On Being a Linchpin

Seth Godin - LinchpinThe highest level of management I’ve reached in my career is Operations Manager. It was a tough job, but I was successful. I was good at it. And it was an eye-opening experience for me.

When I started, I had nothing to go on but instinct, and as it turns out my instincts were good. The owner of the company was old school, all numbers. He was cut-throat – making the employees “happy” and “motivated” was my job, no matter what dumb-ass rule or restriction he put into place.

In other words, he didn’t give a fuck. He just wanted people to comply, and if you didn’t, you were out. He’ll find someone else.

Why do I bring this up? I am reading Linchpin by Seth Godin. It is a life-changing book, and not just because it brings to light shit I’ve suspected and known for years. The premise is that American business has trained us to be factory workers; a cog in the wheel so to speak, and business wants it that way. Everything from the creation of Public Schools (in their current form) at the turn of the century on down to the Hierarchical command-and-control business model has been designed to turn us into compliant factory workers. Show up on time, do your work, keep your mouth shut, and keep your head down. Public School in particular, is one giant exercise in learning how to comply. Think about it.

I’ve never fit into that model. I have always had a rebellious spirit, always had a place in my heart for iconoclasts and provocateurs, titles I can only dream of applying to myself someday.

All too often business people “lead” using fear and intimidation, and all too often people are afraid and intimidated. I don’t play that game. I am no one’s puppet. I think for myself.

In my current job, I have fired off e-mails, made phone calls, sent IM’s asking for why some asshole in our company (an equal, no less) is saying “no” to our customers when they should be saying “yes”. I’ve sent countless e-mails at 2 AM suggesting better ways of doing things, some of which go against our current practices. I have had numerous conversations about staying ahead of all my peers in my career development. I ask countless questions to make sure that the delivery of my next assignment is nothing less than perfect. This is what Godin refers to as my “art”. Kind of a cheesy concept if you ask me, but I understand where he is going with it. I am an artist. Artists are passionate; they take risks. All good artists go against the grain.

One would think, after hearing what I just described, you might say, “Oh well, damn Bryan, I want you to come work for me!”

Not most of my bosses throughout my career. Usually, my bosses think I’m a pain in the ass. Why? Because they usually want me to just show up on time, do my work, keep my mouth shut, and keep my head down, because thinking and working outside the box is a risk. With risk brings attention and (deep breath in), the “R” word . . . responsibility. If I take risks, according to our command-and-control expectations, it means that if something goes wrong, my boss has to answer for it, so it’s this Domino cancer-effect of everyone in the chain not wanting to go against the top-dog. If I take a risk and get burned, it’s my ass, then my bosses’ ass for not “controlling” me, ad infinitum until everyone’s whipped into submission. . . .

Show up on time, do your work, keep your mouth shut, and keep your head down.

But, let me tell you this, bosses and company owners: You want a guy like me. Do you really want a carbon-copy asshole just like the last person in that slot?

If you do, it’s quite possible you could be in, what Seth Godin calls, “a race to the bottom”. If you are running a cookie-cutter business where you just have cogs in your company, you are attempting to provide an ordinary service, and you are competing with others who are also ordinary. The only way of competing at “ordinary” is to be more ordinary (read: inexpensive) than the next asshole offering the same shit as you are. You want to be remarkable (another Godin word), and to be remarkable you need to be different.

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The War on Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice Tree Farm

Winter Solstice Tree Farm

So, the wife and I went to find our Winter Solstice Tree this year. It was wonderful. We found the perfect tree, and being thankful to Saturn, I was able to cut it down with little difficulty. It was a wonderful experience. Until I went to pay the good owner of the Winter Solstice Tree Farm (which he had, of course, re-labeled as his “Christmas Tree Farm”). As I paid, he said, “Merry Christmas”. I paused. I was infuriated. And as politely as I could, I said, “Don’t you mean ‘Happy Winter Solstice’?” Based on the look on his face, I might as well have told him I drink human blood. He had no idea what I was talking about. It shows you how oppressed the real “Reason for the Season” has become. When people who provide such a patently Pagan service forget where their tradition really came from, you know our way of life is under attack this time of year. Our more Pagan traditions, such as Christmas trees, ‘ol Saint Nick, hanging mistletoe, time with family, gift-giving, and having feasts, are being oppressed by Christians everywhere.

