Friday, December 21, 2007

Side benefits of Christmas

I have often pontificated on my views of Christmas and have advocated the moving of Christmas to the last week in January or perhaps the middle of February. So far, my pleas have fallen on deaf ears. So I will move on to some of my favorite things that happen during the holidays.

1. Goofy Email ECards for Christmas. Man oh man this must be the coolest thing because you don't get them personally, you get them as a result of being on some cousins gigantic email list. If you're lucky, you'll get a virus too.

2. The Database of addresses. Christmas is a lot like weddings. The thought doesn't count if it didn't cause you trouble. This is why e-mail Christmas cards don't work. They are no trouble. We want you to put yourself out. The best way for that is to take a picture of your family and have it printed on good photographic paper. Then write a long drawn out missive about how well your family is doing. Possibly how blessed they are if you are religious. But now that we have the database of addresses, we can at least mail merge your stupid Christmas card. Problem is, we have to verify it EVERY YEAR and invariably we end up sending the same 3 people cards that won't ever get them.

3. The obligatory office gift. Weather this is an actual gift, or a box of bagels for everyone, it's all the same, free treats! That's why Christmas is so fattening. Everyone is giving food away and you are really going to offend them by not partaking.

4. White Elephants. This has really started to take off apparently. It's even more popular than the standard gift and you get to clean up some crap out of your house at the same time. I'm still using the combination toilet paper dispenser/Alarm/AM-FM Radio. Love it, Love it!

5. Politicians talking about the 'REAL' meaning of Christmas. This makes me all shades of warm and fuzzy. What great leaders we have.

6. Telling your kids that they don't know how good they've got it. That's right, they don't, and what's more, they don't care. These poor cretins only have success and plenty to compare to, so telling them that things used to be really bad for grandma and grandpa falls on deaf ears, but if they are clever, they will look like they understand in order to minimize the holiday preaching.

7. Re-telling of Christmas Stories. Sure, this started with Rankin Bass et al, but even today, we have people trying to tell the definitive story of The Grinch, or The little drummer boy, or even the Christmas story itself. Apparently we were doing it wrong, thank you for showing us how wrong we really are Hollywood.

8. Newscasts about the poor. Need has no season. Boy is that ever true, that's why the salvation army is out there 365/24/7 trying to collect money for the indigent. Then we get the heartfelt story about people that are in need. I understand the news' need to be topical, but please, we probably gave at the office, school, and church already.

9. Talk amongst the elderly about how fast the time flies. This one really does speak for itself.

I'm gonna end it before 10 even though I could go on and on and on (and ramble like I usually do). Have a merry Christmas and enjoy the holiday season in any and every way you know how. If you're reading this, you know I think you're aces and am lucky to count you as my friend.

Merry Christmas etc.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Merry Everything. and a Happy Everything else

I could go into this by going on about how commercialized Christmas is. Blarf. Yes, X-max is commercialized. It's one of the holidays that pits us in a friendly competition against all of our other fellow earthlings. We compete by having an excuse to buy more crap than we afford. First the Pagans had the Winter solstice. The dead of winter. They didn't buy much, they made a few sacrifices here and there and called it good. Nobody was rushing off to Black Friday sales in order to spend more. Well, we needed to convert those pesky pagans over to the unification that Christianity had to offer so lets make Christmas celebrate the birthday of Jesus and give the pagans something to celebrate. Sweet. Sure Jesus wasn't born then, but since when did that matter? Lets fast forward to the discovery and settlement of the US of A and the eventual advent of the Victorian era. This is when Christmas really started to take a bigger shape for everyone financially.

Meanwhile, the Jews are celebrating a pretty second rate holiday in the festival of lights. It's kind of a you don't get a day off for this holiday, but it's something to do when it's cold. Of course their holiday is 8 days and kids started out just getting money. Cutting out the middle man. They ramp it up a bit in order to take part of the spend-fest while their Christian counterparts are draining the family coffers for misplaced celebration of Jesus' birthday.

