Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Today was unemploymently amazing.

First I set up a meeting with some dude who undoubtedly reached me by doing a search on LinkedIn for anyone who had "consultant" in their profile, and then spamming them all. I'm pretty sure he's trying to enlist me to sell his services to all my "clients". Given that I hadn't responded to any spammers all week, I was due. Can't wait to chat with the guy! I am accepting all meetings!

Next I headed down to the Four Seasons to meet with a billionaire venture capitalist. Seemed like the logical thing to do after responding to spam. He laid out his 30-year plan to fix capitalism while I interjected with my folksy charm and self-deprecating humor. I used all my standard interview chuckle-getters. They thudded chucklessly. However, when I told him about my personal project to write the world's best baseball betting program, his eyes lit up. I think I passed that round of interviews.

I literally had to pause when leaving the Four Seasons so that I didn't unintentionally skip with delight.

The day was rounded out by a company founder reaching out to me, saying that they saw my profile online and the part about wanting to work in a warm and collaborative environment really resonated with him. We're chatting later this week.

I need to keep all these warm-fuzzies in mind tomorrow when I'm sitting in a 7-hour interview, talking to 16 separate engineers and managers.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

I had two mega interviews this week, one with BoringCo, and one with EvilCo.

The five hours BoringCo interview was fine. One might even describe it as boring. The only surprising part was at lunch when the recruiter handed me a boxed lunch and then shut me inside a small conference room by myself to eat it.

"Don't worry that we're running late," he reassured me, "I delayed your next interview for five minutes! He smiled and then left, shutting the door behind him.

Ok, one strike against the friendly culture at BoringCo! Overall, though, the interview went well. I might actually be hitting my stride at interviewing for management jobs.

Earlier in the week I interviewed at EvilCo. That one was a tougher interview, including multiple technical sessions, and lasting a full seven hours. The best part of that one was today, days later, when the recruiter called to debrief me on the results. He explained that, overall, the team liked me. Although they thought that a different position in the company might be a more appropriate fit, everyone agreed that I had good ethics!

What exactly does it mean when EvilCo says that you have good ethics? I honestly do not know whether or not to take this as a complement. #teamSatan

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Although I'm dreading the formal interviews I have coming up next week (6 hours EvilCo interview and a 5 hour MarketingBlahblahAnalyticsCo interview) in general the process of looking for jobs has been delightful. I did not expect that to be true.

Mostly what I'm doing is talking to people. I'm talking to everyone who is willing to talk to me about their jobs or projects, and everyone who has requested some of my time.

Friend of a friend who works on his startup during nights and weekends? Sure, let's see if there's a way to work together!

Old friend from high school who popped up on Facebook asking for time to discuss the politics app he wants built? Yes, let's talk through it for an hour!

Random dude on a website for startups who spammed everyone that had "CTO" in their job history? Not only will I meet with you, but I'll give you an afternoon and hack on some code with you!

I am taking all meetings. If you're a Nigerian prince with some fund transfer issues, this is probably the time to reach out to me.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Holy cow, I am not good at interviewing. Literally every single interview or phone screen I've had so far has had some sort of awkward Mike Moment (tm).

Did actually I tell marketing company X that their website was, "dense with buzzwords"? When they gave me a polite out by saying, "Oh, really? Well, yes, it used to be confusing, but have you seen it recently?", did I really confirm my idiocy by saying, "Uh, yeah, yesterday"?

When the Engineering Director at Evil Corp described a poorly managed product with an anecdote that included this line, "...So then they re-evaluated the schedule and said they could deliver it by New Years......... Chinese New Years..." did I actually stop him in mid-lecture and ask if that story always included that pause and punchline?

Did I actually tell the CEO from last week that if they hired me, I was going to be their laziest employee?

I did, I did, I did!

Of course once in a while, I nailed the interview. When a recruiter was interviewing me to manage a data science organization, he repeatedly asked me if I was "passionate" about machine learning. I fought every snarky instinct that ultimately defines me, and actually managed to puke out the sentence, "Yes, I am passionate about machine learning."

