Monday, December 29, 2008

Weekend at Bernie's

Today's Wall Street Journal has an interesting article called "The Weekend that Wall Street Died" which recaps the death of Lehman Brothers. The interactive graphic in the online edition (which I include because you don't need a subscription to access this) contains what I believe to among the best lines of the entire meltdownwwhich was apparently uttered by Goldman’s Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein to a Goldman aide who said he couldn’t take much more following weeks of market turmoil and two days of meetings with Fed officials.

“You’re getting out of a Mercedes to go to the New York Federal Reserve, you’re not getting out of a Higgins boat on Omaha Beach, so keep things in perspective”


In other news, there are only 362 shopping days until Christmas 2009 so stop reading this and get to work. The economy isn't going to fix itself, you know.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Thoughts

So I'm sitting in my office on Christmas Eve because I have no life there's a specific project that I need to get done in time for a meeting on Monday. Id say that I feel like Bob Cratchit at the moment, but I suspect he made more money that I do.

Other than that, there isn't a lot of work to do - particularly since all of the people who are smarter less dedicated than me have taken today off. As a result, I'm spending part of my day tracking Santa's progress via the NORAD website. Right now he's making his way through Australia and I have to say he appears to be taking his sweet time doing so. I can only hope he's in the warm up stage because it this rate he's never going to make it.

At the same time, I'm wondering how Santa survives using what appears to be a flawed business model. He spends all year creating a massive amount of inventory and then gives it away for free. It's no wonder he encourages people to leave him cookies and milk and the like. It's probably the only food he gets all year. In fact, I'm wondering if he's really fat or if that's just a distended belly.

On an unrelated note, I also wonder how many times he gets slapped by women who misinterpred his merry "Ho, ho, ho".

The other thing that leaps to mind is that I can only imagine how annoyed he must get every time he sees a FedEx plane during his journey. I mean, if Santa can cover the entire world in one night can you imagine how much money he could have made opening a package delivery service? I'm guessing that the packages would have been far more festive as well, lending a holiday spirit to even the most mundane of missives received at the office.

Anyway, this line of thinking probably stems from my bitterness at (1) working today and (2) facing the prospect of another Christmas morning alone in an empty house. That said, things could be far worse and, all in all, it's been a very good year.

So with that in mind, Happy Holidays to all...and to all...well, you know.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Mismanaged Health Care

A co-worker had a hernia operation last week, which lead to the following text message exchange:

Me: Hey. Just wanted to check in to see how you’re doing. Did everything go okay?

Him: Feel awful but will be out of the woods in a few days. Thanks for checking in.

Me: They put you in the woods after your operation? I guess you were right. Our medical plan really does suck.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Second City?

This has certainly not been a banner year for New York in it's ongoing friendly competition with Chicago. It started off well enough with the New York Giants winning the Super Bowl but, let's be honest here, they play in New Jersey.

Anyway, shortly thereafter, things started to turn ugly for the state when then presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee New York Senator Hilary Clinton started losing ground and eventually the nomination to then-Illinois-Senator-and-now-President-elect Barack Obama.

Buoyed by this, both Chicago baseball teams - the Cubs and the White Sox - made the playoffs in October while the New York Mets (after a second straight disastrous collapse) and the Yankees, both of whom seemed to have taken Sen. Clinton's failure to heart - missed out.

Finally, this week we learned that the sex scandal that brought down our former Governor Eliot Spitzer now pales in comparison to the arrest of Gov. Rod Blagojevich for what U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald called a "staggering" level of corruption engaged in by the Illinois Governor including allegations that "...Blagojevich put a 'for sale' sign on the naming of a United States senator; involved himself personally in pay-to-play schemes with the urgency of a salesman meeting his annual sales target; and corruptly used his office in an effort to trample editorial voices of criticism."

This isn't all that surprising given city's long history of corrupt politics. I just wish he'd listened when I told him the rules:

1st RULE: You do not talk about how corrupt you are.
2nd RULE: You DO NOT talk about how corrupt you are.
3rd RULE: If someone says "stop" or arrests you for a "staggering" level of corruption, the political carrer.

I know this because Tyler knows this.

Oh...wait. That was Fight Club. Sorry.

So it seems pretty clear that barring a major rally by New York City, Chicago can brag that they kicked our proverbial ass in 2008. But that's not what really saddens me.

