Well, This is…

November 30, 2008

A Kick in the Teeth Awesome

The Tulane volleyball team is having a great season, won the conference regular season and tournament titles, and now is in the NCAA Tournament as the No. 16 national seed.

That’s awesome. What’s also awesome is that, they got a good draw with two matchups they should be expected to win. While they got sent on the road, they are at playing the first and second rounds in Dayton, Ohio. Which would be incredibly awesome… if I was still working with them.

So while I’m happy and excited, I’m also slightly miserable. Not only are they having their best season ever, but I’ve been reduced to a fan, instead of being part of it. And now this trip, their first NCAA appearance, in a place where I worked for six years and know so many people…and I’ll be working basketball games in New Orleans.

I’m slightly bitter.

Not just because it would be fun to go, but because I have such an emotional investment in this team. I lobbied all last year to anyone who’d listen that we should have been in last year’s field. And this March, coach gave me more influence on the program than most SIDs will ever have in their lifetime, when she asked me to help her schedule with RPI in mind. I didn’t make the schedule, but after our long conversations about how many matches against what types of teams, she still included me. She asked “I’m thinking of scheduling Team Z, is that good for us?” and she listened to my recommendations (Sorry I was so wrong about Maryland!).

So, while it may be egotistical as hell for me to take credit for our season, I still have the emotional investment in knowing that that conversation met its goal:

We’re the number nine RPI team in the country.

Again, while I’m thumping my chest, I realize that: I didn’t win a single match. Or play a single minute. But I never was going to anyway, and I never will for any other team I work for. It’s still the most influence I could possibly have on a team’s season in my current profession.

It’s tough to balance this feeling of being left out with the level of excitement for the program. The more bitter/depressed I feel about not being part of it, the more I think ‘oh, come on, be happy for the team’ and I truly am. And then I get really excited for the team (We can so win that region and go to the Sweet 16!!!!), which makes me all the more depressed and bitter. Especially since I won’t be going to that, either.

I’m going to Penn State, I’ve decided. I don’t have a conflict with basketball, so the only reason for me not to go is financial. And Coach will take me.

Come With Me And Escape

November 24, 2008

I was proud of myself the other day. We got a very corporate-cubicle-Office Space style memo about safety from upper-middle management last week. It was titled “Safety Memo” and featured many bullet points I didn’t read.

So naturally, I made a smart-ass reply to many of my colleagues on the list. Eliminating those who lack a sense of humor and/or could have me fired, I replied to most with a very similar memo:

Subject: Safety Dance.

Dear Colleagues, Be Advised:

  • You can dance if you want to
  • You can leave your friends behind; ‘Cause your friends don’t dance and if they don’t dance; Well they’re no friends of mine
  • You can go where you want to; A place where they will never find
  • You can act like we come from out of this world, Leave the real one far behind.
  • And You can dance

See also: Safety Dance

Sincerely, the management

I was quite proud of myself because I have always found it hilarious to randomly burst into a ridiculous song that makes people laugh and say “That’s actually not a bad song.” The goal is something dated, that’s kind of a joke, but when you get down to it is just a one-hit wonder you haven’t heard in a while. And of course the real goal is to pick something that will be stuck in your victims’ heads for the rest of the day (or longer).

Of course, Richie owns the ultimate act of head-sticking song hilarity. A couple months ago, someone in the office asked “Hey, do you…” and he immediately interrupted with:

“Yes, I like Pina Coladas
And getting caught in the rain
I’m not much into health food
I am into champagne.”

Everyone kind of chuckled until he ended the pause by taking it up an octave or two and continuing:

“I’ve got to meet you by tomorrow noon
And cut through all this red tape
At a bar called O’Malley’s
Where we’ll plan our escape.”

The song stuck in our heads for a good six weeks. After a great discussion of the plot: Man decides to cheat on old lady by responding to a personal ad, only discovering it was his own woman who placed the ad; Most of us ended up downloading the Rupert Holmes classic. And Richie would play ad nauseam at virtually every event since.

As I escape to Phoenix with women’s basketball, avoiding a hell day football/men’s basketball doubleheader, my MP3 player (which operates on “random play all” at virtually all times) switched from Nirvana to the very same Escape (The Pina Colada Song).