And one recruiter, after reviewing my resume and apparently seeing that my last job was, uh, brief, referred to my time doing "antics with startups". I laughed out loud on the call, repeating the word "antics" to myself.  The recruiter was aghast and instantly apologized for referring to my experience so flippantly. I assured him that it was ok, that normally it was me saying offensive things in these calls.

So, yeah, the job hunting is going well.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

I've been unemployed for 8 (glorious) weeks now. Although I've earned a few bucks from some part-time consulting, it's time to start looking for a big boy job. Me big boy!

I really really hate interviewing. I feel like one of my strengths as a human being is describing in painstaking detail all the things that I'm terrible at. Interviewing, as I've learned in the past, is apparently the opposite of this.

Also, during an interview, you're supposed to express puppy-like enthusiasm for whatever crappy corner of the business world the company is trying to "disrupt", as opposed to the cat-like disdain I actually feel. Conversations with hiring managers are supposed to go like this:

Hiring Manager: Why do you want to work for CyberMetricMarketers?
Me: I'm really passionate about this space! Obviously the total addressable market for marketing metrics is exploding and I'm literally pissing my pants with excitement about cyberizing it.

(or something like that)

Instead, the conversations go like this:

Hiring Manager:
 Why do you want to work for CyberMetricMarketers?
Me: Rumor has it that you pay people. I'd like to exchange my time and effort for your dollars. I think I can fake my way through this job.

I had a couple informal chats with the CEO and an engineer of a company in the "people analytics" space. When I was alone with the engineer, he said, "I know this isn't the most interesting business to be in."  I agreed but assured him that I had worked at way more boring companies. Sadly, that is true.

The one thing I think I am going to be honest about though, is the number of hours I'm willing to work in a typical week. The CEO I chatted with said they had great work-life balance at their company, not like those crazy 80-hour week startups, but rather a balanced 60-hour week! He seemed proud.

If I pursue that job, I'm going to explain that I will be the laziest employee in the office. We'll see how that goes over.

Really what I should do is send Hank on these interviews instead.


Monday, March 27, 2017

After dinner last night we all grabbed some dessert and retreated to our screens/chores. The part of the day where we interact with humans had seemingly come to an end. I had my chocolate, Daisy had a couple of chocolate chip cookies, and Hank had whatever sugar-free and dairy-free monstrosity passes for dessert in her head. I think she had air juice (Note: did not contain actual air).

A few minutes later Daisy returned back to the kitchen and calmly announced, "Apparently these cookies have pecans in them."

Oh, shit.

Although Daisy grew out of several of her food allergies a few years back, nuts and sesame seeds still give her a strong reaction. We keep the house stocked with Epi Pens, but we've never had to use one. Any time Daisy accidentally consumed nuts, we've managed to get away with just stuffing her full of Benadryl.

So, we gave her a Benadryl, but her throat was still feeling affected, so we crushed up another Benadryl and had her swirl that around in her mouth and throat. That seemed to do the trick, so we re-retreated to our screens/chores.

An hour later Daisy came back and said that she was feeling worse and was having some difficulty breathing.

We're big fans of breathing in this house. I do it, like, almost every day, so we decided further action was needed. There's an emergency room 5 minutes away from our house, and Daisy was still successfully moving oxygen from the atmosphere into her red blood cells for the time being, so we piled into the car for a Saturday night trip to the hospital.

Long story medium-short, she lived! The docs in the emergency room promptly gave her an IV full of Benadryl and steroids, which simultaneously made her drowsy and jittery, and then monitored her for the next couple hours. All of which means that I sat in a San Francisco emergency room waiting room for several hours on a Saturday night.

If you can only spend one night in an emergency room waiting room in San Francisco, I'd argue that Saturday night is your best entertainment value. Such a good cast of characters!

