Gym Tips for Guys

Do not tuck your shirt into lycra bottoms

Do not wear short shorts

Do not wear short shorts with your shirt tucked into them

 

Pretty simple, and yet….   There is a man at my gym who breaks these rules regularly.   Granted he’s in great shape.  He is probably approaching 0% body fat, long and lean.  His workout usually puts the rest of us mere mortals to shame.  The things is his clothes, his workouts, his demenour give off a sense of arrogance and overt pride. 

So my amusement was great when I was walking out of a class tonight.  There he was doing some sort of athletic feat that most of us could only dream about in his short shorts with tight lycra t-shirt tucked in.  Suddenly I hear “oh, this asshole again”.  I turn to look at the woman next to med.  Her eyes are huge.  “Did I say that outloud?  Horrible”.    I tell her no, it’s what everyone is thinking. 

You really don't want to be this guy... so don't.

So you think it’s a good idea to have a business person as President Part 2

If you haven’t worked in a large company, you may not be familiar with how the upper echelons of it’s management think.  To obtain a certain level of control in a large bureaucracy, one must have a certain kind of personality, the kind of personality who doesn’t mind cutting down everyone else to reach the singular goal of making themselves more powerful.  

As the veteran of a few large companies, I can tell you that the common denominator at the top is these guys (and they are mostly guys) believe rules do not apply to them.   Were they like that from the beginning, which helped them get to where they are or did they develop this as they moved up the chain of command in extremely command and control entities, the power and entitlement it grants leading them to believe they live by their own rules?    Does it really matter?  They are where they are, they do what they want and they don’t see limits.  Regulations?  Bah…  change them or find creative ways around them.  Paying what you owe?  When you can expense it to your company?   Come on now.  Firing people who disagree with you?  Goes with the territory.  Expectation of job performance commensurate with ones salary.  You’re funny (note:  they believe they are worth what they are paid, but tell that to anyone in the lower parts of the chain, working like a dog, that it makes sense that the CEO make 10, 20, 100 times more than them).  No matter how bad a CEO messes up, even if they get forced out, they will receive the golden parachute written into their contract. They will walk away with millions, guaranteed.  Even better, they will get another CEO gig.   

Never worked in a large company?  Think you don't know who I'm talking about?  You do.  They are the person behind you honking when you're trying to take a left turn, but there is constant oncoming traffic.  They are the person taking a left turn from the far right lane across 2 lanes because who are YOU to be THEIR way?  They will be driving an Audi, BMW, Mercedes... probably an SUV.   They have places to be and they think the rules don't apply to them.  They are endangering you and your passengers because they don't give a shit. 

The rules just don’t apply to them.  At least not the same rules that apply to the rest of us.   As a CEO if you don’t like what someone in your organization is doing, you can pull them aside and suggest they ‘let it go’.  Most of the time, whatever it is will be gone because if it isn’t you will be fired or worse, treated viciously badly until you resign, and either way they will bad mouth you in whatever circles they can.  The sense of entitlement this creates, even among those who have shareholders and boards to answer to is staggering.   If I don’t like the rules, I’ll just change them.   Unfortunately for the powerful,, but fortunately for us, the United States is a nation of laws.  Laws can’t just be changed overnight because one of our three branches of government wants it.   Executive Orders can’t change everything.  We do not have a dictatorship, you can’t just go around the other branches of government, (weak though some members of them are).  You can’t run a country like a CEO by just telling everyone what to do and firing those who don’t agree with you (thank you founding fathers, THANK YOU).    There are rules and there are laws in a civilized society.  Let’s hope they are strong enough to withstand a frustrated power broker, not used to not getting his way, not used to working well with others.  I believe we can, but please no more business people as President. 

