Friday, April 30, 2010

Y is for Yours

ears ago, when I was a kid and I would watch The Mickey Mouse Club, and they would be singing their song teaching us how to spell "Mickey" they would invariably get to "Y?  Because we like you!"  This, to me, always seemed like a bit of a cop out.  There were things that they could have put into that song that would have actually started with the letter Y.  As it were, they did all they could to contribute to the poor spelling of America's youth, and they really, if you want to be that way, could be blamed for the start of that awful text message language that everyone uses these days.  Thanks, Disney.
     One might be tempted to say that I am a little jealous about the fact that they could cop out and I couldn't, and one would be almost correct.  I am more bitter than jealous but you are on the right track.  Because I can't cop out like Disney did, I have actually come up with something that begins with the letter Y.
     Y is for yours.  It is a word that confers ownership of something to someone else, but in a broader sense it also has to do with belonging, not so much of something to you but of you to something.  Let me endeavor to explain: when I went into the hospital for my IV treatment the other day they said "Go to your room and we will be in shortly."  I am not an in-patient at the hospital, but I still have a room of my own apparently.  That is because I sort of belong in a way.  It feels good.  Let me throw another example out there for you: at the restaurant you go to every morning your table is in the back corner.  You do not own the table (unless you own the restaurant) but it is yours because that is where you are found and that is where you belong. 
     It's kind of a nice feeling when you get down to it, but not necessarily one that you think of when you are thinking of the word "yours."  Like, when an English as a Second Language teacher is teaching English they wouldn't waste time on teaching yours as you belonging to something, only something belonging to you.  Still, it is one of the things that is nice about life, that you can belong to something or some place and that place in that time becomes yours.  Why?  Because you like it.  Mickey Mouse cop out.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

X is for Xerox

marks the spot on every pirate map.  But today we are not going to discuss pirates, or even things like the noble gas Xenon or Xenophobia, a trend which is beginning to take precedence in the news as Arizona attempts their own immigration reform.  We are going to talk about a word - a made up word, a common noun, a word that is now legal in Scrabble, and a word that has two X's - Xerox.
     Xerox is one of those brand names that has sort of become synonymous with what they create or represent, even though they long ago branched out into a bunch of other areas.  Kleenex (another X!) is what a lot of people call tissues, regardless of brand.  Same thing with Coke and soda (or pop), or BMX for bikes, or whatever.  And so for Xerox, because a lot of times people use that when they mean to say copy, so that is good if you are them I suppose.
     The reason why X is for Xerox today is because I am wondering, and have been for some time, about people Xeroxing themselves in, how do we say, sensitive areas.  We all know the story: you go to the office Christmas party which is always somewhat lamely held in the office and which somewhat improbably serves alcohol, and you get a little bit lubed up and before you can say "Sexual Harassment Suit" there is photocopy picture of someone's ass, blown up seventeen times and on display for the people who sign your paychecks to see.
     Here is the deal with that story though: it is highly improbable.  And I have never done it, nor have I ever known someone who has done it.  Let me get into why it is improbable, okay?  First of all, I am guessing that most companies don't hold their big parties right in the office, okay?  Like, that's a lot of work and distraction and cleanup and cubicles aren't really conducive to a party atmosphere.  They usually rent out a restaurant dining room or a conference room at a hotel and get that shit catered.  Number two, even if your cheap ass employer decided to have the party right in the office, I would doubt they are going to let people get boozed up, even if it IS after hours.  I would suspect that most corporate campuses have rules regarding the consumption of alcohol on the premesis, which means that someone is going to have to sneak in a flask and spike the punch like you are at a TV show high school dance.  Thirdly, I don't know about your copy machines, Company, but the copy machine at my work requires six advanced degrees and an associates degree in patience to operate correctly.  Most people I know can't even operate it while sober, I don't know how six gin and tonics are going to make them any better at figuring out that they need size A4 paper loaded horizontally to get a truly accurate picture of their ass, let alone being able to blow it up as a mosaic and then tape it together in the right order for everyone to see.
     So I call shenanegans on this whole thing, because I don't think anyone has ever made a Xerox copy of their ass or tittys or schlong in a successful way.  I take that back, I am sure that there a bunch of people who have, but not that many in the grand scheme of things.  So I don't know where this myth came from, or where it started, or who thinks it is going to work like a charm, but I am going to call bullshit.  It doesn't work.  And I wouldn't want to do it anyway.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

W is for Wellness

hen we started this April Alphabetic Post Promotion we really did plan to stick to our guns and be good and get it done by the time May rolled around, if anyone was left reading.  But as often happens, the best laid plans certainly went awry.  I tweeted a couple of days ago that we were away at Club Med, and as such there wouldn't be any posts for a couple of days.  Well Company, that was not exactly true.  The med part was.  I was in the hospital for treatment of an infection that required IV antibiotics.  I put the Club Med thing out there to avoid the inevitable worldwide panic that would have occurred had people thought I was in peril, although it was like Club Med because I had cable TV and all my meals were brought right to my bedside.  And I did look dashing in my gown, although the game of "Which way will the opening be facing today" got old with the staff right quick.
      W is for wellness today though, because of my time in the hospital.  Wellness is sort of an abstract concept that came about somewhere along the way, and is often found on the right side of the ampersand and couple with Health.  If this were Cagney & Lacey, wellness would be Lacey, because it always goes Health & Wellness, get it Company?  Anyway, health is easy enough, it is when your physical body is operating properly.  That is why you go into the hospital - it's like the mechanic for your body - and most hospitals are good at that aspect.  Mine was in this case: I was released in about half the time they expected me to be.  But not all medical care facilities can do as good a job with wellness.
     Wellness is like the mental and emotional part.  Matchbox Twenty once sang "I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell."  Wellness is being right in mind and spirit.  And I definitely was not when I walked through the automated revolving door on Monday night.  Yeah, that is right, and automatic revolving door.  It was the strangest thing and I still have trouble figuring it out.  It is, however, the most amazing but over the top thing in my opinion.  Someday I am just going to walk circles in it for like 15 minutes and see if anyone notices.  But that's not the point here.  The point is that when I first came through it I was a little scared, I will admit it.  But little did I know that the hospital would be so good with the wellness aspect of the whole thing.
     I was fortunate enough to get hooked up with an amazing staff of nurses, CNAs, EMTs, etc.  Even the housekeeping staff was friendly and nice.  These men and women (mostly women) were so patient, caring, and informative that they almost immediately made me start feeling at ease.  They were patient with my many, many questions, and attentive to my sometimes frivilous needs.  There was a time when they were scheduling me a very routine procedure that involved implanting something into me to allow me to leave the hospital, and it made me very, very anxious, and the nurse on duty was so good to help me understand just how routine (and painless) it would be.  I can't thank them enough.
     So I was able to be healthy AND well, and there is not reason to have health without wellness.  They made me healthy and kept me well.  I get to see the cast of characters as an outpatient for the next few days (in fact, I am getting my outpatient treatment as I type this), and I feel good about that, because I genuinely like them.  I am actually thinking about getting sick or injured again just so we can hang out.  They really are good with the wellness thing, aren't they?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

V is for Vs.