There was the loud-banging-and-moaning guy in the next room, the weary seen-it-all-before security guard, and the wait-until-my-mother-gets-here disgusted wife of the drunk guy. It's hard to pick who entertained me the most!

Actually, it's not hard at all! It was the security guard! He barreled into the room about thirty minutes into my detention and threw open the door to the restroom.

"Man! You gotta get outta there!" he hollered to someone who had apparently been holed up in the restroom for a loooong time. Bathroom dude shambled out of the bathroom and collapsed into a seat. Thus began the next 2 hours of the cat-and-mouse game played by the dude who had no intention of leaving, and the hospital security guy whose job it was to gently move people to somewhere more healthy for them.

The most entertaining part was that every once in a while someone would go into that bathroom and would immediately bounce back out, repelled by something mysteriously horrific in there, demanding that the hospital staff find them another restroom.

I sat in my chair the entire time, wondering if I dared look into that room. Would it give me nightmares? Would I puke? What WAS in there?

Hank texted me just before midnight saying that Daisy had been discharged. It was now or never!

I cautiously made my way across the waiting room, gingerly opened the bathroom door and found.... a pile of yellow fuzzy stuff! It was not even recognizable as human. It literally looked like couch stuffing but apparently was something obviously vile to everyone else.

I didn't take a picture, but it looked like a yellow version of this (sans sweater or razor):

Any ideas?

Saturday, March 18, 2017

When I transitioned to becoming a manager from being a do-something-actually-useful-er, one of the minuses was that many of the people I had been eating lunch with and hanging out with, now reported to me. I was the boss. That made happy hours a little less happy for all of us.

So, when a new manager, Andrew, transferred to our office, I decided he would be my new friend.

Making a new friend as a male in your forties is not an easy to thing to do, especially when most of your social skills involve typing, but I threw all my charm at the problem, meaning that I mocked Andrew mercilessly and got him drunk regularly. That pretty much did the trick. I was very proud of my new friendship.

One of the things I learned about Andrew early on was that he was working on a collection. He was trying to construct a complete deck of playing cards entirely out of cards he'd find on the ground. This sounded absurd to me. Think about the last time you can across a playing card sitting on the ground somewhere. Was it perhaps never? Sounds about right. Now imagine finding 52 different ones to make a complete deck. Heck, I'll even give you a head start. Imagine you have 51 of them and all you need is the exact right card to complete your deck? How long will that take you? Perhaps forever? Sounds about right.

I couldn't get this out of my head. I imagined he'd probably got so excited each time he stumbled across a card somewhere. I realized it was probably crushing to occasionally realize that he already had that particular card.

This is about when the light bulb went off in my head. 

What if I manipulated this? What if I discreetly left cards for him to find out in the world, but it was always the exact same card, over and over and over. This would drive him nuts! I love friendship!

I scoured our house the next day, digging through all the game drawers, and finding about a dozen old decks of cards: regular decks, Winnie the Pooh decks, corporate-branded decks, etc. I pulled the Two of Clubs out from each deck and tossed the other 51 cards. I smiled fiendishly at my dozen cards and made sure to always have one in my back pocket.

From then on, every couple weeks, I'd drop a Two of Clubs somewhere I thought he might find it. I dropped them in bars and restaurants we'd attend. I'd leave them occasionally laying around the office, and a few in the neighborhood. I tried to be somewhere else by the time he found them.

Soon, I was buying packs of dozens of decks of used cards from mixed casinos. I'd distress each Two of Clubs in a different way to give it some charm and history, using a combination of folds, markers, rips, and fire. I carried them with me constantly and left them in any place I knew he'd show up soon, including hotel lobbies, Ubers, baseball games, our local haunts, and sometimes right in his jacket pocket. I enlisted my friend, Leonarda, to leave cards in places where I'd never be so that they didn't all have me in common.

I did this for four years. In those four years, I saw him pick up one or two of those cards, but by and large I made myself scarce shortly after dropping the cards. I really had no idea if he was finding any of those cards, or maybe even worse, had already figured out what I was doing.

