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Effortlessly Average

Sort of half-heartedly leading the charge into mediocrity since, oh, let's say around 1987 or so.

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Location: Roaming (additional charges may apply), Argentina

Proof that with internet access and a powerful laxative, even insipid people will blog; the place where your excellence and my mediocrity collide; where my Karma whips ass on your dogma.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Tell Me Where It Hurts

One of my favorite pastimes is rough-housing with my kids. The other day I was lying on the couch when my son decided I needed a little extra weight on me. My daughter noticed the burgeoning wrestling session, yelled "dog pile on Dad!" and leapt on top of her brother. She sailed in a graceful arc over the foot of the couch and landed squarely on top of her brother, who was lying face down on my back at the time.

Now, you would expect someone who's just been sandwiched thusly to make some comment regarding the situation: "ouch," "I can't breathe," "ok I'll pay you the money I owe you," or "get off, I'm not having sex with you" are a few that I've heard-slash-said in my past.

But not my son. He once again demonstrated his knowledge of humor and anatomy by yelling: "AAaahhhh my anus!"

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A Glimpse At An Average Life

I always said I'd never do one of these posts because like a Top 40 hit, they're WAY over-played. But that was before I was tagged by my own bride, so now I feel compelled to respond because that's just the kind of husband I am damn it! If this kind of post gives you the same sensation as, oh I dunno, having your teeth flossed through you genitals , then you may want to skip Effortlessly Average today and return at a future date. However, as I have only six readers (five if you don't include my wife), I don't think I'm at risk of becoming anything more than marginally more unpopular than I already am. Remember, I'm Effortlessly Average.

So, here goes. Four Things Meme:

Wait. Before I get going, what the freak does "Meme" mean anyway? Is it Me-Me, as in "it's all about Me?" It can't be pronounced "meem" because that just makes no sense, unless of course it's Polish for "watch how many people we can convince to reveal waaaay too much about themselves in an obvious continuation of the 80's chain letter craze." Is Meme someone's name? Could this be the person who had finally tired of launching emails about lost children; toilet-dwelling spiders; email tracking payment programs a la Microsoft, M&Ms, or Nike, all ending with the assertions that "this is true because it happened to my sister's friend's gardener's brother's wife who knows this attorney whose firm worked on a case just like this, so it has to be true?" Did your brain short circuit reading that last sentence? Mine did, and now I can't understand it enough to edit it, so I'm letting it stand. With any luck it'll come across as educated.

Anyway, Four Things Meme:

Tagged by: BuddhaWife.

Four Jobs You Have Had
1- Financial analyst
2- Vacuum cleaner salesman (no, seriously; for about two weeks)
3- Waiter
4- Stockbroker
But not in that order

Four Movies You Could Watch Over and Over
1- The War Wagon
2- Clue
3- Blazing Saddles
4- What the @#*! Do We Know

Four Places You've Been On Vacation
1- Park City, UT
2- Bahamas
3- Ensenada, Mexico
4- On a road trip from Reno, NV to Biloxi, MS and back

Four Websites You Visit Daily
1- Google News
2- Zubegirl
3- Toontown
4- Spankmywife.com*

Four Of Your Favorite Foods
1- Dr. Pepper. Not technically a food, but it's the first thing that popped into my head
2- Medium rare prime rib, with a tall, ice-cold Miller Genuine Draft
3- A big, juicy buffalo burger topped with melted Swiss and sauteed mushrooms
4- White chocolate

Four Places You'd Rather Be Right Now
1- Naked under a blanket with BuddhaWife; a cabin; the Rockies; a cozy fire; and Casablanca on the TV
2- King's Canyon, California in early summer
3- Exploring castles in England on horseback
4- Tracing a famous explorer's journey on an authentic sailing ship

Four Cars You Have Owned
1- 1974 Ford F-100 Ranger XLT. Loved that truck!
2- 1976 Ford Pinto (the most reliable wheels I'd ever owned)
3- 1985 Subaru hatchback
4- 2003 Dodge Durango. So much power you had to keep from swallowing your tongue when you punched the gas.

Four Bloggers You Are Tagging
1- yeah right, what website do you think this is?
2- 25% of my readership is the person who tagged me!
3- If I said "Tawnni Cable" do you think she'd actually respond?
4- See #1

*Admit it, you were going to go see if it really existed, were you?

Monday, February 13, 2006

Perhaps She Just Rreeeaaallly Likes Her Job

Several years ago I worked in Los Angeles at the national headquarters of a worldwide petfood manufacturer. I suppose it’s not unusual as far as companies go, but this company fancied itself as somewhat of the “underdog” in the industry of petfood retail manufacturers. Of course this wasn’t true; they grossed something like $5 Billion dollars each year. Yeah, I intended to capitalize the “B.” I figure once a number gets that big it demands more gravity than a simple lower-case letter can provide. $5 Billion. That's a five and nine zeros. $5,000,000,000! And that’s just the U.S. market! Lord knows what they made globally.


I’ve long since been spared a life chained to one of their desks. Oh sure, there are any number of people who still work for said global-behemoth-corporate-giant and who are likely perfectly content to work their way into a premature, stress-related grave. Fine for them. Personally I think they should erect a sign over the employee entrance that reads: “Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here!”

Dante readers may recognize the reference, but still, it’s apropos.

Then again, I'm sure there are also people in this world who aren't sure about the proper way to sit on a toilet seat.