Virtually every aspect of our life is made up not so much of competition as it is of opposition.  And opposition is defined almost always by two little letters, which stand for the woed versus: vs.
     We see it in sports all the time.  Los Angeles vs. Utah.  Nashville vs. Chicago.  Twickenham vs. Nottingham Forest.  Whatever vs. whatever.  It’s not just about sports, however, as vs. comes to define and structure just about every aspect of our lives.
     The computer that I used to write this post runs on the principle of on vs. off, yes vs. no, or 0 vs. 1, however you want to look at it.  Are you sitting on a chair while you read this?  That is because gravity and the weight beating capacity of that chair is in opposition and the chair is winning.  There are so many forces in opposition that make your car go down the road that it would make your head spin faster than the crankshaft inside your engine.  You are taking advantage of that fantastic deal on your cable television because of cable vs. satellite.
     You want me to keep going with more examples?  Because I can.  The Kentucky Derby is  like eight horses all against one another.  Their muscles are making them run because of the expansions and contraction of the muscle fibers against a hinged joint.  The muscle almost always wins that one.  You know how they are always blowing a bugle there?  That music comes from the vibrations of metal vs. air, and metal will win that one almost all the time. 
     So what does this mean, nameless Unpaid Intern?  What is this all about?  What’s the point?  Nothing, really, when you get right down to it.  I mean, sure I could go on and on and on and wrap this into some sort of treatise on war and the human condition in an effort to impress my professors, but really, I just want them to get me the hell out of here.  And you wouldn’t care anyway.  It’s just something interesting to think about.  I am sure that if you look around you as you go through your life you will start to notice what I am talking about.  Nothing is static, everything is in opposition.  You just spent a bunch of time reading what I thought about that, so I guess that means I won against all those other entertainment options, doesn’t it?  See what I mean?

U is for Undulate

is for undulate.  The dictionary defines this as "having a wavy surface, edge, or markings."  But I have always sort of included it as being applicable to weaving back or forth, or even swaying, as if it were an amber wave of grain or something.  There is, however, and always has been a sort of, how do we say, dirty connotation with the word.  When I say it I see two naked bodies undulating on a dirty fleabag motel mattress.  With dim lights.  And keys that are actually still keys.  That sort of thing.  That's what I think of when I think of things undulating.
    I have noticed that I have been doing a lot of undulating lately, not of the fun dirty hotel style but like more in my opinions and thinking.  A lot of people would call that waffling.  That's a lie.  There wouldn't be a lot of people who would call that waffling, there are about sixteen people who would call that waffling.  I was once a member of the Waffling Club For Young Moderates, which was a club that became much more active and respected after I moved on, which is normal.  I once coached a softball team that only won one game all season and that was the week I was absent.
    Anyway, I have been doing some waffling, some undulating on how I stand with some things.  No big deal.  But wait, it is a sort of big deal.  I am not talking about small things, like what to have for lunch or whether to watch curling or Dancing with the Stars.  I am talking about my stance on life issues.  I mean that I say it's okay for one person and not the other.  I mean do as I say, not as I do.  And I am not okay with that.
     To me, it's a problem not so much of ignorance as it is a question of sloth and cowardice.  It is really easy to hold others to a higher standard but then cut corners oneself, which means that one is not only lazy but hypocritical, which in my opinion is the worst thing a person can be.  So that's not good.  If one intends to be lazy, one has to be willing to afford the other people the same luxury.  There have been an awful lot of times that I haven't and I am not willing to accept that.
     Then there is the cowardice.  It is very easy to allow one person to do something, or act a certain way, but then refusing to allow another to act the same way, especially when the person doing the action is a friend of yours.  It is imperative to have the confidence in your stance to not be afraid to apply your feeling of right and wrong to everyone.  That is courage.  And that is something I need a little more of in my life.
     This would have been a great New Year's resolution, but it will work just as well in late April.  It is time for a change, at least in the way I do business.  No more undulating for this guy.  Except when it comes to the Unpaid Interns.  They don't count.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

T is for Trees

here were a lot of people on the radio, on multiple stations just where I live mind you, who were talking about how they were going to plant trees because it was Earth Day.  One man even talked about how his son brought one home from school to plant.  I don't understand this raging mega-hard boner that people have for planting trees on Earth Day.  It seems to me that people should plant trees on Arbor Day; on Earth Day they should plant Earths.
     Sorry, I know that was cheesy and bad, but I came up with that in the car this morning and I have been chomping at the bit to let fly with it all day long.  I do, sort of, wonder about this whole planting trees thing, like when it became chic and when everyone and their brothers started doing it.  The logging companies have been doing it for decades, and no one seems to give them any credit for anything.  I mean, I am not against planting trees at all, nothing bad will come from planting a tree in your yard, unless of course it grows up and then a tornado proceeds to knock it down onto your house or car.
     HAHA!  I got you good, Company.  T is really for tornado today.  Man was that sweet.  You thought I was coming at you with a typical tree-hugging Earth Day post and then WHAM-O! the bottom dropped out and now we are talking about one of the biggest tree-killers of them all, right behind people and Mt. St. Helens.  The reason we are talking about tornados (T could also be for trailer park today, which goes great with tornado, and especially with that fat, obese, unhygenic woman standing in front of the friendly local TV camera explaining how it sounded like a freight train and she ran into the bathroom just as her trailer disappeared around her, which is bullshit because it didn't sound like a freight train, it sounded like a tornado, which is what it was) is because we are smack in the middle of Severe Weather and Tornado Awareness Week, which is a week when, in the United States - which has more tornadoes than any other nation on Earth - has their National Weather Service do a bunch of informational stuff and test out their tornado warning infrastructure.  So, this afternoon, they are going to celebrate Earth Day by making everyone in the midwest think about what the Earth can do to make them die.  First there will be a test tornado watch that will be issued, then there will be a series of test tornado warnings from each of several offices, and then there will be some test severe weather statements, which are like updates.  Sounds good.  The sort of unnerving thing though, is that a lot of local communities will be testing their tornado sirens at the same time as the test warnings.
     For those of you who are unaware, many communities in tornado-prone area have a series of sirens throughout their towns or cities that will blow when a tornado is imminent.  Sort of like an air raid siren from wartime.  In a lot of small town this is the same siren that is used to call the volunteer fire department, which is good because you are going to need those guys once the tornado comes through and tears down some electric wires and they start your downtown on fire.  It's bad because the people in your town have to be able to use contextual clues - such as darkening sky or violent wind or a tornado barreling down Maple St. - to know why the siren is going off, and let's face it, most of the people in your town are fucking morons.  Also, many communities activiate their tornado sirens at noon each day in order to test them out and to tell everyone when it is time to go to lunch.
     The reason that the tornado siren test will be a little unnerving is because when you hear it go off and the contextual clues aren't right it is really, really, alarming.  For instance, if the siren blares and you look outside and it's a beautiful, sunny day, and you look at the clock and it's not noon, and they don't use the siren to call the fire department where you live, you start to wonder what's going on.  You run outside your front door to look down the street.  You don't know if it's a floor or a foreign invasion or a cloud of locusts or if maybe that one little puffy white cloud WAY WAY WAY high up in the sky is spawning a tornado - you just don't know.  Your heart rate increases and you have a miniature panic attack because you are so scared and confused but then the siren dies away and everything returns to normal for the rest of day, except you are a little on edge and every time someone says hello you sort of jump because, well, you just don't know why the siren went off.
     For their part the media have done a good job of letting it be known that this is going on, but you know there are going to be a lot of forgetful people, or people who are just not paying attention, who are going to freak out when the watches and warnings are issues and the tests start to happen.  Such is life.  But be aware of what to do in tornadoes and severe weather this week, and remember that is all part of nature and Earth.  As much a part as planting trees.  Happy Earth Day everyone!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Happy St. Peaches Day!


t Peaches Day is a very special day here at the Big Dave and Company World Headquarters.  It always has been as long as I have been here, since my highly unpaid internship began over three years ago.  As you can see from the pictures, there are lots of festive things that we do here at Big Dave and Company.  First of all, we all go out onto the main front lawn here at the Worldwide Headquarters and make a gigantic letter "S" on the lawn, S is for St. Peaches, also it is for syphilus, which is what St. Peaches died from long, long ago.
     We also throw confetti in the bushes and eat tasty burgers, which is an important part of the celebration, especially when you eat your burgers with cheese and tomatoes, but with no lettuce.  There is no lettuce on a St. Peaches Day burger.   Then, after we eat our St. Peaches Day delicious tasty burgers, we all pile into our St. Peaches Day floats and parade around the town.  That is the most fun part.  Below is a picture of last year's St. Peaches Day celebration, at which about fifty college kids that we didn't know invaded the Worldwide Headquarters.
Looks like a lot of fun, doesn't it?  And it was.  That is the best part about any St. Peaches Day celebration: anyone is always invited and it's always a good time.  There is never any drama and there is always this sort of fraternal feeling of family and joy.  So it's nice.  Go out and be happy.  It's St. Peaches Day.  Happy St. Peaches Day.  Enjoy.