By the way, I’m starting a club for people who have WHAM!’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” stuck in their head. Congratulations you’re now a member

Hotel Bars

November 21, 2008

One of the problems that plagues us on road trips is that after a night game, we go back to the hotel, finish working and wander down to the hotel bar. (That’s not the problem, wait for it). The problem is that these bars usually close at some ridiculous hour like 11:45 or earlier.

The bartender will usually inform us of other nearby establishments that are open, and tell us what time they close. But we have no vehicle but a bus. And since we usually have a real early wakeup call to fly home, we’re not leaving for another bar.

So my question is this: why do hotel bars close before other bars? Shouldn’t they be open later than all the other bars?

Think about it: A hotel bar is the safest bar for everyone, outside basement/home bars. The people there won’t be driving drunk. They take an elevator to their room. Yet by closing early, the bartender is tell us: “Have some drinks, get some alcohol in you. Drive to another bar to keep drinking, then try to get home safely.”

How irresponsible is that? Other bars should close earlier than they do, and hotel bars should be open way later than every other bar. There’d be less drunk driving.

And the hotel would make more money. People who actually lived in town would come to the hotel bar. Not just travelers. It would be adding an additional clientele to the business.

And think about how many people would end up crashing at the hotel if they were too drunk to drive? They could even give the bell hop a breathalyzer to test people leaving. They’d increase revenue. Especially when you consider that some people would buy rooms just to hook up with another local they met at the hotel bar.

If I’m ever at a small, private owned hotel, I am definitely sitting down with the owner and offering him this idea in exchange for a free bar tab at his suddenly rich establishment. Although, I highly doubt I’ll get the chance, since if I meet a guy like that, the odds the bar is open are extremely low.

The Last Email to The First Girl

November 18, 2008

Everyone told me I needed to get on facebook. “You can look up all the people you haven’t talked to! Like people from college and high school!” The reason I didn’t join facebook is because it’s simply the next generation of computer communication. When I got to college, we all discovered email – which wasn’t all that mainstream in 1996. All the people I went to high school with and still talked to used email. The rest, didn’t use it. Then instant messenger became popular, and it was just all the people who used email. The people I stopped talking to are the people who never use the computer to communicate, period.

I made an effort in college to send emails to people and see who used it to keep in touch. I had plenty of time to do it, working in the computer lab my sophomore year. So I’m sure I sent one to The First Girl.

I met The First Girl my sophomore year of high school. She was gorgeous, smart, funny, way out of my league. To say I had a crush on her would be an understatement. She was The First Girl I was in love with. We had one glorious weekend together that sophomore year, but never a relationship. Of course, I was too stupid to tell her how I feel and ask her out, I kept just waiting for something to just happen.

By the time I graduated, I was getting over her, realizing it wasn’t meant to be. I went to college, sent that email (like many others) and never made any effort to contact her again. I don’t think about her. It’s the past.

My last contact with her came in the summer before my senior year of college. I was with this girl, Jennie, whom I had run into her a few weeks earlier. She too was beautiful and out of my league. Again, too stupid/afraid to actually say the words “will you go out with me?” we hung out a couple times. Way back in high school, Jennie ran in the same circle with The First Girl. We were leaving her place, one summer day when she said “Hold on, I need to stop by the pool and talk to someone.”

As we opened the gate of the pool, she casually threw out there “You know The First, right?”

“The First?” I asked.

“Girl,” she responded. And there was The First Girl, a life guard. The two of them talked. I didn’t realize they were still friends. I just stood there, silently. Jennie said, “Well, I’m going to get some dinner with Kev and then we’re going to a movie.”

“Kev?” The First Girl asked.

Kev Fu” Jennie replied, with that what-are-you-stupid-question tone.

“You still talk to him?” The First Girl responded.

“Uh, he’s right here,” Jennie said, pointing out that I was indeed standing in front of her face. In her defense, my hair was about six inches shorter, I was wearing sunglasses, and someone taught me how to dress myself since she had last seen me.

We exchanged a couple pleasantries, The First Girl told us to have fun, and we left.

