here’s hoping…

sfaJack

sfaJack

 

All for one and one for...me

Inspired by kkk's latest bout of wedded bliss, here's one that happened yesterday afternoon:   (I'm in the kitchen eating one of those "fun size" 3 Musketeers bars when sfaJill walks in) "What are you eating?" "3 Musketeers." (flabbergasted) "Where'd you get that??" "From the bag in the pantry." "What bag in the pantry?" "The bag of 3 Musketeers on the second shelf in there." "I didn't know they where in there. When did we get those?" "Wednesday. I picked them up at Kroger. Remember when I stopped to grab that chicken on the way home from work that day?" "I can't believe you hid them from me." "I didn't hide them from you. They were on the freaking shelf in the pantry." "Well, you didn't tell me they were in there. You know I never look in there!!" "No, but I also didn't tell you that I bought some more milk that day, too." (pause) "Well, you know I love 3 Musketeers and you didn't tell me you bought some. You hid them so you could have them all to yourself." "Uh...yep. That's it."   She stomed off to our bedroom and slammed the door. I just went outside for a while and, when I came back in, she apologized and said that she didn't know what was wrong with her or why she was getting pissed off about "stupid stuff." I just told her it's part of that whole "being a chick" thing. Surprisingly, she didn't smack my arm.

sfaJack

sfaJack

 

Thanksgiving: avoiding in-laws and watching football

I wandered around the floor here a few minutes ago and counted 15 people. In my group, there are exactly two of us here (out of 11). That raises the question: is everyone else lazy or am I an even bigger sap than I realize?   Probably the latter. Oh well. At least I've gotten a lot of work done today. No coworkers = no obnoxious noise, which makes me happier and more productive.   The only downside is that now I'm going to be watching the clock as it is customary for management to dismiss us a few hours early today. That usually happens around 1:00, which is 25 minutes away. It will seem like an eternity...   -------------------------------   So Thanksgiving is tomorrow. That will make for a nice four-day weekend. Yay. sfaJill's family will be gathering at her sister's house tomorrow for the traditional Thanksgiving crap. I'll bet $100 that this gathering will include her brother and mom yelling at each other about whatever his girlfriend has done lately to piss mom off, sfaJill's sister continuing to give sfaJill the silent treatment over some shit that I said/did three months ago regarding their son, and my brother-in-law's mom pissing everyone else off just because she's a total bitch and that is her specialty.   Fortunately, thanks to the magic of the Cowboys playing their usual Thanksgiving Day game, I will be 250 miles away, basking in the glow of what should be an easy win over the Jets. Thank you, Cowboys. Thank you. I will have to listen to a phone call from an exacerbated sfaJill later that night during which she will declare that's she tired of their "bullshit" and is THIS CLOSE to cutting them out of her life, but that is a small price to pay for getting out of sitting through all the fun.   So, in the spirit of celebrating Thanksgiving, all of its excesses, and football, I'm going to steal an idea from kkk and post my picks for this week's games. The difference is that I'll pick them straight-up because, well, it's easier.   Green Bay @ Detroit I'm taking the Packers, but I hope the Lions can pull one out here because that would mean the Cowboys would effectively have a three-game lead on the Pack in the race for home-field after they beat Green Bay next week.   N.Y. Jets @ Dallas Cowboys were flat against the Skins last Sunday, which is to be expected after two huge road wins over Philly and the Giants. That will not happen again. Cowboys by 17.   Indianapolis @ Atlanta Injuries or not, the Colts should kill them. Joey Harrington sucks, yes, but Byron Leftwich has been even worse this year.   Buffalo @ Jacksonville I actually think Jacksonville has a chance to mess with the Patriots in January, if Mike Peterson gets well and Garrard can have a really good game.   Denver @ Chicago What a horrible game. Denver is like three last second field goals from being 2-8 and the Bears just suck. Bears to win, but only because they're at home.   Houston @ Cleveland Texan fans, who are desperate for ANYTHING resembling mediocrity, are whispering about possibly grabbing that second wild card. Well, that train gets derailed this week.   Minnesota @ N.Y. Giants Just a hunch here. I just can't believe in the Giants (and no, it isn't just because they're a rival for the 'Boys). They've beaten exactly nobody of note, unless you count beating the Lions on the road as a "somebody." And I don't.   New Orleans @ Carolina I'm only picking the Saints because the Panthers seem incapable of doing anything right.   Oakland @ Kansas City If JaMarcus Russell doesn't get at least a few snaps this week, Lane Kiffin should be fired.   Seattle @ St. Louis Seattle isn't very good, but they will be good enough to beat the Rams.   Tennessee @ Cincinnati I don't care how much VY sucks, I'm not picking the Bengals again this year. They've screwed me over many times already.   Washington @ Tampa Bay Just because Washington can go to Hell.   San Francisco @ Arizona Let's go Cardinals! Time for somebody other than Seattle to rule the West. That and the Niners are really, really horrible.   Baltimore @ San Diego I'm picking the Chargers, but I'm secretly hoping the Ravens blow them out so that (hopefully) LT will start to become so angry about having to play for Norv Turner that he demands a trade to Dallas so he can come home and lead the 'Boys to another Super Bowl next year. Hey, Dallas does have an extra #1 to offer...   Philadelphia @ New England Won't even be close. No comment necessary.   Miami @ Pittsburgh Ditto. The Steelers should be good and angry after getting slapped by the Jets.  

sfaJack

sfaJack

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