I think that the biggest reason for my disappointment is that I was saving up to by that Senate seat for someone special as a Christmas gift.

Now I have no idea what I'm going to do.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Spec-tacular

Earlier this year the global financial meltdown began, taking a number of large banks with it.

Shortly thereafter, oil prices began dropping from a high of over $4 per gallon to the present price of under $2 per gallon.

So my question is this: Did the worldwide recession drive the decline in oil prices, or was the run up purely the result of speculation driven by the large trader banks and hedge funds that no longer exist?

Discuss.

Bonus topic: My utility company raised their rates earlier this year due to increasing fuel costs. As expected, this combined with a weakening economy encouraged people to decrease consumption. As a result, the utility company is now seeking a 4.8% rate increase next year and a 17.9% increase over the next five years due to two factors (1) contractual fuel purchases and (2) reduced consumption by ratepayers resulting in shortfalls in projected revenue.

So, in summary, if we use more power rates go up, but if we conserve energy...erm...rates go up.

I really need to move.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

One to Grow On

Despite the proliferation of technology, I still use (and am regularly mocked for using) my trusty Franklin Covey paper planner. Among other things, it allows me to look back and see exactly how long I've procrastinated the completion of certain tasks. Also, if I draw little cartoons of a little man on the right hand corner of every page and flip the pages really fast, it looks like he's running.

Anyway, every day there is a little inspirational quote on the top of the page that, I suppose, is designed to give us food for thought. Yesterday's was as follows:

"Success means we go to sleep at night knowing that our talents and abilities were used in a way that served others." - Marianne Williamson

Unfortunately, I didn't read that until this morning and so it's now completely outdated.

Yet another missed opportunity for growth...

Friday, December 05, 2008

Congratulations

Congratulations to my friends Eddie and Gina who learned yesterday that their movie has been accepted at the Sundance Film Festival.

The movie is called Once More with Feeling and is a comedy about a psychiatrist who undergoes a midlife crisis and pursues his long-lost ambition of becoming a singer through karaoke. It stars Drea DeMatteo (The Sopranos), Chazz Palminteri (A Bronx Tale, The Usual Suspects), and Linda Fiorentino (The Last Seduction, Men in Black).

That's Eddie and Drea on location in Connecticut in the pics above.

Gina based the story on a wedding that they attended in which the father of the bride sang a song for his daughter - which was very touching - and then proceeded to continue singing song after song much to the chagrin of all of those in attendance.

The film makes its world premiere in Park City, Utah on Jan 19 . The New York premiere will take place in February.

I'll expect you all to go see it.

Independent films are good for the soul, you know.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Barely Breathing

Erm....hey everyone.

I'm still alive.

Barely.

More to come on this later.

In the meantime I'll see if I can shake this damn malaise.

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Momma Mia

Mark Cuban, billionaire and majority owner of the Dallas Mavericks, was charged by federal regulators last week of using confidential information on a stock sale to avoid more than $750,000 in losses.

The SEC alleges that he sold shares in search engine company Mamma.com after learning from the company's chief executive about plans for a new stock offering that was apt to push down the value of Cuban's shares.

So, in summary, what's happening here is that the SEC has charged Cuban with selling his own momma to make a quick buck.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Twilight...Of my Career?

The blog world is atwitter - or perhaps aFacebook (get it? it's an interweb social networking joke!) as the apparently anxiously awaited premiere of Twilight. I haven't seen this many people excited about a movie since...well...Sex and the City earlier this year.

Now I know nothing about the books or the movie (knowing nothing seems to be a theme of mine this week), but just for fun I decided to print out a list of quotes and sprinkle them throughout my conversations today.

Here's what I've been able to work in so far:

"Your skin is pale white...and ice cold." - To a co-worker as we rode the elevator this morning

“There was no image violent enough to encapsulate the force of what happened to me in that moment” - To someone who asked how my evening was.

“Hating her, hating how she made me feel – it helped a little.” - To my assistant when she asked how my meeting with our COO went.

“You are a magnet for trouble. If there is anything dangerous within a ten-mile radius, it will invariably find you.” - Included in a draft of a written warning that I sent to a manager for review

“So, is the new one afraid of us yet?” - Asked of a manager about an employee we hired a few months ago.