Monday, April 19, 2010

R is for Ridiculous

idiculous - \rə-ˈdi-kyə-ləs\ - adj; arousing or deserving ridicule: absurd, preposetous.

     Ridiculous is a word that we use a lot here at Big Dave and Company, and a word that took me a long, long time to learn how to spell correctly.  But the problem is that it is a word that seems to apply, at least in my mind, to a lot of the things that happen in this world.  Keep in mind that a synonym for ridiclous is laughable, because something laughable happened in Kansas recently.
     When I went to Kansas City for a visit, everyone I knew that was from there or had been there before always said "Follow the speed limit once you get to Kansas.  If you are on the Missouri side of town you can go x - but once you go into Kansas slow down."  You always get that kind of advice from people, and I always sort of take it with a grain of salt, because everyone has different experiences.  But I heard this same advice from across the board, so I gave it a little more creedence, and then when I actually finally drove into Kansas, all the traffic did slow down to the speed limit, so all those people were right.
     The reason that I relate this story is that the most recent ridiculous story that we need to touch on comes out of Kansas, from the KC metro area no less, and involves a police officer.  WHAT ARE THE ODDS!  In this case, as in so many, we only come up on this story after it has happened, but it is significant because it sets a very dangerous and very scary precedent.  The City of Olathe in Kansas recently settles a civil rights complaint filed, with the help of the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), by a man from nearby Overland Park.  When Scott Schaper was stopped for running a stop sign and given a ticket, he was not happy, so he flipped the officer the bird.  Not even like he put up three fingers and said "Read between the lines" or anything cool like that, he flat out just did it.  So the officer did something as well.  He gave him a disorderly conduct ticket.
     This, to me, seems appropriate.  Granted, we have seen police officers deal with a whole lot more from people without making them pay - like the classic video of the guy who wigs out when he sees how much his speeding ticket costs and then launches a verbal tirade and rips up his ticket and throws it on the ground, to which the police officer responds "Sir, if you don't pick that up I am going to ticket you for littering as well" CLASSIC! - but we have also seen a lot worse, like Rodney King, and we all saw where that got us in the early 90s. 
     So I didn't think that this was such a big deal, and if I had been in Jackass Scott Schaper's shoes I would have been pissed too, but once I got home and cooled off and realized that, okay, I probably deserved what I got.  Actually, I would be happy that I wasn't hauled off to jail for being a jackass, which Scott Schaper is.  Scott, who by the way is a jackass, doesn't agree with me.  He went crying to the ACLU - who I always admire but sometimes despise - and now he is getting $4000 from the city, and the ACLU is getting $1000.  All because he claims that the officer made his children cry, and that's why he flipped him off.
      Disclaimer time!  First of all, it is true that we don't have all the details here, or at least I don't because once again my crack team of Unpaid Interns has failed to provide me with all the materials I require, so we don't know what really happened here.  First of all, Jackass Scott Schaper could be absolutely telling the truth here.  The police officer could have been rude and overly agressive and said something to make the kids cry.  That is a totally possible and totally plausable scenario - it's happened before.  But I am not buying it, because I have come to the conclusion that Scott Schaper is a jackass, and let me tell you why.
      First of all, he had his kids in the car, which in and of itself does not make him a jackass.  It's good because he is taking care of his kids in some way, shape, or form.  But he ran a stop sign with his kids in the car, which is not cool.  I am not saying that I haven't blatently run a stop sign, or inadvertently rolled through about eleventy billion of them in my lifetime.  But I also didn't have two of my kids in the back seat.  There may not have been any other traffic within miles of that stop sign aside from the Olathe cop, but that stop sign is there for a reason and you - for whatever reason - chose not to obey it.  But it was still there, which means that for a safety reason someone felt that you should be stopping your vehicle, which means that by blowing through it you put your two children in danger.  Jackass.
     Reason number two that you are a jackass is because you flipped off a police officer.  That's not cool.  Even if he did make your children cry (which I still don't buy) there are about - oh...151 better ways to handle it than doing that.  Maybe a polite "Officer, please, you are upsetting my children" would have worked better if he had been inappropriate, then at least you'd have a sort of valid leg to stand upon.  But no, you chose to, right in front of your impressionable children - who were probably crying more because daddy was getting all upset - give one of the most socially disrespectful gestures to a police officer who is really just trying to protect everyone by making us all play by the same rules.
     Geat example you've set for everyone, there Jackass Scott Schaper.  You've taught your children that it's okay to flip people the bird.  And you've taught everyone in America that you now don't have to show respect to police officers.  Thanks jackass.  Thanks ACLU.  No.  Olathe police officers now have to go to training to learn how to take verbal abuse.  NO.  That is not right.  Read that sentence again.  That does not make sense.  Police officers should not have to take any verbal abuse, for a lot of reasons.  First of all, they are police officers and even if they are in relatively safe Olathe, Kansas they are still putting their lives at risk every day for not really that much pay.  Second of all, they have to play by a very specific and special set of rules, and those rules sort of say that they can't verbally abuse you or abuse the powers granted them.  If the roles were reversed here, and the police officer flipped off Jackass Scott Schaper, he'd be out of a job right now, or at the very least on some sort of unpaid suspension.  The bottom line is this: You can't make police officers play by special rules, and then not make people play by the same rules with them.  The ACLU and Jackass Scott Schaper have essentially laid down the precedent that it is okay to abuse police officers; they might as well have gotten a law enacted that says they have to wear their own handcuffs around.  Thanks Jackass Scott Schaper, you have made America a worse place to live.  And you sold out peace and stability for $4000.  I am flipping you the bird with both hands right now and typing the words "Go fuck yourself" with a pencil held between my teeth while I do it.  And you'd better not get upset or I will get the ACLU on your ass faster than you can make your children cry.  Jackass.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Q is for Quiet

uiet is the kind of thing that can really grab a person's attention quickly.  That is how the saying "Silence is deafening" came to be.  We have become so accustomed to having all sort of white noise around us at all time that when it is absent it is really, totally noticeable. Think, for just a minute, about all the things that you hear around you on any given day.  Not just the TV, radio, or the tuned spitting out from your iPod.  No, things like the ticking clock, the pump running on your water softener, the birds chirping, or the cars whizzing by on the street.  Maybe the neighbors humping in the backyard again even though you asked them very politely to please stop.
     Well, take all that away once, and see what it is like.  Think about when you walk into a mausoleum where even the dust hasn't been disturbed since 1952.  Or that time right before a major storm rolls in and even the birds and animals have vacated the premesis.  It's noticeable, and it is really, really, creepy.  Ever wake up in the morning (or afternoon I suppose) and not hear a thing, not even the refrigerator running?  That's enough to get your attention right quick.
     It's even worse when it happens suddenly.  It happened to me at a bowling tournament recently actually.  At a bowling tournament there is always a lot of noise being created: pin setters, people talking, pins falling, with a few curse words thrown in for good measure.  Well, I was up to go and suddenly, very suddenly and a bit oddly it all stopped.  It became eerily quiet very quickly.  Talk about unnerving.  I don't remember if I made a good shot or not, but I wouldn't be surprised if I hadn't, because that sudden lack of noise in a normally noisy environment is as devestating as a sudden sharp noise in a normally quiet one, like a golf tournament or tennis match.
     So that's the power of quiet, which is one of those instances where a lack of something can be as significant as having it there.  Just wait until the next time it happens to you.  You know what I mean.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

P is for People

is for people, and that is the most important thing in the world.  You should know that by now.  Haven't you ever seen a public service announcement?

