Banished to the working chair

Last night, while the family and I settled in to watch It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, I decided to try to redeem some much needed work time and code while we watched it. So I took my position on the couch, opened my laptop and began to work. A few seconds later I heard “If you’re going to work, can you sit in the chair instead of on the couch?”.

The chair is not at all in front of the TV. In fact, it is to the side of the TV, so watching TV from the chair is not ever going to happen without serious neck pain afterward. So I asked “Is that my punishment for working during the movie?”. To which I was responded to with “No, I just don’t want you to take up space on the couch that the kids who are actually watching the movie could use.”. That made senses to me, since our couches are kinda small and in order for all seven us to sit on them we almost invariably have to have a child or two on either my lap or my wife’s lap. So I switched seats.

As I worked from my chair of solitude I was able to see my family sitting on our couches, all comfy and not squished, laughing at the movie and generally enjoying themselves. It was a scene to behold, momma with all her kids at her side, the glow of the TV reflecting off their faces, the small smiles every now and again creeping from their faces. There was one scene in particular, which I cannot recall since I could not see the TV, that really touched me in which all five of the kids and my wife chuckled and let out a corporate “Awwwww”. It was at that moment that I realized how blessed I am to have such a wonderful family to work as hard as I do for.

Yes, I would have loved to have been able to sit with them and enjoy the movie. Times being what they are, I had to work last night. For them. Because they are worth it, they deserve it and I love them enough to work for them. So my time on my little punishment of a chair was well spent, in my opinion, if even for a short time. And I’d do it again if necessary, though I hope the necessity of that will not show itself. Still, I work because I love them and want the best for them.

Perhaps next time I will be able to spend that time on the couches with my family.

The brilliant observation of a three year old

Last night, as we approached church, we all noticed a blimp flying off in the distance. As we got to church Sandi noticed that the blimp was getting lower and lower to the ground.

Thinking it was about to land, she said out loud “I wonder where the blimp is going to land? Is it going to land at the airport?”

Without skipping a beat my son, all three and half years old of him, says “No mom, it is going to land at the blimp port”.

I love my son.

No whale hunting in Oklahoma

Ever read one of those little snippets that makes you take a second to really listen to the text of it again in your head, just to make sure your brain and eyes are communicating properly? What if you read a whole list of true facts/laws/ordinances that seemed to make no sense but are nonetheless still true facts/laws/ordinances?

The other day I was sent a link to a listing of strange facts and like a train wreck I could not look away. So rather than fight the urge to stay clear of the nonsense I dove headlong into it.

From that list, here are my top few favorites:

  • You can’t plow a cotton field with an elephant in North Carolina
    But dude, that would be the best way to do it because they animal is sooo big.
  • In Lehigh, Nebraska it’s against the law to sell donut holes
    Probably because of some high schooler’s shenanigans where someone woke up one day and found the middles of their donuts missing.
  • Every citizen of Kentucky is required by law to take a bath at least once a year
    Because once a decade is really not considerate enough.
  • It is against the law to whale hunt in Oklahoma
    Think of the whales that will be saved by this one. Whew!
  • In Breton, Alabama, there is a law on the town’s books against riding down the street in a motorboat
    Again, darn high schoolers. And I had a big time summer trip planned in Breton already. Complete with the motorboat. There goes that one.

In honor of the beginning of April… HAPPY APRIL FOOL’S DAY! 🙂

Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes, the bug

The Miami Herald reported earlier this week that a man was shot to death while trying to rob a local Miami Burger King restaurant. The suspected robber entered the restaurant, tried to rob the store at gunpoint and was subsequently shot to death by another patron who was carrying his own weapon.

An afternoon shootout at a busy Burger King restaurant in Miami left a potential robber dead and the customer who shot him seriously wounded.

The bloody event unfolded about 4 p.m. Tuesday at the restaurant at Northeast 54th Street and Biscayne Boulevard. It was a time, employees said, when it is usually crowded with schoolchildren and people getting out of work early.

