December 04, 2001
So, as I've been looking for new ways to pay the mortgage, one of the ideas I've been considering is running seminars. Alas, it turns out that a friend of mine from way-back-when has beaten me to the punch. Here's the line-up for his proposed seminar schedule this year. He's got the right idea, I think: teach the people what they want to know, and charge a lot of money to do so.
Please note: his seminar line-up is not for the sensitive or the squeamish. Reader discretion is advised. Void where prohibited by law; especially in Georgia and Utah. Take only as directed. Your mileage may vary, some restrictions apply; see dealer for details. Tax and license fees not included. Close cover before striking and shake well before opening. Offer good only while supplies last at participating McDonald's.
December 06, 2001
Last week, I wore a tie for the first time in roughly three years. Here's the last known picture of me wearing a tie before last week. The photo was taken at a "morale event" that I had organized for my fellow teammates back when I was working for a software company based in Redmond. That was, as I mentioned above, three years ago.
This event (the one three years ago) was at the most posh restaurant (or one of the most posh, at least) in Seattle that encourages its patrons to wear ties. In Seattle, everything is very laid back. In Boston or New York, the equivalent restaurant would not only require you to wear a tie to enter, they would require you to wear a tie just to phone in the reservation. And, if you weren't wearing a tie when you phoned in the reservation, they'd provide one for you to wear before they'd even let you state your desired time and size of party.
But in Seattle, the swankiest of the swank (this fine establishment is the el Gaucho, by the way) encourage you to wear a tie. A small group of friends and I had gotten into the habit of frequenting this establishment on a regular basis (twice a year or so) as a means of celebrating and cherishing the quality of life that we aspire to. Alas, life has been very good to me -- which is by way of saying that I've been well fed these past few years, and not to say that I'm any wealthier now than at any point since I graduated from college -- and I've put on a few pounds. Well, more than a few. The next time that I went to dine at el Gaucho, I couldn't fit into my suit. So, I ditched the suit and tie, wore a nice (and newer) shirt and a comfortable pair of khakis, and I've never worn a tie to the Gouch, or on job interviews, or anywhere else, ever since.
Where was I?
You will note in this photo that I wasn't tie-friendly, even three years ago. Those who knew me in the early nineties will recognize that very tie: I'd bought it shortly after I'd finished college so as to have it for a wedding (my sister's, I think). I figure I got about eight years of use out of that tie. Heck, as ties go, I still like the pattern, even though I'm sure it's way too skinny a tie for today's standards.
But it's a tie, and therefore to be hated, accordingly. It's uncomfortable, and a symbol of 'selling out'. I'm not opposed to selling out, I'm just holding out for a better price. As soon as the price is right, I'll be glad to wear the busineman's symbol of the ball and chain. But, well, my price is higher than anyone's been willing to pay. That's why I've spent so much time in the software industry; the pay is generally decent, and the standard uniform is t-shirt and jeans.
Nonetheless, despite my dislike of wearing ties and my ever expanding size, I finally had to break down last week and buy some new clothes that fit me... including a tie. I was preparing for a few upcoming events in which I will be facing audiences (see my previous entry on seminars :-), and I wanted to look nice. I wanted to look a little more... stylin'.
Since I had a business function to attend last week, I decided to use that as a testing ground for my new look. As you can see in the photo, I still don't wear ties terribly well. I guess I'm just not destined to be a master of fashion.
December 07, 2001
Well, it wasn't a lie, exactly. It was an error of omission.
I had forgotten, when I wrote my previous entry, that I have worn a bow tie on two occasions during the past couple of years. Special thanks to Matt -- a lawyer, of course -- who pointed out the error of my previous claim that I hadn't worn a tie in three years.
Here is a picture of me at Dustin's wedding in September of this year. As you can see, the bow tie doesn't make me look anywhere near as awful as the green necktie last week did. In fact, I'd say the bow tie makes me look rather svelt, relatively speaking.
Fortunately, no photos of me wearing a tux and tie at my own wedding survived.
So, what do you call a standard business tie that isn't a bow tie? I mean, if I had said "neck tie" in my last post, would you have understood that I wasn't including bow ties? Hmmmm.
Either way, I hate ties.