So when I gave notice at my job, I realized I needed to wrap it up soon. That day I invited him to meet me at our local bar, and on my way there ahead of him, as I had done many times before, I placed a couple of Two of Clubs. One of them I left sticking absurdly ramrod-straight out of the top of an eye-level shrub.

Andrew strolled into the bar about 15 minutes later. He held one of the cards in his hands.

Me: Hey there. What's with the card?
Andrew: I found it on the way over here.
Me: Oh, that's right! You've got that card collection thing!
Andrew: Yeah, and what's weird is that I've found quite a few cards outside this place, and they're always the same card, the two of clubs
Me: What? That's weird. How can that be?
Andrew: I think I figured it out. I think the parking valets from the restaurant are using them for their parking system.
Me: Ohhh, that totally makes sense.

Of course this did not make sense. If you're a parking valet and are trying to keep track of different cars? Would you use identical cards to do so? Answer: you would not.

More importantly, Andrew HAD been finding my cards! And he had no clue that it was me. This was a glorious day. Now I just needed to find a way to bring this to an appropriate close.

The next day I called our mutual friend, Rand, who had been friends with Andrew for over a decade. I needed his help planning the grand finale.

Me: Are you familiar with Andrew's ridiculous card collection?
Rand: Of course!
Me: Ok, I need your help. Here's the scoop. For four years now...

And I laid it all out.

Rand and I batted a few ideas around. We decided an appropriate ending would be to gather our friends, and then utilize Rand's impressive card trick skills. I would buy 50 identical decks and would construct a deck completely of two of clubs. Rand's trick would end with me revealing the deck, showing how I had been surrounding him with twos of clubs.

A week later we made plans to grab a drink after work at our usual bar. Rand, Leonarda, and I were prepared. No one else knew a thing.

After we all had a cocktail in front of us, Rand kicked things off by asking if anyone wanted to see his newest card trick. He pulled out a normal deck, fanned it out for Andrew to see, and then performed some trick that was pretty good. Then, unbeknownst to Andrew, he swapped the deck for our deck consisting of all Two of Clubs, and asked Andrew to pick a card, any card.

Andrew of course chose the Two of Clubs, and chuckled to himself. He placed the card back in the middle of the fake deck, and Rand then magically "found" his two of clubs. Andrew was impressed.

Leonarda followed this up by offering to do a trick of her own, starting with asking Andrew to select a card. He picked, surprise surprise, the Two of Clubs. Leonarda then performed a byzantine set of cuts and swaps while furiously trying to throw cards under the table to Rand. The trick ended with Rand pulling the Two of Clubs out of his shirt pocket. Andrew was impressed again.

I then said I had one more trick and asked Andrew, one more time, to choose a card from the deck. Bafflingly (at least to him and half the people at the table), he chose the Two of Clubs again. There was no sign of recognition in his eyes. I did some lame trick and ended by displaying that I had found his Two of Clubs. And another Two of Clubs, and another. And the whole deck was Two of Clubs.

Andrew stared at me ununderstandly. He knew something was going on, but had no idea what it was.

"Andrew," I said, "For four years now..."

And I laid it all out. Four years of cards in bars, conference rooms, and baseball games, across multiple cities. Four years of Two of Clubs.

His eyes bugged out. 

Andrew: Wait, that card in the hotel lobby in Portland...?
Me: That was me.
Andrew: The card in the Uber?
Me: That was me too. 
Andrew: Did you leave the one in the alley on the way over here? I picked it up and then threw it back down in disgust when I saw it was the two of clubs.
Me: Of course that was me. They were all me, Andrew.

Andrew literally curled up into the fetal position in the booth. He was stunned. He was stunned that even after finding dozens of improbable two of clubs, he had made ridiculous theories to explain them away. Occam was nowhere to be found.

We all toasted and celebrated the long con. It remains one of my favorite times.

