March 2015 Archives

10 more years

Dex and Fredo are going to be my last dogs for a while. Yep. They broke me.

Oh, they're fine companions. My problem is that they're perpetual companions. I literally cannot shift my weight in my office chair without instigating a panicked, swirling, competitive scramble for affection. Mind you, I don't pet them when I'm working. This is all in their imaginations. If I get up to get a drink, or to relieve said drink 30 minutes later, I am stalked. Sometimes I'm pre-stalked, as a dog will walk right in front of me, stopping every two feet to look back and recalibrate my direction. If someone visits, they get excited like any dog does, but with a pathological flair: they bound back and forth from the visitor to me, poking me with their noses to say Hey! (poke) Yes, we're happy to see this other person (poke), but we just wanted you to know you're still foremost on our minds every fucking second of the day! (poke poke poke)

They drive me bloody insane. I'm starting to book dog-free vacations where the "dog-free" part eclipses the "vacation" part. Am I happy to be traveling next month? Mildly. But I'm counting the days to when I dump the dogs at the kennel.

Fredo was so shadowing me on a bathroom run that when I stopped and locked my knees together, I trapped him between my calves. He's an inbecile, so where other dogs would consider this play, he was just confused by what mysterious force had arrested his momentum. "Superfreak" was playing on the stereo, and I pivoted on my feet to make Fredo dance. He was miserable, so naturally I whipped out my camera and recorded the event at his face's level. I was going to share it in this post, but that ain't happening. It looked exactly like I was vigorously violating my dog.

So instead, I share this almost-published typo.

Capture.PNG

culture clash

We ended up hiring an English developer with a very Italian name, which made me nervous until I heard the posh accent pouring voluptuously out of my speakers. Score! That led to the following exchange, perhaps the quintessential Anglo-American interaction:

English developer, trying to say that SharePoint sucks without offending: "Well, it's generally considered that SharePoint, in point of fact, isn't the, er, might not be, er, the highest quality of product."

Amy: "Ya THINK?"

the ugliest american

We're in over our heads at work, and we needed to bring in outside help. Amy and I were discussing bringing in a freelance developer when she said "I almost hate to say this, but I sort of don't want to bring in a non-native English speaker. I mean, I feel bad, but I have to be able to understand them."

As the exhausted person paying by the hour for people to go What? Can you repeat that? Huh?, I am less ambivalent. "I'll be the bad guy," I growled in agreement. "We will not hire any damned foreigners!"

It was then that I realized that my Mexican housecleaner was five feet behind me. Thankfully, I have ample evidence that she doesn't understand a thing I say.

interactive left

I've had several questions about the second Pittsburgh left, so here's an interactive explanation. You need to go straight toward that YMCA building and make a left on Pawlowna.

My first time, I had zero idea what to do and made the leap of faith.

well, i'll be

I just noticed that "Funky Cold Medina" and "Wild Thing" are actually two different songs. Who knew?

just divine

During last year's downturn, most of my business's best people left for jobs elsewhere. Now work is heating up, and I'm left staring at the C- through D-lists. It ain't pretty.

Anita Phakename was a pretty good worker. Above average to good. I ended up phasing her out because she was flaking and unreliable, albeit understandably. Her husband had not only cheated. He hadn't just left her for another woman. He not only did it in Australia. He was her ride home. They had sailed there, and they'd intended to sail back. She worked as crew on some transport to get back to the States. Always a sucker for hard luck stories, I gave her a job. And she repaid me by being really good for while.

Alas, Anita's emotional roller-coaster manifested in serious boy-craziness and mood swings with a chaser of disappearing without notice for weeks at a time. I wanna help, but only to a point. I stopped giving her assignments. I don't think she noticed. A year or so later, I heard she had a kid.

Well, now I need to think about hiring back up. I got to wondering if she'd pulled out of her precipitous dive into flakedom. Perhaps motherhood sobered her up? So to social media I went, where I found out she's attending this on Sunday:

"The Tantric Mother and Sacred Parenting."

grindstone

If I haven't been posting much lately, that's only because I've spent every waking second sitting at my computer, typing. Last week, I hit a 40-hour work-week by Tuesday night.

It's been a long time since I've had to knock out these kinds of hours. I can't say I'm still a fan. It's doubly difficult because 2014 was such a leisurely pace. It was pleasant, frankly. Now hard work feels morally wrong.

So this is what it feels like to be every boss I've ever had. Huh.

advanced ethics

My boss of the last five years called me, cringing. He is not normally even a smidgen deferential to me, so I was confused. I soon realized that he was dreading hearing my whining.