Did you know there are people that would have you believe that carrying a gun, even owning a gun, should be outlawed? Imagine if the citizen in this story didn’t own his weapon. How badly could this have turned out? Of course, it did turn out badly, but not for the law abiding citizens in the restaurant.

In fact, the day turned out to be a pretty bad day for the suspected robber. After all, he thought he was going to score some cash and walk out of that restaurant. Man, did his day turn out different than he expected or what?

Just goes to show you:

  • You should never rob a fast food joint
  • Criminals are stupider than crap
  • The 2nd amendment is still a good thing

A case for competency

Every wonder how companies manage to stay in business after totally shafting their customers? Companies do it all the time… say one thing and do another. Or just not do what they say they will. Or better yet, do something they say this will not. It is bound to happen, as long as humans are involved with the process, that mistakes will occur.

I have been the on the business end of a few bad customer experiences myself, but none have been as awesome as that of George Vaccaro, the poor soul that could not find a single Verizon customer service rep that would attest to a difference between 0.002 dollars and 0.002 cents. This dude had the wherewithal to record two of his conversations with Verizon when he was erroneously charged for data transfers while in Canada.

For the record, a friend of mine, Matthew Turland, posted a link to the xkcd.com posting of this issue on Facebook and after reading the initial blub I decided to listen to the audio. At 27 minutes it weighed in pretty hefty, but since it was only audio I figured I could still work while it was playing.

I was a little wrong on that. Not because I couldn’t work while listening. No, it was more because I couldn’t work while laughing so hard. The seemingly mindless drones that work for Verizon (or worked for them) could not answer in the affirmative the question of “Is 0.002 dollars the same as 0.002 cents?”. Not the first level representative, not the level 2, not the supervisor. It was freaking awesome.

Which kinda goes to show you that you can succeed in business even if you are a dumb as a bag of hammers. If you can answer a phone and charge people for anything you want and for any amount you want, contract or not, then you are well on your way to millions. They may not be reliable millions, but do you really need to be concerned with that? 0.002 doctors would say probably not.

Friday funny

Sometimes you just need something to laugh at on a Friday. I introduce you to Bizkit, the sleepwalking, er, running, dog:

No, you won’t go straight to hell for laughing at that poor creature run headlong into a wall after waking up from a dream in which he was obviously running after something. But if you play it back again and again and again, well then, I can’t be so sure.

Now this one here I especially love because, if you look at his head about halfway through, you can telling he is hauling butt in his dream. He is moving so fast that he actually moves himself in a circle. How awesome is that? Of course that belligerent look at the end is pretty funny too:

Speaking of belligerence, this poor guy can’t seem to snap out of this dream. He is actually standing up barking in his sleep:

Yeah, we all need a little something something to laugh at this Friday.

To all my valued employees

A friend of mine sent me an email yesterday containing a “letter” from a business owner to his employees. While I am certain this is not a real letter, the context of the letter is worthy of repeating. I cannot give credit to the original author because I do not know who it is. If you know, please let me know. Thanks.

To All My Valued Employees,

There have been some rumblings around the office about the future of this company, and more specifically, your job. As you know, the economy has changed for the worse and presents many challenges. However, the good news is this: The economy doesn’t pose a threat to your job. What does threaten your job however, is the changing political landscape in this country.

However, let me tell you some little tidbits of fact which might help you decide what is in your best interests.
First, while it is easy to spew rhetoric that casts employers against employees, you have to understand that for every business owner there is a back story. This back story is often neglected and overshadowed by what you see and hear. Sure, you see me park my Mercedes outside. You’ve seen my big home at last years Christmas party. I’m sure; all these flashy icons of luxury conjure up some idealized thoughts about my life.
However, what you don’t see is the back story.
I started this company 28 years ago. At that time, I lived in a 300 square foot studio apartment for 3 years. My entire living apartment was converted into an office so I could put forth 100% effort into building a company, which by the way, would eventually employ you.

