Saturday, July 30, 2005

I ran across this on the Marine Corps forum I belong to. I don't make a habit of posting stuff that others had written, and on the rare occasions that I do post stuff that others have said or written, I make every attempt to give credit where credit is due. Unfortunately, I don't know who wrote this. But again, this is NOT my original writing. Kudos to the person who came up with this bit of wit...

---Begin Original Text---

If World War Two had been an online Real Ttime Strategy game, the chat room traffic would have gone something like this.

*Hitler[AoE] has joined
the game.*
*Eisenhower has joined the game.*
*paTTon has joined the
*Churchill has joined the game.*
*benny-tow has joined the
*T0J0 has joined the game.*
*Roosevelt has joined the
*Stalin has joined the game.*
*deGaulle has joined the
Roosevelt: hey sup
T0J0: y0
Stalin: hi
Hitler[AoE]: cool, i start with panzer tanks!
paTTon: lol more like
panzy tanks
T0JO: lol
Roosevelt: o this fockin sucks i got a
benny-tow: haha america sux
Stalin: hey hitler you dont fight
me i dont fight u, cool?
Hitler[AoE]; sure whatever
deGaulle: **** Hitler rushed some1 help
Hitler[AoE]: lol byebye
Roosevelt: i dont got **** to help, sry
Churchill: wtf the
luftwaffle is attacking me
Roosevelt: get antiair guns
Churchill: i cant
afford them
benny-tow: u n00bs know what team talk is?
Roosevelt: o yah hit the navajo button guys
deGaulle: eisenhower ur
worthless come help me quick
Eisenhower: i cant do **** til rosevelt gives me
an army
paTTon: yah hurry the fock up
Churchill: d00d im gettin
deGaulle: this is fockin weak u guys suck
*deGaulle has left the
Roosevelt: im gonna attack the axis k?
benny-tow: with what? ur
benny-tow: lol did u mess up ur legs AND ur head?
T0J0: lol o no america im comin 4 u
Roosevelt: wtf! thats bullsh1t
u fags im gunna kick ur asses
T0JO: not without ur harbors u wont!
Roosevelt: u little biotch ill get u
Hitler[AoE]: wtf
america hax, u had depression and now u got a huge fockin army
thats bullsh1t u hacker
Churchill: lol no more france for u
Hitler[AoE]: tojo help me!
T0J0: wtf u want me to do, im on the
other side of the world retard
Hitler[AoE]: fine ill clear you a
Stalin: WTF u arsshoel! WE HAD A FoCKIN TRUCE
Hitler[AoE]: i changed
my mind lol
benny-tow: haha
benny-tow: hey ur losing ur guys in africa im
gonna need help in italy soon sum1
T0J0: o **** i cant help u i got my hands
Hitler[AoE]: im 2 busy 2 help
Roosevelt: yah thats right ***** im
comin for ya
Stalin: church help me
Churchill: like u helped me before?
sure ill just sit here
Stalin: dont be an arss
Churchill: dont be a
commie. oops too late
Eisenhower: LOL
benny-tow: hahahh oh sh1t
Hitler: o man ur focked
paTTon: oh what now biotch
Roosevelt: whos
the cripple now lol
*benny-tow has been eliminated.*
Roosevelt: gj patton
paTTon: thnx
Hitler[AoE]: WTF eisenhower hax
hes killing all my sh1t
Hitler[AoE]: quit u hacker so u dont ruin my
Eisenhower: Nuts!
benny~tow: wtf that mean?
Eisenhower: meant to
say nutsack lol finger slipped
paTTon: coming to get u hitler u paper hanging
hun cocksocker
Stalin: rofl
Hitler[AoE]: u guys are
fockin gay
Hitler[AoE]: ur never getting in my city
*Hitler[AoE] has been
benny~tow: OMG u noob you killed yourself
Stalin: OMG LMAO!
Hitler[AoE]: WTF i didnt click there omg this
game blows
*Hitler[AoE] has left the game*
paTTon: hahahhah
my teammates are n00bs
benny~tow: shut up noob
Roosevelt: haha wut a
paTTon: wtf am i gunna do now?
Eisenhower: yah me too
T0J0: why
dont u attack me o thats right u dont got no ships lololol
Eisenhower: fock
paTTon: lemme go thru ur base commie
Stalin: go to hell lol
fock this sh1t im goin afk
Eisenhower: yah this is gay
*Roosevelt has left
the game.*
Hitler[AoE]: wtf?
Eisenhower: sh1t now we need some1 to
*tru_m4n has joined the game.*
tru_m4n: hi all
Stalin: sup
Churchill: hi
tru_m4n: OMG OMG OMG i got all his
tru_m4n: NUKES! HOLY **** I GOT NUKES
Stalin: d00d gimmie some
tru_m4n: no way i only got like a couple
Stalin: omg dont be gay
gimmie nuculer secrets
T0J0: wtf is nukes?
T0J0: holy
*T0J0 has been eliminated.*
*The Allied team has won
the game!*
Eisenhower: awesome!
Churchill: gg noobs no re
T0J0: thats
bull**** u fockin suck
*T0J0 has left the game.*
*Eisenhower has left the
Stalin: next game im not going to be on ur team, u guys didnt help me
for ****
Churchill: wutever, we didnt need ur help neway dumbarss
l8r all
benny~tow: bye
Churchill: l8r
Stalin: fock u all
shut up commie lol
*tru_m4n has left the game.*
benny~tow: lololol u
Churchill: ROFL
Churchill: bye commie
*Churchill has left the
*benny~tow has left the game.*
Stalin: i hate u all fags
has left the game.*
paTTon: lol no1 is left
paTTon: weeeee i got a
*paTTon has been eliminated.*
paTTon: o sh1t!
*paTTon has left the