"If I could dream at all it would be about you. And I'm not ashamed of it." - To Phil - one of our Managing Directors - as I walked into a meeting.

“I'll be back so soon you won't have time to miss me. Look after my heart - I've left it with you.” - To Phil as I left to get a cup of coffee before the meeting began.

“Here’s the thing… I've already gone crazy once. I know what my limits are.” - In response to a question about why we chose to take action A instead of action B to resolve an issue.

"I think she's having hysterics. Maybe you should slap her.” - To a Manager who asked for advice on dealing with a difficult employee

“If you ever repeat what I'm saying right now I'll cheerfully beat you to death” - To the same manager as we discussed some confidential information

“You are the most dangerous creature I've ever met” - To my boss as she explained a recent department reorganization

“I'm really glad Edward didn't kill you. Everything's so much more fun when you're around.” - To an employee that just returned from disability leave.

Anyway, what I've found most interesting about this exercise thus far is that people aren't looking at me any more quizzically than usual.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

An Open Letter to World of Warcraft Fans

Dear WoW Fans,

Let me begin by saying that I've never played this particular game, so it came as a surprise to me when I saw people lining up outside of Best Buy in freezing temperatures last week in anticipation of the release that evening of something called World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lych King. My curiosity was such that I began my workday with a few minutes of research to learn what the fuss was all about. I know this has many of you – or at least those if you who have been able to tear yourself away from the game long enough to read this – looking down at me for not possessing what is probably fairly common knowledge, but in my defense you should know that I possess almost no knowledge of anything.

The website was almost no help with its narrative that began with “It has been five years since the heir apparent to the throne of Lordaeron disappeared into the frozen wastes of Northrend...” and continued spouting some additional Lord-of-the-Rings-esque babble before concluding with “...Soon the world will learn what it means to incur the wrath of its one true king...” which I took to mean that Grant had hacked the site and revealed his intentions to the unsuspecting public.

But I digress. Further research revealed that WoW (as it’s known) is massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) run by a company that charges the 11 million or so subscribers $14.95 per month to trek around it’s fake world. Add to that the cost of the game itself as well as the two add-on packs and, well, let’s just say that it makes my get rich quick scheme look foolish by comparison.

Anyway, I digress yet again. The point of this letter is not to tell you about a game that you've already undoubtedly squandered untold hours of your life playing, but to tell you about another MMRPG called “real-life” (RL). You’d love it. There are all kinds of evil to battle, billions of people to meet, and riches to be earned and spent however you see fit. The best part is that you don’t even need to buy expansion packs to experience more of it. And the level of detail is amazing – far better than anything you've seen before no matter how powerful your graphics card may be.

Once you leave the WoW and experience RL you’ll never go back. Instead of spending days in front of your computer, you’ll be…what’s that word again? Mobile. In fact, you may even find yourself wanting to share your experiences. You'll create a Facebook account and before you know it you'll have a vast on-line social network! You'll then start a blog to tell people all about the things you've done - and you'll meet tons of "virtual friends." Before you know if you'll be spending most of your time on-line trying to keep up with all of your new friends and....

Hold on, I think I see a flaw in my logic.

Never mind. Get back to your game.

Your Friend,

Joe

Monday, November 10, 2008

Monday Blogservations

Everything Old is New Again
Was I the only one a little freaked out by CNN's Wolf Blitzer in his New York command center flashing back to to standing 10 paces away from a 3-D rendering of a reporter? CNN projects Jessica Yellin into the studio just 31 years after Princess Leia and R2D2 teamed up to send holographic messages in Star Wars. Since that movie supposedly took place a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away isn't the technology severely outdated by now? I mean, shouldn't we have holographic televisions and flying cars by now?

We have a bid of $100 million from the an anthropomorphic cartoon cheetah in the back row
On a day in which we took a huge step forward and several steps back, Massachusetts voted to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. Now the bidding to become the official state munchie can begin in earnest.

We're Hoping to Avoid Bankruptcy So We Can Afford to Hire People to Proofread our Copy
Electronic retailer Circuit City which filed for bankruptcy today, is apparently hanging it's hopes on a new price pledge campaign. The commercial is bad enough on general principles alone, but the actress actually uses the phrase "...whole 'nother price", conveniently ignoring the fact that there no such word as "nother."