My diet consisted of Ramen Pride noodles because every dollar I spent went back into this company. I drove a rusty Toyota Corolla with a defective transmission. I didn’t have time to date. Often times, I stayed home on weekends, while my friends went out drinking and partying. In fact, I was married to my business — hard work, discipline, and sacrifice.

Meanwhile, my friends got jobs. They worked 40 hours a week and made a modest $50K a year and spent every dime they earned. They drove flashy cars and lived in expensive homes and wore fancy designer clothes. Instead of hitting the Nordstrom’s for the latest hot fashion item, I was trolling through the Goodwill store extracting any clothing item that didn’t look like it was birthed in the 70’s. My friends refinanced their mortgages and lived a life of luxury. I, however, did not. I put my time, my money, and my life into a business with a vision that eventually, some day, I too, will be able to afford these luxuries my friends supposedly had.

So, while you physically arrive at the office at 9am, mentally check in at about noon, and then leave at 5pm, I don’t. There is no “off” button for me. When you leave the office, you are done and you have a weekend all to yourself. I unfortunately do not have the freedom. I eat, and breathe this company every minute of the day. There is no rest. There is no weekend. There is no happy hour. Every day this business is attached to my hip like a 1 year old special-needs child. You, of course, only see the fruits of that garden — the nice house, the Mercedes, the vacations… You never realize the back story and the sacrifices I’ve made.

Now, the economy is falling apart and I, the guy that made all the right decisions and saved his money, have to bail-out all the people who didn’t. The people that overspent their paychecks suddenly feel entitled to the same luxuries that I earned and sacrificed a decade of my life for.

Yes, business ownership has is benefits but the price I’ve paid is steep and not without wounds.

Unfortunately, the cost of running this business, and employing you, is starting to eclipse the threshold of marginal benefit and let me tell you why:

I am being taxed to death and the government thinks I don’t pay enough. I have state taxes. Federal taxes. Property taxes. Sales and use taxes. Payroll taxes. Workers compensation taxes. Unemployment taxes. Taxes on taxes. I have to hire a tax man to manage all these taxes and then guess what? I have to pay taxes for employing him. Government mandates and regulations and all the accounting that goes with it, now occupy most of my time. On Oct 15th, I wrote a check to the US Treasury for $288,000 for quarterly taxes. You know what my “stimulus” check was? Zero. Nada. Zilch.

The question I have is this: Who is stimulating the economy? Me, the guy who has provided 14 people good paying jobs and serves over 2,200,000 people per year with a flourishing business? Or, the single mother sitting at home pregnant with her fourth child waiting for her next welfare check? Obviously, government feels the latter is the economic stimulus of this country.

The fact is, if I deducted (Read: Stole) 50% of your paycheck you’d quit and you wouldn’t work here. I mean, why should you? That’s nuts. Who wants to get rewarded only 50% of their hard work? Well, I agree which is why your job is in jeopardy.

Here is what many of you don’t understand … to stimulate the economy you need to stimulate what runs the economy. Had suddenly government mandated to me that I didn’t need to pay taxes, guess what? Instead of depositing that $288,000 into the Washington black-hole, I would have spent it, hired more employees, and generated substantial economic growth. My employees would have enjoyed the wealth of that tax cut in the form of promotions and better salaries. But you can forget it now.

When you have a comatose man on the verge of death, you don’t defibrillate and shock his thumb thinking that will bring him back to life, do you? Or, do you defibrillate his heart? Business is at the heart of America and always has been. To restart it, you must stimulate it, not kill it. Suddenly, the power brokers in Washington believe the poor of America are the essential drivers of the American economic engine. Nothing could be further from the truth and this is the type of change you can keep.

So where am I going with all this?
It’s quite simple.

If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, my reaction will be swift and simple. I fire you. I fire your co-workers. You can then plead with the government to pay for your mortgage, your SUV, and your child’s future. Frankly, it isn’t my problem any more.

Then, I will close this company down, move to another country, and retire. You see, I’m done. I’m done with a country that penalizes the productive and gives to the unproductive. My motivation to work and to provide jobs will be destroyed, and with it, will be my citizenship.