---End Original Text---

Friday, July 29, 2005

I Know it says "Speed Limit," but Come On

I seem to have been cursed with being stuck behind slow drivers this week, and I don't mean someone who's driving one or two miles per hour below the speed limit. Oh no, the people I'm getting stuck behind don't seem to feel safe unless they're driving about half of the posted speed limit.

When this happens on a freeway, it's no big deal. Sure, it's a little frustrating, but you bide your time, wait for the folks in the fast lane to zip by you, make your lane change and pass, taking the mandatory look into their car to see just how old the offender is. If you're particularly stressed or in a hurry, you can also honk impatiently while you're waiting for your turn to pass, or give them the one-fingered wave as you sail by.

When you're in a residential area though, it's a little different. First off, the speed limit is much lower there. So when you end up behind a slow driver -- especially those I'm-gonna-go-half-the-speed-limit folks, you end up going so slow that you're getting passed by bicycles and motorized wheelchairs. And in a residential area, it's a little tough to tromp on the gas and fly by the slowed-to-a-crawl offender, because there's always the chance of a stray kid deciding to fetch his errant basketball, the fear that fluffy the I'm-almost-a-dog Poodle will run directly under your tires while little Sally watches on in horror, or the prospect that two cars are parked directly across from each other, leaving no room to pass. Slow drivers in these residential zones are the worst because you can't really pass them, and they seem to know it. So when these I'm-so-old-I-knew-God-when-he-was-a-little-boy drivers get in the residential areas, they seem to take sadistic pleasure in slowing down to a speed so low, that you can actually see the patern in their tires. They KNOW you can't pass. I think it's a game for them.

"Hey Martha."

"Yeah Claude?"

"There's a car behind us."

"Great, let's slow down."

"You read my mind, kitten." says Claude, easing off of the accellerator.

"Still too fast, Claude. Hit the brake... and slide to the middle of the road, so he can't pass. That'll piss him off."

(Evil old giggles ensue.)

