Tuesday, December 23, 2008

X-mas - Merry in Maybe A Day and a Half...

...but for the moment, not so much.

There's something about trying to cram five days worth of work into two and a half days.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Vote of "Snow"-confidence

Yesterday it snowed less than 4 inches. It snowed less than 4 inches starting at roughly 11:00 AM in Chicago and ended in the evening.

Maybe my perspective is skewed because I'm from Michigan, a land known for its cars (for the moment), bad football and snow. But under 4 inches over the course of the late morning and afternoon should not bring the world to a standstill.

Particularly in Chicago. I can understand in Texas or something, where snow is so rare that they're likely to think its nuclear winter. But in Chicago? In December?

And yet it did. Despite having a good six hours between when the snow started and when rush hour traditionally begins, the roads were atrocious. Six hours to throw down a little salt on at least some of the major roads. Something.

I got a ride home from a coworker, it took an hour to go what normally takes like thirty minutes. We traveled Lake Street, Lake Shore Drive, Belmont and I walked Halsted and Wellington and saw only one plow the entire time.

Not cool, Chicago. Not cool.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Senate Sweepstakes!

This may come as a surprise to those of you who are not news junkies, but here in Illinois we have a little bit of a political scandal going on.

Oh my God, political scandal?! In Illinois of all places?! The left side of my body is going numb!! Are those pigs flying past my window?!

Quit freaking out. I have a solution.

You see, when Senator Obama was elected to be our next President he was forced to give up his seat in the US Senate. He's so dreamy I don't know why he couldn't just be President and Senator which would solve everything (make it a new position; call it Presidor or Sentadent) but hey, I don't make the rules.

Because of this, there's now an open position that needs to be filled. And, by law, it must be filled by the Governor of that Senator's home state.

Okay fine, so we'll just have our decent law abiding Governor pick someone. Done.

Except, as it turns out, Illinois' Governor is none other than Rod Blagojevich who is unfortunately an allegedly corrupt asshole. The kind who allegedly tries to sell the highest profile political appointment in the history of democracy to the highest bidder. Allegedly.

So now nobody knows what to do with the Senate seat. The state Republicans want a special election because they feel its the best way to respect our democratic institutions (AH HA HA HA HA HAAA!!!) and because they want the seat. State Democrats want the Governor - a Democrat - to keep the right to appoint the Senator knowing full well that he's going to pick a Democrat or they want assurance that some Democrat somewhere gets to make the choice.

And Governor Rod just wants to be bribed.


So here we are, Republicans want a contest, Democrats want a Democrat, and Rod wants money. What do we do?

Spectacle, baby. Spectacle.

I propose we have a contest. Five contestants. Entrance fee of 50,000 unmarked Euros in small denominations to be paid to Rod Blagojevich upon applying. The five contestants must take part in a series of challenges - things like who can filibuster the longest or who can cave in to political pressure the quickest or who praise Wall Street with the prettiest language - after which the voters of the state will vote one contestant out of the running.

Once we are down to two contestants, Governor Blagojevich will then choose whichever one is a Democrat. If both are Democrats, he will choose whichever one has given him the most in campaign contributions over the past five years.

The winner will then be appointed Senator for the Great State of Illinois and will be charged with the duty of protecting Illinois' interests in the senate and also will be asked to do everything he can to secure a pardon for Governor Rod Blagojevich.

Everybody wins! Hooray!

All we need now is a title. Any thoughts?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Monkey Kung Fu

What's better than Monkey Knife Fighting?



Happy Friday.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Nagging Proof of my Mental Ineptness

On Tuesday of this week, the company had a carpenter come in to the office and "fix" the bathroom doors.

I was woefully unaware that they needed to be fixed. Whenever I went to the bathroom, the door always opened and shut. It never refused to open. It never fell over while trying to open it. It never had any gaping holes in it. I needed only push on the left hand side of the door and it would open for me. In short, it was a door and performed all necessary door functions quite nicely.

Supposedly (at least the powers that be want you to believe that) this is not enough for "some people." "Some people" complained that whenever anyone opened the door to the men's room, one could not only see the sink but also potentially see a man standing at the urinal.

At the urinal! Behind a divider that concealed any nastiness! For the three seconds it takes a door to close!

I don't know who these "some people" are who stand near the door to the men's room who are so offended by this, but I would love to know so that I can properly shame them for ogling the men's room door. So far, nobody has come forward to claim that particular title.

And so this past Tuesday a carpenter came in and rehung the door so that when they open one can only see the urinal when the door is opened very wide and even then only for a fleeting moment.

Problem solved!

Except now in order to enter the bathroom I must push on the right side of the door.

This is markedly different from before, when I only had to push on the left side of the door. We are talking about the complete opposite side of the door.

I usually never stop to think about how certain things become habit.

