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.

An homage to Geocities

All I can say is thank God Geocities is shutting down today. I wouldn’t have known that save for a link sent to me by my coworker. The link was to xkcd.com, one our favorite sites, which today featured a tribute to Geocities websites of old.

In case you missed it, here is the XKCD homepage today:

XKCD homage to Geocities thumbnail

Anyone else as glad as me that most of those websites (*cough* MySpace *cough*) are now off the internet?

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

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

History in the making

This was sent to me by a friend of mine. It was entirely too poignant and memorable to not share.

In a few short days, a black man will move from his private residence into a much larger and more expensive one owned not by him but by the taxpayers. A vast lawn, perimeter fence and many well-trained security specialists will insulate him from the rest of us, but the mere fact that this man will live there should make us all stop and count our blessings — because it proves we live in a nation where anything is possible.

Many believed this day would never come. Most of us hoped and prayed that it would, but few of us actually believed we would live to see it. Racism is an ugly thing in all of its forms and there is little doubt that if this man had moved there 15 years ago, there would have been a great outcry — possibly even rioting in the streets. Today, we can all be both grateful and proud that no such mayhem will take place when this man takes up residency in this house.

This man, moving into this house at this time in our nation’s history is much more than a simple change of addresses for him — it is proof of a change in our attitude as a nation. It is an amends of sorts — the righting of a great wrong. It is a symbol of our growth, and of our willingness to judge a man, not by the color of his skin but by the content of his character.

There can be little doubt now that the vast majority of us truly believe this man has earned both his place in history and his new address. His time in this house will not be easy — it will be fraught with danger and he will face many challenges. We’re sure there will be many times when he asks himself how in the world he ended up here, and, like all who have gone before him, the experience will age him greatly. But in every way a man can, he asked for this. His whole life for the past fifteen years appears to have been inexorably leading this man toward this house. It is highly probable that in the past, despite all of his actions, racism would have kept this man out of this house. Today, we thank the Lord above that we are Americans and live in a nation where wrongs are righted, where justice matters and where truly anything is possible.

A nation where O.J. Simpson is finally going to jail.

What, you thought this was about Obama?

The importance of knowing your target market

Tonight I was walking out the door to go to the store when I saw a package on the ground. Not recognizing what it was I decided to pick it up and look it over. It was a sample from Safeway, our local grocery store.

What was it a sample of, you might ask, knowing that something normal would never get me to write about in my blog?

You’re going to love this…

It was an Always pad. With wings.

Now that, in and of itself, isn’t ridiculously funny. The kids thought it was a blast. At least that is what my wife told me. But there was something that I found to be terribly funny about it.

You see, Safeway sent it to me. That’s right. A pad. Addressed to a Mr. Robert Gonzalez.

Anyone have any ideas what I can do with one of these things?

The front fell off

The other day I received an email that detailed how similar politicians are no matter where around the world they may be. I thought that certainly Americans had the upper hand when it came to our elected leaders being political. I may have been wrong.

It seems that Senator Bob Collins from Australia is the example to follow when being political. He recently gave an interview regarding a tanker ship that experience a horrific accident at sea. The accident, one in which the front of the ship detached allowing 20 million tons of crude oil to spill into the sea, happened near Australia.

You gotta see this…

Amazing, isn’t it? I have yet to see an American politician pull something like off.

Side bar: If you hadn’t guessed while watching the clip, it is a satire by John Clarke and Bryan Dawe, an Australian comedic duo that have been doing satires of weekly events, called the 7.30 report, for some time now. You gotta admit, they are darn funny.

From the news of the weird file

According to an email I received recently:

When southern Florida resident Nathan Radlich’s house was burglarized recently, thieves ignored his wide-screen plasma TV, his VCR, and even left his Rolex watch. What they did take, however, was a generic white cardboard box filled with a grayish-white powder. (That’s at least the way the
police report described it.)

A spokesman for the Fort Lauderdale police said, ‘it looked similar to high-grade cocaine and they probably thought they’d hit the big time. Later, Nathan stood in front of the numerous TV cameras and pleaded with the burglars: “Please return the cremated remains of my sister, Gertrude. She
died three years ago.”

The next morning, the bullet-riddled corpse of a local drug dealer known as Hoochie Pevens was found on Nathan’s doorstep. The cardboard box was there too; about half of Gertrude’s ashes remained. Scotch-taped to the box was this note: “Hoochie sold us the bogus blow, so we wasted Hoochie. Sorry
we snorted your sister. No hard feelings. Have a nice day.”

Now I am no fool. I know that since it came through my email it must be true. But the smart guy in me told me that this sounded like the stuff of urban legends, so putting my skepticism to work (sorry intarwebs but I had to) I started doing some research.

The first thing I asked myself was can this really happen? I answered that pretty readily by explaining to myself that yes, criminals are really that stupid. And many could easily mistake cremated human remains for cocaine. Especially since it was hidden so inconspicuously in an urn.

But then I thought to myself what is the likelihood of this happening? And for the answer to that, I had to look the infallible intarwebs square in the eye and humbly ask it if it could look something up for me.

It did it, albeit hesitantly.

And you know what? Other people have also received this same email about Nathan Radlich. So I stopped thinking that I was special. And I started looking a little harder at whether this was really true.

And I found out it wasn’t. The stinking emailwebs lied to me. Not the intarwebs. No, the intarwebs stayed true and loyal and only gave me the truth (as it always does). But no such luck for emailwebs.

But its all good. Later on, when I pour a foedee on da floe foe mah dawg Hoochie, I will do the same for the emailwebs.