Friday, April 16, 2010

O is for Opportunity

is for opportunity.  And I would like to take this opportunity to talk about the letter K.  See, I have been trying to do this alphabetic post idea, sort of to freshen things up and see what it's like, and I have been doing pretty well I think, except for the fact that last week some wires got a little crossed here at the Worldwide Headquarters and we forgot to do a post for the letter K.
    For your part, I am just a little disappointed.  Only one person took the time to remind me that I had forgotten the letter K, and as such I am forced to assume that he is the only one who noticed, so thanks to Brad Perala from "Gotta Keep Em' Bloggerated."  You win the special prize, which you will receive once I decide what the special prize is.
     So let's talk about excuses.  In the end there really is none.  There was just some confusion between who was supposed to write up a post, one of the Unpaid Interns or myself, and since we are really not all that different when you get right down to it - except for the unpaid part, I am highly paid; oh, and the part where they are kept chained up and I am allowed to roam free - but other than that we are pretty similar.  As such, instead of us both doing a post because we weren't sure, we both assumed the other was going to because we are lazy.
    All that being said, I have managed to come up with a bunch of excuses that I could have used but did not, and I don't want to deprive you of them, so here is a sampling of some of them:

-  The dog ate my letter K post.

-  The Unpaid Interns are functionally illiterate so we shouldn't be surprised they forgot a letter somewhere along the way.

-  The letter K was purposefully left out in honor of the greatest vehicle of all time: The Chrysler K-Car.

-  The letter K was out of town at a press conference announcing its new endorsement deal with Sesame Street.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, dedicated to the premise that all men are created equal, but that the letter K should be banned unconditionally.

-  No, no, no.  We didn't forget K, we just hid it behind N.  It's there, you just have to look a little harder.

-  K is for Klu Klux Klan, and we don't endorse that kind of business here at Big Dave and Company.

-  They were out of K when we went to get our alphabet at the dicount store, so we were unable to feature that letter.

-  You're upset about K, wait until you see what happens when we get to T!

That, Company, is just a smattering of the many excuses that I was able to come up with in the instants after I read Brad's comments - you know, that knee-jerk reaction that everyone has when things first go awry before they realize that they should just deal with it and admit there was a screw up.  I should have just spit them out and that would have been neat.  Silly K.  We will get to you later.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

N is for Nixon

ixon was a sort of a magician of a man.  Or maybe more like an enigma of a man.  He managed to have lots of proactive and visionary policy initiatives, yet he managed to be the only President of the United States to ever resign while in office.  He was the spearhead of all sorts of crimes and tomfoolery, yet he himself was never taken down; the carnage was always limited to those who served him.  But, like many of the public crime figured througout the history of the United States, one of the areas in which he was actually in trouble was with the tax man.
     It is Tax Day in the United States, a curious sort of day which has become important enough to show up on my Microsoft Outlook Calendar without me even putting it on there.  For those of you who might not know how things work, most people in the United States, over the course of their years worth of wages, pay more in taxes than they needed to.  They then, at the beginning of the new year, have to file documents to show just how much they actually owe, because they can take deductions, etc off of what they paid.  They have until April 15 to file those documents, or they are in deep shit with the Internal Revenue Service - the IRS.
    This leads us, the great nation of procrastination, to a curious spectacle.  Since those tax retrun form have to be post marked by April 15th to be on time, on this day, late in the evening, there will be huge lines of people at post offices across the country with people trying desperately to get their envelopes in the mail before the stroke of midnight, at which time they will all turn into pumpkins and then I guess it really won't matter anymore, because they will all be one step away from being pie, or jack-o-lanterns if they make it until October.
     And there are lots of people.  Things have become better recently as the IRS has jumped into the digital age and begun actively and agressively promoting what they call e-filing, because anything you do via the Internet just needs to have "e-" stuck in front of it.  So that has helped as, legions of procrastinators have found that is a much easier alternative to standing out in the cold and probably rain only to have to deal with a surly post office employee once they get to the head of the line.  And those people have guns.
      Inevitably there will be a reporter hanging around, with pictures of the lines, and in the larger cities there will even probably be a traffic helicopter or two hover overhead so the world can see just how many times the line wraps around the block.  It's all a neat show that will cause at least a thousand people in a thousand seedy apartments in a thousand cities around the country to freak out and realize that they forgot to do their taxes and now they have - oh - sixty seven minutes to get them filled out and make it through that line and have them in the mail.  Good luck getting your hands on a 1040 form at this point, buddy.
     So make sure your taxes are in be midnight, Company.  And if they are and you've spent your refund already like most people, sit back, relax, and enjoy, and start thinking about doing it again next year.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

M is for Midget

is for midget, except that they are not called midgets anymore, they apparently prefer to be called "little people" which is fine, except that yesterday was "L" and I already used that up, plus I didn't find out about this story until today.  So you will have to settle for midget, I apologize, I don't mean anything mean spirited or derogatory by that term.  M just needs to be for midget today.  It is also for Mormon, which I have never understood because the church is actually the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and they seem to call them selves LDS.  Nowhere in any of those titles is anything even close to Mormon, but that is what they are popularly known as out in the greater world at large.  M is also for Mormon midget, which is an extra point in a game of Scattergories in which one uses a liberal interpretation of the rules.  A Mormon midget is also the main player in today's story.  Let me explain.
     Little Jeffy (also "L" - I totally missed the boat with a lot of "L" words yesterday I guess) told me this story, which was related to him from a third party who was a third party themselves, if that makes sense.  So I guess that means that you are the sixth degree of separation from the people who were originally involved with this story, which makes it a shame that Kevin Bacon isn't in it.  Anyway, the names have been changed to protect, well, just about everyone in it, and the location has been omitted just to be safe.  But here goes:
     There was a young man whom we will call Mr. X who had certain - how do we say - mental deficiencies.  But, he was doing alright because he was living alone in his own place, which is good.  He did, however, have a person who came in to help him out and check on his welfare and whatnot.  Sort of a mix of health worker and social worker and whatnot, and along the same lines as those home health nurses that go out to people's houses on a regular basis to take care of people who can't quite take care of themselves.  We will call her Ms. Y.  Mr. X and Ms. Y.  That sounds like the characters in a badly written school film about chromosomes, not the characters from a poorly written blog post. 
     Anyway, Ms. Y visits Mr. X every Saturday to check in on him and make sure he's doing okay.  But Mr. x is challenged, so when he calls Ms. Y on a Wednesday night and asks her if she wants to see the troll he caught she is not surpised.  She calmly reminds Mr. X that is was Wednesday and that she doesn't come visit until Saturdays.  But Mr. X is excited and he is insistent.  Ms. Y calmly explains that she won't be over until Saturday and that she will be happy to see his troll at that time, figuring that someone brought him a troll doll, or maybe he found on in the front lawn, or maybe that his imagination is just getting the better of him.  Whatever.  I would be willing to bet that sort of thing happens all the time in that industry.  So Ms. Y wins out, and Mr. X finally gives in and they both go about their business.
     As it turns out, Mr. X has some problems with his short term memory, and can't often remember conversations from earlier or whatever.  So when Saturday rolls around and Ms. Y makes her visit, she is fully expecting Mr. X to have forgotten all about the troll that he caught, all by himself.  But wait, not so much.  The first thing out of his mouth when Ms. Y gets there is "Ms. Y, want to see the troll I caught?" Ms. Y is impressed that Mr. X has remembered their phone conversation from the other day, and feels this might be a sign of hope.  A good sign.  Boy would she be surprised.
      Mr. X is once again insistent about Ms. Y seeing his troll, so she comes in and first thing Mr. X leads her over to a closet.  Ms. Y asks why they are at the closet and Mr. X responds that is where he keeps the troll he had captured.  Fair enough.  Even I figured that one out.  Anyway, Ms. Y then asks why there is a chair propped up under the doorknob of the the closet door, keeping it shut, because, you know, there was a chair propped under the doorknob to keep the closet door shut.  Mr. X responds that the chair is how he keeps his troll from running away.  Okay, makes sense.  Then he opens the door to show Ms. Y the troll that he caught.
     There was a midget in the closet.  A real live person living breathing midget. A Mormon midget.  Yes, some of you can see what is going on here.  It all went down like this: Mormon midget is out knocking on doors, as members of the Mormon church do, spreading their word.  He knocks on Mr. X's door.  Mr. X gets excited, because, well, he's mentally challenged.  So he invited the midget inside, under the false pretext of wanting to learn more about Joseph Smith, Birgham Young, and all the other tenets of Mormonism.  It was not to be.  Mr. X lured the midget over near the closet somehow and kicked him in and locked him in with the chair.  He had caught a troll, or at least he thought he had.  The poor man was held captive for at least 3 days before he was freed.  And he never even got the conversion.
     Now, while you try to recover from your laughing hysterically, or sitting there with your mouth agape in disbelief, which is what I did when I first heard this, I have to give some massive amounts of credit to the Mormon midget here.  From what I understand he was very understanding - as understanding as one could be under the circumstances I suppose - and even refused to press charges.  He did, however, have one small request, which I felt was totally appropriate considering what he had been through.  All he sort of hinted at was that maybe Mr. X shouldn't be living alone, to which the authorities responded "Oh no, don't worry, we locked him up real quick!"
    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!  I understand this is nothing to laugh at, with a man being held captive for a few days by a person who shouldn't have had the ability to do that, but still, at least no one came out that much worse for the wear.  And, if the Mormon midget ever converts, and can start going out to the bar, he's going to have a hell of a story to tell.  And some other people do too.  It just shows you what can happen when you go into a stranger's house, even if the power of belief is with you.

