Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

I'll leave you with three thoughts.

First, my friend Kurt put this one out, but it bears repeating:

Second, you'll just have to CLICK HERE and trust me.

Third, I'll leave you with my brother's Thanksgiving poem, which pretty much sums it all up.

We had turkey
We had guests
But we couldn't tell the difference.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Dear Dell: I Hope You Recorded This Call for Training Purposes

So I called Dell looking for information and pricing on a laptop, which I have been needing for work.

Automated Hal, Female version: Blah, blah, blah, blah, Please press 2 to be connected to sales. Press 2.

Non-descript white-sounding woman: Hello.
Me: I'd like to get some pricing information on laptops.
Non-descript white-sounding woman: Sir, this is tech support.
Me: Oh. Well I pressed two because I wanted sales.
Non-descript white-sounding woman: Sir, this is tech support.
Me: Okay. Can you transfer me to sales, please?
Non-descript white-sounding woman: Just one moment, sir.

[Boop, boop, beep, boop]

Me: Yes, I am trying to get some sales information.
Disinterested, disinvested-sounding African American guy: This is not the right department. I'll transfer you.
Me: Wha....???

[Beep, boop, beep, beep]

Indian gentleman: Hello, how can I help you today?
Me: I'd like to get some pricing information on laptops.
Indian gentleman: Oh sir. They have given you the wrong department. I will be happy to assist you by transferring your call to the appropriate department.
Me: But I've been transferred twice already. Can you please make sure I get to someone who can help me with sal....

[Beep, boop, beep, beep]

Me: Thanks.

[Line rings twice, then goes dead.]

Me: The next sound you hear will be Dell losing a customer.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Disturbing News...My Former Employer

So, my former employer, WITF, is not immune to the effects of an economy going south. As a not-for-profit they are perhaps a bit more susceptible to the ups and downs of the economy, and a recession hits them especially hard. The President put this up on the website by way of explanation:

A Message from WITF to our Community
From Kathleen Pavelko, President and CEO

I want to tell you about some important and painful steps WITF has taken to respond to the financial and economic crisis that has now spread world-wide. We’ve responded in our programming, through Smart Talk on TV and the new Radio Smart Talk.

But WITF must also respond as a prudently operated non-profit business.

Although WITF’s revenues were “at budget” through the end of September, the situation has changed with startling rapidity. We reviewed our FY09 budget and concluded that we would face a $526,000 deficit by June 30th if we did not take action to protect the programs and services which are our mission and reason for being. Prudent management and meeting our financial obligations requires us to take action, especially when the economic picture is so uncertain.

Therefore, we developed a new FY09 budget with the goals to:
• Keep our programs and services to you foremost in our minds
• Implement the consequences as humanely as possible.

The plan was reviewed and approved by the Executive Committee of the board. That plan includes $526,000 in cuts in operations and personnel expenditures between January 1 and June 30th. The operations cuts were made in training, travel, dues, subscriptions, maintenance, consultants and hospitality. The difficult decisions involved personnel, which could not be avoided with a deficit of this size.

Virtually all overtime has been eliminated and part time positions will be unfilled or eliminated. One full-time position will go to part time, at the employee’s request. Five full-time positions that are currently empty will not be filled.

There will be 5 full-time layoffs, which was the most difficult decision of all because it affects people who are our friends as well as our colleagues. But every person affected will receive a generous severance package and continued health benefits through COBRA. The layoffs will be effective January 1st.

In addition, all WITF staff members will share in the effort to continue our programs and services by the following:

Health care premiums will increase for all staff members by 50%. The impact on staff will vary according to the health plan they select. All non-union staff, including senior staff and the CEO, will take 56 hours of unpaid leave between December 1 and June 30th. By design, the impact of unpaid time will be largest for those at the higher end of the salary scale and smallest for those at the lower end of the salary scale. We are hoping that members of the union will be willing to join their colleagues in making this a shared sacrifice to protect our mission and service to the community.

In addition to this unpaid time off, the senior VPs will accept a 5% reduction in their salaries from January through June. In addition to the unpaid time off, as the CEO, I will take a 10% reduction in my salary in the same period.

WITF has made these decisions with regret but with the certainty that these steps are necessary and in the best interests of our public service. The recession we are experiencing may not end with this fiscal year and further difficulties lie ahead. Therefore, delay or denial of the financial situation is out of the question.

I am deeply grateful to our staff for facing this challenge squarely, and for the personal sacrifice they will be making to protect our programs and services. We are all in this together, which is what will get us through these difficult times and the times to come.

WITF is your public media organization and your place for trusted information and thoughtful discussion. I welcome your comments on this or any other matter related to our service.

I realize there is more the story, but I won't get into all of that here. Suffiece it to say that my thoughts and prayers are with you, my friends.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Team Terri

I have a friend, Terri, who is battling cancer. Somewhere along the line, we ended up encouraging each other through the craziness that a diagnosis brings. I've been looking for and found some inspirational stuff to send her lately, and it occurred to me that she might not be the only person who might enjoy it.

Here's today's offering: What is Your Best?

Yesterday's can be FOUND HERE.

And one of my favorites...


I Have Seen the future...

...and I tremble...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Went for a Walk

Got up early to go out for a walk this morning. Huge pillow-shaped flakes were falling in the light of the streetlamps. It was beautiful.

No bunniez, though. They're waiting for me to start running again, to give me a sporting chance. Or maybe they were camouflaged...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Ankle

Don't misunderstand me. I'm not whining because my ankle hurts. I'm whining because I want to run and bike, and I can't. Which makes me cranky. Very cranky.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Seven Random Things....