That was over nine years ago. I haven’t even been back into that town more than twice in the last three years. My last trip, I was going to Tom’s wedding. And Delta forgot to put my suitcase with the plane with me. So, while my parents are driving a rental car towards the old mall, I’m frantically pulling up the online directory of the mall to find out if the Men’s Wearhouse is still there, and where it is, since I never bought a suit until I left town.

My web search brought up the mall’s staff directory first. And right before I clicked off the page, something caught my eye. Girl is not a common last name. So I figured The First Girl on my screen was probably The First Girl I fell in love with, and was now the PR rep for the mall.

While I never made The First Girl love me back, I definitely made her mom love me, and in the very same mall. The First Girl had an older sister. I actually had a class with Sister of the Girl, and we did not get along. Probably because she knew I was after her younger sister. Shortly after our one glorious weekend, I was walking through the mall and saw The First Girl, walking with Her Mom. I went up to The First Girl, kissed her on the cheek and she looked absolutely horrified I’d do that in front of Her Mom. Her Mom was giving me the evilest look I’ve ever seen. I smiled at her, my face beaming, and I said “And you must be Sister of the Girl. Nice to finally meet you.”

She’s loved me ever since. It’s my only fond memory of that mall.

In the back of the rental car, I bookmarked the webpage, found what I was looking for, and was trying on suits before the store closed.

A few days later, I figured what the hell and sent her an email. I asked if it was her, how she was doing and told her how I stumbled upon her name. She replied about two weeks later, and asked how I was doing, what I was up to, etc. I answered the questions and asked more back. Still haven’t heard back from her. But that’s to be expected. She never was a computer person.

It’s funny. All the time I’ve never used facebook, myspace, or the internet to hunt down old friends… I stumble upon her email by accident. And she probably still thinks I’m a stalker.

Full Planes Rarely Crash

November 11, 2008

I believe people have mild psychic powers. Not like, Carrie/Firestarter type telekinetics, but that normal people can somehow just occasionally know things they have don’t have a rational reason to know.

For example, my best friend growing up was Tom, whom I played street hockey with daily growing up. He was younger than me, and a much better athlete. One spring morning, he had a hockey game and I told him I’d meet up with him later because I was going to play basketball. As I was walking over to my game, I suddenly had this sharp pain in my leg (the high ankle area). I took a couple steps and it just gave out. I paused, caught my breath and went to play hoops. I was awful and basically stood around because it hurt to move. It faded away as the game went on, and I got better. Over the next five to six hours, I forgot about the pain. It simply went away. I didn’t do anything to it, must have been a cramp or something.

Later afternoon, it was fine when I walked over to Tom’s. But as I approached his house, it dawned on me: We weren’t going out to wherever we were supposed to go that night. I started doing math in my head as I walked in. Sure enough, Tom’s sitting there with his broken leg in a cast. I said “about nine minutes left in the second period?” He replied “Something like that.” After telling me about the game and the play, and his trip to the doctors, I told him about my day. He told me they gave him some drugs when they set the break, and when he was coming out of it, he told his mom that he ruined my basketball game.

What’s unfortunate, is that the majority of things I’ve experienced, aside from occasionally knowing I’m about to hear a good song on the car radio before pushing the button to change the channel, or minor feelings of déjà vu for insignificant events, is that it’s never a premonition, just reactionary; Knowing something’s wrong, but still powerless to change it.

I think this “phenomenon” is the trace elements of skills we, as humans, once had. Back before communications, I bet people got feelings like something was wrong more frequently. Like the Time-Life books commercial: “A woman in Georgia has a burning sensation in her hand while doing the dishes… thousands of miles away in California, at the same time, a fire engulfs her sister’s home.” Back before phones, we’d get that feeling, but over time it’s become unnecessary: Someone will just call us to say something bad has happened.

