Wednesday, December 28, 2005

What I Did On Christmas Vacation - By Flamingo1

What I Did On Christmas Vacation

By Flamingo1

Welcome to Iowa and welcome to 1986. Above, I have posted a typical Iowa landscape; a scrubby field full of some sort of long ago harvested vegetation. Ugly patches of snow can be found trapped between the dried stalks of whatever sort of plant this might have been during the summer months. It ain't pretty. It isn't exactly the snow capped Rockies of Colorado.

We snapped this picture out of the front window of our Toyota Solara two door rental car. By the way, a two door Toyota Solara is not exactly the car I would select for a family of 5 traveling 60 miles with luggage. Consider that before purchasing one. Additionally, consider this when renting a car from Hertz - a two door Toyota Solara is considered a "Full Size" car - who would have thought?!?! In any event, this photo was taken within 4 blocks of "downtown." The skyline of the Greater Cedar Rapids Metropolitan Area is dominated by Quaker Oats and a variety of corn sweetener plants including the Cargill plant shown here. Massive amounts of corn are trucked into this city every year and are "processed" into corn starch and corn sweetener products. Check the back of virtually any sugared product and one of the primary ingredients will be "corn sweetener." Chances are it came from right here!

Now corn sweeteners make your food taste better (provided you are into processed sugar products). The process to make them does not make the air smell sweeter. Quite the contrary. Please note the gaseous emissions belching forth from the smoke stacks. This is one of the smells from the City of Five Smells.

Cedar Rapids is actually the self-described "City of Five Seasons." Cedar Rapids The Five Seasons are Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and....the time to enjoy the other four seasons (yes, clearly lame, but it wasn't my idea!!) However, what is missing from these glamorous images that I have shared with you as well as the shiny photos provided by the Chamber of Commerce are the smells. It actually used to be worse when I was a lad, but the smells never stop. As I mentioned, Quaker Oats is the 500 pound gorilla dominating 1/2 of the downtown skyline. Yes, it is right downtown. See photo evidence provided.

Oh, sure - it's pretty. This is the place that brings us Cap'n Crunch and Cap'n Crunch with Crunchberries. You can often smell these products as they are being made. The proximity to the foregoing corn sweetener plants make the production of sugary ceareals quite easy! MMMMMM...the smell can make your stomach queasy. I did not take this picture as you can see. I pulled this picture from the internet. Surprisingly, there are several pictures of the downtown Cedar Rapids skyline if you are interested in viewing more. I was tempted to post the photo showing the Quaker Oats plant at night. It is a wonder to behold.

To add to this olfactory adventure, just south of "downtown" Cedar Rapids you will find the city landfill as well as the city sewage treatment plant.

To provide a quick recap:

Smell No. 1 - Corn Sweeteners (and lots of them!);
Smell No. 2 - Quaker Oats;
Smell No. 3 - city landfill/dump;
Smell No. 4 - city sewage treatment plant.

AND SMELL No. 5 is the "time to enjoy the other 4 smells." It actually used to be the giant meat packing plant that is just south of downtown on the river right across from the sewage treatment plant and the dump, but that meat packing plant closed long ago. Accordingly, I ripped off the City of Five Seasons motto for my own evil purposes.

Another little tidbit of which you should be aware is that Grant Wood was from the general area and actually spent quite a bit of time in Cedar Rapids. During his time in the area, he painted American Gothic - the American Mona Lisa. I love this painting.

The house in this picture is still standing in Eldon Iowa. I have never been there, but the next time I am in Iowa during the summer, I intend to drive out to Eldon and take a picture of the house. I might even pose just like this.

The couple portrayed in the picture is comprised of the town dentist shown holding the pitch fork and Grant Wood's sister. I love the juxtaposition of the unsophisticated rural farmer in the foreground with the intricate gothic window in the background. The expressions on these faces are stern...but they somehow remind me of the Mona Lisa smile. There's something behind those dour expressions. And I can't help but wonder what the female in the picture is looking at - Mr. American Gothic is looking right at us - but Ms. American Gothic seems to be distracted by something. Probably two dogs humping in the front yard - but who can tell for sure?!?!