So you think it’s a good idea for a business person to be President…

You think a business person knows how to make money, will squeeze efficiencies out, get rid of waste and in doing so lower your taxes?  This is my theory on the thought process, anyway.   My response:  have you ever worked at a large company?   Waste is all around you.  Examples: 

·        Employees who literally do nothing

·        Poor planning resulting in expensive over runs

·        People whose entire job is making Powerpoint presentations full of the latest business jargon (which they spent the morning googling)

·        The lunches.  One can’t possibly expect anyone to meet between 12 – 1 without being provided an expensive, catered lunch!    Certainly everyone will pass out if they wait to eat their own lunch at 1pm. 

·        The swag.  Everyone has t-shirts, fleeces, blankets and towels with the corporate logo on them.  It’s advertising!  

·        The marketing materials.  Whole forests have been destroyed to hand out glossy brochures that no one actually reads at trade shows. 

·        The expense accounts.  So many steaks, so much scotch, so many tickets.

·        The travel.  Oh, hello expensive room service and other expensive services provided to people out of town. 

·        The conferences.  Where people who know less than you present on topics you’re not interested in, but everyone gets to travel and have expense accounts (see above) and get swag from other companies.   Quadruple threat!  

·        The retreats/offsites boondongle.  Oh yes, we must get away from the mundane and ‘think out of the box’ (no doubt someone spent a whole week on the PowerPoints to get ready – see above).   Sometimes on islands or other warm locations within close proximity to golf course(s). 

·        Senior management bonuses totally more than the GDP of some states, even if the company is going down the crapper.   We can’t expect Executives to live on less.  They are the ‘idea’ people.  Again, even if the company is about to declare bankruptcy and go out of business, the bonuses will still be paid.  

Through all of the above, has the price of something you buy ever gone down because a business person wrung efficiencies out?     I’m waiting..   I can’t think of an example.   You think the ‘efficiencies’ will help you… think again.  

AThing I Have Learned

When in the library, if someone sits down next to you and starts imbibing then opens up their phone to watch videos with the sound on (no headphones):   this is a cry for attention.  Do not engage!   If you ignore them, they will eventually become bored and move to some other area of the library to bother someone else.   Also, bring headphones.  

I'm sorry you need attention so badly, but I have things to do! 

I am afraid..

Afraid that on Friday there will not be one person in the White House who feels this way.... (watch the entire thing or zoom ahead to 1:45 for the start of the really good part).  

Sam Seaborn: It was high treason, and it mattered a great deal! This country is an idea, and one that's lit the world for two centuries and treason against that idea is not just a crime against the living! This ground holds the graves of people who died for it, who gave what Lincoln called the last full measure of devotion, of fidelity.

Sam Seaborn: You understand that last full measure devotion to, treason against them is.

A President and Love and Books and Empathy

Just Do It

Ever have a to do which you'd do anything to avoid doing or procrastinate or make excuses to not do?   No, I'm sure I'm all alone in that wonderful trait.   But just in case...  

For most of my life, I have not cooked.  I didn't enjoy cooking.  I didn't like spending time cooking. Why couldn't fun, delicious food appear from nowhere?   Then I started Hello Fresh and attempted to become a vegan (still a work in progress), so I started cooking.  I've learned to make many interesting and fun dishes.   

You know what happens when you cook, when you actually turn the oven on from time to time?   I'm told you're supposed to clean it periodically.  What?!  Yes, it's true.   Here is an embarrassing fact.  In all the time we've lived here, ahem years, the oven has never been cleaned, not one time. Last time I used it, smoke came out.  It was just like when smoke comes out of the toaster oven when you've left crumbs on the bottom, so I knew just what it was.  

But I don't want to clean the oven!   I don't wanna.  Do I need Oven Off?   I did think about just getting a new oven for a bit.  The oven is entering it's golden years. Surely it will need to be replaced soon anyway.  I realize that is ridiculous.  I can't do that just because I throw out the $35 toaster oven when it gets too dirty.  Oh, the oven is self-cleaning!  Excellent.  Then I read the instructions. The oven will go up to 1000 degrees and it takes hours.  Frankly, that sounds terrifying.  Also, I want to make baked sweet potato fries.  I don't want to wait.  Ok, Scrub Daddy, you and me... we're going in.  

