Sunday, April 27, 2008

One for the Book - Blinding Flash of the Obvious

This is a category of post I know well and get my self in trouble with occasionally, mostly with my lovely wife. Let's call it the think before we speak category.

Please understand we all have moments when we think things then because of the faces of people around us we can instantly tell that, oops, I must have used my out loud voice to express the thought. That happens to the best of us.

Over the past couple of days I have heard a question over and over again so there must be some disconnect between the visual, the thinking, and the speaking parts of our brains that is degrading. Maybe it is due to the lack of social interaction some people have due to an abundance of television. It could just be a function of I'm going to ask just to see if the answer I hear matches the visual I see. Not sure, I may have stumbled onto my thesis for my PhD. in the land of the non-academic.

I will provide you the visual just as a test. Since I know only the cultured, well informed, smartest, and most articulate read this blog. It is only an example of the test that was given to others.

Okay, what question came to mind? Did you say it out loud?

Since I know you all passed the test with flying colors there is no need to explain the reams of data and surveys that we had to accumulate for this unscientific poll, that was not statistically significant. It wasn't even valid.

Here is the question I was receiving from others in the neighborhood and people coming into the area for the city wide yard sale. With the above sign pounded into the yard, complete with a flyer explaining the asking price, attributes of the home, and a phone number to call for information on both the sign and the flyer, the following was still asked, " Are you selling your house?"

In my head answer:
(Being the good smart a$$ that I am;) Nope, this was just a test of the neighborhood communication system. Had this been an actual attempt to sell, the Goodyear blimp would have been flying over head, I would have rented search lights to crisscross in the sky, and a marching band would have been parading by every 15 minutes. I'm begging you to give me a price below what I am asking so I can feel really good about the decision to sell.

Outside voice answered:
Yes we are. Are you interested or do you know someone that is in the market for a wonderful house with fine neighbors?

I think there is going to be a new telethon established for the think before you speak campaign. If you have ideas on who the spokesperson should be for the national ad campaign or come up with the cool acronym that could be used let me know.

For now, please start saving your pennies for the people you may know who ask questions just to hear the answer! Also, if you know anyone with the number to the Goodyear blimp people...would you share?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Checks are in the Mail - April 28 and May 9

In the words of President John F. Kennedy, “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country. The George W. Bush corollary is; And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country has sent you in your direct deposit or mail box - ask what you can do for your country’s economy. Or in the words of Rod Tidwell, played by Cuba Gooding Jr., in the movie Jerry McGuire, Show me the Money!
On Monday, April 28, 2008 the Treasury Department will begin delivering the first tax rebates by direct deposit, called the Economic Stimulus Payments. During the first week alone nearly 7.7 million Americans will receive their tax rebates electronically. Then on May 9th, the IRS will begin mailing checks to millions more across America.

By this summer, the Treasury Department expects to have sent rebates to about 130 million American households. These rebates will provide eligible Americans with payments of up to $600 a person, $1,200 for couples, and $300 per child.

According to President Bush, “If you've already filed your income tax return your rebate is on the way. Even if you don't owe any income taxes you may still be eligible for a check, but you need to file a form with the IRS. And it's not too late to do so. Now, you can find out information as to how to proceed by calling your local IRS office, or go to the IRS website.”
We, the government, want to make sure everyone who's eligible for a check gets one on a timely basis. This money is going to help Americans offset the high prices we're seeing at the gas pump and at the grocery store, and it will also give our economy a boost to help us pull out of this economic slowdown.

My question to my fellow bloggers, what do you plan to do with your “extra” money? Paying bills, making an unplanned purchase, or saving the money?

Eastern Conference Semi-Finals - Go Pens

Go Pittsburgh Penguins! Yes, it is Stanley Cup play-off time. This is the time of year when hockey gets really interesting. Don't get me wrong I love it all the time. It is just tougher to see all the games.

We are hoping the Pens beat the Rangers to keep moving in the pursuit of Lord Stanley's Cup. They took a big step tonight winning game 1 of the series.
Next game 4/27 & 4/29 this should be fun

Friday, April 25, 2008

I'm Smiling So Much My Face Hurts

Yep, that is what my daughter, Boodles, reported to me and her mom. She was giggling with us as we watched a recent episode on the Food Network. Boodles, wants to be a chef or baker when she gets older. So she works to learn everything she can off the Food Network.