It started back with the Roman Empire, you know, and continues today. The oppression of our Pagan traditions has been happening for centuries. I mean, let’s not forget that ”Christmas” (I shudder to use that term, dear reader, but I’ll use it because it’s a term familiar to you), was “incorporated” into the Pagan Winter Solstice festivals by the post-Constantinian Roman Empire, as the Roman Empire moved across the globe. Let’s also not forget that the Puritans in America, in the 1600′s banned the yuletide celebration altogether, since they couldn’t find any scriptural proof for it.

Yes, what we now call “Christmas” has a long history that pre-dates Christianity. But, of course, Christians have to put their stamp on everything. “Jesus is the reason for the season.” Is it? I mean, he wasn’t even born in December. How can the days of the Roman Winter Solstice also be the birthday of Jesus? In fact, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that, worldwide, the Winter Solstice was celebrated by many humans worldwide.

And let’s not forget about those god damned Atheists, who want to throw out Winter Solstice altogether. I mean, what right do they have to celebrate Winter Solstice? I’m sure they just think that this time of year is just about science or some crap like that.

Some would say that because the days around Winter Solstice are celebrated by so many people, and therefore can be celebrated in whatever way you see fit, that there shouldn’t be any hub-bub about it. They say we shouldn’t get caught up in the petty bullshit labels that divide us, and relax. It’s a time to “be good to your fellow man,” or whatever. They argue that no matter what anyone calls it, “Winter Solstice”, “The Holidays”, or “Christmas”, anyone can celebrate the universal ideas of giving and time with family. They say that if you want to have Jesus in your Winter Solstice celebration, who cares whether some store uses the phrase “Happy Holidays”, or ”Seasons Greetings”. And they say what difference does it make if the company you work for renames their yearly Winter Solstice Celebration Party to “Holiday Party” instead of “Christmas Party”? It’s still the same fucking lame-ass party. If you want “Jesus” to be part of your Christmas, then who’s stopping you? If you want to dress up as Jesus and run around saying “Happy Birthday to me!” and that enhances your Christmas, you certainly have that right. I’ll keep my mouth shut.

But when the shoe’s on the other foot, and someone else wants to celebrate a more secular Christmas, then that should not offend any Christian, because Christmas traditions are for the most part private anyway. How does a public proclamation of “Happy Holidays” infringe on any Christians rights? I’m not making the connection.

The next time the store Target changes their sign from “Merry Christmas” to “Happy Holidays”, think of two things:

  1. Just think about how we Pagans feel.
  2. When was the last time you celebrated Christ’s birth at a Target?

[Image credit: flickr]

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How Weight Watchers Changed My Life

So fellas, what was your first impression of the title? Did you call me derogatory names? Did you laugh? Why is Bryan talking about meetings of overweight women in spandex and over-sized shirts?

If that’s what you think Weight Watchers is, you should listen up, because when a man of my level of skepticism shows up to praise something I have to spend money on, you might want to pay attention.

I have chronic back problems, specifically Degenerative Disk Disease, and about once a year or so, I have a relapse of pain that likes to remind me of this condition, hence the word “chronic”.

In 2003, during one of these relapses, I had decided that enough was enough. I was the heaviest I had ever been in my life at 216 pounds (which is heavy for a guy at 5’8″), and I had known that there is a correlation between weight and back pain. As a matter-of-fact, I had a doctor tell me that there were 3 things I could do to minimize or prevent these chronic back problems:

  1. Keep my weight under 185.
  2. Exercise and strengthen the core and back muscles to provide support.
  3. Stop smoking cigars and drinking.

Well, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad.

A doctor once told me also that excessive weight means that you might as well be carrying an extra sack of potatoes around 24-7.

I needed to do something fast. I thought about what would be the best way to lose weight. Here it is. You ready?

  1. Eat healthy
  2. Exercise

That’s it. That’s what you need to do. Easier said than done right?

