Friday, February 27, 2009

Using a Bazooka to Kill a Mosquito

Were you ever around someone who uses a particular word constantly, and once you take notice it just annoys the hell out of you?

Well, I've noticed a few buzzwords and phrases in the working world that I want to run over with my car. They've sprained my ears, blurred my vision and caused silent rage.

Here are my top 5 offenders:
  • "From a global perspective" = Nails on a chalkboard. It just sounds so lofty and ridiculous. Can we please come up with another way of relating the concepts of "big picture" or "overall?"
  • Utilize - this word should be banned from the English language. There's no need for it. "Use" means exactly the same thing, and it takes up less space and less time.
  • Components - This is frequently used to describe any parts of a greater whole. For example, instead of saying "we'll have talk about that topic later", someone might say "we'll have to address that component offline."
  • And speaking of "offline" ... let's not speak of it. Anymore.
  • Do you have a copy of the document? - Document is used to refer to any piece of paper .... and agenda, a memo, and chart, etc. Why can't you just call it what it is? (OK, not YOU personally .... but think of the word YOU from a more "global perspective" .... ack!) Because saying "send me the document" sounds better than "send me the agenda?" I don't know, but people love to refer to anything as a document. Personally, I'm a fan of specificity.

And here's a bonus extra: "Let's identify the disconnects." This is a combo offender. I probably hear the word "identify" about 300 times a day. It's the same as "find" or "figure out." And "disconnects" is a big way of saying problems, screw-ups, issues, etc.

I had a boss a few years ago that was particularly creative in his use of metaphor and non-traditional business communication. I miss that guy. Not only did I learn alot from observing and working with him, but he was easy to listen to and kept things interesting. One of my favorites was a line he said when telling somebody they were overdoing something -- "you don't need to build a space shuttle to get a glass of Tang." Pretty good, eh?

Inspired by his creativity, I told somebody the other day they were "using a bazooka to kill a mosquito."

Monday, February 23, 2009

Spring, Where Are You?

I really hate those periods of time when it seems like death is looming in the air and lurking around every corner. Unfortunately, this seems to be one of those times. It makes the air feel heavy, like a mid-August day that's 105 degrees with 98% humidity.

Within the span of a week, I'll will attend a second funeral. The first was for the father of my dear friend, Linda. Although I didn't know him, I care very much about her and her family. I didn't know what to do other than show up and say I'm sorry. I sent flowers, which I rarely ever do, because they're sad flowers and smell like death. Not sure why, but for some reason I felt like sending flowers this time -- hopefully they cheered her up a little bit.

This Friday, I'll pay respects for a man from my neighborhood who lost his bout with the lung cancer that had travelled throughout his body. Tony was a very good, decent man -- the kind of person that humbled me just because of the kind of human he was. He was quiet, a veteran, and a true gentleman. I'll miss him, and it's sad to know there's one less good guy on the planet.

Others are sick, and I pray for them to be well. Sometimes I'm not sure anyone is anyone is listening, but just in case I say prayers anyway.

The news, on any given night, seems to leave me shaking my head in disbelief. The headline story is either a senseless murder or another nail in the coffin of our financial system. I know a bad economy isn't the same as losing a loved one, but even if you're not on the brink of financial ruin, it IS depressing to hear nothing but bad news day after day. Especially when people around you are sick and dying.

Anyway, I kept the prayer card from Linda's father's funeral service. The words were neither biblical verse nor traditional, eloquent poetry. Instead, it was the simplicity of the message that stuck with me:

When I am dead, cry for me a little.
Think of me sometimes, but not too much.
It is not good for you, or your wife, or your husband, or your children to allow your thoughts to dwell too long on the dead.
Think of me now and again as I was in life at some moment which it is pleasant to recall.
But not too long.
Leave me in peace as I shall leave you, too, in peace.
While you live, let your thoughts be with the living.

And so I will remember lost friends and loved ones, but I'll focus my energy on loving and cherishing those who are here. Focus on being a better daughter, sister, friend, colleague, person, neighbor, citizen, driver, pinao-player, blogger ... whatever. I can't control the ebb and flow of life and death. I can only control what I contribute, and since I'm not particularly happy with my contributions LTD (life-to-date), I'll work on stepping things up a notch or two.