I really wish this phenomenon would be something predictive, and help me out. Although, my cousin had one: He was at a family wedding while he was in his mid-20s, with his wife and his parents, and he woke up and was visible upset about something. Everyone could see that he was feeling tense and just, well, weird. They were getting into a rental car, and my cousin suddenly was adamant that he drive instead of his father. Everyone was talking in the car, and my cousin was in another world, completely ignoring them. They came to a blind curve, doing about 50 mph. On the other side of it, a truck coming the other way was just beginning to have an accident and spin into their side of the road. My cousin swerved, avoided the brunt of the collision and the car was clipped. The passengers were all in shock after the accident, but everyone was okay. My cousin, on the other hand, did not have the post-accident shock. He sat quietly on the side of the road, finally at peace. His mom noticed that the way he behaved earlier in the day was exactly like how everyone else in the car was acting immediately following the accident. A policeman answering the call of the accident told them that because of the bad sightlines, he was surprised that anyone coming around the corner like they were would have been able to avoid a head-on collision. He went on to add that it was a blessing that my cousin was driving, because his expert opinion was that my cousin must have lightning quick reflexes and anyone, including someone who was older, who didn’t have them, and everyone in the car was probably dead.

That’s seemingly miraculous, and I wish it happened more often, preventing harm to people I know and bettering people’s lives. But I’ll always think that on some level, people are mildly psychic. There’s too many known instances of people who have stomach aches or bad feelings, so they change their plans and therefore avoid disasters. You hear stories of “aren’t they lucky, they overslept and missed a flight that was doomed!” But plenty of studies have been done which show there’s a statistical trend when planes or trains crash, there’s an unusual number of cancellations or no shows. In other words, there’s more people experiencing those little reasons that make people miss flights (illness, alarm clocks, bad traffic, etc) when something bad actually happens, then when the same flights go off without a hitch.

Then again, most times, “reading someone’s mind” isn’t because of psychic powers. My friend Pease and I would often have moments of “reading each other’s minds” but it’s because we knew each other so well. I can’t help but think that my own experience with Tom’s broken leg, is because Tom and I were like brothers. It only makes sense. When we’d play hockey, I was 10 times better as a hockey player when I was on a line with him than when I’m not. We always knew where each other would be on the ice. We could make no look passes to each other’s tape. We just instinctively knew. One of our friends often said we had a sixth sense for each other, so it’s only logical that I knew where he was on the ice, and knew he got hurt. Even thought I was off playing basketball.

Of course, these psychic powers don’t seem to work when you try. In one instance, I was in bed and my arm was trapped under the body of an aforementioned girl. I was marveling at the connection we had made in our young relationship, and because it was very late at night I wondered if maybe it was psychic connection. Maybe she could read my thoughts! I then tried to telepathically tell her to roll over and release my arm so I could use the bathroom. I was wrong about the connection we’d made, not only because she didn’t read my thoughts of rolling over, but because the relationship soon went down in flames.

If only I’d had some premonition

The Ramblings

November 4, 2008

Stolen from Bill Simmons, just some rambling thoughts.

I picked CNN for Election Night because they had the best graphics. Not just the best, but the only ones which didn’t make me hate their network for having horrible graphics. We’ve had elections and TV for decades, people. It’s not that hard to make decent graphics that don’t annoy the viewer. One network had local graphics overlaid on national graphics, blocking them.

I’m digging that political journalists are color coordinating their outfits based on their own party affiliation. Get that all out on the table.

More impressive for “race relations” than Obama winning the election, is how many freaking white people are in the Obama crowd in Chicago. Including Jesse Jackson.

Holy Crap, Oprah is in Chicago. No wonder a black guy can go from an unknown nobody two years ago to president elect. Oprah is bankrolling him and brainwashing her millions of minions to vote for him.

I think Obama just stole a line from his speech from Independence Day. He just said “A nation for the people, by the people shall not perish from the Earth. We will not go quietly into the night. We will fight. We will survive.” Well, he did say that first sentence.

Coldstone Cake Batter Ice Cream. Mmmmm.

There needs to be an office code word for coming in late for reasons too embarrassing to reveal. Like, when you had Mexican food, and would rather be at home base than be in the office. If you’re a chick, you could probably just say “I’ve got a doctor’s appointment, uh, girl stuff.” and get no questions asked. Hell, you could probably take like 35 of them in a year and we’d think “Is that normal? I don’t know. Surely they don’t need to see a doctor every…You know what, I don’t want to know.” Even that is embarrassing because then people are thinking “what girl stuff?” We need an agreement that just saying “I promise I’m not being lazy, and I’m not hungover. Just trust me” is enough.