I needed to come up with a plan, either one that I devised (I am not a dietitian), or I would follow some program. I had 3 criteria:

  1. Structure. I grew up in a family where food was important. This is not a critique of my family. Americans in general have an obsession with food, but that’s a different blog post. I had let my over-eating take control and I needed something to help me reign it in.
  2. Simplicity. I have better things to do with my time and brain-power than memorize which fucking food has too much starch, carbs, sugar, fat, fiber, hydrogenated oil, “good fat”, “bad fat”, cholesterol, salt, enzymes, fungus, urine, rat feces or whatever some fad diet tells me I have to or can’t eat.
  3. Permanence. The plan had to be something that I could follow for the rest of my life, not something that I follow for 3 months and then abandon.
  4. Power. I want to continue to eat foods that I want to eat.

Looking at my options, and with a little help from my beautiful wife, I joined Weight Watchers in March of 2003. Since then I have lost 36 pounds and with very little variance have kept it off.

Recently, the Weight Watchers program has placed even more of an emphasis on exercise.

It’s the only weight program I can think of that let’s you eat anything you want, you simply have to limit how much of it you eat. It’s portion control. And it works.

The way I think of Weight Watchers is that it basically puts you onto a food budget. Want to eat steak? You got it. Ice Cream? You got it. You just have to plan for it.

And, no more back pain.

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Stuff I Don’t Believe In

The title says it all. I left out the obvious shit, like Leprauchans, Unicorns, and Santa Claus:

  1. Any God or Gods, personal or Biblical, or any Religion. . . .
  2. (therefore I also don’t believe in) Intercessory Prayer.
  3. Life After Death.
  4. That Human Beings have a “Soul”.
  5. Religious Interpretations or Predictions of an Apocalypse (I have my own take on the end of the world, thank you).
  6. Spirits, Demons, Ghosts or anything else defined as ”Supernatural”.
  7. Bodily Possession by such, as above.
  8. Predestination.
  9. Miracles, as per the official definition.
  10. Reincarnation.
  11. Other-worldly UFOs.
  12. Alien Abductions.
  13. Crop Circles being created by aforementioned Aliens.
  14. Psychic Powers of any sort.
  15. Astrology.
  16. The Loch Ness Monster.
  17. Bigfoot.
  18. Most Conspiracy Theories.
  19. Most Alternative Medicine Remedies.
  20. Out of Body Experiences.
  21. Transubstantiation.
  22. Creationism or Intelligent Design.
  23. Magic.
  24. Graphology.
  25. Dowsing.
  26. That Vaccinations by and large cause any form of illness.
  27. Fox News is “Fair and Balanced”.

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Driving Tutelage

Driving while putting on lipstick and talking on the phone.

Safe Driving

Driving on a busy road, these are some things I’ve learned.
I do not suffer from road rage, rarely wish anyone dead, or make my issues anyone else’s on the road. I also do not think I am invincible and think my driving skills can get me out of any mess. I thought that way once, and not 30 seconds later I was T-boned by a moron running a stop sign.
I realize that for many of us, Drivers Education was a long time ago. Even for those fresh out of high school and behind the wheel, those classes are distant memories. Those youngin’s will learn with practice and experience, and the car will truly become an extension of themselves. Most of the people I encounter on the roads have been driving for years, and that extension is complete. Some believe their extension enhances their male prowess, but us realistic drivers get a good chuckle out of them and inwardly shake our heads in pity.
Because DE is so far in the past, most hit the road with their extension in the same way they go through their lives: careless, self-involved and oblivious. Do I write this as a driving elitist? Definitely not. I fall prey to the mistakes any driver makes, but am cognisant of the fact that I’m piloting almost 4000 lbs and a stupid mistake could cost lives.
Others behind the wheel don’t care, think they are impervious to mistakes, feel deserving of the road as theirs, or are just plain idiotic in their lives.