I'm so thankful that spring is around the corner. Oh Spring, I hope you're around the corner! It's time for you to replace cold, grey, death with your sunshine, life, hope, and warmth.

Maybe I'm totally delusional to hang my hopes of renewed energy and spririt on a flip of the calendar page, but I don't care. Sometimes delusional is fun, and sometimes it's not fun but if it gets me through the lumps, then I'll take a Delusional Super-Sized to go, please.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I'd Like to Give the Academy a Big Razzie

I hereby nominate the Academy Awards show for a Razzie Award. Those are the awards that acknowledge the worst of Hollywood each year. And this show, I'm here to tell you, is one of the worst things I've ever seen.

In all fairness, I haven't watched the entire thing. It's too unbearable, so I've been surfing for the last 2 hours. In 2 hours, I've yet to see one award presented. I've seen comedy sketches, tributes, singing and dancing (which I love, don't get me wrong) ..... but not one award. (Note: Since I wrote that an hour ago, I recently saw Heath Ledger's family accept his award, and a couple of others.)

My point being, most of the show is a big pile of poop and the whole thing could be done faster than one of you-know-who's famous 30-minute meals.

Here are some other Razzie's I'd like to give for worst of Hollywood:
  • Brangelina -- A cheater and a homewrecker, no matter how hot they are and how many kids they adopt.
  • Robin Williams -- Eternally Mork and one of the most un-funny people EVER. I did like a few of his more serious movies, such as Awakenings and Good Will Hunting.
  • Michael Moore & his movies -- I can't stand this guy. He's a self-righteous asshole that takes one side of a story and distorts it so far out of proportion I can only equate his movies to fun-house mirrors.
  • Cloris Leachman -- Please don't ever be on TV again. You stunk on Dancing With the Stars.
  • Paul Shaffer & the CBS Orchestra -- I know you're in New York, not Hollywood, but you get a Razzie from me for the annoying and stale riffs you play to introduce Dave's various sketches. They all sound exactly the same and end with a squealing trumpet. You're too talented to play the same thing every night.
  • Computerized visual effects that have taken over every movie, commercial, and show. Nothing even comes close to looking real anymore. Are stuntmen even needed?
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button -- I'll never see this movie because a.) the premise is stupid (it's a serious "Mork From Ork" for the big screen); and b.) Brad Pitt is a terrible actor; c.) that's a dumb name for a movie.
  • Rachel Ray -- You get a Razzie from me for talking like a 3-year old and never shutting up.
  • Any TV station that has annoying pop-ups that take up half the screen in the middle of a show.

OK, that's just the quick list. Maybe tomorrow I'll focus on stuff I like from Hollywood. I feel like I've been bitching a lot lately.

Friday, February 20, 2009

My Inner Angus Young

Yesterday driving into the parking lot at work I broke one of my own rules -- don't blast music so loud everybody can hear it. Any other time it's okay, but it's not okay to pull up in the work lot with the volume up so high it can be heard through the car windows.

This rule was born a few years ago when I pulled up in my spot rapping along with Eminem to his "Controversy" song. Someone lurking in the spot across from me watched and listened to my best Eminem singalong as I checked my hair and make-up. Let's just say, the guy could rightfully question whether I know the difference between a tube of lipstick and a microphone. No, I couldn't just sing along ... I had to have dance moves, a microphone, facial expressions .... the whole nine yards. How embarrassing.

So after that day, I swore I'd keep a lid on it once I hit the work parking lot.

But yesterday morning, I was flipping the dial and ran across an old favorite -- AC/DCs "Back in Black." I've always loved this song, and it conjured up my inner 80s, head-banging, guitar hero. By all rights, I should've had to open the sunroof to let some of the noise out, but it was great ... even before 8am.

Can you imagine what all of the Dilbert's sitting in their cubicles looking into the parking lot would've thought if they'd seen a girl in her work duds doing Angus Young's famous one-legged hop across the parking lot, complete with air guitar and head-banging? That's what I wanted to do. Then I would've smashed my air guitar against my office door and set off some fireworks to close the show.