If you lose your job, it won’t be at the hands of the economy; it will be at the hands of a political hurricane that swept through this country, steamrolled the constitution, and will have changed its landscape forever. If that happens, you can find me sitting on a beach, retired, and with no employees to worry about….

Signed,

Your boss

National athiest day

A recent line of text caught my eye. It read FLORIDA COURT SETS ATHEIST HOLY DAY. Intrigued, I had to read more.

In Florida, an atheist created a case against the upcoming Easter and Passover holy days. He hired an attorney to bring a discrimination case against Christians, Jews and observances of their holy days. The argument was that it was unfair that atheists had no such recognized days.

The case was brought before a judge. After listening to the passionate presentation by the lawyer, the judge banged his gavel declaring, “Case dismissed!”.

The lawyer immediately stood, objecting to the ruling saying, “Your honor, how can you possibly dismiss this case? The Christians have Christmas, Easter and others. The Jews have Passover, Yom Kippur and Hanukkah, yet my client and all other atheists have no such holidays.”

The judge leaned forward in his chair saying, “But you do. Your client, counsel, is woefully ignorant.”

The lawyer said, “Your Honor, we are unaware of any special observance or holiday for atheists.”

The judge said, “The calendar says April 1st is April Fools Day. Psalm 14:1 states, ‘The fool says in his heart, there is no God.’ Thus, it is the opinion of this court, that if your client says there is no God, then he is a fool. Therefore, April 1st is his day. Court is adjourned.”

Of course, as I read this, in the form of an email, I couldn’t help but think about the disparity between the two sides of the house, if you will. On the one side you have a group of people that vehemently and adamantly deny the existence of God and attempt, at every turn, to dissolve any potential for anyone to believe there is a God. They tend to call those that believe in God fools, dependent and weak because of some cosmic need to have a higher power to lean on.

Then on the other hand you have a group of people that vehemently and adamantly declare belief that there is a God and, at every turn, attempt to convince everyone else that God is not only very real but loves them very much. These people often refer to atheists as fools or weak or rebellious.

So as cute as the little story was I am left with this odd feeling that it misses the point. At the end of the day will there be a place for name calling in heaven? Is there a place for it now? If you are an atheist and you have no God to pray and you do it all on your own what business is it of yours to place a label or judgement upon those that believe in their God?

And if you are a Christian then there is no place for judgement at all among you. Judgement is reserved for the Lord.

Yes, I know I let my tongue get the best of me from time to time. But I honestly can’t but think that God doesn’t want us to call those that do not believe like us “fools”. No, instead I think he wants for us to pray for everyone on their behalf. After all, if Christ is the son to God the father, and God is love, and Jesus’ message was a message of love, shouldn’t we show some of it? Just a thought, to chew on a little…

Exposing differences between men and women

I got this from my sister-in-law this morning and had to share it. There are some expletives starred out (*) so if there are kids reading you might want them to not read this entire post. You have been warned.

Here is a prime example of “Men are from Mars, Women Are from Venus” offered by an English professor from the University of Phoenix.

The professor told his class one day, “Today we will experiment with a new form called the tandem story. The process is simple. Each person will pair off with the person sitting to his /her immediate right. As homework tonight, one of you will write the first paragraph of a short story. You will e-mail your partner that paragraph and send another copy to me. The partner will read the first paragraph and then add another paragraph to the story and send it back, also emailing a copy to me. The first person will then add a third paragraph and so on back-and-forth. Remember to re-read what has been written each time in order to keep the story coherent. There is to be absolutely no talking outside the e-mails and anything you wish to say must be written in the e-mail. The story is over when both agree a conclusion has been reached.”

*** The following story was actually turned in by two of his students, Rebecca and Gary. ***
THE STORY

(1st paragraph by Rebecca)
At first, Laurie couldn’t decide which kind of tea she wanted. The chamomile, which used to be her favorite for lazy evenings at home, now reminded her too much of Carl, who once said, in happier times, that he liked chamomile. But she felt she must now, at all costs, keep her mind off Carl. His possessiveness was suffocating, and if she thought about him too much her asthma started acting up again. So chamomile was out of the question.

