Friday, June 29, 2007

When Hiring an "Expert," Make Sure He's Really an Expert

A few days ago, my company had a hot water pipe burst, and we've been without hot water in the building ever since. This is a minor inconvenience in the grand scheme of things, but my co-workers are understandably anxious for the restoration of our hot water service. Part of the delay is due to a backlog on our contractor's end. Despite the fact that my company is a factory, we apparently lack enough on-site expertise to fix the problem ourselves; hence our decision to contract out the repair.

The contractors have been diligently working on the problem since yesterday or so. Seeing the size of the old pipes they've been yanking, I figured this was a big job with a complex set of problems. As of this morning, I'm not quite so sure. As I was walking by the destruction zone, I saw the two contractors sitting on the floor, reading the instructions for a simple pipe fitting. "Measure the pipe to the correct length..." I heard one of the workers reading as I walked by. As you can imagine, I was a little underwhelmed by this revelation. Here we are, completely without hot water, we wait several days for the experts to arrive, and based on what I saw, I'm as competent as they are when it comes to the actual repair procedure. Heck, I could have read the instructions and done the repair. I thought we were hiring professionals!

Folks, if you've come to the conclusion that you need a professional to do a job, cool. But when you decide who to hire, make sure they're really qualified to do the job.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

My Two Cents on Chris Benoit

As you've probably heard by now, WWE Superstar Chris Benoit and his family are dead, apparently because Chris killed his wife and child and then committed suicide. Understandably, there's a lot of chatter on the internet devoted to this subject. Benoit's die-hard fans are wallowing in self-pity at the loss of their icon, and the disillusion they're experiencing over the facts being made public. The bleeding-heart liberals are crying over the tragedy. The self-righteous conservatives are smugly declaring that Benoit is burning in hell, as if God himself had delivered the message to them. Others are blaming Vince McMahon, saying it's his fault that Benoit snapped due to roid rage.

Here's my two cents:

-To Benoit's fans... get over it. I was a fan of Benoit's too, until I discovered that he killed his wife and child. Not only did he kill them, it seems that he may have spaced the killings out, meaning that one of them had to live (albeit for a short time) with the knowledge that they were probably next. They left the world knowing that their own family member was taking their lives. Chris Benoit was obviously not the person he appeared to be in the ring.

-To the bleeding heart liberals... Quit using the word "tragedy" for every fucking death. You've used the word so often that it's now worthless. The death of Benoit's family is unfortunate, and my heart goes out to their friends and family. I'm not trying to diminish what they're going through. But come on... tragedy? The Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004 was a tragedy. 300,000 people died. These two events don't even compare... how can you use the same words for both events? It's not a tragedy. It's a murder.

-To the self-righteous liberals... Did God personally call you and tell you that Benoit's in hell? Yeah, I didn't think so. Shut the fuck up.

-To the McMahon haters... You can shut the fuck up too. Vince McMahon didn't have anything to do with the Benoit family death. Does he encourage the use of steroids and painkillers in his athletes? I'm sure he does. In the end though, it's the individual's choice whether or not to consume steroids and do what's necessary to achieve the dream of being a WWE superstar. Don't blame McMahon for the choices individual wrestlers make. By the way, we don't yet know for certain that roid rage caused this. I completely agree that it's probably the source, but give it a little time. Quit jumping to conclusions and wait for a little longer for the evidence to come in.

To wrap it up, here's my feelings: Chris Benoit was probably taking steroids, but I'll wait for the final verdict. Assuming he took the shit, it's Benoit's fault and nobody else's, for what happened. Going with the probability that he snapped because of steroid use, I understand how the chemical made him snap. I understand it, but I don't excuse it. In the end, he's responsible for his own actions.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

This Is Gonna Be Fun

Any time you hear "This is gonna be fun," you can be sure that it's not going to turn out exactly as expected. In fact, that phrase is reported to be one of the most uttered statements just before the ambulance is called, or immediately preceding a Darwin Awards submission. Last night it seems that I forgot how dangerous that phrase can be.