So I’ve learned much over the years, and I’m trying to help those less fortunate with some simple guidelines:

  • On an on-ramp, you do not have the right of way over those that are doing 65 on the highway.
  • The left lane IS for passing, do not drive the speed limit, or anywhere close to it, when in the left lane.
  • Do not use the shoulder to pass all of us people that are sitting in the traffic, you are not better than any of us, douchebag.
  • Get off your damn cell phone if you can’t drive straight, it really is that simple.
  • If it is raining, you don’t have to continue to do 75. As an aside, you do not have to go 25 below the limit either. Drive normal, all will be well.
  • Just because you turn your blinker on, does not automatically give you the right to switch lanes when people are passing you by.
  • Motorcyclists, you’re always screaming about respect on the roads, well you’re only going to piss off us car and truck drivers by weaving in and around us by mere inches when we are following the rules, you know, by staying in our lanes in slow traffic.
  • The gist of the word “yield” (verb, of course) is to give way to another. Dictionaries never have stated that it means “To go forward at full-bore and to hell with anyone else around you.”
  • If I am going over the speed limit, passing a line of slower cars, there is no way in hell that I am going to get INTO that slower lane of cars just because you are now driving three inches from my bumper. As an aside, as you can see (because you are driving half on the shoulder to “tell” me that you want to get around me), there is also a car in front of me doing the same speed as me. I will not be an asshole and harass them like you are, so piss off.
  • It’s been covered in so many places before, but why not here? When you’re driving, just don’t put on your makeup, eat, text, read a book, get something out of your eye, fetch your phone from under your seat, apply hair spray, re-program your stereo, rearrange your glove compartment, apply meds to that anal sore, change clothes, masturbate or write notes. Listening to self-help audiobooks on how not to be a dicktard? That’s acceptable, and in your case, mandatory.
  • Laying on the horn for an extended length of time only brings attention to the fact that you are, again, a douchebag. The cause of the issue has already moved on, and you are left with an angry dumb look on your face.
  • If you are behind me, and all of us in front of you are patiently waiting to make a right turn or get off on this exit, flooring it out of line, passing 20 of us, then trying to squeeze back in is just cause for extreme directed hatred.
  • Generally, I do not expect you to blast your way in between me and the car in front of me, so when you surprise me with such creativeness, don’t throw your hands up in surprise when I’m hitting the horn from the shoulder to your left.
  • Driver, please do not be surprised when a Peacemaker pops out of a car window and proceeds to disrupt your pristine paint job with perfect circular holes… perhaps you should not have sent that last text message while you traversed the left shoulder and the two lanes to your right. Just sayin’.

Corollary -
Those people that put the type of car they are driving on their license plate, are dorks.
So Mr. Driver that has “LOTUS X2” on your plate when you are driving a Lotus X2, I don’t care what you are driving, you’re a fucking dork.

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The Not-Sure-Why-I-Bother-With-a-Post-to-Lindsay-Lohan Post to Lindsay Lohan

Grow up you alcoholic whore.

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F is for “Effort”

Apparently there are some New England Schools publishing something the media has dubbed the “Effort Roll”. It’s a list of students who did not make the Honor Roll, but get a pat on the back anyway.

Now, I consider myself a relatively progressive individual, but I believe wholeheartedly and unequivocally that reason and common sense should win out over political affiliation without exception.

I am no parent, but my first real job out of college was teaching English in the good ‘ol American Public School system, and it just so happens I know a thing or two about child psychology.

I hope I don’t need to tell you that this “Effort Roll” is one of the worst fucking ideas I’ve ever heard. Listen up because other than my statement above about reason and common sense, the quote below is the most important thing this post offers:

Self-esteem cannot be given without adversity. It must be built through adversity.

As a blood-pumping human on this planet, one thing life has taught me since leaving the cradle is that I have gained more belief in myself through my failures and pushing past them than I have with the rare successes that just so happen to fall in my lap.

From what I’ve seen, this “Self-esteem as a handout” approach has been around a while and is profoundly effecting our youth in a negative way. That is not how the real world works. The world doesn’t hand you success. If it did, success wouldn’t be worth having in the first place.

Another example of this madness? Kindergarten Graduation Ceremonies. Fucking ridiculous. It’s god damn kindergarten. So, nice job for finding your Cubby every day without pushing Johnny and drawing a mountain with crayons. It must be rough for you parents who actually want to teach self-esteem through adversity.

In Denis Leary’s book Why We Suck, he talks about how there are way too many parents who want their kids to be geniuses, when they are not. His commentary, and I’m paraphrasing here (sorry Denis if I mangle this, I love your work), is you shouldn’t praise your kids for shit they’re supposed to be able to do:

“Look at him, 15 months old and he’s walkin!”

Of course he’s walking. He’s supposed to be walking at 15 months. That’s normal.