We Have No Budget but Hopefully Nobody Will Notice
Jan Terry's video for her 1994 song "Journey to Mars" is my new Favorite. Video. Ever. Clearly it's the campiest video of all time. Pay special attention to the out-of-focus camera shots, the clever use of the monorail as the spaceship stand-in, the futuristic communications device, and the catchy "Beam Me Up Scotty!" sex-kitten chorus.

And the Academy Award for Overexposure Goes to...
Apparently Elizabeth Banks will fall just short of her goal of appearing in every single movie, television show, or webisode released for this year. It wasn't for lack of effort, though. As evidence, you can see her in the movies Role Models, W., Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Lovely, Still, Meet Dave, and Definitely, Maybe and the TV mini-series Comanche Moon. If that's not enough, you can also catch her in web-series Wainy Days and you can hear her voice overs in several episodes of American Dad. Sorry, Elizabeth. Better luck next year.

My 15 Minutes Have Arrived, Yet Wealth Remains as Elusive as Ever
Thanks to GreenJello I've had one of my quotes featured on Blogtations, which advertises itself as "a place to collect the funny, inspirational, thought-provoking things shared on blogs every day." Well, there's all of that and then there's me.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

That's Rich

I've figured out how get rich even in these tough economic times.

I'm going to give people a penny for their thoughts and in return they'll give me their two cents.

My dream of becoming a billionaire is only 100,000,000,000 transactions away!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Beautiful Day

America changed for the better last night, that much is certain.

Of course, that's based on the supposition that he's a man of his word. That his promises weren't simply rhetoric spewed in the heat of battle but were an iron-clad pact with the American people who want and need so badly to believe him.

But I believe in the man we elected last night. I think he has the wisdom and level head necessary to lead us to greatness once again; To heal the rifts that have torn us asunder; To restore hope and pride to our lexicon.

Yes, a new day has dawned America. A better day.

And as proof I submit that fact that Stephen Baldwin has promised to leave the country.

Monday, November 03, 2008

The Month in Pictures:

Random End-Of-Month Thoughts:

It's a measure of my maturity - or lack thereof - that my favorite part of the day on Friday was calling people "Halloweenies"

Spent part of Saturday at my sister's new house helping my brother-in-law tear down paneling...and you thought your life was boring?!?

The holiday skating rink is up at Bryant Park and the shops and restaurant will open shortly - the first

Ran 5 miles again yesterday and it was (slightly) easier than last week. In contrast, my friend finished yesterday's NYC marathon in 3 hours 48 minutes, or an average of about 8:48 per mile, so I'm not all that proud of running 1/5 as far at roughly the same rate.

I've volunteered again to assist at the Starlight Starbright Celebrity Sports Auction at Madison Square Garden this evening. It's one of my favorite events and the kids are too adorable.

Anyway, let's move on to the MiP:

Desperate for to make up ground as the Presidential race winds down, Sen. McCain has resorted to following Sen. Obama around making faces behind his back.


Meanwhile, an overconfident Sen. Obama has begun traveling around the country posting to show exactly how he'd like the eventual statues of him to look.


Officials in Southern California believe they've hit on an ingenious plan to end the traffic jams by incenting people to drive more quickly.


Shooting began on the remake of Field of Dreams in which deceased soccer stars Ferenc Puskas, Stanley Matthews, and Lev Yashin emerge from the fog into the back yard of an American man who has no idea who they are. By the end of the movie, he still has no idea who they are.


Police are on the lookout for a wild pumpkin that has been blamed in the deaths of several small dogs.


The Royal Cat Competition ended this week with the traditional "Best Mouser" competition.


A man was fired from his job after he misunderstood a phrase in a planning meeting and spent his entire departmental budget creating low hanging fruit.


Rumor has it that Madonna's marriage first hit the rocks when she opened her legs and one of her dancers fell out.


The 2009 Bank Robber fashion show featured daring designs for the discriminating thief.


Continuing the time-honored tradition of troubled celebrity offspring two Muppet children were arrested this week on drug possession charges.


The animal porn industry is bracing for a killer weekend at the box office with the release of two expected blockbusters: "Eat my Nuts"...


...and Peter, Peter Pumpkin ****er.


An inventor has created a hat that indicates the relative temperature. As soon as he's able to correct a few spelling errors and it'll be ready for production.


