Sunday, October 31, 2004

The Happy Working-grounds

Brought some work home this weekend. As I sat at my home PC, typing away at a decent clip, I noticed several things. My phone did not ring. I received no email. I heard no distracting noises. No one came to see me. I found these non-events to have a positive impact on my work. This led me to the natural conclusion that so many of us are coming to in this modern era: I should tell my boss I want to work from home.

Imagine it! I could still check my email via the web portal. I have a home phone. I have been tethered with a work pager. Set up one day a week as Alex-works-from-home-you-losers Day and watch in bewilderment as my productivity soars! A full day with no meetings, and during which I decide how available to make myself. I swear I could do a week's worth of work in a single day if loosed from the cube.

Here's the thing. What am I doing right now? Does this look business-related? That Xbox sure doesn't either. I have a feeling the "just one more level" lunch-break would be the end of my career.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Blown to smithereens

On my way to a Halloween party. I'm going dressed as the Invisible Man. I have three primary concerns:

#1 - Comfort. Just how long is it going to be before I turn into Formerly Invisible Man?
#2 - Vision. Dark glasses + bandaged face + Halloween decor = necessity to find a comfortable seat and stay there. I am good at this.
#3 - Recognition. Not really looking forward to a bunch of people I don't know coming up to me and trying to guess if they know me or not. Also not looking forward to people who know me ignoring me out of shyness / spooked-outedness

Nonetheless, I have faith that this will all work out just fine. Unless a spark from the fire hits the alcohol-laden bandages around my mouth. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Not angelic at all

Somehow, this post is not going to be about the Red Sox. It's not going to be about memories of Boggs and the Rocket from my childhood, about the unparalleled quality of the hotdogs at Fenway, or about the propriety of breaking a curse during a lunar eclipse. No, it's going to be about competition of a completely different, if not totally opposite, kind.

I have this problem with smack-talk. I mean "problem" as used in "drinking problem", referring to an inability to resist which leads to widespread issues in one's life. While I have yet to miss work due to smack-talk or start talking smack first thing when I wake up, I fear for my future.

Now, at this point one might ask "this smack, what do you talk it about?". The answer comes as a single word: Halo. Developed by Bungie, distributed by Microsoft, devoured by the American videogame-playing populace, this title is the new touchstone for games where you shoot your friends again and again. This is where my smack-talk has reached its finest. I don't mean "fine" as in "of high quality", while that is certainly the case. I mean "fine" as in "very small in size, weight, or thickness". The smack-talk becomes so fine it infiltrates your entire surroundings. It's in your hair, in the wrinkles in your clothes. That tickling in your nostrils? It's my smack-talk.

This has gotten me into trouble from time to time. Not bar-fight trouble, as I assume is obvious, but eternal-geek-shame trouble. After all this tooting of one's own horn, one had better be able to put up some big numbers. Fortunately for me, I am.

Just yesterday a friend told me his roommate and another friend had been hitting the Halo pretty hard recently. I promptly instructed him to tell them to call me next time they fire it up so I could show those ladies how the game is played. I may or may not have stated that the way I pistol-whip them will be unorthodox. Today I received the obligatory "heard you were talking smack" email, confirming that a scrimmage would be arranged, and that right quick. Now the quandary -- can I beat these guys? I mean, they're pretty sharp.

I feel confident. After all, I just came out of spring training; I stayed at my brothers place a couple weekends ago. I walked in, and five guys were Haloing it up. And these dudes are turbo-geeks in the way a tsunami is a turbo-ripple. Where do you find a bunch of grown men getting together for some good-natured competition, and where the beer should be only Mountain Dew is found? Where do you see not one, but two Xboxes with the full cast of Red vs. Blue represented? Where do people get verbally abusive when someone brings up the works of Lovecraft, because they're so tired of it being worked into some dice-and-paper game? My brother's apartment, that's where. And thus, where does one go to hone the mad Halo skills? I think you know. If I could hold my own there, I can talk as much smack as I damn well please.

Note: I almost made it five whole days without talking about videogames. Stand in awe.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Parking Paranoia

My issue is two-fold. I have no memory, since I rarely pay attention to what I do. Also, I appear to have some kind of issue with spatial relationships which prevents me from parallel parking in anything remotely resembling a timely fashion. These do not combine well, especially when it comes to locating my car.