If you have a 4 year old who can come up with a convincing and original interpretation of Joyce’s Ulysses, well then, OK, maybe you have something there. Otherwise, if the kid falls within the normal range of performance, then you should accept the fact, that maybe, when it comes to that one thing, your kid might just be (SHOCKER!) . . . fucking NORMAL!

Building self-esteem and letting a child discover their own strengths and talents is a gradual, difficult, and ongoing process. There are very few child-geniuses out there, but everyone has moments of genius or talents that allow them to rise above the rest. But it’s almost always hard work, and one has to want that reward. The real-world makes you work for it, and you do kids a disservice by making them think it can all be handed to them for being normal. It makes them not want to try and whine about it when they don’t get it.

You learn more about yourself when you fail than when you succeed. I hope I don’t need to prove that. And I would purport that proper guidance for a child after failure, rather than just handing them success leads to a more well-adjusted individual.

If the world is really moving toward “Self-esteem (and therefore success) as handout”, then that would be just one more bit of proof that the human race really is doomed.

See you next time.

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NERD ALERT: The “Cloud Computing” Phenomenon

Cloud ComputingThis one goes out to all my geek peeps. Word to your mutha.

For about a year now,  I have been hearing/reading the phrase “Cloud Computing” shoved down my throat flashed unashamedly from top vendors everywhere: Microsoft, Novell, VMWare (particularly VMWare) and Cisco. As a matter of fact, it’s hailed as nothing less than revolutionary, kind of like, as John Stewart has humorously referred to as, vendors “talking about it while hiding an erection.”

Let me give you the best definition I have seen of Cloud Computing, and believe me, I’ve seen a bunch:

Cloud Computing – An approach to computing that leverages the efficient pooling of on-demand, self-managed virtual infrastructure consumed as a service.

Now, that’s all fine and dandy, but I have really struggled with this Cloud Computing thing since I first grasped the concept.

The struggle for me is that I didn’t think it was a big deal (I still don’t . . . sort of). I kept asking myself, “Am I missing something?” Cloud Computing, to me, looks conspicuously like a fancy-schmancy phrase for virtualization, which is nothing new. I have been using virtualization professionally for a little over 4 years now. So, I just don’t understand the hype.

I am not alone in this. Most of my peers have felt the same way, and they just wave their hand at it and affectionately tell me to STFU about it and move on. But, me being the analytical type, I have been on this quest, until recently, to find out what the hype is about Cloud Computing.

In my profession I go to a lot of vendor events. I run into company insiders all the time. I have asked Vendor Engineers (who shall remain anonymous) to give me an example of Cloud Computing. Goes like this:

ME: Can you give me an example of Cloud Computing that makes it different from Virtualization?
Vendor Dude: Sure. You can pool resources together for instant scalability.
ME: That’s virtualization. I’m asking about cloud computing.
Vendor Dude: (looking perplexed) OK. You can utilize your SAN for centralized storage of Virtual Machines for ease of provisioning.
ME: That’s virtualization. I’m asking about cloud computing. What makes cloud computing different?
Vendor Dude: Hmm. Not sure what you mean.

/facepalm

I recently came to a revelation about it at the most recent VMWare Forum I attended.

I’m not fucking missing anything.

Cloud Computing = Virtualization

Now, that isn’t completely true when I say that; I did find a minor difference, but not enough that it isn’t going out on a limb to say that.

Now that we’ve established that, here’s my take on Cloud Computing:

  1. I know I’m bragging when I say this, but the reason why I didn’t see the significance is that I am ahead of the curve in my career. Those of us who have been doing virtualization for a while, have already been using cloud computing for a long time now. Hence we’re so close to it we don’t see the difference.
  2. Cloud Computing is mostly a mind shift in how IT is designed, not a new technology. Most of the technology behind cloud computing has been around for years.
  3. “Cloud Computing” is also a marketing term for CXO’s who don’t understand virtualization. I think vendors got so sick and tired of trying to explain virtualization, they had to change their marketing approach. We all know how much CXO’s love cheesy catch phrases. Think about it, have you ever tried to explain enterprise virtualization to someone who doesn’t even understand the basics of how an Operating System works? But put it into a cheesy catch phrase like “Cloud Computing”, make the symbol for it look like the internet, and talk about the business benefits like, “Instant scalability without additional cost” and they’ll start listening.

