Friday, October 17, 2008

Sorry, Lovey - It's My Turn

Whenever we get a really cute picture of the monkey from day care, I dutifully extract it from the document it's in, re-size it, and send it to Lovey for posting on her blog. Not today.



Sorry, Lovey. I couldn't resist this one. Good lord, I love that child...

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Old Office is New Again

Last week was the first one back in my regular office after it underwent a much-needed and much-appreciated face-lift. I've yet to move everything back in, which meant it was the perfect time to take pictures. That way, I can remember how lovely it was before I junked it all up again. Seriously, though - it's so nice now that I will have to make sure to take the time and keep it orderly. If you never saw it prior to the remodeling, these pictures won't mean a whole lot to you (and I of course forgot to snap a set of "before" shots). But for those of you who remember what it looked like, you may not even recognize it as the same office.

From the Door

My Desk - Before it Gets Bad

Wide View - Left Wide View - Right

New Bench - Left Side New Bench - Right Side

The Beast's New Home

Looking Out

The entire set of photos is posted on Flickr, along with comments that will likely bore you to tears. I'm excited, though, and had to share. I also want to say that Charlie, the staff member who re-did the room, does fantastic work and I'm forever indebted to him for taking great care in making my office not only look great, but also for making it a much more functional space. If you're in the area, you should stop by and see it, along with the rather large smile on my face when I'm in it.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Ah, the Joys of Being Tall...

I'm 6 feet, 4 inches tall. Honestly, I don't think that's particularly tall, but then again, I can go for days without seeing someone else as tall as me. For the most part, it's a pretty good gig, and here's a far-from-comprehensive list of reasons why:
  • In a sea of people, it's easy to find me. (Sometimes, a down side...)
  • At movies, concerts, etc., my view is very rarely obscured by the person sitting in front of me.
  • There is something to people having to literally look up to you.
  • I can store things on the top shelf without a step stool.
  • Changing light bulbs - no problem.
  • Dana likes that she can wear heels and I'm still taller than her.
  • Pretending that I didn't see someone because I wasn't looking down has actually worked.
  • My reach is absolutely phenomenal. If, for some reason, you think you need to run away from me, it will take you longer than usual -- and our daughter hasn't quite figured that out, yet.
There are plenty of things about being tall that aren't so great, but the one that always stings worse than the rest is the absolute dearth of clothing out there made for people my size. Now, before you start in on the "Oh, nothing ever fits me, either. I'm right in-between sizes, so things are either too big or too small, too long or too short" comments, just stop. Because for me, it's all too short. That's right, all regular sizes are too short for me. So, if you're between sizes, you can bite me, because you can get something too big/long and have it taken in/hemmed. I, on the other hand, cannot break the laws of physics and magically make things longer. I just can't find clothing that will fit me in an everyday store. With one notable exception - jeans - for which I'm thankful, but I need more than jeans in my wardrobe. Regular sizes of mens pants almost always max out at a 34 inch inseam, and mine is 36 inches. Regularly sized tailored shirts max out on a sleeve length of 36 inches, and mine is 37. Yes, you're allowed to laugh at my ape arms, but remember the reach thing. In jackets and overcoats, I'm a 44 extra-long. And in the world of S, M, L, and XL, I'm a - wait for it... XLXT. That's extra-large, extra-tall.

Oh, and don't even mention "big and tall mens" stores. I've tried them. Apparently, they are quite literal on that, because you have to be both big and tall in those stores. Taking in an inch or two on clothing is one thing. Taking off enough for a second shirt or pair of pants is something else.

To show my age in true grumpy old man style, I will note that back in the 90s, when fashions fit rather loosely, I could get by with regular sizes most of the time. But now that closer-fitting, more tailored looks are fashionable, I'm screwed. And I was reminded of that in a very big way today.

We have a brand new department store in town, and today was our day to go and check it out. As a brief aside, I'll mention that we first went out to find a pair of shoes for me. Shoe sizes aren't a problem for me. With shoes, the problem is that I'm incredibly picky, so I have no one to blame but myself for coming home without new ones. But I will say there's always a small selection of ugly and/or poorly made mens shoes compared to a friggin' smorgasboard of womens shoes. Boooooo! But back to the clothes. I wandered through the mens section of our new store, finding shirt after lovely shirt, great sale prices on good pants, and a jacket or two that I would absolutely rock -- and not one of those items of clothing were long enough. I even tried a couple of things on in the desperate hope that maybe I'd shrunk or this store's clothing ran a little on the long side. No luck.

So... Tomorrow I will likely place an order on-line for some new clothes. I have an old stand-by for my clothing needs that I will not name here, because every time I look through their catalog of tall mens clothes, I really have to hunt for decent stuff. Most of what they have reminds me of a scene from the movie Sixteen Candles, where an exchange student has gone missing and when his clothes are described to the police over the phone, the next line you hear is "No, he's not retarded." Great stuff. So if you ever think that I seem to have one or two outfits, just in multiple color combos, you're probably right, and that's why.

I'll tell you what, though. Come hell or high water, I'm going to find a pair of shoes that I like...