The wife and I had another quiet evening at home, and I decided to grill so I could try out the grill set that she had gotten me for Father's Day. I lit the grill - one of those natural gas grills - and sweetie-pie kicked back on the deck with me while the grill warmed up. After several minutes, I detected the unmistakable scent of natural gas, which indicated that the flame had gone out. I retrieved my lighter and set out to re-light the grill. Knowing that I would get a small fireball upon relighting it, I turned to my wonderful wife and said "This is gonna be fun."

I fired up the lighter, moved it to the grill and was promptly greeted by the largest fireball I've ever seen. The lid was blown off of the grill (and this is a cast iron lid) and I immediately smelled the reek of burning hair. My wife's voice was full of concern as she said "[Evan] are you okay?" and quickly following up with "Your hair is smoking."

Fortunately I was completely uninjured, but as I ran my hand through my locks, huge clumps of hair remained in my hand. When I went inside to look in the mirror, I knew that there was only one thing I could do... buzz it all off. My hair was singed to about 1/4 inch. My eyebrows remained unsinged, but my eyelashes were about half of their original length.

As I pulled out my hair clippers and gave myself a crew cut, I couldn't help but be amused at how stupid I was. My wife, fully recovered from the initial shock of seeing her husband consumed by a fireball, was also amused. "See hon," I said grinning, "I told you this was gonna be fun, I just didn't know it would turn out precisely this way."

So next time you hear someone say "This is gonna be fun," make sure to break out the video camera, and have your cell phone handy. In the best of circumstances it'll make for a hysterical video. In the worst, you'll have a Darwin Award candidate.

Monday, June 25, 2007

I Love My Kids, But...

There really shouldn't be a "but" in the title. I really do love my kids. I enjoy spending time with them. I not only love them, I like them too. They're good kids. They're smart, responsible and conscientious.

With that said though, I also enjoy time without them from time to time. I savor the time where the love of my life and I can sleep in, go to concerts, or just do nothing. This weekends the kids are spending a little extra time with their mom, because their mom's mother is visiting. This is giving my better half and me a little extra grown-up time. Over the last few days, we've taken a walk in the rain, gone to a concert, tried a new restaurant, and attended a BBQ cook-off. I've enjoyed every minute with her.

Yes, I really love my rugrats, but I also enjoy my couple time with my wife.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Mmmmmmmm.... Blueberries

A couple of weeks back, the Mrs. brought home some blueberries home with the weekly groceries. Since we all love blueberries, I figured they'd disappear that same afternoon, but lo and behold they were still in the refrigerator a couple of days later. Sensing that the kids had possibly forgotten about them, I moved them to the back of the refrigerator so I could eat them later.

Fast forward to the next day... we had eaten dinner, I wanted some dessert, and I remembered the blueberries. Picturing them nestled quietly in the back of the refrigerator, I cruised out to the kitchen, opened the refrigerator door, reached to the back and discovered... nothing. The kids had found them. Curses!

I casually mentioned that I'd have liked some blueberries, and the older kid chimed in that she wanted some too. My better half offered to run out and get some (she's so thoughtful that way), but I told her that wouldn't be necessary. She stayed home, but did surprise us by bringing some home the next evening. (Did I mention how thoughtful she is?)

Not wanting to miss out twice in a row, I started eating them right away, while the wife went back to the bedroom to change out of her work clothes. While I was eating and she was changing, we had one of those across-the-house conversations, but I couldn't quite hear what she was saying. Since I didn't want to make her shout, I went back to the bedroom so I could hear her more clearly.

When I got there, she had removed her top and was just wearing her bra. The bra was a deep blue satin job. I couldn't help myself... I looked at her chest, pointed and said "Mmmmmmmmm... boob-berries."

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Tool Rocks

The Mrs. and I saw Tool in concert last night. She was predictably less impressed than I was, but we both had a good time. First things first though. The opening band, Melt Banana, was one of the worst bands I've ever had to endure. They sucked so bad that I thought my ears were going to bleed by the end of their set. They were so horrible that they should be banned under the Geneva Convention's article regarding cruel and inhuman punishment. I've heard that rock music is used in Guantanamo Bay to somehow keep the prisoners under control... if they switched to this Melt Banana crap, the war on terror would have long since been finished. They sucked so bad that I'm not even going to give them a courtesy link.