This goes on in the Judeo-Christian tradition for a while until 1965. Then another group of people that didn't quite feel like co-opting their white masters holiday anymore broke out with Kwanza the Holiday of the Harvest. Kwanzaa season sprung up purely as an anti-holiday to Christmas. It's not been around for a long time in fact, in the 1960's when Ron Karenga came up with it, he decided that African Americans (only the Black ones, not the Dutch origined South Africans) should not celebrate the holiday of their former owners. It has the makings of a fine holiday, it just isn't very widely followed. only 13% of African Americans currently celebrate it. Not a whole bunch, but hey, this isn't about the holiday itself, it's about a reason to spend money. They started out not wanting to look in any way like Christmas, but it seems like many families that observe Kwanzaa do it in conjunction with observing Christmas.

So now we have 3 different holidays filling up space between Thanksgiving and New years. It all amounts to one thing. Black Friday. Sure we can say that it's about Jesus, or some miraculous oil that lasted for 8 days, or some introspection and self improvement, but the fact is, Black Friday (the Friday after Thanksgiving that is the largest shopping day of the year) represents the point in time when retailers finally find themselves in a profitable position known as the black. This is the time of year that makes them able to continue on offering goods and services out to the next end of year. Without the free availability of those goods and services, we cease to be America. The current configuration of Christmas makes it firmly an American holiday. It's a holiday of consumption on a grandiose scale. We usually pay 1-3 hours on Christmas day talking about a baby in a manger and maybe singing some songs. We may offer up some money to a charity not out of our need or even want, but usually out of the fat of our earnings. Very few of us actually will go to a soup kitchen or a homeless shelter and put in a few hours of feel good charity work. It's not that it goes unappreciated, but rather it's like having Dinner all month with no desert and then have one day at the end of the month when you only have desert all day.

While I think the Holiday season is losing it's balance, it is still a holiday that I look forward to most. The holidays have become the high watermark for competition for the most innovative and value packed gifts. We should probably replace any reference to Jesus with an American Flag and move Jesus all the way over to Easter where the only people that smile on a monetary level are the chocolatiers.

Merry $-mas

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Talking to yourself

An online friend recently mentioned in blog that she was particularly regretful of saying something. What it was, we don't know, and it's not important. What is important is the fact that we all do it. Unfortunately, some of us do it more than others. I have been endowed by my creator along with some help from the genetic co-mingling of my parents with a reasonable speaking voice as well as the gift/curse of gab. This is a gift in the truest sense in that I did nothing to get it and very little to refine it, it is just there. Perhaps if I did more to refine/improve this gift maybe I wouldn't do so many stupid things with it.

Bottom Line, when you talk, a percentage of those things you say will be stupid. it's unavoidable. Therefore, if you talk a lot, you will say by percentage, a lot more stupid things. I've recently sent in 2 auditions into a radio station to be considered for a temporary morning DJ. I won't get it. In fact, I won't even be considered. One of the problems with the gift of gab is that you require an audience. If you speak into the void of a microphone with no more material than a strippers pasties, you won't have much to talk about.

I'm actually relieved that i'm giving up on that thing. The holiday season is coming up and I'm doing a reading for a book on CD. Those things by themselves will be enough of a drag on my holiday free time.

What do you do when you have said something stupid and you are regrettably smart enough to recognize it? See it for what it is, and MOVE ON. It's at this point that I would like to emphasize: Just because you are a hypocrite, doesn't mean you aren't telling the truth. Nearly every day, I spend some time beating myself up for being stupid. It serves no purpose and I should stop immediately. Unfortunately my brain seems to have a different agenda. It simultaneously offers up a lively track of the dumbest things I have said as well as the dumbest actions from the archive of my mind all the way back to grade school. Don't fall into my trap. When you're brain conspires to sabotage you, fight back and occupy yourself with some constructive activity. Maybe even blogging ;)

Remember; your brain is your tool, not the other way around.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Ok, so I won't repost my blogs.

I was looking at my blogs and I've decided that even though there are some of them that are still timely, most of them are mired in the details of my life at the time. As a result, reposting them here for public viewing would be a waste of time. If you're that interested, look up the Macotar name in Myspace and look at my old thoughts. Many of which I still agree with.

On that thought I will launch my thoughts on 'Private' Myspace pages. This is an interesting thing to me. Posting your thoughts on Myspace kind of assumes that you are putting them up for public consumption. People that put their thoughts on but don't want everyone to have access to them should think about doing it a different way. It's called a DIARY. Lets be serious, there is no reason at all to publish your innermost thoughts only to hide them from SOME people especially since there is no guarantee at all that your private thoughts will remain private at all. Everyone knows that the best way to keep a secret is to not tell anyone at all.