American Gothic was actually on display at the Cedar Rapids Art Museum recently. We missed it because it returned to Chicago on December 4. Otherwise, I would have gone down to the museum to see it in person. Culture in Cedar Rapids...who would have thought?!?!

As it was, I experienced no culture during my time in Cedar Rapids. When I wasn't gorging myself on obscene amounts of mashed potatoes, gravy, turkey and sweet potatoes, I mostly hung out at a bar, drank beer and played an electronic bowling game...and that is what I did on my Christmas vacation.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Freezing my ass off in Iowa

I just got 10 minutes of access to a computer. Please recall that it is still 1986 here in Iowa.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Believe It or Not...

Today was a pretty good day...I just won a two year lease on one of these. Mine is yellow and black. Erin and I are now soul mates.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Working on the Weekend

I hate working on the weekend...but here I am busting my ass on Sunday. I went in-house to avoid this as much as possible. What I found is that the "Cushy In-House Position" is an illusion; a myth. It is like Big Foot or the Loch Ness Monster. Oh, sure, there are a few fuzzy pictures of attorneys going to work at 9:00 and leaving at 5 every day without their laptop and a pile of documents, but there isn't any real physical evidence that they exist in the real world. No one has actually shot one and brought in its carcass as proof.

So, here I am, busting my ass on December 18, 2005 to get as much done as I am able.

But it won't cut off the inevitable. At some point during the coming week, I will get several phone calls regarding things I couldn't complete before leaving town.

While I am on a rant, I may as well state that much of my frustration is not from the legal work that I do. It is the huge amount of non-legal babysitting that I do that is frustrating.

Anyone who works in corporate America - Cube-ville - can tell you that people that know what they are doing and really understand it are rare. There are many people that should not have the jobs that they occupy - either too stupid or too lazy or some combination of the two. Read Dilbert. That guy has made a living poking fun at that very premise. It is funny because it is 90% true and 10% exaggerated.

Consequently, I end up doing more than analyzing issues for legal risk and drafting documents to address such legal risk. I end up wiping asses and noses.

I am going to insert - verbatim - an e-mail I recently received from a "documentation specialist"

The E-mail correspondence read as follows:

"I am trying to do a subordination agreement and I am unable to use all of the companies. So Meghan and I retyped the Subordination Agreement off of Laser Pro and I am going to insert the companies."

This was all of the information they gave me. They never told me which transaction this was. They never told me what was being subordinated, why it was being subordinated nor even which agreement about which they were talking. They never told me what companies were involved, why they wouldn't fit or in what capacity they were involved. I didn't even know who the author was nor who Meghan was.

Yet they wanted an answer right what may have been a word-processing issue. To this day, I still don't know if there may have been some legal component to this request as my inquiry for more information was responded to with the following:

"Per ____, we closed the Subordination agreements, We typed word for word from laser pro."

RECALL: this is a person whose job title is "Documentation Specialist." I stay up at night worrying what the documents she drafts look like.

I keep e-mails like this in a folder called "E-Mail of the Week." I think that I will someday put together a power-point presentation on communication and use these all as examples of how poorly people communicate.

I don't mind getting calls from people, while I am out of the office, regarding issues which they have considered, analyzed and have determined require legal analysis. BUT it pisses me off when some moron that doesn't know how to do their own job calls me up so that I can train them to do what they have been paid to do for the last several years.

These same people do come in at 9:00 and leave at 5:00 every day.

My favorite is when someone calls and leaves me a voicemail message at 4:59 asking me to do some project right away and when I call them back 5 minutes later they are already gone for the day.

I can assure you that the average individual clamoring for the work product that I have been producing over the last week has worked approximately 1/2 of the hours that I have worked this last week. I can also assure you that this average person will not even read what I produce and will not understand how it impacts what they do on a daily basis - other than they need it because somebody told them that they have to have it.