"John, I just got a mail from HR. We all need to take the corporate ethics class."

The ensuing few minutes are a blur to me, indistinguishable in my memory from similar HR-inspired rages that have flared over the years. But then I calmed down and did what needed to be done.

I paid someone to take my ethics class for me.

i got yer pittsburgh left, right here

Distinguished Stank Troll CJ had warned me about Pittsburgh lefts, and sure enough, I found them extraordinarily useful.

But there was another kind of left that drove me insane. The "Oh My God, They Can't Possibly Expect Me to Understand This" left.

For instance, you need to go across this bridge. What do you do? I just about plotzed when I was sitting at this light.

left.PNG

Answer: you turn left, then right at this "no left turn" intersection.

I've jumped off cliffs that took less courage than this next left. Do you see it?

pittsburgh left 2a.JPG

Of course you don't see it. That's because it's both invisible and subterranean. Your path would be like this.

pittsburgh left 2aa.jpg

The red dots indicate where the other picture was taken.

pittsburgh left 2b.JPG

• • •

Katrina visited me in Pittsburgh, and Uber was driving us around when she did a double-take.

"Holy crap," said Katrina as we went through a five-way intersection. "We just crossed the intersection of 6th St and 6th St. That's...insane."

"That's Pittsburgh," said the Uber guy. "If you can drive it here, you can drive it anywhere."

mulling evil

My niece is getting married. I briefly considered attending the wedding. After all, she's the only relative of whom I'm not ashamed. Indeed, I'm actually proud to be related to her. Look, everyone! That girl and I are composed of essentially the same genetic material!

I haven't attended a family function in 20 years. There's a reason for that. They're wretched people. And at that wedding, I was a focus of attention, mostly of the unwanted, negative variety. I don't want to similarly detract from this bride's day. Plus, again, I hate these people. So my skipping is a win-win.

I perused her modest bridal registry. Few items are over 50 bucks, and nothing has been purchased yet. And then I had an idea. I had a wonderful, awful idea: buy the whole schmear.

Enjoy coming up with gift ideas, everyone!

Pro: fucking over my relatives
Con: three more nieces are in the chamber

What to do...

karma, schmarma

A friend once had a workday that was out-of-body horrible. I drove into Seattle that evening and delivered her a bottle of chocolate liqueur. I had no know idea if she would like it, but that was hardly the point. At least she knew someone noticed.

As is His custom, God punished me for my kindness. On my way home, an 18-wheeler hopped the median of the 520 bridge, and I was sitting on that bridge for 8 hours, well into the night. With a dog who deeply, truly had to go.

That's my most spectacular example of the "God punishing me for kindness" phenomenon, but it's hardly the last. I swear, if I hold a door open for someone on my way to a job interview, they'll step on my foot and break my toe, then get the job because they weren't wincing in pain during their interview.

Allie credits this unerring principle with her not being an atheist. "I used to think religion was just made-up crap. But the evidence that there is a God and that He's out to get you...it's kind of staggering."

• • •

A few months ago, Anna (1, 2) asked me if she could earn some extra money doing chores for me. "Sure," I said. "The only thing I'm planning on farming out is gardening."

She was up for it, we agreed to pay her $25/hour, and yesterday it finally happened. Kind of. She showed up with her Mom, who helped, in air quotes. For about 3 of the 10 hours Anna worked, Mom helped. The other 7 hours, she sat in my deck chair and ate my food and shouted criticism at her daughter.

Yet when the bill came, it was for 20 man-hours.

"Seriously?" I said. They had no idea what I was talking about.

"Yeah, two people, 10 hours, that's 20 hours."

I waited for them to volunteer that maybe this accounting wasn't entirely fair to me, but no such acknowledgement was forthcoming. I looked at my table, where among the empty cups of my yogurt I saw my plate holding the discarded bones of my ribs. I guess I'm just grateful that she didn't find the humidor.

Because the idea was to help get Anna money, I chose not to argue. But she also isn't going to be allowed to finish the job, nor is she ever getting another lick of help from me. This is how you know you're a fuckup. For a mere $175, she cheated her way out of a source of aid and revenue. Forever.

As I gave Anna her fraud money, I heard Allie in my head. "You know what you did wrong, right? You were being nice, and wham."

because it's important to have standards

My sister and her adult son were bickering.

"I cannot believe you sent me to that Wal-Mart of yours," he sniffed. Hailing from Seattle, where haughtily sneering at Wal-Mart is the default setting, I naturally assumed that's where the kid was coming from. But no.

"That is the most ghetto Wal-Mart I've ever seen. The stupidest people ever. My Wal-Mart is way better."

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