Now, all that having been said, I'll go on the other side. Mothers, hide your daughters!!! Fathers warn your sons!!! The boogeyman is out there in the form of BIG BROTHER. That's right. People that are only interested in their own ends and have no real interest in you at all may be scanning your blog. This big brother is of course your employer. Some employers are scouting Myspace and other blogs to see if their children, whoops! I mean employees, are doing things they don't approve of.

If you are publishing things like marketing strategy or product specs or other company sensitive documentation, then I have no sympathy for you and you should probably be a little smarter about what you publish, because corporate lawyers are pretty bored most of the time and do very little to earn their keep. So when they have a chance for a slam dunk like shutting down a Myspace page that is spewing company secrets, they will take it faster than a free donut from a blind street vendor (I actually saw this so it's not slander. The lawyer actually stole a pastry from a disabled vendor, a real credit to the profession.).

But I digress. Like so many things that start out as protecting the best interests name, state, you, they start off with something legitimate and then justify their way to invading your 'privacy'. The reason privacy is in quotes because of what I stated above. It really isn't private if you're putting it on-line right? Anyway, if your company is starting to police your myspace page because it doesn't align with how they think you should behave in your life away from work, then you should protect yourself. You COULD password your blogspace, which I would recommend, the other thing you can do is put yourself out under an alias and make no reference to proper names. This would effectively annonymize you. This of course assumes that they are not interested in what you have to say enough to track which computer posted the content.

Man I hate nosey companies that think they own you 24/7, is the US a company?

Friday, November 2, 2007

Why managers are all asses

When I say that managers are all asses, what I really mean to say is that eventually they will all become asses. New, fresh faced, naive managers of course do not count. This is were I fit in for a while. I post this blog because of my opinions on a prior blog written by my friend and cousin Joseph Dewey (we are distantly related through my Grandmother also named Dewey).

This is the Blog: All managers are jerks <-- This isn't what it's really titled, but I've decided to keep my swearing down to a minimum and it's companion piece: All managers are jerks part II .

Here is the problem. Managers are jerks for the same reason that people talking on behalf of God are jerks. No matter how cool they are, eventually they are going to tell you to do something that you don't want to hear and tell you to do something that you don't want to do, and you will take it and do it, but you won't like it. That's when the manager turns from 'he's ok' to the butt of all authority based jokes.

I have been a manager for about 9 months. In this period of time I've decided that I've learned everything I need to know about managing people. Because of that I've decided that there is a definite reason that all managers are jerks or going to be jerks.


Yep, that's the reason. Nothing more. In my stint as a failed manager, I will say that I went into the position with one extraordinarily misplaced assumption; If you treat people decently then they in turn will be decent to you This is a credo that I've tried to live by my entire life. Much of the time this requires TACT. Unfortunately as a manager I've come to realize that this is not at all true. Many people will in fact return your kindness with a knife in the back. More about that at a different time, or maybe never.

Tact is an interesting skill that I've developed over time. It's the conversational art of getting a difficult point across while simultaneously not making the target feel bad. If you are good at it, you never have to lie. If you are bad at it, you lie all the time. For example:

Aunt Edna has a hideous hat that makes her look like a totem pole. She has worn this hat to the symphony much to everyones amusement.
Bad tact: Edna that hat looks so good on you! It's wonderful!
Good Tact: Edna, you're choice in hats is second to none.

Bad tact was that it was a lie. You didn't believe it and neither did she. Good tact allowed her to think the best of what you were saying but leaving room for misunderstanding that you will leave at that.

The problem is that in either case you haven't solved the problem of Edna's hat. In management, it's different. You have to tell someone that they reek of body oder and that they need to shower on a DAILY basis. If you go the tactful route, it will take you about 1/2 hour to deliver this message, and they will feel bad, but they may not dislike you as a result. If you go the direct route "Hey Frank, listen, everyone has been complaining that you stink and you need to get bathed EVERY day". Frank's feelings will be hurt and he will think you are a jerk for saying it like that. HOWEVER you have saved 25 minutes and more importantly you got your point across in no uncertain terms.

Time is money, especially in management. So eventually, managers will tend towards the abrupt and rude methodology not because it's a power trip, but because it saves them precious time. The problem of course is that they can and often do go too far in the other direction and seem to take a sadistic pleasure in the bad news they are delivering to you. They don't have time for hurt feelings etc. If you want to work for someone nice, get a job from your mom.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Me and my cold

Well, I've got a cold.