And the worst part about all of this is, it's not always the blue haired crew that's impeding my progress. I'm starting to see people who aren't even close to retirement age who seem to have forgotten where the gas pedal is in their car. Hey, I know we're having a gas crisis, and that slowing down will save a little money, but geez... there's a point where the engine's RPMs get too low and it actually becomes MORE expensive to drive slow. What, are you PRACTICING for retirement?

Believe it or not though, it's been a quiet week in my little world, so the slow drivers aren't stressing me out. I haven't been stuck behind them when I'm late for work. In fact, it seems to be on days where I'm running a little early, so this is probably a blessing in disguise. I mean, after all, it's not like I want to submit myself to a few more minutes of work. So when I've ended up behind these creepers, I think to myself, "Would I rather be stuck in the car for an extra few minutes, or would I rather be stuck at work for an extra few minutes?" The slow driver usually wins that contest.

In today's hustle and bustle society (is 'bustle' really a word?!?), it's always going to be a bit annoying when you get stuck behind a slow driver. But if it's got to happen to me, I'd rather it happen when I'm not stressed and/or in a hurry. If it's got to happen, I'd prefer that it happen all at once, leaving me karmically free from slow drivers for a while. But most of all, if this is my greatest complaint, then life's pretty damn good.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Work + Children = Low Productivity

This is kind of a follow-up to my post from earlier today. My kids always ask to go to work with me. A couple of times per year, I let them, and today was my younger daughter's turn. I've got to preface this by saying that she was a little angel. She was well-behaved, charming as hell to my co-workers, she made me little "I love my Daddy" pictures notes and cards, and did a great job of keeping herself entertained. But she's still a kid. She still had to go potty a lot. She'd still ask me silly little questions that she already knew the answer to (like "Daddy, what's your favorite color?") while I was deep in thought. This, of course, not only derailed my train of thought... it derailed it, destroyed the bridge that the train was crossing, killed the engineer, and dropped a nuke on the whole shit-n-shebang just for good measure.

Luckily, I was prepared for a day of low productivity, and had low expectations for getting anything accomplished. Unfortunately, I had a few unexpected issues. Fortunately, my daughter charmed the people having the problems, and they were completely unaware that it took me 10 times longer to fix their problems due to my daughter's presence. Or maybe they just sucked it up and didn't say anything.

Regardless of this though, it was still stressful. But like I said earlier, it's about my kids. I like my job, but it's only a means to an end... that end being to make life better for my kids. And by some strange coincidence, the kids seem to somehow think that taking them to work is better for them. (Of course, I'm not so sure about that, because they'll start working soon enough.) So considering that I only take them to work once or twice a year, and it's all about them anyway, I can suck up a day or so of low productivity.

My Kids Won't Let me Blog

As I'm writing this, my kids are wanting my undivided attention. That's how it is everyday with kids -- mine in particular. But no matter how nuts they drive me with their constant attention seeking, I try to keep it in perspective and give them every second of attention they need, without allowing myself to be their main source of entertainment every time they're bored.

"Dad, I'm bored."

"Read a book."

"I don't want to read."

"Ride your bike."

"It's too hot."

"Clean your room." (That one usually gets them to stop.)

"I don't want to clean my room."

"Well kid, I'm out of ideas. Guess you'll have to find something else to do."

"There's nothing to do."

"Well kid, I'm your dad. I'm supposed to be your parent, guide and mentor... not your main source of entertainment when your friends are all off doing something else.

"What's a mentor?"


Repeat as necessary.

But like I've said earlier, I try to give them my undivided attention at least for a while each day. Even when they're driving me nuts -- fighting, telling me how bored they are, telling me about their latest crisis while I'm trying to blog -- I always manage to remember how much I love them, and keep in mind that they won't always be wanting my attention. My older daughter is twelve and already act like a teenager withdrawing from her parents... unless of course she's bored.