It became quickly apparent yesterday that I had in fact formed the habit of opening the door on the left side and that, no matter how hard I tried, I could not break myself of the habit. In order for me avoid embarrassment when going to the men's room I must now stop and think about the specific actions I need to take:

I will walk up to the door.
I will stop and review.
I will place my right hand on the right side of the door.
I will push on the right side of the door.
I will enter the bathroom.

However, if I'm preoccupied or in a hurry I skip this review process and inevitably come to the shocking realization that the door is not opening and its my fault because I can't get it in my head that I'm supposed to open from the right now, goddamn it, you moron it's not that hard!

Deep breath. Okay.

Confidentially (and don't tell the powers that be) I'm beginning to think that these complainers, these "some people" don't exist, and that this bathroom door business is nothing more than a psychological experiment. Or worse, maybe its a tactic. A tactic for keep me and others like me subdued.


Anyway, I have to go now. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Idiot

Congratulations, Governor Rod Blagojevich of Illinois. You are officially an asshole.

Governor Blagojevich tried to auction off the senate seat of President Elect Barack Obama, by far the most nationally known appointment ever in the history of appointments, to the highest bidder which, as it turns out, is illegal.

You sir are in fact an idiot.

So that's Kwame Kilpatrick in Detroit and Rod Blagojevich in Illinois. I'm beginning to think I'm a magnet for corruption.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Key Problems

I've had more freaking key problems with this new apartment... I swear to God, it's getting ridiculous.

When you move into an apartment building, you expect to get three keys maximum: the main building key, your apartment key, and your mailbox key.

When I first moved in to the new apartment two months ago, I was given two keys: a main building key and an apartment key. It took me about two weeks to get a mailbox key.

Then I realized that the back door to my apartment, which opens out to a stairwell down to the alley behind my apartment, and my apartment key do not like each other. Turns out that back lock is a different lock from my apartment front door lock. I've asked for a key to that back lock, only to discover that nobody, not even God and management themselves, have a key to that lock.

I tried to use the laundry room once, only to discover that the passageway to the laundry room has it's own separate key, but that the laundry room itself uses the main building key. It look me a month to get the key to the laundry passageway. Once I managed to get in to the laundry passageway, I discovered that my main building key does not work in that lock.

Also, the laundry room has a total of two washers and two dryers for the whole building. Also, the laundry room itself is a disgusting hellhole that falls apart around you as you are trying to do your whites. I have since given up on ever using the laundry room.

The lock on the main door to the apartment building was unreliable, meaning basically broken. As a result, Katie and I once came home and found a homeless man sleeping in front of my apartment (as in, the door to my apartment specifically on the third floor). We kicked him out and then I called my building supervisor to let her know and to ask her if they were going to change the lock or something so that, oh I don't know, maybe next time I come home there won't be some random dude sleeping in front of my door. She said no, not necessary, people just needed to make sure that the door was closing all the way when they entered the building and that there was no need for a new lock.

Instead, she put up laminated signs in the entry way asking people to close the door behind them. Problem solved.

So let's recap: one lock into the apartment building which is broken and can be jimmied by homeless Bob, one lock into my apartment from through the front door, one lock to my back door for which nobody has a key, one lock to the passageway that goes to the shitty laundry room for which I finally got a key, one lock into the shitty laundry room itself in which my main key theoretically works but practically speaking does not, and one lock to my mailbox key which took me two weeks to get.

Yesterday evening I decided to leave my apartment to get some milk. I wanted to eat a delicious bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios. As I was leaving the building, I noticed that the lock was shiny and new looking.

Oh joy, I thought, they finally fixed that broken lock that was letting homeless people into my apartment building.

And then I thought, You know, I wonder if my building key will work in the new lock.

Of course not.

So I called my building manager and asked, Hey, did you guys change the lock or something?

Yes, she said, But your key should still work. It's the same lock.

Really? Because guess what? It doesn't.

Fuck, she said (at least I think - the building manager has an accent from generic Balkan country), I have to make a list of people who need new keys.

Great, so what do I do tonight to get back into the sheltered warm place where I sleep?

Oh don't worry, there's a key in the mailbox where you leave your rent (which is two apartment buildings down from where I live). Get the key from the box and use that. Only you need to return it right away so that other people can use it to get into their apartments.

When do I get my new...?


You motherless bastards.

The main apartment door slams shut after you enter, so it's not like I can unlock the door, leave it open, return the key, come back and get in to the apartment building. So, last night, to get into my apartment, I had to go grab the key, enter the apartment building, go to my apartment, unlock the back door to my apartment from the inside (for which, remember, nobody has a key) return the key, enter my apartment through the back stairwell, and enter my apartment through the door that I have left unlocked. I can accomplish all of this provided that everyone else who needs to get in to their apartment puts the key back where everyone can get to it.

I have to do all of this to get into my apartment. I may as well have a retina scanner too and maybe a hallway full of booby trapped plates that shoot poison darts at me.

And given my building manager's track record, I can expect a replacement key hopefully in the early portion of the new year.

Friday, December 5, 2008


Morning after X-mas party. At work. Every good idea from last night turns out to be bad.