I got an email from Andrew the next day. He explained that when you're a kid, sometimes there are events that surprise you so much, they open your eyes and rewrite your understanding of the world, like when you find out about the tooth fairy. He said those things never happen as an adult, but that I had brought back that childlike wonder to him for an evening.

I like that a lot. Sure sounds a lot more lofty than what I thought I was doing.

I hope he completes that deck. It really is an amazing collection.




Friday, March 17, 2017

I grabbed the leftover chili out of the fridge and slid it into the microwave. I set it for 90 seconds and let 'er rip. The microwave made the god-awful noise it always makes, indicating that it's busy exciting water molecules, for about 10 seconds, and then went ominously silent. That's like my 3rd least favorite kind of silent after "deathly" and "everyone-is-expecting-me-to-say-something-smart-now-ly".

Lo, our microwave had died.

With me being the unemployed member of the household, it was my to-do item to get that bad boy replaced. I'm the go-to guy for all appliance-buying, chauffering, appointments, and chores, basically anything that doesn't require skill, knowledge, strength, or savoir faire.

I wasn't actually sure that I wanted to replace the microwave. It seems like the sort of out-dated device that we should have grown out of by the teens of the 21st century. Having a microwave feels like having a laserdisc player or compact fluorescent lightbulbs. Even the name is terrible. I'm sure it was futuristic sounding when they invented it, but now the microwave sounds as modern as stereophonic headphones. Plus, they're goddamn loud! Still a pretty fast way to re-heat chili though.

So, off to Best Buy I went, to acquire a new mic-ro-wave. Knowing that our kitchen counter space is a precious commodity, I carefully measured the old microwave to ensure that I got one that was no bigger. There weren't many models at Best Buy that were the right size, so I grabbed the most powerful one out of those few and brought it home. I don't have a lot of complex requirements for a microwave, so I knew this would be fine.

And I was completely wrong.

Somehow, in spite of being the most powerful microwave of its size, this new one was 200 watts less powerful than our old one. How did microwave technology evolve to get less powerful?

Also, there was no way to microwave something for less than 30 seconds. If you hit '20' on the keypad and then 'Start', it would launch into an ear-rattling 20 minutes of chili pulverizing.

Finally, despite being the same size on the outside as our old microwave, it was substantially smaller on the inside! What? Is this an optical illusion? Did I buy this at the Santa Cruz Mystery Spot? Was it made by Escher? Was it a blivetwave? Baffling!

This microwave was crappier than my old microwave in literally all 4 dimensions, including the time I'd have to wait for something to get unevenly warmed.

I sat back and marveled at how things really do just get worse over time. This is what the old people have been complaining about for generations, and they're right. The old microwaves were better!

Hank took all this in. I believe she used it exactly once before going to Amazon, searching for microwaves, clicking a few search options, and finding the annoyingly perfect model. It arrived 48 hours later.

I'm still go-to guy for chores though!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

First, sorry.

Second, hi!

Third, ok, let me catch you up.

You (by which I now only mean 'me') may have noticed that I've been a very bad blogger for nearly six years. I've decided to restart, but here's a quick recap on what you've (I've) missed:

When last I left my anti-hero, he was wrestling with transitioning from being a computer programmer to being a manager. I've basically been doing that ever since. I went from managing one team, to two, to various teams and other managers. My most recent gig was being the Chief Technical Officer for a small startup. All that was the primary reason I stopped blogging. Almost all of my good blogging material consisted of either making fun of people who reported to me, or ridiculing my nonexistent managerial skills. Blogging about the former seemed more mean than funny, and blogging about the latter seemed career limiting if my blog ever got found. So, that (plus a stupidly long commute, plus laziness) put a big ol' pause on blogging.

Otherwise, life is pretty much unchanged. I'm still living in San Francisco with Hank and Daisy. Daisy is a senior in high school with college looming and Hank is still awesomely Hankish. I still run, and play Scrabble, and delight in arguing over inconsequential preferences.