Monday, April 12, 2010

L is for Letters

is for letters.  I am all about the letters, people.  I have always, and I think always will, had a certain fascination with the written word.  Well, more with the whole process of writing.  Like, the actually physical act of writing.  I will sit there, bent down over the paper on the table like Dr. Fever bent down putting the needle to the record the first time that he was allowed to play a rock n' roll record on WKRP in Cincinnati.  I get right down there and look, because there is something truly romantic and special about the act of putting pen to paper.  There is something more intimate and romantic about taking the time to actually write down what you want to say.  There is a lot more effort and thought and personalization that has to go into it.
     Let me put it to you another way, Company.  When an important figure dies or retires, what are they always concerned with?  Their papers.  Nobody ever, in their textbook, takes quotes from an e-mail that Arthur B Goodcock wrote to his cousin about the creation of an independent Mozambique?  No.  It's always a letter that they wrote.  Former Presidents don't have websites devoted to their papers and work while in office.  No - they have the Gerald Ford Presidential Library, not the Gerald Ford Presidential Website.
     Here's the deal: there is something about a letter that is so much more intimate than e-mail or Telex or even a telephone call.  Sure, sure, you are going to stand there and give me a big thing about how personal a telephone call is because you are actually talking to the person - person to person.  Well that might be true but you are going to just text them anyway.  Seriously though, telephone is great and all, and I understand you point, but the letter just goes beyond.  You have to take the time to formulate your thoughts.  You have to actually go through the physical act of writing down what you want to say - making the ink flow through the pen or causing the layers of graphite to slip off and adhere to the paper - in order to get your point across.  It is so much more work and effort to get to the same place.  It's like the difference between ordering out and making a home cooked meal.  And I haven't even gotten started on the whole stamp and mailbox business.
     So, the long and short of it here, Company, is that I have been trying to write more letters, in order to give a more personal touch to my correspondence.  Plus, I like it.  So there.  I would encourage you to do the same, for a myriad of reasons.  First of all, it's going to help the Postal Service or the Royal Mail or whomever carries the mail in your part of the world.  Second, it will let people know that you are about them a little bit extra.  Third, people love to get mail that is not bills.  Hang out in the bushes near a local mailbox and watch as people look at their mail, and notice the instant brightening of their faces as they see mail from someone.  It's magical, and you know how much you like it when you get something in the mail. 

Saturday, April 10, 2010

J is for Jingwak

ust about as far northwest as you can get in the State of Michigan, like eleventy billion miles northwest of Detroit and a little less than eleventy billion miles from Lansing, actually lying across the border with northern Wisconsin, sits a tiny little swampy seepage lake called Jingwak Lake.  Jingwak Lake has always captured my imagination because it is small, it seems to be uninhabited, and the name always seemed so just silly to me.  Jingwak.  That sounds like one of those words that you would say if you meant to swear but you couldn't because there were little children about.  Jingwak.  It doesn't even sound like a Native American word, which is where a lot of geographic features and places (such as Michigan and Wisconsin) get their names in that part of the world.  It's not even like I would expect it to be spelled: Jingwak.  I would expect it to be spelled J-I-N-G-W-H-A-C-K.  That makes more sense to my English speaking mind, although English never has made sense so I don't know what that means.
     Anyway, when I found out through my many, many sources in this world that Lake Jingwak was a tepid little swamp lake I just couldn't make fun of it enough.  I say the name all the time.  Whenever something is either good or bad or just sort of messed up I say it's "jingwak" and now it just sort of rolls off the tougue.  Sometimes I just run up to Dr. J and whisper it into the air like I am Charles Foster Kane whispering "Rosebud."  Very dramatical as Miss VIP would say.  So it's there all the time in my life, and whenever I go around saying it in public people probably think that I need a helmet or something.  But then I found something out.
     Seems that "Jingwak" is a family name, which makes sense to me.  The family probably owned all the land surrounding or on one shore of the lake at one time and named at after themselves, because it's not really the sort of place that is significant enough to warrant a name just because of itself.  So I get and all is well.  Congratulation Jingwak Family, you have a geographical feature named after you, which is more than I can say for me because I don't think we are going to see a Big Dave and Company.com lake or river or slough anytime soon.
     The problem here, though, is that it seems that a member of the Jingwak family gave his life for service of our country, in some sort of conlict.  I believe it was one of the two World Wars, but I am not exactly sure.  I just hear that his name appears on a veteran's memorial somewhere.  You know, one of those places where they etch the names of the fallen community members in stone and put it on a nice statue or something.  So...well, that sort of throws my business into an uproar.  I am not so much into making fun of veterans, especially those who didn't come back from those distant lands, and so by extension I really wonder if I should be making fun of lakes that are named after them. 
     Jingwak as it turns out might be an Ojibwe word for a pine tree, so now maybe it DOES have a Native American name, and maybe that's where the family got its name from, and now I am totally mocking, albeit unintentionally and sort of by proxy, both veterans AND Native American culture.  So what I am I going to do?  How am I going to remedy this situation?  I suppose that I could just stop saying "Jingwak."  But it's not that easy, it has sort of become ingrained as a part of my vocabulary and it would be a lot like trying not to say "peanut butter" anymore.  I suppose that I could cross my fingers every time I say it but I am forgetful and you know, that probably would never happen with regularity.  I could just - in my heart and mind - not mean it as being something mocking.  It could just be a collection of syllables and letters that makes a certain sound.  It's all about the meaning I suppose.  Jingwak.