December 12, 2001
I recently flew from one end of the country to the other. One end of I-90 to almost the other end of I-90. Here are some tidbits about flying in America in December, 2001:
1) The airport is a very spooky place. When you have only a handful of people in a facility that's designed to handle thousands at any given time, it's just plain eerie.
2) Lots of people in uniform. Cops. Sheriffs. Soldiers in combat fatigues. *That* is spooky, too. Welcome to your police state, Mr. and Mrs. American. Thanks for trading my freedom for your sense of security.
3) Checkpoints. Have ID on you at all times; you will be asked for it frequently. Show it, but don't hand it over. Every time someone asks to see your pass, as to see their credentials. I was reminded to do that by one of the guys at one of the checkpoints, which was funny and ironic and sad all at the same time.
4) Checkpoints, part II: you're checked at the check-in counter, checked on the way to the metal detector, checked by the metal detector (and, this is no lie: the detector is set to go off if so much as a zipper from your pair of jeans passes through it), checked by the hand held detector wands, have your personal computer checked separately, have your computer bag checked for nasty residues, and from that point on, it's pretty routine.
5) Computers: your computer will be run through the big scanning machine separately from your computer bag. At least they put it in it's own little tray, to make you feel safer about it. (I backed up my hard drive before flying, having heard about this new practice from a friend who flew recently.)
6) The airport is empty, but the airplane is not. This, I don't understand. Flights are not as crowded as they used to be (nobody's in the middle seats, at least on the flights I took), but they're anything but empty. I was surprised by this, given how empty the airport felt.
7) Airplane food, as bad as it still is, is made even worse by having to use flimsy, flimsy, flimsy plastic forks and even flimsier plastic knives to try to cut it. I think on my next flight, I'm going to consider smuggling some *good* plasticware on board. I don't think it would set off the hand-held metal detectors....
What does all this mean? I don't know. But, I sure don't feel any safer by having men and women in military regalia crawling up my ass just because I want to travel within the nation I call "home." I fear that even darker days are ahead for us in America....
December 15, 2001
We take in what information we can through the filters we've created for ourselves, and ultimately we hear what we want to hear.
A friend of mine pointed out my own filter set shortly after the attack on September 11th. Because he has seen many instances of government cover-ups and other dubious practices, he was inclined to suspect complicity from our federal government in the attack. Because I am a bit jaded on conspiracy theories, I was (and remain) skeptical of his theories.
He brought up the commonly floated idea that maybe FDR knew about the impending attack on Pearl Harbor and allowed it to happen, anyway, in an effort to accomplish a political objective that was not attainable, otherwise -- namely, engaging the US in the war in Europe. I noted that I was skeptical of *that* theory, as well. Then he brought up the point: what if there was evidence? There is some rather vague evidence, as it is, and I told him that I'm not swayed. What if the evidence was stronger? What if we knew that someone had intercepted a Japanese transmission on the subject and reported it to his superiors? Wouldn't convince me. What if we had evidence that his superiors brought it to the attention of a General? Still skeptical. And, so on.
This made me consider a very interesting point: exactly what evidence would it take to sway me that there was, indeed, government complicity in the attack on Pearl Harbor? It would have to be *Very Strong* evidence. HUGE. Why? Because I am dubious of those kinds of scenarios.
Whereas, it would take only a suggestion to get my friend to consider the possibility a *near certainty*. What would it take to convince him that there was no government complicity? An amazing amount. I mean, the evidence would have to be HUGE that other forces were at work, and that the Powers That Be were isolated from participation in the events that led up to the incident in question.
And so we come to the alleged evidence in the case of the so-called "smoking gun tape" of Bin Laden. I knew before it was released that the biggest issue after it was released would be that many people would claim it was a fake. It was inevitable. It's like the Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman murders. There's a segment of the population that will always believe that O. J. Simpson was innocent, no matter how much proof comes to light. O. J. could confess on national TV, and these people would believe he had been coerced, that the confession was fraudulent and a hoax.
Had I been the President of the United States during these trying times, I wonder if I would have released the Osama Bin Laden video tape to the public. I think I would not have. As it is, I expected that releasing it would only add to the mythos that already surrounds Bin Laden; that those who don't believe he was involved would yell "Fraud", and those who already do believe he was involved would remain entrenched in their belief. So, what purpose would it (did it) serve to release the tape? Rather than fan the flames, I think I would have kept it under wraps. Maybe trot it out if Bin Laden ever came to trial, but not before that. By releasing it with the other evidence during a trial, a more compelling and complete picture might have been presented. I don't think I'd have put it out in isolation.