Since I'm the adult, and fully understand that my kids won't always want my attention, I try to enjoy their attention when they're kind enough to give it to me. It won't last long. But it definitely cuts into my blogging and slacking time.

Tonight we're going to the night swim at one of the municipal pools. It lasts until 8:30. Hopefully I'll have time to check out some of my new friends' blogs (and comment on them) when I return. Hopefully, I'll get a little time to do a little more blogging of my own. (I've been smart enough to write down a couple of ideas as they cross through my little brain housing group.) But then again, they may want to play "tackle dad," their favorite passtime with me... so my next entry may have to wait a little longer.

Oh, by the way, the first part of today's entry took about 20 minutes, because the kids kept interrupting me... "What're you doing?" "Your driver's license picture looks funny." (What are you doing in my wallet?!?) "How long until we go swimming?" "Can we bring a friend?" (No.) The last part took only five minutes. They found something else to do for a few minutes. I think they're changing into their swim suits.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Unions are Falling Apart. It's About Freakin' Time.

I had a case of insomnia last night. After an hour or so of tossing and turning in my bed, fruitlessly trying to get back to sleep, I caved into my untimely energy and surfed the internet for an hour or so. During my online adventure, I discovered that the Teamsters and SEIU are splitting from the AFL-CIO. Am I the only one who's saying "It's about freakin' time?"

When unions were first formed, they served a genuine purpose. Remember that during the industrial revolution, people worked 12 hours a day, and got roughly one day off every other week. Work-related injuries weren't just a possibility, they were a PROBABILITY. Wages were so low that entire families -- kids included -- HAD to work just to keep a leaky roof over their heads. Meanwhile, the Rockefellers and Carnegies made so much money that 100 years later, their descendents STILL don't have to work. In other words, unions didn't just "serve a purpose," they were a necessity.

As the unions began to organize, quality of life improved dramatically for the average worker, and the playing field began to level a bit between employers and employees. Wages rose, work hours dropped and the workplace became a safer place to be. Realistically, unions had accomplished their goals. Once these goals were accomplished and institutionalized in American Society, unions could have theoretically gone by the wayside, or at least stayed around strictly as corporate watchdogs. Unfortunately, that's not what happened. Unions became a bureaucracy and entrenched themselves in society. This, of course, makes perfect sense. After all, these union leaders had become almost as rich and powerful as the Robber Barons they were taking on. At this point, unions took on a life of their own.

Fast-forward a couple of decades, when unions started going nuts. They started not just asking for fair wages, but for obscene wages (based on the skill set of the average union worker). They began the process of making even the most incompetent, unqualified union worker virtually immune from termination. And soon the union employees started becoming complacent, with American product quality and product ingenuity soon falling as a result. (If you doubt me, think about the quality of the average 70's American-made vehicle. I sure wouldn't want to own one).

The early 80's brought the beginning of the end for unions as we now know them. Quality and profitibility was low, but the unions weren't willing to work with management to ensure the long-term viability of the companies. Foreign products -- superior in quality and lower in price -- began creeping in to the economy, crowding out American goods, services and jobs. About the same time, corporations began to realize that they could ship the unskilled jobs to foreign countries, save money, and oftentimes still end up with a better product.Layoffs started occurring en masse. Unions lost some of their influence, and American workers were forced to take lower-paying non-union jobs in order to make ends meet. A lot of union workers will say that this was a result of corporate greed. To an extent, they're right. But at the same time, unions need to be accountable for their role in this too.

It looks like unions are finally starting to get it. Maybe this is the first step in a complete overhaul of the union mentality. Maybe they'll start allowing for the reality of today's world. I'd like to make a couple of humble suggestions. Allow for some wage variances based on performance. While it's reasonable to make sure that your union members make a decent living wage, you should allow for bonuses, raises and other perks to be disbursed based on performance. If Joe Shit the lazy employee makes the same as SuperEmployee, there's no incentive for SuperEmployee to do any more than Joe Shit.