Instead I settled for the driver's seat rendition ... head-bobbing and scream-singing.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

You Can't Be Sirius

Personally, I think satellite radio is a big huge ripoff. Why pay for radio when you can get it free? I ended up with XM because it came with my car, and then I was able to continue for a year for $15.

I know, I know .... XM/Sirius doesn't have commercials and they have Howard Stern (like anyone cares anymore) and they play a bigger variety (translate: stuff no one has ever heard before, probably for a reason). Oh, and you can get the stations anywhere. I guess that might be nice if you live or drive alot in the middle of nowhere.

So, tonight on the way home from work I decided I want my $15 back. I heard the most awful song -- yes, even worse than Susudio and Mambo Number 5! It was called "Smack My Bitch Up." It sounded like a combo of 3 things: someone farting into a microphone, banging cymbals and screaming "Smackmybitchup!" The song may be new or it may be 20 years old ... I have no idea. But it was terrible. In fact, it was also worse than the song that was on before it ... Taco's "Puttin' On the Ritz."

No wonder XM's stock is 10 cents a share .... and plummeting.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Setting the Record Straight

Way back in the olden days of 10th grade, my English teacher Mrs. Ohlsson accused me of cheating on our final exam. She was also the drama teacher, and had a reputation for being bitchy, moody, a little crazy and weird. Sounds par for the course for a drama teacher.

Up until this point, I actually kinda liked her. I could identify with bitchy, moody, crazy and weird. She didn't fit the mold of the other teachers and I didn't fit the mold of other students. . She wore big crazy scarves, and shoes that resembled those we all saw adorning the feet of the witch squashed by Dorothy's house. She wasn't the typical teacher shopping at Talbots -- perhaps she got some salvage from the costume rooom? I don't know. She was an odd combination of 80s-gypsy-Fame-wicked witch. Whatever that is.

So I liked this strange character, and I actually learned from her. She taught me a lot about writing for your audience and with a purpose. (Although it may seem, as you read this, that those lessons fell on deaf ears.) Honestly, she did her job so I guess overall the good outweighed the bad. But, I still haven't forgotten that she accused me of something I didn't do, and I'm not sure what reminded me of this, but decided to spend a minute setting the record straight.

The day before the test, she gave us the essay questions that would appear on the test. We'd have to pick one or two, and write. Simple enough. My brain churned, planning the whole essay in my head so I wouldn't be stuck with writer's block during the test. I did this kind of thing in college too ... preparing and researching without ever writing a thing until I knew what I'd write. Then in one fell swoop I'd bang out my 40 page term paper in 2 hours. The rest of the time I would spend editing. I always found editing to be most time-consuming.

So anyway, I'd prepared in my head and the next day took the test. Once the test started, I quickly tore a piece of paper out of my blue book, and downloaded my planned essay from my brain to the scrap paper. I edited, then when I was satisfied with my essay I copied it into my blue book and turned in my test.

Later at home, I answered the phone and it was Mrs. Ohlsson asking to speak to my mother. My mom picked up on another phone, but I lurked. Apparenty, I dropped the scrap paper with my draft essay on the ground and Mrs. Ohlsson found it.I remember feeling all of the blood rush out of my head and waves of anger running through my body as I heard her tell my mother "I'm sorry to tell you that Lisa cheated on her English exam." My mother was still asking questions when I hung up, sitting completely stunned in our kitchen, contemplating how this woman could possibly think I'd actually cheat.

I had NOT cheated on my test. In fact, I never cheated on a test my entire life. I never cared more about my test grade than the consequences of getting caught. First, it would draw attention to me (my worst fear in my high school years). Second, and maybe worse --- it would go on my Permanent Record. Yes, I was successfully brainwashed into believing all humans have a Permanent Record where every transgression is documented, following you on job interviews, dates, and everything ... for the rest of your life.

Over the next day or so, Mrs. Ohlsson gave me an "opportunity" to explain, but refused to believe me. She had no proof, but neither did I. My parents have never been the kind of people who refused to believe their little baby Disco Bubbles was infallible, but in this instance they stood by me.