And finally, God announced today that He is scrapping His broad-based communication strategy in favor of more targeted messages.d

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

An Open Letter to my Mortgage Company

Dear Mortgage Holder,

Allow me to extend my sympathies for your recent financial woes. I recognize that you've incurred the wrath of...well...pretty much the entire world for your role in the current economic meltdown, but

Believe me, I know the feeling. I mean, who among us hasn't woken up after a drunken night of investing assets in mortgage backed securities backed by questionable loans made to dishonest applicants by predatory lenders to learn that not only did we have a killer hangover, but that we’ve imperiled the global economy? Boy, if I had a dollar for every time that happened to me I would have been able to fund the buyout myself! (lol)

But I digress. The point of this letter is that the bailout package approved by the government will wind up costing each working American somewhere in the neighborhood of $4,635. Now this is supposed to be a loan, but we both know that the odds are against us ever seeing that money again. Let's be honest, right about now I trust you to do that as much as I'd trust a meth-head with my debit card and PIN (and believe me...that's a mistake I'll never make again).

Anyway, I've decided to recoup my share of the bailout money by not making one-and-a-half of my monthly mortgage payments. Rest assured that I'm not refusing to pay nor am I defaulting in any way. In fact, I will make those payments to you as soon as you repay the government. After all, fair is fair. Meanwhile, think of this as an interest free loan from you to me.

As an alternative, you may also elect to take repayment in the form of options to purchase non-voting stock in my blog. Sure its worthless now, but if this thing takes off you may get rich! Of course if that ever happens I'll just hire lobbyists to convince you to not exercise said options - but I suppose we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Meanwhile, my thoughts are with you during this difficult time.

Your Friend,

Joe

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Not Very Politic

The other day Crys called the blog world to task for the plethora of political posts (though, fortunately, not for an abundance of alliteration). Being guilty of writing just such a post the other day, I thought I'd write about things that interest her. Fortunately for me, she was kind enough to provide the topics for discussion when she wrote "Wouldn't you rather talk about boobies? Sex? The Mysterious And Potentially Real Yeti? How about life on other planets? Because that shit intrigues me."

Why yes, Crys. I would love to talk about those things.

Boobies - Three words: I. Love. Them.

Unless they're on a man, of course. Otherwise, I'm a huge fan. I mean, what's not to love? They're pure, unadulterated fun for men of all ages. I do, however, seem to lack Grant's refined taste (for further details see pretty much every comment Grant writes) in these matters as I have no size restrictions. Frankly, I'm just happy whenever I see 'em.

Sex - What a coincidence. I love this too! As is the case with Boobies, I'm a huge fan. I even hope to one day experience it again!

The Mysterious and Potentially Real Yeti - First, it would be excellent if Yeti were found to actually exist. Of course, it would likely be only a matter of time before we messed with them to the point that they were either extinct or otherwise endangered. As for their likes and dislikes, I'd like to think that they, too, are in favor of boobies and sex.

I also believe that The Mysterious and Potentially Real Yeti would be a great name for a band. I can almost see the MaPRY t-shirts now.

Life on Other Planets - I have a theory that other planets are populated solely by Yetis and that the females spend all of their time fending off the advances of males asking to (1) see their boobies and (2) have sex with them.

So, in summary, I have to get back to work now.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Yoga Bear

As some of you know, I recently decided to shake off my sloth and begin exercising again. After barely being able to gasp my way to the one mile mark when I began running, I’m now able to complete just over 4 miles. In response, my body - which had become accustomed to evenings spent laying on the couch downing my usual diet of fried food, chips, and iced tea – has begun to rebel. Not only have I developed a mysterious, sharp pain in my left ankle that hurts when I walk but not when I run, but my muscles have begun practicing for rigor mortis as I sleep making the first few steps each morning an excruciating experience.

Eventually, I had enough. If my muscles wanted to cause me pain, I thought, then I'd do the same to them. And so began my involvement with Yoga. For those of you unfamiliar with the practice, the word Yoga is Sanskrit and it derives from screams of beginning practitioners, which sound something like this:

“YOW-OH-GOD-AAAAAAAHHHH!!!!”