Thursday, December 4, 2008

X-mas Party

That's right, baby. It's the X-mas party tonight.

Company X-mas party.

It's the party where we drink X-mas drinks and do X-mas things.

Will I be naughty or nice? Take a wild guess.


(Nice. I'll be nice. Who am I kidding? I'm nice.)

Here is my X-mas present to you, a quick article with a great Header.

Looks like someone was a little too naughty.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

An Appropriate Manner

I just got off a work call with the voicemail of some telcom dude in Minneapolis, MN. He had the longest, most convoluted away message I think I've ever heard. It was like a five minute message.

There were a couple of nuggets that he spouted to quickly for me to scribble down, but I did manage to get this little piece of well-wishing:

"I hope your day is proceeding in an appropriate manner."

How great is that?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Big Three Go to Canossa

There is a meeting today in Washington between the government and the Big Three auto companies. The meetings are ostensibly about how the auto companies would use government loans to save the struggling car industry.

The results of the meeting? Well, I guess Ford executives will have to make due without their private jets in the near future.

For those of you who don't know, the auto industry is going down and begging the government to loan them some money ($25 billion dollars) to patch the gigantic hole at the bottom of their proverbial boat.

This includes Ford CEO Alan Mulally cutting his salary to $1 a year if they actually are allowed to borrow money.

Word is he will also be trading in his business suits for hairshirts shortly.

I am of two minds on this.

The populist mind says, "Good. To hell with these rich greedy bastard CEO types, who have single handedly prevented us from having flying cars by now!"

However, the other mind says, "Is anyone else slightly unnerved at all that the government's asking that the auto industry essentially humiliate itself for a loan?"

Populist mind chimes in, "Well, but they deserve it. I mean, they've been hawking gas guzzling SUVs for decades now. They ignored the fact that the people want hybrids. That's why they're failing right now - they can't sell their fat-ass SUVs in the current market."

"Well, that's not completely accurate," says other mind. "First of all, the Big Three made SUVs because people bought them; like, a lot of them. So who's to blame for that? Also, one of the few products still selling strong is the truck. Second, there are plenty of quality Big Three made hybrids available on the market (check out the Ford Escape Hybrid for example) and have plans of rolling out Electric Cars within the next few years. But leaving all of that aside, the reason the Big Three can't sell enough cars right now is because customers can't get the loans to buy them."

"Loans?" asks the populist mind. "You mean those things people used to use to buy houses could also have been used to buy cars?"

"A whole lot of people get their cars using loans," says other mind. "But the credit crisis (which, by the way, was not caused by the auto companies) has infected the likes of Ford Credit. Not to say that the auto companies might have done some things differently - they've certainly been on the slide for a couple of years now - but as far as the current sudden crisis is concerned it looks like it might be related more to the credit crisis and less to the type of product available."

"Credit crisis! They just gave those sons of bitches $700 billion dollars or something!" shouts outraged populist mind.

"And barely blinked an eye too. If there's a hole at the bottom of Ford's boat, you can be sure it was AIG's rock that put it there. And it was probably thrown from the yacht AIG bought with their federal bailout money."

But by now, I've grown tired of listening to my minds argue back and forth, so I pat the side of my head and tell them to shut up in there.

Instead, I decide to placate my inner history nerd. I look to Wikipedia (the source of all knowledge) and find this article about the Walk to Canossa, which was when the mighty Holy Roman Emperor, Henry IV, walked barefoot to the castle of Pope Gregory VII and waited outside in a hairshirt for three days in the snow to beg for forgiveness. This was, of course, back in the days when it was not only cool to be Catholic but also required.

Ostensibly, that little meeting was a matter of religion. Of course, the real issue wasn't religion but power.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Christmas Ho!

Thanksgiving has come and gone. I ate probably eight pounds of stuffing and slept for a good half of my time home. I hope, dear readers, that your holiday was as restful as mine. I also hope that your travels were significantly less painful than driving home through Michigan Wintery Apocalypse.

Today I've returned to the office to find that Chicago is blanketed with snow and that the air is electrified with the palpable stress of buying presents, making travel plans and preparing for further visiting with family. That must mean it's nearly Christmas time!

Hooray Christmas time!

I've been holding off on thinking about this most wonderful time of year as much as possible. As a rule, I try not to pay attention to Christmas until after Thanksgiving is over. It seems like every year, the Christmas onslaught starts earlier and earlier. This year, they were selling Christmas bobbles along side Scream masks. What the hell? I can't celebrate a day devoted to dressing up like a slutty demon along side of the birth of baby Jesus!

Can we just do the one holiday at a time, Hallmark? Please?

But now here we are, with Thanksgiving neatly tucked in the past, standing fully in December, and there are no more excuses. It's time to dust off those holiday decorations and steel yourself for a month's worth of Christmas music. I will be putting my head down and pushing on to Christmas eve, which is the last day of the current year that I'll have to work.

Onward to Christmas!