Maybe this was part of Tool's ploy. I can picture Maynard and the crew now... "Hey, I know we're good and everything... I know that our fans love us, but picture this... Let's get the worst band we can find as an opening act. Then when we come on, we'll look doubly good." And that's kind of how it happened. By the way, Tool's performance was the polar opposite of the opening act. In other words, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Tool's concert was significantly different from many other shows I've attended. In virtually every show I've seen, the vocalist is also the front man for the band, acting as a conduit between the band and the audience. Tool was a little different. Maynard actually stood in the back, and the spotlight fell on the axe men. This left me with the impression that Tool is a band of equals... that Maynard is one of four members of a team. The wife felt that it detracted from the interaction between the band and the audience.

The band played for three to three and a half hours, but they played surprisingly little of their recorded material during that time. A very large portion of the concert consisted of non-recorded stuff. I had a hard time knowing for sure if they were improvising, if it was filler material or what. I was able to imagine myself as a fly on the wall, watching the band in their basement, playing for the fun of it. My wife said that this further detracted from the interaction between the band and the audience, and the result was that she felt a little "isolated" from the band. I want to clarify that she enjoyed the concert... just not as much as I did. She agreed that Tool is an incredibly talented band. It's just that she didn't feel connected to them during the show. I understand where she's coming from, but I don't share the sentiment.

The one other thing that surprised me was that the show was essentially one long song. From the intro through the encore, there was no break in the music. There was always something going on in the background, and it was well accented by video and lasers in the background -- great eye candy to compliment the music.

In the end, what can I say? I'm glad I went. I'd certainly see them again, and I'd recommend the show to anyone who asked.

Monday, June 18, 2007

A Note on Father's Day

Between my time of being a father and my time of having a father, I've experienced a lot of Father's Days. For the most part, I'm not really big on this kind of holiday, because I firmly believe that such days were contrived by businessmen, keen on getting their clientèle to part with a few more of their hard-earned dollars.

Over time, my opinion has changed. It's not because I'm suddenly concerned with the holiday, but because my kids are. A couple of weeks before each Valentine's Day, Mother's Day and Father's day, the kids start planning how they're going to honor us. They start making little cards and crafts, and giving not-so-subtle queries regarding what I want for said holiday. Over the course of the next couple of days, they tease me and ask if I want my gift right away. I always say that I'll wait, which seems to torture them more than me.

When the day arrives, I'm usually awakened with children jumping on my bed, and the kids trying to get me to look at their gifts, despite the fact that my eyes haven't focused yet, followed by a breakfast whipped up by the young-uns. Throughout the day they do little things... shows, notes and so forth... and ask me if I'm enjoying "my" day.

At the end of the day, I end up thinking "This isn't what I'd have chosen for 'my' day, but it was better in its own way." Father's Day isn't really about the father. It's about the kids.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Good Enough

Within the last couple of months, I was fortunate enough to stumble across The Dilbert Blog, written and maintained by the creator of the Dilbert comic strip. One of his recent posts discussed the "Golden Happiness Ratio," which quantified the philosophy of "good enough."

For those of you too lazy to read the blog entry, Adams' theory essentially says that people who, on average, get things about 80% right are happiest. People obsessed with perfection are less happy because they suffer from the law of diminishing returns, and people who are consistently satisfied with less than80% are "serial losers." I tend to think that somewhere between 85 and 90% is a better number, but I agree with his premise.

Fast-forward to yesterday: I was responding to a comment on an earlier blog entry, when I noticed something I didn't like. My immediate reaction was to edit the post and fix the error, but before I started, the Golden Happiness Ratio came to mind and I let it go.

Letting it go was something of a new experience for me. I tend to subscribe to the "good enough" mentality overall, but I'm pretty meticulous about my blogging. Typos and grammatical errors drive me nuts, and I detest making posts that are unclear -- the type of post where my (five or so) faithful readers are left scratching their heads, wondering what the fuck I just said. As a result, letting this 'mistake' go was a new experience. It took a little bit of resolve, but saying "good enough" was pretty gratifying.