(2nd paragraph by Gary)
Meanwhile, Advance Sergeant Carl Harris, leader of the attack squadron now in orbit over Skylon 4, had more important things to think about than the neuroses of an air-headed asthmatic bimbo named Laurie with whom he had spent one sweaty night over a year ago. “A.S. Harris to Geostation 17”, he said into his transgalactic communicator. “Polar orbit established. No sign of resistance so far…” But before he could sign off, a bluish particle beam flashed out of nowhere and blasted a hole through his ship’s cargo bay. The jolt from the direct hit sent him flying out of his seat and across the cockpit.

(Rebecca)
He bumped his head and died almost immediately, but not before he felt one last pang of regret for psychologically brutalizing the one woman who had ever had feelings for him. Soon afterwards, Earth stopped its pointless hostilities towards the peaceful farmers of Skylon 4. “Congress Passes Law Permanently Abolishing War and Space Travel” Laurie read in her newspaper one morning. The news simultaneously excited her and bored her. She stared out the window, dreaming of her youth, when the days had passed unhurriedly and carefree, with no newspaper to read, no television to distract her from her sense of innocent wonder at all the beautiful things around her. “Why must one lose one’s innocence to become a woman?” she wondered wistfully.

(Gary)
Little did she know, but she had less than 10 seconds to live. Thousands of miles above the city, the Anudrian mothership launched the first of its lithium fusion missiles. The dim-witted wimpy peaceniks who pushed the Unilateral Aerospace disarmament Treaty through Congress had left Earth a defenseless target for the hostile alien empires who were determined to destroy the human race. Within two hours after the passage of the treaty, Anudrian ships were on course for Earth, carrying enough firepower to pulverize the entire planet. With no one to stop them, they swiftly initiated their diabolical plan. The lithium fusion missile entered the atmosphere unimpeded. The President, in his top-secret mobile submarine headquarters on the ocean floor off the coast of Guam, felt the inconceivably massive explosion, which vaporized poor, stupid Laurie.

(Rebecca)
This is absurd. I refuse to continue this mockery of literature. My writing partner is a violent, chauvinistic semi-literate adolescent.

(Gary)
Yeah? Well, my writing partner is a self-centered tedious neurotic ! whose attempts at writing are the literary equivalent of Valium. …”Oh, shall I have chamomile tea? Or shall I have some other sort of F**KING TEA???! Oh no, WHAT AM I to do? I’m such an air headed bimbo who reads too many Danielle Steele novels!”

(Rebecca)
A**hole.

(Gary)
Bitch.

(Rebecca)
F**K YOU – YOU NEANDERTHAL!

(Gary)
Go drink some tea – whore.

(TEACHER)
A+ …….I really liked this one.

I could totally see myself having this same interaction with my wife. In fact I could see just about any man having this same interaction with just about any woman over email. Even moreso if they were dating.

Kid funnies for the week

Part 0
The other day we were driving home and my three and a half year old son asks his mother “Mom, did we run over a dead skunk? Something’s stinky.”. Alaynah, my five year old daughter, without skipping a beat, replied “No Aaron, I think it’s just daddy makin’ fart’n’s.”. I love my kids.

The funnier part came immediately afterward though, when Alaynah told AJ “Or it could be my feet. I just took my shoes off.”. Indeed it was her feet. Holy cow pie Batman, we need to get that girl some socks.

Part 1
Before we left for home that night (we were at the in-laws) my father-in-law asked my daughter Sarah if she could see Venus. After a little banter about the bright star in the sky being Venus and not an airplane, we left.

After the fart’n’s incident we were still on our way home and Alaynah asked Aaron if he could see Venus. He replied “I can see Penis. Penis. Penis. Penis.”

Note to those trying to understand boys… yes, we can derive all sorts of entertainment from our penis. And no, we don’t need to be taught that.