Since I have troubles parking, I often end up farther from my home than makes sense to normal people. When I do finally park, I am inevitably lost in thought and the surroundings of the vehicle do not make into long-term memory. Thus, even the smallest of errands becomes an adventure, each beginning with the fabled Search for the Grand Am. On any given morning, my car could be anywhere in a half-mile radius.

This has led to many near-fatal events, to date all of which have entailed my heartrate steadily increasing as each step fails to put a silvery bumper into view. Clearly someone stole it. They ignored the Club and took off with my ride. Did I forget to lock it? Where's the number for my insurance company? Did I remember to renew it? Did I leave my PDA in the glove compartment? Could some vagabond have absconded with all of my valuable personal contact information? I knew I should have set a password! Et cetera.

Now, you may ask why I don't just hit the keyless entry and look for the blinking headlights or the popped trunk. I might even hit that red button with the bugle on it; to Hell with the neighbors! This seems like a fine plan, but I remind you, gentle reader, that these contraptions only work for like forty feet. A friend of mine recently showed me the "head-antenna" trick, which extends the range a bit at the cost of only two childhood memories per use. Even with this, my car is almost surely out of range. I am doomed to tread the byways and lots of this Earth for all of my days.

Fortunately, I am sure to be thinking of something more interesting at the time.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

The theme song is now stuck in my head.

Can anyone explain to me why the unflappable stick of gum in the Extra commercials has a Scottish accent? We all know accents are funny, but Scottish? Are the Scots known for their endurance? What percent of the American TV-viewing populace has opinions of Scotsmen which are not founded on Braveheart or Duck Tales? Is Scottish one of the few accents one can use without offending a whole lot of people? How did this brainstorming session go?

"He's gotta have an accent. Accents make people laugh."
"Pakistani? People love Apu..."
"Surfer. I say surfer. You know, like 'gnarly dude'."
"I know what 'surfer' means. Don't surfers 'crash out' or something, though? We don't want our product associated with crashing. Out."
"It's 'Scottish'."
"Yeah, whatever. He can call people 'lassie' and stuff."
"Great thinking, Wilson!"

I really wanted to put the term 'caber toss' in there somewhere, but I couldn't work it out. Sorry, folks.

Monday, October 25, 2004


I had a meeting at 7 in the AM today. As you may have guessed from the fact that I am commenting on it, this is highly unusual. I watched four slightly different riffs on the same software demo for five and a half hours straight. Perhaps not surprisingly, I drank way too much coffee. Here's what I remember:

6:45 - Best parking spot of my career.

7:00 - Enter the meeting, wondering why in the name of all that is just there's no coffee.

8:00 - Done sucking down the instant coffee I brought from home. Nervous about the future.

9:00 - Session 1 ends. Coffee has arrived. Take back all the awful things I thought about the meeting organizer. Okay, almost all.

10:00 - I make a bet with myself to see if I can hold still for five minutes. Forget about the bet completely fifteen seconds and three pants adjustments later.

10:03 - Remember the bet. Wonder what I've been doing with my hands. Peer over my shoulder anxiously to see just exactly who now knows I'm a complete lunatic.

10:06 - Can no longer even pretend to hold still. Try breathing deeply to relax. Begin to have difficulty keeping my eyes open. Start holding my breath, unsure if I was holding it before.

10:10 to noon - No idea.

12:10 - Note that the time passes faster when I breathe deeply. Wonder if that means I was asleep.

12:25 - Bolt.

Sunday, October 24, 2004


Last night, as I watched Game 1 of the World Series, a commercial for some bank came on. This guy went around to people's desks showing the audience all the cool stuff the bank's new ATM's can do. He then showed someone dragging money between accounts with the touchscreen and said, "Would you like a bank that can do that? We're working on it." Not two seconds after, some IT guy somewhere dropped his Heineken and screamed to that friend of his who likes baseball, "What?!?! Working on it?!?! That's my project! We're in early development and he's demoing the product during the WORLD SERIES?!?!? You know what he just showed the world? A slide from Steve's Powerpoint presentation!" The last anyone has seen of him was the jittering of his hand as he read a new text-message on his pager while slamming the door to his Pontiac Vibe. He accelerated rapidly, and plateaued at 35 mph.