To my amazement, the black stuff came right off.   Super easy.  Wo!  Victory!   Sure, I probably need to give it a more substantial cleaning at some point, but things will work out fine for today.   There was no reason to be so intimidated of cleaning the oven.  

Lesson:  sometimes the things you just don't want to are the exact things that you really need to do.  It's entirely possible it won't be as bad as you think and you will feel fantastic when you're done, not to mention enjoying yummy sweet potato fries! 

I don’t really have book problems.  Others think I have book problems, but I do not agree.  What I have is a reading problem in that there is nowhere near enough time to read all the books.  But I love books!   I love being around them.  I love seeing them on the shelf.  I love going to bookstores. I love going to the library.  I even love to smell them. I know I’m not alone.  When I’ve had a bad day, heading to a bookstore and bought two, three… seven books to feel better is my thing.   It’s like this scene from Almost Famous, just switch out bookstore for record store. 

 

But all this book buying has led to a space problem.  There isn't room anywhere for even one more book.  Well… not true, they could be piled up on the floor.  What is wrong with that?   I see nothing wrong with that, but let’s say not everyone agrees.  So now new books are hidden under the bed.   I also went through a phase of squirreling them away on eReaders.  I barely remember I own them because I don’t see them.  I need to SEE the beautiful books!  

The possibility of my reading the books I already have rather than buying even more new books has been suggested.  Am I even aware of how many unread books I own?   Do I know that there are some duplicates?  Pshaw!  Sacrilege.  You know nothing!  

Unfortunately for me, I believe in holding myself accountable.  I only paid off my student loans by maintaining a budget spreadsheet and being brutally honest with myself about what I spent.   So… I made a spreadsheet of all my books.  Author, Title, Type (fiction, non-fiction, etc.), Format (print, ebook, etc.), guestimate of when it was acquired, Read or To be Read.  But to be fully accountable to my book compulsion, I couldn’t track merely the books which already beautify my shelfs.  What about the ones I want to read, but do not yet own?   So I added in my Amazon wishlist, all fifteen pages of it.   What?   Fifteen pages is completely normal! 

The results were striking.  The list was so long I decided to add a second tab to hold just the book already read.  Then I would have a true To Be Read (TBR) list and be able to sort on whether I own it or not.  That way I could refer to this list when looking for my next read and pull from it.  Excellent idea… yes?   Until I totaled up the spreadsheet.  Want to know how many books were on my TBR?   657.   Even I think 657 is batshit crazy!    I own 308 print and 146 eBooks I haven’t read.  Hmmm…  Let’s do some math.  I read around 50 books a year (time constraints!).  This means if I only read the print books I already own, I, in theory, don’t need to buy another book for six years.  If I include ebooks, nine.   NINE years!   This doesn’t even account for the books I’ve marked as ‘On Scribd’ because A. of course I have Scribd and B. theoretically I don’t HAVE to buy a book if it’s on Scribd.  Though sometimes book leave Scribd, but that is a whole aside.  

This feels daunting to me.   Also, it was 657 when I originally made the spreadsheet some time back.  It’s now up to 763, but shhhhh…  

I’m either going to have to pick up the pace or stop adding to this list, right?   I can’t stop adding to the list, so it’s going to have to be pick up the pace.   Why am I writing this?   Gotta go!

Customer Disservice

Having worked in product development for some time, I’d like to think I understand how customer service can and should work.  The level of incompetence in this area is truly astounding.  Let me give you an example of how it should NOT work and then we can work through how it should work.

 

Barnes & Noble.  So sorry to pick on you when you’re flailing, but possibly one of the reasons you’re flailing is you need to improve in some areas.  I’m here to help you with at least one of them.  

I love books.  I love physical bookstores.  I want you to stay around, at least until independent bookstores return to every town.  Dare to dream.  

