Friday, June 22, 2007

SNL- Sally O'Malley

We have a new appreciation for Molly Shannon after this one.

SNL - Urigrow Commercial

To entertain you while I'm away.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Sounding Like a Broken Record

I have a really great idea for a blog post, but I don't have the time to devote to it right now. It doesn't paint me in a good light, but I'm going to be honest with you about how a teenaged boy once thought.

But not today.

Thanks for the well wishes, the comments and the visits. I'll be back when things slow down. I haven't done any writing in two weeks, so what free time I get I need to at least get some done.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Making a Splash

I've been diligently trying to make a splash at my new job. For those who don't know, I took a chance on a Michigan company that hired me sight-unseen over the phone. Contrary to my wife's suspicions, they are on the level, and I came home from my visit with them with all my organs. As soon as my name was on the dotted line, they let down their guards and told me that filling my position was difficult. They struck out twice trying to do so. The first developer worked for three months before admitting he was in way over his head. The second played cool, but was totally unreachable for two weeks. When the company called, the wife answered and would say he just stepped out.

So that is the environment I stepped into. All eyes were on me. I got myself an MSN account because they all communicate via the MSN messenger. At first I would get two or three messages first thing in the morning: "u there?"

They gave me an easy assignment as a test to see if I could deliver. Part of the assignment involved a technology I've only heard about, but have never personally worked with. Fine. They knew that from the interview. Sometimes it pays to be honest. But what I did say is that I'm capable of picking up the new stuff and making a go of it. They took me at face value.

I backed up the talk, finishing the assignment in one day.

No ticker tape parade. But I can only imagine the collective sigh of relief.

But working at home is presenting me with some challenges that I hadn't foreseen. I'm working harder than I did when I went to the office. My writing time has been impacted. I used to go away and do so at lunch, but now I barely even take a lunch. My friend Clay called it new-job-enthusiasm, and baby I've got it. The wife has suggested that we eat lunch, take a walk, then I should sit down and write every day.

How's that for support!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Hits Just Keep On Coming

You may recall the post in which I declared that against my initial instinct, I forced my son, Jackson, to play baseball. This caused me some inward reflection. One the one hand, Jackson didn't want to play, but on the other, he never really wants to try anything new unless it involves the Nintendo DS or mass consumption of sugar. He is seven years old after all; even though he looks older, and in many ways acts older, he's still just a little boy.

This weekend I was painfully reminded that he was on the field against his will. It didn't help that we just saw Meet The Robinsons, where we come to find out that the bad guy started down the dark path of his life because he fell asleep in the outfield and lost the little league championship for his team.

Jackson struck out three times in a row. I sat next to him on the bench and tried to console him, but he was on the verge of tears and was unreachable. We'll go to the batting cages this week, I promised. Everyone goes through a slump; you just have to work through it. Hollow words upon deaf ears. His heart was broken.

I questioned the decision to make him play. Were those welled-up tears because he had let me down? All my words of reassurance would never take that away. He would believe only what he felt in his heart, that his daddy wants him to be a good baseball player, to go onto the majors and make millions of dollars.

His next at bat, a miracle happened, a crushing ground ball through the infield. His smile as he leaned toward second was the healing balm of my heart. Thank God! The next at bat, same thing. At this point I hoped the game would end, but his name came up again.

I was all nerves as he stepped up to the plate. You might be laughing right now. It's of little consequence, you might think, a little league game like this, so early in life. But, in my opinion, this is the time when patterns are learned, and what, for better or for worse, will be repeated throughout a peron's lifetime. For instance, if I would have pulled him out and let him quit, he would likely always be a quitter, and never know what its like to fight through adversity.

His last at bat, Jackson hit a rocket into the outfield, over the fields heads and it rolled to the fence. I could have killed the first base coach for not sending him to second base, but I'll take it nonetheless.

The best part is, the coach gave Jackson the game ball. One of his teammates, who is also in Jackon's first grade class, said that he has never seen anyone from the team hit a ball harder.

This is what I was talking about. That's the feeling you don't get sitting at home playing Gameboy.

Friday, June 08, 2007

A Vision

At the airport in Detroit, I met the two guys with whom I will be working, assuming I like the job and they like the code I produce, for the next several months or even years. The guys both work remotely for the company, and have been for six plus years apiece. So we all met at the airport and went to Enterprise together to pick up our cars.