And that's pretty much it. From the Sun Salutations (Sanskrit for “Son of a B*tch!”) to the
Awkward Chair pose to the exercises to build my stomach and back muscles there is one overriding theme:

EVERY. SINGLE. THING. HURTS.

Much like natural childbirth, they tell you that concentrating on your breathing will remove blocks and lessen the pain and from what I gather, much like childbirth, they're lying.

In fact, the only things that I don't mind are the gentle stretches I do after the ab work to remind my muscles that this is the most I'll ever exert them once they start acting right, and the Corpse pose that concludes each session.

On a side note, that particular pose seemed familiar but for the life of me I couldn't figure out why - until I realized that it's the position in which 99.9% of the women I've slept with have remained during the entire ordeal.

Anyway, I suppose that if I persevere, I'll eventually become as strong and supple as Dr. Lan Phan, who is featured in the picture at the top of this post doing a pose that she calls "Praying for Grant to Visit" and that I call "Something I'll Never Be Able to Do."

Erm...the pose I mean - not actually waiting for Grant.

So, in conclusion I say Namaste to people who are able to stick with this Yoga thing.

Now where did I put those chips?

Friday, October 17, 2008

This Just In...

Vicodin has surpassed happiness as the best medicine.

Other random thoughts for the day (proving that I do sometimes think about things other than jokes):

It appears that most of America has mistaken the stock market for the economy. Market fluctuations are based on people betting on a crystal ball and aren't indicative of the underlying fundamentals of the economy. If I remember my college economics correctly, the economy is in decent shape - though the growing national debt portends issues down the road, particularly if other countries such as China are no longer willing to lend us money at some point.

As positive as the current polls look for Obama, I can't help but to wonder about the Bradley effect, which is generally thought to be about six points - well within the margin of his projected lead in many polls. I think that the comparison between the pre-election polls, the exit polls, and the actual results will provide an interesting study as to how far we've come as a country.

Speaking of the election, there is an excellent article in Slate about the voter fraud controversy that everyone should read. Not that there will be a quiz on it or anything...

And a final note on that topic, I've heard more people spreading disinformation this election season than ever before. For the most part is seems a matter of ignorance rather than malice, but if you're going to vote you should know the facts. As Alice correctly points out, there are sites such as PolitiFact that separate the truth from the lies and can help you make your own decisions.

Everyone is excited about the price of gas dropping below $4 a gallon, but 18 months ago we would have been outraged at the prices we're paying now. That said, it's encouraged conservation so it's not a bad thing (despite the fact that record profits are still being reaped by oil companies - and that the high prices have diminished any desire they may have had to pursue alternative energy sources).

Okay, that's enough for now.

I had to get that off of my chest, but as a service to y'all I posted it on a Friday when there are even fewer readers than usual.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

An Open Letter to Celebrities

Dear Celebrities,

Despite the fact that the island of Manhattan is crawling with the likes of you we have been able to pass the vast majority of our time on this island blissfully unaware of each other's presence. This week, however, you seem to have made it your mission to stalk me wherever I go.

When I nearly collided with Colin Farrell on 54th Street on Tuesday, I thought nothing of it other than briefly considering turning back to kick his ass for for breaking poor Rosario Dawson's heart a few years ago. Unfortunately, I had a meeting to attend so I left that for another day.

Then yesterday morning I feared that my prior night's bout with insomnia had caused hallucinations when on the the far corner of 43rd Street I saw hyper-annoying fitness personality Richard Simmons emerge from the midst of a group of people who were inexplicably dressed as crash test dummies. Unfortunately, I wasn't that lucky and it turned out to be him. Oblivious to the truck that was patiently waiting for him as he ignored the "Don't Walk" sign, he stood in the middle of the road and shouted "COME ON, CHEER UP EVERYONE! IT'S A BEAUTIFUL DAY!" at us while we prayed that the "Don't Walk" sign would change. Still oblivious to the emerging pattern, I simply thought about how badly I wanted to punch him in the face.

The proverbial penny didn't drop until I left my company's Fall Sales Meeting yesterday and observed Mark Wahlberg making his way down 49th Street. When I got to the corner I came upon a group of our (male) Associates giggling like schoolgirls because they claimed he said "What's up?" to them - but I now suspect that he'd ingratiating himself to obtain information on my whereabouts.

