Friday, March 31, 2006

There's Something about Mary Corey

My son hit a huge milestone this week. As many of you remember, Corey stood and peed the other week. A great sense of accomplishment despite the fact he rested his hands on the toilet bowl the entire time. My friend Nicole was kind enough to mention that we should invest in some Potty Mitts . Wow, it amazes me what people will think of next.

But this weekend, something even bigger occurred. He took a piss in his first urinal. The boy has now become the man. Pretty soon he’ll be cutting farts on the couch as he watches football…or in our house, watching ‘How to Design your Rock Garden Oasis.’

I could not have been more proud of the boy. Truthfully, I was bit dishonest in telling him that all the sit down potties were broken, but he didn’t seem to mind when we walked up to the urinal and began our business.

For you estrogen-blog readers, let me explain that most bathrooms now come equipped with a lowered urinal. Designed for youngsters and midgets people of short stature, these ingenious devices sit about a foot off the ground and allow for, how should we say it, a 'dangle-free' zone.

This being Corey’s first time, he didn’t quite get the positioning. While I was working to make sure the drops all landed in the porcelain and not in the pants, he was fascinated by the echo you can make when you stick your entire head inside the device and scream, “Hello?

I still call the day a success. He peed in the urinal and not a drop on the pants. However, I knew we had still some work, for when we left the bathroom, Larry looked at us and said, “Did you gel his hair back? It’s all wet.

Abiguity works wonders. “Nope,” I said. “He did that all by himself.


Thursday, March 30, 2006

My Heart Won't Go On

Sometimes we’ll turn on TV and listen to the news in the background as we make dinner. OK, who am I kidding? We usually plop down in front of the boob tube during our dinner and watch Access Hollywood. Neither of us like that Mary Hart chick on Entertainment Tonight, but I think there may be an impending move to her because Billy Bush quite possibly is the most annoying man on this planet.

Anywho, last night we’re listening glued to Access Hollywood and they hit their ‘birthdays’ segment. Most of the time they’ll bring up someone like Ned Beatty and announce that he turned 89. Customarily, we usually will follow with, “Huh, I thought he was dead.

But last night, as I’m wolfing down on some microwaved dish from Costco, Nancy O’Dell begins her nightly announcements.

Today, Celine Dion turns 38,” she says. I start to cough and choke.

As I regain composure, I look up at Larry and say, “That bitch is younger than me?” In three seconds it hits me that I am middle aged. At 39 and 1/4, I’ve now hit that stage where I’m older than lots of famous people. Sure I always knew I was older than Britney and Jessica Simpson and even groups like Matchbox Twenty. But Celine? Fuck!

I mean that woman went public about pregnancy issues so naturally I just assumed those ovaries were nearing 50 or something. Plus isn’t her husband like battling Alzheimer’s or something?

In an instant, I realize that I’ve become my parents. (Actually, my folks are really cheap and don’t believe in good skin care products, so just pick your own random set of parental-types.) It hits me that I again have moved into a new stage of my life. It doesn’t matter if I run an 8K in great clothes. It doesn’t matter if I work out or go hiking in the Shenandoahs.

I’m a middle age dad. I’m the person at work who cares more about his retirement than happy hour. I’m the guy who accidentally puts on dress socks with gym shoes and shrugs it off. (Only with long pants mind you. I’m not at the point where you’ll see me in dress socks and shorts. That blog entry will come much later.)

However, when I look down at the smiling face of my three year old, I’m the happiest man alive.

So stick that in your ovaries, you stupid French Canadian tart!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Pump Up the Volume

Yesterday, we were graced by another visit from Jenni. She’s in town again for some meeting, and although she’s not staying with us, we always require her to call and allow time for a visit. To us, she’s become the daughter we never had. Ironically, she keeps pointing out that I would have been two years old when I fathered her. I keep responding back that stranger things have happened. “Look at Tony Randall. He was a father at age 72.” She never takes the bait.

Jenni came over for brunch yesterday. About 11:30, we piled her and Corey into the car (the two siblings don’t spend enough time together) and headed up to Silver Spring for some nourishment. Once we settled into the restaurant and ordered, we began grilling Jenni on her life. She produced a number of job ads and told us that she may be moving back home to DC. She also mentioned that she’d begun dating again.

Tell us about him,” we inquired.

Well there a many ‘hims’. I took an ad out on and I’ve received a number of responses from the picture I placed online.

My only questions, “Are you wearing clothes?” Her glare told me the answer I needed.

She proceeded to explain the process and when we got home, took us online to see her ad, her glamour shot very nice photo, and the possible men we would eventually be calling ‘son’. As we perused the ads, she looked at her watch and told us she needed to leave soon. In fact, there was a man she’d be meeting that afternoon at the tidal basin to see the cherry blossoms.

We started talking a few days ago and though he’s not really my type, he seems nice. His name is Marrs,” she said.

Larry & I looked at each other, but Larry spoke up first. “Mars? As in Women are from Venus…?

She smiled. “Yep. Except this man is named Marrs instead of just being from Mars.