Anyway, as we watched she laughed about something that was said. Then she started to smile, then laugh, then giggle uncontrollably. Then she laughed and laughed and laughed. The funny part is we can't even remember what started the laughing. The situation was something else. So now that she is cracking up her mom and I get into the act. We start laughing and trying to understand what is so funny.

As we try to get to the bottom of the laughing, out comes the little nugget of wisdom. "Mom, I am smiling so much that my face hurts." Well, this kicked off more laughing, smiling, and giggling. It was a great 15 minutes. How relaxing.

Please add this entry into the Book. We will want to repeat this one in the future.

Travel and Luggage

I have watched the news recently with interest as the airlines have announced large losses and complained that the cause of the loss is due to the large sums of money they spend on jet fuel. I would like to advance another reason for the loss of money. It's called customers and luggage.

On three recent trips, within the month, the airlines have made luggage decisions that were not in the best interest of of the customer. In one case American Airlines decided that the bags should be routed to a city that was not the same as the traveler. The bags left the airport before the traveler was even at the gate. On the second occasion Continential, decided that the bags would come to the airport 3 hours after the passenger arrived. On the third instance, Delta, the bag arrived a day after the passenger. I guess I keep hoping to find one who can get it right.

I know. From the airlines point of view it is only one bag and one passenger. The counter employees of the airlines have all been briefed to say, "We handle millions of bags per day, so yours was the problem." That would be comforting except that there are usually 5 to 7 customers per flight. All are told to call a useless 800 number that can't track the luggage past the major airports. The airlines then indicate the lost luggage must be because of something you, the traveler, did.

This logic is fabulous. We, the airline, will do what we want that is convenient for our business, if the bags don't arrive, well, we have lots of work, and then had you, the customer, not booked on a full flight or even carried on your luggage it wouldn't have been lost or delayed. Classic.

These are the same airlines that are complaining that more people are carrying on to the flights over sized luggage that slows down the loading process. The airline attendants openly mock the people that are bring their luggage, carry-on, to the flights. Now, mind you, the airline employees get to do the same thing.

The cost factor for the airline is the bag delivery service that they employ to deliver after the fact all of the loss, misrouted, or delayed bags. Very amazing. Last week this guy had over 15 bags that he was to deliver in a two hour period. Mind you I live over 90 minutes away from the airport.

These airlines are also feel the need to blame the government for the level of service they have to deliver. Why do they have to deliver the stupid safety briefing? Who hasn't clipped together a seat belt?

The amazing thing is that the airline management teams are collecting millions in bonuses and perks for running the business. Unbelievable.

If the rest of us treated our customers this way we would be run out of business.

So, they love to just doesn't show!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Proof that No Good News Comes in Calls after Midnight

On Friday, April 11 at 12:35 A.m. I received the phone call that no one wants to get any time. My father had been injured in a fall and was in the hospital.

When my brother called I could tell by the tone of his voice this was not a false alarm, a nightmare, or something simple. This was THE call.

My answer to every crisis is to get up and get a shower! I'm not sure what it is, maybe I just feel better facing danger, going into the great unknown, or putting my head in the lion's mouth freshly scrubbed. If I'm going to be eaten I may as well be clean.

Within minutes I was in the shower, bags were being packed, and my lieber was on the computer looking at travel options. Within a thirty minute period I was up, showered, dressed, packed, and had travel arrangements in hand.

The next 18 to 20 hours were clocked in a very strange, surreal, way. I was aware that time was going by, but, at times it seemed to be seconds, and other times it was like days. Not sure I can explain it.

This was The big call. There is no coming back from this one. We almost lost him five years ago to a heart virus. Every day after was considered extra time. Cancer surgery last year was tough but he made it with my Mom's help. This was after all "just a fall."

As I traveled into the airport I was thinking about the destination. As I landed at my destination I thought about my Mom. As I used the public transportation to get closer to the hospital I thought about my siblings. As I met my brother I could tell that this was not going to be a close call. This was The call.