Individually we were responsible up front for charging for our own accommodations, including the car. I got the smallest compact, but as I was being escorted to it, the man said to me, For seven dollars more a day you can be driving a Mustang--how would you like this black one?

One look and I said gleefully, I accept!

But first I had to talk the guys into doing the same, which they did.

So already I was taking advantage of my new employer, but so were the incumbents.

I met up with Kathleen as well, after asking the wife for permission. I thought about just doing it and saying nothing, but how would that have looked, huh? I called Mr. Schprock for advice on the matter, we being two bloggers who have met and have an interest in meeting our fellow bloggers when opportunities like this arise. Be up front about it, he advised, supporting the decision I had already made. My wife was really cool about it.

By the way, Kat is super cool!

I was the new guy, that's for sure. I'm used to being the center of attention because I'm so fucking funny, but I had to take a back seat on this trip. The guy I'm working for is a story teller just like me, and I squelched the urge to offer counters to his stories at a company dinner. A little voice told me to keep my mouth shut. I've heard that voice before, and though I rarely listen to it, it has never been wrong.

I managed to get some reading done on the trip. And I worked on the dreaded outline for my story. Lo and behold, it produced positive results. I might actually have most of the story worked out from beginning to end. Not totally, but in essence it's there. In two weeks I'll present it to my writers group and see if they don't think so too.

I met out with my writing mentor last evening for a few drinks. We bounced around Lowell and hit three pubs. He's a university professor, and knows almost everyone there. He's got the gift for gab, and really draws others into a conversation. Our waitress at the last stop was, how should I put this, out of this world. My mentor asked her a question and she broke into a long animated talk about her future ambitions with nursing, dancing, etc. I barely heard a word of it because I was too busy watching her mouth form the words. She had perfect everything, and was so unpretentious and sweet. She reminded me of the kind of girl I had a crush on in college, the kind that dated presidents of the best fraternities. I was also reminded of Rachel Smith, our Miss USA that fell down and popped back up and went back to work like there was nothing to it.

I'm married, so don't get the wrong idea. She was a vision, and so is my wife.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Entrepeneurial Spirit

This has been my week between jobs. Last week I said goodbye to my old company, and I felt a pull. The pull of self doubt. Pull is actually a weak word -- tug perhaps is more appropriate. But this week I find myself completely at ease. The people I thought I would miss so much, let's just say not so much. This isn't my first rodeo cowboys and girls.

I know these lyrics by heart:
I've been in and out of love and in between
And now we play the final showdown scene
As the credits roll the sad song starts to play
And this is where the Cowboys rides away.

Into the city named for the man who defeated Santa Ana after the massacre at the Alamo. Did you know that Santa Ana went into exile in Cuba after that? And that he was brought back by the Americans on the condition that he rally popular Mexican opinion on the side of America in the southern Texan border dispute, thirteen years before the Civil War? He was given troops, and then he marched against us.

I had no idea.

Thank you Jeff Shaara for making it so interesting.

Ah, so, like I was saying...

I'm flying to Michigan to meet up with my new employer on Sunday. My wife asks me if I'm sure this company is legit; I say I guess so. How do you know they aren't organ harvesters?

My son (two weeks ago?) got paid thirteen dollars for a back rub at school. He's in first grade (to give you perspective). Keep in mind that we had to piece this all together and pay a visit to the school principal.

It all started with a note from the teacher reporting that my son was inappropriately touching a girl in his class.

Now I don't know what races through your mind when you hear (or read as it were) such a statement, but head was spinning. He wasn't much use under interrogation. Funny, but he was not unlike Bill Clinton, deftly dodging the questions, not really answering, or playing along with the scenerios I posed, that kind of thing. Then it was useless to keep asking.

Then I saw the money in his Pokemon wallet. I said Where did you get that money? He says her name. For what? Rubbing her back. I think, I thought you said it was an accident. But then I think, No, I suggested that it was an accident and he played along.

I go downstairs and tell my wife. I'm calling her parents, I say. I can't have them thinking that we would keep it. No, my wife says, Let's talk to the principal.

Next morning I'm in the front office. He's a fuzzy little man, a pip squeak, the kind that always got picked last. I interrupt the coffee talk he's having with the secretaries, or whatever they call themselves these days.

We go into a side office and slide him the money and explain.

He laughs, says What kid would turn down money? I laugh too, say, I have to admit, I admire his entrepeneurial spirit. But where did the girl get all that money?

He scratches his head, says I'd better check and see if she still has her field trip money.