These people are at all levels. One of the worst communicators/violators of this is a vice president with an MBA. I can't, for the life of me, figure out how he manages to dress himself in the morning.

Don't pay too much attention to this, I'm just letting off some steam that resulted from too much work, too little time and the pressure of the holiday season.

Hopefully I will have some time soon, to let off a little creative steam instead of pissing and moaning about dumb and annoying people.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Happy F'ing Holidays

Work is going nuts.
Home is going nuts.
In less than a week I have to travel FROM SUNNY ARIZONA to the frozen tundra that is Iowa (see photo of what it will look like where I will be next week).

So, I get to spend a ton of money to get there, work my ass off twice as much as usual....for this.

Meanwhile a friend of mine here in my office will be on a cruise to Acapulco and Cabo.

Life is not fair.

P.S. Hairy Prison Guard is a dirty scoundrel.

Nowhere Girl is...well, Nowhere.

Someone left me a note two days ago that Nowhere Girl's blog was GONE. I didn't believe it at first. Even after I went there a few times, I held out hope that it was just a temporary technical glitch and she would return. Two days have passed - no sign of her.

I'm worried. Well, Crusher returned, so I will retain hope that Nowhere Girl will come back as well. Please drop us a note to let us know you are ok.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Goo Goo Clusters

The Goo Goos arrived today. Goo Goos have become a holiday tradition at my office.

Apparently these delicious little patties of chocolate, marshmallow, peanuts and caramel are made in Nashville. When I have had legal work in the state of Tennessee, I have used a specific firm and a specific attorney there in Nashville and, subsequently I have received a box of Goo Goo Clusters from him every year.

The tradition is that I immediately hand out 5 of the Goo Goo Clusters and consume one. They all have to be gone within 5 minutes of receiving them...otherwise I will be tempted to eat more than one.

They are Goo Goo-licious. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Don't Drink and Blog

Well, the apology post is already shot to hell.

My company holiday party was tonight. Yes, I said Holiday Party...and yes, I am going to shop at Target twice as much this year because they are saying Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. Screw anyone that disagrees with that because I KNOW THAT I AM RIGHT.

I know that God wants us to accept each other and respect each other. Accordingly, God wants me to say Happy Holidays. I know that without one ounce of doubt. I am certain that the Bible backs me up on that. Why would God want me to ostrasize 3/4 the planet???

If God loves anyone, he loves the Jews, oh and of course he also loves the Muslims, the Hindus and the Bhuddists.

He does not feel sorry for them. I know that.

In fact, I know that he just appreciates the fact that they treat each other with respect - provided that they do treat each other with respect.

In fact, if God wasn't busy with more important things (like running the universe) he would probably smite a few judgemental assholes such as Oral Roberts, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and Travis for professing to know more about God than anyone else. I, too, have now exposed myself to smiting as well...and I deserve it.

IN FACT, I happen to know that the only people that God really does not like are those people that think they have all the answers about God.

By the way, that is what GOD looks like. I know it. Yes, he is a white man. So is Jesus. Don't even try to argue that Jesus would be of Arabic descent due to the part of the world in which he was born. I KNOW that Jesus was white...just like me.


Friday, December 09, 2005

Admitting My Hypocrisy

Early today, I read a comment in a post attacking someone for being Jewish. I was immediately offended (though I am not Jewish) and began drafting a response regarding how inappropriate such comments are. I was going to write about how offensive and ignorant such statements are. How can you classify an entire race/religion into such a negative category in one derogatory commment. I was prepared to go on and on and on at how awful such a statement was.

and then my own hypocrisy hit me.

I have done the same thing before on this very blog. My attack was not on the Jew, the Muslim, the Bhuddist or the [insert religion here]. No, my attack was on "Christians."

I very nearly went to battle against a silly ignorant statement made about the Jews when I was guilty of bashing Christians in a similar manner - for that, I want to apologize.