I hate having a cold. The reasons are obvious. but there is a not so obvious reason. I like to think of myself as some kind of mutant. Not one with any kind of great world saving super power, but rather a mutant whose power is to not get sick very often. The truth is I don't. I would say that in my life I've been sick a grand total of 25 times A.T. (After Tonsilectomy at age 10) I'm not impervious to disease, not at all. And I don't count Strep for some reason. If I did count strep It would probably be about 30 times. Every time I have a bad headcold it makes me realize that I don't have any kind of a mutant ability, I just wash my hands a lot, and that's probably what does it. It's kind of a personal disappointment.

There are 3 stages to having a bad cold.

Stage 1: Denial

You don't actually believe you will get sick. You can feel your throat getting sore, and you call it a 'tickle' and you figure 'I'll just get to be early and that will kick it' Or better yet, you drink a boatload of orange juice or take some kind of herbal crap that your crazy aunt recommends. This is the same crazy aunt that you would no sooner listen to for any kind of life advice as you would give her all of your money to invest, but when you sense yourself getting sick, you start to cast about. It is the most important thing in this stage to completely deny that you are getting sick. If you admit that you are getting sick, the virus will hear you and know that your defenses are about to fall.

Stage 2: Acceptance

You know that you've accepted the fact that you're sick because you wonder if you will ever feel normal again. You think to yourself 'You people should be thankful for your health!" as you check yourself in to the leper colony. Now that you are actually sick, you are going to make the best of it. You go to the store and buy a cold remedy that you've actually already bought the last time you were sick and it didn't work. You don't buy herbal remedy's or any of that other quackery, they have generics, but you don't buy those. Those are the things you buy when your kids are sick because you know they are faking it anyway. This is you. You will take this remedy and it will actually make you feel worse and you will store it in the bathroom next to the other remedy that didn't work before. You exaggerate the effects of your illness in order to avoid any activity that you don't want to take part in. Top of this list of course is Church, some are honest about it and just say they don't want to go, others will take the high road and say that they don't 'want to infect the faithful' The truth is, if you could miraculously transfer your cold to one of those babbling snake charmers you would. But there is more. Family get togethers with the 'wrong' side of the family. Answering the phone. or any other household chore you never liked doing much in the first place or social obligation that you'd rather not attend. Notice that I didn't say take off work. This doesn't occur in this stage. People would rather die than use sick leave when they are actually sick.

Stage 3: Extension

You're on the mend! yay! You've dug through and you're finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. You still sleep on one side or the other to drain your sinus and you refresh your tissue supply in your car and next to your bed. Still, you feel like you're getting better.
You still use your illness as and excuses to avoid unpleasant events, but now you find yourself imitating yourself when you were really sick in order to be more convincing. NOW is the time you use sick time. You feel well enough to take a bit of vacation and so you do. Someone needs to pay for this hell-spawn virus, and who better than your employer. After all, it was probably someone at work that gave it to you in the first place. Now you are in a special club. You are one of the people that 'already had that' and you can easily identify people that are just starting their journey through this viral adventure. You tell them what they can expect as though they had never been sick before in their lives. You are an old hand. You might even offer them your lame cold remedy that didn't work for you.

I'm just falling out of stage 2 and ready to take my time off ;)

Friday, September 28, 2007

My time in Hell has passed

There are 3 things you have in your life.

1. You (duh)

2. Your Family (You hadta come from somewhere)

3. Your Job

After that you have a pretty random set of spices that makes every life different. If one of those 3 things isn't working right, you're life is not going to be very good. In a recent study, it shows that 70% of people actually like their jobs and therefore are pretty satisfied with their life in general.
I am (or was) not among those people. I really disliked my job intensely. It wasn't the work, it's how it was appreciated. But enough about that griping.

I have a new job! This employer seems to be the exact opposite of my current employer. They are generous and concerned about their employees. They allow opportunity for growth and all that as well as give you free drinks and free lunch once a week. Who can pass that up?! certainly not I. It will be a great new dawn in my career.

Before you naysayers say 'yeah, but the grass is always greener' all I can say to you is 'blarf'. This is a phrase my friend Jason Allen made up and I find it to be quite appropriate in many instances. the combination of blah and barf seems to indicate running off at the mouth in a bad way. Of course no company is perfect, if they were, it wouldn't be work, and they wouldn't pay you. But there are shades of gray. As long as the shade i'm going for is lighter than the one i'm in, i'm all for it.