As a supporter, I am a Barnes & Noble member.  I pay $25 for the privilege of free shipping online and additional discounts.   I’m happy to do it.  It’s a good deal for me.   Except when the following occurred.  

Last year, while checking out in a store, the cashier told me my membership would soon expire and asked if want to renew today.  Sure, sounds good.  A few weeks later what did I notice on my credit card statement but two charges for Barnes & Noble renewal.   Some research tells me one is from the transaction in the store and the other another auto-renewal initiated from the website.  Seriously?    Since I’m logged into BN.com, I enter the support area and enter an inquiry.  I received the below in response: 

 

Thank you for inquiring about your Barnes & Noble Membership.

To protect your privacy and respond to your request, please provide all of the following information:

-Member name
-Member mailing address
-Barnes & Noble Membership number

If you do not have your Membership number available, please provide one of the following:

-Phone number
-Last four digits of the credit card #
-Last store in which your Membership was used.

Please accept our sincere apologies for the inconvenience.

 

To protect my privacy, provide information that you already have because I was logged in to your site when I sent this inquiry?    Sigh, but ok.  I return to the Customer Service section of the website, but there is no apparent way to view existing support tickets to add this information, which they already have.  So, I’m left with the assumption that for my privacy I should personal information to them via email.   Now this was last year, perhaps they weren’t yet aware that email isn’t the most secure mechanism.

Note:  because I have worked in technology, I know what this means.  It means their Customer Service functionality isn’t fully connected to their website.  It’s just email and phone in issues, and it’s most likely a completely separate operation from any other part of the business.  This is insane because:

1.      You have an e-commerce operation where people may need support. 

2.      You have digital products, i.e.) the Nook that may actually require support. 

 

If you don’t want to support a real Customer Service area online, possibly there are other more pressing areas of your business to focus on, then don’t allow people to enter in information online that appears to an actual support ticket, but is in reality just an email.  I hate having to call and wade through the phone menu. HATE IT.  But I’d prefer it if you just told me that upfront rather than go through this farce.  

But I do it.  I respond with the information.  I even provide them with the date, the store and the total amount of my purchase to help.

Days later a response arrives.  I should take the receipt from the store back to the store and tell them to refund me.  Customer Service can’t initiate that refund from their system.   For real.  

So now I further know that the website and the store systems aren’t really connected.   They are connected enough that when I use my member card in a store, they know it’s going to expire, but not connected enough to have one channel process a refund processed through the other.   Ridiculous. 

At this point, I give up.  I don't have the receipt anymore.  It’s only $25.  I’m not investing any more time.  Except to go on to the website and turn off auto-renewal for my membership, because I don’t know that I want to renew.  

Flash forward to this year to my renewal time.  What do you think happened?   Take a guess.  Naturally, the membership auto-renewed anyway.   I return to the website and look under Membership settings.   Somehow the setting has reverted to auto-renew and here is the really interesting part, it displays my credit card information with the correct credit card number, but incorrect expiration date.   I return out to the payments area of My Account. There my credit card and expiration date are accurate.  So they must store credit card information for memberships separately and somehow, someone changed it.   Lunacy.  

 

Barnes & Noble:  get your shit together. 

 

Here is how this should go: 

I enter my issue into the system.  I receive a response saying they will respond soon.   The response should include research determining that, indeed, I have been charged twice for a membership and informing me that I have been refunded for one.   Done.

How to go from Dumbass to MacGyver

Da da dah da da da da daa dah…  ok that is the Mission Impossible theme.  What can I say, my grandfather loved it.  

The following is a true story…

The facts:

·        I am feeding my friend’s cats while they are on vacation

·        The litter boxes are in their basement

The story: 

Upon entering the house, I remove my boots so as not to get the snow, just beginning to fall, all over.  I say hello to the adorable kitties, drop my bag and keys on the kitchen counter.  I go about my business:  fill up food bowls, check.  Change the water, check.  Set up the feeder to go off again at 8pm, check.  Then it’s time to go down to the basement to clean the litter boxes.  No problem.  I take care of business, return up the stairs to the basement door, turn the knob and…..  it’s locked. 