Oh, and I quit my job just over a month ago. So, look who has time for blogging now! (Spoiler: me)

So, again, sorry and hi. It's nice to be back. I really missed having this be part of my life and I look forward to rebuilding this muscle.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Today at work the Human Resources department hosted a two-hour meeting to teach us all about sexual harassment (more of a "Don't" than a "How To").

I sat down in an empty chair next to our corporate lawyer, Thomas, and asked for a favor.

"Thomas!" I whispered, "I have ONE GOAL for this session and that's to keep my mouth shut the whole time.  Don't let me say ANYTHING.  If you see me even begin to look like I'm thinking about uttering syllables, just elbow me, ok?"

Thomas laughed nervously.  He doesn't really get me.

"Seriously, Thomas, you don't know how tough it's going to be for me not to make smartass comments during this!"

Just then another coworker, David, sat down.

"Oooh! I want to sit by Mike during this.  Should liven things up!" he said gleefully.

I explained to David that I was going to be silent for the next two hours.  No puns, no repartee, no smart-alecry.  No sexual comments.  No masturbatory gestures.  No "that's what she said"

Just then the VP of Human Resources stood up.

"Thank you all for coming!" she announced.

I clamped my mouth shut.  Two hours to go.

Sunday, June 10, 2012



After our last 4-digit repair bill our mechanic suggested that it was probably time to stop investing money in our 13 year-old VW Passat.   When your mechanic tells you that, it probably means two things:

  • You have a very good mechanic.
  • A great mechanic probably would have told you this a couple of repairs ago.

So, Hank and I prepared to buy a new car.  We did a ton of research online and visited many dealerships to test-drive certain models.  Mostly what I learned from this experience is that being a salesman on a car lot is probably way more annoying today than it was the last time I bought a car (back in the 20th century).

People don't buy cars the way they used to.  I can sit at home in my bathrobe, look up invoice prices, compare features, email dealerships asking for price quotes, and not leave my house unless I either need to see a car in person, or am actually ready to buy a car at a pre-agreed-upon price.  What's left for the guy on the lot to do?  Narrate my test-drive and hope that the next customer is less annoying.

For example, we strolled into the Hyundai dealership and asked to test-drive an Elantra one afternoon.  The salesman was super knowledgeable about the car, telling me about the various buttons while simultaneously announcing haughtily that he didn't care for the look of the new Porsche.  I interrupted him early on in the test-drive and explained that we only had a few minutes available for the drive.

"Oh... ok, "he said disappointedly.  "Well, I definitely want to let you see how the car handles, so we'll check out the turning radius, go up some steep slopes, and drive down the REAL curviest street in San Francisco."

Sounded good to me, so we took off.  After about 60 seconds, the salesman said, "Uh... do you always... um... drive this way?"

Given that I was driving exactly the way I always do, which is pretty damn reasonable, I said that I was.  We continued the obstacle course of a test-drive he had planned out, and then I reminded him that my time was about up.  

He suggested the best route back to the dealership and then as soon as I changed lanes to get into a shorter red-light line, he said, "Wow, um... you know, you are NOT going to get the stated gas mileage if you drive THIS way."

I didn't end up rejecting the Hyundai BECAUSE this guy criticized my driving, but I would have liked to.

Meanwhile, the Acura salesman made no such faux pas.  By this time, we had narrowed down our choice to two cars, the Mazda 3, and the new Acura ILX.  I explained to the Acura salesman that we recognized that his car was nicer than the Mazda, but there was a large price gap between the two.  We had not had any luck pre-negotiating a price online with this car due to its newness.

"How much flexibility do you have on the price?" I asked.

"Zero.  I have no flexibility on the price," he stated firmly while simultaneously making a zero symbol with his thumb and forefinger.

"Zero?" I repeated, "You can't move the price at all?"

"Nope," and he crossed his arms across his chest.