I guess all stereotypes/biases/racism/sexism stem from our personal experiences at some level and I have had several and significant issues with Christians in my life. That does not give me the right to show prejudice against Christians in the same manner that I would object to if directed at a Jew.

Logical consistency is paramount.

Therefore, I apologize.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

On Muffin Aesthetics and Cupcakes

I would have never suspected that an innocent story about a poorly conceived idea for a gift exchange item might result in comparing and contrasting their muffin asthetics...but there it was. The White Elephant I am certain that the vast majority of male readers (especially Dongley) would welcome the opportunity to render an opinion if the opportunity was presented.

I, however, have other muffin issues that concern me. A friend of mine reported that their office received a gift basket full of muffins today. One muffin variety was a chocolate muffin with chocolate chips.

I know muffins. I have eaten many muffins. That, my friend, is no muffin.

That is a cupcake.

How, pray tell, can we, as an English speaking community, effectively communicate with one another if we can't appropriately distinguish between a muffin and a cupcake???

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Apparently, I am the sun card

I took one of those "tests" over on Femi's blog and apparently I am the sun card. Earlier today, I was walking down the hallway at the bank and I thought to myself, "If I were a tarot card, which tarot card would I be."

Once that thought crossed the ramen bowl of my brain, the rest of the day was tumultuous. Thank goodness that I now know that I would be the sun card if I happened to be a tarot card.

I am mildly surprised that I am not the asshole card. I can't wait to rub that in with my wife.

The Sun Card
You are the Sun card. The light of the Sun reveals
all. The Sun is joyful and bright, without fear
or reservation. The childish nature of the Sun
allows you to play and feel free. Exploration
can truly take place in the light of day when
nothing is hidden. The Sun's rays fill you with
energy so that you may live life to its
fullest, milking pleasure out of each day. Such
joy and energy can bring wealth and physical
pleasure. To shine in the light of day is to
have confidence, to soak up its rays is to feel
the freedom of a child. Image from: Stevee

Monday, December 05, 2005

The White Elephant

A "White Elephant" gift exchange is where everyone brings a funny, silly or sometimes used gift item, wraps it up and then one person opens a package and then through a series of variable rules, subsequent package openers can either opt to trade gifts with those that went before or keep the gift that they have. It can be a lot of fun if it is done correctly and if you don't have people that are too shy to screw each other over.

Unfortunately, this White Elephant gift exchange happened only a few months after I accepted the position I currently hold...and I didn't really know all of the rules of the game.

We all decided to do this "White Elephant" thing and set the gift exchange for a specific date. There was a $25.00 gift limit, but it was never crystal clear whether it was supposed to be something funny/silly or something nice. So there I was, trapped in ambiguity.

The day of the event was met with another suprise. Our General Counsel announced that he would be attending as well. This was the first social interaction that I would have with the General Counsel and, while very nice, GC was a little intimidating. GC is very proper, professional and reserved at all times. I started to worry a little more about my "gift."

Off we went to a restaurant for the lunchtime gift exchange - packages in tow. On the drive over, I convinced myself that there was no reason to worry. The gift was fine. I started to believe it.

After ordering, the festivities began. One of the admins pulled #1 out of the hat and was designated the first to select and unwrap a gift. Rip...and out came a nice set of candles. Nothing silly or odd about them. They were nice.

#2 went...she pulls out a rocketry set. A funky, fun little toy. I immediately feel slightly better, but it was still pretty tame. #2 exchanges the rockets for the candles. Unless someone else takes the rockets, #1 is stuck with rockets.

#3 goes and pulls out a gift certificate to Best Buy. Nothing wrong with that at all...very nice gift, in fact. Now I grow more worried.

It continues like this through several more gift exchanges. A couple of trades happen but not much action, really.

The GC is # 7. He has had to leave prior to the actual exchange...whew. So his admin pulls for him. She pulls - the package I brought. Dammit.