Another look at the watch told us she needed to go. She gave us a both a kiss and skipped to the car.

As she took off, I looked at Larry trying to be funny. “Our girl is dating a candy bar. But I thought Almond Joy had the nuts.” I smiled.

Larry rolled his eyes. “You doof. It’s ‘Almond Joy’s got nuts; Mounds don’t. Not Mars bars.


Friday, March 24, 2006

The Mad Hatters

Our neighborhood is a pretty active community. Living in an urban area, we don’t have a lot of stay at home moms or dads. The demographics have always leaned towards older retired folks or couples without children. The DC schooling situation exacerbates the whole issue of trying to get a lot of families to move into the District.

We are lucky enough to live among a lot of people who invest time into our neighborhood. There is an amazing civic association and we never have a shortage of people announcing how things could be better.

At the core is our list serve. This is one item that proves some people have too much time on their hands. (As if blogs didn’t prove the very same thing.) While some of the messages such as crime or community issues are worthwhile, there are always a number each week indicating that the recycling wasn’t picked up. People, talk to someone who cares.

We also have a number of committees and special interest groups. I tragically had signed up to be block captain. That meant when special announcements needed to be distributed to everyone on the street, I had to print them out and deliver them. You can only imagine how long that lasted.

So now I sit on the newsletter folding group and the yard sale group. Neither job consists of devoting more than 3 hours a year to help promote neighborhood camaraderie. Who says I’m not a man for others.

The strangest group in our area is the Orange Hat Patrol. Every Thursday at 7:30 PM, these folks walk down one of our major retail streets to show criminals we have a neighborhood watch program. OK folks, I’m thinking that delinquents may learn the whole routine-thing and just avoid the Thursday evening crime spree.

Surprisingly, I did not join this group either. Yes, a major reason is that Thursday night TV is pretty darn important, but mostly because orange is a really unflattering color for me. (Let’s not even talk about how matted down my hair would be with all I put in it.)

So here’s the funniest thing, DC just announced a Blue Hat Patrol. Unlike the Orange Hatters, the Blue Hat Patrol will conduct indoor walks of apartment buildings in the area to spot safety and cleanliness issues.

My favorite line of the whole article... “We call them Blue Hat Patrols because we wanted to distinguish this group from the Orange Hat Patrol Groups,” says Yvonne Smith, Community Outreach Coordinator, PSA 411.

Wow! There are some f*cking brilliant people out there. And these are the ones protecting us.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Paraplegic Coach

I'm reading this great book called The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. It's no secret I'm a big fan of these kinds of books. The problems that exist in a workplace often translate back into your personal life and vice versa. Many times, there are things that target a crisis at work and yet, you can take the recommendations and bring them into your own life.

However, you can also be paralyzed by the very essence of organization excellence books. Becoming almost obsessive-compulsive with reading as many as possible can actually cause more of a problem.

My last company was fanatical about these types of books. Each month, they would announce the newest book that would take the organization off the map in regards to income earned. While, I Enjoyed Myself Immensely at this job (snort), the very idea of having to read another book and NOT apply it to the company became ludicrous.

Like all businesses, we read Good to Great by Jim Collins. I loved this book. It was so popular around our company that we'd quote certain key phrases. "You are so in the wrong seat on the bus." "Hey, is that part of our hedgehog concept?" "Dude, you fly-wheel is down." The company culture changed... but only in our verbiage and not our execution.

We read Selling the Invisible to better understand the customer mindset. We read Execution to improve the workflow process. And we read Creating Customer Evangelists to help us learn how the top companies handled customer retention. Each time we'd finish a book, there would be small teams created to talk about what was learned and ways we could implement those lessons. And each time, nothing would ever come if it because we'd be on to the next book.

Next we went into TopGrading and that was going to change the way we hired employees. It was decided that this method, which included up to three days of interviewing depending upon the position, would let the best hires rise to the top and become part of the organization. Ironically, they never looked at who would be supervising these star players and these new folks felt very unsatisfied with the lack of direction they were given by substandard supervisors

For the record, I endorse all of these books, just not all in the same six months.

All of this comes from the top down. The CEOs follow a personal executive coaching plan. While again I support this, I believe coaching strategies should compliment your life, not take it over.

When I first became a director, this certain CEO (I’ll call him Pierre for the story) called me over to see how things were going. I explained the goals we were shooting for as a group and how the whole team was meeting together to work towards next year’s initiatives.

Instead of praise, he said, “Are you using the Strategy Circle?” He reached over to a nearby shelf and produced an 11 x 17 piece of paper. On it, were green rectangles, pink circles and blue triangles. It seriously looked as though Lucky Charms had vomited up a management plan.

Use this and it will help you solve all your troubles,” Pierre said. I felt as though I had gone to Poo-Ella, the fortune teller.

Management also had to title certain days on our calendars as well. We had concentration days, bumper days and liberated days. (I’ve changed the names a bit as not to infringe on the company that actually charges for this amazing service.)