Apparently, he passed that knowledge on to Elliott Gould who spied me as I walked through Grand Central Station and who, in turn, relayed to Keira Knightley that I was heading downtown. When I saw her that afternoon she was on her cell phone, no doubt passing along my whereabouts to the rest of the celebrity world.

Now I recognize that this signifies that my blog has officially "blown up" - which is no surprise since people have been telling me for years that my blog blows - and given me superstar status, but frankly it's gotten annoying.

My desire for privacy isn't all that dissimilar that which a few of you demonstrated by obtaining restraining orders on me simply because I followed you home spent the night shouting "We're meant to be together!" at your bedroom window. (I'm talking to you Shakira, Halle Berry, Marisa Tomei, and the 20-30 others whom the court-ordered confidentiality agreements prevent me from naming.)

Anyway, all I want is to be left alone to practice my craft. Is that too much to ask? If you feel the need to contact me, do what almost nobody else does - comment on the blog and I'll do my best to respond to you there.

Sincerely your friend,

Joe

Monday, October 13, 2008

Rejection Pile

From time to time I drop random thoughts into my blog drafts with the intent of one day going back and expanding on them, but more often than not, I just delete them. Want to know why? Here are a few examples:

Example 1
I remember the time I totally misunderstood the meaning of "Toys for Tots." I dropped off my new, unwrapped gift and...well...let's just say that baby's mother was pretty angry no matter how many times I explained that I thought it was an exchange program.

Example 2:
Snow White was feeling sleepy. Rumor has it that the other six dwarfs were up all night listening to the two of them go at it.1

Example 3:
Vice Presidential Candidate Gov. Palin often cites foreign policy experience based on Alaska's proximity to Russia. I like that line of thinking and have decided to adopt it to expand my areas of expertise. I now consider myself a Financial Expert because I sometimes go my bank and "Michelin Three-Star Chef" because I occasionally walk by Le Bernardin.

Based on what I accidentally glimpsed from my bedroom window last night, I'm also now an expert on having sex with my neighbor's wife.

But I can't see how I can possibly put that on my resume.

---------------------------------
1Thanks to PracticallyJoe, Deidre, and GreenJello for correcting my Snow White / Cinderella gaffe. Clearly I wasn't paying attention when we covered that in school. And also I'm not that bright.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

How to Loathe Yourself in One Day

I'd hate to have your job.
I hate my job, too sometimes...

Layoffs are the bane of any HR professional's existence. It's a dirty, ugly, and thankless part of the job that makes you want to go home and shower until your skin is raw and then get drunk in the hopes of forgetting the role you've played in ruining people's lives.

I don't know how you do it.
Neither do I.

It doesn't matter if it impacts a handful of people or a sizable portion of your workforce. These are people you see and speak with every day. You know their stories like you know your own. You've chatted about their families and friends and vacations. You know how they spend their weekends and what their plans are for the future. These are people that you genuinely like and that you greatly enjoy working with. They've confided in you work challenges and who have

I couldn't sleep at night if I had to do what you do.
What makes you think I'm able to sleep?

A sizable portion of the people you speak with cry when you tell them. Some do it quietly, allowing the tears to stream down their face. Others sob uncontrollable. The worst discussions are like bad breakups. "Why me?" they ask. "I'll do anything. I'll take a pay cut. Just please don't do this." they plead. Each word is like a knife in the chest. You don't feel sorry for yourself - after all, you'll still have a job tomorrow - but your heart breaks for them.

I guess you get used to it after so many years but...
No, you don't.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

What Not to Wear

I was jogging the other day as part of my goal of working my way up to completing a 10 mile run when I suddenly remembered a story about a friend of mine who was training for a marathon.

As you may be aware, most marathon runners tape their nipples before the race since failure to do so results in chafing and bleeding. My friend was no exception - and he apparently favored round band aids during his training runs.

The reason we know this is because one day he returned from his run and instead of showering right away, he decided to strip off his shirt have a beer with us while he cooled down.

However, in his haste to imbibe, he neglected to remove his band aids and thus his impossible-to-shake nickname of "Pasties" was born.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Bogged Down

Sure other blogs have nicer templates, and more appealing themes, and significantly better writing, and...

Hold on, I've forgotten where I was going with this. Oh, right. With all of those things in mind, why would anyone come here?