Friday, April 09, 2010

I is for Identification

went to vote on this past Tuesday, which is not necessarily exciting except that I got to go into one of those classic, quintessential, American voting booths like the one Chris Farley knocks over in Tommy Boy or that Peggy Hill riggs up in the garage on King of the Hill.  Now that was neat.
     It was so very rural America, the whole thing.  There was the booth - three booths actually - that you could tell was built by someone who either worked for the town or volunteered to do it for them, in a garage workshop somewhere.  But you could also tell that it was built by someone who knew what they were doing and cared a lot about quality and craftsmanship, because that thing was well put together and solid as a rock.  It had the curtain - you know, that curtain that every voting booth has but you have never seen anywhere else ever - that red, white, and blue American flag pattern curtain, except this particular one was pretty faded from years and years of use.
     Even the town hall was ancient: a former one-room schoolhouse that still had a blackboard on the wall, with big windows and wood floors that made a hard tapping sound when you walked around on them in hard shoes, although it was that sort of more comforting hard tapping, not the sharp kind like when you are walking around on marble floors or something.  The election workers were all ladies on the long side of 50, and they were all very nice.  It was totally quintessentially America.  Like, if you were making a video to send out to non-democratic countries to teach them about democracy, the scene where I went to vote is the one you would show, maybe in the background while some bullet points showed as the focus on the screen.
     The part you would not show, however, was the hours and hours those poor ladies sat there doing nothing.  I walked in at around 4:15 pm and I was the 49th person to vote.  There were, in July of 2009, 1139 registered voters in my government unit.  So when I came in to register and then vote I was one of the 4-ish percent who actually made the effort.  There are, however, only 1577 residents in total, which means that 72% of them are registered voters, and I think that is pretty good.  This election was a spring election, and every race on my ballot was uncontested, which I am sure accounted for the low turnout, but whatever.  Like I said, we just will skip past those parts when we make our democracy video.
     I did, however, have to register first, being new to the area I live.  The problem is that the bankrupt Department of Motor Vehicles where I live doesn't give you a new drivers license when you move like they used to unless you pony up $14, which is fucking stupid because we have those new super-licenses that the Homeland Security dipwads made us start using that are supposed to be able to get us anywhere. Yeah, that works real well to keep us safe when we don't even have our right addresses on them.  They don't even send you that annoying sticker for the back like they used to.  So when I went in to register I had to take a utility bill in to show that I lived in town.  That too, is stupid, because I am pretty sure that you don't have to have to live somewhere to have a utility hooked up for that property.  I could call up and have the power for a house in Parker, Arizona switched to my name if I really wanted to, and I have never even been there.  In the end they just need to see something that ties you to where you live, and I understand that voter fraud in a small, rural township probably isn't going to be perpetrated by one guy walking in and voting in an uncontested election, but still the whole thing seemed rather silly.  They ladies, though, were gracious and thorough and pleasant in their job, which is just about all that one can ask really.  Even if we are just identified by our bills in their eyes.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

H is for Hockey

awai'i lost approximately one-fifth of its population to measels during the 1850s. Half of the population of Honduras met the same fate from the same disease in 1531.  In 2009 and 2010 several hundred cases were reported around the world, despite the fact that 21 different strains have been identified and that vaccines have been available commercially since 1963.  However, no tragedy that has been caused by measles has been quite as dramatic and saddening as the cancellation of the 1989 New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association Men's Hockey Championship Game between St. Joseph Regional High School and Delbarton.
     Well, all is now well - sort of - in the annals of New Jersey high school hockey history, as members of both teams gathered recently to play the long-delayed game in an unofficial way with the proceeds going to charity.  But that wasn't how the idea began.
     The idea began as a way to have some closure, to finally settle "The Greatest Game Never Played."  In 1989, the two schools - situated several miles apart and long New Jersey hockey powerhouses, for whatever that's worth - were ranked Nos 1 and 2 in the state, and were looking forward to settling the issue on the ice, in the Championship Game.
    A measles outbreak at Delbarton put an end to that plan, however, and the question remianed unanswered.  While the two were declared co-champions, the issue still gnawed at players from both sides over the years.  As the idea to play the game - now being billed as the "Frozen Flashback" - began to grow until it turned into something truly special.
    Players, or former players, came from all corners of the United States to participate in the game.  Some of them hadn't played hockey in 15 years and had to buy all news pads, etc.  Former Delbarton coach Jim Brady agreed to coach in the game.  They had to shorten the second and third periods because most of the guys just weren't in shape to play a full game anymore.  But although they may not have been in shape, it came back like riding a bicycle, with the same intensity and rivalries in which the boys engaged in 1989.
    Here are all the details that you need: Delbarton won, around 2000 attended, and proceeds went to several charities, including but not limited to Hockey Fights Cancer and The Valerie Fund.  That's cool.  And, after the game, there was only one team photo taken, with all the guys proudly grouping together as one with some of their families even.  How cool is that?  That's the power of sports right there, Company.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

G is for Germany

ames have always been an intergral part of American life, and the list, as it generally reads, hasn't changes a whole lot over the years.  Monopoly, Yahtzee!, Scrabble, Chutes and Ladders, Clue, and Pictionary are titles that one would find in a closet in a post-World War II house in Levittown and that they will find in the closet at a Miami condo tomorrow.  Part of the reason that they continue to be relevant and enduring is that they have been the same for all that time.  The rules by which your grandparents played are pretty much similar to the rules by which your kids are playing today.  Small changes have happened for sure, and there have been themes and special editions numbering in the hundreds.  Maybe even the thousands.  There is, however, about to be a pretty major change in one of these iconic games that is going to rock a lot of people's worlds.
     So G is for Germany, and from the beginning of time incarnate until this coming June, it was not a word you could use in Scrabble, because it was a proper noun.  Same for Greg or Gumout or General Mills, which is impressive because you don't usually have enough letters in your tray to make that up, although I suppose you could build off the word "general" or something, although that is a proper noun when you are addressing someone.
     But I digress.  The point of this whole deal, Company, is that this is a major change in one of the most basic rules in Scrabble.  This would be the equivalent of baseball allowing you to catch the ball at home plate in a glove, then turn and throw it out into the field and start running the bases.  Huge.  Until now, you could not use proper names for the most part - only words contained on a Collins dictionary.  You know, the Scrabble dictionary.  Other than that, words were verboten, which probably also couldn't be used except in Germany, which is a word you can use now because proper nouns are going to be allowed.
     The reason for this change, as one could imagine, is ultimately money.  The folks at Mattel - when they weren't busy looking for Barbie jobs that she hasn't had yet ("Hey, let's make her a sanitation worker!  How about Truck Driver Barbie, have we used that one yet?  Guys love hot librarians, maybe we can make a hot librarian Barbie and boys will buy it!  She can look like Renee Russo from Major League!") - decided that a change in the rules would "introduce an element of popular culture into the game" and "enable younger fans and families to get involved."  Which means get people who probably weren't going to buy Scrabble to plunk down the money at their friendly big box retailer to buy it.  Whih means more money for Mattel.  Which means they can produce that Nepalese Sherpa Barbie they've been itching to put out.
     I will give some credit the folks at Mattel (United Nations Special Envoy to Tajikistan Barbie, YAY!) because they have taken pains to not alienate their core Scrabble audience.  The Scrabble purists as it were.  They will still offer versions of the game with the original, stodgy, less hip and socially relevant super cool new rules, for all those squares over in Squaretown who want to have to find a word to use the combination "L,L,T,Q,N,O" and still get a triple word score.  Sorry Scrabble purists, you can't use that "T" at the beginning of "take" to use former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott's last name, because you don't believe in proper nouns, and that's about as proper as they come.
     Personally, I like this new rule change, but I also think it's kind of stupid.  I like the rule change because it makes the game more open and accessible and certainly easier, and let's be honest, we are rapidly becoming a stupid, borderline illiterate society that can only deal in pop culture references, so it will keep Scrabble relevent and popular for years to come.  The reason that I think its stupid is because, well, you didn't really need a rule change to start using proper nouns.  Last time I checked, there wasn't a Scrabble referee in every home who hovers over the board and enforces rules with an iron fist.  You don't go to Scrabble jail if you put "Zoe" on the board to use up your "Z" tile.  Seems to me that since the beginning of time, I could go down to the friendly local Goodwill (which you could always use in Scrabble by the way because it can be used as an improper noun) and pick up a used Scrabble set, and as long as the people I am playing with are willing to allow proper nouns, then "BOOM!" - proper nouns it is.  You don't need the Scrabble folks to tell you it's okay.  They aren't Big Brother watching you through a little camera and recording your every move. 
     But anyway, smart move Mattel (Insurance Claims Adjuster Barbie!) Scrabble Division, or whomever decided upon this.  It's a smart move that shows you are ready to accept changes in the world around you and that you don't take yourself too seriously, even if it was an idea hatched in a marketing meeting where you discussed sagging sales.  It doesn't matter.  It's good.  G is for Germany.  Put that in your Scrabble dictionary.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