All said and done, I was docked 2 letter grades for the (non)incident -- so I got a "C" on my essay. Bitch. I never forgot about that. Aside from accusing me of something I didn't do, I was equally bothered by the fact that she couldn't get her big crazy blonde head around the fact that I might actually be smart enough to have studied, planned and done a good job.

Monday, February 9, 2009

You're Quacking Me Up

The grocery store seems to be a place where odd things happen to me. Remember my Trashpicking incident? I was reminded of another incident that happened back before the holidays when I saw my neighbor riding his bike this morning .....

So I was doing my regular grocery trip amidst the massive Saturday pre-holiday crowds (because Saturday morning is a very smart time to go grocery shopping if you want to avoid a crowd, right?) when I had a bizarre series of encounters.

As I rounded the spice aisle and headed for canned tomatoes, I couldn't help but notice a tall rather gruffy looking man watching me rather intently as I walked towards him. I smiled and kept walking, but as I passed him I heard this bizarre noise. It sounded something like a foofie, but not. Whatever. Who doesn't let one out by accident in the grocery store once in a while? Keep moving.

A few aisles later as I was contemplating oyster sauce in "International", I could see him coming towards me once again. As he passed I heard the same noise, and this time I'd figured it out ...
Holy moly, this man was quacking like a duck at me!!

It didn't sound like someone pronouncing the word "quack." Noooo .... imagine the sound a duck would make if you had it pinned to the ground with your shoe on its neck applying a massive amount of pressure, but not enough to silence it. Yeah, THAT'S the noise ..... not cute and funny. (Let me clarify ..... any form of quacking at a person in the grocery store is weird if you're not actually a duck. I'm not really sure what cute funny quacking would be. Maybe if it came from a 2 year old? Probably not. I'm not too fond of most of them either.)

Anyway, I made eye contact after the second quack, and realized it's a man who lives in my neighborhood. How embarrassing that I didn't recognize him. The truth is, every time I'd ever seen him he was sitting, either on a bike or a barstool. My assumption was that he was really short, but truthfully he's quite tall. Still embarrassing -- I'd talked to him before, but definitely don't remember any duck noises.

So I went about my business, and yet a third time I encountered him somewhere around shredded cheese. This time I said "Hi George." And he quacked at me again!!! I never knew George had such a bizarre sense of humor. What the hell, I'll quack back. So I quacked back at George then proceeded to checkout.

When I got home I told Dave (amidst a lot of hysterical laughter) how George kept quacking at me in the Shop Rite, and how I'd quacked back. It was the funniest trip to the store I'd had in a long time.

Then I found out he has Tourette's and quacks all the time. I'm a friggin dummy, but how funny is that?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

I've Kept Them Afloat

Here some companies and products whose companies should have no economic woes given the level of financial support I have contributed over the years:

Bounty Paper Towels - You're lucky I'm skeeved by dishtowels.

Comcast - You may be a rip off, but a day on the couch would be nothing without you.

Coor's Light - Although we're departed friends and I can support you no longer, I'm sure I drank more than 9 lives worth during my 20s and early 30s to assure financial stability for years to come.

CVS - aka Mecca

Espositos - Now THAT'S my kinda meat market!

L'Oreal -- Forget American Express, YOU are the one I never leave home without!!!

Macy's - Without you, I'd have to move to a nudist colony. That would suck ... for everyone involved.

Nine West -- My tootsies love you best!

Wawa - So good I could fall asleep in the parking lot.

Triscuits - There has been no other since I was introduced to Rosemary and Olive Oil.

State Farm - Like a good neighbor I've been with you for the last 15 years

Aqua Net - Never far from my mind ... literally

The Japanese Auto Industry - Toyota and Acura have been shuffling me all over the country since the day I rammed my Ford Mustang into the side of a gas station with no brakes.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


As an obsessive listmaker, I can appreciate the compulsion to make lists of anything and everything. I love making a list, so much I've got them all over the place. And any topic is fair game. My friend Schue knows me so well, she gave me a list for my birthday ... and I loved it!!

So there's the obvious stuff to list: things to get at the store, party guests to invite, books to read, Christmas cards to send, errands to run. And then there are some bizarre lists I've made: names I'd rather have other than Lisa, things I wanna be when I grow up, guys an unnamed friend has slept with, all 50 states in alphabetical order (oh yeah, that's one of my own "homemade" puzzles when no crossword is available; it's not a question of can I do it, it's how fast .... nerd!)