Two words, my friends: Personalized Service

By way of example, just last week, famed artist and author of the popular Stepping Over the Junk blog read my Week in Pictures post and commented "I totally want to stand in a bog of cranberries. "

Well, I'm pleased to announce that after days of tense and protracted negotiations between the Cup O'Joe editorial staff and the good people at Ocean Spray we've devised a way to make her dream come true.

But then we got to thinking: who knows how many other readers share that cranberry-bog fantasy? So back to the negotiating table we went and we were able to convince them to add this for those folks on the West Coast; a special "Patriot Place Bog" on October 25 - 26 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA; and free-standing bog exhibits at select Kroger grocery stores in Ohio and Kentucky in October and November. Finally, blog readers who shop at other Kroger local banners in the western United States - including Fred Meyer, Fry's, King Soopers and Ralphs supermarkets - will have the opportunity to learn about the taste, health, and heritage of the cranberry from the wonderberry experts and sample Craisins(R) 100-Calorie Packs.

Now I ask you, what other blog offers that level of dedication and devotion to its readers?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Cough Drop-lets

As I hastily downed my breakfast this morning -- yogurt with granola if you must know -- I paused for a much needed jolt of caffeine. I had raised the cup to my lips and was allowing the beverage wind its way down my throat and eventually into my bloodstream...when some of it decided to take a detour into my windpipe, presumably to see what was happening in my lungs. The resulting coughing fit probably wouldn't have been a problem had I possessed the foresight to lower the cup before launching into it.

The resulting blowback splattered coffee all over my office, including on my computer monitor, my keyboard, the papers on my desk and most disturbingly, on my freshly laundered shirt and tie.

As I grabbed baby wipes from my assistant's desk and began scrubbing my shirt and tie before heading off to a meeting looking like I'd showered with my clothes on, I reflected on three things:
1. I really should keep a backup shirt and a selection of ties in an empty drawer in my office.

2. For the remainder of the day I would carry the aroma of baby wipes and freshly brewed coffee, thereby making me irresistibly appealing to any exhausted women who happen to have infants at home.

3. The next time I need a caffeine fix, I need to make sure to specify that I want coffee as opposed to coughee.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Week in Pictures: Shades of Grey Edition

Random Thoughts:

What was I thinking when I joined an autumn softball league - particularly one that plays weeknight doubleheaders that begin at 9 p.m.? By the second game, the bats are so cold that it hurts to hit. Even worse, by the time the games are over, it's too cold and too late to drink.

$700 billion is an awful lot of money. I hope our great-grandchildren can afford it.

For many reasons, I'm not at my best today so I apologize in advance for a less-than-stellar WiP.

But let's move on to it regardless:

What looked to be an epic battle between Jedi and Empire forces turned into a huge disappointment when neither side could adequately manage their new long-range light sabers.


Ocean Spray is sponsoring a Chinese dance troupe's world tour on the express condition that they stage all of their performances in cranberry bogs.


The late Freddy Mercury, former lead singer of Queen, was successfully reanimated via a stunning new medical procedure involving synthetic blood and Lego blocks.


Moses thrilled spectators this weekend by holding back a wall of water for an astounding 72 hours.


New 3-D sonograms allow parents-to-be to more effectively bond with their unborn children.


In sports, Jakkrit Punthong of Thailand missed out on a chance to win the long-jump when a jealous rival tripped him just prior to takeoff.


Meanwhile, New York Met fans have begun jumping from the bleachers as they watch their team's second annual September end-of-season collapse.


Advertisement: Ladies - Wondering what to get the man in your life for the holidays this year?


Speaking of effective advertising, I saw these on eBay and ordered a set. Imagine my surprise when all I received was a pair of beer steins.

HA HA HA HA...ha. Erm...sorry.


Production began this week on the Goth version of the Wizard of Oz.


HDTV is already in danger of becoming obsolete with the development of new TVs that come with built-in actors.


A local couple divorced last week after the husband went outside to paint the house and discovered that his wife had effectively bankrupted them by buying shoes and hiding them from him.



Britney Spears took home three awards at the MTV Video Music Awards ceremony, continuing her comeback...


From her failed marriage to Kevin Federline.


Kim Kardashian was forced to withdraw from Dancing with the Stars when her partner completely tore his groin muscles while trying to spread his legs wide enough to fit around her ass.