You should also consider making it easier for management to get rid of dead weight. If a new employee performs better than a tenured employee, and it's time for layoffs, it's unreasonable for the better employee to be laid off, just because the other guy's got seniority. If a guy's not performing, the company should also have the right to can him, without all of the grievance bureaucracy bullshit.

It's time to let go of the past, and get a grip on what's going on today. Unions, get your shit together and work for the common good, or face extinction.

Monday, July 25, 2005

If I'd Have Known It Was This Easy, I'd Have Done It Sooner

Wow! I've had more regulars drop by in the past week or so than I've had since starting this blog. I knew that the blogsphere was a community, but I didn't realize the implication of this knowledge.

It all started last weekend when I ran across a blog site giving a few tips on how to get more readers. Though I had configured the blog correctly (making sure the "next blog" link was visible, archiving appropriately and making sure to notify when I did an update), I completely missed the boat on the community aspect of it. I had an "If I build it, they will come" mentality, which was waaaaaayyy off base. There's a little more to it than that.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not a hit whore who just logs on to see how many people actually read the drivel that I post, but I will admit that I was a little bit frustrated that I didn't have at least a couple of semi-regular readers (outside of friends and family). Heck, I even read a lot of blogs daily, but again, I was still a little slow at figuring out how this stuff works.

If you want to have any success in the blogsphere, you can't just write and hope that people will like your stuff. There are plenty of people out there with just as much -- or more -- talent than I possess. Wanna know the secrets? Well, lean in a little closer to the monitor and I'll tell you.

First, you've got to interact with the other bloggers. Don't just read their stuff, let them know when you like what you've read. And if you really like it, give them the courtesy of linking to their blog. They'll usually link to yours in return. (Though I suspect that a couple of people I've linked to linked back out of some feeling of obligation, I hope that in the end, everyone is happy that they've linked back to my stuff.)

It also helps to have something to say. Though it's cool to talk about the mundane aspects of your day, you can't just write about that. You've got to tie it into something a little more interesting, with a more broadbased appeal. Did you have a run-in with an idiot cashier at the grocery store? Cool. Go ahead and write about it; but tie it in to something larger... maybe you could talk about how all people are stupid, or how customer service is an oxymoron.

Learn how to write and spell. There's nothing more annoying to me than stumbling across a blog where the writer abbreviates everything, and you have to decypher what they're saying as if you were reading a Top Secret government document.

Post frequently. If you don't have frequent readers, posting frequently will get your blog on the "most recently updated" list on blogger. If you do have frequent readers and stop posting frequently, they'll stop coming by, and you have to rebuild your circle of readers.

The main aspects though, are frequent posts and frequent interaction. Once you make a couple of friends in the blogsphere, it seems to become self-sustaining after that. It takes a little bit of work and commitment, but if you don't make the commitment and do the work, then why bother?

Sunday, July 24, 2005

I Slept With Paris Hilton

My Fiancee is probably gonna kill me for this one, but I suspect she'll find out anyway... I slept with Paris Hilton last night. It was really by chance that I met her. My dad and I were in Las Vegas, and he told me she was in town. I've always thought she was physically attractive, but I've never been impressed by her intellectual prowess (or lack thereof), or by her lack of social skills. She's always given me the impression that she gets by on her looks and her money.

Anyway, my dad mentioned that she was in town and asked if I wanted to meet her. Though I wasn't particularly interested in meeting her per se, I'm always open to the prospect of meeting new people -- especially if they're celebrities. I don't get to hobnob with celebrities too often, so I figured "What the hell." When I asked my dad how he knew she was in town and how he knew her, he explained that she's my dad's second cousin twice removed or something like that. He told me the details, but they went by pretty quickly, and I'd had a couple of beers already, so the details didn't stick.