But, there are a couple of subtle differences between virtualization and the ultimate goal of cloud computing, meaning virtualization as a means to an end to bring about:

  1. A change in how an “Operating System” will function. It is my prediction that in 5-8 years, what we currently know as an Operating System will be vastly different. OS’s will be far more special purpose, suited to the Application that runs on it. This is already accomplished through pre-built Virtual Machines, but we’re going to see that become far more streamlined. Or, applications will run as detached from an underlying operating system.
  2. User self-management. Currently, setup is done by admins at the request of users. We get a list of all the shit the users need called a “User Requirement Document”, we then go into some dark room and build the infrastructure accordingly. Instead, with cloud computing, we’ll pre-build everything and have it “lie dormant” so to speak on a set of virtualized servers somewhere (hint-hint “the cloud”), provide the users with a web-based interface, and they’ll tick off check boxes of the features they want, click submit, and the cloud will enable these features on the back-end in an automated fashion. That’s the software-as-a-service (SaaS) part of Cloud Computing.
  3. Further ease of large scale deployments. This is more of an evolutionary concept than the previous two points. This is already accomplished through a bunch of pretty technical concepts like primary data deduplication on the SAN, and automated deployment tools. I have seen enterprise environments that can roll out 500 virtualized desktops and the user accounts that go with them in 8 minutes. This will become a lot more mainstream as the technologies mature.

So there you go, you now have some cool catch phrases and acronyms with which you can impress people at parties. Don’t ever say that GUAC isn’t informative. :)

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Lists and Rodeos

Rodeo

This cowboy better stand up very soon

I have crossed something off my list, a list I didn’t realize I had.  This List has no name.

Some have a Bucket List; that list, either written or in mind, that contains the things that one wants to accomplish before they leave this mortal coil… or kick the bucket as they say.  A few things I have been able to cross off my list, some even before I knew I had a bucket list have been things like:

  • Descend into the Grand Canyon (in my case, by helicopter)
  • Fly an airplane (thanks Bill!)
  • See an active volcano – check twice (different volcanoes)! Once I flew to the volcanic peak via helicopter.
  • Drink a Guinness IN Ireland – if you want to be technical, I crossed this off multiple times in the course of six days, but we don’t need to be picky.

Then there are things you wind up doing in life that you don’t ever expect to do, but have that “wow” factor.  These are things that you never think about doing, have an urge to do, or even think that you might some day get to do if the opportunity comes around.  These are the mysteries that life holds for us around corners. Life’s little enigmas, if you will.

The item on my Enigma List (a name!) that I crossed off was: Attend a Rodeo.

Now, you do not know much about me, I’m sure, but a rodeo really is the perfect thing on my personal Enigma List.  This is for many reasons:

  1. I live in New Jersey. Yes the state with the reputation for big hair, plenty of beaches, industrialized towns, chemical landfills, the Mob and those morons from the reality show.  I don’t live in Texas, Oklahoma, etc.
  2. I don’t watch NASCAR, work with livestock, or listen to either of the associated music,  Country OR Western.  I’m not judging here in any way, they are just not my thing.  I watch football, work with computers and listen mostly to rock.
  3. I don’t have big belt buckles, a plaid shirt or a cowboy hat.
  4. I don’t chew tobaccy.

There is a rodeo in southern New Jersey called, wait for it… Cowtown Rodeo.  This is serious.  I heard about it years ago when I moved down here, but just kind of thought the whole thing was a guy named Jim with chaps and a lasso who had an aged horse and sickly cow. Oh how I was wrong.

This thing has been going for over 50 years, and from what I understand, is on the national rodeo circuit, or something. They do all the things that I saw on TV when I was a kid: bull riding, bucking bronco riding, steer wrestling, calf roping and abusing, steer rasslin’… maybe I have the names of some of them wrong, but come on give me a break!  They even had a rodeo clown of sorts out there, mic’d up, to entertain the crowd.  This guy was supposedly famous and from Wyoming.  Something odd was when he started talking about the Philadelphia Eagles trading away our starting quarterback, Donovan McNabb to the Washington Redskins.  At that moment I truly felt like I was in some kind of twisted dream sequence on Hee Haw.