F is for Fear

or some reason there is an irrational fear that seems to sweep through all of us, and I don't know why.  We all have fear in our lives, and in many instances we are able to turn that fear into positive things - like when we go on a roller coaster or when it caused our ancestors to flee the sabertooth tiger so that they didn't get eaten alive.  But now, fear tends to be more paralyzing, like when you are afraid of rejection so you won't ask Jessica Carmichael out to the dance or fear of heights that makes to freeze when you realize that the skywalk is like six stories above the ground.
     The fear that I am talking about today, however, is one that I have observed time and time again in my line of work, and on in which I have even found myself engaging in too - to my horror.  This is the irrational fear of voice mail that people seem to have.
     Yeah, it's out there.  I work in a business in which I have to answer the phone a lot, and everyone in my office has a voice mail that they check regularly.  In fact, there are large, annoying lights on each and every phone that glow when there is a message for you.  Yet, for some reason, when people call the office and the person they are calling for (the "callee" in legaleze) is not available, people are always so hesitent to leave a message.  They don't even like to leave an old-tymey message where you take a pen and write it down on a little pad.  But it's mostly voice mail that they are afraid of.
     And I am not sure why.  Even to say something as simple as "Hey, call me back" is apprently too much for most people to understand, which is sad because it is really effective.  I understand that sometimes you don't want to have to explain your life story to a machine, but that's fine.  However, you don't have to say that much.  The thing that people don't realize is that you don't need to give all the details in a voice mail message: Only the basics are really needed.  " I am calling regarding the Mexler account, please call me back at 333-4321" or whatever.
    I understand that sometimes, people don't want to leave a message because maybe they are not in a position to receive a return call.  Okay, that's fine.  Maybe just say "I am calling regarding the Mexler account.  I can't receive calls today but I will try you again tomorrow."  Or there is another alternative.  Tell me that.  Let me know.  "Oh, I will try back again later because I can't take phone calls right now."  Because, if you are going to call back again later, 1.) you obviously don't have the person's number so I am going to have to deal with you again and 2.) the odds are the person probably won't be around when you call back since you have no idea where they are, what they are doing, or how long they are going to be.  And there is nothing I love more than getting sixteen phone calls from someone who won't leave a message.
     I don't know what drives this irrational fear that we have of the voice mail, and normally I would sort of take wild stabs in the dark at it, but I can say for certain that I don't know.  I don't know because I have experienced this phenomenon before and I can't put my finger on it.  There is just something about it where I have been terrified of leaving a message.  I am getting good about leaving messages when calling for work related purposes, but I am terrible about it at home.  Like when I am calling my family, friends or loved ones, which is extra stupid because they are my family, friends, and loved ones.  So what's with that?  I don't know.  I have thought about it but I have never been able to put my finger on it, so I am just going to accept it and move on.
     There are, however, some things that we can do to conquer this fear.  "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."  Notice how Franklin Roosevelt never mentioned voice mail in that famous quote, and that is because there is really nothing to be afraid or apprehensive of.  And we can conquer this fear, we just need to each do our little part.  So that's what I am going to do: my part.  I am going to make a conscious effort to defeat my fear and leave voice mail messages.  I am going to not be afraid and embrace the technology that is afforded us.  If each and every one of you does the same, we will perservere.  And we can all leave messages for one another to that effect.

Monday, April 05, 2010

E is for Ernest Lawrence Thayer

is for Ernest Lawrence Thayer, who wrote and published the poem "Casey at the Bat," which was popularized by DeWolf Hopper back during the vaudeville days.  Anyway, since it is Opening Day, sort of (the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox opened the season officially last night but we don't count that because, really, MLB was just pandering to a rivalry that only people in one little corner of the nation and one giant building in Bristol, CT care about), we are going to continue what we hope will become a tradition here at Big Dave and Company by publishing the quintessential baseball poem.  Play ball!




Casey at the Bat
by Ernest Lawrence Thayer

It looked extremely rocky for the Mudville nine that day;
The score stood two to four with but an inning left to play.
And when Cooney died at second, and Burrows did the same,
A pallor wreathed the features of the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go, leaving there the rest,
With that hope that springs eternal within the human breast;
For they thought if only Casey could get a whack at that-
They'd put even money now, with Casey at the bat.

But Flynn preceded Casey, and likewise so did Blake,
And the former was a puddin' and the later was a fake.
So on the stricken multitude a deathlike silence sat,
For there seemed little chance of Casey's getting to the bat.

But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all.
And the much despised Blakey tore the cover off the ball;
And when the dust had lifted and they saw what had occurred,
There was Blakey safe at second, and Flynn a-huggin' third.

Then from the gladdened multitude went up a joyous yell;
It rumbled through the mountaintops, it rattled in the dell;
It struck upon the hillside and rebounded on the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Casey's manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey's bearing and a smile on Casey's face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat;
No stranger in the crowd could doubt 'twas Casey at the bat.

Ten thousand eyes were on his as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
Then when the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance gleamed in Casey's eye, a sneer curled Casey's lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped,
"That ain't my style!" said Casey. "Strike one!" the umpire said.

From the benches black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore.
"Kill him! Kill the umpire!" shouted someone in the stand;
And it's likely they'd have killed him had not Casey raised his hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey's visage shown;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew.
But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said "Strike two!"

"Fraud!" cried the maddened thousands, and the echo answered "Fraud!"
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn't let the ball go by again.

The sneer is gone from Casey's lip, his teeth are clenched in hate;
He pounds with cruel vengence his bat upon the plate.
And not the pitcher holds the ball, and not he let's it go.
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey's blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light.
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville - mighty Casey has struck out.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

D is for Dinner

enziens of food and gluttony in the United States almost always look to Thanksgiving, and to a lesser extent as the big ticket holidays when it comes to meals and eating.  Those who specialize in the cookout might look towards one of the three big "Days" in the summer - Memorial Day, Independence Day, or Labor Day.  And that is fine.  But one of the holidays that is always a sleeper when it comes to food and a big dinner is Easter, and I don't know if you've noticed but Easter is upon us.
     I know that a lot of people tend to equate Easter with pretty dresses, pastel colored eggs, and candy, but dinner is really the centerpiece of the Easter celebration.  Or at least the centerpiece of the secular holiday.  Anchored usually by the ham, Easter is a time for eating ON PAR with Thanksgiving, and this is coming from an Unpaid Intern whose favorite holiday falls on the last Thursday in November.  But Easter is sort of a dark house, and you engage in many of the same activities.  You get together with family, you stuff your face on comfort food: ham, cheesy potatoes, vegetables, some other sort of casserole, etc.  Then, you fall asleep on the couch before loosening your belt and shoehorning yourself into the car for the sleepy ride home.
     So why doesn't Easter get its props?  Why is it so generally forgotten?  I have come to believe that the lack of a bona fide sports tradition is part of it.  Thanksgiving has football in Detroit and Dallas and wherever the NFL Network has hijacked the tradition for this year.  Spring has almost baseball but usually not quite, but it just doesn't have that anchor.  Plus, Easter falls on a Sunday, so it always has to be the getaway day and dinner is always pushed earlier in the day.
     I truly believe, however, that it has a lot more to do with what we talked about a couple of days ago, when we made "A" stand for April.  Spring is always around at Eastertime, and usually that is springing eternal in everyone's mind, and all the great summer tomfoolery tends to overshadow Easter.  Well, that is sad because Easter is really a great holiday, somewhat eclipsed by its timing, but it puts a great spectacle on for itself, if you are only willing to stop and look at it.  So Happy Easter everyone, from Big Dave and Company.  We hope that you sincerely enjoy the holiday and treat it with the respect it deserves.  And then we can look forward to summer.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