WHAT?  It’s fucking locked?!?  I’m in the basement and the door is fucking locked.  This is not happening.  I smack my pockets.  OH!  My phone is in my bag, upstairs on the kitchen counter.  Damn it!    The lock has a key!   My keychain with their keys is on the kitchen counter.  FUCK.

No… this is NOT happening.   I am not locked in the basement.  

I go downstairs and look around, then return upstairs and try the knob because again...  I’m NOT locked in the basement.  

Fucking A.  I am locked in the basement.   

{Deep breaths… deep breaths}.  No one is coming here today and I have no way to communicate out.

This is still not happening.  I’m not locked in the basement!  And I’m certainly not locked in the basement, where there is no food and it’s quite chilly!  

Ok.  Maybe there is a door to the garage somewhere down here.  Interesting fact:  basements are underground.  Garages are usually not.  This house falls into the not category.  

Maybe there is a phone down here.  I can call someone!  There are not one, but two, other people who I know have keys.  It doesn’t faze me that I wouldn’t be able to call them because I don’t know anyone’s number anymore, it’s all in my cell phone which is IN MY BAG, on the COUNTER upstairs.  I’ll call Information.  Does Information still exist?   I lurch around aimlessly… phone here?  Phone there?   Phone NOWHERE!  

It’s ok.  This is not happening.  I am NOT locked in the basement. 

I return up the stairs and try the door again.  Apparently, I am still… locked in the basement.  

Maybe this has happened to them before and they have hidden a key around for this express purpose!    I look under rugs, go through random baskets of nonsense, even look in hats.  I go through the pockets of some coats hanging down there.  You never know!  I feel bad about this, but at least I can tell her where her sunglasses are in case she is looking for them.  But no key.

It’s ok.  This is NOT happening.  I am not locked in the basement. 

Except I am locked in the basement.  Ok, what next?   I check out the water heater room.  There is a ladder.  That could be handy.  And a stocked wine rack!   Thank goodness.  Now I know I won’t die. 

I investigate the other room. It’s a tool room!  Her husband has a room full of tools!   But even better: there is a window in here!   It’s a mere foot above my head!   So what that it’s small.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.   I drag the ladder in and climb up.   Hmmm…. There are not one, not two, but three sliding windows and a screen on this tiny window!  It looked like this:

I could barely fit through this window if fully open.  The options appear to be removing the windows or sliding open one window and squishing through half the window.   

Let’s consider other options.  

I return to the main room.  Another window!  Only one opening!   I drag the ladder over, climb up and attempt to open the window.   I could get through this.  It wouldn’t be pretty, but I could do it.  I open the window, it opens from the top down, like this:

WHY?    If it opened from the bottom up, I could possible shimmy under the open window.  With top down I’d be forced to climb over the glass and put my whole weight on it.   I imagine this going one of three ways:

1.      I get stuck and must yell for help to the surely multitude of people walking by in a snow storm.  

2.      The glass breaks and though I’m bleeding, I escape alive.  The house is now open season for burglars.  Only later do I realize that any burglar that went through the window would also end up locked in the basement… and they would deserve it!

3.      I remove the window, even though it has weird screws that I’ve never seen before, and escape with ease.  At that point, I’d be outside, in my socks, in the snow, with no keys, no phone and no identification.  I’d be a person who didn’t exist.  I’d be forced to knock on neighbors’ doors and explain this.  

None of these options are appealing. 

It’s ok.  This is not happening.  I am NOT locked in the basement. 

Now a rational person might take a breath and think:  ok, let’s make a plan.  What are you going to do?   All I could think was:   I’ve got to get out of here!  I suppose the worst-case scenario is I’m here for 24 – 32 hours until someone comes home.  I look around.  I would have nothing to do!   No phone, no tv, no radio, no books, no… nothing.  Except the wine rack… NO.  I have to get out of here!  I won’t make it solitary!  This is why I don’t commit crimes (among many other reasons).   