The whole thing was the suggestion of one of our friends and it snowballed from there.  All in all, four families headed over.  I really don’t have enough space here to explain how many oddities I witnessed on that night.  The mosquitoes were the only bit of normalcy I do believe.

First thing that hit me was the damn cost! We could have gone to a Major League Baseball game for the same cost that night. But the difference was, you could bring in a cooler of your favorite beverages! How, you ask?  Well, you know at the airport before you check in at the counter, there is a size measurement for your carry-on?  You have to make sure your carry-on fits in there, or it has to be checked.  Well, the rodeo had that for coolers.  The cooler had to fit in, or you couldn’t bring it in.  Nice.

There were cowboys everywhere. The hats were on, the plaid shirts were blazing, the buckles were huge and the jeans were painted on. I felt very out of place in shorts and sneakers.

There was a guy on a folding chair drinking a 40 of beer, who, about halfway through, went into his cooler and took out a bag of Godiva chocolates.  I mean what’s a better compliment to Bud than truffles?

picture on live bull from rodeoAll of the signs were blaring with painted letters on plywood or cardboard. From the front entrance costs, to the “Sandwiches” and “Fixins” signs at the food booths, to the sign trying to sell you a bull. OK, quick explanation here. There was some huge ass white steer that you could pay $8.00 to sit on and get your picture taken with.  Yes, $8.00.  Anyway, a sign was next to him saying that the steer and the whole photo setup was for sale, “Serious inquiries only.”

After several hundred mosquito bites, and about a hundred dollars’ worth of cowboy hats, funnel cakes, popcorn and drinks for the kids, we headed out at the Intermission.  We left partly because it was getting late, and the kids needed to go to bed soon, but that wasn’t all.  Mostly it was because our wives cheered loudly during the calf roping portion.  Not in the traditional rodeo sense, but instead every time the sprinting calf escaped the lasso and wasn’t violently yanked to the ground.  This, to rodeo attendees, is like a New York Giants fan coming into the Philadelphia Eagles stadium and cheering loudly if the Eagles fumble the ball.  Let’s just say I thought some drunk cowboys were going to hogtie us.

All in all it was an adventure and a good time. It was the people I went with that made it a great time.  Will I go back? Maybe if I tailgate first. But I was able to cross something off my Enigma List.

Oh yeah, I’ve also gone to a Lumberjack Festival, but that’s a story for another time.

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A Long Overdue Rant on Facebook

Part 1 – In the Beginning. So I’ve been on the juggernaut that is Facebook for just over a year now. And it has further solidified my belief that there really is no hope for the human race.

When I first started Facebook, I thought it was a place to wax philosophical, or get at least somewhat intellectual: you know, divulge your own nuggets of wisdom on life.

I now know better.

I’d roll out my thoughts on something deep and philosophical, or make some obscure reference. Here’s an example:

Bryan read some Faulkner yesterday. Yesterday – being cold – bled yellow sunlight across the imitable sky as a hummingbird buzzed languidly – long and desolate – and didn’t seem to mind that the cold was a biting cold, while the trees (there was a forest of them), mocked me silently, and with a building peace, nature went on and on, like ancient clockwork tick-tocking, while I watched the inescapable beauty of it all.

Get it? I made a post about reading Faulkner while using a Faulknerian writing style.

Well, I thought it was funny.

You know how many comments or “likes” I got about that?

One. Because other than my one other intellectual friend on this earth who understood the reference, no one else fucking reads Faulkner anymore and probably doesn’t get it because they’re a bunch of douches.

But, I have found that if you say something as childish as . . .

Doesn’t everyone LOVE Cake??!!! (SMILEY SMILEY WINK WINK)

1,400 comments of “YEA CAKE!!!” and 300 “likes”.

We’re a species of 12-year-olds.

Part 2 – Your Privacy. Let me get this straight. You put your information on the fucking internet and you’re upset because some nefarious individuals are able to see it?

Idiots.

Part 3 – Categories. I know it’s cliche, and I know there’s been 1,800 bloggers (ironically “bloggers” comes up as a misspelled word . . . go figure) categorizing Facebook posters.