Two weeks after my department’s meeting, Pierre stopped me in the hallway to see how my meeting went. “Pierre, you’d be so pleased at the marketing campaigns and aggressive goals we set.

He looked at me confused. “Well, okay... but I was more interested to see how the Strategy Circle went.

I paused and then answered honestly, “It helped us really see what was truly important.

Weird that 6 out of the 7 people in the department don't work there any more.


Monday, March 13, 2006

Percocet and a Smile

Race Registration: $24
New hi-tech Wicking running clothes that make my butt look good: $114
Friends who come cheer you on and then take you for breakfast: $10.95

(Okay, it’s priceless but that’s so cache don’t you think.)

While, I was a whiny bitch yesterday afternoon, running the race was one of the best experiences ever. Over 6000 people turned out and most likely, 5000 of them passed Emily & I as we made our way through the streets of Washington, DC. All day my legs and back ached, but we ran the entire way, never stopping to walk once.

It could not have been a more beautiful day to go running. There was a nice breeze, no sun and it was about 62 degrees. The course was pretty flat and after the first mile, people spread out nicely so no one was on top of each other. Emily smartly put us near the front. Although thousands of people passed us, we were still in a big group as we crossed the finish line.

On the positive side, we kept a pace of 8:44/mile according to the timekeeper and in the men’s category, I came in 2121 out of 2249. Lucky for me, there were some pretty large guys running as well as some idiot who juggled four balls the entire race. And I thought I had issues with multitasking. Emily did much better coming in 2050 out of 2489.

Overall, a validating experience and one I will not forget. Next time, I will definitely practice more than twice. And as long as Emily runs with me, there will be many more races to come in the future, though I’m thinking a 5K would be even better.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Running on Empty

I write today … for tomorrow I may be dead. Yep, all my bragging that I’m running a 10K (which btw, turned into an 8K due to construction work)—well, the proof is in the pudding tomorrow. This afternoon, I picked up my freaking number and registration packet.

It wouldn’t be exaggerating to say that I’ve run twice since January 15th. One of those times was with my dear friend, Emily. You remember her right? That crazy insane person who thought this would be fun. She and I ran about three weeks ago and I thought I’d nearly die. True, I have bought this amazing running outfit and frankly, I looked rather good. It’s not too tight in the pants, but tight enough if you know what I mean. (Sorry straight guys, but having a great ass and package is still kinda important to us middle age gay guys.)

The problem was that it didn’t pass 35 degrees that morning. I learned that having a great ass doesn’t mean shit if the thing is frozen. We both pooped out after 3 miles so I was worried that 6 miles would be impossible. Perhaps if I could bail out at the last minute? I realized that it would most likely be freezing in mid-march so I’d pull a “cold-induced asthma” deal on her and skip the race.

No deal; it’s 75 degrees here in DC this weekend. I’m so f*cked, it is not even funny. Plus, I had to buy a pair of running shorts since I’ll overheat in the long pants.

Larry & I went to Sports Authority today and bought the running shorts. Weird thing was that the shorts weren’t like regular shorts; they have this hammock-like piece in it that’s supposed to hold the ‘boys’ up, I guess. When I tired the shorts on, my underwear got all bunched up in the hammock. (If this is too much information for you, then stop reading. It’s not like I’m forcing you.) I know that if I run with underwear, I’m going to get chafed so now I’m worried that I’ll have run Commando. People wouldn’t be looking at my butt then, that’s for sure.

Tomorrow, assuming you come out to root for me, look for #2229. Of course, that may not be the thing that will catch your eye first.

Emily is going to regret the day she ever asked me to run.

More tomorrow… if I make it.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Stalking in Memphis

With this new job, I actually have to travel a bit. So here I am, on my first Memphis. Let me just say that Memphis is not all that it's cracked up to be.

The greatest part of traveling is learning about cultures that are different to your own. And nothing is more different for me than red neck America. How have I been integrated in that culture? It wasn't the cheering for BrokeBack Mountain to win Best Picture. It was the marching of the ducks at the Peabody Hotel.

Twice a day, five ducks arrive via the elevator from their "rooftop palace" to go swimming in the lobby fountain. Okay sure, I'm all for the marketing spin on things, but really..they are still just ducks.

I seem to be the only one with this mindset because the freaking lobby is packed each day with folks trying to take pictures of these birds as the shit down the red carpet on their way through the lobby. The pathway is blocked off with velvet ropes, so over a hundred specatators can watch them as they waddle back and forth.

The "oohhs" and "aahhs" are mind-boggling to me. I mean, these are ducks; the equivalent of floating squirrels. What is the appeal of watching this? And worse yet, I've seen folks get in line to watch this multiple times!

I got in the elevator with one of the conference attendees today and she was remarking how great the duck march was. I listened politely, but knew it would be hard not to be a shithead at my own meeting, so I changed the subject.

"Were you able to take in some of the local restaurants while you've been here?" I asked.

"Oh yes, she said. "We went to T.G.I.Fridays last night. Have you ever eaten there? It's wonderful.

'Nuff said.