So an hour or so goes by, and Paris knocked on our hotel room door. I invited her in, my dad introduced us, and we quickly started chatting about nothing in particular. After a while, she invited me to check out some of the local entertainment -- her treat. How could I refuse?!? So we hit a few clubs, I got pretty loopy, and she asked me if I wanted to go back to her room. In the back of my mind, I thought "Man, I shouldn't be doing this. My fiancee will be PISSED." But I somehow found myself unable to refuse. In retrospect, I wonder if she slipped me a mickey or something, because I don't usually behave this way.

Well, we got back to her room, the booze kept flowing, and suddenly we were both in her bed naked. I won't bore you with the gory details, but I will say that the sex was nothing short of animalistic, despite the fact that in the back of my mind I was still feeling horribly guilty about cheating on the love of my life. A little bit later, I woke up still feeling guilty, but somehow everything was completely different. I was in my own bed, laying next to my lover. I was almost overcome with guilt when I realized that it had all been a dream. It was an incredibly twisted, exciting, erotic dream, but a dream nonethleess. Relief washed over me as I realized I was dreaming. I smiled and caressed her, happy in the knowledge that I could never REALLY cheat on the love of my life, and went back to sleep, totally content.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

An Unexpected Surprise

The other day when I came home from work, I was greeted by children running into the garage, shouting "Don't come in the house yet. You can't come in the house yet." After explaining that it's too hot for me to stay outside, they said "Okay, you can come in, but you've gotta stay downstairs." I was able to deal with that. A few minutes later, my better half got home, and was greeted the same way.

After a bit of hanging out in the basement, the kids shouted "You can come up now." As we ascended the stairs, we saw glitter and hearts on the stairs. When we got into the living room, we were greeted with the sight in this picture. The kids had prepared a romantic early supper for us, complete with classical music, a homemade menu, tea... the whole ball of wax.

They were creative too. They made us some beef flavored linguine noodles with vegetables mixed in, homemade tea, and a homemade dessert that was essentially a frosting sandwich.

In all honesty, the food was completely inedible, but that's not the point. They did something for us, they were creative, and they worked pretty hard at making it a special moment. They even cleaned up the ENTIRE mess when they got done. This is one of the reasons that kids are so awesome.

Buy Now, Pay Forever

In yesterday's post, I said that I've got a little bit of hope for Corporate America. Though I do have a little bit of hope, for the most part I still believe that Corporate America is greedy, underhanded and just plain sucks. Don't get me wrong, I'm a capitalist through and through. I just disagree with the common perception that it's all about the dollar, everything else be damned.

Think about it... from the time you're old enough to be aware of your surroundings, you're innundated with advertisements and marketing... flashy commercials during Saturday morning cartoons... catchy little jingles about crappy products... showy packaging... strategic product placement in the stores. And this follows you throughout the rest of your life... buy now, pay later... credit cards are easy... The point of their marketing, however it's presented, is always the same. You need our product, and you need it now!

I hope you don't think I'm a minimalist who thinks that commercialsim and consumerism are bad, bad things. That's not the case. I'm not one of those misers who eats nothing but tuna, leaves the A/C off in 100 degree weather, and walks everywhere in the interest of saving that one extra penny. I do the occasional impulse buy like everyone else. The problem I have with all of this marketing is that we as a society have taken consumerism to the extreme, and we have Corporate America to thank for this connundrum.

Practically from birth, we're brainwashed to buy, buy, buy. If you don't have the money now, no problem... just charge it. Buy now, pay much more later. Forget about saving for a rainy day; let's go for the instant gratification. As a result, people owe too much and aren't prepared for the unexpected problems that invariably occur in life.

Spending and borrowing is at an all-time high, and saving is at an all-time low. Bankruptcies are rampant in society, and when you dig yourself in too deep, the companies don't care... they all want their money, and they want it now! They don't care about your circumstances when things get tight, and blame the consumers for their woes. These companies universally brainwash you into the consumeristic mindset, and then say "You should have known better" when you extend yourself too far. They make you feel like a failure and a deadbeat when you inevitably extend yourself past your spending limits.