Friday, October 3, 2008

It Never Fails...

Since becoming parents, our restaurant adventures have been drastically reduced in number -- particularly those of the "dine in" variety. Now that our little one is 2 years old, we're trying our luck at taking her out for dinner every once in a while. In doing so, we've discovered why chain restaurants serving bland fare are so popular: you always know what you're going to get, and young children will actually eat it. But I digress...

Tonight, we needed to run an errand immediately after work, destroying any hopes for a home-cooked meal that could be prepared and eaten within the little one's tight schedule. Trying to push that schedule back always ends in disaster. That would be the "so tired I'm going to cry about everything that even slightly varies from my usual routine" kind of disaster, which inevitably leads to the "what the hell were we thinking" moment of revelation once she's fallen asleep. We decided that our best bet was the local Ruby Tuesday, as we know the little one likes their grilled cheese sandwich and there's the bonus of edamame on the salad bar (she could eat her own weight in that stuff). And I have to admit, since they recently changed their look and menu (see the link), the place isn't half bad for a chain restaurant.

We arrived, were seated immediately, and things moved quickly enough that there was no down time for someone to get all fidgety. Edamame was consumed at an incredible rate, and our meals arrived at the table quickly. It was the model meal for a family with a toddler. And then it happened...

Some incredibly self-important prick with no internal filter to keep him from spouting endless story after boring story about himself, spoken at a volume loud enough for people to hear in the neighboring counties, began to drone on and on to his unsuspecting dinner companion about nothing of consequence, whatsoever. I looked over at their table at one point, and Mr. Wonderful wasn't even looking at his friend, who appeared to have slipped into a catatonic state, judging from the blank stare on his face. For a moment, I thought the poor guy was going to start drooling. His jaw had gone slack and the glaze over his eyes made me think of doughnuts. But Yappy McChowderhead just kept on going like an insurance salesman with a bullhorn.

And then it all came back to me. Since we first started dating, this same thing has happened to us pretty much every time we've gone out for dinner. Is this really a widespread problem, or do these assholes just lay in wait for us, then pounce and request the table next to ours?

I actually have a great way to deal with people like that, but I'm not quite brash enough to do it a lot. I have, on a handful of occasions like this, exclaimed in an equally loud and obnoxious voice, "OH, DON'T GET ME STARTED ON ANAL WARTS." It does the trick every time. But now, we have a small child and live in a small town. I don't need my daughter asking me what anal warts are, and I don't need to establish a reputation as "that guy who apparently has warts on his butt and was talking about it in a restaurant."

So I'm asking you, gentle readers, for suggestions about how to handle such a situation. I'm content to let them be as long as I can tune out the conversation, but tonight I couldn't even maintain my train of thought, the guy was so loud. What do you do when faced with such a conundrum, or what successful tactics have you observed? Please share your thoughts in the comments, and thank you ahead of time for what I'm sure will be an entertaining and helpful read.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Flip-Flop? I Somehow Doubt It

Am I the only one who remembers four years ago when flip-flopping was considered a bad thing?

Now, as then, I think the ability to re-evaluate one's position on an issue and determine that a change in stance is in order is a sign of thoughtful intelligence, not weakness. Unfortunately, I'm more than a bit skeptical that John McCain is really ready to hop on the regulation train. Such an alteration in one's fundamental ideology is rare, and often involves other noticeable changes, such as going from the name Saul to Paul.

Even if McCain were truly ready to embrace the kind of regulation he's eschewed throughout his career, it's probably too little, too late. 4 years too late, to be specific. 2004 is when the SEC decided that it was o.k. for 5 firms (Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley) to increase their debt-to-net-capital ratios from the legal limit of 12:1 up to as high as 40:1. While that isn't the only bad decision leading to the current descent of the U.S. economy to the level of a steaming pile of poo, you really have to consider that maybe it's the biggest one. How many of those firms are now defunct? And what will their demise cost us? It looks like about $2.300 per person if this bailout goes through.

I'm a pretty average middle-class kind of guy, and $2,300 sounds like a lot of coin to me. That's $6,900 for my little family of 3. Perhaps we need to find a job for the 2-year-old. Yet, our contribution to that $700 billion bailout is chump change to the very people who will benefit from it. What's wrong with this picture? And why, when my wife and I have made sure that we haven't taken on more debt than we can handle, are we as taxpayers expected to bail out lenders who couldn't use the same sound judgment?

Yes, more regulation is needed. We've needed it all along, not just at this critical time. Deregulation of financial markets breeds greed, and that greed leads to incredibly unsound decision-making. It's like getting a gambling addict drunk, handing him a couple of Benjamins, and walking him in to Harrah's. The chances of him striking it rich and sharing the wealth with you are pretty slim because the odds are stacked against him from the get-go, plus you'll likely never get your initial investment back, either.

Lastly, here's the biggest reason why I honestly can't buy John McCain's conversion to the Church of Regulation: The Keating Five scandal. The deregulation leading to the S&L failures of the 80s helped to get McCain in some very hot water. If that scandal didn't make him think twice about the importance of regulatory oversight, I don't think anything will.