There's been a rash of Give Us Random Things About You Tags, so I am just going to get to it before I get tagged. Following here, seven random things about Fish:

1. I actually enjoy daydreaming. There's a side of me that could watch dust motes in sunlight all day. Give me a cup of tea and ray of sunshine, let me blow on a long-forgotten windowsill and you wouldn't see me for the better part of the morning...

2. I like Angry-chick-rock. The angrier the better. Pink, Alannis Morissette,even Carrie Underwood. There's just something fun about a chica who is looking to tear your heart out while singing to you about it. I blame Carly Simon for all of this. You may or may not agree--get your own list.

3. I like watching and studying people. There are two places I excel. One is the bathroom. There is (or should be) a higher set of social mores in place here, and it's often odd to me when people break them. Which stall or urinal to use given a set of parameters (e.g. given three urinals, one of them kid-sized, always go to the outside, normal-adult-sized one first), should you talk or not (please don't, unless you know me, in which case a brief and unenthiusiastic "hi" will be tolerated and returned. A conversation is out of the question, and please don't look at me--eyes STRAIGHT AHEAD), use warm water AND SOAP when you're done (and, it's okay to talk now). Oh, and please, please, please LEAVE THE CELL PHONE OUT OF THE BATHROOM!
Second, I am good at driving and traffic. If you pay attention, you get to know who is going to go where, and why, who is lost, who's a total jerk, and who's just generally clueless. The absolute worst drivers on the road? Moms in minivans...on cell phones. Listen, women can multitask just about anything. My wife can paint her toes, talk on the phone, boot up a computer, balance the checkbook and comb Little Fish's hair at the same time (she would call that a slow morning), but even she acknowledges this is one are women should NOT attempt to multitask.

4. Bad grammar and punctuation bother me. A lot. I make corrections in books. This includes library books. I feel someone else should know how it should have read. I also correct my magazines. Triathlete Magazine has a lot of mistakes. I'm thinking about making corrections and mailing them back to the editors with my business card.

5. Fall is my favorite season. It used to be Spring, but as I get older, I think it's Fall. There is something about when the air turns crisp, the smell of the trees and fireplaces that warms my heart. And, the food of fall is better than Spring. Soup, stew, chili and turkey with stuffing. Just try to top those. See what I mean?

6. I miss my cat, Eddie. He passed away almost a year ago, and I still miss him. It's strange, but he used to sit with me and watch sports (he was a big Philadelphia fan, tolerated the Red Sox and completely disagreed with me about the DH making arguments it was good for baseball), follow me around the house and curl up at my feet at the end of the day. Some days I still look for him. Charlotte and Phineas McLovin are great cats in their way, and I adore them, but they're not my Eddie.

7. I need to update my Life List. I found one I had made a couple of years ago. Somewhere along the lines I accomplished a bunch of them (triathlon, new job, start writing again), and some of the others (own a BMW???) no longer seem important. Weird the perspective time brings, no?

7a. My ankle is still sore and stiff. I am an idjuct. That is all.

So, what's your list?

Saturday, November 15, 2008


I must have rolled it pretty badly, because it is STILL hurting. I went for a run thinking it was feeling better. Oh no, my friends. Not the case at all. So, I'm back to just rolling it and stretching it. Stupid ankles...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

21st Century Koan...

So this guy was arguing with one of his "mates" about whether the he should ride his Look 595 with SRAM Red (a bike that costs more than my first car...and my second...combined) daily. Or, should he not ride it as often to "save" it. Here is my answer:

So, in essence, you're asking me if you should ride a Look 595 as a commuter. Before I (re)found my bicycle, I was hopelessly addicted to flyfishing, poring over information like a Deadhead with the newest edition of High Times. I could not read enough or learn enough. I found an author I really enjoyed, named John Geirach, who wrote extensively about his relationship with his best "mate" A.K. Best.

The thing about flyfishing is that it's not dissimilar to cycling in the amount of time, effort and, yes, money one can drop into it. John one day asked A.K., in effect: "If you couldn't fish with the most finely crafted, tightly honed, perfectly made gear in the world, would you continue to fish?" A.K. said that he would not, then returned the question. John said if it were punishable by death, and all the rods were burned, and barbed wire were strung along the streams, he'd grab a pitchfork and some wire cutters and fish by moonlight. That's kind of where you and CS are.

To your question. Should you be riding a Look 595, fully swept with SRAM and all the requisite "bling" to make it a work of art on your around-the-town commute? Should you respect that work of art, recognizing that its very being should be preserved for the long-term, protecting it from the horrors that can befall it in the outside world?

Or, should you recognize that the function of a bike defines its purpose, and that if you fail to use it for its purpose, you relegate its very soul to a realm of less than what it is, in effect destroying its essence by neutering it?

Is that what you are asking? If so, then the answer is MU!

Monday, November 03, 2008


Pumpkin Chase!
I realized I never posted race results. Little Fish and I ran The Great Pumpkin Chase Mile in 9.45. Less than ten minutes for Little Fish = AWESOME! This was out first official race together and I had a great time.

Little Fish made out like a bandit at the raffle after the race. She won a stuffed pumpkin and a bunch of other stuff. I just waited and waited, then finally got called, scoring the one thing I wanted: and extra Pumpkin Chase Shirt (I think they're nice).

The 'Rents
Went home to see my parents this weekend. I am happy to say Mom is doing well. She just keeps on kicking, which is good.

We were coming out of the restaurant, all five of us, and my mom and dad were holding hands. I thought it was cool that they still do that after more than 40 years together.

Yeah, I am still sick. Ankle is FINALLY starting to feel better, but the cold has kicked up to full strength. Home today with TheraFlu and a warm blanket. Other than that, there's not much to but rest and wait it out. I do feel better than yesterday, which is something.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Little Fish is Such a Nerd

Halloween 2008: Chocolate for the Nerds