But there's one list I don't make. Never did. And this occurred to me as I was watching "The Bachelor" the other night. (Yes, I AM embarrassed to admit I watch this.) The girls go on individual or group dates with the guy, and at some point they have conversations that are just positively painful to watch. Never in my life have I had a conversation like the ones I hear on this show:

GIRL: "So, what qualities are you looking for in a wife? (and they ALL ask this)

(Guy whips out his invisible list which is memorized just as well as my alphabetized list of 50 states, and starts rattling off adjectives)

GUY: I want a girl who is funny, smart, outgoing, a good heart .... What do you want in a guy?

GIRL: (Repeats list back, then says) "You're everything I want in a guy. You're so amazing."

GUY: "You're amazing too."

I cringe when I watch this. People don't really talk to each other like this, do they? Please tell me they don't. Of all the lists I've made (and have yet to make) in my life, the mating checklist is not one of them.

Here's a list of reasons why I don't like the mating checklist:

1.) It's stifling. People get so hung up on their checklist, they stop seeing someone for what they are, and they focus on what they're not. Yes, I've known people who have walked away from a good thing because of an unchecked box. Hmm. Let's move on.

2.) The checklist pays no regard to balance. Yeah, you may be easy going and Mr. Go-With-The-Flow. So much you're a big lazy slob with no initiative. Or you may have a great job ... but be a complete workaholic. Maybe you're funny ... but only once a year.

Point being, saying you are _____ doesn't mean you are____, or in a good way.

3.) It's stupid. Grow up.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Don't Let the Door Hit Ya ....

(nice sweater!)

Dear David & Victoria:

I hear David wants to leave the LA Galaxy and go play soccer for a team in Milan. This is probably a good idea since no one in this country really pays any attention to Major League Soccer anyway. Also, can you please take Tom and Katie with you?

And Vickie, no more come backs please. Your "band" sucked the first time around and you can't sing.



Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Vegas Anyone?

I think companies that are taking bailout money should have to account for every single penny of the handout they are accepting. Now, this is hardly a unique or genius opinion, but after hearing two stories on this morning's news I'm a little bit livid.

Wells Fargo took a $25 BILLION handout, and guess what they are -- rather, WERE -- planning to do with it? I'll tell you: They had planned to host a 2 night retreat in Vegas for 40 people. Rooms were booked at both the Wynn and the Encore hotels. Why? Because the employee recognition conference is a tradition and an important part of their culture. Now I'm not saying they shouldn't continue to recognize employees, but a freebie to the Wynn?? Couldn't they at least stay at Circus Circus, or something? Or better yet, do what my company does and skip the trip and give them free ice cream or a $5 coupon for lunch at the cafeteria. I mean, seriously. How can these people sleep at night? They're using my money and yours to book vacations. I want to use my money to book MY vacation!

As an aside and rather ironically, I was actually the benefactor of one of the lavish employee recognition trips sponsored by Wells Fargo, years ago. My sister won an employee recognition award, and they sent her and a guest (moi) on a 4 day cruise to the Bahamas. All expenses paid ... gifts ... off shore excursions .... posh posh posh.

Anyway, the second company I wanna punch in the face this morning is Citigroup. They took $35.6 BILLION (I keep capitalizing that word because it's so huge I can hardly even fathom it) in taxpayer money and guess what they had planned to do with $400MILLION of it? Again, I'll save you the research time. They were going to buy naming rights to the Mets' stadium.

Thankfully, both of these fiscally irresponsible giants have been shamed into "reconsidering" their use of bailout money. But, I can't help wondering what else is going on that we don't know about. Personally, I think any company that takes a bailout should have to detail how they plan to use all of the money before they get the check ... then, they should be required full disclosure of all accounting once they receive it. There should be reviewers assigned to monitor everything they're doing for a period of time going forward. Any inappropriate use of funds should carry severe civil and criminal penalties for the executive decision-makers.

I'm sorry, but how else do you hold them accountable to exercise appropriate discretion? Apparently, the honor system ain't working.

And no more bailouts until appropriate controls are in place.