But I can’t resist. And yes, those of you who are my Facebook friends **cough** **cough** CHUCK **cough** **cough**, I know I am occasionally guilty of posting movie quotes or inspiration, but these categories are of people who overdo it in each category. So, here goes:

  1. The “Movie Quote” Poster – Be original. Anyone can use Google to find movie quotes to make people laugh. A form of plagiarism to me.
  2. The “I’m Political” Poster – Seriously, Facebook is no place for your political agenda. It makes you look like an asshole, even if your friends agree with you. And on that note, never argue with anyone over politics on Facebook. Even if you’re right. Very few people know what forensic argumentation is, and even fewer know how to use it properly.
  3. The “Look at Me, I’m Religious and Put My Prayers on Facebook” Poster – The only thing worse than being political on Facebook is being religious on Facebook. Instant grounds for defriending in my book. Even worse yet is the “I’m on Facebook to Convert People to my Religion” Poster. Luckily I don’t befriend assholes like that in the first place.
  4. The “I’ve Got My Own ‘Business’ but Don’t Know How to Setup a Facebook Fan Site” Poster – Do not advertise using your normal Facebook logon. Setup a fan site. Otherwise you are basically spamming your friends with shit they’re going to skip over every time it happens anyway.
  5. The “Wisdom of the Ages” Poster – You know, the one who always posts inspiring quotes or reminds you every chance that “Life is short” or some shit like that. Be original.
  6. The “I Need Advice on What Product I Should Get” Poster – This one pisses me off more than any other. Why? Because there are starving people in this world, and for you to ask something so douchey as,

    So, guys, what should I get, The iPhone or The Droid? I can’t decide!!!

    is a slap to the face of every person on this planet who doesn’t have that opportunity. Believe me, not being able to decide about shit like that deserves no sympathy and is even less deserving of an answer.

  7. The “Music Lyric” Poster – No one cares what music you listen to. Your obscure lyrics of some band that reflects how “cool” you think you are does not impress me.

Part 4 – Posts on my Facbook Page that are my favorites – Here are the top 10 in no particular order. I have re-formatted some of them so that they are more readable than on Facebook.:

  1. Bryan had a foreign object removed from his eye yesterday. Here’s how it went:
  2. ME: “Will I need to wear an eyepatch?”
    DOCTOR: “No.”
    ME: “Can you give me one anyway?”
    DOCTOR: “No.”

    True story.

  3. Bryan is watching Chinese Folk dancing. Yes, there is such a thing, and yes, there are dragons.
  4. Pineapples are the flamboyant gays of the fruit world. . . . OK, sorry. I’ll say it in a more politically correct way: Pineapples are the “interior decorators” of the fruit world. Discuss.
  5. Bryan had to drive back from Rhode Island with no windshield wipers in pouring rain. Used only my powers of sight and a GPS. It reminded me of that episode of The Dukes of Hazzard where Bo and Luke Duke were driving the General Lee from the floorboards with a map of Hazard County to fool everyone into thinking it was their ghost. Only it was better.
  6. Two things I heard at the DMV today:
  7. 1. “Why would that be a problem? You lick my feet every night.”
    2. “I want to go to Wal Mart later, but I don’t think I’m dressed for it.”

  8. As a reaction to parental outrage, the Cookie Monster now eats vegetables. This is horrifying. No letter of outrage is needed, just good parenting. For example, when I was a kid, I asked my mom why the Cookie Monster never swallowed the cookies. My mom responded with, “Because he’s a puppet and doesn’t have a throat. Now shut up and eat your carrots.” Parents, that’s how it’s done.
  9. Yet another aphorism: Killing spiders for my wife should be considered as heroic as winning a cage-fighting match or saving a puppy from certain doom.
  10. Bryan has been watching some late night TV. I have realized that the Exercise Industry has been selling some minor variation on the same piece of exercise equipment since 1982. Just goes to show you, yet again, that with enough enthusiasm and a “Money Back Guarantee”, people will buy anything.
  11. Not liking flowers is tantamount to not liking beer or kittens. It’s just wrong and downright un-American.
  12. No matter how different you think it looks, a snake, dragon, or naked lady tattoo looks the same as any snake, dragon or naked lady tattoo ever.

Enjoy.

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