Skeptics on either side of the "is he/isn't he guilty" debate will not be swayed. Ever. I think I'd have just let go of trying to convince the skeptics. Instead, I'd would simply seek getting the best analysis of the data I could to make sure that I'm on the right path toward doing the right things with the right people and against the right people.
Before I go, just one more thing:
O.J. KILLED NICOLE BROWN SIMPSON AND RON GOLDMAN AND GOT AWAY WITH MURDER!
December 20, 2001
My friend Dustin went to a school and then they closed it after he graduated.
I just found out that the school where I'd taught 8th grade math in Medford, MA was not only closed, but *demolished*, soon after I'd left.
Now *that* is how to close a school!
My students will be graduating from high school this June. A very scary thought. :-)
I must apologize for my insensitivity.
I think maybe I'm starting to understand what Jehan has been telling me these past couple of years... that being oblivious to race issues is not necessarily a virtue. I've remained oblivious, as I've argued before (as in, race and gender issues never have an impact on my decisions regarding who I hire/work for/associate with), but this has also led me to do some very stupid things.
I tried to make a point in an earlier essay about flaws in logic. The piece took a few friendly swipes at friends of mine who work in e-tail (many in-jokes that do not warrant elaboration here), who live in Seattle, and who recently travelled in other parts of the world.
But while it might be okay to take jabs at, say, a pilgrimage to Cleveland (sorry, Matt), a known hotbed of credit card fraud (I'm making that up as an example), to do the same with some other specific area of the world could contain racial overtones. To refer to Clevelanders as a whole as crooks is easily perceived as an obvious joke about generalizations; to do the same about the inhabitants of a foreign country, on the other hand, could be construed as being literal. The sad thing is, there are people out there who actually believe such generalizations.
I am not one of them. That's why I make fun of them.
And so, I must sincerely apologize in public for having picked a very poor example when I was trying to make my point about generalizations. I had picked a geographic area that could very easily be construed as being a target of a racially or ethnically motivated generalization. That was not only not my intention, it was the exact opposite of what I was going for.
I was oblivious.
But, I will do better in the future.
December 22, 2001
Uh-oh. I think I'm becoming a grown-up.
The tradition in my family has always been to ask for general ideas (or, even specific ones) of what kinds of things one might like for Christmas. With a very busy season, work-wise, for most of my family, no one has had any real time to go Christmas shopping. As a result, those questions are being asked with a little more urgency.
I keep a running wish list on Amazon.com and CDNow.com to keep track of the material goodies I hope to purchase in the not-too-distant future. Push come to shove, this can act as a kind of idea-generator for people who are looking for gift ideas for me. But, as I ponder the question "what would you like for Christmas?" -- I realize that the things I most want aren't material at all... and can't be granted, anyway. They involve work *I* have to do.
Here's what I want for Christmas, not in any particular order:
* I want to stop putting my foot in my mouth. I don't think I commit these doozeys too terribly often, maybe only once or twice a year, but it's always a spectacular gaffe with spectacular consequences. I want an antidote for foot-in-mouth disease.
* I want to complete my first novel, and I want it to be a work that I can be proud of... and I want to sell it, to a major publisher if possible, *soon*.
* I want to be a better friend to my friends, a better husband to my wife, a better brother, son, grandson, son-in-law.
* I want to become a father.
* I want to win the writers contest I entered recently.
* I want to get a few short stories published this coming year.
* I want my family and friends to remain happy and healthy. Oh, and me, too.
* I want a new Subaru WRX. Or, maybe a Miata.
With the exception of that last desire, these are all more like New Year's Resolutions than they are gifts that can be wished for at Christmas.
So, there it is. I'm officially old.
What's on *your* Christmas wish list?
December 26, 2001
I am going to be difficult to reach for the next few days, and I *probably* won't be able to update my site during that time. In the meantime, allow me to wish you a great ending for the year 2001, and an even better 2002.
And, of course, you can feel free to leave me a message via e-mail, if you so desire.
More news coming as soon as I return. :-)
Copyright (c)1998 - 2010 by Allan Rousselle. All rights reserved, all wrongs reversed, all reservations righted, all right, already.
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