My biggest problem is the people I'm leaving behind. I feel really bad for them. and a certain few I will miss a great deal. I am hoping very much to get them on where I will be working. I only have to find a spot for them.


Friday, September 7, 2007

How to tarnish a perfectly good vacation

Before I actually go into how great and cool my vacation was, I will instead go into just how a money grubbing company can cast a pallor on what should have been a vacation of a lifetime.

1. Work you into the ground - It is no secret that I believe my current employer to be a bunch of 'tightfisted hands to the grindstone' I have worked more overtime there than I have cumulatively for all other companies I have previously worked for. Why did you ask? Well because I figured they would make it right with me when I needed a favor of course. What a sap

2. Try very hard to keep you from going on your vacation. Once you have a vacation slated, they make you cancel that vacation. I had already had a vacation planned and they made me scrap it. I said 'ok, but I'm going to need 2 weeks in a week'. This was my problem. I really should have said 2 weeks and 2 days. But we'll get to that later.

3. After informing the boss that you really needed 2 extra days so you could go with your family standby. Your boss tells you 'Buy a ticket, we can't let you go'. NOTE: This is after displacing you off of your prior vacation and allowing you to work an assload of overtime.

Well, I left anyway. If I have to choose between family and business, I'll pick family every time. The business of course could have bought me the ticket to allow me to stay and work on their ill fated projects (which they blame me for even though I was plunked in the middle of it without much more than a 'hope you can get this crap to work'). I left 2 days early and I was very worried. I had only worked the equivelent of a week of hours the weekend before and the 2 days leading up to the departure date. Why that's only a regular work week. That wouldn't stand. I did pen a long email that detailed what needed to happen on the large project I was working on. Of course I didn't remember to cover 2 other things that were happening. I was later blamed for doing this even though I was contacted and able to direct what to do over the phone in about 5 minutes. That doesn't matter.

I get back from what was probably the best vacation ever... to a full reprimand. Yep, witnesses and everything. they are going to dock my pay 2 days for the time I took early and they are putting me on official write up. Forget again that when the company needed me just 2 weeks before, I already gave up a weeks vacation to do what they thought they needed. Forget that I had well over 2 weeks of overtime under my belt. Forget that everything I was doing WAS being taken care of. No, my vindictive rat bastard boss just had to show the world what a big man he was and give me a reprimand IN FRONT OF MY CO-TEAM LEADS. He asked me what was my good reason. I told him I had to go. He said not good enough you are on reprimand, I've already informed the VP and the head of HR. I said 'good' and left. The one thing I've learned being in management is that there is no reason to hang around and be berated by your mangers when you are being reprimanded. Let them get it off of their little pin heads and get out. Don't defend, Don't fight. It won't matter. The end result will be the same. So I have gone from a job that I really didn't like much to a place that I feel drains my soul at every moment. In fact if it weren't for the quality people that they are burrning like chaff to the ground with me, I could safely say that it is the worst company to work for period. I would rather walk door to door selling magazine subscriptions telling people that I walked to this fine state to give myself a new opportunity instead of dealing drugs in Atlanta. (I met THAT young man the evening after the reprimand).

Friday, June 22, 2007

First blog...sorry...

This is my first blog for this particular forum. I anticipate that this blog will be far less read than my Myspace blog, since the nature of Myspace is social networking. This forum is akin to a large stadium filled with Pro-Choice/Pro-Life advocates that have been seated alternately and been allowed 1 hour to speak their mind. Lots of noise and very little attention. As a result I feel like I will be able to be far less careful about what I say here because precious few people will read it. I intend to post my prior blogs from my Myspace page here more so I have another place to have them in case a terrorist destroys Myspace and with it, my precious thoughts. By precious I mean rare and irreplaceable. Not necessarily containing any intrinsic or other value at all.

Following this line of thought, I will now post the most clever thing I've heard in a long time from a not recent James bond movie. I paraphrase:

Bond: 'Q, You're more clever than you look'
Q: 'Yes and still much better than looking more clever than you are'

It was so quick and so well placed by John Cleese (of Monte Python fame) that it was barely discernible. It's these pithy quotes that make even the worst of movies enjoyable.