And most recently, President Bush has made it more difficult to wipe the slate clean and start over by filing for bankruptcy. While I agree to some extent that it's a little too easy to file bankruptcy and abuse the system, I also believe that the new bankruptcy laws will probably prevent the people who need bankruptcy protection the most from doing so, and the slimebags who abuse bankruptcy will still be able to skate by on technicalities.

The real answer to consumerism is a little more personal responsibility and education all the way around. Consumers and producers both need to understand that it's not about the almighty dollar. Consumers need to consume a little less, and producers need to be willing to be more responsible as well. Producers need to stop setting the consumers up for failure, and consumers need to start setting a little more aside for a rainy day. This would probably be a little painful for the economy in the short-term, but in the long haul, we'd all be better off.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Hope for Corporate America

At one time or another, most of us have equated the phrase "Corporate America" with greed, corruption, profiteering, gouging the customer, and screwing the employee. We're finding ourselves working harder for smaller raises. It seems that almost daily we're hearing about some new corporate scandal where the customers and employees get the shaft, while the CEOs laugh all the way to the bank. There's no doubt that when it comes to Corporate America, the average customer, employee or shareholder views management with skepticism, wariness and frequently, disgust. Anecdotally speaking, there's little room for doubt that the term "corporate responsibility" is an oxymoron. But every now and then, CEOs, corporate presidents, or the board of directors do something right... something so good that there's a little hope that we could someday return to a time where it's not all about the the almighty dollar, but also about doing what's right. I experienced such an event the other day.

Every quarter, my company has an all-employee meeting. During these meetings, the senior management tells us how we're doing financially, talks about the progress in products or services we're developing, and has an open-floor question and answer period. For the most part, these meetings are okay, but there's always room for improvement. Generally speaking, the employees view these meetings as a dog-and-pony show, paying lip service to management's promise of open communication with staff; the managers that give presentations usually come across as too political and not willing to discuss the things that matter to the employees. This isn't necessarily my opinion, it's the general consensus I hear from the people I work with.

This quarter's meeting was different though. When the president opened the meeting, he put his five-odd minutes worth of prepared notes down, and spoke to us from the heart for about a half hour. During his talk, he acknowledged the stress that a lot of us are experiencing, reiterated his vision for the company, and actually apologized for his role in some of the stress we're going through.

The stress our company is experiencing isn't any different than the stress experienced at most other companies in America. It's not anything serious like an impending scandal, lawsuits, bankruptcy, or anything that's going to be the end of our livelihood. No, our internal issues are more cultural... employees feel like they're not being communicated to... like they're overwork, underpaid and underappreciated... like they don't have the power to ask questions... like management is either oblivious or indifferent to these issues... you get the idea. These cultural issues, in and of themselves, are neither new nor serious. They're kind of like blisters on your feet. They start out as uncomfortable and irritating; but if you don't stop and take care of them, they'll grow, fester, get infected, and eventually you'll be forced to stop and deal with them -- and by not tackling these blisters immediately, you're in for more pain over the long haul, and you'll be down for a lot longer.

When the president spoke to us at this meeting, it was a big deal. By speaking from the heart, he demonstrated that he understands the issues we're facing, expressed that he's not oblivious or indifferent to our concerns, and that he actually cares about the people that work for him. Will his talk single-handedly fix the cultural problems in our company? Certainly not. But by setting aside his prepared speech and speaking from the heart, he showed his humanity -- something that he doesn't frequently do. He opened the lines of communication, and conveyed that to some extent he's one of us. Though he certainly can't fix the cultural issues with a single event any more than a single bandaid would fix that infected blister, he has acknowledged the blister and did administer first aid. It was a great first step. It says that not all of Corporate America is about the money; and though faint, it gives me hope that one day Corporate America will step up like the president did at our meeting.