"Well," I said, looking over at Hank.  "I guess we need to to figure out exactly how much more this car is worth to us over the Mazda 3.  It costs about $7,000 more, so let's see if it's worth it to us."

Hank agreed and we launched into our calculations in front of the salesman.

"It's got a fairly quiet ride," I started, since I knew that was a plus for Hank.  "That's probably worth about... $1,500?"

Hank agreed while the salesman watched.

"And alloy wheels!" the salesman added.

"That's worth zero." I replied.

"Alloy wheels are worth zero?!?!" he asked, stunned.

"Look, I don't care how much they cost to make.  They're not worth anything TO US.  This calculation is  about how much more this car is worth to us."

"Alloy wheels improve your braking distance!" he insisted.

"Ok, but this car is hundreds of pounds heavier than the Mazda 3, so it could very well have worse overall braking.  Unless you can show me that the braking is better, alloy wheels are worth zero to me."

The salesman shook his head in disbelief as Hank and I continued our calculations.

"Oh!  Remember that you noticed that dome light in the car is further from the front?" I noted to Hank. "So when Daisy turns it on to read in the backseat, it won't bother us as much!  How much is that worth?"

"That's worth about $300," Hank replied.

"What??" the salesman sputtered, "A dome light is worth MORE than alloy wheels?!?!"

"Yes, worth more to US," I explained again.

We continued down this path, adding in arbitrary amounts for incalculable things like "overall niceness" and "ipod integration".  By the end of the process, we had made up about $3,500 of the $7,000 difference between the two cars.

So, we're the proud owners of a Mazda 3.  Can't wait to do this again in a dozen years.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

I messaged my buddy, Scott, when I got home:

Me: Well, that was an unpleasant doctor's visit!
Scott: What did you have done?  Did they rotate the tires or check the oil?

I stared at his messages for a moment, trying to decide how to cleverly convert his car-maintenance quips into the analog of what was done to me during my check-up.  It soon dawned on me that he had already done that.

Me: Oh... uh... I DID have the oil checked!
Scott:  Ewwww!
Me: Hell, I had the tires rotated too!

I guess I was a timing-belt change short of a full 90,000 mile tune-up! Anyway, the point is that I had one of THOSE check-ups last week.  You know, the kind that men start to have in their 40s?  The kind that would be called sex had I been in a relationship with my doctor?

I sat in the examining room, ready to recite my list of aches and ailments I had accumulated since my last trip to the doctor three years earlier. Just like last time, the doctor came in, gave me a quick look up and down and pronounced me healthy.

"A young healthy guy like you doesn't need much of a check-up!" my doctor announced, seemingly trying to convince us both of that fact.  "We'll just talk about a few things and then the physical exam will be VERY minimal."

She said this as though I was sitting there begging her to put her hand up my butt and I needed to be talked out of it.  It was very apparent that she intended to keep herself as far away from my butt as possible.  That's probably a generally wise strategy for non-dog mammals.

So, we chatted about my family's medical history and the fact that my mother's doctor-avoidance strategy now consists mainly of her saying, "I'm sure I'll feel better tomorrow."

"Anything else you'd like to discuss?" the doc asked.

I then launched into my list of injuries and health concerns from head (nose) to toe (foot tendons).  After hearing the full list, the doc let out a defeated, "Oh... ok", asked me to get undressed, and slowly shuffled out of the room to get a large tube of lube.

She came back a few moments later and explained very clinically how she was going to examine my testicles.  (This would be the "tire rotation" part of the metaphor).  I can't recall exactly what she said because I was mostly wondering whether I was going to get an erection during this procedure.  As it turns out, the specter of the upcoming "oil check", made all the more prominent by the industrial-sized tube of lube on the counter, pretty much killed the mood.  It was a boner-free examination.

After my testicles were given the sexy all-clear, the doc asked me to get up on the examining table.

"Please hop up there, lay on your side, and curl up facing away from me," she suggested gently.