C is for Census

     I don't know if you know this, Company, but I applied to work for the Census.  The 2010 Census.  All I wanted was to help count the 300 million or so people who live in the United States...and $12.50/hr and $.50/mile for travel.  Pretty sweet I thought.  But it was not to be.
     I was accosted by a guy at the friendly local grocery store, who was handing out flyers.  I had seen the ads and whatnot asking for people to come and work for the census, for months and months and months.  So I was already thinking about it.  The grocery store guy, however, was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.  So I went down and took the test.  I don't want to disparage anyone who took the Census test and didn't do so great, but that was the easiest test that I have ever taken.  I believe it was 28 questions, and one was given 30 minutes to complete it.  The hardest part for me was not driving everyone crazy with the 13 minutes I had to sit around and wait until the time was up.  "Put your head down on the desk, put your big head down on the desk." That's what Lewis Black said once, and it's what I should have done with myself instead of doing whatever I did.
     So I think that I did alright on the test.  Sister got a 27, so I am assuming that I did somewhere in the vicinity.  I should have gone and put through the extra effort and taken the supervisor's test, but I didn't because it didn't really jive with my schedule.  So I waited and I waited.  Then, I got a letter asking for more information, which I provided, and then I waited and waited.  Then, it happened.  A census enumerator came to my door.  It was not me, because that would have been strange.
    I can hear the wheels turning for a few of you, but for those of you who haven't got it figured out yet, that means I didn't get hired for the Census.  Yeah, that's right, and I am a little miffed at it.  See, not that I wanted it so badly but I thought it would have been neat.  I mean, the money would have been nice, don't get me wrong, but that wasn't my main focus in applying.  I just sort of thought it was neat.
     I couldn't get hired by an organization that was desperate for workers.  That's pretty bad, man.  I was a little bit despondent, but then I talked to A-Town.  He works, in his job, with the up and ups in the Census brueaucracy, and he doesn't necessarily have the highest opinion of their aptatude.  So he but it best when, in response to my complaining on getting hired he said "That's like not getting invited to a nut-punching party, so don't worry about it."  That was the funniest thing I have heard since the start of 2010.  So congratulations A-Town, not only do you have the best one-liner of the decade, I wrote a whole post dedicated to just using that quote, AND it was part of our April special promotion.  So feel good.  And Census?  Feel bad.  Shame on you, you could have used me.

Friday, April 02, 2010

B is for Basketball

is for basketall, and boy is this a good time to be talking about it. coming up this weekend is the holy grail of basketball. Screw the NBA and their 64-month-long playoff system that noody but ABC and NBC and TNT really likes. Oh, and Nike. They like it to. But if you REALLY want to see what basketball is all about this is the weekend. It's time for the Final Four, in all three levels.
     Well, sort of. Divisions II and III have already been finished up, and those are basketball at its purest. They are basically free from the influence of the major corporatons, and the kids aren't superstars and haven't been treated as such since they were in eighth grade. But still, when the big boys cast off with their Final Four on Friday, it is a sight to behold. A spectacle of epic proportions. There is joy and sadness and shorts that come all the way down to your knees.  It's wonderful and fun and it keeps you are the edge of your feet.
     The passion of these young men, and the pressure under which they operate, is enormous.  While most of these kids are used to being on the big stage, this is an enormous stage.  First of all, the crowds are huge.  The have this nasty habit of playing these games in large football stadiums, whic doesn't make sense.  Although, I suppose that they play indoor football in basketball arenas.  So anyway, it's a huge stage and everyone watchs, and anything can happen.  That's the magic.  That's the greatness.  And it's all about basketball in its purest form.  And come Monday, we will all know who comes out on top of the scrap heap. 

Thursday, April 01, 2010

A is for April

 is for April.  That is the obvious starting point for our April Alphabetic Post Promotion.  Say that five times fast.  Anyway, it's easy, it fits, and it allows me to still do an April Fool's Day joke on you, but I am not.  Because I don't want to.  Also, which also starts with A, it's way better than "A is for Asparagus" which is the first thought to pop into my head, and which I already had the first paragraph written when I realized that it was a dumb idea, no matter how trendy of a vegetable it is right now.
     So April it is, a month, and a pretty name for a girl.  April showers bring May flowers.  There is something about April that just brings Spring to mind.  I don't know about you, but when I think of the seasons in my mind, winter is always December, January, and February; while spring is March, April, and May.  Meteorologists and astronomers will probably not agree with me.  But that's how I think of it.  The problem with that, at least where I live, is that March doesn't always conform, and ends up being more of a spring month in winter's clothing.  It's cold and dreary and might hit 50 if you are lucky, but will still involve me shoveling somewhere along the way.  April, though, is when the magic happens in terms of spring, when spring proper arrives.  The air gets that sort of different feeling to it, and the whole outside begins to smell like growth and rebirth.  It's like Mother Nature just put on a green dress and sprayed herself with a little perfume.  April is when spring kicks itself into gear and everything wakes up.  Hope may spring eternal, but April is when it sticks out it's little head.
     So I am gushing over April.  Just settle and let it happen, I am almost done.  A lot of other things happen at this time of year that are neat.  Tax Day, in America, falls on April 15th every year, a day on which the Post Office becomes infinitely more relevent than normal, and when people line up in lines that stretch around the block in order to tell the Federal Government just how much they actually made, and how much they should get back.  It's always a sight to see: people desperately trying to get their letter postmarked before midnight so they don't turn into a pumpkin.  It looks like one of those lines you see of people waiting to buy concert tickets, where they camp out and all that bullshit.  Here is my question though: how many of those people do you think actually get their stuff postmarked on time?  I don't know if you've noticed this, Company, but in the last, oh...ten years or so, the United States Postal Service (USPS) has taken to sorting and postmarking their mail at central processing facilities, so like when I send a letter from here, it is trucked to a building in a town 90-ish miles away to be sorted, checked, and that's where the postmark is applied.  For instance, if you mail a letter from Marquette, Michigan it will arrive with a postmark that says "Kingsford, Michigan."  So the question comes up that, if you wait patiently in line on April 15th to put your tax return in the mail, and you drop it in the slot at like 11:45 pm, then how it is going to get to the central processing facility in time to be postmarked April 15?  My guess is that on that particular day, they postmark the envelopes at the counter, but still, it makes a guy wonder.  April 15, 2010, by the way, falls on a Thursday.
     Easter Sunday in the Christian religion often falls in April, so this is the time of year when we take all the patient teaching of elementary school teachers around the world and turn it on its head by telling kids that rabbits are somehow associated with eggs.  Which, by the way, they are not.  Rabbits don't lay eggs, and I am about 647% sure that they do not eat them either.  I mean, I suppose that at some time there is an egg like during the insemination process, but I just don't know.  And then, when Cadbury comes along and puts a white bunny in a comercial who is clucking like a chicken and surrounded by chocolate eggs, well, that makes me wonder how the United Kingdom can be beating the United States on its education scores.  And it leaves scored of confused children around the world. 
     Opening Day for Major League Baseball is always in April, because you can't play a ridiculously long 162-game schedule without starting that early.  The baseball season takes up basically every non-winter day of the year, from the beginning of April until mid-October.  That's a lot.  Even those guys who play three and five and seven-day long cricket test matches go "Damn, that's a long-ass season."  But it's okay, because baseball is a wonderful thing to have on in the background while you are doing just about anything else, and it suits itself well to radio, so you can listen in the car or while you are having a picnic or whatever.  You can even be one of those people who sits in the stands at the baseball game and listens to it on their Walkman.  Seems to me to defeat the purpose, but what do I know?
     So that is April, in a nutshell.  It is here and life is good and it starts with the letter "A."  I hope you all have a wonderful month!

The April Alphabetic Post Event

     Today is the first of April, and in a normal year this would mean that I would whip up some post that prattled on about April Fool's Day, or maybe if I had eaten my Wheaties I would try to whip up something that would be like a funny joke.  Not funny ha-ha but like April Fool's Day funny.  This, however, is not a normal year.  So this year I am going to take the extraordinary step of introducing an ambitious special event that is going to last all of April.  Well, most of April.  It is going to be a twenty-six day long special event, keyed to the alphabet, in which each day we will discuss something that begins with that letter.  So, for example, since the special promotion will begin today, today we will discuss something that begins with the letter "A."  Sounds pretty simple, doesn't it?  Well enjoy!