Me and my seven siblings, spouses, extended family, and other relatives were at his bedside when he passed on. After 46 years of marriage, 32 years of Military service, 44years of parenting, and 70 plus years on Earth he was heading home.

My thanks to all who sent emails, letters, cards, donations, flowers, prayers, and thoughts. This was a blessing that he didn't suffer and it was quick. It doesn't make it any easier for those left here wanting just one more day, another email, a chance to poke fun, a hug or a shake of a hand. But each day will get better. Please continue to keep my Mom and siblings in your thoughts and prayers.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Ever Had a Rough Day at Work? Its Not What You Are Expecting!

Last week I was headed into the sweat shop, my affectionate name for my office. I was thinking about the day ahead, peeking at my TREO for e-mail, making cellphone calls to friends and family, and just getting my game face on for the day. All of a sudden a car comes shooting from the turn lane into my lane, back over to the far right lane then straightened up to begin moving along. I couldn't believe how poorly executed that entry into traffic had been performed.

At the next light my game prep for the day is interrupted by the slowest person to make a left hand turn in the history of driving. I know, that sounds harsh, I'm sure when the Romans tried to turn their chariots it might have taken some time and skill. Plus the horses were I bet at times a handful. But the person ahead of me at the light. Oh! My goodness.

My e-mail dings. Ah! something to distract me from focusing on the person who still hasn't turned to the left. As I look up it appears there is a car coming in the opposite direction 5 blocks up. So, they will have to wait through the light again to turn. (Let's focus, be one with yourself, go to your happy place. Goose Fraba!)

The e-mail carries news that someone who was suppose to be providing support to a project of mine at work is defying the laws of nature. The status report provided electronically through the modern technology that they are actually going in reverse on the project progress.

All of a sudden it hits me. I am less than 3 blocks from my office and I am in a full blown, snooty, bad mood. And the day started out so nicely. What in the world happened.

So now that I am in full scale funk my lovely spouse calls to "chat" on the phone. I call it chatting when she calls and would like to engage in adult conversation after being surrounded by little curtain climbers all morning in the race to wake, feed, dress, press, scrub, and herd to the bus. Anyway, since I'm in the lovely mood the call isn't what spouse expects. I'm short, to the point, and quick to get off the phone. You know, since I'm not a happy camper all of the other campers within the range of Busy Dad are going to have a little bit of my version of sunshine sent their direction.

Okay, stage is set. Someone up stairs, and I mean the big upstairs, wanted to let me know not to take my little world to seriously. I also think it was a quick reminder about let's just get over one's self.

I step from the car, grab my computer bag, clip on the prerequisite name tag, shut the door and begin the walk toward my opportunity to live the dream for another day. As one of the guys at work says, LTD, Living the Dream.

After about three steps I begin to laugh. Not the going postal, people should hide or the Hannibal Lecter laugh. But the big, Lucy Ball type laugh that just comes from the deepest part of your heart. The cause you ask:

Take a look.

Yep, you saw it. I have arrived at work with two different color shoes on. So much for the trip to pitty party and dump on everyone day. This is just damn funny.

There is a moment of panic as I try to determine if there are any big possibly career enhancing meetings or is this a faux pas that may slide in under the radar. I think you know the answer to that.

I immediately call the spouse to make up for my earlier call. Then share the story. There is laughter. Not because I have said anything, but because she knows why I am calling. She has the opposite of the pair of shoes I am wearing sitting on the floor of our bedroom looking back up at her. She knows. She offers to bring the replacement shoe to work. Oh! no. I have to experience the if you take yourself to seriously then you get what you deserve moment for the full day.

Mood improves immediately.

Throughout the day the mistake is discussed and comments are made. It appears that another of my colleagues does this trick on a regular basis with socks and shoes. One upped again!

All that said it still gets better. A member of my team looks over the situation and she actually asks the next question. Do they walk different? Well being a practicing member of the IASA's (that is the International Association of Smart A**es) I said, without missing a beat, "the left shoe keeps wanting to walk off to the left and the other one, keeps wanting to go in circles looking for its mate.

Obviously, others don't find me as funny and entertaining as I find myself.

The point. Don't take yourself to seriously. Someone might be watching and provide you with the potential solution to your funk of the day moment. The day was lots of fun and very productive.