She tears away the colorful paper and pulls open the lid of the box and immediately starts laughing. The gift is actually quite nice. It is a dark, wood picture cube I picked up at Bombay. It was the unfortunate selection of pictures that I placed into the cube that resulted in her response. She continues laughing.

"What is it?" asked one of the members of the department - laughing along without knowing why. And then it came out of the box and was passed around. The photocube from hell - with pictures of me: (a) taking a nap; (b) wearing an apron while basting a turkey; (c) drinking a shot; (d) drunk on my 40th birthday party wearing a lei and a hat that said "Over the Hill."

Oh, this sounded like a great idea for a white elephant gift exchange when I first started putting it together. Now that GC had drawn it, the joy rushed out of it in the same manner as the blood rushing out of my face.

Everyone had a great laugh - at my expense - and couldn't wait to run back to the office to "present" the GC with this gift. Of course, NOBODY would trade away their prize to take this gift away from the GC - as I am sure they believed that the best gift was the entertainment of seeing me humiliated when the gift was presented. They got their money's worth

That cube still sits on his desk and it still contains the same pictures - though I remind him on each occasion I am in his office that those pictures can be changed.

How I look forward to this year's exchange.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Another Amusing Headline

Scissors Will Be Allowed on Planes

...but running with them is still strictly prohibited.

Amusing Headlines

Next "Apprentice" to be Shot in Calif.

I'm not sure that execution is the prize most of the applicants are seeking.

Who's Their Daddy? Not Jacko, Ex Says

As if we ever believed it in the first place! C'mon, how stupid is the general public??

Face Transplants Sparks Concerns

...and a furrowed brow. One of the concerns is: exactly whose brow is furrowed???

Bothersome Bed Bugs Bounce Back

Whew...I guess that means we can take them off the endangered species list.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

How Close Are We to Strapping on Bombs???

common ground christian news

I saw these people on TV the night before last. They are paying $7,000/month rent to rent an office space 4 or 5 blocks from the Supreme Court building and pray 24 hours a day until Roe v. Wade is overturned. They offer internships to bring people in to DC to pray at this place so they can keep it staffed 24 hours a day. I do not know whether they give college credit for such activities.

These people ranted and raved and foamed at the mouth. They rocked back and forth like Rain Man. They looked like a bunch of coked up lunatics. The herd mentality had this group whipped up into a blood frenzy of prayer. It was absolutely frightening.

Do they really believe that because of these prayers god will end abortion? Do they think that god didn't think of it before they asked? Do you think that it has ever crossed their minds that god would end something he didn't like if he wanted to? After all, isn't god omnipotent and omnipresent? Is prayer really a weapon to be used in the battle against abortion? Is prayer to be used to ask for things at all? I know it makes those praying feel better in some capacity, so it does perform some purpose, but....

I couldn't help but note how much they reminded me of the "raving" radical Muslims that the media always shows us on the news. Those people are crazy zealots according to the press...but these "Christians" were every bit as maniacal as any Muslim faction I have ever seen portrayed on my television set. But the press didn't portray them in the same fashion that it portrays the devilish Muslims. Oh, no, these people were given credible news coverage and a platform to spread their message.

Do you ever wonder whom the "free press" is working? Do they have some motive for making us believe Muslim zealots are bad while excusing the behavior of the zealots among us?

In all likelihood, the new Chief Justice is going to make this decision for all of us. Then these loonies will think it worked. I guess praying in an office keeps them from knocking on my door to bring me pamphlets.

I Wouldn't Lie About Something Like That!!

I just want to assure you that the Penny Story (Penny Story) and the Blue Bus story (Blue Bus) are absolutely true. If anything, I have underembellished these events in order to achieve some level of credibility. To the best of my recollection (other than precise dialogue) these events transpired as written. As did this event (HNT) but you probably didn't have any doubts about that one in the first place...

If I had more time today, I would rant about the recent argument appearing on Crall's blog between Crall, PDD and Drea...but alas, they expect me to work today. I have a meeting in two minutes, so this will have to suffice until tonight!