"Really?" I asked, "We do this with me in the fetal position?"

"Well, it seemed more humane than just asking you to bend over."

The humane part of the examination ended exactly right then.  At that point, a woman, with whom I have spent roughly 25 minutes over my entire life, stuck her hand up my ass.  Jesus Sphincter-clenching Christ, that was odd.

The good news is that my prostate is smooooooth and healthy.  The bad news is that I'm still having flashbacks.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

My manager sent me a warning email last night.  She explained that she's being interviewed by a news program and they were going to be in the office this week.  The interviewers wanted to be present during one of her team meetings so that they could see how she was one of the few females in our male-dominated technical organization.

I told this story to my daughter, Daisy, during dinner tonight.

Me: So, basically, my boss needs me to be my manly self during our team meeting for this interview.
Daisy:  Oh, so it's a pants role.

My hearing has never been particularly good, but it seems to have gotten worse the last few years. Plus, Daisy doesn't always enunciate perfectly well.

Me:  What?  Did you say, "pants role"?
Daisy:  Yeah.  Pants role.
Me:  What's a pants role? A man thing where I wear pants? I got that covered.
Daisy:  No, "pants role" is a theater expression. It's where a woman plays a role written for a man.

Dang.  That's a pretty good zing.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

When I came to work the Monday after breaking my nose, and repeatedly told my tale, I occasionally followed it up with, "and that was the second worst thing that happened to me this weekend."

Here's the first.

Daisy, who is in the 7th grade, has had a tough time at school this year. She has one good friend there, and a few other kids she likes, but there's always been a group of kids that gave her a hard time. This year things got stepped up a notch or two.

Daisy increasingly found herself the recipient of taunting.  She's got a few quirks and the other kids were pretty relentless about pushing her buttons. Any one incident could easily be regarded as kids-being-kids, but as a whole Daisy began to feel increasingly isolated at school.  Nighttime stomachaches became commonplace and she'd dread school days where she knew she'd have to interact with these kids.

Hank and I brought this to the attention of the principal, pointing out that Daisy was being bullied, and they dutifully called some kids into the principal's office and admonished them, but then things just seemed to get worse.  Although casual bullies laid off, the more serious ones were incensed that Daisy had told on them.  She began to routinely have her things stolen and was verbally confronted on a regular basis.

We continued to inform the school administration about these things, and the bullying just seemed to escalate.  The Friday before I broke my nose, Daisy came home with a note she had found in her locker (which she keeps locked with a typical combination lock).  The note said something to the effect of, "You're a bitch and everyone hates you.  If you tell on us again, we'll kill you!"

Ugh.

Although I was pretty damn sure that 7th graders weren't going to murder my daughter, this was an alarming development.  Given that every time we talked to the principal, the bullies stepped up their mistreatment of my daughter, what was the next level after a death threat?  Plus, now my daughter was scared to go to school.  Plus, Hank was pretty emphatic that we were not going to send her back to that school ever again.

So, we yanked her out of her school that weekend.  We had been eying a private school as a possible location for next year, but we fired off a bunch of emails that day, asking if Daisy could begin the following Monday.  Thankfully, they had space, and their admission policy seemed to center around accepting a tuition check.

Placing Daisy in a school we knew little about, in the middle of the school year, seemed pretty terrifying to me, but leaving her where she was seemed worse.  So we held our breath and pulled the trigger.

Daisy has been there for over a month now, and I have to say that it was a fantastic decision. The kids there accepted her literally with open arms, and the performing-arts based curriculum is right up Daisy's alley. She's made more friends there in a month than she had after 8 years at her previous school.  She gets dance class and choir multiple times a week and just kicked some butt in her first multi-school speech contest.

Having gone to public schools for my entire education, it was a little hard for me to swallow sending my kid to private school, but, man, this has been great.  Such a freaking relief.

(This has been just one of many things keeping me occupied and stressed while not blogging over the last several months.  Just catching up here.)