Anyway, as the self-proclaimed corporate under-dog, they had their own special way of doing things that they insisted were “on the cutting edge” but, to others, well, just don’t make a whole lot of sense. For example, every facility is a open-office environment, making it as easy as possible for everyone in the building to know when you come and go, how long you take for lunch, what you're working on, and who you phone during the day. And of course no one would use this information in a thinly veiled attempt to make another associate appear less committed, and therefore less deserving, of that next promotion, right? Naaaww, that would be unethical wouldn't it?

Or, by way of another example, despite the obvious synergies they could gain from combining logistics pipelines (yeah, I can still talk like a Dilbert cartoon) they insisted that there is nothing wrong with maintaining both a shipping department for dry petfood products and another for wet petfood products. And it never seemed to make them wonder why customers would become irate at having to contact two separate people – at the minimum – within the same company to order product. Product that would ship from the same warehouse. Product that might very well arrive on two separate trucks, both half full. It would be like ordering a pair of pants from the back-to-school collection at L.L. Bean only to be told you’d have to contact an entirely different person within the company (who in reality might be seated in the next desk over) to buy the matching sweater.

As a food product, quality was a very big concern and as was typical, we had one QA manager for wet food and a second for dry food. The wet petfood QA manager was a woman name Janet. Janet was a thirty something never nester who threw her whole life into her job. This particular company is full of people like that, albeit few of them were that way willingly; most had no choice because they were hooked on the enormous salary the company was willing to pay for their freedom.

Janet, however, was one of these few who literally assigned her personal identity to her success at the firm. That kind of life really doesn’t work for me, but if you’re Janet, who's content to have one weekly day off to plan the coming week's workload and a couple weeks a year to sail around the Bahamas, you can think of nothing more satisfying than working 16 hours a day, six days a week, and only logging in Sundays to check email.

As the wet-petfood QA manager, Janet had to routinely phone around the country resolving quality issues that ranged anywhere from actual contamination (like the time a customer found a broken bolt in his can of petfood despite the fact that all products pass through metal detection systems prior to being sealed in the cans. The customer never mentioned, though, if the can of petfood was for his dog or himself) to complaints from customers who just didn’t think the product lived up to its claims and wanted a refund.

One day I was at my desk (nothing new since it was between the hours of 5 am and 9 pm on a day that ends in "Y"), sort of half listening to Janet on the phone with another regional manager. She was trying to get quality figures for some particular lot of petfood that for some reason she was trying to track through the process.

Now, in an environment in which anyone could lose their job for any number of managerial whim, most mid- to high- level managers sought to restrict telling anyone too much, for fear of making themselves expendable by giving away secrets that otherwise would make them vital to the company's future. To this end the person to whom Janet was speaking was, I’m guessing, trying to determine if Janet was worthy of the info he held by inquiring as to the wet-or-dry status of her job responsibilities. After all, why would someone who works for dry petcare lines need info on wet petfood products?

Of course there is another possibility. Janet could have been relying on the human tendency to tune out background noise in an open environment and was in fact having phone sex, because in a coincidental lull in the office buzzing, I heard Janet say, clear as day:

“Yeah, that's good. And I am wet.”

Friday, February 03, 2006

Quote of the Day

A few days ago the fam and I went to the Murder/Drug/Corruption/Shithole Capital USA - otherwise known as Trenton, New Jersey - for a tidbit of business that according to the state just couldn't be handled anywhere else closer to home.

We parked the Jeep somewhere in the five-story parking garage and trekked across the old part of downtown toward our destination. As usual on these trips, BuddhaWife and I tried to fill the space in between stops with interesting and educational facts and figures about the area, which, fortunately, Trenton is full of.

On Christmas Day
BW and I watched a film about Washington's crossing of the Delaware River, march to Trenton, and subsequent attack on the enemy soldiers encamped there. As we walked along the streets between the closest parking garage we could find and our destination 45 miles away, we were pointing out the sights that were likely already a part of the landscape when Washington's troops stormed the city. There are streams crossing through parks, buttressed with stone wall supports that look every bit to have been constructed 200 years ago; churches bordered by gravestones so weathered by centuries of rain, wind, and freezing winters that the names are now unreadable. Streets paved with brick and cobblestone stretching outward between columns of row houses that once housed the city elite, but have become Trenton's attempt to group all the crack dealers and gang members into one neighborhood. On a bridge spanning the Delaware River are huge iron letters forming the words "What Trenton Makes, the World Takes;" a long since forgotten time when New Jersey was the manufacturing hub of the United States.

But despite being immersed in the history of the area, the thing my son was most interested in was the sword-shaped stick he found in the park on the way from the garage.

As is typical in our family outings, the moment found my wife and I walking hand in hand, with our daughter walking next to us and our son ranging out ahead like a scout, ensuring our safety from whatever he may encounter by reporting it back to us. Or at least that's how it would be if this were 1860. Today it read more like my wife and I hurling commands at our son as he flitted around us like an electron in orbit: "don't touch that stay out of the water watch where you're going don't bump into other people now help her up from the ground and say your sorry now say it like you mean it and don't you cross that street in the middle of the block no you may not go on ahead of us and meet us at the car and stop throwing sticks watch where you're swinging that and no we're not stopping at 7-11 for a snack you just ate breakfast."

We eventually finished the task that required us to venture into the cesspool that is Trenton - and quickly becoming anywhere in New Jersey east of Interstate 287 - and finally reached the parking garage again. As we were waiting to load the elevator going up to the car,

FlyBoy: Can I take the stairs and meet you there?

Me: No son, stick with us.

FlyBoy: C'mon Dad, why not?

Me (knowing he had no idea where we'd parked): Because, my boy, you don't even know what floor we're on.

FlyBoy: Sure I do. We're on the ground floor. Why does that matter?

- The Number of People Stunned by My Mediocrity