Next door to me, I have a neighbor who gets into loud arguments with her boyfriend at 2 a.m. or later and has domestic disputes where I’ve sat awake and pondered calling the police (sometimes for silence, other times for fear that some might get hurt/dead). While my neighbors who live above me are a young couple, whom I’ve never heard fight, and seem completely quiet and happy. But I know they have both a big, sand body punching bag, and a small, speed punching bag in the apartment. I think they are on to something.

We need that at the office. A room, soundproof, with Rubbermaid stuff you can throw and kick, punching bags and stuff you can break to relieve stress. Then next door, a big room of puppies, kittens and flowers. Then we could re-focus our chi before resuming work. Although, knowing this place, they’d screw it up, reverse the doors and we’d end up with a room of trampled flowers, dead puppies and crushed kittens.

Run, Rabbit, Run

November 1, 2008

I think I’m having a midlife crisis. This is quite scary for multiple reasons. Number one, all the things that lead to/or are realized within a midlife crisis, and number two, the fact that at 30 and a half, this might mean I’m only living to the age of 61.

The reason for my midlife crisis, is that I’ve been listening to Dark Side of the Moon way too much this past week. Specifically, in Time. This line hit home:

And then one day you find
Ten years have gone behind you
No one told you when to run
You missed the starting gun

I understand the point of the song Time. It’s about the fact that you’re not preparing for life ahead. Living has already started, and if you spend all your time waiting for the next thing, you’re going to miss what’s going on in the present. I’ve never really had any problems with that. I’ve learned to enjoy the journey. I’m in my business not because I want to go somewhere with it, but because I get enjoyment out of doing what I’m doing now.

But the midlife crisis part is that basically, if you asked me where I’d be in 10 years, I’d say “probably at some college, being an SID, working with basketball, wishing I had more time to spend with my wife and family. Maybe I’ll have cranked out that book I’ve always wanted to write but never had anything good enough.”

The scary thing, is that I’m entering my ninth year as an SID. Which means my answer to that question is exactly the same as it would have been if you had asked me in the spring semester of my senior year in college.

Two of the people sitting in my office, one a college kid, one an adult, were discussion their upcoming dates (while I had Dark Side playing on my WinAmp, mind you), and another college kid was offering suggestions to both, from her experience in her current relationship. And it reminded me of an anecdote:

I was at a coworker’s housewarming party. She and her friend bought a house, in a not-so-nice area. There was a halfway house a few blocks away. They had this porch on front, which was a nice feature, but it was kind of worn down and had stuff growing underneath it.

At the party, they tell us this story: They come home from doing a little Target house-outfitting shopping, and they hear some animal or something under the porch. They go inside and immediately discuss putting up that white criss-crossed wooden fencing crap so no animals can get under there, because it’s really creepy to have animals under your house.

Then the doorbell rings. And it’s a goth looking girl, early 20s, who says “Hi, I am looking for my boyfriend.”

“Okay, well, I don’t know your boyfriend, but I’m sure he’s not here,” they say, kind of confused.

She replies with “Well, he’s a midget.”

They inform her that it’s just them in the house, and she kind of looks down and says “He likes small, dark spaces.”

Yeah, they get a flashlight and sure enough, the boyfriend under the porch, standing in the corner Blair Witch style.

Of course I had a comment. I said “You know what the worst part is?” and my friend yells “Yes, I know what the worst part is! It’s that even the goddamned midget is dating somebody and I’m freaking single!”

Now, I was surrounded by single people at this house-warming party, so this didn’t make me feel like I was some single loser. Hell, the moral of the story is “This chick settled for a freaking midget.” I mean, I want someone to cook and take care of me, but I don’t care how delicious the cookies are, I’m not settling for a freaking elf.

All of us single losers proceeded to get drunk, and I was drinking my death mix (32 ounces of lemon-lime Gatorade, one can of Red Bull, one liter of 100 proof vodka, mixed and divided into two Gatorade bottles) and turned into a raving lunatic. On my way out, I was yelling that the porch was now inhabited, not by a midget in the corner who dated up, but by an army of giant rabbits from England, who would destroy us all.

I have no idea what the point of all this is, but my problems don’t seem so large compared to a giant rabbit invasion.