I look around.  What materials are here that I can use?   What else can I do?   WAIT!  Is that a paperclip on the floor?   Get OUT!   I grab it, run up the stairs.  I’m going to jimmy this lock like they do in the movies!   Come on paperclip, get it done!   

I have no jimmy-ing skills.  None, zip, zero.   I’m still locked in the basement.    Why didn’t I ever learn how to pick a lock??   Maybe I can Google how to pick a lock!   Note:  you can!   If only I had my phone, which is in my bag on the kitchen counter.   Damn it!  

I take another look around.   People kick doors with locks open on tv all the time!  It’s just as easy as using the paperclip, which I’ve shown no ability to do.  However, the door is directly at the top of the stairs.  I visualize myself kicking, then falling backward down the stairs, being found days later in a pool of my own blood.  This is undesirable. 

It’s ok.  This isn’t happening.  I am NOT locked in the basement. 

I return downstairs and up the ladder again to look out the window.  So peaceful, the snow is slowly falling, creating a winter wonderland.  Maybe a neighbor will stroll by and I can yell to them.  Maybe that neighbor will be the one I know also has a key or will be able to get that neighbor.  The snow comes down and all is quiet.  I watch quietly for a few minutes.  It’s entirely possible no one will come by for hours and hours and hours and hours!   It’s snowing.   Did I mention we were about to get 8 – 12”?   Everyone is inside, buckling down.  Not outside, wandering about in case their neighbors’ crazy friend has locked herself in the basement and is now yelling out the window for help.  

Eventually I’m going to have to go to the bathroom.   Don’t think about that!

I return to stare at the smaller window.  Nope. Still not going to work. 

That’s it!   I’m getting out of here!   I’m going to have to break that friggin’ lock.  What can I use?    I return to the tool room.   My hands fly everywhere. Tool drawers!   Display like thing guys use to hang up tools!  Shelves. So many options!   Pliers, that thing you use to scrape off paint, metal things that I don’t know what they are, screw drivers.  Screwdriver?  Can I just unscrew this MF?   

I can’t just unscrew the MF.   Which makes sense.  If you could, it wouldn’t be much of a lock, would it?   So I go to work on the lock.  I can DO this!   I’ve never, not one time, seen MacGyver… but I have seen MacGruber (the skit, not the film.  Come on, give me some credit).  I can DO this.   Whatever this metal stick is with a hook like thing on the end, I can use it to pry the lock off.   What if I break the lock and it’s not un-lockable?   I’m in no worse shape than I am now.  I’m getting out of here!!   I pry and pry and pry and pry.  

The phone rings upstairs.  It’s probably my friends asking me if I’ve died.  I wonder if the alarm company has alerted them that someone is breaking this dumb lock.  Could it be?  Could they call someone to get me out?   No, I turned off the alarm when I came in.  The phone stops ringing.  Sigh.  I look at the lock.  You flimsy little thing.  I can bust out of this.  I can DO this!   I pry and pry and try the screwdriver and return to my new best friend, the metal thing with the hook ending.  I jiggle and pry, then pry and jiggle the lock around.  I rip part of the door around the knob off.  Whoops!   Amazing the door seems only solid right around the frame and knob.  They don’t make things like they used to.  Even in crisis, a cliché is no help.   I jiggle, I jangle, I bang I push and voila!   The lock gives just enough to let me out.  

PHEW!   

I’m NOT locked in the basement!  I won’t die in the cold, alone on a basement floor after only drinking wine for 24 hours and having nowhere to go to the bathroom!    

I am motherfucking MacGyver!   

And that is how you go from dumbass who doesn’t check if a doorknob is locked to MacGyver. 

 p.s.

See…it really was ok.  This didn’t happen.  I was NOT locked in the basement.   Except that I was and I figured out how to get out by busting stuff up.  Feminism!   Safety locks are for dudes!